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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Sep > Sep 18

Re: Skeptic Wanted

From: James Molesworth <jtmol1.nul>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 14:33:26 +1000
Archived: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 08:11:08 -0400
Subject: Re: Skeptic Wanted


>From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 12:43:52 -0700
>Subject: Re: Skeptic Wanted

>>From: James Molesworth <jtmol1.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 19:58:28 +1000
>>Subject: Re: Skeptic Wanted


G'day to all.

Thank you Frank for your reply.

Your statements regarding the best ufologists being the best
skeptics was indeed precisely my contention - if ufologists are
doing their job properly, there is no need whatsoever for
'skeptics' to be involved. The issue of bias is entirely beside
the point, as researchers in all fields are permitted to be
biased, so long as their research is nonetheless conducted in a
proper, rigorous manner.

It seems to me, as I stated, that part of the problem lies in
the fact that ufologists are not deemed capable of doing this.
When I said this perception was not entirely undeserved, I
merely meant that a perusal of the material most freely
available and immediately evident on the internet would
certainly support such a view. I did not mean to imply that the
majority of ufologists actually _are_ incapable of working
through any biases they may have, just that vocal ufonuts are. I
agree that the bias imposed on us by society against the
possibility of anomalous phenomena is a major issue to contend
with, as it is often this, as apposed to any reasoned objection,
that prevents intellectuals from various fields from taking
ufology seriously. This fact in itself necessitates that we be
_clearly_seen_ to act as our own skeptics (both individually and
as a field), and this crucially includes _conspicuously_
speaking out against the masses of erroneous data and
argumentation that have proliferated through the internet and
self-published books.

As to the tendency of scientists to ignore anomalous results
from research, this is indeed the norm, not a rarity, and for
various reasons. If you are interested, see - Laudan, Larry.
'Progress and Its Problems', University of California Press,
London, 26ff - where he discusses this precise issue at length,
and it should be noted, his views are largely representative of
Philosophers of Science at large.

Indeed, I would urge any researcher involved in fields which
are, as ufology, on the 'edge' of science in some sense, to
familiarise themselves with the philosophy of science. Judging
by the comments I have read I believe many would find it
enlightening, although a few may also find it to be rather
frightening, as it may challenge their world-view entirely. The
names I listed in the original posting are some of the leading,
most respected personages in the field. However, an introductory
type guide would be more than adequate, for example - Riggs,
Peter J. 'Whys and Ways of Science: Introducing Philosophical
and Sociological Theories of Science' - Melbourne University
Press, 1992.

Finally, as to ufology being a science, I should first like to
point out that while the mentioned experts seem unable to reach
a consensus regarding _precisely_ what the difference is between
'science' and 'non-science', they are nonetheless unanimous is
regarding certain fields as definitely 'non-science', including
history, psychology, sociology and economics. I have argued that
ufology has very much in common with the field of Ancient
History/Archaeology, indeed the match seems to me all but
perfect. I would therefore question how ufology could be listed
as a science - what is there about ufology that is more
'scientific' than these disciplines? Furthermore, why are people
so anxious to have ufology regarded as a 'science'. The data,
'facts' and knowledge derived from historical and archaeological
inquiries are perfectly respectable, and in reality no less
trustworthy than those emanating from the 'sciences'.

Ufology relies primarily on subjective, human accounts of direct
(i.e non-instrumental) observations; observations which cannot
then be tested or reproduced. This sort of data is simply not
adequate to produce the solid, unambiguous premises that
'sciences' require in order to approximate a 'necessary'
conclusion. Not that science always, or even often, achieves
this ideal, but in all sciences such is at least theoretically
possible.

On a more useful note for the purpose to which this thread was
originally posted, I do have a fairly large collection of papers
written by scholars in fields such as sociology and psychology
on the topic of UFOs and abduction etc. in which a considerable
amount of research appears to have been undertaken despite the
'skeptical' views of the authors. if it would be of any
assistance, I would be happy to reproduce the titles and authors
- perhaps one of them would be willing to act as a skeptic in an
investigation?

Again, please do forgive my interminable long-windedness.


James T. Molesworth



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