Sacred Texts  Esoteric & Occult   Mysteries
Buy CD-ROM   Buy Books about UFOs
Index  Previous  Next 

An Astronomer's Personal Statement on UFOs, by Alan Hale

 * Forwarded from 'UFO'
 * Originally by David Bloomberg, 1:2430/2112
 * Originally to All
 * Originally dated Fri 28 Mar 1997 12:28P

 -*- Forwarded message follows: -*-

Also from the most recent issue of Skeptical Inquirer:

                 An Astronomer's Personal Statement on UFOs

                                 Alan Hale

When I am confronted with beliefs about UFOs or other paranormal
phenomena -- or, for that matter, just about anything -- I am guided by
three basic principles, to wit:

  1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The discovery
     that there are other intelligent beings in the universe -- and, as a
     corollary, that life and intelligence can and has evolved at locations
     other than Earth -- and that, moreover, these beings are visiting
     Earth on a semi-regular basis in spacecraft that seem to defy the laws
     of physics as we now know them, would unquestionably rank as the
     greatest discovery in the history of science, and most definitely is
     an extraordinary claim. Therefore, in order for me to accept it, you
     must produce extraordinary evidence. What might this evidence be? For
     one thing, the aliens themselves. Not some story where someone says
     that someone says that someone says that they saw aliens, but the
     actual physical aliens themselves, where I and other trustworthy and
     competent scientists and individuals can study and communicate with
     them. I'd like to examine their spacecraft and learn the physical
     principles under which it operates. I'd like a ride on that
     spacecraft. I'd like to see their star charts and see where the aliens
     come from. I'd like to know the astronomical, physical, chemical, and
     biological conditions of their home world and solar system, and how
     they compare with and contrast with ours. If possible, I'd like to
     visit their home world, and any other worlds that might be within
     their sphere of influence. In other words, I want the aliens visible
     front and center, where there can be no reasonable doubt as to their
     existence. Stories about "lights" or "things" in the sky do not
     impress me, especially when such reports come from people who have no
     idea of the vast array of natural and man-made phenomena that are
     visible in the sky if one would only take the time to look.

  2. The burden of proof is on the positive. If you are making an
     extraordinary claim, the burden is on you to produce the extraordinary
     evidence to prove that you are correct; the burden is not on me to
     prove that you are wrong. Furthermore, you must prove your case by
     providing the direct and compelling evidence for it; you can't prove
     it by eliminating a few token explanations and then crying, "Well,
     what else can it be?"

  3. Occam's Razor: If one is confronted with a series of phenomena for
     which there exists more than one viable explanation, one should choose
     the simplest explanation which fits all the observed facts. It is an
     undeniable fact that many people have seen, or at least claimed to
     see, objects in the sky and on the ground for which they have no
     explanation. But it is also an undeniable fact that people can make
     mistakes about their observations. It is an undeniable fact that
     reports can come from people who are unaware of the various phenomena
     that are visible in the sky and from people who are not equipped or
     trained at making reliable scientific observations. It is an
     undeniable fact that a person's preconceived notions and expectations
     can affect his/her observations. It is an undeniable fact that some
     people will lie and will create hoaxes for any one of various reasons.
     Taking all these undeniable facts together, the simplest explanation
     -- to me, anyway -- for the UFO phenomenon is that every report is
     either a hoax or is a mistake of some sort. If this explanation is
     incorrect, then you have to increase the sphere of undeniable facts;
     and for this, see points 1) and 2) above.

To me, it seems extremely likely that life has started and evolved at other
sites throughout the universe, quite possibly in a great number of places.
It also seems rather possible that, at some of those sites, evolution has
created an intelligent species which has developed technology far in
advance of our own and which might be capable of interstellar space flight.
Despite the incredible distances between stars, and despite the vast
dispersion in evolutionary states that must exist throughout the sphere of
races that have achieved some sort of sentience, it is possible --
although, to me, extremely unlikely -- that one or more of these races has
visited Earth within the relatively recent past. Indeed, I would be
absolutely ecstatic if any such visits have taken place. No one would be
happier than me to meet with and converse with these beings and, I dare
say, there are very few people who are better prepared intellectually and
emotionally to deal with this prospect if it were to occur. But again, I
want the direct evidence for their existence; I want the aliens themselves.
I don't want to hear stories about some "thing" that some person somewhere
might have seen.

As a lifelong amateur astronomer, as a professional astrono-mer, as someone
who has read countless science fiction stories and scientific essays, I
have devoted my life to unraveling the secrets of the universe and to
pushing humanity and humanity's knowledge as far into space as I can. (This
is my reason for claiming that there are few people in the world who are
better prepared than I am to meet with an alien race; if there is any human
being who could meet with alien beings, it would be someone like me.) At
the same time, I suspect there is hardly anyone who watches and studies the
sky more than I do, and while I have almost continuously observed the sky
for most of my lifetime, I have yet to see a single object for which there
was not a prosaic explanation. I have seen such diverse phenomena as:
fireballs, rocket launches, satellite re-entries, comets, auroras, bright
planets, novae, orbiting satellites, ionospheric experiments, high-altitude
balloons -- all of which have been reported as "UFOs" by uninformed
witnesses. If indeed there are alien spacecraft flying around Earth with
the frequency with which UFO devotees are claiming, then I must ask how
come I have never seen anything remotely resembling such an object, while
at the same time I have managed to see all these various other types of

In summary, I consider it likely that there are advanced alien races
somewhere "out there," and I remain open to the possibility that, unlikely
as it may seem, one or more such races could be visiting Earth. But if so,
where are they? If they possess the technology capable of traveling
interstellar distances, then they are so far ahead of us that there can be
no reason for them to be afraid of us. If they wish to hide from us, they
could do so easily; if they don't wish to, then they have no need to play
games with us and only show themselves to a few unwitting individuals. Let
them reveal themselves to humanity at large, to our scientists, and to me.

-!- msgedsq 2.0.5
 ! Origin: If it's not the 4th of July, it must be Christmas  (1:2430/2112)

 * Origin: META_UFO where all the fun is... (1:105/64.33)

Next: Hanger 19