It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Neutrality—definition, possibility of adherence in a scientific study

page: 1

log in


posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 02:26 AM
We sometimes hear calls for a scientific investigation of UFOs. Dr. J. Allen Hynek said he started off as a skeptic. Dr. James. E. McDonald became interested in the topic because of a somewhat unspectacular personal sighting of a distant point of light that he and the two meteorologists with him couldn’t explain. There seems to have been a lot of bias among members of the Condon Committee before they started work, not to mention skipping of strong cases and fudging of the conclusion. And I suppose almost nobody is truly unbiased when starting any scientific study or experiment. Often one goes in with the expectation of confirming a hypothesis. But when using a calculator people usually don’t even bother to guess the answer but simply punch up the numbers and look at the result. That’s a neutral stance.

Regardless, how should one even define neutrality in the first phase of a truly scientific UFO study, which is to try to merely answer the initial basic question of whether or not there is anything at all of high strangeness going on in our skies? Supposedly a scoffer can (1) disregard the word of thousands of pilots, police officers, radar operators, etc. out of hand and (2) assume a negative view (perhaps because the antics of charletans make the whole topic seem like utter nonsense). But can someone do (1) without doing (2), in other words wipe the slate clean and take a neutral approach? Maybe it’s not in human nature to do so. But in science, the results of any study or experiment, if somewhat surprising, will be subject to scrutiny, always with influence of bias (or even doctoring of results!) suspected.

So what is a good definition of neutrality on the basic UFO question?
Is it necessary if participating with others in a research project?
Is it possible to be neutral and let the data do the talking?

In case that’s not clear enough, to take the example of the Phoenix Lights, we have thousands of witnesses, and at least those interviewed in documentaries, etc. said they very clearly and unmistakably saw a structured craft about an hour and a half before the flare drop, yet a significant proportion of people disbelieve those witnesses. So in this case would the criterion for neutrality be to neither believe nor disbelieve those witnesses? Is that even possible? What is neutrality in this case (not that it’s that simple; the black-budget theory)?

The main issue with regard to a scientific study is trying to avoid the influence of bias, especially to prevent any kind of cheating. Scientists are suspicious about the conduct of studies, not only looking for evidence of cheating but of unforeseen factors that may have influenced the results. And in one clinical trial the results after five years of follow-up were pretty much refuted by the 10-year results, leading to extended follow-up of many. It can get complicated.

The actual study I have in mind has strong built-in safeguards, but I’m still wondering how deal with this notion of neutrality. You can’t tell people what to think, just not to let it interfere with the task at hand. But belief that the study is being conducted in an unbiased manner (controlled by a computer program that makes false positives virtually impossible) is an important aspect of the project. And it would be nice to be able to claim a neutral approach, but that may ring hollow in the case of such a highly polarized atmosphere surrounding even the basic question.

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 02:49 AM
Good luck escaping bias...

Why do you think we've been so incredibly wrong, ALL THE TIME!

Here, you can start with this list:

Cognitive bias

A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations, leading to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.[1][2][3] Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison with what is normatively expected; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable facts.

We are built on patterns, skepticism is a product of going against the grain of an already accepted belief... amongst other things.

Well... some people want to believe, some don't... This universe is full of 'phenomenons', we are incredibly ignorant... but we think we know way more than we actually do, which all ends up steering away from 'neutrality'. We attach emotion to just about everything, here in lies our inability to achieve neutrality... well, there's more to that rabbit hole, but lets not over think it.

I have spent countless hours researching information about our current inability to actually find truths in 'reality'... here is generally where it all starts:

List of cognitive biases

Thank you... right brain, left brain... whoever designed our brains, I have some serious issues with you!

Here's a couple goodies from the list:

Ambiguity effect – the tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem "unknown."[6]

Attentional Bias – the tendency of emotionally dominant stimuli in one's environment to preferentially draw and hold attention and to neglect relevant data when making judgments of a correlation or association.

Availability cascade – a self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse (or "repeat something long enough and it will become true").

Anchoring – the tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on a past reference or on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (also called "insufficient adjustment").

lol, I didn't even make it past 'A'!

emm.. yeah, neutrality

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 03:04 AM
reply to post by xpoq47

To cut down on error and false positives, I'd recommend any and all evidence that relies on sole eye-witness testimony, regardless the credentials of the eye witness, regardless the number of eye witnesses, to have only consideration of interest, but, no more consideration than that.
Eye witnesses are unreliable and eye witnesses can be tampered with, altered with chemical, social, and hypnotic suggestion.

Witnesses should only be considered as the equivalent of litmus; indicators that something may have occurred, but only so much as hard physical evidence can bear out
Ex: Witness A reports seeing object X. Is there radar data? Were there any missile tests in the area? What are the locations of airports, heliports, and routine flight paths of regular aircraft? Where was Venus? If no hard data corroborates, then, 'object X' remains 'object X', not even meriting classification as a possible point of interest regardless witness testimony.

Too often investigations focus on witness testimony and the witness becomes the case, where the witness then goes on to cash in on a brief, or prolonged career as a canon member of semi-celebrity treatment at UFO conventions.
To avoid this, witness testimony, all witness testimony, regardless the claims, should be be considered near irrelevant, and only relevant so much as the witness serves as a litmus indication of something happening.

For hard positives, investigations need be limited to video, radar data, and/or any and all other physical evidence cross referenced with outside data to limit misleading hits like Balloons or fantastic stories made up by people that want attention.

Further, active approaches need be investigated. Abductees, for instance, claim repeat visitations. Why not pay some of them a small bit to participate in getting strapped with a GPS bracelet/ankle monitor to wear full time 24/7, sleeping bathing, all the time? Hard GPS data showing a subject zooming through the sky at inconceivable speeds might be worthwhile data of significant interest.

edit on 31-7-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 03:21 AM
Impossible to escape bias, but the test can be done in an unbiased way.

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 03:30 AM
reply to post by FractalChaos13242017

That's a beautiful Wikipedia page (according my own biases [apparently of several types]), worthy of bookmarking and occasional review. A critic of UFO books/articles/reports could certainly benefit from going through that (or die trying!). Thanks

I just want to be able the say that the project itself takes a neutral approach, I guess, and not get preachy and try to claim that people do or even can.

edit on 31-7-2012 by xpoq47 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 04:37 AM
reply to post by Druscilla

Well, I’ve already explained the project in another thread. It’s just a camera-control system designed to automatically detect anything bigger than a Buick caught hovering and train and zoom three cameras on it and take video with time and camera data stamped on every frame. But there have to be three camera owners that live in the same neighborhood and strictly adhere to the rules of the project, since any results it gets will be subjected to strong scrutiny. Radar confirmation will come through FOIA requests for FAA and weather radar data to be filed only if something that really looks like an alien craft is caught “close-up and personal” by three cameras.

The chance of having any eyewitnesses at all is low, although the system will automatically send e-mail notification to people in the neighborhood who requested it, so that they might be able to witness an event live (which will be a helicopter or balloon in nearly all cases, since the software can only judge location and size, not type of object).

I was planning to stream images live on a Web site, but I suppose that’s worthless even if people record it, because it would be possible to fake that (and the local computers only send image data if there is something new and suspicious).

But the system is fully automated, and the source code will be available for scrutiny. And, hopefully, the software is unbiased, although it is designed to ignore birds, planes, insects, clouds, etc.

The only chance for a false positive that comes to mind is a balloon made to look like a flying saucer, like the “Balloon Boy” thing, made with plastic tarps and duct tape, I suppose. Once pictures are taken, the nature of the object is a matter of human judgment based on the pictures and the radar data. False negatives? Long list of possibilities: blind spots, power outages, whatever. And it’s for daylight-only operation only on clear days.

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 08:56 AM
reply to post by Druscilla

Yes, eyewitnesses can be surprisingly wrong even when not knowingly lying. A boy once pointed out to me what he thought was a UFO, and I could see how one might think so but easily recognized it as a blimp with its advertising array on the fritz and explained it to him. Not long afterward it displayed a clear message. A lady once pointed out to me what she took as a UFO, and I had to explain to her what a searchlight was and its probable use at that time. But in both cases, even though giving two witnesses failing grades, I have to give myself 100% as far as identifying what it was in the sky. There has to be some limit to discounting eyewitness testimony, despite various convincing demonstrations of how unreliable it can be.

So what about police officers as UFO witnesses? They know they have to fill out reports, meaning, while not perfect, they are by habit more careful observers than most people. We may think that the number police officers who claim to have sighted UFOs is pretty small, right? Well, the PRUFOS database contains over 900 cases just in the U.K.

In the case of crew and passengers of a commercial airliner who all claim a close encounter, I can come up list of silly (and downright insulting!) possible explanations, but if Dr. Haines shows up, I’d better run, because that file of similar cases in his hand is awfully thick!

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 09:17 AM
reply to post by xpoq47

The problem with witness testimony, or word of mouth is that it's intangible, and regardless the credentials of the speaker, it proves nothing.

Even if the POTUS, or some other World leader of a high ranking nation came out of the closet and said on international TV in interviews, that they knew, without a doubt extraterrestrials were visiting us, and that they had even had meetings with them behind closed doors; it's just words, and proves nothing to us, the general public, other than that some high ranking official may be telling the truth, or simply taking the practice of being a lying politician to the next level.

Such testimony could even come with certified documents, but, paper is paper, just like so many science fiction novels; entertaining for sure, but, we still don't see aliens.

I mean, for all we know, they could have met with just another Valiant Thor.

Until we see/meet and/or are introduced to the aliens with a public demonstration of their craft (not necessarily a sharing of technology), a demonstration at close quarters like having landings in very public places with cameras on the scene and scheduled for the event, it's all just the same smoke with no fire it's always been.

edit on 31-7-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 09:29 AM

Originally posted by FractalChaos13242017
Good luck escaping bias...

Boo hooo, majority of people are biased and have a problem with that but some of us do not. Look at me, I keep on repeating - I do not take the position of skeptics or believers, I have a mind of my own to let someone on a TV show dictate me either of the two ways.

Example: A lot of documents, shows, materials and information in various other ways (excluding David Icke, Alex Johnes and most of the internet and TV stuff if not all) talk about UFOs, alien encounters.

Now we do know that there are all the writing and so many people and tribes and developed ancient civilitions such as the Mayans, Aztecs, Inka, Egyptians, Babylonian, Sumerian, so much information that for the reason they remain unknown cannot be excluded.

Some military people and documents claim they do not know what these UFOs ARE! OK? So 'let's sound normal 'as if not being open-minded makes you not normal' and say that ALL UFOS ARE MAN MADE. Then WHY ARE SO MANY DOCUMENTS FOR ONCE SHOWING WHAT THEY ARE, SOMEONE's gotta know what they are right?

But since it's so confusing to decide are THEY really us, or THEM (someone else?) one should be OPEN-MINDED BASED ON ALL THE INFO and NOT EXCLUDE anything.

Which is why believing so many things is wrong, SO is DENYING ALL.

I do take a position of my own - ANCIENT ALIENS -not because Von Daniken says so I see, something like beings from elsewhere may have visited - it is MY OWN OBSERVATION too.

And to show you how I have mind of my own - Ancient Aliens claims a nuclear explosion occured in the past that is ANCIENTS HAD NUCLEARS AND LASERS (HELP FROM ALIENS) - I DISAGRED

There may have been meteors causing a blast as strong or stronger than a nuclear, there may have been other means.

Or as one episode I watched yesterday from Season 3 claiming the first Chinese swords were suddenly replaced with the Katana and all these Samurai swords we see lately - and they think it is possible for the sudden change to have been helped by extraterrestrials - I DISAGREED, because it is not that extraodinary human to event something better for once

And I remain OPEN-MINDED for all sorts of possibilities, that there may be non-human beings BASED ON all that exists around them whih is FAR BEYOND THE BIBLE to compare and say that being open-minded is the same as believing in religion. IT IS NOT the same.

And while there are believers in Galactic Federation of Light, believers in completely crappy ARTICLES on the internet, there are the scoffers who make threads like 'ALIENS DO NOT VISIT THE EARTH' or 'ALIENS CANNOT TRAVEL SO FAR' and bullcrap like that - LIKE HOW DO U EFFIN KNOW HOW THEY TRAVEL?

Does this make me certain - aliens exist and are visiting - NO I AM NOT. Do I exclude that? No I DO NOT. Because some things seem possible with so much information. I am only open-minded for some of the things, while for others I do not think are anything more than heresay.

While skeptics think that they are more correct because it's EASIER TO DENY but not accepting possibility?? Not accepting possible things based on information so far? WRONG WAY. See my sig

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 09:39 AM
reply to post by Imtor

So long as you keep saying "maybe", it'll always be "maybe", which is okay for you if you're okay with "maybe".

Most others prefer a definite "yes" or a definite "no".

For instance, If I order something online, and it doesn't show up on schedule, and I call the company that I ordered it from, I don't want to hear "maybe it will come tomorrow". I want it delivered, or, I want my money back. Yes, or no, not "maybe".

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 09:45 AM
reply to post by Druscilla

• I've always said certain NOes to a lot of things like 4th of August Aliens will come, Aliens come from Hell, are Demons, Satan etc etc.. - if I am close minded about those that's because what will not happen or has a chance of 10^-6 to happen, with so slim chance, we can safely call No, so there is no need to be open-minded for things that will almost certainly not happen
• I've said YES as in possible about only some cases, that includes possibility of other beings, while not certain, while in the majority of cases I do not even think are likely
• And I've never said certain YES because there isn't one case I can call a certain proof of aliens

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 11:10 AM
This is starting to remind me of the UFO Curse, by Philip J. Klass

No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today.
You will never know any more about what UFOs really are or where they come from. You will
never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know
today. As you lie on your own deathbed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are
today. And you will remember this curse.

And I was just reading a wonderful Wikipedia article linked by the wonderful article about bias that FractalChaos13242017 posted:

List of common misconceptions

Totally cool, and thanks again.

edit on 31-7-2012 by xpoq47 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 04:02 PM
reply to post by xpoq47

There has been scientific approaches to understanding UFO phenomena. A very good one, by Paul R Hill ( - his book is available at Amazon.

In Norway at Hessdalen, they have an automated UFO imaging system in place, and research around it (

... my 5 cents.

posted on Jul, 31 2012 @ 09:34 PM
reply to post by deckdel

Yes, Paul Hill’s work is interesting. I wish he were around today and I could discuss gravitic propulsion with him. He’s another example of someone who got into the topic on the heels of a personal sighting. So much for neutrality.

The Hessdalen setup was one of the inspirations for the software I’m working on now. It takes images at intervals and records them, after which they are examined by the software. That was one of the things I had to improve on for the ambition goals of the current project. The solution is to not to record but downgrade the color depth to six bits per pixel and set aside the unusual ones while doing that, then to see if they are new to the image. Then if something new is still there after a quarter-second it’s suspected of being a hovering object. That much is done at the computer connected to the camera, which sends extremely simplified image data to the control computer at the appropriate times. There are three such local computers, each connected to a camera, and they are a few miles apart. The control computer examines image data once a suspect is detected and uses a combination of a modified line-drawing subroutine and some trig functions to order the other two pan/tilt camera heads to trace the line of sight of the camera trained on the suspect. Then, if all three can converge on it and it’s bigger than a family car (known once examined from three angles), recording of images starts. The need to photograph these things from three angles was emphasized as one of the predefined conditions for Project Twinkle of 1950, trying to photograph green fireballs, using Askania Cinetheodolites, which took one frame per second on 35-mm film, stamping azimuth and elevation on each frame, and were used for tracking guided missiles during their early days of development at White Sands, etc. That was unsuccessful, according to the final report (which some dispute). So that was another bit of inspiration for this, as well a mass-stakeout proposal by Captain Ruppelt and a few other such schemes being tried even today. Another was software called UFOCapture, mostly used to capture images of meteors. Discussion of that highlighted a couple of points that would have been problems but were easy to address. I still have to deal with supporting a variety of control protocols, since I can’t predict exactly what equipment people will have, and what once looked like the industry standard may have just fizzled out. Anyway, still much to do.

top topics


log in