Is it me or is this site in its death throes?

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by Bowser, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    Uh huh..

    Do you know what one of the most interesting things about UFO sightings is, MR?

    In 1996, the Earth was under attack from an alien mothership. Do you remember?

    Fortunately, Will Smith was on hand to save the planet. This did happen. At least in cinemas.

    Independence Day was the blockbuster film of the year, but the fiction it portrayed may have had an impact on the real world - a huge jump in the number of reported sightings of UFOs.

    Documents from the Ministry of Defence released by the National Archives show the department recorded 117 sightings in 1995 and 609 in 1996.

    This was also the year when television series The X-Files, about attempts to find extra-terrestrial life, was at the height of its popularity in the UK.

    David Clarke, an expert on UFO sightings based at Sheffield Hallam University, believes there is a link between sightings and science-fiction.

    "The more that alien life is covered in films or television documentaries, the more people look up at the sky and don't look down at their feet.

    "Maybe what they are seeing is ordinary, like an aircraft, but because they are looking for a UFO, they think it is one."

    It's difficult to prove, he says, but there is a correlation between films and what people are reporting as strange objects in the sky.

    The year with the most sighting was 1978, when Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in the UK, although the year that ET was packing people into cinemas, 1982, was a year when sightings dipped.

    "The lows are also interesting. After 9/11, there were a few years when everyone was distracted by what was going on elsewhere in the world, and then the last couple of years there seems to have been more sightings, possibly due to Chinese lanterns being released at weddings and festivals."

    Ya, eyewitness testimony is so reliable.

    Elizabeth Loftus performed experiments in the mid-seventies demonstrating the effect of a third party’s introducing false facts into memory.4 Subjects were shown a slide of a car at an intersection with either a yield sign or a stop sign. Experimenters asked participants questions, falsely introducing the term "stop sign" into the question instead of referring to the yield sign participants had actually seen. Similarly, experimenters falsely substituted the term "yield sign" in questions directed to participants who had actually seen the stop sign slide. The results indicated that subjects remembered seeing the false image. In the initial part of the experiment, subjects also viewed a slide showing a car accident. Some subjects were later asked how fast the cars were traveling when they "hit" each other, others were asked how fast the cars were traveling when they "smashed" into each other. Those subjects questioned using the word "smashed" were more likely to report having seen broken glass in the original slide. The introduction of false cues altered participants’ memories.
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  3. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Following the publication of Jules Verne's Robur the Conquerer in 1886, sightings of airships in rural France became rather commonplace. A particularly amusing take (for which I presently cannot source the proper reference--I read of it in a biography of Vincent Price, of all places!) involves some farmers who discovered such an airship landed in one of their crop fields. Upon investigation, they were met by a couple of crew members who politely requested four dozen egg sandwiches and a flask of coffee.

    Given the particular... strangeness of this episode, I suspect exposure to ergot fungi may also have played a role, but again, I've got to relocate my source on that one.
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  5. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    I see you utilize the same Propaganda tactics as the Trump team... chiefly "Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty"
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  7. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    ...Deja Vu....
    Rigor Mortis, possibly...?
    Honestly, Bowser, "Dump on Trump" seems to be the current "soup du jours"!
    Lacking in Science, but chock full of the profuse ad hominems that a few Members (and Moderators) prefer to proffer in lieu of actual Honest, Earnest and Intelligent discussion.

    10 days...12 pages
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    The assertion that I'm arguing against is this:

    "The issue with eyewitness testimony is that it is more often not, wholly unreliable".

    How are 239 wrongful convictions (in somebody's opinion) constitute evidence (!!) that the majority of people's accounts of things they have seen and heard are wholly unreliable?

    What justifies use of the words "more often than not" and "wholly" in the sentence above? It seems to me that there's a non-sequitur (a logical gap) there that still needs argument.

    That's probably understating it. Here in California, during fiscal year 2013-14, 272,610 felony criminal cases were filed. 253,062 cases were concluded. Of the convictions appealed to the Court of Appeals by the convicted defendant, 94% of lower court decisions were upheld. I don't know how many of those cases involved witnesses, but I'd guess that witnesses were involved in some way in almost all of them. (Even when physical evidence is presented, human witnesses are called to establish foundation and to provide expert analysis of what the evidence means. All of which is subject to error and to differences of interpretation, hence the dueling expert witnesses in some trials.) And I'd guess that the 6% of lower court convictions that were overturned on appeal were most often overturned for procedural reasons and not because of problems with the evidence presented.

    That's just one year in one of 50 states here in the United States, which is just one country.

    So here in California at least, there doesn't seem to be any large-scale phenomenon of court cases falling apart based on eyewitness testimony being subsequently discredited. A few hundred examples of bad eyewitness testimony, taken from an unknown area over a time span of years (and how was that sample selected?), is a tiny drop in the bucket of what must total millions of cases.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Here's a couple of questions:

    Why do animals have senses like eyes, ears and noses, if the information that the animal acquires through their use is more often than not wholly misleading? Why would senses have evolved in the first place?

    And where does the attempt to discredit knowledge gained through experience leave empirical science?
    dumbest man on earth likes this.
  10. The God Valued Senior Member

    No, this is stretching too far against Bell's and Kittamaru.

    In majority of the cases where eye witness account is discarded, it is due to credibility of witness, these guys are interested eyewitnesses and deliberate falsehood is presented.

    What Bells and Kittamaru are talking is unintentional incorrect eye witness account, that certainly cannot be so high as being argued by them.
  11. Bells Staff Member

    Because, Yazata, they are the ones we know of. Those 239 were found due to the innocence project.

    Every year, 75,000 convictions are handed out based on eyewitness testimony. Consider that only 12-13 States have implemented policies and training, to try to reduce tainting eyewitnesses and to try to make it a more reliable form of evidence and even then, it can be unreliable. All that those who care can do is to try to ensure fairness and a sense of justice. Studies have shown repeatedly, that even with some safeguards in place, 20%+ are simply wrong or can be easily tainted as an eyewitness. The mind will fill in blanks, will try to make connections and will seek a pattern without one even being aware of it. People are very open to suggestion. And the rate that show up in studies, even with double blind line-ups in these studies, too many are simply wrong. The fact of the matter is, we simply do not know just how bad it is, but we do know that too many are wrongfully convicted and imprisoned and some even executed, based on unreliable eyewitnesses.

    Does that mean that all eyewitnesses are unreliable? No. Hence the more often than not. And the reason I worded it like that is because unless they are treated a certain way, unless criminal investigators are able to keep their eyewitnesses pure, unless they can get them to sign or agree to a form of confidence, for example, where the eyewitness goes through a process to prove just how confident they are and are able to repeat it and it is done quickly after what they have seen, unless you have double blind line-ups, unless criminal investigators are able to remove any hint of tainting the eyewitness when questioning them, then we cannot know. The number of those who are wrongfully convicted is going to be high, because eyewitnesses, by their very nature, can be so unreliable and it may not be something that is done maliciously, but it is simply because of how our brains are wired.

    Yes but they aren't looking at any evidence on appeal. The Court of Appeals does not even hear eyewitness testimony. The CoA looks at any legal errors that may have occurred in the lower court.

    So perhaps you should consider that, before attempting to argue that eyewitness testimony is reliable because of the legal process involved.

    That would be because the CoA is about the legal procedural aspect of a case.

    Are you aware just how hard it is to get a prosecutor to accept to reopen a case or retry a case when new evidence is found?

    In June 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and Northwestern University Law School, initially reported 873 individual exonerations in the U.S. from January 1989 through February 2012; the report called this number "tiny" in a country with 2.3 million people in prisons and jails, but asserted that there are far more false convictions than exonerations.[27] By 2015, the number of individual exonerations was reported as 1,733, with 2015 having the highest annual number of exonerations since 1989.[28]

    In the case of Joseph Roger O'Dell III, executed in Virginia in 1997 for a rape and murder, a prosecuting attorney bluntly argued in court in 1998 that if posthumous DNA results exonerated O'Dell, "it would be shouted from the rooftops that ... Virginia executed an innocent man." The state prevailed, and the evidence was destroyed.[29]

    In Massachusetts in 2013 a chemist admitted tampering with evidence and falsifying results regarding over 21,000 drug convictions from 2004 to 2013 by not undertaking tests and stating untested results were positive for illegal drugs.

    I can assure you, Yazata, there are many more false and wrongful convictions, than there are exoneration's. Scroll down to page 43 of the report itself, where it deals with eyewitnesses and goes through in detail about how they can be unreliable. Pay particular attention to the issues like bias that often taint eyewitnesses, how even police officers questioning them can result in a miscarriage of justice.

    But that would only be if you were truly interested and not just here to nitpick.

    Do you often ignore science to this extent, Yazata?

    How much do you want to bet?

    In cases where people were exonerated, which means that they were lucky enough to find lawyers to fight for them and get a new trial or have the prosecutor examine the evidence and demand a new trial.. Let's look at sexual assault cases and how racial bias plays into it to severely. And keep in mind, these are just the ones we know about. The number that we do not know about could be astronomical:

    Mistaken eyewitness identifications occurred in 80% of all sexual assault exonerations (see Table 13). More than two-thirds of sexual assault exonerations with eyewitness errors had black defendants (109/163). Of these black-defendant sexual assaults with mistaken eyewitnesses, 72% had white victims (69/96).70

    Most women who are raped are victimized by men of their own race. Inter-racial rape is uncommon and rapes of white women by black men are a small minority of all rapes, about 5%.71 But sexual assaults by black defendants on white victims were 53% of all exonerations in sexual assault cases with erroneous eyewitness identifications (69/131).72

    There are many possible explanations for this disturbing pattern. Of all the problems that plague the American system of criminal justice, few are as incendiary as the relationship between race and rape. Nobody would be surprised to find that bias and discrimination continue to play a role in rape prosecutions. Still, the simplest explanation for this racial disparity is probably also the most powerful: the perils of cross-racial identification. One of the strongest findings of systematic studies of eyewitness evidence is that white Americans are much more likely to mistake one black person for another than to do the same for members of their own race.73

    Page 42 of that report looks at mistaken or unintentional eyewitness unreliability in quite a bit of detail. It also explains how an eyewitness can be tainted or influenced. We will never know just how prevalent it is, because the criminal justice system is only interested in outcomes, not actual justice.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Because it is usually good enough to keep them alive.
    In a very good place. Science based on repeatable, mechanical observations is vastly superior to science based on what people smell (for example.)
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Science is still based on accurate observation. Over and over again, the reliability of perception is proven with every experiment and field research that is performed in the name of science. If perception were so unreliable, no experiment would be repeatable. Different scientists repeating the same experiment would be misperceiving things every time. Darwin's observations in the wild would never have accurately chronicled the effects of natural selection. Science would simply be impossible if eyewitness observation were as flawed as those making it out to be here are saying.
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    So that means 80% of the eyewitness cases are validated. How does this prove that "more often than not" eyewitness testimony is unreliable?
  15. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Actually, science could proceed without eye witness testimony at all, considering a good scientist documents and records things meticulously while they are going on, to the best of their ability. No need to rely on potentially faulty memories when you can record it in situ.

    Additionally, this is why science experiments are repeated over and over.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Reliability is inversely proportional to degree of personal observation. That's why mechanical observations have done so much for science.

    Let's use an example of an experiment - the determination of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Case 1 - shine a white light of known spectrum through a clear box containing pressurized CO2. Then put your hand out and feel how warm it is. "It's not as warm." "It's pretty warm." "Well, my hands are always cold, so maybe it doesn't work for me." Repeatable? No.

    Case 2 - shine a white light of known spectrum through a clear box containing pressurized CO2. Then measure the output with a spectrometer. Note that energy at 10.8 microns decreases from 10w/sq m to 6.71w/sq m. Run it again. Now it's 6.72w/sq m. Copy those results to your report. Repeatable? Yes.
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Proving only that eyewitness accounts can be flawed when the eyewitnesses are intentionally deceived and mislead. It says nothing about the accuracy of undeceived eyewitnesses.
  18. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    So do you wish to claim that leading questions, unintentional manipulation, and other items that can potentially impact a persons recollection (such as bias) is never an issue?
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Someone has to be observing the spectrometer. Who knows with observation being so flawed if that measurement can ever be accurately taken.
  20. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Obvious trolling is obvious... and apparently you haven't gotten the point to knock it off.

    YOU are the one making the claim that perceptions are so flawed, instead of arguing the actual claim being made that memory OF those perceptions can be flawed.

    Quit using strawman tactics and red herrings, or you will be infracted for bad-faith and trolling yet again.
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Flying saucers were being spotted by ground observers and pilots long before any sci fi movies came out about them. As early as 1947. That basically debunks that whole thesis.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Move the cursor over the frequency bin you want to see. The number now says "6.71." You do a screen grab and put it in your report. Then you collect all the data from all the runs, use Matlab to perform a statistical analysis, and use that data in your report as well. No one is "observing the spectrometer" and trying to guess what a line halfway up means.

    Which is one reason science is more reliable nowadays.
    Data mechanically obtained and recorded - accurate
    Someone who saw something strange in the sky - inaccurate

    But keep digging that hole.
    Kittamaru likes this.
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    • You have been warned time and again about this dishonest and trollish style you are embracing.
    You're still observing a computer screen. It all relies on the accuracy of observation. There's no way science can be done if observation is unreliable.

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