Another delightful autumnal day, here in Adelaide, South Australia; following a four day Easter break. I took some time over the break to read another book, new to me, and again supplied by my local library.
The book is "Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Astonishing Implications for our Future." 2011. By Jeffrey Bennett. Princeton University Press. Princeton. ISBN 978-0-691-14988-2.
Bennett is an astrophysicist, author and educator and lives in the USA. The book is primarily about the search for extraterrestrial life. However, Bennett had some personal and seemingly UFO related early childhood experiences which he tells us about. My post today will concentrate on pulling out his views on UFOs as expressed in this book.
"It has been a long time but I distinctly recall the sounds and sights of my alien friends." This is how Bennett commences his work, by recalling his childhood perspective of what he perceived as visitations by aliens.
He then goes on to say "I am now in my fifth decade of life, and I have not seen or heard from my friends since I was a teenager. I still believe they are out there, somewhere, but I am no longer convinced that they really visited me in my bedroom."
"I'd always wanted to see a real UFO - something in the sky that I could not explain and that would therefore qualify as an unidentified flying object. Then, even without proof, I could at least hope that I'd seen an alien space craft." (p.22.)
Finally he did see a UFO, a light, about the brightness of Venus, as well as the planet Venus in the sky. It brightened then faded, concluded "...I cannot conclusively identify the light I saw in the sky as a meteor or as anything else, which means I can truly claim to have seen an unidentified flying object. However, I cannot automatically conclude that my UFO was an alien spacecraft." (p.23.)
Science and the UFO:
"I tell this story not to discredit other UFO sightings but rather to emphasise what I consider to be the most basic difference between science and beliefs. Science is supposed to be based on verifiable evidence, while beliefs are matters of faith or opinion. I could believe with all my heart that I really did see an alien spacecraft, but if you don't believe me, there's nothing that either of us can do to convince the other." (p.24.)
His views on UFOs:
On an alien invasion hypothesis: "The mere fact that we are still alive therefor proves that no one with intentions on our world has visited us lately, because if they had, the world would already be theirs." (p.59.)
On crop circles: "...we are talking of beings who we should expect to possess technology at least 50,000 years beyond ours. If they chose to make their presence known, does it really seem possible that they'd decide to do it by drawing patterns in wheat fields?" (p.59.)
On crashed UFOs: "Claims of debris from alien crashes are hardly more plausible. Indeed if you assume that debris from places like Roswell really is from alien spaceships, the most remarkable thing about it is that alien spacecraft material doesn't look all that different from ours." (pp59-60.)
On hard evidence: "The bottom line is that virtually any claim of "hard" evidence of alien visitation quickly collapses under its own weight of implausibility. " (p.60.)
A rider: "But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and I'll be the first to admit that it's still possible that aliens are visiting us. In fact, based on the argument I've made about the number of civilisations, it seems difficult to believe that they're not..." (pp60-61.)
"With extremely high confidence we can conclude that any aliens who are visiting Earth are so far beyond us that there's virtually no chance of them leaving evidence behind by accident. If they want us to know they're here, they'll tell us." (p.61.)
"And yet, I still won't tell anyone who claims to have seen a UFO that they're wrong. Because with all this considered, there are still laws of which we are unaware, perhaps allowing them to do things like "cloaking" their spacecraft to prevent us from seeing them." (p.61.)
Having discussed the UFO phenomenon in early parts of the book, the rest of it discusses the subjects of what is life; life in the solar system; life among the stars, and SETI. "So now, we really are ready to move beyond UFOs. I hope I've convinced you that even if UFOs are real, we probably won't be able to find the hard evidence that science demands to prove it." (p.61.)