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Author Topic: A conundrum for all skeptics, including TomDavidson
vulture
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quote:
johnson wrote:
The way I see it is, an Earth-based planet, to some degree, can be viewed as an organism with a life span. There is a finite, somewhat-predetermined length of time that each step in this organism's life span can take. Barring gamma-ray bursts and other deadly events, life will develop at a somewhat-predetermined pace. Recent research suggests than one reason for greater genetic diversity in the tropics is actually heat. Heat appears to speed up the process of genetic mutation. Given an Earth-like planet in a Sol-type system, you are in a fairly narrow temperature range. Or, what I'm saying is, if Earth-type worlds are common, then life is too. Mutation speed appears to be dependent on temperature. For life to exist at all assumes a fairly narrow temperature range. Given such a narrow range, you can probably map evolution speed pretty accurately.

But you have absolutely nothing to demonstrate that the progress of life on earth or any other planet goes through definite stages at a reasonably well defined rate. That is an assumption on your part, and one that seems rather at odds with somewhat random nature of evolution.

This is where the timescales I posted previously come in to play. The fact that life appears very rapidly after the earth cools sufficiently to allow oceans to form is (to my mind) a good indicator that it can happen pretty quickly anywhere - at least anywhere with similar elemental ratios. As always, it is a random process, but the fact that it happens in something like 100-200 million years on earth suggests that it is extremely unlikely that it would take say 5 Gyr on average.

So the earliest prokaryote organisms (single celled without a true nucleus) appear very quickly. Yay for them. But it takes around 2 Gyr for Eukaryotes to appear (meaning 'with nucleus' more or less). That's 2 billion years of prokaryotes evolving randomly by mutation before complex cells appear. It's not as though conditions had to change gradually over 2 billion years due to the action of prokaryotes (or that prokaroytes had to steadily develop along some path before for 2 billion years )before eukaryotes became possible, whereupon they happened quickly. As far as I know, nothing in the conditions of the earth at 0.5 Gyr preclude eukaryotes appearing then - they just did't until around 2 Gyr.


Again, that suggests a certain range of probabilties for how long random mutation will take to produce something like eukaryotes. It is unlikely (in the extreme) that it would take say 1 million years on average and we just got extremely unlucky. It is pretty unlikely that it would take 1000 Gyr on average and we got very lucky (although with selection effects due to us actually being here, it's harder to argue against this). But we can make a very rough estimate that it takes of the order of a few billion years for complex cells to appear (subject to all sorts of caveats about temperature, asteroid bombardment rate, size of planet, quantity of water, elemental abundances etc.).

But it's a random process. It will take a few billion years, plus or minus a few more billion years. Maybe we are at the lucky end of the spectum and 10 Gyr would be a more typical value for earth. Maybe we are unlucky, and 0.5-1.0 Gyr is more typical. We simply have no way of knowing without discovering more complex cells that arose in other places at some point.

And so on for the other steps. Once you have eukaryotes, you very quickly (I imagine) get to the point where the appearence of sex is possible in principle. That took another 0.9 Gyr or so on earth. To get from there to multicellular organisms, large animals and intelligence (the other 3 big steps relying on chance rather than steady progress) seems to have happened comparatively fast on earth. But even then it took 1 Gyr to get from multicellular life to sentience (although arguably human-level intelligence couldn't really have arisen before 0.3 Gyr ago - there simply weren't any land animals of sufficient size before then, so maybe intelligence has sprung up very quickly, and will inevitably do so in a few hundred million years once land animals exist).

There are a lot of unknown obviously. Some steps are as you seem to imagine - steady progress driven by evolution that leads more or less inevitably in a certain direction (once you have multuicellular organisms in oceans, it seem very likely to me that it is merely a matter of time before there are land-dwelling organisms, and that plants will go first followed by animals eating those plants). But other steps seem to be pure luck, and we have no way of knowing whether they are relatively likely, or we are the upshot of a freakishly rare occurrence.


quote:

Sure I do, to the degree that there is a problem. You are missing the fact that Sol is a pretty common type of star, and, given that, you can assume that our solar system is pretty typical as well. The solar system was born from Sol, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in terms of element ratios. If Sol is normal, so is Earth. If Earth is normal, so are we, to some degree.

Sol isn't really that normal. It is a fairly recent star, and has a pretty high metallicity (abundance of elements above hydrogen). And you certainly can't make any assumptions about how typical our solar system is: again, we simply don't have enough observations to compare with. And we don't know in detail what features of our solar system are relevant to the appearance of complex life.

The earth / moon system actually seems pretty atypical in several ways. One, it is significantly larger than any of the other non-giant planets. Two, earth has an abnormally large moon - and it is though that the moon has played a signifcant role in reducing the rate of asteroid impacts on earth (bump up the impact rate by a factor of 10, and nothing larger than ants will be living on earth probably - anything larger will get wiped out every few million years, which doesn't give much time for anything interesting to evolve). Three, we don't know how typical the arrangement of planets in our solar system is - the giant planets (particularly Jupiter) have played a major part in sweeping a lot of the debris out of the system, making it a safer place to live. We don't really know how likely you are to get rocky planets close to a star protected by giant planets further out. We don't know how necessary this is to create a stable enough environment in the inner stellar system for planets to have a chance to evolve life. We don't know what range of planetary masses and temperatures are really viable for life in detail, and how likely those combinations are to occur.

Sure, we have models of stellar system formation and planetary accretion, but I'm not convinced that anyone really knows how viable they are, and we don't have any useful observations to check against (yes, a total of 215 or so extrasolar planets are known, but due to limitations of detection methods, they are all seriously atypical).

Planets are probably ubiquitous. Planets with a significant atmosphere, suitable size, comfortable temperature range, and lack of ongoing meteor bombardment might be considerably more rare - or they might be commonplace. We really don't know that much at the moment.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"I guarantee you none of you knows 1/100 of what I have studied in these areas."

Hakim's voice attempted one final deception: Thy abominable sins forbid thee to look upon my radiance..., he began.

No one was lisening; he was riddled with spears.


Hakim, the Masked Dyer of Merv, A Universal History of Infamy, J.L. Borges

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johnson
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vulture, I referenced an article that suggested that the reason for higher genetic diversity in the tropics is because of the higher average temperature there. Assuming that's true, then, given the narrow temperature range required for carbon-based life to exist, one can assume a median length of time for higher life to form, barring extinction events.

As far as the rest, I appreciate your admitting we know very little yet. I do, however, find it compelling that the direction suggested by every relevant discovery , without exception, over the last 40 years in astrophysics, has been that we are much more common than we think.

Back in the 80s it was said that planets were rare, and were probably all gas giants. We now know that's false. Prior to the last few hundred years, many people believed that we were it, that there were no other solar systems. Nothing we have learned in astrophysics has sent us in the direction of "oh, well, maybe we are more rare than we thought.", wouldn't you agree?

[ March 09, 2007, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: johnson ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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Sure. I'm a believer in Life Out There. I'll bet vulture is too. But vulture also believes in scientific rigor.

It's not that the scenarios you describe are without plausibility but that you cherry-pick evidence to support a certain idea and then strongly assert that it is the most likely cause. As in your assertion that alien tech is the most likely explanation for ancient mapping of acupuncture meridians.

A similar lack of rigor accompanied by pronounced bias sent us to Iraq looking for WMD that the reigning experts (UNSCOM) told us had alreay been dealt with.

Despite your detailed study of the topics you discuss, your conclusions are poorly, at best, supported by your evidence, and your logic doesn't lend credibility to your assertions but does suggest a form of paranoia on your part. IN fact, your opening volley in this thread suggests such an interpretation:

"I am tired of losing arguments with Tom. There's more to living than RPGs, fantasy/sci-fi novels, movies, and tv shows, video games, and comic books. Those things are escapes from reality. You don't have to escape reality. The real world is weirder than we were taught in high school or college."

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johnson
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You might want to take a look at the wikipedia on UFOs, ken. It mentions 2 astronauts and an Air Force pilot who are quite sure they saw/photographed high-tech craft. These guys are in a position to know. They were quite familiar with what the military had or didn't have, and what those craft could or couldn't do, and what those craft did nor didn't look like from a distance.

Clearly, in and of itself, that proves nothing. However, at some point, it violates common sense to ignore all the available evidence. I'm not saying we've reached that point yet....take a look at the wiki.

[ March 09, 2007, 11:29 AM: Message edited by: johnson ]

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KnightEnder
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I thought they decided that was a piece of the ejected booster rocket? Of course that is what they would say. [Wink]

Johnson, FYI, I want there to be aliens. I'm certain we are not alone in this vast Universe. I pray they make contact. I just don't see any evidence that they have, yet.

KE

[ March 09, 2007, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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johnson
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KE, take at look at the wiki. Do I have to post the link?

There are multiple incidents referenced that involved astronauts and pilots.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO

[ March 09, 2007, 11:31 AM: Message edited by: johnson ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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It's not UFOs nor meridians, johnson, that renders your argued position paranoid. It's the way you support the existence of the former by way of the latter.

[ March 09, 2007, 12:17 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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MattP
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quote:
It mentions 2 astronauts and an Air Force pilot who are quite sure they saw/photographed high-tech craft.
And perhaps they did. What does this have to do with aliens?
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johnson
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High-tech, matt, as in "much" higher-tech. As in, we didn't build it, or if we did, there's a lot of things going on in our government we don't know about. As in, the craft flies much faster and maneuvers far better than anything that you could find in Jane's aircraft recognition guide. Or did I miss something in the wiki?
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MattP
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quote:
High-tech, matt, as in "much" higher-tech. As in, we didn't build it, or if we did, there's a lot of things going on in our government we don't know about. As in, the craft flies much faster and maneuvers far better than anything that you could find in Jane's aircraft recognition guide. Or did I miss something in the wiki?
At several times in our history the government has done just that - secretly developed aircraft that could fly much higher/faster/more maneuverably than was known to be technologically feasible. We are only aware of the aircraft that made it into production or were declassified through other means.

[ March 09, 2007, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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johnson
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Some of the maneuvers executed by UFOs would cause normal aircraft to disintegrate. I don't think the technology base is there to have engineered the kinds of materials necessary to execute those turns.

Beyond that, most UFOs have no obvious jet or propulsion system. I again doubt that the necessary technology base exists to create something like that without a leg up of some kind from extraterrestrials. I actually heard from a friend that he saw a special on Discovery where a government scientist was interviewed who said that such craft are being experimented with. However, do you really think we went from the Wright brothers to that in 90 or 100 years?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Beyond that, most UFOs have no obvious jet or propulsion system.
That's because, beyond that, the vast majority of UFOs aren't actually powered craft.
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johnson
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yes, Tom, but if even one is, something weird is happening.

Head on over to amazon and look up a book title "The Phoenix lights". Here
is the link.

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MattP
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quote:
yes, Tom, but if even one is, something weird is happening.
If even one fairy flies by, something weird is happening there too. Many people have seen fairies. Why is this different? (assuming you don't believe in fairies)
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DonaldD
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<insert non-PC joke about flight attendants here,or maybe a political joke about DADT>
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Johnson, FYI, I want there to be aliens. I'm certain we are not alone in this vast Universe. I pray they make contact. I just don't see any evidence that they have, yet.
Why? Do you know what kind of a panic confirmation of intelligent extra terrestrial life would create? The world is scary and complicated enough without throwing in some huge wild card like that. And what makes you think they wouldn't be hostile?

No offence, but I suspect that people who wish for extra terrestrial intelligent life to make contact with us (and I admit it seems plausible that such life may exist somewhere else in the universe) haven't completely thought things through.

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0Megabyte
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Why exactly would it cause panic?

Granted, it'd cause a lot of furor, and some nuts would go loony, but it'd be a great event, and unlike the stereotype in television shows that humanity is "not ready" or some similar junk, we'd handle it just fine.

How did the native americans deal with the appearance of white men? Some had odd views, sure, and some superstitious groups hailed them as gods or whatnot, but there certainly was no vast panic at these aliens (and, really, this is the closest thing we have to alien contact in our history) entering their world. In the end, it didn't turn out well. But there was no mass hysteria on the side of the Native Americans.

If they're hostile, and are here anyway, we're screwed. Not much we can do about that, now is there?

Edit: Deleted snappy remark. Sorry jason!

[ March 09, 2007, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: 0Megabyte ]

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seekingprometheus
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Hostile/benevolent...what narcissists we are. Isn't it far more likely that ETs would be completely apathetic to our values?

"Contact us." Pshaaw! More like "Scoop up curious life form matter into petri dish for future study."

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0Megabyte
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I'm sure whether they're ramen or varelse would have a big influence on how we treat each other, yeah.
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kenmeer livermaile
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I think the existence of E=MC2 is the strongest evidence for God's existence that is available. THe impossibility of FTL travel effectively quarantines civilizations from each other until they've survived their growing pangs.

If there IS a way around Einstein's C, it will be a LONG time being found, I believe.

[ March 09, 2007, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Why exactly would it cause panic?

Granted, it'd cause a lot of furor, and some nuts would go loony, but it'd be a great event, and unlike the stereotype in television shows that humanity is "not ready" or some similar junk, we'd handle it just fine.

No, I really think we are not ready. And I'm not just talking about a few religious kooks. The kind of fear it would create would be almost unprecedented. People are terrified of what they don't understand and can't control, and some appearance of a technologically advanced alien race on our doorstep (and to even reach our world, they would have to be vastly superior to us, technologically) with a big honking mothership would scare the hell out of everyone, me included. It would be the equivalent of a Greek God climbing down from Olympos and declararing himself. Who knows what they'll do? Share their knowledge? Blast us into oblivion? Who can predict what an alien civilization would want to do with us? And given their technology, one thing's for sure: there's not a damn thing we could do to stop them from doing whatever the hell they felt like doing to us.

quote:
How did the native americans deal with the appearance of white men? Some had odd views, sure, and some superstitious groups hailed them as gods or whatnot, but there certainly was no vast panic at these aliens (and, really, this is the closest thing we have to alien contact in our history) entering their world. In the end, it didn't turn out well. But there was no mass hysteria on the side of the Native Americans.
LOL. It's ironic that you use that example. The Aztecs, in point of fact, did become hysterical at the arrival of the Spanish. They mistook Cortez et al. for the God Quetzelcoatl. That was right before their civilization toppled, and most of their population died through a combination of Spanish arms, small pox, and back-breaking labour under the Spanish yoke.

So in answer to your question: how did the native americans deal with the arrival of Europeans? The answer is they mostly dropped dead.

[ March 09, 2007, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Everard
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"If there IS a way around Einstein's C, it will be a LONG time being found, I believe."

We've already broken the speed limit in laboratory settings in certain gases.

Sortof.

[ March 09, 2007, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Hostile/benevolent...what narcissists we are. Isn't it far more likely that ETs would be completely apathetic to our values?
You don't have to be hostile or benevolent to the values of an ant colony to step on it [Smile]
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0Megabyte
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jason, I was specifically not counting the aztecs. [Big Grin]

I did vaguely mention them when I said some did whig out and proclaimed them gods, though. I guess the context made it seem like I was still talking about the small scale cultish nutjobs. My mistake, I should have made that more clear.

Also, the Native Americans mostly dropped dead because, luckily for the whites, the Native Americans were the same species and thus susceptible to the diseases the whites had built up immunity to.

If an alien race came, that probably wouldn't be a problem, at least at first. The different species' disease germs don't translate to humans very easily (when it happens it's a big thing, but most of them aren't harmful to us) and if it was a completely different alien system, without any evolutionary connection to ours? Well, the problem would at the very least not be nearly as pronounced as the epidemics in the New World.

So the dropping dead part generally wouldn't happen nearly as much.

Of course, nukes kill the same regardless of their evolutionary development...

Many of the Native American groups didn't whig out, though.

And really, I have a strong suspicion that most modern governments currently would, much less the world community would.

Sure, there'd be a big furor over it, and a lot would happen and there'd be a lot of activity. But we wouldn't destroy ourselves, certianly not.

Sure, the aliens might destroy us, but if that's their intention they could easily do it from orbit without revealing themselves to us and we'd be screwed either way, regardless of cover up.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"We've already broken the speed limit in laboratory settings in certain gases.

Sort of."

All those expoeriments exactly conform to the basics of relativity. They are very interesting and will likely yield some cool technological applications, but not anything that will let us propel mass at or beyond the speed of light.

But they are cool experments. I also like the ones where light is made to stand still.

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kenmeer livermaile
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I just like believing there's life out there. I don't necessarily want visitors.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
You don't have to be hostile or benevolent to the values of an ant colony to step on it
Agreed.

This is an apt analogy. There is simply no reason to believe that meaningful contact/communication is even feasible. Extraterrestrial intelligence could be so far beyond our capacity that they would perceive humanity as a simple, bacteria-like culture. One of the meat strains on the planet that survives because it arranges resources in accordance with a rudimentary form of logic. But to call it intelligent? Nah.

Or it could simply be a nano-virus that replicates until all material resources are absorbed and then explodes out into space in all directions, the individual molecules only stopping millions of years later and millions of light-years away, when they happen to come into contact with new matter. Then repeat process.

But nooo, everybody has to cling to anthropomorphic prepossessions when imagining contact with alien life forms.

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Adam Lassek
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Okay, I've finally caught up to the thread, so I will be responding to some posts made a few pages earlier.

quote:
Recent measurements of local stars showed gravity wobble perturbations that are only or most easily explainable by the presence of rocky inner planets.
It was my understanding that the Wobble Method was only useful for detecting large, Jupiter-like planets. Smaller Earth-size planets create a wobble too small to detect.

quote:
The only evidence I've heard to the contrary came from a friend of mine. He said he saw a tv special on the Discovery or Learning Channel with some Russian cosmonauts. They said it would be impossible for humans to survive that far outside the Van Allen belts, because the radiation is deadly. I don't credit that, but whatever.
As you suspected, no, that's nonsense. The Apollo spacecraft passed through the belts too quickly to get a lethal dose of radiation, and in fact the hull of the ship shielded most of it anyway. See here for more information.

quote:
Do you realize how many thousands and thousands of sightings and abductions have been reported?
Do you seriously base your opinion on such flimsy evidence? Check out the "Satanic Panic" of the 80's and the subsequent FBI report. Despite the fact that thousands of people were swearing they were abused as children, the "memories" were pure fiction. And the victim's weren't even lying, at least not most of them. Check out Elizabeth Loftus' research into False Memory Syndrome and how easy it is to create false memories, particularly through hypnosis. The alien abduction phenomenon is caused by a combination of sleep paralysis and false memories induced through hypnosis, which, it should be noted, is used frequently by abductees.

Finally, the vast majority of UFO sightings can be attributed to much more prosaic explanations. Take the famous Roswell crash: what people thought was an alien craft was actually a balloon craft constructed under Project Mogul, which was an attempt to monitor Soviet nuclear detonations.

There are probably a small minority of occurances that do not yet have an explanation, but lack of evidence as to what something is is not positive evidence for alien origins. A claim that extraordinary requires very extraordinary evidence, and none such evidence is available.

I agree with you that there probably are numerous Earth-like planets in the universe, and there probably is life out there. I'm not nearly as certain that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, since it only evolved once on Earth we can guess it's less common. I believe, however, that even if there is other intelligent life in the universe, it's likely to be in another galaxy so far away we will never meet. We'll never know if we don't look, though.

quote:
I'm not sure what I'm being asked to prove at this point, though. The existence of qi/prana/ki?

Is anyone assuming that I make some kind of formal belief system out of all this? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Any belief systems that you may or may not hold are irrelevant. This is the one, and only thing that you need to do: support your claims with evidence! So far you have not done this to anyone's satisfaction.

quote:
Head on over to amazon and look up a book title "The Phoenix lights"
Again, this is an example of people ignoring plausible explanations because they want to believe in UFOs. Proof of extraterrestrial visitation requires extraordinary evidence, and lights in the sky are easily accomplished by humans.
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johnson
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I firmly believe that skeptics are every bit as unbalanced as true believers. Witness Hitler and Stalin. Witness al-Qaeda and the Spanish Inquisition. I feel the same applies here.


I agree about sleep paralysis being a compelling explanation. However, not all reported cases would fit that model. There really are thousands of cases. I still would like to hear your thoughts about the astronauts and the pilots who saw aircraft. Check out the wiki.

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MattP
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I'm confused. Was Hitler a skeptic or was Stalin? Please provide the definition of "skeptic" which you are using and why it applies.
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Adam Lassek
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quote:
I firmly believe that skeptics are every bit as unbalanced as true believers. Witness Hitler and Stalin. Witness al-Qaeda and the Spanish Inquisition. I feel the same applies here.
It seems as if every time someone questions your arguments you veer ever farther into the ridiculous.

Hitler was an outspoken Catholic (although whether this was honest belief or cynical manipulation is uncertain), and had a well documented interest in mysticism. Not a skeptic.

Stalin was a brutal dictator. I don't even see the point is bringing him up, are you trying to equate skepticism with atheism? If so you're still wrong.

Why are you even bringing up Al-Qaeda and the Inquisition? This 'argument' is totally incoherent.

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hobsen
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William R. Corliss does not usually report on UFOs in his Science Frontiers newsletters, preferring to concentrate on anomalous reports from scientific journals, but he made an exception for this one:

http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf072/sf072g15.htm

Back issues of the newsletter from 1977 to 2001 are available for reading online, and probably include a few other accounts of UFO sightings.

http://www.science-frontiers.com/sfonline.htm

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johnson
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Adam, you DO realize that brutal dictatorships nearly always have some kind of extreme ideology at their core? Communists are avowed atheists. As far as Hitler, his religious fervor for Germany Uber All would substitute. I don't mean to poke you, exactly, but skepticism is a belief system. Nearly any belief system, structured enough, can be dangerous and/or unbalanced. I don't see skepticism as any shining example of anything. Who are these great skeptics? What are their names? James Randi doesn't impress me. He's probably a decent guy, more or less, but that's it. I don't see skepticism saving the world, any more than I see Islam or Christianity doing the same.
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johnson
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Hobsen's first link is exactly what I am talking about. I seriously doubt any world government has been able to develop aircraft that can do what the UFOs in that first example did. The materials science is not there. The propulsion science isn't there. What, has the US government been kidnapping young geniuses and forcing them to develop these aircraft for decades? I find that, while not impossible, very improbable. Alien contact, I modestly submit, is the most likely explanation. Others are welcome to submit their guesses.
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hobsen
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That UFO report is a good one: dozens of witnesses, radar observations and observation by military aircraft.

But I would first want to go to Paris Match and make my own translation from the French. What we are getting is Corliss' reprint of something from the International UFO Reporter, which is surely edited by true believers. So it makes sense to see if the translation changed anything important. Moreover Paris Match is hardly a scientific journal, perhaps more equivalent to People magazine. So I should want stories from leading newspapers to see how far they agree.

And I should guess the observations are actually of an American Stealth fighter (Fll7). One thing stealth technology does is attempt to confuse radar, and I suspect that resulted in false measurements of the object's speed. If it had really been moving rapidly, there would have been a sonic boom; and it would have been away from Brussels and altogether out of Belgium in a couple of minutes. Putting lights on a stealth fighter sounds odd, but that is crowded airspace; can you imagine the diplomatic complications if an American fighter flying without lights collided with a Belgian airliner and killed several hundred Belgians? Popular indignation might result in Belgium forbidding all American aircraft from flying over its territory. Flying without lights at night is a crime.

Anyway Corliss harvests literally thousands of odd reports, and provides citations and possible explanations. But he does not attempt to be exhaustive; if you find something interesting, you need to look up his citations and then pursue the investigation wherever it may lead. And often it leads to a dead end; something happened, but nobody knows what. Or several possible explanations end up being equally likely.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Adam, you DO realize that brutal dictatorships nearly always have some kind of extreme ideology at their core?
Which, again, has nothing to do with skepticism. In fact, being a skeptic makes it substantially harder to suffer from "extreme ideology."
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Adam Lassek
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quote:
skepticism is a belief system
You don't have the slightest understanding of what skepticism is. It's not a belief system; it's a method of determining what is true.

None of the examples which you have provided, Hitler, Stalin, The Inquisition or Al-Qaeda, happened because people were thinking too critically about what they believed.

quote:
I don't see skepticism as any shining example of anything. Who are these great skeptics? What are their names?
A short list would include Richard Dawkins, Martin Gardner, Elizabeth Loftus, Bill Nye, John Maddox, Michael Shermer, Isaac Asimov, Stephen J. Gould, Richard Feynman, and Carl Sagan. And, of course, James Randi, who does not deserve the scorn you place on him.

But you are once again committing the argument from authority; it doesn't matter which side has the most demigods, it only matters who can prove they are right.

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seekingprometheus
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Every time I click on this thread, I wonder if we've established yet what the conundrum is. [Big Grin]

I'm still not certain how Stalin and Hitler fit in to this picture. I get part of the leap--that they were atheists (arguable for Hitler) and atheists are skeptics, therefore some skeptics are imbalanced too--but I don't understand what relevance this has to the discussion. Did I miss something in the thread?

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johnson
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My beef is that Tom, et al, don't seem to see that skepticism can be taken too far.

Also, using the "you're arguing from authority" thing has been taken too far in this discussion, and others. IMHO.

Let me ask you this--you walk up to two men, both staring at a truly beautiful girl in her early 20s. One man looks to be in his early twenties. The other looks to be in his 60s. Who do you think would know better how to talk to that girl? Remember that thread a while back where ken livermaile, or was it Richard Dey, was showing how he could woo a girl with his verbal skills? I seriously doubt any of the younger men on this forum could hold a candle to those skills. I know I can't.

That's my point. No matter how logical and intelligent you are, if someone else has vastly more experience and training in a particular area than you...I don't know. It just depends. It just depends.

What I'm pointing out is, I am willing to say "it just depends". And leave it at that. The test to see if you have a more balanced perspective, in a general sense, might be to see if you, too, can say "it just depends", and leave it at that. Eh? Perhaps?


Knowing you, Tom, the way I do, I am not so sure you can say "it just depends". Can you?


"Which, again, has nothing to do with skepticism. In fact, being a skeptic makes it substantially harder to suffer from "extreme ideology."

I'd agree with you on this, if you will except atheism from skepticism. How do you explain the Communist purges?

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