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Author Topic: Will there ever be a "UFO" *SCIENCE* thread here at Naked Science Forum?  (Read 4038 times)

Offline demografx

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I'm re-posting this to start a new thread. I believe the subject of UFO's - after 50 years of more ridicule than seriousness - is ready for the limelight. My personal opinion. Would really like to know how others feel about it.

I think the recent bestseller by Leslie Kean brings great sobriety to the subject of UFO's.

The book title is "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record". A most fascinating read. John Podesta, White House Chief of Staff to President Clinton and co-chair of President Obama's transition team, provides a foreword. Published by Crown, a division of Random House.

Before the extraterrestrial hypothesis can even begin to be approached scientifically, the formal scientific study of "the UFO phenomenon" is necessary.

From worldwide reports in her book by credible airline pilots, both military and commercial, and high ranking military personnel, including many generals, and government officials, British, American, and others, there is a basis for scientific study - with physical evidence such as ground markings, radar data, and photography.

But this fertile area for research is all held back due to the stigma associated with "UFO's" in the scientific community. Part of the stigma is deserved because of the mistaken assumption that UFOs are, by definition, extraterrestrial spacecraft.

That extraterrestrial-based correlation has not been proven in any believable manner. Yet.

But the evidence does seem clear that it is worthwhile studying scientifically globally-repeated flying patterns of objects that seemingly defy laws of physics, such as silent hovering, and rapid acceleration.

Once that has begun, then and only then, can the  extraterrestrial hypothesis begin to be explored, as one possible explanation.



 

Offline RD

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There are explanations for "flying saucers" other than ET...



... silent hovering

Clouds are very good at that ...


http://www.telegraph.co.uk
« Last Edit: 01/01/2011 02:50:05 by RD »
 

Offline JP

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What UFO believers generally disregard is what RD said: there are good scientific explanations for a majority of UFO sightings.  A lot of believers want UFOs to be something more special than clouds, balloons, military craft, or figments of the imagination, so many reject the scientific explanations.  Science doesn't work by ignoring explanations that you don't like. 

I'm sure there are cases where the above explanations don't fit, and maybe they do warrant some research.  The problem is that science requires funding, which in turn usually requires a good bet that the research will pay off in technology or fundamental science.  It's hard to see how you could make that bet for UFO research.
 

Offline Geezer

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Tell that to Randy Quaid!

Small Print: This post does not necessarily represent the opinion of TNS in general

Even Smaller Print: Randy, please contact your trickcyclist ASAP
 

Offline demografx

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There are explanations for "flying saucers" other than ET

Clouds are very good at that ... [silent hovering]


You missed the point. ET is NOT suggested as an explanation. Yet. What IS suggested is to examine scientific evidence AFTER the balloons and clouds are ruled out.

95% of the sightings are explained away as you suggest.

I'm talking about the 5%. Let's find out what they're all about.

Forget ET's. That's the root of the problem if you read the summary above carefully. The term "ET" is not used once in the book mentioned above.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2011 10:07:10 by demografx »
 

Offline demografx

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What UFO believers generally disregard...there are good scientific explanations for a majority of UFO sightings.


Agreed. When I see the term "UFO believers" it calls to mind an irrational fringe group wearing tinfoil hats. And again, 95% of the sightings can be explained as mundane events.

It has been suggested to move away from the term "UFO" for this reason, and call it something more scientifically appropriate, such as Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAP).

I'm thinking of more serious researchers, such as those in aeronautical science, physics, and other respected minds in scholarly and scientific research who wish to explore serious work.

Unquestionably a minority. But they wish to further serious scientific research into the UFO phenomenon.


I'm sure there are cases where the above explanations don't fit, and maybe they do warrant some research.  The problem is that science requires funding, which in turn usually requires a good bet that the research will pay off in technology or fundamental science.  It's hard to see how you could make that bet for UFO research.


Excellent point. Not easily provable, but I do think that there are defense, aerospace, and physics research areas which could benefit significantly and easily justify the expense.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2011 10:28:49 by demografx »
 

Offline demografx

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Please understand: the intent of this thread is NOT to lobby for UFO's as a SCIENCE thread here at Naked Science Forum.

It's simply not recognized that way today.

The point is to see whether "UFO"s or "UAP's" can become a future scientific classification and respectable area of study.
 

Offline graham.d

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There are huge amounts of data on UFOs and almost none of it testable or reliable. It would not surprise me if, next to porn, it is the most popular subject of internet traffic. Nearly all of it is undiscerning boll**ks. It may be more justifiable than research into "paranormal" activities (ghosts, healing by waving crystals about etc.) but it is not far off this in terms of the quality of data.

There are actually plenty of serious professional people looking at the sky for a living and, although there is the odd well publicised inexplicable event, most are actually examined as it is usually importent to know about things flying about in controlled airspace. I don't think there is any international conspiracy to hide data that would show anything that would point to alien machines. And there are also huge numbers of amateurs peering up regularly too, but I suspect too few are wholly objective.

As for learning anything useful from the odd unexplained event, well maybe; but the lack of ability to reproduce such events and the history of the whole subject makes any objectivity questionable. There have been serious groups researching paranormal activities in the past because the potential reward from finding a positive result are so enormous draws funding. Nothing was ever found but it does not deter the believers. I suspect UFOlogy is in a similar category.
 

Offline demografx

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There are huge amounts of data on UFOs and almost none of it testable or reliable.


Nonsense.

There is a huge amount of reliable data but no formal testing and research procedures in place. Which, as JP suggests, requires funding.

Read the book cited above and tell me that there is no testable or reliable data from the myriad pilots, scientists, generals and others who have already gone on record with radar information, ground tracings, and aerial photography.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2011 10:58:36 by demografx »
 

Offline graham.d

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Well I beg to differ. There are, relatively, a lot of reports of UFO sightings and a few are from people who one would expect to be good witnesses. However, none are testable because it is in the nature of such observations that they are one-off events. It also seems that all pictures of such objects (when separated from the more obvious fakes) are of very poor quality. As was amusingly referred to by Douglas Adams, these rich-boy aliens like to have a good laugh by finding some odd person in a remote location and fly down making beep-beep noises knowing nobody will believe him :-)

The saxons believed in fire breathing, flying dragons and there were many reported sightings but I don't think there were any. Conan-Doyle spent a lot of his time researching communication with the dead, but I think he was wasting his time. Isaac Newton spent much of his time in the field of alchemy and in trying to find meaning from numbers in the Bible. I just use these examples because humans, and maybe especially scientists, like to see patterns and meaning, sometimes where there is none. Random, unrepeatable observations are not a good subject for research, though over the years have actually had quite a lot. There are a huge number of enthusiasts looking into this and, unless you believe in the giant cover up concept, the military organisations of several countries have done so also, with no significant findings. 

Personally I think SETI is also a waste of money and effort as I've stated before. Any aliens who are able to get here, are, statistically, likely to be technologically so far ahead of us that we certainly would not detect them. We also would not detect random signals and, actually, SETI are really only trying to detect deliberate signals. It is unlikely that anyone, except those close to humans in their stage of development, would use such a signalling system (and then why would they bother?). The chances of finding such a signal are vanishingly small. It is not to say that I don't think there are aliens out there. It is quite likely, and they may have even been to visit (and may still be here), but we won't find them unless they want to be found or until we fly out there and visit them!

There may be use in research into some events, like the occurrence of ball lightning. There is still debate about this and there has been a fair bit of research and attempts to reproduce it. A sef-sustaining plasma could be very useful as a simple way of containing a fusion reaction without the huge magnets.
 

Offline RD

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What IS suggested is to examine scientific evidence AFTER the balloons and clouds are ruled out.
like "secret" military aircraft, meteors or other heavenly bodies, atmospheric illusions, hoaxes and substance abuse.

95% of the sightings are explained away as you suggest.
I'm talking about the 5%. Let's find out what they're all about


Any hard evidence to lead anyone to believe that the "5%" aren't just like the "95%" which don't involve ET ?, e.g. a something which fell from ET's spacecraft, like alien DNA from when they empty the septic tank out of the flying saucer. 
« Last Edit: 04/01/2011 18:30:18 by RD »
 

Offline JP

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There are huge amounts of data on UFOs and almost none of it testable or reliable.


Nonsense.

There is a huge amount of reliable data but no formal testing and research procedures in place. Which, as JP suggests, requires funding.

Read the book cited above and tell me that there is no testable or reliable data from the myriad pilots, scientists, generals and others who have already gone on record with radar information, ground tracings, and aerial photography.

None of that would meet the criteria of hard scientific evidence, since none can be proven to have no mundane explanation.  It doesn't matter how much of that type of evidence you pile up--without actual hard evidence that can be independently verified, this doesn't amount to a scientific field.  A single sample of a UFO that is verifiable and made available for study by independent research labs as having no mundane explanation would do the trick.

Given the fact that all the effort put into the field so far has yielded no hard evidence, and we don't seem any closer to obtaining hard evidence, it's not worth pursuing the field.  It seems to me that if UFOs have some non-mundane explanation, the best hope for finding hard evidence is luck--one would have to fall out of the sky.
« Last Edit: 02/01/2011 07:51:29 by JP »
 

Offline Don_1

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one would have to fall out of the sky.

According to John C Fogerty, one already has!

The whole point of evaluating UFO sightings is to try to turn them into IFO's, whether it be a bird, a plane, a piece of foil or my dinner being hurled at me by 'er indoors. But there are some which remain unidentified. Could reason not be brought to bear in such cases, so as to turn yet another UFO into an IFO?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to FO and make a cup of coffee.

 

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