Sunday, March 11, 2018
Rut’s Rules for Responsibly Reasoning Rational Rhetoric: W5x5+WHICH
Rut’s Rules for Responsibly Reasoning Rational Rhetoric
In ufology, as in other fields of study, claims are often made that some individuals embrace immediately without question, and some reject out of hand. This can come down to a critical assessment by an outside and disinterested party, or an accumulation of evidence that either overwhelmingly supports or refutes the claims.
In order to disarm skeptics or debunkers, it’s important to critically examine a claim to test its soundness. Is a claim really as good as advertised? Whether the claim is that the Earth is flat or that “we never went to the Moon,” we need a general guide when considering something that has been presented as fact. It’s a way to look at “fake news.”
My version is called W5x5WHICH, and it’s based on the basic rule of thumb for reporters and journalists, who when confronted by a story lead, ask W5: Who? What? When? Where? And Why? Even at this level, if any one of the questions cannot be answered with some rigour, the story lead is undermined. For example, if the response to: “When did this happen?” is: “Sometime in 2015,” then there might be some concern about an indeterminate date. Similarly, if the question: “Where did this happen?” is answered with: “Somewhere along the east coast,” the imprecise location may betray some kind of obfuscation.
W5 is a good basis, but I have expanded it to include subsets within each one, then added additional questions that can lead to a better understanding of the issue.
This is adapted from lessons learned through deconstruction and poststructural discourse in the manner of Derrida and Foucault, so that asking “Who is speaking?” allows us to gain insight into the nature of a given statement.
Finally, it should be noted that simply asking questions about a claim is not what is known as debunking. In ufology, the latter is when a claim is considered “bunk” without a detailed examination of evidence for the claim or allowing due process of examination through investigation. Asking questions is how we begin to understand.
…is making a claim? (i.e. Who is speaking?)
…is/are the witness(es)?
…has the information?
…has looked at this evidence already?
…has promoted this claim?
…is the claim?
…are the facts?
…is objective in this instance?
…is subjective about this claim?
…exactly do we know for sure?
…did this occur? (date)
…did this occur? (time)
…was this first presented to the public?
…will more details be made available?
…will this be published in a peer-reviewed journal?
…did this take place?
…was the witness at the time?
…are supporting witnesses?
…can this evidence be examined by an outside reviewer?
…is this information stored?
…is this claimed to be an anomaly?
…is this not a mundane object?
…should this claim be believed?
…should this claim be rejected?
…is this being presented now?
…is the best explanation for the anomaly?
…is a poor explanation for the anomaly?
…do we know the evidence is good?
…do we know the witness is reliable?
…there competing or alternate explanations for the anomaly?
…there complete provenance for any evidence presented?
…the witness(es) be mistaken?
…the witness(es) be fabricating the story?
…is being demanded for accessing the evidence?
…is required to independently assess the claim?