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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 2

Re: Ufology And The 'Giggle Syndrome' (Sturrock's

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 04:08:36 +0200
Fwd Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 09:20:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And The 'Giggle Syndrome' (Sturrock's





UFOlogy? No Giggling, Please
In France, the crew of an airliner reported seeing a giant disk, about
half a mile wide, hovering over Paris. Military air traffic controllers
also saw it on radar.

Scully and Mulder move aside. Real scientists are taking a look at
those reports of extraterrestrial visitors.

(Kate Lake/ABCNEWS.com) 

Special to ABCNEWS.com

July 1   =97 You=92ve got to give the old professor an A+ for guts.  

Astrophysicist Peter Sturrock of Stanford University has gone where few
scientists dare to go.

Sturrock is the prime mover behind a report issued this week by an
international panel of nine scientists calling for reexamination of UFO

No matter how carefully such a report is worded, it can=92t help but lend
credibility to those who claim we=92ve been visited by ETs.

That isn=92t the point of the report, of course, but by calling for
better scientific scrutiny of such claims, Sturrock and the other
scientists have exposed themselves to the "giggle syndrome."

The next time he attends a scientific symposium, he can expect a few
snickers when he walks in the room.

"He=92s taken some ribbing," an associate said of Sturrock, who=92s an
expert on solar physics and pulsars.

Few reputable scientists even acknowledge "Ufology" because they fear
their reputations would get tarred. Sturrock knows the risk well, and
he did not rush to this judgment.   

A couple of decades ago, Sturrock was looking for an assistant with a
background in both astronomy and computer science. He hired a young
Frenchman, Jacques Vallee.

Vallee was interested in unidentified flying objects, and he asked
Sturrock to read an exhaustive 1968 report by Edward Condon. In his now
famous report, Condon concluded that UFO evidence was so inadequate
that there=92s no reason to study it further.

Sturrock read the report during a vacation in Hawaii.

But after studying the report, Sturrock concluded that while nothing
indicated UFOs were extraterrestrial in origin, some evidence could not
just be dismissed.

Sturrock did a little research of his own. He began asking other
scientists, confidentially, what they thought. To his surprise, many
who publicly pooh-poohed UFO evidence privately believed the subject
deserved scientific study.

Not a Scientific Topic
He then turned to the professional journals, asking them to publish
research on UFO sightings, but they wouldn=92t touch it with a 10-foot

So he and several other mavericks founded the Society for Scientific
Exploration, of which he=92s now president, to pave the way for
scientific scrutiny of everything from the paranormal to UFOs.

Then philanthropist Laurence S. Rockefeller, who=92s interested in UFOs,
asked Sturrock to form an international panel of scientists from
various disciplines to take another look at the "UFO problem." The
panel met twice over the past few months, and it=92s report was published
Monday in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, a peer-reviewed
periodical published by the society Sturrock heads.

The panel heard from eight investigators from four countries. One of
them was Sturrock=92s former assistant, Jacques Vallee.

The panel did not conclude that the evidence shows we=92ve had visitors
from space, or that UFOs violate the known laws of physics. What the
scientists found, however, is that in some cases the physical evidence
=97 such as malfunctioning instruments aboard airplanes, burns on
"witnesses," damage to vegetation =97 is tangible enough to warrant
further investigation.

Qu'est-ce Que C'est?
That sounds reasonable, even to most non-believers, but here=92s the rub.
The subject is so distasteful to so many scientists that there=92s no
accepted procedure for dealing with such evidence.

One exception is France. In 1994 the crew of an airliner reported
seeing a giant disk, about half a mile wide, hovering over Paris.
Military air traffic controllers also saw it on radar. The phenomenon
was never fully explained.

The French space agency now has a program to handle such reports,
including the training of police officers and investigators on how to
collect evidence of UFOs.

Sturrock hopes to see that kind of a program expanded around the globe.
While most "evidence" consists of hearsay and conflicting reports, some
events do leave physical evidence =97 such as radar records =97 that could
be examined scientifically.

Von R. Eshleman, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at
Stanford, who co-chaired the panel, believes we could take a lesson
from radio astronomers who listen for signals from other civilizations,
the so-called Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Listening for Life
Eshleman says that nearly everyone who takes a turn listening to
signals collected by radio telescopes all over the world occasionally
hears something that cannot be explained. But unless that signal meets
specific standards =97 such as being repeated, or picked up by other
listeners =97 it=92s dismissed.

No such protocol exists for UFO sightings, and as a result everything
that is reported becomes "evidence," whether it warrants such treatment
or not.

A good scientific program would probably eliminate 99 percent of the
evidence, but the remaining evidence could be examined to see just what
we can learn from UFO sightings.

Is that evidence likely to point to an extraterrestrial origin for

Most scientists would say no, but Sturrock is a bit coy on the subject.

In interviews with reporters after the study was released, Sturrock
said life probably abounds throughout the universe, but "most
physicists believe it is quite impossible to travel from one star to

Most physicists? What about him?

All he=92s willing to say is let=92s take another look at the evidence.

OK, but no giggling.    

Science writer Lee Dye=92s column appears Wednesdays on ABCNEWS.com.  

*Scientist Proposes UFO Study
*The Roswell Report
*Lee Dye's Previous Columns
*SCIENCE HEADLINES added             

Web Links

*Journal of Scientific Exploration             

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*Carl Sagan on ET intelligence             


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