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Is ufology now a religion?
Posted: 21 December 2011 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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However,

A tiny minority of repports around 3% of them, are quite appalling. They all involve radar signatures of objects in the skies, were chased by jet fighters (in the United States, Belgium and Iran, notably), and sighted by trained military personnel on the ground at the same time. These objects were not identifed as natural phenomena and actually interacted somehow with the military aircraft sent to intercept them. These are the interesting ones, and the only ones who stand scientific method scrutiny. If it is correct to state that they dont constitute scientific evidence, these first-hand accounts and testimonies from trained observers are indeed intriguing. Browsing through a lot of “skeptic” litterature and publishings on the topic of UFOs, I found out that these specific occurences were never addressed, something I find unusual from proponents of the scientific approach to the matter.

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Posted: 21 December 2011 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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All in all,

Linking the fact that many trained observers have seen and interacted with UFOs directly to the assumption of visitations by a vastly superior extraterrestrial civilization is going directly from point A to point Z, not considering anything in between. Even if points B (natural phenomena) and C (manmade craft) can be rejected in these specific occurences, there are still many other hypothesis to be formulated before assuming these objects were alien vehicles. I do not pretend to know what could these hypothesis be, but that’s why I registered to this forum.

I think being dismissive or arrogant about this particular topic has nothing to do with scientific skepticism, and being outright gullible about the extra-terrestrial hypothesis shrouds someone’s critical thoughts by creating a biased predisposition. Since data about this particular phenomena is still inconclusive in the scientifc community, I personally believe that the topic should be taken out of the field of pseudo-science until proven bogus out of any doubt, which is not the case today in 2011. I thus believe there are unidentified flying objects, but do not yet believe they are alien spacecraft.

If in your opinion my reasoning is flawed or based on false assumptions, which is also quite possible (not being a scientist) please tell me, and explain to me why it is so. Be more than welcome to do so smile

(My apologies for my English, I am a native French speaker).

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Posted: 21 December 2011 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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I read a fascinating article in an old issue of “Skeptical Inquirer” - back in the early 1980’s I think it was, but I don’t have the relevant reference available to me at the moment. The gist of the article, shorn of all the rhetoric, could be set out in question-and-answer form as follows:-

“We already know all the important laws of physics.”

“But how can we be so sure that we know ALL the laws?”

“Because we can explain all known phenomena”

“But what about phenomena we CAN’T explain, such as UFO’s?”

“They are all mistakes or hoaxes or hallucinations.”

“How can you be so sure of that?”

“Because they violate the known laws of physics.”

“But how can we be certain we know ALL the laws of physics?

“Because we can explain all known phenomena.”

And so on and so on, round and round….....  I wrote to the editor of SI, pointing out that this was a classic example of circular reasoning, but never received the courtesy of a reply.

As I said in a previous post in this thread, I have met (and tried to reason with) both knee-jerk pseudoskeptics of this type and the wild-and-woolly UFO wingnuts who are certain that every odd-shaped cloud must be an alien spacecraft, and many in between, but very, very few people with scientific credentials who try to objectively and dispassionately examine the evidence (which is actually considerable, even if mostly, unfortunately, anecdotal). It is as if whoever, or whatever, is controlling the UFO phenomenon is quite deliberately making sure that the whole thing appears so ridiculous and outlandish to us that most “serious” scientists refuse to touch it with a twenty-foot pole, let alone the regulation ten-footer, thereby leaving the field wide open to assorted religious nuts, charlatans, crazies and just plain brain-fried types (at this point the name Applewhite springs to mind). And this makes the whole field seem even more ridiculous, so serious researchers are even less inclined to “waste time” on the subject, and round and round it goes, a vicious circle.

Note that I said “It is AS IF…..” And, no, I don’t BELIEVE my “as if” scenario - at least, not more often than once or twice a month, around the full moon - but it’s sometimes instructive to dream up “as if” scenarios and follow them to their logical (or illogical, as the case may be) conclusions. I suspect, just as an aside, that the currently-popular eleven-dimensional wiggling-string theory, or conjecture, or whatever it is, is just such an “as if….” scenario.

We have to accept that we don’t know everything. Over the last few years Hubble, and now Kepler, are showing us aspects of the Universe that were scarcely dreamed of thirty years ago, and many physicists are wondering about parallel or diverging multi-Universes; the notion of a few alien spacecraft coming by for a peek at us seems almost mundane by comparison. It would seem to me that the only honest approach to the UFO question is what I call rational agnosticism, an attempt to steer a middle course between wild-eyed credulity and knee-jerk dismissal. Reason PLUS imagination, if you like.

Oh, and before I forget; I haven’t yet seen a convincing counter-argument to my suggestion that aliens, if they exist, are much longer-lived than we are and think nothing of a 100 or 200-year round trip. Or, a few more “as if…“s; maybe they put themselves into a suspended-animation state for the duration of the voyage. Or maybe they have huge, multi-generational “motherships” to make the big interstellar voyages and little “saucers” to zip back and forth between mothership and planets. And maybe there is a mothership, or even half a dozen, here right now in our solar system but we can’t see them because the aliens’ stealth technology is 10,000 years ahead of ours…....

C’mon guys; try a little imagination…... I guarantee it won’t hurt…...

Theflyingsorcerer.

[ Edited: 21 December 2011 04:20 PM by Theflyingsorcerer ]
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Posted: 21 December 2011 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

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Posted: 21 December 2011 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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dougsmith - 21 December 2011 06:47 PM

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

And the best evidence they have is something unidentified.

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Posted: 21 December 2011 09:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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dougsmith - 21 December 2011 06:47 PM

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Yes Dougsmith I know the Mantra as well as you do. But it’s meaningless since neither “extraordinary claim” nor “extraordinary evidence” are adequately defined. What is “ordinary” and what is “extraordinary” depends entirely on context. Is that the best rebuttal you can come up with; merely parroting what Carl Sagan said one day long ago?

And if you read my post CAREFULLY (this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say this on this forum) you’ll note that nowhere do I make a single “claim” - ordinary OR extraordinary. All I have done is propose a few “as if…..” scenarios. Not one single “claim”, Dougsmith. Not one.

Theflyingsorcerer

[ Edited: 21 December 2011 10:24 PM by Theflyingsorcerer ]
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Posted: 22 December 2011 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 21 December 2011 09:55 PM

Yes Dougsmith I know the Mantra as well as you do. But it’s meaningless since neither “extraordinary claim” nor “extraordinary evidence” are adequately defined. What is “ordinary” and what is “extraordinary” depends entirely on context. Is that the best rebuttal you can come up with; merely parroting what Carl Sagan said one day long ago?

And if you read my post CAREFULLY (this isn’t the first time I’ve had to say this on this forum) you’ll note that nowhere do I make a single “claim” - ordinary OR extraordinary. All I have done is propose a few “as if…..” scenarios. Not one single “claim”, Dougsmith. Not one.

You protest too much. wink

As regards extraordinary claims, space aliens in half a dozen stealthed multi-generational motherships being responsible for lights in the sky and other UFO-phenomena is an extraordinary claim. If you didn’t make that claim, then just take me as responding to some weird person who thought that’s what you were claiming.

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Posted: 22 December 2011 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 21 December 2011 04:11 PM

It would seem to me that the only honest approach to the UFO question is what I call rational agnosticism, an attempt to steer a middle course between wild-eyed credulity and knee-jerk dismissal. Reason PLUS imagination, if you like.

I feel like we have had this discussion in the context of atheism/agnosticism. While I cannot prove to 100% that there is no god, I can say that I know there is no god. And imagination? Be careful here. There is reasoned imagination and woo. Einstein’s thought experiments were perfect examples of reasoned imagination. Deepak Chopra provides the other kind of imagination. I know… who is to say what’s “reasoned.” Well, in this case I suppose it’s me.

Oh, and before I forget; I haven’t yet seen a convincing counter-argument to my suggestion that aliens, if they exist, are much longer-lived than we are and think nothing of a 100 or 200-year round trip. Or, a few more “as if…“s; maybe they put themselves into a suspended-animation state for the duration of the voyage. Or maybe they have huge, multi-generational “motherships” to make the big interstellar voyages and little “saucers” to zip back and forth between mothership and planets. And maybe there is a mothership, or even half a dozen, here right now in our solar system but we can’t see them because the aliens’ stealth technology is 10,000 years ahead of ours…....

C’mon guys; try a little imagination…... I guarantee it won’t hurt…...

I have no counter-argument for the tooth fairy either. I just don’t see a need.

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Posted: 22 December 2011 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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Doug, flyingsaucerer is not just talking about lights in the sky. He’s talking about the very best cases in UFO history. The problem, though, is that it’s generally agreed that the best case of all time is the Rendlesham Forest incident! This is not a good sign.

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Posted: 22 December 2011 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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Dom1978 - 22 December 2011 08:06 AM

Doug, flyingsaucerer is not just talking about lights in the sky. He’s talking about the very best cases in UFO history. The problem, though, is that it’s generally agreed that the best case of all time is the Rendlesham Forest incident! This is not a good sign.

Well, I’m trying to get some data here. My point is that the claims are plainly extraordinary. Is the evidence? I have yet to hear of any that’s remotely up to the task.

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Posted: 22 December 2011 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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dougsmith - 22 December 2011 05:03 AM

As regards extraordinary claims, space aliens in half a dozen stealthed multi-generational motherships being responsible for lights in the sky and other UFO-phenomena is an extraordinary claim. If you didn’t make that claim, then just take me as responding to some weird person who thought that’s what you were claiming.

All I’m trying to do here - all I’ve ever tried to do - is to point out that the common kneejerk pseudoskeptical argument that aliens “cannot possibly” be visiting our planet because “other habitable planets are too far away” is just altogether too facile. It contains the unspoken assumptions that the hypothetical aliens have lifespans, levels of technology, and motivations comparable to ours, and that they would necessarily have to be coming here directly from their home planet.

And no, I (obviously, I would have thought) am NOT making the “claim” that there “are” alien motherships drifting around our solar system hidden by highly advanced stealth technology. I’m simply saying “WHAT IF there were?” Would that HYPOTHETICAL scenario make alien visitations more likely?

And I “protest too much” because some folks on this forum seem to be having a great deal of difficulty understanding what seem to me to be rather simple ideas. And I’m beginning to wonder if the misunderstanding is deliberate.

Theflyingsorcerer

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Posted: 22 December 2011 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 22 December 2011 01:35 PM

All I’m trying to do here - all I’ve ever tried to do - is to point out that the common kneejerk pseudoskeptical argument that aliens “cannot possibly” be visiting our planet because “other habitable planets are too far away” is just altogether too facile. It contains the unspoken assumptions that the hypothetical aliens have lifespans, levels of technology, and motivations comparable to ours, and that they would necessarily have to be coming here directly from their home planet.

If that’s all you’re trying to do here, then we’re not arguing about anything. I certainly agree that aliens could be visiting our planet; it is physically possible for them to do so, although (as far as we know) highly unlikely.

Theflyingsorcerer - 22 December 2011 01:35 PM

And no, I (obviously, I would have thought) am NOT making the “claim” that there “are” alien motherships drifting around our solar system hidden by highly advanced stealth technology. I’m simply saying “WHAT IF there were?” Would that HYPOTHETICAL scenario make alien visitations more likely?

No, since we have no idea of the prior likelihood of such things as advanced stealth technology.

It’s always fun to ask “What if?” What if humans had wings and could fly to the Moon? What if Alice could go through the looking glass and see another world on the other side? What if Middle Earth were real?

My only concern is when “What if?” gets confused with what we have good reason to believe is real. If, as you protest, you are doing no such thing, then once again we aren’t arguing about anything.

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Posted: 22 December 2011 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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There is one thing certain about ufology.  It would be more correct to spell it UFOOLOGY.  There are only two kinds of people on this planet and I’m including myself.  You are either a fool or a damn fool but if you will stay out of the damn category as much as you can, you’ll do fairly well in life.

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Posted: 23 December 2011 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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Or, as a certain philosopher is reputed to have said:

“I may be an eejit, but I’m not a BLITHERING eejit.’

Theflyingsorcerer.

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Posted: 25 December 2011 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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All I’m trying to do here - all I’ve ever tried to do - is to point out that the common kneejerk pseudoskeptical argument that aliens “cannot possibly” be visiting our planet because “other habitable planets are too far away” is just altogether too facile.

Is it? Unless you can solve the problems which apply to faster-then-light technology (Reletivity is one helluva stumbling block) you’re talking about a journey which would take hundreds if not thousands of years and that’s just coming from the nearest star system where we know that it’s possible that there might be planets capable of supporting life as we understand it.

Of course, this doesn’t deal with the possibility of life as we DON’T know it, but would any such life forms even find this rock of ours habitable?

It contains the unspoken assumptions that the hypothetical aliens have lifespans, levels of technology, and motivations comparable to ours, and that they would necessarily have to be coming here directly from their home planet.

Now why would we assume that? Seems to me that any species which turns out to be capable of making the trip would have levels of technology which surpass ours by a margin so wide that in comparision, we look like primitive aboriginals swinging around in the trees.

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