Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Debate or Advocacy?

     There are different kinds of arguments. Some have the potential for resolution while others do not. 

Arguing opinions provides opportunities to express ourselves and widen our horizons through the consideration of perspectives held by others. Often, however, debating opinions that contradict one another does not result in any type of resolution, particularly pertaining to circumstances surrounding UFOs. It just goes in circles, as has been the case since the dawn of the modern UFO era.

Maj. Donald Keyhoe, a UFO advocate who
presented himself as an objective researcher
In contrast, the inventorying of facts during a debate stands to resolve the accuracy or inaccuracy of any given point presented. Arguing facts offers resolution; arguing opinions does not. Arguing with people who do not demonstrate a knowledge of the difference, whether out of simple ignorance or bad faith, is an exercise in futility. Whatever their motives, they are advocating rather than sincerely seeking information to support or refute any given point.

It has been aptly observed that people often think they are objective, whether or not that is the case. A symptom of bias can be not knowing we're biased. 

Other times, people seem much less sincere. Not everyone you offer facts is interested in resolution and arriving at a fact-based conclusion. They may be more motivated to promote a preconceived agenda.

A rational conclusion simply cannot be reached if parties involved in a discussion do not recognize and respect standards of evidence. If we don't agree on how facts are established or what they are, we cannot jointly determine what facts indicate. We are destined to hold conflicting opinions and conclusions.

Perhaps one individual is thoroughly convinced adequate evidence has been presented to determine UFOs are material craft piloted by a non-human intelligence in at least some instances. They base this judgement on what they feel is an overwhelming amount of evidence, much of it put forth by scientists with impressive credentials.

Someone may challenge their point of view, asserting the conclusion is not supported by facts. Such facts, they argue, indicate those scientists with impressive credentials talk a lot but do not actually present any work that can be peer reviewed to the extent of supporting their often sensational interpretations; decades of extraordinary stories may be evidence but not good evidence; and blurry videos does not a non-human intelligence make.

The first individual thinks they are arguing facts that the second party refuses to recognize, while the latter understands they are respecting universally recognized standards of evidence. One is presenting their opinion as fact, for whatever reasons may motivate them to do so. There is little chance of resolving the argument.

A talented songwriter once observed, "It takes a lot to change your plans and a train to change your mind." In UFO circles, it often takes a whole lot more than a train. Pack a lunch or, better yet, choose your battles wisely.

1 comment:

  1. You certainly nailed-it, Jack. Thanks so much for all of your sane, reasoned work!