Guest Commentary

A Scienrific Mystery-Solving Strategy

By Bill Hamilton (

In researching for a scientific approach to the UFO phenomena and the wider sphere of paranormal phenomena, I stumbled on this strategy which serves as a broad approach to scientific mystery solving. My comments are in parentheses.

Question: You begin with a puzzle, a mystery, a surprising event: You don't understand a phenomenon which has occurred, or which occurs regularly.

(Whether it a UFO sighting, cattle mutilation, crop circle, abduction, or any beyond normal repetitive everyday event, we start to collect reports, raw data, and attempt to classify observations)

Hypothesis: Try to imagine a process or situation which meets this criterion: If what you've imagined were really the case, the puzzling phenomenon would make sense.

(We have certainly imagined many hypotheses:  Extraterrestrial, Extradimensional, secret aircraft, unknown atmospheric phenomena, balloons, pelicans, meteors, fireballs, ball lightning, etc... but which hypothesis makes sense of the collective data when assembled and analyzed?)

Testing: Find out if the hypothesis itself makes sense, by exploring its other consequences: If it were correct, what else should be observed? What would show that the hypothesis is wrong?

(Suppose we hypothesize that at least some UFOs are Extraterrestrial spacecraft.  If that were correct, would we observe alien-looking entities near or around such craft?  Would that be sufficient to prove this hypothesis or do we need an actual craft available for examination by a team of engineers and scientists?  If UFOs were not extraterrestrial, then what observations indicate this hypothesis to be in error?)

Evaluation: Decide whether the results of testing warrant accepting the hypothesis as a plausible explanation for the phenomenon. Consider the possibility of further testing, and whether other hypotheses might provide a better explanation.

(Is there any protocol for testing various UFO hypotheses?  Should we begin with submitting already collected evidence to a number of scientific consultants for their analysis?  How would such scientists be chosen?  Could we determine if they had selective bias that would preclude them from carrying out an objective investigation? Has any hypothesis already been proved, but the proof not revealed?)

The 4 steps above may not be the correct strategy in your opinion. If not, can you suggest a strategy?  Scientific methods vary among scientists and layman as well.  When it comes to hypotheses in science controversy is part of the dialogue.  As long as this dialogue adheres to rational discussion without resort to ad hominem attacks, sweeping generalizations, and other logical fallacies, then fruitful discussion of the evidence and what it implies can proceed toward greater discovery.


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