Posts Tagged “aliens”

OlKu / Flying Saucer with Alien, via Open Clip Art LibraryThe 1947 Roswell, NM UFO incident is the stuff of UFOphile legend. For “true believers” in extraterrestrial visitation, it’s pretty much all they need to know. That it was not actually an extraterrestrial vehicle crash, does not matter to them. That no one has offered the slightest bit of verifiable evidence it might have been, does not matter to them. That the government has explained what really happened — over and over and over and over and over again — does not matter to them. No, the more they’re told it wasn’t an extraterrestrial crash, and could not have been, the more convinced they become that’s precisely what it was.

For UFOphiles, facts are irrelevant … they know “the Truth” and that’s all there is to it.

But it’s not as though they haven’t had time to gather up and present some meaningful, compelling evidence. Say, pieces of the crashed vehicle which have been objectively tested and determined to have only extraterrestrial origin. Or body parts that have been examined and shown cannot be from any animal on earth. UFOphiles have had decades to produce that — but they have staunchly and vehemently refused to do so. Instead, they just bellyache and whine about “government cover-ups,” as though somehow that absolves them of the obligation to demonstrate the veracity of their outlandish claims.

It’s not a coincidence that, on the 65th anniversary of the supposed “flying saucer crash,” one more wingnut UFOphile has decided to come forward and claim he somehow knows an extraterrestrial vehicle crashed that day in 1947. As USA Today reports via the Detroit Free Press, he’s a former CIA agent who says he saw the evidence in a government vault (WebCite cached article):

A former CIA agent is going on the record to say the alleged UFO incident on July 8, 1947, in Roswell, N.M., really happened, the Daily Mail and other news organizations report.

Chase Brandon, who worked 35 years with the CIA, said documents regarding the alleged landing of beings from outer space are locked up at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va.

He found evidence in a mysterious box in CIA headquarters … but strangely, refuses to say what was in the box:

“That’s all I will ever say to anybody about the contents of that box,” [the Huffington Post] quoted Brandon as saying. “But it absolutely for me was the single validating moment that everything I had believed and knew that so many others believed had happened truly was what occurred.”

So, Mr Brandon, you say you’ve seen evidence … but not only do you refuse to produce it, you refuse even to describe it? We’re just supposed to take your word for it? Because you’ve said so? Really!?

Sorry, but no. You want to say you can “prove” an extraterrestrial vehicle crashed at Roswell NM, Mr Brandon? Then produce your fucking evidence … or else shut the fuck up and go away. I’m not stupid enough just to swallow the line you’ve reeled out, and I’m insulted you would actually expect me to do so. Man up, Mr Brandon … and all the rest of you UFOphile lunatics. Your games and bullshit are juvenile, and insulting to our intelligence. Take responsibility for your claims. Either produce objective, verifiable evidence for them, or go away and stop bothering the rest of us. OK?

Photo credit: OlKu, via the Open Clip Art Project.

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A UFO - It sort looks like an old style ceiling light fixtureAs though a divided, contentious Congress in a divided, contentious Washington has nothing better to do with its time than satisfy wingnuts, cranks and freaks, a University professor in Missouri thinks Congress should hold hearings looking into UFOs. AOL News reports on this demand (WebCite cached article):

Do you think the House or Senate will have any extra time to discuss UFOs? While it sometimes might seem as though our lawmakers are from outer space, this hasn’t stopped one college professor from urging Congress to take a serious look at unidentified flying objects.

Citing findings from a 12-year-old groundbreaking French UFO study, University of Missouri-Columbia psychologist and adjunct professor of peace studies Bill Wickersham has issued a call for congressional leaders to boldly go where their predecessors wouldn’t.

The report Wickersham cited is called COMETA, and it was released in 1999. Since then it’s proven a favorite “proof” of a US-government cover-up of extraterrestrial visits in the ufology community. Pretty much everyone else has ignored it as much-less-than-compelling “proof” of anything.

Ufonauts love to trot out that the committee that produced COMETA was made up of fairly eminent French engineers and former high-ranking military officers. While this sounds impressive, it unfortunately does not grant them any veracity; to assume it does, is to stumble on the fallacy of the appeal to authority. That COMETA could not explain some 5% of UFO reports collected by the French government, does not mean that they can only be explained by extraterrestrials. That in itself is another fallacy, the argument from incredulity, aka “the divine fallacy” (since the agent called upon to explain any given mystery is often God). In addition, the assumption that there must be one — and only one! — explanation for those mysterious 5% of UFO reports, is itself invalid. In fact, we have no way to know how many explanations there may be for them! It’s possible there are 2 different explanations for them, or 20, or even that each and every one has its own, unique explanation. That the folks who drafted COMETA could not think of any, is — quite frankly — unimpressive. And it hardly proves anything.

Photo credit: dimland.

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One of the most notorious pseudohistorians currently living, Zechariah Sitchin, has made the big time … in the form of an interview with none other than the venerable Gray Lady, the nation’s “newspaper of record.” If you don’t know who Sitchin is, don’t worry, the New York Times covers his wingnut theories in a quick fashion, although it hardly does justice to his pompous wordiness (WebCite cached article):

Origin of the Species, From an Alien View

WHERE did humankind come from?

If you’re going to ask Zecharia Sitchin, be ready for a “Planet of the Apes” scenario: spaceships and hieroglyphics, genetic mutations and mutinous space aliens in gold mines.

It sounds like science fiction, but Mr. Sitchin is sure this is how it all went down hundreds of thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. Humans were genetically engineered by extraterrestrials, he said, pointing to ancient texts to prove it.

Sitchin deeply imbues every sentence he writes with an obnoxious certitude, as well as the implication that he’s the only human being who’s ever actually read the ancient texts he claims he’s read. He insinuates that there are no Sumerologists or Assyriologists other than himself. The Times sums up his expertise, as well as his so-called “argument”:

Starting in childhood, he has studied ancient Hebrew, Akkadian and Sumerian, the language of the ancient Mesopotamians, who brought you geometry, astronomy, the chariot and the lunar calendar. And in the etchings of Sumerian pre-cuneiform script — the oldest example of writing — are stories of creation and the cosmos that most consider myth and allegory, but that Mr. Sitchin takes literally.

In his kitchen, Mr. Sitchin pulled two Danish out of a Zabar’s bag and began to explain. It starts with the planet Nibiru, whose long, elliptical orbit brings it near Earth once every 3,600 years or so. The planet’s inhabitants were technologically advanced humanlike beings, Mr. Sitchin said, standing about nine feet tall. Some 450,000 years ago, they detected reserves of gold in southeast Africa and made a colonial expedition to Earth, splashing down in what is now the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Sitchin said these Nibiru-ites recruited laborers from Earth’s erect primates to build eight great cities. Enki, who became the Sumerians’ god of science, bestowed some of the Nibiru-ites’ advanced genetic makeup upon these bipeds so they could work as miners.

This is how Mr. Sitchin explains what scientists attribute to evolution. He says the aliens’ cities were washed away in a great flood 30,000 years ago, after which they began passing on their knowledge to humans. He showed a photograph of a woodcarving from 7,000 B.C. of a large man handing over a plow to a smaller man: Ah, the passing on of agricultural knowledge. Anyway, he said, the Nibiru-ites finally jetted home in their spacecraft, around 550 B.C.

There are a number of glaring, obvious flaws with Sitchin’s scenario, not the least of which is: If these aliens were so advanced that they could pilot spacecraft and engineer humanity, how could their cities have been destroyed — to the point of driving them off the planet entirely — by something as prosaic as flooding? I mean, had they no means to deal with it?

Sitchin makes the same mistake many pseudohistorians do … which is to confuse the speculation and mythology of the ancients, and their metaphorical expressions and various metaphysical suppositions, with fact. For instance, he assumes that because ancient Near Easterners — such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Hebrews — wrote about a “great global flood,” the only possible conclusion is that there absolutely must have been a great global flood! He cannot conceive that there may have been a single localized (yet devastating) flood, which eventually morphed in the telling into something much larger and even more devastating. Oh no. Couldn’t have happened! The presumption that “the Ancients” never, ever wrote fiction, never exaggerated, never repeated unfounded rumors, never leaped to conclusions, and never misrepresented or misstated facts, is of course totally ridiculous … yet Sitchin, for all his apparent intelligence, is by no means the only person to hold this idea.

Sitchin’s leaps to conclusions and pseudoacademic arrogance are all just too asinine for words. Unfortunately his pablum is widely believed, though, and he’s a best-selling author, many times over. Sigh.

Hat tip: The Skeptic’s Dictionary.

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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.

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