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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 6

Guilt By Association

From: "Greg Sandow" <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 16:41:58 -0400
Fwd Date: Sat, 06 Jun 1998 21:03:36 -0400
Subject: Guilt By Association

>From: RobIrving@aol.com
>Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 13:09:03 EDT
>To: updates@globalserve.net

>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.

I've been pondering this comment from Rob Irving. Frankly, I'm

As I noted in an earlier post, I didn't say anything about
Michael Hesemann -- or Roswell, or abductions, or crop circles,
or alien autopsies, or the Dulce base, or any ufological belief
-- in the post Rob was answering...

Now, suddenly, it's as if I'm asked to be responsible for
Hesemann, and, for all I know, any or all of everything else on
my list..

I'm reminded of something that happened more than 20 years ago,
when I worked in the music program of the New York State Council
on the Arts. A new director of music was appointed, an
African-American guy who turned out to be a bad choice. In fact,
he was a disaster, and in no time flat had alienated not just
the music staff, but many people who'd applied for funding. He
was a decent person (I've seen him since, over the years), but
wrong for this job.

Well, criticizing him in the office became difficult, for racial
reasons. Other African-Americans on the staff tended to defend
him, and to view any criticism of him as possibly racist. One of
my colleagues on the music staff was himself black -- a really
splendid guy who now runs the program himself, and by a happy
fluke lives across the street from me. So at one point I went to
him and asked him why he didn't speak out against our new boss,
since he was also black, and his criticism would weigh very

In reply, he told me something that really opened my eyes. He
said that African-Americans are forever asked by white people to
take responsibility for anything any other black person does,
and he wasn't going to play that game.

I've never forgotten that. And now I feel as if I'm in a similar
position. Because I said something that put me on the "UFOs are
real" side of a 50 year-old debate, suddenly I'm being told
about an extravagance committed by someone else who takes that
view, someone I don't know, have never endorsed in public or
private, and whose opinions are entirely irrelevant to any point
I was trying to make.

What's going on here? Dennis Stacy did something similiar a
while ago, when I said that the ETH was a perfectly reasonable
hypothesis (underline the word "hypothesis," please), in the
face of reports (underline "reports," too) of craft that are
said to look and maneuver like nothing we know exists on earth.
Dennis replief with dismayed reflections on a whole lot of
ETH-oriented ufology he thinks is nonsense, as if I'd somehow
bought into all of it simply because I'd said something good
about the ETH.

Well, I've really had enough of this. I'm responsbile for my own
views -- period. Oh, maybe I'll take some responsibility for
Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs, since I've defended them
noticeably often though I've often criticized them, too, so
anyone who thinks I buy into absolutely everything they say and
do has another guess coming). But I must say that I find it
markedly offensive when someone decides that I'm a proponent of
the ETH, and therefore need Michael Hesemann thrown at me. Now
think I know how black activists in America must have felt, a
few years ago, when anytime they uttered a peep they'd get
chstised: "First disassociate yourself from Louis Farrakhan!"

I mean....Bob Shell, whom I like and respect, doesn't think UFOs
are extraterrestrial. He thinks they represent some other kind
of reality. Do I throw John Keel in his face? Do I say "Well,
the danger of your position is that soon you'll be thinking you
get phone calls from alien entities, telling you a bridge is
going to collapse"? (An episode in one of Keel's books.)

David Pritchard, the MIT physicist, is apparently having second
thoughts about his involvement with abductions, and certainly
opposes some of the conclusions Budd and Dave have come to. Do I
say "Well, it's dangerous to be a physicist -- just look at
Edward Condon"? (Condon, of course, was the physicist who headed
the very negative late '60s University of Colorado study of
UFOs, on contract from the Air Force. )

The saddest thing about all this is a fear Dennis has. I
understand what he's worrried about, but I think he exaggerates.
He thinks ufology is demeaned by all the wild claims some people
make, and that therefore respectable scientists and others with
intellectual credentials will reject all of us together. In
other words, I'd better be careful, talking about the ETH,
because somehow then I'm in bed with poor Philip Corso. As a
result, some astronomer at Cal Tech -- who might otherwise
listen to my UFO arguments -- will stumble over Corso's book and
back away from me, saying, "Uh oh....those UFO nuts really ARE

I'm not worried. I do get out in the wider world from time to
time, and I see no evidence of what Dennis fears, not even a
shred. In fact, my daytime career has taken me in new directions
during the past year or two, so I've met a lot of new people. As
we get friendly, we're naturally interested in each others'
lives, and I  find myself telling people I've recently met that
I'm interested in UFO research.

Well, fine, these are musicians and people in the music
business, not scientists, but some of them are sharp as a
whipcrack, many are more worldly than nearly anyone in ufology,
and some are noticeably skeptical. Yet nobody ever says, "UFOs,
huh? You mean that alien autopsy crap on TV?" Maybe they'll ask
my opinion, saying "You're interested in UFOs? Tell me, do you
think that alien autopsy was real?" My point, though, is that
they're not fools. The concept of "tabloid TV" already exists in
their minds, so they'd automatically discount anything like the
alien autopsy, if they happened to run across it. Do you imagine
they think all gay people, let's say, are idiots, just because
they see a few of them making fools of themselves on Jerry
Springer? The people I find myself talking to can easily accept
that there's such a thing as serious UFO research, and not in a
hundred years would they dream that something they see on Fox or
UPN has anything to do with it. (Nor would they have to assume
that every book with UFO in its title, or what goes on at UFO
conventions, necessarily has any part of it.)

And you know....every field has its embarrassments. Maybe
ufology -- a cottage industry that tries to carry out what ought
to be science without even 1% of the scientists it needs to do
that -- has more than its share. But classical music, the
business I'm in, has plenty. Pavarotti, for instance, has made
himself one in recent years. Kurt Masur, music director of the
NY Philharmonic, is an embarrassment (as opposed to being merely
bad) every time he conducts Aaron Copland. Roberto Alagna and
his diva wife were an embarrassment during recent contract
negotiations with the Metropolitan Opera. Nearly every brochure
any classical music organization prints is an embarrassment,
because the text will be nothing but empty superlatives. ("The
acclaimed virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will play Beethoven's glorious
Violin Concerto.") RCA Records was an embarrassment a few years
ago when they tried to promote Gunther Wand, a conductor nobody
cared about, as a superstar. (They must have lost a bundle,

And for a real whopper, how about the Boston Symphony? Their
music director, Seiji Ozawa, has held his job for 25
increasingly unwelcome years. (Unwelcome at least to a large
number of the musicians who play for him.) You'd be hard-pressed
to find a serious classical music professional who thinks his
leadership of the BSO is anything less than a disgrace. In more
than 20 years in this business, I've never, ever, heard anyone
that prominent talked about with such disrespect. But meanwhile
his coarse, shapeless, empty performances get standing ovations,
and -- thanks to fabulous PR, impish charm, and a podium manner
that makes it look like he's an incisive conductor, even though
he isn't -- he remains some kind of folk hero in Boston.

But when I meet someone from the orchestra world, do I throw
Ozawa in their face? ("You're the marketing director of the
Pittsburgh Symphony? Aren't you ashamed to work for an
orchestra?") Give me a break!

Greg Sandow

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