Sunday, August 7, 2011
Wonders in the Sky (and nonsense in the book)
David J. Hufford, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania provides the forward to Jacques Vallee’s and Chris Aubeck’s book (pictured above).
Professor Hufford is erudite and insightful.
Here are some examples from his Foreward:
I [Hufford] was pursuing the heretical idea that folk belief traditions might actually incorporate accurate observations…
[Vallee in his books, Anatomy of a Phenomenon and Passport to Magonia] recognized the difference between the core phenomenology of [UFO] reports and the local language and interpretations that clothed that core in traditional accounts.
Criticizing conventional UFO investigators for “confusing appearance and reality” [Vallee] said that “The phenomenon has stable, invariant features….But we have also had to note carefully the chameleonlike character of the secondary attributes of the sightings.
The willingness of [Vallee and Aubeck] to cast a very wide net, andn ot to allow the particular cultural interpretations of events to limit their view, offers us a remarkable opportunity to seek patterns that may lead to new understandings.
Those with a view of these matters narrowly focused on a particular interpretation, especially the extraterrestrial idea, may be annoyed by the mixing of the aerial and the religious, the political and the mystical and more.
The problem with “spaceship” is not that it is anomalous; it is that it is an interpetation rather than an observation.
But Vallee and Aubeck undercut these judicious remarks by Professor Hufford by making these comments in their Introduction:
We will show that unidentified flying objects have had a major [sic] impact not only on popular culture but on our history, on our religion…
…the fact would remain that an unexplained phenomenon has played and continues to play a fantastically important role in shaping our belief systems, the way we view our history and the role of science.
…their [UFOs] impact has shaped human civilization in important ways.
Vallee’s and Aubeck’s hubris astounds.
UFOs have never had a “major” impact on humanity or civilization or history or religion.
The phenomenon has always been a remote and peripheral aspect of societal life, of human existence.
UFOs, today, are as inconsequential to humanity and society as a whole as they have always been, despite Vallee’s insistence that UFOs have been and are integral to life on Earth.
Vallee’s view is egocentric, megalomanic almost.
His view typifies that of those, generally, who are absorbed by the pheonomenon.
Irritated by Stephen Hawking’s postion vis a vis UFOs – “I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?” – Vallee and Aubeck don’t get it:
The persons seeing UFOs are not cranks and weirdos. Hawking is wrong. The people who study UFOs are the cranks and weirdos – Vallee and Aubeck among them.