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About this week’s eSkeptic

In this week’s eSkeptic, George Michael and Robert Sheaffer have one last kick at the UFO can in this, the final segment of the dialogue that has happened over the past two weeks. Today, we present George Michael’s response to Robert Sheaffer’s rebuttal, followed by the last word from Robert Sheaffer.

For those of you who missed George Michael’s original review of UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record you can read it in eSkeptic from March 28.

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Reply to Robert Sheaffer

by George Michael

In last week’s eSkeptic, Robert Sheaffer lamented that I gave Leslie Kean’s book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record what he sees as an uncritical review. He seems to suggest that I am not qualified to review her book insofar as I am not adequately acquainted with so-called “debunker” literature that dismisses UFO claims.

His core criticism centers on my recounting of the alleged UFO sightings described in Kean’s book. Specifically, he cites the 1980 incidents at Rendlesham Forest in England during which several U.S. airmen were said to have reported seeing a triangular-shaped metallic craft moving near an airbase. For Kean’s book, two of the alleged witnesses, then Sergeant James Penniston and now retired Colonel Charles I. Hart, recount their experiences in detail in which they claim they saw an object that they suggest was extraterrestrial in origin. For his part, Sheaffer chides me for my lack of research into the matter, quoting a UFO skeptic, Ian Ridpath, who commented that if I had taken even a “glance at Wikipedia,” I would have found numerous explanations for the incidents, which in fact, I did. Some explanations attributed the sightings to a nearby lighthouse, while others attributed them to a meteor, and still another to a policeman who played a hoax on the credulous airmen. Case closed? Perhaps. But I’m in the unenviable position of figuring out which explanation is true. It seems that there is no consensus among those who seek to debunk this case.

But from my perspective, what truly happened during one particular incident, such as Rendlesham Forest, really misses the main point of Kean’s book. Contrary to what Sheaffer might believe, I am not entirely convinced of the authenticity of each and every UFO case detailed in her book, for example, the Hudson Valley wave of 1982. Sheaffer fails to address the distinguishing quality of Kean book. That is, she relies upon numerous seemingly credible people to make her case that there is something real behind UFO sightings rather than hoaxes and misidentifications that can be attributed to earthly sources. From what I can infer, her subjects did not provide her with off-the-cuff interviews that they might have later regretted. Rather, they provided lengthy, detailed, and seemingly considered accounts of their experiences and thoughts on UFOs. Her sources are not anonymous persons whom she refuses to identify or shadowy figures in the style of “Carlos Allende” who did much to create the legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. Rather, her subjects included retired high-ranking military officers, former prominent government officials, respected pilots, research scientists, and a former two-term Arizona governor. Now, some UFO claimants might find my preference for public figures as sources to be elitist; however, it’s far easier to ascertain their credibility and these are the people on whom Kean relies. Although Sheaffer disparages the “academic rigor” that I ascribe to Kean’s book, I stand by this characterization.

Despite the impressive case that Kean makes, I made it clear that the burden of proof is still on the UFO claimants insofar as smoking gun evidence has yet to be adduced. And as I explained near the end of the review, I find it well-nigh impossible that the U.S. government could maintain a conspiracy of silence if it indeed had solid information on the extraterrestrial origins of UFOs. Something of such earth-shaking significance would be hard to conceal or ignore for so long. Nevertheless, I think Kean has made a case for UFOs that merits more research into the matter.

Please keep in mind that skepticism cuts both ways. While it is important to question the veracity of UFO claims, the prospect of UFOs (of extraterrestrial origin) should not be categorically dismissed either. Are we to believe that Ms. Kean is so persuasive, that she was able to get all of her subjects to go on the record and publicly lie for her so she could publish a book? Or, were they hoping to launch their own careers on the UFO lecture circuit? Perhaps a few, but I doubt if that is what most of them had in mind. For those who question the reliability of Kean, they will have to impugn her subjects as well, who after all, wrote approximately half of her book.

Response to George Michael

by Robert Sheaffer

I find it very interesting, Mr. Michael, that you refer to the “so-called ‘debunker’ literature that dismisses UFO claims.” That is the kind of terminology we hear from hard-core UFO proponents like Stanton Friedman, but is rather surprising here. I would have called it “the skeptical literature, that critically examines UFO claims.” No, the problem is not your unfamiliarity with said literature. It is your failure to recognize that it even exists, or might have any valid inputs whatsoever. Most pro-UFOlogists do exactly that, saving themselves the trouble of having to read it. Some of the better pro-UFO writers, for example Kevin Randle, will deal with the skeptical literature in at least a perfunctory way. He will write something like “Klass says this is a hoax…”, and then go on to explain why he thinks Klass is wrong. And this is fine. But Leslie Kean does not do this. She cannot have all those “unexplained” cases unless she completely ignores the carefully-reasoned published explanations of those same cases by skeptics, whose writings have at least until now been pretty highly-regarded in skeptical publications.

Let me make it clear that I am by no means suggesting 100% acceptance of the explanations of UFO cases published by Philip J. Klass or anyone else. I do have some important differences with Klass’ explanations of a few major cases. Still, I would say that Klass’ explanations were at least 80% correct, and a great deal of investigation is underway today concerning any perceived loose ends.

I’m glad, Mr. Michael, that you’ve chosen Rendlesham to make your stand, because it is here we find one of the widest divergences between the Kean Version, and reality. You write, “then Sergeant James Penniston and now retired Colonel Charles I. Halt, recount their experiences in detail in which they claim they saw an object that they suggest was extraterrestrial in origin.” Mr. Michael, did you realize that James Penniston told Ancient Aliens on the History Channel of telepathically receiving a binary message from the craft (Google it!), whose occupants are, he says, “time travelers”? Do you accept this claim (a claim that wasn’t made until decades after the event)? As for Charles Halt, in 2010 he wrote an affidavit hugely contradicting his original memo of 1980. For example, he now says that the UFO flew directly over him, “stopped over head and sent down a small pencil like beam, sort of like a laser beam,” a detail completely lacking in his original memo and tape, which tells only of lights in the sky at a low ten-degree elevation. Do you still think we should accept Halt’s claim to have seen an extraterrestrial craft?

As for the Wikipedia entry on Rendlesham, you write “Some explanations attributed the sightings to a nearby lighthouse, while others attributed them to a meteor, and still another to a policeman who played a hoax on the credulous airmen… It seems that there is no consensus among those who seek to debunk this case.” You really need to read that more carefully. The event was due to misinterpretation of a series of nocturnal lights—a fireball, the Orford Ness lighthouse and bright stars—by different persons at different times. (The “policeman’s hoax” claim has been withdrawn.) When local UFO excitement gets strong enough, every light in the sky becomes an extraterrestrial craft. There is no controversy among skeptics as to who saw what, when, at Rendlesham.

“Are we to believe that Ms. Kean is so persuasive, that she was able to get all of her subjects to go on the record and publicly lie for her so she could publish a book?” Don’t be absurd, Mr. Michael! Very few of the cases in Kean’s book are new—most of them were first published decades ago. Her contribution was merely to dust them off, and get a new narrative from the person(s) involved. While some like Penniston and Halt are obviously UFO opportunists, the great majority of people reporting encounters with extraordinary flying objects are perfectly sincere. And high-status persons are not automatically better witnesses than ordinary ones, as Kean seems to think. In fact, Project Blue Book’s scientific UFO consultant, J. Allen Hynek, wrote, “Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses”—a fact Kean conceals from her readers, while quoting other pages of that same book.

Finally, you suggest that “the prospect of UFOs (of extraterrestrial origin) should not be categorically dismissed either.” Unfortunately, that places us in the position of dismissing either these UFO sighting reports, or the laws of physics. “A spacecraft can generate thrust only by expelling mass…Reported UFOs cannot be under extraterrestrial control if the laws of physics are valid”—William Markowitz, “Physics and Metaphysics of Unidentified Flying Objects,” (Science, 157, 1274–79). The motto of the Royal Society of London, the world’s first scientific body (founded in 1660), is nullius in verba—“take nobody’s word for it.” Especially uncorroborated stories that contradict known laws of physics.

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Lecture at Caltech this Sunday

Born Believers: The Science of Children's Religious Belief (book cover)
Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief

with Dr. Justin Barrett
Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 2 pm
Baxter Lecture Hall

FROM A NOTED DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGIST and anthropologist at Oxford University, this fascinating theory about the value of religious faith posits that we are all predisposed to believe in God from birth. We are all Born Believers, explains Professor Justin L. Barrett. It begins in the brain. Infants, under the sway of powerful internal and external forces, make sense of their environments by imagining a creative and intelligent agent, a grand controller who makes the sun shine and the night fall. In the chaos of childhood, where so much is out of the child’s control, this belief in a morally good creator can bring tremendous comfort and calm. A child’s world is then filled with beings who intentionally act upon the environment, maintaining order. Summarizing scientific experiments conducted with children across the globe, Professor Barrett illustrates the ways human beings have come to develop complex belief systems about God’s omniscience, the afterlife, and the immortality of deities. He shows how the science of childhood religiosity reveals, across humanity, a “Natural Religion.”

TICKETS are first come, first served at the door. Seating is limited. $8 for Skeptics Society members and the JPL/Caltech community, $10 for nonmembers. Your admission fee is a donation that pays for our lecture expenses.

Followed by…

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior
with Dr. Leonard Mlodinow
Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 2 pm

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The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012: July 14-17, Las Vegas, Southpoint Hotel and Casino

THE AMAZ!NG MEETING (TAM) is an annual celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking. People from all over the world come to TAM each year to share learning, laughs and the skeptical perspective with their fellow skeptics and a host of distinguished guest speakers and panelists.

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39 Comments »

39 Comments

  1. Jean-Michel Abrassart says:

    Hello,

    I’m fully on the side of Robert Sheaffer on this debate. George Michael doesn’t seem to me to be a skeptic of the UFO phenomena. His first article was just terrible, and here he’s just digging more in the same hole. Calling the skeptical litterature the “so-called debunker literature that dismisses UFO claims” is very telling, as Sheaffer points out. I really wonder why the Skeptic Society published an article from him in the first place.

    To go back to his first article (note: I’m belgian), it included a little bit of information about the belgian UFO wave that is the fruit of the misinformation by the belgian UFO group SOBEPS. That Kean’s book include this information without any critics from it is not at all surprising. That an article published by the Skeptical Society reproduces that information as fact is really troublesome. I have published with other belgian skeptics several criticism of the work done by the SOBEPS about the belgian UFO wave, even in English. Everybody interrested can find it in the excellent webzine edited by Tim Printy, SUNLite (for exemple one of my own article is in vol. 2, num. 6, p. 21-23).

    George Michael doesn’t mention any of this skeptical takes about the belgian UFO wave. It’s just another exemple. George Michael’s article wasn’t a skeptical article about the UFO phenomena. It shoudn’t have been published by the Skeptical Society in the first place.

    Kudos for Robert Sheaffer for reacting quickly and challenging George Michael’s claims.

    Sincerelly,

  2. Dr. Sidethink Hp. D. says:

    I would like to see this topic continued on another venue.
    This is the third week in a row about what is essentially a non-issue, namely the criticism of the skeptical style of of the original article.

    There are other issues needing attention , particularly in view of the 2012 Scopes situation being again resurrected in Tennessee under the guise of the Academic Freedom to dilute the teaching of Science and replace it with Religious syncretism.

    RJP

    • Jay says:

      I second this. After all, I signed up for science, not science fiction. In the latter area, there are much better things to read than these last few articles, aren’t there?

  3. Kristen Lance says:

    Skeptics are so funny. Absolutely the most negative creature in creation.

    • Liam McDaid says:

      …and that students, is an excellent example of the fallacy of argument known as a Non Sequitur…

  4. Lou Renner says:

    FWIW, William Markowitz’s claim that “A spacecraft can generate thrust only by expelling mass…Reported UFOs cannot be under extraterrestrial control if the laws of physics are valid” may be invalid.

    I was on a panel with 3 MIT physicists who are trying to make a working model of a theoretical propulsion system that involves manipulating electrical current to, basically, create magnetic repulsion with only one magnet (instead of having a 2nd magnet to “push against”).

    While I don’t believe that extraterrestrials are visiting us, it’s important to consider that some of our explanations for debunking alien visitation may only be a limitation of our current knowledge and technology.

    • Robert Sheaffer says:

      Lou,

      Such ‘electro-propulsion’ claims have been around for a long time. The crank physicist T. Townsend Brown (who founded NICAP) claimed to have discovered such an effect in the 1950s. His followers are still claiming it exists, but nobody can demonstrate it.

      The important thing to remember is: whatever these MIT phyiscists might say, current physical theories say it’s not possible to magnetically push against a hypothetical magnet. So until they can actually demonstrate it, all they have are words (“verba”), and remember that science operates using “nullius in verba.”

      • Bad Boy Scientist says:

        I am a big fan of Mr Sheaffer, but I gotta side with Lou on this one: Markowitz’s assertion isn’t a very strong argument (it’s kinda an appeal to ignore). In fact, it is wrong in that it overlooks the effect of radiation pressure which definitely affects interplanetary spacecraft and can be used to generate thrust via solar sails.

        The limitations of propellent based propulsion have been long studied and NASA even ran a “Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project” for a few years with the goal of identifying potential propellentless propulsion systems.

        Is it technically feasible that some type of propulsion system could be built to convey us to other stars? Who knows? But statements like Markowitz’s contribute to the poor reputation that Skeptics have.

      • Dr. Strangelove says:

        Robert,

        I don’t dismiss UFOs as ET because they might violate the laws of physics. Seth Shostak of SETI had a simpler argument, you have to first demonstrate that they are here before I worry about how they got here. Seeing strange lights in the sky doesn’t mean we are being visited by alien beings from other stars. Do we need to invent new physics to explain strange lights? No. But you need new physics if you desperately want to believe alien beings are here in the absence of evidence.

        Isn’t it telling that astronomers who spend a lot of time looking at the sky don’t report seeing alien beings? To me, this indicates that UFOlogy is driven more by ignorance and belief than careful observation and fact.

  5. SunMesa says:

    UFOs under extraterrestrial control is a violation of physical law? Seriously? Does anyone think that even rises to the level of an argument, let alone a reason to dismiss UFO reports in general? Take a break Robert.

    • Robert Sheaffer says:

      Markowitz goes into all of the absurd things that would have to be true for reported UFOs to actually be ET vehicles, and concludes it’s not possible unless the laws of motion, gravitation, etc. are invalid. This paper was in Science, which means, heavy peer review.

      • SunMesa says:

        My sympathies for Markowitz.

        First consider that, if ET civilizations are not somehow supernaturally precluded from existing at all, MOST of them are vastly older than ourselves. Now give some thought to how much of our current body of physics would have been considered a fundamental ‘violation’ of physical law as recently as 150 yrs ago.

        Do you really suppose we’re in any position to constrain the likelihood of ET visitation based on our current understanding of physics?

        • Robert Sheaffer says:

          Maybe future technologies will be able to do things that we can only dream about today. Like develop a flying broom similar to the one that Harry Potter uses to play Quidditch.

          Or maybe future technologies will be just as limited by fundamental laws as we are.

          • john m. says:

            Mr. Sheaffer, you dismiss the technological feasibility of UFO stories since they are “uncorroborated stories that contradict known laws of physics…”

            Maybe it was just sloppy writing, but you’re exactly right when you chose the phrase “known laws physics” because there is still a whole lot of unknown about the universe.

            Just last week in the Guardian there was this comment from a British scientist studying gravitational waves:

            “We are going to create a new kind of astronomy…..until now, everything we have learned about the universe has been based on studies of electromagnetic radiation – from infrared to visible light to gamma ray detection. Gravity waves will create a completely new type of astronomy.”

            Science is indeed a work in progress – especially our so called “laws of physics”. If they weren’t in flux, why would scientists even bother studying them anymore. I mean they’re “laws” aren’t they?

            Are aliens visiting us? No, there is no smoking gun proof. But is it possible that an alien intelligence has learned a bit more about how the Universe works and managed to use it for interstellar space travel? Of course. Only the most stubborn and unimaginative among us would deny this as a possibility.

  6. Lance Moody says:

    George Michael again demonstrates his lack of knowledge about various UFO cases and the way true believers twist the facts to support their saucer religion.

    The staff of eSkeptic owe readers an apology for the first article, which was completely uncritical of the paranormal claims made within.

    Kean has been exposed on many occasions as a ridiculously gullible and undiscerning UFO believer. Most amusing was a recent Facebook post in which she lovingly held a photograph of a supposed Belgian UFO, calling it the UFO Holy Grail (or something like that). Unfortunately for Kean, the photographer shortly thereafter admitted that the photo was a hoax.

    As one might expect from a true believer, this denouement doesn’t seem to have triggered any sort of introspection or doubt. Kean just moves on to the next dubious case. She recently published a widely-read article that wholeheartedly supports UFO video that almost certainly shows, not visitors from another world, but insects and birds.

    George Michael can be forgiven for not knowing what he is talking about (even after doubling down, exposing further confusion in his response above). But I sure do wish that eSkeptic has shown some level of editorial discretion in the first place.

    Lance

  7. Nathan T says:

    There is no strong physical evidence that UFO’s are extraterrestrial, with that said there is no evidence that they are not. When we ASSume we tend to only make an ass out of ourselves. It is just as wrong for a skeptic to claim that it is impossible for UFO’s to be extraterrestrial in nature as it is for a believer to claim that they are extraterrestrial there is simply no proof for or against it.

    We must remember the things science once claimed to be impossible such as Lord Kelvin claiming heavier than air vehicles are impossible a mere 8 years prior to the wright brothers taking flight at kitty hawk. Some of Lord Kelvins other false claims was that X-rays were a hoax and that radio was impractical. Science must look at any endeavor it undertakes with an open mind with no preconceived notions for or against it even if that should mean the findings invalidate what was once believed so strongly to be fact.

    • Dwaine Sharpe says:

      Nathan T; Allow me to correct your misconceptions about what real skeptics think:

      There’s no evidence there are real “UFOs” of any kind at all–there are only innumerable, insubstantial and wholly inconsequential “UFO” reports. Simply because someone reports they failed to identify a visual stimulus doesn’t mean they’ve seen something extraordinary. The idea, the irrational false belief, that they must have seen an extraordinary universal unknown–a “UFO”–is known as the “UFO” myth.

      However astronomically implausible it might be, scientific skeptics don’t assume it’s impossible for hypothetical ET to visit the Earth. It’s just that ET visitatation is the least likely, the unnecessary hypothesis for “UFO” reports, the mere failure to identify. There are much simpler, very well understood, historical and psychological explanations not just for all the varieties of reports people make, but for why people make “UFO” reports at all.

  8. Colin Hall says:

    Many of the reported UFO sightings concern lights in the sky. Having seen such lights myself (together with my wife on one occasion), I am convinced such phenomena exist and that they are not always explicable in conventional terms. However, as a skeptic, I fail to see why unexplained light phenomena in the sky must by their very existence be of extra-terrestrial origin. I call them WTF-lights, because that is the reaction of most people who see them, but there is no evidence they are anything other than inexplicable (so far) light phenomena. The fundamental mistake most people make is to attribute material quality to these phenomena, thus making their behaviour occasionally appear to violate the laws of physics. If they are in fact only lights, then they are of course capable of the most amazing apparent maneuvers, without violating any physical laws. Can we agree on that?

    • john m. says:

      yes! well said. and this is essentially leslie kean’s position. aliens? not important. what is important is there are indeed incidents of objects which have been visually sighted as well as tracked on both ground and air radar which display capabilities that are worth scientific attention.

  9. ~C4Chaos says:

    great back and forth between skeptics. but i’m with George Michael on this one.

    IMHO, the basic question about UFOs is not whether they’re real or not.
    from a historical perspective, this question has been settled.
    the next logical question to ask is, whatever it is: is it ours or “theirs”?

    this 2005 presentation by Richard Dolan is a good historical primer on this topic for believers and skeptics alike.

    Richard Dolan – Ours or Theirs: A Basic Question About UFOs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FX10t5vtRI

  10. Tim Hebert says:

    C4chaos said,

    “IMHO, the basic question about UFOs is not whether they’re real or not.
    from a historical perspective, this question has been settled…”

    Could you elaborate more on what and how this question has been settled? It may very well be “ours” in the form of secret military flights…as far as theirs…

  11. ~C4Chaos says:

    Tim,

    thanks for the response.

    first of, when i said “settled”, i meant that the UFO phenomenon is real — meaning that this phenomenon has been (and still is) documented by the military — there are incontestable evidence (e.g. documents retrieved via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)) that the military took (and is still taking) this phenomenon seriously. [you can start here: http://keyholepublishing.com/Leading-UFO-Documents.html )

    Leslie Kean’s book is just the latest journalistic effort to bring this topic into mainstream attention and call for a *transparent* scientific investigation. that’s why i give kudos to Leslie Kean for walking the fine line. i think that that is the essence of George Michael’s treatment of this topic as well.

    ~C

  12. Dwaine Sharpe says:

    …keyholepublishing.com/Leading-UFO-Documents…

    He quickly glanced at a list of supposedly “unexplained” cases given by Dolan, and immediately pulled out a dozen he knew have been repeated explained by skeptics.

    • ~C4Chaos says:

      Dwaine,

      you said: “He quickly glanced at a list of supposedly “unexplained” cases given by Dolan, and immediately pulled out a dozen he knew have been repeated explained by skeptics.”

      yeah, sure, show me who are the skeptics who have “repeated explained” these cases that you mention, as far as i know even the skeptics and debunkers have no consensus on this matter. just because a noted skpetic offered an *opinion* does not automatically make a valid and sound explanation.

      btw, those 12 documents are just *some* of the evidence from a historical perspective. i happen to own two volumes of Richard Dolan’s, “UFOs and the National Security State” each volume being more than 500 pages of historical documentation of UFO cases. instead of “quickly glancing” you might try the tested art of *reading*.

      ~C

      • Dwaine Sharpe says:

        Paraphrasing a quote on Oberg’s assessment of Kean’s “fundamentally flawed” book:
        || He quickly glanced at a list of supposedly “unexplained” cases given by Dolan, and immediately pulled out a dozen he knew have been repeatedly explained by skeptics.||

        C4C; As with Dolan’s list, most “UFO” Believers’ lists of “best” cases are composed of many of the same purportedly unexplained cases that have, in fact, been repeatedly and thoroughly explained for decades. That Believers in the “UFO” myth and delusion refuse to accept these explanations is completely inconsequential, as are the reports themselves.

        Most unlike any “real UFOs,” these explanations exist as objective facts in the world for anyone to judge; and the disbelieving world has judged that there are no “real UFOs.” After a century of “UFO” reports, there are no “UFO” facts, only flying-saucer fairy tales.

        If the case for a real “UFO” phenomenon were as sound as you claim, then why would Dolan, Kean and others depend on these same old long-destroyed flying-saucer fairy tales? Why would they all still be so desperately in search of that one indisputable bit of evidence? Why would Dolan be spinning a delusional “UFO” conspiracy world? And why would Kean be so ridiculously grasping at a hokey video in which she imagines flying insects are ET “flying saucers?”

        C4C, the pseudoscience of ufoolery is history already–belief in the myth is close behind.

        • ~C4Chaos says:

          Dwaine,

          you said: “After a century of “UFO” reports, there are no “UFO” facts, only flying-saucer fairy tales.”

          um, you obviously, haven’t done your homework. try again. and let’s talk when you have something more of substance to say about this topic.

          “If the case for a real “UFO” phenomenon were as sound as you claim, then why would Dolan, Kean and others depend on these same old long-destroyed flying-saucer fairy tales?”

          it’s easy to call those strong cases “fairy tales” when you don’t even cite a source that fully explains those strong cases. the devil is in the details.

          “C4C, the pseudoscience of ufoolery is history already–belief in the myth is close behind.”

          um. so far, you haven’t given an iota of counters to the strong cases. only labels. which tells me that you have nothing except your own pseudo-skeptical bias.

          bottom line: it seems like your skeptical argument is limited to *para-phrasing*. how convenient.

          and oh, that Oberg article? Leslie Kean has a good rebuttal to that!

          “Skeptic misses point behind UFO book”
          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38977500/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/skeptic-misses-point-behind-ufo-book/

          ~C

          • Dwaine Sharpe says:

            No problem, C4C, ignoring real-world explanations–freely available to anyone–and wallowing in the accumulated “UFO” mythology of fairy tales, hoaxes, lies and flies on videotape is exactly what adults expect from kids lost inside the flying-saucer funhouse.

  13. Tim Hebert says:

    C4Choas,

    I’m not totally familiar with all of Ms. Kean’s book content (I’ve not read it) so I’ll let those who have criticize or support her thesis. With regards to documents that have been released due to FOIA, care must be rendered as far as how those documents are interpreted vs. that of what is actually stated.

    I’ve been researching the Malmstrom 1967 UFO events and using the same FOIA documents have reached an alternative opinion of what the UFO proponents alleged happened. I’m a former SAC missile crew commander and staff officer looking at the official documents (those that are available) and see the data in a different context based on the Minuteman weapon system command and control system. In short, not all FOIA documents provide incontestable evidence of the UFO phenomena, though there are some who believe so. Eye of the beholder?

    Best regards,
    Tim

    • ~C4Chaos says:

      Tim,

      you said: “With regards to documents that have been released due to FOIA, care must be rendered as far as how those documents are interpreted vs. that of what is actually stated.”

      great point. and i agree! FOAI documents are just pieces of the puzzle and must be treated as such from a bigger perspective. interpretation plays an important part as well. i believe that authors like Kean and Dolan have treated these kinds of evidence with utmost care. short of a smoking gun, we have to take all the *strong* evidences into consideration (e.g. multiple credible eye-witness accounts, radar data, physical traces, archival documents, etc.). and based on these publicly available materials, the *heuristic* evidence points to the fact that UFOs are genuine phenomena. so the question is: who or what is behind the phenomenon?

      btw, good to know that you’re one of few people who are actually doing the hard work and not just taking the words, at face value, of notable skeptics :)

      ~C

    • ~C4Chaos says:

      Tim,

      P.S. i’m interested to know what your “alternative opinion” is on the Malmstrom 1967 UFO events. i hope it’s ok for you to share it on this public space. i’d like looking at different perspectives, especially coming from an *informed* skepticism.

      ~C

      • Tim Hebert says:

        The Echo Flight incident was thought to be, by the principle, “ear” witness, a practical joke. All official documentation and emails from the launch crew on duty dispute the UFO causation. After 45 years, no eye witness has ever come forward or had been identified by name. BTW, there were numerous UFO rumors, yet no one saw anything, only heard through unknown/unidentified secondary and tertiary sources.

        The analysis of Robert Salas Oscar Flight shutdown is currently ongoing, but portions of it are posted on my blog site.

        The bulk of my work can be accessed at http://www.timhebert.blogspot.com/

        As far as being labeled as an “informed” skeptic, you should know that there are those that think differently. Anyway, have a look, all of my analysis can be accessed on the site.

        Regards,
        Tim

        • ~C4Chaos says:

          Tim,

          thanks for sharing! i’ll definitely look into it and add your work to my evolving perspective on UFOs.

          as far as *informed* skepticism is concerned, i make a distinction between *informed* skepticism as opposed to *pseudo* skepticism.
          i have more respect for people who actually do the hard work of digging and tackling fringe subjects (e.g. ufology) compared to notable skeptics who make their proclamations without doing further investigation.

          ~C

        • ~C4Chaos says:

          Tim,

          btw, I also found this article by Dolan on the Malmstrom case. here’s the excerpt from his conclusion:

          “Declassified U.S. government documents do not explicitly support the scenario that a UFO hovered over any of Malmstrom’s Flights in 1967. Moreover, I will say that what happened at the Echo Flight is not a 100 percent certain thing. Hastings and Salas have argued that this was a UFO-related event. All I can say about that is, I believe this is probably the case. However, without fully credited documentary evidence, one can still argue that this was not a UFO event, despite one declassified document confirming that the missiles there did go off line.”

          http://www.afterdisclosure.com/2010/09/malmstrom-analysis.html

          the devil is indeed in the details.

          ~C

  14. ~C4Chaos says:

    btw, interesting article from De Void on this skeptic vs. skeptic saga on Leslie Kean’s UFO book. ~ http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/12935/kicking-the-hornets-nest/

    “Unfortunately, the concept of alternative perspectives was as alien and disruptive to eSkeptic readers as a tossed Coke bottle to Stone Age bushmen.”

    LOL. that is all.

    ~C

  15. ~C4Chaos says:

    btw, this is much interesting than the Chilean UFO. happy debunking! :)

    UFO Forensic Analysis, Photos, Korea 2012 (UPDATED) | Veterans Today ~ http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/04/15/ufo-forensic-analysis-photos-korea-2012/

  16. john m. says:

    Mr. Sheaffer, you dismiss the technological feasibility of UFO stories since they are “uncorroborated stories that contradict known laws of physics…”

    Maybe it was just sloppy writing, but you’re exactly right when you chose the phrase “contradict known laws physics” because there is a whole lot of unknown about the universe.

    Just last week in the Guardian there was this comment from a British scientist studying gravitational waves:

    “We are going to create a new kind of astronomy…..until now, everything we have learned about the universe has been based on studies of electromagnetic radiation – from infrared to visible light to gamma ray detection. Gravity waves will create a completely new type of astronomy.”

    Science is indeed a work in progress – especially our so called “laws of physics”. If they weren’t, why would scientists even bother studying them anymore. I mean they’re “laws” aren’t they?

    Are aliens visiting us? No, there is no smoking gun proof. But is it possible that an alien intelligence has learned a bit more about how the Universe works and managed to use it for interstellar space travel? Of course. Only the most stubborn and unimaginative among us would deny this as a possibility.

  17. Burberry Outlet says:

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  18. Dawit Tesfazghi Ghebrmedhin says:

    If it takes 8 years to reach UFO at the speed of light 99% it is better off to send/communicate with radio signal which satisfies the aim I hope & think so.

  19. Ben Brung says:

    I think it’s healthy for a true skeptic to question what Kean offers as evidence, her credibility and whether she has a positional agenda. To be fair, though, she repeatedly talks about a lack of any scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life and her thesis (repeated ad naseum) is that we should improve conditions to allow for a scientific investigation to take place. Whether that is just a hook to sell books, that seems a pretty rational position at this point for a skeptic to consider.

    The evidence you offer, however, suffers from the same malady. As far as I can tell, Phillip J. Klass’s evidence was also not subjected to the scientific method and peer review. Additionally, in the second paragraph of your writing that you linked you characterize Kean as, “widely known as the radical radio voice of the Peoples’ Republic of Berkeley.” Dude, seriously? If you’re going to put yourself forth as an arbiter what’s appropriate for a publication catering to skeptics, can you at least make me work a little bit harder to identify your fallacious arguments.

    Character assassination muddies the water just as much as unfounded claims. Even though the burden of proof falls on the positive assertion, skeptics need to have an equally high bar for all evidence offered – especially when the core argument is about whether the scientific method should be rigorously applied. I’m not dismissing your overall position, I’m just skeptical of your skepticism.

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