Dan’s Double-Bind
Beyond Fermi’s paradox


Without trying too hard you have, nonetheless, managed to misconstrue my argument.

Bless you! You are actually a precious resource here, being one of the very few non-ufologists braving these alien infested waters. There is a creepy critter under almost every one of these rocks. Just ask Dick!

I wonder if you don't think we aren't just a bit deficient in the sanity department.

You do seem to recognize that 'insanity' is a fact of life, and not likely to go away in anyone's lifetime.

If we were to put a positive spin on insanity, we could simply call it thinking outside the box. It would seem, Larry, that you are a confirmed boxologist. When it comes to paradigms, you would much rather fight than switch. You serve here as a sometimes-articulate representative of the silent majority of non-boatrockers.

It is a very comforting sight to see the ship of state sailing peacefully into the sunset. Who would want to disturb such a picture? At other times we cast a weather eye and see a red sky in the morning. Do we batten down the hatches or do we set every sail and hope to outrun the storm? Do we throw caution to the winds?

All of us ufologists see a larger reality than you boxologists. There is before us a kind of Pascal's wager. The ufologists might be wrong, and if we are what is the harm? You are concerned that we might upset the ship of state. Our particular 'insanity' does show the tangible effects of contagion. The UFO virus has demonstrated its virulence. Spreading such a virus before a storm would seem to be the height of folly. At the first gust of wind the ship of state might go belly-up. Better that we keep our shoulders to the wheel, our noses to the grindstone, and so on.

Science and technology have brought us a great abundance. Let us not look this gift horse too carefully in the mouth. But this is just where things get to be slightly interesting.

Just what is this gift horse of science on whose tit we have been sucking for lo' these several centuries? How many more centuries of milk are left in this tit, and where will we be when that well runs dry?

You pat us the head and tell us that the well shows no sign of going dry, and that we need not worry our little minds, but just keep our noses to the grindstone of science and we will continue to receive our just rewards.

Ah, but there is just one little hitch in this swagger. Beyond Pascal's wager, we now have Fermi's paradox. Where are all the other little suckers? Why aren't they here already? If Science is the ultimate cosmic tit, then the universe should be swarming with life and we should be seeing ample signs of it. Do we not instead smell something fishy, of cosmic proportions?

And so a great debate rages both inside and outside the halls of Academe. If they aren't here, why not? If they are, why are they being so damned coy about it?

Larry, if the cosmic tit is as great as you say it is then we surely should at least have been contacted by some of the other little suckers out there who should have been on this tit for at least a thousand times longer than we have.

This is why, Larry, UFO debunking is such a grim and lonely sport. UFOs, for better or worse, are our most tangible form of hope. Most observers of the human scene will tell you that hope is our very most rare and most precious commodity. If people have no hope, you can forget your wheels and grindstones, those people will simply not be getting out of bed in the morning.

Science can ever only point to the past, and it can never legitimately speak to the question of whether its Sun will be able to rise again tomorrow. It is only the ufologists who can lay claim to the hopes and fears of all our years.

It is your precious Science, Larry, that set us on our collision course with this, our ufological destiny. Now that this collision is upon us in a culturally irreversible manner, you wish to turn the clock back to a simpler and less portentous time. Too bad!

If the UFOs are not here, you had better pray for a new, science-transcending source of hope. If they are here, well, you had still better pray, just the same! You can call this 'Dan's double-bind'. It takes us far, far beyond Pascal's wager and Fermi's paradox!



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rev. 9/25/00