How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

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Ygern
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How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by Ygern » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:48 pm

My sister has asked me for some good UFO sites, she is sceptical enough to realise that there are some junk sites out there. But she also says she has read "lots of lot of documentary info" and that she "knows that the governments know more ...etc".

I would really like her to come through this a sceptical and scientifically literate person, so this is the wrong reaction:
Image

But she's not quite ready for Bad Astronomy, the SGU and the like.
Where do I start?
The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time ~ Lawrence Krauss
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Tulip1
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by Tulip1 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:59 pm

jeez I saw a good documentary a long time ago about UFO's explained. A really easy going doc. I'll have a look for it when I come back.. need to run coz college is starting in a hour
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
aZerogodist
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by aZerogodist » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:54 pm

http://www.dreamlandresort.com/
Are there UFOs at Area 51?
No. Due to the remoteness of Area 51 it is virtually impossible to tell what exactly goes on there. As a result, all sorts of conspiracy theories and UFO legends have come up over the years. In the late 1980's a man named Bob Lazar claimed to have worked on UFOs near Area 51, at a site he called "S-4". For a while, this brought a wave of UFO enthusiasts out to the area, and in 1996 the nearby Highway 375 was even named officially the Extraterrestrial Highway in an effort to draw more tourists to the area.

In reality, anyone who spends some time investigating Area 51 will quickly understand that what goes on there is very earthly in origin and has nothing to do with "ET". It becomes apparent that the abundant UFO folklore is nothing but a welcome smokescreen, a distraction from the real purpose of the base, Black Project development. It creates a perfect cover for the operation at Groom Lake and automatically destroys the credibility of anyone who may have accidentally witnessed a flight test of a Black Project by exposing them to ridicule of being a "UFO nut".
Saw a great documentry on "Dreamland" that showed people were employed to give misinformation to feed the UFO's "conspiracy"
inedifix
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by inedifix » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:45 am

Ygern wrote:My sister has asked me for some good UFO sites, she is sceptical enough to realise that there are some junk sites out there. But she also says she has read "lots of lot of documentary info" and that she "knows that the governments know more ...etc".

I would really like her to come through this a sceptical and scientifically literate person, so this is the wrong reaction:
Image

But she's not quite ready for Bad Astronomy, the SGU and the like.
Where do I start?
Might be too soon to introduce her to the formal fallacy of Affirming the Consequent, but maybe worth a try. She's making this error...

(1) If governments knew about alien visits to earth, they'd try to cover them up and wouldn't admit to knowing anything.
(2) No government has ever admitted to knowing about aliens visiting earth.
Therefore:
(3) They are covering up what they know.

You could send her to SETI, the "official government backed search for aliens".

But probably the best thing is to ask her to consider for herself the fact that public and literary interest in the idea of Aliens has historically followed on the heels of, and progressed with, the scientific discovery of space beyond earth. With each new planet discovered in the solar system, speculation about alien life increased. The Victorians dreamed of space flight, and the dawn of the science fiction genre predate the first documented UFO sightings. Developments in Rocketry and the possibility of Space Exploration predates the rash of UFO sightings that began in the late 1940's. This presents no proof either way - but someone with an active mind should think about it.
  • Jules Verne publish From Earth to the Moon in 1865.
    The first documented UFO sighting was in 1893.
    H.G. Wells published War of the Worlds in 1898.
    The Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published the first serious scientific proposal for space flight in 1903.
    Space Flight became an engineering possibility in 1919
    And a scientific fact in 1944 when a German V-2 Rocket reached space on a test flight.
    In 1945 the US captured/obtained 100 plus German rocket scientists in Operation Paperclip.
    In 1945/46 the US rocketry program began in earnest.
    The first modern documented UFO sighting was in June 1947 in America.
    Then a wave of 800 plus sightings followed in July 1947 in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
    Since then, as the space race has progressed and intensified, so have UFO sightings.
It's also worth her while checking out historical photos of alleged UFOs, and comparing them with the way alien space ships have been depicted in fiction, comics and movies. It's interesting that the photos, and reported descriptions, generally match the sci-fi world's perception of, and capabilities for recreating, what a space ship should look like. In the 1940s and 50s they all looked like Flash Gordon tin can ships, these days they look like sleek and sexy Independence Day style ships.

Image
Image

She could read these wikipedia pages too...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_spaceflight
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unidentifi ... ct#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Race ... _World_War
“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. There is no free will. There are no variables. There is only the inevitable.” Chuck Palahniuk
Tulip1
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by Tulip1 » Sat Oct 09, 2010 7:55 am

Strictly speaking UFO is just Unidentified Flying Object. So they do exist and yes they are probaly covered up or denied by government because they are/were aeroplanes like Black bird and the flying wing. And in the 60's they must have looked like something from out of space.

The documentary I saw was very good and explained mirroring in the sky, bit like fata morgana's or also called mirages and the wet patches you see on the road on hot days.
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by NorthOfTheBorder » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:48 pm

inedifix wrote:It's also worth her while checking out historical photos of alleged UFOs, and comparing them with the way alien space ships have been depicted in fiction, comics and movies. It's interesting that the photos, and reported descriptions, generally match the sci-fi world's perception of, and capabilities for recreating, what a space ship should look like. In the 1940s and 50s they all looked like Flash Gordon tin can ships, these days they look like sleek and sexy Independence Day style ships.
A similar point was made in this article - Noting that the reported aerodynamic behaviour of UFOs over the years seems to have tracked what people would expect to be impossible given the state of aircraft technology at the time.
“I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong”

Richard Feynman on doubt,uncertainty and religion
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by inedifix » Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:10 pm

A lot of UFO sightings more than likely boil down to Pareidolia, where the brain struggles to interpret what it's seeing and fills in the blanks with previously stored information. It happens all the time. Most of us have 'seen' what look like dead animals on the road, which turn out to be paper or plastic bags when we reach them. But dead animals are quite common on roads, so we lend it no significance. It's only when people see what their brains interpret as particularly weird or spooky feeling things, like alien spaceships, or Allah's name written in the ocean, or the Virgin Mary in a tree stump, or a ghost, that they start reaching for the phone to call the local TV station.

Like this old Victorian photo... that's Jesus' face between those people isn't it? Or is it something far more mundane, something you'd expect a Victorian couple to have between them?

Image
“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. There is no free will. There are no variables. There is only the inevitable.” Chuck Palahniuk
Ygern
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by Ygern » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:26 am

Why is Jesus sucking that man's tummy?
The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time ~ Lawrence Krauss
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Beebub
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by Beebub » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:45 am

Ygern wrote:Why is Jesus sucking that man's tummy?
That's not his tummy!

I love the bit from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where Zaphod describes how he used to 'buzz' people on earth. I probably have the word wrong and I can't possibly do it justice but in a nutshell he woudl find a very remote place on earth and find some chap on his own, fly low overhead on his space ship, then jump out and scare him in a green costume and fly off, knowing full well that nobody is going to believe the man's story.
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Re: How do you introduce sceptical thinking to a family member?

Post by aZerogodist » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:48 am

Tulip1 wrote:Strictly speaking UFO is just Unidentified Flying Object. So they do exist and yes they are probaly covered up or denied by government because they are/were aeroplanes like Black bird and the flying wing. And in the 60's they must have looked like something from out of space.
Back in 1980ish I saw a Blackbird flying real low right over my house, at the time I was into planes but still, as a photo of a plane looks nothing like a rapidly moving object, I couldn't pin it on any one plane and it was only a few years ago when I saw a clip on tv of a blackbird flying over head, it was like watching a replay, I could see how someone could feel like a cave animal in comparision to such unknown to them technology, & jump to other worldly conclusions. I think it might have been the same documentry.
inedifix wrote:Like this old Victorian photo... that's Jesus' face between those people isn't it? Or is it something far more mundane, something you'd expect a Victorian couple to have between them?
took a good while, only when I zoomed from 200% back out, for a second I saw it, then jumped back to JC, but now can see the ---- clearly.

I think that following ET-UFO's and abduction stories would lead to skeptical thinking, but only if you follow beyound what the believers say.
Here is a ufo site http://ufo-tv.com/long-ufo-documentaries
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