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Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist who is very known for popularizing science in general and astrophysics in particular. There was a discussion panel held at the St. Petersburg College which can be found on YouTube. I warmly recommend watching this, as it's a superb presentation on various aspects of astrophysics.
There's a 10-minute clip submitted separately, which shows the part where Tyson answers the question about UFOs, which is an amazingly well-presented concise presentation not only on science and UFOlogy in particular, but the scientific approach to all natural phenomena in general. If nothing else, I warmly recommend watching this clip.
What I find completely hilarious, however, are the comments people write on that YouTube video. It's simply awesome the inanity of some people's comments defending UFOlogy and the existence of extraterrestrial visitors. Simply reading the comments to that video is an unending source of hilarity.
(In fact, this is a very common trend in YouTube: The more competent, rational and well-made a debunking video is, be it about any controversy or conspiracy theory, be it about UFOs, the Moon landings, the 9/11 attacks, evolution or whatever, the more hilarious the comments people write trying to counter-argument or discredit the video. Most commenters are not even trying to disguise the logical fallacies in the comments.)
Here are a few things found among those comments:
This guy makes good points but knows nothing about UFOlogy.
I find this comment just hilarious. It reminds me of when Einstein famously stated "I do not believe in a personal God" and published a paper justifying this claim, many Catholic clergymen rushed to publicly comment on how Einstein is not an authority in theology, and how Einstein "thinks that because he has achieved a high degree of learning in some field, he is qualified to express opinions in all", as if theology was some kind of valid field of science.
The statement in that YouTube comment presents one of the fundamental problems with UFO believers: They have the delusion that "ufology" is a valid field of science. However, ufology is nothing but a pseudoscience. Its proponents try their hardest to make it look and feel like it was real science, while behind the scenes committing all kinds of unscientific mistakes (which they then accuse real science to be making with respect to ufology).
Ufology is in the exact same category as the moon landing conspiracy theories, homeopathy and intelligent design. They all disguise themselves as "true science", perform all the classical mistakes (ultimately stemming from confirmation bias) and have all kinds of crackpot theories about how "regular science" is in a big conspiracy to keep quiet about them and hide and destroy all evidence which would contradict "established theories".
There's landing marks, rare-earth residue, implants, and best of all, tens of thousands of military incidents - 19% of which are completely unexplained.
This is confirmation bias in action. Not only there is gross exaggeration, but there's an implied total dismissal of the natural explanations for the few examples of any of those claims which might be real examples of rare non-common phenomena.
That's one of the major problems with UFO believers and ufology: When an unexplained phenomenon is discovered or presented, and then scientists study the phenomenon and present a completely natural and logical explanation, backed up with experimental evidence and tons of source references, these explanations are quickly dismissed. Ufologists have the mentality that scientists are closed-minded and simply in denial and trying hard to come up with natural explanations for these phenomena. Hence all these explanations are dismissed without even considering them. (What is worse, many times these explanations are presented by ufologists in the form of straw man arguments, and fellow UFO believers swallow them as "ridiculous" without a second thought, regardless of how much sense they might make and how much experimental evidence there might be.)
Moreover, the last part of that comment shows strongly the effect of argument from ignorance (something which Neil Tyson comments on in his presentation). There's also argument from authority strongly in play.
The "tens of thousands" and "19%" are probably completely made-up numbers. However, even if they were completely accurate and verifiable, it would still mean absolutely nothing.
For some psychological reason people seem to believe that military personnel are somehow better and more reliable eyewitnesses than regular people. I really don't understand where this notion is coming from.
Big news: The vast majority of military personnel, even airplane pilots, are not astronomers, astrophysicists, meteorologists or any kind of scientists at all. They are soldiers, not scientists. When witnessing and trying to understand odd and rare natural phenomena they are in the exact same line as any other layman.
Moreover, even military personnel are humans. Their eyewitness testimony is as reliable as anybody else's. The closest thing that soldiers might be trained for is to observe, identify and report enemy forces. However, this doesn't really give them the background necessary to observe and properly identify rare meteorological or other physical phenomena. (On the contrary, and rather ironically, their training might in fact be biasing their observations in the wrong direction. In other words, since they have been heavily trained to observe and identify enemy aircraft, they will more easily misintrepret unknown phenomena as aircraft even though it really isn't. It's quite probable that fighter jet pilots will more likely misidentify something as a flying aircraft than the average person.)
Even if there was a significant amount of unexplained phenomena observed by military personnel, so what? What does that tell us? Well, big news again: It tells us absolutely nothing. Well, except that soldiers are humans and they don't know everything (something we already knew).
You can't base anything on the fact that some observed phenomena have currently no explanation. Making any kind of claim is argument from ignorance, a fallacy. The only thing that can be said is that there was no team of scientists with their observation and measurement equipment making repeated observations and experiments in order to identify the rare phenomenon.
But this one takes the cake:
Of course astronomers don't report their UFO sightings. They would go out of job.
The inanity of this comment transcends reality. It's in its own plane of existence. The more I think about this comment, the less sense it makes.
Tyson was talking in his presentation about amateur astronomers. They aren't doing it as their job. It's their hobby. However, that's the smallest inanity in that comment.
Exactly how and why would professional astronomers go out of job if UFOs were confirmed to be real by astronomers? Wouldn't it, in fact, be the exact opposite? If the existence extraterrestrial visitors were confirmed, wouldn't that actually increase the demand for astronomy (eg. to study them, to try to make contact with them, etc)? The more I think about it, the less sense that comment makes.
It reminds me of a presentation video I saw about the so-called starchild skull (arguing how it had tons and tons of signs of being of extraterrestrial origin). He was pleading for funding to investigate the skull more and argued how definitive proof that it was extraterrestrial would "cause a big revolution in thinking" in science.
Even if (and that's a quite big "if") it was proven without a doubt to be of extraterrestrial origin, exactly how would it "cause a big revolution in thinking" in science? Exactly how would science change because of that revelation? I would be interested in knowing exactly what would change in science.
This inane concept once again shows the attitude that ufologists (and other pseudoscience proponents) have against mainstream science: They seem to believe that "scientists" are some stubborn old farts who are stuck with their traditional scientific theories and refuse to believe anything that would contradict their limited view of the universe, and are in fact in a big conspiracy to deny, hide and destroy all evidence that would contradict existing theories.
These pseudoscientists just can't grasp the concept that not only does not science work that way, but in fact it can't work that way, even if someone tried to make it. It's just impossible. The scientific community works in a way that makes this kind of global conspiracy a physical impossibility.
Sure, there are some individual scientists who fit the description perfectly. However, science doesn't rely on these few individuals. It cannot rely on them. It's just impossible.
So what exactly would change in science if the skull was confirmed to be of extraterrestrial origin? Not much, really. It would certainly be interesting and probably more projects would be funded to try to find other alien artifacts, and the media would go wild. But science itself wouldn't change much, really. There would be no "big revolution in thinking". It's not like scientists would throw their hands in the air, leave everything and move to the mountains to live in caves. They would do pretty much nothing differently than what they are doing right now. They would think pretty much nothing differently than what they are doing now. The confirmation of extraterrestrial life would be extremely interesting, but it would change nothing on the scientific methodology and approach to the study of natural phenomena. Practically nothing would change.
(Of course since the skull is not of extraterrestrial origin, no matter how much ufologists are struggling, this is rather inconsequential.)
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