Seth Shostak: Guardian of Common Sense

July 14th, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hysterics! The Roswell Incident Turns 60
By Seth Shostak Senior Astronomer, SETI

Seth Schlockstak is not an Astronomer. Astronomers are scientists who are interested in the facts, whatever they are and wherever they may lead, the ultimate destination sought after being the truth. Shlckostak is not interested in the truth; he is only interested in protecting his position and income as a Senior timewaster at SETI. If he were a serious person, interested in the truth no matter what it is, and a true scientist, he would not write the utter drivel that I take pleasure in demolishing here.

You may not have noticed (but only if you’ve been living in a hermetically sealed shipping container). This month is the sixtieth anniversary of what’s politely termed the Roswell incident.

That incident unfolded like this. In July, 1947, New Mexico sheep rancher William Brazel showed up at the Roswell Army Air Field with some unusual debris in the bed of his pickup weird leavings that he’d found in a pasture near the tiny town of Corona. This initiated a series of events that eventually became a drawn-out pot boiler about a crashed, alien spaceship. The plot line is simple: extraterrestrials came to visit, and accidentally destroyed their craft. The remains were efficiently collected and perfectly hidden by a government paranoid about security. According to the die-hard believers, the feds, even now, aren’t willing to fess up to the fact that aliens were on our front porch.

Note how Shlckostak’s english is full of rib poking, “aliens were on our front porch”, “a drawn-out pot boiler”, “what’s politely termed”. These are not the words of a serious person trying to explain why it is impossible that an alien spacecraft crashed in Roswell New Mexico. In fact Schlockstak gives no reason why such a crash could not have occurred.

Now Roswell isn’t the only story about aliens come to Earth, although it’s certainly garnered more press than most. Admittedly, there’s some indication that its popularity, even among the UFO in-crowd, may be oxidizing somewhat. In a recent query to ten experts made by the Fortean Times web site, Roswell was mentioned only once as a “most interesting UFO case.” And that single mention was offered by Stanton Friedman, who, as the greatest proponent of the Roswell story, certainly has a dog in the fight.

All of this is entirely irrelevant. If it happened it happened, no matter if the facts about it are being retold or not.

Well, I don’t think aliens had anything to do with what took place at Roswell.

Why not?

There’s good and compelling evidence that what was in play in 1947 was a secret government research program to develop technology for detecting Soviet nuclear tests. So I won’t delve here, and yet again, into the sticky thicket of claims and counterclaims regarding what happened. That path has been beaten down to a trench.

There is no such evidence, and if there is, you should provide a link to it so that we can read it Schlockstak. The fact of the matter is that the US Airforce has changed its story about what happened there three times. If this is a lie, then its up to Schlockstak to provide proof that it is a lie.

In addition, adding my voice to the Roswell roar doesn’t seem to help: I am perversely proud to note that, according to a poll recently conducted by one Canadian web site, I am less reliable on this subject than the Easter Bunny. I didn’t lose this vote by a hare either =96 the vote was five to one against me. (I note, however, that Mr. Bunny’s list of published opinion on Roswell is thin.) In addition, having written about this before, I’ve learned that doing so is like riding a bronco in your shorts =96 it’s just a guaranteed way to set yourself up for pain. Frankly, every time I voice some skepticism about claims of alien visitation, I am promptly, and inevitably, rewarded with a flood of abusive e-mail.

More nonsense from Schlockstak. No facts, no links, nothing but childish nonsense about bunnies. If this is the quality of ‘scientist’ working at SETI, then for sure, it is a waste of time on the basis that the people who work there cannot think.

Nonetheless, the incident remains iconic. So let me point out something that, frankly, I find strangely comforting.

Schlockstak likes to be comforted. And having to accept that he has wasted years of his life and professional career on SETI when aliens have been visiting earth right in front of his nose would be very uncomfortable indeed.

Roswell was, supposedly, a situation in which an alien craft came who-knows-how-many light-years to visit Earth before the pilot punched the wrong button and caused a fatal explosion above the New Mexico desert (this is akin to making a cross-country road trip, and totaling your car on the garage door as you pull into the driveway).

Actually, its more like forgetting that when you calculate a re-entry angle, you have to make sure that all the numbers are in either metric or imperial, but not a mixture of both. This is why the recent British probe to Mars the Beagle 2 burned up, at the very end of its journey. The Beagle two made it all the way to Mars and then crashed literally at the last stage. A spacecraft failing at the last part of its journey is not so hard to believe, and Schlockstak knows this.

Did you know that one of the experiments on the Huygens probe did not get done because the scientists on the ground failed to remember to turn it on when it got to Titan and started its decent? A person adopting the jackass posture of Schlockstak could intone, “Do you mean to tell me that we sent a billion dollar probe 1,321,416,800 kilometers to Saturn, and you FORGOT to turn on the experiment? That’s rather hard to believe”. And yet, this is precisely what did happen! Did you know that the same thing happened on a Voyager mission almost thirty years previously? There have been other failures at the last hurdle, Surveryor 2 in 1966 failed a soft lunar landing attempt, after a nearly perfect lunar intercept trajectory because an engine failed to ignite, for example.

This not only demonstrates that even the greatest scientists can make mistakes, but it proves that they can make the same mistake TWICE. There is no reason whatsoever to suppose that aliens, using whatever technology they have to get here, will not be subject to accidents, mistakes and miscalculations just like we are. There is no reason to come to the conclusion that UFOs cannot crash. That should be obvious.

Debris was recovered, as were alien bodies. And yet, strangely, even after 60 years, the consequences of this short-circuited social call by a culture able to bridge interstellar distances are… zilch.

Well, not entirely zilch. The incident has been a boon to its articulate proponents, to television, and to the Roswell economy (indeed, for that small and friendly, but otherwise unremarkable city, the saucer smashup 70 miles outside of town has become a “crash cow”).

That was actually funny. Schlockstak is a natural born comedian, and not only for his absurd SETI ideas! Astonishing!

But really, what significant effect has it had? An historical analogy might serve to give scale.

If there is one thing that Schlockstak doesn’t have a handle on its scale.

As all readers and everyone else know, Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492. But 60 years later, were the inhabitants of the area still unclear about whether Spaniards had happened upon their world? Was that still controversial? A contemporary, Bartolome de Las Casas, wrote in A Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies about what changed on the archipelago of islands that, at the time of Columbus’ arrival, “were densely populated with native peoples… [with Hispaniola] perhaps the most densely populated place in the world.” By 1542, a half-century later, de Las Casas wrote that “We can estimate very surely and truthfully that in the… years that have passed, with the infernal actions of the Christians, there have been unjustly slain more than twelve million men, women, and children. In truth, I believe without trying to deceive myself that the number of the slain is more like fifteen million.”

This analogy fails because the Spanish, last time I checked, are not aliens. Americans like Schlockstak might think that people who speak Spanish are a little less than human, but that is another matter entirely.

The Spanish came to the ‘new world’ as humans coming to another continent on their own planet in order to conquer it, and its human peoples not as scientific researchers visiting another planet to do pure science. Once some of the Spanish came, more and more of them arrived to colonize the land with their money, technology, politics, religion, language and raw power. The aliens that are coming here are here (apparently) only to do research in the same way that Darwin did in the Beagle; they visit planets in the same way that he visited the Galapagos islands; collecting samples and then going away, leaving no trace that they were ever there. To this day many of the Galapagos islands are uninhabited; does that mean that the Beagle never went there and that specimens were never collected? Of course it does not.

It appears that aliens have no interest in colonization (here), no interest in cultural exchange with us and are here only to collect specimens. Schlockstak’s analogy falls flat, and demonstrates his lack of imagination, and also a lack of understanding of the history of science.

The effect of the encounter was not subtle, and sixty years after Columbus, the Indians weren’t arguing on late-night radio about whether they’d been visited. And that’s not just because they didn’t have radio.

Well, in the more-than-half-century since Roswell, we still seem to be here with our lives and economy intact. If there’s been any effect from an alien face-to-face, it’s too subtle for me.

Given that Schlockstak is one of the most hard headed, blinkered, stupid, ostrich posturing morons ever to look into a telescope, it comes as no surprise at all that its too subtle for him. Just because these aliens are not destructive beasts like we are doesn’t mean that they do not exist and have not been here in great numbers over many years.

Once again, if aliens come here and then leave without disturbing anything, we would have no effects like the destruction of the Incas to point to. We of course could say that the population of the earth has had its culture changed since the era of photography and aviation; the tens of thousands of UFO sightings by credible witnesses, some with visual and radar confirmation and the wide dissemination of these reports has changed our culture subtly, as there are now billions of people who are aware that there is such a thing as a UFO, and that some of them are alien spacecraft. Schlockstak is not one of that number of course.

As rebuttal, some people claim that I’m wrong; that there really is a noteworthy aftermath to Roswell. Namely, that the military has reverse-engineered the debris, producing all sorts of strategically important technology breakthroughs. That, at least, would be significant. However, the idea, to begin with, is about as plausible as talking dogs. Could the Roman legions, a pretty successful military in their own right, reverse- engineer your laptop? They were, after all, only two thousand years behind us, and were humans to boot.

And there are others, that are even better than that, and you are aware of but never mention them, because they destroy you and your argument. I notice that whenever you go up against Stanton Friedman who you deride above, you are far more careful in what you say and how you say it, because you know that you will be made to look like the fool that you are. Listen to Schlockstak in these two shows: part one, part two to see him pussyfoot around Stanton Friedman and the facts.

What a pity that takes the word of an ass like you as gospel…but its not surprising, because you are indeed, one of the hight priests of pseudoscience and have the dogma down pat.

But plausible or otherwise, what’s the evidence that we’ve in any way benefited from extrasolar imports? As an exercise, I recently graphed the speed of America’s top military aircraft over the past century, assuming that if we’d really figured out the grays’ engineering secrets, that fact would be reflected in this important category of hardware. Well, it won’t surprise you to hear that our military planes are faster now then they once were, and between 1935 and 1970, the top speed went up by about a factor of ten. But the improvement was gradual, except for a bit of a jump as soon as the Nazis developed jet planes. Of course, that was before Roswell.

This is a brilliant paragraph, explaining why the irrefutable UFO cases (and I note that you do not list or link to the other nine most important UFO cases above; are you, Schlockstak, scared that someone might actually read them?) cannot be the experimental craft of the US Air Force. These best case UFO reports describe, in great detail, delivered by completely reliable witnesses, with photo and radar evidence, aircraft that outperform any known human made craft with propulsion units that are silent. That means that these craft cannot have been made by human beings, and since human beings are the only sentient creatures on this planet that are making aircraft, we can infer that the makers of these flying triangles, rectangles and discs are from other planets.

What is so amusing about Schlockstak and his merry band of psychopaths is that they will say that objects like The Wallonia Triangle (a completely silent equilateral triangle UFO photographed over Wallonia in Belgium, seen on radar, chased by the Belgian Air Force who were outrun by it) is an experimental US Airforce craft! You cannot have it both ways Schlockstak; either man has the ability to make aircrat that completely match the performance of UFOs or he cannot. If he cannot, then the next best fit is a non human intelligence as the manufacturer.

Of course, to say that objects like The Wallonia Triangle and the other very weird objects are military craft means that the USAF is testing super secret technology in the skies of…Belgium. And when I say ‘super secret’ I mean paradigm shifting, world changing technology, like anti-gravity or whatever these things use to stay aloft in absolute silence without any downdraft, intakes, or exhaust.

The fact that human aircraft are so limited in performance compared to UFOs adds weight to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Thanks Schlockstak!

What about some new astronomy or physics?

How about some new astronomy from you Schlockstak? Everyone now knows that societies on other planets are going to be using their own internets for communications within 100 years of inventing radio; that means that every civilization will only shine in the radio range for around one hundred years; you and your SETI cultist are going to have to be VERY LUCKY to catch anything, as the sky is most probably dark since all the societies have either abandoned radio (if they have ever gone through that stage) or are inside that window, in which case we may have to wait centuries for their signals to get here if they are say, two hundred light years away. Radio SETI is nonsense. It is doubly nonsensical in the light of all the UFO evidence that we have to hand.

Have we learned anything there? Is there some striking discontinuity in knowledge following 1947 that you can point to?

You are the head of the discontinuists Schlockstak.

I think Roswell is important, really I do. But more because it points to our gullibility, not to any alien guests who, intent on visiting the Land of Enchantment, proved that they should never have been given a driver’s license.

Indeed. You do not think that Roswell is important because you are a delusional salary addict who will tell any lie he can to keep his SETI job intact. As for aliens who should not be given a drivers license, we can point to the legion of scientists who do not know that imperial and metric measures are different; they are the ones who should not be put in charge of driving a space craft; your erstwhile colleagues.

While we are at it, SETI should be shut down as a total waste of electricity and money. We need more imaginative science and better qualified people to run it than people like you.

OK, let the abuse begin.

Good enough Schlockstak?

4 Responses to “Seth Shostak: Guardian of Common Sense”

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