Monday, June 07, 2021

What's Up With UFO's?

We've all been hearing about this for years with varying degrees of belief.  I read an article some time mid-May that said the US govt is required to disclose all its information by June 1st, so I expected it to be open season after that date.  I figured whatever came out would suck up all the oxygen in the room for a month. I must have misunderstood, because no such release of documents is being breathlessly discussed.

Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine has a Quillette article Understanding the Unidentified that was interesting. I have never been convinced that Extraterrestrial Intelligence has been detected in any way.  I am neutral on whether it has ever existed anywhere, but strongly negative that it has manifested on earth. Shermer makes the interesting point that increasing numbers of unexplained incidents without anything definite actually decreases the probability that these are aliens. Also

In a 2017 article in the journal Motivation and Emotion entitled “We Are Not Alone,” the psychologist Clay Routledge and his colleagues found an inverse relationship between religiosity and ETI beliefs—that is, those who report low levels of religious belief but high desire for meaning show greater belief in ETIs. In Study 1, subjects who read an essay “arguing that human life is ultimately meaningless and cosmically insignificant” were statistically significantly more likely to believe in ETIs than those who read an essay on the “limitations of computers.” In Study 2, subjects who self-identified as either atheist or agnostic were statistically significantly more likely to report believing in ETIs than those who reported being religious (primarily Christian). In Studies 3 and 4, subjects completed a religiosity scale, a meaning in life scale, a well-being scale, an ETI belief scale, and a religious supernatural belief scale. “Lower presence of meaning and higher search for meaning were associated with greater belief in ETI,” the researchers reported, but ETI beliefs showed no correlation with supernatural beliefs or well-being beliefs.


Unknown said...

Thanks to the link to the Shermer article in Quillette.

I'd pretty much intuited from headlines and ledes that the 'new' UFO videos were not new, and that the 'unexplained' phenomena in them had pedestrian explanations really.

It is new information to me that notable purveyors of what Skeptic magazine labels 'woo-woo' make up the byline of the NYT reports. No wonder I've seen so many blog commenters frustrated that such 'news' reports would somehow miss the obvious conventional explanations for what's pictured.

Christopher B said...

More analysis here.

The tl;dr is the videos are classified as UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) if the observer can't *immediately* recognize the object, and may not be reclassified or explained even if subsequent analysis reveals a mundane subject. These are also taken using highly sensitive optical gear that has known effects on apparent image motion as the camera is refocused or repositioned. (Any railfan has seen dozens of 'worst railroad track in the world!!/how does a train stay on this??!!' photos that are the artifact of image compression when taking extreme zoom or telephoto shots.) These particular videos were the subject of intense interest and FOI requests which the author speculates lead the Pentagon to confirm their authenticity without further comment, that supplying specific image identification might provide information that could help our adversaries better understand our optical sensing/FLIR capabilities, and the potential that UFO speculation might be used as a cover for classified flight testing.

Sam L. said...
I gave up on NR when it went NEVER TRUMP in 2015.

james said...

A few centuries ago, did people see angels?

Jonathan said...

The classic question is something like: If there really were alien beings who were hundreds of millions or billions of years more evolved than us, and thus might have technology for rapid interstellar travel, how would they treat beings (us) who were that much less evolved than they were?

An obvious answer: How do humans treat insects and small mammals?

For this reason alone I am skeptical that humans have ever encountered space aliens.

Narr said...

Can you say Galactic Bypass? I knew that you could.

My theory is that the UFO/UAP stuff is mundane misdirection; if advanced aliens are aware of us, they've agreed among themselves to stay several million parsecs away--we're like a preserve.

Cousin Eddie

Doug said...

In response to Jonathan’s comment:
A few years ago, I read the Three Body Problem series by Cixin Liu. In the second book, one of the characters proposes the concept of cosmic sociology, which is a framework to describe the fundamental needs of civilizations in the universe, namely all civilizations will do what they must to survive and all matter in the universe is conserved. This leads him to propose a “dark forest theory” on interactions among extraterrestrial civilizations, which considers these two tenets within the context of time and travel in the universe. I found it to be a very interesting take (and highly recommend the books). I don’t want to ruin the story, but if you want to read more the article below describes this in detail.

stevo said...

To paraphrase Michael Crichton, SETI was the first branch of science to be set up without anything to study