Psychosocial Hypothesis

Psychosocial Hypothesis

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 Dr. David Clarke, 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 [Monnerie, M. (1977). "Et si les ovnis n’existaient pas ?" Paris : Les Humanoïdes Associés.] , "Et si les ovnis n'existaient pas?" ("What if ufos do not exist?").

The psychocultural hypothesis is occasionally confused with aggressive anti-ETH debunking, but 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."Ritual Debunker Abuse", the Hierophant, "Fortean Times" issue 216 (November 2006), page 13.]

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. 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.

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).

A different form of "psychocultural hypothesis" has been used by some ETH proponents in the dispute over alleged misconduct by mainstream society towards witnesses in several UFO cases, arguing that skepticism directed against such witnesses is itself a psychocultural trend conditioned by the authorities.

The paradox SF-UFO

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") [Méheust, B. (1978). "Science-fiction et soucoupes volantes - Une réalité mythico-physique", Paris: Mercure de France] , shows that almost every aspect of he UFO phenomena can be located in the pulp magazine at the beginning of the 20th century, way before the beginning of the UFO phenomena in 1947 (Kenneth Arnold sighting).

Conversely, one can find abduction narratives written decades before the gateway case of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction. How that is to be explained within the Sci-Fi theory is troubling to some. Bertrand Méheust thinks that it involves some kind of precognition from the writers. [citation needed]

In the same line of argumentations, in his article "The truth is: They never were saucers" [ [http://www.csicop.org/si/9709/sheaffer.html The Truth is: They never were saucers] ] , Robert Sheaffer underlines the fact that just after the Kenneth Arnold case, most of the witness described ufos according to the media coverage of the event, but not according the factual descriptions of the objects made by Arnold himself, which demonstrates the importance of the culture in ufo narratives.

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" [Heuyer, G. (1954). Note sur les psychoses collectives. Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine, 138, 29-30, 487-490.] .

History of the PSH

With his essay "'Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies" (1958), Carl Gustav Jung [Jung, Carl Gustav (1958). "Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies".] 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.

References

External links

* [http://theness.com/articles.asp?id=46 UFO's: The Psychocultural Hypothesis] - By Steven Novella
* [http://skepdic.com/ufos_ets.html UFO (unidentified flying object)] in the Skeptic's Dictionary

Further reading

* Harvard reference
Surname1=Clark|Given1=Jerome|Authorlink1=Jerome Clark
Title=The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial
Year=1998
Publisher=Visible Ink
ID=ISBN 1-57859-029-9


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