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pvicente
2010-Oct-31, 02:47 PM
When a thread about UFOs shows up some people will argue that they must be something mysterious (often implied to be alien spaceships) that is suppressed by a sinister government conspiracy. And when someone points out that stories may not be reliable they will answer with something like "So, you think all those witnesses are mistaken or lying?", hinting that there is something wrong with that idea?

The question I want to ask in this thread is, why? Why can't they be "mistaken or lying"? People aren't perfect, they can't identify everything they see or remember things perfectly, they will make deductions, fill gaps in their memories, every story they tell will have something added from their thoughts and opinions. And people will "spice up" their tales too, it's something that happens, the ship gets a little bigger all the time.

So you have a lot of people going around and looking at the sky, sometimes they can tell what causes whatever they saw up there, sometimes they can't, why can't those times be the product of mistakes? Must every person be able to identify everything they come across?

And a bonus question, why alien spaceships? Seriously, if you're going too believe that something mysterious is behind things what makes aliens more likely than a secret underground civilization of hyper-advanced hedgehogs?

Strange
2010-Oct-31, 03:17 PM
Also, if some people say they saw something but others say there was nothing there then the latter are usually just ignored. Why is that? Is it because they might be mistaken or lying?

Nowhere Man
2010-Oct-31, 03:37 PM
Why alien spaceships? I think it's because it's more exciting and romantic than saying "I don't know." Especially to a fantasy-prone personality.

Anyone can be mistaken. But to say something when you know the opposite is true -- that's lying. I'd say that the vast majority of UFOs-are-alien-ships proponents are in the mistaken camp, leavened with a good admixture of fantastic imagination. The rest -- particularly the bookmongers and those who make a living off the majority -- are probably in the 'liar' camp.

Books could be written on this subject. In fact, they have. (http://www.amazon.com/People-Believe-Weird-Things-Pseudoscience/dp/0805070893/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288539396&sr=8-1)

Fred

MaDeR
2010-Oct-31, 10:06 PM
Why? Wishful thinking.

Strange
2010-Oct-31, 11:10 PM
Why? Wishful thinking.

I'm not sure. I wish we lived in the world of SF books: spaceports, bars full of strange aliens, etc. But that doesn't make me think every unidentified light must be ET.

Skyfire
2010-Oct-31, 11:12 PM
I'd say that the vast majority of UFOs-are-alien-ships proponents are in the mistaken camp, leavened with a good admixture of fantastic imagination.

That's what always gets me about press reporting - a UFO in 'press-speak' means an alien ship, or at least the possibility of one.

When you ask any of these people what 'UFO' means - or U.F.O. - often they seem to immediately refer to alien ship. Point out to them that U.F.O. stands for UNIDENTIFIED flying object, they still don't seem to grasp the unidentified bit ... 'oh, it MUST be an alien ship'.

.... now where's that brick wall ....

(note to self: try writing 'UFO's for dummies' ... there may be some money in it ...)

Garrison
2010-Oct-31, 11:41 PM
I'm not sure. I wish we lived in the world of SF books: spaceports, bars full of strange aliens, etc. But that doesn't make me think every unidentified light must be ET.

Well that's just the highlights. The lowlights include being enslaved by invaders, killed in a hundred different ways in space battles, or you know just winding up on the dinner menu. :)

JustAFriend
2010-Nov-01, 01:28 AM
People dont want everyday and boring.

If everyone took a few minutes a day to see that Venus and Jupiter are up in the sky all the time they wouldn't be screaming "UFO!"

Most ufo video posters can't even tell when they're a couple of miles from the city airport's approach lane.

Kinda the same way they go ballistic over fool's gold in a stream....

captain swoop
2010-Nov-01, 09:52 AM
Well that's just the highlights. The lowlights include being enslaved by invaders, killed in a hundred different ways in space battles, or you know just winding up on the dinner menu. :)

No, the lowlight is ending up right where you are, living the same life while others get to go out there.

MaDeR
2010-Nov-01, 04:05 PM
I'm not sure. I wish we lived in the world of SF books: spaceports, bars full of strange aliens, etc. But that doesn't make me think every unidentified light must be ET.
This is not wishful thinking. And anyway I did not claim this is only reason - just that it is most important and prevalent reason to UFO believers.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Nov-01, 08:54 PM
I suspect part of it is a yearning for life to be made of interesting stories than make, at least narratively, sense. Unknown/unidentified doesn't fit well in that.
Also, the unknown is scary. Give it a name, even the wrong name, and it's less scary.

Not everyone knows the fairytale truth that trying to use the wrong name for something normally ends up really badly, as it offers no protection at all.

Donnie B.
2010-Nov-02, 11:30 PM
And when someone points out that stories may not be reliable they will answer with something like "So, you think all those witnesses are mistaken or lying?"

This sort of question strikes me as a kind of rhetorical trick. It's not an honest question to seek information.

If we answer "Well, no, I suppose not," our position is weakened. We've opened the door to the possibility that the witnesses may not be either mistaken or lying.

If we insist that "Yes, they are", we come off as closed-minded and inflexible, and there's also a different connotation. In effect, the question can be restated as "Are you calling Ecks a liar?" Answering yes to that is an aggressive stance that can be off-putting to a third party.

Remember, the UFO believer isn't usually focused on establishing truth, but in winning the argument. Making the opposition look bad in any way is a win, and this kind of question creates a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation.

danscope
2010-Nov-03, 12:12 AM
"This just in .......' Man Bites Dog !!! ' " . Result..... $$$$$$$

slang
2010-Nov-03, 12:37 AM
This sort of question strikes me as a kind of rhetorical trick. It's not an honest question to seek information..

It's the trick of attacking the straw man, in the hope of directing attention away from the ignored crops, usually the pertinent questions. And why? Because it's easier to invent something to reply to than to answer the actual difficult questions, with the severe risk of being shown to be wrong or ignorant.

Fooglmog
2010-Nov-03, 07:36 AM
Not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed that everyone here has addressed the duller of the questions posed in the original post. I haven't been on this forum for very long, but I've already seen the question of "why do people believe UFOs are something mysterious?" addressed a bunch of times. There's plenty of psychological research attesting to various phenomena that could account for this... but I see no new perspectives on this question in this thread which make it worth discussing again.

The more interesting question, at least to me, is this one:

And a bonus question, why alien spaceships? Seriously, if you're going too believe that something mysterious is behind things what makes aliens more likely than a secret underground civilization of hyper-advanced hedgehogs?
I haven't seen this addressed before... why is it that aliens are accepted as the default explanation rather than something else? Why is that mythos plausible to our society?

Strange
2010-Nov-03, 10:14 AM
Not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed that everyone here has addressed the duller of the questions posed in the original post. I haven't been on this forum for very long, but I've already seen the question of "why do people believe UFOs are something mysterious?" addressed a bunch of times. There's plenty of psychological research attesting to various phenomena that could account for this... but I see no new perspectives on this question in this thread which make it worth discussing again.

You may be right; it is just people venting their frustration again!


I haven't seen this addressed before... why is it that aliens are accepted as the default explanation rather than something else? Why is that mythos plausible to our society?

This has been touched on occasionally before. Mainly the fact that historical accounts of "unknown things" are very culture dependent. They may be described as angels, demons, dragons, etc depening on when and where they are seen.

Ours is a technological society with science fiction stories of space travel and alien species (and of course the myths and the fiction feed off each other). So this becomes the main default assumption.

But not the only one. There are plenty who consider UFOs some sort of metaphysical phenomenon - they may use the historical interpretations as evidence in support of this.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Nov-03, 10:38 AM
The more interesting question, at least to me, is this one:

I haven't seen this addressed before... why is it that aliens are accepted as the default explanation rather than something else? Why is that mythos plausible to our society?
Centuries ago it was elves and fairies and the other things that go bump in the night and steals away people for temporary fun.

It's real experiences filtered heavily through cultural expectations, so my answer would be that it's because science fiction is currently more popular than fairy tales.

Spoons
2010-Nov-03, 11:03 AM
I remember back when I had a job that left me a great deal of spare time I used to look around for any wacky, weird and wonderful stories on the net I could find.

I remember when I read claims that one or more native peoples from the Americas (the Hopi Indians were maybe one of them) who believed in beings that lived in underground caverns and flew up above ground, accounting for a number of unknowns. I found that to be a much more interesting supernatural "fetish". I think in some variations they were still aliens, but were using the underground to hide out.

If there's an interesting or wild idea somebody's already been pushing that belief out there somewhere. But the less details you need to explain the easier they are to spread, I guess. And space creatures is more exotic as opposed to "they're living below us" which seems more creepy and scary. Plus then we wouldn't be number one on our planet.

pvicente
2010-Nov-06, 01:07 PM
This sort of question strikes me as a kind of rhetorical trick. It's not an honest question to seek information.

If we answer "Well, no, I suppose not," our position is weakened. We've opened the door to the possibility that the witnesses may not be either mistaken or lying.

If we insist that "Yes, they are", we come off as closed-minded and inflexible, and there's also a different connotation. In effect, the question can be restated as "Are you calling Ecks a liar?" Answering yes to that is an aggressive stance that can be off-putting to a third party.

Remember, the UFO believer isn't usually focused on establishing truth, but in winning the argument. Making the opposition look bad in any way is a win, and this kind of question creates a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation.

If somebody ask me that my answer would be "Yes, people aren't perfect, they make plenty of mistakes and spice up their tales sometimes.", there is no shame in making a mistake while trying to guess what caused something you saw in the sky, especially if it's at night or something far away, add to that the fact that memories can be unreliable and other clues hard to find and I think that it's remarkable that we manage to explain part of the events at all.

Thanks for the answers everyone, I was hoping that the topic would attract the "believer" side as well but it looks like they won't be coming, that's a shame, even if the debate can get a little snippy sometimes it would be a good chance for them to show the reasoning and the logic behind their ideas on this point.

Luckmeister
2010-Nov-06, 05:27 PM
Thanks for the answers everyone, I was hoping that the topic would attract the "believer" side as well but it looks like they won't be coming, that's a shame, even if the debate can get a little snippy sometimes it would be a good chance for them to show the reasoning and the logic behind their ideas on this point.

(bolds mine)

....and now we know why they haven't responded.

vonmazur
2010-Nov-07, 02:16 AM
Maybe I am older and crabbier, but in the old days, before the Net...such things were regarded as "Nutty", now there seems to be a large number of persons who will believe almost anything, and what is worse, they resort to "argumentum ad hominum" when they run out of replies, or cannot answer simple questions.

It used to be that this sort of behavior was found in primary schoolyards, now they cannot be bothered to go outside and do it, they just sit at a console and attack anyone who disagrees with whatever they are believing at the moment....

Dale

Gillianren
2010-Nov-07, 03:39 AM
There have always been outlets where people would believe anything.

vonmazur
2010-Nov-07, 03:59 AM
Gillian, True, but in the olden times, they just put out badly memeographed newletters.(I wish I had saved some of them!)...Now they have software to make their work look good...

Dale

Gillianren
2010-Nov-07, 05:23 AM
That still doesn't mean there are more crazies or even that more people believe them.

Spoons
2010-Nov-07, 06:41 AM
No, but it does mean that all these wacky beliefs are more accessible and attractive for the crazies to latch onto and obsess about.

Normandy
2010-Nov-07, 06:52 AM
When a thread about UFOs shows up some people will argue that they must be something mysterious (often implied to be alien spaceships) that is suppressed by a sinister government conspiracy. And when someone points out that stories may not be reliable they will answer with something like "So, you think all those witnesses are mistaken or lying?", hinting that there is something wrong with that idea?

The question I want to ask in this thread is, why? Why can't they be "mistaken or lying"? People aren't perfect, they can't identify everything they see or remember things perfectly, they will make deductions, fill gaps in their memories, every story they tell will have something added from their thoughts and opinions. And people will "spice up" their tales too, it's something that happens, the ship gets a little bigger all the time.

So you have a lot of people going around and looking at the sky, sometimes they can tell what causes whatever they saw up there, sometimes they can't, why can't those times be the product of mistakes? Must every person be able to identify everything they come across?

And a bonus question, why alien spaceships? Seriously, if you're going too believe that something mysterious is behind things what makes aliens more likely than a secret underground civilization of hyper-advanced hedgehogs?

Yes, they are lying. It is simple as that and don't be afraid to say it.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Nov-07, 12:40 PM
And the Internet has given a voice and sense of community to those who would otherwise be ranting unheard. I think the situation is worsened by the "every opinion is equal in value" and "give balance" nonsense that currently prevail.

Garrison
2010-Nov-07, 12:59 PM
And the Internet has given a voice and sense of community to those who would otherwise be ranting unheard. I think the situation is worsened by the "every opinion is equal in value" and "give balance" nonsense that currently prevail.

The net can also create the impression that there are multiple sources saying the same thing when they are all simply recirculating the same press release or rumour.

plant
2010-Nov-07, 02:23 PM
We know that about 1% of everyone is schizophrenic. A few more % are probably heading that way, but won't get a psychotic episode until they start smoking dope etc. Conspiracy theories, paranoia, grandiosity, ideas of reference .... just read the ATM posts. In times gone by they would have been prophets, saints, messiahs.

Gillianren
2010-Nov-07, 05:45 PM
We know that about 1% of everyone is schizophrenic.

Yes.


A few more % are probably heading that way, but won't get a psychotic episode until they start smoking dope etc.

Oh, dear, no. No, no, no. "Smoking dope" has never been known to trigger a psychotic episode that I am aware of, and there is a difference between psychotic episodes and true schizophrenia anyway. That percentage of schizophrenics in the population is a stable one; it does not increase in a statistically significant way. And while there is certainly such thing as a schizophrenia spectrum, by adulthood, it is exceedingly unlikely to just kind of wake up a ranting schizophrenic one day.


Conspiracy theories, paranoia, grandiosity, ideas of reference .... just read the ATM posts. In times gone by they would have been prophets, saints, messiahs.

Or burned at the stake as witches. (Or hanged, if you're in the United States.) Or driven from the community. (There are some prime examples there from New England.) There are also a fair few saints who were perfectly rational, not the visions of God types. Just people who did a lot of good works.

And while, yes, the internet gives a broader voice to the crazy, it also gives a broader voice to everyone else. It's just that any discussion of new technology's impact on society--and I don't just mean now--has the inevitable complaint about what's wrong with it. The printing press gave crazies a broader voice, too.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Nov-07, 06:44 PM
And while, yes, the internet gives a broader voice to the crazy, it also gives a broader voice to everyone else. It's just that any discussion of new technology's impact on society--and I don't just mean now--has the inevitable complaint about what's wrong with it. The printing press gave crazies a broader voice, too.

I understand what you're saying, but in terms of sheer ease of access, nothing remotely compares to the Internet. In the early days of the printing press, the foaming-at-the-mouth types probably couldn't even read or write, let alone convince anyone to typeset their ravings.

As I see it, one of the unfortunate consequences of the democritisation of mass communication is that people tend to think that "for" and "against" arguments have roughly equal basis. We on BAUT know for a fact that this is sometimes (if not usually) untrue. For instance, we know that the moon hoax idea has no merit at all, whereas the official account is supported by an overwhelming amount of evidence. But what about things that are not so close to our hearts? And what about other people who think the moonlandings were hoaxed simply because they read it somewhere? Granted, the worst offender was the team that made the Fox "documentary", but I'm inclined to think it wouldn't have been made if the Internet had not created a climate of unreason.

Then again, it might have been the fault of The X-Files, which predated widespread Internet availability.

Gillianren
2010-Nov-07, 07:20 PM
There's always something before which contributed, is my experience. Anyway, Roger Ebert says we're important for fighting off the crazies. (Today. To me personally in the comments of his journal.) Men did land on the Moon, and for every crazy out there saying we didn't, there is at least one of us.

Don J
2010-Nov-07, 07:23 PM
Why alien spaceships? I think it's because it's more exciting and romantic than saying "I don't know." Especially to a fantasy-prone personality.

Fred
Maybe the belief in extraterrestrials crafts came from Project Sign in 1948 formed by top brass army personnals and scientists charged to study the flying saucers reports and other strange flying objects (note they were not called UFOs at the time) that even their fighter pilots reported.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sign/sign.htm

Garrison
2010-Nov-07, 07:40 PM
Maybe the belief in extraterrestrials crafts came from Project Sign in 1948 formed by top brass army personnals and scientists charged to study the flying saucers reports and other strange flying objects (note they were not called UFOs at the time) that even their fighter pilots reported.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sign/sign.htm

And did this group come to the conclusion that any UFO sightings were alien spacecraft? Is it perhaps more likely that the belief comes from the cranks, hoaxers, and just plain misguided who inflate every light in the sky into alien visitors?

Don J
2010-Nov-07, 08:08 PM
And did this group come to the conclusion that any UFO sightings were alien spacecraft?
No.



Is it perhaps more likely that the belief comes from the cranks, hoaxers, and just plain misguided who inflate every light in the sky into alien visitors?

Right.

Strange
2010-Nov-07, 10:22 PM
In the early days of the printing press, the foaming-at-the-mouth types probably couldn't even read or write, let alone convince anyone to typeset their ravings.

I don't know. Many of the most fervent conspiracy theorists are very well educated.


As I see it, one of the unfortunate consequences of the democritisation of mass communication is that people tend to think that "for" and "against" arguments have roughly equal basis.

The other day, on the BBC they had a scientist talking about his research and for "balance" a rabid journalist who disagreed on principle. Great.

vonmazur
2010-Nov-08, 03:54 AM
That still doesn't mean there are more crazies or even that more people believe them.

Gillian: Not any more than before, just better coverage and their ranting and raving is presented in a better format than a newsletter...When the Nut Jobs don't have to do the printing and mailing, and compositing, their stuff looks "official"....I liked the old way better, it was more fun to decypher!!

Dale