High Strangeness: The Edge of Reality

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Edge of Reality

I don't usually dog ear my books, but I can't help it with "The Edge of Reality," the UFO book by Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee that I have been reading recently. The observations the two Doctors make in the book are so intelligent and original that I keep marking the ones I know I'll want to go back to later as I continue my research into Dr. Hynek's life work.

This week I have been dog earing like crazy, as the discussions of the two Doctors have been mirroring my reading in the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual...

UFO sighted over Rouen, France, 1954. Is it any less real because it was sighted in France? Read on...

Commenting on the interview techniques used by groups such as MUFON, Dr. Vallee comments that "... the approach to questionnaires is usually to appear scientific! So first you have to give us the duration in seconds and the altitude, the degrees and direction of the compass that it came from; then at the end they have two miserable little lines for the witness to say what he really feels. It seems to me that that's conditioning the witnesses to remember only certain things, to recall only certain details, and it's doing exactly the opposite of what should be done."

"It would be as ridiculous," the discussion moderator replies, "as an analysis of dreams where you would first ask, 'how long was the dream?'"

"Yes, and what time of the night was it," Dr. Hynek adds, "and what compass direction was your head pointing when you woke up?"

That's why I love these guys. They know how ridiculous it is to obsess over forcing the UFO phenomenon to fit into a rational framework. Instead, they recognize that the absurdity of the phenomenon may well be its only defining characteristic, and any serious investigation has to take that into account...

Trouble is, that makes everything harder. And it entails a kind of thinking and processing of information that can't be taught by way of a Field Investigator's Manual. Sorry, MUFON.

How absurd can it get? This story related by Dr. Vallee gives you a good idea:

"I am thinking of a case in France that has been followed closely. The witness has gone back several years later to see the man who investigated the case; the first sighting happened in '67. The witness went back to see the investigator in '73 to tell him that something new and very important had happened. He had traveled about 200 miles to the investigator's house, but when he finally reached it he couldn't find the words to express what he had wanted to say. He said, 'You know, I can't express what I want to tell you. I have something to tell you, it's important for me to tell it to you, but I can't.' And he left completely puzzled. There was nothing they could do to retrieve it."

That's an amazing story. It's not like the witness drove 200 miles and then forgot what he was going to say. He realized that there was no way to "say it" in any way he could imagine. He literally did not have the words. And what did we lose as a result? Is this important information still locked in this Frenchman's head? That's going to drive me crazy.

And -- Oh, damn, this is weird. I have the perfect way to end this post, but I can't find the keys on my keyboard to express it!

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