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UFOs Or Self Delusion?
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There are several ongoing projects and research effort of scientific proportions that pretend to explain some mysteries of our world and universe, but people prefer to believe in things that are easy to understand and offer them more mystique; so people follow UFO pundits instead of SETI radio astronomers and prefer to think that the chupacabras is an alien rather than a relative of house dogs.
Investigation attracts people but it does so more when there is a mystery around and even more if the issue in question is non-scientific; and this is contradictory because as part of our social evolution of thousands of years we are educated to at least attempt to think rationally. This has been exploited with various degrees of success by promoters of the so-called occult sciences, also with varying sincerity and honesty thorough centuries and millennia, and most people still prefer to believe in magic rather than rationality.
Belief is more attractive than logic and the scientific method; in this way myths and even anti-scientific ideas are preserved, thanks to this allure and the odd situation provided by scientific thought as well when trying to preserve ancient customs not only for traditional but for research purposes as well. Those non-scientific ideas often owe their survival to the curiosity of researchers that pass what they collect to future generations. So myths can survive for hundreds, tens and even tens of thousands of years, and in the newest, biggest venue of research that mankind has ever found - outer space - things seem now unfortunately tangled with belief, myths and all sorts of ideas and conducts that have nothing scientific in essence because people more often want to believe rather to check and demonstrate. It is easier to believe that UFOs exist than to actually demonstrate that.
It isn't bad to believe in something, actually, and there are lots of scientists and technologists that thorough history had to believe first in what they were trying to accomplish. If men wanted to fly they had first to believe that they could, in some way. This belief led first to imitation of birds; The earlier attempts at constructing flying machines, before the fundamentals of aerodynamics were understood, consisted in mechanical imitations of the mechanisms used by flying birds. This led to the ornithopter, and only later to the aeroplane. If we want to travel to the starts we need to believe that such thing is possible before setting ourselves in the quest for the warp drive or some other form of viable propulsion, the single, most-important component that we lack to construct an interstellar spaceship. Thanks to decades of development in sciences and technologies such as aerospace engineering, planetary and stellar navigation techniques, knowledge of orbital mechanics, applied medicine and more, we almost have everything that is required to travel really long distances over space, but if we don't believe that we can, we will never accomplish that. Simply put, nobody does for long what he doesn't want to do, but can do only what he knows that he wants.
Magic and quick solutions attract more people, and even there are those that begin disqualifying science when it doesn't provide what they want and as they want, as if science were magic too, assuming that this discipline opposes "stubbornly" to some self-proclaiming, self-sustaining "truth" only demonstrable thorough the belief that demonstrations need not apply. Hauntings are more appealing than chemistry and miraculous cures are more aphrodisiac than medical science. We have to contemplate in this regard the modest enthusiasm of the scientific community when it comes to study the UFO phenomenon and others similar in the level of popular attraction and belief that they irradiate. Although there are ongoing projects, experiments and protocols such as SETI and the development of exobiology or astrobiology, science and the public seem to go on different roads because dispassionate scientific conclusions in this regard are well beyond the expectations of the common person interested in extraterrestrial life. This leaves space for the apparition of alleged researchers, some sincere in their beliefs while others are not, but almost invariably not qualified to deliver serious, objective conclusions on the matter. These, however, gain acceptance of the public just by means of marketing their published material, easier to read and more thrilling for most than a peer-reviewed paper.
Something similar happens in the case of cryptozoology and the study of mythological animals: Believing with no real or sound basis that the chupacabras is the product of secret military experiments or some sort of interstellar hitch hiker left by an UFO to satisfy his gourmet preferences here is preposterous, scientifically speaking. These alleged explanations, however, are far more attractive that thinking that the chupacabras may be some sort of canine, a savage dog or something like that. Dogs can revert to a wild status and act much like wolves. Dingos and cimarrons are such cases, and wild dogs have flourished at one time or another in places as varied as South and North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, but it doesn't seem an explanation attractive enough to calm down the curiosity of most people.
The situation in our planet is getting more complicated thanks to the unfolding climate change and it will be necessary to listen with more attention to all those scholars and research groups that have been alerting us about the problems to come. Our survival requires mroe than ever a change in our way of thinking. Believing is simply not enough so we need to educate our ears and our minds for listening better to reason.
You will never understand this if you don't understand people around you first.
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