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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 7

Re: ETH &c

From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 13:45:37 PST
Fwd Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 22:44:20 -0500
Subject: Re: ETH &c

Hi, Duke and list,

This is the second part of a message posted earlier.
If you haven't read that yet, I urge you to start there.

All best,

Jerry Clark

> Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 22:02:22 -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: Sun, 02 Nov 1997 14:57:25 PST
> >To: updates@globalserve.net
> >Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: ETH &c


Let me start out by saying that I am at a loss to
understand what Duke is doing here, besides being
disingenuous.  This whole business started because
I stated briefly to somebody else that the ETH is a
reasonable hypothesis for which a body of evidence
seems to exist.  Even most ufologists who reject the
ETH would find this an unexceptionable observation..
I didn't even say the ETH is true, only that it is one
reasonable inference from the data.  (I personally am
not so enamored of the Final Explanation as Duke,
Devereux, and other believers in same are.  No
wonder they go ballistic when they hear the word
"agnostic" -- a position apparently incomprehensible
to those whose tolerance of ambiguity seems far
too slight for the difficult business of UFO research.)
Much of the serious debate about UFOs has focused
on the question of whether the UFO evidence supports
a theory which, on its face at least, appears sensible
and in some ways inevitable; thus its wide acceptance
(right or wrong) all over the world.

I was surprised when Duke objected, even more
surprised when he acted as if I had stated that the
ETH is definitively proved.  At a loss to understand why
he was so excited, I could  only theorize that he
considers the ETH absurd and even those who
consider it worth thinking about crazy. When I said as
much, he got mad again and swore he thinks no such
thing.  So what, exactly, are we supposed to be
arguing about?

. I take the opportunity to remind Jerome of
> what he wrote back on 1 Oct 97, in the "Questions for Abductees"
> thread:
>
> 'Declaring "abnormal psychology" every time we hear something
> we don't like is the functional equivalent of shouting "shut
> up." Emotionally satisfying, no doubt, but not intellectually
> productive.'

Well stated, if I do say so myself.

> >The scientific UFO literature, with which I gather you are
> >largely unfamiliar,

> Asking for citations was a desperate attempt to get something
> like a straight answer to a simple question. A compromise, even,
> in light of the many demands upon your constricted time. At least
> one would be able to see on what you were basing the opinions you
> were not prepared (or at sufficient leisure) to justify in your
> own voice. Kindly do not presume.

Let's see.  I'm damned if I provide citations, damned if I don't.
It does surprise me, I must confess, that you would make
sweeping pronouncements on ETH-related issues without
having read Swords at least.

> [Here incidentally we have a neat bit of Clarkian
> misrepresentation: my speculations concern why people in general
> report Grays, but look for the roots of that in American culture,
> snce that's where the whole abduction syndrome began. In other
> words, I don't say Americans report Grays because are Americans
> are very horrid indeed, but Afghans or Brits or Australians
> report Grays for some other reason and besides are much nicer
> people altogether. But I do say that behind it all lies not
> America but the Semitic religions.]

I'm glad you're not an Ameriphobe, Duke.  You certainly
had me fooled for a while there, I admit.  Loren Coleman,
who was sitting with me enduring your unConvention lecture
in 1995, also interpreted some of your words as anti-American.
I can't imagine, myself, standing in front of an American
audience, with Brits in the front row, including one who's
just lectured before you, making sneering comments about
Brits and their foolish cultural delusions.  But then I guess
you and I have a different concept of what constitutes good
manners, and by "your" I don't mean to implicate all your
countrymen.  I will give you this: you are no sensitive New
Age guy.  And though I will continue to question your manners,
I will take you at your word on your feelings about this former
colony of yours.


> There is also a piece by
> Peter Rogerson about alien body shapes, a matter Jerome mentioned
> in passing, which ought to interest anyone interested in the ETH.
> Jerome thinks Rogerson is some kind of horror from the Night of
> the Living Dead, though, so be prepared for your glands to get in
> an uproar at what you read.

Ah, yes, Peter Rogerson would know.  See my previous posting for
more of the wit and wisdom of PR.  For additional insights into
same, I urge all to read Ray Fowler's The Allagash Abductions,
then Peter Rogerson's review of same in Magonia 50 (September
1994, p. 15).  You may then ask yourself, what book did Peter
read?  And why does Duke take him seriously?  Why should anybody?
(Don't get me wrong: Peter is a nice, bright guy; it's just that
his writings on the UFO phenomenon are ... well, er, shall we
say, mmm, idiosyncratic.)  For more on Rogerson, see p. 498 of my
The UFO Book.

> A couple of other matters deserve mention:

> >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

> Pro UFO, perhaps, but not pro ETH. There is a difference, but
> Jerome slips from one term to the other as if they were
> synonymous. Does he know he is doing this? And bear in mind that
> in "The UFO Enigma" (Doubleday 1977) Menzel and Taves demolished
> (to their own satisfaction at least) these "unexplained" cases,
> many of which they felt were "unexplained" because the data was
> so sparse that nothing sensible could be said about them one way
> or the other. Bear in mind too that Condon remarked that what he
> was being asked to do was the exact opposite of what science
> usually does. Not to take those thoughts on board (or to ignore
> them) distorts the picture. For myself, I do not see how anyone
> can arrive at the conclusion that 30 "unexplained" cases versus
> 70 solved ones constitutes a "leaning" in the "direction" of the
> unexplained ones. This is odd arithmetic, even in a democracy.

I started to address the above dizzy observations in my previous
posting. Duke professes to find nothing significant in 30
unexplained cases out of about 100 and, moreover -- the truly
hilarious part -- expects us to think he's saying something that
makes sense. Much has been written critically on the Condon
Committee, and where this specific matter is concerned, I quote
what Allen Hynek wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(April 1969): "the percentage of `unknowns' in the Condon report
appears to be even higher than the Air Force investigation ...
which led to the Condon investigation in the first place."  It
should also be added that Hynek also complained that Condon used
no discrimination in taking on cases; thus the most obviously
explainable, which Hynek and others thought weren't worth
anybody's time, were tossed into the pile, when the truly
interesting cases ought to have been the focus of attention.
Thus it's even more remarkable that so many remained unexplained
at the end of the investigation.  Actually, as McDonald showed,
some of the "explaineds" probably weren't.  Thus an even higher
real percentage of unknowns, perhaps.  But even if the Condon
committee was right in every particular, we have a startling
percentage of unknowns.

Duke trots out the absurd, desperate "insufficient- information"
dodge, citing -- incredibly -- Menzel, whom I would have thought
even debunkers had given up on long since.  Maybe that tell us
something about the degree of Duke's desperation. Of course if
you believe unknowns exist only because of insufficient
information, then you can never prove unknowns exist; you can
always say it could be explained if, however much information we
already have, we had that one more item, however elusive. Hynek
once wrote that "insuffient information" was essentially a Blue
Book synonym for "insufficient investigation."

Unless you apply the above principle, which Duke
apparently is doing, the Condon cases were well investigated
and an enormous amount of information bearing on them was
secured.  Having read a fair chunk of primary Condon materials,
I can testify to that, as can anyone for himself or herself if
he or she makes the effort.  As we have known for a long time,
the best unknowns are the cases for which the greatest
amount of information is available. When Blue Book was
doing its best investigations, under Ruppelt, "insufficient
information" was a separate category from "unknown."  The
same for the Battelle Memorial Institute's famous study of
Blue Book cases.

Menzel had little interest in securing that additional
information (he even attacked McDonald for the sin of
interviewing witnesses), but investigators such as McDonald,
Sparks, Maccabee, and others had or have, as witness their
post-Condon inquiries into such seminal cases as RB-47,
McMinnville, Lakenheath- Bentwaters, and others.  Through their
efforts they have added considerably to the already massive
Condon data.

A footnote here:
As late as 1995 Roy Craig, in a skeptical memoir, openly conceded
the RB-47 case to be "inexplicable"; at least he was honest
enough not to use the in-suf-info dodge. And we now know
immensely more about the case than Craig did (we probably know
nearly everything that is knowable about it), and the  additional
data have only confirmed, not disproved, the profoundly anomalous
nature of the episode.

And now, a word to whatever patient readers are
still awake:

Are you finding this exchange as dreary as I do? My point, in
this exchange and here and there in my literally voluminous
writings on the UFO phenomenon, is simply that the ETH is
reasonable, not that it is undeniably true -- a moderate position
which has been distorted here as vigorous advocacy (I refer those
wanting to take on a vigorous advocate to Stanton T. Friedman).
True, I have found the alternate explanations unconvincing and
have written on same, but I have never written a single article
or book outlining a personal ETH.  And I probably won't, since
that is not my primary interest in this field.  My principal
interest is in ufology's history, social and phenomenological,
and in the peculiar manner in which the debate has been conducted
over these past five decades. In short, I am not the sort of
committed advocate Duke and his pal Devereux are.  I'm not sure
whether I envy or pity their certainty about what would strike
most others as the deep uncertainties inherent in UFO research
and theory.

My heroes, really, are the pragmatists, the hard-working,
critical-minded field investigators who go out there to see if
they can determine what happened.  And "what happened" is
sometimes intriguing and suggestive.  Most of the armchair
speculationism to which we've been subjected in recent years is
merely boring.

To you, Duke, I urge -- though it probably is too late -- a new
respect for the tentative nature of our knowledge about the
phenomenon, a loosening of dogmatism, an understanding that there
is room for more than one point of view (yours) in the UFO
debate.  I've tried to be a nice guy about this, and even
recommended your books notwithstanding my misgivings about some
of your judgments, but I confess you are sorely trying my
patience, not to mention my attention span.

Cheers,

Jerry Clark



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