Skeptics have already made their minds up about UAPs

Discussion in 'Conspiracies' started by Yazata, Sep 1, 2023.

  1. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    On this site we only have your word for that.
    Good old honest MR.
    You have created you own bed on here, so you now have to "lie" in it.... So to speak
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I wasn't trying to be democratic. I was just making a point with an analogy. That cars are an example of things that aren't infallible and yet can be totally reliable. The point is made. There is no reason to belabor it.

    Most people's experiences of what is going on right in front of their eyes is what is really happening. Unless they are mentally ill or pathological liars. Thankfully those are not most people.

    It's a matter of trusting the eyewitness account over the skeptic's who always has an agenda to debunk the sighting and discredit the eyewitness(es). The choice is obvious.

    Many uap sightings are not tracked down though. Those that I have posted in the uap explanations thread tend to be of that nature and are among the most famous and unresolved. So there are still many that have the possibility of being something new and exotic.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2023
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    And can be totally unreliable as well. Which was my point.
    Not at all true. For the simplest example google "confabulation across saccades." What our eyes see is literally not what we see; it's a fabrication that our brains create that makes us think we are seeing something like a picture of the world outside.

    For some more advanced examples, consider the simple illusions that make people think there are dark dots at the intersections of white lines, that shades of gray are identical when they look very dissimilar to us, and that lines are curved when in fact they are straight. Are those people liars? Nope. They are just experiencing the same illusions that all of us do, caused by the fact that our eyes are not cameras, and our brains do not process their input like a camera.

    We also make assumptions. If you show someone a video of a dot moving down a highway at the same apparent speed as other cars. they will assume it is on the highway and is the helmet of a motorcycle rider or something similar. Even if it's a piece of dirt blowing in the wind in front of the camera. This is due to how our depth perception works.

    All of which means that, for most people, what they see is at best a rough approximation of what's really going on. Usually it serves us well enough to get through our day.
    No, even people who are perfectly fit are subject to such mistakes.

    Consider a common legal example of a reliable vs an unreliable witness. Both are asked what color a house is; the house is blue on the side facing them and red on the other side. The unreliable witness says "it's blue! I can see it with my own two eyes." The reliable witness says "the sides that I can see are blue."

    Is the unreliable witness a pathological liar, or mentally ill? Or did he just make an assumption that turned out to be wrong?
    If you trust the guy who said the house is blue, you have been misled. Even though he considers himself a reliable witness, and even if you trust him.
    Agreed! Which means we don't know enough to say what they are. Lots of unknown sightings is not evidence that they are anything new and exotic. Just that they are unknown.
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  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I don’t think MR disagrees with your last point, billvon; he’s simply sharing what some UAP’s could be. He doesn’t believe these to be space alien crafts, by his own admission. But, who’s to say they can’t be? Skeptics risk coming across disingenuously if they’re only interested in debunking alternate ideas. These are just ideas, at the end of the day. This entire section has no basis in hard evidence to conclude one way or the other if certain UAP sightings have any merit to them.
    Magical Realist likes this.
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Which means 99% of the time it is a reliable perception of what is happening before us. If people were as liable to perceptual errors as you claim there'd be millions of car accidents every day due to them. The fact that there are not means human perception is a highly reliable and accurate source of information about our immediate environment.

    Most the time the assumption that houses are uniformly colored is a reliable heuristic for drawing conclusions. The perception of it's front facet's color is thus a reliable source of information about the entire house.

    The devil is in the details. Sightings of metallic spheres and disks and tic tac shaped objects are evidence the observed object is not a conventional or known craft. Also the flight behavior of the uap, such as suddenly starting and stopping in midair, points to something beyond our technology. Ofcourse the skeptic cherrypicks out these observations because he knows in advance somehow that the object is a mistaken mundane object. All I'm saying is that assumption is not warranted.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2023
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No, not at all. Getting enough information from our eyes to get through the day is very, very different than having a reliable perception of what is happening before us.

    For example, your eyes work well enough to drive and to get you to work. But try to compare the speed of a Cessna 150 and a Boeing 747 and most people will assume the 747 is going much slower - because our perceptions assume that smaller things are farther away. But that's OK because outside of some very rare cases you don't have to know the speed of a 747 or a 150. It does mean that if you try to judge the speed of a UAP you will almost certainly be wrong, though.

    Some other simple examples - to your eyes, the Earth looks flat. To your eyes, the sky looks like a dome with specks of light on it. To your eyes, it looks like you are moving very slowly in a jetliner cruising at 36,000 feet. Are any of those a reliable perception of what is happening before you?

    Nope. Judging relative speeds while you are moving among other objects is a perceptual ability we were born with. It evolved so we could run with a group of other people and run down prey animals. That's built in. Judging the speed of airplanes is not.
    No, it means we are good at one thing.

    The fact that George Santos has been right about several things does not mean that he is is a reliable and accurate source of information.
    EXACTLY! You win the prize! That assumption is right 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time, it can mislead you to think you have accurate information - as in my example above.

    Just like 99% of the time, in your daily life, you can use your visual perceptions to drive, to walk, to pick up a pen on the floor. The other 1% of the time - judging the speed and altitude of an aircraft, or deciding whether the Earth is flat, or deciding whether stars are small objects on a dome - it can mislead you into thinking you have accurate information.

    That is an excellent example.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Magical Realist:
    I saw what you tried to do there.

    You started this car example by saying that your car is "very reliable". But here, you've tried to strengthen the claim to "totally reliable".

    No car is totally reliable. Not yours. Not one that is fresh off the showroom floor. Every car has a non-zero chance of breaking down at any given time.

    For the same reason of basic logic, it is stupid to claim that human perception is totally reliable.

    Is it reasonable to say that human perception is "very reliable", then? Many flaws in human perception are well documented, and omnipresent.

    Reliability is always relative (except when you say "totally"). So, the real question we ought to ask is whether human perception is good enough for the purposes we are seeking to rely on it for.

    When it comes to the recollections of people who has seen unidentified lights in the sky, can we be confident that their perceptions of what they saw are good enough to enable a positive ID? In some cases, the answer is yes, but usually some extraneous information is necessary to verify this. In other cases, the answer is clearly no, because many UAPs remain unidentified.

    What we are left with, in many cases, is that a witnesses's perceptions might be good enough for us to rely on them for some basic facts about the UAP sighting. For instance, in the absence of more reliable data, we might be willing to rely on the eyewitness's statements about the approximate direction in which the UAP was seen, where it was viewed from, when it was seen and what its broad visual characteristics were (e.g. it looked like a bright round spot in the sky). But that's really about it. Anything else is probably going to require independent confirmation.
    You have watched TV or a film, I assume. What is going on right in front of your eyes when you watch TV? Moving pictures? Bah bowm. Wrong. Should we conclude that you are mentally ill, then?
    Just believe anything somebody tells you, you mean? Without knowing anything about them or having any independent verification of their story?

    You should meet my dog, Mr Binoculars, again. Remember him?
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I've had my car for 8 years. I bought it brand new. In that time it has never broken down once nor had any problems. So we can safely say it has been totally reliable for at least 8 years, can we not? I still maintain that likewise eyewitnesses to uaps are reliable even though they are fallible. It is simply confirmation bias to cherrypick their account for things that support the conclusion that what they saw was a mundane object mistaken for something else. We don't know that. All we have are the details of their experience.

    In the absence of anything suspicious I assume the eyewitness's credibility. You make a similar assumption--that they are mistaken or lying or delusional based on no evidence whatsoever. You do this in order to debunk the whole sighting. It is dishonest and disengenous to say the least.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2023
  12. TheVat Registered Member

    The Marfa Lights are another example of optical deception. A team from some tech school went out to observe, figured out they were odd light bounces from headlights on a nearby highway, or other terrestrial sources like campfires. The mirage appears to be caused by sharp temperature gradients between cold and warm layers of air, not uncommon in that climate.

    All the town boosters, who want to keep the little desert town a sort of hipster oasis that attracts artists and tourists, pretty much ignored that, and a couple other scientific team reports, and for the last three decades there's an annual Marfa Lights festival every September and thousands of visitors. So West Texas has its own little optical Roswell. (Binoculars visits every year and reportedly loves the chili dogs they sell at the viewing center.)

    Even the usually fairly sober and restrained BBC, in a 2018 travel article, breathlessly described the Lights as "one of the most unexplained mysteries in the United States."

    People just can't help themselves. Mysteries are too much fun.
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "The Native Americans of the area thought the Marfa Lights were fallen stars, the Houston Chronicle reports.

    The first mention of the lights comes from 1883, when cowhand Robert Reed Ellison claimed to have seen flickering lights one evening while driving a herd of cattle near Mitchell Flat. He assumed the lights were from Apache campfires.

    Ellison was told by area settlers that they often saw the lights, too, but upon investigation, they found no ashes or other evidence of a campfire, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

    During World War II, pilots from nearby Midland Army Air Field tried to locate the source of the mysterious lights, but were unable to discover anything.

    A superior mirage

    Lovers of the paranormal have attributed the Marfa Lights to everything from space aliens to the wandering ghosts of Spanish conquistadors.

    Academics, too, have tried to offer a scientific explanation for the enigmatic lights. A group of physics students from the University of Texas at Dallas concluded that headlights from vehicles on nearby U.S. Highway 67 could explain at least some of the reported sightings of the Marfa Lights.

    Another possible explanation is the refraction of light caused by layers of air at different temperatures. This optical illusion, sometimes called a superior mirage or a "Fata Morgana," according to, occurs when a layer of calm, warm air rests above a layer of cooler air.

    A Fata Morgana is sometimes seen in the ocean, causing a ship to appear to float above the horizon. The temperature gradients needed to produce this optical effect are common in the West Texas desert.

    Glowing gases

    Still others speculate the Marfa Lights may be caused by the same gases that create the glowing lights associated with swamp gas: phosphine (PH3) and methane (CH4). Under certain conditions, these gases can ignite when they contact oxygen.

    This glowing phenomenon, sometimes called "will-o'-the-wisp," "ignes fatui" or "fool's fire," has been observed around the world, especially in marshy areas where the decay of organic matter can create pockets of phosphine and methane.

    Though the Marfa Lights are nowhere near a marsh, there are significant reserves of oil, natural gas and other petroleum hydrocarbons in the area, which could include methane in quantities capable of producing an effect similar to that created by swamp gas.

    'No proven facts'

    Retired aerospace engineer James Bunnell chanced upon the Marfa Lights while visiting the viewing platform constructed east of Marfa by the Texas State Highway Department.

    "I just got lucky," Bunnell told the Chronicle. "The lights are rare, but I got one of the really good displays."

    Bunnell believes the Marfa Lights are the result of the igneous rock under Mitchell Flat that creates a piezoelectric charge (i.e., electricity produced under pressure by solid matter such as minerals, crystals or ceramics).

    Karl Stephan, an engineering professor at Texas State University, has considered Bunnell's hypothesis, but hasn't endorsed it. "It may be geological activity that creates electrical activity, but it's all speculation at this point," Stephan told the Chronicle. "There are no proven facts."----
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    This car analogy is an utter waste of time. A car is not comparable an eyewitness account.
    It is a trivial matter to objectively determine that a car has broken down or not.
    There is no way to objectively determine that what a witness saw is what really happened.
    That's the upside to extant evidence. And the downside witness accounts.

    Can we move on?
    James R likes this.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Nope. We make the assumption that their observation is probably a truthful description of what they saw, but their INTERPRETATION may be incorrect. As with anything, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Do you think the Earth is flat? I mean, it looks flat.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    This is a good illustration of points I made previously. The first is that we need to consider "reliable for what?" Your car has been reliable for getting you from point A to point B, as required, for 8 years. Can we therefore conclude it would be reasonable to rely on it to complete the Paris to Dakar rally without breaking down? Not necessarily.

    The second point is that being reliable for 8 years is not the same as the unqualified claim that your car is "totally reliable" (in all circumstances, for all time). I see what you tried to do there, but it didn't work. Also, you might like to consider that some eyewitness accounts of UFOs were considered reliable until they weren't. Some of them weren't found to be faulty until more than 8 years after the event. So, they weren't any more "totally reliable" than your car.

    The third point is that the real issue at hand is: is your car good enough for the purposes to which you want to put it? Is it good enough to get you down to the shops and back without breaking down? It seems that, for now, it is.

    A fourth point - one that I didn't mention previously - is that the reliability of your car so far is no guarantee of its future reliability. It could still break down tomorrow, or next week, or in 2 years' time. You can't make claims about its future reliability with much confidence.

    Given your 8 year experience with your car, can we therefore, by the analogy you're trying to make, draw the conclusion that eyewitness reports of UFOs are good enough for the purpose of establishing that aliens are visiting Earth? The 8 year historical record on that shows that, no, they are not good enough for that. In fact, the 70 year historical record on that shows that they are not good enough for that. Moreover, the retrospective record shows that it would not have been wise to rely on estimates made about the future reliability of those eyewitness accounts back when they first became known.
    Run that through the checklist, then:
    1. What are those eyewitness claims reliable for?
    2. You will admit that it is impossible to consider them "totally reliable", because any of them might be disproven at some future date. Correct?
    3. Are the eyewitness claims good enough, bearing in mind item 1?
    Yes. Whatever the conclusion you want to support is. Agreed?
    Yes. We don't know that what they saw was an alien spaceship. All we have is details of their experience. I'm glad you and I agree on this at last.
    Run that through the checklist above. Let me know how that goes.

    You should be careful about assuming. Reliability can only be assessed historically, not a priori.
    No. That's Yazata's Big Lie, again. You should stop telling it, especially since you know it to be false. Rightly, you should also apologise for making the false accusation.
    Says the man who just told a knowing lie.

    Have you no integrity, Magical Realist?
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2023
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Right. I thoroughly agree.

    Eyewitness experience isn't infallible. It obviously can be mistaken and sometimes it is. But that being said, it's reliable enough to serve not only as the information basis of our individual lives, but also the information basis of empirical science.

    Do 'skeptics' really drive their cars with their eyes closed (just "trusting the Force")? If they drive with their eyes open, why do they do that? Because they consider their visual perception to be a reasonably reliable source of information about what is in front of them? That reasonable reliability obviously doesn't make collisions impossible, but it greatly reduces their likelihood.

    One way to look at personal experience reports is to consider them defeasable.

    The SEP says:

    "Reasoning is defeasible when the corresponding argument is rationally compelling but not deductively valid. The truth of the premises of a good defeasible argument provide support for the conclusion, even though it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. In other words, the relationship of support between premises and conclusion is a tentative one, potentially defeated by additional information. Philosophers have studied the nature of defeasible reasoning since Aristotle’s analysis of dialectical reasoning in the Topics and the Posterior Analytics, but the subject has been studied with unique intensity over the last forty years, largely due to the interest it attracted from the artificial intelligence movement in computer science."

    In the UAP cases, it seems to me that witness reports that an unknown object in the sky appeared metallic is defeasable evidence that it indeed was metallic. Their reports that it moved in such and such a way is defeasable evidence that it did in fact move in that way. Radar confirmation of those movements still leave conclusions about the actuality of the movements defeasable, but that much harder to defeat. (That's how experimental confirmation works. Philosophers of science point out that all scientific conclusions are defeasable in this way.)

    The witness reports aren't logically deductive proof that what was seen was metallic or that it moved in such and such a way, but they are plausible reason to hypothesize that it was and did. Obviously those hypotheses can be defeated by additional information, but the burden has shifted to the 'debunker' to actually provide that information. (Assuming that it's their goal to dismiss the hypothesis which certainly seems to be the case.)

    Just pointing out that additional speculative possibilities remain open (cavorting whales! birds! Venus! swamp gas!) doesn't seem to me to suffice in achieving what appears to be the debunker's goal (of dismissing the unwelcome hypothesis as "woo") unless additional information is provided that whatever alternative hypothesis that the debunker for some reason favors was in fact the case.

    What the additional unevidenced but open speculative possibilities do seem to me to accomplish is providing reason not to jump to premature conclusions. I agree with them to that extent. It's why I emphasize agnosticism with regards to UAPs.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2023
    Magical Realist likes this.
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    • Do not troll. Do not tell lies.
    It always amuses how all the skeptics typically bash human perception when it comes to uap/ufo eyewitnesses but still go about relying on their perception 100% to get thru their day. You never hear any complaints about it until the subject of ufos is broached. SO disingenuous!
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2023
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Because we evolved to walk and run. We did not evolve to evaluate UFO's.

    Try getting through your day if getting through your day requires BASE jumping. You would likely not get through your day without a LOT of training and equipment. Because while we evolved to walk, run and navigate things like forests and plains, we did not evolve to BASE jump.
    Not just UFO's. Also Godlike apparitions, Bigfoot sightings, ghosts, flat Earthers and people who claim to have seen Elvis in their bedrooms.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Moderator note: Magical Realist has been warned (again) for trolling, and for telling a deliberate, knowing lie.

    So disingenuous!
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Good. Then we're all in agreement on that - except for Magical Realist, of course. But I'm pretty sure he knows it, too.
    You really ought to read some of my posts, so you don't just repeat Magical Realist's mistakes. It makes you look a bit silly when you do that, especially when the explanation you say you want is just a few posts further up in the thread.

    I think you know why skeptics drive with their eyes open. It's because, most of the time (but certainly not always), their perception is good enough to get them from point A to point B in reasonable safety. They don't drive with their eyes shut, because doing that would not be good enough to make the usual daily commute safely.
    All you're saying is that additional, independent evidence and analysis can show that an eyewitness report is factually incorrect. Everybody looks at it that way - except Magical Realist, of course.
    In other words, the eyewitness evidence is evidence - a fact that you know nobody here has ever denied - but it is often weak evidence, especially when it is the only evidence available. It is weak because it fails to convince anybody else (apart from gullible fools) that the unknown object was an alien spaceship. Any sensible person will want better evidence than a single witness's claims.

    To put it more succinctly: ask yourself whether a single eyewitness statement will be good enough for you to believe that the UFO they report is an alien spaceship.

    Your answer, if you're being honest now, should be that you don't think this will be good enough evidence, on its own.

    But you won't admit this, will you? You won't reply to this post, just like you didn't reply to the others - even the ones directly addressing you. That's dishonest, Yazata. You should change your ways. Show some integrity.
    It's so nice of you to walk us all through something that everybody else got to months or years ago, Yazata: that individual data points can be faulty. That extraordinary evidence is better than weak evidence.
    Of course. At the stage of forming initial hypotheses - before further investigation - it's always best to keep lots of alternative hypotheses alive, because we can never predict a priori which one of them will turn out to be the truth (if any).

    The burden is always on the person who claims that only one hypothesis fits all the data to show that is the case. If that person is unable to exclude other, conflicting hypotheses that account for the data equally well, then the case remains open.

    There is never an onus on a "debunker" to prove a True Believer wrong, unless the debunker has made competing claims of his own. Rather, the Believer needs to prove that his pet hypothesis is the correct one.
    You're correct. If two competing hypotheses both explain the data adequately, and there's nothing in the way of extra data or analysis that points towards why one ought to be favoured over the other, then the interim conclusion should be: we don't know which of the two explanations is correct.

    Some other factors tend to come into play, however. For example, there's Occam's razor. If one hypothesis requires the existence of never-before-seen extraterrestrial alien civilisations visiting Earth, while the other requires only the existence of the planet Venus, we should prefer the Venus explanation over the alien one until such time as there is good reason to believe in the extraterrestrial aliens. Sure, the UFO could still be the aliens, but that's not reason enough in itself to take the leap to believing it's aliens before we have sufficient evidence.

    Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, you see. Refer to Hume, for instance.
  22. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    The reliability of eye witness accounts - a study

  23. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member


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