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Carnes: Patience and proof equally needed

Like the obstinate convictions of Copernicus on his death bed, certain scientific constructs need to play on a continuous loop until the masses accept the empirical data. In this respect, today’s world is no different than 500 years ago.

The critical eyes of science must forever remain diligent in its never-ending quest to explain the currently unknown, and thusly must continue the endless war against rationality and logic. To quote one of the brightest minds of the 20th century, Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

This simplistic, yet thoroughly complex, statement applies equally across the conspiracy board, so it does not matter if the subject is the existence of magical beings, alien creatures or Bigfoot.

Belief in the supernatural (a.k.a.: religion) goes hand in hand with beliefs in alien beings visiting our planet and 8-foot tall hairy humanoids who for some inexplicable reason never seem to defecate anywhere (long story short, no Bigfoot poop has ever been found).

For these particular subjects, along with thousands of others wrapped in thick blankets of ancient superstitions, we simply conclude that we cannot prove something does NOT exist.

One cannot prove a negative.

However, most of us would agree (hopefully) that it is childishly silly to believe in unicorns and dragons, yet must admit it is impossible to “prove” unicorns and dragons do not exist.

The exact same rational logic applies to magical beings, UFOs and mythical creatures. There is no definitive method to prove none of them exist, but all reasonable thought-processes rate each of them equally high on the silly meter.

To specifically address UFOs, there are simply better explanations ” 99.9 percent turn out to be military objects, military, private, or commercial aircraft, flares or the occasional hoax. The remaining unexplained are exactly that ” unexplained up to this point in time.

That does not mean they never will be explained, but it also doesn’t mean they are alien beings from another planet sent here to study mankind in secrecy or in cahoots with the U.S. government. To claim such is a tremendous leap in plausibility and believability.

But don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that life exists outside of our solar system, and certainly elsewhere in the entire universe as we know it to be, as the odds are astronomically (literally) in its favor to occur.

But I cannot prove it.

Leading astrophysicists and biologists believe the odds of such life evolving the intelligence, much less the desire, to travel to our relatively obscure corner of the Milky Way galaxy just to study bovine intestines is a wee bit far-fetched.

Last Friday’s marketing of yet another “alien video” in Denver by Jeff Peckman (who eerily resembles Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate suicide fame) was a perfect example of mankind’s gullibility, nothing more. It did no more to further the cause of UFOlogists than Ralph Nader has done for a third party political system.

I applaud the scientific efforts to search for intelligence outside of mankind’s realm, and although conspiracy theorists way outside the fringes of cultural acceptance are easy to mock and ridicule, I urge them to continue their battles, but to not publish anything until they have absolute proof.

In 1543, the theories of Copernicus sat bluntly on the periphery of understanding, his ideas scoffed at by the masses. Many years later, Galileo was chastised and imprisoned by theocratic governments intent on proving similar theories as heresy and not worthy of further study, yet both men had actual proof.

Regardless, questioning the role, much less the existence, of certain deities directly threatened their church-state control over the flocks.

Fear of the unknown was a convenient excuse for the Catholic Church to wait a few hundred years before admitting ignorance of both scientists’ provable facts, such as when they recently confessed life on other planets might, and probably does, exist.

But then again the Vatican also just last week issued its most explicit decree to date against the ordination of women priests, promising to punish the “girls” and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication (i.e. they’ll kick ’em out of the club).

Nothing like a little organized sexism to retain dominance over the masses.

Anyway, until empirical data passing the muster of the scientific method can be found, UFOs, magical beings and mythical creatures will have to remain exactly where they belong ” in the kingdom of fiction.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper … but for a logical reason, he thinks they should be.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.net. E-mail comments to letters@vaildaily.com.


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