Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
One of the oldest myths in Ufology is the opposition between Cover-Up and Disclosure. If you do not belong to the UFO subculture, most probably will not know what these people are talking about.
Basically, those who presumably know about the presence of Extraterrestrial civilizations in our planet and secret ET contacts with the government demand the "powers that be" to end the cover up.
There is a small trick here: IF the cosmic pundits are right, cover up must include not only the governments but the whole scientific establishment. So, the mystery here is how they manage to keep such thing secret.
If the EXOcharlatans are right and there is aboriginal and human life in Mars, and cities and monuments and big animals, such a cover-up is impossible in this era of transparency and whistleblowers.
So, when some of these Disclosure friends tell you that the massive cover-up is working, they think that you are not only an ignorant but unable to understand the difference between the real and the imaginary.
Truth is that they have nothing more than words. Not a single, satisfactory evidence to proof what they say it's true.
Let's put things in context: these EXOfantasists appeal to a relatively small group of people. They know well that for the big media, the UFO phenomenon is trivia.
But perhaps, behind the usual nonsense presented as truth, and behind the New Age rhetoric of the self proclaimed contactees, there is a serious personal problem. Some of these fantasists are intelligent and cultured individuals. What happens to them IF they do not believe in what they say?
If this is so, sooner or later they will pay a big price in mental health, self-respect and social recognition.
Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.
The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Dissonance normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions.
The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
I think however that in some cases, the contradictions are destructive enough and become a threat.
In other words the ultimate price to pay for a life of nonsense can be insanity.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Most conspiracy theories don't make sense nor withstand any scrutiny. They usually involve operations so immense that it's basically impossible for them to be kept secret, and all the proof given by conspiracy theorists usually have a very simple explanation (usually much simpler than the explanation given by the theorists).
Yet conspiracy theories are very popular and appealing. Even when they don't make sense and there's just no proof, many people still believe them. Why?
One big reason for this is that some conspiracy theorists are clever. They use psychology to make their theories sound more plausible. They appeal to certain psychological phenomena which make people to tend to believe them. However, these psychological tricks are nothing more than logical fallacies. They are simply so well disguised that many people can't see them for what they are.
Here are some typical logical fallacies used by conspiracy theorists:
Appeal to the "bandwagon effect"
The so-called "bandwagon effect" is a psychological phenomenon where people are eager to believe things if most of the people around them believe that too. Sometimes that thing is true and there's no harm, but sometimes it's a misconception, urban legend or, in this case, an unfounded conspiracy theory, in which case the "bandwagon effect" bypasses logical thinking for the worse.
The most typical form of appealing to the bandwagon effect is to say something along the lines of "30% of Americans doubt that..." or "30% of Americans don't believe the official story". This is also called an argumentum ad populum, which is a logical fallacy.
Of course that kind of sentence in the beginning of a conspiracy theory doesn't make any sense. It doesn't prove anything relevant. It's not like the theory becomes more true if more people believe in it.
Also the percentage itself is always very dubious. It may be completely fabricated or exaggerated by interpreting the poll results conveniently (eg. one easy way for bumping up the percentage is to interpret all people who didn't answer or who didn't know what to say as "doubting the official story"). Even if it was a completely genuine number, it would still not be proof of anything else than that there's a certain amount of gullible people in the world.
That kind of sentence is not proof of anything, yet it's one of the most used sentences in conspiracy theories. It tries to appeal to the bandwagon effect. It's effectively saying: "Already this many people doubt the official story, and the numbers are increasing. Are you going to be left alone believing the official story?"
Appeal to rebellion
Conspiracy theories in general, and the "n% of people doubt the story" claims in particular, also appeal to a sense of rebellion in people.
As Wikipedia puts it, "a rebellion is, in the most general sense, a refusal to accept authority."
People don't want to be sheep who are patronized by authority and told what they have to do and how they have to think. People usually distrust authorities and many believe that authorities are selfish and abuse people for their own benefit. This is an extremely fertile ground for conspiracy theories.
This is so ingrained in people that a sentence like "the official story" has basically become a synonym for "a coverup/lie". Whenever "the official story" is mentioned, it immediately makes people think that it's some kind of coverup, something not true.
Conspiracy theorists are masters at abusing this psyhcological phenomenon for their advantage. They basically insinuate that "if you believe the official story then you are gullible because you are being lied to". They want to make it feel that doubting the original story is a sign of intelligence and logical thinking. However, believing a conspiracy theory usually shows, quite ironically, a great lack of logical thinking.
This is an actual quote from a JFK assassination conspiracy theory website. It's almost as hilarious as it is contradictory:
In the end, you have to decide for yourself what to believe. But don't just believe what the U.S. Government tells you!
(In other words, believe anything you want except the official story!)
"Shotgun argumentation" is a metaphor from real life: It's much easier to hunt a rabbit with a shotgun than with a rifle. This is because a rifle only fires one bullet and there's a high probability of a miss. A shotgun, however, fires tens or even hundreds of small pellets, and the probability of at least one of them hitting the rabbit is quite high.
Shotgun argumentation has the same basic idea: The more small arguments or "evidence" you present in favor of some claim, the higher the probability that someone will believe you regardless of how ridiculous those arguments are. There are two reasons for this:
Firstly, just the sheer amount of arguments or "evidence" may be enough to convince someone that something strange is going on. The idea is basically: "There is this much evidence against the official story, there must be something wrong with it." One or two pieces of "evidence" may not be enough to convince anyone, but collect a set of a couple of hundreds of pieces of "evidence" and it immediately starts being more believable.
Of course the fallacy here is that the amount of "evidence" is in no way proof of anything. The vast majority, and usually all of this "evidence" is easily explainable and just patently false. There may be a few points which may be more difficult to explain, but they alone wouldn't be so convincing.
Secondly, and more closely related to the shotgun metaphor : The more arguments or individual pieces of "evidence" you have, the higher the probability that at least some of them will convince someone. Someone might not get convinced by most of the arguments, but among them there may be one or a few which sounds so plausible to him that he is then convinced. Thus one or a few of the "pellets" hit the "rabbit" and killed it: Mission accomplished.
I have a concrete example of this: I had a friend who is academically educated, a MSc, and doing research work (relating to computer science) at a university. He is rational, intelligent and well-educated.
Yet still this person, at least some years ago, completely believed the Moon hoax theory. Why? He said to me quite explicitly that there was one thing that convinced him: The flag moving after it had been planted on the ground.
One of the pellets had hit the rabbit and killed it. The shotgun argumentation had been successful.
If even highly-educated academic people can fall for such "evidence" (which is easily explained), how more easily are more "regular" people going to believe the sheer amount of them? Sadly, quite a lot more easily.
Most conspiracy theorists continue to present the same old tired arguments which are very easy to prove wrong. They need all those arguments, no matter how ridiculous, for their shotgun argumentation tactics to work.
Straw man argumentation
A "straw man argument" is the process of taking an argument of the opponent, distorting it or taking it out of context so that it basically changes meaning, and then ridiculing it in order to make the opponent look bad.
For example, a conspiracy theorist may say something like: "Sceptics argue that stars are too faint to see in space (which is why there are no stars in photographs), yet astronauts said that they could see stars."
This is a perfect example of a straw man argument. That's taking an argument completely out of context and changing its meaning.
It's actually a bit unfortunate that many debunking sites use the sentence "the stars are too faint to be seen" when explaining the lack of stars in photographs. That sentence, while in its context not false, is confusing and misleading. It's trying to put in simple words a more technical explanation (which usually follows). Unfortunately, it's too simplistic and good material for straw man arguments. I wish debunkers stopped using simplistic sentences like that one.
(The real explanation for the lacking stars is, of course, related to the exposure time and shutter aperture of the cameras, which were set to photograph the Moon surface illuminated by direct sunlight. The stars are not bright enough for such short exposure times. If the cameras had been set up to photograph the stars, the lunar surface would have been completely overexposed. This is basic photography.)
Another straw man, still related to stars, which I have seen is simply "they claim that you can't see stars in space" (referring to some kind of notion that stars are too small and far away to be seen directly, and that they are visible from Earth only because the atmosphere scatters their light making them look bigger). This is simply a lie. I don't think any debunker has ever said that a person cannot see stars in space. (Even if someone has, he is obviously wrong. However, that's irrelevant to whether the explanation for the lack of stars is wrong or not.)
Citing inexistent sources
There's a very common bad habit among the majority of people: They believe that credible sources have said/written whatever someone claims they have said or written. Even worse, most people believe that a source is credible or even exists just because someone claims that it is credible and exists. People almost never check that the source exists, that it's a credible source and that it has indeed said what was claimed.
Conspiracy theorists know this and thus abuse it to the maximum. Sometimes they fabricate sources or stories, and sometimes they just cite nameless sources (using expressions like "experts in the field", "most astronomers", etc).
This is an actual quote from the same JFK assassination conspiracy theory website as earlier:
Scientists examined the Zapruder film. They found that, while most of it looks completely genuine, some of the images are impossible. They violate the laws of physics. They could not have come from Zapruder's home movie camera.
Needless to say, the web page does not give any references or sources, or any other indication of who these unnamed "scientists" might be or what their credentials are. (My personal guess is that whenever the website uses the word "scientist" or "researcher", it refers to other conspiracy theorists who have no actual education and competence on the required fields of science, and who are, like all such conspiracy theorists, just seeing what they want to see.)
Citing sources which are wrong
A common tactic of conspiracy theorists is to take statements by credible persons or newspaper articles which support the conspiracy theory and present these statements or articles as if they were the truth. If a later article in the same newspaper corrects the mistake in the earlier article or if the person who made the statement later says that he was wrong or quoted out of context (ie. he didn't mean what people thought he was meaning), conspiracy theorists happily ignore them.
Since people seldom check the sources, they will believe that the statement or newspaper article is the only thing that person or newspaper has said about the subject.
This is closely related to (and often overlaps with) the concept of quote mining (which is the practice of carefully selecting small quotes, which are often taken completely out of context, from a vast selection of material, in such a way that these individual quotes seem to support the conspiracy theory).
Sometimes that source is not credible (because it's just another conspiracy theorist) but people have little means of knowing this.
Cherry-picking is more a deliberate act of deception than a logical fallacy, but nevertheless an extremely common tactic.
Cherry-picking happens when someone deliberately selects from a wide variety of material only those items which support the conspiracy theory, while ignoring and discarding those which don't. When this carefully chosen selection of material is then presented as a whole, it easily misleads people into thinking that the conspiracy theory is supported by evidence.
This is an especially popular tactic for the 9/11 conspiracy theorists: They will only choose those published photographs which support their claims, while outright ignoring those which don't. The Loose Change "documentary" is quite infamous for doing this, and pulling it out rather convincingly.
The major problem with this is, of course, that it's pure deception: The viewer is intentionally given only carefully selected material, while leaving out the parts which would contradict the conspiracy theory. This is a deliberate act. The conspiracy theorists cannot claim honesty while doing clear cherry-picking.
Just one example: There's a big electrical transformer box outside the Pentagon which was badly damaged by the plane before it hit the building. It's impossible for that box to get that damage if the building was hit by a missile, as claimed by conspiracy theorists (the missile would have exploded when hitting the box, several tens of meters away from the building). Conspiracy theorists will usually avoid using any photographs which show the damaged transformer box because it contradicts their theory. They are doing this deliberately. They cannot claim honesty while doing this.
Argument from authority
Scientists are human, and thus imperfect and fallible. Individual scientists can be dead wrong, make the wrong claims and even be deceived into believing falsities. Being a scientist does not give a human being some kind of magic power to resist all deceptions and delusions, to see through all tricks and fallacies and to always know the truth and discard what is false.
But science does not stand on individual scientists, for this exact reason. This is precisely why the scientific process requires so-called peer reviews. One scientist can be wrong, ten scientists can be wrong, and even a hundred scientists can be wrong, but when their claims are peer-reviewed and studied by the whole scientific community, the likelihood of the falsities not being caught decreases dramatically. It's very likely that someone somewhere is going to object and to raise questions if there's something wrong with a claim, and this will raise the consciousness of the whole community. Either the objections are dealt with and explained, or the credibility of the claim gets compromised. A claim does not become accepted by the scientific community unless it passes the peer reviewing test. And this is why science works. It does not rely on individuals, but on the whole.
Sometimes some individual scientists can be deceived into believing a conspiracy theory. As said, scientists do not have any magical force that keeps them from being deceived. Due to their education the likelihood might be slightly lower than with the average person, but in no way is it completely removed. Scientists can and do get deceived by falsities.
Thus sometimes the conspiracy theorists will convince some PhD or other such person of high education and/or high authority, and if this person becomes vocal enough, the conspiracy theorists will then use him as an argument pro the conspiracy. It can be rather convincing if conspiracy theorists can say "numerous scientists agree that the official explanation cannot be true, including (insert some names here)".
However, this is a fallacy named argument from authority. Just because a PhD makes a claim doesn't make it true. Even if a hundred PhD's make that claim. It doesn't even make it any more credible.
As said, individual scientists can get deceived and deluded. However, as long as their claims do not pass the peer review process, their claims are worth nothing from a scientific point of view.
Argument from ignorance
In this fallacy the word "ignorance" is not an insult, but refers to the meaning of "not knowing something".
Simply put, argument from ignorance happens when something with no apparent explanation is pointed out (for example in a photograph), and since there's no explanation, it's presented as evidence of foul play (eg. that the photograph has been manipulated).
This can be seen as somewhat related to cherry-picking: The conspiracy theorist will point out something in the source material or the accounts of the original event which is not easy to immediately explain. A viewer with no experience nor expertise on the subject matter might be unable to come up with an explanation, or to identify the artifact/phenomenon. The conspiracy theorist then abuses this to claim that the unexplained artifact or phenomenon is evidence of fakery or deception.
Of course this is a fallacy. Nothing can be deduced from an unexplained phenomenon or artifact. As long as you don't know what it is, you can't take it as evidence of anything.
(In most cases such things have a quite simple and logical explanation; it's just that in order to figure it out, you need to have the proper experience on the subject, or alternatively to have someone with experience explain it to you. After that it becomes quite self-evident. It's a bit like a magic trick: When you see it, you can't explain how it works, but when someone explains it to you, it often is outright disappointingly simple.)
It might sound rather self-evident when explained like this, but people still get fooled in an actual situation.
Argument from (personal) incredulity
In its most basic and bare-bones from, argument from incredulity takes the form of "I can't even begin to imagine how this can work / be possible, hence it must be fake". This is a variation or subset of the argument from ignorance. Of course conspiracy theorists don't state the argument so blatantly, but use much subtler expressions.
Example: Some (although not all) Moon Landing Hoax conspiracy theorists state that the Moon Lander could have not taken off from the surface of the Moon, because a rocket on its bottom side would have made it rotate wildly and randomly. In essence what the conspiracy theorist is saying is "I don't understand how rocketry can work, hence this must be fake", and trying to convince the reader of the same.
The problem of basic rocketry (ie. how a rocket with a propulsion system at its back end can maintain stability and fly straight) is indeed quite a complex and difficult one (which is where the colloquial term "rocket science", meaning something extremely complicated and difficult, comes from), but it was solved in the 1920's and 30's. This isn't even something you have to understand or even take on faith: It's something you can see with your own eyes (unless you believe all the videos you have ever seen of missiles and rockets are fake).
Pareidolia is also not a logical fallacy per se, but more a fallacy of perception.
Pareidolia is, basically, the phenomenon which happens when we perceive recognizable patterns in randomness, even though the patterns really aren't there. For example, random blotches of paint might look like a face, or random noise might sound like a spoken word (or even a full sentence).
Pareidolia is a side effect of pattern recognition in our brain. Our visual and auditory perception is heavily based on pattern recognition. It's what helps us understanding spoken languages, even if it's spoken by different people with different voices, at different speeds and with different accents. It's what helps us recognizing objects even if they have a slightly different shape or coloring which we have never seen before. It's what helps us recognize people and differentiate them from each other. It's what helps us reading written text at amazing speeds by simply scanning the written lines visually (you are doing precisely that right now). In fact, we could probably not even survive without pattern recognition.
This pattern recognition is also heavily based on experience: We tend to recognize things like shapes and sounds when we have previous experience from similar shapes and sounds. Also the context helps us in this pattern recognition, often very significantly. When we recognize the context, we tend to expect certain things, which in turn helps us making the pattern recognition more easily and faster. For example, if you open a book, you already expect to see text inside, and you are already prepared to recognize it. In a context which is completely unrelated to written text (for a completely random example, if you are examining your fingernails) you are not expecting to see text, and thus you don't recognize it as easily.
Pareidolia happens when our brain recognizes, or thinks it recognizes, patterns where there may be only randomness, or in places which are not random per se, but completely unrelated to this purported "pattern".
As noted, pareidolia is greatly helped if we are expecting to see a certain pattern. This predisposes our brain to try to recognize that exact thing, making it easier.
This is the very idea in so-called backmasking: Playing a sound, for example a song, backwards and then recognizing something in the garbled sounds that result from this. When we are not expecting anything in particular, we usually only hear garbled noises. However, if someone tells us what we should expect, we immediately "recognize" it.
However, we are just fooling our own pattern recognition system into perceiving something which isn't really there. If someone else is told to expect a slightly similar-sounding, but different message, that other person is very probably going to hear that. You and that other person are both being mislead by playing with the pattern recognition capabilities of your brain.
Conspiracy theorists love abusing pareidolia. They will make people see patterns where there are none, and people will be fooled into believing that the patterns really are there, and thus are proof of something.
Date: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM
Subject: Truth in Mephisto's words.
Dear Friends, perhaps you will find this unusual, but for me, and old priest, there is no better definition of Hell that the one given here by Mephistopheles to Dr. Faustus in Christopher Marlowe's version of this opus.
So, my advice is this: read carefully what Mephisto says, because there is more truth in his words that in the whole corpus of Demonology.
MEPHIST. Now, Faustus, ask what thou wilt.
FAUSTUS. First will I question with thee about hell.
Tell me, where is the place that men call hell?
MEPHIST. Under the heavens.
FAUSTUS. Ay, but whereabout?
MEPHIST. Within the bowels of these elements,
Where we are tortur'd and remain forever:
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place; for where we are is hell,
And where hell is, there must we ever be:
And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
FAUSTUS. Come, I think hell's a fable.
MEPHIST. Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind.
FAUSTUS. Why, think'st thou, then, that Faustus shall be damn'd?
MEPHIST. Ay, of necessity, for here's the scroll
Wherein thou hast given thy soul to Lucifer.
Father O'Donnell J.P
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Date: Sun, Aug 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Subject: David Wilcock Exposed -
On the contrary, David Wilcock is not a fresh face in the "show" but an experienced charlatan. In the year 2000 David was trying to sell the "ascension secrets" but he failed, because his prophesies never worked, and particularly because the expected Y2K meltdown never happened.
These failures forced the impostor to shut down for a while. Wilcock try his hand in Virginia Beach presenting himself as the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, but the Edgar Cayce Foundation kicks him out.
David Wilcock moved to Kentuky where Carla Rueckert was channeling Ra and his other book about The Law of One.
Wilcock tried again to ride a horse he didn't owned. In the first channelings, Ra assured that he would speak only through Carla.
The channeler of course threw Wilcock out and the failed prophet went into a convenient period of "vacations" . By the way he wrote a couple of short books that no publisher wanted to touch. These are the books he tries to sell in his site. The pathetic snake oil seller tried to do dream reading in the internet but his readings were so disastrous that everybody was asking for refund.
After some tours with the ET researcher Scott Madelker, things went wrong again and Scott kicked him out of the curb.
Now the pathetic individual is trying his hand with the Divine Cosmos thing. There was already a scandal with a faked contact with ET in the British hosted Olympiads.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
The closest star, except our Sun, is so far away from Earth that travel between the two would take more than a human lifetime. The fact that it takes our Sun about 200 million years to revolve once around the Milky Way gives one a glimpse of the perspective we have to take of interstellar travel. We are 500 light-seconds from the sun. The next nearest star to Earth's sun (Alpha Centauri) is about 4 light-years away. That might sound close, but it is actually something like 24 trillion miles away. Even traveling at one million miles an hour, it would take more than 2,500 years to get there. (Or to come from there.) To get there in twenty-five years would require traveling at more than 100 million miles an hour for the entire trip.
Our spacecraft, Voyager travels at about 40,000 miles an hour and would take 70,000 years to get to Alpha Centauri.
Perhaps there are beings who can travel at very fast speeds and have the technology and the raw materials to build vessels that can travel at near the speed of light or greater. Have such beings come here to abduct people for some experiment?
The ET=abductions believers think that the answer is YES and some of these researchers suggest the following agenda:
The Aliens are breading hybrids and putting these hybrids between us, pure humans. This plan will end in the extraterrestrial control of our planet.
Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Mack (1929-2004), wrote a couple of books about patients who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Many of Mack's patients had been referred to him by Hopkins a believer.)
Dr. Mack claimed that his psychiatric patients were not mentally ill and that he could think of no better explanation for their stories than that they were true. However, until this moment nobody produced any physical evidence that abductions have occurred, it seems more reasonable to believe that Dr. Mack and his patients were deluded. But there is something else.
Dr. Mack received a $200,000 advance for his first book on alien abductions. He won the support of Laurence Rockefeller who also funded Mack's non-profit research organization for four consecutive years at $250,000 per year.
So, if you believe in alien abductions your belief is base on faith. Same happens if you believe in angels or demons.
Let us recognize however, that Dr. John Mack was a brilliant activist against nuclear arsenals, and a Pulitzer Prize winner.
DR. JOHN MACK DEATH
On Monday, September 27, 2004 while in London to lecture at a T. E. Lawrence Society-sponsored conference, Mack was killed by a drunken driver heading west on Totteridge Lane. He was walking home alone, after a dinner with friends, when he was struck at 11:25 p.m. near the junction of Totteridge Lane and Longland Drive. He lost consciousness at the scene of the accident and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The driver was arrested at the scene, and later entered a plea of guilty by careless driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. Mack's family requested leniency for the suspect in a letter to the Wood Green Crown Court. "Although this was a tragic event for our family," the letter reads, "we feel [the accused's] behavior was neither malicious nor intentional, and we have no ill will toward him since we learned of the circumstances of the collision."
Monday, August 13, 2012
CARL SAGAN'S BALONEY DETECTION KIT
Based on the book The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:
- Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts
- Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
- Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no "authorities").
- Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
- Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours.
- Quantify, wherever possible.
- If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.
- "Occam's razor" - if there are two hypothesis that explain the data equally well choose the simpler.
- Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
Additional issues are
- Conduct control experiments - especially "double blind" experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.
- Check for confounding factors - separate the variables.
Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric
- Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the argument.
- Argument from "authority".
- Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavourable" decision).
- Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
- Special pleading (typically referring to god's will).
- Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).
- Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).
- Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
- Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)
- Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers thriftily ignored because they are not "proved").
- Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic falls down.
- Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after so it was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.
- Meaningless question ("what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
- Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the "other side" look worse than it really is).
- Short-term v. long-term - a subset of excluded middle ("why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?").
- Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle - unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile).
- Confusion of correlation and causation.
- Straw man - caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack..
- Suppressed evidence or half-truths.
- Weasel words - for example, use of euphemisms for war such as "police action" to get around limitations on Presidential powers. "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public"
Above all - read the book! (Sagan's book, of course,)