A scientist explains why it's so hard for scientists to investigate UFOs

Originally published at: A scientist explains why it's so hard for scientists to investigate UFOs | Boing Boing

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Waiting for the usual rants about the existence of aliens and the analysis of the Navy video in 3…2…1…


Nice to see a level-headed approach to this.

Hopefully not relevant to the UAP thing, but another characteristic of scientists is that they tend to be fairly credulous, generally not factoring in the possibility that they might be being actively deceived. When studying nature, there are lots of issues – instrumental effects, selection effects, investigator bias, etc. – but active deception is usually not one of them.

I wonder if we could get some illusionists or technical SFX people on to the UAP case?


Yep! Scientists are human and can be fooled like the rest of us. Scientists are not necessarily skeptical thinkers, and don’t typically know the history of skeptical topics like this. If they knew that whatever lens flare they are looking at credulously has been seen and debunked a hundred times over the years, they wouldn’t bother looking into it.

One of the key signs of something being true is that the harder you look, the better the quality of evidence gets. Mainstream scientists are not taught the history of topics like this, so they don’t know that people have been looking at the same garbage evidence for 70 years and it never gets any better.

This is a lot of what James Randi tried to do. He was outreach to the science community to show them how this stuff works. Scientists know that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but they don’t know that this evidence has been the same trash for 70 years.

I’ve learned the hard way to bow out of this thread now, because the true believers will be here any moment and life is short. One more time, since people will straw man it- yes, aliens are real. It’s a near mathematical certainty. No they are not visiting earth. The evidence for that is garbage. Okay byyyyyyeeeeee


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I remember when I was 10 or 11 systematically checking out the books on UFO’s at the library. I went through all of them, each time thinking “THIS is the book that will have the answer!” At a certain point you realize there is no such book - that’s why it’s a mystery.

On a tangentially related note - “In one week, government scientists will release a report that has no real new information in it. It will finally get to the bottom of the UFO mystery by giving them a different name - UAP’s. Kooks will be outraged, as usual.”

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That list of challenges made me want to say: Welcome to the Social Sciences, where the approach is rigorous and scientific, but discreet payoff is never guaranteed.


To put it short: You can’t formulate a scientific theory if no possible theory would be testable.

And of course a serious scientist would not patch up their theories with any old horse shit they can come up with while the are up against people who would.

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