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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 21

Re: The Ten Cases

From: RobIrving@aol.com
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 21:15:46 EDT
Fwd Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998 05:57:03 -0400
Subject: Re: The Ten Cases

> Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: The Ten Cases
>  From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
>  Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 15:46:17 -0400
>  To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>


>  These cases are, BTW indicative and evidential. What the heck
>  else does suggestive mean, anyway?

I guess it all comes down to standards of evidence again. A part
of this discussion was about whether and why ETH proponents have
difficulties in getting their evidence accepted on a scientific
level - as if, at worst, a kind of suppression of evidence
occurs, or at best, what we might call 'orthodoxy-influenced'

What generally concerns me is that you consider witness reports
as evidence - hard data. Of course in one sense they are;
they're the accumulated data of what people say they
experienced. This would no doubt be useful to an anthropologist,
and perhaps even eventually as supportive evidence. But you seem
to present it as if there is no question of its veracity; as
solid and undisputable.

An anthropologist would tell you that as evidence witness
reports are by their nature unreliable, and present up-to-date
studies that support this - Loftus, for example. A physical
scientist will tell you that unverifiable evidence is no

Therein lies the problem. Dennis meant 'evidential' in the sense
of it being defensible at a certain level - he said 'in a court
of law'. In general terms, witness evidence isn't. Nor are
confessions, btw.

You might ask, who would want to confess to a crime they didn't
commit? Whatever the answer, the fact is that some people do.

That's not to say that most testimony is untrue, just that you
can't say with any level of certainty, as you seem to be, that
they are.

As I said originally, the ETH is rooted in belief; one is either
inclined to believe these reports to be literally true or one
isn't. Greg argued in his original message that Occam's razor
should cut in favour of the former, being the simplest
explanation, even in the absence of physical evidence. However,
an abundance of evidence exists to counter this.

Despite your earlier arguments you are no more qualified to
decide the truth of these reports as I, or anyone. As has been
repeatedly demonstrated, it is possible that the witnesses
themselves cannot be entirely objective about what they saw.

You are arguing that it's more reasonable to accept these
stories as objectively true. I am arguing that it's more
reasonable to place them in the "who knows?" tray. In other
words, who knows until we see and can properly evaluate better

On this point, what makes me suspicious is that such 'evidence'
is rarely forthcoming, which could either be because ET is much
too smart to leave any, investigators are too stupid to collect
it or leave it uncontaminated, or because there is a reluctance
on the part of ufologists to supply evidence for independent

Anyway, that's basically what "suggestive" means.

>>How was this 1-2% arrived at?
>The AF classified approximately that percentage as hoaxes.

Tell me, have you ever rejected anything the AF has told you on
the basis that you thought it ridiculous? Forgive me Mark, but
you appear to have a typically naive idea of 'hoaxing', and what
might motivate 'hoaxers', just as I suspect the AF had...
however many years ago they came up with that figure. For you to
blandly quote this figure without taking into consideration the
effect an increase in public awareness in UFOs (whatever that
means) may have re people's motives for 'hoaxing' doesn't do
your argument credit.

No doubt you've read Jerome's interesting piece on this subject
in Stein's Encyclopedia of Hoaxes, or Marcello Truzzi's
analysis. As Jerome states, 'hoaxes that focus on unusual aerial
phenomena predate the modern UFO age by decades'.

Just as, in my opinion, ufologists tend to immunize themselves
from criticism by falsely characterising it - i.e. your comment,
"standard debunker's line" - so a similarly dismissive and
unrealistic argument is usually offered against 'hoaxing'; that
'hoaxers' are motivated by money, or attention, or even malice.
The 'genuine' v 'hoax' mentality that prevails in ufology may be
convenient, but from my experience the reality is much more

Re. Valensole: I asked...

>"What was the police's interest in coming to a conclusion either

I still think this is a relevant question, by the way. It stands
alone, but I'll tell you what makes me ask. In Wiltshire,
England, there is a farmer who tacitly allowed people to put
crop circles on her land. In one year she received 21 formations
of various sizes. Coupled with this were her own accounts of
ET-oriented phenomena. The local police, which I interviewed,
were more willing to take her version of things than face what
was actually happening (crime). This was probably simply because
she was local, and known to them - as she refused to accept that
these circles were 'hoaxes' she made no complaint (except
against people who argued they were hoaxes, whom she promptly
banned from her land), and so it was not really the police's
business. Bearing in mind, I believe it is quite relevant to ask
what would be the police's motivation in questioning the
Valensole farmer's story. Not least for you to look at the
scenario from a different perspective.

>I did, by the way, list the differences in my response to the
>sea serpent analogy. It applies equally well to the BVM or
>ghost stories. Perhaps you'd care to respond to that rather
>than putting the onus on me to disprove that your analogies

Sorry, like Jerome I have deadlines, so I have not been paying
the attention your response deserved.

>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.

Not to be argumentative, but I can't see why hallucination
necessarily equates to "a case of psychosis". If you have ever
seriously studied cognitive science you wouldn't make such a
comment. Equally, why think that hoaxers automatically reveal
hoaxes? And there are many examples where 'hoaxers' have
revealed their involvement in UFO 'events' only for ufologists
to choose not to believe them. This makes sense, right?.. "Why
believe an admitted hoaxer?" I hear this all the time, and it
rather negates your simplistic view of 'hoax' revelations.

>You suggest that this case is not necessarily any different from
>"sea-serpent" stories.

Actually I think I said "lake monsters" - it's different... but

There's an excellent "sea-goat" report I thought I might run by
you, maybe next time.

>Yet, why choose this analogy, except to follow a standard
>debunker's line of guilt by association?

I don't know why you assume that I think such stories are untrue
- so no, I chose these analogies because I think they are

>Is there any other salient point of comparison other than your
>personal sense of a common strangeness in the resulting reports?

Uh, yes. Arguably they may be inherent to environment, but I'll
let the PSHers argue that. The most salient point I would make
off the top of my head is that it seems that whatever people
report seeing, in many cases they come away believing they've
seen it.

>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.

Easy to say (see above). Have you ever considered that this kind
of arbitrary characterization of opposing views to yours
provides reinforcement by discouraging consideration of
evidence? These are certainly not new debating techniques, Mark.

>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.

Have you ever noticed how it is often the 'investigator' that
puts these values on reports? Respect for list decency precludes
me from mentioning names. "Tales", btw, is your word. To me,
'story' and 'report' are not as different as you suggest -- in
this context, they are both accounts of what people say they
saw. I am not implying, as you appear to think, that by 'story'
the teller is making things up. For what it's worth, I suspect
that you favour 'report' because it has a more scientific ring
to it, and is therefore more believable. It's a funny thing,
syntax. I use 'story' to remind you what they basically are.

Incidentally, attempts to rationalise what we don't understand
is common to all sorts of situations. It's entirely natural.

>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.

That is probably because you're unfamiliar with the literature
-- I am sure there are many common examples (if my books weren't
boxed up - sorry, out of reach of this armchair - I'd look some
up for you).

What exactly do you mean by instruments, btw? Cameras? Radar?

I could offer various examples where say, the Loch Ness monster
has been 'located' on radar. As for the Blessed Virgin, you are
right - there couldn't have been many (if any) sightings of Her
on radar, due mainly to the ground-level nature of Her
appearances, I suspect. But all manner of 'popular' phenomena
have been captured on camera. I hope you're not about to suggest
that there's more likelihood of them being faked or
misinterpretations because you don't belief they exist.

In another post you stated...

>Perhaps you didn't realize that in the 1940s, ETH was not even in
>the running as a theory for UFOs, as far as the public was


>It was only cases like those I listed, which became
>famous in the press, that caused the change in opinion.

I hadn't realized this. So where in your opinion does Wells,
Welles, Fort's theory of ET (circa 1923), late-19th century
airship 'reports', etc., etc., fit in to this view?


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