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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 27

Re: Solved Abduction Cases?

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 11:23:35 -0800
Fwd Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 15:27:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Solved Abduction Cases?

>  From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
>  Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 13:24:34 PST
>  To: updates@globalserve.net
>  Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: Solved Abduction Cases?

>  Folklore applies to all aspects of human life.  To
>  assert that there is folklore about UFOs is about as
>  enlightening as offering the observation that in all
>  communities there is gossip.

You know, I've wanted to comment on the folklore thread. Thanks for
reminding me, Jerry.

My view is that Ufology may have a folklore, in the sense of
enduring and frequently repeated stories which serve to remind us
of why this subject is worth investigating. There are other
stories as well, which seem to have a certain kind of value that
is separate from their usually non-existent factual content, in
the same sense that a good, cautionary SF tale has value.

But Ufology is not alone in either of these aspects. Climbers
swap their scary and triumphant stories, stories which remind
them of the value of their pursuit and caution them on its
dangers. Some of the stories are personal, some are true and some
are not. Nonetheless, the mountains still exist, the record of
first ascents exists, and actual climbers exist. Engineers and
software developers likewise have similar stories. Yet bridges
exist, computer programs exist, and so on. In short, the presence
of a folklore is, as Jerry rightly points out, an attribute of
any culture, including those which are transnational and have no
genetic relationship among their members.

Many of the UFO stories have a powerful and fascinating
aesthetic. That's part of the reason that we are interested in
the subject. Who can read a well-documented case and not feel
moved in some fashion? Certainly even those who seize on any
explanation for a UFO case, no matter how ill-fitting, are
likewise moved by the power of what such a case suggests - and
they will resist it, regardless of the cost to reason and truth.

However, the odd thing about good UFO cases when we try to view
them as folklore or purely as stories is that they are lacking in
the typical structure. They do not have a good climax. They
almost never have any kind of resolution. There is seldom if ever
any moral tone to the story (except in the occasional case where
the witness is punished by society for daring to have the
observation, but this is not part of the story, it is part of the
context of the story). And they seldom give us any explicit
insight into the phenomenon they describe. Comparing them to
fairy stories, such as one might find in Evans-Wentz, for
instance, demonstrates that UFO stories have a very different
structure as well as content.

There is, nonetheless, a "UFO culture". Actually, there are
several UFO cultures. One is the culture of witnesses - a silent,
underground culture of people who have seen something unusual.
Some of them know others, but most are isolated and some are
persecuted. Another is the culture of researchers, which has some
overlap with the culture of witnesses. There are many factions in
the research culture, and their conflicts are often played out in
the journals, books and mailing lists of UFO culture.

Each of these cultures can certainly claim their share of heroes
and tragic figures. But again, so can any culture. It is the
nature of a culture that heroes and tragic figures serve to bind
members together in a shared set of values.

In summary, yes, Ufology, like every other endeavor and
experience which humans have and share, has its own culture and
that culture has a binding folklore. It would be impossible for
it to be otherwise. But this does not diminish the objective
reality of the UFO. Certainly, fact and fiction in this field mix
in unexpected and novel ways. But there are tools for weeding out
the wheat from the chaff. Some researchers fail to use those
tools. There's a reason for that, and I think it stems from the
activities of those like Klass, Menzel, and Kottmeyer, and the
way their data distorting explanations affect researchers. I
think it is possible that the silent rationale among researchers
for accepting bad and occultish data comes from a fear of making
the same mistake that debunkers make - cutting away real data
because of prejudice. I have seen that argument made several
times. Still, just because the line between good and bad data is
harder to draw than in some sciences does not mean we should not
make the effort.

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -
Author of SF novels available at...

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