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.