What does UFO mean?

  1. You're right, it's not the definition. But to a lot of people (I don't know the stats here but based on my experience) "U.F.O" is not an acronym where one examines each of the 3 letters seperately and literally, but instead, is a word used to connote an object in the sky that invokes highly advanced technology beyond terrestrial explanation. I suppose, we could even say that to many people, the "U" in "UFO" means "unexplainable flying object." So based on this explanation (not that it is formal or saying you necessarily must accept it), I can see why one might mistake/interchange the word "UFO" for out-of-this-world-object (or flying "saucer" if you wish).

    And no, certainly not any unidentified object ever seen is a flying saucer. Sometimes the "UFO" label is applied to meteors, sometimes the planet Venus -- neither one of which is "flying" so I think the label "UFO" fails and cannot be taken literally.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,529
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    Then obviously there are a lot of people who don't know what they're talking about. Since there are many well documented observations that lack specific explanations, unless you can prove that all atmospheric and other potentially observable phenomena have been identified, there is no justification for the assumption that all UFOs can be identified as known phenomena. But beyond that, if you go to the UFO Napster, you will see that U.F.O. is a term recognized by the United States Government, as well as by the military and intelligence communities.

    I suggest also a review of the Credible Anomalies Napster
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=58374

    If you wish to continue this, please start another thread.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  4. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    We've had this discussion before, but I'd just like to point out the other two (well, 1.5) sides of that: there are some (how many would be an enlightening stat) flying saucer proponents who use the term UFO to mean (or at least imply) flying saucers. Some may be careless, some may be ignorant, and some certainly are dishonest. For a 'nobeliever', a judgement has to be made which they are dealing with.

    And lets not forget: using the term "correctly" or not, the reason the discussion exists at all is because people are at least hoping that when the FO gets Id'd, it is positively shown to be a flying saucer. As I've pointed out before, if people were hoping to find new atmospheric phenomena (for example), they'd just call themselves meteorologists.

    In any case, if you really want to be strict about the definition, you should probably consider the history and entemology. The term was coined during Project Blue Book as a replacement for 'flying saucers' (regardless of who actually coined it, it was coined for Project Blue Book, which had the specific purpose of evaluating their threat to national security). It is a better word, to be sure, but the implication that the term is referring to possible/suspected alien spacecraft dates to its origin and because of that, even those who seem like "respectable" ufologists often use the terms interchangeably. http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc365.htm

    Interchangeable usage of the term:
    Characterization of the purpose of ufology via the questions it is to answer:
    It is fitting though - an ambiguous term for an ambiguous pursuit.

    The guy who wrote the article also understands me pretty well:
    Well - by definition or by statistics. Assuming the stats weren't falsified for the purpose of a coverup, Project Blue Book judged 94% to be identifiable as non-flying saucers (I'm not sure about the level of certainty required for such a judgement) and judged 0% to be alien spacecraft. So since there were roughly 12,600 reports, a starting assumption that a new report is probably explainable has a 94% probability of being right (caveat: on this site, such reports are typically pre-filtered) and "not identifiable as a flying saucer" assumption has a 99.992% probability of being right. And that's the reason why such starting assumtions are reasonable - just as reasonable as a starting assumption that a new gravity experiment will produce results that conform to GR.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007
  5. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,529
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    In somes cases this may be true, but you have the chicken and the egg reversed. The implication of aliens evolved due to the nature of observed phenomena. IIRC, it was the USAF [Project Sign] that first mentions aliens as a possible explanation.

    Also, some but not all observations clearly are atmospheric phenomena. Some might be cosmic phenomena for all I know [which, unlike you, I don't claim to]. UFOs are many things including ball lighthing and military aircraft. Historically, the greatest concern was that some UFOs were Russian/spy aircraft. This is why the CIA got involved.

    You are aguing about popular usage. Well, many people will tell you that Einstein said that "everything is relative". So much for popular usage. Shall we take our lead from nitwits or the facts?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007
  6. UFO is an acronym for my vehicle.
     
  7. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,529
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    Look at it this way, if we don't know how to explain an observation, we don't make assumptions about its nature. It's really very simple. Some people like Russ feel that they need to assume an explanation when we don't have one, so perhaps we need another name for this. We could call the field "assumptionology".
     
  8. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,529
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    It has an official meaning. You all keep forgetting that UFO is an term used by the USAF and the aviation industry today, and that it means exactly what it says - unidentified. If we someday positively identify a UFO as an alien spacecraft, then it would be an IFO, not a UFO. You can muck it up all that you want, but even beyond the official recognition, the word "unidentified" is self-explantory.

    In physics, the word and concept of "energy" has a specific meaning, but you will find other interpretations that have nothing to do with physics. To say that the definition in physics is somehow wrong because of popular usage, is silly, as is this discussion.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007
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