UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cognitive Unconscious: Why we believe and why we don’t

The TLS issue of 9/25/15 had a review by John Cottingham (Page 28 ff.) of Graham Ward’s new book, Unbelievable: Why we believe and why we don’t [I.B. Taurus, $32).

Its relevance to this blog lies in its discussion of, not only the mechanism(s) of belief but reality – the grist of much that makes up comments here (and elsewhere in the UFO web-sphere).

Reviewer Cotttingham writes, “Philosophers have argued endlessly about the epistemic status of belief, or what entitles some beliefs to the accolade ‘knowledge’, but comparatively few have paid attention to ‘what lies beneath’ – to the ‘archaeology of belief’ as Ward calls it. Drawing on a formidable array of empirical research into the behavioural and neurological underpinnings of belief, and its evolutionary and prehistoric roots, Ward digs deep into the domain of what Berkeley psychologist John Kihlstrom has termed the ‘cognitive unconscious’. [sic]

“A rich array of non-conscious mental activity including learned responses that have become automatic, subliminal perceptions that impact on our conscious judgements, and implicit but not consciously recalled memories -- all these profoundly affect how we perceive and interpret the world.

“Though there is a partial debt here to the seminal insights of Freud, the scope of the resulting conception of human belief and understanding is far wider. Not just in neurotic desires and perceptions, but whenever we believe a processing, anything at all, there is a  mode of liminal processing, related to embodiment and affectivity, which ‘thinks’ more quickly and reacts more instinctively than our conscious rational deliberation”. [sic]

Cottingham continues, “For Ward, postmodernity has exploded the notion of the inevitable triumph of a science-bases, demythologized and secularized world.” [Italics mine]

“Myth is an inescapable part of human culture. And it does not just include archetypal stories of our origins (such as the Genesis narrative), but a whole range of human activity, the ‘symbolic realms we, as humans and hominid creatures, have been cultivating for 2.2 million years’, including art, poetry, rite and dance, or in the present day, even some of the fantasy fiction produced by the filmmakers … In ways we cannot fully explain, these interlocking modes of human culture tap the powers of what we call the imagination, which operates at many more levels than are accessed by our conscious reflective awareness.”

“ … all belief involves imagination.”

Cottingham continues with his account of two other books about faith, spirituality, and Christianity, but I’m not gong into that mire here.

The belabored excerpts above apply to those who believe in the extraterrestrial aspect of UFOs and particularly the alien mythos that permeates any discussion of Roswell.

While it opens the door to such beliefs – the ET mind-set – it also mitigates any tendency to see the “imaginative” incursion of an alien presence for UFOs or Roswell.

It does that by pointing to “archaeology of belief.”

That is Ward, in his book, presents caveats to belief derived from the subliminal perceptions that impact our conscious judgements.

This is equivalent, for me, to the pressures from the Id (as dramatized in the movie, Forbidden Planet) or, if your prefer, the thesis of the collective unconscious of Jung fraught with his panoply of archetypes.

We can believe things (or not) but that belief (or non-belief) is determined by what lies deep within our evolutionary and neurological underpinnings: “what lies beneath.”

This applies to two persons, in the UFO community, who exemplify both sides of the equation: David Rudiak, the believer, and Zoam Chomsky, the non-believer.

Their argumentative pose, here and at Kevin Randle's blog give example to the views that Ward presents in his insightful book.

One needs to know what the basis of their stances are – from whence their mind-sets come.

They, Rudiak and Chomsky (among a few others), show exactly what Ward outlines.

We, who follow the UFO debates, need to know why ET (or UFO) believers and ET (or UFO) atheists assume the positions they take.

This will cleanse the air of the vituperation and nonsense that engulfs UFO debate and is killing or has killed “ufology” – that bulwark of insanity that has entrapped the UFO phenomenon in a hurricane of crazy theories and goofy-ass counter-arguments.

RR

26 Comments:

  • While I can't speak to the underlying cause for Rudiak's or Zoam's differing stance on intelligent life beyond our solar system, I can say from experience the bantering and personal criticism in UFO blogs permeates every discussion. You can't escape it. Oil and water just don't mix.

    Skeptics can't make a statement without being accused of "snark-isms" or even worse, outright "personal attacks" that ET'ers demand must conclude by public apology to the victimized believer.

    Yet the very same who accuse also offend as they haplessly descend into cyclical debate over trivial matters that for practical readers seem more like issues of semantic interpretation mixed with insult.

    Regardless of viewpoint, we do know each person has a particular world view shaped by experience which is then translated into specific core beliefs.

    Is it possible the extreme skeptic never believed in the tooth fairy or the bearded man with a red suit because their minds focused on the concrete and measurable? Was the ET believer prone to creative fantasies, imaginative play, and a world where parents taught anything is possible?

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Monday, October 26, 2015  

  • Brian:

    When it comes to the lackeys at Kevin's blog (and elsewhere -- I don't allow many of them here, Zoam being an exception), the Socratic maxim -- Know thyself -- should be an exordium.

    Ward's book, touted above, would be a fine start for some of the fellows -- those inclined to open minds or intellectualism.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, October 26, 2015  

  • Just read Graham Ward's bio on wiki. Interesting fellow with a wide range of theological interests.

    It appears to me that the very extreme positions on the UFO/ET continuum get the headlines... relegating the centeric viewpoint to the side. Can one be agnostic towards the subject?

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, October 26, 2015  

  • I tend to consider myself an Agnostic Gnostic with Ignostic tendencies...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

    And as I am prone to Ignosticism in matters of theology, I think it would be worth considering how Ignosticism could be applied to the 'theology' of ufology.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, October 26, 2015  

  • And Tim what exactly for you is the "centric viewpoint" regarding UFO's?

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Monday, October 26, 2015  

  • Brian,

    This is based on a linear/continuum where as on either end of the line we have Dr. Rudiak and on the other Zoam. These two may be considered "hard liners" that are diametrically opposed to each other. BTW, it's the exact situation describing "right" "left" on a political scale.

    So, this leaves the middle where I fall in, yet leaning slightly towards my friend Zoam. I'm skeptical/dubious to most claims, but leave some room open. This also describes my tendency to be agnostic towards UFOs in general, based on incomplete data and missing variables.

    For example, I discount that actual ET species/organisms have visited this planet as I've seen no plausible evidence to support this notion. I believe that it may be possible that an advance civilization could have sent an artificial probe that aimlessly found its way here. This could account for some strange events listed in ancient texts, yet one still would have to wonder why and how, plus the considering of the improbable odds that anyone in our vast galaxy would even notice our obscure star and solar system.

    So I brand this as my personal "centric" or agnostic viewpoint.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Tuesday, October 27, 2015  

  • I'm with centric and agnostic as a SETI-like hopeful is firm in my considerations.

    The volume of UAP reports across the spectrum is just plain tantalizing but my skepticism keeps dragging me back to hopeful and curious.

    Wackos on one side and the null people on the other is exhausting, I want to categorize both of them together somehow as sideshow, a kabuki theater that I don't want to watch.

    BD

    By Blogger Bryan Daum, at Tuesday, October 27, 2015  

  • Thanks Tim - then you just described my stance on the subject. I was once "Rudiakin" on this matter and have since shifted past center but not quite "Zoamian" in my thinking.

    There's a possibility of ET, but so far the real evidence of earthly visitation is sorely lacking.

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Tuesday, October 27, 2015  

  • Brian, since the evidence is lacking for ET, I tend to endorse a psychological component to most of the "sensational" claims. Most of the cases that I've looked at (primarily old military cases) have a potential psychological component that appears to be ignored...deliberately or through ignorance.

    Lance Moody tends to sum things up as he describes the evidence offered by the ET proponents as "crap" and I have to agree at this point in time.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Tuesday, October 27, 2015  

  • Tim, as we have posted here and elsewhere, in some cases such as Penniston's, clearly there might be schitzophrenia involved or possibly some other mental health disorder. Of course this is never evaluated much less considered.

    Anyone who claims contact with an ET is instantly thought to be factual often with no evidence whatsoever.

    If not already done, I think it would be pertinent to assemble evaluative data on each witness to correlate if any trends are common among people who observe a common phenomenon.

    - Did they all have similar upbringings?
    - Is there a similar medical history?
    - Did they experience abuse or trauma?

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Rich, are you characterizing Zoam and David based on their blog posts?

    Best Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Yes, Don...

    What else do I have?

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • The medium is the message -- in this instance the media is blog posts.

    Consider that Zoam Chomsky doesn't exist. It's a "handle". ZC's avatar is a picture of Patrick McGoohan. David Rudiak is an actually existing person. He has a website and he exists in Real Life(tm) because we have pictures of him socializing with others we know to exist in RL. Zoam is only a "cyber-entity". His avatar and handle attempt to communicate information about him, like a sign, before we read his comment.

    The medium is blog comments, similar to web forum comments, and usenet posts. One of the many curiosities about them is the well observed phenomenon of repetition: the very same issues are discussed the very same way, year after year after year. No matter who the discussants are, and they change almost with the seasons. The opinions and "facts' never seem to change, though.

    Zoam and David and most all of us conform to that 'compulsion' to repeat. I think that is because people comment, not to present an opinion or facts first of all, but a personality, and also to solidarize themselves with others.

    But actual beliefs? I don't think we can observe that in this medium.

    Best Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Don...

    You're a bit cynical.

    Blog comments may be seen -- some of them -- as a kind of Freudian slip; a clue to one's unconscious thoughts, one's actual belief system.

    Zoam is known to many of us as an academic, with ample credentials to present commentary.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Rich, I don't think I'm cynical.

    There doesn't seem to be good odds of a "slip" in comments, unless the action is hot and heavy and the posters are just firing away back and forth, which is unlikely, especially if the blog is pre-moderated. Such slips are common enough in spoken language, but we tend to think through what we write -- and proof it.

    I don't doubt "Zoam" is played by a real person. That real person (outed I think on Kevin's blog) presents themselves not as themselves but as something else. Why a pic of Patrick McGoohan? Is it to effect the viewer to 'subconsciously' think of The Prisoner? Is the message that Zoam is the one sane person in a village of gullible idiots?

    How else am I supposed to read his avatar?

    I guess I see the issue as one of cultural anthropology or sociology, rather than psychology.

    Best Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • "both sides of the equation: David Rudiak, the believer, and Zoam Chomsky, the non-believer."

    Yes! Rudiak is a hard-core ETHer and Roswell fanatic.

    And I think all the evidence for "UFOs" of any kind amounts to zero.

    I don't see much of a positive comparison. (g)

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Don:

    Zoam is a little nuts....but I love the guy!

    (I hate avatars and pseudonyms.)

    His antithetical stance on UFOs invigorates, because it's so vibrant and "out there."

    For me, every utterance, every written parcel, everything has a component that comes from the unconscious and real belief system of the person providing the material.

    There is a psychological (psychiatric actually) category that fits Zoam, and me, too, I hate to write. It's in The Psychiatric Dictionary (Page 78, under the discussion of autism):

    "In the autistic life-approach, the 'Me' predominates, often to the exclusion of the 'Not-me,' external reality gradually loses more and more of its significance, and the patient is attuned to and guided by the inner workings of his being. He is totally selfish, in the most literal (and yet non-pejorative) sense of the term, for he is unable to turn his energies onto objects outside himself. He exaggerates the importance of inner physical sensations as well as his own ideas and emotions. He becomes involved in pseudo-philosophical speculations and has no time for mixing with his peers. He feels different from others, complains that he has never realized his potentialities, and is concerned with establishing an identity for himself."

    This is how my Facebook "friends" see me I think, and how many see Zoam.

    We all have problems, some inner, some outer. Zoam's is grist for evaluation as is Rudiak's and many others who frequent Kevin's blog and this one, among others.

    This is only important if one is taking to heart what others are opining on UFO blogs, which I don't. That's why the segment above applies to me: I don't give a good goddamn what people provide in commentary at blogs; they're nutty mostly.

    I appreciate what Kevin writes; he has cachet with me. His followers do not.

    The only other place where I accept the follow-up of readers is Eric Wargo's site -- thenightshirt.com because Eric is brilliant and his readers go head-to-head with him almost as brilliantly.

    Otherwise, the rest is crap, as Tim reminded us with his Lance Moody condemnation of what is spewing forth all over the UFO universe.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • "Is it to effect the viewer to 'subconsciously' think of The Prisoner? Is the message that Zoam is the one sane person in a village of gullible idiots?"

    Oh, Don, that is the funniest thing I've heard this year! Thank you!

    This is the kind of nonsense we get when people can't follow the simple rule of addressing the subject only--not people, personalities and identities.

    The personal nonsense we just saw at KR's blog was just a distraction, an excuse for ad hominems because Brian Bell dared to expose the fact that any true "Ramey memo" contradicts, destroys the "balloon debris substitution" conspiracy theory.

    And that fact infered something even more damning about "Ramey memo" fanatics. They'd been skewered, plain and simple. So they turn on the man. It's Despicable!

    But we've seen such Internet "UFO" goon behavior for decades. "Anyone who dares to question the ETH will be attacked by flesh-ripping weasels!"

    LOL

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • I think the dictionary quote above describes, to a large degree, just about every commenter in online discussions, not only ufo discussions. The comments conform to the medium, which is good for expressing attitude and personality, and not so good for substantive discussion. Forum posting was studied back in the day (1990s), and papers and theses were written about it.

    I see Zoam has restated his reason for existing.

    What the sane men on the ship of fools need to answer is, if they are not fools, why are they on the ship?

    Best Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Don:

    Your reference to Ship of Fools reminds me of the Porter novel from which a great film derived and the Hieronymus Bosch painting.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, October 28, 2015  

  • Don quips, "I see Zoam has restated his reason for existing."

    What is that, Don, what do you perceived as my "reason for existing?"

    And does the use of the word "restated" mean that you perceive a new "reason for [my] existing," which would be significant if true, or you perceive that I've merely reiterated?"

    Seriously, Don, please identity this reason. This should be good!

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Friday, October 30, 2015  

  • Z: "What is that, Don, what do you perceived as my "reason for existing?""

    You? You mean who you are in real life? I'm indifferent about that. I am referring to the character Zoam Chomsky. Your posts are assertions of your role playing character, ZC. So, ZC's reason for existing is to post comments as ZC. This is true of all rpcs...the role of the character you are playing.

    ***
    ""Is it to effect the viewer to 'subconsciously' think of The Prisoner? Is the message that Zoam is the one sane person in a village of gullible idiots?"

    Oh, Don, that is the funniest thing I've heard this year! Thank you!

    This is the kind of nonsense we get when people can't follow the simple rule of addressing the subject only--not people, personalities and identities."
    ***

    Then why have you created a personality and identity: ZC? Why do you comment on "personalities" (the one's you call ufoologists)? Why can't you address the subject, instead?

    Above, I asked some questions. I wondered why you went to the trouble to create an rpc on ufology blogs.

    It seems you are having difficulty distinguishing between the role playing character you created and yourself.

    Good luck

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Sunday, November 01, 2015  

  • It is interesting that Roswell ET skeptics and advocates are in agreement about Roswell basics: they believe the Brazel to Wilcox to Marcel to Ramey narrative. They believe that the public fuss was instantiated by the press release ("Haughts Statement") -- their base evidence is the Roswell newscycle news stories, an FBI telegram, Joyce's collection of UP wires, and the Daily Illini news story about the AP wires. That's it.

    Or, to put it succinctly, they believe what they read in the papers.

    That's my criticism of them all.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Sunday, November 01, 2015  

  • Don quipped, "I see Zoam has restated his reason for existing."

    So I asked, "What is that, Don, what do you perceived as my 'reason for existing?'"

    And got no straight answer because it was just a nutty ad hominem to begin with.

    Don, what's with all the ad hominem, which is all it is, or are you truly so confused? None of your nutty observations are true. They're loony in fact.

    "Is it to effect the viewer to 'subconsciously' think of The Prisoner? Is the message that Zoam is the one sane person in a village of gullible idiots?"

    Sometimes a picture of an actor is just a picture of an actor and nothing more. In guerilla skeptics training in the 1980s we were told to never identify. (g) As if there's some purpose in my avatar or name. The idea is ridiculously nutty.

    You didn't answer a direct question but instead make more ad hominem and echo me.

    You've got it all wrong from the start so you only compound your silly conspiracy-minded misperceptions of the situation. You've thought way too much about things that have no meaning. Try to be accommodating after your long absence but you appear not to have changed. Something's bothering contrarian Don that has nothing to do with me.

    "Why do you comment on 'personalities' (the one's you call ufoologists)? Why can't you address the subject, instead?"

    You start with the ad hominem and tell me to address the subject! That is rich.

    I address the subject in nearly every post except when someone starts with the ad hominems. But there is a real question here finally. And the answer is, Don, that ufoologists' crackpot and pseudoscientific behaviors are nearly as much a part of the subject as the "UFO" reports. It has always been that way because ufoologists' make extraordinary claims about our mundane world (right now it's DR's nutty "memo" pseudoscience for example) and so their methods and behaviors, even their sanity is called into question. Get it? ufoologists promoting false beliefs are suspect.

    I remember now, it seems as if I'm always reinventing the wheel for Don every time we speak. Don is the kind of guy, a real "UFO" conspiracy nut, who can't understand why ufoolery is considered pseudoscience and why the real world and sciences like astrophysics, astronomy and social psychology deem it a worthless myth and delusion.

    So something worthwhile, maybe, out of encountering the Don again. Hey, how's that cheesy flying-saucer conspiracy website of yours coming along? Be seeing you!

    Oh, and I am not a "character." "I am a free man!" (g)

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Sunday, November 01, 2015  

  • Zoam wrote: "None of your nutty observations are true. They're loony in fact."

    "...your silly conspiracy-minded misperceptions of the situation." You've thought way too much about things that have no meaning.

    "Don is the kind of guy, a real "UFO" conspiracy nut, who can't understand why..."

    "Hey, how's that cheesy flying-saucer conspiracy website of yours coming along?"

    You might consider revisiting the definition of ad hominem.

    If you weren't playing the role of an ET skekptic, you might have noticed I'm not interested in ET, so you usual boiler plate is misapplied.

    You're also punching above your weight, I think. I've known kids who could flame better than you.

    Regards,

    Don

    By Blogger Don, at Sunday, November 01, 2015  

  • Okay, Don and Zoam...

    We've gone pretty far off the path, into invective and vituperation; it's making my brain hurt, as Month Python put it.

    RR



    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, November 01, 2015  

Post a Comment

<< Home