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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2001 > Apr > Apr 23

Re: Debunkers' Guidebook - Rimmer

From: John Rimmer <jrimmer@magonia.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 09:50:56 +0100
Fwd Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 16:34:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook - Rimmer

 >From: Greg Sandow <greg@gregsandow.com>
 >To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@sympatico.ca>
 >Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook
 >Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 10:56:08 -0400

 >>Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 06:56:00 +0100
 >>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@sympatico.ca>
 >>From: John Rimmer <jrimmer@magonia.demon.co.uk>
 >>Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook

 >>Would you now like me to post dozens of examples of sceptics who
 >>have looked carefully at eyewitness testimony and found it
 >>invaluable in determining the stimulus responsibe for UFO


 >I'd very much like to see that. And I mean it - this isn't one
 >of the rhetorical challenges so tiresomely prevalent on this

I suppose in the best traditions of this list I should say "Read
the Collected Works of... (insert sceptics name here)"  and
announce that anyone who does not the agree with me is
"uninformed" or has not read the literature sufficiently
diligently. However, I shall try to be a little more

One example that comes to mind, where sceptical ufologists
carefully examined witness accounts and came to conclusion
different from the witnesses' assumptions, is the Cracoe Fell
case in Yorkshire, northern England. A full account can be found
in Clarke, Randles and Roberts's book "The UFOs That Never Were"
(one of the 'Collected Works' I would have people read)

At Cracoe two experienced police officer ('trained observers',
many ufologists would claim) saw several UFOs hovering against a
cliff face. They described them as "brightly lit spheres"...
"the glowing orbs hurt the witnesses' eyes"... there was "a
triangular fin behind the central light".

This case did not depend on eyewitness testimony alone, as
several photographs were taken which seemed to confirm the
witnesses report. I won't spell out the rest of the
investigation, except to say that an explanation was found,
based on a careful analysis of the photographs and the
eyewitness reports. This analysis was vigorously challenged by
the UFO group which had first investigated the case.

The Berwyn Mountain case has been previously mentioned on
UpDates. I simply reiterate that it was "debunked" by good basic
investigation, and listening carefully to what witnesses said,
but not taking all descriptions at face value, and doing
background checking.

Jerry Clark said a while ago, trying to explain the difference
between 'good sceptics' and 'debunkers', something like "when a
ufologist explains a case it stays explained", with the
implication that 'debunkers' explanations soon crumble. But I
think a more realistic statement would be "If I agree with the
explanation of a case, it was done by a ufologist. If I don't
agree, then the explanation is the work of a debunker".

 >We could also make lists of skeptics who declare witnesses
 >didn't see what they reported, in order to make the skeptic's
 >explanation of the sighting work. (Klass, for instance, said
 >Coyne didn't operate the helicopter the way he said he did;
 >Sheaffer said Betty Hill didn't see lights in the sky in the
 >positions she said she did.)

The Coyne case has been discussed on another branch of this
thread. I simply repeat that it is only one small - but vital -
part of the witness testimony that is under question. I find it
quite plausible that a highly trained helicopter pilot might,
without thinking or conscious recall, take action to correct a
dangerous situation. Isn't that what being "highly trained" is
all about?

 >One reason I'm curious to see your list, John, is to see how
 >often, in your citations, the skeptics actually discount part of
 >the witnesses' testimony. (Yet another example, from recent
 >discussions on the Project 1947 list - skeptics who say police
 >officers chased Venus in their squad cars, when they thought
 >they were chasing a UFO. In one case, to make that work,
 >skeptics had to ignore the testimony of officers who say the
 >object passed right over them at close range.)

I can give you a case, personally investigated but unfortunately
not documented, where a witness 'saw' the Moon fly over them.
But that is, of course, only anecdotal testimony. I am curious
as to at what point you *would* question eyewitness testimony. I
am sure you don't believe that all witness reports should be
taken as unchallengable, objective records of events. Just where
would you draw the line, and begin to suspect that things might
not quite have happened exactly as the witness described?

John Rimmer
Magonia Magazine

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