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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 10

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 22:13:24 EDT
Fwd Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 07:09:06 -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: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 09:48:34 -0400

Greg,

>The proof of this particular kugel (New York reference, Jewish
>culture subdivision) lies in the eating.

Heh, heh. Yah, as my friend Burnsy might say, that's a good one.
It reminds me... no, weren't you chiding me for drifting away from
the point? Quite right too! But what is one to do when one's butler
is on his annual hols and the replacement they send can't type? It
means one has to type one's replies oneself! So surely you aren't
expecting me to do that and observe what is on the screen at the
same time, what?

Perhaps one should pay more attention to your messages. But he
has no arms you see? And no legs either! And for heaven's sake it
was me that introduced the Equal Opportunities for Butlers Bill
to the House in the first place. Hoisted by my own petard, I ask
you.

Now, what were we saying? Oh, yah...

>Nor did I say scientists were influenced by UFO mythology. I
>said they were influenced by science fiction, now that it's
>taken a dominant position in popular culture.

And what is UFO mythology if it's not 'science fiction, now that
it's taken a dominant position in popular culture'? It may be
many things, but it's also that.

Where's that butler? Jerry? Ah, there you are... get up from the
floor... I'm having to deal here with damn bloody colonials.

Did I say cretins?

>(However, I now begin to understand Rob's rhetorical style.)

Good, it might help.

>> apathetic downtrodden

Heh, heh. "Apathetic downtrodden", what?

>If I were British, I would respond with a quick, dry "Really."
>But since I'm from New York, with affectionate ties to Brooklyn,
>I'll say (with a tone of utter, derisive desbelief), "According
>to you!"

Really.

>As I explained elsewhere, nobody I meet, however skeptical,
>has ever associated me or ETH believers in general with Greer,
>et al -- with one variety of exception.

That's heartening. You should hear some of the crap I hear.

>That exception is Rob, and others who make his present point.
>Which is indeed ironic. Rob tells me what's going to happen to
>me in life, and lo! it does happen, but only with him. If I were
>British, I'd mutter something here about solipsism, but nobody
>from Brooklyn knows the word.

Except for one variety of exception. That exception is Greg. He
- third person everyone..... he knows solipsically and therefore
he is, or something like that. Yah, very droll.

>I've debated UFOs with skeptical debunkers, in public and
>private, including a four-hour discussion with Phil Klass. Not
>even he made Rob's point.

My point was that when you talk about the influence of the lore
that makes up our subject on popular culture you have to accept
that the type of story told by the Greers and Hesemanns, and at
one time the Von Danikens, amounts to much of that influence as
far as UFOs are concerned. You're saying that you can't tie that
in with what you said at all? Klass is getting on a bit. Perhaps
he forget to draw your attention to this.

>Notice how Rob changes direction between the first of these
>paragraphs, and the other two. In the first, he dazzles us by
>knowing more about my point than I do (for which I thank him).
>In the second paragraph, he heads off on a journey of his own.
>What would be relevant here, I'd say, would be something more
>like this:

"But if for some strange reason a respected body were to
perform >a sensible and thorough investigation into UFOs in
general...."

In popular cultural terms, Greg, the subjects I mentioned are as
much a part of the so-called ETH, if not more, than, say, the
rather obscure witness reports offered by Mark Cashman as his
ten best examples, which much less people are apparently aware
of.

All I'm saying here, as Rebecca said earlier, is that if ETH
proponents want to be taken seriously, maybe by way of increased
awareness of the subject through popular culture, as I think you
are suggesting, it would be a good idea to create some distance
from the fools and hucksters.

>What's most important, though, is that paragraph one sticks
>directly to my point, which was the influence of popular culture
>on science. Paragraphs two and three are about something
>entirely different, namely how ETH proponents (me and Steven
>Greer, separated at birth) would react should scientists
>investigate and reject the televised alien autopsy. This is
>amusing, but irrrelevant. (Unless, of course, one's belief in
>the foolishness of the ETH and those who espouse it has a fatal
>magnetic attraction, and somehow drags one's prose in that
>direction, regardless of where one started.)

You've become confused. Please address the points I've made and
stop taking things so personally.

>> 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.

>As I typed "paradigms," I thought to myself: "Hmmm...not really
>the word I want. Too fancy." And yo! [New York variant of lo!]
>Rob pounces on it.

So write what you mean. In another post you talked about how
scientists seemingly habitually reject revolutionary ideas. I
took it that you were still continuing along this path, and my
answer addressed what I currently think of that.

>I wasn't thinking of Kuhn, or of science blinded by a belief in
>older world-views. In fact, I was just using a two-dollar word
>for "world view." Though I'm grateful for the update on Rob's
>intellectual progress.

Really.

So the man - still third person folks... the man who suggests
that his correspondent only talks in terms of what _he_ was
thinking accuses that correspondent of solipsism. Nice.


>> >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?

>My own beliefs don't come into play here, any more
>than they would if I said that popular culture has influenced
>more people to have or accept tattoos and piercings. (Though
>maybe in the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I
>have a tattoo.)

Jerry, my temporary butler, has piercings on his nipples, so he
tells me. You should perhaps mention it to him.

>As for my own yearning...would someone who's up to his neck in
>Budd Hopkins and Dave Jacobs be yearning, exactly, for visits
>by aliens?

You've just made me blow warm milk all down the front of my
jacket. To whom shall I send the bill? Budd perhaps. Er, by 'up
to your neck', what exactly do you mean?

>What Rob or I personally care to accept is beside the point. What
>matters is what scientists think. David Pritchard said recently that
>peer pressure was pushing him away from UFOs, and John Mack was
>publicly questioned by an official Harvard invesitgation. There we
>have two gentlemen with professional scientific credentials who
>organized a scientific conference on abductions, and paid for it. I
>know of two other scientists who take part in abduction research, but
>prefer to be anonymous, fearing what their colleagues would think.
>Would Rob care to quote some UFO-involved scientists with contrary
>views?

Surely. I can quote John Mack, from my interview with him in
Helsinki in late 1996, not long after his problems with Harvard
(which was not an investigation, by the way). Lacking in class
as it is to quote ones own writings - especially all the time,
don't you agree Jerry? (Jerry agrees) - I'll make an exception,
as it's relevant. From Fortean Times 96 3/97:

'Mack's well publicised appearance before a Special Faculty
Committee at Harvard medical School, to answer "many, many
complaints" arising from the 1994 publication of his book,
Abduction: yadayada, developed into something of a cause celebre
for ufologists.'

'Some of his colleagues were unhappy that the school had become
associated with stories of flying saucers and sexual
experiments. Moreover, Mack seemed to be taking what his
'experiencers' were saying literally. Ostensibly an issue of
academic freedom, the case set standards for criticism of
perceived 'pseudo-scientific' idealogy.'

'I asked Mack whether he thought this had more to do with a
natural tendency to err on the side of caution when faced with
novel ideas. "The senior dean for academic affairs told me that
I wouldn't have been in trouble if I hadn't said that we might
be required to change our notions of reality," Mack explained.
"Of course, that closes the issue right there..."'

Quite! Then he talked about how complex crop formations couldn't
be man-made.  Anyway... Mack was allowed to continue his work
uncensured. Which, coupled with his curious drifts into
cerealogy, rather supports the points I've made to you... which
you appear to have clumsily avoided.

Rob




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