Too many people, some very clever and knowledgeable in their own fields, have formed opinions based not upon the evidence but because they have closed their minds to any other opinion than their own.
This is particularly true in the areas of the so-called paranormal, alternative scientific theories, conspiracy theories, etc.
Often there are vested interests at stake so, for example, any alternative scientific theories which would threaten all current scientific research grants and make all scientific textbooks obsolete if proved true are ridiculed and refused publication in scientific journals. Organized religion and atheistic science both have a common vested interest in dismissing Spiritualism/Survivalism as ‘of the devil’ or just superstitious nonsense, fraud and wishful thinking. Governments have a vested interest in hiding the truth about UFOs able to invade their airspace, reportedly neutralize ICBMs and which they feel might cause panic among the population. They obviously also have a vested interest in hiding the truth about any conspiracy theories which have a basis in fact, most likely of which include the deaths of JFK and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Other things are rejected because people feel it would make them look stupid or gullible to believe in them. Indeed it is gullible to believe in anything which is not backed up by evidence, but so many things in the above areas are rejected by people who refuse to even examine or consider the evidence.
The scientific and empirical method requires all subjects to be approached with an open mind, and decisions made on the evidence alone.
The line is crossed into gullibility when things are accepted without being backed up by evidence. Such things have to be kept in mind as mere possibilities until they are either backed up or not backed up by evidence.
Taking just one example, UFOs and visits to the Earth by alien civilizations. There is so much overwhelming evidence of this no person who has examined this evidence can be in any doubt whatsoever that it is a fact. It has been confirmed by Dr Ed Mitchell, an ex-NASA scientist and an astronaut who walked on the Moon, by the first Director of the CIA Admiral Hillenkoeter and documented in books by the late USAF Major Donald E. Keyhoe. All these and more have gone on public record about the reality of UFOs and their extraterrestial origin, Keyhoe quoting numerous USAF personnel and documents in his books. Hillenkoeter made a statement to the U.S. press in 1956 about the extraterrestial origin of UFOs, and Dr Mitchell has said as much on radio programs and YouTube. The latest influential person to endorse the idea of aliens visiting the Earth is the Russian Premier and former President, Dimitry Medvedev, who was privy to top secret documents and files. It really is not credible to say such a person was just ‘joking’, along with all the others mentioned above, quite apart from the documentary and radar evidence backing alien visitation up.
Then there are those who go further and say aliens are among us on Earth disguised as Earth-born humans. There is, as far as I am aware, no real evidence for this. I therefore keep it in the back of my mind as a mere theory or possibility until such evidence is uncovered or till it is proved otherwise.
Even more outlandish theories suggest aliens are among us who take on a humanoid appearance at times, but metamorphize into lizard-like creatures in secret. This theory I reject as either deliberate misinformation to ridicule UFOlogy and UFOlogists, or pure science fiction. There is no evidence for this whatsoever, and frankly it is just ridiculous. A powerful alien civilization which wished to take over the planet would have no need for such subterfuge, so the whole idea is ruled out from the start quite apart from being insulting when individuals are named as aliens in this context.* See my comment below, evidence has come to light about this.
Then there is the area of the afterlife. People like Stephen Hawking, Dr Susan Blackmore and Richard Dawkins may be very knowledgeable in their own fields, but if they have not studied the relevant evidence with open minds, and ALL the evidence, not just that which supports their own theories, then they have no right to pontificate on the subject. If they do, their opinions can justly be ignored as ill-informed or plainly wrong.
There is overwhelming evidence for the afterlife and survival, and many scientists and medical people past and present have studied this evidence and confirmed either the likelihood of survival, or actually said it has been proved beyond doubt.
When we look at various conspiracy theories, we must use the same scientific and empirical method to decide whether they are true, just possibilities or very unlikely fantasies. There is very strong evidence backing up certain conspiracy theories, less evidence backing up others, and frankly no evidence at all to back up a lot more.
In a recent Facebook comment on my Timeline I was urged to support majority opinions such as those following the world’s major religions. Why should I when the majority are so often proved quite wrong? While all religions may have elements of the truth, they quite clearly all contain a lot of total fiction and deliberate manipulation of the population. Myths were taken from one religion and then adopted by another in order to win converts to the new religion. Thus we come to the myth than Jesus, for instance, was born on December 25th to a virgin, a story taken from the myth about the birth of a pagan god. Maybe this myth originated from pure fantasy, or maybe some alien intervention was responsible using artificial insemination. However there is no real evidence for the virgin birth on 25th December story at all, and unless some crops up thousands of years later there is unlikely to be, yet millions have believed it.
Many still believe God created the World and Universe in just seven days despite all the evidence to the contrary, or that The Bible and other religious texts were inspired by God when large parts are clearly political manipulation by very evil humans indeed. The Old Testament of the Bible is full of atrocities supposedly encouraged by God, yet many still regard the Bible and other ancient religious texts as holy books.
Parts of them may well have been inspired by great spiritual teachers, such as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but other parts which encourage slavery, murder, genocide, rape, etc. should be expurgated from these ancient texts as they clearly were put in them thousands of years ago for political purposes.
We are now supposed to be in the scientific age, yet even the theory of Evolution and Natural Selection has been misrepresented as endorsing atheism. In fact it does nothing of the sort, and Charles Darwin had a contemporary in Alfred Russel Wallace whose theory of Evolution and Natural Selection inspired Darwin. Wallace is all but forgotten, and possibly this is because he was a believer in Spiritualism, so did not believe Evolution or Natural Selection supported the theory that everything happened by pure accident or that there was no afterlife.
On the other hand, there are rationalists, atheists and agnostics who have studied the evidence for survival, and who have come to the conclusion it is a scientific fact which does not require religion or the concept of God to justify it. Certain alternative scientific theories, such as those of Ronald Pearson, support the afterlife and the so-called paranormal without invoking supernatural causes. Indeed Quantum Physics, which seem to contradict some of Einstein’s theories, suggest that all material universes are virtual realities created by a non-material Consciousness.
So while all opinions based on studying the evidence are welcome, those based on pure prejudice, closed minds or protecting vested interests are invalid and can be rejected out-of-hand.
Basically, if people have studied the evidence, all the evidence, with an open mind, then their opinions are valid. If they have not done so they should be ignored as ignorant of the facts in that particualr field, however knowledgeable they may be in other fields where they have studied the evidence impartially.