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"Strange" Rock

Look everybody! It’s a strange rock!

Well, folks. I suppose we were wrong about aliens. Roswell has been contacted by extraterrestrials again. The Roswell Daily Record is reporting that they’ve found a “strange rock” that is raising questions.

A strange rock with unusual magnetic properties – deeply scored, with what appears to be moon phases, a solar eclipse and the depiction of a supernova — has been unearthed on the outskirts of Roswell. Its discovery has startled researchers, scientists and all who have examined it.

If proven to be of extraterrestrial origin, it will mark the second time in less than a century that the Roswell area has received communications from outer space.

Roswell Mayor Sam D. LaGrone, who actually saw and touched the rock over the weekend, said, “It is a very strange looking rock…. I touched it, I felt it, and I just don’t see how it could have been produced.”

Well let’s see… Maybe somebody… carved it in there? Hell, a Google search for “carved rocks” yields a company that will carve rocks for you. That’s just a guess off the top of my head. Even if I hadn’t made a possible guess, “I just don’t see how it could have been produced” isn’t a very good argument. If I could say “I just don’t see how to solve this problem” on my Math homework I’m sure it’d get done a lot faster but I wouldn’t actually gain anything.

“It retains its magnetic polarity by which it will spin a compass needle and register its magnetic field on meters,” he said. The oval rock will also spin, depending on the position of a magnet over the image surface, he added.

You know… considering the fact that this rock is apparently made of iron makes that really unsurprising.

Priscilla Wolf, of Tijeras, a native American woman known to have “powers,” visited the site were the rock was found last weekend, and said she felt a vibration in her hands when she held the rock, and that “light came down from the skies” when the rock was deposited at the site.

First, I’m going to take issue with the wording of the first sentence. It says that she is “known” to have powers. There is a difference between saying “known” to have powers and “believed” to have powers. Knowledge is something that you can prove. Belief is something that you pretty much have faith in. Where is the proof that she has powers? If she had proof, wouldn’t she have won James Randi’s Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and shaken the foundations of physics?

Secondly, why should we take her word for it? She could just be saying stuff so that we don’t question her “powers.” Even if she is sincere in “feeling a vibration” that could be nothing more than a subjective experience. Human senses can be easily fooled. Phil linked to a bunch of optical illusions earlier today.

Who knows? It could just be the power of suggestion.

Once in the 8th grade we were learning how to identify different rocks. My friend picked up one which we were having quite a lot of trouble identifying and held it in her hand for a while. She reported that she felt a strange electric feeling after holding it for a while and based on that thought it was whatever they use to make batteries.

Turns out it was just galena.

It may be considered insensitive to say “it’s all just in your head” but it’s something that happens to all of us. We shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves just for being human and inevitably feeling things that aren’t there. After all, that’s what skepticism is for. It’s there to help us see through the mists of illusion.

Thank you, Roswell, for the continuance of putting forth solid evidence for extraterrestrial visitation.

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18 Comments

  1. July 15, 2008 at 3:24 pm —

    There is a difference between saying “known” to have powers and “believed” to have powers. Knowledge is something that you can prove. Belief is something that you pretty much have faith in. Where is the proof that she has powers?

    Here, here. That’s a linguistic pet peeve of mine as well. I can say that I’m “known to be a genius.” It doesn’t mean I’m actually smart enough to balance my checkbook without keeping an accountant on retainer.

  2. July 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm —

    *shakes head* That is one messed-up town. Good for a laugh if you’re passing through, but I really feel bad for the poor kids who have to grow up surrounded by all that nonsense.

  3. July 15, 2008 at 7:27 pm —

    I’d believe this if it were a part of the last Indiana Jones movie, but otherwise … yeah, not so much.

  4. Resfirma
    July 15, 2008 at 9:03 pm —

    Well I was skeptical at first. But then the Mayor said, “It is a very strange looking rock…. I touched it, I felt it, and I just don’t see how it could have been produced.”

    Obviously, it must be aliens!

    You think with the gas prices up, the tourist trade might be a little bit down in Roswell?

    Naaaah… aliens!

  5. Joy Wang
    July 16, 2008 at 8:49 am —

    Oh yes, I’m really convinced now…I dunno, can you see the moon phases and solar eclipses and supernovae that they’re talking about? Sortof like Phil’s pareidolia (sp?)posts. Hmpf.

    On an equally skeptic note, I watched a show/documentary on ESP. Meh. Not convinced. They actually showed some legit experiments that proved that ‘psychics’ used in criminal cases had a success rate comparable to that of college students that volunteered their assistance. Well, actually, both groups were given a photo of the crime scene and asked to give their ‘impressions’ on it.

    The rest of it just quoted some anecdotes about the successes of psychics, and then got into some strange bit about quantum physics and consciousness, which was entirely speculative and not evidence based. I just sat there shaking my head through the entire thing. Wonderful exercise in skepticism though.

    Cheers!
    Joy
    P.S. Can someone tell computer illiterate me how to stick a picture undermeath/next to your name (like in the comments?)

  6. truthwalker
    July 16, 2008 at 9:24 am —

    See, I like how aliens have the technology to traverse the galaxy at transrelative speeds, navigate the cosmos flawlessly, AND then forget their rock, with the phases of our moon chiseled into it. Seems perfectly reasonable. My vote is that it is alien dog coprolite.

  7. July 16, 2008 at 11:37 am —

    Hi Joy! To get an avatar, just go to http://www.gravatar.com and create a free account using the same email you use here. Upload a pic there, and it will automatically appear here!

  8. July 16, 2008 at 11:56 am —

    This kind of thing always reminds me of ghostbusters. To paraphrase Dr. Venkman, “You’re right, no HUMAN would carve rocks like this…”

  9. jtradke
    July 16, 2008 at 12:59 pm —

    They’re right! No HUMAN BEING would carve a rock like that!

    You know, if I weren’t such dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist Darwinist, I’d say that rock had a supernatural intelligent designer.

  10. jtradke
    July 16, 2008 at 1:00 pm —

    Dagnabbit…sorry able-x! Didn’t see ya there.

  11. Joy Wang
    July 16, 2008 at 4:51 pm —

    Thanks Rebecca!

    truthwalker: Then again, if these aliens really did exist, and they lived across the galaxy, why would they carve phases of our moon and our solar eclipses into their rocks? This MUST imply a benificent intelligent designer who put these rocks on Earth just to show His Oh-So-Holy-And-Magnificent Love for us! Ignore the leaps of faith and faulty logic and shoddy evidence and lack of experiments and contrasting anecdotes… (Just to make this clear, I fully support SETI and projects like it, but I don’t at all enjoy this alien visitation crap)

    Elles, I’d like to thank you for being a great role model for teen skeptics here. I thought I’d just let you know that after I read about you doing volunteer work at your local science museum in a post on your blog, I went to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philly and asked about volunteer opportunities (which I hadn’t known about earlier). I just sent in my application and I don’t know what will come of it, but hearing about your work was kinda like the catalyst. I’m still gushing in my head (I’m probably an undiagnosed schizo case) about the volunteer work, though I’m not sure where I’ll find the time.

    Cheers!
    Joy

  12. July 16, 2008 at 10:52 pm —

    But it’s so pretty! And it’s all, you know, symmetrical, and carved, and kind of mystical-looking. And since we know that HUMANS don’t produce that kind of art, and of course we don’t have the technology to carve stone, it MUST be aliens!

    If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and lives near people who are known to have “powers”, it is therefore a phoenix. Works for me …

  13. TheNerd
    July 17, 2008 at 12:38 am —

    I emailed the linked rock carvers, and asked them just how difficult a project like this would be. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

  14. Bob Magness
    July 17, 2008 at 1:46 am —

    “Zulkowski said the investigators where so impressed, they presented the rock to a number of experts, including prominent New Mexico anthropologists”

    Um, just who are these prominent anthropologists? No names? Are they afraid of being “silenced” by the Men In Black?

  15. Joy Wang
    July 17, 2008 at 9:57 am —

    Bob: Yes and no, it’s the Elders of the Evil Atheist/Big Science Conspiracy (TM) that will silence the dissenting voices of the scienftific community by denying them tenure and firing them (obviously for no reason at all) in order to advance the Atheists Plan For Global Domination! 😉

    Cheers!
    Joy

  16. July 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm —

    It’s quite obvious that the aliens who created this rock have a starship that is caught in a Tyken’s Rift. You see, they carved those two moons as a roundabout way of requesting that we shoot all our available helium into space. When their ship detects this helium, they’ll launch their own alien substance into the helium cloud to cause a massive explosion which will free their ship. Either that, or the fact that the rock is made of iron indicates that they want us to blast the song “Iron Man” into space so they can rock out. Either way, I would suggest making it so.

  17. July 18, 2008 at 8:06 pm —

    I never get over stuff like this, and I never will. That so many can look at an OBVIOUSLY FAKED artifact and not feel the slightest twinge of skepticism absolutely blows my mind right out of my skull.

    Why? Because they hold us to such a high standard of disproof, and yet their standard of proof is so low that some carved rocks constitute concrete evidence that aliens have visited earth. It’s like how the church demands one disprove God in order to justify disbelieving, but they don’t require that one prove God in order to believe.

  18. July 21, 2008 at 7:06 pm —

    That “rock” looks like kiln-fired clay/ceramic/terra cotta.

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