Reality Check

Jenny Randles, UFO Reality. Hale, 1983.

Although subtitled 'A Critical Look at the Evidence', and acknowledging that “scepticism is the only path to true understanding“, I found the book both disappointing and irritating; it is based on poor arguments and wishful thinking. Its conclusion is that some UFOs (or rather UAPs) are intelligently controlled, physical, alien devices which emit harmful radiation, cause cancers, alter the minds of witnesses and even kill. Let out clauses of the 'some would say that…' type abound; but the author's beliefs are clear.

Evidence comes from the well-known residue of sightings left after weeding out identifiables (IFOs) and The UFO Handbook by Hendry is referenced. (He was able to identify about 90% of UFOs despite gross distortions in testimony submitted by even the most respectable of witnesses.) Randles forgets that he did not manage to show that the residue sightings are reported any more accurately than the 90%, and she goes on to say: “There does seem to be an intuitive difference between the best of the unexplained cases and those exaggerated IFOs ... ' [p.37].
Contradicting Hendry, she argues that UFO reports are generally accurate observations. I remember Randles once asking (after showing that two people suffered severe physiological effects by observing the moon) “If a straightforward stimulus' can he distorted as grossly as this by two witnesses, how can we ever be sure that any UFO report is valid?” [Probe Report, 3, 1, July 19821. Now she uses the naïve assertion that the only alternative to accepting witnesses' reports literally is to call them liars.

The book frequently presents the (again old) idea that “the phenomenon could be deliberately planting false evidence…” This explains why UFO witnesses make ’slips’ in their interrogation and discredit themselves.

Few of the cases quoted were investigated personally by the author who seems to accept second-hand reports without question. She credits the ridiculous book by Ray Stanford, Socorro Saucer in a Pentagon pantry as leaving “.. little doubt that a material craft of some knd had been present “, [p.143) The 1980-81 Rendlesham Forest incident (in which she has become involved) represents “.. what may be the most amazing UFO incident ever in Britain …” [p.147] Having. read the SCUFORI report by Affleck and Shipp written befotr the case gained notoriety in a Sunday newspaper, I find the Randles’ version sensational rubbish.

Curious statements which hint at deep significance but mean nothing useful are often used: “There was no indication that the lantern [damaged by a UFO] had been struck by a coherent beam of radiation (e.g. a laser).' [p.149] is an example. How could you tell if it had been so struck?

Some other topics raised in the book are: would be useful for Washoe (the American chimp learning sign language to see a UFO and then interrogate him [p. 111]; cats may be able to see through solid objects using their whiskers [p.113] car-stop cases may be due to time-warps [p.137]; and UFOs disguise themselves as birds just to make things difficult for us.

Throughout the book anonymous scientists are ascribed stereotype attitudes expressly for the purpose of insulting them. Presumably Randles thinks her arguments are based on scientific deductions not just gossip. A quotation from chapter 12: “From all these points, plus a subjective evaluation of all the rumours I have heard and the general level of UFO reports themselves (some of which must surely have been recorded on radar). I have to reach a startling conclusion. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that cases of the calibre of Lakenheath have occurred dozens of times…” [p.163]

In chapter 15 we meet an old friend: “But I think there are dear indications within the records ... that data enter the subconscious of the witness and are being deliberately placed there by the phenomena ... at some future date 'they' will release simultaneous 'triggers' which will enable the information to flow into our subconscious mind … There is only one way to solve the puzzle: bring everyone together and co-operate ... that would require global unity”.

The author has previously shown great appreciation of the uncertainties associated with UFO reports. This understanding seems to have conflicted with her wish that the subject remain emotionally satisfying to her and her emotions have won the battle. That is understandable , but if she continues to parade inconsistent and irrational figments of her imagination as factually backed theories whilst hurling evangelising insults at anyone who does not agree with her, she call only look sillier by the hook.

I think that all the UFO stories cited by her, including ‘radar-visuals‘, cine films, close encounters and physiological effects, etc., are generated without the help of alien forces, ‘mind-melds' and so on. -- David I. Simpson, from Magonia 15, April 1984.

No comments: