Originally Posted by orangekea
I am sure you are technically correct, Darrell (I trust you on this). However this is a matter of personal attitude: I tend to take an opposing argument seriously, even if it turns out flat out wrong.
I'm different. When someone relates a story of some extraordinary event, I consider it worthy of evaluation if it has credible witnesses, credible documentation and credible circumstances. Of course any tangible evidence is like gold (and usually just as rare).
What I find usually happens next is a bunch of self appointed intellectual types attacking the story from all aspects, rationalizing all sorts of alternate non-extraordinary explanations in a rabid exercise of debunking, motivated by the fact that they happen to disbelieve (prejudge) in the possibility that the story might be true. They usually go so far as to outright ignore even testing or investigating the data presented. And some of the alternate explanations they come up with are so outrageous as to be downright laughable; and the so called skeptics that come up with such debunking attempts should be literally laughed out of the community. There should be consequences for incompetence!
So ... I expect even more from the skeptics than I do from the story originators. I expect them to first show that they are aware of what the relevant data is and have all their facts straight before they attempt to debunk it. I also expect them to have credibility as debunkers, to pose reasonable counter arguments and to consider the combined probability of all their ifs, ands and buts adding up to a more likely explanation than that offered by the story originator. As you might imagine, many skeptics disappoint me.
In other words, I require more of the person that calls another a liar or a fool than I do of the story originator. You will often find that skeptics play a game of dodge ball in this regard. They try to make the logic claim that the onus is upon the teller of extraordinary events to provide all the evidence of confirmation and that they have no requirements upon them to do likewise when attempting debunking. But is that actually reasonable? I don't think so.
It is a legal maxim that what can be uttered without proof can also be denied without proof; and I agree. But I also think its reasonable for all parties to do their best to arrive at the truth, which ever side happens to be right. And for debunking to be reasonable, it must have all its facts straight, it must conform to what the witnesses observed and it must account for all known circumstances surrounding the event in a way that a reasonable person could conceive of as most probable.