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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On UFO Sightings? 384

dryriver writes: UFOs sightings have been reported in the tens of thousands over the last decades. In the past, some have seen flying cigar-shaped craft (blimps?), some flying triangles, some more rounded-looking flying saucers. Often the apparent spacecraft does something improbable like standing completely still in the sky and then shooting off to somewhere at an incredible speed. Some sightings are just lights or light formations flying around or dancing around in the night sky -- which could be military aircraft like helicopters and F16s training at night. There seem to be people who genuinely see stuff that is hard to explain, people who fake UFO sightings, photos and videos for profit to keep the "UFO industry" of websites, radio shows and magazines afloat, and yet others that think a regular airplane flying at night with its lights on is a UFO. What is your view on all this? Are we being visited from outer space? Is it prototype aircraft that look like UFOs to the untrained eye? Was some 190 IQ inventor-prankster having fun with quadcopter drones with colored lights four decades before quadcopters became a thing (hey, tons of people have created fake crop-circles in the past)? Where do all these supposed UFO sightings and reports come from? Did events like the famous "Battle Of Los Angeles" actually happen? And do you find any UFO reports credible at all?
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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On UFO Sightings?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:02AM (#55722405)

    go away and watch tv

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @04:43AM (#55722729)

      I'll answer "dryriver":

      U.F.O. is an initialism which stands for Unidentified Flying Object. That is any object which is aloft and which cannot be identified is a U.F.O. A flying saucer is not a U.F.O. because you have identified what it is.

      Does alien life exist in the universe? Probably. Have any of those aliens somehow found our tiny speck of dust among all of the stars and galaxies throughout the vastness of the universe (or beyond) and decided that they really needed to visit? Probably not.

      • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @10:30AM (#55724061) Homepage

        A flying saucer is not a U.F.O. because you have identified what it is.

        Can you not have an unidentified flying saucer?

      • UFO's (in the sense of extra-terrestrials) are just the modern equivalent of ghosts. Enough "reliable" people have reported seeing UFOs and ghosts that the effect seems to be real as far as a human brain is concerned. However, the complete and utter lack of physical evidence suggests that they are purely a psychological effect and not a physical one.
    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @08:16AM (#55723343) Journal

      I saw a fascinating UFO once, and several friends witnessed it as well. What we saw was an instance of "Often the apparent spacecraft does something improbable like standing completely still in the sky and then shooting off to somewhere at an incredible speed." Being an ultralight and RC pilot, I'm well aware that "standing still" can be when the object is moving toward or away from you, but I couldn't explain the maneuvers this thing was doing. It was night, a light in the sky moving in ways that planes don't. The four or five people watching it were confused and a little bit amazed.

      Then it flew in front of a tree and we all recognized the lightning bug for what it was.

      The whole incident demonstrated several scientific principles. A point of light against the dark sky could be 10 miles away and moving at 1,000 MPH or 300 feet away and moving at 1MPH - your eyes cannot tell the difference. (I don't feel like doing the math to convert arc seconds to MPH, but you get the point). Stereopsis isn't very effective after a hundred feet or so and and stops working at all at a distance of several hundred feet. We thought it was large object, far away moving fast. It was actually a small object, close, moving much slower, and the two are indistinguishable against a dark sky. Only when it flew in front of a tree did we have any way to estimate its true distance and size.

      If this kind of thing interests a person, watch large planes fly around an airport before landing at night. They'll appear to come to a dead stop in midair as they turn to fly toward you. They my also seem to shoot almost straight up, though they are actually losing altitude, because they are coming toward you, to fly over your head. Overhead *seems* higher than being near the horizon, but the apparent altitude is unrelated to the actual altitude.

      • Same experience here. I was camping near Ocean City, MD and had gotten out of my tent around 2AM to go see a man about a horse. I looked up into the night sky and saw a streak of phosphorescent gas that corkscrewed into a spiral perhaps dozens of miles long. I rushed back to my tent, grabbed a pad of paper and sketched it. Wow! A genuine UFO.

        Um, no. A genuine high altitude rocket launch from the nearby Wallops Island, VA NASA launch site. D'oh.

      • I like the parent comment's story of the lightning bug. Reminds me of the time I watched the moon being nuked: Standing outside, looking at the moon through hazy clouds. There were points of light on the moon's surface that would grow and shrink - truly, it looked like a huge explosion. One after another after another. Really spooky.

        Obviously, I knew the moon wasn't being nuked, though I can imagine the article some tabloid might have written. It took several minutes for me to understand what I was seeing.

      • Mine was much better. We were driving west on I40 and passing west of Winston-Salem when we saw -- my wife and I together -- a light that literally rippled in the sky, lights flashing like they were rolling around on some invisible shape. It flew first to the right of the road, then made an impossible turn and came back diagonally across the road in front of is, then rose and zipped back to the right and came directly towards us, parallel to the road, the lights growing brighter and brighter and with the whole thing literally glittering with rippling sparkles of light. I'm a physicist, she's a physician and at no time did we actually believe we were being visited by aliens following I40 in to attack Winston, but we certainly could not identify what we were seeing -- it was absolutely a Unidentified Flying Object!

        Then it smoothly passed us on the right about a mile away, and we could see that it was a biplane towing an advertising display, heading back for another pass over some stadium where they were apparently playing football. We were barely too far away to see exactly what they were selling, but damn, that display rippled and sparkled in the night JUST LIKE lights spinning around on a flying disk, one that constantly tumbled or changed shape.

        The moral of the story is mixed. Lack of evidence isn't evidence of lack, and one anecdote cannot address every UFO sighting in the history of mankind. However, as I've pointed out to my sons -- who are much more inclined to give credence to the idea that we are constantly being watched by aliens and that their experiences like this one HAVE no natural explanation -- during the 50's through the 80's, the US was more or less constantly under the threat of air attack and ICBM attack from the USSR and to a lesser extent China. SAC had every border lit up with radar that was being watched continuously for "unidentified flying objects" that without question would have been interpreted as an attack by the USSR, not visitation by snoopy space aliens. Every commercial airport was equipped with radar and flight control, (and still is today) and any object not identified by procedure and law would be immediately detected and in all probability investigated, especially post-9/11.

        So sure, space aliens could be masters of stealth AND nefariously snoopy AND could be malevolent (spying us out To Serve Man) or constrained by THEIR laws and customs not to interfere while we rush to destroy each other, waiting to see if we survive long enough to build a peaceful global society. Science fiction novels delight in this kind of stuff. But Bayesian assessments of stacked arguments of this sort are never very convincing. Every special explanation required decreases the probability of the truth of the conclusion. Our governments -- all of them -- have to be members of a global conspiracy to hide "area 51" evidence. Reliable sightings have to be suppressed. The alien stealth has to be almost perfect to hide from civilian radar, or civilian radar has to be part of the conspiracy (which by now has grown to include the entire air force, NASA, the top levels of every government, all of the major intelligence and police services -- worldwide). AND we need psychotic aliens because REAL aliens intent on invasion would have crafted a killer virus long before now and collapsed civilization or would have just fired a few nukes at Russia and the US simultaneously and than sat back snacking on popcorn while we collapsed it for ourselves and left them some simply mopping up to do before they took over the rest of the world without credible opposition, and REAL aliens interested in making friend would have made friends long ago. But Bayesian reasoning is a bit difficult for most folks, sadly, and explosion of premises/priors (a.k.a. common sense, withholding a significant degree of belief in the absence of credible evidence AND a credible, evidence supported explanation) is all too rare.

        After all, roughly 80% of the people on Earth believe in malevolent and beneficent

      • by CanadianRealist ( 1258974 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @10:46AM (#55724187)
        I don't believe in aliens, but I'm pretty sure if you spend much time near an airport watching planes at night you are very likely to be "abducted and probed".
  • UFO existence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by axlash ( 960838 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:14AM (#55722451)

    UFOs are just that - Unidentified Flying Objects.

    The hoopla around them is just because for *some* people, their existence is more exciting than the boring reality of human existence.

    Personally, the more boring something tends to be (like water, air, gravity), the more grounded in reality I find it to be.

    • People are kind of easy to convince. Hell I remember once sitting with a friend watching some lights in the air do some really crazy shit out in a backyard of a friends once.

      It wasn't untill later on I realised, both me and my friend where really really high. All I got proof of , was that my universith years where kinda fun.

      But honestly, for a while there, I was pretty spooked.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      I'll second that. There are many natural phenomena that look really strange. I once saw a UFO which I then identified, but if I had not been carrying powerful binoculars I would have remained extremely weirded-out. I was with a group of people and we all saw a saucer like object in the sky, which kept fading in and out, pulsing from a solid grey form to near invisibility.

      All of us were amazed and we had no idea what it could be. Was this some alien technology? A cloaking device malfunctioning? As soon as

  • Clearly UFOs exist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:18AM (#55722459)

    But because they are by definition unidentified, it's unreasonable to claim they are of extra-terrestrial origin.

  • Intelligent life has had more than enough time to fill every corner of the galaxy, even traveling at sub-light speeds. We're either still-undiscovered, or we're being kept isolated as a sort of nature preserve. Assuming information has become the coin of the galaxy, we are valuable as an untouched phenomena to study.

    It seems likely that most UFOs are optical illusions, affected by the current era's psychological concepts. (There used to be sightings of fantasy airships and flying sailing boats) If some of t

  • Smartphones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:26AM (#55722489)

    I have noticed that UFO sightings were a lot more common when people weren't carrying smartphones with integrated cameras with them. Now that everybody's got one, the UFOs have disappeared.

    • Re:Smartphones (Score:4, Informative)

      by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @04:05AM (#55722599)

      Ah ha - another person who liked xkcd!

      https://xkcd.com/1235/ [xkcd.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's because they're all looking down at their phones to read about the latest recycled meme on facebook. The glare of the screens backlight blinds them from the reptilian saucers hovering above, so they never even see them.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Consider this as a possibility then. The reason there were lots of UFO sightings before is because there were. Now that "everyone has a integrated camera" it's become too risky to keep doing what they were doing. That could mean one of two things: They do exist, and don't want cultural contamination aka culture would inherently think people as nuts(which is okay, everyone is a bit crazy). Or, they never existed in the first place and people were experiencing hallucinations or other it falls into the re

      • I'd venture to suggest that advanced alien technology could probably intercept our cameras and microphones, making physical fly-bys no longer necessary!

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Perhaps the issue was that film cameras were low-resolution, blurry, and more prone to smudging. So lots of ghost/UFO videos and photos abounded, showing something small and blurry. Digital cameras gave a clearer outline.

      Either that or the film exposure chemicals were extracted from the bodies of dead aliens.

      • film cameras were low-resolution

        Film is higher-resolution than digital: 35mm is about equivalent to 80 megapixels. Larger formats are even better.

    • I have noticed that UFO sightings were a lot more common when people weren't carrying smartphones with integrated cameras with them. Now that everybody's got one, the UFOs have disappeared.

      I don't really have issues with the basic idea of UFOs as long as you manage to treat them as just that, Unknown Flying Objects and manage to restrain your imagination and maintain critical thinking when evaluating a sighting. I have issues with people who default to the assumption that UFOs are alien spacecraft and often get angry when you point out an alternative explanation or raise questions. Something like 99% of UFOs are known natural phenomenons of some kind, or caused by mundane man made objects. Of

    • by trawg ( 308495 )

      Also literally everyone knows what "photoshopping" is (even if they don't know it's the name of a piece of software).

    • by xonen ( 774419 )

      Before you jump into conclusions with that observation; an alternate explanation is that those smartphone owners are now looking down to their phone all the time, leaving no moment for their gaze to reach the sky, therefore decimating the chance to spot an UFO.

      Just saying...

    • They're just too busy with their phone apps to notice anything around them.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      As cameras got better so did the mil budget for more isolated and secure bases.
      Governments could fly their new toys at night knowing the risk of a person with the correct film ready, having a really good camera and skills in a small town was low.
      Filming fast moving test flights at night could be detected when person when public with their "evidence".
      All the phone calls to respected UFO and science journalists? Bait publications and magazines with UFO expert contact numbers?
      Invite a trusted expert over
  • by bmimatt ( 1021295 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:30AM (#55722501)
    A few propositions for new article titles for the editors: - How would you rate your most recent encounter with chupacabra? - Is Yeti a good Xmas house guest? - Bigfoot - what to serve for breakfast... is tea OK? - Why are gargoyles unhappy with their medieval portraits? Looking at you BeauHD... but not only you.
  • Here is one of the most famous videos of a UFO sighting. It's not your typical shaky shot of some light(s) off in the distance; the quality is quite good and at around 33 seconds you can actually see some detail of the alleged UFO.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Sometimes there are flying things we don't know what they are. studying them usually identify them.

  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:45AM (#55722543)

    It's our media in general.
    Water, oxygen etc must be easy for space traveling civilizations to come by, but can be safely assumed that music, art etc is quite unique on every planet.
    Which means the visitors are probably just pointing their advanced downloading devices to our planet and copying up EVERYTHING to some database that gets shared/sold later on.

    And there's not a damn thing esa/riaa/mpaa can do to stop the space pirates.
    Our "powerful encryptions and digital locks" probably falls in mere seconds on their advanced computers and cracking techniques.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:45AM (#55722545) Journal
    Everyone had something to test. People saw all kinds of post ww2 Operation Paperclip https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] evaluations.
    The Christofilos effect, Project 137 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    SR-71 and D-21 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] testing.
    Then the stealth work. Now its MAV and Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System.
    People have seen a lot of mil work been done and had to be dissuaded from talking. UFO was the perfect cover to bait and infiltrate any people, groups watching for mil/gov work.
    Their results when seeing mil projects could be covered up with the mention of been a UFO enthusiast.
  • This seems to be a deliberate feeding of the conspiracy theorists that are so out of touch with reality that they take InfoWars seriously. I for one am not looking to indulge those people in the fantasies of secret shadow government conspiracies that are beyond improbable and firmly in the realm of the absurd. If you are interested in conspiracies then you need look no further than our own President's election campaign.

  • There's a whole wiki article on it. It definitely wasn't aliens though, or even Japanese aircraft. In the early days of WW2, panic makes perfect sense. News reports back then were even harder to get than now. Many people at that time, even in the military, wouldn't know what the Japanese were going to attack next. Once a few shots were fired, tracers became targets that generated more tracers that generated more targets. That really does seem like the most reasonable explanation.

  • I'd have to think that any civilization advanced enough to have interstellar travel would at least be able to match our own ability at stealthing atmospheric craft (including basic things like turning off the running lights and not flying during the daytime when they'd be easily seen). I also know how easy it is for people to get confused about what they're seeing when they know what they're seeing, let alone when they don't. And I can't see any motivation for extraterrestrial visitors to let themselves be

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @04:34AM (#55722693)

    Once you exclude the UFOs that can be confirmed as something mundane, then what else a UFO could be is effectively unfalsifiable. Either it's classified, or a one-off unrecorded meteorological/optical phenomenon laymen are ignorant of, or something 'new to science'. Completely new macroscopic phenomena are very rare nowadays, because anything that conspicuous was likely to have been noticed thousands of years ago, and thoroughly explained hundreds of years ago. Every now and then a legend is confirmed real, but sometimes is debunked (Loch Ness monster.)

    More relevantly, aliens are passe in American culture now. They've lost credibility as a trope in media, having been replaced by Zombies and Vampires, who more closely resemble our current cultural anxieties. Xenophobia led to broad fear of space aliens, and the cold war Red Scare led to general fear of invasion. The fall of the USSR was accompanied by a shift in anxieties to fear of the internal moral collapse of one's society. Vampires represent the hidden minority slowly corrupting society, whereas Zombies represent a foolish majority clamoring for society's downfall.
    In a society that promotes coexisting with other ethnicities, or even pluralism, it's difficult to take "nuke the little green men because they're all evil!" seriously.

  • Go have a look:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    Aligns perfectly with my opinion about it btw.

  • by De_Boswachter ( 905895 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @04:49AM (#55722755) Homepage

    What Is Your View On UFO Sightings?

    Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.

  • Simple reason: we have high definition cameras everywhere now. The tactic of the "UFOs are aliens" crank is to take blurry, low res photos that invite pareidolia.

    A lot of former UFO enthusiasts are packing it in for this very reason. If we were being visited by aliens, we absolutely should have concrete evidence. And we don't.

    Are aliens up there in space? Yeah, probably. I reckon probably NOT in our galaxy, and possibly NOT in our hubble volume (observable universe). If we were a competent species that woul

    • It's too obvious, I don't know why I have to explain it. Aliens don't have to swoop over our cities any more. They record and photograph us through our own cameras.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        Aw damn man... You just blew my mind...!!!
      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        They used to come for our women. But now pornography is so pervasive, "They record and photograph us through our own cameras".

  • To travel fast through space one of the theories is that we can warp space (and time). Some of these unidentified objects are probably echos or shadows of our future when we start developing advanced space propulsion systems... The rest are likely just delusions of a primitive people (us).
  • UFOs? Yes. People see things they can't identify, they're flying, thus Unidentified Flying Objects. Most of the time, you'll eventually get a pretty good explanation for them. What's left usually happens near weapon testing sites where governments try out their new toys. And why would governments act strange and keep the alien myth alive? Because it's better to send you on a wild goose chase for aliens and flying saucers, that way you don't want to investigate their much more mundane new stealth bomber.


    • UFOs? Yes. People see things they can't identify, they're flying, thus Unidentified Flying Objects. Most of the time, you'll eventually get a pretty good explanation for them.

      In addition, people are pretty poor eye witnesses. They interpret what they saw which may not be an accurate depiction of what they actually saw. I've worked with operators in simulators who would swear they saw X, even after the videotape showed they didn't.

      What's left usually happens near weapon testing sites where governments try out their new toys. And why would governments act strange and keep the alien myth alive? Because it's better to send you on a wild goose chase for aliens and flying saucers, that way you don't want to investigate their much more mundane new stealth bomber.

      True, but then you get a Congressional inquiry about the UFO because a nutcase constituent wrote their Cogresscritter about the UFO they saw near base X; and you need to draft a reply and can't say "Your constituent is a nut case, please ignore..."

      There is very little reason to believe it's aliens. For a very simple reason: You want to tell me that these people (or whatever they are) are capable of FTL travel, come here to this rather insignificant marble in a godforsaken corner of a nondescript galaxy... and then crash land because they can't brake in time? Please.


  • Does life exist elsewhere? most likely
    Does intelligent life exist elsewhere? Most likely
    due to the countless amount of stars and planets and galaxies the above is most likely
    Have we been visited by any of them? not likely.
    why? because it would be obvious. If humans travelled to a planet with less intelligent creatures would it not be obvious to them that we have arrived? so why are we so arrogant to believe that other creatures would go out of their way to remain elusive to us upon coming to earth
    • I agree that the odds look like they favour others living in the neighbourhood. If you select for what we know works - a yellow dwarf star with high metallicity in a relatively low density area that manages to avoid nearby supernovas for a few billion years, and has a wet rock of approximately 1 Earth mass in the stellar Goldilocks zone - well, even with all those qualifiers there are still ~10 billion stars to look at, and we are quickly learning that most stars have planets.

      The problem is the size of the

  • You just need a Fox Mulder to put all of the pieces together.

  • My parents, who are not pranksters or jokers, saw a UFO in the mid 90s (both are very smart people with high IQ). I never really believed their testimony yet they had exactly zero reasons to lie to me. They described an object in the sky which did imaginable things, like staying still for quite some time, then moving at speeds which are impossible for any human made flying apparatus.
  • The grad students who were buzzing the Earth as part of the "research" for their theses on primitive cultures have all graduated, and no longer need to waste time in the sticks....
  • Here the deal. I live near a military base, two airports, a fault scar, and a great lake. We tons powerful winds and air traffic. So often we get UFO's making wide turns around densely inhabited areas. The local rumor is that the military is testing unmanned, long range, stealth flight vehicles. The crop circles are presumed to be caused by circular patterns similar to small localized tornadoes. In general there are one or two sightings a year the get documented and doesn't have an easy explanation. And no, I'm not one of those people that has filed one of those unexplained sightings. Still it keeps the dinner table conversations interesting.

  • by nwaack ( 3482871 ) on Tuesday December 12, 2017 @03:21PM (#55726849)
    I was taking my dog out to go to the bathroom around 2am. I was looking up at the night sky because it happened to be a particularly clear night and you could see a lot. What happened next baffles me to this day. Two green lights went silently from one side of the horizon to the other in about 10 seconds time. It seemed like they were attached to something; however, you could see clear space between the two lights. They were roughly as high as a jetliner, but definitely weren't a plane. I live near an airport and Lake Michigan (where the military routinely runs drills) so I'm very familiar with all that...it wasn't a plane, helicopter, drone, etc. Since then I've done my own research (satellite tracks and whatnot) and talked to amateur skygazers, but haven't gotten an answer. So yeah, I believe in UFO's because I saw one.

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai