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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 8

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: Jerome Clar" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
Date: Sun, 07 Jun 98 22:18:19 PDT
Fwd Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998 08:51:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998 18:46:27 -0500 (CDT)
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>From: Dennis Stacy <dstacy@texas.net>
>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>>From: RobIrving@aol.com
>>Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 13:48:43 EDT
>>To: updates@globalserve.net
>>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>>>From: "Greg Sandow" <gsandow@prodigy.net>
>>>To: "'UFO UpDates - Toronto'" <updates@globalserve.net>
>>>Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs
>>>Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 14:31:11 -0400

><Oh, hell, in my arrogance, snip everybody!>

>Yes, the British blokes are being both obnoxious and vexing,
>aren't they?

I don't think so, and I can't imagine why you do. My impression
has always been that Greg and I are being so to them.

>At the same time, their original question remains
>unanswered. So, Jerry and Greg, take but a minute to tell us
>which ten cases you would consider most indicative and evidential
>of extraterrestrial visitation. That's all; just the ten specific
>*cases* that you personally would want to defend in the court of
>public (or scientific) opinion. You know, the ones that support
>your case. Just ten.

Oh, give me a break. If this is the style of argumentation --
and it certainly isn't the style of argumentation used in real
science -- we may as well give up. I suggest you look at the
Project 1947 list, on which just today Jan Aldrich addressed the
identical childish challenge, just issued from Phil Klass. Pace
Jan, here's a counterchallenge: name the top 10 cases that
conclusively prove the existence of ball lightning.

Obviously, a good deal of what gives the case for UFOs its power
is the weight of 50+ years of puzzling observations, recordings,
and patterns. (The same is true, except over a longer period of
time, about ball lightning, of which there are still, amusingly
and revealingly, some scientific skeptics.)  Of course along the
way there are individual cases, a fair number of them, that
stand out for one reason or another, usually because they were
well investigated or offered particular rich opportunity for
documentation. They are there in the literature, Dennis, even if
you and your pals can't bear to look them up. To save you too
much mental-muscle wear, though, let me recommend some books
where you can find them:

The UFO Evidence, by J. Allen Hynek
Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, ed. by
	Daniel Gillmor
The UFO Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, by Jerome Clark
The UFO Evidence, ed. by Richard Hall
The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, by
	Edward J. Ruppelt
"Science in Default: Twenty-two Years of
	Inadequate UFO Investigations," by James E.
	McDonald. In Sagan and Page, eds. UFOs -- A
	Scientific Debate
Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14, ed. by
	Bruce Maccabee
UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference: A Catalogue
	and Data Analysis, by Mark Rodeghier
Project Blue Book Exposed, by Kevin D. Randle

Then, after you've read all of these books and looked at all of
the data, you can (and, my psychic talents assure me, you will)
declare, without having to offer any supporting evidence
whatever, what Peter Rogerson pronounced in Magonia after
reviewing my recent The UFO Book (full of good cases recounted
in great detail): "Reading through the cases ... I suspect
several are radically misperceived astronomical objects, still
others probably psychological phenomena, still others hoaxes,
some military activity, some perhaps novel natural phenomena."

(John Rimmer a day or two ago played a variation on this theme
when Mark Cashman mentioned several intriguing cases. Note in
particular his comment on Sparks' RB-47 study, which John cannot
even yet have read; obviously, however, he is already struggling
to concoct a rhetorical strategy by which he can reduce its

The poor saps who actually did the investigating, of course,
looked at these possibilities and offered concrete reasons for
rejecting them, but, hey, who cares about such boring
considerations when the game's about point-scoring and making

Frankly, the more I see the sorts of arguments employed here,
the more the adjective "disingenuous" looms to the forefront of
consciousness. I get the distinct impression that where the rest
of us are actually trying to make sense of an immensely
complicated problem, and being a hell of a lot more cautious and
modest about what can be inferred from it, you guys are just
playing a game. And a pretty boring one, I must say.

Jerry Clark

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