Sunday, January 30, 2011

Douglas R Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas...


A favorite author of ours is Douglas Hofstadter, whose Godel, Escher, Bach and Metamagical Themas (a compilation of his Scientific American columns from the 1980s).


While Mr. Hofstadter is moderate and limited about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – he thinks it is misinterpreted by almost everyone – and that the principle doesn’t state that an observer interferes with the observed but “rather hat a very fine grain size, the wave duality of the measuring tool becomes relevant.” [Page 464, MT].

Heisenberg’s principle may be extrapolated to include such things as how the measurement (the observation) of individuals or UFOs is affected by the observation of either.

For instance, if a group of people, at a party are intruded upon by a person with a camera, the group will alter their behavior, to accommodate the picture or video being taken, since it will record a moment by which the group and individuals will be remembered for posterity.


And there is anecdotal information that UFOs often seem to be affected by an observer, with a camera, radar, or just a visual encounter.

The measurement (observation) of things alter those things in various ways, some subtle, some not so subtle.


Mr. Hofstadter, in writing about electromagnetic waves, points out that “as a black body heats up, it begins to glow: first dull red, then bright red, then orange, eventually white, and then, surprisingly enough, bluish!” [Page 458 MT].


Isn’t that what UFO observers often report?


Mr. Hofstadter makes it a major point to support the cautions of physicists who tell laypersons that quantum microcosm can’t be extended to explain the macrocosmic events.

We think that is an error in judgment and theoretical hypothesizing, and have addressed the issue here at this blog and the RRRGroup blog, early on.

Applying quantum thinking to the UFO phenomenon provides an interesting patina to the UFO mystery, almost explaining some behavior and sightings.

Bruce Duensing deals with such things, rather more brilliantly than we, at his blog, Intangible Materiality, which can be accessed by clicking here:

Intangible Materiality

Also, Mr. Hofstadter is not inimical to mathematics as the lingua franca of science, which we think is detrimental to human thought, and a contrivance that is unreal, a concoction that gives scientists a mantle of authority that it doesn’t really deserve.

Math is bogus, and used by science to make hypothetical thinking obscure to laypersons and to create a priest-like order for science that co-opts religion, philosophy, and thought in general.

So, while it seems that we think that Mr. Hofstadter is off the mark on the items listed above, why do we find him so fascinating, and intelligent?

That goes to his views about how we think or should and is addressed in his Metamagical Themas chapters, World Views in Collision (which deals with the Skeptical Inquirer – he likes it) and On Number Numbness (about how people don’t comprehend the reality of numbers that affect their lives).

And in Section VII, Sanity and Survival, Hofstadter tackles irrationality itself, which is rampant in the UFO community and “ufology” particularly.

We don’t expect visitors to this blog to read or understand the bulk of Metamagical Themas, but we’d hope they might give it a try.

Moreover, since most of the UFO crowd are hobbyists, who work on the UFO mystery when it is convenient and not during their weekend down-time, we are not holding our collective breaths for any to try and enlighten themselves beyond their myopic attention to the UFO phenomenon, Bruce Duensing as the stand-out exception.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures of an Earthling

Noted documentary filmmaker Mishara Canino-Hussung and her equally noted filmmaker husband Bill Hussung have produced “Adventures of an Earthling” – an investigation and film about some strange sightings that occurred in the Hudson Valley area by residents there in the early 1990s, one of whom is Bill Hussing’s mother.

Skeptical Bill Hussung, while wary of the encounters delineated by his mother and others, including a sighting of a giant space ship, does what any respectful son would do: treat the stories as authentic. After all, why would his mother, a smart, successful woman in her own right, make up such a story. And, he asks, why would she seem so terrified when she recounted the sighting(s)?

To read more about this intriguing tale and other UFO encounters and to get a DVD of Ms. Canino-Hussung’s quite wonderful “documentary,” visit the Boom Potato Films web-site:

From what we’ve seen, the encounters that Bill Hussung’s mother recounts can’t be dismissed out of hand. We’ll be checking further into the sightings.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Roswell: The Great Pan is dead!


In Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend [Gambit Inc., Boston, 1969], the authors, in Chapter XXI (Page 275 ff.), recount the famous tale from Plutarch about how, on board a ship with many passengers, sailing near the Echinades Islands, Epitherses (son of Aemilianus) tells that Thamus, the Egyptian pilot, heard a voice, while near the island of Paxi, calling his name.

Thamus, at first did not reply, but after a third time he responded to the voice, which said, “When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.”

Thamus, Epittherses, and the passengers were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether to carry out the order or not.

Thamus, however, while approaching Palodes said the words, “Great Pan is dead.”

A great cry of woe, by many on the land, went up, and eventually spread to Rome, where Tiberius Caesar called for an investigation as to the truth of the profound rumor.

Plutarch, himself, did not accept the acclimation and suggested that the shouts from Paxi were misunderstood by Thamus and the story became embroidered by the masses, encouraged by the fact that Tiberius had called for an official investigation, apparently giving some credence to the tale.

The authors write this, “One is still allowed to wonder why such a fuss was made at the time about [the] exclamations…and why…that most learned of mythologists, the Emperor Tiberius himself, thought the matter worth following up.” [Page 276]

The significance of the tale is many. Firstly Pan was considered a major God, and equatable, in some quarters, with Jesus who was crucified during the reign of Tiberius.

Secondly, the tale strikes at the heart of the prevailing belief system of the time, Paganism.

Thirdly, the tale continues to be remunerated upon to this day (by scholars and mythologists, mostly).

And finally, Great Pan is dead was retold in many configurations over the years, such as it was Tammuz-Adonis, the grain god who died, the yoke-bearer, Giki-Gaki is dead on the Hurgergorn, and the Fanggen, a kind of “Little People” (or giants!?) disappeared in the Tyrol.

How does this tale relate to Roswell?

The Chapter (and book, in toto) elaborates on how history and events are muddled by belief systems, what people wish to hear, and Chapter IV (History, Myth and Reality) examples instances where events are confabulated or twisted, often inadvertently, by a jumping to conclusions inspired by entrenched beliefs and/or stories heard, many times, over the years.

Hamlet’s Mill treats great myths and tales that affect or have affected humanity in significant ways, over the millennia.

Roswell is not significant, nor worthy of a Myth status, Gilles Fernandez notwithstanding, but it has developed the status of mythos, in the sociological sense.

(Mythos -- the complex of beliefs, values, attitudes, etc, characteristic of a specific group or society)

What was decried by Thamus may be seen as similar to what was decried at Roswell: The Army Air Force has captured a Flying Saucer.


The “heard refrain” at Roswell has been elaborated upon and added to, much like that which happened when “The Great Pan is dead” was taken as a profound truth by those hearing about the announcement and taking it to varying interpretations, far and wide, subjecting it to the vicissitudes of many locales and peoples.

The original story – the original announcement – has been taken apart by “researchers” and recast by those same “researchers” into many guises, all adumbrated to enhance whatever belief system held in the mind of a particular “researcher” – some preferring the extraterrestrial cast, some preferring a secret military cast, and others eschewing any cast at all, debunking the tale, altogether, as Euhemeros, the first debunker, did with myth.


Roswell is a story, with a core truth at its center. What that core truth may be has been lost to time, and the ineptitude of those who gathered the remnants of the original tale twwnty years after the “event” allegedly took place.

Can the story be cleansed of the accretions? Not easily, if at all.

The Roswell tale has been concretized into a myth (or, better, mythos) as CDA and Gilles Fernandez continue to decry.

It can’t be scrubbed clean, that’s a certainty, which Nick Redfern and this writer (among others) think is the case.

But others, David Rudiak, Stanton Friedman, Kevin Randle, et al., will continue to promote the mythology, because, for them, mythos is more important than truth.