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Author Topic: What are your opinions on studying UFOs?  (Read 3600 times)

Paul Moody

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« on: 12/06/2008 08:03:41 »
Paul Moody  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hello,

My name is Will Moody, and I am 12 years old. For a project at school I am studying Ufology. If you could answer the following questions it would be most appreciated. Thanks.
   
Do you believe that there is intelligent life in the universe?  
Do you or your scientist friends believe that ufology is something to be pitied on and not taken seriously?  
If so, why? If not, why do you think mainstream science doesn’t take it seriously? Do you think ufology is a disgrace to science? Why?
   
Thank you for your time,
   
Yours sincerely,
   
Will Moody

What do you think?


 

blakestyger

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« Reply #1 on: 12/06/2008 10:05:16 »
Like all enquiries these deserve serious attention but unfortunately they both attract more than their fair share of nutters.

So far as intelligent life in the Universe is concerned it may be there or it may not - what we need is some sort of evidence and that is being sought by SETI - the late Carl Sagan is a good read if you want to pursue this further. Money is being spent on this so it is being taken seriously.

UFOs are just what they say they are - flying objects that are so far unidentified. That does not mean they automatically have alien pilots, which is the default thinking of many watchers, Robbie Williams and conspiracy theorists everywhere. Governments are spending money on this too so it is getting attention though it's probably true to say they are thinking more along the lines of terrestrially generated devices from rival powers.

The trick is to keep an open mind and accept reliable evidence only - in other words be a scientist!

Good luck.
 

Offline Ophiolite

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« Reply #2 on: 12/06/2008 11:00:05 »
Do you believe that there is intelligent life in the universe?
Almost certainly. Even if life is very rare and intelligent life even rarer, the universe is a very large place. It would be surprsing if a combination of circumstances similar to those that led to intelligent life on Earth had not occured somewhere else.

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Do you or your scientist friends believe that ufology is something to be pitied on and not taken seriously?   
Most ufologists start from a position of belief. They search for evidence supporting this belief and tend to ignore, or misinterpret evidence that points the other way. This is definitely not the way science should be conducted, so any scientists who have thought about it would be dismissive of the idea.
That said, proper studies can be conducted. The US airforce comissioned such a study back in the late 1960s called the Condon report. It is available online - it is pretty heavy reading, but you might be interested to take a look at it.
 http://www.ncas.org/condon/

 
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Do you think ufology is a disgrace to science? Why?
As noted above, most of the ufo investigators are simply not practising science. They might use the words and the instruments of science, but they definitely don't use the methodology.
When the methodology is applied, as in the case of the Condon Report, then it wouldn't, normally, be called ufology.

Hope that helps.
 

Offline LeeE

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« Reply #3 on: 12/06/2008 13:53:58 »
UFOs are a very interesting phenomenom.  The number of accounts of them certainly seems to suggest that something is occurring, especially when you consider that quite a few have been reported by military and civilian aircrew who not only spend a lot of time in the air and are very familiar with the environment but are also highly technically trained and need good powers of observation.

On the other hand though, UFOs just don't seem to behave rationally.  That is, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to their appearances or what they do when they are seen.  A good question would be: What are they trying to achieve by behaving in the way that they do?

As far as alien UFOs are concerned, it seems very unlikely that they come from within our solar system as none of the planets or moons seem to be capable of supporting any form of life that could have devloped to the level where they could design and build UFOs, which implies that they come from outside our solar system.  This makes their behaviour even less understandable - why make the effort to come all the way here, from another star system, just to play hide and seek with us?

I think the most important thing for you to remember in your study of ufology is that you are not studying UFOs, but studying witness accounts of them.

And here's my personal witness account of the only UFO I've ever seen:  I've been interested in everything about the sky, and especially aeroplanes, since the age of about 6 or 7, and when I'm not looking at where I'm walking I'll often be looking at the sky - in all weathers, day or night.  One summer day, when I was about ten years old, I saw what appeared to be a strange geometrical shape (an orange sphere with an orange diamond below it) appear from behind a cloud, fly across a patch of clear blue sky and then behind another bit of cloud.  As the second bit of cloud it had flown behind was very small I was able to estimate when it would emerge from the other side if it held the same course and speed and while I waited I tried to figure out if it was some sort of balloon, although the speed was wrong.  It reappeared on time but when it did I could clearly see that it was just an ordinary white coloured, propeller driven light aircraft.  Even at that age, I discounted the idea that I had just seen a shape-changing UFO and realised that I had learnt more about the reliability of human perception than I had about UFOs.
 

blakestyger

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« Reply #4 on: 12/06/2008 21:09:34 »
Interestingly, the first 'eye-witness' reports of flying saucers appeared in the 1930s - just after they appeared in an illustrated American science fiction magazine.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
« Reply #5 on: 13/06/2008 05:59:02 »
I certainly believe there is "intelligent" life elsewhere in the universe. I can't believe that with the trillions upon trillions of planets out there, Earth is the only 1 that has had the right conditions for life to develop. Man is not the only intelligent creature on Earth - merely the creature with the most recognisably advanced intelligence. I say "recognisably" as we do not yet know just how intelligent Cetacea are. Just because they don't use technology doesn't mean they are not intelligent.

The same may well be true for other planets. Who is to say that intelligent creatures must develop radio communication? If a species that does not have radio has evolved somewhere then SETI will not find it.

There is also the question of a radio "window". We have only had radio for around 10 years or so. Will be still be using it another 100 years from now, or will a new technology have come into use? Even if we assume that radio will not be superceded for 1000 years, that is still a very small window when you consider the life of a planet. We could have missed it. There could be countless advanced civilisations using communication methods that we cannot detect.

On the question of UFOs, I have an open mind. I too have seen things in the sky that I couldn't identify, but I would hesitate to assume they were of extra-terrestrial origin. One particular instance springs to mind.

I was walking along at night in an area with no lights, so the night sky was clearly visible. I saw three lights forming an equilateral triangle. Without an estimate of the height, I can't guess what speed they were travelling at. I didn't think much of it until all 3 made a 90o turn. The lights didn't turn the way a plane would. It was as if they had hit something and ricocheted off at a right-angle. I still, to this day, have no idea what I saw.

LeeE's point is well made - "why make the effort to come all the way here, from another star system, just to play hide and seek with us?"
« Last Edit: 13/06/2008 06:01:16 by DoctorBeaver »
 

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What are your opinions on studying UFOs?
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