UFOs (UAPs): Explanations?

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

  1. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Wow, all that just to say there maybe yet undiscovered species on earth.
    Ps. I notice the old "Get Out Of Jail free" card is coming in handy of late, what with JR repeatedly calling you a liar.
    Jimmy boy helping you and MR play the system.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I agree with you. But I tend to think there is some good evidence for Bigfoot in the form of footprints and video footage and many eyewitness accounts. So I'd say the chances for an unknown hominid species is higher than we might at first suspect. Research uncovers some tantalizing possibilities:

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    That would seem to make the intended purpose of this 'fringe' forum problematic. It seems to me to have always been intended for dismissive rejection of things that (in some people's opinion) don't exist. "Woo" as they term it. Bullshit, simply by definition. So there seems to me to be a preexistent belief already built in from the very beginning about what does and doesn't exist and about how it should be addressed.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I guess that we weight that likelihood differently. Which is fine with me, I celebrate intellectual diversity.

    Regarding the witness accounts, I'm inclined to treat them all as raw data points. Each one has some likelihood of being true and veridicial, and some likelihood that it isn't. Unfortunately I don't typically have any way of assigning those weights. That would necessitate lots more information than I have. In many cases all I have to go on is speculation.

    What I don't want to do is let my preexisting beliefs bias my judgment of the data in such a way that the data is only allowed to reinforce my existing beliefs.

    It's hard to stick to that in practice though. We all have some idea of how reality is and how it behaves. Reports that are consistent with those ideas will receive more credence than those that aren't. That's just how human beings are.

    Maybe that's where my belief that I am constantly surrounded by mysteries comes into play. It makes me more open to the idea that unexpected things might happen, perhaps more often then many of us think. Somebody who believes they have all of it (or most of it) already figured out might be more resistant to acknowledging anomalies.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
    Magical Realist likes this.
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    So show us we're wrong about what doesn't exist.

    We are entitled to not believe things exist until we see sufficient evidence for them. Nobody's being silenced for their beliefs in things. They're being challenged, sure.

    It sounds like you want this to be a venue where you can venture whatever ideas pop into your head without the consequence of having to defend them. Do you think this place has to be that?
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Do you mean real animal species, or fantasy animal species?

    Here's wikipedia on "cryptids":

    Cryptids are animals that cryptozoologists believe may exist somewhere in the wild, but are not recognized by science. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience, which primarily looks at anecdotal stories, and other claims rejected by the scientific community. While biologists regularly identify new species following established scientific methodology, cryptozoologists focus on entities mentioned in the folklore record and rumor. Entities that may be considered cryptids by cryptozoologists include Bigfoot, Yeti, the chupacabra, the Jersey Devil, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Mokele-mbembe.

    Scholars have noted that the cryptozoology subculture rejected mainstream approaches from an early date, and that adherents often express hostility to mainstream science. Scholars have studied cryptozoologists and their influence (including the pseudoscience's association with Young Earth creationism), noted parallels in cryptozoology and other pseudosciences such as ghost hunting and ufology, and highlighted uncritical media propagation of cryptozoologist claims.​

    So, yes, I agee that many animal species - such as unicorns, dragons, owlbears, manticores and many more - are "cryptids". That is, their existence in reality is not recognised by science. Claims that they exist in reality are based on anecdotal stories, folklore and rumor.

    On the other hand, I disagree with you that any as-yet-undiscovered actual, real, animals, will be "cryptids". When new species that are discovered, science requires, at a minimum, a "type specimen". You can, in principle, go to the place where the type specimen is stored and examine the real thing. There is no need to rely on rumor, folklore or anecdotal claims. This is the difference between science and pseudoscience.
    I agree with you that it is unlikely that science will discover many more "large" animals (comparable to the size of a dog or a deer, say). Having said that, it has occasionally happened in recent years (a new type of deer-like animal being one example).

    I also agree with you that there are many new insect species that are yet to be discovered. In fact, some biologists have tried to estimate, statistically, the fraction of all species that we have probably discovered by now. You might like to investigate their findings.
    I don't disagree with that. "Impossible" is a very high hurdle to overcome.
    I don't disagree.
    I think that if you were to tally up the various creatures from mythology (because that's what we're talking about when we say "cryptid"), you'd find that land/air animals are more common than sea animals.

    I don't know what you mean by the "likelihood" of finding a "cryptid". The moment the existence of an actual "cryptid" was confirmed, it would cease to be a "cryptid". Again, you need to consult a definition of the term. See above.
    I wrote a reply in post #8572. You ignored it. Perhaps now would be a good time to go and actually read it.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Aliens, ghosts and monsters all appear to be imaginary things, as far as science can tell.

    The term "monster" in the forum title is somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

    In fantasy roleplaying games, the term "monster" can refer to any kind of mythical beast, including humanoids with unusual characteristics or powers. That's the sort of idea I was aiming at. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are both monsters. The ghost of Grandma Betsy is a monster. The alien piloting a giant triangle in the sky is a monster.
    Our entire Fringe subsection is about stuff that scientists don't take seriously, because all these things have proven time and again to be full of bunk, misinformation, error and fantasy.

    There's no need for us at sciforums to pretend that any of this nonsense comes up to the standards of science. It clearly does not. If it did, it would be science.

    It is not the fault of scientists that the True Believers in UFOs, monsters and ghosts can't (or won't) get their act together sufficiently to properly investigate the things they have decided (for bad reasons) to believe in. There's no reason for scientists to treat them with kid gloves. If they want to pretend their stuff is scientific, at some point the rubber needs to meet the road. They need to actually do some real science on their stuff.

    I'm not sure what you want for UFOs and monsters on sciforums. Do you want a science forum, or a fantasy forum? If you want a fantasy forum in which free rein is given to the imagination and there's no need to connect anything to reality, this probably isn't the forum for you. (Note: please don't take the "you" in these sentences too personally. I'm addressing this to anybody who thinks this way.)
    Back in the olden days of sciforums, we had just one dumping ground for the nonsense: the Pseudoscience forum. A portion of our membership complained about this, actually in a similar way to the way you're talking about this now. Our response was to put it to a vote. The outcome was to expand our offering of spaces for discussion of the woo considerably.

    However, it has always been clear that the Fringe sections are not intended to be "safe spaces" for believers in the various kinds of woo. This is not a sheltered workshop in which people on the Fringe will be mollycoddled and reassured that there's merit in their beliefs. Rather, the intention was to allow for the exposure of those beliefs to the light of reason and science.

    There is a plethora of other discussion places on the internet where believers in woo can indulge in their fantastical speculations and imaginings with no threat of skeptical questioning or being exposed to critical thinking. sciforums offers something different. People are free to choose what they prefer. If they want to actually test their ideas, this is a good place to do that. If, on the other hand, they just want to wallow comfortably in the warm bath of fantasy, there are lots of other places they can do that, without any worries.

    You mention "healthy discussion". What is your mental image of what a "healthy discussion" of UFOs ought to look like? I'm actually interested to learn. Also, what do you think is "unhealthy" about the discussions of such things here? Are you worried for the poor believers whose beliefs might be questioned or challenged? Why?
    I think the Fringe sections probably take up more space on sciforums than they deserve. But that's just my personal opinion.

    I think that aliens, monsters and ghosts are a good fit. All are said to exist based largely on anecdotes, myths and legends. None of them has any convincing scientific evidence.
    Whole fields of astronomy and astrophysics are devoted to "unexplained space phenomena". We have a Science subsection devoted to that science stuff. The UAP stuff, based mostly on anecdote and alleged "evidence" of dubious provenance (for the most part), belongs in the Fringe sections.
    Actually, many bookstores do lump in UFOs with other "paranormal" topics. But looking at what bookstores do, in terms of classification, is not always the best guide to how subject-matter is best arranged. Often, the arrangement of a bookstore will be determined, at least in part, by the idiosyncrasies of the owner(s), as well as by the range of books sold by the store.

    For comparison, in the Dewey decimal system (used by libraries), UFOs are classed under number 001.942 Unidentified flying objects (UFOs), a subdivision of 001.94 Mysteries, which has the scope note: "Reported phenomena not explained, not fully verified." The general category is 001.9 Controversial knowledge.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I just want to record a few more thoughts on the topic if UFOs/UAPs, because I expect that some people will go out of their way to misinterpret things I have written previously. Here are some objections I anticipate:

    1. But, James R, clearly you've already made your mind up that aliens aren't real and that all UFOs are therefore "bunk". That's not scientific. You're biased.

    I haven't made up my mind that aliens aren't real. I'm not even entirely sure that aliens aren't visiting Earth.

    But yes, I'm biased. That bias is based on years of being shown anecdote after anecdote and fuzzy image after fuzzy image, of things that are alleged with confidence to be evidence of things "not of this world". In every case, without exception, it has turned out that either (a) the thing can be shown with confidence to not be "out of this world", or (b) the available "evidence" is just not available to enable either a confirmation of the "other worldliness" or a definite falsification of the same.

    It would be stupid to ignore years of experience in looking at these things. So, I'm biased. I'm skeptical that any new claim that a UFO sighting will turn out to actually be an instance of alien visitation.

    I do not apologise for this. It is quite reasonable for me to hold this position.

    2. But, James R, since you've admitted your bias, that implies that you won't take any UFO case seriously. You'll just dismiss it from the start.

    Wrong. Being skeptical does not mean that I've already come to a conclusion in my mind, before I look at any of the evidence in a new case.

    Being skeptical doesn't mean you're closed-minded. It just means that you require sufficient evidence before you'll accept that something is true.

    Show me a fuzzy photograph of a light in the sky and tell me you think it's an alien spaceship. I won't ever tell you, before you show me the photo, that your photograph can't possibly be an alien spaceship. You won't ever see me writing that alien spaceships can't possibly exist.

    What I will do is that I'll take a good look at your photo and try to think of as many reasons as I can as to why it might not be an alien spaceship. If there's other evidence available, I'll also probe the strength of that evidence.

    It is very likely that, at the end of the day, the evidence you provide to me will turn out to be insufficient for me to absolutely rule out that your photo shows an alien spaceship (although, that happens often enough). But it is also very likely, based on experience, that the evidence you provide to me will also turn out to be insufficient to establish that your photo shows a (real) alien spaceship.

    If this is the outcome - that you can't convince me that your evidence shows an alien spaceship, and I can't prove it isn't - then I'm not going to believe in your alien spaceship. This isn't because of my bias (well, maybe it is, just a bit), but because you haven't made a compelling case for your conclusion.

    3. But James R, you seem like a really boring person. What's wrong with believing my UFO photo is an alien spaceship? Even you admit that it could be that.

    I'm not trying to stifle your imagination. You can believe whatever you like, as far as I'm concerned.

    Calling me "boring" or unimaginative is just an attempt to insult me and bully me into accepting your claim on emotional grounds, rather than based on the evidence. What you ought to do is bring better evidence or analysis to the table. After all, it appears that you're not content to just believe what you believe. You've made some effort to convince me that you're right. Don't start pretending you don't care what I think now, just because I'm still not buying your story.

    What's wrong with your believing it's an alien spaceship? Well: ask yourself this: what if it isn't? Do you care whether what you believe is true, or not?

    Personally, I want to believe as many true things as I can, and disbelieve as many false things as I can. Given that, it seems prudent to set a reasonably high bar for what will convince me of the truth of something.

    If you're content to just believe whatever, without really checking whether it's true, it's your life. But bear in mind that, in the shorter or longer term, believing in false things can end up harming you and/or the people who are close to you.

    4. But James R, you sound like you think you've already got everything worked out - like you already know what's possible in our big, wonderful, magical universe. How can you be so sure there's not a lot you're missing?

    I don't have everything worked out. As I said before, I'll never tell you that alien spaceships are impossible. They are a possibility, along with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and your grandmother's ghost. But, like I said, I'm going to need to see some convincing evidence before I accept that any of those things is real, in case they aren't real.

    I'm very much aware that we humans still have a lot to learn about the universe in which we live. I know lots of people who are actively probing at the frontiers of what is known every day, trying to create new knowledge. Some of those people are scientists. They don't tend to believe things based on gut feelings, or wishful thinking, or anecdotes - at least, not in their scientific work.

    The universe is a big, wonderful, intriguing, amazing place. There is so much we as a species have yet to discover. I think that if you really appreciate this, you might start to realise just how limited some of our fantasies are - including the ones about alien spaceships. A lot of those scream "human imagination, influenced by popular culture", to me. And that's before I even start to look closely at the evidence.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2023
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    5. But James R, you seem quite intolerant of UFO believers. Why do you ridicule them so much? Can't you treat them with kindness and courtesy?

    I try to treat everybody with kindness and courtesy, especially when I first meet them. However, respect is something that must be earned.

    If you come to sciforums toting a fuzzy photo that you're convinced shows an alien spaceship, then I'm going to approach your photograph with skepticism. I'll bring my bias along (see point 1, above), but I won't dismiss your evidence out of hand (see point 2). Because I don't believe I already know what isn't an isn't possible in the universe (see point 4), I will take a good look at your evidence and I will let you know whether it convinces me (see point 2). I don't need you to change your belief, even if I'm not convinced (see point 3).

    If you become upset that you haven't convinced me to believe in aliens, and you accuse me of having a closed mind, please see points 1 to 4, above. If you persist in making accusations that you know are false (because, for instance, you've read points 1 to 4, above), then it is quite likely that I will lose respect for you.

    If you make ridiculous arguments, imagining that they somehow "prove" your assertions (when they do not), then chances are good that I'll point out just how ridiculous those arguments are, to the best of my ability. I hope that, when I do that, you'll learn something useful to take away with you, rather than just getting mad at me (though I'm familiar with that kind of defensiveness and ready to cope with it when necessary).

    If, over time, you accrue a long and undistinguished record of posting ridiculous claims that you're never able to support, then I might well ridicule you for your ridiculousness. My hope is that, at some point, you'll come to your senses, rather than just getting madder. Admittedly, experience has shown that this rarely happens with True Believers in UFOs, ghosts and monsters. I think this is because, for whatever reason, over time those people develop an aversion to critical thinking, combined with a skin thick enough that sensible thought can't penetrate.

    If you think that insulting me, or trying to troll me, or nervously attempting to ridicule me back, is going to make you look good, or increase my respect for you, I'd say that's a strange way of thinking and a waste of the energy you should be putting into taking a good hard look at why you believe what you believe. (Note well: why you believe, not what you believe.)

    6. But James R, these all sound like fine words, but they come across to me as self-serving. You just want to try to excuse your poor behaviour towards believers in UFOs. They aren't bad people. You're the bad person.

    There's a spectrum here that you ought to be aware of, if you're not already aware.

    On one end of the UFO believer spectrum, there are the people who honestly see a light in the sky and are honestly dumbfounded as to what it could be, and whose minds happen to jump to the conclusion that it's probably an alien spaceship. Those people tend to honestly report their experiences, and honestly provide their genuine photographs of the light they saw.

    These aren't bad people. There's nothing wrong with making a mistake - in this case jumping to a conclusion that might not be justified by the actual evidence. There's an opportuntity for these people to learn something new from their experience. I recommend a gentle and courteous approach to these people (see point 5), but not one that treats them with kid gloves.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there are some die hard UFO fanatics who spend a large portion of their time doing the rounds of the UFO believer sites on the internet, wallowing in the pseudoscience, and some portion of their time seeking out skeptics to argue with. At least some of these people are dishonest to the core. Some of them produce deliberately faked UFO sightings, to make it look like there's solid evidence for aliens when there isn't. Some of them manipulate photographs and make up stories. There are trolls who ignore all evidence that tends to disconfirm their beliefs, while Gish Galloping their own supposed "evidence", in an effort to overwhelm the skeptics with sheer volume of rubbish. These people do not deserve any respect. They are a major reason why the UFO believer community more generally is so often ridiculed.

    Between these extremes, we find people who are neither completely naive nor completely dishonest. There are innocents and liars among them. Among the liars there are those who lie merely by omission - they know more about a UFO case than they'll let on, because they want to maintain or enhance the sense of mystery, to promote their belief system. Then there are those who lie by commission: for example, they will claim that they know things they don't know ("It can't possibly be a bird!", "It was flying at 10000 miles per hour!"). There are those who are actually open-minded (which includes being open to changing their mind) and those who only want to argue.

    Given the spectrum of UFO believers, you might expect a similar spectrum of reactions from skeptics. Speaking personally, I do not respond well to liars and trolls, but I love engaging with people who are honestly willing to change their minds about things after being presented with good reasons for doing so.

    So, call me a bad person if you like; I'm used to it on the internet. But maybe ask yourself whether you're actually angry at me because I did something dishonest or hurtful, or whether your anger at me might have to do with a niggling lack of confidence in your own reasons for believing what you believe.

    I genuinely prefer courteous, respectful discussions to bile-fuelled arguments. But if you come here and act like a poor example of a human being, you might find yourself hitting a frustratingly unyielding wall when you talk with me.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2023
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    And another thing...
    I should have said, also, that if you're a UFO believer, you really should be doing exactly this, before bringing your fuzzy photograph to me.

    That is, you should take a good look at your photo, think carefully about your experience (both the UFO experience and all your relevant past experience) and try to come up with as many "mundane" explanations for your evidence as you can, if for no other reason than that you know this is what I'll do as soon as you show me your fuzzy photo. You ought to be as ready as you can be for all the sensible and obvious questions I'm going to put to you about that photo and the circumstances in it was taken.

    If you haven't done your homework in advance, that ought to suggest to you that jumping to the conclusion that your fuzzy photo can only be a photograph of an alien spacecraft is likely to be a bad idea. And if that thought doesn't occur to you, maybe it's time for you to explore in greater depth what it means to thinking critically about things.

    In the philosophy of science, this sort of type of exercise is called an attempted falsification. The idea is to try to disprove your preferred hypothesis (in this case, that there's an alien spaceship that you photographed).

    One caveat: if you fail to prove that the photo is of something other than an alien spaceship, that does not demonstrate that you have a photo of an alien spaceship. It just means that you've made some useful progress towards a positive ID. The thought that "I can't think of anything this could be, apart from an alien spaceship" is a form of argument from ignorance. The point is: there might well be many things that might explain the image in the photo, but you just haven't thought of them or come across those ideas yet.

    It is important not to jump to conclusions.

    Suppose you show me a fuzzy photograph of an animal and claim it is a photo of a horse, but you're not sure. It is important, for some reason, for us to try to verify your claim. I would start by looking at the features that appear to support the hypothesis that there's a horse in the photo. Oh look! I can see four legs, and what looks like brown skin, and I think I can make out some hooves. The head is a bit fuzzy, but it seems like it's approximately horse-head shaped. Yes, this definitely looks like a horse, at first glance.

    So, is it a horse? We're not done yet. What else could it be, other than a horse? Could it be a donkey, perhaps? Well, looking at the photograph again, I can't really see anything that clearly says "horse" rather than "donkey". Where does that leave us, then?

    Can we say the photo is of a horse? No, we can't, because it could be a donkey. Can we say it's a donkey, then? No, we can't. It could still be a horse. Can we say it's either a horse or a donkey, then? No, we can't. Almost certainly, there are other animals that we haven't thought of yet, and the photo might be equally consistent with one of those.

    In this example, it seems like it's time to stop referring to your photo as the photo of a horse. The best we've come up with is that it's a UGP - an Unidentified Ground-based Phenomenon of some kind.

    "But I photographed it at a horse-riding school!" you say. Well, why didn't you say that in the first place? Now we have some additional data that we can feed into the identification problem. Where is this riding school? Does it keep donkeys, or just horses? Any exotic species?

    You probably think this is silly, at this point. Why not just take your (the eyewitness's) word for it that it's a photograph of a horse? Because you said, right at the start, that you didn't know for sure what it was. Remember? We're trying to solve the mystery. If you didn't want my help to try to solve the mystery, why did you bring it to me in the first place?

    Suppose I've never seen a horse, and you want to use this photo to try to convince me that horses are real. Is the photo alone going to convince me that horses are real? No - especially if I already know that donkeys are real. You're telling me there's an animal that looks quite like a donkey, but isn't one? Well, maybe there is, but this one fuzzy photo is unlikely to convince me of that. (Compare, by the way: a fuzzy UFO FLIR photograph of something that looks a lot like a regular jet exhaust is unlikely to convince me, on its own, that the photo shows an alien spacecraft.) Why would I create a whole new category of creatures I believe in, based on this fuzzy photo that already looks a lot like something I already know about?

    Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe horses are real, after all. (Notice, I never said they can't exist.) But, so far, you have failed to convince me with your fuzzy photo and your stories of supposed horse-riding schools. But I'm open to finding (or being shown) new evidence. I can't say for sure that your photo doesn't show a horse; I'm just not yet convinced that it does. I need better evidence.

    If you really want to help me to recognise the existence of horses, what's your next move? I'd say it's obvious: go out into the world and gather some higher-quality evidence. I'm not closed minded. I'm open to the possibility that this whole horse caper is a thing. I'm a reasonable person. Present some reasonable evidence, and I'm quite ready to believe you, I assure you.

    What do you think my attitude will be if you proceed to present me with 10 more fuzzy and indistinct photographs of supposed "horses", to try to make your case for the existence of horses? I'd say, you might manage to marginally shift my willingness to accept your claim, but I'm still probably going to be skeptical (especially given those donkeys I already know about).

    Mind you, your whole "horse" thing doesn't sound unreasonable, on the face of it. After all, I know that horse-like creatures exist on Earth already. It's not like you're asking me to believe in a tentacled monster with four legs and hooves; I have no experience with anything like that. Your "horse" doesn't need to break the laws of physics. It is at least plausible that it might exist. It's not an extraordinary claim you're making.

    It's not that I wouldn't be ready to accept the existence of the tentacled monster, either. But it's likely that I'd be harder to pursuade, in that case. It could well be that the more extraordinary the claim, the stronger the evidence I might need, to be persuaded. Fancy that!
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Stickin' a pin in this.
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    To pop it?
    wegs likes this.
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    James has taken to writing posts to himself and quoting himself. It appears someone is desperate for some feedback.
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I hate "fuzzy photographs".
    If someone is not smart enough to figure out low-light photography, I tend to doubt his ability to figure out what he is looking at to begin with.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Now that's a demon I can believe in.......

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    Clearly, this picture is not anatomically correct...

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    Last edited: Mar 19, 2023
  18. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    To be honest, I guess the idea of the fringe section serving as a “safe space” sounds appealing, but not because it should be free of scrutiny, from a critical thinking perspective. But “arguing” over and over if MR or others who think like him are really just trolls in disguise, is more detrimental to the forum than just letting this space be a little more lax.

    There have been several forum violations by a few in this thread using ad homs and calling MR degrading names, but if it’s just a “tongue in cheek” section, the rules don’t apply?
    Magical Realist, Write4U and Yazata like this.
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's all a matter of scale.

    I'd say that wasps that use their stabbing ovipositors (stings) to inject fertilized eggs into the bodies of other insects, which then hatch and eat the unfortunate victim from the inside-out, are monsters.

    They were the inspiration of the face-huggers in the movie Alien.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2023
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    How terrifying the insect world must be. The is only a single instinct, to survive at all cost.
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I see some clown has drawn in imaginary teeth, when actually the mandibles open sideways, and has mistaken the sockets of the antennae for eyes, when of course an ant has compound eyes, not shown in this picture.

    What a stupid picture.
    Yazata likes this.

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