|Skeptics: Let's Not Ignore Them Completely
by Carl Mason
Posted: 14:00 January 19, 2007
This photo was taken by Liz who was trying out her new digital camera. She was walking with her boy friend in Beeston, which is South-East of Nottingham, England on Monday May 1, 2006. At no time did she or her friend see the object she photographed. Read original story.
Not so long ago, a long, alcohol-fuelled, late-evening chinwag with a close friend turned, almost wearily, to UFOs. We’d exhausted politics, sport and even sex so UFOs it had to be. Normally I avoid that topic with this particular friend as we both know each other’s stance: I’m absolutely convinced that there’s a central core of truth to the phenomenon while he’s a dedicated skeptic, certain that the ’alien craft’ theory is bunkum.
On this occasion though, I decided to try a new tack: I actually listened to what he had to say and though he didn’t shake my belief in any way, some of his objections actually made sense! This was a novelty as I - and I’m sure many ’believers’- tend to mentally shut out the sceptics arguments, feeling that no-one who disagrees with us can have anything interesting to say. So, let me play devil’s advocate for once and state his objections to some claims of UFO phenomena.
Take, for instance, the (seemingly) ever-growing number of UFOs ’discovered’ later by a photographer even though he/she apparently saw nothing at the time. The sophistication (or lack of it) of the camera doesn’t seem to matter; there sits a fully-fledged UFO, often in sharp focus and showing no sign of motion, meaning it wasn‘t simply too fast for the human eye. Odd, especially as in the past this also happened with roll-film cameras, thus weakening any claim that digital cameras are in some way uniquely sensitive to a UFO’s visual wave-length. Furthermore, my friendly skeptic declaimed, have you noticed something curious about so many of these ’unseen UFO’ photos? "Why is it that the photographer snapping a wife/favourite car/ pretty lake, often places the subject right at the bottom of the frame, leaving lots and lots of sky in which a UFO can miraculously appear later. How convenient!" I must admit that the same thought had occurred to me on looking at some photos.
Another of my friend’s reservations is about reports of high-flying UFOs that meander slowly through the sky, apparently in no hurry to get anywhere. Despite the strong similarity to a balloon, the witness will often claim that couldn’t be the answer as the object was moving against the wind. "Ah" says my friend, who’s a pilot, "the witness is probably basing his assumption on the wind direction at ground level and any meteorologist will tell you that the wind at altitude is often blowing in a different, sometimes very different, direction."
Now one could, no doubt, shoot down those arguments, though my friend did have one other complaint that I do share - the tendency of many UFO reports to speak of "the craft" rather than "the object" or "the phenomenon", even when the evidence in a particular case is fairly tenuous. Surely a UFO sighting should become a ’craft’ only when all other explanations have been totally eliminated. Even that fine writer and researcher Timothy Good trots out ’the craft’ description a little too readily in his otherwise superb new book "Need to Know".
Let’s stick to a less-committed description for a UFO until we’re convinced (as sure as we ever can be) that it’s ‘nuts-and-bolts’ rather than ‘smoke and mirrors‘.