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Location: Mothership -> Ufo -> Updates -> 1998 -> Nov -> Failure Of The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking

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Failure Of The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking

From: Jerry Cohen <rjcohen@li.net>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 12:29:39 -0400
Fwd Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 13:20:27 -0500
Subject: Failure Of The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking


>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>Date: Sat, 03 Oct 98 17:01:57 PDT
>Fwd Date: Sat, 03 Oct 1998 18:31:30 -0400
>Subject: Failure Of The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking

>>From: Ed Stewart <ufoindex@jps.net>
>>Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 23:53:03 -0700
>>Fwd Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 13:42:50 -0400
>>Subject: Re: Failure Of The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking

>>>From: egs@netcom.com (Edward G. Stewart)
>>>Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 14:33:16 -0800 (PST)
>>>Fwd Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996 04:53:41 -0500
>>>Subject: 'Flying Saucerology' - Europe Vs. The USA

JC:   To the list: Sorry for the necessitated repost of this
article. It wasn't stored properly without the headers.

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jc 6/18/01: reworded for clarity

Point of information:

Has anyone besides myself noticed that, although many are
excellent, the topics being discussed in this thread series
haven't had the word "Oberg" in it for at least 30 or more
posts? Then, his name appeared once and disappeared. I think
there may be over 60 postings at latest count. At this point, 
I feel qualified to put my 2-cents in since my website was
originally dedicated to "examining for flaws," _one_ essay
written by the person whose name appears in the title of all
these posts. I suppose this falls into the definition of
"debunking."

Using the same title as the thread,  we could examine this 
whole thing from another angle; the Failure Of The 'Science' 
of Mr. Oberg's efforts to succeed in debunking certain UFO cases & 
Researchers.

First I'd like to comment on why I believe the posts with the
above title have diverged so far from our original theme.

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When I first came on to the net in 1996, I noticed that many of
the discussions occurring on "alt.paranet.ufo" would degenerate
into generalized personal attacks on one individual or another,
with no solid substance to back them up. It wasn't a pleasant
scene. Certain people seemed bent upon displaying their
animosity toward other researchers. Instead of focusing on the
nitty-gritty of cases, these people seemed content fighting with
others over generalities rather than digging in and looking
closely at the _specifics_ of each case. It seemed to me we were
"spinning our wheels." Research, it wasn't. There was little
"documentation" offered to support the things they were saying
and participants were arguing back and forth as to who was
correct or not; in a few cases, with some nasty lower class name
calling in the process, as if this would solve the situation.

I also noticed that in some cases, "UFO history" seemed to have
been forgotten and/or "bent out of shape" with time. Some people
were even claiming Hynek was a mole for the CIA, etc. I was
actually amazed at some of the things I was reading & what some
people were thinking.

Then, along the way, perhaps via someone's posting, I discovered
EBK's mail list. Discussions were much better here because Errol
felt the way I and a number of other people did. He was making
the supreme effort to read most if not  all the discussions, and
make sure that the exchange of views were "research" based
rather than "attack" based. When Glenn Campbell came along to
archive everything, the mail list was elevated yet another
important notch.

Concerning Oberg's Essay Concerning Cooper and My Rebuttal:

When I read Mr. Oberg's essay on Gordon Cooper, I immediately
realized that the knowledge I felt I had accumulated over the
years concerning Hynek and McDonald was at odds with what Mr.
Oberg had written. I also disagreed with some of the 
conclusions he had come to regarding some of the cases he had 
used as examples therein and I composed a reply.

When I began posting my Oberg/Cooper series, I had in mind to
post something that would be thoroughly documented (i.e. a
person could read most of it and check it for himself in the
library for accuracy) and then closely examine what Mr. Oberg
was saying and perhaps, in the process via research, try to
bring at least _some_ accurate history back to the table. i.e.,
I wanted us to find our "roots" again.

Interestingly, sometime in December 1996 in the midst of some
interesting discussions between some Europeans, Americans,
Canadians and others concerning various facets of the UFO
situation, a piece was posted in its entirety on the list for
all of us to peruse. It was progressively filled with
inflammatory words against America & Americans and could have
easily incited hateful discussions between some of the very
people having the discussions. It reminded me of the lesser
material I'd read on alt.paranet.ufo.  Ed Stewart's name was on
the header. Another person had written the article. (It's long
folks, but to make the point, here it is)

You can check the original header here
I've done my best to more clearly format same at my site:
Stewart's  letter (reformatted)

Perhaps Ed and the original author thought that Americans were
supposed to read this and _not_ be totally offended by the
disrespectful anti-American (and anti-British, at one point)
attitude evidenced throughout the piece from an obviously,
extremely prejudiced author. (Especially the latter portions.)

In order keep the original discussions flowing without
interruption, we disposed of this judiciously at the time; not
that selective portions of it might not have been worthy for
discussion. However, we were finally heading toward discussions
concerning case details, etc. and didn't want to revert to
generalizing at this point. Being new at the net, surprised at
the intense anger I saw emanating from the article (unusual for
EBK's list), proud of being American no matter what our faults,
and having been searching for sites I thought looked interesting
enough to examine in depth, I posted the following response:

Click here for my reply:

My listing of various URLs did not mean that I advocated any of
them as proof of UFO visitation but rather did so to demonstrate
that there were things people were saying that at least might be
examined for authenticity. Over the course of time some of them
even proved incapable of supporting their conclusions. The point
was that we shouldn't allow ourselves to become lost in
"generalities." If a reported UFO were to be the real thing and
to actually be ET, if one takes the attitude that UFOs can't
possibly exist or, God forbid, possibly have an ET connection,
one will obviously never see the real thing if it were standing
there staring him/her right in the face. One has to carefully
sift through the majority of available evidence in order to make
a valid final determination. Those that spend most of their
lives arguing over generalities without examining the specifics
of cases never afford themselves the opportunity of making any
sort of fair determination.

I finished my reply by asking Ed why he posted the original
_entire_ piece because it just didn't seem to fit in what I
considered to be basically civilized, intelligent, focused
discussions emanating from EBK's list. My thought was that
people in the House, Senate, or any administrative body don't
speak to each other like this. We shouldn't either.

It is possible I missed his answer, although I searched for it
for quite some time afterwards. However, after thinking about it
at various times since then and seeing to where this recent
series of "Obergian?" posts has progressed and thinking about
why, I now believe I have a better understanding of Stewart's
(and one or two others) approach to ufology. I suspect Stewart's
response to Jerome Clark's posting of Westrum's "Failure Of 
The 'Science' Of Obergian Debunking" and the direction this 
thread has taken is probably the answer to my original question; 
i.e. he sometimes consciously or unconsciously, purposely or 
not (take your pick) tends to steer us away from a) "keeping an 
open mind" regarding UFOs   and b) helping us stay tightly 
focused on the original topic.

Clark's posting of Ron Westrum's paper, The Promise Of
Ufology

Westrum's paper gives some excellent reasons why several of 
James Oberg's assertions concerning ufology and ufologists are 
flawed and why our efforts should be to "push (ufology) further 
along the path from proto-science to scientific discipline." It 
was originally meant to be a counter to some of the things said 
by James Oberg a number of years ago and was resubmitted 
by Jerome simply to bring the discussions back to James Oberg, 
where they belonged, discuss the flaws, and to remind us all that 
we still need to keep an open mind on probably the most enigmatic, 
persistent subject of our century.

Serious researchers know it certainly has been a slow and
difficult task to accumulate enough of the right type of data
over the years which scientists might find useful for study;
especially considering the limited resources available to UFO
researchers and the sporadic nature of the ufo "appearances"
themselves. Additionally, anyone consulting the many available
books, etc. discovered for themselves the Condon Committee did
not arrive easily at its earlier conclusion that scientists cannot 
justify further research into UFOs. (See my website for a readily 
available, accurately footnoted replay concerning the Colorado 
project.) I'm sure Jerome has covered this  in his UFO 
Encyclopedia.

Unfortunately, Stewart fails to realize (or consciously chooses
not to) that finally, through the hard work of a number of
researchers, enough data has accumulated to at least pique the
curiosity of today's scientists and to inspire them to put
"Science" back on the path to a bit more enlightened approach
regarding UFOs; i.e. the Sturrock Workshop _did_ indeed see fit
to overturn the part of the 1969 Colorado Project pronouncement
that stated "...further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot
be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced
thereby."

There was evidently enough solidity to some of the material
presented at the workshop that finally got the scientists to
give it second thought. It is true they didn't feel the ETH was
conclusively proven by what was submitted. However, as a group
they decided that as remote as it might be, based on the
evidence presented by GEPAN/SEPRA, including other physical &
biological documentations by various researchers, much of which 
hadn't been available to previous serious reviews by the 
establishment, it was not "totally" impossible. A long shot, yes, 
but the majority of the reviewers chose not to go down in history 
as people refusing to at least keep some sort of open mind on 
the subject. I, for one, will never understand what _some_ people 
find so wrong with this. It sounds intelligent to me. Simple
open-mindedness vs close-mindedness. 

BTW, I finished reading Michael Swords and Mark Rodeghier's
writeups concerning  the workshop and found both of them
excellently done. (Readers can obtain same from The J. Allen 
Hynek Center for UFO Studies simply by subscribing to their
 journal; The International UFO Reporter, 2457 West Peterson 
Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60659.) Both gentlemen made 
presentations at that historic workshop. If other members of 
the workshop, review scientists and/or presenters, write any 
additional impressions of same for the list, I hope we all 
intend to read those as well.

Regarding Ed Stewart's  statements concerning the Sturrock 
workshop's findings:

Apparently, Ed is not happy with the preceding interpretation
, stating instead that this is Sturrock's own interpretation and 
that the other members of the committee didn't agree with his 
(Sturrock's) conclusion. (Attempting to draw a parallel to what 
happened with the Condon study years ago, but in reverse.)

But, from all I've been able to ascertain, this is not the case
as we shall momentarily see. If I've absorbed what I've read 
in the 60 or so postings (and it would be easy to miss
something), Ed believes that Condon was totally correct in 
his original conclusion. Inadvertently, however, although he
doesn't realize it, by saying this he is also saying  the 
inspired study by Paul Devereux regarding "earthlights" and
UFOs, and any other discoveries revealed along the way, can't have any value to science either ... Obviously, many of our
scientifically minded readers, skeptics and/or ET advocates will
immediately realize this is totally absurd.* I'm sure Ed may
attempt to rationalize his way out of this dilemma but, no matter
how hard he may try, it is obvious he will fail. Mind you, I'm not
putting Ed in this corner, he's put himself there. He's lost
points with intelligent skeptics as well as skeptic "believers." Regarding Ed's Statements that Jerome Clark is Attempting to Rewrite UFO History: To check the validity of Ed's interpretation, as Jerome had already said, any interested reader can click on any or all of the following to get the complete picture regarding the Sturrock Committee's findings, and decide for _themselves_ who is really attempting to rewrite history regarding same, Stewart or Clark. Don't listen to Clark, don't listen to Stewart and don't listen to me. Here it is, read it. (jc 6/17/01: at this date, copies can probably be obtained from JSE) http://www.abcnews.com/ Sturrock analysis of the Condon Study (pdf viewer necessary) Commentary by Bernhard Haisch, "Journal of Scientific Exploration" Journal of Scientific Exploration home page
jc 6/1/2006: Above links have been repaired. Also see the following: Rockefeller Report Sturrock Book Getting back to my original thoughts concerning Ed's approach to ufology. What _is_ interesting is what has happened to this original thread from its inception and why. I've noted that Stewart, although he claims Clark is doing this to him, keeps finding it necessary to prod and attack Clark (the person) with inflammatory language, rather than sticking to "Obergian facts." (i.e. facts directly concerning Oberg) As we said, that's what the title of these posts indicates we should be doing. Sound familiar? It's exactly what was going on back in 1996. Inflamatory Example (Stewart to Clark - 4th paragraph from the bottom) "You are a real scumbag. That is the only way I know to describe you and it has nothing to do with your intellectual dishonesty. That character flaw is separate." A partial effect of this is to slowly lead us all away from the original discussion and into generalization and low class character attacks, rather than focusing on _facts_ specifically relating to the original topic. Those that want to go back to the Neanderthal "days of yore," attacking one another, please feel free to do so. However, those that do are showing _your_ character flaws. If you can't make your case without this method of approach, you probably have no case. I'm sure Errol will have something interesting to say about it very shortly, if he hasn't been thinking about it already. This researcher proposes we get specific again and recalibrate our focus back to the original topic of this thread. Back to "Obergian Debunking": As a point of information: The Oberg/Cooper website (along with writings from other Obergian critics) should have indicated to anyone taking time to read it (them) that Mr. Oberg evidenced a certain myopic tendency regarding several UFO cases and at least two major researchers of the past, Hynek & McDonald; virtually slandering both of them. These things certainly deserve to be discussed honestly and openly and acknowledged by those that think _everything_ he says is gospel. It is also interesting to note that although the Oberg/Cooper site has been around for more than two years, neither Ed nor any other skeptic has seen fit to comment upon any of the parts that pertain to Oberg himself. (Even though the "Quebec Skeptics Society" personally asked me to mail them a copy of the rebuttals (link now brought up to date 2008), which I did. BTW,
if they found something dramatically wrong with them, shouldn't
they have responded? This was more than a year and a half ago.) Perhaps they would like to do so now. It is also interesting that a number of readers emailed me to tell me they felt many of the points I raised concerning Mr. Oberg's gaps of knowledge concerning Hynek, McDonald, and perhaps Cooper as well, were valid ones and yet, _no_ other skeptic has seen fit to take a moment to discuss some of those concerns. They've typically ignored them. Unfortunately, ignoring them doesn't make them go away. Mr. Oberg posted his own generalized negative comments re the site but never answered my invitation to "discuss" any specific item he felt was inaccurate. I even offered to amend said item, if he'd simply demonstrate its inaccuracy to most of us. Of course, again, it was easier (safer, less time consuming?) _not_ to bother. jc 8/21/2006: Jim Oberg finally did comment on my web site in June
2003. What we learn from those comments are detailed in my reply
to him located here. It's an eye-opener folks, you ought to read
it.
It should be readily apparent to most from the preceding that if there is any "failure" here, it is a failure of the _skeptics_, for the past two years, to respond to _specific_ criticisms that were raised regarding Mr. Oberg, stemming from his Cooper essay located at the websites below. Well, since the skeptics have finally brought up the subject, I'll focus in on some of those things in upcoming posts. As one can readily see, an honest discussion of these items is certainly long overdue and may even fit the main topic of this thread a bit more closely than some of the generalities we've all been reading. Skeptical of _some_ skeptics, (and ready to adjust anything that _most of us_ feel needs adjusting) Jerry Cohen Author: Oberg/Cooper rebuttals Website: http://www.li.net/~rjcohen/ UFOmind: http://www.ufomind.com/ufo/people/c/cohen/ * I'm certainly not saying Paul's efforts explain 100% of the UFOs reported but, if his data, after it is examined by the main scientific body proves to be correct, at least a portion of UFOs reported certainly could be from this source. P.S. To be helpful, as discussions progress, you can probably most easily maneuver between the essays from my site, as the URLs I have included there were intended to make dissection much easier. Page from the website of: CohenUFO.org

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