Sunday, November 23, 2014

American University Visits UFO Fantasyland

On the evening of November 12, 2014, a three-hour mini UFO symposium was held at American University in Washington, DC, featuring some of today's best-known "serious" UFOlogists. Many UFO proponents had great hopes that this event might result in "a crack in the wall" (journalist and UFO blogger Billy Cox' term) of supposed UFO suppression, and open the floodgates to allow "scientific" UFO studies everywhere. Cox writes,
[American University] international relations professor Patrick Jackson, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at the School of International Service... has volunteered to sub for PBS science reporter Miles O’Brien (scheduling conflict) and moderate AU’s three-hour panel discussion “UFOs: Encounters by Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials.” This is a free public event extending from an honors colloquium taught by cinema professor John Weiskopf. The lineup includes USAF veteran Charles Halt (the Bentwaters incident), retired NASA scientist Richard Haines (National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena founder), Roswell investigator Thomas Carey, and New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kean... “How often does an honors class take a serious look at UFOs? John Weiskopf is to be commended for making this happen,” states Kean. “American University is breaking ground here which could help encourage other universities to do the same. Many people and departments at AU are rallying around this event and they all take the subject seriously. I hope this will pave the way for the academic community to become more objective and rational about this subject.”
I wasn't there and there's no video to watch, so I must rely on the accounts of others, especially a report by Michelle Basch on the website of WTOP, the all-news radio station in Washington, DC:  "UFO experts say 'we are not alone.'  To judge from this, it looks like the presenters forgot that part about appearing "scientific," and spun a lot of wild tales.

Best-known of the speakers was Leslie Kean, author of the 2010 book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record. For those not familiar with the UFO literature, her book is superficially convincing, mainly because of what it ignores: all facts that go against her tidy little picture. To get an idea of what she left out, see my book review, "‘Unexplained’ Cases—Only If You Ignore All Explanations."

 Leslie Kean promoting the Costa Rica UFO photo of 1971 at AU. Credit: Michelle Basch, WTOP

In the photo above we see Kean presenting one of her "best" cases to the American University audience: the well-known Lago de Cote UFO photo from Costa Rica in 1971. Taken from a government mapping aircraft, the photo was analyzed by Dr. Richard Haines (who was on the panel) and Jacques Vallee, who wrote,
our analyses have suggested that an unidentified, opaque, aerial object was captured on film at a maximum distance of 10,000 feet. There are no visible means of lift or propulsion and no surface markings other than dark regions that appear to be nonrandom... There is no indication that the image is the product of a double exposure or a deliberate fabrication.
Costa Rica UFO, 1971
The problem with this UFO is that nobody saw it, it simply turned up on the film. The veteran UFOlogist and "psychic" Ray Stanford recently suggested that the object is a flashlight, and was "superimposed" on the film. He does not suggest how this was done, by whom, or why. Stanford has written and said a lot of weird things over the years, so until he provides a more convincing argument for this I'm not taking it too seriously. However, Bryan Bonner and Matt Baxter of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Society have analyzed the photo, noting that
While the report [of Haines and Vallee] did look into the possibility of some type of debris on the film or its film plane back-plate was discussed and disregarded, they never looked at the camera itself.

The camera system has a very unique optic system that looks very similar to the object in the photograph.

Because there were no eyewitness reports from the ground or the members of the mapping team there is not much of a chance of this being an object of approximately 683 feet in size or even something that was an actual object of any size flying in the air beneath the plane.

The problem that report had with the object not creating a shadow is easily explainable if the image was created by the optics of the camera and not a physical object below the plane.

The object in the image appears to have been created by reflections of ambient light inside the optics of the camera system caused by a unique combination of the type of camera system, angle of the plane to the light, position of the sun and possibly the angle of the light coming from the surface of the water located beneath the plane.
In other words, this "UFO" is a lens flare, which I think is exactly right.

The "classic" UFO photo from Petit-Rechain, Belgium, "authenticated" by Haines and others, and published by Kean - now a confessed hoax

Another "classic" UFO photo which is in Kean's book, and was likewise "authenticated" by Haines and others, but not presented at American University, is the famous UFO photo from Petit-Rechain, Belgium. The man who took this photo, now identified as Patrick Marechal, admitted in July, 2011 that it was a hoax. He said that he has “managed to fool the whole world with a silly model made of styrofoam."

Also not mentioned by Kean at AU was her humiliating high-profile promotion in 2012 of a  "UFO" in a video of an air show in Chile that is obviously just a fly, under the triumphal banner, "Is this the case that UFO skeptics have been dreading?" Immediately Kean began taking heat about this, much of it from UFO proponents, who were astonished to see how trustingly Kean accepted assurances from Chilean "government officials" (and probably even some "pilots" and "generals") that the Fly UFO video had been studied and authenticated by experts. She traveled down to Chile, twice, to meet with "government officials" and get UFO information from them.

It has occurred to me that by oversight I did not report Kean's final statement on the Fly UFO Video on this Blog; here it is. In her Huffington Post article, "Two New Reports on the Chilean "UFO" Videos Produce Conflicting Results," Kean notes that UFO researcher Bruce Maccabee studied the video and concluded that the "UFOs" were indeed bugs. However, Richard Haines (again) proclaimed the objects to be genuinely unidentified. In the end, she concluded that the Fly UFO video was "something that science cannot determine." Science enables us to land a spacecraft on a fast-moving comet millions of miles away, but its methods apparently cannot distinguish a video of an extraordinary flying object from that of a fly.
A strange metallic flying object - Lucilia Sericata, the common  Green Bottle fly
Michelle Basche writes, 
The most riveting presentation of the night came from retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles Halt, one of the witnesses of a famous series of UFO sightings in England in 1980 known as the Rendlesham Forest incident.
Halt says he went into the forest to check out a report that a UFO had landed there. He saw three indentations in the ground that were spaced evenly, and a Geiger counter showed abnormally high levels of radiation in the area.

During this investigation, Halt says, he and several other military members saw a flying, oval-shaped object that glowed bright orange and red, and seemed to be dripping like molten metal.

"We're standing there in awe. I said, 'There's got to be an explanation. Ball lightning, or who knows what.' It starts to move. It moves towards us. It comes into the forest. It's moving through the trees horizontally, bobbing up and down as necessary to miss the trees. I'm thinking, ‘Oh boy. I wish I hadn't come out here. This is really getting beyond me.'"

He says they watched it for a few minutes, until something happened.

"Suddenly and silently, it explodes into five white objects like fireworks, and it's gone."
Again, this sounds impressive, until you compare what Halt is claiming now with what he initially said immediately following the incident, as the British skeptic Ian Ridpath has done. For example,
one of the starlike objects supposedly moved overhead and sent down a laser-like beam to their feet. Halt has told this astounding tale in many interviews, but this astonishing occurrence is missing from the [original] memo and tape. Instead, the memo and tape simply refer to the objects as being about 10 degrees off the horizon, nowhere near overhead.
In other words, Halt keeps making up stuff to make the story more exciting. Also, Ridpath shows that the "radioactivity" did not measure above the normal background levels, a fact that Col. Halt surely must know by now, but keeps telling as part of his story, anyway.

Which brings us to, The Roswell Slides!

I have not mentioned anything yet on this Blog concerning the controversy that began over a year ago concerning two supposedly newly-discovered slides from about 1947, allegedly showing Roswell aliens that were dissected or something. That's because few have even heard about these alleged Roswell Slides, and nobody has yet seen them, outside of a small circle calling itself the "Roswell Dream Team" (which some suggest is turning into a nightmare). How can you discuss or evaluate something you're not allowed to see? And if you suspect that the "Dream Team" is holding out on the slides for some big bucks media contract, well, then you must have a suspicious nature. And you'd be correct.
AU UFO panel member Tom Carey
Be that as it may, the longtime Roswell investigator and author Tom Carey was on the American University UFO Panel, and the cat is now definitely out of the bag. Michelle Basche wrote,
one of the speakers used the occasion to reveal evidence he called a "smoking gun."

"We have come into possession of a couple of Kodachrome color slides of an alien being lying in a glass case," author and researcher Thomas Carey told the near-capacity crowd in Abramson Recital Hall.

He's been researching the 1947 Roswell incident since 1991.

"What's interesting is, the film is dated 1947. We took it to the official historian of Kodak up in Rochester, New York, and he did his due diligence on it, and he said yes, this filmstrip, the slides are from 1947. It's 1947 stock. And from the emulsions on the image, it's not something that's been Photoshopped like today. It's original 1947 images, and it shows an alien who's been partially dissected lying in a case."

Carey says the being looked like what he thought an alien from the famous Roswell incident would look like.

"3 and a half to 4 feet tall, the head is almost insect-like. The head has been severed, and there's been a partial autopsy; the innards have been removed, and we believe the cadaver has been embalmed, at least at the time this picture was taken. The owners of the slide -- it's an amazing story. The woman was a high-powered Midland, Texas, lawyer with a pilot's license. We think she was involved in intelligence in World War II, and her husband was a field geologist for an oil company."

Carey says he plans to reveal the images early next year.
Obviously the Roswell Slides is rapidly turning into one of those periodic mega-controversies that tears UFOlogy asunder. Already, an obviously-agitated Billy Cox, replying to Carey, is demanding "now let's see them pix!", and he compares the matter to the now-infamous alien autopsy hoax of 1995.

The famous Alien Autopsy hoax.
Now the Roswell Slides are being reported in the tabloid Daily Mail in the UK, and from here it's off to the races. Unsourced but obviously based on the WTOP report, The Mail quotes Carey's sensational "smoking gun" claims made to the American University audience.

Gratuitous alien image accompanying the Daily Mail story on the Roswell Slides (from YouTube video "Grey Alien - Teil 2von2",
So, did the UFO seminar at American University succeed in creating a "crack in the wall" to allow 'UFO truths' to trickle out? The conference organizers had full control over the viewpoints presented - nobody was invited who might dissent from Leslie Kean's Party Line. After ten days, the result was exactly one (uncritical) news media report on the panel, and a few obscure Blog postings. Had there been anyone on the panel who might have presented a dissenting view, such as you find here, the panel's facade of  'objective scientific UFO research' could not have been maintained. And since it has now been widely noted that one of the panelists, Tom Carey, went full Monty into "smoking gun" UFO fantasyland, it's a safe bet that the people at American University will soon wish that they had never opened this Pandora's Box.


  1. Dear Robert & All,

    On a side note, a friend of our French UFO-Skeptic forum determined that the "gratuitous alien image accompanying the Daily Mail story on the Roswell Slides" comes from this video clip :

    We dunno more about it (a music clip video ? Illustration from dunno what ? etc.)

    Good and interesting article, as usual ^^



  2. Has anyone ever counted the number of 'smoking guns', or pressure cookers ready to blow the lid off, or dark secrets about to be revealed, or incredible events about to shatter our established scientific beliefs there have been (or promised) since the dawn of ufology?

    If Billy Cox says a mere "crack in the wall" is now visible he is obviously not aware of all the things promised in the past. Personally, I would by now expect something far, far wider than a mere crack.

    1. It's a smoking crack in the wall of Billy's Great Taboo.

    2. I'd hazard a guess that the numbers are about the same as predictions of the end of the world. And with a similar success rate.

  3. As many know, I was the one who found the Kodak expert who recently authenticated the two slides as having been exposed in the year 1947 and I also discovered that the original owner of the slides was a petroleum geologist working the Permian Basin in NM in the 1940s.

    The tests run on the slides are conclusive. The geologist -incredibly- became a 'ghost' after 1947 and never published in professional journals again. He was the President of the American Institute of Petroleum Geologists chapter in 1947 and left later that year- never to be heard from again.

    Other scientists -including forensic pathologists- have been enlisted in the study of the slides. The study of them has taken over two years.

    And I wish to correct- the 'Dream Team' is intact and despite efforts to disrupt our work (including hack attacks by a cyber-criminal working in concert with one 'Ross Evans') the slides and their complete back story will be televised next year.

    What they reveal is nothing short of history-changing.

    1. Tony, is it your contention that Ross Evans attempted to derail the study of the slides?

      This seems to be different to what Ross has presented on Rich Reynold's blog.

      Would appreciate that you clarify Ross Evans culpability as he presents himself as a victim of the hacking attack.

    2. "What they reveal is nothing short of history-changing."

      The great "UFO" reveal has been promised countless times.

      I doubt very much that this magic show will reveal anything more than another ufolly, Tony, it's only more ufoolishness.

    3. Everybody knows you clowns are nothing but a bunch of low-life frauds. Get a life and a real job loser.

    4. "What they reveal is nothing short of history-changing."

      And if it isn't, can we reserve the right to ignore you from now on?

  4. Mr Braglia's personal assurances are good enough for me.

    The UFO solution is near! Let all rejoice!

  5. Criminal charges have been filed against both Ross Evans and Richard Reynolds with the FBI's Internet Complaint Center. The blog post and comments on Reynold's recent blog post are lies. Evans admits working with the hacker and Reynolds knowingly posted (then deleted) information derived from my stolen emails- a federal offense. I do believe that my response to all of this will be posted on Kevin Randle's blog today.

    Yes, Tim, Evans has attempted to derail our work (unsuccessfully) and he began to contact and harass individuals involved in the slides studies- as well as a crash witness who is 90 years old who was also made privy to the slides. This is easily provable and I am aiming for the arrest and conviction of both Evans and Reynolds.

    Reynolds and Evans were never hacked- they are being untruthful. The UFO 'community' should be wary of these people- they are criminals. Reynolds has indicated that he will do anything to reveal private information.

    They can both sue me for libel if they choose- I would prevail in a court of law.

    1. Tony, are Reynolds and Evans aware of this pending action on your part? Is the FBI actively pursuing this, or you just now filed a complaint?

  6. If you want to hear the speakers I have posted audio of the event at
    As far as this present article there are many flaws the first of which the author "did not attend the symposium." Referencing Mr. Klass is a nice shot in the foot as he never investigated or knows about most of the UFO stories he debunks and lost a famous $1000 bet to Stanton Friedman. So here again we have a slanted debunker writing and making assumptions about an event he did not attend, using 3rd party quotes as evidence of false claims, and who is well known as having 'predetermined' that there is nothing to the Ufo subject since all claims are hoaxes, misidentifications, and tall tales. It is always best to do your own homework with regards to the UFO subject and come to your own conclusion in a scientific way, without relying on the words of others. Most skeptics, not all but most, have never done any detailed investigations, are clueless about 99% of the subject matter, and have already decided that what the answer is and thus write their articles to suit their 'opinions'.

    1. Ben Moss;

      What is it that you think you know about the "UFO" subject that others do not? Most of the "UFO" skeptics I know, not only know the subject better than other people--especially poor old Believers, those blinded by the "UFO" myth and delusion--they known its entire history; and they know it in its historical context as merely one of many social delusions documented over the past thousand years.

      The Null hypothesis of "UFO" reports says that over a century of extraordinary reports of failure to identify has not produced even one extraordinary thing. All investigations have not produced one extraordinary fact about the world. Given the catalogue of "UFO" data--available to all--there is not one real "UFO" in all of it, not one "UFO" fact. It's nothing but a vast collection of insubstantial and utterly inconsequential reports that sadly documents nothing but human wishfulness, folly, egotism, hucksterism, and the dangers of credulous belief.

      Considering this lack of fact and consequence, the Null hypothesis is the most plausible and rational conclusion. It's the consensus worldview, Ben, Scientific realism: There are no physical objects of any kind, there never were; and the "UFO" myth and the media-perpetuated delusion--credulous belief, fantastic stories and why people tell them--are merely subjects of study by sociologists.

      So, Ben, if skeptics know so little about this, frankly simple, limited, completely deconstructed and exhausted subject--the expression of space-age hopes and our nuclear fears--and they have somehow failed to grasp some significant but apparently elusive detail that gives it all substance, then by all means say. That, after all these decades of examination, this key to the mythery, this single "UFO" fact about the world has evaded discovery by monumentally blundering skeptics and the world's scientists--as you claim--defies logic and plain old good sense.

      But do tell us now, please. We're all simply dying to know that one "UFO" fact.

  7. Zoam Chomsky / Aaron Sakulich-
    If you consider the leading Kodak expert in the world, forensic pathologists and similar scientists to be 'magicians' then yes, it will be quite a show!

    Just filed complaint with FBI and I imagine Evans and Reynolds (who have nothing to do but troll the UFO internet) are reading this now, so they know.

  8. Precisely what law is it you think has been broken Anthony? The material was provided unsolicited; is it your contention that anyone who has ever read leaked emails is criminally liable? Is everyone who read the Snowden and Manning material (which was in many cases officially classified) criminally liable?

    The vast majority of the material sent I discarded immediately because It was not related to the slides story. All I did read was a short dossier of info about the slides which included names and details of authentication processes and such.

    If I was inclined to be wicked person you suggest I could have easily dumped the whole lot online anonymously. Instead I was honest enough to admit that I had been sent some material by the party or parties intruding the computer systems of various researchers.

    As to my harassing people, let's be clear. I emailed the photo expert precisely once (I've been courteous enough not to use his name). That is the extent of my harassing anyone, I asked the expert studying the slides a few questions pertaininig to his analysis. When I was made aware that my query was unwelcome I dod not make any further contact. If your threshold for claiming harassment is so low, I don't know how you function as a researcher, given the extremes to which you must harass the people you contact.

    On that subject, your concern for the elderly witness, who for the record I have never contacted, nor intend to do so, is rather selective. Whilst you get yourself in high dudgeon about the possibility of my contacting him and causing him distress, yourself and the rest of team dream have obviously been doing so for some time. Again, you will note I'm not naming him

  9. Ben Moss he said: "It is always best to do your own homework with regards to the UFO subject and come to your own conclusion in a scientific way, without relying on the words of others."

    Which is exactly what Kean, in her dreadful book and her self-promoting presentations, does not do.

    And another thing. Ufologists, especially "serious" ones, love to claim that they're being "scientific", and whinge that skeptics a.k.a. debunkers don't do the same. Actually, disinterested enquiry into UFO reports & experiences, as any skeptic knows, involves something nearer a combination of investigative journalism, forensic & historical research & analysis, robust logic, and only a modicum of scientific and, actually often more pertinent, technical knowledge. See Klass's conclusions on the 1976 Iran case, or Roberto's on the Trent pix, for random examples. No shortage of homework there, I fear. And words of others limited pretty much to witnesses and relevant experts.

    None of these virtues is apparent in the effusions of Kean & her merry band of storytellers. For reasons one can but speculate upon, they are elaborating legends to support a general ufological myth. Well, whatever blows your dress up: tho' some persons not seven leagues from here appear to think it is very wicked. But to call this accretion of folklore in any sense "scientific" is an abuse of terms; and to groan at skeptics for not being "scientific" is to miss the point, not only of skepticism but of what's driving the UFO myth.

    Jolly ho
    Peter B

  10. Stories about crashed spaceships and recovered alien bodies don't exactly put the aliens in a good light.

    Was there a theory as to the reason for the Roswell crash? Presumably we're talking about a space-faring race whose technology is far in advance of ours. Yet, they get all the way here only to crash. In fact, it seems like we have quite a fair number of crashed ships to date. Now, were these all from the same planet, or from a variety of other worlds?

    Here's the thing: where are the recovery teams? Haven't they sent out any other ships to investigate the causes of these crashes and assist any survivors? I know for certain we would. I suppose these might all be the search parties, crashing one after the other.

    Any way you slice it, it looks bad for these technologically superior beings.

    1. Jozzcooper, speaking as a person who is available to this phenomenon. Supposedly, it isn't a mere coincidence. Military witnesses and vague 2nd hand info suggests that the military found that "targeted radar" messed with the crafts guidance control (or something to that effect). A chance occurance which the military is said to have taken advantage of. That's the story, at least.

      Measured speculation based on witness reports is that there are multiple species engaging the earth. Agendas unknown.

      Regarding recovery teams; who's to say they haven't recovered most downed craft? And the stories we hear I.e. Roswell, aren't the anomalies of regularity? There's a million and one logical answers to the mysteries of reason which you propose. As I've said before a speculative questions aren't very useful within a subject matter which already struggles for established facts

  11. Small error: the UK tabloid reporting on the Roswell slides is the DAILY MIRROR not the DAILY MAIL. As a reader of the MAIL I was fairly certain I would not have missed it.

    I agree with Nigel Watson's comments in the MIRROR. Nothing will come of these slides, at least as far as establishing ET reality. It is all so reminiscent of the alien autopsy film of 1995. But, as ufologists, we have to live with these 'sensational discoveries', like it or not.

  12. Nice post my friend. Alot of UFOs are hoaxes but there are some genuine ones too!


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