Debunkatron

Debunkatron

For the fun of debunking,
duty of skepticism,
and love of science.

It is difficult to say what truth is, but sometimes it is so easy to recognize a falsehood.
--Albert Einstein

The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so.
--Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Will Rogers (William Penn Adair), or Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw)0

When you read or overhear nonsense or the besmirching of science, do you have an urge to respond and set things straight? Are you seeking knowledge and tools to help refute such foolishness? Would you like to be the bane of forums and blogs with topics about pseudoscience, bizarre conspiracies, quackery, or the supernatural? If yes to any of the above, then you have come to the right place. Welcome!

Debunking can be an easy sport and it can require tedious research to learn a subject and get your facts straight. Although ideologues and true believers cannot be swayed by logical arguments and credible evidence, there might be others on the sidelines who can be influenced.

True believers can be quite deluded. You say one thing and they will hear another (see Illusion of Superiority for an explanation). And in the case of bizarre conspiracy believers, any argument against the conspiracy becomes an argument for the conspiracy, as contrary evidence was planted and absent evidence was removed. But you might be able to sow a seed of reality that could rear its rational sprout years later.

Debunking isn't about being contrary (no it isn't! yes it is!); it's about exposing shams and falseness, and it can be good debate practice or just plain fun. Apart from having fun, the primary goal should be the defense of quality science because it's such an amazingly useful tool for discovery and progress.

Lastly, imagination can be inspiring, useful, and enjoyable; but when fiction is presented as fact, it is open to criticism, and your health or wealth can be in jeopardy from bunk.


Table of Contents

To search this page for a word or phrase, use your browser's page search function:

  • PC: Ctrl+F or F3
  • Mac: Command+F
  • iOS: Copy this script, add a new bookmark, edit the bookmark and paste over the address/URL with the script. You can then use the bookmark to search the current page for a word or phrase. It won't necessarily find the right place on the page but any matches will be highlighed in yellow. Beware that highlighted links become broken. Credit to Matthew Panzario at The iPad Guru.

Debunked Subjects

Undebunked Subjects
A list of subjects that were previously considered bunk but have since been vindicated.
None at this time.

Tools for assessing claims

Concepts and subjects for your debunking toolbox

Resources and communities for your debunking toolbox

Footnotes

0The source and exact quote is in dispute. Please let me know if you know.

1Wikipedia links are included if the articles have a critical/skeptical/controversy section or if they provide a good overview of the subject. Help make Wikipedia better: create an account there and add or improve skeptical content, thanks.

2Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is not fair in their portrayals but they make good points and usually come to correct conclusions (exceptions incluide their denial of global warming and fixation with Libertarianism).

3The rules of homeopathy are paraphrased from James Randi. And thanks to Dr. Mark Crislip for the analogy of the infinitesimally-small hammer.

4Greenman Studio (Peter Sinclair) and Nature: Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change.

5A reference to Weird Al's Albuquerque: "Hey, you've got weasles on your face."

6Zero Tolerance (ZT) Policy is not so much bunk as folly and listed here as a personal pet peeve.

7Paraphrased from J.B.S. Haldane.


Credits & Awards

ThorGoLucky

The Snuggle Wolf of Science, Skepticism, and Silliness