Monthly Archives: September 2012

Wishful thinking on UFO disclosure

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.”
-Stephen Hawking

A couple of years ago I was walking home on a dark and cloudy night and noticed an unusual light in the sky as I approached my house. I stopped for a minute or two to study it, and the only observation I could make was that it was a a sort of orange colour, and the light itself was not entirely constant, i.e., it seemed to be vaguely flickering.

I suppose it would be fair to describe it as a UFO (unidentified flying object) on the basis that it did seem to be an object that I could not identify, and it also seemed to be moving through the air – flying, if you like.

I thought it was most likely to be one of those Chinese lanterns that so often cause UFO reports, but it also occurred to me that because it was so prominent there would probably be UFO reports surfacing in the local newspaper in a couple of days. I would have forgotten about it but, yes, a couple of days later an article duly appeared in the Shields Gazette featuring a claim by one of the locals that the town was being buzzed by extraterrestrials.

The witness was adamant, apparently, that this was definitely no optical illusion or anything else that could have a mundane explanation (as for how he knew that, your guess is as good as mine). It was, he insisted, a genuine UFO, and the article was asking for any other witnesses to come forward.

I was almost tempted to contact the paper to say that I had maybe seen the same object, but then I decided not to. “Man probably spots Chinese lantern” is not such an attractive headline as “Man spots alien spaceship from another galaxy,” after all. And I can imagine the “humiliating” derision I would come in for from the various self appointed UFO experts for not believing what, to them, is obvious: we are being visited by space aliens who built the pyramids, mated with humans to create a new race of beings, and are armed with a terrifying range of anal probes.

Indeed,  because I do not believe that this planet is – or has been – visited by aliens, I have been described by an “expert” (no academic qualifications) as delusional for being sceptical about matters paranormal. After all, I cannot prove that space aliens are not here.

Naturally, I’m really worried about being described in public as delusional by unqualified self-appointed experts who believe in, but cannot prove, the existence of ghosts, cryptids, UFOs, poltergeists and all the rest of it, of course. After all, one of those experts might crush my puny requests for evidence with… oh, no, not the anecdotes. Anything but the anecdotes!

Really, though, if there could be incontrovertible evidence presented that not only does intelligent life exist in the far reaches of space, but that we have had the privilege of being visited and intimately probed by those creatures, then my scepticism would evaporate, and I would have no option but to accept what the UFO experts have been saying for years: that UFOs are real, aliens are here, they are shagging our women and shoving unearthly gadgetry with its associated telemetry up our arses.

I will just add one observation: UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, not Alien Spaceship From Another Galaxy (that would be ASFAG). If alien spaceships are real, then I propose that they are from now on called ASFAGs, not UFOs.

Anyway, there have been claims going around for a few years that governments around the world are on the verge of disclosing the “truth” about alien visitation. In fact, this disclosure is imminent, we are told. I’m not at all sure what the UFO buffs’ definition of “imminent” is, though. The claim is there permanently, but nothing seems to be happening, so it’s no wonder that rational people are sceptical.

And of course people are entitled to be sceptical when the best evidence presented for the existence of alien encounters consists of blurred photographs and videos, and the ever present appeal to authority in the form of personal testimony – claims of alien encounters by astronauts, police officers, aircraft pilots and other supposedly “trained observers,” as if those people are somehow immune to everything from optical illusions to personal cognitive biases.

The majority of UFO claims have been debunked as various things from misperception on the part of the observers of such phenomena to hoaxes and even outright fraud for personal monetary gain. A small percentage of UFO claims have not been explained, but a lack of an explanation does not entitle anyone to infer that no explanation equals UFO (or ASFAG). Some people do, however, have the tendency to say, “What else could it be?” Well… it could be anything. Claiming that something that cannot be identified or explained must be something that happens to fit your own personal belief just won’t do. Claims without evidence are worthless; extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence are just laughable. Which might explain why the self appointed experts come in for extraordinary derision for presenting their extraordinary claims without commensurate evidence.

If it is true that governments of the world are about to make the momentous announcement that extraterrestrial visitation is real, then I am going to take notice.

Any interested party cannot fail to be aware of the claims that an alien space ship landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. It is also claimed that the famous/infamous Area 51 has in its possession actual alien spacecraft that have been reverse engineered, not to mention actual aliens (whether alive or dead, who knows?). And if governments have this kind of evidence available that they are imminently about to release, then the existence of alien visitation will no longer be a matter of speculation, it will be a matter of fact. It will even be on the news.

When this “disclosure” happens, there will no longer be any doubt. A government that states that alien visitation is real will present not just evidence, but actual proof that no rational person could possibly deny. In the same way that satnav could not be denied by any sane person for whom it is demonstrated, this sceptic will be convinced when a government presents the evidence that the Ufologists claim is about to be announced.

It’s something to look forward to. Tangible evidence in the form of maybe actual alien spacecraft together with the advanced technology that would go with it. And of course the aliens themselves – unless those unfortunates died on impact, but if so, then at least there will will be the preserved bodies and the autopsy results that will have been shared with scientists around the world for corroboration.

No more claims about aliens on the basis of blurry pictures and personal testimony. We will have the actual proof – tangible and testable.

Wait – what’s this? A government has revealed the existence of alien visitation, according to this report. Apparently the government of Ecuador has now revealed the existence of UFOs as being genuine alien visitation. And their evidence is… blurry pictures and personal testimony.

D’oh!

Right. If you want to read all about it, a report is here. Best of luck.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, it seems that the Olympic Games had a close encounter with a UFO fly by. There’s a blurry picture  in this article to prove it:

Who in the world (or out of it, for that matter) could argue with that? (That question is rhetorical, by the way. Only the credulous could take it seriously, but there are plenty of them out there keeping the peddlers of claptrap in business.)

Then again, you might prefer the real explanation: nothing more than an out of focus picture of the Goodyear blimp. That piece of nonsense about UFOs hovering over the Olympics is neatly debunked by Robert Sheaffer at Bad UFOs. Here’s a similar picture taken at the Olympics (from the Bad UFOs blog):

My own view on the subject is quite straightforward: the laws of physics apply all over the universe, so I think the existence of life elsewhere – including intelligent life – is inevitable. But those aliens, if they exist, are up against the same laws of physics when it comes to interstellar or intergalactic travel. I would like to see contact made with alien life, and I hope it happens within my lifetime. But if contact is made, then it is more likely to happen through the work of an agency like the SETI Institute rather than the sensationalist claims of people who have no scientific credentials; nor will it be because of blurry pictures or the personal testimony of people who think they’ve been abducted and probed.

If the existence of alien life is eventually confirmed, it will be science that does it, and you  can bet that the present UFO “experts” will be quickly forgotten. Until then, however, the illusion of knowledge that characterises the most ignorant of people – those uneducated but supremely confident self styled experts – will continue to gull the unwary. Selling fairy stories as fact does not further human progress. It is just bad thinking.

The UFO (ASFAG?) spotter I mentioned above should perhaps write up his account and send it off to UFO Wankfest Quarterly, or whatever, for publication. It will be a sensation. You don’t believe it? You must be irrational if you need anything more than the assertion of a witness who just knows. Personal experience trumps science every time. (Unfortunately.)