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"Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"

Posted by Dick 
"Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 06, 2013 09:44AM
I’m bemused that we are smart enough to land an automobile size payload on another planet, but still live in a culture where a significant percentage of people want to believe in implausible if not impossible things. The reality is that intelligence has nothing to do with believing in "weird things" . . . .

Contrary to conventional wisdom, people of all levels of education like to believe in “weird things,” says Michael Shermer of the Skeptical Inquirer. Shermer wrote that people tend to seek or interpret evidence favorable to existing beliefs and ignore or misinterpret evidence unfavorable to those beliefs.

This is no more obvious than in the writings of “creationist scientists” who either reject or grossly misinterpret geological, biological and astronomical data to support their biblical-based belief in an 8,000 year-old universe.

This “confirmation bias” is in real science as well. The classic example is the 1903 discovery of “N-rays” a completely new form of radiation announced by Prosper-René Blondlot. At the time, dozens of other scientists confirmed the existence of N-rays in their own laboratories. But further tests showed that N-rays don’t exist at all.

How could so many scientists be wrong? They deceived themselves into thinking they were seeing something with their instruments that in fact was not there. This came on the heels of Wilhelm Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays and Paul Ulrich Villard’s discovery of gamma rays in the early 1900s. Apparently there was a predisposition to expecting that other invisible forms of radiation must permeate the universe.

Likewise, any two people can see a blob of light in the sky, one thinking it is the planet Venus and the other person predisposed to interpreting it as a space vehicle under alien control. Yes, airline pilots, and law enforcement office see strange things in the heavens too. But this is outside of their sphere of expertise — especially when it comes to astronomical phenomena seen under unusual conditions.

Collectively, UFO stories are a sci-fi inspired projection of how we think space visitors would look and behave. Despite over 60 years of “sightings,” the purported scientific evidence is largely anecdotal and uncorroborated. The Mars Science Lab landing left more physical evidence strewn on the Red Planet than thousands of alleged flying saucers reported over the decades.

I’d say that UFO beliefs are fueled by a “secular theology” where people look for greater meaning to the universe and our relationship with it. The theme is that the aliens flying the UFOs pay attention to us, worry about our misdeeds (as evident in alleged sighting of UFOs hanging around nuclear power plants) and want to help raise us to a higher level of existence. This is simply a post-industrial age version of ages-old stories of visitation by angels, demons, and other imaginary spirits.


[news.discovery.com]
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 06, 2013 10:10PM
Welcome back Dick (if you left - haven't seen you in awhile).

Interesting - however obviously irrelevant piece from some random blogger. Typical uninformed dismissal of evidence - not unlike we get from you and the other naysayers on the board here. Jumping to conclusions based on their own biased and shaded interpretations of the accounts that are out there. Example...

"Yes, airline pilots, and law enforcement office see strange things in the heavens too. But this is outside of their sphere of expertise — especially when it comes to astronomical phenomena seen under unusual conditions."

First off - the nonsensical (if not poetic) "in the heavens" crapola. Pilots have seen UFOs up close to their aircrafts, they have tracked them on radar, they have followed them for miles and miles in the air. Police cars have actually been hit by UFOs leaving physical damage to the vehicles. That is not the same as seeing them "in the heavens" (and being an atheist - shouldn't you be offended by that term anyway?)

Your author is not unlike the scientists he notes who saw evidence that was not there. He has no evidence either - only opinion.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 06, 2013 10:46PM
Indy! Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Police cars have actually been
> hit by UFOs leaving physical damage to the
> vehicles.

Really? If any cop has ever convinced his chief that his patrol car's damage was caused by a UFO, that's one of greatest sell jobs since Mary convinced Joseph that an angel impregnated her. Both stories begin with "you're not going to believe this but..."




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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/2013 10:51PM by Curt Anderson.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 07, 2013 12:07AM
There's video from the dash cam.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 07, 2013 10:14AM
Indy, by "UFO" the author refers to something like the standard definition of UFO, not to its acronymic meaning. He uses "UFO" to refer to an unidentified object allegedly in the sky (and usually at night) considered to have an extraterrestrial origin.

No one believes that everything seen in the sky at night (or during the day on the ground, for that matter) is always identifiable. However, some people, like Ray Villard and me, do believe that those things are very unlikely to have little green men directing them. That's the issue under discussion here.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 07, 2013 10:40PM
Yes Dick - understood. But your author is using the same amorphous "reasoning" you tend to pooh-pooh when it's being used by the other side - the believers. You can't have it both ways. Your author is very clear on where he is "fact"-wise...

"I’d say that UFO beliefs..."

He - like you - is offering an opinion. That is all. You agree. That does not make his opinion correct. It means you agree with him - nothing more. You always seem to have a problem in that regard - distinguishing between "facts" and "opinions" that happen to coincide with yours. They are two different things and carry two very different weights when it comes to proof.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 08, 2013 09:18AM
We have to distinguish here between what is absolutely known and what is believed. In this instance, we're not talking about what is absolutely known to be the case. We're talking about what is most probably the case; that is, what it is that is most rational to believe. And what is most rational to believe is that no craft of extraterrestrial design or creation has ever visited earth's atmosphere.

Why is this the most rational conclusion?

For two reasons basically. First, there is no good evidence of any sort that the earth has been visited by an extraterrestrial being. No physical evidence of any kind is known to exist, which is odd given the number of alleged sightings. What does exist in abundance is anecdotal evidence. Unfortunately for the case presented by ufologists, anecdotal evidence is as weak as evidence gets. On the basis of anecdotal evidence, if consistent, one ought to believe in the existence of gods, ghosts, witches, sea monsters, and all sorts of other unlikely beings and events.

Second, there are many good reasons to believe that the earth hasn't been visited by extraterrestrials, starting with things like the unimaginable vastness of the universe and our own failed attempts at contacting potential extraterrestrial civilizations.

Does any of this mean it's impossible that we've been visited? Of course not, no more so than it's impossible that a couple of milennia ago a man once came back to life after being dead for three days. But, again, we're not talking about what could or might have happened. We're talking about what it is rational to believe has happened.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 04:38AM
Dick Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Second, there are many good reasons to believe
> that the earth hasn't been visited by
> extraterrestrials, starting with things like the
> unimaginable vastness of the universe and our own
> failed attempts at contacting potential
> extraterrestrial civilizations.


LOL! That's the kind of "evidence" the Christians use to prove god "exists". The "unimaginable vastness of the universe" can be used just as easily to prove extraterrestrials most likely DO exist - because we have no idea what is out there or even how much is out there. We DO know there is at least ONE planet with life that is flying in space - so TWO is not so hard to imagine unless you're a totally opinionated, close-minded and biased individual who doesn't want to consider the possibility. The fact we haven't contacted any other races means zero. We can't talk to fish - what makes you think we would be able to communicate with something that doesn't even live on this planet?
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 05:20AM
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 06:17AM
Same sort of silliness. Who has ever suggested that cow mutilations are some kind of other-worldly communication?

Crop circles are made by humans - we know that. The best explanation I've seen for cow mutilation is our own government checking radiation levels in the food chain - the verifiable cases are downwind of nuke sites - toxic waste, nuclear power generators, test sites, etc...
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 04:20PM
Hey guys and gals, good to be back.

I love this topic. I haven’t had time to read the other threads so forgive me if some of the sh*t I’m gonna write has been done to death already.

I’m an agnostic UFO guy. I totally agree with the opinion that Ufology is a secular religion. Like the Mulder poster says “I want to believe.” It’s this sort of sh*t that got me off Catholicism. After I saw “Chariots of the God” and “Close Encounters” at age 10 I knew Yahweh was just an older version of Zeus and Jesus was St Nicolas, a person that was mythologized.

But like Catholicism, the idea that we get regularly visited by Intelligence life is beyond far fetched. Sam knows I’ve looked into this sh*t, it was my new religion as a teenager. And it paralleled with my interested in the historicity of the gospels. In both cases, the evidence is rubbish.

I watched an episode of “Into the Wormhole” recently. You guys might know it. It's hosted by Morgan Freeman; the show gives a good summary of the latest ideas in science and its handling of the big questions. Well this episode was the one on possibility of Extraterrestrial life. But they interviewed hard core scientists in this type of show, and they focused on the extremophiles crew, the SETI guys and gals and the “why the f*ck would they wanna study our backwater species” mob .

They interviewed the gal that was the inspiration for Jodie Foster in Carl Sagan’s “Contact”. She’s been at if for decades, searching the skies, constantly increasing the array of radioscopes to widen her search and all they got to show for 50 years of search is the “WOW incident” of 1977. ET aficionados will know that one

Ivy league and top tier scientist after Ivy league and top tier scientist who were interviewed all agreed, it’s f*cking quiet out there. But they also agree that the SETI program’s problem is that trying to find a radio message from an alien civilization equal or more advance than ours in outer space is like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles in the dark.

There are many excuses from the Ufologist s for the multitude of sightings but the total radio science. Hell you all can list them for me.

But the common one is the alien’s superior tech. Which doesn’t’ make sense.
If aliens wanted us to know about them , they’ve radioed it in a long time ago. Why not contact Carl Sagan instead of some second rate horror writer. Why not appear in front of
Stephen Hawking instead of some second rate pilot or army colonel or astronaut.

Yet despite all the scientific skepticism we're still spending millions of man hours and dollars searching and waiting for a f*cking message. But still zilch.

Of course this lack of certainty leaves it opens for a plethora of the totally unsupported unproven hypothesizes. (Don’t get me wrong I love hypothesizing. It’s like being a glorified science fiction writer, which is an honorable thing) Well sure there’s a lot of anecdotally evidence but very little unexplainable video footage and photographs and non existent physical evidence but that just doesn’t cut. Sorry it doesn’t.

Dick is right. The “size of the universe” defense is a difficult one to argue against. Don’t get me wrong, I know that intelligence life besides us existed, exists or will exist. But mate… intelligence life equal or more advanced than our” intelligent civilization” is as rare as Unobtainium. There was or may be or will be a total of half a dozen. Max. In my opinion. Drake’s formula is flawed. Why?

Cause as far as we know… life is mother*cking rare. And the chances that Intelligence life out there survived long enough to conquer the speed of light or bend space is next to impossible.

We only have ourselves as a reference, and because of that you have very little choice but to be a skeptic, if you know anything about the history of our blue marble that is. Remember intelligent life on earth is a fluke. One big f*cking fluke.

Life on earth has nearly been wasted half a dozen times and Homo sapiens was almost toast 75000 years ago.
And the way we’re going it’s a 50/50 change will make another 500 years, the time we need to discover a new physics to help us travel the stars. And if we get wasted our planet got only another billion years to come up with something new.

So we have to make the educated guess, if it’s tough for us it's probably just as tough everywhere and in everytime.

However there are couple of UFO incidences that have me stumped. But that’s for another thread.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 06:02PM
With every post Indy makes, he makes Dick's point for him. What's sad is that he probably can't see it.

============================================================================

*Sanders 2016*

"And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through"
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 07:04PM
I would wholeheartedly agree with you, Sardonicus IF you could show me a single post of mine where I claimed aliens have visited this earth. If you can't, it means you - like Dick - have a serious reading comprehension problem.
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 09:26PM
eye rolling smiley

So you're saying you explicitly DON'T believe aliens have ever visited earth?

============================================================================

*Sanders 2016*

"And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through"
Re: "Why Do People Believe in UFOs?"
December 09, 2013 10:00PM
Indy wrote: LOL! That's the kind of "evidence" the Christians use to prove god "exists". The "unimaginable vastness of the universe" can be used just as easily to prove extraterrestrials most likely DO exist - because we have no idea what is out there or even how much is out there. We DO know there is at least ONE planet with life that is flying in space - so TWO is not so hard to imagine unless you're a totally opinionated, close-minded and biased individual who doesn't want to consider the possibility.

If the question were "Is it more likely than not that extraterrestrial life exists?" you'd be right. Unfortunately, that's not the question. [FWIW, it's pretty evident to most people that extraterrestrial life probably does exist.]

The question is: "Do we have good evidence to support a belief that exraterrestrial life has visited earth?"

What you apparently fail to realize is that the vastness of the universe, both dimensionally and age-wise, adequately explains the fact that we have no real evidence that aliens, even if the universe is teeming with life, have visited our little planet.

PS As almost always is necessary when replying to you, Indy, I have to point out that raw possibility is totally uninteresting because anything non-contradictory is logically possible. What is interesting are events that have probability beyond mere uninteresting possibility. It's possible that the cow jumped over the moon and that the dish ran away with the spoon -- but since it's almost certainly the case that this did not actually happen, nothing could be more boring from a reality-based view of the world. The only thing that's interesting about such imagery lies in its poetic value. Do you want to continue to talk about fairytales or would you like to begin to talk about reality?
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