Wednesday, March 5, 2008

UFO HUNTERS - Hist. - Cops vs. UFOs

History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/5/08

Yes, I find myself watching this show again. Think of it as the fascination that some people have with road accidents. (Traffic collisions as they say in Hot Fuzz.) Those of you who have been reading my reviews of this show will not be surprised that this episode starts with a Daytona Beach case from 1991 in which a surveillance helicopter picks up a dumbell-shaped UFO on infrared camera--though they didn't see anything visually. You also probably know how I feel about evidence which technology catches that wasn't observed at all by a reliable witness. But, as usual, the show guys "investigate" and decide it couldn't be anything but a UFO. Amazingly, though, the scientist declares, this case too old to effectively investigate. Yow. Good thing they only took 20 minutes of the show, then. From there, they move to UFOs observed by British Police; there's an official unofficial police reporting site for UFOs in the UK. First up, a mysterious hovering light on a video. Despite tracking down the location of the video (though not going there on a map), the team decides they can't determine what it is -- though they're sure it's not a plane or astronomical object. Then they talk to a former officer who has a wild story about the UFO, but no proof there, either of the UFO or of time loss/abduction. After that, they hear of a UFO at Stonehenge in 1987 seen by many cops -- though only one is interviewed. The cop says the UFO made a sharp 90-degree turn which no plane could do. Other police refuse to come forward, but the one witness speculates the UFO seemed to be flying in a mapping pattern. (Though what that is or why the cop thinks it is not shared.) The team speculates that the UFO may have been homing in on the sacred geometry of Stonehenge; that's right, the monument is a UFO signpost. So, they build a replica of Stonehenge with acrylic and mirrors and shoot lasers around it. As one of the team points out, "This is all hypothetical." Well, at least this time they admit it. And yes, it is all as silly as it seems. Amazingly, they come back to the helicopter sighting at the end of the show. Almost as amazingly, the crew -- for once -- manages to re-create the sighting fairly convincingly by de-focusing the IR camera. But then the crew refuses to conclude that's what the film is. After all, it just couldn't be that, because the witnesses don't think it was. Evidence be damned; witness opinions are what counts. I remind my readers of Neil Degrasse Tyson's statement that "Eyewitness reports are the lowest form of evidence in science" and viewed as practically worthless. Too bad this team of UFO Hunters seems willfully ignorant of that.

This would probably be a good time to mention one of my ongoing problems with this show: the recreations. Every week, we get a CGI recreation of the incidents described in the show. Trouble is, where the witnesses describe lights, we get spaceships a la George Lucas with beautiful surfaces and flashing lights. A triangle of lights? We get something like an Imperial Cruiser. A cigar shaped light? We get one with lights and windows and all sorts of things. And when the movement of a UFO is described, we get these amazing Star Wars exaggerated movements. One 90-degree turn? Make that dozens! the more the merrier. The point is, that the recreations always support the show's most outlandish theories and interpretations. Watching the recreations, you'd be hard pressed to reach any conclusion except that the sightings were caused by alien spaceships. And that's what the show wants; more true believers to drum up ratings and buy UFO Magazine.

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