To debunk is an attempt to discredit and contradict claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious. The term is closely associated with skeptical investigations of, or in some cases irrational resistance to, controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena, cryptids, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, religion, or exploratory or fringe science areas of scientific or pseudoscientific research.
The term debunk originated in a 1923 novel ”Bunk”, by American novelist William Woodward, who used it to mean to “take the bunk out of things.”
Often the term debunkery is not limited to arguments about scientific validity. It can also be used in a more general sense at attempts to discredit any opposing point of view, such as that of a political opponent.
*Harry Houdini debunked Spiritualists.
*James Randi has exposed faith healers, psychics and others claiming to have paranormal powers.
*Martin Gardner, mathematics and science writer who has extensively debunked parapsychology.
*Ray Hyman, psychologist known for debunking some parapsychology studies.
*Penn & Teller demystify magic tricks and illusions. They have also debunked many other aspects of popular belief on their show, ”Penn & Teller: Bullshit!”.
*Philip J. Klass was a pioneer in the field of Skeptical Investigation of U.F.O.
*Donald Menzel was Philip Klass’ predecessor in debunking U.F.O.s.
*Carl Sagan debunked purported close encounters such as the Betty and Barney Hill abduction, and pseudoscience such as Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision.
*Stanton Friedman has debunked both supposed U.F.O. cases and debunking attempts on other U.F.O. cases.
*Phil Plait debunks astrology and end-of-the-world scenarios.
*Stephen Barrett founded Quackwatch and writes on medical Quackery.
*Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
*The Skeptics Society
*The ”MythBusters”, a program on the Discovery Channel. Two former special effects technicians, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, use modern technology to test the validity of Urban Legends.
*The National Institute of Standards and Technology debunked the World Trade Center controlled demolition conspiracy theories.
*Popular Mechanics has released several publications also debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories, in particular those mentioned in Loose Change (film).
*Snopes debunks or validates Urban Legends.
*The website Bad Astronomy, by the American astronomer Phil Plait, debunks astrology and other myths related to the sky.