Mar 25 2009

Some UFO Logical Fallacies

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Comments: 34

Reader “Gimble” left a comment on an old post of mine that was full of typical anti-skeptical logical fallacies so I thought I would have some fun taking it apart. The entry is on UFOs and the Argument from Ignorance. He begins:

It’s difficult to take your article seriously when it is chock full of unoriginal and regurgitated errors.

1. “There isn’t one unambiguous photograph or video that holds up to scientific scrutiny”.

What is your source on this? There are many photographs and videos that show no sign of tampering or fraud. What sort of “scientific scrutiny” would you require for a photo to be genuine? If it wasn’t proven to be digitally altered, you would claim it was a model or an item thrown into the air. In short, there is no photo in the world that cannot be debunked, but your statement that no unambiguous photo or video holds up to scientific scrutiny is blatantly false (what you are really saying is “if it is a photo of a flying saucer, then by definition it is a fraud”).

No, that is not what I am saying at all. Gimble here is trying to shift the burden of proof – make it my job to prove a negative, the absence of compelling evidence. Rather, if Gimble wishes to claim that there is an unambiguous photograph or other piece of evidence that has survived careful scrutiny – name it.  He didn’t, he just vaguely claims that they exist.

He is also trying the circular reasoning gambit – claiming that I and skeptics declare a-priori that any photo of a flying saucer must by definition be fake, therefore there are no legitimate photos. This is a straw man, we do no such thing.

I will happily expand upon my criteria for an unambiguous and genuine photo. Regarding the genuine criterion, Gimble only mentions ruling out digital manipulation.  This is necessary, but insufficient. The raw files if digital, or the original negatives if traditional photography was used, are also necessary. A second hand photo is not sufficient. Further, to be compelling a series of photos is helpful, since it is more difficult to fake a series than one photo. For video, the original film in its entirely is needed. Selected clips can cherry pick and eliminate any “gotchas” or obvious signs of fakery.

For either photos or video, I also want to know the history – who took the pictures, where, and when. Anonymous material immediately loses credibility.

But also the photos must be unambiguous as to their content.  This means that a blob of light or a fuzzy disc or metal glint is not compelling. I want to see a spaceship – a picture of something that can be nothing else. If the picture can be explained by a model that someone tossed into the air, then there is no reason to reject that as a possible explanation. A piece of something demonstrably alien would also be compelling.

To clarify what I meant by the claim that there are no such pieces of evidence – I have never seen any, despite being interested in UFOs for my entire life and looking deeply at the claims. Also for the last 13 years I have been an activist skeptic and I have challenged many many UFO believers to show me their best evidence, or point me in the direction of the compelling piece of evidence – and no one ever has. These days with the internet and Youtube, if there were truly compelling evidence I would think that I would have seen it hundreds of times online.

I think it is self evident that there is no piece of verified and unambiguous evidence for visiting alien spacecraft known to the public. There tons of poor quality or ambiguous evidence, but nothing compelling. If anyone thinks there is – show me and I will happily revise my opinion.

He continues:

2. “not one piece of physical evidence. No smoking saucer.”

Aliens do not hand out trinkets, that’s true, and neither do they sit in for book signings. Some phenomenon are not given to tangible “in my hands” evidence (although there is loads of trace evidence). Show me your physcial evidence for a supernova and I’ll show you mine for a flying saucer. I’ve got multiple and independent eyewitness testimony (in the millions) spanning several decades across the globe with trace evidence and excellent photos to boot. No evidence? I think not.

How ironic that Gimble accuses me of being unoriginal. Here he is using the “ten foot stack” gambit. He thinks that if he piles up cowdung high enough it will turn into gold – but large amounts of poor quality evidence do not equal high quality evidence.

Notice here also that he is employing a bit of the kettle defense – simultaneously using mutually incompatible arguments. Above he says that there is high quality evidence. Now he is saying that even if there isn’t, there is tons of low quality evidence. If he is being honest in point number 2, he should have conceded point number 1.

He combines this, as usual, with the “aliens don’t hand out trinkets” gambit. In other words – “it is the nature of my mysterious phenomenon that it defies traditional scientific evidence, therefore I am relieved of the responsibility for supplying traditional scientific evidence – but here is a ton of low quality unscientific evidence.” File this under special pleading (the logical fallacies are piling up).

It may be true that a real phenomenon defies scientific evidence – but then we cannot conclude that it is true, only unknown. Of course, we can invent an infinite number of special cases of things that can be real but unverifiable.

Oh – and evidence for supernova? Please. There are multiple independent lines of verifiable and reproducible evidence for supernova. Just type “supernova” and “evidence” into Google and see what you get.  We can see the light and the gamma rays from supernova. Our models of supernova make predictions we can test with further observations. The light from supernova reflect off of distant gas clouds, and we can see those reflections. There’s no comparison.

3. “In 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold started the modern flying saucer craze when he reported seeing several UFOs. He described them as boomerang-shaped, but also noted that they were hopping, like a saucer skipping on the water”

Wrong. Kenneth Arnold described only ONE of the craft as crescent-shaped with a hole in the middle. Listen to his own words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zossm96Jb0

But it’s immaterial to your (lifted) argument anyway. The sightings of “saucers” and “disks” after Arnold’s sightings came in a variety of forms, and even the popular “flying saucer” that comes to mind cannot adequately be described as a “plate” – it looks more like a tophat or a football. I’ve yet to read about a flying “plate”, which is what people would have reported if they took the term “saucer” literally as you claim and were simply lying about their reports.

This is the strategy of raising trivial and unimportant objections that do not address the actual point. Whether or not Arnold described one or all the object as boomerang shaped is not important. It is important that his sightings did not comport with the later traditional image of a “flying saucer” and that the term “flying saucer” was coined by a reporter who keyed in on one word Arnold used – to describe how the objects moved, not their shape.

Gimble’s next point is just silly – if people took the “flying saucer” description literally they would have described plate – shaped ships? What? These are ships, so apparently they have to have an interior. There is also a bias toward aerodynamic shapes when thinking of ships. Further, I never argued that the shape was taken literally from the description.

My point, actually, is that the notion of a flying saucer and the accompanying shape that the term evokes is a cultural construct.  It was certainly inspired by the term “flying saucer” but also had other cultural influences. It is also not surprising that at the beginning the modern UFO craze there were many types of reports, but that eventually they settled upon the standard type. The same exact thing is true of aliens themselves. Initially there were dozens of varying descriptions, but the little gray aliens emerged as the standard type, then that became what everyone was reporting. That is culture at work – which was my point.

Also, Gimble makes the very common strawman argument that I am claiming all eyewitnesses are lying about their reports. I was very specific in saying that it was suggestibility that led to the commonality of reports. Deliberate hoaxing is probably a small component of the UFO phenomenon. Most of it is wishful thinking, perceptual illusion, and sloppy thinking.

His next claim is priceless.

4. “Venus may also sport a halo, giving it an even more unusual appearance. (This is likely the source of President Jimmy Carter’s UFO sighting.)”

Wrong. Venus was the bogus debunking nonsense of Robert Sheaffer from Humanist magazine, but Carter described the UFO as at times being as “big as the moon” in his official report. (When is Venus ever as large as the moon?)http://www.ufoevidence.org/Cases/CaseSubarticle.asp?ID=297

When is Venus ever as large as the moon? When it is sporting a halo. Gimble obviously did not read the very sentence he quotes.  Nor does he have the patience or Google chops, apparently, to punch “Venus halo” into the search window. The third hit is this: a picture of Venus with a halo and the moon in the same shot. Gee – venus with a halo is just about the same size as the moon. Go figure.

5. “Proponents of the “extra-terrestrial hypothesis” (ETH) often point out that there is a residue of unexplained sightings, occurrences that can only be due to real flying saucers.”

They CAN only be flying saucers when that is what is observed ha. And they have been seen up-close many many times. Check out this National Press Club transcript for credible sightings from an ex-governor, pilots, military officers, a division chief for the FAA, and other highly credible witnesses of close encounters of the second kind: http://www.ufo-blog.com/pdf/npc_witness_testimony.pdf

The first sentence is a tautology – he is assuming his conclusion. The whole point is that we do not know what eyewitnesses saw, and neither do they. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable – there are numerous visual illusions at play. Separate objects may be perceived as one large object. Objects in the sky, without clear reference, can appear to be far away and large when they are in fact close up and small. People are suggestible, and will also happily fill in missing details according to their assumptions. And – people lie.

I know there are witnesses who claim to have seen flying saucers. My point is that such reports are compatible with the “psychocultural hypothesis” – we would have them even if UFOs were purely a cultural and psychological phenomenon. Without corroborating evidence, there is no more reason to believe in aliens than ghosts, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, fairies, or any of the other myriad things people seen.

Gimble also makes an argument from authority – saying that pilots and politicians have also been eyewitnesses. But pilots are subject to the same illusions and biases as everyone else. Noone is immune to the foibles of human neurology.

And, I might point out, that Gimble did not address my actual point – unexplained is unexplained, not alien spacecraft.

6. “Sometimes people do report details, like windows or fins. They also report objects moving at fantastic speeds or carrying out seemingly impossible maneuvers. However, when viewing an object against the sky, without a clear background for reference, it is impossible to estimate size, distance, and speed, and we are subject to optical illusions. Such details are therefore not reliable, and there are numerous cases when they are demonstrably wrong.”

This makes no sense. If a person says “I saw a metallic object fly away at impossible speeds”, then that is what they saw. If they say, “I’m not sure what it was, but it flashed and bobbed in the air and seemed to move oddly”, then THAT is what they saw. The former is a definite sighting of a UFO, the latter is just an “unknown”. People report sighting UFOs all the time in unequivocal terms and they are not “unknowns” as if ambiguous or uncertain as to observation just because they are listed under the category of “unknown” on paper. People see flying saucers, not optical illusions.

Here’s a free tip – if you want to have a shred of credibility, you should acknowledge legitimate points on the other side. Gimble and other UFO apologists should just admit that eyewitnesses are unreliable. Afterall, there is a mountain of psychology research to support this conclusion. It is profoundly naive to claim that if someone says they saw a spaceship, we can confidently conclude that they saw a spaceship.

People are suggestible. Memory is malleable. Perception is highly flawed. And people are emotional, not rational, creatures.

If someone claims they saw a metallic object fly away at incredible speeds – they may have been looking at a shiny (not metallic) small object moving away at slow speeds, but their brain contructed the ambiguous visual simuli incorrectly – that is the definition of an optical illusion. This is a known and common phenomenon. Alien spacecraft are not. See – Occam’s Razor.

7. “Air Force pilots mistake common objects for UFOs all the time.”

Bologna. What is your source on this? Pilots may from time to time wonder if some distant object is a UFO, but they are not certain of it unless they are close enough to observe it (and often they are and do).

Project Blue Book was able to identify 95% of reported UFO sightings as mundane objects or events.  Many of those reports came from pilots. There are also many case reports of pilots reporting UFOs that were later identified as definitely or probably an astronomical phenomenon. Here is a good report of many such cases.

8. “But curiosity must be coupled with intellectual discipline.”

You are under the false impression that most witnesses jump to the conclusion that an unknown object in the sky is a flying saucer. This is not true. J. Allen Hynek coined a term for how witnesses behave when they see a UFO – “escalation of hypotheses”. The first thing they do is try to rationalize their experience – “maybe it’s a bird? no can’t be that… maybe a plane? a meteorite?” and so on. Despite the claims of snobbery debunkers, most people do not in fact “try” to see UFOs – they do the opposite! and only reach that conclusion when other explanations have failed.

I don’t think we can easily generalize to what “most people” do. It’s likely that there is a range of reactions to an unusual sighting. But even if I grant that most people will consider likely explanations first, that is not in contradiction to what I am saying. I never claimed that they fail to consider any alternatives – but rather they they settle prematurely onto flying saucers as a likely explanation. In most cases the only logically justified conclusion is unknown, not flying saucer. That was, in fact, the central theme of my original post.

I have personally had many encounters with eyewitnesses who, excited by the possibility of something cool or mysterious, will reject a few token mundane explanations, and then (very prematurely) conclude that the object must have either been alien or something equally fantastical.

9. “We should be aware of the limitations of our own observations and memory, the human tendency toward suggestibility and wishful thinking, and the dictates of logic.”

Then why are you not doing so? Wishful thinking is putting your fingers in your ears and saying “the world must make sense to me; there cannot be flying saucers; aliens must behave the way I think they should; the world must make sense to me”. By discounting the volumes of evidence over 6 decades, debunkers do indeed show a high proclivity for suggestibility – namely that they will pull arguments from a common pool of tossed-about non-facts instead of actually doing some independent reading on their own. For REAL skeptics, I suggest reading one of these books from researchers who have actually talked to witnesses, rather than some doofus who has no idea what he’s talking about:

That is the typical UFO believer (even generalizable to paranormal believer) straw man about skeptics – that we are deniers who do not want to confront evidence that will shake our fragile world view. Strawman argument are worthless – if you want to understand and confront the position of skeptics you have to read what they actually write and address their actual points.

I never said that aliens are impossible. Nor have I ever said that aliens must be completely comprehensible. Ironically, it is the skeptics who are arguing, as I was in my original piece, that sometimes we just don’t have enough evidence to know what a sighting was.

I think it is likely that there is life elsewhere in the universe and that some of that life is intelligent and even technological. I have no idea how common or uncommon technological civilizations are – no one does.  I also don’t know if advanced technology will ever render interstellar travel practical, or if there are fundamental limitations in the laws of physics that will make it forever impractical.

If a benign advanced alien race visited the earth that would be incredibly awesome. It would answer many burning questions. I would love just to see what an alien intelligence might be like.

My position, as I have made clear, is that taken as a whole the evidence is far more compatible with the psychocultural hypothesis than the extraterrestrial hypothesis, and there is no single piece of evidence that demands the ETH. But I am happy to be proven wrong – just show me the evidence.

Gimble, although I am picking on him because he decided to leave a comment on my blog, presents views that are typical of the core UFO community. I have heard them all many times before. UFO believers attack straw men, completely mischaracterize the position of UFO skeptics, fail to address the skeptical position, and find many ways to argue that their low quality evidence should be taken more seriously.

What they never ever do, however, is refute my claims that compelling evidence does not exist by simply providing such evidence.

I am still waiting.

34 responses so far

34 Responses to “Some UFO Logical Fallacies”

  1. MarkWon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:20 am

    I have been interested in the UFO phenomenon for as long as I can remember. Over the years, my position has shifted from ardent ETH true-believer as a teenager, to out-and-out sceptic now. What, I hear you ask, has shifted my viewpoint like this?

    The evidence.

    Year after year, another “best case” for the ETH falls, whether it’s exposed as a hoax (the Pascagoula abduction), or as a misperception — of birds (the probable true nature of Kenneth Arnold’s sighting) or even of a lighthouse (“Britain’s Roswell”, the Rendlesham Forest case).

    I have learned how strange mundane objects in the sky can look. White feathers can flash in the sun and make birds look like metal objects; cloud and haze effects can even make the Sun look like a “flying saucer”; the Moon, planets, and even bright stars, are regularly misperceived.

    And of course the ETH true-believers forget that there’s a group of people who routinely stare at (and photograph) the sky for hours at a time: astronomers. There are thousands of amateur and professional astronomers world-wide. If anyone were to spot compelling evidence for the ETH it would be the astronomers.

    If the astronomers aren’t seeing ET, I think it’s safe to say that ET is not there to be seen.

  2. Zazzeraon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:34 am

    I guess this is a point that comes up often, but what kind of photographic evidence would be seen as “strong” evidence?

    Even if the raw files or negatives were available to us, I have problems imagining any image that could not as easily be a model that someone threw up into the air and snapped a picture of. I think its reasonable to say that no single image will ever constitute good evidence, and even an image series would have to be spectacular before it can be considered believable.

  3. Skepticoon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:59 am

    For REAL skeptics, I suggest reading one of these books from researchers who have actually talked to witnesses…

    Or how about this book by Susan Clancy – Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens – someone who actually talked to witnesses.

  4. superdaveon 25 Mar 2009 at 11:02 am

    Gimble said

    “If a person says “I saw a metallic object fly away at impossible speeds”, then that is what they saw. If they say, “I’m not sure what it was, but it flashed and bobbed in the air and seemed to move oddly”, then THAT is what they saw. The former is a definite sighting of a UFO, the latter is just an “unknown”.”

    Does he not know what the U in UFO stands for?

  5. Steven Novellaon 25 Mar 2009 at 11:24 am

    Zazzera – I essentially agree, and that is what I meant by “unambiguous” – it has to be a picture or series of pictures that simply cannot be a model thrown in the air. There are such videos – but they are CG fakes. So anything compelling would have to be both simultaneously unambiguous and vetted to be genuine.

    But also, we need a pedigree. Who took it when and where, and is there any corroboration. If video is presented right after numerous eyewitnesses confirm the contents, and the videographer was there, that would help also.

    We never get all this at once.

  6. Calli Arcaleon 25 Mar 2009 at 11:44 am

    Even if the raw files or negatives were available to us, I have problems imagining any image that could not as easily be a model that someone threw up into the air and snapped a picture of. I think its reasonable to say that no single image will ever constitute good evidence, and even an image series would have to be spectacular before it can be considered believable.

    A great example of this is the current excitement surrounding possible liquid water on Mars photographed by Mars Phoenix Lander. The photographs show *something* deposited on one of the lander’s legs, the appearance of which changes over time. There are several possible explanations, but the most intriguing is that it’s liquid water, probably very salty, melted out of the ice that MPL landed on and splashed up onto the lander. Over several days, the changing shape could indicate that this was liquid droplets, buffeted in the wind and perhaps growing due to condensation.

    But skeptics aren’t convinced. It could be that water was splashed up but then immediately froze, and the changing shape was not reflective of its liquid nature but rather of the frost growing through condensation and shrinking through sublimation. It could also be something else. Liquid water, actually *seen* on the surface of Mars, would be extraordinary, and so it requires extraordinary evidence and a great deal of caution.

    The original photographs, and a lot of other physical data from MPLs instruments, are all available. But we still should avoid leaping to conclusions, because this is really big-time news and we want to be sure it’s right before making any conclusions.

    Pictures of alien spacecraft should receive no less scrutiny than this.

  7. IanJNon 25 Mar 2009 at 11:49 am

    Does he not know what the U in UFO stands for?

    Yeah, that exploded my irony-meter. I suggest we term an “unknown” flying object as UnFO. Then in fifty years we can debate their existence too.

  8. tmac57on 25 Mar 2009 at 11:58 am

    MarkW: “If the astronomers aren’t seeing ET, I think it’s safe to say that ET is not there to be seen.”
    This is an excellent point that doesn’t seem to come up very often in the debates that I have seen.
    Gimble comes off as being totally credulous to me, and there are skeptics like Joe Nickell and Ben Radford who do try to take the claims of witnesses seriously, but who have so far concluded that there is no ‘there’ there.

  9. HHCon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Unexplained phenomenon makes you wonder about the larger world outside of yourself. But , often, the explanations exist within the person reporting the phenomenon. I would sit for hours talking with my late opthamologist and surgeon about unusual cases he had worked with which required some psychological wisdom as well as medical knowledge. His favorite story was about the bomber pilot who saw the doctor after he dropped a bomb during wartime. Based on the ophamalogist’s assessment of the pilot immediately after the drop, he should not have been able to hit the target. He seriously wondered if the stress of the situation created the poor vision which remained with the pilot long term.

    It could be a simple case of deteriorating vision, refusal to wear eyeglasses as a pilot, the stress of G forces on the eye and rest of the body, or post traumatic stress. Similarly, the UFOs reported by sober persons could be explained as due to the same factors.

  10. TheSkepticCanuckon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I personally believe that many people have seen genuine UFOs. They don’t have to be of extraterrestrial origin to qualify. For example, how many people on the west coast of the US have seen a boomerang or wedge shaped UFO, not knowing that it was a Stealth Bomber or Stealth Fighter being tested out of the Groom Lake Air Force Base? With all the secrecy surrounding the Stealth Bomber and Stealth Fighter projects, any night time, or even daytime, sighting of one of them in the early days of test flights would certainly have been labelled as a UFO or a flying suacer. This is but one example of how a UFO sighting can be both real and not some extraterrestrial spaceship.

  11. Thenewyorkdolleyon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I saw a UFO when I was sixteen. I was a believer in the ETH hypothesis at the time and the alien craft conclusion was easy to reach. There is a set of feelings that correspond with an experience that seems to stand outside your understanding of nature, and they demand equally intense explanations.

    It was years later when I began to examine my experience using critical thinking tools I gained in college. I recognize now the fallibility of my own observation and the mind’s tendency to fill in the gaps when an experience presents too little information to make an accurate assessment.

    Because of my exposure to skepticism, I can comfortably say that I don’t know what it was. I think skepticism gives you the freedom to forgo an explanation when the evidence is poor, which has served me well in my life.

  12. MarkWon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:48 pm

    tmac57:

    “This is an excellent point that doesn’t seem to come up very often in the debates that I have seen.”

    I think Phil Plait deserves the credit.

    TheSkepticCanuck:

    Of course, and I don’t think anyone is arguing that. Many people see things in the sky that they don’t understand (I have myself) — “Unidentified Flying Objects” by definition.

    What I think Steve is condemning is the completely unwarranted jump by the true believers from “unidentified” to “alien spaceship”.

  13. blueballson 25 Mar 2009 at 2:45 pm

    To all the skeptics: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Take a look at blackholes. There aren’t even any pictures of them and I would bet you believe they exist.

    Alright, now gimmie the rundown of how my argument is a strawman or some clever “yeah, but what you’re saying is….this and that…” crap.

    Point is, UFOs are real and just because you have never witnessed one, doesn’t mean you are right. You can call someone’s argument a strawman, a red herring or whatever clever little name you can conjur up..hell…call it the twinkie defense.

    Pictures are pictures, witness testimony is witness testimony. It’s good enough for a court of law, then why isn’t witness testimony good enough for UFOs? Are ALL pictures fake? No. Are a lot of them? Sure. Go take a picture of evolution in progress or take a picture of a blackhole, then come and talk to me. At least UFO hunters are out there trying.

  14. DevilsAdvocateon 25 Mar 2009 at 3:11 pm

    RE: Astronomers and UFOs… This is a sincere question, and certainly no defense of the ufools, but would a telescope pointed at Alpha Centauri or whatever have the focal length (or whatever the proper tech term is) to see a UFO in Earth’s atmosphere? It strikes me as expecting to be able to see a fly as it sails two inches in front of your binoculars while you gaze 1500 meters down range. You’d see a very quick blur, if anything at all. Always wondered about that.

    At any rate, I have what may be finer considerations. Do UFO advocates realize how many satellites there are in Earth orbit looking back earthward with all manner of surveillance equipment on board, visual, infrared, radar, etc.? Or how many surface surveillance cameras there are that include upwards of 10-20-30 degrees of sky up from the horizon? Or how prevalent videocams and cell phone cams have become over the last 20 years? If UFOs are “real”, we ought to be knee deep in photographic or videographic evidence. Evidence of CGI is not invisible to the expert analyst (yet).

    Those of us familiar with the UFO crowd understand that for many, perhaps most, of them, the term ‘UFO’ is no longer defined literally. For many of them, it means Alien Space Ship.

    As for the authority argument regarding pilot eyewitness testimony, UFO researcher Allan Hendry studied 1,300 UFO reports over the course of a year in the 1970s. He found an error rate among pilots of 75%, while the second most often cited ‘reliable’ eyewitnesses, police officers, scored a miserable 94% error rate. That is, 75 & 94% of their respective reports were determined to be mundane causes. This is no indictment of pilots or police officers, it’s the nature of human perception and interpretation of perceptions to be high in error.

    I may have mentioned this before in this blog, but skeptics who follow the UFO phenomenon no doubt are familiar with believers who wax sarcastic with comments like, “So, I suppose you’re gonna chalk this one up to swamp gas, eh Mr. Skeptic? Stupid skeptics, hahahahaha..”

    Boy, do I delight in telling them that the only UFO researcher who ever offered ‘swamp gas’ as an explanation for a UFO sighting was none other than the grandfather of modern era believer-advocative ufology, Dr. J. Allen Hynek.

    A dynamic I’ve recognized in ufology – there seems to be a surrender of the hope of ever obtaining physical, scientific evidence, and instead, efforts are directed at debunking the debunkings, that is, of trying to trash any offered mundane explanation and to keep UFO reports in the unexplained column at all costs.
    At the Wooville Mall, the Ufology Store has proved one of the more lucrative franchises, so I guess they want to protect that market. Wink.

  15. Fizziziston 25 Mar 2009 at 5:18 pm

    You tell’em boss. Occam’s Razor FTW!

  16. Greginspaceon 25 Mar 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Hi DevilsAdvocate-

    Phil Plait addressed the Astronomers/UFO question very nicely on his own blog, but basically he explained that there is a great deal of astronomical observation that is done with the naked eye without a telescope. At amateur viewing parties, it is common for many members of the group to be spotting various astronomical bodies (meteors, asteroids, even satellites) while others are viewing with a telescope. This would appear to provide a great opportunity for eager eyes to spot anything out of the ordinary with a wide field of vision.

  17. TheBlackCaton 25 Mar 2009 at 6:19 pm

    To all the skeptics: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    The absence of evidence is not evidence of presence, either. We are not saying that humans are not being visited by aliens, we are saying we don’t know. It is the UFO-proponents who are saying we ARE being visited. They are the ones drawing a conclusion from insufficient evidence. They may very well be right, but if they are it is just luck, the evidence is not enough to warrant their conclusions.

    Take a look at blackholes. There aren’t even any pictures of them and I would bet you believe they exist.

    There is a huge amount of evidence that black holes exist. We can measure their gravity, we can see the matter swirling around them, we can see the intense beams of energy that have exactly the properties they should have if black holes made them. It is also reproducible. Their is a large number of objects in the sky that share the same properties. If we find the disc of gas or beam of energy associated with a black hole, it will still be there if we look again tomorrow, or next week, or a decade from now.

    Alright, now gimmie the rundown of how my argument is a strawman or some clever “yeah, but what you’re saying is….this and that…” crap.

    Fine: the fallacy you are committing is called “argument from ignorance”. You are saying “the evidence is inconclusive, therefore I am right”. That is an absurd conclusion. If the evidence is inconclusive, the only conclusion you can draw (by definition) is “I don’t know”.

    It is also very telling that you refer to logic as “crap”. It speaks volumes regarding your mindset.

    Point is, UFOs are real and just because you have never witnessed one, doesn’t mean you are right. You can call someone’s argument a strawman, a red herring or whatever clever little name you can conjur up..hell…call it the twinkie defense.

    You said yourself the evidence was inconclusive, now you are saying it is good enough to draw a conclusion. Can you see the problem here?

    It’s good enough for a court of law, then why isn’t witness testimony good enough for UFOs?

    Eyewitness testimony is NOT good enough for a court of law. There has to be at least some corroborating physical evidence (at the very least evidence that a crime actually occured).

    Are ALL pictures fake? No. Are a lot of them? Sure.

    Of course they are not all faked, most are simply misidentified.

    Go take a picture of evolution in progress or take a picture of a blackhole, then come and talk to me.

    I don’t have to, there are lots of pictures of both.

    At least UFO hunters are out there trying.

    UFO hunters, by their very name, are not doing science. They have drawn a conclusion, and are looking for evidence that they can claim fits this conclusion. Scientists get evidence, and base a conclusion on that. Putting UFO hunters in the same league as scientists is an insult to all scientists.

  18. Basayevon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:34 pm

    As my dad, a cop, often joked:

    “Q: What’s worse than no physical evidence?
    A: A hundred eyewitnesses.”

  19. llewellyon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:43 pm

    blueballs :

    To all the skeptics: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Take a look at blackholes. There aren’t even any pictures of them and I would bet you believe they exist.

    As soon you have evidence that a ‘UFO’ has made a star move, bent light substantially, or developed an accretionary disk that radiates gamma rays, please, please, tell everyone.

  20. MBoazon 26 Mar 2009 at 12:19 am

    Take a look at blackholes. There aren’t even any pictures of them and I would bet you believe they exist.

    That’s pretty funny.

  21. Gimbelon 26 Mar 2009 at 4:38 am

    First: for those who criticized my use of the term UFO, as if I didn’t know that is meant Unidentified Flying Object, look again. Witnesses see UFOs that are clear and unambiguous, are of a variety of shapes and sizes. These craft are ONLY Unidentified in that they are clearly NOT man-made craft. To then say they are alien craft is true – as it is in fact “alien” to us, but it may not mean “alien” as in “from outer space”. The ET hypothesis is only one possibility for such craft (Jacques Vallee and others have a different and more complicated view that entails consciousness and the mythical “trickster” notion). Nonetheless, I was not using the term UFO incorrectly.

    1. “No, that is not what I am saying at all. Gimble here is trying to shift the burden of proof – make it my job to prove a negative, the absence of compelling evidence. Rather, if Gimble wishes to claim that there is an unambiguous photograph or other piece of evidence that has survived careful scrutiny – name it. He didn’t, he just vaguely claims that they exist.”

    Not so. YOU made the claim that NO photograph or video stands up to scientific scrutiny. I asked for a source for your claim; nothing more and nothing less. Give me an article, something, that demonstrates unequivocally that NO UFO photo has ever stood up to scientific scrutiny. You did not; instead you changed the subject by saying that I am shifting the burden of proof onto you, which is untrue. You made a claim – I asked for a source.

    But I’m happy to provide several photos that have stood up to scientific scrutiny. Here’s one: Walter Smith’s photos of a daytime disc in the Canadian Rockies. Hynek did everything an investigator can possibly do to evaluate the photos – he sent them to labs, talked to all 3 witnesses involved, and even chartered a plane to fly over the area where the photo was taken. His conclusion: it STOOD UP TO SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY. The photos are clearly a daytime disc, unambiguous. Now, you can claim “oh, it’s something thrown into the air” (which Hynek ruled out as nearly impossible, given the angle of the shot and the terrain from his plane), but that would be DEBUNKING, not science. So there, I’ve just provided you with one clear example that disproves your claim. Now, show me where you got your information that NO UFO photos stand up to scientific scrutiny – what is your source?

    Another: The Gulf Breeze photos of Ed Walters. If you are familiar with the case, you will know that the people who bought Ed’s home supposedly “found” the UFO model in the attic and a teenage boy came forward with the claim that he had helped Walters fake the photos, but neither of these claims can be substantiated except for one person’s word against another. Walters claims the boy and the new owner were lying; they claimed that HE was lying. Per Walters statements in his own defense, they seem rational to me – it seems silly that had Walters made a model of this UFO that he would have just left it in his house when he moved, or that he would use a teenage boy to help him with a hoax, because had his photos been faked (faked SO good to fool scientists in labs who studied them and found them to be genuine) he surely would not have been so careless! Why then would these people lie about Walters? Probably because someone like Michael Shermer paid them to do so ha. Hoaxing can go both ways. But whatever is the case, Walter’s photos STOOD UP TO SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY.

    And there are others. Another set that comes to mind are the (returned!) photos of Rex Heflin. The TV show UFO Hunters subjected them to rigorous tests (if you claim they were biased, show proof) and others have done the same. Check here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/4636072/Druffel-Reanalysis-of-the-1965-Heflin-UFO-Photos-40pp THEY STOOD UP TO SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY.

    How about the four Trinidade Brazil UFO photos from 1958. The government of Brazil performed thorough tests before releasing them to the public – that’s right, THEY STOOD UP TO SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY. There was an effort later to discredit the photographer (which still doesn’t discredit the photo nor the large number of people who saw the UFO firsthand), but here is an interview with a witness on board the ship who was there and knew the photographer personally: http://kevinrandle.blogspot.com/2008/03/ufo-at-trindade-island.html

    You asked for ONE, I give you FOUR (and four is by no means the limit). Go ahead and debunk them – debunking is easy for anything. But I’ve showed you unambiguous photos that have stood up to scientific scrutiny, directly contradicting your claim.

    2. “Above he says that there is high quality evidence. Now he is saying that even if there isn’t, there is tons of low quality evidence. If he is being honest in point number 2, he should have conceded point number 1.”

    Wrong again. I never said any such thing. I said there are indeed photos, trace evidence, and eyewitness testimony. What there is NOT is a flying saucer in your backyard. And neither there is a supernova in mine, but I still realize they exist (for which the evidence is the same as that for UFOs).

    3. “Oh – and evidence for supernova? Please. There are multiple independent lines of verifiable and reproducible evidence for supernova. Just type “supernova” and “evidence” into Google and see what you get. We can see the light and the gamma rays from supernova. Our models of supernova make predictions we can test with further observations. The light from supernova reflect off of distant gas clouds, and we can see those reflections. There’s no comparison.”

    I can do that too – Google “UFOs” and “evidence” and see what you get – page after page after page. You have misunderstood or misrepresented my point. What I am arguing is that the evidence for supernova and UFOs is exactly the same – namely, photos and eyewitness testimony. Physical models EXPLAIN supernova, yes, but so do physical models EXPLAIN AND PREDICT UFOs. I give you the Fermi Paradox. Given what we know of the Universe, its vastness and ancientness, and the biochemical mechanisms for how life develops, aliens should be here in droves. So if they are not here, then these physical models do indeed pose a paradox as Fermi wondered. But if they are indeed here, then no paradox exists.

    4. “My point, actually, is that the notion of a flying saucer and the accompanying shape that the term evokes is a cultural construct. It was certainly inspired by the term “flying saucer” but also had other cultural influences. It is also not surprising that at the beginning the modern UFO craze there were many types of reports, but that eventually they settled upon the standard type. The same exact thing is true of aliens themselves. Initially there were dozens of varying descriptions, but the little gray aliens emerged as the standard type, then that became what everyone was reporting. That is culture at work – which was my point.”

    Oval metallic flying objects have been sighted long before 1947 and many of those which Arnold saw were indeed this “traditional” type of craft which everyone else I suppose “agreed upon” for their hallucinations, because people are sheep who cannot be trusted to accurately report what they have seen. And if you think the “little gray aliens” are the standard alien in close encounter reports, it only means you’ve been watching too much television instead of researching actual eyewitness reports. There are several types of aliens seen, and “Greys” are but one type.

    5. “Deliberate hoaxing is probably a small component of the UFO phenomenon. Most of it is wishful thinking, perceptual illusion, and sloppy thinking.”

    Again, more “research by proclamation”. Any source for these claims? J. Allen Hynek was privy to a study where weather balloons, flares, random lights, and other devices were used to test eyewitness accounts of UFOs. The study found that people did in fact report these as UFOs, but they reported them ACCURATELY as to observation. In other words, when they saw a flare, they described the behavior of a flare (although they didn’t know what it was). What they did NOT do was describe a flare as a metallic spheroid that moved up and down, hovered, and zipped up through the clouds leaving a hole in its wake. So, when credible and multiple people DO report such a thing as that, they can be trusted that that is indeed what they see. (source: The UFO Experience, chapter 3)

    6. “When is Venus ever as large as the moon? When it is sporting a halo. Gimble obviously did not read the very sentence he quotes. Nor does he have the patience or Google chops, apparently, to punch “Venus halo” into the search window. The third hit is this: a picture of Venus with a halo and the moon in the same shot. Gee – venus with a halo is just about the same size as the moon. Go figure.”

    The moon on the horizon half-covered by clouds? Did you READ Carter’s report? Does Venus change colors and move forward and backward, then zip away? The Carter “Venus hypothesis” was discredited long ago. Carter himself has said he knows absolutely that Venus was not what he saw, because he is an amateur astronomer.

    Again, this just goes to show what lengths “skeptics” will go to defend their ridiculous notions, pulling the old tired “Venus” nonsense out of their toolkit. Have YOU ever seen Venus to behave the way Carter described his UFO? I sure haven’t. Maybe you know something about Venus that Carter and I and the rest of the world don’t? Venus sometimes turns into a luminous ball of light, changes colors, and travels around in Earth’s atmosphere? I’d like to see that – show me evidence.

    7. “The first sentence is a tautology – he is assuming his conclusion. The whole point is that we do not know what eyewitnesses saw, and neither do they. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable – there are numerous visual illusions at play.”

    Well, you got one part right – WE (you and I) do not know what they saw. But THEY do. And again you make claims by proclamation without providing a source. I’ve shown you that eyewitnesses in UFO experiments proved VERY reliable. At the heart of your argument is that people are stupid, regardless of how you try to wiggle around it, and that they couldn’t have possibly seen what they claim, even though they are adamant and unambiguous about their sightings.

    8. “Gimble also makes an argument from authority – saying that pilots and politicians have also been eyewitnesses. But pilots are subject to the same illusions and biases as everyone else. Noone is immune to the foibles of human neurology.”

    Again, your logic from your playbook has failed. I am not arguing from authority; I am arguing from CREDIBILITY. If we are going to call pilots, astronauts, Presidents!, clergymen, police officers, etc… “unreliable” and “superstitious” (which is what your “psychocultural” hypothesis boils down to), then we have really lost our ability to think straight. These witnesses do not say “I thought I saw this/that”, they report their sightings in the strongest language possible – “I saw THIS, and no one can tell me otherwise”. This isn’t about “the foibles of neurology” – you’re saying that they are lying or hallucinating, point-blank, which is irrational of you, not them.

    9. “And, I might point out, that Gimble did not address my actual point – unexplained is unexplained, not alien spacecraft.”

    Given all the available data, the extraterrestrial hypothesis makes the most sense for the UFO phenomenon. Indeed, it made the most sense to the group of scientists working on Project Sign who concluded in their Estimate of the Situation that the flying saucer ‘problem’ was most likely extraterrestrial spacecraft. I challenge readers to look this up for themselves. The craft exhibit technology that no humans can replicate, so the obvious conclusion is “non-human”.

    10. “Here’s a free tip – if you want to have a shred of credibility, you should acknowledge legitimate points on the other side. Gimble and other UFO apologists should just admit that eyewitnesses are unreliable. Afterall, there is a mountain of psychology research to support this conclusion.”

    Fine, so show me one of these mountains (heck, I’ll even take an anthill) and I’ll show you how it doesn’t apply to what we are talking about. Eyewitnesses ARE reliable when they speak in absolute terms – “I know I saw this, no one can tell me otherwise”. Now, eyewitnesses can and do make mistakes with respect to small details, such as the color of the man’s shirt who robbed them, but they are reliable as to the fact that a MAN did in fact ROB them.

    11. “It is profoundly naive to claim that if someone says they saw a spaceship, we can confidently conclude that they saw a spaceship.”

    Very few people say “I saw a spaceship”. They instead describe a spaceship usually in the hopes that someone can explain it as something else (multiple researchers say this about witnesses). And even those who have seen a “spaceship” up close, as did Father Gill and his 37 others in 1959 for over 4 hours on 2 different nights, they are still reluctant to admit it was in fact a “spaceship”, even though that explanation is really the only one that fits. I challenge readers to read about Father Gill and listen to his testimony on youtube.

    12. “People are suggestible. Memory is malleable. Perception is highly flawed. And people are emotional, not rational, creatures.”

    I disagree, and I think these proclamations show a heavy bias – “People are stupid, not smart like me”. Memory is flawed with respect to intricate details, yes, I’m not disputing that, but perception is not so flawed that someone who sees a spaceship up close for 4 hours is really seeing Venus! (yes, Venus has been cited ad nauseum by debunkers – that was Menzel’s stupid explanation for Father Gill’s sighting). Our very ability to survive depends on our memories and perception – to so easily dismiss them is asinine and demonstrates only a desperate attempt to keep from upsetting one’s world-view.

    13. “This is a known and common phenomenon. Alien spacecraft are not. See – Occam’s Razor.”

    I knew you were going to bring up Occam’s Razor from your playbook. If alien spacecraft were not the “simplest explanation” for UFOs, then the group of scientists on Project Sign would not have suggested it. There is NO other explanation that is simpler, given all the data on UFOs acquired over 60 years.

    14. ” Project Blue Book was able to identify 95% of reported UFO sightings as mundane objects or events. Many of those reports came from pilots. There are also many case reports of pilots reporting UFOs that were later identified as definitely or probably an astronomical phenomenon. Here is a good report of many such cases.”

    Project Blue Book was not a serious attempt to understand the UFO phenomenon in America – it was only about debunking. The Pentagon had established a UFO policy by 1948 that basically went “deny, deny, deny”. The Air Force had a separate office (unbeknownst to the public) that dealt with UFOs “of interest to national security”. If you don’t believe me, just read up on the subject. Hynek himself admits this, and he would know, as he worked with Blue Book throughout its entire history.

    But anyway, you’re wrong with your facts (I wonder where you got them? surely not from the press release of Donald Quarles, Sec. of the Air Force?). Here are the real facts. From Project Blue Book Special Report 14 (the only study done by an outside reputable group to examine the Project’s data up to the point of the study 1948 – 1953), only 59.6 % were reported as “mundane objects or events”. A whopping 21.5% were listed as UNKNOWN (and this does NOT include “insufficient information” or “psychological manifestation” which were separate categories). So, yeah, Quarles LIED. My source: Friedman’s Flying Saucers and Science Chapter 1.

    Now, before you attack me with “look, he has contradicted himself”, this study took place under Ruppelt, who was the only head of Blue Book to take it seriously. And he left soon thereafter. Again, I challenge readers to read about Ruppelt and Blue Book.

    .
    15. “I don’t think we can easily generalize to what “most people” do. It’s likely that there is a range of reactions to an unusual sighting.”

    No, you and I cannot, but Hynek could because he dealt with UFO eyewitnesses for ~ 40 years of his life!

    16. “But even if I grant that most people will consider likely explanations first, that is not in rather they they settle prematurely onto flying saucers as a likely explanation. In most cases the only logically justified conclusion is unknown, not flying saucer. That was, in fact, the central theme of my original post.”

    Terms get mixed up here. Most people use “flying saucer” and “UFO” interchangeably. When someone reports a “flying saucer”, they are not necessarily saying “alien craft”. Some are – but not all. But all such reports fall under “unknown” on paper. I know of no UFO reporting agency that uses the category “alien craft” as one of the sighting classifications.

    Of course an unknown is just that, unknown, but the best hypothesis is indeed “extraterrestrial” by those who have studied the reports. They are either that or experimental terrestrial craft, but this can be ruled out for many reasons (flying around the world for enemies to see and possibly steal, no use of the technology in other areas for 60 years, etc..).

    16. “That is the typical UFO believer (even generalizable to paranormal believer) straw man about skeptics – that we are deniers who do not want to confront evidence that will shake our fragile world view. Strawman argument are worthless – if you want to understand and confront the position of skeptics you have to read what they actually write and address their actual points.”

    First, I’m not a “believer”, a term which debunkers use to paint those who accept the ET hypothesis for UFOs. I find that the body of data overwhelmingly supports that hypothesis – I have no need to “believe” it (in fact, I find it very troubling!). Second, I DO believe most “skeptics” do not want to confront evidence that will shake their world view, because they require silly tangible evidence for a phenomenon that cannot possibly supply it to them. The science must meet the phenomenon, not the other way around. You cannot test UFOs in a lab or in a controlled experiment, it must be approached as a statistical study, like intelligence gathering. In other words, just because the UFO phenomenon is unconventional and difficult to study using strict interpretations of the scientific method does not mean that it is not a real phenomenon. It only means that science must find a suitable means to study it – it is too important for all of us to so easily dismiss.

    17. “Gimble, although I am picking on him because he decided to leave a comment on my blog, presents views that are typical of the core UFO community. I have heard them all many times before. UFO believers attack straw men, completely mischaracterize the position of UFO skeptics, fail to address the skeptical position, and find many ways to argue that their low quality evidence should be taken more seriously.
    What they never ever do, however, is refute my claims that compelling evidence does not exist by simply providing such evidence.
    I am still waiting.”

    You call them “straw men” only as a way to defend your empty proclamations. I showed in my previous post how you simply pulled non-facts out a tired pool to make your initial claims. When will you guys get it? This involves ALL of us. The old “if I don’t see a flying saucer in my backyard” argument is like saying “a woman who claims she was raped is MISIDENTIFYING her experience”. You have become the Church refusing to look in Galileo’s telescope because you already knew the truth of the cosmos.

    16. One last thing about Hynek and swamp gas. Contrary to the author of this blog, Hynek did NOT come up with swamp gas. He had no explanation for the particular UFO sighting and remembered a phone call from a botanist about “swamp gas”. He offered this to the press only as a “possible” explanation, a hypothetical only. Read about it here: http://www.cohenufo.org/sepost_66_hynek.2.html

    It is also important to remember that Hynek started out as a hardcore skeptic of the UFO phenomenon (that is why the Air Force hired him). It was only after some time that he realized the limits of his own “scientific” thinking and that the phenomenon could not be denied.

    To end: Carl Sagan said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. But Bud Hopkins counters, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary INVESTIGATION”, especially when it is as important as aliens sneaking around our planet with possibly malevolent motives.

  22. Steven Novellaon 26 Mar 2009 at 8:22 am

    Gimble,

    What your long comment comes down to is a repetition of your original logical fallacies.

    The examples you gave are not unambiguously spacecraft – they are fuzzy, or indistinct. They are not a smoking gun – that was my criterion. They could be hoaxes. I did not say they weren’t evidence – I said they weren’t smoking guns – and they are not. I think they are low grade evidence, and the hoax hypothesis is more likely.

    Much of the rest of your comments comes down to being naive about human neurology and psychology. I am not saying people are stupid – I am saying people are people, not matter what their job is. My statement that the psychological literature shows that memory and perception are greatly flawed and subject to illusions is not controversial.

    Regarding Carter – I personally interviewed him about his sighting, so I know what he says. He was not aware of the Venus halo effect – that explains many of the characteristics of what he saw. Venus was right where he said he saw the UFO. The change in colors and movement can be explained by clouds for the color and the opticokinetic illusion for the movement – things in the sky can appear to move even when they are stationary.

    Again – these are well established phenomena, not controversial.

  23. Doctor Evidenceon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:15 am

    Hi Gimbel,
    Do you have any hypothesis as to why the ETs don’t
    land at an airforce base and say hello? They tease us so-

  24. superdaveon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:38 am

    Frankly, those pictures sucked.
    For comparison I tried looking up images of airplanes. Now I know what you are going to say, airplanes fly slower, and fly closer to the ground. However, if a flying saucer is close enough to be photographed I have to assume that it is at a comparible distance to an airplane and the UFO must have been flying slow enough to get captured by the shutter of the camera in the first place.

    http://mirror-uk-rb1.gallery.hd.org/_exhibits/travel/_more2006/_more08/airplane-jumbo-jet-to-or-from-Heathrow-overhead-in-blue-sky-at-the-London-Wetland-Centre-in-Barnes-London-England-1-JR.jpg

    There is a jumbo jet in which there are clear details visible (landing gear, flaps engines)

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/74/179415219_60329cfa13_o.jpg
    again, level of detail is far more than in your examples. Clear features of the plane are visible

    This doesn’t prove anything, but why don’t we ever see photos at least as good as these when it comes to UFO pictures?

    In fact most of the pictures I found online were too good and I did not want to be accused of cherry picking so I left them out.

  25. superdaveon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:43 am

    ah apparently that link did not work for the first picture. oh well, you get the idea.

  26. DevilsAdvocateon 26 Mar 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I think mainstream science should set aside one day a year during which they lower scientific standards for evidence a good 90% and then let the UFO believers sit at the Adult Science Table for once.

  27. artfulDon 26 Mar 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I am in receipt of information that aliens actually use facsimiles of jumbo jets for their scientific observations, and the UFOs shaped like saucers are decoys that reveal themselves only to the certifiably ignorant who will then, by reporting these sightings to the public, offer proof to the certifiably knowledgeable that no aliens have actually been here at all.

  28. MarkWon 27 Mar 2009 at 5:25 am

    Gimbel: are you seriously trying to argue that the Gulf Breeze case isn’t a hoax? Wow.

    Next you’ll be telling us that George Adamski really did go to Venus.

  29. noswonkyon 27 Mar 2009 at 9:04 am

    Nobody can seriously claim that Michael Jackson is of terrestrial origin.

  30. Eric Thomsonon 27 Mar 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I appreciate the effort and honesty from Gimbel. I am a huge X-Files fan, so I Want to Believe.

    Alas, I don’t believe, but I do enjoy browsing the over 200 pics of UFOs at this site:
    http://www.ufoevidence.org/photographs/view/newer.htm

  31. HHCon 27 Mar 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Where are these UFOs coming from other than misperception? Our solar system has no other life forms. Only the Earth has human life as we know it. The traveling time from earth would be ridiculously long to other solar systems.

  32. artfulDon 28 Mar 2009 at 1:02 am

    Golly gee willikers nobody dun splaind it thataway afore!

  33. tmac57on 28 Mar 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Devils Advocate: “If UFOs are “real”, we ought to be knee deep in photographic or videographic evidence. ”
    Oh DA you are so naive ! Of course the explaination is: wait for it ,wait for it…drumroll please…ladies and gentlemen…the ultimate moving goalpost…the answer to end all skepticism… “the alien’s technology is so advanced , we don’t have (and never will) the capabilities to (fill in your argument here).
    We mere humans can never understand them. Aliens move in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform.

  34. smazenyyon 11 Apr 2009 at 8:18 am

    “Here’s a free tip – if you want to have a shred of credibility, you should acknowledge legitimate points on the other side”

    But Steve, if he did that he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on!

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