Thursday, August 7, 2008

Uncivilized Behavior

Seth responds to UFO correspondence:

UFOs: Flying Emotions
Reader warning: I'm taking off the kid gloves. If I seem angry here — a state of emotional discombobulation that seldom seems to be my wont — it's because people whom I barely know, or in some cases haven't even heard of, insist on propelling me over the precipice. ...

Read the rest of Seth's latest article.


Cris said...

Seth, you were great on the Larry King show, and I am very sorry to hear that you now have have to put up with these sort of reactions.
This belief in visiting aliens is really like a religion, a faith that does not admit any doubts or objections.
But if it can be of any consolation, there also many people who totally agree with you.

Lourdes / Hypatia said...

Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer) had a post related to Seth's article

navyvet said...

Hmmm...John Audubon watched birds (and presumably the sky) for 45 years.

You could make the case that he was a reasonably competent observer.

But not once in 45 years did he report seeing a UFO.

But, this isn't a rational discussion, is it...

Robert Kimbro said...

Dr. Seth,

Your piece on was a clear, cogent, and convincing rebuttal to all the nuttery that passes for discourse these days. Bully for you!

Eamonn said...

I would say that the propounders of the UFO hypothesis, that they are alien craft, are suffering from a delusional disorder of sorts. You cannot argue with a person who does not use rational argument. Unfortunately, delusional disorders can occur in anyone and they are 'idees fixes' or however the french term it. Hence, it will be impossible to convince them otherwise, bit like religious fanatics.

Ren said...

I never thought I'd quote Rush Limbaugh, but he once said that "you shouldn't argue with an idiot because people won't be able to tell the difference." On the one hand, it's very commendable that you and Bill Nye took on those two. On the other hand, was Larry King the best forum?
Then again, what is the best forum for a discussion on extraterrestrial visitations?

Jim said...

I understand Seth’s frustration. Watching Dr. Jacobs--the one who filmed the missile launch--come unhinged and resort to verbal low blows ("Mr. Comedian" and "baking soda and vinegar") WITHOUT ANY PROVOCATION WHATSOEVER was, if not disturbing, troubling. And then to claim that Bill Nye was the one guilty of ad hominem attacks? Oh, brother. And this was during an internationally televised show. I can only imagine the pointless venom in the private emails Seth received. Such a defensive reaction rarely helps someone’s case, and renders even the most grounded assertion suspect. And let's be honest, short of saying your wardrobe is a portal to a magic land, allegations of alien visitation are about as wild as claims get. Probably, if you plan on telling the world you saw ET do a fly-by, you might want to humbly prepare for some extremely skeptical eyes being turned your way. So maybe there’s some solace to be had here for Seth. They’re not doing themselves any favors by being so rigid, reactionary, and inflammatory.

Oh, and can someone tell Larry it’s pronounced “set-ee” not “set-eye”? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Optimism is cool, but really, does one ever have a rational debate about anything -- let alone aliens -- on Larry King?

The problem with some ufologists is not that they're ufologists. It's not the subject matter. It's that they're conspiracy theorists, and non-compliant scientists are assumed to be part of the conspiracy (either actively or as passive dupes). That's a fight that, by definition, you can't win... because nothing short of agreement will convince them that you are not part of the conspiracy. And of course the attacks are viciously personal -- it's because some of them genuinely perceive that you, personally, are part of the problem.
And that's another fight you can't win... because in their us/them thinking, you can't demonstrate that *you're* not the problem without them conceding that *they* are the problem. So, if you parry successfully, they escalate.

All you can do is redirect the discussion relentlessly to specific cases and specific points of fact and interpretation, and that's hard to do in a soundbite. And of course they'll always come back with additional specific cases, so again... no real win.

What do people think -- what do members of the public learn about scientific investigation by watching debates like this?

James said...

The page "Uncivilized Behavior" URL (
appears to be missing.

If it hasn't been abducted by aliens or hijacked by the Military-Industrial Complex and stored at Groome Lake AFB, can we have it back, please?



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