International Earthlight Alliance

You can always recognize the pioneers by the arrows in their backs…

IEA recognizes the need for skepticism as a valuable component of the scientific method and discovery process. We believe that both data and theory should be continuously questioned and scrutinized. IEA is willing to let go of pet ideas when the facts do not support them. Only by constant reality testing can we discover the truth. This is the positive use of skepticism.

However, negative skepticism has impeded scientific investigation of many leading edge topics unjustly and inappropriately. Skeptics may gain notoriety and profit by writing articles attacking the efforts of scientists working at the boundaries of conventional theory. These skeptics may actually, intentionally or unintentionally, obstruct research leading to significant discoveries that might otherwise be made. When they “de-popularize” leading-edge topics, scientists do not venture into these areas for fear of ridicule. IEA maintains that questions deserve answers and that answers should be questioned. No question should be “taboo” simply because it has been impaled on a skeptic’s barb.

The quality of skeptics’ assertions should be questioned as much as any other scientific theory or hypothesis. But somehow, skeptics’ assertions seem to escape the questioning process that is a mainstay of the scientific method. Frequently, skeptics are unaware of how to practice the scientific method because they are not actual researchers. They often select data to prove their point. Optimally, researchers reach conclusions and hypotheses after evaluating a complete set of data at hand. Skeptics rarely take the time to understand and evaluate all the facts. Rather, they separate parts of the data relevant to their points of view, to use as fuel and “proof” to negatively oppose scientists’ endeavors. Sociologist Marcello Truzzi distinguished between constructive skepticism (which he termed “zeteticism”) on one end of a continuum and a thinly-veiled form of propangandizing to promote one’s existing belief system (usually religious). Truzzi suggested that a true, open-minded skeptic approached data with no preconceptions—those skeptics who used their criticism simply to maintain a “status quo” position were not truly skeptics. For the sake of discussion in this paper, we will refer to open-minded skeptics as “zetetics” and those working to further their own positions as “skeptics.”

Skeptics rarely offer alternative ideas, as is done in good scientific dialogue. Rather, they negatively target and attempt to wrongly discredit research topics as well as targeting scientists supposedly in the name of “science.” Instead of writing for scientific journals where their opinions can be scrutinized by scientists (“peer reviewing”), skeptics frequently bypass peer-review and directly distribute their opinions via mass media to a public often incapable of discerning the validity of their opinions. The wide distribution of skeptical viewpoints via mass media discourages legitimate investigation of leading-edge topics because the skeptic’s public assertions create obstacles to funding of valid scientific efforts. Appealing to the public directly via mass media adds to the public’s confusion about the validity of all leading-edge topics including Earthlights.

We need a reality check on skepticism
Skeptics’ assumptions and viewpoints can be mistaken, or even intentionally misleading. Skeptics’ opinions can be written in technical terms that sound scientific (“technobabble”) but in fact may be as unfounded as the claims they attempt to dispel. Skeptics promote their (seldom experimentally-verified) opinions as reality rather than as the hypotheses they are. Unfortunately, the public often accepts skeptics’ opinions because there is a tacit belief that scientific-sounding negative criticism is more valid than exploration and discovery.

Skeptics often accuse leading edge scientists of tenaciously attempting to prove their theories. The reverse is also true. Skeptics may also be extremely rigid in their quest to prove a point, as much so as the scientists they often accuse of the same behavior. For instance, skeptics often believe that because they have proclaimed a plausible mechanism that such mechanism then applies to each and every incident or circumstance of a phenomenon. Often, as is the case for Earthlights, there are multiple causes for light observations. A skeptic may be correct in explaining a particular observation as car headlights. But he has not gone far enough. Car headlights only apply to part of the observations. There are many observations, such as those in the air at close range, which could not possibly be car headlights. It would be very mistaken to dismiss the entire phenomenon as having been explained in this manner.

The mystery of Earthlights will eventually be solved by assigning various causes to various observations. Most Earthlight observations are artifacts, explained by ordinary means. However, after artifactual explanations are eliminated, there remains a residual that cannot be explained by the existing taxonomy. This does not mean that this residual is supernatural or inexplicable, it may simply mean our knowledge and theories are at present incomplete and awaiting new theory and technology that may demystify the phenomena.

“Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with , which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to...Anyone will renovate his science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena, and when science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules.” -William James

The best means to gain knowledge and reveal truth is by impartial, thorough, and extensive evaluation of available scientific data using state-of-the-art technology and professional expertise. IEA welcomes alternative viewpoints as part of hypothesis testing and scientific advancement. Empirical observations, and open minds without preconceived notions, are needed in Earthlight investigation. That is IEA’s mission.

Page by Marsha Hancock Adams, February 24, 2004

close window






Copyright 2003-2011. International Earthlight Alliance. All rights reserved.