If you prefer to keep a little magic in your life—by which I mean believing in the possibility of UFOs...
SIGH. One does not "believe" in UFOs, any more than one "believes" in a car, or a toaster. And do not respond with "We know what cars and toasters look like." Begley can't even get close to the serious consideration of the UFO phenomena; she uses the word "possibility." The point here however is the use of the meme that it's UFOs that are in question. UFOs are not in question. They exist. They've been filmed, photographed, and witnessed by millions of people all over the world. What they are is the question, not that they are. As long as the so-called skeptic insists on framing the UFO phenomena in this way, any authentic dialogue will never happen.
All right. Moving on. Begley continues with the story about two young skeptoids in training who hoaxed a UFO sighting. What Begley and the two young men ignore is the fact that, the lights they sent up in the night sky appeared as something unknown to any witnesses, and therefore, it's a UFO. And in fact, as Kevin Randle points out in his piece on his blog , A Different Perspective, witnesses described exactly what they saw:
The second witness was presented by the news media by way of his 911 call to the police, said, "I walked out of my house, it’s like these parachutes with these, uh, or balloons with these five lights flying over right now."
Seems to me that he hit the nail right on the head. No media types there to attempt to create the mystery for their broadcast. Just a witness seeing the five lights in the sky and suggesting balloons.
The local police, who offered a statement to KDTV said that the best guess was a prank with road side flares attached to helium balloons. Seems to me that the police nailed that as well.
Of course the hoaxers repeated the skeptoid meme that UFO researchers are out to make a quick buck. What ever are they thinking? For every show like a UFO Hunters, which, presumably, everyone makes some money from (and why shouldn't they?) there are thousands of UFO researchers who make very little, if any, money from their UFO interests. Even if they've written books, speak, appear on television, etc. very few make money, certainly not enough to count as a liveable income.
By the way, do Joe Nickell, Michael Shermer, James Oberg, McGaha, Bill Nye, and Randi make money from their skeptibunkie endeavours?
Okay, so the lights were a hoax. And this proves what? It serves as a reminder to be as careful as one can in field investigation; mindful advice for any researcher. It also proves that there are those more concerned with creating distractions from real investigation, research and exploration. For every hoax, there are thousands of non-hoaxes, with no answers. Easier to pull stunts like this within a smug self congratulatory attitude, instead of a brave and honest look into what's going on up there. The hoax, on the surface, may seem to be nothing more than a heads up to everyone to think critically and calm down. However, what really happens when these stunts are performed by the chronically skeptoid minded is that the UFO question has been solved. The meme has already been released: hoax UFO, therefore, all UFOs are hoaxes, duh. The desire and the honest investigation into all things UFO, from sightings to lights in the sky to abductions, will never be pursued because it's all just flares and fishing line; why bother? There's no there, there...and we can go about our business, while ignoring the crazy, shape-shifting, weird objects in teh sky right above our heads.
Most of all, it is the shameful and lazy idea prevalent in the skeptibunkie culture that hoaxes like this "proves' that there are no UFOs. In a reverse way, their efforts and insistence that what they do promotes "critical thinking" does nothing of the kind. For what kind of logic is it that says: "Since there are hoaxed UFO events, there are no UFOs." The mistake here isn't that some UFOs turn out to be IFOs (Identified Flying Objects) or objects with mundane explanations, or that people sometimes make assumptions (ET) and so on. It's the idea that all of UFO research is pointless. In their own words, the two hoaxers wrote:
Does this bring into question the validity of every other UFO case? We believe it does.
No, no it doesn't.
As Greg Bishop wrote on his blog UFO Mystic:
The data would suggest that the skeptics are correct, but the debate has been framed in the wrong context. Fundie skeptics nearly always lump all UFO cases together, as if anything unknown in the sky is representative of all cases throughout history, especially from the 20th century to the present. To this mindset, the lack of hard evidence for one is enough to throw the rest of the UFO reports out with the bathwater. This is a classic CSICOP ploy: Find the easiest case to debunk, and frame it as representative of all issues associated with it. at least by their definition. Believers, for the most part, ignore normal explanations because it detracts from their case for unidentifieds, and the “only answer,” which has to be extraterrestrials.
Hoaxes like this do not solve or answer a thing. They don't put UFO research to shame. They are distractions, time wasters; as well as reminders to be ever cautious, not a bad thing. But any smug feeling on the part of the "skekptic" that this hoax, or any hoax, somehow showed up UFO research in a bad way is misguided at best.