]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] UFOs! UFOs! [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ (July 1983) The main reason for this story is a good book that has quite recently (July 1983) been published, P.J. Klass' "UFOs," which we will review in a moment, but UFOs in general give pause to a little deeper thought. My first thought is that we are all a little biased about UFOs, and biased, yes, in FAVOR of their existence. The reason is simply a little wishful thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if all that daily news on deceit, violence and political posturing were suddenly displaced by genuine green little hominoids wooshing in on a flying saucer? Deep down in our hearts you and I would hope it were true, wouldn't we? Fort Freedom would immediately put up a special tower with a hundred stories: Do they reproduce? (By sex? Involving two humanoids at a time?) How many senses have they got? Is one of them the equivalent of sight, and if so, what part of the spectrum is "visible" to them? How would we try to explain the total absence of any meaning in a line of lyrics like "In the final analysis only Anacin hits and holds the highest level"? My next thought brings me down to earth. I am often asked "Do you believe in UFOs?" (to which I answer "No, not now; but I am willing to examine evidence"). The question is usually followed by another: "What right do you have to disbelieve their existence?" Both questions re- veal a lack of scientific training, for one of the fundamental prin- ciples of scientific investigation is that THE BURDEN OF PROOF LIES WITH THOSE WHO POSTULATE THE UNUSUAL or the breach of the status quo. Suppose I claimed that there lies an orange on the far side of the moon. You should ask what made me think so, and if I replied 1) The far side of the moon is permanently turned away from the earth, 2) that an orange was too small to be seen by the astronauts as they circled the moon, 3) that I hold several scientific degrees, you should not be browbeaten by the fact that all three statements are true; for truth, if it is irrelevant, is no better (and often far worse) than a lie. What you might reply is that by that logic the ancient Romans used wireless telegraphy, for archaeologists never discovered any wires; and you might politely advise me what to do with my degrees. In any case, you get the idea of UFO's? For all I know, they may exist, and I hope they do; but the burden of proof is on those who claim their existence. The third point: The UFO buff is fairly harmless. True, as Klass points out, a misinformed society cannot make intelligent decisions; but surely those decisions would still be fairly intelligent if the misinformation were limited to UFO's. The UFO buff is kidding himself, and maybe a few others; but like believers in astrology and the moon- orange cult (perhaps I have started one), he is not forcing the re- sults of his beliefs on the unwilling. He does not steal from unwil- ling victims, and he does not kill anybody. All of which stands in stark contrast to some other pseudo- scientific beliefs.
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