Monday, November 25, 2013

Is Blood Thicker Than Balderdash?

After alienating Kevin Randle over a Dream Team controversy involving rumors of photographic slides showing an otherworldly being, the irked Paul Kimball stirred a dust-up with his uncle, physicist/ufology researcher/"Roswell-was-an-ET-crash" proponent Stan Friedman.

Please note that both Stan and Paul are citizens of The Great White North but their respective essays lay myth to the concept of a “gray Canadian.”

In his essay entitled “Paul Kimball's UFO Debunking and Irrationality" Stan responded to a essay by his nephew that challenged him on a number of points.  Paul even referred to Stan's concept of nuclear-powered rockets as interstellar spacecraft as "balderdash."  Youch!  

(Paul’s essay, “The Illogic of the Crashed ET Spacecraft Myth,” can be read here.)

The main theme of Stan’s essay is how educated and intelligent people can act so irrational when it comes to debunking certain ufological beliefs.  After citing a dubious debunking statement by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, Stan mentions his nephew’s law degree, indicating Paul is of above average intelligence, and how Paul has studied UFOs.  But then Stan illustrates how Paul’s intelligence fails on the topic of crashed alien spacecraft 

Regarding Roswell Paul asked why would any alien spacecraft crash on this planet if the ETs had such superior technology?

Stan countered that a craft designed to travel in a planetary atmosphere wouldn’t have the same durability as the mothership that brought it here.  He gave the example of an aircraft carrier being akin to a mothership while the more fragile airplanes launched from it would be like what crashed at Roswell.

Paul also repeated the skeptic’s take on the A-Flying-Saucer-Really-Crashed-Near-Roswell belief, how the details couldn’t remain covered up for so long since the 1947 incident.  Someone would have leaked the fantastic truth by now.

Stan countered with examples such as the Manhattan Project that employed 60,000 people who were able to keep tight-lipped and didn't sink any ships.

Responding to his nephew’s snark re: ““Stan Friedman’s nuclear rockets balderdash” the peeved uncle wrote: “Why Paul is in denial about nuclear rockets I don’t know, though I suppose lawyers don’t dig into such matters.”  Stan added that one of his books has photos of real nuclear-powered rockets.

Years ago Stan spoke at a local college here in Plattsburgh, NY.  After his presentation a smart-ass student from the college radio station – a David-Letterman-wannabe – interviewed Stan, making all sorts of jokes such as references to alien abductions and anal probes.  To his credit Stan remained unflappable, didn’t take the bait, but calmly responded to each inane question. 

But with his response to his nephew’s criticism Stan allowed himself to be a bit testy.  Of course family does make it more personal.

While I don't agree with all of his views Stan does raise one good point in his essay.  He refers to an either/or statement attributed to writer Isaac Asimov.

While Isaac was known for being imaginative with his fiction he took the skeptical high road with his non-fiction works, particularly on the topic of UFOs.  He observed one time that if aliens were visiting this planet they would either remain hidden or reveal themselves to mankind.

As if there is no middle ground between those extremes.

In both science and fiction there are shades of gray.

Parting note: On the topic of nuclear spacecraft there’s this article with links at “DailyDirt: Nuclear Power In Space.”


Paul Kimball said...

One of the more common refrains of the "cosmic watergate" crowd is that secrets can indeed be kept, after which they usually trot out the Manhattan Project as an example (Stan Friedman does this all the time). Here's the problem - they either don't know their history, or they do know their history but are hoping their audience doesn't. The truth is that secrecy on the Manhattan Project (which only lasted for a few years - not the 65+ that would be required for Roswell) was breached fairly early on, and more than once - google the following names: Klaus Fuchs (pictured above), Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, George Koval and Theodore Hall. Alas, those are names that the cosmic watergate crowd would rather not tell you about because they are inconvenient facts that get in the way of the impossibly implausible narrative they want to sell you.

Doug said...

It's impossible for me to see you use "alienating" in your opening line and see it as coincidence. But don't tell me the truth; I prefer my conspiracy.

X. Dell said...

I've always said that a good debunker is worth her weight in plutonium.

I see what you mean here. I don't really take Friedman all that seriously, but his point about debunkers is well taken, and in fact probably do more to drive irrational beliefs than clarify issues. If one debunks well, they address the issues raise, at least make an effort to abstain from glibness, and explain why, when they weigh their evidence, the exotic explanation comes up wanting. Instead, many rely on comfortable assumptions that lay unexamined.