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article imageOp-Ed: Flying saucers have landed — or have they?

By Alexander Baron     May 1, 2012 in Science
If recent reports here and elsewhere are to be believed, the world is in the middle of one of its periodic saucer flaps, but how do we sort the wheat from the chaff? David Hume had the answer more than two and a half centuries ago.
The theory of flying saucers sounds good, heck, it sounds irresistible, there are billions of galaxies out there, never mind mere stars. Every one of those galaxies contains millions or billions of stars, some of these stars have planets, and some of those planets will be similar to our own Earth. Even if they are not that similar, for all we know it is possible or indeed likely that life will have evolved on them. Look at the technological progress we have made in the past 30 years, much less the last three hundred. Imagine a civilisation that has a thousand years on us, or a million. Would it not be possible, even likely that such an advanced civilisation would have developed inter-galactic travel, and be monitoring us now?
The only real alternative to that scenario is that we are alone in the Universe, and that maybe it was created just for us, which if nothing else, seems more than a little arrogant.
So where does that leave us as far as flying saucers are concerned? It may be that even experienced pilots can be deceived by the planet Venus, that low flying satellites, meteorites, weather balloons and Chinese lanterns can be mistaken for extraterrestrial craft, that the military is not being entirely truthful with us about some of its more advanced technology, and is happy to play along with UFOlogists and outright cranks. It may be that on one - not entirely serious occasion - what appeared to be a flying saucer was actually a vacuum cleaner, but can all sightings be explained away thus? What about contactees, are they all deluded, or simply liars?
Let's leave the contactees for a minute, and consider only unidentified flying objects, which means of course exactly that, unidentified. What evidence would we need before we acknowledged that one or more of these were actually extraterrestrial craft?
Way back in 1748, the philosopher David Hume wrote in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding that “ testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish...”
This means in effect that miracles don't happen, so that if one, ten or even a million people testify to a miracle, it is still more probable that a million people will be deceived than time will flow backwards, the Earth will stand still, or a man will rise from the dead after being crucified, speared and buried for three days.
The possibility or even the likelihood of advanced civilisations from other worlds visiting ours, monitoring us, even playing silly games with us for their own amusement, is far from miraculous, so the degree of proof required is much less. But it is still extremely high. Ideally, we would need to find a crashed saucer, or better still for one to land on the White House lawn.
There are those who would have us believe the former has actually happened, and that the military - wicked and devious in equal measure - have succeeded either in covering it up, or leaking so much duplicitous propaganda that no one will take the claims of the true believers seriously. Alas, it was not the military, but the likes of a certain crank nuclear scientist - who will remain nameless for legal reasons - who fabricated the MJ12 Saucer Crash Documents, while his ilk are responsible for all the other nonsense about Roswell.
We should never of course underestimate the duplicity of the military, of any government or of any politician, but we should also bear in mind that the government are not the only liars out there, and at times they are not even the biggest ones. Unless and until we see the actual crashed saucer, or meet a bona fide alien, we should rule out the Little Green Men in any way, manner, shape or form.
Finally, what about contactees and even abductees? The modern contactee movement originated with George Adamski, who co-wrote Flying Saucers Have Landed with Desmond Leslie. The fact that anyone outside of the tabloid press ever gave him the time of day is testimony to the gullibility of the American public, a public that can at times be so fickle. Other, equally outrageous testimony originated with George King, or as he preferred to be known Sir George King, OSP, PhD, ThD, DD, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Aetherius Churches.
Unlike George Adamski and George King who exploited the gullibility of their fellow men for material gain, abductees are mostly sincere people, but does anyone believe, hand on heart, that thousands or even millions of Americans - yes, always Americans! - are abducted regularly at night by aliens? There is a much simpler and very prosaic explanation.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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