Articles

Status Inconsistency Theory and Flying Saucer Sightings

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Science  06 Nov 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3958, pp. 599-603
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3958.599

Abstract

The analysis is completed. Through a series of propositions and hypothesized links between the reporting of UFO sightings and a particular kind of social position, the utility of social theory as a basis for explaining phenomena presumed to be in the domain of the physical sciences has been demonstrated. Nothing in the data rejects the possibility that some individuals have, in fact, seen objects propelled from another solar system or that all observations are of ill-understood or misperceived terrestrial phenomena. Empirical science, particularly social science, does not address itself to ultimate truth. What has been attempted here is the employment of a sociological theory to account successfully for observed regularity in patterns of UFO sightings. Another and reasonable, though not necessarily mutually exclusive, procedure for organizing social data might provide an equal degree of explanatory consistency. This analysis merely emphasizes the need to utilize such approaches outside the confines of laboratory groups and the more convenient and established domains of social science. Our analysis has presented just one application of sociological theory to the complex interplay among quasi-scientific phenomena, physical science knowledge, and human behavior in society.