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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 8

Re: Were Arnold UFOs Fireballs?

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 11:27:13 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 19:27:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Were Arnold UFOs Fireballs?

>From: Brian Straight <brians@mdbs.com>
>To: <updates@globalserve.net>
>Subject: Were Arnold UFOs Fireballs?
>Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 09:46:58 -0500

>Forwarded from the SETI maillist FYI


>Were Kenneth Arnold's UFOs Actually Meteor-Fireballs?
>Recent research by San Francisco Examiner science writer Keay
>Davidson -- sparked by a conversation with SUN's editor --
>suggests that the stream of 'Unidentified Flying Objects' reported
>50 years ago by private pilot Kenneth Arnold -- which triggered
>the UFO era -- may have been glowing meteor-fireball fragments.
>Davidson learned from a recent book on meteors (Rocks from Space)
>authored by O. Richard Norton, that the number of meteorite falls
>reaches a Peak around 3 p.m. Arnold's sighting occurred around 3
>p.m. In the northern hemisphere, the greatest number of meteorite
>entries reported over 160 years (1900 to 1960) occur during the
>mouth of June. Arnold's historic sighting occurred on the 24th of
>June, 1947.

This is the logical error of correlation = causation, and if
there is a frequent error in skeptical explanations, it is this

Let's look at the appearance of meteors, and their durations:

1) Meteor - luminous streak; Arnold UFOs - thin dark line when
horizontal, specular reflection when rolled.

2) Meteor - less than one to a few seconds except for unusual
and highly visible bolides; Arnold UFOs - timed at 1 min 42

Or brightness:

1) Meteor - typically not visible in daylight other than
exceptional bolides (usually reported widely); Arnold UFO -
"...a bright flash reflected on my airplane. It startled me..."

Or timing:

Meteor: "June to mid-July has fair rates. The last half of July
has rates increasing steadily as the Southern Delta Aquarids
(July 28) and Alpha Capricornids (July 30) have maxima at
month's end. Even the Perseids are beginning to show a little."
This is not much compared to "Mid-October to mid-December is a
nearly continuous period of heavy meteor activity." (from the
American Meteor Society website).

Mind you, the writer mentioned does not correlate  with a single
_actual_ meteor report from around 3PM that day. Now perhaps
this stems from the skeptical dislike of anecdotal evidence, but
I must say that a single anecdote of a multi-part wildly
brilliant bolide for 3 PM witnessed from some place in
Washington state on the date of the Arnold sighting would make
this at least a candidate hypothesis. How statistics allow one
to predict that, in fact, someone observed something when there
is no evidence that the many who would have also had to observe
the same phenomenon did not, is a real mystery of skeptical

What seems to happen again and again, as I have pointed out here
and elsewhere, is skeptics are so desperate for a mundane
explanation that they ignore the scientific requirement to match
ALL of the data, and simply seize on things like migratory
birds, fireballs, prototype aircraft with the wrong performance
characteristics, snowdrifts blowing in the winds, mirages from
shrimp boats, corona discharges, etc, to explain reports where
the matching characteristic represents no more than, say 10% of
the data to be explained. Unfortunately, instead of following a
scientific protocol, which would require them to actually
mention the lack of correspondence with the remaining 90% of the
data and thus declare their hypothesis invalid, they simply
pretend that part of the data doesn't exist, or, without the
slightest foundation in cognitive or perceptual psychology,
proceed to discount it as confabulation or, without the
slightest supporting evidence, discount it as a lie.

It is a mystery why they don't just settle back and think a
little before trumpeting such silliness, since a mere few
minutes of thought demolishes such hypotheses in most cases. I
suppose they are just not really interested in science.

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -

UFO cases, analysis, classification systems, and more...

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