Editorial: Be a skeptic so you won’t fall for this stuff

Lately, there has been much commentary in the news about the poor science and scholarship in the field of cryptozoology. Specifically, we have what appears to be a setup from the Yeti conference recently held in Russia, some “scientists” proclaiming rather unscientific (i.e., supernatural) explanations for large unknown primates, many places capitalizing on stories that are unverifiable just to draw in tourists and visitors, and general backstabbing and name calling across the web.

It’s pretty awful.

I’m writing this editorial to point to another clear illustration of disappointing scholarship.

If you look at the comments to this post, you will see that I (idoubtit) have tried to explain the position I hold with regards to being a skeptic. While many visitors here ARE of the skeptical mindset, I also hope to draw in those who may have other information and viewpoints and allow them to offered their ideas in a way that they can be heard, without censoring, without name calling.

Today, I noticed I was included in a post from a parody tabloid website called the Boiling Brook Babbler. I was well aware it was a humor site and flattered that the author chose me to represent the skeptic side. It was all in good fun. He manufactured a silly quote from my “spokesperson”.

Shortly thereafter, Loren Coleman of the Cryptomundo website picked up on the story, presumably from my Tweet, and wrote a post about it.

Today, I came across one of those amazingly revealing quotations that look deeply into the mind of a scoftic. – Loren Coleman on Cryptomundo

It’s archived here (Editor: page does not work in Chrome). This is the same person who in the previously mentioned set of comments called himself a skeptic and said I didn’t get his humor. I guess not.

Note: There is a bit of a history between Loren, Cryptomundo and I which plays out on my other blog, Doubtful. I want to keep this brief so won’t go into it here.

As I read the CM post, I realized first that Loren was engaging in public defamation, for kicks, posting my photo and associating me with a viewpoint I did not hold. (The Babbler site clearly states it is fiction.) I’m not sure what the ultimate intent of the post was.

It would be fair to assume that I would not like such portrayal.

But, I LOVED it.

It clearly illustrated how base and shallow the Cryptomundo blog content is. To revel in name calling and to swallow a hoax whole served as evidence for why one should not listen to every self-styled expert. It was also an illustration of the attempt to get attention by instigating disputes instead of promoting the field in a positive way.

While I sometimes lose my temper, as we all will when frustrated on occasion, I strive to address the issue, never ridicule the person. I truly want to hear other points of view. So, in the spirit of peer review, I have criticized the CM content. However, I can’t manage to do it directly on the Cryptomundo site since comments are edited and sometimes not posted at all. Nearly everything that calls the given interpretation into question disappears. And yet they ridicule me…

I fully subscribe to the idea that being surrounded by bobble-headed “yes” men (or women) is a wrong-headed path. You never learn, you never understand. We all must accept criticism in order to grow. Paranormal and cryptozoological research has no set peer review process and so it suffers, stagnant, and gets labeled a pseudoscience.

So, I’m not out to ridicule, as the Cryptomundians often enjoy doing to skeptics, or “scoftics” as they call me. I invite comments on this matter, private or public. I conclude by saying the purpose of this blog is to draw attention to stories that people BELIEVE are true or are confused about what is known and unknown. We may have a skeptical bent (which I think is a positive thing) but we are not closed to suggestion or additional information. And, though I might disagree with your interpretation, I won’t ever disparage your personal (seemingly paranormal) experience.

I admit, I got a big laugh out of today’s events because they seemed so absurd. Even though this was not the first time I noticed Loren’s less than careful, biased interpretation, I was a bit surprised by how unprofessional it played out today.

People really believe this stuff!!!. Be skeptical.

NOTICE: This article is copyrighted. You may not reproduce on another site, except in summary or in part with attribution, without permission from Sharon Hill.

  14 comments for “Editorial: Be a skeptic so you won’t fall for this stuff

  1. October 18, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Yeah. Loren Coleman. I’m surprised anyone would take him seriously. The man is a walking example of fake “scholarship” and the absence of ethics combined with a hardy helping of logical fallacy.

  2. October 18, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    I agree with everything you say, so I’m going to be skeptical.

  3. October 18, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Best “hoax” since October 1938? Possibly. Certainly better than the AMAZING Georgia Bigfoot.

  4. October 18, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Also, good thing you archived it.

  5. idoubtit
    October 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    I was not the only one who archived it. Or felt the need to speak out.
    http://www.themadskeptic.com/2011/10/poopie-head-post-of-day.html

  6. October 18, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Since 2007, all Babbler articles are listed as works of fiction. Loren Coleman just gave us a textbook example of selective reading.

  7. October 19, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    I should like to implore Cryptomundo watchers to utilize screen captures. My own thoughts on Cryptomundo:

    http://orgoneresearch.com/2011/10/18/what%e2%80%99s-up-with-cryptomundo/

  8. Bobby Nelson
    October 19, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    “Being an old academic” – Loren Coleman. Coleman said to me once “A simple ‘I’m sorry’ would be enough,” in reference to a blog I wrote about him on 9/11. However, everything I said about Coleman (minus him owning Cryptomundo) was true. Now the tables have turned and again I am calling Coleman out, this time for an apology, not to me, but to Sharon Hill. You were dead wrong in your post about Sharon, you were made to look like an idiot, but instead of manning up, you deleted your post as if it never happened. We call that being a coward, admit you were wrong, admit you didnt research and as you said to me “a simple ‘I’m sorry’ would be enough.”

    -Bobby Nelson (The Paranormal Skeptic)

  9. October 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    While I applaud the sentiment, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  10. October 19, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    I applaud Loren Coleman for publicly apologizing. It’s a great start towards rehabilitating his seriously damaged public persona. Here are some additional suggestions:

    1. Publicly apologize to the victims of 9-11 and the West Virginia Silver Bridge collapse.
    2. Publicly apologize to Peter Byrne.
    3. Cease and desist from using copyrighted photos without authorization to pad your for for-profit business.
    4. Cease and desist from padding your blog with scraped photographs of sexy women to game search engine rankings.
    5. Stop calling your opponents names like “scoftic” or “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
    6. Stop the chronic begging.
    7. Stop censoring comments of those who disagree with you.
    8. Tone down the gratuitous self-linking to your books.
    9. Accept that if you promote ideas that others find misguided, your ideas will be criticized.

  11. October 19, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    I stand corrected.

  12. snoma
    October 19, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I’m kinda surprised Loren Coleman apologized. I was sure he’d just sweep this under the rug, pretend it didn’t happened and go about his usual ways, which is the method I’ve been used to seeing from “that side” (i.e. people who scoff at skeptics). Loren, if you’re reading this, that was NOT a dig at you personally.

    I do see that he has deleted the offending post from the Cryptomundo blog though.

  13. October 19, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Where did Coleman appologise? By the way, I caught them stealing Discovery content: http://www.themadskeptic.com/2011/10/is-cryptomundo-stealing-discovery-news.html

  14. idoubtit
    October 19, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Here is the link
    http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/sorry/ and if you don’t want click it, it says:

    Yes, misreading a site lead to my incorrectly giving a tongue-in-cheek “Scoftic Quote of the Day” award to a position that was attributed to Sharon Hill.

    I began by going over what a scoftic has been defined as:

    A scoftic is one who is a “cranky skeptic,” according to Roger Knights (see here and here). The word has come in handy, as for example, when readers here discussed who are the “Best Witnesses: Biologists or Truck Drivers?”

    I then shared what seemed like an amazing stance by Sharon Hill (a/k/a @IDoubtIt). According to the “bolingbrookbabbler” site,

    “A spokesperson for Sharon Hill said, “She looks forward to proving that Hidden Lakes is too small to support a lake monster, and to finally earn money for her skepticism!”

    I found it entertaining that supposedly Ms. Hill, after rightfully showcasing Tom Biscardi’s mercenary side in a recent The Doubtful Newsblog posting entitled, ““You bet I’m in it for the money” says Bigfoot hunter Biscardi,” found herself being attributed to having said something similar.

    I was moving too fast, in more ways than one, as I wrote that blog and tried to deal with government officials, permits, movers, and more yesterday. But no excuses. I made an error.

    My apologies. The attributed quote was from a fictional site. Sharon Hill is too smart to say any such a thing. I am truly sorry. I should have known better, but then, I’m only human.

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