SocraticGadfly: UFO pseudoscience by Daniel Brito

July 01, 2021

UFO pseudoscience by Daniel Brito

Sadly, it's at Ken Silverstein's Washington Babylon

(Sigh). Well, Daniel Brito, after a smooth intro, spills the beans on what he really thinks with his comments about Roswell, which are all wet. The reality of the explanation, and why previous mis-explanations were offered up due to Cold War reasons, by Occam's Razor, etc., makes good empirical and logical sense. 

Beyond that, per the Skeptic's Dictionary entry, what is called "Roswell" is actually a conflation of events over several years.

But, Brito would rather settle for illogic and even hoaxes, like the hoax pic largely behind "Belgian triangles." That's it, pictured at left.

I’ve also been (for free, wouldn’t pay) to the tourist trap museum in Roswell, and having grown up in New Mexico, am familiar with the land, the soon-to-be Air Force air bases, missile tests etc. 

And, yes, it's a fucking tourist trap. And, when the director or someone overheard me decades ago, saying, sotto voce, words to that effect, he said, "You have to believe." That's exactly it. Belief. Like religious belief, and like it, per the book of Hebrews, in the absence of actual evidence seen.

Reality? Contra Brito, without bothering to look for the actual skeptical info on any of his specific UFO reports?

I've also been more than once to other sights of allegedly unexplained phenomena, like the Marfa Lights. The skeptical explanation there, from my personal knowledge of the highway, fits fine.

As I said at Ken’s site, and expanding:

1. The lack of understanding of actual physics that would be involved by many people confident that UFOs are actually alien visits.

2. The arguably personality-disorder level of narcissism that leads many to thing "hey, UFOs visited ME!" Erm, and not Biden, Putin, Xi, UN General Assembly, etc.? (Daniel, you may claim the book addresses that; I highly doubt that. In addition, the creator of X-Files said last week in an NYT column that the Pentagon's new releases don't say what most people claim they say. It's true that pilots may not have that problem, but, Kean's, and UFO enthusiasts' in general, take on military spottings, overestimates military training outside what's narrowly necessary to get a military job done. And, that one too is not original with me.

3. The lack of understanding of science research in general; if there are aliens within our galaxy, they'd be able to learn plenty about us without leaving home, and for a lot less, with massive telescopes etc.

4. Related to that? The economics of interplanetary manned spacecraft. Oops, forgot that one! (This is new to me, but, I'll be adding it to the narcissism argument and others in the future.)

5. As for specific claims he makes? I'm not wasting time googling for the skeptical take on everything, as noted above, but Rational Wiki has a perfectly rational explanation for black triangles in general. As for the Belgian Lights triangles? The "base" photo, touted by UFOlogists for 20-plus years, was a hoax, as noted at actual Wiki.

6. The assumption that, of ALL these aliens, all have just stopped by for curiosity, chit-chat and an alien cup of coffee. Really? NONE of them are like the aliens in the old Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man"?

7. The appeal to family trees, in the book’s author, and other prominent touters such as Hillary Clinton is a form of false appeal to authority, or appeal to the crowd or popularity and as such, logically fallacious. Just because RFK Jr.'s uncle was JFK doesn't make his antivaxxerism any more true. 

8. As for Part 1 of his series? Harry Reid pushed UFO study as a tourist gold mine for Nevada. Ted Stevens was a warhawk bordering Russia and wanted unknown objects studied for military reasons. Not sure about Inouye. 

Re Reid? Laughing boy Brito doesn't ask if the Pentagon periodically gets in an apparent UFO tizzy to gin up its budget. Of course now, the Air Force and Navy have to fight for anti-UFO dollars with Space Force! UFOs, the final frontier!

9. Speaking of? Chris Carter, the creator of the X-Files, says he rejects the new UFOlogy. Beyond that, the Pentagon report says little about UFOs and much about us, says Adam Mann

Mann has several good things to say. I'll give you two excerpts:

Though it contains no indication that any of its incidents could have been caused by things not of this Earth, it will be seen as a major victory by those who have been pushing for increased government disclosures about strange lights in the skies.

The new report is less a major turning point in our understanding of life in the universe and more a product of our current cultural climate, a time when expertise and authority are increasingly being called into question. The debate over UFOs instead highlights the limits of knowledge and humanity’s continued need to believe in something beyond our mundane experience of the world.

To me, that ties in with the psychological angle of narcissism on those who claim to have actually seen UFOs that must be aliens. People in an America of 330 million and world of 7-plus billion are looking to escape the mundane.

That said? There's this one group that hasn't really seen such things and doesn't expect to.

But before rushing off into such flights of fancy, it might be good to consider that another group of sky watchers, astronomers, rarely report seeing unidentified aerial phenomena. “No one would be happier than astronomers if UFOs turned out to be alien spacecraft,” says Andrew Fraknoi, a retired astronomer and member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), which promotes critical investigation of extraordinary claims. “Imagine getting to talk about astronomy with creatures that traveled through the stars.”

Mann has more in that vein. But, astronomers are "experts," and possibly part of the dreaded "them," and get government money, etc., so must be distrusted. Besides, Fraknoi IS a member of "them" — skeptics! Right, Daniel?

In addition, Mann notes what I noted about Roswell: UFOs arose out of the Cold War. 

A new piece at NY Mag goes back further, to chaff and other early anti-radar measures in World War II. Stealth bombers, whose triangle shapes match these non-bogie bogies on modern radar screens, is just an extrapolation of that technology. The piece also, interestingly, raises not only the possibility of "but Russians" or "but Chinese," but says, more possibly so, is "but defects in software powering modern American radar."

And, kind of undercutting Brito's breathlessness about Leslie Kean, she wasn't sole author of the 2017 NYT story about the Pentagon's research.

In addition, as Poynter notes, there's questions about just what the Pentagon program actually was and why the enthusiasm right now.

That said, contra Mr. Blumenthal? In the past, hallucinations and fabrications have been part and parcel of UFO reports. Publicity seeking certainly has been. Whitley Streiber presumably has been doing both! Why would anything be different now?

And, he and the other three "expert witnesses" for Poynter should take note of the economics, as at the link above. They note the tech level, if any of these things are actually real, are (apparently) beyond the level of the US, Russia, and China. They don't even look at the cost issue if any of these things were real. Nor do they note the sociology and public policy angle — if any of these things are real, why aren't world leaders getting visits?

Or, as Michael Shermer said a decade ago, it's not UFOs OR UAPs, it's CRAP. Shermer covers some of the inflations of the original description of the Belgian Triangles by some of its military by later persons, including the Leslie Kean so beloved by Daniel Brito.

(I had originally had Part 1 linked as part of this week's Texas Progressives roundup along with other pieces on the new Pentagon report, thinking, per Reid, that Brito was writing a "follow the Congressional grifting" piece, until Part 2 rudely disillusioned me.)

Finally, note to Ken Silverstein: I know you've got Part 3 scheduled. Please, no more after that. Had Brito done something halfway along the lines of Poynter, we could talk.

Update, July 9: Brito has done it and written that Part 3. (I wouldn't be getting big payout click-link bucks anyway, so the "no follow" is turned on.) Among many failings of motivated reasoning, Brito calls proto-New Ager C.G. Jung a crank (and he is) but touts Apollo 14 astronomer and later parapsychology touter Edgar Mitchell as a serious guy for writing the forward to a UFOs book when in reality, he's also a crank.

Apparently, Ken isn't listening. Brito now has a podcast with Stephen Bassett, which goes FAR over Ken's 11 minutes. Rational Wiki doesn't have a page for Bassett, but it does have for a co-loon. As for Brito saying Bassett is serious. So was that German guy writing about his struggle. And, Bassett expanding from UFOs/UAPs to an alleged Presidential statement that the "ETs are here" (Alleged, because no actual Presidential statement saying that actually exists) shows the type of claims inflation that happens with UFOs is a good example of retrospective falsification or similar.

No, finally two: Mr. Brito has an interesting recent past. He's also full of himself as well as shit if he thinks this is an "indispensible guide." And, he joined Twitter only last month, and to tout his indispensible bullshit, I'm sure.

No, finally part three, and Ken, you should already know this yourself. —Brandolini's Law, that is, the amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude greater than the amount needed to refute it. Brito's podcast shows that by the amount of stuff he simply throws around.

Of course, Ken might be a true believer himself, by the amount of space he's given Brito already, with more to come.

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