What does this really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it. I would say that the Case Management System (CMS) that MUFON employs to gather firsthand data, or knowledge, on UFOs is such a system, or organized body of knowledge. And it will be even better with the NEW Global UFO Database being designed and built with funds generously donated by people like you and me.
Scientific Method Steps
Reading this case an investigator may develop the Hypothesis (this word basically means a possible solution to the problem) that the object sighted was a Chinese lantern. With this as the hypothesis she/he can Predict how the object should behave. A Chinese lantern will usually flicker as it is blown by the wind. It will also move in the same direction and speed as the wind, and the flame will eventually die out as the wick burns out, and with it the light the witness is observing.
This then takes us to our fourth step of Experimentation. This is the part of the scientific method that tests one’s hypothesis. So let’s just say that the witness had their cell phone with them and was able to capture the event on video. As the investigator watches the video, they notice that the object appears to have a constant luminance and as it moves away from the witness it picks up speed and quickly shoots over the horizon disappearing quickly. How does this match up with the predicted behavior? Not very well!
The final step of the scientific method is the Conclusion. This is a summary of the experiment’s results, and how those results match one's hypothesis. The investigator has two options for their conclusion based on the results:
One can REJECT the hypothesis. Or
One CANNOT REJECT the hypothesis.
Based on the results mentioned above leads one to the conclusion that the object was not a Chinese Lantern, unless it is a really windy day with gusts of wind to quickly propel the lantern out of sight, but even then, it is more likely that that same wind would have extinguished the flame causing the lantern to go dark, which in this case did not happen.
The conclusion then is that the light is NOT a Chinese lantern (REJECTING the hypothesis). In which case the investigator may come up with another hypothesis as well a new set of predictions to test. Eventually, the investigator comes up with a hypothesis that withstands all the tests (is NOT REJECTED), and becomes his/her conclusion of what the object is. Or all of the hypotheses are rejected and the object becomes a true UFO, or Unknown in the CMS database. We will probably never be able to prove that an object seen is a flying saucer from Zeta Reticuli, but we can certainly prove what it is not; a mundane natural, or man-made object, commonly observed around our planet by using the scientific method. This leaves us with a solid base for further exploring all the unknowns and will hopefully lead us to a greater understanding of the UFO phenomenon and a brighter future for the human race. That is our hope.