Friday, April 18, 2014

UFO, or Satellite Re-Entry? Finally, a List!

As "UFO Realists" (meaning, those of us who think that facts matter when it comes to evaluating UFO claims), we all realize that at least some dramatic UFO reports are misperceptions of objects burning up upon entering (or, in the case of satellites, re-entering) the earth's atmosphere. We know, for example, about the Zond IV re-entry in 1968, widely seen across the United States, and widely reported as a UFO, with "impossible details" added to what was actually visible.

Ted Molczan of Toronto, Ontario, is perhaps the world's leading civilian authority on observing earth satellites, and calculating their orbits. He is a principal contributor to the SEESAT list, the principal on-line forum of the world's serious amateur satellite watchers. Whenever observers disagree about which satellite has been seen, a pronouncement from Molczan will usually settle it. 

Supposed "Mothership" UFO, Yukon Territories, Canada, December 11, 1996
In April, 2012, Molczan was consulted about the famous Yukon "Mothership UFO" reports of December 11, 1996, which were touted as a "Top Ten" UFO case, and strongly promoted by Stanton Friedman, the "Flying Saucer Physicist." Molczan discovered that it matched perfectly with the flaming re-entry of the second stage of the rocket that had launched the Russian satellite Cosmos 2335 earlier that day. I wrote a Blog entry about this, with emphasis on the spurious details that had been added to the reports.

Previous to this, Molczan had little interest in, or exposure to, UFO reports, although a few of us skeptics had been in occasional contact with him. But this incident piqued his curiosity,  and he began to investigate: how many other reported UFO cases can be tied to satellite re-entries? Apparently, the answer was, "lots," and the result was this list, the first of its kind. It hopes to list every natural satellite re-entry (a naturally-decaying orbit, as opposed to controlled re-entries) that has been visually observed, and reported. It now runs to 20 pages of reports. Not all of the observations are taken from UFO reports. Many are from scientific observers, or press reports. Also, it does not include meteor sightings, no matter how spectacular. So famous bolide sightings like the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965 (a.k.a. the "Kecksburg UFO Crash") are not in the list.

Molczan has promised to keep the list updated, as new information becomes available. The latest copy will always be here:

Molczan recently wrote, 
I identified three more 1980's sightings just last night, all of them unsolved Australian UFO cases. That brings to 54 the number of UFOs I have identified as re-entries, beginning with the 1996 Yukon case nearly two years ago.

The comprehensive set of web pages that I intend to be the final product of this research will include general information on the science of re-entries and reports on selected individual sightings. A working prototype of the latter is the identification of David Biedny's childhood UFO sighting in Venezuela in 1974, which he and his brother disclosed on the Paracast in 2006:
So at least 54 "UFOs" have become "IFOs," thanks to Molczan's efforts. And that "working prototype" page is pretty darn impressive! So if you are researching a historical UFO case,  you'd do well to check this list, to see if Molczan has anything about it. And a hearty cheer for Ted Molczan, for all this great work!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Carl Sagan, Laurance Rockefeller, and UFOs

 UFO researcher Shepherd Johnson of Virginia was researching Carl Sagan's papers at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

He found a fascinating attempt by Laurance Rockefeller to draw Sagan into his pro-UFO advocacy (Johnson posted this to the Facebook group UFO Updates). The American billionaire Laurance Rockefeller (1910 - 2004) was the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the brother of Nelson Rockefeller. His UFO "disclosure initiative" is well-known in UFO circles. According to Wikipedia, 
 In 1993, along with his niece, Anne Bartley, the stepdaughter of Winthrop Rockefeller and the then-president of the Rockefeller Family Fund, he established the UFO Disclosure Initiative to the Clinton White House. They asked for all UFO information held by the government, including from the CIA and the US Air Force, to be declassified and released to the public. The first and most important test case where declassification had to apply, according to Rockefeller, was the Roswell UFO incident. In September 1994, the Air Force categorically denied the incident was UFO-related. Rockefeller briefed Clinton on the results of his initiative in 1995. Clinton did produce an Executive Order in late 1994 to declassify numerous documents in the National Archives, but this did not specifically refer to UFO-related files.
There are still conspiracy theories going around about Rockefeller's UFO "disclosure initiative" being suppressed by shadowy powers.

In addition to funding UFO research, Laurance Rockefeller also funded research into Crop Circles, and ESP.

SETI has no data, says Rockefeller's argument, but UFOlogy does. Sagan's reply was brief and pointed:

"A million reports that the Earth is flat has no veridical value on the shape of the Earth." - Carl Sagan.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More Museum Shenanigans

Back on Sept. 6, 2012 I wrote a Blog entry, Smithsonian-Affiliated "National Atomic Testing Museum" Promises UFO "Secrets" Revealed. It is still getting a lot of web hits - currently it's my third most-viewed entry, in spite of being a year and a half old. One would hope that in that intervening time things would have gotten better, owing to the bad publicity they received over this. Unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse.

I was at the recent International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona, and so was the National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum of Las Vegas, and its director, Allan Palmer. In the dealers' room, nestled in with the Adamski Foundation and other New Age and UFO organizations, the Museum set up a table to promote itself to the UFO aficionados. Among their offerings was a discount coupon, exclusively to attendees of the UFO Congress, for entry into their exhibit on Area 51, which presumably still includes an "authentic alien artifact" from Russia, given to it by George Knapp, a frequent guest host of the all-night paranormal and conspiracy radio program Coast to Coast AM. As I wrote in my Psychic Vibrations column in the Skeptical Inquirer,  January/February, 2013, about a pro-UFO panel discussion at the museum:
 During the question and answer session, Las Vegas skeptic John Whiteside asked about the supposed “authentic alien artifact” in the Area 51 exhibit. The moderator referred the question to reporter George Knapp, in the audience, who (scandalously) was the source of that “artifact.” Knapp has made a career out of reporting on weird stuff like alleged saucers at Area 51, Robert Bigelow’s Haunted Ranch in Utah, etc.  Who had verified that supposed artifact? The Russians, and others. Who exactly? No answer.

The table of the National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum, at the 2014 International UFO Congress.

Allan Palmer (right), with Lee Speigel of the Huffington Post.

At the conference, I had the opportunity to meet the Executive Director and CEO of the museum, Allan Palmer. He is a personable sort of fellow,  and, I thought, much more of a showman than an educator. (Earlier, when he was the head of the San Diego Air and Space Museum, he brought in the exhibit The Science of Aliens.) I thought that he perhaps might be upset concerning what I had written earlier about his museum, but that did not seem to be the case at all. It's "write anything you want, as long as you spell my name correctly," I suppose.

As we discussed that controversial panel of pro-UFOlogists who presented dubious UFO claims at his museum (see my earlier Blog posting), Palmer explained the difficulties he had with the Smithsonian over his museum's use of the tag "Smithsonian-affiliated." They didn't like his use of that label when the subject matter is UFOs.

But, he replied to them, you have presented a program on UFOs yourself! And he reminded them that on Sept. 6, 1980 the Smithsonian Institution sponsored a half-day UFO Symposium in Washington, DC. 

It was held in the large lecture hall of the Museum of Natural History. Six leading UFOlogists, pro and con, were invited to participate. On the "pro" side were the late J. Allen Hynek, Allan Hendry (who at that time was CUFOS' chief investigator), and Bruce Maccabee. On the skeptical side were the late Philip J. Klass, James E. Oberg, and myself. If you're going to have a panel to discuss UFOs, that is the way to do it! (The UFO Panel at Palmer's museum consisted solely of UFO proponents.) We each gave our presentations, and took questions in writing from the audience. My presentation is on-line here. (One member of the audience who was furious at not having been selected as a panelist was Stanton T. Friedman, a professional UFO lecturer who bills himself as the "Flying Saucer Physicist." Throughout the presentations Friedman could be heard, muttering and loudly declaiming comments, whenever any speaker said something with which he disagreed.)

In November of last year, I received email from Lee Speigel, who writes Weird News for the Huffington Post. He said he was going to be giving a talk at the National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum the following month, and wanted to know if I had any photos or other information about the Smithsonian UFO Panel. (Speigel attended that panel, which is where I first met him.) I replied by sending him the picture you see below, the only one from the event I currently have, plus the link to my presentation.

Sept. 6, 1980: Yours Truly (left), with the late Philip J. Klass, and the late Michael Dennett
(UFO and Bigfoot skeptic). Photo by John Timmerman.

Armed with that information, Palmer apparently went back to the folks at the Smithsonian, and filled them in on their own forgotten chapter about UFOs. After which, he said, they told him 'do anything you want, just don't put our name on it.' So you will notice that, on the flier for the talk to be given at the Museum by Stanton T. Friedman, the "Flying Saucer Physicist," the words "Smithsonian-affiliated" do not appear. A small victory, I suppose. Very small.

(On April 19, 1978, the Smithsonian had presented a debate on the existence of ESP, between the celebrated Joseph Banks Rhine, and skeptic and humanist Paul Kurtz, which I attended. Again, a perfectly-balanced discussion by experts. Apparently the transcript of this debate was published by the Smithsonian Institution Resident Associate Program as "Key Issues in Science Today - The Paranormal: Science or Pseudoscience?" Where might we get a copy of this?)

The Museum is now sponsoring a talk by The Flying Saucer Physicist himself.

I was interested to see in the March/April, 2014 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer, a short News and Comment piece, "Pseudoscience Creep: Science Museums, Universities Host Pseudoscience" by Jessie Haynes. In it, she notes how in 2005, the Smithsonian Institution hosted the screening of an anti-evolution film by the Discovery Institute, in return for a $16,000 contribution from that organization. She also notes other dubious presentations by museums and schools, concluding "Pseudoscience is rampant in museums and schools across the United States, and unfortunately the media and likewise the public don't seem to care."

The entrance to the National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum

A coupon for discount admission to the Area 51 Exhibit, for UFO Congress attendees only.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

MUFON Jumps the Shark

From the Urban Dictionary:  
To jump the shark: The precise moment when you know a program, band, actor, politician, or other public figure has taken a turn for the worse, gone downhill, become irreversibly bad, is unredeemable, etc.; the moment you realize decay has set in.

MUFON, the largest UFO organization in the United States, presents itself as being dedicated to the scientific investigation of UFOs. Its website describes "MUFON's Use of the Scientific Method":
In the reporting and investigation of UFO sightings, MUFON strives to use the scientific method....In order to augment scientific research into the study of the UFO phenomenon, MUFON created a Science Review Board (SRB) in 2012. The SRB consists of 8-9 scientists with backgrounds in electrical engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, computer science, and astronomy.
MUFON has just debuted a TV series on the cable channel H2 (History Channel #2, placing it in the august company of shows like Ancient Aliens and The UFO Hunters), and in it the Scientific Method is nowhere to be seen. The series is called Hangar 1 the UFO Files, where "Hangar 1" is supposed to be the place MUFON's supposedly vast collection of UFO data (or UFO stories) is kept. Since MUFON does not exactly own buildings or anything, and its headquarters keep moving as its directors change, some folks are quite skeptical that there even is such a place as "Hangar 1" (think of that huge storage building at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

And what exactly does MUFON serve up from its precious archives? Some of the most preposterous, unsubstantiated stories in the UFO literature. I was going to write up a long review of all of the nonsense in just the first episode of this clunker, but there is no need to. UFO blogger Jason Colavito has described the absurdities and fabrications quite nicely.  Some highlights: 
 Seriously: This is the absolute worst H2 “documentary” I have yet seen. It actually makes America Unearthed look responsible and Ancient Aliens seem accurate. Hangar 1 S01E01 “Presidential Encounters” opens with a note that the “following incidents are taken from real case files.” This reminds me of the opening the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which claimed to be based on true events; however, I have no doubt that “these are actual UFO investigations” as the next slide informs us. That doesn’t make them true, of course... It seems, too, that this show has its own catchphrase: “MUFON files suggest…” This is almost as good as “ancient astronaut theorists believe…” from Ancient Aliens, but not quite...
The dateline is February 20, 1954: Palm Springs, California. Dwight Eisenhower vacations in Palm Springs “for no reason,” according to MUFON official John Ventre. Apparently MUFON official is this show’s version of “ancient astronaut theorist” on Ancient Aliens. A UFO historian tells us that Eisenhower “disappeared” for twelve hours during which time he allegedly met with aliens at Edwards Air Force Base. Dwight Equitz does not believe the official story, given out the next morning, that the president had emergency dental surgery even though the dentist himself made an appearance. Equitz has a self-satisfied smirk when he reports that the Air Force base was shut down to outsiders during Eisenhower’s trip to Palm Springs. He does not present the obvious: that it was shut down because of the President’s trip, perhaps as a secure retreat zone for the presidential party, or to house the presidential aircraft. Instead, he insinuates that the shutdown was to allow for aliens to land...
Here’s the MAJESTIC-12 language attributed to “Chapter 5: Extraterrestrial Biological Entities” of the Group Special Operations Manual dated April 1954, reformatted on this show to fabricate a “1 March 1954” memo, by computer, in Times New Roman. I quote from Stanton Friedman’s Top Secret/Majic, an unimpeachably pro-UFO source: “Any encounter with entities known to be of extraterrestrial origin is to be considered to be a matter of national security and therefore classified TOP SECRET. Under no circumstances is the general public or public press to learn of the existence of these entities. The official government policy is that such creatures do not exist, and that no agency of the federal government is not engaged in any study of extraterrestrials or their artifacts. Any deviation from this sated policy is absolutely forbidden.” This is the same text Hangar 1 uses, but they excerpt only some sentences from the MJ-12 manual in crafting their own fake memo. The whole thing we see on screen appears to be a complete fabrication from this passage of the fictional MJ-12 documents, and no one on this show acknowledges or addresses the deception involved in creating this fake document as an “illustration.” I’m sure as far as the show is concerned, it’s just another “reconstruction” like reenactments featured during the show, but they present it as though it were true, quote from the fake document as real, and give a fake date not supported by the “actual” files in the MUFON archive.
Read that carefully: MUFON has fabricated documents to look like genuine secret government UFO documents, and presented them in Hangar 1 as if they were authentic, with no explanation or disclaimer. If that isn't downright dishonesty, I don't know what else to call it.

Curt Collins' take on Hangar 1
In a sense this is nothing new. When the notorious Gulf Breeze UFO hoax photos first surfaced in 1987, MUFON's director Walt Andrus embraced them wholeheartedly, resulting in the resignation of some of MUFON's best-known investigators. Andrus was so protective of that hoax that when some of MUFON's most respected investigators checked it out it first-hand and declared it a hoax, Andrus' reaction was to fire the investigators, and keep the hoax (see my book Psychic Vibrations, p. 60, also see "Gulf Breeze" in index). And the reason was obvious: these dramatic but hokey photos were enormously popular with MUFON's subscribers, who wanted to see more "red meat" in UFOlogy. And propelled by the momentum of the Gulf Breeze hoax, MUFON grew significantly.

Unfortunately, given the success of such trashy cable TV shows like Ancient Aliens, Hangar 1 probably will be a commercial success. It gives viewers what they want - exciting stories about alien encounters that sound credible because they are presented in an extremely biased and inaccurate way. And it probably will be successful in bringing new members to MUFON, who will demand more UFOlogical "read meat" lest their attention wander. So look for plenty more such absurdities to follow. Such is the dynamic at work in "Retail UFOlogy": Numerous, uncritical followers gather around a person or organization that gives them the UFOlogical "red meat" that they crave. (See, for example, Steven Greer, or Whitley Strieber.) More cautious organizations, for example, MUFON under James Carrion, do not excite and retain their followers nearly as well, and tend to lose membership. They don't want to hear about caveats and uncertainty. But when the organization follows the spotlight and ignores proper skepticism, it defines itself as fringe, "crackpot" organizations, and is laughed at by anyone who understands science.

What is really interesting is that the people who seem to be the most upset about the absurdities of Hangar 1 are not skeptics, who expect pro-UFO organizations to act irresponsibly, but instead the group I call skeptical believers: those who believe that some UFO incidents might represent genuine mysteries beyond science, but who recognize that the great bulk of UFOlogy consists of error, exaggeration, and humbug. And the "skeptical believer" is just as ready to denounce humbug as is any skeptic. After all, the only way to convince science that the UFO phenomenon is worth studying would be to toss aside all of the accumulated humbug, and accentuate the (hopefully) solid cases. So when MUFON gives itself over to humbug without reservation, it destroys all hope of presenting a convincing pro-UFO case to the skeptical scientific world. So much for the "scientific method!" In a very real sense, the skeptical believers, along with skeptics, are allies who can be characterized as realists - those who care very much what the facts are about UFO cases and try to stick to the facts as best possible - as opposed to unrealists who are ready to embrace any absurd UFO tale if it is exciting, and ignore all facts to the contrary.

There are still some fine investigators in MUFON, who do not make claims beyond what the data will allow, and who are ready to denounce hoaxes and humbug wherever encountered. People like these cannot possibly be happy about MUFON's plunge into tabloid sensationalism, and can scarcely afford to have their names associated with such trash.

And finally, we learn from John Ventre, a MUFON state director and one of the "stars" of Hangar 1, that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was abducted by extraterrestrials. What is MUFON coming to?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The 2014 International UFO Congress, Part 5 (last)

Glenn Steckling
The fifth day of the International UFO Congress was Sunday, February 16, 2014, with a shortened schedule. The first speaker was Glenn Steckling, the head of the Adamski Foundation, and today's spiritual heir of the great Baloney-master. "Glenn Steckling, the Director of the George Adamski Foundation, one of the oldest & longest standing UFO organizations, will join us to discuss George Adamski, moon anomalies and his concerns regarding varying agendas participating in the revisionism of UFO history. Mr. Steckling’s father, the late Fred Steckling, was a close friend & associate of George Adamski, considered by many to be the pioneer in the early contactee UFO field." I had heard Steckling speak more than once before to San Diego MUFON. "His discussion will including re-mastered original Adamski motion picture footage, and newly released rare Adamski home movie footage. He will also share a number of first-generation copies of NASA photographs of the Moon, along with movie footage of an array of UFOs taken by his father in 1966, while he was traveling through Germany by train." If you always wanted to see home movies showing George Adamski, as well as some ludicrous 'daylight disks,' then you missed something good.

Steckling explained that Adamski's saucer photos, supposedly taken through his 6" telescope (which I doubt very much), were amazingly clear. This caused some people to assume that they had been faked (!). Adamski was given this telescope by the mother of the man who did "mapping" for the site of the observatory at Mt. Palomar, a Mrs. Johnson. As soon as Adamski had set up the telescope, saucers began to appear. Steckling explained that his father was the one responsible for getting Adamski's saucer photos on the postage stamps of Grenada (see my book Psychic Vibrations, page 5).

David Marler
Next was the final speaker, David Marler, the former head of Illinois MUFON, now living in Albuquerque, NM. I spoke with him at some length before his talk. Marler is a very serious researcher. He showed me photos of the huge UFO research library he has been accumulating, in part from acquiring the collections of retired or deceased UFOlogists. He describes himself as an archivist and historian. If you're a serious researcher, digging into an old case, I'd recommend that you contact Marler to see what info he might have on it.

Marler's talk was titled "Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation," which is also the title of his book. "For years, serious researchers have known that triangular-shaped UFOs are increasingly one of the most common types observed. The phenomenon has sparked intense debate among many and excited the imagination of many others. But until now, there has never been a comprehensive analysis of triangular UFOs. Marler has collected, collated, and analyzed hundreds of reports over the last thirteen years. In the process, he has created a detailed profile of these objects and written a rich narrative of their history."

He talked, of course, about the famous Belgian triangle UFOs of 1989-90. He acknowledges, however, that the famous one and only photo supposedly showing the triangle UFO, from Petit Rechain, is indeed a hoax. There is very little good video or radar data concerning the Belgian triangles, but lots of eyewitness testimony. He also spoke of several little-known triangle UFO sightings from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, back when the genre of the "triangle UFO" was not yet well-established. One of  these was by none other than the man who started it all, Kenneth Arnold, who reported seeing a triangle UFO on July 27, 1966. Sometimes, Marler remarked, the triangle is reported to be flying flat-side first, with the point trailing behind. This makes no sense from a standpoint of aerodynamics, he noted. He left the audience with no grand conclusions, just lots of information.

There remained one event on the schedule, a panel on "Abductions and Alien Contact," featuring Kim Carlsberg, Mike Clelland, and Kewaunee Lapseritis. I didn't stay to hear this, as all three had given their opinions earlier. I heard just one brief snippet, when Kim Carlsberg was saying that her alien hybrid son had visited her briefly in her living room, but just once. However, he has stayed in regular contact with her, telepathically. And I thought, he's a good boy, even though he's off orbiting around the Pleiades or someplace, he's still thinking about his Mom.

The National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum in Las Vegas at the UFO Congress.
In the Dealers' Room, the The National Atomic Testing and UFO Museum in Las Vegas had a table. In September of 2012 I wrote about this Smithsonian-Affiliated Museum's descent into UFO advocacy. Well, things have only gotten worse, as you can see from this photo at the UFO Congress. I'll have more to say about this later.

A possibly alien organism, and a possibly alien shoe

This display at Art Campbell's table contains a bunch of stuff that might, or might not, be alien artifacts.

Notice that the paper on the table references a supposed analysis by "scientist Steve Colbern." Colbern has been working with Dr. Roger Leir to supposedly authenticate alleged 'alien implants' that are removed from under peoples' skin. The Colbern/Leir "Alien & Scalpel" table, with the big black tent behind it, was absent from this year's UFO Congress, after being present several previous years (you can see one such 'alien scan' in this YouTube video). It had been announced that A&S would be there. Quite likely this change was in response to complaints received from some women concerning alleged 'improprieties' inside the tent. Yvonne Smith announced that Colbern would still be doing 'alien scanning,' but in his hotel room.

Finally, adding glamor to the surroundings once again was Leda Beluche, a resident of New York City who works in the entertainment industry. She informs us that she is now a "Reverend," as well as a "healer," and she sends out Light and Love to all. Leda says that she has been contacted by producers of a TV Reality Show, who are interested in doing a show about her, documenting her life as an alien hybrid. Some people might call this an Unreality Show, but that would make it no different from a lot of what is already on TV today. As they say in show business, Break a Leg, Leda!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The 2014 International UFO Congress, Part 4

The fourth day of the UFO Congress was Saturday Feb. 15, and the day of the highest attendance. Starting off the proceedings with a Bang was Dr. John Alexander, retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, and longtime leader in the Pentagon's foray into Weird Science: ESP, remote viewing, etc. Alexander appears on 18 different pages of the book The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson (but not in the movie), where he is portrayed as a sort of shadowy behind-the-scenes figure giving direction to all of the Pentagon's weird studies.
Col. Alexander (left) with Lee Speigel of the Huffington Post

Life, Alexander said, may have originated somewhere in the universe 9 billion years before it did on earth. He went through the usual brief history of U.S. government involvement with UFOs. He mentioned a few UFO cases that he thinks are especially good:
  • Bentwaters/Rendlesham. Highlights the testimony of Halt and Penniston. He did not mention how the testimony of each has significantly changed over the years. He is aware of this - I've mentioned it to him more than once - but it's something he prefers to ignore.
  • Phoenix lights. They were certainly not A-10s with flares. (When I asked him afterward about this, he claimed that he didn't say anything about flares!)
  • Gulf Breeze photos. Good grief!
  • Coyne helicopter case. See Klass, UFOs the Public Deceived, chapters 16,17.
  • B-52 radar picks up a visual UFO, Minot AFB, 1968. (Has anyone done any recent research on this case?)
What sets Alexander apart from most other UFOlogists is that he does not believe that there is any U.S. government coverup of UFOs, or any secret program. He accepts that the "Roswell crash" was actually a spy-balloon program, Project Mogul. UFO enthusiasts, he explained, do not know how the system works.  Even secret or "black" projects need to compete with each other for a fixed pool of money, and to justify those expenditures with results. Concerning UFOs, this is simply not happening.

As for the UFO coverup claims of British UFOlogist Nick Pope, Alexander pointed out that Nick's father, Geoffrey Pope, was a leading aerospace engineer who, upon hearing his son's claims about the British government having captured a UFO, remarked "it would have been in my hanger!" As for the MJ-12 papers (the second set, at least), he pointed out that Tim Cooper, the man who supposedly (and inexplicably) received these documents in the mail, has as of 2009 disavowed their validity.

Alexander is also a big believer in 'alternative healing' that supposedly cannot be explained, especially the faith healer John of God in Brazil. He also believes the recent claims of "Proof of Heaven."

Alexander mentioned the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah purchased by Robert Bigelow, where many strange incidents have been reported, some involving UFOs. "The Phenomenon" is "in control," he concludes. It knows how you will react to it. If you're having trouble deciding what to make of Alexander (and many people are), think of him as Jacques Vallee in a military uniform.
Jaime Maussan

Next was the well-known Mexican UFO promoter Jaime Maussan. I didn't hear this talk, but the description says, "Hear Jaime Maussan present the most recent evidence demonstrating that the UFO phenomenon is closer than ever before. The new technology and new techniques used by skywatchers around the world is allowing us to know how “close” we are to establishing some kind of contact or communication with other beings. While we do not know for sure yet, it is clear that contact will be sooner than expected." He showed a lot of videos. James McGaha told me that they all looked pretty fake.

In reviewing Maussan's talk last year to the UFO Congress, I wrote:
Maussan said that worldwide UFO sightings have increased dramatically recently because of December 21, 2012, and aliens are now sending us messages by creating meteorological formations in the sky. He showed what were supposedly "vortexes" in meteorological charts, "messages" he says of "the new time."

He showed many blurry photos and videos. There was a huge black sphere sucking energy out of the sun - probably a Mothership, he suggested. NASA's Spirit rover photographed a human figure on Mars, and also a "little house." We saw objects (probably satellites in low earth orbit) crossing the face of the moon. Russia, he says, now has the greatest number of UFO sightings of any country, and he showed Russian videos of supposed "motherships." He also played videos having very low-pitch "unexplained" sounds or hums. Maussan's talk was loony, but the audience loved it.
Rob Simone
After that came Rob Simone, "an award-winning media personality, TV host, author and for the last 3 years, guest host of the nationally syndicated talk show, Coast to Coast AM." His speech was "UFOs In The Headlines - Real Reporting on a Real Phenomenon." He showed the headlines, and discussed the cases, from newspaper coverage of UFO sightings and claims from all around the world. Most of them were cases that practically nobody has heard of, and go back to the 1950s, mostly in Europe. Actually, he did a fine job of locating and presenting these cases, several of which sound as if they were significant at the time, but since forgotten. This information needs to be recorded in a form that is searchable on-line.

Timothy Good
The well-known British UFOlogist Timothy Good, long known for promoting dubious claims, gave an even wilder talk than I expected: "Earth - An Alien Enterprise," in which he  promised to reveal "the shocking truth about the greatest coverup of all time." He reviewed some old claims of ET contact going back to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. He showed some of Adamski's photos (Good has long been a low-key supporter of Adamski's claims.) Supposedly Adamski was given a special access card that got him into all military bases, the White House, etc. Adamski supposedly met with JFK twice. Good even showed a letter supposedly received by Adamski from an alien, written in alien-ese. He spent several minutes discussing Amicizia ("friendship"), a long-running Italian contactee case.

He also claimed that Neil Armstrong had revealed to a friend, long after his lunar landing, that other craft were already on the moon when he got there.

Good's new book, with the same title as his talk, promises to reveal:
  • Genuine photographs of aliens and some of their craft
  • A crashed alien craft and bodies stored in the U.S. Capitol in 1939
  • Contacts with military personnel and several presidents
  • Over 100 witnesses encounter two landed flying discs in a London suburb
 The final speaker on Saturday afternoon was George Noori, the longtime host of the late night, all night, paranormal and conspiracy radio show Coast to Coast AM, which he claimed to be the highest-rated show in the history of broadcasting. His talk consisted mostly of gossip, jokes, and chat (and his jokes were rather gross and gruesome). "Big foot = little penis," he said (which might come as a surprise to readers of Bigfoot porn).

Noori brought up on stage Lee Speigel of the Huffington Post, who talked about the Dead Bigfoot touring show, which was supposed to open in Phoenix that same weekend, but the arrangement fell through. (Speigel actually worked very hard on a last-minute plan to have the Bigfoot carcass show open right then, right there at Ft. McDowell, right alongside the UFO Congress. But that plan also fell through.)

During the question & answer time, an obviously disturbed man calling himself "the Reincarnated Christ" delivered a rambling, confused statement about how there is a conspiracy to conceal that the earth actually curves upward, and there is a glass sky 100 km above us. Noori ignored the boos and groans from the audience, and played with the guy like a cat with a mouse. (This is what he often does on his show.) Finally somebody grabbed a cane, and yanked the guy away.
After his talk, people lined to to meet George Noori (wearing sports coat), and have their picture taken with him.
Hang on, just one more posting to go!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The 2014 International UFO Congress, part 3

The third day, Friday Feb. 14, began with Robert Schroeder, a retired engineering manager, spoke on "How Modern Physics is Revealing the Technology of UFOs," a subject that might be more convincing if he were a physicist.
Robert Schroeder

He briefly reviewed modern quantum physics, especially the concept derived from String Theory about membranes, or separate universes. We live, he suggested, in a 4-D Membrane in a 5D Bulk (or aggregation of membranes); in our Bulk there is one other 4D membrane, the Gravity Membrane. That's the reason that gravity is so much weaker than the other three fundamental forces - most of it is over there, not here.

Schroeder's theory is that the UFOs have devised a way to get over to the Gravity Membrane, where gravity is 1016 times stronger. They generate KK Gravitons, which induces the creation of micro black holes, which somehow gets them over there. Why the UFOs don't get smushed by all that gravity, he did not explain. Because of the time and distance dilations associated with a powerful gravitational field (the same effects as acceleration), this reduces the distance to Alpha Centauri to just 25 miles. A nice trick, if you can make it work.
Patty Greer

Next up was Patty Greer (no relation to you-know-who), "a.k.a. the Croppie Girl." Her title was "Crop Circles & the Real Circlemakers." She is a film maker and crop circle researcher, who had her first UFO abduction back in 2001. "Patty Greer was a professional musician for decades, playing the harp and piano and singing with bands. In 2004 she trusted the wrong dentist and was poisoned severely by mercury fillings. For years she was seeking a healing miracle, and when everything failed she headed to the UK Crop Circles. Laying in Crop Circles day after day she developed (what appeared to be) a telepathic communication with the Circlemakers." With no previous training or experience in film making, she says that she became a filmmaker when she had an out-of-body experience in a crop circle in 2007, and she has visited over 100 crop circles. She later found out that the first Crop Circle she visited was fake, but she had extraordinary experiences in it, anyway.

She was "taken" from a Crop Circle in 2007, and her eyes were "re-calibrated" so that she could see "plasmas," which, it turns out, are everywhere. Crop Circles are made by orange orbs that fly around. They like that region of England because of the many Ley Lines there.

She says that the photos she takes in her home always show "orbs." Some people would call these orbs "reflections." 

Jeffrey Bennett
Next was astrophysicist and science educator Jeffrey Bennett, speaking on "Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for our Future."

He related how he once saw an extremely brilliant light suddenly appear in the sky, lasting only about ten seconds, then fading out. He believed it to be stationary, although his son who was with him thought it was moving to the right. It might have been an alien space ship, he said. Or possibly something else, like the rare case of a meteor heading straight toward him. Dr. Bennett, have you ever heard of an iridium flare, a brilliant reflection of the sun off the near-perfectly reflecting solar panel of an Iridium satellite? You've described one perfectly, and your son appears to be correct in that the satellite moves slowly while the flaring occurs. Don't go mystery-mongering about "alien spacecraft" when there exist much simpler and more likely explanations (although Stanton Friedman insisted that when you see an unexplained light in the sky, an alien spacecraft is the most likely explanation).

Bennett ran through the usual 'numbers game' concerning the number of stars in our galaxy, the number of galaxies in the universe, the percentage of stars having potentially habitable planets (apparently a large fraction, based on the findings of the late Kepler orbiting telescope), etc. Any intelligent beings capable of traveling here across interstellar distances must be far in advance of us, based solely on the fact that they can make the journey. Running some more numbers, he estimates they would be likely to be at least 50,000 years more advanced than us in term of technology.
Aaron Sagers

Next was Aaron Sagers speaking on "Celebrity UFO Encounters."  Sagers is "a TV personality, journalist and entertainment pundit who has covered everything from zombies, ghosts and aliens to geek culture for CNN, MTV and on his Travel Channel show “Paranormal Paparazzi,” where he serves as host and co-Executive Producer." He is a glib, fast-talking entertainer type of guy.

Sagers expressed concern that many claims about alleged Celebrity Encounters can not be verified, and that he was only interested in the authentic ones. However, he began with a few that he knew to be not confirmed, such as that alleged of Elvis and Jackie Gleason. Soon these celebrities were joined by Reinhold Messner, Christopher Columbus, Shirley Maclaine, Dennis Kucinich, Buzz Aldrin, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, and Sammy Hagar. While JFK was president, he was taking a group of friends out on a boat ride in Massachusetts to show off his new boat. Suddenly, a formation of daylight disks appeared, and everyone saw them. When they returned to land, Secret Service agents swarmed all over the boat, and the passengers were ordered not to reveal what they had seen. That's a great story, I hadn't heard that one before.

The afternoon ended with a panel on "Science and SETI," consisting of Richard Hoover, Jeffrey Bennett, and Ted Peters. Hoover speculated that life could exist on Mars in the water underneath a melting icecap. Life on earth, he said, may have arrived here on meteorites. The panelists generally agreed on the likelihood of plentiful extraterrestrial life, of panspermia (life spread from one planet to another), and of life existing, or even thriving, in what we would consider very difficult places.

Ben Hansen looking for UFOs with an image intensifier

In the evening was a demonstration, just like last year, of some very expensive low-light cameras and telescopes that use electronics to amplify very low light images. This allows you to see much fainter objects (but not as faint as the objects you can see using good binoculars!). Leading the demonstration, once again, was very tall guy Ben Hansen, host of the SyFy channel program Fact or Faked?

As was the case last year, no actual "UFOs" were seen. They did detect a stationary flashing object that appeared to flash about once every 80 seconds. Hansen suggested that it might be a defunct and tumbling geosynchronous satellite reflecting the sun, and this is probably correct. I set up a small and highly portable 76mm Celestron First Scope, and showed people the full moon that was rising. My  skeptical buddy James McGaha was there with a low-light camera and a monitor displaying the Orion nebula. It produced a clearer image than those image intensifiers. Both of these views were well-appreciated by visitors.