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.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Code red

So this morning I was going through some of my favorite woo-woo sites, looking for a topic for today's post, and on "Paranormal News" I found a link to a story about a Tennessee woman who had an alarming encounter.

According to a report filed with MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network), a woman from an unspecified town in Tennessee was out standing on her deck on February 29, and saw at the other end of the deck a dark figure.  "When I turned my head to look, this human-shaped solid black, very dark black, being was standing on the other side of my deck.  It was turned towards the field, leaning on the railings, and seemed to be looking into the field.  I was speechless, but not scared."

Well, if she's telling the truth, all I can say is that I'm impressed already.  If I was out on my deck and a solid black being suddenly appeared nearby, I would have pissed my pants.

It got worse, however, because then the thing turned to look at her.  "When it turned its head to look at me, it began slowly moving backwards.  The legs moved as if it were walking backwards, yet it was floating very slowly.  Cat-like movements, like when a cat is stalking its prey?"  Sort of like a Michael-Jackson-style moon walk, is what I picture, only Michael Jackson (1) is dead, and (2) stopped being black back in the mid-1980s, so I don't suppose it could have been him.

In any case, the thing disappeared around the corner of the house, but then, "... it peeked half its body back around and stared at me for a moment.  When it left this time, also slow, it dragged its hand across the wood.  The black hand is the last I saw of the being."

So, the woman went to look for it, and of course it was gone.  She reports that now she's afraid to go outside, and said that she got the idea that the thing was trying to communicate, "I'm not going to hurt you today, but I could if I wanted to."

Anyhow, all of this just seemed like your usual uncorroborated close-encounter story, until I looked at the end of the article, where there was this bit that said that Tennessee is currently under a "UFO Alert Rating Level 5."  And I thought, "They have UFO alert levels?  Sort of like the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded alert system?"  (Current level:  Code Mauve - don't even think about traveling anywhere; in fact, it is recommended that you spend the entire day huddled behind the couch.)

So, I clicked on the link, and was brought here, to the National UFO Alert Page.  It turns out that California, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, and Pennsylvania currently have the highest alert levels (Code 3), with California reporting the most UFOs in February (71 reports).  New York, my home state, is at Code 4, with a paltry 18 reports.  The National UFO Alert Page also lists UFO sightings by the shape of the spaceship (in February we had 168 spheres, 102 stars, 92 circles, 78 triangles, 75 "other," 74 discs, 73 "unknown," 59 ovals, 59 fireballs, 32 flashes, 26 squares, 25 cylinders, 21 cigars, 12 "Saturn-like," 12 boomerangs, 11 diamonds, 10 eggs, 10 bullets, 9 blimps, 7 chevrons, 7 teardrops, 6 cones, and 4 crosses), the distance the observer was from the spaceship, and whether a takeoff or landing was observed.

Well, I have a couple of reactions to all this, and the first one is, that's a crapload of spaceships.  I had no idea that the Earth was being visited so much, and frankly, I wonder what the aliens find so interesting about it.  I mean, I kind of like it here, being a native and all, but if the universe is as thickly populated as all that, you'd think there'd be more interesting places to visit.

Another thing is that I'm pretty impressed that they're approaching it all so scientifically.  Even if these are still anecdotal accounts, with a complete lack of hard evidence, at least there's an effort to do some statistics and data collection, which seems to me to be a move in the right direction.  I'm still not convinced I believe most of the UFO sightings out there, but "most" is not "all" -- and in this I can at least claim the backing of physicist Michio Kaku, who last year made the stunning pronouncement that after careful consideration, he was of the opinion that there was a handful of UFO sightings that were "convincing" and "needed scientific explanation."  "When you look at the handful, the handful of cases that cannot be easily dismissed," Kaku said, "this is worthy of scientific investigation.  Maybe there's nothing there.  However, on the off chance that there is something there that could literally change the course of human history, so I say, let the investigation begin."

So, anyway, that's today's story.  Jet-black alien encounters in Tennessee, the UFO Alert Rating System, and a statistical analysis of close encounters.  As for me, I'm still hoping to see a UFO one day.  It would be a thrilling moment if I actually saw an alien, me being a biologist and all, given the implications it would have regarding the origins of life and evolution on other planets.  And I hope, that in the spirit of interstellar amity and cooperation, that the alien would refrain from laughing at me for pissing my pants when I saw him.


  1. am currently halfway through Signal to Noise(started this morning) and loving it. Millenium Pigeon gave me my first guffaw in a long while!