UFO Conjectures

Sunday, January 28, 2007

One more spiel about Ufology

An article in New Yorker magazine about how doctors think [What’s the trouble? By Jerome Goodman, 1/29/07, Page 36] could be applied to ufologists by just changing the doctors’ names to those who think they are UFO experts.

The piece discusses how doctors’ diagnoses are affected by biases that distort data and information that is available to them but misconstrued or ignored, not maliciously but out of psychological quirks over which they have little or no control:

Availability – the tendency to judge the likelihood of an event by the ease with which relevant example come to mind

Confirmation bias – confirming what you expect to find by selectively accepting or ignoring information

Affective error – the tendency to make decisions based on what we wish were true

Ufologists are all prone to the above.

But what’s worse is that ufologists, the so-called experts, don’t think they are fallible.

And they all need or seek attention, just as the infamous flying saucer contactees of the 50s needed and sought attention.

Meanwhile, wholesome UFO devotees are shunned by the UFO inner circle, even when they agree with the inner circle and especially when they disagree or don’t toe the inner circle UFO line – that UFOs exist (which is true) and are very likely alien craft from other worlds (which may or may not be true).

And let a person take a view that governments (particularly the United States government) is covering up what they know about UFOs (which is also true, to some extent), then all hell breaks loose and the disagreeing person become anthema.

There are subtler shuns, such as that from persons like Don Ledger, a UFO devotee and pilot (who appears sporadically in UFO documentaries).

Mr. Ledger maintains that unless one pilots an airplane they don’t know squat about how strange phenomena looks while in the air.

Those who own and/or fly airplanes know damn well that what is seen from the cockpit or passenger window is not remarkably different from what one might see while on the ground; the visual sighting of things are usually just clearer, more distinct.

But pilot Ledger wants to assume a unique position, as a pilot, and uses that canard to assume an air of expertise that just isn’t there.

Other ufologists travel to places where UFOs have been sighted or purportedly have landed or crashed; this often long after the alleged event.

This, they think, gives them ufological cachet, but that’s a costume real experts know to be fallacious.

Data gathered and observations after the fact bring error-filled conclusions (such as that in the Zamora/Soccoro sighting of 1964) which bolster the idea that UFOs come here from elsewhere and deny other possibilities (such as the one that Officer Zamora merely saw a prototype moon lander being tested by Hughes Aviation).

Many who make their living from UFOs or hope to don’t like it when people like us berate the UFO inner circle, the high priests of ufology.

But UFOs, anomalous as they have been and remain, are driven by the UFO “experts.”

Witnesses (witlesses would be better) are not amenable to correct observations, as a plethora of studies have shown. And the UFO phenomenon itself is so evanescent that it doesn’t provide grist for proper evaluation by true scientists or real experts.

Thus, the high priests keep and have kept the phenomenon viable for a small coterie of persons who see UFOs as a way to distinguish themselves in a world that normally and rightfully dismisses them.

Those high priests are wretchedly fallible, as one can readily see by their reports and conclusions about every flying saucer episode and UFO since 1947.

(And when these so-called experts reach back to “sightings” from the past, they are even more prone to errant thinking and wrong-headed conclusions.)

But let us not throw more water on the UFO debacle. It will (and has) destroy(ed) itself under the weight of a total disregard for the shortcomings of UFO reports and those who pretend to evaluate them.

We merely stand aside and whisper that the UFO emperor lost his clothes a long time ago.


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