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.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

UFOs in Dixieland

Is it just me, or have the UFO sightings suddenly spiked?

Okay, it might well be the websites I frequent looking for material for Skeptophilia.  It's not like I'm seeing this stuff on the Mainstream Media.  On the other hand, according to Dear Leader what's in the Mainstream Media is all lies, evasions, and coverups.

So there you are.  Q. E. D.

All of these accounts come from MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, which catalogues (and attempts to explain/account for) sightings.  The first one I ran into yesterday is from Tennessee:
Both of us decided to take a break and go outside...when we saw really bright lights suddenly dim and start pulsating, and coming at us, from the southeast side of the property over the woodlands.  I stood transfixed as [a rectangular object] literally came out of nowhere, going suddenly up and then down at a terrific speed, over the tree line... 
There was a sound with it, that was a deep, low thrumming hum, which really hurt our ears.  FiancĂ© actually had to cover his; it was painful to him.  But then the sound eased up as it then halted, hovering above us for a few seconds, tilted to its side and then zoomed off straight to the north, so low that I watched it, till it rose up and then dipped back down.  As low as it was, I was sure it was going to crash or something.  I was shaking when we came back in, and this is not the first incident we have had since moving here these last four years.  I only lost sight of the thing when it vanished into the north.
There was a remarkably similar sighting in Alabama, but without the noise:
As husband and I were driving home from his place of work, after 9 p.m., we saw in the sky directly over and in front of our car a black rectangular object with red glowing bars of light on the short sides of the rectangular shape.  Also, there was a blinking red light following.  It was silently gliding across the sky - no noise at all.  We pulled over to get out and look, but being in the middle of downtown it disappeared behind some buildings, as if it had descended straight down.  My husband's cell phone was not working properly afterwards.  I don't currently have one so nothing else to report other than I woke continuously from my sleep throughout the night with nausea and still felt the same the next morning and throughout the earlier part of the day.
Then there's the one from Florida:
It was still blue skies with no clouds when I looked up and saw a black disc flying from the north coming over my house as it was flying.  It turned over and over from left to right about three times in a second, maybe a second-and-a-half, and did the same thing going the other direction.  It hovered in one place just south of the house for about 10 seconds and then continued south.  There was no vapor trail, no lights that I could see of any kind except for a glow of a turquoise-orange that I could see when the object was flipping over left to right and right to left... 
An aircraft doing tight turns like that would probably make the pilot pass out from the G-forces and the plane would probably fall apart if it was a normal airplane.  I was wondering if maybe the government has an experimental craft.  I have seen a stealth bomber and fighter flying overhead.  This did not look anything like that.  I lost sight of the object as it went over some trees headed southeast.  Maybe the Tampa Airport saw something on their radar.  If it's not an airplane, then I think I just saw my proof that we are not alone in the universe – even though I am intelligent enough to know that the percentages are high enough to know that we probably aren't alone anyway.
Weirdest of all is a report from South Carolina:
Noticed a really bright, red light coming from the south headed north.  I was looking for blinking lights to identify it as a plane or helicopter, but this object was round, solid red in the middle, with short gold rays coming out of it all around the circle.  It was perfectly silent and moving along about as fast as a little Cessna plane would.  As it moved directly in front of me, it was only about 700 to 800 feet from me.  The front two-thirds of the object disappeared and then a split second later the rest disappeared also.  It kind of looked like it was moving into another dimension or something, the way the front part seemed to go through, then the back of it a split second later.  I did not see it after that.  After the incident, two words have been stuck in my head, alpha and belvedere.  Don’t know what it means, if anything, but wanted to let you know.
Okay, let's think about this for a moment.

What immediately jumps out at me is that all four of these accounts are from the Southeast, which not only heavily supports Donald Trump, but also has drive-through daiquiri stands.  (And those two may not be unrelated, either.)  Now, I'm not insinuating that any of the witnesses were drunk or MAGA-types or both, but I thought it worth mentioning.

In all seriousness, I'm struck with the frequency of UFO reports -- something the third witness mentions.  Yes, it's extraordinarily likely that the vast majority of them are hoaxes, or ordinary astronomical objects, or purely terrestrial phenomena; but I agree with Michio Kaku, who says that if even 1% of all the UFO sightings are inexplicable by any conventional answer, then that 1% deserves serious investigation.

The problem is -- to quote another physicist, with a reputation not quite so far-out as Kaku's -- as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "In science, we need more than 'you saw it.'"  Given the number of sightings that have turned out to be accountable by perfectly ordinary explanations, if the only evidence you have is your eyewitness account, there's not much I can do but shrug my shoulders.  (And that's not meant to cast any aspersions on your reliability or honesty; as Tyson also has said, "There's no such thing as good eyewitness testimony.  It's all bad.")

So that's today's curiosity.  Despite the fact that I know my sightings would not be any more scientifically credible than the next guy's, I would dearly love to see a UFO.  Although I'd like to have something more interesting stuck in my head afterward than "alpha" and "belvedere."


Back in 1989, the United States dodged a serious bullet.

One hundred wild monkeys were imported for experimental purposes, and housed in a laboratory facility in Reston, Virginia, outside of Washington DC.  Soon afterwards, the monkeys started showing some odd and frightening symptoms.  They'd spike a fever, become listless and glassy-eyed, and at the end would "bleed out" -- capillaries would start rupturing all over their body, and they'd bleed from every orifice including the pores of the skin.

Precautions were taken, but at first the researchers weren't overly concerned.  Most viruses have a feature called host specificity, which means that they tend to be infectious only in one species of host.  (This is why you don't need to worry about catching canine distemper, and your dog doesn't need to worry about catching your cold.)

It wasn't until someone realized the parallels with a (then) obscure viral outbreak in 1976 in Zaire (now the Republic of Congo) that the researchers realized things might be much more serious.  To see why, let me just say that the 1976 epidemic, which completely wiped out three villages, occurred on...

... the Ebola River.

Of course, you know that the feared introduction of this deadly virus into the United States didn't happen.  But to find out why -- and to find out just how lucky we were -- you should read Richard Preston's book The Hot Zone.  It's a brilliantly-written book detailing the closest we've come in recent years to a pandemic, and that from a virus that carries with it a 95% mortality rate.  (One comment: the first two chapters of this book require a bit of a strong stomach.  While Preston doesn't go out of his way to be graphic, the horrifying nature of this disease makes some nauseating descriptions inevitable.)

[Note:  If you purchase this book through the image/link below, part of the proceeds will go to supporting Skeptophilia!]

No comments:

Post a Comment