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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 17

Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

From: Claude MAUGE <claudemauge.nul>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 19:13:06 +0200 (CEST)
Archived: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 21:09:41 -0400
Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?


There are several interesting things in the present discussion
about the topics "Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?", for which the
name "Is Ufology Science?" would be now probably more accurate.
I don't intend here to review the whole contributions, but I
have a few remarks on some points before presenting a past
attempt for trying to list the various reasons for which
scientists may have globally no interest in the UFO question.

>From: Franck Boitte <franckboitte.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2007 12:34:20 +0200
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>The present status of ufology compared to science is in my
>opinion to be compared to the one alchemistry occupied vis =C3 
>vis chemistry in the medieval rimes. Analogy to cosmology as
>proposed by Mr. White is certainly justified as the latest space
>exploration discoveries have notably increased the probability
>of life elsewhere in the Universe and by consequencee the
>probabilty that UFOs might indeed be extraneous manifestations
>from an "outside" realm. In other words, "not if this Earth".
>Only time will tell, but actually this twenty years ago
>completely unprevisible new paradigm evidently is considered by
>skeptics such as Mr. Mauge and his friends as an irritating
>stone throwed in their grapevine.

>That's why they desperately try to strongly dissociate the two
>domains.

As far as I know, cosmology itself offers no clue about the
question of the life in the universe, except at a very general
level such as in the discussions (not very recent) about the
anthropic principle. They are however far closer to philosophy
than to science. As for the probability of life elsewhere, it is
far from being evident that it was increased by the recent
discoveries. First, because there are still huge uncertainties
about many parameters which are fundamental for the questions of
the origin and evolution of life. And second, because the many
discovered exoplanets are "wrong" planets at the "wrong" place.
In the '70s and the '80s, several scientific papers had "proved"
by simulations that there were probably in the universe many
planetary systems basically as ours, that is with "little"
planets between the star and much bigger planets outside: as the
Mediocrity Principle asserts, the solar system was thus a
mundane system. But the known exoplanets are mostly giant ones
very close to their sun, and therefore the solar system is not
as mundane as it was thought. Only one conclusion can be drawn:
for the time being, we don't know; so we must await for future
developments (a point where I agree with Franck Boitte).

>Moreover, Mauge's oblique reference to parapsychology and
>cryptozoology is an old trick frequently used by his peers to
>muddy waters and discredit ufology. Cryptozoology put aside,
>even if I recognize there actually are some psy aspects in some
>- yet not all - ufological events, they are only anecdotic and
>serious ufology doesn't need to presently bother with them.


Boitte misunderstand what I had said about other disciplines
such as cryptozoology or parapsychology: my purpose was only to
compare the status of several "parasciences" (or "marginal
sciences" if one prefers), not to tackle the place of psi within
ufology (parapsychological effects or hypotheses), which is a
totally different question, nor to discredit ufology by the
comparison itself.

 ----

>From: Jerome Clark jkclark.nul
>To: ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Sun, 14 Oct 20007 17:02:48 -0500
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>We "senior ufologists" discount conspirational allegations of
>the sort you [Eleanor White] mention because they're manifestly
>unnecessary, for

>one thing, and there's no evidence supporting them, for another.

I agree fully, as obviously many people too, either proponents
or "pelicanists". However, two interesting questions arise
immediately. First, how can you explain that other proponents,
even among respected ufologists, are firmly convinced that there
is a conspiration and that they have enough proofs of it?

Second, how may you use this argument while implicitely refusing
to the skeptics (and even the debunkers) the right to say: "We
skeptics discount UFO existence allegations of the sort you [the
proponents] mention because they're manifestly unnecessary, for
one thing, and there's no really convincing evidence supporting
them, for another"? I'm not saying here that the skeptics are
necessarily right (I think it's so, no more), but that your
argument can be used against you.

---

>From: Gerald O'Connell <gac.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2007 02:20:27 +0100
>Subject: Re: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

>Why should the whole of the rest of the world bend both its
>media and academic structures out of shape in order to go along
>with an American desire to retain a secret monopoly on alien
>technology retrieved at Roswell? Why doesn't Castro's Cuba
>embarrass the NSA by offering university degrees in Ufology in
>the same way that it embarrasses the USA by offering high
>quality cut-price medical degrees to impoverished American
>students? - The list of awkward questions like this is as
>genuinely endless as America is friendless.

>In short, the argument is far more narrow-minded than any
>supposed suppression of scientific truth on the part of the
>secrecy conspirators upon whose far-reaching actions it depends.
>They can bribe/influence Fox, ABC etc., but China? Iran? India?
>Russia? Venezuela? France? For sixty years? Are they all queuing
>up to do the bidding of the Secrecy Group and make sure that
>their limbo lighting meets standards of spooky luminescence set
>by the Pentagon?

>How long before somebody is trying to persuade us that the (most
>recent) invasion of Iraq was really precipitated by Saddam
>Hussein's intention to make an impartial documentary about
>Roswell, or to offer doctorates in the Ufological Sciences at
>Baghdad Technical Institute?

Yes! Hundred times yes!! Thousand times yes!!! The answers (if
any) by the proponents of the "cosmic Watergate" to Gerald
O'Connell's arguments will probably be instructive...

Here is now the part entitled "The reasons for the disinterest
of scientists in UFOs" of a letter I had sent on 23 May 1999 to
some persons after the 1997 Pocantico meeting organized by Peter
A. Sturrock. It is very slightly edited (e.g. for the
numbering), and with a very few changes in double parentheses
((...)). SR means "Sturrock Report", in the Journal of
Scientific Exploration version and pagination (vol 12 No 2,
Summer 1998).

1. In order to solve a problem, whatever its nature, we must
first analyze it. If the ufologists want to interest scientists
in UFOs, they must thus try to understand why scientists are not
generally interested in UFOs. A possible way could be to try to
understand why some scientists are interested in UFOs. As far as
I know, we don't have any general answer, but only the reasons
why a few of them became interested (e.g. James McDonald: to see
if reports of rare meteorological phenomena were hidden in UFO
reports; Claude Poher: to convince a friend that UFOs did not
exist). But let us now return to the original question.

2. In the IUR vol. 23 No 3, Michael Swords and Mark Rodeghier
give two partial reasons (in French, I should have written
"partiel et partial", "in part and biased"):

2.1 "As a historian of this subject I [Swords] know how much
damage wrong-headed travesties like the Robertson Panel and the
Condon summary of the Colorado Project have done to the field. I
know how much damage that apparently obsessed debunkers like
Donald Menzel or public relations magicians like Carl Sagan have
done to the academic community's openness to the subject". This
is of course true, but this is only a small part of the truth.

2.2 Likewise, Rodeghier is only partly right when he writes:

..."why we seem to have made so little progress in
understanding the UFO phenomenon after 50 years...

There is a simple answer to this criticism: UFOs have rarely
been studied scientifically with a concerted effort because the
subject has never been given the resources and personnel it
needs to attack the problem properly".

3. Peter Sturrock is more judicious in his analysis when he
notes (SR 185) that "This may be due in part to the fact that
there are no public funds to support research into this issue,
in part to the assumption that there are no data worth
examining, in part to the belief that the Colorado study
has effectively settled the question, and possibly in part to
the perception that the topic is in some sense 'not
respectable'. The relative importance of these four causes is
unclear". He adds immediately that "the general perception in
the scientific community is that, if UFO reports pose a
scientific problem at all, it has more to do with psychology and
the science of perception than with physical science", which can
be seen as a variant of his second reason ("no data").

Sturrock returns later (SR 211-212) to the problem and writes
that "There is no doubt that this lack of curiosity is due in
part to a lack of reliable and accessible information". He calls
thus for a change in policy on the part of scientific journal
editors and of scientific societies' leaders.

4. In his really remarkable UFO Handbook (p. 13-16), Allan
Hendry gave the following answer to a slightly different
problem:

"If ufology has failed to take its place with accepted
disciplines like astronomy, meteorology, or mathematics, it is
not without reasons. Here are six of the most important:

[4.]1 Stories =3D Data. Most of the information we possess on UFOs
is anecdotal in nature, and UFO cases that are built solely on
human testimony form 'soft data' indeed. Just how soft should be
a matter of primary concern for those who promote the importance
of the UFO reports. Yet no direct experiments have been
performed by them in thirty years to verify witness
reliability... [Did the situation change since 1979?].

[4.]2 Too much variety, too few patterns.

Attempts to force apparently unrelated events under a single
umbrella have effectively warded off the scientific community


[4.]3 UFOs belong to no branch of science exclusively. [...
therefore, necessity of an interdisciplinary effort...]

[4.]4 UFOs =3D Aliens from space.

...this unproven explanation scheme has become such a handy and
popular cliche that even the scientific community is inclined to
equate the two automatically .

[4.]5 IFOs overwhelm UFOs - in numbers. The poor signal-to-noise
ratio of UFOs to IFOs has always been a tough problem to
surmount. When you consider the very definitions of the terms
'UFO' and 'IFO', it becomes clear that their separate identities
will always be based on judgment. [...]

[4.]6 UFOs vs. the laws of physics

... UFOs violate them."

4.7 In the same pages, Hendry mentions too the lack of
reliability of the UFO milieu, its links with the occult, its
methodological inadequacies. For instance: "While previous
accounts in the literature have been provocative, they have
failed to serve as solid research data [an equivalent of what
the Pocantico Scientific Panel said 18 years later!]. Some of
the reasons are readily apparent. The information has been
second- or third-hand and thus vulnerable to generation errors.
It is hard to compare the cases in the literature when standard
investigation methods have not been adopted. Many reports are
cursory at best and lack important information about apparent
size, direction, weather, etc."

There are of course numerous reports which contain many
informations, particularly with complex affairs. But if we take
into account the fact that most of their authors are strong
proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, we must wonder if
they ((to be replaced by: a large part of them)) are as
objective as it appears at first (Hendry's point 4).

5. I agree totally with Hendry's views, and I think that
ufologists ought to make their own examination of conscience
before to impute the lack of interest of scientists only to
causes external to the ufological milieu. After all, Laurance
Rockefeller and Peter Sturrock "agreed that the problem is in a
very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion" (SR 182),
as well as the Pocantico Scientific Panel in other terms.

Other reasons exist too. I tried to classify them in a few
categories, but this can be seen only as a provisional attempt
because the picture is incomplete and because the categories are
not fully independant.

6. Reasons linked with the UFO phenomenon.

6.1 The nature of the UFO data: *They are essentially
testimonies, reports, with all the correlated problems (cf.
Hendry 4.1), worsened by the low reliability of the ufologists
(7). *They concern events which appear to be essentially
impredictible (with a few exceptions: Hessdalen Valley) and
which cannot be reproduced. *The harder data present their own
problems, as it was said several times by the Panel.

6.2 "Too much variety, too few patterns" (with Hendry's words).
*Moreover, the presence or absence of a given feature, for
instance an "electromagnetic" effect, seems to be totally due to
pure chance.

6.3 The "poor signal-to-noise ratio of UFOs to IFOs", perhaps
due to the phenomenon itself but also in a big part to 7.1. This
could be a possible explanation for 6.2. *Plus the apparent
indistinguishability of UFOs and IFOs.

6.4 The aberrant features of the UFO phenomenon taken as a whole
and of many cases. For instance: *The violation of laws of
physics. *Many cases seem to be a stage prepared for the witness
(or even for a specific witness). *UFOs and the phenomenon as a
whole do not behave as we expect from advanced beings ((yes,
it's anthropomorphism; the point here is that this behaviour can
antagonize certain scientists)).

6.5 The UFO phenomenon presents features which are obviously
linked with our human minds (features present in little known
science-fiction stories prior the '40s; strong symbolic content
of several cases; cases with a content linked to the personal
concerns of the witness).

7. _Reasons linked with the ufologists_.

7.1 Low reliability of the UFO milieu taken as a whole. ((5
lines deleted. See previous post "A Skeptical View of UFOs")).

7.2 As a consequence, we lack (despite several interesting
attempts) a good definition, a good classification scheme, etc.
(Hynek's six types have only a circumstancial value and do not
describe all the possible cases, even with the additions of
contacts, CE4 and CE5). These are yet the basic elements of any
science.

7.3 The "UFOs =3D Aliens from space" equation, which shaped many
consciences and innumerable writings.

8. _Reasons linked to science (as a knowledge system)_.

8.1 "UFOs belong to no branch of science exclusively" (Hendry).
See also 9.1.

8.2 Science has implicite presuppositions (postulates) which
shape our general views about the universe, life, consciousness,
etc., and which can be incompatible with what we perceive from
the UFO phenomenon (only one example: the immensity of cosmic
distances).

8.3 Particularly, the usual perception of UFOs as
extraterrestrial devices poses very serious problems.

9. _"Philosophical" reasons linked to scientists_.

9.1 We don't really know the field(s) of science to which UFOs
belong (cf. 8.1)., we don't have an acceptable theoretical frame
for rendering the UFO phenomenon.

9.2 The UFO problem can be rejected because of philosophical
prejudices, particulary when it is perceived through the E.T.
interpretation/worldview ((but also through parapsychological or
religious hypotheses, or others)). *Many people can fear to have
to reintroduce supranormality in our world.

9.3 Subject perceived as "not respectable" (Sturrock), because
both philosophical reasons and a poor knowledge of it.

9.4 Belief that the UFO problem has more to do with human
sciences than with physical (or natural) sciences (from
Sturrock), and thus that "there are no data worth examining"
(Sturrock).

10. _"Material" reasons linked to scientists, to science as a
social institution_.

10.1 Lack of reliable information, because of: *Lack of time.
*Phenomenon perceived essentially through general and ufological
medias, which are not really reliable (7). *Negative influence
of Condon's biased summary of the Colorado study, and possibly
of other "noisy negativists" (true, but we must not forget that
"noisy positivists" are far numerous!).

10.2 ((Shifted to 9.4. Was previously here because it could be
due to the lack of information)).

10.3 Career constraints (such reasons apply particularly in
physical sciences, but ((except for the third point)) lesser in
human sciences): *Very difficult and pluridisciplinary subject,
therefore little compatible with the "publish or perish"
commandment, and with a very uncertain payback. *Difficulty to
find a manager tolerant enough (because of this uncertain output
and of 9.3). *Scientific research has its own fashions.

10.4 Lack of (public) funding (at least partly a consequence of
some above reasons). (Proponent ufologists ought to be aware
that such an argument could be contradictory with some of their
favorite claims: if "the government" positively knows that
aliens are among us, that we possess some of their craft, etc.,
I cannot imagine that numerous top level scientists are not paid
to study the problem in high priority structures; but who are
these scientists (Corso ((Lazar))???!!!)? What are these
structures?).

As for the "noisy positivists", may I add the following remark?
Possibly because I tend to share the basic tenet of "noisy
negativists" (there are no true-UFOs) and can thus have a biased
view, I think sincerely that the former are far more dangerous
than the latter for the UFO Cause and its perception among the
general public and the scientists. A very recent post on this
List is a good illustration. Can an ufologist claiming to be
serious take at face value the announcement, even in an
interrogative form, of the involvement in the Roswell crash of
Nazis who wanted to steal an A-bomb? And it will not be
enough to laugh and to say "it's a Science Fiction book". For it
is well possible that several medias will later promote the book
(probably most often only to make money, but possibly for some
for ideological reasons). O.K., I can admit freely here that the
author of the book is not a respected ufologist and perhaps not
an ufologist. But will that matter among the public? Alas, this
is only one example among hundred or thousand others, many of
which by acknowledged ufologists...


Best regards,

Claude Mauge



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