Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When Debunking Kills

[The Clip at the end of the post was presented on National Geographic Channel and can purchased there.]

Debunkers are here to help us, right? At least that is what they say. The debunking community wants to protect us from the charlatans who live to exploit naive but good people, like us. They remind the public time and time again that their brand of rigid unbending science is what most scientists practice and believe in today. They claim this science saves us time and money spent on researching nonsense that doesn’t fit accepted theory. Could this backfire?
Could predisposed ideologies within the scientific community give rise to cursory analysis and rejection of theory out at of hand even though it was based on sound data? Is this rigid tenacity practiced by some scientist to hold on to what has been proven go beyond just caution into demagoguery? This is not a “UFO nut job’s” wild conspiracy this has happened, and it happened in a fog.
Thirty seven people were found dead in 1984 and at Lake Monoun, Camerooon, West Africa. Their bodies were found by search parties looking for fishermen who hadn’t returned to their families from a night’s fishing on the lake. The people were found along the embankment untouched with what looked like burn marks. The fishermen who were out on the lake were never found. Soon it was discovered a cloud of something, possibly generated by the lake, killed these people. A white fog was described by the locals streaming out from the lake after a long explosion. What they discovered was that this white fog killed any air breathing creature that happened to pass through it- choking them to death. The country asked for help and received the primary explanation by local scientists who relied on the known theory: “a very dense volcanic toxic gas was released by a volcanic eruption in the lake. This cloud killed any living creature that happened to be in it.” The government wasn’t convinced because the lakes haven’t been volcanic these region for eons. So, The West African government sent in an independent Volcanologist, Haraldur Sigurdsson into the region. Sigurdsson was through who interviewed the people and conducted a battery of tests. What Sigurdsson found contradicted the status quo by a wide margin. In fact, his theory was unheard of… It turned out Sigurdsson was right; what had happened was never before understood. These lakes, like all lakes, build up carbon dioxide, which, in normal lakes, is released in small quantities by the natural cycles of movement. This lake was different because it was well protected from these normal cycles. He found because this normal release doesn’t happen in these lakes, it becomes a matter of how much carbon dioxide builds up in these lakes before it explodes into the country side. Sigurdsson, knowing the are other lakes in this area that were identical in makeup to Lake Monoun, knew he had a possible ticking time bomb on his hands. For him it was only a matter of time when this would happen again. But the most important part of all of this was you could test for it in the other lakes.
Sigurdsson, a mainstream scientist and one of the top men in his field, decided to write everything up and submit it to the international scientific community, which rejected it out of hand. He was extremely surprised. He went his way and the international scientists went their way but the people suffered. Two years later the same thing happened, only this time in Lake Nyos, a short distance from Lake Monoun. The damn thing killed two thousand people and every living thing it touched.

Sigurdsson was upset when he found out and felt it was his fault; he felt he should have pushed more. But that is not my take on what happened. We in the UFO community have known for years there is a group of scientists backed up by debunkers that seem to feel they have the all the answers. They claim they are the guardians of scientific truth. They will reject, out of hand, theories that challenge the mainstream scientific status quo theories. We in the UFO community know about of these types of professionals. They are not scientists; they are fundamentalists hanging onto theories even when better ones come along. I ask those people who support the skeptical society to look at what happened in Cameroon West Africa. If UFOs had been the hostile aliens pictured in Steven Hawkins nightmares we could have been caught completely off guard because many scientist dismissed them out of hand

When I see the James Oberg’s of this world calling our brave pilots unreliable I wonder where the pure science I loved as a child has gone…probably like a dead gas… to the bottom of Lake Nylos.

Joe Capp
UFO Media Matters
Non-Commercial Blog

Clip: Notational Geographic "Death Fog"


  1. Good insights!

    I've never understood the politics of science. I'm very familiar with it but cannot for my life defend it. It's so opposite to the scientific method and to the mindset of a discoverer with any sort of curiosity.

    I believe there are good/bad scientists like life in general. The bad ones must go more towards the politics of science since they are not very proficient in the research part of their work.

    These people (debunkers) always reiterate the work of those before them, emphasizing the scientific "laws" we all live by :-D They are conservative from the outset and live for preserving knowledge. The only skills they seem to develop after their degrees are for example the marketing of their books and projects, debating in radio/tv, writing literary blogs/columns on the internet. The scientist in these people seem to transform more into the politician/writer/businessman.

    While debunkers are very visible in media, it's obvious they are not contributing anything on anything to anyone, and especially nothing to the subject of Ufology. Quite the opposite, by always creating doubt but never adding any new data or having any true new insights, a lot of people are easily fooled to believe in debunkers explaining away good data using silly conclusions upon false assumptions.

    People like Klass, Shermer and Oberg (and MORE) have over time done Ufology a lot of harm by creating a lunatic quasi-scientific fringe situated on the opposite side. When this dogmatic debunking fringe is spreading its nonsense and getting media attention it can seriously threaten any fund-raising for serious research into sensitive subjects in itself.

    Of course Ufology is its own worst enemy but that is for another time.

    Thanks for the blog Joseph and all the best,
    Daniel Bergh, Sweden

    PS. I have been listening to Paratopia with Jeff Ritzman and Jeremy Vaeni for the last 2 weeks now and gone through like 20-30 episodes. On one hand they're tooting their horn like they are so avantgarde and transcendental with their supposedly new breakthrough theories that are supposedly so superior...at the same time they don't seem to have many prosaic details down at all about things like the Roswell case or about Bob Lazar for example which is shown by their sometimes very ignorant comments and questions (that are already covered in literature or in internet discussion). They are very opinionated but discussing some subjects they are shooting in all angles and not very methodical or discerning which is a sign they're grasping. I'm not very fond of some of the rationale of Ritzman but can side mostly with Vaeni. What do you think of this radio show Joseph? DS.

  2. Dear Daniel,
    I have to confess I haven't followed it. But I will take a listen and see let you know the next time you comment on anything...hoping a make sense in the future enough for your return.
    I don't know if you read the actual details of what happened to Dr. John Mack when he tried to publish a paper on the alien abduction experience. I swear to you if didn't know people of the Harvard Faculty were demanding this you would think it was from the middle ages. They declared "that no one could read his abduction paper and that all of the copies of his paper be handed over to them to destroyed".
    There are people in science that react with emotional blindness and this fact can kill when they have the power to make life and death decisions.
    Thanks Daniel

  3. QUOTE:
    They declared "that no one could read his abduction paper and that all of the copies of his paper be handed over to them to destroyed".


    I'm dying here... ;-D

  4. That's was his lawyer's reaction also. They back off when he got one.