Wednesday, 26 December 2007

UFOs and Irrelevant Arguments

Rich Reynolds' latest blog, UFOs: The Cosmology Flaw at
is, I believe, fundamentally flawed. In it, he lists at least one of the standard sceptical arguments about why intelligently controlled UFOs wouldn’t visit Earth; the planet is irrelevant and not worth the trouble. He even goes as far as to say that Saturn or Venus would be more interesting.

This kind of statement, which Rich is a long way from being alone in making, is of a course a personal abstract. What the individual is really saying is, I’m not worth the trouble of travelling 20 million light years through space to come and observe.

I have no idea what UFOs are, or at least no definite theories other than the probability that their solution lies in more than one direction. But what they are or are not isn’t the issue here. For me, it is the claim that we would be of no interest to a sentient species more advanced than ourselves.

To put it bluntly, this is absolute rubbish. Why? Well, it’s true that in order to answer the question, I have to fall into one of my own traps which is to anthropomorphise and make a judgement based on what Humans would do, which admittedly is not necessarily what an alien would do. But to put it simply, we are intrigued by primates, fascinated by insects, and generally enthralled by other intelligence, regardless of how developed or basic it may be. And we are prepared to travel what for us would be vast distances to look for it. When we do discover microbial life on Mars, we will lavish scientific attention on it to a depth probably not experienced before.

Why wouldn’t another sentient species take the same attitude toward us? If they’ve got themselves into space and developed the ability to travel cosmic distances, they have done that in part to investigate. They may have done it for other reasons as well, such as the need to get off their own planet, but unquestionably, curiosity will be part of their motive. It may be base, it may be malignant, but regardless, they would be driven by a desire to explore.

Even if intelligent life is “everywhere” in the cosmos and civilisations like ours are ten a penny, it doesn’t detract from the potential desire to observe and learn. If we are part of a universal evolutionary chain, then we know from our own experience that evolution adapts according to environment and circumstances. Perhaps there are conditions on Earth that have caused us to go in a particular direction, one which may be a little different, a little more unique. And perhaps not. Either way, I have no doubt we are significant enough to be worthy of further examination.

Another irrelevant argument offered against UFOs being intelligently controlled is that interstellar travel would take too long and that the distances are too great. Nothing can contravene the laws of physics which is that faster than light travel is impossible. This argument is flawed in so many different directions it’s difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, there is an assumption that there is no intelligent life nearby, and before you say, “Okay Stuart, where is it?”, my response would be; absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is not an idea I particularly adhere to – that we have intelligent, relatively near neighbours, but by the same token, it cannot be ruled out as an absolute. It may be unlikely and there is no proof, but it is not impossible.

And the claim that FTL travel is impossible is pathetic. It may be impossible in terms of our understanding of physics now, but let’s look a little further ahead and imagine that in 50 or 100 years, our science may just have moved on from where it is now. To rule something out as impossible because currently its fantasy is pointless.

When it comes to ET, we have absolutely no idea; just the cultural imprint that we all carry. We need to free ourselves of these shackles and be prepared for anything, and avoid ridiculous blanket statements such as “Why bother with us?”


RRRGroup said...

Nice rebuttal, Stuart, but you think humankind is wonderful and aliens do also, in your scenario.

However, when you travel, abroad or at home, do you make it a point to stop and visit with the area asylums?

Nah. You, and everyone else, pass by loony-bins because they offer nothing of value to the human condition or civilization.

An intelligent species would do the same when it comes to Earth,
unless UFO extraterrestrials are a psychiatric lot (which admittedly is a possibility).

No, Earth is a backwater, and a haven for creatures who would not attract an advanced, intelligent species -- a cultured species.


swiman said...

Stuart--Arguments of the type Reynolds and others employ (e.g., aliens couldn't get here from "there," they wouldn't be interested in us, they'd land on the Mall, not hover over some neighborhood house somewhere) are just dodges to avoid dealing with anomalous, troubling evidence. That evidence seems to indicate a nonhuman intelligence is interacting with humanity.

If one simply declares aliens wouldn't be interested in humans, there's no need to study sighting reports, of course. The mystery is solved from an armchair and psychoanalysis carries the day.--Rob Swiatek

RRRGroup said...

Reynolds never wrote and doesn't think that aliens can't get here from there.

His point is why would they want to?

Earth is a freckle on the Body of the Universe.

(See Teilhard de Chardin for more.)

If extraterrestrials are looking for creatures or planets worthy of their time and expenditures, Earth would be ignored, if spotted at all.


Stuart said...

Hi Rich,

Ah, c'mon, you're not equating planet Earth with a lunatic asylum, surely.

The way we conduct ourseleves Rich may depress you but you need to take a massive step back and look down on it all from far above. That way, you see the general picture and less of the detail.

If civilizations like ours are, as I commented, ten a penny, then what goes on here will have gone on or be going on dozens of times elsewhere. Our behaviour would not be deemed to be extraordinary in the least. It simply means we are at a particular stage of development and it doesn't condemn us outright as unworthy or morally evil.

However, if there are dozens of other civilizations and by chance our conduct is unique, then that would make us worthy of interest. And if there aren't lots of others, then again we'd be of interest simply because there aren't many of us.

If I may say, yours is a very negative and pessimistic outlook. I can't deny that much is simply awful but neither can one ignore the positive elements of the human spirit and the good thinsg that are done here as well.

I know it sounds like I'm going round in circles but I do firmly believe that this is an interesting place and someone would make an effort to check us out. I can't agree with you Rich.


Stuart said...

Hi Rob,

You said:

"That evidence seems to indicate a nonhuman intelligence is interacting with humanity."

I couldn't agree more. But you've phrased that very well in that you've not locked yourself into one zone.

It is more than possible that intelligent alien life is coming here, although not neccessarily. It could just be that there is something here on Earth, closer to us, that is playing with us.

However you look at this, you always come back to the same point; proof of something, whatever it is, is needed. Until then, we can only speculate.

But that there is a phenomenon of some sort is without question.

RRRGroup said...

Well, Stuart, I'll give you that Earth produced Beethoven and Michelangelo, and a slew of other creative geniuses, and civilization here has some edifying attributes but as I posted elsewhere, UFOs and their contained entities -- if reports about them are correct -- don't seem fraight with esthetic elements such as music or art.

Abduction accounts -- let's assume they are accurate -- indicate that UFO entities are cold and forbidding, lacking humane aspects.

And aside from the Socorro insignia and a few other markings seen on saucers, which I think are Earth-created, there is no evidence that artistic renderings are part and parcel of the UFO fleets that have shown up here.

All that aside, extraterrestrials are fondling humanity for reasons other than exploratory, archeologic, or scientific reasons....if UFO accounts are accurate.

So what would bring UFOs here, to this backwater, if they could even ferret out our atmosphere, or cultural artifacts, or oxygen, or gold, whatever?

If extraterrestrials are attracted to Earth -- not for its art or culture -- what are they obsessed with?

A recent article in Discover magazine about exoplanets indicates there are many, some able to harbor life.

Is Earth life so much more fascinating than that on other planets, in other galaxies, in the whole Universe?

It just doesn't make sense, to me, that UFOs keep coming here or have maintained a long-term fleet, to examine this puddle when there are possibly so many other places with more invigorating life-forms or geographies.

But, hey, lots of people, besides you, Stuart, see the Earth as a repository of wonders and exciting existence, while I see a menage of crazy, tribal creatures who prefer warfare and strife to things refined and glorifying humankind.


swiman said...

Howdy, Stuart--

I've come to the somewhat depressing conclusion that the reality behind the UFO phenomenon is probably not only weird, but weirder than we can imagine (my apologies to J. B. S. Haldane here). However, am I basing a conclusion upon speculation? That would be silly!--Rob Swiatek

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