The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer

Shermer on Larry King Live with the UFOlogists

July 2007

A couple of times a year, in between his celebfest of stars, Larry King hosts the UFOlogists who regale the talk show king with an endless parade of blurry photographs, grainy videos, and breathless tales of government coverups and conspiracies. This night Larry included a couple of skeptics: Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine and Buzz Aldrin, of Apollo 11 fame, who described his own UFO experience during his trip to the moon (it turned out to be one of the rocket panels carried out with them).

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84 Comments to “Shermer on Larry King Live with the UFOlogists”

  1. Rich Says:

    Wow! Dr. Shermer put a spanking on the whole bunch!

  2. Tonygio Says:

    Sorry Rich, but I must completely disagree with you. Not only was Shermer easily outclassed by everyone else on the show, but his canned responses of disbelief to every bit of evidence and eyewitness testimony reveals either his plain ignorance, or his reluctance to accept reality. He says he requires evidence…while he is standing on a mountain of it! Furthermore, that little smirk on his face while he tries to deny what is plainly in front of him to me suggests that he doesn’t even believe in his own claims. Obviously he knows that skepticism is his meal ticket, so he clings to it for the money and notoriety it somehow continues to bring him. Obviously to me anyway. Mr. Shermer, would you care to post this comment please?

  3. Humac Says:

    Well, Tonygio, the obvious question is: What planet are you living on?

  4. anthony porter Says:

    Ok, Tonygio. First of all, you need to support your claims by actually articulating how Dr. Shermer was outclassed on this panel? Attack his argument, not his affect. What exactly are your credentials?

    Please explain this mountain of “evidence” he is “standing on”, without referring to anecdotal evidence, because anyone who has taken psych100 knows that anecdotal evidence is completely meaningless; one anecdotal story is no better than 100.

  5. John P. Jones Says:

    Michael Shermer would argue that just because people claim to have seen Venus and Saturn does not prove those planets exist … because he (Shermer) doesn’t have a piece of them in his hand that he and/or other “scientists” can examine. Do governments lie? …. duh! Does our (U.S.) government lie? …. double duh!! (think waterboarding, think Operation Northwoods, think human experiments on our citizens and U.S. soldiers). Would our government take part in a cover-up. …… Gimme a break!! OF COURSE !!! Michael Shermer made no points in this discussion, and his little green toys made him look more than slightly disingenous. I guess he figured that if you can’t make a good argument, then make mockery. I lost a little respect for Shermer. …. And why was he the only guy there who was perspiring? Maybe his seat was getting warm (?)

  6. james robert dobbs Says:

    If alien beings have advanced enough knowledge that they can travel through trillions of miles of space, why can’t they make a ship that won’t crash when it gets here?

  7. Henk J Says:

    First of all I agree on Mr Shermers take on the subject.
    There is no evidence what so ever to support the claim that Extra terrestials have been and are visiting earth. None. You cant just answer this by saying “they covered it up”. The super government they talk about that would be able to pull this thing of simply doesnt exist.

    Secondndly I think its sad to see that all involved in this debate are unable to let each others say their opinion without interupting each other. The debate degardes into a sort of playground debate on the topic whos dad is the most awesome.

    Anyway. Interesting show.

    (ps I might be spelling as an idiot but english is not my native language ds.)

  8. Bill Morgan Says:

    I’m a Skeptic and I think most Skeptics do a great job exposing frauds and hoaxes! I continue to be amazed at how many Skeptics do this so well, except when it comes to critical thinking about government cover-ups and lies. Here they accept what the government tells us as the truth. Pearl Harbor, JFK, Gulf of Tonkin, 9/11, Political Assassinations, you name it. Perhaps a few short examples would be helpful.

    In August 1964, the CIA told President Johnston the U.S.S. Maddox was attacked by North Vietnam torpedo boats on two occasions in what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Johnson used this pretext as a reason to escalate the Vietnam War. A 2005 National Security Agency declassified report stated that the U.S.S. Maddox was never under attack by the North Vietnam torpedo boats. The story was a fabrication.

    In 1973, CIA director Richard Helms told the Senate that the CIA had no involvement in the 1973 Military Coup in Chile and the assassination of President Salvador Allende. In 1977, Helms admitted he lied and pleaded guilty to perjury.

    In 2001, a plane carrying missionaries from Michigan was mistakenly shot down in Peru as part of a drug interdiction program run by the CIA and Peruvian officials. The victims’ cause was taken up by Republican lawmakers, and an ensuing internal CIA investigation concluded that agency officials deliberately misled Congress, the White House and federal prosecutors about the incident and engaged in a cover-up.

    In 2006, Mary McCarthy, a long time CIA employee and former CIA Deputy Inspector General, told some reporters she believed the CIA was lying about its interrogation practices when it briefed lawmakers. McCarthy was convinced that on multiple occasions the agency had not given accurate or complete information to congressional oversight committees. She was later fired by the CIA for her comments.

    Yet some big name Skeptics say if you doubt the government then you are a “Conspiracy Theorist”. I could name some of these Skeptics, but if you don’t know who they are, then you are not paying attention to what they are saying about government cover-ups and lies on TV talk shows. Could the answer be that some Skeptics have connections with some of the Intelligence Agencies? I wonder?

  9. Desmond Hoskins Says:

    Michael Shermer was outnumbered five to the enemy constantly brought in fresh reinforcements.CNN also constantly playing background pro UFO propaganda.under the circumstances Michael put up a good fight.

  10. Brad Says:

    Mr. John P. Jones:

    To your comment that “Michael Shermer would argue that just because people claim to have seen Venus and Saturn does not prove those planets exist … because he (Shermer) doesn’t have a piece of them in his hand that he and/or other “scientists” can examine.” [And I am assuming that you are being just a tad bit facetious here with the planet example, but my response can be used for any argument]

    You obviously have no IDEA how science works! You don’t have to actually set foot on Venus to know that it exists. And to your point, it does take more than just looking up in the sky and seeing the light to “prove” (your word) that the plant exists. Scientists can be ‘sure’ that those planets exists NOT ONLY because they SEE, it but because of a convergence of mounds of other evidence.

    THAT is science…the convergence of evidence in hopes of disproving…not “proving”. Science has never “proven” anything. It attempts to disprove. And when years and years and mounds and mounds of evidence fail to disprove something, it begins to be THREATED as a fact.

    Unfortunately, UFO claims are neither supported by the evidence nor are they truly falsifiable. CLAIMS, by their very nature, can’t be falsifiable. Bring a UFO that has landed on this planet. After testing and testing and testing (in attempts to falsify the claim that it real)–only then can we accept the assertion that there is alien life visiting our planet. Not beacause people SWEAR they SAW something.

  11. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    Look, I am not saying I believe every single person who claims to have seen a UFO, but they aren’t ALL lying or mistaken. For Mr. Shermer to sit in judgment on them all the way he does is insulting and the height of hubris. And seriously, what about the professionals who report them? So now, every pilot with tens of thousands of hours of experience both private and military is sane and of sound mind and character until they see a UFO at which point they become a nutjob or mistaken or just plain lying? Mr. Shermer knows more than them, even? Look at this objectively for one moment and stop thinking that you have all of the answers. If ONE of these stories is true, if ONE of these photos is genuine, it is the single largest story in the history of mankind and it’s just that simple. Mr. Shermer in general ‘proves’ most of his assertions with nothing more than a response that the person is mistaken, lying, or crazy. That’s not science either. Where two propositions are presented and neither one is successfully proven, where does Mr. Shermer get the authority to just hold up his hands, call his the correct one, and end the discussion. I’m sorry but not everyone who has seen a UFO is lying, crazy, or mistaken.

  12. Andru A. Says:

    james robert dobbs wrote:

    “If alien beings have advanced enough knowledge that they can travel through trillions of miles of space, why can’t they make a ship that won’t crash when it gets here?”

    That’s probably the best argument I’ve heard against UFO’s ever.

  13. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    That which is built by fallible creatures, no matter how far advanced, will always remain as fallible as the hands which made it. Just a thought.

  14. Brian Flynn Says:

    Well done to Michael on a great job on that show. When Buzz Aldrin basically backs you up, you know you are on the right track. Where was all the evidence? The guy flogging his movie said you just have to watch his move and see the proof. Proof of what? Yes there are some strange and unexplainable events recorded, but just because we don’t know doesn’t mean it’s Aliens! And as for cover-ups, they don’t last long, well not on this scale before someone lets the cat out of the bag.

  15. Tom Piotrowski Says:

    Michael Shermer gave a credible performance given that he was outnumbered, and that King’s show is entertainment and is not a science venue.

    Do not all the other guests have a financial interest in promoting their points of view?

    ‘Believers’ believe and they do not advance science or the lot of humanity by their beliefs. They are not the John Galts or Hank Reardons of society. Ignore all of them.

  16. Steven Nunn Says:

    Good observation Desmond. Also note the number of times he (Shermer) was cut off midstream. Or ignored. He’s (also) a puppet for the government, of course.
    Reality 101: People lie. Governments are composed of people. Ufologist’s are people, also. The truth? Peer reviewed evidence by qualified people is the best we got.
    I don’t consider “Larry King” peer review. Entertainment, perhaps. I think the commercial endorsements said volumes: Head-on, a completely bogus product. As is his usual garlic supplement.
    Skepticism is as old as language. It was probably born in response to the first spoken statement. Michael did provide exposure of skepticism to the public. That’s a start. We “believe” too much and think too little.
    I trust doubt. My doubting mind see’s a weather balloon in that picture. The burden of proof, as with all untestable claims, is the claimants. Not the skeptics. Like God: Phase One, God: Phase Two needs evidence. Instead (again) we get believers. What’s the value in this? Grow up, people.

  17. Skip Towne Says:

    UFO’s are like God. There is no real proof of either.

  18. flyingspur Says:

    Shermer is spot on. SETI is doing credible work and looking for alien life and UFOs, 24 hours a day and they have not found anything. These UFOlogists are just out to make money with some sensational nonsense and providing negative proof by saying that the govt covered it up.

  19. Dennis Says:

    I think one of the most telling parts of this program is the first commercial. Its for HeadOn. A Homeopathy ‘remedy.’ It is as if the Larry King Show is saying, “these UFO backers will believe anything, sell advertising space to a candle wax that claims to cure headaches.”

  20. james robert dobbs Says:

    What if military psychologists simply conducted an experiment? Or, the debris could be from a secret project that had to be kept secret, so the UFO story would actually be the cover up, then the military orders its personnel to deny the UFO story in a classic textbook use of misdirection. Both seem more likely (and could explain why it was “made up”) than that intelligent beings from elsewhere in the galaxy crashed their ship leaving debris (it just had to have “purple” “hieroglyphics” didn’t it) that would make a big impression on an eleven year old.

  21. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    Using SETI’s work to ‘prove’ there is nothing out there is again hubris. And I’m not saying they don’t do good work or that there work has no probative value. But using it to ‘prove’ the hypothesis that no one is actively communicating out there is working towards an existing assumption and that is not scientific at all. Analysis should NEVER be tailored toward an existing assumption. Before we used radio to communicate, we would not have known to even look for that type of communication. Assuming because you looked and found nothing using the methods we are aware of that this means there is nothing to be found also assumes that no one has a means of communicating of which you are unaware. That’s not completely valid.

  22. David Says:

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Grainy
    photos are not extraordinary.

  23. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    And saying ‘Nu uh’ over and over, denying the credibility of others while reserving to yourself the high ground of intellectual scrutiny isn’t really a satisfactory rebuttal. Further, the definition of ‘extraordinary claims’ is in and of itself subjective.

  24. David M Childress Sr Says:

    Of course their are aliens, mostly cloaked in invisibility, checking us out. They are so advanced in their technology, they can roam and mix with us daily without our having the slightest inkling of their presence. After all, the Easter Bunny and Santa are proof that supernatural beings live among us. They just do not want to be seen, therefore, they similarly cloak themselves with a far advanced science of invisibility we can but scarcely imagine. And, one of the very few humans to have the experience to actually experience direct observation of such phenomena, Charles Schultz, as we all know, actually met The Great Pumpkin. I would be extremely remiss if I were not to mention the invisible guy in the sky, we all know so well. Pat Robertson, of course, speaks with him daily, I am told.
    I can but imagine Michael Shermer’s bemusement, given the ignorance and credulity surrounding him on King’s set. Critical thinking, not to mention logic, is in short supply with the superstitious minded segment of society. Many, maybe most, who watch Science Fiction regularly, tend to relegate our great advances in Special Effects technogy, with Reality. It just looks sooooo real, doesn’t it?
    Couch potatoes can rarely be accused of using their time reading science based material. To them, it just does not meet the supernatural criteria necessary of their “BELIEF” system.
    To each his/her own.

  25. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    Well there you have it, folks: Ridicule. When all else fails, resort to ad hominem attacks and jokes. I think the point is made…

  26. powderrene Says:

    Michael Shermer gets it right. It is important to be sceptic about something were you have only rumours and no hard evidence. He leaves the possibility open, because it is possible that it has been flying saucers. Very unlikey though, but possible. How dangorous it can be to believe in hearsay is shown in religion!! So question everything and the world will be a better place.

  27. Kari Says:

    Look, I am not saying I believe every single person who claims to have seen a UFO, but they aren’t ALL lying or mistaken. -Rutgersjaffo (#11)

    By this argument one must accept homeopathy, crystal healing, astrology or any number of other totally ridiculous claims. There are more people in the US who believe in the efficacy of homeopathy than there are people who say they have seen a UFO, but that doesn’t mean that homeopathy is effective.

    I personally think that most of the people who have claimed to see UFO really have seen something unidentifiable to them. That doesn’t mean it was an alien spacecraft, and evidence of extra-terrestial life. It just means they saw something; possibly real, possibly illusion, possibly hallucination. And there’s the rub, without other independent verification all we have are anecdotes. And anecdotes may help direct research, but in and of themselves do not constitute proof.

  28. Kari Says:

    I have never understood how anyone could believe that the government could keep such an extensive cover-up secret. Look at the examples given by Bill Morgan (#8). In comparison to an actual spacecraft landing at Roswell or elsewhere, these were all small potatoes and yet they came to light. Just think of how many people would need to be involved in hiding an extra-terrestrial spacecraft.

    Someone always talks. Always. Even if it’s on their deathbed (e.g. Deep Throat). To expect hundreds, if not thousands of people to keep quiet is, in my opinion, very unreasonable.

  29. senor justice Says:

    Some of the best laughs that I will have all day were undoubtedly had here.

    Most people in the scientific community dismiss the idea of aliens as we like to characterize them. As Shermer said, science is open to the idea of aliens, there is just no proof. The only thing that scientist have to go on is hearsay and shaking “evidence”.

    As it was so aptly stated earlier, “If alien beings have advanced enough knowledge that they can travel through trillions of miles of space, why can’t they make a ship that won’t crash when it gets here?” –> seriously, does anyone in this forum think that:

    1) Aliens could even find our planet. Based on what we know about how long it takes for the electromagnetic radiation that we emit to move across space – and other factors that would extremely limit another civilization to find us.

    2) Next, the obvious how do they get here. Using techniques that we know, it would take about 23514520000000 (international) miles of travel to get from our nearest neighbor Proxima Centauri. For perspective that would take about 155,000 years if one were traveling at 17,320 mph (for Endeavour, OV-105).

    When considering the vastness of space, I don’t believe that it is impossible for life to exist outside of our sphere of ignorance, but the likelihood that those beings (if capable) would come here is extremely small. If you’re interested to know how likely it is for beings to visit us you might want to have a look at the lofty and often criticized Drake equation (though I think it is useless).

    Humans are just far to egocentric. Some believe there must be God, who dictates our every notion of him. Others believe that aliens would even care to look in upon a people as convoluted as us. Undoubtedly there is some Bible thumper out there who thinks that God made aliens too and that is proof of their existence. Nonetheless, all arguments for or against the subject have little basis in fact.

  30. Ed Nowak Says:

    Michael Shermer briefly alluded to Project Mogul but didn’t have enough time to expand on it. The Roswell incident was the crash of a high altitude balloon train that included a special microphone and a means of transmitting to a ground or airborne receiver. It was designed to remain at a relatively stationary high altitude for extended periods and to listen for missiles and explosions. Of course there was a coverup because it was a highly secret endeavor involving military intelligence. The famous photos of Maj. Jesse Marcel and Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey with some of the debris show that was they found is entirely consistent with a crashed balloon train (over 600 feet long) from Project Mogul. NYU was involved in the development of the technology, and a New York subcontractor was a toy manufacturer who helped build the assembly and often had to use whatever was available due to shortages. (This was shortly after the end of WW2, remember.) The reflecting material on the balsa frames of the wreckage was some kind of pinkish purple tape with heart and flower designs on it. It was tape they also used in their regular toy manufacturing business. And it is the source of the reports of strange “hieroglyphics”. It amazes me that the Roswell crash has been so well explained and yet people insist on believing in their woo woo. For those who are interested, the 1997 book on the subject is still available: The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don’t Want You to Know by Kal K Korff. A fundamental error made by many posters here is to assume that because a phenomenon remains unexplained that it must therefore be due to alien activity. That is intellectually lazy and dishonest, and it reveals ignorance of how evidence and science actually works. But I’m under no illusions that those who believe that aliens crashed at Roswell and who read this will also read the book I’ve mentioned and suddenly realize they were wrong all along. Those moonbats will always be with us, unfortunately.

  31. bruce Says:

    Mr. Morgan (8) cites a number of conspiracies that were eventually exposed (most in a rather short time). Conspiracies are so short-lived because it is so difficult to contain them. As Mark Twain said, “Two people can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.”

  32. G. Nanoski Says:

    I agree with Kari about the monumental nature of a conspiracy and how it is human nature to talk, talk, talk. No way so many 1,000s of people could be kept quite whether you are talking about Roswell UFO crash debris and bodies or the 9/11 stuff. A skeptic such as Shermer can occupy the intellectual high ground because what he was rebuffing was pure conjecture and personal opinions. As to the comment from Rutgersjaffo about “extraordinary claims” being a subjective…it simply means if something you are claiming is true has no proof and/or if it’s existence threatened mountains and mountains of established facts and theory, you had better have some AMAZING EVIDENCE

  33. Ken Chadwick Says:

    While I choose to not take a position on either side of this debate (I am unconvinced for and against the reality of space aliens), I have to declare that I have formed an opinion on Mr. Shermer. He has provided valuable commentary on many of the “issues” that seem to generate emotional responses from the general public. We all know that creationists base their opinions on a collection of suspect writings, and that others base their beliefs of extra-terrestial creatures on equally suspect film footage.

    Yet, Michael Shermer seems reluctant to step outside his cultivated skin of skepticism and apply his learning to his own research heirarchy. It may be a bit of a recursive methodology, but would it not make sense that one should question one’s own methodology?

    Would it not make more sense to assert that Biblical creation is, based on quantifiable evidence, say, 98% unlikely, and that visitors from outer space may represent a chance of 80%. After all, there are more “photographs” of flying saucers than there are of Moses, Jesus, John the Baptist, and all virgin mothers put together.

    By the way, I would like to add that I believe that there are U.F.O.s. Remember that the “U” stands for unidentified. A floating garbage bag with a candle, that has been spotted, but not recovered is classed as “unidentified”.

  34. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    The funny part of this is that one side says ‘It’s real because I have seen it’ while the other says ‘It is not real because I have NOT seen it. Neither side has a lock on the truth. Again, our theories and ideas are based upon what we KNOW. There is ALWAYS the truth of things which are beyond our knowing. Let us not forget that science at one time proved conclusively using sound methods and accepted reasoning that it is physically impossible for a human being to run a four-minute mile. How did that work out again?

  35. G. Nanoski Says:

    The “other side” (science) would not be happy with just seeing it. Again…that is not how science works. Science exists as a check and balance against the overload of sensory stimuli that is processed by our brains, and guess what? Most of the information we receive about the “real” world around us is utterly and completely wrong no matter how subjectively true it may “feel” to the one experiencing it. Science gets closer to the “truth” than any other methodology our species has ever thrown at the universe. Hence all the applied science (technology) we all depend on for our very survival. The laws of Physics that would have to be warped or violated for some of these extraterrestrial claims to be true would mean the very technology that we are using to communicate would be impossible because the physics that underlies it would be wrong. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to believe in ghosts or spiritual energy escaping your brain at death, you shouldn’t use cell phones or any other technology based on a clear understanding of how electrons behave and work. You can’t deny the theory of evolution and go to your doctor to get a prescription for antibiotics because this medicine exists due to our understanding of the very scientific principle that is being rejected. The more believers in alien visitation and spacecraft crash debris insist on their claims being true…the more they are actually rejecting the reality that has thus far been illuminated by the collective scientific enterprise.

  36. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    If the eventual argument is that ‘no matter what you see, you cannot believe it,’ then we are all in the same boat: We can know nothing and speak with authority of nothing. Be careful how you try and prove someone wrong, you may just cut out your own legs…

  37. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    Or to put it another way, telling every person who thinks they saw something not from Earth (Or not from this dimension, to open wider the doors of perception.) that they are wrong because someone else says so is in large part relying on the perceptions of others, something that goes against the very assertion being presented as per perception and reality.

  38. Dale Says:

    Re Who is best equipped to observe UFOs?” The Military was agreed on, but how many astronomers have reported seeing alien craft (as opposed to ufo)?

  39. G. Nanoski Says:

    It is not about “no matter what you see, you cannot believe it”. We are not all in the same boat. You may very well have seen something, but your internal subjective interpretation of it may be wrong. How would you know for sure? The scientific method. If your claim cannot be falsified….than it is not worth the time to consider it seriously. Science proceeds by the careful and deliberate proving and disproving of hypotheses (more disproving by far). As for getting my legs cut off from beneath me, science has engaged in just this sort of activity whenever a claim has been unable to be established with evidence, facts and theory. And I am not saying that if someone thinks they saw something from another world or thinks they have experienced another dimension (drug use or fatigue) is wrong outright….but they have no evidence. All they have are words coming out of their mouth. Nothing more. To argue that we are relying on the perception of others is to again completely betray an ignorance of science. The vast majority of people who get on planes are relying on the voluminous quantities of evidence and data from physics and aerodynamics to get them off the ground. They don’t understand it nor do they have to because the plane gets off the ground for the simple reason that the theories and laws that govern physics and aerodynamics have been proven true.

  40. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    I agree completely that the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. What I find fault with is dismissing the idea outright. Again, our knowledge has limits and we make our decisions within those limits. If our own physicists are now open to the idea of folding spacetime and travelling faster than the speed of light as a consequence–an idea born in the last fifty years–then is it not hubris to flat-out deny that others who have been playing the game longer than us may very well have begun to employ those very methods? Do we need proof? Absolutely. But is smug laughter and dismissal true science? No.

  41. Robert Neary Says:

    I find it incredible in this day and age ANYONE is still has any interest whatsoever in this topic. Larry King must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to air such a worn out and completely discredited issue. I am surprised that Dr. Shermer didn’t pass on participating in this discussion as not even being worth his valuable time. It certainly wasn’t worth my time to watch this inane program, I bailed after three minutes.

    Now a program about WHY people have a need to believe this stuff would have been interesting. Unfortunately this level of discourse would be above the comprehension of Mr. King, so don’t look for that topic on his show anytime soon.

  42. G. Nanoski Says:

    General and Special Relativity have been proven by the way…so folding spacetime is not an idea that one has to be open to. It just is. As for faster than light speed travel, even if the theoretical equations that postulate it were proven, we are talking about quantum sized dimensions of travel, even if you are talking about the higher harmonics of hypothetical other dimensions like in M theory….we are still in the realm of the very very tiny. If there were others out there who having been playing the game longer than us and were physically manipulating that which is only theoretical physics to us….would we not be able to perceive with our telescopes the undeniable signature of their warping, bending and manipulating of spacetime to get to our part of the cosmic neighborhood? Such exotic manipulation of the universe would not occur without some major observable repercussions in our night skies. I don’t know about the smug laughter, but dismissal of a claim that makes a mockery of what we already know and does not represent a falsifiable anomoly (that can be tested) to any current theories being pursued is a waste of time and oxygen. “I want to believe” as the poster in Agent Moulder’s office says, but I don’t because there is no evidence and because I don’t that is a dismissal of the claim. You don’t think that Carl Sagan wanted to believe in life from other worlds coming to our planet to visit? Of course he did, but as a true skeptic, he had to reject these claims because there was no evidence… you could actually make the argument that dismissal is a part of true science. Continental Drift was dismissed until the evidence became overwhelming for what we today call Plate Tectonics.

  43. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    And the four minute mile?

  44. Mongo Says:

    “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons”. These words by Shermer (see Why People Believe Weird Things) sum up the arguments by Rutgersjaffo. Yes, a UFO needs to land at the White House or the Kremlin. They don’t travel trillons of miles, IF (the verifiable, reproducible, evidence is simply NOT there)they exist, to mutilate cows and seduce lonely housewives. Conspiracies? Come on! Did we land on the moon? Ask the Russians. They would never have allowed us to fake it, EVER! Face it, argument is useless. Some people arrive at a conclusion and that’s that. No matter how hard you try to show them the flaws in their thinking they will not ever see it. Evolution has graced them with the genes that have prepared a part of their brains to be highly credulous and no amount of discussion will help. They are at one end the bell shaped curve never to arrive at the golden mean.

  45. G. Nanoski Says:

    What about the four minute mile? Those that extrapolated from data on wind resistance and drag on the body were going beyond the scope of their expertise and taking a probability and talking about it as though it were resolute fact. Egg on their face…no doubt about it. It would be like your average weather person saying there is a 100% chance of a particular temperature being reached on a specific day. They can’t do that and they shouldn’t do that. That is what the anti-four minute milers did. I still don’t know what that has to do with fuzzy photos and stories of abduction that come out of the mouths of those who insist that UFOs are the product of beings not of this world? I am fairly certain that it can be extrapolated from the same data used by the anti-four minute milers a specific probability for a human to break the four minute barrier. A true scientist would have put all the data out there.

  46. JMC Says:

    Please, the UFO evidence doesn’t exist. Michael Shermer is asking for evidence and there is none.

    Talking over Michael doesn’t make you right. Talking louder isn’t evidence. My uncle’s sister’s friend saw this craft isn’t evidence.

    A cover up of something this extraordinary simply isn’t possible. Use common sense people. I’ll believe in aliens when there is evidence. I’m willing to believe when there is evidence.

    It’s covered up is the only arguement they have and it doesn’t hold water. You can apply that arguement to anything. There are still huge dinosaurs alive today but we don’t know that because it’s covered up. Give me a break.

  47. Aaron Says:

    The argument seems simple enough to me. The skeptics say “show me some evidence that cannot be falsified through experiment and observation” and the believers say “there’s tons of evidence and you’re ignoring it! Why don’t you believe us?” Back and forth it goes ad infinitum. The skeptics are labeled “close minded” and the believers are “wishful thinkers”. Skeptics are not saying aliens don’t exist — they’re saying we have yet to be given any compelling evidence to suggest that they’ve been to earth. UFOs DO exist…but they can be converted from “unidentified” to “identified” — it doesn’t logically follow that if they remain unidentified then extra-terrestrials must have built and flown them. Leaping to the conclusion that UFOs are flown/levitated/hyperspaced by creatures from “out there” because we don’t have an immediate answer to what that blurry spot I photographed was harkens back to the days when religion was invented and we still lived in caves….

  48. Gary Comingore Says:

    There is no evidience which supports that unidentifed flying objects are interplanetary (or interdimensional) craft. Period. There are many unidentified flying objects which have been photographed, witnessed, recorded by trained observers, caught on very sensitive electronic equipment. These are very real; but they are only unidentified.
    Science has demonstrated a belief that there is likely life on other planets; at present, there is no evidence of same.
    Until there is evidence of life on other planets, of interplanetary or interdimensional travel craft, to say otherwise is asinine or disingenuous.
    However, it is a great way to separate fools from their money.

  49. G. Nanoski Says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Gary…..

  50. Rutgersjaffo Says:

    On that one, we agree completely. I sure don’t spend any cash on these things, lol!

  51. 73Steve Says:

    Dr. Shermer makes an important point: Trained observers are not necessarily reliable. By the way, what is a trained observer anyway? I’ve been a military and airline pilot since 1984. I’m sure the UFOlogists would consider me a trained observer. But, I’ve never had any training in the skills of observation. Neither has anyone else I know. Is there really such a thing as a trained observer?

  52. Fuqface Says:

    The fact that a frm gov. can sit there and say ” I think it was from another world” because it was big and on the news is disturbing but, not surprising.

    Friedman: 40 years of work with no physical proof. SAD :(

    Haven’t we wasted enough time on this debate? Until “UFOlogists” come up with physical proof they shouldn’t be allowed to sit next to credible personalities (Buzz/Shermer).

  53. Toliver Says:

    Good job, Michael! Michael should bring in the “Dewey Wins!” newspaper headline next time.

  54. Allen Says:

    What surprises me most is the tenacity of the ufologists! To cling to a belief based on hearsay so ferociuosly is acceptable for children; it is sadly comical, however, when a panel of adult “experts” assert without question and without evidence that aliens have visited earth. I think the argument has progressed far beyond asking for/providing evidence as the believers are too heavily invested in their belief to believe otherwise. If believers were given a personal guided toured and shown that there are no aliens at Roswell, they would simply respond with “conspiracy”. If the 2 old men from England who started the crop circle craze back in the ’80’s were to invite them into their living room, have chat and an ale and explain how this crazy thing got started, they would cry “lier”. If the young guys were to explain how they started the Phoenix Lights hoax, the credulous would say, “yeah maybe the first one, but what about all the others?” If Michael Shermer were to accurately point out that our current image of Aliens was derived from early ’50’s science fiction b-movies, they would simply reply with “and where do you think think the writers of those early movies got their image of aliens, mister smarty pants? That’s right, they (the writers)were the first abductees!” And around and around we go!

    My point is this: believers are unresonable as they cannot accept that they may be wrong. They don’t understand science and are not open to debate on any issue regardless of the lack of evidence. They don’t understand the difference between anecdotal and empirical evidence or, if they do, the benefit of their belief outweighs the benefits of accepting it as nonsense. We, as scientists and skeptics, must cease the debate with the claimants. Unfortunately, the deck (within the context of the debate) is always stacked against the critical thinkers – people want to believe in the magical and, when they do, devolve into unreasonable creatures from the 14th century. In this case, Michael Shermer was the lone critical thinker against this panel of experts. Unfair, but he clearly held his own. Speak up, stand up, challenge the nonsense, but don’t subject yourself to a debate with people who are absolutely unreasonable.

  55. Karl Says:

    Shermer was cut off time after time, but Buzz Aldrin had enough respect from the others that they let him talk. I thought that he was very convincing.

  56. Nova Says:

    I am not a scientist, but I found the comments by Michael Shermer to be absolutely logical. I think the fact that many people saw something is reasonable but translating these observations into scientific fact, no matter how alluring…now that sounds like thinking from another planet, one not as advanced in its thinking as Earth.
    Emotion is not fact and aggressive emotion doesn’t convince many people. The calm logic of Mr Shermer would incline me to listen carefully to what he says.

  57. sittingbytheriver Says:

    I have seen a UFO personally. It was daytime, morning actually, with a clear blue sky. A silent elliptical object, with a reflective silvery surface, moving smoothly across the heavens.

    I never thought it might be an alien spacecraft. Just because something is unidentifiable doesn’t mean it is a spaceship from the far reaches of the universe. LOL

  58. Allen Says:

    I agree with Nova that it is reasonable to expect that the believers have indeed seen or experience something. It is also reasonable to expect that they can neither explain nor understand what they saw or experienced. The unreasonable aspect is their unwillingness to accept the possibility that what they saw was both explainable and of this world. Then, of course, there are those who claim to have seen only to reap the benefits of their 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the gullibility of the masses and the collusion of the media in their charade.

  59. Bob Says:

    Allen described Michael Shermer as “the lone critical thinker” but I submit that Buzz Aldrin was effective in discussing the probabilities of these events all happening in the last 60 years and in summation when he characterized the whole discussion as a continuation of the previous night’s show on illusionists.

  60. Allen Says:

    You’re absolutely right Bob. My apologies to Mr. Aldrin for overlooking his contributions to the cause! And he was such a gentleman.

  61. Bill Says:

    Right on Bob, i think Michael and Buzz were very effective.

    I do have to ask (being from the UK) how do you guys across the pond watch tv when there are adverts on every 3-4 mins!!!!! i thought it was bad here but a 2 hour movie must take about a week to watch with all the advertising going on!!!

  62. Edward Henry Says:

    I’ve seen two UFO’s in my life, so I’m not as dismissive of the subject as Michael and Buzz. However, I don’t automatically attribute what I saw to anything other than what they were: Unidetified Flying Objects. I was in the Air Force and I was a private pilot and I’m absolutely convinced that what I saw were not convential aircraft. That doesn’t mean they were not from this world, which most likely they were. I just don’t have an explanation for them. There are too many reports of objects in our skies for me not to think that something is happening in our air space for which we do not have an explanation. Perhaps the military or the defense industry have that explanation and aren’t going public with their projects at this time. Like Michael and Buzz, I want a scientific explanation. Unlike them, I don’t think the so called UFO Community should be belittled and dismissed so out of hand. I would love it if there were a full scale scientific investigation into the subject would commence. Perhaps then we could get to the bottom of it all, one way or the other.

  63. Kevin Geyer Says:

    Hey Michael, why are you wasting your time with these fanatics? You will never convince them that their beliefs are specious but that is not your burden. The obligation of proof is upon the claimant and their “evidence” is lacking. I wish you would tackle something more cogent like the global warming hoax and the political climate scams that are about to destroy our economy.

  64. John Vezina Says:

    Interesting how much emotion is expressed in these comments by both sides of this issue. The issue is not resolvable without physical evidence, I think. As for government cover ups, well, we’ll never know. Also, it’s not likely Area 51 or other military installations will start hiring tour guides any time soon.

    Having said that, people have undoubtedly seen some pretty weird stuff that defies conventional explanation. Even before modern times and before aircraft, ancient peoples have written and painted about very similar objects.

    Governments can keep secrets a long time, especially if they seed our culture with disinformation.

  65. Allen Says:

    Do the math. Think about the size of the universe or just this galaxy. Try, with a finite mind, to comprehend the infinite. Think for a moment how truly large the universe is. Then scale down to the our local planet. Think of the number of people that would have to be involved in a government cover-up and the odds that tens of thousands of people would or could remain silent for over 50 years. Think of the odds that no one, ever, would actually retain a single piece of physical evidence of an alien or their space caraft. Try to imagine how a small “flying saucer” could traverse light years of empty space or, if they traveled here in a “mother ship”, what the oddds would be that, given the thousands of telescopes trained on the night sky, that it would never be detected. Think for a moment why we have never received any radiosignals from anywhere in the galaxy that would be consistent with intelligent life. And if we did, how they could be covered up for so long. Always think of the math. And when you have done that, apply Occam’s Razor. Without exception, even when the object is “unexplanable” within a current context, our only reasonable assertion must be that whatever we saw, regardless of how other-worldy we imagine it to be, is that it originated on this planet. I think it’s okay to say, “Wow! That was cool! I have no idea what I just saw”. And then extrapolate (based on the odds) that the only reasonable explanation is that it is from here and that I simply lack the necessary tools to make sense of what I saw. Think how cool it is that even in this age of technology we can still be amazed at what this earth has to offer!

  66. Matthew Says:

    I’ve seen a UFO, you’ve seen a UFO, we’ve all seen a UFO. I doubt any of us have seen an extra-terrestrial spacecraft. When did UFO = aliens from outer space? Why can’t it be left at “unidentified”? Because people have imaginations and like to speculate. Why do we have imaginations? Evolution spared those with an imagination because it leads to innovation and advancement. Evolution further spared those with confidence in their beliefs, for practical (action-oriented) and social (charismatic) reasons. It is difficult to learn to distrust one’s own mind, which skepticism requires. Beleiving in the fantastic feels good, it has the ‘WOW’ factor, that’s why we watch movies. We pay to suspend our belief and imagine.

    It is a mistake to believe something simply because you want it to be so, or because you fear it. I want but one thing: TRUTH (or fact / objectivity / skepticism / critical philosophy depending on your definition)

    The unexamined life is not worth living ~ Socrates

  67. Tom Di-Grazia Says:

    At 11 pm on the evening of September 11, 2001 in Melbourne, Australia, I saw on TV the second airplane crash into one of the Trade Centre buildings in New York. Within minutes of the first plane having crashed into the first building, millions of people around the world were watching on their TV sets what was happening.
    In the days, weeks and months that followed most of the people on this planet saw the event broadcast over and over again.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Aliens who, judging by the many reports in the last 60 years, regularly visit our planet were to just simply ‘ HOVER ‘ above the central business district of one of the many greatly-populated cities of this world, like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris etc., for only an hour or two during day hours, instead of during the night, so that WE ALL would be able to see clearly at least their Great Space-Ships if not the Aliens themselves in the flesh. No doubt all of those people who were unfortunate to miss the ‘ LIVE ‘ performance would subsequently see it on their TV sets, replayed over and over again, just like the 911 event in New York in 2001.

    Alas, our alien cousins are extremely shy, and prefer to visit us only at night when they feel safer to be seen only by a small number of ‘ select ‘ people ; preferably those who believe in them.

    Yes, I am certainly convinced, on Statistical Probability alone (astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 Billion Galaxies) that there is life in other parts of this Universe, including intelligent life at least as intelligent as humans on this planet, notwithstanding scientists telling us of the Great Fortuitous circumstances that brought about Life to begin and Evolve on this planet over the last 4,500 million years.

    However, as to the Probability of one Super-Intelligent civilization travelling to another part of the universe to find Life, let alone finding another intelligent civilization, I am inclined to think that such a Probability is very close to Zero, and there are therefore other explanatioins for the UFO’s that people continue to see. But I could be Very Wrong ………………….

    Tom Di-Grazia / Melbourne / Australia

  68. P. Aznavwrian Says:

    To my astonishment arguments are heavier than facts; valid testimonies are neglected; evidences are absent and so the feast works very well. To discuss this kind of matters much more time is requiered: to debate in order, to let the testimonies extend in detalis, to call all sorts of parts interested, and so on and so forth. Mr. Shermer disappointed me because of his narrow minded comments on any thing that was affirmed by the rest of the panelists: many things are truthts yet to be verified in Mr Shermer´s criterions, yet they are commonly accepted by the scientific community as part of hard science facts whose demonstrations are just formal abstractions that make sense within the prevalent paradigm. This doesn´t mean that I expect that every “testimony, sighting, or allegedly collected materials and apparitions” should be taken as “good valid evidence”; that is also a plainly stupid approach. Is any body working something in between? building up the collection of arguments to filter good from hoaxed or false evidence, of any sort? I think this is needed, otherwise we will be in the middle of these kind of persona attempts to “win” the discussion, but not in the firm ground of the kind of judmental argumentation actually needed for such an “elusive” collections of phenomena.

  69. Mitch Says:

    I like many others, have extensive time in the air(I’m an airline captain with more than 15,000 hrs). Unlike many others, I realize that it doesn’t matter what one believes or what one wishes to be true. Reading a book or watching a movie is evidence for the gullible. Eye witness reports, photos, and video are suspect at best. Shermer and Aldrin are right. Show us all some hardware. To hitch their wagon to speculation makes these UFOligists look rather silly.

  70. Wyrd One Says:

    Alot of people are very invested emotionally with different ideas that Science does not embrace. Skeptics always point out that there is a lack of evidence surrounding these ideas whether it’s Alien Abduction/Visitation, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, ESP or somewhat less loopy ideas like the JFK conspiracy. This emotional investment makes it hard to admit that what they believe is wrong. At a certain point for some people it becomes almost a religion. When Michael Shermer goes on a program like this he is speaking to those people who haven’t made up their minds yet. The believers are not likely to be convinced but it should never be thought of as a waste of time. In my youth I ardently believed in Ancient Astronauts. I would argue any time any where and I was convinced I won every one of those arguments. Today I am a skeptic. “I got better” to quote Monty Python (several times in the Holy Grail!) It is a good idea when saying “there is no evidence” that you explain why – as several people here have – in order not to seem pretentious to the people you want to reach. Eventually those truly interested will arrive at the truth if they have their minds open and their “thinking caps” on. This has been a wonderful discussion thread and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks to all!

  71. Paul Says:

    I’m starting to think that most of the people that have problems with the UFO theory have not done their research on it and just lapped up the opposing argument. I had a heated debate with a skeptic (of which I am too, I enjoy E-skeptic and agree on most of it except when it comes to UFO’s) and he made it very clear to me that he didn’t have to look into UFO’s to know it’s bunk. I think that’s the most telling, and of course I’m still great friends with him. We will just never ever agree on UFOs.

    I heard one argument that UFO’s are like God, no evidence. I don’t know what planet that guy is on but there is MUCH more evidence for ET’s then the invisible sky daddy.

  72. Wyrd One Says:

    Anyone who is a true skeptic ought to understand the problem we have with what passes for evidence in the UFO community. Eyewitness testimony is all there is. There is no physical evidence. Why does the UFO community turn to Government Conspiracy? To account for this lack. Saying we haven’t done our research if we disagree with you is ridiculous. You have no idea how much research any of us has done. Assumption is the mother of all foul-ups and assuming your research is better than others is just wrong. Agreeing to disagree with your opponents is all well and good until you call them ignorant. There may be some people who just regurgitate what they’ve heard others say but you won’t be able to determine that from a two paragraph posting.

  73. micahd Says:

    as always, pseudoscience can be debunked with a combination of critical thinking and the scientific method. thank you dr. shermer for being the voice of reason against the growing irrationalism of our society.

  74. micahd Says:

    notice how the ufologists consistently try to force a false dilemma: either the stories are true or the eyewitnesses are lying. they completely leave out the possibility that the eyewitnesses are mistaken due to things like confirmation bias, expectation effects, and a host of other well understood psychological phenomena. once you recognize that the psychological research has well established the fact that humans are very poor observers, you weaken the case for such radical claims. but ufologists and other pseudoscientists who understand next to nothing of the psychological research and scientific method completely fail to understand this.

  75. Arnold Klein Says:

    I don’t know if anyone has ever been to the UFO Museum in Roswell. But I will share my experience. I thought Roswell would be a quaint little town with a gas station and a museum… okay, maybe it would have a restaurant.

    Roswell New Mexico is a town of 50,000 and is the Mozzorella Cheese Capital of the world.

    If you really want proof that Roswell has never been visited by Aliens simply go to the Museum. Depending on the High School you went to, it is either one step up or one step below your typical high school science fair. I suspect the technology on display at most of today’s high schools is 10 times better than what you will find in the museum. One step into that edifice convinced me that we certainly have no evidence that aliens visited Roswell and if that is the best evidence for all UFO explanations there probably has any Aliens visitors to our planet.

    On another note. Roswell does have a great Art Museum that has a recreation of Robert Goddard’s laboratory with actual instruments and models of rockets he used in his tests. It is a shame that this worthwhile part of Roswell gets buried in the basement of a museum while the tourists flock to the UFO Museum on main street. A bit ironic that so much science lies in the basement of a museum and the UFO stuff lies in a barely refurbished old movie theatre. Wait a minute. Maybe it is not ironic but fitting… in a sort of 1950’s horror movie sort of way.

  76. Laura Says:

    I really enjoyed Buzz Aldrin’s contribution to this discussion. I admit to listening to C2C because it’s usually interesting what people believe in and why.
    However, I have always been skeptical for the very reasons that Buzz pointed out.
    I like Shermer’s demeanor and approach to dealing with the true believers. Many skeptics are so condescending and cynical that it ruins these discussions. Call it the softer side of skepticism, a term borrowed from the Truth-driven Thinking podcast.
    I am very impressed with Michael Shermer. Glad this video is available on the site.

  77. Jeremy Says:

    I thought Michael did a good job, considering the restraints of the show format. I reject the notion that he “laughs off” or otherwise dismisses UFO claims – he consistently and emphatically emphasized the requirements of science in terms of evidence. As he said repeatedly, witness accounts etc are good starting points, but cannot be used to come to a conclusion. Physical evidence is what is required. Many of the guests cite unusual and difficult-to-explain occurrences. But on what basis can any conclusion be made? We can’t assume “aliens” when we have yet to establish they even exist! Michael says we need something physical to come to a conclusion. But after 62 years of sightings and claims, not a single piece of physical evidence, whether in the form of a piece of a spacecraft or an alien corpse, has been produced as confirmation of an alien visitation.

    And, instead of simply “brushing off” claims he doesn’t believe in, he asks a basic question, one that the UFO proponents never satisfactorily answer: Why would governments hide knowledge of such visitations? It is a given – and Michael says this – that government lie. But why lie about this?

    People like Stanton like to cite some possible reasons here, but one presumption almost always comes forward, and that is the “government” is the AMERICAN government, as if aliens have a focus on America as being the only “government” around. Which is more than a little weird. But even if we assume that the American government has some compelling reason to hide this knowledge and lie about it, which is certainly within the range of possibility (and something nearly impossible to disprove thus guaranteeing the perpetuity of the debate until an actual alien is produced), why would aliens landing in, say, Warsaw or Santiago be subject to the same obsessive government secrecy as the presumed aliens who landed in Roswell or elsewhere in America? In other words, the whole premise that “government” would want to hide knowledge of confirmed alien contact is that EVERY government on the planet where aliens might have landed would have identical incentives to hide this fact. I personally find that hard to believe. Given the fact that places like Roswell have bent over backwards to promote their alien “connection,” one can just imagine some town or state or country leaping at the chance to cash in on tourism to see the alien artifacts. But that hasn’t happened, has it?

    Further, the Fermi paradox asks the question: If aliens are out there, why haven’t they visited? While those like Stanton say they have visited, these “visits” are always by aliens who have some presumed incentive to remain hidden. But why? If we are to presume some sort of Star Trek-style “Prime Directive” on non-interference in cultures, why are we only being visited (to extend the Star Trek analogy) by peaceful non-intrusive Vulcans and not warring, expansionist Klingons or Romulans? And this isn’t just in the present time, but over the perhaps BILLION years advanced civilizations may have existed in our galaxy (given what we know about stellar evolution and the time needed for civilizations to expand through the galaxy with slightly advanced technology, several million years)? Yet we have no sign of any alien artifacts, nor any sign that life on this planet is nothing but indigenous.

    In the end, it is not that Michael is being some sort of curmudgeon by demanding physical evidence. He is simply requesting some sort of evidence which would establish as fact one of the great mysteries of our time – whether we are alone in the universe – and to acknowledge that such proof would mark one of the great watersheds in our history.

    Which is why we need a LOT more than we are getting from people talking about sticks with hieroglyphics and unidentified objects in the skies.

  78. Alison R. Says:

    Rutgersjaffo wrote, “Look, I am not saying I believe every single person who claims to have seen a UFO, but they aren’t ALL lying or mistaken.”

    There were over 1,000 sightings recorded last year in Canada, over 400 so far this year in Britain. And the U.S.? Over 5,000 resorts. That’s just three countries representing one single year. Many of these people witnessed a sighting from different times during the calendar year, which implies different UFOs. So even if only half were to believed, it would appear we are being inundated with different alien crafts hundreds of times a year….each and every single year. The credibility is shot here. Logic would imply that the vast majority (or more likely, everyone) are mistaken. Reason would be that even if an extra-terrestrial society could overcome the physics of such a visit, it would be a rare occurrence, not something reported multiple times around the world, every single day.

  79. James Pettit Says:

    This comment is addressed to all those who have voiced their reactions to the Larry King episode on UFOs.

    If you are genuinely interested in this issue, then I recommend that you read Richard Dolan’s book, “UFOs and the National Security State”.

    Of the many books on UFOs which I have read, this one is by far the most scholarly and serious in tone. I only wish that Skeptic magazine would see fit to review it (pardon me if the magazine has already done so).

  80. Dee Says:

    @Jeremy – Thank you – a very sound, logical (albeit still somewhat anecdotal to be fair) assessment of the “government conspiracy” aspects of alleged UFO Cover-ups. It is one of the more balanced perspectives that I’ve read on the topic…

    Now for my personal ramble…

    I think if a person remains truly unbiased – neither science, or religion or so-called “pseudoscience” for that matter, has an answer to the question of aliens or non-terrestrial (or perhaps terrestrial, but non traditionally understood) forms of life. No matter how vehemently you argue EITHER side of this debate, the simple fact is the “unknown” remains unknown until it becomes known. I’m not trying to be cute either – really think about that for a moment.

    However, I do not object to hearing varying arguments for either side, nor do I reject hard evidence, to the best of my own understanding when presented (sorry, 2+2 will always equal 4, not lemon). It seems to me the heart of this issue, like so many today, is that one side MUST be right when neither side of the debate can lay claim to having evidence and or knowledge that specifically answers the question. Right now, all we do know is that the majority of our determination on the topic of extraterrestrial life comes from the sheer LACK of empirical evidence that it does exist, based on our current abilities and understandings. Period.

    An athlete will tell you the world is best served by exercise and general focus on the physicality of fitness. A doctor will tell you that the answers to life’s dilemmas lie primarily in balanced eating, exercise and regular “maintenance” (checkups,etc.)… Academics will offer the perspective that a healthy life without the benefit of a good knowledge base (education) is no life at all and therein lie the solutions to the world’s problems… Scientists will favor an emphasis on evidence and reverse engineering (which is largely what all scientific discoveries are based on) for their take on the “meaning of life” stuff. And of course, religion or spiritual experts will tell you that a focus on things of the soul/spirit or faith in things not measured by the others mentioned, is the only solution to the terrible evils we foist on one another.

    I think we have only to raise our heads up a bit, look around to realize we are simply infants in a billions of years old (to our current understanding) universe, and it is likely that there are MANY puzzles out there that don’t have “answers” that we understand yet. So I tend to land in this camp:

    I do believe that sentient, or self-aware, life exists outside of our current species and outside of our current understanding. IN fact, everything we’ve learned thus far, infants that we are, indicates this is highly likely. Whether it comes from what we call the stars or universe, or whether it comes from new understandings of the states of existence and life itself is pretty much wide open…

    And sorry – science is just ONE aspect of our understanding. Be of good cheer people – there’s LOTS and LOTS more to discover out there yet and standing on one side of line and holding our breath or yelling really loud in an attempt to force the person on the other side of that line we’re right and have THE TRUTH for everyone just don’t work yet. Hasn’t worked for as long as we’ve existed as a matter of fact. But yet we keep doing it – go figure.

    Maybe its okay that some people believe in little gray aliens (or Nordic-like ones, or the brain-sucking ones, or the shimmering light ones) and its okay that some don’t.

    Ironically, to me, scientists are no different than religious leaders. In religion you have those who are “called” to be our spiritual leaders – and unlike the rest of us poor schmucks, have something special about them (they claim directly and divinely given to them by a particular god or spirit or whatever) to help enlighten the rest of us and “save us from” *shudder* ourselves.

    Science is the same – apparently these guys have access to “knowledge” (i.e. their overinflated estimation of their particular brand of ‘intelligence’) that the rest of us poor, ignorant, dark-age living saps don’t, and it is their job, particularly those in the role of skeptic, to help inform, elucidate and rebuke those of us who are really ‘nice, simple, folk’ but just don’t “get it”. (And they often do it with a very condescending, but well-intentioned pat on the head ta boot!)

    Frankly, I’ll take my chances with a willingness to understand that science, academics, physicality and spirituality all play a pretty important role in my day to day life and that while we’re all seemingly interdependent, I can think for myself and my OWN experiences and archaeology (past) coupled with new adventures will define who I am. Right or wrong is completely subjective, beyond our instinctive desire to continue to exist individually and as a species. And if I chose to believe in the possibility of aliens or insist that they are are just the figments of a deluded imagination, I’ll still continue to eat, breath, poop and pee and I’ll still die.

    Btw, can someone name just ONE discovery from the annals of science that has actually benefited humanity as a whole (benefited as in with only good stuff without an equalizing number of side-affects or resulting causalities to mitigate the ‘benefit’ and that drastically changes the resulting equation that has existed as long as our species has: born > live > die)? JUST ONE with empirical evidence please.

  81. btothetwizzle Says:

    The majority of photos are inevitably going to be grainy because if you spot a UFO, take out your cellular phone or any type of camera to point at it at a large sky to catch something so far in the distance, 9/10 it’s not going to look like a crystal clear Hollywood type photo/video worthy enough to get co-signed by a hardcore Skeptic.

    Another main argument for skeptics on this subject is that what was seen could have been ‘x’, but what if ‘x’ has limitations or qualities that what was seen definitely does not? It should go without saying, but that would rule out ‘x’ as the object that was seen. With a large portion of UFO cases, you can repeat this process until the object could only be identified as either: a) A government craft with technology that the general public is not aware of yet, or b) A craft not from this world controlled by ‘y’.

  82. Mr. Smith Says:

    I am a big admirer of Mr. Shermer having read three of his book and many issues of Skeptic magazine. There really is a lot of nonsense that is believed by way too many people. A large amount of it fits into the New Age belief category and that of UFOs. There is a lot of crazy stuff out there regarding UFOs and aliens that people believe without questioning it. The field is full of hoaxes and plain lies. Having said all that I do believe that many UFO cases are indeed credible as is encounters with so called aliens. I don’t agree that there is no evidence. There are way, way too many credible witnesses to dismiss it all as nonsense. It is also understandable to me why governments would want to cover up what they know, and yes they are capable of doing it to a certain degree. Of course they have not been totally successful at this otherwise all the information we have now would not even be available. As to the UFOs, aliens and where they come from is debatable. Many believe they are interdimensional as opposed to interstellar. And just because we human beings haven’t figured out how to make traveling billions of light years away doesn’t mean it is impossible. For a long time no one believed such a thing as airplanes and flying around the world would be possible much less human beings travelling to and walking on the moon. The universe (and others which may exist) is a much, much stranger place than any of us could possibly imagine. It is true that anything is possible but at the same time many things are unlikely. And just because they are unlikely does not guarantee they are impossible. I agree with Mr. Shermer on so many things and have great respect for him. I am grateful that people like him exist and are doing what they do. I have always felt the same way about the late great Carl Sagan but this does not mean I don’t disagree with them on certain issues. I obviously do. I am also aware I could be wrong. Honestly, I hope all the stuff about UFOs, alien encounters, abductions, etc. are not true as I find it all way too disturbing! Contact with alien species is not necessarily a totally good thing, or it could be both good and bad considering what the truth is. I am always willing to listen to both sides of the argument whether it be about UFOs or the existence of God. I have no proof that they do or do not exist; just opinions. It is good we have believers and non believers and that many (though not all) are willing to discuss and debate these issues like logical, rational human beings. That I am very grateful for but keep in mind it is very doubtful that we human beings are the crown of creation and have all the answers.

  83. Mr. Smith Says:

    “The famous photos of Maj. Jesse Marcel and Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey with some of the debris show that was they found is entirely consistent with a crashed balloon train (over 600 feet long) from Project Mogul.” Well if the government wanted to cover something up it makes sense that they could easily concoct a photo like that to prove one thing and disprove another. What that photo shows is not necessarily what crashed. I keep reading here how difficult it would be for the government to keep alien spacecraft and actual aliens secret; that people talk and secrets leaked. Duh! Well that is exactly what has supposedly happened. Insiders have indeed talked and secrets have indeed been leaked..supposedly. I add that word as I personally don’t have any proof one way or another. What I am saying is that the believers have been reporting for a long time that information has indeed leaked out, lies exposed, and secrets told. Those that mention the difficulty of hiding all this by the government, NASA, or whomever seem to totally ignore this! The cover up has NOT been successful. All so called evidence is not just anecdotes. To say so is simply not true. The point I am making is that simply dismissing all of this as cosmic woo woo is a terrible insult to all the very intelligent and credible people that do believe. And these include (gasp!) actual scientists, military personnel, commercial and military pilots, politicians, sincere investigative journalist and more.

  84. Howard Haraway Says:

    First of all,I will admit I am not the sharpest tack in a box,so my grammar might be suspect.This comment is for ALL the Ufologist who attack people like Michael Shermer,and Seth Shostak.These two men work their entire lives trying to answer the most important scientific questions of our times,and you don’t think they would jump all over Alien/UFO’s if they knew the phenomena was real? I am a skeptic,however I’d love to be proven wrong,and I’m sure Shermer,Shostak,and all other Skeptics would to as well.These guys would be so happy to be given first dibs at communicating with an ET. Skeptics are not against the thought of Intelligent life visiting us,it’s just that the proof has yet to beconvincing,and for good reasons.You already know them. Distances between celestial bodies.I’d love to meet these to men,go to a nice pub,sit there all day drinking great beer,and picking their brains.

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