Thursday, July 19, 2012

Science or Pseudoscience?

Many critics of cryptozoology often contend that it is a pseudoscience. A pseudoscience is a field of study that claims to be scientific, but the practitioners of that field do not use correct scientific methodology when they are conducting their research.

A good example of pseudoscience is creationism. This is because, ultimately, all scientific theories need to be falsifiable. And the claim that evolution is not true, and that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, is simply not falsifiable. For example, some creationists might claim that the Devil planted fossils in the ground in order to test our faith. The problem with this claim is that there is no way of proving whether or not it is true. For example, God could have created the world 10 minutes ago, and left signs of it being far older than it really is, including false memories that he put inside of our brains. However, we quite simply have no way of testing the validity of this claim. Therefore, this claim is not a scientific hypothesis; It is, rather, a religious belief.
However, I am not, by any means, saying that science is somehow against, or at odds with, religion. Religion and science are 2 separate things, and there is nothing wrong with having religious beliefs. However, trying to scientifically prove that creationism is true is a pseudoscientific practice. Once again, this is because faith and belief are the providence of religion, while falsifiable theories obtained from experiments are the domain of science.

Another example of pseudoscience is ghost-hunting, and paranormal investigations. This is because science normally does not deal with the metaphysical, or the supernatural, since theories involving paranormal topics are usually not falsifiable.

However, there is nothing that is inherently pseudoscientific about cryptozoology. Cryptozoology is simply the search for new species. In fact, even a zoologist looking for a new species of insect can be said to be studying cryptozoology.

Therefore, in conclusion, if cryptozoology is practiced in a purely scientific manner, then it is definitely a valid science, and not a pseudoscience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is Skepticism?

Skepticism means doubt, and it is one of the most important parts of the scientific method. However, most people are confused about what a skeptic really is, so I will now explain it in further detail.

A skeptic is somebody who examines something by asking questions and being curious. In other words, a skeptic is pretty much the same thing as a scientist.

I consider myself an open-minded skeptic, and so do many other cryptozoologists. However, what many people may be surprised to learn is that being a skeptic does not mean that you just automatically reject every claim that you hear. Indeed, doing so is the very opposite of skepticism! For example, if I tell somebody that I have just had a Bigfoot sighting, and they tell me that I couldn't possibly have seen one, because there is no such thing as Bigfoot, then they are not being skeptical at all. Instead, they are just denying that my sighting ever happened, before even bothering to take a look at my description first!
Indeed, it is my opinion that those people are not really skeptics at all, but are instead true believers, just like those who assert that every black dot on the water is Nessie, or every large furry creature is Bigfoot. They are not true skeptics. Not at all.

On this blog, I will examine any evidence or sightings that I might encounter from a skeptical, but open-minded, point-of-view.

The Scientific Study of Cryptids

If you've read my last post, you're probably wondering how cryptozoologists can approach their research in a more scientific manner. Well, in this post, I will try to explain that in a bit more detail.

First of all, the main problem that I have noticed with how many cryptozoologists conduct their research is the fact that they approach the situation from a biased perspective. In other words, they go out into the field and start searching for evidence to prove the existence of a particular cryptid. Well, that is not quite how real science works. It is my opinion that scientists should definitely try to be as objective and neutral as possible, when they are doing their research out in the field.

For instance, if I travel to Lake Champlain in order to investigate the claims that a large, unknown aquatic animal lives there, I should not try to search only for evidence supporting the existence of Champ. However, at the same time, I also should not try to search only for evidence against the existence of Champ, either. I should examine all of the available evidence, and then draw a conclusion based on my research, rather than on whatever pre-conceived notions I might have had before I arrived at the lake.

However, to be fair, it is not only the cryptozoologists who are guilty of conducting biased research. A lot of times, it is the debunkers who are not using the scientific method. I have often encountered people who automatically assert that a certain cryptid cannot possibly exist, even though they haven't even bothered to look at any of the evidence before drawing their conclusion.

In my opinion, both the true believers and the debunkers are guilty of not using the scientific method properly, in this case. When a good cryptozoologist goes out into the field, he/she should not arrive there with pre-conceived notions about the topic at hand. Instead, they should come there with an objective and open-minded attitude, and a willingness to discover new things.

What is Cryptozoology?

Cryptozoology is, simply put, the search for new species. More specifically, it is the study of creatures known as cryptids. A cryptid is a creature which might possibly exist, and which many people claim to have seen, but whose existence is not yet recognized by the majority of the scientific community.

The 3 most well-known cryptids among the general public are the Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster. However, in reality, there are many more cryptids that are not as well-known as those three. A few examples include the Ogopogo, Champ, Yeren, Yowie, Orang Pendek, Milne, and the Dobhar-Chu. In addition to these, there are undoubtedly hundreds of more cryptids all around the world, just waiting to be discovered.

Cryptozoology is currently not an accepted branch of zoology, or a widely-recognized discipline of science. Indeed, many scientists think of it as being a pseudoscience, because they say that cryptozoologists do not use the scientific method. And, to to tell you the truth, I have to admit that those scientists are actually sort of right. You see, I think most cryptozoologists do not use the scientific method correctly. However, I know several that do.

The main reason why I started this blog is to spread the popularity of cryptozoology, in order for it to - hopefully- become more accepted by mainstream science one day. In other words, in this blog, I aim to show how cryptids can be studied correctly, by strictly adhering to the scientific method.

I will be writing more on this in the near future, so stay tuned! :-)