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geoffkait
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Zen and the Art of Debunkery

What follows is an excerpt from Zen and the Art of Debunkery that seems to apply pretty well to audiophiles, no?

Zen and art of Debunkery

Like all systems of truth seeking, science, properly conducted, has a profoundly expansive, liberating impulse at its core. This "Zen" in the heart of science is revealed when the practitioner sets aside arbitrary beliefs and cultural preconceptions, and approaches the nature of things with "beginner's mind." When this is done, reality can speak freshly and freely, and can be heard more clearly. Appropriate testing and objective validation can--indeed, *must*--come later.

Seeing with humility, curiosity and fresh eyes was once the main point of science. But today it is often a different story. As the scientific enterprise has been bent toward exploitation, institutionalization, hyperspecialization and new orthodoxy, it has increasingly preoccupied itself with disconnected facts in a psychological, social and ecological vacuum. So disconnected has official science become from the greater scheme of things, that it tends to deny or disregard entire domains of reality and to satisfy itself with reducing all of life and consciousness to a dead physics.

As the millennium turns, science seems in many ways to be treading the weary path of the religions it presumed to replace. Where free, dispassionate inquiry once reigned, emotions now run high in the defense of a fundamentalized "scientific truth." As anomalies mount up beneath a sea of denial, defenders of the Faith and the Kingdom cling with increasing self-righteousness to the hull of a sinking paradigm. Faced with provocative evidence of things undreamt of in their philosophy, many otherwise mature scientists revert to a kind of skeptical infantilism characterized by blind faith in the absoluteness of the familiar. Small wonder, then, that so many promising fields of inquiry remain shrouded in superstition, ignorance, denial, disinformation, taboo . . . and debunkery.

• Put on the right face. Cultivate a condescending air certifying that your personal opinions are backed by the full faith and credit of God. Adopting a disdainful, upper-class manner is optional but highly recommended.

• Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as "ridiculous," "trivial," "crackpot," or "bunk," in a manner that purports to carry the full force of scientific authority.

• Keep your arguments as abstract and theoretical as possible. This will send the message that accepted theory overrides any actual evidence that might challenge it -- and that therefore no such evidence is worth examining.

• By every indirect means at your disposal imply that science is powerless to police itself against fraud and misperception, and that only self-appointed vigilantism can save it from itself.

• Portray science not as an open-ended process of discovery but as a pre-emptive holy war against invading hordes of quackery-spouting infidels. Since in war the ends justify the means, you may fudge, stretch or violate the scientific method, or even omit it entirely, in the name of defending it.

• Reinforce the popular fiction that our scientific knowledge is complete and finished. Do this by asserting that "if such-and-such discovery were legitimate, then surely we would already know about it!"

• Deny the possibility of phenomena for which no plausible explanations have been advanced. Ignore such contrary examples as the existence of disease prior to the discovery of microbes, the sun's copious production of energy long before the discovery of nuclear fusion, and the stubborn persistence of gravity despite our stubborn ignorance of its inner workings.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

chuckles304
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Applies marvelously well to

Applies marvelously well to global warming supporters.

Allen Fant
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Say it isn't so....

Say it isn't so....

geoffkait
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Who are the skeptics?
chuckles304 wrote:

Applies marvelously well to global warming supporters.

I suspect it could also apply - or perhaps more appropriately apply - to the Global Warming skeptics. The supporters actually aren't skeptics. But wouldn't an even better example be UFO skeptics? Or more to the point, the Tice Clock skeptics? Or the Intelligent Chip skeptics?

Cheers,

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

May Belt
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An excellent list, Geoff

An excellent and descriptive list, Geoff, of many people’s reactions.

These reactions only occur when people have been presented with descriptions of other people’s observations !! If other people did not observe and report phenomena, then there would be nothing to ‘debunk’. Both Michael G and I use the same sentence – “That one can tell, from the sentences they use, exactly where someone is in the level of what have been their experiences”.

As an example (and this is not meant as a criticism but purely as an example of what I mean). In other words, if one has not actually had the experience, then the following is a typical response.
It is the sentence someone made in a separate posting :-

>>> “Combined with physics, and my knowledge of both optics and analogue and digital systems design and signal theory, I can make the following theoretical observation:
Applying any treatment to a CD or substituting any expensive DIGITAL cabling I would contend has absolutely zero effect on the sound. “ <<<

I use that as an example because ONCE one HAS experienced one ‘treatment’ or another applied to a CD change the sound from that CD, then one can never again use the sentence I have just quoted.

One such CD ‘treatment’ I will refer to was described in an article by Robert Harley in the October 1990 issue of Stereophile entitled “The Cryogenic Compact Disc”. In my opinion this was one of the most significant articles in the history of audio – because it challenged the very background from which the particular poster (and so many others) produced his sentence (and from which background he has based his thinking) - >>> “Combined with physics, and my knowledge of both optics and analogue and digital systems design and signal theory, I can make the following theoretical observation. Applying any treatment to a CD I would contend has absolutely zero effect on the sound” <<<.

This is not an attack of that person in any way !! It is just that their sentence was SOOOOO typical an example of many people’s reactions to other’s observations !!

Perhaps John Atkinson could provide a link to the article I refer to as I, personally, do not have the computer skill to do so ?

Regards,
May Belt,
PWB Electronics.

geoffkait
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Link to Article in Stereophile

The link to the Robert Harley article in As we See It is

http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/822/index.html

Cheerios,

Geoff Kait
Machina Dramatica

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More good stuff from The Art of Debunkey + Pop Quiz

More good stuff. And a POP QUIZ. Pearl Harbor, sneak attack!

More from Debunkery

• Although science is not supposed to tolerate vague or double standards, always insist that unconventional phenomena must be judged by a separate, yet ill-defined, set of scientific rules. Do this by declaring that "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence!" -- but take care never to specify where the "ordinary" ends and the "extraordinary" begins, or who gets to draw the line. This will allow you to manufacture an infinitely receding horizon that keeps "extraordinary" evidence just out of reach at any point in time.

• In the same manner, insist on classes of evidence that are impossible to obtain. For example, declare that unidentified aerial phenomena may be considered real only if we can bring them into laboratories to strike them with hammers and analyze their physical properties. Disregard the accomplishments of the inferential sciences -- astronomy, for example -- which gets on just fine without bringing actual planets, stars, galaxies and black holes into its labs and striking them with hammers.

POP QUIZ - Does anybody see the connection between the next paragraphs and one of the regulars here? Answer at 11.

• Assert that "investigations are ongoing, and are expected to reveal nothing out of the ordinary."

• Practice debunkery-by-association. Lump together all phenomena popularly deemed unorthodox and suggest that their proponents and researchers speak with a single voice. In this way you can indiscriminately drag material across disciplinary lines or from one case to another to support your views as needed. For example, if a claim having some superficial similarity to the one at hand has been (or is popularly assumed to have been) exposed as fraudulent, cite it as if it were an appropriate example. Then put on a gloating smile, lean back in your armchair and calmly say, "I rest my case."

• At every opportunity invoke the unassailability of cold logic. Ignore the fact that logic, however watertight, can never be more true or useful than the unconscious assumptions and fudged data underlying its application.

• Keep an arsenal of scientistic buzzwords at the tip of your tongue. So armed, you can effortlessly explain away even the most firmly acknowledged mysteries with a few impressive phrases and a wave of your hand. For example, the undeniable but incomprehensible facts of animal migration may be definitively ascribed to a "biological spatio-temporal vector-navigation program." Likewise, you may call upon such quasi-substantial conceptual conveniences as "biological clock," "self-organization" and "cellular memory" to deflate any suggestion that orthodox science may lack satisfactory explanations for intractably puzzling phenomena.

• Establish a crusading "Scientific Truth Foundation" staffed and funded by a hive of fawning acolytes. Then purport to offer a million-dollar reward to anyone who can repeatably demonstrate a paranormal phenomenon. Set the bar for paranormality nowhere in particular. Set the bar for repeatability at a "generous" 98%, safely ensuring that even normal scientific studies that demand a mere preponderance of evidence, or average results above chance, would fail to qualify for the prize. Should someone actually meet or exceed your criteria you can effortlessly dismiss their claim by pointing out that they'd just proven the phenomenon to be perfectly normal!

Cheerios,

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

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