Date: Mon Aug 02 1993 02:24:26 UFO - Don, you mentioned a distinction, extremely popular i
Date: Mon Aug 02 1993 02:24:26
From: Rick Moen @ 916/1008
Don, you mentioned a distinction, extremely popular in this echo,
between skeptics and debunkers. I really neither agree nor disagree,
but thought I might make a couple of comments.
The assigned meaning and connotations of the word "debunker" as used
here is common among UFO buffs and paranormal buffs, but you should
not assume _others_ to mean it the same way.
The common-sense meaning of "debunker" is one who _dispells bunk_ (short
for bunkum, which comes from Buncombe County, NC [?], because of a
congressman who once delayed vital legislation with inane speeches,
and then defended them on grounds that he did it "for Buncombe").
Now, I see nothing against dispelling bunk. I would not call anyone
wicked for doing it, certainly.
Anyhow, let's ignore ordinary usage for a moment, and re-focus on the
sense of the term common in this echo. What it comes down to is
classifying the speaker according to his _motives_. If you think he
has one set of motives, you call him a skeptic. If others, you label
him a debunker.
OK, so what does this accomplish? You've taken your opinions on a
third party's motives, and clothed them in a couple of words. Do
you now know anything new? No. Has the state of UFOlogy been
advanced or impeded as much as an inch? Nope.
My own perspective is that there are simply people who say various
_things_. Those things either have merit, or they don't. It really
doesn't ultimately matter whether those people are classified as
"debunkers", "skeptics", "believers", or whatever. I'm far more
interested in whether what they say has merit. That's why I mentioned
that I neither agree nor disagree with what you said.
Please note that I've seen all of these terms and similar ones used
(not by you) as a slightly gentrified form of name-calling. "X is a
skeptic." "No, X is just a debunker, and so should not be listened to."
I'm not interested in hearing why X _shouldn't be listened to_, but
rather in whether something particular he said is the straight stuff or
not. That question isn't properly decided by taking a poll on the man's
character, but rather on examining what he says to see if it's _so_ or
In short, call people whatever you like -- it makes little difference
to me whether they're "skeptics", "debunkers", or "spartan sybarites".
Just don't use this head game to rationalise avoiding exposure to views
you (again, I certainly don't mean you personally) don't want to hear.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank