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While I was working on “The Location of Dilmun, Part 2”, I decided to poke my head into the YouTube comments section of Ancient Aliens Debunked (which is just as filled with conspiracy theories and science-denial as you expect) and found this person, who, not understanding the concept of “prior probability“, believes that the perfectly non-man-made Visocica Hill, which, judging by the below image, taken from this pdf file on a pro-Artificial Bosnian Pyramid Hypothesis website, looks barely anything like a pyramid. For some reason unknown to me, this person believes that the vast majority of relevant scholars are engaging in self-delusion when they point to the fact the pyramid is not shaped like a Great Pyramid of Giza, the tunnels inside it are of disputable origin, the sandstone ‘blocks’ exposed beneath its topsoil are natural, and that there is absolutely no evidence at Visocica of anything resembling the evidence that humans made the most outstanding features of the Giza Necropolis in the 4th Dynasty of Egypt. Hell, the person even tried to make me believe Visocica Hill is more correctly oriented towards True North than the Pyramids of Giza (a claim that can be easily falsified by using eyes and a computer mouse).

A bunch of people have the bile to claim this hill is an artificial pyramid!

To further demonstrate that this hill is not a pyramid, I will be generous and give this person an opportunity to experience software he really needs to download in this fashion:











The person mentioned above also tells me to read the writing of Paul LaViolette (some crank who has proposed Plato’s Atlantis is a literal description of subatomic particles and has claimed that the Hubble Redshift is a result of ‘tired light’) and Laird Scranton (a Velikovskyan). Don’t be afraid to click on any of the links to the cranks-I’m using nofollow. Naturally, LaViolette claims his hypothesis has not become established science due to scholarly inertia, ignoring the fact scholarly inertia can be overcome with a flood of published papers, as Israel Finkelstein has proven, or with a flood of informally published evidence and informal discussion, as GM Grena has shown (partially; hardly anyone has renounced the idea Socoh, MMST, Hebron, and Ziph on most lmlk handles are GNs and barely anyone besides Grena has proposed that lmlk-stamped jars have something to do with government donations worship payments [see comments] to Levites). Publishing a paper once or thrice and calling it a day has never worked at winning anyone many converts to a very significant new idea. I’m confident most physics PhDs could point out the flaws in LaViolette’s argument, but, as I am no physicist, or even student of physics, I cannot do so. I can, however, ridicule Scranton’s Velikovkyan catastrophism, which is all too easy to refute-it’s physically impossible. His claims regarding the Dogon have been debunked here and here.

Let us now move to ridicule one of the above-mentioned person’s WordPress posts.
Interesting. Over two thousand words and no links. One of the most important things I’ve learned regarding blogging over the past few years is that links are extremely important-testis unus testis nullus (a phrase I have often repeated to the person mentioned above, sometimes with typos). Repeating claims exclusively religious and saying “that is not true” is perhaps the best way to show to the general public all claims exclusively religious are untrue-thus, the solid program “Enemies of Reason”. I don’t see anything more authoritarian-sounding in the CSICOP name as compared to CSI-the latter is simply broader and makes it clear to the public that the former “CSICOP” investigates non-‘paranormal’ nonsense. Dawkins has made it clear he is not “certain” he is right about the non-existence of all gods.

Astrology remains elusive, part interpretive art, part science. That apparent contradiction is guaranteed to frustrate scientists, or worse – seriously piss them off.

-If it ain’t falsifiable, it’s probably false (take care to watch the whole program).

. What our educated elders overlook is that whenever we find authority being asserted by self-appointed Inquisitors General for Accepted Truths, it is usually an indication that the dark ages have already arrived.

-If one can’t show the evidence for something important in front of (metaphorically speaking) the scientific community, one probably doesn’t have much of a case. Besides, there are no such self-appointed Inquisitors General that have any real power. Also, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry does “challenge mainstream views of the world”-it challenges the existence of gods, devils, and many other widely accepted religious claims.

They think nothing of committing academic fraud to preserve the established order and according to psychology professor Richard Kammann, are ‘guilty of the very pathological science they were set up to attack.’

-Where, pray tell, have they committed academic fraud, besides a few instances of plagiarism?

certainly ruthlessly efficient in their campaigns to excommunicate, silence and smear heretics

-Because they have the evidence on their side. Besides, it would be a sad, sad world if we skeptics had not been so efficient at excommunicating (from what?), silencing, and smearing ‘heretics’. Homeopathy would be a multi-million dollar business. Peter Popoff would be out and about claiming to be able to heal the physically sick using faith. A religion that claims a dead Jew some two thousand years ago rose from the dead and is currently residing in outer space (or is it in the clouds?) would be believed in by some 3/4 of the citizens of the richest nation in the world. Over a quarter of the citizens of the same nation would believe in ghosts, and nearly a quarter in astrology. What a sad, sad world it would be. What a sad, sad world it is.

Kepler said that looking for scientific proof of astrology was like a hen pecking around in ‘evil smelling dung’ until a ‘good little grain’ was found.

Kepler was right on the money with this analogy. In this part of town, it’s called cherry-picking, or “questionable subgroup analysis“. I’m still not eating anything out of that dung. The Mars Effect was the product of such analysis, and it is a likely false positive (though compare Kamman 1982). If the person mentioned above cannot show evidence for CSICOP’s fraud (except for a few instances that have no bearing on the truth of its claims), let him not claim it. In short, as there is neither a convincing mechanism for any kind astrology to work, and the evidence for it is, as the person mentioned above admits, cherry-picked, it is safe to say that astrology is ridiculous.

Astrology, like music, is the product of space, resonance, frequency and vibration. The solar system is a vibrating, unified whole. It does not influence us – it is us. Astrology is the interpretation of its meaning and every human birth resonates with the harmony and meaning of the celestial moment.

-[citation needed]. Is that turd of a statement even falsifiable? Also, what is this recourse of cranks to ‘vibration’ (a not-so-subtle means to refer to masturbation?) when they cannot provide actual physical data for their beliefs? Yes, we’re all part of the universe. That should be clear. No, you cannot go about claiming the position of Mars influences the birth of anyone.

Wherever there is water, rock and sunlight, there is potential for telluric ground current which can cause a neurological response in the dowser.

[citation needed] A really, really, really big [citation needed]. What can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

It is a phenomenon to do with the natural environment, with landscape, geology, underground aquifers – not plastic bottles of water in boxes set up in a tent. Evidence that human beings are sensitive to these natural effects is found in the location of ancient sites all over the world, which are invariably constructed upon geophysical discontinuities. This was clearly laid out by scientist John Burke in his recent book, ‘Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty’.

-“Eventually, arguing that these things work means arguing that modern capitalism isn’t that ruthlessly profit-focused“. That’s a pretty big problem the cranks have to solve before their crank status can be removed.

However, that only applies to the claimants. In contrast, the debunkers’ standard seems to be that claims held to be ridiculous require only ridiculous standards of disproof.

-Yup. Higher standards of disproof could also be used, but do not necessarily have to be. Also, placing an event in a tent hardly indicates bad scientific practice-where, exactly, should the experiment have been held? Also, why call the good people at CSI “pseudoskeptics”? They are real skeptics, and are perfectly willing to change their views if their requirements for evidence are satisfied. The results of French’s dowsing experiment are clearly visible; they are not ‘fraudulent’ unless one has a special definition of that term. In short, ad hominem attacks on the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry do not make CSI any less reliable than the groups CSI opposes. Scientists are not “superstitious of the mystical”-they admit its low prior probability and are perfectly willing to test it (provided the test is done at little expense). Thus, the million-dollar challenge.

In short, the above person is a crank who believes in weird things without evidence. He, by claiming the only thing that would disprove a man-made origin for the hill of Visocica would be the excavators only discovering earth below topsoil has shown himself as blind as any religious fundamentalist in this matter. It is amazing he has the intellectual dishonesty to portray the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry as having views any less evidence-based than his own. Visocica isn’t an artificial hill. Scranton and LaViolette are not authorities. Cranks deserve to be ‘persecuted’.

Update (Nov. 22, 2012): for claims of ancient concrete at Visocica, see here.