Monday, 1 March 2010

ad-homs', prejudices & logical fallacies. Oh my.

 On Saturday I went to watch my fellow Righteous Indignation co-host, Trystan Swale, deliver a speech as part of Weird Talking. His speech was about disinformation within UFOlogy and I personally thought it was really interesting to see just how some peoples minds withing UFOlogy worked and how accusations were banded around. It was humorous, and although it wasn't a subject I knew much about I could still follow what Trystan was talking about.

When the speech was over nobody clapped which disgusted and angered me as it was the most professional speech done for Weird Talking to date. Anyway, there was a short break and then we could come back into the room for a Q&A session. I had previously been sitting in the back row but something urged me to instead stand at the back of the room where the other crew members were standing rather than sitting back down where I had done before.

Then came the questions from the audience. What started out as genuinely curious questions from a few people turned into an attack on Trystan by a few individuals who couldn't, it seemed, accept that someone had dared to voice an opinion that was different than theirs. Now, I cannot remember everything that was said but one lady did try to appeal to authority by saying that her step father worked for NATO and knew about 'these things' but apparently, according to a friend of mine, she has been to numerous local lectures in the past and always has a relative who knows something about the topic in hand. She's one of those people...

The "conversation" soon got around to Trystan and how much money he made from spouting his "nonsense" and he quite rightly pointed out he made nothing. If anything he makes a loss with the podcast because of the equipment, software, call credits etc. that go into it. I personally don't see what it matters how much Trystan makes (which is zero.)

Next came the 'What do you teach?' question from one of the ladies in question. Someone had mentioned that air craft pilots were reliable witnesses and Trystan had said he didn't believe that was necessarily so.

"Are you saying that you, a teacher, know more than a pilot?" One banshee audience member cried and Trystan replied, with a genuinely perplexed expression upon his face that he hadn't said that at all.

This wasn't enough for one woman who actually turned red in the face with fury as she continued to bombard Trystan with cruel comment after cruel comment as though that was the way to win her argument (which, coincidentally, it isn't.) She also didn't like it when Trystan told her to leave if all she was going to do was insult him. She didn't leave though, but she did shut up a little bit.
I also remember at one point a man pointing out that Roswell must be real because lie detector tests were done and they are reliable. Now, normally the crew members who stand at the back are silent throughout but this piece of crap was enough to send my fellow crew member, Tom, into a frenzy. He took approximately 10 seconds to destroy the mans arugment. Go Tom, go Tom...

Then came the jewel from the same man that vicars and bishops had been eyewitnesses, 'they're men of God, they wouldn't lie' he said. My fellow crewmember Liz choked as she tried not to laugh out loud and I had to work very hard not to spit out the mouthful of cider I had just taken. Logical fallacy, anyone?

Trystan was also accused of being close minded, a point that I jumped in on. "How can Trystan be close minded," I pointed out "When on the righteous indignation podcast we interview people who have opposing opinions and beliefs than we do?"

It really infuriated me because they couldn't see that actually they were the ones who were closed minded and were practising their own prejudices through their harsh and pointless questions and personal attacks. One lady told Trystan that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith or logic to understand things and it made me cringe.

'Why should I do that when there is no evidence to support me making that leap?' Trystan had replied and it's true. If you are willing to make such a leap of logic without any substantial evidence to back it up then you have to ask yourself what exactly you are willing to stop at? If anecdotal and cherry picked 'evidence' is enough for you then you are going to be believing in everything there ever was to believe in.

Funnily enough I was greeted with the news this morning that complaints have been recieved from customers who went to the talk on Saturday which made me giggle slightly. What exactly does one expect to listen to when attending a talked entited 'Saucer sabotuers; disinformation within UFOlogy'? Honestly....

In the off chance that some of the people who attended the speech find this blog post I'll leave you with this video about how being open minded actually works. I especially would like the lady who has written a book on mediumship to watch this should she stop by because you, my dear, have a lot to learn...


  1. It's a shame that Trystan was met with a reaction like that. I have found that if you question things that people believe in they get instantly angry if they have nothing better than "oh yeah!" to come back with.
    Also, thanks for the video! Utterly brilliant.

  2. I wouldn't say that woman's comments were cruel. Silly is probably more apt. I think there is a line to be drawn between discussing the matter at hand and making personal attacks, most of which related to things I'd never even said. My honest opinion is that she was more interested in attacking me as a skeptic, rather than because of what I was talking about.

    Looking back, I think Roswell man was probably the most reasoned of all the people who were out to give me a hard time. As much as he was misinformed, at least he tried to take issue with the points I had made in regard to his own understanding of the evidence. It is also easy to see why people are misinformed a lot of the time, especially in the context of the sway popular belief and culture holds over people.

    Glad to see you offended References Man and his partner on the way out! ;-)