For the sake of the context of what follows, on January 31, I sent an email (copied below*) to every group on this list for which there was an associated email address.
To date, I received responses from two of the representatives. The following interaction is between David Sharpe, the one representative who expressed the willingness to discuss the Billy Meier case with me. To date, I don’t know which college David is associated with.
I don’t know if he’s a student of Prof. Peter Boghossian or not. But certainly if this is the kind of thinking that Prof. Boghossian is trying actively to convert religious believers, or anyone else, to for that matter, it’s merely substituting one ridiculous religion for another.
Thanks for your responses. First, what stood out for me in my first pass through, were the huge number of assumptions that you make without any substantiations whatsoever for them and the complete lack of specificty in responding to the very specific points that I made. This seems to be because you had already made up your mind before hand that this “just couldn’t be true”, i.e. you approached the matter as a skeptic…and not as a scientist.
I’ll insert my specific responses to your comments below.
DS: You have a large and extensive website, so forgive me for not being able to take the time to parse over its entirety. I think the most relevant question is simply this: have you provided enough evidence to convince a rationally skeptical man? Have you met the criteria I laid out in the previous email? Have you established that extraterrestrial visits are more likely than any alternative explanation?
MH: Actually, I have a large and extensive website AND a large and extensive blog. Since the first thing you admit is that you didn’t “take the time” to read them in their entirety, you again confirm the inescapable fact that you dealt with the entire matter prejudicially. Ironically, most skeptics would gleefully point out that most “extraordinary claims” suffer from little evidence and even less credible evidence.
Obviously, logically, you destroy the credibility of your own questions, i.e. assumptions before you start.
DS: As for the alleged eyewitnesses: I’m afraid that the eyewitnesses you cite are no more convincing than the alleged eyewitness accounts written down in the Bible.
MH: I’m going to be polite in my responses. Please tell us…why? How do you compare referring to a mythological book, from thousands of years ago, with real, living people within this and the last century?
DS: It’s entirely possible that your eyewitnesses accounts were fabricated whole cloth, either by the alleged eyewitnesses themselves or by you just making up names and dates and accounts.
MH: It’s entirely possible that you’re not who you say you are. In fact, I was unable to find you in an internet search. Does it mean that you don’t exist, are someone other than who you claim to be, etc.? And – of course – since the names (and in many cases photographs) of those witnesses are listed, and many of them have contributions that are available online and in publications, why would any sensible, intellignet objective person make such an absurd statement?
DS: I admit that this isn’t guaranteed to be the case by any means, but it doesn’t need to be. All it needs to be is a more probable explanation than alien visits, and I think it is.
MH: I left the above two sentences to stand on their own since they are so embarrassingly devoid of logic, credibilty and substantiation as to be self-evident.
DS: I explained why I think, a priori, that alien visitation is extremely unlikely in my previous email. I know you’ve offered some counterarguments to my points, but I don’t see any which sufficiently refute my basic a priori estimate of alien visitation probability.
MH: Since I’ve made counter arguments supported with extensive, specific information, you’re not “seeing any” doesn’t tell us anything of course. Why didn’t you choose to refer to and refute any of the specific examples?
DS: You can’t simply get around current knowledge of physics by wishfully hoping that it will be different in the future – we have pretty damn good reason to think that light speed is the limit, and hence, alien visits are really unlikely by virtue of physics alone.
MH: How do you know that? Are you a physicist? And should we accept your own wishful thinking in place of evidence? Did you not read the comments of Prof. David Froning, who indeed is a physicist? If you disagree with him, why didn’t you explain how and why, instead of just saying that “we have pretty damn good reason to think that light speed is the limit”?
DS: The radar reports you cite are also not terribly convincing. A million different things can cause radar blips to appear, including but not limited to glitches in the hardware or software of the radar installation, weather, birds, experimental aircraft, airborne debris, et cetera. Or the story could be entirely made up. Again, while no one of these explanations is *extremely* likely, all are more likely than alien visitation.
MH: So, without any substantiation, such as even pertaining to your own background in radar technology, or citing instances when 238 (military) radar sightings were previously shown to be just bogus blips, you’d like to dismiss the report. And then you offer your childish speculation that it’s all “made up”?
Do you not see that your claims and arguments are, in comparison to all of the evidence provided to you, completely wild, unsubstantiated, devoid of logic, reason and…credibility? In fact, it’s your responses that are “made up” and transparently devoid of mature, logical thinking, obviously because the voluminous evidence is so intolerable to you.
DS: In regards to aliens showing themselves: Aliens need not show themselves to individuals, whether it be to Mr. Meier or to political leaders. All an alien has to do is show up in the middle of Times Square, and he’d be photographed by thousands and thousands of people. Pretty soon, the media would be on the scene, and they could broadcast interviews with the aliens on worldwide television. I see no reason why this would cause the panic and mass suicides that you propose – sure, some people would be pretty shaken up, but I see nothing to suggest that most people are so fundamentally disturbed that the existence of alien life would cause them to kill themselves! You can’t postulate such a ridiculous claim without ample evidence, and I don’t see any evidence you could possibly drum up for that claim. I know I certainly wouldn’t be bothered at all to discover that aliens were being interviewed on TV.
MH: Let’s grant you that to acknowledge the existence of what you call “aliens”, a term I never once used in my communications with you since I don’t like the comic book connotations associated it and I prefer to use “extraterrestrial”, perhaps may not be so terrifying for the majority of people on Earth. Why then is it so threatening to you, a college educated person, to actually examine and address the voluminous, specific evidence offered to you? How would you even begin to cope with the unavoidable reality of something that you already dismiss as impossible, using the most desperate and inept arguments?
DS: The ridicule you mention only arises when people make claims without sufficient evidence. If your accounts of aliens are indistinguishable from accounts that might be made up by insane people, attention seekers, or manipulators of the gullible, you will be ridiculed and justly so. But if your accounts have the obvious sorts of evidence that reasonable people might expect (like, say, interviewing aliens on national TV), you won’t be ridiculed at all. Far from it.
MH: I know that the skeptics probably have special terminology that they use to describe when someone postulates something replete with ad hominem attacks, character assassination, and broad based disparagement to justify being dismissive of evidence that they haven’t examined, disagree with a priori, etc. And they must also have a nifty little term for the generalized assumptions about the kind of evidence “reasonable people might expect”. Perhaps after reading our exchange – and hopefully examing the evidence you wouldn’t – some of the more scientific, intellectually honest ones among them will help you out…should any such exist.
DS: As for the photos you present: I’m sorry, but to me, they look like incredibly obvious fakes using models. I do not pretend to be a forensic photography analyst, nor do I pretend to have any claim to knowledge other than my layman’s familiarity with faked photographs.
MH: Well you should be sorry for even bothering to tell us what they “look like” to you, while at the same time assessing the photographs as fake, AND admitting you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is as good a point as any among the many opportunities you provide, to point out that this is precisely why those who call themselves skeptics are often indistinguishable from the religious zealots and believers that they so admantly criticize.
DS: But it would be downright impossible to convince me that these aren’t at the very least reproducible with fakery. Same goes for the incredibly grainy videos.
MH: The relgiosity of your mindset should be clear enough for anyone to see. You tell us that no evidence could convince you to the contrary. So let it be pointed out that in my original comprehensive email below I linked to irrefutable, expert professional analyses conducted with state-of-the-art technology that is easily testable. I wonder why you even took the time to “respond” and openly confess an intransigent, self-indicting belief-based attitude.
DS: I know you cite several skeptics who allegedly couldn’t reproduce the images or the videos, which leads me to think of a couple scenarios:
1. You’re only posting the interactions with skeptics on your website which are favorable to your cause.
MH: You had the opportunity to present arguments favorable to the skeptics. Why didn’t you?
2. You’re selectively editing or manipulating your exchanges with skeptics to seem favorable to your cause.
MH: Please be specific. Refute my arguments, show where the editing and manipuations occurred and how the skeptics would have otherwise prevailed.
3. The skeptics didn’t replicate the imagery because they couldn’t be bothered and didn’t have the money or time to invest in it.
MH: We all know that to be simply untrue. Some skeptics went to very great lengths to try to do so. And of course all they had to do was to duplicate that which had been presented by a man living in a rural environment, before the computer age, who had no money, accomplices etc., which they were unable to duplicate with all of the resources avalable to them today. All of this is easy to determine if one actually searched online.
4. The skeptics did replicate the imagery, but they didn’t do it to a standard acceptable to you (maybe because they didn’t have as much time or interest as you and Meier do)
MH: The skeptics duplicated an effect but as the professional analyses clearly show – they couldn’t come within light years of the details that were revealed under close examination and that authentic Mr. Meier’s evidence. Of course none of the modelmakers, or their skeptical supporters, have offered even the most basic photo analyses of their efforts, let alone all of the in-depth technology based analyses, to support their own claims.
5. The skeptics did replicate the imagery, but you aren’t posting it, or you are holding them to unreasonably high standards. A person on the street may, when asked out of the blue, find the skeptics’ images to be as convincing as Meier’s originals.
MH: You do know, don’t you, that any of your fellow skpetics who have survived reading your comments so far are now so deep in cringe mode that I needn’t throw another straw on the camel’s back?
DS: I will keep repeating this: I don’t have evidence suggesting any of these are the case, except for my own subjective suspicions. But all of them are more likely than your claims being true, simply because people lie and fake things ALL THE TIME, whereas alien visitation is pretty darn unlikely.
MH: I think by now everyone knows you don’t have any evidence to support or substantiate any of your theories, accusations, suppositions, wild guess, etc. We get it. In all fairness, however, you did say that you would take this on and also post our exchange broadly on various blogs and forums, which I do hope you will do…since I am doing so myself.
DS: The forensic papers you keep citing are terribly unconvincing.
MH: Oh, and just why is that? Could you be specific?
DS: I want to see peer-reviewed papers in well-respected journals with reproducible results.
MH: I think I addressed this in my blog…before you had responded. How, oh how, did I know that this was coming?
DS: You may have a former IBM chemist write a paper in favor of your theories, but so what?
MH: While you’re grossly misrepresenting exactly what we do have from Marcel Vogel, isn’t it painfully obvious that you’re essentially destroying your own peer review argument?
DS: Some of the top people at the Human Genome Project believe there’s a magic bearded man in the sky who watches us when we have sex. Plenty of otherwise-intelligent people believe in crazy, unevidenced nonsense and are willing to lie to themselves and others to keep it going. That’s why we have peer review as a check – the hope is that, when exposed for all the world to see, the peer reviewing process can help us limit our crazy as a group.
MH: See above regarding unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks, innuendoes, etc.
DS: The scientific predictions you make are more interesting, but they too have their problems. I obviously didn’t have time to extensively check them all, but a few popped out at me.
1. For starters, many of them are not impossible to have known at the alleged copyright date. For example, scientists in the 1950s and 1960s were already predicting the consequences of global warming (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science#Increasing_concern.2C_1950s_-_1960s ).
MH: “Not impossible to have known” doesn’t exactly cut it. And of course you don’t even attempt to answer how and why a 14 year old boy is publishing specific information about manmade climate change, which I actually didn’t see mentioned in the article you referenced.
2. Some of them are just plain wrong. For example, Meier predicted that the magnitude of the AIDS epidemic wouldn’t be known until the years 2003 and 2004, which is just not true. World AIDS Day was first held in 1988, and the UN started the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in 1996. In 1995, the CDC publicly announced that AIDS was the leading cause of death among Americans 25 to 44. It goes on and on – the 90s were a huge time for AIDS awareness.
MH: The true magnitude of the illness isn’t measured by holding an event. Certainly you’re aware of the huge increase in deaths from AIDS since 1988. You apparently also ignored the fact that Meier foretold AIDS – by name – in 1958.
DS: Additionally, there is a claim that mobile phone radiation can trigger reactions, which just isn’t true. Every single solitary double-blind peer-reviewed study to date has found that all claims of sensitivity to non-ionizing radiation are bullshit.
MH: Maybe, it’s still inconclusive. Time will tell.
3. These claimed predictions strike me as being a lot like the predictions people pull out of the Bible. If you have enough source material to work with, there will be some predictions which end up true, some which end up false, and many which you can selectively quote to seem true.
MH: It seems that you’re quite familiar with things in the bible but you can’t give any specific examples of how Mr. Meier’s specific, prophetically accurate scientific information is “a lot like” it. Your non-specific, generalized, unsubstantiated claims simply reflect your…beliefs. You may soon have to confront the fact that you’re making an awfully good case that being a skeptic is indeed another form of religion.
4. Many of these could be made up whole cloth or highly manipulated.
MH: But of course you can’t show that even one of them is. Why not?
5. You’re apparently relying on me not knowing how copyright works! The moment that you write something down, it’s copyrighted by default. There’s no record or proof of that unless you chose to go the extra step of filing it with the US copyright office – it’d be more convincing if you showed those filings than the stuff on this page is. If such filings were ever done. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible that you just picked a nice date and put it on paper.
MH: Well, you didn’t disappoint me. The record or proof certainly exists in the form of the document and/or book, etc. Yes, filing it with the copyright office is additional proof. But you obviously are unaware that all sorts of records – from book publishers, merchants, verification of the date it irst appeared online, etc. – can and are used to easily authenticate such claims. Again, you’re “it’s entirely possible” isn’t only amateurish and unsubstantiated, it’s an attack on my character and credibility for which you offer not one shred of evidence.
6. And finally, EVEN IF you could prove that none of these quotes are made up, that you haven’t selectively edited the quotes, that you haven’t chosen to just list the ones which you can make seem true, and that there was no preexisting evidence – it doesn’t prove your claim! A man being a really good predictor doesn’t prove any other claims he makes, just like being born of a virgin doesn’t prove you’re God or anything else about you.
MH: I think it’s unnecessary to try to improve upon the perfection of the ineptitude demonstrated here. Such is the stuff of which skeptical attacks on the Meier case are composed. And, at least as frightening, such is the level of “thinking” in colleges and universities among skeptics.
DS: By the way, just a side note – polygraphs and other “lie detectors” are pseudoscientific nonsense, they’ve been proven over and over to not work.
MH: You’re factually incorrect. Do a little research on the current situation regarding the admissiblity of polygraph tests. More importantly, the reader of this interaction between us will have no trouble in seeing how deliberate your attempts have been to discount any and every category and example of evidence, adhering to what can now be seen as the skeptical premise that to have an abundance and variety of testable, credible, authenticated evidence is the same as…no evidence at all. When the skeptics have already made up their minds in advance, the facts be damned.
DS: To be frank, the situations you and I are in are very different.
MH: now that’s an understatement and one that I won’t disagree with.
DS: You quite obviously spend your life doing this, and as a result you have the ability to go on and on about it and link me to a million different pages on your website I simply don’t have time to parse through. I’m a skeptic with a fairly normal life, and can only participate in this sort of thing to the extent that it piques my interest. So rather than going further into the minutae of your emails, let me simplify the argument greatly.
MH: Well, if by “doing this” you mean…thinking for myself, you are correct. And I have a rather rich and accomplished life as well as this interest. But we understand that instead of the detailed response you promised you chose to ignore all of the annoying, evidence containing “million different pages” and minutiea”. Instead, you’ve boiled it all down to your following expectations:
DS: If aliens had actually made it to earth and established contact with humanity, I would expect several things. For starters, I would expect the aliens to understand our natural skepticism, and thus I would expect them to take the steps to overcome it by making themselves known through obvious methods to anyone who cared to see them. They’d land in Times Square and go on TV and show up on talk shows, et cetera. They’d be photographed and video-recorded by hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. They’d be willing to shake hands/appendages with even the most ardent skeptics. They’d be willing to have their dead dissected by our top biological researchers. They’d show off their cool technology and establish a sharing of cultural and technological information. I can go on and on.
MH: And here we have more of your unsubstantiated, prejudicial, cynical expectations:
DS: By contrast, I would expect to see a much different situation if someone were just making up stories of alien contact. For starters, I would expect to see fake photographs and videos. They’d likely be just from a handful of sources, because faking something extensively takes a lot more resources than having something real recorded by lots of real people. You’d have a few central figures who made this thing up for money or for power or for their own personal amusement. They’d make themselves seem important by making predictions, and yet they’d claim humility and swear off all but the purest motivations. They’d branch out into making more extensive claims, maybe even throw some spiritualism into it, just so that they can seem to have more answers and get their followers more involved. They’d imagine that there is some kind of conspiracy against them perpetrated by those nasty evil skeptics. I would expect the aliens and alien craft to look very similar to the arbitrarily-chosen archetypes invented by science fiction writers in the first half of the 20th century (flying saucers, for instance) rather than looking like anything which is actually aerodynamic or built for spaceflight, particularly atmospheric entry and reentry.
When I glance through your web site, I see something which I estimate to be far closer to the latter than to the former. And to convince me otherwise, I need extensive proof which is obvious, incontrovertible, peer-reviewed. I want to talk to the aliens, and until I do, sorry, but I just can’t believe it. Lies, fakery, mistaken natural phenomena, mass hallucinations, you name it – they’re all more likely than aliens.
MH: And of course, in case there was any doubt, you…glanced at my website. In the place of using reason, critical thinking, scientific protocols for the examination of the evidence and claims, we’ve been treated to your “estimate”. I’ll now wonder just who you have in mind for the peer review of the “aliens”.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m in this for the extent of my personal amusement and no more, so I apologize if I’m not quite interested in going as far into minutiae as you are. I don’t do this for a living. With that in mind, I’d like to hear one thing from you. If you had to choose the top three reasons you believe that alien visitors have come to earth, what would they be? I don’t mean the top three lists or categories of arguments, I don’t mean the top three sections on your website. I mean the top three singular data points or arguments whose essence should be compressible into no more than a few sentences each.
MH: As for the top three points that you request, I’ll go with these right now, from among many:
1. To emphasize that we must take 100%, complete self-responsiblity for our own lives. That no one, no outside real or imaginary forces, gods, gurus, saints, saviors, extraterrestrials, leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, mullahs, etc., are responsible for us.
2. To encourage us to learn how to truly…think. How to think logically, to develop what is called neutral-positive thinking, which means to first see things exactly as they really are before proceeding with any further thoughts, feelings and actions.
3. To break the bonds of millennia of mind-enslaving, fear-inducing religions and sects, with their false beliefs, dogmas, rituals, superstitions, etc., which also includes more the recent, rigid, prejudicial sects such as atheism and skepticism, which promote their own very limited world views and understanding, which have served to suppress and retard the search for, and the awareness of, the truth just as the more tradtional religions have.
DS: Oh, and as a last note: it’s clear you are making money from this. You have sponsored products you link to on your web site, like the water filtration product.
MH: Obviously, David is a very young person, if not chronologically then in his lack of critical, logical thinking abilities. He is most likely unfamiliar as well with my standard responses to being criticized for being self-responsible, self-supporting, etc. Of course he’s probably unaware that I do all my representation of the Meier case voluntarily, – including interacting with many other people incapable of stringing even a few evidence-substantiated, logical thoughts together – even though there would be nothng wrong if it was a paid career. Gosh knows that whatever job he is doing or going to do based on his education, any degrees, etc., his current level of thinking indicates that he will be dangerously overpaid.
However, he also is unaware that I, and others, self-produce almost all of the products that I make available to people who, without coercion, want to purchase futher information.
Of course David did make a point of how little of the freely available material he actually availed himself of in doing his “research”.
While one could conclude that this was just an exercise in futility, taking advantage of a weak minded opponent, etc., it’s far more troubling than that in my opinion. Consider that my original email went out to dozens and dozens of college/university level students (and perhaps faculty members) who define themselves as skeptics and atheists. Only one of them responded to the essence of the information that I presented to them.
So it appears to me that many colleges and universities, which should be truly teaching people how to think critically, are churning out some significant numbers of people who, in many cases, may have just substituted one secular religion for a the more traditional ones.
I will only add that Ihad submitted my new film, And Did They Listen?, to a professor at what shall for now remain an unnamed university. Today I received her reply:
I took some time over the weekend to watch parts of the film. I appreciate the passion and determination you have put into this project. However, I regret to say that it is not something that will be shown nor endorsed by XXX. If you would like me to return the DVD, I will be happy to do so if you provide an address. If you prefer, I would be happy to donate it to the local public library in hopes that more people may come across it and watch it.
Best of luck to you,
Here was my response:
Thanks for getting back to me. Certainly you can give it to the library. But I would also very much like to know your specific objections to the film.
Since it will be on US TV, and distributed internationally, I am interested to know just what would specifically make it inappropriate for the ASU students…many of whom will both see it eventually on TV and learn that it was deemed inappropriate for them to see at the school.
I am not holding my breath but should she reply, you can be sure that I’ll post it.
Yes, the term “dumbed down” may be overused but what else can, or needs, to be said about the wretched state of thinking, intellectual honesty and curiosity among students, professors, etc., when they are presented with the opportunity to critically evaluate that which confronts their conscious and unconcscious belief systems.
*My original email to all of the college and university atheist/skeptics groups. Subject line: An invitation to upgrade your thinking:
…and of course: