Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spin of the Week: Uganda Child Sacrifice and Witch Doctors

[Syndicated from my personal blog, here]

The spin of the week catch goes to Brandon K. Thorp, on the James Randi Educational Foundation blog in an article titled Child Sacrifice in Uganda, where he discusses the recent outrage in regard to claims of witch doctors sacrificing children in Uganda.

The post is built of three sections, claiming:
1. That by merely writing on it and repeating it in a few publications, it has now become truth (what I call self-generating ethos).
2. That evidence is seriously lacking, and what facts are known are questioned.
3. That there are consequences to scaring people about witches, namely, witch hunts.

He ties it all together by discussing the bad journalistic work performed here, from the assumptions made by the reporters who later insinuate them as evidence, to why the evidence actually provided is unlikely to hold any water when scrutinized.

He asks to see what children had actually been murdered, as the claims made about numbers, even if witch doctors do ritually sacrifice children, are ridiculous.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" combined with Occam's Razor seem to do a good job as a team.

A great work of argumentation, writing and skepticism! I definitely recommend reading it.

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