Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Proof"?

UFOs and the Old Geezers (Kevin Randle)

Just recently the RRR Group posted a picture that my wife took at the MUFON Symposium in Denver and claimed that those of us on the Speakers panel were a bunch of geezers who had failed to solve the UFO question. It was time for us to get out of the way and let those younger, brighter and more enlightened take over. We had our chance and we failed.

Except we haven't failed. We solved the problem. We have the proof that some UFOs are alien spacecraft and we can make that point over and over. The evidence for that is overwhelming, but not unlike Galileo, who failed to convince the church that there were moons orbiting Jupiter, we get a bunch of people who "refuse to look through the telescope."


Come again?

I would certainly agree that researchers have succeeded in demonstrating that the UFO phenomenon is a genuine unknown, not a collective delusion. But this isn't the same thing as proving that "some UFOs are alien spacecraft," as Randle claims -- although, in my own view, we would be incredibly foolish to dispense with the possibility.

Something phenomenally weird is undoubtedly occurring, and Randle's consternation about the modern world's naysayers "refusing to look through the telescope" is well-taken. But the quickest way to convince scientific orthodoxy that its apathy is well-founded is to proclaim that the mystery has been solved. In the case of serious UFO research, science is left with a legitimate enigma that may prove to be far stranger than the "mere" comings and goings of alien spacecraft. An honest gaze through the telescope is desperately needed, but only if we're able to allow ourselves to relax our preconceptions.





Close encounter cases, for example, suggest a curious and unexpected congruence with folklore, and often feature a residue of after-effects that would seem to fall into the domain of parapsychology. This troubling strangeness can't be readily ascribed to nuts-and-bolts space vehicles; indeed, we may be confronting a phenomenon that challenges our definitions of consciousness.

"Alien spacecraft"? Maybe. "Proof" of extraterrestrial visitation? Sorry, Kevin, but we're not there yet.

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33 comments:

Stevens said...

I discovered this site because it's linked to a lot in regards to the Pitch/Stan Romanek stuff. I'm so glad I did! It's rare to see someone write about the paranormal with such wit and insight. Your posts feel thought through instead of the typical "wishful thinking." Keep it up!

Mac said...

@Stevens

Thanks for the kind words.

For the record, I like Kevin Randle; I just happen to disagree with him re. "proof."

Greg Bishop said...

Ditto for the comment and your response.

Greg Bishop said...

Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday!

Anonymous said...

The oldsters showed something was happening, but they did not go to the next level through scientific data collection. Only then will the topic get any respect.

TucsonBound said...

Sharp, insightful response, Mr. Tonnies.

MnDoc said...

Mac you are, once again, right on. We know that solid UFO reports (involving such things as multiple, reliable witnesses, radar/visual, good trace evidence) are FACT. But the leap that this represents or solidifies the ETH is belief, not science. I agree with you completely, we should not reject that thought out of hand but it's hardly proven. Thanks for offering the evenhanded but reasonably skeptical approach.

Anonymous said...

I think you would enjoy Supernatural by Greg Hancock.this is an amazing book that draws parallels between folk lore and UFO experiences. Your take on things is similar to his. Insightful and interesting blog. Tmara

Mac said...

@Anon.

I have a copy of "Supernatural" but, lamentably, haven't read it yet.

Greg Bishop said...

Hancock is very good at concentrating many ideas from many other authors and thinkers and weaving them into a coherent narrative. He even contributes some of his own. Required reading, I think.

Anonymous said...

In this field, "proof" is largely in the eye (or mind) of the beholder.

However, broadly acceptable standards of evidence and actual proof that would establish some ufo phenomena as necessarily extraterrestrial do not currently exist.

The ETH may be true, or may not--this has still to be definitively determined.

What bothered me was Randle feeling the need to respond to someone without any qualifications or bona fides, and more so his assertion that proof for the ETH is somehow self-evident. It is not--where he says, "We have the proof that some UFOs are alien spacecraft and we can make that point over and over. The evidence for that is overwhelming..." he misstates the facts, and making the “point over and over" will not change that, nor will complaining that those who will not or cannot "look through the telescope" be an answer, or to "Simply do a better job communicating the results of investigations..." provide the answers required.

While the ETH cannot be dismissed, and may eventually turn out to be true in some cases, real, undeniable proof is lacking so far. So the ETH, a hypothesis, is just that, and while the best evidence extant may seem to point in that direction, it can be argued that, if we are dealing with some form(s) of advanced non-human intelligence, life form, or probes thereof, it just may be that misinterpretation, keyed to anthropomorphic expectations, cultural conditioning, and a first-level extrapolation from the second-hand evidence may be either intentionally or inadvertently what suggests extraterrestrials of some kind. But that is not science, nor proof. New, multi-phasic, multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approaches are required without bias to derive better data and potential answers.

As has been suggested here and elsewhere by other hypotheses, alternative explanations may be just as valid, if not more so, and have to be seriously investigated and considered as possible answers, also.

We also have to consider that no current or prior hypotheses may be true, or yield confirmed results, as the phenomenon may be based on aspects of the nature of reality and the universe we do not and perhaps may not be able to comprehend currently, or with the tools and techniques applied so far.

I see part of this debate as deriving from both frustration with and mainstream ufology's dogmatic defense of the ETH in lieu of a real proof of ET evidence after several decades of endeavor, and more importantly, that an emerging reorientation and resultant revision of thinking around the issue which derives in large part from the realization that we may be dealing with a phenomenon whose nature is likely far more complex and esoteric (than the standard ETH or even more narrow "nuts and bolts" school of ufological thought, which is inherently self-limiting and thus possibly mistaken), and that has given rise to a kind of postmodern, deconstructivist and philosophical approach which suggests that we should reexamine our preconceptions and assumptions and to take a completely new look at the phenomenon from a purely evidential, research-oriented basis, as Jacques Vallee has long advocated.

For some insight into these questions, see:

"Incommensurability, Orthodoxy and the Physics of High Strangeness: A 6-layer Model for Anomalous Phenomena" by J. Vallee and E. Davis:

http://tinyurl.com/kuce52

Accompanying PowerPoint slides
[A Six-Level Model for Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena]:

http://tinyurl.com/mhtrwk

"The Incommensurability Problem and The Fermi Paradox"
by Eric Davis:

http://tinyurl.com/lc3ll5

"Five Arguments Against the Extraterrestrial Origin of Unidentified Flying Objects" by Jacques Vallee

http://tinyurl.com/lbvg46

"Can the UFO Extraterrestrial Hypothesis and Vallee Hypotheses Be Reconciled?" by William Bramley

http://tinyurl.com/mmwuzt

What may seem to be is not necessarily what is, or the thing itself. Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence, and real proof. That is logic, and real science.

dedroidify said...

Supernatural is a great read Mac, read it all in one go. Required reading, I agree.

Bruce Duensing said...

The post-mortem analysis of the dead horse is over at the back table of the bar, where some scuffling was heard. This is where the anthropomorphic variations on what frame to use for the frame-less jumps the shark in advance of uncertainty. Like religion, politics, or other addictions, the conversation is largely beside the point when the territorial prerogative is defended in advance of self skepticism.

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