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The Challenges of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis of UFO Phenomena

Discussion in 'The UFO Forum' started by The Starman, Jul 27, 2018.



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  1. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    The Challenges of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis of UFO Phenomena

    In the past, I often explained that nearly all UFO sightings are misidentified terrestrial objects such as man-made aircraft, weather balloons, and satellites; as well as natural phenomena like meteors, birds, lens flares, and just about anything moving within the electromagnetic spectrum’s visible band. Moreover, alleged physical evidence such as debris from UFO crashes, burn marks on the ground, or alien implants have all turned out to be quite terrestrial, including elaborate hoaxes. Thus, after decades of research by hundreds of UFO investigators, not one UFO has been unequivocally identified as an extraterrestrial spacecraft in a way required by science and/or common sense. Contrary to what most mainstream ufologists proclaim, there is no physical evidence to support their extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO phenomena.

    Attacking physics and space science, furthermore, is the standard modus operandi I have encountered at UFO gatherings. Rather than presenting incontrovertible evidence to prove their extraterrestrial hypothesis, members of the UFO community attack scientists and skeptics by attempting to expose weaknesses to a counterargument. Such refutation, however, is no substitute for evidentiary support of the extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFO phenomena. It is simply faulty logic to assume that, because a scientist’s or skeptic’s explanations may be flawed, the UFO community’s hypothesis is valid. Another common tactic deployed by the UFO community is to claim that, if science cannot prove that a UFO was not an extraterrestrial spacecraft, one can infer that it is in fact an extraterrestrial spacecraft (e.g., because it was too large or moved faster than conventional aircraft). This kind of reasoning is known as the argumentum ad ignorantiam or the argument from ignorance. A claim does not become true or reasonable if a contrary claim cannot be proved to be true.

    The UFO community, unfortunately, has become a cult inundated with New Age claptrap, pseudoscience, cryptozoology and the paranormal. This is why scientists and academicians (including me) distance themselves from the UFO community. In addition to false hope from the science-fiction entertainment industry, as well as spectacles found only at large-scale UFO conferences, there are several reasons why the UFO community believes that extraterrestrials are behind UFO phenomena. Some of these reasons include:

    1. Questionable interpretations of visual experiences augmented by pseudoscience such as hypnosis.
    2. The testimony of unreliable witnesses.
    3. Inability to separate science fiction from science.
    4. The inclination to believe people who tell fantastic stories.
    5. The naïve belief that all disagreement among sources is part of a worldwide government conspiracy to withhold the truth about UFOs.
    6. A desire for contact with beings from another world.
    7. A belief that extraterrestrials are interested in the welfare of humanity, which either already is, or eventually will become, part of a preexisting civilization.
    Ufology, in short, is now a cult in which belief in extraterrestrials is analogous to belief in the supernatural.

    [​IMG]

    Emotions and Confirmation Bias

    Rather than applying science and logic to defend the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO phenomena, the UFO community addresses the issue through emotions and confirmation bias. Ufologists have a predisposition to favor information, no matter how fantastic, that confirms their beliefs or assumptions. They display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively or when they interpret it in a biased way. This inclination is especially prominent at UFO conferences when emotionally charged stories of alleged alien abductions and government conspiracies are presented. Those who support the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO phenomena, moreover, tend to interpret ambiguous and anecdotal evidence as supporting their existing position. This is often the result of media sound bites, social media, and UFO organizations’ claims that they are “scientific” entities. When confirmation bias is coupled with pareidolia, apophenia, and illusory correlation, the end result is belief perseverance, which contributes to overconfidence and strengthens beliefs even in the face of contrary evidence.

    Lastly, belief in the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO phenomena did not develop into self-validating structures all by themselves. They are the direct result of the UFO community leaders’ often modifying and revising their agenda to conform to the prevailing culture of their memberships. A clear example of this occurred when the UFO community was faced with a serious institutional crisis regarding the U.S. government’s explanation for the 1947 Roswell incident. Rather than accepting the proven fact that the UFO was actually a balloon under the auspices of Project Mogul, the UFO community conveniently resorted to claims of a government cover-up.

    Ufology Is Not a Science

    Science is a systematic enterprise that constructs and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Ufology, however, is not a science, and no research on or investigation of UFOs has provided a testable explanation and prediction. Nevertheless, there is a growing trend in the UFO community to present ufology as a science and a topic that requires urgent response from the government. Many mainstream ufologists as well as speakers at UFO conferences attempt to use fancy words such as quantum mechanics, which should immediately be considered a red flag. Most ufologists are not scientists and are simply invoking a poorly understood branch of science. Quantum mechanics is the science that deals with matter at the level of atomic and subatomic particles; thus, it cannot be applied to the macroscopic world of large physical objects such as UFOs.

    Too often attendees at UFO conferences are perfectly willing to believe the alleged evidence that supposedly proves the UFO hypothesis in their favor, but they steadfastly refuse to consider the overwhelming evidence that contradicts or refutes their claims. In other words, most ufologists cherry-pick the evidence, which is not an allowable option in legitimate science.

    Reliability vs. Credibility

    Every year hundreds of thousands of reports of unusual sightings and alleged abductions flood the Internet and social media. Organizations such as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) inundate the UFO community with reports that thousands of UFOs are being documented each month. If only 1% of these sightings were both reliable and credible, it would appear, on the surface, that at the very least thousands of extraterrestrials are visiting planet Earth. That is not the case.

    From 2010-2017, I conducted a comprehensive analysis of approximately 10,000 sightings reported to MUFON. The analysis concluded, first, that the vast majority of these sightings were reported by the average person and almost never by professional or amateur astronomers, who are trained observers and spend inordinate amounts of time observing the sky. Second, more than 85% of these reports were incomplete, contained inaccurate and ambiguous information, and were not properly vetted under a systematic control system. The reliability of most of these reports, therefore, was questionable at best. I suspect that if a proper case-control system had been in place and the monthly reporting numbers reflected such a process, perhaps only a few dozen reports per year would be forwarded for investigation. In short, most reports of UFO sightings are unreliable, and the numbers routinely published are deceptive.

    From time to time a handful of pilots, military personnel, and police officers did report seeing a UFO. The credibility of these witnesses was taken for granted because of their official titles and/or positions. Unfortunately, however, such reports are too often sensationalized to imply that, because there are no logical explanations for what the officials observed, it must have been an extraterrestrial spacecraft. Regardless of these witnesses’ positions, their reliability can only be established once a thorough Personal Credibility Assessment Investigation on them is completed, which my research found to be rarely conducted.

    Challenges for the UFO Community

    The UFO craze is now part of a modern subculture. Every year thousands of UFO buffs spend millions of dollars to attend UFO conferences and purchase clothing with pictures of little green men, sensationalistic books, and a variety of UFO paraphernalia. Some U.S. cities even sponsor annual parades, such as that at the Annual Roswell UFO Festival in New Mexico.

    In closing, the facts are quite simple. The UFO community’s hypothesis of extraterrestrials is scientifically unsubstantiated conjecture at best. The Observable Universe’s scale, the composition of stars and alleged extraterrestrials’ home planets, the speed of light as applied to interstellar travel, and the hazards of prolonged spaceflight all indicate that technologically advanced, spacefaring civilizations either do not exist, are extinct, or are too far away to detect. That is not to say that other Earth-like planets, or for that matter other planets with complex and/or primitive life, do not exist. Even planets with intelligent life can be common in the universe. Ultimately, however, these assertions are speculation at best because no planets with technologically intelligent life have been detected, yet.


    Antonio Paris - Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) | Twitter

    Plous, Scott (1993). The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. New York: McGraw-Hill.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
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  2. loki467

    loki467 Paranormal Maven

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    ok

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  3. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    The article above is for the most part very good, but I feel that it's important to point out a some serious problems as cited below:
    The ETH is an informal theory for the possible origin for UFOs, not a claim that UFO's are in fact ET. Therefore unless some person ( as an individual ) claims that the ETH is true rather than claiming it's a reasonable possibility, the reasoning is not by definition an argumentum ad ignorantiam. Personally I don't know anyone or any ufologist who claims that UFOs are certainly ET based on the reasoning above. The process whereby the ETH is deemed the best candidate as an explanation is in actuality something called inductive reasoning: Inductive reasoning - Wikipedia
    The above paints an entire field or group of people with the same brush as those who are discredited within the field, thereby creating an unfavorable impression of the field as a whole. This is about as fair-minded as using an example of a witch doctor to paint the whole field of medicine as disreputable. In fact the medical field has literally thousands of examples of fraud and misrepresentation. So let's be fair-minded and factual. This is how USI defines ufology:

    Ufology ( noun )

    Pronunciation: yoo-faw-la-jee

    1. The array of subject matter and activities undertaken in the context of an interest in UFOs, particularly the investigation, study, and analysis of UFO reports.
    Word Origin: A combination of the mid-20th century (1952) acronym 'ufo' + the suffix 'ology' ( adapted from ancient Greek logía denoting a branch of study or knowledge ).

    Encarta defines it this way:

    u·fol·o·gy

    study of UFOs: the study of UFOs, especially the investigation of recorded sightings of them
    I have seen no other common dictionary definition for the word ufology that identifies it as a cult, and therefore characterizing the field of ufology as a cult is not supportable by either logic or evidence. What is supportable is characterizing certain subjects studied by ufologists as cults, e.g. Heaven's Gate, or possibly The Raëlian Movement ( though it has legal status as a religion ). To be clear, these are not examples of ufology per se. They are topics of discussion within ufology. There is a huge difference.
    Again the article is painting the entire field with same brush. There are those within the ufology community who do not conform to the claim above, and therefore it isn't reasonable to use the phrase "ufology community" for such a claim. It may be reasonable however to say something like "Those within the ufology community who fail to apply logic ... etc." It would also be reasonable to identify who those specific members of the ufology community are. Otherwise it's simply hearsay and has no evidentiary value.

    As a concrete example demonstrating the opposite point of view of the article's claim, I personally I advocate the use of critical thinking. Learn the Elements and Standards, and our group has members in over 22 countries. I imagine many more in the ufology community also don't conform to the claim that everyone in the ufology community addresses the issue through emotions and confirmation bias.

    Agreed. Ufology as a field is not a science and can never be a science as it covers too wide a range of pursuits for them all to fall under the scientific method, including many cultural and artistic aspects. However this doesn't mean that it cannot be treated academically, or that certain facets of ufology cannot be treated scientifically ( e.g. the use of astronomy to determine if an object is astronomical ), or that scientifically valid material evidence of UFOs ( alien craft ) won't eventually be obtained.
    Good Points
    While those are reasonable objections to any claim that the ETH has been scientifically proven to be true, they are not reasonable reasons to assume that the ETH is untrue. IMO there are also too many witnesses ( including myself ) who know from their own experience that alien visitation is a reality to reasonably dismiss all sightings as misidentifications, hoaxes, hallucinations, etc.

    NOTE: I don't know if you simply copied the above article or are the author. If you are not the author it would be better in the future to quote a small segment and link to it rather than copy and paste the whole thing. This will avoid copyright infringement. If you plan on using any responses here as a reply to the article elsewhere, please link them back to The Paracast to help drive some of the traffic here.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
  4. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    It is not mine, i've posted down writer's name, Antonio Paris - Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) | Twitter.

    Here is the original The Challenges of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis of UFO Phenomena – The Center for Planetary Science
     
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  5. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
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  6. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    Is this a new conspiracy ? never heard about that before.
     
  7. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    It's at least as old as the late 1960s when Carl Sagan was threatened with banishment from the prestigious Cosmos Club because of his soft stance on UFOs.
     
  8. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    Welcome to 2018. I don't know any science etablishment which forcing people to mock ufology or ignore certain stories, or threatening them if they do so... Today everyone can do whatever they want.
     
  9. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Of course they can.
     
  10. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    Why do you think is necessary to any kind of scientist to "mock" the ufology ?
     
  11. loki467

    loki467 Paranormal Maven

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    Except for Dr. John Mack right?

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  12. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    At least write a reasonable opinion.

    Otherwise stick to smiles.
     
  13. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Easy now folks, lets not make this all personal. Bringing up John Mack is perfectly legitimate.
     
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  14. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Maybe it would be better to ask them. To clarify here, my comment was somewhat flippant with the intent to mildly amuse rather than an absolute statement of fact, but like all humor ( or at least good humor ), there is an element of truth as well. There has been a longstanding tradition within certain circles of the scientific establishment, particularly those with a skeptical bent, that are inline with the Robertson Panel recommendations, and have openly mocked or ridiculed those who are interested in UFOs.

    I already mentioned how Sagan was threatened with social sanctions because of his interest in UFOs, which was a direct response to your question of whether or not it's a recent development. Now you're suggesting that today, "anyone can do anything they want", but I would seriously question whether or not including ufology on your résumé would help to land you a job as Neil deGrasse Tyson's assistant. He's a contemporary scientist noted for mocking ufology publicly. Depending on who one associates with, there may be little resistance, and things are improving. Let's hope the trend continues.
     
  15. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    I don't wanna go into another conpiracy. So yeah...you can easily ask Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) | Twitter.
     
  16. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    We're not talking about a conspiracy, and you're the one who asked the question, so maybe you should ask him. Apart from that, we're discussing the "Challenges of The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis", and how that relates to the article you reproduced here which includes a number of questionable claims and opinions. Therefore the origin and motivation of those views is relevant to the discussion. However, if you'd like to discuss something else, that's fine. I've already dealt with the problems within that particular article anyway. What other challenges do you feel are relevant?
     
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  17. The Starman

    The Starman Paranormal Adept

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    As i'm concerned this article don't relate to scientific establishment. If you think different as you mentioned before, like i said , here is his twitter Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) | Twitter , you can ask himself instead making bogus claims.
     
  18. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    According to the link you provided the author is a Planetary Scientist and Astrophysics Professor, which puts him squarely among the scientific establishment, and the article he wrote just happens to trash ufology. Hmm. You're right. No connection at all. He's thinking purely for himself when he calls ufology a cult right? There's never been any recommendation that UFO witnesses should be ridiculed and nobody has ever feared reporting one because of the harm it might bring to their reputation. So articles like this one are all bogus right? Astronomers and UFOs: A Response to the Lord Martin Rees | HuffPost

    "I am aware of only three attempts to scientifically gauge what percentage of astronomers see UFOs. Two show that not only do astronomers see UFOs in America, but many are afraid to report their sightings because they fear professional and public ridicule."
     
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  19. USI Calgary

    USI Calgary J. Randall Murphy Staff Member

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    Moving on, what other challenges to the ETH are there besides calling ufology a "cult in which belief in extraterrestrials is analogous to belief in the supernatural."? Perhaps an even better question might be: What scientific principle or reasoning eliminates the possibility of alien visitation from another world than our own? Personally I can't think of any challenge that cannot be overcome by a sufficiently advanced technology by a sufficiently evolved species. Maybe you can? Here's another article that is of peripheral relevance: The Folly of Scientism
     
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  20. TDSR

    TDSR Paranormal Maven

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    YOU are by far the laziest forum participant I have ever come across on this platform! Congrats!

    Randall, you fielded this perfectly....Star guy (ish) reminds me of the folks in Geology who shunned tectonic plate theory, essentially the precipitation of "safety in conformity" meaning people who cite others works and posing questions they don't have the creativity or courage to ask themselves, but still wanting to derive a position on the subject. This was also done with anatomy in the 16th century, and even yoga in at the turn of the century before brain scans could validate what practitioners EXPERIENCED for centuries. The ET issue simply does not have the tools available to make definitive judgments.

    BTW- Sagan did not deny the ET theory, he simply cited the lack of evidence, particularly for the ancient astronaut theory, but concluded that archeologist needed to focus more on the topic, i.e. develop the "tools" necessary to validate that particular theory.

    Star guy- you're better off on the flat earth forums....PEACE!

    TDSR
     
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