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The Field of Ufology

Discussion in 'General Freewheeling Chit-Chat' started by USI Calgary, Feb 13, 2018.



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  1. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    There's been a recurring debate and discussion about ufology that focuses on what it is and how it should be treated. In this thread I'm going to attempt to outline and refine my views on that, and they will be reflected on the USI website. During this process ideas, comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms are welcome. To start off, we've already had some relevant discussion here:

    - Ufology & Pseudoscience
    - Damage Control - Ufology in Flames
    - Ufology Culture Clips and Comics
    - What Is The Point?
    - The Mount Rushmore of Ufology

    The aim is to move ufology toward academic acceptance by having a well defined vision of what it is and how it can be studied from an academic perspective. After much deliberation my position how to do this is that ufology a field of study is too broad to place within the narrow confines of the scientific method and therefore is more suited to the faculty of Humanities rather than the Sciences. We begin with working definitions for UFO and Ufology:

    UFO or ufo


    Pronunciation: yoo-ef-oh ( plural UFOs ) or yoo-foe ( plural ufos ) noun
    1. A craft of alien origin.
    2. The object or phenomenon that is the focus of a UFO report or investigation.
    Word Origin: [ Mid-20th century (1952) acronym formed from the words unidentified flying object. ]

    Ufology ( pronounced yoo • faw • la • jee )

    Ufology is loosely defined as the study of UFOs. More accurately it's defined as the array of subject matter and activities associated with an interest in UFOs ( see chart below ).

    --------------------------------- Basic Structure -------------------------------

    UfologyMap_01c.jpg
    My approach is to look at ufology as if it were an academic course or a section in a library and outline what facets such a course or section would include. I have several hundred titles in my own collection, so I've already put a fair bit of thought into this. Here's a brief diagram that roughly outlines the way I look at the field. Those interested in contributing constructively to the refinement of this diagram can get in touch and I'll email them the yEd file.

    NOTE: If anyone wishes to object to or offer changes to the above definitions, then do so by providing references as to why the specific reasoning for them is faulty and how it could be improved. The reasoning is outlined on the USI website under the associated articles. They can be reached by the links in my signature line. Objections that are simply mere proclamations or do not address the reasoning will be considered frivolous. We've already dealt with a couple of objections on other threads, so I respectfully request that they not be regurgitated here unless something of relevance and importance has been missed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  2. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    @Gene Steinberg, it seems like the attachment size is being trimmed by the forum software. Can it be set to allow them to be wider? Not wider than the display area but 1500 shouldn't be a problem.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  3. Thomas R Morrison

    Thomas R Morrison Paranormal Adept

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    As I see it, Ufology and Ufological Culture / Entertainment are different things. Putting them under one umbrella would be like putting the movie Apollo 13 under the heading of Rocket Science, because it happens to be about a rocket program.

    Conferences and podcasts and groups are all a part of Ufology Theory in my view, because that’s where people debate various ideas about it, just as people debate the various sciences at conferences and bulletin boards etc.

    But the really woo BS like Ancient Aliens, and Andrew Basiago and David Wilcock’s nonsense – the vast majority of popular ufology culture – is the gangrenous arm that’s killing ufology. We need to cut that arm off completely if this field is ever going to attain any level of respectability or garner real academic interest. So I’d go with something more like this:

    ufology.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  4. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    I doubled maximum file size and removed size restrictions.
     
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  5. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Maybe you mean Apollo 13, and that would make sense if ufology were a science, and it was only doing science we were concerned with. It's not like that. It's about ufology as an entire field of interest. Like I already said, Close Encounters is in the Library of Congress as a culturally significant work. Would you try to deny it has anything to do with ufology? Let's not be obtuse. Hynek himself even makes a cameo. Besides that, the move Apollo 13 is damn good docudrama about a real life space mission. It rightfully belongs in any aerospace library in the docudrama section. So slicing off culture is neither reasonable or in touch with the reality of the field.

    On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with someone wanting to focus their efforts on a particular specialty in the field, and if the more sciencey stuff is your thing, then I'm certainly not the one to try to discourage that. I'd say go to your ufology department or ufology library and skip the section on culture, and go straight to the science stuff.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  6. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Thanks Gene. Hopefully that won't cause too many problems with people abusing the capacity. It will help with stuff like these flow charts though :)
     
  7. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Well, in a few weeks the forum will be converted to the new version, and all things must pass.
     
  8. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    What do you mean by "all things must pass." Will the current content still be preserved? You're scaring me ... lol.
     
  9. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Everything but the book reviews. It's no longer being developed, and there will not be one for XenForo 2
     
  10. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Everything but the book reviews will stay or everything but the book reviews will be gone?
     
  11. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

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    Implicit in the statement. The add-ons for the forum that we use with the current version have to be redone for XF 2. Not all have been so far and we're waiting on one or two. Book reviews will never be updated unless someone else wants to take it over.

    See Attack of the Rockoids Community Forums for an example of how it's changed. All content was carried over there, but it had no book review area.
     
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  12. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    So to continue with @Thomas R Morrison, what I'd like to suggest is that because you have a specific interest in one section of the field, something really helpful would be to have someone take on that section for development. So for example start with Field Work ( define it ) > Interviews ( create an interview protocol based on the sorts of standards you'd like to see ). Then we'll expand that section out to include it in the chart and publish up the protocols to the USI website for anyone who wants to get into field investigations to refer to. I realize this would be a fair bit of work. But there's an opportunity to actually put your ideas into concrete form for the betterment of the field.

    This same opportunity goes for anyone who wants to contribute. By the time we get through the whole field we could have a whole spectrum of best practises for ufology, all the way from sighting investigations to making better quality films and books.
     
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  13. Thomas R Morrison

    Thomas R Morrison Paranormal Adept

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    I'm a big advocate of proper investigative methodology for new cases. The best people to develop that, imo, would be forensic crime scene investigators. There should also be a good guide on interviewing witnesses and if possible getting recordings of those interviews. But so many promising trace evidence cases have been ruined by a complete lack of proper methodology - cordoning off the area before people trample all over it, wearing the proper gear, collecting samples and sealing them well, sending that stuff to the appropriate labs for analysis. I know virtually nothing about that kind of forensic science, but lots of people work in that field, and they could really help out.

    My focus of interest, the theoretical physics of field propulsion, is pretty much useless to anyone but myself. Perhaps one day I'll come up with something of scientific interest in this area, and if that happens, I'll write a paper about it. I'm about to run an experiment that offers a modicum of hope for something interesting, and if I hit pay dirt with that I'll write a paper about it. But until then all I have to offer is a weirdly comprehensive overview of the physics of field propulsion, which is still in its embryonic stage, and most people just get annoyed when I talk about it because we don't know how to bridge the gap between theory and application yet.

    I don't see any hope whatsoever for improving the quality of films and books on this subject - people are going to do whatever the hell they want to do, and >95% of the time, that means cashing in on a niche market, with whatever insipid drivel they think will sell books or whatever. I think that trying to wrangle the culture around ufology into something respectable is a fool's errand - culture can't be controlled at all because it's a by-product. Imagine trying to control the music industry, or the astrology industry, or the film industry - you can't change culture, you can only contribute to it.

    But it might be possible to develop a viable professional standard for the science of ufology. Like I've said elsewhere, if we can provide a publicly available source of data for independent analysis, like the passive radar network idea, then you've got something that can be studied scientifically, and you could set up a peer-review process to publish credible papers on the subject. But until that happens, it's completely hopeless to strive toward any level of academic acceptance of this subject - without scientific data it all comes down to unverifiable stories and mythology. And nobody's going to stick their neck out over wildly subjective factors like that. All of the other sciences thrive and maintain credibility by virtue of precise observational data - until we have that, we have nothing.
     
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  14. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    I hear what you're saying with respect to the hard sciences. But there are still standards for other things as well. Professors in the Humanities don't give everyone an A Grade just because there's some subjectivity involved. I'm also interested in what this experiment is you've got worked out.
     
  15. Thomas R Morrison

    Thomas R Morrison Paranormal Adept

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    There's always a basis in data for any credible professional research or field of study. Then people can debate the fine points. But there's very very little in the way of objective data in ufology, and it will never be taken seriously until there is. Stuff like Literature Studies is different - that's all about works of fiction, and there are untold millions of works of fiction to study. History has all kinds of records and writings and archaeological evidence to talk about and analyze. Ufology is about something that's objectively real...and yet we have basically no meaningful data about it to analyze and talk about. If the technical reports from the AATIP get released, and ideally their supporting evidence as well, then that would be a start at least. But really we need an on-going data stream. Without that we're all just howling at the Moon, and telling ghost stories about apparitions in the sky.

    Sorry - I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it: I can't talk about personal research until it's finished, and I never talk about the projects that yield a null result - that's pointless: "hey guys I just spend three years and thousands of dollars and countless hours of my time building this awesome experiment that yielded no interesting findings - yippee!" All I can tell you is that I'm doing what I'm always doing - looking for new and at least moderately rational methods of technologically interacting with the gravitational field, to see if we can find a starting point to work forward from that doesn't require obscene levels of energy. I promise - if I ever find anything statistically significant, you guys will be the first to know, but I'm not particularly hopeful about it - looking for a loophole in the general theory of relativity is like looking for a secret door through the Great Wall of China - it may not even be there, and if it is, then I'll have to notice something that thousands of much smarter people than me have already missed somehow. But I figure that somebody has to try all of the crazy ideas, just in case, because the future of human civilization is in grave peril until we can start making progress in the right direction.
     
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  16. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Taken seriously by who? The Science Faculty? Since when did they ever take any other faculty seriously anyway ... lol. That's my whole point. Academic institutions aren't comprised solely of Science faculties. We already know what we need in order for Science to take ufology seriously, and that's sufficient scientifically verifiable material evidence. Projects like SETI are basically tolerated because it's run by scientists using scientific instrumentation and methods. Otherwise it would be considered as pointless as ufology. Simply because a minority of the population composed of "nasty noisy negativists" ( as Friedman calls them ) in the Science Faculty don't take ufology seriously doesn't mean it can't be treated academically in other faculties.
    The nuts and bolts aspect of ufology is totally cool. I get that. It's what makes the rest so interesting. At the heart of it all is a real world mystery and not simply myth. But at the same time, the field has expanded beyond the nuts and bolts investigation of the phenomena itself into pretty much every facet of modern culture. So let's be fair about this. I give you credit where credit is due, and we agree pretty much completely with respect to the part of the field that is your main interest. I just take a more holistic approach, but I'm getting the feeling that you think that is a total waste of time. Have I got that right? How can we fix that?
    I wouldn't worry about that unless you're concerned about someone stealing your idea and beating you to doing it first. Personally I don't really care about that. If I have an idea I just launch it out there and if the universe decides it's going to land on someone else who will do it, perfect! It saves me the time and money and effort, and I can still go back and point to where I thought of it first ... lol. That way it also might inspire other minds to come up with their own cool ideas too. There are days I really wish I had my own single photon double slit lab to play with though .
    You've probably already seen me mention that way back in the early 90s I went onto a discussion board at MIT and suggested they run experiments with superconducting magnets and weigh scales. Then someone in Russia actually did the experiments. Maybe there's no connection, but I wish I'd known then how to make screen grabs! I find the whole antigravity quest fascinating as well. I know those first experiments have been highly criticized by the scientific community, but I still think that the key is in something to do with rotating EM fields and superconductors. So here's my latest thinking on that ( I came up with it about 5 years ago ).

    Essentially the experiment would use a superconducting magnet just like in the original levitation experiments ( those are proven as I'm sure you already know ). However to kick in the antigravity effect, my suggestion is that the magnetic field may need to be rotated. This was suggested by other experiments where it was claimed that an antigravity effect could be measured when the magnets were rotated. But they couldn't get the magnets to rotate fast enough or stable enough to make the experiments yield definitive results.

    So my suggestion is that instead of rotating the magnet, rotate the fields instead. Read this PDF: https://www.celeroton.com/fileadmin...e/publications/IEEE_Publication_Megaspeed.pdf With a stable field rotating at GHz speeds something is going to happen ( get your radiation suits on ... lol ) and who knows, maybe then the effect claimed might manifest in a way that is undeniable. See. It's not so hard to just put whacky crazy ideas out there. Feel free to build one and let me know how it goes. In the meantime good luck with your effort :cool: !
     
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  17. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Not exactly. I see your perspective though and appreciate the question. It hits the exact point where the two perspectives meet. Try thinking of it like this: It's more like I'm saying that if one takes an outside the ketchup bottle look at a field from the perspective of someone trying to assemble a library of information as reference material for a course of study, that it would ( and should ) encompasses a wider array of material than the core science or nuts and bolts textbooks.

    So to use your example, an astronomy library for an astronomy school might indeed have astronomy magazines as part of the resource material and therefore in a wider and more holistic sense we can say astronomy magazines fall under the general heading of astronomy, as do astronomy meetings, conventions, photography etc. See what I'm getting at? If there were a "Ufology Department" in the local university with it's own library, it too would have all sorts of reference material spanning the full spectrum of ufology from the nuts and bolts research to the arts.


    So one could say that if someone is making a movie like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, no they're not doing nuts and bolts ufology ( the sense you are getting at ), but I'm sure we can both agree that they're contributing something important to the field as a whole. Maybe more succinctly, writing ufology fiction ≠ UFO field investigation, but that doesn't mean they aren't both part of the wider field as seen from a holistic and educational perspective. This is a very important distinction because it's where skeptics conflate the different perspectives and say that because ufology has a wide range of speculative content and claims to have a serious investigative side, that it can therefore be classed as pseudoscience.

    By making clear orderly delineations between the various facets of the field, and not claiming that the field as a whole is a science, the skeptic's argument that ufology is a pseudoscience crumbles. Yes the case of the orgone energy accumulator is pseudoscientific, but it's just part of ufology history. That doesn't make the whole field a pseudoscience. It's just an isolated historical example, and the whole field is much larger than that and it doesn't claim to be a science in the first place. Therefore the field of ufology as a whole doesn't fit the definition of pseudoscience. See how nicely that works?

    That is a model that would work very nicely in an academic setting without having to ruffle any scientific feathers. But at the same time if real science is needed, we'd know where to find them, and we would have gained at least some credibility for getting our ducks in row.
     
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  18. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    Here's another example to illustrate the point I'm making about ufology as a field in a holistic sense. Take a look at any UFO encyclopedia. In this example I'll use the one by John Spencer. Here are some of the entries:

    - Alamagordo New Mexico
    - Autokinesis
    - Blackouts
    - Cave Paintings
    - CIA
    - Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
    - Crop Circles
    - Debunking
    - Disinformation
    - Hypnotic Regression
    - Hynek
    - Fireball XL-5
    - Ley Lines
    - Lifestyle Changes In Witnesses


    UFOEncy-01a.jpg

    I'm sure I don't have to list every entry to get the point across that Ufology encompasses a very wide array of subject matter and is not limited to the examination of nuts and bolts evidence.
     
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  19. Realm

    Realm Paranormal Adept

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    Not really. You just continue to mix what a field is to whatever is associated with it. A sci-fi comic can be associated with astronomy, it can utilize ideas and information from astronomy, but it isn't astronomy. An astronomer observing astronomical objects is doing astronomy, a journalist writing an article about those results to a newspaper isn't, and the newspaper isn't astronomy either. Yet by following the same sort of definitions you have for ufology, they would be that too.

    And why stop such associations there? Couldn't we just as well declare that astronomy is ufology and vice versa? They obviously have various loose links, through SETI for example.

    I really don't see the point in trying to fight against common definitions that actually work and make sense, and trying to replace them with something that is hardly a definition at all. These simple questions of what is what and the responses that already need to refer to holistic views and so on reveal it just doesn't work like that and results nothing but confusion.

    There isn't really anything wrong with the normal definitions of fields that study certain subjects, such as these from Wikipedia:
    So ufology is defined in a similar way to the rest, but classified as pseudo-science. You won't succeed in changing that status by inventing new definitions, you rather just lose the status of it being a field or research at all. You are fighting a losing battle there.

    What actually needs to be done is a closer look on the reasons why it has such a status, and if those can be fixed:
    Obviously the easiest step is not to claim it's science, if it isn't. The next harder steps are to nevertheless try to follow the scientific methodology as far as possible, like those amateur ornithologists are doing, openly acknowledging the scarcity of actual evidence, and avoiding claims and speculations that the limited evidence cannot really support. Basically just get rid of all the excess stuff that you try to include into your definitions, and you will fix both the problem of definitions as well the actual problems.

    SETI scientists aren't really in a better position in terms of evidence. Their entire set of somewhat potential evidence fits basically to six characters, 6EQUJ5, and they have the same issue with falsifiability. It doesn't really matter that much that some also regard them as pseudo-science, or being uncomfortably close to that, since that lack of positive evidence is pretty much their only fault. They just need to continue doing what they do, and that could change.

    Just do what they have done, and you effectively have short-distance SETI, and Jill Tarter can't make claims like this anymore:
     
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  20. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy

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    You're still confusing the field in a wider sense with the nuts and bolts business of it. There's more to it than that. To use your analogy ( again ), the library or course material at an astronomy department could easily make mention of astronomy comics as a facet of Astronomy History and it's impact on culture. Or I could ask you the same question I asked Morrison. Do you really thing the fictional film Close Encounter of the Third Kind has nothing to do with ufology? And again I'll say let's not be obtuse. Of course it does. These have as much to do with ufology as a sighting report form. They've probably even had a bigger impact on modern culture.

    UFOComic-01a.jpg CE3-01a.jpg

    There's no point in me continuing to argue this point, or the others, so if you could perhaps move on and provide some useful commentary. If you think it's a losing battle, then contribute something positive.

    That's exactly what this approach does, and it has been explained adequately. If you don't think so then you need to do more that just proclaim otherwise. In what specific way doesn't this approach totally eliminate the pseudoscience label from the fields as a whole?

    1. Ufology as a field of interest neither claims nor presents itself as being a science unto itself.
    2. Ufology as a field of interest is too large in scope to fit within the bounds of the scientific method.
    3. Therefore ufology as a field of interest does not fit the definition of pseudoscience.
    4. The label is therefore being misused by people outside the field who don't know what they're talking about and simply want to criticize using labels that devalue the worth of the field.
     
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