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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Aug > Aug 4

Re: Expert Opinions

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 10:26:52 -0500
Archived: Sat, 04 Aug 2007 08:23:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Expert Opinions


>From: Paul Scott Anderson <paulscottanderson.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2007 11:18:01 -0700
>Subject: Expert Opinions [was: Why The Cover-Up?]

>>From: John Rimmer <j.rimmer.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:15:09 +0100
>>Subject: Re: Why The Cover-Up?

>>It would be a good thing if you could come up with a few more
>>examples, as the meteorites story gets trotted out so often
>>that it'a almost becoming counterproductive, rather like the
>>'more things in heaven and earth' quote that's almost a signal
>>that the writer is scraping the bottom of the barrel for an
>>argument!

>Some of these may be more pertinent than others, but here is an
>interesting list of 'expert opinions':

The well-traveled quotations (snipped; see Anderson's post if
you want to read them yet again) are none of them pertinent, I'm
afraid. They deal with predictions related to physics and
technology, proving only that some prominent scientists have
been lousy prophets about what technology will make possible -
sort of like, say, the Gehrmanists when they predict that
interstellar travel will never happen (my own non-prophet's
guess, by the way, is sometime in the late 21st Century). Even
the wisest among us, alas, cannot predict the future. Or the
silliest, either.

Aside from its dogmatic beliefs about what the physics and
technology to come will or won't be able to accomplish,
Gehrmanism is not about future prediction but about projection
into the past, where the evidence, if it existed, would be
massive and sufficiently recoverable that no serious observer
would have to wave his hands through empty rhetorical space to
explain away its absence, aside from the (pause for belly
laughs) alien-autopsy film. If one were to seek an actual
analogy, it would be this:

A lay theorist, absent credentials and support from scientists
and scholars in the relevant areas, advances an ultra-
extraordinary claim which, if true, would upend knowledge across
a range of well-established disciplines based in firmly and
broadly documented findings. To every available indication, such
data render the layman's claim on its face somewhere between
extremely unlikely and laughable.

Anyone who ventured forth in this fashion, in the improbable
outcome of triumph against all odds and most science, would not
be the counterpart to Darwin and Einstein; after all, Darwin and
Einstein were credentialed scientists working within established
disciplines, with support from important colleagues, and finding
their way via the recognized procedures of the professional
community. In fact, given its magnitude, the achievement of the
lay theorist would be _greater_ than Darwin's and Einstein's. He
or she would be a towering figure not just in science but in all
of history.

But in the real world, if you're searching for an analogy, it's
this one:

A huge crank literature written by lay theorists (or, in some
much rarer cases, maverick scientists operating outside their
professional disciplines) proposes comparably enormous notions.
It accompanies them with denunciations of mainstream scientists
and excoriates all critics as comparable to Galileo's
inquisitors.

The moral of the story: Human beings, even the most well-
intentioned of them, are wrong far more often than they're
right. Of all efforts humans have devised to try to reduce error
in our understanding of life, the universe, and everything,
empirical science - while not perfect; perfection does not exist
in this world - is demonstrably and consistently the most
successful. Overthrowing science is infinitely more difficult
than overthrowing, say, a literary theory fashionable in English
departments or a historians' consensus about the causes of the
Spanish-American War.

Next time, Anderson might try quoting from crank literature. I'd
be good for laughs, obviously, but it would also be instructive
- and a whole lot closer, I think, to the point.


Jerry Clark

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast

See:

http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/


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