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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2013 > Feb > Feb 23

Re: Astronauts Kept Secret For Fear Of Dismissal

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 10:47:38 -0600
Archived: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 12:01:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Astronauts Kept Secret For Fear Of Dismissal


>From: Dave Haith <visions1.nul>
>To: UFO Updates <post.nul>
>Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 13:05:37 -0000
>Subject: Re: Astronauts Kept Secret For Fear Of Dismissal

>>From: Dave Haith <visions1.nul>
>>To: UFO Updates <post.nul>
>>Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2013 10:21:49 -0000
>>Subject: Astronauts Kept Secret For Fear Of Dismissal

>>http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qm3yr

><snip>

>>But the Professor revealed that he had had a conversation with
>>an astronaut who revealed that previously all the astronauts had
>>experienced the weird lights but had not reported them because
>>they feared being taken off the space program.

>>If individuals were scared to speak up about a few flashes of
>>light then one can maybe understand their reluctance to report
>>UFOs.

>>The link above may not work outside the UK. I have a two minute
>>clip with the above quotes as an mp3 which I can send to anyone
>>interested.

>Further to this email I have now had a response from UFO sceptic
>Jim Oberg in which he appears to pour cold water on the whole
>issue.

>In the interests of fairness and balance I will paste his email
>below:

>-----

>Dear Mr. Haith:

>Alas, the lurking pitfalls of depending on decades-old memories
>to validate mysterious phenomena, and to be made to appear to
>validate existing biases.

Of course, only others - never Oberg himself - have "existing
biases." What you "know" you only believe. What Oberg knows, on
the other hand, he _knows_.

Well, maybe not. Maybe the man is, after all, an ideologue whose
arguments always serve whatever point, however inconsistent and
even hypocritical, he is trying to make at the expense of
anomalists. His criticism of the notion of "lurking pitfalls
depending on decades-old memories to validate mysterious
phenomena" is an example.

In 1976 my late friend Bob Schadewald - a skeptic but, unlike
Oberg, not a party-liner - sent me a clipping from a 1943 Kansas
newspaper. It quoted a retired newspaper editor who seemed to be
referring to the well-known allegation of rancher Alex Hamilton
to have witnessed creatures in an airship as they stole one of
his calves. The editor joked about how the story was a fiction
in whose creation he played a role.

Intrigued, I wrote the newspaper to solicit information from
readers. Soon after, I received a letter from a woman who told
me that a relative, living in a nursing home (though my
correspondent insisted she was clear-headed), could shed light
on the matter. Subsequently, she sent me a statement from this
elderly woman, who asserted that she had been in the Hamilton
home when Alex informed his family of the yarn he and "the boys"
in town had cooked up for publication in the local weekly.
Imagine what Oberg would have made of her testimony if she had
confirmed rather than discredited Hamilton's famous report.
("What? Are you nuts? An old lady in a nursing home? How
typical of irrational ufologists.")

When I published the results of my inquiry (Fate, February 1977)
and pronounced the Hamilton story a hoax, I got a few letters
from thoughtful readers who cautioned me that this testimony
was, after all, long after the fact. They warned me, in other
words, about the lurking pitfalls of depending on decades-old
memories.

One of these correspondents, of course, was not Jim Oberg. I am
going to quote what I wrote in a review (Fate, August 1982) of a
UFO-bashing book he later published:

"'We've learned,' Oberg says, 'that old cases are not
particularly useful as sources of investigation. After 20 or 30
years people's memories are not what they were. Even a few days
passing can hopelessly scramble crucial data in human memory
banks. The things people remember are no longer accurate.'

"But that's only if people are remembering things that have
_pro_- UFO implications; [otherwise] their memories are clear
and accurate literally decades after the event in question. So
Oberg has no trouble endorsing my expose... of the famous UFO
'calfnapping' of 1897 - based solely on testimony recorded 46
and 79 years after the fact."

In due course folklorist/ufologist Eddie Bullard uncovered an
article in a May 1897 issue of an obscure Missouri small-town
paper wherein Hamilton admitted that the story was made up. The
moral: memories can sometimes indeed be accurate long after the
fact. To an observer more objective and less attracted to double
standards than Oberg, it follows that those memories can
sometimes be accurate about pro-UFO/anomaly matters, too.

Most of my recreational reading is of history, a subject that's
engaged me since I learned to read a long time ago. If a
historical writer is chronicling events that have occurred in
the living memories of the participants, he or she will seek out
those who were there and who might contribute to our
understanding. I'm currently reading the late David Halberstam's
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007).
Halberstam prominently quotes informants' more than half-century
old memories of their combat experiences. I think we may assume
that Oberg did not write Halberstam a chastening letter. After
all, it's not as if Halberstam were writing about memories of
anomalous experiences.

In the current matter, I'll take Oberg's word for it, though it
would be interesting to have a second opinion from a more
disinterested source. In any event, the problem here is not
memory, but the essentially vague, third-hand, anecdotal nature
of the claim.


Jerry Clark



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