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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 6

Re: Friedman vs. Krauss Debate

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 99 10:54:17 PDT
Fwd Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999 20:19:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Friedman vs. Krauss Debate


>Date: Mon, 5 Apr 1999 21:51:20 +0100
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>From: John Rimmer <magonia@magonia.demon.co.uk>
>Subject: Re: Friedman vs. Krauss Debate

>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>>Subject: Re: Friedman vs. Krauss Debate
>>Date: Sun, 04 Apr 99 14:23:13 PDT

>>>Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 22:22:07 -0500
>>>From: Peter Brookesmith Mendoza <DarkSecretPB@compuserve.com>
>>>Subject: Friedman vs. Krauss Debate
>>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>


Hi, John,

>>In fact, if he could read better, he would have seen that my
>>posting was just a light-hearted response to a dumb,
>>self-serving statement John Rimmer, who is not ordinarily dumb
>>or self-serving, had made.

>Dumb? Self-serving? Moi? A couple of people, undeterred by
>Jerry's dismissive attitude to a reasonable request for "good
>cases" have replied in other postings and quoted cases which
>they think cannot be put down to mundane causes. This may be so,
>and I am sure that Magonia or the Magonia Monthly Supplement,
>will look at some of these cases in detail.

One thing that strikes me from this current exchange between
proponents of UFOs as anomalous physical phenomena and those who
hold them to be cultural artifacts is how little the latter are
paying attention anymore to what the former are saying.  John
has had to be reminded of discussions that addressed the very
issues of which he claims to know nothing on this list just
weeks and months ago.  Apparently when you've got all the
answers, you're excused from paying any further attention.

And while I am at it, John, here's a little challenge for you:
Show me an exchange between skeptics and proponents of ball
lightning in which the latter were challenged to produce their
10 best cases, on which presumably their case rises or falls.
I look forward to your answer.

>However my request was for cases which were indicative of
>extraterrestrial intervention, not simply puzzling "unexplained"
>cases. Some of these cases may be indicative of an "Objectively
>Existing Phenomenon", be it earthlights, secret aircraft,
>electromagnetically created plasma, or what you will. But a
>puzzling unexplained case simply means that we don't have all
>the evidence. It does not mean that it represents
>extraterrestrial intervention.

What do you want, reports of UFOs with Martian bumper stickers?
Let's concentrate first on the investigation and documentation
of cases which suggest UFOs to be physical and technological. I
know Magonians have never been comfortable with those kinds of
cases, but unfortunately, the UFO phenomenon seems supremely
indifferent to your comfort, or to the comfort of skeptics in
general.

>>I have written at length on the PSH
>>(of which John is a leading and articulate advocate), skeptics
>>and debunkers, and the hard evidence for UFO reality elsewhere,
>>in books and periodicals some of you, though apparently not
>>Peter, have read.  Those who want a full accounting, and a
>>serious, detailed examination of these issues, are referred to
>>these.

>Just one point Jerry: what do you mean by "UFO reality"? Surely
>we all accept that UFOs are a real phenomenon, otherwise we'd be
>doing something more constructive like macrame or seeing how
>many pints of Fuller's ESB we could sink without falling over!
>This is the sort of careless phrase, repeated without defining
>it, that causes endless confusion.

By "UFO reality" I use a phrase just about everybody else would
have no trouble understanding, since it has been used since the
early days of ufology.  Readers of True had only to read the
title "The Flying Saucers Are Real" to figure out what Donald
Keyhoe had to tell them in the article that followed.  "Real"
UFOs are UFOs that are what appearances suggest: physical
structures of unknown origin. The ETH is a reasonable attempt
to put such reports into a larger explanatory context, but it is
not essential to the current discussion, which needs to focus on
investigation and documentation rather than allow itself to be
sidetracked into premature speculation.

>Yes Jerry. What is this thing you have about librarians? I would
>suggest that being in a job where every day you are confronted
>by the mass of the general public in all their many forms,
>trying to provide information on almost every topic under the
>sun, and grappling with some of the most devious people on earth
>when it comes to getting the fines for overdue books out of
>them, would be quite good experience for a ufologist.

Actually, as one who frequents libraries and loves books, I am
all in favor of librarians.  The point, which I should have
thought obvious enough, is simply this:

Since psychosocial theorists love to indulge themselves in
speculation about the cultural and psychological reasons why
proponents might regard UFOs as real, physical, and
technological, PSH advocates have no right to complain when a
psychosocial light is turned on them.  Reading PSH literature,
this onetime (longtime ago, sigh) English major is struck by how
much it resembles not scientific discourse but literary
criticism.  This is precisely what one would expect of persons
who were trained in the liberal arts as opposed to the sciences.
That is also why PSH writing typically tells me more about the
persons who write it -- the sorts of persons I've known all my
life; my best friend is an English professor, and my fiance, who
has an advanced degree in English, writes literary text - and
reference books -- than it does about the larger UFO phenomenon
people actually experience.  My own first book, the lamentable
The Unidentified (still praised by PSHers), has English major
written all over it.

Because my own interests are largely literary, cultural, and
political, I honestly wish I could find PSH writing persuasive.
I would feel right at home with John and his merry band, turning
ufology into literary and social criticism.  I wouldn't be able
to tell you anything important about the UFO phenomenon as such,
but I'd be having a lot of fun, and it would be a lot more
cost-free, career- and respectability-wise, than being publicly
identified with the notion that UFOs are highly strange,
extraordinary phenomena.

>>does
>>>nothing to dispose of John's point that skeptics he has
>>>known (in the UK at least) have come to their current
>>>condition, perhaps best characterized by Raymond Cahndler's
>>>[sic] phrase "the dewy-eyed innocence of used-car salesmen",
>>>through hard work and wide experience. Helpful advice from
>>>the Boy Bishop for such good folk to "really get out more"
>>>is at best supercilious, at middle oblique, at worst plain
>>>stupid.

>>That was a _joke_ about getting out, guy.  Lemme repeat: a JOKE.
>>In point of fact, I know from personal experience (subject, of
>>course, to psychosocial exegesis and the usual blather about the
>>worthlessness of anecdotal testimony) that John Rimmer gets out
>>at least once in a while, because on one pleasant occasion I
>>spent an evening with him in a Chinese restaurant in London.

>It was a joke? Ha, ha! There, I feel better now. You still don't
>address my point that most sceptics active in the UFO field have
>come to their position *after* having been researching, reading
>and investigating for a considerable length of time. Their
>scepticism has arisen as a result of their research and has not
>been an a priori position.

Glad you feel better, John.

>People like Andy Roberts, David Clarke, Hilary Evans, Thierry
>Pinvidic, Bertrand Mehurst and even Old Uncle Mendoza and all,
>have spent plenty of time out of their armchairs doing
>investigations, and just as much in deep leather-bouind comfort
>reading the same reports and case histories that Jerome Clark
>has.

Since I barely know many of the people above (and Hilary Evans
and I belong to a mutual admiration society, and Roberts and
Clarke have just provided me two excellent manuscripts which
will appear in IUR), I will simply say, God bless 'em, every
one.

>I say this simply to point out that the wicked sceptics are not
>a strange species parachuted into the world of ufology from who
>knows where, but ufologists who had considered the evidence as
>much as everyone else, and dared to come to a different
>conclusion to Clark and Co.

John conveniently fails to note that there is plenty of traffic
in the other direction, and I am an example of same -- for which
I am certain never to be forgiven in certain quarters.  The
personal cost I've paid astounds even me, and the repercussions
continue. But it's not a story I will discuss in public.

>In conclusion, I think it unfair of Peter to call Jerry a
>Bishop. Such is his sense of his own infallibility he is clearly
>Pope Jerome!

PSH types are nothing if not amusing.  Here I of all people have
been accused of believing myself infallible, when -- as John
knows perfectly well -- I have on a number of occasions publicly
confessed to error when the occasion called for it. Even worse
from John's point of view, I have harshly criticized my own
early writing and moved from PSH-like neoskeptic (my first book
characterized UFO encounters as hallucinatory and subjective) to
the more realistic, pragmatic position I hold now.

Meanwhile, John's magazine Magonia sinks ever deeper into the
mud of a cause lost long ago. It and its monthly supplement
regularly congratulate themselves not only on their rationality
but on their victory over the heretics (for the most recent
example, see the opening remarks in the current monthly
supplement, posted elsewhere on this list). Magonia's notion of
victory reminds me of the late Vermont Sen. George Aiken's.  As
it became clear that America's venture into the Vietnam conflict
was not going to succeed, Aiken wryly suggested that America
declare victory and go home.  The sort of victory Magonia
regularly declares is of the distinctly Aikenian variety.

And since we're calling names, what are you?  As one who clearly
feels that he no longer needs to listen to what others are
saying -- presumably because you feel you have found your way to
the mountaintop -- may we start calling you Archangel John?
Nah, I don't think so.  But, guys, grow up, okay?

Jerry Clark



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