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October 20, 2013 Jerome Clark


technomage

Paranormal Adept
Burnt State, thank you for your thoughtful response.

I can't say I disagree with what you have to say and acknowledge that there is a value in classifying phenomena to make the study of it better. I am not thrilled with the term "experience" because it seems to imply that no event occurred, but I can't think of a better term myself, so it may be the best we can do.

I also have some concern over saying that there is no proof of an existence of something when multiple people have experienced it. I would agree that there is no proof, but there is clearly good evidence that some event occurred.

I believe my point was that we don't want to be too rigid in our categorizations lest we lock our thinking into boxes hindering further understanding instead of facilitating it.
 

flipper

Paranormal Adept
Burnt State, thank you for your thoughtful response.

I can't say I disagree with what you have to say and acknowledge that there is a value in classifying phenomena to make the study of it better. I am not thrilled with the term "experience" because it seems to imply that no event occurred, but I can't think of a better term myself, so it may be the best we can do.

I also have some concern over saying that there is no proof of an existence of something when multiple people have experienced it. I would agree that there is no proof, but there is clearly good evidence that some event occurred.

I believe my point was that we don't want to be too rigid in our categorizations lest we lock our thinking into boxes hindering further understanding instead of facilitating it.
If someone was kidnapped, tortured, and sexually molested would you say that they had an experience. Language is important for all involved here.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Burnt State, thank you for your thoughtful response.

I can't say I disagree with what you have to say and acknowledge that there is a value in classifying phenomena to make the study of it better. I am not thrilled with the term "experience" because it seems to imply that no event occurred, but I can't think of a better term myself, so it may be the best we can do.

I also have some concern over saying that there is no proof of an existence of something when multiple people have experienced it. I would agree that there is no proof, but there is clearly good evidence that some event occurred.

I believe my point was that we don't want to be too rigid in our categorizations lest we lock our thinking into boxes hindering further understanding instead of facilitating it.
That all depends on what you mean by "too rigid". We need accurate terminology and we need it to be used consistently, or we'll all end up thinking we're talking about the same thing when we're actually talking about something else. On the issue of proof. Proof is simply evidence that is sufficient to justify a belief. That evidence may be sufficient for one person to believe, but not sufficient for another. To solve this problem science developed a method for establishing sufficient evidence that is used throughout their community ( the scientific method ). The scientific method is a very sound way to assess many things, but it starts to fall apart when there is a lack of verifiable or intangible evidence. This is why I advocate the use of critical thinking in the field of Ufology and the paranormal.

Simply because the scientific method cannot be applied to a phenomenon, doesn't mean the phenomenon doesn't exist or that we can't figure out what it is. This is also why I caution against making claims regarding "the scientific study of UFOs". Until we have sufficient scientifically valid evidence we shouldn't be making such claims. They simply give skeptics ammunition to label the field a pseudoscience. It's far better to leave the science to the scientists and ufology to ufologists. When we finally have something for the scientists to examine according to their methods, then that's when we should point them in that direction and let them do their job their way, and at arms length to avoid any perception of bias. I realize that may let them steal some of the glory, but so what? I'd sooner work with science and get to the truth than try to compete with it for personal gain.
 
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Wade

FeralNormal master
Having listened to the podcast of jerome Clark provided by my two fellow members I have to still admit to still being puzzled. As interesting the various accounts Jerome detailed were, He still didn't clear up...to me at least...his feelings that the two phenomenon (event and experience) were two separate issues. First of all unless I missed something he just provided various events, more to the point he acts like east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet when they're is ample evidence to suggest the twain HAS met on more than a few occasions. Just because both phenomoenon aren't readily apparent in any anomalous encounter doesn't mean they are two separate events There could be another very good reason why a close encounter with an ufo doesn't come with mothman sighting and vice versa other than not being related in the first place.

Here is a site where he goes about making his case

Men in Black and anomalous experiences: Sometimes we just don’t know what the heck happened | Doubtful News

"... I contacted Jerry Clark and asked him to clarify one quote from the article that I didn’t understand…

Whether or not the sightings have continued or will continue, Clark cautions against dismissing such stories as the ramblings of crazy people—or to think of them as literal events, like bumping into someone at the grocery store. Rather, Clark said, the direct observation and the event must be separated. Accounts of the men in black represent experiences that, in his words, “don’t seem to have
occurred in the world of consensus reality.”

What did he mean by “don’t seem to have occurred in the world of
consensus reality”? ..."

The article goes on with jerry's analysis.

I just see no cause to try to separate the two phenomenon
 
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S

smcder

Guest
this discussion keeps bringing the categories of "apophatic" and "cataphatic" theology to mind, there is a history of anomalous phenomena that has made good use of these categories (mysticism) - haven't worked it out any further than that, but I haven't seen these terms applied or analogized to ufology (Valee?) - also I think of "sufficiently warranted belief" and belief being "properly basic" - see reformed epistemology and the work of Alvin Plantinga - theological crossovers to the ufo field - and I'm not pushing that anywhere . . . just tickling my brain - someone has been over this before
 

technomage

Paranormal Adept
That all depends on what you mean by "too rigid". We need accurate terminology and we need it to be used consistently, or we'll all end up thinking we're talking about the same thing when we're actually talking about something else. On the issue of proof. Proof is simply evidence that is sufficient to justify a belief. That evidence may be sufficient for one person to believe, but not sufficient for another. To solve this problem science developed a method for establishing sufficient evidence that is used throughout their community ( the scientific method ). The scientific method is a very sound way to assess many things, but it starts to fall apart when there is a lack of verifiable or intangible evidence. This is why I advocate the use of critical thinking in the field of Ufology and the paranormal.

Simply because the scientific method cannot be applied to a phenomenon, doesn't mean the phenomenon doesn't exist or that we can't figure out what it is. This is also why I caution against making claims regarding "the scientific study of UFOs". Until we have sufficient scientifically valid evidence we shouldn't be making such claims. They simply give skeptics ammunition to label the field a pseudoscience. It's far better to leave the science to the scientists and ufology to ufologists. When we finally have something for the scientists to examine according to their methods, then that's when we should point them in that direction and let them do their job their way, and at arms length to avoid any perception of bias. I realize that may let them steal some of the glory, but so what? I'd sooner work with science and get to the truth than try to compete with it for personal gain.
"Too rigid" meaning setting up categorizations that lead to potentially incorrect conclusions down the road.

Regarding the rest of what you wrote: Sounds good to me!
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
"Too rigid" meaning setting up categorizations that lead to potentially incorrect conclusions down the road.
Regarding the rest of what you wrote: Sounds good to me!
Even those categorizations aren't necessarily bad. Clear expectations can help focus an effort on finding results. What's bad is when down the road the conclusions you mention turn out to be incorrect, but people refuse to change their views anyway. Here's an example in ufology for you to consider. It's how we view the word UFO. I've studied this word in some depth and have some really good reasons for defining UFOs as alien craft ( article here ). In addition to having a sound rationale for using that specific definition, the definition itself provides an clear direction and foundation from which to proceed. Things that don't match this class of objects can be ruled out and we can clearly focus on the core subject matter. I believe this definition, though rigid, meets with your requirement to remove the potential for being incorrect. However I'm also sure there are those who would disagree.

For example, someone might ask, "What if you're wrong and UFOs aren't alien craft?" My response is that if you need to ask that question, then you don't understand the definition. If an object is alien ( from beyond the boundaries and constructs of our global civilization but not necessarily ET ) and some version of a "craft" ( physical means of transport ), then it's a UFO. If it's neither of those things then it's not a UFO and we keep looking. Perhaps we'll never actually find an intact UFO we can bring home to the lab, but that doesn't mean we don't know what we're looking for, or that we can't keep looking. So the definition is 100% logically coherent and within the realm of scientific possibility. The only time we might be wrong is if a specific report we believe is about a UFO turns out to be something else. Then we need to be prepared to adapt our belief accordingly.
 

Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
If someone was kidnapped, tortured, and sexually molested would you say that they had an experience. Language is important for all involved here.
So this is where things get synchronistic for me...

This is an excellent comment. Most of what you mention, however, would involve trace evidence and the event could be proved in a court of law. But what about your more common non-violent cases of date rape, incest etc.? How about all those football payers in small towns across north america gang raping young women? Does society believe them?

Because I am 45, and because i have spent years working in the area of gender based violence at my school, a number of women have privileged me, over decades, with their story of sexual assault. I believe them all.

Last year I worked through a piece where a young student of mine was going through a court case involving a long term familial sexual assault across ten years of her childood by her uncle. The daugher of this man was also repeatedly sexually assaulted by him and another man. The daughter said it was all a lie concocted by my student, her cousin. Ths other young woman could not could confront the truth of her own father as sexual abuser. My student was then positioned as a liar, and must now face the prosect of having to repeat the details of what was done to her, for one more time too many, as each time she has to tell this horrific part of her life is one time too many in my opinion.

Her story may remain as experience only as far as the public record is concerned, but I still believe her, as do many others. I believe that 'experiencers' should not be discounted, but if we can not prove the details are true, then all you have is a story believed only incrementally by few, though those few will continue to suffer from the repercussions of the experiential event.

While you may want to believe individual stories out of compassion, or your own measurement of truth, it is simply something society is not prepared to work with as a fact. So forget trying to 'solve' any UFO conundrum, when our society has an inability in believing that 1 out of 2 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime or that we should do anything about it. Unfortunately consensus reality does not appear to support what women say happened to them.

Our threshold for belief in what really happened to people remains culturally frontloaded. I blame patriarchy for dismissing more imaginative and generative ways of knowing,
 
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Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
What did he mean by “don’t seem to have occurred in the world of consensus reality”? ...

I just see no cause to try to separate the two phenomenon
Consensus reality, also known in some cases as 'history written by the winner' is what society accepts as a factual, historical event. Based on historical fact society makes its decisions. Experiential events are like stories about racism, sexual assault, bias and discrimination. The threshold for proof of these events, like all historical facts, requires trace evidence, multiple witnesses, recordings etc., and without that, society will do nothing about them.
 
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technomage

Paranormal Adept
Having listened to the podvast of jerome Clark provided by my two fellow members I have to still admit to still being puzzled. As interesting the various accounts
Jerome detailed were, He still didn't clear up...to me at least...his feelings that the two phenomenon (event and experience) were two separate issues. First of all unless I missed something he just provided various events, more to the point he acts like east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet when they're is ample evidence to suggest the twain HAS met on more than a few occasions. Just because both phenomoenon aren't readily apparent in any anomalous encounter doesn't mean they are two separate events There could be another very good reason why a close encounter with an ufo doesn't come with mothman sighting and vice versa other than not being related in the first place.

Here is a site where he goes about making his case

Men in Black and anomalous experiences: Sometimes we just don’t know what the heck happened | Doubtful News

"... I contacted Jerry Clark and asked him to clarify one quote from the article that I didn’t understand…

Whether or not the sightings have continued or will continue, Clark cautions against dismissing such stories as the ramblings of crazy people—or to think of them as literal events, like bumping into someone at the grocery store. Rather, Clark said, the direct observation and the event must be separated. Accounts of the men in black represent experiences that, in his words, “don’t seem to have
occurred in the world of consensus reality.”

What did he mean by “don’t seem to have occurred in the world of
consensus reality”? ..."

The article goes on with jerry's analysis.

I just see no cause to try to separate the two phenomenon
I think you're alluding to something similar to what I was trying to say, but said it better and with more clarity.
 

Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
thanks Burnt State - difficult stuff, I am working through something like this right now . . . appreciate you bringing this in -
i think if you are an older man, and you have spent real time with women, have daughers, sisters, mothers, grandmothers etc. then you are always working through this social ill.

the more men talk openly about those facts and their feelings about sexual assault and violence, the more chance we have on working through that culturally frontloaded tragedy. Be well, brother.
 

technomage

Paranormal Adept
Even those categorizations aren't necessarily bad. Clear expectations can help focus an effort on finding results. What's bad is when down the road the conclusions you mention turn out to be incorrect, but people refuse to change their views anyway. Here's an example in ufology for you to consider. It's how we view the word UFO. I've studied this word in some depth and have some really good reasons for defining UFOs as alien craft ( article here ). In addition to having a sound rationale for using that specific definition, the definition itself provides an clear direction and foundation from which to proceed. Things that don't match this class of objects can be ruled out and we can clearly focus on the core subject matter. I believe this definition, though rigid, meets with your requirement to remove the potential for being incorrect. However I'm also sure there are those who would disagree.

For example, someone might ask, "What if you're wrong and UFOs aren't alien craft?" My response is that if you need to ask that question, then you don't understand the definition. If an object is alien ( from beyond the boundaries and constructs of our global civilization but not necessarily ET ) and some version of a "craft" ( physical means of transport ), then it's a UFO. If it's neither of those things then it's not a UFO and we keep looking. Perhaps we'll never actually find an intact UFO we can bring home to the lab, but that doesn't mean we don't know what we're looking for, or that we can't keep looking. So the definition is 100% logically coherent and within the realm of scientific possibility. The only time we might be wrong is if a specific report we believe is about a UFO turns out to be something else. Then we need to be prepared to adapt our belief accordingly.
You make some very good points. I don't have a problem with defining a UFO as an alien craft, since alien doesn't necessarily mean extra-terrestrial as you pointed out. Although a UFO may be some light in the sky that isn't a craft of any kind, correct? For example, couldn't it be some kind of life form flying around? Even if it isn't a craft, it sounds like a good working assumption based on all the evidence gathered to date.

I would still prefer to not make what seems to me to be an artificial distinction between event and experience, particularly when the word experience has been redefined to mean something that isn't an event and has no non-subjective evidence supporting its existence. I would prefer to use some other word or phrase to describe the case of an experience where there is no other evidence supporting its existence.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
this discussion keeps bringing the categories of "apophatic" and "cataphatic" theology to mind, there is a history of anomalous phenomena that has made good use of these categories (mysticism) - haven't worked it out any further than that, but I haven't seen these terms applied or analogized to ufology (Valee?) - also I think of "sufficiently warranted belief" and belief being "properly basic" - see reformed epistemology and the work of Alvin Plantinga - theological crossovers to the ufo field - and I'm not pushing that anywhere . . . just tickling my brain - someone has been over this before
Thank you for introducing us to Plantinga. I was just watching a video where he's speaking in front of a Religious Freedom Project where he brought up such things as Russel's Paradox, and the The Paradox of the Stone, which he seems to simply dismiss. He goes on to talk about Freudian psychology and goes on to deliver an hour long talk on Theism, Naturalism, and Rationality. The key point for me is that he asserts that belief in God is only rational if it is true ( presumably that God exists ). There are some other issues he brings into the mix that I'm not entirely comfortable with. But this one point on truth doesn't seem t be escapable. So the real question then becomes, how do we tell whether or not God exists? We've been through that here on the forum a number of times.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
You make some very good points. I don't have a problem with defining a UFO as an alien craft, since alien doesn't necessarily mean extra-terrestrial as you pointed out. Although a UFO may be some light in the sky that isn't a craft of any kind, correct? For example, couldn't it be some kind of life form flying around? Even if it isn't a craft, it sounds like a good working assumption based on all the evidence gathered to date.
Vague lights in the sky aren't UFOs. They're just vague lights in the sky that might end up in a UFO report, and not all UFO reports turn out to be UFOs ( alien craft ). It takes a little getting used to these distinctions, but when you do, you 'll find it works very well.

It's an interesting point you bring up about the possibility of UFOs being life forms though. To be clear here, I presume you're not talking about the usual life forms like birds or fireflies and such. I think a case can be made that engineered craft can also be life forms ( e.g. an artificially intelligent and aware space probe ). Ultimately at some point we may not be able to distinguish between the "life form" and the "craft". The fine edge of this issue balances on whether or not the life form is engineered or evolved naturally. If some alien species genetically engineers a flying thing that looks like a bird and sends it here to scout out the place, then it's a bird shaped UFO. On the other hand if some naturally evolved space animal flies into our skies, then we're looking at some kind of space animal, not a UFO, and we can leave the investigations about those to the cryptozoologists.
I would still prefer to not make what seems to me to be an artificial distinction between event and experience, particularly when the word experience has been redefined to mean something that isn't an event and has no non-subjective evidence supporting its existence. I would prefer to use some other word or phrase to describe the case of an experience where there is no other evidence supporting its existence.
I've written here on the Paracast numerous times on the understated value of firsthand experience. Firsthand experience is not anecdotal evidence. It's valuable and can be sufficient to form reasonable beliefs on. In fact we do it every day. If we couldn't do that we'd have never evolved this far and would be extinct along with the dinosaurs.
 
S

smcder

Guest
You're welcome. Plantinga is formidable - look for keyword "defeater" - for example, his argument against naturalism, basically that if the brain evolved as a "limited cognitive processor" (was this Chris' term?) then it couldn't be relied on to accurately reflect reality . . . and therefore naturalism itself (being a product of that limited cognitive processor) is called into question . . . my understanding is that Plantinga's arguments are for belief in God being properly basic . . . not existence arguments - right now, I'm intrigued by how much of this discussion feels like or has the same texture (cognitively) as my understanding of mystical states . . . up to and including descriptions of mystical encounters with God as being violent intrusions of one's most intimate sense of self . . . "cultural front-loading", indeed
 
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Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
The small balls of light, orbs, foo fighters, etc. seem to offer the possibility of life forms or drones. But so many reports over decades are also very indicative of artifcial craft with lights, beams, structural design, landing gear, hatches etc.. These suggest occupants, have occupants witnessed near them, or are drones. Either way they leave evidence and are definitely technological objects reported by witnesses.

However, if all you have is first hand witness testimony then all you have is a story requiring confirmation. This is not consensus reality, as the number of witnesses amount to a small part of the population, with similar frameworks but wildly different details. So I don't discount these anomalous reports, but they really can only be used to help fill in some of the shadowy voids that make up the UFO phenomenon.

The stories and details of witness reports are so weirdly diverse that they suggest either a vast collection of visitors coming to get those galactically popular "I visited earth and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" trinket, or our reports are somehow skewed, perhaps not factually accurate. In these cases there are no straight lines to draw, just smudges of guesses.

This difference between stories and consensus reality remains significant if the implications we draw and theorise about the phenomenon are to have any valuable bedrock for future knowledge acquisition. Accepting all stories, which can amount to fringe perspectives, is what has slowed progress in understanding the phenomenon and getting mainstream society to value exploring it as far as I can tell.

Drawing acceptable lines of demarcation always assists in legitimizing consensus reality.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
You're welcome. Plantinga is formidable - look for keyword "defeater" - for example, his argument against naturalism, basically that if the brain evolved as a "limited cognitive processor" (was this Chris' term?) then it couldn't be relied on to accurately reflect reality . . . and therefore naturalism itself (being a product of that limited cognitive processor) is called into question . . . my understanding is that Plantinga's arguments are for belief in God being properly basic . . . not existence arguments - right now, I'm intrigued by how much of this discussion feels like or has the same texture (cognitively) as my understanding of mystical states . . . up to and including descriptions of mystical encounters with God as being violent intrusions of one's most intimate sense of self . . . "cultural front-loading", indeed
You've got an interesting way of expressing your ideas and if you're interested in following up, I created a new thread here: https://www.theparacast.com/forum/threads/philosophy-science-and-the-unexplained.14196/
 

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