High Strangeness: Concerned Puzzlement

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Concerned Puzzlement

Sometimes it seems I will never make it through the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual and become a Certified UFO Field Investigator. I'm sure you feel that way, too. Part of it is my own fault, because I can barely get through a page of the Manual without finding something that I have to blog about, but part of it is because sometimes the things I'm supposed to be learning make my head hurt.

Come to think of it, the things that make my head hurt are always the things I feel I have to blog about. Take tonight's selection, a continuation of the chapter on "Reliability Assessment of Eyewitness Testimony." You may recall from an earlier post that I have already learned the following tips on assessing a witness' reliability:
  • If a witness surmises immediately that he or she is seeing a UFO, then he or she must be lying
  • If it takes a witness a few moments to surmise that he or she is seeing a UFO, after making a few wrong initial surmises...es, then he or she must be telling the truth
That made my head hurt so much that I had to put the Manual down and not look at it for three or four days. But tonight, spurred on by a profound feeling of responsibility to the human race, I opened it up again where I left off, and the first thing I came across was a section on how to deal with hoaxsters. Sensing the possibility for some serious head hurting, I proceeded cautiously... with good reason, it turned out.

"...since the hoaxer has everything to gain from further deception, a prime opportunity exists for giving the hoaxer enough rope to hang himself," the Manual tells me. "The procedure in this case it to act very serious, and believe everything with an expression of concerned puzzlement."

Now, I can honestly say -- and I am not bragging here, just stating a fact -- that there are few people in the world who can do an expression of concerned puzzlement the way I can do an expression of concerned puzzlement. It's my bread and butter expression. But, I have never used my expression of concerned puzzlement to give a hoaxster "enough rope to hang himself," and I'm not sure that I'd want to. It seems somehow beneath me, and, frankly, beneath my expression.

About that rope: "Few hoaxers can resist the ability to put someone on a little bit more," the Manual continues. "Extra details should be suggested: the witness will probably pick them up."

This gives me the most amazing expression of concerned puzzlement imaginable. Really, I just saw myself in the mirror and my expression is priceless. MUFON is seriously instructing me to suggest false facts to a witness if I "suspect" that the he or she is trying to perpetrate a hoax! Because of course the hoaxster will incorporate my suggestion that he played mah jong with an 8-foot tall Reptoid into his story without skipping a beat, thus exposing his treachery. Head. Hurts. Head. Hurts.

How about instead of feeding the hoaxster more rope, we instead pat him on the back and congratulate him for putting on such a good show and then thank him for an evening of lively entertainment. Do you know how hard it is to pull off a good hoax?

"Eventually," the Manual says, "the investigator may gently suggest to the witness that perhaps the sighting did not take place?" Oh, yes, the investigator may do that, because it sounds like just a fantastic way to close out an interview.

"Few hoaxsters can really manage a display of indignant anger at this point, while a true witness often will," the Manual concludes. You know who else can manage a display of indignant anger?

Me. It's my second expression.

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