Follow me on some rambling development of a few unplanned thoughts.
Fans of UFOs – people who believe that assorted reports of strange lights in the sky constitute strong evidence for believing we’ve been visited by alien beings – tend to point to things which they say can’t possibly be anything other than some sort of alien craft.
It’s a tacit admission that what they’re claiming is very unlikely, in a way. They expect you to believe in the aliens only after you’ve ruled out all other possibilities, which you clearly need to do before you conclude it must be aliens. The thing is, they’re fairly easily satisfied that these other options have been ruled out.
Unfortunately, it’s a very unbalanced decision. The believers’ approach makes much greater assumptions about the completeness of our knowledge, and has much less appreciation for the magnitude of what they’re claiming.
I mean, look at what happens if you do completely rule one option out, for any given bizarre sighting in the sky.
Pretend we’ve totally ruled out any natural explanation for this thing we’re seeing, this pattern of lights in the sky or whatever it is. It has to be an alien visitation. Two things are immediately clear:
A) We must have been incredibly thorough in our examination of every possible terrestrial source of this phenomenon, and made a lot of pretty shaky assumptions about things we don’t understand and can’t really know, and
B) HOLY SHIT THERE’S ALIENS THIS IS FUCKING HUGE
Whereas, if the aliens are the option being unilaterally excluded from consideration:
A) We’ve not overstepped the line all that far, given what we know about the laws of physics and the limitations they place on space travel, and
B) There’s something going on in the world which we don’t understand. Neat. Maybe we can learn something.
Neither point in this latter option truly boggles the mind.
It’s not truly scientific to declare it “impossible” that alien technology and the laws of nature have conspired to flummox us, but if we’re going to be shrugging things into negligibility, aliens are easier to push that way than the collective entirety of natural, man-made, and neurological oddities here on Earth that don’t always behave exactly how we predict.
And while bizarre but explainable terrestrial sightings might be fascinating in their own way – whether the true source is a secret military operation or a brain aneurysm-induced hallucination – they’re not as earth-shakingly, paradigm-shatteringly, mind-blowingly revolutionary as actual alien lifeforms dropping by to visit us.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the alien-hunters are going to have to reach a much higher bar if they really want to be taken seriously.