It's a UFO, by Jove

By Phil Plait | October 3, 2010 7:07 am

Whenever I mention UFOs on the blog, I get a fair number of rabid comments calling me names, attacking me on small details while ignoring the big picture, and so on. Most of these come because of a simple statement I need to repeat often: astronomers report very few if any UFOs because for the most part, we understand what we’re seeing in the sky.

When we see a satellites, a glint off a distant airplane, birds, astronomical objects, lightning, or meteors, we can generally identify them and don’t need to call the police or the newspapers. The vast majority of people out there, however, are not familiar with the sky, and so when they see these things they can (understandably) freak out a little. That includes sightings of Venus and the Moon.

ufo_jupiterAnd now the king of the planets can join that list: via Fark comes the news that residents of Washington state have been calling the police to report a UFO low in the east after sunset. And that UFO has turned out to be none other than the planet Jupiter.

I’m not surprised. Jupiter is very bright and obvious in the sky right now. Since it’s getting dark earlier, people are outside when they’re not quite used to it being dark yet. And since Jupiter is rising at sunset, it’s low in the sky; people driving will see it through the window and think it’s following them. And it’s very, very common for people to think a bright object is actually a big object.

It’s a perfect confluence of events to promote UFO sightings. I should’ve seen it coming!

But there’s some good to come of this. For one, it means people are in fact going outside and looking up. That alone makes me happy. Also, these folks find out they’re looking at Jupiter, when maybe they didn’t even know they could see a planet at all (though I bet a few won’t believe the cops or papers). And the best part? The article about the Jupiter UFO reports gives some basic info about Jupiter, too. That’s great! Kudos to the Peninsula Daily News for taking this chance to get a little astronomical coolness out there to its readers.


Related posts:

Erie UFO sounds familiar
That’s no moon… oh, wait, yes it is
Aliens? Yes. UFOs? No.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Astronomy

Comments (222)

Links to this Post

  1. UFOs « Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence | November 16, 2010
  1. Rick

    Believe that should be “low in the east”, unless the monoliths are active this year…

  2. Nigel Depledge

    The BA said:

    astronomers report very few if any UFOs because for the most part, we understand what we’re seeing in the sky.

    When we see a satellites, a glint off a distant airplane, birds, astronomical objects, lightning, or meteors, we can generally identify them and don’t need to call the police or the newspapers.

    I think just as importantly: if an amateur astronomer sees an object he/she can’t identify, he/she will either go to the trouble of finding out what it was, or will simply assume it is almost certainly something mundane without feeling any need to make a song and dance about it. Unless, that is, it has features that mean it really can’t be any of the known objects that can be seen as lights in the night sky.

  3. Nigel Depledge

    @ Rick (1) –

    Yup, those pesky monoliths are at it again!

  4. Rules For

    Or it’s Venus, if it really was in the west.

  5. zeke

    Learned something new from that article:

    ….determined that it was Jupiter, the largest plant in the solar system.

    We need the copy editors back.

    zeke

  6. Lol, I never want to know the kind of boredom and human isolation it would take for me to go yell at “the guy writing the astronomy blog,” . . . that is one scarily detached individual =)

    ~Rhaco

  7. Michel

    Finally a good clear night yesterday and when I came home at 22.00 it was in front of our house. So I hauled the telescope out (on the street, I didn´t feel like waiting till 01.00 when it is on the other side) and enjoyed beautiful views. In no time I was surrounded by neighbours. So it turned in a spontanious eat, drink and look party.
    And lot´s of aaahhhs and ooohhhs.

  8. Matt

    THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU!

    This post came just in time to renew my sanity. I fell into a discussion with my boss and a co-worker last week regarding UFOs. There are two individuals I have know and worked with for over 2 years, and suddenly it comes out that they both believe that aliens are flying around trailer parks spying on us. They were also shocked and quite condescending regarding my lack of belief.

    This re balances the equation. Thank-you.

  9. Jeremy

    “And it’s very, very common for people to think a bright object is actually a big object.”

    To be fair, Jupiter is actually a big object.

  10. Theramansi

    I seen an UFO once for about 10 minutes. Then it became an IFO…

    a black plastic shopping bag that had become a miniature hot air balloon in the afternoon Kansan sun.

  11. Heh. Not sure why I typed west instead of east.

  12. Of course, it could be that astronomers ARE seeing UFO’s, it’s just that they know if they actually reported one, their fellow astronomers would ridicule and abuse them and turn a cold shoulder to them. UFO’s are a self-marginalizing phenomenon, thanks to the vigorous, and well-documented efforts of the USAF and the CIA. And hey, weren’t J. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee both astronomers before they became UFO researchers? I think, Mr. Plait, that your hypothesis is very open to cause/effect confusion. Try asking some of you astronomer friends after assuring them anonymity. You might get a very different data set!

  13. Rory Kent

    @Rick

    Well, it is 2010, and we are talking about Jupiter.

  14. I hate it when a planet 317 times the mass of Earth sneaks up on me like that.

  15. Lupine

    You have to wonder though about someone who sees a bright point of light in the sky, and instead of assuming things like “star”, “planet”, ect they automatically assume it must be aliens.
    Who are just sitting there doing nothing.

  16. Jeffrey Cornish

    You’d figure they’d really be upset by the ISS passing overhead.

    I happened to have enjoyed the rare clear evening and looked at both Jupiter and Uranus last night. All four Galilean moons were lovely and I think I saw the GRS for the first time also.

    I wish we had some more clear nights out here.

  17. kevbo

    Ah yes. And here in Canada (eh™), we get this: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/09/30/mystery-ufo-sighting-montreal.html.

    Journalism at its finest, as they focus on the expert testimony of “a respected Montreal doctor” (obstetrician-gynecologist), who “spotted the object when he was driving home from work”. That’s my government-funded news agency at work!

  18. John Paradox

    I remember seeing a ‘UFO effect’ once, while driving home.
    Looking west at the mountains (live in Tucson, have mountains in all directions) after the Sun had gone below the horizon, I noticed a ‘glint’ in the sky. After a short time, it vanished(!). I easily identified it as a plane, which had moved from being in the direct line of sunlight to being in the ‘shadow’ from the mountains, a simple geometry/trig problem instead of little green men coming to eat our livers (with fava beans and a fine chianti?)

    J/P=?

  19. Eric

    It is true: 95% of UFO sightings are easily explained by trained observers. However, the other 5% go unexplained. It is hard to argue against experts like Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who has walked on the moon longer than any human being ever and has appeared on national TV programs to tell us that yes, some UFOs are in fact extra-terrestrial spacecraft. Naturally, the writer of an article that aims to explain away the UFO phenomenon wouldn’t expect the average reader to know this as most are uninformed on this issue.

  20. MF

    It is soooo easy to pick a case like this, and then dismiss the whole UFO phenomena as misidentifications of known objects by untrained observers. First of all astronomers HAVE reported UFOs; that is objects that appeared to be under intelligent control but could not be identified as man-made. So have military and civilian pilots, police, and military working at airforce airbases. Many of these cases were not just visual, but included simultaneous radar confirmation. Read the new book by Keane, or an earlier book by Sturrock if you are at all serious about this topic. If you won’t bother to examine the best evidence, fine, but then don’t pretend that your approach is at all scientific.

  21. Lily

    Okay..Bravo! (NOT) to come out and write articles about people confusing planets for UFO’s. Wake up and smell the coffee or please grow some hair in your chest…

    When we have recent testimonies of retired Air Force officers coming out in the open and sharing their important experiences with UFOs is important to comment on this. Not useless “stuff” like people confusing Jupiter for UFOs…Please!!!

  22. sylva333

    Someone deciding that they saw “objects that appeared to be under intelligent control but could not be identified as man-made” does not mean that they were, nor does this constitute “evidence” or “fact”. Also, just because they also saw it on radar and didn’t know what it was in no way directly points to extra terrestrial intelligent beings.

    This is the same argument that people use time and time again for something that they “believe” in, “there is no other explanation”. Just because they couldn’t figure it out does not mean that by default it was ALIENS!! There are so many other reasonable explanations for these phenomena that just seem to get ignored by people who “believe”.

    I think from now on, if I see something that I don’t know what it is I am going to assume it was The Flying Spaghetti Monster coming for a visit. There’s just as much evidence of it being His Noodley Appendage as it is for being extra terrestrial beings from another planet.

  23. Shalom Einstoss

    TRANSIENT LUNAR PHENOMENA. Hundreds, thousands of unidentified phenomena were reported by astronomers all over the world, not in the last two or four decade, but for centuries. YOU ARE WRONG ! Not just it, but again, trying to mistify the matter and mock about ufology.

  24. My 3 year old niece has been running around her mother’s house this past week saying “I love Jupiter! It’s my favorite planet*! I love outer space!”

    She also was flicking through the photos on my iPad and noticed a picture of the Earth from a distance (From the distance, it seems likely it’s an Apollo era picture) and she said “That’s Earth. We live on Earth.” I’d love to know which one of her shows talked about Jupiter and Earth.

    When I was leaving my sister’s house yesterday, I saw Jupiter in the sky over my car and I wanted to go back in and ask to bring my niece outside to show her Jupiter for real, but she was already asleep.

    *She asked me what my favorite planet is and I said “Mars… but don’t touch the water. Not. One. Drop.” And she looked at me with a very worried look and said “Not one?” I think she’s not ready for Doctor Who.

  25. @Eric:

    “It is hard to argue against experts like Astronaut Edgar Mitchell…”

    No, it really isn’t. I can argue against such people by asking a very simple question: “What substantive, non-anecdotal evidence can you provide to back up your claims?” I love it how alien spacecraft proponents get so worked up about people like Mitchell, but then can’t provide anything beyond anecdotes. :)

  26. sylva333

    @Chrissyo

    I wish there was a like button next to your comment.

  27. Derek

    @ MF:

    “It is soooo easy to pick a case like this, and then dismiss the whole UFO phenomena as misidentifications of known objects by untrained observers.”

    I know, right?

    The the thing is – it’s always this easy. Which is a really sad point for the proponents of so-called “ufology.”

    In regards to the rest of your post: yes, if you see something in the sky and you don’t know what it is, that makes it a UFO (as in: it is an Unidentified object). Yes, it can appear on radar too(!), confirming that there really is something in the sky that you personally don’t recognize. But nothing about that information can lead one to logically conclude the presence of extraterrestrials.

  28. Pete

    What I can’t understand is why people think the light is following them? Have they never seen the moon “following” them, and realized that a very distant light just appears to follow you? I mean, I recall seeing this as a child.

    Every scarier are the folks standing still that think a stationary light is moving drastically around. How difficult is it to compare it’s position against a known nearby stationary object like a powerpole, rooftop, etc?

    sheesh.

  29. amphiox

    No UFO can be legitimately claimed to be an extraterrestrial craft. To do that you have to demonstrate, not just presuppose, that it is non-natural and non-human in origin and under intelligent control. If you do that, the object can be identified as alien. And it becomes an IFO, not a UFO.

    Repeat. That supposed 5% of UFOs that are still UFOs are still unidentified. If you want to claim them as alien whatevers, the onus is on you to identify them as such. So long as they remain UFOs, they are not alien spacecraft.

  30. @Malcolm J. Brenner:

    No, astronomers who say “hey, I saw something weird in the sky and I can’t work out what it was” are not ridiculed. People who say “hey, I saw something weird in the sky and I can’t work out what it was so it must have been an alien spacecraft/[insert other extrodinary claim here]!” ARE ridiculed. Do you see the difference between the two scenarios?

    Check the astronomical literature, for example, and see the response when astronomers discover some new weird object or phenomena. Heck, even the big cases where little green men WERE considered (like the discover of Pulsars) didn’t result in mass ridicule and career ruin.

    It’s funny how your ‘self-censorship out of fear of ridicule because of CIA/USAF involvement’ example can also be explained by a simpler and less paranoid case of ‘astronomers just generally aren’t drama queens’.

  31. Thea

    Speaking of UFOs, in Uncle John’s Endlessly Engrossing Bathroom Reader there’s a funny story about American airmen in England who thought they saw UFOs. The “UFOs” were all easily explained away, of course.
    England’s Roswell, pg 373 and England’s Roswell, Part II, page 499

  32. Alan

    @Derek:

    People who don’t “believe” in UFOs have yet to actually look into it, or have yet to see one themselves, or in the case of Derek are just playing dumb to feel “right”. You can start with Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s personal testimony about what he saw, but that’s just skimming the surface. Planet Venus, flares, swamp gas, blah blah, it’s so boring to watch this technique in action and you just love to take a story like this and run with it while ignoring the mountain of real evidence. Next he’ll say “What evidence?”, which is exactly my point. Go to YouTube, search “UFO CNN” and “UFO Gordon Cooper” to get some insight into this very real phenomenon.

  33. Silly skeptics. Knowledgeable tinfoil-hat wearers like myself knows that Jupiter is a gigantic alien spacecraft which is so massive that its gravitational pull keeps the fumes coming from its exhaust pipe from dispersing into space. The Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission know this but want this utter truth hidden from the public. Of course, I have absolute 100% proof of my claim, proof that would stun the world, but I will never show it, as my life would be in danger from the aforementioned shadowy world-control organizations. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must resume my Youtube research that will prove that Amelia Earhart is alive and well at Area 51.

  34. flash

    That’s no moon…

  35. John Baxter

    Phil, you typed “west” instead of “east” because the aliens were controlling you at that moment.

  36. In Eastern Washington here. Don’t know what it’s like over on the west side (what with the Cascades between the two, they have very different weather patterns) but we’ve recently had some very clear nights and gorgeous skies. Jupiter has really stood out. Sad that people don’t know their sky, but awesome when the sky is that ready to be seen.

  37. Chris

    I did see a UFO once. It was on the 4th of July when I was watching all the neighbors shoot off their illegal fireworks. I saw this light hovering in the east and knew it wasn’t a plane or any star or planet. Got out my binoculars and it turned out to be the Goodyear blimp! I was a little disappointed it wasn’t the aliens from Independence Day!

  38. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (12) said:

    Of course, it could be that astronomers ARE seeing UFO’s, it’s just that they know if they actually reported one, their fellow astronomers would ridicule and abuse them and turn a cold shoulder to them.

    Astronomers do see UFOs. It’s just that, being familiar with the night sky and their own limitations (for the most part, at least), they either (1) go to the trouble of finding out what they really saw (plane, satellite, noctilucent cloud, birds illuminated by streetlighting [seriously, they look freaky at night when they’re too high to see any detail!] or whatever), in the which case it ceases to be a UFO (having become an IFO); or (2) they shrug and go, well, probably a plane or a satellite but I can’t be bothered to find out what it was.

    What they don’t do, in general, is leap to unjustifiable conclusions about an unfamiliar light in the night sky.

    UFO’s are a self-marginalizing phenomenon, thanks to . . .

    [an utter lack of any evidence to suggest they are anything other than mundane phenomena.]

    There. Fixed it for you.

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Lupine (15) said:

    You have to wonder though about someone who sees a bright point of light in the sky, and instead of assuming things like “star”, “planet”, ect they automatically assume it must be aliens.
    Who are just sitting there doing nothing.

    You have to remember that Venus and Jjupiter are most often reported as UFOs by people who are on the move. Therefore, thanks to the miracle that is parallax, the light in the sky really is following them!

  40. Mike Saunders

    I’m actually a practitioner of ifology

  41. HvP

    Also of note is that this is a problem that goes back many millennia.

    Jupiter, Venus, Saturn etc. were “identified” as gods observing and directing the lives of the people of Greece and Rome 2000 years ago.

    The only thing that has changed is the personal myth assigned to these powerful and intelligent otherworldly visitors.

  42. Jerry Randall

    “Next he’ll say “What evidence?”, which is exactly my point. Go to YouTube, search “UFO CNN” and “UFO Gordon Cooper” to get some insight into this very real phenomenon.”

    More anecdotes are not evidence.

  43. Nigel Depledge

    Eric (19), perpetuating a common misconception, said:

    It is true: 95% of UFO sightings are easily explained by trained observers. However, the other 5% go unexplained.

    Yes. So?

    Just for the moment I will accept this hauntingly-familiar but ever-sourceless statistic.

    Just because there isn’t enough information to positively ID a reported sighting doesn’t mean it is anything other than a mundane phenomenon.

    Even if it is something entirely unknown, it is far more likely to be a hitherto-unknown atmospheric phenomenon than an alien spaceship. Or time-travellers. Go and look up “Sprites” on wikipedia.

    It is hard to argue against experts like Astronaut Edgar Mitchell,

    Why? If he makes an insane claim, it’s just as insane as the same claim coming from someone else.

    Ah, I get it. Argument from authority. Sadly, altghough Ed Mitchell was an expert in his field, he’s not an expert at looking at the night sky. His degrees are in business management (BS), aeronautical engineering (BS) and aeronautics and astronautics (ScD).

    What does this engineeering (highly technical stuff, it’s true) have to do with observing objects in the night sky?

    who has walked on the moon longer than any human being ever

    Ed Mitchell was LMP on Apollo 14, which was his only Apollo flight.

    Apollo 14 mission stats:
    Time on surface : 1 day, 9 hours, 30 minutes
    Moonwalks (2): 4 hours 47 minutes and 4 hours 34 minutes. Aggregate duration of EVAs : 9 hours 21 minutes.
    As LMP, Mitchell would have spent less time outside the LM than his commander, Al Sheppard.

    Let’s see…
    Apollo 15 : 4 EVAs (including the “standup EVA” out of the top hatch of the LM) with an aggregate duration of 19 hours 6 minutes.

    Apollo 16 : 3 EVAs with an aggregate duration of 20 hours 14 minutes.

    Apollo 17 : 3 EVAs with an aggregate duration of 22 hours 2 minutes.

    So, in fact there are 7 men who all spent more time walking on the moon than Ed Mitchell.

    Source: A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin.

    Honestly, that took me minutes to check. Why did you not bother?

    and has appeared on national TV programs to tell us that yes, some UFOs are in fact extra-terrestrial spacecraft. Naturally, the writer of an article that aims to explain away the UFO phenomenon wouldn’t expect the average reader to know this as most are uninformed on this issue.

    And, to be frank, just like you are now, Ed Mitchell – if he ever claimed what you say he claimed – was talking out of his ass.

    There is no justification for leaping to the conclusion that UFOs are anything other than known phenomena observed by people who simply do not know what they are seeing. In many cases, what they report is different from what they actually saw, because their brain tries to impose familiar patterns on unfamiliar things.

  44. Nigel Depledge

    MF (20) said:

    It is soooo easy to pick a case like this, and then dismiss the whole UFO phenomena

    FYI the simgular of “phenomena” is “phenomenon”.

    as misidentifications of known objects by untrained observers.

    Not quite. Not necessarily mis-idenitifcation. Just an observation that includes too little information to make an identification. Just because the observer leaps to an unjustified conclusion half the time does not make their fantiasies true.

    First of all astronomers HAVE reported UFOs; that is objects that appeared to be under intelligent control but could not be identified as man-made.

    Your definition of UFO belies the words in its abbreviation. A UFO is simply something in the sky that the observer cannot identify.

    While I agree that astronomers have seen – and often see – UFOs, this is no justification for leaping to any conclusions about them. As has been explained before, it’s no big deal to see something that one cannot identify in the night sky. In most cases, a little bit of work will result in a positive ID.

    Your qualification that some UFOs “appear to be under intelligent control” involves a value judgement on the part of the observer. However, in pretty nearly every case, there is insufficient information on which to base such a judgement. Chinese lanterns can appear to be under “intelligent control” simply due to turbulence. Night-flying birds (that are often reported as UFOs when they are lit from below by streetlighting) can be said to possess a limited form of intelligence, so these are kind of “under intelligent control”, but they certainly ain’t alien spaceships.

    Your last qualification of the definition “but cannot be identified as man-made” means nothing, except that the objects cannot be identified. Since the U of UFO stands for “unidentified”, that’s pretty much a given.

    However – again – all this means is that there is insufficient information on which to base any firm conclusion. What it emphatically doesn’t mean is that we can justify our wildest fantasies about alien spaceships visitng Earth.

  45. Nigel Depledge

    Shalom Einstoss (23) said:

    TRANSIENT LUNAR PHENOMENA. Hundreds, thousands of unidentified phenomena were reported by astronomers all over the world, not in the last two or four decade, but for centuries. YOU ARE WRONG ! Not just it, but again, trying to mistify the matter and mock about ufology.

    Assuming you are right about TLP (and I’m only accepting your claim for the sake of argument because it doesn’t matter)…

    Reports of things that are unidentified is simply evidence that we don’t have enough evidence to identify them. It is not evidence of anything else at all.

    “UFOlogists” get ridiculed because they make ridiculous claims. There is no evidence that UFO reports are anything other than mundane phenomena. Until there is firm evidence that suggests something different, that is the only conclusion we can draw.

    Anything else is useless speculation.

  46. Nigel Depledge

    Pete (28) said:

    Every scarier are the folks standing still that think a stationary light is moving drastically around. How difficult is it to compare it’s position against a known nearby stationary object like a powerpole, rooftop, etc?

    Actually, it can be surprisingly difficult to work out if something is moving or not. I recall a recent evening when it was pretty windy and the clouds were moving quite fast across the sky. I spotted three lights quite high up (near the zenith) that I couldn’t work out whether they were moving or not. I suspected not, but it was only after I moved under the eaves of a nearby roof that I could work it out. As it turned out, they were not moving – it was the rapidly-moving clouds that had imparted the illusion of movement on what were probably bright stars.

    If there isn’t a handy roof or telegraph pole or whatever, how many non-astronomers would think to compare the “moving” lights against something that they know to be fixed?

  47. Nigel Depledge

    Amphiox (29) said:

    No UFO can be legitimately claimed to be an extraterrestrial craft. To do that you have to demonstrate, not just presuppose, that it is non-natural and non-human in origin and under intelligent control. If you do that, the object can be identified as alien. And it becomes an IFO, not a UFO.

    Repeat. That supposed 5% of UFOs that are still UFOs are still unidentified. If you want to claim them as alien whatevers, the onus is on you to identify them as such. So long as they remain UFOs, they are not alien spacecraft.

    Hear, hear!

  48. Nigel Depledge

    Chrissyo (30) said:

    It’s funny how your ’self-censorship out of fear of ridicule because of CIA/USAF involvement’ example can also be explained by a simpler and less paranoid case of ‘astronomers just generally aren’t drama queens’.

    LOL! :D

  49. Nigel Depledge

    Alan (32) said:

    @Derek:

    People who don’t “believe” in UFOs have yet to actually look into it, or have yet to see one themselves, or in the case of Derek are just playing dumb to feel “right”. You can start with Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s personal testimony about what he saw, but that’s just skimming the surface. Planet Venus, flares, swamp gas, blah blah, it’s so boring to watch this technique in action and you just love to take a story like this and run with it while ignoring the mountain of real evidence. Next he’ll say “What evidence?”, which is exactly my point. Go to YouTube, search “UFO CNN” and “UFO Gordon Cooper” to get some insight into this very real phenomenon.

    You really don’t get inductive reasoning, do you?

    Yes, UFOs are a real phenomenon – people see things in the night sky that they can’t identify.

    So what?

    Derek was right – it really doesn’t prove anything.

    Just because someone whom you consider to be an “authority” or an “expert witness” – whatever those terms may mean – saw something that they couldn’t identify doesn’t mean anything, except for the fact that that person saw something they couldn’t identify. There is simply no information on which to base any further conclusions.

    Just because a particular sighting can’t be easily explained as Venus, Jupiter, birds, planes, satellites, the ISS, the Shuttle, chinese lanterns, noctilucent clouds, aurora or Sprites doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of these known phenomena. All it would mean is that we don’t know.

    Why is that so hard to grasp?

    Is not knowing, to the extent that UFO nuts insist that we take their fantasies seriously, really so bad?

  50. Wayne Robinson

    “It is true: 95% of UFO sightings are easily explained by trained observers. However, the other 5% go unexplained. It is hard to argue against experts like Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who has walked on the moon longer than any human being ever and has appeared on national TV programs to tell us that yes, some UFOs are in fact extra-terrestrial spacecraft”.

    Actually, it’s easy to argue against ‘experts’ such as Edgar Mitchell. He featured in Dan Brown’s rubbishy novel “The Lost Symbol” as the founder of the pseudoscience ‘noetic science’. He believes in paranormal phenomena such as ESP and distant healing. When he was on the Moon he tried experiments to communicate with friends on Earth through thought.

    I know that I am committing the logical fallacy of ‘poisoning the well’, but someone who has crackpot ideas in such a fundamental matter has to be regarded with suspicion with regard to other areas.

  51. Vincent Kenny

    I was impressed how quickly the “ufers” swooped down on this post, AGAIN, to reiterate the same old points. I was also equally impressed, not to mention gratified, to see the BA commentors lay some smackdown. It’s almost become a reflex for the skeptical community to kick in to gear nowadays.

    I remember when any jackass could fire off the 3 foot stack of, ahem, “evidence” without being responded to.

    Nice going, skeptical chums!

  52. JRG

    No, it’s all true. I have conclusive photographic evidence right here! I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

    http://vektor.vek.cjb.net/images/random/insectoverlords.png

    :D

    I don’t mean to jump to conclusions here, but I’m pretty certain we’re being invaded.

  53. Do the people citing Ed Mitchell also believe all the other crazy stuff Ed Mitchell believes? He’s got a reputation as a bit of a nut, and not for the UFO stuff.

    In any case, just because someone worked in a field kinda-related to astronomy (and not directly – spaceflight is engineering) does not make them an expert in the night sky.

    I’ve been reading this blog long enough to see quite a few statements or questions from Phil that, to even an amateur astronomer, should be obvious. But you have to remember that professional astronomers spend most of their time working with data, on computers. They don’t spend much time with telescopes, or even looking at the sky. They are experts, but in their area, not everything related to astronomy.

  54. TRANSIENT LUNAR PHENOMENA. Hundreds, thousands of unidentified phenomena were reported by astronomers all over the world, not in the last two or four decade, but for centuries. YOU ARE WRONG ! Not just it, but again, trying to mistify the matter and mock about ufology.

    Mr. Einschloss pretty much sums up the ufo nut’s credo:

    If anything isn’t immediately identified…IT’S A SPACE ALIEN!
    If a scientist immediately or eventually identifies what was once unknown…THEY ARE AFRAID OF RIDICULE!
    If “experts” such as Ed Mitchell aren’t taken seriously…THERE IS A CONSPIRACY AGAINST THEM!

    It was boring in the last thread, and it’s going to be boring in this one, too.

  55. Lascas

    We come in peace.

  56. James

    Yeah, well that’s because the mainstream media is ramming that your a kook if you see one or believe in them… Brainwashed by the media. If you say something over and over again, people start to take on that point of view.
    I was no different. Until June of 2001 that is. I lived on the beach in South Florida (Ft Lauderdale to be exact) and used to go out and stick my feet in the sand, look at the stars and listen to the waves. The closer you went to the water, the blacker it got and you could see more stars, so I was looking up at the stars with my hands behind my head when I noticed that the sky looked weird, almost like the heat coming off the road on a hot summer day… the more I looked, the stranger it looked, that’s when my jaw dropped open and I almost threw up… it wasn’t the sky I was looking out at all it was a HUGE triangular craft that had a projection or hologram of the sky on it….I could make out the edges of 2 of the sides, but it was so big and so low that I could not see the other end… it was silent, it displaced NO air, and was moving fairly slow. I did feel something though, a hum? a low frequency pitch maybe? It wasn’t until it completely passed over me that I took in the edges and massive size of the thing (at least a mile long) when it moved away I could see it better, but if I wasn’t aware of it I would have never noticed it again, it was that camouflaged. It then sped off South at a speed that left me with my mouth open.. that’s when I knew, and that’s when I stopped making fun of others, and that’s when I started to take all of this very seriously.

  57. Follow below the steps to spot AFOs (Aliens Flying Object) in the night sky.
    1. To see better UFOs at night, you need to select a dark place, with no street lights.
    2. Look for a few minutes at the dark sky until your eyes adapt to the darkness. In this case, the sensitivity of the eyes will be significantly increased and you can better see the pale signal lights of the UFOs or the ionized clouds.
    3. Observe the sky very carefully to find hardly noticed dim stars which create circle 1 – 3 yards in diameter or hardly noticed whitish-grey clouds produced by AFO. (There are plenty of them in the sky, just take a time), but for the beginner the best place to find them is around any star, that surrounded by whitish grey cloud. If you look at this star you will see it twinkles. It is light distortion caused by the AFO which very slow moves under the star and the light from observer bent the body of the AFO and go to the star. That is how the observer see the blinking star through the body of AFO and the latter becomes invisible.
    4. Once you noticed one of them, concentrate your eyes on it and when it will start to move away from the star (normally in your direction) follow it’s movement. It’s speed will be accelerated from 0 to 20-40 mps and more and in couple seconds the AFO will stop somewhere above your head. If you lost this movement go and look at the same star again, because there are 10 – 20 AFOs under this star. Another words, start again from step 3.
    5. If you watched the movement of whitish grey cloud, observe it very carefully and you will see very dim signal lights that create circle inside of this cloud, that is how you know that the moving cloud is not illussion or distortion, but a real AFO. On the other hand cloud can not move with speed 10-40 miles per second and more.
    6. Next time when you see the moving whitish grey cloud or signal lights wave your hand to it and this object will start zig-zag in your direction. That is how AFOs say HELLO to you. This is another example that we deal with moving object that controled by intellegent beings.
    7. Remember if you read karate manual it is not enough to become even a beginner in karate, you have to practice for a while. The same rule applies to those who read my article and try right away to spot AFO. With my help it will take couple minutes, on your own – much more (30 – 60min) may be less depending on your power of observation.
    8. Keep in mind that people for thousand years looked at the sky and never saw them at such altittude, because AFOs camouflaged themselves by using different tricks that I discovered and described in my article.
    If you have problem to spot UFOs following my instructions, let me know and I can navigate you by phone.

  58. Gunnar

    As for stationary objects seeming to move around, try looking up “autokinesis” or “autokinetic effect” using any readily available internet search engine. This well-known phenomenon often causes a very convincing illusion that a bright light seen against a relatively dark field (such as the night sky) is moving rapidly and erratically relative to the observer when it is actually stationary. You can easily experience this phenomenon any time you want to by staring at a pin-point source of light fixed in place on the ceiling or across the room from you in a dark room. It has been known to fool pilots into dangerously mistaking something like a star or planet as another aircraft on a collision course with their own aircraft, causing them to take unnecessary and sometimes violent course corrections to avoid what they thought were impending collisions.

  59. @Chrissyo,

    You wrote,
    {No, astronomers who say “hey, I saw something weird in the sky and I can’t work out what it was” are not ridiculed. People who say “hey, I saw something weird in the sky and I can’t work out what it was so it must have been an alien spacecraft/[insert other extrodinary claim here]!” ARE ridiculed. Do you see the difference between the two scenarios?}

    Quite clearly, thank you. I have used my talents as a reporter and photographer to demystify several sightings and alleged “UFO” photos on the Internet, showing them conclusively as artifacts, natural or man-made phenomena. I also recently demonstrated in UFO Matrix magazine that I can produce “spirit orbs” on demand, using nothing more than a cheap digital camera and a mister bottle. It’s the most rudimentary kind of optical analysis, and like you I’m dismayed by what people read into it.

    Other photos I’ve analyzed I cannot identify and I say so. Do I say they’re alien spaceships? No. But some apparently authentic photos I’ve looked at show genuinely odd physical phenomena.

    You also wrote,
    {Check the astronomical literature, for example, and see the response when astronomers discover some new weird object or phenomena. Heck, even the big cases where little green men WERE considered (like the discover of Pulsars) didn’t result in mass ridicule and career ruin.}

    I remember the excitement surrounding the discovery of pulsars and the subsequent conclusion that they were a natural phenomenon. There doesn’t seem to be much opposition among astronomers to the reality of life on other planets; in fact I recently heard the discoverer of the Earth-like planet Gliese 581G, speaking on NPR, say he was 100% SURE there was life on it! What astronomers can’t swallow – please correct me if I’m wrong – is the notion that an alien species could travel astronomical distances to come here, and why they would do so if they could.

    Even without assuming any revolutionary advances in physics, Robert A. Heinlein long ago posited the concept of the multigenerational colony starship. This could be powered with known propulsion systems, either ion drives or nuclear engines (continuous or pulse), to astronomical speeds and decelerated the same way. So at this point interstellar travel is, even for human beings, a matter not of revolutionary new physics but experimentation and engineering. We already know how an alien species could do it.

    Given that they COULD come here, why would they? Space doesn’t allow a full exposition here (no pun intended), but please remember some of mankind’s most lasting technological achievements were not made for rational, much less scientific, reasons, but for fundamentally irrational ones. I am thinking of the pyramids, Stonehenge, Macchu Pichu, Petra, etc.

    Finally, you wrote
    {It’s funny how your ’self-censorship out of fear of ridicule because of CIA/USAF involvement’ example can also be explained by a simpler and less paranoid case of ‘astronomers just generally aren’t drama queens’.}

    First, I refer you to Richard Dolan’s “UFO’s and the National Security State,” which in addition to being authoritative and well-researched is also highly readable.

    Second, your indirect inference that non-astronomers who report UFO’s are “drama queens” is not only contemptuous, derisive and derogatory, it is also just plain wrong.
    You might as well claim they are all drunken hillbillies, drug addicts or publicity hounds. I think you have made my point quite well, thank you!

    You are trying to polarize the situation to your convenience and security level. Between skeptics such as yourself and wide-eyed true believers there stand a number of people willing to try to look at the UFO phenomenon objectively on a case-by-case basis, and may I as a layman politely suggest that regardless of your emotional response to the subject, that is the only truly scientific way to approach it.

  60. @56 James:

    I see. And where is your evidence that:
    1) This happened at all, and you’re not misrepresenting or misremembering it?
    2) This was an external phenomenon, as opposed to a dream or hallucination?
    3) The object was under intelligent control?
    4) The object was foreign to earth?

    If you can’t even establish 1, I have no more reason to take you seriously than you’d have to take me seriously if I said that I had been visited by leprechauns who had granted me three wishes that I foolishly squandered.

  61. TomK

    I see a lot of dogmatism masquerading as scientific thinking. Because some people jump to conclusions too quickly about unidentified objects in the sky doesn’t mean that every report of a UFO results from the misidentification of a known object by one of these people. Are there aliens flying around in spaceships observing the Earth? I don’t know. It’s possible, but there’s no incontrovertible evidence at this point. It’s probably not very likely. However, just because there’s no proof now doesn’t mean aliens aren’t out there sneaking around–and it doesn’t mean there won’t be proof in the future. A real scientist would concede this and acknowledge the incompleteness of our knowledge. A scientist’s first reaction wouldn’t be to mock and sneer. A scientist would remain open-minded to future developments. I especially get annoyed by people like this one:

    “Someone deciding that they saw ‘objects that appeared to be under intelligent control but could not be identified as man-made’ does not mean that they were, nor does this constitute ‘evidence’ or ‘fact.’

    I don’t think the poster claimed they were. They’re observations, and most science begins with observation, after all. The poster was responding to fallacious identification of everyone who reports a UFO sighting as a beer-soaked, trailer-park denizen who doesn’t know you can actually see planets from Earth. (What’s that, like 0.009% of the population?) Some UFO reports are given by people who are sophisticated, perceptive, and intelligent, and have well-developed critical thinking skills. Some of them are even scientists. Does that mean the objects they’re seeing are spaceships piloted by little green men? No. It means that it’s much less likely that they’re misidentifying a common, easily recognized object–e.g., the moon or Jupiter–as an unknown phenomenon. If a drunk half-wit told me he saw a spaceship, I’d be really, really skeptical. If my no-nonsense, whip-smart surgeon friend saw one, I’d take his observations a lot more seriously.

  62. Rory

    @ Phil Plait.

    I see that you are still at it!

    That is, trying to belittle and ridicule the subject of UFOs. In so doing, you are attempting to try to silence anyone that might see or have seen something that cannot be so easily explained away. You try very hard to do this. By now you should realise that your actions and behaviour are the antithesis to what good scientific investigation should be and should be encouraging! It’s as if you still live in “The flat earth believers world’ or the “Airplanes will never fly or be of military use if they did” world.

    You wrote:

    “astronomers report very few if any UFOs because for the most part, we understand what we’re seeing in the sky.”

    Once again you fail to highlight or to point out that many astronomers would be looking at the night sky and would be looking at objects outside the earth’s atmosphere. You fail to inform your readers or fans that many reported UFO sighting happen during the day. Besides which, if astronomers saw one of these as yet unexplained UFOs below earth’s atmosphere, they would be as perplexed as any of the witnesses that have seen such objects and also be unable to rationally (within their own references) explain what they saw. No doubt they would reach a similar conclusion as most of the other witnesses…no! Of course you would probably like to retort that – astronomers would not see anything that they could not explain rationally and within our known capabilities and knowledge! Actually that kind of reply might help to make sure that it stays that way :-)

    Please correct me if I am wrong – but is the following not a fairly simple and accurate definition of astronomy:

    [the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties]

    UFOs sightings that have so far failed to be rationally explained have also occurred during daylight hours and were not mistaken for any of the astronomical or worldly objects that you always try to push as the one and only explanation. Everyone knows that most sightings can and are explained by reasonably mundane things and do not represent anything extraordinary. However, not all can be so explained and some cases if the investigated reports are correct, are something else entirely that is beyond our present understanding of aeronautics etc.,

    You do yourself and your obviously keen intellect an injustice by being so shallow and flippant. You also intentionally try to bring into disrepute and thereby ridicule any scientist that would like to investigate the so far unexplained UFO phenomena that deserves to be funded, researched and scientifically studied. By your continuous knocking and stating that astronomers do not see or report UFOs, helps to make the likelihood of such people putting themselves forward to be ridiculed by the likes of you and others that have passed sentence on this subject before the evidence has been presented, very unlikely.

    In this particular matter I deem your behaviour wrong, unjustified, closed-minded, egotistical and completely unscientific. It is a obvious and blatant tactic of silencing people through making them look foolish in front of their peers and in so doing restricting further investigation into the subject. If there is any truth in the claims – what hope or chance is there of having proper scientific investigations done or of producing the badly demanded / needed evidence, when the likes of you do everything to silence and retard such investigation?

    People pretending to seriously ask for evidence (in any area) when their whole modus operandi is to try to discourage what would be required to meet their demands, are underhand, immoral and in my view acting in a reprehensible way. Are they afraid that they may be proven wrong! Where is their support for serious investigation into a phenomena that is known to exist and that could even prove to be a danger to passenger flights? Even if it is an earthly natural phenomena that we just do not understand yet – why are you and your likes not promoting such investigation. If, on the other hand it is all as you would like or wish to believe, why not have it fully investigated if only to put the topic to bed once and for all and save such blogs and discussions as this?

    Previously you wrote an article which I also criticised for the same illogical reasoning and unscientific conclusions that you were promoting and drawing. I found the article to be dishonest in its approach and in its simplistic deductions This critique was neither addressed by you or by any of your supporters at the time. Why might this have been the case!. I think it was because what you had written in your article was indefensible when the light of logic and fairness was shone on it.

    In case your memory does not recall the article that I mention or the unanswered response to it, I will reprint it in the post that follows. Perhaps you would now like to rebuke my criticism and justify what you originally wrote – point for point: Otherwise people may deduct that the criticism was well founded and is correct!

  63. Imaginethat

    My parents bought me my first telescope at age 6. I’ve had one (or more) since. I’m 61. Throughout my life I’ve looked skyward, seen many optical phenonmena, satellites (I remember Echo), comets, meteors, fireballs, honestly, if it appears in the sky, I’ve seen it.

    Among what I’ve seen have been a number of “UFOs,” odd points of light I could not immediately identify. About two years ago, I watched a very odd light which traveled west to east, rather bright, and it then made an arc to the south and flew almost right over me. I gotta admit, it could have been a plane with landing lights on, though I saw no blinking running lights.

    I completely agree with those here who say that just because something is a UFO doesn’t mean it’s piloted by extraterrestrials. I also agree that most skeptics seem not to have done a thorough investigation of UFO reports because some certainly do appear to be rock-solid, the Brussels flap being very hard to dismiss as anything other than intelligently controlled craft of some sort.

    But like James, in late-July on a trip to Kiev, Ukraine, I saw something that has no explanation. I watched a large, rose-gold colored, disc shaped object for more than 20 minutes. It was large, the size of a quarter held at arm’s length. The quality of the light has proved difficult for me to describe. The best I can do: similar to a Fourth of July “roman candle.”

    It moved erratically, up, down, to the east, back to the west. It appeared close, but distance to source was impossible to estimate. It made not a sound, nothing audible to either me or my friend, and the sighting did occur late at night, with ambient noise practically absent.

    Starting as a very bright point of light, it grew to as I said about the diameter of a quarter at arm’s length. Oddly, as it began moving to the east of me, it’s size did not change at all. And then, it winked out. I’m not claiming aliens taking a night flight. I am saying, I have decades of experience looking skyward, and I have no explanation whatsoever for what I saw.

  64. Rory

    Aliens? Yes. UFOs? No.

    November 28th, 2008 at 9:19 am

    < >

    Hi Phil! Nice to hear from you.

    I don’t recall calling you a debunker – are you trying to inveigle yourself into this category!

    I would not have considered you a debunker, though of course that was what you were attempting with this Article. I would have placed you more as an ill or mal-informed disbeliever. Or possibly someone that has a vested interest in attempting to push a viewpoint and does not do so in a balanced and fair way . Someone that appears to be heavily supporting one viewpoint without fully or correctly informing his audience of the other side’s arguments and strengths. Why do I think this! Well, my observations are based solely on this article you wrote and that this thread is ’supposed’ to be discussing. (aside from people with fixated linguistic and grammatical fixation problems).

    Do I have examples of what you wrote that I find unfair, half true, exaggerated etc.? Yes I think so and if you like I will now endeavour to point out some of these one-sided and unbalanced statements / arguments of yours:-

    < >

    Written I think for the gullible. Most people with any savvy would know and understand that the majority of reports of UFOs are easily explained by normal / natural / earthly means or by the planets, moon etc. . The majority of the recent reports in England for example will be understood to be the result of sightings of Chinese lanterns. Many of the other reports – photos and videos will be looked at very skeptically (rightly so), as people are very aware of the amount of hoaxers involved with this subject.

    There is a more obvious reason why people might believe that some of the Sightings are likely to be true and not from this world as we know it. This would be because they saw that these Sightings had been seriously and thoroughly investigated and that no other reasonable explanation could be found to explain the phenomena. Would I be right in thinking that you do not believe that there are such unexplained cases and therefore that no such phenomena exist? One could certainly arrive at such a conclusion because nowhere in your article did you mention or did you emphasise that fact! That I opinion, is being disingenuous on your part, as far as the counter arguments and facts are concerned.

    < >

    So you say – concerning those that imagined Venus was an airplane. If they think it’s a nearby airplane, or some other bright earthbound object and not a UFO, it is of no concern and you should not have included it as an example. If they were all claiming it to be a UFO that would be different. In fact what you say here might actually suggest that few people confuse Venus with unexplainable objects. Also, you neglected to inform your readers about objects that are not mundane and that cannot be explained as easily as you would wish – have you? No, you have not! May I ask why not?

    < >

    This is true, as does the moon. However, you automatically dismiss another possibility and that is that some of these reports were not of Venus or of the Moon. As well as that, you do not even allow for that possibility and in so doing you belittle or try to deny the people that may have made such reports. Not only that, but you ignore completely sightings that may have occurred when there was no Venus or Moon visible! Why is that?

    < .

    Again this reinforces how disingenuous you are. Endeavouring to push your biased and one-sided view .

    < >

    True.

    < >

    Once again you show your bias. “All” at some time may have been described as unidentified and even by a few as UFOs, but they are definitely not always mistaken for “alien” spacecraft. That is just not true and therefore it is complete rubbish! Most people that report or see something strange do not in fact know what they have seen and are anxious to find out what it was or have it explained to them. Most people probably do not make a report at all, even though they may have seen something that they themselves cannot explain.

    < >

    You do! How do you actually know this? Have you interviewed most of those around the world to substantiate your claim or have you scientifically followed-up most of the investigations to affirm your definite conclusion? Many people may do as you say, but I suggest that most people that make such reports do not do so based on the object sightings that you suggest. There are many daylight observations and reports.

    < >

    You are attempting here to be facetious, when you have not made the effort to discuss or point out the UFOs that have been investigated and cannot be explained by any means at our current disposal. You are trying to rubbish the topic in the minds of those you are addressing and in so doing you seem to hope to deter interest, questions and investigation. Which of the students or listeners is going to stand up and ask a serious question when the ground has been set to make a laughing stock out of them? You attempt to bury the subject with ridicule / smear as many others have done and still do. Read what Dr. J. Allen Hynak had to say about this at his UN address on UFOs (Previously posted by me).

    < >

    Is that true – that they peer at the sky!!! Or do you really mean but do not describe that what they focus on is really a little further out – much further in fact!. You let your readers (that you already seem to think are so gullible) believe that these amateur astronomers are examining the clouds or just above or below them. Should you not have been more explicit on behalf of your student listeners / readers, if only for balanced educational purposes!

    Why is it that many do not make Reports? Well, it is quite simple and is self-evident. If you were reading the comments posted here, the reasons would be very clear to you, but I have no doubt that you already were fully aware of the reasons and causes for such a situation to exist! Could it be because of the ridicule that is awaiting and has already been heaped on others, through articles such as yours and Government actions and policies over the years ensuring that this happens!

    < >

    Incorrect! They do and courageous ones have done so. Again here, you are not in fact telling your audience the truth and once again being disingenuous and trying to ridicule the subject / phenomena. What you are actually saying is that any Amateur Astronomer that does make such a report really ‘does not know the sky’ (or what he is talking about). What a conceited view!

    < >

    Bad ending for an argument that was not good to start with.

    Most sightings that are reported are close to earth in case you were not aware of this (though of course we know that you are). It is to do with numbers / population. It also has a lot to do with human eyesight and it’s range under normal conditions and circumstances. Astronomers would have less chance of spotting something unusual (UFO type) because they are normally though not always, focussed on external objects at great distances. Their field of vision is like the ’spotlight’ situation. Whereas, those that are earthbound or nearer the earth (pilots, astronauts), would have the availability of ‘floodlight’ vision and be able to see and take in much more in their expanded field of vision.

    < >

    That is your assumption and reasoning. People may be inclined to believe in an ‘Out of this World’ / ‘Extra or Inter-dimensional’ etc. explanation only after those UFO sightings have been subjected to a thorough and honest investigation and found to have no explanation at all within our present ability to explain them. They may also believe this because of the reported unusual and apparent characteristics and capabilities associated with these particular UFO sightings.

    It is very enlightening to observe that you have not once in an Article (which I presume you think is balanced) referred to these numerous unexplainable (currently) UFO sightings. Why is this? Is it because you would be at a loss to explain them yourself! Thereby highlighting what your own article amounts to – a biased, close-minded judgmental opinion / belief that is full of half-truths and disinformation. It is certainly not the open, knowledge- seeking, scientific insight / overview that it should, or even could have been. What a pity!

    < >

    This is also rubbish! It would still mean that all it takes is for one of these to be true, factual and proven to be a UFO to show-up all the deniers and would be debunkers to have been wrong. In there lies the vested interest in those people (such as yourself) to try and make sure that this does not easily happen as it would greatly question your own misjudgment in the matter. What you are trying to inculcate in the more gullible is, that as most Sightings are explainable by everyday objects and events – all therefore are. That dear Phil is not the situation and it possibly is not the truth either – is it?

    < >

    I agree. But again you attempt to suggest that there have not been multiple eye-witness reports.

    Yes, proof does need to be strong and acceptable. But not necessarily as you state it – though that would be great. If for example one of our probes to Mars, the Moon or elsewhere, shows evidence of recent or past intelligent interference or civilisation, that would certainly change the goal posts for many disbelievers. Some kind of proof might arrive through SETI (lots of patience needed). However, I do agree that more concrete proof is required to turn disbelievers and the many of us that are just keeping an open-mind on the so-far unexplained phenomena, into true believers. Who knows, the US government could well be sitting on the very proof required and may decide (if they have such proof) to release it. How unhappy that would make those that made it their business to belittle, knock and ridicule this subject. How foolish they would all look!

    < >

    Well, so far we have not, but as in all such matters and particularly pertaining to science – one should have already learned to be patient.

    < >

    Of course I have no problem agreeing with this sentiment and I do.

    Regards

  65. JoeB

    About 25 years ago, I took a group of teacher colleagues through Haleakala “crater” on Maui. We were settling in at Kapalaoa Cabin when someone rushed in all excited, “There’s a UFO outside.” We went out to look. There was a bright light just over the horizon; I opined that it was a star. “But it’s moving (jumping around) and changing colors!” After a couple minutes, everyone else went back inside; it was cold and windy, for Hawaii, maybe about 60 degrees F. I stayed out, the sky darkened, and stars began to appear. I slowly realized that we were looking at the top edge of Auriga rising, and the UFO was alpha Aurigae, or Capella. I stayed out a few more minutes enjoying the show, then went inside with my science teacher hat on to explain to my friends. No-one was the least bit interested; one or two chastised me for trying to ruin their UFO experience.
    I will be there again with a dozen friends on Dec 13 to watch the Geminid meteor shower.
    Should be a pretty good show after the moon sets around midnight. Last year was quite good.

  66. 0. The BA Says: “news that residents of Washington state have been calling the police to report a UFO low in the east after sunset.”

    I guess this is appropriate since the entire UFO==Flying Saucer movement got its start in Washington state in 1947. If you’re interested in the history, it’s all in the first chapter of:

    http://www.arapress.com/saucer.php

    (with a Foreword by a certain celebrity astronomer that we all know)

    And if Phil will allow me one more commercial plug;

    13. Rory Kent Says: “Well, it is 2010, and we are talking about Jupiter.”

    If you are a fan of that particular film, you can also check out:

    http://www.arapress.com/2010aso.php

    – Jack

  67. Mary

    JRG @ 5
    Loopked at your image. Sort of cool, actually.

  68. John Sandlin

    For all the believers that unidentified objects in the sky include alien space craft, I can not say you are wrong. So far, however, with the evidence I have available to me, I have no reason to believe that any of the objects we see in the sky, day or night, were created by beings from another world.

    If you wish me to believe the extraordinary, you’ll need to provide evidence which excludes all possibilities that are not extraordinary first. As of yet, this has not occurred.

    jbs

  69. Utakata

    Some of you UFO guys are as loopy and looney as the climate denialists that post here. Just saying…

  70. Sam

    When you blithely and baselessly impugn others’ rationality by suggesting that all people who take the UFO issue seriously are intellectually feeble and either easily duped or willfully ignorant, you should expect to be called names. Don’t be so sensitive. Or at least, realize you don’t like it, and stop trying to bully others on this issue and picking these fights.

    Calling out specific misguided UFO claims, or common defects in many such claims, is one thing. I have no problem with that. But you gratuitously stir up anger when — and you consistently do this — you take your critique several steps further and baselessly mock the entire subject as if every case were an open-and-shut hoax or misperception, when you are probably aware that the evidence in the small group of truly unsolved cases (about 5%) demonstrates that there is unquestionably a legitimate mystery here. YES, I used the word “EVIDENCE” — because those cases feature exactly the same kinds and strength of evidence that prosecutors regularly use to successfully convict people of crimes every day under a “beyond a reasonale doubt” standard.

    BTW, it is ANYTHING BUT an attack based on “small details” when people like me take issue with your intellectually unserious attitude toward the UFO phenomenon. We’re certainly not missing “the big picture.” It’s just the opposite. YOU belittle the subject by ONLY focusing on “small details” and cherry-picked frivolous cases, while deliberately ignoring the truly inscrutable cases and the provocative questions they raise — or, put differently, by ignoring the pig picture.

    I don’t know why I even let myself take you seriously, Bad Astronomer. It”s become fairly obvious that you dash off a silly piece on this subject whenever there’s nothing else relevant to write about and you’re trying to drum up comment activity.

  71. Messier Tidy Upper

    But there’s some good to come of this. For one, it means people are in fact going outside and looking up. That alone makes me happy. Also, these folks find out they’re looking at Jupiter, when maybe they didn’t even know they could see a planet at all (though I bet a few won’t believe the cops or papers). And the best part? The article about the Jupiter UFO reports gives some basic info about Jupiter, too. That’s great! Kudos to the Peninsula Daily News for taking this chance to get a little astronomical coolness out there to its readers.

    Yeah, you’ve gotta look on the bright side here. :-)

    Great to see the media playing a more positive role and adding some educational material too. :-)

  72. John M

    There’s nothing inherently “weird” about aliens existing.

    No more bizarre than the discovery of microscopic bacteria living on our very body 400 years ago.

    Or finding the Earth isn’t at the center of the Universe after all.

    Paradigms have always shifted in human history and they never come without a fight from the those unwilling or able to imagine that we might not know everything yet.

  73. JRG

    @67 Mary:

    Thanks, it’s from the UWO allsky meteor camera network, it just happened to catch the insect on the lens on the last web image it took that day. The implications were immediate and obvious (INVASION!) – plus, I thought the comments to this post could use some humour.

  74. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 19. Eric Says:

    It is true: 95% of UFO sightings are easily explained by trained observers. However, the other 5% go unexplained. It is hard to argue against experts like Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who has walked on the moon longer than any human being ever and has appeared on national TV programs to tell us that yes, some UFOs are in fact extra-terrestrial spacecraft. Naturally, the writer of an article that aims to explain away the UFO phenomenon wouldn’t expect the average reader to know this as most are uninformed on this issue.

    As # 43. Nigel Depledge has already nicely observed even a brief bit of research would be enough to show the claim that Mitchell spent the longest time on the Luanr surface out of all Apollo astronauts is erroneous.

    The Bad Astronomer, Dr Phil Plait, has already debunked Mitchell’s rather loopy claims in detail here before. See :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/07/26/ed-mitchell-going-to-the-moon-doesnt-mean-youre-right/

    &

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/07/30/followup-ed-mitchell-and-ufo-believers/

    &

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/04/22/edgar-mitchell-is-at-it-again-yawn/

    For the BA’s views on that matter. As the BA concluded there :

    “Someone wake me when all these UFO folks who are rending their garments have some actual evidence.”

    Evidence specifically for alien craft if that’s what they’re claiming these are. Saying we can’t recognise what object X is for sure is NOT evidence that X is really a flying saucer from Zeta Reticuli or anything like that.

  75. tony ostinato

    at the national press club this week some military officials in charge of nuclear weapons installations testified ufos hovered over those bases and deactivated nuclear weapons.

    and it could all be bookselling, instanity, senility or whatever but they do look pretty serious about it all.

    they did mention sharp right angle turns at high speed and thats what i saw.

    as far as insults and name calling thats happenin on both sides, of everything, everywhere. its lost all meaning, which is ironic justice. might as well replace it with the charlie brown/peanuts wah wah plunger trombone sound.

  76. ellie

    Wow. The ‘crazy’ is strong in these comments! Until actual repeatable, objective evidence is produced that these UFO’s are under intelligent control AND not from Earth, it is all supposition.

    Stories are just that – stories. Eye-witness accounts are notoriously unreliable, ask any detective with >5yrs experience investigating crime. It doesn’t really matter how many stories there are, it’s still anecdote, and as much as some of you may *wish* it were the case…. the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.

  77. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (59) said:

    What astronomers can’t swallow – please correct me if I’m wrong – is the notion that an alien species could travel astronomical distances to come here, and why they would do so if they could.

    Well, yes, you are wrong. And this is a common misconception.

    Most astronomers would love for there to be aliens visiting Earth (in peace!). I know I would, and I’m sure the BA would.

    What we reject is that an unidentified object is evidence that aliens are visiting. Do you see the difference there?

    Even if every single reported sighting remained genuinely unidentified, it still wouldn’t mean anything.

  78. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (59) said:

    So at this point interstellar travel is, even for human beings, a matter not of revolutionary new physics but experimentation and engineering. We already know how an alien species could do it.

    But the generation ship that you posit would be a one-way ticket.

    No, for the frequent and very brief visits that are claimed by the UFO nuts, one must posit rapid and facile (and cheap!) interstellar travel, which brings us onto the next question…

    Given that they COULD come here, why would they?

    Any answer to this is speculative, of course. However, the answer must explain why they enter Sol’s gravity well (plenty of resources out in the Kuiper Belt); why the visits are so brief and so frequent; and why they go to such lengths to remain undeteced (we have radar systems scanning the sky that track debris in Earth orbit down to 10 cm in size – satellite operators must frequently maneouvre their birds to avoid collisions with this debris – so we would detect them if they were not using stealth technology that’s designed to foil our radar systems) and yet fail so miserably.

    I have yet to see even the most speculative answer that actually satisfies these criteria.

  79. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (59) said:

    …technological achievements were not made for rational, much less scientific, reasons, but for fundamentally irrational ones. I am thinking of the pyramids, Stonehenge, Macchu Pichu, Petra, etc.

    These achievements were not in technology. They were achievements in man-management and logistics.

  80. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (59) said:

    Second, your indirect inference that non-astronomers who report UFO’s are “drama queens” is not only contemptuous, derisive and derogatory, it is also just plain wrong.
    You might as well claim they are all drunken hillbillies, drug addicts or publicity hounds. I think you have made my point quite well, thank you!

    Actually, you are refusing to address a perfectly good logical point.

    How would you react if someone came back from a fishing trip and said “we saw something in the water that we couldn’t identify, it must be ALIENS!”?

    Given the sheer quantity of UFO sightings that are subsequently identified as known phenomena, but seen by someone to whom they are unfamiliar, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that these people would rather believe a bizarre fantasy than admit their own ignorance. Would a newspaper report “local farmer sees unfamiliar light in the sky”? No, of course not. But they report “local farmer sees alien spaceship” readily enough. I think “drama queen” is a very succinct – and accurate – description of this type of behaviour.

    So, it may well be contemptuous, but are you the kind of person to whom a spade is an earth-inverting horticultural implement? Why should we not treat these people with contempt?

  81. Nigel Depledge

    Malcolm J Brenner (59) said:

    You are trying to polarize the situation to your convenience and security level. Between skeptics such as yourself and wide-eyed true believers there stand a number of people willing to try to look at the UFO phenomenon objectively on a case-by-case basis, and may I as a layman politely suggest that regardless of your emotional response to the subject, that is the only truly scientific way to approach it.

    Actually, no. The sceptics are trying to bring some rational thinking to the table.

    Whether you lump them all together or look at them on a case-by-case basis, there is still not one shred of actual evidence that UFO sightings are anything other than mundane phenomena.

    Therefore, it is irrational to draw any conclusion beyond “hey, some guy saw something in the sky and he couldn’t work out what it was.” There simply isn’t any information.

  82. Nigel Depledge

    JediBear (60) said:

    If you can’t even establish 1, I have no more reason to take you seriously than you’d have to take me seriously if I said that I had been visited by leprechauns who had granted me three wishes that I foolishly squandered.

    Oh, man! You squandered your three wishes???!!!

    Curse you for a fool! You could have wished away all the irrational, uncritical thinking in the world!

    ;-)

  83. #43 Nigel:
    Seconded.

    #19 Eric:
    Firstly, as Nigel and others have already pointed out, you haven’t even bothered to do even the most elementary research. If you had, you would know that seven astronauts spent longer on the lunar surface than Edgar Mitchell. As has also been pointed out, Mitchell was a pilot and an engineer, not an astronomer; he was and is no more of an expert on what’s in the sky than the next man.
    Secondly, it’s also well known that Mitchell believes in various other irrational concepts, such as ESP and psychic phenomena. During Apollo 14, he tried to conduct experiments in telepathy with a friend on Earth. Note that he never said a word about this, until after the flight, to his Commander, Alan Shepard, or to anyone else in the Astronaut Corps. Why? Because if he had, he would almost certainly have been dropped from the flight!
    Finally, as far as I’m aware, there are all of two former astronauts – Mitchell and Gordo Cooper – who have made any kind of claims about UFOs. You seem to conveniently ignore the fact that none of the other 500+ people who have been into space have ever made any such claim. That number includes a couple of hundred Russians and a few dozen of assorted other nationalities, so don’t even bother claiming that they were all “silenced” by the US Government!

  84. MarkW

    32. Alan Says:
    @Derek:

    People who don’t “believe” in UFOs have yet to actually look into it, or have yet to see one themselves, or in the case of Derek are just playing dumb to feel “right”.

    I present myself as a counter-example. I used to be a UFO “true believer”. I’m familiar with all the “landmark cases” — Villas Boas, the Pascagoula abduction, Rendlesham Forest, Betty and Barney Hill, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

    The further I look into the subject the more I am convinced that the extra-terrestrial hypothesis (for the origin of the 5% or so “true unknowns”) has no credibility whatsoever.

    In my opinion, UFO experiences seem to have something in common with mystical experiences such as demon possession, encounters with angels, etc. This is particularly true of the “Close Encounter” cases and “Alien Abductions”.

    Of course that is not to rule out the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere (with the Monty Python caveat that “there’s bugger-all down here on Earth”) but there is no evidence that aliens are visiting , or have visited, the Earth.

  85. I had a strange sighting the other morning on the way to work. Actually, I was driving my son to school. We were headed due east and the Sun was just barely above the horizon (a big hill actually). I saw what looked like a bright star. My first thought was “Hey, Venus!” Before I could tell my son it flickered and disappeared. At that point I was thinking “OK, so much for Venus!”.

    I’m still not sure what it was. I do not think for a millisecond that it was some alien spaceship posing as a makeshift/temporary Venus. I suppose it could have been a glint from a low flying plane but it wasn’t characteristic of a glint. I’ve seen this kind of occurrence before and my only other hypothesis is that I saw a meteor. Rather than seeing it streak across the sky, there might be a slim chance I saw it head on. In other-words, it was headed right for me!

    It didn’t appear to move at all in any direction. It got bright then dim then was gone. I love a good mystery. :)

  86. Nigel Depledge

    TomK (61) said:

    I see a lot of dogmatism masquerading as scientific thinking.

    Actually, I haven’t seen any dogmatism here on the science side. Please cite specific examples.

    Because some people jump to conclusions too quickly about unidentified objects in the sky doesn’t mean that every report of a UFO results from the misidentification of a known object by one of these people.

    True. But human beings make lousy witnesses, especially when witnessing something with which they are unfamiliar.

    Are there aliens flying around in spaceships observing the Earth? I don’t know. It’s possible, but there’s no incontrovertible evidence at this point. It’s probably not very likely.

    Actually, as far as we can tell, it is so unlikely as to be completely implausible as a working hypothesis.

    However, just because there’s no proof now doesn’t mean aliens aren’t out there sneaking around–and it doesn’t mean there won’t be proof in the future. A real scientist would concede this and acknowledge the incompleteness of our knowledge. A scientist’s first reaction wouldn’t be to mock and sneer. A scientist would remain open-minded to future developments.

    Of course.

    And, if you carefully read the comments posted by the sceptics here, you will see that most of them actually do concur with you on this point.

    What we mock and ridicule is the leaping to an entirely unjustified conclusion.

    “I saw something I couldn’t identify,” is perfectly rational and reasonable.

    “I saw something I couldn’t identify, therefore it was an alien spaceship,” is truly ridiculous.

    “I saw something I couldn’t identify, therefore you must consider aliens as at least as likely as that I was mistaken,” is, likewise, utterly ridiculous. It is overwhelmingly more likely that the witness was mistaken about the particulars of what they saw than that what they saw was truly an alien spaceship.

    The principle of parsimony requires that we don’t needlessly multiply entities – IOW, don’t assume the existence of something for which you have no supporting evidence. There is, at present, not one shred of evidence to support the existence of aliens flying around in spaceships. In fact, although most scientists consider ET life of one oform or another to be very likely, we currently have no evidence for life (even the simplest forms) beyond Earth.

    We do, however, know the following:
    1) The human perceptual system is notoriously imperfect;
    2) Lights in the sky, in the form of planets, planes, satellites, clouds, birds, chinese lanterns etc. do exist;
    3) These known phenomena are often reported as UFOs.

    The obvious, rational conclusion to draw from these facts, until we have some hard evidence to show otherwise, is that Earth is not being visited by aliens.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (62) said:

    That is, trying to belittle and ridicule the subject of UFOs.

    Well, unfortunately, the subject makes itself ridiculous because of all the nuts claiming that Earth is being visited by aliens.

    In so doing, you are attempting to try to silence anyone that might see or have seen something that cannot be so easily explained away.

    Just because an unidentified object is not easily identified as a known phenomenon does not reduce the likelihood that it was a known phenomenon. All it proves is that we have too little information on which to base an identification of what was seen.

    You try very hard to do this.

    Actually, you UFOnuts make it really, really easy.

    Maybe you should apply some rational, critical thought to your conclusions before you call the local newspapers next time, huh?

    By now you should realise that your actions and behaviour are the antithesis to what good scientific investigation should be and should be encouraging!

    Actually, you’re wrong. This is what the UFO nuts do. You and your co-deludees are always expecting the rest of us to seriously consider your fantasies as if they were a plausible hypothesis.

    . . .
    Once again you fail to highlight or to point out that many astronomers would be looking at the night sky and would be looking at objects outside the earth’s atmosphere.

    Uh, yeah, but – dude? – they’d be looking through the Earth’s atmosphere, yeah?

    You fail to inform your readers or fans that many reported UFO sighting happen during the day.

    How many, exactly?

    Besides which, if astronomers saw one of these as yet unexplained UFOs below earth’s atmosphere,

    Since the atmosphere extends all the way to the ground, this would be either underwater or underground. The “F” in UFO means Flying, so, no.

    they would be as perplexed as any of the witnesses that have seen such objects and also be unable to rationally (within their own references) explain what they saw.

    I dareasay most of them could explain it easily enough – what they might not be able to do is identify what they saw. And this happens to amateur astronomers all the time. They just don’t make a song and dance about it because, for the most part, they know that it doesn’t mean anything.

    . . .

    Please correct me if I am wrong

    See above.

    – but is the following not a fairly simple and accurate definition of astronomy:

    [the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties]

    UFOs sightings that have so far failed to be rationally explained

    Actually, they can pretty much all be rationally explained in a general sense. I think what you mean here is that a few could not positively be identified as something known.

    Sadly, this means precisely nothing, apart from the fact that someone saw something they could not identify. If it can’t be identified after the fact, all that means is there isn’t enough information on which to base an identification.

    have also occurred during daylight hours and were not mistaken for any of the astronomical or worldly objects that you always try to push as the one and only explanation.

    Venus and the moon are frequently visible in daylight, and Venus in particular is frequently reported as a UFO.

    Everyone knows that most sightings can and are explained by reasonably mundane things and do not represent anything extraordinary. However, not all can be so explained and some cases if the investigated reports are correct, are something else entirely that is beyond our present understanding of aeronautics etc.,

    Emphasis added.

    Yeah, there you are. So what you are doing is choosing an unknown phenomenon as a more likely explanation of the sighting than that the witness misunderstood and mis-described what they saw. Given what is known about the human perceptual system and about the difficulties inherent in interstellar travel, the latter is actually orders of magnitude more likely than the former.

  88. Jeffrey Cornish:

    You’d figure they’d really be upset by the ISS passing overhead.

    Earlier this year, the ISS passed overhead shortly after sunset (ie: darkened sky, sunlit ISS), a few minutes after my kids’ karate class. I went outside with my kids to watch it, and several other kids (and their parents!) came to watch, too. Another time, the timing was just right that we were able to see “sunset on the ISS” as it darkened and “disappeared” from the sky.

    Oh, and last week, my 9-year-old daughter’s 4th grade homework assignment included “go outside after dusk and find Jupiter”. At least this school district gets some things right. :-)

  89. jfb

    Heh. My wife and I were sitting on the porch the other evening and saw it, and our first thought was Jupiter or an airplane. When it didn’t move after a few minutes, I pulled out the old Simmons (70mm, wobbly mount, coke-bottle glass and all; we’re getting a new Celestron 114mm delivered later this month, when it will start getting cloudy). Even with that crappy glass, it was easy to see the Galilean moons and some of the banding in the atmosphere. Can’t wait for the new scope; maybe we’ll be able to see something *other than* Jupiter.

    Re: UFOs: While I believe the universe is lousy with life, some of it intelligent, I’m not at all convinced they’ve come *here*. When you think about the distances involved and the amount of time and energy required to get from point A to point B, the idea of LGMs getting their kicks by ruining somebody’s wheat crop gets impossibly remote. Then there’s the question of “why *here*?” We’ve only started making noise in the radio and TV bands in the last century, so anyone more than a hundred light years out wouldn’t know about us based on that. Anyone analyzing Earth’s atmosphere would see water vapor, oxygen, etc., which would imply life, but whether that would make it worth the trip is an open issue.

  90. Gus Snarp

    I have to say, I don’t see how anyone can look at Jupiter or Venus and think they are anything more unusual than a bright star. I saw Jupiter recently and thought, wow, that star is awfully bright. But it’s not Venus, since it’s in the east at night, so I bet it’s Jupiter. One trip to Wolfram Alpha for the current sky chart and my suspicions were confirmed. I know this is a bit more knowledge than some people have about the sky, but surely, “wow that’s a bright star.” Shouldn’t be beyond anyone’s grasp. How do people think these are UFOs?

  91. Toothygrin

    I rather admit that I saw Jupiter a couple of weeks ago and thought, “OOOh! Is that a nova??!” I would love to see a naked-eye-visible nova/supernova in my lifetime. I was rather hoping it was that. Alas, a little suspicion and Googling shed the light: Jupiter, not dying star, was the light that caught my eye.

    I continue to wait..

  92. jfb:

    . Then there’s the question of “why *here*?” We’ve only started making noise in the radio and TV bands in the last century, so anyone more than a hundred light years out wouldn’t know about us based on that. Anyone analyzing Earth’s atmosphere would see water vapor, oxygen, etc., which would imply life, but whether that would make it worth the trip is an open issue.

    Do you think it’s “worth the trip” to Europa to investigate the possibility of life on its oceans? True, it’s just a short stint across our neighborhood. But if you had the technology for interstellar travel, how far would you go before it’s not “worth the trip”?

  93. Brian

    I got an Orion xt8 earlier this year and finally pulled it out ot view Jupiter. WOW. Even from my crappy, light polluted, location in the Houston suburbs I could see the cloud bands and the 4 Galilean moons.

    For added coolness one of the moons was actually in front of Jupiter and I could clearly make out it’s shadow on the planet.

    P.S. – I did not see any UFOs.

  94. Ross

    People get so defensive.

    When someone gets actual certifiable proof of alien life we’ll all be happy to look at it, and we’ll all duck our heads in shame so you can feel superior for having told us so.

    Until then I think a lot of us prefer to be like Black Thought and deal with the real (or verifiable if you prefer).

  95. Jeff

    Eric: “It is true: 95% of UFO sightings are easily explained by trained observers. However, the other 5% go unexplained”

    That is true, but that by no means can be concluded that those “unexplained” are flying saucers. No way. In fact, it is far more likely that they were just other stuff like planets, satellites, planes, clouds.

    This UFO stuff is always been bunk, and always will be. I am as positive there are no UFOs as I am I am on planet Earth.

  96. Ross (#94) says:

    People get so defensive.

    That’s because they have nothing else but indignation upon which to prop their fantasies.

    Over and over again, it’s the same thing. No evidence of anything, and a small percentage of cases in which the observation cannot be identified. But, as has been stated so many times here, a sighting that remains unidentified does not automatically drop into the “must be an alien space ship” category. Or the “pandimensional whoozeewhatzit” category, or any other category other than “unidentified.”

    And that just rankles the nutters to their nutty core.

  97. mike burkhart

    I think I’ve said that some ufos may be top secret aircraft, It may sound farfetched but when you read aircraft history it sounds plauseable . After all the goverment keept the :SR71,F117, and the B2 a secret for many years ( in fact I think the numerious reports of triangle ufos over Europe in the late 1980s were F117s being deployed to NATO airbases) as for the “flying saucers” I have found the Air Force was exparmenting with saucer shaped aircraft and may still be . I know some may disagree and I think it may not be the whole answer but its one that might explain many ufo reports . off topic for halloween I mention Jason X , I have to say slaser movies are hard on skeptics there is allways one man or woman who thinks there nothing going on ,the killer died years ago and can’t be walking around, ect then runing into the killer and geting it . Phil must hate slasher movies.

  98. jfb

    @Ken B.

    No matter how technologically advanced a civilization may be, they are going to be limited by the amount of energy available to them. The energy requirements for interstellar travel are going to be *immense*, and no amount of advanced technology is going to make that go away. We may not know everything, but E=mc^2 appears to hold true for everybody.

    Per Wikipedia, accelerating one ton to 0.1c requires 4.5 x 10^17 J, or about 125 *billion* kWh. A real mission would require a significant fraction of the total world energy output. And that’s for simple reaction drives; more exotic tech like wormholes or warp drives would require even more energy. Either way, you have to be able to carry that energy with you, and a few grams of antimatter aren’t going to do it.

    An interstellar mission would only be “worth the trip” if you could somehow recoup that energy cost at the destination.

    I can see firing a bunch of unmanned, sublight probes one way to do a quick flyby. If you’re lucky, they’ll still be working by the time they reach their destination, and if you’re *really* lucky, somebody will still be listening back home for the data they return.

  99. wetchet

    I once saw an unidentified object, though it was not flying. I was driving home late one night (about 2 am), after a long, long day of software debugging. As I drove under a freeway overpass, I was absolutely shocked to see what appeared to be a human body hanging, presumably hanged by the neck. I was so started, and so convinced, that I actually called 911 from my cell phone to report it; I told them I saw “something big” hanging from the overpass…I didn’t have the guts to say what I thought it was. I exited the next freeway ramp and doubled back so I could do another pass and get a better look this time. Know what I saw? Literally nothing. Well, I did kind of notice the lights from the overpass being oddly refracted off my filthy windshield…but certainly nothing as unusual as a human body hanging by the neck. My wife still teases me for this one, and almost always mentions it when I’m driving late at night.

    –Chet

  100. Rory

    @ Nigel Depledge
    October 4th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I was not going to bother replying to you because you are a typical example of the what deters serious discussion on this subject.

    You think that you know or have all the answers even though you do not have the facts on which you base your arrogance and ridicule on.

    <>

    Wrong! The subject is made to look ridiculous because of certain unfounded / unproven claims by ‘Believers’ and by ridicule, such as you and likewise ignorant ‘Deniers’ enter into and bring to such discussions. The latter group knows just as little about what they are talking about as the former group. Neither group can claim or prove either one thing or the other as a fact. So, your side, which is equally as silly as the other which you like to describe as “Nuts”etc. etc. tries to bully, shout down, demean and rubbish the other group. A belief that you are right and that they are wrong is all that you can bring to the discussion….no proof, no facts, no evidence either, no proper study or investigation! Do you not realise this and that your attitude and remarks does not lend to furthering a discussion on the subject that if even possibly true, should be of interest to us all.

    The subject that I refer to are the cases for which there is substantial evidence, are well founded and documented, but remain unacknowledged and uninvestigated by the mainstream scientific community. You don’t need me or anyone else to detail or point out to you the cases that are worthy of further investigation. If you know so much about the subject on which you pontificate (which I very much doubt) you will be aware of the very interesting outstanding incidents or cases that remain unexplained by means currently available to us.

    If you are not aware of such cases you need to do your own homework and enlighten yourself on the subject and not expect or rely on others to do the work for you. Certainly, you should not be name-calling or trying to belittle those that may know what they are talking about when you yourself remain ignorant on the matter.

    <>

    Playing with words a bit here. It is either known or unknown. Possibly you are trying to infer that
    everything is really known, but just could not be suitably identified at that moment……Possibly, but not necessarily the case. After all, we don’t yet know everything – do we!

    <>

    Or, that what was seen just does not fit anything within our knowledge structure or that is known to us at this time and by which we could identify it! Something we possibly have no references for our minds to work from in identifying whatever the observed object was.

    <>

    Further proof of your mode of debate and discussion. Besides the fact, that I have not come down on one side or the other and was suggesting that the subject warrants serious scientific investigation to ascertain the truth on the matter. So, in your eyes that is also to be ridiculed and justifies your derogatory remarks! Nice!

    <>

    I called the newspapers!!! What are you talking about? You obviously do not practice what you preach in being rational, or using critical thought to arrive at your own irrational conclusions. What newspaper did I call????

    <>

    There you go advertising your pomposity and arrogance once again. I can only say that you are obviously speaking from your own ignorance on the subject and again endeavouring to silence those that may not think or agree with what is basically your ego-based powered “belief”. I say that because it appears not be based on any intelligent insight, study or investigation into the subject that you have undertaken to attack without warrant, or am I wrong in thinking that? I am not talking here about all the UFOs that a very few might believe are not of this world. Your knocking and attacks are against all and everyone that wishes to debate or discuss the subject from a viewpoint that you do not share. So, why all the aggression and name-calling? Do you really believe that this type of behaviour makes you more correct or adds any right or valuable importance to your own belief system! I think not!

    <>

    ?? Dude!! Touchy, before I have even responded to you. Anyway, you are probably telepathic into the bargain Lol!

    ” You fail to inform your readers or fans that many reported UFO sighting happen during the day. ”

    <>

    Do your research, because once again you are only proving that you know little about that which you so knowingly and pompously pontificate on

    “Besides which, if astronomers saw one of these as yet unexplained UFOs below earth’s atmosphere,”

    <>

    Your lack of knowledge on the subject is actually insightful. UFOs like many flying things can have connections to land or water. Planes take off and land as have some of the reported UFOs. Others have been reported to have entered the sea or lakes and others to have emerged from same. Of course astronomers could not miss these incidents …..could they! You would say that it either all rubbish / untrue or that it was definitely Venus, the moon or Jupiter that was being witnessed…..Of course you are correct!

    ” they would be as perplexed as any of the witnesses that have seen such objects and also be unable to rationally (within their own references) explain what they saw.”

    << I dareasay most of them could explain it easily enough – what they might not be able to do is identify what they saw. And this happens to amateur astronomers all the time. They just don’t make a song and dance about it because, for the most part, they know that it doesn’t mean anything. "

    How can they know if they see something that they cannot explain or identify, that they know that it does not mean anything?? Besides being an illogical deduction to make – how unscientific and non-investigative can that be! Do you really mean what you wrote here?

    " UFOs sightings that have so far failed to be rationally explained"

    <>

    No I don’t. I was referring to those case of observed objects that behaved in a way that is not known and rationally understood, as they appear to contradict our beliefs of what is considered technologically rational and should be knowable.

    <>

    Unfortunately for you this is not necessarily true. In some cases they actually do identify what they have seen (or if you like, purported to have seen) and describe the object(s) and flight patterns in detail. Their descriptions do not fit anything known to us or the technology that we have at the present moment. Unless of course there are highly classified black op inventions and discoveries that can explain away some sightings, but for some reasons the powers that be have not thought it correct to share with the rest of mankind! Which in itself if true would raise a lot of awkward questions re. climate change and the continued burning of fossil fuels etc. and lend itself to another equally interesting and more down to earth debate.

    ” have also occurred during daylight hours and were not mistaken for any of the astronomical or worldly objects that you always try to push as the one and only explanation. ”

    <>

    C’mon Nigel, stop fooling yourself! I suppose that Venus and the moon have also been tracked on radar flying across our skies and necessitated scrambling fighter jets to intercept them :-)

    “Everyone knows that most sightings can and are explained by reasonably mundane things and do not represent anything extraordinary. However, not all can be so explained and some cases if the investigated reports are correct, are something else entirely that is beyond our present understanding of aeronautics etc.,”

    <>

    No, not at all. I am making the case for proper scientific study to be done into these cases to ascertain the truth of the matter. You keep attempting to block or undermine by ridicule the idea that this should take place. Don’t suggest that it would be a waste of money as we both know how much money vanishes into ‘black ops’ system, or is criminally squandered in unnecessary wars of great destruction, death and suffering.

    <>

    Listen, I have heard (had to put up with) many top scientists and Astronomers over the years dictating where and how life could form or exist on other planets and always failing to add “life as we know it” or as they were brainwashed into accepting. These people like many still today were caught up in their own information/ belief bubble and unable to easily adapt or change their beliefs.

    If on the clock of time man reached his current technological development at say 5 seconds to 24.00 how more developed would an alien intelligence be that got to our position 1, 2, 3 or 4 hrs to 24.00? What if there are civilisations (speculation) that are 24 hrs ahead of us! Do you think that societies here on earth 200 or 300 years ago would have been able to understand, explain or describe one of our advanced aircraft or flightless drones if they witnessed it flying overhead; not to mention TV, Ipods etc. What would have appeared impossible to these people just over a hundred years ago based on their knowledge / rational, is probably similar to how we would feel and look at developments that will occur in the next few hundred years here on this planet. We have no idea how advanced a more technologically developed civilisation could be and we certainly should not be restricting or dictating what they can or cannot do or achieve based on our own formal beginnings in learning about the universe and what is and is not possible. To pretend that we do I believe, would be the height of stupidity and a demonstration of sheer arrogance on our part.

    I am not here to try to prove anything to anyone and particularly not to you. The truth should speak for itself. I addressed my posts to Phil Plait because I objected to the article that he wrote and the false impressions, misinformation, disinformation that he set out therein. It is he that I would expect a response from. You attempted to nit-pick unsuccessfully some of the points that I had made and left the more important / salient points alone – interesting! But at least you tried and did respond. Thank you for that.

    Other than what I originally wrote concerning my full support for serious well-funded main stream scientific investigation to be undertaken into the subject of the well documented unexplained UFO cases, I have nothing further to add. Nor have I any intention or wish to enter or be drawn into useless debate that ends up in name-calling and deviation from the reason and main purpose that I have written here.

    Stay cool and keep the eyes and ears open.

  101. Brian

    Does anyone else think the believers have a lot of free time on their hands? I’m getting repetitive stress in my index finger from scrolling past those posts.

  102. Further proof of your mode of debate and discussion. Besides the fact, that I have not come down on one side or the other and was suggesting that the subject warrants serious scientific investigation to ascertain the truth on the matter. So, in your eyes that is also to be ridiculed and justifies your derogatory remarks! Nice!

    Rory is not a stranger to this blog, nor do his views on this subject stray from the woo side, as is evidenced by many previous posts. So offhand, I’d say Nigel had quite enough evidence to go with the identification he did.

    No, not at all. I am making the case for proper scientific study to be done into these cases to ascertain the truth of the matter.

    This is a common statement, trotted out routinely by nutters. So what’s stopping them from conducting their own scientific studies? Just above, Rory excoriated Nigel for not doing his homework, why can’t the same be said for himself? If you want a scientific study…go and ahead and perform one!

    Oh, but of course, there’s not much to study, is there? Not much that isn’t hidden by the bad government.

    If on the clock of time man reached his current technological development at say 5 seconds to 24.00 how more developed would an alien intelligence be that got to our position 1, 2, 3 or 4 hrs to 24.00? What if there are civilisations (speculation) that are 24 hrs ahead of us!

    Another common “argument.” But it is utterly without merit.

    You can just as easily assume, and perhaps it is more likely to assume, that any intelligent being on another planet that got started earlier than humans would have destroyed itself by now. The history of the one intelligent species that we know anything about strongly suggests this possibility. Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for only a hundred thousand years or so. High technology has been around a few centuries. Yet in that amount of time we’ve managed to seriously soil our nest and very likely create a climate situation that could likely result in a drastic die-back. On the other hand, non-intelligent species are known to have happily survived for hundreds of millions of years. They’d still be around today, if a handy asteroid hadn’t smacked the earth.

    Nor have I any intention or wish to enter or be drawn into useless debate that ends up in name-calling and deviation from the reason and main purpose that I have written here.

    Your previous appearances here, to the contrary.

  103. [b]58. Gunnar Says:
    October 3rd, 2010 at 6:13 pm
    As for stationary objects seeming to move around, try looking up “autokinesis” or “autokinetic effect” using any readily available internet search engine.[/b]

    I am educated enough to differentiate “autokinesis” from Aliens Mothership in the night sky. If you read my article [b]”Aliens live in our Earth’s atmosphere” you will see the difference..[/b]

  104. Hey, Ilya, I couldn’t help but notice in your wacky article you didn’t offer up one stitch of evidence in support of your opinions.

    Nice fantasy.

  105. To kuhnigget,
    Hundreds of people saw Aliens Motherships the way how I described them in my article.
    1. Last year I was in Manhattan 25 times to show people real Aliens Motherships in the night sky.I did that in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklin, NJ etc. See pictures of those people on my UFO sighting.
    2. You can visit my area and I personally guide you to see them.
    3. Or if you live far away from my area you can call me and by phone I navigate you to spot UFOs.

  106. Ilya, photographs of people looking up into the sky and pointing are not evidence of alien space ships. I can show you photos of people who think a crusty stain on a piece of toast is Jesus. Some people are just stupid that way.

    You can show these people all the invisible ufos you want, but that still does not constitute evidence for what you are imagining.

    Again, lovely fantasy life you seem to have going. Enjoy it.

  107. To kuhnigget,
    that is why for people who don’t believe in these photos, I offered you option 2 and 3 and you completly ignore them.

  108. Richard

    I am a U.S. Air Force Pilot. I have seen so-called UFOs on several occasions. I know 5 other professional pilots who have seen them as well. It is my opinion that the technology responsible for the performance of some of these UFOs is extra-terrestrial. I have witnessed, and tracked with my radar, an unknown craft travelling in excess of 20,000 miles per hour, somehow coming to a complete stop and then disappearing into space.

    Edgar Mitchell is an American Hero, not a crackpot. Gordon Cooper is an American Hero, not a crackpot. They, like many others, have put their reputations on the line in an effort to inform us; I know I wouldn’t. Would you? People like Nigel, who waste their time nick-picking and belittling the comments of others, serve to keep the blanket of ridicule over this issue. He spent all that time looking up exact numbers and bringing up this and that about Edgar Mitchell as an individual and it does not change the fact that he is an American Astronaut on record saying that some UFOs are ET spacecraft. To people like Nigel, I say wait until you see one with your own eyes. Until then, listen to the professionals who have spent their lives the sky and space that have the courage to give us a hint to what is really going on.

  109. @ richard:

    it does not change the fact that he is an American Astronaut on record saying that some UFOs are ET spacecraft.

    You are utterly missing Nigel’s oft-repeated point. It does not matter one whit who or what Edgar Mitchell is. If he has nothing to offer other than his own opinion, then his statements are no better or worse than anybody else’s statements. When he conjures up some actual evidence, things might change. But he hasn’t done that yet, has he?

    @ Ilya:

    that is why for people who don’t believe in these photos, I offered you option 2 and 3 and you completly ignore them.

    “don’t believe in these photos” .. uh, Ilya, I “believe” you have photos of people pointing into the sky. What does this prove? That you took photographs of people pointing into the sky!

    As for me coming to visit you so you can show me some of those invisible spaceships, uh, I’ll pass. I can see plenty of invisible spaceships from my own back yard. They tend to be piloted by invisible pink elephants.

    Gosh, evidence is so easy to accumulate when you can’t see it!

  110. Are the planets significantly bigger in the Northern Hemisphere or something? From down here in post-BadUniverse-apocalypse Sydney I fail to see how anybody could mistake those tiny specks (from the perspective of the naked eye) that are stars/planets for being alien spacecraft.

  111. @ Bastard Sheep:

    Ah-ha! the nutters will argue. That’s just it, innit? They aren’t mistaking planets for spacecraft, it is the skeptics who are mistaking spacecraft for planets!

  112. Richard

    @kuhnigget:

    The “oft-repeated point” is clearly understood. If Dr. Mitchell had such profound evidence we would not be having this conversation. But, this is not a science experiment. This is a VERY complicated issue. What those who are so quick to drop the “where’s the evidence” card forget is that a person’s testimony can be a death sentence for another person in a court of law. Why should we be so quick to dismiss the testimony of any reputable person just because it is with regard to the UFO phenomenon? Especially the professionals who are most likely to come in contact with it? There are dozens who have come forward to share their experience. Are they all lying? Maybe we should let Nigel determine that for us with his thorough background checks. Here’s an example of testimony with hard data to back-up:

    John Callahan, Former FAA Division Chief, has produced radar print-outs and video of a radar scope showing an intermittent primary target in the location where the captain of Japan Airlines flight 1628 had reported unidentified objects while at 35,000 ft. over Alaska on November 17, 1986. Captain Kenju Tarauchi reported one of these objects was twice the size of an aircraft carrier, flying just hundreds of feet from his 747 and making maneuvers that are “impossible for any manmade machine to make.”

    Sources: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_w1OPgoR5M
    http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1317.htm

    “But who do you tell that you were involved in a UFO incident without them looking at you like you ain’t wrapped to tight” – John Callahan

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Ken B (92) said:

    But if you had the technology for interstellar travel, how far would you go before it’s not “worth the trip”?

    This is an interesting question.

    How would you go about answering it?

    To my way of thinking, there are too many unknowns in it.

    How far do “they” have to travel to come here? What sort of technology are they using? E.g. if generation-ship technology, then they would have to be pretty certain of getting somewhere they could colonise before setting out, but if they have cracked some of the huge challenges and made interstellar travel fast (i.e. some sort of supralight warp drive style of thing), then they might conduct scientific expeditions. Then again, we have many people here on Earth decrying the cost of maintaining an orbiting manned space station just 300 km up (or thereabouts), so interstellar travel would have to become much, much cheaper to be routine (the frequency of claimed sightings and the brevity of the alleged visits indicates that if ET is visiting, it is as a routine trip, not some massive expedition).

    So, if interstellar travel is fast and cheap, it might be worth going about 200 or so light-years to look for life-bearing planets. However, if interstellar travel is fast but expensive (and, as far as we can tell, it would be a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive than Apollo), then it might only be worth going 30 – 40 light-years or so, and only going once. Then again, if interstellar travel is slow and expensive (i.e. using technology that we can actually imagine developing!), it might not be worth going more than about 5 – 10 light-years.

  114. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Burkhart (97) said:

    I think I’ve said that some ufos may be top secret aircraft, It may sound farfetched but when you read aircraft history it sounds plauseable . After all the goverment keept the :SR71,F117, and the B2 a secret for many years ( in fact I think the numerious reports of triangle ufos over Europe in the late 1980s were F117s being deployed to NATO airbases) as for the “flying saucers” I have found the Air Force was exparmenting with saucer shaped aircraft and may still be . I know some may disagree and I think it may not be the whole answer but its one that might explain many ufo reports

    Yup. Entirely plausible. I don’t know if the USAF is still experimenting with saucer-shaped planes, but I, too, have read that they once did. I’d be surprised if they still were, because the initial results – IIUC – were not promising, but since when has the USAF worried about how many tax dollars they spend on projects that go nowhere? However, you are right to remind us all of the SR-71, F117 and B2.

    And many times more plausible than “alien spaceships”.

  115. Nigel Depledge

    @ JFB (98) –
    Good point.

  116. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    @ Nigel Depledge
    October 4th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I was not going to bother replying to you because you are a typical example of the what deters serious discussion on this subject.

    You think that you know or have all the answers even though you do not have the facts on which you base your arrogance and ridicule on.

    You are so bloody typical of the UFOnuts, you haven’t even bothered to read what I wrote. Either that or you are trying to respond without taking the trouble to understand.

    Go back and re-read my posts.

    The point I made over and over again (but obviously not enough to get into your head) was that reports of unidentified objects do not justify any conclusions at all.

    However, if we must posit an explanation (and why must we?) for the unidentified reports…

    While I grant that “alien spaceships” may be possible, that is irrelevant. From what we know of the universe, we can reliably conclude that they are hugely improbable as an explanation for the reports that remain unidentified. The explanations that are orders of magnitude more likely are that the observer misunderstood what they saw or mis-reported what they saw (yes, even assuming they report in perfectly good faith – the human perceptual system is astonishingly good at fooling itself, especially when observing something unfamiliar).

    We know that humans make lousy observers of the unfamiliar. We know that many terrestrial, atmospheric and celestial phenomena exist, and that many of these are reported as UFOs. We have no evidence for any ET life, let alone ET life that is capable of defying the laws of physics as we know them.

    The only conclusion justified by the data is “some guy saw something he couldn’t identify”.

  117. Nigel Depledge

    To expand on my preceding comment…

    Serious discussion of the topic ends as soon as someone insists that aliens spaceship be considered seriously as an explanation for sightings of unidentified objects.

    It is not arrogance to insist that we don’t consider this – it is merely parsimonious. Arrogance is when a person insists that an implausible explanation – alien spaceships – be considered as equally probable as that the witness misunderstood what they saw or mis-described it.

  118. Messier Tidy Upper

    @91. Toothygrin Says:

    I rather admit that I saw Jupiter a couple of weeks ago and thought, “OOOh! Is that a nova??!” I would love to see a naked-eye-visible nova/supernova in my lifetime. I was rather hoping it was that. Alas, a little suspicion and Googling shed the light: Jupiter, not dying star, was the light that caught my eye.

    Well it *is* 2010 and we all know what is supposed to happen to Jupiter this year don’t we? So-ooo… ;-)

    (Hint, if you don’t know then look up Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey novels.)

    @108. Richard Says:

    Edgar Mitchell is an American Hero, not a crackpot. Gordon Cooper is an American Hero, not a crackpot. They, like many others, have put their reputations on the line in an effort to inform us;

    Did you read the links I provided for you at comment # 74 above? Please do so.

    I agree that Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper are American heroes – I admire them for their respective Apollo 14 and Mercury & Gemini flights too.

    However, please note that even American heroes for all their heroism can be wrong sometimes and this is one of those occassions I’d say. More importantly still, even American heroes also need to back up any extraordinary claims they make with extraordinary evidence.

  119. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    Wrong! The subject is made to look ridiculous because of certain unfounded / unproven claims by ‘Believers’ and by ridicule, such as you and likewise ignorant ‘Deniers’ enter into and bring to such discussions.

    Sceptics don’t deny that alien spaceships might exist. What we deny is:
    (1) that reports of unidentified objects that remain unidentified constitute evidence of alien sapceships; and
    (2) that “alien spaceships” is an equally plausible explanation alongside the failure to identify a mundane phenomenon.

    And we deny these with good reason, for they are unreasonable.

    Most sceptics would dearly love for alien spaceships to actually exist. But we’re not going to believe in them without some actual evidence. To date, there is not one shred of evidence that alien spaceships exist at all.

    The latter group knows just as little about what they are talking about as the former group.

    You’re wrong again.

    Sceptics know several facts about the universe, among them that (1) the human perceptual system is deeply flawed, (2) known phenomena are frequently reported as UFOs, and (3) there is no evidence to support the contention that aliens visit the Earth.

    Sceptics also know that it takes but a little logical thought to arrive at the conclusion “we really don’t know what was seen” – and that this is the only conclusion that is supported by the available evidence. This is where most sceptics arrive when considering the tiny proportion of UFO reports that have not subsequently been identified.

    Neither group can claim or prove either one thing or the other as a fact.

    Obviously. But between utter ignorance and demonstrated fact there is likelihood, something of which you appear ignorant. What you fail to realise is that we can make perfectly reasonable estimates of the likelihood of any proposed explanation being correct. And, based on this combination of fact, reason and judgement, the “alien spaceships” contention is simply implausible.

    So, your side, which is equally as silly as the other which you like to describe as “Nuts”etc. etc.

    Not so. The arguments that I and others have made in this thread are supported by both facts and logic – this is the opposite of “silly”. If nothing else, you are proving to the world that you deserve the label “UFO nut” by your refusal to accept the points that have been made, and your attempts to use strawman arguments to rebut them.

    tries to bully, shout down, demean and rubbish the other group.

    No. I am not bullying anyone. But when you make an argument that is obviously ridiculous – based on both the evidence pertaining to the case and our knowledge of the universe in a more general sense – I will ridicule it.

    Of course, in principle, a reported sighting could be an alien spaceship. But we have no reason to base a conclusion on the following assumptions that you build into that claim:
    (1) that alien life exists;
    (2) that alien intelligence exists;
    (3) that this alien intelligence is technological;
    (4) that the alien technology is so superior to our own that (a) interstellar travel is cheap and routine, and (b) that the alleged alien spaceships do not show up on the radar we use to track space debris, but do – very occasionally – show up on ATC or military radar;
    (5) that the aliens wish to avoid alerting us to their presence;
    (6) that they are sufficinetly incompetent that, despite having travelled however many light-years to get here and evaded almost all of our radar systems, they go and blow it by allowing people to see the running lights on their spaceship (or, as is claimed in some cases, the ship itself).

    Are you trying to tell me that a conclusion based on these assumptions is reasonable?

    And you wonder why we use the term “UFO nut”?

    A belief that you are right and that they are wrong is all that you can bring to the discussion…

    Utter rubbish!

    What has been shown by the sceptics in this thread – and others before it – is reason. I am open to being proved wrong by both reasoned argument and physical evidence. The UFOnuts – so far – have done neither. The insistence that “alien spaceships” be considered as a plausible explanation is simply illogical, unreasonable and irrational (and therefore, sadly, entirely human!).

    .no proof,

    Since it is, a priori, impossible to prove that aliens do not exist, what proof would you accept?

    no facts,

    Apart from humanity’s existing knowledge of how the universe works, you mean?

    no evidence either,

    Why do we need additional evidence to support the contention “you are drawing a conclusion that is (a) not supported by any data, and (b) pretty damn far-fetched,”?

    Show me !

    Show me that the “alien spaceships” conclusion isn’t far-fetched, and I will accept it as a plausible option.

    Show me evidence that alien spaceships capabale of routine interstellar travel exist, and I will accept that they might visit the Earth.

    no proper study or investigation!

    Again, you make the claim, the burden of proof is on you – show me that there is a phenomenon worthy of investigation here! Show me that there is something to study!

    So far you have nothing but dreams and delusions.

    Do you not realise this and that your attitude and remarks does not lend to furthering a discussion on the subject that if even possibly true, should be of interest to us all.

    When there exists no evidence, all discussion is idle speculation. I prefer my speculation to be based on stuff that we know, not on stuff that we wish were true. Hence the discispline of astrobiology. Real biologists are studying – and speculating about – what life might be like elsewhere. But what they do is founded in reality. It is founded on what we know, and on reasonable extrapolations from what we know.

    As I have said before and, since you seem determined to ignore it, I will probably say again, the only conclusion that is supported by UFO sightings is “people see stuff in the sky that they cannot identify”.

  120. flip

    Rory troll is trolling. And boring.

    No wonder Phil never wrote back, who has the time to deal with all that straw?

  121. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    The subject that I refer to are the cases for which there is substantial evidence,

    Evidence such as what?

    Bits of alien spaceships? Or biological materials containing alien DNA, perhaps?

    If all you refer to are unsubstantiated reports, then you need to consider what the word “evidence” actually means. Eyewitness reports are not evidence of anything. The human perceptual system is too unreliable to use that alone for drawing conclusions.

    are well founded

    Well-founded in what?

    and documented,

    Writing down an anecdote does not make it any more reliable.

    but remain unacknowledged and uninvestigated by the mainstream scientific community.

    What is there to investigate? The local newspapers seem to do all that can be done.

    What experiments would you suggest we do to determine the veracity or otherwise of the reports made by Joe Hick from Hicksville? What observations can be replicated? Where would you suggest the astronomers should point their telescopes to confirm or deny that alien spaceships visit the Earth?

    You don’t need me or anyone else to detail or point out to you the cases that are worthy of further investigation.

    SO, having made the claim, you would back out from substantiating it?

    If you know so much about the subject on which you pontificate (which I very much doubt) you will be aware of the very interesting outstanding incidents or cases that remain unexplained by means currently available to us.

    I don’t need to know very much to make a perfectly reasonable argument that the “alien spaceships” conclusion is implausible.

    In fact, I need only to know three things:
    (1) The hunman perceptual system is deeply flawed;
    (2) Many known phenomena are reported as UFOs by people to whom they are unfamiliar; and
    (3) Routine, facile interstellar travel is improbable.

    Based on these three facts, it is simple to reach the conslusion that, as an explanation for UFO sightings, “alien spaceships” is implausible.

    And I have no need to pontificate.

    If you are not aware of such cases you need to do your own homework and enlighten yourself on the subject and not expect or rely on others to do the work for you. Certainly, you should not be name-calling or trying to belittle those that may know what they are talking about when you yourself remain ignorant on the matter.

    You obviously don’t get it – the details of individual cases don’t matter at all.*

    Until there is actual evidence that alien spaceships exist at all, the only conclusion that can be drawn is still “some guy saw something he couldn’t identify”.

    * To clarify – the details of individual cases may help us to identify what was seen. However, for the small percentage of cases where even a thorough study of all available reports does not result in a positive identification, the details don’t matter. It is these cases that the UFO nuts claim as evidence of alien spaceships, and they are evidence of precisely nothing.

  122. Gunnar

    @Rory

    Nigel Depledge’s arguments are perfectly sound, and I agree with him that you apparently did not take the trouble to understand what he was saying. He was NOT saying that it is absolutely impossible that any of the UFOs could be alien spacecraft. He was correctly pointing out that as long as they remain “UFOs” (that is, not positively and incontrovertibly identified as alien spacecraft), almost any imaginable explanation for them is many orders of magnitude more probable than that they are actually alien, interstellar spacecraft!

  123. Messier Tidy Upper

    @116. Nigel Depledge Says:

    It is not arrogance to insist that we don’t consider this – it is merely parsimonious. Arrogance is when a person insists that an implausible explanation – alien spaceships – be considered as equally probable as that the witness misunderstood what they saw or mis-described it.

    ^^^ THIS!
    (Thirding the soundness of Nigel Depledge’s arguements here.)

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    – Carl Sagan.

    Not blurry, fuzzy photos or video of odd lights that may or may not be anything.

    Not anecdotes or wild conspiracy theory claims.

    Not unreliable eyewitness accounts that we know can be fooled as human eyes, minds and senses often are.

    For examples : Remember all those Martian canals that, alas, turned out not to be – yet Percieval Lowell among others swore until his dying day that he really saw? Recall the false “recovered memory” scandals or the personal eyewitness testimony that got innocent women burnt at the stake as “witches” in darker realms of our history? Remember optical illusions, magic tricks, mirages and the way you often can’t find something that’s right under your eyes until someone else points it out for you?

    Real, firm, conclusive, tangible evidence that is clear and unambiguous and extraordinary. That would be convincing.

    That’s what the Flying Saucer crew consistently fail to provide us. Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper didn’t offer any. I don’t see any other UFO believer offering any.

    If they did then I’d have to believe them.

    Until they do, we have to consider extraordinary claims are just too extraordinary to be remotely likely & instead prefer more reasonable, logical, sensible, parsiminoius explanations for any unidentified objects in the sky.

    I could be wrong. ;-)

    I’d *love* to be proved wrong. 8)

    But in order to prove me & other non beleivers in the “UFOs = alien spacecraft” proposition wrong, well guess what you’d need to provide … (All chant together now.)

    EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE!

    Do you grok it now?

  124. jeff

    rory”:

    “How can they know if they see something that they cannot explain or identify, that they know that it does not mean anything?? Besides being an illogical deduction to make – how unscientific and non-investigative can that be! Do you really mean what you wrote here?”

    well, we can be more scientific about this.

    let’s put unexplained into two categories (a) hypothesis 1: they are aliens
    (b)H2 (hypothesis 2) they are other stuff here on earth.

    Now we evaluate the liklihood of these two hypotheses to explain the evidence.

    liklihood of H1: 0.000000001%

    liklihood of H2: 99.999999999%

    any true analysis would yield about the above %. The only reason you think say H1 is 50% and H2 is 50% is because your own mind/fantasies are tricking you into biasing the % scores beyond reason.

    Case closed: UFOs are BUNK!!!!!!!!!

    i taught physics/astronomy 30 years and know exactly of what I speak. And all those authors who make a living off writing UFO books do this biasing because it is in their own financial interests to do so, and a gullible public willing to buy this bunk.

    There may be life in space, there might not be, but there are no UFOs on earth.

  125. Gunnar

    I think it was Isaac Asimov who once pointed out that if sentient, technologically advanced lifeforms were common and numerous in our galaxy, it is highly unlikely that we would be regarded as remarkable enough to warrant as much attention as many UFO enthusiasts claim or imply that we are receiving. On the other hand, if such lifeforms are extremely rare, it is highly unlikely that any of them would have yet discovered us, given that only those within a radius of 100 light years or so from us could possibly have detected our electromagnetic signals so far.

  126. Gunnar

    @jeff

    “but there are no UFOs on earth.”

    That is going too far, and is demonstrably false. It is no mistake to believe in or claim that there are UFOs. The fallacy lies in the too common insistence that alien spaceships is a plausible explanation for them, let alone the most plausible explanation.

  127. Nigel Depledge

    @ Gunnar & MTU –

    Thanks for the votes of confidence, guys!

  128. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    < >

    Playing with words a bit here. It is either known or unknown. Possibly you are trying to infer that
    everything is really known, but just could not be suitably identified at that moment……Possibly, but not necessarily the case. After all, we don’t yet know everything – do we!

    This actually illustrates that the difficulty is with your reading comprehension – although it could be that my text was confusing!

    To elaborate on what I said:

    If we take an example, Bob Bobson seeing a bright light in the rear-view mirror of his pickup truck while driving east about an hour after sunset. It’s a winding rural road, so he makes many turns, and the light follows him – every time he looks in his mirror, there it is, just as close as it was the first time!

    Now, from the data I have given above, I can imagine any number of amateur astronomers crying “Venus! Bob, it’s Venus!”

    However, imagine that Bob had not made a note of what direction he was travelling, or – if he drove all through the night – he didn’t make a note of what time he saw it. Then there isn’t enough information to make a positive ID of the object. It becomes one of the “x%” of reports that cannot be positively identified.

    That doesn’t change the fact that Bob saw Venus in his rear-view mirror, does it?

    Ergo, those cases where there isn’t enough information to make a positive ID of the object that was reported can still be known objects or phenomena. They just aren’t described in enough detail for anyone to identify them for sure. So, no, it isn’t merely playing with words. It is an important point.

    And, although you are right to point out that we don’t know everything, we do know a lot of stuff. Since we know that all of the UFO reports where we have a positive ID are known phenomena, it is perfectly reasonable to posit that a significant proportion of the still-unidentified sightings are known phenomena, just described in too little detail – or with too many factual errors (for instance, if Bob had said he was driving west just after sunset and saw the light in his mirror, but got that wrong and had actually been driving east, we would have wrongly ruled out Venus as the object he saw) – to make a positive ID.

    Even if one of the x% of reported sightings is an entirely unknown phenomenon, it is still far more likely to be a hitherto-unknown terrestrial phenomenon than an alien spaceship. Go and look up Sprites on wikipedia.

  129. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    < >

    Or, that what was seen just does not fit anything within our knowledge structure or that is known to us at this time and by which we could identify it! Something we possibly have no references for our minds to work from in identifying whatever the observed object was.

    The set of {what you said} is a subset of {what I said}. And probably a very, very small one.

  130. @ Richard:

    But, this is not a science experiment. This is a VERY complicated issue. What those who are so quick to drop the “where’s the evidence” card forget is that a person’s testimony can be a death sentence for another person in a court of law. Why should we be so quick to dismiss the testimony of any reputable person just because it is with regard to the UFO phenomenon?

    Oh, so just because it’s about space aliens, suddenly the rules don’t apply? Sorry, but if ufo nuts want their phenomena to be “real”, then they have to play by the rules of people who study reality. This isn’t a court of law. Scientists don’t play by the rules of a lawyer. There are no “character witnesses”. Just observable, testable, verifiable evidence.

    You want to prove UFOs are spaceships? PROVIDE SOME EVIDENCE, NOT OPINIONS. And for the nth time, it doesn’t matter if someone used to be an astronaut, without evidence to back it up, their opinion is no better than yours or mine.

  131. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    < >

    Further proof of your mode of debate and discussion. Besides the fact, that I have not come down on one side or the other and was suggesting that the subject warrants serious scientific investigation to ascertain the truth on the matter. So, in your eyes that is also to be ridiculed and justifies your derogatory remarks! Nice!

    I was responding to your comment that Phil (and, by implication, the rest of us sceptics) works really, really hard at ridiculing the “UFOs = alien spaceships” crowd. Your comment did not make clear that you felt that he worked really, really hard to ridicule you specifically.

    Ergo, by defending them you included yourself within that crowd. And, seriously, when you come out with a ridiculous claim, it is ridiculously easy to ridicule it.

    It has also been pretty easy (so far!) to rebut all of your criticisms of my comments, because you seem to be approaching this whole issue from far too credulous a perspective. The hypothesis “UFOs are alien spaceships” will only be given credence when it has earned it.

  132. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    < >

    There you go advertising your pomposity and arrogance once again. I can only say that you are obviously speaking from your own ignorance on the subject and again endeavouring to silence those that may not think or agree with what is basically your ego-based powered “belief”.

    What belief?

    That none of the x% of still-unidentified reports contains enough information to make a positive identification? You call that an “ego-based powered belief”?

    I say that because it appears not be based on any intelligent insight, study or investigation into the subject that you have undertaken to attack without warrant, or am I wrong in thinking that?

    Yes, you are wrong. You are wrong to assume that the details really matter all that much. In reality, the “alien spaceships” conclusion is implausible. I usually favour the “mistaken observer” explanation, but hoax reports and entirely new – but terrestrial – phenomena are also plausible options.

    I am not talking here about all the UFOs that a very few might believe are not of this world. Your knocking and attacks are against all and everyone that wishes to debate or discuss the subject from a viewpoint that you do not share.

    Are you not? You seemed to be defending the nuts who firmly believe that UFOs are alien spaceships.

    So, what do you consider to be the most plausible explanations, then?

    So, why all the aggression and name-calling?

    Most probably, fed up of people like you giving the lunatic fringe the validity for which they yearn. BTW, what “name-calling” did I do?

    Do you really believe that this type of behaviour makes you more correct or adds any right or valuable importance to your own belief system! I think not!

    What belief system? My “belief” is that – for the x% of reports that haven’t been identified – there isn’t any / enough information on which to base an identification. This, I think, is perfectly founded in fact. It needs no additional bolstering, but too few people even give it a passing nod, let alone accept it.

  133. Jeff

    gunnar: “That is going too far, and is demonstrably false”

    Are you kidding me. You mean you actually think there is ANY chance at all that UFOs are aliens??? or I’m I misunderstanding you??

    I’ll go this far: there is 0% chance that UFOs are aliens, or as close to metaphysical “zero” as close can get.

  134. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (100) said:

    ” You fail to inform your readers or fans that many reported UFO sighting happen during the day. ”

    < >

    Do your research, because once again you are only proving that you know little about that which you so knowingly and pompously pontificate on

    No. It’s your claim, you provide the figures to back it up.

    I know enough to conclude that anyone who considers the “alien spaceships” idea as an explanation for UFOs is not really familiar with critical thinking.

  135. Nigel, you have the patience of Job.

  136. Gunnar

    @jeff

    UFO simply means “Unidentified Flying Object.” There is no doubt that there are numerous instances of flying objects that those observing them could not identify, thus UFOs do exist. I agree with you that there is a very close to zero pr0bability that they are alien spacecraft. If you misconstrued what I said as implying that there was any justification for believing or hoping that some of them might actually be alien spacecraft, I apologize for not stating what I meant clearly enough.

  137. That’s the exact feeling I get whenever i read about recent astronomy news, or about astronomers’ discoveries regarding the universe, black holes, supernovas and so on. I get the feeling that they’ve touched a sort of divine female intuition, and they’re going on a hunch, even if that hunch is solely based on evidence.

    I mean, this sort of stuff, a new discovery implies years, ton of research, and to go away and spill out your heart and soul in front of millions is not so cool.

    With regards to bad astronomy, if we’re on that topic, i’m starting a community along side passionate people on http://www.pipeno.com (i’ve seen a couple in the comment area!) and i’ll be glad if you’d join me… to the ligther side, no the dark side of the force:)

    Barack

  138. Gunnar

    Further clarification for Jeff: “UFO” is not synonymous with “alien spacecraft.” If you had said “there are no alien spacecraft on earth,” I would not have attempted to correct you.

  139. Jeff

    gunnar,

    whew! thanks for the clarification. I thought I was losing my mind.

    You just were distinguishing between UFO and alien and I see that distinction. I was really just referring to the alien hypothesis, because , of course, all “UFOologists” think they are aliens.

  140. @ Gunnar & Jeff:

    You just were distinguishing between UFO and alien and I see that distinction. I was really just referring to the alien hypothesis, because , of course, all “UFOologists” think they are aliens.

    Indeed! That is the crux of the issue! The nutters (and I use the term unapologetically!) prattle on as if any U(nidentified) F(lying) O(bject) that remains U(nidentified) is by default of extraterrestrial or extra-dimensional or pan-reality or whatever origin.

    Their need for fantasy fulfillment is so great they just can’t leave it at “unidentified” and not see that as some kind of grand failure of science.

    Honestly, there are just so many more things in the world that are so much more interesting than this stuff.

  141. Jeff

    “Their need for fantasy fulfillment is so great they just can’t leave it at “unidentified” and not see that as some kind of grand failure of science”

    Kuhnigget:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head!! I’ve never seen it expressed better, and that really is the WHOLE story on this UFO bunk!

  142. Rory

    The following is going to be a bit long, but trust me it will be highly self-educating and interesting to anyone seeking the truth. I will break it down into 3 or 4 post for easier digestion….though in truth it may cause some here a lot of indigestion – such is life!

    Okay Guys, lets see if you can find yourself listed here, or if some of your obvious (to others) attributes are.

    I am reproducing this for information purposes and to add some weight to what I previously wrote about some of you, your tactics,”fundamentalist beliefs” and methods of non-debate and non-discussion.

    I am sure that many reading these blogs will easily find and be able to pick out descriptions etc. that can rightly be applied to many of you (though thankfully not all). So, sit back, relax and discover yourselves. Try to apply an open-mind to what you read and see if you can actually be truthful to yourselves in acknowledging how well some of these descriptions and qualities fit you. Hopefully afterwards you will not remain in denial of this “evidence”, form a like-minded mob to attack….whoever. So here goes – tune out the egos and look in the mirror:

    Characteristics and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics vs. True Skeptics

    Regardless of how they define themselves, a pseudo-skeptic is a pseudo-skeptic if their actions and behaviors fit the characteristics of one. Here are some lists of behavior criteria that define a pseudoskeptic.

    In the SCEPCOP treatise introduction, I list these primary differences between the true skeptic vs. the pseudo-skeptic:

    True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

    * Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them
    * Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own
    * Are nonjudgmental and do not jump to rash conclusions
    * Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim
    * Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views
    * Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
    * Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it
    * Possess solid sharp common sense and reason
    * Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones

    PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics

    * Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into the established order
    * Applies “critical thinking” only to that which opposes the status quo, but never to the status quo itself
    * Carries a fixed set of unchanging beliefs which all data must conform to
    * Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending the views of establishment
    * Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but views their own fixed viewpoints as constant
    * Are willing to lie and deceive to preserve establishment views, which are their true master
    * Automatically dismisses and denies all information that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy
    * Is judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about
    * Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective unbiased analysis and examination
    * Insists that everything unknown and unexplained must have a conventional materialistic explanation
    * Uses semantics and word games with their own rules of logic to try to win arguments
    * Are unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence but instead denies data which doesn’t fit into them
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are not able to accept paranormal ones

    Wikipedia’s original entry on pathological skepticism (before pseudoskeptics took it down) listed these defining traits of pseudoskeptics:

    “The difference between pseudoskepticism and skepticism appear in the conduct of an individual’s actions. Among the indications of pseudoskeptical actions are:

    1. Resorting to various logical fallacies (usually in an attack against those disputing a theory).
    2. The assumption of facts (such as, stating theories determine phenomena).
    3. The obfuscation of facts.
    4. The use of attractive or neutral euphemisms to disguise unpleasant facts concerning their own positions.
    5. Insisting that fundamental framework and theory of science hardly change.
    6. Unwavering belief that science is a consensus and run on majority rule.
    7. Maintaining a stance of hostility and intolerance.
    8. Instituting hurdles against new theories by “moving the goalposts”.
    9. Ignoring intellectual suppression of unorthodox theories.
    10. Judging a theory or phenomena without investigation and insisting on ignoring the details thereafter.”

    In the SCEPCOP forum, Steve Trueblue observed these five consistent patterns in pseudoskeptics:

    “As a skilled observer you will also note that Pseudoskeptics:

    1. Seldom, in fact almost never, ask questions, reflecting Zero Curiosity thus learning difficulties
    2. Practice a very high level of self deception and mistakenly believe they can lie to adults as they did in childhood
    3. Display markedly deficient reading and comprehension skills
    4. Display inability to connect thoughts sequentially and plan an argument- often defeating their own case
    5. Depend on bluster and bullying and name calling to make up for lack of argument content”

    In short, these pseudoskeptics are materialist fundamentalists driven by fanatical beliefs and views which they seek to proselytize to the world. Regardless of the facts and evidence, they always START and END with the following dogmatic positions:

    * Paranormal claims are all bunk and cannot be true. There is no evidence for them.
    * Conspiracies are all false. There is no evidence for them. Official sources are not to be questioned.
    * Anything that challenges the status quo and materialism is wrong and must be debunked.
    * Only natural materialistic explanations are acceptable. Paranormal ones are not.

    They begin with those precepts and always come back to them, regardless of the facts or evidence in any investigation or debate, EVERYTIME. That’s one consistent thing you will notice about them. And they will resort to playing games, ridicule, denial, even deliberate distortion to maintain these core positions. That’s why they are not really capable of serious honest discussion. Instead, they play games and cheat at them in order to win. I’ve seen them do it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how much proof or evidence you have. All of that is irrelevant to them.

    They will never admit that they’ve lost, even though technically they have. When cornered by facts and reason, they resort to denial or ad hominem attacks. Or they even will spin your own arguments against you, without basis. It’s like winning a chess game against an opponent, and even though the rules say they are checkmated, they still refuse to admit defeat. That’s not fair, honest, or decent behavior.

    They claim that their behavior is “skepticism” but in reality they know nothing about the true meaning of skepticism nor practice it since they apply no skepticism to their own beliefs or to the status quo but in fact have a total blind spot to them. Pyrrho, the founder of “Skepticism”, intended for it to be about open inquiry and suspension of judgment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic

    * In classical philosophy, skepticism refers to the teachings and the traits of the ‘Skeptikoi’, a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they ‘asserted nothing but only opined.’ (Liddell and Scott) In this sense, philosophical skepticism, or Pyrrhonism, is the philosophical position that one should suspend judgment in investigations.[1]

  143. Rory

    Part 2.

    How is it going so far? I hope that you are all scoring well!

    Characteristics and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics vs. True Skeptics

    Regardless of how they define themselves, a pseudo-skeptic is a pseudo-skeptic if their actions and behaviors fit the characteristics of one. Here are some lists of behavior criteria that define a pseudoskeptic.

    In the SCEPCOP treatise introduction, I list these primary differences between the true skeptic vs. the pseudo-skeptic:

    True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

    * Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them
    * Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own
    * Are nonjudgmental and do not jump to rash conclusions
    * Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim
    * Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views
    * Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
    * Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it
    * Possess solid sharp common sense and reason
    * Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones

    PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics

    * Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into the established order
    * Applies “critical thinking” only to that which opposes the status quo, but never to the status quo itself
    * Carries a fixed set of unchanging beliefs which all data must conform to
    * Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending the views of establishment
    * Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but views their own fixed viewpoints as constant
    * Are willing to lie and deceive to preserve establishment views, which are their true master
    * Automatically dismisses and denies all information that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy
    * Is judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about
    * Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective unbiased analysis and examination
    * Insists that everything unknown and unexplained must have a conventional materialistic explanation
    * Uses semantics and word games with their own rules of logic to try to win arguments
    * Are unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence but instead denies data which doesn’t fit into them
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are not able to accept paranormal ones

    Wikipedia’s original entry on pathological skepticism (before pseudoskeptics took it down) listed these defining traits of pseudoskeptics:

    “The difference between pseudoskepticism and skepticism appear in the conduct of an individual’s actions. Among the indications of pseudoskeptical actions are:

    1. Resorting to various logical fallacies (usually in an attack against those disputing a theory).
    2. The assumption of facts (such as, stating theories determine phenomena).
    3. The obfuscation of facts.
    4. The use of attractive or neutral euphemisms to disguise unpleasant facts concerning their own positions.
    5. Insisting that fundamental framework and theory of science hardly change.
    6. Unwavering belief that science is a consensus and run on majority rule.
    7. Maintaining a stance of hostility and intolerance.
    8. Instituting hurdles against new theories by “moving the goalposts”.
    9. Ignoring intellectual suppression of unorthodox theories.
    10. Judging a theory or phenomena without investigation and insisting on ignoring the details thereafter.”

    In the SCEPCOP forum, Steve Trueblue observed these five consistent patterns in pseudoskeptics:

    “As a skilled observer you will also note that Pseudoskeptics:

    1. Seldom, in fact almost never, ask questions, reflecting Zero Curiosity thus learning difficulties
    2. Practice a very high level of self deception and mistakenly believe they can lie to adults as they did in childhood
    3. Display markedly deficient reading and comprehension skills
    4. Display inability to connect thoughts sequentially and plan an argument- often defeating their own case
    5. Depend on bluster and bullying and name calling to make up for lack of argument content”

    In short, these pseudoskeptics are materialist fundamentalists driven by fanatical beliefs and views which they seek to proselytize to the world. Regardless of the facts and evidence, they always START and END with the following dogmatic positions:

    * Paranormal claims are all bunk and cannot be true. There is no evidence for them.
    * Conspiracies are all false. There is no evidence for them. Official sources are not to be questioned.
    * Anything that challenges the status quo and materialism is wrong and must be debunked.
    * Only natural materialistic explanations are acceptable. Paranormal ones are not.

    They begin with those precepts and always come back to them, regardless of the facts or evidence in any investigation or debate, EVERYTIME. That’s one consistent thing you will notice about them. And they will resort to playing games, ridicule, denial, even deliberate distortion to maintain these core positions. That’s why they are not really capable of serious honest discussion. Instead, they play games and cheat at them in order to win. I’ve seen them do it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how much proof or evidence you have. All of that is irrelevant to them.

    They will never admit that they’ve lost, even though technically they have. When cornered by facts and reason, they resort to denial or ad hominem attacks. Or they even will spin your own arguments against you, without basis. It’s like winning a chess game against an opponent, and even though the rules say they are checkmated, they still refuse to admit defeat. That’s not fair, honest, or decent behavior.

    They claim that their behavior is “skepticism” but in reality they know nothing about the true meaning of skepticism nor practice it since they apply no skepticism to their own beliefs or to the status quo but in fact have a total blind spot to them. Pyrrho, the founder of “Skepticism”, intended for it to be about open inquiry and suspension of judgment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic

    * In classical philosophy, skepticism refers to the teachings and the traits of the ‘Skeptikoi’, a school of philosophers of whom it was said that they ‘asserted nothing but only opined.’ (Liddell and Scott) In this sense, philosophical skepticism, or Pyrrhonism, is the philosophical position that one should suspend judgment in investigations.[1]

    And according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, a skeptic is:

    * “One who is yet undecided as to what is true; one who is looking or inquiring for what is true; an inquirer after facts or reasons.”

    But rather than inquiring, or asking questions to try to understand something, they seek to debunk, discredit and ridicule anything that doesn’t fit into their belief system. And rather than suspending judgment, they make accusations of fraud and delusion of all paranormal claimants. Hence, we call them pseudoskeptics (a term coined by the late Marcello Truzzi) for their actions and behaviors are the complete antithesis of what skepticism truly means.

    According to WikiSynergy:

    * Pseudoskepticism (or pseudo-skepticism) is defined as thinking that claims to be Skeptical but is actually faith-based disbelief. Because real skepticism is a justifiable position, pseudoskepticism may also be defined as making pseudoscientific arguments in pursuit of a skeptical agenda.

    * Pseudoskepticism is a general term which encompasses two types of faith-based disbelief: making positive claims that something is wrong or unreal without evidence (positive disbelief), and rejecting sufficient evidence.

    This insightful YouTuber hit the bull’s eye about pseudoskeptics with this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vks49Bfn544

    * “What skeptics fail to understand is that skepticism involves being skeptical of your own position, it does not mean just being skeptical of that which you do not believe in, otherwise we are all skeptics and that renders their use of the term “skeptic” meaningless. A true skeptic casts skepticism on their own position as well. Since the Randi crowd do not employ skepticism in this respect then they are fairly termed pseudo skeptics and demean the term skepticism.”

    Likewise, someone observed to me:

    * “The original definition of skeptic was a person who questions ALL beliefs, facts, and points-of-view. A healthy perspective in my opinion. Today’s common definition of skeptic is someone who questions any belief that strays outside of the status quo, yet leaving the status quo itself completely unquestioned. Kind of a juvenile and intellectually lazy practice in my opinion.”

    So, pseudoskeptics have hijacked the term “skeptic” to refer to the one who suppresses, rather than the one who “doubts or questions” which it is supposed to refer to. As such, a “skeptic” now refers to the ridiculer, debunker and discreditor of the “questioner” (who is the true skeptic) rather than to the questioner himself. By doing so, they’ve pretended to be the opposite of what they are to hide their true agenda of suppression of new ideas. See here for more info.

    Additionally, they’ve hijacked terms such as “rational, reason, logic, critical thinking” to mean the “proper” thinking and behavior that supports materialism and orthodoxy, and rejects against anything that challenges it. That is not what those words mean of course. It’s a form of mind control and disinformation.

    And furthermore, it seems way too calculated and militant to be due to some accidental misunderstanding, ignorance or closed mindedness. Hijacking a word to mean its opposite is more indicative of a deliberate agenda, such as a disinformation campaign or form of mind control. If that sounds terrible, well, we are here to expose it thank goodness.

    Dean Radin, who spent many years studying parapsychology and skeptical views, concluded the same in his acclaimed book Entangled Minds: (pages 10-11)

    * “Some skeptics pushed doubt to extremes and insisted that positive evidence was always due to mistakes or intentional fraud. As I saw it, within this dialectic one side was struggling to understand the depths of inner space by probing Nature with clever questions. The other was trying to maintain the status quo through passionate, and sometimes vicious, denial. The former were willing to take risks to advance knowledge, the latter were naysayers interested mainly in defending dogma.”

  144. ND

    I agree with Jeff on Kuhnigget succinct summary of what drives a lot of these guys. This also extends to other nutjob fields such as ghost hunting and the Bermuda triangle events.

    Mysteries fascinate and captures our curiosity, and some become infatuated with far fetched ideas that try to explain them.

  145. Well, to be fair, the other half of the equation is that segment of the population that is all-too willing to exploit the fantasists in order to make a quick buck.

    I’m looking at you, Mikey!

  146. Rory

    Posts that I submitted some 2 hours ago are appearing with “Your comment is awaiting moderation”!
    Besides being written by me…..is this normal practice?

    I submitted a final part (twice) at roughly the same time and it has not appeared at all (I can see a possible reason why that might be the case), but in resubmitting it I obviously do not want to have repetitions of the same post reappearing – no one does!

  147. Rory

    Apologies to those that had to wade through a repetition, as the first part or most of it appears to have been repeated in the beginning of Part 2.

    Hopefully, no one is getting too caught up on where “paranormal” has been mentioned. You can ignore such references if you so wish and just concentrate on the rest.

    I have already submitted this final part three times, but it appears not to have been accepted. Possibly because of the references at the end which dictates it’s deletion (blacklisted here for an obvious reason!!!) I will now delete these and resubmit the remainder in the hope that it is accepted.

    When you get to the end you may be in for a surprise, but then again…maybe not! I wasn’t! (Sorry, you will have to wait for another post. as that was the apparent reason for it’s non acceptance! I hope that I am allowed post it later……….). Otherwise, it’s a case of censorship!

    So – Part 3 (Final part).

    Even Wikipedia indirectly admits that modern skepticism is really about rejecting new information rather than true inquiry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic

    * The word skepticism can characterize a position on a single claim, but in scholastic circles more frequently describes a lasting mind-set and an approach to accepting or rejecting new information.

    In addition, despite their worship of science, they do not even follow the Scientific Method, because they do not update their hypotheses to fit the data, but instead reject data that doesn’t fit into their hypothesis, which is a direct violation of the Scientific Method of course. There are plenty of examples of this.

    Chris Carter, author of Parapsychology and the Skeptics, accurately described the pseudoskeptics’ true motivations in this interview:

    http://www.skeptiko.com/blog/?p=8

    * “You have to remember that the argument is not really about the evidence. The argument is about their assumptions and their preconceptions. Their preconceptions are, with these sort of phenomena, that they don’t make any sense and challenge their world view. So, they’re going to do anything they possibly can to dismiss evidence that challenges their preconceptions.”

    It would seem that pseudo-skeptics hate mysteries and unexplained phenomena, and are very uncomfortable with it. Thus they are emotional and bigoted toward it, not objective, open or logical.

    As to why pseudoskeptics believe what they do, this author, who spent time undercover in a skeptical organization, might be able to shed some light on that:

    http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_16_1_leiter.pdf

    * “A person who has been duped frequently in everyday life might learn by bitter experience to be cautious and wary. The reaction of those who have joined PhACT is however more dysfunctional. They have been wounded at a deeper level, to the extent that what was purported to be a valid philosophy of life, and in which they were heavily involved, turns out to be empty and useless, even damaging, in their eyes. Thus, they gravitate to what appears to them to be the ultimate non-faith-based philosophy, Science. Unfortunately, while they loudly proclaim their righteousness, based on their professed adherence to “hard science”, they do so with the one thing no true scientist can afford to possess, a closed mind. Instead of becoming scientifically minded, they become adherents of scientism, the belief system in which science and only science has all the answers to everything.

    * This regrettable condition acts to preclude their unbiased consideration of phenomena on the cutting edge of science, which is not how a true scientist should behave. In fact, many “Skeptics” will not even read significantly into the literature on the subjects about which they are most skeptical. I have direct experience with this specific behavior on the part of a number of PhACT members. Initially, I attributed that behavior to just plain laziness, but lately I’ve begun to suspect that those individuals may actually have a phobia about reading material that is contrary to their own views. It seems entirely possible that they fear “contamination” from that exposure will eventually lead to (Gasp!) acceptance of the opposition’s position. Such scientifically inclined, but psychologically scarred people tend to join Skeptics’ organizations much as one might join any other support group, say, Alcoholics Anonymous. There they find comfort, consolation, and support amongst their own kind.

    * Anyone who has spent much time engaging members of Skeptics’ organizations knows about their strong inclination toward ridicule and ad hominem criticism of those with differing viewpoints. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many members of PhACT have been rather offended by my position as someone who is skeptical of Skeptics. As the old adage states, “They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.”

    In school, you are taught that “critical thinking” means to refute and ridicule anything that opposes the establishment or status quo, but never the status quo itself. A true skeptic can rise above that and apply skepticism and critical thought toward established orthodoxy, but a pseudo-skeptic cannot. Instead, the pseudo-skeptic follows the school system’s form of “critical thinking”, applying it only to those who oppose orthodoxy in defense of the status quo.

    In that sense, they are in reality “establishment defenders” rather than true skeptics. That is why they NEVER challenge, criticize or scrutinize their government or any part of the establishment, including the pharmaceutical companies, CIA or FBI, even if logic, facts, evidence or moral cause dictates that they should.

    To these establishment defenders, authority = truth, and as such is always blameless in their eyes. That is their religion, so hence, all their skills, talents and knowledge is used to serve their true God – orthodoxy establishment. In their view, establishment authority can do no wrong, even if they murder, traffick drugs, steal, lie, stage terrorist attacks, start wars by funding both sides, etc.

    What this means is that these pseudo-skeptics or establishment defenders, which are commonly featured in the mainstream media, do not serve truth as their master. As such, they cannot always do what’s right, but in fact, are willing to lie and deceive to serve their establishment masters (there are so many documented cases of this). Thus they are not “free” in any sense of the word, nor honest, which is sad.

    This is why not only are they closed minded against anything to do with paranormal phenomena, but are vehemently opposed to all claims of government conspiracies as well, no matter how well supported, for it offends their “true master” (which is not truth).

  148. ND

    Rory,

    Posts with links in them go into a moderation queue and are displayed after approval. This is normal.

  149. Zetetic

    @ Rory:
    If you had links in the post then you most likely included too many links, and tripped the automatic moderation (to prevent spam). If that is what happened, and it’s been over two hours, then it’s most likely lost and will need to be resubmitted with either fewer links or broken up into sections.

    I think the limit is about 3-4 links, but it’s been a while so I might be wrong on the number. You could also try listing them as text only (instead of a hyperlink).

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    Just a prediction though….
    More anecdotes, “expert” testimony, and maybe some items that have perfectly mundane explanations. Nothing objectively credible as positively supporting evidence of extraterrestrial visitation from a scientific standpoint.

    If it helps you understand why neither skeptics, nor the scientific community, accept UFO reports as proof of extraterrestrials then try thinking of your arguments like this….
    If someone made a similar positive claim for something that you didn’t believe in (say for example Santa Claus) would you really be willing to just accept eyewitness stories and blurry video/pictures? Especially when the vast majority (95%) most of the reports had mundane explanations, and most of the rest lack sufficient details to draw any conclusions? Or, would you want some hard evidence to be convinced in the reality of Santa Claus?

    If eyewitness reports and “experts” (many of dubious credibility) wouldn’t convince you of Santa Claus, then why should the same “evidence” convince any rational person that UFOs are alien spacecraft? Do you want to know what would convince a skeptic? Then try thinking about what would reasonably convince you to accept as real, something that you actually don’t believe in.

  150. Rory

    @ ND

    Thanks!

    I appreciate your quick response and explanation.

    Regards

  151. @ Zetetic:

    If someone made a similar positive claim for something that you didn’t believe in (say for example Santa Claus) would you really be willing to just accept eyewitness stories and blurry video/pictures? Especially when the vast majority (95%) most of the reports had mundane explanations, and most of the rest lack sufficient details to draw any conclusions?

    :D

    This!

    And there was a large community of hucksters that leveraged off the Santa mania in order to make a lot of money off the believers!

    (Which, I guess, is pretty close to the reality, as I see the local hardware store already has its plastic Christmas trees and yard ornaments on display!)

  152. Rory

    @ ND
    @ Zetetic

    Thanks to you both!

    I appreciate your quick response and explanation.

    Zetetic, as I already stated I am not going to get into a circular debate that ends up in ridicule and name-calling because of disagreement (and non-discussion) with some of the people here. Been there – done that! Mob rule and mob law applies and it is not conducive to raising anyone’s consciousness or basic understanding of anything worthwhile. Sorry about that!

    I understand the point that you make and I agree with it. Let’s just say that I do believe that there is a lot more substantial evidence out there to suggest that something completely unusual, as in being out of the norm and worth investigating has and is taking place on a world-wise basis. Now what that is remains unexplained and has continued to be of great interest to many Governments – particularly the US, besides the man in the street.

    My criticism of Phil Plait and the biased article he wrote still stands and is obvious to any one who even knows the basic facts that are available (without speculating as to the origin of these unexplained UFOs). He unscientifically ignored the other side of the discussion and misinformed those students that he was addressing of the truth as it is widely known. There are of course two sides to every argument even if one is completely wrong. However, a person interested in determining the truth or allowing his listeners to form their own opinions (and not try to brain wash them) will always be magnanimous enough to provide both sides of the argument in an unbiased way. That is my opinion and belief and is obviously venomously opposed by those here that do not understand what being a true skeptic actually means and how such a person is expected to behave.

    The real skeptics here (even for self-interest) should have been the ones capable of pointing out to Phil the inaccuracies, misinformation, disinformation and the one-sided bias he had written on this subject….not leave it to the likes of me – an outsider to do!

    My position as already stated and not wishing to bore anyone here by repeating it: Is, I believe that there is enough reason and evidence to warrant a seriously funded scientific investigation into this matter / subject. At the same time and in order to help with such an investigation, I also believe that all Government documentation and any evidence they may have on the subject of UFOs or their equivalent should be released into the public domain.

    Why not put a stop to all this discussion in a rational and decisive way by investigating it openly. Claims of cures of certain herbs, plants, homeopathy etc. have been scientifically investigated to ascertain the truth so why not this subject where top officials in the CIA and various Governments, high ranking former military officers in the Navy, Air Force, Astronauts: Airline pilots, police, army personnel etc. etc. are willing to sign sworn affidavits to be presented to Congress to state that they believe / know that Aliens are visiting and have been visiting the earth. Not alone that, but many of them state that there is Alien contact with mankind (now that takes this discussion a whole step further). Anyway, that is their testimony and not mine.

    It makes such an investigation all a little more important than proving or disproving that dandelions are good for your complexion or whatever.

    It is very hard for anyone looking in here to understand the hostility and rage that suggesting that such a scientific study should be undertaken receives. Surely anyone interested in the truth and especially those that are so vindictively sure that they and they alone are right ….know the truth, should be happy at such a suggestion. It may prove beyond doubt that their strongly held position is correct! It would be a win / win position for them….so why the fear, why the open hostility! Their stance is one of fear, closed mindedness and is completely unscientific in my opinion. Let’s prove or disprove the matter once and for all and end the futile merry-go-round of discussions, debates, ridicule and name-calling involved. Is it in some people’s interest that this should not happen…..that appears to be the case!

    Anyway, I responded to you because one good favour deserves another.

    Forgive me, if I now bow out of further involvement in this discussion. I mean no offence to you.
    Of course I will re-enter it if Phil Plait decides to at last reply point for point to the criticism I made of his article.

    Again, thanks for your reply.

    Regards

  153. TheBlackCat

    I am sure that many reading these blogs will easily find and be able to pick out descriptions etc. that can rightly be applied to many of you (though thankfully not all). So, sit back, relax and discover yourselves.

    Yep, not the least bit of arrogance there.

    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones

    I agree with all of your other criteria, but I am totally, 100% against this. There is one simple reason for this: there is no way to rule out all conventional explanations for something. There could always be some conventional explanation we have not thought of.

    The problems with this approach in practice are far too clear. I see it all the time amongst those who believe in the paranormal: they rule out every conventional explanation they are aware of, then conclude it is supernatural, only to have someone more knowledgeable on the subject come along and point out a simple conventional explanation. Crop circles are a great example, so-called experts claim that they are impossible for humans to do for various reasons, but people have been documented doing it.

    In order to conclude that something supernatural is going on, it is not sufficient to rule out every conventional explanation you can think of, you need to show positive evidence that the event is, in fact, supernatural.

    Unless there is positive evidence for a supernatural event, then Occam’s razor comes into play.

    * Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into the established order
    * Applies “critical thinking” only to that which opposes the status quo, but never to the status quo itself
    * Carries a fixed set of unchanging beliefs which all data must conform to
    * Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending the views of establishment
    * Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but views their own fixed viewpoints as constant
    * Are willing to lie and deceive to preserve establishment views, which are their true master
    * Automatically dismisses and denies all information that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy
    * Is judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about
    * Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective unbiased analysis and examination
    * Uses semantics and word games with their own rules of logic to try to win arguments
    * Are unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence but instead denies data which doesn’t fit into them

    Okay, this does a decent job of summarizing some of the problems commonly found with believers in the paranormal.

    * Insists that everything unknown and unexplained must have a conventional materialistic explanation

    You are being hypocritical here. The point I highlighted from the first list, in essence, says “everything unknown and unexplained must have a supernatural explanation”, and this is taken as a good thing, a sign of a “true skeptic”. But making the exact same claim in the other direction (which I have never actually seen a skeptic do), is bad and makes them a “pseudoskeptic”. You are arguing, without any basis, that supernatural explanations as the default fallback position when we have no explanation for something. I would argue, based on Occam’s razor, that this is a flawed approach.

    1. Resorting to various logical fallacies (usually in an attack against those disputing a theory).
    2. The assumption of facts (such as, stating theories determine phenomena).
    3. The obfuscation of facts.
    4. The use of attractive or neutral euphemisms to disguise unpleasant facts concerning their own positions.
    7. Maintaining a stance of hostility and intolerance.
    8. Instituting hurdles against new theories by “moving the goalposts”.
    9. Ignoring intellectual suppression of unorthodox theories.
    10. Judging a theory or phenomena without investigation and insisting on ignoring the details thereafter.”

    Once again, these are common amongst believers in the paranormal. I have not seen them much, if at all, amongst skeptics.

    5. Insisting that fundamental framework and theory of science hardly change.
    6. Unwavering belief that science is a consensus and run on majority rule.

    I do not know of anyone who holds such positions.

    1. Seldom, in fact almost never, ask questions, reflecting Zero Curiosity thus learning difficulties
    2. Practice a very high level of self deception and mistakenly believe they can lie to adults as they did in childhood
    3. Display markedly deficient reading and comprehension skills
    4. Display inability to connect thoughts sequentially and plan an argument- often defeating their own case
    5. Depend on bluster and bullying and name calling to make up for lack of argument content”

    Once again, these are standard for believers in the paranormal, rare amongst skeptics, at least in my experience.

    * Paranormal claims are all bunk and cannot be true. There is no evidence for them.
    * Conspiracies are all false. There is no evidence for them. Official sources are not to be questioned.
    * Anything that challenges the status quo and materialism is wrong and must be debunked.
    * Only natural materialistic explanations are acceptable. Paranormal ones are not.

    Care to actually show evidence that anyone here holds these positions, or are we just supposed to accept you are a mind-reader?

    They begin with those precepts and always come back to them, regardless of the facts or evidence in any investigation or debate, EVERYTIME. That’s one consistent thing you will notice about them. And they will resort to playing games, ridicule, denial, even deliberate distortion to maintain these core positions. That’s why they are not really capable of serious honest discussion. Instead, they play games and cheat at them in order to win. I’ve seen them do it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how much proof or evidence you have. All of that is irrelevant to them.

    They will never admit that they’ve lost, even though technically they have. When cornered by facts and reason, they resort to denial or ad hominem attacks. Or they even will spin your own arguments against you, without basis. It’s like winning a chess game against an opponent, and even though the rules say they are checkmated, they still refuse to admit defeat. That’s not fair, honest, or decent behavior.

    This is a very good summary of my experience with believers in the paranormal.

    What skeptics fail to understand is that skepticism involves being skeptical of your own position, it does not mean just being skeptical of that which you do not believe in, otherwise we are all skeptics and that renders their use of the term “skeptic” meaningless. A true skeptic casts skepticism on their own position as well. Since the Randi crowd do not employ skepticism in this respect then they are fairly termed pseudo skeptics and demean the term skepticism.

    You assert skeptics do not do this, but in my experience they do. I know I am very careful to question my own beliefs, and change major, fundamental beliefs on a fairly routine basis (about every 6 months, on average, for years now).

    You are throwing out a lot of assertions about what skeptics do, what they believe, how they think, but you never once provide the slightest shred of evidence that they actually do so. You lecture us about the importance of following the evidence, yet you provide absolutely none whatsoever. You just expect us to just accept your assertions, or the assertions of some anonymous people you quote, without question. Can’t you see the contradiction there?

    Take a look at your list of traits that define “pseudoskeptic”, then compare that to what you are actually writing in these last few posts. Your whole several posts are characterized by the traits you criticize “pseudoskeptics” for.

    The rest of your post is more of the same, the same repeated assertions with no evidence whatsoever that any skeptic, not to mention the people here, are guilty of doing what you claim they are doing. Surely it cannot be that hard to point out exactly how the people here are fitting this criteria.

  154. Let’s just say that I do believe that there is a lot more substantial evidence out there to suggest that something completely unusual, as in being out of the norm and worth investigating has and is taking place on a world-wise basis.

    Not that that evidence will be presented, mind you.

    Now what that is remains unexplained and has continued to be of great interest to many Governments – particularly the US, besides the man in the street.

    Note the lack of evidence for that government statement. 60-year old investigations during the Cold War, and an occasional investigation of unidentified objects by military craft (gosh, that’s an odd thing for them to do) do not constitute “great interest.” Oh, but of course this precludes all that secret stuff that the government is hiding, which conveniently cannot be verified.

    There are of course two sides to every argument even if one is completely wrong. However, a person interested in determining the truth or allowing his listeners to form their own opinions (and not try to brain wash them) will always be magnanimous enough to provide both sides of the argument in an unbiased way.

    Wrong. Not when the “other side” is not a real argument at all, but merely unsubstantiated speculation and opinion not backed up by verifiable data.

    As others routinely point out, you might as well open up the discussion to the other other sides, including Santa Claus, fairies, the Old Ones, et al.

    The real skeptics here (even for self-interest) should have been the ones capable of pointing out to Phil the inaccuracies, misinformation, disinformation and the one-sided bias he had written on this subject….not leave it to the likes of me – an outsider to do!

    Thus, playing the martyr card, as is typical of the true believer.

    Why not put a stop to all this discussion in a rational and decisive way by investigating it openly.

    Because there is nothing substantial to investigate. No investigation has ever turned up anything but anecdotal, contradictory evidence that is fully in line with natural phenomenon, including the human predisposition to make stuff up, or else there simply isn’t sufficient data to study at all.

    so why not this subject where top officials in the CIA and various Governments, high ranking former military officers in the Navy, Air Force, Astronauts: Airline pilots, police, army personnel etc. etc. are willing to sign sworn affidavits to be presented to Congress to state that they believe / know that Aliens are visiting and have been visiting the earth.

    Because, again, “belief” does not constitute evidence. And all of those people the nutters keep bringing up have no evidence for their beliefs.

    It is very hard for anyone looking in here to understand the hostility and rage that suggesting that such a scientific study should be undertaken receives.

    Times are tough. Research dollars are scarce. Why alot them to researching something for which there is no evidence, when there are so many other really good topics to study that can be associated with testable, verifiable data?

    Let’s prove or disprove the matter once and for all and end the futile merry-go-round of discussions, debates, ridicule and name-calling involved.

    But the UFO industry will never be satisfied with an answer that does not include their preconceived, and valuable, conclusions! This happens time and time again, moreso than any skeptic being dogmatic! If a conclusion is reached that suggests natural phenomenon, or something other than spaceships, it’s “conspiracy!” or “close-minded!” or “scared of ridicule scientists!”

    Forgive me, if I now bow out of further involvement in this discussion.

    Of course you bow out, because you have nothing to offer, as usual! You claim some stake of moral high ground, conveniently forgetting that your lofty position is floating on the vacuum of your own lack of substantiation!

    This is a direct repeat of your previous appearance here, Rory! That’s why you get lumped in with the nutters!

  155. Rory

    @ TheBlackCat

    As I said, I did not write the article and I also did not include everyone here as I have not had experience of being involved in discussions with everyone. My reference would be to “some” of those that I was involved with or that just passed their ad hominen snipes Also at some of those that I have watched and read, but certainly it is far from everyone.

    I am delighted that you feel that none of this applies to you – good! It is a pity that everyone here is not like that

    It is for some people a case of “if the cap fits – wear it”. For others the cap was made to measure and outsiders perusing these blogs could quickly point them out to you. Anyway, it is like a journey of self-discovery and to see who here can really see themselves truthfully as real skeptics after being truthful with themselves! For example how many here regularly question their own beliefs or the ones that they so strongly and self-righteously pontificate on

    For your self interest and enjoyment. If you have a problem with what’s written therein you will have to take it up with the author or authors and they are at:
    http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/characteristics.php

    See below which covers some of your questions:

    See: October 5th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I am reproducing this for information purposes and to add some weight to what I previously wrote about some of you, your tactics,”fundamentalist beliefs” and methods of non-debate and non-discussion.

    I am sure that many reading these blogs will easily find and be able to pick out descriptions etc. that can rightly be applied to many of you (though thankfully not all).

    See: October 5th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Hopefully, no one is getting too caught up on where “paranormal” has been mentioned. You can ignore such references if you so wish and just concentrate on the rest.

  156. My reference would be to “some” of those that I was involved with

    That would be me! Woo (woo) -hoo!

  157. TheBlackCat

    My reference would be to “some” of those that I was involved with or that just passed their ad hominen snipes

    So says the person who just made several posts that were nothing but incredibly long, repetitive ad hominem attacks against his or her opponents.

    Also at some of those that I have watched and read, but certainly it is far from everyone.

    Thank you for being so specific. I pointed out that you haven’t backed up your assertion that people here are behaving this way, which leaves me no choice but to assume that you can’t.

    I am delighted that you feel that none of this applies to you – good! It is a pity that everyone here is not like that

    Yes, this conversation would be so much better if you didn’t do all those things you listed.

    If you have a problem with what’s written therein you will have to take it up with the author or authors and they are at

    Way to pass the blame. If I agree with what you posted, that means I am enlightened. If I don’t, well it wasn’t written by you so you can’t be bothered to actually back it up. Predictable. If you give the statement enough weight to spend so much time copying and pasting them, you should be willing to back them up as well.

    You quoted over and over again the importance of evidence and how “pseudoskeptics” do not care about it. So show us the evidence. If there isn’t any evidence to back up what you are posting, then you are a hypocrite.

    I am reproducing this for information purposes and to add some weight to what I previously wrote about some of you, your tactics,”fundamentalist beliefs” and methods of non-debate and non-discussion.

    Yet when someone tries to debate it, tries to discuss it, you refuse, disclaiming all responsibility for the whole thing. You are so quick to criticize others for not looking objectively at themselves, yet you refuse to see how your own criticisms apply better to you than they do at the people you level them at.

    I am sure that many reading these blogs will easily find and be able to pick out descriptions etc. that can rightly be applied to many of you (though thankfully not all).

    The only one posting right now who this stuff applies to is you.

    Let me ask you, when was the last time you abandoned a deeply-held belief, and what was it?

  158. Zetetic

    @ kuhnigget:
    Thank you!

    ========================================================================
    Rory @ #143:
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are not able to accept paranormal ones
    I find this one very amusing in light of your earlier comment that we don’t know everything.

    As TheBlackCat has already touched on… This is because the very fact that we don’t know everything (which no true skeptic would deny) that is precisely why we can’t jump to supernatural/extraterrestrial explanations just because something isn’t understood. This fundamental error is why the Argument from Ignorance is considered a fallacy. We can’t declare that there are no natural explanations unless we know everything about nature, which we don’t.

    Believers such as yourself want to have it both ways, you want to use the fact that we don’t know everything as justification for the possibility of a supernatural/extraterrestrial conclusion, but at the same time you want to jump to such an unwarranted conclusion on the assumption that we know enough to rule out every other possibility! It’s an internal contradiction and another common characteristic of those that convince themselves that they are being open-mined when they are in fact being closed-minded about their logically unjustified position.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    Rory @ #152:
    Respectfully, I think that you misunderstood my point. My point is to try and get you to see things from a non-believer’s point of view to better understand why skeptics and scientists don’t accept the believers in extraterrestrial’s arguments, not to ridicule you. If you noticed I never called you any names in my prior post, nor did I insult you.

    I used the example of Santa Claus since I thought that is was reasonable to safely assume that it was something that you didn’t believe in and could view arguments for objectively. I don’t know whether or not you believe in Bigfoot, Yetis, El Chupacabra, the Loch Ness Monster, haunted houses, that vaccines cause autism, homeopathy, etc. but it’s worth pointing out that for any of those things that you may not believe in that they all use exactly the same arguments and “evidence” as those that believe that UFOs are spacecraft. By just changing a few words the arguments and evidence are indistinguishable. That is a problem for your position.

    Your entire screed against pseudo-skeptics appears to be nothing more that an exercise in projection. The exact same claims about skeptics are made by the other groups I mentioned, and yet they all fail to avoid the exact same fallacies and they all fail to provide credible positively supporting evidence. It’s odd to see such projection for someone that claims to want to avoid “name-calling”.

    Mob rule and mob law applies and it is not conducive to raising anyone’s consciousness or basic understanding of anything worthwhile. Sorry about that!
    Nothing to apologize for but the skeptic position has nothing to do with mob rule, but with the burden of proof and avoiding fallacies.
    In this case specifically the fallacies of Argument from Ignorance, Appeal to Authority (Edgar Mitchel and Gordon Cooper), and Argumentum ad Populum. As your own sources state a real skeptic is open to the possibility that they are wrong provided that they are given credible contrary evidence or can see the flaws in their logic. You still have yet to offer any credible positive evidence or arguments that aren’t based on fallacies. Therefore we have no reason to adopt your position, but you have every reason to declare your position as unsupported. If you’re so open minded, why haven’t you done so yet? Again you seem to be projecting. If I’m wrong about that, then by all means give us one credible item of positive supporting evidence or an argument that isn’t based on a logical fallacy. It’s what us “close minded pseudo-skeptics” have been asking from since the start.

    Let’s just say that I do believe that there is a lot more substantial evidence out there to suggest that something completely unusual, as in being out of the norm and worth investigating has and is taking place on a world-wise basis.
    OK…So where/what exactly is this “more substantial evidence”?

    Why are we always being promised it, but it never gets delivered? If you know what it is then why isn’t it the very first thing you offer when trying to convince people that UFOs are spacecraft instead of giving us a song-and-dance?

    Why didn’t you offer it in that exact same post rather than spending so many words NOT offering this “more substantial evidence”?

    Odd how this exactly the same claim we get from the same other beliefs I mentioned above, isn’t it? Odd how they too never deliver on the promised really good “evidence” isn’t it? Instead we are always being promised that if we just knew this other undisclosed evidence…well then we’d be convinced. But it’s never shown, not even by you.

    There are of course two sides to every argument even if one is completely wrong.
    Firstly you seem to be assuming that he doesn’t provide such arguments to his students, but for the sake of argument lets assume you’re correct and that he doesn’t teach his students that extraterrestrial spacecraft are a likely possibility.
    If it’s clearly “completely wrong” (or even just completely baseless) then why should it be taught at all, unless to teach critical thinking?
    Should we teach that the Earth is flat?
    Or that it’s 6,000 years old?
    Or that germs don’t cause disease?
    Those are things that are clearly wrong and yet lots of people believe in them too, again using the same “logic” that you’ve employed so far, should they be taught too? Why should it be taught as plausible if you can’t make a half-way descent case for the position ?

    That is my opinion and belief and is obviously venomously opposed by those here that do not understand what being a true skeptic actually means and how such a person is expected to behave.
    That’s because you seem to be projecting your own close-minded position (close minded to the possibility that you’re wrong about aliens) onto others. Skepticism tries to critically analyze conflicting evidence and arguments to come to the most logical/likely conclusion (regardless of whether it goes against the mainstream or not), it does not mean to just blindly accept that which goes again the mainstream as you seem to think it does.

    The real skeptics here (even for self-interest) should have been the ones capable of pointing out to Phil the inaccuracies, misinformation, disinformation and the one-sided bias he had written on this subject….not leave it to the likes of me – an outsider to do!
    Yet strangely you seem to incapable of making a credible case to that effect, and instead resort to empty promises of “more substantial evidence” and logical fallacies.

    Is, I believe that there is enough reason and evidence to warrant a seriously funded scientific investigation into this matter / subject
    It’s been done repeatedly in many countries, yet strangely nothing is ever good enough for the believers if it doesn’t confirm their presuppositions. Again we see the same pattern with the other beliefs I mentioned above as well, and it’s never enough for them either. Funny how with the promises of “we have better evidence (that just isn’t available right now)”, that all these groups expect others to provide compelling evidence to support their position, isn’t it?

    Claims of cures of certain herbs, plants, homeopathy etc. have been scientifically investigated to ascertain the truth so why not this subject where top officials in the CIA and various Governments, high ranking former military officers in the Navy, Air Force, Astronauts: Airline pilots, police, army personnel etc. etc. are willing to sign sworn affidavits to be presented to Congress to state that they believe / know that Aliens are visiting and have been visiting the earth.
    [sigh]
    Because you can test an herb or homeopathic remedy in a double blind controlled test to see if it works or not. That is credible evidence, assuming the study was done correctly.
    A signed affidavit is just a signed anecdote…it’s not credible evidence! It proves nothing except that a fallible human being thinks that he/she saw something odd or that he/she is willing to lie about it. How are you going to prove perjury if the claim isn’t true, aside from catching them in a demonstrable lie? How does their claim that they think they saw “something” proof of aliens, and not something else? What you are asking for is the equivalent of using consumer testimonials to determine drug safety and effectiveness. What a real skeptic asks for is credible positively supporting evidence, like doing better than a placebo in a double-blind study, or a piece of alien tech/tissue (or an unambiguously extraterrestrial broadcast).

    It is very hard for anyone looking in here to understand the hostility and rage that suggesting that such a scientific study should be undertaken receives. Surely anyone interested in the truth and especially those that are so vindictively sure that they and they alone are right ….know the truth, should be happy at such a suggestion
    You mean aside from the waste of resources studying yet again something for which there is no credible evidence? It’s not a matter of “hostility” or “rage”, it’s a matter of exasperation at going through the same old refuted arguments and evidence over-and-over without end.

    It may prove beyond doubt that their strongly held position is correct! It would be a win / win position for them….so why the fear, why the open hostility! Their stance is one of fear, closed mindedness and is completely unscientific in my opinion.
    Again as kuhnigget has already covered… No amount of failure to find compelling evidence will ever convince a true believer that he/she is wrong until they are willing to be open to the possibility that they are wrong. It’s the same with vaccines, the Loch Ness Monster, etc. no amount of studies that fail to find supporting evidence are ever enough to convince a true believer that they’re wrong. It’s always “a conspiracy to hide the truth” when support for belief isn’t found. This has already been tried, but it’s never enough.

    Let’s prove or disprove the matter once and for all and end the futile merry-go-round of discussions, debates, ridicule and name-calling involved.
    Here you argued against your own position by failing to notice that no amount of lack of credible evidence will ever disprove extraterrestrial visitation! Again it comes back to the burden of proof. No matter how often it’s studied the claim can never be “disproved”, it’s just and endless waste of resources to try and “disprove” it over and over. It’s the same problem again with the other beliefs I mentioned above. That why it’s up to the side making the positive claim (i.e. UFOs are aliens) to support their position with logic and credible positively supporting evidence.

    Think that I’m being unfair in that? Then please by all means try to disprove any of the other subjects that I mentioned above, even Santa Clause, and I’ll play the believer. You will never be able to “disprove” any of the positions no matter how long we go on for. You’ll only be able to show my own lack of ability to logically support my case, but I’ll always be able to rationalize my lack of a sound case and accuse you of ignoring my “evidence” and being “close-minded”.

    Or, how about this question….What would it reasonably take to convince you that you’re wrong about these reports being aliens? You see, I (and other skeptics) can answer what it would take to convince me that I’m wrong and that UFOs are aliens (see above for a couple of examples). But, what about you? How many government studies not finding proof of aliens would it take? Would nothing short of being able to explain every single “sighting”, even the ones without sufficient details be enough (and how would that be reasonable)?

    Anyway, I responded to you because one good favour deserves another.
    Thank you for the reply, but really I’m trying to help you here. When I suggested that you try and look at things from the perspective of a subject that you don’t believe in, I was serious. So far you have been unable to make a single argument that wasn’t a fallacy and you have been unable to provide any credible supporting evidence of your position. That should cause you to reconsider your position.

    Everyone is wrong about something at some point in their life, the trick is knowing when to acknowledge it rather than being blinded by your own desires and ego. Many of us skeptics that you are accusing of being closed-minded used to believe in the same things as you, but at one point we realized the problems with the position. Heck, I used to believe the stories of flying saucers when I was much younger, then I started looking at the subject objectively and to my chagrin had to conclude that it was unsupportable and I was wrong, as much as I’d love for there to be proof of extraterrestrials.

    Forgive me, if I now bow out of further involvement in this discussion. I mean no offence to you.
    No offense taken if you don’t reply, but where is that “more substantial evidence” you mentioned? Odd how believers always leave without providing it.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Rory @ #155:
    I am reproducing this for information purposes and to add some weight to what I previously wrote about some of you, your tactics,”fundamentalist beliefs” and methods of non-debate and non-discussion.
    See, now this comes off as projecting again.
    We’ve provided arguments that don’t resort to fallacies to support the “not-aliens” position, but you have not done the same to support your own side. We can offer credible evidence of non-extraterrestrial causes for many claimed cases (that 95%+), but you have not provided any credible supporting evidence for the extraterrestrial position in spite of your assertions that it exists. Please remember… Argument from Ignorance is a fallacy, it doesn’t actually prove your side.

    Best wishes in your pursuit of the truth.
    But please ask yourself…what would it reasonably take to convince yourself that you’re wrong?

    It’s what a real skeptic would do.

  159. Richard

    @Nigel, Kuhnigget, Messier Tidy

    Wow! Did Nigel try to bury my comment (#112) about the HARD EVIDENCE put forth by former FAA division chief John Callahan? He made 5 comments in a row right after mine and made no rebuttal, even though I asked for his opinion specifically. I find that hard to believe an oversight considering he has so much to say on the subject and he has responded to me before. Then he preaches to us about arrogance… I will chalk that up as a victory for those who don’t have their head buried in the sand.

    Kuhnigget responded to the FIRST HALF of my comment, then asked for “SOME EVIDENCE, NOT OPINIONS,” as if I did not try my best to provide some, in the same comment, via the same way we are having this debate: the internet. Incase you missed what I provided here it is again:

    Sources: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_w1OPgoR5M
    http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1317.htm

    Furthermore, it is hypocritical (and quite frankly nutty) to deny your “critical thinking” the benefit of understanding the grave importance of how we, as a society, determine whether the testimony of a person is believable (via one’s criminal record, reputation, resume, character witnesses, etc.), and yet apply the scientific method so freely and solely as if it is the edifice of truth on this subject, and only it shall set it free (sounds an awful lot like religion to me). The UFO phenomenon, whatever its true nature may be, has been established as a REAL one by shutting down international airports and showing up on RADAR, as two examples. Thus far the scientific method has failed to provide enough answers.

    John Callahan, and many others, has sworn to testify before Congress, UNDER OATH, if Congress shall ever be so daring as to have open and honest hearings on the subject. Looking at this debate as a microcosm, I doubt that will ever happen.

    Messier Tidy: Yes, I saw your links. Do you really let Phil Plait shape your worldview? That is just sad.

  160. Mark Hansen

    Rory,
    …so why not this subject where top officials in the CIA and various Governments, high ranking former military officers in the Navy, Air Force, Astronauts: Airline pilots, police, army personnel etc. etc. are willing to sign sworn affidavits to be presented to Congress to state that they believe / know that Aliens are visiting and have been visiting the earth…

    Perhaps you should check out Maj-Gen A. Stubblebine III and his beliefs and then reflect on the wisdom of using argumentum ad verecundiam. Just because someone is high-ranking and usually right doesn’t mean they can’t get it wrong occasionally.

  161. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (142) said (inter alia *yawn*):

    True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

    * Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them
    * Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own
    * Are nonjudgmental and do not jump to rash conclusions
    * Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim
    * Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views
    * Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
    * Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it
    * Possess solid sharp common sense and reason
    * Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones

    PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics

    * Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into the established order
    * Applies “critical thinking” only to that which opposes the status quo, but never to the status quo itself
    * Carries a fixed set of unchanging beliefs which all data must conform to
    * Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending the views of establishment
    * Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but views their own fixed viewpoints as constant
    * Are willing to lie and deceive to preserve establishment views, which are their true master
    * Automatically dismisses and denies all information that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy
    * Is judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about
    * Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective unbiased analysis and examination
    * Insists that everything unknown and unexplained must have a conventional materialistic explanation
    * Uses semantics and word games with their own rules of logic to try to win arguments
    * Are unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence but instead denies data which doesn’t fit into them
    * When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are not able to accept paranormal ones

    I fail to see why you think any of this is relevant unless you have completely failed to understand the arguments put forth by the sceptics here.

    The sceptics’ argument is simple: for reasons that have been recounted several times over already, the “alien spaceships” explanmation for UFOs is implausible, and any UFO that has not been identified does not constitute evidence for a new phenomenon.

    Please see earlier comments for the reasoning underlying this statement.

    That’s it. It really is that simple and straightforward.

    Anyone who rejects this must either demonstrate (through evidence or reasoning or both) a very good reason (or reasons) to do so, or open themselves to well-deserved ridicule.

    I have seen none of the sceptics here judging people, nor being closed-minded, nor being aggressive, and I have seen – so far – no attempt to illustrate your comments with direct quotation.

    You have failed to engage in any kind of response to the refutation of your comments, you merely post what looks like the same stuff in more detail. Ergo, I conclude that either you really don’t understand plain English, or are ignoring the failures in your reasoning in the desperate hope that they will go away.

  162. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (152) said:

    Let’s just say that I do believe that there is a lot more substantial evidence out there to suggest that something completely unusual, as in being out of the norm and worth investigating has and is taking place on a world-wise basis.

    OK, I’m listening. Let’s ahve a quick précis. What “substatntial” evidence is there that UFOs are more than just examples of human fallability?

    To help keep it brief, stick to discussing only evidence that is unambiguous (i.e. absolutely could not have any other explanation, and by “other explanation” I include a witness misunderstanding or misreporting something they saw, so don’t bother including anecdotes).

  163. @ Richard:

    AGAIN Videos on YouTube and eyewitness testimony (sworn or not) do not constitute scientific evidence! And yes, the “scientific” part does matter and does make all the difference. You clowns are going on and on about how scientists should be taking this stuff seriously and scientists are too scared of ridicule to study it and blah blah blah! Well, scientists need testable, verifiable evidence. Bring a bolt or a piece of metal from a spacecraft. Bring a lump of alien fecal matter, or snot, or toenail clipping. Bring something that can be tested.

    For the nth+1 time, human witnesses, no matter who they are or what they do, are nothing more than suppliers of anecdotes. And sorry, but anecdotes are not evidence of alien spacecraft, especially when so many other human traits account very nicely for those same anecdotes.

    Neither are weird radar readings scientific evidence. Sorry, but radar is a human technology. Like all human technologies, it sometimes gives erroneous readings, or it registers normal phenomena in abnormal ways. Sorry, I know you think that’s a bad ol’ conspiracy, but it’s not. It’s just the way it is. Human machines malfunction. Human operators can’t always interpret the results. There may very well be something weird being picked up on radar, but that in itself is not evidence of alien spacecraft!

    Furthermore, it is hypocritical (and quite frankly nutty) to deny your “critical thinking” the benefit of understanding the grave importance of how we, as a society, determine whether the testimony of a person is believable (via one’s criminal record, reputation, resume, character witnesses, etc.), and yet apply the scientific method so freely and solely as if it is the edifice of truth on this subject, and only it shall set it free (sounds an awful lot like religion to me).

    How is it hypocritical? We’re talking about science here, not a court of law, not public opinion, but science! If you want your craziness to be taken seriously by scientists, then you have to play by the rules of science. That is not hypocrisy or arrogance, just logic. If, on the other hand, you want to establish whether public opinion buys into your fantasies, then go ahead and bring on all the “expert” testimony you want! Just don’t call it scientific evidence.

    As for calling it religion…pot meet kettle. As all of us have stated repeatedly, show us some real evidence that conclusively leads to the alien hypothesis and we’ll jump for joy. But you clowns never do that. You post links to ufo websites and youtube and type long screeds of opinion, but you never show real evidence. Never! Not once! Yet you still believe! Now, be honest with yourself, Richard, who’s made a religion out of their fantasy?

    Messier Tidy: Yes, I saw your links. Do you really let Phil Plait shape your worldview? That is just sad.

    I’ve seen your links, Richard. Do you really let UFO websites shape your worldview? That is just sad.

  164. TheBlackCat

    John Callahan, Former FAA Division Chief, has produced radar print-outs and video of a radar scope showing an intermittent primary target in the location where the captain of Japan Airlines flight 1628 had reported unidentified objects while at 35,000 ft. over Alaska on November 17, 1986. Captain Kenju Tarauchi reported one of these objects was twice the size of an aircraft carrier, flying just hundreds of feet from his 747 and making maneuvers that are “impossible for any manmade machine to make.”

    So how did he determine the distance and size of the object? The report doesn’t say. At a range of much less than a hundred feet human depth perception fails. It is mathematically impossible to judge distances at that range without either a some sort of sensor (which airliners do not normally carry) or an object of known distance to compare it to. Otherwise it is just a wild guess.

    I also find it convenient that he didn’t report a lot of the stuff that was going on, didn’t get a picture, and didn’t request a military airplane to come and confirm the sighting, and it didn’t show up on radar. Those two were the only one who saw it, and we have nothing but their say-so that anything remotely similar to this happened.

    Is this really the best you can do? This report is a great example of the typical flaws with a UFO report. That is not evidence.

  165. ND

    I found the following regarding the JAL flight that Richard has linked to.

    http://www.skepticfiles.org/mys3/klasjal2.htm

    I have not searched for it but it would be interesting to look at the transcript of the JAL 1628 UFO incident instead of relying on human recollection.

  166. @ Black Cat:

    Yeah, odd that an object the size of an aircraft carrier flying only hundreds of feet away didn’t trigger the 747’s collision avoidance warning. I guess when a ground based radar scope gives anomalous readings it’s “proof” of alien spaceships, but when a commercial jetliner’s own onboard systems don’t register them, that’s…well…conveniently ignored.

  167. @ ND:

    This paragraph from that JAL “report” (CSICOP??!!!) is quite telling:

    But after an FAA spokesman in
    Anchorage suggested that this UFO might only be lights from a distant
    village bouncing off clouds, the JAL pilot acknowledged that this could
    explain his second UFO sighting.

    Odd how that bit never gets emphasized by the nutters. Their cherished expert witness admits that, hey, maybe I saw a cloud!

  168. ND

    kuhnigget,

    I have not looked into the JAL/Alaska event, just skimmed over it, but I’m guessing several separate explainable events became conflated into a single UFO source.

    Also interesting that Jupiter was in the sky at the time. Ties the discussion with the original thread.

  169. ND

    Here also is what appears to be discussion looking into the details. Again I did not read this thoroughly and I’m just throwing it out there:

    http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=158668&page=3

  170. Richard

    @ kuhnigget, Nigel, The Black Cat

    Kuhnigget: I appreciate you sticking to your guns. But, to say that reputable witness testimony under oath cannot be accepted as a variable in this matter when it provides more data than the scientific method is insane. Applying a method which continually fails to provide an adequate answer while expecting a different result is insanity. In addition, you cry about the lack of scientific evidence, while there is also a lack of ideas on how to apply the scientific method to gain the desired evidence; no one here certainly has any ideas on how to do that. For the nth time, science is not applicable here and you have not shown that it is any more than the rule of law, which has developed a system for dealing with witness testimony of extraordinary circumstances; science has not. A UFO incident plays out more like a crime scene than a science experiment. I am not going to call John Callahan up and have him fax you over the radar print-outs. The links I provided are not opinionated, like a BLOG, they are rather testimonials from two reputable people who have come into contact with the same UFO phenomenon; not third party opinions. Again, you try to divert attention away by labeling it nonsense from “You Tube” and “UFOEvidence.com” Maybe you would take Captain Kenju Tarauchi’s OFFICIAL STATEMENT to the FAA seriously if it was posted on a blog on DiscoverMagazine.com? Yet, you say reputation holds no value. For nth+2 time, you contradict yourself by saying Radar readings are unacceptable because it is a “human technology.” Who’s technology shall we rely on then to conduct science experiments? How about to keep thousands of planes full of people from running into each other? I am not sorry to say that you clearly are more religious with your views on this matter because you choose to ignore variables that contradict the way you think things are simply because they don’t fall under the rules of your dogma.

    Nigel: At this point in the history of the subject, to say the phenomenon is a “human fallibility” is a matter of opinion. There is more evidence to suggest that it is an external, physical phenomenon rather than what you suggest. In some cases, hundreds of people have been witness to the phenomenon at the same time, and in others, like the one previously mentioned, it has also been tracked on radar IN CONJUCTION WITH visual following by pilots in the air.

    The Black Cat: “It is mathematically impossible to judge distances at that range without either a some sort of sensor (which airliners do not normally carry) or an object of known distance to compare it to. Otherwise it is just a wild guess.”

    What is your source for this information? Are you a pilot? This is just false.

    In the JAL1628 case, something DID show up on radar, that was the point of it being referenced. The object was so big, Radar registered it as weather. The print-out data that John Callahan provides shows the coordinates and other information for JAL1628 and also that of an unknown object performing impossible maneuvers reported VISUALLY by the crew. Two more similar incidents did in fact occur shortly after this one:

    Janurary 30, 1987 – A U.S. Air Force KC-135, in the same Alaskan airspace as JAL1628, sees objects similar those reported by JAL1628.

    Januray 31, 1987 – Alaskan Airlines flight 53 has a similar sighting to the previous two in the same skies.

    All three of these cases are documented by original communication recordings between the cockpit and Air Traffic Control obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests. So, did radar operators on the ground, three seperate aircraft crews, including one military, risk their entire way of life and conspire to dupe us all? You would have to say yes to call them liars, which in turn, makes you one of these “conspiracy-theory nuts.”

    Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZAvh5F_BHs

  171. @ ND:

    Interesting, that the people discussing that incident seem to be going about it in a very logical and methodical way: they compare ground track with satellite images, see what was going on with aurorae and solar activity, weather, etc.

    Yet when their conclusions don’t add up to the same conclusion as the UFO fans, the nutters don’t counter their conclusions with other evidence, rather they start up the same old “the FAA has to hide the facts” conspiracy b.s.

    And they wonder why they get the nutter tag?

  172. ND

    “But, to say that reputable witness testimony under oath cannot be accepted as a variable in this matter when it provides more data than the scientific method is insane.”

    This makes no sense! You keep pushing to have eyewitness testimony to be treated as hard evidence and fact when it cannot be.

    – Eyewitness testimony is not reliable because of human nature.
    – Judging objects at large distances is based on cues and can be misleading if those cues are very few or non-existent.

    These concepts well understood and come about from a long time of experience from scientific research. If you reject these then your own methodology of validating data in UFO research is flawed.

    Edit start:
    Take for example the size of the moon. It appears larger near the horizon near buildings and other familiar cues than it does higher in the sky.
    Take for example a bright point of light near the horizon? Is it Venus? No wait it’s a plane because I see now that it’s moving towards me almost along the line of sight. Was it an object millions of miles away or just a few miles?
    Edit end:

    Human fallibility is something you always have to account for and it’s not something to be ignored. We are all subject to our fallibilities.

    In the case of JAL1628, the pilots own testimony showed that at times the object he thought he was seeing was not seen on radar from the ground when he asked for confirmation.

    ” Maybe you would take Captain Kenju Tarauchi’s OFFICIAL STATEMENT to the FAA seriously if it was posted on a blog on DiscoverMagazine.com”

    No, the same critical arguments would be made as well.

  173. Rory

    This is the end of the page that I have attempted to have accepted 6 times and still no joy.
    However, I will keep trying and change the style but not the content of what I am submitting until hopefully it gets accepted!

    Examples of famous pseudo-skeptics and establishment defenders: (Check them all out and you will see that their actions fit the above description)

    * James Randi and his JREF crowd
    * Michael Shermer
    * CSICOP and their crowd
    * Penn and Teller and their “Bullsh1t” show (pun intended) which is an insult to one’s intelligence
    * The Mythbusters
    * Phil Plait and his “Bad Astronomy” folks

    Well, why was I not surprised to see your name included here! Yes you got it in one. No rocket scientist needed to work that out!

    I think it is time for those balanced, open-minded and genuine truth seekers amongst you to rethink your association with Phil Plait and his “Bad Astronomy”. I am sure that there are many good groups out there for skeptics that will not leave you lumped-in and tarnished with what is obviously considered by others (besides myself) to be a group dominated by Pseudos.

  174. ND

    Rory,

    Come back when you’ve understood the problems with appealing to authority.

  175. 159. Richard Says:

    October 5th, 2010 at 10:22 pm
    @Nigel, Kuhnigget, Messier Tidy
    Wow! Did Nigel try to bury my comment (#112) about the HARD EVIDENCE put forth by former FAA division chief John Callahan? He made 5 comments in a row right after mine and made no rebuttal, even though I asked for his opinion specifically. I find that hard to believe an oversight considering he has so much to say on the subject and he has responded to me before. Then he preaches to us about arrogance… I will chalk that up as a victory for those who don’t have their head buried in the sand.

    The thing about the radar scope images and JAL pilot sighting is that neither is evidence of extraterrestrial alien visitors. It is evidence of a radar contact we couldn’t identify in conjunction with a sighting of something the pilot could not identify. Neither of which even together indicates someone from another world is visiting.

  176. Richard

    @ Kuhnigget, ND, John Sandlin

    Let us be perfectly clear here. You are saying that, for instance, all the parties involved in the UFO flap over Alaska in 1986-87 that I’ve sited could be telling the truth, but you will not let that contribute to forming your opinion on the reality of the UFO phenomenon because no one can setup a science experiment like a 7th grader and achieve some magical result?

    Let me further clarify that it is only my personal opinion that SOME UFOs involve extra-terrestrial technology, I am not trying to convince anyone of that. However, in 2010, the question of whether or not the phenomenon is a real, physical one, independent of human consciousness, is no longer up for debate: the evidence is overwhelming to support JUST that notion, not necessarily that of an ET connection, which still may be POSSIBLE. If you find that difficult to agree with you are either uniformed or have one foot in the nuthouse.

    Furthermore, I never said witness testimony was hard evidence, I used that term in reference to the radar print-outs and video of the radar scope John Callahan has in his possession as one of the closest examples to hard evidence available for review here in this forum; forgive me for any confusuion. But, do know, under certain circumstances, witness testimony is RELEVENT when hard evidence is limited and/or unavailable. Please, read the middle paragraph of this page from the book Witness Testimony Evidence: Argumentation, Artificial Intelligence, and Law by Douglas N. Walton to get a better idea of where I’m coming from:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NUiqfszTvV0C&lpg=PA138&ots=S3bUmfJw1d&dq=is%20witness%20testimony%20hard%20evidence&pg=PA138#v=onepage&q=is%20witness%20testimony%20hard%20evidence&f=false

  177. Rory

    @ Richard

    Don’t waste any more of your time. I can see that they are already name-calling and describing you as a nut…such is the animal that you are dealing with and their insulting mode of non-debate and non-discussion. They are to a large extent ego driven addicts to their own beliefs and cannot see past what they have been indoctrinated to accept.

    You are only going to become a target for the mob to single you out for further attack in ever greater hostility, accompanied by the usual name-calling and ridicule. The one-lines from those not currently involved will soon be made about you in very unflattering ways. They actually think that they are intelligent and astute when making these comments – little do they know. This is their known mode of operation and soon they will be competing with each other to have a go at you. Hopefully this post might deter some, but I would not bet on it.

    Their manners, inability to study the subject they pontificate on, their self-righteous attitude and arrogance, their failure to research or investigate the other side of their own argument sums them up very well. They are perfectly well defined in my previous posts.

    They know nothing about this subject, but when you or anyone else mentions a case or suggests evidence, they then go running off to see what they can knock…not actually looking with an inquiring open mind to see if in fact there is a case to be made for your reference or to the point you were making. They will admit nothing that in any way might go against as you said their “religious” attitude / belief. You have been polite, made your case objectively and already look at how you are being ridiculed and treated. No matter how logical your argument or good your evidence nothing you say or provide will be accepted. Better to know that now than later.

    Regardless of the evidence out there, or that may come to light in the future, unless it happens to be an alien or a part of his DNA that is produced and verified (but by who!!!) they would still refuse to accept that they are wrong, or to change their dogmatic beliefs.

    If you arrived to their house with a flying saucer or part of one, it would never suffice, or constitute the ever-greater demands for more and better evidence that they would keep calling for. That evidence was never going to be enough. They would claim that it was probably man-made in a ‘black-ops’ facility somewhere, so sorry Richard – come back when you have an alien with you. The same people probably believe in black holes though they have never seen one, nor has it yet been fully proven as a fact that they exist! Your theory about aliens has not had the same scientific investigation done into it – so who knows!

    I will make one or two more posts which describes them and this site really well…………………….. concerning these narrow- minded pseudo-skeptics and their modis operandi.

    Regards and good luck if you decide to continue to waste your valuable time here trying to present your case and convince any of them – you won’t! You might as well be talking to a blank wall.
    If you doubt what I say….do the test.

    To be continued…..
    @ The Pseudos

  178. ND

    Wow, what a childish response.

    “If you arrived to their house with a flying saucer or part of one,…”

    Has this happened? You’re accusing people of having the capacity to ignore hard, irrefutable evidence when it shows up at their doorsteps. Where is the irrefutable evidence to begin with?

    I want to see a mothership as seen in Independence Day or District 9. That’s irrefutable evidence. Not some blips on radar that could be stray reflection from mountains in Alaska or eyewitness testimony after the fact or a bunch of lights flying in formation at night.

  179. flip

    Richard,

    Things that show up on radar (that can’t be seen/identified by pilots and ground control) *can* be things OTHER than aliens. For instance, it could just mean the radar isn’t working. It could mean it was a bird or debris. It could mean a lot of things. As such, radar is no more proof of aliens than is an ‘eye witness’ account. Unless there is a photo and video and eye witness, and you know, the plane knocks the saucer into the White House and a sample of the flying saucer is taken, ‘radar’ amounts to nothing more than: “there was a blip on the screen we can’t identify”. As the others have pointed out, eye witness accounts are “there was something we saw and we can’t identify it”. Notice how the two sentences are alike?

    The scientific method would actually attempt to remove all other possible explanations before ascribing an ‘alien’ hypothesis, and even then, you’d still need other corroborating evidence to confirm it, because of the above (and below) problems.

    Also, eye witness from a pilot plus radar is hardly evidence: just from watching those TV shows about plane crashes you can work out how pilots can get easily confused about what’s around them AND how planes can easily go wrong in various technical ways. Yep, even pilots get lost, forget things, ignore procedures, miscalculate, get distracted solving problems, or whatever. Which is more likely: a pilot thought they saw an alien spaceship which could have been a bird, whilst thinking ten different things and worrying about their altitude – or that there actually was an alien spaceship that just so happens to have been on a common flight path of us humans and didn’t bump into anything or leave any other signs of existence?

    “A UFO incident plays out more like a crime scene than a science experiment.”

    Er, do you realise how silly that statement is? Forensic SCIENTISTS use… SCIENCE. Duh.

  180. Rory

    @ The Pseudos

    Part 1.

    The following article which I will post in two parts portrays many of you guys, this site and what you try to do and I believe that it does it very well! A healthy skeptical outlook going through life is to be admired and is of course beneficial, but that unfortunately is not what many here portray or practice…in my opinion.

    Enjoy and learn instead of the usual knee-jerk reaction. If anything is being attacked it is not you personally, but your inflated egos! Can you understand that here may be a difference between the two! For one moment in your lives try to see yourselves and your behaviour as others may see you and not as you normally see yourselves and each other.

    Well guys, its worth a try ;-)

    Debunking Pseudoskepticism: Common fallacies on ET/UFO

    Postby Indigo Child » Fri May 22, 2009 12:46 am
    I had composed the following article for the Above Top Secret UFO forum. I am reposting it here because it is very relevant to this forum.

    I think there is a very severe problem of pseudoskepticism in the UFO community that impairs progressive research. I think the UFO community can benefit from clear thinking, and thus I am writing this brief primer on logic focussed particularly on the subject matter of Aliens and UFO’s. I will discuss the common fallacies used by pseudoskeptics and offer a rebuttal.

    I first want to clarify what I am not attempting to do.

    I am not attempting to prove anything. Simply because I am going to debunk common pseudoskeptical arguments, does not mean that the believers arguments have been proven. Rather, all I am going to do is use the principle of non-contradiction in logic and show that the arguments used by pseudoskeptics are logically contradictory.

    I am not vilifying skepticism. It is not possible for me to vilify skepticism without contradicting my own skepticism. We are all believers and skeptics, only that what we believe and what we are sceptical about varies from person to person.

    That said, there is an ideal skeptic. That is somebody who withholds judgement until they have explored all available evidence in a case. A skeptic is thus an investigator and their job is to investigate. Then, after the investigation is complete, the skeptic is able to offer a hypothesis which can account for all of the available data. Somebody who does not investigate a case is not a skeptic, they are merely doubters. Somebody who attempts to investigate, but makes suppositions and does not take into account all available evidence, but distorts evidence to fit their hypothesis is a pseudoskeptic.

    From hereon we will look at the common fallacious arguments used by pseudoskeptics in the context of Aliens and UFO’s. I do not claim to be exhaustive, I can only look at a limited set of arguments. If there are arguments not covered that that you think are fallacious and want me to debunk them, just request it and I will attempt to do so in another post.

    Now let us look at the common fallacies one by one.

    Argument: There is no proof or evidence that ET exists. Yes, it is true that the SETI equation shows that the probability of ET is very likely, but this is not proof in and of itself, only a mathematical possibility. Therefore ETH is not a valid explanation.

    Rebuttal: This is an invalid and logically contradictory argument. For the following reasons

    1) There is significant evidence and proof that ET exists. It is the job of the skeptic to investigate this evidence and ‘proof’ and come to a judgement on it.
    2) The probability of life on planets is 100%. This is not a mathematical possibility, but an empirical fact. Planet Earth is a planet and it is teeming with very diverse life, and it is commonly accepted by science that life appeared on this planet quickly after the Earth was born. It is an empirical fact that the phenomenon of life on planets is a part of our observable universe. Therefore there is no reason to speculate that life cannot be possible elsewhere.

    My opponent may argue that it is possible that life only formed on planet Earth and nowhere else. They may even point out that sample size I have of life in the universe is only one instance and this is not enough to make a generalization.

    Rebuttal: This is an argument from possibility fallacy. It is possible that Earth is the only planet that has life, but it is also possible that that Earth is not the only planet that has life. Mere possibility is not enough to make a case.

    The opponents argument is also self-contradictory. It is possible that there are no other minds in the world, I am the only one that has mind and everybody else is either a machine or imaginary. There is only one instance of mind, my own mind, so can I generalise from such a sample? The chances are the opponent takes this generalization for granted in his everyday life. In which case I can take ET for granted as well.

    In conclusion: ETH is a valid hypothesis and forms a part of our observable universe.

    Argument: It impossible for ET to travel here. The distances in space are astronomical, it would take thousands, if not millions of years to reach planet Earth even at the speed of light. But it is impossible to travel at the speed of light.

    Rebuttal: This is an argument from incredulity. The opponent does not believe a ET would make a trip from their home planet to Earth because the time it would take to get here is perceived to be too long and so it is unbelievable that ET would try. Just because something seems unbelievable it does not mean it cannot happen. It is unbelievable that somebody would survive a fall from a very high building, but it does happen. It is assumed that that the ET would be using FTL. Not necessarily. There are space craft planned on Earth that can reach a high percentage of the speed of light and they use as propulsion sources of energy available in the universe(hydrogen, sunlight) Thus an ET craft could do the same. Finally, the limitation of the speed of light does not apply to ET. This is because the speed limit of the speed light is one based on the predicates of General Relativity theory which states that if a mass is accelerated towards the speed of light its mass would become infinite and thus it would need an infinite amount of energy. Therefore FTL is impossible This is only a theory, there is no scientific theory which is conclusive or proven. A theory is only based on observations made in an observable universe and when new observations are made theories have to be adjusted, sometimes even rejected. As ET’s are a part of an unobservable universe, we cannot generalise any of our scientific theories to them. So none of the predicates of GR actually apply to them.

    All observations made in science are effects only, not causes. Mass itself is an effect, not a cause. Therefore finding a way to manipulate causes will manipulate effects. Take for example electricity, an electric current produced by a generator is an effect. When one learns the antecedent causes for the generation of electricity, one can manipulate the electric current generated with a transformer. There is no reason to believe that an ET race cannot learn to manipulate the mass-effects caused by the speed of light travel or overcome the speed of light barrier.

    In conclusion: The argument that ET cannot get to Earth is invalid.

  181. Rory

    Part 2.

    @ The Pseudos

    How is it going so far? Well at worst it is good to know what you call ‘The Nutters” are thinking and reading…no!

    Argument: It is completely absurd that an advanced ET race would come here and fly around in our skies like drunk pilots, abduct humans, make crop circles and mutilate cows.

    Rebuttal: This is again the fallacy of incredulity. If something seems unbelievable to us, it does not mean it does not happen. The behaviour of an alien race may seem strange to us, but then again behaviours of other cultures on our planet seem strange. Some cultures have rituals where the offspring kills their parents when they reach old age. That’s even stranger to me than some alien race doing any of the aforementioned.

    Abduction for the purposes of scientific investigation is not really strange at all. We humans are constantly abducting animals for the purpose of scientific investigation. So we have no valid objection to the abduction phenomena, other than perhaps an ethical objection.

    Argument: If ET exists and are visiting us, why don’t they just reveal themselves? Why would they hide? Its illogical.

    Rebuttal: But who says they are hiding? They maybe hiding from some, but it does not mean they are hiding from everyone. There are many people who claim they have encountered ET directly and many high-level witnesses in the government that have claimed contact has taken place. If their claims are true, ET is only hiding from some and not everyone.

    Why would ET not reveal themselves? I am tempted to give the usual speculative explanation of an intergalactic prime directive, but I will desist. Instead the objection of the opponent can be dismissed like the previous argument. It is another argument from incredulity fallacy.

    Argument: There is no scientific physical evidence of UFO‘s. No UFO samples. No ET DNA samples etc

    Rebuttal: This is an impossible demand. If any of this evidence even existed, what are the chances that this evidence would be mailed to the opponents home address for their personal inspection? Highly unlikely. Most people will have to rely on the authority of scientific experts who have handled the evidence. As they cannot handle the evidence themselves, they will have to simply trust the scientists.

    There is a big problem with evidence from testimony. It is subject to whether you believe the authority or disbelieve them. There are many authority figures who have actually claimed to have handled UFO’s, ET’s and ET metal samples. Marcel Vogel, the award winning scientist from IBM, publicly stated that the metal sample Billy Meier(the ET contactee) gave him could not have been manufactured on this Earth. The officials in the Roswell case who claim to have handled the UFO metal debris claim the metal has alien properties(it sounds very similar to modern shape memory alloys) Some scientists have testified that transistors are actually reverse engineered ET technology.

    So it is not the case that there are not authorities figures who have not handled ET physical evidence. If the opponent is genuinely sincere about their argument, now that it has been demonstrated such evidence allegedly exists and some scientists have handled it, they should accept it as proof. If not, the opponent must withdraw their argument as invalid because of their duplicity.

    I anticipate an objection. The objection is that there are no peer reviewed scientific physical evidence of UFO’s, therefore any scientific evidence that is not peer reviewed must be dismissed. This argument is invalid, because it commit’s the fallacy of appealing to an authority of some entity(a peer group) If some authority dismisses a scientists evidence, it does not mean that the scientists evidence is false, it simply means the authority doesn’t like it.

    Argument: If we accept ET UFO’s exist and is visiting us, then we may also have to accept goblins, big foot, loch ness monster and whatever to exists.

    Rebuttal: This is a slippery slope fallacy. There is absolutely no premise that entails that if you accept ET’s existence you have to accept other paranormal claims. All different paranormal claims, just like any claim, is to be treated individually.

    The opponent may counter by saying that it is difficult to distinguish a UFO from other claimed paranormal phenomena(spirits, plasma balls, orbs). This maybe true in some cases, but not all. In cases which describe actual physical crafts, sometimes in rather vivid details, except these physical craft are displaying alien behaviour and look alien, one can eliminate all of the other paranormal possibilities

    Argument: The UFO and ET reports by individuals are not necessarily true. They may claim a physical aircraft, but their data could be wrong. They could be lying, they could have misidentified something else for the UFO such as planet Venus, car headlights, swamp gas.

    Rebuttal: Merely argument from possibility is not enough. Yes, all the above counter-hypothesis may be true, but they may be false as well. It is the job of the skeptic to investigate all the available data, eliminate all hypothesis that do not fit the data, and then come up with a hypothesis that explains the available data.

    If the skeptic does not do that and instead makes suppositions, distorts the data, dismisses available data ,then it is invalid. Here is a simple hypothetical example of a distortion of data:

    UFO witness: I saw it as clear as I can see you right now. It was metallic, it was emitting a bright orange glow and it hovered right above me on the road. You know like that film Independence day, the mother ship just hovers above. It was just like that. It wasn’t only me who saw it, but my girlfriend as well. I am not lying I swear. I never believed in this stuff before, but I guess seeing is believing.

    Skeptic: You said it was on the road, how do you know that it was not just the headlight of a car or truck?

    UFO witness: Dude, I know what the headlight of a car or truck looks like. I’ve been driving on the road for 20 years. This was not a headlight.

    Skeptic: How can you be sure? If you were the on road and a very bright headline shines in your face, it is hard to see anything clearly and then its easy to imagine that there is something large in front of you. Are you telling me it is impossible that you are not mistaken?

    UFO witness: No, I am not saying that. Its always possible that one can be mistaken, but is it possible that both me and my girlfriend are mistaken.?

    Skeptic: Yes, loads of people may all agree they see a ghost, only to later find out it was a lighthouse. Shared delusions are possible.

    UFO witness: Look, I see what you are saying, but I believe 100% that I saw a UFO. I have never had an experience like this ever in my entire life.

    Skeptic: Then you agree it is just a belief you saw the UFO. Then my job is done. Case dismissed.

    The dialogue above is inspired slightly by the movie contact, when Jodie Foster in the end has to admit to the skeptics that as a scientist it is possible that she did not experience her journey. The tactics employed by the skeptic above are similar to tactics lawyers use in court rooms. It is not scientific at all and nor is it ethical. It is a bastardization of scientific research.

    Let us look at the problems in the skeptics dialogue with the UFO witness:

    1. The skeptic is overtly influencing the UFO witness and asking him leading questions
    2. The skeptic is using arguments from possibility to negate the UFO witness experience – “It is possible you saw a car headlight” it is also possible that he did not see a headlight, but a UFO. Therefore it is an invalid argument.
    3. The skeptic is not listening to the UFO witness, everything the witness says is explained away using the argument from possibility fallacy – “My girlfriend also saw it” – “But it is possible it was a shared delusion”

    The skeptic fails to account for the available evidence in this witness testimony. He claims that it was a headlight of some car, but the witness tells him he knows what a headlight looks like. The skeptic should be rejecting his hypothesis now, but instead he ends up debating it with the UFO witness. Then the UFO witness reveals that more than one witness say it, making it unlikely that two people would be seeing a hovering metallic, orange light emitting mothership in a headlight. Nor does the skeptic explain how a car headlight could look like the described UFO.

    These tactics are all fallacies and rhetoric, but regularly used by pseudoskeptics to dismiss everything they don’t like. Pilot testimonies – “It is possible that the pilot was dreaming” Radar reports – “It is possible the radar equipment malfunctioned” In all these cases the skeptic is debating a counter-claim and thus has a burden of proof themselves, but they behave as if they are immune from it.

    Source: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=27

  182. TheBlackCat

    Rory Says:
    Examples of famous pseudo-skeptics and establishment defenders: (Check them all out and you will see that their actions fit the above description)

    * James Randi and his JREF crowd
    * Michael Shermer
    * CSICOP and their crowd
    * Penn and Teller and their “Bullsh1t” show (pun intended) which is an insult to one’s intelligence
    * The Mythbusters
    * Phil Plait and his “Bad Astronomy” folks

    You obviously aren’t listening to anything anyone here says (funny, this is one of the criteria you list as being indicative of a pseudo-skeptic). You throw out a random list of people, with no source and without the slightest bit of a reason why any of those people are “pseudoskeptics”, and expect us to just accept the list without question. Why don’t you make even the slightest attempt to follow your own rules?

    I have read most or all of the books written by many of the people on your list, and none of them are even remotely similar to how you describe pseudoskeptics.

    I think it is time for those balanced, open-minded and genuine truth seekers amongst you to rethink your association with Phil Plait and his “Bad Astronomy”. I am sure that there are many good groups out there for skeptics that will not leave you lumped-in and tarnished with what is obviously considered by others (besides myself) to be a group dominated by Pseudos.

    Why? You still have not provided even the slightest shred of evidence that Phil is a pseudoskeptic. You have asserted it over and over and over, but you have flat-out ignored every request for the reason. You are asking us to just abandon Phil based solely on the baseless assertions of an anonymous commenter on his blog. You have given us no reason whatsoever to trust you, in fact your continued refusal to back up your assertions (funny how that is indicative of being a pseudoskeptic) gives us lots of reason to distrust you.

    Don’t waste any more of your time. I can see that they are already name-calling and describing you as a nut…such is the animal that you are dealing with and their insulting mode of non-debate and non-discussion. They are to a large extent ego driven addicts to their own beliefs and cannot see past what they have been indoctrinated to accept.

    What comments are you reading? Isn’t asking for evidence one of the criteria you yourself says is indicative of skeptics? Yet when we do it to an idea you like, that makes us pseudoskeptics.

    You are only going to become a target for the mob to single you out for further attack in ever greater hostility, accompanied by the usual name-calling and ridicule.

    Funny how your post contains nothing but “name-calling and ridicule”.

    Their manners, inability to study the subject they pontificate on, their self-righteous attitude and arrogance, their failure to research or investigate the other side of their own argument sums them up very well.

    Once again, this is an excellent descrption of your behavior. Where is your research, where is your investigation? People have been asking you for it from the beginning but instead of providing it, you post a long series of ad hominem attacks and use that as an excuse to not back up your assertions.

    @ The Pseudos

    I thought you said name-calling was bad…

    1) There is significant evidence and proof that ET exists. It is the job of the skeptic to investigate this evidence and ‘proof’ and come to a judgement on it.

    Funny how this evidence is not provided…

    2) The probability of life on planets is 100%. This is not a mathematical possibility, but an empirical fact. Planet Earth is a planet and it is teeming with very diverse life, and it is commonly accepted by science that life appeared on this planet quickly after the Earth was born. It is an empirical fact that the phenomenon of life on planets is a part of our observable universe. Therefore there is no reason to speculate that life cannot be possible elsewhere.

    Only someone who doesn’t understand mathematics at all could claim this.

    This is an argument from possibility fallacy. It is possible that Earth is the only planet that has life, but it is also possible that that Earth is not the only planet that has life. Mere possibility is not enough to make a case.

    Here you, or the anonymous person you quote from, demonstrates the pseudoskeptic trait of not being able to deal with possibilities. Saying that it is not certain that aliens exist is not the same thing as saying that it is certain that aliens don’t exist.

    The opponents argument is also self-contradictory. It is possible that there are no other minds in the world, I am the only one that has mind and everybody else is either a machine or imaginary. There is only one instance of mind, my own mind, so can I generalise from such a sample? The chances are the opponent takes this generalization for granted in his everyday life. In which case I can take ET for granted as well.

    Using logical fallacies, another trait of pseudoskeptics.

    It impossible for ET to travel here. The distances in space are astronomical, it would take thousands, if not millions of years to reach planet Earth even at the speed of light. But it is impossible to travel at the speed of light.

    Who here has made this argument? Phil, in fact, has specifically stated that he does think it is at least conceivable that aliens, or unmanned drones, could come here from another planet. In fact there is a TV episode he made airing tonight based explicitly on this scenario. I thought you were so familiar with Phil, how could it be that you don’t actually know what arguments he is making? Could it be that you are *gasp* saying something without having done sufficient research on the subject?

    And don’t give me that baloney about someone else having written this, if you are going to post something you need to stand by it or don’t post it. You have to take responsibility for your own posts.

    The argument that ET cannot get to Earth is invalid.

    Please show me anyone here who has made this argument.

    How is it going so far? Well at worst it is good to know what you call ‘The Nutters” are thinking and reading…no!

    No, they aren’t thinking and aren’t reading. Apparently they aren’t even reading their own posts, since they routinely violate their own rules.

    It is completely absurd that an advanced ET race would come here and fly around in our skies like drunk pilots, abduct humans, make crop circles and mutilate cows.

    Who has made this argument?

    There is a big problem with evidence from testimony. It is subject to whether you believe the authority or disbelieve them.

    The post never actually addresses this objection, it just asserts that certain people are reliable witnesses. It discounts everything we know about how the human mind and human senses work.

    The objection is that there are no peer reviewed scientific physical evidence of UFO’s, therefore any scientific evidence that is not peer reviewed must be dismissed.

    It is not a matter of it not being peer reviewed, it is a matter of it being missing entirely. We just have to take some peoples’ word that it exists, it is not available for others who want to look at it. In the end it is a question again of whether we trust the source. Science doesn’t work based on just taking someone word for something, results have to be replicable by others.

    The opponent may counter by saying that it is difficult to distinguish a UFO from other claimed paranormal phenomena(spirits, plasma balls, orbs). This maybe true in some cases, but not all. In cases which describe actual physical crafts, sometimes in rather vivid details, except these physical craft are displaying alien behaviour and look alien, one can eliminate all of the other paranormal possibilities

    People have described bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster in rather vivid detail, described their unusual behavior, and that the look different than a man in a suit/various objects in the water.

    The exact same arguments, evidence, and reasoning used to defend UFOs are used to defend things like bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. It is not a slipper slope argument, it is simply a demonstration of the flaws in the approach.

    Merely argument from possibility is not enough. Yes, all the above counter-hypothesis may be true, but they may be false as well. It is the job of the skeptic to investigate all the available data, eliminate all hypothesis that do not fit the data, and then come up with a hypothesis that explains the available data.

    … and rely on Occam’s razor when all else fails. This is the part where believers in the paranormal mess up.

    The skeptic fails to account for the available evidence in this witness testimony. He claims that it was a headlight of some car, but the witness tells him he knows what a headlight looks like. The skeptic should be rejecting his hypothesis now, but instead he ends up debating it with the UFO witness.

    Why should the skeptic reject that hypothesis? We know that people can mistake headlights for something else, people who have been driving on the road much longer and are just as certain they know what a headlight looks like. So why should we accept the testimony when we know the person could be mistaken? The witness’s assertion is NOT sufficient evidence to reject the hypothesis because the witness’s assertion is known, for a fact, to be unreliable.

    Then the UFO witness reveals that more than one witness say it, making it unlikely that two people would be seeing a hovering metallic, orange light emitting mothership in a headlight.

    But having two people see it doesn’t make it unlikely, since we know for a fact two people can mistake something just as one person can.

    Nor does the skeptic explain how a car headlight could look like the described UFO.

    That is because it is an imaginary scenario designed to make skeptics look bad.

    In all these cases the skeptic is debating a counter-claim and thus has a burden of proof themselves, but they behave as if they are immune from it.

    No, no, no. The burden of proof is always on the person claiming the phenomenon occurred, period. If someone is claiming that something extraordinary happened, the burden of proof is on them to show that it did happen, not on everyone else to show it didn’t happen.

    We know for a fact radar malfunctions, we know for a fact people dream, we know for a fact multiple experienced drivers can misidentify a headlight. We do not know for a fact that we are being visited be aliens. As Occam’s razor demands, as long as their are multiple explanations that fit the facts equally well, we must go with the explanation that requires assuming the existence of the fewest new phenomena. As long as there are explanations that fit the facts and do not require assuming the existence for things for which there is no other evidence for, basic logic dictates that we must use tentatively settle on those explanations.

  183. @ Black Cat:

    You could go back to Rory’s previous appearance on Dr. Plait’s blog and find him delivering the same “argument”.

    http: (slash slash) blogs (dot) discovermagazine (dot) com (slash) badastronomy (slash) 2008 (slash) 11 (slash) 25 (slash) aliens-yes-ufos-no (slash)

    (usual marks removed to avoid moderation delay)

    Rory’s routine is simple: show up making grandiose pontifications about UFOs and the irrefutable evidence for them being alien spaceships, much huffing and puffing when the usual gang disputes his claims and demands evidence, failure to provide that evidence and instead posts endless screeds of little or no germaneness usually copied from some ufo nutter website, acute attacks of martyr syndrome, random name calling while accusing others of same, eventual disappearance back into the anonymous land of the whackjobs.

    Everything old is new again. Except it’s not. It’s still old. And tired. And boring. And nutty.

  184. ND

    Rory is not listening. He’s literally arguing with a virtual pseudoskeptic in his head. Nothing more to say.

  185. What’s so hard about providing the evidence that is so convincing that aliens are visiting the earth? I mean it obviously has Rory and Richard convinced – so where is that evidence that convinced you? Or are you easily persuaded by hearsay and innuendo?

    You should probably guess that I as an amateur astronomer have spent a fair amount of time looking up at the sky. You might also guess I as an aviation enthusiast look up during the day time too since I’m looking at the aircraft flying all around. In all that observing I have never once seen anything that I could not attribute to something known or mundane.

    On the other hand, I suspect it is likely that we are not the only life in this galaxy, and probably not the only intelligent life, so I’m open to the chance they might visit us. It’s just that for every incident I’m aware of that the likelihood of a mundane explanation vastly out weighs the likelihood of an extraterrestrial alien explanation.

    Just because we haven’t explained every incident in terms of the mundane is not an excuse to invent alien visitors. There are usually many potential mundane explanations and occasionally not enough information to choose the likely answer, and often there just isn’t sufficient evidence to form any conclusion – including alien visitors.

    Are there UFOs? Obviously! Anytime a bird flies by but you can’t identify it as such, it is a UFO (or a tight flock of birds in the distance). Any time an out of focus bug flies past the lens of a camera as a blur, you can be sure it is a UFO. However, neither of these should prompt an assertion that these were alien beings come to visit. In case you don’t think you’d ever be fooled by such, just look at the YouTube and you can see it happens all the time.

    Did you know a lot of insets are effectively cigar shaped when you can’t see their wings?

  186. papageno

    Richard (#170):
    For the nth time, science is not applicable here and you have not shown that it is any more than the rule of law, which has developed a system for dealing with witness testimony of extraordinary circumstances; science has not.

    Of course it has: look up “accident investigation.”

  187. Nigel Depledge

    Richard (159) said:

    @Nigel, Kuhnigget, Messier Tidy

    Wow! Did Nigel try to bury my comment (#112) about the HARD EVIDENCE put forth by former FAA division chief John Callahan? He made 5 comments in a row right after mine and made no rebuttal, even though I asked for his opinion specifically.

    Hey, give me a chance. I was wading through all Rory’s crap in comment #100!

  188. Nigel Depledge

    Richard (112) said:

    John Callahan, Former FAA Division Chief,

    AKA, some guy. Presumably, this person is human, right? And therefore fallible.

    has produced radar print-outs and video of a radar scope showing an intermittent primary target in the location where the captain of Japan Airlines flight 1628 had reported unidentified objects while at 35,000 ft. over Alaska on November 17, 1986.

    OK, so what might cause an intermittent response on a radar scope, hmmm?

    Depending on the frequency of the radio used, it could be a weather phenomenon – clouds, rain, sharp temperature gradients causing lensing of the radar signal. I’m not saying it is any of these things – I’m saying we have known phenomena that cause this kind of response.

    Captain Kenju Tarauchi reported one of these objects was twice the size of an aircraft carrier, flying just hundreds of feet from his 747 and making maneuvers that are “impossible for any manmade machine to make.”

    This is classic UFOnut “evidence”.

    How does the pilot know how far the “objects” are from his plane when he doesn’t know what they are? With no reference points, humans are terrible at judging size and distance.

    For all the pilot knows – and for all we know, they could be birds lit up intermittently by the lights of his plane! This report is classically devoid of actual information. What angular size were the objects? What was the time of day and lighting conditions? Were the “objects” closer than any clouds of known distance? Or was there only clear sky behind them? What was their angular speed as observed by the pilot (i.e. how large an angle did they subtend over what time period)? Was the pilot’s attention wholly on these “objects” during the time they were visible, or was he also paying attention to his instruments and the view ahead (because maybe he was flying the plane?)? What kind of angle were the “maneouvres” that these objects performed? Were they moving towards or away from the aircraft as well as displaying “proper motion” (here I use the term proper morion in the way astronomers do)?

    Answers to these questions would be needed to (a) make a fair attempt at identifying the “objects”; and (b) support the conclusions that the pilot reached. In short, he doesn’t know anything, he merely reports a guess.

    So, we have no evidence that links the sighted “objects” with the radar response, other than a vague feeling that they occur in roughly the same area. And we have a sighting of objects that could be absolutely anything, including perfectly mundane things or phenomena.

    If this is your idea of “hard evidence”, then you know nothing of science.

  189. Gunnar

    It is incredible to me how anyone can fail to see how weak is the claim that incidents like that reported by Captain Kenju Tarauchi are compelling evidence of alien spacecraft! The most that one can logically deduce from his account of that incident is that he saw something that he did not know how to explain! This, by itself, is very far from compelling evidence of extra-terrestrial spacecraft!

    I, like some of the others involved in this discussion, once believed it was quite plausible and even likely that our planet was being visited on a regular basis by alien intelligences. I reluctantly gave up that belief as it became increasingly clear to me just how weak was the over-all evidence supporting that belief. If I were really as closed-minded as Rory accuses us of being, I would still be a “true-believer.” I would be delighted to find out that I was wrong about there being no contact with extra-terrestrials (provided, of course, that they were not hostile to terrestrial life). I would also be delighted to find that there is, after all, some practical and affordable way to get around the apparently daunting difficulties imposed on space travel by what we know of General Relativity and the astronomically vast interstellar distances. So far, the more I learn about verifiable scientific realities, the more it appears to me that the likelihood of either of those possibilities is dismayingly tiny.

  190. Nigel Depledge

    To elaborate a little about atmospheric phenomena affecting radio transmissions and hence radar returns…

    HF (3 – 30 MHz) signals are most affected by the ionosphere and the Earth’s surface. These are largely immune to terrestrial weather (which occurs mostly in the troposphere) but are at the whim of space weather (which affects the position of the ionosphere and the density of ionisation within it, often changing hour to hour). These are not used for radar because they are too useful for communications and they require very large antennas to make directional.

    VHF (30 – 300 MHz) signals are only sometimes affected by the ionosphere (well, signals at 30 MHz behave a little bit like HF in that they will refract within the ionosphere, they just require denser ionisation to do so than do most HF signals) – when the ionisation is especially dense, signals in this range will refract and travel farther than usual (known as “sporadic E” in reference to the E-layer of the ionosphere). However, they are also only occasionally affected by terrestrial weather (signals at the high end of VHF can be affected by tropoducting, but the temperature inversion has to be very deep and the gradients at its boundaries must be steep for this to occur – more on this further down). These signals are not generally used in radar, to the best of my knowledge.

    UHF (300 MHz – 3 GHz) is where this gets a bit more relevant. These signals are used in radar systems (as well as terrestrial TV transmissions and GSM phones). Signals in this range are often affected by weather, but are almost never affected by the ionosphere. Tropoducts can carry these signals far farther than is usual. A tropoduct occurs when a temperature inversion causes unusual gradients of temperature in the atmosphere. Since, of course, temperature affects density of the air, too, this results in density gradients that are different from the gross atmospheric structure. These density gradients can quite effectively refract signals in this range, carrying them farther than usual or even carrying them around corners. They most often occur when the atmosphere is still (turbulent air messes up the temp gradients) and therefore correspond with high-pressure regions. When you get interference on your terrestrial TV signal caused by weather conditions, it is a tropoduct carrying a signal to your antenna that you do not normally detect. This can also affect radar signals in this range, causing a radar system to detect an object briefly and then have the object disappear off the radar scope. If multiple tropoducts are affecting the radar signal (unusual but far from impossible), then an object can be observed intermittently. The high end of UHF is verging on microwaves. To some extent, signals in this range (particularly at the higher end) are absorbed by water.

    SHF (3 – 30 GHz) is definite microwave territory. Your microwave oven probably works in this frequency range (wavelengths of 10 cm – 1 cm). IIUC, some radar systems use signals in this range. Signals in some parts of this range are absorbed by water, so dense clouds will absorb the signal whereas thin cloud will absorb the signal to a lesser extent. IIUC, in other parts of this range, the signals are reflected by water drops of various sizes (and it is these ranges that are used in weather radar).

    So, what we have is two separate mechanisms (troposhperic refraction and absorption by water droplets) whereby radar signals can give an intermittent reflection off a metallic object, and in one of those mechanisms the object need not within the radar system’s normal range, and the apparent direction of the radar reflection may not be in the actual direction towards the object.

    This is all based on my general knowledge of the behaviour of radio signals. I do not have enough specific knowledge of radar to speculate with any surety about what might cause entirely spurious reflections.

    IIUC, however, birds flying through rain can also generate a spurious radar reflection if the flock is dense and cohesive. This reflection can disappear when the flock becomes less dense, so that might be another mechanism that could generate an intermittent radar response.

  191. Nigel Depledge

    Typo correction:

    When, in comment 188, I said:

    I use the term proper morion . . .

    I meant, of course, “proper motion”.

  192. Nigel Depledge

    Richard (170) said:

    Kuhnigget: I appreciate you sticking to your guns. But, to say that reputable witness testimony under oath cannot be accepted as a variable in this matter when it provides more data than the scientific method is insane.

    No. Insanity is drawing a conclusion that is not justified by the evidence.

    Insanity is over-interpreting the one inadequate and unreliable piece of information that you do have.

    Insanity is not asking further questions about it.

    Insanity is not thinking about what known phenomena might possibly account for what was observed.

    Insanity is expecting one or two people to give an accurate, detailed account of something that they saw that does not fit anything with which they are familiar.

    . . . you cry about the lack of scientific evidence, while there is also a lack of ideas on how to apply the scientific method to gain the desired evidence;

    It’s easy: acquire some hard evidence. Pieces of an alien sapceship. Alien biological samples. Any of these would be fine. Failing some decent evidence to support your conclusions, try getting some evidence that at least suggests there is something here to investigate. High-quality video of repeated observations that are consistent wth one another – these would need to show at the very least that what is observed is more than just random lights in the sky.

    How you go about acquiring that evidence is your problem. Real scientists have real phenomena to investigate – why should they waste their time on your fantasies?

    However, the easiest way to get high-quality video would be to set up multiple cameras (high-quality, high-sensitivity cameras) in places where you think sightings might occur. Night after night. Year after year. You’ll see lots of stuff, including planets, planes, birds, satellites, clouds, meteors and so on. You’re certain to pick up some stuff you can’t identify. These are what you need – make them public, and you’ll get lots of suggestions for what they might be. After this critical winnowing process, you may even have some left over for which no-one can suggest a likely explanation. These need to be analysed comparatively (i.e do they match one another?). If you have observations that are consistent and repeatable, you may even have a starting point for some real science.

    no one here certainly has any ideas on how to do that.

    See above.

    For the nth time, science is not applicable here

    Rubbish!

    The process of science is the only method we have of finding out reliably how reality is.

    If your field of interest does not fit with the scientific process, then you absolutely have no grounds for claiming the existence of a new phenomenon.

    and you have not shown that it is any more than the rule of law,

    Easy:
    You’re talking about a phenomenon that is, essentially, unknown to humanity. You are positing the existence of something that has not been reliably observed. The rule of law is a matter of opinion. Lawyers learn how to sway the opinion of a jury, using real evidence where they can, but using other techniques where they have little or poor evidence. Science, OTOH, is not about opinion, it is about reality. Science is the process whereby we fallable humans learn what is real and what is not.

    Therefore, the scientific approach is most certainly the more relevant.

    . . .testimonials from two reputable people

    Are they human? Yes? Then they can be mistaken. Therefore, eyewitness testimony is not reliable (in fact, even lawyers know not to rely on it!).

    Therefore, you have no evidence.

    who have come into contact with the same UFO phenomenon;

    Actually, how do you know it is the same phenomenon? Just because it occurred in roughly the same place? That’s not what I call convincing. Why do you find it convincing?

    . . . Maybe you would take Captain Kenju Tarauchi’s OFFICIAL STATEMENT to the FAA seriously if it was posted on a blog on DiscoverMagazine.com?

    We already take it seriously in terms of accepting that it says what he believed he saw.

    We also know that, as evidence of a new phenomenon, it is utterly useless.

    Yet, you say reputation holds no value. For nth+2 time, you contradict yourself by saying Radar readings are unacceptable because it is a “human technology.” Who’s technology shall we rely on then to conduct science experiments?

    Actually, I think the point that kuhnigget was trying to make was that radar often returns “ghosts”, or returns that have no identification (otherwise, why would planes need to be fitted with radar transponders?). A lot can happen to the radar signal pulse between it leaving the antenna and it arriving back at the antenna. Some of these things can generate spurious signals.

    Therefore, a single recording of a radar return is not reliable enough to use as evidence for a new phenomenon.

    However, if you had multiple radar stations describing the same thing in the same place at the same time, then I might take you more seriously. It still wouldn’t prove “alien spaceships”, but it at least would hint that there is a real phenomenon to investigate.

    . . . you choose to ignore variables that contradict the way you think things are simply because they don’t fall under the rules of your dogma.

    And you are ruling out the possibility that eyewitnesses might be mistaken, and the possibility that radar returns can be spurious. You have no basis on which to do so.

    Nigel: At this point in the history of the subject, to say the phenomenon is a “human fallibility” is a matter of opinion.

    No. In every sighting, human fallability is possible. In most of them, it is far more likely than that a new phenomoenon has been observed. In all of them, it is many orders of magnitude more likely than “alien spaceships”.

    Yet, without any justification, you rule out human fallability as a possible explanation.

    There is more evidence to suggest that it is an external, physical phenomenon rather than what you suggest.

    Of course there is.

    Planets, birds, clouds, planes, satellites etc. All of these are external phenomena. All of them are known to exist. And all of them get reported as UFOs from time to time.

    What I am saying is, for that little percentage where no positive identification can be made, it is far more likely that the witness has misunderstood or mis-reported a known phenomenon in an unfamiliar circumstance than that they have observed a new phenomenon. And that an unknown but terrestrial phenomenon is far more likely than “alien spaceships”.

    In some cases, hundreds of people have been witness to the phenomenon at the same time, and in others, like the one previously mentioned, it has also been tracked on radar IN CONJUCTION WITH visual following by pilots in the air.

    Hundreds of people can be just as mistaken and just as ignorant as one, especially if they talk to each other during the sighting.

    You have not shown that the sighting and the radar return were the same phenomenon. All you have shown is that it is believed they were in roughly the same area. And that is assuming that the pilot saw anything more than lights reflecting off a cloud.

    In short, none of your “evidence” is unambiguous. None of it is reliable. And none of it is convincing.

  193. @ Nigel:

    I use the term proper morion . . .

    Yeah, there seem to be several proper morions hanging around here… :)

  194. Nigel Depledge

    Richard (170) said:

    The Black Cat: “It is mathematically impossible to judge distances at that range without either a some sort of sensor (which airliners do not normally carry) or an object of known distance to compare it to. Otherwise it is just a wild guess.”

    What is your source for this information? Are you a pilot? This is just false.

    No.

    Once beyond a certain distance, the human binocular visual system is not able to discern the minute changes in angle that result from things being at different distances.

    Therefore, without either some kind of range-finder or some visual references (which, in the sky, are generally absent), there is no way of reliably judging distance.

    In the JAL1628 case, something DID show up on radar, that was the point of it being referenced. The object was so big, Radar registered it as weather.

    So, the radar system showed something that registered as weather, in approximately the same area as something the pilot saw which might have been lights from the ground illuminating a cloud. Or may have been something else.

    So, in fact we have no way of knowing what the pilot saw. But there exist any number of possibilities.

    The print-out data that John Callahan provides shows the coordinates and other information for JAL1628 and also that of an unknown object performing impossible maneuvers reported VISUALLY by the crew.

    So, this “weather” (as it was identified by the radar) was performing impossible maneouvres – despite the fact that the pilot had no reliable means of judging either size or distance, and despite the fact that he later acknowledged it could have been lights from the ground refelcting off a cloud.

    Two more similar incidents did in fact occur shortly after this one:

    Janurary 30, 1987 – A U.S. Air Force KC-135, in the same Alaskan airspace as JAL1628, sees objects similar those reported by JAL1628.

    Januray 31, 1987 – Alaskan Airlines flight 53 has a similar sighting to the previous two in the same skies.

    All three of these cases are documented by original communication recordings between the cockpit and Air Traffic Control obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests. So, did radar operators on the ground, three seperate aircraft crews, including one military, risk their entire way of life and conspire to dupe us all?

    No, of course not.

    But it is far more probable that they were honestly mistaken than that there really was some alien spaceship there.

    You would have to say yes to call them liars, which in turn, makes you one of these “conspiracy-theory nuts.”

    There is no need to invoke any kind of conspiracy.

    Since the sighting could easily be explained by the pilot mistaking what he saw (and, there is a conspicuous absence of any correlating data that might corroborate his judgements about size, speed, distance and maneouvres performed) and by the radar actually detecting some weather phenomenon. Or detecting a real signal from some innocuous object, but that was affected in some way by a weather phenomenon.

    Sorry, there is no way that “alien spaceship” is a plausible explanation for this report.

  195. Nigel Depledge

    @ kuhnigget (193) –
    LOL!

  196. Nigel Depledge

    Richard (176) said:

    @ Kuhnigget, ND, John Sandlin

    Let us be perfectly clear here. You are saying that, for instance, all the parties involved in the UFO flap over Alaska in 1986-87 that I’ve sited could be telling the truth, but you will not let that contribute to forming your opinion on the reality of the UFO phenomenon because no one can setup a science experiment like a 7th grader and achieve some magical result?

    Clearly you do not understand science.

    Human perception is flawed and unreliable.

    One of the key aspects of science is that observations be repeatable and reproducible. The very nature of UFO sightings prohibits this, and the refusal of UFO enthusiasts to shell out some dough and acquire the gear to obtain at least some reasonable data (as I briefly outline in comment 192) means that, essentially, the argument is over speculation only.

    eyewitness testimony is not reliable. Therefore, even if many people see the same phenomenon, you cannot use this testimony as data to posit the existence of some hitherto-undiscovered phenomenon. In fact, what you’ll usually get when many people witness the same event is many differing accounts of that event.

    So, the UFO phenomenon is not taken seriously by scientists because there is no information. IF some extraordinary evidence were to come to light to demonstrate that there is a genuine new phenomenon to investigate, then you would have scientists falling over each other to investigate it. Until then, not interested. It could be anything, and there’s no data on which to base any judgement.

    In the absence of any real data, there’s no reason to suppose that there is a hitherto-unknown phenomenon to investigate.

    Let me further clarify that it is only my personal opinion that SOME UFOs involve extra-terrestrial technology, I am not trying to convince anyone of that.

    I’d be interested to know why you think that alien technology is involved in some UFO sightings. After all, we have precisely zero evidence that alien technology exists at all.

    However, in 2010, the question of whether or not the phenomenon is a real, physical one, independent of human consciousness, is no longer up for debate: the evidence is overwhelming to support JUST that notion, not necessarily that of an ET connection, which still may be POSSIBLE.

    No. There is precisely no evidence at all that UFO sightings result from anything more than people being mistaken about what they see.

    Or has someone answered my comment (162) from yesterday without me noticing it in the deluge of stuff in this thread??

    If you find that difficult to agree with you are either uniformed or have one foot in the nuthouse.

    I cannot understand why you think there is any justification for believing that alien technology has some link to UFO reports. From what I have read of your position in this thread so far, you do not understand the scientific process, you have no grasp of what real evidence is – especially when discussing an entirely new phenomenon – and you seem to believe that certain people are less human (and therefore less prone to be mistaklen whe nobserving something unfamiliar) than everyone else.

    Think about these examples of people who have proposed entirely new phenomena to explain observations:
    Darwin – he was right, and acknowledged by most scientists of his day because he had plenty of evidence to back up most of his claims.
    Wegener – he was right, but his evidence was inadequate and he could not convince anyone that continental drift really occurred. A few decades later, when some extraordinary evidence came to light, he was shown to have been right.
    Fleischman and Pons – their claim of cold fusion was received sceptically by the science community but enthusiastically by the media. They were subsequently shown to be wrong. Their observation was not reproducible. There still exists the faint possibility that they really did observe some previously-unknown phenomenon, but they certainly over-interpreted their data.

    In all cases, the extraordinary claim required extraordinary evidence. Whether right or wrong, it is irrational to accept a claim like this without some substantial evidence to back it up.

    Furthermore, I never said witness testimony was hard evidence, I used that term in reference to the radar print-outs and video of the radar scope John Callahan has in his possession as one of the closest examples to hard evidence available for review here in this forum; forgive me for any confusuion.

    But those radar printouts could be anything. So in what way do they contribute to your point, and how do they illustrate that UFO reports are anything more thna people being mistaken when they see known phenomena with which they themselves are unfamiliar??

    But, do know, under certain circumstances, witness testimony is RELEVENT when hard evidence is limited and/or unavailable. Please, read the middle paragraph of this page from the book Witness Testimony Evidence: Argumentation, Artificial Intelligence, and Law by Douglas N. Walton to get a better idea of where I’m coming from:

    But, in pretty much every case, the court demands that there is hard evidence that a crime has occurred. If I accuse someone of shoplifting in a particular shop, I will be ridiculed if the shop has no stock missing. And rightly so. Similarly, in law, there is always some hard evidence on which to draw a simple initial conclusion – that there is something to be investigated. So far, no-one has presented any hard evidence that there is anything to UFO sightings beyond people being mistaken.

    The fact that almost all UFO reports can be identified as known phenomena suggests that it is fairly likely that all reports are of known phenomena. Those few that remain unidentified are – most probably – merely those where the accounts are too vague or too inaccurate to make a reliable identification of what was seen.

    Even if there really is some new phenomenon, there is no evidence to justify a thorough investigation. Investigations will wait until the phenomenon os shown to be real. Go and look up Sprites on wikipedia.

  197. ND

    Richard and Rory,

    Judging distance to an object in the sky is one of the main issues with a lot of these UFO reports. The issues and difficulties in judging distances to points of light and non-distinct objects in the sky with little or no references to compare has been brought up. This critical in evaluating the quality of the data. Do you guys agree or disagree with the problems of judging distances that have been brought up in this thread?

    One cannot completely remove scientific methodology because it is such a useful tool. Determining how the data was determined and the uncertainties in that data are critical. You guys seem to be taking it for granted when someone says they visually confirmed a point of light 2000 feet away. Even the most reputable and honest people can be mistaken and therefor this is nothing personal with those reporting something that for them appears strange.

    When the most reputable and brilliant scientists come up with new hypothesis or what appears to be breakthrough results research, they are still subject to and subjectED to critical evaluation. If Stephen Hawking’s next brilliant idea does not hold up to observation, well so much for that. If the next cold-fusion like results do not hold up to reproducibility, then something most likely went wrong with the original research.

  198. ND

    It seems Nigel Depledge touched on the same thing I touched on in my last paragraph. I had not read his post yet.

    I hope what has been written so far explains where most skeptics who have posted here are coming from. It’s based on the long experience of human beings trying to figure out how nature works. This is not some religious, knee-jerk, close-minded reaction.

    If you’re going to base a belief or conclusion on some data, you better know how reliable that data is to begin with!!!

    I really want to hear from Richard and Rory on the issues raised in this thread regarding judging distances.

  199. TheBlackCat

    @ ND: “I really want to hear from Richard and Rory on the issues raised in this thread regarding judging distances.”

    I suspect, if they answer at all, it will be a baseless assertion that pilots and other “expert” observers can judge distance, without actually explaining how they could accomplish this. I would be very surprised if they even acknowledge the existence of the fundamental limits of the human visual system that we have brought up.

  200. ND

    TheBlackCat,

    Yeah, I think you’re justified in your pessimism there :(

  201. TheBlackCat

    The Black Cat: “It is mathematically impossible to judge distances at that range without either a some sort of sensor (which airliners do not normally carry) or an object of known distance to compare it to. Otherwise it is just a wild guess.”

    What is your source for this information? Are you a pilot? This is just false.

    If you want a specific source, try Principles of Neural Science by Kandel and Schwartz. The section on depth perception is on page 558 of the fourth edition, although it may be somewhere else in the fifth edition (look up “stereopsis” in the index) .

    Specifically, it says that real depth perception, using the difference in what the two eyes are seeing, stops working by around 100 feet. It discusses the other cues humans can use to gauge depth, but none of them apply in the situation you described and in many other UFO cases. Specifically:

    1) Familiarity with the size of an object: only works for objects we are familiar with
    2) Occlusion (one object blocking another): only works when there is something of known distance in front of or behind the object, and that can only be used to establish the minimum and maximum range of the object, respectively, not the exact range.
    3) Linear perspective (vanishing point): can only be used when there are known parallel lines in the environment, like roads or the edges of walls, that are right next to the object.
    4) Size perspective (apparent size relative to an object of known distance): only works for objects we are familiar with.
    5) Distribution of shadows and illumination: only works with objects we are familiar with
    6) Apparent motion due to head movement (parallax): only works for objects that stay stationary relative to whatever movements you are making and when you can compare to a fixed object of known distance.

    These are fundamental limits of physics, geometry, and human biology. There is no way to overcome these limitations through training or experience. You might be able to get better at judging parallax or the size of a familiar object, but that doesn’t help you when there are simply no cues available from which to judge the distance.

    If you think that the pilot can accurately gauge depth at that range, you need to explain exactly what cues he can use to do so. Just asserting that he can do so is not sufficient, you need to explain specifically how.

    And for the reasons I have just explained, “training” or “experience” are not explanations, since no amount of training will allow you to make use of information that does not exist. You would need to explain exactly what cues the training or experience is allowing the pilot make use of.

  202. Nigel Depledge

    The Black Cat (201) said:

    . . . no amount of training will allow you to make use of information that does not exist.

    I contend that you are wrong here: Richard and Rory seem to have made extensive use of information that does not exist! ;-)

  203. Nigel Depledge

    Doing a bit more morbid dissection here…

    Rory (142) said:

    “The difference between pseudoskepticism and skepticism appear in the conduct of an individual’s actions. Among the indications of pseudoskeptical actions are:

    1. Resorting to various logical fallacies (usually in an attack against those disputing a theory).

    And do you have any specific examples of sceptics in this thread employing logical fallacies?

    2. The assumption of facts (such as, stating theories determine phenomena).

    Actually, all the sceptics who have posted in this thread have been stating and re-stating that there are too few facts on which to base any conclusion about the few still-unidentified UFO reports.

    In the utter absence of reliable data, the only reasonable option is to assume the presence of known phenomena that have been misunderstood or mis-represented (almost certainly entirely innocently) by witnesses who are unfamiliar with those phenomena.

    3. The obfuscation of facts.

    Do you have any examples from this thread where sceptics have obfuscated?

    4. The use of attractive or neutral euphemisms to disguise unpleasant facts concerning their own positions.

    Again, any examples?

    As a defender of the UFOnuts, you are assuming something unjustifiable. Your assumption is that “alien spaceships” is just as plausible an explanation for unidentified sightings as erroneous reporting of phenomena that are known (but are unfamiliar to the observer who makes the report). You have repeatedly and persistently ignored this fact.

    5. Insisting that fundamental framework and theory of science hardly change.

    It depends on what you mean here. This sounds glib, but what does it actually mean? If it means we discard the key role that physical evidence plays in furthering humanity’s understanding of the universe, then of course we would object. Without reference to evidence, how can you tell that your ideas match reality? If, OTOH, you mean the overtunring of long-held conclusions, or the shift of a paradigm, then scientists thrive on this. However, they demand real, unambiguous evidence to do this.

    6. Unwavering belief that science is a consensus and run on majority rule.

    Heh. No. You’ve obviously never been to a scientific conference. Consensus is a slow and lumbering thing in science, and it usually follows about a decade behind the cutting edge.

    Science depends on a preponderance of evidence. For example, the preponderance of evidence regarding the movement of continents leads us to the theory of plate tectonics.

    7. Maintaining a stance of hostility and intolerance.

    Why should we tolerate conclusions that are no more than childish fantasy? Can you not understand being on the receiving end of hostility when you persistently ignore at least one of the most fundamental aspects of critical thinking? In your case, you completely ignore humanity’s existing knowledge of the universe at large, and our knowledge of human fallability. In so doing, you conclude that “alien spaceships” is as plausible an explanation for UFO reports as any other. But in fact the opposite is true – that explanation is many orders of magnitude less likely than that the observer failed to understand (or failed to accurately describe) what they saw. “Alien spaceships” is thus implausible as an explanation for UFO reports.

    8. Instituting hurdles against new theories by “moving the goalposts”.

    When has any sceptic in this thread done this?

    9. Ignoring intellectual suppression of unorthodox theories.

    There’s a difference between “unorthodox” and “ludicrous”. Go get yourself a dictionary. If your “unorthodox” theory had any supporting evidence at all, most of us would be delighted to investigate further.

    10. Judging a theory or phenomena without investigation and insisting on ignoring the details thereafter.”

    Heh. As I have said before, the details only matter if the means of acquiring them is reliable. If all you have is ambiguous eyewitness accounts and ambiguous radar returns, the details really don’t matter, because your starting point is unsound. Any claim you make on that basis is built on sand.

    In the SCEPCOP forum, Steve Trueblue observed these five consistent patterns in pseudoskeptics:

    “As a skilled observer you will also note that Pseudoskeptics:

    1. Seldom, in fact almost never, ask questions, reflecting Zero Curiosity thus learning difficulties

    And …?

    Do you have examples of any sceptics in this thread who have not asked questions?

    Come to think of it, do you have any examples of UFOnuts or UFOnut defenders who have answered questions posed to them?

    2. Practice a very high level of self deception and mistakenly believe they can lie to adults as they did in childhood

    This is only relevant if you can come up with examples where people have lied.

    3. Display markedly deficient reading and comprehension skills

    Hey, that’s . . . you!

    4. Display inability to connect thoughts sequentially and plan an argument- often defeating their own case

    Again, that’s the UFOnuts and the UFOnut defenders.

    Most of the arguments you have made require that the people making UFO reports have reported with perfect accuracy. Knowing what we know of human perception, that is simply not credible.

    5. Depend on bluster and bullying and name calling to make up for lack of argument content”

    Where has any sceptic blustered or bullied in this thread?

    As for the term “UFOnut”, I feel it is perfectly justified. When you demand that a ridiculous thing be considered as a plausible explanation, expect to be ridiculed.

    In short, these pseudoskeptics are materialist fundamentalists driven by fanatical beliefs and views which they seek to proselytize to the world. Regardless of the facts and evidence, they always START and END with the following dogmatic positions:

    * Paranormal claims are all bunk and cannot be true. There is no evidence for them.

    None of the “evidence” presented for paranormal claims withstands any detailed scrutiny. In the case of UFOs being perhaps alien spaceships, there really isn’t any evidence that is worth considering, because it all requires that eyewitnesses report with perfect (or near-perfect) accuracy, despite the difficulties inherent in judging such factors as size, distance speed and so on.

    * Conspiracies are all false. There is no evidence for them. Official sources are not to be questioned.

    Do you have any evidence that any organisation is conducting a worldwide conspiracy to cover up the presence of alien spaceships? Official sources are only to be questioned if you have a good reason to question them. That they contradict your fantasies is not a good reason on its own.

    * Anything that challenges the status quo and materialism is wrong and must be debunked.

    Interesting choice of words here. It is only possible to debunk that which is bunk. Ergo, this comment is self-defeating. However, addressing its spirit rather than its letter: the status quo is forever changing as we learn more about the universe and how it works. However, there are some things that science has discovered in the last 200 years that are so firmly supported by evidence that they are accepted as fact – in the same way that we accept as fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. As for “challenges [to] materialism”, how do you suggest we go about increasing our understanding of the universe without reference to material evidence?

    * Only natural materialistic explanations are acceptable. Paranormal ones are not.

    This is phrased wrong. The only explanations that are accepted are those that are supported by evidence, or by reasonable extrapolations from what is already known. Anything that contradicts what is already known, or that demands assumptions that are unreasonable in the context of what is already known, must be supported by extraordinary evidence. In the case of UFOs, I have alluded several times to the kinds of evidence that would be required to either demonstrate that alien spaceships exist, or demonstrate that there is some new phenomenon worthy of investigation.

    They begin with those precepts and always come back to them, regardless of the facts or evidence in any investigation or debate, EVERYTIME.

    Where are your facts?

    Where is your evidence?

    Sorry, anecdotes don’t count. Never have, never will.

    Fuzzy, ambiguous photos or video don’t count. Never have, never will.

    Ambiguous radar returns don;t count. Never have, never will.

    Where is your real evidence that UFO reports are something more than just the failure of someone to identify an unfamiliar phenomenon?

    Aside from “some guy saw something he couldn;t identify”, what are the facts?

    That’s one consistent thing you will notice about them. And they will resort to playing games, ridicule, denial, even deliberate distortion to maintain these core positions. That’s why they are not really capable of serious honest discussion. Instead, they play games and cheat at them in order to win. I’ve seen them do it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how much proof or evidence you have. All of that is irrelevant to them.

    This paragraph describes the UFOnuts.

    It doesn’t matter how often you point out that they have no evidence for alien spaceships, they repeatedly insist that their “expert witnesses” and “trained pilots” can never, ever be mistaken when observing a phenomenon with which they are unfamiliar. They then make the mistake of concluding that – if no-one can identify what was seen based on the little detail that can be gleaned from the reports, then it perforce must be alien spaceships or time travellers or something equally implausible. Because, of course, everyone who reports a UFO is a superhuman observer and simply cannot be mistaken.

    They will never admit that they’ve lost, even though technically they have. When cornered by facts and reason, they resort to denial or ad hominem attacks. Or they even will spin your own arguments against you, without basis. It’s like winning a chess game against an opponent, and even though the rules say they are checkmated, they still refuse to admit defeat. That’s not fair, honest, or decent behavior.

    So, Rory, this describes you to a T. Your position was checkmated before you even started. The UFOnuts really do deserve the ridicule that we sceptics heap upon them, but every argument they make and every conclusion they draw is built on sand – because they assume that the reports are all accurate, and they assume that “alien spaceships” is just as likely as any other explanation.

    No. If ninety-whatever percent of UFO accounts have definitely been identified as mundane phenomena, then the most plausible explanation is that all UFO reports are mundane phenomena – it’s just that there’s a few reports for which the detail that would be required to make a reasonable identification is absent, too vague, or simply wrong. This lack of positive identification is certainly not evidence of some hitherto-unknown phenomenon.

    In short (oops!), I think we can safely conclude that Rory’s references to “pseudosceptics” are not relevant to the thread.

  204. Nigel Depledge

    @ Rory (143) –
    You really should practice what you preach.

    Keep an open mind, but not so open that something important falls out.

    Your starting point seems to be that humanity knows nothing of the universe at all, and that all possibilities are equally probable until they have been ruled out absolutely.

  205. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (152) said:

    My criticism of Phil Plait and the biased article he wrote still stands and is obvious to any one who even knows the basic facts that are available (without speculating as to the origin of these unexplained UFOs).

    And your criticism appears to boil down to this:

    “Waaaah! Nasty scientist wants me to back up my claims with evdience! Not fair! Waaah!”

    Obviously, I’m grossly exaggerating for comedic effect, but the point remains the same.

    You blather on about “facts” and “evidence” when all you have are unreliable eyewitness reports (and, no, it doesn’t matter who witness the light in the sky, humans are all fallable) and the odd vague and ambiguous photo or video. Oh, and some equally vague and ambiguous radar returns.

    None of this is any use as evidence, especially if you want to make an extraordinary claim (i.e. that there is a completely new phenomenon at work).

  206. Heh….morbid indeed.

    Rory has retreated to his cave, nesting down in stacks of comforting MUFON reports and the latest crop of nutter publications, fortifying himself against the evil skeptics who refuse to believe, waiting for the day – perhaps in another six months or so – when he can re-emerge and pounce on another of the good doctor’s posts, there to decree his views with renewed zeal, to brace himself for the inevitable attacks armed with pages of irrelevant quotes and youtube links and secure once again in the knowledge that the secrets of the universe are reserved for those of his mental status, and it’s such a burden, such a weight, such a pain…

  207. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget (156) said:

    My reference would be to “some” of those that I was involved with

    That would be me! Woo (woo) -hoo!

    I think he might actually have been referring to me in this thread.

    It’s so hard to tell, as he has’t really mastered the concept of quoting, nor of referring to comments by comment number (date and time is a much more fiddly parameter on which to search). Even asuming one finds the post to which he refers, one cannot know which part of it he found objectionable.

  208. Fine! Hog all the pseudoskeptical glory for yourself!

    Typical behavior! I’m going off in a huff and I’ll never be back!

    Well, not until my next comment, anyway.

  209. Nigel Depledge

    I only just read comment #158 (Zetetic), and basically:

    Yeah! What (s)he said!

  210. Nigel Depledge

    Rory (177) said:

    @ Richard

    Don’t waste any more of your time. I can see that they are already name-calling and describing you as a nut…

    Hey, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .

    such is the animal that you are dealing with and their insulting mode of non-debate and non-discussion.

    Hah! And you have yet to make any real effort to address the very first argument against your position. How can you ever be certain that an “eyewitness” was not mistaken? Simple answer – you cannot.

    They are to a large extent ego driven addicts to their own beliefs and cannot see past what they have been indoctrinated to accept.

    More projection.

    I have stated what it would take to convince me (a) that UFOs are alien spaceships, or (b) that there is really something behind UFOs to investigate (that might or might not be alien spaceships).

    What would it take to convince you that your acceptance of “UFOs = alien spaceships” as a plausible hypothesis is simply irrational and unjustifiable?

    Alternatively, following Zetetic’s analogy, what would it take to convince you that Santa Claus is real?

    You are only going to become a target for the mob to single you out for further attack in ever greater hostility, accompanied by the usual name-calling and ridicule.

    Well, if you stick your head above the parapet . . .

    But seriously, ROry, if you’re going to make accusations, it comes across as more effective if you back them up with specific citations.

    Where has any sceptic in this thread been aggressive or bullying?

    The one-lines from those not currently involved will soon be made about you in very unflattering ways. They actually think that they are intelligent and astute when making these comments – little do they know.

    Hey, at least I know what little I don’t know. Whereas you seem unaware of your own ignorance of critical thought and rational debate.

    Nothing that you have said has been the least bit convincing. UFOnuts are so labelled for a good reason. As the self-appointed UFOnut defender, you are allowing the UFOnut position a credence that it has not earned.

    This is their known mode of operation and soon they will be competing with each other to have a go at you. Hopefully this post might deter some, but I would not bet on it.

    Irrelevant.

    Their manners, inability to study the subject they pontificate on, their self-righteous attitude and arrogance, their failure to research or investigate the other side of their own argument sums them up very well. They are perfectly well defined in my previous posts.

    What, you mean your previous posts that were so vague they could refer to anyone? Those same posts that could equally be referring to an entirely different discussion forum?

    It seems to me that you were so convinced that you could not possibly be wrong that you view robust refutation of your illogical position as a personal attack. Sadly, that’s your problem, nit mine.

    You, OTOH, have referred vaguely to “strong evidence” that UFOs are certainly worth investigating, and you have made oblique criticisms of other commenters’ manners, yet you do not support any of these claims with actual evidence. How sad that you do not understand the first thing about supporting a claim with data.

  211. ND

    *crickets*
    “The crickets are getting louder.”
    *crickets* *crickets*
    “Whaaaat?”
    *crickets**crickets*
    “I said the crickets are getting LOUDER!”
    *crickets**crickets**crickets*
    “Dude, I can’t hear what you’re saying because of these crickets!”
    *crickets**crickets**crickets*
    *crickets*

  212. Chris Winter

    http://www.popfi.com/2010/10/07/celebrating-ufos-with-the-interplanetary-conclave-of-light/

    I’m looking forward to the telepathic press conference, myself. Excuse me whilst I send my thoughts into the void… ;-)

  213. ND

    Someone else discussing why visual measurements from UFO sightings should be taken with large grain of salt.

    http://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/why-you-cant-believe-anyone-who-says-they-know-the-size-and-distance-of-a-ufo/

  214. Nigel Depledge

    @ Kuhnigget (206) –

    Seems likely.

  215. Nigel Depledge

    @ ND (213) –

    But is your grain of salt calibrated and validated as a measuring tool??
    :D

  216. Nigel Depledge

    More dissection of the illogic…

    Richard (159) said:

    Furthermore, it is hypocritical (and quite frankly nutty) to deny your “critical thinking” the benefit of understanding the grave importance of how we, as a society, determine whether the testimony of a person is believable (via one’s criminal record, reputation, resume, character witnesses, etc.), and yet apply the scientific method so freely and solely as if it is the edifice of truth on this subject, and only it shall set it free (sounds an awful lot like religion to me).

    The situations are in no way parallel.

    In a court of law, there is always evidence other than eyewitness testimony. For example, a case will never get to court if there is no physical evidence that a crime has occurred in the first place.

    Then, of course, we know that some human or other perpetrated the crime, so the investigation is centred on who did it (and, typically, on how they did it, which often feeds back into finding out who did it). In these cases the fact that a crime has occurred is demonstrated at the outset and is therefore a “given”.

    In the case of UFOs, you have no evidence that – to stretch the analogy – a crime has occurred in the first place. Our starting point is not that a crime has occurred (analogous to the witnessing of an unknown phenomenon); instead it is that we don’t know whether or not a crime has occurred (or an unknown phenomenon has been witnessed). Therefore, instead of using eyewitness accounts to narrow down the list of suspects, we must first establish whether or not a crime has occurred. The eyewitness accounts are not sufficient to do this – in law or in science.

    You are taking as a given that an unknown phenomenon has been witnessed.

    The UFO phenomenon, whatever its true nature may be, has been established as a REAL one by shutting down international airports and showing up on RADAR, as two examples.

    So, are you saying that the shutting down of an airport proves that an unknown phenomenon has been witnessed? On what basis, and by what chain of reasoning?

    Again, many things show up on radar (even if you type it in all-caps). Are you saying that you can absolutely rule out all known phenomena that might show up as a radar return and therefore the radar return is evidence of an unknown phenomenon? Or do you consider it possible that radar operators do not know absolutely everything about what known phenomena* can cause radar returns, whether common or uncommon?

    *I use the term “known phenomena” to indicate phenomena that are known to humanity in a general sense, not necessarily known to each and every individual radar operator.

    Thus far the scientific method has failed to provide enough answers.

    Thus far the scientific method provides us with the only answer that is justifiable: The available evidence does not support the assumption that a new phenomenon has been witnessed.

  217. Nigel Depledge

    @ ND (211) –
    Yup. Looks like the UFOnuts have left the thread. Still, I’ve been getting in a bit of practice.

  218. ND

    Nigel Depledge,

    My grain of salt has been calibrated by a certified lab. I can produce the certification papers if asked. Thanks.

  219. Zetetic

    It looks like the thread has almost died out since the alien-fan club seems to have given up without providing any evidence that would be considered objectively credible and supporting of their position. What a surprise! [/sarc]

    My apologies for not responding earlier, but I was busy with work.

    I asked you Rory (just in case you come back here) two very simple questions that should have taken just a few sentences each to answer. Remember?

    1) What is this “more substantial evidence” that you claim exists?
    Result: No answer, just more empty accusations.

    2) What would it reasonably take you to convince you that you are wrong? (This should have been the easiest one to answer.)
    Result: Another failure to answer.

    In fact I’ve noticed that the easiest way to tell a real skeptic from an actual pseudo-skeptic (as you seems to be Rory) is to ask that question. Because an irrational believer will rarely consider the possibility that they actually might be wrong, even when deluding themselves that they are being skeptical. Time and again supporters of an irrational position never seem to be able to answer that question. Not anti-vaxers, YECs, nor monster/ghost “hunters”, and others that “play” at skepticism, while decrying the close-mindedness of those that demand reasonable arguments and evidence for their claims.

    BTW any other ET worshipers out there please feel free to answer my question #2 as well. IMO it’s the most important question any true skeptic can ask themselves.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Instead of a couple of simple answers, we got pages of projection and empty accusations designed to apparently maintain your own psychological defense mechanisms in the face of conflicting logic and evidence. Your responses are so far off the mark and lacking in specifics that it seems almost like you’ve been trying to reply to another blog altogether. You have no trouble throwing around accusations, but seem curiously lacking in specifics.

    Also, instead of actually arguing your position, you just cite other people’s articles as some sort of gospel without making a compelling case of your own. Hardly a means of creating a compelling argument. Instead you come off like a cult member telling us that your guru/prophet told you that so-and-so is a bad person and shouldn’t be listened to without a compelling reason as to why, or like a Creationist citing a quote from another Creationist as though it was independent objective evidence of the veracity of Genesis.

    For example in your post at #180 and #181 you cite a post by “Indigo Child” that is full of fallacies and demonstrably false assumptions in order to make your case. The only reason I can think of why you would do so (assuming that you’re not just trolling) is that you never even bothered to look critically at “Indigo Child”‘s post.
    Such as….
    1) There is significant evidence and proof that ET exists..
    Indigo must have an interesting concept of “proof”. Funny how once again no actual credible examples are ever cited, just again the baseless assertion that it MUST be true. Is Indigo the source for your “more substantial evidence” assertion earlier? Or do both of you just makeup the assertion, as most defenders of the irrational do? Funny how they are always proclaiming that the really good evidence will be here soon! Just you wait!

    The probability of life on planets is 100%. This is not a mathematical possibility, but an empirical fact.
    Really? 100%?
    Is that for all planets, even ones like Jupiter, Venus, or the dwarf-planet Pluto?
    How about some of the giant exoplanets found in extremely close orbit to their stars?

    Indigo again leaves out specifics, but lets be generous and assume that he/she meant “Earth-like” somewhere in there. Funny how again there is nothing actually backing up the assertion. While science may at this time (arguably) conclude that it’s likely that many Earth-like planets may have developed life that doesn’t mean that it’s 100% of them. In fact any reputable researcher in such fields will tell you that we don’t actually know how likely it is, but it’s probably at best a little under 100%, even assuming just “Earth-like” planets.

    Either way it’s still not an “empirical fact” unless we actually have a way to study every such planet. Has that been done recently? Maybe special knowledge from the aliens?

    Argument: It impossible for ET to travel here.
    “Straw-man argument”, he/she means there apparently. The skeptical position is that it’s most likely difficult and expensive to get to Earth therefore it’s unlikely/improbable for aliens to have traveled here, not that it’s impossible. But as usual the believers misrepresent what the skeptical position really so to try and spin their own position as being more reasonable than it actually is. In fact this was already explained to you repeatedly in just this very thread, Rory.

    BTW the low probability of aliens visiting is doubly so for for the sake of barnstorming and proctological exams.

    And no…assuming that maybe aliens have an deep cultural interest in the human colon is not a justifiable assumption. Nor does it save Indigo from the problems of adding one baseless assumption on top of another (and another assumption, and another assumption,and another assumption,……. ad nauseam). Do you really not see a problem with such a line of “reasoning”?

    All observations made in science are effects only, not causes.
    That must come as a surprise to all the real scientists out there. Like say studying that a virus causes a particular disease. I love it when people that clearly have trouble with basic critical thinking try to pontificate on how real scientists should do their job. Especially those that don’t seem to understand the meaning of “empirical” as shown above.

    There is no reason to believe that an ET race cannot learn to manipulate the mass-effects caused by the speed of light travel or overcome the speed of light barrier.
    1) Indigo hasn’t yet proven that there actually are any ETs at all, even if we all agree that they are possible.
    2) Indigo has yet do demonstrate that such a phenomena is possible.
    Therefore it is unjustified in concluding that as a given as the basis for the alien visitation believer’s position. See stacking one baseless assumption on to another, above.

    Argument: If we accept ET UFO’s exist and is visiting us, then we may also have to accept goblins, big foot, loch ness monster and whatever to exists.

    Rebuttal: This is a slippery slope fallacy. There is absolutely no premise that entails that if you accept ET’s existence you have to accept other paranormal claims. All different paranormal claims, just like any claim, is to be treated individually.
    Yet another FAIL for the blue sub-adult, yet he/she was sooooo close that time!
    While I have no problem with reviewing each claim individual he/she seems to have missed the point.

    I suspect that Indigo is misrepresenting an argument similar to what I directed at you earlier, Rory. The point is that if these other positions are flawed due to their failures to follow logic or provide credible evidence, then other positions that also fail to follow logic or provide credible evidence are also similarly flawed unless they correct those errors/shortcomings.

    For example… If someone claims that “1 + 1 = 47″ and is obviously wrong, do we really need to take seriously a claim from someone else that “1 + 1 = 32″ when they can’t provide a logical reason to make that claim either?

    The dialogue above is inspired slightly by the movie contact, when Jodie Foster in the end has to admit to the skeptics that as a scientist it is possible that she did not experience her journey. The tactics employed by the skeptic above are similar to tactics lawyers use in court rooms.
    I find it rather telling Rory that your “skeptic” chooses to make an argument from a re-imagining of a scene in a fictional movie (one with plot holes big enough for Jupiter to safely orbit through) where the audience conveniently already “knows” what happened in the story.

    So this is the kind of person you listen to for pointers on skepticism, Rory? Really?
    It is like you are listing to Kent Hovind for advice on paleontology, or Charles Manson for lessons in ethics.

  220. Zetetic, you will have to wait about 6-8 months or so for another appearance by Rory. That seems to be his reset time.

    Bear in mind, he still won’t answer your questions, just repeat the same sequence of opinion/random quoting/vitriol/martyrdom as is his custom.

  221. Zetetic

    @ kuhnigget:
    LOL!

    Yeah I figured about as much, but I thought “what the heck?” at least someone else might see how specious Rory’s source of skeptical knowledge is.

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