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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
The truth is out there . . . —Really? Is it? 
Saturday, September 12th, 2009 | 10:47 pm [random, science, writer's block]
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LiveJournal, the company that is kind enough to host this blog in exchange for the money I pay them every year, has this feature called “Writer’s Block,” where they prompt a blog entry by asking a question. I normally ignore them, because I have plenty to say all by myself, and also self-respect. But tonight they had one even I couldn’t ignore:


If someone discusses UFOs at a party, do you assume they're a visionary or bonkers? Do you consider yourself a believer or a skeptic?


I assume they’re bonkers. Obviously. I get the sense I’m about to sound like a huge condescending asshole, but after so long it just comes naturally, so here goes: There is no other reasonable answer to the question. If I hear someone at a party, or at school, or in the United States House of Representatives if we’re talking about Dennis Kucinich, claim to have seen — or even worse, to have been aboard — an alien spacecraft, I assume that they’re either mentally disturbed, or a liar. And I have very good reasons for this assumption.

 

Despite the thousands of personal testimonies in the last fifty or so years from people claiming to have seen alien spacecraft, or been abducted and molested by extraterrestrials, there is not a single piece of evidence to support any of the claims. There are lots of stories, and lots of rationalizations from people who claim to have very good reasons why there is a complete and utter lack of hard evidence of alien visitations. There are many gullible people who believe such stories. But there is no reason for a reasonable, rational, open-minded person to believe any of it.

 

So let’s look at the odds. Given the complete lack of evidence, which is necessary to demonstrate the truth of the claims, what is more likely: that alien beings from probably at least a few dozen light-years away (at the closest) have visited the Earth with alarming frequency over the last half-century, abducting humans at will and performing all sorts of fucked=up bizarre experiments on them, leaving behind not a trace of solid evidence; or that the people claiming to have had alien encounters are — for whatever reason — not telling the truth? I know which one I find easier to swallow.

 

It’s not that I don’t believe it’s possible for aliens to visit the Earth. The universe is so unimaginably vast, and there are so many stars with planetary companions even in this neighborhood of our galaxy that it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think there is probably life, even intelligent life, somewhere else. We evolved naturally to a state of intelligence. Why couldn’t it happen elsewhere? Why not a lot of elsewheres? But believing extraterrestrial life is possible and believing, against all reason, that it has visited the Earth in flying saucers are two different things. One is a reasonable belief, given the present state of our knowledge, and the other isn’t. Period.

Comments 
Sunday, September 13th, 2009 | 02:44 pm (UTC)
I assume that by UFO, we are by default assuming we mean alien spacecraft, rather than the more general "Any object in the sky whose identity can't be determined" that the phrase UFO was initially intended to mean, correct? Because if we mean the latter, I'm all for it. I even have a relative who saw several bright stationary objects over a highway he was driving down at night. They were utterly silent, and not very high off the road--he saw them in the rear-view mirror after passing under them, and to this day he has no clue what they were. UFO? Yes. Alien craft? Highly unlikely.

What's more fun is letting someone go on about how loony belief in aliens is, and then asking them about angels and seeing them try to shift gears so fast they pop the clutch.
Sunday, September 13th, 2009 | 06:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, good point. By "UFO" I am presuming the person in question means "aliens." There are UFOs from time to time. There's just no evidence that they're alien spacecraft.

I love the comparison between UFO believers and religious types. People who see spaceships are nuts, but people who believe their child survived that horrible bus crash because an invisible angel was there to protect him while every other kid on the same bus was killed — well, that's just completely different.
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