[Edited to add:]
As Nicorette says, it is all a matter of interpretation. Now what I'm going to try here is to give reasons why her interpretation cannot be as bad as
some may think. Actually, and based on many logical arguments, her interpretation is by far the best I've seen, and I'll even add that there is no
other interpretation that's based on any logical arguments.
In particular, interpretations like the "planets around the sun" map has been proposed, but no one has ever tried to justify it as being better than
I am going to try to justify the fact that the interpretation given by Marjorie Fish, not only makes perfect sense, but also is not just a "lucky pick
out of many other places where stars are arranged in the same way" like Sagan or others have suggested.
[End of edit]
Originally posted by Nicorette
The "leader" never told Betty Hill that what she was looking at included Sol or Zeta Reticuli, but Marjorie Fish simply assumed the sun was
represented on the map. That's a huge assumption! Someone has also made the case the map represents the Solar System (
link). Why is one interpretation more favored than the other?
As the story goes, the leader would have apparently asked her if she could locate herself on the map he was showing her, which leads me to believe
that assuming the sun would actually be on that map is a bit more than a working hypothesis. It would make less than no sense to ask someone to
pinpoint their location on a map that doesn't contain their position.
Besides, the reason why I would say that the solar system map is less credible is simple: stars, even if they are all actually moving, are separated
by large distances, and thus their relative position to each other varies very little over long periods of time. This makes a star map a pretty much
"permanent" map, while on the contrary, planets around a single star (and hence, our solar system as well) are comparatively moving much faster,
making a "planet map" very short lived.
That being said, it's not idiot to suppose either that the map they have shown could well be a "3D real time" map of the solar system at the present
time, we even can do that now, so no wonder a civilisation able to travel stars could do it too. As I said, it is merely about assuming, indeed, but
to me, it makes more sense, simply.
It is human by nature to try and get back things compared to what we know, and that's why it is particularly difficult to deal with ufology at large
because it includes so many things that are beyond comparison. With this in mind, the comparison I'll be trying to make is maybe easily dismissable,
but just as well credible too for the reason that we simply don't know if they could be indeed very similar to us or not.
Let's assume that we are visiting a place where a species live, a species that we thing is potentially intelligent, sentient. We're not exactly sure
what they are and even where in the evolution process they are, but we're giving it a try: let's show them a map of earth and let's see if they can 1.
recognize the place where we all live, and 2. pinpoint their location on that planet.
This being taken at "the correct scale" (i.e. assuming they are coming from some "distant" star), it makes full sense to show a map of neighbouring
stars, and ask if they know where they are. More sense, I think, than showing the planets around the sun and ask them which planet they're on.
Sorry, it says permission denied on that server.
Why is Gliese 86.1 included? It is more than 186 light years from Sol. There are more than 500 sun-like stars less than 100 light years from
Sol (link). That is like having a map of your East Coast, which shows Philadelphia but not New
York, but also shows Honolulu for some reason!
This may be a misinterpretation. However, depending on the role or use that one makes of a map, not everything is included.
Someone said something like "when you draw a map, you don't only place a dot on it for major cities". Well, yes: one does place a dot only for major
cities. Not all villages are plotted. Actually, most are not. And again, depending on the use of the map, you may well only plot just your "places of
interest". If, if
that was indeed a "trade routes" map, then it may be perfectly normal to have only those stars on it, and not the rest. After
all, what do we know of their trading business?
The stars labeled Zeta Reticuli are only about 0.1 Light Years apart in actuality. This map shows a much greater apparent distance between the two,
particularly if you compare it to the distance between Zeta Reticula and our Solar System, which is 40 light years. You could argue, "well it's a
matter of perspective" - but then you have to admit the map is not drawn to scale. And if it's not drawn to scale, then all bets are off!
No. We simply don't know what kind of scale can be used in such a map. Actually, that model was supposed to be in 3D, and it could be presented on a
3D logarithmic scale, which would make closer objects very much bigger than those in the distance. That's actually how it looks like on the drawing:
the "balls" are much bigger where they are supposed to be "close". Hence, the distance between the two objects close to you and those further away can
be much larger even though it represents a much shorter one on a 1:1 scale (or at least on any linear scale).
It's a stylized, visual representation then, not a map, how could it be taken seriously as a map if it's not to scale? How can you "fit" other stars
into a pattern if the distances are not accurate? And the Zeta 1 : Zeta 2 versus Zeta : Sol distances are clearly a mess by many orders of
That magnitude problem would be solved by my proposition here above. Add to it that drawing depth on a 2D sheet of paper can be achieved by largely
exagerating proportions on the "front" plane and reducing them on the "far behind" plane.
And here's Betty's original map:
It clearly can't be to scale either, or if it is, those two near objects with lines around them cannot be stars, because if they were gravity would
have crushed them together billions of years ago. And what kind of stars have vertical bands across them? Stargates? Satellites? Moons? It could be
some stylized representation of solar data, but you still have the problem of scale.
Well again, it could be a logarithmic scale. Now, having the two main stars represented as bigger than they should be is not out of logic either.
Most, if not all, of the 3D animations I've seen being used to teach about solar system, moon-earth, etc. are actually using immensely exagerated
sizes, i.e. not to scale. If it had to be all done to scale, then you'd see a totally black screen with a white dot here, and a blue one there on the
other corner, and nothing at all in between. That wouldn't be very practical at all.
About those lines, let's think again that the map is supposed to show trade routes. Now, get a map of the metro of London (or any other city for the
purpose, that will do). See how many thick lines are between major stations of the center? That can't be to scale, can it?
See the area roughly in between Baker st, Liverpool st, Kennington & Earl's court. Well, that's the kind of things we have when drawing many major
routes on a map. They come to cover more surface than in real. Representing many major trade routes in between their 2 "home worlds" would quite
likely be done in such a way.
I find the Fish map interesting but ultimately unconvincing because of the way stars are chosen to fit a pre-existing pattern - but there is zero
assurance of any kind of accuracy given the distances involved in the pattern!
That is the argument that Sagan has used to dismiss the map. However, one must remember that:
- When Betty drew the map, she was pretty much convinced that those were stars, but she had no idea that stars could be of F, G, K or any type. She
knew nothing of astronomy.
- What Fish has actually done, is to reduce the number of stars in the whole mass around us to just and only those that would somehow "make sense".
Removing, at first, all those that are not F, G or K, thus, makes total sense.
- When finding a pattern that resembled what Betty had drawn, removing the rest around, once again, makes perfect sense.
So, in summary, the map was not drawn "to fit a pre-existing pattern", and the model was not either "built to fit a pre-existing pattern".
Let's take a similar example.
Imagine now that I'd pick a particular area of a major city, from a map, and keep only major streets, removing from the map all the little streets in
between, the dead-ends in between buildings, etc. Now you'd have in front of you a map. A map from a place that exists. Let's now suppose that I'd go
into that particular city.
To push the comparison (Betty knew nothing of astronomy), I'd ask, not to a taxi driver, but anyone on the street "excuse me there, can you tell me
where we are ?" and show them that map. Let's then suppose we have there someone who doesn't know the city. He can't tell me of course, but he's
looking well at the map, in hope he can make something out of it.
But now, if he draws himself the map I showed him, it will of course more or less look like the real map. What is the chance that someone who knows
well cities and their maps (i.e. Marjorie Fish knew about astronomy!) would identify some place that's wrong, knowing that the person who drew it said
"someone asked me where they were" in that particular city? Don't you think that, of course, you'd start by trying to find that place, or a place that
looks much like the drawing, from that particular city? You wouldn't want to pick another city, would you?
And thus, eventually, after looking many hours at the map, distorting it a bit, etc., you find that there is a particular section on the actual map of
the city that matches well the drawing. Oh yeah, there are many other streets there, and the drawing shows none. But were those streets important to
the visitor? Hmm... I don't think they were.
Betty drew a map, from hypnotic regression, five years after the fact, knowing full well she didn't know much about drawing or astronomy. To imagine
the distances she drew would be accurate is absurd. To cherry-pick 12 or so stars out of the 500+ Sun-like stars in that volume of space to match a
rough hand sketch does not seem statistically improbable at all.
Well it doesn't seem improbable at all, statistically, that I'd win a big thing on the lottery either. However, I'd have to play for many, many years
before the chances start to become just a bit more than amazing luck.
I invite anyone who really wants to try that, to "cherry-pick 12 or so stars" out of the 500+ sun-like around us and be any close to what the drawing
looks like. Maybe less improbable than winning the lottery, but again the work that Marjorie Fish did was not about finding what she wanted to find,
or finding something that matched a pre-existing pattern
She based her work on very reasonable hypothesis, and spent a long time before spotting what had to be spotted. If it were so probable that the same
pattern (or a similar looking one anyway) would be found easily anywhere else, then I have to assume that for the sake of finding it and dismissing
the whole case, then someone would have done it already now, for a long time! Sadly for those who think that it is easy to do, no one yet has found
anything like that.
edit on 21-9-2010 by SpookyVince because: Added some sort of introduction to the post