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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 5

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 13:09:03 EDT
Fwd Date: Fri, 05 Jun 1998 13:31:55 -0400
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>  From: "Greg Sandow" <gsandow@prodigy.net>
>  To: "'UFO UpDates - Toronto'" <updates@globalserve.net>
>  Subject: Occam's Razor and UFOs
>  Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 10:24:55 -0400

Hi Greg,

>  This gives me an occasion to talk about something I've been
>  thinking of for a while, Occam's Razor. This is a well-known
>  scientific adage, not exactly a theory or a principle, but a good
>  rule of thumb for research. It says, basically, that we shouldn't
>  make up theories without any reason, and that the simplest
>  explanation of something -- the one that does NOT require forming
>  new and alarming hypotheses -- is the one we should prefer.

<snip>

Serious consideration of this forces one to agree with you...
Occam's Razor is a tool, or leveller - of course the level can be
read in different ways, depending on one's slant on things - but
not an ultimate justification.

>  What does this have to do with UFOs?

It has a lot to do with the predominant strand of UFO research,
i.e., the belief that a proportion of UFOs are Extraterrestrial
craft...

Of which there is no substantial evidence that we know of.

>  Responsible UFO research is one of the best examples of
>  Occam's Razor used properly. What does a UFO investigator
>  do when someone reports a sighting? He or she tries to eliminate
>  all conventional explanations.

You seem to be saying that once these conventional explanations
have been eliminated Occam's Razor would require that we look to
unconventional explanations: Take, say, Michael Hesemann's claim
that the increased radiation he says he detected in crop circles,
as he has eliminated in his mind all conventional explanations,
must be proof that aliens made the crop circle.

This is sad, but so typical of much UFO and associated research.

Just because something doesn't appear to fit conventional reasons
doesn't mean we suddenly have scientific licence to insert
fantasy in their place.  If we want to turn that fantasy into
convention we'd still need to apply at least the minimum of
convention to it.  It's easy to fit our shoddy explanations to
what might appear to be accurate testimony, but that doesn't make
either true.

Rob



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