Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Skeptic's UFO Encounter

The week of Halloween I was at a local church for their annual "Trunk or Treat" event. There were about 4,000 people there (including 1,500 or so Elsa costumes). There was ample opportunity to stand in lines. During one of these waits, I noticed some people near me pointing in the sky so naturally I looked. Behold, in the night sky there was floating overhead 4 slowly rotating lights, 2 red and 2 green. The object was fixed in the sky. Several people were asking "what is that?" with mild alarm in their voices. It did not move from its spot for about 2 minutes, it just sat in place.

I shot a video of this thing and it can be found here. I'd recommend you give it a look before continuing your read.

After 2 minutes or so it started slowly moving across the sky and fixed itself into another position.  A few people starting becoming frightened. "Oh my gosh, that is totally a UFO!"

My heart racing and my rational mind freaking out. This is, without a doubt, the closest thing to a UFO encounter I can ever remember.  I cannot explain this. My mind was having a real freakout. I do not believe alien UFO's visit Earth, yet what am I seeing right now?

While the murmurings of the crowd began growing more uneasy, I forced my rational mind to take back over and started doing what any person should do. Instead of saying "this is a UFO!" and then running and telling this creepy story to everyone I know, I began calmly asking myself questions.

"What could this be? An airplane? No, it's stationary in the sky. A hot air balloon? No, it's too still and moves too deliberately and stops on a dime.  A helicopter? I doubt it, the lights on a helicopter flash in different points, and this thing doesn't seem very high up in the sky. A remote controlled helicopter? That's certainly possible, seems more likely than a UFO, but flying RC copters are really hard, especially at night when you can't see them. Oh wait, what about one of those quad-copter things? That would explain the 4 lights."

So I pulled out my phone and googled "Quad RC Helicopter."

It took some digging, but lo and behold! Our mystery UFO with red and green lights has been solved! You can buy this thing on Amazon for $499. It allows you to attach a go-pro camera on it, which is what was happening at this event.

What a neat experience this was for me and reminds me of just how susceptible our brains are to delusion.  Our minds have a tendency to jump to conclusions when we observe phenomenon we cannot explain. It would have been very easy for me to latch onto the UFO idea and ran with it.

This happens quite often. I have had people tell me all kinds of things about experiences they have had, brushes with the supernatural, encounters with UFO's, Bigfoot sightings, ghost encounters, psychic visions of the future, so on and so forth. I have a hard time believing them.  When people are recounting their brushes with supernatural phenomenon, I believe they're being honest and sincere. That UFO experience was very real for me and my emotions and confusion was also very real. The experience is genuine.

What I have trouble believing are people's assessments of the causation for these events.

My experience with the quad-copter gave me a unique perspective on this. I got the benefit of experiencing an unexplained event and all of the very real emotions that come with it, in addition to calmly and rationally seeking an explanation instead of latching onto one instinctively and refusing to stray from it.

So when Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Wiccans, and New Agers all tell me they've had personal experiences with the various gods or powers they believe in, I accept their sincerity but not their conclusion. People are generally very bad at not only accurately recalling events, but also at applying a proper causal factor.

As a side note, a few days after the Trunk or Treat event, the church posted this photograph on their Facebook page, along with a thanks to the person who took the photo from their drone copter and emailed it to the church.

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