UFO Conjecture(s)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Skeptical Mind usurped by Emotional Bias

A UFO friend of mine, when I announced a project about who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, asked, “ You’re not really going to indulge that nonsense, are you?”

For me, the palpable obviousness of different authors for the Shakespeare oeuvre needed a rehash. Many others doubted that William Shakespeare wrote or was able to write the great works attributed to him; e.g., Delia Bacon, Sigmund Freud, Alden Brooks, Calvin Hoffman, Gilbert Slater [The Group Theory, which I adhere to].

Ms. Bacon was considered, according to James Shapiro (see below), “crank and a madwoman but had favorable views held by Emerson, Hawthorne, and Whitman.”

Delia Bacon may be read about here:

The authorship question here:

The counter work that attempts to offset the controversy (one more time) is Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare by James Shapiro [Simon & Schuster, NY 2010].

But this is a blog about UFOs, so here’s where I make my point from the blog title…

The iconic Kenneth Arnold 1947 sighting, from which the term “flying saucers" came into being, has been interpreted a number of ways, even here, early on, but a great debate ensued and kept erupting on UFO UpDates, exacerbated by UFO ET believers and alleged “open-minded” ufologists.

It seems that one James Easton speculated, eruditely apparently, that Arnold had actually seen, not “flying saucers” but, pelicans. [See Lynn Picknett’s elaborate account in The Mammoth Book of UFOs [Carroll & Graf Publishers, NY, 2001, Pages 45 ff.].

One-time noted author Jerome Clark and various of his cronies coined the term “pelicanist” as an epithet for those adhering to Mr. Easton’s inestimable view.

The debate caused rancor, mostly from UFO proponents, with a few occasional peeps from the Pelican-believers.

That Arnold saw “flying saucers” was, like the believers in Shakespeare’s output, a descent into “faith” rather than logic or rationality.

The “pelicanists” were not and are not the skeptics in this. The Arnold saucerites are; they can’t imagine Ken Arnold being gulled by birds, but he was.

Such biases, as belief in something(s) so patently erroneous, are as maddening to the intellectual mind as the irrationality of a Menzel, James Randi, Philip Klass, Robert Sheaffer, or our friend Zoam Chomsky, who hate UFO belief but hark to an alternative that is equally, maybe even more so, absurd.



  • Robert Sheaffer irrational? You must be kidding. I'd say the exact opposite.

    Re Delia Bacon, is she by any chance related to Francis Bacon, the very person (or the chief suspect) as the true author of Shakespeare's plays, or at least many of them. Another suspect is Christopher Marlowe, who died young, at 29 or 30.

    But I have not studied this subject to any extent.

    By Blogger cda, at Sunday, March 13, 2016  

  • I'm unclear about your points here. Are you saying Arnold (most likely) did see birds?

    In what way are the sceptics you mentioned irrational? By refusing to take at face value something which lacks any credible evidence whatsoever? What absurd alternative are they supposedly offering?

    There's not one single UFO case on record that would pass muster in a court of law. Not even under the lower 'burden of proof' of a civil case. Yet scepticism is seen as "irrational"?

    If I've misunderstood or misrepresented you in any way, I'm more than happy to be enlightened. :)

    By Blogger scherben, at Monday, March 14, 2016  

  • Scherben....

    Yes, you miss the point.

    If you read the book entry I cited you'd see that Arnold did, indeed, mistake pelicans for "flying saucers."

    And if you were familiar with the skeptical views on UFO Updates (around 2005),, you'd see that UFO proponents were so hot to accept the idea that Arnold didn't see pelicans, they forsook their skepticism for a belief that he must have seen flying saucers.

    The idea that Arnold was mistaken could not be allowed by persons who pretended to be objective and skeptical of nonsense but were quite ready to eschew the pelican view, which made eminent sense and was amply supported by James Easton's hypothesis.

    That is, the UFO advocates were skeptical of views that impinged on their ET bias, but not skeptical of views that hinted at alien or extraterrestrial visitations, even though they feigned objectivity.....they were acting irrationally.



    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, March 14, 2016  

  • Thank you for the clarification. :)

    I think it's going to be a long time before some UFO believers concur that Kenneth Arnold probably saw birds. The Grand Patriarch of the UFO phenomenon is even more sacrosanct than Roswell (probably). That said, you already know that.

    Thanks again for your reply.

    By Blogger scherben, at Monday, March 14, 2016  

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