GIFI – The Portuguese Association for Investigation is deliberately at a pivotal position between skeptical views and the universe of belief.
In no way do we wish to question, criticize, or scrutinize the beliefs of others, which first and foremost we respect, but instead, to set our own individual beliefs, as much as possible, aside from the reasoning process that is developed over the course of an investigation.
We work according to the methods of science, but we reject the “belief in science.”
In contemporary society, science plays a major role, often functioning as the guarantor of the veracity of certain events and phenomena, naturally implying that everything else is relegated to the broad field of human imagination and belief.
However, we must be critical of this natural tendency. A scientific explanation is worth what it is, in the context in which it is given.
Science has its own language, its particular way of explaining reality, and it is often only accessible to, or more importantly, only understandable to a small minority. Furthermore, this is a vast body of knowledge of varying degrees of evolution, depending on the scientific areas involved, with global, sectoral, or monographic approaches. It therefore corresponds to knowledge that is fully characterized by its ephemeral nature, because each development raises new questions and surpasses previously accepted results.
The vanguard of knowledge is in permanent coexistence with the uncanny, expanding on and on as it ventures into the vast domains of the unknown.
While we recognize the undeniable value of the scientific method and the knowledge that effectively stems from it, we believe that a critical spirit must be maintained, because when we approach the limits of science, at a given historical moment, we are easily faced with the inadequacies of positive knowledge.
The application of the scientific method to poorly known phenomena, particularly when the heart of those lies in someone’s mere subjective impressions or when the subject matter of study is in some way precontaminated by belief (whether popular or erudite), raises specific methodological difficulties and exponentially increases the risk of producing explanation attempts that are but pseudoscience.
In fact, when we confront phenomena that resist being framed within the context of what is currently explainable, we are usually faced with two types of approaches: Those which take their inexplicability first, referring us to the supernatural, and those that bet on the possibility of an effective explanation of the phenomenon, even if within the limits of science, that is, the knowledge actually available.
Our society, at least in public terms, tends to increasingly appreciate the second approach to the mystery to the detriment of the first, which is, in fact, the path that GIFI has always chosen.
However, the truth is that too often the scientific method and techniques are used to present pseudo-explanations, which are, at most, nothing but unproven working hypotheses.
If one is well-placed in academia and enjoys a reasonable popularity, it is easy to pass this pseudoscience through sustainable scientific conclusions, particularly if one has adequate access to the media, which of course is exponentialized by the use of the Internet and the current supremacy of social media.
Two decades into in our century, the concept and understanding of Reality have basically imploded, shattered by the selfishness of stubborn individual or group points of view, rudely threatened by fake news, turned into absolute truths in a fraction of a second.
As it has been said above, it is necessary to transcend the musty positivism – which comes from, like so many other evils of contemporary thinking, Western 19th century – in the search for a broader, more progressive view of science, which is at the same time more open to the mystery and wonders of human imagination. We must also resist the subjectivism of a fully virtualized reality, which inevitably inhibits the fixation of any solid, shareable knowledge.
GIFI believes that the fight against pseudoscience is essentially a stance of humbleness and persistence, which can give us the impetus to return to the start as many times as necessary, to work for as long as the subject matter of study requires it, until, in fact, the method results in the demonstration and, from the latter, stems a conclusion worthy of such a name, for reasons of rigor and objectivity.
But we do not lower our guard regarding the demystification of what does not correspond to something that can be assumed to integrate reality, whether due to naive or uninformed misinterpretation, or due to a malevolent attempt to justify one’s own positions or beliefs, or sheer indifference to the Truth, which is gradually assaulting our current-day society.
Now that our association’s background stance is clear, it is also worth emphasizing that this scientific predisposition does not take away from us the ability to dream, the taste for the wonderful and the fantastic. There is a whole extraordinary popular, traditional, and contemporary culture, a whole dimension of history, geography, and mythical beings, which permanently awakens our attention.
It is true, however, that the place of dreams and the place of facts are different, and do not communicate directly. One must only, therefore, know not to confuse the cloud with Juno…
GIFI, June 2021