“…nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge…further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” –Edward U. Condon
A UFO is an unidentified flying object that has been identified as a possible or actual alien spacecraft. Such objects include meteors, disintegrating satellites, flocks of birds, aircraft, lights, weather balloons, and just about anything moving within the visible band of electromagnetism. So far, however, nothing has been positively identified as an alien spacecraft in a way required by common sense and science. That is, there has been no recurring identical UFO experience and there is no physical evidence in support of either a UFO flyby or landing.
There are as many photographs of UFOs as there are of the Loch Ness Monster, and they are of equal quality: blurs and forgeries. Oddly, the advent of inexpensive video cameras has corresponded to a decrease in UFO sightings.* Other physical evidence, such as alleged debris from alien crashes, or burn marks on the ground from alien landings, or implants in noses or brains of alien abductees, have turned out to be quite terrestrial, including forgeries. The main reasons for believing in UFOs are the questionable interpretations of visual experiences, the testimony of many people, the inability to distinguish science fiction from science, the willingness to trust incompetent men telling fantastic stories, the ability to distrust all contrary sources as being part of an evil conspiracy to withhold the truth, and a desire for contact with the world above. Belief in aliens and UFOs is akin to belief in supernatural beings. As Paul Kurtz says:
UFOlogy is the mythology of the space age. Rather than angels … we now have … extraterrestrials. It is the product of the creative imagination. It serves a poetic and existential function. It seeks to give man deeper roots and bearings in the universe. It is an expression of our hunger for mystery…our hope for transcendental meaning. The gods of Mt. Olympus have been transformed into space voyagers, transporting us by our dreams to other realms.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astronomer, foremost proponent of UFOs, and the one who came up with the expression “close encounters of the third kind,” defines a UFO as:
[T]he reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or upon land the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic and luminescent behavior of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation and which is not only mystifying to the original percipients but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible.
These mystifying words seem to say that when you see something which intelligent people cannot rationally explain, then you are seeing a UFO. Witnesses to such sightings often claim that what they saw could not be explained by the known laws of physics. They claim to have witnessed a violation of a law of nature, i.e., a miracle. Dan Aykroyd, for example, claims he saw “high altitude, glowing magnesium discs traveling at 20,000 miles (32,190 km) an hour at 100,000 feet (30,480 meters). … wing to wing, edge to edge.”* How he determined the composition of the “discs” or calculated their speeds and distances is anyone’s guess.
What Hynek considers to be “all available evidence” may be much less than what a skeptic would require. For example, the evidence appealed to by UFOlogists consists of the testimony of people who claim to have seen aliens and/or alien spacecraft; facts about the type of people who give the testimony; the lack of contrary testimony or physical evidence that would either explain the sighting by conventional means (weather balloon, prank, meteor shower, reflection of light, etc.) or discredit the reliability of the eyewitness; and, alleged weaknesses in the arguments of skeptics against the UFOlogists. The last item is irrelevant to the issue, yet it plays a disproportionately large role in UFOlogy.
Attacking an opponent’s arguments or motives, instead of presenting positive evidence in defense of one’s own view is common among defenders of the claim that UFOs are alien spacecraft. Of course, there is nothing wrong with attacking an opponent’s argument and exposing weaknesses and faults thereby. But refutation is no substitute for support. It is simply faulty logic to assume that because an opponent’s reasons are flawed, one’s own reasons are valid. One’s own reasons may be just as flawed as an opponent’s, or even more flawed.
Another common tactic of UFOlogists is to claim that the skeptic cannot prove that what was seen was not an alien craft. One is supposed to infer from this fact that the perception probably was of an alien craft. This kind of reasoning is known as the argumentum ad ignorantiam. A claim does not become true or reasonable if a contrary claim cannot be proved to be true. With arguments for UFOs there are two distinct moves here. One is to claim that no logical explanation is possible because some scientist, pilot, Air Force Colonel, or Ph.D. cannot think of one. The other is to point to the lack of contrary evidence: no counter-testimony of other eyewitnesses, no proof that there were not aliens or alien spacecraft. Here, too, there is a logical error. The fact that some genius cannot come up with an explanation for something is irrelevant to deciding whether the correct explanation should be couched in terms of visitors from outer space. The choice is not either (A) we know this conventional explanation is correct or (B) we must conclude that aliens have visited us.
It seems more reasonable to believe that the only reason we cannot explain these sightings by conventional means is because we do not have all the evidence; it is not because these sightings are probably due to alien visitations. If we had all the evidence, we would probably be able to explain the sightings by some conventional means. The fact that we cannot prove that Mr. and Mrs. Barney Hill were not abducted by aliens, does not support the hypothesis that they were abducted by aliens.
Many UFOlogists think that if eyewitnesses such as Whitley Strieber, Betty and Barney Hill, or other alleged alien abductees are not insane or evil, then they cannot be deluded and are to be trusted with giving accurate accounts of alien abduction. Yet, it seems obvious that most sane, good, normal people are deluded about many things and not to be trusted about certain things. While it is generally reasonable to believe the testimony of sane, good, normal people with no ulterior motive, it does not follow that unless you can prove a person is deranged, evil, or a fraud that you should trust his or her testimony about any claim whatsoever. When the type of claim being made involves the incredible, additional evidence besides eyewitness testimony is required. Would it be reasonable to convict a paraplegic of a crime on the basis of the testimony of ten pillars of the community who said they saw the defendant flying naked with angel’s wings and snatch the purse from a little old lady? It is much more reasonable to believe that good people are doing evil things or that they are deluded than to believe a paraplegic could sprout wings and fly.
UFOlogists would rather follow their faulty logic than accept the conclusions of Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force report which states that “after twenty-two years of investigation…none of the unidentified objects reported and evaluated posed a threat to our national security.” (It was in this Blue Book that Edward Ruppelt coined the term “unidentified flying object” in preference to “flying saucer.”) UFOlogists are unimpressed with the Condon Report, as well. Edward U. Condon was the head of a scientific research team which was contracted to the University of Colorado to examine the UFO issue. His report concluded that “nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge…further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”
It is assumed by UFOlogists that the government, especially the CIA, is lying and covering up alien landings and communication. However, there is no evidence for this other than a general distrust of the government and the fact that many government officials have lied, distorted the truth, and been mistaken when reporting to the general public. The CIA, however, has shown little interest in UFOs since about 1950, except to encourage UFOlogists to believe that reconnaissance flights might be alien craft. UFOlogists prefer another kind of lie to the government lie. They support the work of NBC, for example, which produced two dozen programs called “Project UFO,” said to be based on Project Blue Book. However, unlike the Air Force, NBC suggested that there were documented cases of alien spacecraft sightings. The programs, produced by Jack Webb of Dragnet fame, distorted and falsified information to make the presentation look more believable. No UFOlogist took NBC to task for lying. To the skeptic, NBC was pandering to the taste of the viewing audience. Government agents lie for all sorts of reasons, but covering up alien landings does not seem to be one of them.
Most unidentified flying objects are eventually identified as hoaxes or astronomical events, aircraft, satellites, weather balloons, or other natural phenomena. Some are not resolved because of inconclusive evidence. None have been resolved by putting forth overwhelming evidence that aliens have either flown by or landed on our planet.
The reason no logical explanation seems credible to UFOlogists is probably because those making and hearing the reports either do not want to hear a logical explanation or they make little or no effort to find one. In any case, the fact that some pilots or scientists claim they cannot think of any logical explanations for some perceptual observations is hardly proof that they have observed alien spacecraft.
Finally, it should be noted that UFOs are usually observed by untrained sky watchers and almost never by professional or amateur astronomers, people who spend inordinate amounts of time observing the heavens above. These untrained observers have been aided by the availability of inexpensive video cameras, yet despite the enormous increase in volume of such cameras, there has been a drop in the number of UFO observations. Anyway, one would think that astronomers would have spotted some of these alien craft by now. Perhaps the crafty aliens know that good scientists are skeptical and inquisitive. Such beings might pose a threat to the security of a story well told.
Earthfiles: Navy Yeoman Sees Extraterrestrial Photos
This is a brief video excerpt from an upcoming 90-minute Earthfiles Vodcast about an aerial disc technology described by government documents as “interplanetary;” military attacks and disc retaliations; and the strict American policy of denial about the disc intelligences in the interest of national security. Thomas Colman Sheppard entered the U.S. Navy in September 1975. One year later on Thanksgiving night, 1976, Sheppard and two other Navy men saw photographs and documents in a TOP SECRET/MAJIC file about extraterrestrial biological entities. The location was a classified vault at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan. Retired Chief Yeoman Sheppard has now gone on the record for the first time with Earthfiles Reporter and editor, Linda Moulton Howe. To learn more about this report and similar reports, go to www.earthfiles.com.
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