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

Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

From: Stanton T. Friedman <fsphys@brunnet.net>
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 12:58:19 -0300
Fwd Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 17:54:15 -0400
Subject: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs


>Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 00:19:59 -0400
>From: bruce maccabee <brumac@compuserve.com>
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs
>Sender: bruce maccabee <brumac@compuserve.com>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>

>>From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
>>To: "'UFO UpDates - Toronto'" <updates@globalserve.net>
>>Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs
>>Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 09:18:17 -0400

>>>From: Jeff King <Boroimhe@aol.com>
>>>Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 20:18:59 EDT
>>>To: updates@globalserve.net
>>>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Occam's Razor and UFOs

>>>>Back to the drawing board. I think we're left with Mark's and my
>>>>straightforward notion that if UFOs are alien craft, they'll have
>>>>stable, discernable physical characteristics (though perhaps
>>>>other traits that seem like magic to us).

>>>While I agree that this would be good support for Cashmans OEH,
>>>the difficulty is reliably establishing the existence of these
>>>characteristics. For example, anecdotal eyewitness testimony is
>>>not a very good source for ensuring that these characteristics
>>>exist. Cases that have been solved to the satisfaction of most
>>>everyone can be shown to share important characteristics with
>>>unsolved cases that are accepted as fair evidence of an
>>>anomalous phenomenon.
>
>>How significant would those factors be?

>>Here we need studies of (broadly speaking) solved vs. unsolved
>>cases. The Air Force's Special Report #14 did provide that, and
>>showed (if I remember correctly -- Stan Friedman may want to
>>supply more accurate information) that the unsolved cases
>>involved more qualified observers, and had lasted for a longer
>>time.

>>This study badly needs to be done again, with far more cases.

>You are correct. The Battelle Memorial institute, in conjunction
>with the Air Force Intelligence at Wright-Patterson AFB, Foreign
>Technology Division/Project Blue Book, studied carefully 3201
>sighting reports from 1947 through the end of 1952. The results
>were published and made available to the newsmedia on a limited
>basis in 1955.... oddly enough the same year Ruppelt's book was
>published.

>Anyway, Battelle found out that when the sightings were divided
>into four reliability groups, Poor, Doubtful, Good and
>Excellent, the percent unexplained increased with the quality of
>the sighting. Only about 15-20 percent were unexplained in the P
>and D classes, but in the E classification nearly 30% remained
>unexplained after analysis. When civilian sightings were removed
>from the collection leaving only sightings by military
>witnesses, usually on duty at the time of the sighting, the %
>unexplained rose to about 33%. In other words, the better the
>sighting the more likely to remain unexplained AFTER
>investigation. This result is not consistent with expectation
>if there are no TRue UFOs (TRUFOS - truly uinexplainable flying
>objects), because the best cases, by their nature, should
>contain the most accurate information which would provide the
>analyst with all he needed to identify the object sighted.
>Conversely, the poorest observers, who make the low quality
>reports (few details, self-inconsistent) should leave analysts
>with the most difficult cases to explain simply because there
>was not sufficient information for identification. Note that
>Insufficient Information (II) was a separate "identification"
>from Unknown. If there was not enough information to make a
>reliable identification, and there was also not enough
>information to reject all possible explanations, the sighting
>was listed as II. The % II was highest in the P and D catagories
>and lowest in the G and E, as would be expected since the G and
>E reporters provided the most self-consistent and accurate
>details.

>One should read the report and my analysis of it (published by
>the Center for UFO Studies) to get the complete picture of
>Special Report #14. However, the bottom line is that after
>investigating 3201 sightings and dividing them into reliability
>categories the Battelle and Air Force investigators found that
>the % II was l;owest and the %U was highest in the G and E
>categories. This result is more consistent with the hypothesis
>that there really was something unexplainable which these
>witnesses saw, than it is with the hypothesis that everything
>they reported was explainable/..


One can see why I have focused on "Blue Book Special Report 14"
in almost all my 700 UFO lectures and why debunkers have ignored
it. But there are a few more points that must be made here:

l. No sighting could be listed as UNKNOWN unless all 4 Final
Report evaluators agreed it was an UNKNOWN. Any 2 could label it
as astronomical, aircraft, balloon etc Very conservative
approach.

2. Bruce has noted one falsifiable aspect: If some UFOs were
really unidentifiable, than the better the quality of the
observation, the more likely to be UNKNOWNS. Passes that test.

3. If UNKNOWNS are just missed knowns, than a careful
statistical analysis (i.e. Chi square) on the basis of
observable characteristics such as apparent color , shape, size
etc, should show that the probability that the UNKNOWNS are just
missed knowns is very high. Sorry Skeptics, the Probability that
the UNKNOWNS are just missed knowns is less than 1%.

4. Some disbelievers claim the only reason a few cases remain
unidentifiable is that there just wasn't enough data. FALSE.
Insufficient DATA was a separate category. Not enough data = NOT
an UNKNOWN.

5.Another false claim of disbelievers is that observations don't
last very long.. just a few seconds. More hogwash.. UNKNOWNS are
observed on the average for longer than KNOWNS. More than 60% of
the UNKNOWNS were observed for longer than 60 seconds. More than
35% were observed for longer than 5 minutes and more than 10%
were observed for longer than 30 minutes.

6. The definition of UNKNOWN "Those reports of sightings wherein
the description of the object and its maneuvers could not be
fitted to the pattern of any known object or phenomenon".

7. I frequently have heard remarks to the notion that most
sightings are hoaxes or from crazy people. MORE NONSENSE. In BB
SR 14 only 2% were listed as hoaxes and only 1.5% of the cases
were listed as "psychological aberrations". The American
Physicial Society to which professional physicists such as Bruce
Maccabee and myself belong, once said that 2%of the papers
submitted to it were crackpot papers.

Please contrast the facts with this strange (totally without
substantiation or merit) statement by Carl Sagan "There are no
interesting UFO sightings that are reliable and no reliable
sightings that are interesting" I should also point out that
Battelle's connection with this study was considered classified
for many years and that the Air Force Press Release given very
wide distribution (though not noting author, title or BMI)
included the following totally false claim by the Secretary of
the Air Force Donald Quarles"On the basis of this report we
believe that no objects such as those popularly described as
flying saucers have overflown the United States. Even the
unknown 3% could have been identified as conventional phenomena
or illusions if more complete observational data had been
available." Now that takes Chutzpah.



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