Ä Area: I_UFO ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ Msg#: 8146 Date: 03-18-96 01:06 From: Midian Read: Yes Replied: No To: All Mark: Subj: Why Scientists Don't Have ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ From: "midian"
Originally to: email@example.com Original Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 15:39:38 +1100 (EST) Dear Everyone Have an article. Kind regards David K. Minehan ************************************************************************* "I don't know what the reasons are that men find fascinating about being with two women at the same time but I agree with both of them." ************************************************************************* WHY SCIENTISTS DON'T HAVE THE ANSWERS By Richard Hall If studying UFO reports is not the way to gain scientific understanding of UFO phenomena--what is? The answer suggested by a distinguished panel of the National Academy of Sciences is reviewing the University of Colorado report (ref 9) is that "UFOs" really are little-understood natural phenomena; therefore, the answers will be found as we study atmospheric phenomena. This attitude or answer perpetuates the myth that has persisted in scientific circles for over a quarter of a century--that there is no collection of truly puzzling cases constituting a UFO mystery. Atmospheric phenomena have no domes, portholes, legs, or other structural characteristics. They do not display silvery, metallic-appearing surfaces, and neither do they pace and circle cars and aircraft, nor land and debark humanoid beings. Clearly, scientists who attribute UFO reports to meteorological causes are totally unfamiliar with the serious, world-wide, hard-core UFO reports. Their ignorance is understandable: they never have felt it necessary to study UFO reports in order to pass judgement on the public's "naive" view that we might have visitors from space. In the 28 years since Kenneth Arnold reported objects flying like saucers over Washington State, seven small groups of scientists (usually on a part- time consulting basis) have participated in official reviews on the UFO subject. The most ambitious and long-lasting review was the University of Colorado Project (1966-1969). Each time, military and political considerations strongly influenced the course of the reviews, and physical scientists ended up giving public relations advice rather than applying science to UFO cases. Allusions to "public gullibility" crop up repeatedly in the supposedly scientific appraisals, revealing a head-patting paternalism based on the assumption that UFOs are a popular myth. In order to find meaningful answers about UFOs you must ask the right questions. From the beginning, UFOs were treated as a military intelligence problem. The questions posed by Air Force Projects "Sign" and "Grudge" (1948-1951) were: Do they represent a sudden foreign technological breakthrough Are they a threat to national security The degree to which these questions dominated all thinking on the subject well into the 1960's is plainly written in Air Force press releases and letters. The effect on scientific investigation of UFOs is equally plain: Once it is determined that a UFO represents no threat to national security, says a published Air Force letter (17 August 1961), "...an understandably lower priority is placed on the further evaluation of the sighting." At first the Air Force believed that UFOs were "something real;" this expression was used in a letter dated 23 September 1947, reflecting fear of a possible foreign technological breakthrough, that lead to establishment of Project "Sign." (Condon Report, p. 894). The project got underway on 22 January 1948. A year later it issued a SECRET report, "Unidentified Aerial Objects: Project 'Sign,'" concluding that, "No definite evidence is yet available to confirm or disprove the actual existence of unidentified flying objects as new and unknown types of aircraft." Project "Sign" examined 243 domestic and 30 foreign cases, categorizing them as (1) Flying Discs, (2) Torpedo or cigarshaped, (3) Spherical, and (4) Balls of light. About 20 percent were considered explainable, with about another 20 percent potentially explainable. A year's study had led to the conclusion that the possibility of a foreign breakthrough was "extremely remote," and since UFOs were not attacking or bombing America they seemed to pose no threat. The idea that they might be extraterrestrial, based on accepting their performance at face value, occurred to investigators quite early in the game. But scientists were skeptical and there were no "hard data." The "Sign" report recommended that the project be continued on the "minimum level necessary" to complete the evaluation. Once enough reports were explained to indicate that there was no threat to national security, it was suggested, then the special project status would be terminated and future reports handled as routine intelligence work. The introduction to the "Sign" report characterizes it as a summary of the present state of the investigation for those "who are required to assess the possibility of a threat to national security presented by the sighting of such large numbers of unidentified flying objects." This assessment, of course, would be the business of the national military establishment; scientific research would not. Project "Sign" consulted three outside scientists: Dr. James Lipp, Rand Corporation (who speculated about the possibility of extraterrestrial visits, concluding it was "very improbable"); Dr. Irving Langmuir, General Electric Company (whose contribution is not specified); and Dr. George E. Valley, MIT (who submitted an elaborate survey of possibilities for accounting for UFO reports). An understanding of Project "Sign" is important because it became the prototype for all later studies. In terms of logic and scientific method it confused military-intelligence considerations and social-political questions with scientific questions. (Three scientists offering opinions as an adjunct to a military-intelligence review cannot be termed a "scientific" study). The strange ambivalence in the "Sign" report was to be reflected in all subsequent studies: Is there any real mystery at all? Should we consider seriously that we are experiencing extraterrestrial visits? In hindsight it is not difficult to understand why later military investigations tended to suggest social-psychological origins for UFO reports. If the phenomena were "real," there performance indicated spaceships; and if they were not "real," then people must be misinterpreting or imagining things--even Air Force pilots. Since scientists said they couldn't be spaceships and they weren't foreign, where could military intelligence go from there? Their own questions had been answered. Three vital questions that have always been tangled together in military/ scientific studies of UFO reports: (1) Is there a mystery? Are there documented and well-investigated reports establishing the existence of an unconventional or extraordinary phenomenon in the Earth's atmosphere? (2) Assuming that a mystery is established and in need of an explanation, what reasonable hypotheses can we advance to account for the mystery, and how can we test them? (3) Among the hypotheses, are UFOs extraterrestrials (not COULD they be)? Logic requires that each of these questions be analyzed in turn. To do so would require methods and techniques--and especially an attitude of mind-- somewhat different from those applied in the past. So far all studies have taken randomly-acquired data and focused on establishing what--from this sample--UFOs are NOT (or, according to a recurring theme, "could not be") by sitting in judgement about what the fragmentary evidence "proves." Given the premise of most scientists that extraterrestrial visits to Earth are "unlikely," the evidence has been found wanting. This premise is dubious at best, since there is no meaningful way to evaluate it without making whole chains of assumptions. Never has an attempt been made to get good data through instrumentation, or even to evaluate existing evidence carefully to see whether SOMETHING extraordinary is indicated. They Can't Get Here From There The "scientific" position, consistently, has been that "spaceships are nonsense." When the Air Force or civilian groups have persuaded scientists to look at the data, they always have always been evaluated within a framework of scientific disbelief about spaceships. It is one question whether that disbelief is justified; it is another question whether it is justified to throw the "baby: out with the spaceships. The scientific disbelief can be summed up as "They can't get here from there." This notion has influenced studies of UFO reports out of all proportion to its basis on imperical fact. Considering our very imperfect knowledge of the universe, it is a speculative and presumptuous premise. Who is to say that extraterrestrials (if they exist) must conform to our level of science and must behave according to our preconceived ideas? Yet, that is the advice consistently given to the Air Force by scientists for over 25 years. Its main effect has been to prevent objective, scientific study of UFO reports regardless of what they may be describing. In the Project "Sign" report, Dr. Lipp stated: "...there is no basis on which to judge the possibility that civilizations far in advance of ours exist outside the Earth." Despite that lack of basis, he concluded that visits from outer space are "extremely improbable" and the behaviour of UFOs "inconsistent with the requirements for space travel." Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, chief of Air Force Project "Blue Book" in the early 1950's, said that the reports generated by Projects "Sign" and "Grudge" led to the "Dark Ages" of UFO investigation. The Air Force, he said, began glibly explaining away all UFO sightings on the premise that they had to be mistaken sightings. There was no substantive investigation, either intelligence-gathering or scientific. The "Grudge" report of 27 December 1949 explained away all reports to date as delusions, hysteria, hoaxes, and crackpot reports. It was falsely announced that the project was being disbanded. Despite the prevailing negative view, continued sightings and pressure by influential people brought about a revitalized project in the fall of 1951, with Ruppelt as the new chief. Early in 1952 the project name was changed to "Blue Book". A major wave of UFO sightings began a few months later. It peaked during the summer, and involved numerous radar-visual sightings with jet interceptors "scrambled" in pursuit. High ranking Air Force Generals, Ruppelt said, were convinced UFOs were spaceships. In November 1952 a panel of four scientists (unidentified) was convened at Air Technical Intelligence Center, Dayton, Ohio, to review the reports. They recommended convening a panel of top scientists. (Ruppelt, p. 264). Under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency, a panel of five highly regarded scientists, chaired by Dr. H.P. Robertson of the California Institute of Technology, met on January 14-18, 1953, to examine data supplied by the Air Force. The other scientists were Dr. Thornton Page, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Samuel A. Goudsmit, Brookhaven National Laboratories, Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, Associated Universities, Inc.; and Dr. Luis W. Alvarez, University of California. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was present as Air Force scientific consultant on UFOs, has written: "It would seem that the panel's attention was directed largely to a defense and security problem rather than to a scientific one." (Hynek, p. 168). The majority of unexplained cases in Air Force files, he says, were not even discussed. The formerly SECRET report of the meetings cites only eight specific cases as being discussed "in detail," plus about 15 others "in less detail." The scientists suggested that "public pressure' had led the Air Force to show undue concern. As a consequence of establishing UFO reporting channels to the Air Force, "The result is the mas receipt of low-grade reports which tend to overload channels of communication with material quite irrelevant to hostile objects that might some day appear." Since the military attention to UFOs implied a military threat, "The need for de-emphasization made itself apparent." Besides, they can't get here from there. "Dr. Page noted that present astronomical knowledge of the solar system makes the existence of intelligent beings (as we know the term) elsewhere than on the Earth extremely unlikely...." There is little evidence of the Robertson panel applying scientific method to UFO cases and objectively evaluating the situation. There is lots of internal evidence that they took UFOs to be merely a question of public relations and public education. Though there were no psychologists or other social scientists on the panel, the report concentrates on social-psychological questions: information transmission problems, mass hysteria, public gullibility and suggestibility to "possible enemy psychological warfare," and implied public fear of hostility. To set up instruments to study UFOs is frowned upon because it would over-emphasize UFO stories "in the public mind." The panel of physical scientists clearly was convinced that UFOs were a social-psychological aberration of some kind. This has been termed scientific "buck-passing' by Dr. Robert L. Hall, a social psychologist: "I, speaking as a behavioural scientist, say that there must be a real physical phenomenon. So we pass the buck back and forth without forming any adequate explanation, either physical or behavioural." (UFOs--A Scientific Debate, p. 221). The Robertson panel saw continued emphasis on reporting of UFOs as "a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic," especially by "clogging of channels of communication of irrelevant reports... and the cultivation of a morbid national psychology...." It made two recommendations: (1) strip UFOs of the "special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired;" (2) conduct a training and public education program to "debunk" UFOs, an action that would result in reduction of public interest in 'flying saucers' which today evokes a string psychological reaction." The program would "reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomena." Thus in 1953 the questions were: Are UFOs a threat to national security? (Answer: No. But UFO reports are a threat--to communication channels!.) Are UFOs potentially hostile foreign devices? (Answer: No.) The E-T (extraterrestrial) hypothesis is discussed only in passing and the question is finessed in the conclusions. A number of scientists have observed that the Robertson panel report struck the death knell for scientific interest in UFOs, primarily because of the reputations of the participants. Afterwards, the Air Force apparently made an internal effort to gather more data: Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued 26 August 1953, spelled out procedures for processing and analyzing UFO reports; diffraction-grating cameras set up to analyze UFO-emitted light were announced in December 1953; an agreement with commercial airlines to report sightings quickly was worked out, reported by Scripps-Howard newspapers on 23 February 1954. New Dark Ages Also, during 1953 the Battelle Memorial Institute was contracted to do a statistical study of the accumulated UFO reports through 1952. This culminated in Project "Blue Book" Special Reports No. 14, dated 5 May 1955 and publicly released on 25 October 1955. The first paragraph of its summary reiterates the finding of no threat to national security. The report claimed that no pattern could be found to UFO sightings; yet of the twelve illustrations of cases studied in trying to derive a model, eight were disc-like or elliptical. The accompanying press release claimed that "refined methods and procedures" had brought the current rate of unexplained cases down to 3 percent, and that "no evidence" of UFOs had been found. It strongly implied that novel aircraft--particularly the AVRO "saucer"--might be causing some of the sightings. (The AVRO "saucer" was a total failure and never flew). All the signs of a new Dark Ages were evident. Once can only speculate on the thinking within the Air Force that led to this write-off of UFOs. For two years afterwards UFOs all but faded from the news. The November 1957 sighting wave then re-opened the controversy. By then, the public manifestation of the Air Force UFO project clearly was a debunking program. Citizens' requests for information were answered by generalized "fact sheets" citing the 1955 report and emphasizing the allegedly small percentage of unexplained cases. "Percentage" was used as a substitute for specific facts. This posture persisted until the sighting waves of the mid-1960's created a public outcry that led, in April 1966, to brief hearings by the House of Armed Services Committee. The hearings, in turn, led to the University of Colorado UFO Project. The UFOs had defied the percentages. Behind the scenes a review of the situation had been requested in a memorandum dated 28 September 1965 by Maj. Gen. E.B. LeBailly, Office of Information, Secretary of the Air Force. The timing suggests that it was the summer of 1965 international sighting wave, with a U.S. concentration in the Southwest, that forced a new look at UFOs. Gen. LeBailly noted that "...many of the reports that cannot be explained have come from intelligent and technically well-qualified individuals whose integrity cannot be doubted." In response, an ad hoc committee of the USAF Scientific Advisory Board met on 3 February 1966to review "the resources, methods and findings of Air Force Project Blue Book...," then under heavy fire, and to advise on how to improve the program. For once a good question was asked: "Is Project Blue Book scientifically adequate?" This could be answered unequivocally: no. The ad hoc committee consisted of Dr. Brian O'Brien, chairman; Dr. Luanor F. Carter, System Development Corp.; Dr. Jesse Orlansky, Institute for Defense Analysis; Dr. Richard Porter, General Electric Co.; Dr. Carl Sagan, Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory; and Dr. Willis H. Ware, Rand Corp. They quickly concluded that "Blue Book" was understaffed for the job, and that to scientifically study UFOs would require more detailed investigation of specific cases with the help of scientists. Although they were not asked to pass judgment on UFOs, the scientists added a gratuitous evaluation. The meeting report included a skeptical "discussion" in which the panelists indicate their belief that most UFO sightings could be explained in adequate data were available for analysis. In effect, the report characterizes UFOs as an Air Force public relations problem, "...a subject on which the committee is not expert." But the mandate was to advise on how to improve Project "Blue Book," sp with this prologue the scientists dutifully recommended that contracts be negotiated with universities to provide scientific teams for investigating selected UFO sightings "promptly and in depth." The Congressional "hearings" served as a forum for the Secretary of the Air Force to accept the recommendations and to announce that one or more contracts would be negotiated with universities to conduct an independent study of UFO sightings. The Colorado Project It is now known that the university scientists were so skeptical about UFOs that the Air Force Office of Scientific Research had great difficulty in finding someone to accept a contract. The University of Colorado vice president involved in the contract indicated, in the Condon Report, that he viewed it as performance of a public service. In familiar-sounding language, he painted UFOs as a social-political issue, "elusive," arousing "the imagination and emotions of some persons," the subject having gained "considerable notoriety over the years," the task at hand an "obligation to the country to do what (we can) to clarify a tangled and confused issue." When the university reluctantly accepted the job, the project was quickly compromised by Dr. E.U. Condon, the nominal director, who made repeated and public statements joking about the subject and by Robert Low, project coordinate and de facto director, whose well-publicized memo pictured a scenario in which the project would only pretend to study UFO reports seriously. In fact, most of the project scientists took their work seriously and attempted to do a good job under unfortunate circumstances. Before a meaningful investigation could be completed, the project was split by dissension and fell apart from within. (See UFOs? Yes!, as essential piece to the Condon Report). The quixotic Dr. Condon introduced considerable whimsey, once using project resources to travel to the Nevada desert to be present for the landing of a spaceship predicted by a mystic, and engaging in semantical games such as the following: "As a practical matter, we cannot study something that is not reported, so a puzzling thing seen but not reported is not here classed as a UFO." (Condon Report, p. 10). He also made a bid to become the greatest prophet of all time (or to perpetuate another joke): "...we consider that it is safe to assume no ILE (intelligent life elsewhere) outside of our solar system has any possibility if visiting the Earth in the next 10,000 years." (p. 28). This is a remarkable extrapolation from human knowledge, more fantastic than many of the claims made about UFOs. Although it bears all the trappings of science, including an expensive survey on the capabilities of radar, the Condon Report is sadly deficient as a scientific study of UFOs. It covers radar, weather, people--just about everything except UFO cases. As nearly as can be determined (since it omits identification of the cases by date and location), the report reviews about 109 of the 10,000 to 15,000 then on record (about 1 percent). Of the 697 Air Force unexplained cases accumulated in 1967, many of the most puzzling radar-visual encounters by Air Force pilots, the report reviews only seven (1 percent). The widespread 1965 and 1966 sighting waves that immediately preceded the project are barely touched upon. Major cases specifically called to Dr. Condon's attention were excluded. Two major omissions were the 24 April 1964 Socorro, N.M. landing case with physical evidence, (Police Officer Lonnie Zamora--D.M.), and the 17 April 1966 Ravenna, Ohio, police case with multiple independent witnesses. A thick investigation report on the Ravenna case, containing witness statement and exhibits, was prepared by university instructor William Weitzel on behalf of NICAP and personally delivered to Dr. Condon. Also missing from the Condon Report are two other important studies. When Dr. David Saunders was "fired" from the project in the controversy over the Low memo, his statistical study of thousands of UFO reports was omitted. I was a consultant to the project to help develop a Case Book of outstanding UFO reports that was to be sent to scientists all over the country as a challenge. If the scientists could explain them, so much the better; and if they couldn't, this would serve as additional evidence substantiating the reality of the mystery. This potentially valuable scientific experiment never was completed. From my personal knowledge of the project and talks with scientists who participated, it is obvious that the Condon Report is a patchwork affair, piecing together anything (no matter how vaguely relevant) that looks like scientific work in order to fulfill the terms of the contract. It is far more pretentious, but no more scientific, than its predecessors. In the final analysis it lapsed into the pattern begun by Project "Sign" 20 years earlier--speculating about whether UFOs could be extraterrestrial visitors, displaying ambivalence about whether there was anything extraordinary to be investigated at all, and jumbling together in a semantical tangle the questions that needed to be asked. The failure of scientists to supply convincing answers about UFOs has been a failure of commitment. At each stage, scientists have tried to take short-cuts by ruling out the possibility of the most obvious answer (space-ships), and then demanding and unrealistic degree of proof--a "saucer" in the laboratory--before being willing to investigate at all. A committment to study the phenomena objectively, bringing to bear the resources and instrumentation of science, has been conspicuously absent. Never mind what some scientists think some UFOs are not; what are they? To this question scientists have responded with guesswork, speculation, and forays outside their fields of expertise. Why don't scientists have the answers about UFOs? Basically because they have, without intensive study of UFO cases, assumed social-psychological explanations. They have been negatively biased by the speculation (not scientific knowledge) about extraterrestrial life and the alleged improbability of visits to Earth. They have not asked the right questions and followed up with the kind of meaningful investigations that could supply the answers. The assumption has always been that "UFOs" are mistaken observations, only considered to be spaceships by a naive, uniformed public without "convincing" evidence. In the scientists' view, a fearful, overly imaginative public is seeing spaceships behind every light in the sky. Against this background, the National Academy of Sciences correctly summed up the consensus of leading scientists: "...a study of UFOs in general is not a promising way to expand scientific understanding of the phenomena." If the mystery is conceived to be of human construction, then the rest follows with irresistible logic and the hidden assumption against scientific reviewers is brought to light. Ever since 1949 scientists who have been consulted on UFOs have assumed the answer, and in so doing they have denied the reality of the data. If the data are unreal, there is no need to study them, QED. -!- MailGate 0.25e ! Origin: Ask Your Fido Feed for SNETNEWS (1:330/201.1)