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Be a Skeptic, UFO phenomenon by and for professional scientists

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posted on Mar, 23 2008 @ 10:00 AM
Ever wanted to hear someone with credentials giving validity to the UFO phenomenon? Check out the below link:

His Credentials

To give some background, I have been an active professional astronomer since earning my doctorate in 1975. I have published a respectable number of scientific papers in most of the right journals (including our favorites, Science and Nature), have been Principal Investigator on several NASA studies, have served as referee and proposal reviewer for NASA and NSF, belong to half a dozen professional societies, have chaired international conferences, i.e. I've engaged by and large successfully in all the usual activities of a busy professional scientist.

Some Credible Evidence

I have learned quite a bit about the UFO phenomenon over the years (certainly more than I had bargained for) and have met many of the leading figures, some credible, some deluded. When Prof. Peter Sturrock, a prominent Stanford University plasma physicist, conducted a survey of the membership of the American Astronomical Society in the 1970s, he made an interesting finding: astronomers who spent time reading up on the UFO phenomenon developed more interest in it. If there were nothing to it, you would expect the opposite: lack of credible evidence would cause interest to wane. But the fact of the matter is, there does exist a vast amount of high quality, albeit enigmatic, data. UFO sightings are not limited to farmers in backward rural areas. There are astronomers and pilots and NASA engineers -- and others who have been around the block a few times when it comes to observing natural phenomena -- who have witnessed events for which there is no plausible conventional explanation.

Suggestions on being Critical

I propose that true skepticism is called for today: neither the gullible acceptance of true belief nor the closed-minded rejection of the scoffer masquerading as the skeptic. One should be skeptical of both the believers and the scoffers. The negative claims of pseudo-skeptics who offer facile explanations must themselves be subject to criticism. If a competent witness reports having seen something tens of degrees of arc in size (as happens) and the scoffer -- who of course was not there -- offers Venus or a high altitude weather balloon as an explanation, the requirement of extraordinary proof for an extraordinary claim falls on the proffered negative claim as well. That kind of approach is also pseudo-science. Moreover just being a scientist confers neither necessary expertise nor sufficient knowledge. (I wish it did, sigh.) Any scientist who has not read a few serious books and articles presenting actual UFO evidence should out of intellectual honesty refrain from making scientific pronouncements. To look at the evidence and go away unconvinced is one thing. To not look at the evidence and be convinced against it nonetheless is another. That is not science. Do your homework!

posted on Mar, 23 2008 @ 10:41 AM
This is a great article on the fact that it calls for true skepticism.

There are way too many hoaxes out there on the Internet which I know anyone investigating this phenomenon can agree with me on that fact. All anyone has to do is a search here on ATS and you will see ton's of hoaxes on this subject.

To be a true researcher into this subject you must be a true skeptic first. Try to disqualify any supposed evidence of UFO activity. 9 out of 10 times you will be able to.

Star and flagged

posted on Mar, 23 2008 @ 10:50 AM
reply to post by brickhouse32

I agree, this is an excellent article.

I believe that to prove something is go at it as a skeptic and try to prove it wrong. TAPS is a good example, they try to replicate phenomena in some situations to see if a rational explanation can be found before automatically calling it haunted.....which a lot of people on ATS tend to do

posted on Mar, 23 2008 @ 04:02 PM
The man quoted in the article says be a true skeptic.

Not only question if something is a hoax or misidentification or even a simple misinterpretation but also question the pseudo-skeptics/scoffers that wish everything away with helicopters and cgi renderings or just utter denial. Don't make statements. Ask dignified questions. Postulate with caution. Don't accept an idea without great proof, yet don't deny something without reasonable evidence. Great advice.

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."
- Naguib Mahfouz
This blog pertains to this in a way.

"He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know."
- Lao-tzu

Edit: Fixed spelling errors.

Another Edit to Star and Flag

[edit on 23-3-2008 by Amplifeye]

posted on Mar, 23 2008 @ 04:57 PM
I really like this approach. True skepticism is a rare find nowadays. There are people who dismiss things out of hand without even considering the evidence. Those are not skeptics; those are ostriches.

On the other side are people who jump to paranormal conclusions without much thought or consideration. I think those are the people most damaging to these fields of study. Just look at this forum, for example. How much time is wasted by the many participants dealing with people posting pics and videos, or whatever, that can fairly easily be proven to have natural explanations? It's a very low signal-to-noise ratio, and I'd like to find a way to increase that ratio.

"I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led."

-Thomas Jefferson (1812)

posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 01:13 AM
I think it is a fabulous article and I must say that it is refreshing to see that some of today's scientists are still capable of true science. Scientists in general should pretty much have realized by now that our current level of understanding is always changing and moving forward. Science is not exact. Science is basically a level of understanding which we think we know (with any level of certainty).

From Wikipedia...

Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific or made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the scientific method,[2][3][4] lacks supporting evidence or plausibility,[5] or otherwise lacks scientific status.[6] The term comes from the Greek root pseudo- (false or pretending) and "science" (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge"). An early recorded use was in 1843 by French physiologist François Magendie,[1] who is considered a pioneer in experimental physiology.

more on pseudoscience from same link

Beyond the initial introductory analyses offered in science classes, there is some epistemological disagreement about the extent to which it is possible to distinguish "science" from "pseudoscience" in a reliable and objective way.[11] The term itself has negative connotations, because it is used to indicate that subjects so labeled are inaccurately or deceptively portrayed as science.[12] Accordingly, those labeled as practicing or advocating a "pseudoscience" normally reject this classification.

Pseudosciences have been characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims, over-reliance on confirmation rather than refutation, lack of openness to testing by other experts, and a lack of progress in theory development.

I think this is important and relevant to this thread. Those who have been doing "official" scientific studies (those not considered pseudoscience)within the mainstream scientific community within and without acadamea have always scoffed at the idea of ghosts, UFO's, aliens, etc.. The only problem is that I can guarantee you that not one of the scientists who has ever come forward to publicly denounce pseudoscience has seen all the evidence and data regarding what is currently considered pseudoscientific phenomenon. Yet they still have a strongly held idea that it is false because it is not based on "real science". But wait a minute..

Isn't that because the scientists are largely the ones who refuse to do that same research in the first place? There are many reasons why a scientist would refuse to be objective and look at all the evidence and/or data. The problem is not that there isn't enough evidence for the paranormal and UFO's (as examples), the problem is that pseudoscience has become what most scientists consider "junk science". But the only reason that is so is because of the sheer number of people who are unwilling to publicly study what have been so long considered psuedoscientific phenomenon in the first place.

Science is ,basically, what we think we know about the world/universe around us. Sometimes scientific discoveries are even made that contradict the current scientific data in some way. When these revisions of current scientific understanding take place within a society, it is usually because a small number of people have for years/decades/centuries argued their point while the majority of the population refuses to accept the truth. There are countless examples of this within human history.

Many once believed that the earth was the center of the universe (geocentric theory).
from wikipedia..

In astronomy, the geocentric model of the universe is the theory that the Earth is at the center of the universe and the Sun and other objects go around it. Belief in this system was common in ancient Greece. It was embraced by both Aristotle and Ptolemy, and most Greek philosophers assumed that the Sun, Moon, stars, and naked eye planets circle the Earth. Similar ideas were held in ancient China.[1]

Finally, Copernicus came forward and challenged the status quo. His new theory, the heliocentric theory which states that the sun is the center of the universe, not the earth, was based largely upon the movements of the sun and planets.

heliocentric theory from wikipedia..

Although many early cosmologists such as Aristarchus speculated about the motion of the Earth around a stationary Sun, it was not until the 16th century that Copernicus presented a fully predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system, which was later elaborated by Kepler and defended by Galileo, becoming the center of a major religious dispute.

Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and I Chronicles 16:30 state that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." Psalm 104:5 says, "[the Lord] set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "the sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises."

Galileo defended heliocentrism, and claimed it was not contrary to those Scripture passages. He took Augustine's position on Scripture: not to take every passage literally, particularly when the scripture in question is a book of poetry and songs, not a book of instructions or history. The writers of the Scripture wrote from the perspective of the terrestrial world, and from that vantage point the sun does rise and set. In fact, it is the earth's rotation which gives the impression of the sun in motion across the sky.

Martin Luther once said:

"There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must . . . invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth."

I believe that this is exactly what is going on today only today it is taking place within the scientific community itself. Skepticism is important in science, but so is looking at all the evidence and forming and objective opinion..


posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 05:23 AM

I propose that true skepticism is called for today: neither the gullible acceptance of true belief nor the closed-minded rejection of the scoffer masquerading as the skeptic. One should be skeptical of both the believers and the scoffers.

I absolutely LOVE that bit.

It's what I've always believed. The only way we are ever going to break the current deadlock in UFO investigations is to be truly open-minded in the approach to their study.

Superb article and great post, OP. Starred and flagged

posted on Mar, 24 2008 @ 10:17 PM

As a skeptical believer I too am pissed-off about the amount of hoaxes, fanatics and stone-dead skeptics that proliferate this vast area of enigma.

But to have a professional scientist with VERY credible credentials come at the UFO issue with a clear and clinical view is a breath of fresh air cutting through the clogging smog of personal beliefs.

Starred. Flagged. AND SMILEY STAMPED!!

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 06:41 AM
You can place me firmly in the skeptical believer basket. I see it as a badge of honor. I would like to see a few changes to ATS T&C's to reflect this for the general health of the movements that dominate the forums.

When someone spouts, Aliens have a secret underground base underneath my house and I fight their UFO's with thought weapons, what is a rationally minded ATS member to say? C'mon! Honestly!

Should our collective intelligence be insulted in such ways? Should the hard working skeptical believer's name be allowed to be sullied by such behaviors? Lets be honest, we all know that the media and the average "Joe Public" tends to throw us all into the same basket. You can't deny what history has shown us time and time again.

On the other side of the coin, should other ATS members be allowed to then urge them on in what is obviously a deluded belief system? If there is a mentally unstable person saying these things, is ATS willing to bare the cross of allowing a situation to continue that may flip this person completely over the edge?

I think ATS has a duty of care to it's members firstly, and then to it's advertisers and affiliates. Sure sensationalism provides hits and keeps advertisers happy but what are the real human consequences? We don't have to spend a day in these peoples skins to see what urging them on may be doing to their mental health. We are always a comfortable step away from absorbing any blame in the matter.

I believe it's time people here calmed down their sensationalist statements.

Instead of saying, "I know Reptilians exist!" or "I know the NASA covers up everything!", perhaps there should be an enforced policy of making people say "I believe....." if they can't provide tangible proof to back up their rhetoric?

Perhaps there should be a policy of question marks instead of exclamations and a removal of divisive materials that only serve to create s*** fights within the threads?

I'm all for a more skeptical approach here. Perhaps we should have an area dedicated to those who wish to take a more balanced approach where some proof (if only a little) is required?

I know this is a Conspiracy Forum but the tag-line is Deny Ignorance. I can see why the lines are firmly drawn in the sand here because it appeals to both parties.

[edit on 25/3/08 by InfaRedMan]

posted on Mar, 25 2008 @ 02:42 PM
like I said. Skepticism is important. But so is being objective and looking at all the evidence. I don't think scientists truly look at all the evidence of UFO's and the paranormal

This is profound (from wikipedia on pseudoscience):

If the claims of a given field can be experimentally tested and methodological standards are upheld, it is not "pseudoscience", however odd, astonishing, or counter-intuitive. If claims made are inconsistent with existing experimental results or established theory, but the methodology is sound, caution should be used; science consists of testing hypotheses which may turn out to be false. In such a case, the work may be better described as ideas that are not yet generally accepted.

just because something is considered pseudoscience by the mainstream scientific community (i.e. popoular science) does not mean there is any less credible information to prove it's existence than anything else. For all we know, it's just because a bunch of scientists in denial refuse to accept it and refuse to do the research because it is, just as the external text states, "NOT YET GENERALLY ACCEPTED". What scientist can you honestly walk up to and define what is pseudoscience and what isn't? No one person has all the answers. For all they know, you know more about the subject than they do, yet they are trying to form an opinion without all the information? It completely contradicts what science should be (a search for TRUTH) regardless of how outlandish and extraordinary the phenomenon.

I think that widely the paranormal has been gaining ground in science. I'm currently reading 2 books. "The God Theory" by Haisch and "Psience" by the amazing mind of Marie D. Jones. As she sais in her book, much of what physicists and scientists consider scientific ideas/principles may directly be responsible for the paranormal. Zero point energy just as one example. Even well-known physicists and astronomers have been coming forward and writing books about multiple universes and time travel and how it seems quite possible that both are real and supported by real science.

Some examples:

Michio Kaku - "Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos"

Michael Talbot with help from David Bohm and Karl Pribram - "Holographic Universe"

Just as Marie D. Jones sais in her book, "This is coming from scientists. MENSA material. Brainiacs. Intellectuals. People with Ph.D.'s! What the hell is going on here?"


[edit on 25-3-2008 by BlasteR]

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 08:14 PM

Originally posted by InfaRedMan
You can place me firmly in the skeptical believer basket. I see it as a badge of honor. I would like to see a few changes to ATS T&C's to reflect this for the general health of the movements that dominate the forums.

When someone spouts, Aliens have a secret underground base underneath my house and I fight their UFO's with thought weapons, what is a rationally minded ATS member to say? C'mon! Honestly!

[edit on 25/3/08 by InfaRedMan]

I really like this badge of honor you presented to me, I think ATS should adopt the true skeptic from this post as one of their main mottos. I got to thinking it would be great to award someone from ATS the true skeptic badge of honor. If you have somone to nominate please do so and a vote of any 3 members will make it official. Maybe we should also nominate someone for the least skeptical for fun?

posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 05:58 PM
Just to support what I talked about in my last thread, I thought I would also post this news story from Fox news which more or less acknowledges my comments (basically that some "alternative" topics are becoming more accepted by modern science).

Physicist Says Time Travel Is Not Only Possible, but Likely
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Time travel? Teleportation? No problem, says renowned physicist Michio Kaku.

Kaku, a professor at the City University of New York, is creating quite a stir in Britain with the release of his new book, "The Physics of the Impossible."

On this side of the pond, outlandish claims in books are recognized as, well, a good way to sell books.

But in Blighty, Kaku's being treated as if he's Doctor Who informing dim-witted humans about the wonders of the Universe, with front-page treatment Wednesday in both the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. Even the normally staid Economist is chiming in.

I was also reading a recent edition of "Discover" magazine in an article also written by Kaku. His article is in the Einstein special issue of Discovery magazine for March2008. The article is called "Through the Wormhole" and in this article he talks about a few things. More or less what he sais is that if you were to travel through a black hole you would need a way of negating the gravitational effects of the black hole so that you could enter it without being harmed (you would need a way of making a negative gravity feild). One possible solution is what Kaku calls "Negative mass and negative energy". Antimatter and negative matter are entirely different things.

Natt Visser of Victoria University in New Zealand estimates that you would need about the equivalent to a negative one jupiter-mass to hold the wormhole open long enough to pass through.

"Why the change? Because we physicists have realized that the nature of time is too important an issue to be left solely in the hands of the science fiction writers"

This was exciting to me in away because the concept of negative energy could also apply to the paranormal as far as ghosts and spirits are concerned. Not to mention negative mass. High EMF isn't always evident during the time physical objects are moved, but sometimes they are. As far as physical manipulation is concerned, for all we know a small negative gravity feild is being created from an intelligent source (to lift something the negative feild would need to be below the object for example).

None of our instrumentation is designed to detect negative energy because noone has thought of it before. In the book I'm reading "Psience" by Marie D Jones she thinks it could be quite possible that zero point energy is somehow responsible for paranormal/spirit activity. Hopefully we will learn more as science decides to step out of the dark ages and start to accept some of the bizarre and "quack" topics that haven't fully been considered yet by the mainstream because of the nature of the topics in general and their implications. What we are seeing now is a shift in overall philosophy and I hope that it blossoms from here into something productive for science in general so that we can learn the honest truth about the world around us. That's what science should be at least.

When it comes to these topics that have more or less been dubbed "alternative" topics, there is a big difference between constructive skepticism and a destructive arrogance in which we make assumptions rather than conducting the real science on those topics in general to prove what is really going on. Science is just a matter of what we think we know about the world/universe around us at any given point in time and I really stand by that.


[edit on 2-4-2008 by BlasteR]

[edit on 2-4-2008 by BlasteR]

[edit on 2-4-2008 by BlasteR]

posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 07:38 PM
Zero point energy has already been thought of, didn't you see the movie, "The Incredibles". There is one thing to think up something and yet another to implement that theory into a practicle working model.

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 03:52 PM

Originally posted by brickhouse32
Zero point energy has already been thought of, didn't you see the movie, "The Incredibles". There is one thing to think up something and yet another to implement that theory into a practicle working model.

Yeah my son watches that movie alot.
In the scientific community it is really old news. But as far as it's potential applications to explain paranormal activity, noone has really considered it. The scientists wouldn't want to touch that with a 30 foot pole. In my last post I noted an article by Michio Kaku in Discover magazine talking about negative energy (which is essentially zero point energy) and wormholes. Paul Dirac theorized about ZPF and believed that all of space is filled with particles in negative energy states. With a ZPF, particles pop in and out of existence, which, compared to the theory of dark energy sounds very familiar. (Maybe they're even talking about the same thing, who knows). The scientists are properly noted in her book for their research and theories.

The implications of what Zero Point Energy entails, if considered to it's true scientific potential as it is in modern science, is not being fully thought of or considered because science really hasn't opened the floodgates to the paranormal anyway. It isn't because the scientists can't do the work it's just that they won't, in fear of ridicule, harassment from peers, etc. etc. because of the overall view of the paranormal within the scientific community.

That's why you have books like this coming out where people are talking about real scientists and real documented science to support what could explain paranormal phenomenon, when the author is not an expert or scientist. It is happening because noone else is doing the work (at least not publicly).


posted on Apr, 4 2008 @ 10:19 AM

I propose that true skepticism is called for today: neither the gullible acceptance of true belief nor the closed-minded rejection of the scoffer masquerading as the skeptic.

Best quote I seen in awhile!

posted on Apr, 28 2008 @ 06:36 PM
Absolutely. There is a fine line between true skepticism and the inability to accept the truth based on your personal beliefs or opinions. Noone should be so arrogant as to think their opinions are infallible. But people who are simply not willing to accept they are wrong or otherwise acknowledge truth itself are basically self-serving and arrogant.

The challenge is being able to tell the difference between true skepticism and false skepticism. It is not so easy to tell who is being a skeptic and who is simply unwilling to accept the facts based on their opinions and beliefs. In other words it is easy to call yourself a skeptic if you are unwilling to accept a concept or theory. It is something else entirely to be objective, neutral, and accept ALL the facts.


[edit on 28-4-2008 by BlasteR]

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