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"Is ufology a science? Is biology? Is geology?"

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posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 12:32 AM
Do you know what "science" is?

Let's imagine that some biologists claim that once upon a time there was a thing called an ivory-billed woodpecker. Is that a "scientific fact"? Well, they say they have evidence: lots of folks who said they saw lots of them in the old days; paintings, etc., of them; and some dried-up old husks that are claimed to have been them. Upon surveying the literature, we have difficulty coming up with any controlled-variable laboratory testing of the alleged woodpeckers but some alleged audio-recordings are said to exist. But no one seems particularly emotional about their alleged existence and so the statement that they used to exist is stated as a comfortable, scientific fact: it is Science. Now, it's also stated that they are now extinct. Is that a scientific fact? Hmm. It's stated with the same comfortable assurance and almost the same sentence structure, right alongside. But is it "Science"? It claims, and seems, to have to do with biology, that's clear enough, but . . . ? No physical lab-top experiment has been done to "prove" that there are no more ivory-bills and one could never cover the globe to do so, so what's the theoretical status of that biological "fact"? And what if some folks down South claim that they have seen one? And what if they say that they've got a (poor) picture and an audio-recording? Does their witnessing bear upon the "scientific" nature of this biological claim? Does their photography? Does their audiotape? Are their reports, photography, and audiotapes the first elements of a "scientific investigation" or are they nothing to do with science at all? And what if someone takes the photograph and applies technology to do an image analysis and comparison to known images of ivory-bills from the past? Is any of that "doing Science"? And what if someone does a sound analysis and compares it to all currently known birds (and finds no matches except a class similarity to certain other woodpecker types)? Was that person doing science? Even if he or she didn't have a biology degree? And, if a witness brought in a sample of bird poop that he said dropped from an ivory-bill and a biochemist did lab tests on it, was there Science involved?

The preceding passage is from an article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration by Michael D. Swords entitled "Ufology: What Have We Learned?". Swords is one of the most articulate, insightful and entertaining writers on this topic alive today. I recommend reading and thinking about this article and any others that you can seek out written by him. Here you go:

Ufology: What Have We Learned?

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 12:39 AM
Science is the act of observing, so yes it is a "science". It is just more of a hobby science... People are interested, they look at the sky, make videos (real or fake), and talk about what they've observed.

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 01:30 AM
Ufology - the study of ufo's
Astrobiology - the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.
Xenology - the the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization
Exoplanets - the study of extra solar planets
Exopaleontology - the study of prehistoric life on other planets
Exopolitics - the study of the politics situation with extraterrestrial beings
Exophenotypology - the classification of different extraterrestrial beings

The prefixes Astro / Exo / Xeno can be added to many current sciences like sociology, psychology, physiology and many others.

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 03:01 AM
First of all there are no facts in science. It is all based on uncertainties and percentages. In science you cant just give a particular "fact" you have to further define it.

I found some good definitions of science which will help me explain this better, but I do not have time now, I will come back to this. So I'm leaving you with some definitions.
First a funny one (or part of)

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

now another.

1. the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation. 3. any specific branch of this general body of knowledge, such as biology, physics, geology, or astronomy.

Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceeding generation . . .As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.


posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 05:16 AM
Of course UFOlogy is not a science, it's speculation.
We know too less about UFO's (that's why we call it UNIDENTIFIED) that it could be a science.
I think 800 years ago, biology hasn't been a science as well, now it is because we know very much about or lifeforms.

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 05:36 AM
I believe science as a field is mostly respected by the results and practical use of those results. The people in the field decide how much respects it recieves by their actions.

The word 'science' is thrown around as if scientists form some regular football team that plays on Sundays and share the same political beliefs like some kind of opinionated club.

The fact of the matter is, scientists often disagree with each other as much as everyone else, and why wouldn't they? One of the main differences between science and many other domains is that, often at least, this disagreement and research into varying areas is encouraged till the most practical answer is found. There is some reasonable limits to how respected some of those arguments are. The more out there the hypothesis, sure, generally the less respect it recieves. (And the generally less useful it is)

Ufology can be treated as a form of science. The scientists involved generally won't be very respected unless they come out with something useful. It's much like any other theoretical field ... Scientists like Stephen Hawking might tackle the question of life in our universe with maths and such like and recieve respect for it and be declared 'scientific' but really in my mind I would have more respect for the field of genetics which have given us more useful results. Probalistic sciences just aren't given the same air time and with good reason.

Regarding the bird situation and the term 'scientific fact' ... Science seems fairly open to the concept that an extinct animal might be somewhere on the planet. Though they would say if they can't find it they can't study it.

The writing is vaguely interesting ... however it seems to be the same generalization and deconstructionism that can be applied philosophically to anything to state 'we know nothing'. It becomes a circular point, because the exact same attack against science can be used against everything else.

Some of it is interesting, but the 'you weren't there - how do you know?' argument just becomes tiresome after a while.

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 07:07 AM
I think that in terms of defining UFOlogies place in terms of sciences, it very much depends on wether you approach the subject in a scientific manner. For instance, going out into the world with every kind of scanning equipment, chemical sampling and testing apperatus, and probing device known to exist, and bringing those to bare on areas which have allegedly had UFO on or near them, is a scientific way to approach the subject.
Burning some lavender oil, chanting, and going into a trance in order to contact hyperdimensional beings, is NOT a scientific way to approach the subject.
Its a matter of perspective. There are UFOlogists who are most certainly using scientific methods to study UFO, for instance in Hesdalen in Norway there is a permanent obs station, which videos the strange lights that float about the area, and then researchers come to study the film, and the results of other scanning (for instance electromagnetic analysis) which are also performed. Theres no mumbo jumbo, no tin foil hats in sight, no black vans, and no messing about, just straight up scientific research into the lights which have been seen regularly in the area, and only FACTS get recorded about these lights, by the researchers.
However, there are other people, using methods which are either well inside the realms of spiritualism, or just have no scientific validity whatsoever, and these folks claim to be in contact with aliens, hyperdimensional beings, beings out of phase with our universe, blah blah blah, and have never recorded one single bit of data which actualy constitutes proof of thier claims.
I guess the easy way to tell wether a UFOlogist is a scientist or a charlatan, would be that scientists gain proof of thier claims, while charlatans just make more claims.
For those operating in a scientific manner, UFOlogy is a science. For those operating like second class psychics and wishy washy hippies, it is not.

posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 07:30 AM
Getting some well-reasoned replies to the question quoted in the thread title. Thanks for responding. What do you all think of the ivory bill comparison? Swords points out - quite validly in my view - that certain methods of gaining knowledge and certain standards of evidence are widely accepted when applied to one object of study, but that the same methods and standards are rejected as "non-science" when applied in practically the same way to some other object of study. I would like to hear some responses to this idea.

How about thoughts on the article as a whole? The woodpecker section is just a small digression from the main body of the article. It's a little lengthy (about 45 pages), but a great read I think. I'd like to hear other people's reactions to it.

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