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.
Pop culture has changed how ufology is seen, and the carnival barker types have indeed run with ball and make up the game as they went along. The basic behavior of UFO's in the sky hasn't changed. But beyond that, are you seriously saying that as a study of something yields information, the study should remain static? The test of science is primarily repeatability, but in new study it takes a while for the transients in the data to settle out. Ufology is much younger than most sciences, I would even grant you that it is merely a proto-science in search of foucs.
There has been a great deal of noise in the signal, as it were.
"There are valid studies, mostly in the field of psychology."
Not funny. And not necessarily true for all of such studies. The recent bunch of articles on "Sleep Paralysis" as a source of abduction reports has been unscientific in the extreme, but pop culture has embraced it uncritically.
That's the sad part: Science tends to debunk Ufology by proclamation, and trends to foolishness in doing so.
True, though. It's about the only branch of science that will look at the phenomenon.
"True, though. It's about the only branch of science that will look at the phenomenon."
That is why ufology exists. The "establishment" sciences do have better things to do. And I mean that - astronomers provide validation data to physicists, physicists flow it down to engineering researchers, and that improves the world. Biologists down to doctors and medical suppliers, and so on.
Ufology will continue on it's own, trying to figure out what is what with the things in the sky. For my part, as an engineer, I find it important to figure out what might make such a vehicle work, in such cases as it may be a vehicle. Assuming they are physical, then they aren't magic, and we can build them ourselves.
It isn't a bad side pursuit. :)
First, they aren't magic. Reasoning by similarity (magic) is not the way engineers make progress. If Watt reasoned by similarity he wouldn't have seen the relation between a horse and a steam kettle. Now, if somebody wants to build an FTL ship, he needs to find something other than electric, magnetic, or gravitational forces to drive it. That's where physicists work, looking for signs of something going on where everybody has been looking but seeing nothing. Nothing propelled by EM can exceed the speed of light, it's not in the cards. But, ordinary matter could exceed c even though it has electrons and protons and therefore EM effects. Electrons and protons are not EM phenomena even though they exhibit EM phenomena under certain circumstances; something else could possibly drive them to FTL speeds and possibly very easily. The mass, time and length problems are specific to EM phenomena. The math used is that of solid state mechanics--very strange if you think about it.
"First, they aren't magic."
As for your whole paragraph, I completely agree. I find it encouraging that the FTL community is slowly gaining respectability, as humans tend to be able to figure out ways of doing things, if they can wrap their minds around the required concepts.
Some physicists have had basic problems with relativity all along. Ives and Bridgman have been the most coherent. It's not really the relativity to which they object, but the application. It's not easy to work in tensors and quaternions, although both are in common enough use thanks to computers, but deciding when to apply them and what to apply them to requires something more of the understanding than blindly saying laws are valid in all frames, because they aren't necessarily.
"... deciding when to apply [appropriate calculation] and what to apply them to requires something more of the understanding than blindly saying laws are valid in all frames, because they aren't necessarily."
I've been hearing that a lot more lately. A lot of physicists ascribed limitations to Einstein's work that he never proscribed.
I KNOW what I saw!
If so, then it was identified. Not a UFO.
Did anyone listen to C2CAM last night?
Anyone remember any more details besides the below?
It was a replay with Dr Greer.
He cited the 4,000 cases of tangible, objective LANDING TRACES. These are the sorts of things where the ground is baked; has heightened magnetic readins. Ground and plants seem to have been baked by microwaves or some such.
And, one case of 100's if not 1,000's of houseflies kind of blasted or merged or some such into the side of a tree facing the landing site.
Thanks for the ping Las Vegas Dave.
I said: It is the height of arrogance to believe we are the only form of intelligent life in the uinverse.
Unfortunately, you do not fall under that category.
Bugger off, you pompous jerk.
And you are so full of crap your eyes are brown.
Crop circles. Alien abductions. Filmed sightings. Either millions of people throughout history (including Ezekiel) are wrong and just little ol' you are right, or you are just a git who needs to be hit with a clue-by-four.
Having seen one myself, it's obvious which side I fall on.
You are being totally subjective. Watch what you call people.
Whatever the phenomenon is, they aren't angels.
Exactly how am I being subjective?
Who here is telling people who have had their own personal experiences with UFOs they did not see what they saw? Here's a hint: It was not me.
You want my respect? Quit implying people are liars or loons because they have experienced something you have not and maybe you'll get some.
UFO movie trailer (17:59 min. long)
Based upon what I saw, looks like a history of the UFO phenomena from 1940's to Apollo landing to present day sightings. (There is a photo of a what appears to be a structure on the Moon, the last minute of the 18 min. trailer.)
CLICK HERE: UFO, The greatest story ever denied (17:59 minute long trailer) (Note: Quicktime did not work for me but Windows Media did.)
CLICK HERE: UFO (1:29 minute long trailer-Windows Media)
If you want on or off of the UFO ping list, please ping KevinDavis or LasVegasDave.
I have the video, "NASA's Secret Transmissions: The Smoking Gun". I highly recommend it. It definitely shows life forms in outer space. Some very tiny -- which fly into the U.S. spacecraft. Very interesting.
Where may I buy a copy of this new video by Jose Escamilla?
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