In remarks certain to be a bit unpopular among UFO researchers, conspiracy theorists, and "experiencers" (what alien abduction victims call themselves), noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson last week firmly insisted that there is no hard scientific evidence that UFOs (unidentified flying objects) have been and/or are presently visiting Earth and its people. He said that even though there is increasing evidence pointing to the possibility that humanity is not alone in the universe, there still is not scientifically verifiable proof. And when it comes to aliens piloting starships to Earth, where's the proof?
Making an appearance on C-SPAN's In Depth, Neil DeGrasse Tyson stated that he is not in the least convinced that technologically advanced aliens have visited Earth. As reported by the Daily Express, he further stated that UFO researchers -- ufologists -- have no evidence to the contrary.
"What the UFO community puts forth as evidence is weak on a level that, in any scientific circle, would be kicked out of the lab room."
Most UFO reports are from individuals or groups. Tyson pointed out that eyewitness accounts are not the most reliable sources. And given that the objects in question are simply unidentified, he says it takes a huge jump to suggest that the object is an alien craft.
"I am not saying you didn't see it - I'm simply saying you cannot present that as evidence for something you want all of us to believe. I need better data."
The problem, Tyson finds, is that the more bizarre or out-of-the-ordinary the sighting is, the less stock he places in the witnessing. And that includes photographic or video evidence.
"And as your claim gets more and more extraordinary, the less confidence I have," he said. "Now you have taken a picture of something you don't understand - it is better than eyes, so what is it - it's unidentified - that is what the U stands for - we don't know what it is, it's a mystery."
The astrophysicist explained that the UFO sighting phenomenon was simply people seeing things they didn't understand, like the often-viewed and often-misidentified (as UFOs) circular-shaped lenticular or orographic clouds, but still wanted to believe they had witnessed a "UFO mothership."
"If you are susceptible to wanting this to be true, then that is the mothership," he said, effectively defining an individual likely to fall prey to confirmation bias, the psychological disposition individuals have for approaching new information or evidence as confirming already existing beliefs, theories, and/or experiences.
Tyson also dismissed testimonies from military pilots and officials (not to mention airline pilots, who are often former military pilots) -- individuals whose reports UFO researchers often present as irrefutable -- who have claimed to see UFOs.
"I don't care if you are a military pilot, you are still human and no less susceptible," he said.
And yet, UFOs aside, Tyson believes that the evidence points to alien life. He told In Depth earlier that given such life-producing substances as carbon abound in the universe and that the universe is 14 billion-years-old, he believes that there has been ample time for "all manner of creatures" to emerge, especially microorganisms.
Tyson is also dismissive of alien abductees (experiencers) and their accounts. With modern proclivities toward photographing and videotaping everything, he asks where is the video evidence of an abductee being aboard an alien spacecraft. Barring that, he suggests, to make the account verifiable, take something from inside the alien craft.
"If you have been abducted by aliens get some video footage, and get other people to get some video footage. Grab something off the shelf - say look what I've stolen - take it to the lab to see if it is alien manufactured - we are still waiting for that to happen."
Fans of Neil deGrasse Tyson will undoubtedly recognize the famed astrophysicist's call for more evidence than eyewitness testimony or a questionably corroborative blurry photography (or shaky video). He explains it as humanity being psychologically prone to use the "argument from ignorance," or the fallacious "assumption of a conclusion or fact based primarily on lack of evidence to the contrary." Over the years, he's often prompted his audiences to acquire tangible evidence -- such as an alien ashtray -- that they've been aboard an alien ship.But that does not mean he believes they have visited Earth in what are customarily referred to as UFOs. At the same time, he also does not rule out the possibility that the evidence will one day be presented that there exists alien life and that such living beings might one day visit Earth (or have left behind evidence that they once visited our planet).
"I would love to meet some aliens, but have such low confidence in your claims," he said. "The day you find an alien - ideally, in fact, bring the alien and you are good to go."
With Neil deGrasse Tyson, the existence of UFOs and aliens are put to the same test as everything else -- scientific proof.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]