Are We Alone?

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

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One of the most enduring political conspiracy theories is the belief that an alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell, NM in 1947, and the episode was kept secret by the US government which has used technology from the wreckage of the craft to reverse-engineer advanced stealth aircraft. There are many reasons to be skeptical of this story…but early newspaper reports did carry official military releases about “UFOs” and “flying disks” which were hastily retracted within days and replaced with innocuous reports of “weather balloons.” (The weather balloon stories later turned out to be false.)

I’m not anxious to revisit the controversy over Area 51, though you are free to do so in comments if you find the topic interesting. What really interests me is the idea of how impossible it would be to report an actual UFO story even if one were a reliable eyewitness. A law of journalism (and human behavior) seems to be that when your story is sufficiently fabulous, the more proof you provide, the less likely you are to be believed.

Let’s say you’re out hiking in an isolated area. An egg-shaped silver craft drifts down from the sky and lands in a clearing near you. The hatch opens and a small human-like creature emerges, speaks to you in an unintelligible language, watches you for a while through a clear helmet faceplate, and then retreats into the craft which lifts noiselessly into the clouds and disappears. You wander home in a daze and…then what? Who will ever believe you?

Even if you had the presence of mind to snap pictures with your cell phone, you would not be believed. Your life would be destroyed by mockery, scrutiny and accusations of fraud. If you had half a dozen people with you and all swore to witnessing the same event, nothing would change. The whole story would either be viewed as an elaborate scam or some kind of bizarre group madness.

What if a whole city saw the same thing? No difference. The Phoenix Lights were seen by thousands of people in 1997 and on two occasions since and remain unexplained to this day…but nobody is paying much attention.

So I’d like to ask the group members…have you ever personally witnessed a UFO? If so, what was it like? And do you believe we have been visited by illegal aliens or are currently being observed? I don’t know about the latter but I do believe there is strong evidence of our planet having been visited in the past, contained in ancient writings, myths, hieroglyphs and even cave art.

And if they came once, there’s no reason to think they won’t come again.

In fact, the only thing I can’t believe is that the notoriously “leaky” US government has been able to keep actual extraterrestrials a secret for more than half a century. That one really does strain credulity.

This conspiracy theory has a rating of 4 tinfoil hats:

Are We Alone?: 4 Tinfoil Hats


About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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66 Responses to Are We Alone?

  1. Bart DePalma says:

    Fili:

    The Truth is out there.

  2. shiloh says:

    Bartles ~ The Truth is out there.

    Then why do you have such a hard time finding it ~ rhetorical question!

  3. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Bart has not yet been able to reconcile Pilate’s “truth” question.

  4. Bart DePalma says:

    No X-Files fans here apparently.

  5. shiloh says:

    Bart, I’m a fan of the truth, X-Files notwithstanding …

  6. Number Seven says:

    For Bart…

    Believe The Lie

  7. Number Seven says:

    There are only two ways to explain this one, IMHO.

    A) Let us assume it takes about 5 billion years for beings to evolve to our point (since we have only one data point, this is the best I can offer). This would mean that we are about a third generation race (go Babylon 5). At this point, one would think the universe would be teaming with space traveling races. Because there is absolutely no evidence of an extraterestrial race it must mean that the speed of light really is a true physical barrier that can not be passed.

    or…

    B) We are the only intelligent life in the entire universe (whatever that means, thanks for all the fish). Of course, this also means that self awareness is not a positive evolutionary trait (and I see nothing to disprove this) and it means it is in our nature to destroy ourselves. Perhaps it is the nature of being self aware, after all, you don’t see ants killing each other off to the point of extinction. We are the only race ever on our planet (as far as I know) that consumes to the point of extinction. Oh wait, I forgot virus’. Perhaps Agent Smith had it right after all, lol.

  8. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Actually Number Seven there is an A-prime:

    Evolution is not necessarily constant AND there is NO evidence of the length of time “intelligence” maintains survival success. Hell the dinos lasted a hundred million years and have now been gone 65 million, so there may be little overlap. Additionally, with the vast distances involved, one race may be as close as a 1000 ly away and still be more than 0.0001% of the volume of the galaxy away.

    You can shoot a bullet through the Superdome containing a thousand balloons tied at random height and distances in that volume and never touch one.

  9. shortchain says:

    I’m old enough to have seen several unidentified flying objects. I saw some just a few weeks ago, flying over Saint Paul about 8PM. Weird, bright blobs, in a triangle formation, passing directly overhead, NNW to SSE.

    I say “unidentified”, because, until I heard one honk, I had no idea it was a flock of geese. Oddly, wikipedia seems to think the Phoenix lights were the result of an aircraft training exercise. So much for “unexplained”.

    I tend to discount the observation skills of the ancients, but I have great respect for their imaginations.

  10. dcpetterson says:

    @Number Seven

    There are other possibilities as well.

    C) We don’t know what to look for. There may be a LOT of data that we just can’t recognize. Or that we refuse to recognize.

    D) They’re intentionally hiding from us.

  11. I vote for them hiding from us. The clearest sign of intelligent life out there is they don’t let us know they’re there.

  12. Number Seven says:

    Max, sorry, I have no idea what A-Prime means. We have been around for far fewer millions of years and yet we are the only species who can destroy itself. If this is what ‘intelligence’ means…

    Dinos still live. They lasted for far more then a hundred million years. The Triassic period was over 250 million years ago. The large dinos died off. The smaller ones evolved into birds. No self awareness needed. And then if you count insects….

    Ask me in a few million years if self awareness is needed for a species to survive. We have only one data point for this. The fact that we do not see a universe teaming with space faring intellegent life still leads me to believe one of my two points is true.

    Either we really are unique or the speed of light is a permenent barrier. I see no evidence to prove otherwise, IMHO.

  13. Number Seven says:

    We didn’t bother hiding from the Indians or the Aztecs. We raped and pillaged them. Until proven otherwise, I see no evidence of some sort of self aware race that does not do otherwise.

    I know, it is a cynical view of self awareness, but until we have other data points, it is all sci fi.

  14. Number Seven says:

    DC, item C I could understand. It would be like the monolith from 2001.

    My God, it’s full of stars….

  15. dcpetterson says:

    One of the basic assumptions of science — which could be a false assumption — is that the human mind is capable of understanding the answers to the questions we ask. Bu there may be inherent limits to what we are able to comprehend. Example: a bird or a cat cannot possibly understand quantum mechanics. Perhaps there are aspects of Reality that are as far beyond our understanding as motorcycle maintenance is beyond the family dog.

    If this is so, then extraterrestrials could well be visiting us, and we might just not see them. They could travel by means we can’t comprehend. They could hide in “duck blinds” that we can’t penetrate. They communicate by means we can’t detect, both short distances while they’re here, and long distances across interstellar lanes.

    It is also possible that they just haven’t found us yet. Humans have been capable of recording contact with aliens for only a few short time — a few thousand years at most. Other civilizations may have stumbled upon Earth a very long time ago, and found nothing terribly noteworthy here, and then moved on. With the trillions of stars in our own galaxy — and with each star having its own family of worlds — there muse be tens of trillions, maybe hundreds of trillions of planets in our galaxy alone. It seems unlikely that the Earth is particularly special. Why should they remain here?

    The more we discover about the nature of life, the more adaptable it seems. We know that the components of life, its basic building blocks, are commonplace, and they exist literally everywhere in the universe. We can say, with increasing confidence as we continue to discover extrasolar planets, that the conditions to nurture life as we know it are also very likely to be commonplace. It would be truly amazing if the galaxy was not teeming to overflowing with life.

    So, either they can’t get here, or they did get here and don’t want to be seen, or they haven’t found us yet, or we can’t recognize them. Any of those are possible. What would seem very unlikely is to say they’re simply not there.

  16. filistro says:

    I think the likeliest answer is not just, as DC says, that they’re here and we can’t see them… I think they are US.

    For one thing… what we recognize as an impossible bar to interstellar travel (the huge amounts of time required when you measure distance in light years) is not such an issue for people who have a much longer life span.

    Also, nobody has ever accounted for the sudden quantam leap in evolution that happened to humans about 35,000 years ago. There were hominid types evolving slowly over millions of years, but suddenly (with no bridging species yet found) Cro- Magnon Man appeared. He was tall and slender with finely shaped hands and large cranial capaicty. He could wear modern clothes and walk down a city street and not look different from the general populace. He co-existed with the Neanderthal, used tools, had a sophisticated cult of star worship, did beautiful cave paintings and made projectile points that showed a keen understanding of aerodynamics.

    Where did he come from?

    I think Earth was terraformed by another civilization that introduced basic plant and animal species (including early hominids) and let them evolve, and finally mixed its own DNA with the primitive humanoid types to create the Cro-Magnon. The Bible, a useful collection of the allegorical oral history that attempted to explain this early history of man, tells of a time when humans had a much longer life span, as much as a thousand years.

    If these extraterrestrials (who are really our forbears, and whose DNA we carry) live several hundred thousand years, then the human part of the experiment has been conducted within a brief portion of a single lifespan. I have no doubt they are doing the same thing on many other planets, so we have cousins all over the galaxy. I’m sure they check in regularly to see how things are going…. after all, they’ve put quite a lot of time and effort into us 🙂

  17. shortchain says:

    DC,

    You left out the possibility that they’re just not into exploration. Humans often make the mistake of assuming everything in the universe must be just like them — and even other humans show a broad range of behaviors which violate that assumption.

    It has been posited that any species with a strong enough drive to explore beyond its solar system will inevitably extinguish itself. Humanity came close enough to this in 1962 and 1986 that this probability cannot be regarded as near 0.

  18. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    Here’s the skeptic’s creed: “extraordinary assertions require extraordinary proof.”

    There’s an unfortunate characteristic of evolution which means that the fossil record may never make you happy. Evolution is most rapid when the population in question is under relatively severe stress, is relatively small, and is relatively isolated (see: Galapagos Islands).

    Those are precisely the circumstances which are likely to leave little fossil record, or to have the fossil record wiped out by some local phenomenon.

  19. filistro says:

    shortchain… damn, I always run afoul of the skeptic’s creed.

    Seriously, I know my Cro-Magnon theory is only speculation, which is why I never write about it seriously. But it makes perfect sense to me, jibes well with early oral histories from various civilizations, and answers a lot of my questions that are otherwise unanswerable.

    I do have a much deeper (and even more speculative) theory about WHY extraterrestrials have gone to all this trouble to terraform and colonize Earth, and what particular use they have for us humans (and how it ties into our life after “death”)… but I’m only likely to expound on all that if I know you really well (and you’ve plied me generously with alcohol) 😉

  20. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    The most likely explanation of why some highly advanced species would go to all the trouble of terraforming a planet, seeding it, waiting for humanoids to appear, then genetically modifying them, is (take your pick):

    a) they’re just so darned lonely.
    b) the same reason people insert human genes into mice in the laboratory. To produce a particular drug or as an experiment to study disease.
    c) the same reason agribusiness uses genetic engineering on livestock. Improve the taste, or make the weight gain faster. Given current demographics, this one is lookin’ good.
    d) they want an Earth with a polluted atmosphere, because that’s what they like. Same reason we deliberately infect milk with lactobacillus or gluten mixtures with yeast.
    e) unknown and unknowable. They’re aliens, OK?

    I’ve read the David Brin novels, and the Riverworld novels (which touch on this theme), plus a whole bunch of other speculative tales. While entertaining, I found none of them believable, even assuming aliens with motivations we can comprehend.

    I’ve got to say that any species that advanced should be able to do the experiment using a simulation. Of course, they may already be doing that, and we may all, according to some theoreticians, be living in a virtual reality. It’s not the second coming we should fear but the great equipment failure, which will end the universe as we know it (and we don’t even know it all that well).

  21. shortchain says:

    As a further comment, I rate the UFO conspiracy about 10 on the FSCCC. Equivocal, in other words. Not down with the plausible ones, but not up there in the stratosphere with birtherism either. I give it checks on 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Now, if you instead take the attitude that the government actors are honestly mistaken rather than deliberately misleading people, the score goes down to 6 — “plausible”.

    Because it is…plausible. I’ll merely remind you all that “plausible” is not a synonym for “true”.

  22. filistro says:

    shortchain… I reject the theory that their motivations are unknown and unknowable. After all, I believe that to know what they are, we need only look at ourselves since they are our progenitors.

    I think we serve a very specific purpose for them. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and ultimately very cool for us.

  23. fopplssiegeparty says:

    Since the only data point that I have is humanity, I can only assume that aliens behave similarly.

    When one population has technical superiority and they encounter another population, one of two things happens, enslavement or genocide.

  24. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    I was raised by my grandparents, and I’ve got to say — your assertion that: because we are descended from people, we should be able to understand their motivations — I’m finding it hard to accept. They did many things that I’ll never understand — and that make no sense in the modern world.

    I’ll be off-line for several hours, but I’ll come back and check on this. I’m finding it very interesting. I’ll buy the booze, should the occasion arise. I don’t drink more than a few sips, so you’ll have plenty to work with…

  25. filistro says:

    Shortchain… as for the actual “spaceship landed at Area 51 and was retrieved by govt..”

    I agree. Gotta be at least a 10. I think SOMETHING landed there (you just don’t get that much kerfuffle over nothing) but I’m sure it was terrestrial. Maybe it was Russian and the US did collect some useful info from it. This was just 10 years before Sputnik and it’s reasonable to think the Russians were doing test runs, right? They beat the US into orbit, but were overtaken and surpassed just two decades later.

    As I indicated in the initial blog post, I’m much more interested in the “skeptic’s creed” than in individual UFO theories. You’re a scientist and a skeptic. What would it take for you, personally to be convinced a spacecraft from an extraterrestrial civilization had definitely visited earth? Would any kind of eyewitness account suffice for you? Photographic evidence? Video? Would you need laboratory analysis of a landing site, actual artifacts.. what?

  26. shiloh says:

    Scientist 1: Einstein WAS right! ~ Team Leader: Einstein was PROBABLY one of them!

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    “Klaatu barada nikto”

    My fav sci-fi outer space movie: Queen of Outer Space American astronauts are drawn by a mysterious force to the planet Venus, which they find to be inhabited only by beautiful women …

  27. filistro says:

    @foppsie… When one population has technical superiority and they encounter another population, one of two things happens, enslavement or genocide.

    But a third thing inevitably also happens… fraternization, interbreeding and babies 😉

  28. filistro says:

    @shiloh… American astronauts are drawn by a mysterious force to the planet Venus, which they find to be inhabited only by beautiful women …

    And like the brave, patriotic American he is, shiloh is suiting up and saying “I’ll go! Take me!” 🙂

  29. Monotreme says:

    I can’t document this right now, but I have a vague memory that UFO reports did not start until after World War II.

    The “explanation” I saw for this is that the Others waited until we had jet aircraft to contact us.

    I would offer another explanation, that’s akin to what DC said above. We can’t perceive what our brains are not wired to understand. Once most Americans, and most people worldwide, had seen fast-moving jet aircraft, they could then make “sense” of the lights they viewed in the sky. Absent jet aircraft, there is no plausible way that the brain can rationalize the information coming in from the senses, so it gets discarded.

    I also worry that civilizations that reach the “nuclear stage” snuff themselves out in an eyeblink of evolutionary time. Maybe they kill themselves with AGW, or they give rise to a population of buttheaded know-nothings who obstruct all efforts to improve the civilization’s chances, and the civilization dies.

    Of course, I’m still wondering what happened to the Anasazi.

  30. shiloh says:

    fili ~ And like the brave, patriotic American he is, shiloh is suiting up and saying “I’ll go! Take me!”

    Indeed, take me to your leader! 😀

  31. Mainer says:

    Or as the world population continues to grow and we continue to degrade our planet the great first meeting may have less take me to your leader and more take me to your larder.

  32. filistro says:

    Treme.. I once took a series of courses in Native American Studies (at the University of Lethbridge, BTW 😉 and during one class the prof discussed primitive people and their approach to natural phenomena. He said people don’t question things until they’ve been taught they’re impossible.

    His example was this… a group of nomadic First Peoples encounter a huge boulder on the prairie, floating two feet off the ground. They go back to visit it a month later and it’s still there, still floating. This would not greatly astonish them. They would think, “maybe there are lots of places where rocks float, and we just haven’t visited them yet. Maybe the gods are doing it. Whatever, it’s pretty cool. Okay, let’s move on.” They would call it “Place Where Rock Floats” and use it as handy landmark… but they wouldn’t waste time trying to figure it out.

    We, on the other hand, would practically kill ourselves (and destroy the phenomenon) trying to figure it out… because we know that rocks can’t float.

    In the same way, people didn’t particularly notice lights in the sky until they were educated enough to know there are things lights can’t do… accelerating quickly, hovering, moving rapidly in vertical planes, etc.

  33. filistro says:

    oh.. and the Anasazi… I’m pretty sure it was drought that did them in. 😉

  34. fopplssiegeparty says:

    “I can’t document this right now, but I have a vague memory that UFO reports did not start until after World War II.”

    Mono, that is a great point. Culture certainly has rules about what type of delusional behavior/beliefs will be allowed. Culture can’t dictate of course, but it can influence very strongly.

  35. drfunguy says:

    @Filistro
    “Also, nobody has ever accounted for the sudden quantam leap in evolution that happened to humans about 35,000 years ago. ”
    That one’s easy. The mushrooms did it. The only question is whether or not _they_ were extraterrestrial.
    See “The “Stoned Ape” hypothesis of human evolution” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_McKenna

  36. fopplssiegeparty says:

    Sorry fili, I didn’t see your post which explains it a lot better.

  37. filistro says:

    @doc… The mushrooms did it.

    LOL… Now, see, that’s why I LOVE this site. This is a theory I’ve never heard before in my whole life, and it explains so many things (including why YOU are so damn smart 😉

    Though I must admit, I was too charmed by the “jeweled self-dribbling basketballs” to pay a lot of attention to anything else. Interesting, too, that McKenna saw the “final concrescence” and “merging into hyperspace” happening in 2012. Did he pinch that from the Mayan calendar… or is this really some kind of cosmic endpoint that everything is moving toward?

    If so, there are a few things I really need to get done in the next couple of years…

  38. Number Seven says:

    I remember a Twilight Zone episode that was from when it was brought back in the 80’s with Burgess Meredith doing the narrations.

    A race of aliens came to the UN one day. Their leader gave a short speach about the fate of mankind being decided in the next 24 hours due to humans having a small talent for war.

    After a frenzied, overnight session, the UN came together with a treaty that ended all war on Earth. The alien leader came back, saw what was accomlished and started laughing. He then explained that his race was a warrior race and had been breeding humans as fighting stock. This treaty proved that humans were inherently peaceful and had only a small talent for war and were therefore unsuitable as warriors.

    The last scene was the sky darkening with thousands of saucers about to destroy the human race.

  39. shiloh says:

    If so, there are a few things I really need to get done in the next couple of years…

    Party like it’s 2011/2012.

  40. Justsayin' says:

    Fili, I am a huge fan of your intellect and insight. However, it seems that we humans want easy to understand answers to very complex questions. Religion, creationism and seeded by aliens would very easily explain our existence. I would love to live another hundred or two hundred years just to see where our technology and science take us. Will we actually do away with prisons because we just implant chips in the brains of persons we as a society deem devient? Will we cease to farm and kill animals for food because lab created flesh finally becomes popular? Will we construct a rocket ship that takes us beyond our solar system? What about diseases like cancer and autism, will they just be in the history lessons? Will we all get along or will we still fighting wars over land, religion, philosophies? And when we finally get to the question of human origins will it be a nice pat answer or something terribly complex that we haven’t even begun to fathom.

  41. filistro says:

    Also from the Bible… “and there were giants on the earth in those days…”

    This seems apropos to the topic, seeing it was just published this week.

    Isn’t this fun? 🙂

  42. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    All y’all had shiloh’s syntax all wrong. It was:

    “Take me , leader, take me!”

  43. filistro says:

    Justsayin’… However, it seems that we humans want easy to understand answers to very complex questions.

    That’s true… and the only answers we can understand are ones that cast things in human terms, which is why we anthropomorphise everything. People even do that to religion… they can’t see God as a moving power or an unseen intellect, or even just as “love”… they have to visualize him as a bearded guy in a dress or he’s just not REAL to them.

  44. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    Speaking as a skeptic, whether they imagine him dressing in a black strapless evening dress, feathered boa, and 6-inch heels* or a business suit, he’s still not REAL. Attire makes no difference whatsoever. (Disproving the inane “clothes make the man” oxymoron.)

    It is a capital offense against logic to mistake “simple” for “easy”, which is what many people do. Simple is to easy in answers as rational is to rationalizing in logic.

    *didn’t think we would ever let you forget that, did you?

  45. filistro says:

    shortchain… I left a question for you in this thread at 8:12 (just as you were leaving.)

    Very curious what your answer would be…

  46. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    Sorry, I’ve been running around all day. Here goes:

    You ask: “What would it take for you, personally to be convinced a spacecraft from an extraterrestrial civilization had definitely visited earth? Would any kind of eyewitness account suffice for you? Photographic evidence? Video?”

    We know that eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable. If it was from Randy Quaid, for example, I’d definitely say it was insufficient. There’d have to be a lot of eyewitnesses, and they’d have to be pretty unanimous and conclusive. Photographic evidence is too easy to fake in our modern era. Video? Ditto.

    The answer for me would have to be an artifact that could be conclusively shown to be extraterrestrial. Get us an artifact that reputable laboratories can examine. Being a skeptic, I’m not going to flip from skepticism to belief. It’s going to take a preponderance of evidence.

    Good luck.

  47. mclever says:

    I’m not as skeptical as shortchain. I think it’s likely that we are not alone, but it would probably take a similar preponderance of evidence to move me from the barely plausible to proven column. As he says, video and photo are too easy to edit and fake. There are several different TV shows dedicated to showing how these things can be faked, so even if CNN, MSNBC, and FOX were all showing “live” reports of aliens landing in New York City, I’d probably wonder if it was a War of the Worlds stunt.

    So, he’s right, it would probably take an actual, verifiably extra-terrestrial artifact and the affirmation of multiple, credible scientists.

    That, or me shaking appendages with the alien myself. Probably nothing short of that would actually convince me.

  48. filistro says:

    @mclever (and shortchain)

    So, he’s right, it would probably take an actual, verifiably extra-terrestrial artifact and the affirmation of multiple, credible scientists.

    See, this is exactly what I wonder about.

    Both of you (whose opinions I respect enormously)… both of you SAY this “physical proof” would convince you… but I wonder. Would you really believe in the extraterrestrial artifact that was certified and vouched for? Or would part of you still question, and wonder if you’d been duped, or if all those certifying experts had been duped. Even if you personally shook hands with the extraterrestrial, wouldn’t you wonder if perhaps you’d been tricked by some elaborate special effect, or hypnotized, or something?

    DC and I have discussed this recently. It seems a strange kind of ambivalence… a classic approach-avoidance syndrome. Poeple have an enormous hunger to believe in intelligent life beyond our planet, but an equally strong aversion to accepting any proof of it. That’s what my article was about… the difficulty of ever getting people to believe.

    I don’t know why these two attitudes.. a yearning to believe and a deep, intractable skepticism.. should co-exist in the same society (and often in the same person.) I find it puzzling and fascinating.

  49. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I do believe having sex with that beautiful alien queen would do it for moi.

  50. shortchain says:

    filistro,

    No artifact would convince me faster than a faster-than-light starship (or equivalent technology) in working order.

    Or even in broken but repairable order.

    With or without sexy female alien pilot, although, hey, I’ve got a Y chromosome that would probably be convinced quicker with one.

    I’m ready. I’d be skeptical, but I can be convinced. I might harbor skepticism for a while, but a few trips to Alpha Centauri or thereabouts would do the job.

  51. shiloh says:

    “Take me, leader, take me!” Indeed, as alien euphemisms abound!

    ok, ok, Queen of Outer Space was a god awful movie lol ~ only a tad better than Plan 9 from Outer Space, coincidentally made the same year 1958 ~ but, but, but Lisa Davis was a babe, especially when you’re 8 or 9 years old …

    and Zsa Zsa Gabor ?!? or as Dorothy Parker would say: An actress who runs the gamut of emotions from A to B

    apologies to Katharine Hepburn

  52. Monotreme says:

    You guys would be suckers for a “V” scenario.

  53. shortchain says:

    With Morena Baccarin? (Although I liked her character — and appearance — in Firefly better.) In a second.

  54. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I was thinking T’Pol or Dax.

  55. shiloh says:

    Haven’t watched ‘V’ but plenty of nude pics/vids of Morena Baccarin on the net ~ maybe I should reconsider, eh.

    Sci-fi is like most other genres ie they have run out of ideas. Watched the first season of Haven ~ very disappointing!

    Live long and prosper …

  56. dcpetterson says:

    @Monotreme
    I can’t document this right now, but I have a vague memory that UFO reports did not start until after World War II.

    This is a common notion, but it’s untrue. Thomas Jefferson reported a flying ship, for example. It all depends on what you mean by “UFO reports.” The US Air Force didn’t start collecting them until after WW2, so in that sense, the modern UFO report didn’t exist until then.

    Medieval stories of faery encounters are virtually identical to modern reports of UFO abductions. Many truly ancient myths are practically indistinguishable. Shaman-priests of many indigineous cultures report very similar things as well. Ancient cave paintings can be interpreted as showing some of the same features. In point of fact, this particular phenomenon seems to have been going on for as long as there have been humans to report it.

  57. shiloh says:

    The US Air Force didn’t start collecting them until after WW2

    The USAF originated in 1947, so yea, this would be true. My dad was in the Army Air Corp during WWII. btw, The Blue Angels formed in 1946, are older than the USAF.

    carry on

  58. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    “Ezekiel saw de wheel, way up in de middle of de air.”

  59. shortchain says:

    DC,

    People have been seeing things as long as there have been people. There’s an obvious evolutionary advantage to seeing a lurking danger or oddity even when there isn’t one as opposed to not seeing something when there is. Hence, we tend to be biased in the direction of false positives, which makes us peculiarly prone to confirmation bias. But the same phenomenon also gives our imaginations their oomph.

    The Skeptical Inquirer magazine had an article several years back in which they pretty strongly concluded that the reports of “flying saucers” were virtually unheard of before WWII. Of course, this may have been as a result of their confirmation bias. Or perhaps they are just a front for the chain-smoker guy from X-Files.

  60. dcpetterson says:

    shortchain,
    People have been seeing things as long as there have been people.

    Yes. Whether the phenomenon is extraterrestrial or a manifestation of the human psyche, my point was merely that it did not start with WW2, but has been going on for as long as there have been humans.

    The Skeptical Inquirer magazine had an article several years back in which they pretty strongly concluded that the reports of “flying saucers” were virtually unheard of before WWII.

    Which is unsurprising, since the term “flying saucers” didn’t exist until after WW2. However, as I said, virtually identical folkloric reports have been documented for many hundreds of years. Get hold of “The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries” by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, first published in the late 1800’s, for an overview of the Western folklore. Read it in conjunction with anything you can find by Jacques Vallee or by J. Allen Hynek.

    I’m pushing no particular theory of my own, other than that there is something there that we don’t currently understand. And it’s been there for at least as long as there have been humans.

  61. Monotreme says:

    I was actually thinking Jane Badler.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3763902464/nm0000826

    I honestly don’t remember her having that much hair. Egads! Alien hairstyles exactly match ours.

    All I know is that the movie “Invaders from Mars” deeply affected me as a child. I didn’t catch the psychosexual aspects of the film until much later in life, but by then I was permanently warped. It may have been (one of) the first Hollywood film(s) that had a lead female character with an advanced degree.

  62. Monotreme says:

    Which only confirms DC’s original point, that we are limited in seeing, and describing what we see, by the construct we use to filter our sensory inputs.

    As I recall, Jung had a pretty extensive discussion of flying saucers in this regard.

    During WWII, there were the foo fighters. (BTW, I don’t believe the accepted etymology of the term for a minute.)

    Since photography has existed since the late 1800s, and high-speed photography and motion picture film since the turn of the last century, I don’t understand why there isn’t any filmed evidence of UFOs before 1945ish that I’ve ever seen.

    DC, do you know of any?

  63. dcpetterson says:

    Monotreme, I don’t know of any early photographs — but then, it’s been a couple decades since I extensively read about it, so I may have merely forgotten. Certainly photography haws been around for over a hundred years now, but you have to remember that until the 1940’s or so, no one but a professional photographer could afford a camera. And said cameras were almost all confined to studios, except for people who were nature photographers or reporters and the like. So there would have been very few chances to capture an event like lights or objects in the sky.

    By the same token, it was (if I recall correctly) sometime in the 1990’s before there was a single photograph of a commercial airplane crashing. Yet these events unquestionably happened, and unquestionably were often witnessed. It’s just that no one nearly had a camera at the ready. (Note, I said “commercial airplane” — the Hindenburg is an exception, since the event took a bit longer to completely unfurl.)

  64. Just Sayin' says:

    Fili: I just came across this, it seems neanderthals and humans weren’t alone, there was another human like species hangin out http://io9.com/5715516/another-humanoid-species-co+existed-with-early-humans-and-neanderthals

    So much info to ponder!

  65. Monotreme says:

    Another blogger’s take on the same subject:

    http://bit.ly/fv2Ziw

  66. Number Seven says:

    OMG, I forgot about this conspiracy theory, The Face On Mars.

    Please use this on the next conspiracy thread 🙂

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