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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Oct > Oct 19

Re: Solved abduction cases?

From: clark@canby.mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 22:22:53 PDT
Fwd Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 02:12:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Solved abduction cases?


> From: DevereuxP@aol.com [Paul Devereux]
> Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 02:15:28 -0400 (EDT)
> To: updates@globalserve.net
> Subject: Solved abduction cases?

> Dear Jerry,

> In response to my mild concerns about your 1 October attack on
> the Duke of Mendoza, you wrote on Monday 6 October:

> >From: clark@canby.mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
> >Date: Mon, 06 Oct 1997 10:38:50 PDT
> >To: updates@globalserve.net
> >Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: Solved abduction cases?

> >Paul,

> >You're in your mind-reading mode, I'm afraid, my friend.  You
> >don't know me well, so -- in defense of a not particularly
> >persuasive argument -- you feel free to attribute personality
> >and motivation to me.  The phrase "the folklore that calls itself
> >'abduction research'" still makes no sense, and I am surprised
> >that you would try to defend it.  In doing so, you rephrase the
> >argument -- you'd have to, for the sake of coherence -- to recycle
> >the usual jumble of claims, long effectively refuted by the one
> >academically trained folklorist participating in the discussion,
> >Eddie Bullard; see, for but one of many examples,his "Folkloric
> >Dimensions of the UFO Phenomenon," JUFOS 3(1991).  I also see
> >the inevitable North America bashing, a
> >particular obsession of yours.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but
> >don't you actually live here at least part of the time?

> <snip>

> >Though I think you are wrong about the UFO phenomenon
> >(though more interestingly so than most, except in the above-
> >expressed; I trust that the full treatment in your and Peter's
> >forthcoming book is more substantive), I respect the intellectual
> >processes that led you to the conclusions you espouse.  Anybody
> >who knows me would find immensely hilarious the suggestion that
> >I hold  views out of some craven need to conform with fashion.
> > I would appreciate your extending the courtesy to me of respecting
> >my own thinking even when you disagree with it.

> >I find the debunking literature (which is what we're discussing
> >here) mostly shallow and vacuous; it would never pass muster
> >in other areas of scholarly discourse, and it does not deserve to
> >be taken seriously until its standards improve. (Please don't
> >now insist that I'm therefore arguing that abductions are true
> >unless proven otherwise.  Give me a break.)  I see more evidence
> >here of traditions of disbelief (as David Hufford would call
> >them) than of traditions of scholarship.  But one is allowed
> >free rein when the target is something presumed to be both absurd
> >and contemptible,such as the UFO experience.  For a revealing
> >survey of the logical and evidential inadequacies of alternative
> >explanations to abduction phenomena, see Stuart Appelle's "The
> >Abduction Experience: A Critical Evaluation of Theory and Evidence,"
> >JUFOS6 (1995/1996).

> >It seems to me that we needn't be frantic for conclusive answers
> >when such manifestly are unavailable.  I simply don't understand
> >your need to bash all to whom Ultimate Truth is not so apparent
> >as it is to you.  A few abduction cases strike me as impressive
> >and truly puzzling, and more plausibly (albeit tentatively and
> >undogmatically) interpreted as interactions with nonhuman
> >intelligences than as hallucinations generated by immersion in
> >obscure folklore texts.  Most abduction stories are not evidential,for
> >all sorts of reasons, and I see no reason to believe that abductions
> >are happening to untold millions.  But there is a phenomenon
> >here in search of an explanation.  I feel perfectly comfortable
> >as an agnostic here. Anybody who seeks to persuade me that he
> >or she has that explanation would do well to use good arguments,
> >which I always am happy to hear.  No effort
> >to bully -- or caricature -- me, or any of the rest of us who
> >remain open-minded about this most difficult and contentious
> >of subjects,into submission is going to do the job.

> >And finally, as to the Dylan quote/paraphrase at the end of
> >your posting: it seems to me, my friend, that you, too, ought
> >to take heed.

> >Jerry Clark

> Well, Jerry, I'm positively amazed that my gentle and brief
> comments should provoke such a screed from you! Forgive me for
> thinking that you are being a little over-defensive. But, well,
> if that's the way you want it ....

Paul, I am "positively amazed" at your positive amazement. Why
wouldn't someone be "a little over-defensive" if somebody else
were to speculate in his presence, as you did in mine
(cyberspacially speaking), about his inability to think for
himself owing to a deep need to follow fashion?  I can imagine
you going ballistic under the circumstances, and I wouldn't blame
you.  Who the hell needs that? Try to be a tad more sensitive in
the future, please.

> PD: I don't need to be a mind-reader, just a reader, to see you
> getting narky. And I know you well enough to have seen you in one
> of your little paddies, so I know enough as far as this
> particular matter is concerned.

You're pretty hot-tempered yourself, Paul, and have a reputation
for same. It's just part of your charm.  So is mine.

> PD: It's getting very "old", Jerry, the way you always wheel old
> Eddie out. Eddie's OK, but he isn't God, and he hasn't refuted
> anything worth mentioning.(Indeed, do please see the full boxing
> match in our forthcoming book.)In any case you are wrong, plain
> and simple. Bullard is NOT the only academically trained
> folklorist in this discussion. I won't embarrass the innocent
> party with "outing" him in this regard, unless he chooses to do
> so himself. Also, one of the key British earth lights researchers
> has a Ph.D in folklore. Further, I'm no folklore virgin myself -
> I'm a fully paid-up member of the British Folklore Society these
> past many years. You aren't dealing with rookies, my lad. I'll
> stick to what I said.

It's a tad strange for you to charge somebody else with using
an "old" argument (why the scare quotes, by the way?), since
you've been beating the same drum for years and years, in
book after book, lecture after lecture. And why the hell not?
You think you've found something important, and you want
to be heard, and ultimately to prevail, in the debate. Personally,
I think you're interesting, dead wrong, and (dare I say it?) a
trifle arrogant from time to time.  So you're human. And keep
speaking up.

Bullard's work is, in my judgment, the most important yet done on
the abduction phenomenon, and it is fundamental to any
understanding and discussion of same. I know it pains you to hear
that.  Sorry.  For the rest of you who haven't already done so,
go out and read Bullard and find out why he so pains the
abduction/abductionist-bashers.  Reason one: he is an empiricist,
not content with making broad, sweeping pronouncements but
formulating and testing hypotheses -- few of which validate
critics' favorite beliefs. At the end of it, Bullard ends up an
agnostic, and so do I.

> We aren't talking Hansel and Gretel here, y'know. Folklore is a
> dynamic that is always being generated. The whole of ufology can
> genuinely be considered as folklore, and that goes double for the
> abduction scene.

The "whole of ufology"?  Such wild hyperbole will get you
nowhere, my friend, though I'm sure it will make you feel better.
If you want to be taken seriously, or even listened to, can that
sort of rhetorical excess.

> You seem to think the good Duke and I are somehow
> saying the UFO experience in general, and the UFO abduction
> experience in particular, is untrue, absurd, etc etc. This is not
> the case. I'll speak for myself: what I am saying is that the
> response to and treatment of such experiences is folklore. It's
> not the experients, its the goddam investigators and the milieu
> they operate in, Jerry. You've got what we are saying ass
> backwards. I DO think there is hoax, lying and crass
> self-delusion in ufology and abduction accounts, but I think
> there are also people who have experienced something unusual that
> demands explanation. My concern is that experients are all too
> often TOLD what it is they have experienced, and/or that the
> folkloric milieu they are introduced to will inculcate that
> explanation in them.

Let's see the evidence.  Bullard, in The Sympathetic Ear (1995)
and his paper on hypnosis and abduction reports (JUFOS 1, 1989),
found that whatever the investigator's predisposition, abduction
reports end up sounding pretty much the same.  If you have
empirical evidence to the contrary, let's see it.

> PD: You aren't thinking clearly, Jerry. I am not North America
> bashing at all. (And how dare you lump Canada in with the USA?
> The fact that Chris RutKowski lives in Canada shouldn't malign a
> whole nation.)

Say what?  Are you joking, Paul?   Living in a state that borders
Canada -- and in a town where to get to Chris Rutkowski's
Winnipeg all I have to do is to take the highway straight north
-- I have never once, in my entire life, not even for an instant,
not even after staying too long at the bar, not even after having
been struck by a meteorite, not even while enduring Republican
administrations, mistaken Canada for a part of the United States.
 It was you who used the phrase "North America," and I was simply
using your phrase. Actually, more properly I should be chastising
you for daring to confuse Canada and the USA.

> I am being highly
> critical of the dominant, ET-literalist paradigm that infects
> nearly all of US ufology.

Absolutely false.  By this time I do not mean there is anything
wrong with the ETH, a perfectly sensible reading (whether
ultimately validated or not) of the most evidential UFO cases. In
reality, however, American ufology exists in a pluralistic
universe in which all sorts of views are held and debated, from
the neoskeptical to the paranormalist; there has even been
something of a revival of secret-weaponism in recent years.
There is a demonologist school.  There are New Agers and other
dimensionalists.  Stop arguing in caricature.  The ETH lost its
dominance in American ufology in the late 1960s, with the
appearance of Keel and Vallee.  I think what you object to is
that it continues to exist at all. In all due respect, Paul, I
simply know a hell of a lot more about the intellectual history
of American ufology than you do.

> And yes, indeed, I spend at least half my time here in the States
> - we have a home on both sides of the Atlantic. You make my point
> for me. THAT IS PRECISELY WHY I AM IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO OFFER
> MY CRITICISMS. It is a fact, plain and simple yet again, that in
> British ufology, and I'm sure in the ufology of many other West
> European countries, the literalist view is balanced more
> effectively by alternative approaches than it is in the US. It is
> a healthier research climate in British ufology, notwithstanding
> that at the tabloid pop end of the business (and business it is)
> it is still  literalism based on imported Americana.

Healthier, of course, because more people there agree with you.
I find the same: the healthier the person, the more he or she is
likely to agree with me. Strange how that works.

> You simply cannot take the cultural influence out of this thing,
> Jerry. I stick absolutely to my claim that you have been affected
> by the cultural milieu in which you live, move, think and have
> your being.

And you haven't?  Get off the high horse, Paul.  This sort of
argument doesn't get any of us anywhere.

> You can't see it, because you are in it. I can see
> it. You may play fancier footwork than most, but you are still in
> the ET-literalist ballpark of US ufology. Let me mix metaphors:
> the dominance of the ET-literalist paradigm within 'mainstream'
> ufology turns it into a conceptual ghetto. Mixing on, I'd say
> that the ET-literalist approach is a sort of rest home for the
> intellectually lazy. You may be the librarian at the rest home,
> Jerry, and look out of the windows more often than most, but you
> are still an inmate.

Thanks, Paul.

> Mainstream ufology as we know it is rooted in 1940s and 1950s
> Americana. It is American folklore. And you are coloured by it,
> and would find it exceptionally difficult to break free from it
> -- even though it is long past its shelf life. Ufology needs
> reinventing because there is, indeed, something to be understood
> within it, at the level of some experiences had by some people.
> If we are to understand it, we will have to break out of the
> ghetto, the ballpark, the rest home, the tatty conceptual museum
> of Americana. The fact that you and others get so defensive on
> the handful of occasions anyone suggests another approach, tells
> me that you haven't escaped yet.

Coming from one of the most emotional critics of the ETH I have
ever encountered, I find these remarks ... well ... remarkable.
And a lazy excuse not to deal with substantive issues.

> Nor have many ufologists on your
> side of the Atlantic (there are notable exceptions). You demand
> evidence for this or that. I just demand that you think a bit
> harder. The ET-literalist approach is treated as if it were
> somehow a proven fact. It is not. Yet when Dennis Stacy published
> my "Meeting with the Alien" in the MUFON journal, I understand he
> was told that he shouldn't be publishing such material.

There's no accounting for idiots.  The inclination to squelch
what one does not want to hear, however, is not a uniquely
American phenomenon.  Dennis stood up to the morons, and God
bless him.  All viewpoints, including yours, should be heard and
debated -- everywhere in the world.

> Shouldn't! There you have it. Alternative views cannot even be
> discussed rationally in US ufology. Anyone who promotes them is
> to be treated like a dolt, an imbecile, a criminal, a con-man,or
> whatever. Should be attacked or ignored.

Stop acting the martyr, Paul.

> If I may invoke a bit more of Dylan - for pity's sake, will you
> please lay down your weary tune, if just for a while. See what
> else you might think off if you were not always leaning on your
> ET-literalist crutch. (I direct that at ETH  US ufolologists in
> general.)

As a player of weary tunes yourself, you really ought not to
pointing and shouting at other musicians.  Of course what you're
really saying is: shut up.  Ironic indeed after the complaints you
expressed just above.

> I do agree with you, however, in being cautious about both
> extremes. I have also had my differences with the over-zealous
> "new ufologists". You cannot treat all of us a monolithic whole.
> The extreme at the *other* end, however, the ET-literalist end,
> now reaches to the centre - nay, the core -  of American ufology.
> That is the point of my criticism.

Paul, I have no doubt you're a good guy.  You just need to refine
your debating style -- and maybe, though I know it's asking much
of anybody, consider, if even for a second, that you could be
wrong.  I freely acknowledge my capacity to be wrong. That's what
keeps me intellectually cautious.  You might try a little
humility from time to time.  I've earned mine the hard way:
honestly.

> PD: Well of course I read it, Jerry.(Reprise.) May I ask you to
> read outside the UFO literature much more than you do?

I read outside the UFO literature all the time, Paul, possibly
even more than you do, and I have many other intellectual
interests, as anybody who knows me knows well.  I'll show you my
library sometime.  In some circles in which I move, people know
little or nothing of my interest in the UFO phenomenon. My
closest friends, who share many of my intellectual passions, are
not ufologists.

One of my interests, as Duke will tell you, is a very serious one
in folklore and folk music -- actually more profound than my
interest in UFOs.  What's annoying about your remark, though, is
its bombastic presumption that only an ignoramus, or a cowed
conformist, or an inmate in an insane asylum, could possibly hold
views different from yours.  A kind of staggering arrogance lurks
behind your words.  You seem not to understand why -- or even
that -- you're offending people by condescending to them in this
rude and blatant manner.

> JC: "...hallucinations generated by immersion in obscure folklore
> texts."

That was a JOKE.  See what I told Duke about it in my recent
posting responding to him.

> As to this little "obscure texts" chestnut you roll out
> frequently: the sources people like Hilary Evans and others point
> to are not all *that* obscure, but in any case even if a text  is
> obscure, it only takes one person to make it less so. You never
> know where you pick up information. But I don't consider
> mass-media sources, even if old, all that obscure, to be honest.

Read my critique of the psychosocial hypothesis in my just-
published (shameless plug here) The UFO Book, pp. 492-504. Hilary
Evans, whom I like very much and always enjoy reading, is
discussed in detail.  I mean to say, of course, that his work is.
Hilary and I disagree fundamentally but have never had an
uncordial moment.

> JC: "...I feel perfectly comfortable as an agnostic here...No
> effort to bully -- or caricature -- me, or any of the rest of
> us who remain open-minded about this most difficult and contentious
> of subjects,into submission is going to do the job."

I have the feeling that any disagreement with you, Paul, is seen
by you as "knee-jerk," when it is not driven by comformity,
ignorance, or madness. You would do well to understand that where
UFOs (and, for that matter, a whole lot of other things) are
concerned, reasonable people can reasonably disagree.  I have
seldom if ever seen that simple reality acknowledged by you.  If
I'm wrong, please correct me. There's certainly
no evidence of it in this posting.

> PD: Oh come on now, Jerry! That's your "reasonable face" you like
> to think you wear all the time. Your knee-jerk reaction to
> Mendoza, and your notable - shall we say - reticence regarding
> other views outside the ET-literalist paradigm, give the lie to
> your self-delusion.

As I've said, you need a more productive rhetorical style.  And
I'M supposed to be the hot-tempered one?  Has it ever occurred to
you that I simply find your views unconvincing? Or am I just
another self-deluded dissenter from the Higher Wisdom of Paul
Devereux?

> I'm not trying to bully anyone - just trying to get heard. And
> then listened to. That's the difficult bit. You didn't even refer
> to my statement that we are researching lucid dreaming, for
> instance. Did you think it didn't matter? Because I really do
> care what the UFO abduction thing is about, I'll add the
> following outline of what we are doing.

> I would like to publish a book preparing people for this area,
> but so far US publishers have declined, apparently fearing that
> it might adversely affect their literalist UFO titles (ie. it
> might interfere with the prevailing folklore, which is proving
> commercially gratifying.) But I will eventually get some
> introductory material out on all this.

I look forward to reading the results of your work.  I'm sure you'll
find a publisher.  UFO books, pro or con, are moving slowly these
days, I'm told.  I've had a slow year, too.

Anyway, you acknowledge that when you wrote the above, you
were tired.  Like you, I can be tired and cranky.  So let's
end on a positive note and agree to disagree while maintaining
respect and mutual good feeling.  Meanwhile,  I promise not to
speculate about the psychosocial reasons you reject the ETH
if you'll promise to  refrain from comparable guesswork about me
and my views.  Let us assume each other's intelligence, sanity,
sincerity, and integrity and go from there.  Okay?

Cheers,

Jerry Clark


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