Photo Credit: The Sports Physio

Error In The Air

On a seemingly ordinary day in 1933, a woman named Aldie McKay was returning from a road trip with her husband in Inverness, Scotland. Driving through the woods, she saw a large hump coming out of a nearby lake. Mrs. McKay urged her husband to get a closer look, but when they glanced back at the lake, the creature was gone. Scary thoughts plagued Mrs. McKay, and she told others about her story. The news spread around and was eventually written about in the Inverness Courier by a man named Alex Campbell, who applied the word monster to Mrs. McKay’s story. This journalist’s interpretation has since exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. People have tried to confirm Mrs. McKay’s sighting for decades, which shows that human beings have cognitive fallacies that can stray them from reality. People believe there is no harm in chasing the unknown, but these errors can distract people from what is important and can have an adverse effect on their lives. Mrs. McKay’s sighting is an example of one of the many errors in thinking that weigh down one’s ability to perceive the truth.

The first error in thinking that many people struggle with is the argument from ignorance. For example, people claim that an unidentified object in the sky is a sign of aliens. This claim is invalid because, without more investigation, one cannot determine the truth of the object. It could be anything else, such as a bird or plane, without any physical evidence the situation involves aliens. Another example of an argument from ignorance is when someone claims a mysterious furry being they have found is Bigfoot. Usually, the photos used for proof are very grainy and show no evidence of it being a particular creature. It is easy for people to dress up in a furry costume or create a model that is somewhat Bigfoot-like. A third example of an argument from ignorance is blaming ghosts for strange occurrences. People have said that a spirit or invisible being moved their chair and made them fall, but there is often not any physical evidence that shows that it wasn’t just an accident of some kind. One should find valid evidence before stating that they have witnessed one of these mythical creatures.

Another error in thinking that can weigh people down is the need to confirm what they already believe to be true. First of all, people have wanted the Loch Ness Monster to be real for ages, so they use weak evidence to back up their claims of finding the creature. Since they are purposefully trying to find its existence, they will use many methods of deceit to get people to believe them, such as making a plastic figure and distorting a picture of it in the water. Also, many people want to be the first to find Bigfoot. Because of this, people could easily use Photoshop or build a funny suit to trick people that they found the monster. Searchers also tend to expect every eerie sound or shadow in the woods belongs to Bigfoot. Additionally, Ouija boards can be interesting, so people desire that they function in the way that legend says they do. Often, ouija boards will work because people physically and mentally wish it to be so; however, their subconscious is what moves the board. The friends using the board will then jump to a conclusion that they had already expected. These examples all show that seeking to confirm a claim allows people to compromise their evidence.

Photo Credit: Crystalinks

A final error in thinking that causes trouble for people is not understanding the role of chance and coincidence in life. For example, conspirators say that when a plane hijacked by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, it specifically planned to hit a small section on the side of the building. Skeptics claimed that this was the right spot that the government would hit would kill fewer people. People say the government staged the attacks and purposefully did less damage to avoiding hurting workers, but it was just a coincidence that the plane crashed into this wing of the building. The people on the plane were distracting the hijackers, so it was nearly impossible to hit an exact target. Another example of people not appreciating chance and coincidence is the idea of acupuncture resolving pain. People believe that after a doctor sticks needles into different parts of their body after a while will heal them after a week or so. Often, the individuals who had received these procedures felt better a few days after. There is no basis to these claims though because pain and minor illness often resolve anyway, so these people are just falsely attributing the acupuncture to them feeling better. A third example of this logical error is how strange events happen during the use of Ouija boards. People are often nervous due to what they have heard about Ouija boards, so even natural or everyday sounds will frighten them as they play. Their hands might shake and move the board as well, so they cannot validly claim that spirits or other beings are affecting it. Many people don’t realize that not every occurrence happens for a specific reason; most events are merely coincidental.

What these three logical errors have in common is that they are all excuses to ignore legitimate scientific evidence. They are a result of humans trying to find purpose in spending their time chasing unknowns. People have hope to accomplish something of significance to feel better about themselves, so they rely on frivolous claims and compromised evidence to get a positive result. At first, people may get a sense of achievement from this undertaking, but it will go away quickly because there is no substance to their so-called findings. Moving forward, people should attempt at putting greater effort to find relevant claims and back them up with facts found using hard work and dedication. Trying to prove an enormous sea creature exists in a lake in Scotland is the least of humankind’s worries, yet people search endlessly for answers. However, the cure for cancer has still not been found. If all of these conspirators spent their time on cancer research, maybe the human race finally would amount to something truly life-changing.

Photo Credit: National Geographic
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