Which is Moving, the Lunatic or the Fringe?

by rthieme on July 1, 1998

Q: When you watch a flag blow in the wind, which is moving, the flag or the wind?

A: The mind is moving.

For introspective types, the movement of our minds is good recreation. The fun of investigating phenomena that challenge our consensus realties is observing how our minds move in response to anomalous data. Like UFO phenomena.

People in the UFO cottage industry often remind me of pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer long ago described the monks and friars who take advantage of the faithful by exploiting their credulous tendencies. Those in the digital world know that you can make a living selling images and symbols.

Of course, scientists too have their orthodoxies and heresies. The recent announcement of a panel of scientists who want to investigate UFOs (again) provoked a predictable response from those who think that an open mind would link them to the “lunatic fringe.”

O give me a home where the lunatics roam, out here on the fringe. That our island earth is the sole outpost of intelligent life, that we are the top of the food chain, the only apple of God’s eye in an orchard that stretches for light years in all directions – I don’t THINK so.

Here are some quotes. Observe how your mind moves in response.

Senator Barry Goldwater: “Highly secret government UFO investigations are going on that we don’t know about.”

FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover: “We must insist upon full access to disks recovered. in the La case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.” (July 10, 1947)

“The matter is the most highly classified subject in the US Government, rating higher even than the H-bomb. Flying saucers exist. Their modus operandi is unknown but concentrated effort is being made by a small group headed by Dr. Vannevar Bush.”
(Wilbert Smith, a Canadian government memo, November 21, 1950)

Mikhail Gorbachev: “The phenomenon of UFOs does exist and must be treated seriously.” (May 4, 1990)

A beginner’s mind is open to possibilities, while the minds of those who know are filled to the brim. In our best moments, we know that we know nothing. We are becalmed. And a breeze begins to stir.

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