Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (Jeffrey Kripal)

kripal From Jeffrey Kripal's superb book, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (The University of Chicago Press):

Most discussions of psychical and paranormal phenomena take place in a near total ignorance of the nature, extent, and quality of the ethnographic and empirical data collected over the last two centuries... In 1977, Stanford astrophysicist Peter Sturrock performed a poll of over one thousand members of the American Astronomical Society about UFOs. He discovered that the more they had read, the more likely they were to think that the subject deserved more attention, and, conversely, that the less they had read about the subject, the less they thought about it.

That's why I try to avoid discussions with self-professed skeptics (actually, the better term for them would be pseudoskeptics)—because the vast majority of people in the organized skeptic community have never looked at the data behind things they cavalierly dismiss as "woo." I've had discussions with very smart people who have strong opinions about UFOs, for instance, but who have never read a single book about the subject. They operate from an a priori belief that the UFO phenomenon is bereft of any element of mystery or substance. Sadly, when confronted with the baselessness of their opinions, they shrug it off. When offered pointers to some of the best collections of data, they have no desire to take an objective look. I've even offered to mail books—paying for the shipping myself—and no one has ever taken me up on the offer. For all of their derisive comments about "true believers," they are, in fact, as much true believers as gullible new agers they ridicule.