« Skeptics' Circle #48 • The Rants • Temporarily Out of Service »
Credulous Asshats of the World: You Can't Have it Both Ways
2006.12.01 (Fri) 13:46
As we've mentioned in the past, we still gets lots of correspondence regarding our various posts on Allison DuBois. Even though we've shut down comments on some of the older posts, we still get a fair number of comments via our contact page, as well as on the posts where comments are still open. One such comment came to us a few days ago from kyoumans. Believe us when we say that this was one of the more intelligent retorts we've received from someone who disagreed with our position on Ms. DuBois. Don't misunderstand us, though — kyoumans' position is still very much incorrect. Here is the message we received:
This excerpt is from wikipedia and answers.com:
Regarding DuBois's claims to have worked with law enforcement, the Two Percent Company contacted the Texas Rangers, with whom DuBois claims to have worked, and were told by representatives of that agency that they have never utilized psychics, including DuBois. Attempts to investigate DuBois's alleged association with the Glendale, Arizona police department also met with negative results. DuBois claims that Two Percent was "misinformed by those agencies". Two Percent doubts this, arguing that the agencies would hardly have reason to deny using psychics if doing so yielded the positive results that DuBois claims. Two Percent also points out that these two agencies were explicitly named on NBC's official website for the show as late as February 1, 2005, but were deleted by the following month. Two Percent also argues that even if DuBois were confirmed to have worked with these agencies, it would not confirm the notion that she has psychic abilities, or that any criminals were captured as a result of her use of those abilities.
I went to your website to read more; I read the first installment about Allison Dubois but haven't found anything very compelling...It's hard for me to keep reading when your assumption that the police agencies had no reason to deny using psychics seems flawed. Common sense tells me they would have many reasons to deny it; loss of credibility and lawsuits to name a few. I expect many psychics would accept that their work will be kept secret.
I have been skipping around in your website and phrases like "incoherent and utterly fucking stupid beliefs" and "simple-minded, fuckheaded asshats of the world" does not help to make me want to continue reading.
The passage quoted is indeed an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Allison DuBois, but the conclusions that kyoumans has drawn are patently incorrect. Our reply to this oft-heard argument is below:
First things first: we didn't write the entries on Wikipedia or Answers.com. However, whoever did correctly points out the important aspect of this discussion that you seem to be missing when he says that "the agencies would hardly have reason to deny using psychics if doing so yielded the positive results that DuBois claims."
You speak of a loss of credibility and of lawsuits if the police admitted to using psychic assistance, but if the "psychics" were actually helping, and it could be demonstrated that they were, then why wouldn't [the police] come out and say it? Judging from people like you and from the countless others who have offered ridiculous responses to our DuBois Rants, the public is more than ready to buy into the psychic story; so with whom would the police lose credibility, and why would [losing credibility even be possible] if the psychic assistance actually worked?
In the real world, where psychics are fake, you are correct that there are many reasons for law enforcement to deny using psychics. After all, if they admitted that they leaned on one of these carny acts in a life or death situation, and spent days running down "the body is near water" leads, only to get nowhere in the investigation, there might be justified public outrage (though we tend to doubt it, based on the gullibility of the general public). However, if psychics were able to get actual results that definitively helped to solve a case, as Ms. DuBois claims to have done, then there would be no reason for law enforcement to deny using her "services." Remember, DuBois claims that the unbelievable events in the pilot of her show are accurate, and that her psychic abilities assisted directly in solving the case. So our basic assertion (not assumption) isn't at all flawed — your understanding of it is.
Finally, if someone is a simpleton, we call them a simpleton. If someone is a moronic asshat, we call them a moronic asshat. And if a set of beliefs is incoherent and utterly fucking stupid, then we call those beliefs incoherent and utterly fucking stupid. If you don't like our language, or our habit of calling a spade a spade, and if it doesn't make you want to keep reading, then by all means, don't keep reading. In all sincerity, we couldn't care less.
kyoumans presents an all-too-common argument that misses an important point. The argument holds that, in reality, police officers really do have good reason to hide their use of psychics from the public. And that's a true statement. But, what the argument ignores is that the reason that police in the real world are loathe to ever admit that they tried using "psychic assistance" to solve a case is because psychics are fakes and their "assistance" never helps to solve a case. As such, after realizing that they made an error in judgment, most police officers would likely choose to cover up their poor choice. However, if psychics were real, and if they performed as Allison DuBois claims to have performed in assisting law enforcement, then there would be no reason at all for the police to deny leveraging the "astonishing powers" of psychics. The flaw in this argument is really that simple.
But meanwhile, people like kyoumans want to have it both ways. They want to lean on the real world to point out that police officers truly do have good reasons to deny using psychic assistance (the public reaction to the police being shammed by charlatans); but they fail to grasp the fact that, if psychics were real, then the assertion that they just made is no longer valid (because they aren't charlatans, and they're not shamming). These folks rely on reality to make their point, but then they manage to handily forget all about the real world when it suits their needs to do so.
Bottom line — there are only three internally consistent options here:
- Psychics are real, and they can and do help police officers to solve cases. If this is true, then it's clear that the police have no reason to deny using psychic assistance. Logically, they should openly admit to this as, in a world where psychics are real, leaning on psychic input is clearly a wise move in any investigation.
- Psychics are not real, and when they try to help police officers solve cases, they only provide vague and/or misleading guesses that don't help at all in an investigation. If this is true, then then it's clear that the police have every reason to deny using psychic assistance. Logically, they should hide such choices from the public as, in a world where psychics are fake, leaning on the input of a so-called psychic is clearly an unwise move in any investigation.
- Psychics are real, but their abilities are fairly unreliable (due to lying spirits, or misinterpretations, or vague predictions), and when they try to help police officers solve cases, they only provide vague and/or misleading information that doesn't help at all in an investigation. After all, if we don't know whether a given prediction is true or if it's an outright lie told by the spirits to hinder the investigation, then the only logical choice is to ignore all of the predictions. If this hypothesis is true, then it's clear that the police have every reason to deny using psychic assistance. Logically, they should hide such choices from the public as, in a world where psychics are as unreliable as random guesswork, leaning on the input of a psychic whose abilities are no better than random guesswork is clearly an unwise move in any investigation.
No other combination of the above scenarios is logically valid (for example, psychics being fake and yet reliably aiding investigations makes no sense — the humorous premise of Psych aside — and psychics being real and reliably helping investigations but still somehow being an embarrassment to police is just as nonsensical). And what type of behavior do we see most often in practice? Right: police failing to publicly embrace the use of psychics. So, that means that either they aren't real, or they are real but their predictions are so unreliable that they can't be differentiated from random educated guesses. If anything, the fact that police do not openly and publicly embrace the use of psychics provides some evidence that psychics are fake or, at the very least, completely useless.
And please, don't give us any crap about the police being afraid to validate psychics because it would put them out of a job if psychics were real. If psychics were real (which they're not), and if they were as effective as Ms. DuBois claims to be (which they're also not), then not only would police officers be out of a job, but most of the rest of us would be as well. How could anyone compete for just about any job when they're up against someone who sees all and knows all? (Think about it: you work in information technology, and a router is having problems. While you try to run diagnostics and go through troubleshooting steps, Psychic Bob the IT manager announces that the spirits have confirmed a bad chip on the supervisor module, and promptly solves the problem. Damn you, Psychic Bob!) So the question isn't whether the police are keeping their psychic connections on the down-low to protect their jobs, the question is why psychics haven't already taken over every job in the marketplace, including law enforcement (and, we might add, the stock market and professional gambling circuits). We're pretty confident that we know the answer to that question. [Yeah: "It doesn't work that way." Except, of course, Allison has made it clear that it does. Sheesh. — Ed.]
So the next time someone tosses this nugget of crap on your plate, just point them here. We've made this argument more times than we can count, and if we can save you a little bit of pain, we're happy to help.
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Tycho the Dog, 2006.12.07 (Thu) 07:57 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2006.12.07 (Thu) 14:49 [Link] »
Ben McKnight, 2007.03.01 (Thu) 22:03 [Link] »
Bronze Dog, 2007.03.01 (Thu) 22:53 [Link] »
BethanytheMartian, 2007.10.28 (Sun) 01:37 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2007.10.28 (Sun) 13:18 [Link] »
Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.10.28 (Sun) 13:25 [Link] »
TonyBaker, 2008.09.28 (Sun) 15:43 [Link] »
Bronze Dog, 2008.09.29 (Mon) 23:55 [Link] »
Jason Spicer, 2008.09.30 (Tue) 03:07 [Link] »
Melanie, 2011.01.28 (Fri) 11:23 [Link] »
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