When Scientists Don’t Believe Eye witness Testimony

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February 16, 2014 by kittynh

The Bigfoot communities often become quite angry when skeptics point out there is no real evidence for the existence of Bigfoot.  The same goes for the UFO/alien community.  Proof is demanded by science.  However, believers point out there is plenty of proof. They point out the eye witness testimony of thousands of people that over the years that have seen a Bigfoot or UFO.

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science is not decided by a jury

Believers point out that eye witness testimony is accepted in courts of law, even when the life of a defendant is at stake.  (Confusing I know!)

Science though does not just reject eye witness accounts.  Science considers eye witness accounts along side other proof; it just can’t stand alone.

Science can also reject eye witness accounts, sometimes too readily.  It’s very difficult to convince some skeptics of anything you have seen that is out of the ordinary.   I found this out when Travis Roy and I saw a “Chupacabra“.  We never for a moment believed it WAS a chupacabra.  But endless skeptics told us we HAD seen a deer.  (No not a deer).  We had seen a dog. (No)  We had not seen it hopping.  (Yes it had hopped).  It was a great lesson for two skeptics on what it’s like for anyone that has seen something they don’t understand to deal with skeptics.  It can be quite frustrating because people would tell us what we had NOT seen, or what we HAD, but not really listen to us.

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Many things live in the wild, that also like to cross roads.

The book, “Storm Kings” ,by Lee Sandlin, brings up a case where science firmly rejected eye witness testimony.

James Epsy was as close to a professional meteorologist as existed in 1835.  He was interested in tornadoes.  His friend Professor Alexander Bache was also interested in the study of this little known weather phenomenon.  A tornado had touched down in New Jersey, near the town of New Brunswick, and Epsy and Bache came to look at the trail of the tornado.

Epsy had his theory. It was that the winds in a tornado moved upward in the funnel.  Everywhere he looked, he found proof for his theory.  Bache found himself disagreeing.  To him it seemed not that the winds had moved trees, laundry, homes and even a young victim upward and then down, but the debris seemed to suggest something else.  Bache saw a spiral pattern in the debris.

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first photograph of a tornado, sadly as heavily retouched as many photographs of Bigfoot, aliens and ghosts.

There was also another problem, the eye witnesses. Most tornadoes were in very rural remote areas. This tornado had many eye witnesses as it was in a populated area.  They all agreed; the tornado had spun in a circular pattern.  In fact, the few previous descriptions of tornadoes had also mentioned the tornado rotated in a circular pattern.  Epsy, a true skeptic, did not believe in eye witness testimony and rejected the numerous witnesses.  Obviously a tornado is only seen for a short amount of time, and Epsy believed that the witnesses would be in a confused state.  His science, which he felt proved the upward pattern, had to be correct.

Epsy was so convincing, and also so tied to his theory, that he convinced Bache to change his mind about the circular rotation and agree with Epsy’s upward pattern belief.  Epsy was looking for proof of his theory, which to him was fact, rather than being open minded enough to view the debris evidence  with an open mind.

Science is self correcting, and no one today believes that tornadoes do not spin.  Eye witness testimony was correct in this case.  The reason we know tornadoes spin though is that they do spin.  Any number of scientists could claim they don’t, but one film of a tornado would convince them otherwise.

Scientists have been known to ignore evidence to keep a pet theory alive, but eventually new evidence pops up to disprove it.  Claims that scientists are suppressing evidence of Bigfoot or aliens because it would “upset their beliefs” are wrong.  What is needed is other kinds of evidence to back up eye witness testimony.

The UFO community is sadly awaiting new evidence.  Old cases are brought up again and again as the “best evidence.”  Also the Loch Ness Monster hasn’t put in an appearance in a long time.  What is needed is something besides eye witness testimony and perhaps scientists and skeptics that are a little more tactful to eye witnesses!  You never know; they could in the end be proven right.

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4 thoughts on “When Scientists Don’t Believe Eye witness Testimony

  1. Geek Goddess says:

    Nice history post, Kitty!

  2. jeffwagg says:

    Believing is seeing.

  3. goslant says:

    intended my comment to other story to go here.

    I do not think aliens are abducting humans. Humans and their programmed life forms resembling aliens are though. Laugh as you please. I`ll have the last laugh.

  4. Michael B (Birmingham England) says:

    Oh the joys of being a skeptic. Enabling oneself to call any person who recounts a witness experience of something they describe as Bigfoot, a liar. Skeptics, in my view, are overly skeptical – because they follow Carl Sagan’s statement, that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs’ and they use it as a club to beat down any particle of possible truth, that can be found in such witness accounts.

    This is foolishness in the extreme. It’s a denial of humanity, on a scale that amounts to abuse!
    It’s not that those who witness to their encounters with an unknown animal, like Bigfoot, expect to be believed merely on their verbal statements. Most humans even of average intelligence realise that for anyone else to believe what they saw, or experienced, there has to be more. But…and it’s a massive but; the fine critical thinking espoused by skeptics and scientists alike, then does something very stupid. The ‘critical thinking’, amounts only and merely to a denial (That what was experienced, or, as is described) has ANY value whatever!

    Such stupidity is unscientific. It’s not even sensible, in the most basic terms, to use denial as a reason to not look at and interpret and use facets of the witness accounts which can inform actual critical thinking. Thinking is a useful tool. It can lead to many many ‘discoveries’. If you dismiss witness accounts on the basis of a priori assumptions, you programme yourself to a state of mental blindness. This is how critical thinking can blind you to very real corroborative details, that could inform that critical thinking and the research stance taken.

    I’m 78. I’ve taken an interest in science throughout my life. I’ve seen its fashions of thought and conclusions change through time, like the weather. A lot of these fashions of scientific thinking and conclusions, are closely related to suggestion and belief. Though one scientific belief, holds that belief has been eliminated from the scientific view of reality. I beg to diifer!

    For me, the Bigfoot/Sasquatch claim, is a direct challenge to scientific method! It throws it into doubt, when it can deny evidence on the scale that Bigfoot provides. Only a blind science could fail to see significance in the very real evidence it is denying. Adopting a sheild of; ‘critical thinking’ and hiding behind it, may appear to keep you safe from the claim that Bigfoot exists, but I doubt it can ever deny what is real for long. The tragedy is, that skepticism has a negative side which inhibits ‘clear thinking’! Something the witnesses greatly need and which the defensive position of skeptical ‘critical thinking’ will not allow to be used.

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