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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 5

that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 18:31:29 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 11:57:34 -0500
Subject: that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

Is it just me, or have we been reading some real nonsense about
the ETH?

Forgive me for using something so unscientific as common sense,
but in essence the ETH works something like this.

People say they've seen unusual flying craft. Disc-shaped craft,
maybe, that hover soundlessly (sometimes so close that metallic
details are visible), or maybe hover than instantly disappearing,
or maybe fly at amazing speeds and make uncanny turns...we all
know the drill.

These people, and others who believe their reports, naturally
wonder where the craft are coming from. Clearly they're not the
usual airborne traffic. Nor do more elaborate earthly
explanations seem reasonable. The Cambodian Air Force, we can
confidently conclude, is not testing experimental planes 10 feet
off the ground in North American airspace.

Given all that, many reasonable folks find themselves saying:
"Well, maybe these UFOs come from space!" And, you know, if they
don't come from earth, and they do things our own aircraft can't,
that's not an unreasonable thought.

But of course that doesn't mean it's right. So then comes the
debate. Maybe people are lying, maybe they're hallucinating,
maybe they're mistaken, maybe they saw a helicopter in the fog
and somehow didn't hear the noise...we all know THAT drill, too.

From the left, so to speak, come other ideas. Maybe the craft
aren't from space; maybe they're from another dimension, etc.,
etc., etc., etc., etc. From the hard-core right come more
formalistic arguments: "These reports can't be of alien craft,
because aliens won't/can't visit us," says Professor A. Priori
Mendoza, of the College of Hilarity.

Let's concede that these debates aren't settled. But is the ETH
ridiculous, on its face? Suppose it's become some kind of
orthodoxy in ufological circles. Excuse me -- every field has its
orthodoxies, some fairly indefensible (like the scientific
orthodoxy that study of UFOs has no scientific merit), some no
doubt dead-on accurate (like the belief that cholesterol can
encourage heart attacks). But even if we suspect that some
orthodoxy makes no sense, should we deride people who hold the
majority view?

Just before I wrote this, I voted in New York's mayoral election.
My candidate, according to every poll, is going to get smashed so
badly that tomorrow no one will even remember her name. Does this
mean I think everybody who votes for her opponent is stupid?
Hardly. I understand the city well enough to can see why they'd
make that choice. In my professional work, I've been tilting for
years against orthodoxies in music. But it never occurred to me
to denounce my opponents as idiots, thoughtless, or unscientific.
(Wrong though they may be!)

The ETH, while it obviously strikes some as naive, is not exactly
a surprising belief. If any of us saw, right before our eyes, the
things that Jerry Cohen or John Velez or Bob Shell say they've
seen, wouldn't we -- yes, even Professors Mendoza and Devereux --
find ourselves wondering: "Wow...could that be from another
planet?" Right or wrong (and I don't think Bob automatically
supports the ETH), it's a perfectly understandable thing to

Professor Groaning Sighs-in-dismay (Greg Sandow)

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