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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Sep > Sep 21

Re: A Skeptical View Of UFOs

From: Gerald O'Connell <gac.nul>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 02:18:22 +0100
Archived: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 10:34:54 -0400
Subject: Re: A Skeptical View Of UFOs


>From: Claude Mauge <claudemauge.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 16:48:56 +0200 (CEST)
>Subject: A Skeptical View Of UFOs

<snip>

>1. Preliminary considerations.

>1.1 What name can we use for the theory presented here?
>Something like "non-existence hypothesis" is simple, but it does
>not take into account for instance possible revolutionary secret
>planes. Likewise, the phrase "socio-psychological hypothesis" or
>the like is not satisfying because it seems to imply that all
>UFO cases have a priori only psychological or sociological
>causes. I use thus the expression "reductionnist composite
>hypothesis" (RCH in short) even if a better one could possibly
>exist. The word "hypothesis" is used as in "extraterrestrial
>hypothesis", but "theory", "paradigm", or "worldview" could
>probably be more accurate.

<snip>

>7. Conclusion. The RCH is a basis for an "economical" hypothesis
>which *could* explain the whole data of the UFO puzzle. It needs
>perhaps only *one* a priori postulate, that is to acknowledge
>that all the "facts" admitted by ufologists are not necessarily
>as solid as they often claim. Some might say that such a
>postulate is exorbitant, but it is probably not so outrageous,
>because all sincere people know probably examples where it is
>verified. The RCH merits thus to be seriously considered (and of
>course criticized) before to study if necessary more exotic
>hypotheses.

<Snip>

I confine my observations to those of an overview nature, in an
attempt to tease out the underlying logic of Claude's argument.

Reading through his clear and cogently argued (Claude is nothing
if not a credit to the lycee!) presentation, I felt a mounting
sense of unease, an unease that was difficult, at first, to
identify. Step by step, paragraph by paragraph, I found little
to argue with in the detail of what he is saying (I know that
many of the cases he mentions remain the subject of dispute, but
he is careful not to rely too strongly on any one of them to
make his case.). The impression (and it really is merely an
impression) is slowly and cleverly built of a field in which
nothing is what it purports to be: 'unidentifiable', or a 'true
UFO'. Under this impression, the feeling grows that it is only a
matter of time before the light of reason (i.e. an
'explanation') is shone on any particularly vexing anomaly.

How is this impression created? I think it arises, and hence my
unease, through a careful process of selection. By concentrating
attention on those cases that have first seemed solid and then
been 'explained', we are led to believe that this somehow
represents a natural process, an uncovering of truth over time.
And time plays a key role in this: the further back we go, it
seems, the easier it becomes to produce an 'explanation' - an
interesting effect, since the passage of time equally renders it
that much more difficult to offer an explanation's rebuttal. The
extreme example of this is reached when an incident belongs to
ancient history - here there isn't even any need to offer an
explanation.

Claude is honest in admitting the possibility of 'a hard core of
truly reliable and unexplainable events' - but it is instructive
that this seems for him merely a possibility, and not something
that should be a central focus for investigation or
consideration.

Claude's argument thus follows a pattern that is recognisable,
particularly from British Ufology: an iconoclastic scepticism
driven by disappointment. Furthermore, I would suggest, it is
disappointment that provides a common underlying thread amongst
those subject to this '"theory", "paradigm", or "worldview"' as
Claude so accurately characterises it. In his own words, he has
trodden a path from true belief to apostasy. Is it too much to
suggest that one end product of such journeys is often the
adoption of a form of scepticism that acts as a psychological
defence mechanism against further disappointment? An iconoclasm
that focuses its vehemence most on those shibboleths (from
Mantell to Adamski, from science to folklore, choose your own
examples from the multitude on offer) that once afforded the
most spectacular support to true belief?

I raise this question because I take scepticism seriously, and,
as I never tire of pointing out, the true sceptic will always
find time to emerge from the habitual armour of doubt in order
to turn that selfsame scepticism back upon his own attitudes and
thought processes.

In the absence of such rigorous self-regulation, it is, perhaps,
easy to understand how process like selection of data can become
skewed. Skewed in a way that ultimately determines the nature of
the '"theory",
"paradigm", or "worldview"' adopted.

--
Gerald O'Connell



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