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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 10

Re: 'She Blinded Me with Science'

From: "Jerome Clark" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 98 11:56:02 PDT
Fwd Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 13:54:41 -0400
Subject: Re: 'She Blinded Me with Science'

> From: RobIrving@aol.com
> Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 23:01:58 EDT
> To: updates@globalserve.net
> Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: 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: Tue, 07 Jul 98 09:23:03 PDT

> Jerry,

> >Rob, I confess that I don't understand much of the above.

> Let me explain. Earlier you informed us that "Festinger's ideas
> about cognitive dissonance have been pretty well challenged in
> the sociology of religion literature". I assumed from this that
> you were familiar with his ideas on cognitive dissonance. It's a
> fair assumption, I feel, because you were responding to my
> reference to Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance.

> Evidently you are not familiar with it at all, and seem to
> believe that his earlier co-authored study 'When Prophesy Fails'
> is the theory. In fact it was merely a derivative of it,

Oh my, I think we're talking about two different things here. I
am, of course, well aware of what cognitive dissonance is. What
I thought we were talking about is Festinger's involvement in
the study of prophetic saucer groups. I have little interest in
Festinger beyond When Prophecy Fails, not only because it deals
with a subject of concern to me but also because I have a good
friend who's a scholar in this area, and who told me long ago
that Festinger's ideas have been challenged. He even wrote a
paper which was published in the scholarly literature some years
ago. His paper references others, copies of which I either have
or am obtaining.

> Before everyone accepted your claim that Festinger's theory -
> which I believe in the main is quite relevant to this
> discussion, and to ufology in general - had been successfully
> challenged, and therefore easily dismissed, I thought that it
> was important to establish that you were misinforming us.

My impression all along has been that you are using Festinger
simply as a stick with which to beat all who are interested in
UFOs, and I do not recall your even responding to my complaint
that you lump everybody together. So let me try one more time:

Do you see any significant difference between, say, Dorothy
Martin and Isabel Davis?

> Aside from all this I'm wary of your dismissal anyway. Popper
> has been "pretty well challenged" by sociologists of science, as
> have all other philosophers of science at some time... So? Your
> dismissal suggests there is no value to be found in WPF.

I specifically stated that When Prophecy Fails is a good book
well worth reading, even if there is at least one staggering and
embarrassing historical error in it. As I have stated
repeatedly, this error touches directly on the thesis the book
is advancing. Therefore, Prophecy ought to be read not as a
final word on the dynamics of apocalyptic movements but as a
great story about one specific group at one specific time. It is
the lessons that Festinger, et al., draw that need to be treated
with a healthy degree of skepticism. It is also necessary to
know, as practically nobody who's written on that book knows
(including you, I suspect), that the story chronicled in that
book did not end in early 1955. I have a forthcoming Fortean
Times piece telling some of the rest of it.

> Debunkers are often accused of 'throwing the baby out with the
> bathwater' but aren't you doing just that? Just as parallels can
> be found in ufology to Festinger's theory of CD, they can be
> found to WPF.

See my words immediately above. In any event, I don't see any
lessons for, or parallels to, ufology in Festinger's book, which
isn't about ufology at all. It's about a saucerian group
oriented toward the contactee message and occult doctrine. The
fact that you seem to think this is the same as ufology only
confirms, alas, my suspicions about your approach.

> Nor am I an expert on any secret histories of the Sabbatai or
> the Millerite movement.

Neither am I.

> My best guess is that you're referring
> to the authors' inclusion of immediate events post-Crucifixion.



Jerry Clark