Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Show People, Don't Tell People

     Let's do an exercise. I'll describe some types of people in the UFO fray, and then we'll decide whose personal statements out of the group should be accepted as fact. Whose statements of the following can we rely on to be factual?

The Intelligence Official

    They were a longtime employee of the federal government and climbed their way to a position of responsibility in an intelligence agency. They were issued a security clearance and it's a given they were read into various classified projects as a condition of employment. They now frequently speak publicly about their knowledge of the presence of a non-human intelligence. 

The Experiencer

    They published their full name and regularly field questions about them self. Widely considered an alien abductee, they have rehashed their story for decades. They continue to report being plagued by baffling events in their day-to-day life.

The Scientist

    A qualified expert in their field, this person earned two PhDs and a Masters. They enjoy talking about their work and explain in interviews how a non-human intelligence was observed during research projects in which they participated. They show a willingness to risk professional status and reputation to defend their position and describe seemingly anomalous events they saw take place.

The Civilian Investigator

    This person puts boots on the ground and diligently collects statements from those who report UFOs. They study case files, are well read, and do popular presentations. They have authored several books, do a weekly podcast, and are consistently a favorite at UFO conferences, for reasons including they describe the people they meet and cases they investigate.

The Journalist

    The UFO journalist is an award-winning writer and reporter. They are well connected and so entrenched in their stories they participate in third party interviews along with the subjects of their investigations, who are often intelligence officials and scientists. They frequently explain to the public what they have learned from their many contacts about the fascinating subject matter at the center of the otherwise private and classified activities.


    Question: So, which of the people described above may we accept their personal statements as fact?   

Answer: None of them.

Or anybody else, for that matter, without corroborating evidence. As has been aptly stated by others, "Show people, don't tell people."

The clinical work of memory experts such as Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Dr. Julia Shaw confirm witness testimony is the least reliable form of evidence. Basically, when it comes to narrating the past, we often don't know what the hell we're talking about.

This doesn't mean we're always wrong about things. Neither does it mean people are always lying or intentionally deceptive.

What it does mean is universal standards of evidence recognized by the professional research community stipulate unsupported claims are not taken into evidence as facts, no matter who they're from. Not when someone appeals to authority, not when someone says others will vouch for them, not when someone promises proof is coming later. We may believe what we choose, or speculate as we wish, but if we are asserting something as fact, or claiming we are framing the assertion in a scientific context, we must provide adequate verification for it to qualify. 

A salient point: Although ufology has long claimed to want wider acceptance from the scientific community, it often fails to conduct its affairs in a way that would facilitate that acceptance. Not always, but often. If ya don't want in, don't ask for an invitation. And if ya ask for an invitation, act like you are actually willing to conform to the guidelines of the scientific community into which you sought entry. Otherwise, it's subject to be viewed as the same ol' disingenuous ploys charlatans have used for centuries to try to dress up unscientific activities as scientific study in order to gain otherwise unearned credibility.


  1. Replies
    1. And the choir gives a hallelujah at the end of each line!

  2. Since Ufology is not really based on science..how could it ever win acceptance into the scientific community?
    Any why would it want to anyway..?
    And is this mythical “scientific community” more than a cool sounding scientism meme anyway?

    Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
    John P. A. Ioannidis-2005
    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines,” stated Dr. Marcia Angell, the former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

    So yeah..Ufology can stick some of its toes into the "scientific community" for sure.
    At the end of the day, the phenomena itself was never reductionistic, but we all play along like it is, waiting for "the answers".
    Not going to happen.
    The Trickster and The Paranormal showed how fraud and fools are embedded into the paranormal/nihilistic Ufology.

    1. The issues raised by Ioannidis and Angell have not been ignored by scientists and I encourage people to read more about this paper and Angell’s statements and responses to it in context.

      One observation that I think is important, however, is that these kinds of criticisms are saying we should abandon scientific methodology. Nor are they denying its various achievements. But the flaws and failures of science can be addressed and improved in only one way: doing better science.