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.
Pinging, per Quix's request.....
A late great aunt of mine saw two flying saucers and a burn circle. I'll believe her over you any day.
Count me as one who has seen one. What I saw WASN'T from Earth.
I never thought that there was any doubt in my mind that they didn't exist. But when I saw one up close, I remember saying to myself repeatedly "My God, they really DO exist!"
Thanks for the ping.
Thanx Dave. Always like the updates.
You can be sure that those who make a living off their sighting or what have you have squandered their credibility.
I sent my report to MUFON, Stanton Friedman, and a very few others before posting it on FR. My 1200 foot long dark grey cylinder in 1965, the length based on a Hagstrom Street map, is apparently more in the order of 1700 feet long, due to modern satellite images and maps of the area.
Either way, I don't give a fiddler's fugh who believes it or not; but it did change the way I believe in everything that was being spoon-fed to me as a 10 year old at that time and to this day.
Danke, LVD and Quix
Before you decide to make a jerk out of yourself, please go to Post 60 first.
I beg your pardon; it's post # 61.
I love sitting in on serious scientific debate.
(Alt 1) I love it when you talk 'Science'.
(Alt 2) Too cool dude, glad we're normal.
(Alt 3) Pass the bong - I'm starting to see lights...
I appreciate the correction about the post number.
Are you going to apologize for calling me a jerk?
Or at least explain WHY you called me a jerk?
How have I contradicted your late great aunt?
My father, a WWII fighter pilot, went to his grave convinced that the strange ships that he saw were not secret German aircraft.
And I'd still like to be the first person to question those who come forward as witnesses. They need to be interviewed while the memory are fresh -- and before the person becomes committed to their own interpretation of their memories.
Amazing how those "realities" can clash . . . though often . . . when direct observation confronts assumptions, the assumptions tend to crash and burn.
but it did change the way I believe in everything that was being spoon-fed to me as a 10 year old at that time and to this day.
- - - - -
Would you be willing to elaborate? Publicly or otherwise?
You're a Doubting Thomas. You might as well throw your Bible out the window too, unless Jesus Himself comes up through the toilet to bite you on your ass.
Yeah, I apologize, for being the first to admit being annoyed by your smug piety. I should have waited for everyone else to weigh in. My bad.
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