UFOs: Lets cut the crap already

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posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 06:53 PM
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I understand the skeptical stance towards the subject of UFOs, having once been a debunker myself. However after reading numerous skeptical takes, like the recent NY Time "Ideas Online, Yes, but Some Not So Presidential" I feel it important to comment on scientific conservatism and the seemingly incongruous idea that something like "dark matter" is accepted as a legitimate scientific place-holder while the concept "UFO" not. Granted this is a matter of definition, mine being somewhat unique, but I'll get to that in a moment.

First, addressing scientific conservatism ...



There's a phrase that has gained some currency that I find deeply unscientific. It is Sagan's razor, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". The fact is that what is extraordinary is a value judgment and has nothing to do with science. A hypothesis is testable. It works as long as it handles data – as soon as it ceases to do so, it requires modification. That's all.

Certainly, we should be cautious too readily accepting new information in to our collective knowledge. However this isn't to say we should rule out fringe subjects as not being worth further investigation and open-minded analysis. Especially when it comes to subjects like UFOs, which possibly represent an area with serious repercussions for humanity.

With every pro we should consider the con. Likewise with every newly claimed discovery we should put it through peer-review to ensure it holds water. However to falsely maintain that something hasn't passed a bar to uphold a personal belief, counter to well established fact, is insidious and in opposition to the scientific method.

Second, on the concept of "UFO" being no different a place-holder than "dark matter" ...



Note when I say UFO I don't imply Dr. Hartman's definition (the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky ... which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin, and which seemed to him sufficiently puzzling that he undertook to make a report of it), nor Dr. Hynek's definition (a UFO is a report the contents of which are puzzling not only to the observer but to others who have the technical training the observer may lack), nor do I imply the ET hypothesis or alien spacecrafts. Rather when I say UFO I define it to mean "a process to identify an unidentified aerial sighting."

More specifically I see 'UFO' as a series of steps starting first with the observation, followed by the post-analysis (or confirmation of the sighting – with the potential for it to reach a "true" unknown status), the hypothesis, and the eventual identification of the unknown. When I use the word 'UFO' I attempt to qualify it with a descriptor to explain which of the stages it is I'm describing.

To graphically illustrate this:


(Fig. 1 - Flowcharted UFO stages)

If you look at the diagram (Fig. 1) you'll notice something I termed the "official escalation of explanation loop." The problem in the here-and-now is there are very few bodies that are willing to do "official" evaluations to complete the "official escalation of explanation" loop.

It's interesting to note that the US government was confronted by many scientists who agreed average people were reporting a "true unknown" phenomenon throughout the '40s and '60s (Drs. Mirarchi, La Paz, Hynek, Thayer, Shough, J. E. McDonald, S. Friedman, R. Leo Sprinkle, Garry C. Henderson, Roger N. Shepard, Robert Hall, James Harder, Robert M. L. Baker, Frank Salisbury, Seymour Hess, Charles B. Moore, Al Cameron, Robert M. Wood, Eugene Epstein, Gordon MacDonald, Robert Wilson, etc). In response to this the USAF / AFSAB started Project Twinkle and escalated to Project Sign, Grudge, Blue Book and finally the Condon Committee.

Unfortunately Dr. Edward Condon's report was authoritative enough to render all opposing viewpoints moot despite 30% of the reviewed cases remaining unknown after spending $500,000 of taxpayers money. Even scientists with an anti-UFO position, like Dr. Thornton Page, considered the report rubbish because the "Conclusions and Recommendations" and "Summary of the Study" didn't accurately reflect the contents of the study. [1]

In part due to this, as well as the implied conservatism at the heart of the report, I believe history will ultimately view Dr. Condon in an unfavorable light. As humans we know that we don't understand all of reality and thus we accept the following Venn diagram as true.


(Fig. 2 - Human Knowledge)

By shouting down the study of UFOs Condon was stating that there was nothing new in our skies that is "truly unknown" that could be learned through the anecdotal testimony of the average person. In Dr. Condon's words,


As indicated by its title, the emphasis of this study has been on attempting to learn from UFO reports anything that could be considered as adding to scientific knowledge. Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.[2]


With the help of hindsight we can prove Dr. Condon wrong.

Sprites, large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, were documented with anecdotal reports since 1885. [3], [4]

It wasn't till 1989 that scientists photographed the phenomenon. Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv U., believes Sprites are the cause of many UFO reports. [5]

Some have argued that Condon was using a different definition of UFO (i.e. alien craft). I'll quote the Condon Report's definition verbatim,


An unidentified flying object (UFO, pronounced OOFO) is here defined as the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky (or an object thought to be capable of flight but seen when landed on the earth) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin, and which seemed to him sufficiently puzzling that he undertook to make a report of it to police, to government officials, to the press, or perhaps to a representative of a private organization devoted to the study of such objects. [6]


Since we have an example where Condon was incorrect does that not also suggest other ‘true unknowns’ could account for yet other sightings? Obviously, it doesn't take a full treatment of PSMI to accept this notion.

Thus, the concept of true UFOs, as just that, unidentified objects, represents a place holder for something waiting to be identified. This concept is a useful tool for science as is evidenced with dark matter. It allows us to create a bucket of things that represent genuine unknowns, that deserve serious study, which may be unknowable now, but perhaps in 20 or 50 years may become answerable if only because the question was on the table and asked in a manner that encouraged real scientific analysis.

[edit on 23-6-2009 by Xtraeme]

[edit on 27-3-2010 by asala]




posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 06:53 PM
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Third, and last, UFOs as a subject area that represents possible defense concerns and repercussions for our entire species (i.e. mutually assured destruction) ...



The question boils down to this. Since there are UFO cases with numerous corroborating ground radar / air radar, ground / air visuals, even the most skeptically minded person who is unwilling to accept this as proof of something physically being in the air as an "Unidentified Flying Object," has to accept that these incidents affected the pilots wet-ware, their aircrafts hardware, and ground radar stations. For example, the Lakenheath / Bentwaters '56 incident, is on the record as having caused a large ruckus for the UK and the US military. That makes it an issue that could have serious repercussions in a wartime situation.

So the question becomes, "You have one unknown. What makes more sense, let the tin-foil hat people study the subject or continue to run something like Blue Book till more is known?"

Conclusions



So lets cut the crap already. As long as there are unknowns that cause military radar / visual hiccups there needs to be an investigation in play. To treat this subject as a joke is to laugh at the very principle of science, to rigorously understand the unknown.



NOTES:



( original source: Is the subject of UFOs worth serious study? )

[1] Page, Thornton (October 1969). "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects: Final Report of Research Conducted by the University of Colorado for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under the Direction of Edward U. Condon. (Reviewed by Thornton Page.)" (in English). American Journal of Physics 37 (10): 1071-1072. doi:10.1119/1.1975204. ISSN 0002-9505. www.project1947.com... . Retrieved on 2009-5-25.

[2] Condon / Gillmor 1969 pp. 1

[3] Toynbee, Henry; T. Mackenzie (14 January 1886). "Meteorological Phenomena" (in English). Nature 33: 245. doi:10.1038/033245d0. ISSN 0028-0836. www.nature.com... . Retrieved on 2009-5-25. "LEAVING the port of Kingston, Jamaica, at dusk on November 23, 1885, the night was fine and starlit overhead, but about 8 p.m. a heavy bank of cloud obscured the island, and all around the upper edges of this cloud-bank brilliant flashes of light were incessantly bursting forth, sometimes tinged with prismatic hues, while intermittently would shoot vertically upwards continuous darts of light displaying prismatic colours in which the complementary tints, crimson and green, orange and blue, predominated. Sometimes these darts of light were projected but a short distance above the cloud-bank, but at others they ascended to a considerable altitude, resembling rockets more than lightning. This state of matters continued until about 9.30 p.m., when all display of light ceased. As I have never seen such a phenomenon in any other part of the world, I have deemed it an unusual occurrence, and worthy of record.".

[4] Everett (22 October 1903). "Rocket Lightning" (in English). Nature 68. doi:10.1038/068599c0. ISSN 0028-0836. www.nature.com... . Retrieved on 2009-5-25. "WE saw some strange lightning yesterday evening at 9 p.m. [note: 1 September 1] It was a, clear, moonless night, with just a bank of cloud very low in the S. S. W. with a well-marked edge, height say from horizon (flat) to 5° up. There was a misty cloud above this. These clouds we couid only see properly when the flashes came. Stars were visible at about 10° above the horizon at this point, and the sky was quite clear all over elsewhere. Now and then flashes showed from behind the lower cloud (the flashes themselves were mostly hidden, and thunder was not audible). The flashes were not so frequent as usual, say one per minute or so. Generally here they are almost incessant during thunderstorms.".

[5] SPACE.com Staff (2-23-2009). "Natural Explanation Found for UFOs" (in English). Space.com. Archived from the original on 2-25-2009. www.foxnews.com... . Retrieved on 2009-06-19.

[6] Condon / Gillmor 1969 pp. 9


REFERENCES:



* Edward U. Condon, Ph.D. (1969). Daniel S. Gillmor. ed (html). Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. University of Colorado: Bantam Books. ISBN NA. www.ncas.org... . Retrieved on 6-20-2009.

[edit on 23-6-2009 by Xtraeme]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 07:34 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 


Excellent point about the stone wall naysayers contrasted with the embrace of the dark matter theory.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 07:46 PM
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Originally posted by fls13
reply to post by Xtraeme
 


Excellent point about the stone wall naysayers contrasted with the embrace of the dark matter theory.


After watching Michael Shermer spout off on TED about UFOs and Dark Matter, I felt compelled to write this.



I've since sent him a copy of the above draft, with the hope that he'll offer up some form of legitimate response that isn't purely the result of his own cognitive bias, which he's so keen to throw in the face of people who have witnessed things they themselves can't explain.

It's sad, because I entirely respect the idea of looking for a more down to earth explanation first, but what Michael's doing, whether he recognizes it or not, is he's ignoring a vast repository of information that contradicts the notion that all UFOs are simply misidentifications.

Most notably the USAF Project Blue Book Special Report #14,






Table 2 summarizes the quality distribution of the same sightings as categorized in Table 1. Of prime importance is the fact that the better the quality of the sightings, the more likely to be an Unknown and the less likely to be listed as Insufficient Information. These results are precisely what one would expect if the Unknowns were fundamentally different from those reports in the astronomical, balloon, aircraft, or other categories and also completely contradict the oft made statement that “There are no interesting UFO sightings that are reliable and no reliable sightings that are interesting” (Ref. 2). The fundamental question raised by these data is “If the Unknowns are not aircraft, balloons, astronomical, or miscellaneous, or even the ones for which there was insufficient data, then just what are they?”

The first question to ask in attempting to determine the identity of the Unknowns is “Is there any difference between the characteristics of the Unknowns as described by witnesses and the characteristics of the Knowns? If on the average the two groups are similar, then one might be justified in concluding that the Unknowns are just “missed” knowns. Several different chi-square statistical analyses were conducted to check this aspect. The characteristics included were size, shape, color, speed, duration of observation, and brightness.

Very unfortunately, maneuverability was not one of the characteristics included in the chi-square test, though it is certainly one of the more distinguishing characteristics of the Unknowns as compared to the Knowns. Many attempts were made to load the comparison by, for example, including the “insufficient data” cases and the “probable” knowns or by deleting the astronomical sightings (which had an excess of green objects) in the color comparisons. The results consistently showed that the probability that the Unknowns were just missed knowns was less than 1%! This point cannot be stressed too strongly: Unknowns are not the poorly reported sightings, are not the ones for which there is insufficient data for a professional investigator to identify and are clearly and distinctly different from the Knowns. (source)


[edit on 23-6-2009 by Xtraeme]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 07:56 PM
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I totaly agree with you on this, any investigation needs to be thorughly planed and preformed in an unbias way to find what specific individual realy are rather than proving a specific theory.

The proplem I see is infinding people whom are willing to do so, as there is the potentional to prove the offical reports of the world governments and the teachings of the church (that human life was here first) if these objects are found to be extraterrestreal in orign.

I'd also be interested in hereing any theorys you have on methods for screening/identifing legitamite contact/abduction accounts.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:08 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 


I was worried this was going to be another one of "those" threads that bashes the believers and people who have seen UFO's first hand; however I was pleasantly surprised. You've put alot of thought and research into the topic and it is truly refreshing to see another great contribution to ATS.

s/f




posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:10 PM
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Originally posted by RokNinja
I totaly agree with you on this, any investigation needs to be thorughly planed and preformed in an unbias way to find what specific individual realy are rather than proving a specific theory.


Yep, the study of the unknown requires first ruling out the known. Which is a tricky business.


I'd also be interested in hereing any theorys you have on methods for screening/identifing legitamite contact/abduction accounts.


Sounds like you might be interested in a side-project I've been working on. My friends have taken to calling it UFO@Home, and other SETI-Around Earth, but I tend to prefer descriptive, long boring names like this one:

Distributed UFO Mobile Detection, Analysis, Identification, and Reporting Platform. Which makes for a really horrible acronym. DUFOMDAIRP


[edit on 23-6-2009 by Xtraeme]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:17 PM
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This is why parapsychology shouldn't be a psudo-science. It would be alot more helpful.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:18 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 


He's debunking backward messaging in rock albums?
Oh course rockers put backward messages in songs, they used backwards guitar riffs too. They constantly experimented with all manner of techniques.
Perhaps he can debunk gravity next . .


"Congratulations. You've just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farmhouse".




posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:20 PM
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A nice presentation. The Condon report does not say that nothing can be gained by the study of UFOs.


Some readers may think that we have now wandered into a contradiction. Earlier we said that we do not think study of UFO reports is likely to be a fruitful direction of scientific advance; now we have just said that persons with good ideas for specific studies in this field should be supported. This is no contradiction. Although we conclude after nearly two years of intensive study, that we do not see any fruitful lines of advance from the study of UFO reports, we believe that any scientist with adequate training and credentials who does come up with a clearly defined, specific proposal for study should be supported.
The study conducted by the Condon group could not find a direction for any specific study. But if a valid line of scientific research could be found, it should be encouraged. A shotgun approach to research is not science and it is never fruitful. You can't just say, "Let's study UFO's."


Therefore we think that all of the agencies of the federal government, and the private foundations as well, ought to be willing to consider UFO research proposals along with the others submitted to them on an open-minded, unprejudiced basis. While we do not think at present that anything worthwhile is likely to come of such research each individual case ought to be carefully considered on its own merits.
In spite of their own beliefs, the authors of the report agree that they could be incorrect and that valid avenues of research should be pursued. No proposed study should be rejected simply because it involves UFO's (nor should it be accepted on that basis).


We find that there are important areas of atmospheric optics, including radio wave propagation, and of atmospheric electricity in which present knowledge is quite incomplete. These topics came to our attention in connection with the interpretation of some UFO reports, but they are also of fundamental scientific interest, and they are relevant to practical problems related to the improvement of safety of military and civilian flying.

This goes hand in hand with your example of sprites. The report does not say there are no unusual aerial phenomena, it says that the Condon study of UFOs had not yielded any scientific knowledge. This is a true statement. How can a transitory phenomenon be studied? It can be analyzed but once all the data is looked at that's pretty much the end of it. Probable explanations can be made. Speculations can be made. But when all is said and done, unless a positive conclusion can be reached there is no "answer". A finding of "unknown" is not knowledge, it is a lack of knowledge. Where do you go with it. This is what is meant by "fruitful lines" of research.

There has been ample opportunity for UFO phenomena to be studied. The Condon report encourages true scientific study. It also makes this point:

It has been argued that this lack of contribution to science is due to the fact that very little scientific effort has been put on the subject. We do not agree. We feel that the reason that there has been very little scientific study of the subject is that those scientists who are most directly concerned, astronomers, atmospheric physicists, chemists, and psychologists, having had ample opportunity to look into the matter, have individually decided that UFO phenomena do not offer a fruitful field in which to look for major scientific discoveries.

It is exactly those who are most qualify to study the phenomena who have concluded that there is not much to be gained. Not necessarily because there is nothing to be learned but because there is not much to sink their teeth into. In the end, the Condon report leaves the decision about what to research to the researchers, where it should be.

[edit on 6/23/2009 by Phage]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:22 PM
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Good stuff.


Im especially tired of hearing the mantra "Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Evidence". Indeed what is or is not "extraordinary" is nothing but a value judgement. The idea of - lets say ETs for example, would only be "extraordinary" to the most uptight of minds.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:23 PM
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Op - Everything you said is all fine and dandy, but I think your missing the bigger picture. The subject of UFO's is laughable to most people. Sure, we all agree that real investigation needs to be done, but it wont be able to proceed until the climate has changed a bit.

We can take this seriously all day long, but until you can get the average Joe to stop smirking when the subject comes up then all is lost. And I think you can agree it will be a cold day in hell before that happens, this subject is filled with too much ignorance and just plain stupidity (there is a difference).

But, well written post! Star and flagged.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:24 PM
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Originally posted by The Killah29
This is why parapsychology shouldn't be a psudo-science. It would be alot more helpful.


Three or four years ago I would have laughed at you for saying that. Even still I usually take a conservative, skeptical stance, but now I recognize that position for what it is, a stance, that's all. That stance does not impart the truth. It merely prevents me from accepting a lot of garbage that I might otherwise accept as fact.

I was recently watching a show called, "Britain's Closest Encounters - Alderney Lights." Professor Richard Wiseman made a very astute remark,


The question [of Paranormal subjects] is one of accuracy not of honesty.


He's entirely correct and so long as we have a mechanism to test the accuracy of these assertions of "very out there claims." Anecdotal honesty doesn't even factor in to the equation.

I was shocked reading through the CIA's FOIA archive to find that there were a number of incidents, that are on the record, supporting the notion that the concept of remote viewing is actually a very real thing.

Science needs to get past conservatism, it's a disease.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:30 PM
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Thank you, Im a former sceptic. It is time for a rational and methodical approach to this so we can finally confront this menace once and for all!!!



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:42 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
A nice presentation. The Condon report does not say that nothing can be gained by the study of UFOs.


Some readers may think that we have now wandered into a contradiction. Earlier we said that we do not think study of UFO reports is likely to be a fruitful direction of scientific advance; now we have just said that persons with good ideas for specific studies in this field should be supported. This is no contradiction. Although we conclude after nearly two years of intensive study, that we do not see any fruitful lines of advance from the study of UFO reports, we believe that any scientist with adequate training and credentials who does come up with a clearly defined, specific proposal for study should be supported.
The study conducted by the Condon group could not find a direction for any specific study. But if a valid line of scientific research could be found, it should be encouraged. A shotgun approach to research is not science and it is never fruitful. You can't just say, "Let's study UFO's."


Numerous members of the AIAA, Dr. J. E. McDonald, and others proposed a way to set up a tracking network to NSF, ONR, NAS, & NASA. I can source the hell out of this if you like. Each of these proposals were shot down despite satisfying the criteria of, "good ideas for specific proposal for study."

I agree with the idea that science tends to be focused. However I contend that UFOs represent a new branch of study. The study of the unknown allows us to categorize things that are outside current understanding so people in specific fields of research can attempt to bring their specialty to bear against "true unknown."

Think of it this way.

True UFOs (TRUFOs) represent problems for all scientists to attack. Very much the same way "unsolvable math problems" or "dark matter" represent goal-posts for mathematicians and physicists.

[edit on 23-6-2009 by Xtraeme]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 08:55 PM
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Originally posted by Xtraeme
I was shocked reading through the CIA's FOIA archive to find that there were a number of incidents, that are on the record, supporting the notion that the concept of remote viewing is actually a very real thing.


The military kept a remote viewing project going many years and still may be at it on some level. I've never seen a UFO, but I've tried remote viewing and there's definitely something to it.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 09:10 PM
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I and many others have been abducted,I would say the crap has already been cut ,the real question is WHO is DELAYING full public disclosure,and I say delay because even they know it is unstoppable.

You dont need scientific B.S when you have corroberating eyewitnesses.

You just need to believe your fellow man more than you believe your government and your church,THATS ALL THATS IT ITS THAT EASY AND THAT SIMPLE.

Who has the most to gain by lieing to you ,a complete stranger, a retired astronaught or general,someone who risks their livelyhood and their families well being by speaking out,OR YOUR GOVERNMENT AND CHURCH??

Easy one isnt it?

The hard one is what do you do now??

You tell two friends who tell two friends who tell......you get it I think.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 09:23 PM
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You dont need scientific B.S when you have corroberating eyewitnesses.


its the sientific evidence that proves what were saying is ture and gives the eyewitnesses credablity.

the question isn't who's hidding it, it's how do we make others see that its there.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 09:25 PM
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reply to post by Xtraeme
 


interesting concept Xtraeme,

cutting the crap out would be a good thing since mainstream science could benefit from the study of unidentified phenomena. no telling where it could lead.

question though... isn't most of this, origins unknown phenomena, already being examined by entities such as NASA studying "sprites" and the weather association (NWA examining atmospheric phenomena ? how could you tie all that together without it being a huge information exchange problem ?


also, it seems you are implying that we have to trick mainstream science into forgetting about the Alien aspect of UFO's and using the everything is unknown angle. not trying to be negative here but it would be a monumental task imo to get the giggle/ridicule factor completely out of this subject. i don't think repackaging things will work. i could be wrong




your Op is step 1, what's step 2 ?

[edit on 23-6-2009 by easynow]



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 09:43 PM
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If you exclude the "little green man"B.S,and substitute previously undiscovered race of humans co-existing with us on Earth,SUDDENLy THIS IS A SELLABLE COMMODITY,BELIEVABLE,so why dont you ask yourself who started all the little green man crap??

I have found many accounts that I will endorse based on my personal experiences but come on,little green men??

This tells you exactly how long the Government has been screwing us,just look in mainstream media and research when "little green men"appeared,and this is when the government began to panic,then just research history and find out what the big deals were at that particular point and wha-la you know how and when the government was FORCED TO INIATE DISINFORMATION ACTIONS WHICH HAVE CONTINUED TILL THIS DAY.

Anyone with a military background must recognize that the Government is behaving as if it is at war already,there is no other way to justify the way the people have been manipulated,in fact the people would accept nothing less than a National or Global threat as the reason for the lies.

I easily see through the tactics of disinformation agents when they post here on ATS,well I think most of them ,enough to wonder just how big and how fast this storm we are looking at is going to really be?

mainstream science can only CONFIRM what a human being has hypothesized,so if you dont accept the humans hypothetical perspective THEN SCIENCE IS ABSOLUTELY USELESS ,and I really hope that some of us besides myself can understand this concept,science was created to validate mans observations IN THAT ORDER,under the current circumstances of public disinformation being widespread,how much credence can we lend to science?

Absolutely none ,until the human observation is first accepted as fact,a fact that science MUST DISPROVE,not a fact that SCIENCE CAN BE BASTARDIZED TO PROVE.





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