8 September 2010, JellyBean @ 9:11 am

An interesting argument is playing out in the Space section of MSNBC. It began when veteran space reporter James Oberg questioned the foundation of a new book about UFOs called “UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record.”

“The book’s main themes are the extraordinary stories of strange aerial encounters in Europe, South America and even the United States,” Oberg writes. “In these stories, investigators have failed to pinpoint phenomena to explain the sightings. And because the primary witnesses are pilots, the accounts are considered more credible than run-of-the-mill UFO reports. But are they really?”

Leslie Kean is the author of the book, and she’s striking back, calling Oberg a longtime UFO skeptic who “may be qualified to serve as an unbiased, expert consultant on Russian or Chinese missile systems, but not on UFOs.” This is a classic UFO battle, not over hard evidence but over claimed sightings. Who can say whether the witnesses actually saw what they think they saw, or if a trick of light or perspective was at work.

Kean is no doubt going to sell a lot of books because of the kerfluffle, and no doubt she’s playing on the “unknown” bigtime. Nonetheless, she contends the conclusion of her book is simply this: “We need a systematic, scientific investigation of the skies that actively looks for these mysterious and elusive objects.”

Kean says skeptics miss the point of the book….

Read more about this epic battle here: LiveScience

Check out the battle in the MSNBC comments here: MSNBC

1 September 2010, JellyBean @ 11:41 am

Crop circles were revealed as a hoax almost 20 years ago, so why do so many people still flock to Wiltshire, convinced of their extraterrestrial powers?

Wiltshire’s a beautiful county and it’s an idyllic Friday evening at the Barge Inn, Honeystreet. Boats are moored on the canal that runs past the pub, there’s a White Horse etched into the chalk just down the road and in the pub’s back room the ceiling is painted with images of Stonehenge, errant cherubim and crop circles. ‘It is,’ one local tells me, ‘the Sistine Chapel of Wiltshire.’

The Barge indeed is Crop Circle Central – there’s even Croppie ale for sale – and circle aficionados arrive to camp here from all over the world: in the visitors’ book Kerry from Australia has written: ‘Great crop circles! Great people!’, while Miranda and Trond from Norway say: ‘Great to be back at Croppie HQ!’ No wonder an official at the Wiltshire Tourist Board tells me that they love crop circles; together with the numinous delights of Stonehenge and Avebury Rings they’re the county’s biggest draws.

Last year was a bumper year for fantastically elaborate, large crop formations – 70 or so, many within spitting distance of the Barge and one taking three nights to fully emerge – and in early August this year, more than 45 had been reported. And, remarkably, in June the scientific journal, Nature, ran a piece on them.

Read more: Telegraph

26 August 2010, JellyBean @ 6:54 am

Journalists who have a reputation as solid investigators with open minds, common sense and constructive viewpoints may show excessive arrogance when it comes to unconventional phenomena such as UFOs, advanced human awareness (extrasensory perception) and other leading-edge areas of research.

A case in point is the Aug. 20, 2010, column by David Corn, posted on PoliticsDaily.com, in his “Deep Background” article titled “Where Are All the UFO Photos?”

Corn is Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine and was The Nation magazine’s Washington editor for twenty years. He has written for many major American newspapers, magazines and online platforms.

He begins his article with a common but reportedly erroneous premise – that no legitimate photos have been taken of anomalous objects in the sky.

Corn wrote, “In recent years, the world has exploded with photographic and video equipment. There are about 5 billion cell phones in circulation throughout the world – many, if not most, equipped with still and/or video cameras.”

“And there are millions, if not billions, of easy-to-use video cameras in circulation, as well as billions of still-picture cameras. Essentially, billions of people are able to snap or otherwise shoot the least bit interesting thing that happens at a moment’s notice,” Corn wrote.

Read more: Transcendent TV & Media

25 August 2010, JellyBean @ 9:15 am

Within atheist and skeptical ranks there’s been a growing schism between ‘accommodationists’, and, for lack of a more appropriate term, ‘dicks’. In recent times the ‘accommodationist’ side has started speaking more loudly (which it has to, in order to be heard over the din of the ‘dicks’), with the likes of Daniel Loxton and Phil Plait promoting more civil debate rather than P.Z. Myers-ish schoolboy tirades. But the cognitive dissonance that the skeptical movement is currently experiencing may in turn just reinforce the childish behaviour: in a new entry on his blog titled “Are We Phalluses?”, Jerry Coyne has taken Phil Plait to task for his ‘Don’t Be a Dick’ speech’:

“What struck me most strongly about the DBAD talk, and reminded me of the Tom Johnson affair, was Plait’s complete failure to provide evidence for what he was saying. Not only did he not give a single instance of the rudeness and stridency that he finds so ubiquitous, but also gave no evidence that skeptics who behave that way have been less effective than others. This was curious because, after all, the prime requirement for good skepticism is that you give evidence for what you think, and demand it from others.”

Read the whole article: Daily Grail

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