Thursday, 18 October 2007

UFOs and Science

People who have had long, distinguished careers in a subject, who have contributed through books and even been a part of the history, should command the respect of others. That Dick Hall doesn’t do that for me is either a testimony to my mean mindedness or a tribute to his ability in pissing people off. Dick requires patience and “understanding” to deal with, and I can’t be bothered.

A major area of antagonism is his complete lack of good grace or manners towards others. Fresh from snarling at all and everyone, he has recently posted this message to the UFO UpDates message board. It’s about science and UFOlogy. In between regularly insulting the entire List about its complete lack of any scientific bearing or approach, it would seem that it is only him, a non scientist, who truly applies the scientific method in analysing UFOs.

Following up on recent posts about how science could and should study UFOs, here is what I outlined in The UFO Evidence, Vol. II (2000).

I thought I had it on a floppy disc, but if so I couldn't find it. In the original I argued the case more fully, so this is a bare-bones outline.

From The UFO Evidence, Vol. II (Scarecrow Press, 200), pp. 645-647,I reported the "Elements of a Scientific Study." Condensed here they are:

I. Adequate funding for scientific personnel and administrative staff infrastructure.

II. Systematic gathering of both historical and current information at one or more collection points.

III. Quick reaction teams equipped with instruments to conduct timely field investigations.

IV. Re-establishment or establishment of new reporting networks similar to successful ones of the past.

V. Cataloging, documenting, and data analysis of evidential types of UFO reports:

a. E-M effects
b. Radar
c. Physiological/medical effects
d Landing traces
e. Animal reactions
f. Photographic evidence
g. Computerized pattern and correlation analysis

VI. Publication and peer review of data, analysis, and findings.

VII. Testing of the hypothesis that some UFOs represent an as yet unexplained, potentially significant phenomenon of worldwide scope, giving both the appearance and some instrumented evidence of being solid, structured objects (i.e., craft).

No, there’s nothing wrong with what he’s written, just in case you were wondering, and they are all very admirable sentiments. The only difficulty is that none of it is based in the land of reality. In fact, it is so far removed from the real world it almost makes me cry.

What scientifically based institution is going to undertake this sort of programme? None, for the simple reason, and I’m not being cynical here, that there’s no money in it. If he can coral Dan Akroyd or some other starry eyed celebrity with more cash than sense to divvy up then he might be in luck, but I doubt it.

Of course Dick gives the whole game away with his last paragraph. What he is saying is this: I believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft and I want science to focus all its resources into proving my pet theory. Sure Dick; here’s a few million dollars to indulge yourself with, you moron.

One of the small problems he faces is that there is precious little evidence on which to base a serious scientific study in the first place. Of course Dick would probably burst a blood vessel in his rush to disagree. He would wave his bundles of witness statements and photographs and all manner of other material but it’s all irrelevant because it begs one question; if there was any substance to any of it, someone would have jumped in before. Lots and lots of companies would want to know how a UFO flies and how it’s built.

Why do I always have to bring everything back to money? Because that’s the way America works.

Try as he might, he refuses to grasp what is obvious to most. There is a phenomenon but it’s probably in the plural and no one has a clue as to source. There’s simply no starting point. But Dick wants to throw money at it.

Oh, you can measure light refraction or cloud levels or where the nearest airport is or take an EM reading or even note when the dog last farted. But when you’ve done all that, then what? It’s anomalous! That helps a lot.

Worse, it could just be that his most favourite person in the whole wide world, Jacques Vallee, might even be right or at least going in the right direction. That would mean no Little Green Men for Dicky.

He just can’t let go of the ETH but wants it all nice and cuddly and respectable. He wants to be able to walk tall and feel that he has the weight of respected society and its institutions behind him instead of constantly ducking as yet another journalist labels those who study UFOs as nutters. He is trapped in a tunnel vision hell-hole without the intellectual capability or courage to cast his eye further a field which, by my reckoning, doesn’t make him very bright. It’s the ETH or nothing for him and he wants Society to bale him out. It is never going to happen.

We all want the ETH Dick. It's just some of us have grown up.

The great irony is, science not only takes an interest in, but is actually leading the march towards the discovery of extraterrestrial life. And it will unquestionably find it. But Dick isn’t interested in whether there’s extraterrestrial life; he’s interested in UFOs.

As I said, it’s enough to make me cry.


RRRGroup said...

Bravo, Stuart...

As usual you hit the nail(s) on the head.

No, you are not mean-minded, just objective and right-on-the-button (to use another apt cliche).


Stuart said...

Thank you Rich, as can the same be said for you.