ET and UFOs

Alien planet of a double star systemBased on a couple of these posts, someone asked me, “Since you believe in ET, do you believe in UFOs?”

Maybe it shouldn’t bother me, but questions like that aren’t ones I like. To start with, I don’t really like either term. They conjure up popular-press images I don’t like. And the question connects two things that are, to me, really different stuff.  But, I tried to set that aside, not sound patronizing or annoyed, and made two points:

First, I don’t like using the phrase believe in ET.  By the dictionary, it’s a correct use of ‘believe’ but it feels wrong, because I can believe something with little or no evidence for it and that makes it too weak for this. Maybe it sounds pedantic, but I’d much prefer to say that my assessment of the evidence convinces me that extraterrestrial life is highly likely. Extraterrestrial intelligence, which what they meant by ET, is a less likely but plausible based on what we know. Both ideas are unproven as yet.

They thought that sounded the same as ‘believe’, so okay, yes, I believe in ET. <sigh>

As for UFO’s, that would be a firm no. I was pretty sure I knew what they meant by the term and my view of that evidence is there’s nothing there that convinces me that spacecraft of extraterrestrial origin have ever visited this planet. On the other hand, I would find it really exciting if one arrived tomorrow in a way that provided unambiguous evidence of what it was and where it came from. But I don’t expect that to happen, nor have I seen anything I find credible that says it’s ever happened.

Although I find the whole UFO phenomenon silly, none-the-less, there’s a really profound  question in there, although it’s not the one they asked! Instead, the question is this:

If, as the evidence suggests, “they” are out there, but they’ve not been detected, much less dropped by for a chat—why not?

That’s what the Fermi Paradox is all about and that’s really interesting.


About Dick Knisely

Science-guy, engineer, father, grandfather, husband -- yeah, I'm all of those things. I author this blog to share things I care about and you might care about, too. I hope you do and that you'll join in to share things you care about.
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