UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 22

Re: Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

From: Geoff Price <Geoff@CalibanMW.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 12:56:32 -0700
Fwd Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 13:08:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis

>From: DevereuxP@aol.com [Paul Devereux]
>Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 09:13:45 -0500 (EST)
>To: updates@globalserve.net
>Subject: That ol' ET

>>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


>>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.

I would be with you here if you said "minimizing attention to
other approaches to some aspects of the general 'UFO' problem as
a consequence."

I believe such things as ball lightning or geomagnetic phenomena
may very well get mixed in with what is generally referred to as
the raw UFO data. I find such phenomena terribly interesting and
I'm delighted that folks such as yourself are investigating

But when you refer to such things in the context of "the" UFO
problem, I have trouble being bothered to give them the time of
day.  Why?  It relates back to Greg's point above.  I had no
interest in UFOs prior to a sighting of an initially unlit,
structured, rotating and then anomalously accelerating
disc-shaped thing about ten years ago.  I don't have a serious
expectation that the source of this effect was a geomagnetic
light of some kind, or that some kind of radiation provoked the
identical hallucination in myself and another observer (although
I will cede the technical possibility.)

In previous posts, you've ceded that there may be some phantasms
out there that do appear as structured "craft"-like things, but
that this is probably such a rare and ineffectual phenomena as to
be unstudyable or without import.  Still, it is precisely *this*
UFO problem that a lot of us are interested in, precisely because
of its strangeness and potential significance.  And I think you
can make a pretty decent case that this phenomenon is at least
real and physical (plenty of the time :).

That said, I'm all for alternatives to the (literalist) ETH, such
as the possibility of strange "psi"-type phenomena etc.

>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 would agree that the ETH is not a hypothesis in the sense of
your proverbial falsifiable hypothesis for straightforward
testing in a lab. The ETH is a broad epistemological proposition.

Here's a quote from Michael Swords which I broadly agree with:

   "If one insists on applying hypotheses to it, then I think
that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis remains a viable one for
dealing with the phenomena sufficiently (just as angels, demons,
fairy folk, a capricious God, an extradimensional Gamestaer et
al, do).  And, I think the ETH, because it in no way stretches
the current scientific paradigm beyond what is already admitted
ontologically, remains the simplest (& therefore tentatively best
supported) hypothesis available.  It is not a proven hypothesis.
It is also, despite insistent claims by certain "experts" and
debunkers, in _no_ way disproven, nor even, in my opinion,

   "However, I do not insist that it is true, nor feel in any way
the need to "believe" in it."

   "The ETH, as it  is  usually discussed, is  neither science
nor pseudo-science nor anti-science. It is merely human beings
trying to make sense out of a complicated ongoing mystery.
Science itself employs large theoretical "untestables" all the
time (ex. Cosmic  Evolution, Darwinism, Continental Drift); huge
macroconcepts within  which only small pieces can be tested or
checked for their correlation with the larger thought. The ETH
grows out of a similar urge to place a  bewildering complexity
into a conceivable context." [going on to note in passing the
much sturdier ground on which Darwinism rests]

>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.

This is a fair concern, but again I think your ultimate beef is
going to be with the phenomenon itself.  It seems to me to be the
thing that's provoking this hysterical groping for extraordinary


>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.

You see this sentiment over and over again in critical
commentary, and I always find it to be an interesting
persepective.  One could equally say that 100%
misperception-hallucination-hoax has had 50 years to prove itself
and has also failed.  Not only that, since we know so much more
about what these things are (they are initially more parsimonious
explaantions), we can actually conclusively reject them across
repetitions of anomalous observations by credible observers etc.
etc., a fact of far more epistemological consequence than the
ETH's "failure to prove itself".

Other alternatives, such as earthlights, have been addressed
previously on this list by such regulars as Mark Cashman, who
highlighted some reasons why earthlights haven't been prioritized
as a possible explanation for the core problem pretty well (I

>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.

Then you are saying that you have argued persuasively in favor of
disregarding that class of core UFO cases which strongly suggest
high-strangeness (highly structured objects, CE2s with dramatic
multiple witness testimony, CE3s etc.)  But a lot of people
aren't going to agree that you have done so.


>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

Well, I'm interested.  What was your alien encounter?  What
"non-extraordinary" explanation did you find satisfactory, and

>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.

I promise.

Geoff Price

Search for other documents from or mentioning: geoff | devereuxp | gsandow

[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com