The terminology used within the UFO community can be very distracting to those looking for the truth behind the phenomenon, so this thread is an
attempt at clearing some of that up.
UFOs vs. Alien Craft
The acronym U.F.O. stands for Unidentified Flying Object. Unfortunately, this term has been appropriated to mean "Alien Craft". This is a very
dangerous usage in the terminology, because it assumes that anything unidentified is thus an extraterrestrial vehicle, rather than simply being
something unidentified in the sky.
When an object is unidentified, it's simply that. If something is "undebunkable", chances are very good that it's also nil as evidence for the
existence of aliens. Both sides of the argument need to realize that something that is put aside as unidentified after being examined by experts does
not mean there is a conclusion either way. The object was unidentified, and is still unidentified.
A good example of this is the McMinnville UFO pictures. The pictures have been examined by photographic experts and have come out of it without
obvious hoaxing. This does not mean the objects in the pictures are aliens, nor does it mean the objects weren't hoaxed. It means the photos were
examined, and those particular experts didn't find any evidence of hoaxing. The McMinnville UFO is by definition, a UFO. It is an unidentified
flying object, though there is no evidence that concludes that the object is alien in any way.
Alien Existance Theory vs Alien Visitation Theory
Just because aliens may exist (and many scientists agree that it's more likely than not) does not mean they are visiting Earth. Someone who is
skeptical about alien visitation is most likely not so skeptical about the existence of aliens.
Along those lines, if the existence of aliens is proven elsewhere in the galaxy (which I expect within my own lifetime), it does not
anything to the theory of alien visitation. Just because they're out there
does not mean they're here
: to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often
: Identify incorrectly
: something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated
: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable
evidence to the contrary; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs
Most people understand the difference between these terms. However, there are a large number who use them incorrectly. When a person sees something
that isn't really there (due to things like drugs, lack of sleep, "tricks of light", and so on), it is a delusion. That doesn't mean the person
is insane or irrevocably broken somehow, it just means they're human. All of us experience minor delusions every day. All it means is you
see/hear/experience something that isn't physically there.
Many times, when a misidentification is pointed out, it's received as an attack on the person who misidentified the object. This is not the case.
Misperception is another thing that happens to almost everyone on an almost daily basis. When a song comes on the radio with a similar beat to
another known song that's incorrectly assumed as the latter, when a certain car is noticed and later realized to be an entirely different model, or
when a bird is in a photograph in an odd wing position that makes it look suspiciously like a saucer. When these mistakes are pointed out, it's not
an attack on the person making the misidentification, it is simply a correction.
Hoaxes are intentionally misleading photos/videos/stories/etc, used in order to cause others to believe and propagate the message. They're lies,
plain and simple, and a bane to the serious study of UFOs and visiting alien intelligences.
When a skeptic doubts the validity of a witness' story, it does not immediately mean they dislike the witness, or are claiming that particular (or
all particular, in the event of a mass sighting) witness is insane or lying. Misidentifications and delusion are very common. We're all human,
I really hope this thread doesn't turn into a skeptics vs believers thread, because that's not the intention at all. I'm trying to bring the
terminology behind this scientific endeavor back to baseline, to salvage what's left of the logic and science within it. Too often UFOlogy is
perverted into a science of opinion and illogic, and anything within a person's opinion is to be considered "evidence".
I look forward to hearing the community's input on these, as well as any additional terminology clear-ups we can add. I'll edit and update the
thread as we go to reflect these, if it's warranted.
Mod edit: as requested by the OP.
[edit on 7/8/2010 by ArMaP]