This is a very strange and incomprehensible universe -- or, I should say, collection of universes -- but the secularists feel better believing it's predictable and understandable.This is in defense of the reality of alien abductions. Oddly, though, I found myself agreeing that our universe is strange and incomprehensible. I immediately flashed back to a passage from James Randi's Flim-Flam!, talking about the Cottingly Fairy hoax. this is the case where two little girls faked photographs of fairies, and got the endorsement of Sir Arthur Connan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes:
England at that time was not yet ready to mature out of the mindset that Queen Victoria had left as her hallmark: the notion that the world was a rather predictable place and that everything was secure and stable. Little girls were always innocent and frivolous. Evil men had heavy brows and wore black. People were forever classified by birth and education. And so it went. It was the tenor of the time.Among the naive assumptions made in this case was that little girls would not fake photographs, and that moreover they would not have the required skill (one of the girls had worked in a photographers shop).
Holmes himself, though apparently an intellect of huge proportions, could not have survived outside the fictional world that Doyle wove about him. For his deductions to be correct, the consistency of his world was absolutely necessary. People in particular had to conform to type; otherwise Holmes would have been hopelessly wrong. It was just this rather naively invented universe that Doyle imagined into existence and projected about himself, and it accounts in large measure for his fanciful interpretation of phenomenon that he came upon only late in life - the wonders of spiritualism.
As strange as fairies and UFOs may seem, in some respects in the universe is stranger than proponents of such things realize. They imagine a universe where simple, one-and-for-all proof of their claims is possible, but there are too many uncertainties for this to be so. Children commit fraud as readily as adults, hypnosis generates false memories of alien abduction and satanic rituals, frauds devise mind-boggling slight of hand performances, oddities of human perception make lights in the sky perform seemingly impossible manuevers, and urban legends are generated at blinding speed. The list goes on and on.
This is the strength of science. Any given experiment may be the result of fraud or incompetence. What people sometimes fail to realize is that science does not hinge on single experiments. Science is, at a minimum, about repeatable experiments. More than that, though, it is about finding new ways to check a claim once it has been made, and then discovering more and more about the thing under study. This is what gives us well-supported theories that are the closest thing to certainties in this world - not the one knock-down experiment.