Religion is only one source of irrationality

So now aliens are bigger than Jesus.

According to a recent survey carried out by the makers of the new alien-shoot ‘em up video game ‘XCOM: Enemy Unknown’, an estimated 33.1 million inhabitants in the UK believe that life exists on other planets, while only 27.5 million – less than half the country – believe there is a God.

52 percent of the population believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up, because the fact of their existence would threaten the stability of the government.

10 percent of the country claim to have seen a UFO, with almost a quarter more men claiming to have done so than women.

Although the source of the survey might have skewed the results a bit, I can believe it. I’ve met a few UFOnuts, and they’re pretty dotty…and worse.

By the way, I may have a brief appearance on the UK Conspiracy Road Trip series soon — Jerry Coyne was on the episode with creationists last week. I’m not the draw in the show, though. It’s the deranged theories. One guy tried to tell me that Jews were reptiles from another planet.

Comments

  1. says

    …One guy tried to tell me that Jews were reptiles from another planet.

    (Blinks…)

    Quiz idea: ‘Which of the following notions are actual religious and/or paranormal beliefs found in the wild, and which did we concoct for comic effect and for the purposes of this quiz?’

    … I expect it’d be tough.

  2. John D says

    I happened to see a landed alien UFO just last night… so I sent my troops in to kill everything on board. XCOM is an awesomely awesome game, by the way.

  3. StevoR says

    I believe alien intelligences exist.

    Statisticially its a huge galaxy and an even huger cosmos and it seems incredibly more likely than not that other intelligences have evolved somewhere.

    That Unidentified Flying Objects are such aliens that have travelled hundreds or thousands of light years to mutilate cows and abduct rednecks – no.

    That I don’t believe.

    I suspect (but cannot prove) that life is fairy common in the cosmos but intelligence life is exceptionally rare, few and far between and does not know we’e here yet.

    Fermi’s paradox best explanation far as I can see.

    Plus this is consistent with the history of our planet; two-thirds of which involved only unicellular life forms or so I gather. (Thanks Carl Sagan’s and his cosmic calendar analogy.)

    ***

    “Few men realise the immensity of the vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.”
    - Page 7, ‘The War of the Worlds’ H.G. Wells, first published 1898, this edition : Aerie books, 1987.

    “Cosmology also tells us that there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies in the universe and that each contains roughly 100 billion stars. By a curious co-incidence, 100 billion is also the approximate number of cells in a human brain.”
    - Page 237, ‘StarGazer’, Dr Fred Watson, Allen & Unwin, 2004.

    “Suppose the nearest civilisation on a planet of another star is, say, 200 light years away. Then some 150 years from now they’ll begin to receive our feeble post-world war II television and radio emission.”
    - Carl Sagan, ‘Pale Blue Dot’ page 388, Headline Book Publishing, 1995.

  4. itkovian says

    I, for one, welcome our Reptilian Judaical Overlords.

    And to answer the last comment (that I can see): It’s not irrational to think there might be life elsewhere in the universe (indeed, it’s far more reasonable than belief in God). It is, however, irrational to believe in the UFO conspiracies… there’s a lot of crazy stuff out there on that topic.

    Heck, Carl Sagan devoted a whole chapter on the topic in The Demon-Haunted World.

    Itkovian

  5. slowdjinn says

    My mother saw a UFO. It must’ve been a UFO because the thing she saw through her binoculars a glowing blue object with ‘PHILIPS’ written across it in big white letters, and the local paper reported a Philips spokesman as saying their advertising blimp was over 100 miles away at the time…

    One guy tried to tell me that Jews were reptiles from another planet.

    His name wasn’t David, by any chance?

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Sorry, but why is it irrational to believe in life on other planets?

    It isn’t. What is irrational is to believe it has visited here. What is more irrational is to believe it visits here regularly, abducts humans, performs tests on them, and returns them. Or that entire groups you dislike are actually aliens. Or that aliens control your government.

    And all of these are believed, by considerably more than a handful of irrational people.

  7. slowdjinn says

    John D

    Are you playing the remake? I’m about halfway through replaying the original and it’s stood up to the passing years pretty well.

  8. says

    @10 Well that’s OK. I can’t see the original survey question, but if it’s simply “do you believe in life on other planets” then probably the most rational answer would be “yes”. The “have they visited us” bit is only implied by the second “cover up” question. I’ll shut up now :-)

  9. slowdjinn says

    SteveoR

    I may be a little out of date…what does our favourite footballer-turned-pundit-turned-messiah claim is going on these days? And who does he think he is?

  10. Sastra says

    Belief in aliens (meaning “intelligent life forms visiting earth,” not the more generic and reasonable “possibility of life on other planets”) is an interesting case of a non-supernatural belief which proponents treat as if it were a supernatural belief.

    If you think about it, conspiracy-style thinking is part of the epistemic package of “faith.” Just a few people are in the know; there are evil conspirators trying to suppress the truth; now exaggerate this,extend it beyond reason, and surround it with immunizing strategies to make it unfalsifiable. Insist that critics are “afraid” of the truth — and therefore NO amount of evidence would convince them … until it’s too late. You got faith.

    I think it’s particularly interesting when supernaturalism actually does start to merge and blend into with belief in aliens. You get aliens who are telepathic, or who transport themselves through walls with their mind power, or who come with the message that “we are all spiritually connected.” Sometimes aliens turn out to be angels. Some believers consider them demons. It’s just so damn easy to slip supernaturalism into a belief system which has already encouraged its adherents to think of themselves as special exceptions from the Unaware horde, or the Evil cabal.

  11. Alverant says

    John D. I assume you’re playing the remake. Do you know if there’s a way to hack it? I remember playing the original and finding a program that lets you edit your base, troops, and equipment. I maxed out the damage and accuracy of the laser pistols so they could blast a hole through the mountain and wall of the alien’s lunar base. Fun times. (Yes I like stomping through games being invincable. There’s nothing wrong with that provided I’m not playing another human.)

  12. says

    Now wait a minute PZ, I’m not sure you’re definition of irrationality coincides with mine. If you ask me, do I believe life exists on other planets, I will certainly answer yes, it’s far more probable than not.

    If you ask me the hypothetical, would the government cover up visits from ETs, I might have any opinion about that but I’m not sure you can tell me which one is “irrational.”

    Finally, if you ask people if they have seen UFOs, sure, lots of people have. UFO means Unidentified Flying Object. There’s nothing “irrational” about answering “yes” to that if you have in fact seen a flying object which you could not identify.

    I think you’re the one who’s being irrational here.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    Since technological civilisations would spread across the Milky Way in less than 100 million years (less than 1% of the galaxy’s age) it is a fair assumption that we are the first (in this galaxy).
    .
    But there is of course a lot of alien life.
    Most of it will be xenobacteia, slowly building stromatolites along alien beaches.
    A small minority of it will be multicellular life, swimming, crawling or hopping around other worlds.
    A minority of a minority will have the morphology and neural architecture required to achieve sentience in the next 50 million years.
    — — — — — —
    “Jews were reptiles from another planet”

    Kolob?

  14. StevoR says

    Also an extra quote or two about the scale of the cosmos in case it helps :

    “If our Earth is 1 cm from our Sun – & Pluto is 50 cm from it – then the edge of the Oort Cloud of Comet’s would be 1/2 a kilometer away!”

    - Brian Cox, ‘Wonders of the Solar System’ documentary. (Paraphrased from memory so hope I’ve got that right but pretty sure I have. Circa March 1st 2011.)

    &

    “If you put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, that cathedral will be more densely packed with grains of sand than stars are found apart in space.”
    - Page 28, ‘Skywatching’, David H. Levy, Ken Fin Books, 1995.

    (Okay I know not too many here will visit cathedrals regularly but y’all know they’re kinda big right?)

    &

    A scale model : If a galaxy’s central bulge were a hundred miles across, its central supermassive black hole would be roughly the size of a sand grain.
    - Page 14, “NewsNotes” in ’Sky & Telscope’ magazine, April 2011, VP Publishing.

    So the cosmos is not so squeezy and alien sentiences are likely pre-eetty distant neighbours to make the understatement of quite a few centuries probably.

  15. says

    I just don’t see how you get from “Belief in aliens” to “intelligent life forms visiting earth,” in one easy move. Maybe I’m just feeling argumentative. It’s Friday after all.

  16. steve84 says

    A remake of the original X-COM? Woooo!! First time I’m hearing of this. I’m still playing X-Com 2 now and then. Unfortunately the series moved away from turn-based combat later. It also received awesome scores in previews

  17. StevoR says

    D’oh. Fucken blockquote fail. Sorry folks.

    That second quote there – 3 grains of sand in a cathedral – was originally by British astronomer Sir James Jeans btw. for clarity.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    Religion schmeligion – if you really wanna see a source of irrationality, contemplate human gender relations.

  19. sonofrojblake says

    Hurray for the rational and honest inhabitants of the UK!

    Do I “believe that life exists on other planets”?

    Yes, it would be highly irrational to believe otherwise, given the known size of the universe and the abundance of other planets in our nearby neighbourhood alone. Believing this is irrational? Huh?

    Do I “believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up”?

    HELL yeah. I believe evidence of tax avoidance, child molestation and homosexuality is routinely covered up, so OF COURSE evidence of UFOs would be covered up. It would be highly irrational to believe otherwise, wouldn’t it?

    Have I “seen a UFO”?

    YES! Four, in fact, bright shining objects in the blue afternoon sky in a sufficiently regular formation that they appeared to be connected, sufficiently non-moving to probably rule out aircraft or satellites such as the Iridium constellation, and sufficiently obvious that my mother and stepfather also saw them when I pointed them out. Do I think it was aliens? Er… no. But have I “seen a UFO” was the question, and the answer is yes – it was in the sky, and despite some degree of education and knowledge I have no idea what I saw. My money is on some sort of high-atmosphere weather balloon group or something, and I’m happy I saw it because it looked kinda cool. How is this evidence of irrationality?

    the source of the survey might have skewed the results a bit

    How about the cleverly phrased survey questions got the answers they wanted from perfectly rational people?

    Here’s what the questions DIDN’T ask:

    1. Do you believe intelligent aliens have visited earth?
    2. Do you believe they did so recently and the government covered it up?
    3. Have you ever seen something you believe to be an alien spaceship?

    I think you could ask those questions in the US and get similar results, though – except for the part about less than half the country believing in a god.

  20. Brownian says

    I’m sorry, but when a Muton lumbers out of the fog of war and puts three plasma bolts through the head of your most seasoned lieutenant, you tend to become a believer pretty damn quick.

  21. slowdjinn says

    Birgerjohannson @18

    Since technological civilisations would spread across the Milky Way in less than 100 million years (less than 1% of the galaxy’s age)

    How did you work that out?

    For one thing, you’re assuming that ‘technological civilisations’ don’t tend toward self-destruction. Looking at Earth, that’s far from obvious.

  22. says

    I can believe it.

    You’re joking, right? I doubt that half of he population of the UK even think about whether there could be life on another planet, never mind believe it. Furthermore, just because some believe it doesn’t mean they believe that UFOs have actually visited Earth. This post has got to be a windup.

    However, for the sake of enquiry (and because doubt isn’t good enough), I will, for the next week, ask as many people as possible:

    1) they have ever considered the possibility of life on another planet;
    2) if they have, do they believe it to be true; and
    3) if they do, do they think that UFOs have visited Earth.

    I’ll post my results next week.

  23. says

    an estimated 33.1 million inhabitants in the UK believe that life exists on other planets

    What’s irrational about this? Odds are, there’s some other life out there. It’s not even asking about intelligent life!

    52 percent of the population believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up…

    Nothing irrational about speculating what governments would do in hypothetical scenarios.

    10 percent of the country claim to have seen a UFO…

    Under the literal definition of “UFO,” this is perfectly rational although the number seems oddly low.

    Yes, I know, they don’t mean it literally, so sure I’ll give you this one. So much for the trifecta.

  24. Thorne says

    One of the problems about asking questions regarding UFO’s is that, for too many people, the term has become synonymous with “Flying Saucers” or “Alien Spaceships” rather than the simpler “Unidentified Flying Object”. This is shown in #27 (stevenbey), in two places in his comment, as well as elsewhere in these comments.

    So before answering any questions about UFO’s, I would want clarification on just what the person asking means by the term.

  25. Vicki says

    I’m another person who thinks that if the UK or US government had (or thought it had) evidence of alien visitors to Earth, it would probably cover it up, at least at first. Because they thought there might be a military advantage, because they were hoping to get a jump on introducing and selling alien technology (maybe via the patent office), because they were afraid of the opposition party using the information against them, or just because they didn’t already have a “what to do if a spaceship from another world lands” system set up, with specific people assigned to handle it.

    Given some of those possible reasons, it might not last past a change in government. But “if this happened, the government would likely try to conceal it” is a very different opinion than “I think that aliens have been in secret contact with the UK government.”

    As another angle: some of the people who say they believe there’s life on other worlds might be doing so for religious reasons (something like that is Mormon doctrine, IIRC). Others might have vague memories of watching something like Cosmos and not have any particular reason to think there isn’t life on other worlds, so if they get a yes/no question would say yes.

  26. laurentweppe says

    There are 70 sextillions stars in the observable universe. “Aliens exists somewhere” looks like a fairly safe bet to make. “Aliens come visting us on a regular basis, and also steal catlle, bowties and ancient mayan artifacts” is much harder to believe, but nothing in the described poll point toward concluding that a majority of brits believe so:

    52 percent of the population believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up, because the fact of their existence would threaten the stability of the government.

    Doesn’t tell that half the brits believe in government conspiracy: while the 20% who believe that UFOs have already landed (and probably anal-probed Tony Blair) are part of it, it most certainly includes people making the much more reasonnable asumption that “if (conditional) Aliens suddenly showed up, world leaders would freak out and try to cover it up in their panic, at least at first

  27. glennedwards says

    These questions were, of course, deliberately worded so as to get the maximum response (not good for XCOM’s video game if no one thinks aliens exist, right?) — “life” on other planets, “would” the government cover up alien presence, etc. And as others have pointed out, there’s nothing irrational about these answers per se. I certainly believe there is likely to be some kind of “life” elsewhere in the universe, and depending on what the evidence of alien life was, I can certainly imagine its suppression by governments. What is “irrational” of course is the inferential leap that XCOM would like you to make — i.e., that little green men have actually been here. But of course they didn’t poll that.

  28. otrame says

    Hey, PZ, not everyone who has seen a UFO is a nutcase. I saw something up in the sky once, presumably flying, and I don’t have the slightest fucking idea what it was.

    It was on the coast of California during the winter. My mom said, “funny, that plane is flying awfully low, but I can’t hear the engine.”

    I looked up and saw what my brain identified as the lights on the nose, tail, and wings on a passenger aircraft flying close to the ground, not very fast, coming from the ocean. There was no sound we could hear. I had enough time to start to say something about it when suddenly all the lights flew off in different directions. The front one continued but sped up enormously, the left and right went roughly left and right at high speed, and the rear one seemed to go back the way it came, also at high speed. Within a second or so they were gone.

    It was a shock to see something your brain had identified as one common object transform into something entirely strange. I should mention that my dad was in the air force and this was one of the few times in my childhood (I was 15) that we were not living on an air force base. We were both very familiar with the sight and sounds of many different kinds of aircraft.

    We more or less ruled out a formation of planes flying much higher up because of the enormous speed that would have implied when the lights separated.

    I suppose it could have been aliens visiting, but strangely enough, I really doubt it. It was very strange, but my science-fiction loving self and my mother have never assumed it was an alien phenomenon. We Just don’t know what we saw.

  29. astro says

    According to a recent survey carried out by the makers of the new alien-shoot ‘em up video game…

    this is where everyone should stop reading. absolutely biased firm puts out non-scientific push poll designed to promote alien themes.

  30. steve84 says

    You should also stop reading because it’s not a “shoot-em up game”. That implies mindless action, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

  31. sheila says

    I think a lot would depend on the exact wording of the question.
    Do I think there are extraterrestrials? Very probably. As so many people have said, the universe is mind-bogglingly vast.

    Do I think they visit us regularly? Highly unlikely. Well over a million people believe they’ve been abducted, but there’s not one bit of outside corroboration. And besides, the universe is mind-bogglingly vast. Why would they chose this little cosmic speck?

    But if, against all odds, there actually were evidence of visiting extraterrestrials, of course the government would try to cover it up. It would be as natural to them as breathing.

  32. alexanderz says

    Damn, steve84 – that’s exactly what I was going to say! And I don’t believe their survey either, because anyone who plays fast and loose with the facts about XCOM is surely a liar.

  33. says

    What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.

    This is supposed to be a site devoted to the ideal of using science to understand the universe, yet when this subject comes up, most folks here, including PZ, have a knee jerk reaction against the very worst of the UFO nutcases without having a single thought about the fact that there have been NO scientifically acceptable studies to even try to examine the evidence of UFO sightings for the purpose of weeding out the obviously crazy or explainable sightings and if there are any unexplained cases that would warrant further study. Don’t even try to bring up Project Bluebook.

    Note that I am NOT claiming that any such study would necessarily expose any “ET” type visitors. In fact, past experience tells us it probably would not. However, we really DON’T KNOW. According to things I’ve seen, there are a lot of sightings which are unexplained that cannot be explained away by simple means. The possibility that there are things in our airspace which we cannot explain FROM ANY SOURCE is bothersome to some people, and I believe warrants further study.

    Any physicist will tell you that we are a long way away from understanding how our universe works at a very basic level. There has been a lot of speculation that a new understanding of physics carries several possibilities for interstellar travel, and to take our current ignorance as solid evidence that such travel is impossible smacks of the same claims of the impossibility of flight before the first powered flights took place. Which we know were ridiculously wrong, as they were based on a similar assumption of the correctness of then current scientific knowledge, which was based on an incomplete understanding of things we are today much more knowledgable about.

    Any scientifically valid study could put this subject to rest – or open up additional areas of possible examination. My point is that WE DON’T KNOW unless we look at it, and to denigrate the very idea without such study is as bad as the nutcases you rail against, because you are taking your position based on the same kind of faith. Which is your own opinion without evidence.

    Yeah, the nutcases are crazy. If you have read anything at all in this field, there are serious researchers who dismiss them out of hand as you do, because the serious guys DO use recognized scientific and investigative methods to weed out those nutcases as well as the simply misguided cases where people see balloons, stars, camera or light artifacts, etc. What they are left with are the true unknowns, and there are several who will who will use the same words I did – we don’t know!

    PZ handily dismisses the entire field of UFO research because of the nuts, and this is inexplicable behavior by a man who insists that opponents in HIS field bring scientific evidence to the table. He has none to back up his dismissal, so his opinions are worth just about as much as the nutcases are.

    Which is the next best thing to worthless.

  34. katansi says

    I think it’s reasonable to believe there is probably life on other planets. It is very probably crazy to think any of it has come to visit.

  35. truthspeaker says

    birgerjohansson
    12 October 2012 at 8:46 am

    Since technological civilisations would spread across the Milky Way in less than 100 million years (less than 1% of the galaxy’s age) it is a fair assumption that we are the first (in this galaxy).

    That’s a hell of an assumption.

  36. says

    RW Ahrens:

    What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.

    Uhm, you’re reversing the burden of proof.

    Also, it isn’t so much that it’s impossible. It’s highly improbable. FTL travel may be possible, but we’ve found no way to exceed the speed of light.

    That means someone visiting from another planet would have to have technology that we can only speculate about. Since we can only speculate, it enters the realm of imagination, and not science. We may be able to unravel FTL travel one day, but until then, it’s as much a dream as the existence of a deity.

    So, the burden of proof falls to those who profess a belief that we have been visited by aliens. Until then, I’ll assume the null hypothesis here.

  37. says

    What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.

    What don’t you understand about the “burden of proof” resting on those with the affirmative claim?

    I think it’s time for you to show that you’re not guilty of a half dozen violent crimes, or why shouldn’t we at least suspect you?

    Glen Davidson

  38. dianne says

    Suppose there are intelligent aliens out there who have worked out the whole FTL travel thing and have visited Earth or are on their way. Perhaps this is naive of me, but I can’t figure out:

    1. How the government of a primitive society like ours could cover up the existence of such beings in the first place.
    2. What they would get out of doing so.

    I know this is a common trope in SF and even more so in conspiracy theories, but why?

  39. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    From the link:

    Furthermore, 20 percent of the Brits believes UFOs have landed, while over 5 million UK residents believe the Moon landings were faked.

    So while irrational beliefs in this area are not held by the majority, they are held by significant minorities. BTW, I’ve tried to find the XCOM survey itself, but without success. Anyone else find it?

    Sastra@15,
    I’m used to penetrating analysis from Sastra, but this is particularly good.

    Since technological civilisations would spread across the Milky Way in less than 100 million years (less than 1% of the galaxy’s age) it is a fair assumption that we are the first (in this galaxy). – birgirjohansson

    That’s the view I usually argue for, so just to be contrary, I’ll point out that there are other possibilities – for example, that we are on a reservation, and if so, quite probably under scientific study and even manipulation; or that we are fortunate enough to be in a narrow demilitarized zone between several astrototalitarian empires, any of which would gladly enslave or exterminate us if not for fear of the others. It may be said that there’s no evidence of interstellar civilization(s), or indeed of any extra-terrestrial life, but how do we know what such civilizations would look like? In a mature galactic civilization, traffic between star systems might be almost entirely in high-information-content messages, perhaps using communication channels we can’t yet access. I don’t know if anyone has ever done an analysis of whether, consistent with current physics (no warp drives, zero-point energy, infinite improbability drives…) interstellar traffic in bulk goods could ever make sense. Say in a couple of thousand years our descendants* are running short of some rare element essential to their technology – could it ever be worth importing it from other star systems?

    Despite the above, I’d say that something like “No current technological aliens in our galaxy” is the right hypothesis to prefer according to Occam’s razor. This is compatible with life itself being very rare, with multicellularity or technological civilizations evolving only very rarely from life, with the block to galactic-scale civilizations developing being a tendency to self-destruction, as slowdjinn suggests, or with a combination of these. I think the third is quite likely myself – perhaps an intelligent species inevitably discovers capitalism, and extinction, or at least complete exhaustion of the resources necessary to maintain a technological civilization, is in geological terms immediate.

    *In “descendants” I include artificial intelligences, genetically altered humans, cyborgs, etc.

  40. says

    dianne:

    I know this is a common trope in SF and even more so in conspiracy theories, but why?

    Well, the government is a reified entity which must protect itself. The knowledge of aliens would undermine society as we know it, in which we can all be self-centered jerks, safe in our knowledge that God made us specially. The Government (in its infinite wisdom and/or selfish desire to enslave us all) needs us safe in our cocoon of ignorance.

    It’s really Just That Simple™.

  41. Matt Penfold says

    BTW, I’ve tried to find the XCOM survey itself, but without success. Anyone else find it?

    I’ve tried finding it as well, without success. I cannot even find a press release about it.

  42. says

    #29 Thorne, have you heard of the phrase “context is king”? If you’re talking about life on other planets and then say UFO, do you really think that it’s unreasonable to assume “Flying Saucers” or “Alien Spaceships”?

  43. says

    1. How the government of a primitive society like ours could cover up the existence of such beings in the first place.

    Depends on how common it is, and if, say, one highly unlikely crash might have given it away. If it’s just that, well, hide the bodies and craft in Area 51, or whatever.

    Of course the old Roswell claim comes from when aliens might still have come from Mars or Venus, for all that we knew, so it made more sense that they might be relatively primitive as well. So I don’t know if it holds as well today, with them having to come in craft that would likely be almost unimaginable to us–but the story still seems to convince enough.

    2. What they would get out of doing so.

    Exclusive control of highly advanced technology–at least if we can reverse engineer it, which is not obvious. Probably the biggest problem with that idea is that none of the government’s technology really seems like such an enormous leap, one reason to doubt such claims (or we’ve never figured out how to reverse engineer it yet). Nonetheless, such technology would be a good reason to cover up an alien crash.

    Glen Davidson

  44. md says

    Perhaps there exists an irrationality quotient in people, and religion as traditionally understood evolved as a catchment or mental drain pan. If people dont believe in Jesus, U.F.O’s it is, and if flying saucers don’t soak the need-to-believe goo all up, it overruns onto something even more irrational, like progressive politics.

  45. John D says

    @slowdjinn – Yes, I’m playing the remake. It’s awesomely awesome and is keeping me awake at night. I never played the original, but many who have say this one feels like the original in spite of the differences. Firaxis did a really good job.

    @Alverant – I don’t know of any editors yet, but I don’t see a reason why one won’t come out. Also, you can rename your troops to certain people and it will summon a really powerful ‘hero’ character. The names are Sid Meier , Ken Levine, Joe Kelly, and Otto Zander.

  46. barbara4 says

    It seems that two ideas are sadly confused in this poll.

    Is there life on other planets? Almost certainly yes! At least bacteria. (This is a rational response, surely!)

    Have intelligent aliens visited our planted? There is no convincing evidence that this has happened, so certainty or near-certainty that it has (but has been covered up) is quite irrational.

  47. Brownian says

    @slowdjinn – Yes, I’m playing the remake. It’s awesomely awesome and is keeping me awake at night. I never played the original, but many who have say this one feels like the original in spite of the differences. Firaxis did a really good job.

    I’m playing the remake and am a huge fan of the original. I agree completely. I expected some differences (improvements as well as disappointments), but I’m satisfied that they captured the feel and the tone of the original perfectly.

  48. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Perhaps there exists an irrationality quotient in people, and religion as traditionally understood evolved as a catchment or mental drain pan. If people dont believe in Jesus, U.F.O’s it is, and if flying saucers don’t soak the need-to-believe goo all up, it overruns onto something even more irrational, like progressive politics. – md

    The usual garbage from md. The USA, far more Jesusy than any other rich European or European-derived society, is also the capital of belief in alien abduction, a vast and bizarre range of conspiracy theories, libertarian market-worship, etc. And it is not progressive politics which is linked to by far the most important irrationality of our time: anthropogenic climate change denialism.

  49. says

    Just to make something clear:

    The arrival of an alien spacecraft at Earth not only would not be covered up by the government concerned, it could not be. This is because there are lots of people with a lot of telescopes.

    In 2008, a loosely-consolidated rock the size of a conference-room table we called 2008 TC3 entered the Earth’s atmosphere just south of the Sudan-Egypt border. 20 hours before impact, it was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey and the discovery was immediately made public. By the time of impact, it had been observed by 27 different observatories around the world and three separate trajectory fits had predicted the impact point to within 1 kilometer.

    We don’t see all incoming rocks the size of TC3 (although there are proposals for new telescopes to change that), but it illustrates the point. Larger objects are easier to see, so spacecraft carrying human-sized aliens would be far easier to spot than TC3 was – like seeing the ISS or SpaceX’s Dragons. You can’t hide in space.

    To claim that aliens visiting the Earth would be covered up by ‘the government’ (whatever that means) is as outrageous as Moon-landing-denialism. Both requires claiming there is a conspiracy of the US, Russian, Chinese, Australian, British, German, French, and several other governments as well as literally hundreds of commercial and private groups.

    And now you know.

  50. Brownian says

    @Alverant – I don’t know of any editors yet, but I don’t see a reason why one won’t come out. Also, you can rename your troops to certain people and it will summon a really powerful ‘hero’ character. The names are Sid Meier , Ken Levine, Joe Kelly, and Otto Zander.

    I believe that disables any ‘achievements’, if you care about such things.

  51. Brownian says

    Both requires claiming there is a conspiracy of the US, Russian, Chinese, Australian, British, German, French, and several other governments as well as literally hundreds of commercial and private groups.

    As most who’ve worked in the goverment will tell you: if department heads would drop their empire-building tendencies long enough to work with each other well enough to pull off a local conspiracy (let alone an international one), those of us on the ground could really get important shit done.

  52. chigau (this space for rent) says

    michaelbusch
    What about their Cloaking Device™?
    What about that?
    Huh? Huh?
    Gotcha!

  53. says

    Perhaps I didn’t fully explain, I am not reversing the burden of proof, I am saying that there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all. So there is no proof or evidence either way. So those who denigrate the entire field are doing so with no evidence to assert that the field isn’t worth researching, because there isn’t any valid evidence to point to and say it’s not been proven to be worth looking into. Because nobody’s looked.

    It is exactly the point at which the field of flight was in as people were asserting that flight was impossible. We know today that as soon as people began to look at the problem properly, flight was shown to be possible, and it was accomplished.

    IF a proper scientific approach were used here, we could get a better understanding of what the truly unidentified objects are which keep getting sighted by credible, experienced people. As it is, we have nothing.

    My point is, you cannot assert the ridiculousness of an entire field of study based on a few nutcases. We’ve all seen the guys with wings strapped on their backs falling off cliffs, and we know today why that didn’t work. They were the equivalent of today’s UFO nuts. But nobody stopped investigating the possibilities of flight just because a few nuts killed or injured themselves trying.

    So instead of denigrating an entire possible field of study – IOW what are UFOs? – let’s push for a valid scientifically acceptable manner of looking at the issue so we will someday really know what it is all about.

    Until we do, we don’t know.

    nigelTheBold, Venomous Demonic Hater;

    No, it isn’t imagination, it ripe for true investigation. My point isn’t to ask “are we being investigated by aliens’, but to ask, “what are the UFOs we keep seeing?” The two are NOT the same thing, and your attempt to make them so is what makes this a non productive discussion.

    Maybe someday we’ll find out they are aliens, if so, cool. If not, then we’ll know what UFOs are, and we can truly shove the nutcases out the door and we’ll KNOW that’s what they are.

    But until we do a truly scientifically valid investigation, how will we know? Speculation is what scientists do, isn’t it? It is what drives science and the quest for knowledge. So let’s stop flapping our gums uselessly and start doing some real science – that’s all I am saying.

    When you tell me that any kind of interstellar travel is even highly improbable, you are basing that on what we know NOW, which we know is incomplete. When you’ve solved the puzzle of the Unified Theory of Everything, and thereby know that it is impossible, then you can talk.

    In the meantime, let’s do some science and find out.

    I’m going to lunch.

  54. Rodney Nelson says

    One guy tried to tell me that Jews were reptiles from another planet.

    I thought that Jews were mammals, being hairy, endothermic, milk producing placentals.

  55. tombloom says

    I watched the conspiracy road trip. I do believe! 6000 years, OK. Please take me next! Grand Canyon, maybe ten minutes of the flood. I wanna go and meet Donald Prothero!

    Then let me argue with these shitheads.

  56. Matt Penfold says

    Perhaps I didn’t fully explain, I am not reversing the burden of proof, I am saying that there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all. So there is no proof or evidence either way. So those who denigrate the entire field are doing so with no evidence to assert that the field isn’t worth researching, because there isn’t any valid evidence to point to and say it’s not been proven to be worth looking into. Because nobody’s looked.

    Yes they have. And in any event, you are still reversing the burden of proof. You are the one making the affirmative claim, so it is for you to provide evidence to support it.

  57. Matt Penfold says

    When you tell me that any kind of interstellar travel is even highly improbable, you are basing that on what we know NOW, which we know is incomplete. When you’ve solved the puzzle of the Unified Theory of Everything, and thereby know that it is impossible, then you can talk.

    You do realise that this argument means you can argue for anything ? I do trust you are not an atheist based on the lack of evidence for god.

  58. chigau (this space for rent) says

    Brownian

    As most who’ve worked in the goverment will tell you: if department heads would drop their empire-building tendencies long enough to work with each other well enough to pull off a local conspiracy (let alone an international one), those of us on the ground could really get important shit done.

    Afuckingmen.

  59. says

    I am saying that there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all.

    And, by implication, you’re telling us that you know nothing about the matter.

    All sorts of claims involving possible evidence for UFOs have been investigated by police, scientists, and just plain rational skeptics. Nothing conclusive, for sure, and not much suggestive of anything (beyond a lot of passionate hope/belief) either.

    Or maybe you’re faulting us for not checking out every planet in the universe. True, that.

    Glen Davidson

  60. says

    Boilerplate position statement:

    I generally consider it pretty much definite there’s life somewhere out there. Again, if we’re talking ‘in the observable universe’.

    ‘Intelligent’* life, as in life we could talk to? Harder to call. But in the whole universe, well, y’know, that’s a lot of space. So, again: probably. Granting that’s already getting into the ‘many unknown variables’ thing.

    Close enough that we ever will talk to? That’s where you start getting into error bars the size of Saturn’s orbit. On balance (doodles pointlessly on napkin with numbers pulled out of ass) I’m thinking I wouldn’t take that bet. But seriously, like we know. This really is one of those domains where you can legitimately say: data as yet inconclusive, but there are yet many parameters we can work on.

    Next question: life we can’t talk to, like possibly algae planets, planets with stuff like our Hadean sea going on? Almost certain. How far, again, harder to call. But from the napkin, I guess I’d say roughly it wouldn’t at all blow me away if, as techniques improve even over the next decades, someone comes out with spectroscopic data that says ‘x gas component in atmosphere y on exoplanet z we can detect reasonably well from here seems anomalous and might be well explained by some form of energy-yielding pathway that seems unlikely without something doing some kind of metabolism’. Up to and including a pile of free oxygen out there somewhere you’d think otherwise it should all be stuck to the crust or other bits of the atmosphere. Our one data set so far is this planet, and it does look like life got going pretty early here. Extrapolating from it, again, gives you massive uncertainties, but that one datum does say: happens. So it could happen elsewhere. What’s uncertain is how much have things to be like here, and how often that actually happens, how many different ways it may happen, whether there are fundamentally different biochemistries possible, so on. And remember, the current state of things is: our existing techniques and instruments are still very limited in terms of seeing smaller rocks, and where they can, and whether they can take spectra off those, but they’re also advancing rapidly right now. So again, wouldn’t blow my mind if I live to see it.

    … or, okay, it would. But not because it upsets the order of all we know in physics or chemistry or nothin’. That all basically sez: possible; probabilities hard to suss as yet.

    … as to the ‘The Greys probed my cow’ people, mind, yeah, that’s quite another matter, which our dear friend Occam would generally suggest tell us a lot more about human psychology than planetary science and xenobiology. As most here could probably work out.

    But in fairness, looking again at those questions, with the ‘would be covered up’ clause in that second question, I dunno. Fair enough pointing out this is totally impractical, but not everyone knows the scope of observational astronomy makes it so. So I guess those numbers could alarm me more.

    And even the 10% seeing a UFO thing, again, depends a bit on phrasing, context. Technically a ‘UFO’ is just something you saw in the sky and you don’t know what it was. Tho’ possibly this is giving people too much benefit of the doubt, now. Again, the default understanding of what one of those is probably is ‘little green men in something silver’. So, okay, that one is… highish. But does not greatly disappoint me about the nature of the human grasp of where lies the boundary between real and imaginary…

    ‘Course, about that last thing, too, I’m probably pretty hard to disappoint, right now.

    (*/Shorthand term. If it even wants to talk to us, how bright is it? Fair question, seems to me.)

  61. says

    RW Ahrens:

    No, it isn’t imagination, it ripe for true investigation. My point isn’t to ask “are we being investigated by aliens’, but to ask, “what are the UFOs we keep seeing?” The two are NOT the same thing, and your attempt to make them so is what makes this a non productive discussion.

    Sorry. FTL travel is in the realm of imagination, no matter how fervently you believe it is possible. It might be possible, but so far, the physics is against it. Epistemically, there is no way to tell if it is possible or not at this time. Therefore, it’s just a dream.

    Right now.

    That might change, but it’s going to take a fundamental change in our understanding of physics. This is not out of the question, by any means. But for now, it’s still just a dream.

    The “What are the UFOs we keep seeing?” has been investigated. Over and over again. You might as well ask, “What are these bigfeet we keep seeing?”* Or, “What are these compassionate conservatives we keep hearing about?”**

    So far, they seem to be a specific confluence of hoax, pareidolia, gullibility, and ignorance. We wish it to be true. So it is.

    And your original comment berated PZ for dismissing visitation by aliens, not for the dismissal of research into the cause of the reports of UFO visitation. So please stop moving the goalposts.

     

    * I’m going on a nighttime nature walk with my wife tomorrow night. It’s presented as a bigfoot hike through one of the local nature trails. While I love the idea of bigfoot, I doubt we’re going to see one — because I don’t think bigfoot really exists. The evidence is against it.

    ** Hey, I see what you mean, md. It’s a really easy game to play.

  62. NitricAcid says

    The fact that we haven’t found any other life (or it hasn’t found us) isn’t proof that there isn’t some technologically-advanced life out there. It’s possible that they haven’t visited us, not for esoteric reasons (such as the previously mentioned “we’re in the neutral zone” or “we’re quarantined”), but for pragmatic ones. Interstellar travel (even for aliens) is likely to be very expensive and slow. It could simply be that we’re too low-priority for them to bother with just yet. They’ll colonize the planets ten light-years away before worrying about the ones 150 light-years away.

    I remember reading an article once that insisted that Earth, so lush and green and covered with water, would be such a prize planet that any extraterrestrial race would make it a top priority. But what if alien tastes differ from ours? I strongly suspect that they would be water-based oxygen-breathers (if they weren’t, I’d be very curious about their biochemistry), but who says they want temperatures like ours? Perhaps their planet’s oceans are at an average 75 oC, and reflux at the equator? Or maybe sulphur plays a big role in their biochemistry, and they’d decided the lack of SO2 in our atmosphere indicates that our planet cannot possibly bear life, or sustain theirs.

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am saying that there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all.

    Gee, tell that to the Skepical Inquirer reporter who chased down reports for years, only to quit after everything lead back to a couple of grinning “good ol’ boys” chuckling to themselves at the end of the day. It has been done. Just nothing to report, as it comes up empty.

  64. jamessweet says

    It is hard to tell from this little blurb, but the phrasing of the questions may have inflated the numbers. Depending on how generously I was interpreting the questions, I might have answered like a “nut”:

    believe that life exists on other planets

    Do I believe life (of any kind) exists on other planets (anywhere in the universe)? Are you kidding me?!? Of course! The universe is, uh, kind of a big place…

    I would be more reticent about e.g. do I believe intelligent life exists elsewhere in our galaxy… Well, maybe. I wouldn’t put my life savings down either way.

    believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up

    Emphasis mine. I don’t know if I’d state it as strongly as that, but let’s just say it would be terribly surprising to me if, in the event that contact were made in such a way that some idiot government bureaucracy thought they could keep a lid on it, that they just might try to do so. I don’t think they’d be successful; I am quite certain nothing like that has every happened yet; and I consider the possibility of contact to be remote at best. (Depending on how common intelligent life really is, as well as a number of factors, radio contact might be a possibility… or it might not. Physical contact, no way — space is just too big and light speed is just too slow [which is why I'm holding out for Ludicrous Speed])

  65. jamessweet says

    In #73, I meant “wouldn’t be terribly surprising”. I hope that is clear from context.

  66. says

    You do realise that this argument means you can argue for anything ?

    This argument means that without a valid scientific investigation, or experiment, you don’t know.

    Period, end of story.

    FTL travel is in the realm of imagination, no matter how fervently you believe it is possible. It might be possible, but so far, the physics is against it.

    I didn’t say I hoped it was. I said as far as we know, in other words, so far, the physics is against it. But as we investigate and learn more, who knows?

    But, until we investigate what UFOs ARE, we won’t even know if that is worth looking into. So let’s not even talk about aliens and interstellar travel.

    Cite one study that concludes – not that UFOs are not aliens – but proves scientifically what they are.

    All of them, not just the easily debunked ones. I am not claiming that aliens are visiting. I am saying that we have not studied the UFO phenomena in a valid scientifically rigorous manner.

    Go ahead, cite ONE peer reviewed scientifically rigorous investigation that gives any evidence at all about what is being sighted in our skies around the world. Don’t just assert that there has been such a study, cite it.

    My point about PZ isn’t that he is simply denigrating the nutcases. My point is that he is taking an entire subject of study and saying that it is ALL worthless based on just the nuts. I agree that the nuts are there and are nuts. I agree with PZ that if one makes a claim that evidence needs to be there for it. But claiming that the entire field is bunk just because nobody has presented any evidence for it AT ALL that is scientifically studied and presented is disingenuous.

    If there has been, it can be peer reviewed, examined, criticized and then you have something to put your teeth into. Until then, you’ve got nothing.

    PZ often criticizes the holistic medical field and other such things, and rightly so, each of them have been studied, scientifically, in peer reviewed journals, and PROVEN to be worthless.

    But not UFOs, because of the precise attitude he is displaying here. Any scientist who tries would have his/her reputation sunk in a heartbeat. So nobody is going to try.

    And that doesn’t help solve the puzzle.

  67. says

    Do I believe there is intelligent life on another planet?

    Some days I’m not sure intelligent life exists on this planet, but I think the probability that some form of intelligent life exists somewhere else in this rather large galaxy is fairly high. And if we are talking about the simplistic single cell organism type life, then I think the odds that it exists elsewhere in this solar system are at least on par with the odds of winning the lottery.

    Do I believe the government would try to cover it up?

    I think that’s a given.

    Do I believe the government could successfully cover it up?

    Much more complicated question.

    Do I believe it has visited this planet?

    No. But, I am willing to concede the possibility that some sort of probe device visited or may visit Earth (see formerly referenced odds of winning the lottery), since any species capable (intelligent enough) of space flight is going to want to know something about where they are going/landing. I think the odds of that probe providing data that could make an alien race want to contact Earth to be approaching absurdity.

    Have I seen a UFO?

    Yes. But major medication, being very sick, and a sci-fi marathon were all involved, so YMMV.

  68. says

    @chigau @61: The invisible pink unicorn ate the cloaking device and washed it down with a blew-up using Russell’s teapot.

    @RW Ahrens @62:

    You ask “what are the UFOs we keep seeing?”. I have already explained that they cannot be alien spacecraft, because near-Earth space (out to perhaps twice the distance to the Moon) is very well monitored.

    But since you appear unaware this:

    It has already been thoroughly investigated. What people class as a UFO depends on their familiarity with objects that are commonly in the sky; if they are familiar with the sky then there are no unidentified objects that can be seen with the naked eye. If any astronomy student can’t identify Jupiter, they should automatically fail.

    ~30% of reported UFO sightings are bright stars or planets.
    ~10% are meteors or man-made spacecraft
    ~20% are advertising planes
    ~17% are other aircraft
    ~5% are balloons
    and a few percent are the Moon (usually behind clouds)

    About 90% of reported UFO sightings can be traced to some boring cause. The remaining 10% are too poorly-described to figure out what was actually seen or are obvious fabrications.

    I give references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identification_studies_of_UFOs

  69. says

    But, until we investigate what UFOs ARE, we won’t even know if that is worth looking into. So let’s not even talk about aliens and interstellar travel.

    You are assuming the conclusion. That UFOs are something other than what they appear to be: a social phenomena. And not just the easily debunked ones. There has not been one credible case of UFO sighting. And people have investigated. Hell, those obsessed with proving UFOs to be real have been trying to prove it for years, and many of them are of an investigative bent.

    But again, you are moving the goalposts: PZ’s post is about belief in alien contact. Berating him for a stand he did not take is ludicrous. Your argument consists of, “There is no proof one way or another, so all options are equally likely. Ergo, you are all close-minded.”

    And that doesn’t help solve the puzzle.

    What puzzle?

    There is no puzzle. Even once you eliminate the obvious hoaxes, the clear misidentification of data, the proven self-deception, you’re left with eyewitness accounts of dubious quality, and no physical evidence. There’s simply no puzzle here.

  70. says

    @myself above:

    And all of that is part of the talking-to-the-public lecture given to all serious astronomy students; along with how to deal with several other sorts of crazy.

    @WithinThisMind @76:

    As I already explained, a coverup like that is impossible. If you want an example of how that doesn’t work, go look up how the North Korean government claimed to have launched a satellite into orbit and how South Korean, US, Russian, Japanese, and private observers then promptly showed the pictures of the rocket crashing and sinking in the Pacific.

  71. says

    From wikipedia:

    Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 (referred to further below as BBSR) was a massive statistical study the Battelle Memorial Institute did for the USAF of 3,200 UFO cases between 1952 and 1954. Of these, 22% remained were classified as unidentified (“true UFOs”). Another 69% were deemed identified (IFOs). There was insufficient information to make a determination in the remaining 9%.

    The official French government UFO investigation (GEPAN/SEPRA), run within the French space agency CNES between 1977 and 2004, scientifically investigated about 6000 cases and found that 13% defied any rational explanation (UFOs), while 46% were deemed readily identifiable and 41%, lacked sufficient information for classification.

    The USAF-sponsored Condon Committee study reported that all 117 cases studies were or could probably be explained. A 1971 review of the results by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics concluded that 30% of the 117 cases remained unexplained.

    Of about 5,000 cases submitted to and studied by the civilian UFO organization NICAP, 16% were judged unknowns.

    Try again. All of the sources cited noted UNEXPLAINED cases, separately from unidentifiable cases that didn’t have enough information to classify.

    These are the ones I am talking about. I KNOW about all the other stuff, that much has been studied to death. But nobody has done a scientifically rigorous study on those unexplained and unidentified cases.

  72. truthspeaker says

    RW Ahrens
    12 October 2012 at 11:32 am

    Perhaps I didn’t fully explain, I am not reversing the burden of proof, I am saying that there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all.

    Investigations of what?

    It is exactly the point at which the field of flight was in as people were asserting that flight was impossible.

    When did anyone ever assert that?

  73. says

    truthspeaker:

    Investigations of what?

    Every damned claim by anyone who reported something they thought was weird, I guess. Because you know how reliable eyewitness accounts are.

  74. says

    Hell, those obsessed with proving UFOs to be real have been trying to prove it for years, and many of them are of an investigative bent.

    But not in scientifically rigorous and accepted journals and with accepted methodology. which is kinda the point. You can’t prove anything unless you do.

    But when PZ throws this stuff out there, he doesn’t make a distinction between the phenomena and the nutcases. In the comments, you guys come along and begin throwing out the baby and the bathwater.

    i’m just trying to make the case that the nuts are not the ones to look to for proof.

    What puzzle?

    There is no puzzle. Even once you eliminate the obvious hoaxes, the clear misidentification of data, the proven self-deception, you’re left with eyewitness accounts of dubious quality, and no physical evidence. There’s simply no puzzle here.

    Look at my last comment and at the studies cited that show clearly that there IS a puzzle. A fair percentage of cases are unexplained, and several of them noted a distinction between unexplained and those with insufficient evidence.

    Of course there is a puzzle. If this phenomena were properly explained, scientifically, there wouldn’t be, but it isn’t, so there is.

  75. says

    Try again. All of the sources cited noted UNEXPLAINED cases, separately from unidentifiable cases that didn’t have enough information to classify.

    And what’s the difference? What differentiates an UNEXPLAINED case from one that just doesn’t have enough information to classify?

    Shall we also talk about the bloop? That’s something that has physical evidence, at least. It’s been entirely unexplained. That means it could be a vast release of methane from the seabed, an alien spacecraft, the mating call of an immense leviathan, the awakening of Cthulhu, or any number of equally creative explanations.

    I mean, the chances are exactly equal among all possible explanations, since we have no knowledge about its source.

    And this, at least, has physical evidence, and does not just rely on eyewitness accounts.

  76. says

    @RW Ahrens:

    The fraction of ‘unexplained’ cases varies from one study sample to another, because of the different criteria used. Most of the ‘unexplained’ cases in the studies that give larger numbers are actually too poorly described to be useful or are obvious fabrications. Unsupported eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable, so the criteria for ‘unexplained’ versus ‘useless’ have to be very strict. In other words: Non-photoshopped pics or it didn’t happen

    Also: you’re moving the goalposts – first you say “there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all”. Now you say “nobody has done a scientifically rigorous study on those unexplained and unidentified cases”. Logical fallacy. Inadmissible.

    Something like 90% of UFO sightings are traced to boring causes. Simplest explanation for the rest: at least 10% of people who claim to see UFOs are poor observers, mistaken, exaggerating, or liars.

    Re. your spurious comparison to flight:

    Nobody ever said flight was impossible. They said “you can’t build a flying machine that will carry people” – and they were right until light-weight internal combustion engines gave enough power per weight.

    I quote Carl Sagan: “They laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

  77. Mak says

    I KNOW about all the other stuff, that much has been studied to death. But nobody has done a scientifically rigorous study on those unexplained and unidentified cases.

    So nobody has peer-reviewed, scientific studies taking into account every single solitary UFO sighting, therefore aliens? That’s not open-mindedness, that’s an argument from ignorance.

    Maybe they’re Hyrulean goddesses checking the place out. We don’t know!

  78. says

    nigelTheBold

    And what’s the difference? What differentiates an UNEXPLAINED case from one that just doesn’t have enough information to classify?

    You’d have to ask the guys writing those studies who came to those conclusions. I didn’t make that distinction, the study authors did. But I’d think there would be a difference, or they wouldn’t have noted two separate and distinct classifications.

    And there IS physical evidence. Even the Air Force has collected evidence – those cases are well known, and attested to by credible Air Force personnel who were on the scene and often even back each other up.

    Are you aware that Minutemen silos experienced power outages and complete loss of control upon the sightings of UFOs directly over the installations? These are well known, well cited and attested cases by credible Air Force personnel. There are also cases of similar incidents in the USSR as well.

    Could well be a physical phenomena we don’t know about, and I’d imagine the Air Force wouldn’t want people to know how to knock out our missiles, but UFOs ARE involved. What they are and why they had a physical affect on our electronic systems, I don’t know enough to be able to speculate, but wouldn’t it be nice to know?

    Only a valid scientific investigation will ever tell us.

  79. Mak says

    Why are you so dead set against it?

    Yeah, good question! Maybe we should investigate the potential existence of pink forest fairies as a potential cure for cancer, too. They can instantly heal fatal injuries, after all, so it’s possible! We don’t know!

  80. truthspeaker says

    Regarding government coverups: I understand the skepticism about a successful coverup. But we should remember there have been successful coverups in the past. It took a long time for the truth about the CIA administering LSD to citizens without their knowledge to come to light. For something to be covered up, it has to be an operation few people know about, conducted by people who are used to keeping secrets as part of their job – intelligence and military professionals, not politicians.

    The point raised above about covering up the arrival in our solar system of a spaceship is valid, though. There are way too many professional and amateur telescopes watching the sky for something like that to get covered up.

  81. says

    @RW Ahrens:

    Citation needed and Pics or it didn’t happen – and that applies even more to the personal testimonies of the unidentified Air Force personnel you reference than it does to your citing them.

    Power drops happen at off-grid facilities all the time, for many different reasons. Faulty components, lightning strikes, somebody forgetting to top off the generator’s fuel tank. The Goldstone Solar System Radar was once disabled by a swarm of bees. They’d settled on the transmitter feed horn, and started flying when it started moving. Then the beam turned on, vaporized the bees, and the back-reflection from the steam cloud that had been their bodies was so strong that thermal expansion cracked pieces of the transmitter.

    There’s nothing new here. Now please stop. You’re only making a fool of yourself.

  82. says

    … In other words: Non-photoshopped pics or it didn’t happen

    Impossible standard, there are plenty of ways to prove something without photographic evidence.

    Also: you’re moving the goalposts – first you say “there have been NO valid scientific studies or investigations at all”. Now you say “nobody has done a scientifically rigorous study on those unexplained and unidentified cases”.

    And I explained that those unexplained cases were what was talking about. I am aware of the studies the wikipedia article cited, I’ve seen and heard them discussed to death. I KNOW that most UFO cases are what you describe. But a fair percentage are not explained, and those have not been looked at scientifically, especially not by scientists who would have the knowledge of all the various disciplines which would be necessary to figure out what they are. UFO investigators generally are not scientists. Which is kinda the point.

    As for nobody saying that flight was impossible, I give you the following, including a quote from Edison himself:

    God would surely never allow such a machine to be successful, since it would cause much disturbance among the civil and political governments of mankind . . . no city would be proof against surprise . . . or ships that sail the sea. . . . Houses, fortresses, and cities could thus be destroyed, with the certainty that the airship would come to no harm, as the missiles could be thrown from a great height.

    — Francesco de Lana de Terzi of Brescia, Italian Jesuit who was the first Westerner to write on the military uses of aerial attack, 1670.

    Put these three indisputable facts together:
    One: There is a low limit of weight, certainly not much beyond 50 pounds, beyond which it is impossible for an animal to fly. Nature has reached this limit, and with her utmost effort has failed to pass it.
    Two: The animal machine is far more effective than any we can hope to make.; therefore the limit of the weight of a successful flying machine can not be more than fifty pounds.
    Three: The weight of any machine constructed for flying, including fuel and engineer, cannot be less than three or four hundred pounds.
    Is it not demonstrated that a true flying machine, self-raising, self-sustaining, self-propelling, is physically impossible?

    — Joseph Le Conte, Professor of Natural History at the University of California, Popular Science Monthly, November 1888.

    It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago was thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.

    — Thomas Edison, quoted in the ‘New York World,’ 17 November 1895

    Ahem, anything else?

  83. solipschism says

    RW Ahrens,

    First of all, your analogy relating flight to the existence of extraterrestrial visitors is terrible. Of course people knew flight was possible before we could do it. Birds existed before the Wright Bros, you know.

    Everything you’ve said about UFO’s could be applied just as well to many other things, most of which (I’d hope) you would reject out of hand. Leprechauns are one example. Bigfoot is another one that has been brought up already. Where are all the peer-reviewed scientific articles on leprechaun sightings? Oh, there aren’t any, therefore it is equally likely that leprechauns are real as it is they are not? Nope.

  84. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    These “Why aren’t we studying it more!!???!!!” arguments remind me a lot of the “Why aren’t we looking into how horribly bad mercury is in our vaccines?!?!?!?!?1″ arguments.

  85. truthspeaker says

    RW Ahrens
    12 October 2012 at 12:57 pm

    And there IS physical evidence. Even the Air Force has collected evidence – those cases are well known, and attested to by credible Air Force personnel who were on the scene and often even back each other up.

    Cite, please.

    RW Ahrens
    12 October 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Are you aware that Minutemen silos experienced power outages and complete loss of control upon the sightings of UFOs directly over the installations? These are well known, well cited and attested cases by credible Air Force personnel. There are also cases of similar incidents in the USSR as well.

    I’m aware that people have told that story, yes. I’m not aware of any evidence that it actually happened.

  86. says

    RW Ahrens:

    And there IS physical evidence. Even the Air Force has collected evidence – those cases are well known, and attested to by credible Air Force personnel who were on the scene and often even back each other up.

    I’ve followed those cases, yes. I love UFO lore — I have since I was a kid. I have several books on UFOs (most of them written by True Believers™, but that’s mostly what’s out there). And the “physical evidence” is the record of the silos going offline — but even those reports are contested. There’s no physical evidence of any UFO, just eyewitness testimony. They are credible witnesses, but even credible witnesses report things with bias, especially if they talk among themselves beforehand — “What the hell was that?” for instance. Also, most of those reports were given decades after the purported events, and many of those reports were recounted second-hand. The case for UFOs deactivating missile silos is, at best, shaky.

    My point is, there’s a huge difference between “unexplained” and, “Something truly odd and interesting going on that is only explainable by something new.” The bloop was most likely caused by something inanimate — a release of methane, for instance. While it’s an unexplained event, and mysterious and kinda cool, that doesn’t mean it isn’t due to processes that are known to us.

    Only a valid scientific investigation will ever tell us.

    Probably not. Just like a scientific investigation of the bloop will most likely never tell us what it was, a scientific investigation of reports of UFO encounters are not likely to give us anything new. Unless there is some kind of physical evidence, we’re left with odd reports that are well-investigated. And they generally come down to eyewitness reports, which are primed by popular culture*.

    I’m not entirely sure what kind of investigation you’re looking for. You could do something concerning the psychology of UFO eyewitnesses, and the effects of their perceived sightings, but otherwise, it’s hard to judge what there is to investigate.

     

    * There’s a reason UFO sightings really took off in the 1950s, a rise that inspired and was reinforced by a lot of B-grade alien invasion movies.

  87. F says

    Oh, FFS with the charitable interpretation of survey responses.

    Furthermore, 20 percent of the Brits believes UFOs have landed, while over 5 million UK residents believe the Moon landings were faked

    We know that ‘UFO’ in general, and quite specifically in this case (from beloved context) means ‘flying saucers, replete with aliens who have an agenda’. The above statement doesn’t mean, “People saw something unidentified, it landed, then they were able to identify it as a duck or a plane.”

    Get real.

    Oh, hey:

    Yes, and ignorance we can fix by studying the phenomena. Why are you so dead set against it?

    Why are you so intellectually dishonest at the moment? Hasn’t been studied? Bullshit. For something for which there is no evidence at all (you know – enough to inspire reasonable research), an awful lot of research and investigation have been done. And no evidence has ever been produced by any researcher (believer or not), or alleged witness/abductee. The constant demands for “do more research” are unreasonable to make and reasonable to decline. And yet further research has always been done, yielding nothing.

    Shall we keep looking for gods? “Trained observers” have seen them. What about faeries? Elves? Loch Ness Monsters? The hole in the north pole that leads to the paradise in the center of the Earth? Astronauts on the moon? (Oh, wait, there is evidence for that.)

  88. says

    RW Ahrens:

    As for nobody saying that flight was impossible, I give you the following, including a quote from Edison himself:

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Edison was a decent engineer and an excellent self-promoter, but he certainly didn’t define the physics of flight. As it was, he knew flight was possible. He saw birds do it all the time.

    The fact that the speed of light is a limit to travel is based on fundamental physics, pure and simple. This isn’t just an opinion which ignores the evidence that it’s possible. This is our best current understanding.

  89. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am saying that we have not studied the UFO phenomena in a valid scientifically rigorous manner.

    Then why aren’t you doing so. Put your effort and money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up.

    It all comes back to proving negatives. Negatives cannot be proven if they aren’t properly defined with end points. Example, can I prove there is “no” mercury in a ton of soil? Or can I reliably state that there is < 1 ppm mercury? The former can't be proven unless every atom in the soil is processed and the detector will respond that one atom that is there, if it is there. The latter can use a statistical sampling and an analytical method can realistically measure 0.1 ppm. Your method for UFO appears to be the former, so it can't be proven.

  90. Mak says

    But a fair percentage are not explained, and those have not been looked at scientifically, especially not by scientists who would have the knowledge of all the various disciplines which would be necessary to figure out what they are. UFO investigators generally are not scientists.

    Therefore, aliens?

    Why? Because you like it?

    I offer an alternate hypothesis*:

    I looked up and saw what my brain identified as the lights on the nose, tail, and wings on a passenger aircraft flying close to the ground, not very fast, coming from the ocean. There was no sound we could hear. I had enough time to start to say something about it when suddenly all the lights flew off in different directions. The front one continued but sped up enormously, the left and right went roughly left and right at high speed, and the rear one seemed to go back the way it came, also at high speed. Within a second or so they were gone.

    Perhaps it was in fact THE TRIFORCE, having zipped off to some mysterious location after granting someone’s wish, while the person who made the wish flew away in a point of light back to wherever he’d come from.

    Since there is no peer-reviewed scientific journal demonstrating that these lights were, in fact, not the Triforce, it’s therefore possible and completely reasonable to believe that somewhere on earth is a way to access three magical golden triangles that grant incredible power at a touch.

    We don’t know!

    *Not picking on you, otrame, your story was just a convenient means to continue my little gag.

  91. says

    My point is, there’s a huge difference between “unexplained” and, “Something truly odd and interesting going on that is only explainable by something new.” The bloop was most likely caused by something inanimate — a release of methane, for instance. While it’s an unexplained event, and mysterious and kinda cool, that doesn’t mean it isn’t due to processes that are known to us.

    Yes, there is a difference, and unless the cases are looked at by qualified scientists who know what to look for, we’ll keep seeing the same kind of broadbrushed conclusion you’ve come to. Which is based on your own reading of a few books you admit were written by what you derisively call True Believers. In other words, you mind is made up, and even if someone did come up with something, you’d find another way to make it go away.

    My point is, that I have made over and over again, is that yes, it could be a normal physical phenomena. But unless we look at what’s available, we’ll never know. Why can’t we initiate studies or investigations which can investigate sightings themselves? So we KNOW we have collected all the data we can? You are making assertions based on books, articles and such that are not based on scientifically collected data, you’ve said so yourself.

  92. says

    Therefore, aliens?

    Why? Because you like it?

    No. I clearly said I didn’t think it was even worth looking at that possibility until we know what these objects are. If they turn out to be a hitherto unexplained or unknown atmospheric phenomena, that’d be kinda dumb, wouldn’t it?

    Stop building straw men and argue abut what I AM saying.

  93. Mak says

    Stop building straw men and argue abut what I AM saying.

    I am arguing what you’re saying.

    You’re saying that until we investigate every single claim (somehow, even though it’s long after the event), the idea that aliens are visiting earth is a reasonable claim, because it’s possible.

    I’m saying why not magical Hyrulean triangles instead?

  94. says

    Then why aren’t you doing so. Put your effort and money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up.

    If this is all you have to offer, your comment is worthless and a mere ad hominem. If I had the money or the scientific expertise I would. But I don’t, so I am left to argue my points with people like you with no worthwhile additions to make to the discussion.

    Way are you people so argumentative about a suggestion to actually look at something scientifically?

    If this were already scientifically a settled question, no problem, no mystery. But it isn’t. It hasn’t been scientifically examined, because of attitudes like these.

  95. Mak says

    Way are you people so argumentative about a suggestion to actually look at something scientifically?

    If this were already scientifically a settled question, no problem, no mystery. But it isn’t. It hasn’t been scientifically examined, because of attitudes like these.

    How much time and money do we have to waste on bullshit nonsense before you’d be satisfied? I get the feeling that the answer would be, “All of it,” because if even one “UFO” encounter was somehow missed or too fragmented to come to a good conclusion, you’d still think it was a reasonable hypothesis.

    Let’s go find some forest fairies! We haven’t explored every square inch of the earth’s forests yet, so it’s totally possible! What? You don’t want to waste the resources? Why NOT? Why are you so resistent to scientific progress? You’re closed-minded!

  96. says

    Therefore, aliens?

    Why? Because you like it?

    No, you are not. I did not argue aliens. I am arguing that the observed phenomena of unexplained flying objects has not been adequately examined in a valid scientific manner, using scientifically recognized methodologies, so we cannot know what they are.

    Yes, we know a large percentage of sightings are mistakes, illusions, misidentifications of known objects like balloons and even aircraft. That is not my point, the smaller percentage that is unknown and admitted by the studies completed so far to be unexplainable are what we should be looking at.

    Science. What is so hard about that?

  97. says

    As for nobody saying that flight was impossible, I give you the following, including a quote from Edison himself:

    Argument from inapt analogy. Typical pseudoscientist move.

    Well hey, Dembski said that evolution couldn’t proceed without intelligent intervention, cause, uh, airplanes don’t appear out of thin air. And he’s been right so far a braying ass.

    So there!

    Glen Davidson

  98. says

    I get the feeling that the answer would be, “All of it,” because if even one “UFO” encounter was somehow missed or too fragmented to come to a good conclusion, you’d still think it was a reasonable hypothesis.

    You are not reading the thread. Three or four studies cited in the wikipedia article above cited percentages of unknowns to be as many as 16 to 30% of the sightings studied. That is not one or two. It is a statistically significant percentage. The authors even bothered to distinguish between those and cases where there was insufficient information to even classify them.

    You are getting shrill and emotional, and not arguing facts.

  99. Mak says

    I am arguing that the observed phenomena of unexplained flying objects has not been adequately examined in a valid scientific manner, using scientifically recognized methodologies, so we cannot know what they are.

    And you’ve been doing this because you seem to find it offensive that we would call it a ridiculous assertion, and felt the need to come in here and chide us about it. You aren’t really fooling anyone.

    That is not my point, the smaller percentage that is unknown and admitted by the studies completed so far to be unexplainable are what we should be looking at.

    How many cubic inches of meticulously combed-over forest should be adequate before it becomes resonable to conclude that cancer-curing forest fairies don’t actually exist?

  100. says

    RW Ahrens:

    Yes, there is a difference, and unless the cases are looked at by qualified scientists who know what to look for, we’ll keep seeing the same kind of broadbrushed conclusion you’ve come to.

    What would they look for? That’s what I’m asking you.

    Which is based on your own reading of a few books you admit were written by what you derisively call True Believers.

    Fuck you and your lack of reading comprehension. Here’s what I said:

    I have several books on UFOs (most of them written by True Believers™, but that’s mostly what’s out there).

    “Few” =/= “several.” And “most” =/= all, which is what you implied. So unless you’re going to be intellectually honest enough to not misrepresent me, you can fuck right off. And I never once said that was the extent of my exposure to UFO lore — I merely mentioned that I owned a few books. I don’t own those I checked out of the library at a young age. Nor do I own what is available on the internet.

    And I wasn’t being derisive. I was being affectionate. Those are some of my favorite books.

    In other words, you mind is made up, and even if someone did come up with something, you’d find another way to make it go away.

    And fuck right off again. You don’t know me, so stop pretending you do.

    This shit has been investigated, just as a lot of people have told you. There’s not been one indication it’s worth further investigation. New cases are evaluated, and should any actual evidence appear, I suspect there are thousands of trained scientists who would jump at a chance to prove UFOs are something other than a mixed bag of sociological phenomena. Just because you don’t like the conclusions of those investigations doesn’t mean it’s really worth investigating for the sake of the UFOs per se.

    Science goes where the evidence lies. The evidence for the existence of an unknown entity or entities commonly identified as UFOs is effectively non-existent. Right now, our best and most probable explanation for all those “UNKNOWN”s in your reports are misidentification of other phenomena (weather balloon is the canonical go-to here, with swamp gas as my personal favorite), pareidolia in general, and bad memory.

    If new physical evidence were to surface, something that couldn’t be explained by horribly unreliable human perception and interpretation, then I would be happy. I’d love to have evidence that FTL travel is possible, that we are not alone, that interdimensional travel is possible, that time traveling tourists come back to spy on our nuclear secrets. Any of those would be grand to have as part of reality.

    But that’s not what we have, is it?

    Do I believe otrame saw something? Yes. Do I believe otrame saw something for which we have no explanation? I certainly can’t explain it. Do I believe otrame saw something that we have never seen before, and that has no earthly origin? Hell, no. It’s just not very likely.

    Now tell me: what’s a scientist going to do here that will “prove” anything about otrame’s experience? Even combined with other reported experiences, what’s it going to prove? What is a “trained scientist” going to be able to uncover that has heretofore remained obscure?

  101. says

    There’s noise, noise in the observations, I tell you.

    It must mean something. The noise is what is important.

    Christ, with eyewitnesses of ordinary events regularly getting things quite wrong, clearly eyewitnesses reporting unfamiliar phenomena surely have it right.

    Glen Davidson

  102. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You are getting shrill and emotional, and not arguing facts.

    No, that’s been you since your first post. Pot, Kettle, Black. I see nothing whatsoever to initiate an invetigation on, or even how to go about one. Money, manpower, etc. are not available, and with negative results, no publicatios, tenure, more money. Either pony up or shut up.

  103. says

    Glen, it was asserted that my claim that people were saying that flight was impossible was not true. My quotes were meant to counter that assertion, nothing more. People WERE claiming that flight was impossible, and they were laughing at people like the Wrights. My analogy is correct and appropriate. My point in that claim was that the folks arguing that it was impossible were doing so from a position of insufficient scientific knowledge, which is exactly what folks today asserting that any form of interstellar flight is impossible or improbable are doing today.

    They could be right, they could be wrong, but you cannot make a definitive assertion either way until the data is known. Until then you must say, “I don’t know”. Asserting probabilities based on current knowledge is fine, as long as that is made clear.

  104. says

    No, that’s been you since your first post. Pot, Kettle, Black.

    Cite one quote where I got emotional. My posts have been clear and free of any emotional content, andI have argued facts.

    This shit has been investigated, just as a lot of people have told you. There’s not been one indication it’s worth further investigation.

    So cite some. Not the things cited so far, those are old hat that did NOT examine what I have asserted, but simply stated that unexplained phenomena exist. Cite studies that examine those phenomena.

  105. solipschism says

    Science. What is so hard about that?

    Apparently it’s harder than you think, because you’ve shown repeatedly you don’t actually understand how it works. From needing the concept of burden of proof explained to you, to equating heavier-than-air flight with discovering the truth(tm) behind UFOs, to thinking you can prove a negative, to assuming there are infinite resources to be spent on ‘investigation’ of your personal interest, you seem to be a bit confused about how science is actually done.

  106. Mak says

    You are getting shrill and emotional, and not arguing facts.

    It’s a fact that you’re arguing from ignorance. It is also a fact that you’re, for some reason, being completely unreasonable.

    Do you realize you’re making the exact same arguments that theists and new agers make to support their claim that belief in the supernatural is a reasonable belief?

    When there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that intelligent aliens even exist, let alone are capable of FTL travel across incredible distances, while case after case after case is shown to be a pile of crap, it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that until some fucking phenomenal evidence happens to drop into our laps, chasing after UFO sightings long after they’ve already happened, when people have had plenty of time to misremember or mix up their stories, is probably not the best way to spend precious resources.

    You know, along with telepathy and magic fucking fairies.

  107. says

    @michaelbusch

    As I already explained, a coverup like that is impossible. If you want an example of how that doesn’t work, go look up how the North Korean government claimed to have launched a satellite into orbit and how South Korean, US, Russian, Japanese, and private observers then promptly showed the pictures of the rocket crashing and sinking in the Pacific.

    And?

    Do I believe the government would try to cover it up?

    I think that’s a given.

    Please note the word after ‘would’. TRY. Do I believe the government would TRY to cover it up?

    Yes. They would. At least aspects of it.

    Since you apparently stopped reading at that point, I’ll point out I went on to say this –

    Do I believe the government could successfully cover it up?

    Much more complicated question.

    Indeed, a much more complicated question. I’ll detail my answer a bit more. Would the government be able to successfully cover it up? In entirety, most certainly not. Would the government be able to cover it certain aspects of it and put out enough misinformation to confuse the general public? Probably, though that would be highly dependent on the nature of the ‘contact’ and where it landed. If it landed in say, the middle of the a desert where government spooks could be the first on the scene? We’d know an alien probe/ship landed, but it would be hard to get data on the contents, especially as only one government would have control of the info.

    If it landed in say, the arctic, with various groups having the chance to race for it?

    Or in a more populated area where the first folks on the scene were civilians with cameras and internet?

    Too many factors, but yes, on some level, government cover-ups would occur. Their success rate is indeed questionable.

    But… well… Look how successful the misinformation campaign that got us into the Iraq war was. The cover-up will eventually break down, but by that time, so much misinformation will be out there good luck on finding out the whole truth.

  108. says

    RW Ahrens:

    My analogy is correct and appropriate. My point in that claim was that the folks arguing that it was impossible were doing so from a position of insufficient scientific knowledge, which is exactly what folks today asserting that any form of interstellar flight is impossible or improbable are doing today.

    Except they knew flight was possible. Edison claimed it wasn’t possible to engineer anything to fly. But he knew flight was possible. He saw birds fly all the fucking time.

    So it wasn’t argued out of physics. It was argued out of engineering.

    And that’s a huge difference.

    The argument against FTL travel is simply this: our best understanding of fundamental physics disallows FTL travel. At least, it disallows traveling at the speed of light. If we can somehow jump from subluminal to supraluminal speeds, we’d probably be fine.

    But this isn’t an engineering issue. It’s not like we know of anything that travels faster than light. It’s a problem with fundamental physics.

    Now. There are some potential strategies for getting around this. But at the moment, those are all just pipe dreams. They rely on unproven propositions in physics. (Whereas both the speed of light and relativity are fairly well established.)

    So. Do you see how your analogy fails? How you are comparing two different things? You’re not arguing, “Oh, you said nobody said flight was impossible, but Edison said just that,” you’re saying, “Edison said flight was impossible, and you say FTL travel isn’t possible, so you’re just as wrong as Edison.” You’re conflating the two issues.

  109. says

    Glen, it was asserted that my claim that people were saying that flight was impossible was not true. My quotes were meant to counter that assertion, nothing more.

    Yes, but you brought up the inapt analogy in the first place. Conveniently forgot that, didn’t you?

    People WERE claiming that flight was impossible, and they were laughing at people like the Wrights.

    Yeah, who cares? The New York Times (as I recall it to be) suggested after Langley’s disastrous attempt at heavier than air flight that it probably wouldn’t be accomplished for another century. Doesn’t matter, intelligent people didn’t deny the possibility, because birds clearly do fly. They simply used “God” as an excuse for why it wouldn’t happen, like Edison, or they doubted our capacity for flight engineering at that time.

    My point in that claim was that the folks arguing that it was impossible were doing so from a position of insufficient scientific knowledge, which is exactly what folks today asserting that any form of interstellar flight is impossible or improbable are doing today.

    The huge difference, which a clear thinker would notice, is that there were clearly ways in which heavier than air flight could occur–birds, bats–that any intellectually honest and informed person acknowledged. Produce similar evidence, instead of stupid analogies, and many people here will acknowledge it.

    They could be right, they could be wrong, but you cannot make a definitive assertion either way until the data is known.

    The trouble for you is that you’re not presenting any evidence that shows that any great expense should be invested into research of UFO phenomena–or even what could be studied. I don’t recall that anyone is making definitive assertions, rather asking for evidence that you can’t provide.

    Glen Davidson

  110. says

    So cite some. Not the things cited so far, those are old hat that did NOT examine what I have asserted, but simply stated that unexplained phenomena exist. Cite studies that examine those phenomena.

    The Condon report.

    Anyone who has studied UFOs at all should know about that one.

  111. The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says

    Someone may already have said this — I’m in a little bit of a hurry, so I only skimmed the first part of the existing comments — but:

    If I could wave a wand and turn all the religious nutters in the world into UFO nutters, I would. It wouldn’t cause me any hesitation.

    UFO nutters, for all the weirdness involved, do not unless also religious nutters as well:

    - Think the end of the world will be a positive experience, and sometimes active attempt to bring it about

    - Use the beliefs of people who existed before modern science to justify customs which are now known to be unsanitary, dangerous, or otherwise counterproductive

    - Go out door-to-door looking for people to try to convert into UFO believers

    It’s like the difference between people who are homicidal maniacs and people who happen to believe that they are teaspoons. You can work around the people who think they are teaspoons, no problem. They may even be helpful, productive members of society, making allowances for teaspoon-like behavior. But nobody is going to look to the homicidal maniacs for help; they can’t even be trusted to help each other.

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If this is all you have to offer, your comment is worthless and a mere ad hominem. If I had the money or the scientific expertise I would. But I don’t, so I am left to argue my points with people like you with no worthwhile additions to make to the discussion.You are the one without worthwhile additions to the discussion. All you have is vague hopes science will find something.

    As a scientist, I see nothing concrete to investigate, no hard physical evidence to apply scientific methodology to, no money to fund such endeavors, no hope for having anybody work in the area without at least a solid artifact. Yet I’m not adding to the discussion? I’m trying to get you to think clearly.
    What do you want to do? Spell out in detail, not just say “study scientifically”.
    How do you want to do it? Spell out in detail, not just say “study scientifically”.
    Using what appropriate equipment? Spell out in detail, not just say “study scientifically”.
    How are the end results defined?
    What lack of results pulls the plug?
    Go away and come back with a research plan, a funding plan, and a manpower plan.

  113. says

    @WithinThisMind:

    Fair enough, and I’m sorry if I misunderstood you.

    I simply want to make it abundantly clear that it would be impossible for anyone to conceal that a spacecraft carrying human-sized aliens had landed on Earth. Some details could be hidden, but the basic and most important fact would be impossible to hide.

    @RW Ahrens:

    I am a professional astronomer and get particularly annoyed at the woo that is UFO sightings. So at the risk of my falling into the argument-from-authority fallacy, let me say this again:

    There is zero evidence to say that anything new or physically interesting is going on with UFO sightings. Every case that has enough data associated with it to say what actually happened has come out with some boring cause (as I explained already). Personal stories are insufficiently reliable, and there is no physical evidence. “Pics or it didn’t happen” is a minimal standard of proof – otherwise, you just have somebody saying “I saw X” and no evidence that X actually was there to be seen. If there were physical evidence, then the people making the claim could have taken pictures of it.

    When ten thousand claims in a row have proven to be false, and the ten-thousand-and-first claim is no different from the others, it may be confidently discarded. This is a case of extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.

    The only interesting science from UFOs is psychology and sociology. You can study the demographics of UFO sightings and compare them to the demographics of people claiming to have been abducted by aliens and claiming to have seen angels/demons/gods. Or you can predict when people will see UFOs. For example, when there is a morning rocket launch from Canaveral, there will be a rash of UFO sightings in Australia 45 minutes later – because the Aussies can see the upper-stage perigee-raise burn of the rocket in the evening sky, and not all of them know what it is.

  114. chigau (this space for rent) says

    I’m with RevBDC.
    What about them crop circles?
    Aren’t some of them Unexplained?

  115. says

    RW Ahrens:

    The difference between our positions is this: someone reports a UFO sighting, and you respond, “There is a UFO!” I, on the other hand, respond, “There’s somebody who had a UFO sighting!”

    From a scientific standpoint, mine is the correct position. Without further physical evidence, the only conclusion that may possibly be drawn is that somebody claims they saw a UFO. There are some bits of physical evidence that might correlate the sighting with a mundane, known explanation (weather balloon, flight path of a military jet, and so on). Other evidence might indicate the sighting was fabricated. Other reports will be so vague as to not be coherent, or tractable to application of evidence, and so on. And a substantial percent (say, maybe 30%) will not have any evidence to correlate the sighting with a known mundane explanation.

    That doesn’t mean there was a non-mundane explanation for those sightings. It’s just that we don’t have any evidence or records of a mundane explanation. (Small plane flight paths aren’t easily correlated with sightings, for instance, or the witness reports seeing the UFO to the east, but they were disoriented, and it was really just Venus to the west.)

    So, scientifically, if all we have are eyewitness accounts, there’s little to be gleaned by further study. We have data points, but no metric by which to rule them. And those data points are notoriously unreliable.

    Lacking something to investigate, there’s really no reason to commit scientific time and money to researching “what UFOs are.” There’s no reason to assume there’s even a single non-mundane explanation for those sightings.

  116. Esteleth, Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo says

    Before the Wright Bros. came along, it isn’t that people were arguing against flight, because nothing could fly (duh: birds, bugs, bats).
    It isn’t even that they were arguing that the current level of human technology could not engineer a flying apparatus.

    They were arguing that the current level of human technology could not engineer a HEAVIER THAN AIR flying apparatus.

    The proper analogy is a modern-day computer person saying that we cannot make a 100 terabit hard drive that can fit in a trouser pocket. There is a crucial implied yet in there.

  117. Esteleth, Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo says

    By contrast, based on our current understanding of the laws of physics (which are – again, so far as we know – true everywhere), FTL is impossible.

    Is it possible that there is life (of any sort) elsewhere in the universe than Earth? Yep. I’d say it is rather likely, in fact.
    Is it possible that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe than Earth? Yep. Semi-likely even.
    Is it possible that there is intelligent and technologically advanced life elsewhere in the universe than Earth? Yep again. Somewhat unlikely, though.
    Is it possible that intelligent and technologically advanced non-Earth beings have built non-FTL or near-FTL spacecraft to explore their environs? Yes. Somewhat less likely.
    Is it possible that intelligent and technologically advanced non-Earth beings have built non-FTL or near-FTL spacecraft that have come to Earth for the purpose of sodomizing people and smashing crops? Yes. Highly unlikely, though. Why would they do such a thing? Travel thousands of light-years, probably in a generation ship, for the sake of frightening a few people? Unless the universe runs on 4chan logic, I fail to see the point in such an expedition.
    Is it possible that some being, somewhere, has built a FTL engine and strapped it to a spacecraft? So highly improbable as to not be worth discussing.

  118. DLC says

    Are there UFOs ? certainly, for certain values of $UFO.
    Anything seen in the sky which cannot be readily identified is by default an Unidentified Flying Object.
    Pedantry aside, let’s ask the other question:
    Has the planet Earth been visited by extraterrestrial entities, and if so have these entities made contact with life forms on this planet ?
    The answer right now is :”There is no credible evidence that either visitation or contact have occurred. ”
    Speaking of which, why wouldn’t the UFOs, having surveyed the planet for some time, have simply hovered over the white house and dictated terms ? Or landed in Lafayette Square ? or in the middle of Piccadilly Circus ? Or why wouldn’t they contact some credible scientific source and quietly arrange a meeting ?

    But no, instead, they all find some nobody in some out-of-the-way place to show themselves to. Uh huh. Right.

  119. says

    Esteleth:

    I did say, “unless,” Nerd…

    Yes, but you still presented it as a possibility.

    Don’t scare me like that. I’m getting old enough I gotta worry about the ol’ ticker.

  120. Esteleth, Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo says

    Nerd, I’d say that “the Universe runs on 4chan logic” and “Aliens come to Earth from thousands of light-years away in sub-FTL craft for the sake of pronging horned ruminants” are approximately equal in probability.

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gah, I think Esteleth is confusing my poor prose with that of NigelTheBold.

  122. Esteleth, Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo says

    Gah!

    I totally did.

    *mentally separates Nigel and Nerd, puts them in different boxes*

    Sorry about that.

  123. says

    Mak;

    When there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that intelligent aliens even exist, let alone are capable of FTL travel across incredible distances, while case after case after case is shown to be a pile of crap,

    When you fail to read MY posts, when I have repeatedly NOT argued this point, fuck you.

    Your repeated assertions that studies have been done and yet you cite none, fuck you.

    I’m just not going to keep arguing that.

    the Condon Report

    From wikipedia:

    “A 1971 review of the results by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics concluded that 30% of the 117 cases remained unexplained.”

    That doesn’t answer my point at all.

    The difference between our positions is this: someone reports a UFO sighting, and you respond, “There is a UFO!” I, on the other hand, respond, “There’s somebody who had a UFO sighting!”

    Stop drawing Straw men. That is NOT what I said.

    And neither you nor any of the others have cited a single study or investigation, peer reviewed, that indicates that the unexplained phenomena have been studied.

    Your attitudes prove conclusively that the reason why they haven’t is that any scientist who did would be permanently and finally ruined, professionally.

    You are taking personal conclusions, not at all based on scientifically gathered information, and have decided that the entire subject is unworthy of explanation. Some of you even admit to being scientists, yet your conclusions are not based on science.

    You have repeatedly misrepresented what I have said, drawn straw men in making arguments against things I have not asserted, and argued against those mistaken assertions. Easy to argue against something you yourself have set up to knock down!

    I’ll check back later to see if anybody has cited a study to prove your assertion that studies ON UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA have been done, hence proving me wrong. Truly, I would be glad to see that, as I’ve never seen such a thing and plenty of folks I’ve read have also bemoaned that lack, and the subject has had me curious for some time.

    Perhaps if some of you scientists who have access to peer reviewed journals could look there, it’s more likely to be there than on wikipedia.

    Till later!

  124. Esteleth, Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo says

    *fetches pseudoscience bingo card, reads Ahrens @ 139*

    vast global conspiracy…you just cannot know…truthspeakers punished…goalpost shifting…whining…

    BINGO

  125. Ichthyic says

    And neither you nor any of the others have cited a single study or investigation, peer reviewed, that indicates that the unexplained phenomena God ha[s] been studied.

    yup, burden of proof still on those claiming alien ufos exist.

  126. Ogvorbis: broken and cynical says

    But no, instead, they all find some nobody in some out-of-the-way place to show themselves to. Uh huh. Right.

    Oddly similar to the level to which Christian miracles have descended. They are either so minor as to be nonsense, or the miracle happened in a place so far from the mainstream of the world that, by the time the miracle reaches technology (or technology reaches the miracle), whatever non-existent evidence there was is gone.

  127. Ichthyic says

    …OTOH, I’m now looking forward (in about 2hrs download time), to directly experimenting on what kind of weapons will take aliens out most quickly in a turn-based scenario.

    does that count as study of unexplained phenomena?

  128. Ichthyic says

    Oddly similar to the level to which Christian miracles have descended.

    striking, perhaps, but not odd really.

  129. says

    Tails of UFOs fail the “why the fuck would they do that test?”

    Its a test of which is more likely; the event as described having multiple contradicting or baffling assumptions (aliens develop FTL to tag crops) or that the event as described is erroneous or incomplete.

    See also God sacrifices himself to humself to break his own rules that he and he alone is author to.

  130. says

    Find me one peer-reviewed article that shows that the Designer (hallowed be his designation) doesn’t exist.

    Ha ha, can’t do it.

    Oh damn, you need a subject to study before you can do science. Well, not a problem for whiny idiots, so they still win.

    Glen Davidson

  131. Ichthyic says

    Tails of UFOs fail the “why the fuck would they do that test?”

    see word definition: Ineffable

    also see primary application of word: Abrahamic God

  132. Ichthyic says

    See also God sacrifices himself to humself to break his own rules that he and he alone is author to.

    I read too fast.

  133. says

    RW Ahrens:

    The difference between our positions is this: someone reports a UFO sighting, and you respond, “There is a UFO!” I, on the other hand, respond, “There’s somebody who had a UFO sighting!”

    Stop drawing Straw men. That is NOT what I said.

    Which you immediately follow up with:

    And neither you nor any of the others have cited a single study or investigation, peer reviewed, that indicates that the unexplained phenomena have been studied.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Please note that my representation is not a strawman. You yourself in the very next sentence claim there is an “unexplained phenomena” that needs further research. You are saying there is something there other than the mere perception of a UFO. You are claiming the object of that perception is a real “unexplained phenomena.”

    So I stand by my assessment. It seems an accurate portrayal of what you yourself present in the very next sentence.

    I’ll check back later to see if anybody has cited a study to prove your assertion that studies ON UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA have been done, hence proving me wrong.

    The Condon Committee was convened specifically for the purpose of determining whether UFO sightings were worth further scientific study. Their conclusions have withstood the ensuing decades. They did study UFO sightings, evaluated the rewards for further study, and concluded there was no unexplained phenomena to be studied. There were unexplained cases, but nothing to show those cases represented anything other than a continuation of the pattern of the explained cases.

    Here’s what I find funny: not all murder cases are solved. Do you attribute all those murder cases to a chupacabra, or Jack the Ripper? No. You assume those cases are similar to other murder cases. The existence of unsolved murders does not represent some unexplained phenomena. And I don’t see you rushing out to find a single cause of all those UNEXPLAINED murders.

    The Condon Report came to the same conclusion for the cases they were unable to explain. The patterns were clear — these were, at best, cases of misattribution (michaelbusch’s example of the shuttle launches and Australia UFOs is an example of genuine misattribution, though certainly those cases were explained). At worst, they were confabulation, like some of the other explained cases turned out to be. Just because they couldn’t identify the murderers doesn’t mean they assumed something odd was going on.

    My assertion is that individual UFO reports are studied. Those that are studied are divided up into little bundles: those that are explained, those that are hoaxes, those that have no current explanation, those that have too little data to even study, etc.

    You’re asserting that those that are unexplained represent an unexplained phenomena. You are making a positive claim — a claim for which the only evidence is eyewitness reports, easily debunked videos, and a single pair of photographs from the 1950s taken outside McMinnville, OR. Since your claim is extraordinary (the existence of an unexplained phenomena), the evidence supporting that claim must be extraordinary.

    I (and others here) are making a different claim: the cases are unexplained. That is, the reports have not been correlated with a mundane event. See the difference? It’s a huge one. But what it comes down to is this: there’s no reason to assume we’ll be able to explain every case, or even the vast majority of cases. We can explain the majority of cases. Since the minority of the cases either follow the pattern of the majority, or are based on questionable testimony (such as an investigation into reported missile silo UFOs taking place decades later, with much of the testimony given by second-hand accounts).

    And until there’s some reason to assume those unexplained cases represent an actual unexplained phenomena, there’s no reason to get all het up about them.

    And in any case, you have not presented any possible scientific approach to study this.

  134. daniellavine says

    @RW Ahrens:

    Please stop whining about how mean and unfair everyone is being about your brilliant insights.

    What do you think a methodologically appropriate study of UFO phenomena would look like? Be as specific as you can. What are current studies missing that you think must be included? What are the methodological shortcomings of previous studies? If you can’t answer these questions then you really have no business saying this is an open scientific question.

    It would also be nice if you could explain why it is that, given the fact that so far every UFO sighting that has been explained has had a mundane explanation, we cannot conclude that unexplained sightings also have mundane explanations? Doesn’t science involve drawing conclusions based on evidence? Why is UFOlogy the only “scientific” field in which this sort of reasoning is invalid?

    Finally, look up this woman’s research. The only “evidence” you’ve offered at all are personal accounts by individuals — notoriously useless as evidence for anything. By Loftus’ research, even a great deal of courtroom testimony about mundane events such as car crashes is almost certainly false. Should we put more stock in human memory under stressful or bizarre circumstances, circumstances in which it’s demonstrated that human memory is even more faulty?

  135. says

    RW Ahrens:

    I’ll check back later to see if anybody has cited a study to prove your assertion that studies ON UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA have been done, hence proving me wrong.

    You’ve been proven wrong on so many things, I don’t think we need yet another piece of evidence.

  136. David Marjanović says

    RW Ahrens, what’s your problem with grasping that the scientific method consists of falsification and parsimony?

    I looked up and saw what my brain identified as the lights on the nose, tail, and wings on a passenger aircraft flying close to the ground, not very fast, coming from the ocean. There was no sound we could hear. I had enough time to start to say something about it when suddenly all the lights flew off in different directions. The front one continued but sped up enormously, the left and right went roughly left and right at high speed, and the rear one seemed to go back the way it came, also at high speed. Within a second or so they were gone.

    Meteor?

    Any physicist will tell you that we are a long way away from understanding how our universe works at a very basic level. There has been a lot of speculation that a new understanding of physics carries several possibilities for interstellar travel

    Do tell. In detail, please.

    Well, the government is a reified entity which must protect itself.

    Treat this as a New Molly nomination.

    Are you aware that Minutemen silos experienced power outages and complete loss of control upon the sightings of UFOs directly over the installations? These are well known, well cited and attested cases by credible Air Force personnel. There are also cases of similar incidents in the USSR as well.

    Could well be a physical phenomena we don’t know about, and I’d imagine the Air Force wouldn’t want people to know how to knock out our missiles, but UFOs ARE involved. What they are and why they had a physical affect on our electronic systems, I don’t know enough to be able to speculate, but wouldn’t it be nice to know?

    Wouldn’t it be nice to know if there’s actually a statistically significant correlation here?

    But… well… Look how successful the misinformation campaign that got us into the Iraq war was.

    And look what an utter failure it was outside the US.

  137. Atticus Dogsbody says

    Feb, 1996.

    Atticus in the Desert: You’re never gonna guess what I saw last night. A UFO! Wo0T!

    Policeman in the Desert: Were you on acid?

    Atticus in the Desert hangs head and stops bothering the policeman.

  138. says

    @Ahres @40 as quoted by David @154:

    FTL is right out, thanks to the information-theory consequences of quantum mechanics. FTL -> backwards time travel in some reference frame -> entropy not increasing with time -> contradiction with quantum mechanics -> impossible.

    But interstellar travel is perfectly possible – there are five spacecraft on interstellar trajectories right now. It’s just incredibly expensive to accelerate any significant mass to a speed such that the travel time from one star to its nearest neighbors will be less than thousands of years.

    We could build an interstellar generation ship that would carry a human colony from here to Alpha Centauri in a few hundred years. It would take the equivalent of several decades of current gross global product and thousands of times more nukes than have every been built (in terms of total yield, not the number of devices); kill a few hundred people from fallout on launch; and be visible from a very long ways alway.

  139. Lofty says

    RW Ahrens paraphrase: “Please give me lots of munny so I can study Yoofoes in my spare time”. Nah, ‘taint gonna happen when there’s a million things more worthy of scarce study money.

  140. daniellavine says

    We could build an interstellar generation ship that would carry a human colony from here to Alpha Centauri in a few hundred years.

    Well, there’s a significant engineering challenge: we don’t know how to pack an ecosystem into a bottle. If biosphere 2 couldn’t support a dozen human beings for more than a few months I’m not really sure it’s feasible to expect us to be able to support thousands of human beings for hundreds or thousands of years of space travel.

    It might be gratifying to PZ that biology and ecology are really the subjects we need to study more in order to explore space effectively.

  141. says

    Wow, such anger.

    Funny that most of you have to keep dragging in aliens to smack me down.

    NigeltheBold,

    As for the Condon Report, if one looks at the assessments of that report, the conclusions were NOT universally positive.

    One described the Report as “a rather unorganized compilation of independent articles on disparate subjects, a minority of which dealt with UFOs.”[43] Hynek described the Report as “a voluminous, rambling, poorly organized” and wrote that “less than half…was addressed to the investigation of UFO reports.”[4] In the April 14, 1969 issue of Scientific Research, Robert L. M. Baker, Jr. wrote that the Condon Committee’s Report “seems to justify scientific investigation along many general and specialized frontiers.”[44] In the December 1969 issue of Physics Today, Committee consultant Gerald Rothberg wrote that he had thoroughly investigated about 100 UFO cases, three of four of which left him puzzled. He thought that this “residue of unexplained reports [indicated a] legitimate scientific controversy.” [2] Critics charged that Condon’s case summaries were inaccurate or misleading with enigmatic reports “buried” among the confirmed cases.[45]
    In December 1969, physicist James E. McDonald called the Report “inadequate” and said “it represents an examination of only a tiny fraction of the most puzzling UFO reports of the past two decades, and that its level of scientific argumentation is wholly unsatisfactory.”[46] In a 1969 issue of the American Journal of Physics, Thornton Page reviewed the Condon Report and wrote: “Intelligent laymen can (and do) point out the logical flaw in Condon’s conclusion based on a statistically small (and selected) sample, Even in this sample a consistent pattern can be recognized; it is ignored by the ‘authorities,’ who then compound their ‘felony’ by recommending that no further observational data be collected.”[47]
    In November 1970, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics generally agreed with Condon’s suggestion that little of value had been uncovered by scientific UFO studies, but “did not find a basis in the report for [Condon's] prediction that nothing of scientific value will come of further studies.”[48]

    Of course, little was uncovered of scientific interest – the Air Force throughout Blue Book had little interest in collecting scientific data as its main interest was in deflecting all such reports anyway, and the Condon Report was designed to back up the conclusions of the Air Force.

    Besides, I’ve asked of you guys could provide a peer reviewed scientific study, instead you point me to a controversial report that proves no such thing, and continue to denigrate me based on personal attacks, conclusions based on nothing but your own opinions and a crowd based let’s-pile-on-this-guy-with-the-unpopular-opinion.

    Please note that my representation is not a strawman. You yourself in the very next sentence claim there is an “unexplained phenomena” that needs further research. You are saying there is something there other than the mere perception of a UFO. You are claiming the object of that perception is a real “unexplained phenomena.”

    Of course it is. I didn’t claim that any particular sighting was true, simply that there are sightings which are unexplained and should be further studied. You are the one making more out of my comments than is there.

    If you’ve done the kind of reading and such you claim of this field, you know that there are investigators who have visited sighting locations and have taken soil samples, vegetation samples and such items of evidence. there are cases which do include radar sightings which are concurrent with witness sightings. Obviously, since most of these guys are doing this on their own, they use differing methodologies, techniques and tools, which degrade the usefulness of their samples in relation to others’ methods, making studies of a lot of evidence hard to do, as you have noted.

    But, as I’ve noted, if there was an attempt to actually design a study (which I do not claim to be competent to do) which was able to establish a standard procedure for such activities, as well as witness interviewing and finding additional witness or radar evidence or other data, there might be a way to examine that data to determine what kind of phenomena are responsible.

    That’s all I’m saying. I am not claiming that aliens are coming, I am not claiming that these are any kind of intelligently built or driven craft of any kind. They may indeed only represent a new, undiscovered phenomena that results in humans mistakenly thinking they are seeing real craft of some kind, and yes, that could be psychological, either individually based or crowd based somehow.

    But how do we know if we don’t look?

    Again, you haven’t proven that such studies exist. The Condon Report wasn’t a peer reviewed, scientific study, it was contracted by the Air Force! I’m familiar enough with government contracts to know how that can work. And even its report, according to a third party, included cases they admitted could not be explained.

    Until you provide what you claim is there, i.e., a scientifically peer reviewed study that proves what these unexplained phenomena are, you’ve proven nothing at all, but are continuing to blow hot air.

  142. Brownian says

    Feb, 1996.

    Atticus in the Desert: You’re never gonna guess what I saw last night. A UFO! Wo0T!

    Policeman in the Desert: Were you on acid?

    Atticus in the Desert hangs head and stops bothering the policeman.

    How odd. It was only about two years or so before that that I realised that the police were demons without souls.

    Thank ‘shrooms for that one.

  143. chigau (this space for rent) says

    RW Ahrens
    You are absolutely correct.
    We™ have failed to meet your demands.
    You Win™.
    Will you go away now?

  144. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Wow, such anger.

    Wow, such stupidity, projection, and inanity. Still no evidence….Typical of liars, bullshitters, and True Believers™. Nothing but desire.

    But how do we know if we don’t look?

    Like with imaginary deities, we’ve looked. NOTHING THERE….

  145. CJO says

    Until you provide what you claim is there, i.e., a scientifically peer reviewed study that proves what these unexplained phenomena are, you’ve proven nothing at all, but are continuing to blow hot air.

    You need to make the distinction between unexplained individual cases of people claiming to see strange shit and “unexplained phenomena” as Nigel urged you to do. Equivocating between them, you appear to have convinced yourself that the one equals the other. People claiming to see strange shit is the only phenomenon in evidence, and it simply isn’t in need of an overarching explanation.

  146. says

    Wow, such anger.

    Wow, such a bullshitter.

    Funny that most of you have to keep dragging in aliens to smack me down.

    Yeah, isn’t that weird? You wrote:

    What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.

    My God, why would anyone suppose that “visitors” would be aliens? Angels maybe, gods, leprechauns, orcs, it could be anything. But you go pretending that it’s about aliens.

    Of course it is. I didn’t claim that any particular sighting was true, simply that there are sightings which are unexplained and should be further studied.

    Moron just can’t quite tell us how we’re supposed to study such events. Bullshitting all the way.

    Again, you haven’t proven that such studies exist.

    Stupid shit, there aren’t any studies showing that Gandalf doesn’t exist either. What would you study? Oh right, you just maunder on about how things need study, can’t show that there’s anything to study.

    Until you provide what you claim is there, i.e., a scientifically peer reviewed study that proves what these unexplained phenomena are, you’ve proven nothing at all, but are continuing to blow hot air.

    Oh no, you never shifted the “burden of proof,” it’s all you’ve ever had, never even dreamed that you are the one who must provide evidence of something to study. How can one shift a burden that has never been in the proper place in your pathetic little “mind?”

    Glen Davidson

  147. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh no, you never shifted the “burden of proof,” it’s all you’ve ever had, never even dreamed that you are the one who must provide evidence of something to study. How can one shift a burden that has never been in the proper place in your pathetic little “mind?”

    QFMFT.

    Show us you are right, or shut the fuck up. Welcome to SCIENCE, where claimants must provide the positive evidence.

    I still see nothing…I expect to see nothing…Because you have nothing but your delusions…

  148. daniellavine says

    @RW Ahrens:

    Still waiting for you to articulate the sort of methodology that would have to be employed to satisfy you. You began in this thread by saying no investigation has ever been made into this. Several responses involved citing investigations into this. You responded to those by insisting those just aren’t good enough. You need to tell us what would qualify as “good enough”.

    You also haven’t provided any credible evidence for why we should take seriously the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations. This is curious since you go on and on about science and evidence. You seem to think the onus is on others to prove that extraterrestrials have never visited earth. This is backwards. You should provide some credible positive evidence. No, second-hand accounts from military personnel decades after the fact do not count, especially given the tendency for human beings to invent or distort memories.

    I think most of what you’re seeing isn’t anger but rather frustration. As Nigel points out, you seem to be equivocating between accounts of a phenomenon and the phenomenon itself. In essence, you’re assuming that accounts of UFO sightings are accurate and correct despite a lack of evidence for this (and a fair amount of evidence to the contrary).

    In case you can’t tell, there isn’t really any anger in this comment. It’s frustrating to watch you dance and weave instead of engaging with the arguments people are making, but ultimately doing so only discredits your position. Again, if you’re serious about wanting to convince anyone you need to spell out what sort of methodology you think is required before it’s OK with you to say that extraterrestrials have almost certainly never visited earth without being accused of grave sins against SCIENCE!!!1! It would also help your case if you stopped shifting the goalposts, making spurious arguments (arguments about heavier-than-air flight are barely even tangential to this discussion) and offered some, you know, evidence to support your position.

  149. says

    Part of the problem with the UFOs as alien spacecraft idea is that the craft and their occupants have changed as human ideas of aliens and flight technology have changed. For example the late 1890s saw a rash of supposed airship sightings across the US, and in the few cases where aliens were seen they looked like humans and came from Mars. When the modern UFO era began after WW2 there were still reports of aliens that were of human appearance. Some supposedly had contact with humans and claimed to be from Mars and Venus, even though it was known by then that neither planet was likely able to support life, while others claimed to be from elsewhere. By the mid ’70s these guys had pretty much disappeared and been replaced by non-human aliens, with the familiar big head, small body, giant eyes “greys” increasingly coming to dominate reports.

    If aliens don’t want contact with humans it seems unlikely they’d use crewed vehicles, or unmanned vehicles that would be easily noticeable. Rather they would use the equivalent of our own UAVs, and given the technolgies a civilisation capable of interstellar travel would likely have they would be able to make tiny vehicles that would be pretty much impossible to detect by us.

  150. says

    Still waiting for you to articulate the sort of methodology that would have to be employed to satisfy you. You began in this thread by saying no investigation has ever been made into this. Several responses involved citing investigations into this. You responded to those by insisting those just aren’t good enough. You need to tell us what would qualify as “good enough”.

    You also haven’t provided any credible evidence for why we should take seriously the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations.

    I have said several times, clearly and unambiguously, that a peer reviewed, scientifically valid study would provide the kind of information that could be picked apart and give both sides something to look at in order to decide of it was worth further study. the Condon Report was contracted for by the Air Force, and was not peer reviewed nor published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, which would allow for this kind of examination. I hope that is clear?

    I haven’t provided such information because I NEVER ARGUED FOR THAT! Try reading for comprehension. mY point is that we don’t fully know nor understand what a certain percentage of cases that have been examined really are. They may be some hitherto unexplained natural phenomena, some psychological thing or maybe some home inventor has discovered holography and is playing games for fun. What is wrong with finding out?

  151. says

    Part of the problem with the UFOs as alien spacecraft idea is that the craft and their occupants have changed as human ideas of aliens and flight technology have changed.

    For the thousandth time, I am NOT arguing in favor of any kind of alien visitations! Please go back and read MY posts instead of the straw men, huh?

  152. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    have said several times, clearly and unambiguously, that a peer reviewed, scientifically valid study would provide the kind of information that could be picked apart and give both sides something to look at in order to decide of it was worth further study.

    Except all the evidence is NEGATIVE, which doesn’t ever get published. What part of science are you having trouble understanding? The part where you are wrong, or the part you don’t understand how science works?

  153. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    ry reading for comprehension. mY point is that we don’t fully know nor understand what a certain percentage of cases that have been examined really are.

    Irrelevant. Unless you have the equivalent of the eternally burning bush for an imaginary deity, YOU HAVE NOTHING BUT YOUR WISHES.

  154. says

    You’re not arguing for alien visitors when you criticize people for dismissing visitors as implausible?

    One of us is very confused and a poor communicator or woofully dishonest.

    Btw pointing out that visitor accounts closly follow pop culture is a fairly good evidence against an actual phenomina and pushes it towards psycological phenomina

    If you’re looking for study of the later studies have been done and are fascinating.

  155. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    RW, either cite your peer reviewed literature to prove you aliens have landed, or shut the fuck up. Welcome to SCIENCE, where you must show your claim is right. Those who are only convinced by negative results are liars, bullshitters, and abject losers who don’t understand how SCIENCE works. Don’t be one of them…

  156. says

    RW Ahrens:

    That’s all I’m saying. I am not claiming that aliens are coming, I am not claiming that these are any kind of intelligently built or driven craft of any kind. They may indeed only represent a new, undiscovered phenomena that results in humans mistakenly thinking they are seeing real craft of some kind, and yes, that could be psychological, either individually based or crowd based somehow.

    But that’s the point: we already have a known phenomena that explains it. In the bit you claim to be a strawman, I never once mentioned aliens. I mentioned UFOs. You keep asserting that UFO sightings represent some kind of unknown phenomenon. In fact, there is plenty of psychology to support the conclusion that there is nothing new or truly unknown going on here.

    It doesn’t take a new, unknown phenomenon to explain it.

    So no, my portrayal is not a strawman. It is accurate, and every clarification you make reinforces its accuracy.

    Further, most of the evidence gathered mysteriously disappears when studied by a skeptic. There have even been honest UFO hunters trained in gathering evidence that strangely never find the kinds of evidence presented as physical evidence (strange radiation readings around crop circles, for instance).

    And finally, your response to the Condon Report was pretty much right on what I expected. That’s the typical response given by folks who fervently wish to believe in UFOs.

  157. chigau (this space for rent) says

    RW Ahrens
    A couple of people have asked you to describe what this “peer reviewed, scientifically valid study” would be like.
    Could you do that?

  158. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    RW, here is what I require for those who presuppose an imaginary deity:

    You have presented no physical evidence that would pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine, and not natural, origin.

    I expect no less from you for your claim UFOs aren’t scientifically explained. Welcome to science.

  159. John Morales says

    RW Ahrens:

    Funny that most of you have to keep dragging in aliens to smack me down.

    Your very first comment began thus: “What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.”

    If there is a possibility of a visitation, something must be doing the visiting, no?

    Aliens Visitors that wish to remain hidden, eh?

    (They succeed despite their failure, except to such as you!)

  160. says

    @RW Ahrens

    I have, in my hand right this moment, undeniable proof that alien life exists and has contacted Earth.

    I am willing to ship it to you.

    All you have to do is send me a money order for $100,000. As soon as it clears the bank, I will send you this evidence.

    It is worth it to you to put in this effort and funds, because until you see exactly what it is I have, you can’t know it isn’t undeniable proof of alien life visiting Earth. Thus, it is your responsibility to put in the time and funds to verify this, or I’m afraid we are going to have to revoke your skeptic card and your right to science.

  161. otrame says

    @154

    Meteor?

    I don’t think so.It was moving too slowly for that to start with and even when they “zoomed” they did not have the kind of tails I am used to seeing on meteors and they all went off in different directs. We did consider it.

    Since it happened, after a couple of weeks of “Maybe it was….. No, because…..”, I have been content with “¿Quien sabe?“. As someone upthread mentioned, there is no particular reason to think there was anything non-terrestrial going on.

    _____

    RW Ahrens, I am with the others. WHAT do you think needs study? Exactly–and I do mean exactly–how would you go about studying, for instance, what I saw all those years ago?

    For instance, how do you deal with a) I may be lying; b) my memory of the event may be faulty, in particular, in the process of telling the story over the years, have I added/subtracted something?; and c) there is no known physical evidence, no news reports of anyone else seeing it, etc. So what, exactly would you study?

  162. says

    Keep in mind that the survey did say “has or would be covered up.” One can suspect that the government would try to hide evidence of extraterrestrial visits without actually believing in flying saucers.

  163. says

    If you don’t believe that aliens have visited our planet, then how do you explain the Reptilian Jews?

    Do you think Reptilian Jews could have evolved without anybody noticing it?

    That’s ridiculous!

  164. says

    I expect no less from you for your claim UFOs aren’t scientifically explained. Welcome to science.

    Didn’t say ALL weren’t. Most surely are. But if you’d been paying attention, you’d have noticed the fact that the studies cited in the Wikpedia article referenced above ALL noted a significant percentage which were noted as “unexplained”. Thos would be the intersting ones, the ones that are “unexplained”. Anything else, of course, is.

    Science is noted for examining the unexplained, no? Trying to explain it? Welcome to science, indeed.

  165. says

    If there is a possibility of a visitation, something must be doing the visiting, no?

    Only if there is some evidence of something for them to get here in. Never said there was, only that we’ve never tried to nail down what the unknown phenomena may be.

    Again, none of you have provided the cites to the studies that have been repeatedly asserted to exist, proving that unexplained phenomena have been examined and their nature explained.

    Cite the studies.

    Or my claim of no examination of these phenomena stands.

    Remember, I am not claiming that no examination of UFOs exist. They undoubtedly do. But they have all been amateur or individual efforts, never peer reviewed and never really looked at by scientists, nor have the data collection efforts been professionally designed. Thus, no real conclusions can be made from them which can be validated. So, still, we don’t know what they are.

    Cite the studies, you guys claimed they exist, repeatedly. Put up or shut up.

  166. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Science is noted for examining the unexplained, no?

    Not the way you think. A good definition of what is being looked for is required. You don’t have that.

    Trying to explain it?

    See above, you don’t have that.

    Welcome to science, indeed.

    As a scientist, you don’t understand science and how it works. Where is your evidence? or shut the fuck up! That is science…You can’t put up, and you can’t shut the fuck up. That is where liars, bullshitters, and con-men operate. Think about that before you respond with evidence.

  167. chigau (this space for rent) says

    Nerd
    Ask RW about the nature of these studies.
    It’ll make our job easier if we know what xe considers valid.

  168. unclefrogy says

    that there have been aliens visiting earth is very doubtful. The idea is even more implausible given the real distances that would be involved with such a trip. It would have to be a faster than light craft or a generation ship. The all problems needed to solve involved with either of those trips might make the trip less urgent. Most of the fictional aliens come here for some need. From what we can see there is nothing here that would not be anywhere else except life maybe, but I doubt that.
    Why we see aliens? I think it must be for social, psychological reasons and related to the need for religion and god.
    It is like paranoia, maybe even an acceptable variety of paranoia, the payoff for the person holding these kinds of beliefs is they are important, the government is out to get me because I am important. God wants me to believe because I am very important to god who loves me and made everything. Aliens come here because we(I) are important in all of the vastness of space, when the truth is very different.

    uncle frogy

  169. broboxley OT says

    look everyone, you are confusing aliens from other planets with a technically advanced civilization from the center of the earth. No need for C+ speed. There are 6 entrances and the primary Consulate that interacts with the various governments is the city of Birobidzhan in Russia.

  170. Lachlan says

    52 percent of the population believe evidence of UFOs has or would be covered up

    Does this 52% represent a single question? Merging the “has” or “would be” questions is very stupid. They’re very different questions.

  171. Ichthyic says

    here’s an important question about dealing with the alien menace…

    should I choose squad-view or snap-shot for my sniper?

  172. grumpy1942 says

    unclefroggy
    The idea is even more implausible given the real distances that would be involved with such a trip. It would have to be a faster than light craft or a generation ship. The all problems needed to solve involved with either of those trips might make the trip less urgent.

    Exactly. The answer’s in the economics. To make it worth all that time and effort they would have to get more out of it than the chance to butfuck a bunch of hillbillies.

  173. says

    RW Ahrens:

    Science is noted for examining the unexplained, no? Trying to explain it? Welcome to science, indeed.

    Science is noted for following data.

    Again, let me go back to the unsolved murders. Just because they are left unexplained does not mean there is a chupacabra on the loose.

    All you’re demonstrating is that not every UFO report can be correlated with a known terrestrial event. That’s it. Without further data, science has nothing to study. And since we have a known phenomenon that is more than adequate at explaining those that have not been correlated with known terrestrial events, we don’t even have much of a reason to study them.

    But just to clarify your position, let me ask one simple question:

    Do you believe there is an actual unknown phenomenon at work here, one that is not based on psychology, but an actual physical entity or manifestation?

  174. says

    Science is noted for following data.

    And without a properly designed methodology for collecting that data, and a properly designed methodology for examining it, there’s nothing to follow.

    Which is my point. Everything anybody has said here tonight to “prove” me wrong has been based on personal opinions regarding stuff they’ve read, seen or talked about outside of such a properly designed study.

    Without that kind of effort, you’ve got no data! Your comments about how past cases are not good enough are correct. My point in bringing them up was to illustrate the kinds of cases that have been reported, which do NOT simply involve somebody seeing something flying around. Some involve alleged landings. Those can be investigated for proof of a landing. No proof, no evidence, no landing. Some involve radar evidence. But if you don’t go look and try to collect that evidence in a systematic, scientifically designed manner, the data isn’t there. Which as you point out, has been our experience.

    Which proves my point. That kind of scientific investigation with a peer reviewed report, published in a scientific journal hasn’t been done. If it had, we would have either good evidence of some physical thing being there, or good solid evidence that there is no such thing! So at this point, all we have is everybody’s speculation about what the “evidence” or lack thereof (as however you read the cases) means according to your own personal desires or experience may dictate.

    It also allows these nut cases to go public with books, articles, personal appearances and such that drives PZ crazy, because nobody has actually studied the phenomena to show clearly what science says about the issue. So they can get away with their crap, because science has remained silent!

    Which was why I made my statement in the beginning, all of these histrionics have been about people’s personal opinions, and not at all based on solid, scientific evidence. That doesn’t say the crazies are right. It means they haven’t been proven wrong through the collection of good solid evidence that shows what the phenomena really is. If you continue to sit there and insist that they come up with the beef, you’ll sit there forever, cause the crazies only want to make money off of it!

    Which is why I have insisted on somebody citing a real, peer reviewed study or investigation published in a real scientific journal. I am not, as I’ve said, a scientist. I am not claiming for myself the capability to design such a study. All I am saying is that in order to KNOW the true nature of an unknown phenomena, you have to study it, and you need to do it with a scientific methodology. If you haven’t done that, you don’t really know what you think you know.

    Once you’ve done that, you can pick it apart, criticize it, or tear it (and the author) a new asshole all you want, and what we know moves forward.

    As it is, we have these stupid discussions on the internet, calling each other names for no reason, and nobody is the wiser, and our society has nothing to show for it.

  175. chigau (this space for rent) says

    RW Ahrens does not seem to know what:
    scientific investigation
    peer reviewed report
    published
    scientific journal
    mean.
    Xe just strings them together and uses them in a sentence.

  176. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Which proves my point. That kind of scientific investigation with a peer reviewed report, published in a scientific journal hasn’t been done. If it had, we would have either good evidence of some physical thing being there, or good solid evidence that there is no such thing!

    Really huh?

    Those are the only possible outcomes?

  177. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Well one good thing came of this thread, I’m currently downloading XCOM.

    The demo was fun enough, figured why the hell not. I’ll be spending a lot of time in hotels over the next month or so.

  178. chigau (this space for rent) says

    Rev

    I’ll be spending a lot of time in hotels over the next month or so.

    You could get some copies of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and replace the Gideon Bibles.

  179. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    You could get some copies of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and replace the Gideon Bibles.

    Or I could spend that money on bourbon…

  180. says

    If it had, we would have either good evidence of some physical thing being there, or good solid evidence that there is no such thing!

    You really lack any conception of what evidence is, don’t you?

    How, ignoramus, could we have good solid evidence that there “is no such thing”? Your ineptitude and ignorance come through in every post.

    Really huh?

    Those are the only possible outcomes?

    Well, there’s the obligatory, evidence-free, lie that it was all a conspiracy against the Truth about aliens that would follow any conclusion that there’s no evidence that they’re visiting us.

    This is not about science or the evidence that this dolt fails to comprehend, it’s simply about whining pitifully that their gullible crap isn’t credited by science. All too akin to what ID does, unsurprisingly, although they’re not yet at the point of trying to mandate that their aliens of the gap be taught as science.

    Glen Davidson

  181. chigau (this space for rent) says

    That was you? Thanks!

    If you google you will find a pdf of the Spaghetti Gospel.

  182. Snoof says

    good solid evidence that there is no such thing

    Out of interest…

    What do you consider “good solid evidence” that something doesn’t exist?

  183. says

    RW Ahrens:

    And without a properly designed methodology for collecting that data, and a properly designed methodology for examining it, there’s nothing to follow.

    How do you propose a method for gaining new evidence concerning random things that happen to random people randomly?

    Which is my point. Everything anybody has said here tonight to “prove” me wrong has been based on personal opinions regarding stuff they’ve read, seen or talked about outside of such a properly designed study.

    Uhm, no. Wrong. Incorrect.

    What has been said is:

    1) The only case for the existence of UFOs is based on eyewitness data

    2) That eyewitness data could be explained by psychological phenomena

    3) Once that eyewitness data is removed (as it can be explained in other ways), there is no case for UFOs

    4) Ergo, there is no reason to assume there’s anything physical to study

    Without that kind of effort, you’ve got no data! Your comments about how past cases are not good enough are correct.

    So, what you propose is:

    1) The past UFO cases are not good enough to provide evidence there’s anything to study concerning UFOs

    2) Therefore, we should create methods to gather evidence to prove there’s a such thing as UFOs

    Now, that sounds scientific.

  184. Snoof says

    One can only presume he means firm evidence of anti-visitors. Cause if there are anti-visitors there logically can’t be visitors!

    On the contrary, anti-visitors would be evidence for the existence of visitors, as random quantum fluctuation could create a visitor/anti-visitor pair, making new bodies while preserving the Guest number.

  185. solipschism says

    RW Ahrens,

    It’s clear you are passionate about this subject. That’s a GOOD thing. But if it’s something you really care about, step back and look at it from the perspective that you’re wrong. You might find it makes a lot more sense.

    I am not claiming that no examination of UFOs exist. They undoubtedly do. But they have all been amateur or individual efforts, never peer reviewed and never really looked at by scientists, nor have the data collection efforts been professionally designed. Thus, no real conclusions can be made from them which can be validated. So, still, we don’t know what they are.

    When the “ametuer and indiviudual efforts” have already (and repeatedly) turned up results along the lines of “nope, nothing to see here other than what already well knew about human psychology,” why should professional scientists spend their resources on it?* Like I said before, apply your own logic to leprechauns, bigfoot, unicorns… etc. Should we be dedicating our time and effort as scientists to finding out what’s really behind the tale of the chupacabra? I’m sure there are quite a few sightings of the goatsucker that are yet unexplained. But the other >90% of those sitings have been explained. And they are all fabrications or delusions. You don’t really think we should waste our time with that <10% do you? Seriously?


    *Instead we could spend out resources on cosmology, astrobiology, paleontology, and a number of other disciplines whose discoveries are leading us closer and closer to determining the liklihood of life developing on other worlds, which in turn gives us some BASIS for examining the likelihood of 'visitors' to this one.

  186. says

    RW Ahrens:
    First of all, you seem to forget that those making the claims must provide the evidence. As other commenters have already shown, your knowledge of the scientific method is not perfect, nor are your objections. But I want to respond specifically to your demand that we produce peer-reviewed articles. My first though is to wonder if you ever ask the UFO believers that question. But I don’t want to just assume bad faith on your part, and I don’t really have anything better to do tonight, so I’m going to humor you. Here is a sampling of the peer-reviewed academic journal articles I found in approximately one hour by searching university’s library databases.

    - Jacobs, David M. “A Brief History of Abduction Research.” Journal of Scientific Exploration; Spring2009, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p69-77

    - Spanos, Nicholas P., Cross, Patricia A. “Close encounters: An examination of UFO experiences.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology; Nov93, Vol. 102 Issue 4, p624, 9p.

    - Ramet, Sabrina P. “UFOs over Russia and Eastern Europe.” Journal of Popular Culture. Winter98, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p81. 19p.

    - Bottke, William F. “Asteroids: How to make a flying saucer.” Nature; 7/10/2008, Vol. 454 Issue 7201, p173-174

    - Otgaar, Henry, et al. “Abducted by a UFO: prevalence information affects young children’s false memories for an implausible event.” Applied Cognitive Psychology. Jan2009, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p115-125

    - Cross, Anne. “The Flexibility of Scientific Rhetoric: A Case Study of UFO Researchers.” Qualitative Sociology; Spring2004, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p3-34.

    - Ailleris, Philippe. “The lure of local SETI: Fifty years of field experiments.” Acta Astronautica; Jan2011, Vol. 68 Issue 1/2, p2-15

    - Makris, Nicholas. “Unidentified floating objects.” IEEE Spectrum; Aug2011, Vol. 48 Issue 8, p48-54.

    - Ruiz, Michael J.”Aliens or the SR-71 Blackbird?” Physics Teacher; Apr2006, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p229-231

    - Dewan, William J. “Anomalous Experiences in North Carolina: A Survey.” Journal of Popular Culture; Feb2006, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p29-43.

    So lets go back to your post, shall we?

    nobody has actually studied the phenomena to show clearly what science says about the issue. So they can get away with their crap, because science has remained silent!

    As I think I’ve shown, science has not remained silent on the issue. That is what I hate the most about the “scientists are avoiding this topic” claim. You, and most people who make that claim, are just blaming science for your own ignorance and unwillingness to do some research. Since you obviously haven’t been willing to do even a cursory search of the literature, I have no reason to continue this discussion. How about from now on you go see what kind of research has been done before you start correcting people or asking them to spoon-feed you, because I swear I am not doing this for anyone ever again.

  187. Mak says

    …and continue to denigrate me based on personal attacks, conclusions based on nothing but your own opinions and a crowd based let’s-pile-on-this-guy-with-the-unpopular-opinion.

    Yes, it’s totally because your opinion is -*-*UNPOPULAR*-*-.

    It has nothing to do with your gall, as a layman, to lecture scientists on what crummy scientists they’re being for not going out of their way to chase rainbows, when they know about the realities of trying to put together studies on a limited budget that is ever-shrinking, and what procedures they would have to follow, what evidences they would need, and what studies they would have to perform, while you admit that you don’t actually have an idea of how one should even manage such a thing:

    So instead of denigrating an entire possible field of study – IOW what are UFOs? – let’s push for a valid scientifically acceptable manner of looking at the issue so we will someday really know what it is all about.

    So let’s stop flapping our gums uselessly and start doing some real science – that’s all I am saying.

    In the meantime, let’s do some science and find out.

    And getting mad when they tell you that you’re incorrect, that your demands are unreasonable and unfeasible and antithetical to how science works, and so you turn it back at them like it’s their responsibility to UNPROVE anything, and they’re just being too stubborn about it for no reason, with lots of lovely implications about willful denial, or something:

    Way are you people so argumentative about a suggestion to actually look at something scientifically?

    What is wrong with finding out?

    Why are you so dead set against it?

    And asserting that belief that there’s no good reason to assume aliens are visiting us is an act of “faith” on par with the UFOers’ claims, rather than a scientifically valid assertion from people who regularly do this sort of thing:

    …to denigrate the very idea without such study is as bad as the nutcases you rail against, because you are taking your position based on the same kind of faith.

    And then when you get fired up enough that people aren’t simply nodding their heads and agreeing with you–because clearly you know better, just because–and dropping everything so they can funnel squillions of dollars and hours of manpower to do some “real science” (according to your standards, of course), asserting that the reason why nobody cares is not because it’s unfeasible, pseudoscientific, and at this point a serious waste of precious resources, but because people are afraid to, lest they upset and face the wrath of the Dogmatic Science Status Quo:

    Any scientist who tries would have his/her reputation sunk in a heartbeat. So nobody is going to try.

    Your attitudes prove conclusively that the reason why they haven’t is that any scientist who did would be permanently and finally ruined, professionally.

    Because accusing people who take scientific rigor seriously of being obedient dogs to Big Science, running on dogma and faith, just because they aren’t catering to an admittedly ignorant layman’s demands, isn’t deeply insulting, or something that gets lobbed at them by creationists and newagers all the time, or anything.

    It’s none of that at all, it’s totally because you’re swimming against the current, you poor, brave, little goldfish.

    It also allows these nut cases to go public with books, articles, personal appearances and such that drives PZ crazy, because nobody has actually studied the phenomena to show clearly what science says about the issue. So they can get away with their crap, because science has remained silent!

    Gee, that sure worked against the creationism bullshit, didn’t it? Nobody takes that malarkey seriously. Oh wait, no it didn’t.

    You’re not offering anything that hasn’t been heard a bazillion times before from every branch of Camp WooWoo. You don’t know what you’re talking about, your position is cranky, and you really aren’t in the position to dictate to scientists how to do their goddamn jobs. The sooner you deal with it, the happier everyone will be.

  188. says

    RW:

    I am not, as I’ve said, a scientist. I am not claiming for myself the capability to design such a study. All I am saying is that in order to KNOW the true nature of an unknown phenomena, you have to study it, and you need to do it with a scientific methodology. If you haven’t done that, you don’t really know what you think you know.

    Okay. You admit you’re not a scientist. I’m really glad, because you demonstrate your ignorance of science with every post. This is not an insult. Most people are ignorant of science. Fortunately, it’s a condition that can be corrected.

    Now, let’s cover a little bit of science.

    I: Epistemology of science
    There are three layers to science. At the bottom-most layer, you have the epistemology of science. This is the philosophy describing how we can be sure we know science gives us an accurate representation of reality. While a full treatise on the history and current state of the epistemology of science would fill several large volumes, there are a few things you need to know.

    First, you need to understand that the philosophy of science is based on the way you deal with life on a day-to-day basis. You observe things, you draw conclusions, and you use those conclusions to predict specific situations. If those predictions work out, you put a little more faith in your conclusions. If they fail, you lose a little faith in those conclusions. In this way, you create new models of the world around you. Let me say again: you do this every day.

    And that’s all science is. Only, science is a little more formalized. Fundamentally, though, they are the same thing.

    Now, the philosophy of science deals with some of the problems with this model. Primarily, it deals with certain unreliabilities that creep in — most importantly, it deals with bias. There are biases at all stages, from the observations to the conclusions drawn to the application of predictions in the modification of the conclusions. The philosophy of science is largely the identification and elimination of the various kinds of biases that might creep in.

    (There are many other bits to the philosophy of science, such as the measurement of certainty. That’s not important at the moment, but it’s a very subtle, and far more interesting than the question of bias. Just know that we cannot be 100% certain of anything.

    (We can, however, assign different probabilities to different conclusions. Thus, not all potential explanations are equal. Some are far more likely than others, and you can calculate the various probabilities of correctness. Some propositions approach 100% certainty asymptotically.)

    II: The scientific method
    The scientific method is a system designed to eliminate bias in this model-generation process. It does this through a variety of guidelines and rules applicable to certain situations. Much of this has to do with specific, well-defined rules for handling statistical data, from the methods of gathering the raw data, to the ways in which the data is processed and interpreted.

    Again, there are volumes devoted just to the task of the elimination of bias just in statistical analysis. This doesn’t even cover observational biases, or expectation biases. It’s really a complex discipline. Science is hard not because data is hard to gather (which can also be hard). It’s hard because the elimination of bias requires strict discipline and careful attention to detail.

    With that in mind, let’s consider the various parts of the scientific method.

    i: Collection of data
    The collection of data requires a great attention to detail. Pretty much all experiments that use statistics can follow the same rules for the processing and analysis of the data once it has been collected. Those rules have been worked out, and are mostly applicable to all statistical data sets. But elimination of bias in the collection of data requires careful design of collection methodology. The process must eliminate selection bias, interviewer bias (if applicable), procedural bias, design bias, and other kinds of less obvious biases.

    The design of the data gathering phase is contingent on the type of data being gathered.

    Usually, initial data gathering will look suspiciously like an experiment.

    ii: Analysis of data and identification of anomaly
    Once the data has been gathered, it may be analyzed. In many (if not most) cases, this will require some statistical analysis. As noted, the rules for safe handling and processing of statistical data are well-established.

    It’s at this stage that anomalies are discovered. In most cases, those anomalies are identified in experiments not specifically looking for the anomaly. Once an anomaly is discovered, though, specific data gathering experiments may be designed to collect the data necessary to confirm the anomaly.

    Usually, it’s not a good idea to go looking for anomalies beforehand, with no evidence those anomalies exist, or a reasonable suspicion an anomaly may exist (for instance, as a prediction of an existing hypothesis — but that would make this stage and the previous data-gathering stage an experiment, covered later). Fishing expeditions are rarely successful, unless the investigation involves an entirely new field, or a new method of gathering data (say, the first infrared telescope).

    If no anomaly occurs, the data and analysis can be considered to support the current best understanding of the observed system (or, “the current theory”).

    iii: generation of hypothesis
    If the anomaly was not previously predicted, an hypothesis must be generated. This is nothing more than a model that describes the anomaly. Usually, this will be in context of existing theories. Rarely, this will require modifying the existing theories in dramatic ways. The case of relativity replacing Newtonian dynamics as the most accurate description of gravity, mass, and acceleration is a common example.

    The generation of the hypothesis requires a full understanding of the domain in which the hypothesis operates. This is necessary, as the hypothesis cannot contradict current knowledge of data. For example, relativity could not supplant Newtonian dynamics if it contradicted the physical systems Newtonian dynamics modeled. A person uneducated in the domain which they are modeling is extremely unlikely to have the knowledge required to formulate a cohesive model consistent with the domain system.

    The hypothesis stage requires strong creativity. Also, this is the only stage of the scientific method in which inductive logic is allowed. Anything can be used to create an hypothesis, even a Magic-8 Ball, as long as the hypothesis is a coherent model consistent with the current understanding of the modeled domain — and, it must make testable predictions concerning unknown facets of the domain.

    iv: Testing of the hypothesis
    The testing of the hypothesis is similar to the initial gathering of data. The hypothesis will predict specific data that was previously unknown. The test must be designed to properly collect that data without bias.

    Once the data has been collected, it can be compared to the predictions of the hypothesis. A positive test aligns with the prediction. A negative test does not. In this way, the hypothesis is either supported (not proven) or disproven.

    An hypothesis with many predictions might be disproven by a failure of any one of them. However, the larger the number of tests that support the hypothesis, the greater the certainty that it is correct.

    If an hypothesis is disproven, return to step iii, and form a new hypothesis, one that takes into account the new anomaly (the data that disagreed with the predictions of the original hypothesis).

    III: The knowledge gained through application of the scientific method
    The final layer of science is the results of the scientific method. This knowledge is comprised of the data collected, and the models that are a result of the scientific process applied to that data. These models relate to each other in various ways (the way particle physics relates to chemistry, for instance). New knowledge is based on understanding of old knowledge (here, “knowledge” means both the data, and the models describing the data). This makes science rather conservative. Advancement is made incrementally, based on the incremental advancements of those models which came before.

    (The roots of relativity go all the way back to Newton. Not his dynamics, but his study of the properties of light.)

    The null hypothesis
    New models aren’t created whole-cloth based on isolated data. They are all part of a larger set of inter-related models. And so, there is the concept of the null hypothesis. This is simple: the default of any new position should be one that is congruent with the current best understanding. Simply stated, the null hypothesis is a competitor to any new hypothesis that says the new hypothesis is incorrect.

    This seems harsh, but keep in mind any new hypothesis must make predictions about reality. Those predictions must be new, unique, and testable. The null hypothesis is a competing hypothesis that predicts nothing new and unique will be discovered. It bets that our current best understanding will remain our current best understanding. As the vast majority of hypotheses fail, this is a good bet.

    The burden of proof
    In science, when a new, unique hypothesis is proposed, the default position should be the null hypothesis. This means it is up to the person proposing the new hypothesis to first, provide evidence the hypothesis is necessary, and second, to demonstrate the hypothesis is supported by testing its predictions. This is called the burden of proof.

    This is perfectly fair. The null hypothesis is based on centuries of science, leading up to our current best understanding. The null hypothesis already has plenty of testing to support it.

    How this relates to the scientific investigation of UFO sightings
    So, after that tl;dr essay, let me present to you the problems with the paragraph I quoted at the beginning.

    First, you make the claim there is an unknown phenomenon:

    All I am saying is that in order to KNOW the true nature of an unknown phenomena…

    Within context of this discussion, you are asserting there is an unknown phenomenon at work in UFO sightings. This is a prime example of experimenter bias. You have already drawn the conclusion (that there is an unexplained phenomenon). Now you just want to set out to prove it.

    This also runs afoul of the null hypothesis. As our current best understanding can adequately explain the data sets using nothing more than an understanding of human bias, the null hypothesis states there is no unexplained phenomenon at work.

    But, for the sake of argument, let’s ignore the fact that you are already demonstrating bias and that you are neglecting the null hypothesis. Let’s take the next bit:

    …you have to study it, and you need to do it with a scientific methodology.

    Click on that link to the list of biases I provide above. Or hell, just click on it here. Now, not all of those biases are applicable to a study that relies on eyewitness accounts, but read through the list and count how many might be applicable.

    A whole lot.

    A scientific research program would require actual physical evidence. This would necessitate investigation of every purported landing site immediately after it was reported. And considering the list of purported UFO landings is fairly small, and the list of landings with credible eyewitness reporters is a small subsample of that, devise a viable data gathering program that would be responsive to very infrequent world-wide reports of UFO landings.

    Now, rationalize the cost of that when faced with the null hypothesis.

    Basically, until we have substantial evidence that there’s something going on, there’s nothing to justify the belief that there is something going on. And theres absolutely nothing to justify the cost of researching what amounts to a giant bet against the null hypothesis.

    This could all change with one simple thing: actual physical evidence. Not the flimsy pieces of evidence put forth by current researchers (and they do exist, and they are trying very hard to come up with evidence for actual-factual UFOs), but something that demonstrates there is something unexplained going on here.

    Because right now, our current best understanding fully explains what’s going on. Even if we can’t identify all mundane objects in every report.

    And that, RW, is how science works.

  189. gravityisjustatheory says

    Asa side note, it ammuses me when UFO believers cite “A soldier/airman/etc reported seeing…” as evidence of the evistance of UFOs.

    I know or have known several serving or former military personel, and judging from their stories about the antics they or their comrades got up to, “making up reports about UFOs, for a laugh” is easily within the realms of possibility of at least some servicemen.

  190. says

    blogofmyself,

    Finally, someone has taken the time do do what the rest of you have been blowing smoke over.

    Thanks for giving me something to look at, although I’ll take the time to mention that I really don’t consider abduction phenomena to have been part of this, it is much too far into the crazy realm from what I’ve seen.

    Damn, see how easy that was?

  191. Matt Penfold says

    This argument means that without a valid scientific investigation, or experiment, you don’t know.

    Period, end of story.

    The have been plenty on investigations into alleged UFO and alien sightings, not one of which has ever produced credible evidence aliens are visiting Earth. Therefore your objections is irrelevant. You have kept making the false claim there is no evidence. I suggest you cease doing so, and explain your ignorance.

  192. Matt Penfold says

    Finally, someone has taken the time do do what the rest of you have been blowing smoke over.

    So you are too lazy to do a Google search yourself ? You are supposed to inform yourself before making an argument.

    Can you explain your laziness ? And would you now like to offer an apology for making a dishonest argument based on wilful ignorance ?

  193. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Damn, see how easy that was?

    See how lazy and stupid you are for not finding information on your own, as any competent person could do. That diminishes everything you say, as the BURDEN OF PROOF IS ALWAYS ON YOU, THE CLAIMANT. You make claims, you back them up.

  194. solipschism says

    RW

    Damn, see how easy that was?

    So easy you could have done it for yourself, even! But apparently not as easy as spending the day arguing (erroneously) with everyone here about how science has never been applied to these issues. It all becomes clear now… you just wanted someone to do your homework for you.

    So now that you’ve been given what you wanted, are you willing to admit that you were wrong and that there is no good reason to continue investigating the small percentage of UFO sightings that are “unexplained”?

  195. Tigger_the_Wing says

    Very late one night (gone midnight), back in late 1978/early 1979 (not sure exactly when) I was on my way home from my then boyfriend’s place through unlit country lanes on my bike and sidecar when I rounded a bend a couple of miles from home to see a very bright light hovering between me and my destination. I couldn’t keep watch all the time – trees and hills kept intervening with my line of sight – but whenever the view was clear, the light was still in the same place.

    As I approached, I could see that it was directly above the field at the end of the street where I lived. I started to feel somewhat afraid; there was literally no route I could take at that point in my journey that wouldn’t take me past that weird light.

    Anyway, when I arrived at the end of my street and had an uninterrupted view of the light I pulled over and was able to see that it was, astonishingly, a Harrier jump-jet. Why such a machine would be hovering no more than 400 yards from a large suburban housing estate on the edge of the Kent countryside in the middle of the night was a fairly big puzzle – bigger still was that I couldn’t hear it above the sound of my bike’s idling engine (a nice, quiet, Suzuki GS400). I watched the plane until it took off after a minute or so.

    Some time later, I read that a new, ultra-quiet jet engine had been developed for use on planes that would be using the proposed London City Airport. Now, I wonder if the engines had been fitted to the plane I saw and that it was some kind of test? In any case, had it taken off before I had seen what it actually was, I may well have been convinced that I had seen ‘a real UFO’!

    Also, had I reported my sighting, I very much doubt that I would have ever been told exactly what I had seen. The secrecy around a lot of reports is precisely because military and commercial interests are involved in a lot of them. Which is also why, I suppose, they tend to occur in out-of-the-way places and so attract the minimum number of observers.

    I wouldn’t mind betting that a great proportion of the 30% ‘unexplained’ cases (those cases where the witnesses were regarded as credible, and no ‘mundane’ explanation was found) were actually secret flights of experimental craft and thus too ‘sensitive’ to be admitted to.

    RW, when someone makes a claim that they’ve seen a UFO, usually the only thing there is the claim. Claims aren’t evidence. The moment that there is actual, physical, evidence? Well, it isn’t a UFO anymore, it’s identified, isn’t it?

    However, even without evidence, I agree that the claim can still be investigated. And usually is. The result can be ‘explained’, ‘unexplainable/obviously crazy’, or ‘unexplained’.

    The ‘explained’ categories:

    As was said above, the description of what the witness said they saw can be tested against known aircraft/spacecraft/weather balloon activity. If it matches with one of these, the claim has been verified and the UFO becomes an IFO. If it doesn’t match with any of those, it may be that it matches with a weather pattern or a celestial object (satellite, planet, comet, meteor etc.) and the claim can be settled against that.

    The ‘unexplainable/obviously crazy’ category:

    In this category are descriptions that are so vague as to be useless. Also, the character of the claimant(s) can be assessed; were they drunk, under the influence of drugs, or known to spin tall tales?

    The ‘unexplained’ category:

    As I said above, it is a strong possibility that many or most of the sightings in this category, where there are credible witnesses and plausible descriptions, actually involved aircraft that were on secret flights, or weapons being tested, so no data will be forthcoming when researchers try to verify the sighting. No extra-terrestrial explanation necessary.

    As for the ‘splitting lights’ sighting, I have seen similar phenomena when wearing glasses. One actual light creates multiple images in the lenses and these images diverge when I turn my head, however slightly, to follow it. It certainly looks weird!

  196. says

    RW Ahrens #219
    See, that’s not how you were supposed to respond. You were supposed to say something like this:

    “Goodness, blogofmyself, the fact that an incredibly young and inexperienced non-scientist was able to find all this information in such a short amount of time and with nearly no effort shows me that I was totally wrong. All of my supposed concern actually just came from my laziness and my desire to be a special little hyper-skeptical cupcake. Now that you have proven my arguments to be so utterly false, I’ve learned that I should always check myself before I make wildly unfounded claims that make me sound like a lazy douche-bag. I’ve also learned that just using scientific words doesn’t give me any sort of credibility, and in fact that using them incorrectly only shows people that I am an ignorant fuck. I am now going to leave this thread alone and go learn how to use google all by myself so I don’t have to pester other people to fucking google things for me. I apologize profusely for wasting everyone’s time with my inanine bullshit.”

    But of course you completely ignored my critiques at the bottom of my comment and acted like you didn’t do anything wrong. Is this why people say not to feed the trolls? You’re so oblivious to other people’s arguments that you would have learned just as much if I had simply told you to go fuck yourself. You also ignored nigelTheBold’s totally amazing comment on how science actually works, so I’m going to assume that you don’t actually give a fuck about an of this. You just like to hear yourself talk. I didn’t want to assume bad faith on your part last time, but I think you’ve proven it by now.

  197. says

    RW Ahrens:

    Finally, someone has taken the time do do what the rest of you have been blowing smoke over.

    Bullshit. None of us have been blowing smoke. You come in berating PZ for something he didn’t do, make a reasonable* ass of yourself, show your ignorance as if you were hanging out with it at a nude beach, and make the assertion that this hasn’t been done

    The Condon Report seems much in line with some of the titles listed by blogofmyself. You dismissed it with the standard True Believer&tm; excuses — not because nobody pointed out the Condon Report to you, but because you are going to believe what you want to believe.

    So stop smuggly pretending nobody pointed you at actual scientific research. Stop pretending it wasn’t up to us to provide research in the first place, but you (due to the null hypothesis and burden of proof). Stop pretending this wasn’t pointed out to you.

    Stop pretending you don’t insist there is an unknown phenomena at work here. Stop pretending the current best understanding doesn’t have an explanation for the UFO/Bigfoot/Ghosts sightings.

    And most importantly, stop pretending the posts that actually display the errors in your thinking don’t exist. Or, alternately, explain why you don’t feel that all those unsolved murders are the work of an unexplained phenomena.

     

    * As in, “Look, I’m just pointing out reasonable explanations and making the perfectly reasonable assertion that no scientist has ever looked at this scientifically, even though I was given one scientific report.”

  198. chigau (this space for rent) says

    also
    I think solipschism #223 figured it out

    It all becomes clear now… you just wanted someone to do your homework for you.

  199. says

    Nanobots. That’s what I’d send to another star system thousands of LYs away. Organic life just can’t cross the vast distance, so I’d send my swarms of nanobots. Hence the real question isn’t, “Is there intelligent life on other planets?” It’s, “Is there life on other planets that’s intelligent enough to invent artificial intelligence and send it here thousands of years ago?”

    Not entirely implausible, I suppose, but try getting this one past the UFO nuts. I did recently — when I moved back to Taos, NM. Sure it’s mostly Catholic, but the New Age contingent accounts for at least as much irrationality. I was once loudly and publically harrangued for being “ignorant” when I quietly stated that I didn’t believe in astrology.

    I wrote on this very subject recently, here: Back in Taos, NM: Wild West Meets New Age Dystopia.

  200. says

    The important thing, RW, is that you feel no guilt or shame over your false accusations, false claims, continual ignorance, weaving, waffling, goalpost moving, and incapacity for learning from those who know much more than you do.

    That marks you as a truly gullible, arrogant, and ignorant fool. By the way, we do know your kind, usually creationists, and we have reason to be confident that you’ll mostly repeat your show of dishonesty, incompetence, and ignorance again in the future.

    Almost all of you ignorant blowhards do.

    Glen Davidson

  201. Drolfe says

    Icthyic, (tangentially Rev. BDC, others)

    I know it’s much to late to get back to this now… but let me repeat what I was saying to a friend in relation to your last question: So, squad-sight is hax. I was doing an early recovery/escort mission right after my second sniper earned this ability. He started right near high cover, and I NEVER MOVED HIM and got like five kills. Some from all the way across the map. I’d say it’s superb, especially early. Later on you unlock an ability called higher-ground (or something) that makes snapshot a powerful contender (as long as you have high ground it pretty much negates the snapshot penalty) which makes a sniper with BOTH abilities highly mobile. So now I have one of each, the slow one I run to good position with open firing lines and leave him there, and the other I can move to cover the blind-spots and still get overwatch or clutch snapshots.

    I’ve been waiting 15 years for this remake, and have not yet been disappointed. I think I even prefer this new system for soldier progression over the old one (where a unit’s stat growth would indicate how you take advantage of the squad, vs the new system where a soldier’s strength is sussed out early and then you hone those units with special abilities). I think it makes the tactics more fun at the expense of only the tiniest bit of meta (discovering which of your soldiers would be suitable psionics, or will be suited to blaster launchers or sniping, and which should be running in headlong with stunrods). And it takes away the pitfalls of the older, original approach where a player might not ever make connections between speed and encumbrance and morale. With age I’ve come to appreciate the design side of mechanics like this as well: giving the player a choice that *isn’t* a trap is almost always more fun (as nebulous as that is). E.g., getting trapped over and over is frustrating, can get tedious and ultimately drives players away.

  202. Ichthyic says

    So, squad-sight is hax. I was doing an early recovery/escort mission right after my second sniper earned this ability. He started right near high cover, and I NEVER MOVED HIM

    yeahbut…

    I have heard that later missions, with huge maps (or timed missions), your sniper tends to fall behind the rest of your squad if they don’t have snap shot.

    FWIW, I went the way you did for my first sniper.

  203. Ichthyic says

    Damn, see how easy that was?

    right, it was so easy you yourself never bothered.

    uh huh.

    fuck off.

  204. Ichthyic says

    I found myself running out of money too easily my first run through, so I started over again, SKIPPING the tutorial (which gives you a free trained guy, but forces you to pick europe or the US for your home base, which seems kinda silly), and I picked Africa for my home base.

    Africa gives you +30% cash every month.

    then, I just followed this:

    http://forums.2kgames.com/showthread.php?159051-5-Satellites-860-Net-Income-by-End-of-First-Month

    money problems solved, at the expense of a bit of research in the first month, and you have to be a bit more careful with your soldiers (you can’t afford medkits in the first month).

    Having gone to the 3rd month in my first playthrough, most of the research you are slow on in the first month can be made up in the second month, skip developing laser weapons, and focus on researching a floater (live) to speed armor research, get yourself some armor, and then researching light plasma weps.

    start the 3rd month with decent armor and plasma weps, and plenty of money to pay for anything you need.

  205. Ichthyic says

    Must get XCOM.

    Might I suggest, if you plan on getting the downloadable version, that you can save yourself quite a bit of bandwidth by grabbing a version with the movies compressed and resized to 720p (instead of 1080p).

    search google using this:

    PC_XCOM.Enemy.Unknown.Rip.-TPTB

    saves about 8gigs on the regular download.

  206. Drolfe says

    I haven’t had a chance to play again since Thursday (boo, work), so I’m not that far in. My first start was without tutorial since I played the demo, but was afraid I might miss something important or exciting (since the warning says, “hey the tutorial includes a lot of story you’re skipping.”) so I restarted WITH it. :-p

    Anyhow, squad-sight reminded me of making those old impossible aimed shots from four screens away in the original, so very fun, and situationally awesome (like when there isn’t a giant building in the middle of the map; train yards, subways and courtyards are places where it’s been pretty great).

    I haven’t perused the strategy forums and class builds. I’ve been trying to stay away from ‘spoilers’, which I know is an odd concept in this case, so I can get that nostalgic, naive feeling of bumbling through the original. TFTD was a different experience because you basically knew what was coming, just the setting was different, (and you could open doors as a free action!).

    After a couple runs through, I’m going to try for classic ironman, which from what I’m hearing might take me 30 attempts.

  207. Drolfe says

    I didn’t finish the thought — for ironman, I’m going to need all the min-maxing I can get from the sound of it. And probably in a couple weeks any number of people will have probably done it on ‘insane’ and have posted all about their tricks.

  208. opposablethumbs says

    nigelTheBold? That flicker of movement you just caught out of the corner of your eye? That wasn’t a UFO outside the window, it was just me over here – taking my hat off to you for your exhaustive and unfailingly patient comment (especially nice for any lurkers there might be about the place).

  209. says

    Might I suggest, if you plan on getting the downloadable version, that you can save yourself quite a bit of bandwidth by grabbing a version with the movies compressed and resized to 720p (instead of 1080p).

    I was just going to purchase it on Steam once it went on sale (it’s slightly price fixed for Australians). Got more than enough games to play until then, so I can be patient.

  210. AshPlant says

    I dunno about UFOs (ok I do*) but XCOM: EU is the game I have been waiting for all my life. And I didn’t even know the series existed until three days ago, when I randomly dropped the demo from XBL.

    Actually, now I think about it, my gaming life is about 15 yrs long… same time Drolfe’s been waiting, even though I’m new to the series.. Coincidence? or merely chance.

    *they’re nonsense

  211. daniellavine says

    I have said several times, clearly and unambiguously, that a peer reviewed, scientifically valid study would provide the kind of information that could be picked apart and give both sides something to look at in order to decide of it was worth further study. the Condon Report was contracted for by the Air Force, and was not peer reviewed nor published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, which would allow for this kind of examination. I hope that is clear?

    There’s a few problems. First of all, I requested you spell out what kind of methodology would be acceptable. You did not specify a methodology here; you said “peer reviewed” like that’s some kind of magic special science sauce. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scientific journals on UFOlogy so it’s a little unclear what you mean by “peer reviewed”. The dude in the tinfoil hat checks the work of the dude in the aluminum foil hat? Point is, I asked you to specify what it would mean to study the phenomenon in question…and you didn’t answer. You dodged again. That’s why you’re not being treated as a very credible person.

    I haven’t provided such information because I NEVER ARGUED FOR THAT! Try reading for comprehension.

    Hey asshole. Here’s your very first paragraph on this thread:

    What bothers me the most about this discussion, here and elsewhere is the automatic assumption on the part of most people that even the possibility of our having been visited is not only ridiculous but impossible – without evidence.

    I read that as arguing for the possibility of visitations. So you’re a lying asshole.

    mY point is that we don’t fully know nor understand what a certain percentage of cases that have been examined really are. They may be some hitherto unexplained natural phenomena, some psychological thing or maybe some home inventor has discovered holography and is playing games for fun. What is wrong with finding out?

    How would we find out? I already asked you this several times and you refused to answer.

    Finally, someone has taken the time do do what the rest of you have been blowing smoke over.

    Thanks for giving me something to look at, although I’ll take the time to mention that I really don’t consider abduction phenomena to have been part of this, it is much too far into the crazy realm from what I’ve seen.

    Damn, see how easy that was?

    You are so full of shit. I asked you several times about acceptable methodologies so I could find you some “peer-reviewed research” on the subject without you harping about how it wasn’t acceptable for some arbitrary reason or other…and you didn’t answer! You are the one who made this difficult.

  212. says

    daniellavine:

    You did not specify a methodology here; you said “peer reviewed” like that’s some kind of magic special science sauce. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scientific journals on UFOlogy so it’s a little unclear what you mean by “peer reviewed”.

    In any case, none of that matters. RW was asking for a scientific treatment of sightings. That was given many times. Scientifically, there’s no reason to assume the null hypothesis incorrect or insufficient. Ergo, from a scientific standpoint, RW was asking for the ridiculous.

    In spite of all criticisms of the Condon Report, it was a scientific survey of reported sightings. A bunch of folks complain that it didn’t identify all objects that were the source of the sightings — but from a scientific standpoint, you wouldn’t expect all sightings to be fully explained. That would require total knowledge of the entire environment, something that just isn’t possible. The Condon Report established that there was insufficient evidence to indicate that any sighting was due to a new and previously-unknown phenomenon. The demand that all sightings be attributed to a specific mundane source is about as intellectually honest as creationists demanding transitional fossils just because there are gaps between other transitional forms.

    RW’s request was crushed between the null hypothesis and the burden of proof. Science is hard.

     

    opposablethumbs:

    nigelTheBold? That flicker of movement you just caught out of the corner of your eye? That wasn’t a UFO outside the window, it was just me over here – taking my hat off to you for your exhaustive and unfailingly patient comment (especially nice for any lurkers there might be about the place).

    Thanks, ot. That means a lot. And yes, it was mostly for the lurkers, as I’d figured RW wasn’t going to accept the rigors of science and the requirements of the burden of proof. I hope I didn’t fuck anything up in it. I was a bit drunk at the time, and it was around 2am when I started it, so I wasn’t at my peak performance.

  213. Amphiox says

    Any legitimate, scientifically valid observation of a UFO would be easily publishable in any Astronomy, Astrobiology, or Aeronautical Engineering journal.

    Assuming it was a legitimate observation.

    Hell, a legitimate UFO observation would easily make front page of Science or Nature.

    The “no UFOlogy journals” argument is utterly irrelevant.