UFO Conjectures

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, and UFOs


While most ufologists think the alleged O’Hare UFO sighting back in November [2006] and a raft of other sightings since has enlivened the moribund UFO phenomenon (as far as the public and media is concerned), they couldn’t be further from the reality.

What has happened, and always happens with UFO events, nothing develops from the sightings.

When Pavlov’s dogs salivated, as ufologists have been over the O’Hare event, the dogs at least got some food when the bell rang. The O’Hare bell rang, but no food came forth, or looks like it will.

There has been, as in all UFO cases, no payoff. The conditioned reflex remains blocked.


When B.F. Skinner wanted his chickens to peck for food, they sometimes got it. Operant conditioning allowed food to be dispensed some of the time. With UFOs, nothing is dispensed. The UFO enigma remains intact, and when that happens, people and media – conditioned by the usual non-resolution – eventually stop pecking.

If something had come of the O’Hare sighting, or the Roswell incident(s), or any other UFO episode, then one might expect interest to be generated, anew in this instance.

But those not subject to the UFO hysteria of the past, got their hopes up with the O’Hare vision, then nothing.

In a society, conditioned by immediate or near-immediate gratification, the absence of anything concretely satisfying from the O’Hare (or any other current UFO sighting) will provide a negative impact, even more so than in the past, as people are more cynical than they were just a decade ago.

So, ufologists can dampen their errant enthusiasm once more. After all, that’s what the UFO phenomenon is all about: all show but no substance.


  • Hmm, Sounds like someone dropped his dummy out of the pram. Patience is a virtue!

    By Blogger paul, at Saturday, February 10, 2007  

  • You sound like you have a good background in behavior analysis. How'd you find that drawing of Pavlov's dog? You clearly describe both classical- and operant-style extinction of reactions to unsubstantiated UFO sightings, or a lack of any primary reinforcement in the first place, perhaps. I would not mind your opinion about my behavioristic blog: http://rewardandconsent.blogspot.com

    Nice going,

    By Blogger DaveShmave, at Sunday, February 11, 2007  

  • Dave,

    We've checked out your blog -- and have put a link to it here at this blog (and another blog we have).

    Nice work by the way.

    (The Pavlov dog was found by Googling B.F. Skinner (not Pavlov!) images.)

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, February 11, 2007  

  • You're right, mention the word UFO and like Pavlov ringing his bell - ding! ding! - all the usual
    'dog(s)' start 'drooling', all the usual 'chicken(s)' start 'pecking'.

    You(s) yourself(s) are living proof of that!

    By Blogger borky, at Monday, February 12, 2007  

  • If anyone is interested in what is searched for in ufology on the internet, Area 51 is king and never wavers. You'll get spikes of interest in things such as O'Hare and Lake Erie, and whatever is on the latest UFO Files TV program, but searches for Area 51 always remain on top.

    I have confirmed this with other senior webmasters at large UFO sites.

    By Blogger Whipnet, at Monday, February 12, 2007  

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