(Stillness in the Storm Editor) The evidence debate is a large one, and there is much to consider insofar as how we evaluate claims, whistleblowers, evidence, and so forth. I offer commentary on this complex and worthwhile topic after the below article. How we evaluate our experiences and beliefs is arguably the most fundamental thing we must come to terms with. As such, this issue raging in ufology is one that extends to all fields of truth seeking.
by Rich Scheck, August 23th, 2017
The sudden death of Bill Tompkins on the day of the total solar eclipse provides a fitting moment to evaluate the current state of UFOLOGY.
The on-going controversy surrounding the bona fides of those like Corey Goode and Andrew Basiago claiming to be part of the Secret Space Program’s (SSP) 20 and back Operation Pegasus is a major concern to many in the Disclosure Movement.
Richard Dolan, Bill Ryan and others have essentially demanded more concrete evidence in support of such claims of participation before they can sign off on their legitimacy and relevance to UFOLOGY.
Michael Salla has attempted to address the Dolan group’s concerns and has been a strong voice championing them through his many articles covering various aspects of Goode’s account.
His confidence in their legitimacy has been fundamentally bolstered by the work of Bill Tompkins who spent the last 2 years of his life sharing his extraordinary experiences during a long life that appears to include a major role with the Navy’s SSP.
As the well respected historian of the SSP and the inventor of the term Breakaway Civilization, Dolan’s low comfort level with the Goode/Salla/Tompkins position has had an impact on the Disclosure community that remains unresolved.
His dissatisfaction with Tompkins book which he refused to publish because he thought it was poorly written does not refute what appears to be clear evidence that the former Navy ship designer was indeed part of the SSP.
Bill’s extensive interviews on the Jeff Rense show are fully archived and available for evaluation by everyone interested in this topic. Having listened to him many times on Rense, I was convinced he was speaking honestly about his role. The combination of humility, humor, intelligence and thorough knowledge of the material lent considerable strength to his claims.
Now Bill has moved on with his dramatic transition on the day of The Great American Eclipse. Whether that is just some cosmic coincidence and/or his way of confirming he was the real deal remains to be seen.
It would behoove those in leadership roles like Salla and Dolan as well as Stephen Greer, Paola Harris, Steve Bassett, Grant Cameron and others to bring some degree of closure to this issue in the spirit of enhancing the future of UFOLOGY and the Disclosure Movement.
What that looks like and how it is achieved remains to be seen. But resolve it they must at the risk of undermining an important discussion in modern life. It would also be a fitting testament to the memory of Tompkins, the recently departed Jim Marrs and the countless truth seekers among us who have labored long and hard in the UFOLOGY arena.
The Evidence Debate
As an example of the debate raging within some ufology circles, consider a discussion panel that occurred during the 2017 MUFON symposium. Goode was in attendance, along with several other figures in the experiencer category, such as Andrew Basiago, William Tompkins, and two evidence researchers, Dr. Michael Salla and Richard Dolan.
Related MUFON Symposium 2017 — Panel Discusion: Andrew Basiago, Dr. Michael Salla, William Tompkins, Corey Goode and Richard Dolan
In general, the question is what qualifies as evidence within ufology? And can such evidence be used to substantiate a claim?
In the contemplation of this question, ufology can be generally divided into two camps, those who think any evidence is worthy of consideration, and those who think only vetted or falsifiable evidence is valid.
For example, UFO experiencers, ET contactees, and whistleblowers without verifiable credentials provide verbal testimony, but no hard evidence, such as documents, photographs, or samples of technology. As a result, the claims cannot be confirmed or denied, more or less.
Conversely, whistleblowers with government credentials, documentation that has been authenticated (such as FOIA documents), and video or photographic evidence, can be assessed and evaluated—it can be falsified. This simply means that a claim can be cross-checked based on some body of evidence to support it.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge, in particular, how do we know what we know. While it is a relatively obscure field of explicit study, the general tenets of epistemological consideration are at the foundations of nearly every facet of human life. How does a court determine if a witness can be trusted? How does a scientist know that their experiments prove their theory? How does a ufologist know that evidence provides, or lack there of, support for a claim as valid? These are all epistemological questions, the answers to which should hopefully be of keen interest to those seeking to know the truth.
The answering of these questions is no small task and requires a great deal of careful consideration and reasoning. One cannot simply assume that just because a witness can’t substantiate their testimony with evidence, it can be summarily dismissed. Nor can one assume that documents or credentials are immune to fabrication and manipulation—as the above manual on legally sanctioned cover-ups makes clear.
Thus, in answering the question: What is valid evidence? one must consider a difficult to accept precept of epistemological philosophy. The axiom is that lack of evidence is not, in and of itself, evidence of fraud, deception or fabrication. It is merely a lack of evidence, which only makes a claim unverifiable.
Simply put, there is no such thing as absolute certainty, as all evidence, no matter how “rock solid” requires proper interpretation. More over, falseness is not proven by lack of evidence, it is proven by properly identifying what is actually happening with respect to the scope and context of a falsehood. Given this unrebutted axiom, Goode, Tompkins, and Basiago, who offer no tangible evidence for their claims, cannot be labeled as liars or frauds.
Dolan in particular, is one of the more outspoken proponents of falsifiability. He asserts that if he can’t prove that you worked for a government organization or aerospace company, you aren’t a true SSP whistleblower. And while this might seem like a rather myopic stance to take, it appears this contention is embedded within the agenda of ufology in general, namely the ending of the truth embargo and the garnering of public acceptance of UFOs.
To Dolan’s credit, he’s right when considering one strategy. The public at large, who has been well trained via government disinformation to dismiss anything related to UFOs with extreme skepticism, will not take anyone seriously unless there is some body of evidence offered in support.
Reconciling all this, the debate seems to be largely fueled by what was exquisitely described as complementary schismogenesis, a term coined by Gregory Bateson.
Bateson observed that when people speak the same language, unless there is a good level of communication rapport present between them, two people, or more, will exchange statements, and misunderstand each other. Then, as an individual feels they weren’t properly heard, they will speak to the misinterpretation, often causing even further confusion. Simply put, two people could be talking about the same thing, all while thinking they are disagreeing with each other. Take a moment to consider how often this happens in your own life.
This language barrier is exacerbated by intolerance and emotionally charged exchanges—when people refuse to hear people out, and react to what they think another person said.
The high-paced nature of modern life, and a slow degradation of philosophic skills in the population, creates a condition where individuals can become heavily image trained, or rigidly focused on one set of terms or rhetoric to describe their field of interest. Add a healthy mix of prejudicial bias at an ideological level, and when discussion finally begins, likely the only result will be lack of discourse or a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas.
In other words, people in all walks of life, have forgotten how to share ideas and be respectful with others, to listen honestly, and develop social graces that allow for misunderstandings to be clarified. Non-confrontational communication methods are desperately needed, everywhere in society.
The aformentioned language barrier features prominently within ufology because, by and large, there are overarching objectives shared by almost every camp, namely the full disclosure of hidden information and public acknowledgement of the field of study. And on this score, Dolan’s premise is valid: in the effort to recruit more support from the public and push for acknowledgement of ufology as a valid field of study, a focus on evidence-supported material will be prudent. But—and on this point Dolan may not have offered comment—he does not seem to assert that non-falsifiable evidence is completely invalid—although this is certainly how some in the field are interpreting his statements.
Author’s note: While Dolan has clearly stated he does not consider Goode and other experiencers as credible whistleblowers, I have never seen him flat-out reject their information as false, unlike others. I think this is important to note, because it is all too easy for those of us on the outside to feel as though, because our chosen ufology experts are in disagreement, we should also divide amongst ourselves. I reject this behavior as beneficial and assert that disagreement is inevitable, because reality itself is predicated on unique points of view. However, since reality on the whole is the thing we all have a view of, and are each seeking to understand it better, trying to divide ourselves into followers of Dolan or Goode seems highly counterproductive. Surely, what unites us in the pursuit of greater truth is far more important than any disagreements we have about our conclusions.
Dr. Salla is like Dolan, in that he is not an experiencer himself, he is a researcher that examines evidence. However, Dr. Salla includes whistleblower testimony in his body of examined data, which provides him greater insights into the ufology topic in general.
Thus, to round out the analysis of the evidence debate, the conclusion is that the overall objectives of ufology are fairly well unified. But the individual objectives, and strategies, differ. Experiencers and more eclectic researchers can generally be classified as researchers of truth, seeking for ultimate answers to the UFO question and more. Conversely, those focused on falsifiable testimony and evidence are—similarly seeking an ultimate truth—but also deploying a strategy of public relations. That is, one must be strategic insofar as what information is offered to the public, of which, highly verifiable and credible sources are more effective than ones without any substantiation. These differences aside, there is still plenty of room, and reason, to form a unified front.
Hopefully the aformentioned analysis will highlight two key points.
One, that there are a diverse range of persons with different goals working within the field. And two, that despite these differences, the overarching goal is the same. In light of this, it should also be apparent that collaboration is far more effective than ideological posturing that ultimately hinders ufology in general, especially in the public’s eye. The masses, who are, for the most part, almost completely image trained and incapable of assessing information with critical thinking skills, see the field of ufology and likely think to themselves “These guys can’t even agree amongst themselves, why should I bother listening to any of it?” And frankly, who can blame them.
READ COMPLETE ARTICLE
Stillness in the Storm Editor’s note: Did you find a spelling error or grammar mistake? Do you think this article needs a correction or update? Or do you just have some feedback? Send us an email at [email protected] with the error, headline and url. Thank you for reading.