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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 23

Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 10:49:35 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 13:12:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

> From: RobIrving@aol.com
> Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 22:21:12 EDT
> To: updates@globalserve.net
> Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

Rob Irving castigates Mark Cashman:

> Firstly, I have no opinion on whether migraines account for
> UFO-type experiences (I've never had migraines), but it seems
> curious that you appear to so anxious to dismiss the idea without
> bothering to read up on it.

And, in the essay that started this delightful spat, John Harney
had written:

"I suggest that those who wish to argue about this subject
should read Dr Sacks's book first, if possible. Comments and
information are welcome, particularly from medically qualified

Trouble is, the two gentlemen are talking about different books.
Harney based his essay on Sacks's book on migraines, while Rob
wants Mark to rush off and read the touching five-page tribute
to Hildegard of Bingen in Sacks's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife
for a Hat."

Hildegard, a 12th century poet, mystic, and (let's not forget)
musician, is famous for her visions, which Sacks says are beyond
doubt "migrainous," though he gives no reason for saying so.
Because he gives no reason -- and above all because he's written
a separate, complete book on the subject -- his rather sweet
essay isn't much of a source for the effects of migraines. I
might add that most of it isn't about migraines at all, but
instead about his support of Hildegard's mysticism. Even if her
visions had a purely biological cause, he says, she made
something wonderful of them.

What's most important, though, is Rob's thorough
misunderstanding of exactly Mark said. Mark didn't dismiss the
idea that UFO experiences might possibly be caused by migraines.
He dismissed Harney's argument for that, which he thought was
unscientific in the extreme.

And now Rob comes along and says, "Lo! Do your reading! Read an
Oliver Sacks book that isn't even the one Harney cited in his
notes, and isn't even mentioned anywhere in Harney's essay!"

This ought to give Mark yet another skeptics' trait to cite,
next time he demolishes some skeptical thinking.

Very perceptively - amusingly, too - Mark had talked about a
charming habit of skeptics, their way of insisting that their
opponents find the scientific "descriptor." Skeptics, in other
words, sometimes put forth idle theories, like Harney's on
migraines. Harney, having read some UFO reports and a book on
migraines, essentially says "Whoa! Look at that! Some
similarities here, don't you think?"

What Mark points out is that Harney hasn't supplied the
descriptor - the traits that would take the discussion beyond
anecdotes, and precisely distinguish a visual experience caused
by migraines from one caused by something else. With such a
descriptor, we might establish not that UFO experiences MIGHT be
caused by migraines, but that they really are.

And in return, Harney's supporters prove Mark's point about
skeptics, by rushing in to say (in effect) "You say UFO
sightings can't be caused by migraines? (Which Mark didn't say,
of course.) You haven't proved that they're not!" In other
words, suddenly the burden of proof is on Mark, and his thorough
demolishing of Harney's logic is entirely ignored.

But Rob has now taken this to another level .Mark criticizes
Harney, saying his citations from Oliver Sacks don't prove his
point. Rob jumps in, saying "But you didn't read this OTHER
Sacks book," one Harney hadn't even mentioned. So it's not
enough for skeptics to ask Mark to find Harney's missing (and
crucial) descriptor. Now they want him to do Harney's research!

Laughing very hard,

Greg Sandow