The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Agency of Pseudo-Skepticism & Cultivated Ignorance

Latest Trends in Acceptance of UFO’s – Not Good News for Fake Skeptics

Sixty percent of the informed and critical thinking American public believe that UFO’s constitute something other than conventional, natural or man-made phenomena. Much to the disdain of fake skeptics, the phenomenon will not go away – no matter how many celebrities they foist into the spotlight, nor how many verbatim podcasts they produce, and no matter how many times they scream ‘woo!’.

Robust Intelligence Data Portends a Persistent Experiential Base

The latest numbers released by Gallup News Service and its contracted Princeton Survey Research Center do not portend good news for fake skeptics with respect to trends inside public consideration of the UFO subject.1 2 3 A September 6th 2019 Gallup article by Lydia Saad, which highlighted release of the June 2019 (Poll 1) and August 2019 (Poll 2) data by Gallup News Services and was entitled Americans Skeptical of UFOs, but Say Government Knows More, offers a quasi-pessimistic framing of sentiment around the UFO subject on the part of the American public. However, once one looks inside the Gallup data, one finds that Americans are not buying classic failed fake ‘skepticism’ (which is the normal meaning of the word when employed by the media) surrounding UFO’s as much as the article might imply. Indeed, 88% of the informed, non-religious public hold that UFO’s are a real phenomenon, and are not imagined nor halucinated. A mere 33% of that same public segment (not religious nor ignorant) still hold fast to the notion that 100% of UFO sightings are either man-made or can be explained by conventional phenomena. This percentage of holdouts continues to shrink each decade. Much to their disdain, the phenomenon will not go away – no matter how many celebrities they foist into the media spotlight, nor how many verbatim podcasts they produce, and no matter how many times they scream ‘woo!’. Not particularly heady days right now for UFO fake skeptics.

The purpose of this blog article is not to lend credence or denial support around any particular sentiment inside the UFO debate, rather to outline errant method and irrational behavior among those who are faking at their skepticism. There is an extraordinary amount of bunk inside the UFO topic – nearly everyone inside the rational and informed public debate on the topic agrees on this. However, this issue does not constitute the critical path question at hand.

The critical path question entailed is this:

Are a subset of these observations sufficient to establish necessity under Ockham’s Razor? Is official investigation and public oversight warranted?

If the answer to these two questions is ‘yes’, then we can no longer dismiss the UFO matter through a simple wave of the skeptical ‘simplest explanation’ hand.

Demarcation of Skepticism

Once plurality is necessary under Ockham’s Razor, it cannot be dismissed by means of skepticism alone.

In the instance outlined in the two points above, the Demarcation of Skepticism has been called into play. Addressing this demarcation and ethical method of science, is the purpose of this blog article; not any form of attempt to prove UFO’s through an ad populum fallacy. Nor is the purpose of this article to review the confidence interval calculations on the adequacy of the Princeton s-sample base, as that would distract from the critical path argument laid out herein. So, now that we have made all that clear, let’s take a look at the raw results from the Gallup poll summarized by the Saad article. The following is an illustrative graphic we developed depicting the data results in a way in which they can be better understood and analyzed.

Idiosyncrasies Inside the Polling Data

One should take notice of several alert flags inside the data. They are outlined by the following five assertions which signal where oversampling adjustment was needed in the polling regression work:

1.  14% of the respondents had never heard of nor read about UFO’s before. These respondents should have been removed from the study immediately, but were not. Moreover, these respondents were artificially added into the ‘disagree’ responses. This is a professional error in poll work. The respondents should have been excluded from the data. Below, we have done that.

2.  16% of the population has actually seen what they consider to be a UFO. That actually surprised me. This signal group must be counted because there exists an epistemic difference between an informed bias to a modus praesens and an ignorance bias to a modus absens. The latter group is not a valid signal group. This poll did not address that.

3.  The most important warning flag inside the data, was the 22% of the respondents who believe that life only exists on Earth alone, in the entire cosmos. This sol-nihilist sentiment is the dictatum of a specific religious order. This data group should have been removed from the study under the same rationale regarding ignorance, as was used to exclude the group in assertion 1. above. Below we address this adjustment which should have been compensated for through oversampling.

4.  Moreover, if we assume that 5 points of the ignorance group in assertion 1. above responded with ‘No Answer’ (as they ethically should have, but apparently most did not), and if we assume that 4 points of this group are one-in-common (overlap) with the sol-nihilist group identified in assertion 3. above – we are left with 5 percentage points of the respondents who answered the questions, but did so from a standpoint of ignorance under pretense. It is important to note that, of those who had never heard the term ‘UFO’ before – 65% (9 of 14 percentage points) were dishonest in their responses to the successive question series, making specific claims to expertise about something they had admittedly never even heard of. This is called a ‘telltale signal’ in polling research.

The dishonesty quotient grows unduly high as one moves to the right hand side (denial & fake skepticism) of the above graph. This is clearly evident in the response data. This shortfall in human integrity is solely the handiwork of the social skepticism cabal. We address this agency in the polling data below.

5.  Therefore, if we combine the 5 percentage points for exclusion from assertion 4. above, with the 22 percentage points of exclusion from the sol-nihilist religious group in assertion 3. above, we end up with a total of 27 percentage points who should not have been included inside the respondent groups. Both these respondent classes are no different in principle than a Crate-Bradley effect signal grouping – and ethically should have been excluded from the regression data. Below, we have rectified this error.

Up to 53 points of the 60% ‘disagree that UFOs are real’ response group in Poll 2,
hold their positions precisely from ignorance of even the term UFO itself (14%)
or further from being religiously trained that intelligent life only exists on Earth in the entire cosmos (48%).

This is a very big problem socially – and is the direct fault of social skepticism and the embargo influence it imparts upon the media and science.
This is called agency, and is not a valid signal in polling results.

Crate-Bradley Effect Adjustments to Eliminate Embargo-Agency Bias

Three Crate-Bradley sampling bias errors were included inside these poll results.  First including sentiment of those who had never heard of the topic. Second, including responses from those who knew nothing about the topic, but were instructed to throw the poll results. Finally, treating both of these groups as valid ‘Disagree’ sentiment signal data. While we recognize that dogmatism and social conditioning exist on both sides of this issue and as well are concerned about the small numbers of ‘I don’t know’ responses in the poll data, there exists an ethical difference between an informed-yet-mistaken hunch, versus making a circular-club-recitation claim to authority based upon a complete absence of exposure (ignorance) to a topic at all (green eggs and ham error). In reality, the former is participating in the study, the latter is not. The latter ends up constituting only a purely artificial agency-bias, which requires an oversampling or exclusion adjustment (see A Word About Polls).

One cannot capture a sentiment assay about the taste of tiramisu, among people who either don’t even know what tiramisu is, or have never even once tasted tiramisu because they were told it was made of cow manure.

Such an action would be dimwitted and unprofessional (I am not sure how the Princeton Survey Research Center even allowed this to slip by its quality control red team in the first place). This type of data respondent is typically and ethically removed from most polling data marts. We remove some (not all) of this artificial gain-boost of the latter group, from the data, below. Indeed, the Gallup Poll is called ‘How Skeptical Are Americans of UFO’s?’ – and not ‘How Many Americans are Ignorant of What the Universe or a UFO Even Is?’

One cannot answer a question about evidence for/against UFO’s if one believes that both life, and especially intelligent life, do not exist in the Universe to begin with. This is tantamount to refusal to participate in the poll. One cannot be ‘skeptical’ if one knows absolutely nothing about the topic, or already has been instructed under an agency which does not allow a respondent to answer the poll question in the first place. Would you want a poll which asked “Is Jim a good guy?’ to be responded 48% by Jim’s ex wife’s family with whom he is in a child custody battle? Of course not, as such a poll would be invalid. What if we threw in another 15 percentage point respondent group who had no idea who Jim even was at all? Moreover, what if we then counted that 15% as ‘No, Jim is not a good guy’ respondents, simply by account of their lack in knowing who Jim was to begin with (utile absentia fallacy)?  This would result in a poll in which suggests that almost two-thirds of the people who know Jim, hate Jim. This is pollster Tom Foolery and is exactly what was done inside this Gallup poll. It constitutes a common form of academic pseudoscience.

Were my catalog retailer to employ such clueless customer sentiment analytical error in its distribution list and A/B testing, we would go out of business for misinforming ourselves about our customer’s true needs and likes/dislikes. Mitigation of this species in polling bias is usually taught in undergraduate A/B analytics, polling regression and signal group analysis courses (see Stanford University course in Polling, Data and Decision Theory).4 

But in this instance, apparently because UFO’s constitute one of their pet socially primed issues, immunity from professional standards is permitted, answers have to be introduced in compliant code, and inference be drawn only slowly – all so as to avoid offending fake skeptics and to assuage their tender tantrum-throwing egos.

After all, we are looking to see what rational and informed people have to say about this subject, not the random null-informed nor children/invalids who have no idea what the Universe or a UFO even is, but just happened to answer the phone. Bodies would count, informed opinions would count less. In professional contrast, the method we employ below is not formulated under any interest in measuring an affect as to how well a particular message has been embargoed by the media. Our method only concerns the full spectrum of informed choice. We cannot afford to have people who have never tasted tiramisu, show up as part of a signal group which ‘does not like tiramisu’.

The approach adopted here nonetheless does still leave us a representative group of 33% of the rational population who believe that UFO’s are comprehensively explainable as conventional natural or man-made phenomena. A reasoned position from at least a small basis of information. One might call this a position of ignorance as well (the idea that all UFO’s are man-made or natural objects has been falsified at least 1,000 times over), however for purposes of this study, we shall only deem ignorance to constitute an individual who has never heard of nor read about the topic of UFO’s at all (assertion 1. above) or has no idea what the universe even is (assertion 3. above) – and not an opinion which is merely casually informed.

This being said, let us now consider how sentiment ranks inside the informed and rational segment of the US population.

The Real Breakout of Public Sentiment Surrounding UFO’s

Below we have redeveloped the raw poll data from Poll 1 and used it to adjust the results in order to remove Crate-Bradley effect media imbued ignorance from both Polls 1 and 2. The graphic below shows the data correctly adjusted for that static bias, by means of the removal of the 27% (ignorance and sol-nihilism bias) or 18% (sol-nihilist bias only, after overlap with the ignorance group has been removed) as applicable based upon the domain logic of the question asked.

What is demonstrably clear inside this data is the fact that:

1.  60% of the rational and informed US population believe that UFO’s are something other than a natural or man-made phenomenon.

2.  25% of the rational and informed US populace have observed something they consider to be a UFO. This is rather remarkable.

3.  A supermajority, 88% of US citizens believe that UFO’s are not imaginary nor hysteria. They believe there is something that people are seeing flying around in the skies. 28 percentage points of that 88% believe that the things flying around in our skies are man-made exclusively.

4.  93% of the US population considers it valid to hold that there exists life on other planets in the Universe – while 67 percentage points of that group believe that some of that life could also be intelligent. I remain amazed that these percentages are still this low.

5.  76% of the US population thinks that its government knows something about these phenomena, and for good or for bad, is withholding that knowledge from the American public.

6.  Moreover, I find alarm in that the ‘No/Disagree’ group inside these queries should ethically respond with anything besides ‘I do not know’ (the truth). This incumbent dishonesty stems precisely from having been taught a false form of skepticism. The social conditioning around this issue has reduced the set of ‘I do not know’ responses to a level well below what they ethically should be for these questions (from both sides). However, in the case of the modus absens claims in particular (claiming that something is not, without evidence), these are unseemly and grandiose claims to knowledge of an absence, which the claimants could not possibly have derived objectively. They have been socially primed in this response. This species of claim is wholly different than a mistaken claim from a set of positives (modus praesens).

Emotional Priming – a process of pseudo-education wherein a popular controversial issue such as Creation-Evolution, or Monsim-Dualism is framed as a whipping horse, posed in a false dilemma, so as to polarize the general public into ‘science’ and ‘woo’ camps of belief. The visceral reaction to the woo camp of belief inside academia imbues a type of anchoring bias and emotional agency on the part of those who self appoint or are tasked to ‘represent science’ – thereafter influencing their objectivity just as severely as would a religion. ​

Curiously 48 points of the 60% of the respondent group who did not believe that UFO’s were real, also did not believe there was any intelligence life in the cosmos at all, besides us.  This leaves only 12% of the population who competently live in today’s reality, and still think that UFO’s are not valid.

Skeptics claim that their thinking is representative of 60% of the American population. This is an error on their part, as the people in this signal group are not skeptics at all. Skeptics are simply taking advantage of their ignorance. They are useful idiots.

Summarizing These Results into Coherent Intelligence

Therefore, to summarize the Gallup Research Poll in terms of a single spectrum, a little bit of domain theory, some math and critical path deduction leads the honest researcher to the following conclusions about sentiment toward UFO’s on the part of the American public:

In the above gross summary, one will notice that fake skeptics and the religiously brain dead (who believe that Earth-mankind is the only intelligent life in the Universe) compose the largest component of those holding final conclusions (extraordinary claims made without a shred of evidence at all) – comprising 60% of the population. This is the irrational segment of the population: those who obsessively cling to a modus absens without any form of valid basis for such inference.

In other words, stupidity passed off as skepticism fell in at around 60% of the population.
This group was followed by the more rational ‘I do not know’ group at 7%.
Finally followed by both those who consider the subject to be real, and a fortiori those who have seen a UFO in their lifetime, at 33%.

However, if we remove those who in actuality refused to take the poll – but their numbers were mistakenly counted as having a modus absens UFO-related conclusion (the poll error called utile absentia) – in other words, exclude the brain dead 48% above, a whole new set of numbers come into light as follows:

As one can see above, a full 64% of the rational and thinking population regard the UFO subject as having validity. A mere 23% of the adult rational population regard the UFO subject to be comprehensively delusion, man made or natural phenomena. Less than a quarter of the population, assumes that ‘skepticism’ affords them permission to hide their heads in the sand.

This is great news for UFO researching skeptics, bad news for fake skeptics.

Such is the state of knowledge regarding UFO’s on the part of the American public (as represented by an adjusted Gallup scientific sampling by means of cell phone and land line). It is the mission of ethical skepticism, not to promote ideas regarding UFO’s necessarily, but rather to ensure that the dogmatic forces which seek to squelch knowledge, ironically in the name of science, are not able to play their sordid game of obfuscation. Let the chips fall where they may. We are all grown-ups (save for 48 to 60% of us).

Sixty percent of the informed and critical thinking American public believe that UFO’s constitute something other than conventional, natural or man-made phenomena. Such sentiment continues to rise, much to the chagrin of those inside the fake skepticism cabal. Does such sentiment then warrant Ockham’s Razor plurality? Are official public investigation and oversight now justified? The American public’s answer to both these questions is a resounding, ‘Yes!’. They preside as proprietary rights-holder over all the information inside this topic. Indeed, even if the issue involves matters of national security. This knowledge should not be unduly restricted from their purview, nor embargoed by forces of religion nor ignorance.

Accordingly, this is part and parcel to the fabric of our mission as ethical skeptics.

     How to MLA cite this article:

The Ethical Skeptic, “Latest Trends in Acceptance of UFO’s Not Good News for Fake Skeptics”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 9 Sep 2019; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-aan

  1. Americans Skeptical of UFOs, but Say Government Knows More, 6 Sep 2019; Lydia Saad; https://news.gallup.com/poll/266441/americans-skeptical-ufos-say-government-knows.aspx
  2. GALLUP NEWS SERVICE JUNE WAVE 2 — FINAL TOPLINE — Timberline: 937008 JT: 306 Princeton Job #: 19-06-011 Jeff Jones, Lydia Saad June 19-30, 2019; https://news.gallup.com/file/poll/266540/20190906UFOs_June%20data.pdf?g_source=link_newsv9&g_campaign=item_266441&g_medium=copy
  3. GALLUP NEWS SERVICE GALLUP POLL SOCIAL SERIES: WORK AND EDUCATION — FINAL TOPLINE — Timberline: 937008 JT: 313 Princeton Job #: 19-08-014 Jeff Jones, Lydia Saad August 1-14, 2019; https://news.gallup.com/file/poll/266543/20190906UFOs_August%20data.pdf?g_source=link_newsv9&g_campaign=item_266441&g_medium=copy
  4. Stanford University: OIT 265: Data and Decision Analysis; https://explorecourses.stanford.edu/search?view=catalog&filter-coursestatus-Active=on&page=0&catalog=&q=OIT+265%3A+Data+and+Decisions&collapse=

September 9, 2019 - Posted by | Ethical Skepticism | , , , ,

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Perry Tmanster

Beautifully written and insightful article. Says the things we all carry in our gut, but probably don’t have the tools you do, in order to prove it out on paper. I am not sure I undertand the first chart, but I get the gist of what you have done here. I always questioned whether or not these polls were holding back on the issue a bit. And now I know. Thanks ethical skeptic. TW

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