I mentioned last week that 'UFO skeptic' James Oberg, MSNBC's resident space analyst, had posted a dismissal of Leslie Kean's new book UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record (Amazon US and UK):
The body of UFO reports is replete with cases of spectacular misinterpretations, and pilots are frequently involved. So it's prudent to use caution when evaluating the testimony of pilots.
...I am not dismayed by the fact that I can't explain every case Kean mentions in her book, because experience has shown that finding the real explanation — even if it turns out to be prosaic — is often a massive effort involving as much luck as sweat. If investigators are unable to find the explanation for a particular UFO case, that doesn't constitute proof that the case is unexplainable.
...So the “not proven” assessment makes it even more important to keep our eyes and minds open — to vigorously observe, accurately perceive, and precisely relate unusual aerial perceptions. Something really new could still be discovered. Or something critically important could be masquerading, by accident or design, in a manner that leads too many people to pay too little attention.
MSNBC has today posted a response from Leslie, in which she points out Oberg's CSI(COP) affiliation (and thus lack of objectivity), and some errors in his assumptions:
Oberg says pilots may misinterpret visual phenomena when forced to make a split-second diagnosis before taking immediate action — very rare cases, I would assume — and no one would disagree with that. But, just as was the case with the solved Russian sightings I discussed earlier, this is entirely beside the point with respect to my book, because the cases presented do not involve such a scenario.
... It‘s the aggregate of cases, the accumulation of evidence and the long-running but unsuccessful attempts of qualified experts to resolve them that establishes the reality of a yet-unexplained physical phenomenon with extraordinary capabilities.
Oberg says that "if investigators are unable to find the explanation for a particular UFO case, that doesn't constitute proof that the case is unexplainable.” Fair enough. Perhaps there is some prosaic explanation still to be discovered. There‘s always that possibility, no matter how small.
But we remain in a state of ignorance concerning UFOs, leaving us with the conclusion presented in the book: We need a systematic, scientific investigation of the skies that actively looks for these mysterious and elusive objects. In the meantime, all I ask is that devout skeptics like Oberg read the entire book before raising objections that actually have no bearing on the matter at hand.
I think the point about the "systematic, scientific investigation" is a fair one - and one would think 'debunkers' seeking clarity on the matter would embrace it.
Previously on TDG: