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Extraterrestrial hypothesis is a theory that in extraterrestrial life exists.
Extraterrestrial hypothesis is the hypothesis that UFOs are best explained as being creatures from other planets occupying physical spacecraft visiting Earth.
The extraterrestrial hypothesis is supported by some individuals within the scientific community, and many organizations have been set up to actively study UFO sightings and contact reports in relation to extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH). It also has many detractors among the scientific community, and among skeptic groups who consider it to be a Pseudoscience .
Extraterrestrial hypothesis is an important component of UFO Abduction reports and remains one of the central questions of ufology. It has divided scholars for decades.
Etymology of extraterrestrial hypothesis.
The origins of the term "extraterrestrial hypothesis" are not clear; it was used in a publication by French engineer Aimè Michel in 1967 and again by James Harder, while testifying before the Congressional Committee on Science and Astronautics, in July 1968.
In 1969 physicist Edward Condon defined extraterrestrial hypothesis as the "idea that some UFOs may be spacecraft sent to Earth from another civilization, or on a planet associated with a more distant star," while presenting the findings of the much debated Condon Report.
Chronology of extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Although ETH, as a unified and named hypothesis, is a comparatively new concept - one which owes a lot to the saucer sightings of the 1940s-1960s - ETH can trace its origins back to a number of earlier iterations which in themselves draw on science, such as the now discredited Martian canals promoted by astronomer Percival Lowell, popular culture, including the writings of H. G. Wells and fellow science fiction pioneers, and even to the works of figures such as the Swedish philosopher and self proclaimed scientist Emanuel Swedenborg, who promoted a variety of unconventional views that linked other worlds to the afterlife.
The ancestors of extraterrestrial hypothesis.
An early example of speculation over extraterrestrial visitors can be found in the French newspaper La Pays. On June 17, 1864, La Pays published a story about two American geologists who allegedly discovered an alien like creature; a mummified three foot tall hairless humanoid with a trunk-like appendage on its forehead, inside a hollow egg-shaped structure.
A further report can be found in the Missouri Democrat (St. Louis), which, in October 1865, reported on the story of Rocky Mountain trapper James Lumley, who claimed to have discover fragments of rock bearing "curious hieroglyphics" which seemed to form a compartmentalized object; which he believed was being used to transport "an animate being", after investigating a meteor impact near Great Falls, Montana. The newspaper goes on to speculate "Possibly, meteors could be used as a means of conveyance by the inhabitants of other planets, in exploring space".
Premodern extraterrestrial hypothesis.
In 1895, astronomer Percival Lowell expanded on the works of Giovanni Schiaparelli and hypothesized that patterns observed on the surface of the planet Mars were irrigation canals created by an intelligent civilization . However, Lowell and Schiaparelli did not argue that Martians were visiting Earth.
The next few years saw a spike in the reports of "Mystery airships" in the U.S. Several newspapers; including the Washington Times and the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch speculated might they might have originated from Mars".
American anomolist Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1923) also believed that many unexplained phenomena - inexplicable artifacts, mysterious disappearances (and strange appearances), and bizarre lights reported in the sky or in the oceans - could be the result of alien visitation He also commented on the general state of affairs regarding such beliefs. In a letter that was published in the New York Times. Fort wrote, "If it is not the respectable or conventional thing upon this Earth to believe in visitors from other worlds, most of us would watch them a week and declare that they were something else, and likely make things disagreeable for anyone who though otherwise."
Modern extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Modern ETH - specifically the implicit linking of unidentified aircraft and lights in the sky to alien life - took root during the late 1940s and took its current form during the 1950s. As with earlier iterations, it drew on both fringe science and popular culture.
In 1947, Lyman Spitzer, Jr., an associate professor of Astrophysics at Yale University appeared on New Haven, Connecticut's WTIC and speculated that the planet Mars could have been inhabited for millions of years, and that Martians had visited Earth at some point during it history. He also voiced that such visits would likely have gone unnoticed "unless [the Martians] had spent some time in a large city or had landed sufficiently recently to have been photographed, we would have no record of their having been here" he reasoned that "any few men who had seen them would probably not be believed by anyone else".
On June 24, 1947 - the day after Lyman's presentation - at about 3.00 p.m. local time, pilot Kenneth Arnold reports seeing nine unidentified disk-shaped aircraft flying near Mt. Rainier. Though he was impressed by their high speed and quick movements, Arnold did not initially consider the ETH, stating,
It was from a misquote from a June 25 1947 newspaper report on this incident that the term "Flying Saucer" entered widespread use: Arnold said the objects moved as if they were a saucer skipping across water.
According to journalist Edward R. Murrow, the ETH as an explanation for "flying saucers" did not earn widespread attention until about 18 months after Arnold's sighting.
Literature professor Terry Matheson wrote,
The results of the first US poll of public UFO perceptions were released by Gallup on August 14 1947 and showed that most people either held no opinion, or believed that there was a mundane explanation for apparent UFOs.
The term "flying saucer" was familiar to 94% of the respondents. No option was provided to allow participants to explicitly select "extraterrestrial" or "interplanetary".
In 1948, the U.S. Air Force's Project Sign wrote their Estimate of the Situation, which urged investigation of the possibility that unexplained sightings were alien crafts. The report was rejected by high-ranking officers due to a lack of physical evidence, and its existence was not publicly disclosed until 1956. Later reports concluded that their was either insufficient evidence to link UFOs and ETH, or that UFOs did not warrant investigation.
Public belief in extraterrestrial hypothesis remained low during the early 1950s, even among those reporting UFOs. A poll published in Popular Mechanics magazine, in August 1951, showed that 52% UFO witnesses questioned believed that they had seen a man made aircraft, while only 4% believed that they had seen an alien craft. However, by the late 1950s belief in ETH had increased due to the activities of people such as retired U.S. Marine Corp officer Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe, who campaigned to raise public awareness of the UFO phenomena. By 1957, 25% percent of Americans responded that they either believed, or were willing to believe, in ETH, while 53% responded that they weren't. 22% said that they were uncertain.
During this time, ETH also fragmented into distinct camps, each believing slightly different variations of the hypothesis. The "Contactees" of the early 1950s said that the "space brothers" they met were peaceful and benevolent, but by the mid-1960s, a number of alleged Alien abductions; including that of Betty and Barney Hill, and of the apparent mutilation of cattle cast the ETH in more sinister terms.
Analyzing extraterrestrial hypothesis.
In a 1969 lecture US astrophysics Carl Sagan said,
Similarly, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock wrote that for many years,
Against extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Historically, the scientific community has shown little or no support for the ETH, and has largely followed the hypothesis that reports of UFOs are the result of people misinterpreting common objects or phenomena, or are the work of hoaxers.
This state of opinion was clearly shown when, in 1977, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock surveyed the members of the American Astronomical Society. Sturrock asked assembled scientists to assign probabilities to eight possible explanations for UFOs. The response given to Sturrock showed that those surveyed believed that there was only a 3% probability that UFOs were extraterrestrial craft (ETH), a 9% probability that they represented a previously unknown natural phenomena, but a 66% probability that they were the result of witnesses either misinterpreting an ordinary object or phenomena, or witnessing an ordinary object or phenomena that they were unfamiliar with.
Those surveyed also assigned an average probability of 12% to the probability that UFOs being a hoax.
The primary scientific arguments against ETH were summarized by Astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek during a presentation at the 1983 MUFON Symposium. During which time he outline 7 key reasons why ETH was not a credible in the eyes of science.
Hynek argued that:
According to Hynek, points 1-6 could be argued, but point 7 represented an insurmountable barrier to the validity of the EHT.
More recently, Professor Stephen Hawking argued that because most UFOs turn out to have prosaic explanations, it was reasonable to presume that the "unidentified" UFOs also had prosaic origins.
For extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Since the inception of ETH in its modern form, the hypothesis has attracted a varying level of support from amongst the scientific community. This support grew during the Cold War and the Space Race, but waned afterwards, leaving extraterrestrial hypothesis to remain fringe area that can largely be divided into two categories.
1) The argument that reports of UFO sightings and abductions represent sufficient evidence to determine that alien crafts have been visiting Earth.
2) The argument that reports of UFO sightings and abductions do not represent sufficient evidence to determine that alien crafts have been visiting Earth, but that they are sufficient to prevent the outright dismissal of ETH as a hypothesis.
Though neither are as widespread today as they were during the 1960s-1970s, the later category remains the most common of the two.
In a 1969 report to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the late American physicist James E. McDonald summarized his reasons for not dismissing ETH:
Physicist Bruce S. Maccabee argues that belief in extraterrestrial hypothesis is justifiable, and the reason that scientifically acceptable proof has not yet been provided is because UFOlogy has been relegated to the level of a Pseudoscience by mainstream scientists who have either been unwilling to investigate it, or unwilling to reach credible conclusions based on credible data, because of prejudices in the wider scientific community.
According to Frank B. Salisbury of Utah State University, in order to prevent science from descending into pseudosciences, some burden must also be borne by those who challenge the ETH.
Missouri ufologist Val Germann argues that earthly level of development is still too limited for us to attempt to use scientific methodologies to disprove ETH, and that the apparent absence of empirical evidence is irrelevant to belief in extraterrestrial hypothesis because humans are not currently qualified to extrapolate anything meaningful from the information that is available to them. In Germann's view, all arguments against ETH, based on our current understanding of science, are pure speculation.
Noteworthy supporters of extraterrestrial hypothesis among the military, scientific and aerospace community have included
NASA and extraterrestrial hypothesis.
NASA frequently fields questions in regard to the ETH and UFOs. As of 2006, its official standpoint was that ETH remains possible because it has yet to be proven otherwise, but that it cannot be regarded as anything other than a hypothesis because of a lack of empirical evidence.
Despite public interest, NASA considers the study of ETH to be irrelevant to its work because of the number of false leads that a study would provide, and the limited amount of usable scientific data that it would yield.
Conspiracy about extraterrestrial hypothesis.
A frequent concept in ufology and popular culture is that the true extent of information about UFOs is being suppressed by some form of conspiracy of silence, or by an official cover up that is acting to conceal information.
In 1968, American engineer James A. Harder argued that significant evidence existed to prove UFOs "beyond reasonable doubt," but that the evidence had been suppressed and largely neglected by scientists and the general public, thus preventing sound conclusions from being reached on the ETH.
A survey carried out by Industrial Research magazine in 1971 showed that more Americans believed the government was concealing information about UFOs (76%) than believed in the existence of UFOs (54%), or in ETH itself (32%).
Extraterrestrial hypothesis related pages.
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