Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

O Canada!

When you think of countries where public figures give evidence of belief in wacky ideas, Canada is not the first place that comes to mind.  No one was particularly surprised when Nicolas Sarkozy flipped his beret when someone made a voodoo doll in his likeness; and given the level of woo-woo in the United States, Nancy Reagan's regular consultations with psychics and astrologers hardly raised an eyebrow.  Even when the wife of the Japanese prime minister claimed to have taken trips in a spaceship to Venus ("It was a green and pleasant place," she said), it elicited more amusement than incredulity.

But Canada?  The home of hockey, lumberjacks, over a million moose, and not very much else?  The country that brags about having 50% of the world's supply of tar?  The country whose capital city, Ottawa, has listed as one of its major historical events the "Great 1929 Ottawa Sewer Explosion?"

Yes, Canada.  The Honorable Paul Hellyer, former deputy prime minister and the longest-serving member on the Queen's Privy Council, has come out with a serious accusation:  that aliens regularly visit the earth, and that an American "shadow government" is (1) covering it up, and (2) is in cahoots with the aliens, offering to allow the aliens to take over parts of the world in exchange for extraterrestrial technology.

I'm fairly agog at this claim, for a variety of reasons, only one of which is surprise that it comes from a Canadian official.  My first question for him would be, "Have you been doing sit-ups underneath parked cars, or what?"  My second, of course, would be to ask for his evidence.

Hellyer's reason for his beliefs is that apparently he and his wife saw a UFO.  He was spending Thanksgiving with some friends north of Toronto, when one evening they spotted a strange object.

"The two of us stood there transfixed for twenty minutes, looking up at this thing moving first in one direction, and then another," he stated.  "By process of elimination, we determined it wasn't a star or satellite and it wasn't the space station, so there was really no explanation for it other than it was, in fact, a UFO."

All right so far; the "U" in "UFO" stands for "unidentified," after all.  But then he grabs his observation, and runs off the edge of a cliff with it:

"It looked like a star, but it maneuvered in a way that stars don't.  I must admit that when I saw this one, I wondered whether it was extraterrestrial or American.  And I guess the thought that occurred to me was that if it is American, then they have learned some pretty big secrets about acceleration, because it accelerated at a pace that nothing I've ever known about that was built here is capable of."

I particularly liked two things about this statement:  (1) The phrase, "... it maneuvered in a way that stars don't."  In my experience, stars don't maneuver at all.  This is a little like saying, "Usain Bolt runs in a way that supermarkets don't."  (2)  That if what he was seeing wasn't a star, satellite, or the space station, there were only two choices left; an alien spaceship or something American.  I suppose we should be flattered, down here in the States, that he ranks our abilities up there with the Vulcans and Klingons, but honestly, I think we have to admit some other possibilities are more likely.

He goes on to ask that world leaders fully disclose their knowledge about aliens.  That world leaders already have such knowledge is taken for granted.  "That is my belief.  I do not have proof of that, but I believe that they have developed energy sources, and publicly I'm saying that if they do not exist in commercial form, that extraterrestrials would certainly give us that information if we would ask them for it and stop shooting at them."

So there we have it.  He sees a light in the sky after one too many bottles of Moosehead on Thanksgiving, and decides that this means that highly advanced aliens have reached earth, contacted the American government, and begun to trade technology for secret plans for collaboration during a global takeover.

"Basically, I'm a full-disclosure person," Hellyer states.  "People keep talking about transparency and still not telling the truth, and this applies in various other areas as well as UFOs, and it's just about time that we started getting open with each other and trying to get along and live together."

Which, I have to admit, are words to live by.  Even without the UFOs.

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