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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 22

Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

From: Bruce Maccabee <brumac@compuserve.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 11:30:59 -0400
Fwd Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 12:17:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

>Subject: Why Migranes Don'T Explain UFOs
>From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
>Date: Sun, 19 Jul 1998 23:01:54 -0400
>To: updates@globalserve.net

>The hypothesis advanced in the recently posted Magonia claims
>that some close encounters may be the result of migrane or
>migrane-like phenomena, in keeping with the theory that UFOs are
>accounted for by the Misperception, Hallucination, and Hoax
>Hypothesis (MHH).

>The problem with the hypothesis is that the presented migrane
>case and the comparison UFO cases differ in significant aspects:


I can hardly add anything to Mark Cashman's "trenchant
discussion, some might say 'destruction'" of the MUH (Migraine
UFO Hypothesis).

(Historical note: the phrase "trenchant discusion, some might
say 'destruction' "was used by a skeptic to refer to a paper I
wrote about 10 years ago which was published in Appled Optics
magazine.) However, I would like to say that my mother back in
th 50's had migraine headaches, yet never once referred to a
close encounter type experience or a "sighting "of anything,
even though she knew that her mother had, in fact, claimed to
have seen not one, but two flying saucers in 1947.Grandma was
not having a headache at the time of her sighting in Greenfield,
Mass. Instead she was outside hanging up the laundry. She saw
two, round shiny objects from from the east and make a "right
angle turn"to the north. (A sighting from Greenfield is listed
in Bloecher's 1947 Wave book... reported by someone else)

>The author then draws a tenuous analogy between a crisp
>description of a UFO and another variant of a migrane
>"zig-zag"lines perceived as part of the migraine scotomata.
>Anyone with experience of this phenomenon knows that it is
>similar to enlarging the blind spot to slowly cover from the
>entire eye, and cannot be confused with "an object on a patch of
>soil in the garden which was wine red in colour and about the
>size of a drinks tray [which] remained on the ground for a few
>.minutes, then suddenly...took off, like a coin being
>flipped, and spun up into the air, revealing its underside with
>a series of reinforcements on the rim [and] then seemed to head
>for the window [where it] gave out a blue flash".

I have not had migraine headaches. However, I have had
"optical migraine"experiences.Nothing at all like a
"close encounter"or a "sighting".My mother told me that her
father also had them.... what he called "the z's"where images
took on a zigzag shape.

I must say the first time it happened I was startled and
worried. A tiny "light"came on at one point in my visual field
and then this "light"grew in size.If I could characterise a
color it was pale yellow, and it OVERLAYED everything a looked
at. My immediate reaction was to lose my eyes to see if I was
seeing a light from somewhere....although I couldn't imagine
where.....since I was inside my house at the time. The "give
away" that this wasn't some weird UFO sighting was that when I
closed my eyes and turned my eyeballs back and forth it was
STILL THERE!. (Of course, I must admit that the idea of a UFO
sighting never even crossed my mind. (Of course) the MHH hadn't
been invented yet, so I wasn't prepared to concentrate on
UFO-like aspects of this "experience.")

This "light"or "glow"grew to nearly cover my field of view and
then faded. This took a "long time", maybe a minute (you know,
like the really good UFO sightings), during which I was in a
state of....apprehension, shall we say...wondering if I was
going blind. After it was all over my vision was normal.At no t
me had I felt any pain.

That was some 20 years ago.Since then I had a couple of episodes
of the loss of central vision with a wierd zig-zag shaped
"pattern"of faint "light" in my eyes that grows from the central
vision outwards toward one side of my field of view.This
happened once when I was recovering from sedation in a hospital.

Believe me, it is weird when suddenly you can't see "straight
ahead."Try reading words on a page when you can see the
letter(s) at the beginning and at the end of a word...b  t n  t
t e  le  rs i  t  e mi  e. (for those of you who can't decode
optical migraine "visions", the words are "but not the letters
in the middle")

Anyway, I appreciate the inventor - some might say perpetrator -
of the MHH for giving me the opportunity to place my UMO
(unidentified migraine object) on the record.

>Now, science requires the following:

>1.Observe something which needs explaining (the observation).

>2.Formulate a mechanism which explains it (the hypothesis).

This is what I would call the creation of Candidate Explanatory
Hypotheses (CEP) based on the rough comparison of th
characteristics reported for the "UFO"and the known
characteristics of some natural or manmade phenpomena

>3.Determine characteristics which differentiate an observation
>consistent with the hypothesis from one which is inconsistent
>with the hypothesis (the differentiator).

Make an accurate comparison between reported characteristics
and those of the CEP.

> 4.Formulate an
>experiment or an observation which will identify if the
>differentiator is present.

Try to narrow down on the best-fitting CEP.

>5.Perform the experiment or observation.

Determine which is the best CEP or if all fail upon careful
analysis (skeptics fail at this step)

>6.Record and publish the results for comment and attempted
>reproduction by others. If the differentiator is confirmed, then
.>the hypothesis may be considered correct, otherwise it is
>considered incorrect.

>The author of the Magonia article put forward 1 and 2, but fails
>to perform 3, 4, and 5. That being the case, 6 is moot, and the
>Magonia article is not science. It is no better than what many
>call "pseudoscience". In fact, the contrast of the MHH
>explanations with science is clear, since MHH explanations seem
>to operate as follows:>

>1. Select an isolated aspect of the UFO phenomenon. Ignore all
>.of the rest of the data. Ignore any cross phenomenon patterns.

typical skeptic/debunker "trick"

>2. Find any natural, medical or optical phenomenon that bears
>even a tiny resemblance to the isolated aspect.

Create CEP which have only one characteristic (or none?) in
common with the reported UFO.This greatly enlarges the number of
"possible"explanations - consistent with Debunker Rule #2 below

>3. Claim that the vague resemblance demonstrates that the
>explanation must be true for at least some subset of UFO

>4. Do not provide any discriminator. Require opponents to do so.
>Evade any discriminators or results which tend to discredit the

Yes.... skeptics leave it up to "believers"to apply the
scientific method to their hypotheses  (as I have done with
Menzel's explanations in my "Still In Default"paper)

>5. If any explanation is discredited, claim it applies to some
>other case, or that some variation on the explanation works, or
>switch to a completely different explanation and maintain that
t>he original explanation was never intended to apply to the
>specific case, but that some other one does, and that the
>proposed explanation applies to other cases.

>The weakest part of these sort of "explanations"is the need to
>have a wide variety of physical, optical, psychological and
>medical phenomena produce an observable result which has a
>fairly uniform appearance and behavior with widespread patterns
>across demographic and cultural groups (not to mention
>photographs, physical traces, and medical traces, which are also
>reasonably uniform). Why should migranes, mirages, delusions,
>and hoaxes all produce UFOs - and, more importantly, the same
>kind of UFOs? The obvious answer is - they don't. We'll have to
l>ook deeper than the superficial MHH for answers to UFOs.

It should be evident from the above discussion that Mark Cashman
is one of the clearest thinkers in this UFO 'business'. In
outlining the scientific method and then comparing it with what
the skeptics do he has presented in detail what I have claimed
for years: "skeptics fail to test their hypotheses".

There is not much I could add to what Cashman has written except
I would add the following to his second list:

5b) If the first explanation seems unconvincing (or you get
minor complaints from the "straight"scientific community) then
propose another.

6) (Maccabee's Second Rule of Debunking:) the more explanations
proposed the more likely it is that the sighting can be
explained and the more convincing will it appear to the outside
world that the sighting can be or has been  explained.

(Note:  Maccabee's First Rule of Debunking: any explanation is
better than none. Naturally, the application of the first rule
allows the debunker to create at least one explanation, no
matter how "hokey", i.e., no matter how tenuous is the
connection between the observed phenomenon and the proposed CEP.

The second rule (above) allows for the creation of explanations
galore, and they pop up like mushrooms in the rain. As Mark well
knows, the first Grand Applicator of these rules... some 25
years before I formulated them.... was Dr. Donald Menzel who, in
his later and wiser years, made a list of possible UFOs which
included, if I recall correctly, dust in the atmosphere,
lightning, tornados, bugs... you name it. _Anything_ could be a
UFO. PJK has also applied these rules on occasion. And,
apparently the MHH author is also aware of them.)