Daily Archives: Monday, 18:24, August 2, 2010

A Parliamentary UFO Conspiracy Theory


(This has been rewritten and reposted from 2010/08/02)

Here’s something from a short while ago:

Yet another UFO enthusiast, this time an Italian politician, and one already with a reputation as an extremist, allegedly in connection with a previous conviction in 2005, and he’s claiming that the European Union, indeed, national governments around the world, are not being up-front about classified documentation on UFOs, and demands that they should immediately declassify and release this data, which he seems to think is being wrongly concealed.

My thought is that even if this data exists, that it’s either too trivial to be worthy of serious investigation or too ambiguous to draw any conclusions from further inquiries into it.

He’s basing his claims and demands, this time not on his own experience, as is often the case with claims like this, but upon the anecdotal testimony of others — ‘highly credible witnesses,’ he asserts — and just a wee bit too uncritically to my eye.

He’s already written a declaration of disclosure, which some in the EU parliament have apparently signed onto, and seems to be taking this as agreement with his views.

This is becoming increasingly common for me to come across:

There are typically two general types of proponents of these claims — either that confirmation of their claims, and the imminent revelation of the Truth™ (of UFOs or anything else) by some (fill-in-the-blank) governmental authority is ‘soon to be released’ or those who upon noting the delay in or apparent lack of such revelation, demand that it must be produced when it fails to materialize on a schedule to their liking.

They’ve been claiming this about the ‘secret’ of UFOs for six decades now…

Both of these views involve a lot of conspiratorial thinking, and this is typical of the pseudosciences, whether it’s of UFOs or some other sort of claim.

This reminds me of the right-wing extremists in the U.S. who subscribe to the whole Obama citizenship conspiracy theories, who even after being presented with a legitimately certified copy of a birth certificate, no matter how many times, are never satisfied and who move the goal-posts ever further back.

Feh…Madness..!

A Question of Credulity


Cranks…Quacks…Celebrity psychics…Pretenders to esoteric wisdom, secret knowledge, and the Latest Cure For All Disease™…Every day we’re bombarded with their claims on radio talk-shows…on television…on roadside billboards advertising their seminars, and of course, as regular as the precision of an atomic clock, on the Web and in our e-mail spam-boxes.

By and large, people aren’t stupid. So why do they often fall victim to these charlatans?

Paradoxically, it’s often the very same qualities that make us humans as intelligent as we are that can lead to our downfall if we aren’t wary. After all, some of the easiest people to fool are the brightest among us, even the well-educated with letters before and after their names.

One key to being fooled for some folk is the harboring of an unfortunate little notion that causes us to lower our guard and get ourselves into serious trouble: “I’m too smart to be fooled.”

It’s also the very things that make us as good as we are with science that can make us just as susceptible to pseudoscience.

We have a tendency, through both patternicity and agenticity, to see logical patterns, meaning, and causative purpose where none in fact really exist, just as we can conversely see them where they actually do exist, and these are essential to our ability as a species to learn from our environment.

So a general lack of familiarity with the ways we can be fooled, combined with the very things that make us as smart as we are can lead to us being taken by frauds and con artists…

Unfortunately, our brains didn’t evolve a built-in baloney detector, leading to our ever-present flirtations with irrational thinking and outright nonsense disguised as profound truths…

…and so I ask:

What stands out to you as the most prominent manifestation of credulity? Who stands out to you as its most prominent promoter? Why?

Huge solar prominence caught by NASA’s SDO


TheBadAstronomer | April 28, 2010

This huge eruption of gas on the Sun was seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on April 19, 2010. The gas follows the Sun’s magnetic field lines, bursting upwards and then raining back down. The scale of this is vast: the Earth could nestle comfortably under the arc of this prominence.

For more info: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/…

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