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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 20

Re: that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

From: DevereuxP@aol.com [Paul Devereux]
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 09:13:45 -0500 (EST)
Fwd Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 07:21:35 -0500
Subject: Re: that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

Greg Sandow wrote:

>From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
>To: "'UFO UpDates - Toronto'" <updates@globalserve.net>
>Subject: that ol' Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis
>Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 18:31:29 -0500

>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....<snip>
>....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...<snip>

>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?

>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 think.

Dear Greg,
As I've said in my responses to Jerome Clark elsewhere on this
list, I for one am not arguing that the ETH should be removed
from contention. I am saying two distinct things about the ETH:

1) It isn't a single hypothesis, and
2) It is such a dominating paradigm it is (a)skewing most ufological
thinking, (b) minimising attention to other approaches to the
UFO problem as a consequence.

Regarding point (1), Dennis Stacy in an earlier reply to you has
listed some of the forms the so-called ETH has taken. Elsewhere,
I have pointed out that the ETH is a child of its times, and
other people in other times and places had other ways to
"explain" unusual aerial phenomena that suited their cultural
conditioning. I feel justified in saying that the ETH is, in
fact, an ET *Motif* rather than a hypothesis (ETM). I am
suggesting it has become an automatic recourse for most people in
ufology;it has become a standing *assumption* that ET craft are
what we are dealing with - and all assumptions shape how people
perceive evidence.

Even those who do not subscribe to the ETM still find themselves
obliged to spend time arguing about it, and, worse, having to
somehow 'prove' how their alternative approaches against the ETM
- even though the ETM is not an established fact, being no more
than a collective shadow in the mind.

The ETM is just the standard assumption one would expect people
in our society to come to, just as one would have expected people
in medieval Christian Europe to come to assumptions of portents
and dragons, or tribal peoples to deal with the phenomena in terms
of flying spirits and shamans (and such explanations could be
much closer to the truth than our ET spaceships!). As a consequence,
the ETM is drawing the vast majority of ufological energy and
effort to itself, and makes ufologists in general intellectually
lazy. To the point, in fact, that any other attempt is considered

I am trying to alert fellow researchers that we ought to be more
conscious about our assumptions. The ETM has had 50 years to prove
itself, and it has failed to do so. Much evidence collected in
that time can be seen in whole other lights, but if the only lamp
you are carrying is the ETM, then everything serves to support
that prejudice. So, for example, physical traces are seen as strong
proof of physical ET craft, but such traces can absolutely just
as well be evidence of geophysical phenomena. I am suggesting
that after 50 years it might be a good idea to place the ETM on
no greater a footing than other approaches. I am not saying we
should get rid of it as a possible explanation for some aerial
sightings, but I *am* saying we should downgrade it.

(Regarding "alien abductions",also as I have stated elsewhere
on this list,I do NOT think the ETM is a tenable approach. The
evidence is there for anyone who wants to take the time and trouble
to see that other explanations are better.)

Please see my forthcoming response to Jerome Clark for further
discussion on these matters, plus a piece of research using this
very list to prove that the ETM is overweaningly, unhealthily,

We really have to decide whether or not we want ufology to be
a forum for research, or a system of belief.

As to your point that if we had experiences like Jerry Cohen and
John Velez we might wonder about the ETM. Well, of course. But
let me make it clear that I am not in awe of these gentlemen:
I am also an experient. I have seen undoubted anomalous
aerial phenomena, both luminous and non-luminous; I have seen
an anomalous craft, and I have been within 20 feet of an alien
(I've mentioned that last item before on the list, but apart form
a couple of private queries, no one on this list seems to have
been much interested in this observation). Of course I considered
the ETM for some of them, but I have found, in fact,  that I did
not need it. That doesn't mean I know completely what some of
the encounters were, but I am satisfied that I know what they

The ETM is so insidious that I honestly believe it is doing more
harm than good at this stage in the game.

Think about it.

Best wishes,

Paul Devereux

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