Sunday, October 25, 2009

Strangeness: can you make any sense out of it?

Almost by definition, we can't make sense out of "strangeness". It's exactly because it doesn't make complete sense that it's "strange". But we probably would do well to at least think a little about it, because it is the core of what we love: Anomalies. I am going to try to mumble about a bit about the concept and relate it to how I have seen the UFO phenomenon develop over the years.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A very long time ago [early 1950s], Allen Hynek and Project Blue Book were trying to do a little better job at classifying UFO cases [this was an OK idea that didn't go anywhere by the way], and invented a " C/Sigma" graph, putting witness credibility on the Y-axis and "Strangeness" on the X-axis. Hynek felt that this might help with trying to more objectively sort out "unknowns". I've drawn my own version to the left. It differs from Hynek's in that it includes a person's subjective biasses. There's a "blue zone" below where our estimation of a person's low credibility convinces us to believe nothing he says whatsoever. There's a "red zone" on the right, where due to our most important beliefs or our unexamined prejudices about things that "just go too far" for us, we will not believe no matter who is telling us about them. It's in the "white zone" that we might be able to operate more or less "objectively". The graph speaks to me in that it brings to mind that there are people who are more suspicious and nervous [and have a larger blue zone], and there are people who have stronger prejudices about wider topics [and have a larger red zone. People who like anomalies have a broad white zone, but csicopians have a small one. The point is that all of us have a heavy dose of subjective non-empirical biasses and our "open playing fields" are not the same. Of course, it's even worse than this, as some of our "constrictors" are merely do to ignorance and bad information, and these are more easily broadened than the emotional ones. So our old friend Allen was trying to be a scientist in a non-scientific world, but good for him anyway. What, if anything, did we learn about UFOs thinking this way?-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't think that we learned very much, despite Allen thinking that we did. Somewhere, even published perhaps, there was a graph by Allen in which he suggested that the evidence showed that, counterintuitively, the credibility of the witness did not go down as the strangeness of the claim went up, but, rather, it was the other way. In my opinion he was only half right. My experience reading the cases is that you have similar mixes of witness credibility no matter the level of strangeness. And, this is what I would expect if the phenomenon were objectively real and not dependent on some human factor. But the idea of Strangeness gives me a few other thoughts which are so half-baked as to get a loud CAVEAT EMPTOR!. Whereas "strangeness" is easy to define as something which does not yet fit with available knowledge, it is maybe impossible to "quantify" strangeness even in rough ways [what constitutes "high strangeness" for instance?]. Nevertheless, we do it in UFOlogy all the time, rating a vehicle stop at higher sigma than a hovering disk. Entities, of course, are really high sigma, regardless of the near necessity that some intelligence is intimately involved with most of these cases. The graph above is not exactly a strangeness graph, but it is based on types of UFO cases often rated as higher or lower in strangeness. The graph is mine. It's based on my "numbers" of counted cases of various types, but is not drawn to any number scale, but to bring out distinctions. It is what I think our UFO experience might look like when seen through one lens. I see that experience changing in marked ways. Era One [WW2 to 1964] is an era some would call "low strangeness". It appears to the military to be like themselves--and so it appears to me, as well. By that I mean, it looks exactly like aerial technology of a type beyond our ability to manufacture. It is, to all appearances, non-terrestrial technology. SIGN believed that; Fournet believed that; Keyhoe and NICAP believed that; McDonald believed that---and they had darned good reasons to do so. UFOlogists who want a simple life [and therefore no excessive strangeness] would like to pretend that nothing went on after 1964 and typically continue to "live" there. But even for the strangeness fans though, this era IS the foundationstone of UFOlogy and must be "honored" by not conveniently being forgotten either. It DOES point to a likely ETH "solution" and people need to admit that and quit smirking at ETH-ers as if they were cretins. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Era Two then showed up. It was spectacular; moreso than any other. It was the age of close encounters of the second kind [plus "old-fashioned" CE3s where they weren't "abducting" people left right and center]. In these years, UFOlogy had a chance to get real physical data about the phenomenon on a regular basis, and, frankly, blew it. Landing traces galore; electrical effects on cars and other devices; physiological effects on witnesses and animals; even some mass-displacements--all the second-level research [labs et al] that one wants today and can no longer get. From 1965 to 1978 it was rampant. Then...nothing. We have played hob trying to get these sorts of cases since. This, by the way, is another reason to see the phenomenon as real beyond the subjective minds of the reporters. Why "they" decided to give us this shot, and why they decided to take it away, is probably something we'll never know [although I have a totally unbaked idea that I'll keep to myself--knowing how intolerant some of my "colleagues" in this business are]. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Era Three followed. Still plenty of UFOs around, but now they were more distant or at least not leaving any calling cards. CE3s morphed into CE4s [maybe] and became very "private" forms of UFOlogy. There were claims of "calling cards" here, but I've waited years for one responsible [and impressive] scientific piece of evidence. These beyond-imagining claims, exciting in the extreme, have been more a source of complete let-downs to me than anything in UFO history. To my way of viewing facts, 99% of these claims have been empty. I am ready to change at the presentation of the next one.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------There have been two "moments" in the chart's history which, to me, are unique. I'm calling them "punctuation points". The first is the late 1954 wave. It has none of the feel of the era it is embedded in. It is, rather than technologists flying about on high, more like a jail-break of the insane. If some leprechaun came to me and told me that Puck and his Bogles had decided to boggle the ET-ers minds with a big show, I'd at least listen to him. The second punctuation was 1957. The feel of this thing IS like technologists. It's like a thin sharp experiment to see...what? Whatever it was about, I'm sure we failed the test. In fact, it feels to me that we've failed ALL these tests [at least as societies].------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just for fun, here are a few "strange" things, strange beyond Era One type strangeness anyway. They do not at all feel like "of the same piece" as far as type of technology or, perhaps even of type of entity. Left top is a road encounter. A friend of mine is the ace researcher on this one. I'll not go into detail on any of these--just a remark. This case featured what seems to me to have no necessary link to ET-technologists flying about at all. The phenomenology has a frightened looking "faun" [?] encased in a "bubble" manifesting near the driver in the car. ET? Magonia? ----Right top has what to me seems to be a hi-tech water vessel of some sort, plowing through the waves complete with "ripples" breaking at the prow. Flying Saucers? or some "blundered interface" from far,far,away?----Left middle is a diving suited character [totally immobile] floating just above the head of one of the two witnesses like aimless capsule from where? Tau Ceti? Zorganst-of-the-extraterrestrial-garage? Imitative Fairyland?----Right center has a half-sphere techno-bubble appearing in the park in front of two people and then "dissolving" before their eyes. Yeh, that's normal. But normal where? An ET screw-up, or a modernized Fairy Circle?----Bottom left has a case investigated by one of the all-time important UFOlogists, Dr. Claude Poher. It has floating "devils" in and out of a glowing BOL. Poher was impressed. So am I. But by what? ET or not ET? THAT is the question. ----Bottom right has the sort of thing all of us see everyday: half-men suspended in the air carrying cargo to a glowing BOL. If that is not some kind of blundered intrusion, then....well....bbbbbbbbbbbb.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------So, what am I claiming today? I can claim authoritatively that I don't know what I'm talking about [but would prefer it if you didn't make a big thing about it--you know, peaceful retirement and all]. I can also claim a high personal quotient of strangeness even if I can't define it. And one last point: my own case files have an idiosyncratically collected file cabinet drawer full of cases I label high-strangeness [ex. cut-off light beams is one of the subcategories] . When you tote them up calendar-wise, THEY fall into the Era Two period preferentially [markedly] also. What were those guys "up there" doing?


  1. 1965-1975 is a Psychedelic age. I don't mean that UfOs and close encounters of that tine were hallucinations. But UFOs phenomena is known reflect expectation and the spirit of time. How? I don't know.

    1. Actually, not true. Studies have shown pretty straightforwardly that UFOs do not meet the expectations and spirit of the time. One example is the lack of new cases following the blockbuster movie Close Encounters. Also, the exact opposite things sometimes co-exist "popularly", like Hopkins-style CE4s vs John Mack-style CE4s. That UFOs do not follow publicity styles is also shown by the sudden rise "out of the blue" in characteristics like triangular shape or CE2 em cases etc. Waves have never been able to be linked to pop expectations.



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