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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 11

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 10:31:04 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 23:18:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

> Date: Mon, 8 Jun 1998 11:47:57 +0100
> To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
> From: John Rimmer <johnr@magonia.demon.co.uk>
> 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: Sat, 6 Jun 1998 18:45:41 -0400

> You ask about predictions for other hypotheses. Well I think as
> far as the Psychosocial Hypothesis is concerned one has already
> been made, and is in the process of being proven.

> If the PH is valid it implies that the UFO is most widespread in
> countries which share social and economic conditions, and have
> similar cultural values. As the UFO phenomenon seems most
> widespread in the USA we would expect it to be experienced most
> often in similar societies. This does seem to be the case. The
> countries with the greatest number of UFO reports, and public
> interest in ufology, besides the USA are either those which
> share its cultural and social background, e.g. the UK, Western
> Europe, Canada; or those which have wide exposure to US cultural
> and social values, e.g. Central and South America (and no,
> Jerry, this isn't some sort of Ameriphobia, I actually quite
> *like* most American social and cultural values).

> We would expect the UFO phenomena to be least widespread in
> those societies which either do not share this social
> background, or are actually hostile to it, e.g. the Islamic
> countries, most of Africa, Asia (except Japan), and this is
> indeed the case. This is not, of course, to say that no UFO
> reports at all come from those countries.

John, many thanks for this.

I see two problems with it.

1. Beneath your reasoning lies an assumption that, if UFOs are
real objects, they'd be seen equally often in all parts of the
world. How can we assume that? (And yes, I could invent reasons
why they would or wouldn't be, but I'd simply be speculating.)
Aren't you putting the cart before the horse? That is, aren't you
making declarations about how real UFOs would behave, before
we've even proved that such things exist?

2. You need to control for something fairly obvious. This is the
possibility that, in your global survey, you're measuring
something you don't consider in what you wrote here -- how likely
people in various countries are to report UFOs. Yes, we have far
more UFO reports from the US than from North Korea. Does that
mean that cultural factors in the US are generating UFO reports,
or that cultural (and political!) factors in the US make people
more likely to report the UFOs they see?

Suppose we substituted "spousal abuse" for "UFOs" in what you've
written here:

> If the PH is valid it implies that spousal abuse is most widespread
> in countries which share social and economic conditions, and have
> similar cultural values. As concern about spousal abuse seems most
> widespread in the USA we would expect it to be experienced most
> often in similar societies. This does seem to be the case. The
> countries with the greatest number of spousal abuse complaints, and
> public interest in spousal abuse, besides the USA are either those which
> share its cultural and social background, e.g. the UK, Western
> Europe, Canada; or those which have wide exposure to US cultural
> and social values, e.g. Central and South America (and no,
> Jerry, this isn't some sort of Ameriphobia, I actually quite
> *like* most American social and cultural values).

> We would expect reports of spousal abuse to be least widespread in
> those societies which either do not share this social
> background, or are actually hostile to it, e.g. the Islamic
> countries, most of Africa, Asia (except Japan), and this is
> indeed the case. This is not, of course, to say that no spousal
> abuse reports at all come from those countries.

Would this suggest that spousal abuse isn't real, and that
complaints about it are generated simply by cultural factors?
Hardly.

> We predicted that with the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the
> increasing penetration of western (predominantly US) culture
> into the former Soviet Bloc countries, we would see a rise in
> the level of UFO-related activity in those countries, and this
> does seem to be happening. Hungary, which even before 1989 was
> most open to the West, has developed its own crop- circle
> culture. We are beginning to see more reports and film from the
> Czech Republic for example, and elsewhere. And this is not
> simply a factor of the freeing of press and other media in those
> countries - even in the Communist era there seemed to be no
> serious block to reports coming out of Eastern Europe. In the
> Communist era the Eastern European country which seemed to have
> the most UFO reports was Romania, which at the time was seen as
> breaking from the Soviet Bloc.

But, John....I, as an advocate of physically-existing UFOs, would
have predicted the same thing. If UFOs are really up there, and
we've had scattered reports of them from the Communist bloc, I'd
expect more reports once those countries were politically free.
That is, my working assumption would be that UFOs were in fact
seen there, but the full extent of the sightings was masked by
political tyranny, and the lack of a free press.

What evidence would we need to tell which of our assumptions is
correct?

You also, I think, need to be more careful in discussing the
nature of these Communist countries. You say that Hungary was the
Soviet-bloc country most open to the West (true), but then it
turns out that Romania had the most UFO reports! You explain that
by saying it was breaking from the Soviet bloc, but that ignores
two factors.

1. Romania had the most vicious tyranny of any Soviet-bloc
nation.
It's no accident that Caeucescu, the Romanian leader (whose name
I may be misspelling) was the only Eastern-bloc tyrant to be shot
the moment he was overthrown.

2.  Albania and Yugoslavia broke with the Soviet Union long
before Rumania did. If breaking with the Soviet Union is a factor
in UFO reports, why weren't there more from these countries? And,
yes, I know that Albania was the most isolated and least Western
of any Eastern European Communist state, but Yugoslavia (which
for most of its existence wasn't a member of the Soviet bloc at
all) was by far the most open and most Western. Why did Romania
have more UFO reports than Yugoslavia?

One more point. Your reasoning requires you, I think, to predict
that searches of government archives in formerly Communist
countries wouldn't reveal a large number of UFO reports we
haven't known about. That prediction would appear to be false.
George Knapp was acquired voluminous UFO reports from the former
Soviet military.

> Even within the US and Western Europe we see major differences
> in the way the UFO phenomenon manifests itself, which would not
> be the case if it was caused by a single, i.e. extraterrestrial,
> source. Abductions are very few and far between on Continental
> Europe, more widespread in the UK, but nothing like as many per
> head of population as in the USA. Even our aliens are different,
> with fewer Greys and more Nordics (and try and tell me there's
> no racial element involved in that!). Even the postings on these
> Updates demonstrate the cultural differences, with British
> people seldom if ever commenting on Roswell, MJ12, Cydonia, etc,
> tending to be more interested in flying triangles, which you
> guys seem to have dropped a while ago!

Again, you need to control here for cultural differences in
general. You have free medical care, we can barely even discuss
it. You have more dance music on your pop charts, we have more
hiphop. You stand politely to the right on escalators, we stand
anywhere we like, blocking the way for those who want to pass
others. You have a monarchy, and, much as we adore your royals,
we'd never institute such a thing. Etc. You may, for all I know,
have your own style in academic disciplines like physics or
economics. How do you know that the willingless to discuss
certain types of UFO reports -- quite apart from their reality --
isn't influenced by culture?

If you think reports of aliens have a racial component, here's an
experiment you might try. In London, where there are large
numbers of non-white people, is there also the same percentage of
Nordic reports?

One final question. When you say "we predicted," are professional
historians and sociologists among the "we"?

Greg Sandow



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