MUFON VERSUS THE NEW AGE: Is your local group part of a scientific investigation - or pote

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MUFON VERSUS THE NEW AGE: Is your local group part of a scientific investigation - or potential pickings for a "cult" membership? by W.L. Garner, Jr. In the last couple of years, MUFON meetings, publications, and conversations at all levels have seen an escalating tempo of controversy between the "pseudo scientists" on one hand and the "new age psychics" on the other. Like a festering wound, the controversy is beginning to affect MUFON's effectiveness and reputation. Unfortunately, many of the noisy antagonists on both sides are venting their emotional wants and have little or no conCern for MUFON's stated purpose or the scientific method. MUFON purports to be an international scientific organization that believes a concentrated scientific study by dedicated investigators and researchers will provide the ultimate answer to the UFO enigma. A scientific organization dedicated to scientific study must establish and must demand adherence to protocols for its investigators and researchers or its reports and conclusions simply]y become more meaningless babble. Personal beliefs are threatened only to the extent each individual chooses to expose his beliefs to the available scientific evidence. The scientific protocols for the MUFON Field Investigator (FI) are well established in the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual, the essence of which is laid out in Chapter II, "The Field Investigator's Code of Ethics." Properly documenting the evidence is an essential scientific first step. Simply stated, the FI's primary responsibility is to identify and document the evidence as objectively as possible without causing any harm to the percipient or others. It is not to publicize the incident or to pass final judgement on the evidence or the percipient. Thus, every effort should be made to record a percipient's experience exactly as that person experienced it. In practice, the FI first must make a decision as to whether there is the potential for acquiring enough factual evidence to justify the time and expense he/she will spend acquiring and documenting it. If he/she decides to proceed, there are provisions in the protocol that provide the investigator an opportunity to question or express doubt about any part or all of the evidence reported, but he/she must not ignore or change any part of that evidence. Protocols for scientific researchers in the various disciplines are much more complex and demanding, and usually require extensive training in each particular discipline. Protocols for the scientific method began in mathematics with rules for logic, stemming from the protocol that all propositions which are not themselves self-evident must be derived from others that are self-evident. From this simple beginning with clear-cut answers, protocols have become far more complex, encompassing, and difficult as the scientific method has been applied to more and more areas of nature and life. UFOs, extraterrestrial aliens, abductions, telepathy, out-of--body experiences, etc., are all valid areas for scientific investigation but scientific investigation demands the protocols of specific research objectives, techniques, and proofs. One or more individuals espousing grandiose revelations may sound authentic and compelling, but without scientific validation it is useless gossip. One major hurdle in investigating these types of claims is the necessity for independent confirmation (feedback); without it nothing is scientifically established. Another is the patience and self-discipline to avoid jumping to conclusions until enough scientific evidence is in to be able to draw valid conclusions. The human mind is still the greatest mystery, capable of creating or wiping out memories, biomedical conditions and even whole personalities. These changes can result from a wide variety of traumas, and sometimes from just wishes, desires or needs. Interactions with entities or extraterrestrial aliens may or may not be one of the causes. Those of you who have suffered through the terminal illness of a loved one, or who have worked with the results of childhood trauma, may have witnessed some of these psychological manifestations. Science is just beginning to scratch the surface in trying to understand the reality behind all of this. For MUFON to be a viable scientific organization there must be continuous, aggressive efforts at all levels to keep all activities directed toward scientific objectives. At the level where activities are directed primarily towards the investigation of alleged UFO incidents, that mandate is comparatively simple to pursue. The protocols for that are laid out in the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual. At any level where activities are more involved with public relations, meetings, and publications, that mandate is infinitely more difficult. Keeping discussions, meetings, and publications aimed toward improving scientific skills and understanding is much harder, particularly if you also want to keep it attractive for a wide variety of members. The conflict between MUFON's stated objectives and the New Age proponents' practices are most obvious at meetings. Personal, even if sincere, tales of otherworldly experiences presented as unquestionable, factual events may improve attendance, but they add little or nothing to anyone's scientific understanding of whatever may be going on, or to the skills needed to investigate such claims. It is not even an acceptable method of documenting these incidents. At its best, it risks psychological damage to fragile personalities, both speakers and attendees, for the sake of attendance. At its worst, by definition it turns your organization into a cult. The director who plans your meetings and issues your publications has a narrow and difficult path to follow. The difference between presenting a controversial experience as part of a training program to improve investigators' skills versus presenting it as entertainment or recruitment may be difficult for some to fathom; but, when scientific objectives and standards are sacrificed for entertainment by unverified propaganda, your group has already begun the transformation from a scientific organization into a cult. Mr. Garner is MUFON's State Director for Louisiana. --- FMail 0.96g * Origin: * On Topic? What's that? <-> FidoNet UFO Moderator * (1:2430/2112.3)

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