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Are we being visited?

By regeya in Culture
Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:58:16 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Nothing seems to capture the attention of Western audiences quite as effectively as an alien sci-fi flick. However, one has to wonder if there is a reality underlying the fiction. I'm speaking of the alleged works of non-fiction of Whitley Streiber, among others, on the subject of alien abduction. Is it a real phenomenon? Or is it, as some have suggested, a projection of our own fears?


Alien abduction stories came to light during the 1950's, starting with the story of Betty and Barney Hill. Their story was unusual, but it was not to be the last of its kind. The general public has come to know the all-too-familiar story of gray-skinned aliens coming into the homes of unsuspecting victims to perform various tests on the victim. At one point, it was such a popular phenomenon in Western cultures that one could purchase all sorts of paraphernalia from T-Shirts to "smiley-face" stickers with the characteristic almond-shaped eyes. Several mass-media productions, from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to The X-Files have been inspired by the tales of countless abductees.

I'm not writing this to either credit or discredit the stories of alleged victims of these stories. It suffices for me to say that I believe that the lack of concrete evidence of the phenomenon does not constitute proof that the phenomenon isn't real. Nor does the lack of evidence prove the phenomenon is real. The existence of such phenomena is unknown at this point.

However, the stories of such phenomena are intriguing on many levels. If this really does happen, then for what purpose? I'm reminded of scientists radio-tagging species under study, but that's anthropomorphizing our views onto another potentially real species. Of what interest is Earth?

And of the validity of subjects' testimonies: can they be trusted? Reading transcripts of post-hypnotic regression sessions reveals potential problems with the methods used in retrieving so-called missing-time episodes. Often, a hypnotist will lead the subject through a potential series of events. That hypnotists are able to retrieve such strikingly similar testimonies from vast numbers of subjects, taken with the suspect methods, brings into question whether the testimony of an abductee can be believed. Add to that the popularity of series such as The X-Files (one hilarious episode explored the possibility of fabricated memories during post-hypnotic regression), and one has to wonder how many, if any, of the testimonies are valid.

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Poll
alien abduction: real?
o yes 12%
o no 58%
o unknown 29%

Votes: 186
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Whitley Streiber
o Also by regeya


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Are we being visited? | 110 comments (99 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
A book I always talk about deals with this... (3.92 / 14) (#2)
by theboz on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:11:40 PM EST

Read this book and then I will be happy to discuss it...basically I would talk about it now but Carl Sagan was much more eloquent and throrough in his explanation and view of the matter than I could ever hope to be.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345409469/o/qid=979416271/sr=8-1/ref=aps_sr_b_1_1/107-4972997-4951707

In a nutshell, alien abudctions are false. There is as much evidence of aliens are there are the tooth fairy. The real problem is that people prefer to believe in lies than they do truth, because it makes them more comfortable.

Why is it people still believe in crop circles as a sign of alien visitation, when numerous people, including the two guys that started it, have admitted to making the circles, demonstrating how to make them, and letting the experts look at them? The reason is that it doesn't make as interesting a story to know that it was just some drunk guys. While people are superstitious, ignorant, and unwilling to learn they will always go with the more absurd answers than the true ones. You have to look at everything with skepticism, only then can you look past the big green floating face of the wizard to see that it's merely an old man hiding behind a curtain with a projector. Alien abudctions do not happen, and it is rediculous to believe them. The fact that anyone takes this idea seriously is proof of how backwards and gullible society is. As Car Sagan's book points out, the same people believing in alien abductions today are the same that believed their neighbor must be a witch because their cow's milk spoiled.

In the words of Mr. Scrooge: BAH! HUMBUG!

Stuff.

This'll cook your noodle (3.33 / 6) (#5)
by regeya on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:17:04 PM EST

Frankly, I still don't see that as proof.

>In a nutshell, alien abudctions are false.
>There is as much evidence of aliens are there are
>the tooth fairy.

Unfortunately, that requires one to use a logical flaw. The reasoning is that, because no evidence exists to prove a thing, then obviously the thing is false. That's simply not true. There is neither evidence to prove or disprove the event. That doesn't mean that you're wrong; it also doesn't mean you're right. :-)

Carl Sagan also firmly believed that it was inconceivable that, out of the number of galaxies and stars, that there wasn't the possibility of habitale, populated worlds out there, some possibly populated by sentient lifeforms. That, of course, doesn't prove a thing, certainly not the claim that grey-skinned aliens radio-tag humans as part of a research project.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

There's a dragon in my garage... (4.70 / 10) (#13)
by theboz on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:49:20 PM EST

This is from the book actually, and can better explain what I was thinking. I typed the first post in a bit of a hurry while waiting for my pizza. Anyways, while it is true that lack of evidence does not mean it doesn't exist, you have to draw the line somewhere and not believe everything people say.

"A fire breathing dragon lives in my garage." Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!
"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricicle -- but no dragon.
"Where's the dragon?" you ask.
"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."
You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.
"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."
Then you'll use an infared sensor to detect the invisible fire.
"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."
You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.
"Good idea, except she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick."
And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.
Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility.
Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."
Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.
Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths after all...
Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself: On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's firery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no mater how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

So in effect...at this time there is no evidence whatsoever. Therefore, until I see evidence, I can not believe that people are being abducted by aliens. There are reasons why I can say it's not true other than just a lack of evidence on their side, but the fact that others, including spouses in the same bed, don't hear the aliens come in. Often the aliens supposedly use bright lights and such, surely that would wake up the husband or wife of an abductee. No, this is all just crap people believe for various reasons. I'm going back to my pizza now. I have good physical evidence of it's existence, though not for long.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Logically true, but... (4.16 / 6) (#16)
by Mr. Excitement on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:18:12 PM EST

Thats sort of how I justify agnosticism as the only religious philosophy that's logically guaranteed to be correct.

Let p = "God exists"

p V ~p <==> T

(p Inclusive-OR NOT-p is logically equivalent to boolean True)

I got into a debate with a friend yesterday about this position vs. atheism (i.e. the unproven claim that God does not exist, period).

I argued that for all we knew, the Universe could be the dream of some giant cosmic turtle, and that there would be no way to disprove that.

His argument, while seemingly less logically sound, was much more reasonable: "Fine. Even if there is such a turtle, if it's so completely undetectable, and unprovable, then it doesn't really affect our lives, now does it? Worrying about it is pointless."

After that, all my attempts to convince him that there could, on some off- one-in-a-whole-lot chance, exist this slumbering turtle-god, and that it could be subtly meddling with human affairs, became much, much more farfetched than even the original unprovable turtle hypothesis.

So, I suppose the conclusion to draw is, sure there could be aliens among us, but if they only abduct slack-jawed yokels from out of the middle of nowhere, then why should we even care?

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

Atheism is not the belief thay God does not exist (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by Daemin on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:32:18 PM EST

THis is a common misconception.

Its been prepetuated by religious philosophers for hundreds of years, as by re-defining atheism into "The belife that god does not exist" it becomes mouch easier to attack, as in its REAL form it is impregnable to critacism.

Atheism is the LACK of a belief in god existence.

It IS NOT the belief that god lacks existence.

The definiton of atheism is obvious in the word. Theism = belief in a religious system. The prefix A means "without." So atheism means "without the belief in a religious system."

THis might seem like mere semantic, but the first statement tells us something about the atheist, i.e. that he does not posses "the belief that god exist."

The second sentence tells us something about god, i.e. that "god lacks the property of existence."

Atheism is differnt from THeism and Agnostism in that it doesnt assert anything. It is what is refered to sometimes as a "negatice belief."

The theist says he belives god exists. THe agnostic says he belives there is not enough evidence to tell us one way or the other if god exists or not.

Both these possitions are asserting a claim, and that claim must be defended. The theist has to offer evidence that god exists, the agnostic has to offer explentions as to what would count as evidence one way or the other.

The atheist, not asserting anything, is stating that they lack the thesitic belief in the existence of god. They arent required to offer evidence that god doesnt exist BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT THEY SAID.

The only thing an atheist is requiered to do is explain why he does not accept the theists arguments for gods existence.

That is why it cannot be criticised: the atheist isnt caliming to have an arguemnt that "proves" god doesnt exist. He is merely criticising the arguments of those who claim he does.

I dont believe there is a term for people who "belive god does not exist," but i do not they arent atheists.

This common misconception really touches a nerver with me. ANd yes, i am an atheist. Ive yet to hear an arugment that makes sense as to why god exists.

Its like saying "The present king of france is bald." This isnt an inclusive or argument, though it looks like one. There is no present king of france, so the aforementioned statement is false. That doesnt mean its true that "The present king of france has hair."

The problem here is that what they are stating is "There is a class of entites known as the present king of france that has at least one member, and all memebers of that class have hair." Its false that the class of entites know as "The present king of france" has one member, and a conjunction between a false statment and a true statement results in a false statement.

Applying this to the god concept, its "there is a class of entites with the follow properties (enumerate gods properties here) with at least one member, and that member has the property of existence."

To my knowledge, we have no clear definiton of exactly what constitutes gods properties, so any argument asserting something about it is flawed from the beginging, resting as it is on shakey premisses. The problem is the class of entites refered to as god isnt defined.

All arguemnts for gods existence start by attributing to that class a property and then poing to something in the world and saying here is a result of that property. I.E. One of the properties of god is that he created the universe. The universe exists. Therfore god must exist.

Circular argument.

Forgive the length/harshness but it annoys me that so many people are mistaken about what atheism acctualy means, and criticise it on false assumptions.

I DO agree with you that there is no more evidence that god DOESNT exist as there is for his existence. But i am not an agnostic because i dont think the theist have any valid arguments. I dont claim to have evidence that god doesnt exist, but i DO claim that no one else has a valid argument proving he does.



And your claim that angostiscm is the only argument that can be correct is worthless. Sure im gaurented to be right if i calim "Its either raining outside, or its not raining outside." But this tells us nothing at all about whtat is acctualy going on outside, and is not a valid argument in any way shape or form anyway.

Your statement (its not even an argument) is worthless because it gets us nowhere, tells us nothing other then "god exists or god does not exist" which isnt even what agnosticm says to begin with!


[ Parent ]
A couple of points. (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by sec on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:42:51 PM EST

The definiton of atheism is obvious in the word. Theism = belief in a religious system. The prefix A means "without." So atheism means "without the belief in a religious system."

I think, more specifically, that it refers to the lack of belief in a higher, supernatural power. Certain forms of Buddhism, for example, don't include a god. They could therefore be considered an 'atheistic' religion -- the structure is there, but there's no god.

I would also tend to regard Communism as an atheistic religion. Taoism, at least in its original form, would also qualify.

That is why it cannot be criticised: the atheist isnt caliming to have an arguemnt that "proves" god doesnt exist.

Well, it means that you can't criticize it on the grounds that the atheist has failed to prove that god does not exist, unless the atheist specifically makes that claim. There may be other ways to criticize it, though.

I dont believe there is a term for people who "belive god does not exist," but i do not they arent atheists.

Well, people who believe that god doesn't exist are probably a strict subset of those who don't believe that god exists. Can you think of any situation where someone would actively believe that god does not exist, but fail to not believe that god exists?

So, yes, it would be nominally correct to call a person who believes that god does not exist an atheist. However, the range of atheistic beliefs is far greater than that, and even stretches to include some established religions. (see above)

I see where you're coming from, though. I, too, am an atheist in the 'does not believe god exists' category, and get a little annoyed when I get lumped into the 'believes god does not exist' category.



[ Parent ]

I thought (3.83 / 6) (#15)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:08:08 PM EST

Why is it people still believe in crop circles as a sign of alien visitation, when numerous people, including the two guys that started it, have admitted to making the circles, demonstrating how to make them, and letting the experts look at them?

I was never much into the whole crop circle thing but I thought that the 'experts' were able to tell the difference between the technique used to hoax circles (used by the two guys) and most other (more elaborate) circles. Apperently there are structural changes to the plants that are different from just being pressed down by a board. I understand that there are also after effects as well but I forgot what they were.

Also, with all the crop damage, why hasn't anybody been arrested for creating one of these circles. You'd think over the years, with the circles growing more complex (and probably time consuming to build), that a cop or farmer would've stumbled across a hoaxer by chance. Are the farmers themselves doing it?

I've seen some of these, mostly UK, circles on tv. Whoever's doing them have gradually gotten better. Complex geometric shapes that are fairly artistic seem to be the order of the day. Since nobody (to my knowledge) has been caught they must construct them quickly.

I don't think aliens are constructing them because I just can't imagin a bunch of LGM saying "lets build a starship, go to Earth, then draw circles in wheat." Also I wouldn't expect much evolution in complexity with aliens. I'd expect they'd do something really complex right off the bat. Like draw a picture on the White House's lawn then land there.

Whoever is doing it has some artistic ability, is pretty good at geometry, and has good logistical skills to not only execute the pattern but to not get caught during the execution of the circle. Also since there are some specific physical characteristics to some (or most, I don't know) of the circles maybe we could group them that way.

I sometimes wonder if its some geek at a console that controls some secret SDI type satallite thingy.

[ Parent ]

Crop circles... (4.25 / 4) (#18)
by theboz on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:40:12 PM EST

Actually, I saw on TV in December (I don't have cable, so I do remember that far back as I only watch it when I visit someone else) some guys in New Zealand or Australia that do it. They built a very complex geometric design in 30 minutes at night with surveyors equipment, boards, and rope. Basically one guy would use the equipment to help keep it clean looking and help describe how the plan was to be (yes, they planned the design on paper before going into the field) and the other two did the work. One would hold the rope and the other would go around using the board to push down the wheat. It really was not a complex ordeal and they did it pretty quickly.

As far as the experts who can tell real from authentic, I believe there was a contest held a number of years ago to get hoaxers to come make them for the experts to look at. Some of the crop circles passed as authentic.

As far as after effects, yes, the plants die. It's just like if you put up a kiddie pool in your yard and leave it there for a day. The grass underneath is smashed and gets brown and bad. I don't think there is anything else going on but I'm sure there are good explanations for all of them...without even resorting to ball lightning. :oD

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Remember the Prime Directive! (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by tftp on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:39:29 AM EST

I don't think aliens are constructing them because I just can't imagin a bunch of LGM saying "lets build a starship, go to Earth, then draw circles in wheat."

Imagine yourself a member of an advanced civilization. You have FTL starships and travel wherever you want. You encounter a less developed but promising civilization, only few hundred years younger than your own. You have strict non-interference rules (The Prime Directive). You, however, know that in N years this civilization will discover fatline and all the chatter of entire Galaxy will be available to them to listen to. You also know that many other closed societies found direct evidence of alien life and committed nuclear suicide (at hands of few fanatics, but all die anyway.) What are your options?

One of best options is to carefully introduce the concept of aliens into the society, mixing it with plenty of easily detectable pranks, hoaxes and truth. After some time people just don't care any more, and if a Klingon pops up at McDonalds nobody would be too surprised, especially if eventually he switches to perfect English and asks for a cheeseburger.

This theory may also explain "where are they?" - they are out there, it's we who are in quarantine, it's Earth who is off limits to their tourist ships. Only specialists in social engineering are allowed, and they do what they must.

Anyway, Strugatsky brothers described that in their novel It's Difficult To Be A God in 1964. I don't know if an english translation exists, Amazon returns only few out of print books. In the novel a team of alien overseers is living among a backward people under fascist rule. Overseers have access to all sorts of technology, but it is hidden so that the locals don't recognize it. The purpose of overseers is to guide the civilization onto The Right Path. Same goal as outlined above - to help the civilization to survive. Obviously, Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke carries pretty much the same message.

[ Parent ]

Take a look for yourself (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Steeltoe on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:10:14 AM EST

Before you judge and take other people's words in your mouth, how about a quick look for yourself?

Crop Circle Connector

Crop Circle Radius

None of your explanations explain the amount of cropcircles reported each year, in countries all over the world, complexity and the fact that the makers are never caught in the act. Yes, there are two con-artists that made a very crude and simple circle, but got caught in the act by some people passing. They were going to "prove" they could do it by fooling the media, and this partly failed (they were caught). They managed to hush it down for the media to catch their bait though. And so they "proved" they had made every cropcircle in the UK (as they claimed)! Apparently the headlines managed to spread enough disinformation and lies to convince alot of rational thinking people (which are the first ones to jump on that bandwagon). There have been many other fakes too, increasingly over the years, but the circles they make are usually not very complex and have certain signs of being man-made.

On another note, there are people who are making cropcircles officially. Artists and people who want to check it out have managed to create fairly complex circles. I've heard of some business that did this as a course of teaching project-management and working in teams. However, that they amount to a large mass of people doing this 24-hours-a-day is unbelievable to me. The time and amount of people they required is just too huge, and they had to do it during the day. These people usually openly report their cropcircles too, so everyone can come visit their work.

Additionally there have been witnesses who have seen a cropcircle form in a matter of seconds. I'm not quite sure what to believe, but to me, that sounds just as believable as thousands of invisible people making cropcircles in the night in different parts of the globe. They all must have infra-red vision and walkie-talkies too, just to coordinate it all and see where they're going.

So cropcircles to me are a *real* mystery. I have no idea how they all form, I know they can be formed by humans, but experts claim these to be different than the "real" ones. I will not come to any conclusions yet because there just ain't one to be had. Why not check this out yourself, and maybe you can solve it?

- Steeltoe
Explore the Art of Living

[ Parent ]

Mythology (3.94 / 17) (#9)
by speek on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:33:39 PM EST

I've said most of this in editorial comments, but I think it's worth repeating topically:

Our civilization will probably be remembered for its rich alien-abduction mythology in the same way that the Greeks are remembered for their mythologies. These stories about alien-abduction aren't literally true, and most people don't really believe them. They don't necessarily disbelieve them, because the stories are careful not to provide much grounds for such belief or disbelief.

But, the stories have a lot of valuable ideas and insights in them, similarly to the way the Greek stories do. The idea that humans could be studied and experimented on the way we study and experiment on animals, the problem of evidence and proof itself in a scientific age, the idea of non-human sentients and non-human points of view, the impotence of science to explain everything, fear of losing control, and more. It's amazingly rich, with good guys and bad guys (the differently colored aliens have different personalities and they tend to treat the abductees differently). I quite enjoy the stories that come out of these myths, and Whitely Strieber is our Homer (at least his first book is worthy of it).

It's amusing the attempts to debunk the stories - those attempts have become part of the mythology along the way. Whether or not it's true is beside the point, and most people are sensible enough to live their lives without much thought wasted on such questions.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Rich? (2.50 / 2) (#46)
by bjrubble on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:41:40 AM EST

It's amazingly rich, with good guys and bad guys (the differently colored aliens have different personalities and they tend to treat the abductees differently).

So they're all skinny humanoids, but different colors; and they're all abducting humans in secret, but doing different things to them? Maybe that's rich, but "amazingly rich?"

I think aliens are great mythology, but the real fictional ones do a much better job. Strieber aliens are all stuck in one place and time and purpose. None of them are Heinlein's bugs, or a Star Child, or even the Alien. They may explore many shades of powerlessness or paranoia, but they're missing everything else.

Of course, I also stopped watching X-Files when they switched from "freak of the week" to "how big is your conspiracy?"

[ Parent ]
If alien's did visit... (3.20 / 5) (#14)
by CyberQuog on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:50:32 PM EST

It's my idea that if alien's did visit they would make something out of it. Kind of like in "Strange Encounters of The Third Kind". Also, it's possible that an alien civilization would send scout ships to learn about Earth and the things on it before they visited, but if they went to all the trouble of capturing a human, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't do something as silly as letting him wake up durring the middle of it, or letting an entire town see them take him. So, alien's have probably not visited us yet, if they have we wouldn't know it, and anyone who claims they have is probably smoking too much pot or crazy. BTW, I do believe that in the millions of trillions of stars and solar systems there is probably sentient life.


-...-
Agreed (none / 0) (#58)
by mrBlond on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:12:40 PM EST

I usually sum it up as follows:

"If they can break our laws of physics, and they don't want to be seen - they won't be. If they do, they will be. If they're trying to mess with our heads, they're not doing a good job."

I love sf, especially hard sf. I think there is life out there, but I doubt they'd be proctologists.

poll suggestion if this one is voted down: Alien abduction: real?
Yes, probably, unknown, unlikely, no, Marie Anne is an alien

Personally I think alien abductions are exceedingly unlikely.
--
Inoshiro for cabal leader.
[ Parent ]
A possible explanation... (2.40 / 5) (#17)
by zztzed on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:39:59 PM EST

I was watching Sightings on the Sci-Fi Channel several weeks ago (I was home sick with nothing better to do), and they proposed a possible explanation...

What do you think a surgeon who just delivered a baby might look to that baby, whose eyes and brain aren't very well developed? Maybe an alien, with big black eyes and a little tiny mouth?

I guess that doesn't explain why people have only recently started claiming they've been abducted by aliens, though.

People are very trusting (2.14 / 7) (#20)
by SIGFPE on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:54:23 PM EST

Everyone I know seems to have known one kid at school who was a pathological liar. They'd always come up with the coollest stories about what they'd done at the weekend or how they were in contact with this of that famous person or whatever. And it was all lies. So lets say .1% of people are like this. Then in the US, say, there are 200,000 people just waiting to tell their lies for TV, magazines, websites or whoever else will listen. Given the fact that at least 40% of Americans are creationist (read 'gullible') and the media will do anything to gain ratings it's not in the least bit surprising that there are many reports from the US about things like abductions. What's the big deal? There's nothing of interest here.
SIGFPE
Umm. why does creationist = gullible? (3.25 / 4) (#23)
by Sheepdot on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:09:07 PM EST

I teeter on the edge of Christianity. I have a hard time believing what I hear from fundamentalist Christians. I even disagree with the majority of them.

Several of my friends are creationists in that they believe a God or Gods created the universe. Of those that do believe in creationism, the majority are not Christians and in fact despise Christianity. They simply believe that the universe had to have been created.

I believe you are simply making an attempt to troll uneducated responses, but I can't be for certain because you might actually believe that creationists are gullible. I feel horrible for you if you do.


[ Parent ]
They are gullible .. (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:30:03 PM EST

.. when you tell them what they want to hear. You may say "Everyone is like that", but that's only true to a degree. Because religions fundamentally lack evidence but the members need evidence to justify their belief in the religions to themselves, they have quite low standards when it comes to scientific credibility.

One example would be the studies that "prove" how going to church helps your health. IIRC, most of them have been conducted by the same institute, and nearly all of them have in common one thing: They show that people who can go to church often are healthier than those who can't. Duh. If you read a Christian newsletter, though, you will probably get this kind of material several times a month. Similarly, if someone with a Ph.D. says somewhere that demons or witches exist, religious fundamentalists will present this as "evidence" to their non-believing friends (I speak from experience).

Now as for creationism, you will find all you need to know here. Basically, intelligent people have created a lot of false arguments that sound very convincing if they are what you want and desparately need to hear (and you therefore are not interested in investigating them further). Most if not all of these arguments are refuted in great detail at the talk.origins site.
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[ Parent ]

I know what you are trying to say.. (none / 0) (#29)
by Sheepdot on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 06:29:37 PM EST

..but making the assumption that all studies that can be used by religious fundamentalists are in fact wrong (or rigged), is just as self-serving as the religious fanatic's arguments.

I myself have witnessed odd events at my former church. I was a fundamentalist at one point and eventually left when I went to college. While I've quit attending church, I do remember a few incidents that today I still cannot explain.

I'd like to throw it off as a big farse, but can't. That is why when I hear about a new report saying one thing or another about the validity of a religion, I check it out and decide for myself. Quite a few of them don't appear to be self serving at all.

http://www.nat-med.com/archives/spirituality.htm#references

http://www.imagerynet.com/wellness/principles.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/981012/a_week_in_the_life_of_a1a.html

I suppose all three of those are gimmicks for the folks out there. The problem I have with the definition used for gullible here is that it is so broadly defined that even those that believe in evolution could be considered such.

Remember that evolution is a theory as well, not everyone has to accept one reasoning over another. I don't believe every bit of Christian-propaganda BS that comes out, so right there I've disproved creationists being gullible.

Yes, I do know of evolutionists that check www.sciencedaily.com every time they want to get into a creationism vs. evolution debate. I don't care to convince anyone of creationism since I believe it for myself and myself only.

And I don't throw off one theory just because I don't like the type of people that seem to incorporate it as a science to bush their beliefs.

Fundamentalists infest creationism, to that I have no doubt, but there are those of us that aren't their button pushers.


[ Parent ]
Science & Pseudoscience (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:47:49 PM EST

..but making the assumption that all studies that can be used by religious fundamentalists are in fact wrong

Nobody makes this assumption. I'd just be more skeptical with a study sponsored and used by, say, Focus on the Family than with one by, say, the NIH.

I myself have witnessed odd events at my former church.

Care to elaborate?

That is why when I hear about a new report saying one thing or another about the validity of a religion, I check it out and decide for myself.

That's fairly reasonable. However, if a religion had evidence, why would it need to call itself a religion?

http://www.nat-med.com/archives/spirituality.htm#references

Sigh. That is exactly the type of studies I was referring to. This site claims that "faith's efficacy as a powerful healing force has been scientifically validated by numerous studies". One example cited is this one (one of the most-often quoted ones). It's one of the studies on religion & health published in journals like the Southern Medical, which has also published studies by Byrd & others on church-attendance and health.

Specifically, this study has compared coronary patients who have been prayed for (by "designated intercessors" "to the Judeo-Christian God"). It concludes that praying to God increases the likelihood that you have fewer health problems (although only in 6 of 31 examined areas -- for some reasons, God seems to care more about diuretics & pneumonia than about your angina or your mortality). The study is often cited as a "landmark study", and Christian fundamentalists present it in summaries like this:

There is no "scientific" (non-spiritual) explanation for the cause of the healing demonstrated in these studies. The only logical, but not testable, explanation is that God exists and answers the prayers of Christians. No other religion has succeeded in scientifically demonstrating that prayer to their God has any efficacy in healing. The Bible declares that Jesus Christ has power over life and death and sickness and is able to heal us, both physically and spiritually. He gave this power to His disciples and those who follow Him.
[Scientific Evidence for Answered Prayer and the Existence of God]

In spite of the fact that this researcher seems to consistently find "evidence" for health benefits by his religion of choice, critics have clearly debunked the study as pseudo-science. Straight Dope points out (here):

While proponents have claimed it is a "landmark study" proving the effectiveness of prayer, others have found significant problems (for example, Irwin Tessman and Jack Tessman in "Efficacy of Prayer: A Critical Examination of Claims," Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 2000). Specifically, while the test was supposed to be double-blind and the article describing it claimed it was, a number of investigators have found that this was not true. Byrd himself determined who did better, those who were prayed for or those who were not, and he determined it after he knew who was in which group. Furthermore, the coordinator of the study was not blinded. Double-blind studies are done so those running the experiments don't accidentally contaminate the results with their own viewpoints. The failure to properly blind this study calls the results into serious question.

Matthews, Conti, and Christ further point out that there was no difference between those who were prayed for and those in the control group in terms of objective measures such as length of stay in intensive care, stay in the hospital overall, or number of medications that were necessary at discharge. Indeed, as pointed out by Gary Posner, M.D. (Free Inquiry magazine, Spring 1990, available at www.hcrc.org/contrib/posner/byrd.html), the length was unaffected even though there were specific prayers for a rapid recovery. Furthermore, there was no effect seen on mortality, despite prayers "for prevention of . . . death."

So what was the basis of the claim that prayer was effective? The study looked at a large number of criteria or "variables"--for example, how the subjects compared in terms of rates of congestive heart failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, pneumonia, etc. With so many different comparisons to choose from, it's not surprising that a few were found to show differences, especially when there was no prediction ahead of time as to which ones should be different or for what reasons. These differences are likely the result of chance.

(See the rest of the article for comments on other, similar studies.) I should add that such studies would only get funding (and be taken seriously by a significant portion of the population) in a country so plagued by irrationalism and fundamentalism like the United States. The mere thought of testing people who come to a hospital for the "efficacy of prayer" reminds me of the Dark Ages. There is only one further step: Throwing away school medicine and resorting exclusively to prayer. I would imagine that a bunch of good televangelists could easily get a fundamentalist mob to do this. After all, they're already killing the abortion-doctors.

Remember that evolution is a theory as well

Sure. So is gravity. The everyday use of the word "theory" implies that it is somehow incomplete or arbitrary, yet in truth there are strict scientific standards on what is a theory and what isn't. The word people should actually use when they say "it's just a theory" is "hypothesis". If a theory doesn't work, it is completely (or in part) falsified sooner or later. For example, the ancient theory that light is emitted by the human eye was falsified by modern physics, and the theory that life could come out of nothing was falsified with the use of the microscope. Also see: Evolution is a Fact and a Theory by Laurence Moran, which is short and to the point.

Creationism, OTOH, is neither theory nor fact. There is no formulation of it that would meet even loose scientific standards (consider the very contradictions in Genesis, with itself and with actual observation, and the interpretability of the words -- see Skeptic's Annotated Bible for examples).

not everyone has to accept one reasoning over another. I don't believe every bit of Christian-propaganda BS that comes out

OK. You just believe some bits of Christian propaganda BS that comes out ;-)

And I don't throw off one theory just because I don't like the type of people that seem to incorporate it as a science to bush their beliefs.

That's not the point. The point is that much of the so-called science is not science. It's pseudoscience, a hardly disputable fact which is conveniently ignored by those people whose fears and hopes are confirmed by it. Of course a study should not be rejected without looking at it first (and I think I have shown with this comment that I don't do that). But the problem is that this crap is often accepted without looking at it at all.
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[ Parent ]

You wasted your time (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Sheepdot on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:50:04 PM EST

I will not reply in complete because I refuse to argue creationism vs. evolution.

Care to elaborate?

I did, I can't believe you missed it. The cases I spotted were ones of individuals terminally diagnosed with cancer, and then no longer being diagnosed. Three of them were the most convincing, with two actually having medical documents to verify the situation. It was enough to convince me, none of it will convince you, nor does it need to. I'm only explaining why I am a creationist.

That's fairly reasonable. However, if a religion had evidence, why would it need to call itself a religion?

I never said evidence. I said I check the validity of arguments myself.

Sigh. That is exactly the type of studies I was referring to.

Suprise, you just wasted your time. If I was trolling I could say now, YHBT. I'm not. Why you typed that whole spiel I have no idea, as I simply did a search for three items relating to the topic, and pasted them as examples. I did not say I believed them, I was just using them as an example that arguments *do* exist for creationism that are well thought out and do not require that folks be gullible for them to be mentioned.

Sure. So is gravity. The everyday use of the word "theory" implies that it is somehow incomplete or arbitrary, yet in truth there are strict scientific standards on what is a theory and what isn't.

Recently arguments have been made that suggest that time really does not exist. Reasons why this has been somewhat accepted are that the equation combining quantum physics and the theory of relativity has not been found and it is thought that time might have to be removed in order to explain it.

There is a good reason why things are called theories, and the evolution vs. creationism debate is still being argued. Both are theories because they cannot be proven, so dismissing one because a belief system you disagree with uses it to their advantage is big-headed and self-serving. It does not validate a theory.

Creationism, OTOH, is neither theory nor fact. There is no formulation of it that would meet even loose scientific standards (consider the very contradictions in Genesis, with itself and with actual observation, and the interpretability of the words -- see Skeptic's Annotated Bible for examples).

Wow. You just really like assuming that creationists must believe in a Christian God in order to be creationists. I'm telling you that a large number of creationists (maybe not the majority, but a significat amount) do *not* believe in a Christian God. Some don't even believe in a God that dictates morals, just a creator.

OK. You just believe some bits of Christian propaganda BS that comes out ;-)

That's odd, I don't remember ever talking about (save the situation I experienced) why I'm a creationist. Nice of you to go ahead and say I am gullible too. I appreciate it. Also enjoyed the little smiley face that accompanies so many smart-ass remarks designed to rile up the person one is debating with.

That's not the point. The point is that much of the so-called science is not science.

Why? Cause you disagree? Because you can refute arguments for creationism that only convince yourself and evolutionists?

I could throw evolutionists off as gullible and say Darwin was just trying out an experiment to see what kinds of fools would believe him. Evolutionists would hear that and go nuts. Meanwhile creationists would just add it as another argument to use when debating evolutionists. Those that believed in evolution not because of Darwin but because of their own studies would be upset.

Do we have to accept evolution if we don't believe like fundamentalist Christians? The gullibility argument tends to suggest so.


[ Parent ]

*Cough* *cough* (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by guffin on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 10:45:59 PM EST

Recently arguments have been made that suggest that time really does not exist. Reasons why this has been somewhat accepted are that the equation combining quantum physics and the theory of relativity has not been found and it is thought that time might have to be removed in order to explain it.

Bullshit. There is no such 'equation'. This would imply a quantization of gravity. Current research indicates that this might be possible, but there is no current model that accurately describes experimental results. Infinities are a bitch. As for your claim about time not existing, do you have any references?

There is a good reason why things are called theories, and the evolution vs. creationism debate is still being argued. Both are theories because they cannot be proven, so dismissing one because a belief system you disagree with uses it to their advantage is big-headed and self-serving. It does not validate a theory.

You claim in an earlier statement that you do not wish to argue creationism vs. evolution, yet here you do it. You also seem to have missed a crucial difference between these two 'theories'. Evolution is based on observations and makes testable predictions. Creationism is based on a belief system, and makes no testable predictions. This disqualifies it as a theory. I'm not arguing whether it is correct or not, just that it is not a theory.

[ Parent ]

k5 has increasingly less competent people (none / 0) (#49)
by Sheepdot on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:05:51 AM EST

Assumptions abound on here.

Bullshit. There is no such 'equation'. This would imply a quantization of gravity. Current research indicates that this might be possible, but there is no current model that accurately describes experimental results. Infinities are a bitch. As for your claim about time not existing, do you have any references?

I am *not* making the claim that time does not exist. I used it as an example of why him effectively saying "gravity is a theory too, do you debate that?" really has no bearing on the situation. Evolution vs. Creation debates are plently more scientifically involved than debates against gravity, so I was hoping to thwart his attempt as passing evolution off as scientific fact simply because gravity is a theory as well and it is widely accepted.

If anyone is interested, I suggest the following:

http://www.geocities.com/tonylance/unified.html#portion

And yes, there are books about time not existing.

http://chfestival.org/november/events/EventDetail.cfm?GetEventID=12

Same book, nytimes article:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/b/barbour-time.html

Once again, I do not believe this way, it is simply an explanation that there *are* people out there that disagree with even such "scientific fact" theories like time. They aren't called complete idiots, or wait, I take that back, *YOU* probably consider them idiots, but the rest of us at least listen to what they have to say. Even if we don't like what it is or feel a sudden urge to play childish games where we immediately announce we are the ultimate knower of scientific fact, we at least listen to what people have to say.

Start thinking for your selves. Quit assuming that everyone else isn't. Just live your own life and don't demean others by calling them "gullible".

[ Parent ]

Ok, a few things.. (none / 0) (#63)
by guffin on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 08:55:36 PM EST

1) I missed the key word 'not' in your statement about quantum mech/relativity. Sorry.

2) Wow what a breeze from all that hand-waving. Each of those links contains not a single relevant equation, other than things like T=E, when the author asserts that time is energy.

Your point that there are people out there who disagree with scientific fact is irrelevant. You can find someone who believes any crazy thing you want to talk about. The point is, unless you put such a theory on a sound experimental basis, anyone capable of critical thinking will dismiss what you say. You may argue that that's what Einstein's contemporaries thought of his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Were they wrong to be skeptical? No! Why? Because there was no absolutely convicing evidence of this until an experiment in the mid 1910's (by Millikan if i'm not mistaken).

Once again, I do not believe this way, it is simply an explanation that there *are* people out there that disagree with even such "scientific fact" theories like time. They aren't called complete idiots, or wait, I take that back, *YOU* probably consider them idiots, but the rest of us at least listen to what they have to say. Even if we don't like what it is or feel a sudden urge to play childish games where we immediately announce we are the ultimate knower of scientific fact, we at least listen to what people have to say.

Anyone who makes an argument against currently accepted theories without experimental evidence, or at least mathematically sound reasoning I will without reservations call a quack.



[ Parent ]
Intellectual dishonesty (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by Eloquence on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:54:11 PM EST

I will not reply in complete because I refuse to argue creationism vs. evolution.

Most of what I wrote I interpreted as separate from the creationism vs. evolution debate (although it's true that the people who use these studies imply that they suggest the existence of a supernatural being & therefore, creation of some sort). Your reply is an excellent example of intellectual dishonesty. You spread pseudoscientific propaganda (perhaps in the subconscious hope that your discussion partner replies with "Whoa, hey, that's interesting stuff") and when someone points out the fact that it's all crap, you refuse to reply & argue that "I did not say I believed them, I was just using them as an example that arguments *do* exist for creationism that are well thought out".

You refer to arguments for creationism "that are well thought out". It is indeed the case that these pseudoscientific studies on "the efficacy of intercessory prayer" and similar subjects are well thought out. In fact, the Byrd study was probably a deliberate fraud, it claimed to be double-blind but wasn't -- something that a reader of just the study itself could not know.

Your conclusion, however, that they "do not require that folks be gullible for them to be mentioned" is wrong. Anyone with a reasonable set of logic and knowledge would be extremely careful with a "scientific" study that suggests that there is a God (one specific God only, of course) that not only listens to prayers but also answers them to reduce specific illnesses--simply because of the implications such claims would have in all scientific fields. Religiously-minded people, however, do not have any evidence for their belief and thus tend to accept anything that supports them, fragile as they are. As you yourself have proven, if their "science" is debunked, they tend to disassociate themselves from it and point out that they actually don't need any evidence, just their wonderful belief.

I did, I can't believe you missed it.

I didn't find any mentioning of the cases in your comment.

The cases I spotted were ones of individuals terminally diagnosed with cancer, and then no longerbeing diagnosed.

Spontaneous healing of cancer patients is a well-known phenomenon and occurs in theists, deist & atheists :-). There are different theories on what causes the sudden "cell suicide" of cancer cells (in one of 10000 patients), although microscopes have not yet recorded any divine intervention. The long-term goal is to externally induce this healing process.

The belief that it has anything to do with God, Gaia or Aquarius (depending on who you ask) is just another expression of the fact that religious beliefs tend to fill the gaps left by science. It's so obvious, it never ceases to amaze me that it still works so well. The reason is, again, increased gullibility: "If spontaneous healings cannot be explained, then they must be caused by God (as I define and picture HIM), because if they're caused by God, then I have proof that God exists, and that supports my worldview!"

Recently arguments have been made that suggest that time really does not exist.

Oh, the old "but physics change all the time, and tomorrow we will discover that the laws of thermodynamics actually don't exist" argument. It is true that there are some fringe theories (there are even still scientists debating whether the theory of relativity is correct). Of course, if I disputed any of these theories, you would say, as you have already preventively pointed out later, that you "just used it as an example". Compared to creationism, however, most of these at least deserve the status of "theory". In creationism, as you yourself point out:

You just really like assuming that creationists must believe in a Christian God in order to be creationists. I'm telling you that a large number of creationists (maybe not the majority, but a significat amount) do *not* believe in a Christian God. Some don't even believe in a God that dictates morals, just a creator.

You claim that there is a creation "science", but every creationist will probably give you his own creationism "theory". Who is the creator? What powers does the creator have? When did the creator create Earth? Why? How? In which order? What evidence is there to suggest that there is a creator? Who created the creator? Who created the creator's creator? If the creator is infinite, then why do you need him in the first place? etc. - Creationism cannot answer even one of these questions in a scientific manner. It's ridiculous.

Nice of you to go ahead and say I am gullible too.

You have already proven it by throwing around links without having the spine to defend them.

Why? Cause you disagree? Because you can refute arguments for creationism that only convince yourself and evolutionists?

Because the creation or "faith in healing" "science" fits all the criteria for pseudoscience. The so-called scientists have repeatedly lied or misquoted statements by others. They confuse correlation with causation, they fake evidence to fit their hypothesis, yet they do consistently fail to even formulate a logically non-contradictory hypothesis, let alone a theory.

I could throw evolutionists off as gullible and say Darwin was just trying out an experiment to see what kinds of fools would believe him.

Sure, if you provide the evidence, people will believe you. If you don't, they won't. That's the way science works. Even then, though, evolution theory would hardly be at danger. Just because creationists tend to confuse authority with truth that doesn't mean that everyone else does.

Do we have to accept evolution if we don't believe like fundamentalist Christians? The gullibility argument tends to suggest so.

Only if it is used to discount claims without examining them. I have never done that.
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[ Parent ]

Last reply (none / 0) (#80)
by Sheepdot on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:13:03 PM EST

Once again you made another long spiel. And you really reached for that "intellectual dishonesty". I'm not going to debate folks that pull terms out of their asses. Plus you failed to see where I mentioned in the first post regarding what I experienced when I was younger, ignorance is bliss I take it?

The belief that it has anything to do with God, Gaia or Aquarius (depending on who you ask) is just another expression of the fact that religious beliefs tend to fill the gaps left by science. It's so obvious, it never ceases to amaze me that it still works so well. The reason is, again, increased gullibility: "If spontaneous healings cannot be explained, then they must be caused by God (as I define and picture HIM), because if they're caused by God, then I have proof that God exists, and that supports my worldview!"

Fill the gaps of evolution? You really want to get into a creationism vs. evolution debate don't you? Creationism is for those of us who are a bit too intelligent to fall for evolution. Calling all of us gullible when it is the fundamentalists that buy into nonsense BS is probably the "intellectual dishonesty" you were trying to pull out of thin air at the beginning of your post.

Explain how spontaneous healings happened three times within a short span of about five years to three people that live in the same small midwestern town. I can't. That is why I assume there must be a non-natural (I refuse to use supernatural) force that acted. It would blind of me to not take account of the fact they were praying for healing to their "God".

Note: There were another three or four cases that people claimed they lost cancer in our church as well. Since I have no evidence of if it was real or not, I am assuming that it was just the "church thing" to say you had cancer and then were healed.

Can I not look at that and say, "Wait a minute, science doesn't explain that!".

Oh, the old "but physics change all the time, and tomorrow we will discover that the laws of thermodynamics actually don't exist" argument.

Hah. You act as if it is something you've seen before and only idiots have mentioned it, nice attempt to blow me off. Physicists are looking for the next new revolution, and they think it might be time-related. This isn't something that just a few "fringe folks" find interesting.

What are you trying to tempt me to bring up the first and second law of thermodynamics to try and disprove evolution and the big bang? Or wait, lemme see, that's the only way you are going to accept creationism as a science, but if I do it, I'd be debating creationism vs. evolution.

Nice try. I'm not debating. Creationism to me is the rejection of evolution since it is inferior and doesn't take into account the laws and theories of science that it so ardently attempts to explain. I feel the best way to explain what we know now is to say that it was created.I find it funny you act as if the rejection of evolution is some grave scientific crime.

Creationism cannot answer even one of these questions in a scientific manner. It's ridiculous.

Man evolved from monkey, but what were we before that? Did the first forms of life on earth originate on Earth or did it come from a comet or perhaps a meteor that hit the planet? How many years did it take for the first multi-celled organisms to evolve into something fit for land?

And the biggest reason for rejecting evolution: Why and how did the eye evolve?

I don't know of evolutionists all answering the above questions the same either. I suppose you feel they should answer it "your way", but the fact is no evolutionist answers that question coherently. Or for that matter, scientifically, they all go off and create their own branch of evolution. I've seen many an odd thing for the last question, ranging from "it was the aliens" to "just like everything else was evolved".

Why does scientific manner not play in creationism? If you believe that there is a creator, you can use him to scientifically explain stuff that you otherwise cannot. Currently, if you are an evolutionist and run into something you cannot explain, you just don't deal with it till someone comes along with a solution that convinces your "scientific taste" and then you believe that. It is how evolution took off. It was for all the people that didn't want to deal with creationism.

Now that a generation or two of us have been force fed evolution, is it really that hard to accept that some of us are rejecting it? Maybe we find it is just as self-righteous as evolutionists found creationism in the past.

You've already proven it by throwing around links without having the spine to defend them.

Okay.. I'm stopping here. If my explanation that I do not want to get into a creationism vs. evolution isn't enough for you, you should simply say, "I cannot argue without getting into a debate about it".

What I said:

Quite a few of them don't appear to be self serving at all.

http://www.nat-med.com/archives/spirituality.htm#references

http://www.imagerynet.com/wellness/principles.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/981012/a_week_in_the_life_of_a1a.html

I suppose all three of those are gimmicks for the folks out there.

Now you went and explained that one of the experiments wasn't done correctly and so therefore is thrown out.

Suprise! I said I really didn't care. My argument is that those links did not appear to have an ulterior motive, so saying that all creationist arguments do, is rude and self-serving.

I'm not arguing the validity of some experiment that wasn't double blind, I'm not reaching for terms such as "intellectual dishonesty". I'm saying things like they are and you're assuming I'm saying more.

Because the creation or "faith in healing" "science" fits all the criteria for pseudoscience. The so-called scientists have repeatedly lied or misquoted statements by others. They confuse correlation with causation, they fake evidence to fit their hypothesis, yet they do consistently fail to even formulate a logically non-contradictory hypothesis, let alone a theory.

Care to share where they are all doing this? We've went over one, but I don't think they flat out lied, so maybe you can back up your assertion by showing us one where a creationist did lie.

What is contradictory about creationism? (Please don't threaten Genesis again, I'm growing tired of debating someone who thinks creationismism implies Christianity.

Only if it is used to discount claims without examining them. I have never done that.

And there in essence, is the end of the debate. You claim from above that creationists have different opinions on creationism. However you also feel that creationists are gullible. At some point in your life you threw off creationism as a psuedoscience and never bothered to think of it again. But what about the folks like myself that don't believe the Bible is the basis of creationism?

You threw us off as gullible

Now you claim you don't discount without examining. You lie. I'm done arguing this.

[ Parent ]

Comment: "evolution is a theory as well" (none / 0) (#78)
by Daemin on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:05:01 PM EST

WHich implies creationism is a theory WHICH IT IS NOT, and please dont give it the appearence of being a real theory by calling it such.

A theory is provable or disporvable by observing reality.

Creationism relies soley on the assertion that the bible says god made the world and all its creatures. Its "proof" is soely the words written down is a 2000+ yer old book. We cant preform any tests in reality that prove creationism is true or false. Therefore it is neither usefull, nor a theory.

for example, the cathloic chruch embrtaced evolution, using this argument: The bible says god made all the creatures but not HOW he made the creatures. Something mustve caused the mutatioins evolution relies on, and that something is god.

Once again, we have something that cannot be proved or disproved by examining reality.

[ Parent ]
I'm not trying to be a troll, but... (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by Pyro P on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 08:22:48 PM EST

Maybe God caused evolution? Genesis never says how He created anything...

[ Parent ]
I do not believe in a Genesis creation.. (none / 0) (#39)
by Sheepdot on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:54:46 PM EST

Or rather, I believe that fundamentalists have warped the real reason for creation to such an extreme that to try and use Genesis to explain the creation of the universe would utterly confuse evolutionists who think that I'm a bonified Bible-thumper and will then go and use different parts of the Bible to refute other parts. Something I have little interest in.

Its funny how creationism implies Christianity, and more importantly that you believe every fucking word in the Bible. Does evolution imply atheism? I know a few that would be upset with that one as well.

Note: this isn't directed at you, just explaining how I feel. Sorry if it sounds like I'm hampering on ya.


[ Parent ]
An extra thing (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:56:30 PM EST

I was watching a TV show (sorry, forgot which one, either on TLC or discovery) that a scientest talking about the drake equation and alien life in the 'where are they?' sense.

He said that scientest figure that when human are advanced enough to build and send those multi-generation-colony type sub light starships to other star systems, those ships colonize their respective planets and build up ther economies and send out more starships, that they guestimate 60 million years to fill our milky way.

So, as the scientest said, "Where are they?"

Of course he was speaking of intelligent aliens.

I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by regeya on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:13:58 PM EST

That's still not a very compelling argument.

To tell the truth, I find it no more compelling than the "evidence" of crop circles. Even less so, in fact.

The logic behind that argument is this: by his calculation, it would take 60 million years to populate the Milky Way using sublight technology. There's no evidence of aliens among us, therefore, because it would take 60 million years to populate the galaxy without any sort of faster-than-light or warplike technology, there are no aliens.

There's a lot in that comment that's left out. For example, what was the estimation of the number of habitable worlds in the Milky Way? That, and how do you determine how early/late in this civilization's development they stumble upon Earth?

If you assume that Earth is the last world to be colonized (a safe assumption, considering we're on the outer rim of the Galaxy) then you would have to assume that this civilization would have had interstellar travel capability for 60 million years.

There are just too many variables there for me to take this theory seriously. You could just as easily argue that WE don't exist by a REALLY flawed leap of logic by stating that, since we've not left our solar system, and that some distant civilization has seen no evidence of life around that yellow sun on the edge of the Galaxy, then obviously there are no sentient beings in our solar system. No proof; must not be there.


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Good points (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:18:55 PM EST

You make some good points. Be sure to take a look at J'raxis link in this thread.

The Scientific American article linked to is a pretty fun read. As you pointed out there's a lot of guessing that goes with this topic.

[ Parent ]

Scientific American Article (none / 0) (#27)
by J'raxis on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:59:44 PM EST

http://www.sciam.com/2000/0700issue/0700crawford.html.
"Where are they?" by Ian Crawford.

-- The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Thanks (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:15:35 PM EST

That's a great link. The universe, hell the galaxy, is just so big it's hard to comprehend Earth being completely, or just effectively, alone.

That part about single cell organisms being all there was for 3 billion years has allways made me curious. 3 billion years, BAM, big evolutionary explosion into many multi-cellular critters. From there, periodic extinctions and explosions in diversity of life.

I just can't think of anything off the top of my head that could explain why it would tak 3 billion years. Oh yeah, I remember something. First off there are two kinds of cells. First is bacteria (Prokaryotes) then there is the modern cell (Eukaryotes like an ameoba).

All the plants, animals, fungi, and protists are made from Eukaryotes. I think the Eukaryotes are supposed to be more energetic than the Prokaryotes. So I guess the Prokaryotes can't form complex multi-cellular organisms and it took evolution three billion years to make a Eukaryote. And that gave evolution a highly energetic cell to build with.

[ Parent ]

On existing "evidence" (4.30 / 13) (#22)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:03:50 PM EST

Did you ever awaken and find yourself unable to move? Perhaps you sensed a presence in your room or a pressure on your chest. This is sleep paralysis. (Also contains specific info on alien abduction.) Sleep paralysis is basically a definable and reproducible state between sleep/dreaming and wakefulness. Normal sleep paralysis is what prevents most us from sleepwalking.

This purely neurological phenomenon is responsible for a lot of myths on witches and other strange creatures, especially since it very often occurs together with fascinating, very real-looking hallucinations (like dreams fading into reality). The way the hallucinations have been interpreted has obviously changed over time, and now many of them are classified as "alien abductions", especially by people who've been interested in space/alien stuff before. With images of the "grays" broadcasted over national television many times (together with detailed reports on the abduction procedures), it's no wonder that the frequency of "abduction" hallucinations has increased dramatically

The same material that you see in movies and imagine from books etc. also occurs in your dreams, and therefore in the hallucinations produced during sleep paralysis. For example, when I was a child, I had very realistic hallucinations of one Disney witch character during sleep paralysis. The fact that you can't move makes it especially scary. When I learned about SP about 4-5 years ago, though, the hallucinations basically became more interesting and fascinating than scary, and sometimes I try to produce them intentionally.

For the "abductees", abduction seems like the most rational explanations because after all, the memory is there (and the knowledge about sleep paralysis is not). Unfortunately, without the knowledge, they will never know that what happened to them is a completely normal and very common (I've had sleep paralysis about 20-30 times) phenomenon that varies strongly in its intensity.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Hypnagogic hallucinations (4.40 / 5) (#30)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 06:37:13 PM EST

A bit more information: The hallucinations, which are the best part (IMO) of sleep paralysis, are caused when the brain tries to correct its mishap by going back into REM, but without turning off long-term memory retention (i.e. what constitutes perceptive consciousness). These are known as hypnagogic hallucinations, which are effectively a dream but while awake; they are very powerful, vivid, and difficult to separate from reality while being experienced (though as soon as you wake up it's pretty easy to tell the difference - for me, anyway), and they give a very powerful direct vision into all the wonderful flotsam and cruft in one's brain.

One of my songs (appropriately entitled 'Hypnagogic') is a sort of twisted view of a rather powerful, happy, and emotional hypnagogic hallucination I had a number of years ago, most of which is still with me. I bring this up because I have a decent amount of what it's like for me to experience a hypnagogic hallucination in the song info, and I think there's various links to other information on hypnagogic hallucinations around. I know I've also written a bit about hypnagogic and hypnanomic phenomena on Everything, though I'm on sabbatical from there so I don't particularly want to actually hunt my writeups down right now. :) (Just try doing an inexact search on "hypnagogic.")

And yeah, I also try to induce them sometimes, though I have this problem where I recognize that one's coming about, and so I think, "Yay, a hypnagogic hallucination!" which ends up putting my subconscious into alarm mode and the situation gets corrected. Oh well.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

My experience... (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by Ranger Rick on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:56:40 AM EST

I've experienced sleep paralysis, and I must say, it's a very freaky experience. My whole body locked up, and I saw ghosty-white 'things' moving around, but I wouldn't attribute it to aliens... just being half-asleep. :)

However, unlike you, even afterwards, I couldn't really separate the hallucinations from the reality, even after waking. Other than the fact that I knew better, that is. :)


:wq!


[ Parent ]
Acid test (none / 0) (#54)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:44:04 PM EST

The way that it's so obvious for me to separate reality from the hallucinations is that in the hallucinations, my senses which aren't being actively triggered by the hallucinations are dulled, and I almost never have any peripheral vision. I usually also have a tingling sensation on my face or the taste of smell of blood going on. Also, since most of my hallucinations have involved me getting up and walking around (or being transported into alternate realities and such), I always have a very good reference point for when it ends, since that's when I wake up in bed or whatever. :)

Of course, the memory is always at least as vivid as if I had actually experienced it, and before I knew about HHEs I wasn't able to separate reality from HHEs while I was experiencing them, but immediately after waking up when my senses return to normal I can quickly realize which was real and which wasn't.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Oh yeah (none / 0) (#55)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:45:00 PM EST

That isn't to say that while I experience the hallucination I can normally separate it from reality. I've only been able to do that on rare occasions, and only very recently - it's only after I wake up that I realize that my senses were fubared.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Temporal lobe seizures (4.42 / 14) (#25)
by strlen on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:26:48 PM EST

You know, alien kidnapping can be explained using the theory of temporal lobe seizures, which are seizures that do not happen to impact parts of the brain which are responsible for motion, so usual symptomes of a seizure are not seen. These can be induced by dissasociative anaesthetics such as Ketamine, DXM and PCP (two of which are illegal street drugs), and these drugs are often associated with alien encounters and other mistic phenomena during high doseage ("upper plateau") trips. Also such seizures occur in situations where oxygen is abruptly shut of from the brain, or as a protective measure in deadly situations (such as when falling of a cliff), so they account for NDA's as well, although different factors are involved. But basically, what happens is that your brain is disconnected from your body and you tend to interpret things a "little differently". Also, such experiences are _EXTREMELY_ realist, much more so then LSD/Mescaline/Mushroom trips, even though the above mentioned experiences tend to be realistic and frighting. And individuals without other disorders may have a form of epilepsy which leads to these effects -- and it has been found in same age/gender groups as alien encounters. And why aliens? Simply because that's the current popular mythology, most likely starting during H.G. Wales (if I am correct), Mars Wars speeches in late 30's, while in earlier centuries these people may have seen "god"(s) or angels etc.. Also, these seizures could be induced by electro-magnetic radiation, heat and electric shocks. So other ufo-like phenomena, such as ball lightning could be related. Is this explanation complete or the only one available? No, but I find it satisfcatory for me to discount a large number of alien encounters. And for <supreme being>'s sake, please don't overdose yourself on Robitussin DM, to see aliens -- all reports I've seen have had an unpleaseant edge to them, and there is a real danger of brain damage, psycotic breaks and poisoning.


--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Well, I'll be. (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by regeya on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 12:31:09 AM EST

That may explain my extremely active imagination as a child--thinking I heard the telephone, thinking my mother was in the room for a moment, when she was, in fact, not (to the point that I would *see* her). No, I never had visions of aliens taking me, but I was diagnosed with another form of epilepsy. Left me in a rather hazed state, not trippy. I wish I could remember the tech term. (I could call my neurologist, but that was several years ago, and he died from a sort of brain cancer. Talk about irony.)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Oh God, make the pain stop... (2.80 / 21) (#28)
by trhurler on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 06:24:48 PM EST

I can't believe this is going to get posted. People, stop watching fucking X-files reruns all night long. It is not a god damned documentary. There are no men in black. There is no conspiracy, and alien abduction stories rank right up there with tales of the big one that got away. In order to do what people claim these aliens do, they'd have to be capable of violating the laws of physics in ways that are absolutely ridiculous. I'd sooner believe in Santa Claus than ongoing alien abductions with nobody of note even realizing it is going on. Turn off the aliens-rape-cute-girls anime. Quit going to movies if you have to. Dump your creepy girlfriend who swears her mom had an anal probe just like Cartman - do whatever it takes to get a life, people. Grow up. Take some courses in astronomy and physics, even. This is sad. Maybe spent some quality time with Bob Park. His political views are iffy, but at least he knows physics.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Don't jump to conclusions (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:52:58 PM EST

Look at the poll. Most of the people who vote this up want to have a debate on how and why this mythology evolved. There is no wide-spread belief in abductions here. I'd find it disappointing if a story was voted down just because it touched a controversial subject such as this one. Personally, I find most religions no more convincing (in fact even less so, as abductions are at least remotely compatible with our understanding of reality) than the alien abduction hypothesis -- that doesn't prevent me from discussing either.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
That's just what they want you to think (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by cgrabe on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 08:50:53 PM EST

I won't say that there ARE aliens out there, but I won't be so pompous as to say there definately aren't. We see every day just how little we understand about the world in which we live. As far as the "laws" of physics, there are many things that break these "laws" and we are constantly adjusting the "laws" accordingly. Keep an open mind.

[ Parent ]
Life on other planets != alien visitation (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:37:55 PM EST

I believe that there's life on other planets. That doesn't mean I believe that there's alien life coming here and doing what bad science fiction says it does. Just because it's highly likely that there's life on other planets doesn't mean that it has the means (or even the reason) to come here.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Notice that I didn't disagree with your claim. (none / 0) (#57)
by trhurler on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:00:22 PM EST

As fluffy grue noted, life on other planets is an entirely different question than alien abductions. In addition, I would note that no, we are not constantly adjusting the laws of physics - we're tweaking a few ideas way out on the frontiers of research, but the basics have not changed at all in almost 100 years. I think there are some mistakes in there, and I think we'll find them sooner or later, but by and large, our view of the universe isn't too awfully bad right now; we're not suddenly going to discover that the whole thermodynamics thing was a measurement error, for instance. We're not going to wake up one day and read newspaper headlines about a new infinite source of energy. We're not going to find that walking slower makes you cover ground more quickly. Alien vessels the size of large trucks carrying enough power to travel across a galaxy in a reasonable period of time and then hide themselves from the entire EM spectrum while abducting humans using tmospheric maneuvers in craft that aren't aerodynamically stable at accelerations that would turn multicellular life forms into a fine red paste on the windshield simply aren't possible - period. Arguing about this is stupid. The fact that advances will occur does not mean that any imaginable "advance" will occur. It wasn't safe to bet against aviation - because it was physically possible, and known to be so. It is safe to bet against things that ignore the physics we know, even if some details are wrong.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
It's a conspiracy (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by speek on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 10:03:03 PM EST

don't you know, it's a conspiracy to torment you, trhurler.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Um, exuse me.......... (4.16 / 6) (#47)
by Educated Escort on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 06:21:22 AM EST

In order to do what people claim these aliens do, they'd have to be capable of violating the laws of physics in ways that are absolutely ridiculous

Yeah! Trhurler is right! How could the masses possibly believe in something that violates the laws of physics like that? I mean that Jesus guy coming down from heaven and dying on a cross and rising three days later? And Mary giving birth to him without even having sex?? I mean that violates physics alright, but those MILLIONS of people out there don't really believe all that do they?

LOL

I mean there aren't really about 23945235 things that we believe that physical laws contradict? Are there?


"It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity"

Albert Einstein


[ Parent ]

Yes, (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by trhurler on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:50:05 PM EST

The average human being IS abominably foolish. However, this does not mean the average k5er should be. Supposedly, we're educated, intelligent individuals. I realize there is a certain subset of the population which consists of the very 15 year olds to whom they market these inane conspiracy theories, but they're not the majority.

By the way, I find your comparison of Christianity to abduction theories very entertaining. Abduction theories are ridiculous, and yet, compared to Christianity, they're downright sensible:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
evidence of above-average intelligence on K5 (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by speek on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:33:07 AM EST

is about as non-existenct as evidence of UFO's and abductions. But we all prefer to believe it anyway.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Irrational explainations for the unknown (4.16 / 6) (#33)
by vastor on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:28:40 PM EST

While I personally don't think there are aliens out there visiting earth or abducting people, I have spoken to a couple of people that believe they've seen some evidence of their existance.

For example, one claims to have seen a UFO while she was at a primary school along with dozens of students and the teachers etc (she was there to help with a music class I believe). She also said that the local airforce base had detected something odd on their radars at the same time.

Of course, UFOs are just as their name indicate - unidentified flying objects. It doesn't mean there are aliens in them or that they aren't human made even if the people seeing them believe otherwise (it was daylight at the time, so atleast it isn't just the unknown lights UFO scare).

On the other hand, someone else has told me about unusual lights - a red beam coming out of the sky that worked its way progressively around a lake, coming out of the sky at such an angle that something making no sound must have been up there as the source (apparently the person that saw this couldn't get clear of trees in time for an unobstructed view of where the beam was coming from, but since it was 4am in the morning in a pretty deserted area with no sounds of any conventional aircraft they think it must have been a UFO).

In both situations they could well have been secret military aircraft, but when people do go through unexplained events like those you can understand why they might use it as a basis for a belief in aliens etc. I just put it down to superstitious explainations of the unknown. 2000 years ago they might have thought they were witches riding across the sky in a magic carriage, today people say they're aliens in spaceships.


A question.. (2.50 / 2) (#41)
by driph on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 10:26:06 PM EST

When did the popular notion of the small gray alien with the large black eyes start?

Anyone happen to know this?

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
Gray aliens and B&W TV (none / 0) (#110)
by pin0cchio on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 05:40:33 PM EST

When did the popular notion of the small gray alien with the large black eyes start?

Back before color television was widespread, aliens landed. They looked quite like Precious Moments figurines. But the black and white televisions of the day could only produce a gray skin color; this is where America got its image of the gray alien. Think about it... big heads, teardrop-shaped eyes, doll limbs...


lj65
[ Parent ]
anyone ever notice--- (4.53 / 15) (#43)
by radar bunny on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 12:26:40 AM EST

-That there wasn't wide any widespread observations of UFO's until WE took to the skys? yes, there have ALWAYS been claims, but it didn't become a phenomenom until after took to the air? In fact, the whole concept of UFO's being round came from their first big appearances after we took to the air in balloons. Later they became aerodaynamic as we did.

-That stories of abductions didn't start until the fifties with mention of our desire to start trying to explore space? They weren't taking us there until we were trying to go there?

-That it wasn't until the late 60s that aliens were performing sexual experiments on us? thus, putting it right about the same time as the "sexual revolution" and all that.

-That it wasn't until the eighties when we were really starting to look at the study of Genetics that the aliens were doing genetic experiments on us?


Any one ever notice that the "high tech" aliens seem to be advancing parallel to us?

Hmm.. Good points.. (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by BigZaphod on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:11:10 AM EST

"Any one ever notice that the "high tech" aliens seem to be advancing parallel to us?"


Would it not be equally possible that they are simply helping us along and testing/checking our progress? It would appear that as we advance the aliens advance, but instead perhaps we advance as a direct result of the aliens pushing us.

Something to think about, anyway.. I'm not saying there's proof either way, of course. :-)

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
it's the government (none / 0) (#50)
by crazycanuck on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 12:00:17 PM EST

Mulder was right all along...
It's all a big government conspiracy.

[ Parent ]
After flight? After nukes, more like.. (3.33 / 3) (#60)
by imperium on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 05:11:03 PM EST

Not that I believe it, necessarily, but visitations really kicked off in the late '40s, within a decade of the Manhattan Project. Much more likely that our friends with the funny eyes became interested in (another?) species suddenly capable of destroying life on their planet..

x.
imperium
[ Parent ]

Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by sec on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:42:39 PM EST

Stories like this have been around for a lot longer than that. People have been seeing strange things in the sky since recorded history began, and they have been variously ascribed to God, ghosts, faeries, airships, ghost ships, and so on. This isn't a new phenomenon -- it's just the modern incarnation of a very old one.

Abduction stories are standard fare in Greek myths, Biblical stories, and folk tales from the middle ages.

This really isn't an argument either way -- if you're a believer, they're just different interpretations of the same alien visitations, and if you're a true non-believer, they're just built-in aspects of human mythology or different interpretations of the same delusions.



[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#91)
by lucid on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:13:10 PM EST

yeah, so i finally get my 600MHz athlon machine up, and they abduct me that night and show me their kryotech GHz unit. bastards. ;)

seriously tho. i don't remember where i read it, but i recall that around the turn of the (last) century, there were sightings of airships over major cities - before there were air ships tho. that would tend to fit in with your point, that 'they' seem to advance just as we are about to.

what (if anything) should be made of that? anyone been abducted by aliens who already have IT/Ginger? ;)





[ Parent ]
suggestion and memory (4.44 / 9) (#51)
by iGrrrl on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 12:22:30 PM EST

It used to be demonic visitations -- incubi and succubi and the like. Now it's alien abductions. It's a cultural meme.

Two (undocumented) points:

  • IIRC, the first use of the big-eyed, big-head aliens was in a movie, and it pre-dates abductee stories.
  • Psychologists interested in whether alien abduction experiences were universal went looking for humans untainted by American pop culture. They found a tribe deep in the Australian outback and began to ask them whether any of them had white-light, paralysis, probing gray aliens with big eyes experiences. They answered, "You mean like on the X-files?"

Human memory is not fail safe. Many people, incuding psychologists, think that everything we've seen or heard is stored somewhere in our brains. This is one of the two big false cultural memes about the brain. People who actually work on the physical basis of memory, or who do careful psychological experiments on memory, know that it is slippery stuff. Declarative memories change with time.

Memories which are felt to be fully real by the person can be made by suggestion (and what is more suggestive a state than hypnosis?). It doesn't mean the emotions caused by the false memories are any less affecting.

I'm a scientist. Show me the data. Anecdotal evidence is not data.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

Arthur C. Clarke's position: mine too (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by imperium on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 05:16:39 PM EST

'There are only two general possibilities: either we are the only intelligent life in the universe or there are other advanced life-forms out there and both possibilities are equally amazing...'(loose paraphrase)


x.
imperium

heh.. (none / 0) (#62)
by wolfie on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 07:26:23 PM EST

we are intelligent?

[ Parent ]
relative to a rock, we're intelligent (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by imperium on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 11:40:09 AM EST

It's all a question of definition, but I reckon a species capable of getting to its own moon is at least smart-ish.

x.
imperium
[ Parent ]

Alien visits versus Apparitions of the Virgin Mary (3.00 / 3) (#64)
by Apuleius on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 12:08:10 AM EST

Carl Sagan in his book The Demon Haunted World compares accounts of alien encounters with accounts of appearances by the Virgin Mary. The psychological parallels are amazing. With enough research I could probably a Jewish parallel (Hasidic folktales of appearances by the Elijah, the Ar'i and the Baal Shem Tov), a Hindu parallel (encounters with Lord Krishna), and a Muslim parallel (Gabriel, Muhammad, several others).

Personally, I would rather see humanity develop interstellar mobility and visit civilizations that have not, than the other way around. Seems safer that way.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)

Modern conspiracy theories (4.00 / 3) (#65)
by leviathan on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:34:47 AM EST

I heard a very interesting POV recently about conspiracy theories (not specifically visitation theories), that they are a natural reaction to people's sensation of not being in control of their lives (what with globalization et al).

They (those expounding this POV) see these theories as the ways people are using to explain their surroundings and to make sense of what they see. Some scholars think the old testament is a device for explaining the natural world as it was experienced by people at the time. In a very similar way, conspiracy theories find favour, and are possibly subconsciously generated, because of their ability to put a handle on people's experiences. They are a metaphor for our times.

It's another debate entirely whether these are a good thing for people; whether everyone should excercise rigorous scientific principles on everything they see and hear, touch and feel, or whether these allusions to a truth are a valid way for people to understand.

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert

Skeptic's Dictionary article on alien abductions: (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by hugorune on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:05:10 AM EST

This article on the Skeptic's Dictionary website makes several good points about alien abduction beliefs.
--
Phil Harrison
In the middle ages, it was witches... (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by PenguinWrangler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:34:20 AM EST

Alien abductions stories are complete bollocks, a product of feeble minds.
Read up some of the stories from the middle ages about people being whisked off to the Witches Sabbat. The similarities are incredible, the only difference being that since the middle ages there has been a growth in science fiction...!
The aforementioned Betty and Barney Hill took their alien straight from the pages of the science fiction pulps of the day. Whitley Streiber has published as fact things which were written as an amusing short fiction by hugo-award winning science fiction writers. He is a charlatan. Crop circles are all the product of pranksters. Recently in England some pranksters were filmed producing a crop circle of a type that cerealogists claim are too complex to be faked. They were actually arrested and charged with damaging the crop.
It's bollocks, it all is, absolute bollocks!

"Information wants to be paid"
Mental illness, earthlights, etc (2.50 / 2) (#69)
by cryon on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:57:07 AM EST

Firstly, the human mind is the most complicated piece of matter known to ...the human mind. And the medical/psychiatric industry, naturally, often promotes itself as knowledgeable and competent in the area of the human mind. This fills their wallets. This is good for them. If people think they can fix problems, they will get business so that they can make those car and mortgage payments. If the public thinks they are helpless, they will starve. Car mechanics and plumbers, etc etc etc also want to maximize their own public image.

But the truth appears to be that we really do not know all that much about how the mind works, or the science of the mind. In 500 years, we may well have it all figured out, but not yet.

THerefore, it may well be that all these people who report abductiosn and sightings, includung Streiber, are mentally ill. I have read Streiber's books, and I think it likely that he either made it all up, or is ill. With what illness exactly ... I refer you to my earlier comments: we really don't know beans about the mind yet.

ALso, it is now apparent to me that most UFOs (and probably all actual sightings) are nothing more than earthlights; the cause of this phenomenon is unknown, but it appears to be caused by some interaction between the sun, the atmosphere, and anomalies in local earth structure or the earth's magnetic field.

You can see and read EXCELLENT documentation of the most well-known case of earthlights (including scientific studies of the phenomenon by scientists) if you search the Net for the word "hessdalen" and lights/UFO. There is a very good online resaerch paper done by a physicist and engineer onsite at the location in Norway where these lights can be witnessed up close and personal on an ongoing basis; you can even see pix of the lights hours after they appear via webcams, etc., in color.

If you see the pix and read the online papers and websites (there are several good sites--keep looking) you can see what this UFO stuff is really all about, apparently to me, anyway.
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

No, we are not being "visited" (4.66 / 3) (#70)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:03:03 AM EST

I used to read that stuff avidly all the time. And I'd often wonder "Is this stuff real". My conclusion was always something like "I don't think so. On the other hand, how do I explain away all these facts?"

And that's just the problem with UFO/abduction stories (as well as many many other "marginal" phenomena such as ghosts, ESP, Bigfoot, etc). No explanation is needed because the story reported is not fact. Even a modicum of research into most of these stories reveals that the facts are far less extraordinary than reported, often to the point of being made up out of whole cloth.

Here's an example from my own life: I used to ride in a vanpool. One day, someone reported that he had read in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer than a snake had been seen in South America that was 50 ft long and 15 ft in diameter. I was outright derisive about the idea (those are the dimensions of a schoolbus, the thing would look like a loaf of bread--not to mention problems of scale). Another rider implicitly believed. Everyone else was on the fence (or unwilling to commit). The next day, the person brought the clip in and it told some more details (the name of the Peruvian village near where the snake was seen, for one) but the story was basically the same.

So I spent a few hours (probably no more than 2) on the Internet searching for this story. I traced it back up the AP Newswire to the original (Peruvian) paper that reported the story. Since the paper was in Spanish and my Spanish is rusty, I wrote to the editor and asked about the 50 ft snake. He wrote back saying that the phenomenon was actually a mud slide but that the villagers who witnessed the event have a superstition about a big snake and got confused when the reported it. The newswire picked the story up incorrectly and the PI just printed it from the wire directly.

A small amount of skepticism goes a long way and can be fun to do. As old as it is (published in 1980) the book "Flim Flam" by James Randi is a good place to get started. Also, CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation into Claims Of the Paranormal) publishes a 6-issues/year journal called "The Skeptical Inquirer". The only downside to both these publications is the tone often turns from scientific detachment to outright mocking--although I can't blame them much, after dealing with the same stupid claims again and again I'd do the same.



Play 囲碁
Reminds me of tech support.... (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by Nick Ives on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:34:55 PM EST

The only downside to both these publications is the tone often turns from scientific detachment to outright mocking--although I can't blame them much, after dealing with the same stupid claims again and again I'd do the same.
Nuff said =). -- Nick ho hum, i've been away for a while...

[ Parent ]
OT: the invalid arguments in this debate (1.00 / 2) (#71)
by boxed on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:50:41 AM EST

I posted a story that discusses how the arguments for and against the UFO phenomenon are flawed or incomplete. If you're interested in some actual debate go there.

Glad to see you're being matura about this (none / 0) (#88)
by regeya on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:22:22 PM EST

Thanks for playing.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

fanatical skepticism (3.20 / 5) (#75)
by xah on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:47:09 PM EST

One thing that I resent about the high-tech community is our intense skepticism of any claim that challenges the present state of our knowledge. I defy you to find one voice on this board that strongly supports the notion of alien abduction. Instead, we have post after post that in essence say, "No aliens here, case closed." Isn't this supposed to be a discussion? What kind of discussion includes only one viewpoint? Slashdot isn't any better. The recent discussion of a supposed link between cell phone use and eye cancer resulted in over 100 different comments, most of which intensively strove to prove that only a fool would believe the study had any merit whatsoever.

It could very well be that aliens have no interest in our planet and that cell phones are safer than pumpkin pie. It could also be the case that Area 51 is the alien equivalent of O'Hare and cell phones are their way of wiping out the human race with ocular tumors.

Let me state that I am highly skeptical of things like alien abduction, or Area 51 being the alien O'Hare. I will personally believe in aliens when one kicks me in the shin.

I'm also skeptical of claims that the popular belief in alien abduction is a syumptom of mass hysteria. It could indeed be mass hysteria, but shouldn't that hypothesis give rise to other questions? After all, one of the criteria in assessing the scientificity of a statement is whether it allows us to ask new questions. For example, after Newton's gravitational observations, we could ask the question of what causes gravity, and many others. In terms of mass hysteria, we could ask the question of what causes people to believe in white, spindly aliens with big heads. If movies were the primary cause of mass hysteria, we might expect people to believe in big, hairy aliens (like Wookies) or short teddy bear aliens (like Ewoks). After all, the Star Wars movies were more popular than Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This doesn't seem like a promising inquiry. Maybe the old standby of "mass hysteria" is more of a social critique than a statement that advances the science of psychology.

Additionally, what is behind all of the observations of weird things in the sky in the post-WW2 world? If man had always seen such odd things in the sky, would not ancient people have recorded them, just as they recorded astromical and natural phenonmena? I suppose it's likely that weather balloons and exotic military aircraft are behind many of these observations. But all of them? As for the exotic military aircraft, why is the military building machines that would apparently represent major technological advances without telling us? We found out about "stealth technology," but even that is less than mindblowing. You just build an airplane with an epoxy skin and no rounded corners--only sharp angles. The stuff that people claim to see would be far beyond our level of technology. Another important point here is that the US military, at least, is mostly concerned with building aircraft that cannot be detected by radar or the naked eye. So how can people pick them out of the sky? And why the intense defensiveness when it comes to these questions? Why is our government unwilling to open up the vaults of information? Maybe for good reasons. And maybe not.

Does anyone seriously believe that the era of science is over? Does anyone really think we have all the answers now, and all that remains to be done is engineering? The romantic age reaction to the Enlightenment had an important insight in that we need to retain our sense of wonder. Let's not close off our curiousity.

Again, I don't believe in aliens, and I won't until there is some good, hard proof. But in the meantime, I want to explore all of the peripheral questions that have cropped up over the years.

BTW, my expectation is that this comment will end up being rated at about "2." After all, nobody wants their opinion challenged.

I rate you a "1" (2.33 / 3) (#76)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:10:02 PM EST

But not becaus you "challenged my opinion". I did it because you are off-topic.

"Does anyone seriously believe that the era of science is over? Does anyone really think we have all the answers now, and all that remains to be done is engineering?"

No and no. But how does this relate to alien abductions? Not at all. The question was: are alien abductions real? The consensus is: There's no proof, therefore the answer is no.

Ranting and raving ("weird things in the sky", "uwilling to open the vaults of information", blah blah blah) isn't "exploring perpheral questions"--it's just unfounded jabber, something there is already plenty of in the fringes of science.

If you want to start a discussion, post some factual, verifiable material as a foundation, then express an opinion or ask a question.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Why, thank you! (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by xah on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:23:32 PM EST

I rated your post a "2," so I guess I gave you a double helping of goodwill! I'm going to have to take each part of your post in turn.

You wrote: "But not becaus you "challenged my opinion". I did it because you are off-topic."

I'm off-topic? Really? For saying that we should check out alien abductions? Are the posts that say we should not check out alien abductions "on topic"?

I wrote: "Does anyone seriously believe that the era of science is over? . . . . "

And you replied: "No and no. But how does this relate to alien abductions? Not at all. The question was: are alien abductions real? The consensus is: There's no proof, therefore the answer is no.

Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and if you want to believe that a lack of human-garnered proof determines what reality is, then you go right ahead. All I ask is that you please "include me in the topic," so to speak. If the era of science is over, then obviously there are no aliens because we know everything already.

You write: "Ranting and raving ("weird things in the sky", "uwilling to open the vaults of information", blah blah blah) isn't "exploring perpheral questions"--it's just unfounded jabber, something there is already plenty of in the fringes of science."

Hmmm. "Ranting and raving." "Unfounded jabber." "Blah blah blah." There seems to be a lot of that in the comments to this K5 article. The fanatical skepticists really go for that. It's too bad they lie on the fringes of science. Scientists, remember, like to keep their minds open.

You write: If you want to start a discussion, post some factual, verifiable material as a foundation, then express an opinion or ask a question.

Funny. I wasn't trying to start a discussion. But it appears that I have, and I guess I don't mind that I did. My point, of course, didn't involve the facts, only our method of inquiry into them. I feel we should be more open minded, that's all.

Cheers!

[ Parent ]

Belief vs reality (none / 0) (#97)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:36:04 PM EST

Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and if you want to believe that a lack of human-garnered proof determines what reality is, then you go right ahead.

No one I've read is making any such claim. The issue at hand isn't whether the aliens actually exist. It's whether we should BELIEVE that they exist. That's a subtly different thing. The aliens either exist or they do not. Our knowledge and/or belief of their existence is totally irrelevant to their actuality. The question is, is the evidence that currently exists sufficient to warrant any serious consideration of their existence? My answer, and that of many others, is that the evidence is vastly insufficient. When or if more evidence is discovered, I'll evaluate that evidence and may change my mind. However, anyone who takes their existence seriously based upon the current, publicly available evidence is taking a huge and logically unwarranted leap.

[ Parent ]

reality wins (none / 0) (#104)
by xah on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:05:43 AM EST

I'm not saying we should believe in aliens because other people do. I'm saying we should investigate why they have these beliefs. Is it mass hysteria? Mental illness? Or maybe they're seeing "earth lights" or something else we don't fully understand.

[ Parent ]
How very PC of you (none / 0) (#103)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:24:23 AM EST

"Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and if you want to believe that a lack of human-garnered proof determines what reality is, then you go right ahead."

I'm not saying that lack of proof == nonexistence. OTOH, your only basis for saying we should "check out" alien abduction is that a lot of people believe in it. So what? Belief, in and of itself, means nothing. There can be no rational, meaningful and fruitful discussion of any topic where the only foundation is belief. There must also be fact. Alien abduction, so far, has produced no facts around which to hold a discussion, therefore pleas to do so are pointless. "If the era of science is over, then obviously there are no aliens because we know everything already."

Who said the era of science is over? Not me! I'm all for things like SETI and I would respect a scientific search for aliens on or near Earth. I would even respect a scientific investigation into claims that people have been abducted by and experimented on by aliens. In fact, that's just my point: those investigations have been done and there have been found to be no merit to the claims. At a certain point, discussion of alien abductions is exactly as relevant as discussion of the four bodily humours.

"Scientists, remember, like to keep their minds open."

False. Scientists like to be free from pre-conceptions and like to persuaded by the data and only the data. But once the data is in, analyzed and found conclusive, scientists can't keep going over the old stuff--they'd never make any forward progress. Are there any scientists who are open to the idea of a flat earth? How about humans and dinosaurs living side by side? How about alchemy?

Or better yet, find an real astronomer who is open to the idea of being able to see heaven through a telescope. There are millions of people who, if asked where heaven is, will point upwards. Does the firm belief of millions require me to be open to the idea of a physical heaven located an unknown distance above our heads? You can feel free to waste your time checking and re-checking, discussing and re-discussing, and being so open-minded your brains fall out to claims made by whackos--I'll continue to rely on scientific investigation and fact-based reasoning.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
I rate YOU a "1" (none / 0) (#93)
by regeya on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:51:44 PM EST

Simply because you rated someone else a 1 for being offtopic, when they were in fact right on topic.

> The question was: are alien abductions real? The
> consensus is: There's no proof, therefore the answer is no.

Is there proof that the universe does NOT revolve around Earth? There's no proof, therefore the answer is yes.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Disccusion needs 2 sides, evidence and arugments (none / 0) (#79)
by Daemin on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:09:11 PM EST

As far as i know, the only "evidence" for alien abductioins is the number of people of who claim it is true.


If i was going to belive something soley because a bunch of people calim its true, i would be christian as there are about a billion of them. Hell id belive in santa clause and the easter bunny then too, cause when i was a kid everyone told me they really existed.

[ Parent ]
right, so let's investigate (none / 0) (#83)
by xah on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:00:19 PM EST

You make an excellent point. Why should we believe something just because other people believe it? The beliefs of others are not reliable bases for scientific knowledge. And yet, alien abduction is a widespread belief in the USA, and in other countries. I would like to know why people believe as they do. Is something wrong with their heads, like mass hysteria or mental illness? Or have they actually seen phenomena that science does not adequately understand yet?

Let's take the example of ball lightning. For several years, many people who experienced ball lightning believed it was evidence of alien or supernatural presences. Did science turn write off their observations as mass hysteria? Maybe for a while, but eventually scientists investigated. Now we have some inroads into ball lightning. We can finally talk about it scientifically. So, let's investigate what people see. We'll no doubt learn something.

[ Parent ]

Logic (none / 0) (#98)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:47:10 PM EST

And yet, alien abduction is a widespread belief in the USA, and in other countries. I would like to know why people believe as they do.

I don't know that it's "widespread" but a significant fraction of the populace do believe in UFO abduction. Why? Because many people don't understand logic (just check the posts in this thread) and don't base their beliefs on rationality.

[ Parent ]

Occam's razor... (none / 0) (#82)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 04:21:44 PM EST

My skepticism doesn't come from any questioning of our current state of knowledge. It comes from a rational analysis of the claim. And, rationally, the claims of alien abduction belong in the "extremely unlikely" category. It's not quite the same as the existence of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, as another poster suggested, because those two characters posess capabilities that violate the known physical laws. However, there is no scientific law which forbids the evolution of a horse with a horn on it's forehead. Do you, then, keep an "open mind" about the existence of unicorns? Or do you say that, while it's technically possible, it's highly unlikely that such an animal exists?

[ Parent ]
. . . needs to be kept sharp (2.00 / 1) (#84)
by xah on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:00:55 PM EST

In response to: "Do you, then, keep an "open mind" about the existence of unicorns? Or do you say that, while it's technically possible, it's highly unlikely that such an animal exists?"

I don't see the difference. If you wanted the assumption I make in day to day life, I'd tell you there are no unicorns. Have you made an extensive, personal search for unicorns, or are you basing your assumption on the unicorn's non-existence on secondary authorities? Maybe you'd say: "My teacher told me there were no unicorns, so there can't be any." What else did your teacher tell you?

[ Parent ]

Reason... (none / 0) (#95)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:14:04 PM EST

The difference is just as you said: the daily assumption. The bottom line is that I don't believe unicorns exist. I consider the possibility so remote that I discount it. I could find out tomorrow that a living unicorn had been discovered, in which case my belief on that particular issue would change. On the other hand, I keep an open mind about the interbreeding of Neanderthals with Home Sapiens. I think it's unlikely, based upon the evidence we currently have, but I don't discount the possibility.

I don't, however, base my non-belief in unicorns upon what my teacher, or any other one person, told me. I base it upon what I learned from a plethora of unconnected sources. (I also base it upon the knowledge that evidence of their existence would be of intense scientific and cultural interest. If any evidence was found, it would become widely known quite rapidly. Not conclusive, of course, as some hermit could have it stored in his attic or some African tribe in the heart of the jungle could worship them as gods.)

A huge and vastly entangled web of evidence supports the non-existence of unicorns, as well as many other things my teachers taught me. As I said in my reply to regeya, either the world is pretty much as I believe it to be or I'm the victim of a vastly improbable hoax. I'll choose to believe the former. Occam's razor.

[ Parent ]

being? (none / 0) (#105)
by xah on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:09:13 AM EST

I agree. We can't know with absolute certainty anything, so Occam's razor, or Descartes's faith, leads us to believe that we aren't being completely fooled, a la "The Matrix." Still, it's important to investigate unexplained phenomena.

[ Parent ]
Galapagos Islands? (1.00 / 1) (#87)
by regeya on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:20:21 PM EST

What if I decide not to believe in natural selection based on this series of criterion?

1. Darwin based his theories on his work in the Galapagos Islands
2. I have never seen evidence of the Galapagos Islands firsthand
3. Since Darwin supposedly did his work in a place I deem mythical, his work is a fiction
4. Therefore, his theories on natural selection are unprovable, and are therefore undeniably false

As far as that goes, I can claim that Darwin is as real as Santa Claus. After all, all I have is antecdotal evidence that Darwin ever existed (if he was, indeed, real)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Repeatability (none / 0) (#92)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:47:27 PM EST

If you limit your beliefs to things you have personally experienced, you're going to believe very little. But you're missing a couple of points and your logic doesn't follow as laid out in any event.

The key issue you're missing is repeatability.

I've never seen the Galapagos Islands but I can find references to them in hundreds of places. I can either choose to believe that 1) the Galapagos Islands exist, 2) the Galapagos Islands do not exist and literally thousands of people are involved in perpetrating a hoax of incredible proportions or 3) one of various other hypotheses that question the very nature of my reality (ie, I may be a disembodied brain in a mad scientist's laboratory). (That covers all the possibilities I can think of at this moment. Feel free to add more.) Which of these possibilities is more reasonable?

Your list above provides zero evidence that the theory is either improvable or false. Given 1 and 2, it does not logically follow that if the Galapagos Islands are mythical, Darwin's work is a fiction. There are numerous other possibilities. For example, Darwin could have changed the name of the Island to prevent others from despoiling the place. Darwin could be a pseudonym for someone who, not wanting to be recognized, placed his investigations on a mythical island. Etc, etc, etc. Finally, 4 does not follow from 1 and 2, whether or not you accept the validity of 3. Even if the Galapagos Islands were imaginary, it would say nothing about Darwin's theories. Likewise, even if Darwin himself never existed, that too says nothing about the validity of the Theory of Natural Selection. The theory stands on it's own merit. Either it correctly describes the way the world operates or it does not. The theory makes predictions which can be tested. If those predictions are accurate, that is evidence for the theory. If the predictions are inaccurate, that's evidence the theory is incorrect. This is called the Scientific Method.

There's still the issue of actually testing the predictions of the theory, however, and I can't lay claim to having independently tested any of the predictions. Why then do I believe in evolution? Repeatability. The tests CAN be performed, and they CAN be repeated. They have, in fact, been performed numerous times by numerous people. I'm faced with the same dilemma as in the existence of the Galapagos. Either there is strong scientific evidence for the Theory of Natural Selection, or I'm the victim of a vastly improbably hoax.

None of this is the case for either the existence of the unicorn or the existence of UFO abductions.

If you're truly interested in learning, I suggest you begin by digging into logic. A good foundation in logic and reasoning will enable you to evaluate ideas and claims much more acutely.

[ Parent ]

I haven't been there, so I don't know for sure (none / 0) (#107)
by xah on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:42:23 AM EST

We've reached the important philosophical issues now. What should our methodology be? On the basis of what ontology, or understanding of reality, whould we proceed? Is prediction possible?

First, I follow the theory of evolution. I would choose it over creationism. And yet, evolution has never been experimentally verified. Scientists have never seen one species mutate into another. We've seen only changes within species, such as the moths changing color over several generations, that, when extrapolated over many years, results in a good argument for evolution.

Evolution is almost certainly not complete. One controversy is illustrative. Does evolution occur slowly and steadily over millions of years, or does it occur quickly at times of crisis? Stephen Jay Gould favors the rapid change hypothesis, while others favor the incremental change hypothesis. This is a far-reaching controversy. We can really only guess. We do not have many deep, probing questions we can yet ask. For example, we'd like to ask questions of what mechanism kicks off evolution. What circumstances will it occur in? What are the triggers? Do multiple mutations influence one another? Etcetera. The theory of evolution has a long way to go before we ask deeper questions than that. And yet evolution is one of the most solid theories science has.

In a nearby thread, B'Trey wrote: "Why then do I believe in evolution? Repeatability. The tests CAN be performed, and they CAN be repeated. They have, in fact, been performed numerous times by numerous people."

Well, I disagree. This is well into the realm of philosophy, but that kind of stuff interests me. This "repeatability" concept is alike to Karl Popper's falsificationism--one of the chief tenets of modern social science. Falsificationism evolved out of the 1920's Vienna School (which included Bertrand Russell) and its proposal of "verificationism." The Vienna school said that the hypothesis is unscientific unless it can be verified. Well, okay. How would you test gravity in its every occurrence throughout the universe? The problems with verificationism soon became apparent. To the rescue soon came falsificationism. This held the converse to be true: that if the hypothesis can in some way be falsified, then and only then is it scientific. (BTW, how would you falsify evolution?) The problem with falsificationism is that it assumes a positivist and Humean world of behaviors and events. The world can be divided into so many slices. Each slice is discrete. The way we slice it may be arbitrary, but that is the only way it can be.

This positivist model grew out of some basic observations. Cogito ergo sum. Okay, but what about the rest of the world? Descartes affirmed the reality of the world by relying on faith. God would not be so cruel or sly as to deceive us with a world of imaginary tables, chairs, walls, and trees, said the great rationalist. Thus, the world must be real.

In our unfaithful science, how do we know that which is beyond our own mind? The subject of this inquiry is ontology. Ontology investigates "being" and what "being" is. On the other hand, epistemology is the study of knowledge. It addresses the question of how we know what we know.

If you dig beneath the surface of many scientific disputes, you will find problems of ontology. Ontology is more than an assumption. It is our understanding of the real world. One critic who finds ontology to be significant has written:

"To see science as a social activity, and as structured and discriminating in its thought, constitutes a significant step in our understanding of science. But, I shall argue, without the support of a revised ontology, and in particular a conception of the world as stratified and differentiated too, it is impossible to steer clear of the Scylla of holding the structure dispensable in the long run (back to empiricism) without being pulled into the Charybdis of justifying it exclusively in terms of the fixed or changing needs of the scientific community (a form of neo-Kantian pragmatism exemplified by e.g. Toulmin and Kuhn). In this study I attempt to show how such a revised ontology is in fact presupposed by the social activity of science. The basic principle of realist philosophy of science, viz. that perception gives us access to things and experimental activity access to structures that exist independently of us, is very simple. Yet the full working out of this principle implies a radical account of the nature of causal laws, viz. as expressing tendencies of things, not conjunctions of events. And it implies that a constant conjunction of events is no more a necessary than a sufficient condition for a causal law." (typo corrected) Roy Bhaskar, "A Realist Theory of Science," 2nd. Ed., 1975, Verso, London, p. 9.

One of critical realism's insights is the identification of the "epistemic fallacy," a confusion of epistemology and ontology. One commits an epistemic fallacy when one supposes that the structures of the world rest upon the prospect of human observation. Wide operation of the fallacy has degenerated social science: in lieu of studying the world, we study only what (we think) we can know. Is the world limited to what we can know? No, says critical realism.

The solution is two-dimensional, literally. Bhaskar proposes dividing science into two dimensions: transitive and intransitive. Empirical realism is a popular school. Unfortunately, it conflates sense-experience, common sense, and knowledge of basic facts (intransitive), with scientific observations (reduced by empirical realism to artificial observations of constant conjunctions) (transitive).

Bhaskar calls these the intransitive and transitive dimensions. Critical realism attempts to avoid conflating the two. Science can make use of obvious facts, intuition, and analogies. While this would be disaster if our goal were prediction, it is absolutely necessary if we wish to break free of the constraints of the predictive mode. In this way, critical realism sets the philosophical foundation for a useful, new science.

Now, many scientists deny that they are victims of the epistemic fallacy, but they need to keep careful watch. A Humean must deny the intransitive dimension or risk the purity of his experimental (or computational) observations. A Humean must furthermore equate an empirical law with a constant conjunction of events. It can take a lot of work to figure out how to manipulate the data into finding a suitable constant conjunction. By finding empirical laws in constant conjunctions of events, a Humean finds that the structures of the world are dependent on the prospects of human observation, and so commits the epistemic fallacy.

The harder that predicitive social "science" attempts to predict the future, the poorer its success in explanation. Why were US retail sales lower than economists predicted last year? See <http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001218/bs/holiday_sales_dc_2.html>. (link may be old) We'll have to blame it on the weather unless we develop a theory that can explain social phenomena.

Like social science, natural science should not attempt to predict the world, only to explain it. Natural science also has in the past, and should continue to make use of the intransitive dimension (e.g. intution), and should not confine itself to preconceived notions. Thus, we should investigate proposed alternatives to evolution and purported alien abductions with the same vigor that we investigate other phenomena.

In the end, although we should take information from any source (epistemological relativism), we must scrutinize all of this information and carefully form our conclusions (judgemental rationalism). Roy Bhaskar, Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation.

BTW, part of this originally came from a post on the Post-Keyensian Thought mailing list. I did not plagiarize it, since I wrote that post myself.

[ Parent ]

Why do people believe this.... (3.50 / 2) (#81)
by Daemin on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:30:38 PM EST

... and belive in god, but not belive in santa clause or the easter bunny?

The evidence for all 4 is exaclty the same: the number of people that calim it is true.

Fortunetly, even if 4 billion people belive a false statement is true, it doesnt magicaly become true. Its still false.

Maybe if i get enough people to belive im a billionare, it will come true!

I do not belive aliens are abducting humans for study. This doesnt mean that i

-dont belive aliens exist
-dont belive aliens might want to abduct humans

and that first one doesnt mean i do believ aleins exist either.


But if people are being abducted, why does no one in the bed, house, neighbor hood, radar installations etc. etc. etc. etc. ever see anything? its only the abductee that sees it.

People have said in this thread "lack of evidence doesnt mean something is false." Ah the cry of the psudeo intellectual! You cant prove me wrong so i might be right!

A magic pink fairy made all the flowers in the world. You cant prove its false so it might be true!! Sure we cant prove it wrong, but that doesnt stop it from sounding stupid and ridiculous, and doesnt stop me from thinking anyone who belives it is gullable and a moron as well.

What they neglect to mention is that it is also foolish to believe something that has no supporting evidence, and it is assuredly not scientific or reasonable to do so.

And eye witness accounts are not evidence in a scientific test. THe number of people who calim a proposition is true has no bearing on its truth or falcity.

Ill belive in alien abduction when i see it happen live on national tv, recorded by serveral different indepent observers simultaneously, with the ship being naked eye visable and tackable on radar.

-Finding the truth is not a democratic process

Fanning the flames :-) (2.50 / 2) (#89)
by regeya on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:32:00 PM EST

Wow--I never dreamed this would get as heated as this. :-)

Part of the reason I decided to write this was because of a recent story on prayer in school, and people's criteria for believing/disbelieving in phenomena. It struck me then, and it strikes me now, that the general consensus was that "if [foo] kicks me in the shin, I'll believe."

I ask you this:

* Have you seen firsthand evidence of quantum phenomena?
* Have you firsthand proof that Charles Darwin ever existed?
* Have you seen a species evolve before your eyes?
* Have you seen firsthand evidence that black holes exist?
* Have you seen firsthand evidence that DNA is the "genetic building blocks" of life on Earth?

Have you seen these, or have you been *told* these things are true? Don't get me wrong. I firmly believe that being a skeptic is a GOOD thing. I also believe that one can get too much of a good thing. :-) Personally, I'm indifferent about the alien abduction phenomenon. I have no suspicions of having been taken from my home to be operated on in the night by strange creatures from another solar system. I also have no concrete evidence of anything else that explains all cases. It is, I think, an unprovable claim and therefore should be treated as an unknown. Again, I don't particularly believe in the phenomenon, but it offends me to see so many people treat such subjects in such absolute terms.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Some thoughts... (4.33 / 3) (#94)
by sec on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:57:35 PM EST

Let's look at this from the very beginning.

In order for aliens to be visiting us, they have to exist. They need a star, and a planet to live on. We've already discovered plenty of stars, so that's not a problem. The planets are a little more problematic, but not much. We have some tentative evidence of planets around other stars, but no, at least as far as I know, solid proof.

Nonetheless, I don't think it unreasonable to believe that there are at least some planets out there with at least the potential to support life. But how many? A handful? Thousands? Millions? Bajillions? We can but guess.

Another thing to consider: Is it possible that life could have evolved in the absence of an earth-like planet? We really have no basis to say either way.

OK, the next step is for life to actually have evolved. Seeing as it happened here, I don't think it unreasonable to believe that it would also happen on any other earthlike planet. But still, as our experience is limited to a sample size of one, we really can't make anything but guesses as to how likely this is to actually occur.

But the mere appearance of life isn't enough. The life would have to evolve to a point where it could actually build a spacecraft that could cover the distances between their planet and ours. This is something of a problem, because our present scientific knowledge seems to indicate that interstellar travel would be extremely slow and cumbersome. Perhaps it is possible that some alien society, far more advanced than our own, has developed a way to travel these vast distances more easily. If, and it's a big if, this is true, it certainly stands to reason that the number of planets supporting alien societies with this kind of advanced technology is a very small subset of the number of planets on which life evolved. How small? Again, we can but guess.

And, if these aliens are advanced enough to cover the vast distances between the stars, how come they keep crashing in the southwestern United States? :P

Finally, if these aliens, assuming that they exist and have the means to get here, were visiting us, that means that they'd have to have the inclination to come over here. I don't think it's a given that any aliens that might exist would also be interested in us.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Only that we can draw no conclusions. Personally, I strongly suspect that there are other civilizations out there, but it's a big leap from believing that to believing that aliens are visiting and abducting us.

Indeed, I think that the ultimate answer to the current crop of abductions lies in the realm of psycology, not astronomy.



Minor point... (none / 0) (#96)
by B'Trey on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:22:22 PM EST

Another thing to consider: Is it possible that life could have evolved in the absence of an earth-like planet? We really have no basis to say either way.

While this is true, the life forms which evolved on a non-earth like planet would likely be very different from us. The aliens in the abduction tales have all been humanoid with no sign of a breathing aparatus, indicating that they're comfortable in our atmosphere, and operate without apparent difficulty in our gravity. That makes it likely that these particular aliens originated on an earth-like planet.

[ Parent ]

But... (none / 0) (#99)
by sec on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:34:59 PM EST

While this is true, the life forms which evolved on a non-earth like planet would likely be very different from us. The aliens in the abduction tales have all been humanoid with no sign of a breathing aparatus, indicating that they're comfortable in our atmosphere, and operate without apparent difficulty in our gravity. That makes it likely that these particular aliens originated on an earth-like planet.

Supposing that aliens have visited the earth, they are obviously much more technologically advanced than us. Who says that they don't have devices which compensate for the differences while being small enough to not be obvious to a human?



[ Parent ]

Who they are? (none / 0) (#100)
by tftp on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:10:21 AM EST

The aliens in the abduction tales have all been humanoid with no sign of a breathing aparatus, indicating that they're comfortable in our atmosphere, and operate without apparent difficulty in our gravity.

There is a theory saying that Greys are humans from another time. This would be the only reasonable explanation why they may be interested in biological experiments. Any other species, unrelated to us, would find no use of bodies of humans - like we don't mess with dolphins, for example. Of course, this is only a theory, and it does not prove that Greys exist in first place.

[ Parent ]

Maybe, but the stories of sightings are garbage. (4.50 / 2) (#101)
by kapital on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:20:34 AM EST

If aliens were to visit the Earth, one of two things would happen:

1. They want to stay hidden, and use advanced nanotechnology to monitor us, collect samples of dna (from which they could clone a human in their labs for further study - much easier than abducting someone from their room at night, then putting them back later), etc. As a result, we don't even know that we're being visited.

or:

2. They want us to see them, and show up in big "Independance Day" style ships.

But this whole idea that when aliens visit the Earth they forget to turn off their headlights is silly. If they're capable of interstellar travel, they're more then capable of hiding from a bunch of stupid monkeys.

Excluded middle (none / 0) (#109)
by pin0cchio on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 04:06:37 PM EST

one of two things would happen: 1. They want to stay hidden, or 2. They want us to see them

Or 3. They don't give a fsck whether they're noticed or not, and they're parking their vehicles here just as they would park them anywhere else.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Are we being bored? (1.00 / 1) (#106)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:25:04 AM EST

I know I am.

Exactly when did Geraldo Rivera take over Kuro5hin?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
I have witnessed a "flying disc" (5.00 / 2) (#108)
by maynard on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:47:01 PM EST

OK. In September of 1994 I saw a "flying disc" perform seemingly impossible maneuvers in broad daylight. Before having witnessed this I considered "UFO's" and "flying saucers" to be the realm of quacks and nuts and not to be taken seriously. Now I've changed my mind.

I don't know what I witnessed. I never saw the occupants of the object, I touched or saw the object up close, but I'm absolutely convinced I saw an intelligently controlled vehicle which performed well outside the envelope of anything else I've seen take flight. This has completely shaken my view of traditional science, as the majority of the scientific community simply will not even consider conducting research on this subject. I now believe it deserves serious funding.

The only serious peer reviewed scientific journal willing to publish findings related to real UFO research is the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which has published numerous dissenting scientific research on a wide variety of topics such as Remote Viewing, Dowsing, UFO's, Cold Fusion, and a number of other unacceptable topics in most peer reviewed journals. The expressed desire of the editors of this journal is to provide a forum for dissenting research which otherwise would not get published. This is not a quack journal, nor is it a magazine out to collect readership. Submissions must have been written by those with academic credentials, and the peer review forum checks primary data.

You should not believe that aliens are buzzing our skies simply because I claim I saw a "flying disc". Nor should you believe this is truth simply because thousands of people also claim similar stories as witnesses. But to disregard these stories as foolish and unworthy of research because they lack physical evidence really shows a bias against researching the unknown. And there have been several cases of significant physical evidence which suggests a need for further research. Military cases with multiple RADAR locks along with multiple witnesses; multiple airline pilots witnessing an event along with civilian RADAR locks, and far too many police claiming to have witnessed an event. If this were a trial there would be plenty of evidence to convict, yet there's not enough evidence to support a University level research program?

I saw a "flying disc" at about one quarter the diameter of my thumbnail at arms length perform simply outrageous maneuvers before speeding away at an impossible acceleration. I've grown up around airports (because my father used to own a Cessna single engine airplane), taken flying lessons, been in balloons, helicopters, passenger jets, and a wide range of single engine prop planes. I'm quite used to how planes perform in the air and am absolutely convinced that what I witnessed was both physical and nothing prosaic. I SAW THIS. What more can I say?

--Maynard

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

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