Friday, June 08, 2007

The Fringe

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Scientists – real scientists – rightfully eschew the fringe phenomena that afflicts some of humanity: UFOs, alien abduction, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, parapsychology, ghosts, et cetera.

It’s not that the phenomena isn’t worthy of a look-see by bona fide professionals (as physicist Michio Kaku suggests); it’s that the phenomena has been corrupted by the madness, the insanity as it were, of those who’ve adopted some phenomenon or other to flesh out their morbidly dull lives.

Any scrutiny of a fringe topic, say UFOs, for example, will show that the strangeness of the thing(s) is offset by the even stranger reaction to it by a diverse group of sociopaths, expert-wannabes, narcissists, and just plain crazy people.

(Hoaxers are also a ubiquitous bane.)

Admittedly there are some serious, somewhat credentialed persons seeking answers to the phenomenon that interests them, but they dilute that seriousness by popping up in various milieux where the crazies reside.

These serious quasi-investigators can’t help but appear in and at venues where every wacko has admittance and is granted a kind of respected credibility, no matter how ridiculous their position may be.

Why would a serious scientist invest time and besmirch his or her career by associating with those who have little (if any) training or expertise about the subject matter at hand?

Jacques Vallee, a scientist with expertise in computer matters mostly, has withdrawn from the UFO debate, to study, privately, the phenomenon within what he calls The Invisible College.

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But even that hasn’t tarnished his reputation as a serious scientist. The phenomenon Vallee studies subliminally is rife with baggage that doesn’t allow it to be taken seriously by anyone, other than him.

The sasquatch (bigfoot) appearances are also avoided by primate specialists. The sightings (and alleged evidence: footprints, hair, and feces) are without substance.

Even the (in)famous Patterson film has become too controversial, with accusations of fraud or hoaxing, for any primatologist to weigh in on.

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And Loch Ness, which already has a plethora of admitted hoax sightings and photos, can’t be researched by marine biologists, unless they desire a short-circuited career.

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But a raft of true mental defectives can best be found in the vast, and it is vast, UFO community.

A perusal of UFO books, web-sites, blogs, and other flying saucer venues (such as the Roswell “museum” in Roswell, New Mexico) will convince anyone with a smidgen of psychological acumen that the phenomenon has been encrusted by a patina of psychopathology.

Scientists with any academic respectability are wise to avoid getting down and dirty with the UFO crowd. By sinking to the mire of “ufology” – the made-up term to imbue UFOs with a false credibility – a scientist would ruin (not could ruin but would ruin) their professional lives inexorably and definitively, as was the case with Dr. James McDonald and Harvard professor John Mack (both deceased) who were castigated unmercifully by their peers.

This doesn’t mean that UFOs, Bigfoot, and Nessie are without curious elements.

It just means that they, as phenomena worthy of study, have been tainted by the maniacs who’ve glommed on to them for various reasons, which are suspect, nefarious, or psychotically induced.

So science is wise to stay away. Why would anyone with personal integrity get involved with the fringe? It just doesn’t make sense….