That's no moon… oh, wait, yes it is.

By Phil Plait | July 5, 2008 10:37 am

A UK woman called the police recently. He wanted to report a large object hovering over the trees for quite some time. The cops sent someone to check it out… and it was the Moon.

Stories like that make me (and everyone) laugh. How can you mistake the Moon for anything else? Yet people do it quite often. They actually don’t recognize the Moon, the second brightest object in the sky. Incredible.

Yet very credible. So remember that when someone claims to have seen a UFO and also says it couldn’t possibly have been anything other than a flying saucer. Ask them if they’re familiar with satellites, iridium flares, meteors, noctilucent clouds, halos, glories, parhelic arcs, crepuscular rays, autokinetic illusions, or even a flock of ducks. I spend a lot of time looking at the sky, and I know most people don’t. There’s a lot of stuff up there that can fool even experienced people, let alone those who don’t spend much time simply looking up.

The Moon. Heh.

Comments (108)

  1. I know the feeling:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/aparejador/2511704691/

    Although, if the phone call from this story was real, I have a hard time believe it wasn’t part of some sort of prank.

  2. peaches

    “A UK woman called the police recently.”

    Actually Phil the recording is of a man placing the phone call.

  3. Gareth

    South Wales.

    Says it all, really. They’re not too bright down there, unlike us Gogs… ;o)

  4. aleph1=c

    As a teacher, I get a constant input of the amazing things people think. Some examples of some of my students recently:

    1. People have been around for probably about 200 years.

    2. The left side of an equation is just the leftmost thing, etc. For example, with 2+x+6=10-x, dividing both sides by 2 gives you 1+x+6=10-x/2. It did not occur to this (high school!) student that the equals sign is what divides the equation into its two sides.

    3. The moon is always out at night. When you can’t see it, it’s because it’s cloudy.

    I think these are all just extreme examples of people not paying attention, like the lady who doesn’t recognize the moon.

  5. Hmmm. I didn’t realize there was a recording of it right there on the page! Funny I missed that, but listened to it and it’s indeed a man. I had read on another site it was a woman, and went with that. Anyway, I edited what I wrote.

  6. You have to admit, though, the moon can look super awesome and stunningly confusing sometimes. Case in point:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=4706

    Saw that photo and my jaw dropped. So cool!

    (BTW, awesome talk at TAM6… I really enjoyed it.)

  7. madge

    I saw (and I think sent you) this story a couple of days ago. I mean REALLY! As an amateur astronomer I have also seen things in the sky at night that made me stop and look twice (I was stumped for a good long while by a flock of geese uplit by street lights) but NEVER once was I tempted to call the police. And c’mon people this is THE MOON Fer Crissakes! It’s been around awhile. I have a friend who works on scaffolding and he is always astonished at how few people bother to LOOK UP when he calls their names. Looks like we have more than our share of idiots this side of the Ocean too. (madge hangs her head in shame at the dumbness of her fellow countryMAN and then scoots off to watch the final episode of Dr Who :)

  8. IBY

    That is just…. weird? I mean, it is the moon, sigh.. I guess some people never watch the sky.

  9. Just wow. I cannot imagine not recognizing the moon. I just can’t. But yeah, people don’t look up very often, I suppose.

  10. Dan

    It would seem that the madness plaguing Cardiff is spreading.

    Aside from that, thank goodness it wasn’t a streetlight (best Fark thread ever).

  11. Lazze

    Well – I know a woman who drove towards the moon to get close enough to see what that strange object hovering over the tree tops was. She figured out after a while though…

  12. Grand Lunar

    “So remember that when someone claims to have seen a UFO and also says it couldn’t possibly have been anything other than a flying saucer. Ask them if they’re familiar with satellites, iridium flares, meteors, noctilucent clouds, halos, glories, parhelic arcs, crepuscular rays, autokinetic illusions, or even a flock of ducks. ”

    This ought to be pointed out to the people that bash skeptics of UFO sightings. I’ve seen them on your YouTube videos, Phil.
    Boy, are those people stubborn! They let themselves be fooled by phenomenon that you see (nearly) every night!

    Makes me proud to be a skeptic.

  13. Michelle

    Heeheeheee. The moon.

    Frankly I remember I got fooled by the moon myself about 5 years ago. There were a few veil-like clouds in the sky. As I was coming back home, just got off the bus and all, I saw that very bright saucer-shaped like object low in the sky.

    I paused and just stared at it for a few seconds wondering what the heck that was, and literally ran home and came back with my binoculars. By the time I did, the clouds had moved away enough for me to see the perfectly innocent crescent moon just standing there.

    All that was was that the moon was almost totally covered by clouds, but there was a gap between the clouds that let some moonlight through… I felt pretty silly to get overexcited over that. But it was a cute crescent.

  14. Meeee

    When I first read about this (saw it a while ago), I thought “what?”

    Then I noticed it was from Wales, and I remembered that ridiculous UFO sighting (where a police helicopter was “attacked”, and it turned out it was just a balloon), and since that there has been a minor surge in UFO interest in the media….

    So I just assumed this was someone taking the piss and having a laugh.

  15. Stephen

    The UFO sightings that I and some friends investigated in the Netherlands in the 1990’s mostly turned out to be laser shows or advertising balloons. To the credit of the observers, none of them was insisting that they had seen alien spaceships – they’d just seen something odd and were wondering what on earth it was. One of the sightings was of Jupiter. The most interesting one was during a very hot summer and was probably a group of fireflies, several hundred kilometres north of their usual range.

    No, we didn’t have any of the moon.

  16. I could understand it if it had been the sun – we don’t get to see that weird shiny thing very often here in Birmingham!

  17. Mena

    Oddly enough, it has finally become clear enough to see anything and yesterday I showed my sister a bright object in the sky which had been there the night before. I still have no idea what it was but UFO was not an option at all, I was guessing Saturn. After looking stuff up, I’m guessing that it was either Jupiter or Arcturus. If I can see some constellations tonight I may be able to narrow that down a bit. It was really neat looking though. Very bright.

  18. John

    It is already common knowledge 95% of UFO sightings are explainable.

    I would like anyone here to explain what the other 5% are. Some of the recent reports in the UK are lanterns or balloons, but if you bothered to read the others which are described as an object which zig-zags across the sky, moves faster than a plane and appears much bigger than a lantern would. These are reports given by a Cardiff University Professor and Royal Navy Aircraft Engineers.

    None of the witnesses claimed they had seen an alien spaceship, they only said it could not have been balloons, lanterns, planes or other explainable objects. Therefore what they saw was a UFO since it is currently unidentified. The Somerset sighting by the engineers was described as looking exactly like a flying saucer though by the BBC, before it flew off.

    Of course this was the Moon in this case, and I agree is very funny that someone could think the Moon could be anything else, but not all sightings that go reported can be explained by conventional science. To say that they can is an incorrect statement. Also only a small percentage of actual sightings made will be reported.

    The police helicopter sighting has not been proven to be lanterns, only very likely to be lanterns, it would be interesting to see what the pilots actually think of that and whether further details of the sighting could either prove or disprove that.

    You can still be a sceptic whilst acknowledging that there are a few sightings that cannot be explained, and there are many credible witnesses that claim that their description is accurate and even multiple witnesses in different locations for the same event. These witnesses have been pilots, military, police in hundreds of sightings over the decades. There is no documented evidence to suggest that they are seeing alien space ships, but to suggest that sightings described as nothing like a lantern is a lantern is downright ignorant to the people who reported the sighting. We can be sceptical to what exactly it was they saw, but to say it was something that doesn’t fit the facts is not being a sceptic, it’s being a denier, and it’s not a scientific approach either!

    Not every sighting can be described by the list of phenomena above in this article either. A Sheffield Hallam Professor said the UFOs currently unexplained could be unknown weather phenomena, so there may be explanations other than aliens. If they do turn out to be aliens then the craft and occupants may look like the type science fiction writes about due to these being originally witnessed and so stories written were about them. This in turn was considered myth and here we are today saying that UFOs cannot be aliens because science fiction writes about them. Also we know at our current level of technology/science that it would be impossible to travel to distant stars, but we have no idea what a billion year old civilisation could do. Physicists are frequently updating the accepted equations and new theories are always being mentioned, it would be silly to assume that we know everything. It’s also silly to assume they would still use radio as SETI assumes. We are already using optics to replace radio, why would a civilisation still use radio that could be much more advanced. Astrophysicists are saying intelligent life is likely elsewhere. With the age of the Universe around 14 billion years, and the Earth around 4.5 billion years, then there’s been 9.5 billion years of evolutionary time before the Earth even existed!

    So called debunkers like to say “why do these UFOs have lights on them then, why make themselves visible to us at all, if they were aliens they wouldn’t have lights on them, etc”.
    But that doesn’t disprove the possibility, it’s just an opinion that alien ships would want to hide themselves. If you consider the possibility of aliens visiting and goverments not telling it’s people, maybe slowly letting people see them in the sky will eventually encourage goverments to disclose what they know before the aliens will want to land, to prevent mass panic. That is extremely hypothetical though, but just something for you to consider.

  19. The *moon*? Yikes.

    I can understand how other things can be seen as strange; There have been a few occasions where I saw collections of lights moving strangely at odd hours. At least once or twice, I’ve said to myself, “what the hell is that thing?”

    Knowing that I live maybe two or three miles from an airport pretty much nullifies any “ZOMG! SPACESHIP!” moments. Regardless, it’s easy to see how mistakes can be made.

    But – the frigging MOON?

  20. Gareth

    I should mention regarding my dig at the hwntws (that’s people from South Wales…) that us Gogs (that’s people from North Wales…) aren’t totally immune.

    After all, we have the site of the World Famous “Welsh Roswell” – the supposed Berwyn Mountain UFO crash of 1974…

    (The Berwyn Mountains are only a few miles away from my house)

    BTW – I’m not sure when Doctor Who is shown across the pond, so as a warning to those who don’t wish any spoilers for the end of the series – AVOID THE BBC WEBSITE! They’ve gone and put a whole article giving away the entire story of the series finale!

  21. quasidog

    The moon obviously looked pretty weird to the caller at the time, I mean, one generally would not mistake a white round circle .. or a white, side on cresent for anything else. As a few posters have pointed out, sometimes it looks anything but normal.

    I’ve been a amateur astronomer for near 20 years and sometimes, when the moon is in reverse ‘cheshire cat’ mode, or a weird yellow colour, or both, and coupled with it just sitting above a tree line or something, I have often had to double take. Sometimes a cloudy night can make it look strange. A few seconds later it would register in my mind as the moon.

    I really think when people mistake something like the moon for something else, it is usually not looking the way they expect the moon to look.

    … or maybe the guy was just drunk.

  22. Beth

    Mena, I’d guess you’re seeing Jupiter in the south near the teapot asterism. I’m visiting my Mom in the mountains of Colorado, and there have been a few splendidly crisp nights with Jupiter, the teapot, and the Milky Way seeming to steam out of the pot. You can check whether it’s Arcturus by following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper around to Arcturus. Jupiter is further south.

  23. Reminds me of a story I heard from a private pilot while at Space Camp. (Yes, really.) He was flying into Florida one night, and noticed something amazing from that direction. A huge orange ball of flame blossomed up from somewhere near the Cape, and at first he thought he must be witnessing a night launch. How lucky!

    Except the ball of flame got bigger… and bigger… and soon engulfed a whole chunk of South Florida. The pilot was so alarmed by this that he called to his passenger in the cabin, “Sir, I don’t mean to alarm you, but you’ve got to see this.” The passenger came up, looked at the phenomenon, and put his hand kindly on the pilot’s shoulder.

    “It’s the moon, idiot.”

  24. hale_bopp

    I tell people I have never seen a UFO, but I have been present at “UFO” sightings. The difference is that I knew what it was and they didn’t. A UFO is in the eye of the beholder sometimes.

  25. Kevin

    “Everything is unidentified until it is not.”

    Either I’ve heard that before, or I just made it up. And until I’m corrected, I’m going to say I just made it up (actually I’ve been saying this for years).

    I remember a while back we were having a public night at our observatory. There must have been five hundred people there. I was up in one of the domes, and suddenly heard a shout from below, and someone say “I dont’ know – it must be a UFO!” (which was pretty stupid for a supposedly professional astronomer to say).

    We turned dome around and saw this large glowing fuzzy object int he sky, traveling from south to north. We turned the telescope to it (this in the days before computer control; we were manual!) and saw a spinning object spewing something out of it, which made the “glowing cloud.” All it turned out to be was a booster rocket venting the rest of its fuel. But for a short time, it really was an “unidentified flying object.” Which soon became an “identified flying object.”

    In my years as an amateur astronomer, that – along with the first time I saw the NOSS triplet – was the only “weird” thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been doing this since I was a kid (too many decades ago to count). :)

  26. Leigh

    I would like to comment on John’s comment. In regards to the quality of observer having any weight as to evidence, many studies regarding our senses have illistrated that our brain contructs a model of the world internally that is then modified moment by moment by the data being inputted from our senses. There appears to be a threshold for how much data is required from each sense in order to impact the model. Also there is the impact of where our senses are concentrating at any given moment. It has finally been accepted by many police that eyewitnesses are the most unreliable of witness unless backed up by other data. It has nothing to do with belief other than the influence a belief might have on the model the mind constructs in the first place. Pilots have been known to ocmpletely disregard the planes instruments because the readings our counter to what their senses are telling them. Sometimes this has had tragic results. Most of the time it results in a chuckle over coffee.

  27. Leigh

    Whoops, “the readings our counter” is supposed to be “the readings are counter”
    stupid fingers!
    fingers reply: all the other errors are the result of following orders from brain.

  28. John

    To Leigh

    I would agree with you entirely if it wasn’t for the fact that many sightings by pilots have been spotted on radar. Here’s an example from 2007 over Guernsey reported by the BBC.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/guernsey/6591365.stm

    There is obviously a greater phenomenan involved than people’s brain’s malfunctioning. Often brain experts tend to think they have the answer, but they haven’t bothered to check the reported sightings in detail. It does also work the other way – Ufologists tend to ignore those possibilities and assume eyewitness testimony to be completely accurate where at times our senses do tell us the wrong information.

  29. Leigh

    Hi John,
    I read your link. Thank you for it. I agree with you that we have to keep an open mind about all reportings. However I find it interesting that the MOD was not investigating this report. Could it be that they already knew what their radar contact was? I also did not suggest that our brains were malfunctioning, only working the way evolution molded them to work in the world of our ancestors. Because something has not been explained does not mean it cannot be explained someday. I just think there are too many hours of Discovery channel waisted on the subject, but that is only my opinion.

  30. Thomas Siefert

    I quite often hear people expressing surprise when they see the Moon during the day, they think it’s only supposed to be “up” at night.

  31. Overstroming

    As a dweller of Cloudland, Northern Europe, and living in a city, many months can pass – even years for some – without seeing the moon. If it appears close to the horizon it can be quite startling.

    Having said all that, the guy is an idiot. It’s the freakin’ Moon!

  32. TheBlackCat

    John, you seem to mix up “unexplained” with “unexplainable”. The fact that some reports do not have explanations means exactly one thing and one thing only: we currently do not have enough information to explain the phenomena. It does not mean that no explanation based on modern science would be possible if we had more information available. It is possible that if we had more information it would turn out that this really was something unexplainable by modern science. But considering that as more information becomes available the only explanation that is ever found is something fairly normal, it seems to me that the more reasonable explanation to default to is that other phenomena would turn out the same if we had additional information.

    Your talk about speed, size, and other specifics is critical. It is physically impossible for a human to determine the speed and size of an object with some sort of point of reference when the distance between the person and the object is more than a relatively short distance (greater than 100 feet according to my neuroscience textbook). Therefore, any claims to know the size and/or speed of an object without such a reference is inherently unreliable. It is quite common for very small objects (paper bags with candles) to be perceived as very large (hundreds of feet across) or very large objects (Venus, the Moon) to be perceived as very small (hundreds of feet across). Similarly, it is very easy for a stationary object to be seen as moving because the eyes naturally move around randomly (it is called saccaed) and because your head and body are moving as well. Your brain normally filters these movements out, but not always and it can create the perception that the object is moving at great speed. You also cannot tell the speed without knowing the size and the distance, so relatively slow motion of small objects and be perceived as the extremely fast movement of large objects.

    So when I hear that an object was really large, or moving really fast, the first things I want to know is “how can you tell”? What did the person use to gage size and distance? Because unless there was something of known size and/or distance for them to compare it to then they could not possibly have done it.

    Radar is also far from perfect, it tends to have clutter and noise just like the night sky does. I can’t honestly be surprised that in some cases someone was able to find something on radar that was at a similar location to where someone thought they saw something they couldn’t explain. You would expect that just by chance.

  33. TheBlackCat

    Sorry, in my second paragraph that should be “an object without some sort of point of reference”

  34. xav0971

    Here’s a dumb question. If the moon is the second brightest object in the sky at night whats the brightest? I thought the moon was the brightest object in the sky at night.

  35. gopher65

    People not knowing what the moon is is crazy, but I can understand people getting fooled by flocks of geese. I’ve seen those glowy-stomached flying beasts often enough to know what they are, but if you’d never seen them before, and they weren’t honking, well… then you’ve just seen a V-shaped wing of UFOs. Those undersides are creepy when they’re lit with streetlights:).

  36. Dragonsbrethren

    xav0971: Where did you get “at night” from? The post only says “the second brightest object in the sky,” the first obviously being the sun.

  37. Leo

    @TheBlackCat
    ‘John, you seem to mix up “unexplained” with “unexplainable”.’

    That’s a distinction without much of a difference. If you don’t have sufficient information to explain something then it is unexplainable. Assuming that everything can be explained based on your existing understanding is a form of magical thinking. Sometimes the rational response is “I don’t know.”

    @xav0971
    “If the moon is the second brightest object in the sky at night whats the brightest?”

    He didn’t say “the sky at night”. He just said “the sky”.

  38. Regarding Chris’ story about the pilot from Space Camp, this reminds me of one time I was driving home at night and saw this dull orange ellipse on the horizon, peeking through trees. I figured out it was the moon pretty quickly, but the color was wrong, it looked huge, and it was flattened by the thicker atmosphere. Plus there were think layers of clouds near the horizon, creating a banding effect (and obscuring the maria).

    Over the next ~40 minutes as we drove, my wife and I watched it slowly rise through the bands o cloud, become more circular, and change from orange to yellow and finally to white. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted not having a camera that could take decent night sky images (or a place to stop and take them) as much as I did that night.

    I think I blogged it (hmm, going to look it up… ah, there it is, though there isn’t really all that much more than is in this comment.)

  39. Leo

    @gopher65
    “People not knowing what the moon is is crazy,”

    I guess I must be crazy then, because there’s been a couple of times when it took me a while to figure out that the strange light in the sky was the moon.

    Or maybe you’re just not as smart as you think you are. What’s crazy, or at least more than a little frightening, is all the people out there who don’t realize how easily ALL human minds can be tricked by their own senses.

  40. I believe Peter Jennings’ final news special was on UFOs, and one of the stories involved a very experienced pilot being startled by watching the Moon partially emerge from thick clouds. The combination of the brightness of the Moon and the absence of its usual shape kept his mind from making the connection.

    One night I was out skywatching when some thick clouds galloped across the Moon. As I watched only shall portions of the intense light squeeze through openings in the clouds, I completely understood how it was possible to be fooled, especially if you’re not expecting to see the Moon!

  41. John

    Some reports include sightings of many jets in pairs intercepting the same part of the sky as the UFOs were seen moments earlier. The UFOs moved much quicker than jets, changed direction many times. Other reports have described radar traces coinciding with sightings at exactly the same time and location travelling at least 2-3 times faster than our fastest jets at the time.

    Many people may have seen a light or an unspectacular UFO sighting and thought it was probably of terrestrial origin, but some reports describe people’s reactions as being awestruck and they were unable to sleep after what they saw due to the adrenalin rush caused by the sighting. Those are the rarer sightings which are truly unexplained, and leave people with the impression that what they saw could have been extraterrestrial. For most people it would be difficult to understand that without having experienced that themselves. It is good to be sceptical of what everyone says they saw, even if you’ve seen an unexplained UFO yourself it’s still sensible to be sceptical of everything you see, hear or read, and consider all possible explanations. Even so, rational people are still left thinking what they witnessed was most likely extraterrestrial even though they may have originally thought it impossible.

    It does seem rather funny that the MOD has the usual response for each sighting saying they investigate to check for air-space incursion and to determine any threat, but then just ignore the sighting or don’t share what they have found out. I don’t mean to try to promote a conspiracy theory but it’s like they know what it was, but don’t want to say. If it was top secret military craft why fly them over populated areas. Released Freedom of Information documents are completely blanked out too except for a few words in the US, so nobody can argue that the military are hiding something. Surely there’s no reason a whole page on an incident can be blanked out unless they’re hiding something big, especially now the cold war is over and documents from the 60s and 70s won’t be containing any top secret testing programs that still have to be kept secret. But there may be other reasons for this we just don’t know about.

  42. schenn

    During the lunar eclipse last year, a regular customer came into the gas station I work at. I asked him if he had been watching the lunar eclipse, he said no so I pointed out the giant red moon hanging high in the sky. He looked to me and asked “what planet is that?” I giggled a little and said “no, thats not a planet its our moon” He paused for a few moments, then asked “which moon?”

  43. TheBlackCat

    @Leo

    “That’s a distinction without much of a difference. If you don’t have sufficient information to explain something then it is unexplainable. Assuming that everything can be explained based on your existing understanding is a form of magical thinking. Sometimes the rational response is “I don’t know.””

    “I don’t” know is fine, that was the answer I was suggesting. But that is not what John was saying. He was saying, “but not all sightings that go reported can be explained by conventional science”. He then goes on to say that at least some of these must be something that is currently unknown to science. That conclusion does not follow. A lack of an explanation given existing information does not necessarily mean a lack of an explanation if we had additional information. When I said “unexplainable”, I meant “unexplainable by our existing scientific knowledge”, as John was proposing, and contrasting that with “unexplained”, that is “there is not sufficient information to draw a conclusion”. Those are completely different positions drawn from the same lack of information.

    @ John

    “Some reports include sightings of many jets in pairs intercepting the same part of the sky as the UFOs were seen moments earlier. The UFOs moved much quicker than jets, changed direction many times. Other reports have described radar traces coinciding with sightings at exactly the same time and location travelling at least 2-3 times faster than our fastest jets at the time.”

    Once again I ask, how do they know how fast they were going? Second, the fact that some UFO citings coincided with flights of military jets is no big surprise, coincedences like that happen. There is also no reason to think that the government wouldn’t respond to reports of unknown aircraft over U.S. airspace.

    Further, I guess you never heard of the Soviet military flyovers of the continental U.S. Our radar and defenses were focused to the north, east, and west because we expected soviet attacks from the Atlantic, the Pacific, or over the North Pole. However, we had weak radar to the south. To test our defenses high-speed soviet jets would penetrate deep into the U.S., often up the Mississipi, and would fly over populated areas before our defenses knew what was going on. They would then leave before we had a chance to respond. Obviously these events were classified because it would cause a panic if the people in this country knew our defenses were that easy to break through.

    “Many people may have seen a light or an unspectacular UFO sighting and thought it was probably of terrestrial origin, but some reports describe people’s reactions as being awestruck and they were unable to sleep after what they saw due to the adrenalin rush caused by the sighting. Those are the rarer sightings which are truly unexplained, and leave people with the impression that what they saw could have been extraterrestrial.”

    People have those exact same reactions to sightings that are later shown to be nothing at all out of the ordinary. People can and do routinely have very strong emotional reactions to perfectly ordinary things in unusual contexts, they even have strong reactions to ordinary things in normal contexts from time to time. That means people’s emotional reactions to such events cannot be used as evidence to support them being out of the ordinary. On the contrary, it is well-established that those sorts of strong emotions can and often do reduce a person’s ability to look at the event objectively and also have the strong tendency to alter the person’s memory to make the event larger, more amazing, and more detailed than it really was. If multiple people see such things there is a strong tendency for their memories to converge on a single story as they talk about it even if their initial experience was quite different. These are all phenomena that have been well-studied by memory researchers.

    A good summary of the issue was given by Richard Feynman:

    “Listen. I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the result of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence rather than the unknown rational efforts of extraterrestrial intelligence.”

  44. Phil B.

    I suppose this is a bad time to post the old joke about people here in Seattle panicking at the sight of a giant flaming ball that on rare ocassions appears in the daytime sky?

  45. Robert

    OK, I suppose some folks may be “skeptical” but this is a true story. I was in the park across from my house, with my telescope collection (you can’t have just one y’know) observing Saturn. A neighbor came over, and I let her take a look, very impressed, and she asked me what it was, so I told her it was the planet Saturn. So, she asks me, what’s the difference between a star and a planet, so, I tell her, pointing up at the sky, that stars “twinkle” and planets appear as discs and don’t twinkle.

    Good answer, eh? Well, um, no, she says: “No, I mean what’s the difference between a star and a planet?” I finally realized what she was asking…

    Robert

  46. Just Al

    John: Some reports include sightings of many jets in pairs intercepting the same part of the sky as the UFOs were seen moments earlier. The UFOs moved much quicker than jets, changed direction many times. Other reports have described radar traces coinciding with sightings at exactly the same time and location travelling at least 2-3 times faster than our fastest jets at the time.

    I think my favorite was the radar trace that chased a passenger jet on final approach, finally overtaking the jet as it was touching down. It turned out to be the radar signal that was reflected from the underside of the passenger jet and away from the dish, then bounced again off of the side of a container truck and back to the dish. There have been other reports of satellites being tracked, back before they encoded the signals. The radar was sending out periodic “pings” and timing the return. The echo from the satellite, hundreds of miles away, was coming after more pings had been issued from the unit, and was mistaken as being a reflection of the latest ping, not several earlier. Thus the object was “very close.”

    Then there’s also anomalous propagation, false signals from bats, birds, and insects (don’t forget your weather reports’ doppler radar spots both clouds and precipitation), confused signals, and so on. I’m sure you’ve seen the mirage reflections off of a heated highway – radar wavelengths are even easier to bounce, and it happens frequently in changing weather.

    The thing is, getting a radar “blip” isn’t exactly evidence that anything worthwhile is there, and this has been known a long, long time. This isn’t to say any reports should be taken with a grain of salt, but it does mean they need to be examined closely as to what, exactly, was returned.

    The unfortunate part about all this is, most sources of UFO reports you’re likely to see are more than happy to draw connections, combine two (or more) separate incidents, or blatantly misrepresent details. If you want a good example, check out the US Navy reports of the infamous Flight 19 and compare them against what you’ll find in the “mainstream” media. Reading the Navy’s reports, you’ll find just a compass failure and a dangerous assumption that carried the flight away from landfall.

    Many people may have seen a light or an unspectacular UFO sighting and thought it was probably of terrestrial origin, but some reports describe people’s reactions as being awestruck and they were unable to sleep after what they saw due to the adrenalin rush caused by the sighting. Those are the rarer sightings which are truly unexplained, and leave people with the impression that what they saw could have been extraterrestrial. For most people it would be difficult to understand that without having experienced that themselves. It is good to be sceptical of what everyone says they saw, even if you’ve seen an unexplained UFO yourself it’s still sensible to be sceptical of everything you see, hear or read, and consider all possible explanations. Even so, rational people are still left thinking what they witnessed was most likely extraterrestrial even though they may have originally thought it impossible.

    It’s really hard to tell what you’re trying to say here. Because someone was left with a strong impression, this makes the case more relevant?

    You bring up a common thread with this, though: the concept of rational, reputable, or trained witnesses. These terms are often tossed about freely as if they had some particular, defined meaning. Unfortunately, they do not. How, exactly, do you determine someone is “rational?” Should we use my own yardstick, where if you believe in any form of religion, you’re disqualified?

    I have heard the canard of pilots being trained observers so often I simply have to wait for it to appear the moment someone says, “UFO.” Yet no one has been able to point to the part of pilot training where they teach observation. And, as TheBlackCat points out above, when your senses are themselves limited is such serious ways, how much could observation training, should it even exist, really provide?

    The point here isn’t to dismiss all reports out of hand, but to keep them in proper perspective. If you can’t tell size or distance or velocity accurately, is it safe to say that a radar return even matched an eyewitness sighting? How much can you fudge it? Have you seen the number of radar returns that go unreported *because they happen all the time*? If you consider a pilot or a policeman just another average joe with no experience in evaluating a visual phenomenon, how much does the credibility of the report go down? We have, in this thread alone, multiple cases of people finding the moon odd in some way, and there’s only one thing more predictable in the sky. Does this say something?

    Surely there’s no reason a whole page on an incident can be blanked out unless they’re hiding something big, especially now the cold war is over and documents from the 60s and 70s won’t be containing any top secret testing programs that still have to be kept secret. But there may be other reasons for this we just don’t know about.

    Actually, think about this a second. A complete military report may contain details of the radar unit, staffing, shifts, radio frequencies, responding aircraft and its equipment, search areas and distances, chain of command, and on and on. None of which is intended for public release. The Cold War being over doesn’t mean we should disband our defenses, nor put it all out for everyone to see. Any small fragment can be something to work with, should you be so inclined. Would it be a good idea to reveal that Fogelburp Air Station uses a PC-2124 radar unit with an effective range of 30 nautical miles?

    This isn’t conspiracy material, it’s just good sense. Anytime anyone suggests to you otherwise, please feel inclined to smack them hard in the face and ask them why they think the military should be completely transparent.

    [From further above] It is already common knowledge 95% of UFO sightings are explainable. I would like anyone here to explain what the other 5% are.

    If you were to speak to anyone that works routinely with statistics, they’ll be happy to tell you 5% is “noise.” As in, an insignificant percentage to be concerned about, in most situations.

    It’s not particularly revealing that 5% is unexplained. Among all the different types of reports, and all the types of people reporting, and all the things you can do after the fact to examine a report (hint: not very much at all), it is significant in that ONLY 5% don’t have a plausible explanation, just not significant in the way you’re seeing it. I would expect it to be much higher, really. Consider the percentage or murders in the US that go unsolved (somewhere around 25%), and the number of people serving jail time that are likely innocent (estimated as high as 10%), and we have not only very good methods of investigating such, but also very high incentives to do so.

    One case I read the details of from the Condon Report related photographs of an object and their investigation. Their conclusion of “unexplained” included the idea that the photographer could have known just as much as their investigators about faking a photo. It’s bound to happen, and note that they didn’t use this to explain the incident.

    What a mere 5% unexplained tells me is that a really large percentage of reports are remarkably easy to explain. That would seem to imply that many people were easily fooled or mistaken. Given that, how many of those 5% unexplained should be considered indicative of something significant?

  47. MikeinJapan

    I believe this is called “taking the piss”.

  48. Robert

    Reminds me of a reporter “going after” black helicopters in Colorado, big interview on TV from it years ago:

    Reporter: “So, General, we have reports of mysterious black helicopters…”

    General: “No mystery at all, we have hundreds of them, wanna go look at them? Take a ride?”

    R: “But, why are they black?”

    G: “They’re not, they’re very dark green. That’s kind of an Army tradition, we paint everything green…”

    R: “With black lettering?”

    G: “Well, they are combat helicopters, white markings would stand out…”

    R: “But why are they flying around without lights?”

    G: “Because our pilots have to train to fly without lights, that whole, being shot at thing…”

    The guy just wouldn’t give up! The General even offered to let the guy go out on a training excercise in one of the helicopters, and film the whole thing!

    Robert

  49. SHORT&SWEET:
    Very bright diffused light below eastern horizon.
    Very bright diffused light seen western horizon.
    Thoughts: Hmmm…western light is definitely Sun having set, eastern light must be some kind of raging bush fire.
    Light in east gets stronger.
    Thoughts: Maann…that must be some fire.
    Time passes.
    Moon rises.
    Thoughts: Doh!

    John — http://www.moonposter.ie

  50. Christopher

    Great, this new location for your blog has a big banner ad at the top advertising an astrologer.
    “100% Accurate Horoscope from Professional Jenna”
    “Test Her Skills for Free”
    “Find out why she is different from other Astrologers”

  51. John

    To BlackCat & JustAl

    The figure of 5-10% unknown is from the UK MOD reports.
    The US Project Blue Book was around 22% unknown and 9% insufficient information.
    The chief of staff at the time blatently ignored the 22% unknown.

    The reasons you gave for the unknown’s are likely to have fallen into the known section of the reports after investigations, and whilst some of the unknown’s may end up being easily explained as false radar traces sometime later, you have a belief that they can all be explained quite easily. That’s no better than someone believing that they’re all alien ships. It’s much better just to say that we don’t know. Nevertheless your opinion could be right, but I won’t rule out some of them as unexplained phenomenon.

  52. John

    To debunkers

    Why don’t you explain all of the unexplained sightings in detail if you’re willing to say you know what they all are, rather than just giving a list of what they could be and saying that’s what they are, without referring to the witness report at all and assuming it is 100% inaccurate. You cannot write off every witness report like that, at least a small part of some reports will be accurate.

    Also commenting on a few explained events and somehow implying that this explains every event is wishful thinking.

  53. John

    Apollo 14 astronaut and US Navy Captain Edgar D. Mitchell stated “We all know that UFOs are real. All we need to ask is where do they come from”.

    Russian, American and Romanian astronauts are saying they have seen UFOs whilst in earth orbit. Here’s a quote from a Romanian astronaut.

    “A Russian colleague saw two UFOs flying parallel to the ship during an expedition, both of which disappeared after a while. He reported this encounter to his chiefs, got only a negative reaction from them and was reminded he had been sent into cosmos for scientific purposes. The man was talked into not sharing the incident with anybody else, being menaced with the interruption of his flight programs. Any time reporters ask him about the encounter, he denies it”, said Prunariu. He even signaled that some UFOs can be radar detected. ”

    Here’s a quote from an incident over Romania.

    “In a case occurred in Romania before ’89, the service officer at the military aviation base at Kogalniceanu (an American NATO unit is stationed currently there) reported seeing a formation of 9 flying objects moving at an extremely high speed on the sky. The radar calculations showed their speed was of about 6000 de km/h (3,750 mph). The bright objects disappeared somewhere over the Black Sea, towards Russia. Such a speed cannot be reached by a plane or rocket, which would have disintegrated, thus the speed would not have been constant all the time. The incident could not be explained. It could be that the Earth is constantly monitored from the outside by more intelligent civilizations, but at least they’re doing it discreetly, not wanting to interfere with terrestrial life.”

    More about this article here and the person who I have quoted :
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Astronaut-Confirms-it-Aliens-May-be-Monitoring-Us-84121.shtml

  54. TheBlackCat

    @ John:

    “you have a belief that they can all be explained quite easily. That’s no better than someone believing that they’re all alien ships. It’s much better just to say that we don’t know. Nevertheless your opinion could be right, but I won’t rule out some of them as unexplained phenomenon.”

    You are completely misrepresenting our position. It all comes down to Occam’s razor: given two explanations that fit the facts equally well, the better explanation to use is the one that requires the fewest unfounded assumptions. Our explanation requires no assumptions, only that well-known physical, physiological, and psychological principles are at play. Your conclusion requires assuming something completely unknown to science exists but somehow manages to leave no physical evidence. As long as there are normal explanations that fit the facts, explanations that require no unfounded assumptions, basic logic dictates that you must default to those conclusions. Now if additional information becomes available that renders those conclusions invalid then you can change them. Conclusions are always tentative. But as long as the evidence can go either way then you minimize the assumptions. That is what it means to be a skeptic. So far you have not shown us anything that cannot be explained through ordinary principles, so until you or someone else does then we have no choice then to draw the conclusion that ordinary principles are all that is at play.

    “Why don’t you explain all of the unexplained sightings in detail if you’re willing to say you know what they all are, rather than just giving a list of what they could be and saying that’s what they are, without referring to the witness report at all and assuming it is 100% inaccurate.”

    NO! You are the one saying there is something completely unknown to science at work here. The burden of proof is on you. You have to show that this is the case. It is not our job to disprove every single incident, it is your job to show that there is actually something to these incidents. You have not provided anything that cannot be explained based on well-known principles. The default conclusion, with no evidence either way, is that it is something normal going on. If someone wants to say it is something abnormal, then it is their job to demonstrate that.

    “at least a small part of some reports will be accurate.”

    I see no basis for drawing this conclusion. Have you ever considered that maybe it was the 95% that were reasonably accurate, and that was why a conclusion could be drawn on them, while the remaining 5% were so inaccurate that no one could figure out what was really going on? I would expect the proportion of grossly inaccurate reports to be higher than 5%, honestly.

  55. Kevin

    @schenn

    I had something like that happen after the last lunar eclipse as well. I had shown some images of the fully eclipsed moon to a few people, and the remarked on “how great my camera must have been to get photos of Mars that clear.” I just said I had a long lens. :)

  56. Just Al

    And now, faced with explanations, the belligerence starts. This is largely the reason I stopped bothering with UFOs. It’s like religion to some people.

    The US Project Blue Book was around 22% unknown and 9% insufficient information.

    Actually, it was just over 6% “unexplained.”

    The chief of staff at the time blatently ignored the 22% unknown.

    What is the difference between “blatantly ignore” and “not possible to determine given the evidence, so not worth any further effort” and, mind you, “not indicative of anything related to the purpose of the investigation?”

    Projects Blue Book and Grudge both had outwardly stated purposes, and most people tend to misinterpret them. They were military projects, in the height of the cold war. Think they were looking for aliens? Seriously? Radar was relatively new, and subject to numerous flaws. People were imminently aware of the threat of nuclear annihilation (and the military very kindly promoted this). The military was also aware of crowd reactions fostered by, among other things, the War of the Worlds radio broadcast (overhyped by the media, naturally) and the blitzkrieg tactics of Nazi Germany. They were looking not only at the possibility of hostile incursions into airspace, but the potential for intentionally induced panic among a populace, and quite prosaically, flaws in observation systems (yes, like radar).

    The Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects performed by the University of Colorado, usually referred to as the Condon Report, was the only serious civilian study done into UFOs, and the only one with full disclosure. It’s readily available online, and it’s easy to see what, exactly, was done with the evidence they had at hand. If you can understand most of it, you’re doing pretty well, but it’s very clear they weren’t treating anything offhandedly at all. And yet, they found nothing more than Blue Book did.

    The reasons you gave for the unknown’s are likely to have fallen into the known section of the reports after investigations, and whilst some of the unknown’s may end up being easily explained as false radar traces sometime later, you have a belief that they can all be explained quite easily.

    You are now going to presume to tell me what I believe? Be careful about jumping to conclusions there, old chap, you’re on the fine edge of making a fool of yourself, and I’ve had plenty of practice helping people along that path.

    I meant exactly what I typed – go back and read it, and this time make the attempt to comprehend it rather than trying to further your own pet agenda. 5% is not significant, unless you’re fatuous. And given all of the factors that would have to be in effect to support those reports being indicative of government conspiracies, alien visitation, unknown foreign technology, or whatever you like, the safe money is on them being simple mistakes (if not outright hoaxes).

    You mentioned radar tracks of objects 2-3 times faster than our fastest jet at the time. Did you research this? What was our fastest jet (for any definition of “our”)? How’s your physics? You know that anything moving that fast in the atmosphere is going to generate friction with the air, resulting in heated air masses and condensation effects (vapor trails), right? And of course, compression and release effects that would produce a roar? [And, further, would require metals that could withstand extremely high temperatures without detrimental distortion, and control surfaces that could operate under intense pressures]. Everyone in a 20 kilometer radius is going to know about the damn thing. So, were there countless corroborating reports, or just the radar track? And if it’s just the track, from a device known for squirrely results, does it make sense to you to consider it valid? Are you going to invent, out of whole cloth, alien technology that can form a vacuum in mid air and close it up again without any noticeable affect when you can easily determine that radar is prone to problems?

    I, quite frankly, feel comfortable with considering it worth no further attention. Not once, not ever, in five decades of “evidence,” has anything been produced that indicates, even weakly, something really, really curious. Latching onto something as vacuous as “unexplained” and trying to make something out of it is what is commonly called, “confirmation bias.” Unexplained, dude, is unexplained. That means neutral. If your best argument is neutral, you aren’t really making any point, no matter how you attempt to rephrase it or shift blame.

    To debunkers…

    You do realize that, in order to debunk, there must be bunk in the first place, right?

    Why don’t you explain all of the unexplained sightings in detail if you’re willing to say you know what they all are,…

    I don’t recall seeing anyone make such a statement. Could you point it out to me? Or are you just trying to skew our arguments around? I only ask because that seems to be a chief tactic of UFO chasers.

    … rather than just giving a list of what they could be and saying that’s what they are, without referring to the witness report at all and assuming it is 100% inaccurate. You cannot write off every witness report like that, at least a small part of some reports will be accurate.

    As for saying that I could explain them all? It never happened, and for the record, I’ll be glad to tell you that I most likely cannot. Happy now?

    Don’t be, because my next point is that, neither can you. And arguing that they MIGHT be so-and-so is ignorant. They MIGHT be flying purple wombats, too. Who cares? What have you got to back up your conclusions?

    However, I’m not sure what you’re asking here. You make extremely vague referrals to reported sightings and then challenge us to explain them to you? Explain what? You haven’t even said what it is you’re talking about. Is this making sense to you? Because if it is, we can end the debate here (it sure isn’t going to go anyplace useful) and I can suggest you make a psychiatric appointment.

    Or, you can note that you’ve been given several useful tools (i.e., look at the original reports, not the media hype; learn about the fallibility of human observation; learn about the quirks of the “evidence” systems, like radar; learn about atmospheric effects; know more than a passing amount of physics) and try applying them. Or even just looking into them to see if they ARE useful tools, instead of dismissing them out of hand and saying, “Well, at least SOME of the reports are accurate!”

    No, that does not actually follow. But when you have a report of a shape in the sky, well, you got a shape in the sky. There’s lots of things in the sky. In what way can you determine it isn’t any of the thousands of known, common, or even uncommon, perfectly ordinary things?

    And before you intentionally try to miss the point again, pay very close attention to this one: It is not up to me (or anyone else) to prove you do not have evidence. It is up to YOU to prove that you DO.

    Read it again. Because I’m tired of repeating it. Now quit demonstrating what you know about poor debating tactics and go find your real evidence.

  57. John

    @ TheBlackCat

    “As long as there are normal explanations that fit the facts, explanations that require no unfounded assumptions, basic logic dictates that you must default to those conclusions.”

    When you say an incident has a normal explanation it is up to you to prove it. You are the one making assumptions. For some sightings your normal explanations does not fit all the known facts, therefore leaving an inconclusion. Your attitude is that you either ignore all those which don’t fits your facts completely, or haven’t bothered to check the facts in the first place. That kind of arrogance is not a scientific approach. You seem to forget that it is you claiming what all these sightings are, not me!

    My stance is that we just don’t know for some of them where your explanations don’t fit the facts. That’s no assumptions and no attempts at trying to prove anything unknown to science.

    If you’re assuming some reports to be inaccurate, then you have no facts on which to make a conclusion. So making a conclusion like you said earlier is just wild speculation.

    “Have you ever considered that maybe it was the 95% that were reasonably accurate, and that was why a conclusion could be drawn on them, while the remaining 5% were so inaccurate that no one could figure out what was really going on?”

    Does that not make the sighting unknown then?!

    You are someone who has made up their mind without checking what few facts some sightings have. In some cases the facts don’t match the simplest explanations you’ve provided, so you have applied Occam’s Razor incorrectly.

    “given two explanations that fit the facts equally well, the better explanation to use is the one that requires the fewest unfounded assumptions.”

    I assume you are implying one explanation to be terrestrial, the other extraterrestrial. In the rare cases there too many assumptions for either explanation. This only concludes which is more likely, and not any factual information. The same for any other given explanation.

    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
    Just some speculation now – whether or not extraterrestrials decided to start visiting, our prior knowledge of any race would be non-existant, therefore humanity would have no facts on which to base any assumptions on. So for either possiblity that theory would be full of assumptions. This last few lines are only conjecture though.

  58. Vasha

    OT: I vaguely recall reading that some indigenous people in South America recognized Uranus as a planet before it was discovered by astronomy in 1781. Can anyone corroborate my memory? If true, this would be an astonishing feat: Uranus is barely visible to the naked eye at approximately magnitude 5.7; who would be observing thousands of faint stars carefully enough to notice that one of them moves slowly along the ecliptic? Especially without writing to help record observations?

  59. John

    @ JustAl

    It is not like a religion, in fact my view involves no belief whatsoever. What I can’t prove I say is only speculation.

    “I meant exactly what I typed – go back and read it, and this time make the attempt to comprehend it rather than trying to further your own pet agenda. 5% is not significant, unless you’re fatuous.”

    Some reports are higher than 5%.
    What agenda? My stance is that some can’t be explained, that’s it. Yours seems to be an angry agenda against anyone making any speculation. Maybe you should make a psychiatric appointment, it seems you need it.

    “Not once, not ever, in five decades of “evidence,” has anything been produced that indicates, even weakly, something really, really curious.”

    That’s not true, it’s just you haven’t bothered to check. That makes you look really foolish.

    Apart from explanations for some sightings which I’ve already earlier agreed that most sightings will be, the rest of your comment is opinionated garbage. Many people of higher intelligence than you including University Professors worldwide have said it is a phenomenon of worthwhile study, but I suppose you didn’t know that since your arrogance clouds any judgement.

    “You know that anything moving that fast in the atmosphere is going to generate friction with the air, resulting in heated air masses and condensation effects (vapor trails), right? And of course, compression and release effects that would produce a roar?”

    Yes I know that happens. Here’s a Science website about preventing a super-sonic boom. (if it doesn’t work try the google cache).
    http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200704/000020070406A0929455.php
    Don’t assume something is impossible without checking, even if only a theory exists that surely makes it possible within science.

    All sightings I have mentioned vaguely or otherwise have been just what the report stated, not my personal opinion.

    Anyway just read my previous reply just before this one for what else I have to say. I haven’t got time to counter your childish insults.

  60. Just Al

    And on it goes. So, let’s see, we have a quote from an astronaut that says (allow me to paraphrase) “We know things are unidentified. We should try to identify them.”

    Did I miss something? Or do you define UFO differently, and are willing to demonstrate that Mitchell does as well?

    Then, we have two linked articles, one of which was quoted. So, an exercise for you: what’s missing?

    Let’s start with Dumitru Prunariu’s article. Did you notice that the headline in no way matched the content? How about that he gave very little in the way of specifics? A “Russian colleague” saw two UFOs and was told to keep his mind on his work. Ah, yes, that’s certainly evidence of alien intelligence and a government conspiracy to hush it up! Why, it only costs a few million dollars an hour to have them up there, no reason to keep them focused or productive or anything.

    Did it occur to you that, should anyone be convinced of aliens or something super-secret in space, the people IN space are going to be the PRIME WITNESSES? And thus, highly unlikely to be told to ignore it? Whatever “it” is, because, surprise surprise, while coming out in public with this amazing evidence, Prunariu somehow manages not to ever say what it is.

    Did you ever notice exactly how many people who have been threatened by the military or governments to keep their mouths shut never actually do so? This strikes me as odd, but then again, I guess I’m not as experienced an investigator as you are.

    And then, we have his description of electromagnetic/gravitational drive, which he confesses is inertia-free too! Theoretically possible! I bet there’s a s**tload of physicists who would like to hear about this theory.

    The only place where he provides some small degree of detail is the formation “sighting.” Only it took place in a now-defunct airbase, in an unspecified year, and isn’t even clear if it was a visual sighting or a radar track (it only mentions radar calculations). Well, good. As long as he’s rational, I guess that’s all we’d need, right?

    So, is he religious? (Ba dum bum!)

    On to the second article! Now that we’ve used the first as an exercise, you’re ready to tackle the second, right? Pause here if you need more time.

    So, did you get it? That’s right! There’s absolutely nothing specific in the second article either! Tons of quotes, even from a colleague (who admits he’s “mostly scientific”), a history of growing up on science fiction and UFO reports (is this a good thing? I only ask because so did everyone else in that era, me included), and that his training as a meteorologist makes him scientific (um, yeah?).

    He says he’s closer to proving extra-terrestrials, but we never once get an inkling of what this is supposed to mean. How can you be close to proving such a thing? The aliens haven’t returned their affidavits with original signatures, or they simply haven’t been notarized? He’s got the spaceship, but it’s at his winter home right now? I suppose it’s up to our imagination, because it never occurred to the reporter to bother with this extraneous detail.

    Some parts of the article sound good – he’s at least distancing himself from jumping to conclusions and trying to investigate the cases fairly. But then he says he “believes” even though he can’t explain 70% of his cases.

    Huh?

    Even better, he says most hoaxers are pretty stupid. When you can’t even categorize most of your own records, it seems a bit disingenuous to claim you know about most hoaxers.

    But in the end, we’re back to religion, aren’t we? Two high priests have spoken about their faith, providing nothing to back it up, and the devout believe them. Sigh.

  61. John

    @ Just Al

    One last point.

    “However, I’m not sure what you’re asking here. You make extremely vague referrals to reported sightings and then challenge us to explain them to you? Explain what? You haven’t even said what it is you’re talking about.”

    I was referring to the sightings the more respected UFOlogists refer to as the unexplained sightings, not just the one or two I vaguely mentioned. You agree with me that some of them could be anything and so they are UAP.

  62. BlondeReb3

    Oh gosh, after reading that I nearly want to cry…

  63. John says: When you say an incident has a normal explanation it is up to you to prove it. You are the one making assumptions.
    No it isn’t. We can speculate till the cows come home about what it could probably be but you are the one making the claim. It is up to you to prove it.

  64. Geophysicist

    Actually, this is really sad. It’s not funny at all. People have got to the stage where they don’t look up anymore. Looking up is the most wonderful, humbling thing that you can do, and yet most people aren’t even aware of it. Light pollution is such that you can no longer see the milky way, often just a handful of bright planets. I know very few people who know where the planets are in the sky. For someone to not even know the moon just depresses me.

  65. John

    To Shane

    There is proof that some events cannot be explained by conventional means, so remain unsolved or unknown. I will never claim to say what exactly happened, only speculate. It’s just some people seem to think it’s fine to make assumptions even when the facts don’t fit the event and say that it definitely just something ordinary. I agree for every event you should try and explain it with the simplest possible explanations, but only if it fits in with the facts of that explanation, otherwise we don’t know whether that explanation is correct or not. So say for example if someone was to call an event chinese lanterns, and the facts of the case didn’t match up to how chinese lanterns would appear in the sky, or were at a different location to any confirmed lanterns release. We could then only speculate that they were chinese lanterns, to assume we know 100% would be making at least a few assumptions, therefore the event was not explained completely and remains an unknown sighting. All other speculation such as alien craft or whatever else you can think of is also just ‘speculation’ since it would require too many assumptions. And you can’t explain an event using Occam’s Razor principles as all possible considered explanations require too many assumptions. That at best could say what was most likely, but with insufficient information to prove what the event was, we don’t know how accurate that will be.

    When someone says something is speculation, you sound silly saying someone has to prove it. The whole concept of speculation is not trying to prove anything. If you actually knew what the definition of speculation was you would wonder why on earth that you were asking for proof.
    Definition of speculation : “a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence”

  66. John

    @ Just Al (for your last reply)

    I only said “Russian, American and Romanian astronauts are saying they have seen UFOs whilst in earth orbit. And that those articles were interesting.”

    Your opinion is very interesting, but it’s a great misinterpretation on your part to assume that those articles represent my view.

    This is just a blog after all, not a final year Thesis.

  67. TheBlackCat

    “There is proof that some events cannot be explained by conventional means, so remain unsolved or unknown. ”

    No, there is proof that some events cannot be explained with the information available. That is a big difference that you seem intent on ignoring. You have not provided anything where there is any reason to think that they could not be explained with additional information. As I said in my first post, there is a big difference between “unexplained” and “unexplainable”.

  68. John

    To Blackcat

    Our conventional means is based on our information available. It is possible the event could be explained with additional information, but since we aren’t certain what took place we cannot say whether it is “unexplained” or “unexplainable”. With insufficient information there is no way to distinguish between the two.

  69. John

    After further thought your point is pretty pointless, as everything will be explained by science eventually so is unexplained until it has been explained. Nothing is ever unexplainable as a scientific approach. So yes you’re partially correct saying that the events are unexplained, but they still could be anything – even spaceships or purple wombats as someone said earlier.

  70. …noctilucent clouds, halos, glories, parhelic arcs, crepuscular rays…

    And for those here who aren’t familiar with those terms, you need to visit the Atmospheric Optics page:

    http://www.atoptics.co.uk

  71. Simon Richard Clarkstone

    I encountered an inversion of this phenomenon once when in a passenger plane going over some jungle at night. Looking out of the window at the ground, I saw an “unidentified non-flying object”: a light-source going along the ground (I could tell it was below tree-level from the way it was obscured and unobscured) at several hundred miles per hour (keeping up with the plane) despite the terrain being solid jungle.

    After watching it for a few moments more, the perspective clicked and I realised it was the reflection of the Moon in a set of rivers. (In my defence I was not terribly bright at the time since I had not slept since leaving the house some 20-odd hours previously.)

  72. Richard Smith

    Just an attempt to possibly add a bit of clarity. The 5% (give or take) of sightings declared “unexplained” isn’t an admission that nobody knows what could possibly explain a particular sighting, but rather that there are usually several possible known (albeit not necessarily common) phenomena that could explain the event, but singling out the likeliest explanation is impossible without some additional details that happened to be left out of the reports (ie, exact time of sighting, direction of sighting). I’m sure a lot of the “unexplained” sightings could be planets or satellites or uncommon weather phenomena, but they remain “unexplained” due to the lack of certainty that such were visible at the time of the event.

    Not having been much into the UFO scene for many years, maybe such a task has been undertaken, but perhaps the unexplained cases could be sub-categorized by the possible explanations and what data is missing that would eliminate or confirm the explanation, with a method of ranking the results, to present a clearer idea of what is just uncertain, and what is clearly inexplicable. Somewhow, I get the feeling that the latter category would have a single zero to the left of the decimal, and many leading zeros on the right.

    I don’t have any actual numbers, but considering how much graffiti there is in most cities, I figure a pretty high percentage of the offenders are still at large. Let’s give Metropolis’s police the benefit of the doubt and say that they’ve caught those responsible for 75% of the offences, meaning that they can’t say with absolute certainty who’s responsible for the remaining 25%. Well, with such a large number remaining unexplained, surely aliens should be considered as likely as anyone else for at least a few of those? I mean, the uncertainty is a whole 200% greater than that of UFO sightings, and graffiti is like crop circles in many ways…

    Yeah, I know it kinda falls apart if there’ve been a whopping four instances of graffiti, and they caught the guy responsible for three of them, but maybe the one still at large is a human-alien hybrid, so part of the unexplained 25% could still be aliens…

  73. TheBlackCat

    “Our conventional means is based on our information available. It is possible the event could be explained with additional information, but since we aren’t certain what took place we cannot say whether it is “unexplained” or “unexplainable”. With insufficient information there is no way to distinguish between the two.”

    Right, and given that there is no way to distinguish the two then the logical conclusion, until further information is available, is that it is merely “unexplained”. You are concluding that it is “unexplainable”, which is the illogical conclusion, and then demand that we demonstrate that it is merely “unexplained”. That it is unexplained is the default conclusion, since it does not require that we assume that anything exists outside of our current knowledge about the universe. Your conclusion requires that we assume something exists for which there is no outside evidence for. This is what I keep saying.

    It is circular reasoning. You are asserting that there is something missing from our fundamental scientific knowledge that is needed to explain at least some of these events. However, the only evidence you can provide that this thing really is missing is the events themselves. You are using the events as evidence that we are missing something, then you invoke the missing thing to explain the events. I hope you can see why this argument is circular. You need something else to corroborate the conclusion that we are missing something that is able to explain these events. Until you can do that we must logically default to the null hypothesis, that is that nothing out of the ordinary is going on. That conclusion does not need corroborating evidence because it not stating anything new, all it proposes is things we already know to be true.

    “After further thought your point is pretty pointless, as everything will be explained by science eventually so is unexplained until it has been explained. Nothing is ever unexplainable as a scientific approach. So yes you’re partially correct saying that the events are unexplained, but they still could be anything – even spaceships or purple wombats as someone said earlier.”

    I already said that when I used the terms “unexplained” and “unexplainable” I meant it in reference to existing scientific knowledge.

  74. John

    @ Blackcat

    We just don’t know, and that is enough for me. It’s not very likely we know everything about the universe, there’s too many unanswered questions for now. At the end of the day your point is just trivial. Our knowledge of the universe is always expanding, the boundaries between unexplained and unexplainable are not as simple as you may think.

    “You need something else to corroborate the conclusion that we are missing something that is able to explain these events”

    There are many cases of corroborating facts for sightings, you are just too ignorant to find out.

    “We must logically default to the null hypothesis, that is that nothing out of the ordinary is going on”

    That would make you a poor scientist.

  75. TheBlackCat

    “We just don’t know, and that is enough for me. It’s not very likely we know everything about the universe, there’s too many unanswered questions for now. At the end of the day your point is just trivial. Our knowledge of the universe is always expanding, the boundaries between unexplained and unexplainable are not as simple as you may think.”

    Whether there are unanswered questions is irrelevant. The fact that we have unanswered questions does not mean the phenomena responsible for any specific event is unexplained, and it does not mean any future answer will provide any further insights into any specific event.

    Given that we had a complete and reliable report of the events that transpired, either we currently have the scientific knowledge to explain how and why those events occurred or we don’t. You are asserting that we do not. I am saying that I don’t see enough evidence to support that conclusion. You are making a positive claim, I am saying that the evidence does not support that claim. It is up to you to prove your case.

    “There are many cases of corroborating facts for sightings, you are just too ignorant to find out.”

    Nothing substantial. I was a huge fan of the paranormal for the first 19 years of my life, UFO’s in particular. I read every book I could find on the subject. Then I learned basic critical thinking skills and realized there was nothing there that was at all convincing. You are just assuming that I haven’t looked at the evidence. I have, at length. If you have something that is that great you should just post it here. But I have not seen it. It doesn’t mean it is not there. But if you want to prove to me you are right just insisting the evidence is there isn’t going to help. You have to show me the evidence. I wasn’t able to find it. And I’m not just going to take your word for it, because the evidence that UFO proponents have insisted was so great that I have seen so far was anything but. “The evidence is out there, you just haven’t seen it” is not an argument. You have to actually show the evidence.

    “That would make you a poor scientist.”

    No, that is how science works. In fact it is one of the most basic rules of science. If someone asserts that gravity doesn’t exist and we are really held down by invisible pink elephants, but cannot provide evidence to back up that claim, then any half-competent scientists has no choice but to continue to accept the null hypothesis of special relativity until evidence supporting the pink elephant hypothesis is presented. It is no different with UFO’s. Someone claims that something out of the ordinary is going on, but cannot provide evidence that is both reliable and not just as compatible with existing phenomena. Any half-decent scientist would have to accept the null hypothesis that nothing out of the ordinary is going on until reliable evidence supporting another conclusion is presented.

  76. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    If it wasn’t a prank, I think the weather conditions in UK may be a likely explanation. Sometimes it can be really hard to see if it is a lighted window, new spot light, or the moon here too…

  77. Just Al

    John said:

    It is not like a religion, in fact my view involves no belief whatsoever. What I can’t prove I say is only speculation.

    That’s not what I meant by religion. I was pointing out how defensive you got when your assumptions were questioned.

    Some reports are higher than 5%.

    Reported numbers are all over the place. I only used your own, which you repeated, and now you have a problem with it?

    What agenda? My stance is that some can’t be explained, that’s it. Yours seems to be an angry agenda against anyone making any speculation. Maybe you should make a psychiatric appointment, it seems you need it.

    Actually, I’m having a blast, and always do with these kind of discussions. I shouldn’t need to point out that you brought the subject up, and got defensive when your astounding evidence of “5% unexplained” was shown to be navel lint. Speculation, philosophy, fantasy… what’s the difference? Believe whatever you want. Those of us who choose to live in reality, however, want to see something more than speculation, and especially from someone who has taken the time to examine it from all angles.

    That’s not true, it’s just you haven’t bothered to check. That makes you look really foolish.

    What’s not true? That I find the reports to be crapola? Are you telling me what my opinion is, or simply asserting yours is more valuable?

    I suppose you’re capable of telling me just what, exactly, I HAVE researched, then? After all, you made the statement – don’t try to back out now. And it appears even the most unsubtle of hints has been lost on you. As has reading comprehension.

    Apart from explanations for some sightings which I’ve already earlier agreed that most sightings will be, the rest of your comment is opinionated garbage. Many people of higher intelligence than you including University Professors worldwide have said it is a phenomenon of worthwhile study, but I suppose you didn’t know that since your arrogance clouds any judgement.

    Well, let me put it this way: I’m not really concerned with other people’s opinions. Never have been, which is why you don’t find me quoting anyone or referring to their research. I prefer to see if the evidence is convincing to *me.* Yes, exactly, that’s an opinion – never claimed otherwise. Nor have I chosen to denigrate your stance, at least until you started getting snarky. My first response was patient, clear, and non-judgmental, and dealt only with the statements you were making (and not, you should note, with you as a person). Even my second response showed a great deal of restraint. And for this, I’m considered “arrogant.”

    Well, name calling is very nice I suppose, but what it shows, very clearly, is that anyone who disagrees with you is worthy of your contempt. Why does the word “projection” spring to mind, I wonder? Now, would you like to continue this as an adult, or should I decide to switch to your own tactics?

    And by the way, my own definition of “many,” as in, “many university professors,” would certainly hit higher than about one-tenth of one percent. Most especially if you’re thinking of including Hynek and Vallee.

    Yes I know that happens. Here’s a Science website about preventing a super-sonic boom. (if it doesn’t work try the google cache).
    http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200704/000020070406A0929455.php
    Don’t assume something is impossible without checking, even if only a theory exists that surely makes it possible within science.

    Your link only addresses one of the several factors I asked you about, and it should be noted that it is intended to redirect the main impact of the sound away from the ground. It does not “prevent” anything.

    I make no assumptions about anything being impossible, and this is what you continually fail to grasp. I honestly don’t care about possibility. I’m concerned with whether anyone has a good reason to believe it has been demonstrated. And this applies to far more than just a sonic signature.

    And by the way, cold fusion was a scientific theory, but that doesn’t make it possible.

    Since my points have a tendency to get lost while you’re formulating your next rebuttals, let me be clear: I do not concern myself with speculation or wishful thinking. I am concerned only with good science, and that means dealing with facts as the starting point. It also means knowing what your facts actually are.

    TheBlackCat mentioned Occam’s Razor. You seemed to understand it, but haven’t bothered applying it evenly. You are, just now, arguing that the radar track COULD have been a real craft that then COULD have flown with technology that has never been seen anywhere else on this planet and COULD have remained otherwise unknown and undetected.

    But each bit has to rely on something else, more and more technology to support the idea that the radar track was accurate. But have you even determined that the radar track was accurate?

    That’s the flaw in the premise. If you do not have good information to start with, you cannot expect a reasonable outcome. Often called, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” You’re spending time trying to find support for your premise, instead of determining if your premise is sound first. That’s bad science. And that’s what we’ve been addressing.

    You COULD be right – I won’t deny it. And I COULD say the moon is made of green cheese (and only covered with a rocky crust, and with a device inside to convert the seismic vibrations of the US & Soviet tests into what we would expect from a metallic core). Does this mean anyone should invest in my idea to mine the moon for cheese? Or do you think they should expect something, I dunno, like real evidence first?

    I don’t share your fantasy, and it doesn’t really bother me that you think I’m stupid for it. Hopefully, SOMEbody’s getting something out of this discussion.

    I was referring to the sightings the more respected UFOlogists refer to as the unexplained sightings, not just the one or two I vaguely mentioned. You agree with me that some of them could be anything and so they are UAP.

    Okay, let me see if I can get this straight. You mentioned 5% unexplained sightings, and I said, basically, so what? Then you challenged me to put my money where my mouth was and explain them like I said I could (which I didn’t). I said, what sightings? As in, be specific about the reports that you seem to put a lot of stock in. And now we’re at this point where you refer to vague “more respected UFOlogists” and yet nothing specific.

    There’s this bad debating tactic called, “Appeal From Authority,” which basically means that you think any one person would have the last word on a subject and be absolutely, irrevocably correct. And I think that’s where we’re at right now. Either that, or you’re too scared to link to any actual unexplained reports.

    But I’m guessing that isn’t the case. I much more suspect you really haven’t even looked at them at all.

    Either way, let me be clear: I don’t care what “respected UFOlogists” say. I’m more concerned with whether or not they did the research. The SCIENCE, John, not the rhetoric. The SCIENCE. I’m more than happy to tell even the most respected professor he’s got the math wrong, if I’m confident he has. I do not idolize anyone, regardless of their credentials. And some of that is because I’ve seen some very well-educated people totally screw the pooch.

    So when I say, “What reports?,” I’m not challenging you to a “my daddy can beat up your daddy,” exchange – I actually want to see the reports. From everything I can gather, you weren’t actually challenging us to explain anything, you just wanted to try and say we were stupider than your “respected UFOlogists.”

    Your opinion is very interesting, but it’s a great misinterpretation on your part to assume that those articles represent my view.

    Dude, give it a rest. You not only linked to them, you not only called them interesting, you quoted them. You really should stop doing things in print that you’ll regret.

    And I trashed them. They’re the exact kind of pablum that newspaper reporting has become (perhaps, all it ever was). It doesn’t matter one whit to me whether you stand firmly behind them or not.

    But… would the story had been different if I’d gone, “Oh, well, an astronaut! That changes things!”?

  78. tom

    I saw a video online a couple of years ago, which was of a strange red rectangle hovering over a city. It looked VERY odd, until the clouds moved a bit.

    It was the moon, between two layers of cloud, and discoloured by the atmosphere. The guy filming it had wondered what I could be until the clouds moved, and he had the video online to show how a familiar thing can look decidedly unfamiliar.

    Love the blog, Phil, and it was a pleasure to meet you at TAM6, at the James Randi dinner.

  79. John

    @ JustAl and TheBlackCat

    I would be interested to hear what you think of these…

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfufovsseti.html

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfnyt.html

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfchlgaf.html

    and what else you might like to read from his main site

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfhome.html

  80. Two Moons

    Way back in the day (1960’s) a neighbour came home one winters night and mentioned to his wife that there was a beautiful full moon out tonight. His son who was probably less than 10 years old at the time announced that there was another full moon ‘out the back’. The guy is known to this day as ‘Two Moons’

  81. John

    @ JustAl and TheBlackCat

    I would be interested to hear what you think of these…

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfufovsseti.html

  82. John

    and what else you might like to read from his main site

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfhome.html

  83. John

    Apologies for posting links twice if they appear, as original message with all links in one comment is labelled “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. I was unsure if anyone else was able to view this correctly.

  84. John

    The Rendelsham Forest incident has never been fully explained.

    You wanted some evidence shown to you, I have given you plenty.

    TheBlackCat & JustAl are too cowardly to reply

  85. Just Al

    TheBlackCat & JustAl are too cowardly to reply

    Nope, just happen to have a life. If it comes down to shooting detail shots of lizard eggs hatching, or bothering with you and your refusal to use your head, well, the lizards won. Just how it goes.

    The Rendelsham Forest incident has never been fully explained.

    It’s Rendlesham. The problem with the various accounts of the Rendlesham Forest Incident is that they are wildly inconsistent, so feel free to pick whatever account you think represents the best view, and point it out. I’ll be happy to go over it in great detail with you. It won’t accomplish a damn thing, of course, because you’ve already established that you’re not going to use your head or listen to simple logic, but never let it be said that I won’t publicly humiliate someone.

    But you get just one for free. You want me to keep doing legwork that’s been done thousands of times before, you can start paying me for my time. Which is one of the reasons nobody serious bothers with investigating things like this anymore – the UFO schmucks will pay for ridiculous “evidence” books and videos, but not serious science that proves their fantasies are all wet. And nobody else cares.

    Some years ago on the UFO newsgroups, I treated this very incident in some pretty serious detail, and showed what was wrong with many of the accounts. I don’t have that handy and don’t really feel the need to look it all up again, so what you get comes from memory. Suffice to say that none of the eyewitness accounts identified the highly visible lighthouse, which would have been seen at the same time as the “object.” The description of the object was contradictory, being both grounded and hovering (there were only two MPs looking at the damn thing), and both glowing and metallic. Now, think a second: what makes something seem metallic? Can you say “reflections”? Right. So how do you get both glowing and reflective? What’s it reflecting? Neither of the servicemen claimed to have gotten close enough to shine a light on it, or even see it unobscured by the trees.

    Radiation readings were incredibly vague, and what I found to be missing were the basic indication of competence from the figures. You do not get readings of “.4 millirems” – you have to specify over what time period. It’s like saying you’re moving at a velocity of “12 meters.” Per what? Second, minute, decade? Without this crucial little bit (as well as what “background” radiation levels for the area normally are), you’re talking nonsense.

    What was also disturbing about the accounts were two servicemen doing guard duty from a vehicle equipped with a radio, and not filing their report for several hours, when they got off duty. A mysterious object in their patrol section and they don’t report it immediately? Um, did someone check for the smell of alcohol?

    Now, pay attention. The bulk of information from that incident was two eyewitness reports. Virtually nothing was found to corroborate their descriptions. Nobody agreed on anything. No other reports even came close. The best supporting evidence was “radiation” and the ubiquitous “depressions.” ZOMG! Something made depressions in the soil! No earthly being could possibly do that!

    So, do you consider this your marvelous evidence? Or is this your cue to back away and disavow all interest in it?

    I found the report of the object at Kirtland AFB in November 1957 to be far more interesting and lacking ridiculous inconsistencies. There’s a freebie for you.

    I would be interested to hear what you think of these…

    http://www.v-j-enterprises.com/sfufovsseti.html

    Wow. You really are determined to use the entire pantheon of bad debating tactics, aren’t you? Now we get to deal with “Straw Men.”

    You know what might be educational? Going to SETI’s site and seeing if they support any one of the topics Friedman’s accusing them of on his page.

    You probably should know a couple of things, such as Drake personally finds his own equation an interesting exercise, not a useful tool, and SETI really doesn’t limit themselves to any particular field of examination, but as a non-profit they’re going to be restricted to what they can afford to do and what’s practical – if you dare go to their site, you’ll notice this is expanding.

    But oh, the gems on Friedman’s page! We’ve got the “Many scientists have been wrong in the past” (from which I suppose we’re to assume that Friedman’s opponents, and not Friedman himself, must somehow be likened to), and “The government benefits from keeping their knowledge of aliens secret,” ridiculously implausible (they couldn’t keep waterboarding secret or even produce WMDs, and this says nothing of other countries who would have plenty of reasons to discredit one other) and yet still treated as a trump card by the UFObees, and “the universe could be simply teeming with life by now,” which is the second biggest stumbling block of the entire ET question. It’s actually extremely easy to show statistics that dispute this quite handily. It’s also impossible to demonstrate either way, which makes both claims perfectly safe. And equally worthless.

    The biggest stumbling block, however, is the simplest: interstellar distance. We measure that in terms of the speed of light, as in, our closest neighbor star is four years away if you happen to move at the speed of light. Four years, John – you could have even learned some basic physics by then. Relativity tells us it’s a damn sight longer away if you actually want to take mass there, though. This has been the biggest argument against ET visitation, and somehow, the only one that Friedman missed. Funny that. Maybe he addresses it in his books or CDs? You can ask SETI about it for free.

    And, of course, it makes his argument about “cosmic freeloading” (more often called gravitational or orbital assist) look phenomenally stupid, since the greatest acceleration you can gain from that would mean you’d get to Alpha Centauri a couple of ice ages from now. Bring a big lunch.

    I’ll put it plainly for you: Friedman’s a blowhard. He deals with no serious issues, and makes up his own debating points. And he gets the UFObees to pay him for it (which is as good a use of a fool’s money as anything, I suppose).

    You want to know what makes it even worse, though? He probably doesn’t believe a word on his own website. But he makes a living off of it just the same. All he has to do is sound smart, because his audience won’t bother to check.

    The treefrogs are calling, John, so my time is now going to be spent elsewhere. Feel free to say you chased me away if you like.

  86. John

    To JustAl & anyone else who may want to comment

    The point about SETI is true as humans are replacing radio waves with optics. For example tv signals and radio are being replaced by optical fibre. Even if we’ve just about stopped using radio in about 200 years after it was first used, searching for radio signals from other star systems is pointless as the chance of another civilisation being in that period of evolution is slim. I know that’s all they could search for in the first place and with more funding SETI will search for laser signals.

    “Nope, just happen to have a life”
    you live with treefrogs?

    “you could have even learned some basic physics by then”
    I do know enough Physics to understand that we can’t accelerate a mass to the speed of light or faster, but I’m not going to assume that other ways of travelling are impossible, such as wormholes. Don’t forget there’s the possibility of other dimensions so wouldn’t have the long distances to travel, or maybe they evolved in our solar system a long time ago. Even if they travelled long distances to get here and took thousands of years, if they can observe Earthlike planets from light years away as Nasa will be able to do soon, what would stop them sending a ship at slower than the speed of light? A generation ship is feasible, and a base can be set up once they arrive which could have been millions of years ago. The argument of other stars been too far away is not really valid to prove it’s impossible for other civilisations to travel that far. Unifying theories for Physics may even change the theory of relativity.

    “our closest neighbor star is four years away if you happen to move at the speed of light.”
    Actually it’s 4.37 years away at that speed.

    ““The government benefits from keeping their knowledge of aliens secret,” ridiculously implausible (they couldn’t keep waterboarding secret or even produce WMDs”
    That statement could be backed up by the fact that it’s a poorly kept secret, and media ridicule is preventing it from being taken seriously.

    “The problem with the various accounts of the Rendlesham Forest Incident is that they are wildly inconsistent”
    They both say they saw an object – they only said what they thought it looked like, not what it was made of. How do you know an extraterrestial element couldn’t have both glowing and reflective properties?
    There were sightings reported in the area before the media got hold of the story of what the two officers saw. It could have been the lighthouse but it’s not conclusive. What do you think of Nick Pope’s opinions on Rendelsham, especially the part about the lighthouse light being too far away and small?

    There are more credible sightings I can mention – O’Hare 2006, Guernsey 2007, Stephensville 2008, 62 kids in Zimbabwe saw UFO land & aliens 1994 and a similar sightings by school kids in Wales in 1970s.

  87. TheBlackCat

    TheBlackCat & JustAl are too cowardly to reply

    It has nothing to do with cowardliness. I have a life too. I read your links, saw that none of them had even the slightest bit of the evidence we have been asking you for, and gave up. I’m done. Al just shredded your forest incident and you completely ignored most of his points. I don’t see any reason to hang around here.

  88. John

    To TheBlackCat

    Explain the other incidents I mentioned in the previous comment if you wish

  89. John

    We all have a life, some are of ignorance like yours blackcat. I understand all of JustAl’s points and I thank him for his insights, but one day he will realise my interpretation.

  90. Richard Smith

    Had UFOlogy been a religion in some way, this is the point where the adherent would politely accept that some people just don’t want to accept The Truth, and will see the error of their ways whilst suffering eternal damnation in the afterlife. Fortunately, UFOlogy is nothing like a religion, so we won’t get the whole “you’ll be sorry when you realize I was right!” schtick.

    Oh, darn.

  91. John

    I have evidence from what I’ve seen with my eyes, so it’s logical to assume that some other sightings are probably unexplainable as well. And before anyone says that’s not logical, I think most people would change their minds after seeing one.

    I find it comical that people make comparisons between UFO sightings and religions, as I don’t recall anyone except the few inside churches claiming to have seen or talked to a god. A reliable recent survey concluded 24% of the population of South East England have said to have seen a UFO before. Religion is about ‘believing’, but seeing something which we can just categorise as unexplained is competely different.

    I was using this forum to try and find out what evidence, if any exist from well known sightings, as I haven’t got the time to investigate every one of them. I’m not convinced that a few incidents don’t have partial evidence to suggest something extraordinary may have occurred, namely the 1994 incident with 62 kids in Zimbabwe and similar incident in Wales in the 1970’s. Maybe the O’Hare 2006, Guernsey 2007, Stephensville 2008 incidents are also examples.

    Regardless of the fact that there is no definitive proof, there’s a lot of compelling reports with competent observers. I also fully understand that eye-witness accounts are not always accurate and, we will have to wait for some evidence before some people will even consider an event unexplainable, even if the event is definitely unexplained.

  92. John

    The Welsh incident I referred to was on the 4th of February 1977 in BroadHaven, Carmarthenshire, Wales.

  93. John

    http://www.mufon.com/documents/MUFONStephenvilleRadarReport.pdf

    Would any sceptic kindly like to debunk this. Or is this finally evidence to prove unexplainable events are occurring, without actual proof of aliens.

  94. Really Really!

    Sure, the Moon may be the 2nd largest visible item in the sky, but it is still smaller than an elephant.

    :-P

    http://www.hoax-slayer.com/elephant-moon-quiz-question.shtml

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