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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 12

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 01:54:13 EDT
Fwd Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 07:00:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>  To: "UFO UpDates - Toronto" <updates@globalserve.net>
>  From: "Jerome Clark" <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>  Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs
>  Date: Wed, 10 Jun 98 12:34:54 PDT



Sticking to the subject...

>  The notion that scientists investigate UFOs at their own
>  professional peril is false staggers the imagination.

That's not quite how I put it, is it. I would have expected that
you, as a self-professed 'English major' would have learned by
now to read more carefully, to address what is actually said,
and try not to jump to conclusions.

>  Scientists' resistance, for reasons not always strictly
>  rational, to anomalous claims is the subject of a considerable
>  literature in the sociology and philosophy of science, e.g.,
>  Mauskopf's The Reception of Unconventional Science
>  (AAAS/Westview, 1979) and Bauer's The Enigma of Loch Ness
>  (University of Illinois Press, 1986; see Chapter 7 in
>  particular). (I have a bulging file of papers, mostly from
>  social- science journals, on this and related matters.)
>  Sociologist of science Marcello Truzzi has written lengthily and
>  eloquently on this subject, most recently in the forthcoming
>  essay "On Some Unfair Practices Towards Claims of the
>  Paranormal." (By the way, Truzzi, though skeptical, holds the
>  view that rational, critical-minded persons can look at UFO data
>  and see, rightly or wrongly, an ETH there.

Yes, as I'm aware. As I said in an earlier post to Greg, I was
at one time, until quite recently, entirely sympathetic. Lately
I have changed my mind somewhat, assuming that is allowed
without ridicule. I guess that depends on who one talks to.

I dare say that if I were to sift through your suggestions I
would change my mind again. Changing my mind doesn't bother me.

As I keep stressing, that is not my point.

Supergluing myself to the point, I believe that how seriously
the ETH is taken very much depends upon how it is presented, and
the quality of evidence offered. That is essentially what I
wrote previously - adapting it to your mind-set won't change the

You seem to feel that the evidence offered thus far is
sufficient, and laid out in a way that should, in a perfect
world, make every scientist jump to attention. I happen to
disagree, and cited a few examples where revolutionary ideas
were accepted quite early, even if some dismissed them as
ludicrous. Opposite precedents nonetheless.

What I've been trying (unsuccessfully so far) to get you to tell
me is why you think the so-called science establishment baulks
at the subject of ufology _in particular_.

>  He admirably resists the temptation to rhetorical inflation so
>  beloved of Rob and some others on this list, who regularly
>  tell us we are religious fanatics, gullible true believers, and
>  even [see below] clinically paranoid.)

Well, Jerome, that's evidence enough for me that you jump to
conclusions. Can you show me where I've described you or anyone
in those terms? If that is indicative of your accuracy in
reporting, and from what I've read I fear it is, then I am not
surprised you moan about not being taken seriously.

>  One might add that an Allen Hynek speaks on this subject >
with rather more authority than Rob Irving.

Yes, I see a tack developing. I freely admit that I am not as au
fait with every UFO case history as yourself and others, and
suddenly I'm to be dismissed?  If you think about it, isn't that
a little childish? Or smug?... smugness in this field, that's

Not remembering every little ufological detail was a conscious
decision on my part, by the way. Not knowing has its benefits
too, although I don't expect you to accept that. No matter...

<Many references woz 'ere>

<redundancy snipped> I know how adept you are at chucking out
references, Jerome, but I'm not that convinced you've grasped
the full mettle of the history and philosophy of science in this
context, any more than Blondlot did.

You get my drift?

>  Anyone who's ever investigated a case and found an item of
>  evidence (in, say, a CE2) for evaluation by a scientist can
>  testify to the extraordinary skittishness even of interested
>  professionals. Few will allow their names to be published, for
>  fear of what their colleagues or deans will say (or of being
>  attacked and ridiculed in the journal of scientistic law
>  enforcement, Skeptical Inquirer). (See the discussion on "CE2s
>  and Failed Science" on pp. 196-97 of The UFO Encyclopedia, 2nd
>  Edition.)

As if continually citing your own references gives them weight.
Yes, I'm not disputing the fact that there have been and always
will be problems in presenting revolutionary evidence. As I said
before, I'm quite aware of this. But that isn't really my point.

>  Bruce Maccabee, a scientist who is open about his UFO interests,
>  tells some amazing tales of scientism's resistance to even the
>  most thoroughly documented UFO data in his eye-opening paper
>  "Still in Default," MUFON 1986 UFO Symposium Proceedings,
>  131-60. The title, incidentally, harks back to McDonald's
>  "Science in Default: Twenty-two Years of Inadequate UFO
>  Investigations," in the Sagan/Page UFOs -- A Scientific Debate,
>  52-122.

I know. Funnily enough, I've read Bruce's report.

>  This is utter rot. No one is talking "conspiracy" except Rob here.

Okay...  I assumed that Stanton was talking along the lines of,
as I said, 'a subtle or not so subtle conspiracy', which, in its
mild form, might have been along the lines of tacit
disapproval...some kind of widespread prejudice. Perhaps
Stanton's well-known phrase, the Cosmic Watergate, inadvertently
slipped into my mind as I thought of who I was addressing. Okay
Jerome, no conspiracy. I'm sorry.

So, again, we arrive at the same question I've asked before:
What is the problem, exactly? You haven't even attempted to
answer it.

Do you even have an answer? I'm beginning to think not.

Beyond your own citations -- if you've ever ventured that far, that
is - what is your current opinion on why science turns a blind eye
to your evidence? Try to be lucid in your response... I'm interested
to hear it.

>  (Whatever else might be said, the guy does have a fertile
>  imagination.) Maybe, my friend, you really ought to find a subject
>  you know something about to denounce. What we're seeing
>  from Rob, I fear, is more indicative of the classic descent into
>  the sort of arrogance usually occurring when ignorance is
>  dominant.

Projections, Jerome... yet more projections.

Incidentally, you cited Fort earlier as a major
influence...what, I wonder, would he have thought about your er,
dogmatism? He would have laughed surely, as I am now.


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