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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 9

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 23:40:29 EDT
Fwd Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 00:30:04 -0400
Subject: 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: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 18:45:41 -0400

Greg,

>  I think in all this you're responding to my thought that ufology
>  exemplifies the proper use of Occam.

Yep. I don't see how it does. It may be a quantum subtlety, but I
essentially agreed that Occam's razor is too easy a justification
for non-believers in the ETH to fall back on, probably due to the
type of laziness induced by excessive yawning.

Praise Ptaah that William's neighbour Nigel of Ockham's advice,
'Pull the other one, it's got bells on' isn't more widely used
here.

>  But what strikes me is that  you talk here about "populist" ufology.
>  I remember saying in my original post that I was talking about
>  "responsible" ufology.

Off the cuff... responsible ufology would be to cast a suspicious
eye on populist ufology, to perhaps create some distance from it.
Then you'd have to get used to being classified a sceptic, with a
'k', as opposed to a believer, and to enjoy many idle hours,
days, months, years, even decades in Rimmer's case, educating
those who never seem able to grasp the full concept of
scepticism.
 
>  Where does "populist" ufology fit in what I was talking about?

Maybe I've been mixing with the wrong company, but I referred to
the loudest, the ones with the boldest claims, those that reach
the biggest audience, who create the mythologies that you say
could prove so beneficial to science in the long run.

Like it or not, rather like the apathetic downtrodden, all the
time no mutually agreed standard of evidence exists you are stuck
with the likes of Hesemann, Greer, Simms and Leir, etc., as
representing the ETH, as much as anyone.

Basically I'm reiterating a point Rebecca made here some time
ago.

>  (Elsewhere I've explained my belief that popular culture, despite
>  its excesses, will probably do more to bring scientists to UFOs
>  than all the responsible investigation we've ever done.

What do you hope scientists will be attracted by that they aren't
already? The British Defence Research Establishment spent
millions developing a gun-mount system from an idea they got from
the movie 'Alien II'. Theoretical physicist David Deutsch was
inspired to enlarge the possibilities of time travel by watching
the BBC's 'Dr Who'. It's not hard to imagine what modern
archetypes flash through the minds of 'anti-gravity' or
artificial intelligence specialists, etc=85 The valuable insight
that came out of Kip Thorn's assistance to Carl Sagan, when he
was writing 'Contact'... there must be many such examples.

But if for some strange reason a respected body were to perform a
sensible and thorough investigation into say, the 'alien
autopsy', or cattle mutilations, the 'abduction' syndrome or crop
circles, how would proponents of this 'evidence' of ET visitation
take to prosaic conclusions? I expect the same as now - they
wouldn't, because, let's face it, how many ETHers are really
interested in applying any sort of scientific method?

The ETH is driven by belief, with little if any evidence to
support it, and is itself influenced by popular culture,
simultaneously feeding and suckling off it.

>  It spreads new paradigms, and a more open attitude toward things
>  unknown=85

Perhaps the Kuhnian picture of scientific knowledge held back by
a blind adherence to existing paradigms is itself a myth? I've
changed my mind on that recently - broadened my world-view you
could say - having realised that there aren't that many examples
to support it.

>  particularly if they seem to touch on space and aliens.

Why are aliens so particularly important? How much of your answer
to that would you honestly put down to yearning?

>  A scientist who grew up on Star Trek and watches the X-Files will
>  be, on the average, more open to UFOs than an older generation
>  that grew up in the '50s, when science fiction was widely thought
>  to be childish.

Take a stroll over to www.webleyweb.com/tle/le970401-10.html for
an interesting article on Star Trek and our response to
child-likeness.

>  In any case, if Hynek and McDonald couldn't pull
>  the scientific community into the debate, what luck are
>  scientific ufologists now likely to have?)

With sufficient and clearly presented evidence I can't see much
of a problem. What exactly is the problem, in your opinion? I
personally don't accept the line that scientists are too worried
about reputation to involve themselves in ufology - that argument
doesn't hold water.

>  If UFOs are extraterrestrial craft, I'd expect them to behave
>  like physical objects. They should show up on radar, leave
>  traces when they reportedly land, and affect the physical
>  world in consistent ways=85

Not necessarily. They may be interference from parallel universes
for all we know... mere mirror matter. It sounds to me like you
might need to update your paradigm. Science is way ahead of you.
  
>  Anyhow, this IS an interesting line of thought. Rather than toss
>  out combative bon mots (John Rimmer, this means you), why don't
>  we roll up our sleeves and -- following Rob's very helpful lead
>  -- specify what testable predictions each UFO hypothesis might
>  suggest?

I always presumed that combative 'bon mots' were an integral part
of ufology. I'll let John or Pete answer that; they may have one
and besides, they're better versed in, um... displacement
activity.

best,

Rob

 



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