36% of Americans believe in UFOs, that is, though most Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are actually explained as such mundane things as misidentified meteorological phenomena, astronomical phenomena, aircraft, and so on, there's ~ 5% that are as yet unexplained and that these unexplained UFOs are machines from somewhere other than Earth.

Have you ever observed a UFO that has never been sufficiently explained? Do you believe that some unexplained UFOs are machines from somewhere other than Earth? If so, why (what are your reasons or arguments for believing so)? What evidence is there to support your belief?

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The Kaikoura light looks rather like a prankster saw a plane passing overhead and shined a powerful spotlight on the clouds. The rest of the "evidence" apparently involves people who claim to have seen it on radar (or people who claim other people saw it on radar).

Wow. Your mind is open, isn't it? The people who CLAIM to have seen these MULTIPLE objects on radar were the Wellington Air Traffic Controllers AND the plane's own radar equipment. Perhaps you're not familiar with how radar works. It does NOT register the light from spotlights.

If you say you can explain this with those weak assumptions, you are more guilty of inventing facts to suit your perspective than people who claim to have been abducted.

The film, of course, sucked - except for a few frames that appeared show real shape. Outside of that, they were just dancing lights.

The MAIN evidence is from MANY reliable, level-headed, and trustworthy eye witnesses  - including air traffic controllers. And my friend is no fool.

The fact is that this is one of the most, if not THE most well-document UFO sighting in history. No one (but you) claims to know what they were. I personally have NO trouble labelling this UNEXPLAINED.

Another interesting factoid is that Kaikoura is the home of a pod of humpback whales. The aircraft's path shown in the film, is wrong. The plane was actually flying inland of Kaikoura. The objects were, indeed, recorded as being off the Kaikoura coast, to the plane's right, and the activity of the objects seemed to be centred near where these whales are usually seen. That's my own observation.

The clip above, BTW, was a dramatization made later with real footage inserted. One discrepancy I noticed was when the film, while trying to point out the discrepancies in the Venus explanation, said that the sightings were taken "a half and hour before Venus could have been visible". In fact, Venus is NEVER visible in the middle of the night. 

Eyewitness evidence is the very worst evidence there is . The witnesses , as described by you were level headed and reliable , so what ? That is that is an astoundly bad reason to attribute this sighting's causation to anything other than a natural or man made phenomenon .

I see. And why do courts consider eyewitnesses to be some of the best evidence - especially when corroborated. 

Easy, tiger. I didn't claim to know what it was. I said it looks like a spotlight on the clouds. And it surely does.

The MAIN evidence is from MANY reliable, level-headed, and trustworthy eye witnesses  - including air traffic controllers. And my friend is no fool.

In other words, as I said, the rest of the "evidence" consists of people who claim to have seen it on radar. And as Neil deGrasse Tyson points out: in empirical science, eyewitness accounts-- the lowest form of evidence-- are not good enough. I agree with that assessment. Then there is the official investigation, which states:

"There is no evidence to connect the many radar and visual sightings [missing word: on(?)] the Clarence River and the larger lights seen to the east. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Ministry was completely satisfied there were no unexplained physical objects in the skies at the time of the sightings."

That's a recurring theme in UFO sightings: no evidence except for somebody's say-so.

If there's no evidence to connect it to radar, and no unexplained physical objects were in the skies at the time, then why can't it be a spotlight on the clouds, or have some other mundane (terrestrial) explanation? 

I think some people desperately want UFOs to be unidentified-- even to the point where they dismiss Occam's razor-- because they feel 'unidentified' implies a possible extraterrestrial connection, saving them from actually coming out and claiming it.

My mind is open. Just not so far that my brains fall out.

"some other mundane (terrestrial) explanation"

That would certainly be my position. But, when a close friend, an eyewitness, says, "there was something up there", I have to give that testimony a lot of weight - second, perhaps, to my having seen it for myself. He knows the difference between spotlights on a cloud and a physical object with shape (as some of the frames in the clip show). And the experience was shared by many, unrelated witnesses - ALL of whom, I understand, are equally convinced. 

I'm not saying that this is anything LIKE proof of extraterrestrials, but, if all these people can somehow be equally misled into believing they've seen physical objects, I'd like to know, with an equal degree of veracity, not what it wasn't but WHAT IT WAS that could simultaneously fool all these people.

I'm not saying that this is anything LIKE proof of extraterrestrials, but, if all these people can somehow be equally misled into believing they've seen physical objects, I'd like to know, with an equal degree of veracity, not what it wasn't but WHAT IT WAS that could simultaneously fool all these people.

The report by the New Zealand Ministry of Defense states that "on the occasions the large light was being filmed by a television team on board the Argosy freighter, neither Christchurch or Wellington radars reported any related visual sightings on their screens."

The visual and radar sightings were not simultaneous, Mike. So there is no corroboration between them. 

On the reliability of eyewitness testimony, I invite you to watch this video which tests your ability to focus your attention on a single detail. The results might surprise you.

Had a look at the report. Thanks.

Don't see the relevance of the clip, though. It would be analogous if we were asked to see if we could spot the gorilla.

Couple things about the report, what does Venus have to do with sightings at midnight and 2 AM? Venus is ONLY ever visible just after sunset and just before sunrise. We're talking the MIDDLE of the night here, when Venus is NEVER visible (at this latitude).

Second, the report STARTS with, 

"1. As a consequence of initial adverse media comment about Defense's response to news . . ."

It's pretty clear that they were told to get SOME kind of explanation out there to counter the "adverse media comment".

I had forgotten about the squid boats. They would have been over the horizon, but I guess that's the nature of mirages. I had never heard of night time mirages, but, they do, it seems, exist. I'd consider mirages to be a pretty weak guess, but it's probably the best explanation available.

Don't see the relevance of the clip, though. It would be analogous if we were asked to see if we could spot the gorilla.

The clip comes from a University of Illinois research project about unexpected events and eyewitness reliability. Test subjects are only aware of the gorilla about 50% of the time. Variations of the test involve changing the background colors and having a woman with an umbrella walk through the game, which are overlooked an average of 89% and 84% of the time respectively; all by people who were expecting the gorilla. Looking for the unexpected-- even when you know what to look for-- tends to make an observer more likely to overlook other unexpected details.

Other experiments into various aspects of eyewitness memory and perceptions have similar results: eyewitness testimony from a statistical standpoint is (at best) about as reliable as a coin flip. This is the reason empirical science lends it so little weight. (It's also why the falsely accused should hope their fates never end up in the hands of eyewitnesses and jurors who think seeing is believing.)

Couple things about the report, what does Venus have to do with sightings at midnight and 2 AM? Venus is ONLY ever visible just after sunset and just before sunrise. We're talking the MIDDLE of the night here, when Venus is NEVER visible (at this latitude).

I agree Venus is not a good explanation for what's shown in the video clip. But how do we know some of the other eyewitness reports did not come from hours when Venus really was visible? That is, reports of a UFO from one night caused others to look up at other times and see (what were to them) unexplained lights?

It's pretty clear that they were told to get SOME kind of explanation out there to counter the "adverse media comment".

Maybe so. But without evidence why assume it's meant to 'counter'? Why is investigating in response to public demand necessarily a negative?

I understand the study but, sorry, I still don't see the relevance.  What are the flight crew, guests, and ATC staff supposed to have missed by concentrating too hard on the objects?

It seems to me that such government reports produced under pressure too often reach conclusions which are weak or completely unjustified. Perhaps they feel that "we acknowledge this phenomenon but we don't know what the hell it was" is unacceptable when often it's the only sensible answer.

"Alien of the Gaps" - We don't know what it was, therefore [e.g. atmospheric anomalies] DIDIT

I understand the study but, sorry, I still don't see the relevance. What are the flight crew, guests, and ATC staff supposed to have missed by concentrating too hard on the objects?

I didn't propose that they overlooked something. I cited one example from a larger body of research which has consistently found eyewitness testimony to be unreliable; which is the reason it has so little weight as scientific evidence. You are free to dispute the findings but you'll have to take that up with the researchers. I find it convincing enough.

And really, Mike. Do you sincerely not see how the reliability of eyewitness testimony is relevant in a UFO sighting that is based primarily on eyewitness testimony?  

Perhaps they feel that "we acknowledge this phenomenon but we don't know what the hell it was" is unacceptable when often it's the only sensible answer.

"Alien of the Gaps" - We don't know what it was, therefore [e.g. atmospheric anomalies] DIDIT

I don't think that's a fair comparison. 'God did it' is not an explanation, it's a feeble excuse for not having any. To me it looks like the investigators provided several plausible explanations and didn't commit to any particular. I think the most notable finding is that no physical objects were detected (by multiple radars) at the time of the film crew sightings.

"no physical objects were detected (by multiple radars) at the time of the film crew sightings"

The report:

"10. The Wellington Radar Controller alerted the captain that there was a strong radar return about 35 miles to the port of the aircraft. The aircraft crew observed on that bearing a very bright light which they variously described as a bright orb, pear-shaped with a reddish tinge. . ."

Hmmm. ANYWAY The report is interesting reading even though it does seem to contradict itself occasionally. The excerpt agrees with what I knew of the incident (35 years ago) - that the sightings, the plane's radar, and Wellington radar all corroborated each other. 

HOWEVER the report and other material I've read about night-time mirages tells me that (contrary to my earlier statement that radar does not pick up light beams) the sightings (and the detail of the shapes) plus both radar returns could ALL be explained by mirages. The problem was that it was/is perfectly reasonable - almost axiomatic) to interpret a radar return as a physical object.

Thanks for reminding me about the squid boats. Perhaps what should have been done 35 years ago was a fly-over of the squid boats for a comparison of the light patterns with the aberrations. 

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