Being knowledgeable about UFOs (and Roswell?)
A new novel by Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know [Farrar, Straus & Giroux], deals with who gets to be called “educated,” and why.
James Wood reviews the work for The New Yorker [May 19, 2014, The World As We Know It: Zia Haider Rahman’s dazzling debut, Page 87 ff.]
Author Rahman indicates “that we know much less than we think we do, that intellectual modesty in the face of mystery and complexity may be the surest wisdom.” [Page 87]
“Knowledge is what we have to go through, what we have to consume, in order to be finally consumed – in order to understand how little we knew.” [ibid]
Rahman found at Oxford, where he attended, that “knowledge was just ‘a social act’ … and the men and women there were merely inflating what the knew ‘to fill the voids’” because “the root of true, rightly guided power, the essence of authority, was not learning but the veneer of knowledge.” [Page 91]
(Much like what we find in comments here and at such venues as Kevin Randle’s blog.)
Rahman continues with “All of us, grave or light, get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them.” [Page 92]
Metaphors “have their place … but ‘never as explanations, never as substitute for the thing itself, which is the only thing that can turn on the lights or leave us in the dark.’” [Page 98]
(That statement addresses the UFO problem.)
“Mathematician[s] also distrust metaphors, and … they never tell you what actually happened, ‘how it happened, or why it happened … if metaphors increase our understanding, they do so only because they take us back to a familiar vantage, which is to say that a metaphor cannot bring anything nearer.” [Page 98]
“… the novel uses Gödel’s theorem …employing it as a mantra, an image, a Platonic picture: there is truth somewhere, but not for us now.” [Page 98]
And to give comfort to ufologists and UFO ET believers, reviewer Wood tells readers that the novel’s character, Zafar, is “obsessed with … Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem:
Within any given system, there are claims which are true but which cannot be proven to be true.” [Page 91]
That should salve Anthony Bragalia, David Rudiak, Nick Redfern, and even the fringe paranormalists all over the place.