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

Clark on Abductions 2/2

From: Peregrine Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 19:20:41 -0500
Fwd Date: Sat, 08 Nov 1997 23:24:39 -0500
Subject: Clark on Abductions 2/2


[Pt 2 of 2]

CHIEF EDDIE HARD BULL'S EMPIRICAL APPROACH

Jerome writes:

>Duke wants to believe, and wants us to believe, that ufologists
>lead abductees. No one would say that never happens, or that we
>shouldn't be concerned about it,  but there is no empirical
>evidence -- for all critics like Duke would have us believe to
>the contrary -- that this is the usual course of action, or that
>it's even, so far, a measurable problem. Again, go to Bullard's
>The Sympathetic Ear (1995).  Unlike his critics, Bullard frames
>falsifiable hypotheses and investigates them empirically.  The
>empirical evidence so far indicates that whatever an
>investigator's predisposition, abduction accounts end up sounding
>pretty much the same. So (as Bullard showed in an earlier JUFOS
>paper) do hypnotically elicited and consciously recalled
>accounts. As a rule, as investigators have long insisted,
>abductees are not leadable.

Jerome entirely ignores four things here. They are: the natural
dramatic structure of the typical abduction account; the
*collaboration* of candidate abductees and their ufological
investigators ("set and setting" in trade jargon); the numerous
detailed parallels to the structure and imagery of abduction
accounts found in other kinds of anomalous experience; and, most
blindly of all, the fundamental cock-up in the design of Chief
Eddie Hard Bull's research. For what he did was ask ABDUCTION
INVESTIGATORS whether they led or influenced their subjects.

Researcher:
        Would you say you were a prime cause of World War II?
Adolf Hitler (for it is he):
        Outrageyous! I voss surrhounded by foollss!

Or, to adapt an analogy I've used before: Bullard's method is
like a time & motion expert who wants to find out how productive
a coal mine is. But instead of dividing tonnes of coal delivered
to the pit head by man-hours paid for, he goes about asking the
miners if they work hard.

Miner: 
        Ay, laik a fookin dog, lad, aye, lewk ut dirt on
        clogs, and all fair nowt, lewk ut starvin' babbies.
Mrs Miner:
        Eeeh, tha bloody liar. Tha's led mooer strikes
        than tha's ad hot dinners, tha reet lazy bastard.

>Bullard is so uniquely valuable: a believer in empiricism in
>this field is to be treasured. No wonder he drives the critics
>nuts. He doesn't play by their rules and, in his own gentle,
>understated way, shows that their rules get us nowhere.

Bullard doesn't play by the accepted rules, or any acceptable
rules, of objective research, in "The Sympathetic Ear", full
point, end of story. That's one reason why he drives this critic
nuts. And this is the genius Jerome hauls out at every
opportunity to illustrate the hard-nosed logic of ufologists, the
airy vacancies of their critics, and the fanciful ululations of
psychosociologists, crepuscular creatures of the sepulchre that
they are.

>I was JOKING, Duke, when I cracked wise about abductees burying
>themselves in obscure folklore texts. Okay? I was poking fun at
>psychosocial theorists who act as if the mere existence of some
>obscure folklore parallel to a modern abduction report deflates
>the latter. Let me quote Bullard here:

>"In most other efforts to establish media or cultural influences,
>standards of evidence are most conspicuous by their absence. 
>After fishing expeditions amid folklore, science-fiction
>literature, and movie imagery, psychosocial theorists satisfy
>themselves to draw isolated motifs out of context, select
>favorable examples but ignore the rest, and never worry about
>whether the obscurity of sources limits the likelihood that an
>abductee might have seen them. Movies are a plausible source
>because they enjoy mass exposure, but why abductees choose the
>same narrow selection of movie elements when Hollywood has
>offered so much variety remains an unanswered question."

Bullard seems to be saying in slightly more flowery language what
Jerome claimed to be uttering as a joke. A slight contradiction
here? (I am all for empiricism.) In any case, Bullard traduces
the "psychosocial theorists" by erecting a strawman of cause-and-
effect, or direct acquisition of imagery or motifs ("the
obscurity of sources"), which no one, as far as I know, has ever
proposed to occur in so grossly simplistic a fashion. That there
are parallels with other cultural material is undeniable; and one
of the best has been enunciated by Bertrand M=E9heust, in his essay
in Evans & Spencer's "UFOs 1947-1987" (Fortean Tomes 1987, ISBN
1-870021-02-9), which does anything but rip things untimely from
their context. To discover why and how those parallels occur, and
what meaning we can draw from the abduction experience, and why
the unmediated *experience* is mirrored by abduction accounts
given under hypnosis, is the central challenge of the phenomenon,
and of one of the best endeavors of psychosocial ufology. Yes,
abductions are a mystery, but trying to solve the problem by
hitting it with the literaist presumption of the ETH is to
approach it from the wrong end.

Perhaps Jerome's notion of empirical research is illustrated by
his proposal to re-examine old CE-III accounts and comb them for
signs of abduction. This follows exactly the false logic of
Westrum et al in interpretating their infamous Roper poll results
to claim 3.7 million US citizens may be abductees.

>And then there's Martin Kottmeyer with his spurious claim about
>the "Bollero Shield" Outer Limits episode and its supposed effect
>on Barney Hill's testimony. The connection can be rejected on
>other grounds (see High Strangeness, p. 250), but what is
>particularly striking is that Kottmeyer was content simply to
>draw the connection without bothering to ask Betty Hill if she
>and Barney were in the habit of watching Outer Limits.  (I did
>ask her; they weren't.)

Now, as Bismarck once remarked, for the pig-sticking.

I asked her too, and reported my tentative conclusions in "On
Martian Cats", posted here on about 9 Aug 97 & still available I
imagine from the UpDates archive on the Web.
[ http://www.ufomind.com/ufo/updates/1997/aug/m10-011.shtml ]
Kottmeyer has since had this to say:

I was intrigued to hear that Betty Hill denies that her
husband Barney would have seen "The Bellero Shield"
episode of THE OUTER LIMITS because they did not "watch
that kind of TV program," she being "rather more
intellectual than one might guess." It must be pointed
out that the ad campaign for THE OUTER LIMITS pitched the
show as one of "conspicuous excellence" and that one
piece for TV Guide bore the come-on "They Deal in Ideas -
and Outer Space." The particular episode of interest "The
Bellero Shield" was richly Shakespearian in tone with
parts adapted from "MacBeth." If allusions to Shakespeare
are not one of [the] major symptoms of being an
intellectual, it would be hard to know what is. It was a
show by intellectuals and pitched partly as philosophy to
the network brass. Betty Hill is not helping her case
with such an upside-down reason as the basis of her
denial.

[You say] there is no proof that Barney Hill saw "The
Bellero Shield" and none he did not. Take another look at
the argument I made in "The Eyes That Spoke." The
similarity between the alien in "The Bellero Shield" and
the ufonaut described by Barney is not limited to the
rare trait of wraparound eyes. They also share the unique
bond of having eyes that speak. I also cite other
features like a tilted bullet-like head which are less
unique but also argue for a close relationship. It is
hard to develop a rigorous statistical argument in
situations like this, but my back-of-the-envelope
calculations suggests odds against chance of the traits
of wraparound eyes and speaking eyes appearing together
in an SF production in the same month as Barney's
hypnosis session are on the order of 100,000,000 to 1.
Include the other features and the zeros string out even
further.

Suitably astonished, I've asked him how he arrived at that
figure, and await the response. The intermediary who initially
passed "Of Martian Cats" to Martin K. commented:

As you can see from the attached, the Yeoman Farmer of
Carlyle is a bit touchy about Jerome Clark's favorite
attempt to refute the Barney Hill/Bellero Shield
connection (though oddly enough Clark's favorite talisman
to ward off criticism of abduction research, Bullard,
found Martin's argument convincing). I tend to agree with
Martin that the incredible coincidence that Barney Hill
described an alien with talking eyes that looked so
similar to the Bifrost alien just days after the episode
aired is pretty good circumstantial evidence that Barney
was exposed to the Bellero Shield alien's image. Betty's
denial is pretty thin gruel, unless someone is going to
seriously argue that she can remember every single show
(not just series), commercial or trailer that Barney saw,
even a part of, in the 1960s. I like to imagine what
Clark's response would be to such a simplistic argument
against one of his pet theories.

And so would I. There is also a point in Fuller's book, I think
during the initial UFO sighting, at which Betty exclaims
something like "Jeez, Barney, what've you seen in all those
'Twilight Zone' shows you watch?", which I can't put my finger on
at the moment. This isn't conclusive evidence of anything, but it
is somewhat suggestive.


MISCELLANEOUS RAMBLINGS

>In the meantime, agnosticism is not, as Duke foolishly
>implies, craven cowardice but perhaps the only truly
>intellectually honest response. What it says is that we don't
>have the answers yet, that we're going to have to do a hell of a
>lot more work before we do.  Why should that make Duke so mad?

Insofar as the "research" of abductionists is not objective, and
insofar as they rely on "techniques" that are irretrievably
flawed in execution and untrustworthy in principle (read the
literature on "memory retrieval" in child abuse and RSA cases,
and the Royal Society of Psychiatrists' report on same that
contributed to their decision to outlaw hypnotic and related
techniques, and top that with the emerging revisionist literature
on repressed memory), then agnosticism about abductions becomes a
moral abdication and and intellectual snare and delusion. The
best example of a moral sewer in abduction literature so far is
"Witnessed", although when I outlined one reason why I hold this
view on this List, Linda Cortibalone responded by describing the
exercise as 25 paragraphs of nothing. Some minds are impenetrable
(but I tried, Lord, I tried).

Jerome's take on the Linda case - that the evidence for or
against it is inconclusive - is an abdication of another kind.
Fact is, there is no solid evidence *for* it at all. What doesn't
come out of hypnosis can be construed in all sorts of ways
besides the cover-all of "alien intervention" (under whose
umbrella anything becomes possible, and one never gets to have
breakfast for all the impossible things one has to believe before
it). And I remain stupified by Jerome's acquiescence, early in
Hopkins's "investigation", in the decision not to turn to law-
enforcement agencies to pursue "Richard" & "Dan" after Linda's
alleged terrestrial abductions.

The Linda case can be deconstructed to an initial sleep-
paralysis-type vision/hallucination, some standard-issue junk
extruded from her brain by, and to please, Buddkins - we've all
seen Linda's passion for approval and her porcupine response to
rejection - and the intervention of two or more dubious
characters (and here I do not refer to Messrs Hansen, Stefula and
Butler), who may have been victimizing Linda to indulge their own
perversity or may have been up to something else, conceivably
with her eventual collaboration. What is especially noticeable
about the Linda case is the way its exotic details garnered from
hypnosis *follow* the revelations of the letters and tapes. None
arise first in hypnosis, to be confirmed by missives from the
Dodgy Duo. By itself this ought to arouse suspicion of various
kinds. But one of the few virtues of "Witnessed" is its exposure
of Buddkins' working methods. And what we see is the way he cues
and prepares his subjects before hypnosis (against all clinical
advice and practice), and encourages further confabulation -
retrospective memory - after it.

Where, in all this, is the chain of evidence that amounts to even
the skeleton of a case "for" a real abduction? (There is better
evidence to support an allegation that I engaged in sexual
congress with Pres. Jimmy Carter in a Sheraton hotel in New York
in September 1980. At least there are records to show we both
stayed under the same roof on the same night - and I am
notoriously fond of peanuts.)

>Duke, I am going to do you the favor of assuming you are joking
>when you imply that you take New Age speculationist Peter
>Rojcewicz seriously.

Gawd strewth. I *implied* nothing of the kind and, to be blunt
about it, Jerome might occasionally rein in his galloping
addiction to inferences. I was simply pointing out that Chief
Hard Bull was not the only trained folklorist "in the debate", as
Jerome had claimed he was. I wasn't offering my opinion of the
others' contributions. For the record, I do find Rojcewicz's work
just a trifle on the weird side. But that may go to show nothing
more amazing than the truism that high academic qualifications do
not guarantee sense or sensibility in any chosen subject. And to
that extent, Chief Hard Bull's qualifications and training are
irrelevant too, as it's demonstrable that his "Sympathetic Ear"
paper is a shambles from top to bottom, while the premises of his
1987 study are flawed beyond repair and his conclusions are not
borne out by reference to actual recorded folklore. The full
demolition job has yet to be done, but some of us are working on
it.

Yours &c
Polyester D. Medicineshow
Tambourine Man



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