In ancient times, unexplored regions on maps
would often be given fearsome legends like “Here Be Dragons”. Unknowns were frightening,
and it gave some comfort to at least be
able to label the unknown. Hypothesized dragons seemed
a good enough explanation for what would otherwise be ungraspable. With a made-up concept and a few words, the unknown becomes
simple and satisfying. Those ancient cartographers
would have felt quite at home today. De facto practice among most people is
still to give satisfying labels to quantify and conveniently package the
unknown. When faced with a phenomenon for which one does not personally know
a rational explanation, like… dreaming of your uncle the night before he dies, it’s much easier to accept a simple explanation like “psychic connection” than to grasp the complexities
of cognitive phenomena, confirmation bias, and
the law of large numbers. Here Be Dragons is so much easier. The vast majority of the population accepts dragons – or
their logical equivalents – as natural components of
our world that should be taken for granted. Let’s have a look at some modern-day dragons. There is something to be said for listening to the body, as opposed to sort of imposing medical information on what you
expect the body to do. I do believe in ghosts. I would go see them for all the way from a cold to a cancer. I mean, I believe I really believe in healing, other than our conventional medicine that we have here. 9/11 I think was an attack on our own people,
by our own government. I’m a really superstitious person, and I do believe in not
stepping on the cracks and if a black cat runs in front of your car I will stop and turn
around and go the other way. A great deal of research goes into the development of many pharmaceuticals and I think the primary research they do is how to gain the greatest profits. I think that we have the ability to sort of sense and feel
sort of energy movements… Detox tea… it tastes really good and… …according to the label
it’s supposed to rid your body of impurities and it seems to work, you know? You drink it and your sweat smells terrible. I had Cranosacrial therapy a therapy where the energy from the fingers goes into your
head, around your head. …and I think that organic foods are often grown by people who care about
their bodies and about the Earth. I think that a lot of that is embedded in the food. You can taste it and, in a way, you can sense the love that was put into it. I sort of believe in an additional dimension. Homeopathic medicine is the same as…
it’s a watered down version of a combination of organic foods
and seeking out spiritual truth. My name is Brian Dunning. I have a free weekly audio podcast
on the Internet called Skeptoid, at skeptoid. com, dedicated to
furthering knowledge by exposing the widespread pseudosciences that infect
popular culture. Each week I focus on one topic that you’ve been hearing about in the news: an urban legend, a useless
alternative medicine scheme, a conspiracy theory or whatever the
latest supernatural phenomenon is. But you can only reach so
many people with a podcast, and I believe that this
material is important. So I decided to make this short film
to reach a much broader audience, and provide this general introduction to critical analysis of pop phenomena. Other people have made films to
distribute on the Internet, of course, but more often than not
they’re used to spread paranoid conspiracy theories or
make political statements. And whenever you turn on the television, you find that the science channels have largely turned into paranormal channels, the news reports free energy machines and miraculous crying
statues without critique, and daytime talk programs have devolved into promotions for the latest New Age healing book or
celebrity-endorsed diet. and that’s why I made this film. You’ll often hear me use
the word pseudoscience. A pseudoscience is an
idea that claims to be real but in fact is not supported
by any science or any evidence. Often they’ll use
scientific sounding language to describe how it works. Usually it’s a product that
someone’s making money from. Most complementary and alternative
medical systems are pseudosciences. Psychic powers and
astrology and feng shui and telekinesis are all pseudosciences. People on television who
pretend to detect ghosts using scientific instruments
are practicing pseudoscience. Herbal detoxification is a pseudoscience. Did I just make a whole series of really bold statements? Not really. All I did was point out that these ideas are not
supported by any evidence. They have no rational scientific
hypotheses behind them, and no experimental data
indicating that they work. I’m not the one who
made bold statements. It’s the people promoting
these pseudosciences who need to back up their claims. But they don’t,
and unfortunately they often don’t need to: victims continue
wasting money on worthless frauds. But it’s much more than that. When we invest our
faith in a pseudoscience, without questioning its validity, we’re recreating the medieval Dark Ages. For 500 years, there was essentially no progress in any scientific
field or in human rights. Scientific experimentation,
and thus learning, was often illegal. If we don’t test,
if we don’t experiment, we don’t learn. We don’t progress. Critical thinking is the
single most important driver of the advancement of the human race. The minute we let down our guard and accept absurd pseudoscientific
claims at face value, we’re giving away our
progress back to the dragons. Now, let’s take a few minutes and go through some of
the common warning signs. These are the red flags
that you can watch for that will help you
identify pseudoscience. The Appeal to Authority is the
use of authoritative imagery to lend the appearance of
credibility to a product. Quite often, this means a picture
of someone in a white lab coat. Instant credibility! Other examples of
authority-based marketing gimmicks include celebrity
endorsements, and mentions of certifications, colleges,
academies, and institutes. Good science presents good data. It never needs to resort to hokey
marketing gimmicks to impress you, and is almost never presented with a white lab coat. Beware of any product or idea that is said to be
based on ancient wisdom. In ancient times, very little useful or true information was known about human anatomy
and many other sciences. Since those days, scientists have learned
entire encyclopedias of information about our universe and our bodies. It’s completely illogical and backwards to think that the ancients had a better understanding of anything than modern science. Their hearts were in the right place,
but in ancient times, we simply didn’t yet
have the tools developed over the subsequent
centuries of learning. That’s why ancient wisdom
gave us things like the flat Earth theory, human sacrifice, slavery,
a 30-year average human lifespan, rain dances, the burning of witches, and the medical
technique of bloodletting to rebalance the four
basic bodily humors. But alternative therapies
based on ancient wisdom have stood the test of time, haven’t they? Well, it doesn’t matter
how long a treatment has been around. The only criteria medical science has for a treatment is “Does it work?”. We don’t care whether the ancient Chinese believed it; we only care about the test results. When you hear any product advertised
as being based on ancient wisdom, it’s probably because they have no real evidence to
support their claims. Ancient wisdom should always be a red flag. Confirmation bias is what we call our tendency to remember events that coincide with our beliefs, and don’t take notice events that don’t. This is why you can walk out of
an hour-long session with a psychic who asked 200 questions, made 300 probing guesses, of which maybe 10 were close to meaningful and say “Wow! She knew everything about me!” Many hospital workers think that a full moon means a
crazy night in the ER. They all remember those crazy
nights when there WAS a full moon, thus confirming the belief, but they tend to forget the crazy nights when there wasn’t a full moon. The data shows that
full moon nights are no busier than any other, but we believe the myth because of confirmation bias. Many people will often confuse
correlation with causation. If you happened to take
an herbal supplement around the same time your
cancer went into remission, you’re likely to think
the supplement caused the remission. We confuse correlation with causation. Here’s a valid correlation: People who eat a lot of rice tend to have black hair. I think we can all come up
with perfectly logical reasons why these two things happen to go together. But fortunately, I don’t think too many of us think
one causes the other. Here’s another valid correlation: Autistic children are often diagnosed shortly after receiving
their regular vaccinations. The reason for this correlation is
simply that vaccination age just happens to be about the same age that
autism symptoms become apparent. But many people have wrongly drawn a causal relationship, and look at
all the trouble that’s resulted. Some people are actually preventing their children from getting vaccinated, due to a lack of critical thinking, and irresponsible promotion of alarmism and misinformation by the media. Correlation is not necessarily causation. A red herring is a distraction from following a logical line of evidence. In the old days, if a bloodhound was on your trail, it was believed that dragging a red herring across your path would distract the
bloodhound off your scent. Red herrings, therefore, are irrelevant pieces of information thrown into an argument to distract you from the real
topic. Red herrings are
a favorite of conspiracy theorists. If you listen to the people who try to convince us that September 11 was
perpetrated by our own government, their evidence consists of
virtually nothing but red herrings. Who crashed the planes
into the buildings? “Well, Dick Cheney had business
interests in the middle east.” Maybe so, but
who crashed the planes into the buildings? “Well, the leaseholder had
an insurance policy on the skyscrapers.” Maybe so,
but who crashed the planes into the buildings? “George Bush’s younger brother Marvin was a principal in a
security company, and the World Trade Center was
one of their clients. ” Maybe so,
but who crashed the planes into the buildings? “Brian Dunning visited
the World Trade Center only two years before they collapsed, and isn’t it interesting that he did a podcast episode debunking
9/11 conspiracy claims?” Red herrings. These are irrelevant distractions that do not in any way address
the point under discussion, they merely have the
appearance of relevance because some of the names
or places are the same. Be on the lookout for them. And be the bloodhound that
keeps his nose on the trail; don’t follow the red herring. While we’re on the subject
of conspiracy theorists, let’s talk about their
other favorite device. It’s called “Proof by Verbosity”, and it consists of laying out
huge volumes of information, more claims and allegations
on more subjects about more people and ideas
than anyone could ever possibly respond to. Such a blizzard of information gives the appearance of being
comprehensive and thoroughly researched. “If they have all that
amazing amount of evidence, their claim MUST be true!” But it’s not the quantity
of information that matters, it’s the quality of information. You can stack cowpies as high as you want; they won’t turn into a bar of gold. Pointing out that the evil government fluoridates our water supply does not support the claim
that a particular brand of magically “ionized water” cures cancer. Makes no difference whether it’s true or not,
it’s irrelevant. Piling on red herring after red herring will never amount to useful evidence. Pay attention and soon you’ll run into another claim supported
with Proof By Verbosity. It might be another conspiracy theory, it might be an advertisement for a new type of water with
medicinal properties, it might be an herbal product
claiming to detoxify your body. Look at all the wild claims they make, and take careful note
of how many of them are actually directly relevant,
and specific enough to be testable. Notice how it would be impractical to try and respond individually
to each of these many claims. It’s an endless game of whack-a-mole. The only way to win?
Don’t play. Virtually every pseudoscientific claim
credits some form of “energy”. Life force, chi, negative energy, positive energy, the
body’s energy fields – all meaningless nonsense, which sound plausible
simply because they throw in a scientific
sounding word: Energy. New Age practitioners seem to think that energy is a hovering, glowing cloud that can go wherever it’s needed and from which adepts can draw power and feel rejuvenated
or accomplish healings. Imagine a vaporous creature
from the original Star Trek series, and you’ll have a good idea of what
New Agers think energy is. Energy is a measurement of
something’s ability to perform work. Given this context, when spiritualists talk about
your body’s energy fields, they’re really saying nothing
that’s even remotely meaningful. Here’s a good test.
When you hear the word “energy” used in a spiritual or paranormal sense,
substitute the phrase “measurable work capability”.
Does the usage still make sense? There’s a good reason why you don’t hear medical
doctors or pharmacists talking about energy fields: it’s meaningless. This is usually a really frail excuse for why mainstream scientists don’t take their claim seriously, why the product is not
approved by the FDA, or why scientific journals
won’t publish their articles. You’ll often hear this in the form of a a conspiracy of the medical establishment to suppress a quack cure because it’s in the interest of the
medical industry to keep you sick. In fact, any doctor or
pharmaceutical company that could develop a new cure would make a fortune;
they’d never suppress it. The same goes for auto manufacturers
worldwide who are said to be “suppressing” new efficient engine technologies. As much as some people with
particular ideological agendas would like you to believe it,
science never suppresses good science. As we’ve seen time and time again,
by no definition can “all natural” mean that a product is safe or healthy. I’m standing next to a
gigantic stand of poison oak. Consider other all-natural compounds
like hemlock, mercury, lead, toadstools, box jellyfish neurotoxin, asbestos – not to mention a nearly infinite number of toxic bacteria and viruses – E. coli, salmonella, bubonic plague, smallpox. For those natural compounds
that are not harmful, synthetic versions have been
engineered in many cases to make them even safer, more effective, or able to be produced
in large quantities. All natural?
Often that’s a great thing. Just as often, it’s not. Some claimants suggest
that it’s moral, ethical, or politically correct to accept their claims, to redirect your attention from the fact that they may not be
scientifically sound. In some cases, such as the anti-vaccine or
anti-fluoridation activists, proponents try to use
the court system to force their beliefs to be adopted in place of what we’ve
learned through science. Generally,
when a theory is scientifically sound, even if it’s brand
new it will eventually find its way into the
educational curriculum. Good science is done in the lab –
not in the courts, not in protest marches,
not in blogs, and not on Oprah. A political or cultural campaign
to legalize or promote some product or claim
is a major indicator that it’s bogus. When you learn to
identify these warning signs and many others like them,
this list is certainly not complete, you’ll find that you start
seeing them everywhere. And if you’re having a
conversation with someone who’s trying to convince you to try some herbal therapy or New Age meditation, you can point out these
fallacies in their arguments and it strips them of the
tools they depend on the most. Now that we understand what to look for, let’s try applying these skills to some actual claims out there. But keep in mind that critical thinking must not be just about debunking. There’s no benefit in debunking for its own sake.
Rather, debunking is only necessary when
pseudoscience stands in the way of progress and then, it’s critical! Precognition is where you dream
or imagine or foresee some event that later comes true, when there’s no possible way you could have known about it. One of the stories or precognition
you hear most often is of someone thinking or dreaming about another
person only to find later that that person died at that same moment.
It sounds like proof positive that there must have been some psychic connection. French Physicists Georges Charpak
and Henri Broch made a neat calculation to show that this
is not only possible, it’s inevitable. On average it should happen to
about 1 in every 150 people sometime in their lifetime. Assume that everyone knows
about 10 people who die each year – either family, acquaintances, or mostly celebrities
and famous people – people who might pop into your
thoughts no more than once a year. There are 105,120
five-minute intervals in a year in which each of
those 10 people might die. That gives a 1 in 10,512 chance
that you’ll think about someone during the exact same 5-minute interval in which they happen to die, in any given year. That doesn’t sound
very probable by itself, but consider that there are 300 million people in the United States.
This improbable coincidence must happen to about 28,500 Americans every year. Only a tiny percentage of those get their stories on television or in print,
but it’s enough to convince an uncritical layperson that
precognition and psychic connections must be real. And when you relax
the criteria even slightly – you think or dream about someone,
then next time you talk to them you find that something
unpleasant has happened in their life – the probability goes up exponentially,
by a factor of millions. The mathematics behind this
concept universally apply to all pseudosciences that
depend on extraordinary coincidences for their support. The Law of Large Numbers –
the inevitability of improbable events – proves that the most
bizarre coincidences are merely mathematical certainties. Understand the math,
don’t turn first to paranormal explanations. Next, let’s consider
complementary and alternative medicine. You’d think that with a century of
modern medical science behind us, people would not still be looking
to the ancient state of knowledge when it comes to their health. But, unfortunately, it seems
that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just a tiny sampling of
products and techniques still being sold, still in demand among
21st century Americans, and with no empirical or plausible
hypothetical foundations: Reflexology. Homeopathy.
lonized jewelry. Magnet therapy. Therapeutic touch.
Colonic irrigation. Chiropractic. Herbal detoxification.
Vitamin megadosing. Psychic healing. New Age blessings. Detoxifying
footpads and foot baths. Naturopathy. Aromatherapy. Bioidentical
hormone therapy. Chelation. Iridology… You’ll notice that these
products are not FDA approved. It’s legal to sell anything you want
that’s not overtly dangerous, so long as you don’t claim
that it is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. And that’s how billions of dollars
of worthless “supplements” are sold every year. They usually claim that their
product has wellness benefits, but in order to avoid
running afoul of the law, they leave these claims uselessly vague, saying that their product
“restores balance”, “builds the blood”, “boosts the immune system”,
“restores vitality” or some other claim that’s medically meaningless
but that sounds reasonable to an uncritical layperson. When a product does have merit
and warrants FDA approval, this merit is established
through a process called the randomized controlled trial, more commonly called a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a very special process. It’s very different from
the way most alternative products demonstrate their effectiveness,
which is through personal testimonials and “studies”. Spend 5 minutes browsing
through Wikipedia, and congratulations, you’ve just completed a “study”.
Spend 2 minutes rubbing your chin thoughtfully and looking at the sky, and you’ve just completed a “study”. You can now legally sell
your product with the claim “Studies show that this product
will repolarize your energy fields”. Not good enough for the FDA.
To conduct a randomized controlled trial, a statistician will select
a sample size large enough to produce a significant result. Care must be taken that the
test subjects are properly representative of the target population,
and not tainted by selection biases that might skew the results. The subjects are blinded,
knowing as little as possible about what’s being tested. They are randomly and blindly
assigned to one of several groups. There may be a group that will receive the treatment being studied; a group receiving an established treatment; and always at least
one control group receiving a control or placebo treatment. Test administrators are also blinded – this is called
double-blinding – such that they don’t know
what group each subject is assigned to, and whenever possible,
they also don’t know what the treatment is
that they are administering. Everything is coded to
avoid experimenter bias and to cancel out any effects like patients
trying to respond the way they feel the experimenters want them to. The trial lasts long enough to satisfy the statisticians and the scientists. Finally, when the results are
tabulated by a blinded statistician (this is called triple-blinding),
we get the results. The cloaks of anonymity
are whisked aside, and we finally learn for
a statistical certainty which treatments are
effective, and which are not. When this process shows significant
benefits for a new treatment, and the trial can be repeated by other experimenters and
yields similar results, then, and only then, do
scientists say that this is a product that works, and
is supported by evidence. Let’s pick just one alternative
medicine to examine in closer detail. Homeopathy. This is a
system, invented around 1800, intended to bring into balance
your four basic bodily humors – blood, phlegm, yellow
bile, and black bile – by ingesting a
infinitesimally small amount of whatever poison caused the imbalance. Clearly, all of these
fundamental assumptions homeopathy is based on are now
known to be complete nonsense. Homeopathy is about extreme dilution. The greater the dilution, the
more effective the treatment. A tiny amount of extract, usually
from some herb, is diluted in water, far past the point of
being chemically pure water. Early in the dilution process,
they agitate it, and this is said to give the
water a “spiritual imprint” of the original compound, and
it can then be diluted infinitely without losing its
effectiveness. This water is then sold as is, or is
infused into sugar pills. Let’s look at some of these.
These come in pill form. These are standard sugar pills, same as you can get at a pharmacy – sucrose and lactose, are
the only listed ingredients. Each pill has supposedly been infused with a single drop of the diluted water. Essentially it’s a very small hard candy,
without any flavoring. This one is a 30C dilution of sulphur. That doesn’t mean 1 part
sulphur and 30 parts water; it means C, or roman numeral
100, to the 30th power, or 10^60, which is 1
followed by 60 zeroes. Chemical purity is related
to Avogadro’s number, 6×10^23, so technically this solution
is 37 orders of magnitude more pure than chemically pure. This is far more
diluted than one sulphur atom in all the oceans of the planet. How likely is it that there
is even a single molecule of sulphur in this bottle? Impossible. It’s pure sugar. This whole shelf in the pharmacy, simply pure sugar,
infused with pure water. If all of this stuff is actually
unsupported by any good evidence, that means that it doesn’t really work. But lots of people believe that it does. Smart people, your
friends and neighbors, and the professionals you work with. Let’s look at some of the reasons
smart people believe weird things. First of all, the unexplained is cool! Who doesn’t love a fascinating subject? Whether it’s the Loch Ness Monster or a black hole at the
center of our galaxy, it’s cool! Or what about a
new meditation technique that will let you change your
body’s physical appearance? We’re all naturally predisposed to be excited about new weird stuff. Not even the smartest people you
know are immune to this. It’s human. Second, simple answers are seductive. You go to your doctor and he tells you “Gee I’m sorry, but
you have kidney failure, and you’re going to need dialysis
for the rest of your life. ” Your neighbor, who sells an
exotic fruit juice from Brazil says “Hey no problem, drink this
expensive juice, and you’ll be cured. ” Which sounds more attractive?
Is there any surprise that people who sell nonsense
continue to get customers? Most pseudosciences sell
easy answers. We all want to believe that anything
is attainable and easy. Third, our inquisitive nature
encourages us to focus on possibilities. Scientific explanations are called theories, and they always are and always will be subject to improvement or change
as we make new discoveries. No matter how solid our
foundation of knowledge is, and no matter how comprehensively
it’s validated by experimentation, every theory will always
be subject to improvement. Some people take this
inherent incompleteness of any theory to its logical extreme. They latch onto that speck of
possibility that a theory is wrong, and they give that speck equal or greater significance than the theory! “Gravity is just a theory, it could
be wrong; an alternate possibility is that the Earth is expanding
and pushing against our feet. ” Let Einstein and the others hold up their end; they know their business. Give our strongest theories
the respect they are due. It is rational to accept our best theories even if you
don’t understand them. It is irrational to reject them for that reason, or to claim that you know better. Fourth, people simply lack the tools for critical thinking. We love the unexplained;
we love easy answers; we hate complicated stuff. And nobody’s ever given us
tools, like those we talked about earlier, to tell
science from pseudoscience. It’s no wonder that most people,
no matter how smart they are, believe in all sorts of
crazy stuff that’s not true. Most of us rely on pop culture
for our exposure to science. As a result, our knowledge
is generally quite poor, and that illiteracy is
constantly being reinforced. What this exposure never seems
to include is healthy skepticism. Don’t expect pop culture to
arm you with the tools you need. You will need to seek those out,
and then apply them, yourself. So we know what the red flags are, and we understand why people ignore them. What can we do to become better critical thinkers, and to help
other people do the same? Number one, Act Locally. The first thing you can do is to start actively looking for the red flags. Keep your eyes and
ears open for claims of ancient Chinese wisdom,
the body’s energy fields, all-natural ingredients, pictures of
people in lab coats, and television shows that
uncritically presume the existence of ghosts or psychic powers. And then, question it. Research
it. Go online and do a search. But, beware of your sources. A Google search for virtually any pseudoscience is likely
to bring up sites that are commercially dedicated
to promoting some product or concept, and you’re not
going to find criticism there. Wikipedia articles about
controversial topics always have a section on
Criticism or Skepticism. Follow those links. Read the
references on the bottom of the page. Your friend recommends acupuncture, or thinks aliens landed
in Roswell in 1947? Go and actively search
for scholarly criticism, then make an informed decision. Number two, Act Globally. Take a stand when your
community considers the question “Should education and
the media be balanced?” Isn’t it fair and better
to show both sides? Aren’t free speech and academic
freedom of paramount importance? Well, that depends. In matters of opinion or philosophy, where “academic freedom” applies, yes. In matters of science, absolutely not. Math class does not
give equal time to 2+2=5. Geology class does not give
equal time to Flat Earth theories. Medical school does not give
equal time to bloodletting. History class does not give
equal time to Holocaust denial. Pseudoscience should
never be given equal time, and that’s not being
biased or closed-minded. Facts and fallacies
are not equally valid. Embrace the information that
stands up to the scrutiny of testing, not the information
that fails such scrutiny. You want to make a difference globally? Do whatever you can to end
this politically correct fad of giving pseudoscience equal time. Next time your TV show or
newspaper presents fallacy as fact, let them know that you don’t
support the harm they’re doing. Next time your local school board wants to replace science with opinion, help put an end to the
folly of “balanced” science. It might be very politically correct to
want to accommodate that 5, but I’m sorry,
the question on the board is 2+2. There’s one final present I’d like to leave you with, and
that’s a reading list. Like any list it’s woefully incomplete, but I’m going to give you
what I consider the best books to get anyone started on the
path to critical thinking. First off, everyone in the
world should read Carl Sagan’s classic “The Demon Haunted World:
Science as a Candle in the Dark. ” This book is the magnum opus of
critical thinking for everyone. It’s easy to read,
approachable, and every page is fascinating
no matter who you are. Chapter 12 includes Sagan’s
famous Baloney Detection Kit, quite possibly the handiest Swiss army knife for understanding our universe. The second book is Flim Flam,
by James “The Amazing” Randi. Randi makes no effort to be
everyone’s favorite guy like Carl Sagan; instead he hits
the nail on the head hard. This book is chock full of no-nonsense
exposure of frauds and rip-offs. You’ll learn how easily
people can be deceived, and it can
be a big wake-up call. If you want to be able to
recognize when someone’s taking advantage of you with a
fraudulent product or service, expertise in the art of Flim Flam
is your first line of defense. Third, I’m going to recommend a
book that you probably didn’t expect, Mark Twain’s The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain was perhaps
the most effective critic of human ignorance and
folly who ever lived. Although on its surface it appears
to be an adventure story, it’s really a collection of quite shocking exposés of human weaknesses, driven by superstition, racism,
greed, and ignorance. If you think James
Randi pulls no punches, try re-reading Mark
Twain with new eyes. Finally, I’m going to recommend
my own book, Skeptoid, Critical
Analysis of Pop Phenomena, with a foreword by James Randi. This is 50 short subjects based
on my podcast episodes, quick and easy analyses of 50 phenomena that you’ve always wondered about: The Amityville Horror,
The Philadelphia Experiment, organic food myths,
Bigfoot, spirit orbs. There’s something in here
to challenge everyone. Some people criticize science
by pointing out that it does not know
everything and doesn’t have all the answers. Obviously, this criticism is true. Science is all about the fact that we don’t know everything. Science is the learning process. If we want to improve the world, improve the human condition, improve technology; learning, and thus science,
is the essential way forward. When your hear someone criticize
science because it doesn’t have all the answers, don’t
argue with them; instead point out that that’s the central strength of science. We couldn’t be learning more every day if we presumed to
already know everything. Some people criticize skepticism because it doesn’t
leave well enough alone. Many paranormal and alternative beliefs bring comfort to those who practice them, and are a positive force in many
peoples’ lives. But happiness and enlightenment
are all around us in our world; you don’t have to turn to
pseudoscience to find them. And moreover, once we begin investing our faith in unsubstantiated
or supernatural phenomena, we are contributing to the
redirection of attention, influence, and funding
away from technologies and concepts that have been evidenced to be beneficial to humanity and to our world. The choice between pseudoscience and science is the choice between
stagnation and progress: progress toward long
life, health, happiness, a cleaner planet, bountiful
food, knowledge, and peace. There may indeed be
undiscovered dragons in our world. But there is also
something we know for a fact: we haven’t
found any dragons yet. We’ve looked in a lot of places,
and seen some extraordinary things; but never yet has science been forced
to throw in the towel and admit the reality of magic.

100 thoughts on “Here Be Dragons”

  1. alot of the examples used in this video are not red herrings, conspiracy theories, or pseudo science. These points of view are false and misleading and dangerous. Dont listen to this nonsense. Research these things for yourself. There is real scientific evidence supporting alot of these examples he claims are not backed by scientific proof. Research these things for yourself and come to your own educated conclusions. Also there are two sides of the brain. This guy has forgotten about and dismissed the right side and Hes operating strictly  from the left to come to these views therefore he is missing half of the equation.  

  2. Hey dude, I was just wondering if you could spare a few mins to watch through any of my video and give me some feedback on it? i would gladly do the same 😀

  3. You see, they showed a whole bunch of images of "modern day dragons". The only question that should come to anybody's mind while watching that is "does any of it work?" I'm not going to take it on faith that it's all bogus.

  4. greatest documentary ever. the promo of the book of the author of this video wasn´t neccesary, that´s the only thing i didn´t like.

  5. This is so full of misinformation that I'm not sure whether it's good or not. He says no one should think they know better than the most accepted scientific theories, that is the opposite of critical thinking.

    One of the major logical fallacies is the appeal to authority: something is not true just because the majority or 'experts' say it is 

  6. I am an advocate of science but this is ridiculously bias. Take most of what he says with a huge pinch of salt. This is a self promo.

  7. Some good points but it's a little black and white – there are shades of grey too.. There's also some logical fallacies in your own arguments )

  8. It's true, you show a illogical discussion, but it is not the topic.

    You must correct the section where talk about dragons in 11S.

    Congratulations for all the rest!
    I'm spanish.

  9. No major find is suppressed?
    [x] doubt
    Do you know how many jobs would disappear without certain illnesses?

  10. This is awesome. I love the part where he ties palm reading to 9/11 while talking about how one arguement has nothing yo do with the other. Ican play that game too.
    How did the the buildings fall at free fall speed?
    Palm reading is a psuedo science.
    That may be true but why were particles of thermite found in dust particles in a research labratory…ya know that scientific research thing?
    Colon cleanser is psuedo science.
    Okay? Have you figured out how buildings that were not taken down by a demolision were able to fall through matter at a free fall speed therfor breaking the laws of physics…scientific stuff?
    Gingkoba is psuedo science.
    Is physics a psuedo science?
    Yoga is a psuedo science.
    You all got shoveled a load of crap while he was telling you all how to recognize a load of crap, what the hell does ginkoba,yoga, spirits, or ghosts have to do with a structure falling?
    Youll have to do better than that

  11. No maps actually say 'Here be dragons'. Which highlights why this very useful documentary is itself suffering to certain erroneous assumptions.

  12. Great video. Here's another couple of books: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by  Robert B. Cialdini, What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro.

  13. Well, i guess the dictionary definition of energy needs to be updated then. It is real and you need to open more than your eyes. You've got some valid points but don't use that to nay-say all that you will obviously never understand.

  14. I think that there's a difference between being able to think critically about things…and being unwilling to accept that some things are possible, or even existed at all, just because there's no scientific evidence to support it. I'd prefer to keep an open mind to the possibilities, is what I'm saying. I've seen some opinions/comments that have called this video "condescending", perhaps to an insulting degree, in how it addresses the viewer and people who simply believe that dragons can exist, and I can see where they are coming from, even if I myself don't completely agree with them.

  15. the background music is very annoying and distracting from the point you are trying to make. Through it you are trying too hard to convince, which most of the times mean it's a lie, just like the labcoats.

  16. This 'documentary' is psuedo-science and promotes ignorance. It promotes NOT questioning what we're told. Yes, listen to big pharma and big agra and take your meds after eating your food saturated in Monsato's glycophosphate and dont buy organic. Yes listen to your government who blame 9-11 on 'terrorists' and listen to mainstream media who report what they're told. Dont investigate complimentary medicines because they're not FDA approved. Dont even look in to WHO the FDA are or how many of them are ex-pharma. Be a naive twit like this person pretending to be a scientist.

  17. I'm about three minutes into this and what I'm seeing is comparing herbs like Ginseng or St. John's Wart, and Yoga to psychics, believing in ghosts and faith healing!? Fortunately you can go ahead and fact check the clinical properties of St. John's Wart, or Ginseng on websites like or running a google search. I'm not sure what the rationale behind yoga having a lack of physical benefit is unless you're expecting it to cure stage three cancer or something. Organic farming though… now those people are nut jobs!!! Believing that petroleum based conventional monoculture produces soil degradation, environmental damage from toxic runoff, or ecologically crippling algae blooms due to nitrogen runoff from fertilizers is simply superstitious hogwash!

    Unfortunately, what at first sounded like a refreshing venture into reason and objectivity, now looks to me to be filled with arbitrary generalizations, as well as bias and hypocrisy as another comment mentioned. Sadly, this is the exact opposite of critical reasoning and seems to be the very thing this documentary is claiming to warn you about.

    I'm sure it wasn't ideologically motivated or part of any sort of agenda to gloss over the money incentive behind synthetic and patentable drugs being assumed to be safer and more effective than natural or herbal (non-patentable) alternatives.

    This video grants the FDA a little more credit than I think it deserves. For one, the FDA has proven that it's not impervious to bias influence by industry lobbyists. Also, the only time it is financially viable to submit a drug or supplement to thorough testing or FDA approval is if it is a patentable synthetic drug sponsored by a major drug company.

    That doesn't mean that St. John's Wart is going to boost your serotonin levels as much as an SSRI like Zoloft. But there is supportive evidence that it will raise your serotonin levels as well as possibly other neuroreceptors. In fact, if you are susceptible to serotonin syndrome or bipolar disorder a doctor would probably recommend staying away from St. John's Wart due to its proven effect on serotonin levels. For people not at risk for serotonin syndrome, however, who may not feel entirely comfortable with the documented and proven risks or side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressants like SSRIs, an over-the-counter herbal supplement like St. John's Wart might be a viable, and perfectly rational option. In many cases it may also be a lot cheaper.

    As the rest of this video played out while I went on my little rant attempting to point out that bit of bias, I have to admit there were some valid points made by the end. But to me that doesn't make up for the fact that some misleading generalizations were made. It goes to show you that even when a person is advocating for critical reasoning and the use of science and documented evidence, does not always mean that they are giving you an entirely objective set of facts.

    Also, his use of the word 'quantify' in the first bit didn't really seem to have a context.

  18. Jesus Christ… Doesn't matter WHAT it is, he's debunked it. It's ALL Bullshit…
    No WAIT…
    He's right (just not on the right level) LOL
    Pretty sure of Himself for a Guy who is ONLY CAPABLE of even interacting (hear, see, smell, touch, taste) with 4% of the Universe around him.
    As spiritually closed as a new jar of pickles…

  19. Oh come on, you'd better not mention 9/11 – that was too red herring 😉
    And not mention the statement that we today are smarter than ancient people – we still cannot get how they built those pyramids all over the world etc etc etc

  20. The narrator is making just as bad deductions with little back up. I agree that pseudoscience rip off artists exist. One has to experience for himself to know somethings. Anyone convinced by his theatrics is also naive.

  21. Some good parts but he doesn't take his own advice about critical thinking at times. The claims at the end that science leads to a progress of the good is a worldview, not an evidence based statement. Claiming that science is leading us to a cleaner planet, for example, is clearly not true. Its only since the development of the scientific method that we have had the means to trash the planet quite so fully.

  22. 17:16  You are just as biased and belief-based as many of the people you are critiquing.
    You clearly didn't research the FDA's practices or history- or founding. 
    Look into their banning of Laetrile B17 because it cured cancer and threatened the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.  That is the tip of the iceberg.

    (For the record, I am very familiar with confirmation bias and paranoid delusional people because I have been foolish enough to try to explain to "chemtrail" believers here on youtube why they don't exist and why contrails ARE contrails.
    They just label me a "government troll/shill" and dismiss the science I present to them using their confirmation bias).

    Most of the 9  1 1 hijackers ask the same question you've asked… "So who flew the planes?"  because most of them are alive and well and they would like their names to be removed from the list of hijackers.

    Airline pilots ask, "So who flew the planes?" also- because these experienced pilots cannot replicate the maneuvers that were done on 9  1 1 in the simulator- even after 25 tries. The flight instructors of the supposed hijackers said they were absolutely terrible pilots who couldn't even land the airplane.

    Also, since you threw it in there as a jab at people who know that fluoride is bad for you… nobody ever said that sodium fluoride should be taken internally.
    It is supposed to be applied topically to prevent cavities.
    You are happy to drink it because ignorance is bliss and probably because you think,"All those people are morons- everyone drinks fluoride. Morons!"

    You are as biased and belief-based as many of the people you are critiquing.
    Even though 99% of the people and things you are critiquing here ARE stupid myths and VERY stupid people believing stupid things… 1% of it is you just blindly jumping on the mainstream media/FDA bandwagon without doing any research because, "Everyone KNOWS these people are idiots".

    Blindly adopting the mainstream bias is not a valid substitute for actual research.

  23. Just wondering, Brian, what you think of "The Irreducible Mind." A podcast review would be great!

  24. Great video. The fundamental principles of critical thinking should be required curriculum in every primary and secondary school. We need to be teaching children not what to think, but how to think.

  25. Dear people, remember that those who are married to the sadomasochistic system will defend it like wildcats… the only person that knows what is "true, good, bad, etc" it is called yourself, your soul, spirit, practical thinking, etc… we love tables because it is easier than really putting our brains in the here and now…

  26. It could have been an
    "excellent documentary"
    if Brian didn't put in the same bag
    Oprah and Chinese Medicine or Homeopathy.

    If skepticism, critical thinking, evidence and test
    are truly the means of good science, and I do believe it,
    next time you get a flu, Brian, get a dose of Oscillococcinum
    made of pure sugar and pure water, according your saying,
    and test it by yourself !

    And since it "CURES" very well and not coincidentally,
    try wisdom based acupuncture too when you will get
    a pain in the neck or lower back.

    Test their true efficiency since it's what you advocate !
    Sorry to tell you that you use exactly the same means and ignorance
    to condemn those who promote pseudoscience.
    Is there any middle path in the US ?

  27. How is astrology a pseudoscience? For that matter, isn't astrology just the study of the stars, planets, and other bodies in the sky?

  28. These people in the beginning are actors, right? Reading a script? They are kinda hitting the nail-on-the-head a bit too effortlessly.

  29. somebody hacked and got her emails, therefore they must contain information which proves she is guilty and needs to go to jail. Also because someone else got her emails she is untrustworthy and, a dragon

  30. passe 00000 list rempli la hard de asymptote des vue des une deux des x p donc des boite de no ni list ni donc main nain nain passé serfs 0 bar détaché devienne micro ma voie par de sue mix éco …… hard de tash

  31. Smart people love un-explainable things, not because of the weirdness, but because of interest to investigate them. Smart people love to investigate things; and they are intuitive and especially skeptical enough not to believe them right away. e.g. that "Loch Nes monster is real", or that "9/11 was absolutely a terrorist attack from outside country", or that Psychiatry is a Health Care and not a weird <<Experimental Research Institution>> under a mask, etc.

    It´s an underestimation of ones intellect to think that you can fool people, whether by using pseudo-science to do it; or by miss-using scientific methods. Because, people sometimes choose whether they wanna believe you, or believe in what you´r saying is correct.
    – If they choose to believe in what you are saying, then you´ll have it difficult to fool them.
    – If they choose to believe you, because of "who you are"; they´ll be easier to fool, because they don´t develop critical thinking toward the issue (the presented object or phenomena), but toward you.; even if you are correct. Means: you´ll also have it difficult to convince the same people that you are correct and right even when you are, They´ve already chosen to believe a person, and not an evidence.

    For some things you don´t need special evidence to understand that given "information" is extremely false, already in the beginning; but you need mutual communication knowledge – questionnaire skills. You´ll understand it by simply using the intuition you have.

    Sometimes, honesty is more credible and reliable, than the strong evidence one has; especially if something is being hidden, or that evidence is not supported by other number of evidences; and that the given evidence only presents one thing, but not others.

  32. he just like those economists who could explain everything but still losing money in stock market. In short, full load of shit. poor audiences.

  33. 'Magical thinking' doesn't lead to true happiness. We need to use our thinking ability as best as we can, because only that can set us free from ignorance.
    The opposite of ignorance is not knowledge or certainty, it is the awareness knowing so little.

    Looking forward to 'Principles of Curiosity'.

  34. This has nothing that is actually about critical thinking.  I don't need yet another set of opinions I already largely agree with.

  35. I really don't know enough about homeopathy and it sounds like it shouldn't work but I believe in it waaaaaay more than I believe terrorists demolished 2 (3) towers with some jet planes. Brian has only reinforced that. BTW reflexology works just fine (just try rubbing your toes for a few minutes to get rid of a headache. I think its the stripey green tie that made me finally switch off. Brian stay in your bubble it looks like you're enjoying yourself (not smugly in any way though).

  36. Whats wrong with chiropractors? 4:09
    whats wrong with 'manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine'.
    Bulging disk – rings any bells?
    Yes, they can really help with it, sometimes they can help instantly. I know it.

  37. The author wants to make critical thinking more widely available but the docu has a 5 min intro that's off putting to exactly the people he wants to reach, that's just plain stupid

  38. The music… is out of place lol sounds like who made this. Made this into a charade. I will fast- foward abit and if this is the same

  39. Not that this changes anything said and I love Brian's podcast Skeptoid but WOW! this video is old that is what YouTube looked like at the time of the dinosaurs. Brian looks noticeably younger as well 😀

  40. I was born with a tumor of blood vessels in the ball of my foot; so, the area just below my toes, between the bones on either side of my foot. It's as wide as my middle 3 toes and extends from just below the first – 2nd? – joint (not connect to toes, the skin around tumor extends out from ball of foot under toes) down to the beginning of the arch. Its wrapped around the nerves in my foot.

    That picture of all the different organs on the foot definitely didn't look like things were oriented correctly but I can say without doubt that sometimes when certain areas of my "birthmark" hurt, other areas of my body hurt too.

    Most commonly is an area on my chest that feels like its the bottom of my heart (just left of center, below left breast). When that area on my foot hurts, it causes pain in my chest that causes my face to distort, breathing difficult & me to hold my chest while trying to say my foot hurts – which I find hilarious

  41. First, I appreciate your effort to try to protect the general public from being cheated by pseudoscience. I also agree that not all the alternative medicine will have a one-size-fits-all effect, same as the "scientifically-researched" pharmaceutical drug.

    However, you are not doing a very good job of critical thinking when you blindly label Yoga, Chinese medicine, healthy diets and other alternative medicines as pseudoscience, ignoring all the scientific data and other people's critical thinking, research, and facts that supported alternative medicines. This doesn't sound very scientific to me. Moreover, blindly red-flag all ancient wisdom as pseudoscience doesn't sound any better than blindly believing in all the "woo woo".

    More importantly, there is a difference between critical thinking and skepticism. Critical thinking is open-minded curiosity and appreciates both sides of the possibility and then design the test without any bias and let the truth reveal itself. Skepticism, on the other hand, is different. It makes an assumption first, usually is negative, concluded with a personal preference or previous experience, then designing the test aiming to prove it wrong.

    You are shooting your own foot by talking about the randomized control trial of medicine.
    1. Did you know most medicines don't get FDA approval because of the placebo effects with the randomized control? That doesn't mean the experimental drug has no effects. It just shows the placebo has the same effects, which are the effects of which many alternative medicines trying to achieve.
    2. What do you think is curing the patient in the sugar pill? If as you said, "it doesn't matter what it is, what matters is if it is working", then the sugar pill, which you would consider is much less of medicine value than all the nutritional supplements, should be real medicine. Simply becasue of your definition as "working" and "fact". In the same logic that many of the peseudoscience would not be pseudoscience according to your own definition.
    3. Did you also know that researches are conducted to specifically study the curing effect of placebos at Harvard Medical School, which you might skeptically label pseudo-science as there is really just sugar and water? How can it cure the disease?
    4. You might argue that the NIH (National Institute of Health) as an institute of pseudoscience as they supported the research of all kinds of alternative medicine you would label pseudoscience or political correctness.
    5. Do you also know just observing the research subjects will alter the state of the subjects? I believe you know the famous double-slit experiment. This is the reason why many alternative medicines cannot be tested with today's scientific experiment design, especially with biased skepticism? If you are truly scientific, you would do much more research and updating your knowledge of physics, biology, chemistry etc. before making this video.

    Scientific knowledge is always improving as the whole human race grows through exploration. Every step should be appreciated as today's science builds upon it. It is a great honor to be a real scientist. It is too low to have scientific knowledge just so you won't be "cheated" in a drug store or robed by a yoga instructor.

    I would not recommend this documentary for introducing critical thinking at high school because of the negative mindset and the ignorance of scientific evidence. Students should be taught to respect "ancient wisdom" rather than red-flag them as pseudoscience just by opinion like this without scientific evidence. This documentary will intimidate students from exploring the ancient wisdom and alternative medicine with open-mindedness.

  42. To say "Good Science" always prevails is just not true. There has been proof that lobbies have worked very hard to suppress information from the dangers of fossil fuels related to climate change in the 1970's, to the harmful nature of tobacco, and even the usage of marijuana as it pertains to medicinal, as wells as recreational, as big pharma, tobacco, and alcohol all try to downplay the positives or non-negatives of use.

  43. Cutting-edge research at Harvard Medical School looking for the Real ingredients of "Fake" medicine.

    "For many years, the placebo effect was considered to be no more than a nuisance variable that needed to be controlled in clinical trials. Only recently have researchers redefined it as the key to understanding the healing that arises from medical ritual, the context of treatment, the patient-provider relationship and the power of imagination, trust and hope.

    Although our biomedical health care system often considers these humanistic dimensions of care as secondary to the administration of pharmaceuticals and procedures, the emerging field of placebo studies is producing scientific evidence that these more intangible elements of medicine may fundamentally contribute to the improvement of patient outcomes.

    The Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter hosted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School is the first research center to pursue placebo studies through interdisciplinary, translational research initiatives that bridge the basic, clinical and social sciences, as well as the humanities."

  44. So, what is wrong with vitamins and supplements in general??????
    They are a key component of supplementing my diet, and treating my epilepsy… I take 7 things unfortunately, and blood work shows that I am no longer deficient in the things that I recently had to add because I was deficient. Magnesium 1g for epilepsy, vit E, vit D, calcium because magnesium robs calcium, kelp-for iodine (thyroid), and a multi-vitamin with minerals because I was low on a few things on several blood works…. go forward a few months, blood shows everything is where it should be. I don't eat like a normal person, I consume under 1000 calories in an average day… in a 'busy' day I might hit 1500… So I get how a healthy person might not "need" supplements– but are they really "bad"? I am aware there is some fraud out there, some companies defraud consumers by filling capsules with crap, starch, etc, but some people, like me, need vitamins and supplements cause they are disabled and their diets suck…

    What is wrong with yoga, too? A Nuerosurgeon out of UCLA that I trusted greatly said that it likely saved me from being paralyzed when he saw my MRI. 17mm herniation L5/S1. He also told me to never expect to walk again. Now I am walking (a little) greatly thanks to yoga and physio. But the therapists and doctors all agree if I hadn't been doing yoga before my car accident I wouldn't have been able to recover like I have… (granted I would say that it's stretching and flexibility is super important after you reach like puberty… you kinda begin to stop doing flexible things like playing on the playground at school.)

    I also find it extremely amusing the mention that there should be suspicion of the use of actors with labcoats and hiring of celebrities to endorse health products when FDA approved drugs do this ALL the time! They'll even pay doctors to endorse their products or prescribe their products, which is in part why we are having an issue with opioid addiction: doctor payouts (in PART). You can always look your doctor up online and see what companies are paying them how much at any time if you are curious!

    But yeah– Great video! I've been gone from this scene a while, happy to see new content!!!! <3

    (this was like right after my car accident, I used to only listen at work ironically… while I worked.)

  45. Stopped watching when got to the part of "Who crushed the planes". Mate, the question is not Who, the question is Why. Ask me, I'll tell you. On the Who part – we'll know in 50-60 years, right after we know who killed the Kennedy brothers…

    Anyway, ignorant and so arrogant …

  46. I don't like the fact that Dunning is selling his own book in the same breath that he is denouncing nebulous pseudoscience. I agree with his general thesis, that alternative medicine is unreliable and should be critically examined, but I don't think I agree entirely with his prescribed address to the problem. I don't think that the answer is a book full of "quick and easy analyses of 50 phenomena," as endorsed by James Randi (37:21). Subscribing, without question, to a source like that, a source that was introduced by its own author with no less than three recognized and common sales tactics, is just as bad as accepting homeopathy or any other alternative medicine without first questioning its value.

  47. I was writing a comment of review but my page refreshed. Essentially it boiled down to Brian Dunning is a rhetorician, not a scientist. He is also not a critical or understanding researcher when it comes to ancient philosophy and archaeology. He is a proponent of scientific progressivism, which is to say that science for sciences sake is always getting better regardless of cultural, economic, and historical contexts. He even restates the age old unfounded claim of the dark ages had no scientific advances.
    Furthermore, he says, "it is completely illogical and backwards to think the ancients had a better understanding of anything than modern science" due to them not having the advanced tools we have now.
    This is bunk for a variety of reasons, first and foremost is that we (meaning those not necessarily including myself who have studied a given subject) have an understanding of modern science because we have access to modern publications. However, we rarely get access to the writings or ideas of ancient peoples because that level of detail just doesn't preserve very well in the archaeological and historical record.

    How can an honest skeptic say that we today know better on a given subject than a people in the past if we don't even understand what was known in the past? Either he is unaware of his failure to conduct proper research and testing or he is simply resorting to the same pseudoscience he claims to warn us about.

    This has been an enlightening video and I believe the lesson to take away is to be wary of psuedoscience in it's many forms and be careful about trusting people whose livelihood is based on sensationalism, either in propagating it or in ostensibly debunking it.

    Bonus round critical thinking exercise – is discouraging people from asking questions about things a moral virtue? Case in point: vaccines and autism. If parents, friends, and acquaintances are concerned for the health of children shouldn't they be allowed to ask questions and offer resistance when the answers they receive don't make sense? For example, if rubella is a known cause for increased risk of autism, is the MMR safe for pregnant, or soon to be pregnant, women to take considering the vaccine by design infects the patient the live (but weakened) rubella virus?

  48. Garbage spouted off about vaccines since they do not go through the placebo testing before they hit the market. I was interested in what you had to say until that point. Adios quackers.

  49. While I believe critical thinking, science, math and formal logic are the best tools we have as human beings, there are also proven issues with pharmaceutical companies, psychiatry, governments and other aspects of society. This video seems to imply a false equivalence between criticism/suspicion and uncritical thinking, which is fallacious in itself.
    I'd like to see an update to this video that touches more on falsification, the scientific method, fallacy analysis and decision making (game theory).
    The reality is that people in the highest echelons of society can push bullshit as well, and according to history, they do it just often if not even more so.

  50. I do agree with fact of people labeling the unknown to at least be able to grasp something intangible at the time , however making "here be dragons" a canopy label that very process is some what benign .It wasn't to long ago the kraken or just the giant squid was quantified as "a big fish story" or "a wild goose chase"and used as a label also, but here we with confirmation of the existence of not just the giant squid (Architeuthis) but also the colossal squid.
    it's kinda like before there was irrefutable evidence showing Architeuthis exists it was Cryptozoology but now because of the evidence it now seamlessly shifts to Zoology .Another less extreme example of this is the celocath for years it was thought to have disappeared from the fossil record suggesting extinction fast forward 10-20 years there still eating celocath in the Philippines(not sure if this was the right country), not a decedent but actual celocath.

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