Thursday, May 04, 2006

Friedman vs. Clancy: Not Tom...the Other Fiction writer.

One of my UFOlogical heroes, Stanton T. Friedman, has sliced and diced the new book, "Abducted: How people Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens", penned by self-styled "UFO/abduction expert" Susan Clancy.

Man, I'm not sure Stan has had this much fun in a long time.

Clancy, clearly uncomfortable with the "reality-based community", strikes out on an adventure ripped from the headlines of her own fevered imagination to comfort herself and others with the good news that alien abductions...and yes, UFOs...are nothing more than the by-product of indigestion or sleep disorder, or even fraud.

Stan takes the book apart in what can only be described as scientific fashion, pointing out the alarming number of factual errors and pronouncements regarding such abduction and UFO cases.

"Confirmatory bias" is the catch-phrase which best sums up Clancy's effort.

Speculative fiction also comes to mind.

Writing such as Clancy's should dovetail nicely with the thought-set of the intended audience, since such folk are also seemingly just as comfortable with the "no global warming, WMD WERE there, Iraq is doing fine, Iran has nukes" kind of "reality".

Kudos to Stanton for pointing out that Clancy the "emperical Emperor", wears no clothes.

If you need to read only one line of a book to see its true color, try this one...

"Even better, alien abductees were people who had developed memories of a traumatic event that I could be fairly certain had never occurred." [emphasis mine...KK] WTF???

Such a ridiculous statement simply and decidedly disqualifies Clancy as a scientist, and paints her book as pointedly unscientific. For shame...and the Harvard Press printed this tripe?

So this passes for science in the "new reality" community? I am shocked that our current administration hasn't tapped Ms. Clancy for her "expert analysis" skills.

Susan Clancy...the thinking neanderthals' Ann Coulter.

Stan Friedman just proved once again that it is far easier to "talk the talk" than to "walk the walk".

Keep on walking TALL, Stan!

[hat tip to UFO Updates for the link]

Hey; interesting comment!

I read it, one thing stuck me about Mr. Friedman’s comments. He seems to be commenting on the wrong book, or at least the wrong genera.

Clancy did not write a history of UFOlogy, she didn’t write a book about UFO evidence nor did she write a book about UFOs at all. She wrote a book about the psychology of UFO abduction claimants.

I agree with Freidman that her history was sloppy (or almost non existent as I frankly don’t remember her going over many historical cases.) I don’t agree with the inference that the book is supposed to be (or have) a historical overview of UFOlogy, no more than Stan’s last book was about the psychological makeup of abduction claimants. Clancy’s not qualified to comment on the history of UFOlogy (IMO.) That may be enough to ditch the vast majority of her book but I think it’s a bit unfair. Kind of like if Stan made erroneous comments on (whatever) subject in his writings and someone like myself proclaiming that the rest of his opinions have no basis in reality. Would that be fair? I don't think so!

What Mr. Freidman did is scientific, only if one believes that science is an exercise in cherry picking data and ignoring that which is disagreeable. If so than I might say that Clancy certainly has a bias, she’s not a believer in UFO abductions. At the same time I would that Mr. Friedman’s take on her book suggests (to me) that he too approaches “science” in exactly the same way. It’s not exactly a stinging endorsement of his prowess in the scientific process. Frankly, I’m more disappointed in his (seeming) failure to understand what the book is about than Clancy’s errors.
Hey Emperor -

Thanks for the perceptive comments.

I'm not sure where you got the "inference that the book is supposed to be...a historical overview of UFOlogy".

My main beef with Clancy...from the Jennings special to every interview that I've seen her her stance that abduction cases provide a "control" versus other "hidden trauma" cases, since the is "certain" that abduction stories are

Besides that, if you want to discuss cherry-picking facts to support one's conclusion, I might note that Clancy conspicuously does NOT delve into multiple abduction cases, or daytime, wide-awake abductions. But she remains convinced that abduction cases are not real. How convenient.

The disagreements I have with Stanton Friedman are many, and I have argued these disagreements in public forums. My thoughts on MJ-12, Roswell, and several other of Stan's researched cases are rather easy to discern if you follow UFO Updates or know how to Google my name.

And, to be honest, I'm not sure alien abductions have ever really happened.

But I know that whenever a "scientist" uses the term "certain", they have moved beyond science and into "confirmatory bias" territory with both feet. Science can never be "certain", because theories and hypotheses can only disprove with certainty. Science cannot PROVE anything with certainty. Although in some instances, we've come about as close as one could hope.

Not so with Ms. Clancy. She decided that abductions are fiction long before testing the hypothesis in an objective manner, in keeping with the scientific method.

Skepticism is good and necessary in science, certainty is a fool's game.

In other words, Clancy may well be right, but to assert certainty is un-scientific in the extreme, regardless of what Stanton Friedman has said or written.

Thanks again for the comments!
Hey, no problem!

To me (my apologies, I’ve only skimmed Stan’s comments,) he devoted most of his screed on the fact that Clancy’s not too careful about her historical account(s) of the UFO biz when, in fact, I don’t recall her devoting much more than a page or two on the subject. Stan in effect seems to be saying, “look! She got some of the details wrong so her entire supposition MUST be a load of hogwash!”

That’s not fair to the book or the author.

I think Clancy approached the matter with a skewed point of view (it’s not mine BTW, I think I have an open mind on the subject.) But, it seems to me a psychological study of UFO claimants does not necessarily require belief to be substantive. In fact I often think belief in the ETH (etc) is the last thing a researcher should have because that alone is going to potentially skew the results. A strong belief will poison the results, we see examples of this all the time.

Her contention in the book? “They believe in their experiences but they don’t have a shred of evidence, isn’t that strange?“

How is it that I got this while many (believing) UFOlogests think she’s some kind of con artist—she’s lying or she’s a patsy? Don’t they want evidence to drive conclusions or do they want something else?

I don’t know Clancy personally, I’ve only read her book. However I suspect that if she’d come across any physical evidence or corroborative data she might have honestly changed her mind. According to the evidence she reached a conclusion that some people in the biz do not like. And yes, she went into it believing that these people probably had never been abducted by aliens as a control for her real research into sexual abuse! She wrote a popular book about it. So what? Take it for what it is, a look into the psychological makeup of UFO abduction claimants. One of the very few, perhaps the first one to my recollection.

Sorry; I get a little P-O’d when people who know better pander to the UFO-biz status quo.
Mr. Pettingill;

I see you're still trying to choke your nose down, and I reflect that once you get it down, you're going to have to pass it in turn. The substance of it is certainly indigestible so I wouldn't hope for an easier time of it.

A wannabe *scientistic*, you were caught in approbation of bad science and an even more insentient explication of same. I know it hurts, but your dodge, wiggle, and dance here is just embarrassing. I almost feel sorry for you... ...almost.
AVG Blog --
Hey Emperor -

I will disagree on a couple of points...

Her clear contention is NOT that, "Hey, these people believe they were abducted and have no evidence, isn't that weird?".

Her very clear contention is, "Hey, these people believe they were abducted, and I'm certain they were not. How could they be so delusional? Here's how...".

A scientist who goes into ANY field of research with a preconceived "certainty", is not being scientific, and any conclusions drawn must be taken with a rather large grain of sodium chloride.

I believe this is so whether we're talking about either the "certainty that alien abductions are false memories" or the "certainty that some UFOs are alien craft from another planet/dimension/vibratory level", etc.

In my case, I am certain of neither. But I will assert once again that the ETH believer is certain of what EXISTS...right or wrong...while Clancy is certain of what DOES NOT, which is scientifically absurd.

But Stan Friedman doesn't publish under the aegis of Harvard University, and he doesn't have a job teaching young people, so I believe the harm on Clancy's side is greater, as she is shielded by a cloak of legitimiacy which is undeserved based on the "contentions" in her book and other outlets for her "certainties"...

Other than that, I agree that her book was not a UFO debunking exercise, and that ETH "true believers" make a leap that I cannot.

I will add that Stan has sat and talked to a number of abduction claimants, and noted their testimony in great detail. Clancy glazes over them, missing key points, because she already knows the "truth". Or that is the clear impression she puts forth.

Why sweat the details when we all know they're just delusional? Disdainful, that...and this disdain is palpable in her lack of objective research on the subject. Remember the title of her book, after all.

Or else she's just sloppy, which brings us back to the shield of legitimacy provided by a Harvard Press publication.

But your comments are appreciated, and I agree she did not set out to debunk the UFO field, only a subset of it. But she did so without doing the scientifically objective research required, and replaced it with a biased "certainty" that I find wholly unbefitting a Harvard faculty member, or graduate for that matter.

Finally, you said that Clancy "is not a believer in UFO abductions". This is not true. What is true is that she is certain that they are delusuions...there is a HUGE difference, as I'm sure you would agree.

Thanks again!
Hey Alfred -

Obviously there's a little history betwixt you and the Odd Emperor...LOL

Thanks for stopping by!
In regards to Clancy, remember that she is from the same posse who gave us lobotomies and electro-shock therapy.

Buyer beware!

Stan is right - when one makes basic research mistakes about some things, one has to look at the rest of the book with suspicion. Of course, as more than a few UFo researchers have pointed out, the same could be true of Richard Dolan's book, for example (you should see Stan's yellow-lined copy).

One will always make a few errors, no matter how thorough one is, or how good one's editors are. But myriad mistakes, or a few major ones as to basic facts (and in Clancy's case the history of the abduction phenomenon WAS important) undermine the author's overall credibility on the subject.

If one wants to read a good book about abductions, I would suggest The Abduction Enigma, by Randle, Cone and Estes.

Clancy's will soon be forgotten.

Hey OldGary -

Well, my mom had the stereotypical "nervous breakdown" back in the mid 60s. She was sent to a local "sanitarium" by a psychiatrist, and was prescribed treatment...insulin shock therapy. The result? She returned to regular life...with Type II Diabetes and systemic problems of various kinds ever since.

I'm sure the psychiatrists feel it was a job well done.

But you should remember, Clancy is a psychologist and not a psychiatrist. She cannot prescribe drugs or medical treatment beyond counseling or whatever other voodoo they practice these days.

My mom never thought she was abducted by may have been better for her if she had. I'd trade a nice therapy session over insulin overdose any day.

Thanks for writing!
Paul -

I'm not one to suggest throwing out the baby with the bath water, but in Clancy's case, I'm happy to make an exception! LOL

Your absolutely right in that her book will be a forgotten one soon...but it remains a Harvard University Press publication...a rather unfortunate thing really...


Well I agree with you up to a point,(except Alfred whose just being…. Alfred!) If she were trying to gain the respect of the UFO community she should have noted the contributions of people like say Hopkins or Freidman himself. But I maintain that her study and her book was not about proving that aliens exist. Its purpose was to explain why people believe they do as a minor subset of a larger investigation into why some people believe they’ve been abused when they haven’t been. (a subject which raised some ire all by itself.) Clancy has no interest in UFOlogy and judging from some of the reaction to her book in the community I can certainly see why.

But I don’t agree that her purpose was to debunk the abduction subset of UFOlogy. She doesn’t *care* enough to debunk it. I think this idea that her study was some kind of conspiracy is a little strange sounding. BTW, Harvard Press probably thought they could sell a few of her books, that’s more likely the motivation behind it than some orchestrated movement to debunk aliens.

Clancy has a rather mainstream take on UFOs et-al and an incorrect one in my opinion. However I do think that the phenomenon is far more subjective than even the believers seem to admit. The best study of *anything* which leaves as few traces as this one is the witnesses themselves. And not by hypnotizing people into believing they were sucked onboard spacecraft but understanding what all this strange imagery is about.
Hey Emperor -

As we agree more than we disagree, I'll just quote you here..."I agree with you...", and call it a draw. Whatever differences we have remaining are semantic at any rate.

We remain open-minded, ready to be convinced, and assertive of the importance of accuracy in scientific writing...n'est ce pas??

Thanks for the exercise! LOL
That was the longest, most drawn out and painful "agreement" I can remember reading. Nothing like nutting out the fine details of redundancy. For the record, I find Clancy's work reprehensible and think Freidman has long been bereft of objectivity.
Hey Bassius -

Luckily, I dont' write to please you.

I appreciate your views on Clancy and Friedman however...and I agree that Clancy can be reprehensible, and that Stan can be less than objective. Of course, I didn't go to Harvard, and I have not walked a yard in Stan's shoes, so I tend to refrain from implying that I am above either.

But, each his own.

Thanks for writing!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?