Sunday, December 2, 2012

UFOs & Alien Abductions In Light Of Skepticism

Many people object to the term atheism as it carries negative connotations in some cultures. As such, a host of other euphemisms are sometimes used to describe one who rejects the supernatural. The atheist can also go by non-theist, naturalist, disbeliever, unbeliever, doubter, rationalist, empiricist, free-thinker and lastly, skeptic. It is the skepticism towards extraordinary claims that I think unites all "atheists." A healthy dose of skepticism I don't think ever hurt anyone. So how does a skeptic like myself deal with such unexplained phenomenon as the possibility that we are being visited by extraterrestrial intelligent life?

When I was a child I was a big fan of science fiction dealing with UFOs and aliens, like The X-Files. If there exists extraterrestrial intelligent life, nothing about that would defy the laws of physics. They would simply be highly evolved intelligent beings from some other planet other than our own. It does seem that considering the universal speed limit of the speed of light, and the immense distances between our planet and other stars, it is very unlikely that we could be visited by alien intelligence. Furthermore, the chances that intelligent life could evolve seems so extremely rare in and of itself to warrant such probability. However, the famous Drake equation used to estimate the number of advances civilizations even with conservative numbers used, yields the possibility of thousands of advanced civilizations within our own galaxy, let alone the universe.

Perhaps there are ways, as Einstein predicted, that can bypass the cosmic speed limit and travel extremely large distances through the use of something like a wormhole. We just don't know for sure yet. In any case, I always felt it a bit odd that the aliens seem to have a preference for Americans over all other nationalities in who they abduct, and why they seem to abduct people living in the most remote wildernesses. Perhaps they want their presence kept a secret, but what then could their agenda be? Are they merely abducting people to experiment on them so that they can learn about us, the same way a biologist captures and studies animals and insects? Are they making clones of humans as many of the stories tell in order to create a race of people perhaps to be kept in zoos? This is certainly all open to conjecture if granted truth.

There are a handful of alien abduction stories that seem plausible, notably the Betty and Barney Hill case from 1961, and the Travis Walton case from 1975 which inspired the movie Fire In The Sky. The fact that most alien abduction reports happened in the last 50 years or so, and seem to happen in the US leads me to believe that there is another more plausible explanation. It seems to me that since the US has for the last 70 years or so been the most powerful nation on Earth, alien abductions could just be the projected fear Americans have that there might be other beings out there more powerful and advanced, and that we are as weak to them in a sense as the weakest nations here on Earth are to the US. People secured in power often fear losing their power and are obsessed with it, and alien abductions might just be a manifestation of this fear with a little science fiction thrown in. Could this be a more rational explanation? The skeptic would certainly say so.

I have to say that I am an agnostic when it comes to the validity of alien abductions and UFOs. In some ways I want to believe, but the skeptic in me appears stronger. What is missing from the reports of UFO sightings and alien abductions is the lack of physical evidence. If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, these claims surely do not have it. When I was 18 I once did see what I thought were UFOs while in the woods of Missouri. I saw a bunch of lights in the sky moving in patterns that no aircraft could maneuver in. They were tiny little dots of light almost zig-zagging in various directions very high in the sky, and I never really thought about it much since then. UFO only implies unidentified, not alien, so they could have been anything.  I remain a skeptic about most of the reported UFO sightings and incidents, but if we ever do come into contact with intelligent alien life, I'd surely want to be alive when it happens. 


  1. People used to be accosted by demons (Succubus and Incubus), now they're taken by aliens.
    I think the better explanation is simply that brains make things up, that hypnogigic and hypnopompic states can feel very strange (feelings of paralysis, of floating etc), and that there is little more to claims of alien abductions than this.

    1. I think you're absolutely right that alien abductions are simply a modern manifestation of natural neurologically explained phenomenon. I think all of the explanations - Succubus, Incubus and aliens, all involve some kind of loss of power, which is the basis of many of our fears.



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