Use ARROWS to page backward or forward |
process of data reduction to see if the relaxation of an implicit hypothesis will lead to a situation in which the evidence can be reconciled with at least one explicit hypothesis.
A further example of this type of situation is the discussion of “Automobile Malfunction and Headlight Failure” (see Craig in Condon & Gillmor, 1968, pp. 100-108), which was discussed in Section IV. As we have noted, the position taken by Condon and other members of the project staff is that, if automobile motors are stopped, this phenomenon must be due to magnetic fields associated with UFOs. Condon and other members of the staff apparently do not consider the possibility that an advanced civilization may know of and use physical processes with which we are now unfamiliar. [Yet this possibility is perhaps the most intriguing reason a scientist would be interested in studying the UFO phenomenon.] The discussion of sonic booms and of automobile engine malfunction by the Condon staff provide two prime examples of theory-dependent arguments.
The evaluation of evidence by category, presented in Section IV, seems to show that each staff summary is a fair and justifiably cautious summary of the relevant case material. By contrast, Condon’s summary bears little relation to the work, analyses, and summaries of his own staff. Hence, a minimal criticism that one might make is that the efforts of many individuals found no satisfactory integration.6
This failing may have been due in part to a faulty initial conception of the nature of the phenomenon. If, as the Director may have believed, the phenomenon could be tackled as a straightforward problem of physical science, there might now be little disagreement among the scientific community regarding the validity and conclusions of the Report. The UFO phenomenon appears instead to be more akin to some of the enigmatic phenomena of modern astronomy, such as the sources of gamma-ray bursts. Concerning these strange objects, we do not know where they are, we do not know what they are, and we can only speculate on how they function; but these limitations, severe as they are, by no means deter astronomers and astrophysicists from studying them as intensively as possible.
Concerning UFOs, we are not sure whether they are hoaxes, illusions, or real. If real, we do not know whether the reality is of a psychological and sociological nature, or one that belongs in the realm of physics. If the phenomenon has physical reality, we do not know whether it can be understood in terms of present-day physics, or whether it may present us with an example