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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 18

Re: The Ten Cases

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 00:46:02 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 04:31:30 -0400
Subject: Re: The Ten Cases

> From: RobIrving@aol.com
> Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 18:30:53 EDT
> To: updates@globalserve.net
> Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: The Ten Cases

<large snip of material basically summed below>

> I'm not saying that I disbelieve the Valensole account, nor am I
> arguing against your apparent belief in it... only that you seem
> not to recognise the incongruity of accepting stories on little
> evidence and your claim to be taking a scientific approach in
> investigating them.

And, Rob, you seem every so often to forget exactly what
the point was of listing these cases. It wasn't to prove that
UFOs exist. It was to list cases "suggestive" of ETH.

Now let's take the concepts you put forward

1) That I "believe in" "stories"...

2) That I accept the "stories" on little evidence of their

3) That Valensole and other older cases are essentially no
   different from any other tall tale.

First, I don't "believe in" things. I grant a certain weight to
various reports based on what we know about the reporter(s), the
investigator(s), and the circumstances in each case. As for
Valensole, we have no reason to doubt the witness' veracity
based on his reputation in the community, his lack of reason to
create a hoax, and the several investigations carried out by
police, reporters, and known field investigators. Further, the
fact that between 1 and 2 percent of cases have been found to be
hoaxes tends to lower the probability of this case being a hoax.
Finally, the presence of corroborating physical traces at the
site, which were apparently not normal for the area, adds
additional weight to the report.

To argue that a case is invalid because a hoax is easier to
accept than the content of the report is ridiculous. To claim
that the police simply shrugged concerning this case is a claim
with no evidence.

As far as dealing with such a report scientifically, I will
refer you to the basis of the scientific method. The scientific
method requires first, something to explain - for instance, this
case. It next requires a hypothesis to explain it - for
instance, that it is a hoax, or the product of mental
derangement, or that it is some sort of wild perceptual fault.
It then requires a discriminator to determine whether or not the
hypothesis is supported by the evidence - for instance, did the
witness show a propensity for hoaxes, did advantage accrue to
the witness as a result of the story, did the witness have a
history of mental illness, were the characteristics of the
object and its occupants similar to what might be expected of
military air personnel and aircraft. The discriminator is then
compared to the evidence - in this case, there appears to be no
support for misperception, hoax, or hallucination.

Having determined this, the case is then moved from the initial
report classification to the UFO category, where further
hypotheses can be tested against it.

Over time, other investigators have an opportunity to examine
the witness and the evidence. For instance, if the witness
develops a case of psychosis, this might suggest a hallucination
was in fact responsible. Or a hoaxer may reveal the hoax. Such
events have not apparently occurred in this case.

You suggest that this case is not necessarily any different from
"sea-serpent" stories. Yet, why choose this analogy, except to
follow a standard debunker's line of guilt by association? Is
there any other salient point of comparison other than your
personal sense of a common strangeness in the resulting reports?
It is that sort of fallacious reasoning which has led to the
baroque theories of the debunkers on the one hand and the
bizarre associations in PNH on the other.

As I pointed out in another message, UFO reports are
qualitatively different from many types of "tales" - in their
lack of a conventional narrative structure, their lack of a
resolving explanation, and in the attempt of the witness to
generate several levels of conventional explanation prior to
admitting the presence of a novel stimulus. Furthermore, the
presence of multiple independent witnesses in many cases, the
ability to detect the UFO with instruments that indicate the
same location for a luminous phenomenon observed by a witness
and an instrumental detection, take them far from any ghost or
sea-serpent story I am familiar with.

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -
Author of SF novels available at...

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