Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Debate Over Exopolitics

Alfred Lehmberg, on Strange Days... Indeed last night, suggested that there be an on-air (i.e. radio) debate about exopolitics, between a proponent of exopolitics, and an opponent. While I usually ignore Mr. Lehmberg, I find myself agreeing with him - sort of - on this one.

Of course, as with anything that comes from Mr. Lehmberg, appearances are deceiving. His agenda is not quite what it appears to be.

First, he wants Victor Viggiani to be the "neutral" moderator of any such debate. The problem here is that Mr. Viggiani is an exopolitics supporter (he is a member of the advisory board of Michael Salla's "Exopolitics Institute", and organized the exopolitics conference in Toronto last September). He is not neutral on the issue, by any stretch of the imagination.

Second, Mr. Lehmberg wants to be one of the on-air judges of who won the debate. Like Mr. Viggiani, he is hardly neutral on this issue (indeed, he suggested last night that my call to give exopolitics the "cold shoulder" was akin to book burning, missing my point entirely, and, I suspect, on purpose).

Most important, however, is that he wants the debate to be between Stephen Bassett and yours truly. Now, I agree that Mr. Bassett, as a defender of all things exopolitical, is a good choice (although Michael Salla or Alfred Webre, as the most vocal proponents, would be better). But me as the opponent? Why?

Simple - the reason Mr. Lehmberg wants me to be the face of opposition to exopolitics is because I'm easy to attack. It doesn't require him, or others of like mind, to think about the actual issues - they dislike me from the get-go (neo-klasskurtzian, rampant narcissist, rapacious net weasel, Christo-fascist book burner that I am, at least according to Mr. Lehmberg). I'm the perfect straw-man to set up for such a debate. It makes it easy for them to support the exopolitical side if I'm the opponent, just as it was easy to support the ETH when you trotted out Phil Klass as your opponent (as opposed, say, to a ufologist like Brad Sparks who does not accept that the ETH is the ETFact)

While I love debating, and have more than my fair share of experience (I would prefer a cross-examination format, FYI), there are better opponents out there, with greater stature, and decades of UFO research experience behind them. They would be a lot more difficult for the likes of Mr. Lehmberg to easily dismiss. They would confound his comfort zone - and that, in and of itself, would be fun to watch.

But, like I said, the principle of Mr. Lehmberg's idea is sound. So here's my counter-proposal:

1. Make it happen, but pick a truly neutral moderator. No offense to Mr. Viggiani, but he isn't that person. He has, as Kevin Randle has been known to say, a "dog in the hunt".

2. Make the debate about the "methodology" that exopolitics employs, the "ideas" that underpin it, and the increasingly belligerent tactics of its proponents when confronting anyone who disagrees with them, i.e. the use of the loaded "codeword" debunker to describe people like Stan, Brad, and Kevin, which was the "crossing of the Rubicon" to which I alluded, not Dr. Salla's views on Corso, or whomever (a point that seemed to be lost on some people).

3. Let the listeners themselves judge who "won" or "lost".

4. Get one of the following opponents of exopolitics (or the "debunkers", as they've recently been labelled by people - including, just yesterday, Paola Harris, all without a peep of protest from Mr. Lehmberg et al) to take the "con" side - Stan Friedman, Brad Sparks, Kevin Randle, Dick Hall.

That would really be a debate worth listening to - Stephen Bassett, or Michael Salla, versus Stan Friedman, or Kevin Randle. Or maybe Steven Greer versus Dick Hall. Or Alfred Webre versus Brad Sparks.

It would require people to make a choice - they would have to answer the question Billy Bragg once posed: "which side are you on, boys, which side are you on".

Given the choice between Messrs. Bassett, Greer, Salla, and Webre on the one hand (buttressed by the ghosts of the contactee movement), and Messrs. Hall, Sparks, Randle and Friedman on the other (buttressed by the ghosts of Hynek and MacDonald), I know which side I'm on (and yes, folks, sometimes it is about picking sides - there are times when there is no room for squishy relativism).

I think it would be the end of exopolitics, and would return ufology back to what I see as its proper course - serious research about a serious question (about which reasonable people can reasonably disagree).

And that would be a good thing.

Paul Kimball


Alfred Lehmberg said...
AVG Blog --

Paul Kimball said...

I'll leave Mr. Lehmberg's link up, because if you wander over to his Website, you'll see exactly how he "thinks" - and why his debate proposal was really just as an attempt to deflect attention from the real issues at hand.

He is a spinner for exopolitics. Nasty, and not very effective, but a spinner all the same. Kind of like an impotent, exopolitical Karl Rove. Just as mean-spirited, just as intellectually dishonest (still not a word of protest at Salla and Harris's labeling of Stan et al as debunkers), and just as intent on using wedge tactics to push his views forward.

Examine his writings (for years now), and then ask yourself - what has he ever contributed of substance to the serious study of the UFO phenomenon? Nothing. Rien. Nada. Zip. Zilch. And so on.

Welcome to the future of ufology as envisaged by the exopols. It isn't a pretty sight.

Paul Kimball

Anonymous said...

I agree Paul. That EBK keeps him on board reflects poorly on him and his show.


Alfred Lehmberg said...

I have an interest in guitar, also, Mr. Wise...

"Later That Night" appended to current entry...
AVG Blog --

Paul Kimball said...


Well, ufology is lucky to have guys like you around who DO contribute to the serious study of the UFO phenomenon. While the masses may overlook your work - one wonders how many Exopols et al have ever actually bothered to visit, much less read through, the PBB Archive - there are people who recognize its importance, and are thankful that you and others continue to move things forward, i.e. conduct and / or facilitate research in a reasoned, objective manner, with the long-term goal of discovering the truth, whatever that may be.


The Odd Emperor said...

It’s really amazing.

I can’t really say that people like Lehmberg are necessarily bad for UFOlogy. If you like a tabloid, circus-like atmosphere than he’s made quite a contribution. But he’s not doing research, he’s not really interested in discovering truth of any kind. Mostly he’s flapping his gums being irritating.

He probably does good radio for as I’m sure you know. Audiences tend to side with the most outrageous argument. And Al loves to be outrageous! Alas there’s little reasoning and no objectivity but that’s the sorry state of UFOlogy today.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Really, Mr. Pettingill, you've quite swallowed your nose and don't even know it.
AVG Blog --

The Odd Emperor said...

As usual Mr. Lehmberg, that doesn’t make very much sense.