Eric Frydenlund: We want to believe, but the truth demands proof | Column

If knowledge is power, sensationalism is its substitute.

Reluctantly, I have to tell you that I know how sensationalism attracts attention. This is not about landing a man on the moon, but rather about landing a UFO on mother earth. In high school, a conspirator and I made UFOs out of a laundry bag, plastic straws, and birthday candles. We launched the self-illuminated hot air balloons over Prairie du Chien and caused a stir in town, until we learned that the police were more alarmed than stunned and looking for us. For anyone reading this and wanting to give the police some advice, I think the statute of limitations applies.

In this case, reason prevailed. Investigators found no evidence of an alien invasion at the landing site, only a melted laundry bag and exhausted birthday candles. This “plot” turned out to be caused by a lot of hot air.

It is therefore evidence. And here we seem to have some disagreement in the public arena as to what actually constitutes evidence. Let’s start with the fact that the conspiracy theory itself does not represent evidence. No more than suspicion, hearsay, second-hand knowledge, talking heads on TV, internet blogs, or self-proclaimed pundits waving their hands in the air at the dinner table.

Real evidence, whether scientific or legal, requires a systematic construction of facts. The journey from belief to truth requires confirmation outside of the voice in our head.

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About Harold Hartman

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