Thursday, August 07, 2008

The emotions of UFOs and other fringe topics

Today I came across this excellent editorial by Seth Shostak, a researcher at the SETI Institute, about how many of the most vocal proponents of alien visitations seem to prefer uncivilized arguments to rational discussion on the issue.

Note that some scientists are guilty of the same thing, and most believers in UFOs don't engage in this behaviour. But it is disheartening for those of us who do make good faith efforts to discuss issues to be unfairly attacked.

This sort of uncivil discourse seems to be pervasive in society, and always has been. It doesn't matter whether the topic is science or religion or politics or sports. But that doesn't make it acceptable, and it certainly does not help to win people over to a cause or an opinion.


  1. "Professor",

    I sent the e-mail below to you on 04Aug2008
    but I don't know if it got to your inbox.

    I haven't read Dr. Shostak's editorial yet - but I was impressed a couple years ago by a very civil response he sent me after I had sent him an e-mail about the ETH (alien visitation) debate.

    04 August 2008

    Greetings Earthling,

    I wrote a couple of comments under your article:

    Why astronomers don't believe in alien UFOs from Monday, January 21, 2008.

    Sorry if my remarks came off as less than cordial. I know they are very mild by internet stds. - but I also know I was feeling a little irritated while I was writing them.

    So... I'm writing to apologize a little & because I am curious.

    Did you do any research before you wrote 'Why astronomers don't believe in alien UFOs'?

    I can provide some helpful links if you are interested.

    Below is a list I grabbed from Wikipedia. In addition to Clyde Tombaugh, Michio Kaku & Bernard Haisch - I wouldly highly recommend considering the roles of Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter & Admiral Delmar Fahrney in NICAP (an early 'Disclosure' group) and the testimony of the countless military & civilian pilots, air traffic controllers, radar operators & other experts who not only reported seeing aircraft/spacecraft doing things that human made craft could not possibly do - but also offer very credible testimony regardiing government & military suppression & disinformation.

    Yeah I know many peope think anything that sounds even remotely like conspiracy theory is just bad craziness - but that is a kneejerk reaction and not very helpful to a researcher.

    from Wikipedia :

    A list of those who have defended the ETH, at least as a viable hypothesis:

    American astronomer James C. Bartlett
    Belgian physicist Maurice A. Biot
    Astronaut Gordon Cooper
    Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding (head of the Royal Air Force during World War II)
    Brig. General Arthur Exon, former commanding officer Wright Patterson AFB
    U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Delmar S. Fahrney, once head of the Navy's guided missile program
    Barry Goldwater, deceased U.S. Senator from Arizona, Presidential nominee, Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve
    Physicist Bernard Haisch
    Astronomer Frank Halstead
    Professor of Engineering James Harder
    Former Canadian Defence Minister Paul Hellyer
    NACA/NASA aerospace engineer Paul R. Hill
    Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, first CIA director
    Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung
    Physicist Michio Kaku
    Physicist Bruce Maccabee
    Commander Robert McLaughlin, former head of the Naval guided missile program at White Sands Proving Grounds
    James M. McCampbell, Former NASA and nuclear engineer, author of Ufology [2]
    Physicist James E. McDonald
    Astronaut Storey Musgrove
    Admiral Lord Hill-Norton, former Chief of Defense Staff, former NATO head, United Kingdom
    Astronaut Edgar Mitchell
    Hermann Oberth, German-American physicist and rocket expert
    Nick Pope, former head of the British Ministry of Defence UFO desk
    Walter Riedel, German rocket scientist
    Paul Santorini, Greek physicist, Manhattan Project scientist
    Psychologist David Saunders (psychologist), member of the Condon UFO Committee
    Robert Sarbacher, nuclear physicist and missile expert
    Wilbert Smith, Canadian government radio engineer, spearheaded Canadian UFO studies 1950-1962
    American astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock
    American chemist Michael D. Swords
    Fife Symington, former governor of Arizona and military pilot
    Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh
    Russian scientist Felix Zigel
    1999 French COMETA UFO study committee of aerospace experts and high-ranking military analysts
    The three heads of the official French UFO investigations GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN, astronomer Claude Poher (GEPAN, 1977-1978), engineer Jean-Jacques Velasco (GEPAN/SEPRA, 1983-2004), and Yves Sillard (GEIPAN, 2005-), former head of the French space agency CNES.

    I'll be curious to know if you are at all open minded,

    I know that for most people there aren't enough hours in a day to do much (if any) non-work related research - but I would really appreciate if people who choose to write the cliched skeptical denials of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis took the time to look for the best available evidence instead of just putting out the same tired arguments (too much distance, why haven't they landed on the White House lawn, some UFO sightings are mistaken, etc, etc) anyway I am obviously rambling & maybe ever ranting here & I have to go look at an electron microscope that has been accused of scratching samples...

    yours truly,

    a reader.

  2. Here's a few more links worth checking:

    **** UFOs - Best Available Evidence ***

    UFOs & POTUS - What did US Presidents know & what did they say about UFOS? Grant Cameron has done an outstanding job of gathering that info.
    Admiral Hillenkoetter:

    From Wikipedia: "Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter (May 8, 1897 – June 18, 1982), born in St. Louis, Missouri, was the third director of the post-WWII U.S. Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency created by the National Security Act of 1947. He served as director of the CIG and the CIA from May 1, 1947 to October 7, 1950.

    Hillenkoetter was a member of NICAP and Donald E. Keyhoe writes in his book Aliens from Space that Hillenkoetter wanted public disclosure of UFO evidence. (page 28 in the Dutch translation of that book) Perhaps Hillenkoetter's best-known statement on the subject was in 1960 in a letter to Congress, as reported in the New York Times: "Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense." [1]

    *** MISC ****

    Richard Dolan - an excellent researcher, historian and writer

    JAL Flight 1628

  3. But Wait! There's More!

    Barry Goldwater "A vote for Barry is a vote for fun"


    From Wikipedia:

    Interest in UFOs
    Goldwater was one of the more prominent American politicians to openly show an interest in UFOs.

    On March 28, 1975, Goldwater wrote to Shlomo Arnon: "The subject of UFOs has interested me for some long time. About ten or twelve years ago I made an effort to find out what was in the building at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where the information has been stored that has been collected by the Air Force, and I was understandably denied this request. It is still classified above Top Secret." Goldwater further wrote that there were rumors the evidence would be released, and that he was "just as anxious to see this material as you are, and I hope we will not have to wait much longer."[39](Also Good, 405)

    The April 25, 1988 issue of The New Yorker carried an interview where Goldwater said he repeatedly asked his friend, Gen. Curtis LeMay, if there was any truth to the rumors that UFO evidence was stored in a secret room at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and if he (Goldwater) might have access to the room. According to Goldwater, an angry LeMay gave him "holy hell" and said, "Not only can't you get into it but don't you ever mention it to me again."

    In a 1988 interview on Larry King's radio show, Goldwater was asked if he thought the U.S. Government was withholding UFO evidence; he replied "Yes, I do." He added:

    I certainly believe in aliens in space. They may not look like us, but I have very strong feelings that they have advanced beyond our mental capabilities....I think some highly secret government UFO investigations are going on that we don't know about — and probably never will unless the Air Force discloses them.[40]