Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Assessing UFOs: An Inkblot Test?

Unidentified flying objects: the term has become synonymous with alien spacecraft to a large extent. So much so that some researchers are opting to use terms such as “unexplained aerial phenomena” in efforts to curb the tide of unsubstantiated speculation. Whatever one chooses to call it, accurately identifying reported phenomena, when possible, is a key factor in establishing any potentially truly interesting cases. A look at a couple of recent and relatively well known events shows us that not only has the public largely been conditioned to prematurely assume alien origins for an “unidentified,” but that reasonable explanations are often not even sought by those who promote the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Hovering Light

If you are not reading Doubtful News, then start – at least if you want to know some of the actual circumstances behind otherwise sensationalized stories of alleged paranormal events. The DN team, which includes editor Sharon Hill, put its readers on the trail of a case last week that South Florida NBC affiliate WBBH News billed as a “UFO caught on surveillance.”

The reported hovering light

The story making the rounds involved supposedly strange lights hovering over a pool and recorded on a video camera. Readers who had some experience with such circumstances, such as Will Radik of the Bad Skeptic blog, made short work of reviewing the video footage.

"Too bad they didn’t ask me, or anyone else who’s worn glasses their entire life,” Mr. Radik wrote en route to explaining the reported phenomena was probably light shining through a water droplet. In all likelihood, moisture formed on the protruding camera structure and reflected surrounding light. Viewers unfamiliar with the effect inaccurately assumed the light covered a much larger area, subjectively interpreting it to hover over the pool as compared to being much smaller and within inches of the camera lens.

Actual camera that took the video, according to Radik,
obviously conducive to creating the effect as described

Kentucky UFO

Doubtful News offered its readers a heads up on a story Wired published this morning. The article provided an explanation for a UFO sighting in Kentucky that gained media attention during October, 2012.

The Appalachian News-Express, CNN and others reported at the time that the Kentucky State Police received multiple calls about a high-flying unidentified object. A UFO website by the name of Ashtar Command Crew apparently linked to the news asostensible proof of continuing visits from the Galactic Federation fleet.”

Many will recognize the image
of the reported Kentucky UFO
Actually, it was proof of Google. Rich DeVaul and his Google team knew the object was one of their solar powered balloons, Wired reported today. The Kentucky UFO was a test of Project Loon, a program that equips balloons floating at some 60,000 feet with the means to provide wireless Internet to areas not currently receiving service.

There is more man-made stuff than ever in the sky. Accurately identifying it and exercising some restraint in jumping to premature conclusions are responsible ways to contribute positively to the UFO community. It is then - by conducting reasonable assessments - that we provide ourselves the best opportunities to isolate what truly interesting circumstances might exist.

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