posted on Mar, 23 2009 @ 12:15 AM
For me personally, I'd start thinking about it around 11, and I'd be convinced around 15 and 16, and definitely by 17. I've seen a lot of
discussion about evidence, proof, skeptics, and etc. in this thread and others, and here's my theory on the subject.
The scale of evidence required to believe something goes up concurrently with the strangeness of the event or thing.
1. "I saw a guy riding a red bicycle."
Totally mundane. Why not believe it? In everyday conversation we routinely believe such mundane, ordinary things that people tell us without any
2. "I saw a guy riding a horse on the street."
Slightly unusual, but within reason. This sort of thing does happen from time to time. If we know the person and they're generally honest in our
experience, we'll probably believe it without any additional evidence, although we might ask some questions and want more information.
3. "I saw an eagle in the middle of downtown sitting on a light pole."
Something that is more or less mundane, but significantly out of place. We are likely to question our friend's judgment ( "Are you SURE it was an
eagle?" ) but not too likely to disbelieve that he at least saw a large bird. Another person corroborating the story, or seeing a picture of it on
the 6 o'clock news, will be enough to convince us.
4. "I saw a pink dolphin!"
A recognizable animal or event, but with a somewhat bizarre twist. If we've never heard of a pink dolphin, we may well ask what our friend has been
drinking or smoking. If, however, we've seen pictures and video of a pink dolphin in Florida on the news and the internet with an explanation of its
unusual color (it is an albino), and know that our friend was in Florida for spring break, we may well believe him, especially if he's got a picture
or a corroborating witness.
5. "I saw a pterodactyl!"
Yeah, right. We know what a pterodactyl is, or at least what one used to be, but they're supposed to be extinct. We'll probably think our friend
misidentified a large bird or perhaps even a large kite. Even a few halfway decent pictures and an additional witness may not convince us that it was
really a pterodactyl. There better be some really good evidence before we buy this story.
6. "A dragon ate my horse."
Sure, buddy. And the men in white coats are coming for you when? We still know what a dragon is, or what one supposedly is. We have a concept of
"dragon" based on mythology and legend, but they aren't supposed to be real. At this point many people will already be at the "bring me the head
and I'll consider believing you" stage.
We may still think our pal may have seen something resembling a "dragon" because we expect him to have the same concept of what a "dragon" is as
7. "I saw an alien."
Umm .. what? Exactly what did you see? A grey? A big slimy thing like the Alien movies? A "predator" thing? A little green man? An "ET phone
home" critter? What?
The problem here is that we don't have a common conceptual definition for "alien" or "ET." Also, every concept of "alien" that we have is
purely from someone's imagination. We really have no idea what an alien should or would look like, so how are we supposed to evaluate whether our
friend saw one?
How did our friend decide that what he saw was an "alien"? Did it tell him it was from another planet? How do we even know that an alien wouldn't
look just like us and we'd never know it if we saw one?
Here is where a lot of reasonable people are going to want to see a body, or DNA, or something that "proves" that what our friend saw is not of this
UFO believers say that we judge UFO evidence unfairly because, if this same person was the one who saw the guy on the red bicycle, or the eagle, we
would probably have believed him without question. And yet, human beings all do this. We decide whether to believe something based on the strangeness
factor of the event.
A mother, for example, may believe that the mean kid down the street busted her kid's bicycle, but when he tells her that a monster did it, she
immediately accuses him of lying. Why? Same kid, same busted bicycle. It's the strangeness factor, and we use it constantly in our daily life.
The employee who is late due to a flat tire will be believed without too much question, especially if we look at his car and see the "emergency
spare" on it. If the same employee says he's late because a UFO buzzed his car and killed the battery, do you believe him or not? Every story that
someone tells us, we judge the truth of it based on the reliability of the witness and the strangeness factor of the story.
It is, therefore, quite unreasonable for the "believer" to argue that "skeptics" should believe in UFOs and aliens on the same amount of evidence
required to believe in the pink dolphin or the giant squid. We know what a squid is, and we know they exist. We've probably seen - or eaten - one at
some point in our lives. It's not that much of a stretch to believe in one that's just .. bigger!
We do not, however, "know" that aliens exist, or what their appearance or characteristics might be. Pragmatically speaking, the idea that someone
saw one is even harder to believe than the pterodactyl, because at the very least we have real scientific evidence for what a pterodactyl is, what one
looks like, and that they did exist at some time in the past.
For aliens - extra-terrestrial intelligent beings - everything we have is fiction which came from someone's imagination. We have nothing at
all scientific or historical to tell us what an alien is supposed to be like. Yes, we can compare current sightings to cave paintings and
hieroglyphics, but we don't really know what the ancients were depicting. There is quite as much "historical evidence" for dragons, unicorns, and
gargoyles as there is for ETs, and yet we don't believe that any of those are real.
So, why shouldn't there be a higher standard of evidence needed to convince me that ETs are real, and here? The strangeness factor is off the
charts, and not comparable to anything else.