Summary: In a recent exchange with a UFO lawyer I was assured that he could prove the existence of UFOs in a court of law. This brings up a very important point regarding the history of UFO investigations that raises questions about the rules of evidence used to judge whether UFOs are a real phenomenon or not. The lawyer could justifiably make that claim, however, scientists routinely say there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of the phenomenon. What gives?
In a recent exchange with a UFO lawyer I was assured that he could prove the existence of UFOs in a court of law. This brings up a very important point regarding the history of UFO investigations that raises questions about the rules of evidence used to judge whether UFOs are a real phenomenon or not. The lawyer could justifiably make that claim, however, scientists routinely say there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of the phenomenon. What gives?
The problem has to do with the way the phenomenon has been classified and defined or rather not clearly or correctly classified or defined. Most of the time UFOs have been studied as if they were a natural phenomenon and the rules of evidence that apply to the physical sciences have been applied. Those rules are stringent as they involve such subjects as chemical and atomic structures. When placed in this category the UFO phenomenon fails to meet the criteria of scientific proof, for obvious reasons. The phenomenon is not a natural one. We have no control over it and scientists cannot perform repeatable experiments to ascertain its nature.
It is a matter of classification and that is why a lawyer can accurately make the claim that sufficient evidence does exist to prove it in a court of law. Physical scientists do not consider things like eyewitness reports and circumstantial or anecdotal evidence. A court of law does. There is no single set of standards that can be applied across the board to define what scientific evidence is. Physical scientists cannot deny the veracity of sociological or psychological theories simply because the evidence to support them is based upon a different degree of rigor.
There is an acknowledged division between the hard and soft sciences, for example, chemistry and sociology. You dont approach the two disciplines in the same way.
Now, let us compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges to gain some insight into why there is such a divergence of opinion about the UFO phenomenon. First we have to ask, would it be fair to let a chemist evaluate the credibility of a sociological theory using the standards of evidence and protocols that he normally uses in his chemistry investigations? No, that is apples and oranges. That is exactly what has happened in the history of UFO investigations. Skeptical scientists have consistently claimed that the phenomenon cannot be proven and by their standards they have been right.
But those are the wrong standards to apply because UFOs are not natural events or processes and the preponderance of evidence suggests this is the case. So we have this historical split and ongoing ambiguity with highly credible witnesses reporting sightings and encounters with UFOs that are followed by routine dismissals from scientists that are reported in the media in a variety of UFO articles. What is the general publics reaction? The public is quite naturally torn and confused.
Most people do not want to think of pilots, policemen and radar operators as well as various military personnel as being incapable of distinguishing between a UFO and swamp gas or a UFO and a weather balloon. These are trained professionals that we depend upon for our safety. Yet thousands upon thousands of reports by such individuals have been rejected or downgraded because there is no scientific proof and therefore they must be treated as nothing more than anecdotal reports.
As we noted above, hard scientists do not have much use for such evidence and yet these are the kinds of factual observations made by credible witnesses that legal cases and sociology are built upon. People also want to have confidence in science and as we have seen scientists have not been wrong. But neither have they made it clear just what they mean by scientific proof in the context of UFOs and the media has not picked up on this subtle, confusing issue.
No, there is not enough physical hard science evidence to prove the phenomena is real in this context. Yes, there is enough legal and soft science type evidence to prove the phenomena is real in this context. How do we resolve the resultant ambiguity and ascertain the ultimate reality of the phenomenon? Put it in its proper classification and definition as an unnatural phenomenon under the purview of such disciplines as sociology, cultural anthropology, social psychology, etc.
While the skeptical scientists and debunkers have been correct, to a degree, their assertion that there is no hard evidence is incorrect. Radar operators have observed them, photographs and video clips containing recorded sound have all been documented and they corroborate UFO sightings. This is hard evidence that substantiates the reality of the phenomenon.
Does it matter? How we classify the phenomenon makes all the difference in the world. Accepting that it is an established scientifically proven reality under the less stringent rules of soft science would remove the stigma from witnesses. Removing the stigma is important because as Stanton Friedman has pointed out it is a taboo subject in academia. But more importantly classifying it correctly as a non-natural phenomenon allows investigators to start focusing on the right questions instead of looking for hard evidence among the ever-increasing amount of data that they have accumulated.
911 taught us a lesson about not connecting dots and not making the cogent inferences and acting on them. The data was there and several analysts were correctly interpreting it. But the executive part of the organizational brain of the FBI and CIA did not cooperate with the data collection and analysis part, which resulted in an intelligence breakdown.
We have to take the UFO phenomenon seriously until we have ascertained whether it poses a threat or not. We cannot allow the government to withhold important information and we cannot continue to come at the phenomenon from the wrong angle. Individual UFO investigators and organizations need to cooperate and share information just as much as government intelligence agencies do because there is no official (overt) investigation being conducted into the phenomenon at present, which could be the biggest intelligence blunder of all!
If debunkers want to argue against these propositions they should do so using a cost/benefit scenario. What do we have to lose by accepting the premise that the evidence proving UFOs is real? I submit we have nothing to lose. But what do we have to lose by accepting the premise that it is not real? We have nothing to gain and everything to lose if we are proven wrong and the worst case scenario emerges.