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Skepticism: A Call to Arms

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posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:07 PM
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Fellow members,
I would like to bring to your attention something I think we imperatively need not only in the UFO field in general but in the Aliens & UFOs forum in particular: skepticism.

Before the same crowd that cries foul every time the word skeptic or skepticism is mentioned, here's a few definitions for your consideration:


A scientific (or empirical) skeptic is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation. (source)

Scientific skeptics attempt to evaluate claims based on verifiability and falsifiability and discourage accepting claims on faith or anecdotal evidence. (...)

Scientific skeptics do not assert that unusual claims should be automatically rejected out of hand on a priori grounds - rather they argue that claims of paranormal or anomalous phenomena should be critically examined and that such claims would require extraordinary evidence in their favor before they could be accepted as having validity. (...)

By the principles of skepticism, the ideal case is that every individual could make his own mind up on the basis of the evidence rather than appealing to some authority, skeptical or otherwise. (source)

It's in this context and with this mindset that I would like to propose that everyone tries to approach the subject in order to improve the quality of the discussion here on ATS, and hopefully of the research.


Misconceptions


There are many misconceptions that should to be put in perspective and hopefully some notions be clarified in the process.

There are some that while claiming to be skeptics are truly nothing of the sort. These people have their minds made up before looking at the evidence, don't subject it to any sort of investigation, testing or reasoning and some will probably never actually look at the evidence at all. These people aren't skeptics, they are pseudoskeptics.

On the other side of the spectrum we have the doe-eyed believers. Much like the pseudoskeptics, the doe-eyed believers have their minds made up from the beginning, no matter what contradictory evidence there is to present or show them, they will ignore it. And, when faced with anecdotal stories that support their beliefs they will accept it without much or any consideration, never mind reasoning.

Neither of these groups is relevant to serious UFO discussion and research, and ultimately, to the search of truth. It's useless to discuss this subject in a serious fashion with these groups of people. It's certainly entertaining to debate and poke fun at either group, but nothing productive will ever come from it.


A popular misconception is that just because someone is a proclaimed skeptic, as I am, it automatically means one doesn't believe in UFOs, extra-terrestrial visitation and other alternative topics.

I believe that some UFOs are extra-terrestrial in nature, but I won't stop critically thinking and evaluating stories, cases and evidence simply because they proclaim to support that conclusion.

Each case should be judge by its own merits. I don't automatically accept a particular sighting or case just because the descriptions are similar to something I might have seen or experienced.

I have witnessed a few anomalous aerial objects or phenomena and a couple have left me truly baffled. Thankfully I was in presence of friends and family members who witnessed the same thing as I did, otherwise I would probably still be questioning my own sanity.

Even though I have seen things that defy general consensus and in some cases our current understanding of physics I won't stop approaching it from a skeptical point of view; firstly because I have no way of knowing the nature of what I saw simply by having seen it, and secondly because there's no other way that we'll efficiently cut through all the nonsense that's out there with hopes of eventually making sense of the real phenomena.

In sum, skepticism is simply a methodology and mindset to approach a certain subject and study it; and it's certainly not 'denialism' as some, particularly in the believer camp, frequently claim.


Another popular misconception is the perceived negativity of debunking.

Bunk, in our context is defined as


–noun Informal.
humbug; nonsense.

Origin:
1895–1900, Americanism; short for bunkum

Synonyms:
baloney, rot, hogwash, applesauce, bull, hooey. (source)

And debunk,

The term debunk originated in a 1923 novel Bunk, by American novelist William Woodward (1874–1950), who used it to mean to "take the bunk out of things." (source)


With this in mind, I think we can all agree that there is a lot of bunk in the UFO field. Therefor there are many things that deserve, and should be, debunked.

Remember that debunking a certain case, photo or video as fakes, hoaxes or misidentifications doesn't automatically mean that all cases, photos or videos are bunk.

We shouldn't perceive the notion of debunking something as negative, but as a positive process helping us wade through all the crap that is in this field and hopefully putting us one step closer to getting a clearer picture of what the real phenomena really looks like.


(Continues on next post)




posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:08 PM
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(Cont.)

UFOs as Entertainment


While it is interesting and entertaining reading and listening to incredible UFO stories and theories, it has little to do with finding out the truth behind the UFO phenomena.

In crop circles discussions it is very common to hear comments like "I don't care if it's man-made or not, it's beautiful" or of similar fashion.

In a recent thread about a woman who claims to be the reincarnation of an extra-terrestrial being, an ATS member posted the following comment which has received several stars in approval: "It really doesn't matter if she is a schizophrenic retard or an alien from Zeta Reticuli, the message is about the most profound thing I have ever heard (...)".

While I don't want to pick on anyone in particular these comments are a good illustration of how some people are either simply interested in the entertainment value of the things, or have along the way lost sight of the ultimate goal: finding out the truth.

Really? It doesn't matter if this particular person is an alien or not? It doesn't matter if crop circles are man-made or not?

I would say that if you're really out to try and get to the bottom of the UFO enigma, the answer to these questions not only matters but is crucial!

If it's irrelevant what the real answers to a question are, or the nature of the answers, as long as the story or the aesthetics resonate with you then how can you honestly say that you want to know the truth?


Believing vs Knowing


While I'm in noways trying to tell others on how to approach the subject, I hope everyone realizes that merely believing or being entertained in some or all aspects of the UFO field doesn't count as studying it.

When faced with something obviously as complex as this subject it's not surprising we haven't pinpointed the answers, especially if we take into consideration the possibility of Governments and/or whoever (or whatever) is behind the phenomena being engaged in covering up traces of the phenomena itself.

I guess that for some believing is enough, but objective people understand that things can never even begin to be resolved until they are known. Knowing and believing are two quite different things.

I'm not putting down people who believe things for which they don't have factual proof of, but beliefs have little or no value for rational purposes.

Beliefs might be useful in motivating you to look in a particular direction, but don't be pretentious to the point of acting as if your beliefs have the same value as a piece of evidence - they don't.

It's somewhat understandable that it might be difficult letting go of a conviction, but don't claim you're interested in the truth if when confronted with evidence to the contrary you don't even look at it objectively.


Conclusions


The bottom line is that there is too much crap in the UFO field, from just plain crazy people, to hoaxes to possible disinformation. There's no way we'll ever get anywhere if people keep discussing and arguing the feasibility and credibility of things based on personal beliefs.

In fact, it's because beliefs and emotions have been the most visible aspects of UFO debate that the field is in such bad shape and has such a lousy credibility with the mainstream public.

If we're to make any headway, not only in terms of the research but also of the public's opinion, we're going to have be more demanding of the quality of the argumentation, the alleged evidence and all the personalities in the field.

In my opinion it's imperative to return the focus on the most tangible aspect of UFO research - the trace cases, the radar and visual confirmations by military and civilian personnel and so on; and using that as the flagship of the UFO field instead of the outlandish and new agey material that people currently seem to automatically associate when they think of UFOs.

How about we first show the public at large, argumentatively and factually, that there really is something to the UFO phenomena that warrants serious scientific and possibly Congressional inquiry?

We can discuss and theorize on secret ET-US Government deals, underground genetic manipulation programs and other stories until we're blue in the face, but even assuming there's any truth to them they're too far out for the general public, and without the mainstream public and media the UFO subject will continue to be as easily dismissible by some in power as it's been for the past several decades.

If anyone knows any better way of going about this without employing a skeptical approach - looking and submitting the evidence to scientific standards, being more demanding of people and their claims - I'm all ears.


I welcome and incite everyone's constructive feedback. I respectfully ask that all flames be directed at me by U2U for the sake of constructive discussion in the thread. Thank you.


Scientific truth is too beautiful to be sacrificed for the sake of light entertainment or money. (...) The universe is a strange and wondrous place. The truth is quite odd enough to need no help from pseudoscientific charlatans. — Richard Dawkins

The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true. — Albert Einstein



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:40 PM
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Michael Salla, Jonathon Reed (Rutter), Steven Greer, David Icke, Bob Dean, Blossom Goodchild, Rick Doty, John Lear, Dan Burisch, Lloyd Pye, Bill Moore, Kit Green, Philip Klass, Bill Knell, Ray Santilli, Zech Sitchin, Billy Meier, George Adamski, Art Bell, George Noory, Jaimme Maussan, Stan Romanek, Sylvia Brown etc.

Who needs skeptics?!

All of those guys want our trust, faith, attention or money. Give 'em nothing and question their sources and motives. They should expect nothing less



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:43 PM
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I think you might find one or two skeptics floating around here in their own little bubble. Most of us are believers.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:59 PM
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reply to post by converge
 


I respect your need for more scientific/physcial proof before you believe. But the problem is that many people who come into contact with these beings don't walk around with video cameras around their necks. And when faced with beings from elsewhere, you are too stunned and amazed to even think about gathering evidence.

I don't know what the answer is to this. All I can say is that if you need proof, you can gather your own. Experience is your own best teacher and verifier of what you wish to know.

I've been studying the phenomena for over 20 years and I sought and found my own proof. Seek and you shall find. Would my experiences prove anything to anyone else? If you need physical proof, probably not. Even physical proof is not enough for people these days as their first reactions are to say it is a hoax when to believe otherwise would jar their realities too much.

Personally, I like reading about other people's experiences whether they offer any proof or not. I can decern whether it meshes with what I know or not.

So, seeing is believing. But you are the one who must see for yourself. You won't believe anything on TV or the internet. There is always the possibility of hoax.

So go out, go camping away from cities, vector, etc... and have your own experiences. It really isn't hard to do.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 04:22 PM
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Originally posted by converge
...On the other side of the spectrum we have the doe-eyed believers. Much like the pseudoskeptics, the doe-eyed believers have their minds made up from the beginning, no matter what contradictory evidence there is to present or show them, they will ignore it. And, when faced with anecdotal stories that support their beliefs they will accept it without much or any consideration, never mind reasoning.

I agree. I think the reasonable believers have much more in common with the true skeptics than those believers have in common with the "blind" believers -- and conversely the true skeptic has much more in common with the reasonable believer than that skeptic does with the "pseudoskeptic".

The pseudoskeptic and blind "doe-eyed" believer are both very similar in the regards that you pointed out in the OP -- and that is that both of them have already made up their minds before they have hand a chance to review the evidence, and NO amounts of logic would sway the positions of either side.



...A popular misconception is that just because someone is a proclaimed skeptic, as I am, it automatically means one doesn't believe in UFOs, extra-terrestrial visitation and other alternative topics...

I know many skeptics who have said they truly WANT to believe in ET visitation but have not found the evidence to convince them.

I personally am very open to the possibility of ET visitation, although I haven't seen any great evidence.
Here's my personal take on the evidence:

1. The "up close" encounters (encounters of the "Third Kind" and higher) have only come from eyewitness accounts which could be false accounts (for various reason, such as lying) -- i.e. there is no "irrefutable evidence" of "Third Kind" (and higher) encounters, and

2. The only indisputable and irrefutable accounts -- such those seen by many eyewitnesses simultaneously -- have only been "First and Second Kind" encounters, such as lights in the sky and un-recognizable craft...and strange lights in the sky and unrecognizable craft, however real they may be, are not enough evidence for me to say "I believe in ET visitation".

I have personally seen strange lights in the sky that I personally could not explain. However, even though I witnessed it with my own eyes, I cannot say that that light was "unworldly" just because I personally could not explain what it was.

I don't want to get into arguing if my position is right or wrong -- that's not the point of this thread (I don't want to hi-jack the thread). I just wanted to point out that some skeptics truly want to accept the idea that intelligent ETs are visiting Earth, but they cannot convince themselves that the evidence supports that idea.


[edit on 8/10/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 04:26 PM
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reply to post by Chovy
 


See, that is the wrong approach, and it shows that you did not understood what it means to be a sceptic.

A sceptic does not "float around in their little bubble", a sceptic should accept everything as data and only weight the value of that data based in other available data. A sceptic should be not only sceptic about UFOs, for example, it should be sceptic about everything, starting with his/her own opinions, to see if those opinions are being subjectively influenced by anything else besides data.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 04:34 PM
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Originally posted by Violet Sky
I respect your need for more scientific/physcial proof before you believe.


Thank you for your comment.

You seem, however, to have missed one of my main points and even the personal experiences I briefly related.

I already believe many things, one of them being that some UFOs are extra-terrestrial in nature. Believing this as I do, I have no problem in accepting that some occupants might contact or even communicate with humans, I have never dismissed these things.

My point is not that we shouldn't just believe things or people, we simply shouldn't use those beliefs as the talking points as to why people should look into this.

One of the points I argue in my OP is that if we're going to convince people in general that we seriously need to investigate UFOs and related phenomena, we should focus and bring to their attention the more factual and tangible aspects of UFO research.

If I was trying to convince someone to take a close look at the UFO phenomena I would expose them to well documented and credible cases such as RB-47, Rendlesham Forest, Malstrom AFB, or if they wanted something recent to the MUFON report on the radar information of the Stephenville case; not my personal experiences.



I've been studying the phenomena for over 20 years and I sought and found my own proof. Seek and you shall find. Would my experiences prove anything to anyone else? If you need physical proof, probably not.


Don't you care about convincing others that they should seriously look into the UFO phenomena?

If it's just a matter of personal experiences, if you don't ever have anything tangible to show people, how is that any different from what any religion or new age pseudoreligion offers?



Even physical proof is not enough for people these days as their first reactions are to say it is a hoax when to believe otherwise would jar their realities too much.


Let's worry about getting physical evidence first, then we'll worry about how people will deal with it. Perhaps people wouldn't reject things as much as you expect them to if there was hard data in front of them.

Maybe, and in all likelihood, you won't get physical evidence of an extra-terrestrial being but there's certainly plenty of evidence of anomalous activity - be it in trace cases, radar returns or even, to some extent, video or photographic evidence.

I respect your position, and once again, thank you for your comments.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 05:29 PM
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Hi,

Just picking up on this and will try to supply something more thoughtful.

I don't buy into these labels of skeptic or debunker. Those are handles imposed by contributors to conspiracy site when confronted with the truth, science, facts.

The intelligent and critical act as if they're a persecuted minority in this environment.

When people like Greer, Burisch, Deacon, et al start pontificating on what the Greys ant from the Reptilians or whatever - one should not be apologetic in attacking this. They're circus con-men selling snake oil to an audience of idiots.

What people do in their private Bingo Parlours is of no concern to be, except this stuff overlaps with the scientific investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects. And these guys shouldn't be let in the door, let alone be hawking their alleged knowledge and expertise.

It's become the World Wrestling Federation. Cheap Entertainment for the illiterate and uncultured.


Mike



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 05:49 PM
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(Re-posted from another discussion about skepticism, I think it is worth repeating...)

I do not think it is wrong to approach every case with a critical eye, attempting to debunk it. We should always seek the prosaic before we assume the extreme. And when the prosaic fails, when the evidence is extraordinary, we must be willing to accept the extreme.

I think the separation of skeptic and believer is a false divide. Few are so entrenched in their thinking that they do not shift from camp to camp, on a case-by-case bases, day-to-day. Where as someone may be skeptical on one topic they may be a believer in another. There is a divide but it has little to do with whether someone believes or not. The divide is between Critical Thinkers and Cynics. The cynics are those aforementioned few, so entrenched in their thinking they are tilting at windmills, unable to accept either the prosaic or the extreme (depending on who they are). The Critical Thinkers on the other hand are willing to look at the evidence, they are open to the extreme and the prosaic, they are willing to admit when the evidence doesn't hold or when they are stumped, never taking anything at face value.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 06:11 PM
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Originally posted by mmiichael
The intelligent and critical act as if they're a persecuted minority in this environment.


When people like Greer, Burisch, Deacon, et al start pontificating on what the Greys ant from the Reptilians or whatever - one should not be apologetic in attacking this. They're circus con-men selling snake oil to an audience of idiots.


You bring up a very pertinent point.

It's interesting to note that back in the late 40s, throughout the 50s and most of the 60s the UFO phenomena was taken seriously by most people and to some extent the media.

The contactee movement was a fringe minority and a laughingstock to UFO researchers and certainly to the public in general. It is sad to see that things nowadays are basically reversed.

Currently the most visible aspect of Ufology is, unfortunately, these people with grandiose tales about non-human interactions with absolutely nothing to back them up, and making a living off of it, like Greer and Burisch.

Again, I'd like to point out that I'm not saying (and I don't think mmiichael is necessarily saying either) that these interactions haven't happened. I am simply against the notion of not putting these tales and these people to higher scrutiny and standards.

I wholeheartedly agree with you mmiichael that we shouldn't be apologetic about calling them and exposing them for what they really are.



What people do in their private Bingo Parlours is of no concern to be, except this stuff overlaps with the scientific investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects. And these guys shouldn't be let in the door, let alone be hawking their alleged knowledge and expertise.


Exactly.

Some of it is our own fault. I think we the people who are really interested in scientifically investigating and studying the subject should do a better and more proactive job calling things for what they really are.

I think that for the good of the field, and even to the unbeknownst benefit of some of the so called believers who despise skeptics and what our message is, we should make a stand.

We should reclaim (once again) the UFO subject as a serious, intellectual and scientific field and push out all the crazies, frauds, hoaxers and con-men who have plagued it for far too long.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 06:16 PM
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I would not call myself a ”researcher” but do have a genuine interest in finding out the truth. I don’t have much expertise that can help other than my basic knowledge of physics and my critical thought or logic. One of the things I find is as soon as new age or religion is brought into a topic it’s an automatic turn off. The subject itself becomes irrelevant and is a big red flag for cultish behavior. This is the only thing that gave a knee jerk reaction about Greer. It is unfortunate because he had many good witnesses. I think that there are many people out there that feel the same way. I just wish this subject was kept clear of new age practices and religion.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 06:35 PM
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reply to post by converge
 


Great thread, we can't get enough of these. There is way to much disunity among the UFO community. In reality a true UFO researcher will always be skeptical until a case is proved or debunked, of course some lean more one way or the other but that is only human. As you mentioned, we have the "pseudobeleivers and psuedoskeptics", those are the sides of the 'spectrum' that are no good for ufology or any type of legitimate research, those are the ones that do harm, those are the ones who blindly debunk or believe because of their own selfish purposes. So if we can all stay away from those ends and gravitate towards the 'middle' (a true ufologist,ie; scientific method) we will all make this field MUCH better IMHO. There have been many other threads on this whole issue as well, here are a few:

Skeptics and Believers don't exist

Debunking Pseudoskepticism: Common fallacies

The State of Ufology

UFOs: Lets cut the crap already

A Brief Perspective On The UFO Phenomena

Five Things You Should Keep In Mind Before Posting In The UFO Forum


In my opinion it's imperative to return the focus on the most tangible aspect of UFO research - the trace cases, the radar and visual confirmations by military and civilian personnel and so on; and using that as the flagship of the UFO field instead of the outlandish and new agey material that people currently seem to automatically associate when they think of UFOs.

How about we first show the public at large, argumentatively and factually, that there really is something to the UFO phenomena that warrants serious scientific and possibly Congressional inquiry?


110% I agree with you, this is the only way in my opinion, to actually progress this field and hopefully find the 'truth'--whatever that may be. This is the same strategy I try to employ, although sometimes it is not quite as attractive as a flashy youtube video or the Galactic Federation of Light.


Again, great thread.


EDIT to add another great thread link that is important to this discussion:

The Dark Side of "Conspiracy Theory"


[edit on 8/10/2009 by jkrog08]



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:05 PM
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reply to post by converge
 


Relax mate.. though they can be annoying sometimes, and too many are ill educated and make up incorrect scientific reasons that completely show them to be monkeys rather than skeptics, Skeptics ARE needed. For all the idiots on OUR side that see a helicopter and scream ALIENS STOLE MY BBQ WHILE ANAL PROBING A DEAD CAT!!!! Skeptics are the first ones to say.. HEY RETARD!!!! ITS JUST A HELICOPTER!!

Plus for those of us that go off on pseudo intellectual tangents (not that I have ever done this) skeptics, well the ones with brains, do throw common logic into the mix that we forget..so like it or not.. claim it or not.. ANY good ufologist will be skeptical when seeing certain things in the sky at first. THEN when ALL possibilities are ruled out.. THEN we can throw the alien invasion bomb.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:07 PM
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reply to post by stanlee
 


oh yeah... yes. I said bomb... and retard too



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:08 PM
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reply to post by stanlee
 


I don't think that is what he/she was saying. The OP was not bashing skeptics, rather trying to state that it is nessicary to be a 'skeptic', as long as it is not a pseudoskeptic. On the other side is the pseudobeleivers, the OP simply suggest that we all remain empirical and scientific in our approach to ufology, it was not a bash on anyone who is correctly going about investigating this very real phenomena.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:22 PM
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reply to post by jkrog08
 


well colour me an idiot mate.. I didnt even read it.. lol Why? because 9 times out of 10, its always "skeptics shove off" and it gets old.. so.. I assumed.. oops lmfao!!



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:25 PM
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reply to post by stanlee
 


No problem, we all make mistakes as we are all human (I think!). The important thing is if we learn from those mistakes, ATS is full of endless possibilities to learn something useful.


PS: You may want to edit your post to more accurately reflect the thread.



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:31 PM
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Why label yourself altogether?



posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 07:35 PM
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I've been involved in the UFO world for about thirty years, on and off, mostly on. I was a MUFON field investigator and State Section Director until the "Gulf Breeze" mess, when I detected that some "serious" UFO investigators were going new age on us and the national organization refused to police itself. I've decided that there are three basic groups of UFO-involved people: the skeptical investigator; who tries to limit his statements to what he can prove, and while he may think the evidence suggests alien visitation, knows that "proof" is not yet at hand; the Debunker, who twists scientific methodology into a pretzel and automatically dismisses any UFO encounter, thereby proving only that they are not in the least scientific; and the "True Believer" who has made aliens and UFO sightings into a "spiritual quest". Science doesn't interest them in the slightest, and they are easily offended when people don't "believe" their tales of space brothers from Zeta Ridiculous or Reptilians from Uranus.
MUFON may be better than it was in the early 1990's, but I'm still looking for a network of people who want to know rather than believe.



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