UFOs (UAPs): Explanations?

Discussion in 'UFOs, Ghosts and Monsters' started by Magical Realist, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    It might be useful to work out what Magical Realist's standard actually is, here.

    I think that his standard is something along the lines of: if there's any possible way some data could be interpreted as being due to an alien/ghost/monster/[other random woo thing] then we should accept that interpretation as the correct one. There is no need to test any alternative hypotheses. If it could be the woo, then assume it's the woo.

    That's MR's "standard of proof", such as it is.

    I don't know about you, but I think this standard is roughly equivalent to: believe any explanation offered for any data at all, as long as it's not a "mundane" one (because "mundane" ones are so boring and aliens are just oh so exciting!)
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    For example, all of the skeptics who have participated in this thread "believe in the reality of unidentified aerial phenomena".
    Accounts that actually evidence something extraordinary would be nice, for starters, if you want to assert the extraordinary.

    Note: by "extraordinary", here, I don't just mean the fact that rare circumstances exist in which people see things in the sky that are difficult to readily identify after the fact; I mean "extraordinary" as in little green men flying spaceships, or interdimensional time travellers from Zarquon IV, or the ghost of Great Aunt Agatha flying a glowing sphere of light. Because, let's face it, these are the kinds of claims that UFO believers typically offer up as if they were explanations for which at least some positive evidence could be found.
    Probably, you were unable to establish - with reference to appropriate evidence - that there was something physically present, in the relevant case. Therefore, any conclusion that something was physically present would be premature, and criticisms of exaggerated claims of that nature would be quite justified.

    I don't think anybody in this thread has disputed that people reported seeing things in the sky they couldn't identify. Establishing that those things were "physically present" requires the gathering - and presentation - of appropriate evidence in support of the claim.

    In regards to the Fravor incident, I suggested that birds might have been physically present, and/or unidentified jet aircraft. You didn't seem to think much of those ideas, for some reason. Perhaps you had something else in mind?
    No. You were supposed to try to find some convincing evidence that the things you allege were "physically present" were something out of the ordinary. If that's your assertion.

    If, as you now claim, you are only saying that you have no idea what the UFOs were, then the story stops right there. You have no idea? Fine. Pardon the rest of us if we want to try to examine the evidence to see whether a more definitive conclusion can be reached about the identities of the reported phenomena.
    If you think "something more" might be happening, you ought to specify (a) what you think the "something more" might be, and (b) what facts support your conjectures about the identity of the "something more".

    In other words, you are obliged to present evidence in support of your claims - whatever they may be.

    Before you start up again ... yes, if I claim the UFO was actually a bird, then I need to support that claim using actual evidence, just like you would need to support any claim you made about the UFO being an alien spacecraft.

    But I haven't claimed that the UFO was a bird. I have said that some of the evidence seems to be consistent with a sighting of a bird; nobody has refuted that. That doesn't mean the UFO has been identified as a bird; it just means that the bird hypothesis hasn't been ruled out yet.

    Similarly, you might argue that the evidence is consistent with an alien spacecraft. Nobody has ruled that out, but the alien spacecraft hypothesis hasn't been confirmed either.

    There is a quite important difference between the bird hypothesis and the alien spaceship hypothesis, which you seem eager to overlook. We know that birds actually exist. We have many confirmed prior sightings of birds flying above water, in which birds were positively IDed. Alien spaceships? Not so much. We have yet to find a single confirmed instance of an alien spaceship, anywhere.

    This means that the claim that this particular UFO sighting was of a bird is a plausible claim, on its face, even before we dig into the evidence, while the claim that this particular UFO sighting was of an alien spaceship is a quite extraordinary claim.

    You know what they say about extraordinary claims? They demand extraordinary evidence.

    The major problem for the UFO believers in the Fravor case is that nothing they are presenting amounts to moderate evidence for alien spaceships, let alone the sort of extraordinary evidence any reasonable person should demand for this sort of thing.

    If I tell you there's a hammer in my garage, you'll probably take my word for it. If I tell you there's a dragon in my garage, you'll probably be skeptical, and rightly so. Think about why this is.
    "Must" implies teleology, which is a mistake.

    I, for one, will be most excited and intrigued if good evidence is ever presented that any UAP is an alien spaceship. All I ask for is sufficient evidence to convince me.

    Has Magical Realist convinced you that the Fravor UFO was an alien craft piloted by Lizard Men from the bottom of the Atlantic? If so, I'd say you've set your evidential bar way too low, for such an extraordinary claim. I'd have to wonder how many other claims you would accept as true, based on the same kind of flimsy evidence.
    The Yazata Big Lie again.

    Nobody has dismissed the very possibility blah blah blah. You know this. Why tell that lie?

    While you might feel insulted, I would venture that it's because you've been caught out in a repeated lie and you're maybe feeling a bit shamefaced about that. That's on you, not on us skeptics. The solution is simple: stop telling the lie. And stop trying to shoot the messenger who exposed the lie for what it is. Take some responsibility, man.
    Without evidence, everything is speculation and guesswork and hypothesis. Talk about a priori assumptions all you want; you'll never pin anything down unless you gather some actual evidence. All you can hope for is to lock yourself in an endless Bayesian loop.
    Last edited: May 11, 2023
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    The same kind of argument might be applied to any account of a historical event. The argument would go along the lines that there's no way to repeat all the historical circumstances of the event - to "do the experiment" - so there's no way to test the validity of what is said to have happened.

    Was the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776? A bunch of eyewitnesses are on record as saying that it was. A whole bunch of writings say it was. But who's to know, really? We can't recreate 1776 and replay the events to find out whether there really was a signing of such a Declaration. Nobody alive today was actually there, so who's to say whether the signing happened or not?

    Should we just "trust" the eyewitnesses who claim the signing happened?

    How could we possibly test whether there really is such a document as this so-called Declaration of Independence, and whether it was really signed in 1776?

    Is this a question that Science and its Scientific Method can answer?

    Who here believes that there was a Declaration of Independence, which was signed in 1776? Why do you believe that?

    The point here is: it's wrong to claim that we can't be confident about something that happened in the past because we can never exactly "replay the experiment". The converse also applies: it's wrong to claim that we can't be confident that certain things did not happen in the past, given that we can't "replay the events". For one thing: things that happened in the past often have measurable effects and influences in the now. Often, records have been kept. There are ways of testing a particular record (of any type) that is alleged by somebody to be historically accurate. Very often, scientific methods are applicable. More generally, critical methods are applicable - comparing one thing to another for consistency, for instance. That can include consistency with other contemporary data, or consistency with what would have to be true now if the historical record were reliable.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    That's not true.

    Clearly, in some instances, UFO believers will make very specific claims about a UAP. For instance, they might claim that "the UAP demonstrated flight characteristics that no human-made aircraft is capable of". That is a testable hypothesis. To make such a claim, the proponents must have gathered sufficient evidence on the performance characteristics of the UAP, for example - unless they are just making shit up, that is. The reliability of that evidence can be tested scientifically (and in other ways).

    It is true that, in far too many cases, extravagant claims are made for UAPs, with little to no supporting evidence. In some cases, claims are made which are unfalsifiable and therefore, arguably, unscientific.

    The fact is: most UAPs fall firmly into the category of "amenable to scientific investigation" (where, by "scientific", I mean investigation using scientific methods and critical analysis).

    I would venture that most solved UAP cases were solved using exactly these kinds of methods.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    In the early 1900s, a man claimed to have built a machine that could take a photograph of the bones in a person's hand or foot, without ever breaking the skin.

    This was an extraordinary claim at the time. Never seen before. To many, quite implausible. Seeing through solid, opaque objects - not likely!

    It was quite reasonable for thinking people of the time to demand extraordinary evidence of this extraordinary claim. They wanted to see these photographs, to see the machine that produced them, to test the thing themselves.

    Fortunately, Roentgen had, in fact, done what he claimed to have done. He could produce the photographs. He could produce the machine. He could publically demonstrate that his extraordinary claims were true.

    Nowadays, everybody accepts that x-ray machines exist. The "extraordinariness" has become ordinary, everyday, taken for granted. X-rays were a wild-eyed fantasy in 1800; in 2023, your neighbourhood dentist has one in her surgery.

    Why do people believe in x-rays in 2023, when nobody would have believed in them in 1800? Answer: sufficient evidence.


    Alien spaceships you say? What an extraordinary claim! But I assure you: if you can show me sufficient evidence that they are real, they will become quite commonplace in next to no time.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What evidence do you have that any UFO is of "unknown origin"?

    What do you have on the origin of any UFO (not counting all the perfectly mundane examples, of course)?

    Why have you presented zero evidence on origins in a thread that currently has 8800 posts? In all that time, not a single example of a confirmed UFO origin that is anything other than Earthly, from you. Why?
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Where is your evidence for these extraordinary behaviours of the tic tacs? Where are the radar records? How do you know the eyewitness guesstimates of speeds etc. are accurate? What data do you have that confirms a single physics-defting maneuvre?

    The truth is: you've got nothing other than some vague guesswork and lots of wishful thinking.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Sure, I was thinking of the hypotheses that the UAP is alien/transdimensional etc. Non-scientific as they are not falsifiable.
    "solved" (in as much as being considered a more rational and supported competing claim) does not falsify a less-rational competing claim. Although I'm sure you knew that.
    E.g. "it looks like birds, so it's likely to be birds! Solved!" doesn't falsify the claim that it's aliens.
    The likelihood of something being caused by the parallax effect doesn't falsify other claims, etc.

    So, sure, we can use science, rationality, whatever we want to offer up a more acceptable, supported, justifiable theory, but that doesn't falsify other competing theories that the evidence supports.
    And such claims are unfalsifiable because when you pull away one pillar they're based on, the theory just carries on regardless, just less supported. It's a "God did it" type affair.
    Magical Realist likes this.
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    All are cited credible eyewitness accounts I have quoted many times in this thread. Pilots Dave Fravor, Alex Dietrich, Ryan Graves and radar operator Kevin Day. Your dismissal of these accounts out of hand is unwarranted and exposes your bias against uaps being unknown objects. The records speak for themselves, despite your ad hoc speculations that it was all some big coincidental error.
    Last edited: May 11, 2023
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Fair enough.
    You're setting the bar very high for falsification, I think. Using your standard, science wouldn't be able to falsify anything, much.

    I've heard a theory that apples fall downwards from trees due to gravity. One alternative hypothesis is that apples fall downwards from trees because invisible magical pixies push them down. Another alternative hypothesis is that apples don't actually fall down from trees at all; they fall upwards - we just perceive them as falling downwards, but that's a psychological illusion.

    I'm not sure which theory is correct, so I go into the local apple orchard and wait and watch until I've seen 100 apples disconnect themselves from trees and go somewhere.

    Observation 1 is that all the apples I saw fell down. 100 out of 100. None of them fell upwards. Does this falsify the class of hypotheses that claim that apples fall upwards from trees?

    According to your argument, it does not, because although the whole "falling downwards is just a psychological illusion" hypothesis seems less rational and less plausible than at least one of the other competing hypotheses, that isn't grounds for saying the "falling up" hypothesis has been falsified. It could still be the case that the whole falling down thing is a psychological illusion.

    I guess we have to conclude that science just can't decide whether apples fall down or up, with any certainty.

    Observation 2 is that for none of those 100 falling apples could I detect the presence of any pixies, invisible or otherwise. Despite having a quite well-developed theory of "gravity", it seems science can't hope to rule out the pixie theory, for similar reasons that it can't hope to rule out the falling-up theory.
    And it looks like the apples fell down doesn't falsify the claim that apples actually fall upwards. Yes.
    You're right! So much for Popper and his misguided falsification theory.

    I guess we can conclude that science just can't work. Useless.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    You're saying you have a bunch of eyewitness guesstimates, and that's basically as far as you've got with collecting actual evidence.

    I see.
    I haven't dismissed accounts out of hand. On the contrary, I have discussed the particulars of each account in some detail, earlier in the thread. I have dismissed none of them.

    Unfortunately, none of them provides convincing evidence for the extraordinary manouvres you allege.
    Don't be silly. You don't have any records.
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    James R, when you want to start addressing the points made, rather than misrepresnt, do come back to me. Currently just more of the same, so I'm out.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I thought I just did that - addressed the points you made, I mean.

    In case I wasn't clear, I agree with you on this, on the matter of pseudoscientific claims:
    I also agree with you on this:
    We're in agreement that there's a problem with pseudoscientific theories that are not falsifiable, as far as I can tell.

    But then, you also said:
    Here, you specifically mention less-rational competing claims.

    I suggested, in response, that you might be setting your bar for deciding when something has been sufficiently "falsified" too high, especially when it comes to claims that aren't very rational.

    Is there something you think I should have addressed but didn't, in what you wrote? Which points did you make that you feel I did not adequately respond to?

    Also, I see you have claimed I misrepresented you. That was not my intention. What did I misrepresent, exactly?

    Was I overly flippant in the last couple of sentences of my previous post?

    For the record, I did not mean to suggest that you were actually claiming that science is useless, if that's how you're reading those last few sentences. My point there was that Popper's idea of falsificationism would become useless if the bar for what is required to decide that a hypothesis is false were to be set too high. We can never be 100% sure of anything, after all, but that in no way means that "invisible pixies call apples to fall" is just as good a theory of gravity as General Relativity.
    Last edited: May 12, 2023
  17. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Why is this thread filled with ad homs but the other thread about UFO’s posted in the “Astronomy” section is being taken more seriously? I don’t get it. Not that that thread should also be filled with ad homs, but it seems to be treated differently than this thread and it’s literally the same topic. I thought that we couldn’t post about UAP’s in the “hard science” sections?

    It goes back to that this sub-forum was created more for mockery of said topics, than genuine discussion/debate. So why have this section, then?
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Which other UFO thread are you referring to? The one started by SarahEllard about the Fravor UFO incident? It's in the UFO section now (might have originally been posted Astronomy but moved).

    I'm not really sure why that thread has attracted attention, since the content is essentially a repeat of the examination of that case, which we have already done to death in the current thread. Maybe it's just helping the newbie?

    I'm inclined to merge the two threads together, since there doesn't seem much point in having two separate, repetitive discussions about the same events.
  19. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I hadn’t noticed that the thread was moved so thank you. It didn’t make sense to me why a thread on the same topic (tic tac video) was being treated differently in the hard sciences section than this thread. And yes, merging them together might make sense, although not sure if it will disrupt the “flow” of this thread.
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    The umbrage taken here is not with the subject itself, but with the egregiously bad logic and absence of critical thinking in the formation of hasty conclusions. It was tolerated at first but repeated anti-science and trolling wears away at one's patience.

    This has not happened in the other thread because the OP is not being as pugnacious and irrational as in this thread.

    It has nothing to do with where the thread is located.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Well, not yet, anyway. The jury is still out, for the moment.
    wegs likes this.
  22. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    We’ll see now that it’s relocated to its appropriate spot, how the banter goes. I think it has a lot more to do with where it was posted. I’d like it to be merged with this thread because it may offer different viewpoints that haven’t been considered.
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    If that's your theory, it's going to be hard to verify. How will you separate criticism of faulty method from criticism of subject?
    I think you're setting yourself up for a foregone conclusion.

Share This Page