Edgar Mitchell is at it again. Yawn.

By Phil Plait | April 22, 2009 8:00 am

A lot of folks have been asking me if I heard that Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell has been talking about UFOs again, and CNN felt the need to carry the story.

The thing is, this isn’t a story. Mitchell isn’t saying anything new, and it’s certainly not surprising that CNN would write this fluff piece.

I’ve written about this before: Mitchell is an Apollo hero, but that doesn’t give him any authority at all when it comes to flying saucers. And, of course, he still has no real evidence at all for his claims. It’s a rehash of the same tired old stories, and there aren’t even blurry photos for this one.

So this isn’t news in any sense, and the article itself is a tad hysterical. I love the quotation from the UFO believer who says that UFOs are the "third rail of politics", that is, a topic no one wants to touch. That’s actually true, but not because no politician dares risk the ire of the shadow government that controls the saucer fleet. It’s because no politician wants to look like a fool discussing it. Or at least very few do; it may not have cost Kucinich the Democratic nod in the Presidential race, but it sure didn’t help.

So please, spare me the same tired stories, the fuzzy videos, the pilots who think balloons are alien spacecraft, and all the rest. Someone wake me when all these UFO folks who are rending their garments have some actual evidence.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking, NASA, Piece of mind

Comments (141)

  1. Brian Schlosser

    At least an astronaut talking about UFOs has slightly more credibility that a PhD in hydraulics opining on evolution…

  2. You’re right about politicians – they try their hardest not to look like fools.

    :) :) :) :) :)

    Sorry, couldn’t say that and keep a straight face.

  3. Todd W.

    Phil, Phil, Phil. Don’t you get it? There are other ways of knowing besides evidence-based observation. I learned this from a commenter in the “Why Evolution is True” thread.

  4. T_U_T

    There are other ways of knowing besides evidence-based observation.

    Like demanding suspension of disbelief from any listener, and inventing random mental disorders for those who refuse. 8-)

  5. At least an astronaut talking about UFOs has slightly more credibility that a PhD in hydraulics opining on evolution…

    How so? I’ve been in a car more times than an astronaut has been in space, so does that make me a mechanic? Edgar Mitchell has no evidence for his claims; science has no authorities, only evidence.

  6. Oh, you people.

    Come over to the alternate side of reality, it’s so much happier over here. Well, it would be, were it not for those damn flat earthers. Always pissing off the hollow earthers….

  7. There was an episode of Frasier where Frasier decided he was going to publicly endorse an opposition candidate for some city post. As the cameramen were setting up to shoot the commercial in Frasier’s apartment, the candidate confessed to Frasier that he had been abducted by aliens. The rest of the episode was Frasier trying to find a way to weasel out of the endorsement. Hilarity ensued. :-D

  8. T_U_T

    Well, it would be, were it not for those damn flat earthers. Always pissing off the hollow earthers….

    wait, you mean that earth is not both hollow and flat at once ?

  9. David Williams

    What is clear is that a large number of individuals have come
    forward and made statements whose implications, if true, are
    profound. If the witnesses are who they say they are – and are
    found to be lying – then we should be very concerned about the
    type of individuals who fly our planes, control air traffic, man
    the missile silos and protect our communities.

    If on the other hand, the witnesses are telling the truth then –
    no matter how extraordinary – this is a serious issue.

  10. So why are the crazies harassing Buzz Aldrin instead of this guy? It must be professional courtesy or something.

  11. Todd W.

    @T_U_T

    wait, you mean that earth is not both hollow and flat at once ?

    Are you suggesting that the Earth is like one of those maple-syrup filled pancakes from McRestaurant with the syrup sucked out?

  12. Sundance

    @T_U_T: “wait, you mean that earth is not both hollow and flat at once ?”

    Yeah, of course it is. It’s hollow to hollow-Earthers and flat to flat-Earthers, because quantum mechanics proves that observation determines reality via a psychic phase inversion of the foo-faddle-field. Haven’t you see ‘What the bleep do we know?’? :-D

  13. Steve Jeffers

    What’s interesting is how a lot of the older UFO investigators have decided that the ‘UFO phenomenon’ is psychological – the big UFO flaps coincided with Close Encounters coming out in the cinema, then the X Files on TV.

    Two big things seem to have burst the bubble – first, Ufologists used to breathlessly talk about how the Soviets were taking it seriously … then Russia collapsed, and the files were published and … there weren’t any files. The other: we all have cameras on our phones, now. Despite that, we’re not seeing any more ghosts or aliens or cryptids than before.

  14. Joe Meils

    I don’t know why we just don’t start lumping all the UFO mythology into it’s proper catagory… as a religion. The folks who are into this sort of thing are definitely “believers.” They have a general set of tenants to their beliefs:

    1) Aliens are visiting Earth, and tampering with events in human development.
    2) some of these aliens are good (the grays) and some are evil (the reptiloids)Thus, they have Gods and demons.
    3) Our government knows about it, but won’t come clean because of a fear of panic. They have alien technology in their posession, and have had it since July, 1947.
    4) These aliens are working to some sort of plan, mutilating cattle, abducting people and subjecting them to traumatic tests. In any case, direct contact with the world is not in their best interests.

    There are plenty of variations: everything from Shaver Mystery nuts to Zeti Reticuli star mappers, to X-File inspired folk who have a hard time differentiating between TV and the real world. In some cases, they’ve been willing to sacrifice their lives to their beliefs. (as in the Heaven’s Gate tradgedy)

    UFOs are NOT in any way scientific. They are just religious yearnings to have something larger than mankind, something mysterious, something in some way comforting in the world.

    It’s a religion.

    Do I believe in any of this stuff? No. Not until I see one myself, or someone flops an alien body on a slab in full light, where it can be examined. Or hauls a wrecked saucer out of the basement at Wright Patterson foe everyone to see. Even then… technology for faking such things has gotten so good, I’d have to wait for the lab tests to get back before I’d commit myself one way or the other.

  15. wait, you mean that earth is not both hollow and flat at once ?

    Please! The hollow earth is filled with plasma, thus creating a Birkenstock Current™ that randomly disenfrabulates the Q dimension from the circumference of the planet. This creates a positive ion flux between the earth and the fake moon that warps our perception of hollowness, making the earth appear, in fact, flat, and BTW, totally consistent with Atlantean cosmology, which as everyone knows, predicts the end of the universe last Tuesday.

    Sheesh.

  16. Fizzle

    I saw that story watching CNN, what really annoyed me was how on they kept equating thinking there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe with intelligent life visiting us. I kept shouting at my TV “YOU CAN ACCEPT ONE WITHOUT ACCEPTING THE OTHER.”

  17. RL

    I’m curious, Phil. Do you think Mitchell is lying when he recounts conversations with people like former admirals or others? It’s one thing to be wrong when analyzing something that you saw, but another to be wrong when recounting interactions with people if they did not occur. What do you think?

  18. Aleksandar

    Main argument against alien made UFOs is that there would have to be world wide conspiracy of governments and secret services blackmailing and/or executing anyone credible that could reveal “the truth”. And considering how much people claim to have seen UFOs, amateur astronomers (as they keep watching the sky, have instruments to record what they see, can recognize what they see and figure out if something is out of place) world wide would have been having extremely high number of deaths from unknown causes for last several decades.

    For heavens sake, I saw UFO once, a unidentified flying object. And while I doubt it was bug swarm high in air illuminated by city lights, or carnival balloons, I’m 90% certain it wasn’t the scout ship from Wolf 357c. Weather and geology can and have produced weird sights and lights for as long as man has watched the night sky.

  19. Flying sardines

    Todd W. Says: (April 22nd, 2009 at 8:14 am)

    Phil, Phil, Phil. Don’t you get it? There are other ways of knowing besides evidence-based observation. I learned this from a commenter in the “Why Evolution is True” thread.

    Would thatbe theself-described “moderate” Todd? Coz if so he was really more of a troll than a commenter. Possibly a Poe though iwonderif we’ll ever know … ;-)

  20. Flying sardines

    @ Aleksandar :

    while I doubt it was bug swarm high in air illuminated by city lights, or carnival balloons, I’m 90% certain it wasn’t the scout ship from Wolf 357c

    How ’bout Wolf 357b then? ;-)

    Or Wolf 359 (Oh wait, the Borg got taht’un didn’t they?) ;-)

    Just joshin’ ya.

  21. Flying sardines

    Romeo Vitelli Says: (April 22nd, 2009 at 8:54 am)
    So why are the crazies harassing Buzz Aldrin instead of this guy? It must be professional courtesy or something.

    LOL! Good ‘un. :-D

    The Bad Astronomer :

    It’s because no politician wants to look like a fool discussing it. Or at least very few do; it may not have cost Kucinich the Democratic nod in the Presidential race, but it sure didn’t help.

    Wha ..? Kucinich said something about UFo’s? I must’ve missed that.

  22. IVAN3MAN

    Cartman Gets an Anal Probe
    Cartman Gets an Anal Probe.

  23. Flying sardines

    BTW. BA where’s your post on the new exoplanets of Gliese 581?

    I hope one’s coming .. that’s much more interesting and notable than
    re-heated Edgar Mitchell still making kookoo comments. ;-)

  24. IVAN3MAN

    NUTS! I had posted a cartoon of “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”, but the host web-site cut the link! Bloody spoilsports!

  25. BJN

    Mitchell is not only into UFOs, he’s into ESP and remote healing among other pseudo science ideas. Mitchell was at the cutting edge of New Age pseudo science, co-founding The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) with wealthy woo benefactor Paul Temple to “encourage and conduct research on human potentials”.

    Also from the Apollo Astronaut Hall of Wingnuts, there’s the late James Irwin who went on expeditions looking for Noah’s Ark.

  26. Don’t be ridiculous about ‘flat/hollow’… the Earth is on four elephants on the Great A’Tuin.

    Now, excuse me, I need to catch my flight to Ankh-Morpork.

    J/P=?

  27. J. Becker

    Less skepticism, more astronomy?

  28. Brian Schlosser

    @Richard Wolford

    Howso? Not really any… I was just taking a shot at the guy from one of the ID groups that claims his PhD in hydraulics makes him an expert in evolutionary biology…

    In actuality both Mitchell and the IDer are equally full of it

  29. Rizzaman

    Just on planet earth scientists estimate there may be like 100 million different species of living organisms. You can find life in the most extreme conditions, without sunlight or at the bottom of the sea near hot magma in boiling temperatures. We have living organisms of all kinds. So from looking at this planet you can conclude that life is kind of creative and can be extremely adaptive to all types of conditions. So now throw in trillions of possible galaxies and planetary systems out there into the equation and then the chance that somewhere a civilization figured out space travel at some point in the history of this ANCIENT universe and it does not really seem that unlikely to me. Or does it? Yeah they may be millions of light years away from us but they may also be billions of years more advanced than we are. We should not limit an alien intelligence by our own primitive science and understandings of what can be done or not. Not that many hundreds of years ago we still thought the earth was the center of the universe, but we were kind of wrong, hehe. So keep your mind open, because you never know, the obvious could be staring at us and we may not be able to see it because of our preconceived ideas about what is possible or not.

  30. Thanks Sundance for a good chuckle this am. I didn’t see the term foo-faddle-field in Discover mags excerpt from Bob Bermans’ new book, but it should have been there. The book verges on “determinism”. Could Skeptics be like the rest of us and refuse to be skeptical of their own cherished beliefs?

  31. rob

    @Brian S:

    a PhD in hydraulics? he must be A LOT of fun at parties!

  32. Dave

    RL says: Do you think Mitchell is lying when he recounts conversations with people like former admirals or others?

    He did meet with Admiral Wilson, but other than that his claims about it are false. The false claims appear to have originated with Greer, so it’s possible Mitchell was just gullible rather than lying himself.

    http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080806/BLOG32/525095430/2121&title=Admiral__Never_looked_for_UFO_data
    “What is true is that I met with them,” Wilson said in a phone interview. “What is not true is that I was denied access to this material, because I didn’t pursue it. I may have left it open with them, but it was not especially compelling, not compelling enough to waste my staff’s time to go looking for it.”

  33. a PhD in hydraulics? he must be A LOT of fun at parties!

    That depends entirely on what sort of party he’s at.

  34. Todd W.

    @rob and kuhnigget

    Thanks a lot. Now I have hydraulics-themed pick-up lines going through my head.

  35. Richard

    Earth is hollow and flat. Great, now I have to add that to the “expanding Earth” model.

    There could be a link there, somehow. Maybe throw in the Illuminati, or even the Masonic Order just to be on the safe side.

    Is the human propensity towards religion (i.e., a possible hardwired need for it) a good or bad thing? On the one hand, it can keep society in step by playing on that need and conforming the masses to one way of thinking. On the other hand, it leads to conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions just short of schizophrenia.

    Is that a knock on my door….

  36. Chris A.

    I feel compelled to relate my firsthand experience with Mitchell:
    Some years ago Mitchell came to our campus to give a motivational speech. While here, we invited him to give a presentation at our planetarium. (Unfortunately, none of us knew beforehand that Mitchell had gone over to the “woo” side.) He asked what we wanted him to talk about, and, trying our best to be deferential, we said “whatever you like.” Well, we got the full-on aluminum foil hat talk.

    At a reception afterwards, feeling very embarrassed that I was caught so off-guard, I couldn’t help but ask him why, given the things he was claiming his IONS group had proof of, they hadn’t claimed Randi’s $1M prize. He dismissed Randi as someone who would cook the tests no matter what to avoid paying out.

    In retrospect, my take on Mitchell was that he is someone who probably had some curiosity about the paranormal to begin with, and got sucked into the woo-woo world by people looking to cash in on his celebrity. And he took the bait (hell, he swallowed it, hook, line and sinker). I think he’s sincere, but blinded by his own ego.

  37. Daz

    It’s not uncommon for man to believe in the unseen. There is no true evidence for the existence of anything in our universe. Our measured systems break down on the orders of extreme into boundaries that defy our very existence, yet without some belief (Faith or Gamble, and a great deal of research!) into the unkown, we would have never let astronauts reach the moon. There are endless examples of this, the point i’m attempting is that i’m annoyed by people picking on ufo witnesses for not having evidence, we didn’t have evidence (other than math) for the existence of many discoveries in our universe, yet we still supported them and discovered them to be true, and with the case of ET, math and science both support the probabilities of its existence. Okay so the guy is a bit of a broken record..give him a break!

  38. Todd W.

    @Richard

    Earth is hollow and flat. Great, now I have to add that to the “expanding Earth” model.

    I got it! Earth is an inflatable frisbee! It’s flat. It’s hollow. It expands! Now if I can just publish the paper…

  39. Flying sardines

    Sure its not a waterbed instead? ;-)

  40. Todd W.

    @Flying sardines

    Hmm…maybe. Though my other option was a jelly doughnut with too much yeast.

  41. Flying sardines

    Regarding Edgar Mitchell its just sad to read really.

    He was a bright enough bloke at one stage – passed the psych tests and qualified for Apollo – was a little loopy even back on Apollo 14 with ESp experiments but man has he ever just degenerated into the morass of the woo.

    I guess cases like him & the late Jim Irwin & Lisa Nowak (the jealous nappy-wearing would-be kidnapper & shuttle astronaut) just go to show that astronauts are still very human and fallible – that and /or how muich people change & not for the better. When I hear about those three now I simply can’t help feeling a mixture of pity at how pathetic they’ve become and “what a shame” and … just … ick. :-(

  42. Flying sardines

    Todd W. Says:

    @Flying sardines

    Hmm…maybe. Though my other option was a jelly doughnut with too much yeast.

    Mmmm .. Definitely the tastiest option! I hope that’s right!

    Hey, do you think we could “feed the Earth” by, well, feeding them the Earth?! ;-)

  43. Charles Boyer

    I have to side with Phil on this.

    Show us proof and we will believe you. In fact, I will believe ANYTHING if you have verifiable proof of the validity of your claims.

    I would LIKE to believe that aliens are out there, that they have figured out how to traverse great distances and get around Relativity to do so. I would also like to believe aliens are benignly visiting us and that they are waiting for us to grow up as a species until they welcome us into the club. That would be cool indeed.

    But it is wishful thinking until there’s some kind of proof that its real.

    I’ve probably got a few more years on this rock unless death comes from the skies, so I can afford to wait patiently. In the meantime, don’t waste my time with crazy claims, even if you have walked on the moon.

  44. Expect a lot of “UFO” sightings by military pilots while flying OEF and OIF due to the meteor showers coming up. Either that or SAFIRES…

  45. Sir Eccles

    Didn’t Story Musgrave go off the woo end claiming to see or try to contact UFOs during shuttle flights. Maybe there is something about space flight that makes people mad or at least makes them attention whores.

  46. matteus

    Just proves that ‘paranormal believers’ include some obviously intelligent, capable, and competent people. It’s just a matter of education, and how that education influences or doesn’t influence our preconceptions.

  47. Todd W.

    @Sir Eccles

    It must be the Van Allen Belts! Proof that we could not have actually gotten to the moon!

  48. Flying sardines

    “Attention whores” like Neil Armstrong ..? ;-)

    Its not all of them.

    How many hundreds of normal, rational, unfamous astronuats are there?

    Its just that the nutters, quite undeservedly, get all the media focus. Sigh.

  49. The One

    What more proof do you need people?

    There are plenty of UFO videos, pictures and even alien implants to say that this is real. Even if it was 100% real you wouldn’t believe it because the picture is not in HD quality and the materials are not in your hands to examine. No matter what, nothing will change your mind about this topic until ET slaps you in the face and puts you on Mars. (Even then you will think it’s a dream and act like it never happens because you want to be in denial about the topic. You would think people in Science would have more sense than what this article is stating.

    This is a real issue and Science nerds act like this is not possible since they haven’t seen it or have evidence. A man is a professional at Space and people don’t believe him when he says Extraterrestrials exists.

    IF THIS TOPIC WASN’T REAL, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY GOVERNMENTS RELEASING UFO DOCUMENTS BUT THE US? IF THIS WASN’T REAL THERE WOULD BE NO REASON TO KEEP THIS STUFF CLASSIFIED. THE GOVERNMENT CAN KEEP ANYTHING THEY WANT FROM. You science nerds act like you know everything because of evidence. Sometimes you just have to think on your own and not think about what people say.

    Here is my reason for believing in other life and UFO’s.

    To think that we are the only living thing in this solar system is ridiculous. I guess those other planets are just there to take up space for no reason at all right? The moon is just there for us to look at right? The sun is there because it’s shinny right? Everything in the solar system has a purpose. Instead of denying the possibilities. Millions of people see them every year. Hundreds of officials and pilots see them all the time.

    You are denying credible pilots and Astronauts in there field of study.

    Have you ever been to the moon? NO BUT I BET YOU CAN GIVE US THE RUN DOWN ABOUT WHAT THE MOON CONSIST OF. Now what makes you right about the moon if you have never been there? You can always say things like this to deny a story.

  50. Charles Boyer

    ““Attention whores” like Neil Armstrong ..? ;-)”

    That line made me laugh out loud. Very well played, sir.

  51. Richard

    @Todd W.

    I got it! Earth is an inflatable frisbee! It’s flat. It’s hollow. It expands! Now if I can just publish the paper…

    Pssh, why bother with a paper. Going that route you’ll have to do real work and may find out the whole thing was completely and utterly wrong.

    No, just self-publish a book then get on Oprah and Larry King. If they don’t let you on, then just go to A&E Channel or History Channel and give them a treatment for a “controversial idea” about the earth. Or, if they don’t take you, there’s always Sci-Fi Channel. They eat that felgercarb up.

    That’s a lot less work and you’ll never have to admit you’re wrong and you can establish a network of credulous,…er, I mean open-minded marks,…er I mean individuals. That’s where the profits,…er, I mean Truth lies.

  52. Dave

    Sir Eccles Says: Didn’t Story Musgrave go off the woo end

    I don’t think so. His comments about it seem quite reasonable, i.e. he believes there is life out there but hasn’t seen any. However, his views are being misrepresented on some UFO sites.

  53. The problem is that ordinary people see astronauts and think “they must know EVERYTHING about space. They’ve actually been there!” Yeah they risk their lives doing the coolest job ever, but that doesn’t make them infallible.

  54. UmTutSut

    Unfortunately, the (s)nooze conference did nothing but feed the skeptics. I was very disappointed there was nothing new, as Phil accurately points out. IMO, Ed Mitchell may well be correct about a government coverup…but it’s gonna take more than stories from Roswell “old timers” to generate any real media interest.

    BTW, Jim Acosta’s CNN piece was pretty snarky, and the graphic showing “little green men” popping up on the White House lawn didn’t help.

  55. Ian

    ” then Russia collapsed, and the files were published and … there weren’t any files.”

    There were files. But they revealed that the KGB was using the UFO craze and it’s followers as a front/distraction for missile and assorted other aerospace testing.

    So the secret Soviet UFO files were there, they were just way more mundane than the True Believers would have liked.

    LOL@ True Believers. Pwn3d by The Man. Or that should be The Peoples Man.

  56. Ian

    Daz sez: “th the case of ET, math and science both support the probabilities of its existence.”

    Yes, but there is no support for the claim that ET is traversing interstellar distances in order to probe our asses.

    Most science folks or science literate folks or even reasonabole folks will allow that the chances are pretty good that out there somewhere is life.

    Where we differ from the True Belivers is that first point above: starship ass probing missions to earth by bilaterally symetrical “grays” with big black eyes with a backdoor fetish. They do not exist.

  57. Nick

    So than I am to ask, who IS qualified to point out a UFO? Our governments deny there existence and every single person who claims that they have seen a UFO, regardless of their position/job (farmer, pharmacist, truck driver, scientist, military personnel, astronaut, astronomer, etc), are ridiculed and have no “authority” to say whether the UFO they saw or believe in is real or not.

    So who does have the authority then? I guess only the little green men themselves will convince the masses.

    But of course everyone needs absolute proof of there existence before they believe, just like the FDA needs 100% undeniable proof that a drug works, even sacrificing millions of lives just to get the proper testing done. The policy of waiting sucks but the majority of our population does not posses the ability to critically think for themselves and therefore everyone is doomed to suffer in a pool of ignorance.

    -sigh-

  58. Todd W.

    @Nick

    just like the FDA needs 100% undeniable proof that a drug works

    Sorry to nitpick, but that’s just wrong. FDA only requires that the manufacturer include a couple studies showing that the product, if new, is more effective than placebo or, in the case of follow-on products, at least no worse than products already on the market. The standard is far from 100% undeniable proof.

  59. T.E.L.

    Daz Said:

    “It’s not uncommon for man to believe in the unseen. There is no true evidence for the existence of anything in our universe.”

    Uh- WHAT? Are you saying that in absolutely no case is there evidence for anything at all? You’re being massively stupid. Go stub your toe on a rock and tell me you’ve no evidence for the rock’s existence, or even for your own.

  60. José

    @Nick
    So than I am to ask, who IS qualified to point out a UFO?

    No one is qualified or disqualified based on their vocation. That’s do to the inherent unreliability of eyewitness testimony.

  61. José

    Woops. I meant to say that it’s the inherent unreliability of eyewitness testimony that’s the problem.

  62. jh

    I remember last year, a really compelling video was released on the internet. It showed UFOs buzzing a beach, and seemingly unrelated people reacting, gasping, pointing.

    The guy came out and said it was a hoax.. a well done movie created by him and a team with extras.

    And yet, the REAL woo-woos spent the next few months (and might even STILL be going) insisting that someone “GOT TO HIM.”

  63. Mike

    Did someone mistakenly name this website ‘Discover’? It should be ‘Debunker’… a place where denial is taken as seriously in the 21st century as it was in the dark ages when the world was flat and at the center of the universe.

  64. mk

    @Nick

    Everyone is “qualified” to “point out a UFO.” Pointing out a UFO is the easy part. I’ve seen an object flying in the sky before that remained unidentified by me. No big deal.

    Now, giving actual reliable evidence that it was a space ship from another galaxy with alien life forms aboard? That’s the hard part. Nobody has done that yet. No farmer, pharmacist, truck driver, scientist, military personnel, astronaut, astronomer, etc… nobody.

  65. I get angry for a few moments when UFO shows come on. And then I watch them, and snigger quietly in the corner throughout the entire show, listing off large inaccuracies. I’m not a professional photographer in any means of the word, but I can tell that it’s shaped the way it is because you’re using a *digital zoom*. That is, the little computer in your camera is making up data for what is at that level of depth based on what is around it, using complex algorithms.
    I can go on and on. It’s fun, especially when they get to cow-slashing.

  66. It feels that UFOs and ESP and ghosts, etc. were much more harmless when I was a kid in the 60s-70s. Now it’s become much more charged on both sides. But for me, they always led into real science, and then you put away the childish things. Still, they were fun. Even Noah’s Ark and other stories. I’d like to keep them around somehow. I guess that’s where the science fiction that’s on this blog comes in.

    Never saw a real UFO, drat. Until last year or so, but I think that was a garbage bag caught in a thermal air current.

  67. greta

    Hello,

    This is my first post on any blog (although I find the format similar to the “discussion rooms” on DECnet in the 80’s), so forgive any blunders. I will start off by stating that this will be responding to a couple of threads for I am finding a common one. With that in mind, I must call you to task for picking on the grammar in chuck’s texts when there are ample dangling participles throughout all the threads. To paraphrase Churchill, it is something with which I will not up put!

    Next I must address the “intellectual elitist” arrogance that chuck and a few others have unsuccessfully tried to point out. For an example, in the evol thread someone chided chuck for his attempt to share his view by saying that this blog was filled with experts. If I remember correctly, Einstein was not considered an expert until long after he published, nor I believe, was Madame Curie. Did that make them less knowledgeable? On a more personal note, I studied EE and PoliSci with Alternative Forms of Energy as my speciality in college. Due to bureaucratic crap I was unable to finish my pursuit. Does this make me less intelligent than your scholarly experts? Or my ideas less valid?

    I find your treatment of UFO and other supra-normal incidents offensive and stereotypical. Not all people who believe in ETs and UFOs believe the stories of anal probes and little grey men. Archaeology has for me the most convincing evidence that, at the very least, we have been visited in our past. Have you ever seen the gold images of an obviously aerodynamic item with the wings protruding from the bottom of the object (something that does not occur naturally)? They look remarkably like our space shuttles, but are found in ancient tombs in Central and South America. As for ghosts, again, not everyone believes they are goo flinging scare artists. One of the things I learned in physics 101 is that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. Our brains are filled with electro-magnetic energy pulsating in our own personal patterns. Why is it so hard to believe that the energy pattern of someone who dies traumatically might not dissipate, but remain more or less cohesive?

    So that is my 10 cents worth…. (to use the ancient slang of DECies) Flame On!

    greta

  68. Richard

    @Jack Ruttan
    Never saw a real UFO, drat. Until last year or so, but I think that was a garbage bag caught in a thermal air current.

    And you didn’t film it and add to your collection of video tapes about the beauty of the everyday?

    No, wait, that was a movie. Sorry.

  69. Um, duh, the Earth *is* hollow. With a molten core. Molten caramel surrounded by nougat and chocolate truffley stuff. Everybody knows that! I’d prefer mine without the nuts, by the way.

  70. Conner

    I would expect a bit more objective attitude concerning a phenomenon now confirmed by most countries, by people who profess a belief in science. If Earth is flat, then this is a science magazine. !

  71. Mark Hansen

    Where are these alien implants, The One? And don’t say “Oh, but teh ebil gummint has stolen demz all!!!!1111!!!one!!”
    As far as the moon goes, one doesn’t have to have been to the moon to get samples. Try unmanned probes (no, not those probes!) launched by the Russians if you feel that the gummint might really have faked the moon landings.

  72. Mike, I love it when people like you call me a debunker. Because what does a debunker debunk? Bunk!

  73. @ Greta:

    I must address the “intellectual elitist” arrogance that chuck and a few others have unsuccessfully tried to point out.

    No elitism here, Greta. Anybody making extraordinary claims must simply back them up with extraordinary evidence. Chuck rather exemplifies those who don’t follow through in that regard. And no, quoting the Bible doesn’t count.

    On a more personal note, I studied EE and PoliSci with Alternative Forms of Energy as my speciality in college. Due to bureaucratic crap I was unable to finish my pursuit.

    Alternative Forms of Energy…by that do you mean non-fossil fuels, or…psychic woo-woo stuff? ’cause if it’s the latter, I don’t think the crap was bureaucratic in nature. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

    I find your treatment of UFO and other supra-normal incidents offensive and stereotypical.

    Your use of the expression “supra-normal” identifies you as a quack right from the start. If something belongs to the natural world, it can be studied. It will leave evidence. It can be tested. So far, no UFO “incident” has stood the test.

    Archaeology has for me the most convincing evidence that, at the very least, we have been visited in our past. Have you ever seen the gold images of an obviously aerodynamic item with the wings protruding from the bottom of the object (something that does not occur naturally)? They look remarkably like our space shuttles, but are found in ancient tombs in Central and South America.

    Sorry, Greta, you’ve just lost me with that one. I write books about archaeology. It’s a favorite subject of mine. The “obviously aerodynamic item” you wackos love to point to is nothing more than a graphic element linking togoether an image of a Mayan priest-ruler and the glyphs that identify him and his historical accomplishments. Similar glyphs can be found in tombs throughout the Mayan world. They are read by Mayan scholars who appreciate them for the complex cultural record they are. Please do some more to educate yourself.

    And South America? Oh, dear, please tell me you are not referring to Erick von Dannikken’s follies….

    And while we’re on a roll…

    As for ghosts, again, not everyone believes they are goo flinging scare artists. One of the things I learned in physics 101 is that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. Our brains are filled with electro-magnetic energy pulsating in our own personal patterns. Why is it so hard to believe that the energy pattern of someone who dies traumatically might not dissipate, but remain more or less cohesive?

    I guess you never took a biology class. The brain’s “energy” comes from electro-chemical reactions. Synapses fire when neurontransmitters release chemicals that carry charge from one part of a neuron to others. The brain’s signals do not travel beyond the brain itself and the nerves that connect it with the rest of the body. They cannot, because you have to have a physical conduit for the neurotransmitters to carry the charges. Sorry, they don’t transfer to any other organ, let alone something outside the body. When the brain dies, the chemical reactions stop. No more energy. No more “energy patterns.” Flatline. Pretty well established science.

    But maybe you missed that class due to bureaucratic crap.

  74. I guess, “I want to believe” is not just a statement, it’s a summary of a process that can prod someone more and more towards a place where emotional desire interferes with one’s ability to accept factual findings impartially. I say that with empathy, because we should simply expect that a member of a very small and exclusive club of human beings would have a very profound spiritual experience when going to the Moon, and being an elite astronaut at the time would make him no less prone to ponder a larger set of existential questions than most people ever will.

    Having said all that, we’ve seen a parade of former astronauts calling for “disclosure” for a long time now, and nothing ever sticks, and I, for one, am skeptical of a large federal bureaucracy’s ability to not only keep a secret but also to consistently cover it up to the point of discouraging efforts by the legions of qualified investigative journalists to uncover such big secrets. In other words, there just isn’t enough “there” there.

  75. Greg in Austin

    Nick says,

    “So than I am to ask, who IS qualified to point out a UFO?”

    As with anything in science, YOU or I would be qualified to point out a UFO.

    If by UFO you simply mean an unidentified flying object, something that is completely terrestrial, but you can’t get close enough to identify it, well, that happens all the time.

    If by UFO you mean little green men from another planet, well, the answer is STILL you or me.

    Take for example, something that was once misunderstood, but is now commonly accepted, like the moon. It was once believed to be completely perfect, in form and composition. A perfect sphere with a perfectly smooth surface. After humans invented the telescope and pointed it at the moon, we learned that it was neither perfectly round, nor perfectly smooth. Today, you and I can go buy a $15 telescope and see for ourselves the surface of the moon in better detail than any human could 1,000 years ago. With science, you and I can test that idea: Is the moon a perfectly smooth sphere, or is it rough and out of round? I don’t have to believe Galileo, or NASA or the internet, because, using the scientific method, I can test it myself, and come to my own conclusion.

    If little green aliens really came to Earth, there would be evidence that you and I could test ourselves, and come to our own conclusions. I have looked at the moon, many times, with my own eyes and equipment. My conclusion is that the moon is non-spherical, with mountainous terrain, and covered with craters. On the same hand, I have looked for evidence, any evidence at all, that little green men are visiting us. So far, I have seen ZERO evidence that supports that idea.

    In both cases, I suggest you perform your own tests, and come to your own conclusions. That’s the way science works.

    8)

  76. Hey, to be fair to Kucinich, he never asserted that what he saw was anything more than he knew for a fact, that it was simply something he couldn’t recognize. Still, not every voter that made fun of him for that is equally willing to consider that he chose his words carefully, so you’re right that it didn’t help. Not that it was any game-changer for him, anyway.

  77. MartyM

    I’ll believe in visiting UFOs and aliens when I see it. Just the same with Bigfoot, Lockness Monster, and the adorable abominable. I recently read it’s estimated that 6000 bigfoot live in the pacific northwest, yet not one piece of real evidence of them. No body, no hair, no poop. Show me some alien poop and maybe you’ll get some where! LOL!!

  78. José

    @greta
    I must call you to task for picking on the grammar in chuck’s texts when there are ample dangling participles throughout all the threads.

    We all make errors, but Chuck avoided capital letters and paragraphs like the plague, which made his posts hard to read.

    Does this make me less intelligent than your scholarly experts? Or my ideas less valid?

    Most people commenting here are regular people like you and Chuck. We just ask that you present evidence to back up your claims that we can give feedback on. And if, unlike Chuck, you can do this without acting like a pompous jerk, people will generally be nice and respectful, even if we think your argument is silly. In Chuck’s case, he acted like a jerk from the start and ignored feedback, but it didn’t have to be that way.

  79. Flying sardines

    @ the One :

    A man is a professional at Space and people don’t believe him when he says Extraterrestrials exists.

    If you’re referring to Edgar Mitchell there you’re just wrong. An astronaut is NOT an expert on space but rtaher on flying and operating the spacecraft.

    An expert on *space* is called an astronomer! ;-)

    BTW. I see a few people mentioning posts by Chuck here but no posts by Chuck. What happened, were they deleted or something?

  80. Flying sardines

    One other thing :

    A man is a professional at Space and people don’t believe him when he says Extraterrestrials exists.

    Its not a case of Mitchell saying

    * “extraterrestrials exist”

    rather its more Mitchell saying

    * UFO’s = flying saucers with aliens that came here & the govts been covering them up for years!!!

    These are two very different propositions which should NOT be conflated into the same thing.

    I am sure there will be other intelligent species out there somewhere.

    I am NOT at all sure they will ever be able to visit us. (Although contact via radio or lasewr or microwave may prove possible.)

    I am pretty durn sure that *if* aliens ever do come here to visit us will not go round abducting and probing people and cows.

    &

    I am absolutely sure that the US govt is NOT covering up and has NOT had any allience with reptiloids from Zeta Reticuli or whatever for years. I mean c’mon .. they’re just not that competent! ;-)

  81. Mark Hansen

    @Flying Sardines
    The Chuck posts were in the evolution thread.

  82. Flying sardines
  83. Grant H

    Whoa! This is a hot topic! My scroll wheel finger has got cramp! People like discussing UFOs, huh..?

    Mitchell may well be a liar.

    But (just for arguments sake) if he’s not a liar, should he just shut his mouth because his got no evidence. Would that be the right thing to do? Maybe…

    If you were him, and let’s just say you weren’t lying, what would you do?

    (Just to be clear, of course I don’t believe him. But I keep my mouth shut about it for the most part. Because however minuscule the possibility is, if people like him are telling the truth… well, in that unlikely scenario, imagine being them).

  84. Mark, the Netherlands

    First I like to excuse for the probably bad written English but I would like to say that I was the biggest skeptic between my country’s border, but witnissing 3 unidentified objects myself I went through my own investigation of it.
    Not only to debunk those objects I had seen but also to have some understanding of the subject in it’s whole. Four years are past and saw en heard alot of rubbish. But there are things things happening that goes beyond our understanding. With technologies we couldn’t even dream about. Does that make me sound like I have a screw loose? Well, I’m just a person saying it, what about those quotes?:

    Richard Nixon, US President from 1969 to 1974: “I’m not at liberty to discuss the government’s knowledge of extraterrestrial UFO’s at this time. I am still personally being briefed on the subject.”

    Jimmy Carter, US President from 1976 to 1980, promised while on the campaign trail that he would make public all documents on UFOs if elected. He said: “I don’t laugh at people any more when they say they’ve seen UFOs. I’ve seen one myself.”

    Ronald Reagan, US President from 1980 to 1988, “I looked out the window and saw this white light.It was zigzagging around. I went up to the pilot and said, ‘Have you ever seen anything like that?’ He was shocked and he said, ‘nope.’ And I said to him: ‘Let’s follow it!’ We followed it for several minutes. It was a bright white light.We followed it to Bakersfield, and all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens. When I got off the plane I told Nancy all about it.”

    Monsignor Corrado Balducci, a Vatican theologian, said: “Extraterrestrial contact is a real phenomenon. The Vatican is receiving much information about extraterrestrials and their contacts with humans from its embassies in various countries, such as Mexico, Chile and Venezuela.”

    Professor Stephen Hawking: “Of course it is possible that UFO’s really do contain aliens as many people believe, and the Government is hushing it up.”

    Dr. Herman Oberth, a Nazi rocket engineer who was taken to the US after the war and became one of the fathers of modern spaceflight, said: “It is my thesis that flying saucers are real and that they are spaceships from another solar system.There is no doubt in my mind that these objects are interplanetary craft of some sort. I and my colleagues are confident that they do not originate in our solar system.”

    Dr J Allen Hynek, director of the US Air Force’s Project Blue Book investigation into UFOs, said: “When the long-awaited solution to the UFO problem comes, I believe that it will prove to be not merely the next small step in the march of science, but a mighty and totally unexpected quantum leap… we had a job to do, whether right or wrong, to keep the public from getting excited.”

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR’s last head of state: “The phenomenon of UFOs does exist, and it must be treated seriously.”

  85. Allen Rees

    Phil Plait is pretending to be a journalist with his banal hyper cynical clap-trap…again, yawn…

  86. Yeah. This was of course spread out online in one of our biggest newspapers here in Norway a couple of days ago as something new, spectacular and shockingly revealing. After all, he’s a friggin’ astronaut.

  87. greta

    kuhniggit:

    Thank you for proving my point. In your first paragraph you state that there is no intellectual elitism, then in your next you insult my path of studies with out knowing what it truly was. FYI my senior thesis was based on finding an alternative to carbon fueled vehicles (and no it did not involve crystals or any other “woo”). The bureaucratic crap was the financial aid office did not feel that I should stay in school (I was told to stay home and care for my baby – for real, and this was in the early 90’s) even though I was averaging 3.12 and yanked my aid, in the middle of a term in which I was studying Physics, Calculus and Oceanography. I ended up on acedemic probation, 10 years of debt, and no degree to show for it. Thank you for deriding my experience as a “whacko”

    I said supra-normal, not natural. If you are unable to think outside the box into the realm of possiblilities, then scientific inquiry dies. There is no curiosity without imagination. Einstein recognized this, and so have many other reputed scientists and scholars.

    As for my reference to the golden “insects”, as they are on display in the Gold Museum of Bogota (tha’s in Columbia), I would say, yes South America. I have seen pictures of these insects and drawn my own conclusions, thank you very much. I have even heard of Mr. von Dannikken. My interest in the insects actually cme through my own investigations into the myths laid out in Merlin Stone’s “Of Heras and Heroines” (I am new to blogging and do not know how to italicize). I also have read Marita Mabutis, National Geographic, and anything that has to do with Egyptian or Mayan cultures, and many other books.

    I would go on but i have to go back to work now…

    more later
    greta

  88. greta

    I am sorry that las paprgraph should read:

    “As for my reference to the golden “insects”, as they are on display in the Gold Museum of Bogota (tha’s in Columbia), I would say, yes to South America. I have seen the pictures of these images and have drawn my own conclusions, thank you very much. I haven’t even heard of Mr. von Dannikken. My interest in the “insects” actually came through my own investigations into the myths laid out in Merlin Stone’s “Of Heras and Heroines” (I am new to blogging and do not know how to italicize). I also have read Marjita Gimbutis, National Geographic, anything that has to do with Egyptian or Mayan cultures, and many other books.”

    I was in a hurry and did not edit.

    ciao,
    greta

  89. Dave

    Mark, the Netherlands Says: what about those quotes?

    What about them, Mark? Do you have any evidence to go with them or are they just as worthless as Ed Mitchell’s nonsense? You didn’t even read what Dr Plait wrote in the article, did you?

  90. numsix

    @ Joe Meils Says:
    April 22nd, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I don’t know why we just don’t start lumping all the UFO mythology into it’s proper catagory… as a religion.

    $cientology?

  91. Actually, Greta, if you read my last post you will note I gave you the benefit of the doubt regarding your alternative energy studies. Credit where credit is due, my friend.

    As for the financial aid business, well, welcome to the club. I was paying off student loans for ten years. Unfortunately, in this country you are not guaranteed access to college. Without further details, no one can comment on whether or not your “bureaucratic crap” was justified or not. However, you may want to leave that sort of rant out of future “first posts,” as it tends to identify you as a crank of the “poor me” martyr class.

    “I said supra-normal, not natural. If you are unable to think outside the box into the realm of possiblilities, then scientific inquiry dies.”

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt, again, Greta, and assume you were trying to be funny. “Supra-normal” by definition is something that supposedly cannot be studied by scientific means, i.e. something not of this universe (as everything that is in the universe can be studied by scientific means). Surely you didn’t expect to make a statement like that in a science blog and not be considered a crank? Pray tell, how does one scientifically study that which cannot be studied scientifically?

    And please don’t drop Einstein’s name as if he were the great god of rationality. Einstein was a scientist, a very smart man when it came to physics. He would no more be an expert on “supra-normal” phenomena than you or I.

    “As for my reference to the golden “insects”, as they are on display in the Gold Museum of Bogota”

    Aaaarghhhh! You ARE a fan of Erich von Däniken! Yikes! I’m sorry, but there’s no way of politely putting this. von Däniken was a first class nutjob who made some money presenting wacky theories about things he had no clue about. Reference his “interpretation” of the Nazca lines, some of which he presented as gigantic runways for interstellar aircraft…despite the fact they were only a few feet across! Yeah, he lied, Greta. Yes, there are big figures carved into the Nazca plains, but the figures and symbols they depict are happily included in the lexicon of glyphs and iconography of the Nazca culture and the preceding Paracas culture. Interesting, you may note, that many of the figures on the ground can be found in dimensional or painted form in the pottery both cultures produced. Hard to land a spaceship on a water jug, wouldn’t you say?

    And as those insects in the shape of space shuttles…well, try expanding your research a little beyond the “supra-normal” crowd. The artifacts you are referring to depict birds, not insects, as you’d quickly be able to determine for yourself if you familiarized yourself with the subject. Birds are one of the most common symbols depicted in pre-columbian gold. They are elaborately stylized according to a very well-defined canon that archaeologists — real ones — have studied for decades. AqueoCostaRica, which is a regional journal of archaeology, had a series on this a while back. I suggest you check it out.

  92. greta

    kuhniggit (and yes I mean “git”, I assume you know what one is):

    I suppose the juvenile name-calling way of reasoning is the only one you understand. I have not come across as a pompous jerk nor do I believe that I ranted, but I am still being called names and mocked for my opinions. (Jose, your comment was much more civil and I thank you). I only brought up the controversial stuff to underscore my point that sometimes the responses on this site get very nasty for no real reason other than disagreement.

    If insults are the “benefit” of your doubt, I could do with less of it.

    I work for a NASA sponsered science discovery center in NH that emphasizes STEM. This blog is a link on our website. How do you know if the next person you put-down for asking a “stupid” question is not a 10 year old kid? Or what if one of our Board members who is a former astronaut reads your comments regarding his former profession and colleagues? I am really considering having this link removed; although the images are awe-inspiring and the truly scientific talk is fascinating. Is there no way to open reasonable discourse without the vitriolic personal attacks?

    respectfully,
    greta

  93. José

    @greta
    Thank you for proving my point.

    You wrongly call people arrogant and defend the likes of Chuck. When you get annoyed responses, you use them to confirm your initial statement that people are arrogant. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

    By the way, did you even read Chuck’s very first post? He brags that evolutionary biologists are afraid to debate creationist because they always lose. He assumes no one here has even bothered to investigate the merits of creationist. He even laughs at the stupidity of evolutionary biologists based on something he saw in the movie expelled. That’s arrogance.

  94. José

    @greta
    Is there no way to open reasonable discourse without the vitriolic personal attacks?

    Yes. As evidence, look at the polite responses Nick received even though he didn’t seem to get Phil’s post, and made a few false statements.

  95. Mark Hansen

    greta, the response people get depends on how they word their question. If they ask about a particular subject, without starting off about how everyone else is wrong, then in all likelihood people here will bend over backwards to help. As an example how would you feel about helping someone when they say, “You’re a jerk and a know-nothing fool but tell me all about vaccination”?

  96. Mark Hansen

    One more thing, greta. Name-calling after complaining about it seems a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

  97. Todd W.

    @greta

    Is there no way to open reasonable discourse without the vitriolic personal attacks?

    To add to José’s comments, another good way to avoid vitriol is to keep a civil and non-confrontational tone, particularly in your initial post. In other words, don’t come looking for a fight. Also, if you make a claim, back it up with evidence. While the evidence or arguments may be picked apart, it generally is not personal.

    For example, in your first post, you talked about how people exhibit “intellectual arrogance” (certainly provocative words), failed to point out examples of this arrogance (e.g., what arrogance did chuck talk about and what was the evidence that supported his claim?), chided people for commenting on chuck’s grammar, and comparing people’s use of dangling participles to his lack of proper capitalization, punctuation and paragraphs.

    Also, if someone says something that you feel is an insult, do not respond in kind. Your little kuhniggit (and yes I mean “git”, I assume you know what one is) comment merely serves to continue the vilification tennis. Respond civilly.

    Oh, and to answer your question regarding italicizing stuff, use the HTML tags at the beginning and end of the text you want to italicize. Those tags are and (remove the spaces. You can also indent blocks of text using the blockquote tag. Just replace “i” with “blockquote” in the examples above.

  98. Greg in Austin

    Greta said,

    I find your treatment of UFO and other supra-normal incidents offensive and stereotypical. Not all people who believe in ETs and UFOs believe the stories of anal probes and little grey men.

    The serious lack of evidence for the UFO=Aliens idea has been covered numerous times on the Bad Astronomy blog, and all over the internet. What “treatment” are you referring to? Perhaps it is the utter frustration of those who simply ask for evidence over and over again and fail to see it. Every time this topic comes up, someone, very much like you, comes here with an idea that has been thoroughly dissected, and thinks its completely new. Then, that person will get offended at the first response (if they’re not offended already) when they are informed that their idea has already been tested, and that it failed to support the idea that aliens from anywhere are visiting us.

    Now, if you have any real physical evidence, even if you think it needs another look over, please present it here. I for one am fascinated with the idea that aliens exist, but so far, no conclusive evidence has been found. Until it has, UFO=aliens, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, fairies and the rest can all be categorized under “Fiction.”

    As for ghosts, again, not everyone believes they are goo flinging scare artists. One of the things I learned in physics 101 is that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. Our brains are filled with electro-magnetic energy pulsating in our own personal patterns. Why is it so hard to believe that the energy pattern of someone who dies traumatically might not dissipate, but remain more or less cohesive?

    Oops, I should have mentioned that ghosts are included in that list. *sigh* There has been no confirmed, independently verified, evidence that ghosts exist. Your “idea” that maybe the energy of the human brain could somehow stay together after the body dies is an interesting idea, but it is strictly fantasy. Your physics 101 class was NOT a bioligy 101 class. If it were, you would have learned that the energy in our brains is no different than the energy used in the rest of the body. We eat food, which is converted to sugars and proteins, which is carried via a vast circulatory system to our organs, including the lungs and the brain. The lungs exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, which is also carried to every organ in the entire body. When the body dies, the blood no longer flows, the oxygen and nutrients no longer reach the organs, and the brain no longer receives its energy.

    The reason your idea does not stand up to scrutiny is because you do not say what mechanism the energy pattern uses to remain cohesive. In fact, you don’t even say what that energy pattern is. If that “energy pattern” exists, what does it look like? How can we test it? If it you are talking about your consciousness, how can it leave the body and remain your consciousness? If it can leave the body, why does it have to wait until the body dies, why can’t it leave at any time? If ghosts were indeed real, we could verify it using the scientific method.

    To use a common phrase, not only is this idea Not Plausible, its thoroughly Busted.

    8)

  99. Greg in Austin

    Dang blockquotes. Everyone mentally shift those paragraphs a little to the left.

    8)

  100. Dang lack of editing capability here I say. Sigh. :-(

    Please BA, pretty please with a gamma ray burst and Eta Carinae going supernovae on top, can we please get an editing option for these comments?

    Some of us (well, mea culpa, me for starters) just can’t seem to get things right first time. :-(

  101. Oh, dear, number 1,004,567 in an on-going series…

    kuhniggit (and yes I mean “git”, I assume you know what one is):
    I suppose the juvenile name-calling way of reasoning is the only one you understand. I have not come across as a pompous jerk nor do I believe that I ranted, but I am still being called names and mocked for my opinions.

    Please point to a specific example in my posts where I called you a name. Your opinions I have mocked, and will continue to do so if you continue to present them minus any evidence to support them. And no, Erick von Dänniken’s books nor references to Albert Einstein do not count.

    If you want your opinions respected, give me a reason to respect them. Show me the evidence that leads you to hold them.

    I only brought up the controversial stuff to underscore my point that sometimes the responses on this site get very nasty for no real reason other than disagreement.

    No, not “for no real reason,” rather this is a blog about science. Not “supra-normal phenomonena” which, by definition, cannot be studied by science.

    If insults are the “benefit” of your doubt, I could do with less of it.

    Then skip the insult and go straight to the recommendation. You are obviously inadequately informed as to the nature of the “golden insects” in the Gold Museum of Bogota. Please bring yourself up to speed on this subject and then we can discuss. Okay?

    I work for a NASA sponsered science discovery center in NH that emphasizes STEM.

    Jolly for you. That doesn’t give you an excuse for not doing your homework. Read up on pre-Columbian art and get back to me.

    How do you know if the next person you put-down for asking a “stupid” question is not a 10 year old kid?

    There are no stupid questions, Greta. As you would know if you were a regular reader of this blog, questions posted to the comment sections get multiple answers, very quickly.

    But your post didn’t ask any questions, did it? It presented a series of unsupported dogmatic statements and concluded with the challenge, “Flame on!” Curious 10-year olds are much more polite.

    greta

  102. Sorry, that last “greta” should have been deleted.

    Adding his pleas to the chorus…

  103. Greg in Austin

    @kuhnigget,

    Wow, even when you are trying to be nice, people think you’re mean. Sheesh.

    greta said,

    “and yes I mean “git”, I assume you know what one is”

    And in the very same comment:

    “Is there no way to open reasonable discourse without the vitriolic personal attacks?”

    Apparently not for you. But are you really more concerned with appearances and name calling than you are about the topic at hand?

    “Or what if one of our Board members who is a former astronaut reads your comments regarding his former profession and colleagues? I am really considering having this link removed; although the images are awe-inspiring and the truly scientific talk is fascinating.”

    If I were a current or former astronaut, I would be embarrassed by Mr. Mitchell, and if your Board member were a reasonable scientist, I’m sure he would be too. As it has been stated many times, just because Mitchell was an astronaut, it doesn’t give him a free pass to make extraordinary claims without any evidence.

    8)

  104. greta

    You are right, the git comment was out of line. My first post is not dogmatic. My whole reason for writing was to call attention to the way some of you treat visitors to this site. Plus, I did give an example of elitism.

    kuhnigget, if you don’t think being called a whacko (in the first response to my post the quote is “you whackos”) is insulting, then I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I am not trying to prove the existence of UFOs, aliens or ghosts, nor am I defending the bible thumpers. I am trying to prove rudeness. I believe the test of my hypothesis has been successful. Not everyone on this blog is rude; but the rudeness that does exist is quite nasty. As for the astronaut topic I was not referring to the comments concerning Ed Mitchell personally nor his beliefs, but there were further comments about all astronauts becoming loopy and (on another thread) jokes about the deaths of some very brave and heroic people. This is simply in bad taste. Either way, this is my last post.

    thanks for listening,
    greta

    PS The “Flame on” comment was tongue-in-cheek and was really out of nostalgia on my part because, as I said, many of the posts here reminded me of the DECnet days. Again, I apologize for being misleading or seeming confrontational.

  105. Rift

    I’ve seen so many ‘UFOs’ i’ve lost count. Most amateur astronomers have. I have ideas what they ‘might’ be, military aircraft, a strange shaped meteor that took and unexpected jag, etc, etc. I once was at a Wal-mart at dusk, heard honking and looked up and saw a flock of canada geese in a nice neat formation, with glowing stomachs from the parking lot lights that had just switched on. If it had been darker, so I couldn’t see the geese shaped silhouettes, all I would have seen is glowing spheres in a formation. Of course there was also that bothersome honking ruining the illusion.

    Most of amateur astronomers have a list of ‘possibilities’ in our minds when we see something we don’t know what it is. Most of us won’t make the illogical leap from “I don’t know what it is.” to “It’s gotta be a alien spaceship.” We need more info. That’s what science and critical thinking is all about. Rest assured that ‘alien spaceship’ is on my the list, just at the very very far bottom. Most of us think there is other intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, we just haven’t seen enough evidence to convince us they have visited us.

    I’m also an amateur bird watcher (and no I’m not counting the bird species I couldn’t identify in with the two dozen or so things I’ve seen in the sky that I didn’t think I had enough information and evidence on to positively identify as alien spaceships.). I will not say I’ve seen a certain species of bird until i am absolutely convinced it is that species. Again, I have a list of bird species it ‘might be’ (with alien spaceship at the bottom), based on color, flight pattern, calls, etc in my mind. But I won’t call a Cerulean Warbler a Cerulean Warbler until I am absolutely convinced by the evidence (again, color, field marks, flight pattern, call, song, habitat, time of year, etc, etc.). I refuse to make the logical leap of seeing any small blue bird flitting about high in the canopy and thinking it is a Cerulean warbler. That’s how science works. That’s how critical thinking works.

    There is no evidence that we have been visited by extraterrestrial intelligences. Yes, to quote a poster from above a slap against the head from ET would be a good start.

    As for the argument from authority, even if I was with a professor of Ornithology from Cornell, I would expect he or she (a heck of a lot faster and more efficiently) to have gone through the same steps before he or she labels a Cerulean Warbler as such. I wouldn’t give any more credence to his evidence then any body else’s, because evidence is, unlike eyewitnesses, unbiased. It’s not the professor of ornithology’s authority I would take into consideration, it’s his evidence, and yes, I’ve been in this situation.

    I ,like Phil, get a HUGE kick about believers insulting us by calling us debunkers. I wear that label with pride. All you got is bunk on your side, we have the huge weight of mountains of evidence for or against your feeble anecdotes, even if they come from a guy in space doing a job that a chimp could (has) done.

  106. @ Greg:

    Wow, even when you are trying to be nice, people think you’re mean. Sheesh.

    I really do need to work on those people skills.

    Wonder what Greta does at that NASA facility in New Hampshire? Odd, how people are always bringing up examples of woo, not because they “believe in them,” but just to…uh…”prove rudeness.”

    Oh well. I’m sure it will never happen again.

  107. Jessica

    Since UFO technically means Unidentified Flying Object, if you see something in the sky and you don’t know what it is, it IS a UFO, by definition. I wish people wouldn’t say “UFO” when they clearly mean “alien spaceship.”

  108. mk

    Greta definitely is having second thoughts regarding the woo. Seems she’s still trying to find herself… good for her.

  109. Leander

    “It’s because no politician wants to look like a fool discussing it.”

    Wow. Discussing it might mean to talk about the real phenomenon of unidentified flying objects. About what, or whether anything at all, should be done about it. About why people get so worked up about it. All that and more could be a discussion of UFOs. A discussion of UFOs is NOT the same as making wild, unsubstantiated claims about them being visitors from outer space in bed with the government. A discussion about them does not mean that the participants believe that unsuspecting citizens are being anal-probed by space elfs.

    But you’re not distinguishing between this kind of behaviour and discussing the topic. And that’s exactly why some scientists and politicians, and people in general, who might feel like discussing the topic in public, won’t – because a popular science author/educator and skeptic lumps everybody talking about UFOs into the corner of foolishness, and gives a good example for behaviour generally exhibited in these circles. Only usually you do a good job of skirting around any phrase that would do anything other than make you look oh so open-minded. Usually, though this time you beautifully demonstrated how biased you really are. And you don’t even seem to notice.

    You’re pretty much proving their point…if someone even mentions the word UFO, they first will have to prove to you that they’re not nuts, because that’s how knee-jerk sensitive to that word you guys are, and someone with a reputation at stake will refrain from doing so. Great job on helping open discourse you’re doing there. Look like a fool discussing it ? Phil Plait is at it again. Yawn.

  110. mk

    @ leander…

    Phil says he wants to see actual evidence. Show him some. Right here. Right now. Show it.

  111. Greg in Austin

    @Leander,

    I think we need to have a SERIOUS DISCUSSION about the real phenomenon of Laundry Gnomes stealing socks from AMERICANS. Almost every day, you hear claims of people having only one of a pair of socks return from the wash. The GOVERNMENT DENIES THEY EXIST, but I think ITS A COVERUP!!!1!! Its been going on FOR DECADES. If 100,000 people say they are missing a sock, it MUST be Gnomes!

    8)

  112. Rift

    @Jessica I go out of my way to use the word UFO all the time and I don’t mean alien spacecraft. I have seen nearly two dozen things when out at night observing over the last 30 years that I couldn’t exactly explain what they were, hence they were UFOs. As I posted earlier I do have a list in my mind of things they could possibly have been, but just not confident because of various reasons (didn’t get a good enough look, possible trick of the eyes, etc etc). Alien Spacecraft is dead last. Well maybe angel is dead last, I haven’t decided. The point is mundane explanations are far more likely. It’s one of my pet peeves that UFO now means “alien spaceship” too.

    @leander I mention the word UFO all the time and nobody thinks i’m nuts cause i use it in the proper way. I don’t use the word Alien Spacecraft all the time. You will look foolish if you do because there is NO evidence for them. NONE, unless you count anecdotes and fuzzy photographs, which is NOT scientific evidence. The airforce did a study for it and found nothing. What more do you want? We ARE keeping an open mind and an open discourse. Show us evidence and we will change our mind. Babble continuously about the same old debunked crap and we’ll call you foolish. I still (even with the witnesses hearing bird calls at the time, sheesh) see stuff about the Lubbock Lights being spouted when that has been thoroughly thrashed . Anybody using that as ‘proof’ is foolish. I’ve seen with my own eyes that bird’s bellys reflect streetlights. Phil Plait does offer a open discourse, show some REAL evidence and we WILL pay attention. Mention foolishness and you are foolish.

    You pretty much prove our point.

  113. Over the past few years some of us have uncovered evidence that US Intelligence Community has been involved at various levels with the UFO community.

    Edgar Mitchell is one of many individuals who have been “persons of interest” for quite a long time, due to their interaction with scientists and others involved in “alternative topics” of interest to foreign nationals.

    CIA released the STAR GATE collection (roughly 89,000 pages) of documents on US government programs investigating “paranormal” topics for intelligence collection, beginning with former CIA Director Richard Helms, in 1963.

    The 1963 memo written by Helms at CIA refers to a previous ten year program in the field of paranormal research. We can assume interest in the field goes back at least to 1953 at the CIA Technical Service Division.

    Recently a former CIA analyst named Ron Pandolfi, of MASINT at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence commissioned a JASON study of a “UFO-related” technology called “High Frequency Gravity Waves” or HFGW. This is an excellent example of how the Intelligence Community were drawn to an alternative topic through their contacts with alternative researchers.

    Additional information is available at my starpod.org web site under the “Spies, Lies, and Polygraph Tape” blog.

  114. Spiff Spacely

    I have to say if I see that Carl Sagan “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” I’m going to go all 2001 apes with bones by the obelisk on the guy that says it. All any claim requires is sufficient evidence. If something has evidence for it, it is not extraordinary. I would submit that from a social sciences perspective, none of the so-called claims are paranormal- they are in fact painfully banal cross culturally. Narratives of giant and miniature people, people who are really animals, people who come from the sky or underground or underwater, people who fly with wings or machines-all these narratives are present in some form or other in nearly every culture. Ghosts? How about the Holy Ghost? Carl Jung and Jacques Vallee both propose that these phenomena are interpretations of some human experience that is interpreted into certain social and cultural frames.
    I enjoy the Ghost Hunters show because it is a goof, like Scooby Doo in real life, but at the same time you can see that there is some hypothesizing going on and some effort to test measurable, repeatable things sometimes. Empirical, reductive approaches, sometimes followed by what seems like kooky bits that overreach the evidence. Paranormal State is just Catholic propaganda with no scientific value-they already know their conclusions before they start.
    UFO shows typically go straight into the unprovable, and it is now so easy to create fake photographs, films and videos that it would be difficult to trust any interpretation of modern materials. Looking from another perspective, however, such as radar sightings, photographs by verifiable sources from trustworthy contexts, I think there is some value in analyzing what evidence there may be simply because there may be some scientific value in looking at it. Peter Sturrock’s book was excellent I thought, for at least looking at material from government survey cameras and other documentable sources. Too often the “skeptic” simply makes a declaration that everyone is stupid and a liar. Because something seems impossible to the great authority it is therefore by pronunciamento nothing of importance or value to investigate without ever examining any potential evidence. How many phenomena like the “sprites” discovered by the Shuttle astronauts would be discarded simply because some authority refuses to examine the evidence at all? Or decides that astronauts are nuts and therefore not qualified to make claims or observations? Game theory was developed by a mentally ill man, and economics is a giant cult of personality (Friedmanomics? Oy!).
    The recent skeptics activity in New Jersey didn’t work on people who examined the evidence (MUFON), but it worked for people who listened to the perps lie about it and it worked for a car dealer and a news station that depend on spectacles for sales and ratings. Otherwise it was just another assault by people with an axe to grind and an attitude of superiority who needed some attention, which is ironic because that is a typical “skeptic” approach to anyone who thinks they may have experienced something weird and is foolish enough to report it. Yet these same “skeptical” people accept string theory and quantum entanglement and so on with really little more than faith and trust in authority. If science is going to beat superstition, it has to do the grunt work and show their work just like 8th grade math, or the pool of future scientists and future Heaven’s Gaters will simply keep blowing off scientific approaches because the so-called scientists and skeptics are arrogant, dismissive dicks.

  115. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    If the witnesses are who they say they are – and are found to be lying – then we should be very concerned

    No, all it means is that they are human (and gullible). Quite like that commentary.

  116. José

    @Spiff Spacely

    I have to say if I see that Carl Sagan “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” I’m going to go all 2001 apes with bones by the obelisk on the guy that says it. All any claim requires is sufficient evidence.

    Any evidence sufficient to prove aliens are visiting us would be extraordinary.

    Too often the “skeptic” simply makes a declaration that everyone is stupid and a liar.

    When do skeptics do this? I see this claim made all the time, but I never actually see it happening.

    How many phenomena like the “sprites” discovered by the Shuttle astronauts would be discarded simply because some authority refuses to examine the evidence at all? Or decides that astronauts are nuts and therefore not qualified to make claims or observations?

    And were they dismissed? No. They were investigated and confirmed because there was evidence. It’s the same process that’s been followed with UFOs, only in the case of UFOs the evidence doesn’t hold up.

    If science is going to beat superstition, it has to do the grunt work and show their work just like 8th grade math, or the pool of future scientists and future Heaven’s Gaters will simply keep blowing off scientific approaches because the so-called scientists and skeptics are arrogant, dismissive dicks.

    Scientists and skeptics are willing to listen. You just don’t like what scientists and skeptics have to say, so you dismiss them as arrogant, dismissive dicks.

  117. Steve Boltzman

    Ed Mitchell is just another “UFO” nut spinning the same old flying-saucer conspiracy yarn that’s been around for more than half a century–even the laughable “crashed saucer and little alien bodies” stupidity. That he’s a former astronaut is totally irrelevant to his delusional “UFO” fantasy.

    There aren’t any REAL “UFOs” and there never were. The idea that the Earth is being visited by ET in flying saucers began as a hoax to promote FATE magazine. Flying-saucer mania evolved into a meta-religious antiscientific popular-culture myth that is now a well understood _Collective Delusion_.

    Former astronaut, nice guy and new-age nutcake, Ed’s completely typical of the antinuclear Contactee subculture of his generation; and none of them had to go to the Moon to be the hapless victims of the 1950s flying-saucer delusion! Ed’s AMAZING STORIES aren’t worth even a moment’s consideration.

    http://magonia.haaan.com/1969/ufos-as-an-anti-scientific-symbol/
    http://www.debunker.com/texts/ObergCuttySark.html

  118. theyRreal

    Having had an experience with the entire family 8-10 people, you really need to rethink your opinion. Until it happens to you I’m sure you, like all the others will call us a bunch of crazies. I don’t care anymore. This is real and it will change your life when you have one fly right over your head (low) not the dot in the clouds or the moving point of light at night. I was afraid to speak up because of garbage spewed by people like you but, it’s OK you just haven’t had your time yet.

  119. Fred Pfost

    Those who say “I will believe it when I can actually see one” should consider this. Let’s say one day you are actually near an extraterrestrial craft or even touch one. The first thing you would do is run to your nearest friend or call the newspaper office and tell the story of this exciting encounter or observation. Of course, the response would be normal, as always. “You are either kidding or crazy.” “That could not have happened because there is no such things as extraterrestrial craft.” “But I saw it and even touched it!” You are still considered crazy!
    What I am saying is that it would be meaningless to see a real object like this. No one would believe you even though you know in your own mind that it was real. What I am saying is that the only way you can accept the fact that these devices exist is to just believe it in your own mind. Then you can become an advocate of the belief and try to convince others. Good luck! I am a believer!

  120. Fred Pfost

    I do not wish to “moderate” my comments.

    Fred Pfost

  121. Greg in Austin

    @theyRreal,

    Or, we can just assume you had a dream, or a hallucination, or saw a blimp, or a balloon, or a plane, or something terrestrial. Because without any evidence whatsoever, there is no way to verify that you actually saw anything. No, anecdotes are not evidence.

    Notice, I never said you were crazy, only that you are mistaken about what you saw.

    Now, if you have any real evidence, then please share it, and prove me wrong.

    8)

  122. barry

    it seems that most people will entertain the possibility based on the mathematical certainty of advanced e.t. life somewhere, but perhaps not close to here(relatively).
    so basically the argument is mostly about whether they’ve been here.
    it’s ignorant to couch it in terms of our own knowlege, since we don’t even know our own beginnings, let alone the potential technological advances of some other life forms.
    what should be discussed in greater detail are things we may actually do know more about-
    like whether our governments/ruling organizations(open or covert) have the capability to actually keep a lid on this type of stuff long term.
    there isn’t much point in asking for hard proof if it is determined that they could keep secrets as large as the manhatten project .
    and it is highly presumptuous to say “if they are here, why can’t they just land at the u.n. and hold a press conference?” > as if we could even comprehend the motivations or policies
    of anyone who might develop the technologies to travel here and do things considered impossible by our understanding.

  123. Damon

    No evidence? Did you miss the thousands of photos, videos, credible eye-witness accounts and literature dating back to, well, millenia? Or are you not going to be satisfied until we magically teleport into the saucers themselves and interview the beings at the controls?

    You’ve been given enough evidence, son. It’s time to pull your heads out of the sand and your eyes away from your silly telescopes and realize that the real mystery is right here, right now.

  124. Greg in Austin

    @Damon,

    Photographs can and have been faked.
    Video can also be faked, but most often the “UFO” is simply an unidentified terrestrial human-made object.
    Eye witness accounts have been proven to be unreliable in hundreds of controlled studies.

    There was a study of college-age students who were asked to watch a video and count cars passing by. None of the students noticed a person in a gorilla suit walking on the sidewalk. NONE. Its called “inattentional blindnes”, when you are so focused on one thing that you cannot see anything else.

    “It’s time to pull your heads out of the sand and your eyes away from your silly telescopes and realize that the real mystery is right here, right now.”

    Now that’s a stupid comment. Are you saying astronomers should put down their telescopes and stop looking at the sky if they hope to see an extraterrestrial?

    What is the “real mystery” exactly?

    8)

  125. Red Collie

    I find it continually suprising that a magarize which is supposedly devoted to new discoveries, cannot seem to look at the modern UFO enigma in an open, objective way? As a professional scientist, I know dozens of other scientists who have seen very anomalous flying craft, or have some kind of evidence concerning them. And the only reason why all of these professionals are not coming forward, is because they would be crucified sociologically for doing so. The Inquisition is not something long ago in Spain or Italy, who persecuted heretical books such as those written by Galileo. No, the Inquisition is here and now, and this magazine seems to be a part of it.

  126. Steve Boltzman

    >> the modern UFO enigma <> the Inquisition is here and now << 50 kook points for appealing to "the Inquisition!" That dodge admits there's no evidence for REAL "UFOs" of any kind. If there was one bit of veracious evidence behind the "UFO" myth and collective delusion, investigation would have discovered it already. After sixty years, the pseudoscience of ufoolery hasn't changed from its origin in a boys' magazine: innumerable fantastic yarns that are unverifiable and completely inconsequential, and an extraordinary reality whose failure to materialize is explained by an impossible worldwide conspiracy of silence. What irrational nonsense!

    What’s a REAL “UFO?” No one can say. If they could, it wouldn’t be a “UFO.”

  127. @ Steve Boltzman:

    I hadn’t heard that Ken Arnold explanation before. What is the source? If verifiable, it will be a fun fact to toss at the UFO nutters who inevitably show up here.

  128. Greg in Austin

    Red Collie said,

    “And the only reason why all of these professionals are not coming forward, is because they would be crucified sociologically for doing so.”

    Baloney. If any of these people you mention (but not name) had even one shred of real, testable, reliable evidence, they wouldn’t have to worry about their reputation. The only reason they have not come forward is because they have no proof that what they saw was alien in origin.

    If the evidence existed, it could stand on its own.

    8)

  129. Red Collie

    Well, some of those scientists have come forward, but most of you seem not yet to have digested this interesting information.

    See for example Roger Leir’s website and the various slideshows he has available there, concerning legitimate and detailed scientific investigation of putative e.t. implants: say http://www.alienscalpel.com/press.html where you can see the careful scientific studies of Dr. Alex Moser, presented recently in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club.

    Carbon nanotubes and magnetic nanocrystals: what are those doing under people’s skin?

    Roger and a Professor at UCSD a few years ago likewise presented scientific evidence at another press conference in Las Vegas, that a fragment of the original Roswell crash (kept by one of the servicemen who was there for many years) had highly anomalous isotope ratios for silicon and germanium, but otherwise resembled part of our modern transistor.

    Thus it could only have come from another solar system where those elements are more far neutron-rich than on Earth (a second-generation star).

    As I said, today is just like the Inquisition and Torquemada. If you write excitedly like this and rant, rather than examining the evidence objectively in a cool, logical fashion, then it is not science.

  130. Greg in Austin

    Ok, I’ll look at this cooly and logically.

    “say www . alienscalpel.com/press.html where you can see the careful scientific studies of Dr. Alex Moser, presented recently in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club.”

    I saw no (zero, nada, zilch) “scientific studies” on that website. Where are the links to the peer-reviewed journals? A press-club briefing is not even the same as a scientific paper. Where are the independent studies of the materials Roger Leir claims are alien in origin?

    This is from Wikipedia:

    “As with UFO subjects in general, the idea of “alien implants” has seen very little attention from mainstream scientists because of a lack of verifiable evidence. American podiatrist Dr. Roger Leir claims to have recovered about a dozen such implants from people’s bodies. He claims that these implants have unusual characteristics, including emitting radio signals, and moving independently under subjects’ skin. Also notable are his claims that the implants do not cause any type of inflammatory reaction from the surrounding tissue, something which is impossible by modern medical standards. They are also apparently made of an unknown metal. These claims have not been independently verified.

    So, to put it simply, until Roger Leir allows his evidence to be verified by real scientists, I see no reason to accept his claims.

    Oh, I would also like to mention that any website with picture of little grey men loses all serious credibility from a scientific standpoint. It may be entertainment, just like his several books are probably also very entertaining, but they would hardly be classified as scientific.

    Got any others?

    8)

  131. Gosh, Greg, you don’t consider photographs of subcutaneous fat and other lumps and bumps “evidence?” I can’t possibly imagine why. Maybe it’s because you haven’t yet bought his video tape, you know, the one with the “surgery” in it. He might want to show that “alien” claw of his to a herpetologist.

    Methinks 2 things:

    1) good science is usually revealed in journals, not Las Vegas press conferences. (Oh, I know, I know…it’s because of all those nasty conspiracies keeping him from publishing!) 2) Roger Leir (dyslexia and a relaxed attitude toward spelling could come in handy right now) must have watched the Amazing Randi’s “psychic surgery” video. Trouble is, he used it as a tutorial on how to fool people, not how to avoid being fooled.

  132. Red Collie

    Not much common ground for discussion here perhaps?

    1. Good science is indeed usually revealed in peer-reviewed journals, once its underlying “paradigm” becomes accepted (see the work of Thomas Kuhn). But when some new paradigm is not yet accepted, then new results are almost never revealed in academic journals.

    As prior examples, please see for example meteorites, dinosaurs, continental drift, or DNA itself (discovered in 1870, but not recognized as the gene until 1960, because the underlying academic paradigm was that all genes had to be made of protein). Gregor Mendel likewise published in 1860, but his work on inheritance did not fit into a currently accepted academic paradigm, so it was not re-discovered until 1910 when the paradigm changed.

    In this case, “alien implants” certainly have not been accepted yet as a new academic paradigm, which members of Harvard or Peterhouse discuss while they are having morning coffee, or afternoon tea and scones, and that is why Roger (and others) have to report their high-quality research work outside of standard academic journals, say to the National Press Club in Washington DC.

    2. No one is trying to “fool” anyone. Roger attended a UFO meeting, and someone was showing x-rays from a whole family who had a terrifying e.t. sighting in Texas. They were all highly traumatized afterwards, with nearly complete loss of memory for 12 hours: what really happened there?

    Several members of that family now had anomalous metallic objects under their skin, which were not subject to the usual bodily rejection mechanism for foreign bodies. Hence it was of some scientific concern to ask: what are those objects? If you have any other plausible, informed explanation that will fit the experimental field observations and laboratory data, then I am sure that the investigators will be glad to hear it.

    3. Finally, some of you emphasize that “truth comes from academic journals”, but then you cite Wikipedia as a primary and reliable source.

    The editorial or authorship biases on Wikipedia are well known, and it certainly cannot be used as a reliable source of information in all (or most) cases. Each article there depends on how knowledgeable and objective the author hpapens to be individually. Nor in many cases is accurate corrective editing allowed.

    “True knowledge is much easier pretended to than acquired” (John Locke, 1690).

  133. Steve Boltzman

    >> I hadn’t heard that Ken Arnold explanation before. What is the source?<<

    It would be difficult to prove but a very good circumstantial case can be made. See the relevant sections of Carl Sagan's DHW, psychologist Robert Bartholomew's UFOs on the parallel between the airship and flying-saucer manias–both the products of media hoaxes, and other rational, psychosocial accounts of the origin of the "UFO" collective delusion.

    Writer John Keel's article "The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers" makes the case, crediting Ray Palmer with the creation of flying-saucer mania, bootstrapping on the Shaver Mystery sensation he had created in AMAZING Stories magazine. In lively AMAZING/Shaver Mystery fan discussion forums, editor Palmer promoted the paranoid "hidden world" mythology created in the stories of writer Richard Shaver as really existing inside the Earth. Soon after the 1945 publication of "I Remember Lemuria" (and the detonations of atomic bombs) the once nearly defunct ZD pulp suddenly had 500K readers. Ray Palmer would credit Shaver with inventing the idea of flying saucers, but it was Palmer who was obviously the master of this sort of yellow journalism that brought Shaver's insane idea to the world–just as fanciful newspaper hoaxes had been responsible for various airship manias.

    The smoking gun here is the second of the Palmer hoaxes, the so-called Maury Island Mystery. Palmer sent Ken Arnold–now in Palmer's employ if he wasn't already–to investigate Fred Crisman's amazing story of a malfunctioning flying disk spewing radioactive slag and aircraft aluminum, followed by warnings from mysterious non-human men in black to keep silent about what he had seen. But Crisman was a Shaver Mystery fan who had corresponded with Palmer and at least one of his letters–claiming experience in the "hidden world"–had been published in AMAZING. Crisman wasn't keeping quiet of course, he was doing exactly the opposite: feeding flying-saucer hysteria in anticipation of FATE's January 1948 premier issue.

    Alexander Mebane of New York's Civilian Saucer Intelligence, an early no-nonsense, fact-oriented "UFO" report investigation group, has said Arnold's story was a Palmer-engineered FATE promotion hoax; cyberpunk science-fiction writer John Shirley arrived at the same conclusion independently–as did this "UFO" debunker. I had heard Klass's meteors explanation, Kottmeyer's swans and Easton's reinterpretation of it as pelicans. All well intended certainly but all too literal when there is a much better explanation that considers all of the evidence and in its proper historical context.

    Thanks for asking! And enjoy reading; I especially recommend Bartholomew's book and the (John Rimmer) Magonia archives online.

    The psychosocial hypothesis (PSH) of "UFO" reports is a tripartite destroyer of the "UFO" collective delusion: Sheaffer/Oberg's Null hypothesis of reports; the history of the myth and delusion as an easily understandable cultural phenomenon and very obvious product of the human imagination (and a conceptual absurdity); and the biological and astronomical implausibility of the ETH.

    The flying-saucer myth and "UFO" collective delusion is so easily and completely debunkable because it is composed of utter bunk!

  134. Steve Boltzman

    Another 50 kook points for the use of the word “paradigm.” [Kuhn groans in his sleep]

    >> Not much common ground for discussion here perhaps?<<

    Anyone who believes that any of this "UFO" nonsense could be true–especially the bizarre and disturbed "alien abduction" and "implant" insanity–doesn't have one bit of ground for a veracious argument to begin with. Don't pretend this stupid "UFO" nonsense is even plausible.

    Ignoring the obvious facts of the world and appealing to the unknown, to impossible conspiracies, Galileo and the Inquisition, the history and philosophy of science, and every other fallacious, worthless argumentative device in the Woo-Woo Credo doesn't help anyone wishing to make a rational argument for the extraordinary. But then, there is no rational argument that can be made to justify what is obvious nonsense or a belief in it.

    Veracious evidence, the facts and the blade of reason are all that counts.

    We've all heard this immature antiscientific contrarian routine from thousands of Internet loons. The schtick: their pet pseudoscience or conspiracy; a paranoid historical whorl of really crummy "evidence" of imaginary import; and then the inevitable attack on scientists, the imaginary "scientific establishment," and skeptical organisations and their members when all of the loon's hysterical appeals are rightly ridiculed, dismissed and ignored.

    "Talk of paradigms, comparisons to Galileo, etc may suggest a general dislike of the scientific method and of what the crackpot considers the scientific establishment. When the crackpot disputes some well-known scientific result, he mainly desires not just to disprove that result, but to take scientists in general down a peg. He argues many nonscientific positions not because he strongly believes particular ones, but rather because he holds an anti-science meta-position; to him, his argument is about scientists' ability to determine truth, not about specific truths."

    http://quasar.as.utexas.edu/BillInfo/Quack.html

  135. rj

    where did all these douglas adams wannabees come from?

  136. i.wichert

    thanks phil .

    i was wondering about mitchell.

    i am not mad at him . maybe he needs a little money. i think he hasnt been a millionare like neil

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