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psychoceramics: Kook-bashing.

>Now I think I was wrong. Letting people bash science and spew nonsense as
>fact degrades us all and over time gives creedence to the next loonie that
>takes one step further out of reality. Read the Skeptical Inquirer,

I do.  I learn a lot of useful material from it.  And I often laugh at it as
well.  Frankly, I think several of the more prominent skeptics rank almost
as highly as our Plutonium-oriented friend in kookery, if in a fashion which
is much more subtle (and, at least, scientifically accurate for the most

For a perfect, subtle example: read _The Demon-Haunted World_ and look up
Sagan's "baloney detection kit" (a kit introduced to me in high school by a
teacher as a "bullshit detection kit"...).  In my edition the 'kit is on
page 210.  Now apply Sagan's own baloney detection kit to SETI, one of
Sagan's pet projects.  Count the failures.  In a quick pass I found:
1) Arguments from authority.  Most SETI fans, if you challenge their ideas,
will reverentially speak of the Great Carl Sagan and how he supports SETI,
ironically unaware that Carl Sagan Himself (sic) disapproves of this very
argument form.
2) Falsifiability.  SETI has no negative condition.  If, after an exhaustive
search of the sky using existing SETI facilities we don't find anything,
there is SETI II and METI (I think those are the names -- I'll hunt further
if needed) lurking in the wings for even more comprehensive sweep of the
sky.  At no point can anyone say "this experiment has failed -- there is no
extra-terrestrial 'radio civilization' in our galaxy".  Why?  Because the
instant response will be "we just need more sensitive equipment -- they're
out there".

Other failures include the following (which I won't expand upon unless asked
to):  lacking multiple hypotheses, attachment to personal hypotheses,
argument from adverse consequences (in extreme cases of SETI-philes),
special pleading, begging the question.

Given that one of the most prominent (former) skeptics features a toolkit
which overturns his own pet project (obsession?), just how different are
skeptics from our kooks here?