A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: flying saucers

7 Jan 1998
On your "flying saucers" page you state;

"The reason UFO's are often described as flying saucers seems to be due to Kenneth Arnold's claim in 1947 to an editor of the Eastern Oregonian that he'd seen nine round aircraft near Mount Ranier which were flying erratically at incredible speeds and that reminded him of saucers skimming over water."

Arnold never claimed to have seen disc-shaped or round craft at all, in fact he stated they were crescent-shaped as later photos of Arnold holding up illustrations show. (See photo at right).

I have often wondered why people then began reporting disc-shaped craft in light of his description. It seems that newspapers have a lot to do with the promulgation of a conceptualization as evidenced in the 1890's wave. (my pet area of investigation at the moment). The heuristic model of a disc-shaped craft seems to have more to do with mythology created by inexact newspaper reportage than any actual sightings. It also could be explained by people noticing balloons for the first time which can be construed as disc-shape given the single angle of observation.

Coming from a pro-UFO background, I have become a lot more skeptical since applying the principle of Ockham's Razor, and also not neglecting the other surrounding contemporaneous events that could explain reports of UFO's.

My daylight sighting with my father and his golf partner in the late 1960's still remains unresolved. I don't hold to any specific theory about what we saw and have tried in vain to resolve it in some prosaic way to no avail. It is by this thread alone that I don't dismiss the phenomenon all together.

I am convinced that the signal-to-noise ratio is probably close to 1 to 99 however. Since there is much more noise to study and plenty of data with which to study it, I have chosen this route of investigation. If there appears to be a signal after removing most of the noise, I deal with that then.
Drew Williamson

reply: This wouldn't be the first time the mass media created a myth. Witness the recent headlines in magazines such as Newsweek about the so-called Kennedy Curse. While it is true that the family of Joseph Kennedy has known a significant number of troubles, so have a lot of other large families. It is doubtful whether the Kennedys have had a disproportionate share of woe. Those who are not famous are allowed to suffer out of view of the mass media. It should not be forgotten that the Kennedys have also known a great deal of success, perhaps a disproportionate amount measured by what they might actually have deserved. But who would dare speak of Camelot now?

note: Miguel Estrugo has called attention to the similarity between Mr. Arnold's crescent shaped craft and the German Gotha Go-229 built by the Germans during WWII.

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