Monday, 26 November 2007

Of Shooting Stars and Perception...

Gathering information is a dodgy process. We have so much preconceived notions of the world, both conscious and subconscious. And our senses make things up when things happen fast or under duress.
This happened. I was there. It was slow enough not to be confusing. But see what happens when evidence threatens a comfortable view of the cosmos.
We were four or five teenagers, probably 18, no women present to rattle the hormones, lying on the bonnet of a car gazing up into the universe about 10 at night. This immediately imparts a fair bit of information. The car bonnet was strong enough to take the weight without buckling or taking a permanent imprint of the brand of our jeans, and the street lighting was so bad, we could actually see the stars. So the mid sixties. And we hadn't partaken of any substances to mess about with brains already delicate biochemistry. Then we all say "look, a shooting star.' And watch the shooting star, small and bight move across the night directly above. Then, and I am as sure I saw this as I am sure what I had for breakfast today, the star did a slow and fairly tight U turn, before moving back the way it had come and disappearing into the night. There was a silence before the explanations started. The first was that it must have been a satellite. Everyone agreed that it must have been just that. But then people realized that that didn't make any sense. Not in the nature of satellites to do U turns. Then a UFO. But that was way too uncomfortable. So gradually, one by one, almost everyone decided that they hadn't seen the star do a U turn at all. Except me. I knew what I had seen, but had no explanation. And I was, and still am, comfortable with that. And after a few minutes of everyone convincing themselves and each other that all they had seen was a normal shooting star, the conversation moved on. Probably to women. As my friend from across the street and I drove home, I asked him what he had seen. Had the star done a U turn. He thought for a while, and then said he wasn't sure.
People don't like uncomfortable truths, deny they exist, even when they have actually observed them.

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