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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 28

Re: Alien Semiotics/Alien Symbol Study

From: Greg Sandow <greg.nul>
Date: Sat, 27 Oct 2007 12:47:03 -0400
Archived: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 09:48:25 -0400
Subject: Re: Alien Semiotics/Alien Symbol Study

>From: Katharina Wilson <K_Wilson.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 16:43:23 -0500
>Subject: Re: Alien Semiotics/Alien Symbol Study

>Dr. Leir has some symbols drawn by a California abductee posted
>on his site that are similar to the symbols in the video with



Some of these symbols really are strikingly similar to the
symbols Budd has collected. Budd's symbols have certain repeated
elements, and these show up in some of the symbols on the pages
Katharina points us to. Thanks, Katharina, for this.

Other symbols, though, don't show up in Budd's collection. And
here we run into the difference between a scientific study, and
our well-meaning, possibly accurate, but non-scientific personal
impressions. When I say that some of these symbols are similar
to Budd's, or that Budd's symbols are similar to one another,
you might well believe me. But you might also ask what I mean by
"similar." How similar are the symbols? Would someone else find
them similar? Am I - maybe even unconsciously - influenced by my
friendship with Budd, or by my belief in abductions? Would
someone more neutral on the subject be less convinced?

This is why it's not enough to have me or anyone else - no
matter how honest we are - make statements about similarity. A
much more scientific procedure (as I've said before) would be to
assemble a panel of people with no history with this subject,
and to  show them the symbols, without telling them anything
about what the symbols are, or where they come from. The people
on the panel, independently of each other, would then give a
numerical rating to whatever similarity they do (or don't)

Then the scores are averaged, and we have a numerical rating for
perceived similarity. I'm not at all claiming that this is
infallible (whatever "infallible" might mean in these
circumstances). But at least, if we followed this procedure,
we'd be able to say that a number of unbiased people with no axe
to grind on the subject had found the symbols similar. Or not,
as the case might be.

One issue with the Leir symbols, by the way, is whether the full
pages of drawings that he supplies on his site are similar to
the complete collection of specimens Budd has on file. If you
look at both collections as a whole, Leir's and Budd's, the
similarity is much less than it is when you pick out individual
symbols to compare. (Or so it seems to me, anyway.)

And for a really scientific study, the science has to begin at
the moment when the symbols are collected. Ideally, the
procedure might go like this. An abductee says that he or she
saw some symbols. Budd, or some other investigator, says, "I'm
very interested in that. Would you visit me next week and draw
them for me?"

When next week comes around, Budd invites (with the abductee's
permission, of course) an outside observer, who then can certify
that the abductee drew the symbols without any prompting from
Budd. Or, even better, the abductee would visit the outside
observer in some other location, without Budd even being
present. The observer would collect the symbols without showing
them to Budd. The collection of symbols would then be passed on
to a third party, who hadn't been there when the symbols were
drawn. And only then would the symbols eventually be compared,
by people who hadn't been part of this chain of collection and
storage. All this preserves the objectivity of the study in ways
that simply don't happen when Budd observes the drawings,
collects the symbols, and does the comparisons himself. And also
then shows other symbols in his collection to the abductee, who
(as John Velez reported here) may be immediately overwhelmed.

None of this takes away from the impact of the symbols I've
seen. But if I wanted to be very precise, I really should say
something like this: "If what Budd tells me is true, and these
symbols really were drawn by people who hadn't seen any of the
other drawings, and weren't prompted at all about what the other
drawings look like - then the similarities are really

One last thought. I never thought - which is a lapse on my part
- to ask Budd whether he was showing me the complete collection
of every symbol abductees had drawn for him, or whether he
showed me only the collection of symbols that resemble each
other. If it's the latter, then he was loading the dice, and the
similarities might in fact be less striking than they were made
to seem. One issue that arose when Stuart Appelle was
considering some work on this was precisely what I've just
mentioned. Budd wanted to edit the collection he'd give to
Stuart. This would really be wrong. If you want to be scientific
- or let's use a less loaded word, and simply say "if you want
to be objective" - you have to work from the raw data, with
whatever disorder and ambiguity it might present. You can't
select the portions of the data you think are significant, and
work only from those.

Greg Sandow

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



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