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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 14

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 10:07:03 -0400
Fwd Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 17:56:44 -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: Fri, 12 Jun 98 10:59:16 PDT

> An interesting example of what happens to academics and
> scientists who publicly identify themselves with the UFO heresy
> comes in the new (June 25) issue of the New York Review of
> Books, generally regarded as the leading cultural and
> intellectual journal in the United States. In the course of an
> extraordinarily emotional attack on abductees, abduction
> investigators, and ufologists generally, Frederick Crews
> approvingly notes the professional near-ruin to which Mack and
> Jacobs have been brought, mentioning their "well-earned
> ostracism and ridicule from their colleagues." One need have no
> great imagination to sense the chilling effect this must have on
> other academics thinking of taking up UFO study.

Good point, Jerry. And when Dennis (in another post mentioning
this piece) calls this a typical New York Review article, I
can't agree.

A few weeks ago, the New York Review published a length article
by one of the world's most profound musical scholars, Charles
Rosen. This essay, however, found Rosen out of his depth -- he
doesn't seem to know anything that happened in contemporary
classical music during the last 20 years -- and I got quite
involved with it, writing a 3,000 word letter to the editor
(which, oddly enough, they haven't published).

This was my first letter to any editor in quite a while. The
issues involved were crucial for my own work in music.

Anyhow, the Rosen piece, while wrong and in some ways offensive,
was quite reasonably written. I won't even begrudge the man his
fine gloss of Mandarin disdain. I enjoyed his sarcasm, as much
for its elegance as for its humor. I was outraged enough, as
I've said, to write a lengthy response, but that was because of
the content of the piece, not its tone.

This Crews review is another story. Jerry is, if anything,
understating when he describes its tone as "extraordinarily
emotional." "Hysterical" might be more like it. (And no, I'm not
writing a reply. I don't want to get my musical letter caught up
in a UFO crossfire.) What makes it all even odder is that Crews
-- unlike many people who've written similar commentary -- has
or at least pretends to have some knowledge of the UFO
literature. At the very least, he names the right names, from
Hynek to Nicolas Spanos. What he says about the books and
articles, though, can be quite peculiar. He seems to think, for
instance, that Klass's "UFOs Explained" can serve as a
point-by-point refutation of Hynek's "The UFO Experience," when
actually the books cover very different ground.

The Nation carried a review of The Threat and other recent UFO
books, by John Leonard, that was, if anything, even more
hysterical. Crews and Leonard get so carried away, in fact, that
it's fair to ask what's going on. Why do they care so much? Is
Crews upset, as he says he is, because a few thousand people
have been misled by abduction investigators into believing their
experiences are real? (And, as he doesn't note, finding genuine
relief from their anxiety, whatever its cause. But that's
another story!) Has he shown equal passion for massacres,
poverty, child mortality in the underdeveloped world?

Something's out of whack here. It's not unreasonable to raise
another possibility -- that Crews, Leonard, and others who get
so worked up are frightened because they can't help wondering if
these UFO fables just might be true.

Greg Sandow

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