The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Friday, March 27, 2009

UFO Witnesses

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Joseph Capp of UFO Media Matters is a rabid advocate for those who claim to have seen a UFO.

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Mr. Capp believes that witness accounts provide the primary reality evidence for the UFOs phenomenon.

But cognoscenti know that witness testimony is the weakest link when it comes to evidentiary hearings of any kind.

Witnesses are notorious for getting it wrong because witness testimony is fallible in a plethora of ways.

But don’t take our word for it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness

http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-927809-1.pdf

Mr. Cap does a disservice to “ufology” by giving an imprimatur to witness accounts while eschewing other evidence, or pursuing a discipline that might unmask UFOs for what they really are.

The physiology, the psychology of witnesses are never scrutinized in a forensic way by UFO researchers.

UFO accounts are gathered, and the bizarre aspects of a sighting, abduction, or episode get all the attention, while the witnesses’ psychical and physical make-ups are overlooked.

Yet, Mr. Capp, good guy that he may be, is way off base by hyping witness testimony, overlooking the fact that witnesses are human beings with all the sensory and mental frailties that humans are saddled with.

UFO will not be explained by witness accounts. Witness stories have been the bane of real UFO research, beginning with the incredible Kenneth Arnold sighting of 1947, which is still be debated because of the various possibilities for what Mr. Arnold saw.

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Mr. Arnold, a credible, decent man and pilot, examples exactly the problem with witness testimony without accompanying evidence, such as photos or trace elements.

And UFO accounts go down from there, with many witnesses providing even less credentials than Mr. Arnold.

So, Mr. Capp has got to forego his christianized proselytizing on behalf of UFO sighters and try to come up with a better, scientific-oriented approach to UFO study.

That way, his credibility will be enhanced and UFO followers can get to the core of the UFO mystery, where witness testimony is unnecessary and irrelevant.

13 Comments:

  • Mr. Arnold, a credible, decent man and pilot, examples exactly the problem with witness testimony without accompanying evidence, such as photos or trace elements?

    while the witnesses’ psychical and physical make-ups are overlooked?

    Just out of interest what is exactly wrong with Mr Arnold's
    psychical & physical make up that makes him a classic example, even if evidence such as photos or trace elements were presented, would they be considered anymore exceptable?

    While eyewitness testimony can be considered unreliable, quoting wikipedia as a source of reliability is no more a reliable argument against such eyewitness testimony.

    generic branding of UFO witnesses serves absolutely no purpose, each should based on their individual merits and not dismissed as a collective whole.

    By Blogger Stephen, at Sunday, March 29, 2009  

  • Stephen:

    Witnesses are inherently flawed, by the very nature of their psychologies and physical limitations -- sensory limits for one.

    Did anyone check Kenneth Arnold's eyesight at the time he made his famous sighting?

    We've complained, often, here and elsewhere, that Lonnie Zamora's eyesight (which was corrected by glasses, that were lost during his observation at Socorro in 1964) has never been evaluated, not even by David Rudiak, a Socorro UFO advocate who is an eye doctor.

    Witnesses have limitations that researchers do not investigate or include as part of their so-called evaluations of sightings, abductions, or any other kind of UFO incident.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, March 29, 2009  

  • I take your point and agree eyewitness testimony should indeed come under scrutiny and any impedimemts should be evaluated when considering a witnesses sighting.

    Are you of the considered opinion that Mr Arnold's vision was impaired at the time of his sighting? If so should he really have been flying a light aircraft whilst looking for a missing transporter plane over the cascade mountains? And are there any instances on record that would have suggested that Kenneth Arnold required glasses in order to fly?

    I read your blog on Lonnie Zamora, it was quite interesting and hold's a valid point in this case, although has I have said before each case should be measured on its individual merits.

    Eyewitness testimony is indeed a contentious subject when considering UFO sightings and where possible background checks should be made.
    Unless there are mitigating circumstances concerning a witnesses mental & physical ability,to actually dismiss all human observations as inherently flawed when faced with something of an unusual nature shows (dare I say it!)a rather limited mind set.

    I once had the misfortune to engage a blogger on this subject over on the Bad Astronomy site who by his own admission had no scientific background worth mentioning although he was of the given opinion that scientists had proven eyewitness testimony to be unreliable... Game over, end of story.

    By Blogger Stephen, at Sunday, March 29, 2009  

  • Stephen:

    Witness testimony shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, of course.

    But witness sightings should include that extra step beyond details about the UFO or incident; that is, the witness should then be examined forensically, to see if they were affected by the sighting after the fact (clouding, perhaps, their testimony) or if they have some physical or psychological malady before the sighting (or abduction, whatever).

    This is rarely if ever done, ufologists more interested in the UFO, and almost all ufologists unskilled or untrained in various areas of human behaviour that pertain.

    No one knows if Kenneth Arnold had an eye problem.

    It would seem he did not, since he did have a pilot license, but the matter should have been scrutinized, just as it should have been in the Zamora case, and in other "sightings."

    I've had three UFO sightings over the years, as recounted in Alien Worlds magazine, two of them while with crowds of people.

    But I still think there are factors that should be included in a recounting of those sightings: weather conditions, the psychology of the crowd, the physical condition of the sighters, their eyesight, mental condition, et cetera.

    Yes, that's time consuming and rather tedious, but the UFO mystery requres that kind of intense scrutiny, doesn't it?

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, March 30, 2009  

  • I love how that is always trotted out to bolster the claim: "Dr. Such and Such is an educated man and an upstanding member of the commnity," as if that in any way lessens his ability to incorrectly perceive phenomena.

    You are right, witness testimonies are ultimately only good for stories. They can be used as a place to start looking for physical evidence, but you're not going to convince the world with a story. If you could, we wouldn't be sitting on a mountain of them for the past 60 years or more.

    By Blogger Cullan Hudson, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • While most prefer their reality served to them by a monarchy of edict with pages of footnotes, certified by peer review, the case of the fireman whose claim he witnessed a flying saucer at Roswell, is of course, another witness that you cite who has not an iota of forensic evidence to back his claim, not even a yellowed photograph.
    And so it goes.

    If you add up the aggregate sum of reptilians, greys, nordics, ultraterrestrials, robots, dwarves,blonde venusian bombshells and Dick Cheney, what we have is a scrim, a deconstructive reorientation of a psychological game revolving around 'is" in a democratic universe where everyone gets to vote but the game is rigged.

    The uncertainty principle plays its hand versus socially acceptable verities of consensus.

    In this exchange you get what you paid for by your frame of anticipation. None of this is real as we define real, but there it is.

    We attempt mightily to get it to conform to our own terms, like a shoe that doesn't fit, or a round peg in a square hole.

    It is not directly measurable except by its effects on observers or as you call them, witnesses.

    Sort of a circular feedback loop, isn't it? Pin the tail on the wave collapse, or maybe belief systems with musical chairs ..when the event occurs, the music stops...he who is left without a chair may solve the mystery.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • Bruce:

    Maybe some persons are inclined to see and/or believe in UFOs and other things in the "strange" category, while others are not so endowed....something like those who (may) have ESP, and the rest of us who do not.

    Access to the reality you propose might only be for the adept.

    This might explain our loathing to accept witness testimony easily or credulously.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • I think this phenomenon may be opportunistic in that it may be playing a game of deconstruction, that revolves around our cultural anthropology with impunity, while inserting a astonishing variety of viral memes.

    The credentialed academic or the highly trained military folk very efficiently censure themselves as witnesses, which plays the deconstructive violin against consensus like a prodigy.

    The witnesses characterized as unschooled rubes, or imaginative psychiatric cases, whether they are or not is beside the point and the point being certainty, whose defense at its most extreme are the rationalizations of war.

    This injection of uncertainty may be intentional. If you want to put confusion in the place of consensus, or provide so many choices that it becomes a social quagmire, then it has been very effective in playing us off against one another by class, by profession and by proclivity.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • B:

    Witnesses may be quantum savants.

    Phenomena affects them in ways that the vast majority of persons cannot perceive or understand.

    Those who refuse to accept "otherworldly" intrusions may be likened to those who don't accept the idea of God or God Itself, thus being left out in the cold when the final judgement comes, as Jesus foretold.

    Not to get too far afield, let me say that our problem, Cullan's, mine, and a few others here, is that too much weight is given to what witnesses allegedly experience, and not enough is given to other elements of sightings and events which are subliminal, but important, as a Sherlock Holmes would have it.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • Not to coin a pun, but a non authoritarian deity may allowed us to judge ourselves, by proverbially blowing up the world as demonstrable act of our freedom to do so without strings attached.

    The issue in this is not the witnesses in of themselves, it is the inability to accept that we simply do not know what, why or how these events occur.

    We don't know how a horse won a race, but we do know which one won. If we don't have an explanation, this did not happen, which is a very weak rationalization and a fraud.

    On the other hand, we have so many absolutely bizarre theories utilizing certainty in the face of unpredictability, like soul catchers on the moon or that Queen Elizabeth is really a lizard, that the word "is" becomes a deconstructive aftershock, propelling us into an imaginal ontology, when its much simpler to say "maybe"..."perhaps" or "seems"

    I think you would agree that all of us, myself included, are our own worst enemy.

    The deconstructive nature of the uncertainty in this phenomenon has very effectively pointed this psychology out..that our world of certainties is a game we play at our own peril.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • B:

    Maybe quantum's "uncertainty principle" is archetypal.

    It's the Game of God, who loves April Fools I think.

    Even the great Einstein couldn't outwit the humorous deity, or the mad deity perhaps.

    Your ruminations (at your blog) approach the core of the mystery of this existence, so if you keep at it, we could end up with an endgame.

    (Our job here is just to play along.)

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • OK you two; enough. I am a sober, sane, sensible individual, with full and complete respect from my community (I think). I never see things like UFOs, and it is unthinkable that I ever would. I have read and understood each and every word you have both said, and I declare your debate to be at an end, and this decision is final.

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

  • Whew! Thanks, CDA....I was gettin' pooped.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, April 01, 2009  

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