Skip to comments.UFO Research: Findings vs. Facts
Posted on 06/24/2006 9:27:30 AM PDT by BenLurkin
For decades now, eyes and sky have met to witness the buzzing of our world by Unidentified Flying Objects, termed UFOs or simply flying saucers. Extraterrestrials have come a long way to purportedly share the friendly skies with us.
UFOs and alien visitors are part of our culturea far-out phenomenon when judged against those "low life" wonders Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.
And after all those years, as the saying goes, UFOs remain a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Why so? For one, the field is fraught with hucksterism. It's also replete with blurry photos and awful video. But then there are also well-intentioned and puzzled witnesses [See Top 10 Alien Encounters Debunked].
Scientifically speaking, are UFOs worth keeping an eye on?
There have been advances in the field of UFO research, said Ted Roe, Executive Director of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), based in Vallejo, California.
"The capture of optical spectra from mobile, unpredictable luminosities is one of those innovations. More work to be done here but [there are] some good results already."
NARCAP was established in 2000 and is dedicated to the advancement of aviation safety issues as they apply to, what they term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).
Roe said that a decade from now, researchers should have even better instrumentation at their disposal and better data on UAP of several varieties. His forecast is that scientific rigor will prevail, demonstrating that there are "stable, mobile, unusual, poorly documented phenomena with quite unusual properties manifesting within our atmosphere," he told SPACE.com.
NARCAP has made the case that some of these phenomena have unusual electromagnetic properties. Therefore, they could disrupt microprocessors and adversely effect avionic systems, Roe explained, and that for those reasons and others UAP should be considered a hazard to safe aviation.
"It is likely that either conclusion will fly in the face of the general assertion that UAP are not real and that there are no undocumented phenomena in our atmosphere," Roe continued. That should open the door, he said, to the realization that there's no good reason to discard outright the possibility that extraterrestrial visitation has occurred and may be occurring.
"Physics is leading to new and potentially paradigm shifting understandings about the nature of our universe and its physical properties," Roe said. "These understandings may point the way towards an acceptance of the probability of interstellar travel and communication by spacefaring races."
Sacred cows to the slaughter
As UFO debunker Robert Sheaffer's web site proclaims, he's "skeptical to the max." He is a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and a well-known writer on the UFO scene.
Being an equal-opportunity debunker, Sheaffer notes that he refutes whatever nonsense, in his judgment, "stands in the greatest need of refuting, no matter from what source it may come, no matter how privileged, esteemed, or sacrosanct sacred cows, after all, make the best hamburger."
Sheaffer told SPACE.com, in regards to the cottage industry of UFO promoters, there's a reason there are still so many snake-oil sellers.
"It's because nobody, anywhere, has any actual facts concerning alleged UFOs, just claims. That allows con-men to thrive peddling their yarns," Sheaffer said. "UFO believers are convinced that the existence of UFOs will be revealed 'any day now'. But it's like Charlie Brown and the football: No matter how many times Lucy pulls the football awayor the promised 'disclosure' fails to happenthey're dead-certain that the next time will be their moment of glory."
Trash from the past
"I would have to say that we're stuck in neutral," said Kevin Randle, a leading expert and writer on UFOs and is known as a dogged researcher of the phenomena. There's no real new research, he said, and that's "because we have to revisit the trash of the past."
Randle points to yesteryear stories, one stretching back in time to a supposed 1897 airship crash in Aurora, Texas, long proven to be a hoax by two con menyet continues to surface in UFO circles.
Then there's the celebrated Thomas Mantell saga, a pilot that lost his life chasing a UFO in 1948. There are those that contend he was killed by a blue beam from a UFO, Randle said "even though we have known for years that the UFO was a balloon and he violated regulations by climbing above 14,000 feet without oxygen equipment. I mean, we know this, and yet there are those who believe that Mantell was killed by aliens."
Randle's advice is to the point: "We need to begin to apply rigorous standards of research stop accepting what we wish to believe even when the evidence is poor, and begin thinking ahead."
Paucity of physical evidence
"I've no doubt that UFOs are here to stay," said Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. "I'm just not convinced that alien craft are here to stay or for that matter, even here for brief visits. "First, despite a torrent of sightings for more than a half-century, I can't think of a single, major science museum that has alien artifacts on display," Shostak said. "Contrast this paucity of physical evidence with what the American Indians could have shown you fifty years after Christopher Columbus first violated their sea-space. They could have shown you all sorts of stuffincluding lots of smallpox-infested brethrenas proof that they were being 'visited,'" he said.
When it comes to extraterrestrial visitors in the 21st century, the evidence is anecdotal, ambiguous, or, in some cases, artifice, Shostak suggested.
Calling it "argument from ignorance", Shostak pointed to the claim that aliens must have careened out of control above the New Mexico desert simply because some classified government documents sport a bunch of blacked-out text. "How does the latter prove the former?"
Sure, the missing verbiage is consistent with a government cover-up of an alien crash landing, Shostak said. "But it's also consistent with an infinitude of other scenarios not all of them involving sloppy alien pilots," he added.
Shostak said that it is not impossible that we could be visited. It doesn't violate physics to travel between the stars, although that's not easy to do.
"But really, if you're going to claimor for that matter, believethat extraterrestrials are strafing the cities, or occasionally assaulting the neighbors with an aggression inappropriate for a first date, then I urge you to find evidence that leaves little doubt among the professionally skeptical community known as the world of science."
Residue of sightings
Why is there precious little to show that world of science that UFOs merit attention?
"Obviously there is not a simple answer, but part of it is reluctance of the scientific community to support such research," explained Bruce Maccabee, regarded as a meticulous researcher and an optical physicist using those talents to study photographs and video of unexplained phenomena.
Why this reluctance?
"In my humble opinion it is largely a result of 'tradition' tradition set by the U.S. Air Force in the early years when they publicly stated that everything was under control, they were investigating and finding nothing that couldn't be explained," Maccabee said.
Nevertheless, Maccabee observed, work on the phenomenon will carry on.
"UFO studies will continue until all the old cases have either been explained or admitted to being unexplainablemeaning a residue of sightings that could be ET relatedand/or until people stop seeing unexplainable UFO-like events throughout the world," Maccabee concluded.
Millions of people around the world over several decades have seen them. Famous people have claimed to have seen them. I have seen one, too (up close).
If you want to play pretend, shut your eyes and cover your ears, you can go right ahead and do so. But it is impossible to debunk undeniable fact. And it is the height of arrogance to believe we are the only form of intelligent life in the universe.
The article and the link speak for themselves. I am sufficiently open-minded to be interested in any point on point rebuttal.
I've seen plenty of things in the air that I couldn't identify -- especially at night.
What I have not seen is anything, the appearance of which excluded or prohibited the conclusion that it was of terrestrial origin or some natural phenomena.
If I ever did see such a thing I'd hope to get a good long look at it. In fact, I wouldn't mind investigating the subject -- most witnesses never seem to be questioned at all effectively.
What I'd ask people to consider is that these reports started coming in around 1946 - 48, i.e. at the precise time that many people riding around in piston engined aircraft started seeing the occasional jet go by them at two to three times their own rate of speed. A P51 or F8 might have had an outright top speed of 430 or thereabouts, but no piston engined plane ever cruised at that speed; cruising speed for piston engined planes was never much more than 250.
They want FTL travel yet they continue to be mesmerized with electromagnetics. It's a farce starring the Three Stooges.
It's hard to see the string until it hits a knot.
Thats pretty pithy -- onto my Potential Tagline list it goes!
'Faraday wept' ping.
The fact is, the truth is out there.... :)
| Umm, if I pretend
to believe, will a sexy
redhead lick my face?
In late 1985, I was living in New Paltz, NY, in a boarding house with my brother. We were sharing a room on the first floor and one evening he, the landlord and another person were outside in the backyard while I was in the room, reading a book.
My brother, Frank, ran to an open window and shouted to me, "Matt! Come out here! Quick!" Because of the urgency, I jumped up and out of the house, running to where he was. At that, he pointed up in a direction to my right and said, "Look!"
That's when I saw it: A triangular object, with lights all over it, a few hundred feet in the air and as many yards away from us, moving very slowly over the trees, and making absolutely no sound whatsoever.
Now, Frank decided to contact the local Sheriff, who contacted the nearest air base. The Sheriff's office told us the air base responded with, "It's just a fleet of planes flying in close formation." Uh-uh. For one thing, at that altitude, even at night, the shapes of the planes would have been quite discernible. For another, again from that altitude, the sound of the jet engines would have been very loud indeed.
Are you going to tell me I did not see what I know I saw? What was personally witnessed by three other people?
You saw something, but not up close. You have no hard evidence, nobody ever does. All word pictures, stories, flapping of gums.
Have you posted the details of your sighting hereon? Would love to read them.
To state yet again . . . my close blood relative saw them coming and going routinely in his Nevada highly classified job.
Just because YOU haven't seen one up close?
Ahhhhh, yes. Proof positive. /sar
Somehow, I'll take my relative's word over yours easily.
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