Perception and UFOs
The current discussion at Kevin Randle’s blog and the discussion here, earlier, of the Chiles/Whitted 1948 cigar-shaped UFO sighting raises the issue(s) of perception.
Do people see what they say they saw or do they misperceive?
There are a plethora of reasons for misperception: eye diseases, hallucinatory inclinations, neurological and psychological delusions, and encumbrances to sight because of location, weather conditions, and times of day.
But, over all and generally, normal people, with good eyesight, see what they think they see, even taking into account those rare or occasional instances of pareidolia (where something is visualized within a confluence of random stimuli).
See Wikipedia’s take on pareidolia here:
For instance, in the Chiles/Whitted account of their UFO-rocket, the pilots saw what they say they saw – a craft in flight, not a meteor or bolide as some proclaim.
The experienced pilots with good eyesight determined they saw a rocket-like ship.
Then that’s what they saw.
The book Illusions by Edi Lanners [Holt, Rinehart and Winston, NY, 1973] (covered here in earlier postings) presents a raft of illusion and explains how they come about.
But those illusions are often created by egregious set-ups by man and nature.
NASA scientist Larry presented a litany of reasons at Kevin’s blog, if I read him correctly, why the Chiles/Whitted sighting could not be interpreted as a meteor, comet, or bolide.
The credulity of observation cannot be undercut by an interpretation that struggles with an onslaught of Ockham’s Razor – that the simplest explanation explains a phenomenon.
Ockham’s Razor per Wikipedia:
While Chiles and Whitted drew slightly different versions of what they thought they saw…[images from Project 1947]:
The object remains intact as a craft of some sort, not a disintegrating bolide:
But what about those alleged 1896 Airship sightings adduced to be hoaxes or misperceived sightings of the planet Venus (a vibrant view of French skeptic Gilles Fernandez) or manmade ships (also from Gilles)?
One has to, after sifting through accounts of the sightings as those of Jerome Clark and Lucius Farish and others, accept, out of common sense, that some who say they saw airships as described by the press, at the time, actually saw what they think they saw, not Venus, but ships, either made by Earthlings or from places elsewhere than Earth.
Not everyone is crazy or needs eyeglasses….ask David Rudiak.
And when Hickson and Parker report they saw beings who ended up abducting them, sort of, one can surmise that they saw what they saw, or were hallucinating or delusional by drinking alcohol or subject to a military experiment (as Nick Redfern suggests).
But they did see what they think they saw; their perception wasn’t marred by neurological malfeasance even though a folie à deux is possible. However that doesn’t relinquish what they think they saw. Their perception was intact and wholesome.
People see things, and convey what they see to others, with variations of detail from mental intrusions surely, but the essentiality of what they see and tell others they saw is, intrinsically, what was presented to their eyes (and brains).
Mankind isn’t blind, and man’s eyesight isn’t flawed in ways that allows everything reported to have been seen as flawed either.
Odd things are seen in the skies and one has to accept that the reports by those who see these odd things are actually what they saw.
People are, generally not dishonest or privy to hoaxing, nor are they flawed with bad eyesight.
Chiles and Whitted and all the other reports one can muster from UFO lore and achives are replete with actual accounts of strange things seen.
What those things are is another matter.