Psychosocial hypothesis

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For other uses of "psychosocial", see Psychosocial (disambiguation)

In ufology, the psychosocial or psychocultural hypothesis, colloquially abbreviated PSH or PCH, argues that at least some UFO reports are best explained by psychological or social means. It is often contrasted with the better known extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH), and is particularly popular among UFO researchers in the United Kingdom, such as David Clarke, Hilary Evans, the editors of Magonia magazine, and many of the contributors to Fortean Times magazine. It is also popular in France since the publication in 1977 of a book written by Michel Monnerie,[1] Et si les ovnis n'existaient pas? (What if ufos do not exist?).

UFOlogists claim that the psychocultural hypothesis is occasionally confused with aggressive anti-ETH debunking, but that there is an important difference in that the PCH researcher sees UFOs as an interesting subject that is worthy of serious study, even if it is approached in a skeptical (i.e. non-credulous) way.[2]

The psychocultural hypothesis is not a single, all-encompassing explanation of the UFO phenomenon, but explains different cases in different ways, all centering in some way on human behavior. Examples of PCH explanations are wishful thinking, hallucinations, hoaxes and misidentification of mundane objects[citation needed]. Because of its emphasis on human behavior, it attempts to explain why such a phenomenon is interpreted the way it has been, sometimes through pre-existing motifs and memetic selection[citation needed].

One of the arguments in favor of the psychocultural hypothesis compared with less mainstream interpretations (e.g. interdimensional "tricksters" or extraterrestrial visitors) is that the latter lie outside the body of knowledge currently accepted by science whereas the PCH does not (cf. Occam's razor).



[edit] The paradox of science fiction UFOs

Several authors underline the fact that the science-fiction magazines, stories, etc., curiously predate the UFO phenomena. Bertrand Méheust, a French sociologist, in his 1978 book Science-fiction et soucoupes volantes (Science-Fiction and flying saucers),[3] claimed that almost every aspect of the UFO phenomena can be located in pulp magazines of the beginning of the 20th century, well before the beginning of the modern UFO phenomena around 1947 .

In the same vein, in his article The truth is: They never were saucers,[4] Robert Sheaffer argued that just after the Kenneth Arnold case, most witnesses described UFOs as saucer- shaped, which agrees with the "flying saucer" reports in the media coverage of the event, but allegedly disagreed with what Arnold himself reported seeing, claiming Arnold instead reported "flying boomerangs." Sheaffer then argued that this type of phenomenon demonstrates the importance of the culture in UFO narratives.

However, in fact, Arnold was never quoted at the time using the term "flying boomerangs", instead describing the shape as like a saucer or disc or pie pan, and also drew a picture for Army Air Intelligence of an irregular flat rounded object with a trailing point. Later he would add that one of the nine objects he saw was different from the disc-like ones in being crescent-shaped or somewhat like a flying wing. (see Kenneth Arnold sighting for period quotes and Arnold drawing).

[edit] Mass hysteria

Some authors have argued that the UFO phenomena shows aspects of a mass hysteria, especially during UFO Waves. The French psychiatrist George Heuyer wrote this hypothesis in 1954 in a note to the Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine.[5]

[edit] History of the PSH

With his essay 'Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies (1958), Carl Gustav Jung[6] can be seen as one of the founding father of the PSH. On the other hand, because of his use of the concept of synchronicity in this book, he is also one of the founding father of paranormal explanations of the UFO phenomena. However, even though Jung at times advanced the idea that UFOs might be partly psychological manifestations, he was also on record stating that some might be true physical objects under intelligent control, citing in particular radar corroboration. Jung also seriously considered the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. For example, Associated Press quoted him in 1958 saying, "a purely psychological explanation is ruled out." The flying saucers were real and "show signs of intelligent guidance and quasi-human pilots. I can only say for certain that these things are not a mere rumor, something has been seen. ...If the extraterrestrial origin of these phenomena should be confirmed, this would prove the existence of an intelligent interplanetary relationship. ...That the construction of these machines proves a scientific technique immensely superior to ours cannot be disputed."[7]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Monnerie, M. (1977). Et si les ovnis n’existaient pas ? Paris : Les Humanoïdes Associés.
  2. ^ "Ritual Debunker Abuse", the Hierophant, Fortean Times issue 216 (November 2006), page 13.
  3. ^ Méheust, B. (1978). Science-fiction et soucoupes volantes - Une réalité mythico-physique, Paris: Mercure de France
  4. ^ The Truth is: They never were saucers
  5. ^ Heuyer, G. (1954). Note sur les psychoses collectives. Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine, 138, 29-30, 487-490.
  6. ^ Jung, Carl Gustav (1958). Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.
  7. ^ Many newspapers, e.g., New York Herald Tribune, Stars and Stripes, July 30, 1958

[edit] External links

[edit] Further reading

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