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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Crackpot Index

Crackpot Index@Everything2.com

As I was reading through this I was trying to run up a mental tally of how Zecharia Sitchin would score... I lost count around 250.

I momentarily considered sitting with copies of his books and a calculator, but I decided that would just waste my time and annoy the pig.

11 comments:

  1. i do not understand why you are so against Zecharia Sitchin, i would agree with you if you had actually taken the time to read ONE of his books..

    I am not suggesting that everything he says is right, but you are knocking him and you dont even know what he writes about.

    If you do a search on lets say for exapmle Amway, you WILLL find thousands of sites telling you how shit it is and how they con people....but infact...until you know the business plan you cant critisize them... and even then you will find things that you do agree AND disagree with... but atleast you know what its ALL about.

    My point im trying to make is not FOR Zecharia Sitchin, all i'm trying to say is...once you know all about it then you can critisize... but you dont...so get your facts straight before you point a finger.

    No harshness intended...if that is the way my comment is coming across.

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  2. You should know me better than that.

    When I form an opinion of someone or something I base it on all the available information I can get my hands on. If I get hold of information that confounds my existing opinion, then I alter my opinion accordingly. That is what science is all about.

    But it’s good that you’re questioning me. I wish more people would do that, it keeps me on my toes and prevents me from lapsing into pseudoscience myself.

    But it’s not good enough to just say it, I have to prove it. Let’s start with the Amway example.

    I used to do it myself, as you know. From the first time I saw the plan I believed it was an excellent system, and if I applied it and myself I would be able to use it to get rich.

    Even when it failed me, I still believed in the system, and I believed that it was me who was lacking the necessary skills and motivation. (That’s danger #1 of this kind of thing, causing people to doubt themselves)

    But then I got hold of some more information. Information that the Amway corporation and their IBO groups like Network 21 and Internet Services aren’t proud of. And I saw Amway for the scam it really is.

    Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. It’s not difficult, a little time with Google will help you. But you can start here:
    http://www.skepdic.com/amway.html
    or here
    http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Amway/
    or here
    http://www.robinkers.com/antiamway.html
    or here
    http://www.mlmsurvivor.com/
    or here
    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4375477/
    or here
    http://www.vandruff.com/mlm.html
    or here
    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/pyrdalrt.htm
    or here
    http://www.lawpublish.com/mlm.html
    or here
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mlm.html
    or here
    http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/a/amway/

    Then we get to Zecharia Sitchin.

    When you first told me about him, his theories sounded a little odd to say the least. But I was interested to see what he had to say.

    As a sci-fi fanatic I wish he was right. It would be really cool if we really were seeded here by some advanced alien species. That would totally rock. I loved that show Stargate. But wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true.

    Once again, some time with Google, reading opinions of real life scientists who have real expertise in the fields that Sitchin claims to be a master of, it was pretty easy to see Sitchin and his ilk for what they are: at best, they’re self deluded, at worst, they’re lying frauds.

    I suspect they’re somewhere in the middle.

    Once again, don’t take my word for it, look for yourself.

    I recommend starting at Sitchin’s own website (www.sitchin.com) which he claims to have authored personally. With an open and objective mind take what is said on that site and apply the following evaluation tools that have been developed by real-life scientists:
    The Crackpot Index – linked on this post. Developed by Dr. John Baez, the man who gave us significant advances in spin foams in quantum loop theory.
    The Baloney Detection Kit – (http://www.xenu.net/archive/baloney_detection.html) Designed by Dr. Carl Sagan, one of the greatest astronomical and astrophysical minds of the 20th century, the pioneer of exobiology (another field Sitchin claims to be expert in).
    Occam’s Razor – (http://www.skepdic.com/occam.html) Developed by English Franciscan friar and philosopher in the 13th/14th centuries.

    Also, don’t just assume that these guys are who they say they are. Use Google to check their references. And if you have any other tools that you use to measure the reasonableness of an argument, I recommend you apply those as well, and share them with us here.

    Once you’ve done that, I guarantee you’ll begin to see the flaws in what Sitchin has to say.

    Then, read the following expert and layperson evaluations of his theories:

    http://www.ramtops.demon.co.uk/siren.html
    http://www.ianlawton.com/mesindex.htm
    http://jcolavito.tripod.com/lostcivilizations/id14.html
    http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/sitchinerrors.htm (an excellent site, I recommend you take a look around on this one.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zecharia_Sitchin
    http://www.disinfo.com/archive/pages/dossier/id97/pg1/
    http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/8148/zindex.html
    http://www.world-mysteries.com/pex_2.htm
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/index.html (This one doesn’t deal with Sitchin himself, specifically, but deals with some of his theories as quoted by his followers Nancy Lieder and Mark Hazelwood.)
    http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/8148/hafernik.html
    http://www.skepdic.com/sitchin.html

    If you’ve actually read all of these, you should be able see that Sitchin’s theories are not only flawed in themselves, but they are based on a flawed premise which is based on a flawed premise which is based on, you guessed it, yet another flawed premise.

    Imagine you’re playing Jenga. If you take out a few bricks here and there, the tower can still stand. But if you take out too many, the tower will inevitably fall. That is how Sitchin’s argument has collapsed. He’s lost the game of Jenga.

    Yes, there are many websites out there that agree with Sitchin claiming he is right. But take a look at those, and evaluate their claims with the same tools you used before. I think you’ll find that none of them can withstand logical, scientific scrutiny.

    But what makes Sitchin a real antiscientist isn’t the fact that he’s wrong. Anyone can be wrong, even real scientists. It happens all the time. Even Newton was wrong. What makes Sitchin an antiscientist is that despite the fact that he has been proven over and over again to be completely wrong, he still claims to be right. He still publishes his books in an ever increasing number of languages. He still promotes his crackpot theories in the face of all reason.

    Armed with the knowledge that he is wrong, I recommend you try to get hold of him. Send him an email suggesting an error, no matter how minor, in his work.

    Here’s a suggestion. Go and look up the term “tidal wave” and then look up the word “tsunami”. Go to Sitchin’s website (www.sitchin.com) and see how he uses those terms interchangeably on the front page (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to the article entitled “When calamity strikes mankind”)

    You will see that his usage of the term “tidal wave” is incorrect. Send him a quick email to the address listed pointing out the error and see what happens. Be sure to quote references to the definitions you have used in your email.

    If he were a real scientist, he would thank you for your contribution and correct his facts. But I guarantee you he won’t do that. In fact, I seriously doubt he will even respond to your email.

    Although he writes the content for the website himself, he doesn’t list an email address where he can be contacted directly. One wonders why. Instead, you’ll have to send the email to his lackey/webmaster, Erik. Ask him kindly to forward your message to Sitchin, he won’t do it. Instead he’ll answer it himself. And he won’t admit any error. He will defend Sitchin’s work, even though he is proven wrong.

    What scares me the most, is that Sitchin still has reasonable, intelligent people such as yourself sticking up for him. That is what makes him so dangerous.

    His crackpot theories, presented as fact, represent a real threat to science and society in general. This is that same threat that is represented by astrologers and the whole Intelligent Design nonsense. If you don’t understand why it’s so dangerous, take a look here (http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/astrology.html#harm) and see how Dr. Phillip Plait, Astronomer, puts it.

    You’re correct that I have yet to read one of Sitchin’s books. But I have read his entire website which contains quite a lot of material, all allegedly authored by him, so I have read some of his writings. And besides, I don’t need to read Mein Kampf to know that Hitler was a bad guy. I am very familiar with Sitchin’s theories, and with why they are wrong. I actually have no real desire to read his books anymore. I think I’ve wasted enough time on this guy, and I’m ready to move onto new challenges now.

    In conclusion, I have checked my facts, and they are correct. Sitchin is wrong.

    But again, don’t take my word for it. Spend a few hours doing some real research and you’ll see what I’m saying.

    If you are still convinced that I am wrong, I offer you a challenge. If you can provide me with one shred of solid, repeatable, scientific evidence (upheld by respected and qualified scientists in that field) that supports any of Sitchin’s major claims (such as the Planet Nibiru orbiting the sun, the Annunaki having genetically engineered the human race and so forth) then I will issue a public apology on this blog, on the Mensa South Africa mailing list and in an email to him personally.

    Thanks again, and keep questioning. Accept nothing at face value, not even me.

    (As an aside, I found something particularly amusing the other day. Upon visiting my local branch of Exclusive Books, I was taking a look through the Science section, as I always do, and to my dismay I saw a book about Tony Robbins and his Neuro-linguistic Programming mumbo jumbo sitting right there next to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Yet in the same store, Sitchin’s books were relegated to the “Esoteric” section along with all the rest of the woo-woo UFO nutcase flapdoodle. Exclusive Books’ staff weren’t able to tell that Robbins’ nonsense wasn’t real science, but they could tell at a glance that Sitchin’s stuff was no more valid than Qabala or Tarot cards. I laughed and laughed.)

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  3. ok, sorry...your comment is way tooo long. didnt manage to read it all.

    You dont need to convince me on amway, i have done more than my share of research, online and hard learned facts,...i didnt require your research on that...i was merely using them as an example. (Mr....mmm...know it all).

    As far as Zecharia Sitchin is concerned... anything you mentioned here is just NOT GOOD ENOUGH. If you actually take the time to read his books and check what he has to say...(and not some obscure phony website(s), then i think its a good time to call him what you want.

    Read his books and then you comment about his "fraudulent" claims as much as you want... that way you are really just being fair.

    Oh...while i was scrolling down through your thesis like comment...i saw you mention MENSA...
    Being a mensa member does not mean you know it all. It might mean you are more fortunate than others and have a better spatial whatever, but no need to always dangle it in our faces.

    Its something you pay to belong to, you pay to say you are a MENSA member... to me thats odd. I dont even want to start looking for websites against it...im not paying to do it.

    anyway, spend less time critisising and telling us you are so smart and have an excellent IQ.. get going on some EQ... your bloggs on that i find alot more interesting.

    once again, let me just say that there is no harshness intended with this comment, if that is the way it came across.

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  4. If you're not even going to bother reading my whole comment, let alone the material I referenced in it, then I see no point in continuing with this discussion.

    I suggest you check YOUR facts, and get back to me. Then we can continue.

    As far the Mensa reference is concerned, I put that in there because I have engaged in several discussions on the Mensa mailing list on the subject of crackpot pseudoscientists like Sitchin, Von Deiniken [sp], Vellikovsky [sp] and Hubbard. If I was to make a public apology to Sitchin, it would be only fair that I do so in a forum that I have used to denounce him in the past.

    The fact that I can pass the Mensa test and 98% of the human population can't has nothing to do with whether or not I paid for it. It's because I really am that smart. But it by no means makes me more credible. If you look at the context of the paragraph instead of just skimming it, you will see that I wasn't invoking the name of Mensa in an attempt to enhance my own credibility at all, I was merely stating a forum I belong to.

    And as for your harshness, I think it's gotten beyond a simple intellectual debate now, and you are beginning to get personal. I suggest that if you cannot contain yourself and limit your arguments to the facts at hand, then you should honour the agreement we made on Hide's blog and stop reading mine.

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  5. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Mensa, you’ll probably have a hard time finding sites discrediting it.

    The thing with Mensa is that it’s a social organization. Sure it selects its membership based on their IQ, which is a short-sighted and somewhat flawed concept since their membership test only examines two different types of intelligence and ignores all the others.

    Mensa acknowledges that the concept is flawed, but unfortunately the old-fashioned IQ test was the best tool available for measuring intelligence back when Mensa was founded. Since Mensa has a policy that insists you only ever take the test once, they have to continue using the old test so as to ensure old and new members are measured according to the same standard.

    Revising the standard represents an administrative burden that I think just sounds like too much like work for the Mensa top brass. It seems to work okay, and since it’s not really that important anyway, why bother changing it?

    The purpose of Mensa is to provide a forum for people who possess those types of intelligence in abundance to socialize with each other and discuss topics relevant to them. It’s a forum, not a movement.

    The organization Mensa holds no points of view and makes no claims aside from the measurable intelligence of its members. But just because its members are smarter than average doesn’t mean they are in any way more credible than other people.

    On the contrary, intelligent (and creative) people are more susceptible to cognitive dissonance and cognitive bias since they are more inherently able to concoct logical rationalizations and inferences for irrational behaviours, beliefs and thought-patterns than regular folks.

    So, if anything, my mentioning the fact that I am a Mensa member should detract from my credibility, not enhance it.

    (Good thing my argument isn't dependant on my own credibility, but rather on logic, reason, peer review and repeatable scientific evidence.)

    Mensans aren’t all scientists or sceptics, we have our share of religious fundamentalists and kooks too, just like any other aspect of society. The reason I enjoy the debates on the Mensa mailing list is because almost all the arguments are well presented, well thought out and well founded. It’s no fun arguing with stupid people… they just can’t keep up their end.

    So, if you’d like to go on a mission to discredit Mensa, go ahead. I can’t see what the purpose of that would be, but if you have a point to make then you should do it.

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  6. this wasnt at all suppose to be a lengthy topic. all i wanted to say was that you cannot judge something you do not really know. As far as insulting you, i have no reason to do that either. There arent any facts to get clear about here. When judging people, i dont think surfing about it is enough. I was just voicing my opinion....reread: "post a comment".

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  7. Okay, you’re still not getting it. And trying to blow it off saying you weren’t that interested in having this conversation in the first place just shows the weakness of your position. You’re quite right there aren’t any facts, there are indeed none supporting Sitchin’s argument.

    Sitchin is claiming to be a scientist, but he isn’t. He’s no more qualified in linguistics or archaeology than I am.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not I have read his books, because I am not an expert in the fields he claims to be an expert in either.

    But the people who wrote the articles I linked to above are experts in those fields. With nothing more than a few hours worth of surfing, I was able to find a wealth of information proving how every single one of Sitchin’s theories are incorrect, and not a stitch of evidence proving his theories are correct. That includes the copious text on his website… I don’t imagine his books would provide any more facts than his website does.

    If Sitchin is claiming to be a scientist, and proposes theories that oppose the theories generally accepted by the scientific community at large, then the burden of proof is on him to demonstrate why the mainstream is incorrect and he is correct. He has failed to do that.

    As a lay-person, all I can do is look at the evidence presented by both sides and evaluate it according to the practices of critical thinking. I have done that, and I have made my determination, or “judgement” as you put it.

    It offends me to see people like Sitchin, Hubbard, Trudeau, Robbins, von Däniken, Velikovsky and Hazelwood running around claiming to be scientists and polluting the minds of people that don’t know any better. And so I have made it my personal mission to denounce them at every opportunity in every forum I have access to, and that includes my blog.

    Of course you have the right to comment on my statements. But I don’t make these determinations lightly, and I do my research before I do so. If you challenge my determinations I will defend them by demonstrating the results of my research, as I have done above.

    If you really believe that my reading Sitchin’s books will alter my opinion at all, then I am obliged to read them. The prospect of wading through nine volumes of that twaddle really doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m sure as hell not going to dip into my HeroClix budget to pay for that crap. But if my opinion is so important to you, then I leave it to you to organize copies of his books for me to read. If you do, I will read them and deliver a full report-back on this blog.

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  8. ok. you realllly just dont get it.
    my comments were directed to YOU as a person not comments on mr sitchin or any other things mentioned. You can wave around knowledge and mensa whatevers...i dont care..nor does anyone else... and i dont have the time to waste on looking up crap in the first place...but clearly you do. probably the reason why you are still single. me giving up is not my weakness, but as i actaully work for a living and have a boyfriend in my life i dont have the time to debate this shit...
    but clearly its your weakness not being able to see the emotional meaning in what my first comment was about. You could have written a bad comment on freaking oprah...or penny heins... you cant critisise what you dont know. point. period. end of discussion.

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  9. Ok, you know what, if you're going to continue with the personal attacks then I'm just going to delete all your comments in future.

    If you can't have a factual debate without getting emotional and personal, then you're no longer welcome to comment on my blog.

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  10. You STILL dont get it. This is not about facts, and there is no facts to debate. Its about you making an unfair judgment without YOU even knowing all the facts. shame. anyway. clearly YOU are getting too emotional here. i wanted to help you realise that your statement wasnt fair...but hey you know the facts better. so, if it helps you sleep better at night, delete my comments if you want.

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  11. I got that, and I have tried repeatedly to demonstrate to you that I know precisely what I'm talking about.

    And you are wrong, this is ALL about facts. My opinion (or judgement) is based on facts. In science, facts are the only things that matter. I have the facts, and you don't.

    But instead of reviewing the information I have presented, you skim through it and extract bits and pieces that you can pick on out of context and in irrelevant ways.

    "You can wave around knowledge and mensa whatevers...i dont care..nor does anyone else... and i dont have the time to waste on looking up crap in the first place...but clearly you do. probably the reason why you are still single."

    This is not the statement of a rational adult. Instead of using evidence to refute my claim, you are attacking me personally.

    If you think there is something about Sitchin's theories that I don't know, then tell me what it is. Point out one single hole in my argument.

    You can't. Because your knowledge of my position is so deficient, thanks to your shortened attention span, you're trying to make an emotional appeal. And I'm not falling for it.

    I have conceded that I haven't read his books. And I have also conceded that I will read them if you believe that doing so will alter my opinion. But, of course, you didn't read that, and you're probably not reading this either.

    If your position is so weak that you can't produce evidence to support it, and have to resort to bitchiness to try and bully me into submission, then clearly this discussion is going nowhere.

    If you don't approve of my opinions or how I arrive at them, then either demonstrate my error, or else just stop reading this page.

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