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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 8

Re: that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997 12:17:48 PST
Fwd Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997 20:02:53 -0500
Subject: Re:  that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

Hi, Dennis, Greg, and everybody,

I've been having e-mail problems, so I lost
Dennis Stacy's posting.  Thus, after reading
it in ufomind.com/ I'm having to respond in
this separate post.

There is much I could say, but I'm sure Greg
will do his usual splendid job of responding.
I will confine myself to an item or two:

Dennis to the contrary, James McDonald
did have a personal UFO sighting, in the
company of his wife and two fellow
meteorologists, on January 10, 1954, while
driving in the desert.  He prepared a typically
meticulous, detailed report to Blue Book a
short time later.  The sighting had much,
possibly everything, to do with McDonald's
interest in the subject and later involvement
in investigation and advocacy.

As we all know, more scientists have a private
curiosity about the subject than dare express
same publicly.  For example, in the summer of
1952, Allen Hynek surveyed 44 fellow astronomers
and learned that as many as five had personal
sightings (which they had not advertised to
public or colleagues).  "This is a higher percentage
than among the public at large," he wrote.

I probably am reading him wrongly -- I don't have
his words at hand -- and so I doubt that Dennis
means to imply that Sagan was a knowledgeable
or impartial commentator on the UFO phenomenon.
(You couldn't think that and still have read The
Demon-Haunted World.)  Sagan was, besides
whatever else he may or may not have been, a
careerist, and I suppose in the real world you
couldn't truly expect continuing career-damaging
intellectual courage from a guy who (1) had already
experienced fierce pressure from senior scientists
for sponsoring even a predominantly skeptical
AAAS symposium on UFOs and (2) been seen by
many as something of a kook and/or extremist
for his advocacy of SETI.

There's a certain strategy in this, too.  Bill
Corliss once coined the useful phrase "anomaly
snobbism," by which one establishes credibility
for one's own favored anomaly by bashing another.
As to other SETI-oriented scientists, UFOs
represented to Sagan an opportunity to bash one
anomaly while enhancing another.

I doubt seriously that dumb stuff about Dark Side
mythology, contactees, or whatever would affect
the judgment of scientists who really cared to
investigate UFO cases.  Around anything
controversial a body of rumor and lore, sometimes
crazy, develops (e.g., the Kennedy assassination),
and this is particularly true in an area of inquiry
that has already been marginalized, such as
ufology.  Scientists who have bothered to investigate
UFO data don't confuse Clyde Tombaugh's testimony
with Bill Cooper's, or investigatable landing traces
with rumors of underground vats.


Jerry Clark

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