Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Now they know how WE feel...

Yesterday "The American Chronicle" ran an opinion piece on a Dateline special called "10 Close Encounters Caught on Tape." It was written by MUFON member Steve Bass.

Bass complains in the piece:
Beyond the comedic failings of its host, the presentation includes commentary by James Oberg, NBC´s Space Analyst. Kotb fails to mention Oberg´s credentials beyond his work as a "rocket scientist" with NASA. A very bright individual, James Oberg devotes much of his time to an organization named CSISOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), renamed CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). CSI has earned a reputation within the Ufology community as a group of over-zealous debunkers, known for going to any length to disprove the UFO phenomena. Often these attempts stretch into negligence, omission, and falsification. You are left wondering if CSICOP felt the need to change its name to try to shed this image and start fresh on its attacks of Ufologists. By the way, Oberg has also worked as a consultant for Skeptical Inquirer, a publication of CSI.

So maybe Dateline wanted to develop a more balanced presentation? That could be the case had they not sought additional commentary from Robert Sheaffer, a founding member of CSI who has also written for the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, and Michael Schermer, founder of the Skeptic Society and editor of their publication Skeptic.

Note that each of these individuals call themselves "skeptics", defined as a person who specializes in questioning what others purport to be fact. Sounds like a good idea on the surface, until you note that each of these self-styled skeptics make a livelihood out of calling everyone liars. [note: emphasis mine -D.A.]
Really? They call people "liars"? Even in the recent "Georgia Bigfoot" hoax I didn't hear any of the professional skeptics calling the perpetrators "liars." The biggest complaint I hear from most professional skeptics is that the evidence presented isn't sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the reported phenomena is extraterrestrial, paranormal, or in the case of bigfoot - a real animal.

Is the show biased? See for yourself.

But as for Bass's complaint, I'd say after having watched hundreds of Paranormal, UFO, and Cryptozoological documentaries - it's nice to see the skeptical point of view getting more than a 1 to 5 minute blurb at the end of the show.

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Well? What do you think about the balance of coverage?

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