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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 17

The 'Society For Scientific Exploration' On

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 03:31:43 +0200
Fwd Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 09:15:40 -0400
Subject: The 'Society For Scientific Exploration' On

URL:

http://www.jse.com/skeptics.html


The Journal for Scientific Exploration is published by the Society for
Scientific Exploration which recently argued that some UFO phenomena
need to be taken seriously by scientists.

Stig


*******

BE SKEPTICAL OF THE "SKEPTICS"

(A commentary by Bernhard Haisch, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of
Scientific Exploration)


If seeking publicity for the Society had been the purpose of
publishing the Sturrock-Rockefeller UFO Report, one could take
comfort in the observation of Oscar Wilde: "The only thing worse
than being talked about... is not being talked about." Let the
critics and self-proclaimed skeptics scoff and ridicule... just
so long as they manage to get the SSE website straight. But
publicity was never the purpose. The real purposes were
advancing science and serving a public eager for credible
information.

The San Francisco Chronicle summarized the situation well in an
editorial: "The panel chided fellow scientists for shying away
from UFOlogy, fearing the ridicule of their colleagues. As a
result, 'the problem is in a very unsatisfactory state of
ignorance and confusion' the panel said. With more than 60
percent of the American public open-minded and curious about
UFO's and space aliens, scientists may never have a better
chance to get funding for such research. They should go for it."

The Sturrock-Rockefeller UFO Report is marked by restraint and
conservatism. It makes no claims other than that science owes it
to itself and the public to not simply dismiss UFO reports out
of hand. It concludes without pretense by stating: "The UFO
problem is very complex and it is quite impossible to predict
what might emerge from research into this area." It states
explicitly that the scientists on the panel found no evidence
for the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence in the
reports presented to them. It urges further scientific
investigation.

A skeptic is one who adheres to the conviction that true
knowledge may be uncertain, who suspends judgement, and who is
willing to examine new evidence. By this definition, the Report
is one of true skepticism.

On the other hand the self-proclaimed skeptics attempting to
discredit the Report and the Society are not skeptics by this
dictionary definition. Their critiques virtually all consist of
scoffing, ridicule, ad hominem attacks, and the amazing claim
that their dogmatic beliefs that certain things are impossible
necessarily constitute laws of nature. It is a modern replay of
the cardinals refusing to look through Galileo's telescope
because truth has already been revealed to them. Interestingly
many of the vocal skeptics are not themselves practicing
scientists.

The ridiculing posture of the skeptical comments is
self-evident. Consider the embarrassingly crude New York Post
caricature of the Report: "And the case for little green men
making landings all over the farm belt in order to kidnap and
then have unusual sex with random hicks in pickup trucks is even
more ridiculous."

Ad hominem attacks are cropping up. One magazine somehow twisted
serious work --published in prestigious physics journals -- on
the quantum vacuum by one physicist involved in the workshop
into the absurd claim that he "designs perpetual motion
machines." In fact, this scientist has actually tested and
debunked a dozen of the "free energy" devices widely touted on
the internet.

The "nutty professor" innuendo has been directed at the panel
director. Never mind that he won the 1986 Hale Prize in Solar
Physics from the American Astronomical Society, the Arctowski
medal in 1990 from the National Academy of Sciences, and the
1992 Space Sciences Award from the 40000 member American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for his "major
contribution to the fields of geophysics, solar physics and
astrophysics, leadership in the space science community, and
dedication to the pursuit of knowledge."

Moving beyond ridicule and innuendo, some of the following
seemingly serious arguments have also been advanced.


* According to CSICOP "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." But in fact the
timing of the release simply followed the standard Journal
publication schedule. The Report appeared in the first available
issue following its completion. This was the same as the
previous several years' publication schedule for the June issue
of the Journal.

* Funding UFO research is predicted to damage mainstream
science. Hardly. The total federal civilian research budget is
approximately $35 billion. A mere 0.01 percent of that amount
would be more than enough to begin to make progress.

* The Journal is said to advocate such New Age concepts as
reincarnation. In reality the articles published on such topics
are not New Age speculation and metaphysics. Rather they have
been scientific detective work involving such hard evidence as
searching medical records of death wounds on one individual for
possible correlation with birthmarks on an individual claiming
to remember that previous life. The data are presented and
analyzed in scientific fashion without claiming any proof of
reincarnation. Similar treatment is given to other topics whose
titles are sometimes given a giggle spin by the "skeptics."
(Interestingly this same sort of ridiculing of topics used to
infuriate the scientific community when Sen. Proxmire used these
tactics in his "Golden Fleece Awards" to attack the National
Science Foundation.)

The most frequent "skeptical" argument, of course, is that there
is "not a shred of evidence" and that UFO claims were long ago
carefully and open-mindedly examined and rejected in the Condon
Report. What the "skeptics" either never bothered to read or
choose to ignore is that there is substantial evidence in the
roughly 1000-page body of that report itself and Condon's
dismissive summary bears hardly any relation to what the rest of
the report says. Condon's aim was to put an end to serious UFO
investigation, and that is how he slanted his summary, never
mind what was in the actual report. Indeed the rest of the
Condon report contains substantial "shreds of evidence." An
analysis of the Condon Report by Sturrock was published in Vol.
1. of JSE and will be posted on the web shortly.


Cut through the ridicule and search for factual information in
most of the skeptical commentary and one is usually left with
nothing. This is not surprising. After all, how can one
rationally object to a call for scientific examination of
evidence?

Be skeptical of the "skeptics."