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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 24

Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 00:08:52 -0400
Fwd Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 00:24:40 -0400
Subject: Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs

>Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 18:31:34 +0100
>To: updates@globalserve.net
>From: John Rimmer <j_rimmer@library.croydon.gov.uk>
>Subject: Migraines and UFOs

>>From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
>>Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 11:33:12 -0400
>>Subject: Re: Why Migraines Don't Explain UFOs
>>To: updates@globalserve.net

>For the benefit of a number of people on this list, may I
>repeat: John Harney is _not_ proposing a universal theory of UFO
>origin, merely suggesting that _some_ otherwise puzzling UFO
>report might be explained by some of the medical symptoms of

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this sort of thing. I can't
think of anyone who misunderstood the degree to which Mr. Harney
attempted to apply his explanation. For that matter, I put several
paragraphs of analysis as to why that was a problem - specifically
those paragraphs referring to the burden shouldered by those
who claim that wildly dissimilar causes generate a similar
phenomenon - UFOs. Perhaps Mr. Rimmer failed to read
that material.

>Cashman seems curiously over-eager to discount the possibility
>that _any_ UFO reports could be the result of migraine, to the
>extent of refusing to read the only easily accessible book on
>the topic.

It is not "curiously over-eager to discount the possibility" to
point out what scientific rigor requires of the hypothesizer.
That burden was not met by the author of the hypothesis. I don't
need to know anything about migranes to know when someone isn't
following the scientific method. I provided several paragraphs
of methodological critique addressing that very point, but
apparently the only part which was read by Mr. Rimmer (or Mr.
Irving), was the part where I said I wasn't going to bother to
read the book.

I would appreciate it if, in the future, those who think my
criticism was too harsh or was inappropriate would demonstrate
how the article's hypothesis was formulated in accordance with
commonly accepted scientific principles, since I have clearly
demonstrated that it was not.

>He is keen to point out all the things an investigator should do
>to prove a linkage between UFO experiences and migraine:

No, I am keen to point out what is required of anyone who makes
the claim that _any_ UFO report is caused by migrane if they
wish their claim to be taken seriously. Perhaps things work
differently in whatever community Magonia is presented, but in
the scientific community, certain things are required when a
hypothesis is advanced. See my original message for details on
what those things are.

>I agree, but Sacks' book suggests that this might not be as easy
>to find out as Cashman thinks.

The hypothesis should not have been advanced if no
substantiation exists.

>Perhaps he _should_ read the book
>after all. He'd be very scathing if I said I wouldn't read any
>astronomy textbooks because I'd already decided the topic had
>nothing to do with UFOs.

Actually, I'd only be scathing if you refused to read UFO books.

I'll only care about your astronomical reading habits when we
discuss, say, stellar evolution.

And please focus yOur comments on the substance of my objections
if you expect anyone to take you seriously.

>He also suggest that we should demonstrate 'a continuum of
>migraine experiences from the most headache like to the most
>close encounter-like'. Well hang on a minute. We've only been
>talking about this for a couple of days and you want a full
>research programme already?

You mean there is no pre-existing reason to suppose this
hypothesis accounts for the phenomenon it is advanced to

I thought the book clearly suggested to the author of the
article the connection. Yet, as I spent a lot of words pointing
out, the connection is tenuous to even the most methodologically

Let me point out, yet again, that there is no doubt that there
are thousands of hours of research on migrane sufferers. In
fact, as I write this, I hear a commercial that points out all
of the special testing done by Excedrin to determine the
effectiveness of their new migrane formulation. Surely, if the
hypothesis were true, somewhere in all of the literature
generated by all of the studies done by all of the
pharmaceutical companies, there would be one close encounter
experienced under laboratory conditions.

So what I am saying is that there has already been a research
effort underway for a number of years, and since the author did
not advance any good migrane case with any real resemblance to a
UFO case, I must assume this means that no such case exists in
the literature. At this point, should I begin a literature
search to take care of the due diligence which should have been
performed by Mr Harney? I think not. It is Mr. Harney's
responsibility to convince us that his ideas have merit. It is
not for us to do his research for him.

I recently posted a long document on UFO luminosity to the list.
Before presenting that document I read thousands of pages of UFO
literature, personally cataloged over 500 UFO cases, inspected
numerous UFO photographs for hours, performed image processing,
and read additional hundreds of pages on plasma physics, lasers,
and atmospheric ionization, including auroras and ball
lightning. All to produce that one document. I did not ask Mr.
Rimmer or Mr. Harney to read that material for me. I sought
critical or helpful comments on the resulting document. I did
not complain when they came to me (thanks to all of those who
offered comments, suggestions or requested clarification). I
continue to hope for more, but I know what my burden is when
making a proposal.

> I thought the idea of putting a
> suggestion like this up an a mailing list was so that people
> could look at whether or not evidence existed. The particular
> caser which John Harney mentioned in "ETH Bulletin" was _not_
> presented as "best evidence", simply a convenient comparison
> which was to hand and seemed to have a number of relevant
> features.

If you don't make your best case in your first example, why
should anyone pay attention to what you have to say? If Mr.
Harney can't find a better case, he should wait until he can
find one less convenient but more relevant. As for the Oakenson
case, let him or you put forth the facts in adherence to the
scientific method.

> Rob Irving's contribution about St Hildegard also suggests a
> possible line of study.

It is impossible to determine if someone dead for about 800
years was a migrane sufferer. Therefore I find it impossible to
determine what line of study this could represent.

> Are the ETH-as-a-possible-explanation crew _really_ so
> closed-minded that they have to jump, with very heavy boots, on
> other theories?

Does Mr. Rimmer think science should make a special exception
for Magonia writers, in terms of acceptable methodology? Or is
there one standard for scientists and another for those who
oppose UFOs?

Mr. Rimmer, you are the editor of a publication. That role comes
with a responsibility to make sure that the facts are checked,
and that the article is self-consistent and carries its burden.
Otherwise, Magonia is just one more source of noise on an
already too noisy Internet.

Apparently my "heavy boots" made an impression. I wish the
impression it had made on Mr. Rimmer was one which was such that
he would take the time to offer a rational and focused critique
of any methodological errors I made in criticising Mr. Harney's

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -
Author of SF novels available at...