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Paranormal Bytes Series: Dangers of Debunking

Updated on September 2, 2012

Has The Moon Event Been Debunked?

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Debunkers Get Their Foot In The Door

"Debunkers" can be as dangerous as those who would "con" people, partly because many debunkers seek to MINIMIZE events, sightings of paranormal things, strange happenings and objects that are not yet explained by science.

Many "debunkers" also seek to minimize down to nothingness and actually do quite a good job of providing LOGIC in many cases - without proper critical analysis.

Debunkers can actually and effectively use the same tactics and techniques as con-men, religious zealots and cult leaders. A notorious tactic we've all seen and been victim of is called the "Foot In The Door" technique, thusly named because door-to-door salespeople were some of the most far-reaching EXPERTS in this technique.

"Foot in door" is so prominent and well analyzed that many 1st year university psychology textbooks explain this technique in the utmost detail - because it's SO COMMON that sometimes people don't even realize they're using's in psychology textbooks because it is primarily a PSYCHOLOGICAL tactic. Or, if there's really a physical foot in the door, this has a psychological IMPACT on us...somehow, something - a foot or idea - has crossed our spatial barrier and is now an issue to deal with.

If you've ever had an argument with someone who doesn't fight 'fair,' and who lays out ONE POINT that hits home...then uses logic to explain a bunch of 'what if' statements and 'therefore' statements until a conclusion is reached that cannot be turned back on itself, then chances are... you just lost to a 'foot-in-door' argument. At its end, it is not reversible because you probably agreed with the first initial TINY portion of an argument in its beginning let your adversary get his/her FOOT IN THE DOOR - like a vacuum salesman.

Foot In The Door Technique

Here's how foot-in-door works:

1) a very small almost correct statement is made - or a statement that is definitely correct but that leads to something that must be explained in many parts...a foot-in-door statement is ALWAYS PART of a larger, more complex argument and cannot stand on it's own.

Just like the way you can definitely SLAM a door shut BEFORE a door-to-door salesman gets any part of his/her body into the frame of the door or a portion of his foot into your home, but CANNOT shut the door once a foot, elbow, etc is into the door frame, you cannot SHUT OUT a foot-in-door argument unless you've specifically learned how to do so and unless you're prepared for it and see it coming or see it developing. Oh yes, and there is always more to it than the first beginning 'truth' or apparently 'true' statement...

2) arguments which derive out of 'foot-in-door' beginnings have their rules broken from the start - anything goes! This is because, in the first place, foot-in-door is NOT a valid tactic - it's a manipulation...its motivation force used TO MOVE FORWARD...not to prove truths.

Foot-in-door techniques are related to "baiting," "fully planned oppression tactics," and "anything goes mentality" in most cases.

3) if you have allowed a 'foot-in-door' experience and allow one 'beginning' piece of information or action, you, as a 'defendant' are more likely to allow a second foot to follow the first or will likely allow the argument or action to proceed.

4) attached to the original foot-in-door ISSUE, there is usually a dilemma attached so that if you allow the first premise, you MUST allow the second or what follows - or else you will have to PROVE the exact way in which the first foot-in-door fact/action was wrong...the whole point is that you're basically SCREWED by foot-in-door tactics in debates, in conversations, in regular life, in actions, with salespeople, etc. UNLESS you are very V - E - R - Y capable of assertiveness, critical thinking and are WILLING TO put your own viewpoints and safety on the line in order to ASSERT A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT or ACTION.

How may people do you know who have purchased a vacuum cleaner they didn't really need and who later said "well, I couldn't get the salesman to leave" or "well, I didn't want to be rude and the machine is a good one anyway - so it was a little more than what I wanted at the time but everything will be okay." This is called S.C.R.E.W.E.D. Or, in a few years, possibly - hopefully "Happy Electrolux owner," if the vacuum cleaner wasn't a factory dud.

I've used the 'vacuum cleaner door to door sales' example because I believe most North Americans have encountered this sort of sales item and salesperson.

How vacuum cleaner sales tactics relate to SOME debunkers is that a salesperson will veer from topic, use psychological tactics, distractions, and heavy, heavy, HEAVY expert persuasion tactics in order to sell products. Salespeople and some debunkers use distraction in a very disconcerting way - then DO COME BACK to a real and proven FACT...which cannot be disputed. Debunkers use persuasion, too - which means - they can be dealing with limited or questionable 'facts' while playing on peoples' emotions and mental faculties. A person who is trying to sort out distracting things and figure out how they're related is doing much less critical thinking than someone who is getting a fair argument without foot-in-door technique added into the mix.

Now I'm not saying people who "debunk" things and prove that some events, situations, objects and creatures are 'hoaxes,' are all's just that they're not as scientific as they sound much of the I'm just saying BEWARE.

Irresponsible "Debunkers"

I'd also like to assert here that I'm not talking about ALL people who are considered "Debunkers" - but am pointing out the ones who are irresponsible, who have questionable motives and tactics when they 'debunk' an issue or object.

Here's an irresponsible proof of the statement "The sky is NOT blue!"

1) the sky is not blue - it is not even visible as any colourĀ once you're high above the land, say, in an airplane.

The above is agreeing with the statement above can be your 'agreement with the foot-in-door statement.'

Now, for the next part, you'll have to agree to something BIGGER or more 'away from the topic' if the person 'proving' that the sky is not blue has something more to say or prove.

For instance, the person making statements could say, next, that "because the sky is truly not blue, all people who keep saying "The Sky Is Blue" are mistaken about the colour or are LYING about the sky being blue." Logically, this actually seems to make sense...

But...the whole argument is OUT OF CONTEXT...and the argument and statements shed an unspoken 'blame' onto people not present to speak for themselves - those 'mistaken people' and those 'liars' who keep saying the sky is blue.

Some people who debunk paranormal events, religious statements or theories and narratives, who make a career out of disputes in controversial areas and on certain issues are worth listening to - but with a very, VERY careful and critical mindset. Otherwise, many arguments and statements that appear logical are simply out of context and untrue.

Some of the biggest debunking statments you'll see - and which I find as very dangerous - are the statements that are wide-reaching 'blanket' statements that are very generalized.

"The sighting was proven NOT to be a ghost - again proving that ghosts do not exist."

The above is a dangerous statement but it looks pretty logical - mainly because incorporated in the statement is the language and pattern of logical contains a 'therefore' conclusion where no final conclusion should be made which generalizes on the WHOLE of "Ghost-dom." In other words, if the ghost sighting was proven NOT to be a ghost, this proves that in this one situation, there wasn't a ghost - NOT THAT ghosts do not exist at all...

It may not be "persuasion" tactics that certain people are even aware of - so don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying I think 'debunkers' areĀ BAD because they're all persuasive, have bad motives, use psychological "tactics," or seek to 'trick' people....some people truly use some of these ways of making statements without realizing they're NOT USING GOOD LOGIC or that they're NOT being truly logical IN CONTEXT.

Paranormal Investigating

Why Debunking is Actually Dangerous

With certain argument tactics and techniques very briefly outline above in layman's terms, hopefully, readers can see that there is more to making statements and forming arguments than just making a bit of information SEEM logical.

People who are distracted easily (heck - that's half of us right there, right? In our busy world with our busy schedules?), who aren't thinking critically at times are easily DRAWN TO THE APPARENT PATTERN that mock-logic or bad-logic makes in conversation...because our minds are drawn to patterns, are happiest when quick answers happen and when there are no conflicting statements being made. It's much harder to examine things that appear to not fit a pattern and basically, most people, will accept the quickest, easiest-seeming solution to a problem.

The worst part is - as human beings, we are ALL SUCCEPTIBLE to being involved with bad logic! Many of the greatest thinkers in our past have made great errors, based on reading patterns that appeared to show a logical explanation for some problem the thinker was working on...such as the 'flat earth' theory, the 'ether' theory (part of the world is ether/spirit, amongst the water, air, earth and fire), etc.

Debunkers who make absolute and definitive statements sometimes are making harmful statements, particularly to those in fields of the paranormal, because paranormal topics and investigations already have difficulties being seen as 'valid realms to study' by many people.

What typically happens when something is proven to be a HOAX is that many 'debunkers' make statements which tend to INVALIDATE or ridicule anything related to the hoax...which can be damaging for people studying related-issues or can be damaging for people who were originally 'fooled' by the hoax...sometimes it puts people close to the hoax in any way - into a realm where they are considered 'fakes,' 'idiots,' or even perpetrators of the hoax, since they were close to it in the first place.

Lastly - debunking can be dangerous because if poor logic is used and people take the debunking statements as authoritative enough to be final statements on the matter, research and investigations can STOP.

Whether an investigation debunks a piece of an issue, one isolated event or a more complex set of issues, often research and questions into a similar matter or topic become part of a minimized set of things nobody wants to talk about anymore. This can distract EVERYONE away from the fact that unexplained things are in our world and unexplained events happen quite often in our world...if debunking causes people to feel SATISFIED with certain answers that may sound okay but be too generalized to actually be CORRECT or valid, then where are we going to be the next time something unexplained appears or happens? It can lead to a case of 'crying wolf' and probably already HAS, to some degree...


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    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi earnestshub! Thanks for your comments. Yes, some people will invariably believe in and search out things that other large groups of people have already successfully figured out. In the midst of the strange topics I look into, I get the distinct feeling I am sometimes about to make some definitive and drastic statement - you know - the "ultimate news on..." and end up being roasted, too haha.

    • earnestshub profile image


      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A good read this. Some "unexplained" stuff does deserve a good roasting when it is only unexplained to the observer and obvious to everyone else though! :lol:

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi Nell Rose - I am in agreement with everyting you said! I hope more people will just listen to others about unexplained things instead of shutting some people down.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hiya, I hate people that think they know it all! they don't believe in something so therefore it is right. maybe it is just because it has not happened to them! simple as that! thanks nell

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi dahoglund - thx for your comments. I try to examine most paranormal things from a few different angles - but ultimately, it's good to go with open minded septicism like you've mentioned. Mostly if I am hearing someone's "account" of a strange happening, I have to "consider the event as real" because to the 'witness,' the things being recounted seem very real. Once I have some notes on a matter, however, I am able to use the open minded skepticism you mention. It's a strange world out there. There are many ways to view an event or object.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I try to keep an open minded skepticism on subject like the paranormal. Good hub.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thank you very much, lisa brazeau. I'm glad you deemed my hub "a fabulous read." I hoped I was providing the right/or enough examples to support my points.

    • lisa brazeau profile image

      lisa brazeau 

      8 years ago from Canada

      The systematic way you explained 'Debunking' was great, and brought to mind more than one occasion where it was used.

      Thoughtful, informative, and a fabulous read, as usual mythbuster!

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thx for the support here, Enelle Lamb.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 

      8 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Too true sometimes...

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for visiting, thevoice!

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      great reading thanks


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