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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 2

Re: ETH &c

From: clark@canby.mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Sun, 02 Nov 1997 14:57:25 PST
Fwd Date: Sun, 02 Nov 1997 17:29:41 -0500
Subject: Re: ETH &c

> Date: Sat, 1 Nov 1997 17:56:40 -0500
> From: Peregrine Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
> Subject: Re: ETH &c
> To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>

> The Duke of Mendoza presents his compliments to the List.

> >From: clark@canby.mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
> >Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 13:18:44 PST
> >To: updates@globalserve.net
> >Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: ETH &c [was: Questions for Abductees]

> >If you think I
> >am going to write journal- or even book-length responses to you,

> No, no, just a few examples of the application of what you call
> the traditional scientific method to a UFO sighting or encounter,
> and that perhaps even resulted in the scientific scales tipping
> in favor of the ETH, will do nicely. I am sure this will still
> enable us all to read about the (previously mentioned) repeated
> and independently verified experiments that have been conducted
> in this respect.

The scientific UFO literature, with which I gather you are largely
unfamiliar, consists of studies of landing traces, photographs,
the abduction phenomenon, statistics, radar/visuals, and the like.
(Many are cited in the cumulative bibliography appended to High
Strangeness, starting on page 593.) Except for traces, UFOs are not,
of course, things one can take into the laboratory (unless of course
there's some truth to crash/retrieval stories; even if so, of course,
such information is unavailable to us and therefore irrelevant to
the current discussion).  The scientific evidence certainly leans
in the pro-UFO direction -- even one of the largest scientific studies,
the University of Colorado project, failed to explain 30% of the cases
it took on; according to McDonald and others, its explanations for
some others stretched the point.  A major forthcoming study of a
seminal UFO case will document, in a way that is going to be
enormously difficult to refute, the operation of an extraordinary
technology in the context of a complex instrument-recorded
encounter. An enormous amount of sadly unpublished scientific
work on specific UFO cases can be found, as I, Swords, Aldrich,
and Gross can verify from our work at the University of Arizona this
summer, in the files of the late James E. McDonald. McDonald
took the ETH seriously as a reasonable reading of the UFO

> Is that so hard? And I am sure one of your journalistic skill and
> capacity for lucid exposition of complex matters could manage a
> couple of paragraphs to answer the questions with which I
> started, viz: '"In fact". This enquiring mind would appreciate
> knowing of what such facts may consist. "Reasonable" in what form
> of logic? "Natural" in what sense?'

As the cliche goes, you can take a horse to water, but
you can't make him drink.  One way of saying that Duke
seems intent on confining his reading to list chitchat.
The rest of you, if you're interested, may turn to the
literature I have cited for lucid discussions of the ETH
in the context of current SETI/exobiological theory.
Let me note here in passing, as one small example,
John L. Casti's discussion (in Paradigms Lost [1989]) of
the controversy about the existence of intelligent ET
life; though a UFO skeptic, he writes, "Putting all these
[evolutionary] considerations together, one comes up
with an ETI whose physical form would be remarkably
humanoid; in fact, remarkably like the kinds of forms
reported by people who are abducted by the occupants
of UFOs."  An interesting observation when one thinks
how often one hear that such reports can't involve ETs
because ETs wouldn't look like that. Interesting, too,
when one reads Duke's fanciful theories about why
Americans report gray-skinned humanoids. They ain't
flattering, folks.

> If you'd spent as much time and energy as you have on your hokey
> mind-reading act, you could have answered my questions by now.

I have answered your questions repeatedly, Duke.
Your huffing and puffing seem not a trifle hypocritical
coming from one who, not all that long ago, was putting
off Greg Sandow's probing questions on the grounds
that you were dealing with these matters in print elsewhere.
I didn't knock you for that, and I respected the plea you
copped.  Apparently, though, one set of rules applies to
you, another to those who presume to disagree with you.
I don't recall, for example, your protesting when your pal
Paul Devereux launched into a mind-reading act directed
at me. I think you're wrong, but I take your ideas at face
value.  In other words, I don't feel the need to make up
mental, emotional, cultural, or intellectual to "explain"
why you believe as you do.

> >Please cite where you have said that the ETH, though you reject
> >it, is a reasonable hypothesis which a reasonable person, even
> >if ultimately mistaken, can hold.

> With pleasure. See "Exhibit A" below today's bemusing signature.
> True, I don't use your precise words, but I think it fits their
> spirit. And if you don't, I shall really start to worry. I'm
> already a little concerned by this:

Excellent.  Thanks, Duke.  It reminds me, as I confess I have
sometimes forgotten in the course of this fruitless exchange, how
good your books are.

> >I've always heard you treat it [Dook: i.e. the ETH],
> >with the Ameriphobia that always seems to permeate such
> >discourse, as some sort of American disease (e.g., your colorful
> >unConvention lecture in 1995; see also David Sivier's
> >interesting discussion of your views in the current Magonia).

> You sad old bag of bones!  Now it comes hard to pain you with the
> cruelty of facts, Jerry, but in 55 minutes of colorful lecturing
> I managed to devote fully 12 words - which just took me 5 seconds
> to enunciate clearly - to a joke about the widespread American
> devotion to the ETH. You may have been so transfixed in your
> solemn supersensitivity to this self-generated and pathetic
> fiction of my "Ameriphobia" that you didn't hear the people
> around you laughing. I dunno - I didn't look in your direction.
> But you're really scraping up the ullage if you're trying to
> represent that paper as an exercise in anti-Americana. This does
> not become you.

I stand by what I said.  Probably the effect was magnified by
your habit of glaring at Loren Coleman and me while speaking
the offending 12 words.  (That's a joke, Duke.)

> As for Sivier's piece - *nowhere* does he even remotely imply
> that I am anti-American. He'd be a fool if he did, and he
> manifestly is nothing of the kind. He takes me to task for
> misrepresenting the 'American Religion', although he seems not to
> understand what I (following Harold Bloom) mean by that, and for
> being anti-Christian. I think he's wrong, in the context, about
> that, too; but I'd certainly commend his article, even to the
> closed-minded. So. What Sivier is doing in your sentence above,
> except demonstrating your unnerving tendency to misrepresent (see
> below), I do not know. Do you?

Here, for once, you have a legitimate complaint.  I plead sloppy
writing on my part.  Sivier's piece is worth reading as an interesting
critique of your ideas generally, and that's how I meant it.  He is
addressing different issues from the ones you're trying to avoid here.

> I haven't even *begun* to argue with you, you twit. I haven't had
> the chance. I've just asked you some questions, which you don't
> answer except to tell me to read Mike Swords (without detailed
> citations so I can't find the damn' papers) and Ashpole (sans
> ISBN), who together appear to amount to "the literature".

It is beginning to occur to me, thick-headed as I must be, that
you really HAVEN'T read this stuff.  I thought you were simply
being disingenuous again.  Okay, here are some citations:

Michael D. Swords:

"Science and the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis in Ufology."
Journal of UFO Studies 1 (n.s., 1989): 67-102.

"Modern Biology and the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis."
MUFON 1991 International UFO Symposium Proceedings,

"Does the ETH Make Sense?" International UFO Reporter
17,5 (September/October 1992): 6-8,12.

"Astronomers, the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, and the
United States Air Force at the Beginning of the Modern
UFO Phenomenon." JUFOS 4 (n.s., 1992): 79-129.

"Extraterrestrial Hypothesis and Science," appearing in
both High Strangeness: The UFO Encyclopedia #3 and
The UFO Book.

All but one (the IUR article) have bibliographies appended
to them, citing relevant papers in the scientific literature.
I have been working my way through them and reading
additional SETI literature.  So far (until Swords gets around
to writing his own book) the only book-length treatment of
these matters is Edward Ashpole's The UFO Phenomena
(ISBN 0 7472 4745 5). Ashpole, previously author of a book
on SETI, says explicitly that "most rational people who think
UFOs are a lot of nonsense are unaware of the scientific
rationale for SETI."  Another way of putting it, perhaps, is
that a good deal of what can be said against UFOs as
somebody else's spacecraft can be said against SETI
(and in fact has, here and there).  Which reminds me
of another relevant paper:

Donderi, Don C. "The Effect of Conscious and Unconscious
Attitudes about UFO Evidence on Scientific Acceptance of
the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis." JUFOS 1 (old series, 1979):

And with this I bow out of a discussion which has become
ever more pointless and tedious and now, I note, degenerated
into an exercise in name-calling. (I rapidly lose interest in
somebody who has nothing better to do than call me a "twit."
For the record, Duke, I don't think you're anything of the
sort, and I think you don't think I am, either.) In defense of
Duke let me say that he is capable of much better than the
rant we've seen here. Go out and buy his books (UFO:
The Complete Sightings and UFO: The Government Files,
both published by Barnes & Noble). I don't agree with
everything he says in them-- and why should I? -- but
they're far more interesting and stimulating than their
author has managed to be here.


Jerry Clark

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