High Strangeness: Delusional Witnesses

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Delusional Witnesses

Fresh off telling me how to handle UFO hoaxsters, the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual is now telling me what to do if I am interviewing a UFO witness who turns out to be delusional. This should be good.

The Manual says that my chances of encountering a delusional witness are quite small, and I hope that's true. Luckily, the Manual gives me some handy ways to tell if the person I am interviewing is delusional. There are four behaviors to watch out for:
  1. Heightened suspiciousness
  2. Certainty as to the sighting's meaning
  3. Belief that he or she was singled out in same way
  4. Easy integration of the sighting into his system of beliefs
This is getting personal. Since I began writing this blog I have seen three UFOs, and while I don't claim to have any heightened suspiciousness or certainty of the sightings' meanings, #3 and #4 do hit pretty close to home. The experiences were very meaningful to me and in a way I feel that they were meant to happen. That's not quite the same as believing that I was singled out, but it's close enough... I also have had no problem whatsoever integrating the sightings into my system of beliefs. So I guess I am delusional. I can't wait to tell my wife.

The Manual goes on to say that while a non-delusional witness may well believe that the UFO he or she saw came from outer space, the sighting "will remain strange and problematical to the witness." But, wait a minute: I feel that my sightings were strange and problematical, too! Well, I really feel that they were problematic, but I'm not grading an English paper here.

Anyway, the point is, if I have some of the characteristics of a delusional person and some of the characteristics of a non-delusional person, what kind of a delusional/non-delusional hybrid am I? Does being at least partially delusional disqualify me from being a Certified UFO Field Investigator? God, I hope not, because I really want to be able to pass judgement on other UFO witnesses in an official capacity.

In the end, it's hard to say what I am to do with a suspected delusional UFO witness once I have determined that he or she is delusional, because the Manual never actually tells me. It doesn't tell me that the delusional witness should be challenged, or egged on, or given an expression of concerned puzzlement. It doesn't even tell me that the delusional witness didn't actually see a UFO, because clearly he or she did, or else he or she wouldn't have anything to be delusional about.

So, since it is left to me to decide what to do with my delusional witness, I think it's only fair to treat him or her just the same as I would any non-delusional or semi-delusional witness. Which is to say, exactly the opposite of how MUFON tells me to treat them.

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