Saturday, August 1, 2015
Keep An Eye To The Sky
Had yet another conversation with a UFO enthusiast today.
Oy Vey but they are a tiresome lot. Well, not all of them - some of them are educated, articulate, reasonable people who know of the Green Bank Theory, have read the works of Tsiolkovsky, Sagan, Shklovskii, and Guth, examined the Drake equation or the Fermi/Hart paradox, and even studied the Condon Report.
Those people usually cite probability factors and argue that there absolutely just has to be intelligent alien beings visiting the earth in spaceships, or at least sending unmanned probes (such as the human race itself has done to the other planets in our solar system) simply based on the size of the known universe, the estimated age of the universe, and the millions (more likely billions) of solar systems that formed around the billions (more likely trillions) of stars that are clustered in the estimated 170 million (or more?) galaxies in the observable universe.
However, the conversations I have had with people who use math as the basis of their argument for UFO's being alien spaceships or probes usually are just good-natured conjecture and lack the almost invective hyperbole or claims of government cover-ups that the person I was speaking with today used to stress his claims of ET's having visited the earth.
That type of UFO enthusiast, that type of person, is the tiresome lot.
It is not my lack of tolerance for conspiracy theorists who use unproven (or even completely unprovable) claims that makes that type of UFO enthusiast tiresome to me, btw. It is something much different.
It is due to the fact that I used to be one of those types of UFO enthusiasts myself.
See, as a young man (pre-teen, from about the age of eight) I became a compulsive reader, and due to the fact that my mother absolutely loved to read the tabloid newspaper known as the National Enquirer, I too read the National Enquirer - this was the National Enquirer of the '70's, before it became a full-on celebrity scandal sheet. Back then it was primarily filled with stories about the occult, unexplained mysteries such as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, the Abominable Snowman, ESP or other paranormal abilities, and UFO sightings, extraterrestrial contact and alien abductions.
Of course, my mind was still years away from developing any critical thinking capability, so I did not regard those articles as the nonsensical rubbish they were - I took them as literal truth, and became obsessed with learning everything about all of those subjects.
By the time I was 10 I had a library card and I would spend hours in the Skyline Hills Public Library (and later, when my Mom decided I was old enough to ride the bus alone, about the age of 12, at the vast San Diego Public Library on 8th and E streets in downtown San Diego) looking for material that was not just relevant to those subjects, but also supportive.
At one point I was checking out as many books as was allowed per visit (I think the limit was 6) to read and reread as many times as I could before they were due back. I read everything Erich von Daniken, Charles Berlitz (hell, I still have a book by Charles Berlitz, though it is a Spanish language manual), Frank Edwards, Berthold Schwarz, J. Allen Hynek and even Edgar Cayce ever wrote.
That interest and belief in the extraterritorial origins of UFO's, and all those other paranormal topics continued throughout my teens, though my obsession with it waned as I became more interested in art, music, and girls.
The change in my thinking occurred when I was 18, about 6 months after I enlisted in the US Air Force. My first duty assignment after basic was to Holloman AFB just outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico - not too far from the infamous Roswell, New Mexico.
Not knowing a soul when I first arrived at the base (and being assigned a roommate that was an over-the-top, gung-ho military culture nutter - he subscribed to Soldier of Fortune magazine and incessantly talked about becoming a mercenary and joining up with a group of them in Rhodesia, something I could not identify with in the slightest), I soon found myself at the base library on a daiy basis. It was there that I first encountered a publication that changed my life.
The base subscribed to local newspapers from a large number of cities and towns from all over the U.S. so that the airmen could stay informed about the areas they were from. The library also carried, as most libraries do, a large collection of magazines that covered a variety of topics.
One fateful afternoon in my second week on the base I was in the library looking over the magazine selection when I caught site of a small periodical - it was the size of an 8 X 10 sheet of paper folded in half, and ran about 25 pages from cover to cover.
It was the Skeptical Inquirer.