Argument # 4: The Invisible Pink Unicorn / Santa Claus gambit
Stated as: “Of course I can't prove that God, spirits, UFO’s, paranormal phenomena or metaphysical realities don't exist, but you can't prove to me that invisible pink unicorns and Santa Claus don't exist either, but that doesn't mean that they are real.”
This ridiculous comparison tactic is notoriously common among pseudoskeptics, yet so severely flawed and ludicrous that you have to wonder about the sanity of the person using it. It basically lumps all paranormal phenomena in the same category as anything a skeptic makes up out of thin air. It is more of a belittling tactic than a reasoned argument. Other similar variations of this are “you can’t prove to me that there wasn’t a dragon hiding in my garage either” and “ you can’t prove to me that little green gremlins aren’t stealing pennies from my pockets either,” etc.
The premise behind this argument is that if a claim is unprovable, then it’s in the same category as everything that is deliberately made up or fictionalized. However, not only is this false and a mere play on words, but it is a complete straw man argument because it falsely redefines the opposing position in terms that make it more easily attackable, using false comparisons. A simple examination reveals this.
1) First, the main problem with this argument is that what people actually experience is NOT the same thing as what a skeptic deliberately makes up for the sake of argument! To put the two in the same category is both illogical and underhanded. Since the skeptic using this argument hasn’t really experienced invisible pink unicorns himself, everyone knows that he is deliberately making up something fictitious to put down something he doesn’t believe in while the paranormal experiencer or claimant is not. Regardless of whether what the claimant experienced was real or not, it is certainly NOT in the same category as what a skeptic makes up out of thin air. Comparing them would be like comparing my real life experience of visiting a foreign country to any fictitious story you can find such as Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz. That simply makes no sense, even if misperception was involved on my part in my experience. Not only that, but it would be shady and underhanded as well.
For the skeptic to claim that both are the same because they are unprovable would be like claiming that red cars and red apples are the same thing because they’re both red. Though even skeptics know that this is not true, as mentioned, they prefer their beliefs and word games over common sense reality. Alas, if these pseudoskeptics really lived according to their beliefs, then they could not function in society. For example, if they got lost and had to ask for directions, they would not believe any directions given to them, not even from the most credible and well-meaning long-time residents of the area they are lost in. They know this too, and thus this is all a word game to them, not a way to live in reality. So let’s just hope for their sake that they don’t carry their silly little theories over to real life …
2) Second, likewise what someone sincerely believes is NOT the same as what someone knowingly makes up. Since the skeptic who uses this argument don’t believe in invisible pink unicorns himself, it is pointless as well as inconsiderate to compare that to what people genuinely believe and experience, such as God, spirits, or ESP. Of course, just because someone genuinely believes something doesn’t make it true, but to compare an honest person to a deliberate fraud is not a valid comparison.
3) Third, if there were millions of credible intelligent adults out there claiming to have seen or experienced invisible pink unicorns, the Tooth Fairy entering homes through bay windows, or Santa Claus flying in the air, then this comparison would have merit. But there aren’t, so this comparison is without merit.
4) Fourth, another significant difference between experiencing God, the divine, or the mystical, and the fictional example of invisible pink unicorns is that throughout history millions of honest, sane, intelligent people have experiences with the former which resulted in life changing effects, but the same can't be said for invisible pink unicorns.
5) Fifth, just because something is unprovable does not automatically put it in the same category as everything else that is unprovable. For example, I can’t prove what I ate last night for dinner or what I thought about. Without witnesses, I can’t prove what I saw on TV or how high I scored in a video game either. But that doesn’t mean that these things are in the same category as every story in the fiction section of the library.
The bottom line is that while it is true that no one can disprove the existence of invisible pink unicorns, the evidence to support God, spirits and psychic phenomena, although mostly anecdotal, is vastly greater, more significant, more relevant, and more sincere than the evidence to support invisible pink unicorns, Santa Claus, and other fictitious examples deliberately made up by skeptics.
My close friend and fellow paranormal writer Michael Goodspeed, made similar points against this silly pseudoskeptical argument in his article Mission For ET: Kill Santa:
”Everyone who has explored the UFO phenomenon has at some point been
treated to the infamous "Santa Claus" analogy. Self-styled "skeptics"
invoke it religiously (no pun intended) in discussions with anyone who
believes there might actually be some evidence of alien visitation on
"If you believe that a UFO crashed in
leave some nice presents under your Christmas tree." Any number of
variations of this analogy (unicorns, leprechauns, bogeymen, etc.) are
used to dismiss on a priori grounds all phenomena that rely heavily on
anecdotal evidence and/or human testimony.
The problem with the analogy is that it is pure fabrication. Yes, it is
true that no empirical PROOF exists ether of aliens or of Santa (at
least none that I know of), but only the willfully ignorant, the
deliberately dishonest, or the cataclysmically stupid would ever claim
that evidence of ET is no better than evidence of Santa.”