Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

In considering “extraordinary claims” ( alien visitations, ghosts, Atlantis, gods and so forth), it is necessary to be rigorous in examining assertions about their existence.  For the purposes of this discussion, UFOs operated by aliens will do nicely.  The principles apply to ALL similar situations.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

The discovery that life and intelligence have evolved at locations other than Earth, and that these beings are visiting Earth on a semi-regular basis in spacecraft that seem to defy the laws of physics as we now know them, would unquestionably rank as the greatest discovery in the history of science, and most definitely is an extraordinary claim. Therefore, in order to prove it, we must demand extraordinary evidence. What might this evidence be?

For one thing, the aliens themselves. Not some story where someone says that someone says that someone says that they saw aliens, but the actual physical aliens themselves, where trustworthy and competent scientists and individuals can study and communicate with them. Personally, I’d like to examine their spacecraft and learn the physical principles under which it operates. I’d like a ride on that spacecraft. I’d like to see their star charts and see where they come from. I’d like to know the astronomical, physical, chemical, and biological conditions of their home world and solar system, and how they compare with and contrast with ours. If possible, I’d like to visit their home world, and any other worlds that might be within their sphere of influence.

In other words, we need the aliens visible, front and center, where there can be no reasonable doubt as to their existence. Stories about “lights” or “things” in the sky don’t cut it, especially when such reports come from people who have no idea of the vast array of natural and man-made phenomena that are visible in the sky if one would only take the time to look.

The burden of proof is on the positive

If you are making an extraordinary claim, the burden is on you to produce the extraordinary evidence to prove that you are correct; the burden is not on me to prove that you are wrong. Furthermore, you must prove your case by providing the direct and compelling evidence for it; you can’t prove it by eliminating a few token explanations and then crying, “Well, what else can it be?”

Occam’s Razor

If one is confronted with a series of phenomena for which there exists more than one viable explanation, one should choose the simplest explanation which fits all the observed facts.

Again, using UFOs as an example:

  • It is an undeniable fact that many people have seen, or at least claimed to see, objects in the sky and on the ground for which they have no explanation.
  • But it is also an undeniable fact that people can make mistakes about their observations.
  • It is an undeniable fact that reports can come from people who are unaware of the various phenomena that are visible in the sky and from people who are not equipped or trained at making reliable scientific observations.
  • It is an undeniable fact that a person’s preconceived notions and expectations can affect his or her observations.
  • It is an undeniable fact that some people will lie and will create hoaxes for any of various reasons.
  • Taking all these undeniable facts together, the simplest explanation for stories that fail to meet the criteria above is that every report is either a hoax or is a mistake of some sort — perhaps compounded by wishful thinking.  To be proven otherwise, they have to meet the tests outlined in (1) and (2).

    Hey, it’s logic.  I didn’t make it up.  If it applies to your sacred cow, well…

    Sacred cows make the best hamburger ~ Abbie Hoffman

    Author unknown, but I have approved this message.

    One thought on “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

    1. Pingback: Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence « Digital Dharma

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