J. Randall Murphy
I suppose we could all be brains in a vat, but assuming that's not the case, it's not reasonable to suppose that UFO reports are all subjective experiences, and the more evidence we have to the contrary, the better the case is.key phrases such as "realer than real" that comes up in NDEs - Ray Palmer said he had a test, some detail that told him whether a report was true - leaving all that baggage aside - are there actually key words or objective ways in which language is used (like trying to determine authorship) that validates my sense that UFO experiencers are talking about something that is distinct from what mystics are experiencing that is distinct from what users of psychedelics are experiencing or is there no way to tell anomalous subjective experience apart?
I don't think that the assertion that there are no patterns is accurate. What those assertions do is take into account a variety of objects and possibilities outside the definition we're using here for the term UFO. Ultimately if we make any topic vague enough we can say there are no patterns. But in ufology there are patterns, beginning with the common idea that we're dealing with engineered transports ( craft ). Craft are a set of objects that all have certain things in common and therefore represent a "pattern". There are also the so-called UFO hotspots which are defined by an increased frequency of sightings. An increased frequency compared to other locations reveals another type of pattern. There are also UFO waves. There is also the common factor of the elusive nature of UFOs which could be considered to be a pattern of behavior. There is also the performance characteristics of these craft, which are historically far beyond that of known aircraft.We do this every day in ordinary subjective states when for example we try to determine if someone really loves us by the words they use and we might be pretty good at it - I think Chris or Jerome last week maybe said no one had identified any real patterns in the experience phenomena and surely someone has looked at the language used? - Huxley does this informally in The Perennial Science - noting that mystical reports from all times and places sounds a lot alike . . . Underhill classifies levels or types of mystical experience, has anyone done this kind of scholarly work with UFO reports? is it even possible considering the volume?
Huxley worked with the mystical literature of the time from all over the world, Underhill with the Christian tradition and the language was strikingly similar to me - but to say a computer could sort all of this out by an analysis of language . . . I don't know, Plantinga's argument for belief in God being properly basic does hinge on some things he considers to be unique to deity, for example that we have an innate cognitive sense of God and that our ability to accurately apprehend reality hinges on theism and not naturalism, so I don't know if it would be useful - but my thought was to look at this and see if there is anything about UFO experience that is analogous that lets us say "ok, your belief in x is rational, even if we can't prove it" - it seems that would make a difference in how we view and treat experiencers . . . I haven't gotten any further than that
As I've already mentioned, I have yet to see Plantinga deal with the core issue of what it means for something to be a God, and therefore everything else that follows runs the risk of being irrelevant. Perhaps he does address this issue someplace. I'm not at all familiar with his work. But to make a key distinction here in a not so subtle way, I've not heard of any instance where God has been tracked on radar and intercepted by military jets. So although we cannot deny the psychological effects of observing a UFO, we're not dealing with assumptions based solely on faith or belief.