mardi 24 janvier 2017

Airplane pilots vs Amateur astronomers

I am posting this thread in an attempt to perform CPR on a forum that is dying a slow, undignified death. This sub forum is a mere shadow of what it used to be so I will try to liven things up a bit by posting one of my favorite topics to argue about with Phundie™ neo-skeptics and this place is swimming with ‘em.

So here we go: Amateur astronomers vs. Airplane pilots as to whom is the best judge of a UFO sighting.
(takes a while to load)

As you can see from the link, the major areas of the world have blanket coverage 24/7 at different altitudes. I tried to find a similar real time map for amateur astronomers, but to no avail. If anyone can find one, by all means, please link it.

The argument I always hear goes something like this: *“Pilots make for unreliable witnesses; they are prone to making mistakes.”
Below a verbatim transcript of Phil Plait giving his FUBAR Logic™ take on the situation of who he thinks make for the best witness’s for UFO sightings.

“Who’s looking at the sky all the time? Some random guy on the street looks up and sees something he doesn’t understand, that’s not surprising, right, because he doesn’t spend a lot of time looking up.

Amateur astronomers spend more time looking up than anybody. They’re all the time looking up at this stuff, and yet they never report UFOs. Why? Because they know what they’re looking at. They know when they’re seeing Venus, the Moon, swap gas, the Araura, satellites, the reflections off things. And so the fact of the matter is, if UFOs were real, if these were really aliens visiting us, overwhelmingly the most number of reports would be from amateur astronomers, and yet they never seem to report ‘em. And I think that indicates that, you know - - it doesn’t indicate there are no aliens visiting us, but it certainly indicates that the overwhelming number of cases reported are just simple things being misunderstood.”

Yes, they sometimes pilots mistake Venus, satellites, moonshine and pixie dust for UFOs, but what is not stated is how many times pilots aren’t fooled by Venus, etc. in the normal course of flying. That is the most telling statistic. In other words, they don’t mistake Venus, or anything else, for a UFO way, way, more times than they do. This is self-evident otherwise you’d be hearing reports right and left about pilots having mishaps in the sky, being drug tested, suspended, etc. You could get into their ground control radio communications and hear the mistakes occurring all over the place.

An example of this is my father, a WWII bomber pilot and later a commercial pilot for 32 yrs. I once asked him about Foo Fighters and Venus, in particular. He said that that commercial/military pilots getting fooled by Venus was rare and that you are taught very early on what to look for and recognize it for what it was.

Why amateur astronomers don’t make mistakes and pilots do is fallacious thinking. It doesn’t matter if you’re a butcher, baker or a candlestick maker, everybody starts from square one and initially goes through a steep learning curve. I will use myself as a blackjack dealer as a case in point.

When I started out I was tentative and hesitant and went slowly and methodically so as not to make mistakes. I had to call the floor person over plenty of times for errors I was making. As time progressed, I got better and better and made less and less mistakes. At the end of my dealing career I was crisp and clean, very efficient and rarely made errors. The floor person didn’t need to hover over me like they did in the beginning because I was very good. All human endeavors are like this. Amateur pilots and amateur astronomers are no exception; they’re way better later on in their career than they are in the beginning.

Arguments for pilots as the best witnesses:
(takes a while to load)

1. As you can see from the first link, pilots are in the air 24/7
2. They are at all different heights depending on type of plane and whatever the purpose of the flight.
3. Highly skilled and experienced pilots, commercial and military, are trained in aircraft silhouette identification.
4. They are trained observers as lives are at stake, especially the security of the nation, in the case of military.
5. Pilots have a much broader field of vision just staring straight ahead, let alone banking right or left, ascending, descending and even turning back around. So in a matter of a few seconds a pilot can in effect have 360 omnivision.
6. There is a much greater blanket coverage of the airspaces compared to AA
7. They can follow or pursue UFOs over greater distances that AAs
8. There have been numerous reports of pilots that have paced by UFOs and have a clear, prolonged visual contact.
9. Commercial and especially military pilots have support systems and personnel on the ground backing them up; radar personnel tracking the plane and the UFO and radio communications with the ground support.
10. Pilots are at or near the heights of reported UFOs.
11. Pilots have a much better depth perception.

Arguments against amateur astronomers being the best witness of UFOs:
1. In the context of Phil Plait’s spiel on the linked youtube vid, he says, “Looking at the ‘skies’”, ‘Skies’ means outer ****in’ space; planets, stars, galaxies, etc.
2. Their focal point is hundreds of thousands to millions and millions of miles out from the earth and its airspace, not close in. If they are looking at a crater on the moon, the focal point is ‘out there’ not ‘close in’.
3. AAs have no particular training in aircraft silhouette identification unless they take it upon themselves to individually do so.
4. AAs ‘scopes aren’t on a swivel base where they can swing around swiftly an accurately track any particular object closer in that is moving swiftly across the horizon.
5. They have no way of knowing how high something is in the sky.
6. They can only ‘look at the skies approx. eight hours out of 24.
7. Taking into account time zone differences, there is not 24/7 coverage of the skies as there are with pilots.
8. Unless they have cameras built into the ‘scope, any reported sightings are anecdotal, unlike military which have radar tracking and radio contact.

Comparing amateur astronomers with highly skilled and experienced military pilots as expert witnesses is like comparing apples to asteroids.

BONUS QUESTION: I’m curious if anyone can tell me where this *memology™ comes from? What is the source or origin of it? I think I know, but I will wait and see what you guys come up with.
(*meme + mythology = memology™)

via International Skeptics Forum

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