Sunday, 6 September 2009

UFO ‘Researcher’ On Another Planet

There was an amusing commentary about the scepticism, or lack of it, in humankind, in Friday's Telegraph.

It appears that a lorry driver, Peter Turtill, has come forward to claim responsibility for a sighting of an apparent UFO that was widely reported at the time. The article even describes it as “Britain’s Roswell”. The explanation might well explain the reported sighting. The driver says he set fire to a load of stolen fertilizer, then realised it was being noticed so towed it away from the military base fearing how the guards would react to the multi-coloured flames it was producing.

The reaction from Brenda Butler, a UFO researcher?

“I don’t get what he is saying. There have been so many witnesses who have come forward.

He would have to come up with an awful lot of proof to call them liars. Why has he waited 29 years to come forward?”

Well let me see, for a start he might not have come forward because he was driving around with stolen fertilizer. He burned it in the first place to hide that crime. He is not calling anyone a liar, and the number of witnesses is irrelevant. Mr Turtill is providing a rational explanation for what they saw, not saying they lied about it or that the lights the witnesses described did not exist.

It seems to me quite obvious that Ms Butler would have to come up with “an awful lot of proof” to call Mr Turtill a liar. Burning fertilizer is an explanation that fits with our rational understanding of the world. A UFO is not. Therefore anyone advancing a UFO as an explanation has a far greater burden of proof.

This is a very clear, obvious example of a mentality that allows the belief in the supernatural, or in unproven cures or indeed unfounded health scares to persist against all evidence. It is also the mentality of people like the so-called 9/11 Truthers, and other believers in unlikely conspiracies.

Unwarranted certainty is the root of this. Please have your own doubts, as I have mine.

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