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Debunking the Debunkers—Part 1

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on July 28, 2009 | Comments (0)

For over half a century, FATE magazine has continued to explore the paranormal. I’m very proud to say that for three years following Llewellyn’s purchase of the magazine, I was the editor-in-chief of FATE. I like to think I helped modernize it while keeping to its traditions. During my tenure, and thanks to those people working with me, circulation more than tripled.

FATE prides itself on presenting true reports of the paranormal. One of our goals with FATE was to present facts about strange phenomena without necessarily guessing as to the cause of the facts. As one TV network is now claiming, we really did report and let our readers decide.

One of the things we believed—and I still believe—is that many “debunkings” of anything and everything paranormal—ESP, UFOs, Past Lives, etc.—is done poorly. I’m not saying that every case indicating something paranormal is real, only that many of the so-called debunkings are bad science or bad logic. In one of the first instances of this, we reported on a case of SHC, spontaneous human combustion, where a person burst into flames and was consumed with no apparent cause. Two debunkers wrote in asking why we had not included their debunking of this particular case. Fair enough. I looked at what they had written in their debunking.

These two debunkers (and they remain big names in debunking circles) had done no investigation. They admitted that all they had done was talk about it! In the next issue of FATE I published their letter and explained what their “debunking” consisted of and why it wasn’t worth it to publish it. They never wrote again. This is what we called “debunking the debunkers.”

Unfortunately, although individuals may get upset about the bad science and bad logic (and outright fraud) used by some debunkers, there really hasn’t been much of a central area for people focused on this. I’m glad to say, however, that there really has developed a growing interest in this and if you would like to know more, I’d like to direct your attention to a group called SCEPCOP. That stands for the Scientific Committee Exposing Pseudo-Skeptical Cynicism Of the Paranormal.

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