Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Response To An Uninformed Debunker

After an article appeared in the Montreal Gazette a week or so ago regarding a UFO seen by several witnesses over a shopping mall there, a follow-up article appeared, penned by a freelancer who was identified as an "astronomer and science writer." Apparently, the concept of UFOs was so appalling to him, he chose to attack everything in the original article, including comments by me which suggested an explanation for the UFO seen. In fact, he accused me of "intellectual dishonesty" for noting that about one per cent of all UFO cases may be unexplained.

Such attacks usually don't deserve a reply. I've dealt with them many times before.
In this case, though, since I'm accused of intellectual dishonesty, which is something about which I am very concerned, I sent a letter to the editor, which of course was not printed (likely because it was too long). Here it is:

In response to Andre Bordeleau regarding UFOs...

The rather personal attack on me by Andre Bordeleau ("In UFOs, the U is key," October 7, 2010) should probably best be ignored, but in this case I feel it deserves some comment.

Bordeleau informs readers that UFOs are not necessarily flying saucers from Mars piloted by little green men. This is a good example of stating the obvious. Considering most serious researchers on the subject know this already and try to educate the public on this fact, this is nothing new. In my several books on UFOs, I make this distinction often.

Bordeleau also calls me a "UFO buff." It's a bit condescending, as I like him am an astronomer and science writer. I remain objective and do not dismiss UFO reports out of hand but am willing to talk about them in a rational manner with witnesses, rather than engage in ridicule.

Bordeleau also writes that I "might believe an advanced civilization has found the means for interstellar travel," but I state no such belief. I share the view of most astronomers that extraterrestrial civilizations could exist but that the distances between stars are too great to overcome with our present understanding of physics and technology. To suggest that we will not be able to overcome the obstacle of distance given continued advancing technology is illogical, given that similar doubts about human engineering such as sending people to the Moon was also thought by some narrow-gazing scientists to be impossible.

Bondereau also relegates the study of UFO reports to an area known as "pseudoscience," a term generally used by debunkers to designate something which they disdain. The collection of data and research into UFO reports by witnesses (which include pilots, meteorologists and, of course, astronomers) is scientific in nature and should not be ignored.

My observation that there were more than 1000 reports of UFOs in Canada in 2008 includes sightings later explained as aircraft and balloons is a statement of fact. Without actually looking at the data, it is impossible to make statements or conclusions about what is being reported. That's how science works.

The one percent that are high-quality unknowns are the cases that were sifted out of the hundreds of UFOs reported sincerely by witnesses who were baffled by what they were seeing, and which remained unknown after ruling out various explanations.

Bordeleau's accusation that I am intellectually dishonest (brazen or otherwise) is bizarre, given that I honestly present the data behind my statement. His bias against the possibility that some cases are unexplained might be held in the same regard. I wonder how many of those 1000 cases he himself has studied in order to arrive at any conclusion, since making statements without investigation is not a scientific approach.

Even that small average yearly percentage, amounting to a few hundred cases during the course of our 20-year study of Canadian UFO cases, does not mean that Bordeleau's little green men (which he apparently entertains, not I) are hovering over St. Joseph's Oratory. It simply means that witnesses, among them good observers, are reporting unusual objects for which there are are sometimes no simple explanations.

Bordeleau concludes: "Perhaps the media should pay less attention to outfits like Ufology Research of Manitoba and more on properly investigating the stories they publish."

If media did pay no attention to Ufology Research of Manitoba or other institutions seriously investigating UFO reports, they would not get reliable and factual information regarding the subject and instead receive only uninformed opinion to publish.

Dismissing the subject of UFOs out of hand is not an objective standpoint.

See, you are sensible and moderate in your claims and style. That's why they didn't print your letter; your points are self-evident and in a way redundant. In a world of diminishing column space, the paper's decision is understandable, though they should have put your letter on their website (UFOs are great for generating page views!).
Anyway, I bet that guy got a bunch of angry emails and tweets, so I'm sure the message was delivered.
LOL I agree with Terry.

Maybe they didn't post it on-line for fear the angry replies will spend all the available space left in the Internet ;)
You're right, Terry, what I wrote was rational and sensible. No wonder they didn't print it!
You know you're doing something right when you get reactions like that. I know it gets under your skin, but just hang in there and keep on with your work Chris. Everyone has an opinion and will voice it. Whether we like it or not. Makes for interestings reads and gets people's mojos going ;)
Keep up the great work!

You presented reason to an unreasonable bunch, and they screeched to a halt. Its actually funny. Some of these self congratulatorians feel they need to protect us with their super intellect! Oh brother.

I trust you over them any day, and thank you for your work.

i think it might be giant mining companies looking for minerals at night and they use that as an excuse or it`s E.T`s looking for minerals and resources.......
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