Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.
I label this article a commentary. These are my thoughts and feelings and mine alone. Of course, my opinion will be supported by facts. After all, the best way to write a commentary is to fill it up with as many facts to support my thesis.
Many editors –even English teachers – would tell you not to start an article off this way. It looks amateurish and unprofessional. And, in many respect, I agree. Then again, they haven’t had to deal with the type of critics I’ve had to contend with on one particular article.
And who are these critics? They’re vulgar, loud, and fixated on…pyramids. Yes, pyramids. Most importantly, they have it stuck in their heads that an article about the debunking of the Antarctic pyramid myth is nothing more than “just an opinion.” And that’s a bad thing to them.
- “….this is your opinion,” a person going by the Internet name Just Wondering wrote.
- “Admit it, you DON'T have any FACTS to debunk this "myth"....not one shred,” said Shermik.
- A commentator going by the name Craig stated, “We should not forget to distinguish the difference between facts, possibilities, and opinions.”
The opinion thing was getting the better of me, until I started searching the web to find answers.
Some commentators were sarcastic. Some were obviously angry (possibly offended) by my article. In nearly every case, however, the word “opinion” became a pejorative stick they used to beat me over the head with (metaphorically speaking, of course).
For a moment, I wondered if I did something wrong. I truly began to question my writing and line of thinking. Did I do something fallacious in the article? Was there something about the writing process I totally missed that these people knew and were scolding me for? Did I make a logical fallacy without realizing it?
The opinion thing was getting the better of me, until I started searching the web to find answers. By the time I was done, I came to a startling conclusion; the fault was not with me, but with those who were desperate to discredit me. And, in the process they committed a fallacious argument that ignored the objective conclusion of the article.
Is that my opinion? Yes, and I’m not afraid to say it. Why? Well, before we jump to any conclusions, let’s support this with some facts and examples (and some background) for our sake…just like an editor or English teacher would expect.
The Viral Story that Spawned the Article
The article in question was actually an exploration of a viral story that had circulated on blogs and social media throughout the wide expanse of the Internet. The viral story had been repeatedly published on numerous alternative or paranormal news outlets for several years before it really took off around late 2012 and early 2013.
The viral story was about a scientific expedition that went to Antarctica and supposedly found manmade pyramids half-buried in glaciers on the frozen continent. As mentioned in my article “Debunking the Antarctic Pyramid Myth,” such a story should have garnered a lot of attention in all forms of media. Also it would have a mountain of details to support this monumental – and possibly history changing – expedition.
No definitive names for the author (in some cases some publications had names that differ from each other, despite having matching writing styles)
However, the story didn’t really go far in terms of description. Many things were missing such as
- The identification of the scientists’ names and origin of country.
- A map of the area that the expedition was to take place.
- Any information that led to the need to start an expedition to find them.
- Compelling photos or videos that actually showed a genuine pyramid (yes, there were photos but we’ll touch upon that, later).
- No theories as to why there should be pyramids there and its intended purpose.
- No definitive names for the author (in some cases some publications had names that differ from each other, despite having matching writing styles).
There were other red flags such as:
• Heavily cropped photos of mountain peaks or snow mounds that looked like pyramids (which were later discovered to have been lifted -- most likely without consent -- from somebody’s Flicker account).
• Captions that suggested the photos were of pyramids and not any form of erosion (other blogs debunking the myth pointed this out, as well).
• The phrase “The Government doesn’t want you to know this…” was found in several publications.
• Short length of the article (in fact, this list, alone, if placed next to the viral story would be one-fourth the length of it.
• Various forms of the same story posted on questionable websites known for publishing conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and political rants.
Also, the story never appeared on newswires such as Reuters or AP. Again, this story should have been considered very important, when one takes into account that Antarctica has been an inhospitable place for millions of years and is unable to sustain a civilization or a sizable human population. Not only that, Antarctica’s frozen state predates the earliest period that humans and its ancestors existed. If this story was true, scientists would have to re-think many things such as the origin of humans, the first civilization, and the possibility of the stories of Atlantis being true. But no scientist would be able to make a definitive conclusion with the scant information presented.
My Article Takes Shape
In many respects, this story was “begging” for a rebuttal. Thus, upon hearing about it several years ago, I set out to examine the viral article and its claim. It wasn’t easy.
My search engine spewed out links to sites with questionable credentials. A quick glance of these sites revealed their intent to dispense “alternative news” that dealt with the supernatural and/or pseudo-science. For two or three pages, the articles that treated this myth as the truth dominated.
However, there were a few that were critical of it. And from those few articles, I was able to find a path to the truth (at least what I believe to be the truth, and that’s a fact).
These critical – and very fact-based – blogs pointed the way to the viral story’s origin: a small, nearly insignificant “science” blog called scienceray.com (which doesn’t exist anymore). The blog in question printed what can be considered fanciful tales disguised as scientific articles (of course, that’s an opinion. The blog may have printed real science articles, with the exception of this particular story).
In the end, however, I relied on my prior knowledge of fake news sites and its tell-tale signs. For me, the vagueness and sensationalist nature of the story was enough to plant the seeds of doubt about it.
The article was published… and not much really happened. It languished for a while, that was until nearly three years later. Suddenly, I went from a few scant viewership of 10 or 12 readers per day to over one hundred. Then, in May of 2016, the story exploded, and for nearly a month viewership shot up. During that time, I averaged over 1000 views. This was due to its placement near the top of Google’s search engine.
This should’ve been cause for celebration; however, that wouldn’t be. With the exposure came the criticism. And soon, “just an opinion” became the rallying cry of these commentators.
An Article is Written and the Detractors Attack!
In the first paragraph of my article, I indicated I was going to focus on the viral story. Nearly everyone who criticized my article mysteriously ignored this section and called me out for “not fully debunking the myth,” as one comment suggested.
The “opinion” comment was repeated time and time again. It was as if they wanted to strip everything I mentioned that was obviously wrong with the viral story – as well as my intent to focus on the story – to create a counter-argument.
Many were stuck on the notion that there was no definitive way to really know unless someone goes down there to check it out (some wanted me to do this). Others seemingly were not concerned that I had facts at all. They wanted to vent, for they felt some core belief of theirs was being attacked.
One example was an angry commentator. In his own writing (with grammatical mistakes) Angell Iman, went as far to state that my “opinion” is “no different then the same People your CLAIMING are Scam Artist..”
Angell left a picture that was easily traced to his Facebook account. Whether he met to keep it open or not is hard to say. Either way, his account revealed that he was into UFOs, conspiracy theories and (you probably guessed it) pyramids. Most likely his beliefs came from an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam in which members of this group spelled their names with two ‘L”, hence his name –which immediately sent my spell-speck into overdrive.
He was one of two people whose belief systems came through. The other felt I was jumping to conclusions of debunking the myth because people did the same thing to the Bosnian Pyramids. According to him, an Egyptologist supposedly confirmed that it was real (actually, that person recanted his story upon looking at more evidence, and other evidence emerged to support the claim that that particular pyramid was either misidentified or just a hoax).
I have suspicions that many of the other commentators had ulterior motives. Many were quick to defend the possibility that the pyramids existed, and were willing – it seems – to ignore all evidence that they were not real. Through research I discovered that the reason behind this was very similar to Angell’s possible reasoning. They were firm believers of a cult that believed in pyramid power.
This may sound like a jump to conclusion and, yes, just my opinion. However, it turns out that there are various new age groups that believe that pyramids hold some type of mythical power.
What were some possible beliefs these people had? It may include:
• The pyramids are a sign that the lost continent of Atlantis actually existed.
• That there was a race of advanced humanoids that created them (possibly ancient aliens).
• Pyramids can confirm that Africans were far more advanced and may have given birth to civilizations (this seems to be what Angell may have believed in).
• The pyramids are portals to another world (similar to the hollow Earth theory).
But, most importantly, they had the following thing in common. It’s that one thing that has been the crux of it all. And, that is…
Subjectivist Fallacy: It's Just an Opinion
Out of curiosity – and frustration with these commentators – I searched the phrase “Just an Opinion” to see what pops up. Surprisingly, the phrase proved to be all too common. Many sites pertaining to religion, science and philosophy indicated that some type article about “Just an Opinion” was on these sites.
And nearly everyone referred to a logical fallacy known as subjectivist fallacy. According to the website LogicalFallacies.info, this particular fallacy "is committed when someone resists the conclusion of an argument not by questioning whether the argument’s premises support its conclusion, but by treating the conclusion as subjective when it is in fact objective."
Upon further reading of this site, another quote caught my eye -- one that summed up everything I was looking for. It stated that the fallacy is "done by labeling the arguer’s conclusion as just an “opinion”, a “perspective”, a “point of view”, or similar."
With this new perspective, I began to see these new criticism in a new way. In many respects they could be summed up in the following way:
- Many commentators rejected the conclusion because they incorrectly treated the conclusion as being subjective rather than objective.
- Most, if not all, of these commentators may have had strong religious beliefs about pyramids or were fervent believers of the supernatural and wouldn't accept the notion that the pyramids were indeed myths.
It sounds like a compelling argument; however, many err in this thought for several reasons. And that has to do with the nature of the myth itself.
The problems are:
- It ignores that the origin of the pyramid story goes back to a defunct website.
- The original story was vague, in terms of details.
- The story had several alterations made through various publishings on other sites, thus obscuring, and possibly destroying, any verifiable evidence that can prove this story to be true.
Ultimately, the problem falls upon the commentator. Some had motives to blindly believe the myth, while others needed something to affirm their personal, religious beliefs. As a result, anything that didn’t adhere to them was “just an opinion.”
So, there it is! My commentary on those who labeled my article an opinion. It took a while to write it, and there were a lot of facts I had to review and cull from my original article to get my point across.
There’s no shame that this was an opinion piece of sorts. If one want to persuade and reveal the validity of an opinion, one must be prepared to present as much facts as possible. The commentators of my original article may not agree. They have their opinions, just as I have the facts to back mine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Dean Traylor
Dean Traylor (author) from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story) on October 02, 2016:
Thanks Lion and Austinstar. And yes, it wasn't easy, but I really wasn't trying to sway anyone with this article to accept my previous Antarctic Pyramid article. When I wrote this article I wanted to understand the mindset of some of these people. Why were they rejecting certain facts when it was in front of them, or were not applying laws of physics to impossible situations. I found that many used the "just an opinion" as a way to quickly dismiss the facts that were presented to them because it didn't fit into their view of things. In an area unrelated to that artice (but has some validity here) I feel that's what Jackie did (btw, it appears she's strongly influenced by her church). Although those on this site are currently busy with politics, I can't but think they can fall into this category as well. Some of them have become vindictive and mean and want to battle you every step of the way because the facts,-- albeit supernatural or from political arena -- are perceived as a threat to their own well being. You may know them without me stating them. I simply clump these right-wing commentators in the forums as the Rude Dude squads. But these guys will embrace the craziest and most illogical conspiracy theories possible in order to preserve their ideological views. In fact (oh the irony), I believe one of them recently tried an argument about the presidential debate (that Hillary won) by using the "just an opinion" phrase.
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 01, 2016:
If I had a nickle for all the Rh Negative blood theories I have heard as a blood banker, I would be a rich woman.
What causes these "viral" theories to flourish? Is is a REAL virus? Maybe some people succumb to viral theories and some people are immune to these.
As a scientist, I was trained to objectively examine data, repeat it, look for peer reviews, and conclusions that were confirmed by independent (no horse in the race) experts. This is now second nature to me.
But some people just partially hear some wild statement and run with it. Like Jackie Lindley's post on "no American flags at the DNC". She refused to acknowledge that they were there, even after photo after photo was produced to prove that they were there. Someone just put that notion into her head and no amount of persuasion could convince her otherwise.
So, whether it is UFOs, JFK assassinations, or the 9/11 tragedy, I guess we will just have to learn to live with their insanity. Or maybe someday, someone will invent a cure for that peculiar virus.
CJ Kelly from the PNW on October 01, 2016:
Dean, I admire your bravery, but trying to reason with conspiracy loser is impossible. Whether its 9/11, Newtown or just pick one, they don't won't listen. What is said is that some of these folks are actually accomplished professionals in their own fields. But keep up the good fight. At least it's entertaining. Don't forget to protect yourself from Alien visitors. :)