The burning ufological question of our age: why is there controversy over the UFO phenomenon when Michael Shermer is here to set everybody straight?
'Out of the Blue': Do Aliens Exist?
But when it comes to UFOs, there are plenty of skeptics. One man who makes his living as a professional skeptic is, well, skeptical.
Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic Magazine, says, "The parade of astronauts or police officers or politicians like Jimmy Carter -- it's irrelevant. Because they're human and they're brains and nervous systems and sensory apparatus are structured just like the average Joes."
Most people will concede that humans are fallible. We're certainly capable of misinterpreting stimuli, not to mention falling victim to the under-estimated "will to believe." But does that make witness testimony "irrelevant," as Shermer would have us believe? Hardly. Especially when he selectively ignores the vast body of UFO evidence in which the phenomenon (ET or otherwise) leaves an objective imprint on its surroundings (or is tracked and recorded by instruments).
The article continues:
Shermer spends a lot of time with reports of UFOs and space aliens, and has this to say about the documentary: "Um, the facts are true. The, uh, the story is well told and well produced. But that's not how science works. In science we have to have some way of testing to get an answer. It's this or this. And we have to have some way of weighing the evidence. And short of an actual experiment to run you have to have debate."
The irony, of course, is that we should be having a serious scientific debate over the meaning of the UFO evidence -- many of them, in fact. But Shermer's facile assumption that "UFO" is synonymous with "extraterrestrial spacecraft," coupled with his fanatical insistence that even high-caliber sightings (presumably even those confirmed by subsequent investigation) should be categorically dismissed, conveniently precludes the need for sober discussion.
In Shermer's world, the universe abides by the proclamation of a self-appointed "skeptical" elite, inconvenient facts summarily brushed aside with the help of a few condescending remarks and semantic misrepresentations. Fortunately for the rest of us, the universe doesn't seem to care what Shermer thinks. Instead, we're confronted with phenomena that challenge our assumptions and force us to expand our epistemological frontiers, all the while utterly indifferent to the preconceptions of committed believers and debunkers alike.