I just lost a member of the community today. Apparently, the subject of UFOs came up during a wine tasting party and she was upset that I dismissed the subject in such a mocking manner. Here’s her note:
I believe in UFOs 100%. There’s more than just one website that offers historical documentation, videos, pictures that prove we are not alone in this universe. It’s a difficult and scary subject to explore for most and easier to disbelieve than to go beyond ones “comfort zone”. Sorry, your very nice but it was a real turn off to see the group organizer mock the subject and be so close minded. All the best.
I was going to reply to her note directly but since she believes 100%, it would be unlikely for her to consider any response. In fact, it’s a bit hypocritical for someone to say that they believe something 100% then call someone else “close minded.” Also, Nancy was there at the party and remembered our conversation. She did not consider my response as mocking.
However, I did take the time to flesh out three rational arguments that someone might find convincing.
- The universe is vast.
- We are an evolved product of the specific conditions present on Earth.
- Many of the observations ascribed to alien activity have mundane explanations.
Here is the note (that I didn’t send):
So you believe in UFOs 100%. So what? Tucson Atheists is not about UFOs, although I also run the Skeptics of Tucson that is concerned with such subjects. As far as believing in something 100% that is something that is not really possible and to accuse me of being “close minded” is quite ignorant and hypocritical.
Over the many years that I’ve been around, I’ve believed in many things. I read all the Van Daniken books about alien visitation along with other material but as I learned more and more about the physical world and the scientific method it became apparent that it is not possible. I also follow SETI and keep up with the search for inhabitable planets in distant solar systems.
There are trillions of stars but our nearest star is Proxima Centauri 4.24 light years distant from us and the nearest exoplanet that we’ve been able to find that may be able to support life is a 13 light years away.
For just a minute, let’s assume that there is a space faring alien civilization 10 light years away. How long would it take to get there? For comparison let’s look at our most recent visit to Pluto. Pluto is about 4 light hours from earth. We sent our fastest space ship to Pluto. It traveled 36,373 mph and took 9 years, 5 months, and 25 days to get there. In terms of spacial distances, Pluto is fairly close, only 4 light HOURS.
A light year is 8760 light hours or about 6 trillion miles. The New Horizons spacecraft traveling at over 36,000 miles per hour would take 19,000 years to travel ONE light year or 190,000 years to go 10 light years.
Also consider that we are a product of this planet. We evolved from conditions existing here and nowhere else. We can’t assume that visitors from the stars would have any resemblance to our forms. Space travelers would not know up from down and actually have little need for solid ground.
The most damning evidence that there are no alien UFOs is the fact that with all the pictures being snapped around the world with the ever available recording devices on millions, perhaps billions, of people, there is no overwhelming evidence. Sure, you might be able to misinterpret a smudge or a bright light now and again, but I’d expect more.
Science has been able to find alternate rational reasons for many of the so called UFO sightings. For example, there are mundane reasons that the Egyptians built their pyramids which included Pi out to many digits. They didn’t need help from space travelers. They simply used rolling wheels to make some of their measurements. A wheel that is one cubit across when rolled would produce a length exactly cubits.
Early on, I wanted to believe but I’ve given UFOs a lot of thought and now I consider their existence improbable.
Feel free to check my math. By the way, I know that these aren’t the only reasons to doubt the existence of UFOs but it’s a start.
EDT: By the way, I believe we may not be alone in the universe. Odds are pretty good that there are others. However, I don’t believe they’re regular visitors.