Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Human Element

We live in a world of uncertainty.  Trouble brewing in the Middle East, yet again.  The Ebola virus making its presence known in this country...the United States...while ravaging parts of western Africa.  Other health concerns from the recent migration patterns across the US southern border...perceived in some cases...real in others. Economies on the brink of collapse, or painfully on a slow mend...choose your country.   Attempting to digest the above makes the arguments concerning UFOs woefully pitiful in this context. 

As a registered nurse, I silently hold my breath with the current situation concerning the Ebola infections of two nurses, the death of one patient, and the possible exposure of hundreds of others.  Though I'm not one to raise the flag of hysteria, I silently wonder based on the current strategy of my government, ie, the CDC and other government agencies.  It's not that I distrust the protocols set in place, but I worry about the human element in this equation.  Protocols and algorithms look good on paper, in fact, most are perfect in logic.  Its the human element that throws a wrench into the gears...we as humans are fallible.

One of my neighbors is a genius concerning the financial markets.  He and I talk weekly on the current financial health of the country and California.  He's a whiz concerning the stock market utilizing analytic data bases to guide his decisions...purely abstract approach to market analysis.  He doesn't flinch much when markets drop, as they are destine to do at any given point in time.

I tend to look at the stock market in a concrete point of view, or simply as a human function regarding our confidence in our government and economy...for most of the population, the stock market is a psychological indicator that effects our emotions more than that of our investments.  This is the human element of market influx and reactions to abstract concepts such as quantitative easing or the rise and fall of GDP.  We humans are fallible and yearn for reassurance.

I remember having to piece together production and delivery schedules as a program manager back in my Air Force Systems Command days.  These schedules were derived from PERT, MBO and other gold standard policies, all perfect until said schedules were enacted, yet devoid of the human element that dooms perfection, morphing it to fragmentation and uncertainty.  The government has a hard time with the simple concept that "shit happens" and that it can strike at any time because we as humans are fallible.

The same human element was encountered when I was the Director of Nursing at an orthopedic rehab and long term care facility.  Staffing schedules were painstakingly constructed, yet doomed to failure before the ink dried.   Once again, that all too familiar lightning bolt out of the blue...the human factor...intervened with the all too predictable results.

Since this is blog represents a skeptical view towards UFO, the human element is present in most, if not all, of the cases listed.  Most UFO cases are fascinating in their own right.  They tell a story.  Most have themes and plots, not to mention a thesis statement(s) which may appear plausible or may reach into the realms of insanity.  Despite the rational or illogical premises, all have a common thread and point of origination...a singularity.  There is a human factor involved and despite our best efforts there is confusion and uncertainty for we are fallible. 


  1. This is the biggest problem with all of these UFO stories. They all come down to "trusting" the witness to be accurate in their recollections of what they saw.
    There are so many factors that come into play. First comes the actual perception of the event. If the witness has a preconceived notion about what they think they saw, they will alter their testimony to conform to that preconception. Then there is the time between retention and recalling the event. The longer the time, the more likely that the memory will become distorted. Additionally, outside influences can affect the recollection of the event. One witness might influence the other or those interrogating the witness can influence their memories. These are just a few major points. I suggest reading Elizabeth Loftus' book about eyewitness testimony for starters.

  2. Tim, human fallibility is prevalent in the UFO theme. We want to trust witness accounts because we want these incredible stories to be true regardless of the flaws screaming out. All of the UFO stories, when looked at in detail, have cracks and it generally starts with the witnesses themselves.

  3. Hi Tim:

    The singularity at the core of the issue is (or at least should be) what are UFOs; or what is the nature of the UFO phenomenon. To my mind, this is the fundamental question that demands to be addressed, but is more often ignored.

    Stating an approach such as your “skeptical view towards UFO” needs to be clearly defined. (I am skeptical of anyone who feels the need to state a fixed position). For example, you state in your profile, “I believe that most if not all [UFO] events or stories have a reasonable explanation.” Is this then a matter of faith (a belief) for you? What is your justification (unique knowledge) for believing this to be true?

    What is the difference between a UFO event and a UFO story? Stories are central to the human existence as recognizable patterns of information that we all use to make sense of our world and share that understanding to others. A story reveals the meaning of what otherwise would remain an unbearable sequence of sheer happenings. Certainly, our desire for story patterns is so powerful that we see them even when they are not there. But in terms of our experience human verbal behavior is the final reference for any and all measurement.

    “The proficient scientist recognizes the limits of…measurement devices and attempts to attenuate or obviate the contribution of measurement artifacts…Unfortunately, it is too often forgotten that the ultimate measurement device will be some aspect of human behavior. Ultimately, the complex data matrices, the impressive recordings from mechanical or electromagnetic sensory extensions, and the perceived activities of the environments inside and outside the human skin, evoke changes in perhaps the most complicated of all response-measurement systems: private human behavior, i.e., “thought.” Expressed in another language, human thought responses and related behaviors are the final measurement devices, the terminal reference points.”

    Persinger, M., The Journal of Research in PSI Phenomena (1976, pp. 72-73).

    Kind regards, Tom

  4. I assume you are addressing me since we both are Tim's. I state that it is my opinion that MOST, if not all, cases can be explained (not I do leave myself the option and it is not a hard stance as you seem to imply). This is proven by the high number of cases that CAN be explained. As best I can tell this is a fact based on years of collecting UFO reports by various UFOlogists and UFO organizations. I realize that some people want the number of unidentifieds in a UFO database to be some very high value but it seems that the general number ranges between 5 and 15%. If witnesses are proven to be mistaken 85-95% of the time, it seems possible that the remaining 5-15% are also possibly mistakes that are just reported so inaccurately that identification is not possible. If I see data that indicates otherwise, I am willing to accept it. In my opinion, that data has not presented itself.
    Is my statement based on faith? I don't think so because of what I see from the data. Are their cases without explanations? Yes. However, that does not mean that these are observations of exotic events. There is just not enough evidence in these anecdotal reports to draw that conclusion.
    I want to see better evidence but it seems to be that the only evidence that UFO proponents seem to dig up are age old cases that really do not resolve the issue. Proponents that state UFOs are some form of exotic event need to find ways to get better data if they want to change opinions outside their community.

    1. Hi Tim:

      I am aware of your position based on your published work. I have to admit that I am not very interested in playing the game of ETH, or changing anyone’s opinions.

      Menzel’s theory is quite alright and can explain a majority of reports. The residue of thousands of unexplained reports require only one conclusive report to invalidate the theory. And a skeptic can dismiss the residue by asserting that they are incomplete or inaccurate.

      Though, I fail to see the point of telling stories that lack excitement. My interest is in the story that has exclusionary power which is the only thing that makes us want to hear stories.

      Kind regards, Tom

  5. Hey Tom and Tim P.

    Thanks to both of you for contributing good comments.

    I coined the term "singularity" based on the fact that all UFO cases (I believe this is a more PC angle vs. that of story or event) has a true starting point...the human variable. And I believe that the term "variable" is appropriate since it represents the unknown factors that are readily present.

    Tom, the very first blog post on this site, I opened with "I tend to be agnostic towards UFOs." I still hold that position. Yes, I'm skeptical, but not rabidly so as to be blinded by the totality of the cases presented here. Yes, there are others that think otherwise concerning my points of view.

    Tim Printy and I (and others) have discussed at length at other venues that most cases have issues that derail the premise of an ET origin...but this does not rule out earthly/natural origins, such as, government/military technology both foreign and domestic...or, other natural origins.

    The weakest point of the UFO case falls on human perception. We are resilient in many ways, yet fall short cognitively when faced with a perceived threat or stressful situation. Or, our expectations are flawed to begin with as I gave personal examples in the blog post itself and we try to shoe horn a perception that may be basically cognitively flawed to begin with.

    I noticed that you provided a quote from Michael Persinger. Persinger has
    for decades proposed that UFOs are cognitive images induced by magnetic influxes secondary as precursors to major earthquakes..."quake lights" if you will. Despite Persinger's hypothesis, he has run into problems as not all earthquakes illicit said lights. But its an interesting hypothesis.

  6. Something else to ponder, see the last sentence of the first paragraph of the post. Whatever the truth(s) concerning the reality of UFOs, world events tend to render UFOs irrelevant.

    UFO behaviors and intent have no impact on the human ability, or inability to deal with the conditions that drive world events. This is solely a human response. We can dissect human decision making skills, thought processes and behaviors, but we cannot dissect the perceived behaviors and intent of UFOs.

    UFO cases tend to be devoid of intent for all practical purposes, thus relegating the UFO meme to the realm of irrationality when looked at from the standard point of ET origin.

    UFOs have not generated a "great awakening."

    1. Dear Tim:

      I firmly disagree. I think that the most interesting cases are those in which one can interpret intent. These cases provide a means to sort out the data (for example, naturally occurring phenomena rule out intention), as well as providing unique information regarding the phenomena. The best approach should enable us to enlarge our worldview. If I thought there was nothing new to find in the testimonies I would not waste my time researching it. The Minot case is a case in point.

      I can’t quite grasp your point regarding UFOs and world events. Perhaps it is my lack of imagination but maybe you could clarify. You seem to be implying that if we had knowledge regarding the actual existence of UFOs that it would generate a new enlightenment. I think the issue is far more complicated than this. It may be that mere beliefs cannot be displaced by confidence in knowledge but there are occasional refuges. CAIPAN was one such and there appears to be a public mandate in France to provide a definitive answer to it’s public. Perhaps this could be another instance of liberty enlightening the world!

      Kind regards, Tom


    SIGMA2: a mandate, structure, work plan and action
    Luke Dini, President of the Commission SIGMA | 21/07/2014