UFO Conjecture(s)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Psychosocial Aspect of the UFO phenomenon

Martin Kottmeyer provided a Wikipedia link that explains further the Psychosocial interpretation of UFO sightings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychosocial_hypothesis

This is a supplement to the Gildas Bourdas/Isaac Koi post of a few days ago in which Mr. Kottmeyer's ideas were germane.

RR

16 Comments:

  • The wiki PSH entry begins:

    "In ufo...."

    The real PSH exists outside of the pseudoscience of ufoolery.

    The PSH doesn't explain "UFO" cases, it explains all reports as expressions of a myth and delusion without regard to the plausibility of individual reports.

    The true PSHer accepts the Null hypothesis for "UFO" reports: There aren't any real "UFOs" of any kind and never were. "UFO" is the unnecessary hypothesis to explain why people make reports, and Scientific realism doesn't allow its existence, there is no place in reality for ghostly utterly inconsequential aerial entities--there is no "phenomenon." Much less visiting ET spacecraft, astronomical realities don't allow the ETH, it's just sophomoric fiction, it's astronomically ignorant wishful thinking.

    The very idea "UFO" was obviously absurd from the beginning, unidentified cannot be an identity. The idea that the mere failure to identify indicates some extraordinary thing is extraordinarily irrational. And the origin of the myth is so plainly based in hoaxes to sell newspapers with imagery drawn from science-fiction illustrations.

    The complete failure of the pseudoscience of ufoolery to make a case for the reality of "UFOs" of any kind is the negative here. The PSH makes its POSITIVE case in at least four clearly distinct ways: historical, philosophical, logical, and astronomical.

    The PSHer can play the role of debunker in contests with believers in the myth, but his real task is to communicate the irrefutable historical facts and logic that compose the history of the "UFO" myth, the Null hypothesis and the real PSH.

    ufoolery is history; let's make the "UFO" myth and delusion history as well.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Sunday, December 14, 2014  

  • Zoamchomsky wrote:

    "There aren't any real "UFOs" of any kind and never were"

    Sorry, but that's a big claim!

    In 1989, new luminous atmospheric phenomena were found: sprites, blue jets and elves. These are now called Transient Luminous Events (TLE)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper-atmospheric_lightning

    These are essentially high altitude lightning over
    thunderstorms.

    If we look at the history section of the article
    we can read:

    "In the 1920s, the Scottish physicist C.T.R. Wilson predicted that electrical breakdown should occur in the atmosphere high above large thunderstorms.[1][2] In ensuing decades, high altitude electrical discharges were reported by aircraft pilots and discounted by meteorologists until the first direct visual evidence was documented in 1989. Several years later, the optical signatures of these events were named 'sprites' by researchers to avoid inadvertently implying physical properties that were, at the time, still unknown. The terms red sprites and blue jets gained popularity after a video clip was circulated following an aircraft research campaign to study sprites in 1994."

    So, before 1989, TLEs were "UFOs" in the literal sense of the term. That means that it is possible that an unknown atmospheric phenomenon remains unnoticed (or in the present case unrecognized) for decades before being accepted by the scientific community.

    So, it is quite possible that other unknown atmospheric phenomena remain to be discovered
    and that some observations of these are buried in
    the various UFO reports from the general public.

    By the way, do you reject also ball lightning reports?

    I am also amazed of how much time you spent
    on the "UFO" subject, as you consider it without any value or merit. If I had the same opinion as yours, I would have abandoned the subject a long time ago and spent my spare time on more productive hobbies.

    Best regards,

    A rare phenomena lover (ball lightning, TLEs, earth lights, etc)

    PS. I don't support ETH, so be reassured on that :-)

    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Sunday, December 14, 2014  

  • Oooooohhh, believe me, Rare phenomena lover, sceptics know only too well about the large and growing number of perfectly natural atmospheric events and anomalies that exist, because they are one of the main groups that cause UFO reports.
    Having read zoam's comments on a number of blogs, I think that in this case, 'there are no UFOs and there never was' means visiting alien spacecraft. Believers swap the terms regularly, but if a sceptic does it, look out !
    The more a sceptic looks into ufology, reading pieces from believers, other sceptics and fortean researchers, the more we recognize the things that create ufology. It reeks of humanity and the story of its progress into popular belief is peppered with the rare phenomena that you love so much.
    I would have used 'alien spacecraft' instead of UFOs but that's just me.
    Talk of what is known about the physics involved with inter-stellar travel jive with me too.
    As an example, assuming that quite a speed must be achieved to make trips to other stars or galaxies, we must remember that space, as incredibly large as it is, contains a lot of dust, rocks and bundies.
    If a craft of some kind is travelling just beneath or even at 80 percent of the speed of light, loose physical material in space is no longer dust, rocks and bundies. When a craft travelling at 80 percent of the speed of light strikes one of these tiny things, they are super high velocity, radioactive bullets, no longer pebbles or specks of dust.
    This example means nothing to the believer because then the aliens, whose eye colour and number of fingers the media and movies will decide, have technology more than advanced enough to deal with it.

    I've also been astounded by the strange things I have seen in the sky and heard about from others. There is so much more than we know but what we do know is physics.
    I've seen ball-lightning, swamp gas and a seemingly unexplainable symbol of flame high in the sky (not unlike Constantine did, except for the shape of the symbol)and I am a rare phenomena fan. Ufology looks thinner and more wishful with each discovery we notice, hey?

    Woody

    By Blogger Woody, at Monday, December 15, 2014  

  • `From my perspective, this is an error of ontology that results in skeptics and believers sharing the same bed.
    The skeptics claim is that there is no material basis and resulting physical evidence to this and the believers say there is and on the extreme end of this, you have the conglomeration where all paths lead to Roswell.
    While the psychology of social scripting does fall into play within experiential anomalies as a function of associations, and identifiers that serve to domesticate an unknown state, it is not the core of what occurs. I would term this an influence.
    I would say this phenomenon and the accounts of it are both true and not true.
    A dream is true and not true. It is and is not at once.
    On one hand you have the NDE phenomenon that falls into this and you have so called alien abductions as a Janus face of the same event. I suspect both are based as Zoam suggests, in terms of their content, a result of social scripting. One is inward, so to speak and the other is outward. However, there is more to this than the reductionist would admit to.
    Both experiences are simulated in the mind's eye by the representation of a tunnel of light. One leads to heaven, the other a spacecraft.
    If, after awakening from a dream, can you say the dream did not exist? It did exist and did not exist. This is the ontology of the phenomenon. This relationship goes further or so I suppose ( imagine ) into the area of imaging and it's relationship to imagination as the basis of consciousness.
    What is the mystery is the trigger and I suspect there is more than one that is analogous to the several precursors behind weather patterns.
    99.9% of all discussions of this phenomenon are based on this error of ontology.
    Or so I suspect....

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Monday, December 15, 2014  

  • My hypothesis is that the PSH as an explanation for UFO reports is a modern myth; the creation and propagation of the PSH itself is a purely psychosocial phenomenon. This stands as a self-evident truth without regard to the plausibility of any individual "arguments" within the PSH.

    By Blogger Larry, at Monday, December 15, 2014  

  • Rare phenomena lover;
    Please read carefully and think, and take no offense.

    "There aren't any real "UFOs" of any kind and never were"

    Sorry, but that's a big claim!
    It's not a big claim. It says "real 'UFOs.'" And if one understands the Null hypothesis for "UFO" reports, it's the most reasonable, plausible and mundane claim (hypothesis) made about over a century of "UFO" reports producing not one real "UFO." Zero equals zero is much more reasonable than zero equals some unknown thing.

    These are now called Transient Luminous Events (TLE)
    How many "UFO" reports had TLEs as their ambiguous visual stimuli? Since TLEs only exist at altitudes of 50 miles or more, most probably zero.
    But even if one had, it wasn't a "real 'UFO'" then, was it?


    So, before 1989, TLEs were "UFOs" in the literal sense of the term.
    You can see how this is not true in any sense now, I hope. In fact, it's non-sense:
    Wholly abstract, conditional "UFOs" cannot pre-exist "UFO" reports--of which there were none for TLEs--and previously undiscovered upper-atmosphere events once identified as TLEs cannot be or become real "UFOs" in hindsight.


    So, it is quite possible that other unknown atmospheric phenomena remain to be discovered and that some observations of these are buried in the various UFO reports from the general public.
    Not "quite possible," just barely possible by appealing to the inherent incompleteness of knowledge and ambiguity of language. But in the real world, it's not very plausible at all.


    By the way, do you reject also ball lightning reports?
    I haven't rejected anything, but ball lightning reports don't seem to indicate anything really so different from various known ephemeral luminous displays. And none of this has much, if anything at all, to do with why people make "UFO" reports.


    I am also amazed of how much time you spent on the "UFO" subject, as you consider it without any value or merit.
    You're confusing the substance of the Null and Psychosocial hypotheses with my conclusions about the "UFO" subject as a whole. How could one have a conclusion worthy of consideration without having considered the substance of the subject thoroughly?
    All of these fundamentals of the subject--the "UFO" myth--have been exposed and presented by great skeptics for decades. What remains is to communicate these irrefutable historical facts and logic that compose the history of the "UFO" myth, the Null hypothesis and the real PSH to new generations infected with the delusion.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • Very nice Wiki Article.

    I think the most sensible approach is to consider both the psychosocial hypothesis and the idea of some "agency" may be responsible.

    I believe it was Jacques Vallée who said (paraphrased) "we should stop looking at the movies and start looking for the projector." Surely it is obvious that UFOs have a predictable shape which is based on the observer's bias and beliefs. At the same time there seems to be some aspect or "trigger" which is independent of the observer. It might be some poorly understood natural phenomena. It could be a kind of 2001ish intellect which we could no more comprehend than a beehive could comprehend a beekeeper.

    By Blogger The Odd Emperor, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • My hypothesis is that the PSH as an explanation for UFO reports is a modern myth;

    By definition, a myth is false, so Larry's (humorous) hypothesis is that "the PSH as an explanation for UFO reports" must be false.

    But what "shifting the burden of proof" Larry really needs to show is how the Null hypothesis as an explanation for "UFO" reports must be false.

    So falsify the Null hypothesis for "UFO" reports: Show veracious evidence of REAL "UFOs!" (g)

    The PSH doesn't explain "UFO" cases, it explains all reports as expressions of a myth and delusion without regard to the plausibility (truth value) of individual reports. The PSH IS about what people believe, so his minor premise is correct, if stating the obvious.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • And how can we know anything about any hypothetical "agency" (real "UFOs"), Odd Emperor, when we only have access to "UFO" reports? We cannot speak about that which is inaccessible. We cannot simply assume the answer--some unknown reality (interdimensionals or mere earth lights)--to what is the fundamental "UFO" question.

    This is all nonfalsifiable and is, in effect, indistinguishable from the Null hypothesis.

    Jacques wasn't saying anything smart. He was either philosophically ignorant in a fundamental way or he knew very well his fundamental logical error and was a trickster who would say anything to sell a "UFO" book that appealed to Believers.

    Speculations on hypothetical entities is intellectual abdication! It explains nothing!

    Think about it: Based solely on the "evidence" presented, any typical "UFO" story, how does one conclude that there is some unknown reality behind a mere report?

    Belief in a myth--however justified by fantastic mumbo-jumbo--isn't good enough. It only leaves us exactly where we started, people telling utterly inconsequential "UFO" stories.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • Zoam:

    When you "explain" "all reports as expressions of a myth and delusion without regard to the plausibility (truth value) of individual reports"

    You have just removed yourself from the realm of rationality and science which you profess to love so much and moved into the realm of religious nut job. If you're not willing to consider the truth or falsity of the very reports that make up the subject matter under debate as a means of either affirming or falsifying your hypothesis, just what do you rely on, the voices in your head?

    By Blogger Larry, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • Funny, Larry; Now go back to the first post for the answers, they're all there.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Tuesday, December 16, 2014  

  • Rich
    The evangelical fervor displayed here shows you built the perfect mouse trap.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, December 17, 2014  

  • When Believers in the "UFO" myth are faced with their inability to falsify the Null hypothesis, they default to ad hominens like "religious" and "evangelical." (g)

    The Null hypothesis--the fact that there are no real "UFOs"--requires the PSH; if there were real "UFOs" of any kind, the PSH of reports would not be necessary.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Thursday, December 18, 2014  

  • Good evening,

    This discussion where everybody maintains their point with fervor, is both interesting and entertaining and raises a critical issue with UFO sightings and ufology that I will discuss .

    1- From Bruce :

    « I've also been astounded by the strange things I have seen in the sky and heard about from others. There is so much more than we know but what we do know is physics.
    I've seen ball-lightning, swamp gas and a seemingly unexplainable symbol of flame high in the sky (not unlike Constantine did, except for the shape of the symbol)and I am a rare phenomena fan. Ufology looks thinner and more wishful with each discovery we notice, hey? »

    Thank you for your comments. I hadn’t yet the chance of observing anything unusual.
    I am however working on an observation project on the field with cameras and instruments to attempt taking videos and photos of earth lights, a still controversial phenomenon.

    2- For Zoam about TLEs observed before 1989 :

    Because of their high altitude, TLEs were mostly reported by pilots. Here are some cases :


    http://talus-and-heavner.com/rs/MattHeavner_PhdThesis_May2000.pdf

    « Reports from the last 150 years include descriptions of “...con- tinuous darts of light ... ascended to a considerable altitude, resembling rockets more than lightning” [MacKenzie and Toynbee, 1886], “...a luminous trail shot up to 15 degrees or so, about as fast as, or faster than, a rocket” [Everett, 1903], “...a long weak streamer of a reddish hue...” [Malan, 1937], “...flames appearing to rise from the top of the cloud...” [Ashmore, 1950], and a “...discharge [which] assumed a shape similar to roots of a tree in an inverted position...” [Wood, 1951].
    Aircraft pilots have reported seeing similar phenomena. Ronald Williams, a U-2 pilot for NASA at the Ames Research Laboratory, describes observing a “bright lightning discharge, whitish-yellow in colour, that came directly out of the centre of the cloud at its apex and extended vertically upwards far above my altitude. The discharge was very nearly straight, like a beam of light, showing no tortuosity or branching. Its duration was greater than an ordinary lightning flash, perhaps as much as five seconds.” [Vonnegut, 1980]. The reported long duration does not match recorded observations of sprites or blue jets, but the report provided important documentation of a pilot’s observation of optical events above thunderstorms which helped to generate scientific interest in the field. »
    http://amasci.com/weird/unusual/sprite.html

    « These forms of lightning eluded science because they are not as obvious as common lightning. They are rarer, fainter, and faster than normal lightning. They were, however, reported before they were recognized as something real. Airline pilots had sometimes seen them, and the May, 1995, issue of Sky & Telescope contains a letter from Stuart L. Becher. He writes that he is personally gratified that the sprite phenomena has at last been recognized as real, and then relates witnessing them twenty-five years ago when he was serving in Vietnam. Although he reported his observations to physicists and atmospheric scientists, most were indifferent. »

    So, there were a few « UFO » reports generated before 1989 caused by TLEs.

    Continued in part 2

    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Friday, December 19, 2014  

  • Part 2

    3- For Zoam about the Null hypothesis and anecdotal data.

    « But what "shifting the burden of proof" Larry really needs to show is how the Null hypothesis as an explanation for "UFO" reports must be false.

    So falsify the Null hypothesis for "UFO" reports: Show veracious evidence of REAL "UFOs!" (g)
    And how can we know anything about any hypothetical "agency" (real "UFOs"), Odd Emperor, when we only have access to "UFO" reports? We cannot speak about that which is inaccessible. We cannot simply assume the answer--some unknown reality (interdimensionals or mere earth lights)--to what is the fundamental "UFO" question.

    This is all nonfalsifiable and is, in effect, indistinguishable from the Null hypothesis.
    Speculations on hypothetical entities is intellectual abdication! It explains nothing!

    Think about it: Based solely on the "evidence" presented, any typical "UFO" story, how does one conclude that there is some unknown reality behind a mere report? »

    The problem here is that UFO reports are anecdotal data. The study of narrative accounts from witnesses is good for brainstorming (as Vallee does) and formulating hypotheses (such as earth lights, my favorite), but anecdotes don’t constitute by themselves scientific evidence. That’s the major issue in ufology. We critically lack tangible evidence, that is, quantitative measurements. The fact that the same sighting may either be considered as earth lights, interdimensonal entities, or simply rejected (null hypothesis) even if the description looks like that of an unknown phenomenon all at the same time shows clearly the limitation of anecdotes as data. In addition, eyewitness reports may be tainted by expectations or beliefs. The study of descriptions of rocket reentries when misinterpretated as UFOs by Jim Oberg is a clear example of this. Because of this, considering anecdotal data as sufficient evidence to prove existence of unknown phenomena is an error.

    Continued in part 3

    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Friday, December 19, 2014  

  • So, what we can do ? The solution is instrumental observation. We can use anecdotal reports as a starting point to test hypotheses on the field. In my own case, I am testing the earth lights hypothesis. I am located in the province of Quebec, Canada. I have access to all upcoming UFO reports. A few reports describe a ball lightning like phenomenon recurring over several days or even months, irrespective of weather conditions. Basically, the witnesses describe luminous spheres ranging from a few inches to few feet in diameter that float in the air near their home or in the forest all in a limited area. The sightings are recurrent but stop eventually. My plan is to go to the sighting location with quality photographic equipment to take good pictures and videos of the phenomenon as soon as a case having these characteristics is reported. I will also take magnetic field measurements in the absence and presence of the spheres. I have already investigated a few cases like this but as the alleged event was years ago and the occurrences stopped, controlled observation could not be made. In short, such a methodology allows falsification of hypotheses and, in my opinion, constitute a better approach than a sterile discussion about the value of anecdotal UFO reports. If the project is successful, earth lights will be a new recognized atmospheric phenomenon (probably with a different name). If not, then the hypothesis has to be abandoned .

    There has been previous attempts at instrumental observation. The most known example is at Hessdalen, Norway. Unfortunately, the researchers have made a lot of blunders the recent years. such as erroneously showing lens flares as the light phenomenon. Gilles Fernandez, a French researcher, has shown such examples of errors and contacted them.

    So, until we have tangible evidence, the discussion on the subject of UFOs will be always sterile and purely opinion-based.

    Concerning the PSH, the subject of the thread, yes it can explain the folklore, mythology and belief system associated with the subject.

    Best regards

    By Blogger Rare phenomena lover, at Friday, December 19, 2014  

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