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Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers

 
The Professor
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07/01/2007 05:08 PM
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Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Class, what you'll be seeing on this website is a series of responses to various threads that SEEM to refute the claim of the Original Poster. It is a study in the Art of Deception. It requires Discernment on the part of the reader. This website is actually NOT for beginners, but many of you show promises and I believe that with time and practice you can not only spot the Debunking - but the Debunkers.

Hopefully, you all read the assignment that was given last week.

And yes. This will be on the test.


In "Zen And the Art of Debunkery," thinker and writer, Daniel Drasin describes the goals of true science, exposes the pseudo-scientific opposition to scientific advancement, then reveals some of the absurdities one must rely on to be a "natural" at COINTELPRO - whether one is receiving pay from the alphabet soup guys or not. A few of the items in his list are:

Cultivate a condescending air that suggests that your personal opinions are backed by the full faith and credit of God. Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as "ridiculous" or "trivial" in a manner that suggests they have the full force of scientific authority. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Portray science not as an open-ended process of discovery but as a holy war against unruly hordes of quackery- worshipping 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 the scientific method.

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.

Reinforce the popular misconception that certain subjects are inherently unscientific. In other words, deliberately confuse the *process* of science with the *content* of science. (Someone may, of course, object that since science is a universal approach to truth-seeking it must be neutral to subject matter; hence, only the investigative *process* can be scientifically responsible or irresponsible. If that happens, dismiss such objections using a method employed successfully by generations of politicians: simply reassure everyone that "there is no contradiction here!")

Arrange to have your message echoed by persons of authority. The degree to which you can stretch the truth is directly proportional to the prestige of your mouthpiece.

Always refer to unorthodox statements as "claims," which are "touted," and to your own assertions as "facts," which are "stated."

Avoid examining the actual evidence. This allows you to say with impunity, "I have seen absolutely no evidence to support such ridiculous claims!" (Note that this technique has withstood the test of time, and dates back at least to the age of Galileo. By simply refusing to look through his telescope, the ecclesiastical authorities bought the Church over three centuries' worth of denial free and clear!)

If examining the evidence becomes unavoidable, report back that "there is nothing new here!" If confronted by a watertight body of evidence that has survived the most rigorous tests, simply dismiss it as being "too pat."

Equate the necessary skeptical component of science with *all* of science. Emphasize the narrow, stringent, rigorous and critical elements of science to the exclusion of intuition, inspiration, exploration and integration. If anyone objects, accuse them of viewing science in exclusively fuzzy, subjective or metaphysical terms. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Insist that the progress of science depends on explaining the unknown in terms of the known. In other words, science equals reductionism. You can apply the reductionist approach in any situation by discarding more and more and more evidence until what little is left can finally be explained entirely in terms of established knowledge. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

At every opportunity reinforce the notion that what is familiar is necessarily rational. The unfamiliar is therefore irrational, and consequently inadmissible as evidence. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

State categorically that the unconventional may be dismissed as, at best, an honest misinterpretation of the conventional. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Characterize your opponents as "uncritical believers." Summarily dismiss the notion that debunkery itself betrays uncritical belief, albeit in the status quo. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Maintain the idea that a single flaw invalidates the whole. In conventional contexts, however, you may sagely remind the world that, "after all, situations are complex and human beings are imperfect." [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Since the public tends to be unclear about the distinction between evidence and proof, do your best to help maintain this murkiness. If absolute proof is lacking, state categorically that "there is no evidence!"

If sufficient evidence has been presented to warrant further investigation, argue that "evidence alone proves nothing!" Ignore the fact that preliminary evidence is not supposed to prove *any*thing.

In any case, imply that proof precedes evidence. This will eliminate the possibility of initiating any meaningful process of investigation--particularly if no criteria of proof have yet been established for the phenomenon in question.

Practice debunkery-by-association. 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 just say "I rest my case."

Use the word "imagination" as an epithet that applies only to seeing what's *not* there, and not to denying what *is* there.

Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule. It is far and away the single most chillingly effective weapon in the war against discovery and innovation. Ridicule has the unique power to make people of virtually any persuasion go completely unconscious in a twinkling. It fails to sway only those few who are of sufficiently independent mind not to buy into the kind of emotional consensus that ridicule provides. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Use "smoke and mirrors," i.e., obfuscation and illusion. Never forget that a slippery mixture of fact, opinion, innuendo, out-of-context information and outright lies will fool most of the people most of the time. As little as one part fact to ten parts B.S. will usually do the trick. (Some veteran debunkers use homeopathic dilutions of fact with remarkable success!) Cultivate the art of slipping back and forth between fact and fiction so undetectably that the flimsiest foundation of truth will always appear to firmly support your entire edifice of opinion. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Employ "TCP": Technically Correct Pseudo-refutation. Example: if someone remarks that all great truths began as blasphemies, respond immediately that not all blasphemies have become great truths. Because your response was technically correct, no one will notice that it did not really refute the original remark.

Trivialize the case by trivializing the entire field in question. Characterize the orthodox approach as deep and time-consuming, while deeming that of the unorthodox approach as so insubstantial as to demand nothing more than a scan of the tabloids. If pressed on this, simply say "but there's nothing there to study!" Characterize any unorthodox scientist as a "buff" or "freak," or as "self-styled"-- the media's favorite code-word for "bogus." [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Remember that most people do not have sufficient time or expertise for careful discrimination, and tend to accept or reject the whole of an unfamiliar situation. So discredit the whole story by attempting to discredit *part* of the story. Here's how: a) take one element of a case completely out of context; b) find something prosaic that hypothetically could explain it; c) declare that therefore that one element has been explained; d) call a press conference and announce to the world that the entire case has been explained!

Label any poorly-understood research "occult," "fringe," "paranormal," "metaphysical," "mystical," "supernatural," or "new-age." This will get most mainstream scientists off the case immediately on purely emotional grounds. If you're lucky, this may delay any responsible investigation of such phenomena by decades or even centuries! [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

Remember that you can easily appear to refute anyone's claims by building "straw men" to demolish. One way to do this is to misquote them while preserving that convincing grain of truth; for example, by acting as if they have intended the extreme of any position they've taken. Another effective strategy with a long history of success is simply to mis- replicate their experiments--or to avoid replicating them at all on grounds that "to do so would be ridiculous or fruitless." To make the whole process even easier, respond not to their actual claims but to their claims as reported by the media, or as propagated in popular myth.

Hold claimants responsible for the production values and editorial policies of any media or press that reports their claim. If an unusual or inexplicable event is reported in a sensationalized manner, hold this as proof that the event itself must have been without substance or worth.

When a witness or claimant states something in a manner that is scientifically imperfect, treat this as if it were not scientific at all. If the claimant is not a credentialed scientist, argue that his or her perceptions cannot possibly be objective. [John Baez: "Jadczyk has some unusual conspiracy theories which affect his interpretation of this case"]

If you're unable to attack the facts of the case, attack the participants--or the journalists who reported the case. *Ad- hominem* arguments, or personality attacks, are among the most powerful ways of swaying the public and avoiding the issue. For example, if investigators of the unorthodox have profited financially from activities connected with their research, accuse them of "profiting financially from activities connected with their research!" If their research, publishing, speaking tours and so forth, constitute their normal line of work or sole means of support, hold that fact as "conclusive proof that income is being realized from such activities!" If they have labored to achieve public recognition for their work, you may safely characterize them as "publicity seekers."

Fabricate supportive expertise as needed by quoting the opinions of those in fields popularly assumed to include the necessary knowledge.

Fabricate sources of disinformation. Claim that you've "found the person who started the rumor that such a phenomenon exists!" · Fabricate entire research projects. Declare that "these claims have been thoroughly discredited by the top experts in the field!" Do this whether or not such experts have ever actually studied the claims, or, for that matter, even exist.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
bsflag
D. Bunker ™Moderator
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07/01/2007 05:14 PM

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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
pffft
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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07/01/2007 05:16 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
But of course that may be all disinfomation.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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07/01/2007 05:39 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
EXCELLENT Examples of Non-Verbal Response, Class.

I especially liked the Monty Python Take-off.

Anyone else?
Anonymous Coward
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07/01/2007 05:43 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
:randidbnkr:
N.O.S. OEM

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07/01/2007 06:03 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
LONESTAR

...for the nutty professor :)
Random

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07/01/2007 06:23 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
shitstir2 Cool post, OP: greatest piece of shitstirring ever on GLP. And right too!
Normal Is Subjective

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07/01/2007 06:28 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Simpler rule, just keep an eye out for people like the OP
who's control issues are so strong they feel the need to tell
others how to think.

And look out for those enemy lists. Lists are a sure sign of
kookiness.
 Quoting: DrPostman


Whatever the OPs issues, the points he makes are correct.
I thought I'd beat the inevitibility of death to death just a little bit.
Anonymous Coward
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07/01/2007 06:38 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
you mean counteracting someones claim or statment with something irrelevant.
i hate that.
The Professor (OP)
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07/01/2007 07:21 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
People. People. People.

Stay focused.

A Web Forum Site is a tricky terrain. We are here today to discuss the various forms that debunking may take.

There will always be - how shall I put it - assholes, for lack of a better word, on any forum. And there always will be. But they are not our concern. It is the debunkers whom we are striving to observe. Granted, one man's debunker may seem to be another man's freedom fighter, but we are here to make an observation, not a judgement.

Lest we forget, after we are familar with the many forms that debunking takes, we will move on to Refuting An Argument.

Debunking and Refuting may appear to be similar, but it is only after studying Debunking that we may come to understanding and appreciating Refuting An Argument.
D. Bunker ™Moderator
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07/01/2007 07:40 PM

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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
People. People. People.

Stay focused.

A Web Forum Site is a tricky terrain. We are here today to discuss the various forms that debunking may take.

There will always be - how shall I put it - assholes, for lack of a better word, on any forum. And there always will be. But they are not our concern. It is the debunkers whom we are striving to observe. Granted, one man's debunker may seem to be another man's freedom fighter, but we are here to make an observation, not a judgement.

Lest we forget, after we are familar with the many forms that debunking takes, we will move on to Refuting An Argument.

Debunking and Refuting may appear to be similar, but it is only after studying Debunking that we may come to understanding and appreciating Refuting An Argument.
 Quoting: The Professor 6122


spies2

Don't forget the stealth techniques.
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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07/01/2007 08:18 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Actually anyone who disagrees with anyone on GLP, is a PAID CIA debunker that works for the jews!
Normal Is Subjective

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07/01/2007 08:35 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Actually anyone who disagrees with anyone on GLP, is a PAID CIA debunker that works for the jews!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 219796


And... pope2
I thought I'd beat the inevitibility of death to death just a little bit.
Normal Is Subjective

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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Actually anyone who disagrees with anyone on GLP, is a PAID CIA debunker that works for the jews!


And... pope2
 Quoting: Normal Is Subjective


Oh and bit of free-lance for this guy... jihad2


Also a little er, "contracting" for Mr. Happy... dick
I thought I'd beat the inevitibility of death to death just a little bit.
Duncan Kunz

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07/01/2007 08:52 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
I always figured someone who can't respond to demands for evidence and changes the subject to say things like "you're obviously a paid agent of the NSA" is probably on pretty weak ground.
Where's the EVIDENCE, Jim?
Duncan Kunz

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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
What's the difference between "debunking" and "refuting an argument"?

Does it depend on what side you happen to believe?
Where's the EVIDENCE, Jim?
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
What's the difference between "debunking" and "refuting an argument"?

Does it depend on what side you happen to believe?
 Quoting: Duncan Kunz



ohyeah
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
The Professor (OP)
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07/01/2007 11:27 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
What's the difference between "debunking" and "refuting an argument"?

Does it depend on what side you happen to believe?
 Quoting: Duncan Kunz



Both are excellent questions.
Some dictionaries are vague as to the differences.

As for which side you take...
Do you know why you took it?
Do you know why you are defending it?

And finally, are you prepared to listen to the opposing argument IN THE EVENT that NEW INFORMATION may be presented that may compel you to reconsider your beginning position?
[Reconsider, but not necessarily change your conclusion.]

At that point you may decide to CONFIRM or to CONFUTE.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
What's the difference between "debunking" and "refuting an argument"?

Does it depend on what side you happen to believe?



Both are excellent questions.
Some dictionaries are vague as to the differences.

As for which side you take...
Do you know why you took it?
Do you know why you are defending it?

And finally, are you prepared to listen to the opposing argument IN THE EVENT that NEW INFORMATION may be presented that may compel you to reconsider your beginning position?
[Reconsider, but not necessarily change your conclusion.]

At that point you may decide to CONFIRM or to CONFUTE.
 Quoting: The Professor 6122


It seems to me that if I refute an argument or a belief that I consider bunk, i.e. rubbish, I am, by definition, "de-bunking" it.

And while I cannot speak for anyone else here, I know why I take/defend a side on any issue: it is because the preponderance of evidence with which I am familiar leads me to believe that one hypothesis does a better job of explaining the phenomenon than any other hypothesis does.

And, of course, I filter the evidential data through my own filters, comprising my reading, education, job, age, background, culture, etc. -- in other words, all those parameters which color anyone's search for truth.

I mean, what other reason would you have for picking one hypothesis over another? That you want a particular hypothesis to be true all evidence to the contrary? How is that going to convince anyone?

I don't see why a person should be called a "refuter" if he is willing to listen to both sides of an argument and a "debunker" if he is not; but I certainly am willing to look at both sides of a question.

However, what would you call a person who makes a statement and refuses to listen to my opposing "...argument in the event that new information may be presented..."? Is that person a "passive" debunker?

Debunker has a pejorative taint to it; it's like calling a Black a 'nigger' or a Mexican a 'wetback'. In an ideal situation, one researcher lays out a scenario or phenomenon and provides an assertion which he thinks explains that scenario of phenomenon. If someone disagrees with the original researcher, he will give his reasons, using basic scientific criteria, and including things like Occam's Razor. If the second researcher's assertion does a better job of explaining said phenomenon, then it is that person's assertion which should be accepted -- that is, until a third assertion, which may combine aspects of its predecessors or may be a completely new approach, appears and undergoes the same tests as all alternative solutions.

So who cares whether you call yourself a 'refuter' or a 'debunker'?
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Nyet.. Not me.. OP has delusions of adequacy.
Grey Owl
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07/02/2007 05:12 AM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
People. People. People.

Stay focused.

A Web Forum Site is a tricky terrain. We are here today to discuss the various forms that debunking may take.

There will always be - how shall I put it - assholes, for lack of a better word, on any forum. And there always will be. But they are not our concern. It is the debunkers whom we are striving to observe. Granted, one man's debunker may seem to be another man's freedom fighter, but we are here to make an observation, not a judgement.

Lest we forget, after we are familar with the many forms that debunking takes, we will move on to Refuting An Argument.

Debunking and Refuting may appear to be similar, but it is only after studying Debunking that we may come to understanding and appreciating Refuting An Argument.
 Quoting: The Professor 6122



Boy did you ever shake the tree!

All the usual suspects, well a good many.

Excellent psycology,
I tip my hat to you.


What a lovely bunch of coconuts !!!!!

Good job, keep up the good work man!


5a
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07/02/2007 11:54 AM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.

I've seen some of OPs examples on this site.
Duncan Kunz

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07/02/2007 12:03 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.

 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 103336

So if I say that I believe "chem-trails" are a silly hoax and someone comes along and says I'm in the pay of the government or a traitor to the human race, then he's "...just tryng to silence my opinion theu any means."

Does that make him a debunker?
Where's the EVIDENCE, Jim?
Skeptical Texan

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07/02/2007 12:05 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
I thought to be a debunker you just had to not believe every lame ass idea posted on here?
Anonymous Coward
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07/02/2007 12:06 PM
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.

I've seen some of OPs examples on this site.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 103336


DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!

Give the man a cigar.
MrJoshua

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07/02/2007 12:10 PM
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Yeah it is not hard to be a refuter on this site. Just about every time hard facts and numbers are used the thread seems to die out. :)
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.


So if I say that I believe "chem-trails" are a silly hoax and someone comes along and says I'm in the pay of the government or a traitor to the human race, then he's "...just tryng to silence my opinion theu any means."

Does that make him a debunker?
 Quoting: Duncan Kunz



If you start a thread that says that you believe that chemtrails are a hoax AND you give an explanation of how you came to that conclusion, AND THEN some other guy attacks you directly rather than countering your explanation then wouldn't that be debunking?



It makes me think of Monty Pythons Argument Clinic skit.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.


So if I say that I believe "chem-trails" are a silly hoax and someone comes along and says I'm in the pay of the government or a traitor to the human race, then he's "...just tryng to silence my opinion theu any means."

Does that make him a debunker?
 Quoting: Duncan Kunz

No you're the "King of the Debunkers", remember?
Anonymous Coward
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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
Maybe what he is saying is that a debunker is just trying to silence an opinion thru any means. But a "refuter" is someone actually trying to persuade using logic or evidence that the originator is incorrect 'and here is why'.


So if I say that I believe "chem-trails" are a silly hoax and someone comes along and says I'm in the pay of the government or a traitor to the human race, then he's "...just tryng to silence my opinion theu any means."

Does that make him a debunker?
 Quoting: Duncan Kunz

No you're the "King of the debunkers", remember?
Random

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Re: Notes to Newbies: How to Spot Debunking... And Debunkers
There are few words to describe how duplicitous Duncan Kunz is. His sig-line flatters him, since no-one with any sense heeds well a self-styled (ie. "bogus") debunker.

People like him, I feel, are the ones hopelessly inured in the Matrix, so dependent on the system they will fight to protect it even as people struggle to break free.

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