Friday, August 5, 2011

A Skeptic does the MUFON Symposium - Part 4 of 5

(See Lee Speigel's Huffington Post article on the MUFON Symposium )

The next speaker Sunday morning was Ted Loder, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of New Hampshire, whose title was "The Science of Tomorrow." He talked about the efforts of the UFO group CSETI to "contact" ETs using flashing lights, lasers, etc. He played "crop circle tones," sounds recorded from inside crop circles and played back greatly amplified. None of this is new, CSETI has been doing it since the mid-90s. They see a light in the sky that they think is a UFO. They shine a light at it, and if it appears to flash or wink back, that is "ET contact." He also showed pictures of "falling flashes," which I think most people would call "meteors," and told of seeing bright flashes from a stationary source, apparently geosynchronous. Since nothing in geosynchronous orbit would flash, or be that bright, he suggested this was a true UFO. After his talk, I told Loder about Geosync Flashers, out-of-control satellites in near-geosynchronous orbit whose tumbling causes them to flash when the sun angle on their solar panels is just right. The brightest of them is Superbird A (NORAD 20040), a tumbling Japanese communications satellite that flashes brightly with a period of about 12 seconds for a few minutes each day when it is above the horizon at your location.
  
Travis Walton
One interesting vendor was none other than Travis Walton himself, who was supposedly abducted by a UFO back in 1975, and was "missing" for five days. His case was made into the Hollywood movie Fire in the Sky.  Philip J. Klass investigated this case extensively, and found a lot of evidence suggesting a hoax (see Klass' UFOs The Public Deceived (Prometheus, 1983). I have a Walton Abduction page on my website.) Walton seemed to attract very little interest among the MUFON participants, almost as if they did not know (or care) who he is. UFOlogically speaking, Travis Walton is a "one trick pony," even though his "trick" was a mighty big one, one of the biggest in UFO history. But it was 36 years ago, and (apart from the promotions and debunking of it), nothing has happened since then. I have always felt uncomfortable around Travis Walton (our paths have crossed a few times), and he apparently with me as well. We did chat just a bit, but nothing of substance. What's the point? He knows that I call his case a hoax on my website. He and I both know perfectly well that his "abduction" was staged, apparently with the help of his friend Mike Rogers and his brother Duane, and that he was hiding out (likely at a property in the woods) while he was supposedly "missing." I can comfortably discuss UFOs with a MUFON investigator who, in my opinion, is seriously mistaken, but I can still respect him as a person of integrity. That is not so easy with Travis Walton.

As I was standing near Walton's table, one fellow, tall, thirtyish, dressed in a nice suit, came up to tell how he had evidence of a UFO crash in Idaho, with lots of debris scattered over a large area. He didn't just see the debris, he saw the UFO crash. He had photos, all kinds of proof. Can we see it? "The photos are on a flash drive. I left it in the other hotel when I came here in the taxi." At first his story was that all that was needed was to go back in a taxi to get the photos and bring them here. But soon he was objecting that he was going to be writing a book about it, and he didn't want anyone to steal his discovery. The objections came swifter and stronger. It felt strange for me to be joining Travis Walton in critiquing a preposterous claim, but that's what happened. Apparently Mr. Idaho Crash told his story to a lot of people there, but offered absolutely no proof. I reflected to myself, "Why does this man crave attention so desperately to keep telling a story like that?"

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Gary Mansfield, F.I.August 2, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    The experience which abductees think of as an alien abduction experience may be due to certain brain states. These states may be associated with sleep paralysis or other forms of sleep disturbances, including mild brain seizures. Sleep paralysis occurs in the hypnologic state or hypnapompic state. The description abductees give of their experience--being unable to move or speak, feeling some sort of presence, feeling fear and an inability to cry out--is a list of the symptoms of  sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is thought by some to account for not only many alien abduction delusions, but also other delusions involving paranormal or supernatural experiences.

    There are, of course, certain psychiatric disorders which are characterized by delusions. Many people with these disorders are treated with drugs which affect the production or functioning of neurotransmitters. The treatments are very successful in eliminating the delusions. Countless people with schizophrenia or manic-depression (bi-polar disorder), when properly medicated, cease having delusions about gods, devils, the FBI, the CIA, and aliens.

    Even though the stories of alien abduction do not seem plausible, if there were physical evidence even the most hardened skeptic would have to take notice. Unfortunately, the only physical evidence that is offered is insubstantial.

    Gary Mansfield, F.I.

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