Dec 19 2017

Pentagon UFO Video

I am not impressed. That is often the reaction I have to hyped reports of alleged evidence for strange phenomena. They never turn out to be truly impressive or exciting. The recently released Pentagon UFO videos are no different.

The backstory is that it was recently revealed that the Pentagon funded the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program for five years with a total of $22 million. The program officially ended in 2012 but apparently its members continued to investigate interesting reports off the books. The former director of this program, Luis Elizondo, pushed to have some of the evidence they uncovered made public, resulting in the release of the video.

Elizondo is a believer. He is quoted as saying:

“I think this is a national security imperative,” Elizondo said. “We have clear things that we do not understand how they work, operating in areas that we can’t control.”

Does all of this add up to the likely conclusion that we are being visited by advanced aliens? I’m doubtful.

First, the existence of the program itself is not even suggestive that we are being visited by aliens. This is a common theme in the UFO community – interpreting typical government secrecy as hiding proof of aliens. The fact is the government does engage in secret programs and tries to cover their tracks. The Roswell incident, for example, was an airforce coverup – of a secret program to spy on Soviet nuclear testing. Area 51 does exist – to test secret spy planes and similarly classified tech.

The Pentagon studies “anomalous aerospace threats” because they may relate to Russian technology or threats from other countries. Some weird sightings may also represent natural phenomena that might threaten aviation. At the very least such a program will help us identify apparent anomalies better so that when we do encounter novel foreign technology we will be better able to recognize it.

In other words – even without aliens visiting the Earth there are plenty of reasons for our military and intelligence organizations to be interested in studying apparent anomalous aerospace phenomena. The mere existence of such programs does not prove or even suggest that the government has secret knowledge of alien visitors.

What about these new videos? They are the UFO equivalent of blobsquatch. Believers describe the incident in more dramatic terms:

Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence who is now involved with To the Stars, recently described the features that made the craft in the Nimitz incident so unusual.

“It is white, oblong, some 40 feet long and perhaps 12 feet thick … The pilots are astonished to see the object suddenly reorient itself toward the approaching F/A-18. In a series of discreet tumbling maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics, the object takes a position directly behind the approaching F/A-18. The pilots capture gun camera footage and infrared imagery of the object. They are outmatched by a technology they’ve never seen.”

This is not an objective interpretation but rather one filtered through the assumption that the phenomena was a craft. As regular readers should know, believing is seeing – how we perceive our senses is massive influenced by our beliefs and assumptions.

In reality, determining how big and therefore fast an object is requires knowledge of how distant it is. If the perception of distance is off, then interpretations of size and speed will be similarly off. So a small, slow, and near object may appear to be a large, fast and distant object, but that is just an optical illusion.

The pilots also report seeing the object “break the laws of physics.” That is always a red flag for me. If you think something is breaking the laws of physics, then there is likely an error in perception.

I have no idea ultimately what caused this encounter. We simply don’t have enough information. It is probably something truly unusual, given that it was selected out of numerous encounters as being the most interesting. But weird and unusual stuff happens without it being aliens. Possibilities include instrument failure, and unusual natural phenomenon, or secret foreign technology.

The objective evidence we are left with, mainly the videos, is simply unimpressive. We see a glowing blob in the middle of the field without any features that can be used to truly judge what it is, or even how big or far away it is. It could be an artifact as far as we can tell from the video.

I would like to see a technical analysis of the original video. This may shed more light on what it is, and I predict any more detailed information will move us in the direction of a prosaic explanation. I am always completely open to the idea that it is an alien spacecraft – but I need more than a blob and a confused eyewitness report.

I also find it telling that Elizondo pushed to have what he felt was the most compelling evidence in the hands of the government made public, and this is the best they had. Unless there is an even more secret government program to study UFOs, this apparently is the best evidence years of research has revealed. If Elizondo were aware of smoking gun evidence it seems he would have said so or pushed to have that made public.

But of course if you think there is a conspiracy to cover it all up, everything that happens or doesn’t happen is just part of the conspiracy. You can just imagine that the conspiracy goes one level deeper – Elizondo is a false flag operative made to make it appear that the government does not have smoking gun evidence. Sure.

As I said, I am willing to be convinced. If the aliens are benign, I would even love to be convinced. Show me the evidence. But all we are getting is extremely low grade evidence and a lot of wishful thinking.

71 responses so far

71 thoughts on “Pentagon UFO Video”

  1. MWSletten says:

    Once upon a time I was a KC-135 boom operator with the US Air Force. As part of prep to conduct an aerial refueling I would assume my position in the back of the plane and run a checklist to get the equipment ready while monitoring the receiver’s position during closure.

    One night we were scheduled to refuel a flight of two F-16s. It was 45 minutes after sunset as I went after to run the checklist. My pilot called on the interphone to tell me one of the pair had returned to base for a mechanical issue, so we were getting a single receiver. Shortly thereafter, I caught sight of the F-16. To make it easier to see them, receivers usually leave their landing light illuminated until reaching 1/2 mile in trail. The landing light is a single, forward-aimed light intended to illuminate the runway during landing. As I reported the receiver’s position to the pilot I noticed he had his anti-collision lights on instead of his landing light. The anti-collision lights are two forward-aimed lights at the wing roots intended to make the aircraft easier to see to other aircraft, hence the “anti-collision” designation.

    I continued my checklist while monitoring the receiver’s closure. I was thinking the anti-collision lights made it a bit easier to gauge distance; as the gap between the two lights grew I could tell how much closer he was getting, and the faster the gap grew, the faster his closure rate. I had just reported the receiver at 1/2 mile to my pilot, and was expecting him to extinguish his anti-collision light at any moment.

    Suddenly, the gap between the two light started growing rapidly. Because I had been using that gap to gauge distance and closure rate, from my perspective, it appeared the receiver had accelerated, and was now closing far more rapidly than normal–I mean to say it appeared as if an impact between our two aircraft was imminent!

    Then the anti-collision lights went off. Not both at the same time, but with a slight gap in time. That was odd–they should have gone off at the same time since they are operated by a single switch. Then I noticed there were two rotating beacons, and two sets of navigation lights. It was two aircraft! They had broken formation at 1/2 mile, with one heading directly for the precontact position aft of us and the other heading to the observation position on the wing. I had focused so much on the anti-collision lights–which were actually the individual landing lights of each aircraft–I hadn’t noticed all the other lights. When the two aircraft split apart, the growing gap between what I thought were the two anti-collision lights of a single aircraft gave an extremely convincing optical illusion of a huge increase in the closure rate.

    These kind of optical illusions are common in flight. We are used to having other objects/terrain features in our field of view to help us judge relative size/distance. When you’re up at altitude you have nothing but clouds, blue sky or a star field as a background. It’s easy to get disoriented. When those two aircraft split apart my head was spinning; my brain simply couldn’t understand how that single aircraft had accelerated so rapidly. Just as rapidly as my head started spinning, it stopped when I realized there were two aircraft instead of just one.

    BTW, pilots are trained to understand they will experience optical illusions:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_illusions_in_aviation#Visual_illusions

  2. Willy says:

    I strongly suspect than life exists throughout the universe and, if so, at least some of it is very likely much more technologically advanced than we are. Having said that, the VAST distances between stars make it very unlikely that any other “alien” civilizations are able to travel far enough to reach us (barring some “new” physics that we haven’t yet determined) and it seems to me to be beyond absurd that they would get this far and not say “hi” in some fashion. UFOs are precisely that–unidentified “flying” objects; they are NOT aliens from a distant planet. If we do find intelligent life out there, it’ll be by means of something like SETI.

  3. Waydude says:

    I’m a pilot and I made a video of the full moon one night while flying to mess with my friends. I film inside the cockpit and then turn to film the moon, which in an iphone looks like a bright blob, then I shake it a little and turn the camera fast to one side, which when watching the video makes it look like the blob flies the other way. Then pan back inside for the the “whaaaaat? reaction”. I showed some friends, and the first reactions I got were “Oh mY god! What is that?” Then I share the joke and hope they learned something about critical thinking.

    So i guess the truth is, I’m an asshole.

  4. Willy says:

    On a very dark night, when you have no close by stationary reference frame and nothing stationary visible on the horizon, take the time to stare at a distant light source close to the horizon–Venus works quite well. After twenty or so seconds, the light source will appear to move in quite startling and rapid motions. I’m thinking quite a few UFO reports come from this situation.

  5. saburai says:

    I’m with Steve: I’d LOVE to be convinced, but this evidence is thin gruel.

    1. Where is the full footage? Everything I’ve seen in this release has been short snippets of 20-30 seconds. I want context–how did these objects come to the pilots’ attention? Did they approach the objects over several minutes (which would lend credence to them being real things in space) or notice them and quickly lose them (more likely an illusion or sensor issue)? Were there radar locks that corresponded to the visual observations? Were those radar signals confirmed by multiple independent sensors? Etc.

    2. Why is the resolution so poor? I don’t know the native resolution of in flight gun turret sensors, but surely it’s high enough to easily read the HUD info. I haven’t seen that. These videos look like low-res captures of other footage. Odd.

    3. It is ENORMOUSLY concerning to me that “To the Stars Academy” immediately starts pumping you to invest cash when you go to their site. That is the #1 indicator of bad faith.

    4. Presumably the Pentagon spent that $22 million on, I don’t know, INVESTIGATING these sorts of things. Ok, so where are the investigative reports for these incidents? How did the investigators proceed? Did they compare these phenomena to other known-and-explained sensor failures or pilot mis-identifications, or were they filled with the same breathless credulity shown by the public figures who’ve so far commented? Did they list the most plausible explanations?

    5. The NYT article that kicked all of this off mentioned, as an off-handed aside with no followup question–that the government thinks it has samples of alien alloys. Uh, what? Look, grainy films are great and all, but if we’re declassifying stuff, GIVE US THE ALIEN ALLOY. We can put this whole question to bed in a week if you have a chunk of metal that can’t melt or levitates or is made of something that isn’t on the periodic table, or whatever else qualifies as “alien alloy.” I couldn’t believe that line was passed off with a shrug. … ALIEN ALLOY?!

    6. This whole thing comes off as a poorly-(un-skeptically)-reported $22 million boondoggle perpetrated by either an overly-credulous UFO true believer (Bigelow?) or a blatant team of scam artists (hard to tell which). The easy way to convince me otherwise is to release the investigative reports of these incidents.

  6. Unorganised resistance says:

    I have a friend that was totally convinced that he’d been visited by aliens when he was younger and no amount of scepticism could shake his confidence in the belief of what he’d experienced. So one day I decided to ask him what had actually happened and when he explained the situation he gave a text-book account of sleep paralysis/hypnagogia. It makes me wonder how many people who believe that they have visited by aliens have experienced the same thing.

  7. Average Joe says:

    I’m ignorant of the camera tech and whether the [ ] in the image constitutes a lock of some sort. That said, it looks suspicious that the object is centered more or less and does not move in the frame at all as the camera’s view sweeps across the clouds. As if it’s a spec of dust, water droplet or whatever on the camera itself. AFAIK there was no direct human line of sight but rather through the camera only. What would be telling is the entire video from take off to landing and when the object appears and if it ever disappears.

  8. skep4life says:

    UFOs reported by mainstream media? It’s called a slow news day.

    The video is definitely strong evidence: that pilot is an idiot. Let’s hope the U.S doesn’t rely on him in a real combat situation one day.

    Aerobatics includes several non-conventional movements that don’t involve standard air planing.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobatic_maneuver

    In fact, much of the research into aerobatics involves studying natural phenomenon like peregrine falcons’ diving speeds or hornet’s change of direction.

    As to not confuse anyone, we give the aircraft loosely based on them names like the F-18 Hornet and the F-35 Raptor.

    Steve’s points are excellent.

    To me the object looks like a bird or Antonov An-2 Russian plane or kite.

    For info on the interesting An-2 which is still used by modern airforces see here:

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-north-korea-using-stealth-plane-1940s-180956145/

    In any event the incident is evidence that the U.S. airforce has some dumb pilots and most people are still really stupid, uninformed and unwilling to do any research.

    Cheers,

    Ray

  9. BaS says:

    Instead of “UFO equivalent of blobsquatch” might I suggest “UFB”? 🙂

  10. Rogue Medic says:

    saburai,

    “2. Why is the resolution so poor?”

    What do you expect from a $22 million program?

    The out of focus and out of context video is the best evidence, so you know it is real.

    We just need to lower our standards for reality.

    High standards are just part of the conspiracy by Big Alien.

    .

  11. Newcoaster says:

    My first impression on viewing the above video was it’s an insect or dirt on the lens or in the camera housing. I have no idea if thats even possible, but that was my initial thought.

    The background is moving quite fast but the “anomaly” is fixed in the middle of the frame with only minor movements. That fits more with a small object up close than a large object far away.

  12. thequark says:

    When I saw the UFO story in the NYTimes, I have been yearning for an informed skeptical response, but I think this could use a deeper dive than what is mentioned in Steven’s post.

    Echoing to some extent saburai,

    1. Harry Reid, in part, helped use dark money to create a program to investigate these things. Their intention seemed to be motivated by a belief in UFOs as alien spacecraft. Not only that but: “Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow”

    2. People like Mr. Bigelow claimed (among other things indicating he’s a believer)

    > “Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue,” Mr. Bigelow said in an interview. “Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma. China and Russia are much more open and work on this with huge organizations within their countries. Smaller countries like Belgium, France, England and South American countries like Chile are more open, too. They are proactive and willing to discuss this topic, rather than being held back by a juvenile taboo.”

    Do we know anything about what other countries are doing with regards to UFOs?

    Also, taken together 1 and 2 (and other information in the NYTimes story and the Monday “Daily” NYTimes podcast) seem to imply this UFO program in the Pentagon existed and was simultaneously considered a laughing stock by those in-the-know but not involved directly.

    3. Finally, something we obviously cannot assess on our own, in the NYTimes “Daily” podcast on Monday, they dedicated the whole show to this subject. In an interview on there, Elizondo (I believe) says there is a lot more information still classified, seemingly even more convincing(?). I somehow doubt it being more convincing, but the line in the print story:

    “Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.”

    suggests that they may believe they are in possession of parts of such a craft.

    Concluding, these parts of the story seem to run in contradiction with what Steve says:

    Seemingly in contradiction to #1 & #2:
    > The Pentagon studies “anomalous aerospace threats” because they may relate to Russian technology or threats from other countries. Some weird sightings may also represent natural phenomena that might threaten aviation. At the very least such a program will help us identify apparent anomalies better so that when we do encounter novel foreign technology we will be better able to recognize it.

    And

    Seemingly in contradiction to #3
    > I also find it telling that Elizondo pushed to have what he felt was the most compelling evidence in the hands of the government made public, and this is the best they had. Unless there is an even more secret government program to study UFOs, this apparently is the best evidence years of research has revealed. If Elizondo were aware of smoking gun evidence it seems he would have said so or pushed to have that made public.

    Personally, I think that such a secret program with believers trying to find evidence of aliens is maybe a bit surprising, but I doubt that they have convincing evidence (and have certainly not produced it). Given such a program, I’m unsurprised they have not declassified everything since the government tends to overclassify anyways, and that should not be taken as evidence that they have convincing evidence.

  13. michaelegnor says:

    So you are all admitting that distinguishing between a natural object and an intelligently designed object is a valid scientific project. ID is science. Took you long enough to come around.

  14. Average Joe says:

    humans can intelligently design an object. God designs intelligently. Therefore humans are gods. I am God.

  15. saburai says:

    I know you’re being facetious, but to be clear:

    The $22 million was for investigations.

    The F-18 FLIR is a Lockheed Martin AN/AAS-38 unit that probably cost many times that to develop, and certainly is higher resolution than what was released. And, though I’m dubious this is anything too crazy, I would like to know the answer to the puzzle, so the potato-quality footage is frustrating.

  16. Willy says:

    You’re just plain full of crap, Doc. Now ‘splain to us your 3-D chess players lunatic, uneducated, and ignorant statements on healthcare.

  17. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] So you are all admitting that distinguishing between a natural object and an intelligently designed object is a valid scientific project. ID is science. Took you long enough to come around.

    I guess with the same breath Michael is admitting that not everything is de facto the product of intelligence. That’s actually progress to be applauded.

  18. BillyJoe7 says:

    Why do the trolls always insist on demonstrating how unintelligent they are.

  19. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor,

    ‘So you are all admitting that distinguishing between a natural object and an intelligently designed object is a valid scientific project. ID is science. Took you long enough to come around.’

    No. We think it’s a valid project distinguishing between extremely poor evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial UFOs and what would be adequate or even good evidence.

    In the same way that we consider it a valid project distinguishing between pseudoscience such as ID (which its prophet Stephen Meyer in ‘Darwin’s Doubt’ has admitted is religiously motivated) and real science such as evolutionary biology.

  20. michaelegnor says:

    @chi:

    [I guess with the same breath Michael is admitting that not everything is de facto the product of intelligence.]

    Excellent point. In fact, that’s one of the weaknesses of ID theory. All nature is created, and thus designed. Some aspects of nature, such as biology, have hallmarks of artifactual (in a Thomist sense) design, rather than the natural design present in inanimate matter. Many ID theorists have been imprecise on that point.

    The reality is that all of nature manifests design, in the sense of formal and final cause. Some kinds of (biological) design are analogous in some ways to human artifacts.

    Steven’s post is an admission that discernment of artifactual design in nature is genuine science, which of course it is. That’s my point here. It is scientifically legitimate to infer, and provide evidence for and against, intelligent design in nature, whether it’s in lights in the sky or in the genetic code.

  21. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Steven’s post is an admission that discernment of artifactual design in nature is genuine science, which of course it is. That’s my point here. It is scientifically legitimate to infer, and provide evidence for and against, intelligent design in nature, whether it’s in lights in the sky or in the genetic code.

    No it isn’t. You are begging the question with phrases such as “natural design.”

    Intersecting waves of randomly different frequencies create a complex and regular pattern. That pattern isn’t “designed” and it isn’t determined by an “intelligence.” Similarly, stochastic systems that interact with an environment will, over time, become shaped by that environment. That isn’t design either.

    There is no valid hypothesis here, only a pre-determined conclusion you seek to veneer-over with the unearned guise of legitimate scientific inquiry.

  22. Willy says:

    By continually ignoring my challenge, I think it’s safe to claim that Dr. Egnor has tacitly admitted that Trump is an idiot regarding healthcare (and “nuclear”), despite his claiming to know “everything” about it. Keep reading Trump’s comments, Doc, you’ll find they’re all empty bloviating with zero knowledge. He’s a con man, Doc, and you’ve been conned. Not even your Thomist philosophy could save you from the dog whistles of a con artist. Ideology out “Trumps” all for you.

  23. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor,

    ‘Steve’s post is an admission that discernment of artifactual design in nature is genuine science, which of course it is. That’s my point here. It is scientifically legitimate to infer, and provide evidence for and against, intelligent design in nature, whether it’s lights in the sky or in the genetic code.’

    No, Steve’s post isn’t an admission of what you claim it is.

    Which part of ‘I am not impressed. That is often the reaction I have to hyped reports of alleged evidence for strange phenomena. They never turn out to be truly impressive or exciting. The recently released Pentagon UFO videos are no different’?

    I know you have problems with reading comprehension, but it is the very first paragraph. And the sentences are very short and simple. I’d guess they’re written for the reading level of a 10 year old (one of my mentors in anatomical pathology told me once I should attempt to write diagnostic reports for surgeons at 12 year old level, so you shouldn’t have had any problem understanding the gist of Steve’s post).

    The post is all about evidence, evidence, evidence… and whether it’s adequate or not.

    The problem with ID proponents is that they often distort or get the evidence wrong, whether it’s Stephen Meyer in ‘Darwin’s Doubt’ or you regarding Libet’s research or the split brain phenomenon, in order to provide the illusion of adequate evidence for a religiously motivated worldview.

  24. prebys says:

    One of Bob Park’s famous warning signs for “Voodoo Science” is when someone keeps repeating an experiment with greater precision, but still only gets marginal results. That’s exactly what’s happening with UFOs.

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s, which were pretty much the hay day for UFO sightings, and I was a true believer, based on a bunch of fuzzy photographs and film clips I’d seen in books and on TV.

    The thing is that now, not only does pretty much everyone carry a high definition video camera around every minute of the day, but there are countless dashcams, surveillance cams, webcams, etc, all over the world. If UFOs were real and as ubiquitous as some people believe, we would have gigabytes of irrefutable evidence by now, yet somehow we still have the exact same trickle of fuzzy pictures and grainy film clips – probably less. I’m not buyin’ it.

    Ditto Big Foot, ghosts, etc.

    [and yes, this post was inspired by the xkcd comic “settled”]

  25. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [You are begging the question with phrases such as “natural design.”]

    The laws of nature–quantum mechanics, relativity, Maxwell’s equations, etc are manifestations of natural design. To deny that is simply to lie.

    [Intersecting waves of randomly different frequencies create a complex and regular pattern. That pattern isn’t “designed” and it isn’t determined by an “intelligence.” Similarly, stochastic systems that interact with an environment will, over time, become shaped by that environment. That isn’t design either.]

    “Chance” is the undesigned intersection of designed events. Without design, “chance” has no meaning.

    [There is no valid hypothesis here, only a pre-determined conclusion you seek to veneer-over with the unearned guise of legitimate scientific inquiry.]

    Design analogous to human design of artifacts can be inferred in nature, and that is genuine science. The natural or (artifactual) design of a flying object can be investigated scientifically, just as the natural or (artifactual) design of the genetic code can be investigated scientifically.

    I am not saying here that UFO’s or the genetic code or an object unearthed at an archeological dig are (artifactual) designed, just that the scientific investigation of them as designed is valid science.

  26. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    Does behavior of electrons according to Maxwell’s equations manifest chance or design?

  27. Willy says:

    Well, Doc, Maxwell’s equations don’t describe the behavior of individual electrons at all. They describe the behavior of electric and magnetic fields. Electrons were unknown when Maxwell wrote his equations in 1861. JJ Thomson first proposed electrons in 1897.

    Tell me, Doc, do Trump’s pronouncements on healthcare manifest chance or design? Or, put more plainly, ignorance or uninformed arrogance?

  28. michaelegnor says:

    @Willy:

    [Well, Doc, Maxwell’s equations don’t describe the behavior of individual electrons at all. They describe the behavior of electric and magnetic fields. Electrons were unknown when Maxwell wrote his equations in 1861. JJ Thomson first proposed electrons in 1897.]

    Odd line or reasoning there, Willy. Do you really claim that objects don’t behave according to laws elucidated prior to the objects’ discovery?

    So Newton’s laws are irrelevant to the orbit of Neptune?

  29. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor,

    ‘The laws of nature – quantum mechanics, relativity, Maxwell’s equations, etc are manifestations of design. To deny that is simply to lie.’

    No, they’re not. They’re just ‘manifestations’ of regularities in the universe, which we can describe using the tool of mathematics, which also relies on regularities. If there weren’t regularities in in the universe, for example if the gravitational force between the Sun and the Earth in its orbit doubled then halved from day to day, then we wouldn’t be here.

    Claiming that it’s ‘design’ is just sophistry to unsuccessfully justify a worldview you’re incapable of doing any other way.

    ‘Newton’s laws’? Don’t you mean Kepler’s laws?

  30. JimV says:

    The argument above by ME seems to me to be something like: in order for something complex like Maxwell’s Laws of Electro-Magnetism to exist, something must have created them.

    This argument seems self-defeating to me. What then created the thing that created Maxwell’s Laws, and so on? At some point you have to concede that something can just exist, without a creator. At that point, lacking good evidence of a universe creator (which could have easily made its existence manifest and detailed but has not) one could just as well say the universe just exists.

    If it is the complexity that is the issue, one should then realize that without a stable (on our time-scale) yet complex universe, our sort of life could not exist. Therefore there is a correlation – but correlation does not, as is well known, prove causation.

    I’m happy with the position that design is just trial and error plus memory (so that improvements accumulate over time) so indeed most of what we see on Earth is designed – but that design and evolution are synonymous – the same general algorithm at work, which happens to work well in our nook of the universe. It explains everything I see around me with a mechanism I can understand, and no need for magic. In particular it explains why large-scale trials of intercessory prayer show no better results than random chance. Design (evolution) does not work by magic or wishful thinking.

  31. michaelegnor says:

    bach:

    What causes the regularities in nature, and why do they correspond to specific sophisticated mathematics?

  32. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] The laws of nature–quantum mechanics, relativity, Maxwell’s equations, etc are manifestations of natural design. To deny that is simply to lie.

    A pattern caused by random intersecting waves is “a design” (in the colloquial use of the term), yet there is no associated purpose, intent, or volition. The the gambit to smuggle-in the property of “a designer,” as might be associated in other legitimate applications of the term, is here a non-sequitur.

    Word games are not science.

    “Chance” is the undesigned intersection of designed events. Without design, “chance” has no meaning.

    So here even you admit that events (or properties, as might result from the interaction of systems) need not be associated with purpose or volition. “Chance” creates observable patterns absent intent.

    Also, that is not the definition of either “random” or “stochastic.”

    Design analogous to human design of artifacts can be inferred in nature, and that is genuine science. The natural or (artifactual) design of a flying object can be investigated scientifically, just as the natural or (artifactual) design of the genetic code can be investigated scientifically.

    Science begins with a falsifiable hypothesis and witholds provisional belief commensurate with increasing experimental isolation of the relationship between two or more variables.

    “ID” is nothing more than a game of “let’s hide the presupposition,” as you again demonstrate here. “ID” is most definitely not “genuine science.”

  33. michaelegnor says:

    JimV:

    [What then created the thing that created Maxwell’s Laws, and so on? At some point you have to concede that something can just exist, without a creator.]

    You’re right. You can’t have infinite regress in a series of essential causes. You must have an Uncaused Cause. The Uncaused Cause must have specific attributes, such as being Pure Act, metaphysically simple, etc. All of this is discussed in Aquinas’ ST, in meticulous detail.

    [At that point, lacking good evidence of a universe creator (which could have easily made its existence manifest and detailed but has not) one could just as well say the universe just exists.]

    The universe is not Pure Act, is contingent, is not metaphysically simple, etc. It lacks the attributes necessary to be the First Cause (you need to bone up on your Aquinas).

    [If it is the complexity that is the issue, one should then realize that without a stable (on our time-scale) yet complex universe, our sort of life could not exist. Therefore there is a correlation – but correlation does not, as is well known, prove causation.]

    Complexity is not the issue. Causation, contingency, etc are the issue.

    [… the same general algorithm at work…]

    Algorithm presupposes a Mind.

    [It explains everything I see around me with a mechanism I can understand, and no need for magic.]

    I’m pointing out the logical necessity for God. You’re the one who is proposing magic. ‘The universe just happened for no reason’ is the ultimate magic.

    [In particular it explains why large-scale trials of intercessory prayer show no better results than random chance.]

    God’s answers to prayer are irrelevant to the logical necessity for His existence.

    [Design (evolution) does not work by magic or wishful thinking.]

    ‘Everything came from nothing, everything has no ultimate cause, etc’ is the ultimate magic and wishful thinking.

  34. michaelegnor says:

    [“ID” is most definitely not “genuine science.”]

    So Steven is engaging in pseudoscience by examining the evidence for and against the view that UFO’s are designed objects?

  35. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] What causes the regularities in nature, and why do they correspond to specific sophisticated mathematics?

    This is really the paucity of ID exposed. “There isn’t merely formless chaos and the only explanation I can think of is that someone must have made some rules.” It’s an anthropomorphic argument from ignorance.

    No one knows. At least not yet. Neither do you. It may even be that our seemingly universal regularities are local phenomena and not indicative of truly cosmological properties.

    The math describes the observable universe, not the other way-round. If the universe were different our math would be incorrect and some other math would be utilized.

    That’s like asking why my dog perfectly resembles the detailed description I give of my dog.

  36. michaelegnor says:

    [No one knows.]

    We do know. You just don’t like the answer.

  37. michaelegnor says:

    “There isn’t merely formless chaos and the only explanation I can think of is that someone must have made some rules.”

    Well, yes. Rules imply a Rule-maker.

  38. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] So Steven is engaging in pseudoscience by examining the evidence for and against the view that UFO’s are designed objects?

    Let’s try this again, shall we?

    Science begins with a falsifiable hypothesis and witholds provisional belief commensurate with increasing experimental isolation of the relationship between two or more variables.

    Hypothesis: The object is a craft (tool) built by an alien organism to achieve a purpose.

    What are the variables? Well, we have examination of the phenomena itself. We must first determine if it is an actual object, and not a perceptual illusion, media artifact, or man-made hoax. We then must examine the object to determine if it is something that could not arise via any known natural processes. If it (or components of it) were well outside any natural process we were aware of that fact might lend some credibility to the hypothesis.

    We also have the existence of aliens, which is necessary to determine if the object (even if we suspect it is not naturally occurring) might have been constructed by a species other than humans. If we can’t establish aliens exist we can’t possible determine with certainty that it is an alien construct.

    The pursuit is “science” to the degree to which we can isolate, test, and establish the relationship between these all variables.

    What we don’t do is look at it and decide, “I can’t explain it. Aliens might explain it. Therefore aliens.”

  39. Willy says:

    Dr. Egnor: Maxwell’s Laws, established for FIELDS!!!, were formed independent of the knowledge of electrons. Equating them to the describing the behavior of electrons is similar to arguing that Newton’s laws of motion describe the behavior of the molecules that make up the (relatively) massive objects that led Newton to formulate his laws. You should stick to neurosurgery and Thomism and stop mumbling about quantum mechanics and Maxwell’s equations, about which you are essentially ignorant.

    Why don’t you have the huevos to defend Trump’s comments on healthcare? After all, YOU are the fellow who made (the too -often repeated tripe) the claim that he’s a “3-D chess player” among checkers players. How old were you, Doc, when you discovered that “nuclear” is powerful? Trump says he was well into his 30s when he found out, thanks his uncle’s “good genes, very good genes” which Trump claims to have inherited.

    The more I read from you, the less respect I have for you.

  40. michaelegnor says:

    Willy:

    When you say something really stupid, like the assertion that scientific discoveries don’t apply to things discovered subsequently, stop digging.

    Why do electrons move in accordance with mathematical principles?

  41. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] We do know. You just don’t like the answer.

    No you don’t. You just don’t like the idea of not knowing.

    Well, yes. Rules imply a Rule-maker.

    Our lexicon is anthropocentric. Word games are not science.

    No doubt a cuttlefish believes that the universe was created for it. The universe it conceives is consistent with the cuttlefish’s understanding of it, conforming to whatever conceptual capacities the cuttlefish might have. That which the cuttlefish cannot conceive, that which is outside its perceptual or cognitive limitations, remains beyond its awareness understanding. Yet, it interprets all that it does perceive in its own image. The universe is shaped to the contours its mind, because it’s mind can encompass no other shape.

    The universe isn’t bound by the conceptual limitations and cognitive biases of the cuttlefish. Nor is it bound by the conceptual limitations and cognitive biases of humanity.

    Navel-gazing isn’t science. You aren’t probing the secrets of the universe. All you are probing is your own limitations and biases.

  42. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor,

    ‘What causes the regularities in nature, and why do they correspond to specific sophisticated mathematics?’

    We wouldn’t be here if there weren’t the regularities in the universe. It’s sophistry to explain the existence of regularities on the basis of the existence of a god (which you identify without evidence as your God), instead of it being just a brute fact.

    The mathematics describe the irregularities in the universe because they were devised to do so. If humans devised mathematics that had 2+2=5, then the mathematics wouldn’t describe the regularities in the universe.

    I’m not interested in your pontification about Aquinas and Aristotle when it leads you to write such nonsense as “Only your perception of your brain would be genuinely be ‘in your brain’, just as your perception of the pain in your finger is in your finger, and the perception of the tree in your yard is in your yard. You mind is not bound by location. Wherever the object is that you perceive, the location of the object is where you perceive it. Your mind grasps – becomes one with – the form of the object, yet your mind remains itself. The mind, a power of the soul is, in Aristotle’s terms, the form of forms. The mind is a form capable of grasping other forms and perceiving them, while remaining itself. It is not constrained by location” as you wrote on December 1, 2015 on Evolution News as ‘do perceptions happen in your brain?’ (And yes, they do).

    If ID was science, then its flagship Evolution News would accept comments, because science involves examining evidence. But Evolution News doesn’t accept comments, unlike Neurologica which gives you, hardnose and Ivan the Terrible a forum for your nonsense.

  43. michaelegnor says:

    The logical argument for God’s existence is straightforward and irrefutable.

    What we can know about God or about the universe He created is certainly constrained by our own limitations.

    But God’s existence is logically necessary. The only way you can deny it is to deny logic, which is essentially what you are doing.

  44. chikoppi says:

    The logical argument for God’s existence is straightforward and irrefutable.

    If the epitome of your philosophical study is Thomas Aquinas, I have no doubt that is true.

    What we can know about God or about the universe He created is certainly constrained by our own limitations.

    But God’s existence is logically necessary. The only way you can deny it is to deny logic, which is essentially what you are doing.

    So saith the cuttlefish.

  45. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor,

    It’s not ‘logic’ to assume the conclusion you’re trying to prove, and then twist the premises to support the conclusion, which you’re doing.

    I wouldn’t call you a cuttlefish. Cuttlefish are intelligent. Cuttlefish don’t attempt to create religions and use bogus arguments to justify them.

  46. DrNick says:

    Something something something Aquinas, something Thomism, something complete.

    Simply lather, rinse, and repeat.

    Always repeat.

  47. RickK says:

    *sigh*

    God is not logically necessary – we’ve been through that and it’s closed. You can’t logic God into existence. Belief in God is faith in the absence of evidence.

    Design and complexity in nature are built up by incremental interactions between unguided, unintelligent components. No designer is necessary to make a large number of water molecules begin acting like a fluid or crystalizing into amazing, very-designed-appearing shapes. Dawkins and others have dealt with the watchmaker argument.

    Every single advancement in our understanding of nature has occurred without the need for divine intervention, often to the deep discomfort of the religious people seeking the answers. Those brave enough to remove God from their starting assumptions and to follow the evidence wherever it leads are the ones who came up with the definitive answers. Not one natural law, not one foundational theory, not one definitive answer about the workings of the universe or the origins of humanity has included or relied upon the “God” or “supernatural intelligent agent” hypothesis. Whatever “God” is to society, it is the most consistently failed hypothesis in science.

  48. bachfiend says:

    The difference between Steven Novella and Michael Egnor can be illustrated by what they’ve written.

    ‘You mind is not bound by location. Wherever the object is that you perceive, the location of the object is where you perceive it.’

    ‘In reality, determining how big and therefore fast an object is requires knowledge of how distant it is. If the perception of distance is off, then interpretations of size and speed will be similarly off. So a small, slow, and near object may appear to be a large, fast and distant object, but that is just an optical illusion.’

    Guess which one Steven Novella wrote and which one Michael Egnor (on Evolution News). One understands neuroscience, and one doesn’t, being blinded by a preconceived worldview.

    Michael Egnor’s claim reminds me of an artwork near Royal Perth Hospital which has the ‘form’ of a perfect equilateral triangle (there’s images of it in the Wikipedia article on the ‘Penrose triangle’). But only if you look at it from a specific location, otherwise it’s just 3 metal bars in a rough ‘U’ arrangement.

    The ‘form’ of it being a perfect equilateral triangle is an optical illusion. The perception of the perfect equilateral triangle exists only in the brain of the observer, not where the object is perceived.

  49. Nitpicking says:

    Steve, FYI: I’m going to suggest this topic (and your blog here) to Captain Disillusion.

  50. PunctureKit says:

    @dr egnor

    Why don’t evolutionnews and other creationist blogs, like that of the Institute for Creation Research et al, allow comments? Why would AiG and the ICR ban a civil person like me from their Facebook pages? In stark contrast, why is open discussion allowed in fora like this, and Scientific American, New Scientist etc etc?

    It’s in fact because the creationists know their doctrines are unsustainable in an environment of open discussion, and they certainly don’t want their supporters to witness them losing the argument in the way you routinely do here.

    It’s OK, I don’t expect you to respond.

  51. michaelegnor says:

    Punct:

    [Why don’t evolutionnews and other creationist blogs, like that of the Institute for Creation Research et al, allow comments? Why would AiG and the ICR ban a civil person like me from their Facebook pages? In stark contrast, why is open discussion allowed in fora like this, and Scientific American, New Scientist etc etc?]

    I have nothing to do with AiG or ICR, so you can take it up with them. I support commenting on ENV, and I have made that clear, but I don’t run the place.

    [It’s in fact because the creationists know their doctrines are unsustainable in an environment of open discussion, and they certainly don’t want their supporters to witness them losing the argument in the way you routinely do here.]

    Let’s test your theory: allow open discussion of ID in schools, universities, etc. See who embraces it, and who runs to the police.

    [It’s OK, I don’t expect you to respond.]

    Wrong again.

  52. PunctureKit says:

    @dr egnor
    Well I wondered if you’d like to comment on the contrast we observe. Why do creationist institutions in general discourage informed debate on the technicalities they try to exploit to further their objections to mainstream science?

  53. PunctureKit says:

    @dr egnor
    After all, you dodged my point on a recent thread: as it’s a general ambition among governments to achieve a carbon-free future, your theory that an AGW ‘hoax’ is a conspiracy to make carbon emission into a cash cow is absurd.

  54. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Let’s test your theory: allow open discussion of ID in schools, universities, etc. See who embraces it, and who runs to the police.

    If you found out tomorrow the local public school 7th grade science teacher had been, for years, inserting passages from Islamic scholars into the text book you’d throw a bloody fit. Rightfully so.

    You want to discuss your religious beliefs? Great! Go to church. Rent a hall. Start a homeschool. Rant on a street corner. Absolutely no one is stopping you. But no, you are not going to corrupt the science education of other people’s children to do so.

  55. PunctureKit says:

    I predict Dr E will return with (to the effect of) ID is not comparable to theistic scholarship. Well the Wedge Strategy says different: “…a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

    IMO there’s nothing wrong with Christian values. Arguments about the reality of God don’t interest me in the slightest. It’s the manipulation of scientific thought to sectarian ideological ends that is wrong and dishonest.

  56. choward6 says:

    Wind 120 knots = cat 4 hurricane. Over San Diego. The fact that they covered that up is actually the most impressive part of the story.

  57. ttguy says:

    When this video goes to FLIR does the view look familiar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j__B6zx60K0

  58. bsoo says:

    I’m not suggesting that there isn’t another explanation for this, but I don’t think it can be explained as the typical distance perception issue with size/speed because they were tracking it on radar. The pilots knew exactly how far away it was and how fast it was moving independently of what they saw. The pilots said the object moved to a point 40 miles away in less than a minute from a standstill. The video alone is not impressive evidence of anything, but the video combined with the radar data steps this up a notch from a typical sighting.

  59. bachfiend says:

    bsoo,

    Wouldn’t there also be recorded data from the radar of the F/A-18? The radar unit has memory capacity to record missions for later analysis. If there was independent corroboration of the visual sightings by the pilots with radar, wouldn’t that also not mentioned in the New York Times article? Do you have any sources stating that the pilots were tracking the UFOs on radar?

  60. Willy says:

    Speaking of cranks…I actually have met the fellow who writes the “newsletter” linked below. Do get bored after a couple of pages of two, but, if you do (and I DO hope you do), take the time read page 11 anyway.

    http://www.gleasonreport.com/emails/2017-11-tgr.pdf

  61. DLC says:

    As someone who has seen more than a little “Gun camera” video, I have to say that the first thing I thought of while looking at that video is “it’s a bug on the lens that somehow got inside the weather cover. ” I haven’t got the gear or the software to prove it, but I hope someone who has takes a shot at it.

  62. larryp says:

    No mention of all the radar signatures from the USS Princeton that were confirmed by the DoD which were then confirmed by multiple pilots?

  63. R. Palmer says:

    To think… I was at CSICon in Vegas just a couple of months ago and the alien artifacts could have been right next door! I wasted time listening to Steve and all the other “scientists” trying to maintain the cover-up What an opportunity I lost!

  64. larryp says:

    If you spent money going to CSICon then you wouldn’t qualify.

  65. DLC says:

    LarryP @62: Radar is far from the magic lamp shown in the movies, just ask anyone who’s operated a radar system in the Persian Gulf. False signatures, bogus data and weather-induced returns are not uncommon.

  66. nsurround says:

    Wow!! Some of the commenters here believe it could be a close but out of focus bug, water droplet or maybe even a kite! Maybe it is a flying fish that got sucked up in a tornado! Will wait a minute were there not supposed to be 120 Knott headwinds? Did not the pilots say there was a fleet of them? You have to believe that the pilots and the DOD analyst that looked at this footage were totally inept or the equipment was faulty. A kite cannot fly in a 120 knot winds. The out of focus bug or water droplet close up is another ridiculous idea and only could be possible if you think that the analyst were smoking something. Being a skeptic is easy and for some enjoyable as most do not have to back up their skepticism with anything! The object in the video gun camera is not a known object, but exists, it would be ludicrous to think that this footage did not go thru a very strong analysis and investigation with all the previous commenters ideas thrown out. Otherwise the DOD and pilots would look like idiots. One possibility I thought of was that the footage was of a classified craft and that they are promoting it as an ‘unknown’ to cover up some program that is in the flight testing phase etc. In any case it is an unknown.

  67. nsurround says:

    This blog concerns critical thinking? The only thing that seems to be going on here is a heavy dose of skeptoididus. I challenge anyone here to present evidence and prove that the object in the footage is a bug, water spot or kite and please actually look and listen to the video.

  68. larryp says:

    DLC: The USS Princeton identified the object and directed the 2 F-18’s to investigate the object. When they arrived they had visual confirmation of said object while it was still showing on the Princeton’s radar. That visual confirmation was made by the FLIR and by the pilot directly when it was 50 feet above the ocean.

    That completely eliminates the possibility of false signatures, bogus data and weather-induced returns.

    So your point is as invalid.

  69. Damlowet says:

    @larryp

    “That completely eliminates the possibility of false signatures, bogus data and weather-induced returns.”

    I;m afraid not! First, what is your source? Secondly, even if the above senario played out the way you suggest. Being sent to observe something showing on a radar screen and seeing something doesn’t confirm that both observations are of the same thing, or even if one is a confirmed object, and the other is an artifact.

    Damien

  70. Willy says:

    I gotta weigh in with Damlowet here. Just what did the pilots see visually? Claiming they saw something and telling us what they saw are two different things.

    Because the universe is so large, I have always strongly suspected the existence of ETs and, when I was younger, I thought UFOs might plausibly be of ET origins. Now, realizing the vast distances of interstellar space and the really quite silly “behavior” of reported UFOs, I no longer think they are very likely to be of ET origins. Why fly all this way (extremely unlikely in the first place), only to be carelessly seen but never confirmed? What would be the point?

    I think UFOs are precisely that–UNIDENTIFIED “flying” objects.

  71. Pete A says:

    [larryp] DLC: The USS Princeton identified the object and directed the 2 F-18’s [sic] to investigate the object.

    No, the USS Princeton did not identify the object, neither did the F-18s, neither has the subsequent investigation.

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