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CSICOP Responds to SSE UFO Report

From: Geoff G. Dittman <umdittm0@cc.UManitoba.CA>
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 17:04:01 -0500 (CDT)
Fwd Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 18:49:51 -0400
Subject: CSICOP Responds to SSE UFO Report

___________________________________

Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 15:23:11 EDT
From: SkeptInq@aol.com
Reply to: CSICOP Announcement <CSICOP-ANNOUNCE@LISTSERV.AOL.COM>
To: CSICOP-ANNOUNCE@LISTSERV.AOL.COM
Subject: CSICOP Responds to SSE UFO Report

July 6, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Matthew Nisbet 716-636-1425 x 219
SINISBET@aol.com
http://www.csicop.org/">http://www.csicop.org/

The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the
Paranormal (CSICOP) Responds to the Recent UFO Report Sponsored
by the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE)


AMHERST, NEW YORK - In a statement issued today, members of the
international Committee for the Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) responded to recent
recommendations on UFOs released on June 29, 1998 by the Society
for Scientific Exploration (SSE.)

Background:

A panel of SSE-selected scientists, after reviewing evidence
presented by SSE-selected UFO investigators, concluded that
although none of the physical evidence "points to violation of
known natural laws or the involvement of an extraterrestrial
intelligence," it may "be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO
reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently
unknown to science." The report recommends that institutional
support be given to UFO investigation and research. Prompted by
these findings, in the days following the release of the report,
some in the UFO community have renewed calls for Congressional
hearings on UFO phenomena.

Statements:

Paul Kurtz
CSICOP founder and chair, Professor Emeritus, SUNY at Buffalo.

"Why is this news? The observation that some things sighted in
the sky are unknown and merit further investigation is not a new
revelation. We are committed to an open-minded and inquiry into
any responsible paranormal claims. CSICOP has encouraged UFO
research for more than two decades, and has published the
results of rigorous UFO investigations. Some cases do remain
unexplained. But that we should now devote government resources
to further research is questionable. In our view, the government
should not divert funds and time from other more fruitful
scientific projects. Given limited resources for scientific
research, the evidence to date regarding UFOs does not merit
such strong attention. The idea that we should devote the
business of the United States Congress to hearings on UFOs
borders on the ridiculous.

"The release of the report appears well-timed to gain publicity
for the SSE and their claims. It occurs a week after the release
of the X-Files movie and during the week of Fourth of July when
news is slow."

Philip J. Klass
CSICOP fellow, Senior Editor with Aviation Week and Space
Technology magazine, leading UFO investigator and author.

The SSE recommends the creation of government funded UFO
research projects like the one called GEPAN (Groupe D'Etudes des
Phenomenes Aerospatiaux Non-identifies), created in 1977 by
France which reported to the highly respected French space
agency - CNES. In 1988, after more than a decade of UFO
investigations, GEPAN's budget was drastically reduced, its
mission was refocused to emphasize collecting reports of
reentering satellite debris and meteorites, and its name was
changed to SEPRA (Service d' Expertise desPhenomenes des
Rentrees Atmospheriques).

"During GEPAN's 11-year research effort, its most impressive UFO
case involved a peasant living in Trans-en-Provence who claimed
a strange craft hovered over his yard in broad daylight. GEPAN
strongly endorsed the caseb ased on its investigation into
alleged UFO-caused effects on nearby plants,which GEPAN/SEPRA
director Jean-Jacques Velasco described to the SSE's panel of
experts. Velasco did not inform the SSE panel of scientists that
a recent investigation by a pro-UFO French investigator - Eric
Maillot - indicates that the Trans-en-Provence case is a hoax.

"It is unfortunate that the SSE did not assemble a more balanced
roster of UFO investigators to present evidence to the panel of
scientists. The whole evaluation process appears suspiciously
weighted to one side of the UFO debate."

Kendrick Frazier
Editor of Skeptical Inquirer: The Magazine for Science and
Reason and CSICOP fellow.

"There's really nothing new in the report. I have serious doubts
there is any real scientific paydirt in the UFO question, not
the kind that merits taxpayer money being spent. The JSE, while
presented as neutral and objective, appears to hold a hidden
agenda. They seem to be interested in promoting fringe topics as
real mysteries and they tend to ignore most evidence to the
contrary. They publish 'scholarly' articles promoting the
reality of dowsing, neo-astrology, ESP, and psychokinesis. Most
of the prominent and active members are strong believers in the
reality of such phenomena. I have no objections to the
scientific panel that reviewed the UFO testimony for the study.
But the eight people who provided the testimony and evidence are
all strong UFO proponents and believers. They have been
promoting the UFO cause for decades. There are no skeptical
researchers among them. This is very curious if one is to
contend this is some kind of balanced assessment."

#30#


CSICOP is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to
the critical examination and investigation of claims of the
paranormal and fringe science. Founded in 1976, CSICOP is always
receptive to departures in thought, yet insists that they be tested
before they are accepted. CSICOP maintains anetwork of distinguished
scientists and academics that includes five Nobel laureates,
Jill Tarter, Marvin Minsky, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Dawkins.
The bi-monthly journal the Skeptical Inquirer: The Magazine for
Science AndReason, is the main forum for publication of these
inquiries. Both CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer are based at the
Center for Inquiry, Amherst N.Y.


Related Internet Links:

JSE Press Release and UFO Report
http://www.jse.com/PR_UFO_98.html
http://www.msnbc.com/news/176561.asp

MSNBC.com article
http://www.msnbc.com/news/176561.asp


ABCnews.com article
http://www.abcnews.com/sections/science/DailyNews/ufo_980629.html

Washington Post article
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/digest/nat3.htm