a friendly tip for ufologists

July 22, 2009

Over at Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait tries to explain why astronomers don’t seem to notice any of the countless alien spacecraft supposedly buzzing overhead. According to Phil, most UFO reports are misidentified planets, stars, weather balloons or satellites buzzing overhead, everyday things that both amateur and professional astronomers know how to distinguish from say, a mother ship piloted by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization all the way from Tau Seti or Zeta Riticuli. It makes perfect sense that UFOs would be extremely rare. If even half of all the reported sightings were honest to goodness alien craft, any military on the planet would be in a state of sheer panic right now.

ufo in a hangar

But wait a second. Why do ufologists like to mention the sheer volume of flying saucer reports when all we really need is just one, concrete case with solid evidence? When it comes to science, an argumentum ad populum is pretty much meaningless. Thinking that something happened in the absence of falsifiable proof makes your position a belief. People agreeing with your interpretation of a puzzling event and reporting similar ones, makes that position a popular belief. And yet none of them prove that your stance is backed by anything other than your opinion. It’s just like the pareidolia responsible for constant sightings of saints on cheese sandwiches or in knots of tree bark. Lots of people see it, but it’s hardly definitive proof of the supernatural.

So why focus on quantity rather than quality? Because humans are social creatures and we’re very prone to jumping on bandwagons, often accepting the flawed premise that because many people believe something, there must be at least some truth to it. This is why we have bestsellers and “most popular” sections on news sites and blogs. Ufologists who invoke the sheer amount of sightings people can’t immediately explain, are appealing to our social nature, using it to bolster a point in the absence of solid proof.

The fact of the matter is that alien craft designed to cross interstellar space would have to be huge in order to generate the energy required to make the trip. We’d be able to detect the bursts of radiation coming from their engines. And if they show up multiple times, they’d need to be more or less uniform rather than come in the wildly different shapes, colors and arrangements we hear about today since making every spaceship in a huge fleet unique is not what a species that can manufacture spacecraft on an industrial scale is likely to do. Real alien encounters would leave consistent, falsifiable proof and all we’d really need is one good case to say that there’s just might be something to this whole UFO thing.

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  • readmymind

    Gives people a hobby. It all works out in the end.
    Interesting read :]

  • jimbo

    It never ceases to amaze me how easily gullible people will jump to the conclusion that , even tho they may never have wittnessed a single incident that could not be explained by the present laws of physics in their lives, that somehow, against all odds alien beings are touring thru our skys, joyriding all around the Earth with no understandable agenda in mind, just for the fun of it…..Instead of considering that as the absolutely last possible explanation, they jump on it as the first and most reasonable explanation for what we are seeing in our skies…Obviously people are seeing “something” up there, but what is it??? I tend to think its much more likely that whatever it is human beings are responsible for it, not imaginary aliens…Peoples false belief in these aliens is so powerfull that they feel justified in manufacturing fake ‘evidence’ to prove their point…They just KNOW that they exist, but they just haven’t been in the right place at the right time to actually catch one:o) Soooo, they don’t feel guilty about creating their own “evidence” to convince those stubborn fools that insist on seeing some real proof….Tsk tsk tsk, that pesky old proof, hard to come by………

  • Dan Frederiksen

    Greg Fish, you are comically unintelligent : )

    it’s funny how such small minds want to paint thinking people as the ones who are wrong.
    and it’s ironic you invoke psychological mistakes in defense of your position that is one big failure of psychology.

    your first mistake is to claim the earth is flat because you have not personally seen it as round and in your obtuseness you are very opposed to thinking about it. you just want to assume. the second and related psychological defect is your let your mind be dictated by fear of the unknown and the grand. you want to keep your world view intact because it is is a burden to modify it.

    from those spring another idiotic stance that is very common among ‘skeptics’ (not the gov paid kind) and that is the apriori ignorant conclusion of lack of evidence. as if the only valid evidence would be something physical in your hands that you could play with. another weakminded artifact.

    it’s quite right that volume in itself does not constitute proof otherwise it would be a fact that american idol is a good show when in reality it is fodder for the sheep. but the premise you attach to the volume, that there isn’t certainty is born from the above psychological failures and ignorance. while cases are indeed voluminous in the extreme there are many case that on their own constitutes certainty and high volume of which does not detract, but indeed overwhelm.

    the case with the 62 children in zimbabwe is one such case where nothing but reality can be an explanation. the 1986 japan airlines contact that was corroborated by FAA is another. Kecksburg 1965, Rendlesham forest incident, Travis Walton etc not to mention the abduction phenomenon.

    you make further grave logical errors. you assume their method of propulsion would be any physics you know about and would produce radiation you could detect. you assume that the phenomenon has to be so rare as to only involve a few repeating vehicle types thus infer that the variations on design we are seeing must be evidence of fiction. fantastically idiotic conclusion but you’ll probably never be convinced otherwise.

    if you actually tried to be scientific and looked at the extreme volume of evidence you would come to much different conclusions.

    the evidence at hand suggests the following. that of course UFOs are real and not imaginary, in the sense of being apparent ET vehicles. that they visit earth with high frequency and in great numbers from different civilizations that may be very numerous themselves. some appear to be rare or maybe one time visitors, maybe exploring the region for the very first time and from very distant origin. others appear to be repeat offenders visiting on a regular basis and seemingly have been for a very long time. some may have permanent presence. it follows logically that the UFO phenomenon is ancient in the extreme and visitation should be expected to be millions or billions of years old.

    the surprisingly voluminous abduction phenomenon affords us a fastastic glimpse into the beings behind it, their technology and their motivations. one somewhat surprising aspect that the EVIDENCE dictates but your small weak mind wont like is that the beings are overwhelmingly reported to be telepathic, able to read minds as well as speak to your mind and more. both the classic grey types but also a wide array of humans ranging from those who look exactly like beautiful caucasians to a more alien looking but still very human like ET. it seems the default configuration of high standing life in the universe is telepathic ability and all that comes with it. it speaks to a spiritual reality and indeed conversations with the beings confirm such a spiritual reality as part of their beliefs. there are other races, some we would call reptilian in appearance, some are short stocky brownish red. some have quite potent smells like ammonia. the greys are said to excrete through their skin and as a result smell like decaying plant matter.

    a praying mantis type is also reported (ant like head)

    the greys are not a single race but a class of races, just like there are many human looking races that are not from the same planet. but all races so far appear to be of humanoid configuration, two legs, two arms.
    idiots might well say that’s evidence it’s not real because in their stupid minds aliens have to look wildly different, like a blob or flying fish. but two legs and two arms of course make a lot of sense for a mobile and technological being. you need to move, you need to build. a dog can’t do that. a fucking blob certainly can’t either.

    the evidence further ‘suggests’ other surprises. we appear to be widely genetically compatible with most if not all races. that ET genes are not only the same helix type but so identical that we can readily interbreed with some races and others are close enough to be merged through genetic engineering.
    this suggests a common ancestry or something even more extreme.

    this is where the evidence takes you. if you actually look at it.

    their technology is quite impressive but not so foreign that a technologically minded human from earth could not quickly get comfortable with it. although the ‘supernatural’ ability side of it might be somewhat of a stumbling block. their daily lives do not appear to differ wildly from ours, they have hallways, living quarters, they push buttons, they walk around, they eat. they have meetings and they go on missions.

    as primitive as we are, an ipad would not seem out of place onboard one of these fantastic vehicles. although they would know that it’s inferior tech. in other words the technologies of those that do visit us in person are not beyond our mental ability to comprehend.

    they also appear to be quite mortal and age and die, some with lifespan as short or shorter than ours but others might have fairly extreme lifespans into the hundreds of years.

    it is logically quite possible, although I don’t yet have specific intel on this, that races of much greater sophistication exist that never interact with us, maybe because their daily lives are so far ahead of us that contact would be largely meaningless.

    those ETs we do have contact with that appear to be not that far advanced from us do seem to have history ranging back in time in the extreme. some of these civilizations seem to millions to billions of years old and seem to have changed very little despite the extreme timespan. maybe there is a technological plateau that’s relatively easily achieved and hardly exceeded. maybe at a certain point in development the beings move on to a different domain.

    the evidence further suggests that there are long standing agreements between some elements within some governments of earth and some races, and that open contact has been ongoing. unfortunately this is predominantly military. some abductees (experiencers/contactees) report seeing earth officials onboard the ET vehicles. there is some less solid evidence that ETs are also present at some earth human locations as part of the same cooperation.

    the evidence also overwhelmingly indicates that a grey fraction abducts for the purposes of doing genetic and procreation experiments often creating hybrid beings between greys and earth humans. the exact purpose of which is unclear.

    the abduction phenomenon is surprisingly rich in detail but due to human psyche limitations it is not widely reported even among serious ufo researchers. one common detail is a socalled mind scan where a grey places his head such that the eye is very close to the abductee’s. this seems to strengthen the telepathy function and is used to either probe for information or to control and implant impressions and memories. one striking example is where a woman reported being telepathically brought to orgasm. she knew it was happening and tried to fight it but it still happened and she deeply resented it.

    as bizarre as that sounds, it is what the evidence suggests. if you want to claim to be scientific you should deal with the evidence instead of the paddy cake downs syndrome intellect you have displayed so far.

    and there is much more. think

  • Greg Fish

    Ok Dan, just a quick tip for the future. If you’re going to sway someone with evidence, your reply shouldn’t begin with and then be peppered with insults about his cognitive skills. Also, just because you call claims you make evidence does not make them so. Again, just a friendly hint.

  • Dan Frederiksen

    it’s not a random barrage of claims. that’s more of your irrational mindset, trying to label it with bias as if that makes it any less real. you should deal with it because it’s the evidence.

    try to deal with the issues I raised instead of unintelligently trying to label me David Icke as if that would somehow logically dismiss me by association. I am a lot smarter than Icke.

    and your claim that US spy planes have been mistaken for UFOs is complete bullshit. that’s a fact you pull out of your ass. simpleminded protection of your world view. the SR71 flew at very high altitude, noone saw them, never reported as a sighting, never photographed by people before it was shown to the public. same with the U2. the B2 bomber was built in Los Angeles, noone ever saw it before it was made public.

    yet hundreds of millions of people around the world have seen UFOs. and yes I know you want to protect your little mind by pretending they saw venus and got confused and carried away. that sounds good as long as you don’t actually look at the evidence. what people are reporting is often well beyond any room for misinterpretation and most certainly is not a fucking B2 or SR71.

    my claims were ripped from witnesses, not from a scifi novel. actually dealing with the evidence at hand unlike you.

    and it is of course moronic to claim that you want some ET hardware to look at before you will entertain any intelligence on the matter. sure it would be nice but that’s not the same as logically mandated. logi doesn’t dismiss reality just because you can’t have it in your hands. these are not lab mice with which we can do what we see fit. it’s ETs with much higher tech than we have.

    show me a rational analysis of just this single UFO case

  • Greg Fish

    my claims were ripped from witnesses, not from a scifi novel. actually dealing with the evidence at hand unlike you.

    Right… You have the evidence to know about the lifespan and exploits of alien species which you attribute to unnamed eyewitnesses but I’m the one who’s irrational. And my rational analysis, should of course include bowing down before YouTube videos and pronouncing myself at the disposal of my future alien masters. Have fun with that.

  • Dan Frederiksen

    I must have missed your analysis of the children’s testimony as interviewed by harvard psychiatrist and pulitzer prize winner John E Mack.

    if you weren’t so deeply irrational you wouldn’t pretend that it mattered that you see the video via youtube. the video can be found many other ways, that’s just most convenient. but because you are mindless you look for excuses to stay mindless. I’d suggest an adjustment of your mind.

    less posturing, more evidence.

    you go ahead and delete it. you can’t be reached anyway

  • Greg Fish

    Mack turned into a UFO believer of sorts who initially thought those who told him about sightings and abductions were suffering from mental illness. He found that they were not losing their minds, and started giving a lot of credit to their accounts. His scientific contribution to ufology was demonstrating that those who claimed to see UFOs or get taken by aliens were not certifiably mentally ill in the vast majority of cases. He did not show that the phenomenon was real alien spaceships abducting people at random, he never said he blamed aliens, just that he met a lot of people who experienced very similar and bizarre phenomena they interpreted as alien abductions. How credulous he was is certainly debatable, but his thought process as he laid it out himself was as follows: if a patient says he was abducted by aliens/saw UFOs, doesn’t show signs of a mental illness like schizophrenia, and seems genuine, maybe he’s right.

    But of course most self-identified abductees don’t suffer from mental illness, they had very odd experiences they don’t know how to describe and which they don’t remember well because under stress, the brain has a hard time recording memories accurately, and they want to make sense of it somehow. In many countries, these experiences are routinely chalked up to demons or evil spirits. In America, it’s generally aliens because that’s what meshes with our pop culture and fills in the blanks since they hear about a lot of abduction stories. In Japan, experiences identical to how abductions start have a terrifying old woman staring down at the paralyzed victim, sitting in front of a bright light form an unknown source, not an alien. The alien is more of an American thing.

    In fact, pretty much all alien abductions and most UFO reports originate from the U.S., and when you go north or south of the border, reports of both plunge. Now we can say that other countries are just underreporting their encounters and there are hot spots of activity in the UK, France, and the Netherlands, and those talking about evil spirits who attack them at night are really getting abducted, but considering that all we have to use are eyewitness reports, blurry videos (of which many have been outright hoaxes), and odd photographs (many of which are admitted hoaxes as well), how do we prove that someone really saw a UFO or was abducted by aliens rather than had a run in with an evil spirit roaming his or her city for victims? How do we confirm hotspots?

    Finally, let’s get to Mack’s awards and position. Yes, he was an Ivy League researcher, and yes he won a Pulitzer, but he won it for his book about a British Lt. Col., not for his work on ufology, and neither his specialization in psychology, or his work with military history, gives him the qualifications to determine if we’re being visited by aliens. That’s a job for the other sciences. All Mack can do is prove to us that a lot of people saw the odd light or shape in the sky and they’re not crazy but their mental state tells us nothing about the nature of what they saw in any tangible way. I don’t care if what video was on YouTube or premiered at a screening at Harvard or Yale. It doesn’t prove that what the children saw was extraterrestrial, just that they saw something. Could there be aliens circling overhead? Sure. If you actually read this blog, I have tons of posts about how a myriad of alien life forms could evolve, and how and why they could come to Earth.

    But the odds are astronomical (this blog explains why many times), and until we film a UFO abducting someone or have one land in a major city to take a look around, there’s simply too many questions left unanswered to dive headfirst into the belief that we are being surveyed by aliens and that we actually know anything about them for certain. In your efforts to justify your belief however, you dismiss anything that questions the idea as irrational in a knee-jerk reaction. Of course some UFOs turned out to be spy planes or experimental fighters and bombers, they were being seen by those who lived close to the bases where they were tested and not every one of their test flights took them all the way up to their service ceiling right away, denying anyone a good look at them. And yes, not every eyewitness account is gold. If it was, wrongful convictions would simply not exist because court testimony would always be 100% accurate.