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Answering Public Questions On UFOs & Aliens

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 09:32:22 -0500
Archived: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 09:32:22 -0500
Subject: Answering Public Questions On UFOs & Aliens

Source: The Skeptics Society - Altadena, California, USA


Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

With all the buzz this week about UFOs and the call for an
investigation into what the government is hiding from us about
extraterrestrial aliens, we thought we would ask a NASA official
in charge of dealing with the public about such matters, and
that is NASA scientist David Morrison. Read on for how Dr.
Morrison handles such queries as =93where are you hiding the alien
bodies?=94 and other such matters.

Dr. David Morrison is Senior Scientist of the NASA Astrobiology
Institute. He is a recent recipient of the American Astronomical
Society=92s Carl Sagan Medal honoring his efforts to explain
science to the public.


Answering Public Questions On UFOs And Aliens

by David Morrison

As Senior Scientist of the NASA Astrobiology Institute I receive
many questions submitted to NASA=92s website Ask an
Astrobiologist. A great many of these concern UFOs, especially
the notion that there is a government cover-up. Interestingly,
an increasing fraction of these are coming from India. Readers
of Skeptic might be interested in how I answer these questions.

A google search on =93UFO=94 quickly reveals how pervasive such
ideas are, with only a couple of skeptical entries listed in the
first several pages. It is therefore not surprising that almost
all my questioners seem to accept the reality of alien
visitation. One recent writer asked: =93If NASA is not hiding
anything, and there has been not one evidence of UFO or Alien,
how can some evidence on TV or internet be explained? If they
are all fake, why not NASA explain this, and why are they not
stopped from telling lies? How do you explain all those people
who have proof, including many scientists, doctors for example
who found real alien object in someone who was kidnapped by
alien. NASA or some officials should make documentary that
explains all about these on TV. If not, anyone would think that
they are hiding something from us.=94

Here is my reply: First, these stories you have heard are not
true, for instance about photos of UFOs from NASA spaceships, or
doctors finding an alien object in someone. If any of these
stories were true, or if there were any scientific evidence for
aliens, you would see it all over reputable newspapers and TV
news shows. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out
there, especially on the Internet. I know of no simple rule to
separate the truth from the lies, except to learn which sources
are trustworthy. Second, you raise the question why =93they are
not stopped telling lies=94 and why NASA is not making a
documentary =93that explains all about this on TV=94. The government
is not in the business of making documentaries or broadcasting
on television. NASA officials and other scientists have
explained many times the difference between truth and fiction in
this area. But we cannot =97 and would not want to =97 control what
news and opinions are in the media.

One of my first UFO questions stated that Apollo astronaut Buzz
Aldrin had reported that he and his crew members saw a UFO on
Apollo 11. =93Edwin Aldrin recently came out in a special on the
Science Channel and stated that the astronauts aboard Apollo 11
all saw unidentified objects which seemed to have been following
them. He also mentions that they were briefed not to talk about
what they had seen. What does NASA have to say in response to
this? What were those objects they all saw?=94

To get a straight story, I called Buzz Aldrin, who was happy to
explain what had happened. He said that the quotations were
taken out of context and did not convey the intended meaning.
After the Apollo 11 crew verified that the object they were
seeing was not the SIVB upper stage, which was about 6000 miles
away at that time, they concluded that they were probably seeing
one of the panels from the separation of the spacecraft from the
upper stage. These panels were not tracked from Earth and were
likely much closer to the Apollo spacecraft. They chose not to
discuss this on the open communications channel since they were
concerned that their comments might be misinterpreted (as they
are being now). All of this explanation about the panels was cut
from the broadcast interview, thus giving the impression that
the Apollo 11 crew had seen a UFO. Buzz said that he was angry
about the deceptive editing and asked them to correct this
reversal of what he had said, but they refused.

With the popularity of Youtube, such claims are getting a new
life. I recently received this: =93Check out this video on YouTube
with Buzz Aldrin saying he saw a UFO on Apollo 11. Whose
fibbing, NASA or the great American hero, Buzz Aldrin?=94 My
answer was that the fibbing was being done by the producers of
the video, who cut the second half of the interview.

How can we argue effectively against beliefs that we are being
visited constantly by alien spaceships? The simple assertion
from authority =97 that none of these claims are to be found in
mainstream publications or television =97 is probably not very
convincing. Instead, I point out that the evidence for UFOs and
alien visitation is weak. It is easy to see how weak the
evidence is when we compare with other phenomena that are
increasingly well documented. For example:

1. The proliferation of home video cameras has resulted in
excellent images of tornados that we now see often on
television, something unheard of 25 years ago. Even with a scary
tornado, someone manages to get a good video. There are also
amateur videos of bright meteors (fireballs), good enough in the
case of the Peekskill meteor of 1992 to allow a calculation of
the orbit of the object before it reached Earth. But there has
been no comparable flood of good videos of UFOs or aliens.

2. In the last few years, in the US and UK and many other
countries, hundreds of thousands of automated video cameras have
been installed for security systems. Many of these cameras are
outdoors, and at night they sometimes record bright meteors =97
but never UFOs.

3. There are several hundred thousand amateur astronomers who
look at the night sky, and they have a tremendous record of
discovering comets and novas and anything that changes. One of
the most remarkable recent examples is Comet Holmes, a normally
inconspicuous Jupiter-family comet that is fainter than Pluto.
On October 23=9624, 2007, Comet Holmes went from magnitude 17 to
magnitude 2.8 in just a few hours, brightening by almost a
million-fold. This is equivalent to the planet Saturn suddenly
becoming as bright as the full moon. This unexpected outburst
was widely observed and photographed by amateur astronomers
around the globe. Yet these same astronomers never report UFOs.

One can never prove a negative. But to me, these examples
provide compelling evidence against the reality of UFOs, unless
you are so enamored of the idea of alien visits that you think
these aliens are carefully avoiding amateur astronomers, people
with video cameras, and security video systems.


Copyright 1992=962007 Skeptic and its contributors. Permission is
granted to print, distribute, and post with proper citation and
acknowledgment. Contact us at skepticssociety.nul

[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://uforeview.net/ for the lead]

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