Do Skeptics Attack for the Sake of Attacking?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 19th, 2012

Ryan Dube has a new posting worthy of your time. See “Skeptics Attack for the Sake of Attacking.”

Dube writes, in part:

…it only takes one look at The Mad Skeptic’s own list of topics to see that Myron had to grasp at straws to find something damaging to post about Loren. The Mad Skeptic claims to be solely based on skepticism, but Myron himself has written about the latest breaking news ranging from the Tourettes-syndrome outbreak in NY to “Weight Training” (say what?), to even sexism and gender issues.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing – Myron is just doing what most bloggers do, covering topics that are of interest to him, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, in attacking Loren for writing about what he reads in the morning paper, Myron is doing the old “pot calling the kettle black” dance…

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

22 Responses to “Do Skeptics Attack for the Sake of Attacking?”

  1. glendoor42 responds:

    To answer the question,…. yes ,… yes they do.

  2. finfin responds:

    I think that skeptics and non skeptics are about the same. some attack, some don’t. One skeptic attacked. How many skeptics didn’t?

    Voiced skepticism, by nature, requires a certain amount of “being on the offence”. Feel free to disagree.

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    I’m still skeptical of the idea that people are “skeptics” just because they nay say things. Especially when they can’t back it up with anything other than “prove it to me.”

    IT’s awful easy to take that cop-out and not have to do any actual work…and that’s when I start pulling out the dirty word, maybe my favorite dirty word here, scoftic.

    There’s a difference between being truly skeptical and just doubting everything because you have nothing better to do. To me, the true skeptic takes a phenomena…say Bigfoot, for example, and you say, “hmmn, people are seeing an 8ft tall ape in the woods. Well that’s not likely” and you start testing ideas and theories about what they could be seeing and you start whittling down the possibilities from there.

    And when sightings keep coming in year after year, and you rule out panthers, bears, and college guys in monkey suits or bored people with custom giant BF shoes, you start to look at the possibility that there’s something else going on out there.

    Unless you just like to say “no” because you’ve got nothing better to do…that and you don’t really have any evidence to support your ideas.

    So in answer to the post’s question…of course. There’s always a certain faction that has nothing better to do than to argue for the enjoyment’s sake of arguing, or to see their comments on a website, or whatever their motivation is.

    I think we’ve gone round and round with that here many a time. However, unless you can bring something to the table other than “No, I don’t buy it,” and the best argument you can come up with is “you have to prove its existence to me not the other way around,” then you cease being skeptical in my book and you become just like the people who believe anything with no reasoning at all. It may be the other end of the spectrum, but it’s the same thing.

    And just for the record, I don’t really care if you believe in it or not, and no I don’t have to prove anything to you because your opinion is of little use to the conversation and the research unless you’re actually just trying to keep the research honest.

  4. JWhite responds:

    Well, the skeptic appears to be the individual motivated by a heavy need for affirmation, to the extent of wanting to attack others to get it. The need for attention is bolstered in two parts –

    1) by gaining a sense of satisfaction for basically calling everybody else either liars or deluded, and

    2) by putting themselves in the position of explaining everything away.

    So they get attention as an “expert”, when all they really are is a person who has a desperate inner need to discredit everyone else, thereby gaining for themselves a fabricated credibility.

    So for the skeptic, the purpose is not to prove or disprove anything – the real purpose is simply to be heard, because it is in the being heard that the innermost need for affirmation is fulfilled. Fatherlessness, a poor self image, impotency, etc., etc., whatever whatever are the motivations – everybody is different – but the bottom line is that most of the time the skeptic’s assertions would not stand up in a court of law, whereas eye witness testimony often does. But if you can make a living at calling everyone who asserts they have seen something they don’t understand a liar or a fool, then for the person that has their needs fulfilled by doing so it is a perfect job opportunity. Paid to be a crank, basically. Pity the person who pursues that path, for no greater an abyss would there be than to create a world in which everyone else is a liar or a fool and it is your job to prove it. No thanks –

  5. DWA responds:

    Well, Matt Bille doesn’t attack for the sake of attacking.

    Daniel Loxton doesn’t.

    Springheeledjack (I’ll go with his post) doesn’t.

    Mystery_man doesn’t; and I don’t.

    Jeff Meldrum doesn’t either.

    I just listed some skeptics. I could keep going.


    When we have an attack-for-sake-of-attacker, that person is almost always starting from this position:

    I know this is a crock; and I’m comfortable attacking it because I know it is.

    OK, there.

    If you know: could you please share your evidence with us?

  6. zigoapex responds:

    I love the skeptics that spend more time on Crypto forums posting negative comments and arguing than 10 believers combined. Not going to mention where, but one of them the other day had post averaging a post an hour(about an 1 1/2 hrs the longest),and posted over 24 hrs. I couldn’t believe it.

  7. flame821 responds:

    I agree with Finfin. I think it is more a matter of personality than it is a matter of point of view.

  8. CDC responds:

    In cryptozoology, as in life, some people are nice and some are idiots. I think it is logical to believe that between skeptics and believers, you will find the same thing…nice people and idiots on both sides of the argument.

    There are some cryptozoology sites that are a majority skeptics and they regularly gang up on any believer…we all know that one

    Here, it is a pretty fair representation of what it should be for a site of this topic, some good give and take of opinion, with church going moderators.

    Believe it or not, the show I hate, “Finding Bigfoot” has kinda brought both sides closer to the middle. I have heard true believers say, “they need more evidence before they can make such claims”, and I have heard true skeptics say “if Bigfoot exisits, they will never find it that way”. It focuses the believer and the skeptic on the subject instead of each other.

    I honestly believe that skeptics and believers react to each other based on how they relate to each other as human beings. It’s like the Republican married to the Democrate or the Atheist married to the God Loving…you don’t have to agree to get along.

    In the end, you will find bully Steelers fans picking on Rams fans, Coke will bully Pepsi, and Kobe will tell Lebron what it feels like to be a Champion…the reality is, the Steelers are better than the Rams, Coke sells more than Pepsi, and Kobe has won 5 Championships to Lebron’s zero. Good news is, like with Cryptozoology, things can change 🙂

    Until things do change, you still have to prove you are Champions like Coke, Kobe, or the Steelers…you just can’t say you are a Champion, you have to prove it. You can have all the evidence in the world…but we still need proof Lebron…I mean Believers

  9. mystery_man responds:

    I don’t typically see skepticism as the enemy. In fact, I find it to be mostly a good thing, because just to make things clear, science is a skeptical endeavor.

    Even in what we call “mainstream science,” which is actually nowadays a hard term to even define, there is a long, hard process we use to get to what can be somewhat reliably called the “truth” and this involves a lot of skepticism and questioning. Mainstream science constantly doubts and second guesses itself. Any new idea, especially one that challenges current ideas, is going to be subjected to intense debate and dissection from all sides. This is a good thing because it helps us discern what is real. This is why peer review is so important in science, because whatever is left after being picked apart and questioned from all angles is more likely to be closer to the truth. When done correctly, skepticism is not an attack, but rather a way to home in on what is true and correct.

    In cryptoozology, we should not be afraid of skepticism. It is par for the course in any truly scientific endeavor.

    How would our knowledge of the world be warped or twisted without skepticism in science? What would things be like if we accepted everything without careful vetting and stringent evaluation of data from all sides? There are many, many ideas throughout the ages that in hindsight were silly or even dangerous that would not have been weeded out and rightfully cast from our acceptance if it had not been for someone’s skeptical pursuit of the truth. Many things that we take for granted right now would not have been possible if there wasn’t this skeptical process of getting at how things really are.

    It is extremely valuable to ask the hard questions in science, and this includes cryptozoology. We cannot base our knowledge of reality on what we want or hope to be true, but rather on what we can show to be as close to the truth as we can possibly get within our current means.

    Skepticism does not bother me. Hard questions do not bother me. They are necessary. I am known to ask the hard questions myself, but as DWA said, I am not attacking, but rather trying to gain an understanding of what is really going on. It should not be seen as an attack, but rather a careful evaluation of the data and circumstances; an attempt at understanding the issues from all sides. Skepticism to me is part of the learning and discovery process.

    I think what bothers me where skepticism is concerned is the spirit in which it is used. I’ve said this here recently, but when these hard questions are asked, it is important when considering them an attack or not to look at the spirit in which they are asked. Are these questions an honest attempt to get to the truth, or merely a means by which to bolster a preconceived opinion that is already set and has no chance of changing regardless of the answers? What bothers me is when skepticism is used as a crutch upon which to hang preformed notions.

    Skepticism, like science itself, should be a tool by which to get to the truth. Hard questions should be asked, and our hypotheses, opinions, and views should adapt and evolve in response to the answers we get. We should be able to use skepticism to change or shape our conclusions in an attempt at genuine discovery.

    When skepticism does not do this, when it is merely a means to bolster a stagnant and unchanging viewpoint or to discredit without proper consideration of new data, that is when I think it passes from a way of getting knowledge to an attack.

    In my opinion, skepticism itself is not the problem. If there is a problem, then it lies with the motives or mindset of the individual behind it.

  10. Kopite responds:

    There is a difference between a skeptic and a CYNIC. It’s usually the cynics who are the aggressive ones, resorting to mockery of the subject(s) and displaying total rejection. In a lot of ways they seem to be angry or upset that people ‘believe’ such “tomfoolery” as bigfoot/yeti/lake monsters etc etc. I don’t understand why they get so offended. It’s harmless enough. It’s not killing anyone.

    These people who are on some sort of demented obsessive crusade to try and stamp out ‘such and such belief’ must be at least slightly mentally disturbed in some manner. Its just not normal to argue every damn day about a subject they obviously feel is BS. What a waste of an existence….to obsess about a subject you feel is BS.

    Not really talking about the posters on Cryptomundo by the way, but rather posters on certain other boards….which I am sure you all know.

  11. somebodyssquatchingme responds:

    Let’s not be so hard on the scoftics. Think about it: for millions of Americans, the thought of a nocturnal giant man-like beast showing up in your back yard is horrifying. For a great many of those people, it is not only logical, but necessary to scoff at the beast’s existance.

    Deep-seeded in every scoftic’s remarks is fear. And that’s OK. There is nothing wrong with being fearful of the unknown. Think of some quotes from many sightings we have all read: “I peed my sleeping bag… I soiled myself… I was frozen with fright… I thought I was going to die. Those are not very comforting words.

    Don’t you think it’s best for a parent to tell their kids, “Oh go out and play, bigfoot isn’t real.” I do. And I’ve actually seen one.

  12. finfin responds:

    In the particular case of Myron attacking Loren: “assailant” is the proper term. Maybe “slanderer” or “hater”, but I don’t know… I didn’t read his remarks, personally.

    I’m sure Loren would agree that skeptics can voice their opinions without being hateful. Even “cynics” (a person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness) can be a cynic without being hateful.

    What’cha gonna do. Haters Gonna Hate.

  13. wuffing responds:

    Mystery Man’s post makes a lot of sense to me.

    Surely the opposite of believer is disbeliever, and the opposite of skeptical is gullible.

    Those who divide contributors into believers and skeptics (a.k.a. debunkers) are treating the subject as a belief system rather than a scientific endeavour. Of course, there’s a lot more money to be made from belief systems than from science, provided you market it properly.

  14. springheeledjack responds:

    Thank you Mystery Man.

    The word skeptic is not the problem. I would argue that all of us here are skeptics. We look at every bit of information that comes at us on this site and we look at it skeptically. What did someone see? What were the conditions? What is that person’s experience with the environment? Could they have seen something mundane that they misinterpreted? And so on. To me that is being skeptical. It’s looking with doubt in an effort to realize the truth.

    I just don’t like it when debunkers, cynics and scoftics seize the badge and monicker of “Skeptic” when they have no affinity with it other than just bashing something. I’m not going to give them the respect of being skeptical because they’re not really trying to get at the truth as much as they’re trying to roll their eyes at everything that comes down the road.

    To me, that’s not skeptical, it’s just being argumentative for the sake of it.

    Fortunately, cryptomundo was really the first site I latched onto for cryptozoology, and I’ve never gone looking for others because the people on here are intelligent and like to actually discuss crypto-related things (for the most part) in a constructive way. I think that’s a credit to Craig for keeping the posters on track of what’s important!

  15. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I’m immature, so I’m going to use videogames as a metaphor.

    In keeping with M_M’s POV, skeptics should view Cryptozoology or other Fringe field as new game, and themselves as Beta testers.

    They should be willing to find out where the bugs in the game’s code are, when the action becomes too repetitive, and where the story plot too sloppy. By doing that they will make a solid contribution to the company making the games, and the consumers at large.

    But, first and foremost, they should keep in mind that they’re supposed to play the goddamn game. That means all the heavy, tedious work of unwrapping the actual box, taking the disc out and inserting it in the console, followed by the pushing of the PLAY button.

    Then, and only then are you allowed to say either “this game totally rulez!” or “this game totally blows.”

    You are not, REPEAT, *not* allowed to judge the game merely by its cover and say “Meh… this looks retarded”. That’s a scam, pure & simple.

    Now, game on! 😉

  16. DWA responds:


    No more – and no less – mature a challenge than the skeptics deserve.

    Well played.

  17. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Thx buddy 🙂

  18. Troodon56 responds:

    No, skeptics do not usually “attack for the sake of attacking”. It is the CYNICS and the SCOFTICS that attack for the sake of attacking. Those people who automatically reject any claim, without even bothering to look at the evidence, cannot be properly considered as “skeptics”.

    For example, back when I was in 7th Grade, I wrote a persuasive essay about Bigfoot, for my Writing class, in which I attempted to persuade the reader that the evidence for Sasquatch’s existence was convincing.

    Before one of my classmates heard my speech, he said to me, “What? Your topic can’t be Sasquatch! Sasquatch isn’t even real!” I then asked him, “What evidence has led you to come to that conclusion?” He then said, “Well, none, really. But I don’t need any evidence, because I KNOW that Sasquatch is fake!” I then asked him, “How do you know?” He replied to me, “I don’t know, but I just KNOW, that it’s fake!”

    So, if a person was observing our conversation, they would probably label me as the “believer”, and my classmate as the “skeptic”. However, in reality, I am the Skeptic, and he is the True-Believer. This is because I have painstakingly examined the evidence for the Sasquatch, and I have come to the conclusion that it most likely exists, based on my studies. He, however, just denied the existence of Bigfoot, based on preconceived notions. Indeed, many people accuse cryptozoologists of approaching their field of study, with preconceived notions, about the existence of cryptids. However, I know many honest cryptozoologists, who approach the matter, purely from an objective, and scientific, point-of-view. Indeed, it is the debunker, in this case, who approaches the matter, with an agenda, in mind.

    So, in conclusion, I have to say that, once again, the vast majority of skeptics do not attack, simply for the sake of attacking. It is the cynics, and the debunkers, and the scoftics, that do this.

  19. red_pill_junkie responds:

    @ Troodon56,

    You did get an ‘A’ for the report, right? 😉

  20. DWA responds:


    Well he better had, eh?

    This is the first word the aspiring zoologist needs to understand properly. In fact, it’s one most scientists – never mind lay people – don’t.

    Skeptics, real ones, question. And they demand evidence.

    Troodon’s questioner is most of us, much of the time. I’m not sure how much religion has to do with this, but there seems to be a societal consensus that we are allowed to make many judgments, including scientific ones, without the benefit of evidence. “Bigfoot skeptics” don’t believe they need to put a thing on the table, when the proponents’ contention is a reasonable one supported by evidence, and theirs is about as preposterous as a rational person has ever swallowed.

    Scientists swallow it too, whole. No fossil evidence in our hands means no sasquatch, despite rampant speculation how many more dinosaurs remain to be found as fossils, and despite universal understanding of fossilization as a fabulously rare process. (Hint: you won’t be, no matter how hard you try.) It’s estimated – by mainstream scientists – that approximately two to five percent, depending upon whom you listen to, of all primate species that ever existed have left evidence. How does one leap from that supposition to, sorry, but no fossil record means that this is just unlikely? How, praytell, was “unlikely” calculated? Well, it wasn’t, and it never is, any more than intelligent design is calculated, or God is calculated.

    “I don’t need evidence, I just know” is mainstream science’s attitude toward anything it doesn’t understand. That ain’t skeptical. The single-species hypothesis wasn’t skeptical. Setting the vintage of humankind based on the latest fossil find – um, not gonna find any more, is that it? – is really not skeptical.

    And scientists have to be skeptical, all the time. They are forbidden to scoff by the nature of what they do.

    Which depends – utterly – on enlightened consideration of evidence.

    Which says – whether you want it to or not – that sasquatch and yeti are real.

    I hate comfortable assumptions like that’s-not-possible. If the evidence says it is… it is.

    Sorry, that’s just the skeptic in me talking.

  21. flame821 responds:

    This is one of the major areas DWA and I disagree as I believe if our camp is making a positive assertion that Bigfoot exists, we are the ones who have to bring forth proof. Although absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    My gripe is the fact that we do have a decent amount of circumstantial evidence yet very few main stream scientists will look at it. Unfortunately that is because the term “Bigfoot” and “Sasquatch” has been tainted by far too many hoaxes. If we would call it an unknown bear species or possible hybrid I think you’d get a lot more zoologists and biologists looking into it. The other major problem our camp has is the fact that ‘we’ can’t even agree on what constitutes proof. We have no real system to weed out anything other than poorly thought out, obvious hoaxes. We either don’t have the ability or haven’t bothered to do research in a way to prevent outside contamination (like the vocalizations that turn out to be two different research teams answering each other). At this point, short of an actual body, I do think our best bet is with DNA evidence, but if Bigfoot is a fairly close relative of ours most labs will probably send the sample back as contaminated. If that happens, perhaps someone could resend it to the Human Genome Project to see what that comes up with. If it is different enough from human it might give us some interesting results and possibly show if Yeti and Sasquatch are the same species or divergent species filling the same niche.

  22. DWA responds:


    “This is one of the major areas DWA and I disagree as I believe if our camp is making a positive assertion that Bigfoot exists, we are the ones who have to bring forth proof. Although absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

    “We” (if you mean the proponents) are not the ones charged with bringing home the proof.

    The scientific mainstream is. All amateurs can do is put the evidence on the table. We don’t believe them, right? We will only accept this when the mainstream does.

    And this is my point: if the scientific mainstream had gone after evidence in the same exact way that dedicated amateurs have, the sasquatch would have been proven long ago …1968 at the outside. Patterson-Gimlin would have been the final nail in the coffin (if the 1950s CA footprints that put “Bigfoot” in the national press weren’t). Scientists would have gone into the field right on the heels of that film; and they would not have stopped until they had proof.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding regarding evidence and proof that plagues both sides in this discussion: Evidence must be FOLLOWED UP before proof is obtained. Science doesn’t – when it is working properly – sit on its hands and wait for a body. Didn’t do that with the saola, did it?

    What the scientific mainstream does, in every search in which they have bought in, is take each inconclusive piece of evidence and build upon it until the documentation of proof.

    The “skeptics” – and it is a shame cryptos and the mainstream fail to understand this – have a preposterous thesis. They never state it, but it is clear: all of this evidence amounts to a false positive. The volume and consistency of the evidence argues, virtually conclusively, against that thesis. It is simply not rational, if one does not believe that thesis, to do what “skeptics” do: say of every additional piece of evidence that, well, that is not proof, so this whole thing is a crock.

    What the “skeptics” would be doing, were they truly skeptical, was calling on the mainstream to address this pile of evidence and shut the proponents up. They don’t. And still the mainstream – collaborating in the obstruction of a scientific investigation – continues, cheered on by the peanut gallery, not to address the evidence.

    It is not kosher to oppose a thesis and not propose one’s own. Proper scientific practice – to which all parties are held – does not allow it.

    The pile demands attention.

    To have a position in this discussion, one must address that pile. If one does not, one MUST state why.

    (And that why would not hold up with this pile.)

    Period. That is how science works.

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