Society for Explanation of the Uninvestigated

Dr. J. Allen Hynek's tongue-in-cheek name for those scientists who dismiss the UFO phenomenon a priori.

Related reading and notable quotes:

J. Kenneth Arnette: "Skeptics continue to work on debunking...while simultaneously ignoring the empirical data and replicable results...Such efforts reek of intellectual dishonesty..."  Book review, J. Scientific Exploration 26, 1, Spring 2012, p. 211 

Stephen E. Braude: "Scholarly maturity too often leads to loss of a sense of wonder over the remaining mysteries of nature...behavior... an expression of deep intellectual cowardice, typically expressed as a kind of arrogant posturing."  Editorial, J. Scientific Exploration 23, 1, Spring 2009, p. 2 

Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation.  1998.  ISBN 0-679-77806-3.  445 pgs, 87 B&W photos; chapter references and index.  $16.95 [Vi]

Winston Churchill, British Statesman, author, prime minister: "Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened"

Albert Einstein, 1921 Nobel Laureate in Physics: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods"

Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, introduced the term "cognitive dissonance" to describe the discomfort from conflicting cognitions. E.g., "space is too vast to have alien visitors" yet "people are reporting them". His 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails, about followers of a UFO cult, chronicled a real event [with pseudonyms]

Stanton T. Friedman, "Pseudoscience of anti-ufology"; MUFON UFO Journal, June 2002, 410 pgs. 21-22.  This article includes Friedman's Basic Rules for Debunkers:

  1. Don't bother me with the facts; my mind is made up

  2. What the public and media don't know, don't tell them

  3. If you can't attack the data, attack the people; it's easier

  4. Do your research by proclamation, rather than investigation

Budd Hopkins in Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods: "A skeptic once said: 'People who take UFO abductions seriously are cultists; it's really nothing more than a cult.'  But cults are all belief and no miracles, while [abductions] are all miracles and no beliefs."  I.e., abductees are truly baffled and don't know what to believe

David M. Jacobs observes: "All debunkers make one or more of three fundamental mistakes.  They do not know the evidence, they ignore the evidence, or they distort the evidence."  J. Scientific Exploration 20, 2, Summer 2006, p. 303

Samuel Johnson said: "Human experience, which is constantly contradicting theory, is the great test of truth."  See

Thomas Kuhn wrote in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: "Modern scientists are extraordinarily resistant to recognize the simple existence of observable facts...If there is neither an existing theory nor a competing theory to explain an observation, the observation is of no interest to establishment science...But to reject one paradigm [theory] without simultaneously substituting another is to reject science itself"

Max Planck, 1918 Nobel Laureate in Physics: "Science advances one funeral at a time; a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it"

Karl Raimund Popper, Austro-British philosopher and professor: "If you insist on strict proof in the empirical sciences, you will never benefit from experience, and never learn from it how wrong you are"

Bertrand Russell, 1950 Nobel Laureate in Literature: "Anger at contrary opinion is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of no good reason for thinking as you do...Be on guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants".  Unpopular Essays: An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1950)

Ian Stevenson, Univ. of Virginia Professor of Psychiatry famous for collecting cases suggestive of reincarnation: "A common and astonishing feature of the opposition to scientific advance is the certainty with which it is offered."  Reprinted essay on "Scientists with Half-Closed Minds", J. Scientific Exploration 22, 1, Spring 2008, p. 133 

Ron Westrum, UFO abductions as a hidden event; pgs 532 - 540, Alien Discussions: Proc. of the Abduction Study Conference Held at MIT, Cambridge, MA.  1994.  ISBN 0-9644917-0-2.  [NC]

Hidden event: a widespread but under-reported phenomenon that may be unsuspected by society as a whole, and with a life course typically running through three stages:

  1. Uncorrelated observations -- noticed by individuals but not published; treated as a curiosity, an isolated event, noise, or experimental error

  2. Controversy -- events come to public attention when someone, an advocate with opinionated persistence, notices there is more than one of them, but their existence and nature remain moot; aid comes as additional documentation, from other observers; denial continues for those unwilling to confront the new reality and its effect on existing institutions

  3. Acceptance / rejection -- event information becomes standardized and enters the matrix of scientific knowledge or is definitely placed outside of it; societal changes may follow; non-standard aspects may continue to be rejected until they are better understood

In the first two stages, supposed "experts" in academia are (a) ignorant, (b) unaware of their ignorance, and (c) contributing to the inhibition of reporting.  Historical examples: meteorites, ball lightning, battered child syndrome.  The UFO phenomenon in general, not just alien abductions, is in Stage 2.