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March 08, 2005

Seeing is Dismaying

I finally had time to watch Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs -- Seeing is Believing the other day. As I had mentioned earlier, the publicity I had seen before the program was broadcast led me to suspect that it was going to be quite pro-UFO.

I should have known better. It was instead yet another entry in a long line of "balanced" presentations -- equal amounts of skepticism on the one side and credulity on the other. At the end, of course, after having carefully dished out equal amounts of evidence for and against the existance of flying saucers, the program leaves it up to the viewer to decide. Having been given equal amounts of evidence, however, they have ensured that nobody's mind is changed one way or the other.

The program began with an hour of evidence for UFOs (complete with computer animation reenacting the sightings), followed by an hour of evidence against them. (Actually, less than an hour of the latter, since part of that time was spent discussing SETI, which really is unrelated.)

Unfortunately, when presented in this format (here's the claim, here's the evidence against it), the debate essentially becomes "he said, she said".

Just once, I would like to see a program that spends the first half giving the viewer, in effect, a "baloney detection kit". The viewer could then apply these explanations themselves to the claims that come in the second half of the program. For example, discuss sleep paralysis and the limitations of hypnosis first, then present a claim of an alien abduction experience. Discuss the optical illusions that can result when viewing something just at the limit of visibility or when viewing points of light against a night sky, then present some UFO sightings.

Unfortunately, "UFOs are flying saucers" sells better than "UFOs are natural phenomena that are misinterpreted as flying saucers". A "balanced" presentation is the best we can hope for.

Link: Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs -- Seeing is Believing
Link: Out of Balance (CSICOP - Doubt and About).

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March 8, 2005 in UFOs and Aliens | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 02, 2005

Catching Up is Hard to Do

Have I mentioned yet that being a new father chews up a lot of one's time? It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted anything. I had wanted to comment on these items, but at this point I've decided to admit that it's never going to happen. Just in case you'd missed them, though, here are the links. This will clear out the backlog and let me get back to posting on more current stuff.

Link: Newsweek - Doubting Darwin.

Link: BBC NEWS: 'Artificial life' comes step closer.

Link: Whiskey Bar: Scientific Method.

Link: Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Vitamin See).

Link: The Panda's Thumb: Telling it straight.

Link: Evolutionblog: Washington Times Backs Sternberg.

Link: Eyes, Part One: Opening Up the Russian Doll: Corante > The Loom >.

Link: Trilobite Cookies.

Link: TheStar.com: Rapture awaits in the Florida Panhandle.

Link: The Evolution Project.
Link: The Non-Evolution Project.

Link: Space.com: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars.

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March 2, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack