UFOs (UAPs): Explanations?

Discussion in 'UFOs, Ghosts and Monsters' started by Magical Realist, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    And I'm beginning to suspect that many actually prefer it that way. They prefer mystery to answers.
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  3. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    It is your own compulsive contempt for me that gets you into trouble. It oozes and drips like a black ichor from every post you make to me. It's something you need to work on, this insatiable need to mercilessly put down certain people who happen to disagree with you. Is it any wonder so many of your posts are left unanswered?
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    They say that you should never meet your heroes, as you'll only be disappointed... and I suspect it is the same for "believers" with knowing the truth about these observations.

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    If you don't meet your heroes you can never be disappointed, and similarly if you never find out the truth about the observations...

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  7. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    It sounds funny, I believe in uap/ufo events??? Begging the question, who doesn't ?
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    The bar is set very low for this stuff, if you ask me.
    I agree that it looks like birds.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Of course not. It only becomes a false sighting if somebody starts claiming it is something that it isn't.
    No. It is not justifiable to make an a priori estimate of that probability as "most likely" when the circumstances are unusual. There's no relevant data on which you can base your probability estimate.
    Right! But they should certainly keep in mind the possibility that JWST might be malfunctioning, or operating in some unexpected way.

    Nobody should be immediately jumping to conclusions when a UAP is sighted, either. However, as you are aware, lots of people do. I might also add that believers in the woo are more prone to immediately jumping to conclusions than skeptics, in my experience, an observation that is amply supported by the content of this very thread.
    Who is dismissing the data with a sneer?
    To assume that the instrumentation was working correctly and perceptions were accurate is to jump to conclusions, which is something that you just said people shouldn't do, just above. Why are you happy to give them a pass on this, then?
    It is plausible. I have explained why, in some detail.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    And I guess we need to do this ... (ho hum...)

    I see. You're feeling sorry for poor little Magical Realist again, so you're taking offence on his behalf. Do you think he's capable of standing up for himself, or do we need to make special allowances for his limited capacities? Should he get to hide behind mummy's coat tails when things get a bit difficult for him because of what he says?

    Alternatively (or in addition), you feel personally offended because you feel that the criticisms I levelled at Magical Realist apply in some measure to you, by proxy. They weren't intended that way; they were a reply to what he wrote - i.e. a reply to everything that came after "Absolutely agree". I replied to what you wrote separately, and addressed that reply specifically to you.

    If you feel that my criticisms of Magical Realist are transferable in some way to things you have written, you might or might not be correct. It could be worth thinking about what it is in your own position that you don't want criticised, and why you want that part of your stance given special protection.
    Why reply to him about points I put to you? Don't I deserve the courtesy of a direct reply?

    Magical Realist:

    You have thoroughly earned the contempt I have for you, Magical Realist. Understand that it is not an all-encompassing contempt. Specifically, it is contempt for how you conduct yourself in discussions about all the woo that you seem to require. Out of the context of the gullible nonsense you suck in, you're probably a perfectly affable and normal-enough person, for all I know. But in this context you're mostly a fool, a troll, and at times a bit of both.

    Your generalisations about my insatiable needs and lack of mercy are incorrect and obviously tainted by sour grapes. Your attempt at life coaching seems disingenuous, not to mention insulting. Besides, you appear to have no relevant qualifications which would lead me to value your advice in that regard.

    Your implication that many of my posts are left unanswered is also incorrect, at least as it applies to posts where I would reasonably expect an answer.


    Nice to see you once again jumping to defend your good mate Magical Realist against the evil depredations of myself. What a knight in shining armour you are!
    I'd call my comment matter of fact, not aggressive. Each to his own.
    I was not and am not fretting. I was wondering why Yazata, having made a point of replying Magical Realist, did not reply to my post. I asked a question, which was parenthetical and therefore which might potentially be taken as rhetorical, if one is reading carefully enough.

    Your response begs the question of why you are so obviously fretting over this, though. Well?
    As you can see, your speculations were incorrect. Why did you feel the need to inject them into the thread?
    You could have fooled me. Most of your posts seem to be about me.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    My comments here had nothing to do with MR, but rather your response to Yazata. They're not the same person, in case you were not aware. But your sarcasm seems to suggests that defending someone against aggression and attack is to be frowned upon, to be ridiculed? Shame, that.
    Such passive aggression is often not recognised, especially by the person doing it. You do it constantly. You have been called out for the aggression in your posts multiple times, some cases more overt than others. But I guess if you don't consider it aggressive, that's okay, then, right?
    Then try asking him in a PM. Asking in a thread just a mere 9 hours after you post suggests that you are rather full of yourself, and how dare someone not respond to you while responding to someone else in the meantime! And more, that you want everyone to know that they haven't bothered to reply to you within 9 hours! How dare they!!
    But, sure, each to their own.
    Putting a question in parenthesis does not make it rhetorical. But, sure, if you want the question to be taken as rhetorical then it still begs the question of why you are fretting about it such that you felt the need to make such a comment. 9 hours, James R. 9 hours. But, sure, it's not all about you, right?
    It begs no such thing. You asked a question. I gave a response. That's how threads tend to work.
    You asked a question in the thread. I responded to that question in the thread. That's how threads work, whether or not my speculations were correct or not.
    If you make this site all about you, any criticism of that is necessarily going to be about you. Stop making everything about you, then there won't be such criticism. Furthermore, stop behaving poorly, and then there won't be such criticism of that either. Moderators need to be held to account, just like everyone else. And so far your record is, well, not great (and that's being generous).

    But, anyhoo, just like your "rhetorical" question, this should all be irrelevant to the thread, other than perhaps informing you of your poor behaviour (again). If you wish to continue this line, rather than take it to PM, the subsequent derailment will be wholly on you.
    Magical Realist likes this.
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    You still want to talk about me? Okay. But we'll also talk about you. I'm sure you won't mind.
    Yes. My bad for writing "Magical Realist" there rather than "Yazata". I was replying to three people in that one post, so I had three names in my head. But you're a forgiving guy, so I'm sure you'll find it in your big heart to forgive this small slip of mine.
    Thanks, Sarkus. Gee, I'm glad I can count on you to help me work out who's who. What would I do without you?
    My sarcasm was supposed to suggest to you that jumping in to answer for somebody who ought to be able to answer quite adequately for himself is to be frowned upon. Why did you feel you needed to inject yourself into the discussion at that point?
    Suppose, hypothetically, you were to post a message to somebody, addressing them by name, and they were to respond to somebody else about your post rather than to you. Suppose that this person were to continually act as if you were invisible.

    Tell me, Sarkus: would you regard that sort of thing as passive aggressive behaviour?
    I hear that passive aggressive behaviour is not always recognised, especially by the person doing it.
    I hear that passive aggressive behaviour is not always recognised, especially by the person doing it. Calling somebody out for supposed aggression could be passive aggressive behaviour under the right circumstances. Don't you think?
    I don't recall asking for your advice.
    No. You're completely off the rails. It seems you haven't even bothered to get your timeline straight on who posted what when in this instance. Your behaviour in aggressively calling me out suggests to me that you are rather full of yourself.
    Passive aggressive, again?

    Your little act isn't going too well, Sarkus. If your attitude really was "Sure, each to their own", you wouldn't have jumped in on this. But here you are. And you're still going at it.
    Indeed. What of it?
    I'm not fussed about whether it is taken as rhetorical. If I had wanted it to be clear, I would have made it clear. It was a parenthetical comment, like I said.

    Regarding fretting, please re-acquaint yourself with my previous reply to you, where you might recall your concern was addressed.
    This schoolyard display is, again, mostly about you, now. How long are you planning to keep going?
    Sure. Each to their own, as they say.
    Why are you still fretting about it, then?
    Clearly, I am the focus of much of your attention. Perhaps you should expand your horizons a little and consider the possibility that my power to make this site all about anything is, in practice, limited. Maybe you should consider the possibility that, in part, sciforums is what you make it all about, too. Not to mention all of the other people who post here.

    Would you like a site that's all about me, Sarkus? Of late, you've been acting like an obsessive fan, crying out for his idol to notice him.
    You should consider practising what you preach. Set an example for us all!
    That's churlish (and childish) of you, seeing as you know that what you just said isn't true. This latest unfortunate display from you is another blemish on your own "record", I hope you realise.
    Not only should it be irrelevant. It is.
    Don't be silly. This derailment is, now, almost entirely on you. I doubt Yazata will want to join your schoolyard bully gang. Magical Realist might want to whinge some more, I suppose. But you are free to take the high road at any time.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    That reminds me of Bayesianism's "problem of priors". (I was just reading some Bayesian stuff...) Please excuse me if this is a rabbit-hole post, it just expresses some ideas I had upon reading some of the things Sarkus and Dave said.

    A quick little summary:


    In Bayesianism we have a set of hypotheses, each with its own initial likelihood, called its "prior probability".

    And we have evidence, that increases the likelihood of some hypotheses and reduces the likelihood of others. The likelihoods of the various hypotheses after the evidence has been considered is called its "posterior probability".

    The Bayesians think that Bayes' formalism provides them a way to mathematically calculate the changes in initial probability in light of evidence. (While it arguably works in artificial statistical situations, I'm not 100% convinced that it applies in real life where credences are less well defined. There's the problem of how to quantify informal intuitive credences and unconscious biases. And evidence is often pre-selected in motivated fashion.)

    But that being said, it's hugely popular at the moment in statistics, philosophy (epistemology and philosophy of science) and in computer science, where it forms the basis of a great deal of machine learning theory.

    So... where do the prior probabilities, the "priors", come from? How do we initially apply probabilities (the Bayesians interpret this as degrees of credence) to each of the various open hypotheses? This question is the Bayesian "problem of priors".

    The approach the Dave is (probably correctly) objecting to is called the "principle of indifference". It says investigators should initially assign the same probability (degree of credence) to all hypotheses under consideration. It's like flipping a coin, where heads and tails initially have equal likelihood.

    Except that people rarely do that. They start out by initially assuming that some hypotheses are more likely/plausible/probable than others. That's what Dave seems to be arguing for. (It's certainly reasonable.)

    Some Bayesians, the "subjective Bayesians" think that assigning priors is largely subjective, dependent on an individual's pre-existing beliefs which might differ dramatically from person to person. The "objective Bayesians" believe that there is some objective truth of the matter of how to assign priors.

    It struck me that much of the disagreement between, Me, MR, JamesR and Dave seems to revolve around how we assign prior probabilities to various hypotheses (Dave says this pretty explicitly) like 'UFO reports are explained by their being alien spaceships', 'UFO reports are the result of perceptual or instrumental mistakes' ,'UFO reports are all reducible to known explanations, 'UFO's are something new' or whatever else it is. If prior probability for some hypothesis (atheists' view of the divine perhaps) is initially believed to be effectively zero, evidence isn't going to move the needle very much.

    So how should we interpret "unknown" in this kind of scheme? Is "unknown" just another hypothesis alongside all the others? Or is it the absence of hypotheses?

    If valid hypotheses must always reduce to things that have already been confirmed, how can people ever learn anything new?

    And that's the problem of priors once again. How does one determine, before the fact, the prior probabilites of alternative hypotheses (including possibilities that have never been observed and some possible hypotheses that people haven't even thought of yet)?

    Skeptics start from the assumption that particular kinds of reported phenomena are what they call "woo". That's their preexisting belief before any new evidence is even considered. The word "woo" seems to refer to things that not only objectively don't exist, but beliefs that it's stupid and ignorant for anyone to even entertain seriously. Hence the ridicule, sarcasm and sneers that accompany so much of their rhetoric and their talk of "schooling" their opponents and of being the representatives of "reason".

    So your argument seems to me to effectively be a demand that any UFO investigation accept the "skeptics'" pre-judgement of what the initial priors should be. My objection is that to do that would essentially constitute the "skeptics" thumbs on the scale and bias the outcome of any investigation.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
    Magical Realist and Sarkus like this.
  15. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    There’s really no reference point when it comes to UFO’s, because there isn’t any conclusive evidence when it comes to any claims so far. Even the tic tac video is speculation, at best. I’d say the witnesses seem credible, but that’s all we can honestly say. And we can rule out what some UFO’s are not. That counts for something, I guess.

    lol I’ll have to watch it again.
  16. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    The old straw man's back from his Christmas break:

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  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Says the person taking all that time to talk more irrelevant bollocks, while reconfirming all they're criticised about. Can't help yourself, it seems.

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    Why do you bother? Does making it all about you help you cope with your obvious insecurities? Ah, well. Guess you'll never learn.
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You have the answer to the UAP enigma? Feel free to post it at any time.
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member


    I play the numbers and conclude
    • the Universe is big
    • number of planets really uncountable (well not worth doing)
    • number capable of technology - as above
    • distance between technology planets - to far for any prospective chance to be traversed in reasonable time frame
    • any inteligent life form is not even going to try

    Little green aliens are not visiting
    All UFOs have mundane explanation
    Investigate? Sure ✅ if unknown stuff is floating around in the atmosphere please ensure it doesn't cause any accidents to our aircraft

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  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    When you say "assumption" in the context of what you called the "problem of priors", it is important to distinguish weak assumptions from strong ones.

    For instance, one person might decide that the "prior probability" that any given UAP encounter will turn out to be an alien craft is 1%, while another might decide that the same prior probability is 25%, say. (Sombody like Magical Realist might decide that the prior probability is about 80% in these cases.)

    You might call the 1% guy a hardened skeptic with a closed mind. I might call the 25% guy a naively hopeful optimist with an open mind. I might call the 80% guy a gullible fool.

    The important thing, which you are aware of, is that all of these people are making assumptions. The problem of priors then becomes one of trying to sort out whose priors are more defensible.

    Now, as you said, new evidence will always shift the needle one way or the other. Every case that turns out to be an alien spaceship should make the estimate of the "prior probability" lower for subsequent investigations. And every case that turns our to be mundane should make the estimate of prior probability for subsequent investigations higher.

    So, what can we say about UAP priors in 2022? Well, we've had 70 years of more or less systematically documented UAP reports in the US now. Not a single one has been confirmed to be an alien craft. But many thousands have been confirmed as mundane.

    This means that it is plausible to postulate something like this: the "skeptical community" might have started as 25% guys back in the America of the 1950s. But repeated examination of cases, analysed with good 'ol Bayesian methods, have, in the 70 years since then, shifted the "prior" from 25% down to something like 1% or lower.

    Most people aren't dedicated Bayesians, of course, so not everybody thinks rigorously like you do. The 80% guy might never shift his "prior" from that 80% initial estimate, no matter how many cases turn out to be mundane.

    To summarise, here's the TL;DR version of the above:
    It might be plausible to suggest that at one time, decades ago, the "average" UFO skeptic was might have been more likely to assume that a given UFO case would turn out to be paranormal or "non-mundane" than the "average" skeptic of today. But the accumulated experience of decades of investigating these things has shifted the needle - as it should if we're doing this properly - so that, these days, UFO skeptics have a more informed (and hence improved) estimate of the likely "prior" probability of aliens.

    If you're a good Bayesian, you will surely agree that if the UFO "prior" is sitting at 1% or less (you choose if it's 0.1% or 0.00001%, if you prefer), then there comes a point where it is a fair generalisation to say that anybody who believes in alien visitation is probably stupid or ignorant, or both.

    For the True Believers, however, there is a get-out-of-jail-free card. They can stop messing around with probabilities and start digging up some proof (i.e. excellent, unimpeachable evidence) for their claims. Then, they won't need to say "I believe there's an 80% chance the UAP I saw was the woo". They will be able to say "Look at this alien spaceship I've collected, guys! It's obviously the woo, just like I said it was!"
    Unless you believe (and can demonstrate why) the skeptics are not doing their Bayesian calculations correctly, that would be a reasonable demand. Would it not?
    It sounds like you'd prefer to have Magical Realist's thumb on the scales. Why?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    See my previous post. The fact is: no UAP report has ever been confirmed as an alien craft, while many thousands of reports have been confirmed to be mundane (i.e. there is conclusive evidence the UFO was mundane - at least to a "beyond reasonable doubt" level).

    How is this not a reference point?
    The "tic tac" evidence is a lot stronger than, say, the evidence in the blurry video recently posted to this thread. There is no argument that some UFO cases are better evidenced than others. But the fact that even in the tic-tac case - one of the best evidenced cases we know of - the evidence is quite unconvincing, insofar as it points towards alien craft or other woo.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Still not ready to stop, yet? Do you want to talk some more about you and me, Sarkus?
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    An interesting conjecture. But that door swings both ways, does it not?

    As a primitive litmus test, what if you were to tally up the word-count of contributors here - boiling off all bickering and rhetoric on both sides, and leaving only direct analysis - which camp would you say has made a bigger contribution to actual analysis of the data?

    Would you say Enthusiasts have performed anywhere near the amount of rolling-up-the-sleeves-and-getting out-the-pencils analysis as Skeptics?

    Not that I want to hoot my own horn, but has any Enthusiast attempted any analysis like this? That's just one example. This thread is littered with examples of such analysis.

    Which camp here has a better demonstrated track record of doing any actual analysis?

    Shouldn't the outcome be weighted by those who actually walk-the-walk?

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