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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 13

Witnesses & Their Senses [was: Larry King Live:

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 18:23:53 -0600
Archived: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 08:45:49 -0500
Subject: Witnesses & Their Senses [was: Larry King Live:

>From: Richard Hall <dh12.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 18:22:15 -0500
>Subject: Re: Larry King Live: Friday, November 9th, 2007

>>From: Brian Ally <ufoupdates.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:22:58 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Larry King Live: Friday, November 9th, 2007

>>>From: Eleanor White <eleanor.nul>
>>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>>Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 15:45:35 -0500
>>>Subject: Re: Larry King Live: Friday, November 9th, 2007

>>>My major complaint was that Buzz Aldrin seemed, to me anyway, at
>>>one point, to be saying that UFO sightings are highly dubious
>>>because people are easily fooled.

>>It is a well-established fact that people, in general, _are_
>>easily fooled. As such, the majority of UFO sightings are
>>'highly dubious' and need to be approached with a healthy dose
>>of scepticism.

>Otherwise, yes, poor or
>inexperienced observers are often fooled and do contribute
>'noise' to the UFO question. Any halfway serious investigation,
>though, could easily deal with this problem.

It depends upon how you define "fooled". Sometimes, as everybody
knows, witnesses fail to identify a conventional stimulus, but
as a general principle they are not "fooled" about what their
senses were telling them. Their accounts of what they saw are
accurate enough. That's why it's possible to solve many
sightings simply from the witness' description. It's not the
details that are in error - they're generally correct - it's the
interpretation. As Brad Sparks points out, many of these
witnesses are simply puzzled and confused, not (beloved urban
legend notwithstanding) out there declaring they saw a UFO/alien

I spend a good portion of my waking hours reading old newspapers
on line in search of anomalous material. It's amazing how often
I am able to solve a case simply from what the witness says.
Overwhelmingly, in these instances, even before 1947 witnesses
were more inclined, simply and wisely, to express puzzlement
than to champion some extraordinary interpretation.

There are always exceptions, of course, because human beings are
all different. I think, however, that we need to weigh our words
carefully. If it were true that as a general principle people's
intelligence, faculties, and perceptual apparatuses are so out
of whack that they are easily and routinely fooled, you'd have
to wonder what human evolution has been up to all this time - or
how we can even run a functioning and deeply complicated society
which depends on all sorts of accurate perceptual skills. My
suspicion is that the "easily fooled" (as opposed to
occasionally fooled) trope is more a function of unexamined
disbelief tradition - which has to do _something_ to dispose of
masses of extraordinary testimony over the centuries - than with
something that can be objectively demonstrated.

We need, for example, to examine under what circumstances
mistaken observations are most likely to be made, and in which
the observations are more likely to be accurate, _without_
prejudging the epistemological status of the phenomenon
reportedly seen - leaving that question for another time.

Disbelief tradition is a classic intellectual error, ensuring
that only conclusions that validate preexisting belief are
judged free of error. I guess that approach would be defensible
if we did indeed know everything, as the CNN reporters who spent
part of today sneering at the National Press Club witnesses
apparently believe (at least on camera).

Jerry Clark

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



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