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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 15

Re: Sturrock Panel

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 10:42:24 -0400
Fwd Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 14:44:35 -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>

> Regarding...

> >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".

[I've also posted this to the Project 1947 list.]

James,

Quite frankly, you're talking nonsense. I suspect you've only read
media accounts of the Sturrock panel, and haven't read the complete
report.

Or if you've read it, you haven't grasped what you've read. You may
draw any conclusions you like, but the scientists on the panel don't
agree with you.

Here are some relevant excerpts:

First, from Sturrock's introduction, clearly setting forth the
purposes and limitations of the study you are misrepresenting:

"[T]he fact is that physical scientists cannot get involved in
the UFO problem unless there is physical evidence. The purpose of
this workshop was to assess whether or not there is any such
evidence. If the answer is no, then there is no way that physical
scientists can contribute to the resolution of this problem. If,
on the other hand, the answer is yes, then it should be possible
for physical scientists to contribute to the resolution of this
problem.

"It should perhaps be stressed that it would be unreasonable to
ask a panel of nine scientists, meeting for only a few days, to
do much more than make a preliminary assessment of some limited
category of evidence related to this complex and controversial
topic. It would certainly be highly unreasonable to expect such
a panel to solve, in only a few days, a problem that has
remained unsolved for fifty years. Science advances by the
development of an informed consensus on well defined questions
(see, for instance, Ziman, 1968), but scientists can arrive at
an informed consensus only if (1) sufficient research has been
carried out, and (2) the results of that research have been
presented to and evaluated by the scientific community. For the
UFO problem, these first  two essential steps have yet to be
taken."

>From Eshelman's summary of the panel's work and conclusions:

"The participants addressed the problem of understanding the
cause or causes of UFO reports, which have continued worldwide
for at least 50 years. The investigators were asked to present
their strongest data to the review panel. The thrust of these
presentations was that at least some of the phenomena are not
easily explainable. The panel focused on incidents involving
some form of physical evidence, with clear recognition of the
dangers of relying wholly on the testimony of witnesses and of
the importance of physical measurements for distinguishing among
hypotheses.

"It may be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract
information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to
science. However, to be credible to the scientific community,
such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity
and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses. "

And:

"The panel concluded that further analysis of the evidence
presented at the workshop is unlikely to elucidate the cause or
causes of the reports. However, the panel considers that new
data, scientifically acquired and analyzed (especially of well
documented, recurrent events), could yield useful information.
In this case, physical scientists would have an opportunity to
contribute to the resolution of the UFO problem."

Note this phrase: "further analysis of the evidence presented at
the workshop." In other words, a certain limited amount of data
was presented at the workshop, from which preliminary
conclusions were drawn. One conclusion was in the phrase you've
quotated ad nauseum: "The review panel was not convinced that
any of the evidence involved currently unknown physical
processes or pointed to the involvement of an extraterrestrial
intelligence."

That refers only to the evidence presented to the workshop. The
panel concluded -- precisely in the spirit of Sturrock's
introduction -- that much more study is needed, because nothing
more can be determined from the evidence presented at the
workshop. Only after far more study of much more data can any
conclusions be drawn -- and "rival hypotheses" be evaluated.

Note once more that the entire thrust of the report is on the
need for further study. The purpose of the workshop was not to
evaluate rival hypotheses. It was to determine whether further
study was needed. The answer to that question, in the panel's
opinion, was "yes." When further study is, in fact, implemented
(according to detailed suggestions appended at the end), then,
quoting once more:

"Such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity
and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses. "

Note also the following, from Sturrock's recommendations for
implementation of the panel's findings:

"The UFO problem is very complex and it is quite impossible to
predict what might emerge from research into this area. But the
same is true of any really innovative and exciting area of
scientific research. As the panel remarked "Whenever there are
unexplained observations, there is the possibility that
scientists will learn something new by studying those
observations." What is learned may bear no relation to the
concepts that were entertained when the research was undertaken.
We venture to hope that more scientists will take an interest in
this curious subject so that there will be more progress in the
second half century than there has been in the first half
century. There could hardly be less"

Note this phrase: ""It is quite impossible to predict what might
emerge from research into this area."

The ETH is not excluded.

(Thanks to Jean-Luc Rivera, who downloaded the separate parts of
the report, combined them into a single file, and kindly
e-mailed it to me.)

Greg Sandow