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SEPTIC SCEPTICS - 10/02/2002

PETER GARRATT tells of an encounter with ‘The Skeptic’ magazine…

Re. recent 'debunking' on National Geographic and other shows, I would like to mention an encounter I had with the sceptical world.

A few years ago I met some of the people behind ‘The Skeptic’ magazine at a small press fair. I mentioned that I was writing a novel about crop circles, but had no personal view as to what caused them. The topic of hoaxes came up and they clearly indicated their view that all circles were hoaxes, adding there were people present that day who had made circles.

I decided to take a sub to the magazine. I am neither a sceptic nor the opposite - call me an agnostic. After a while, I took exception to an article on circles which consisted mainly of abuse directed at the author's universal hoax theory. I wrote to the editor asking him to try a simple experiment. I suggested that 'The Skeptic' publish an appeal for a moratorium on hoaxing at the start of the next 'season'. If the theory that all circles are hoaxes, mostly oriented to scepticism/debunking were correct, a sharp fall in the number of circles would be predicted.

In my naivety, I was surprised that this letter was neither published nor acknowledged by the editors. I therefore sent them a copy with my next sub, saying it might be the last unless they published my letter or told me why not. In fact I received no reply, although my cheque was cashed and monthly issues arrived until the sub lapsed. No, I didn't renew it again.

I therefore reached the conclusion that though moderate sceptics may be right about many things, Sceptic Fundamentalists have less interest in a scientific test of their own hypotheses than they want us to believe.



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