Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and the "Pentacle Memorandum"

I have just finished reading Jacques Vallee's diaries from 1957-69, published as Volume I of Forbidden Science. It tells the story of his life from childhood in France, his education and early career, his developing interest in UFO reports, etc. The book is very literate, very personal, and in places even poetic. It is a good read.
J. Allen Hynek (left) and Jacques Vallee (from Wikipedia)

Perhaps the most significant new issue discussed in this book is the matter of the so-called "Pentacle Memorandum." In June of 1967 while Hynek was away on vacation in Canada, Vallee went over to Hynek's empty house to organize (with permission) and sort Hynek's disorganized UFO-related files. He found one document, a two-page typed memo, that he believed to be extremely significant. Dated January 9, 1953, it was stamped "SECRET - Security Information" in red ink. Vallee refered to it as the "Pentacle Memorandum," in order to not identify the author. "Pentacle" was later revealed to be H.C. Cross of Battelle Memorial Institute, Battelle's liaison with the Air Force for Blue Book-related matters. A good account of the memorandum's discovery, Vallee's claims about it, and the text of the memorandum itself, are here.

1. Vallee Finds a Secret Large-Scale UFO Research Program

The Memorandum begins,
This letter concerns a preliminary recommendation to ATIC on future methods of handling the problem of unidentified aerial objects. This recommendation is based on our experience to date in analyzing several thousands of reports on this subject.
ATIC was the Air Force's Air Technical Intelligence Center. Vallee writes, "This opening paragraph clearly establishes the fact that prior to the top-level 1953 [CIA] Robertson Panel meeting somebody had actually analyzed thousands of UFO cases on behalf of the United States government." (Vallee 1996, p. 284. Emphasis in original.) This is supposed to reveal the existence of a huge and secret UFO investigative program, other than Blue Book, somewhere within the U.S. government.

The plot thickens when Vallee finds out a short time later that "Pentacle must indeed have worked at Battelle [Memorial Institute]." (Vallee 1996, p. 294). Gasp - you mean that in January, 1953 there was someone working at Battelle who had analyzed "thousands" of UFO reports for the U.S. government?? And this was a secret program????????

Earth to Vallee: The Battelle Memorial Institute began working on Special Report #14 for Project Blue Book in March, 1952  This was a statistical analysis of UFO reports in the Blue Book files, the first to use newfangled computers and punched cards.A total of 3200 cases were analyzed. The report was completed and published in 1954. Blue Book Special Report #14 is well-known to UFOlogists. In fact, Stanton Friedman hardly ever stops talking about it.

Of course there were people working at Battelle in January, 1953 who had analyzed "thousands" of UFO reports for the U.S. government. They were working on Blue Book Special Report #14. They finished the following year.

Congratulations, Jacques! You've found indisputable proof of the existence of the team writing Blue Book Special Report #14! Which has never before been doubted. Just ask Stanton Friedman.


2. Vallee uncovers the Manipulators Manipulating the CIA's  Robertson Panel

One of the most controversial sentences in the Pentacle memorandum reads,
Since a meeting of the [CIA's Robertson] panel is now definitely scheduled we feel that agreement between Project Stork and ATIC should be reached as to what can and what cannot be discussed at the meeting in Washington on January 14-16 concerning our preliminary recommendation to ATIC.
According to Hynek, White Stork was a former Air Force project name encompassing the Blue Book project. Vallee suggests that Project Stork was keeping the soon-to-meet Robertson Panel in the dark and would decide what they would be allowed to learn. Vallee writes that the memorandum seemed to dictate "a key determinant in what the panel could discuss – and what not, i.e. what would be kept away from the panel. By preselecting the evidence, the conclusion the scientists would reach could thus be known in advance."

Vallee should read that sentence more carefully. It does not talk about UFO sightings or evidence. He is interpreting that sentence as if it said "agreement between Project Stork and ATIC should be reached as to what can and what cannot be discussed at the meeting in Washington on January 14-16." But the sentence does not end there. It continues with "concerning our preliminary recommendation to ATIC." In other words, not to decide what subjects are off-limits to discussion by the Robertson panel, but to decide what to tell that panel about plans involving Battelle and ATIC.  Or, in plain English, "How much should we tell the Robertson panel about what we've been proposing to ATIC?" I realize that English is not Vallee's first language, however his mastery of English seems to me to be so complete that I am surprised to see him misreading that sentence so badly.

3. Vallee finds evidence of a huge covert UFO deception project

In this passage Vallee finds evidence of a huge and alarming military-sponsored project intended to deceive the public about UFOs:
we recommend that one or two of theses areas be set up as experimental areas. This area, or areas, should have observation posts with complete visual skywatch, with radar and photographic coverage, plus all other instruments necessary or helpful in obtaining positive and reliable data on everything in the air over the area. A very complete record of the weather should also be kept during the time of the experiment. Coverage should be so complete that any object in the air could be tracked, and information as to its altitude, velocity, size, shape, color, time of day, etc. could be recorded. All balloon releases or known balloon paths, aircraft flights, and flights of rockets in the test area should be known to those in charge of the experiment. Many different types of aerial activity should be secretly and purposefully scheduled within the area.
About it, Vallee writes, “the Pentacle proposal goes far beyond anything mentioned before. It daringly states that ‘many different types of aerial activity should be secretly and purposefully scheduled within the area’. It is difficult to be more clear. We are not talking simply about setting up observing stations and cameras. We are talking about large-scale, covert simulation of UFO waves under military control.”

Pentacle's proposal seems to be this: Let's identify an area where people are making a large number of UFO reports. Let's set up an extensive monitoring system so that we know everything flying in or out of that area. Then we'll try a controlled experiment: we will cause the people to see balloons, unusual aircraft activity, etc., and then monitor UFO reports we get from that area. We will see how a known stimulus is reported as an unknown object, and thereby better understand the UFO reports we receive.

This sounds like an excellent idea from a standpoint of science, although from a standpoint of law or ethics it may not pass muster. It also sounds rather expensive, and not easy to keep under wraps, which would defeat its purpose. Interestingly, as a result of several passive (not active) experiments of this kind, UFOlogist Allan Hendry, one of Hynek's chief investigators during the 1970s, became far more skeptical about eyewitness reports. As detailed in his book, The UFO Handbook, Hendry examined the reports being received originating from a known stimulus (advertising aircraft, balloons, etc.) and found many of them so wildly in error that he cautioned against taking such reports at face value. To other UFOlogists, Hendry seemed to be guilty of horrible blasphemy (even though he believed some UFO reports to be unexplainable), and they began to denounce him. Understandably embittered, Hendry withdrew from UFOlogy some thirty years ago, and has refused to discuss it since then.

A frequent theme in Forbidden Science is Vallee's commentary about the rigidity of bureaucracy, in government and in science, in France and in the U.S. He gives one example after another of seemingly good proposals being rejected or even ignored by a bureaucracy unwilling to accept change. What is surprising is that here Vallee, of all people, seems to be confusing a proposal with a project. He must surely realize that, merely because Pentacle is proposing some grand and new UFO investigative project, the odds of that proposal being actually implemented by a rigid Air Force bureaucracy (which clearly had little enthusiasm for UFO investigation) were slim to none. This passage does not in any way establish that such a controlled experiment involving UFO stimuli was ever carried out.

Commentary

I was very interested to read this book not only for its historical aspects, but also because his path in certain ways parallels mine. We both were interested in astronomy from childhood - and also in UFOs. Many of the people and the places he writes about during his years at Northwestern are familiar to me. I learned that Vallee left Northwestern to go back to France just two weeks before I arrived there as a freshman, interested in science and astronomy - and UFOs - except that I was a skeptic even then. I lived in Sargent Hall, right next to the Technological Institute where Vallee earlier had his office - on the opposite side of that building from Dearborn Observatory, which housed the astronomy department offices. His description of Hynek exactly matches my own recollections: disorganized, witty, charming, and obviously quite pleased to be in the media spotlight for UFOs. Hynek would eagerly recount his meetings and his travel, and newly-received UFO reports, never quite sure what to do about them. Later Vallee and I each moved to California's Silicon Valley because of the outstanding career opportunities there at that time.

However, even more striking are the differences in our world-views, and in the way we think. Surprisingly, Vallee writes quite seriously about matters such as

  • Rosicrucianism:   They claim that their 'Ancient Wisdom' is thousands of years old, but there is absolutely no proof of that. "I find their documents to be an interesting spiritual complement to my scientific training. Every month I receive a set of course material through the mail. It includes both theoretical reading and instructions for simple rituals, promising insight into higher realities" (Vallee, p. 39). He later explains that the Rosicrucian order he belongs to is "AMORC, which is headquartered in San Jose." If you've ever seen that Rosicrucian Museum with the awesome mummies interspersed with cheesy claims of ancient mysteries, that's the group he was talking about. When I was a kid, they used to regularly have ads on the back page of comic books. Hynek was also interested in Rosicrucianism (p. 233).
  • Astrology: Vallee, and later Hynek, became friends with Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, who were attempting to put astrology on a scientific basis. "Yesterday Hynek went back to see the Gauquelins to discuss astrology and destiny" (p. 341). Vallee claims he was responsible for his publisher Regnery accepting Gauquelin's book on astrology, The Cosmic Clocks. In the early days of CSICOP, there was a big stink when the skeptics challenged Gauquelin's "Mars Effect" data, which apparently was (in that one instance) correct. However, the correlations he claimed to find could not be replicated.
  • Mystical and psychic realms: "In recent discussions with Hynek, I pointed out that the saucer question may well be part of a complex series of scientific realities, but it also plunges deep into mystical and psychic theories. I found him very receptive to this idea" (p. 88).
  • Alchemy, elementals, homunculi.......seriously!!
As for myself, I cannot see how any intelligent person can, upon clear reflection, take any of those subjects seriously. I have never felt that there was some 'alternate' or 'hidden' realm of being, at least not since I figured out that the Catholic Catechism I was being fed was a load of codswallop.

Their Huge Mistake

Ultimately, the case for UFOs as promoted by Hynek, Vallee, and their followers boils down to what Hynek termed "credible persons reporting incredible things." Now exactly how "credible" is that, especially if it is supposed to serve as a foundation for a radical revision of science?

The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, invariably shortened to The Royal Society, is the oldest and probably the most prestigious scientific body in the world. Founded in 1660, over the years its Fellows have included such luminaries as Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Humphry Davy, Charles Darwin, and practically every other British scientist of any note, as well as a number of foreign ones.

The intellectual world of the mid-seventeenth century was very different from ours today. Learned men disputed not only about the properties of gases and the motions of the planets, but about witches, miraculous apparitions, and other apparent violations of the natural order. How to sort out what is real from what is not?

 The Royal Society selected for its motto, Nullius in verba, which serves as a sort of Razor for scientific claims. The Latin phrase translates literally as “on the word of no one,” or, more colloquially, "take nobody's word for it". If you have some kind of proof for what you are claiming, then it can be investigated. But if all you have are words, it cannot.

The Royal Society, the world's oldest modern scientific organization -
"Take Nobody's Word For It."
In our day, we still get reports from seemingly credible persons of things we are fairly certain do not exist: UFOs, Bigfoot, angels, and miracles of every kind. The popular press and the mass media are very fond of such claims. They make good ratings. But they make very bad science.
             The UFO proponent’s motto, on the other hand, would seem to be something like Omnius in Verba, or “words are all we’ve got.” In fact, Hynek was honest enough to admit that directly: we possess no actual UFOs, he said, only reports of them. Hynek was surprised and genuinely hurt when the scientific establishment replied to him, as it had to in order to remain true to its centuries-old foundation, “we take nobody’s word for it.” Give us a piece of a UFO, or some indisputably authentic, clear and detailed photos, or some instrumental data. But if all you have to offer are stories about sightings of UFOs, we are not interested. Nullius in verba, Allen.
            Vallee wrote that, concerning UFOs, “the scientific world is as close-minded as an old pig” ( p.184). Jacques, you’re a very bright fellow. You should know that Nullius in verba has been the rule in science since 1660. Since then, the scientific world has embraced Newton’s laws of motion and of gravitation, electromagnetism, evolution, Einstein’s relativity, quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, and the Big Bang. These are just a few of the major paradigm changes occurring in science since that time. Not bad for a close-minded old pig. Now exactly what kind of evidence do you have to offer, Jacques? Words?
             That is the big mistake of Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee, and more recently of Kevin Randle, John Alexander, Leslie Kean, and so many others:   Nullius in verba, folks.




49 comments:

  1. Vallee surely knew, from a reading of Ruppelt's book if nothing else, that scientists and semi-official bodies were looking at UFO reports from the late 1940s. There were always 'advisers' and 'consultants' to the USAF (Hynek being the leading one). There was a thing called 'Project Bear' I think. Ruppelt talks about this.

    There had been a Project Twinkle in, I believe, 1949 to examine the green fireballs that had been so prevalent in the southwest US. Ruppelt does refer obliquely to this punched card project (at Battelle) without naming it.

    All these were a part of the USAF official investigations. None of this should surprise Vallee. I don't know when he wrote the words you quote but Leon Davidson published several editions of the Battelle Institute report before Vallee even entered the UFO field! True, it was published as Blue Book Report 14. This was because Battelle did not want its name associated with UFOs at the time. Neither, for that matter, did the CIA want its name associated with the Robertson Committee.

    Didn't Vallee have a change of heart on UFOs during his career (or maybe several such changes)?

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    1. Ladies and Gentlemen:

      We must take into account Richard M. Dolan's fantastic book UFOS AND THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE. [Read the book]

      As the years passed and more and more UFO footage came into our company, [Before SPFX home computer graphics could edit and make many fake UFOs which are on the internet.] Many of our tens of thousands of UFO captured on videotape, and sent to us, "JUST BLINKED OUT" Where did they go? Our UFO VIDEOTAPES are all over the world and all over the internet, included in documentries from Isreal to Japan, Canada to Greece, England to all of Europe, Why would TV stations bother with something that does not exhist. Even the Walt Disney Company Did a UFO special. (GOOGLE ALIEN ENCOUNTERS FROM THE NEW TOMORROWLAND).

      Below this reply is another reply that states closely "NOT ONE SHREAD OF EVIDENCE, NOT ONE PIECE OF WRECKAGE". To inform that writer, these facts are not true! If disk craft(s) with multi colored lights which have been videotaped in broad daylight all over the world is/are not a 747,707,727,757, AIRBUS, HELICOPTER,BOMBARDIER*{*Manufactures of the Lear Jet & Others) KITE, BIRD, BALLOONE, AND other object that fly in our skys for over 60 years, THAN I ASK YOU WHAT ARE THEY?
      We the public have learned much about UFOs you ask about evidence which one can hold in their hand. Yet you do not study anti gravity fields, or other elements, or the various light waves. Quite simple my dear Watson, most UFOs either turn invisible, or perhaps even before they crash, perhaps the physical matter of UFOs turn into a gas (Anyone remember Angels Hair coming out of UFOs in the early 1950's? It was solid as the rocks thrown across a pond, yet vanished into a gas and became invisible. Today as I write this our own government is working with special paints that change color with their enviorment. So as long as you think like a human from the planet Earth you (Skeptics) will always use the head in the sand explanation. I know what my late mother, father and I saw that night of Feb 9, 1964, when a disk shaped UFO landed on the undeveloped properity that is now the POMONA FREEWAY Hacienda Hgts, Ca.USA. Documents come and go, alien abductions come and go, videotapes and movie films of UFOs come and go. Books on UFO come and go. However UFOS only arrive!

      [More info on my sightings YOU TUBE SEARCH Dave Aaron, Than play "UFO EVIDENCE COLLECTOR, DAVE AARON, from FOX news and STRANGE UNIVERSE.

      Dave Aaron
      Creator
      THE UFO AUDIO VIDEO CLEARING HOUSE
      YUCAIPA, CA 92399-0432 USA

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  2. The problem with "take nobody's word for it" is that it implies a single person's word, or maybe a few if one wishes to be charitable. When you have a phenomenon which is worldwide in scope, and has been seen by thousands of credible people from all walks of life, including pilots and military personnel, and they actually describe objects with very common characteristics, then this so called 'rule of thumb' can no longer apply. Statistically, the very large number of similar reports that have accumulated over the past 60 years strongly suggests that there is indeed a 'signal' behind the noise!

    Remember that we're not dealing with something that can easily be investigated in the laboratory - the phenomenon is by nature very elusive, and therefore difficult to pin down for proper study. Science has so far decided to just ignore the whole business, but I'm very confident that this will change, and sooner rather than later.

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    1. The 'signal' is of course normal aerial phenomena, misinterpreted.

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    2. > seen by thousands of credible people

      0 + 0 = 0, no matter how many zeroes are in the first half of the equation.

      These thousands of reports have not led to a single scapecraft or alien. No one has been able to take their direction, speed or number to make inferences of their origin or destination -- or any other determination of any kind.

      Is that data then scientific in any way?

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    3. So Terry the Censor: The old words "SEEING IS BELIVING" Applies to everything, but UFOs?

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    4. > "SEEING IS BELIVING" Applies to everything, but UFOs?

      If all you're concerned about is personal belief, then what you think you see is good enough for you. But no one else need be compelled that you saw anything.

      If these observations have any value at all, they could be added together and analysed to track down the source or destination of the flying saucers. So far that hasn't happened. So far, flying saucer proponents seem happy enough to set aside their mountains of data and just tell stories.

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    5. "So far, flying saucer proponents seem happy enough to set aside their mountains of data and just tell stories." For the most part that's true, but a quantitative (and even computerized) approach has been tried a number of times: Aime Michel, Vallee, Hynek, David Saunders, even Blue Book Special Report 14. No consistent patterns emerged. Occasionally some patterns seemed to emerge (like Michel's "orthoteny"), but upon further study do not recur, which is what one would expect from random data.

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  3. "Statistically, the very large number of similar reports that have accumulated over the past 60 years strongly suggests that there is indeed a 'signal' behind the noise!"

    Unless, of course, you examine the history of such stories, going back hundreds of years, and find the "credible," common, and remarkably similar reports of demons, witches, possessions, little folk, and on and on and on. There are detailed reports from just before WWI of German airships in the skies of England, one actually providing details of the uniforms of those within; these occurred long before Germany had any such capability, and the ability to see details on a uniform fades at less than a hundred meters, an altitude that an airship is rather unlikely to be operating below. These reports were spurred by sensationalist media promoting the rumors that Germany was developing such technology.

    That's kind of the problem, and it appears with alarming frequency throughout the history of UFO reports. As media attention grows, so do the supposed sightings. Now, I personally have never seen a UFO of any kind, but I bet I could produce dozens of reports that would be seen as confirming details and characteristics of others, substantiating their claims and building on this suggested "signal." All it takes is reading a book on UFOs. You cannot determine signal from noise by claiming that it's all signal, or that at least *some* of it must be.

    Even if you wanted to accept that such a signal exists, what then do you do about it? This is a serious question, one that has remained unanswered from everyone I've posed it to. The legions of UFO proponents across the world have never managed to produce anything more substantial than verbal accounts and bad photos. What do you have to build on, to move forward with? Biologists with detailed photos of a suspected new species can visit the same areas, speak to residents, set traps, and if they're lucky, may confirm the existence of something new. What do UFO hunters do, except whine that they're not being taken seriously?

    "Science has so far decided to just ignore the whole business, but I'm very confident that this will change, and sooner rather than later."

    Feel free to come back and gloat when it does. I've lived through innumerable such promises, stating that this was going to take place by 1976, 1980, 1990, 2000, and of course 2011. Most amusing is that almost none of the publications that featured such claims even exists now...

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  4. There is a long and very level-headed article about the 'Pentacle' letter in the May/June 1993 issue of IUR, by Jennie Zeidman and Mark Rodeghier. Zeidman had worked at Battelle and knew some of the recipients of this letter. The letter itself is printed as well. The authors severely criticise Jaques Vallee over his reaction to it.

    Also interesting is that Battelle never at any time examined any UFO artifacts or physical evidence, and indeed complained to the USAF about the lack of such. This gives the lie to some recent claims about portions of the Roswell wreckage being examined by Battelle in the late 1940s.

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  5. To: Al Denelsbeck:

    Re your first paragraph; “….and find the "credible," common, and remarkably similar reports of demons, witches, possessions, little folk, and on and on and on……”

    While there may be a superficial similarity of the UFO phenomenon to these other historic cultural ‘beliefs’ that arose during an age when ignorance prevailed, it certainly cannot be put on a par with them. This is because the public at large nowadays is that much more savvy to technological advances and therefore have a much greater awareness of what is or isn’t possible. If members of the public now consistently report seeing unusual aerial phenomena and those observations are found to be supported by a great many other witnesses then one has to be alert to the possibility that they may be reporting an actual event. The analogy I prefer instead is the outright dismissal by 18th century scientists to consider the possibility of ‘stones falling from the sky’. It took a long time to eventually prove that the latter observation was a true one.

    Let’s consider an actual example of modern witness testimony regarding a classic UFO sighting and how much credibility can be assigned to it. I first came upon this blog last November when the March 1997 ‘Phoenix Lights’ incident was mentioned. The focus by the blog then was inevitably on the 10pm distant arc lights seen and photographed and which were attributable to flares dropped by the US military. But the MAIN UFO event of that day was the earlier sighting (8.00pm) of a giant boomerang object seen by hundreds of people from different parts of the greater Phoenix area. I consider this case to be one of the best recorded and most puzzling of the modern UFO era. Here’s my challenge to you (and to anyone else wishing to comment). Take a look at these actual witness testimonies (which fortunately have been filmed!) and tell me what it is you think these people are describing.

    In this first sequence only the first 10 minutes or so need to be watched:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIeGeE0uDJg

    In this second sequence you need to skip the intro and start in at approx. 13 minutes and view for at least ten minutes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_VlvHKgiK0&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL73D21445A68CF99D

    Once you’ve watched these then we’ll be in a better position to discuss the merits or otherwise of witness credibility and whether one can indeed afford to ‘take nobody’s word for it’ in the wider context.

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    1. "While there may be a superficial similarity of the UFO phenomenon to these other historic cultural ‘beliefs’ that arose during an age when ignorance prevailed, it certainly cannot be put on a par with them. This is because the public at large nowadays is that much more savvy to technological advances and therefore have a much greater awareness of what is or isn’t possible."

      Oh please. How many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide believe water has a "memory" and "like cures like," which are the two defining aspects of homeopathy?

      Besides, you're addressing two entirely different aspects, and making a broad assumption that is both unwarranted and naive. I gave you a specific example for a reason: a certain, unknown percentage of any such reports are completely imagined. There is no technological savvy or perception to be applied, since nothing was actually witnessed in the first place.

      If you're typical, you're about to go off on a rant about how people automatically dismiss all UFO reports as hoaxes, which is not at all what I said. But, such hoaxes do indeed exist, so the job of any (decent) investigator is to recognize that this possibility is indeed in the mix, and to first try and determine if they are dealing with such a thing. The very next part is to determine if what the witness saw, and how they interpreted it, are two entirely different things.

      "The focus by the blog then was inevitably on the 10pm distant arc lights seen and photographed and which were attributable to flares dropped by the US military. But the MAIN UFO event of that day was the earlier sighting (8.00pm) of a giant boomerang object seen by hundreds of people from different parts of the greater Phoenix area."

      Well, you're in distinct disagreement with the majority of UFO proponents, since the first sighting was typical of aircraft flying in formation (and even had one witness, viewing by telescope, who saw the aircraft silhouettes) and was thus unremarkable. It probably would have gone by with little attention if it wasn't for the flare drop. Two events in one night caused everyone to get all flustered, even though one actually wasn't an event.

      "Once you’ve watched these then we’ll be in a better position to discuss the merits or otherwise of witness credibility and whether one can indeed afford to ‘take nobody’s word for it’ in the wider context."

      Well, speaking as someone who has not only read countless studies on the problems with both perception and suggestion (look up "Elizabeth Loftus" for perhaps the best studies performed, but also Google "Did you see the gorilla?",) but has also performed some experiments on my own, what makes you think listening to someone's testimony is in any way going to affect that?

      Have you, by any chance, checked out the "witness testimonies" of the "missile launch" last year, that turned out to be an aircraft contrail? Most of the witnesses never saw anything but a few seconds of film clip, not long enough and not framed in such a way as to provide any clues regarding either tangential velocity or scale, yet they were extremely confident that this was no aircraft. Until someone came along and showed what a real investigation was, including triangulating viewing angle and comparing flight paths and weather reports for the contrail altitude, and determined not only that it was an aircraft, but the actual flight number. There's nothing that stops people from talking out of their ass with utmost confidence.

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    2. > the public at large nowadays is that much more savvy to technological advances and therefore have a much greater awareness of what is or isn’t possible

      This is a patently baseless argument.

      Some examples of popular yet unproven beliefs: vaccines cause autism, homepathy, healing touch therapy, chakras, chiropracty, astrology, reincarnation, power bracelets, and on and on.

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  6. To Al Denelsbeck:

    I’ve had to split my reply to you into two parts:

    Re your second paragraph in which you state “As media attention grows, so do the supposed sightings.” I’m afraid that this is just an unverified debunker myth. Again, referring to the Phoenix incident, there weren’t any prior sightings of the boomerang object of any note, or indeed TV shows discussing boomerang UFOs at the time. People had just gone out to watch the Hale-Bopp comet, and instead observed something totally unexpected. It was a spontaneous event that happened without warning.

    Re your third para: “Even if you wanted to accept that such a signal exists, what then do you do about it? This is a serious question, one that has remained unanswered from everyone I've posed it to. The legions of UFO proponents across the world have never managed to produce anything more substantial than verbal accounts and bad photos.”

    This is precisely the point. Science itself should be proactive in seeking to find out the nature of the signal, instead of relying on amateurs to provide answers. Why wasn’t there a delegation of Arizona University scientists quickly sent out to investigate the boomerang reports for themselves when it was fresh in everyone’s minds. They could, for example, have performed triangulation measurements from different witness proximities to independently verify that an actual object was observed. Instead, the scientific community somehow ‘knows’ that there’s nothing there, so there’s no point in doing anything about it. This is currently the ‘scientific method’ as applied to UFOs! Pathetic! This is nothing less than disgraceful – and I speak as a physical scientist who obviously greatly appreciates the necessity of good evidence in any scientific enquiry.

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    1. "Re your second paragraph in which you state “As media attention grows, so do the supposed sightings.” I’m afraid that this is just an unverified debunker myth. Again, referring to the Phoenix incident, there weren’t any prior sightings of the boomerang object of any note, or indeed TV shows discussing boomerang UFOs at the time. People had just gone out to watch the Hale-Bopp comet, and instead observed something totally unexpected. It was a spontaneous event that happened without warning."

      You can take a look at the number of reports that Project Blue Book recorded, before and after they announced that they were taking public reports (instead of strictly military) and tell me what the correlation was in the vast upsurge or sightings. You can check that "saucer shapes" went completely unrecorded until Kenneth Arnold was misquoted, when all of a sudden they became 'typical.' Or you can simply note that, after a report gains media attention (such as the Mexico City video,) all of a sudden eyewitnesses pop out of the woodwork. Check dates carefully, and I'll leave it to you to ponder why several days go past after an event with nothing, until it hits the news.

      As for Phoenix, what's your point? It's not like anyone has ever said there was nothing to be seen - it was a formation flight and a flare drop. Did you miss the key ingredient that you mentioned yourself, that *people had a reason to be out that night watching the skies*?

      And finally, be very, very careful with your assumptions. There were no *reports* of prior sightings of boomerang shapes. Does this mean that no one actually saw anything of the sort, or that they did, but considered it unremarkable and not worthy of reporting because it's not unheard of for military flights to appear that way? The difference between something casual and something serious is often directly related to how much importance someone *else* seems to give it. Plenty of people said that it was a flight of aircraft - are you discounting their eyewitness testimony? The news stations did, but then again, that's how news stations operate. Ratings are not generated by humdrum stories. And we still have far too many people who have never tumbled to that.

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    2. "This is precisely the point. Science itself should be proactive in seeking to find out the nature of the signal, instead of relying on amateurs to provide answers. Why wasn’t there a delegation of Arizona University scientists quickly sent out to investigate the boomerang reports for themselves when it was fresh in everyone’s minds."

      My suggestion has always been, put your money where your mouth is, and provide the funding for such yourself. There's little market for people who come back and say, "Yeah, it was just military maneuvers," even when capable of backing it up with tons of hard evidence, and the universities have no reason to pay their research associates to pursue such things. It's not a matter of assuming that it's nothing, but that no one has *ever* shown anything interesting to be found from it - including three Air Force studies and one independent from the University of Colorado.

      You also apparently missed that the Phoenix Lights, among many, many others, *have* been investigated, numerous times. Or are you assuming that they missed something, rather than finding nothing of interest - I suppose based on your videos of eyewitnesses? Seriously, be careful with your accusations of bias and assumptions - there's this pot and kettle thing...

      You should also be aware that the aforementioned University of Colorado investigative team actually had resources to respond immediately to any occurrences with decent tools and methods. They eventually closed all of it down from disuse. You might think there's a lot of reports all over the place, but now compare them for your own 100-kilometer radius and see what you end up with. So, seriously, train and outfit a corps of 'scientists' (I love how that word gets flung around with abandon) to be on hand constantly, on the odd chance that they actually do something for .005% of the time they're on staff, with *whose* money?

      Or do it yourself. There's nothing stopping you.

      Delete
  7. Sam: "When you have a phenomenon which is worldwide...."

    So far there is no "phenomenon," there are only ... REPORTS, innumerable, unverifiable, insubstantial and utterly inconsequential REPORTS.

    || The "Null Hypothesis" for UFO REPORTS, of which I am one of a handful of champions, states that no extraordinary stimuli are required to produce the entire array of public UFO perceptions in all their rich variety, wonderment, and terror. Known phenomena have produced all types of what is commonly known as "UFO REPORTS", including apparitions of flying disks, radar and radio interference, terrifying chases and "intelligent maneuvers", telepathic messages, "missing time" and hypnogenic narratives, recollections of participation in military UFO retrievals, actual "secret documents", and so forth. There seem to be no types of REPORTS which have not been, on record, produced at some point or another by prosaic stimuli and/or circumstances.||
    --Oberg, 1985 (REPORTS emphasis is mine)

    We cannot address the necessarily absent ambiguous stimuli for REPORTS directly, we can only analyse credulous REPORTS.

    Over a century of "UFO" REPORTS has not produced one REAL "UFO" of any kind, so how can one reasonably claim there is still (or even might be) an unknown "phenomenon" as the stimuli for REPORTS?

    The essential qualities of objects said to exist in the world are presence and persistence, substance. The "objects" of ... REPORTS fail to meet even these minimum requirements. And only by ignoring this obvious logical difficulty and so fallaciously assuming the existence of the "object" of their fantasy can believers in the ... MYTH and COLLECTIVE DELUSION pretend there is some reality, some "phenomenon" worthy of our interest.

    The world decided long ago that there is not, there's a much simpler explanation: the Psychosocial hypothesis.

    JBIS, 1947: This flying-saucer business in America has all the hallmarks of a sort of mass hysteria. (paraphase)

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  8. Zoamchomsky: “The world decided long ago that there is not, there's a much simpler explanation: the Psychosocial hypothesis”.

    OK - I’m very keen to learn about this ‘Psychosocial hypothesis’! Right now it seems to me to be little more than a meaningless pseudo-scientific term that a debunker might wish to hide behind. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and instead ask that you provide a comprehensive explanation of how this hypothesis ‘works’ to generate ‘collective delusions’ of an apparently identical object observed by widely separated groups of people. Please use the Phoenix witness testimonies that I referred to earlier to aid your explanation.

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    1. You are mistaken about the reports. If you actually looked at the NUFORC database, you would realize that only about 1/3rd to half (depending on your bias) reported seeing a large triangle/V -shaped object. The remainder of the witnesses reported a loose formation of lights with no dark object. This is an excellent demonstration of Dr. William Hartman's Airship and Excitedness effect (see Condon report on perception), which he noticed in the case of the Zond IV re-entry. I discussed this in SUNlite 2-3 (as well as complete wrap-up on the Arizona case). You can't blindly accept witness testimony without a bit more evidence. The only evidence from the formation of lights is a short video shot by Terry Proctor. Guess what...it shows no dark object and only shows a formation of lights that shift formation during the video. That should be a big red flag there about the minority of witnesses (who get all the face time in your video clips), who reported the dark object behind the lights.
      BTW, why do you think the UFO used a standard air route to transit Arizona that night instead of flying on a route that was not standard. Do the alien spaceshis have to follow standard FAA guidelines as well?

      Delete
    2. So about 1/3rd to half saw a large triangle/V-shaped object! And you don’t think that is sufficient reason to believe that something was there to be seen!!! What do you think was the stimulus that generated all these reports of essentially the same object? Or was it just an example of something ‘Psychosocial’. If there is a suggestion that this was imaginary - what then are the chances of all these people ‘imagining’ a large boomerang with lights on its ‘wings’ from very different vantage points? Remember also that in James Fox’s documentary he actually shows a movie taken by an army guy some years earlier of a very similar boomerang object with lights on its wings together with the filmer’s comments and those of a woman wondering what ‘the hell’ it was they were filming! You say that the remainder of the reports were of a ‘loose formation of lights with no dark object’. Well, since it was 8.00pm the lack of seeing the actual body of the dark object itself by some observers isn’t altogether surprising. Tim Ley - who got a very close up view of the object - confirmed in his testimony that it had a dark body which ‘blocked out the stars’! One of the lady witnesses from James Fox’s documentary described how the object stopped in the sky before retracting its wings and then disappearing. Boy, that’s some imagination there! LOL

      Re your: “excellent demonstration of Dr. William Hartman's Airship and Excitedness effect”. I answered this before last November. I reject the notion that it was a any kind of demonstration at all! For the benefit of other readers this is what I wrote back in November:

      So there was a re-entry of the Zond IV craft in 1968 which Hartmann describes thus:
      “At about 9:45 p.m. EST on 3 March, hundreds of American observers near a line from Kentucky to Pennsylvania saw a majestic procession of fiery objects with sparkling golden orange tails move across their sky. The spacecraft was disintegrating upon re-entry. Most observers saw two or three main pieces, while observers near the end of the path saw more. These objects were identified by NORAD as pieces of the Zond IV probe and this was confirmed on July 1st.” Hartmann then proceeds to account for “the many UFO reports that were generated.” In other words he has automatically assumed that any UFO reports made on that day would be directly attributable to the descending Zond debris! A few of these reports display features not uncommon for classical UFOs, such as cigar shapes with lighted windows. He proceeds to theorise how a “highly unobjective observer may even imagine a dark elongated form connecting them so that they become lights on a cigar-shaped object, or even windows on a cigar-shaped object”. Nowhere do I see the actual details of these UFO reports. Far from investigating the UFO reports themselves to determine any intrinsic anomalistic characteristics, he has just simply attributed their existence to the Zond re-entry. Like yourself, he ‘knows’ that there aren’t any ‘real’ UFOs so any other explanation will do. I’m sorry – I don’t buy it!

      As to the route used by the UFO to transit Arizona, my guess is that it deliberately chose the one that would make the biggest impact!

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    3. "So about 1/3rd to half saw a large triangle/V-shaped object! And you don’t think that is sufficient reason to believe that something was there to be seen!!!"

      No. How many actually thought to check and see if the stars really were blinking out between the lights, or proceeded on the assumption that it was a single object and thus never paid attention? How many were influenced by what others said? And I asked this before, and you avoided the question, so let's try again: Why are you deliberately discounting the testimony of those who identified it as a flight of aircraft?

      *Somebody's* dead wrong, actually a great number of them. How do you determine *who*? Let me give you a hint: the useful answer is not, "By ignoring everything that I don't want to hear."

      "What do you think was the stimulus that generated all these reports of essentially the same object? Or was it just an example of something ‘Psychosocial’."

      I'm not going to retype the countless studies that people have done on suggestibility. If you're too lazy to even search on terms I've provided, you're obviously not serious. Suffice to say that your "penetrating questions" here have long ago been answered, with very distinctive studies.

      "One of the lady witnesses from James Fox’s documentary described how the object stopped in the sky before retracting its wings and then disappearing. Boy, that’s some imagination there! LOL"

      Oh, good - I'm actually trying to have a serious discussion with somebody that types "lol."

      Yes, it could very well be imagination. It could be made up just for giggles. Have you any method at all of determining that it isn't?

      "Like yourself, he ‘knows’ that there aren’t any ‘real’ UFOs so any other explanation will do. I’m sorry – I don’t buy it!"

      I know I'm not going to actually reach you at all with this, but you're not the only one reading. You should probably realize, however, that plenty of people caught your double-standards about research and bias displayed with this sentence. Some find it amusing; some see it as the same ol' crap heard every time UFOs come up.

      Decent investigators, however, use the same standards throughout.

      "As to the route used by the UFO to transit Arizona, my guess is that it deliberately chose the one that would make the biggest impact!"

      Try not guessing.

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    4. Al - Your earlier replies were rather long and I’m therefore going to highlight snippets of your commentary and answer accordingly:

      Re your: “Oh please. How many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide believe water has a "memory" and "like cures like," which are the two defining aspects of homeopathy?”

      MY answer: These are just the beliefs of certain people – they are not observations of anomalous phenomena made by Joe Public that includes pilots and military personnel.

      Re your: “Well, you're in distinct disagreement with the majority of UFO proponents, since the first sighting was typical of aircraft flying in formation (and even had one witness, viewing by telescope, who saw the aircraft silhouettes) and was thus unremarkable.”

      MY answer: the first sighting was very definitely NOT typical of aircraft flying in formation !! Simply watching the Kitei video testimony should have convinced you of that. But you choose to disregard people’s testimony because it doesn’t fit in with your own highly biased view.

      Re your: “what makes you think listening to someone's testimony is in any way going to affect that?.......... There's nothing that stops people from talking out of their ass with utmost confidence.”

      My answer: Again, if you choose to disregard people’s clear testimony because it doesn’t fit in with your own highly blinkered view that’s up to you, but it unfortunately doesn’t allow for reasoned debate.

      Re your: “As for Phoenix, what's your point? It's not like anyone has ever said there was nothing to be seen - it was a formation flight and a flare drop. Did you miss the key ingredient that you mentioned yourself, that *people had a reason to be out that night watching the skies*?”

      MY answer: No, it clearly WASN’T a formation flight! This is just your belief!

      Re your: “Plenty of people said that it was a flight of aircraft - are you discounting their eyewitness testimony?”

      MY answer: SHOW me the evidence for this!!

      Re your: “It's not a matter of assuming that it's nothing, but that no one has *ever* shown anything interesting to be found from it - including three Air Force studies and one independent from the University of Colorado.”

      MY answer: it has been very evident from the start that the US government wants to keep a tight lid on this UFO business, so what did you expect from the USAF? And everyone knows that the Colorado study was fatally flawed by its association with Edward Condon as its head (who already ‘knew’ - before the study even started - that UFOs didn’t exist and that the report would confirm this!)

      Now here’s something for you to ponder and hopefully try and explain:

      The first director of the CIA, Vice Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter is on record of stating this: ‘Behind the scenes, highranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned
      about UFOs. But, through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense… to hide the facts, the Air Force has silenced its personnel’ (NY Times, Feb 28, 1960).

      And….

      The French COMETA group comprising of a highly distinguished group of scientists and military personnel DID conduct an in-depth investigation into UFOs and concluded that about 5% of the cases they studied were utterly inexplicable and that the best hypothesis to explain them was the ETH.(1999). The group also accused the United States government of engaging in a massive cover-up of the evidence.

      Delete
    5. Very funny. A minority of witnesses reported a dark object and they are considered the only witnesses that were correct? What a strange selection of the data you have. It is commonly referred to as "cherry picking". You are suffering from a confirmation bias/will to believe.

      You ignore the only evidence for the actual event that can be physically examined and that is the sole video tape of the light formation. It demonstrates that it was not a single object but individual lights. As a result, those witnesses, who reported saw the object were, more than likely, suffering from airship and excitedness effects (BTW, the actual reports can be found at the bluebook archive if you look up the date. There are sketches made by the witnesses as well as their reports).

      I also find your belief that the UFO wanted to make the best impact possible a joke and demonstrates you are being blinded by your personal beliefs. Why pick Phoenix (btw, where did it disappear to after Phoenix)and the metropolis of Prescott, Arizona? Why not Washington DC or the northeastern US where DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Hartford, and Boston would all see the glory and power of the aliens? Now that flight path would be designed for effect. That line of argument is a poor one.

      You can wave your hand all you want but you can't deny the fact that only 1/3rd of the 1997 witnesses saw the dark object and the video does not support their testimonies.

      Delete
  9. Was there a study (or even a test) similar to what was proposed by Cross? It seems they would have at least monitored the specific aerial projects that most often tended to produce UFO sightings.

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  10. "the first sighting was very definitely NOT typical of aircraft flying in formation !! Simply watching the Kitei video testimony should have convinced you of that. But you choose to disregard people’s testimony because it doesn’t fit in with your own highly biased view"

    Said the pot calling the kettle black. You are seeing only select testimonies here. The producers only show the stories they want you to see. As I have continuously stated regarding this case, look at the 1997 reports and not the videos. See what people actually reported then and not what they reported years later. You will discover that A MAJORITY of the witnesses saw no dark object. You are the one who is disregarding the negative witness' testimony in favor of a select few who report what you want to hear. It is bad science.

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    1. On the contrary - I am seeing the data that I have to hand! Show me your documented and/or filmed evidence that implies that the 8.00pm event was simply planes flying in formation.

      Delete
    2. You are not looking at the data. You are watching videos of some people telling stories about what they think they saw. You can see the ACTUAL reports/data at the NUFORC website. A majority are quite different than the story told in these videos.

      Delete
    3. The video testimony IS raw data of the best kind regarding UFOs in my view, since it superbly typifies the 'incredible reports told by credible people' that is so characteristic of the phenomenon. I can appreciate that for yourself it must be an irritation to have to muse over what they mean, because there's no easy debunking answer. And many of the witness reports shown in the two documentaries might not have ended up on the NUFORC data base anyway - so what can you conclude on that?

      Delete
    4. Actually, several of the primary witnesses, who appeared in just about every program are in the NUFORC database (Ley and Fortson). They stories they described back in 1997 is slightly different than what they reported later. Estimated sizes and distances changed. Obviously, there is an influence effect. However, the raw reports in the NUFORC database made in 1997 were not influenced by the media and are probably the most accurate. Failing to recognize this fact just demonstrates you are more interested in the sensational reports. This is bad investigative procedure and indicates you are interested in only confirming what you want to believe.

      Delete
  11. "SHOW me the evidence for this!!"

    Sorry, I missed this one. Rich Contry, Mitch Stanley, John Middleton/Larry Campbell of American west airline flight near Phoenix. Those are a few. One can also infer aircraft from several of the witness reports in the NUFORC database. At least one reported they saw each of the lights have additional red and green lights (standard navigation lighting on aircraft).

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    1. According to the councillor shown in Kitei's documentary, approx. 700 reports came in that described the boomerang object. How many reports were there in total of planes flying in formation?

      Delete
    2. Do you mean Emma Barwood? A nobody concilperson (politician who will say anything to get elected or appear in the media), who made a name for herself regarding this. Where are these 700 reports? Can they be presented to be analyzed? Can you name the individuals as I did? I can just as easily claim that I have a 1000 reports of people seeing they were a formation of planes. I will admit that such a claim would be a lie. However, it is the same thing as Barwood making her claim. It means nothing without the data to back it up.

      Here is the only video of the 8PM event:

      http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/ufos-over-phoenix-the-v-shaped-object.html

      Compare it to the first few seconds of this video clip:

      Then look at this website.

      http://forgetomori.com/2008/ufos/multiple-ufos-in-formation-taped-over-chile/

      When I showed the first clip to somebody interested in the case, they could see the comparison to the Proctor video. When I showed the clip of the airplanes that produced it, they were convinced the airplane formation explanation had merit for the Arizona UFOs.

      I don't expect you to be convinced. However, others, with more open minds, will see a compelling explanation.

      Delete
    3. I have seen the Proctor video before. I don't think there's any way to confirm that it represents a formation of planes or not. Proctor says that what he filmed was silent - which perhaps argues against it being planes.
      The fact that you have a second video of a vaguely similar grouping of lights that did turn out to be Chilean planes doesn't prove anything at all regarding the Proctor video. You can't prove something just through a similarity.

      What did you think about the army guy(+wife?)'s video of a boomerang object which they also expressed puzzlement about (in Fox's documentary)?

      I wasn't surprised by your attack on Barwood. It was the only thing you could do! :o)

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    4. The video shows that the lights were not connected. That is the point you seem to have missed. It falsifies the observation by the minority of the witnesses who stated that there was a solid object behind the light.
      I am not sure what you mean by the Army guy. I saw no such video. Perhaps you can link and give a time mark.
      As for Barwood, you should read Tony Ortega's article, "The Hack and the Quack". It is pretty revealing. My point was that she does not provide the evidence to support her claim. You seem to be skeptical about my explanation no matter what evidence I present but you blindly accept what these videos tell you. Quite the double standard you have there.

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    5. By the way, Mr. Printy, I loved your work on the RB-47 case - my comment on that post here was eaten by the server gremlins. You inspired a post of my own, in this one case linked directly in my name above. I simply don't have the patience to track down details to that extent, so from me at least, thanks for the effort!

      Delete
    6. We do not know for sure that the object/formation that Proctor took the video of is actually related to the object seen by the witnesses shown in the documentaries. You’re implying that it is, because you then try and cast doubt on the same testimony. But to me, it doesn’t look much like anything so I can’t make the connection that you make. It’s as simple as that.

      The other thing that I’d like say is this: If there was a formation of planes flying in a V-shape over Arizona on that day, why didn’t the airport authorities know about it and make a pronouncement regarding it? Or even Luke Airforce Base for that matter?

      The film clip that I mentioned is just about the first thing that’s shown on the Fox video, and it’s then repeated after a few minutes. It’s the one where the film taker is heard to say “what in the hell is that” referring to the V-shape with lights that can just about be seen (but better on the actual DVD which I have)?

      Can you guys comment on the Hillenkoetter and COMETA statements.

      Delete
    7. So you are taking the stance that Proctor recorded some other UFO and not the huge V? Was it merely a coincidence that during the same time frame these people were reporting this huge V, all he saw was a formation of lights? Then you have to wonder about Mike Fortson, who claimed to have seen the V and then, as it passed in front of the moon (this is his testimony btw) the V turned translucent at that instant and the moon changed color and looked like fumes of a gas can had passed over it. Amazing testimony and very indicative for a formation of aircraft.
      BTW, nobody bothered to look into the matter of the aircraft formation. Luke AFB did not bother and was not interested in activity over the Phoenix skies. A formation of aircraft would only have one aircraft with its transponder on so the radar would only have the indicator for that craft alone. Additionally, I gave you the testimony of the America West pilots. They were the ones who identified them as Tutors because they asked the enroute controller (not the local Phoenix controllers who did not have responsibility for these aircraft because of their altitude) he identified them. So, obviously somebody knew but nobody in UFOlogy wanted to find out. This is no surprise.
      I have to come to the conclusion that if I were to produce pilot names, tail numbers, flight logs, flight plans, radar data, and the like, you still would not accept it as a possibility. Like the proctor video, you would state that there still was a V out there in addition to these aircraft in formation!

      As for the video, I see nothing more than a few lights in formation very much like the Proctor video. It was not even taken in 1997 but, instead recorded in 1992. I find it amusing that Fox chose not to air the Proctor video in detail so people could see the shifting lights, which would indicate the witnesses were not accurate. Why give everyone all the information when you are busy promoting only one side of the story. The 1992 video really is not applicable. However, are you seriously calling this a V-shaped object behind the lights? I just don't see it.

      Delete
    8. We'll just have to agree to disagree on the Proctor video! Regarding the other video, if you watch the actual Fox DVD the V-shape is definitely more apparent.

      Can I enquire what your take is on the Hillenkoetter and COMETA statements?

      Delete
    9. Obviously, you are seeing what you want to see in the video you describe. I recall seeing the program and never did I see any videos of a dark V in that clip. I will look again.

      Hillenkoetter was the director of the CIA but later became the board of directors at NICAP. Their claim was always that there was a conspiracy. HK's statement is just more of the same NICAP party line. He offers no evidence for such a conspiracy and never did.

      The COMETA report was not an official document but written by a group that was pro-UFO and pro-conspiracy. Is it any surpise you have them accusing the US of a conspiracy but never mentioning that all the other governments are just as guilty because they should know the truth as well. It is not like the US is the only one who has studied UFOs over the past 60 years. Read:

      http://www.book-of-thoth.com/portalsupport/coppermine/albums/UFOebooks/cometa_commentary.pdf

      Delete
    10. But WHY should these people be claiming there's a conspiracy if they didn't think the evidence was compelling in the first place. These people are the very antithesis of being gullible dupes!

      Delete
    11. They believe this because it is the only way they can explain their hypothesis. The reason the aliens don't reveal themselves or that UFOlogists can't collect actual evidence is because the evil government is hiding them and the evidence. The truth of the matter is there is no good evidence for the ETH and it is all just a big smoke screen to deflect attention away from UFOlogy's failure.

      Delete
  12. As a case study about UFO proponents, this comment stream is remarkably effective - so many of the commonly-seen tropes are nicely gathered together in one place! We have the "incredible accounts from credible eyewitnesses" (despite the obvious self-contradiction, this misses how "credible" is actually defined or determined); military and pilot witnesses being more dependable than others ('why' remains to be established); government conspiracy; the impossibility of suggestibility being a factor; the complete dismissal of hoaxes and exaggeration being a factor; the selectivity of witness testimony only towards confirmation; and the double-standard of evidence weighing, where a few eyewitnesses *confirm* an alien spacecraft but a demonstration of common events being able to produce the exact same effect is in some way irrelevant. I feel cheated now, since we're missing mind-control and accusations of being government disinformation agents.

    It's not hard to see why few make any effort with such things; what's the point of demonstrating critical examination when the only goal of the UFO proponent is to seek self-confirmation? I personally only bother because forums like this are public, and others might be following along. But the most salient point of such interchanges is that UFO reports, far too often, only seem compelling because only the compelling aspects are ever promoted. Yet there's a difference between emotional affirmation and finding useful info: finding useful info requires testing to see if, by some small chance, people are actually fallible.

    Alternately, I could play devil's advocate, and simply say, "Fine - you have demonstrated that numerous people have seen visiting alien spacecraft. What now? Who are they, where are they from, what kind of propulsion are they using, what kind of life forms are they, do they have their own version of DNA, are they religious, what form of government do they practice, do they like music, can we benefit from them, will they participate in the Olympics,...?" and any other questions that would naturally arise from actual contact with an extraterrestrial species. So far, it would seem "boomerang shape" is about all anyone can tell us. Fascinating!

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    1. You approach this question with a 100% conviction that ET isn't here, despite the fact that with our own paltry 400 years of scientific advancement we've stepped onto the moon and sent probes into deep space. What are we going to be able to achieve in another 100 or even 1000 years time? The mind boggles.

      And yet, there may already be ET civilisations out there whose advancement dwarves even this. So what gives you the absolute conviction to believe that they're not already monitoring us?

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  13. Sam; We're still waiting for veracious evidence of a "phenomenon," some extraordinary other you believe is the stimulus for innumerable, insubstantial and utterly inconsequential ... REPORTS. Or are others' WORDS all you have?

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    1. The evidence is as I have described it. That you should choose to describe it as "innumerable, insubstantial and utterly inconsequential" is simply your own flawed conclusion.

      Delete
    2. You're not getting it, Sam. The Phoenix event has been thoroughly explained: typical misperceptions made inside the prevailing "UFO" delusion archetype; some people conditioned to expect a giant black triangle reporting seeing that, but most did not.

      Now what you need to understand is the fact that the totality of all "UFO" reports ever made is utterly inconsequential. It's not an opinion, it's a fact in the world. There's not one single report of consequence in any of it. If there were, we'd all know it already. But there are no "UFO" facts. Over a century of "UFO" reports has amounted to nothing because there aren't any REAL "UFOs" and there never were. The "UFO" myth and delusion has its origin in airship and flying-saucer hoaxes created to sell newspapers and magazines; and the whole of "UFO" myth-making has never been about anything but selling books!

      None of this irrational "UFO" nonsense means anything outside of the "UFO" subculture. Charlatans are selling a load of fossilised "UFO" trash and only gullible fools are buying.

      Armed with the Null hypothesis of “UFO” reports; knowledge of the history of the myth and collective delusion as an easily understandable cultural phenomenon, and the very obvious product of the human imagination (and a conceptual absurdity); and the biological and astronomical implausibility of the ETH: the Psychosocial hypothesis not only destroys the delusion, it destroys the reasons for believing.

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  14. Hillenkoetter claiming there was a conspiracy? But he was the very one who briefed Eisenhower on the Roswell affair and made him aware of all the analysis of the wreckage and bodies up to that point! He made sure Ike was kept informed on the subject!

    All right, joking apart, Hillenkoetter was attracted to UFOs by his association with Keyhoe (the two had been pals together while naval students at Annapolis). He joined NICAP and Keyhoe was of course 'over the moon' to have him as director and to the fore in the great battle with the USAF over UFO secrecy. Then suddenly Hillenkoetter quit, and Keyhoe was crestfallen. Keyhoe then insisted the CIA or the AF had applied pressure to get him to quit. Not so; he became disenchanted with NICAP's constant squabbling, and disapproved of their methods. He then more or less dropped out of ufology and even seemed to side a bit with Menzel in the latter's debunking role, judging from a letter he wrote to Menzel in 1963.

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  15. What I have never understood is that a single credible person's word is (many times) enough to make 12 independent people believe what they have to say and condemn a man to death. On the other hand we have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of credible witnesses seeing UFO, many times thousands of credible witnesses at one time,(phoenix Lights & Belgium wave) and it is not enough to prove anything. It is a paradox to be sure!

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  16. There is a very interesting article in the current January/February, 2013 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer by John Franch, titled "The Secret Life of J. Allen Hynek." In it, he draws upon Vallee's writings and Hynek's papers in the Northwestern University Library to show that, far from being a skeptic, Hynek was dabbling in metaphysical and other mystical stuff since his youth.

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