The truth is out there … it’s just not as fun.
Given the recent hole-punch cloud above Kelowna and the fireballs spotted streaking through the skies over Southern B.C., it was probably inevitable there would also be a UFO sighting.
The fireballs turned out to just be a booster off a Chinese rocket breaking up, but listening to a story about a UFO sighting in the wake of the light show, I was reminded of a friend who once asked me why, since I was into “science fiction and all that stuff” I didn’t believe in UFOs.
My answer was that while I thought it was pretty likely other races exist — don’t worry, I’m not going to get into a discussion of the Drake equation — the chances of them visiting Earth was equally as unlikely.
Sci-fi makes light of the enormous distances between stars. Earth’s nearest neighbours are about 4.5 light years away. That means that it would take any prospective visitors 4.5 years, travelling at the speed of light to get here. Even at Star Trek speeds, doing the trip at Warp 6 would take nine months.
I’m pretty sure that anybody making that trip would want to make more of their visit than flashing people driving down lonely desert highways or abducting some poor schmuck and threatening him with overly personal insertable internal inspection probes.
It really comes down to critical thinking and common sense. And it sometimes amazes me how people who exhibit both qualities in abundance can lose all of it when it comes to the many, many conspiracy theories and hoaxes the world wide web has helped foster.
Like the idea that man never really landed on the moon. Do you really think the number of people needed to pull off a hoax that large would have been able to keep a secret that big?
Likewise, chemtrails, though that particular conspiracy has proved a source of delight for co-worker Mark Brett. He regularly presents me with photos of contrails criss-crossing the skies, ever since Penticton’s great chemtrail scare of Summer 2013.
That was when a no doubt well meaning person decided to distribute flyers, on city stationery and in the middle of tourist season, warning of the dangers of chemtrails.
The theory is that contrails, the white lines of condensed water vapour jets leave in the sky, are actually a toxic substance deliberately sprayed on an unsuspecting community by a mysterious government program.
Leaving aside the lack of science behind this proposition, contrails are not a new phenomenon. I remember watching them form in the sky when I was a child — that’s a long time ago, and they were around a long time before that.
But the common sense point here is that if our governments wanted to kill us off, they have a lot more efficient methods than an exaggerated crop dusting program. Poisoning the water supply, for example, or adding arsenic to those little envelopes of sugar coffee drinkers are addicted to.
Crystal structures on the moon, alien abductions, government conspiracy theories, magical ancient civilizations, these are all great plots for stories, but let’s keep the science fiction separate from science fact.
P.S. None of the above applies to Ogopogo, of course. The existence of Lake Okanagan’s resident guardian is well documented.
Steve Kidd is the senior reporter for the Penticton Western News with a lifetime subscription to the Sceptical Inquirer.