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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 25

Re: Non-investigated Flying Objects

From: Brad Sparks <RB47x.nul>
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 08:41:55 EDT
Archived: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 08:52:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Non-investigated Flying Objects

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 16:14:42 -0600
>Subject: Re: Non-Investigated Flying Objects

>>From: Brad Sparks <RB47x.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 22:17:48 EDT
>>Subject: Re: Non-Investigated Flying Objects

>>>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>>Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 10:41:00 -0600
>>>Subject: Re: Non-Investigated Flying Objects



>>>From your response of 21 Oct to Brad Sparks' proposal:

>>>"Far too much time is wasted on NFOs and far too much confusion
>>>is created by not focusing more on true UFOs (well-investigated
>>>former NFOs)."

>>>This certainly seems to entail an assumption about NFOs in the
>>>absence (by definition) of investigation. How does one reconcile
>>>this with the last sentence of your reply to me?

>>You lost me here. Dick was not assuming anything about the NFO
>>reports. His last sentence of his reply to you said "The whole
>>point is the need to investigate before assuming anything." I
>>don't see how he or I could be any clearer than that.

>Yes, it is crystal-clear that Dick's reply to me contradicts his
>previous comment to you (with which I agree). How can you
>characterize the uninvestigated cases as a waste of time, and in
>the same breath say the whole point is to investigate before
>assuming anything? It makes my head hurt.

Dick didn't say that _no_ effort at all should be spent on NFO
cases, only that "Far too much time was wasted on NFOs." That's
a value judgment on the prioritization of scarce investigative
resources, not a "characterization" of uninvestigated NFO cases,
i.e., their scientific content. One can choose to disagree about
that value judgment and that disagreement will reflect personal
subjective priorities, which can be based on subjective as well
as objective factors.

Dick was not talking about the objective meaning and scientific
significance of such NFO cases when he says that too much time
is wasted on NFO's - he is not identifying the objects or
phenomena involved or analyzing their appearance, motion or
other attributes when he says that.

Dick is quite right that one cannot extract much, if any,
scientific data from NFO cases (especially if we include "Non-
sufficient data" as well as "Non-investigated" as the "N" in
"NFO"). That is an objectively determined fact, the amount and
quality of scientific data in a case, it is not a subjective
opinion about what should or should not be done with such cases.
Because such cases have too little objective data it is an
objective fact that one cannot make any _assumptions_ (or
identifications) from the contents of such NFO's, without
investigation. There is no inconsistency or contradiction here.


>>>The essential point of my reply to him is
>>>that, by adjusting the 'filter' on what constitutes a case worth
>>>investigating, one can obtain just about any desired number for
>>>the fraction of genuine unknowns in the investigated set.
>>>However, a debunker can similarly expand the overall 'report'
>>>database such that the fraction of unknowns tends to zero.

>>Now you are implying that the creation of an NFO category is
>>some kind of "filtering" trick. But you ignore my historical
>>review showing that the vast expansion of the IFO category to
>>include what we would now call NFO's was the actual and quite
>>dishonest statistical trick devised by Project Blue Book in
>>1952-3. We are simply trying to undo this trickery. That doesn't
>>make it a "filtering" trick itself, it's the negation of the
>>statistical trick. Is stopping a crime now a crime itself??

>I agree that a statistical 'swindle' occurred in the
>categorization of the Blue Book reports that had the effect of
>suppressing the apparent fraction of unknowns. That knob can be
>turned in both directions. Why not simply ignore this
>parameter? The debunker talking-point that "98(or whatever)% of
>all reports are found to have prosaic causes" is vacuous
>precisely because of subjective definitions for terms like
>"identified", or even what constitutes a genuine 'UFO report'.

You can't have it both ways. If you agree there was an early
statistical "swindle" by Blue Book which has been perpetuated to
the present, you can't also say that the "knob can be turned"
_legitimately_ in that direction of artificially reducing the
percentage of Unknowns. If it's a "swindle" then it is an
_illegitimate_ reduction in the Unknowns percentages.

>>We aren't talking about definitions of a case "worth
>>investigating" or not worth investigating. We are talking about
>>cases that are uninvestigated, something that is an objective
>>fact that is readily determinable - was the case investigated
>>or not? That is an objective question.

>An equally objective question is whether the investigated cases
>represent a random sample of all reports. I think it's clear they
>do not. With finite time and resources, there is unquestionably a
>selection bias in favor of the more 'anomalous' cases.

You have many hidden premises that are coloring your argument.
What does "all reports" mean and why does one have to have a
representative "random sample"? That implies a homogeneous
collection of "all reports" the characteristics of which must be
preserved by random representative sampling. If that was assumed
in every scientific study then scientists would be forever
prohibited from throwing out "bad data," indeed the very concept
of "bad data" would be prohibited, and all processes of
selecting "good data" would be banned.

It seems that you are having trouble disengaging from the siren
call of the debunkers. Their position is basically a desperate

"Please deluge your database with garbage cases so that we can
say that almost everything is garbage and the little that is
left can be disregarded. If you focus too much attention on good
cases that makes it too hard for us to persuade anyone to accept
our arguments. Then all we can do is whine that you selected the
good cases and then we have to work too hard to prove these are
actually bad cases that you disguise as 'good cases.' That means
we have to actually investigate cases ourselves and actually try
to make scientific arguments. It is much easier if we can just
get everyone to treat all of the so- called 'UFO phenomenon' as
garbage pure and simple and ignore it!"

We're in good agreement on most everything else so I am snipping
the remainder.


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