The Blame Game

Leslie G Howarth. If in Doubt, Blame the Aliens: A New Scientific Analysis of UFO Sightings, Alleged Alien Abductions, Animal Mutations and Crop Circles. Writer's Showcase, 2000.

In this self published book, Howarth, an industrial chemist with a Ph.D. in dental ceramics etc, tries what he imagines is a scientific approach to ufology. This involves a statistical treatment of a mass of reports dredged up from a data base, in this case a ufological CD-ROM. This is not new, it was very much the fashion in the 1960s and early 70s, but with much more sophistication than is shown here. The technique used is something called Kepner-Tregoe analysis; and either Howarth is totally misusing it, or the whole technique is just another piece of management pseudoscience. Needless to say all the judgments used are purely subjective.

He compares various 'explanations' of UFO reports with what he believes the evidence shows. As the evidence consists of a biased database, and the versions of UFO stories found in popular literature, it is flawed from the start. Explanations such as aircraft, astronomical objects etc are taken in isolation, as if anyone thought that each individual explanation accounted for all UFO reports. UFO reports are generated by very many different stimuli.

The result, surprise surprise, is that UFO reports are likely to be generated by alien activity. This is achieved by purely subjective reasoning. For example Howarth claims UFO events don't take place in the rain (not true actually), but on this premise he rules out aircraft and stars and planets as not fitting. Excuse me, but isn't it obvious that people will see more things in the sky (whether stars, meteors, aircraft, or alien UFOs for that matter) in clear weather rather than when it's wet and overcast?

One genuine thing of interest that he notes is the great scarcity of UFO reports from the Indian subcontinent, which is quite puzzling given the vigorous English language press, and extensive family contacts with the West. This points to a psychosocial explanation, in which the sort of experiences which give rise to UFO reports in the West do not exist, or are interpreted differently Hindu or Islamic culture. -- Peter Rogerson. From Magonia 80, March 2003

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