Skepticism

Astronaut or Astronut?

This may be old news for many of you, but former NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr. Edgar Mitchell — a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission — claims aliens exist.

If you’re thinking, “Yeah. The universe is sufficiently large enough for millions of alien species to exist”, wait just a second. He also claims extraterrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions, but that the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by the government. And the cover up has lasted for some six decades.

Appearing on a British radio program recently, Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, said:

[I am] privileged enough to be in on the fact that we’ve been visited on this planet and the U.F.O. phenomena is real.

Now, this is not the first time Mitchell has taken a swim in the crazy pool. You can see videos of him making outrageous claims here, here, and here. But being a former astronaut, he has a lot of clout when it comes to things space-related, and many people might just be inclined to believe him because of his status. In fact, as I was flipping through the cable channels last night, I heard even David Letterman comment on the story.

Now, I don’t think Letterman buys into Mitchell’s claims, except to mine them for jokes, but a lot of people watch his program, and not all of those viewers are as discerning.

But what about Mitchell’s claims? Have aliens visited Earth?

Well, of course the default position for most of us is, “It would be awesome if aliens did visit, but without evaluating the evidence, I can’t say for sure if they have”.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support such a claim; no spaceships, no alien bodies, no ray guns or communicators, and no mother ship hiding behind the moon. Plus, there are those pesky old problems of vast distances between star systems and the difficulties of space travel to contend with, not to mention the fact that Earth is in an insignificant solar system in an out-of-the-way arm of the Milky Way. Aliens visiting us would have to be either the most thorough species ever to evolve, or completely fucking lost.

And as for the claims of a government conspiracy, what can one do besides point out the obvious. I mean, we are being asked to believe that a government that has put us in dire economic straits by selling our debts to countries all over the world, that can’t make intelligent decisions and take intelligent actions on issues like our dependence on oil, the environment, and stem cell research, and that refuses to be held accountable for enormous foreign policy blunders and the lies associated with them, can cover up what would be the single most important event in the entire history of this planet.

Apparently, the United States government is so clever, so brilliant, it can pretend to be incompetent, even to the point where its citizens face potential long-term financial woes or wind up dying on foreign soil, while still controlling and concealing from the entire world the most important news story ever.

It’s frightening to consider anything so diabolical.

Fortunately, we don’t have to. The government’s not that good. So all we have to do is discuss the subject rationally with the new crop of believers that Mitchell is going to inspire, and then hope that as we age, we can stay several steps ahead of dementia, even though others apparently can’t.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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32 Comments

  1. Well…I didn’t believe in the F-117 until it flew in Desert Storm. Secrets can be kept, at least for a while, as long as the events are fairly small.

    So, I could believe a government could cover up a single landing of visitors from another world, but there’s just no way to cover up aliens joy riding all over the planet and getting their kicks buzzing some poor smoe whom nobody is going to believe.

  2. The government couldn’t even keep a stained dress covered up, how could it keep alien visitation from leaking out? There would be too many people involved, and people cannot keep secrets, especially when there would be a large amount of money available from the media for the scoop.

    So maybe the gov’t has some sort of coercion in place to either frighten or reward people into keeping quiet? So why is Mitchell being “allowed” to talk?

    Ain’t buyin’ it.

  3. The thing is, if he knows this because he’s an astronaut, then why don’t the other astronauts that have been to the moon support him? If they’ve been silenced, then why hasn’t this guy? Why weren’t his brake lines mysteriously cut when he began talking about this?

    Either the conspiracy is powerful enough to keep people silent or they’re not. If they are then he wouldn’t be talking, and if they’re not then more people would be.

  4. Josh,

    Even the F117 program was not as a big a secret as you might think. Firstly the aircraft was already in action two years before Desert Storm, over Panama in 1989.

    However even before that the existence of the stealth program was open knowledge in the aviation community. The designation F19 was provisionally assigned to the aircaft by Jane’s. Tom Clancy’s 1986 novel Red Storm Rising included a fanciful depiction of the projected capabilities of the aircraft.

    So the existence of even this small and extremely tightly controlled program was public knowledge within 5 years of the first flight of the aircraft.

  5. @NoAstronomer

    Yah, you’re spot on. It was just the biggest ‘secret’ thing that I could think of off the top of my head.

    Guess we’re back to Franklin: “Three men can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

  6. It looks like some conspiracy theorists are having a tough time with this one. An Apollo astronaut claims that aliens are watching us but the government is covering it up , but since NASA never went to the moon obviously Mitchell can’t be trusted. I hope their heads explode.

    I’ve read quite a bit about the Apollo astronauts, but Mitchell was always a guy I tended to pass over because I have a hard time reading new-agey science-ish stuff without gagging. But apparently he will be speaking at the X-Conference (to challenge the “truth embargo”) in the D.C. area next April… perhaps I should attend, but I’d honestly rather keep the 91 dollars.

  7. It looks like some conspiracy theorists are having a tough time with this one. An Apollo astronaut claims that aliens are watching us but the government is covering it up , but since NASA never went to the moon obviously Mitchell can’t be trusted. I hope their heads explode.

    Nice!

  8. Well…I didn’t believe in the F-117 until it flew in Desert Storm. Secrets can be kept, at least for a while, as long as the events are fairly small.

    Not as well as you think. I saw one overflying Yosemite a few years before Desert Storm, and while I didn’t suspect stealth technology for a second, it was clearly something new and different. So it wasn’t that big a secret. Of course, I’m a Canadian, and it’s your government’s job to keep things secret from *you*.

    Besides, if there were a conspiracy that skilled at keeping the UFO secret, why haven’t these conspiracy nuts been found in shallow graves in the high desert?

  9. Thanks Sam!

    If anyone is interested in making sense of it Mitchell has a website where he lays out some stuff on something called the Quantum Hologram (something to do with ESP, I believe), although he curiously doesn’t touch on the whole “Aliens are visiting Earth and the government’s coverin’ it up” thing. I much prefer Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean’s website. No conspiracies or pseudoscience there, just pretty paintings.

    Links!
    Edgard Mitchell
    Alan Bean

  10. I think Mr. Mitchell received too many Cosmic Rays to the head. I mean I’ve stood outside naked on a hill, looking up at the stars, screaming, “Come and take me away…” (Who hasn’t done that?)

    Three guys did show up and put a nice tight fitting jacket on me, and put me up in a nice hotel room. Who knew the Holiday Inn’s rooms were padded.

    I never did see any aliens though. Although I did meet Napoleon and Julius Caesar the nice hotel.

  11. Yeah, Mitchell’s out there. Not long ago he was lending “credibility” to a guy named Adam Dreamhealer, who says he’s psychic and he heals people and stuff. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about “Dr.” Mitchell”:

    According to the Primetime (show) segment, “There are physicists who believe there’s something to this,” including astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who says he recognizes the science in Dreamhealer’s work. “It’s about channeling energy and resonating with the person. The principles of quantum physics explain many of these intuitive mystical aspects of attention and intention,” said Mitchell, who (despite being introduced by Primetime as a physicist and a “doctor”) is neither a physicist nor a medical doctor. While Mitchell may recognize the science behind Dreamhealer’s powers, the medical establishment doesn’t. In fact, many such studies have tried to find this effect, and all of them—including those involving prayer—have failed.

  12. Imagine if this guy actually starts saying that the moon landing was fake. It would be a hell of a publicity stunt. Someone who walked on the moon denying that it ever happened? It’d be a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.

  13. For some reason I am now envisioning some highly advanced, but forgetful race of aliens who built amazing spaceships, but forgot to install GPS and ended up in some “mostly harmless” backwater of the universe where they, through a series of zany circumstances, came to believe that all astronomic maps were being hidden in redneck’s butts. Thus explaining all alien abductions.

  14. The “singlemost important” event…..!

    How did you arrive at this conclusion? If it is a real event (or events ), why would/should you/we give it any importance at all. How is it different from say, discovering another species of tropical bird in the Amazon. Its discovery would have no impact on our lives.
    ThinkerBelle

  15. We are different. You would obviously have experienced some impact, or you would not have reacted to the ‘no impact’ idea the way you did.

    For me to get to Wow levels of reaction, I would have had to know that it was my right to know about contact with intelligent ET life and that my rights had been abrogated. I have never my consent to any government to withhold ET discoveries from me, have you?
    ThinkerBelle

  16. What does ‘right to know’ have to do with whether or not alien contact would be important? You are making no sense. First you say that the discovery of intelligent ET life would be no more important than a new species in the rainforest (which, if that is the case you should really examine your priorities). Then when questioned you digress into whether it’s right for the government to withhold information from you?

    Your comments make no sense to me.

  17. The degree of impact is different.
    I feel a greater impact from having rightful information withheld (because I did not consent to that) that I do from our discovery of an ET life form.

    Everybody is different. What impact would any of these have on you?

    Would it be useful to use a scale of one to ten for the relative (levels of Wow) feelings of being impacted?
    ThinkerBelle

  18. OK. Let’s recap. Sam was making the point that it would be unlikely that the government could “cover up what would be the single most important event in the entire history of this planet.” The event he was referencing was the theoretical visitation by aliens.

    Then you said that this visitation by aliens would be no different than discovering a new species of bird and wouldn’t affect our lives at all. When I expressed surprise at that assertion you then went into talking about right to know and not giving ‘consent’ to the government to hide the existence of aliens from you.

    This had nothing at all to do with the topic, and when I tried to point this out you started comparing the ideas, stating that it’s a bigger deal to be lied to than to discover new life. That’s fine, but it still has nothing to do with your first point, which was that an alien visitation would be no big deal.

    Your scale is irrelevant since no one has ever implied the need for any comparison between the ‘levels of Wow’ you are talking about.

    Talking about how ‘everybody is different’ does not change the fact that every point you’ve made in this discussion has been incoherent or irrelevant.

  19. ThinkerBelle, I must agree with Detroitus. Your comments are somewhat confusing to me, too.

    But to try to clarify my point, I will say that, where I often do you use exaggeration and hyperbole, I think the discovery of extra-terrestrial life forms would indeed have a major impact on us and would indeed be a very important event. And if that life was intelligent and actually visited Earth, the impact would be even more powerful.

    Consider the implications of such an event on everything from biology to religious philosophy. It would be a major event, to say the least.

  20. OK OK OK

    recap
    clarify
    back up
    Sam,
    I agree that biologists would probably be lusting after alien DNA, to see how it compared to ours. But I would get up and go to work, as usual. No change.
    Detroitus,
    I think of the discovery of a new life form in the same way as I think about most of science – we are acquiring yet one more piece of knowledge. No more-no less. Head-stuff.
    Betraying trust by withholding information is gut stuff. I give it a 9 on the reaction scale. (No one has to give it a 9, if they don’t want to. We are different.

    Thinkerbelle

  21. “Betraying trust by withholding information is gut stuff. I give it a 9 on the reaction scale.”

    That’s perfectly understandable ThinkerBelle… But when the conversation turned to betrayals of trust I have no idea. That happened somewhere in your head.

    The thought of with-holding information aside, the whole point that I have been TRYING to make is that Sam’s assertion that visitations by intelligent ET life would be an amazingly important event to humankind is not unwarranted. Your initial response implied otherwise, and as far as I can tell, you have yet to respond to my query as to why you would think that way. Instead, you warp the subject to talk about something that has nothing to do with anything.

    “I agree that biologists would probably be lusting after alien DNA, to see how it compared to ours. But I would get up and go to work, as usual. No change.”

    Do you really think that if intelligent life came to visit our planet, the only consequence would be that our biologists would have more to study?

    And to accomodate your tangent, if you fond out that the government was lying about it, would you NOT go to work lilke normal?

  22. Tangent first.
    I would go to work and I would feel different from normal. I would be distracted by the fact that I had been betrayed. Where now to place my trust? and so on…

    Consequence… for me only
    Well I suppose I could take an active interest personally and learn more about this particular species of intelligent life, but still it would be in the category of learning experience for me.

    And to clarify, just because the goverment decides to cover up something, doesn’t automatically transfer the CONSEQUENCE of that covered up thing over to me. CONSEQUENCE is not an inherent quality. It is a um… a bestowed quality. I give to a thing its consequence.

    Let me try another approach. Content and context…
    Aliens could be content
    I am part of the context into which the alien arrives.
    The context gives the degree of CONSEQUENCE to the content.
    ThinkerBelle

  23. Ok, I think I see the disconnect here. You are talking about the impact of such an event on a personal, emotional level to you. I, however, am speaking of the overall, measurable impact on the world as a whole. Whether any of us cares or not is beside the point. It would still infuence our lives.

  24. I do not claim that context remains forever unchanged.
    I can see that ETIntelligence could change the context it arrives into in time.
    Since I am part of that context, then I would be changed.
    Just now I cannot imagine how, though.
    As a matter of fact, I can see that goverment might implement a cover-up just to prevent such a change. Governments want maintain the status quo, if it benefits government. What do you think? Do you think that the arrival of extra-terrestrial intelligence might be beneficial to our broader context?
    ThinkerBelle

  25. According to page 2 of the news story Roswell: Alien Spacecraft or Top Secret Spy Project? 60 Years of Fact, Legend, Myth and Arguments by Elliot Lee Spiegel, ABC News, July 7, 2007:

    “The Air Force issued two subsequent reports in the 1990s, concluding that the material recovered in 1947 was, in fact, from Project Mogul, a secret program of atmospheric balloons used to detect Soviet nuclear tests.”

    In other words, the explanation involves a secret which the U.S. government did in fact keep for quite a while — apparently for approximately 50 years, if indeed the above explanation is correct.

    Many skeptics are fond of the “government can’t keep a secret” argument, but I think that’s fallacious. There is lots and lots and lots of classified information. People who work for intelligence agencies, etc., are specifically trained in the art of keeping secrets.

    Also fallacious is the common “government is too incompetent to keep a secret” argument. The U.S. government is not always and everywhere incompetent. Nor, at the other extreme, is it always and everywhere competent. Some people in the government are competent, others are incompetent. The U.S. government does some things very well, but screws up at other things. The U.S. government didn’t get to be the world’s sole superpower by being always and everywhere incompetent. At the very least it must be, on average, more competent than most other governments.

    However, given a choice between two explanations which both involve government secrecy, I would say that the more down-to-Earth hypothesis (a top secret spy project) is more likely than alien spacecraft, simply by Occam’s Razor.

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