Skepticism vs Debunking

Donald Michael Kraig has a great article on the difference between skeptic and debunkers:

True skepticism is important in the practice of magick. If a magician is not a true skeptic, a mage might become a victim of his or her fantasies and imagination. A single successful result after performing a ritual might just be chance and not the result of magick at all. Repeated successful results after performing magick is indicative of the effectiveness of your magick.

A debunker, on the other hand, simply denies something. Debunkers will work hard and come up with all sorts of bizarre concepts and outright lies to defend their current beliefs. An example of this is the famous “sTARBABY” incident as reported originally in FATE magazine. Trying to disprove the reality of one aspect of astrology, some researchers repeatedly decreased the size of the sample until they got the results they desired. When this was revealed it changed the face of debunking, splitting CSICOP and ensuring that they would never officially fund “research” again.

Why do debunkers behave this way? I contend that it’s because they have forgotten the ideals of British philosopher Herbert Spencer who wrote:

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

I would further say that debunkers behave like deeply religious believers such as those who have claimed that the reason dinosaurs are not alive today is because they didn’t get on Noah’s Ark! The “religion” debunkers believe in is actually a version of materialism (“If I can’t see it or sample it then it’s not real”) and their concept of science (“Science is what I believe it is”).

Read the whole thing.

And if you haven’t bothered to look at it, check out the sTarbaby account.


2 responses to “Skepticism vs Debunking

  1. Skeptical inquiry is intended to be a specific method of reasoning and critical thinking that uses the scientific method. I’ve found it handy for some magical work because of its grounding effect. But I do see some people claiming to be skeptics that are, just as you describe, mere debunkers. Those individuals annoy me.

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