UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says

UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says

UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says

UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says

Synopsis

UFOs. Aliens. Strange crop circles. Giant figures scratched in the desert surface along the coast of Peru. The amazing alignment of the pyramids. Strange lines of clouds in the sky. The paranormal is alive and well in the American cultural landscape. In UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens, Donald R. Prothero and Tim Callahan explore why such demonstrably false beliefs thrive despite decades of education and scientific debunking. Employing the ground rules of science and the standards of scientific evidence, Prothero and Callahan discuss a wide range of topics including the reliability of eyewitness testimony, psychological research into why people want to believe in aliens and UFOs, and the role conspiratorial thinking plays in UFO culture. They examine a variety of UFO sightings and describe the standards of evidence used to determine whether UFOs are actual alien spacecraft. Finally, they consider our views of aliens and the strong cultural signals that provide the shapes and behaviors of these beings. While their approach is firmly based in science, Prothero and Callahan also share their personal experiences of Area 51, Roswell, and other legendary sites, creating a narrative that is sure to engross both skeptics and believers.

Excerpt

One early morning several years ago, a black, triangular object flew over my home in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. It was almost completely silent, made rapid turns and accelerations, and was so nonreflective that it looked like a hole in the sky. It seemed almost otherworldly. It was, in fact, the B-2 Spirit, or “stealth bomber,” looping around to make another run over the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade on January 1—an annual tradition. But had I not known what it was, and had I been seeing it for the first time—say, out in the desert at dusk—I might easily have thought it a ufo. Such is the nature of human perception and belief when it comes to UFOs and aliens, which Donald Prothero and Tim Callahan have so effectively demonstrated in this book—one of the most thorough and effective skeptical analyses of the topic I have read. As they show in case after case, the likelihood that UFOs and aliens are real is exceptionally small, whereas the probability that people make mistakes in their perceptions, have preconceived notions that influence their belief, and cannot seem to say “I don’t know” when it comes to an unidentified flying object is extremely high.

In this sense, it is good to remember what the U in ufo stands for: unidentified. Unidentified does not mean extraterrestrial, or government conspiracy, or anything else asserted by any other pet theory. the U just means unidentified—nothing more. and in science it is always acceptable to say “I don’t know.” in fact, doing so is a virtue. a case in point is a best-selling book published a few years ago by investigative journalist Leslie Kean, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record (Crown, 2010). It is a compilation of anecdotes and stories by . . .

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