Thursday, February 7, 2008

UFO HUNTERS - SciFi - Premier

SciFi Channel - Original Air Date: 2/6/08

I reported last week that there were going to be two shows called UFO Hunters.  By luck or design, the one on the History Channel premiered first -- but only by a week.  This show, from the producers of Ghost Hunters, can probably lay claim to being the "real" UFO Hunters -- the one people hearing the title are expecting to see.  SFUFOH (do differentiate it from HCUFOH) follows the same format as the highly successful Ghost Hunters shows.  The team is composed of NY-SPI (New York Strange Phenomena Investigators).  And like GH, they all have other jobs and they don't take any money for their investigations.  Their jobs tend to be useful to their investigations, like astronomer, and private investigator.  Like GH, the team gets tips for cases, gathers, and then heads out to collect evidence and personal accounts. Like GH, they cover two cases per show.  In this show, they look into a UFO that may have crashed offshore in the Atlantic ocean, and a series of strange lights over the NY/NJ area.  The SF team does a pretty good job of investigating the first report.  The collate reports of a fireball and Navy investigations resulting in lights on the ocean.  (They even dive the ocean looking for a possible meteor.) This leaves only a red flashing beacon unexplained (though it seems likely to me that it was a passing ship).  Unfortunately, because of this one element, and some minor eyewitness contradictions, they mark the case as "unresolved," though it seemed clear to me that they'd nailed it as a fireball using scientific methods.  The second investigation quickly veers from lights in the sky to an "alien abduction" scenario.  And at this point, the show veers off the scientific rails.  Though the team professes not to know what UFOs are or where they come from, they seem to have completely bought into the alien abduction idea--and even have a member who's a hypnotist who often works with these types of cases.  I admire their determination to treat their "witness" respectfully, but I thought his description of what happened to him seemed more like a classic seizure with seizure-induced delusions than a real event.  The investigation on this case seems much less trying to find explanations, and much more about interviewing witnesses.  But as NYC astronomer Neil DeGrass Tyson points out, eyewitness reports are the lowest form of evidence in science.  As a result, this case is not even close to solved.  Let's hope in the future, the show applies more of the methods it used in the first case and less from the second.

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