UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, September 13, 2010

UFOs and “The Smiley Blanton Syndrome”

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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.)

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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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