Re: origin of beliefs

From: Peter C. McCluskey (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 11:01:12 MDT ( writes:
> said:
>> I would say there's at least a 5% chance that one or more of those
>> reports represents actual alien contact.
>Wow! That seems amazingly high to me. Following Robin's precepts, you
>must have seen some evidence that I missed. What collection of alien
>contact reports have enough plausible details to make you go that high?

 About 25 years ago I looked in Yale's libraries for the best UFO reports.
I found at least one report of lights in the night sky moving at apparently
impossible speeds, coming from an experienced observer who I wouldn't
expect to report deluded or misleading observations (someone who worked
at an airport, maybe an air traffic controller?). That's about the extent
of the UFO reports I'm aware of that you might be unfamiliar with. I don't
think I've read any detailed reports of people who claim to have observed
humanoid beings. I expect that much of our difference in conclusions is
due to different biases or reasoning.

 It appears to me that the hypothesis that aliens occasionally visit earth
but don't want to publicize their existence makes predictions that are
hard to distinguish from the hypothesis that we are alone, so it's hard
to find reasons beyond Occam's Razor for preferring one of those hypotheses.
 The Fermi paradox appears to indicate something about the probability that
alien life is nearby, but it also seems to indicate that our intuitions on
this subject are not very reliable. (Lee Corbin) writes:
>I put the odds of anything rather fantastic, such as either of these
>possibilities, at around a million to one, personally. It just seems
>to me that our conventional explanations of almost everything we know
>fit rather well together.

 Are you implying that the "fit well together" criterion justifies
believing million to one probabilities? It seems to me that one should
deduce probabilities from such a fit by looking at how often similar
sets of explanations have been discredited in the past, and that in
order to deduce million to one odds, one would have to be aware of
on the order of one million similar sets of explanations that haven't
been discredited. Do you claim to be aware of that many similar cases?
If not, how does your analysis differ from mine?

Peter McCluskey          | Free Dmitry Sklyarov! | 

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