Follow the magic thread: deconverting from unscientific beliefs

In the climate debate it’s all too easy to demonise the “other”.

Whether that be the “denier” or the “warmest”, the tone of the climate change debate can get ugly. Both sides believe they are in possession of “the truth”, and a consequence the exchanges can be heated.

It’s all too easy to forget – especially through the anonymity of the Internet – that the insults we hurl at each other are aimed at fellow human beings.

And then sometimes I read something reminds me of one of the reasons I started this blog:  to reach out to some the “deniers” and help them understand how they are being actively mislead.

I make a distinction between the professional “deniers” such as Lord Monckton, Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova and the ordinary “foot soldiers” who they court – and mislead – with misinformation. I don’t call those men and women deniers: they may be in a state of denial, but they may have some genuine questions about the science or are terrified by it’s implications.

Follow the magic thread: deconverting from a conspiratorial world view

James Carrion is a former UFOlogist, who was at one point was a True Believer in every sense of the word. He was an active member of one of the major UFO groups, MUFON. He has now declared he is no longer a “true believer”, and that the evidence of both UFOs and the purported government conspiracy theories don’t stand up under scrutiny.

The analogies between the UFO and the denial movement are striking: claims of conspiracy;  a large network of “believers” questioning the dominant scientific consensus; media and publishers compliant in producing material for this “market”; and a distrust of authority.

In an amazing article (Goodbye UFOlogy, hello truth) James explains how he got pulled into the “UFO culture” and how after several years of looking at the evidence “deconverted” from his belief that aliens where visiting the Earth. Here are some of the highlights:

James explains how he entered the UFO community:

There was a time many years ago when I was considering leaving Ufology because I couldn’t make sense of it all. Here was a subject that was still being pursued passionately by intelligent and sober folks many with advanced academic degrees, yet the solution was always out of reach. Surely there must be something to the subject with so many people working on it, I thought. The problem gnawed at me and I decided that I must discover the truth for myself even if it meant sacrificing other things in my life. In a field where wild claims are rampant, I latched on to the only organization that I felt had some reservoir of common sense and reason in its modus operandi – MUFON.

But like a good “sceptic”, he begin to dig and critically examine the evidence:

I also decided to take a unique approach. Poke at the phenomenon and see what pokes back. Not only look for a signal but the absence of one as well because it just as telling. In addition I made the conscious decision to forsake the “inside source”. Coupling all of this with an investigative ethic that was thorough and unrelenting, a clear picture began to emerge.

What I discovered was that the phenomenon is based in deception – of the human kind –and that there is no way ANYONE will understand the real truth unless they are willing to first accept that. No, I am not talking about some grandiose cover-up of alien visitation, but instead the documented manipulation of people and information for purposes that I can only speculate on.

And yet in the end, how did many members of the UFO community respond?

Interestingly I also observed how my original research fell on deaf ears in the UFO community. When I suggested that the holy grail of Ufology, Roswell, could be part of an elaborate intelligence deception operation, not only did I encounter a wave of hostility from the “believers” but a backlash of silence, debunking and dismissal by even those “unbiased” researchers who claim to not stoop to such tactics. Rather than inspire an army of fellow investigators to dig deeper in this unexplored area I felt like Copernicus telling a room full of colleagues how the earth revolved around the sun despite everyone else believing the earth the center of the Universe. Blasphemy! Heresy!

If James can see how the “half truths” of this movement and how they actively mislead, we should be looking to help those ordinary individuals that have fallen prey to the denial movement’s tactics of deceit.

How?

A good question: but we shouldn’t give up.

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