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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 13

Re: Sturrock Panel

From: Steven Kaeser <steve@konsulting.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 08:57:26 -0400
Fwd Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 09:34:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Sturrock Panel

>Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 23:58:50 -0400
>From: James Easton <pulsar@compuserve.com>
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: Sturrock Panel
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>


>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Sturrock Panel
>>Date: Sun, 05 Jul 98 09:54:18 PDT

>Jerry wrote:

>>The Sturrock panel got to listen to some of the best evidence from
>>some of the best UFO investigators and researchers alive today.

>As you appreciate, that's a subjective opinion, especially on
>what constitutes 'best evidence'.

>However, if this was a 'best shot', isn't it a damning
>indictment of the 'extraterrestrial hypothesis' when Prof.
>Sturrock writes:

>"Concerning the case material presented by the investigators,
>the panel concluded that a few reported incidents may have
>involved rare but significant phenomena such as electrical
>activity, but there was no convincing evidence pointing to
>unknown physical processes or to the involvement of
>extraterrestrial intelligence".


>To reiterate, the panel agreed that a few incidents may involve
>known 'electrical phenomena', whilst others could not be
>explained 'in this fashion'.

>You seem to be implying that the natural 'failure' to resolve
>every single claimed anomalous sighting or incident, is itself
>almost tantamount to proof these can not be explained as
>anything other than evidence of an extraterrestrial contact.

>Would you disagree that the voluminous evidence which _has_ been
>explained, whether as misidentifications, hoaxes, proven
>unreliable, inaccurate, exaggerated or untrue testimonies, etc.,
>indicates the probability of comparative explanations where none
>has been proven?


The statement you make in that last paragraph is (IMHO)
accurate, but perhaps overstated. You appear to have used
different words to describe the same circumstance, which perhaps
shows a bias in the statement..... <g> But that's okay, since I
think most of us come to this debate with an agenda that we
often try to ignore and sometimes deny (no implicatioin

I would certainly agree, and I think that most others would as
well, that a vast majority of the UFO sightings that have been
investigated have been explained as natural phenomemna, or as
misidentifications of know objects. I would include in that last
grouping the "hoaxes" and "untrue testimonies" you mentioned
because that requires an interpretation of motive.

>The 'Sturrock panel' was of course no more than a workshop,
>however, it has been reported as a 'scientific study', for
>example, here in the UK, the BBC featured the story and claimed:

>'UFOs mystify scientists'

>"The first independent scientific study of UFO sightings in
>almost 30 years has concluded that some cases merit further

Your comment and the BBC statement are both accurate. But, it's
significant in that this is the first panel of scientists to
review the evidence at all to determine if there is indeed any
need for further investigation, and they found that there was.
Your emphasis of the "rare electrical phenomenon" is interesting
as a possible explanation for some of the reports, but that
merely underscores how much we have to learn and I sense some
reluctance in allowing the ETI explanation to be included among
the "possibles" for those that remain.

>>>What exactly are you hoping for?

>>A thorough scientific study or, better, a whole bunch of 'em.
>>Aren't you?

>Can't say I had considered it ever being a realistic possibility
>and I doubt the 'Sturrock panel' will prove to be even a
>tentative step towards that.

I would have to disagree. I think it is a positive step in the
right direction, but only a limited one. The impact so far as
been a positive reaction by many in the media that had given the
subject scant recognition for many years. The Science Editor for
the Washington Post wrote a very good article on the group's
findings, and similar stories were carried in many other major
papers throughout the US. I'm not expecting any great
investigative follow-up at this point, but a group of scientists
took a position that there are phenomena being reported for
which we have no known explanation, and major media outlets were
willing to report that fact. I find this significant.

>You didn't respond to a question I asked, i.e., should a
>'thorough scientific study' include, say, research into...

>'abductions by aliens'
>'alien implants'
>'crop circles'
>the 'Gulf Breeze' photographs
>the 'alien autopsy' footage
>'cattle mutilations'
>various anomalies caught on film during Space Shuttle missions
>the 'face on Mars'


>These contentious issues and similar are, after all, the essence
>of 'ufology'.

>They feature evidence which can, and in many circumstances has,
>been subjected to a scientific study. However, would
>'mainstream' science see any one of these subjects as meriting a
>more thorough, ongoing program of scientific research?

>Or would the very idea that time and funds be allocated to them
>be an anathema to most scientists, if not provoking outrage.

>The answer has been evident.

Yes it has, and I'm not sure that the "Sturrock" report will
change human nature in regard to the need for funding to pay for
such research. Many of the items you listed have been
investigated by a number of scientists, and the results have
been at times controversial. Since most research is being
performed for the purpose of defense or economic gain, there is
little funding left over for what many would consider to be a
"fringe" science. Those using known bureaucratic methods will
freely utilize descriptive words and phrases to ridecule those
who would suggest that such research be undertaken. Again, the
general public may be able to help if they encourage such
research, which could be facilitated through the media coverage,
but that is not yet a factor.

>So, where do you see the data coming from that would change this
>perception and be deemed worthy of those 'whole bunch' of
>scientific studies?

>What case evidence would you like to see mainstream scientists,
>of which the 'Sturrock panel' appears to have been a
>particularly fair representation, evaluate?

>Bearing in mind of course, that the purported 'best cases' which
>that panel considered and which you believe to be "some of the
>best evidence", was determined to offer "no convincing evidence
>pointing to unknown physical processes or to the involvement of
>extraterrestrial intelligence".

This was discussed among several researchers last weekend, and
the question was raised as to where such information could be
submitted. To be honest, I think that you'll see quite a bit of
information submitted to any panel that sets itself of as a
repository for the purpose of evaluation and investigation into
such "unknowns". The information you see on the Internet
regarding this genre is not representative of the vast amount of
data and research that has been underway for the past 50 years,
and there are numerous projects underway in the background that
you rarely hear about to collect and correlate the data.

Let's face it. If there was a "Best Case" that proved anything
beyond a shadow of doubt, the debate would be all over and we
could go on to the next controversy. However, every "best case"
I have seen has proven to be inconclusive in some way. Since
much of the evidence is anecdotal, that often gives both sides
in this debate a lot of room for discussion, but that isn't the
case with many "Trace Case" and "Radar Case" investigations. I
haven't seen the full "Sturrock" panel's report, so I'm not sure
what cases they were shown.

But, IMHO, there will be no shortage of good material for a
scientific inquiry, and the SSE's report will help to reduce the
"giggle" factor that has so often been a problem.

Steve Kaeser