Date: Wed Oct 05 1994 08:24:00
From: Royston Paynter
Subj: Paynter FAQ
In the spirit of Charles Meilke's Skeptic's Creed, I offer my own personal FAQ
(frequently asked questions) file. Like Charles I cannot pretend to speak for
all skeptics and so when I refer to "skeptics" here I really mean those
skeptics that think exactly like me:
Q: Are UFOs real?
A: Some of them, sure. But UFO means Unidentified Flying Object, not alien
space ship. Skeptics are willing to concede that some people really do see
things in the sky that they cannot identify.
Q: Do aliens exists?
A: Nobody knows. So far, no sign of life originating elsewhere than the planet
Earth has been found. However, given the sheer scale of the universe, skeptics
admit that it is likely that alien life exists out there somewhere.
Q: If skeptics agree that UFOs are real, and that aliens exist, why don't they
believe that aliens are visiting the Earth?
A: Because there is no properly scientific evidence that they are.
Q: No evidence?! What about the thousands of sightings and hundreds of
A: Remember what we need to prove: that the thing in the photograph is an alien
space ship. How can we determine that the object in the
photograph is a space ship, if we do not have a genuine space ship with which
to compare it? How can we determine from a photo where the object came from? We
need physical evidence: a piece of the UFO to analyze by scientific means.
Q: Does the government cover up what it knows about UFOs?
A: Yes. Some unidentified flying objects are most probably in reality secret
military projects, about which the military would rather not talk.
Q: Are aliens abducting people?
A: There is no compelling evidence that they are. No abductee has recovered (or
had "implanted") any material of a demonstrably alien nature.
Q: Then what motivates all the claims of alien abduction? (What is MMM?)
A: There is probably no single explanation. Some claims are simply lies,
fabricated to garner attention or money. Some might be mistakes, faulty
interpretations of abduction by humans or of memories of a childhood trauma.
Others might be the result of a mental aberration, such as an hallucination or
lucid dream, or even the creation of a memory as a result of the use of
hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. This skeptical theory of claims of abduction by
aliens is referred to as MMM on
Q: Does our government have captured flying saucers?
A: There is no compelling evidence that they do. Claims by one
individual to have worked on a captured saucer at a secret government facility
lack scientific credibility. Other documents relating to a secret deal with
aliens have been shown to be a forgery.
Q: Can you prove that aliens are not visiting the Earth?
A: It is very difficult to prove any negative like that. For example, how could
I prove that there are no kangaroos in the wild in Canada? I would have to
search every square foot of Canada simultaneously. It would be much easier to
prove the positive assertion: that there are wild kangaroos in Canada, simply
by capturing one. To prove that aliens are not visiting the Earth would require
a constant surveillance of every square inch of the planet. On the other hand,
the notion that aliens _are_ visiting the planet should be much easier to
prove. A captured alien, a working ray-o-zap, an alien hair, even an alien ash
tray would do it.
Q: It seems to me that skeptics are closed-minded to the idea that aliens are
visiting the Earth.
A: Skeptics don't believe an extraordinary claim without having
obtained extraordinary proof.
Q: Then why do some skeptics believe in God? Isn't that hypocritical?
A: Skeptics require proof of extraordinary but testable claims.
However, if somebody says "my heart was touched by God", there is no reasonable
way to test this. On the other hand, if somebody says that he was _kidnapped
and raped_ by God, or that God mutilates cows, then skeptics would feel
justified in asking for supporting evidence.
Q: What would convince you that aliens are visiting the Earth?
A: Hard evidence like an alien space ship landing on the White House lawn, the
discovery of a demonstrably alien artefact, the reception of an alien radio
signal describing Earthly visits, an official announcement from a responsible
government agency, and so on.
Q: I believe that aliens travel faster than light and/or are visitors from the
A: Both require the aliens to travel back in time. Such a feat would destroy
causality, and result in catastrophic logical paradoxes. It would, for example,
be possible to construct a device that operates only if it does not operate.
Skeptics do not accept that time travel to the past is possible even in
principle, ruling out faster-than-light
transport as well. In any case travelling at light speed is plenty fast enough:
you would feel that you had travel any distance, however far, in no time at
Q: If you do not believe in UFOs, then why do you bother with FIDO_UFO? Why not
leave us in peace to discuss UFOs?
A:But I _do_ believe in UFOs! I would just like to see some proof that they are
alien space ships. While keeping an open mind to the
possibility that they are, I would also like to explore more prosaic
explanations for the UFO phenomenon.
Q: So ... what do you think UFOs are?
A: They are unidentified flying objects!
Q: Crikey. Can I go now?
A: Yes. Off you trot.