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Milton Brener's picture

“Mainstream science rejects eyewitness testimony…. It is the lowest form of evidence.”

So said one of the scientists appearing in behalf of the skeptics In a documentary aired on ABC-TV, on February 2005. It was  entitled “Seeing is Believing: The Truth about UFOs.” So apparently not everyone believes that seeing is believing, especially not mainstream scientists. This quote is not the only instance of the skeptics’ creed on this issue as it pertains to the extraterrestrial. It is scattered throughout their literature like salt and pepper. Too seldom have they been challenged.

Though it may come as a shock to mainstream scientists, not everything is, or needs to be proved by the particular strictures of mainstream, or any other kind of science. Whether a person is believable or not is a judgment all of us make throughout our lives, thank you, without any help from a peer review.  We are not talking now about some exotic new scientific theory, or making judgments as to how the craft are propelled. We are talking about what people see with their eyes. Two points need to be made for the benefit of these or any other skeptics who love to say “But there is no proof.”

One point is that there is plenty of scientific proof, enough that should satisfy the most demanding of them, if they would but look at it, which they do not deign to do. But first it might be preferable to explain a few things about eyewitness testimony. Some scientist may consider it to be the lowest form of evidence, but other well established institutions of our culture do not. Among them are the law courts. I know very little about science, but I do know a few things about law, having actively practiced as a trial lawyer for almost 35 years, in civil, criminal and military courts.

Our legal system, whatever its faults, has a well established process for discovering truth, based on thousands of years experience. Evaluating eyewitness testimony requires no scientific skill.  It takes skill of another sort.We make judgments every day about the reliability of people around us, or perfect strangers. We size up the apparent intelligence of the witness, his (understood to include ‘her’) ability to give details, his interest, or lack of interest in the issue involved, or other motivation to falsify or exaggerate, his opportunity to observe, his demeanor, and many other factors.

On the testimony, often uncorroborated, of an apparently observant witness, with no motive to falsify, and with no interest in the outcome, huge sums of money have often changed hands; and men have been sentenced to long terms in the penitentiary, sometimes to death. Of course there are sometimes mistakes, tragic mistakes, just as there have been in the application of scientific methods. But on the whole, it works well.

Sometimes, one witness is not enough. One witness testifying to the color of a traffic light at the time of collision, even such a witness as just described, may not carry the day. A second such witness observing from a different perspective,  testifying to the same thing, will not double the chances that the observation is correct; it will more likely increase the odds fourfold or more. A third witness, unless they are all contradicted by others, will increase the odds overwhelmingly. It will, as a matter of common sense be considered that they cannot all be wrong.

So, what does that have to do with UFOs? Quite a bit. The modern preoccupation with the subject began on June 24th 1947 with an observation by Kenneth Arnold, owner of a fire control company and private pilot with over 9000 hours logged in small aircraft. Flying across his plane’s path in Washington State were nine silver disks. They were as big as four engine aircraft, with no tails and reflected sun like a mirror. He clocked their speed at over 1700 miles an hour, something like two and a half times the then existing world speed limit for aircraft. So there was one eyewitness.

Five other named persons reported much the same thing during the same time frame and from various places in the neighborhood. Perhaps to many people however, it will mean more that a Captain E.J. Smith and other crew members of a United airliner en route to Seattle, saw 5 to 9 disks pace their plane for 10 to 15 minutes before ‘disappearing.’ The Captain met with Arnold and compared notes. Their conclusion: They had seen the same formation. Two eyewitnesses. Did  they both have hallucinations, the same one? Pulling a joint hoax are they?

On march 6th, 1950,   Captain W.H. Kerr and two other TWA pilots reported a UFO hovering at high altitude. It was also seen by several ATIC control tower operators. We pretermit that it was also picked up on radar; that is science and we are talking eyewitnesses here. Four fighters were sent after it. Two pilots made contact and it was described as “huge and metallic.” Five witnesses minimum, plus some number of tower controllers.

Part II of this series continues here: http://ufodigest.com/article/there-no-proof-2



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