Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maxtrix UFOs? A UFO Stasis? Or something else?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

The idea that UFOs are the products of an über-reality, not unlike that imagined in the Martrix franchise, cannot be dismissed out-of-hand, as far as some of us are concerned.

The idea of a separate, unique real reality, promulgated by Plato in his Cave analogy and others (philosophers, science fiction writers, physicists, film-makers, et cetera), becomes a viable thesis by virtue of its being thought by us, by humans.
You can pursue the concept yourselves by Googling transcendentalism and philosophical adjuncts, but most of you understand the idea and the Matrix films provide an easy introduction.

That we are being manipulated by a master game-player, that some of us think is God, is not hard to swallow, and allows for UFOs to be part of that game….the Game of God we’ve called it.

But if that is a bit too weird for the pragmatists among you, let me broach the UFO problem with this.

UFOs have been around, provably, since the dawn of thinking man.

The Aubeck/Vallee book, Wonders in the Sky, provides a litany of credible accounts that show the ubiquity of UFOs throughout history.
But the question to ask is why haven’t UFOs evolved in that long time period? (We’ve addressed this issue in an earlier post here.)

Pure UFOs remain pretty much as they have been witnessed over the millennia, despite the attempts to show them changing with the times, as the air-ship aficionados insist, writing that the air-ship (dirigible-like UFOs) were forerunners to the more stylized craft of the late 40s and 50s, right up to the present day.
But early UFO sightings and depictions of them are not different than today’s sightings and depictions, which means, as we see it, that UFOs are a static phenomenon, or many within the UFO genera are static.

That is, UFOs are an archetypal phenomenon – some of them anyway, maybe most of them.

The odd-UFOs are elements one can ascribe to mental aberrations (hysteria/hallucinations) or totally separate phenomena with attributes that mimic (not purposefully!) UFOs.

Jose Caravaca’s “Distortion Theory – delineated at his blog with us (http://caravaca-files.blogspot.com) -- could be put in to the Maxtrix “explanation” as his external agent as the causa essentia is not different than the machine/God of the Maxtrix hypothesis.
Then we have the multiple universe concept where UFOs are insertions from another parallel universe or adjacent, unseen world that sometime intersects with our universe, our reality.
What doesn’t make this idea valid for me is the appearance of machines or craft as part of such hypothetical intrusions.

Why would machines need to traverse the division between us and the others? Why not just step through or come into this reality as one might go from a car or plane into another geographical venue? The craft seems superfluous.

But does the machinery (the UFO artifact) act as a protective device, more than a transporting device?
As for alien visitors from galaxies far, far away, we’ve always eschewed the idea.

For some, the Earth is a Garden of Eden, a wondrous, one-of-a-kind planet which attracts aliens from other worlds because of its beauty, its flora and fauna, its minerals, or its water.
But there are so many other more ravishing places in the known universe that to think Earth is a primary stop for interstellar travelers is the quintessential ego-oriented view projected outward to life-forms who surely have seen better.
The continuing problem when it comes to UFOs is that the sightings have been lumped into a generic category: UFOs. Whereas the things represent phenomena, as we keep writing.

There is not one UFO species, but many, some real some not.

Since ufologists are generalists, no science has developed to cope with the many forms or species that make up the whole UFO panoply.

And does it matter, really?

UFOs are like insects or butterflies – many kinds with many different attributes but ultimately not important to humanity or one’s personal existence
RR

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Skeptics or Debunkers

Philip Klass and Donald Menzel did more to cause the science/media/public dismissal of flying saucers and UFOs than any other persons or groups extant during the voluminous era of the phenomena.

And they did it with a patina of rectitude that is not only unjustified but hellishly erroneous.

They were debunkers, not skeptics, and they had an agenda that was based in purposeful or aberrant denial.

Menzel in his books -- UFOs: Flying Saucers-Myth-Truth-History (1953), The World of Flying Saucers (1963, co-authored with Lyle G Boyd), and The UFO Enigma (1977, co-authored with Ernest H. Taves -- went to excruciating lengths to fit UFO sightings into a framework of astronomical and meteorological explanations that stretched credulity and Ockham’s Razor to the breaking point.


 Fixing a temperature inversion and the planet Venus as a confluent for sightings was a typical ploy. Wikipedia provides this about Menzel:


“All of Menzel's UFO books argued that UFOs are nothing more than misidentification of prosaic phenomena such as stars, clouds and airplanes; or the result of people seeing unusual atmospheric phenomena they were unfamiliar with. He often suggested that atmospheric hazes or temperature inversions could distort stars or planets, and make them appear to be larger than in reality, unusual in their shape, and in motion. In 1968, Menzel testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics - Symposium on UFOs, stating that he considered all UFO sightings to have natural explanations.
He was perhaps the first prominent scientist to offer his opinion on the matter, and his stature doubtless influenced the mainstream and academic response to the subject. Perhaps Menzel's earliest public involvement in UFO matters was his appearance on a radio documentary directed and narrated by Edward R. Murrow in mid-1950.
Menzel had his own UFO experience when he observed a 'flying saucer' while returning on 3 March 1955 from the North Pole on the daily Air Force Weather "Ptarmigan" flight. His account is in both Menzel & Boyd and Menzel & Taves. He later identified it as a mirage of Sirius.”
Klass was a brilliant, hard-working debunker. His knotty analyses of UFO events and sightings are almost legendary, but invariably wrong, because they are tainted by his inherent bias against UFOs as a viable phenomenon.
In the book, pictured above, Science and the Paranormal [Edited by George O. Abell and Barry Singer, Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY, 1983, Chapter 18, Page 310 ff.], Klass deconstructs the noteworthy Coyne helicopter confrontation with a UFO in October 1973 near Mansfield, Ohio.
Klass presents a detailed account of the Coyne encounter and its aftermath. The minutiae included in his “analysis” of the encounter provides a seeming overlay of forensic debate but when Klass’s approach is scrutinized, one realizes that his devaluation of the Coyne crew’s report rests on a usual Klass barb that Coyne and his crew misremembered what they did when they saw a UFO coming toward their helicopter.
Klass writes that they misperceived an Orionids fireball (or meteor) and miscalculated the timings of various aspects of the event: the fireball’s fly-by, the seconds during which the collective control was pressed to keep the helicopter from, firstly, hitting the ground and, secondly, from accelerating back into the sky.
The magnetic compass’s erratic behavior was an afterthought of Captain Coyne, inserted several years after the initial event and report(s) Klass suggests.
The inability to communicate with local air terminal towers was ascribed to the distances that intervened between them and the Bell helicopter Klass tried to document.
And the green glow the crew witnessed as the UFO allegedly flew over their helicopter came from the tinted glass at the fringe of the cockpit. The red glow of the UFO was that of the surmised fireball.
(J. Allen Hynek, an eminent astronomer himself said that the Orionid display didn’t produce fireballs.)
With a recent case of a pilot, waking from an in-seat nap, mistaking the planet Venus for an approaching airplane, putting his 747 into a dive that injured several passengers and attendants, one can accept the possibility that Captain Coyne and his crew were flummoxed by a stray Orionid meteor, except that Hynek said fireballs do not occur during the Orionid display.
Moreover, the crew’s actions indicated that the helicopter was influenced in some way by the approaching UFO, and the mistakes attributed to them by Klass as errant behavior is possible certainly but hard to accept as the mistakes that Klass piles up are too many and too egregious for a trained helicopter crew.
It’s far easier to accept that Coyne and his men actually had a near collision with a UFO – an Unidentified Flying Object (or thing).
Klass, like Menzel, presents a set of possibilities, all acceptable at a superficial level, but when weighed in the balance, require too many machinations to be reasonably feasible.
No, Klass and Menzel were not skeptics; they were debunkers….and not very skilled debunkers either, as their “explanations” always teetered on the edge of charlatanry; they were UFO atheists or something worse.
RR

Monday, April 09, 2012

Albert Camus, UFOs, and UFO Buffs

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.


The April 9th 2012 New Yorker has an article, Facing History: Why We Love Camus by Adam Gopnik [Page 70 ff.] from which I’ve culled these excerpts that can be applied to ufologists and those who debate about UFOs…

Writer Gopnik begins his piece with a laudatory take on French philosopher/writer Albert Camus’ good looks and writes this:

Looks matter to the mind…The ugly man who thinks hard…is using his mind to make up for his face. [Page 70]

You can name the prominent ufologists to whom that epithetical observation applies.

Gopnik, comparing the great Jean Paul Sartre with Camus – who were friends before a falling out – tells us that:

Camus was not only a better writer but a more interesting systematic thinker than Sartre. [ibid]

Referring to the mythical Sisyphus who, as you know, was doomed to rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back to the bottom so that Sisyphus was never able to achieve any finality to his chore – which may be likened to those who pursue the Roswell incident or UFOs generally – Gopnik quotes Camus’ “most emphatic aphorism”:

One must imagine Sisyphus happy. [Page 72]

And about Editorial writers, which many UFO mavens are, Gopnik writes:

Editorial writers can seem the most insipid and helpless of the scribbling class.

Good editorial writing has less to do with winning an argument, since the other side is mostly not listening, than with telling the guys on your side how they ought to sound when they are arguing.

Not “Say this!” but “Sound this way!” is what great editorialists teach. [ibid]

Using Sartre’s mantras about history, one can apply Sartre’s words to a proper ufological position:

Sartre said that you couldn’t know how history [UFOs] would work out, but you could act as if you did.

Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realizes himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is. [Page 73]

Quoting from Camus’ The Rebel (L’Homme Révolté):

It is those who know how to rebel, at the appropriate moment against history [UFO orthodoxy] who really advance its interests. [Page 74]

It is in the nature of intellectual life – and part of its value – to gravitate toward the extreme alternative position.

We want big minds to voice extreme ideas, since our smaller minds already voice the saner ones. [ibid]

And Gopnik reminds us that “Harvard and Yale pay some of their professors to tell…students that everything they believe is a bourgeois illusion.” [Page 74] -- which is a view recently promulgated by ZoamChomsky in comments here and errantly ballyhooed by our skeptical friends Lance Moody and Gilles Fernandez.

Debating the existence of UFOs or the reality of an alleged flying disk crash near Roswell has to be categorically intellectual in the absolute sense of the word intellectual.

Unfortunately, discussion of UFOs, Roswell, Kenneth Arnold and all the myriad other UFO sightings and reports has descended into intellectual anarchy, with a patina of religious fervor.

This is why some former UFO stalwarts have dropped out of the UFO scene: the debate has become too ratty for them.

And if we continue to see nutty views here that are contrary just to be contrary with no meaningful essence, we’ll have to consider taking some of our more sensible visitors – CDA, Kandinsky, Dominick, et al. -- to our academically [sic] tinged blogs and web-sites,

RR