Skepticism is easy


A creationist dared me to explain this.

cityofgiants

It’s part of a story that claims there were giants in those days, and they were living in a citadel at the end of a mile-long tunnel in the Grand Canyon.

According to an article published in The Arizona Gazette on April 5, 1909, the Grand Canyon was once home to civilization that most likely consisted of individuals of cyclopean proportions. If such a civilization ever lived, surely it would have left behind some structure as a testament of its existence.

OK, challenge accepted.

It took about 10 seconds: Google image search reveals the source of the picture: it’s from the Ningwu Ice Caves in China. Go ahead, check it out. You will be amazed that the paranormal site didn’t even bother with any tricky photoshop work. I didn’t try checking the provenance of the other images scattered through the stupid article, but I suspect they wouldn’t be hard to find.

More well-known tourist attractions here include the Yungang Caves, filled with more than 50,000 Buddhist sculptures and carvings.

Now explain this: skepticism is easy. When absurd claims are made, it’s trivial to either reject them because proponents fail to provide credible evidence for them, or they provide ‘evidence’ that is clearly fake.

So what’s wrong with these gullible people that they so readily accept nonsense?

Comments

  1. Rich Woods says

    So what’s wrong with these gullible people that they so readily accept nonsense?

    A lifetime of indoctrination.

  2. tbtabby says

    It’s because they WANT to believe it. Logical fallacies are always rooted in bias.

  3. hillaryrettig says

    For the answer to your question, I will plug again: Mistakes Were Made by Aronson and Tavris. Fantastic book. Plus Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, which is available free on his site.

    Don’t the creationists have it in for the Grand Canyon in particular, b/c geologically it shows up their obvious lies? And haven’t they somewhat infiltrated the Parks Service? I remember (infuriatingly) seeing creationist / religious books in Parks Service bookstore (at the Grand Canyon in particular). Also, I’ve heard some park rangers at other parks give talks where they allude to god. And – oh yeah – diss the federal govt that pays their salary. Leaving aside the despicableness of it all, it’s example one million of right wing lack of self-awareness and critical thinking.

  4. Johnny Vector says

    No need to search the image; just look at it. At the end of a mile-long tunnel, we find direct sunlight illuminating a statue of Siddhartha in the classic “turning the wheel of the law” pose. In the Grand Canyon. What are you even trying to say?

    Might as well tell me you just levitated from rim to rim. It’s so stupid it doesn’t even make an entertaining magic trick.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    extrapolating from this “question”: I’ll assume they also ask about the giant lions that were the model of the lifesize Sphinx statue (in 1:1 scale!!!) in front of those big triangle thingies in Egypt (that was transported from the Grand Canyon, obviously). ummm the Sphinx statue was transported, the triangle thingies were built by those people Moses rescued from slave labor.
    *ahem*
    as for making up stories around random photos, talk to that guy on the Ancient Aliens program (on History Channel). He’s pretty good at looking at any random mystery and solving it instantly with a single statement, “Not saying it was ETs. But it was ALIENS.” (with all kinds of wiggle words, such as, ‘not saying the people were stupid, but this is too sophisticated even for modern technology, Who but aliens could have helped them do it?”) notice every statement ends with a question mark, hmmm, I sense the inspiration for Mr. Comma.

  6. says

    To you and I, fact checking means verifying statements by using reliable sources.

    To creationists, “fact checking” means controlling and preventing statements from being checked or challenged.

    Creationists are so used to swallowing what they’re told without question that they assume everyone does. And they’re both surprised and upset when we don’t.

    “Argument from authority” can be better described as argument from asshattery.

  7. borax says

    Nope. The Grand Canyon is proof of a world wide flood. First the flood caused all of those sedimentary layers and then the massive flooding eroded those layers into the Grand Canyon. Check and mate geologists. The giants moved in a week later. Or were there before before the flood but covered then revealed by the deluge. I forget which.

  8. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @6:
    I see you’re playing with reminding us of the dual meaning of the word “check”. As in “verify”, our usual take. There is also “check” as in “stop”, as in hockey, a hipcheck is using one’s hip to block the opposing player.
    Leading to: “fact checking” has the usual sense of “verifying facts”, or comparing assertions to facts; that creonurds use “fact checking” in the sense of “stop facts from contradicting my assertions”, or “don’t look at facts, accept my assertions, do not compare them to facts“.

  9. Larry says

    The tunnel in canyon’s redwall shown in the linked article is named Stanton’s Cave after a railroad surveyor from the 19th century who was attempting to find a way through the canyon for a railway line. The cave is a natural formation, caused by the dissolving of the limestone rock by water. They appear all through the canyon, some dry, some currently with flowing water. While giant buddha statues weren’t found in the cave, 4000-year old artifacts from early inhabitants of the canyon were. Even earlier remains of eagles and goats were also discovered dating back 10000 years.

  10. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Larry wrote: “… dating back 10000 [ ten thousand ] years.”
    The response (from creonurds {lookin at Ham}) , I’m sure, will be, “your dating is wrong, The whole world is no more then 6 thousand years old so ten thousand is surely a mistake. Your dating methods are so wrong, their results are impossible; how can you yourself not see how wrong it is? Who’s payroll are you on to say such lies?”

    sheesh, this is just too much fun, to keep mocking these kinds of attitudes…

  11. Artor says

    It “helps” that a lot of conspiracy theorists are too ignorant about the world to have the information that would easily debunk their bullshit. Like the fact that’s obviously a statue of the Buddha. And that sunlight won’t penetrate to the back of a mile-long tunnel. Also contributing is the interconnected network of conspiracies. Creationists want to believe that the Grand Canyon is a relatively new formation, and have lots of poorly-reasoned screeds toward that point. Adding another “suppressed bit of real history” will appeal to more dupes.

  12. hillaryrettig says

    borax – that’s what I was thinking of! they are coopting the grand canyon. thanks.

  13. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    that site linked in the OP, seems to conclude that it is “just a story”. So I wonder: who posed the challenge to answer this “story”? After reading this “story”, it seems appropriate to question the poser as to why he supports this “mystery” that the Smithsonian is so dedicated to concealing.
    I ask for the identity, not to mock, but try to inform that reality doesn’t always conform to fantastical imaginings. maybe that’s the purpose of this thread, so, never mind.

  14. wcorvi says

    When asked how I could explain some total nonsense presented, I now retort, “You just made it up!” I guess they never got that answer before, as they just sputter. But since they just made it up, they have little defence.

  15. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    oh. I read the title of this thread again. The creationist asked PZ to explain this. oh, not because he thinks it is a true fact supporting his creationurd beliefs, but as a TEST of rational thought at how well “rationals” can explain mysteries (to learn how wrong rationality can be, cuz he already knows the true story, how everybody is wrong, with their “interpretations”)

  16. says

    So what’s wrong with these gullible people that they so readily accept nonsense?
    They don’t follow Potholer54

  17. Nemo says

    I think the article makes it clear that the picture isn’t from the Grand Canyon, but is merely meant to be illustrative of what the story — which they also don’t present as fact — talks about. So what we have here is a very inattentive reader, apparently. There’s nothing there to “explain”.

  18. karpad says

    Nemo, they very much do present it as fact. “Was it all a hoax or is there something more sinister responsible for the silence?” is not an admission that it is a hoax. It’s implying the absence of evidence is proof of the “more sinister” element. “Due to an acute absence of evidence, it seems that for the moment, the story of an underground city of giants is just that – a story.” is not an admission that it is a story, but a lament that, until more evidence arises, it will be regarded as such (with the implication that more evidence exists)

    Also, outside of comments, I’m not finding any admission of the actual sources of those photos, and they specifically claim that these things “originated elsewhere in the world” and that they were brought there.

    But by all means, condemn the reading comprehension of others.

  19. Trebuchet says

    @20: The Grand Coulee is grand too. And unlike the Grand Canyon, it actually was washed out pretty quickly, geologically speaking.

  20. robinjohnson says

    I don’t want to panic you, dude, but have you seen a picture of New York lately? There are some *huge* giant people living there, if their statue is anything to go by.

  21. Amphiox says

    Part and parcel of that gullibility is a insular refusal to acknowledge or learn about other cultures and peoples. Otherwise the Buddhist style of the carving would have been instantly recognizable, and the extensive Buddhist tradition of giant statuary carvings in caves would have been familiar, and they would have known instantly what that photo was, without needing to even search it at all.

  22. woozy says

    The article never actually claimed these photos were of the supposed underground city. In fact the article says no-one has been to the city since 1909 so, obviously, these photos are not of the underground city. The is the modern style of peppering articles with third party images that somehow are supposed to reflect the impression of the article. Which drives me nuts because it makes absolutely no sense.

    Anyhow, the “explain this” would be simply to explain that there was an article from the April 5, 1909 Arizona Gazette describing this find. Well very little to explain: Either 1) there wasn’t such an article or 2) there was such an article. Easy to resolve with a call to a local library, but not a particularly important or interesting issue.

  23. Menyambal says

    The article doesn’t say that the images are of the city, or even that they relate to the story. It just says there was an old newspaper article, and that the Smithsonian denied knowing anything – both of which seem good evidence for the city, according to some folks.

    That image of an opening in a cliff doesn’t fit the description of one hidden from the river by a shelf. And, if you notice, the river is green – so it was taken after the Colorado was dammed, and all the red sediments settled out (for what that is worth in the noticing-things line).

    So finding the source of the lovely statue photo isn’t really disproving anything. But it sounds like some folks would read the article and assume the pictures were proof.

  24. woozy says

    It just says there was an old newspaper article,

    I actually doubt that there was such an article, but it’s not impossible that there was.

    and that the Smithsonian denied knowing anything

    I doubt that the Smithsonian was ever asked.

    And, if you notice, the river is green – so it was taken after the Colorado was dammed, and all the red sediments settled out (for what that is worth in the noticing-things line).

    Not to mention the photograph is in color. And taken with high aperture/fast shutter speed. And with an elevated platform support. And….

    So finding the source of the lovely statue photo isn’t really disproving anything.

    The only thing to disprove is whether or not there was an article. There probably wasn’t but if there were, it merely means some newspaper published some claim by some guy.

    I kind of like the claim about armed soldiers guarding 24/7. Never seen armed guards in the Grand Canyon myself…

  25. unclefrogy says

    wcorvi
    you just made that up!
    finally a come back that makes sense, is simple and changes the direction of the argument away from disputing their “facts” as given toward proving what they say or just stopping an argument before it really gets bogged down. Thanks for that I will use it often in the future.
    uncle frogy

  26. sodhner says

    As a teenager I heard about this article and, since I live in Phoenix, was able to go to the library and check if it was legit. I dug through the microfilm (or maybe microfiche) archives and found one short snippet mentioning the expedition was planned, and one article detailing what they found. I still have copies I printed out. Obviously the article being a real thing doesn’t make it true, but it DOES make it way more interesting to me. I wish I could go back and find out how this made it into the paper… a prank with someone deliberately tricking them? The paper itself, trying to increase sales? Something else?

  27. Georgia Sam says

    I agree with RichWoods (1) & tbtabby (2). I believe religion trains people to be (more) gullible. They must start with some measure of gullibility to buy into the religion in the first place, but their religious experiences strengthen it & hone it to a fine edge. That’s why financial scammers often target congregations of devout believers. It also explains phenomena such as Creflo Dollar. (Um, are those last two sentences redundant?)

  28. coffeehound says

    robinjohnson @ 23,

    I don’t want to panic you, dude, but have you seen a picture of New York lately? There are some *huge* giant people living there, if their statue is anything to go by.

    This. I have it on good authority there’s evidence that they had 500 foot tall penises based on some structures found in the Washington D.C. area……I guess they would be IDK, like tripod giants, but HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT skeptics?!

  29. ck, the Irate Lump says

    woozy wrote:

    The article never actually claimed these photos were of the supposed underground city. In fact the article says no-one has been to the city since 1909 so, obviously, these photos are not of the underground city. The is the modern style of peppering articles with third party images that somehow are supposed to reflect the impression of the article.

    Well, if that’s actually their intent (which I don’t think is a given), they’re doing it wrong. The correct way of doing something like that is to leave image attributions on or next to the images so people know where they’re from and don’t get false ideas about them. The fact there is no information on where these images came from leads me to think they actually wanted to make people believe their little story.

  30. F.O. says

    Skepticism’s easy. If it’s a woman, don’t believe her.

    I don’t think skepticism is any easy, PZ.
    In this specific example, you are completely right: one wonders why someone is so eager to believe something that they don’t even bother.

    On the other hand, it’s just too easy to be selectively skeptical. In order to do that one must be willing to be skeptical of themselves first and foremost, and this takes heaps of effort and introspection and can be stressful and still give poor results.
    I’m committed to do this regardless, but I understand why many don’t.

  31. Lofty says

    coffeehound

    I have it on good authority there’s evidence that they had 500 foot tall penises based on some structures found in the Washington D.C. area……

    Not that phallusy again…

  32. trollofreason says

    Literal thought in the first 5 seconds of seeing the picture in the context of this blog’s title: “That’s a Bhudda, and that is the wrong kind of stone for the Grand Canyon.” Jesus, it’s like Creationists aren’t culturally or geologically informed or something.

  33. weatherwax says

    Why do the Creationists keep insisting giants built that city, when it was clearly built by Derro?

  34. gijoel says

    Clearly Satan moved that statue to China to test our faith in god. You failed Professor Poopyhead, you failed.

  35. Jeff W says

    That is not a picture of the Ningwu Ice Caves!

    That is one of the caves at Yungang , specifically Cave #3. (I’ve been there—here’s one of my photos of that very statue.)

    The Yungang Grottoes are about 16 km west of Datong, Shanxi. The Ningwu Ice Caves—which look like this—are located near Xinzhou (200 km from Datong) and are over 175 km away from the Yungang Caves.

    “So what’s wrong with these gullible people that they so readily accept nonsense?”

  36. rq says

    Clearly Satan moved that statue to China to test our faith in god.

    Floated over during the Big Flood.

  37. freetotebag says

    I find it interesting that the giants chose to display the classic “Hey, uh…someone’s in here!” pose as the entrance to their tunnel.

    But even if the story of these giants turns out to be a hoax, I challenge any evolutionist to explain the race of tiny humanoids that once lived. I have over a hundred examples that prove their existence beyond any reasonable doubt. While they had mostly human features, the artifacts prove that they stood only 3.75″ in height. My favorite was Boba Fett.

  38. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    The old rule is once again proved true: “The answer to any headline or caption which ends in a question mark is always “no”.”

  39. shadow says

    @7 left0ver1under:

    To creationists, “fact checking” means controlling and preventing statements from being checked or challenged.

    Like body checking in hockey?