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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 6

Re: 'She Blinded Me with Science'

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998 16:04:00 EDT
Fwd Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 08:55:12 -0400
Subject: Re: 'She Blinded Me with Science'


> To: "UFO UpDates - Toronto" <updates@globalserve.net>
>  From: "Jerome Clark" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>  Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: 'She Blinded Me with Science'
>  Date: Thu, 02 Jul 98 10:26:38 PDT

Jerry,

>  Let me put it this way:  Answer yes or no:  A reasonable
>  person, without recourse to mere belief (i.e., faith), can
>  look at the UFO evidence and see -- rightly or wrongly --
>  ossible evidence of extraterrestrial visitation.  A
>  yes answer will get you an apology from me.

I would be alarmed if no-one were looking at whatever evidence
exists with an eye to ET as a possible cause. In that sense, I
see the ETH as viable, just as I see the PSH as viable. My
recoil from the ETH stems from over-exposure to those who pay
lip-service to the word 'hypothesis' while spouting off in terms
that proof, or *hard* evidence is an accepted given, or even
invoking Occam's Razor in a vain 'scientific' attempt to justify
it.

Granted, I've never heard Michael Hesemann use the term 'ETH',
but I've seen others of his ilk use it, as if by couching their
beliefs in scientific terms it gives them credence. All I'm
asking here is at which point along the continuum between
acceptance and denial is the ETH currently *enjoying* its
existence.

Note the emphasis on 'enjoying'. By this I mean that judging by
the amount of books, videos, etc, on the market one could be
forgiven for thinking that ufologists see science - if they
genuinely care for it at all - as being decided by general
consensus (the more people believing it the better) - a rather
old-fashioned viewpoint that leads us into the exact same
problems of reasonable acceptance we've been discussing here,
albeit from the other side of convention.

The way your question is worded places the ETH firmly on middle
ground, and I have no problem with that, so I guess my answer is
"yes" - no need to apologise. But naturally I have
reservations...

Furthermore, I don't see the PSH as being in total opposition to
the ETH, as you seem to when you equate it with mere
'debunking'. It makes me wonder about your own prejudice when
you say this, as well as reaffirming the feeling I have that a
majority of ETHers are pathological either/orists. None of the
people I know who are tagged 'debunkers' seem particularly
worried by the notion of ET landing on the White House lawn so
long as it actually happened as reported; that it wasn't just
another story with no evidence.

By the casual out-of-hand dismissal of the possible
psychological and social aspects of the UFO phenomenon, it
appears to me that you are resorting to the same level of denial
that you accuse your opponents of. Perhaps it's just a debating
technique but I certainly wouldn't place you in any top ten list
of most tolerant of ambiguity. I suspect that you have seen the
phrase, liked the sound of it and invested yourself with the
title. Worse, you think you live up to it.

That said, I agree that the most extreme UFO 'sceptics' can be
just as ridiculous in their denial as the most ardent UFO-as-ET
believer -- to me they are just different sides of the same
coin. As Aristotle said, there is nothing between asserting and
denying.

Rather like tug o'war, once that middle ground is established
I'll be as interested in which way the strength of evidence
pulls as any member of the crowd - although, being English, and
therefore not to be trusted in a crowd, you might catch me
putting my fist in the face of the man on the Clapham omnibus at
any sign of uncritical judgement on his part.

> There are several major papers refuting Festinger, whose
> theories have failed replication. (You might say, I guess, that
> Festinger's prophecies have failed.) As one critic writes, in
> the course of showing why ideas like Festinger's are simplistic
> and reductionistic, "As scholars we should approach religious
> groups as phenomena to be observed and understood in
> their own complexity, with at least as much respect for the
> complexity and integrity of our subject matter as a biologist
> or a physicist has for the phenomena of nature."

I'd like to see these papers. From the way you talk of one might
assume that all his ideas have been refuted. I'm not convinced
of that. It seems a rather convenient way of avoiding revealing
insights. I can cite a number of instances within ufology which
mirror Festinger's ideas.

> I'll ask my publisher to send you a review set if you get
> the answer right. What can you offer in return, if you
> get it wrong?

Dunno. I'm easy. But you didn't answer my question: You
initially stated that Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance
has been "pretty well challenged" by sociologists of religion.
That's a broad statement considering how little of the theory is
directly related to religion. Are you sure you don't mean the
derivative discussed in 'When Prophesy Fails' concerning
disconfirmation & proselytism?

It's an important distinction, which I would like to hear you
explain before I simply accept your wave-of-the-hand dismissal.
It would also put your question in context, which is why I
asked.

> > Don't like Deutsch? Historian Felipe Fenandez-Armesto says much
> > the same thing: '... trustworthy conclusions cannot be based on
> > unverified premisses'.
>
> Quite. I hope he spelled "premises" right, though.

He did, as do you -- both are right. Check the dictionary.

Rob