Wednesday, May 18, 2022

"UAPs" Baffle Congress (and the DOD)

So, Tuesday, May 17 was the day that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held its hearings. This is the first public Congressional hearing about UFOs since 1968. You can read the transcript of the hearing here. Some sources were promising dramatic revelations

Rep. Tim Burchett - a long term advocate for disclosure - told The Sun Online he has been informed by reliable sources that "material" has been recovered from the objects or craft that have been reported in skies over the US. The Tennessee Republican declined to elaborate further as he said the information had been passed to him in a "classified setting". "I've been told by multiple sources we have recovered something from these [crafts or objects]," Mr Burchett told The Sun Online.

But there were none. No secrets were "disclosed" - in fact, we heard from Scott Bray, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, that the government has no evidence of ET visitations, and does not possess any wreckage, or biological remains from supposed UAPs. He talked about 'range incursions,' i.e. supposed intrusions into military training areas by objects that don't belong there. I have written about this earlier. It seems that the Navy only cares about unidentified objects supposedly entering their own private sandbox. If unidentified objects turn up elsewhere, the Navy apparently doesn't care. Actually, since the Tic Tac and the Gimble UAP videos probably show distant jets, we don't know how far away they are, and thus, whether or not they are actually inside the military training area. Maybe it would be better to speak of unidentified objects sighted from within such training areas, without making the assumption that such objects are actually inside the area.

The hearing was, on the whole, rather dull. As you might expect, much of it was taken up with bureaucratic talk. Everyone promised that their investigations would be objective and scientific, and that they would reveal everything they have, except for information that might compromise intelligence sources or methods. All of which means nothing, because they could not get away with saying anything else! 😏 There was much talk about sensors and databases and such, as if such things have ever produced useful information about any UFO case.

UFO researcher Martin Kottmeyer noted on Facebook,

Video 1 UAP 2021, the best UAP evidence that Naval
Intelligence has! Aren't you impressed???

Just a quick note to say I watched the UAP hearing held this morning.  It was pretty droll stuff, but I did find incredibly amusing a five minute or so segment where a very short UAP clip was presented via a lap-top and it was obvious that people were having trouble finding the UAP in it.  Eventually someone is able to stop it in the right place to see a small streak of light flitting past the plane.
75 years of ufo mystery and we are still having to endure looking at blobs and specks of light like they prove anything.

 
 
Indeed. The object in their "Video 1 UAP 2021" was so insignificant and difficult to see that it had to be played over and over several times before the object was even seen. When finally it was caught in a freeze frame, it was just a tiny round object with no details. Very likely this was just a balloon that the aircraft flew past at a high rate of speed. They show this as some of their best evidence, and we are supposed not to laugh?
 
Then Bray showed two videos "taken through night vision 'goggles,' with a single lens reflex camera." I was trying to envision how you attach a single lens reflex camera to night vision goggles, and finally concluded that you don't. I think he means, this was taken with a camera held up to the eyepiece of the goggles. High tech!!! The objects, he says, "remain unsolved." At least he seemed to realize that the triangular shape of the objects was an artifact of the camera diaphragm ("Bokeh," to be exact). But the objects themselves are, he said, unidentified. 
 
Unidentified? On April 13, 2021 some dude calling himself Dylan the Villain posted this image on Twitter, identifying the objects seen at the start of the now-famous IR video as Jupiter, and several stars in Scorpius.  Mick West took the matter further, identifying more stars seen later in the video. As a longtime active amateur astronomer, I've checked this over, and it is indeed correct. Somehow this analysis was too difficult for Naval Intelligence to perform, it had to be left to civilian investigators on Twitter and Metabunk. Perhaps you recall the old joke about "military intelligence" being a contradiction in terms. Well, Naval Intelligence is proving that sometimes the "joke" is really truth.

Dylan the Villain posted this on Twitter, identifying the objects seen at the start of the video as Jupiter, and several stars in Scorpius. Apparently this was too difficult for Naval Intelligence to figure out.

Rep. Rick Crawford (Republican from Arkansas) sort of staked out his position as the skeptic on the committee. He began by saying that he is more concerned about studying Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons than UAPs. But since studying UAP reports might yield information on such weapons, "I am on board. The intelligence community has a serious duty to our taxpayers to prevent potential adversaries such as China and Russia from surprising us with unforeseen new technologies." Later in the hearing, Crawford remarked to Ronald S. Moultrie, Under Secretary of Defense Intelligence & Security (USDI&S) that the resolution and details of the UAP images we've been shown are simply terrible. We are "calibrating" our sensors, Moultrie replied.

What was perhaps the most distressing moment of the entire hearing was toward the end, when Darin LaHood (Republican from Illinois) asked, what are the consequences for individuals and groups who put out false information about UAPs? Moultrie replied that nobody has thus far been held legally accountable. What is the deterrent for such individuals for Disinformation or Misinformation? I don't know, Moultrie replied, Congress needs to decide this.

In other words, some people are eager to have Biden's new Ministry of Truth adjudicate, censor, and perhaps punish, those promoting "false information" about UFOs. Now, I have been debunking "misinformation" about UFOs for many years, but this is one of the worst ideas I heave ever heard on that subject. Of course, much of what is said about UFOs by prominent UFOlogists is pure "misinformation," but I am terrified at the thought of some government agency deciding what is true and what isn't, and punishing offenders. I mean, Steven Greer and Corey Goode would be serving life sentences. This is the land of the free (or at least it used to be), and the idea of the government policing discourse, deciding what can be freely said and what cannot, would establish a full-blown political tyranny, where disagreeing with our rulers is punishable, just as in the days of the Divine Right of Kings. Liberals used to say, I might disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Today's liberals say, if I disagree with what you say, you must be silenced, and maybe even punished. Be afraid, be very afraid.

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For those interested to compare today's Congressional hearing with the one 54 years ago, the full record of the 1968 hearings is on-line here. The format was quite different from what we are seeing now. An impressive-looking list of 'UFO experts' was assembled to tell the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics that UFOs are something very important, and need to be studied.



List of UFO experts who testified in the 1968 Congressional Hearings

Seeing Carl Sagan among the speakers, you might think that he was invited as a 'token skeptic.' Alas, it is not so. In his testimony to the 1968 hearings, Carl Sagan said: 

I might mention that, on this symposium, there are no individuals who strongly disbelieve in the extraterrestrial origin of UFO's and therefore there is a certain view, not necessarily one I strongly agree with -- but there is a certain view this committee is not hearing today, along those lines.

In other words, Sagan was saying that there were no strong skeptics on that panel. (Donald Menzel was solidly skeptical, but while he submitted a paper, he was not on the panel.) Since Sagan was himself on the panel, it's obvious that Sagan did not himself "strongly disbelieve" in the ETH at this time. 

I do not think the evidence is at all persuasive, that UFO's are of intelligent extraterrestrial origin, nor do I think the evidence is convincing that no UFO's are of intelligent extraterrestrial origin. I think as each of the preceding speakers has mentioned, but perhaps not sufficiently emphasized, that the question is very much an open one, and it is certainly too soon to harden attitudes and make any permanent contentions on the subject.  

That sounds like something written by Marcello Truzzi! Klass referred to Sagan's ET ambiguity several times in private correspondence. Klass suggested that Sagan would say anything he thought would help to get his SETI funded. He didn't trust Sagan, as many others did not, in part because Sagan was blaming the Cold War and the arms race on US nuclear weapons policies (but not on Soviet ones). Sagan seemed to be rooting for the 'other side.'

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Pentagon UFO Papers - More Releases, More Confusion

So by now probably everyone has heard about the latest round of UFO-related documents released by the Pentagon via FOIA. And do they sound exciting, if the headlines are to be believed.

The tabloid Daily Mail reported, "UFOs sightings have left witnesses with radiation burns, brain damage and 'perceived time suspension', according to interviews in newly released Pentagon report from 2010". Luis Elizondo, whose claims of  having led the Pentagon's AATIP UFO investigation program are not supported by any documentary evidence, is said to have "confirmed" to Tucker Carlson on Fox news that UFOs have "caused harm" to humans. Even more surprisingly,

The second game-changing reveal Mr. Elizondo shared was shared during a discussion about how some pilots and other individuals who had come in close contact with UFOs had some negative brain damage and radiation burns. It was then that Mr. Elizondo pointed out that while this was indeed the case, there were also cases where exposed individuals had positive effects from the close contact with UFOs.

Mr. Elizondo then said some of these individuals suddenly developed artistic abilities, such as being able to "play the piano," even though they never had a lesson. Some of them also developed Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) skills, he said

Even the normally-reliable Space.com wrote  

Encounters with UFOs have reportedly left Americans suffering from radiation burns, brain and nervous system damage, and even "unaccounted for pregnancy," according to a massive database of U.S. government reports recently made public through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

citing as their authority The Sun.

Well, that's not accurate. 

Claims of physical effects following alleged UFO encounters are discussed in just one of the AAWSAP papers. Jack Brewer recently wrote a long posting for his Blog The UFO Trail titled  "The UFO Injury Study that Wasn't." In it he writes,

Dr. Christopher "Kit" Green is well known among those with an eye to the UFO genre for reasons including his work with the CIA and corporations controlled by Robert Bigelow. In approximately 2010 he provided a paper to Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies for inclusion in the Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Application Program. The AAWSAP contract was awarded to BAASS by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Green's paper, one of some 38 collected by BAASS at the time, is titled Anomalous Acute and Subacute Field Effects on Human Biological Tissues.

The paper attempts to summarize evidence of injury to human observers by "anomalous advanced aerospace systems," and argues the possibility such systems can be reverse engineered through clinical diagnosis of the injured observers. The paper was recently included among a batch of documents released by the DIA in response to FOIA requests but is not entirely new to those closely following the saga.

The newfound attention propelled the paper to be mischaracterized rather far and wide, misrepresented as portraying DIA official conclusions that people were seriously injured during otherworldly UFO encounters. In actuality, the paper was authored by a consultant who unequivocally stated during the April 6 phone call he absolutely believes the cases he studied are indicative of human technology.
So, according to the author of that paper, even if the reported physiological effects following a supposed UFO encounter are indeed accurate and relevant, they are the result of human technology, not of aliens. And remember that correlation does not imply causation.  Also remember that such claims have been circulating in UFOlogy for many years, reported by Jacques Vallee and many others. In one such case (the "Doctor X" case), a war veteran's serious wounds allegedly were immediately healed after he was struck by a beam of light from a UFO. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, which clearly is lacking here.

Then there are accounts of an "unexpected pregnancy," "gynecological problems," or a woman's "missing pregnancy," after a UFO abduction. 

Marty Kottmeyer dug up these references for one of Dr. Green's 'unexplained pregnancy' cases.

The veteran Canadian UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski wrote on the Facebook group "UFO Updates" (April 11), "It's pretty sad, yes, that a wild claim by a Canadian contactee made it into a US government report without vetting of any kind. It makes you wonder if other "data" in the Pentagon reports are similar." Indeed. 

And while we're on the subject, we should note that Travis Walton has also reported the UFO abduction-related "missing pregnancy" of his (unnamed) girlfriend.

Then there is the matter of, what exactly did the Pentagon get for the $22 million that it gave to Bigelow Advanced Aerospace in accordance with AAWSAP?  For some time,  the only known output of the program was the 38 papers on weird science (known as DIRDs, "Defense Information Research Documents"), with subjects like "warp drives" and "positron propulsion." But wait - now there's more!

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST  [Ireland], April 1, 2022.
Colm Kelleher is interviewed: "Meet the Irishman who headed up The Pentagon search for UFOs". Kelleher worked on the Bigelow side of the $22 million AAWSAP contract.
https://www.newstalk.com/news/meet-the-irishman-who-headed-up-the-pentagon-search-for-ufos-1327563
"And by the end of the two-year programme, which the Defence Intelligence Agency funded, for $22m we had submitted 104 separate technical reports on UFOs."
If there were only 38 papers funded by the DIA under AAWSAP, I asked, what about the other 66 papers we hadn't heard about? Researcher Curt Collins pointed out that the recently-published book  Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insiders' Account of the Secret Government UFO Program by James Lacatski, Colm Kelleher, and George Knapp, contains an appendix listing a jumble of papers supposedly representing all of AAWSAP's output, all thrown together in a way that makes them almost impossible to read or analyze. I took the liberty of inserting numbers and formatting characters into this list (below). All 38 of the DIRDs are included, and are so labelled. Here we see 106 items, not 104. Which brings up the question: When can we see the still-unreleased 68 remaining items?
 
Another thing that turned up in the recent documents: As Curt Collins observes
The disclosure finally makes it clear that the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Application Program (AAWSAP) and the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) were the same entity. AATIP was the “Unclassified Nickname” used by Senator Harry Reid when asking for Special Access Program status and funding for the project.
Perhaps, but it is difficult to reconcile this with certain previous statements by Lacatski, who we know headed up AAWSAP. He said,
But there was a difference between the two programs [mine and Elizondo's]. Ours [AAWSAP] had $22 million dollars in funding, his [AATIP] had zero. Ours looked at military and civilian investigations, his looked at military exclusively. And we had, of course, contractor and subcontractor support. He had no contractor support. But he did his thing, we did ours. But I can say that in direct answer to your question, we were the only game in town, I would say from 2008 through 2012
So far as I am aware, Elizondo has never disputed this statement, and has had only praise for Lacatski. So how to reconcile the question of comparing AAWSAP and AATIP? 
 

Appendix I

    1. AAWSAP Contract Information AAWSAP Solicitation HHM402-08-R-0211, DIA, 18 August 2008 (39 pages) BAASS Proposal Volumes I, II, III, BAASS, 8 September 2008 (53 pages)

    2. AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072, DIA, 22 September 2008 (5 pages)

    3. AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072 Modification P00001-Option Year 1, DIA, 2 September 2009 (3 pages)

    4. AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072 Modification P00002–Option Year 1, DIA, 2 February 2010 (6 pages)

    5. AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072 Modification P00005–Extension, DIA, 28 September 2010 (4 pages)

    6. AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072 Closeout-Completion 20 December 2010, U-0384, DIA, 3 June 2011 (2 pages)

    7. AAWSAP Designation of Contracting Officer’s Representative, U-988-08/ AE-2D, DIA, 20 October 2008 AAWSAP Contract HHM402-08-C-0072 Facility Clearance-BAASS, DSS, 4 March 2009 (11 pages)

    8. AAWSAP Special Access Program Request Letter–Senator Harry Reid (Majority Leader) to William Lynn III (Deputy Secretary of Defense), 24 June 2009 (4 pages)

    9. AAWSAP Production BAASS September 21–October 31 2008 Report: Facilities, Recruiting, Subcontracts (7 pages)

    10. AAWSAP Technical Studies 1-12 Approaches–EarthTech, November 2008 (125 pages)

    11. AAWSAP Technical Studies 1-12 Approaches–MUFON, November 2008 (26 pages)

    12. BAASS November 2008 Monthly Report: Facilities, Recruiting, Clearances, Project Management Plan, and Acquisition of UAP Databases (9 pages)

    13. BAASS Project Management Plan (Overview), 2 December 2008 (49 pages)

    14. AAWSAP Technical Studies 1-12 Approaches-John Schuessler, 23 October 2008–5 December 2008 (164 pages)

    15. AAWSAP CAPELLA Data Warehouse Development Plan–Jacques Vallee, 10 December 2008 (42 pages)

    16. BAASS December 2008 Monthly Report: Recruiting, Clearances, Acquisition of UAP Databases (8 pages)

    17. BAASS January 2009 Monthly Report: Recruiting, Clearances, Development of UAP Databases, Project Northern Tier, UAP Files at Los Alamos and DIA (13 pages)

    18. BAASS February 2009 Monthly Report: Recruiting, Clearances, Development of UAP Databases, UAP Files at Los Alamos, EarthTech Contract, Reporting from FAA, and British, Canadian, and Danish Governments UAP Reports Assessment (19 pages)

    19. BAASS March 2009 Monthly Report: Recruiting, Clearances, Development of UAP Databases, EarthTech Contract, Reporting from FAA, MUFON Contract, The UFO Assault on Brazil with its Epicenter at Colares (1977-2003) by John Schuessler, and British, Canadian, and Danish Governments UAP Reports Assessment (42 pages)

    20. Unmanned Autonomous Surveillance Platform–Prototype Design, BAASS, 6 April 2009 (7 pages)

    21. RAF Lakenheath F-15C Investigation, BAASS, 21 April 2009 (15 pages)

    22. BAASS April 2009 Monthly Report: Recruiting, Clearances, EarthTech Contract, MUFON Contract, Project Northern Tier, and British, Canadian, French, and Danish Governments UAP Reports Assessment (50 pages)

    23. Tic Tac (Nimitz Carrier Strike Group) Investigation, BAASS, 7 January 2009–18 May 2009 (28 pages)

    24. BAASS May 2009 Monthly Report: Additional Facilities, Recruiting, EarthTech Contract, MUFON Investigations, Deployment to Brazil, and British, Canadian, French, and Danish Governments UAP Reports Assessment (39 pages)

    25. CAPELLA Data Warehouse–NIDS Database Completion Summary, BAASS, 17 June 2009 (2 pages)

    26. BAASS June 2009 Monthly Report: Additional Facilities, Recruiting, EarthTech Contract, MUFON Investigations, Deployment to Brazil, Project Northern Tier, and British, Canadian, French, and Danish Governments UAP Reports Assessment (134 pages)

    27. Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon / Close Encounter–Lagol, CA, BAASS Case #090709-2, 5 July 2009–27 July 2009 (257 pages)

    28. BAASS July 2009 Ten Month Report: BAASS Investigations, Project Physics, Project Engagement, Project Cooperation, Project Blue Book Materials, Project Campus, Project Oral History, Project Database / Analysis Government Files, Project Northern Tier, Project Colares / Brazil, Outreach to South America (530 pages)

    29. BAASS August 2009 Monthly Report: Additional Facilities, Recruiting, MUFON Investigations, Project Northern Tier, Relations with South American Organizations, and Utah Ranch Investigations (129 pages)

    30. BAASS September 2009 Monthly Report: Additional Facilities, Recruiting, MUFON Investigations, Marley Woods Reconnaissance, and Utah Ranch Investigations (146 pages)

    31. BAASS October 2009 Monthly Report: Additional Facilities, Recruiting, MUFON Investigations, and Utah Ranch Investigations (193 pages)

    32. BAASS November 2009 Month Report: MUFON Investigations, Utah Ranch Investigations, and Blue Orb Incident (155 pages)

    33. DIRD 1: Advanced Nuclear Propulsion for Manned Deep Space Missions, Dr. Friedwardt Winterberg, Univ. of Nevada-Reno, 1 December 2009 (37 pages)

    34. Skinwalker Ridge Investigations, BAASS, 31 August 2009–9 December 2009 (141 pages)

    35. DIRD 2: Metallic Glasses: Status and Prospects for Aerospace Applications, Dr. Todd Hufnagel, Johns Hopkins Univ., 14 December 2009 (30 pages)

    36. DIRD 3: Aerospace Applications of Programmable Matter, Dr. Wil McCarthy, Ravenbrick, 14 December 2009 (20 pages)

    37. BAASS December 2009 Monthly Report: MUFON Investigations, Utah Ranch Investigations, and Russian Documents (144 pages)

    38. DIRD 4: Biomaterials, Dr. Bruce Towe, Arizona State Univ., 7 January 2010 (32 pages)

    39. DIRD 5: Materials for Advanced Aerospace Platforms, Dr. J. Williams, Ohio State Univ., 12 January 2010 (27 pages)

    40. DIRD 6: Pulsed High-Power Microwave Source Technology, Dr. James Wells, JW Enterprises, 28 January 2010 (37 pages)

    41. BAASS January 2010 Monthly Report: MUFON Investigations, Utah Ranch Investigations, and Analysis of UAP entering Water using ANSYS Software (108 pages)

    42. Remote Viewing of Utah Ranch by Joe McMoneagle, BAASS, 27 February 2010 (8 pages)

    43. BAASS February 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, Utah Ranch Investigations (71 pages)

    44. Utah Ranch Investigation: August 2009-February 2010, BAASS (360 pages)

    45. DIRD 7: Invisibility Cloaking: Theory and Experiments, Dr. Ulf Leonhardt, Univ. of St. Andrews, 2 March 2010 (29 pages)

    46. DIRD 8: Positron Aerospace Propulsion, Dr. Gerald Smith, Positronics Research, 2 March 2010 (35 pages)

    47. DIRD 9: Space Access: Where We’ve Been . . . and Where We Could Go, Dr. Paul Czysz, HyperTech Concepts, 8 March 2010 (56 pages)

    48. DIRD 10: Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion, Dr. George Miley, Univ. Of Illinois, 10 March 2010 (72 pages)

    49. DIRD 11: Anomalous Acute and Subacute Field Effects on Human Biological Tissues, Dr. Kit Green, Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine, 11 March 2010 (38 pages)

    50. DIRD 12: An Introduction to the Statistical Drake Equation, Dr. Claudio Maccone, International Academy of Astronautics, 11 March 2010 (55 pages)

    51. # 3 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: UAP Sightings–Niagara Falls, Canada, BAASS Case #200900000108000, 9 October 2009–21 March 2010 (393 pages)

    52. # 4 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Paranormal Activity–Tennyson, IN, BAASS Case #20100000018000, 12 March 2010-18 March 2010 (174 pages)

    53. DIRD 13: The Role of Superconductors in Gravity Research, Dr. George Hathaway, Hathaway Consulting Services, 23 March 2010 (16 pages)

    54. DIRD 14: Technological Approaches to Controlling External Devices in the Absence of Limb-Operated Interfaces, Dr. Richard Genik II, Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine, 23 March 2010 (36 pages)

    55. DIRD 15: Metallic Spintronics, Dr. Maxim Tsoi, Univ. of Texas-Austin, 23 March 2010 (27 pages)

    56. DIRD 16: Advanced Space Propulsion Based on Vacuum (Spacetime Metric) Engineering, Dr. Hal Puthoff, EarthTech International, 29 March 2010 (17 pages)

    57. DIRD 17: Antigravity for Aerospace Applications, Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 30 March 2010 (44 pages)

    58. DIRD 18: Maverick Inventor versus Corporate Inventor: Where Will the Next Major Innovations Arise?, Dr. George Hathaway, Hathaway Consulting Services, 30 March 2010 (19 pages)

    59. DIRD 19: The Space-Communication Implications of Quantum Entanglement and Nonlocality, Dr. John Cramer, Univ. of Washington–Seattle, 30 March 2010 (32 pages)

    60. DIRD 20: BioSensors and BioMEMS: A Survey of the Present Field, Dr. Bruce Towe, Arizona State Univ., 31 March 2010 (45 pages)

    61. DIRD 21: State of the Art and Evolution of High Energy Laser Weapons, Dr. John Albertine, Directed Technologies, 31 March 2010 (31 pages)

    62. DIRD 22: State of the Art and Evolution of High Energy Laser Weapons, Dr. John Albertine, Directed Technologies, 31 March 2010 (classified edition)

    63. BAASS March 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, Niagara Falls Anomalies, and Tennyson, IN Anomalies (71 pages)

    64. DIRD 23: Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions, Dr. Richard Obousy, Obousy Consulting and Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 2 April 2010 (33 pages)

    65. DIRD 24: Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy, Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 6 April 2010 (42 pages)

    66. DIRD 25: High-Frequency Gravitational Wave Communications, Dr. Robert Baker, GravWave, 6 April 2010 (74 pages)

    67. DIRD 26: Concepts for Extracting Energy from the Quantum Vacuum, Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 6 April 2010 (57 pages)

    68. DIRD 27: Metamaterials for Aerospace Applications, Dr. Gennady Shvets, Univ. of Texas–Austin, 6 April 2010 (38 pages)

    69. # 5 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Paranormal Activity–Buckeye, AZ, BAASS Case #20100000033000, 5 April 2010–8 April 2010 (275 pages)

    70. # 6 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Triangle UAP-GA, BAASS Case #20090000032000, 14 September 2009–19 April 2010 (125 pages)

    71. Utah Ranch Investigation: 22-26 March 2010 and 19-23 April 2010, BAASS (60 pages)

    72. BAASS April 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, GA Anomalies and Buckeye, AZ Anomalies (252 pages)

    73. BAASS May 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, Blue Orb Anomaly, and Additional BAASS UAP Cases (117 pages)

    74. # 7 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Investigation of a Reported Blue Orb Anomaly Involving Human Physiological Effects, 2 June 2010 (30 pages)

    75. # 8 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Russian Thread III Project, 2 June 2010 (149 pages)

    76. # 9 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Dominique Weinstein’s Pilot Database Analysis, 21 June 2010 (29 pages)

    77. # 10 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Projects Sign / Grudge / Blue Book Database Analysis, 21 June 2010 (30 pages)

    78. # 11 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Utah Ranch Database Analysis, 21 June 2010 (101 pages)

    79. # 12 BAASS Project Management Plan Addendum Report: Analysis of Small Red Spheres Obtained from Two Alleged UAP Landing Sites in the Soviet Union, 30 June 2010 (77 pages)

    80. BAASS June 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, Maxwell AFB Visit, Ellsworth AFB Investigation, UAP Landing Traces, and Additional BAASS Anomaly Cases (58 pages)

    81. BAASS July 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, Anomaly at Bigelow Aerospace, Window Rock, AZ Investigation, and Integrated Threat Analysis Summary (75 pages)

    82. BAASS Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Threat Assessment (Comprehensive Integrated Threat Assessment Addendum Report), 30 July 2010 (228 pages)

    83. BAASS August 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, and National Archives Visit (38 pages)

    84. BAASS September 2010 Monthly Report: BAASS-MUFON Relations, HBCCUFO UAP Site, Utah Ranch Investigations, DIMOC Visit GA Anomalies Follow-Up, and Sand Mountain / Fyffe, AL Investigation (116 pages)

    85. DIRD 28: Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion, Drs. V. Teofilo, R. White, S. Petrinec, Lockheed Martin, 1 November 2010 (36 pages)

    86. DIRD 29: Cockpits in the Era of Breakthrough Flight, Dr. M. Millis, Tau Zero, 1 November 2010 (57 pages)

    87. DIRD 30: Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion, Dr. William Culbreth, Univ. Of Nevada-Las Vegas, 1 November 2010 (50 pages)

    88. DIRD 31: Laser Lightcraft Nanosatellites, Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 1 November 2010 (77 pages)

    89. DIRD 32: Ultracapacitors as Energy and Power Storage Devices for Commercial and Military Applications, Drs. J. Golightly and V. Teofilo, Lockheed Martin, 1 November 2010 (34 pages)

    90. DIRD 33: Detection and High Resolution Tracking of Vehicles at Hypersonic Velocities, Dr. William Culbreth, Univ. of Nevada-Las Vegas, 20 November 2010 (46 pages)

    91. DIRD 34: Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) Air Breathing Propulsion and Power for Aerospace Applications, Drs. S. Macheret and K. Goodfellow, Lockheed Martin, 21 November 2010 (32 pages)

    92. Summary Report on BAASS UAP Analysis Capabilities: TicTac and Sphere Assessments, 23 November 2010 (141 pages)

    93. DIRD 35: Quantum Computing and Utilizing Organic Molecules in Automation Technology, Dr. Richard Genik II, Wayne State Univ., 10 December 2010 (54 pages)

    94. DIRD 36: Cognitive Limits on Simultaneous Control of Multiple Unmanned Spacecraft, Dr. Richard Genik II, Wayne State Univ., 15 December 2010 (31 pages)

    95. DIRD 37: Negative Mass Propulsion, Dr. Friedwardt Winterberg, Univ. of Nevada-Reno, 3 January 2011 (43 pages)

    96. DIRD 38: Quantum Tomography of Negative Energy States in the Vacuum, Dr. Eric Davis, EarthTech International, 11 January 2011 (51 pages)

    97. Utah Ranch Events: 1 September 2007–2 April 2012, BAASS (26 pages)

    98. AAWSAP BAASS CAPELLA Data Warehouse CAPELLA Data Warehouse Database / Spreadsheet User’s Guide (12 pages)

    99. NIDS Spreadsheet (Historical 1946-2004), 11 September 2009 (1570 cases) Dominique Weinstein’s Pilot Spreadsheet (Historical 1942–2007), 3 June 2010 (483 records)

    100. Sign / Grudge / Blue Book Spreadsheet (Historical 1947-1969), 22 September 2010 (15674 cases, 577 unidentified)

    101. UFOCAT Spreadsheet (Historical 1000-2008), 4 February 2010 (203805 cases)

    102. Project Colares Spreadsheet (Historical 1977-1978), 28 January 2010 (356 cases)

    103. Canadian Release Spreadsheet (Historical 1971-1981), 24 February 2010 (795 cases)

    104. United Kingdom Release Spreadsheet (Historical 1950-1997), 9 June 2010 (2879 cases)

    105. BAASS Spreadsheet (Current Reporting 1999-2010), 16 April 2010 (27 cases)

    106. Utah Ranch Spreadsheet (Historical and Current Reporting 1950-2012), 3 April 2012 (582 cases)”

— From Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insiders' Account of the Secret Government UFO Program by James Lacatski, Colm Kelleher, and George Knapp

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Jacques Vallee's " Invisible College" Teaches "Metalogic."

This is the review I wrote of  The Invisible College by Jacques Vallee, appearing in The Zetetic (which later became The Skeptical Inquirer), Spring/Summer, 1977. The first part of my review, “The Edge of Reality” by Hynek and Vallee, is found here, I recently added to it Hynek's reply to me, and mine to him (which in the original publication was at the end, after both reviews.). If you read that posting before this one was published, I suggest you go back to read Hynek's reply.

The Invisible College: What a Group of Scientists Has Discovered About UFO Influences on the Human Race. By Jacques Vallee. E. P. Dutton, New York, 1975. 223 pp. $8.95.

Reviewed by Robert Sheaffer


The Invisible College is best read sitting down, with seat belts firmly in place. If Jacques Vallee, in collaboration with J. Allen Hynek, can produce The Edge of Reality, then this book of undiluted Vallee can only be titled “Beyond the Brink.”

Be prepared to meet Ummo, the inhabitants of the solar system of Wolf 424 (a red-dwarf star, believed to be incapable of supporting habitable planets), who cruise around in their Oawolea Ouewa (lenticular spacecrafts). You will also meet 7171, a UFO entity who is in frequent telepathic communication with a terrestrial medium, and Oeeu, the “Universal Association of Planets,” a sort of cosmic United Nations. Vallee takes these stories seriously. Most UFO investigators take Vallee seriously. That fact alone suffices to keep the present writer from taking UFOs seriously.

Monsieur Vallee, computer scientist, astrophysicist, and member or the scientific board of Hynek's Center for UFO Studies, has a unique way of looking at the universe. It's called “metalogic.” For those or us not familiar with that term, he explains that it means quite the same thing as “absurd.” So should we protest that Vallee's theories are “absurd,” he will correct our usage: they are merely “metalogical.” That's the next level above common sense, just beyond the “edge of reality.” UFO skeptics are wrong, Vallee would say, their theories objectively false. The UFO evidence allegedly proves that, in a manner that even Aristotle would find quite satisfactory, Quod erot demonstrandum. But Vallee's exquisite theories are not to be evaluated on such a vulgar level. They are metalogical—not precisely true, but certainly not false either, not in the same sense that UFO skeptics are simply wrong. UFOs, Vallee informs us, are “truer than true” (emphasis in original). Should anyone reading this actually understand what it means, it is urgent that you contact Vallee at once. There will then be two of you.

The metalogic truly represents the greatest advance in scientific philosophy since the invention of the Dialectic, which enables devout Marxists to “prove” that the Proletariat can only be liberated by being locked up in Gulag camps. One cannot get by with ordinary logic if one wishes to believe all the incredible things that Vallee does, so he rejects logic itself instead of rejecting Ummo, Oeeu, and the like. If the UFO evidence doesn't make sense, so much the worse for sense. Watching Vallee, who calls himself a scientist, so cavalierly jettison the objective, nonmystical world-view of science, one cannot help but wonder how far he might go were he to become an avowed mystic.

Spectra is the name given to the mysterious space entity which is alleged to beam down to Uri Geller the “paranormal” powers that enable him to do the things that stage magicians can do without them. Vallee has met Mr. Geller, and was most impressed by the apparent authenticity of his “paranormal” abilities. (I wonder if Vallee has ever met James Randi?) Geller's supposed revelations from the UFO-beings of Spectra of course fascinate Vallee, but he is not blind to the absurdities and contradictions in their messages; he recognizes that they are “telling obvious falsehoods and uttering sheer jargon most of the time.” Does this damage Geller's credibility in Vallee's eyes? hot at all: “I think highly of Geller's talents. We cannot brush aside [his] experiences ... with simple rejections. What we can and should do is to sort out the implications of the extremely confusing set of events (they claim] to have observed.” It appears that Geller's tales are simply too absurd for Vallee to reject. Hence they must be true, in some metalogical sort of way.

Vallee at Northwestern giving a talk
on computer science (about 1969)

A policeman in Nebraska was supposedly abducted by a UFO in 1967. The UFO occupants reportedly gave the patrolman “a lot of interesting but possibly misleading information. They wanted him to believe that they came from a nearby galaxy. They had bases in the United States. Their craft was operated by reverse electromagnetism.” Even Vallee finds it difficult to believe these things! Does he reach the obvious and straightforward conclusion that the witness is either hoaxing or else has hallucinated the incident? Certainly not. Vallee designates this aspect of absurdity “The Third Coverup.” It represents “the built-in silencing mechanism of the phenomenon itself.... The phenomenon negates itself. It issues statements and demonstrates principles where some of the information conveyed is true and some is false.” UFOs, he says, deliberately make themselves absurd to keep us from taking them too seriously. That line of reasoning can, of course, be utilized to justify absolutely any absurdity at all. One would hope that Vallee might look past the obvious immediate advantages to see the long-range problems that would arise if other scientists were to follow his lead in constructing hypotheses that can never be proven true or false.

The only thing wrong with Vallee's metareasoning is that, if adopted as a legitimate scientific paradigm, it would mean the end of experimental science. No one could ever prove or disprove anything. Science is a fully consistent body of knowledge; if metalogic is a valid methodology for analyzing UFOs, it must likewise be applicable to astronomy. Well, I say the earth is flat, and it rests on the back of a turtle. Don't say that's absurd—it is metalogical. Don't trot out evidence to show that I'm wrong, for contradiction is one of the ways in which the Great Turtle manifests the phenomenon. My flat-earth hypothesis is truer than true. Don't say that my theory is unscientific because it is impossible even in principle to prove it wrong, because Vallee's wild UFO speculations are likewise safe from the potential challenge of any critical experiment. In short, in The Invisible College we find nothing less than a complete and explicit rejection of the scientific method. Its rigorous standards of evidence are incompatible with the charming stories of miracles, little people, and mystical visions that Vallee wishes to weave into his UFO tapestry.

Vallee does indeed reach a conclusion about UFOs which presumably follows directly from his metaevidence. It is not immediately clear that conclusions of any kind can be drawn if one rejects “our laws of causality” (in Vallee's colorful phrase), but apparently even the Great Trailblazer was unable to make a clean enough break with his past to outgrow the childish habit of seeking conclusions from the evident in hand. His conclusion is that UFOs form a “control system” for human consciousness: “they are the means through which man's concepts are being rearranged.” How and why we are being “rearranged,” and by whom, he is unable to say; whether by Affa, Ummo, Ankar, Oeeu, or Spectra is left for the reader to decide.

What. by the way, is The Invisible College? It is a loose federation of scientists who are carrying out their own investigations into the UFO phenomenon, even though UFO research is not (“as yet,” as they say) a recognized scientific field. (Very little of the book deals with the College: miracles and metalogic predominate.) The present-day Invisible College takes its name from a seventeenth-century group of scientists that met informally, even clandestinely, at a time when the established colleges were dominated by the fossilized doctrines of antiquity. As experimental science gradually became respectable, its practitioners crawled out of hiding. Vallee-style UFOlogists like to think that they, too, are far ahead of their time, and that someday their ideas will likewise be vindicated by history.

But the original Invisible College was made up of scientists who were rebelling against the very sort of mysticism that Vallee is seeking to bring back. They were followers of Francis Bacon, the arch-experimenter, who advocated. that scientists “put nature on the rack and compel her to bear witness.” Bacon would have been acutely uncomfortable in the presence of a metalogic.

Bacon also left his followers a sober warning, which the latter-day invisible college might do well to heed: “In general let every student of nature take this as a rule—that whatever the mind seizes and dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction, is to be held in suspicion.” 

Methinks that the members of today's Invisible College might show just a trifle more suspicion in analyzing reports of bizarre UFO encounters.

Jacques Vallee comments:

I have but few comments, since the reviewer has misunderstood both the spirit and the letter of the book to the point of assuming that I believed there were such planets as Ummo and Spectra, when a great deal of my time is spent precisely in exposing the contradictions of contactee stories. The only inaccuracy I would like to correct for the record has to do with the Center for UFO Studies, with which Sheaffer believes I am still associated. In fact I resigned from the scientific board of CUFOS over a year ago and am not currently associated with any UFO groups. To relieve the dullness of this whole subject I would like to share with you and your readers the epitaph I have composed following the death of Professor Donald Menzel, to whom we owe many definitive explanation of the UFO phenomenon. I have written it as a limerick:

There once was a dead man with a final answer
To strange things in Heaven, but as he got closer, He did meet an angel,
Who said, “Dr. Menzel,
Why are you flying so, Sir?"



Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Drs. Hynek and Vallee Totter on the Edge of Reality!

( Revision March 27, 2022: I have moved Hynek's reply here. Vallee's reply is in the second part.)

Now that Jacques Vallee is back in the news (again) after being selected to join Dr. Avi Loeb's Galileo Project, it's instructive to review some of his earlier writings. Researcher Curt Collins points out that Vallee has been named to Galileo's "Research Team," which is higher than being a mere "Research Affiliate" like Galileo's other UFOlogists (Luis Elizondo, Nick Pope, Chris Mellon, Robert Powell, Gary Voorhis.). Did you see how many people are now listed on the Galileo web pages, in various positions? I didn't count them, but I was surprised to find dozens!

I had two book reviews published in the Spring/Summer, 1977 issue of The Zetetic (later to become The Skeptical Inquirer): this one by Hynek and Vallee, and Vallee's The Invisible College, which is in a later posting here.

Make no mistake, it was always Vallee pulling Hynek to be farther and farther out, rather than the other way around.


                              The Edge of Reality: A Progress Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.
                              By J. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee. Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, 1975.
                             301. pp.  $14.9S cloth, $5.95 paper.

                              Reviewed by Robert Sheaffer  (The Zetetic, Spring/Summer, 1977)

It is not often that one encounters a book written by two trained scientists that promises to take one to the very “edge of reality.” Such voyages of course are daily occurrences for those who dwell in the murky meta-regions of the occult, but it represents a dark, uncharted path for those who have been trained in the exacting methods of the physical sciences. Thus one is not surprised to see that authors J. Allen Hynek, a Northwestern University astronomer and former Air Force UFO consultant, and Jacques Vallee, a computer scientist who also holds a degree in astrophysics, view themselves somewhat as pioneers. The book opens with a stern warning to those who find all new ideas “both frightening and a threat to their intellectual security” (this of course being the only possible reason anyone might disbelieve in UFOs). Their aim is to become Galileo, Einstein, and Daniel Boone rolled up into one, to “open up entirely new vistas” on an unseen universe. Indeed nothing less than a whole new universe awaits us, for it is the authors' modest intention to show how UFOs, ESP, and out-of-body travels are “signaling that there's a reality that the physical scientists... aren't at all conscious of, but exists!”
 
One might expect that physical scientists would approach such a wild, untamed region with infinite caution. If so, one will be disappointed, for the authors have gleefully swallowed a dismally high number of UFO hoaxes. Of the reported UFO abduction of two Mississippi fishermen in 1973, Hynek asserts, “The men are not lying. I’m quite convinced of that” [emphasis in original].  Then why did the principal witness back down, at the last possible moment, from his public promise to take a lie detector test while at a UFO conference in 1975? This promise was only reluctantly given after UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass revealed that an earlier polygraph test, which the witness had apparently passed, had in fact been a twenty-minute “quickie” job, conducted by an unlicensed, uncertified operator brought in from out of state. Never mind such details: the witness had “passed a lie detector test,” and that's good enough evidence for Hynek.

The alleged UFO photos taken at McMinnville in 1950 are included in the book as apparently authentic, despite the fact that the witnesses have been shown to have falsified the time of day at which the photos were supposedly taken. The alleged “paranormal” powers of UFO contactee Uri Geller, the Israeli Cagliostro, are cited as compelling evidence for the reality of that fantasy land supposedly lying beyond “the edge,” despite the demonstrations of James Randi and others that Geller is just a clever fraud. And both authors are convinced of the authenticity of the supposed UFO landing which occurred in Kansas in 1971, even though the principal witness subsequently reported sighting, among other things, “the Wolf Girl.” One is left with the feeling that were Hynek and Vallee to invest in real estate, their first purchase would likely be the Brooklyn Bridge.

The authors are anything but timid. (Even the format of the book is unconventional: most of it consists of transcripts of the authors’ conversations.) They do not attempt to shy away from the obvious internal inconsistency of the UFO phenomenon, as “scientific” UFOlogists usually do. Instead they meet the absurdity head-on. Vallee concedes that the UFOs’ reported behavior “is not consistent either with what you would expect from space visitors, or with what we know about physics. That's the dilemma.” How to resolve it? Simple: first, we hypothesize that UFOs are coming from somewhere outside of space (?), and then we do away with physics.

With that dilemma nicely disposed of, Hynek enjoys telling tales about the “paranormal” feats of a Sioux Indian Medicine Man, which a friend of his has heard about while visiting an Indian village. Vallee prefers talking about elves and Elementals, and the Black and Red Meu, which can only be seen by his three-year- old daughter. Vallee confesses that he once thought the Men, who live in haunted houses and play with ghosts, to be just childhood fantasies. But apparently the findings of his UFO research are now no less bizarre than his daughter's invisible companions. Anything goes when your working hypothesis becomes “interpenetrating universes.” The authors can justifiably feel proud of their work, for they have succeeded in formulating the ideal  scientific hypothesis: no matter what may be discovered in the future, their “parallel universe” scheme can never be refuted!
 
Vallee and Hynek likewise directly confront the tricky question of how UFOs always manage to slip away before the evidence of their existence becomes too convincing. “Close encounters” with UFOs seem to take place in isolated areas, and the supposed “physical remains” of their visits are always inconclusive. Photographs are never clear and convincing, and invariably only one photographer is present. If UFOs were in fact real objects, given the large number of reported sightings, it is inconceivable that conclusive evidence of their existence would not have been obtained by this time. Hynek has an answer to that objection: “The UFO is what has been termed a ’jealous phenomenon.’ " (So termed by whom? By this reviewer. I introduced the idea to Hynek while I was a student at Northwestern.) “A Boeing 747 is not a jealous phenomenon, an eclipse isn't jealous, anyone can observe it. But a UFO is a 'jealous phenomenon’ in that it seems to be localized in space and time.” And thus another troublesome problem has been disposed of, in the finest Medieval fashion: as soon as a name has been invented to cover some puzzling observation, the explanation has been completed. Hynek chooses to ignore the argument I presented in explaining the significance of this concept: when a phenomenon appears to be “jealous,” like UFOs, ESP, and the Bigfoot monster, playing peak-a-boo with the world of objective reality, that is the strongest possible indication that it exists only in the overheated imaginations of its investigators.

The Edge of Reality is riddled with errors of fact, many of them small, but they nonetheless reveal the authors' uniquely careless scholarship. Everyone who reads the book seems to find a few more. For example, the authors state that “years go by without a single [airplane] crash.” Philip J. Klass looked it up: there has been at least one fatal airline accident in the United States in every recent year, a total of 24 in the past five years. Aerospace writer James Oberg thought it curious that Mercury 9 should be launched before Mercury 8, which it must have been if the book's chronology of “astronaut UFOs” is correct. Tape recordings are said to be “in the Library of Congress” when in fact they're not. And the director of Dearborn Observatory in 1897—George Washington Hough, Hynek's own predecessor—was not its first director, as is stated. Is this the kind of scholarship that is expected to convince us to revise our concepts of the very nature of the universe?
 
Of UFOlogical skeptics Hynek says, “Heaven knows we need them to keep a proper balance.” By this standard the Center for UFO Studies, of which Hynek is the founder and director, is an organization badly out of balance, for not a single UFO skeptic is to be found among its principal investigators or on its scientific board. Peas in a pod jostle each other more than does this like-minded crew. The authors' disdain for critical opinion is openly stated elsewhere in the book:

Vallee: Do we have to give a day in court to the man who believes it's all nonsense? Hynek: Hell! One could spend all his energy confronting skeptics.... Why waste time on people who have not bothered to learn the basic facts? It's their problem!
Hynek at Northwestern about 1970
(photo by author).


To categorize all UFO skeptics, including such experienced investigators as the late Donald Menzel and Philip Klass, as “people who have not bothered to learn the basic facts” is nothing short of an outrageous falsehood. Hynek should publicly apologize for having so recklessly published such foolish charges. Here we see the unstated principle upon which the “scientific” UFO Center operates: Responsible criticism does not exist. Questions and disagreements are invariably ignored. Letters from responsible (but unwelcome) individuals remain unanswered. Results of UFO evaluations are never publicly released. (Why give out such information to just anybody?) Thus the operation of the center has come to closely resemble the astrophysicists’ conception of a Black Hole; no matter how much material falls into it, nothing ever escapes. Yet the authors brazenly accuse all the other UFO groups of “actually hiding information instead of revealing it"! “They're publishing just enough to titillate the interest of their subscribers,” charges Hynek, whose group publishes virtually nothing at all, while imploring its subscribers to become patrons at a thousand bucks a throw. “They turn into a PR organization,” says Vallee of every UFO group except his own.

No meeting or conference organized by the Center for UFO Studies has ever included a single skeptic's dissenting voice. (Is the pro-UFO position utterly indefensible?) The house of cards Vallee and Hynek have built upon a foundation of hearsay evidence, careless scholarship, and neglect of scientific methodology would quickly tumble down in the turbulent air of open scientific debate. Having taken such pains to isolate themselves from all responsible criticism, it is not difficult to see why the authors now totter so precariously on the “edge of reality.”
 
J. Allen Hynek comments:

There are several kinds of book reviewers: those who review a book in terms of their own expertise in the subject, thus giving the reader a rewarding and intelligently critical perspective; those who lack this expertise and resort to picking out irrelevant discrepancies (“On page 178 Jones states that Jefferies visited Patagonia in 1923; it was 1924!") just to prove that they read the book (at least page 178); and those who use the review as a vehicle for airing their own opinions and strong emotional bias, with little reference to the main thrust of the author's work. Sheaffer is a good example of all but the first of these.

Sheaffer's concern seems to be that the book is not a definitive work on UFOs. He fails to recognize the primary nature of the book: a conversation between two people who have devoted far, far more time than the reviewer to the subject, and who are themselves by no means in agreement on many aspects of the problem. The Edge of Reality was meant to be controversial, and even deliberately “visionary"; to exhibit the many sides of the problem of dealing with the phenomenon of UFO reports, whose existence no one can deny; and indeed, to parade to public view the authors' own puzzlement about UFOS. It was not intended as "UFO truth once and for all revealed."

Sheaffer has always totally ignored the continuing flow of truly puzz1ing UFO reports, from all parts of the world and in many instances from remarkably competent witnesses. He still undoubtedly be surprised by the results of Dr. Sturrock's recent survey of the membership of the American Astronomical Society on the subject of UFOS (Peter Sturrock, Stanford University Institute for Plasma Research Report No. 681), which points out that 53 percent of the respondents to the questionnaire (52 percent of  the  questionnaires were  returned)  indicated  a positive attitude toward the scientific study of UFO reports, and which also contains a few interesting UFO reports made by professional astronomers!

The reader will discover that Sheaffer has learned well at the feet of his master, Philip Klass, the not-too-gentle art of using argumenti ad homini: “Their aim is to become Galileo, Einstein, and Daniel Boone all rolled into one” is a most uncalled-for remark. Further, his charge that we “have gleefully swallowed a dismally high number of UFO hoaxes” is certainly not demonstrable. Hoaxes by whose standards? Is Sheaffer unaware of Dr. Bruce Maccabee's work on the McMinnville photographs (see the Proceedings of the 1976 CUFOS Conference, Center for UFO Studies), which showed from careful photometric study that the strange object had to be at a considerable distance from the camera? Also, what about the utter lack of substantiation of Klass's claim that Socorro was a hoax contrived by the Chamber of Commerce to attract tourists? A recent visit to Socorro failed to reveal any improved roads (our rented car could not navigate the road to the site, and when a four-wheel pickup was used, the primary witness, Zamora, spent 15 minutes trying to locate the site). There were no signs or markers in the town, nor have there ever been any, to indicate that here is where the UFO landed. No concession stands capitalize on the “tourists.” If this is the sort of proof of hoax that Sheaffer accepts... ! With respect to the Pascagoula incident, I feel that Hickson was justified in refusing to take a polygraph test in the midst of a public conference, with all the “circus atmosphere” such a forum implies. In light of such errors of fact, I must have more than this reviewer's opinion that some of the cases Vallee and I have considered seriously are hoaxes and that we have “gleefully swallowed them.”

In stating that UFO skeptics are people who have not bothered to learn the basic facts, I was speaking of skeptics in general, with whom I have had ample contact in my many years of work in the area. I have found very few skeptics who are informed on the subject of UFOs. There will always be a handful who have diligently studied any subject but choose to interpret the facts to fit their emotional biases. Think of those who still feel that the Apollo mission was staged on a movie lot in Arizona! Or the people who know that one can circumnavigate the globe, yet force-fit this fact into their flat-earth theories!

It is psychologically expensive, and wasteful of time and energy, to join in battle with such skeptics. Should NASA have delayed mounting the effort to go to the moon until they had convinced the Astronomer Royal (who stated in 1955, “Space travel—utter bilge!”) that it was feasible? They had more important things to do. The success of the missions automatically disposed of the Astronomer Royal and his myopic ilk without one word of needless argument from NASA!

Sheaffer would have the Center for UFO Studies use its limited staff to tilt with the skeptics. We have chosen instead to publish, in our short history, many hundreds of pages of case reports and technical papers (e.g., The Lumberton Report; Physical Traces Associated with UFO Sightings; A Catalogue of 200 Type-1 UFO Events in Spain and Portugal, and 1973—Year of the Humanoids). The Center contributes to a new publication, The International UFO Reporter, which involves the careful investigation of every report included in each issue, and the Center also maintains a computerized file (UFOCAT) that now contains over 80,000 entries. Thus we dispose of Sheaffer's “black hole" theory; he chooses to remain “gleefully” unaware of the products of the Center.

All in all, Sheaffer's unfounded criticism, while revealing his emotional bias and its effect on his judgment, is hardly germane to the contents of the book or appropriate to a scholarly review.
 
Later that same year, Newsweek Magazine proclaimed Hynek to be the "Galileo of UFOlogy"


 
 Robert Sheaffer replies:

Dr. Hynek has been kind enough to give us a reply that nicely illustrates all of my principal criticisms of his book.

Am I “unaware” of Dr. Maccabee's recent work? Even Dr. Maccabee does not make the claim that his research proves that the object “had to be at considerable distance from the camera,” as Hynek would surely have known had he actually read the paper he cited.

“He fails to recognize the primary nature of the book ... [it] was meant to be controversial.” Is there not some better way to be controversial than to rush into print with reckless errors or fact, such as in the table of “Astronaut Sightings" (Chapter 3) or the badly misrepresented Walesville “UFO" incident (Chapter 5)? This sloppiness is not a necessary consequence of informality. Am I just nitpicking? Or should this gross carelessness serve to alert us that much, if not all, of the authors' UFO theorizing may be built on a house of cards?
 
My "black hole" critticism is entirely valid as stated: for the first few years of its operation, virtually no evaluations of UFO sightings were published by CUFOS. I will not credit a 1977 refutation of a charge that was entirely valid for the interval stated.

With regard to the Pascagoula incident, Hynek apparently conceded defeat concerning the first polygraph fiasco, but defends Hickson's refusal to face the machine a second time. He fails to mention, however, that Hickson had agreed to the polygraph test as a condition for being invited to the conference, but then backed out after his arrival. Is this action “justified"? Concerning Socorro, I find myself being lambasted for the alleged shortcomings of someone else's analysis of the case, a case not mentioned by me anywhere in my review either directly or indirectly. (I agree that Klass's evidence for a Socorro hoax is not overpowering. But is his explanation as far-fetched as the alternative?)

In light of the above, which of the two of us is guilty of the “errors of fact” that Hynek alleges?

Especially revealing is Dr. Hynek's automatic reduction of all skeptics to the level of flat-earthers and the faked-Apollo-flight nuts. (Who accuses whom of argumenti ad homini?) Disagree with me, says he, and you shall be dropped into the dustbin of History. If the voices of Galileo, Einstein, and Daniel Boone were to all be rolled up into one, would they not speak thusly? (One detects an accent of Zarathustra's voice as well.) Is Hynek “unaware” that both NICAP and APRO have told their members that Klass's investigations represent a significant contribution to UFOlogy and that his book UFOs Explained should be studied by everyone interested in UFOs, even though these groups strongly disagree with Klass's ultimate conclusions? The Center for UFO Studies makes no such concessions to the ravings of flat-earthers, UFO skeptics, and other crackpots. They have no time to “tilt” with unbelievers, as if with so many windmills. (Who is it that suffers from an “emotional bias”?) Dr. Hynek has convincingly illustrated my point that the “scientific" UFO Center operates on the principle that “responsible criticism does not exist.”

Lest the reader conclude that the matter reduces to irreconcilable mutual charges of “emotional bias,” consider this point: in a recent article (Official UFO, October 1976), I have plainly stated the type of evidence that would, if obtained, cause me to reconsider my position as a UFO skeptic. (They needn't land at the White House.) Let Hynek now point to the place where he has described the evidence that would cause him to change his opinions.

My chances of being laughed at along with the flat-earthers in the judgment of history are considerably smaller than the risk Dr. Hynek now runs of being accorded a place alongside the supremely credulous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
 
Hynek was correct that in 1977 there was no marker to designate Zamora's sighting  - but there is today!
(Photo by Ryan Gordon.)

 

 
This text was extracted from a non-searchable PDF using the on-line tool "ocr2edit". There are many such tools, and that was about the sixth one I'd tried. It was the first one to actually produce a readable output. So I figured that, instead of making a cash donation, I'd let people know I'd found at least one such tool that actually works.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Galileos Galore - Now including Jacques Vallee!

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers. Not much new has been happening, just a lot of arguing about the politics of government UFO investigation, which we'll get to some other time.  In November I wrote (once again) about how the "Galileo Project" of Harvard's Dr. Avi Loeb had added Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, former Top Men of  Tom DeLonge's To The Stars Academy, as a "research affiliates" to his Galileo Project. Soon afterward, Loeb announced that  Nick Pope, Michael Shermer, Ohad Raveh and Nathan Goldstein were also becoming "research affiliates" to his Project. The latter two persons are not UFOlogists and I'm not familiar with them. Michael Shermer is, of course, a well-known skeptic and the publisher of Skeptic magazine. (Shermer told me that the "affiliate" position is not a paid one). The selection of Pope is problematic, like that of Mellon and Elizondo earlier. Nick Pope is well-known in UFOlogy, having long claimed to have run the UFO project in the UK Ministry of Defense. He has also made a slew of claims to the media that are simply bizarre, including warning about alien invasions. Unfortunately for Nick, the truth has slowly leaked out that there was no such MOD UFO project, and his position was that of a desk clerk. (Isn't it amazing how closely this parallels the story of Nick's fellow "affiliate" Elizondo?)

In 1977, Newsweek proclaimed Dr. Hynek "The Galileo of UFOlogy"

But let us pause to consider the very name of the "Galileo Project." The study of unidentified, and possibly alien, objects has already had its 'Galileo,' specifically astronomer and former Project Blue Book consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Hynek was proclaimed to be the "Galileo of UFOlogy" by Newsweek magazine in 1977. He seemed to relish the title, envisioning himself as the one who will lead Science on to new and previously-undreamed discoveries through the study of UFOs. So perhaps it would be best for Dr. Loeb to re-name his project, to alleviate confusion over which Galileo is which. The following names are still available for such a project:

  • Newton Project
  • Einstein Project
  • Wilhelm Reich Project
  • L. Ron Hubbard Project

And so on.

Well, Dr. Loeb has really done it now: "We are delighted to announce that Dr. Jacques Vallée has joined #galileoproject! We will greatly benefit from his wisdom and insights!" Indeed, Jacques Vallee is one of the best-known figures in UFOlogy, having been the author of many influential UFO books since 1965. He has also been quite mystical, which a lot of his fans don't realize, dabbling in Rosicrucianism, 'alternate realities,' and such. It's hard to see how Vallee's promotion of mystical ideas can be reconciled with the Galileo Project's professed "Ground Rules," especially "The analysis of the data will be based solely on known physics and will not entertain fringe ideas about extensions to the standard model of physics." It seems to me that Vallee is the very embodiment of those promoting "fringe ideas":
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. (Vallee, Forbidden Science, Vol. I, p. 88)

Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris
The timing of Vallee's selection is especially perplexing because Vallee's most recent book, Trinity (co-authored with Paola Harris), about a supposed 1945 UFO crash in New Mexico, is being widely panned, even by many of those who once admired him greatly. Jason Colavito explains,
The San Antonio crash story is rather unbelievable, even by UFO standards. According to the most common version of the story, Jose Padilla and Reme Baca, then aged 9 and 7, witnessed a nearly thirty-foot-long spacecraft crash into the desert. They ran to the crash site and saw two little men emerge and begin running about in a panic. One of the boys took a piece of debris from the crash site. Then, the U.S. Army arrived, built a road out to the crash site, and retrieved the spaceship. The boys never knew what became of the little men from inside the ship.
 
The story rests on the memories, six decades after the fact, of small children repeating a tale straight out of a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers comic strip.
Bryan Sentes writes on the Skunkworks Blog,
On finishing VallĂ©e’s and Harris’ Trinity, the reader would be forgiven if they wondered if the “Jacques VallĂ©e” who co-authored this book were the same “Jacques VallĂ©e” credited with writing Revelations or the recently re-issued Passport to Magonia. Where the last volume is, at least in certain circles, highly-prized for being inventive and groundbreaking and Revelations is a focussed, critical examination of the stories about alien abduction, crashed flying saucers and dead aliens, secret alien bases and cattle mutilation, Trinity is an unfocussed, raggedly-composed, eye-rollingly credulous mess of a book.

It would be a tedious exercise to catalogue its manifold failings. While Vallée speaks of himself as a scientist and even imagines scientists reading the book (286), Trinity is no work of science, scholarship, or even investigative journalism. Indeed, it reads like a first draft, in sore need of a thorough editing for content and structure, let alone a proof-reading.

 Unlike Vallee's other books, Trinity is self-published, and thus escaped proper editing.

Avi Loeb wrote an"opinion and analysis" piece in Scientific American, "Astronomers Should Be Willing to Look Closer at Weird Objects in the Sky" (Sept. 29, 2021). I've never known any astronomer to be unwilling to look at weird objects, assuming such objects can actually be found. Loeb writes,

Under typical weather conditions, Earth’s atmosphere is opaque to infrared light beyond a distance of about 10 kilometers or less. Resolving a feature the size of a cell phone on the surface of a UAP at that distance requires a telescope diameter on the order of 10 centimeters. Having a few such telescopes on a given site will allow us to monitor the motion of an object in three dimensions. These telescopes could be supplemented by a radar system that would distinguish a physical object in the sky from a weather pattern or a mirage.

If UAP are solid objects, they should heat up as they rub against air at high speed. The surfaces of objects that move in air faster than sound, such as supersonic airplanes or space rockets, are heated by hundreds of degrees. I calculated that the infrared glow of fast objects above a meter in size, supplemented by the heat from shockwaves in the air around them or an engine they carry, should be detectable with infrared sensors on telescopes out to the desired distance.

The Galileo Project makes much of looking for hypothetical alien objects in orbit around the earth. But if an object is in orbit, it will not "rub against air at high speed." So he is talking about objects zipping around in the atmosphere at high speeds, like UFOs are supposed to be doing. This is exceedingly implausible, since such an object would quickly fall to earth if unpowered, so he is assuming that aliens can both power it and control it from light years away.  Loeb seems to think that a few four-inch telescopes felicitously positioned within 10 km of the speeding alien probe will catch the sneaky bugger. This is about as likely as getting hit by lightning just as you bend over to pick up a discarded $1000 bill on the sidewalk, at the same time as your cell phone receives a call from Publishers Clearinghouse to inform you that you've won the Grand Prize  Really, really unlikely

 

On January 19 I did a two-hour podcast with Kal Korff and Melissa Martel on The Wicked Truth. We talked about Betty Hill and her crazy stories, like a building that walked  away and disappeared, or a truck that flew over the freeway. Kal told how Friedman kept making claims he knew were false. We also talked about the roles of Robert Bigelow, Joe Firmage, and others in promoting dubious claims. Have a listen!