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Re: Clark on Abductions 2/2

From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 17:11:05 PST
Fwd Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 17:52:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Clark on Abductions 2/2


> Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 19:20:41 -0500
> From: Peregrine Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
> Subject: Clark on Abductions 2/2
> To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>


> [Pt 2 of 2]

> CHIEF EDDIE HARD BULL'S EMPIRICAL APPROACH


> 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.

> >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.

Now let's put things in perspective here.  Duke, indignant
defender of lost causes, claims that Bullard's empirical approach
is seriously misguided, or his empiricism is misapplied, or
whatever.  Meantime, he accepts -- and even quotes -- the likes
of Rogerson and Kottmeyer, whom he apparently regards as paragons
of "objective research."  Bullard and I have written separately
of these guys' elemental failures of logic, research, adherence
to demonstrable evidence, or even coherence, not to mention
excessive (or even entire) reliance on speculation.. Yet Duke is
drawing them ever closer, all the while, ever more -- it seems to
me -- hysterically, as if he figures that if he can shout loud
enough, he and they will start making sense.

Bullard develops a testable hypothesis and then seeks evidence
that will confirm or disconfirm it.  He is scrupulously fair and
balanced, would never engage in the rhetorical flights of fancy
that characterize Duke's discourse, and comes to conclusions that
are marvels of nuance, moderation, and restraint.  At the end he
declares, as he puts it, "the triumph of uncertainty" -- which at
this stage seems an undeniable conclusion, given evidence that
is, on one level, puzzling and, on another, inadequate.

The one testable hypothesis I associate with Rogerson
was a 1984 prediction that virtually all CE3/abduction
claimants would be found to possess fantasy-prone
personalities.  He was entirely in error, as subsequent
developments turned out, but I give him credit at least
for trying to make something approximately scientific out
of what heretofore had looked like the amiably muddle-
headed, stream-of-consciousness mental rambles of a
liberal-arts major who'd read a lot of books on subjects
of uncertain or no relevance to UFO investigation, of
which he had no experience to speak of.

> >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

Here Duke drones on, quoting fellow speculationist Kottmeyer,
on what I call above the spurious association of the "Bollero
Shield" episode with Barney Hill's testimony.  I'm simply going to
quote what I wrote in High Strangeness (reprinted in The UFO
Book) about this bit of psychosociological speculationism.  I
wish to stress here that Kottmeyer, no empiricist, didn't even
inquire of Betty Hill if they'd seen the show.  She denies it,
but Duke the Clairvoyant, who always knows more than
mere witnesses, insists she and Barney did, anyway. What
do witnesses know, anyway?

>From High Strangeness (p. 250) and The UFO Book (291-
92):

Another attempt to explain away the Hill encounter, or
at least a portion of it, has been proposed by Martin
Kottmeyer, a UFO skeptic and a student of popular
culture.  Twelve days before Barney underwent
hypnosis on February 22, 1964, an episode of Outer
Limits, a science-fiction television show, featured an
alien with wrap-around eyes. The alien is given these
words of dialogue: "In all the universes, in all the
unities beyond all the universes, all who have eyes
have eyes that speak."  Under hypnosis Barney says
at one point, as he encounters the beings on the road,
"Only the eyes are talking to me." Kottmeyer finds
this significant and further observes that Barney said
nothing about wrap-around eyes in his earlier
conscious memories.

This is a point, but not much of one.  For one thing,
Kottmeyer did not trouble to inquire of Betty Hill...
if she and her husband were in the habit of watching
Outer Limits. (When asked by another writer [me],
Betty said, "As for the Outer Limits program -- never
heard of it. Barney worked nights.  If he was not
working, we were never home because of our
community activities. If we had been home, I am
sure this title would not have interested us.")  In
his conscious memory, dating back from that night
in September 1961 (long before the airing of the
show, in other words), Barney could recall seeing
the beings only from a distance, from which
perspective the precise shape of the eyes may not
have been easily apparent. He did, however,
remember vividly the intense stare and the apparent
mental message that the beings were about to
capture him. The sense of being caught in the
stare, and of being the recipient of communication
in that state, is consistent with his later testimony.

Under hypnosis, interestingly, Barney says something
whose significance would be apparent only many
years later.  After expressing his fears about the
talking eyes, he states,"All I see are these eyes....
I'm not even afraid that they're not connected
to a body.  They're just there. They're just up
close to me, pressing against my eyes. That's
funny. I'm not afraid."

This aspect of the story was overlooked in
virtually all subsequent rehash and analysis of
the Hill case, but eventually strikingly similar
testimony would emerge in the accounts of other
abductees. As the abductees told it, the
abductors placed their faces right up against
theirs and stared into their eyes.  David M.
Jacobs quotes these words from a woman
under hypnosis:

"I'm looking into those eyes.  I can't believe
that I'm looking into eyes that big.... Once you
look into those eyes, you're gone.  You're just
plain gone.... I can't think of anything but those
eyes.  It's like the eyes overwhelm me.  How do
they do that?  It goes inside you, their eyes go
inside you.  You are just held.  You can't stop
looking.  If you wanted to, you couldn't look
away.  You are drawn into them, and they sort
of come into you."

Another investigator, Karla Turner, quotes an
abductee who says, "The ETs  like to put their
noses almost on my nose, and when they do this,
I just stare into their eyes.  Sometimes that's all
I ever see, their eyes, and nothing else that's
happening."

Even Kottmeyer refrains from contending that
such accounts can be traced to a few
overlooked sentences  among the many Barney
spoke during hours of hypnotic testimony.
Having exhausted the argument, he retreats
into "psychological symbolisms" which he
professes to find meaningful and others may
see as evidence of Kottmeyer's reluctance to
entertain more heretical and disturbing
possibilities.

In any event, Kottmeyer's assertions about wrap-
around and speaking eyes, while of some
interest, simply do not tell us anything about the
nature of the Hills's experience.  Instead we are
given a small detail, taken out of the much
larger context of a complex experience, and asked
to think of it as the only issue of consequence, and
then, what is more, to dismiss testimony from other
persons about this same obscure detail as irrelevant
to consideration of its reality status.  What is missing
in Kottmeyer's argument is a coherent hypothesis,
though it is hard to imagine what that hypothesis
would be.

----end of quote---

Of course in the damned-if-they-do, damned-if-
they-don't, always-an-out, hermetically sealed world
of speculationist discourse, Duke will say:

(1) Ah!  All these other people got this detail
from Barney Hill's testimony.

(2)  On the other hand, if nobody else reported
it, Duke would declare:  See, obviously a
fantasy.  Nobody else reported it!

(Karl, if you want to weigh in on the Hill case,
here's your chance.)

Which reminds me.  As I recall, on part one of
his posting, Duke asserted that nobody besides
Sandy Larson had ever reported the bizarre detail
of brain removal.  Not so.  It figures in other,
extremely obscure abduction claims.  Of course:
Ah! They got it from Sandy Larson. But of course
if nobody else had reported it ... well, you get the
drift.

You gotta give it to Duke and company: they've
jiggered the rules so there's no way for his pals
to lose or anybody else to win.  No matter what
happens, it proves what they need to believe.

> 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).

Amazing.  Duke, whose make-it-up-as-you-go-along methodology
defies belief and whose don't-get-your-hands-dirty approach to
UFO research and  investigation is positively medieval, presumes
to lecture everybody who begs to differ of lacking objectivity.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Give me one good field
investigator over 10,000 armchair gasbags, especially gasbags
with attitude.

Again, readers, for a really splendid discussion of the sorts of
intellectual errors Duke repeatedly indulges in, at ever greater
volume, read David J. Hufford's book.  Among other things,
Hufford demonstrates, to devastating effect, what happens when
you ignore what the witness has told you, tell him or her what
"really" happened, then reinvent the testimony so that you can
"explain" it; see especially the chapter "The Psychological
Dis-Interpretation of the Old Hag."  Hufford also shows why a
keen sense of agnosticism, as well as a willingness to concede
the limits and tentativeness of knowledge, is absolutely
essential in our investigation and consideration of poorly
understood experiential phenomena.  Unlike Duke, Hufford does not
engage in phony moral grandstanding on this issue.

In his vigorous -- some would say relentless -- pretense to
certainty where none exists, Duke is as embarrassingly
belief-driven as some of those he attacks so fervently. One does
not know whether to admire or pity.  One does know, however, not
to travel down that lost highway with him.

Yours in favor of saying "I don't know" when we don't,

Jerry Clark




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