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Woo TV: UFO Hunters and the New Guy

I posted this at my blog Snarly Skepticism , and thought I'd share it here.

Sadly, UFO Hunters has decided to replace Dr. Ted  with a skeptoid. The good guys -- Bill Birnes, publisher of UFO Magazine, (yes, full disclosure, I do write a column for them) and Pat Uskert, both looked they just ate rancid prunes when trying their best to put up with this clown, but Kevin Cook, the skeptoid, came off as a smug, know it all, smarmy ass.

As usual with skeptoids discussing UFOs, Cook made all kinds of assumptions and weird interpretations; Pat says he has a theory UFOs are attracted to areas with certain types of mineral deposits, including gold; Cook makes the leap that Pat "believes ET is coming for the gold." Cook acted like this was a way out kook theory, where, anyone who's studied UFOs in any way knows that there are several researchers who consider this a possibility; and that includes some skeptics.

And for God's sake!!!! Please stop asking "Do you believe in UFOs?" and saying things like "It could be a real UFO."  or "Was it a real UFO?" A UFO is something you cannot identify, and that makes it a "real" UFO. It makes it a UFO. Oy, don't get me started! But Kevin Cook made these goofs many times during the episode. Which happened to be a great episode despite Cook's interference; the triangle UFO enigma, including some daylight sighting footage was great.

Which brings us to: Cook's response to that. He views the footage, claims it could be anything. Well, very true. Still, while it could be anything, it's also a fact we don't know what that anything is. Er, um, hey Mr. Skepti-pants, that makes it a UFO. (this after film analysis proved it was an object and not just three lights in the sky ; flares, helicopters, or owls.) Cook is not convinced (it's not clear what he thinks he should be convinced of) things are UFOs, and that's that. But Cook has front loaded (did I just say "front loaded?" And is that a compound word, or two words?) I'm A Skeptic Dammit! act with the beliefs that:
UFOs mean aliens from outer space
There are "real" UFOs, and there are "not real UFOs" (not to be confused with IFOs)
Whenever someone talks about UFOs they're a true believer kook-head
Triangles and other UFOs make noise
and so on . . .

So when a witness to an extremely low flying triangle said the object (UFO) did not make any noise at all, that only proved to Cook the story was "suspect." Why? Because the UFO didn't make any noise! Kevin.  dahling, if you've done the research into UFOs and in particular the triangle UFOs, you would have known that witnesses the world over have reported that the lack of sound, of noise, of buzzing, of motors, gear grinding, or rumbles, or any noise at all, is heard. Occasionally a low level humming has been heard, but that's about it. I myself saw a triangle and there was no noise. No sound. No nothing. As huge as it was, as low as it was,  as right above our goddamn heads it was --- no sound. We wouldn't have even known it was there if we hadn't been intentionally looking up at the night sky.

It seems the producers of UFO Hunters have accepted the misguided idea that throwing a skeptic in with the mix is good television. That's a ridiculous idea; like the "happy talk" idea every news producer in this country operates under. Grinning preening talking heads spouting off about empty headed inane trivia while just two minutes ago reporting on the daily horrors. But I digress.

Here's hoping UFO Hunters gets rid of the new skeptoid, or that at least things improve. Maybe Cook will get a clue. I'm certainly not going to give up watching the program. Let's  hope Cook gets off his snarky little horse and stops with the smirking , and shows us he's actually done some research about UFOs.

Posted on 03.20.2009 by Registered CommenterRegan Lee | Comments26 Comments

Reader Comments (26)

Skeptics never feel the need to do the research before pronouncing UFOs to be bunk. They promote themselves as scientists while simultaneously ignoring the basic scientific tenet of researching a topic before reaching a conclusion. Including a token skeptic on a UFO show doesn't make the show more credible, because only other skeptics would find another skeptic's snide attitude endearing. The rest of us simply get annoyed!

March 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterLisa A. Shiel

I fear Lisa is dead on target when it comes to many skeptics and examination of the evidence.

With regard to credibility, Kevin seems likely to get it from both directions. Scientifically, the episode was weak and he looked completely out of his league across the board. Unless he demonstrates he can conduct controlled investigations that yield useful data, he will quickly be written off as, in the vernacular, incompetent. A fate worse than death for a scientist.

Echoing Alfred Lehmberg's recent post in the Forum, let's hope Kevin finds his optimal interactive niche in the upcoming episodes - that way we can critique the data and ideas and avoid distractions. Lost in all the furor was some intriguing video and testimony. Even a skeptic like me can see that.

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTyler Kokjohn

Lisa is right.

Many skeptics are not even scientists, they just pretend to be doing "scientific investigations" when really they are just guessing and putting out theories. Because they use the word "science" people believe these theories and think they are based on real investigation when most times they are not.

In Kevin's case, he is a mechanical engineer. I am sure he knows a lot about mechanical things, but I doubt he knows much about time travel or the physics of time travel, anti-grav and so on. He is no Dr. Kaku.

March 21, 2009 | Registered CommenterLesley

All you guys (other posts) are so polite!! Me, sorry I tell it like I see it.

Can Kevin. He's just buggy, and a whinner too!

I'd love to spend the night on a mountian top with Pat YUM !
Okay be carefull, don't fall for hoxes. You don't need a skeptic. The show is great,and would just be better without one.

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Regan, That's an excellent, brave post!

After watching the episode I wonder (1) - How did Ted Actworth(sp.?) get replaced by Kevin Cook?....(2) - Is Cook an actor? I sensed this episode was extremely scripted and dumbed down....and (3) - What qualifies Cook to be a UFO Hunter?

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Actually, the network didn't really replace Ted because they wanted to. Ted made it lear during season 2 that because he had a new baby and his wife had a very critical job that she loved, he couldn't be traveling around with us anymore. He also needed to nurture his own new business venture where his career actually was starting to take off. So we all knew that if the network wanted a third person on the team to go to locations, it would not be Ted.

Although I tried to find a solution, and am still trying, it was out of my hands. I still think Ted was great, honest, absolutely replete with ideas and lots of fun to debate. Truth is that nobody fired anybody. The demands of life superseded the requirements of television.

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB Birnes

I didn't mean to imply that Ted was replaced as in "fired," I meant that, since he is gone (for whatever reasons) the person who replaced him was, in my view, a poor choice. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Good luck to Ted; he was great in the show, sorry to see him leave but life goes on and family is first. And, continued good luck of course to UFO Hunters!

March 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRegan Lee

To B Birnes –

With regard to the team scientist, perhaps you will consider adapting a process used by researchers to serve the needs of the UFO Hunters. To obtain grant funds, scientists first document the evidence and lay out their hypotheses. Their ideas and plans are reviewed by other researchers knowledgeable in the area and the agency will use these peer evaluations to help decide who will (and will not) receive support. Whether it is obtaining funding or publishing results, scientists routinely get a lot of input from others.

As you brainstorm episode content and presentation, you might consider gathering a few local researchers to get their perspectives as to how to approach the problems at hand and harvest any ideas Kevin could expand. This is not saying you necessarily will do any of what they tell you. Just see if they can come up with something helpful you can use (or a list of pitfalls to avoid). Perhaps Dr. Acworth could lead and channel that group.

A potentially strong scientific advisory board could be created by tapping the pool of local graduate students. In addition to expertise, energy and enthusiasm for your task, they are likely to have another critical attribute – they will probably not cost much. Harking back to my student days, if you kept the pizza coming and beer flowing, you would have had my attention for a good long time. Of course, things are probably different now…

Good hunting and the best of luck.

March 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTyler Kokjohn

I do like your idea, suffice it to say that we have tried it in two previous seasons. We met with mostly negative, but still mixed, results for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that true scientists do not want to get their hands dirty with UFOs. most scientists, as you probably already know, must fish for grant money from the great federal fish tank. While sometimes bone try and at other times brimming with cash (oh, to be a stem-cell biologist right now), the contents of the tank go right down the drain if you're associated, even remotely, with UFOs.

As Arizona's Professor James McDonald found out to his great chagrin, the FBI was in a quandary over what to pursue him for: his Socialist Party affiliation, his coziness with the Black Panther Party during Nixon's Cointelpro, or his research into UFOs. Fortunately for the FBI, and unfortunately for Professor McDonald, he made it easy for the FBI by contacting Soviet diplomats at a Soviet consulate. The FBI then circulated information about McDonald, discrediting him for his views on UFOs.

In addition to the UFO taint, most academic or research scientists in a world of grant hunting and publish or perish, have little time to lend their efforts to peer reviews of something that's more parascience than science. This I have found from first-hand interview with potential peer reviewers.

In short, great idea. We're still working on that.

March 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB Birnes

So Bill, I believe what you are saying here is that the culture is structured in such a way that it actively participates in a conspiracy to keep only "matters of matter" (see, even the language is in on the scam!) in the sights of academia or research.

It is my contention that such epistemologies are not the product of "scientific" thinking, but only an academic affirmation of entrenched cultural belief-systems (or B.S. as Aeolus Kephas calls them). This is the cultural dogma which makes a taboo of woo-woo.

Unfortunately for the self-styled intellectual gate-keepers, woo woo is here to stay. Human experience today and throughout history is filled with examples of woo-woo. And of course, the biggest woo-woo of them all is that we are alive here on this otherwise insignificant little planet on the outer arm of the milky way galaxy having this repartee on a synthetic neural network consisting of electrical impulses passing through fiber-optic cables and bouncing off satellites, having this discussion as one conscious being to another. As Einstein said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." That is woo-woo wrapped in an enigma and doused in chocolate syrup.

Of course, the rationalists will attribute our very existence to the agency of some mathematically improbable existentialist "accident". Whoops, there's a killer whale! Whoops, sorry, I accidentally made a dragonfly! Darn, stupid humans (who delusionally believe that they can scrub the universe clean of all signs of embarrassing woo-woo) are just a silly accident too!

And when the world is finally sanitized of all fuzzy and woo-woo things, we can pat ourselves on the back for draining the whole experience of any culturally troubling deeper meaning.

Move along folks, you are only an accident. There is nothing to see here that cannot be expressed in terms any more profound than "whoops"! Thanks to Charles Darwin and all of those folks who insist that the universe has no intelligent design behind it, we can all rest in the assurance that life has no deep significance at all. Ha, just a silly accident! Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

So, is this really the ultimate aim of science: To insure that no embarrassing woo-woo enters into the human collective consciousness? But what about that stubborn woo-woo that refuses to be washed out of the fabric of our reality, you know, like UFOs, ghosts, ESP and things that go bump in the night?

That stuff is still there and it can only be ignored by participating in an active denial of it. Is this why our culture seems so bent on getting negative inquisitors in on the dialogue: not because they have something necessarily cogent or relevant to say, but because they allow us to maintain our favored cultural blinders (B.S. belief systems)? Are we destined to live in a culture where the final arbiter judge and jury is (thankfully for our precious cultural B.S.) deaf, dumb and blind?

Hhhhmmm, I think I smell a rat. Why don't more people question this obvious scam? Does it make us feel "smarter" to feign stupidity? Is B.S. a better companion than human experience?

Or, are we just being duped by our deeply entrenched assumptions?

March 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Good

I keep looking for some way to email Bill, as there is a lot I wish to share about my UFO experiences, and I have some helpful suggestions as well, that could possibly produce tangible evidence.
Can anyone tell me how to reach him?
thanks

April 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGinny Auldridge

I dont mind the new guy. I think its good to have someone like him in the show, with that perpective, but i'd also like to see Ted, or someone like him who approached it with a basically open mind and few judgments but absolutely from a scientific point of view. I think he added greatly to the credibility of the show. I think Bill and Pat round out the other perpectives, or levels of belief nicely.

April 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave

After seeing the most recent UFO Hunters I was a little disappointed to hear Bill propose the idea, if I heard it correctly, that the greys may be wanting to take over the world. Though it appears that there is a great deal of evidence that they are doing alot of abductions and causing pain to some people the evidence from abductees says that their agenda is to ensure the survival of their race. I believe there are many other alien civilizations visiting us who only have an agenda to help us go through this dimensional shift. To imply that the greys want to take over the world only instills more fear which is one of the main reasons the government won't share information with the public. They think there will be mass panic and that is probably true. Check out bashar.org if you're interested in what a real E.T. has to say.

April 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterT.L.

Dave said:After seeing the most recent UFO Hunters I was a little disappointed to hear Bill propose the idea, if I heard it correctly, that the greys may be wanting to take over the world.

My impression is that Bill, as does Pat, etc. throws out ideas and theories that are out there in the UFO realm; ideas and theories that some hold...not that it's their personal opinion on what's going on. Although it did seem that Bill was going that way...but, so what? If that's what he thinks, that's what he thinks. Doesn't mean it's true.

Read on, for you then said:
Dave: To imply that the greys want to take over the world only instills more fear which is one of the main reasons the government won't share information with the public. They think there will be mass panic and that is probably true. Check out bashar.org if you're interested in what a real E.T. has to say.

No one knows what "a real E.T." is, let alone what "it" has to say. We all have opinions and theories, including, those of us who've had entities tell us things. That doesn't make it true. I doubt there's just one kind of ET however.

But back to the show. It was also theorized that there are many types of greys, and that some are good, some aren't. However, for me, the point isn't whether or not Bill or anyone believes greys are out to take over the world, it's the fact of the abductions.

At no point during the show did "the new guy" seem to want to find out why people are experiencing what we call abductions. The best he could come up with was some tired old skeptic mantra about old tv shows influencing people; somehow tricking them into believing aliens kidnapped them.

The "new guy" doesn't belong there for another reason: he doesn't know beans about the subject. Being "skeptical" is one thing, just showing up and having all kinds of opinions about something while not knowing a thing about it is another. Typical of the skeptoid realm,, but annoying as hell, and gets in the way of trying to find out what is going on.

April 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRegan Lee

I love the show... never miss it. As far as the new guy, if he could learn to control that annoying smirk and open his mind a little, he might fit in. The idea of a "skeptic" is a good one because it keeps everything balanced and on an even playing field. But Cook seems completely out of touch with the whole UFO subject. He almost seems like he was forced to do the show, and wants to bebunk everything presented to him. At least Dr. Ted kept an open mind.

April 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHatterasman

Skeptics not withstanding, I have attempted to watch "UFO Hunters" several times and I must say that the way it is shot and edited has turned me off to the program. The "hand-held" shakey "home movie" type style the show is taped in has gotten very old and gets in the way of its subject matter. Arbitrary zooming in and out, wild panning, wrack focusing, quick, unrelated jump cutting from scene to scene, and repeating the same footage multiple times make the program distracting and irritating to watch, especially in HD. It may be the current "cool" style of putting a documentary program together, but I feel that it actually takes away from what might otherwise be an intriguing and interesting program on the UFO phenomenon. I have been a subscriber to and supporter of "UFO Magazine" since its beginning, and I consider it one of the most honest, reliable and interesting publications on the subject here in the US. "UFO Hunters" has yet to live up to that. Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJon William Lopez

I am sorry to see a Ph.D replaced by an electrical engineer whose attitude is more like a school boy bully than a sceptical scientist. He's not qualified to be there as his assumptions point out. Many if his points of debate are ones that could be argued against by a 16 year old high school student. He takes away from then legitamacy of the show. I personally hope he's gone soon. The show is not worth watching near to the same degree with him.

Oh on a second non related note, just for a smile. Did anybody notice how much the star child looked like the aliens from the Star Trek episode, I believed called the menagerie with Captain Christopher Pike. :-)

April 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDr.J.C. Thompson

I am sorry to see a Ph.D replaced by an electrical engineer whose attitude is more like a school boy bully than a sceptical scientist. He's not qualified to be there as his assumptions point out. Many if his points of debate are ones that could be argued against by a 16 year old high school student. He takes away from then legitamacy of the show. I personally hope he's gone soon. The show is not worth watching near to the same degree with him.

Oh on a second non related note, just for a smile. Did anybody notice how much the star child looked like the aliens from the Star Trek episode, I believed called the menagerie with Captain Christopher Pike. :-)

April 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDr.J.C. Thompson

Bill,

I am a DoD contractor. I have sever chronic back, neck, sholder and headake pain back pain so I may not do well writing this message.I can not go into detail about all aspects of what I am telling you due to top secerate opperations. {Please do not use my name for any reasone }.I was watching your program about USOs. Our's and several Navy's have non-caviating under water torpedoes that travel betwen 300 and 600 MPH approximatly 30 feet in depth.They may put out a shield of air bubbles ahead of them. You may be able to investigate into this to aid in the USO problem. The USOs may have similar means that I can not s[eak about. When a torpedo is dropped from a plan it does not leave much of a splash by design. I trust ome of this may aid you and I wish you luck which most luck you make yourdelf.

Name Withheld by Request

April 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Birnes

I'm a fan of the show, Tivo the shows and was wondering what happened to Ted. I liked his reserved nature. I wish him and his family well.
For Kevin, I don't have a problem with him.

April 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave P

I'D LIKE TO RECEIVE DR TED ACTWORTH EMAIL BECAUSE I HAVE TO CONTACT HIM.

HÉLIO REQUENA

August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHÉLIO REQUENA C
I really admire the guys in the UFO Hunters team, I do prefer the Original crew of S01 and S02, but I'm fasinated with the show none the less and a fan of Bills work.
I am pretty hardcore on all things conspiracy, I have often wondered; surely the major networks or even the Government would not allow this kind of exposure and would have (I thought) surely pulled the plug after the pilot!? I guess my question is; How have you managed to get away with not being pulled so far and any room for 4th member ;0)?
September 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary Mee
"UFO Hunters" will never be the same without Ted.
October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Smith

Just watched the first episode of season 3 and I am sorry but that Kevin guy is an annoying holier than thou arrogant pain in the ass.At one stage I almost felt like kicking the TV in.He has got me seriously thinking about if I want to watch the rest of the series.Someone commented on another forum that he is like a little kid with his fingers in his ears going na na na no such thing as UFOs.I totally agree.He is the main reason why I dislike skeptics.Okay everyone is entitled to believe what they want to believe.You can be skeptical thats fine but dont be an arrogant asshole and come across with a smirking holier than thou attitude like your better than everyone else.I find that most skeptics do.The network should not have picked this guy to replace Ted.I sort of wonder if he was also part of the reason for the show being cancelled.Maybe people were turning off because they could not stomach smarmy smirking Kevin.

August 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPAUL

I'm sorry to see Ted gone (for the last season or so). He was contemplative, voiced his skepticism well and didn't just poo-poo things out of hand.
I don't know where they found this clown Kevin Cook that's replaced him, but "You have got to be kidding!" He obviously doesn't do his homework, he is negative before he even looks at the reality...."Films are hoaxes..." Right Kevin, you're the hoax.
I've got every season so far on DVD, but I doubt I'll be buying the current season and only because Kevin is such a bozo. The credibility of the show suffers greatly...Just my $.02......

September 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergoose

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