New Deep Six Podcast

January 30, 2009 5:05:16 AM PST
Title: "Explaining the Bucks County UFOs"We recently did a special report on Action News about an unusual spike in UFO sightings, particularly in Bucks County, particularly in July of 2008. You can watch the story, and learn much more about it, on 6abc.com.

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To summarize quickly, the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, gathers and investigates sightings, and says there were 63 of them in the Bucks County area that July. Normally, MUFON says, it only receives about eight to 10 UFO sightings per month.

By the way, I'm sure you know this, but allow me to emphasize that when we say UFO, we do not mean alien craft. We simply mean it is an object in the sky that has yet to be identified. Again, I know that's pretty obvious, but there are those who assume the reference to a UFO is a reference to beings from another world, and that is just not true.

Anyway, MUFON has yet to be able to explain this spike, or "flap," as they call it, in sightings in Bucks County. Most of them seem to be over or near the Oxford Valley Mall. Investigators note that area sits between the Willow Grove Naval Air Station to the west, and McGuire Air Force Base to the east, and sits beneath a frequent flight path for airplanes travelling along the east coast.

It also looked for evidence that the planet Venus, or the International Space Station were in the sky at the time - they are frequent causes of UFO sightings.

MUFON looked into a lot of things, and to this day, cannot explain why so many people thought they saw something strange in the sky in our area last year. Certainly they saw something right? How could so many people be hallucinating at once?

I rarely interject myself into these types of situations, particularly controversial ones like UFO stories, but here is what I think:

When something happens that I cannot explain, I think of two things. Number one, what the late, great astronomer Carl Sagan used to say: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

And number two, the famous Occam's Razor, which says: the simplest explanation is usually the best.

Let's apply these two statements to the Bucks County Flap.

Blaming alien activity for the many sightings in Bucks County would be an extraordinary claim. Does anyone have any evidence that the activity was caused by something, or someone, from another world? No. All we have is witness accounts. Although at least one witness says she experienced some extremely unusual feelings during her sighting, no one reports having made any contact with these UFO's. No one has a piece of physical evidence from whatever they were. So, the extraordinary claim that they were alien crafts, is hardly backed up by extraordinary evidence.

So what is the simplest explanation, as Occam's Razor tells us to look for?

I look at it this way:

You are sitting in your family room, watching television. Let's say you are watching the Tuesday installment of UFO week on cable television. Suddenly, a rock smashed through your window and lands on your coffee table. What do you do?

Well, eventually, you try to figure out who threw it. Where do you go to look? Moscow, Russia? The Patagonia region of Chile? A deserted island in the Pacific?

No, you begin looking nearby - in your neighborhood, you begin looking for someone who is able to throw a rock, like another human being, and you look for someone who had the motivation to throw it at your house, like an enemy, or a mischievous child. I'm sure you would agree that you have a much better chance finding the rock-thrower within close proximity to your house, rather than on a completely different continent.

So, let's say you spot something in the sky, and it looks like some type of craft. Even if it appears to move around in a spectacular fashion, even if it appears to be of a shape and design that matches nothing you have seen before, even if you get this strange feeling while it happens, wouldn't the simplest explanation be that this was either an optical illusion driven by some natural force on Earth - or, that it was a craft designed by humans - a species that first learned how to execute heavier-than-air human flight more than 100 years ago?

Before I make this next statement, please do not think I am assigning the blame on the military. But just to give you an example, how about the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber?

This aircraft, which is difficult to spot on enemy radar, was secretly developed by the US Air Force over a decade. The public did not get its first look until 1988. Let's just say you saw this aircraft during the period of time that its design was classified. Would you consider it man-made? Really, that's a question only you can answer. I suggest you head to the internet and take another look at what a B-2 looks like. If I saw that thing more than 20 years ago, I would have wondered if aliens were coming to get me.

So that's the point. It is certainly not out of the question that there really are aliens out there - I mean, Carl Sagan also said if there weren't, it would be a terrible waste of space. And yes, it is not out of the question that aliens have visited our planet. But here's another antidote from another favorite scientists of mine, astrophysicist Michio Kaku of the City University of New York.

Kaku compares an alien encounter with us, to an encounter we would have with an anthill. You're walking through your yard, you see an anthill, what to you do? Kaku suggests that you don't bend down and say "take me to your leader."

You probably keep walking out of disinterest. And you might even kick the anthill over.

Let's hope those aliens don't mess with our anthill.

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