Saturday, August 28, 2010

UFOs and the Negative

The other day I was reading something and it told me that scientists ignore us because we attack the problem of UFOs from the negative. In other words, we say that there is alien visitation because five percent of the sightings remain unidentified. You simply can’t get to the extraterrestrial from that direction.

While I agree with the sentiment, I disagree with the underlying premise. I don’t believe I have ever suggested we must have alien visitors because X-number of sightings remain unexplained. I have always approached this from the positive. There are some sighting events that suggest alien visitation because of the evidence gathered.

As one example, let’s look, briefly, at the photographs taken by Paul Trent in May 1950. There are two possible explanations, given the clarity of the photographs and the story told by Trent and his wife. The pictures either show an unknown craft of a type not flown on Earth, or the pictures have been faked. There is no third possibility.

This case provides us with two chains of evidence. First is the witness testimony about what they saw. The second is what can be deduced from the photograph. They can be considered independently and they can either support or undermine one another. Is there something that can be observed in the pictures that suggest the witnesses are lying? Some skeptics will say yes. Some UFO investigators will say they are not.

As I have mentioned before I also think of the Levelland sightings of November 2, 1957as good, positive evidence. Here we have, at least, three chains of evidence. Of course there is eyewitness testimony from witnesses in thirteen separate locations who were not aware that anyone else had reported the UFO.

The second chain is one that his hotly disputed and this is the reports of the UFO affecting the electrical systems of the various vehicles. Somehow, the approach of the UFO, according to the witnesses, caused engines to fail, lights to dim and radios to fill with static. The UFO was interacting with the environment in what is now known as electromagnetic effects.

Skeptics will tell you that the Condon Committee attempted to suppress the electrical systems of cars using the most powerful magnets available and they failed... which tells us a number of things. The magnets weren’t powerful enough or those electromagnetic effects are something other than just powerful magnetic fields, and the witnesses, without consultation with one another invented this rather interesting detail in an amazing coincidence.

There was the possibility of a third chain of evidence and this is one that Don Burleson discovered some forty-three years after the event. Apparently, there was a landing that left markings on the ground. This was investigated by the sheriff at the time, but he was told not to mention it. Burleson learned about it by talking to the relatives of the sheriff. Of course, forty-three years after the fact is the same as no evidence at all in this specific case.

What all this means that an amazing series of sightings, if investigated properly when they happened, might have provided some clues about the nature of UFO sightings. The problem is the agendas of various organizations, the Air Force, NICAP, APRO, the news media, got in the way. Everyone was looking to prove his or her point and the evidence didn’t matter all that much.

I could go on. Take the Tremonton film from 1952. A Navy officer filmed some objects in the sky in Utah. There are no foreground details. Just the white lights in the sky (frame of the film seen here). The officer, Delbert Newhouse, said that he had seen the objects at closer range and they had a definite shape. The Air Force and others rejected that testimony, writing the case off as birds. But here is an intriguing case in which some of the evidence is ignored because it simply doesn’t fit with the offered solution.

And I could point out, as I have before, that Ted Philips has catalogued some 4000 landing trace cases. What would have been the result if the academic community had spent the time attempting to learn something from these landing traces? We would be having a different conversation.

Or take the Washington Nationals in which there were observers on the ground, observers in commercial airliners, fighter pilots (seen here with their aircraft), and the objects watched on radar sets... and at one time, three different sets at three different locations. Multiple witnesses with various levels of training and instrumentality involved in the corroboration. What is one of those on the ground had thought to take pictures, or what if one of those fighters had been equipped with gun cameras? What might we have learned? Another opportunity lost.

My point here, however, is that I haven’t argued the reality of UFOs from the negative, meaning that X-number of sightings are unidentified. I argue from the positive. Here is the evidence. Let’s look at it carefully and see where it leads us. The criticism, then, that we somehow, unfairly, reach our conclusions, based on a negative premise, is disproved. Now, let’s see where the positive evidence takes us... something to explore at another time.


Frank Stalter said...

"Funding. That's what makes your ships go up. No bucks, no Buck Rodgers."

If scientific research into UFOs isn't funded, it won't happen, not on any significant scale anyway. The science right now is hunting exo-planets and that's an estimable pursuit.

There's also historical research of cases past and journalistic research into current cases. It's a field where many can make a contribution.

Daro said...

Following Frank's quote from "The Right Stuff", I offer the testimony of Gordon "Gordo" Cooper as played by Dennis Quaid in the movie. When a Mercury astronaut tells me (by video) that he say a saucer land in front of him and take off again... then I'm inclined to believe him. Recall the movie and how rigoursly it tested thousands of applicants mentally, physically, emotionally, maritally and otherwise.

Frank Stalter said...

Deke Slayton had a sighting too in 1951. He filed a report that's in Blue Book and wrote about it in his autobiography.