How to do UFO research [Redux]
Copyright 2013, InterAmerica
A piece in The New York Review of Books [January 9th 2014 issue], The Good Way to do History by Robert Darton reviews a 1989 book by noted historian Arlette Farge: The Allure of the Archives. [Page 52 ff.]
The import of Farge’s book is that one can find accurate historical information in all the archived materials extant, if one has the stamina and wherewithal to prevail in light of what archives consist of.
Mr. Darton, the reviewer, makes the point that the book, just now translated from the French, was written before the web was prominent and the internet the primary source for persons who, wrongfully, think they are getting at the truth of things by searching for information contained via it, the internet, that is.
Darton writs, “The Allure of the Archives should give pause to anyone who thinks it possible to get an adequate picture of the past by looking at a computer screen.” [Page 52]
Now, I know some UFO researchers and investigators (Friedman, Randle, et al.) have doggedly searched various archives – military, governmental, business, et cetera. – for information to substantiate or clarify UFO details.
But Farge suggests that such scrutiny is often cavalier and without proper or sensible procedure:
“Researchers] may feel sympathy for the obscure [information they] encounter but shouldn’t identify with it or you will project your concern on [it]. Keep a critical distance from the material …
Resist the temptation to add fictitious touches about what people thought and felt.” [Page 54, emended by me somewhat]
Darton continues, “The Allure of the Archives can serve as a user’s manual for anyone who undertakes archival research, but it can be read most profitably by anyone who is curious about how history is concocted.” [Page 54]
Farge is quoted thusly about her concept of “the torrent of singularities”:
“Behind every case in the thousands of dossiers … is a singular individual who cannot be assimilated in a general proposition, because there is always another individual whose experience will contradict it. Few historians have wrestled with this problem, because few have attempted to see patterns by examining all the lives exposed in vast stretches of documents.” [Page 54]
Farge collaborated with Michel Foucault and her methodology is best explained in her 1982 book with him, Le Désordre des familles: Lettres de cachet des Archives de la Bastille au XVIIIͤ siecle.
Will UFO researchers/investigators read Farge’s book, and apply the techniques suggested so that they will gain a better understanding of what actually transpired during a UFO encounter or sighting, or how archival material may have been and is compromised by bias and direct subornation, as was the case with the various Haut affidavits about his Roswell press release?
I suppose not.
It seems that most persons interested in UFOs think what they read or get online is enough to provide the truth of things.
Darton via Farge tells us that is not the case.