Wednesday, July 05, 2006

" as best you can, and do no harm..."

[Click title to read post in context]

The following was posted on UFO Updates way back in December of 2004. It was written in response to a post by James Smith, a fellow whom I admire for his rational and well-realized posts. To date, it is the post for which I have received the most private comments...both in quantity and in positive critique. I reprint it here a mea culpa.

"...This List is a forum for those that do not accept the party
line. We are tasked with... and provided space for... discussing
the UFO question in a free-form and decidedly theoretical
context. Dreamers are not only welcome, but it is darned near a

When we discuss, and find argument, the goal is to 'help those
around us as best we can', and this is accomplished by pointing
out the flaws in logic that stem from accepting the status quo
as the benchmark whereby to measure validity, or to show the
error of a flatly incorrect technical interpretation, vis a vis
Dr. Maccabee or Mr. Sparks.

But there's more... there is an emotional context for the
discussion as well.

While Dr. Maccabee can expound on the technical minutiae that
often prove a case, and while Brad Sparks can reflect on the
technical aspects of radar returns and decry the ignored pile of
hard data that is already available, and while Dick Hall can
recite chapter and verse a long list of very compelling cases,
and Stan Friedman can lecture ad infinitum on issues of saucer
crashes in the desert southwest, we all share an emotional
connect with the field.

Mr. Lehmberg is less bashful about it than most, and he has made
it plain that he no longer feels that casual dismissal is
innocent. That you and your comments represent what constitutes
the 'enemy' is not a result of his incivility, but a decided
policy of engagement. He no longer politely accepts the status
quo view, if he ever did. As he might himself comment, I admire
his pluck.

You might see Alfred, Bruce, Brad, Dick and Stan as disparate,
diverse voices. I see instead a unified front. Diverse in
expertise, disparate in writing styles, but all working to the
same purpose... to help those around them and do no harm.

The funny thing is, when dreamers dream, they harm no one. But
when a realist pooh-poohs a dreamer, the dreamer is cast aside
as so much detritus, until perhaps a later date when the dreamer
is vindicated. For the more passionate among us, your comments
literally mean war.

Like Roy Neary, we share a passionate belief in something we
know many do not. We seek to help those around us to see a more
expansive view, and to avoid the harm done... when we remain
silent. Like Roy Neary, many of us likely don't know exactly why
we are so... nor do we care.

When an argument is made, like yours, that bases progress on
practical realities, you are essentially advocating against that
passion as well as the opposing argument.

This is why you receive a response you find emotional. It is.

For decades these fine folks and many others have given much to
(in their minds)help those around them. I look at UFO photos to
find the good ones, and I let loose on the bad ones when I feel
strongly that it is a bad one. But I also keep looking, because
I believe very strongly that we do not know it all, and that our
mysteries are becoming more numerous and not less, and I believe
that most of us would agree that keeping this to ourselves...
not talking about it... would violate your rejoinder to 'do no

I hope to help people see through the obvious fakes, the easily
identified, and the repetitively misinterpreted because those
pollute the channel of good evidence. I question and I argue,
not because I think the argument is weak but because only
through testing an argument can its strength be known. But
saying an argument here isn't real or practical is not
constructive, it is deconstructive, and in this forum, that
reads as destructive. Why? Because it doesn't help anyone
understand it, and it does harm to the debate, which is what we
have to work with in this forum.

If you want to help others and do no harm, perhaps you would do
well to take a step outside the box of engineering, cost/benefit
analysis, and idea space management, and question things more.
Perhaps your feeling that things cannot change would be found to
be in error. Perhaps if more and more reasonable practical
people like you dreamed more, what is practical and real might
begin to take on a different hue entirely.

The point of all this is to remind you that these are uncharted
waters... by design... and he that finds that 'here there be
monsters' should not be surprised to find so. He should also not
be surprised when his clearly demarked 'map' is considered
suspect out of hand.

Mr. Lehmberg is motivated by it, Mr. Hall and Mr. Sparks are
discouraged by it, Dr. Maccabee is unmoved by it, and Stan is
nothing if not resigned to it, but they all share a disdain of
it. The it is the assured expert opinion that labels their
efforts as outlandish, or that presumes a reality over which we
have demonstrated an infinite capacity to remain ignorant.

For my part, I think it is time indeed to stand for the 'other'
way of thinking, not because it is ridiculous and maybe wrong,
but because the reality in which I find myself today is all too
ridiculous, and in my view decidedly wrong. Acceptance is no
help, and does plenty of harm.

If we help you as best we can to convince you to make the leap,
to push the envelope, to dream for the sake of the dream, and
the sake of a possibly better future, we will have certainly
done no harm.

If you help as best you can to convince us to remain safely in
the box, to accept a reality we find inadequate at best, the
harm done is not easily measurable, if not altogether

The discussion here is not just talk. There are careers and even
lives at stake over this 'silliness'. You must accept that as
dispassionate as your posts may be intended, they are met with a
passionate retort because the passion is borne of years of
scorn, ridicule and dismissal. This is a burden which you have
not had to bear, comfort zones being what they are.

Please help as best you can, and do no harm.

Best Regards,

Kyle" [Emphasis mine]

I have spent far too much time lately poking Dick Hall and others for various minor specifics, while completely blinding myself to the greater goal..."help each other as best we can, and do no harm".

I fully stand behind the post re-printed above, and re-commit myself to the goals as stated.

You did a good job writing up that piece.

To put the event into context, Mr. Lehmberg had dreamed and generated his poetic prose about how it would be nice to capture, herd and/or live in asteroids. I had voiced the contrarian side of things, namely how engineering-wise and realistic-wise it would be much worse than a simple spaceship and morality-wise who the hell are we to spread our microbes/tech out into space until we got our acts together on Earth.

This unleased a posting firestorm from Mr. Lehmberg which truly caught me unawares and taught me well that it does not behoove me to cross swords with him since I cannot intellectually deal with an irrationalist viewpoint (which is quite frustrating I assure you!). His passionate dreaming will always counter any rational argument I can offer.

So I guess I have tried to follow the advice of "helping as best I can and doing no harm" and simply do not interact with him, since he is enjoyed by many and any discussions with him (by me at least) would not be productive.

I still have some concerns that there is too much dreaming in the realm of UFOs, when the goal should be to ground it in reality. Although I can agree that it does no good to castigate or insult or criticize an individual, when individuals generate analyses, ideas, theories and we cannot criticize these things, we end up in a nonscientific realm.

It seems that people are so sensitive about their creations (ideas, dreams, analyses, theories)that they take it as a personal insult if we should criticize these things. Thus, it seems we should take whatever people say as okay, there are no wrong answers, and lets just create a "united front". All we do is end up being a bunch of people who slap each other's backs rather than try to hone the quality of each other's output.

None of us is perfect and we can all do for some constructive criticism. It seems like its hard for this to be accepted by most. Indeed it seems like almost no one wants to change or improve in this field (at least based on the input of others), being stubborn and cantankerous!

The way I look at it is that all the "names" of UFOlogy are as unchangable as the mountains. Well, it takes a long time to become a mountain and sometimes they are quite impressive, so I'm not going to even try to change them!
Thanks James -

And I agree with your positions and arguments far more often than not.

The solution in my view is to present new methods and theories and definitions of what UFOlogy is as a COROLLARY to the existing paradigm, rather than a 180 degree alternative.

My reasoning is that they might just simply be right. If so it behooves us to find out as much about what is up there as we can.

But I also think they might just simply be wrong, and if so it behooves us no less to find out as much about what is up there as we can.

So, hopefully without antagonizing, we can push for more field-based instrumented monitoring and detection, attempt to attract big money to fund such endeavors, and attempt to explain questionable cases using new technologies and techniques, but also admit that those that came before are are quite possibly correct, and are as entitled to their opinions or beliefs as the next...whether they can support their position "rationally" or not. Eye of the beholder and all...

And if we run afoul of Alfred, we should at least hear the argument and know from whence it comes. :)

Thanks again for stopping by!
"They might just simply be right."

The fact of the matter is that there is no thrill for me to prove they are wrong. The only reason I am even bothering with UFOs is that I know they are "something" and I think that "something" is pretty special. Non-human interlopers seems the best guess, with human interlopers and unexplained prosaic terrestrial phenomena the close second and third place.

"..attempt to attract big money to fund such endeavors"

I know Paul Kimball thinks nothing can be done without the big bucks, but, really, we have alot more capability than people are willing to admit even if we do things on the cheap. Look how many people participated in CSETI using the powerful but unused capacity of their home computers. Working together but separately, they could each help. Simple methods exist to build sensors to hookup to one's computer but it isn't done, mainly due to laziness or having other things to do or being afraid to do any work with hardware (so much easier just to read about things on the Internet or play Internet games).

"And if we run afoul of Alfred, we should at least hear the argument and know from whence it comes."

No can do. It is too mind altering to read his postings. But people like him, so go figure!
Hi James -

On individual participation in lieu of "big-bucks" contributions, you're preaching to the choir. I just wish I had enough money to upgrade the RAM in my PC, not to mention building a "UFO Hunter" out of my Jeep. LOL


"It is too mind altering to read his postings. But people like him, so go figure!"

Hehehe...I can't argue with that. LOL
Mr. Smith;

It's not that many people like me, at all, Sir, forgetting one man's irrationalist is another man's free thinker. I'm not remotely sorry that the aforementioned thinking doesn't confine itself to the prosaic, the mundane, the conventional, the anthropomorphic, the unimaginative, the aspectless, the intellectually unbrave,and the starkly uncreative. You get like that, perhaps, pushing sixty after a couple of strokes... I make no apology. No time for same.

That said, and without remembering the details of the exchange, I'd bet we could revisit our little intercourse... our little tempest, and I could show you with a degree of exactitude and clarity where, and why, it was you pissed me off!

I'm betting it was not my failing and failure, Sir... but yours.

Why, you may be interested to know that I have ignored your abject and featureless blithery on-line myself (as much as I could... ...I mean the gorge gets _so_ high and then one is compelled to a response, you know?)!

Kyle, dude! I can't remember a time when I was damned with fainter praise! A tip of the hat to you.
AVG Blog --

I said you were "liked" based on the fact that Errol features you on his show. He would hardly feature you unless you had ratings appeal. You do not come across as advesarial on air, so the ratings appeal must be based on your personality.

Also, I have noted some UFO folk, including Kyle, seem to support your commentary.

I choose not to try to argue with you in UFOUpdates simply because it will go round and round and no conclusion would ever be achieved. Also, it takes a great deal of effort on my part to understand your prose (give me Chaucer any time). I am sure it must have meaning, and the failing is mine, but I cannot take all the time required to deconstruct your communications. Even the posting I am responding to is hard to process.

I am no poet, and perhaps at the time my problem was that I did not view the poetic side of things. Rather, I am drawn, as always, to practical realities and thus addressed your poetic comments too pragmatically. If I had simply viewed your poetic comments as such, I would have had no comments since my expertise in that area is nil.
Yeah... uh huh... right...

I reviewed our tempest, Sir. It was as I presumed. The communicational failure was all yours, in spades!

This is despite your condescension, despite your insults, despite your clueless aspect, and without regard to your officiousness, your arrogance, and your stunning lack of vision.

You are tedious, Sir. Don't ape the wounded good guy... you don't have the countenance or the record for it. Moreover, thank your god of choice we don't depend on you to model reality for us, Mr. Smith... your weepy "why" is handily trumped by even a casually tendered "Why... not."
AVG Blog --
Very nice post Kyle.
Alfred, James -

Enjoying the discourse!

R. Lee -

Thanks for stopping by!
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