Believers vs. skeptics: A great geek divide?
Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker (bottom center) with his alien creations for "Men in Black 3." For one subset of nerd, aliens and "MIBs" aren't just characters in movies.
May 28th, 2012
04:11 PM ET

Believers vs. skeptics: A great geek divide?

I was surprised, leading up to this weekend's top grossing movie, "Men in Black 3," that paranormal phenomena such as UFOs, the Roswell Incident and, yes, the mysterious Men in Black themselves  were conspicuously missing from the zeitgeist.

When the popular sci-fi franchise launched 15 years ago, it was all anyone could talk about. The first "MIB," along with "Independence Day," "The X Files" and "Roswell," brought aliens and government cover-ups their biggest pop culture moment in a generation.

While my geeky friends were rabid science fiction fans, excited about the proliferation of these movies and television shows, they scoffed at the idea that any of the aliens or UFOs we saw on screen had any basis in reality.

When we got hold of a video of purported UFO sightings around the time the first "Men in Black" movie came out, my friends proceeded to take apart the grainy footage methodically, claiming "hoax!" or easily identifying the flying object.

So, I wondered, how is it that some nerds can be so interested in science fiction involving alien life forms but can't believe that anything remotely paranormal is actually happening?

The divide between some science fiction fans and paranormal believers is very real and hard to bridge, according to Timothy Green Beckley, author of "Mystery of the Men in Black: The UFO Silencers."

"Science fiction and UFO people as a rule do not mix," he said. "With very few exceptions, UFO buffs and sci-fi fans seem to have little in common. To a lot of UFO buffs, 'they' have already landed. To sci-fi fans, it's all in the imagination until they are informed otherwise by their Spocks and Mulders. UFO buffs would never go to a sci-fi convention and a good majority of sci-fi fans would walk across the street if there was a flying saucer convention going on," he said. "Me? I like it all."

Alien conspiracy theorists such as "MIBeliever" BugEyes (who is portrayed as a nerd in a series of viral videos to promote "Men in Black") certainly exist, but are they considered pariahs even in parts of the nerd community? Where do they fit in as fellow geeks?

Skeptics pride themselves on being people of science, so the connection to the nerd community, which is largely respectful of scientific disciplines, is clear. But where does that leave "believers"?

My Geek Out! colleague Aaron Sagers spends a lot of his time researching paranormal fandom. He's almost more interested in the aspects of the community of the paranormal believers than the alleged events themselves. He was the first person I approached about this strange disconnect within the nerd community.

"Although there is sometimes a crossover in beliefs between science fiction fans and diehard alien encounter/UFO/'MIB' nerds, the two don't really move in the same group," Sagers said.

"The former may acknowledge the existence of life on other planets, but is largely concerned with 'what if?' fictional scenarios. The latter group, meanwhile, is stating that alien activity is happening right now on this planet. But the UFO/'MIB' group is a nerd subsection, nonetheless. They trade in facts and minutia, and speak a highly precise language when together."

Sagers believes that these nerds don't quite fall into the category of nerd that has been celebrated in pop culture in recent years.

"If they were to openly discuss theories on UFOs and 'MIB,' they'd be considered outside the norm and ostracized, so the tactic is to find like-minded individuals and geek out with them."

Ben Hansen, a former FBI agent who hosts "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files," cops to "devouring" books about UFOs when he was growing up: "At the time, however, I was self-conscious in allowing my friends to know my interest in the subject. No one told me UFOs and aliens were nerdy, I just intuitively knew my friends might mock my knowledge of the topic and so I hid my books when they would come to visit."

But now that Hansen has overcome his reticence surrounding the subject and hosts a television show about paranormal events, he's become a beacon. Other believers come to him with stories about the unexplained, he said.

Dave Schrader, the host of paranormal-focused "Darkness Radio," says the nature of science fiction could lead fans to be more accepting of belief in the paranormal. In fact, the two don't have to be at odds.

"I think one of the main lessons of most good sci-fi is that it preaches tolerance and almost always has people seeking wisdom of some kind. I think as fans of sci-fi and UFOlogy, we can respect each others willingness to explore possibilities," Schrader said.

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  2. Venkat

    After the initial burst of media idunced hysteria things would quickly settle back to normal. After all, we have been fed a diet of "aliens exist" fiction and propaganda for years, so people are now completely comfortable with the idea.On the other hand imagine if there was an urgent announcement that scientists had found definitive proof that aliens did not exist, and that the only life in the entire universe was on Earth. That would be a truly astonishing revelation, that very few people would be prepared for. People would have to open their minds to this incredible new discovery. Once again, after the initial media idunced hysteria (the media is big on hysteria), things would settle down, but now there would be a complete shift away from antiscience. The "new age" movement would lose all credibility. People would have to come out of their fantasy caves and embrace reality. We might even see society move towards a new rationalism where real science and real logic is king.Anyway there are some thoughts on the subject.Cheers!References : Was this answer helpful?

    July 3, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  3. dreamer96

    Attention ..People of Earth

    Our deepest space probe the Voyager 1 encountered a space buoy with unusual character writing and a Galaxy map, on a large plaque 6 months ago..images where sent back to earth using our deep space network..Decoding by the worlds experts have produce this...

    The message has been found to be Mesopotamia, a version of known Sumerian writing....the message states...

    Warning Galactic isolation planet ahead...alter your course...turn off all communications equipment till safely past isolation zone...contact forbidden...this civilization and it's inhabitants are just plain crazy...contact is forbidden..they only appear intelligent at first contact...

    You need to remember the UFO's that flew over Washington DC in 1952.....We were flashing nuky tests out to outer space since we first tested our Nuky bombs..someone noticed a really bright light from a planet....

    June 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • like it love it but dont believe it

      I LOVE your theory Dreamer, but the hardest part to believe about your theory is that Voyager would happen to run into that galactic warning sign in the middle of all that empty space out there.
      Hmm. ... UNLESS, the signs theoretically ring the entire solar system from all sides? Ok, I am convinced. Sign me up for your newsletter.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. tdcherry

    The only thing that really matters is how to market products and services to each of the two demographics.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Martin

    PLEASE WATCH AND RETWEET US!

    May 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  6. Burbank

    There are skeptics until they actually see one. Look up!

    May 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  7. trey

    was this written by a journalism student intern? this is awful. So you see ONE grainy video & and so suave and wise as you debunk it, and you conclude that because of that ONE hoax there is nothing credible at all to the Humungous amount of info out there. Your arrogance is a vile stench, you speak for no one but your self. Can I debunk the entire theory of evolution by taping bunny ears to a frog? – NO, even though that too is a hoax. get it ...

    May 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Burbank

      I think quite a bit of everything on this site is done by unpaid interns. Horrifically written articles that look like no one proof read them and a horrifically broken web site that is still unbelievably buggy 4 years after they let Facebook take over. That's when all the problem started. I think the maintenance programmers (it's doubtful if they even have them) are also interns. It's starting to look like this site is more and more run on greed, all taking profits without paying for any maintenance.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  8. nik green

    There are skeptics, and pseudo-skeptics. True skeptics are open minded when investigating a phenomenon or claim, and follow the true scientific methodology, thereby investigating *everything*, discarding anything that fails, until the facts point to a logical conclusion. Pseudo-skeptics are those who debunk a claim or theory without bothering to investigate, or even – on rare occasions, advocating the position of not investigating it. Unfortunately, most of those who identify themselves in the "debunking", or skeptical community fall in the latter category by falling foul of the scientific method and making pronouncements based more on opinion or the comfort zone of them, and their peers. The term "pseudo-skeptic" was coined by a Marcello Truzzi, a member of the skeptical community who was referred to as the "skeptic's skeptic". The term "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" has been attributed to him.

    It would be an interesting scientific undertaking to conduct a psychological study of the skeptical community, to discover the relationship between religious/political/ideological etc orientation to see what, if an correlation exists between the personality types, and the (widespread) practice of avoiding the pursuit of real science in order to divert or hijack challenges to established views, for a variety of reasons, perhaps to protect such? The scientific community has long been known to engage in turf wars – no scientist, or body of scientists likes to be proven wrong – that's human nature.

    When a case of deliberately avoiding, or not bothering to investigate something is too blatant, (or can lead to bad PR, or other "damage"), a commonly used method of diverting attention away from controversy, is "drylabbing" an investigation. Here, those doing the "investigation" have an pre-existing conclusion – not based on scientific evidence – and "cherry pick" the facts that point towards that preferred outcome, while ignoring anything that doesn't. This happens especially in politics – a notorious example of such was the US Government 's "9/11 Commission" which failed to look at 95% of the evidence presented to them – evidence which had already been "pre-filtered" by Commission head Philip Zelikow to remove material that failed to correlate with the Commission's preordained conclusion. Such is the realm of "bad science" – or pseudo-science – and pseudo-skeptics pursue bad, or incomplete science, thereby polluting the common body of knowledge.

    The term "conspiracy theorist" has been developed – in the last 50 years – very effectively as an ad hominem, used widely against those who fail to conform to popular or politically correct viewpoints (regardless of scientific integrity), and such are usually based on strawmen or circular arguments, often promoted by pseudo-skeptics. The public, largely unfamiliar with the scientific method, often goes along with such accusations. Often the "waters are muddied" by the deliberate association of legitimate claims with those that are obviously absurd... another example of bad "science" in practice. A parallel to the pseudoskeptical methodology is the way the corporate media works. Run by advertising dollars from businesses which exist to make a profit for their shareholders, stories and reports which may endanger the profitability of businesses that place ads on TV, print , radio and other media will filter out, or censor such material – even if publication is for the greater good... and the history of reporting is littered with cases that get buried on account of protecting the powerful, or vested interests, to the detriment of humanity.

    True Science has always had to battle with the base levels of our flawed human nature. It goes with the territory. There has never been a proper civilian scientific investigation into "UFOs", or the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Various militaries however – including the US Air Force – have conducted exhaustive UFO studies, and found that approximately 98% of all UFO sightings can be explained in simple, mundane and very earthly terms. However, an average of 2% remain true "unknowns".

    May 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  9. nothereanyways

    We are not here and don’t exist our "lives" are just surges of energy in a cosmic mass.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  10. frink

    Its not that I dont believe in alien life, its that I dont believe it has ever been here. Fact is that the nearest star is 5 light years away. When the aliens get here, we will all know. It wont be grainy and jerky video and it wont be drunken trailer trash who they want to talk to.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  11. ocen

    So all the videos and pictures are FAKE...The astronauts, fighter pilots, airline pilots (PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY ARE UP THERE AND KNOW BETTER THAN YOU SKEPTICS), presidents, governors, senators, policemen, foreign governments who have come forward, soldiers, even the guy the government put in charge to investigate this back in the 60's and 70's, SAY THEY'RE REAL, and you want us to believe you know better than all of these people. YOU CANT BE SERIOUS

    May 31, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • pauleky

      Saying they're real and proving it are two different things. A lot of people said the world was flat (some still do) until it was proved otherwise. Show me the proof – real proof, not grainy video – and I'll be a believer.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Adam

      The Argument From Personal Experience is insufficient support for external claims of objective proof. This is why one does not have to listen to anyone who begins a sentence with "So God spoke to me..." That is not to say that their claims are necessarily false, or that the summation of their reporting of their subjective experiences is not a form of evidence, but your comment seems to step over the bounds of reasonable skepticism. These questions are exquisitely interesting, and we should resist attempts to take the easy, self-fulfilling way out. If it's true, it's true, and it will not need reinforcement.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Martin

      please visit http://www.romanekdisclosure.com and watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7ceXF1n0bs

      May 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  12. EricMatthews

    Mankind is at a distinct disadvantage, when it comes to openly discussing life outside of Earth. Some of us have what I call the 'smartest man in the room syndrome', basically someone who can't stand not knowing, and therefore they have convinced themselves that they do, and spout off with their opinions. based on their limited knowledge of such things. Couple that with the fact that most of us are 'followers', people who don't actually research or think things through for themselves. The fact is that nobody on earth was here during the creation of the universe, or has been to every planet in the universe, so nobody can say without a doubt they know everything on this subject. I personally believe we have been visited, especially in the 'ancient times'. My grandfather was retired Air Force, and many times he told us stories of seeing a Disc Shaped UFO in a hanger at Edwards AFB. I myself am also retired military, and have witnessed things I cannot explain as anything other than Alien craft. I saw the phoenix lights, and know that humans didn't make a craft that large, and keep it a secret. Ancient texts around the world speak of visitors from the heavens. The bible also speaks of the Son's of God coming to earth in Genesis, and mating with women. Humans were followers then too, and began worshiping them. God then changed the rules, and stopped allowing the Son's of God to have contact with us, and flooded the Earth to kill their offspring, and humanity basically started over, alone.
    I wish people would really research this subject before coming to uneducated conclusions, and spreading them around to the followers of society.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  13. Richard

    It says, " In the beginning God said let there be light" From what I understand the big bang was preceded by a spark. That could be the light that is spoken about in the bible.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Bigot

      hahaha ok...keep speculating.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Otto

      Actually, we have no idea what preceded or "caused" the big bang. This subject is at the center of much debate among physicists and cosmologists.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  14. Navin Johnson

    Science is not a belief. Its a conclusion.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • EricMatthews

      yes conclusions drawn from things not understood are usually wrong

      May 31, 2012 at 8:49 am |
      • pauleky

        And any scientist worth their salt would admit that, EricMatthews. The problem with the UFOlogists, religious fanatics, etc., is that they come to a conclusion first and then try to prove it. As of today, no luck.

        May 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  15. Suki Sukiyaki

    the comments are more interesting than the article

    May 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  16. BCR

    BECAUSE PARANORMAL IS COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL. DOESN'T MAKE SENSE

    May 30, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • EricMatthews

      that is the same as saying I am not smart enough to understand it, so therefore it cant be true

      May 31, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  17. nofoldems

    Chance of life outside earth=100%
    Chance of intelligent outside earth=90%-99%
    Change of intelligent life visiting earth=0.00000000000001%

    May 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  18. blink blink

    Scientists are indeed created for purpose. Thanks to you guys!! Now we know that no such extraterrestrial that human should be afraid of. That mankind will all be died out by the big bang definitely but in unknown time. That aliens (based on criteria set by scientists) are basically created everyday right under our eye: new bacteria, new species, ...That evolution was particularly correct: Adam through Noah were huge people and last lived (died at average 1,000 years old). How about the next project? That our solar system was created in 7 days and our beloved earth was made within 2 days?

    May 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  19. Don

    The last time I saw anything resembling a UFO, I was on two hits of 4 way window pane. It was a cool ship indeed.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Lee S

      Never do more than two. Its all you need.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  20. Life form 6.02x10 to 23

    We all live in a paradox an illusion per Einstein. If you believe in the Big Bang, then what created the energy to explode giving us matter and what did it expand into? If you believe in a supreme being/God then how was he created? Enjoy the mystery of life and the universe.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Blayze Kohime

      The only possible answer to that is that there is some kind of eternal cycle going on where things repeat themselves. Whatever happened, it wasn't the first time and won't be the last.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
      • Kain

        But that would mean perpetual motion exists and according to our scientists that's not possible or at least they think it's not possible. I love how the science can make up "laws" and yet still except the theory of relativity. How can you say something is law when you have no clue whether it really is?

        May 31, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  21. bob

    What the morons of earth do not get is UFO does not equal ALIENS. A UFO could be a shoe, kids balloon, CGI, frisbee, RC airplane, or any of a million normal everyday things. Advanced aliens are not going to come to earth in tin cans lit up with xmas tree lights to visit rednecks and mutilate their cattle. Funny too the sightings and so called evidence never exceed the person's intelligence making it up its always like some bad movie plot.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bigot

      "Advanced aliens are not going to come to earth in tin cans lit up with xmas tree lights to visit rednecks and mutilate their cattle. "

      LOL and you KNOW this how exactly?

      May 31, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  22. Answerman28

    We've tried to create life by simulating the conditions on earth when it was thought to have started with absolutely zero success. Its quite obvious the earth was seeded with simple life from commets and asteriods. So theres your answer. Only a feeble minded highly egotistical religious fool who knows almost nothing about science, would even imagine that we're the only ones in the universe.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • DVB

      Get back to me after we've been trying unsuccessfully for 300 million years.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
      • tweeble

        life wasnt created over a period of millions of years. supposedly it happened in an instant.. just repeating the tripe they taught in school.. then we kept dying because our bodies werent smart enough to be born with an anus..

        May 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  23. Nat Strafaci

    Just sent an email to Mr. A. C. 360 @ CNN. To see if he is interested in helping me share some info. with the world. About an easily identifiable flying disc, its' actions and energy source, that was clearly witnessed in detail, from one hundred feet away. Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas could make an excellent two minute long film of exactly what was seen, how it arrived and departed.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  24. Oil it up

    First world problems.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • K

      Yep. But the existence of this article doesn't mean that real issues aren't important. Speaking of which, why are you wasting time commenting on this when so many other real problems plague the world? Go, go! For the good of mankind!

      May 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  25. PaulBel

    Unfortunately, it is not just a matter of faster-than-light travel (which, at this point in time, appears to be impossible without some major changes to the known laws of physics). Even getting a large mass such as a multigenerational spaceship near lightspeed would require absolutely enormous amounts of energy. The E=MC2 equation not only equates matter and energy, it also gives us some insight into what happens when a mass M approaches the speed of light C. If we assume that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, then as we approach lightspeed mass increases, and hence the amount of energy required to accelerate that mass also increases. Sorry, but even coming from relatively close star systems would either takes hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and then for what purpose? Why would these aliens come all that way through all that time just to "buzz" around, and not make contact. I would look for terrestrial explainations first before thining about ETs.

    May 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • amy

      you dont need to go lightspeed to move faster than light simply move space around the ship in a static warp bubble.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • Captn Kirk

        I tried that once, had my head stuck my ass for weeks.

        June 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • tweeble

      everybody knows you dont traverse space in a linear fashion. space itself offers a plethora of other means. warps, wormholes, dimensional gates, etc. humans are the only ones stupid enough to travel through time. the rest dont deal with time or space at all. thats like saying the alphabet really matters when we are dealing with math. they have nothing in common.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Blayze Kohime

      To be fair, there are many many valid theories about how to 'get around' that problem without breaking the equation.
      I don't agree that aliens who get here would necessarily want to talk to us, though. Have you MET us?

      May 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  26. Skyelorde

    Apparently, like Mr. Hanks, the vast majority of you have not attended any of the available UFO conferences, nor actually studied the science for yourselves... and, being runts in your peer pack, fear to ask any real questions... like most voters... after over 20 years in the investigation of UFOs and the paranormal, I can readily deny Henry original argument that the two groups stay apart... the fact is the vast majority of we "believers" are enthusiastic sci-fi fans... first, it was what made us ask questions, second heroes, such as HG Wells and Jules Verne, were both, too - such rabid fans that they studied the science, and envisioned the future... a great many of today's scientists are also dedicated sci-fi fans (they just hide it, embarassed to be associated with such nitwits as have commented here)..

    May 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Get up on the wrong side of the bed today there tinfoil head?

      May 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  27. Johnny 5

    This is probably a shared planet and we aren't the ones doing the sharing.

    May 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • mickey burke

      Bingo, give that man a prize!

      May 31, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  28. Micro SPI.

    I would like to buy a vowel.

    May 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  29. MarkinFL

    Frankly, it does not really matter if all of these sightings are real or not. They are completely irrelevant since they clearly have no measurable impact on our lives and we have no way to verify or use the information.

    May 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • tweeble

      no impact on our lives? tell that to the farmer who lost millions of dollars of cattle to mutilations.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Bigot

      "They are completely irrelevant since they clearly have no measurable impact on our lives and we have no way to verify or use the information."

      I guess close mid air collisions with UFOs are irrelevant. I guess national security is irrelevant. How do you KNOW the government has no way to use the information gathered?

      May 31, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  30. Doopy

    Since "UFO" means Unidentified Flying Object, I'm certain people see them all the time. I'm always curious why people automatically assume, since they can't personally identify them, they must be piloted by little green men.

    May 30, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  31. Mitt Romney

    I believe that Obama was born on the Planet Kenya because Trump says so.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  32. Bubba™

    Woke up this morning with a light in my eyes, and soon realized it was still dark outside. There was a light shining down from the sky but I don't know who or why. Must be those spacemen who come every night, with saucer-shaped lights, makin' people uptight; leavin' green footprints that glow in the dark, I hope they get home all right. Hey, Mr Spaceman, won't you please take me along?

    May 30, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Ariel

      Thank you for the post!The LINK to this video has been Twittered at h t t p : / / twitter . com / IQXS and sheard with 1005+ die-hard UFO Twit-thusiasts galaxy-wide. We track the latest in UFO/Alien Affairs News, Views, Pix and Vids. Come join the loop and be in the know. ATT: We do not re-post videos or data, we only share the link to yours. Ciao!

      July 3, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  33. Mack

    Sorry, folks. Just can't get my head around the concept of beings from thousands of light years away building a craft that can actually make it to Earth, and then making it all the way here only to buzz around overhead for a few moments and then fly away. I know you *want* to believe this happens, but it almost certainly doesn't.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Bubba™

      Forteans say they have been here for centuries, eating our brains and controlling our civilization. Dubya gives this some credibility . . .

      May 30, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  34. mcl

    I absolutely expect there is life on other planets but I don't think we have ever been visited. This is actually a disappointing paradox to me. I would assume there is a very good chance of life with technology when compared to us that could be far ahead of ours….the equivalent of 1000’s of ours years of technology. So if we have not been visited then Einstein was correct with the speed of light being an absolute limit with no “worm” holes, no Star Wars “Light Speed”, no Star Trek “Warp Speed” …very disappointing.
    I remember when I was maybe 7 years old at a summer camp in the Catskills. This was during the flying saucer craze. People with blankets so they could lay on the lawns looking for them. One person shouted “I see one”. A bunch of people started to join in sating they saw it too. I didn’t see a damn thing.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Thinker...

      Other possibilities: We are not important enough (particularly if life turns out to be relatively common). Laws against disrupting other civilizations. It has only been in the last 150 years that we even started broadcasting with radios; they might not have heard us yet. It is possible our radio signals are too weak to be recognizable as artificial outside the solar system.

      I for one am still holding out hope that somehow its possible to cheat Einstein!

      May 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • STLBroker

      If you come from another dimension there is no need to travel faster than light.

      May 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  35. BarnumEffect

    Considering the size of the universe, it would be fallacious and arrogant to assume that humans are or always will be the only intelligent species. That being said, and also due to the size of the universe, it is extremely unlikely that we have yet made contact with any others. It is possible; however, unlikely.

    May 30, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • paulronco

      I am lucky enough to have seen one, which puts me in the minority of people who are no longer condemned to wonder but who actually know. Now, if the US military has secretly developed the technology, with no extraterrestrial assistance, to silently fly a white disc with no exhaust trail from one side of the sky to another at about the same constant velocity as a low-flying airplane, then I suppose what I saw last November near Alexandria, VA didn't have to have been extraterrestrial. However, the evidence that various governments have made contact and are working with aliens is actually overwhelming. Even before we used the missile technology perfected during WWII to go to the moon, Werner von Braun hinted on more than one occasion that the German missile project had received "help." When asked who had "helped" them, he reportedly pointed towards the sky and winked. And various astronauts from the US moon missions reported having seen them too, so I had pretty much already accepted it as true even before I saw one personally.

      May 30, 2012 at 6:58 am |
      • Bobington

        If you saw it last year in VA it was most likely the Navys new drone, not an alien aircraft.

        May 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
      • Hugh Jass

        My friends saw a UFO once and took a picture. When the picture came back it was an airplane pulling a banner. They'd already told a hundred people about the UFO. I know, yawn, the men in black changed their film, snore.

        May 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
      • Grumpster

        I think you need a better prescription for your contacts and glasses there bud....I saw that same thing you did....and it had wings. Not all planes leave contrails.

        May 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  36. The R.O.T.P.

    it is what it is.....

    May 30, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • gen81465

      Wait a minute! New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is an alien?!?!?! He always uses that quote! I just KNEW there was something odd about that guy; especially the way he dresses for games. Those baggy sweats are used to hide his 14 arms and the 37 tentacles on the top of his head.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  37. EdL

    I have no choice but to believe in UFO's being ex-president Carter has seen at least one. I never learned if Carter saw his UFO the same time he was defending himself beating off the rabbit that was attacking his rowboat. I guess he could have had one eye on the rabbit, the other eye on the UFO.

    May 30, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      He saw your mom naked the same night he saw that UFO, right? That's why you hate him so insanely?

      May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • FordGT90Concept

      Reagan too. Reagan said he was going to make everything the government had on the subject public but, when he got into office, almost nothing was released. The US federal government is the most secretive organization in the world on this subject (even Russia has released more)–not even Presidents can change that.

      May 30, 2012 at 11:54 am |
      • Starcraftre

        Or maybe he did make everything public. And everything was practically nothing...

        May 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  38. Chuck

    Folks, I hate to break your hearts, but our understanding of physics says that faster-than-light travel isn't possible. Our understanding might change someday, and that could be incorrect, but if it IS correct, that means that "Aliens" have never visited our planet. End of story. It all depends on the speed of light, and whether or not it can be broken.

    I fully believe in life elsewhere in the universe, but it would really surprise me if it were much more than microbial. Further; it wouldn't surprise me if Humans turned out to be the most advanced species in the galaxy.

    May 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • gen81465

      Your interpretation of physics may hold true in our "current" dimension, but even Dr. Michio Kaku believes there are a total of 11 dimensions; some of which may or may not operate under the same laws of physics. Many UFO's are seen to somehow phase in and out of our plane of existence. This might allow them using another dimension to travel vast distances in a manner we don't fully understand. Not proof; just a theory.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:26 am |
      • John S

        How many times has our beliefs been proven wrong. At one time people believed the Earth was flat. Just because we cannot prove something does not mean its not possible. If indeed as some artifacts show that ancient times Earth was visited by figures in space suits. One might come to the conclusion that UFO's have more abilities then we do. I am a skeptic but I am also open minded and won't rule out anything considering the vast amount of space out there. The potential for faster time travel is possible although not proven by our abilities means that we should not just accept any conclusion.

        May 30, 2012 at 6:11 am |
      • frink

        "Not proof; just a theory."

        That is NOT a theory in a scientific sense. It isnt even a hypothesis. Is is simple speculation. For it to be a hypothesis it would need a testable prediction. For it to be a theory it would need to be tested by many different people, it would need to be reproducible. This is none of that.

        May 31, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • JMc

      Who says aliens don't live thousands or even millions of years, and the trip might be worth it? What we commonly consider a normal "lifespan" is obviously limited to our own planet and ecosystem.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:33 am |
      • MarkinFL

        "Worth it" is even more questionable. Anal probing pig farmers does not seem a good reason for crossing the galaxy. On the other hand I do not claim to understand aliens

        May 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • frkelsey

      I would then suggest that you listen to Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson's lectures. (astro physicist) He presents arguments regarding our understanding of physics in our environment compared to the possibilities of in other areas in the multiverse.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      We haven't really got a good experiment to test that yet; suppose the Enterprise has used impulse power to ramp up to .999% of the speed of light, and then they turn on their headlights. Is the light going to pile up in front of them like toilet paper coming off a roll? I bet it would just shine ahead at the relative speed of light, but who really knows right now? Relativity is tricky stuff and we are stuck on a planet at the bottom of a gravity well.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • Spock

        What will happen is relative to your frame of reference.
        To everyone else, the beam of light will move away from the Enterprise at a speed of .001C (still pretty quick). However, to the crew, the beam of light will move away from them at 1.000C.

        May 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Feynman

      Well I'd hate to break your heart but clearly YOUR understanding of physics and particularly general relativity is incomplete. You + Wikipedia = Alcubierre Drive. Speculative? Yes. But, where there's a will, there's a way.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:55 am |
      • Spock

        Richard, this is not General Relativity but Special Relativity. If you want me to be more complete... OK, well then to the outside observer, the Enterprise as it would be less than 5% of its length along the direction of travel, ie L(relative) = SQRT[1-(V/C)^2] * L(rest). Is that better for you?

        May 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • fritz

        It's a neat idea. Kinda like the 'folding space' idea on that Dune flick. It just seems such a drive would have to be planet sized. it would take harnessing a black hole or some such singularity to be able to generate the warpage to compress the space ahead of you and expand it back behind you. Then how would you navigate? What about debris fields ahead of you? What about time dilation effects? There would have to be otherwise you're time traveling in reverse. Afterall, distance is time and time is distance. Looking into deep space is no different than looking into deep time. Still lots of things to work out. But is it really possible? Only time will tell. ;oD

        June 14, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  39. echoLogin

    These aliens need a Kryloican Laser up thuranus

    May 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  40. chrisambrose

    As a PhD research scientist who has extensively investigated the UFO phenomenon for the past 4 years, I have concluded that about 95% of the entire field—not just sightings—are false. However, I have also concluded that visitations to earth have occurred. I also have concluded that never has the US or any government made contact, retrieved crashed disks, or created a top secret program to reverse engineer UFOs. Much to the contrary, we know nothing. We concluded quite early on that the phenomenon is real, we have no idea what they are or are doing here, but are most likely non-hostile. Since no government body wishes to acknowledge that real physical objects of unknown origin are intruding freely into our airspace as they please—and we can do absolutely nothing about it—the only logical path is to ignore and debunk. This has worked quite well for the past 60 years. The UFO subject is a scientific phenomenon. Unfortunately, over 99% of UFO researchers lack any scientific training, and their often far-fetched interpretations tend to catch the most attention. Imagine if 9 out of 10 researchers in my field of cell biology had no formal scientific training...one can be certain that the bulk of the work produced would be garbage. During my studies of this topic, I learned that because of the high signal to noise ratio in the data, I had to set very stringent standards for what I deemed real. This means focusing on radar-visual cases with multiple observers from different locations of objects exhibiting extraordinary speeds/accelerations and turns. Sightings by scientists, pilots, military, and air control experts are all I bother with. There are literally hundreds of these. Continued below...

    May 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • echoLogin

      You weave words better then my cloned grandma weaves a basket

      May 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Bobington

      As a Phd research scientist why are you wasting your time commenting on a CNN article when you can and should create your own paper on the subject?

      May 30, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • jsblanch

      Your data is based primarily on the observations and recollections of others, and is at best second-hand (assuming the sightings were reported by the individuals directly to you). Human observation skills are far from infallible, and human memory is demonstrably unreliable, especially when it comes to details. This is particularly the case when it is an unexpected or unfamiliar event or object that is being observed. You also assume that your chosen observers are skilled, but that assumption just doesn't make sense. Not all scientists have strong observation skills (the real work is analysis, not observation), pilots have been known to fly planes into mountains, air traffic controllers are responsible for most collisions and near collisions in controlled air space, and the military isn't in the business of training observers. Then there's the matter that your PhD is in, presumably, cell biology. That doesn't especially qualify you to study phenomena that are more likely to be explained by physics, aerodynamics, and meteorology.

      May 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  41. Dan Barr

    Some 30 yrs ago my wife and I were out hunting when we seen a UFO .. It was less than 400 hundred yards away
    at tree top level.. It was as big as a house.. No one can EVER tell us there are no such things.. We are both over
    70 now and have had six children eighteen grand kids plus 4. G/grand kids and as God as my wittness we seen what
    we seen.......

    May 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  42. BADGUY

    I saw one FLYING OVER DISNEY WORLD. So did THOUSANDS of other people. It looked like the "Hindenberg". The next day the press said it was a Russian space vehicle that had "broken up". If it was, it had to be in a polar orbit because it was going due north. Sure didn't look like the pieces of a broken up space craft to me. It look REAL solid. I also have a photo of a saucer shaped vehicle over Ft. Lauderdale. To me, there AIN'T no question they exist!

    May 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  43. I'm a Believer...

    Check out "Area 51: The Untold Story of Aea 51" by Annie Jaconsen. I'm just sayin'.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  44. luckyponytoo

    I definitely fit in with the sci-fi fans who don't believe in UFOs. I grew up loving Star Wars and Star Trek, and being "knowledgeable" on light-speed travel and alien cultures. I'd love to be around if and when we discover intelligent life beyond our own planet. I went into engineering to pursue the technical challenges we face in trying to achieve the peaceful Earth envisioned in Star Trek.

    On the other hand, I also grew up on real science and I know the difference between factual evidence and wishful thinking. A blur on a picture is just a blur until we can determine for absolute certainty that it is something else. The UFOers logic is that if we don't know what it is, then it must be an alien. Science, on the other hand, requires you to prove conclusively that you actually have a thing (being, spaceship, etc.) that did not originate on Earth. If you see a blur, first you have to find the thing. Then you need to prove that it is from somewhere else. In most cases, there is no "thing". When a "thing" has been found, there has been no question that it is from Earth. To a scientist, that translates into no evidence.

    May 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      Exactly.

      May 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      If you would do real research into various cases like Rendelsham Forest you would realize there is an incredible amount of evidence by incredibly reliable witnesses that defies explanation. You would also realize that there is a overt practice of coverup and intimidation underway by the government.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • gen81465

      Air is not visible; therefore it's existence cannot be proven (simply because I can't SEE the air).

      May 30, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  45. Alpha Centuri

    I think we need to steadfastly search for signs of terrestrial intelligence.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • gen81465

      Wasn't there a Dr. Demento song about this a few years back? I think some of the lyrics went "Beam me up Scotty, oh beam me up Scotty; there's no intelligent life down here!"

      May 30, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  46. KOTM

    "I think one of the main lessons of most good sci-fi is that it preaches tolerance and almost always has people seeking wisdom of some kind. I think as fans of sci-fi and UFOlogy, we can respect each others willingness to explore possibilities," Schrader said.

    What a load of B.S. parading as a reasonable request for tolerance. Sub out "UFOlogists" with "Creationists" and you've got the whole "teach the controversy" campaign. Pseudoscience peddlers and crackpot theorists always demand the right to sit at the big boy table without the proper credentials.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Chizznuck

      Ugh, you know nothing. Go to the FBI's website, to the 'vault' and search UFO.

      Then marvel at your ignorance, and when you wonder why people don't know, you'll realize they don't want you to know.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
      • KOTM

        So, if there's actual evidence for extraterrestrial contact available to the public on the FBI's website, WHY isn't this the biggest news story of the millennium?

        May 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Bubba

      Naw, just on the chance that there are pearls mixed with the muck, we need to sort out the UFO people. Plenty of them get their info from a little man who lives in their head or something, but some of them have seen weird things that might be experimental aircraft or message-carrying drones.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  47. UFOs R REEL

    Back when I was werking for nasa they contacted UFO's. They fired me cus I knew to much

    May 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Alpha Centuri

      Knew too much or too little?

      May 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Steve O

      You are the Andy Kaufman of the internet comments.

      May 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • yuhoo

      really???

      May 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • echoLogin

      except UFO in your context ment Unintelligent Forum Omnivore

      May 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  48. Jose

    It would seem likely, given the size of the universe, that there are other life forms who could develop technology to travel in space. However, we need better evidence of UFOs than a shaky camera of some distant fuzzy light. Which is what most UFO evidence is.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      Incorrect. Do some research. There are people far more experienced and credible than you or me that have witnessed events that are essentially unexplainable. Spouting the standard tin foil hat line doesn't pass the test anymore. Ignorance isn't smart. Do some reading.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        "There are people far more experienced and credible than you or me that have witnessed events that are essentially unexplainable." And yet somehow these people are nowhere to be found, even as a citation in your post. I saw two people fall in love once for reasons that were totally unexplainable, but I didn't call them UFO alliens. Tin foil hat? More like Prozac©.

        May 30, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  49. peter strange yumi

    this is BS the entire OP.. I am a Sci-fi fan and a UFO freak. it's about possibilities..

    May 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  50. Mattski

    To this day with so many people examining so many different angles, there's still not one shred of physical evidence, not one demontrably alien scrap, ort, or whatever. I don't fault people for looking, but I think it's important to maintain the same impreical standards for evidence as we would with any other investigaiton of this nature. Science is science. Scientists value data. Absence of evidence may not be evidence of absence, but it's sure a killer for theories of existence.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      Except for the footage, photographs, first hand testimony, radar records, radioactivity readings, impression studies...you're right. But why bother with reading about the evidence when you can simply proclaim it to be false. It's so much easier that doing any actual work.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
      • Mattski

        Photos of what? Fuzzy lights in the sky? Blips on a radar screen? They could be birds or bats. UFO enthusiasts are still flipping out over stories that have long since been explained, most notably Roswell. No government explanation will ever be satisfactory to UFO followers unless it includes "we found a crashed UFO" because that's what they believe and no fact will sway them form that belief. Any other explanation will immediately be judged to be false. So they're not waiting for an answer, they're waiting for the only answer that will satify them.

        May 30, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  51. Maty

    II'm of the interested, but 'don't believe it' camp, in regards to UFO sightings/abductions, etc. I'll admit, it's very interesting to read up on the latest sightings and even occasionally visit UFO related sights (love the Integratron, near Joshua Tree NP, CA!), but it's all taken with a grain of salt, and merely a tangential expression of my interest in space travel, real or imagined.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  52. ElectricLion

    The biggest problem with the whole UFO thing is that most of the prominent UFO-logists out there just aren't that smart. Take the guy who looks like Howie Mandell on a bad hair day. He talks all day long about aliens mating with humans even though anyone who's ever taken high school biology knows that the only thing that can successfully mate with a human being is another human being. Another of his favorite discussion points is that of human heads being replaced with animal heads and resulting creature living and even thriving. Anyone who knows basic anatomy just laughs at this sort of thing, but he goes on and on. Or how about his claims that these aliens who mate with humans living on Earth-like worlds in this solar system, but out beyond Pluto? Pure silliness. Not even Mars gets enough sunlight and heat to sustain a biosphere similar to Earth.

    How about the two guys who have been claiming that they've had a psychic link with aliens in the Andromeda galaxy? Reams of transcripts claiming decades of contact, but not a single example of verifiable science in the bunch. No new cures, no new engineering, no new physics, nothing of value at all. Just a bunch of very-terrestrial pop-psychology about living together in harmony.

    I know people who insist even today that the "Alien Autopsy" show was verified fact start to finish, even though it was proven to be every bit as phony as the Shroud of Turin not a week after it aired.

    Is there extra-terrestrial life? Statistically, there has to be.
    Is there intelligent ET life? Once again, statistically, there must be.
    Is there intelligent interstellar space-faring ET life? Not definite, but very probable.
    Have they visited Earth? Maybe, maybe not. It's big universe. Just remember that there might not be anything on Earth worth the trip, no matter how impressed we are with the place.

    The biggest problem with the UFO/Extra-terrestrial thing is that it's not based on any scientific understanding of the the way the universe works. There's more religious dogma in UFO phenomena than there is science.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Maty

      I wouldn't say these UFO folks aren't smart- ufology just happens to occupy the intersection of science and a kind of faith.

      May 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Shamrock6

      Stan Friedman has a PhD in physics. He is infinitely smarter than you. Fyfe Symington was the governor of Arizona and a former Air Force fighter pilot. Again smarter than you. John Lear is the only person ever to have every FAA rating that exists.....and former test pilot for the government....again you get the picture.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
      • ElectricLion

        Anyone who can, with a straight face, talk about beings from a completely different evolutionary line successfully mating with humans when not even chimps (the closest thing on Earth to a human) can mate humans – and believe it to the depths of his soul – is NOT smarter than me, regardless of how many letters he has after his name.

        May 31, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • gen81465

      While I will agree that Georgio Tsoukalos has a strange belief in having a 24/7 "bad hair day", he does make for interesting listening. And as for the guys who are psychically linked to aliens in the Andromeda galaxy; why not? Perhaps they are waiting for us to "live in harmony" before they waste their time giving us a cure for every disease, just to have us blow ourselves up before we get to see if it works.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:41 am |
      • ElectricLion

        Having stable non-polluting renewable energy sources wouls help us live in harmony, especially since it would be one less resource we'd be fighting over. Besides, it's not the fault of the the automobile manufacturer if someone uses a car as a weapon.

        May 31, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Bubba

      "No new cures, no new engineering, no new physics, nothing of value at all." Right. If we met aliens, we'd ask if they ever thought of staples or spray cans or zippers? Paint? They could be centuries ahead and never thought of some simple things. They'd have stuff we don't have, too: "You're an advanced, post-tech civilization? Cool! How do we stabilize transuranic elements? What's the Unified Field equation?" PRO TIP: A psychic dream that gives you no new information is the same as a plain dream. Psychic dreams say things like "I hid the money up the chimney."

      May 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  53. devendra

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    May 29, 2012 at 6:14 am |
  54. the truth

    So much random woo on this site. Why can't you people believe in science and stop believing in stupid nonsense

    May 29, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Maty

      Science is merely the witnessing of natural phenomena- it has nothing to do with belief.

      May 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
      • gen81465

        Actually, Science has it's basis in beliefs. If I ask someone what the average distance is to the moon, they will probably say "roughly 250,000 miles". If I ask for proof, they will say computers estimate that distance by bouncing a laser off a mirror on the moon, and the distance is calculated by light-speed time from the signal from the laser beam. I say take out a huge tape measure and "prove" the distance to me. Since it cannot be done, I have to believe (by faith) that the computers are working properly, and I have to believe (by faith) that they are programmed correctly; thus, Science is a faith-based belief system.

        May 30, 2012 at 2:34 am |
      • Mattski

        Science is based on evidence. No scientist would look at a fuzzy light in the sky and say "I can't immeidatley identify it, so it must be aliens from outer space". They would look at a fuzzy light in the sky and say it's 100% evidence that there's a fuzzy light in the sky - and nothing more.

        May 30, 2012 at 9:35 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Those computers and sensors can be independently verified and the work can be replicated by anyone in a consistent manner. Science is about evidence. Of course this could all be the fevered dream of some wacked out creature and none of us exists. Not much point in thinking like that though. We can only go with what our sense and intellect can put together and test as best as humanly possible. Bu beliieving something just because it sounds like a good explanation is no replacement for scientific inquiry.

        May 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Eluzhun

      "why can't people just believe in science..."

      because we're sick of beliefs. So we take evidence where we find it, with or without the current zeitgeist's stamp of approval... most of the time it comes from the scientific mainstream, sometimes it does not. To care either way labels you a true believer and not worthy of an audience

      May 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Alpha Centuri

      Science be praised. Amen.

      May 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm |