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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 14

NY Times To Run Alien Encounter Article

From: Will Bueche <willb3d.nul>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 18:18:28 -0500
Archived: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 16:12:49 -0500
Subject: NY Times To Run Alien Encounter Article

Something I jotted down for a site I run... thought it would be
of interest since it refers back to the List's recent discussion
which appeared under the header of "Starship Memories." Please
note the Update at the very end:

New York Times to Run Alien Encounter Article Soon

12 Nov: The New York Times, which seemingly never runs any
stories about alien encounters unless it is to discredit them
with even the most feeble arguments, may be about to do so
again, this time by promoting a rather weak study conducted by
Susan Clancy at Harvard (described last week in the Harvard
Gazette). Her experiment showed that experiencers tend to have
more recall errors when recalling thematically grouped lists of
words. The study author claims this is evidence that
experiencers create and believe in "false memories," but the
connection between remembering events and word-lists (and the
confidence in those memories) seems rather slender even to non-

In a thematic word-list experiment one is given a list of words
such as pillow, sheet, mattress, comforter, alarm clock, teddy
bear (for example). Later, after a suitable distraction such as
arithmetic equations, one is asked to recall the words, at which
time one may or may not erroneously include the inferred word
"bed," and even feel confident that was one of the words.

Elsewhere on the web, in a rebuttal you will likely never see in
the Times (even though it and two accompanying rebuttals were
provided to the Times*), doctoral student in theoretical
neuroscience Catherine Reason explains why Clancy's study is
inherently weak:

<snip - link to Reason's November 9th statement on the UFO
Updates List in which she explained that "inferring from
context" is not an error, it is part of how a functional mind
navigates in the world>

Assuming her study was accurate, why would experiencers have a
greater tendency towards "inferring from context"? Are
experiencers simply more conceptual than verbal? Have they
always been this way, or does it track with experiences? It is a
provocative, though weak, study _ but not for the reasons the
researcher believes.

Watch the Times, see if they do their usual. Perhaps we'll be
surprised, and they'll include some of the rebuttals. (This
upcoming article should not be confused with upcoming Times
coverage of the Taken miniseries, which is also being prepared

Nov 14 Update! If the article does not present this, the Times
ability to fairly report the news will be soundly put into

If the article does not present this, the Times ability to
fairly report the news will be soundly put into question: The
Times reporter today spoke with Daniel Brown, Ph.D., an
assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical
School and an expert on the subject of trauma and memory (Dr.
Brown has worked alongside such luminaries as Bessel A. van der
Kolk, M.D, exploring how memories are organized at different
stages of development, and the differences between recollection
of ordinary and traumatic events in adults and children. He also
has written with Ken Wilber on aspects of Tibetan culture, as he
is fluent in Tibetan). I have it on good authority that he
shared with the Times reporter his assessment of Clancy's study;
relating his view that her study was weak. He may have reminded
the reporter that the type of study Clancy used is sometimes
used in legal settings to "prove" that childhood sexual abuse
had not taken place, even when other material evidence proves
that it had. This type of study, he reportedly explained, is
fundamentally poor, even when followed with the precision
expected of a Harvard student.

So in conclusion, I hope that by presenting this behind-the-
scenes process in how a Times story is created, we may all learn
more about whether the Times is a reputable source of balanced
information. I've presented evidence that the reporter has
received four rebuttals to the Clancy study; three written
statements and one long interview with a top-grade expert. We
will soon see what the reporter deems worthy of inclusion.

*I directed the reporter to the Updates archive at
virtuallystrange.net for rebuttals, and asked her to contact the
people if she intended to use their quotes, as my own efforts to
reach them via email for permissions was not succesful. (Doesn't
everyone check their email every hour? Hm?)

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