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Thread: U.F.O's...What would amount to Proof....

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    U.F.O's...What would amount to Proof....

    ...too you?
    Just curious.

    I'm talking about the conventional concept of UFOs such a close-up generic discription of an airborne structured craft that exhibits intelligent control far beyond our present technology. Apparently from the long sorted history of the topic it will take a really Big event to sway some minds. Perhaps anything short of a joint announcement from the top world leaders would not be enough? We know by now that pictures can be faked, eyewitness accounts can be an illusion, radar contacts can be false echoes, landing marks can be hoaxed, etc. etc on down the list which does nothing to resolve the issue and understandably so due to the heavy burden of proof that is required for such an incredible claim.
    So then, what's your threshold of proof for the existence of UFOs? Thanks for your insights.
    Last edited by Spacedude; 2013-Jul-25 at 02:11 PM. Reason: spelling error

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    I would say a landing, where they touched down and got out and did a press release, would be pretty convincing. A landing at UN headquarters, with an open meeting with Mr. Ban, would also be pretty good.
    As above, so below

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    Regarding the possibility of faking, if major outlets like the NYT and Financial Times and WSJ did interviews and ran the story, I'd likely be convinced.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Regarding the possibility of faking, if major outlets like the NYT and Financial Times and WSJ did interviews and ran the story, I'd likely be convinced.
    I wouldn't, but It would depend on who they interviewed and how much they revealed. Even the major outlets fall to the appeal to authority fallacy.

    If several independent science organizations were able to study the evidence and be certain that it's not of our own technology, then I could accept it.

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    I think I would remain skeptical even as President Obama and ET discussed (on world wide TV) the accommodations for a million ET arriving at Earth next week. I am however open minded on this and related topics, so I might offer to put up an ET family in my home. Having the ET family as guests in my home would be a fairly good test of the hypothesis that they are really ET. For some strange reason my wife does not think I should make that offer. Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2013-Jul-25 at 04:26 PM. Reason: added last 2 sentences

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    The stereotypical Landing On The White House Lawn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilzero View Post
    I think I would remain skeptical even as President Obama and ET discussed (on world wide TV) the accommodations for a million ET arriving at Earth next week.
    What if they were doing it over a beer?

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    To believe in a UFO, all I would need to see is some wild eyed true believers, sketchy burn marks on the ground and some dicey photoshop work. Personally, I have seen two. One was later revealed to be an asteroid bouncing off of he atmosphere and the second ball lightning.

    If you meant actual alien contact, I would settle for an intelligent signal, decoded or not, from an impossible location such as another star. It would have to be sustained and recordable over a long period of time. A press conference followed by speculation and jokes by Jay Leno would be pretty good too. (I actually, I would prefer Ellen, but Jay is more well known.)
    Solfe

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    I'm not sure about proof, but I would sit up and take notice if someone showed ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that aliens were visiting Earth.

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    What would amount to proof to me?

    The same thing that amounts to proof of Japan. I have never seen Japan. Why do I accept that it exists? Because there is an extensive body of evidence that is well-established, generally-accepted, and that extends over a long period of time. Additionally, there is a constant stream of artifacts, including people, language, and a diverse assortment of objects, for the origin of which the most plausible explanation--as well as the most commonly accepted explanation--is that Japan exists substantially as claimed.

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    Proof for me would have to have the physical finality of pulling Amelia Earhart's battered Lockheed out of the lagoon. In other words objects that can be scientifically and forensically measured, weighed, examined and understood. Otherwise, it's just going to be another 60 years of breathless witnesses, government conspiracy theories, ghost stories about abductions and shadowy, grainy footage set to spooky X-files music, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    ...too you? Just curious.
    "Proof of UFOs" is too loaded a term, especially in the highly amphibolistic way UFO enthusiasts use the term.

    If you want to know what I would consider proof that what people have said they've seen in the sky or on the ground are spaceships piloted by non-human occupants, then I think we have something to go on. When people say "UFOs are real!" or "proof of UFOs," too often they're talking about the observation. Proof that the observation actually occurred or wasn't a hoax or imagination is often considered tantamount to proving whatever some claimant wants to say about it. Of course some of those sightings are likely to be real objects or phenomena. A UFO may be real, but a real what? That's the interesting question.

    The prosaic landing on the White House lawn would obviously be over-the-top proof. But would a lesser standard of proof suffice? Not really, because it is an extraordinary claim.

    A joint announcement by world leaders sort of plays into the notion among UFO enthusiasts that there is already knowledge hidden away regarding the alleged nature of UFOs. A significant component of ufology is the call for "disclosure" among these leaders, and the inecessant complaining when better evidence is "withheld" from them. If you start any investigation with the presumption that the government is hiding aliens away at Area 51 or somewhere, you've pretty much failed at that point. In more practical terms, a joint announcement would likely just be a load of hearsay. The fact that they're world leaders doesn't give them all accurate knowledge that they can testify to. Again, this plays into the ufological notion (i.e., that they share with all pseudoscientists) of trust constructs. The question in that regime is not, "What do you know?" but "Whom do you trust?" Again, not the best way to investigate.

    No matter of well-intentioned testimony substitutes for physical evidence that can be tested in reasonably dispassionate ways. I realize that pieces of "crashed spaceships" can be faked, as you've pointed out above. But some sort of testable material would be crucial evidence. DNA, tissue, bones. Spacecraft parts, fuel, residues. If we take for the sake of argument that an alien arriving on Earth will have done so by means of extraordinary technology, then we can legitimately expect to see something very, very extraordinary.

    However most of those proof proposals have the nagging problem of falsifiability, in the scientific sense. Let's say I travel back in time to the 1700s and I take with me a can of this hydrophobic spray everyone's talking about. Surely the scientists of the 1700s would be able to evaluate the apparatus and material, observe its extraordinary properties, and confirm that nothing in their expertise explains it. And they might pronounce it the work of aliens. "Well no," I could say. "It's made by humans, but just not humans of this era." And that exposes the crux of the explanatory fallacy, which is that there's no way to falsify either the alien or the time-traveler hypothesis.

    Similarly we look at the criteria of "an airborne structured craft." Well, if you want me to believe people are seeing craft, then show me the craft itself. Pictures allegedly of the craft do not prove a craft exists as described or surmised. Eyewitness attestations do not prove a craft exists as surmised. Let us witness it flying at close range, so that we cannot mistake its identification. Let us witness it take off, land, and so forth. I was a witness to the Salt Lake City UFO a few years ago. That was an actual object actually flying. It was an oversized model blimp that a nearby city was developing for aerial surveillance. It got away from its handlers. It was a real object, made by men, behaving unexpectedly in the air. But because I could observe it from only a hundred feet or so away, for a long period of time, in the company of other people, I was able to identify it at last. That's the kind of experience we'd need with an allegedly extraterrestrial spacecraft.

    Similarly propositions such as "intelligent control far beyond our technology" is fraught with subjective judgment and insufficiency. I have seen innumerable attempts to define "intelligent control" or "behavior beyond normal limits" in the effort to place some desired observation beyond these realms. Useful definitions are elusive, precisely because they are so ruthlessly subjective. In fact it's essentially fruitless to try to elenchate all the "normal" behaviors without exception, so that departure from that can be reliable classified as "abnormal." Yet this is the basis of ufology. Because these criteria boil down to, "I know it when I see it," there's little use for them in a proof that convinces me.

    I take visitors out to the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, near where the space shuttle boosters were made. We stand on the tar flats and look out over the vast expanse of lakeshore and distant mountains. Eventually an extraordinary sighting occurs: a flying patch of white seen against the mountainside, which just as suddenly wheels sharply and vanishes. It's in the distance, so it's not easy to judge exactly how far away it is. But seen against the mountainside it appears very large. And the way this large object rapidly changes direction silently seems to defy all explanation. Of course it's a flock of California seagulls, our state bird. Google a picture of one; they're bright white on one side and dark mottled gray on the other. When they fly in flocks and present the mottled side to you, they are invisible against the mountainside. When they turn, you suddenly see all their white sides simultaneously, and the effect is beautiful and striking. Of course it's not one object, but an aggregate of small, aerodynamically nimble birds. Yet when people say, "Of course I know what seagulls look like," I can always surprise them. The lesson to learn here is that the attempt to classify and definitively state all "normal" behavior is doomed to failure. Hence you can never truly falsify all prosaic causes by saying, "It can't be a seagull because seagulls canonically look like this." No UFO claimant seems enthused by the notion that things we can't immediately identify may be ordinary things perceived in an extraordinary way. 99 times out of a hundred you see the seagull as the canonical seagull. But just because that 100th time is different doesn't mean the whole world is higgledy-piggledy and we have to leap to the most extraordinary alternative. It is simply more likely to be a normal thing perceived abnormally, than to be a wholly new and extraordinary thing.

    But fundamentally these lines of reasoning all run afoul of falsifiability and some very simple errors. Ufology tries to put the burden of proof on skeptics to show that each and every sighting has a determined prosaic cause. Or stated another way, ufologists attack the belief that something is most likely to have a mundane cause even if it can't be proven to be mundane. This is a subtle shift of the burden of proof. It says, "I will believe this sighting is explained by aliens unless you can show me the precise prosaic cause." It assumes the desired conclusion by default, when some other conclusion fails. Remember the aliens-versus-time-traveler dilemma. How can you prove that one fantastic proposition is the real cause and not some other fantastic proposition? If neither has any affirmative proof, you can't.

    Most ufologists these days don't go the full monty. They'll just say that, absent a clear prosaic explanation, the sighting "must" be extraordinary in some way, and the class of such sightings must be given more attention because of it. That's a uselessly broad category of explanation. It doesn't explain anything. Hence the double standard in ufology. Prosaic explanations need explicitly affirmed falsifications, while alien hypotheses are hopelessly open-ended. "It flew away at 10,000 miles an hour!" "Oh really, was there a sonic boom?" "No, but the aliens probably have a way to avoid that." That's how the open-endedness of the ET hypothesis basically makes the claims all non-rational. Presuming an alien exists, he will have certain properties. If they exist, they don't exist as a deus ex machina conglomerate of all the speculative properties that explain some sighting.

    The most important question a UFO proponent can ask himself is how he knows it isn't an alien, if he doesn't have an affirmative case from some competing prosaic cause. Most unpredisposed people will reject a specific ET hypothesis held by default. "Well you can't explain it, therefore aliens." That argument of the form "You can't explain it, therefore ____" fails for all values of _____, simply because no absence of evidence for something affirmatively proves a specific something else. So none of these indirect arguments suffices.

    If you want me to believe that people are seeing intelligently controlled vehicles that aren't from Earth, then show me the vehicle, its occupants, and its performance, and show that all the visual characteristics of this proposed cause match the sightnings. Otherwise speculatively atttibuting properties ad hoc to a speculated cause is uselessly circular.

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    Well put Jay. Well I would like to touch one.

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    It's been a while sinc I saw a word in English I've never read before: To elenchate. dicttcc turns up empty, raw googleing gives one English provenance: As a hapax legomenon in Finnegan's Wake.

    Could anyone embiggen my knowledge on the cromulence of that word, please?

    And, Jay Utah - many thanks for that beautiful little essay. I'll point anyone with Provemewrong syndrome to this link.

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    The problems of a full landing at the UN has already been thought about.

    Outer Limits "Architects of Fear" (1963) full episode here...

    The scientists in the story were going to fake it to prevent nuclear war, so they felt faking it was justified.

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    If an actual visitation was to take place, I believe "proof" would be obvious to all.
    I cannot for the life of me, see any potential Alien/UFO make a landing in some isolated corner of Earth, to some isolated human being for any reason.

    It goes without saying that any UFO visiting Earth, would be the product of a highly advanced civilisation.
    As such I believe any Alien visitation to Earth would have scanned our planet and recognise that it had life culminating in humanity at the top wrung of that ladder.
    I would thus envisage the craft and occupants to go into Earth orbit and try and make contact with humanity, informing them of an impending landing and asking for advice as to where and when.
    If actual mutual conversation was not possible, I would envisage the Aliens to make known as clear as possible that they had peaceful intents and probably stay in Earth orbit for a week or so, so as that peaceful intent would be conveyed as clear as possible to all Earthlings.

    Then a gradual approach to a landing would be made, with all governments aware of impending contact...no hiding the fact...no conspiracy....no nothing other then a well publicised momentous "first contact".

    The only dangers I see at all would be from some bombastic militaristic ratbag from some military corp on Earth having an itchy trigger finger, and do something tremendously stupid and aggressive towards our Alien friends.

    Why would they be friendly???
    Because I also believe any Alien advanced enough for interstellar travel, would have long since thrown off the shackles of aggressive militaristic endeavours.
    We are ourselves slowly heading that way, but still have a long way to go.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
    ― Carl Sagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAFriend View Post
    The problems of a full landing at the UN has already been thought about.

    Outer Limits "Architects of Fear" (1963) full episode here...

    The scientists in the story were going to fake it to prevent nuclear war, so they felt faking it was justified.


    Bugger!
    Unavailable in Australia.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
    ― Carl Sagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arneb View Post
    It's been a while sinc I saw a word in English I've never read before: To elenchate.
    "To make a list of..."

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    What if they were doing it over a beer?
    While I know you meant it humourously, I would personally see them imbibing Terran-brewed/fermented/distilled alcoholic beverages, despite the low likelihood of any ETs being able to metabolise any Earthly food stuffs, as indications of a hoax.

    In that vein, any alien just sitting in a studio doing interviews with Ellen/Oprah/Barbara/etcetcetc without a full-blown environmental suit of some kind as likely fake. However then we just have some ... "entity" sitting in some more or less opaque "spacesuit", which wouldn't help the verification.

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    JayUtah didn't leave me much to add. However I would like to admit that I would obviously be personally/subjectively convinced that UFOs are something paranormal with much less evidence if I experienced something I would be inclined to interpret as a paranormal UFO encounter. The same would apply to other paranormal and supernatural entities/events obviously. Lacking that, a fair amount of hard evidence verified by suitably reputable and independent sources would indeed be required.
    The dog, the dog, he's at it again!

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    Thank you all very much for your thoughtful replies, particularly JayUtah. Perhaps I failed in my attempt to ask this question in an even handed manner? I tried to make it as straight forward as possible within the confines of a ufo as described. If the word "evidence" is preferred over "proof" then that's ok with me as I was not trying to post a loaded question, be suggestive, nor lead the witness. I'd be interested in how my question could be precisely re-worded to satisfy Jay's requirements so as to be completely clean of any precieved bias or suggestiveness.

    For those with a sense of humor on the topic, thanks too for the lighthearted comments. I'll just add to AtomicDog's comment that If a ufo does land on the White House lawn I suggest that the occupants avoid April 1st and Oct 31st or they could easily blow it.

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    Elench is a remarkable word; I'm only familiar with it in the works of Iain M. Banks, who had a fabulously large vocabulary. The Zetetic Elench were a faction associated with the Culture who liked to investigate mysterious things and presumably to make lists of what they discovered; unidentified flying objects would have been right up their street.

    This raises a point that I think is relevant to the whole concept of UFOs; even in the advanced civilisation of the Culture, Banks imagined a group dedicated to investigating weird phenomena. There will always be weird phenomena, there will always be UFOs, no matter how sensitive our sensors get, no matter how many alien races we contact. There will always be unidentifiable smudges on the edges of resolution, things that we cant identify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    For those with a sense of humor on the topic, thanks too for the lighthearted comments. I'll just add to AtomicDog's comment that If a ufo does land on the White House lawn I suggest that the occupants avoid April 1st and Oct 31st or they could easily blow it.
    A while ago on another thread, somebody said that if he were an alien conqueror, he would invade Earth on April 1st, because nobody would believe it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASTRO BOY View Post
    If an actual visitation was to take place, I believe "proof" would be obvious to all.
    I cannot for the life of me, see any potential Alien/UFO make a landing in some isolated corner of Earth, to some isolated human being for any reason.

    It goes without saying that any UFO visiting Earth, would be the product of a highly advanced civilisation.
    As such I believe any Alien visitation to Earth would have scanned our planet and recognise that it had life culminating in humanity at the top wrung of that ladder.
    I would thus envisage the craft and occupants to go into Earth orbit and try and make contact with humanity, informing them of an impending landing and asking for advice as to where and when.
    If actual mutual conversation was not possible, I would envisage the Aliens to make known as clear as possible that they had peaceful intents and probably stay in Earth orbit for a week or so, so as that peaceful intent would be conveyed as clear as possible to all Earthlings.

    Then a gradual approach to a landing would be made, with all governments aware of impending contact...no hiding the fact...no conspiracy....no nothing other then a well publicised momentous "first contact".

    The only dangers I see at all would be from some bombastic militaristic ratbag from some military corp on Earth having an itchy trigger finger, and do something tremendously stupid and aggressive towards our Alien friends.

    Why would they be friendly???
    Because I also believe any Alien advanced enough for interstellar travel, would have long since thrown off the shackles of aggressive militaristic endeavours.
    We are ourselves slowly heading that way, but still have a long way to go.
    like releasing a dove?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
    The prosaic landing on the White House lawn would obviously be over-the-top proof. But would a lesser standard of proof suffice? Not really, because it is an extraordinary claim.
    What if they made a different geopolitical interpretation and landed in Tienanmen square instead?
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    A while ago on another thread, somebody said that if he were an alien conqueror, he would invade Earth on April 1st, because nobody would believe it.
    A quick glance at Wikipedia told me that, as I suspected, April Fool's Day is by far a mostly Western phenomenon - and even there not ubiquitous. Similar "prank days" fall on all sorts of dates in other cultures/countries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marakai View Post
    A quick glance at Wikipedia told me that, as I suspected, April Fool's Day is by far a mostly Western phenomenon - and even there not ubiquitous. Similar "prank days" fall on all sorts of dates in other cultures/countries.
    I think the assumption generally is that they will speak Inglish, with an appropriately sophisticated RP accent, and that they will land in DC most likely on July 4. But it would be interesting to see them land in the land of the Yamomami and assume their language is the universal tongue!
    As above, so below

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    Not just UFOs, but many observations of many kinds are subject to unreasonable doubt. That is how it should work as each scenario of unreasonable doubt needs to be approached with unbiased logic. Very rarely, improbable chains of events cause surprising results, and there is a slight possibility that the wrong identification will prove a disaster. If ET are among us, or will be soon, logically they will learn our usual behavior and details of our planet before making a planned public appearance. Details do matter. If they are more advanced than humans, they can likely deceive nearly all of the human shakers and movers, and the rest of us are unlikely to seriously hinder their objectives.
    I will continue to have a degree of multiple doubt on almost every subject. Neil
    Last edited by neilzero; 2013-Jul-29 at 01:05 PM. Reason: added last sentence

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    LOTS of phone camera photos and videos from many different sources would make me happy.

    Seen any meteors flying over Russia lately?

    Regards, John M.
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isn’t a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marakai View Post
    A quick glance at Wikipedia told me that, as I suspected, April Fool's Day is by far a mostly Western phenomenon - and even there not ubiquitous. Similar "prank days" fall on all sorts of dates in other cultures/countries.
    I'm pretty sure the guy who made the comment was just joking.

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