The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Not So Fast: Anatomy of a Skeptic Hack Job

How to block science, while appearing all sciencey in the process. It is a habit of fake skeptics to extract only enough incremental information necessary in accomplishing a debunking, and then go no further. Expending as little effort as possible in the process. They are heavily invested in an a priori desire to condemn this subject and especially any researchers at all costs. Public ridicule is their best method of science. As a genuine skeptic I say ‘Not so fast’.
Haspel’s Paradox – a suppressed idea mutates to ever more virulent forms, these are then invoked to justify its continued suppression.

I read a blog article recently which piqued my interest in dissecting inside The Ethical Skeptic. A quintessential display of reactive aphronêsis. An exemplary work of pretend skepticism, crafted so as to peddle a set of surreptitiously posed final claims to scientific truth, wrapped up inside the appearance of scientifically addressing a set of field observations. Now, before I begin, let me make three things clear. First, Brian Dunning is an excellent individual – whom I respect in many regards; he is witty, smart, a great communicator and talented media producer, appears to work incessantly and possesses a nose for business and trend sniffing. These are all traits I look for in my business partners. So I like Brian personally. My critique of Brian relates only to his psychosis over the de rigueur set of conclusions/methods he was handed decades ago (falsely in the name of skepticism), and his penchant for exploiting for financial and celebrity gain, the emotionally impaired minds of those who today call themselves skeptics. This is called a celebrity conflict of interest. On any particular whipping horse issue of social skepticism, like UFO’s, a celebrity must double-down in defense of the authorized position so as to not lose face or Cabal ranking. This produces a gain boost of sorts, propelling an erstwhile probability (questionable stacks of ‘likely’ knowledge, bereft of risk assessment) into levels of unjustified oppressive conclusive dogma as a result. And just as in the Salem witch trial days, what better way to certify that one is on the holy side, than to visibly and proactively accuse those on the witching side? There is no possible way to confirm anything but the authorized conclusions under this method of public monkey-science performed falsely in the name of skepticism (see The Appeal to Skepticism: negare attentio Effect). These are some of the reasons I prefer anonymity – I am not looking for money nor notoriety – and as a researcher I cannot afford the bias of a celebrity conflict of interest or a negare attentio effect impacting my work. I really and sincerely want to know the truth of the matter inside this subject. I could care less who is right and who is wrong.

So, let me make it clear here. I am criticizing Brian’s methods in this one article and the resulting implicit claims he has asserted inside a difficult subject now under Ockham’s Razor plurality. But I am not critiquing Brian, nor attempting to foist any specific claim to final knowledge on the subject myself.

Second, I possess over 2,000 hours of professional practice on air search, targeting, fire control, missile control, imaging and other air warfare platforms. I have engaged and splashed (shot down) aircraft (drones) with missiles. I therefore, bore a deep interest in identifying my air targets, and am well experienced inside this subject matter. Something airborne, moving supersonic, with no IFF squawk, and a hard shell ping – is also known as a ‘vampire’ – it lights off your console with alarms and red lights. In some conditions, you are NATO authorized to counter-engage in this circumstance. This is not normal, despite the opinion of the ‘experts’ touted later in this article. If you have something anomalous flying around in the sky – you know it. The ‘expert’ opinions of Seth Shostak and Brian Dunning, presented in the below article extracts, are not based upon expertise nor any level of qualified professional knowledge inside this subject. Things known as ‘ethics’. They constitute the least reliable form of expert to a court, ranking lower than eyewitness testimony, under Federal Rules of Evidence: a professed skeptic.1

Finally, don’t get your ‘more scientific than thou’ Underoos all cattywampus on me now, but I have engaged, both visually and via fire control radar, a UFO during my years in this professional work. Clearly to me, by means of its hard shell ping, lack of IFF squawk, specific response to the energetic beam of my fire control radar (engagement lock on), and dramatic maneuver, speed, acceleration, ability to elevate at 90 degrees and feature Mach 8+ then stop and hover capability – was the fact that it was not one of our craft. I bear no conclusions and make no claims about this craft, who they were, where they were from, why they were flying near my ship, nor why they are even here for that matter. All I know is that they were here – goofing around in a remote area of ocean where even heavily fuel-laden cargo jets dare not dally, nor even so much as vary course from established flight lanes. That it was a craft with extraordinary capabilities, and that it was intelligently piloted, and that it was not us – I am a direct and scientific observer of this fact. You guys in the Social Skepticism Cabal are just going to have to get over yourselves, as there are many of us out there; skeptically dissatisfied with the rhetoric from your club on this matter over the last five decades. We do not consider you as representative of science nor skepticism in the least. We consider you idiots.

Of course, now I am a ‘believer’ in the compromised mind of the anosognosiac pretend skeptic. This is much akin to The Left Pole syndrome – anyone to the other side of the extreme of complete denial, is a ‘believer’. Watch for people who think in this manner – they are not to be trusted. You certainly should never get your science from them.

If you are looking for me to confirm suspicion herein that aliens exist, you are going to go away disappointed. I do not believe in aliens. But I do want this subject investigated seriously; extricated from the oppressive thumb of the pseudo-skeptic brigades who have hounded and impeded its research since the very inception. UFO-dom is clearly not a case of Chekov’s Gun, as the topic contains many loose and tattered ends – bearing a confusing array of conflicting, inconsistent and changing observations. Yet there they are, every night. If it were all merely a hardcore fabrication as Dunning and his cohorts contend, then all the inconsistencies would be accounted for – like a lie, or good novel, a god or religion (or false skepticism for that matter, see pseudo-theory). Everything explained, and explained easily. There exists a level of dismissiveness and pressure to conform inside this topic, which is unprecedented in human history – a level unmerited by mere misinterpretation, hysteria and hoax. This subject is harmless, paling in comparison to issues where true skepticism is in dire need. Why then all the focus and avarice?

I share the frustration of many professional eyewitnesses in that it is difficult to convey to outsiders, a single piece of evidence which proves all this. My observation involved a consilience of various systems, events, and professional eyewitness (8 of them) observation – undeniable in the offing; easily dissected and dismissed if only one snippet of the information is addressed (as is done in the article below). It is like Popey in a fight, he can best 50 men all by himself, provided they show up only one at a time. In the same way, social skeptics bear this type of cartoon fantasy regarding their work. Beware of those who bear the habit of shooting at trivial, peripheral or stand alone data. Beware of those who fixate on the persons involved more than they do matters of material fact. This is a process called consilience evasion. It is in no way a method of science, rather only the appearance of such. It is a method of fake skepticism.

When only 1% of a subject or incident is known, pondering it is not pseudoscience. Debunking it by stepping 1.2% into its knowledge base (or only far enough to find some apparent disconfirming information) is the worst form of pseudoscience.

They are all ready to condemn and dismiss this subject. As a skeptic I say ‘Not so fast’.

How I handled this incident in my professional work, I believe to be true skepticism – stepping where the evidence will allow, and going no further. But not retreating either. I have suspended my conclusions about the event, until such time as I can obtain further information. But with the Brian Dunnings and Michael Shermers of the world patrolling about and making sure that any discussion of the subject is ridiculed and quashed, conforming to the cosmology they and their cronies had already adopted from less-than-unbiased mentors back in school – I am pessimistic that I will get much past this current position of suspended judgement. I still maintain an aversion to whipping out the canned one-liners which allow one to dismiss it all. That is not science, not skepticism, not critical thinking – not in the least. No, I am skeptical of skeptics who practice this type of ignorance. Below we dissect a case example eliciting many of the reasons why I distrust their form of ‘critical thinking’. (Note: All materials in italics and blockquote format blue font are extracted from the subject blog by Brian Dunning, “The Pentagon’s UFO Hunt.” Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 1 May 2018.2. Its use herein complies with the Fair Use Act (17 U.S.C. § 107); as this material is used for critique, commentary, reporting and teaching inside a not-for-revenue-nor-celebrity-building context of publication.)

The Article: “The Pentagon’s UFO Hunt”

In December 2017, the New York Times ran a story that shocked readers worldwide. It was the revelation of a Pentagon program called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, which spent $22 million from 2007 to 2012 investigating UFOs. Videos were released showing apparently unexplainable thermal images of maneuvering UFOs taken from US fighter planes. The Internet went mad as people embraced what appeared to be government endorsement of actual alien visitation. But then cooler heads had a chance to look at the reports, and we now view the episode quite differently. For it turns out that this whole program was not so much an official investigation of a genuine phenomenon, so much as it was a singularly successful public relations coup by a group of lifelong UFO believers and promoters of alien visitation and the paranormal.

First, this project was not a ‘hunt’. You do not have to hunt UFO’s nor UAP’s, as they just happen normally (especially as it relates to the Military) – on the order of a couple dozen events a night in the US alone, according to National UFO Reporting Center data.3 The studies were merely reviews of events which had naturally already occurred on their own. There was no ‘hunt’. The fact that we are not investigating these phenomena speaks more to the malevolent a priori religion (abiogenetic nihilism) of those who seek to control public thought around this issue, than it does to any argument from ignorance or proof by negative composition (two of the chief fallacies employed by the thought police on this issue).  It is a verb called ignorance. It is one of the worst foibles of darkened humanity and a signature trait of fake skeptics. So the very title of the blog article starts off in a misleadingly pejorative context.

Dunning begins by prejudicially framing the subject matter inside an appeal to spite. ‘The Shocked Internet’ – that mass of easy to hate trolls and credulites whom everyone well knows and despises – save for the realization that it is of course, all of us (aside from celebrities). But let’s set that aside. A spite which in particular stems from an exploitable fanaticism-based affirmation bias carried by most if not all of the 1970’s-trained ‘skeptics’ who burst upon the scene decades ago and have made excellent work of trashing perception of the thinking discipline ever since.4 They assail those credulous ‘readers’ out there. They who fail to practice critical thinking skills and are therefore rendered vulnerable to information, or even worse (gasp!) might actually study a forbidden subject (note that there are 768 of them – all completely figured out, with supporting studies and proven counter-claims). That horrid pseudoscience known as observation and research conducted by the bad people – albeit in this case comprised comprehensively inside two short FLiR clips according to Dunning.

So we are introduced at the start, to the unwashed and foaming at the mouth irrational ‘they’. Now let’s examine Dunning’s pre-defined ‘cooler heads’ as he calls them, framed in the ‘we/me’ conjugate form. Read ‘we’ as ‘the same familiar cast of ad verecundiam deniers who already have a conclusion well affixed inside their heads since the 60’s/70’s’. No expertise – lots of conclusions. One must always precis a hack job by framing the good guys against the bad guys in this manner. ‘Paranormal believers!’ ‘Alien visitation! claimants’. They condemn them by the subject matter and association with disliked names, and not by their methods (a key warning indicator of social skepticism). The associative condemnation (all believers believe all the same subjects) fallacy witch hunt cries of the last Century, now fading from our ears as people grow to reject the message of the Dunnings and Shermers of the world. There is simply too much going on, for a simple wave of the skeptical hand to bear any credibility. Their cries devalue as their currency of epithets are over-minted: research of this subject matter is ALWAYS a PR stunt. Any consideration of the subject ALWAYS constitutes belief. Any criticism of the response is ALWAYS a ‘conspiracy theory’. Yeah right. This has risen to the level of a joke among the other 7 billion of us. A joke which social skeptics have yet to get.


Mr. Dunning boasts in the opening in his article that he, along with the other ‘we’, have ‘looked at the reports’ which were generated by the AATIP. Funny, as there were 38 such reports according to insiders, which are held under classification – levels to which Mr. Dunning possesses no clearance nor access – and which have been under FOIA application for some time now.5 They do not exist in the public domain. So I am not sure where Mr. Dunning got his copy of those ‘reports’ from, nor why he does not reference any of their expository material in this supposed fini on the very subject. Such material would be very skeptical and helpful in bringing us ‘believers’ across the threshold of evidence, fact and rationality.

But what they probably didn’t know was the dubious history of the cast of characters behind AATIP. The central figure was Bigelow, known to NASA for Bigelow Aerospace, but known to the UFO and paranormal communities for Skinwalker Ranch. It’s a 480-acre property in Utah which Bigelow purchased in 1996 after learning stories of paranormal activities said to happen there: cattle mutilations that he believed were the result of alien experimentation, UFO sightings, ghost lights, and trans-dimensional and shapeshifting beings. Bigelow had formed a group he called the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci), a group of parapsychologists and alternative scientists to study telepathy and related phenomena. He moved them all onto Skinwalker Ranch.

According to news site Politico’s analysis of campaign donation records, Bigelow was a major donor to Harry Reid, his Nevada senator. The two were friends. It was at Bigelow’s urging that Reid approached Stevens and Inouye and secured the $22 million, which was then given to Bigelow. It was an odd transaction. First, $22 million over 5 years (about $360,000 a month) accomplishes very little on a governmental scale — regardless, it’s a bit smelly that it was given to a major donor and friend. How Bigelow spent it has not been made public, but what has been released is that many of the people Bigelow employed at NIDSci are the same ones listed as senior researchers for AATIP, such as engineer and parapsychologist Hal Puthoff — one of the people behind Project Stargate, the CIA’s failed effort in the 1970s to employ psychic powers for intelligence purposes. Puthoff wrote the proposal to fund AATIP, and used his time there to write 38 papers about his ideas for metaphysical space-time drive systems for spaceships, described by physicists as pure pseudoscience.

Oh, Skinwalker Ranch, Project Stargate, evidence for the afterlife, metaphysical space-time drive systems, ghost lights, transdimensional/shapeshifting beings, cattle mutilations, telepathy, Tom DeLong, Leslie Kean, Luis Elizondo, Colm Kelleher, Robert Bigelow, Senators Reid, Stevens and Inouye, Hal Puthoff, NIDSci. The bad people and the ‘dubious history’ behind them. Trust me on this, that it is all bunk and they are all bad. The familiar stench of the ‘no evidence’ appeal to skepticism (which we will deal with below).6 Suffice to say that the mere mention of the bad player names alone is enough to impel the winged monkeys into taking flight.

I need no evidence because – I represent skepticism.

Let’s make something clear. This subject does not exist nor persist as the fault of the above cast of characters, as Brian Dunning implies. It exists because of the robust persistence of the phenomenon itself, and its ad hoc observation by reliable and professional witnesses. Nothing else. Any representation that attacking a batch of names, conspiracies and subjects, stands as some sort of act of skepticism or research, is simply delusional.

A billionaire donating to the senator in his district? Oh my god the collusion! I know 7 billionaires and they ALL donate to their respective district senators. They all benefit in terms of their personal causes from these donations. This is Big Whup. We are really into the meat of the facts, evidence and critical thinking with these paragraphs. I am floored at the revelatory knowledge and depth therein. And of course Dunning reverts back to the 38 papers, which are described now by ‘physicists’ as ‘pure pseudoscience’. Never mind the fact that this appeal to authority phantom priesthood does not even have possession of the 38 studies. Pseudoscience is the easiest claim to make in the world. You never need any evidence, it serves to condemn both subject matter and person, and tender an appeal to authority and final peer-reviewed conclusion all in one felled swoop of rational thinking. The second easiest claim in the world to make is that ‘physicists’ all think something collectively. Will wonders never cease. Hint, this accusation point, condemning so many subjects and so many people all at once, would be a great place at which to offer supporting recitations. But remember, this is a ‘skeptic’ article – it will be given a free pass on scientific rigor.

The social skeptic is a catalyseur. A third party exploitation specialist abetting conflict between the public and science. They do not seek truth in any specific matter; rather, they seek the power that fomenting conflict between science and its stakeholders creates for them and their cronies. They presume to tender preferred final conclusions in lieu of science, without having to account under any semblance of scientific rigor, save for at most skepticism itself. They afford no method of peer review, eschew any assessment of entailed risk or the harm they serve to cause to both persons and science; yet promote stacks of highly questionable conclusivity, by means of the free pass established through the intimidating power of their Cabal and its cadre of dark actors.

The Witch Hunt

And now that the AATIP program has ended, many of these same people are still working together, though now under former rock musician Tom DeLonge, who in 2015 founded something he calls the To The Stars Academy (TTSA). It’s crowdfunded by selling corporate shares, and to date, around 3,000 UFOlogists, conspiracy theorists, and other enthusiasts have sent money to support TTSA’s mission of proving an alien presence on Earth, and the reality of phenomena such as telepathy. DeLonge writes that this is necessary because:

The public interest in the outer edges of science and the understanding of phenomena has always been suffocated by mainstream ideology and bureaucratic constraint.

It’s a theme familiar to Skeptoid listeners: Dismissing disliked science findings as “mainstream ideology” is a common gambit of the pseudoscientist.

Biologist Colm Kelleher, who was the head of NIDSci for many years, studied cattle mutilations and other paranormal phenomena at Skinwalker Ranch until its closure in 2004; then he was the Deputy Administrator for AATIP from 2008-2011; and is now listed as the biotech consultant for TTSA. Running one’s eye down the lists of personnel employed by these programs, one could get the impression that this is a single ongoing enterprise of hardcore believers in alien visitation, moving as a group wherever the funding leads them. Legally, there are no evident corporate connections between Bigelow’s NIDSci, Reid’s AATIP, and DeLonge’s TTSA; but in reality, they are clearly a single spiritual thread followed by a core of believers. Each program begins approximately where its predecessor left off. Cynical observers might well conclude that AATIP was little more than Bigelow’s successful plan to shift the funding of his personal hobby studying the paranormal from his own pockets to that of the taxpayers.

Even Leslie Kean, the principal reporter behind the New York Times story, has been a part of the ongoing enterprise for some time, having written articles promoting TTSA since at least October 2017. She is also a lifelong promoter of UFOs and the paranormal, having written books on both; with such titles as UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record and Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife.

The intermingling of UFOs and aliens with paranormal phenomena like telepathy and the afterlife has been a common theme throughout these groups. Telepathy, they believe, is how the visiting aliens communicate with us. DeLonge made this convoluted statement to Paper Magazine in 2015:

…A person that was gathering all that footage for the congressional hearing…was telling me that the big belief, which I had corroborated by a university professor that was in the know, by the way, that the communication of this particular phenomenon is the frequency of thought. So part of communicating and making contact is shutting your mind down and being able to project your thoughts.

Elizondo is the most cryptic of these personalities. His biography from AATIP listed roles in intelligence at virtually every national security agency you can think of. Yet when Wired magazine submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for information about Elizondo’s employment at the Pentagon, they turned up no records at all; nor does any Luis Elizondo appear in an online database of federal employees for that period of time. A Pentagon spokesperson did confirm only that he had worked for the Department of Defense at some point. So it’s all very strange. Elizondo’s position today is as Tom DeLonge’s personal bodyguard at TTSA, though with the grandiloquent title of Director of Global Security.

All of this is pejoratively spun pablum published by the Cabal regarding these disliked names and subjects. It is not novel information in the least, implies a final conclusion, adds no value nor clarity to the subject (key litmus indicators of ethical skepticism), acknowledges no risk in their methods of analysis, nor does it represent any original thinking on the part of its author – he, merely acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for the following really weary points – which exploit the daisy chain dynamic interplay of the bucket characterization from a negative premise and fallacy of composition, all justified by an explicit praedicate evidentia fallacy:

   Bucket Characterization from Negative Premise  ∞  Fallacy of Composition  ∞  praedicate evidentia Fallacy Interplay

  1. Subject A is bad – therefore if you research it, you are also bad.
  2. If one person in the group is bad, then all the members of the group are also bad, and also believe.
  3. They are all of a ‘single spiritual thread’ and believe all the same comprehensive batch of paranormal things (things to which we already possessed the answer five decades ago)
  4. They are all simply ‘hardcore believers’, conspiracy theorists and enthusiasts (the fourth such accusation of this)
  5. They have been proved false by ‘disliked science findings’ (praedicate evidentia fallacy and notice, no recitation. I would LOVE to have these studies)
  6. ‘There is no record of…’ (something I could not find)
  7.  I hold direct evidence (absence of evidence) that the bad people are ‘very strange’ and suspect.

Note that this is the same processus de logique which underpinned the Salem Witch Trials.7

These people get up on a stage, endanger their careers, families and livelihoods in order to make an unpopular risk in sincere scientific conjecture. They know they and their kids and co-workers are going to be made a laughing stock. On the other side we have self-attention grabbing opportunists, who adopt no skin in the game, never produce any original ideas or evidence, thrive upon social ridicule and club thought enforcement.  Who are you going to trust in this play? If you contend the latter, you need to take a hard look in the mirror some day.

OK, Brian now having essentially worded differently these same exact accusations of being bad, four different times – propaganda which has been regurgitated over and over in skeptic literature since well before this government program was ever around, can we get to any actual evidence or original thoughts? But before we venture into actual accountable modes of thinking, perhaps we should probably understand how this style of propaganda works, and remind ourselves of an apothegm called Haspel’s Paradox. This is the method at play here, make no mistake. The players are all considered unacceptable or odd, for reason of the very work conducted by the sskeptic cabal itself:

Haspel’s Paradox

/philosophy : pseudoscience: activism/ : a suppressed idea mutates to ever more virulent forms, these are then invoked to justify its continued suppression.

The Evidence

So, finally we get on to ‘the evidence itself’. The claim in point number five above that there exist these ‘disliked science findings’ on this topic that we all are supposedly ignoring – I still await that extraordinary set of claims and evidence. However, now I am sitting on the edge of my chair, since we are broaching the evidence. Oh, it’s back to the two videos again. OK, his article raised that early on as ‘the reports’, so let’s go there.

But of course, it’s not the people or their backgrounds or beliefs that determine the validity of these claims of alien visitation, but rather the evidence itself. None of the programs discussed have presented any empirical evidence, but both AATIP and TTSA have offered the videos taken from US fighter jets. These videos were passed along to the media with the press releases in December 2017. So let’s take a look at them.

The most dramatic of these videos, filmed in 2004 by an F/A-18F fighter plane, appears to show a stingray-shaped craft banking above some clouds, even making a few turns. It’s enough to impress almost anyone… except, of course, military pilots familiar with the characteristics of the FLIR infrared camera. It’s a bit difficult to explain in an audio program, but for an excellent breakdown of exactly what you’re seeing and why it looks like a stingray-shaped craft turning above some clouds, see the article on the Metabunk website. In short, what’s happening is that the stingray shape — two roundish wings with a short tail — is how any single sharp point of heat appears through the glare filter of the FLIR pod mounted to the fighter plane. Other confirming examples of this shape are widely available online. When the craft appears to rotate in the video, these movements correspond to the rotation of the gimbal on which the FLIR turns in response to the airplane’s maneuvers. The FLIR camera was looking off to the side, not straight ahead; and the fighter plane was moving past the clouds, while the distant point of heat remained stationary — most likely a commercial jet headed away from the fighter, about 15 miles away according to reconstructions. The video was simply an effective combination of two commonplace optical illusions.

So, we paid $22 million to edit and post on the internet, two very short clips of a portion of an anomalous object engagement with a forward looking infrared (FLiR) system. These are ‘the reports?’ First, I don’t buy this for a minute. Moreover, notice how false skeptics make ample use of the least information they can address? Lots of outsider commentary on less or constrained observational data is very advantageous to a fraudster8 – something you learn over the years in business. They take 1% of knowledge of a subject, develop it to 1.2%, throw in some appeal to authority, and declare it a finished recipe.

These pilots did not just encounter these objects by FLiR. That is not how the process works. FLiR is the last system technology you use, in coordination with a number of other systems, as well as visual identification. If these craft were indeed both a ‘commercial jet’ or any other aircraft for that matter – then these pilots would have known it from the ATC issued IFF squawk code, which is mandatory in aviation. During my time in this arena, I probably encountered 12,000 craft, mostly civilian airliners and commercial, military and private aircraft. Of these, 11,999 were squawking their IFF codes. The only one which did not, accelerated through Mach 8 in a matter of a second, then stopped and hovered, backtracked and became highly upset when I painted it with a fire control radar. But what do I know? I am not a Cabal member, so I have no say. In support, let’s do something which fake skeptics hate. Let’s ask the professional, expert observer eyewitness:9

On Nov.14, F-18s were ordered into the area and saw it up close. Veteran pilot Dave Fravor, commander of the elite Black Aces unit, says the Tic Tac reacted to the presence of the F-18s then took off like a bullet fired from a gun.

“It takes off like nothing I’ve ever seen. One minute it’s here, and off, it’s gone.”

~ Navy F/A-18 Pilot David Fravor

Pilots reported a large disturbance just under the surface of the ocean, round and 100 yards across. It appeared as if the Tic Tac was rendezvousing with the underwater object.

Dunning also conveniently ignores as well the pilot quotes from the clip “There’s a whole fleet of ’em, look on the SA”. To which another pilot replies “My gosh…!” This debunks the whole ‘effective combination of commonplace optical illusions’ and ‘most likely a commercial jet’ claims – as imperious thinking. A whole fleet of non-IFF transponding craft. But let’s not even go to the scientific method here, which involves ‘gathering intelligence’ before presuming to be competent to even ask a question, much less issue a conclusion. You learn early on – that with pretend skepticism, one can dispense with all these irritating rigors, because we have conclusions to promote, people and subjects to disparage. In addition, these observations occurred over weeks, and across multiple systems and observers, not just a 30 second misinterpretation of FLiR imagery. There is no fucking way, unless your are in a religious panic and are a complete dipshit, that one would declare this to be a conventional aircraft – even in an armchair debunking. And the effort required to dispel this knee jerk notion was not much in magnitude. Consider this probably the best piece of evidence as to who is legit and who is not inside this subject. You will notice that this pattern has repeated over and over again across the last 5 decades of North Korea style treatment of the subject.

Skeptics habitually place a D level of effort into their work.

Of the 11,999 craft with identity, I knew what they were immediately, by their 1. altitude, 2. lane of traverse, 3. speed, 4. radar cross section, 5. radar spectrum and seeker pattern and 6. IFF squawk. Nor do you engage these matters at a mere 15 miles distance. My average engagement envelope was 80 miles (240 miles or more if I were working with AAWACS aircraft). And we could see craft flying low and under the clouds. Once a craft is at 15 miles distant you have had ample time to analyze it through multiple systems and also view it visually in many instances. Heck you can see from ship to ship at 12 miles. Only laymen will be impressed by these big sounding distances. I can see it now – the weapons systems designers and DARPA and SPAWAR and NAVSEA: “Let’s only give them one system to evaluate air threats – that’ll make it a lot more fun and produce a lot more UFO reports. And can you imagine the airline passengers’ surprise when military jets come in close to find out who they are or maybe even shoot them down because of ‘optical illusions’? Who said flying wasn’t serendipitous?”

Brian has conveniently spun the pilots involved, and all pilots for that matter, as credulous dolts, ignorant of ATC IFF protocol, vulnerable to simple every-single-day ‘optical illusions’, dependent upon one system (needing instruction on its operation and interpretation from Brian and his cohorts), unaware of the traffic around them, and knee-jerk interpreting anything which surprises them on one system return – to be interstellar aliens. This is not only simpleton logic, it is insulting and dimwitted.

This is a form of ad hominem fallacy called wishful accusation. Brian has directly accused the pilots involved of professional incompetence. But again, since he is a sskeptic – he will NEVER be held to account for this.

These fakers do not understand ethics (professional practices). These pilots would not have been chasing this craft if it were a civilian craft a mere 15 miles away (very close proximity in air coordination), nor by means of solely FLiR – and Brian Dunning’s ‘multiple pilots familiar with the characteristics of FLiR’ he sought, know this. Quod erat demonstrandum, someone in Brian’s chain of accountability is lying. If these ‘multiple pilots’ let an unidentified aircraft get within 15 miles, squawking no IFF, and in a fleet formation and only looked at them on FLiR – and they consider this normal? – then these are piss-poor pilots. Those analyzing these scenarios are guilty of cherry picking single aspects of the encounter to debunk – elemental pleading. Brian conveniently did not want to go any further, like seeking the Incident Report, OPREP or speaking with the AW scene commander or the pilots themselves, because additional information did not service the wall of denial he was seeking to patch together by means of spit and a couple bricks.

So much for ‘the evidence’.

Brian has failed to service the available information and professional standards set regarding these two observations (this is called ‘ethics’ in my legal and business domains). He extracted only what was necessary to perform a debunking. This is a habit of this group.

If these videos were so easily explained, why then did Elizondo and TTSA present them as evidence of alien visitation? The reason is simply that these people are not very good investigators — and certainly not impartial ones. Astronomer Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute explained to Business Insider how Bigelow and DeLonge’s people were not the best choices to analyze these videos:

If you were investigating some phenomenon that you’re not sure whether it’s for real or not, but it would be extraordinarily important if were real… you would want somebody impartial, I would think. Giving this case to somebody who already knows what the answer is is maybe not terribly objective.

Putting an exclamation point on this was another video shown by Tom DeLonge at a TTSA event. Its explanation was even simpler: it was revealed to have been amateur video shot of a metallic foil party balloon in the shape of a number one, such as you might buy along with a number two for someone’s 21st birthday party. This is the investigative acumen paid for by those who have bought shares in the company.

So, did the Pentagon’s $22 million Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program prove that the US government is in contact with alien visitors? No. But it did prove that US Senators are just as susceptible as news reporters (and the general public) to being persuaded by rhetoric and pseudoscientific sensationalism, when expertly wielded by passionate true believers.

Presenting them as ‘evidence of alien visitation?’ While some people do make this comment, regarding these specific reports, I believe this to constitute a straw man. I am not sure that the players involved made a claim as to evidence of ‘alien visitation’. At least I cannot find that claim registered anywhere inside this program. But then again I would have to have their reports, which no one outside the need-to-know disclosure group does. The only claim I see is the one that something is flying around in our skies, and it ain’t us. This was a normal appeal for plurality and scientific research. Yes, it did involve some PR. But most of science involves PR. And as per Haspel’s Paradox, if we continue to deride and suppress this topic, then these are the players and circumstances we are going to be left with. Get used to it, and stop bitching – because in reality this is all the result of the methods of your cabal to begin with, and not the ‘believers’ themselves.

Let’s not even touch the ‘not very good investigators’ and ‘rhetoric and pseudoscientific sensationalism’ comments. I just start laughing when I hear a celebrity sskeptic, riding on the coat-tails of a controversy, make these accusation. These foibles are their very life-blood.

Finally, wheeling out Seth Shostak? Why not Joe Nickell, or Steven Novella or Michael Shermer too? That way we could pose four people with absolutely zero qualification on the subject. Four times the authority. Seth possesses no expertise in this area, and is a highly biased contributor – highly a priori invested in his preferred answer in this particular case as well. Even Seth himself agrees with this in his comment “If you were investigating some phenomenon that you’re not sure whether it’s for real or not, but it would be extraordinarily important if were real… you would want somebody impartial, I would think. Giving this case to somebody who already knows what the answer is is maybe not terribly objective.” What would be helpful too Seth, is to resource comment from someone who actually has experience in the subject too. For the very reason he just gave, Seth is almost the last person I would seek to comment upon this particular phenomenon set. His Cabal possess the answer to all of this; and have had it since before the evidence even started cropping up 50 years ago. There is no need for research when you are a Cabal member. As a skeptic, I do not believe their conclusive claims on this matter, and even less the methods which they employed to arrive at them. What we are falling for here is the implicit myth promoted as part of the propaganda support mechanisms of Seth Shostak, upon a Pollyanna public. The idea that, because scientists are not all over this amazing set of observations, therefore means it is not real. An implicit hogwash called the myth of the excited scientists:

Myth of the Excited Scientists

/propaganda : spin/ : the mythical, dis-informative and/or Pollyanna contention on the part of fake skeptics wherein they will claim that if any evidence whatsoever for a disliked subject were actually found, then scientists surely would be excited about it and then dedicate their lives to study of the subject from then on.

But those of us who study human corruption as part of their professional work, we know better.

The Thesis Anatomy: Bad!

Bottom line, this entire panning of the UFO subject addressed, is a case of ad vericundiam, Truzzi fallacy, elemental pleading and appeal to skepticism, ergo sum veritas fallacy. It is a fantasy and process of self aggrandizement, riding on the coat tails of a prominent and controversial subject. Denial is so easy, so sciencey – and you can never be held to account for it. Let’s recap then, the fallacies featured inside this hack job.

1.  ad verecundiam

/philosophy : pseudoscience : authority/ : accepting as evidence for a proposition the pronouncement of someone who is taken to be an authority but is not really an authority. This can happen when non-experts parade as experts in fields in which they have no special competence.

2.  Witch Hunt Methodology

Bucket Characterization from Negative Premise – subject A is a disproved topic. As a ponderer of subject A you are therefore a pseudo scientist; and in being pseudo scientist you therefore then adhere to every other philosophy of pseudoscience and every philosophy a critical observer finds distasteful. Class stereotype disdain with fictionalized evidence.

Fallacy of Composition – assuming that something true of part of a whole must also be true of the whole.

praedicate evidentia – hyperbole in extrapolating or overestimating the gravitas of evidence supporting a specific claim, when only one examination of merit has been conducted, insufficient hypothesis reduction has been performed on the topic, a plurality of data exists but few questions have been asked, few dissenting or negative studies have been published, or few or no such studies have indeed been conducted at all.

An interplay of these 3 fallacies which compose The Salem Witch Trial Method (see above).

3.  Elemental Pleading

/philosophy : pseudoscience : flawed scientific method/ : breaking down the testing of data or a claim into testing of its constituents, in order to remove or filter an effect which can only be derived from the combination of elements being claimed.

4.  Observation Denial Special Pleading (or Cherry Picking)

/philosophy : pseudoscience : flawed data/ : a form of spurious data and observation dismissal where a proponent introduces favorable details or excludes unfavorable details regarding the observation, through alleging a need to apply additional considerations, without proper criticism or vetting of these considerations.

5.  The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy (Informal)

ergo sum veritas Fallacy (of Irrelevance)

1a.  The contention, implication or inference that one’s own ideas or the ideas of others hold authoritative or evidence based veracity simply because their proponent has declared themselves to be a ‘skeptic’.

1b.  The assumption, implication or inference that an organization bearing a form of title regarding skepticism immediately holds de facto unquestionable factual or ideological credibility over any other entity having conducted an equivalent level of research into a matter at hand.

1c.  The assumption, implication or inference that an organization or individual bearing a form of title regarding skepticism, adheres to a higher level of professionalism, ethics or morality than does the general population.

1′ (strong).  The assumption that because one or one’s organization is acting in the name of skepticism or science, that such a self claimed position affords that organization and/or its members exemption from defamation, business tampering, fraud, privacy, stalking, harassment and tortious interference laws.

6.  Truzzi Fallacy (of Argument)

/philosophy : pseudoscience : pretense/ : the presumption that a position of skepticism or plausible conformance on a specific issue affords the skeptical apologist tacit exemption from having to provide authoritative outsider recitation or evidence to support a contended claim or counter-claim.

As a result of these seven fallacies – three of which are failures in critical path logic, the following summarizes the entire outline structure of Dunning’s blog article. It is 4th grade in its logical crafting as an argument, simply worded in a college level composition style. It’s sole purpose is propaganda, to further a Cabal’s disparagement of targeted persons and forbidden subjects, intimidate future researchers from approaching the topic, and issue authorized correct thinking to the public at large. George Orwell would stand in awe.

I.  Believer people are bad people who believe bad things.

A.  Here is a listing of the bad people and the bad subjects.

B.  All the same bad people work together in conspiracy to promote and believe all the same bad things.

C.  These bad subjects and conspiring bad people are long ago well known by the not-bad people.

D.  Draw the line at calling Navy Pilots the bad people, because then you will lose popularity. And popularity is the goal here.

II.  As a not-bad person, I have personally read 38 bad reports by the bad people, to which I do not really have any access.

III.  Physicists, also not-bad people, have read the same bad 38 reports to which they also did not really have any access, and all agree with me that all the reports are not just bad, but pure bad, and the people who developed them are bad, and the subject is bad too.

IV.  The Evidence.

A.  Bad people posed two shards of optical illusion demonstration by incompetent professionals, which I claimed to be ‘the evidence’.

B.  Ignore the actual information involved in the case, as that is irrelevant. Make up some theoretical armchair evidence instead.

C.  I advise incompetent professionals as to how to REALLY interpret their systems and conduct an air engagement – via ONE item comment: FliR blur.

D.  Unknown subject matter experts support my contention that this ONE item, FLiR blur, is sufficient basis of information from which to draw a conclusion.

E.  Foist a supporting quote from a well previously established and highly biased fellow club member, who is under extreme celebrity conflict of interest.

V.  All of this therefore was proved long ago to constitute merely sensationalism of bad things by the bad hardcore believers, a thing well known by the not-bad people.

VI.  Please use this article as recitation evidence proof that the subject has been debunked (and tender me the club credit).

This is a weak form of plural arguing, wherein I am not convinced that Brian is really all that concerned about the truth here. He has more important goals in mind. It is a set of talking points, memorized and purposed to be intimidating at first or uneducated glance. It is no more than a prosecution witness of fact, getting on the courtroom stand (being compensated as well for this testimony) and proclaiming about the accused defendant: “He is bad! The whole town thinks he is bad. My best friend says he is bad too.” And the prosecution then resting its case on that testimony alone. So, while the Pentagon’s program efforts of course were in no way a UFO ‘hunt’, ironically this article itself was no more than, a witch hunt.

Skeptics, you have to up your game. I am shocked at the number of shallow people who fall for this kind of parlor trick. This is only impressing the very people whom you claimed to be the vulnerable and credulous in the first place. But it is not impressing me in the least.

epoché vanguards gnosis


How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “Not So Fast: Anatomy of a Skeptic Hack Job” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 1 May 2018, Web;

  1. The Ethical Skeptic: “Skeptical Thinking does not Constitute Expert Opinion”; April 28, 2014;
  2. Dunning, B. “The Pentagon’s UFO Hunt.” Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 1 May 2018. Web. 1 May 2018. <>
  3. National UFO Reporting Center Database of Sightings;
  4. The Ethical Skeptic: Ten Reasons People No Longer Find Skeptics Credible; May 24, 2017;
  6. The Ethical Skeptic, The Appeal to Skepticism Fallacy; April 14, 2014;
  7. Legends of America: Procedures, Courts & Aftermath of the Salem Witch Trials;
  8. The Ethical Skeptic: “The New Debunker: Pseudo-Skeptic Sleuth; July 31, 2017;
  9. George Knapp; “I-Team Exclusive: Confidential report analyzes Tic Tac UFO incidents”; 18 May 2018;

May 1, 2018 - Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | , ,

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "Not So Fast: Anatomy of a Skeptic Hack Job"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Wow, tell us what you really think why don’t you? I think you shot down this aircraft with a 10 megaton nuclear missile. I don’t understand half of this stuff, but it sounds good.


I love it. Absolutely love this editorial. And while I do not totally grasp everything you said here (such as what predicate evidentia is???) – I get your overall message and what each point is. Well said Ethical Skeptic! Needs to be said.

(I am a lapsed MUFON member, but this gets me so fired up to start doing field investigation again!)



It is a worry that the public discourse has deteriorated to the point where this sort of piece is even thought worthy of consideration. The same sort of dynamic seems to have taken the universities (esp social sciences) in the US by storm.
George Orwell clearly flagged the dangers in “Politics and the English Language”. I hope he was not expecting that his contributions would improve matters. They have got worse, not better.

Clear thinking is a rarity.

Chinese (Simplified)EnglishFrenchGermanHindiPortugueseRussianSpanish
%d bloggers like this: