Replying to trolls – A moment of weakness!

Every week this site receives one or two vacuous emails, often from supporters of homeopathy, sometimes just random hate or misunderstanding. I never reply to the hate or homeopaths. I see very little value in wasting my time. I don’t usually share them with Alex or Shaun, either. Well, this one I did:

On 29 May 2013, at 19:07, “hopper” wrote:

Name: hopper
Comment: Hi there!

Since this is the website about skepticism, i will use this tool of inference.

1. the website is run by 3 guys which are in no way authority of science. First one is IT professsional(can they comment on science?)

2. second one is a dentist( a modern mason, not a scientist)

3. Third one is biology enthusiast who mentions nothing about his education.

So, i don’t feel any need to proceed further with this site.

Time: Wednesday May 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

I figured because I’d shared it with them, I’d make the exception and reply.

Hi Hopper,

I shared your email with Shaun and Alex. We had a good laugh at Shaun’s expense, as being called a mason has at least one other meaning beyond stonemason. We had a laugh at your expense, too. Your lack of understanding at what skepticism is and your apparent need to critique our profiles to decided if that was a good enough reason to read the site was amusing.

Skepticism is a word used to describe a process. This process is using the best evidence available to reach a provisional understanding of a subject or an area of study. It incorporates logic and critical thinking at its core. As such, sometimes, the best possible conclusion reached is “we don’t know”. As “we don’t know” isn’t usually a satisfactory conclusion, scientists and researchers are often most excited by this answer as it allows them to design studies and protocols, allowing to study an area more fully, enriching the human experience and widening our knowledge base. As such “inference” is not a part of skepticism in any real form and to assume (without evidence, I may add) that this is the case, it to ignore the sometimes many decades of work that have lead to the point where interpretation of data wouldn’t be a rash conclusion.

If you can find a SINGLE issue with ANY of the writings on this site, that is based on good scientific consensus, please let me know. Not only will I apologise to you publicly, I will credit you with the correction.

Remember a couple of things, though. I am fully confident that nothing on this site has any errors at the time it was written. As I said in the second paragraph above, “using the best evidence available to reach a provisional understanding of a subject or an area of study”. While I am happy to draw conclusions based on, often multiple lines of understanding and scientific consensus, in order to surmise the evidence as best we can, anything is subject to change.

As for our credentials, these have literally nothing to do with being skeptical of claims or our ability to critically assess evidence. Sometimes and this maybe a shock to you, we don’t know things. But what we do and you have failed to do, is we learn more things. It’s a crazy idea, I know, but it really works! Sometimes this involves us speaking to people in other fields of study or reading research papers. We would love to know ALL the things, but only an idiot would hold the position that our listed attributes on the site’s bio make any of our writings any less right or valid.

What you fail to realise is that any valid corrections would in fact be pleasing to us! If we are wrong then you have furthered our knowledge and understanding.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any corrections or questions regarding posts on this site. I’ll be happy to address any issues.

On the other hand, if you just want to moan that a thoroughly disproven pseudo-scientific modality that you believe in has been taken apart, then I suggest you bother someone else.

Kind Regards,

David James – Plant Fan
Alex Brown – Tech Geek
Shaun Sellars – Freemason

Why is this being posted, rather than part of a private email discussion? Because they used a fake email address. They weren’t even interested in a reply. They just wanted to have a dig at “the website about skepticism” and run away. It’s worth mentioning that this email was sent minutes after I mentioned the website address on Wednesday’s Skeptic Canary Show about Burzynski.

If you can’t argue on the evidence I just don’t care what you have to say and neither do Alex or Shaun. If I take the trouble to read your usually stupid and disorganised emails, please go to the trouble of making a point.

End of complaint.

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2 Responses

  1. Robin says:

    It has only recently been brought to my attention the similarity between many alternative to medicine believers and other such people, and religion.

    It may might be the case that people susceptible to these beliefs, as with religion, need leaders to interpret the world for them, and perhaps derive some form of comfort from that “certainty” . They are actively discouraged from questioning (donning asbestos suit to avoid religious flames) the dogmas.

    It may be that studies have already been performed on this kind of hypothesis, although hopefully a little more developed than my initial thoughts.

  2. His most holy lashes says:

    I am a third level grand master of pan dimensional eyelid therapy, so I know what I am talking about, trust me……I have a diploma. I trained for whole week.

    “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” Ben Franklin

    I think we just have to accept some try harder than others, and succeed.

    All power to your eyelids.

    Ps I know how to do a smiley but how do you do a funny Masonic handshake online?

    Pps I am not a mason (or a dentist)

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