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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Jun > Jun 17

Re: Experience Anomaly?

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 13:09:42 -0500
Archived: Fri, 17 Jun 2011 07:51:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Experience Anomaly?


>From: Edward Gehrman <egehrman.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 09:15:27 -0700
>Subject: Re: Experience Anomaly?

>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
>>To: <post.nul>
>>Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 07:53:01 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Experience Anomaly?

>>>From: Edward Gehrman <egehrman.nul>
>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:35:07 -0700
>>>Subject: Experience Anomaly? [was: Third Kingdom Experiences]

>>>>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
>>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>>Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 12:31:01 -0500
>>>>Subject: Re: Third Kingdom Experiences

>>To spare further misunderstanding, I urge you to read not just a
>>single paragraph but all of my "Experience Anomalies" essay in
>>Fortean Times 243.


>I think I understand the point you're making but I don't
>understand the distinction between a witness reporting fairies
>on the lawn and someone reporting an alien in a lime orchard.

Generally speaking, there may be no fundamental difference, Ed.

>A friend of mine had a stroke while watching TV. He said that
>the only thing he remembered was all his old friends suddenly
>walking through the front door and sitting down next to him. He
>then remembered waking up in the hospital. He told me later:
>"Ed, you can't believe how real my old friends seemed. Just as
>real as you and me sitting here." Where does that fit into your
>theory?

It's irrelevant to the hypothesis. I'm not writing about medical
conditions or hallucinations.

>My research indicates that abductions are either real events
>like the Hills, or Hixson and Parker, or outright lies. If two
>witnesses report the same experience, then there's a good chance
>it's true. But in your experience anomaly, facts can be both
true and false at the same time.

It depends on how you define "facts," but if you mean what I
think you mean: yes.

>Also, why do you have trouble believing KT's experience? Do you
>know who she is? Did you bother reading the entire article?
>Could you provide an example of what you consider an "experience
>anomaly"?

You're entirely right. I ought to have expressed no opinion
whatever of the witness' credibility, since I know very little
about the specific incident - and especially after I have
criticized others for weighing in even when they're ignorant of
the issue in question. Obviously, I ought to apply that rule to
myself as well. I apologize for violating my own good sense.

>I was not able to find the specific article you cited at the
>Fortean site. Could you provide a link although I think I
>understand your theory. It just doesn't make any sense and I
>don't think it makes sense to anyone else on the List. Maybe
>you're on to something. It certainly sounds deep and
>inscrutable, but lacks meaning and most of all, from a
>scientific standpoint, predictability.

When we're dealing with centuries' worth of extraordinary
claims, one thing we ought to have been able to figure out by
now is that simplistic categories of "real" and "unreal" do not
always apply. (Yes, there are also other kinds of strange
events, hallucinations, hoaxes, and misidentifications, but
that's not what we're discussing here.) That's why "liminality"
is in the vocabulary, at least of scholars. That's why
insistence on literal either/or readings has led to centuries of
failed debate. Anyway, let me cite again these words from a
recent interview with religious-studies scholar Jeffrey Kripal,
who doesn't use my phrase "experience anomalies" but is speaking
of the same:

"I am saying that you cannot read genuine paranormal events as
simply subjective occurrences, as 'anecdotes' - talk about an
intellectual cop-out or sleight of hand! - but neither can you
read them as stable, predictable, replicable, measurable things
'out there,' unrelated to subjective states of consciousness.
They are both subjective and objective. Or, if you prefer, they
are neither."

If we don't develop new ways of thinking about this particular
category of extraordinary human experience, we'll be spinning
our wheels forever. I have discussed these issues in print, from
the Fortean Times article I've cited to, for example, "From
Mermaids to Little Gray Men: The Prehistory of the UFO Abduction
Phenomenon" in The Anomalist 8 (2000): 11-31. These matters are
taken up in my 2010 book Hidden Realms, Lost Continents, and
Beings from Other Worlds (Visible Ink Press). If you're
interested, you're welcome to seek these out. One day, perhaps,
everything will be on line, but we aren't there yet.

In any event, if this doesn't "make sense" - and it is indeed a
concept difficult to grasp because nothing in our social,
intellectual, and experiential training prepares us for it -
that says, alas, more about us than the phenomena we're
struggling to understand.


Jerry Clark



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