Bigfoot Skepticism is the phrase used to dismiss those skeptics who spend their time and effort investigating, writing, and speaking about paranormal subjects (not limited to bigfoot) in a scientific manner. Usually we’re told we should dedicate our time to more deserving causes, such as cancer-related medical quackery, strict religious practices which harm (as though exorcism isn’t in our remit), and dangerous practices such as chiropractic treatment, or homeopathy.
I’ve written rebuttals to these dismissals of skeptical investigation of the paranormal before, including:
I am pleased to see that Bigfoot Skepticism is actually becoming cool and more acceptable now, with so many of my skeptical acquaintances talking a lot about dowsing in the last few days. Yes, dowsing. See, someone just realised that most of the water companies use dowsing rods to discover water sources – a practice commonly known as water divining.
Guess who deals with divination on a regular basis? Bigfoot skeptics, that’s who.
I can remember delivering my first skepticism-oriented talk at a paranormal conference in 2009 at the age of 21, and dedicating a large portion of my stage time to the subject of dowsing. Good to see everyone catching up with us Bigfoot skeptics. Next up, did you know that some people read horoscopes?
Sarcasm aside, dowsing being applied in a technical field is a problem – you won’t find any disagreement from me there. It’s a huge waste of time and resources which has risks attached – water is an important resource and if there’s a leak the last thing you want is some bloke fannying around with sticks looking for the problem. On top of this, just last year I had the chance to hold a bomb detecting device at QEDcon which was based on the art of dowsing. The man who sold these to war zones was imprisoned and rightly so. He based his bomb detector off of golf ball finders which are also inspired by dowsing. Ghost hunters also use dowsing rods and crystals to find ghosts and spirit energy.
We are surrounded by more superstitious beliefs and practices than we often notice, and I understand that for many people the fact that water companies use dowsing is a surprise, but it’s also an important lesson on why there is a need for Bigfoot skepticism. These are the beliefs we deal with every day and amplification about such nonsense is great! It likely won’t change minds of the hardcore dowsing believers but it does help highlight the modern use of nonsense practices and that can only be a good thing. Welcome to the team.
However, note this as a warning: next time you get ready to tell someone that ‘ghosts aren’t real, so why waste your time?’ or that “debunking bigfoot is stupid”, don’t bother.
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