- Hardcover: 327 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (August 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1573922137
- ISBN-13: 978-1573922135
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ufo Sightings: The Evidence Hardcover – August 1, 1998
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About the Author
Robert Sheaffer (San Jose, CA), a leading skeptical investigator of UFOs, and a contributor to Astronomy and the Skeptical Inquirer, is a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.
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Top customer reviews
According to CSI and Sheaffer, one of the major "threats to science" are those people who believe that UFOs might represent something beyond the understanding of mainstream science. Although Sheaffer does do a credible job of proving that some of the UFO incidents in his book have a conventional explanation (such as the famous sighting that future President Jimmy Carter had in Georgia in the late sixties, which Sheaffer convincingly shows to have been Venus), some of his other "explanations" often ignore or twist the evidence to come to the conclusion Sheaffer wants.
For example, Sheaffer describes in detail the famous UFO chase in Portage County, Ohio in 1966 in which a respected policeman, Dale Spaur, and his deputy chased an extremely large and bright object across the county and into Pennsylvania before the strange object "flew straight up" and vanished. Sheaffer argues that this UFO was clearly the planet Venus, and even uses a map to show that the path Spaur followed as he chased the UFO was actually the path he would have taken if he were following Venus setting on the eastern horizon. Unfortunately, he leaves out some important testimony which contradicts this claim, among them Spaur's assertion (and his deputy's) that the UFO flew directly overhead while they were standing outside their patrol car, the fact that the object was so bright that it lit up the highway in front of them "like high noon" (Venus certainly isn't that bright!) and that another policeman who observed the object watched the UFO fly directly overhead as he was sitting in his parked car (No star or planet can fly straight over a person's head while they're standing still, be as large as a "barn", or make the loud "humming" sounds that Spaur described). Sheaffer simply ignores this testimony - for the obvious reason that it contradicts his "explanation" of the sighting. And, unfortunately, Sheaffer repeats this pattern in numerous other cases throughout the book - any eyewitness testimony or other evidence that contradicts his explanations is simply ignored.
Sheaffer also has the unfortunate habit of unnecessarily insulting or ridiculing witnesses. He makes several negative comments about Spaur's life after he saw the UFO (Spaur lost his job, began having nightmares about the UFO, and his marriage ended after he violently shook his wife a few weeks after the UFO encounter). Sheaffer seems to be implying that since Spaur has so many personal problems he can't be trusted with his UFO report. What Sheaffer leaves out is that Spaur was a highly respected policeman before the UFO incident, his marriage was stable (his wife said that Spaur "just wasn't the same" after the sighting, which led to the end of the marriage) and that Spaur suffered enormous public ridicule because he had dared to report a UFO (Spaur later said that even if a UFO landed in his backyard he wouldn't report it for fear of ridicule). Even Spaur's boss, the Chief of Police, strongly defended him. And, not even the Air Force's "Project Blue Book" staff, who were notorious for debunking all UFO incidents, ever doubted Spaur's credibility or personal honesty, as Sheaffer does.
The main problem I have with this book is that there is a real difference between being a "skeptic" (in which you approach UFOs with an objective open-mind and regard ALL beliefs about UFOs skeptically, including your own) and a "debunker" (in which you approach UFOs with a completely closed mind that examines every case with a prearranged agenda designed to "prove" that every UFO case is explainable, and you simply ignore or twist the actual evidence to prove your point). Bottom line: Sheaffer's "UFO Sightings: The Evidence" is worth reading for the correct explanations he gives to some UFO sightings. But the reader should always double-check Sheaffer's "explanations" for any evidence that has been ommitted or which contradicts Sheaffer's presumably airtight solutions. (I'd recommend reading Jerome Clark's "UFO Encyclopedia" for a more balanced account of the UFO cases which Sheaffer examines). A worthwhile book, but at times a misleading one too.
Read mainstream science and history.
Liberate yourself from Trailer Trash Beliefs!
Using different scientific laws and principles, like Occam's Razor, Schaeffer debunks the "proof" of UFOs in our world today. In each chapter, he walks through many of the classic UFO sightings and shows you how all the "facts" don't fit together or are changing as the story gets older.
At first, I read this as a believer who was calling for more rigid investigation so that we can focus our attention on what we believe to be actual unidentified flying objects. As you read, you will see that he feels that the believers, of whom he is not one, should adopt a more rigid standard in their investigations just as science does. In science, open forum is welcomed to search for truth whereas many UFO studies refuse to scrutinized and result to ad hominem attacks to protect their copyrighted property.
Scheaffer does bring in a strong argument. He does have a chapter on witchcraft in the Middle Ages to help support his argument. After reflection, it does help, but it is not immediately apparent in the writing.
If you are a believer or UFOlogist, you will not want to read this book. If you want to take a more balanced view of UFO phenomenon, this should be among the books you read.