„Unidentified“ due to lack of data

 Copyright © 2014

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I entered the world of UFOLOGY roughly three years ago.

One odd feature which baffled me quickly enough (thanks to books of Dr. Jacques Vallée) was the fact that for many people, any anomalous phenomena (i.e. phenomena not reasonably explainable through our current and public knowledge) MUST be of extraterrestrial origin.

Conversely, if one finds it extremely unlikely that space aliens might be among us, then one has to conclude there are no genuinely anomalous UAP.

I explained at length that UAPs/UFOs are no synonyms for alien spacecrafts.

In this post, I want to go into a second widespread fallacy many Ufologists fall prey to.

Debunkers are well known to force-fit enigmatic cases to their catchall explanations by resorting to a flurry of ad-hoc hypotheses and far-fetched assumptions. I gave two examples of this behavior here and here.

While serious Ufologists are prompt to rebuke „Skeptics“ for their poor reasoning, they can often sin in an excess of conservatism.

Frequently, they confuse untested conventional hypotheses potentially accounting for a puzzling sighting with a well-proven explanation revealing us its likely causes.

A recent case shortly described by MUFON provides us with a  very nice illustration of this state of affairs.

The putative UFO is very blurred. One can make out a distinct discontinuity in the middle.

An allegedly cigar-like UFO sighted over Georgia.

Georgia witness photographs cigar-shaped UFO

 

A Georgia witness at Canton reported watching and photographing two cigar-shaped UFOs that seemed to be attached by “a small tubular connection,” according to testimony in Case 61365 from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The witness was outside on a driveway and about to walk inside on November 6, 2014, when the object was first seen.

The putative UFO is so small that one can no longer make out the gap at its center.

An allegedly cigar-like UFO sighted over Georgia.
Picture without zooming.

“I looked to my right facing southeast to see if my horses were in their stalls,” the witness stated. “I then noticed something rather odd flying above the barn as the sky was clear and not cloudy and still broad daylight. The object was flying in an odd sort of way, not like any aircraft I am aware of would or could fly.”

The witness described the object.

“It was shimmering. It appeared to be glowing. It had no wings and it looked like two silver cigar shapes attached together by a smaller tubular connection.”

The witness tried to understand what the object was.

The witness said the object appeared to have no wings and it looked like two silver cigar shapes attached together by a smaller tubular connection. Pictured: Canton, Georgia. (Credit: Google)

“From the distance of height I venture to guess it was possibly not as large as a commercial aircraft, but perhaps the size of a private airplane. I had the impression it seemed to be ascending but also seemed to be floating and at first moved slowly.”

When the object appeared to be above the witnesses’ house, a photograph was taken with a cell phone. But moments later, the object was gone.

“When I looked up again it was gone either out of sight or vanished. It left me with an unsettled feeling.”

The witness included one image with the MUFON report, which was filed on November 13, 2014.

The putative UFO is very blurred. One can make out a distinct discontinuity in the middle.

An allegedly cigar-like UFO sighted over Georgia.

Canton is a city in and the county seat of Cherokee County, Georgia, population 22,985.

Georgia has a current UFO Alert Rating of 5 with a low number of recent reports nationally. Georgia had 11 UFO reports that occurred during October 2014 – calculated at 1.11 sightings per million population.

The UFO Alert Rating System is based on five levels – 1 through 5 – where states with 4.01 or higher reports per million residents are rated an Alert 1; 3.01 – 4.0 reports are an Alert 2; 2.51 – 3.0 are an Alert 3; 2.01 – 2.5 are an Alert 4; and those states with 2.0 or lower are rated an Alert 5.

************************

Afterwards, researcher Marc D’Antonia offered us his own explanation.

This object looks to me to be a classic image often seen of jet aircraft when seen against bright blue sky. The wings and tail are many times lost visually in the low contrast against the daytime sky. The giveaway in such cases is the dark inset area just less than halfway from the right end of the object. This is usually a wing shadow and appears in the low contrast to be a dark area with no extensions of wing structure.
So I am not saying this is a commercial jet for sure but that this object looks very typical of a commercial jet when seen in bright sky at times. In the context of the photo the object is consistently sized for a jet traveling at 30,000 feet or so and the witness didnt state that the object moved erratically. The momentarily loss of visual acquisition is not uncommon for bright blue sky days actually and happens quite frequently. I didnt find that to be a quality putting this case in a high strangeness category.
In my view based on the photo and experience I have to say this could likely be a jet aircraft seen under bright sky conditions.


While doubtlessly extremely interesting, I think that D’Antonia’s comment tends to obscure the considerable lack of information this case suffers from.

My answer follows:

Marc Dantonio: I think that what you have presented here is an interesting untested hypothesis but not a conclusive explanation of that case.

1) Discontinuity on the picture

Could you please perhaps give us links towards similar photos of planes WITH this strange discontinuity (gap) in the middle?

How probable are circumstances which can potentially lead to its formation?

It seems to me you completely left that central aspect aside.

2) Visual sighting

What’s more, you’ve given an explanation for the photo. But what about the VISUAL sighting itself? From the description of the witness, it sounds as if he saw with his own eyes that “it had no wings and it looked like two silver cigar shapes attached together by a smaller tubular connection”.

If that is the case, does your explanation account for his seeing this alleged plane as he did?
It is frustrating not to know how big and far he actually EXPERIENCED the thing. I surmise it must have been somehow closer to him than the impression given by the picture stemming from his cellphone.

What was this „odd sort of way“ the object moved in?

How „slow“ did it move at first? Would the initial speed be compatible with it being a plane?

3) Possibility of a hoax

Another possibility I’m considering is that of a hoax.

This doesn’t appear very likely given that he apparently remained anonymous and the picture itself doesn’t show us something spectacular.
Still, this can’t be wholly ruled out. Is the man known to be trustworthy?

4) Presence of known aircrafts

Do we know if signaled aircrafts were present by that time in the area?

Inconclusive incident

As far as I’m concerned, the case is still unexplained. But we’ve no reason (yet) to assume that something truly anomalous took place. We simply don’t know.

Given all the information we lack (as I just described at length above), I think we are in no position to reach any conclusion in whatever direction.

I think that, at the very least, everyone reading this would probably agree we would be far better off if we possessed the missing data mentioned in my four questions.

I’d be thankful to fellow UFO researchers more knowledgeable than I for helping me answer some of the questions but with empirical data rather than mere assumptions.

It is often asserted by serious Ufologists that between 90% and 95% of all sightings have a conventional explanation.

I think that the analysis of this case shows that this number might be grossly overrated. Being unpaid (or more rarely poorly paid) and confronted with a gigantic set of cases on their desks, numerous researchers are prompt to get rid of many of them by considering them „explained“ as soon as some aspects appear to fit an explanation they have in mind.

But this is no scientifically sound methodology if many other elements relevant to the proposed explanation are unknown or uncertain.

I think that thorough Ufologists confronted with such an incident in the future should classify it as „Insufficient data“ while trying to gather additional information.

I think that my own very recent sighting falls within that category.

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