UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, August 05, 2013

UFO Skepticism, Debunkery, and Belief

                                 
No, this isn’t about UFOs per se; it’s comments I found in a New York Review of Books piece by Ian Buruma about Simon Leys book of collected essays The Hall of Uselessness. [NYRB, August 15th,
2013, Page 68 ff.]

Many comments in the review struck me as pertinent to what we find from visitors here and elsewhere in or at UFO blogs and web-sites, mostly by radical skeptics and/or out-and-out UFO
debunkers, but also some rabid believers.

From the piece (with some replacement copy by me):

The desire to destroy [ideas] … applies not just to [thought] but as much, if not more, to ethics. “The need to bring down to our own wretched level, to deface, to deride and debunk and splendor that is towering above us is probably the saddest urge of human nature.” [Page 68]

“What people believe is essentially what they wish to believe. They cultivate illusion out of idealism – and also cynicism.” [Page 70]

About attention span:

“Whenever a minute of silence is being observed in a ceremony, don’t we all soon begin to throw discreet glances at our watches?” [Page 70]

Truth:

Truth, Leys writes, referring to science and philosophy… is grasped by an imaginative leap. [Page 72]

… images [and thought] expressed  in another language [foreign UFO reports, for example] can lose their spark and easily become banal or incomprehensible. [Page 72]

The … truth … often lies in what is left unsaid … [Page 72]

And an anecdote that could apply to Roswell tales:

Leys mentions the legendary fourth –century calligraphy of a prose poem who extraordinary beauty was celebrated by generation after generation of Chinese, centuries after the original work was lost. Indeed, it may never even have existed. [Page 72]

(Image from VirtualSkeptics.com)

RR

8 Comments:

  • ...fascinating....and here all along I had been so sure that The Hall of Uselessness was a wing of the UFO Museum in Roswell, dedicated to work of The Dream Team

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Monday, August 05, 2013  

  • Bruce Duensing writes that:

    "A great deal of insight to be found in this post."

    BD

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, August 05, 2013  

  • "Leys mentions the legendary fourth –century calligraphy of a prose poem whose extraordinary beauty was celebrated by generation after generation of Chinese, centuries after the original work was lost. Indeed, it may never even have existed".

    Very like an aside from the great Jorge Luis Borges.

    By Blogger Tristan Eldritch, at Monday, August 05, 2013  

  • "The … truth … often lies in what is left unsaid … [Page 72]"

    Oh so true in my profession...

    The same can be expanded upon by substituting the word "unwritten" for "unsaid."

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, August 05, 2013  

  • "The desire to destroy [ideas] … applies not just to [thought] but as much, if not more, to ethics. “The need to bring down to our own wretched level, to deface, to deride and debunk and splendor that is towering above us is probably the saddest urge of human nature.”

    That's why the debunking instinct is fundamentally thanatophilic, not biophilic (death loving, not life loving). It's all about denying, negating, and reducing, not about affirming, discovering, and building.

    By Blogger Larry, at Tuesday, August 06, 2013  

  • It's human nature to want validation for ourselves and our dearly held opinions and beliefs through the total agreement of others. We foolishly keep looking to see ourselves fully reflected in everyone else and are angry when we don't.

    So, we view those with opposing viewpoints as heretics, traitors, idiots, skeptics, uninformed, liars, etc., etc., and worse. They, in turn, use the same terms to describe us.

    Is it any wonder this country and the world is as screwed up as it is?

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Tuesday, August 06, 2013  

  • "the debunking instinct is...denying, negating, and reducing, not about affirming, discovering, and building."

    The real-world Psychosocial hypothesis positively supplants belief in the "UFO" myth and delusion.

    Considering all the evidence--the history of reports and the myth; social psychology and the tools of positive skepticism--the PSH completely replaces "UFO" mythology and the irrationales for belief.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Wednesday, August 07, 2013  

  • This interesting article popped up in my blogger feed today. Some professional skeptics seem to display bad behavior - re. sexual harassment. The complaint was written by a female skeptic who was the recipient of the boorish behavior.

    http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2013/08/odds-ends-notable-skeptic-accused-of.html

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger brownie, at Wednesday, August 07, 2013  

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