How to Sabotage Skepticism from the Inside: Entwine the Claim with the Cause PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   

Ever ordered Sea Monkeys from the back of a comic book? They are not monkeys at all, but brine shrimp, tiny creatures whose eggs survive long periods in a nearly-dry state.

I can only hope that you will join with me in my outrage. Brine shrimp eggs are ripped from their natural habitat and shipped to hatch far from family and friends. Many eggs do not survive the arduous trip. The lucky ones that survive do not live free, but are doomed to an unfulfilling aquarium life as the “property” of snot-nosed kids. It is not unlike the early slave trade in the U.S.

If you are tempted to click “Add Comment,” be forewarned. Should you challenge my likening the brine shrimp trade to the slave trade, or question whether brine shrimp are capable of feeling fulfilled or unfulfilled, or ask me to back up the claim that kids are snot-nosed … I have an ace up my sleeve. I shall call you a racist. Nay, even better, I shall accuse you of being pro-slavery.

It’s a nifty, sleight-of-mind trick that lets me get away with begging the question, setting up a straw man and launching an ad hominem attack, all while looking like I’m defending decency. Heck, I may even fool myself.

If you’d like to try my trick, here are the steps: (1) Make a claim and apply it to a worthy cause. (2) Should people challenge assumptions underlying the claim, accuse them of opposing the cause. (3). Call them names and encourage others to jump on your bandwagon  Thus it will make short work of any opponents. Not only that. You will emerge feeling validated, even justified, eager and ready to launch the process again. And again.

Of course, this doesn’t happen in the real world. Skeptics aren’t so human as to indulge such tactics, wittingly or unwittingly, much less fall for them. Thank goodness for that.

 

 

Steve Cuno is a three-time TAM speaker and regular Randi.org contributor. He is also bald. Disagree with him and he may call you a scalpist. If you have nothing better to do with your time than read Steve’s blogs, click here.