Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It's good to know skeptics...

` Such as EdgeWalker. He's pretty good at logicking things, though we don't talk much considering how much we hang out. (He's just so darn introverted.)
` However, there are also extensive online communities, including forums. For example, I just got a notification about an update to this thread in The Skeptics Society forum. Thought you might be amused.
` Note: Genders are approximated.

Thread: Have you seen a UFO?

rrichar911: If so, what is your story?

` Rrichar911 proceeds to tell about an instance in 1966 when he was marching back to the barracks from Tech School at Chanute Air Force Base. Suddenly, to his confusion, everyone began tripping and falling over one another. He noticed everyone was looking into the sky, so he looked for himself and saw some kind of object hovering straight overhead, red and illuminated.
` This object, which appeared to be too high to make out, went from apparently not moving to quickly dashing to the southern part of the sky, where it hovered for 30 seconds. Then, in the blink of an eye, it moved to the northern part of the sky, stopped, and then went back to the center, directly over them.

It is a UFO, because it could not be identified. But what ever it was, it obtained tremendous velocities.

` Yes, if it really was 'way up there', anyway... Don_Fernandez then tells about his sighting in Houston: An unmoving, bright object with blinking colored lights, hovering at dusk before the stars were visible. After staring at this, the object 'started moving way to fast' before disappearing. Because of his unbelief in alien spacecraft, he kept watching to see if he could figure out what it was.

And then the Arriving UFO became an IFO, a prosaic Arriving Airplane, from Southwest Airlines if you must know (Houston is a hub city for them).

` Ha! Apparently, the effect Don_Fernandez was seeing turned out to be the setting sun's rays glinting off the landing airplane, which was also lit up with navigation lights! He was walking towards it, so the plane's relative position to the horizon didn't change as it descended.
` Then, as he was walking in a curved path, and because the plane had also changed directions, it seemed to move very fast, suddenly. If it had been higher in the sky, it would have indeed been moving faster than an airplane, but in reality, it was quite low.
` It seemed to 'disappear' because it became too low in the sky for the sun's rays to reach it, and so it seemed to have disappeared. However, after a minute of looking, he could finally spot it.

` In fact, he saw many such 'UFOs', and they all turned out to be planes from the two airports he lived near.

` For his second UFO story, rrichar911 tells of the time he was driving through the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas. A desolate place, there are no gas stations and no other drivers for miles. It was two in the morning, and he had stopped to answer the call of nature.
` Standing in the road, he was admiring the visibility and brightness of the stars in that region when one of them began to move! Now, this one is a real pickle:

It moved around the horizion just above it [the horizon]. It took about 5 seconds for it to traverse 180 degrees and stop. It then climbed to about 20 degrees from vertical, stopped, and then went into out space.

When it becomes an IFO, I'll let you know.

` Whoa! I don't know if you can identify something like that - it sounds pretty crazy! But, if this light moved around the horizon relative to him, it might have been something one could only see from that perspective. You know?
` Moving on, flyer1 describes a sight she speculates may be some kind of new military test aircraft:

I saw something once in the sky that I can't explain. It consisted of about two dozen diamond-shaped metallic objects, turning and diving in unison, about 200-300 feet off the ground. This was in central Nevada. It looked something like a school of fish in the sky, or like a small flock of shiny birds, but no birds I'd ever seen in the area.

` Awesome!!! Rrichar911 comes back with another story which may explain some UFO sightings:

I once saw ball lightning while driving to work. It was the most uncommon thing you could imagine. It floated around the sky, about 30 feet off the ground, visibly spinning, and taking arched trajectories, until it ran into a transformer sitting on top of a pole, and then the sparks flew followed by smoke.

It looked like a small galaxy in shape, I would estimate about 1 1/2 foot in diameter. Spinning at an estimated rate of 4 or 5 revolutions per second. Amazing.

` A rare sighting indeed - I did not know it could look like a galaxy! Moving down the posts, Skeptical... says that when he was a paperboy 36 years ago, he and a friend saw a disk-shaped object flying straight through the clouds. He is not sure exactly how accurate this memory is, though. Also, Bunk mentioned a recent and very bright irridium flare.
` Lance Kennedy, on the other hand, has seen two UFOs, which soon became IFOs...

First was in Fiji. A very bright red light high in the sky out over the sea. It sank slowly, then rose, moved in a clear arc and sank again before fading. Took me a while to work out what it was. A parachute flare, descending, then lifted briefly by an updraft.

Second was here in NZ. Two white lights at night shooting across the sky. Car headlights!

` It is interesting how these things can fool you. Next up, Flash tells of a more bizarre-sounding experience.

I was twelve, it was on a farm far away from any city, the sky was totally blue and it was afternoon. I saw a metalic object hovering very high, I couldn't tell its shape. After about five minutes the thing took off into space with a very high speed and disappeared. I have no idea what it was and really have no evidence whatsoever which would allow me to even speculate. I treat it as one of those "what was it god damn it?" things.

` Yes, this is the way a skeptic takes such sights, really. Especially at night, when visibility is low. This would explain why Skeptical... could point out that most UFOs are seen at night. To balance this out, then, rrichar911's next story took place in the daytime, while he was driving south on 1-35. On his right was a large, 1/2 mile-long rock quarry.

I glanced over and observed a quite large egg shaped glowing ball of what appeared to be gas hovering above the quarry on a line perpendicular to the road from me. I was along the side of it. It was dense enough that I could not see through or into it.

I glanced back to the road, for a split second to make sure I was still headed down the highway appropriately. Then back to the ball of gas. In that instant that I took my eyes off of it, it moved approx. 1/4 mile down the road and now was in front of me.

I then had to glance back to the road, and as I did it took off to the my right, and was gone over the horizon again virtually instantly.

` This is strange, is it not? Each time he looked back onto the road, the object also moved! And very quickly, too! This may have nothing to do with his perception, however.
` Skeptical... said that it might be a corona discharge from high tension power lines - as he indirectly discovered some of these apparently moving along such wires - though rrichar911 said the power lines were on the other side of the road. It did seem to be electrically-related, though, as it moved very fast and was opaque.
` After this, flyer1 came back to say:

I did see "Aurora" one time. I was coming home from work about 0700 Pacific time, and happened to glance up. I saw a contrail that looked like this: --|--|--|--|--|--
being made by some aircraft traveling very fast, and so high I couldn't see it, only the contrail. No sonic booms to confirm; although interestingly, I live in the same area that two confirmed "Aurora" sonic booms occurred in the early 1990's.

But that is a genuine secret military aircraft, not a UFO. Shocked

` At least there is a logical explanation for such an unusual sight - though, it is rather amusing when you realize how many non-secret aircraft are mistaken as other things.
` Next on the thread comes my contribution:

` When I was younger and more naiive, I watched this show where this guy put his video camera in the shade just out of sight of the sun, so that the sun was just barely peeking over his roof. He recorded what looked like milkweed seeds bobbing and drifting all over, though you couldn't see it otherwise.
` I decided I might see the same thing if I looked out the window with the sun barely in view - and indeed, I saw the same white, semi-transparent things! They drifted lazily up and down and across, floating like so many tufts of white milkweed fluff.
` But it couldn't be milkweed, since it was winter! I did this quite a bit for a month, but other than discovering that they appeared to be milkweed tufts (but couldn't have been), I never did figure out what they were.
` Perhaps some strange atmospheric effect having to do with the way the sun is just barely in view? Heck, I'd bet any of you could do it if you tried...

` Though, I have heard of much stranger things, as I also used to live in Ohio... a rare and bizarre-looking phenomenon occurred that made it into the papers: This photographer was walking along the U.S. side of Lake Erie and just happened to look across the lake... at Canada!
` It appeared that the Canadian shore was right there! He took a photo of it, which got into the papers. But then... it disappeared.
` Well, Ohio is known for its extreme, treacherous, and sometimes interesting weather...

` Yes, something that looked like milkweed fluff. (And I don't think it could have been any kind of snow. It was a clear day.) Then, Tito popped in to report something amusing:

Know what you mean about Ohio...... I used to live there too! I left!! If I'd known the entire country of Canada was going to sneak up on me, I would have left even sooner!!!

I saw something that was a UFO for about 3 minutes or so - just long enough for me to get out the binoculars. It was almost straight over my head, almost looked like I could throw a rock at it and hit it. It was a sort of asymetrical oval shape, with a very brilliant, shiny crescent along one side. It moved without a sound, very very slowly. Of course, as soon as I looked at it through the binoculars, it sneakily changed itself into a weather balloon!! Probably thought I was holding a camera. That made me laugh, and while I was standing there laughing, my neighbors came tearing up in their truck, frantically pointing at the sky. I could not even speak I was laughing so hard, I just handed them the binoculars. Very Happy

` Hee heeee! This is somewhat similar to Centaur's experience of seeing a UFO 'for about ten seconds.' It was springtime in 1958, and he was twelve years old. He awoke at midnight to get a glass of milk - and he saw through his screen door a very bright object that looked rather like Venus, though Venus could not be seen at midnight. He ran for his telescope...

After taking a moment to focus, my heart began pounding as I spied a mother ship surrounded by four scouts! My great excitement lasted for about 10 seconds - until I realized that for the first time in my life I had detected Jupiter and its four large satellites. Actually, though, that discovery left me with the same warm glow that Galileo must have experienced when he first trained his scope on the king of the planets. Wink

` Skeptical... also had an amusing experience at this time:

I wish I would have had my video camera with me this morning. It's rainy here today with a low cloud ceiling. As I was driving to work, I caught sight of two bright white lights, ascending rapidly from my right to left. The two lights were visible perhaps only a couple of seconds, then disappeared into the clouds. Of course, they were the landing lights of a private plane taking off from a small airport I was approaching, but I would have loved to have turned the video into Jeff Rense just to see how much of a fuss I could stir up. Very Happy

` Rrichar911 comes back with another extremely bizarre experience: He was driving along at 2 a.m. somewhere between Jacksboro and Fort Worth, when his truck had suddenly become the center of what apparently was a circular spotlight. Its outline was round both ahead of and behind the truck (in the rearview mirror). To the left, the trees were lit up, looking as green as they did in daylight.
` An airplane could not have tracked him with a spotlight so accurately, so maybe a helicopter? He wrote:
'My truck stayed perfectly at its center, with never the slightest waver one direction or the other.' And yet, there was no noise at all! He stuck his head out the window to look, and at that moment, the light disappeared. He stopped the truck to look at the sky, but there didn't seem to be anything up there. And another thing:

It was extremely bright, but my eyes adjusted to it instantly. Like walking from a dark room into the sun, with out having to adjust. The passenger said, what was that? I replied, I don't know.

` This is very odd. If true, I can't imagine how to explain this. In the next post, flyer1 said that the custodian at the place where she works was very excited at something one night. A bright light, just over the guard shack. The supervisor went out and found that it was only Venus. Apparently, because it was so bright on such a clear night, it looked like a much smaller object within the atmosphere, quite close up.
` This kind of thing happens surprisingly often. In the same vein, Broken Spyrl volunteered that:

When I was young, I used to see UFO's all the time. I would see this silver, cigar shaped object in the sky, all the time.

I since learned that those were airplanes. But it surprises me to still hear about people seeing these silver cigar shaped objects, and have them immediately say that they are not only UFO's, but alien in origin as well.

` Spyrl also wrote about seeing a meteorite, which seemed to be something like the 911 attack for a minute, and this post spurred me to contribute this:

` Yee! ^^ Once I happened to be staring up out of a skylight one night, and this white ball came zooming across it... and then it seemed to expand to five times its size and zoomed out of sight.
` In an earlier day I might have said; "Oh, it's an alien craft!" Of course, I'm sure it was a meteorite hitting the atmosphere. My friend who lived out that way had actually seen one hit his neighbor's yard! They seem to be everywhere...

` Hee. You know, I have heard of cigar-shaped things from my paranoid delusional lunatic father. He used to tell me all these UFO stories, and he said he even had a picture of a spacecraft that wasn't there 'in real life', which he never got around to finding. Rolling Eyes
` Anyway, when I was about eleven, he used to tell me this childhood story where, one sunny day, he and his younger brother saw a cigar-shaped silver thing with "nine round windows - he counted them" which came up really close to the pier on Lake Mead where they had been on a dock with some other people. He said everybody freaked out! It didn't make much noise, and you could see the aliens holding their babies up to the window.
` Then it just took off real fast, straight up into the sky and was never seen again.

` Years later, he told me this story again. Except, he and his brother were in their twenties, the windows were square, and no, his brother hadn't counted the windows so he didn't know how many there were, and they could see the windows were also lit up because it was night-time, and there weren't any baby aliens they could see because it didn't get very close, and it also flew around quite a bit, doing some kind of maneuver in the air, and again, and a third time, and then some fighter planes came out, and...

` That's when I stopped believing that kind of stuff.

` Tee hee. And I'm not the only one, Brevabloke wrote:

I was driving back late one night with a mate from a jam session in Parkes NSW towards Orange NSW. I looked to my left and saw a ovoid, silver glowing object that looked about 10 metres long and about 50 metres away. I asked my friend if he could see it and he said he could. It was travelling at the same pace as the car; quite disconcerting. Well we were quiet for a bit and I asked him to keep an eye on it, so he did. Then he started laughing and could not stop. I said whats so funny man, we are being followed by a light!!??" He said, "no mate were aren't, thats the railway line and the moon is reflecting off the edge of it.

Identified Object On The Ground. Smile

I stopped believing that UFOs were in any way not of this earth when I was about 21. Nothing I have seen yet has changed my mind.

` And Pendantica just wrote yesterday:

I know it is a cliche but when I was young I really did think the moon followed me. That's the closest encounter I've ever had.

Although I have hallucinated enough to know that my senses are not 100% reliable. And I am persuaded by the evidence that the sensory world I experience is effectively a virtual reality model constructed by my brain; and that model is not always 100% accurate. This gives me good cause to doubt any eyewitness accounts not backed up by physical evidence.

` Anyway, yes, this is the thread so far. Amusing, no? The Skeptics society forum is full of all kinds of strange things. You might be interested to go there.

` Also, to members of F.A.R.T. (or other members of The Pentarchy?), when I began this post, I got an e-mail from my friend, Dory, about the Marzipan Babies - which are of course non-edible scupltures by Camille Allen. Thanks to one of Amber's posts, I immediately recognized this stupid e-mail myth and told Dory about this. This is not the first time I've had to do this. I get the weirdest things in my e-mail sometimes!
` In fact, after this, Dory e-mailed the person who sent it to her to correct them.
` Hey, maybe she could send me more things she gets from other people and I could scan them for mythery for her?


Aaron said...

I wonder what the folks at NORAD think of these crackpot UFO sightings. The people who believe that this planet has been visited by extraterrestrial beings are probably the same people who don't beleive the US ever landed on the moon.

The truth is out there Agent Mulder.

Galtron said...

No, of course the US didn't land on the moon, that was the invisible gremlins that live in people's basements.

(They're behind Lucky Bamboo, you know!)

Aaron said...

Who told you about the gremlins?

Listen here! You don't know anything about gremlins! There are no such things as gremlins! You're better off just forgetting everything you think you might have known about gremlins!

Carry on.

bt said...

Personaly, I am convenced that there are extraterrestial beings who travel here to look at human asses and put "probes" in them!! I know that is the first thing I would do if I had a way to travel to other planets with life. Check out and put things in alien ass. I would also put all kinds of lights on my rig to attract as much attention as posible when I flew near arias that were populated so I could laugh at the poor creatures telling their friends (who don't believe them) a story about a bunch of lights decending on them and then getting things put in their ass.

Or I could just get drunk and go tip cows...

S E E Quine said...

` Personally, I am inclined to put things in gremlin asses for being such jerks during the war!

Aaron said...

Yay Spoony! That's the spirit that beat the Japanese!