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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I'm perfectly happy to change my opinion as well - given evidence.  I also know that my senses have fooled me in the past - particularly when I was religious.  If I started seeing something totally bizarre I would have to ask myself if there was a possibility that I had been dosed with some groovy sort of drug, or if I had been under a lot of stress - I would try to verify if what I had sensed was real or not and accept that my perceptions were misleading if the evidence was against them.

When I was a child I was convinced that I had seen evidence of ghosts -> looking back, I realize that I was primed with all sorts of superstitious beliefs that lead me to perceive some events incorrectly.

People who want to believe in 'something more' often perceive 'something more'. I've often seen such people embellish their stories and then later other such people claim to have also witnessed the same event when initially they never made such a claim.

To date I've seen nothing that would convince me that interstellar travelers were observing us in incompetent secrecy.  Even when people see wild lights in the sky, the odds are much in favour of terrestrial origins over interstellar origins.

You are a paragon of reason - yet so easy to read!!

My thoughts are clearly written in my facial expressions - which is why I only play poker online.

What part of "unidentified" don't you understand?

NO!  Absolutely not!  The idea that we are being vistited by extraterrestrial beings and technologies so similar to our own is, on its face, utterly preposterous.  There are numerous scientific reasons to reject such a ridiculous notion - too many to list in this space.  But here are two:

The immense distances between our planet and any other possible inhabited locations in space mean that the time required for such journeys is, to say the least, prohibitive.  To believe that little green men are making regular trips back and forth - trips that take millions of years, even traveling faster than our fastest rockets, is nothing but comic-book fantasy/delusion.

The second (of many) reasons is, in fact, a dead giveaway as to the motivations of those who report seeing extraterrestrials.  They ALWAYS look like us.  They have arms & legs, eyes & ears, and all the other accoutrements of Homo sapiens.  Anyone who knows and understands even the most basic principles of evolution (very few Americans do) would realize that, even if we were visited by entities from the cosmos, they would look nothing like human beings or any other life forms we know on earth.  Furthermore, isn’t it an amazing coincidence, that they just happen to be our approximate size - not microscopic or gargantuan?  It’s the effect of the limited intelligence of UFO freaks.

Back in 1959, I was driving with a friend across the desert late at night.  We were on the desolate stretch between the California border and Las Vegas.  There was no moon, nor were there any clouds to reflect the distant illuminations of civilization; so the night was as dark as dark can get.  All of a sudden, my friend, sitting in the passenger seat, looked up through the windshield and saw a string of lights, which he described as being at very high altitude, and flying in formation at speeds far beyond the capabilities of all known aircraft.  “UFO’s!” he exclaimed.  I looked through the windshield and was astonished at what I saw.  Or, more accurately, what my brain saw.

Now I am, by nature, a person grounded in reality, and I am deeply skeptical of anything that doesn’t fit that reality.  So I began to look for a logical explanation - the LEAST logical being the one my friend proferred.  As I was moving my hand around, experimenting, the lights instantly disappeared; then, just as instantly, they reappeared, at the same altitude, speed and in the same formation.  I soon noticed that, every time my hand was in this specific position the lights would disappear, and appear again when my hand was elsewhere.  Finally, I looked off to the left of my car and noticed a string of lights on the ground far off - at least a mile - to the west.  They may have been street lights of a small community, illumination for an industrial facility, or something else; I’ll never know.  In any case, they were clearly earthbound and stationary.

What had been happening was that, in the extreme darkness, these isolated lights way off to the west, were shining through my window and reflecting off the curved pane of my windshield; occasionally, my hand would block these lights.  The lack of any perspective because of the total darkness, meant that the position and distance from our eyes of the lights were impossible to guage.  In other words, the lights were not high in the sky, they were on my windshield.  The human brain has this unfortunate flaw: it can only interpret what it sees in terms of our experience and/or our biases.  My friend’s bias was the credulous belief that there are flying saucers.  Mine is that there is ALWAYS a logical explanation of some kind.

I repeat: THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS FLYING SAUCERS, and people who claim to believe such nonsense are either mentally deficient or cynically deceptive.

 

I agree with everything you say except the time frame for the journey.  Just because we lack FTL transit, doesn't mean some advanced civilization couldn't have figured out a way. Even if someone did come up with a means, however, it would still likely require massive amounts of energy that would preclude casual visits.

I had a similar 'UFO' sighting on a city bus once.  Just as the bus rounded a corner, a line of glowing saucers dropped into view.  The sudden sight of them gave my heart a jolt.  In about 3 or 4 seconds I too found I was viewing a reflection during a time in the evening when the light was just right to reflect the illuminated, saucer shaped lights in a nearby parking lot without creating a reflection of the poles supporting them.  It was a great illusion and totally accidental.

The immense distances between our planet and any other possible inhabited locations in space mean that the time required for such journeys is, to say the least, prohibitive.  

In special relativity, motion through space plus motion through time always equals the speed of light. Thus the faster you travel through space, the slower you travel through time. Once you reach the speed of light, there is no time. So from the perspective of the space traveller, if you can go fast enough, time isn't a factor. Once you reach the speed of light the trip is instantaneous (absent the time to accelerate and decelerate) so in that sense time is not a factor. The technology to pull that off is beyond anything we're capable of doing, but after a million years of technological progress: who knows?

Also, what if advanced technology someday grants us the ability to control how we experience the passage of time? Imagine we can construct machine-like bodies and an enhanced human consciousness that has limitless patience, or that can shut down conscious thought for thousands or even millions of years at a time?

I don't see any evidence that extraterrestrials have visited the earth. But I don't think that means it's completely impossible. It's just highly unlikely.

" they would look nothing like human beings or any other life forms we know on earth"

Maybe. Maybe not. There may WELL be forces at work in the universe which would tend to favour bilateral symmetry,  for instance. Binocular vision would seem to have obvious benefits and eyes and ears higher above the ground may also be naturally advantageous.These forces may not yet be identified as having implication in natural selection.

Without the meteorite, dinosaurs were the dominant species - a whole different thing could have happened.

Actually the dinosaurs died off because they were oversexed used too much petroleum jelly and became oil deposits...at least that what I heard last sunday in church. :)

I guess it would depend upon your definition of "would look nothing like". Dinosaurs are bilaterally symmetrical, they have binocular vision, their eyes and ears are on their head - at the top. By "look nothing like" I pictured, for instance, an amorphous blob - creatures that, perhaps, wouldn't see a lot of difference between a dinosaur and a person. All I'm saying is that evolutionary changes are not "random" nor dependant purely upon competition with others. There are immutable physical forces which also played a role in shaping life on earth and because these forces are the same all over the universe, some similarities in life forms would be bound to occur.

Evolution sometimes creates bilaterally asymmetrical animals. Flounders are one example. They essentially spend their adult lives laying on their sides. One of their eyes migrates to the top side. Another example is the blowholes on sperm whales, which are located off center. Depending on how one defines bilateral symmetry, people aren't exactly symmetrical. Most of us have one eye ever so slightly higher than the other, which aids in depth perception. And for any person who's right- or left-handed, this handedness also results in some physical asymmetry. 

Not all aspects of animal anatomy and/or behavior have survival value. Some of them make a creature more attractive to a mate, which helps that individual propagate its genes into the future. However, that individuals genes may be quite average otherwise. There's no reason to suppose that a peacock with a particularly spectacular tail has anything but better tail genes, and the larger the tail, the harder it is for the bird to get airborne in case of a predator attack, so the tail would seem to be actively dysfunctional, because of the cock with the smaller tail can't get laid, his genes are going nowhere, even if his genes are otherwise superior and he can get away from predators more handily.

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