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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Apr > Apr 11

Re: Debate Over Kean's Book In Skeptical Newsletter

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 17:43:19 +0100
Archived: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 16:10:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Debate Over Kean's Book In Skeptical Newsletter

>From: Giuliano Marinkovic <giuliano.marinkovic.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2012 11:04:33 +0200
>Subject: Debate Over Kean's Book In Skeptical Newsletter

>Dear colleagues.

>In case you missed these rebuttals between skeptics George
>Michael and Robert Sheaffer over Leslie Kean's book UFOs:
>Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record,
>here is the complete chronology:

>On the March 28, 2012, in the newsletter eSkeptic, George
>Michael reviewed Leslie Kean's book. His review is titled Best
>Evidence For UFOs:


>On the April 4, 2012 issue of eSkeptic, Robert Sheaffer rebutted
>George Michael's review. Sheaffer's rebuttal is The Day The
>Skeptics Society Wasn't Skeptical:


>Two days before, Sheaffer also posted it on his blog where
>users also started a debate within the comment section:


>And finally, in the latest issue of eSkeptic from April 11,
>2012; George Michael rebuts Robert Sheaffer's rebuttal. It is
>titled: Reply To Robert Sheaffer. Immediately, below you can
>find another rebuttal of the George Michael's rebuttal to
>Sheaffer original rebuttal, titled: Response To George Michael:)

>Link of latest two rebuttals:


"There seems to be a pattern here"  says Shaeffer. "It's easy to
tout UFO cases as having no conventional explanations as long as
you completely ignore everything that's been written to the
contrary." True enough. But remove the word "no" from this
sentence and it remains true.

This flaccid Battle of the Rebuttals gets us nowhere. Michael's
readiness to be impressed by superficially amazing narratives
might strike a seasoned ufologist as a little innocent.
Shaeffer's willingness to regard almost any "skeptical" opinion
at all as a lethal blow to any case's credibility would strike
the same ufologist as cavalier. And it is all infinitely

I limit myself to two comments touching my own knowledge of
cases cited by Kean and Shaeffer.

Shaeffer repeatedly complains that Kean's failure to acknowledge
where her literature sources have been overtaken by later
sceptical critiques is "not scholarly". He properly criticises
Kean's reliance on COMETA as authority for the 1956 Lakenheath-
Bentwaters affair, but then blithely invokes the pallid ghost of
Phil Klass from 1974 to dismiss the sightings as "demolished",
even though very little of Klass's sometimes-plausible but often
ill-informed speculation from 1974 survives as relevant after
huge developments in investigation and analysis of this complex
case during the ensuing decades - the results of which are
documented in many books and articles (and exhaustively on my
own website). Kean's own reliance on COMETA is scarcely more
out-of-date and scarcely more uncritical.

Shaeffer does not specifically mention the April 2007 Channel
Islands sighting in these essays, but he did ask me privately
for my opinion of the status of the case when preparing his
critique. I referred him to our investigation report produced
with the full exclusive cooperation of Capt Bowyer and all other
named witnesses and the Jerset Zone ATC authority. But evidently
my conscientious reply - that after months of work our group
felt there was still some reason to suspect an atmospheric-
optical phenomenon, but that we could not find one to explain it
- was insufficiently clear-cut for his purpose.

On the other hand, Kean did not contact us at all, and I am not
aware that her book contains any reference to our findings or
any appreciation of the difficulty of trying to work out what
was seen by Bowyer and the others that day. Instead the exciting
headline story suffices.

I'm tempted to add some comments on Shaeffer's treatment of the
Keesler AFB radar issue (consistently mis-spelt "Kessler" on his
blog) in the RB-47 case, for which he cites Tim Printy's mostly
very respectable and interesting analysis. But I'd better not
open that can of worms at the moment!

Martin Shough

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