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Strieber's 'Confirmation' Slated By Mainstream

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 03:04:29 +0200
Fwd Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 00:33:06 -0400
Subject: Strieber's 'Confirmation' Slated By Mainstream


>From CNN's site. URL:

http://cnn.com/books/reviews/9807/29/confirmation/index.html

Again I want to emphasize that this post in no way is meant as an
endorsement of the views that are voiced in the article.


Stig


*******


Strieber's exuberance falls short of proving there are UFOs


'Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens among Us'
By Whitley Strieber


Saint Martin's Press, $23.95


Review by L.D. Meagher


Web posted on: Wednesday, July 29, 1998 2:55:43 PM EDT


(CNN) -- There's something in the sky. There's something in my
room. There's something in my head. They must be connected.

That's the argument Whitley Strieber makes in "Confirmation",
his fifth book about extraterrestrial aliens. Its subtitle
summarizes his approach to the argument: "The Hard Evidence of
Aliens among Us".

Strieber's "hard evidence" comes from three different types of
experiences: sightings of unidentified objects in the sky,
stories of alien encounters or abductions, and objects removed
from the bodies of people who believe they have been abducted.
As he recounts each incident, he tries to reflect an air of
scientific detachment. He isn't necessarily arguing that all the
"evidence" he cites is proof that aliens walk among us. Instead,
he claims he is only marshalling arguments for a concentrated
research effort by the scientific community. His mask of
objectivity, however, refuses to remain in place.

Despite the author's exuberance, there's not much new to report
on the UFO sightings front. He offers new photographs of unusual
objects in the sky, mostly from Mexico. They have the familiar
look of earlier pictures. The objects are somewhat indistinct,
but clearly disc-shaped. Strieber asserts that they are more
authoritative, however, since they aren't mere photographs, but
images captured on videotape. There's even video from a space
shuttle mission which enthusiasts interpret as an apparent
attempt by earthlings to shoot down a UFO. He goes beyond
"flying saucer" imagery, too. He breathlessly recounts blurred
images of "rods" that inexplicably appear on videotapes shot in
the desert. Sometimes, these objects are captured on just a
single frame of the tape. Strieber doesn't offer any explanation
for these things. Instead, he insists the scientific
establishment must investigate them.

Since he published "Communion", his first-person account of an
alien abduction, Strieber has solicited letters from other
people who have had similar experiences. Not surprisingly, he
has received many. Some are recounted in "Confirmation". He
notes that there are similarities among the stories. He insists
each contains unique elements that separate it from the others.
Therefore, he argues, a lot of people are having different
experiences, and science should do something.

Then there are the objects removed from people's bodies. Despite
his facade of scientific detachment, Strieber calls them
"implants". He concentrates on a few cases in which the objects
have been surgically removed. Some of them are metallic, and
covered by a membrane. Others are non-metallic. One looks like
glass. A few of the metal objects and the piece of glass were
subjected to scientific analysis. It turns out they are made of
either metal or glass. Strieber concludes the metal is like that
found in meteorites and the glass is unlike any ever found on
Earth. The scientists who performed the analyses stop well short
of those conclusions. And they offer no suggestion that the
objects have any purpose. They aren't transmitters, or homing
beacons, or microchips containing the Encyclopedia Galactica.

It would be so much easier to understand, according to Strieber,
if only the government wasn't hiding the truth. "In this
society," he writes, "anybody who isn't at least somewhat
paranoid probably isn't entirely sane." The government conducted
secret mind control experiments, he reminds us. And the official
explanations of "The Roswell Incident" range from unconvincing
to absurd. Strieber concludes the government is hiding something
about alien encounters. And because the government funds so much
scientific research, the science establishment must be in on the
cover-up.

In the end, Strieber casts aside his pretense of detachment. He
is an advocate, on the side of those who have seen UFOs, been
abducted by aliens, and had extraterrestrial hardware implanted
in their bodies. All are the work of "visitors," he concludes.
The visitors may not be from another planet, but he's convinced
they exist. "The visitors may be at once tempting us with their
theater in the sky and forcing us into action by the outrageous
invasion of our bodies represented by close encounter. Whatever
they are doing, it seems clear they are not preparing for some
great event where they finally put in an overwhelming
appearance."

More than once, Strieber invokes the spirit of Carl Sagan, who
laid down the gauntlet by insisting proponents of alien
visitation offer some proof to back up their contentions.
Indeed, "Confirmation" seems to be Strieber's response to that
challenge. But Sagan did more than simply solicit offers of
evidence. He demanded they be scrutinized using what he called
the scientist's "baloney detection kit." It contains the tools
of skeptical thinking. As he explained in "The Demon-Haunted
World":

"What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to
construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and --
especially important -- to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent
argument. The question is not whether we like the conclusion
that emerges out of a train of reasoning, but whether the
conclusion follows from the premise or starting point and
whether that premise is true."

Strieber contends he is offering the evidence Sagan demanded. In
fact, he is offering anecdotes and artifacts for which several
interpretations exist, and disregarding all but those that
support his contention that "visitors" are here and doing
something to humans.

"Confirmation" offers nothing that will shake the faith of those
who are convinced Strieber is right. It also offers nothing that
will sway those who think he is wrong. In the end, it is a bit
like a religious faith. To non-believers, no proof is possible.
To believers, none is necessary.


L.D. Meagher is a News Editor at CNN Headline News. He has
worked in broadcasting for nearly 30 years.   

Rev
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