Baloney
Detection

One of Carl Sagan’s more famous contributions to modern skepticism is his “Baloney Detection Kit,” a basic guide for those who make extraordinary claims, and for those who intend to shoot such claims down.

My extraordinary claim is that I discovered an extraterrestrial signal in the Old Testament. Is there baloney there? Let’s find out. Following are all the points in Carl’s Baloney Detection Kit, and, in defense of my claim, my response to each:

  • "Whenever possible, there must be independent confirmation of the facts."

My response:

Here is a fact: The Sagan Signal is 46 triadic sequences scattered throughout the Old Testament that share a deep and complex symmetry. No one, I repeat, no one, not skeptics, not Bible scholars, not literary experts, not space scientists – no one disputes this objective and quantifiable reality. There is not only independent confirmation, that confirmation is universal and unanimous.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view."

My response:

Beginning in 2006, I began reaching out to world class experts, notifying them of my discovery of the Sagan Signal and requesting critical feedback. On a few occasions I was able to engender a substantive debate, for which I remain deeply appreciative. But unfortunately, in many instances, the individuals I contacted either never got back to me, or, if they did, replied with such dismissive and condescending remarks as “That’s bullshit,” and “Go to hell.”

Always the optimist, I continue to this day to reach out to highly educated and respected people for critical analysis. More often than not, I don’t hear back, a response that I consider a back-door verification because, after privately appraising the evidence, they realized that they had no rebuttal.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Arguments from authority carry little weight – “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts."

My response:

The Sagan Signal is a code, so I’ve contacted code experts. It’s in the Old Testament, so I’ve contacted Bible scholars. It’s extraordinary, so I’ve contacted skeptics. It has to do with extraterrestrials, so I’ve contacted SETI scientists. It has to do with literature, so I’ve contacted literary experts. It has to do with probability, so I’ve contacted mathematicians. It has to do with God, so I’ve contacted atheists and believers. Through my book and websites, I’ve reached out to thousands people all over the world. I even offer a monetary prize to anyone who can scientifically debunk my claim, a reward that has gone unclaimed. If anyone knows someone who they think can falsify my claim, send me their name and contact info and I’ll get in touch with them.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways that it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy."

My response:

At the beginning of the vetting process, there were at least a dozen different ways that might have potentially explained the Sagan Signal without resorting to ETI. Each was considered, some by multiple experts, and often from nuanced perspectives. Over time, what started out as promising explanations began dropping like flies. For example, no skeptic today cites statistical probability or algorithmic manipulation as credible explanations. At the present time, I am unchallenged. No one is advancing or defending any alternative solutions.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will."

My response:

The hypothesis I am advocating is not the hypothesis I favored when I began the vetting process. I started out believing that the Sagan Signal was a God inspired encryption that scientifically corroborated His existence and the divine authority of Scripture. My experience at Western Seminary turned me into an atheist. I now believe that the Sagan Signal was encrypted by extraterrestrials.

I have tried to find reasons to reject my current position, and been open to the possibility that others might succeed where I have failed. Many have tried, but no one, at least to this point, has been able to debunk my claim.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quality attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging."

My response:

The Sagan Signal is objective and quantifiable. The data is subject to cryptanalysis and has passed every code identification test applied to it. Everyone agrees that the Sagan Signal is direct physical evidence of extraterrestrial intervention. There are no fuzzy ambiguities, no smoke and mirrors.

Conclusion: No baloney. 

  • "If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) – not just most of them."

My response:

 The axiomatic links in my chain of argument are:

  1. There are technologically advanced and long-lived extraterrestrial societies in our galaxy.

  2. Such societies have developed interstellar spaceflight capabilities and are exploring and colonizing our galaxy.

  3. Some of them have been to Earth and interacted with humans in historical times.

  4. They had the ability to remotely prompt the human authors of the Old Testament to unwittingly encrypt a code into their sacred literature, to be discovered at a later time.

  5. The Sagan Signal is that code.

The A-C links outline Carl Sagan’s research article: Direct Contact among Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight. Link D is recognition that extraterrestrials millions or even billions of years more advanced than us would have technologies that we would consider miraculous. Link E is discovery. Every link in the chain works, without exception.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler."

My response:

As of this writing, there are no competing hypotheses to explain the data equally well that have been advanced. The Sagan Signal claim is not just the simplest explanation on the table, it’s the only explanation on the table.

Conclusion: No baloney.

  • "Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle – an electron, say – in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same results."

My response:

No skeptic has ever charged that the Sagan Signal is untestable or unfalsifiable. It is direct physical evidence, easily replicated, that is open to critical inquiry. Had the Sagan Signal been unfalsifiable, the Center for Inquiry would never have accepted it for investigation.

For over a decade, “inveterate” skeptics have had the chance to follow my reasoning, and, if they disagreed, to propose their own solution. They have had the opportunity to duplicate my experiments and the experiments of other skeptics, and, if conceived, to conduct their own. Without exception, every would-be debunker has come to the same conclusion: the Sagan Signal is real.

Conclusion: No baloney.

So, where’s the baloney? There is none! If you think you’ve found some, even a little scrap, please let me know and I’ll post it, along with your name, on this website.

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