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The Baloney Detection Kit (on RDF TV)

broadcast June 2009 | comments (54)

With a sea of information coming at us from all directions, how do we sift out the misinformation and bogus claims, and get to the truth? Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, lays out a “Baloney Detection Kit” — ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim.

The Ten Questions

  1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
  2. Does the source make similar claims?
  3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
  4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
  5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
  6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
  7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
  8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
  9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
  10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

Credits

This is the first video by RDFTV.
Presented by The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Directed by Josh Timonen
Produced by Maureen Norton
Animation by Pew 36 Animation Studios
Music by Neal Acree
Post Production Sound by Sound Satisfaction
Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer: Gary J. Coppola, C.A.S.
Sound Editor: Ben Rauscher
Production Assistant: Graham Immel
Copyright © 2009 Upper Branch Productions, Inc.

topics in this broadcast: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

54 Comments to “The Baloney Detection Kit (on RDF TV)”

  1. Matt Says:

    Thanks for putting this together.

  2. LSK Says:

    Two more:

    - How reproducible is the event/ability made in the claim?
    - Have similar claims been made in the past? If not, why not?

  3. Mauro Says:

    I don’t buy this “science is the best tool ever devised” thing. Not that it isn’t, but any skeptic (anyone skeptical of science, I mean) will quickly point out that this is not a credible claim about science and that religion or God or Deepak Chopra or gut feeling are better. (I don’t remember where I saw some woman who wanted to teach her kids creationism rather than evolution because it was easier to learn.)

    Rather, Science is the name we give to truth and rationality. It’s not a rival of religion, like alchemy and the worship of the gods of other nations; it’s just thought and experience. Science is not special. The assumption that everything can be explained by science isn’t special, either, because the definition of science is that it’s what explains everything. I think it’s not really correct to say that “science is” anything.

  4. Spoon Phillips Says:

    Science isn’t anything. But it certainly is something. One often hears scientists and those in training saying things like “lets do some science” of that someone had “done some good science.”

    It IS something specific. The Scientific Method is a system that can become a way of life. It is so much a part of how we see the world now as to be taken for granted.

    As far as we know, it first appeared in the Greek colonies of Ionia in the centuries centering around the year 500 BC. It sprang up other places but always it was ultimately suppressed – sometimes viciously, until very recently in our history.

    As Carl Sagan might have put it, of all the systems or ways of trying to understand the universe and “reality”, when it comes to everything from curing illness to predicting the future to discovering how things really are, nothing bests the success rate and record of science. Nothing comes remotely close.

  5. Walt French Says:

    There are at least a couple of other interesting issues that are not raised here. I will assume that Mr. Shermer is smarter about these than I am but not sufficiently so as to know how to present them to non-scientific audiences.

    First is the cost to the individual or society from falsely rejecting a true claim, and the pain of accepting a false claim, as compared to the benefits of correctly accepting what is TRUE and rejecting the false. First raised by Fermat and chronicled well in Peter Bernstein’s “Against the Gods,” our society enshrines the importance of this issue in the presumption of innocence — better to let a few crooks go than to hang an innocent person.

    The second issue is that none of these tests are performed in a vacuum by computers. Each of us brings a different set of experiences and trusted sources to the party, and we make a “Bayesian” decision as to how far the evidence moves us from our prior beliefs. Those of us who are not professional skeptics (and I would be happier if I could devote more of my time to Mr. Shermer’s type of efforts), get to deal with small questions — was MJ really a molester? — with way too little, and way too conflicting, evidence, and way too little justification for our getting involved in learning more.

    The net of all these leaves at least this reader with the sad thought that no matter how thoughtful these guidelines are, they probably don’t do much to help us with some of the real conundrums we face as a society, many of which , are of high importance. Global warming? Evolution? Effectiveness of tax cuts vs other stimuli? How quickly should we leave Afghanistan, if at all?

    On many of these issues, I see supposedly trustworthy people (e.g., a multi-term US Senator) who have consistently promoting what I consider palpable lies, in a media environment where trusted networks amplify the distortions and real experts, who are not media-skilled, are belittled or silenced. How will these guidelines help us make better decisions?

  6. Frank Johnson Says:

    This is basically a commerical for Global Warming.

    Al Gore must have had script approval?

  7. Bob Coppock Says:

    What about following the money? Who is paying the person making the claim? Is that fact disclosed?

  8. Craig Says:

    It’s an interesting set of guidelines, but it can require some deep fact checking to pull the truth out. Case in point: Parapsychology has demonstrated the existence of psi to the point where it meets any sane scientific standard. To discover this though, means wading through a great deal of information and weeding out the extraneous stuff, much of it generated by skeptics.

  9. Ellen M Martin Says:

    one more:
    1. does believing the claim confer financial, political, religious or other benefits on the claimant?

  10. Henk van der Gaast Says:

    Snip
    Case in point: Parapsychology has demonstrated the existence of psi to the point where it meets any sane scientific standard. To discover this though, means wading through a great deal of information and weeding out the extraneous stuff
    Snip

    You know my mother? wow! like on the psi realm or did you cheat by flying over here by astral travel.

    In Australia we say our bullsh+t sniffer is working over time. Frankly, to make a claim like that you would have to have a very good tome of repeatable trials.. If skeptics get in the way of your claims, then you have been busted.

    Skeptics are reasonable people who let you present your case. People like me ask you not to bother me or my children with your world view.

    Science, whether for good or bad, is responsible for almost every thing you do in life. Without it, you probably be somewhere else scratching for food and eeking out a day to day existence being beaten up by alpha males cronies and without a mate.

    How’s your crystal ball now? If you are sick, ask an angel for guidance, dont use a medico’s valuable time.

  11. Daniel Wenz Says:

    It would be easier to leave a comment if only I could clearly see much of the content, especially at both ends of each row of the black print on a gray background with my 76 year old eyes!

  12. Agent 86b Says:

    Agree with Frank Johnson.

    Whatever the science behind global warming, claiming it a world-threat is an opportunity which must be grasped (Alinsky follower BO).

    Isn’t diminishing freedom a small price to pay to save the world?

    If science suggest that no immediate actions will affect near term outcome, say over 50-100 years, perhaps adapting to this fact would be more rational.
    But that is not the political point.

    Maybe ulterior motives should be first on Shermer’s list.

  13. James Adkins Says:

    Very good. Not only is science the best way to explain how the world works, it is the only way to explain how the world works.
    James Adkins

  14. Morgan MacLaren Says:

    This is awesome!

  15. Bill Morgan Says:

    It would be good if some Skeptics would apply the scientific method to government cover-ups on national security issues. I have seen Skeptics debunk many things that need to be debunked like psychics who claim to see the future and read your palm, etc. However, these same Skeptics take as de facto truth what our government tells us about political assassinations, Israel’s attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967, how building 7 collapsed at free fall speed at 5:20 pm on 9/1/01 when it was not hit by any plane, etc. The Government Intelligence Agencies get a pass from the scientific method by some big name Skeptics. Why don’t they use their B.S. detectors on government cover-ups?? Do they not understand that governments lie to the people when it comes to national security?

  16. Frank Jenkins Says:

    Here is my list that I use with my students.
    What is the experimental design?
    Was there a clinical study?
    Was this a double-blind (clinical) study?
    What was the placebo, if any?
    Was there a placebo effect?
    What controls were employed?
    Was there a control group?
    What is the sample size and is it a random sample?
    Was the study published in a refereed journal?
    Is the study correlational or causal?
    What was the length/term of the study?
    Has the study been replicated by a different research group?
    Was the difference between groups statistically significant?
    What degree of certainty is expressed?
    Who were the scientists?
    Who provided the grant for the study?

  17. Kathy Berken Says:

    I love science. I majored in math and taught that for ten years. I also love the beauty of mystery found in math and science. That’s my bridge to the spirit. I am also a skeptic but as much as I respect science and its methods and discoveries, etc., I think it’s important to respect mystery, too and what it has to offer our contemplative selves. I doubt that one could really exist without the other in the long run, but I get frustrated when some scientists refuse to accept the mystery, and some spiritual people (for lack of a better description) refuse to accept the scientific reason. As a mathematician I can believe in any God i want, and now as a theology student on the graduate level, I am careful not to believe just any old thing.

  18. P K Narayanan (Dr) Says:

    This ‘Detection kit’ is of tremendous value as a tool to be adopted and as a kit to be employed where one needs to sift falsehood and to establish truth. It is meant for baloney detection, meant to isolate foolishness and nonsense contained in all what is put forth in the name of ‘mystery’, ‘parapsychology’, ‘psi’ ‘extraterrestrial phenomena’, ‘extrasensory experiences’ and the so called
    ‘miracles’ of god, godmen, godwomen, priests, representatives of god et al. I am certain that even the author (of the kit) would even remotely agree that these
    ten questions are in any way concerned with “global warming, depletion of biosphere, tax cuts, leaving Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan” and these kits are
    seldom tools to interfere with the present day politics.

    Is it not pathetic that in the name of skepticism, many a religion-centric critic misquotes and misinterprets what is science and what is meant by science? They seldom seem to understand that “science” is a branch of knowledge or study
    dealing with a body of facts and truths systematically arranged, showing the operation of general laws in the physical and material world. They go on arguing that every thing cannot be explained or understood in and by “science”. They say there are mysteries in nature which are inexplicable in science; they say there are extra-sensory experiences which cannot be explained by science. But they
    never venture to pin-point as to what is that particular inexplicable and extra-sensory experience that defies science? Their exclusive ploy is to declare that every thing cannot be explained in science:

    During my past experience of more than two decades as a miracle exposure campaigner, I say, I could not find a single extrasensory experience undergone by devotees themselves or experienced at the hands of priests and godmen which defied scientific explanation. Almost all such cases are simple hallucinatory perceptions based on delusions of the subjects which could be amply illustrated
    by and through experiments with replicable results. All what are claimed and or declared as unamenable to “science” are events or occurrences beyond the level of being objectively understood or deciphered by an individual or a group of individuals at a given time or situation and the propaganda relating to such events or occurrences unleashed with sugar coating by and at the hands of vested interests.

    These “kits” are very valuable; may I call the “kit” the ‘ten commandments’of skeptics.

  19. Amoeba Says:

    Carl Sagan once said:
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    Richard Feynman once said:
    ‘..,Nature cannot be fooled.’

    I reckon they were right.

  20. Bob J Says:

    If I showed my friends the Baloney Detsction kit 10 questions I would have to talk for an hour on #9,6 and 4. For most of my friends #10. “Are personal beliefs driving the clame?” That is how they and a lot of people run their life they must believe it works for them. Chiropractors have counted on this for years.

  21. John Says:

    I don’t know with absolute certainty that science is the best tool ever devised for finding out how the world works and for determining what to deem credible, but it’s the best method that I’ve found in my 50 trips around the sun. Sure, science has its limitations, but what doesn’t? At least science is self-correcting. If anyone knows of something better, please let me know. I hate it when I miss out on effective ways to see the universe for what it is. I prefer to deal with reality on its own terms.

  22. Peter Salonius Says:

    Michael

    I am interested that you did a whole magazine issue on the climate warming question — and that you came down on the side of the government driven and financed, preconceived IPCC hypothesis that climate change (after a whole Earth history of natural warming and cooling/ glaciation and deglaciation without human input) is caused by human emissions of carbon containing gases.

    I trust that you will find interest in my response to a recent comment in a discussion group that:

    “[The skeptics' argument // about CO2 increases lagging temperature increases [by several hundred years during deglaciation/warming] is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. Also, the initial warming accelerates marine and terrestrial decomposition, contributing to rising CO2. However, within a few hundred years, the increased CO2 greenhouse effect takes over and temperature then follows rising CO2 levels as expected from basic greenhouse science.”

    To counter this speculative explanation about “CO2 greenhouse effect takes over”,I quote Frank Lasner thus:

    “the real problems for the CO2-rescue hypothesis appears when temperature drops again[DURING REGLACIATION/COOLING]. During almost the entire temperature fall, CO2 only drops slightly. In fact, CO2 stays in the area of maximum CO2 warming effect. So we have temperatures falling all the way down even though CO2 concentrations in these concentrations were supposed to be a very strong upwards driver of temperature.” — see explanation and excellent graphics at:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/30/co2-temperatures-and-ice-ages/

    Micharl, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has been busy for more than a decade programming our brains to believe that if we could just mitigate climate warming [that has been shown to be a natural phenomenon that we have no influence on], see:

    ‘There Is No Evidence’ by David Evans at:

    http://sciencespeak.com/NoEvidence.pdf

    – then we will achieve long-term sustainability. This programming has left little room in the public mind for addressing situations than we CAN influence such as population overshoot, non renewable energy depletion, ocean fisheries depletion, soil mass and nutrient capital degradation by cultivation agricuture etc.

    Peter Salonius

  23. J. D. Draeger Says:

    Funny how some commenters have displayed confirmation bias in their comments–ignoring the majority of the evidence and cherry-picking only tidbits that appear to support their belief. Apparently they ignored the last question on the list.

    Anyway, excellent video Michael! Pure gold. Even as a skeptic I can find nothing to criticize about it. All those involved should be commended.

  24. P K Narayanan (Dr) Says:

    It is a harsh reality that man made hazards like release of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases into the biosphere, destruction of forests, disproportionate consumption of natural resources et al are reasons for serious concerns in the path of survival of the species including humans as they are at present. If we closely purview the other side of the picture, we may convince ourselves that any concern to retain what are all of the present form and what are all of the present existence of the living and non-living organisms for years to come in the onward journey in space, would be a fallacy. Our beloved Earth was not like what it is today, trillions of years ago: Did it not take thousands and thousands of years for living organisms to appear on the earth. We know that in the beginning of this process of transformation, there were no plants, no trees, no birds and no animals including humans on this planet.

    The present earth with all its trees and plants and resources, did not so far end in a disaster or ecological calamity even though destruction due to several natural calamities like endless earth quakes, volcanoes, wild fires, torrential rains and floods were the order of the years that passed by but the original planet continued to exist.

    The nature has that particular capability of equilibrating itself with the environs and the changes that take place from time to time including what happens in space. This process of equilibration is applicable to all living organisms including plants, animals and humans. The right course of approach for every one would be to be optimistic and to allow nature to reach whatever stage it reaches while at the same time to keep a semblance of balance and contentment about what every one needs and consumes. It is the greatest truth that no concerns can change the course of nature.

  25. Gary Says:

    For “Mauro Says:
    June 26th, 2009 at 12:14 am

    I don’t buy this “science is the best tool ever devised” thing. Not that it isn’t, but any skeptic (anyone skeptical of science, I mean) will quickly point out that this is not a credible claim about science and that religion or God or Deepak Chopra or gut feeling are better.”

    I want to inform you that guts are full of shit and so are the others that you claim is better than science.

    Gary

  26. Monty Arch Says:

    I am now skeptical of skeptics like Michael Shermer who believe in man-made global warming. Perhps Shermer is a pseudo-skeptic?

  27. Michelle Says:

    Amen!

  28. Michelle Says:

    Amen to Michael Shermer that is, not to “Monty Arch”

  29. Stefan Says:

    Monty Arch: So…someone who does not agree with your world view is not a skeptic? #10 please… We can’t seriously discuss Global Warming evidence pro or con in a forum like this, but… Yes, the jury is still out, but #6. Arctic Sea ice… World Temperature maps over the last century, CO2 levels, amount of fossil fuels burned, acidity of oceans, Greenland’s unprecedented melting, changing of temperate animal habitats to the north…and all this at historically unprecedented rates. I for one will be happy if it’s a mere blip! But to ignore it is basically fox news.

  30. Wendy Prahms Says:

    Whether the present global warming is a natural phenomenon or caused by humans, anything we do to try & halt it is locking the stable door when the horse has bolted.

  31. Stefan Says:

    Wendy – Not to be a stikcler, but that sounds very non-skeptical/non-scientific and like a defeatist attitude. There is no evidence to support the do-nothing approach…

  32. Wendy Prahms Says:

    Stefan –
    Since when was a ‘defeatist attitude’ the same as non-scientific/non-sceptical? Surely it has more in common with both than ‘la-la-la I can’t hear you’ stubborn optimism has?

    One of the earlier comments said there is still a lot to be done that IS achievable: I agree with him/her. World-wide clean water supplies would be a start. And if global warming struck us down a few years after we’d achieved that, at least we’d all go together. As things stand, measures to ‘halt’ global warming leave entire poor populations stuck in poverty with no prospect of even a few years of comfort.

  33. Stefan Says:

    Wendy – just to be clear, I was not equating a defeatist attitudes with non-scientific/non-skeptical – I was simply stating my opinion on how the previous comment came across to me – as both defeatist and non-scientific.

    I don’t follow your poverty logic unless you mean that trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions is taking us away from improving the lot of those in poverty.

    One thing that would surely help besides clean water is curbing the number of offspring people are having in the 3rd world. It’s not an all or nothing proposal between climate change and addressing poverty.

    IMO – forget pure defeatism, forget unbridled optimism – Skepticism is all about being as realistic as possible and seeing what we can do. For that – we need valid, sound, evidence based arguments – as a start. The rest is marketing, I suppose.

  34. Wendy Prahms Says:

    Stefan – Yes, I do mean that trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions is taking us away from improving the lot of those in poverty. Just when some poor societies have got grid electicity for the first time they are being told not to use it because it contributes to global warming. (Yes I know it does but that didn’t stop us 100 years ago). And developing nations like India & China the biggest ‘polluters’ at present, are being told to choose between going ahead with modernisation or staying where they are for the sake of everyone else.

    Why should they not get their turn at comfortable modern life, even if only for a few years?

    Wendy

  35. Stefan Says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I agree for the most part. We can’t tell them to kill their economy now – but even china is starting to put up the biggest wind farm in the world in the Gobi Desert, they get it. Let them have their power now – but let’s not kill the progress we’ve started and see if we can nudge our way into less polluting, invasive energy technologies all over the world. It’s not going to happen overnight – but slow and steady wins the race, as they say…

    By the way – just an aside – did anybody see the Nova episode on “Global Dimming”(2007?)? They showed evidence that the particulates in the air have been decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching the ground and may have been the major factor in causing droughts in Africa. As we get cleaner technology, the earth will warm up faster…so here we go (if it’s actually what’s happened) – the old double edged sword again.

  36. Sean Says:

    Brilliant and well produced video. The Science community should be campaigning to have this shown in religious classes!

  37. Timothy Arends Says:

    Dr. Shermer says that “there should be no “right” or “left” in discussions about global warming, just scientific facts, and the scientific facts say there IS global warming.” BUT, how does he know that his own unconscious political leaning is not coloring HIS interpretation of those facts, the same thing he is accusing his opponents of doing?

    The fact is that there are areas of science out of which it is almost impossible to keep one’s personal views. Take racial differences in personality and aptitudes, for example. This is an area of science that is almost closed off to discussion because it is so controversial. http://www.newsweek.com/id/193534

    Science is not immune to politics. Not by a long shot.

  38. Ron Pate Says:

    In your recent video, “The Baloney Detection Kit“, I was disappointed to see your dismissive attitude towards “climate change deniers.”

    You should know that there are differences among deniers. Some reject the whole IPCC package, i.e., deny that global warming is happening and that it has been scientifically proven that the driver is anthropogenic CO2. Others, like me, deny only that the anthropogenic CO2 connection has been scientifically proven.

    Initially, I accepted the hypothesis based on Al Gore’s scary presentation. However, after studying Patrick Frank’s, “A Climate of Belief” (SKEPTIC, Vol.14, No. 1, 2008), and being a retired instrumentation engineer, it became clear that an integral part of the scientific method has not been presented to the public: the cumulative effect of data uncertainties on the predictions of temperature changes. You would know that, to be useful and credible, the results of statistical analyses are presented with error limits.

    In the interests of brevity, I will not, here, re-iterate Patrick Frank’s analyses which he so ably presents in the SKEPTIC article. Suffice it to say that ad hominem attacks are unwarranted for deniers that the anthropogenic CO2 connection has been “scientifically proven,” consensus or not.

    Ronald W. Pate, P.Eng (retired)

  39. Monty Arch Says:

    #29 Stefan Says: “Monty Arch: So…someone who does not agree with your world view is not a skeptic? ” What’s not to agree with my world view?

  40. Pat Frank Says:

    Thanks for your comments in #38, Ronald. I may have more forthcoming that you, as an instrumentation engineer, will find, perhaps, pretty astonishing.

    It struck me, recently, that use of the term “denier” by many AGW believers to describe the position of AGW skeptics is a misappropriation of the position of skeptics very analogous to the misappropriation of “atheist” by religious believers.

    Religious believers tendentiously define “atheism” as ‘denying the existence of god,’ when in fact it means living without a god belief. The latter is a very different position from mere denial, as everyone in this forum knows well.

    And so, regarding AGW, skeptics are not “deniers” of climate warming, or climate change. They are skeptics of the scientific evidence, and therefore live without a belief in AGW.

    Calling AGW skeptics “deniers” is just a believer’s first step in squelching dissent by demonizing. Demonizing a position is the easiest way to blockade rational challenge, and that blockade is the sole rationale for the tactic.

    And addressing the specific point of scientific evidence for AGW: There is none whatever.

  41. dennis trimble Says:

    It now appears that ‘climate science’ has been horribly corrupted.
    Who is doing this and to what end?

    The public mistrust of science now appears to be vindicated.
    Science will forever suffer for these misdeeds.

    “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” – Juvenal

  42. emil snijer Says:

    Almost everybody who leaves a message here, is talking in terms of; I find, I believe, I disagree and so fort. I want to stress that it’s NOT of any importance whatsoever you individuals can go along the way or not. The whole story about science is to think beyond youre own superficial area. Not in terms of personal likeliness. Truth is thuth, and it is so because of rules, not beacause it benefits you, or gives support for own personal beliefs that accompany your mind story and fantasies.
    Science is purely honest thinking, and those who cheat will walk the lamp. Don’t think in personal terms, if it is about universality

  43. Rachael Says:

    If this video is to be considered through the eyes of a scientific skeptic, then perhaps it would be best to avoid comments about Schermer’s unconscious?

  44. Dougie Says:

    The climategate emails have shown how being skeptical of AGW was a fair choice. When will Mr. Shermer produce a video and discuss how he was misled on many points by the AGW believers?

  45. Earl Says:

    I love the baloney detection kit. I started using it on everything! It was so much fun, until I turned it on Free Will. That was the first one that really let me down and dissapointed me- took the wind out of my sails. Freedom is baloney; it does not really exist, it is a fallacy. No supporting evidence for it’s existence. Everything is deterministic. Ouch. Then I turned it on Justice. Unfortunately, Justice does not exist. It is a fallacy. It is baloney. Right and wrong do not exist. Then I turned it on Reason. As it turns out, Reason is a joke; some kind of meaningless pointless useless twisted delusion that has brought nothing of value to the universe; I can’t even prove that anything outside of my own perception actually exists. Then I turned the baloney detection kit on Value. Turns out there is no such thing, Value does not really exist. Everything is meaningless and equally worthless. My senses cannot be trusted. I hate everything. What do I do now?

  46. Earl Says:

    I’ve been thinking more… what if all the religions and philosophies of the world were actually various people’s “baloney detection kits?” What if that’s how religions got started? People were looking at the world around them, pondering the world inside their heads, and trying to discuss their ideas with eachother. What if people began noticing that their beliefs had strong correlation with their actions? What if people started realizing that ideas have consequences and only good ones should be promoted, while bad ones should be dissuaded? What if people began creating baloney detection kits in order to bring order to the marketplace of ideas, and then people started subscribing to their kits because certain kits made the most sense than others? What if baloney detection and world views are actually the same thing, and everyone has been trying to come up with good explanations of nature and humanity in order to weed out the baloney?

    Then I imagine after some time people began questioning the baloney kits they were given by their parents. They asked: what makes you think your kit is true? What source of knowledge to you draw upon that is anything more than your personal opinion? Why should I accept your baloney kit on your authority alone?

    What if all the religions and philosophies of the world are just different ways to view the world around us and process the information we encounter? What if they are all baloney detection kits? Which one is true? Does truth exist? Has any baloney detection kit ever proven that truth exists?

  47. emil snijer Says:

    To Earl,

    Hello, I want to make a few comments. This is about making claims. How do you want to make a claim on freedom? Justice is the action done out of a set of rules. The law is not a claim for truth, but agreements for doing justice as good as it gets. Of course do right and wrong not exist as a number or weight. The weight is the effect it has on us people. Therefore nobody can claim it. Only a madman kills out of his conviction for doing good. Its merely a set of agreements, in which most of us can agree.
    Value is personal. sometimes by agreement. Van Gogh’s paintings… To make a claim on value, is absurd. no evidence for it. So value is also a group issue.
    This baloney detection kit is for statements that direct to a specific claim. Not on value but factors that make things happen. Things that have an outcome through that specific thing the claim is based on.

  48. Winston Says:

    The critics of this video are ridiculous.

    Michael stated “You shouldn’t believe anybody based on authority or any position they might hold.”

    Look up the evidence yourselves. Michael doesn’t want you to take his word for it. Idiots.

  49. sheroniak Says:

    Mr. Shermer doesn’t believe in AGW. He makes his money from the left. Do you think they would invite him back to do lectures at any of the the california colleges if he railed against AGW. I think he’s pretending to accept AGW for what he believes to be the greater good of skepticsm at at least his part of it.

  50. frederick Says:

    now science has strengthen my most used statements. which is “the proof is the pudding”.and what this means is that proof is what’s real.

  51. Ahmad Says:

    Can science put a value to art?
    Can it say which art is more beautiful than another?

    Can science produce life or create a protein life from new?
    Do you actually believe in Darwinism which has been disproved over and over again?

    In a way science is like economics. They can explain why one thing happened from any angle or perspective, but they can’t do much about it. I’d like science a whole lot more if we can use it to turn politicians into tadpoles.

  52. Ellen Says:

    what is about metaphysical matters? what is about time line of science progress, how about Earth being flat and only later being discovered not so? Science is always subject of the up to the date discoveries and not an absolute truth on time line.
    And even science now accepts placebo effect as real.
    By the way I am an engineer(MSEEE) with an experience in physics research.
    Best regards,
    Ellen

  53. Robert Bowersock Says:

    I do understand what the guy in the video is saying about. In regards to social class and how are things built prier to modern technological gadgets we have today. As to some people who believe in these end of the world baloney nonsense that seams to be every year there’s always some guy predicting the world will on such & such date and time, as for those who believe in Ufos, Ghost, Paranormal activity’s are complete Baloney. As are fear in terrorism is true and could i major attack on a unsuspecting city might possibly happen after the death of terrorist osama bin laden (al Queda leader formally) it may spark a major terrorist attack worst then 9/11. For example: How people reacted to the beating Rodney king in 1991 by the four LAPD police officer’s witch spark the 1992 La riots with a result of 53 deaths & 3000 injuries. As i do think science is real and is why there is a lot of modern stuff today. Honestly i don’t take the word form anybody especially people like Barrack Obama who is a liar and make people think we out of the recession in 2011 but lied as we were still in it. Police chief’s and sheriff’s are suppose to earn the public trust to earn integrity during there career.

  54. M Says:

    Why hasn’t anyone said that there “Must be a picture of the object in question to be clear and not blurry?” Why is it that every picture of what is “supernatural” always is out of focus? Can’t anyone hold a camera still? Amazing!

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