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Skeptical Info Overload

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posted on Nov, 2 2005 @ 11:56 PM
I decided to compile a little reading on skeptics and general UFO skepticism My goal is to look into any general concepts that all skeptics seem to have, what is being talked about by the skeptics and generally why they remain so. I hope to dabble here and there, so if I ramble and go off topic forgive me. This is a thread I created over time.

First off, lets get to know some popular skeptics.

Philip J. Klass
Interview with him:

Philip Julian Klass (November 8, 1919–August 9, 2005) was born in Des Moines, Iowa and died in Merritt Island, Florida. He was an electrical engineer by training, and also a journalist, but he is probably best known as a leading debunker of UFOs, arguing especially against the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
In the ufological and skeptical communities, Klass tends to inspire strongly polarized appraisals. Klass has been called the "Sherlock Holmes of UFOlogy" by supporters. And in a 1999 interview, fellow debunker Gary Posner wrote that despite some recent health problems, the 80 year-old "Klass's mind -- and pen -- remain razor sharp, to the delight of his grateful followers and to the constant vexation (or worse) of his legions of detractors."
However, Klass' critics have accused him of using pseudoscience explanations and propaganda techniques to advance his anti-UFO arguments. He has also been accused of being vindictive and resorting to character assassination and other "dirty tricks" against UFO witnesses and opposing UFO researchers. A notable example were his attacks on atmospheric physicist Dr. James E. McDonald after McDonald had demolished his ball lightning theory for UFOs as scientifically invalid.

Related Reading:

Dr. Donald Menzel

Donald Howard Menzel (April 11, 1901 – December 14, 1976) was an American astronomer.
He studied at the University of Denver and did his Ph.D. at Princeton. He then went to Lick Observatory but left in 1932 for a position at Harvard.
He did solar research at first, but later concentrated on studying gaseous nebulae. His work with Lawrence Aller and James Baker defined many of the fundamental principles of the study of planetary nebulae.
He wrote A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, part of the Peterson Field Guides.
Research by Stanton Friedman (including perusal of Harvard's archives) has shown that Menzel was a known consultant of the National Security Agency.

Related Reading:

Robert Sheaffer

A member of CSICOP's UFO subcommittee and author of several UFO debunking books. As with Klass, Sheaffer remains vociferously active in this department. Jerome Clark suggests one assess Sheaffer's arguments "in the context of his ferocious hostility to UFOs in general." And adds that Sheaffer feels that "sympathetic consideration of UFO sightings" is not only "irrational" but threatens a "new dark age." UFOlogy of any sort, even a cautious methodological variety is, in Sheaffer's estimation and his italics, "fundamentally a reaction against science and reason."

Related Reading:

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is a science writer, founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. Shermer also produces and co-hosts the 13-hour Fox Family television series, "Exploring the Unknown," and is a monthly columnist for Scientific American magazine.
Shermer is the author of several books that attempt to explain the ubiquity of irrational or unsubstantiated beliefs. Why People Believe Weird Things, treats a variey of "weird" ideas and groups (including cults), in the tradition of the skeptical writings of Martin Gardner. He has devoted entire books to Holocaust deniers (Denying History), and to belief in God (How We Believe). Shermer, once a fundamentalist Christian, is now, according to his book The Science of Good and Evil, a nontheist and an advocate for a materialist philosophy.
Shermer received his bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University in 1976 in Psychology/Biology, his master's degree from California State University, Fullerton in Experimental Psychology two years later, and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in History of Science in 1991 (with a dissertation entitled "Heretic-Scientist: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Evolution of Man: A Study on the Nature of Historical Change").

Related Reading:

Now that we have gotten to know a few of the more prominent skeptics better, lets look into some common objects that are mistakenly said to be UFO’s. (yes these are actually stated, I am not making them up)

I will try give some general info where possible.

1. Upper Atmosphere

A meteor is the visible path of a meteoroid that enters the Earth's (or another body's) atmosphere, commonly called a shooting star or falling star. The visibility is due to the heat produced by the ram pressure (not friction, as is commonly assumed) of atmospheric entry. A very bright meteor, brighter than the apparent magnitude of Venus, may be called a fireball or bolide.

If a meteoroid survives its transit of the atmosphere to come to rest on the surface, the resulting object is called a meteorite. A meteor striking the Earth or other object may produce an impact crater.

Molten terrestrial material "splashed" from such a crater can cool and solidify into an object known as a tektite.

Meteor dust particles left by falling meteoroids can persist in the atmosphere for up to several months. These particles might affect climate, both by scattering electromagnetic radiation and by catalyzing chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere.

Satellite reentry:

Satellite re-entries can be quite spectacular and viewed by large numbers of people as the craft will often be seen over a few hundred to a few thousand kilometers before it finally succumbs. For example Sputnik 2 was witnessed by many people during its descent on 14th April, 1958. In the ten minutes it took to travel from over New York to the Amazon, it descended from 130 km to around 60 km, leaving a trail of `sparks' some 100 km long, the satellite itself a multitude of brilliant colors.

Rocket firings:

Ionosphere experiments

Sky-hook balloons (discontinued)

Skyhook ballons were balloons developed Otto C. Winzen and used by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research in the late 1940s and in the 1950s for atmospheric research, especially for constant-level meteorological observations at very high altitudes. Instruments like the Cerenkov detector were first used on skyhook balloons.

2. Lower Atmosphere
Planes, reflection of sun, running lights, landing lights, weather balloons

A weather balloon is a balloon which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde. To obtain wind data, they can be tracked by radar, radio direction finding, or navigation systems (such as the satellite based Global Positioning System).

The balloon itself produces the lift, and is usually made of a highly flexible latex material. The unit that performs the actual measurements and radio transmissions hangs at the lower end of the string, and is called a radiosonde. Specialized radiosondes are used for measuring particular parameters, such as determining the ozone concentration.

Before launch, the balloon is commonly filled with helium (though hydrogen can be used as a substitute) gas. The ascent rate can be controlled by the amount of gas the balloon is filled with. Weather balloons may reach altitudes of 40 km (25 miles) or more, limited by diminishing pressures causing the balloon to expand to such a degree (typically by a 100:1 factor) that it disintegrates. The instrument package is usually lost. Above that altitude sounding rockets may be used.


High clouds (Family A)

These generally form above 16,500 feet (5,000 m), in the cold region of the troposphere. However, in Polar regions they may form as low as 10,000 ft (3,048 m). They are denoted by the prefix cirro- or cirrus. At this altitude water almost always freezes so clouds are composed of ice crystals. The clouds tend to be wispy, and are often transparent.

Middle clouds (Family B)

These develop between 6,500 and 16,500 feet (between 2,000 and 5,000 m) and are denoted by the prefix alto-. They are made of water droplets, and are frequently supercooled.

These are found up to 6,500 feet (2,000 m) and include the stratus (dense and grey). When stratus clouds contact the ground they are called fog.

Vertical clouds (Family D)

These clouds can have strong upcurrents, rise far above their bases and can form at many heights.

Other clouds

A few clouds can be found above the troposphere; these include noctilucent and polar stratospheric or nacreous clouds which occur in the stratosphere and mesosphere respectively.


blimps (advertising, illuminated )
military test craft
military experiments (magnesium flares)

birds migrating ( flocks, individual, luminous)

3. Very Low Atmosphere (these are funny)
paper and other debris
spider webs
insects (swarms, moths, electrical discharge)
seeds (milkweed, etc.)

4. On or Near Ground (again these are funny)
dust devils
power lines
elevated streetlights
reflections from windows
water tanks
lightning rods
TV antennas
automobile headlights
lakes and ponds
beacon lights
domed roofs
radar antennas
radio astronomy antennas
oil refineries
cigarettes tossed away

1. Upper Atmosphere
Auroral phenomena

Noctilucent clouds

2. Lower Atmosphere
reflections of searchlights
lightning (streak, chain, sheet, plasma phenomena, ball lightning)


A sundog is a relatively common atmospheric optical phenomenon associated with the reflection/refraction of sunlight by the numerous small ice crystals that make up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds.

reflections from fog and mist (haloes, pilot's halo)
mirages(superior, inferior)

artificial satellites

after images( sun, moon, reflections from bright sources, electric lights, street lights, flashlights, matches)


eye defects (astigmatisms, myopia, failure to wear glasses, reflection from glasses)
entoptic phenomena (retinal defects, vitreous humor )



Development defects
internal camera reflections

Part 8. RADAR
anomalous refraction
ghost images
multiple reflections
This link will explain all sections of Part 8. (by now I am very sleepy)

Part 9. HOAXES
Related reading on UFO hoaxes. These links are generally considered to be bogus by skeptics.

More Information about objects mistaken for UFO's

Pages written from a skeptic point of view: This link contains many articles. Hopefully it stays up for this thread. (these are .pdf form)

Maybe I will add more later. My brain hurts.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 01:44 AM
Nice work.

If i had the powers, i'd give your post a little green up arrow because there's way too much info there to just be taken in with regular browsing - but as a reference post it shines and is worth coming back too.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 01:50 AM
This thread is not sticky worthy. Thats my opinion.

I would like people to add more known skeptics to the thread. I also forgot to do one thing, I was going to list skeptic opinions found in ATS threads, but I didnt.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 02:49 AM
LOL some of those are funny

"Omg dude i just saw a freakin alien spaceship!!!!"

"Um dude....thats a lake"


i certainly hope no one ever mistook a lake for a alien spaceship
because that is rediculous!

makes for a heck of a laugh tho !

Btw great research job

This is like a sociology project , its Cool

"Thats not an alien spaceship Bob, thats a Streelight!"

"Dude stop freaking out, i only tossed my cig down"

Those are classics lol

I just gave u my vote 2 dude
GJ really, i dont usually give those out

[edit on 3-11-2005 by muzzleflash]

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 10:45 AM
Excellent post Dulcimer...

Just as a reminder though...that in many cases there ARE logical explanations...and mistaken objects. However, as I've often said, if even ONE out of thousands of sightings is an extraterrestrial craft, then there you go...
I approach cases first as a skeptic, just to weed out what are (to me) the best ones. Certainly nothing wrong with that, and often these skeptics can help with this.

Many of those you mentioned though, go beyond this, and are guilty of EXACTLY what they accuse UFOlogists of...their belief overriding the evidence. For example, because the Outer Limits had an episode featuring aliens, prior to the Hill abduction, Phil Class BELIEVES this to be an open and shut explanation for the encounter, regardless of the facts, or that the Hill Case also has radar contact confirmation, examination by one of the most renowned psychiatrists around, military interest, an inexplicable star map, etc. THAT is when skeptic truly becomes a dirty word....

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 11:16 AM
Let's not forget a skeptic turned believer, J. Allen Hynek.

When Project Grudge hired Hynek, he was initially skeptical of UFO reports. Hynek suspected that UFO reports were made by unreliable witnesses, or by persons who had misidentified man-made or natural objects. In 1948, Hynek said that the “the whole subject seems utterly ridiculous”, and described it as a fad that would soon pass. (Schneidman and Daniels, 110) Hynek was a member of the Robertson Panel, which concluded that there was nothing anomalous about UFOs, and that a public relations capaign should be undertaken to debunk the subjet and reduce public interest.

Eventually, however, after examining hundreds of UFO reports (including some made by credible witnesses, including astronomers, pilots, police officers, and military personnel) Hynek concluded that some reports represented genuine new empirical observations. When the fad did not pass and UFO reports contiuned at a steady pace, Hynek devoted some time to studying the reports and determined that some were deeply puzzling, even after considerable study. He once said, "As a scientist I must be mindful of the past; all too often it has happened that matters of great value to science were overlooked because the new phenomenon did not fit the accepted scientific outlook of the time."

Nice work Dulcimer.

edit: fixed spelling his name correctly

[edit on 11/3/2005 by Hal9000]

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 11:23 AM
There's a great quote in there...thanks for the new sig!

And another excellent point...

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 11:44 AM
You also left out the late Carl Sagan, a man who spent much of his life searching for extra terestial life, yet he was a great skeptic of the common UFO claims.

Sagan had an open mind as to the possibility of UFO’s, but he also had a rigorous set of criteria for acceptance.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 12:33 PM

Originally posted by Gazrok
There's a great quote in there...thanks for the new sig!

Yeah, it's an enlightening statement, from mr. swamp gas himself.

A lot of people never forgave him for that one.

Originally posted by HowardRoark
You also left out the late Carl Sagan

Another good one, and another quote.

by Carl Sagan
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

[edit on 11/3/2005 by Hal9000]

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 02:08 PM
These are hillarious:

tumble weeds
domed roofs
radar antennas
radio astronomy antennas
oil refineries
cigarettes tossed away

Seriously, the skeptics will come up with just about anything.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 02:17 PM

Yeah, it's an enlightening statement, from mr. swamp gas himself.

A lot of people never forgave him for that one.

My favorites are still "seagulls" for the Tremonton film, filmed by a military man, and of course "temperature inversions" for the '52 buzzings in DC.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 02:49 PM
Thanks for the added skeptics.

I did leave out one common object... Swamp Gas !

I did have a good laugh with the common objects list. When I first found the list I was absolutely laughing. If you visit the link below the list you will find the original list.

I even left out some because they were just plain stupid.

My favourite would be spider webs. I.... just dont get that one.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 02:59 PM
Also don't forget the most common mistaken object for crashed alien bodies are anthropomorphic dummies.

As mentioned in the Roswell Report.

"Aliens" observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research.

Also another thing I wanted to bring up (rambling) was a test done on the accuracy of eye witnesses.

I remember seeing a show on TLC or Discovery where they did a fake crash scene and had witnesses walk through it and then later ( I forget how much later ) they were asked questions on what they saw.

I didn't mention it in the thread because I had few details. Although one link in the thread does mention a similar study.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 04:42 PM
What explanation do the government have for the 30 ft flying disk that accompanied the bodies??

Seriously, that whole Roswell report is ridiculous. It gets all the events mixed up and changes the times of each event (Places some of it in the 50s???!!)

It proves an extensive coverup.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 06:32 PM

Originally posted by Dulcimer
Also don't forget the most common mistaken object for crashed alien bodies are anthropomorphic dummies.

As mentioned in the Roswell Report.

"Aliens" observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research.

Also another thing I wanted to bring up (rambling) was a test done on the accuracy of eye witnesses.

I remember seeing a show on TLC or Discovery where they did a fake crash scene and had witnesses walk through it and then later ( I forget how much later ) they were asked questions on what they saw.

I didn't mention it in the thread because I had few details. Although one link in the thread does mention a similar study.

Actually, that whole dummies mistaken for alien bodies part has been well debunked. Roswell occured in 1947. Test dummies werent used till the 50's. And this is the only instance I know of where someone claims that crash test dummies were mistaken for aliens. No other well known, well researched UFO case has alien bodies being mistaken for dummies. And of course, it was the air force, the same people who lied the first and second times around, claimed this as fact.

As far as the Air Force's credibility, they simply cannot be trusted. In a court of law, they would have had perjury and obstruction of justice charged for their behavior. The Air Force has changed its story teice now on Roswell, yet the core, solid witnesses have not.

Let me also state the difference between a skeptic and debunker. There is a BIG difference. A Skeptic generally will look into a UFO case, and say, well, this could be this or that, it seems most likely, so that night be the probable explaination. A skeptic honestly uses logic and good investigation.

A Debunker, however, is basically the opposite twin of a true believer. A Debunker basically believes that UFOs and aliens cannot and do not exist, and thus, to debunkers, they completely ignore the hard facts of a case, and will force whatever small details to fit into their debunking mold.

I cannot begin to tell you how many major blunders Philip Klass has made in his "investigations". He often portrays himself as a Ufologist or UFO investigator, but if you look very well at his record, youll find he has rarely left his armchair and actually done any REAL investigation. He has not gone to the UFO incident sites, interviewed people in person, che cked and cross checked everything, and done real research. If anything, one of the factors that drove me more to the side of UFO existance was reading the utterly ridiculous nonsense that debunkers such as Klass, Menzel, and Story wrote.

But it is good for refrence sake and to give a balanced view of the subject, and I think it was great work for Dulcimer to give a list of the other far side of ufology. Since we have stuff on here from true believers and hard core ufo buffs with no criticism, it is good to see what is at the opposite side of the spectrum, with the debunkers and absoltely total criticism.

And to make another point clear, its something like 80-90 percent of UFO reports end up with mundane explainations. That means 10-20 percent remain unexplainable. Thats a huge chunk of unknowns by anyone's standards.

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 07:12 PM
Also to add to this thread some skeptic info about alien abductions see this other thread of mine.

Also a quick look at some related ATS reading:

Philip Klass dies

A Question for the Skeptics

Convincing Someone

UFOs and Aliens - Do you want to Believe?

The Great UFO Debate

CNN mentions PJ's UFO special upset a lot of people

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 07:25 PM
Swamp Gas fans rejoice !

Here is an article all about the Okefenokee Swamp.

Lab Results from 1966 "Swamp Gas" Case

"SWAMP GAS", sometimes called "will-o-the wisp" or "foxfire" and even "wetland flatulence" is a naturally occurring phenomena caused by decaying organic matter transforming into a gaseous state and on extremely rare occasions takes on certain properties of luminescence. In the 1950's many UFO skeptics used this uncommon swamp gas occurrence to dismiss numerous sightings of weird lights and objects in the sky.
Tales from the swamp gas !

The public was often skeptical of Air Force
explanations attributing UFO sightings to swamp gas, weather
balloons or other natural phenomena.


posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 07:49 PM
you guys should work for a tv station... aliens are real so are ufos..... things dont zoom left ,right at super speeds an up an down dissapear an re appear ... i mean common weather ballon,swamp gas,moon refections,satellites im sure 100's of thousands of people all around the world lie about being abducted if your trying to debunk the alien an ufo enigma first explain .... um ancient ufo paintings....inplants found in thousands of people ... tons of pictures...videos...all fake right... not!!!...... crop circles ... i mean common not everyone lies.... sum do who have no life ... jus cause tv an movies say there not real dosent mean they are ones seen god or has proof yet millions belive no one has solid proof of aliens yet a pinch full of people belive they'll be the one's saving ya @$$es when they decide to invade ....all i have to say

posted on Nov, 3 2005 @ 08:11 PM
Occam's Razor and the Skeptics

The skeptics don't understand Occam's Razor, and they abuse it regularly. They think they
understand it, but they don't. What it means is that when several hypotheses of varying
complexity can explain a set of observations with equal ability, the first one to be tested should
be the one that invokes the fewest number of uncorroborated assumptions. If this simplest
hypothesis is proven incorrect, the next simplest is chosen, and so forth.

But the skeptics forget two parts: the part regarding the test of the simpler hypotheses, and the
part regarding explaining all of the observations. What a debunker will do is mutilate and butcher
the observations until it can be "explained" by one of the simpler hypotheses, which is the inverse
of the proper approach. The proper approach is to alter the hypothesis to accommodate the
observations. One should never alter the observations to conform with a hypothesis by saying "if
we assume the object was not physical, despite the level of evidence that would imply the
solidity of a conventional aircraft with near-certainty, then we can also assume the object was
not moving, was not exhibiting the color orange, was not 50 feet in diameter as described, and
then declare that it was really Venus."

But that's okay for the skeptics to do because it's an "extraordinary claim" being made that
deserves to be explained away in a Machiavellian fashion as rapidly as possible with the urgent
zeal of a religious missionary. Now, to alter observations to force conformance with the
preferred hypothesis -- is that science? Or is that dogma? The answer, of course, is dogma. This
practice is extremely poor science, and the approach undermines the very spirit of scientific
inquiry. It is simply unacceptable to alter the observations that refuse to conform with the
predetermined, favored explanation.


you must have been busy man..thanx for all the info.

[edit on 3-11-2005 by jimstradamus]

posted on Nov, 4 2005 @ 12:13 AM
"This thread is not sticky worthy. Thats my opinion. " == Dulcimer

I guess we disagree. In my opinion, there is more "beef" here than in all the Roswell series references.
Thanks. A real useful collection. The only addition I would recommend would be to look up the
specific name the USAF acknowledges as having reached their conclusion before they did in the
1995 report. Surprisingly, there is a real curio of a website to be found.

"Hynek concluded that some reports represented genuine new empirical observations." == Hynek/Hal9000

As have I. But that doesn't mean the sky is falling. Most likely a chance to make an extraordinary find
in the realm of physical science.

"The fact that someone says something doesn't mean it's true. Doesn't mean they're lying, but it doesn't mean it's true." == Carl Sagan from
Howard Roark's excellent reference. And bears some additional emphasis.
I recall a short film I viewed as part of a law course in college. After the film, students were asked to report what they had observed.
About a week later, we were asked to re-submit our report but were not shown the film again. We shocked ourselves by the difference
a week made. Then we were shown the film in slow motion. (around a few seconds worth, less than a minute anyways.) Most
of the class (pre-biased by being in a law course) had assumed we were watching a crime. The reports reached a consensus that
one person had been shot by another, and many in the class identified the weapon as a handgun, some even suggesting what model
and manufacturer. About the only agreement with these classroom testimonies was over half the class agreed that two shots had been fired.
A slow motion view showed a man carrying some books to a lectern, another man who is visible in the edge of the scene, casually waves
the BANANA he was eating and moves away from view. The other person moves to wave back and drops some books. The sound
of the books hitting the floor is the only sound on the film. The moral of the lesson, since most were law students, is that you cannot
TRUST testimony even when the witness believes what he is saying, and in FACT IS YOU. I do not profess to know if this lesson
is still used, but the point was very personally made to student attorneys that testimony IS NOT reliable.

"Actually, that whole dummies mistaken for alien bodies part has been well debunked." == Skadi

I beg to disagree. To debunk it, would you not include input from those who might know a bit more ?
Say a casual chat with some "old heads" that work for the Balloon Branch at Holloman AFB, NM.

"it was the air force, the same people who lied the first and second times around" == Skadi
And again we disagree. It cannot be the same people (timewise). Unless you can name someone specific ?

I will make a final try on evidence education. Testimony is questionable. Photography is a physical recording
of a scene. While photos can be hoaxed, if they are not, the information contained in them can be studied
with a fine toothed comb. Lets take Dulcimers dummie photo above. I think I posted a link in one of Gaz's
Roswell threads to the history of the things, and the manufacturer. Further reading would show the types of
dummies out there, and subcategories. In the dummy photo, a careful look shows many things. Cinder block
construction. Concrete floor, and partial details of a light fixture. Why cant you see OUT THE WINDOW ?
Is that a gurney from MASH or what? I see 5 dummies, the first is nude, the next three have some sort of
jacket, the last appears in coveralls, and none of the clothing is distinctively military. Dummie 1,3,4 appear
to be significantly more massive than dummie 2. The last dummie is clothed so its mass is indeterminate.
Dummie 2 shows either upper thigh damage or significant difference from the rest.

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