Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Picking at the Baloney: A Reaction to the "Baloney Detection Kit"

Just a couple of points to make in regards to the "baloney detection kit" that was posted on this very blog not long ago. The short video goes through a series of ten rules to follow in order to verify whether something is worthy of consideration or not. Although I do believe the narrator makes a number of good points, he fails to meet the mark in some respects. For example test number 10, "are personal beliefs driving the claim?", states that if a person/entity is trying to claim something as truth and is driven by their beliefs they should scrutinized. I believe that everyone is driven by their beliefs to a certain degree, this scientist included. Here's why: It seems clear throughout the video that this particular sceptic has a bias. His bias is in favour of science. When discussing rule number 2, whether "the source makes the same claim" he uses 'new-age' types as an example of people who believe in not one but ALL of the following; ghosts, haunted houses and spirituality. Talk about a broad generalization! Not only that but he goes and to say that these new agey types believe in heretics for the sake of heresy. I'm not saying that this can't be true in some of the cases, but come on! Would EVERYBODY who believes in 'heresy' do it solely to maintain images? It's not very likely. He concludes this section by summarizing that "the point here is to have your brain open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out". This is an interesting metaphor to attach to a concept that was not such much explained conceptually, but solely by use of an example. Under these circumstances these 'new age' types, or spiritualist are essentially shamed into being brainless, unthinking types who don't deserve any attention. The other rules for the most part were sound of mind and a reasonable set to adhere to when trying to regard something critically. However his concluding this little clip by saying that "science is the best tool ever devised for understanding how the world works and everybody knows that because they all go to doctors", which is both a statement filled with absolutist word choices and doesn't do justice to science in that it assumes that science is the best choice only because it is the most popular choice.

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