I haven’t mentioned belief in extraterrestrials recently, but the assumption that various odd things — such as unidentified flying objects* — can only be explained by assuming that extraterrestrials exist and are visiting Earth (and even abducting people and experimenting on them) is just as irrational as any religion or form of metaphysics. Just because something seems strange, or isn’t immediately explainable, does not mean it requires some extraordinary conclusion. Lots of things that had once been attributed to gods or other elusive beings — such as storms, which the ancient Greeks thought were caused by their god Poseidon — have turned out to have mundane, natural explanations.
But belief in extraterrestrials and “alien abductions” hit prime-time television in the US, tonight; ABC’s Primetime offered an episode on the matter. Among the bits shown is the story of Stan Romanek, who famously filmed an alien peering in his window. ABC’s evidence of the video’s veracity? That Stan and his family have been subjected to ridicule over it, but stand by it.
To ABC, this is “proof” the video is what Stan claims it is. That this video is a hoax, is something the producers appear not even to consider … even though it almost certainly is one.
The show also goes over the phenomenon of “sleep paralysis,” as though the only possible explanation for it is alien abduction … without conceding there may be mundane, perhaps neurological explanations for it. As it turns out, however, sleep paralysis is a phenomenon which has been studied, and has even been observed in experimental or clinical settings (e.g. sleep labs) without one iota of evidence that extraterrestrials were responsible.
The problems with the “alien abduction” scenario are so numerous that it hardly pays to list them all; but they include: Aliens freely getting in and out of homes, sometimes in congested areas, without being seen; aliens being able to penetrate walls as though they didn’t exist, even taking abductees through them the same way; aliens being able to levitate or teleport abductees into and out of space vessels without being detected; and so on.
We can posit all of these improbable things — and more! — or, on the other hand, we could instead decide that “sleep paralysis” is a neurological phenomenon, internal to the person, requiring none of those outrageous assumptions. Simple application of Ockham’s Razor implies that the neurological explanation is the more probable … and I’ve seen nothing that compels me to think otherwise.
ABC’s “proof” that this is what’s happening to these putative abductees, is that these folks “reject scientific explanations.” And that it’s probable that extraterrestrial intelligence lies somewhere in the universe.
Sorry but I’m not impressed. What these “abductees” claim is not relevant, since they cannot back up their claims with objective, verifiable evidence. And there’s a big difference between conceding that extraterrestrial intelligence exists (which is a concession I make), and asserting not only that it exists, but that at least one extraterrestrial race is visiting Earth, abducting people, and experimenting on them.
Once again, the mass media prove themselves all too willing to be the purveyors of rubbish, nonsense, irrationality, fallacy, and leaps of logic. What a waste of time.
* The ubiquity of belief that Earth is being visited, has reached the point where a lot of people think “UFO” means “extraterrestrial spacecraft.” This is not true. “UFO” means exactly what its component words mean … i.e. it’s an object in the air that one hasn’t yet identified. Nothing more.Tags: abductees, alien abduction, alien video, alien video hoax, aliens, extraterrestrials, occam's razor, ockham's razor, sleep paralysis, stan romanek, ufo, ufos