Last Updated August 20, 1996
During the Science and Politics of UFO Research
convention in St. Paul Minnesota (Oct-95), much discussion took
place regarding what UFO's and alien abductions are. It was
almost as if UFOlogy was trying to validate itself. If, during
the last 40 years a field is still trying to define and prove
that it can actually study a phenomenon, does it have a future
Very little talk took place regarding what UFOlogy (the study of
UFO's and related phenomenon) could do to improve its image.
While there has been sound and concise research, UFOlogy's image
is still one of kooks and loons. It becomes instantly apparent
why that is when one attends such a convention. The lecturers
were perhaps the most sane people I have meet, but the there were
people in the audience in attendance for the two day lecture
series that seemed to lack any rational ability. I tended to stay
in the back, eves dropping on conversations. What I heard wasn't
shocking, given that I've been hearing the same schizoid paranoid
ramblings ever since I started studying this subject. Luckily
most of them have the tendency to open their mouth and as such
are quite easy to spot. So it goes without saying that any field
that attracts this kind in the numbers that UFOlogy does is in
deep need of an overhaul. UFOlogy is a Public Relations
During the first night's panel debate, I posed
the following question: "Since UFOlogy gets the shaft in the
media, do you see the need for reform?"
This was meet with approval across the board,
but no one had any definite answers. One suggestion made by Glenn
Campbell was "We need a cool name!" I agree.
I hereby submit the name 'Xenology" for
review. I like this for a number of reasons: UFOlogy is concerned
with alien entities, strange craft in the sky, theoretical
physics, applied technology, human psychology and sociology.
UFO's are objects in the sky, and thus the name 'UFOlogy' is
limiting in scope. However Xenology is concerned with anything
alien in nature. Not just strange things in the air, but the
technology, the biology, the motivation, the science which is
foreign to us. It is also a good starting point to a hierarchical
system. Theoretical Xenology, XenoBiology, Applied Xeno
Technology, Psychical Xenology....on and on, the entire spectrum
falls within a concise heading that can be expanded to encompass
different aspects that develop. It also sounds more authoritative
or at least has some semblance of being valid as opposed to
'UFOlogy'. And being Latin in origin conforms with the rest of
the scientific naming convention.
For the rest of this essay I will replace
Xenology for UFOlogy. Let's see how it sounds.
Xenology is a hard concept to grasp as every
society has an inherent flaw of maintaining the status quo. There
is an interesting little theory running around the Sociology and
Psychology departments all over the world known as Schema. The
basic concept is that if one can instantly process the
information, identify what actions are needed without any
cognitive processing, those individuals will survive, while those
that are processing the information will loose valuable time and
be eaten (or something similar). The problem comes when a totally
alien force presents itself for inspection. "What was
that?" we ask, and then cycle through our known universe
looking for the closest match. The study of UFOs has been riddled
with these heuristic associations since it's inception as have
every other science, some of which only recently have become
mainstream. I am forever amazed when the media touts "New
theory will rewrite text books!" Of course it will. Only an
idiot knows everything! But this does not instantly validate the
UFO. We must first be empirical, study the data, test for
variables, and then submit for peer review. Remember, it's OK to
have a kooky hypothesis. But a hypothesis does not make a fact.
The field of Xenology has come under attack not
only from outside sectors, such as the government, research
organizations and noted individuals in the scientific community
(and I can't really blame them)but also from the field itself.
There are many different attacks coming from all sides and
without any real organization, governing body or fundamental
regulation, Xenology will continue to fail as it fends off
attacks rather than continue research. It is doomed to an
existence of fighting for a place in the scientific community,
but will never reach that goal because it can't provide the data
while fending off attacks. This catch 22 scenario, however has
it's roots in the beginning of Xenology.
The basis for the entire field is a simple
"Life exists elsewhere in the
Jack Farmer (NASA) has invented a field called
exopalientology, or the study of alien fossils. He's positive
that he'll find something on Mars. Not a Lock Ness bone, but
rather bacteria fossils or perhaps something a tad more advanced.
It hasn't been proven yet, but the hypothesis does have popular
support and the opposite ('there is no other life') has yet be
proven either. If we stopped here...life might be boring, but we
wouldn't offend anyone and we could talk late at night over
coffee and cigarettes dreaming of what the future might hold. But
we need to explore, and so the lone UFOlogist begins their search
for life. Here is where we begin the descent of credibility.
Our first step is a subjective one. We
hypothesis that life exists elsewhere. Easy and we can continue
on this track searching for some validation. Somewhere there has
to be data proving or disproving our theory. But it is also easy
to loose sight of the goal and become entranced by our subjective
P to be true.
P is true.
As you can see, we haven't provided a shred of
evidence since our hypothesis. But we have reached a conclusion
without any supporting arguments. Behold the subjective fallacy.
Next is the polling process to determine the
beliefs of others on the subject. It is also the next fallacy.
The appeal to majority.
people believe P is true.
P is true.
No different from the subjective fallacy in
it's lack of supporting arguments. Several other fallacies
equally lacking are the appeal to emotion and appeal to force.
All persuade the conclusion without actually supporting it.
If we manage to actually make it past this step
with out falling flat on our faces, we begin with our research
and start reviewing the previous literature on the subject. And
here we fall into another trap. The appeal to authority.
X says P is true.
P must be true.
While X may be an expert on the subject of P,
there are no supporting arguments for the conclusion. P might
very well be true, but it has yet to be proven.
Now we can begin the counter attack. If X is arguing against our hypothesis, we can commit the most vile fallacy; the Ad Hominem. We attack the speaker's credibility by show a negative trait they posses.
X is a postal clerk and we know how twitchy they are.
X doesn't know what he's talking about.
X may very well be a twitchy, gun storing
revolutionary postal clerk, but we haven't argued against X's
statements. I particularly enjoy
The government lies to the public
It is lying now.
The sixties were a complete reversal of the total trust we had in the previous decades. Now the government was responsible for everything we could pin on it. There are many examples that do prove the government lied to the public in the interest of 'national security'. But that's what we pay them to do. And there is evidence that the government's knowledge of ET's are being covered up in a similar manner. But it does not prove that ET's exists. Only that someone is lying and has lied previously in similar situations. But the argument is used to prove the existence of intelligent life. No actual proof has ever been offered in the statement above. Then we circle back to the appeal to majority and state that most Americans believe the government lies and further our fallious statements. I should mention that once the governments evidence has been corrupted, or tainted with lies in one aspect, it is possible to believe that all the evidence is corrupted and they (the governmentt) are lying about other things as well. But this is not proof. This is doubt of truth. Correctly Stated it would look like:
If you lied about A
Then you might be lying about B as well.
Notice this is not a statement in the true sence of the word. We are making a proposition that based on A, B's validity is now up for questioning. We must now prove that B is in fact untrue via some other argument. We are allowed to doubt B, but we are not allowed to make a statement regarding the quality of B.
Deepening our spiral descent further we 'Beg
the question', commonly known as the circular question. Is much
like the original subjective fallacy.
Is it true that P might be true?
You see, He agrees that P is true. (if it might be true, then it must be true)
No argument here. Just a conclusion.
I have been hit with this so many times it's
depressing. Every argument I start winning always brings the
opposition to "But isn't it possible.." or " Don't
you think that...". The key point here is that opinions are
cheaper then air and weigh about as much. You can't prove
anything with a hypothetical situation, you can only demonstrate.
Next is the Post Hoc. We begin with a truth. A
happened. And then another truth. B happened. But because A
happened before B we now conclude that B was caused by A. And we
now have the ever famous
I saw lights in the sky
I found circles in the fields.
The circles in the field were caused the lights in the sky.
Sure, it could have happened...but you can't
prove it with this argument. (notice I don't beg the question )
But wait, there's more. Our trusty UFOlogist is
open to speculation on other causes. He/she invites alternate
theories from others.
A could be caused by B
A could be caused by C
But I believe that A is caused by D because both B and C are unlikely and/or never happen.
A might very well be caused by D. but by
ignoring B and C we state a false alternative or more simply, we
ignore other reasons to prove our point. It's data only if I
think it's data.
Above all of the fallacies present, my absolute
favorite is the 'Appeal to ignorance' or quaintly put:
I can't prove that P is not true
P must be true.
Remember back in the beginning? We state that
life might exists elsewhere... Now that we have looked and
realized that we can't turn every stone.. It must be true. I have
seen the argument used elsewhere as well.
I can't prove the government is lying to the public.
The government must be covering up something.
I can't argue with that logic or any of the
other examples and this is but one reason why Xenology is in
trouble; Its own propensity for fallious conclusions in the void
of data. There is a large amount of good data that can be
analyzed and even more work to be done in the reproduction of
findings. Xenology will never gain credibility unless it can
decide on a specific set of goals and carefully work through the
scientific process. But most researchers are private individuals
who won't reveal their finds until after they publish a book or
get a movie deal. And even then getting two UFOlogist to agree on
any single theory is akin to two magnets. Both posses the same
attraction but when facing each other...they repel with force.
The problem is that many of our peers are quite satisfied with their own subjective reality and are guilty of the same mistakes they accuse us of. It happens everywhere, all the time and will continue to do so. But those who make it through the mud and are able to stand on their data will be remembered for eternity. Being a rebel isn't easy, and we must remember that everything has its price.
If we are to direct Xenology into the next
century with the hopes of actually finding something, we must
maintain a the actions within the field.. An example of a similar
situation began in the 1850's. A certain popular medical
procedure was being performed by people with minimal training and
getting all the work because they were much cheaper then
"Formal Doctors". The educated doctors were aghast at
this practice and agree that if they combined forces, they could
push the amateurs out of the industry and take over the business.
What is now the American Medical Association began as an effort
to control abortions.
Xenology is just as controversial, but look at
what could happen if the factions joined forces. I'll give you a
working example. The internet or 'the net', that strange ethereal
entity commonly referred to as 'Cyber-Space' holds about 30
million people from all over the world. I've heard 60 million but
no one really knows. It is hyped up to such an enormous degree
because of what it represents. Knowledge-pure and unedited, ready
for consumption available at the press of a button, costing
apparently nothing. It's like paying $1 to get into a library
with millions of little rooms, each designed especially for a
single interest. Not interested? There's a room for people who
aren't interested. Got a question? Ask me! I may not know the
answer but I know someone that does and they're two doors down.
There are even some entrances that cost nothing, that come with
living in a certain community. It is a brave new world.
But in this mass of knowledge comes confusion,
anarchy, destruction, abuse and corruption. To combat this, and
attempt to provide the Cyber-citizen with a concise guide,
several young men with an interest in UFOs each created a room on
the net. All total there were about 100 other people with rooms
each dealing with a subset of UFO's. Realizing that they might be
covering the same areas, three of these geeky little youths
decided to team up and merge their data. Each one dealt with a
specific topic while all agreed to adhere to a standard format.
Everything would be peer reviewed, and the majority ruled. Each
was left to their own topics, but each knew what the other was
doing so no over lap occurred. Within the first week myself and
the two other gentlemen (Dean P. Kanipe and David Schmitz) had
managed to create the most popular area on the internet for
information regarding UFOs. We averaged 30,000 hits a month with
more on specific pages. Our media page which houses news articles
hot off the wire (fed by hundreds of loyal readers) received over
10,000 access hits a week. How many of you can say that you get
those number day in and day out?
We took on the roles of Librarians; archiving
everything we could get or hands on and categorizing it so the
average person could find exactly what they were looking for. We
played the educator, showing the public quality data (we still
question that ) pointing out flaws, helping them with their
search for knowledge. What happened next was unexpected. Offers
starting poring in from individuals wanting to help. Reports went
out to other locations on the net that we had the best data,
questions were posed in public forums as to why there was nothing
else that equaled the Internet UFO Group. We applied technology
to solve problems. Kent Jeffrey's Roswell Declaration became
digitized and a program developed for accepting signatures
electronically. 2,000 signatures came in during the first four
months and I only spent I day writing the program to do it. We
worked with other researchers and published their findings,
newsletters and updates. No other UFO related site has been able
to equal our stature or receive the accolades we have.
Marx had some grand ideas as do we. We bit off
more than we could chew and so did he. But one specific statement
of his stands out.
|The free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of the people's soul, the embodiment of a people's faith in itself, the eloquent link that connects the individual with the state and the world, the embodied culture that transforms material struggles into intellectual struggles and idealizes their crude material form. ....It is the spirit of the state, which can be delivered into every cottage, cheaper than coal gas. It is all-sided, ubiquitous, omniscient. It is the ideal world which always wells up out of the real world and flows back into it with ever greater spiritual riches and renews it's soul.|
I think Glenn put it succinctly when he said
"If it ain't on the net, it's lost forever."
The internet is the next free press. Data for everyone by everyone. Instant news, instant access, unlimited capability. You, the Xenlogist, need to be there making sure people can hear your story, can get the data without struggling through the hordes of loons. The masses aren't interested in your methods. They want your conclusions. And they will take any that come to them. You have a responsibility to your own validity to make sure everyone can get the reality we all desire. If no one can hear you-shout louder and carry a bigger stick. Klass doesn't have a site on the net. We do.
At this point I will stray into the speculative future. I would like to offer a theoretical model for the future of organized Xenology. It should go without saying that one must stick with a Marxist view point regarding data. Only that which can be opening and freely inspected is fit for public consumption. But working for the good of society doesn't mean you can't make a buck and support your research. If Xenology is able to coalesce into a coherent entity, it should be able to call the shots regarding it's future. None of us doubt that alien contact will take place. The only problem is that none of us will be actively working on the subject anymore when that happens. We all have real jobs and the label of UFOlogy won't get you through the door at NASA. To ensure that Xenology can continue to exist and flourish in all times, it must first be created. At that point it can obtain funding for its research. If our theories are correct, then the military has a jump on the civilian population regarding Xenology. I believe that private investors would be quite willing to pay for the data that the military has collected. But since that isn't going to happen, we can fill the niche. We could be the civilian version or our secret government counterparts. Our goal: Contact and acquisition. (hey...I'm dreaming here but it's a good dream) Once done we feed our investors the results of our findings. I think the public still has a right to the information, and all data should be declassified one year later. That gives the business community enough time to get a jumpstart on their competitors. Remember, NASA began as a civilian authority on aeronautics.