Helen Sharman says Aliens Definitely Exist

aliens definitely exist

There’s a clickbait headline making the rounds this morning in regards to statements made by Helen Sharman and the idea that aliens definitely exist. Sharman traveled into space back in 1991 and the fact that she is making the statement would seem to lend it credence. To some degree it’s a misleading headline in that Sharman is not saying she knows aliens definitely exist, that the government has been hiding it, and she has evidence from her trip to Mir.

What Sharman is saying is the likelihood aliens definitely exist is extremely high. That there are so many stars, so many planets, that the chemistry of the earth is so similar to those places, the odds of life not being anywhere else in the universe is exceedingly small. She even goes so far as to speculate that perhaps aliens are already on earth but we cannot detect them.

Sharman is almost completely correct in everything she says. The number of planets and the physical makeup of life which corresponds directly to the most abundant elements in the universe, make it extremely likely that life does exist elsewhere. I think it’s very likely we are less than decades away from finding such life on the various moons of the solar system and even on planets like Mars or Venus.

Where Sharman goes wrong, and where she defies the scientific method, is when she states aliens definitely exist. We have no evidence of such. Certainly, it seems very likely that aliens exist. I argue that it’s all but impossible alien life does not exist. The universe is simply far too vast for there not to be aliens. There was life, there is life, there will be life. However, I have absolutely no definitive evidence to indicate there is life, nor does anyone else.

I do not think that Sharman is trying to start or validate nonsensical alien theories. I think her statements are made with honest intent. The reason this is a story at all is because she is an astronaut, well, technically a cosmonaut as she was aboard the Russian space station Mir. This fact make it seem as if she is saying something she is not, the human mind leaps to conclusions that are not actually articulated.

What many people unfortunately think when they read the headline, and even the story itself, is that Sharman is confirming some nefarious plot in which she met aliens while a cosmonaut and is now spilling the secrets. This is not the case and it was not her intent in making the statement, or so I believe at least.

What she is saying is that, to her, it seems impossible there is not life somewhere in this vast universe. That such life might be on earth right now. I don’t disagree but I also will not say aliens definitely exist for the simple reason that I have no direct evidence of that existence. Until I do, I’ll temper my statements.

In any case, I think the story is an excellent illustration of how we often read more into a statement than is actually there. We want words to mean one thing even when they don’t and we convince ourselves otherwise. Try to avoid this trap.

Tom Liberman

How I Feel Talking to a True Believer

uzz_Aldrin_Describes_His_UFOI’m an atheist. I’m not a what I would call a fundamentalist atheist in that I’m not out there trying to convince every Christian, Jew, and Muslim that atheism is the only right thing to believe but I do get into conversations with religious people on occasion. I think religious freedom is extremely important to the survival of the United States and people have every right to believe what they want and every expectation that the government cannot try to influence those beliefs.

I just read an interesting article from Yahoo Finance, of all places, about Buzz Aldrin‘s supposed experience with an alien space-ship during the Apollo 11 moon landing. It was during this mission that Aldrin saw a light apparently moving in tandem with his own craft. His words on the experience have long fueled those who believe aliens are among us.

So what’s the connection between Aldrin’s supposed alien experience and my atheism? If you scroll down and read the comments on the Aldrin story you will encounter what I frequently see when discussing the existence of God with the faithful. In the article Aldrin states specifically that when debriefed by NASA after the mission both he and fellow astronauts were of the opinion the light was sunshine reflecting off just released panels. He was interviewed about the matter years later and during that interview said the same thing but the producers of the show left that out of what was later aired.

While reading the comments below the article I was struck by how often those who truly believe in aliens were willing discount Aldrin’s explanation. They believed the original quotes without their attendant explanation were his true opinion and that he was hiding something now by giving a new explanation. This, of course, defies the fact that Aldrin’s original explanation is the one that makes the most sense and is a story he has told from the beginning although it wasn’t always published.

I’m not here to discuss the merits of aliens or religion but simply the idea that it is all but impossible to convince someone that the thing they believe is false. I can present all the evidence I want for the lack of a divine being in the universe. I can trot out all the Flying Spaghetti Monster arguments that illustrate the bad logic of many religious claims. I can point out the huge gaps in logic in the Bible and other religious texts. I’m not getting anywhere with the True Believers. They have faith and you can’t argue logically with faith.

So what’s the point of my little blog? I’m speaking to those of religious faith who think the idea of aliens visiting the earth is a rather silly notion. Have you ever tried to convince a True Believer that their pet alien theory is nonsense? If you have, you know exactly what experience I have had trying to talk to people about the notion of God. I know this comes across as insulting, even demeaning but I hope that it will give those of faith some insight into what the atheists among you feel when discussing such topics.

Believe what you want, that’s not only your business but a Constitutionally guaranteed right. I’m not here to convince you you’re wrong. I’m here to tell you that I know you’re wrong. There’s a difference, however subtle.

Care to tell me that you know I’m wrong? The comment section awaits.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
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Aliens on Mars Again – Yawn

Aliens on MarsThere is another aliens on Mars story making the rounds and I wanted to examine it very quickly. I’ve spoken about this sort of nonsense before but there are two instructive things about this article that caught my attention.

This story is in the Examiner and therefore is pretty easily dismissed, as that sort of news outlet often posts silliness. What I find interesting about this story is that the headline talks about “hard evidence” and the person who wrote the story has a financial stake in people believing in aliens. Both of these things are big red flags when reading a story and I thought, because they are so obvious here, that I’d talk about a little practice you can use when reading or watching the new.

Many news stories from more reputable sources than the Examiner also violate these rules and getting used to spotting things of this nature will keep you from falling prey to the deception.

When a story uses a term like “hard evidence” or any other absolute sort of declaration; be aware. The world is generally a rather gray and muddled place. Political ideologies are not all good or all bad. Just like your crazy Uncle Lou and your sweet Aunt Mary are not all good or all bad. Whenever I read an article that declares absolutes when talking about debatable topics my nonsense radar immediately goes up. Often when I read a story like this from a source better than the Examiner such caution has served me well. When I note something of this nature I immediately start to look for corroborating stories in other places. Often this leads me to find out the original story is filled with misinformation.

When I got to the byline of the story I found the name Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. and it took me only a single search to learn that he has published a number of books and has an entirely made-up philosophy about “exopolitics”. It deals with the idea that world governments are secretly managing the presence of aliens, a vast conspiracy as it were. He has a school, a website (built completely with tables and in desperate need of a WordPress migration), and clearly has a financial stake in people believing in aliens.

This is a huge red flag. When someone writing or reporting on a story has a financial stake in the message being delivered it is highly likely that the message itself is corrupted and probably filled with deceitful information.

That’s the lesson. When you read or watch a story on the news take a few moments to think about the terms being used and the people delivering the story. Look more deeply into the matter, particularly if the ideas are ones with which you are sympathetic.

At some point we have to stop blaming “the media” for “fooling” people and take personally responsibility for allowing ourselves to be fooled. If you are convinced that all Liberals are being fooled by CNN or all Conservatives are being fooled by FOX then it is likely you are the one being foolish.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

UFO Sightings from a Critical Thinking Perspective

UFO SightingsIt seems like every few months or so there are reports of Unidentified Flying Objects in the news and that these reports are generally associated with alien visitations. There were recently such reports from multiple sources across California and in reading the comments I was struck by how many people had their own story to tell. In addition a new crop-circle has generated much interest.

The study of these various reports comes under the category of UFOlogy and a lot of people, including various governments, have spent a great deal of time and tax dollars in trying to determine the nature of these events.

Many people claim to have seen aliens or UFOs and there is no chance I will be able to change the minds of those who are convinced that alien races are visiting our planet;  what I’d like to do is to make a critical examination of the general idea.

First a disclaimer. I do not think alien races are visiting our planet. I think all UFO sightings have logical, non-alien, explanations. Most of them have to do with the limitations of human vision and the plethora of natural events that can fool our eyes.

For the sake of argument, let us suppose there are alien races visiting our planet.

Sheer Volume of Sightings

Evidence

The enormous number of sightings in which people are absolutely convinced they witnessed an alien craft indicates that these aliens visit frequently, have been here for a long time, and are actively interested in our world.

My Thoughts

If aliens are frequently visiting our planet, if they are putting on shows in the atmosphere regularly, if they are kidnapping, speaking to, and otherwise engaging the people of our world; well, we’d have hard evidence by now. There is no plausible explanation of why they would engage in such a plethora of activities and yet supposedly want to keep their presence a secret. It’s illogical. Either we would know they are here because they communicated broadly and indisputably, or they are not here at all.

Behavior of Visitors

Evidence

The aliens kill farm animals to examine them and kidnap people to examine them.

My Thoughts

Any species that can master interplanetary travel could easily tap into our vast communication network and gain whatever anatomical information they desire. Why would they do things so overtly if they want to keep their presence secret? It makes no sense.

Fleeing Authority

Evidence

Many of the stories we hear depict the alien vessels fleeing at the first sign of military or government intervention.

My Thoughts

These aliens can clearly avoid detection. If they have been hanging out in the solar system for centuries, which reports indicate, they clearly can avoid detection from modern probes which are constantly looking at the sky. It makes no sense that they would have to flee when they are clearly capable of easily avoiding detection.

The God Delusion

Evidence

People generally want to feel in control of their lives but there are many things that are completely beyond our ability to change. It comforts us to think there is a guiding hand orchestrating events. This has historically taken the form of all-powerful gods.

People need an explanation as to why something happened. They want a reason. They assign a mystical being as this explanation.

My Thoughts

Aliens make perfect fodder for unexplained events. If you see a strange light in the sky, the easiest and most comforting explanation is that it was an alien or a god, same difference. A more intelligent creature guiding us is a soothing idea for many people.

Motivation

Evidence

There isn’t a lot of evidence as to why the aliens are visiting but speculation runs from wanting to use humans as a food source, to conquest for slaves, to friendly alliances.

My Thoughts

If the aliens had any of the motivation as suggested above they would simply make them happen overtly. What possible motivation could they have for centuries of subtle contacts, crop-circles, or abductions? There is no rational explanation for why aliens would be hovering around for so long, making their presence known in little fits and starts, and yet not do anything.

Imagine you are completely superior and want something from a technologically inferior species. You would simply do whatever it is you wanted and be done with it. There would be no need for games.

This for me is the most compelling reason I do not think aliens are visiting us. What reasonable motivation could such a vastly superior race have for behaving in the manner they do?

I understand people can come up with explanations but they don’t resonate with me.

That the aliens feed off our confusion or irrationality is probably the one I’ve heard the most. I call it The Matrix explanation; that the world is not what we suppose it is. That aliens or robots or gods are feeding off us, without us knowing. It seems self-evident to me that they could get the same result without all the nonsense.

Conclusion

I’ve gone on too long here I suppose. I just find the obsession with aliens to be irrational and it bothers me. I appreciate that your think you saw an alien space ship. You didn’t.

I also realize that I’m not going to change your mind. Please feel free to comment with your irrational explanations about why aliens are real and I’m an idiot. I had my say, you’re entitled to yours. Know that I won’t try to argue with you.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne