The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Monday, September 13, 2010

UFOs and “The Smiley Blanton Syndrome”

blanton26.jpg

In a monograph (1966) for Abnormal Psychology, University of Michigan, this writer provided an epithet – The Smiley Blanton Syndrome – for the confluence of materials that form a new memory or recollection, composed of diverse artifacts that a human mind accumulates, around a topic.

That is, when one reads or sees an item, then reads or sees another item (in the same or near-same context), a new memory or recollection is formed, from combining and mixing the disparate data/information.

The new memory or recollection is considered to be valid (or true, real) by the person who has “created” the new memory/recollection, even though it is a unique creation made up of tidbits that are only tangentially connected if connected at all.

This corresponds to the theses advocated by Bartlett in his 1932 work, Remembering, which remains a primary, still relevant work by cognitive psychologists and neurologists. (See current thinking about Bartlett’s work by accessing the list of materials below.)

Bartlett13.jpg

When a witness to a UFO event, such as Roswell or Betty/Barney Hill’s testimony, after-the-fact (of their alleged abduction), comes into contact with related materials, they tend to incorporate, unconsciously or semi-consciously, elements from those related materials, forming a new “reality.”

This isn’t a direct malfeasance by the persons concocting the new “story” or enhancing another story in the news. It is a quirk of the mind, as Bartlett noted, correctly, many years ago.

The Smiley Blanton Syndrome, which was reproduced in experiments at U of M, provides a template for UFO researchers who want to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

Roswellian testimony is a selective source for determining if a witness has, inadvertently, combined multiple data and input to form what appears to be accurate and supportive testimony from other Roswell witnesses.

This is Anthony Bragalia’s thesis: the testimony he has acquired resonates with other witness testimonies.

The collective memory flaws are also addressed by Bartlett and the writers below. (Jung, too, dealt with collective memory, and its caveats.)

It is time to move away from Roswell testimony and witnesses, in the public arena, anyway, and time to move on to other UFO events without the residual energy of ET believers and resident debunkers or skeptics that Roswell generates.

That is, until Mr. Bragalia, and a few other UFO researchers produce information from new leads, which may (or may not) confirm the ET crash in Roswell.

(The RRRGroup is not holding its united breath, however.)

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N.B. Bartlett's book Remembering (1932) is frequently cited as a major forerunner of the information processing approach to memory and cognition....remembering in natural contexts. A re-examination of Bartlett's work demonstrates that it offers little basis for an information processing approach, but rather that it offers the foundation of a much broader, culturally contextualized and functional approach to the study of everyday remembering. Three particular themes are discussed: the integration of social judgements and affective reactions with cognition, the role of conventional symbols in the coding and communication of experience, and the importance of conversational discourse. Bartlett's best-known studies, involving the method of serial reproduction, are shown to be microcosmic demonstrations of the process that he was most concerned with—that of conventionalization of symbols rather than of the workings of an individual's memory. It is argued, again beginning with Bartlett, that everyday remembering may be most fruitfully studied in terms of its personal and social functions, and particularly through its realization in discourse. [Conversation and remembering: Bartlett revisited, Derek Edwards, David Middleton, Copyright © 1987 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd]
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The thinking person's emotional theorist: A comment on Bartlett's "Feeling, imaging, and thinking" [Tim Dalgleish, British Journal of Psychology, 2009]
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Bartlett, Culture and Cognition [Edited by Akiko Saito, University of Cambridge, UK, 2000]
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Disparate Effects of Repeated Testing: Reconciling Ballard's (1913) and Bartlett's (1932) Results [Mark A. Wheeler and Henry L. Roediger, III, Rice University, American Psychological Society, 1992]
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16 Comments:

  • I'm not intentionally plugging (I swear) but Dr. Scott Lilienfeld spoke a lot about memory, confabulation, and a host of other issues regarding human recall during our interview with him some months ago.

    here is a direct link:
    http://www.cyberears.com/index.php/Browse/playaudio/8658

    Dr. Scott Lilienfeld is a professor of psychology at Emory University and editor of Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice. He is also co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology and a contributing blogger at Psychology Today

    While we brought him on effectively to discuss regression hypnotherapy and the ridiculousness of it, it's dangers of use within the UFO field by unqualified people - we also spoke at length about memory, and the misunderstandings of recall many take as fact.

    Hope this adds to the topic here.
    ~JR

    By Anonymous Jeff Ritzmann, at Monday, September 13, 2010  

  • Thanks, Jeff,

    Your contributions are always welcome and always erudite.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 13, 2010  

  • "That is, when one reads or sees an item, then reads or sees another item (in the same or near-same context), a new memory or recollection is [sic] formed, from combining and mixing the disparate data/information.

    "Is"? Each and every time? Then how we survived as a species, I cannot imagine.

    "The new memory or recollection is considered to be valid (or true, real) by the person who has “created” the new memory/recollection, even though it is a unique creation made up of tidbits that are only tangentially connected if connected at all."


    What I see in several instances of Roswell testimony isn't pulling together "disparate data/information". Instead I see events that occurred within hours or even minutes involving the same subject, same people, same place being compressed into one event. I've found them in the "signed affidavits" mostly.

    One is the McQuiddy statements I've quoted. I still need a few pieces of information in order to conclude the evidence for it is strong. True as well for another. In both instances it is the same bit of data that is missing. In the second case the "witness" uncompressed his recollection in an interview unrelated to Roswell and with no ufologist in sight.

    I think Haut's recollections of how the press release was produced is an example, not believing a false memory is a true one, but is an expression of his awareness of the vagueness of his memories. I'm impressed that Haut didn't compress them into a single narrative. I need to read and listen to Haut's comments again though, because when I did it last, I didn't pay careful attention to the specificity (or lack of it) of the questions themselves. That pass through his statements indicated that he was a careful listener and his responses, at least sometimes, were carefully gauged to the literal question, no matter the interviewer thought he was asking something else.

    It is always important to know the specific question being answered, and to be able to distinguish between a quotation and an attribution (which often is put in the terms of the interviewer; ufologist or newsman, it doesn't matter), before asserting anything about the qualities of the interviewed's memory.

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Tuesday, September 14, 2010  

  • Don,

    The Smiley Blanton Syndrome, like other syndromes, is not a fixed state.

    It is only one more mind-quirk that should be taken into consideration by UFO researchers when they interview witnesses or re-iterate testimony to example or make a point.

    I think you are getting too worked up about conjectures here.

    The UFO crowd does have a tendency to get overwrought when someone throws out an idea that bumps up against their UFO ideologies.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, September 15, 2010  

  • "The UFO crowd does have a tendency to get overwrought when someone throws out an idea that bumps up against their UFO ideologies."


    Most mornings with coffee I read a few more hits to my search for evidence that the RDR had any contact whatsoever with Haut on July 8, 1947.

    This morning two hits offer something regarding the effect of "UFO ideologies"

    First: "The issuance of the press release announcing recovery of flying disk wreckage is a historical fact."

    http://www.physics.smu.edu/~pseudo/UFOs/rosmyth.html

    Physics 3333 / CFB 3333

    The Scientific Method - Critical and Creative Thinking
    (Debunking Pseudoscience)

    © Professor John L. Cotton and Professor Randall J. Scalise

    The issuance of the press release is "a historical fact"? Besides some old newspaper story (that I recall did not use the language "press release")what evidence do they have for that statement?

    The other is from

    http://www.truthseekeratroswell.com/ed080109.html

    "By now everyone interested in the Roswell Incident is familiar with the Roswell Daily Record newspaper headline written by Haut stating:
    “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region”"

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • Do:

    Are the links in your comment assigned to the wrong paragraph?

    Anyway, when someone brings in the term "pseudo-science," I cringe.

    It's a loaded, argumentative concept.

    Then there's the sobriquet "Roswell" which also makes me shut down, even though we use the city's/UFO episode's name all over the place here.

    Nonetheless, it (Roswell) makes normal folks go into a mental stasis.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • "Are the links in your comment assigned to the wrong paragraph?"

    Heh. No.


    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • Thanks, Don:

    I think it's my mental dyslexia.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • RR, don't be too hard on yourself. The first one sounds like it was written by an ET advocate. That might have thrown you off.

    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • Yah, those ET advocates always have that effect on me.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 16, 2010  

  • The two statements are 'language events', not 'memory events. Normally we use language to communicate our meaning and not facts, and we do so in narrative. It requires lawyers, judges, guns and badges to get "Just the facts, Ma'am".

    I can change the meaning of the first one without changing a word. Compare:

    The issuance of the press release announcing recovery of flying disk wreckage is a historical fact.


    with:

    The issuance of the press release announcing recovery of 'flying disk wreckage' is a historical fact.

    It's the "use-mention distinction".


    As for the second one, I doubt anyone thinks Dennis believes that Haut wrote the RDR banner headline or that the press release contains a statement about capturing a flying saucer. But we do know from this sentence that he believes the RDR had "Haught's Statement" and based their story on it. I wish I could find anything that supports that belief besides Haut having said he delivered a copy to the RDR. I can account for the RDR story without it, and could offer a good argument if I knew with certainty when the July 8th edition went to the printers.


    Don

    By Blogger Sourcerer, at Friday, September 17, 2010  

  • I think the type of confabulation described here applies to the less aware individual. My grandparents had a derogatory saying about people who placed too much emphasis on people,places,or things that the average population would find commonplace: Born under a rock" Gurdjeff talked about people who went through life on a more uncounscious level in his "Fourth Way" writings. I think there are many more people today that have reached the Maslownian self actualization plateau and proceded to go beyond that to a superconciousness of spirituality.

    By Blogger Tim, at Thursday, September 23, 2010  

  • RR,

    This is Sourcerer...don. Have not been able to authenticate to this blog via my Google account, although I can login to Google itself. Get any posts lately other than those posted anonymously? It may not only be me.


    Tim wrote:

    "I think the type of confabulation described here applies to the less aware individual."

    I understood everything you wrote up to "Grandparents".

    I think it applies to every individual. Those who are most likely not offer a "confabulation" are those who your grandparents described as "born under a rock".

    Since I prefer the material reality over any virtual ones, I'll take a provable statement of fact over anything anyone might self-actualize out of the ether.

    btw, in email Mr Balthaser confirms he believes the Daily Record published the press release as delivered by Lt Haut (We were not discussing the above post).

    My interpretation of his above statement is accurate.

    Don

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, September 25, 2010  

  • Don:

    We're not sure all comments came through to the blog here; Google and Blogger was glitched for a while last week.

    I hope the matter is fixed now.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, September 25, 2010  

  • "I hope the matter is fixed now."


    Doesn't seem to be fixed.


    Don - Sourcerer

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, September 27, 2010  

  • Don:

    Send me an e-mail outlining the problem so our guy Josh can take a look at it.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 27, 2010  

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