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Go to the F-ing UFO Websites!

There are more than a hundred UFO websites and news groups!!
So please quit jamming and cramming the IMC newswire with redundant UFO posts. I don't flood the Star Trek sites with anti-war postings! I don't insist that the X-files' sites post my anti-racism rants! And I don't drown the Battleship Galactica sites with my Jose Mejia Poot posts! So, puh-lease, pick some other sight to drown in your posts: A Shakespeare site, a metaphysics site, an auto repair site, but give IMC a f-cking break!!
hello 26.Nov.2002 00:30

denise gumble

There were about 7 posts on UFOs and over 70 on other subjects. 2 of those 7 were spam ridiculing the subject so the poster could maintain his/her very fixed worldview.

Those 2 SPam posts have been removed so now we only have 5. thats 5 out of +70.

The UFO issue is important in a myrad of ways.

But it is important for no other reason than suppresed energy technologies that could help us create a true sustanable civilization possibly without the need of an oil based economy.


In other words: the UFO issue has its rightful place in the activist community and there is no "flood".

PS if you are having problems with vision I suggest you check this out: www.lenscrafters.com

Current Issues are Current Issues 26.Nov.2002 08:42

Publius

The UFO issue is an important one because it cuts to the heart of the problem of government secrecy.
I long ago reached the point where I accepted it as part of my reality. If you take off the blinders and look honestly at the available evidence it is overwhelming. Too many obviously sane, rational people - airline pilots, military pilots, ordinary people with no obvious mental defect are, and have, reporting things which do not fit the "we are the only creatures in creation" hickville paradigm.
This is the 800 pound gorilla of alternative inquiry - we are not alone. Same goes with the anomalus structures found in Lunar and Martian surface photographs.
Question: If you were trying to create a narrow Platonic/Orwellian society would you want people playing with really world shattering issues and problems? Would you want them expanding their worldview to unbounded extent? What if you were a psychotic megalomaniac with vast inherited wealth and power and were deathly afraid that someone would take it away?
To me it is "ho-hum". Of course we are being visited. That is no longer the question if you take the time to actually look at the MOUNTAINS of evidence. The real question is why is the power structure so adamant about keeping us in the dark?

Speculations:
I. It upsets the status quo of Religious Regimentation (I am not anti-religious but our Western Churches are a heritage of Roman and Feudal power structures - the Bilble you unthinking Fundies has been edited and re-written to support the elites - including the Christian Witchdoctors who call themselves Pastors. Practice your religion all you wish - but get back to the original text not the fictions written to support the power of the Roman Church.)

2. Because of our inherited and inculcated worldview ala Christianity and Judaism the revelation of other worlds and peoples would be upsetting to their dogma. So, we get: "It can't exist therefore it doesn't type pronouncements." Just as humorous is that "they are just demons" sent to betray us to the darkside.

3. Technology advancement of a worldview shattering nature. If one assumes these really are people visiting in extremely high-tech vehicles then they obviously have a power source, and other technology, light years ahead of what we have.

These are just a few of the things that a UFO as visitors from other Star Systems implies.

Open your mind and your eyes. Think about it.

UFOs & military secrets 26.Nov.2002 12:31

Orwell's long lost cousin

The UFOs are part of the military secret agenda which in my opinion, any information is relevant to IndyMedia. Go to the Disclosure Project and see what ex military generals and CIA agents have said about the military and past UFO discoveries. The prime secret is the military recovered crashed UFO vehicles and discovered energy generating and propulsion technology which if shared with the public would stop global warming and our dependence on petrochemicals. However, that is not in the best interest of the military industrial corporate complex. They want to suck every drop of oil from the planet and collect every cent from it.

Go to  http://www.disclosureproject.org

proof is in the pudding 26.Nov.2002 17:33

grok

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"
_Carl Sagan

to grock 26.Nov.2002 18:30

jungle jim

indeed they do and extrtaordinary claims with extraordinary evidence deserve extraordinary investigations.

In case you have not check out all of the latest news, we can now prove that the government has been lying about the issue on UFOs and extraterrestrials for over 50 years.

please read here:
 http://portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=35330&group=webcast


also note that the post including the so-called skeptics dictionary definition on UFOs and related phenomenon is about as dogmatic and full of holes as a sunday sermon from the southern baptists. It's sentiment of a modern day religion known as scientism and it isn't skeptical it is what we should call "psuedo skepticism".

please read that post and then share your thoughts.

alien containers 26.Nov.2002 19:54

Hale Bopp

You're a fruity kind of cake, jungle jim.


I invested a lot of time and logic in my refutation of the UFO verbage, but to no avail. It seems you missed your flight.

================================




1.
In the early 1970's, two individuals (my task partner and myself) from the Evolutionary Level Above Human (the Kingdom of Heaven) incarnated into (moved into and took over) two human bodies that were in their forties. I moved into a male body, and my partner, who is an Older Member in the Level Above Human, took a female body. (We called these bodies "vehicles," for they simply served as physical vehicular tools for us to wear while on a task among humans. They had been tagged and set aside for our use since their birth.)

2.
We brought to Earth with us a crew of students whom we had worked with (nurtured) on Earth in previous missions. They were in varying stages of metamorphic transition from membership in the human kingdom to membership in the physical Evolutionary Level Above Human (what your history refers to as the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven).


3.
It seems that we arrived in Earth's atmosphere between Earth's 1940's and early 1990's. We suspect that many of us arrived in staged spacecraft (UFO) crashes and many of our discarded bodies (genderless, not belonging to the human species), were retrieved by human authorities (government and military).


4.
Other crews from the Level Above Human preceded our arrival and "tagged" - placed a deposit "chip" - in each of the vehicles (bodies) that we would individually incarnate into, when that instruction would be given. These "chips" set aside those bodies for us.


 http://www.wave.net/upg/gate/95upd96.htm
alien containers
alien containers

DISINFO 26.Nov.2002 22:01

I bet no one forms an actual comment to this

You know, some of our more paranoid friends here on indymedia might cry out CoIntelPro in response to this hale bop post. This is not the case.

Real Cointelpro don't need to hunker down on progressive news media websites to spread disinformation and lies to make legitimate research look bad. They let people like you do the dirty work.

They allow the very natural culture of fear and myopia of scientism and religious dogma prevent, or at least, attempt to prevent getting this information out to the public without the usual tabloid spin.

also, Cointelpro wouldn't be so obvious. They would use, more or less, the same trick of flooding the channel with lies and sensational crap but they would use CURRENT lies and sensational crap.


One must wonder why someone would be so zealous in their attempts to sway attention back to lies.

Why don't you let the people get real information without vacuous rhetoric and outright lies? I mean, what you are doing, essentially is an attempt to deprive people of getting a direct channel of information and making their own opinions by making noise.

You Claim

"I invested a lot of time and logic in my refutation of the UFO verbiage, but to no avail. It seems you missed your flight."

interestingly enough The only person who has spending any time and 'logic' was MR.Confab Meaning you must be non other than ...MR Confab! well, maybe not and it really doesn't matter.


Time and Logic?

Well, not really.
(If this is confab) You made two lengthy posts one appropriated from the so-called skeptics dictionary -a post that didn't even reflect on the matter at hand, mind you.

You posted a discussion on the likelihood of interstellar travel and how it would be done -Another post that didn't even reflect on the matter at hand.

And You also posted a lot of conjecture and most of that conjecture was based wild speculation and assumption. (Who is the skeptic and analytic one here? ) You then go on to try and paint me as a "kook" or "fruitcake" behind the wall of anonymity and with references to old news that has been proven a lie! Very suspicious behavior from a person who claims to be Mr. Objective and scientific.

Still no one has offered one shred of evidence suggesting that the FOIA doc that I posted (with link to actual .gov website) was in any way fake and You couldn't even bother to respond the lengthy roster of public military, intel and NASA officials that YOU asked for.

Aside from a few snarky remarks, I pulled no punches so, why are you?

I challenge you to do better than this.

IF anyone would like to see the original post and our dialog can do so here:
 http://portland.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=35330&group=webcast

Sagan was a stuffed shirt shill 26.Nov.2002 22:22

Diogenes

Sagan's comment was very witty, and very false. Any factual claim requires the same burden of proof as any other theory. If you wish to forestall debate one way to do it is to set the standard for your opponent in the debate so high that it is unreachable. Sagan was in the business of shilling for the establishment point of view. His statement, often Parroted by debunkers short on facts, logic, and original thought, is logically null and void. Either there is enough evidence or there is not. Either it is true or it is not. The level of evidence required is enough to show convincingly that the proposition is proven or not proven; no more, and no less.
And in any event what defines an "extraordinary claim". Is an extraordinary claim any thought put forth by anyone who dares to think for themselves and actually decide based upon the CURRENTLY AVAILABLE evidence? Is it anyone who dares to disagree with the academic police?
As for the rest of giggle gaggle - you prove nothing other than you have a juvenile sense of humor.

another dimension 27.Nov.2002 02:27

who do I want to be today?

"One must wonder why someone would be so zealous in their attempts to sway attention back to lies."

Because we're screwing the planet at an astonishing rate, and the only thing capable of doing anything about it is our species.


You see, JJ, apart from the logistical improbabilitites associated with hurling an intelligent organic product of Darwinian Evolution from one G4 solar system to another, not to mention the absence of von-Neuman probes in our system, we have nothing more than UNSUBSTANTIATED REPORTS (ie: alpha numeric representations) of a phenomena that has an irrational and inexplicable fascination with the United States military thugs, including that incomprehensibly stupid FOIA document alluding to little saucermen downed by--of all things--a radar system!


Are your theories based on tangible reproducible evidence?
Are your theories falsifiable?
Who is being rational here?



Cheers,

~ Turing/John Flashcroft/Ariel Fleisher/Counterfreep/Hale Bopp and other confabulations.

:)

ad hominem 27.Nov.2002 02:36

Hale Bopp

Sagan the establishment clown?


Oh, puhleeease!!


Sagan on Cannabis:
========
I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I've had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds. A sense of what the world is really like can be maddening; cannabis has brought me some feelings for what it is like to be crazy, and how we use that word 'crazy' to avoid thinking about things that are too painful for us. In the Soviet Union political dissidents are routinely placed in insane asylums. The same kind of thing, a little more subtle perhaps, occurs here: 'did you hear what Lenny Bruce said yesterday? He must be crazy.' When high on cannabis I discovered that there's somebody inside in those people we call mad.
[...]
There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we're down the next day.
==========================


Sagan on "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam":
==========================

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
=========================

Magic 27.Nov.2002 09:07

Diogenes

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clark

One of the problems with debating true believing debunkers is that they seem to operate from the old dictum relied upon by all dogmatists: "My mind is made up now don't confuse me with the facts."

The standards used for validating a laboratory experiment are not the only possible standard by which a piece of data can be proven or disproven. When observing phenomena outside of a laboratory the standard becomes ludicrous and laughable. If one is observing spontaneous phenomena in the physical universe the standard more realistically becomes:

What is the observed phenemomena?
Defining the observed phenomena based upon the observations.
Can it be explained by known data?
If it cannot be explained by known data then develop a hypothesis to explain the data.
Test the hypothesis against the known data. Does it explain it? Is anything left unaccounted for? There are other tests one can apply but this suffices for destroying the mindless robotically repeated argument listed above.

To primitives in New Guinea during WWII the airplanes ariving with supplies for military forces fighting the Japanese were a magical device bringing wealth (Cargo). Airplanes were beyond the experience of these very low tech tribespeople. So their explanation was that the airplanes were a gift of God. Therefrom we get Cargo Cults.
How does this relate to the thread?:
The debunker, as opposed to an open minded skeptic saying "prove it", is interested only in explaining away phenenomena which disagrees with the way they want the world to be. Not the way it is. They will go to great lengths and endless contortions to avoid having to reasess their worldview to accomodate data which contradicts that worldview.

When two datums are mutually contradictory the one thing we can know for sure is that one, or both, are false.

Becoming lost in the maunderings of ones chemical experiences does not constitute deep thought. Would you like to hear about the time I saw the elves in the shoe shop?

I thought not.

Sagan was an apologist, and an effective one, for the "mainstream" academics. He spent his life largely defending the status quo. For a more reasoned and realistic approach try reading "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn.

What we know determines what we see, and when that changes everything changes. Paraphrase of Historian and Documentarian James Burke

how dare you? 27.Nov.2002 09:18

inhibitory feedback

Oddly enough, there were no cargo cults because the people of New Guinea noticed that other HUMANS were responsible for the flights.


Where's your reproducible, tangible real-world evidence for UFO phenomena?


Where are the von-Neuman probes?



All thought is bio-chemistry. Where is your evidence against Sagan?

ps 27.Nov.2002 09:30

inhibitory feedback

"What is the observed phenemomena?"

Utterances, text and very dubious "photographs" from photon capturing devices.


You got something better yet?




Life: a network of inhibitory feedback mechanisms subordinate to and resulting in a positive feedback mechanism; a system that acts to preserve its identity

How dare YOU, poster! 27.Nov.2002 11:06

Agent Orange

1 We are very close (on galactic time scales) to the level of technology

that would allow us to build von Neuman (self-replicating) probes.

2 Such probes reproducing at exponetial rates could quickly search through

the entire galaxy.

3 We have never seen or heard from such a probe built by others.

4 We must be alone.

These are the assumptions of mr confab. I must say they are not airtight. Right at assumption #1 we have a problem: the technology is not here and we can therefore not assess it's applicability let alone it's assumed inevitability in other species.

For the Natives of the Americas, the arrival of Cortez was not a reproducable, testable phenomenon. Even if Cortez decided not to stop and some of the Americans saw his ships off shore the idea of such anomolous data needing to be reproducable and testable is insane.

My point is that we do not have our typical role as God-like investigators controling all the variables. We have no control over the behavior of these strange lights, but there is considerable evidence for their intelligence.

Oh, and "'photographs' from photon capturing devices" ARE PHYSICAL evidence. The dubiousness of these photographs decreases as the amount of them increases from a variety of witnesses schooled in recognizing normal aerial phenomenon. Radar is physical evidence.

I can tell that confab is very interested in astronomy and feels quite offended that he/she has been unable to enlighten us through first psuedo-logic and then derision.

I noticed that there was no response to the most rigorously documented flight of JAL1628 the details of which can be found here: http://brumac.8k.com/JAL1628/Jal1628.html

So, is the evidence you asked us to provide against Sagan that of the "reproducible, tangible real-world" type or is there a different standard of proof you would apply to this different sort of question?

If you don't think we need to dig up Mr. Sagan and put him through a series of peer-reviewed tests then you understand what it means for something to have differing standards of proof for differing types of investigative scenerios.

You are not a skeptic, you are a fanatic. This is evidenced by your contortions to do anything but consider the data posted by several people you believe should be in the Heavan's Gate cult.

Take two of these and call me in the morning. 27.Nov.2002 12:00

Diogenes

Dear Orange - Well said.

Dear inhibitory fulminations:

Inflammatory rhetoric - long on inhibitions and short on analysis.

Cargo Cults receive their first mention in a 1945 article by Lamont Lindstrom published in a Colonial publication "Pacific Islands Monthly". Vailala Madness as it is also known was further chronicled by F. E. Williams Anthropologist to the government of Papua New Guinea. There is a wealth of information on the subject. May I suggest you read some of it?

"First get your facts straight and then you can distort them as much as you please." - Mark Twain

You are welcome to believe that you are a Skinnerian Biologic Automaton if you wish. Do you salivate when you hear a bell? It has been my experience that debunkers frequently seem to have definite fear of acknowledging the spiritual side of existence. If you wish to believe that you are solely a sack of meat - go for it. But don't pretend it is science - there is NO data proving the hypothesis. There is a lot of densely worded conjecture and supposition but no beef.

As for Von-Neuman probes - his theorizing relies upon the assumption that human technology as it existed in the 1950's, as he understood it, was at or near the pinnacle of technologic achievement. Further it assumes that another civilization would send an unmanned probe in preference to a scouting party and that they would wish to make contact with the Barbarians (us). [Alternatively such a probe could have come at a time when the primitives on this planet did not recognize it for what it was, or that the government (also primitive) locked it away for fear of upsetting the debunkers.]
One key assumption implied is that the speed of light is a limiting factor and that this would isolate civilizations existing over interstellar distances. (The speed of light as a limit is an unproved theory and in fact there is a growing body of evidence that would suggest that it is NOT.) We are still taking baby steps when it comes to space travel. Assuming our current limitations for another civilization is unwarranted. Given the current estimates for the age of the Universe, and that a high tech civilization can go from horse and buggy to a Man on the Moon is less than 70 years one must question the assumption that another civilization could not have surpassed our current capabilites aeons ago. Von Neuman was a brilliant Mathematician but was nevertheless constrained by our understanding at the time. I would simply add that assuming that our current level of technology is the apex of achievement is much like the closing of the U.S. Patent Office in the 1880's because everything that could possibly be invented had been.

Because it amuses me to answer:
The observed phenomena are Unidentified Flying Objects exhibiting characteristics not known to be achievable by any domestically constructed craft.
Some of the observed Characteristics:
1. Travel at a high rate of speed (clocked in excess of 9000 mph and greater).
2. Rapid maneuvering such as making right angle turns at speeds that would turn a normal person into jelly. (If they are manned then this implies a technology sufficient to counteract the G-forces such a maneuver entails.)
3. A form not congruent with known aircraft. Reports by rational individuals (and validated photographs) show a variety of shapes; spherical, cylindrical, oblate, saucer like, triangular, and cigar- shaped just to name some.

There are other associated observations but I am sure you are capable of looking them up.

The often stated presumption of debunkers is purely circular and can be stated as: You would have to be nuts to see a UFO so therefore if you see a UFO you are nuts. Put a sock in it.

I would simply challenge people to look at the available evidence and decide for themselves. I don't require the validation of the Flat Earth Society.

all depressed now 27.Nov.2002 18:55

hmmm, depression

{The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.}

--so this is the truth--now, tell us what we want to hear?

Dear Julia 27.Nov.2002 20:35

Richard Dawkins

Dear Juliet,

Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me. Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know? How do we know, for instance, that the stars, which look like tiny pinpricks in the sky, are really huge balls of fire like the sun and are very far away? And how do we know that Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the sun?

The answer to these questions is "evidence." Sometimes evidence means actually seeing ( or hearing, feeling, smelling..... ) that something is true. Astronauts have travelled far enough from earth to see with their own eyes that it is round. Sometimes our eyes need help. The "evening star" looks like a bright twinkle in the sky, but with a telescope, you can see that it is a beautiful ball - the planet we call Venus. Something that you learn by direct seeing ( or hearing or feeling..... ) is called an observation.

Often, evidence isn't just an observation on its own, but observation always lies at the back of it. If there's been a murder, often nobody (except the murderer and the victim!) actually observed it. But detectives can gather together lots or other observations which may all point toward a particular suspect. If a person's fingerprints match those found on a dagger, this is evidence that he touched it. It doesn't prove that he did the murder, but it can help when it's joined up with lots of other evidence. Sometimes a detective can think about a whole lot of observations and suddenly realise that they fall into place and make sense if so-and-so did the murder.

Scientists - the specialists in discovering what is true about the world and the universe - often work like detectives. They make a guess ( called a hypothesis ) about what might be true. They then say to themselves: If that were really true, we ought to see so-and-so. This is called a prediction. For example, if the world is really round, we can predict that a traveller, going on and on in the same direction, should eventually find himself back where he started.When a doctor says that you have the measles, he doesn't take one look at you and see measles. His first look gives him a hypothesis that you may have measles. Then he says to himself: If she has measles I ought to see...... Then he runs through the list of predictions and tests them with his eyes ( have you got spots? ); hands ( is your forehead hot? ); and ears ( does your chest wheeze in a measly way? ). Only then does he make his decision and say, " I diagnose that the child has measles. " Sometimes doctors need to do other tests like blood tests or X-Rays, which help their eyes, hands, and ears to make observations.

The way scientists use evidence to learn about the world is much cleverer and more complicated than I can say in a short letter. But now I want to move on from evidence, which is a good reason for believing something , and warn you against three bad reasons for believing anything. They are called "tradition," "authority," and "revelation."

First, tradition. A few months ago, I went on television to have a discussion with about fifty children. These children were invited because they had been brought up in lots of different religions. Some had been brought up as Christians, others as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Sikhs. The man with the microphone went from child to child, asking them what they believed. What they said shows up exactly what I mean by "tradition." Their beliefs turned out to have no connection with evidence. They just trotted out the beliefs of their parents and grandparents which, in turn, were not based upon evidence either. They said things like: "We Hindus believe so and so"; "We Muslims believe such and such"; "We Christians believe something else."

Of course, since they all believed different things, they couldn't all be right. The man with the microphone seemed to think this quite right and proper, and he didn't even try to get them to argue out their differences with each other. But that isn't the point I want to make for the moment. I simply want to ask where their beliefs come from. They came from tradition. Tradition means beliefs handed down from grandparent to parent to child, and so on. Or from books handed down through the centuries. Traditional beliefs often start from almost nothing; perhaps somebody just makes them up originally, like the stories about Thor and Zeus. But after they've been handed down over some centuries, the mere fact that they are so old makes them seem special. People believe things simply because people have believed the same thing over the centuries. That's tradition.

The trouble with tradition is that, no matter how long ago a story was made up, it is still exactly as true or untrue as the original story was. If you make up a story that isn't true, handing it down over a number of centuries doesn't make it any truer!

Most people in England have been baptised into the Church of England, but this is only one of the branches of the Christian religion. There are other branches such as Russian Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, and the Methodist churches. They all believe different things. The Jewish religion and the Muslim religion are a bit more different still; and there are different kinds of Jews and of Muslims. People who believe even slightly different things from each other go to war over their disagreements. So you might think that they must have some pretty good reasons - evidence - for believing what they believe. But actually, their different beliefs are entirely due to different traditions.

Let's talk about one particular tradition. Roman Catholics believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was so special that she didn't die but was lifted bodily in to Heaven. Other Christian traditions disagree, saying that Mary did die like anybody else. These other religions don't talk about much and, unlike Roman Catholics, they don't call her the "Queen of Heaven." The tradition that Mary's body was lifted into Heaven is not an old one. The bible says nothing on how she died; in fact, the poor woman is scarcely mentioned in the Bible at all. The belief that her body was lifted into Heaven wasn't invented until about six centuries after Jesus' time. At first, it was just made up, in the same way as any story like "Snow White" was made up. But, over the centuries, it grew into a tradition and people started to take it seriously simply because the story had been handed down over so many generations. The older the tradition became, the more people took it seriously. It finally was written down as and official Roman Catholic belief only very recently, in 1950, when I was the age you are now. But the story was no more true in 1950 than it was when it was first invented six hundred years after Mary's death.

I'll come back to tradition at the end of my letter, and look at it in another way. But first, I must deal with the two other bad reasons for believing in anything: authority and revelation.

Authority, as a reason for believing something, means believing in it because you are told to believe it by somebody important. In the Roman Catholic Church, the pope is the most important person, and people believe he must be right just because he is the pope. In one branch of the Muslim religion, the important people are the old men with beards called ayatollahs. Lots of Muslims in this country are prepared to commit murder, purely because the ayatollahs in a faraway country tell them to.

When I say that it was only in 1950 that Roman Catholics were finally told that they had to believe that Mary's body shot off to Heaven, what I mean is that in 1950, the pope told people that they had to believe it. That was it. The pope said it was true, so it had to be true! Now, probably some of the things that that pope said in his life were true and some were not true. There is no good reason why, just because he was the pope, you should believe everything he said any more than you believe everything that other people say. The present pope ( 1995 ) has ordered his followers not to limit the number of babies they have. If people follow this authority as slavishly as he would wish, the results could be terrible famines, diseases, and wars, caused by overcrowding.

Of course, even in science, sometimes we haven't seen the evidence ourselves and we have to take somebody else's word for it. I haven't, with my own eyes, seen the evidence that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Instead, I believe books that tell me the speed of light. This looks like "authority." But actually, it is much better than authority, because the people who wrote the books have seen the evidence and anyone is free to look carefully at the evidence whenever they want. That is very comforting. But not even the priests claim that there is any evidence for their story about Mary's body zooming off to Heaven.

The third kind of bad reason for believing anything is called "revelation." If you had asked the pope in 1950 how he knew that Mary's body disappeared into Heaven, he would probably have said that it had been "revealed" to him. He shut himself in his room and prayed for guidance. He thought and thought, all by himself, and he became more and more sure inside himself. When religious people just have a feeling inside themselves that something must be true, even though there is no evidence that it is true, they call their feeling "revelation." It isn't only popes who claim to have revelations. Lots of religious people do. It is one of their main reasons for believing the things that they do believe. But is it a good reason?

Suppose I told you that your dog was dead. You'd be very upset, and you'd probably say, "Are you sure? How do you know? How did it happen?" Now suppose I answered: "I don't actually know that Pepe is dead. I have no evidence. I just have a funny feeling deep inside me that he is dead." You'd be pretty cross with me for scaring you, because you'd know that an inside "feeling" on its own is not a good reason for believing that a whippet is dead. You need evidence. We all have inside feelings from time to time, sometimes they turn out to be right and sometimes they don't. Anyway, different people have opposite feelings, so how are we to decide whose feeling is right? The only way to be sure that a dog is dead is to see him dead, or hear that his heart has stopped; or be told by somebody who has seen or heard some real evidence that he is dead.

People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise, you' d never be confident of things like "My wife loves me." But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little titbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn't a purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.

Sometimes people have a strong inside feeling that somebody loves them when it is not based upon any evidence, and then they are likely to be completely wrong. There are people with a strong inside feeling that a famous film star loves them, when really the film star hasn't even met them. People like that are ill in their minds. Inside feelings must be backed up by evidence, otherwise you just can't trust them.

Inside feelings are valuable in science, too, but only for giving you ideas that you later test by looking for evidence. A scientist can have a "hunch'" about an idea that just "feels" right. In itself, this is not a good reason for believing something. But it can be a good reason for spending some time doing a particular experiment, or looking in a particular way for evidence. Scientists use inside feelings all the time to get ideas. But they are not worth anything until they are supported by evidence.

I promised that I'd come back to tradition, and look at it in another way. I want to try to explain why tradition is so important to us. All animals are built (by the process called evolution) to survive in the normal place in which their kind live. Lions are built to be good at surviving on the plains of Africa. Crayfish to be good at surviving in fresh, water, while lobsters are built to be good at surviving in the salt sea. People are animals, too, and we are built to be good at surviving in a world full of ..... other people. Most of us don't hunt for our own food like lions or lobsters; we buy it from other people who have bought it from yet other people. We ''swim'' through a "sea of people." Just as a fish needs gills to survive in water, people need brains that make them able to deal with other people. Just as the sea is full of salt water, the sea of people is full of difficult things to learn. Like language.

You speak English, but your friend Ann-Kathrin speaks German. You each speak the language that fits you to '`swim about" in your own separate "people sea." Language is passed down by tradition. There is no other way . In England, Pepe is a dog. In Germany he is ein Hund. Neither of these words is more correct, or more true than the other. Both are simply handed down. In order to be good at "swimming about in their people sea," children have to learn the language of their own country, and lots of other things about their own people; and this means that they have to absorb, like blotting paper, an enormous amount of traditional information. (Remember that traditional information just means things that are handed down from grandparents to parents to children.) The child's brain has to be a sucker for traditional information. And the child can't be expected to sort out good and useful traditional information, like the words of a language, from bad or silly traditional information, like believing in witches and devils and ever-living virgins.

It's a pity, but it can't help being the case, that because children have to be suckers for traditional information, they are likely to believe anything the grown-ups tell them, whether true or false, right or wrong. Lots of what the grown-ups tell them is true and based on evidence, or at least sensible. But if some of it is false, silly, or even wicked, there is nothing to stop the children believing that, too. Now, when the children grow up, what do they do? Well, of course, they tell it to the next generation of children. So, once something gets itself strongly believed - even if it is completely untrue and there never was any reason to believe it in the first place - it can go on forever.

Could this be what has happened with religions ? Belief that there is a god or gods, belief in Heaven, belief that Mary never died, belief that Jesus never had a human father, belief that prayers are answered, belief that wine turns into blood - not one of these beliefs is backed up by any good evidence. Yet millions of people believe them. Perhaps this because they were told to believe them when they were told to believe them when they were young enough to believe anything.

Millions of other people believe quite different things, because they were told different things when they were children. Muslim children are told different things from Christian children, and both grow up utterly convinced that they are right and the others are wrong. Even within Christians, Roman Catholics believe different things from Church of England people or Episcopalians, Shakers or Quakers , Mormons or Holy Rollers, and are all utterly covinced that they are right and the others are wrong. They believe different things for exactly the same kind of reason as you speak English and Ann-Kathrin speaks German. Both languages are, in their own country, the right language to speak. But it can't be true that different religions are right in their own countries, because different religions claim that opposite things are true. Mary can't be alive in Catholic Southern Ireland but dead in Protestant Northern Ireland.

What can we do about all this ? It is not easy for you to do anything, because you are only ten. But you could try this. Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself:

"Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority, or revelation?"

And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: "What kind of evidence is there for that?" And if they can't give you a good answer, I hope you'll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.

Your loving

Daddy