UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Gilles Fernandez: A Response to Jose Caravaca's "Distortion Theory" and Ufologists, in general

The SocioPsychological Theory of the UFO phenomenon (we prefer the term Composite Reductionist Theory of the UFO phenomenom - CRT -, see my previous entry) is not only supported by convictions or speculations ("wishful thinking"), but by facts and elements provided by the IFO cases themselves, or, more interestingly, directly induced by experiments - mainly in psychology - in the laboratory, as supported by the corpus of the knowledge of the Human Sciences.

For one part (only) of the SPH/CRT - the complex misinterpretations - cognitive projective transpositions, elaborations and transformations that subjects make when facing a (conventional) stimulus are undeniable.

What do we mean? Facing a conventional object that the observer can’t identify (legitimately) for what it is, some witnesses draw on their own individual knowledge - mental cognitive representations - with elements and details that do not belong to the real stimulus, to give it "a meaning.”

And so, by such cognitive processes, the stimulus becomes "an object of the world," complying with its pre-existing mental representation. It becomes consistent with what we learned of the world (by the culture), so that it conforms to the UFO phenomenon as we have learned it (through Science Fiction, Ufology itself, cinematography, etc.).

Other simpler mechanisms (of the order of human perception are sometimes involved; e.g. aspects highlighted by Gestalt psychology.)

Consider these three examples and the issues they raise to José's theory and Ufology in general.

1) For the drawings of a Soviet spatial reentry, Ufologists explain that some drawings show projective elaborations and transformation of the stimulus in a "craft/vehicle" by some of the witnesses? http://www.jamesoberg.com/10-30-1963_kiev.pdf 

This is an inherent product of Human Perception and projective elaborations/transformations when facing an unidentified object (though conventional).

2) Considering the following Edgar Wunder's experiment, how ufologists (and José Caravaca) explain that some drawings are showing that the stimulus have been "saucerized", some subjects adding windows, self derived propulsion elements, craft-like structures, etc. See part 2 of the following TV show, Galileo Mystery – Ufos:

http://www.myvideo.de/watch/4119949/Galileo_Mystery_Ufos_Teil_3

Wunder's experiment (I hope to replicate it in my University or personally) points out that such projective processes have been made by some of the subjects on ambiguous prosaic stimuli or stimuli of no real meaning. Subjects have, if I may say, "saucerized" the stimulus. Has an external agent interacted in the processes? I doubt it. It seems to be inherent and internal to the Human cognitive processes.

3) As you probably know, in France,  on the 5th of November 1990 there was a UFO wave if we follow the UFO literature. "UFO-Skeptics" explain it by a space reentry.

French Investigator Robert Alessandri has studied a very interesting and particular sample of witnesses: 32 future French Gendarmes have altogether responded to the same stimulus, the space reentry -- the essence being, as you can see, is that they have responded to the SAME thing, altogether. 

It was the day after when their collected written legacy by their instructor shows the different parameters of their testimony, such as the azimuth, dimensions, speed, etc. One will discover HIGH inter-individual differences in the distributions of many of the parameters alleged in the tables or in the text.

How do ufologists explain that? Despite the 32 subjects having witnessed the same stimulus - the space re-entry or an ET craft [sic], how do we obtain such an inter-individual differences, with such variability, among the witnesses or respondents?

http://perso.numericable.fr/~wolf424/univers.ovni/ufologie/cas_d_ecole.html

If José or ufologists are honest, the variability is undeniable, with, sometimes witnesses adding non-existent detail, as "projectors."

So, how can ufologists maintain that if, in the November 5th 1990 testimonies, when a witness indicates an azimuth, or any other detail, that is not compatible with the space re-entry, such subjects can’t have witnessed the re-entry but rather, they have witnessed another exotic thing, "parasitically" attending the space re-entry (as we read in the literature about this famous case in my country).

So, the following hypothesis which evoked in me the title for this little article, is this:

What if the "strange" testimonies we know in the ufology corpus, in general, were only the products and "fruits" of the variability and inter-individual differences, projective elaborations and transformations (of prosaic/conventional objects) of human psychology, when people are facing a (conventional) stimulus they couldn't identify, cases from which ufologists make their "cabbage fat"?

In a similar vein, illustrated by the study of Robert Alessandri, ufologists misinterpret or misunderstand the “extremes" of human descriptions when facing a conventional but odd object, not taking into account the inherent variability of human testimony.

The problem is even more exacerbated when invoking exotic entities.

(We could also add that the investigator/ufologist can herself/himself contaminate/pollute the cases and UFO reports, but that is another story.)..

Gilles Fernandez.

38 Comments:

  • While I am sympathetic to Gilles' view -- and hope I have input his ideas adequately and accurately -- and agree that the re-entry rocket account tells us much, I am not persuaded that Jose Caravaca's Distortion encounters are psychological or neurological malfunctions, mental aggrievements.

    There is the possibility that what the witnesses have provided are exactly what they saw or experienced, taking into account the vicissitudes of personal interpretation or description.

    Caravaca's witnesses may actually have perceived what they say they perceived.

    That the scenarios seem absurd is beside the point, or is the point perhaps.

    The reality may be absurd, for the period of the encounter.

    What causes that absurdity is open to debate and scrutiny.

    It may be psychological or neurological but, then again, it may be exactly what the witnesses say it was: an observation of something out of the ordinary, not pathological but actual.

    That's the crux of the problem.

    Either society is infused with people who have temporary bouts of insanity or society is sometimes beset by something extraordinary and paranormal with no discernible meaning....thus far.

    That a rocket re-entry can be explicated as Gilles has done, does not make it a generic explanation for other encounters.

    The rocket re-entry interpretations apply to that event, not to others necessarily.

    Each UFO encounter has to be examined on its own merits without an explanatory overlay that appears to fit but upon closer examination does not.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Gilles' view tends to provide meat to my comment in an earlier post. If we substitute the term "extrinsic factors" in place of of "external agent" the picture is less cloudy.

    The interpretation of a "UFO" event may be individualistically dependent on past experiences. The quality, and in some cases the quantity, of these past experiences would influence the interpretations.

    Mr. Caravaca's examples respectfully, begs the question: under the same conditions, would the general population, as a whole, interpret an event in similar fashion?

    I tend to think not, as extrinsic factors (life experiences/influences) differ with each person thereby forcing a different interpretation that in one fashion may be odd/bizarre, yet in another, it may be rational.

    Jose focuses on what appears to be one elusive external agent, where as, perhaps there are multiple external agents in play.

    Rich, perhaps cognitive behaviorism plays a role to some degree. There is an underlying need whose fulfillment is sought by the individual.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • While I am, as you know, Tim, sympathetic to the psychological interpretation, the ingredients in Jose's accounts are not so different that they bespeak individual psychoses, temporary or otherwise.

    The patterns of his accounts seem to indicate a process that is rote.

    Although there are, as he suggests, personal elements that help his "external agent" make up the scenario, the total packages -- how things happen -- do not show me a psychological etiology as the only possibility.

    It may be so, but there are other things to consider perhaps.

    And Jose's conjecture is one.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Here is the acid test...apply Distortion Theory to Roswell. Can we not decipher a singularity that fits an external agent?

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Oh for God's sake, Tim...Roswell?

    Puhleeze!

    I won't add any comment that mentions Roswell in this context.

    That's a truly foolish suggestion.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Bruce,

    Thanks and I'll definitely take a look. Though I like Jose's theoretical approach in general, I'm bothered by the singularity-type description of a causative factor. But you and I maybe in the minority on this one.

    BTW, you appear to be describing a matrix of some sorts. If we look at the problem from a quantum mechanics point of view and apply a statistical matrix then we might get a clearer picture.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "Oh for God's sake, Tim...Roswell?"

    Perhaps its due to the lacking of an external agent? It's multi-factorial by nature.

    Lot's of extrinsic forces in play, don't you think?

    Rich, no need to post this comment as I used Roswell as a thought exercise and wanted to gauge your reaction...:)

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Sorry Tim,

    You're into it now.

    And you've seen my reaction.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Jose Caravaca sent me this:

    To clarify some aspects of my hypothesis more:

    When the external agent communicates with the psyche of the witness, [the agent] is able to make "ephemeral matter" whose consistency is different from our ordinary matter.

    For example, the traces left by UFOs, after landing, are marks that any person would have predicted (previously without witnessing a UFO) as probable consequences of the descent of a spacecraft (NASA),
    [as are] burns, radioactivity, stains, scrap metal, et cetera.

    However, if it were really extraterrestrial artifacts, their technology would not have to be analogous to ours, and the remains that could leave the field would be unimaginable by our technological imagination.

    For example we can imagine that this extraterrestrial technology in contact with our atmosphere, changes the color of all the elements that are in the surroundings (plants, rocks, sand, et cetera).

    But this does not happen according to the distortion because if someone does not imagine these concepts such as alleged alien footprints, they will never find those kind of unconventional traces.

    Although this infinite variety of the typology registers as flying saucers and their humanoids, our imagination in these two concepts contain more elements and has more abundant "psychic material", which does not happen with something as concrete as tracks or imprints.

    Where imagination is more limited, the witness conceives or manufactures fewer possibilities.

    JAC

    I have reworked Jose's copy, so if there are errors of meaning, they may be mine...[RR]



    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • I think illusions tell us quite a lot about how our minds work, or don't work, as the case may be. We're all quite familiar, I hope, of the faces/vase optical illusion. It's no more a vase than it is a face. There's no stimulus to tip the scale one way or the other...

    But what do we say of the person who cannot see both images at the same time? For example, there's a famous duck/rabbit illusion. What if someone simply cannot (be made to) see the rabbit and always sees the duck?

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Huh?

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Rich,

    http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber/images/VaseFaces.jpg

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/images/gifs/rabbduck.jpg

    http://occonline.occ.cccd.edu/online/mrboros/optical_illusion_indian_eskimo.jpg

    The first two are what I was addressing, but that eskimo/indian is even better for my purposes now.

    Imagine someone who cannot see BOTH the Eskimo and Indian. Perhaps they can only see it as an Eskimo, and nobody can make him see the Indian head.

    My guess is that people of North America would probably have a better chance of seeing the Indian head, since Indians (with such headdresses) were from North America. Perhaps people in colder climates without any history of Indians would more easily see the 'Eskimo', and have difficulty 'finding' the Indian.

    If someone has absolutely no memory of Indians to draw from, and no memory of Eskimos either, how does the image appear?

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • This seems to take us, P, into areas of perception that don't exactly apply...but make your case.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Hello Rich and Friends,

    I think nothing is absurb or non-explainable when a legacy sounds as absurb (for ufologists) and their reflex when a legacy sounds strange ( for them) to say or state "therefore Aliens".

    After all, I asked the question what if ufologists are only people who are "jumping" on the extremes of testimonies when people are facing a conventional stimulus they have not recognized?...

    Or asking how ufologists explain (if they have a theory, sounding "scientific", to present, articulating the IFO cases and their fortean proposition)) when skeptics are adressing IFO cases where we see EXACTLY the same components of the so-called UFO cases.

    IF a theory assuming, proclaming, stating, "exotic entities" is unabble to recognize we have the same allegued components in IFO cases, and is unable to articulate such knowledge, despite presenting a revolutianory for Science, theory, it sounds "garbage" for me.

    I'm curious how ufologists can conciliated the knowledge learned by IFO cases (an ordinary/conventional stimuli can provide extraordinary testimonies/legacies, to be short) in their theory favorising a fortean entities? Just curious about it...

    "Saucerization" of conventional stimuli is now prooved, dear Ufologists...

    How the residual cases can have as conclusion(s) or consequence(s), reflex exotic entities are processing, due to the knowledge of IFO cases (ufologists dont care of the IFOlogy imho) is the "question" I adressed to UFO proponents...

    Of course, I'm not the man to accept ad hoc explanations and arguments...

    Regards and Amitiés,

    Gilles.

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Of course it applies. Perception of UFOs occurs in the mind, does it not?

    Obviously, there are more than just OPTICAL illusions...

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Make your case P....

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Gilles, ufologists, the notable ones, are pathological, they need ET UFOs...why? That is something we should address.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "But this does not happen according to the distortion because if someone does not imagine these concepts such as alleged alien footprints, they will never find those kind of unconventional traces." -- Jose Caravaca, translated by RR

    I think I hit on this with the optical illusions, and don't quite understand what more needs to be said. I'm agreeing with Jose. The distortion appears to involve pre-existing memories, tropes, or memes.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Jose is talking about mental machinations, P. You are talking about, as you note, optical perception. It is a matter of degree...seeing vs thinking.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "Gilles, ufologists, the notable ones, are pathological, they need ET UFOs...why? That is something we should address."

    I believe that this goes back to my cognitive behaviorism statement. What need(s) are desperately sought to be fulfilled?

    The X-Files mantra, "I want to believe" is juvenile. It is deep rooted somewhere, yet all things have a beginning, but where...?

    Rich, the ones you so loath, know the answer to my question.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • And you understand, surely, that philosophers are prone to the use of analogy.

    I think you're playing games with words. 'Seeing' is a type of 'thinking'. You don't see in your eyes. You see THROUGH your eyes, or WITH the AID of your eyes. Much of the rest appears to be pattern recognition.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Gilles, ufologists, the notable ones, are pathological, they need ET UFOs...why? That is something we should address.

    Humankind is (for me) inclined to believe in weird things and "to transcend" the fact what/how they are, aka entities abble to think about thereselves... We are inclined to attribute what we dont understand as the products of an external entity, call it God, UFO pilots or ancient civilizations or alien as it is stated by the theory of the ancient Astronauts.

    Religiosity is one the behavior and "automatic" thinking of our specy, I think.

    It seems we need an external agent (or agents) to transcend us. Ufologists are for me in this "moove" and a modern incarnation if this component of the Human brain.

    I think ufology is one a contemporan result of such a need we have, as a Human and Cognitive specy.

    As my mentor told me about Roswell (sorry to pronounce Roswell) : "You are the witness of a contemporan myth, elaborated from 1980 and 90's mainly by storytellers and developped until now. It is a (great) luck you have to be the witness of the making-off of a modern myth. Enjoy it and the luck you have!".

    In essence, I'm not surprised concerning the behavior of Ufologists and by Ufology. It is a product of what I wait and being not surprised by it.

    Well, I'm an Humanist, I know...

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • You make my point, P; seeing is a type of thinking.

    Jose's distortion events involve more than seeing or a type of thinking; they involve convoluted, imaginative mental configurations that require more "energy" than the mere act of seeing.

    Seeing is only one aspect of the scenarios he presents, a minor one I should think a neurologist might say.

    See Oliver Sacks "Hallucinations."

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Gilles, you call them "weird things", which is itself indicative of your own psychological biases. I think it would be far more interesting to study what motivates the rationalists who have taken control of our society, and find out what really makes them tick, and why they are so afraid of anything that they can't understand, which they brush off by labeling it as "weird."

    PK

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Gilles,

    As Tim hints, ufologists know that they are biased, but don't care.

    They need neurotic sustenance, as Freud might have it; they need the myth.

    Just as kids needed fairy tales to get them through the dogged days of parental control, ufologists need ET UFOs to get them through the awfulness of their lives.

    One bloke we know is so pathological, he spews venom to and about everyone who would feign to dismiss UFOs in any form.

    His UFO "belief" is a crutch used to get him through the horrible days of living with himself.

    Not all ufologists are so psychologically debilitated, but they come close.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "
    Jose's distortion events involve more than seeing or a type of thinking; they involve convoluted, imaginative mental configurations that require more "energy" than the mere act of seeing."


    Of course. The optical illusions I used to demonstrate only had two (known) possibilities -- a bifurcation. But we can certainly theorize about illusions with dozens upon dozens of possibilities. What the person 'sees' has quite a lot to do with knowledge already 'stored' or 'built up' over time. What may be more interesting, in some cases, is how the subject 'fetches' that information from 'storage'.

    I have seen Oliver on TED and enjoy him very much.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "One bloke we know is so pathological, he spews venom to and about everyone who would feign to dismiss UFOs in any form."

    Why is venom so often spewed, rather than spit? Hmmmm...

    Philosophically speaking, I think there are two approaches to knowledge which may be hard-wired into the brain. One is somewhat 'constructive' and one is somewhat 'destructive'.

    There are merits to both approaches, and both work -- because Modus Tollens and Modus Ponens are both valid.

    The pathology surely must stem from the bias, rather than the technique used to maintain that bias.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • No, this guy, P, is just insane.

    His ramblings online, in the form of stale English, example his pathology.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "His ramblings online, in the form of stale English, example his pathology."

    Methinks he doth protest a bit too much...

    You, yourself, often use English words that seem more befitting of a Monk than a Psychologist...

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Paul,
    If you have a problem our society is becomed more rational as before, I suppose when a person of your family is sick, or more, to not adress him or her to Hospital (and rationalists).
    Send them to a prayor, I suppose he will have better solutions for your close member...
    You remember me an old argument made by French UFO-proponents (Jean Pierre Petit) : if I'm interrested by ufology as Skeptic, I'm "cosmic" affraid (cosmo-trouille in French).

    And BTW what have you understood, Paul, I'm affraid of, you have understood? Or how are you (with all my respect) to send me I Have not understood something out of my mind and not your one?

    You have prooved something concerning the paranormal? Great news...
    So please, avoid the argument as rationalist, I'm "affraid" of something. What?

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • "So please, avoid the argument as rationalist, I'm "affraid" of something. What?" --GF

    Nothing, of course... Or at least the concept of 'nothingness'.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • I'm sorry, Gilles, that you just can't see that you stand on the other side of a mirror from the true believers, each in your own way a reflection of the belief that we know all the answers, when in fact we haven't even begun to articulate all of the questions.

    I don't mean this to be insulting any more than I'm sure you do when you regularly lambaste the folly of ufologists. It is, as you might say, just an observation... albeit one based on my own view of what the behaviour of "paranormal atheists" seems to indicate.

    And please, with the greatest respect that I can muster under the circumstances, spare me the junior high school debate team theatrics of the "wouldn't you support rationalism if someone you loved was sick." Save that type of lazy thinking for the hoi polloi.

    PK

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • I feel bad about the tone of that last post, although I meant the content, so let me clarify - what I can't abide amongst many rationalists is their belief that they have a monopoly on the only way to find answers to everything.

    I'm a big proponent of rationalism for day-to-day living, but I also think that it has limits in terms of what it can do for us. There are things out there that I don't think are amenable to rational answers (the question of whether or not there is life after death is one of them, for example). In the end, it's the people on either side who think that their way is the only way, and that they have all the answers, that I have no use for.

    And yes, I do think that many people who deny the "weirder" possibilities of existence are afraid to admit that they may not in complete control of their lives. They seek to impose an order on the chaos, just as the true believers do in their own way.

    Those of us in Greg Bishop's "excluded middle" don't fear the chaos. We embrace it. It's a vast ocean of uncertainty, and we're prepared to ride the waves to distant shores.

    PK

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Well Paul, it is you who stated the rationalists have taken control of our society... It is your assertion, after all. No?
    Against who?

    You sended too an assertion as I'm affraid of something (as UFO-Skeptic?), as rationalist I'm, to be interested/focused on the UFO phenomenom (I have other hobbies, I assure you).

    I'm curious to read how/why I'm affraid of something, and by what, as "rationalist" regarding, time to time, the UFO phenomenom, or why/how rationalists have taken control to your/our Society...

    That's an hard "accusation" or constat you did, it isn't?

    And please, with the greatest respect I have to you, I "hate" interlocutors who place themselves or auto-procalmaning themself "above" the debat between UFO-proponents & UFO-Skeptics, as if they are "above the fray"...

    Regards Paul,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Just answer one question, Gilles - are there things that in your opinion may be beyond human understanding?

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Hum, I'm an optimistic guy, but existentialist too (ambivalent!).
    I dont think there are things beyond human understanding, so to speack.
    I'm an Humanist and confident on Sciences.
    If some things are beyond human understanding, or to the ones proclaming it, I propose them to stop to try to understand the things they pretend to be beyond human undertandings and to accept the postulat they propose... ;)
    Or they are "paradoxal people" or border-line the the postulat they propose, loosing their time... And mine.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • So, nothing is beyond human understanding. Everything can be measured, and quantified in a rational way.

    Fine. You and I are in different places. I'll just leave you with this:

    What is love?

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 09, 2013  

  • Paul,
    I have never stated that TODAY nothing is beyond our understandings. I only sayed that I'm confidend in Sciences, ie YESTERDAY there were things beyond our understanding, but TODAY understanding.

    What TOMORROW concerning X or Y you will ask me TODAY what is X or Y?
    (Even if that today I considere "Love" as the complexe interraction and result between elementar "modules", from neuro-transmettors, hormons, to sociale variables).
    The interactions between elementar "modules" makes that the "All" is superior to the simple addition of the properties of such modules or parts. As a clock and its properties is/are superior to the simple additions of the elements constituting the clock and their own properties.

    Love, Consciousness, Religiosity, etc. are now the focus of a field of researches relativaly fecond.

    I'm confidend of the future of such research fields, which could or can respond TOMORROW to your question asked TODAY.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, September 10, 2013  

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