Trust me, I’m a doctor

The University of Melbourne has just honored Martin Plowman with a PhD in UFOlogy.

Now this really piqued my interest! Surely for him to have earned a doctorate in the field he must have a great deal of knowledge regarding UFOs.

Dr. Plowman has never actually had any personal experience with UFOs, and he tells us that he “maintains a healthy scepticism on the possibility of their existence”. Well, let’s see if he actually IS skeptical, shall we?

In researching his thesis, Dr. Plowman traveled to Roswell, the site of the infamous “Roswell Incident”. If you do not know the back story to this one, you have been living under a rock for the past sixty years. Suffice it to say, despite all the furore surrounding the debris at Roswell, what it is, what it may have been, and so forth, the majority view of skeptics is that there is nothing extraterrestrial about it.Mac Brazel, the man who actually FOUND the debris described it as a “large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.” Just exactly how would you travel through the vacuum of space at speeds approaching that of light in a craft made of tinfoil, paper and sticks? Even if an alien made it as far as Earth in such a craft, it would disintegrate when it tried to enter the atmosphere. The mere suggestion that Plowman considered Roswell in his doctoral thesis is absurd.

This is one of the most common images available of the wreckage recovered in Roswell, this junk would not make it across my yard let alone across the universe. For an excellent look at the Roswell Incident, please listen to episode #155 of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

Plowman’s next stop was Wiltshire, England. Wiltshire has been the site of many, many crop circles. While the designs in the crop circles are complex and beautiful there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests they were actually made by beings from any other planet. In fact, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley have come forward as the originators of the idea, they have even given demonstations of how they created their circles. Despite this, “believers” assert that there is a massive conspiracy to conceal the truth, that crop circles are interstellar art. There is not one shred of testable, physical evidence to support this claim.

Far more impressive than crop circles, a CAT circle!

Unfortunately I have been unable to find any compelling evidence of alien footprints in Chile. I will continue to search, however.

Indeed, if Plowman actually possesses any skepticism on the matter whatsoever, he might realise just how ridiculous this all is. I think it would be safer to give Martin Plowman a PhD in Bullshit and leave it at that.


2 responses to “Trust me, I’m a doctor

  1. In case people didn’t know, Martin Plowman is actually a skeptic of anything relating to aliens. So I guess he is doing a good service for the scientific community. Understandable since the hard evidence has not yet arrived for scientific study.

    But I was amused to hear of his PhD on the Roswell incident. Maybe I should get a PhD on my Roswell research on shape-memory alloys. If you look more closely at the descriptions given by witnesses of the dark-grey Roswell metallic foil, scientists will notice a shape-memory response (remarkably similar to NiTi). Also notice the unusually high temperature resistance of all the materials, and extreme hardness due to close crystalline packing of the atoms to help prevent cutting by scissors and other tools. Try doing that to aluminium or tinfoil of the same newspaper thickness as the Roswell foil and tell us precisely what the result is. Do the results compare well with the Roswell materials. Probably not. But a titanium-based alloy like NiTi? Now that’s a different story.

    Has anyone in the skeptical community actually looked at a metals journal and studied shape memory alloys for a moment and looked at the history and noticed anything interesting? For example, any connections between NiTi, Wright-Field, USAF, Battelle Memorial Institute and 1947-49 period? Do a test on NiTi at the same newspaper thickness and let it activate the shape memory response at room temperature and tell us how it compares to the Roswell foil. Any differences? Then tell us. Certainly I like to know more. And tell us whether the USAF had actually used NiTi in early July 1947? And how likely NiTi could be manufactured pure enough to reveal the shape-memory response? Easy you reckon? The skeptics obviously have not done the research.

    Sure, I’m happy for people to be skeptical about Roswell. But say so with well-researched work and clear evidence as to why.

    It is a pity Martin Plowman speaks amateurish on a subject he has not done a thorough research job on.

    I do hope scientists do not follow in Martin’s footsteps.

  2. Dear SkepDetec

    A deeply funny post.

    I agree with you, the rocket in that Smashing Pumpkins music video would pass more flight tests than that piece of extraterrestrial leftover.

    On the question of bullshit PhDs, I feel that we should allow for as wide a range of topics as possible to qualify for academic scrutiny. After all, what seems fascinating is the social phenomenon of why people want so badly to believe in the existence of UFOs at all.

    What compels people a.) to trick others into believing things like crop circles (a similar sociopathic tendency I would imagine to sending fake lotto-winning emails)
    b.) for others to feel that there are supernatural causes for these events when the most casual logical deductions would prove otherwise? There is some very interesting psychological stuff going on here.

    I mean thousands of people get PhDs for impressionistic and unempirical studies of poets or existential philosophers. One might not want to spend years doing that oneself, but it still contributes to our understanding of ourselves as human beings and how we interact.


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