The Coral Reef
By Graham Conway - April 1998

Our most recent issue of UFO*BC Quarterly (Vol.3, No.1) carried a hard hitting, cuttingly analytical critique of UFOlogists in general, and in particular their historically demonstrated lack of cohesion ("The Rantings of a UFO Joker" by Joe Daniels).

This all too convincing exposť by Joe Daniels of London, Ontario, is only one of many similar calls to "rally round the flag, boys" (oops, girls too). In fact an identical cry came from F. Banks, of London, England His letter was entitled, "UFOlogy Unite", and appeared in a recently published British magazine.(1)

Let me make it abundantly clear, I agree wholeheartedly with everything these two gentlemen have to say. It should be stated loudly and frequently. However, Mr. Daniel’s article leaves the reader with the unstated impression that, (dare I say it?) the SCIENCE of UFOlogy is the only discipline to suffer the barbs and arrows of such misfortune.

I think not. Fragmentation and disunity is not a singular quality. Permit me to elaborate.

On April 28th 1987, P. Huntington, director of the Center for International Studies at Harvard and (then) current president of the American Political Science Association, was rejected for membership in the academy after what the New York Times called "furious internal debate". The fight against Huntington was led by Serge Langra, a Yale mathematician who called the former’s work, "pseudoscience" and "nonsense". . . (sound familiar?). . . .the prejudices within the scientific community are multifold. The tendency among the "hard scientists" is to look down upon the social scientists. There also are hierarchies within the social sciences. . . . (2)

Moving into loftier heights. Gene Capriotti, chairman (then) of Ohio State’s astronomy department scorns the work being done on his own campus by electrical engineers and volunteers acting as radio astronomers. "They do that work because they aren’t really qualified to do anything else in astronomy".

Frank Tipler, (then) an astrophysicist at Tulane University, calls their work a boondoggle. "They are like evangelicals - this is a religion", he maintains. "They think these people will come to save us from ourselves." (3)

Stephen Jay Gould, who taught biology, geology and the history of science at Harvard University, had bitterly attacked Fred Hoyle's contention that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx at the British Museum, is a fake. He called Hoyle the "eminent cosmologist of years past". Gould said his argument is an "ill considered speculation" with a "truly rotten core". He also expressed himself as "outraged . . . . by the ignorant presentation of Hoyle and his colleagues".(4)

Should the reader consider these very few examples less than valid due to age, then I would hasten to draw your attention to the more recent 1995 example where Dr. John Mack was pilloried by his erstwhile "friends" and colleagues at Harvard Medical School. This Pulitzer prize winner’s crime centered on the faculty committee investigation into whether Dr. Mack's work met professional standards and whether it could be considered research on human subjects, which requires special permission.

Attempts were made to remove his tenure as a practicing research psychiatrist. It was widely thought that some of his colleagues were reportedly unhappy that Harvard's name became associated with Dr. Mack's study of 120 patients who say aliens took them away in flying saucers for sexual experiments.

In the end the Harvard Medical School decided not to censure Dr. Mack, who received an unusual public warning from the Dean, not to let his enthusiasm for UFO research steer him from the path of professionalism.(5)

The preceding examples will, I think, suffice to point out that the polished world of the scientific community hides an interior turmoil.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Allen Hynek said, "ridicule is not part of the scientific method"(6), to which it would seem that he too suffered from a blind eye, even if he was an astronomer.

Should the reader think that only the scientific empire builders suffer this described affliction, then I beg to differ.

A fairly steady reading of either newspapers, magazines, or books will quickly reveal that major oxymoron, "the intelligence community", plus police departments(large and small) and military organizations, all vie for top honours in "how to screw your counterparts". Nor should they be regarded as anything like isolated examples, for I haven’t even touched upon the industrial or market place complex.

As a concluding example let’s take this stop press item. "(It) is in chaos (and) seems to be a hodge podge of conflicting philosophies, infighting managers and good intentions gone astray in a sea of bureaucracy". . . . Well, I think that pretty well sums up EVERYBODY but I should tell you that the writer in this instance was referring to the Health Ministry!(7) Clearly the epidemic is more widespread than we imagined.

During my research I came across what was to me a rather interesting scientific paradox that I think is certainly worthy of mention, if only to demonstrate that not all members of the various disciplines are as reluctant to venture down new paths, despite what the public may perceive to the contrary.

An organization entitled the Society for Scientific Exploration was founded in 1982 to study and assess anomalous phenomena ignored or disdained by many scientists. According to the SSE's position paper, such topics "tend to fall outside the mainstream of scientific activity because their purported properties appear to be incompatible with established scientific knowledge."

Apparently the founders of the SSE, as well as its current membership have little interest in holding the current knowledge base of science as sacred. They are interested in expanding science's boundaries.

The SSE's position is to provide a forum for scientists and the public through which ideas, evidence and interpretations can be presented and discussed openly through their meetings and through an interesting publication, the "Journal of Scientific Exploration".(8)

At this point I can only exclaim, "FANTASTIC''....how come it took me sixteen years to discover they existed? Where were they hiding? Furthermore where have they been when the Skeptical Inquirer and its team of contributors have indulged in its traditional hatchet job on its carefully selected "flavour of the month" topic? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that the SSE have a SWAT team on stand by, ready to assist the beleaguered and mortally published. Please, tell me they frequently do that.

But I digress. When I set out to write a two sided coin article, my intent was to focus on something that seems to be consistently overlooked. Simply put, it is this. In the past fifty years that UFOlogists have been scorned, slandered, ridiculed and fired from jobs for expounding what are deemed, by so called rational thinkers, as "pseudoscience" and "unfounded notions". Yet, all this has today culminated in a socially acceptable discussion of an enigma that has few answers, but a multitude of questions.

Around the world are the unknown foot soldiers who spent lonely years in the pursuit of a phenomenon that refuses to be categorized. All these collective researcher’s bodies have brought UFOlogy at last into public view. They, in accumulation, represent the "coral reef" of this new science. What’s more, "they did it their way". I know that to be true, because the disclaimed hallowed halls of academia have loudly disclaimed any participation in the public’s present acknowledgment of a wild and weird topic that is now firmly entrenched in many aspects of today’s culture.

Just goes to show, you CAN get from there to here, without using any recognized paths, and it would also seem, without a map.

References:
1. "Sightings" Magazine (British) October 1997
2/3/4. Fate Magazine August I987
5. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Arkansas 4th Aug. 1995
6. D. Perkins, New Mexican, Santa Fe, 5th Jan. 1998
7. Frank Bucholtz, Surrey Leader, 25th Feb. 1998
8. Fate Magazine May I993. . . . (N.B.) see sims@jse.com or 605-593-8581 @ Stanford, Calif.


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