41
$\begingroup$

This question is inspired by discussion in the comments of the question What kind of supernatural powers don't break the masquerade?

TL;DR Suppose you want to create a world where beings with supernatural power live among us humans, and we are not aware of them. In that case there are three options:

  1. Apply some plot device that eliminates the supernatural effects from our perception, memory, beliefs whatever
  2. Use supernatural powers that are difficult to detect
  3. State that supernatural manifestations are simply dismissed as fakes

The first choice is a writer's decision, if you want your world to work like that, it'll work like that. The second choice looks to me like the only option without handwaving. But the 3rd choice seems implausible to me.

Extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.

Somebody claims that they've seen a werewolf and demon fighting below their balcony and present as a proof video recorded with their smartphone. The video is of relativily good quality and doesn't seem to be edited to amateur eyes. The video is 90 seconds long showing something that could be best described as werewolf fighting with something that looks like a demon.

Would the majority of the population dismiss it as a hoax?

My thoughts

After reading through all the answers & comments, and checking myself various "proof of existence" videos I think that a single video won't make much difference, no matter good it is. So worldbulders could just ignore very few incidents.

If multiple videos appear, then some wealthy organization that is able to pay for disinformation, could make matters moot and suppress the truth about werewolves. Either by making fake videos or discrediting the sources.

But if those videos start to appear regularly the public will become aware, it's only matter of time.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. - - Abraham Lincoln

$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I feel that this is opinion-based; everyone will think of something different. To make an X-Files comparison, some of us are like Fox Mulder, some of us are like Dana Scully, and some of us are in between. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 5 '16 at 21:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Would you dismiss it as hoax?" makes this 100% opinion based. "would majority of population dismiss it as a hoax" would be way better. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 5 '16 at 21:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OK, my close vote retracted. Now objective answer might be possible, or at least objectively saying why we can't know should be possible (and would be a good answer, if argued properly). $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 5 '16 at 21:50
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ They always have in the past ;) $\endgroup$ – Steve-O Dec 6 '16 at 0:23
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ What if someone showed you a similar video of any religious deity performing miracles tomorrow, would you instantly accept this as fact? It's all CGI! A video alone is nothing. You would need at least two videos from entirely different sources, with correlated events, eye witnesses interviewed separately, and at least SOME physical evidence left behind. Otherwise it's definitely a hoax. $\endgroup$ – Drunken Code Monkey Dec 6 '16 at 5:25
37
$\begingroup$

In the spirit of it depends...

The video needs to go viral on the internet. If it fails to go viral then it will be forgotten without ever having a chance of being dismissed as a hoax. If it goes viral it will draw a lot of scrutiny. If it survives that then it has a reasonable chance of not being dismissed as a hoax. However, people have short attention spans. Unless there is a continuous stream of these videos after a few months people will forget and move on and thus whether it was a hoax or not really will not matter.

Getting the video to go viral

The content of the video will make or break it. If the video only catches a few seconds of the werewolf staring down the demon, I can safely say it is not going to get any traction. The more impossible it is to explain away aspects of the video or the more epic and longer the fight then the greater the chance it will go viral.

Surviving the scrutiny

Once it goes viral all the critics will come out, attacking the video as a fake and attacking the character of the one who took it. There are several ways to counter this. Again the better the quality and the more epic the fight captured the harder it would be for critics to dismiss it.

Secondary evidence that backs up the video will also help. For example if a second person from a different location also captured the same fight on their phone, then the probability it is a hoax drops dramatically. Was there any physical evidence found after the fight? If the demon threw the werewolf into your garage door, but said door does not show any damage, or it fixed itself while they were not looking, then that will provide evidence to dismiss the video. If the demon lost part of a horn in the fight and failed to recover it, and the person taking the video recovered it, then that helps support their claim. However, if said horn suddenly vanishes after they post they have the horn, people will view them as a liar, and thus no longer can trust the video.

Copy cat videos

One of the other challenges that will cause it to be dismissed as a hoax if it goes viral is if other people start posting similar fake videos trying to cash in on the fervor over demons and werewolves being real. However, if other people start catching these scenes on video and then a reputable news agency catches it, then you are set.

There are so many plot factors including everything that Pedro Gabriel mentioned that it makes it near impossible to determine the chance that people will view it is a hoax or not.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ How are they gonna make copycat videos with good quality? I've checked youtube videos and they are all very poor usually videos of still images or some body parts. Unless they hire mokkostudio.com I disagree with this completely $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 5 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ Good catch about going viral, will edit my question to narrow down the length. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 5 '16 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Why wouldn't they hire mokkostudio? Or something like that on the plot of your novel? $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Dec 6 '16 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ I never said they would be of good quality... Have you seen the videos of big foot? And yet people treat them as irrefutable evidence. $\endgroup$ – Anketam Dec 6 '16 at 0:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You won my upvote with "In the spirit of it depends..." $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Dec 7 '16 at 5:05
20
+150
$\begingroup$

I don't know if this answer will be useful to you, but my experience is as such. I have seen debates over miracles in the past, and I can attest to you that no matter how much evidence you present to unbelievers, if they are truly ideologicaly invested in maintaining a particular worldview, they will not believe.

You said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But people may think of such claims as so extraordinary, that there is no amount of evidence that will suffice to meet the "extraordinary" criterium.

Or, as Thomas Aquinas would say: To a believer no amount of evidence is neccessary. To an unbeliever, no amount of evidence is suficient.


So, what could make a majority of the population not believe in such supernatural claims? You would have to create a strong incentive for people not to believe in demons or werewolves. If people would lose something that they thought of dearly by believing in demons or werewolves, they would rationalize away every evidence for demons or werewolves.

For example (and just an example) are people transformed into werewolves by engaging on a particular behaviour that is very popular and pleasurous? Or are demons spawned by a human activity that is also at the center of economic well-being of the community? Then they have a lot of their personal emotions invested in werewolves being false! There would soon be blogs dedicated to disproving the existence of werewolves... Propagandists don't exactly prime for adherence to the truth of facts, they simply filter what they want and leave the rest.

Also, most of these Internet people are technology savvy. Today's technology allows us to create amazing special effects. Just look at the movies. Those bloggers would surely be able to replicate false videos of demons and werewolves fighting, with much more quality than a tremulous smartphone video filmed by a nervous person that suddendly finds such a supernatural fight beneath their balcony. They would say: "See? It is easy to make such videos. The original one must be a fake"

As soon as such apologetic blogs were in place, their posts would disseminate via social networks. As soon as it is shared by thousands and millions of users, there would be no way to stop it. If people were inclined to disbelieving demons and werewolves, they would share it without hesitation.

People rarely consult primary sources. If the incentive to disbelieving demons and werewolves would be too strong, people wouldn't even care to see the original video, they would just share the refutation.


There is another possibility. Maybe the general public wouldn't have a great incentive to disbelieve demons and werewolves... but the elites would have. The government or the corporations might think that belief in demons or werewolves would create a disturbance on the election cycle or on the cash flow... and would do everything on their power to disprove it.

If they had influence on the media, their job would be easily done. Instead of apologists, you would have pundits, with an aura of respectability. People would be bombarded with refutations left and right. The government could even use the education system to imbue children from an early age to discount everything supernatural.

Again, people seldom consult primary sources. They would prefer the media version. And the version that they are more comfortable with, according to their worldview.


Even if people did go see the video, they might do it just as a curiosity, but with no intention of believing in the video, no matter how convincing it might be at first glance. If you see a fiction movie, you will not believe it, no matter how good the special effects.


Conclusion: Would the majority of the population dismiss it as a hoax? It depends! Depends on the amount of motivation of the population to dismiss it as a hoax. It depends on the a priori general perception of the population regarding the supernatural. It depends on the influence of the anti-supernatural opinion-makers. If such conditions are met, rest assured, that the majority of the population would dismiss it.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I did a little experiment by collecting several proofs of werewolf existence videos, showed them to friends & neighbors and I have some experience with 3ds Max & Maya. I did a comparison shot at video with my smartphone of a dogs fighting in the front yard. And my nonscientific conclusion is that is very difficult to fake HIGH DEFINITION video which today is recorded even with a cheap smartphone under duress and bad lightning. Likes of mokkostudio.com might do it given enough time but just saying we have CGI and elite will fool everybody does not work. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 5 '16 at 23:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Also, I am sorry, but I don't have the experience of real time events captured on smartphones to be very high quality. I'm talking about violent and unexpected events, like coups, terrorist attacks or natural disasters and that people on the ground then send to the media for live coverage. They really aren't that high def. Filming an unexpected fight between freakin' demons is not the same as taking a selfie or filming a dog fight. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Dec 5 '16 at 23:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's very hard to make even acceptable one. Check this goo.gl/Dy9rkm about pro government and pro insurgent supporters regarding war in Syria. And this is only simple flag. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 5 '16 at 23:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, remember what I said: it is about the motivation of people to believe it or dismiss it. Your proof doesn't need to be very good, just something on which disbelievers can rely on to rationalize what they already want to prove. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Dec 6 '16 at 0:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @slobodan.blazeski: Another thing you might consider... even if it is dificult to fake such a video, many people won't be able to know that. A pundit or an opinion-maker could say that it is all CGI, and people would believe that if they wanted to, even if no fake video could be replicated. The anti-supernatural party could even "plant" fake evidence that the person that filmed the scene has CGI proficiency. They wouldn't need to replicate the videos, the person that filmed them would be discredited even so. Of course the person would deny it, but that's exactly what would be expected! $\endgroup$ – Pedro Gabriel Dec 6 '16 at 21:34
15
$\begingroup$

They make a tv show/ web series

Sounds crazy, but assuming none of the supernaturals want their war to be discovered, a few dedicated individuals from each faction could film mock combat, and release it under the premise of a fictional episodic series. They don't need to put in much effort, only have it exist.

Any videos of actual fights taken by witnesses can then be dismissed as leaked or cut footage from the show, nullifying any legitimacy.

There should then also be an internet analysis task team that finds any uploaded videos, and plays them down as bootlegs of the show, or leaked content.

$\endgroup$
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ Werewolves vs Demons the latest HBO show starring Hugo Weaving, Emma Watson, Chris Hemsworth & Cintia Dicker coming to your screens this spring. $\endgroup$ – Silur Dec 6 '16 at 12:15
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @silur 10/10 would watch that $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Dec 6 '16 at 17:07
9
$\begingroup$

Quite simply, yes. A single video would prove little.

People go to theaters and watch supernatural beings battle each other every year. I dare say that few believe those movies to be true.

Making the video on a smartphone and distributing it virally as non-fiction wouldnt actually help much. These are practices that have already been used as marketing for 'found film' movies for decades.

We are barraged constantly with proven/admitted hoaxes, guerrilla marketing campaigns, conspiracy theories, fake news, and other complete nonsense. Nothing is credible without thorough review from multiple reputable sources. This would need to be a regular occurrence that could be scientifically verified.

In reality the existence of actual fiction-style werewolves and demons (rather than simply something that appears similar) would literally mean that everything we know about the world is wrong. That our own careful scientific observations of how our reality works are simply meaningless, somehow despite the fact that we've already used those observations to invent things that work. Its borderline nonsensical. This is a truly extraordinary claim that would require truly extraordinary evidence.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Majority just means "50% + 1". What about the other 49.999999998% of the 7,500,000,000 people in the world? That's a serious number of people!!

Most are poor, relatively illiterate, live in poverty and believe in the supernatural. From Indian Hindus to Latin American Roman Catholics, there are a lot of polytheists out there. If this supernatural fight can be spun as fitting into the locally dominant religion, it will be, and many will believe.

Heck, even Muslims and Christians can spin it as a fight between -- for example -- the Archangel Gabriel/Jibrīl and Satan/Shayṭān.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Considering the number of videos that claim to contain proof of (insert anything fancy here), I'd say nobody even cares about another video of this kind.

A video on YT is not proof of anything. It goes through each viewers personal truth filter, if the viewer already believes in supernatural things, they may take it for being the real thing. Anyone who does not believe from the start will not suddenly find just another video convincing of anything.

Extraordinary proof would require a lot more than a cellphone video. In fact I think it will be extraordinarily hard to convince a seizable fraction of the worlds population of anything supernatural. It has been argued that many people do believe, but the point is they all believe in different things and those things tend to be mutually exclusive, e.g. if one believes in UFOs, they will hardly accept werewolves as real. And there are a lot of "proof vids" out there. They can't be all real.

And what difference makes it, for the average person who has never and will never witness such a supernatural being in the first place? The logical approach is then to consider them all fake, until other, more reputable proof turns up. Its been a pretty successful strategy so far.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.