UFO Science [was: SETI sci.astro.seti newsgroup created]

Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@www.aeiveos.com)
Mon, 1 Nov 1999 12:24:38 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 1 Nov 1999 hal@finney.org wrote:

> With regard to the recent proposals that E.T. may be on the net, I offer
> http://www.sightings.com/ufo5/seti.htm, an article from a UFO site asking
> why SETI supporters are so dogmatically resisting the evidence that UFOs
> are real and are extraterrestrial craft.

[snip -- long quote from the above URL]

In short because the views simply are not consistent with the known laws of physics. Once you invoke "magic physics" you are in the realm of "faith" and not "science".

Knowing the "potential" technological capacities that nanotechnology allows (dismantling planets in days), one has to make arguments as to why "they" haven't done that. I would guess that there are few people who are associated with the UFO "movement" who are versed in this knowledge. What UFO people have to do to make things acceptable is to present coherent explanations for:
(a) Why would they bother to come here when they can do most of their

observations from their home at a much lower energy cost? (b) Why are "aliens" are wandering around abducting people? (c) Why do the abduction reports have"aliens" with a humanoid body

when it is a horrible body structure? (d) If they do come here, Why don't they communicate with us when they

obviously could do so?

Believing in gravity is easy because it operates on everyone. Believing in UFOs is a much harder sell because it happens to a select few. The SETI people have a credible position because they do not require magic physics and do not require the expenditure of resources required to hurl spacecraft across interstellar distances. They have a nice equation that incorporates the probabilities of finding someone. The UFO believers, to my knowledge, have not developed a credible framework in which reasonable arguments can be made that would allow the position to be believable. They need a "Probability of ET Visitations" equation. Instead, it is much easier to simply say "believe me".

> This is the problem with fringe science. You can always find someone who
> has some modest credibility who will support the topic, at least with
> the idea of investigating it further (which would involve funding the
> researcher, of course). Once you open up the possibility that ETs may
> be here on earth, monitoring us, of course you have to deal with UFOs.

No you don't. If you assume that civilizations capable of interstellar travel are 50+ years beyond our level, then you *must* assume (a) they are fully nanotechnology capable or (b) nanotechnology is impossible. [And (b) flies in the face of the available evidence.]

If you assume (a) then the *only* discussion that can occur is: What are the characteristics of civilizations operating a the limits of known physics and what can be constructed on relatively short stellar time scales (say millions of years)? The answers to that question must match those ideas with current observations of the universe and provide a coherent picture. To my knowledge none of the UFO/Aliens supporters have attempted this.

> Furthermore, because it is overwhelmingly likely that they would have
> been here for millions of years, you have to look at all the ancient
> artifacts, the "chariots of the gods", the possibility of meddling in
> the human genome, the stories of the Bible, all as possible confirmation
> of ET activity on earth.

Yep, the analysis isn't difficult.
(a) Is the artifact constructed using molecular nanotechnology?

If no, then its not alien.
(b) Does the genome show evidence of tampering?

      Not enough is known to answer the question, but there is so
      much junk DNA in it, that if they did play with it the did
      a really poor job of it or wanted to remain "unrecognized".
  (c) Stories of the Bible could be true, the flood apparently has
      a historical basis as do many of the historical accounts in
      the Old Testament.  But because it is an largely unconfirmed
      "history" with an "agenda" it can't be used as "scientific"
      evidence.  You can't subject it to repeated "experiments".

I've mentioned in previous posts (from a humorous perspective) the possibility of agents of alien superintelligences deflecting a comet to eliminate the dinosaurs so that H. sapiens (as something more interesting) could arise. Entirely possible, however very very difficult to prove.

> Maybe religion is true: maybe we are the creation of god-like beings.

Absolutely possible. We could be an experiment. But I want to see evidence for those god-like beings before I spend time seriously considering it.

> If ETs have been here throughout our evolutionary development, isn't
> it a significant probablity? Maybe Jesus was an extraterrestrial.
> He could have been, couldn't he? Water into wine and raising the
> (recently) dead shouldn't be too difficult for nanotech equipped aliens.

Yep, I've considered it. Once you allow nanotechnology and the possibility of billions of SuperIntelligences in the galaxy you have to re-examine a lot of "miracles" in history.

> I don't see how you avoid this slippery slope once you assent to the
> view that ETs are among us. Is there anyone here who denies the truth
> of biblical miracles yet maintains that there is a real probability that
> extraterrestrial intelligences are monitoring us right here and now?

What you need is:

  (a) A Scientific case that the miracles don't violate the laws of physics.
  (b) Reasonable scientific evidence the miracle *actually* occured.
  (c) A plausible explanation for the motivation of the miracle.

Getting (b) is very difficult, but the evidence for the "flood" shows that it isn't completely impossible. (c) Gets really difficult, fundamentally you have to answer the question of why a superintelligence would bother with us. Experimentation on the scale of planets/civilizations is one I've offered. But if you designed and setup the experiement in which we are the "molecules", then you don't have to send in UFOs to abduct people unless thats part of the experimental design.

Perhaps its an experiment in the willingness of creatures of our limited capacities to believe things on the basis of hearsay evidence. :-)

> How can you reconcile these views?

You don't have to reconcile them. If you are scientific about it and they don't violate known laws of physics, you keep an open mind about them and explore the possibilities. However, if you want to do good science, you presumably fund efforts on the basis the probability that something is true (or will be discovered) based on our current (limited) knowledge base. You fund infrared surveys on the bases of the scientific return we know they will provide, not the hypothesis that intgelligence might actually be easy and the population of the galaxy is dominated by superintelligences.

I will keep an open mind to UFOs and Alien abductions but I'm not going to "believe" in them until *I* see one or *I'm* abducted. And then I hope some of the other good people on the list will try to convince me that I've been dreaming or hallucinating.