Sunday, September 11, 2022

Whither Calvine??

In the last post, we looked at the legendary, long-lost Calvine UFO photo, one print of which has just recently been found! As you might imagine, there have been a lot of people spending a lot of time poring over that photo. Higher-resolution, non-lossy scans are now available. However, they still do not show much detail. What are the latest findings based on expert analysis? There is no generally-accepted explanation as of yet. There appear to be three categories of explanation for that "UFO" at the present time.

From a higher-resolution, non-losssy scan of the print, I greatly enhanced the contrast and sharpness. Still not much detail is seen.

1. Unknown or Experimental Aircraft. Dr. David Clarke, whose research led to the discovery of the lost Calvine photo, is presently in that camp. Supposedly, it is a top-secret American supersonic experimental aircraft named "Aurora," which has been widely speculated about, but never shown to actually exist. And frankly, if some advanced aircraft was supposedly developed over thirty years ago, and has not been seen openly before or since, that is excellent reason to doubt its existence. One reason people accept this is simply that it was reported to be the conclusion of the UK MOD Intelligence officers who examined the photos. Perhaps some people see this as convincing, but if the UK MoD "experts" are anything like the Pentagon's UAP "experts," remember that the "chief scientist" for the US DOD UAP task force is a guy from Ancient Aliens. So don't be too awed by "experts."

The photographers told investigators that the object hovered motionless for about ten minutes, then rapidly shot straight up. If that statement is true, it rules out any advanced aircraft of human construction. Supersonic aircraft do not simply hover in place for minutes at a time. And if that statement is false, the case must immediately be considered a hoax - Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. If a witness lies about one aspect of the case, everything else he says about it is dubious.

2. Reflection in Water Hypothesis. This explanation seems all-too-clever, is counter-intuitive, yet it is attracting lot of attention. At first it seems impossible, but when properly understood it is indeed possible. Whether it is likely, however, is another matter.  

The 'reflection hypothesis,' as illustrated by Mick West on Metabunk.

Mick West's illustration shows how such a reflection might be possible. If the photographers happened to come across a pond reflecting the scenery as above, and if there happened to be a big rock sticking out of the water, then the rock, and its reflection, would appear to be an object in the sky, at least if we looked only at the reflection. They need just wait for the military jet to be in the right position, then "click." But it seems rather unlikely that random hikers would run across such a scenario (The site where the photo was taken is not known with certainty. David Clarke published a photo by Giles Stevens, purporting to show the actual location of the Calvine photo. No pond is there.)  Also, the surface of the water would have to be exceptionally still, to avoid seeing any ripples whatsoever in the water. Not impossible, to be sure, but very unlikely. I'd say, this hypothesis is too clever by half.

Another fact arguing against the reflection hypothesis is the matter of camera focus. The UFO is in better focus than anything else in the photo. This almost certainly means that the UFO is closer than everything else, and the camera was focused upon it. Now we do not know what kind of camera was used to take this photo, and what kind of lens, or what f/stop was used. So it is not possible to make definite depth-of-field calculations. According to the photo analysis by Dr. Clarke's colleague Andrew Robinson, the camera used was most likely a 35 mm SLR, with a lens focal length between 35mm and 105mm. (That is a pretty large range!) Listing the possibilities, a camera like the one below is his first choice: a 35mm SLR, using a 50mm lens (which was standard on such cameras).

The Calvine photos were most likely taken with a camera and lens like this, an 80s vintage SLR with 50mm lens.

This lens helpfully has a depth-of-field indicator (center dial). If we choose f/8 for our f-stop (inner ring), we then rotate the outer focusing ring to where the "infinity" symbol is at f/8. On the other side of the center dial, we find that f/8 gives us good focus on objects as close as about 4 1/2 meters. This ensures that every object from about 4 1/2 meters to infinity will be in sharp focus. So if the camera at f/8 is focused on a nearby object, rendering distant objects out-of-focus, that means that the camera must be focused on an object about 4 meters or less distant. If f/11 is used, the depth of field extends from to 3 meters to infinity.
 

Using this 50mm lens at f/8, objects from 5 meters to infinity can be in sharp focus.

In the reflection hypothesis, the rock would need to be at least 10 meters or so from the camera. In such a situation, the focus for the rock would not be different from that of distant objects. This seems to rule out the 'water reflection' hypothesis.

3. Small object near the camera. This is, in my view, the most likely explanation. There are a number of different ways that it could be done. The Belgian investigator Wim van Utrecht thought that the object looked like a Christmas star set on its side. 




He decided to test that hypothesis. Photographing that star from the side, this was the result. I'd say that this is an excellent match-up for the object seen in the Calvine photo.
A Christmas star, photographed from the side (Wim van Utrecht).




 

 

Researcher James A. Conrad suggested that  the object might be produced using the "glass shot" technique, where an object is painted, or affixed, to a glass screen. He writes that this technique "has been used by filmmakers and photographers – and possibly some hoaxers – for over 115 years."



Over on Metabunk, user NorCal Dave has been attempting replications of the Calvine photo using various techniques. The photo below uses a paper model. It definitely looks like he is on the right track.

NorCal Dave's replication of the Calvine photo, using a paper model. Note how the "UFO" is in better focus than anything else.


 


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Calvine 1990 Photo: Missing Rumored 'Most Spectacular' UFO Photo Found!

It was only a week or so ago that I posted on a UFO group, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, "the Calvine UFO photo is the best 'classic' UFO photo that nobody has ever seen, except Nick Pope." That was then; this is now.

UFO celebrity Nick Pope claims to have investigated UFOs for the British government, a claim he repeats often. Too bad it isn't true. The reality is that Pope was little more than a file clerk for the UK Ministry of Defense, who had no responsibilities for investigating UFO sightings, or anything else. But a credulous media almost invariably accepts his claims, and hangs on his every statement, no matter how absurd. Just one example: in 2006, Pope, described as a "former MoD chief," warned in the Daily Mail that "the country could be attacked by extraterrestrials at any time." Like Luis Elizondo in the US, Nick Pope claims to have led a UFO investigation program for his country's defense establishment. Both claims are equally bogus; neither of them was responsible for investigating anything.

Nick Pope wrote, "The Calvine UFO photo is the most spectacular UFO photo ever sent to the Ministry of Defence. It's also missing." In brief, the story is: When Pope was working for the MoD, his boss had a poster-sized copy of one of the Calvine UFO photos hanging on the wall by his desk. Later it was taken down, and it (along with the photos themselves) had apparently disappeared. Here is what Pope wrote about it in 2020.

The analysis was nothing short of sensational. The photos hadn’t been faked.

They showed a structured craft of unknown origin, unlike any conventional aircraft. There was no fuselage, no wings, no tail, no engines and no markings of any sort.

Color image re-creation of Calvine UFO photo, by the Cynon Valley Leader. Not the real thing!

Well, it appears that one of the Calvine photos has been found! Dr. David Clarke is a folklorist and skeptical researcher who teaches journalism at the Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. He is the author of the delightful 2015 book, How UFOs Conquered the World - The History of a Modern Myth. I reviewed that book for The Skeptical Inquirer.

At long last, one of the actual Calvine UFO photos!

After a long and difficult investigation, Clarke finally located a print of the Calvine UFO photo, in the possession of the retired RAF officer Craig Lindsay. Here is a video of David Clarke and other researchers going into the background of the photo in more detail. After Clarke released the photo, Pope released the following gobbledygook statement in order to try to remain relevant:

Calvine UFO Photo: It's my policy not to comment on leaked information, especially if it might be classified, so until I receive Ministry of Defence advice, I can neither confirm nor deny if this is the picture that was displayed on my office wall when I ran the MoD's 'UFO desk'.

It's not my intention to delve into an analysis of the photo yet. That will require more time, and better scans. The only scans of the photo available so far are.JPEGs, which is a lossy compression scheme and does not preserve fine details. 

So far, most serious UFO investigators seem to be "underwhelmed" by it. After so much hype, just another fakey-looking UFO photo. Some of my initial comments are:

  • The "UFO" seems to be the only object in the photo that is actually in focus. That suggests that it is small and close to the camera, which was focused for it.
  • Nick Pope wrote that the Calvine photos consisted of "colour photographs," but the print we have seen is black-and-white. What explains the discrepancy?
  • David Clarke is suggesting that the object is an authentic photo of a supposed US secret supersonic aircraft called "Aurora." I can't accept that for a number of reasons. This supposed aircraft was built over 30 years ago. Where has it been since? Why hasn't it been revealed? (Think of how many people must know about it, yet we have no leaks.) It flies only over northern Scotland, and nowhere else? And nobody sees it, except these two guys? New secret aircraft are tested over the deserts of Nevada and California, not half a world away. Also, I don't see how that thing can fly, it's not going to generate lift. While alien UFOs can reportedly use anti-gravity propulsion and Element 115, terrestrial craft must be built using the technology available at the time, more than 30 years ago. So what powers it, and how does it fly? Also, the photographers claimed that the object was "hovering" for about ten minutes. How does an aircraft do that?

When more details are available about "the most spectacular UFO photo ever sent to the Ministry of Defence," you will read about it here.

 

 


Monday, July 18, 2022

UFOs Blitz Mexico!

This is  story of my 1996 Tour of 'UFO Hotspots' in Mexico. It is adapted from Chapter 21 of my 1998 book UFO Sightings - The Evidence (Prometheus Books) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Probably the area of the greatest UFO activity and excitement in the world today (1996) is in and around Mexico City. UFO proponents often cite the UFO "evidence" from Mexico as the strongest anywhere. When the head of the American UFO group CSETI, Dr. Steven Greer, appeared on the "UFO Coverup"  TV special on Larry King Live,  October 1, 1994, which was broadcast outdoors near the so-called "Area 51" in the Nevada desert, Greer chided them that it is not necessary go to inaccessible places to see UFOs: "In the last three years there have been hundreds of video tapes of these objects maneuvering over twenty-two million people in Mexico City." A National Enquirer story of July 23, 1996, titled "UFOs Blitz Mexico," made equally remarkable claims.

 The National Enquirer, July 23, 1996

The modern phase of UFO activity in Mexico began with the total eclipse of July 11, 1991. With a duration of totality lasting about seven minutes, nearly the maximum possible, and crossing Mexico's most populated regions, it was one of the great eclipses of the century. 
 
The greatly-overexposed image of the eclipsed sun in Mexico, and its much fainter reflected image at left.

The Birthplace of Quetzalcoatl
Many of the photos showed artifacts like the one seen above. Several were presented to us by a woman in Amatlan de Quetzalcoatl, in complete sincerity, as a genuine UFO. (That place is supposed to be the birthplace of  Quetzalcoatl, making it a sort of Aztec Bethlehem.) The greatly overexposed object, obviously an image of the eclipse, was supposed to be a giant UFO, and the dimmer ring-like object, was supposed to be the eclipsed sun. However, that analysis is backwards. The overexposed object is no anomalous object, but rather the sun, which though only a tiny sliver or "diamond ring" remains uneclipsed, is nonetheless quite bright enough to overexpose the film when photographed directly. The fainter image is in fact just an internal reflection of the eclipsed sun itself, caused by light reflecting off the surfaces of the individual lens elements, and onto the film plane. Many thousands of people, photographing the eclipse with simple cameras, obtained results similar to this. People concluded that they must have photographed OVNIs (the Spanish acronym for UFOs), and enterprising promoters perceived an opportunity to make some quick pesos. The great Mexican UFO flap was on.
 
In April, 1996 I had the opportunity to check this out for myself when I went on a UFO-related Mexican tour organized by Beyond Boundaries, a 'paranormal travel' agency. This group has also organized trips to the U.K. to investigate Crop Circles, and to Puerto Rico to check out an area reputed to contain chupacabras and an Interdimensional Portal. A chupacabra, literally "goat sucker," is a fabled creature said to attack farm animals and drain them of blood. Actually, this story is just the familiar "cattle mutilation" legend, told with a Latin twist. If a rancher speaks English, his dead farm animals will have been molested by space aliens; if he speaks Spanish, it will have been done by a chupacabra.

One of the tour organizers was Rubin Uriarte, of MUFON Northern California. Two of our tour members worked for the Bigelow-funded National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) in Las Vegas. One of them was Air Force Lt. Col. Peter McDuff, the other was nuclear engineer Ted Rockwell (1923-2013), who I was familiar with because of his earlier critiques of skeptics. Most of the other people were ‘true believers;’ in fact, the two NIDS guys and I earned the reputation of the ‘group's skeptics,’ as we were unwilling to believe remarkable claims without seeing proof. At the time, claims were widely being made that UFOs were being seen widely at certain places in Mexico, including the airport in Mexico City. You only needed to go there if you wanted to see them, it was said; of course, that wasn’t true. We flew in and out of that airport, and didn't see anything unusual. Our itinerary took us to some of the most UFOlogically-active regions in the entire world, and we met with many of the leading UFOlogists in Mexico. Was Mexico really experiencing a "UFO blitz"? Here is what I found:

Jaime Maussan met with us.
We met with Jaime Maussan, a TV investigative reporter in Mexico City now turned UFO promoter, who has made more money off the UFO mania than anyone else in Mexico, and perhaps the entire world. His lecture fee at the time of our visit was 60,000 pesos (approximately US $8,000), a staggering sum for a single evening's work, most especially in Mexico. In 2015, Maussan was one of the main promoters of the preposterous Roswell Slides hoax. He runs an organization that exploits belief in UFOs and other dubious claims. We also met, at greater length, with his assistant Eduardo Viadas, who was filling in for his boss while Maussan was in Tijuana, lecturing and investigating chupacabras. Eduardo introduced us to Emilio Grenados, one of los vigilantes, an organization set up by Maussan to gather UFO evidence. Grenados explained how members of this group are trained in the use of cameras, then sent out as part of an on-call network of photographers to travel to wherever UFOs are reported. Jaime Maussan's company produces a 12-tape set of videos of UFOs, several of them prominently featuring Swiss UFO contactee Billy Meier's widely-discredited 'UFOs From the Pleiades.'

Maussan also produces videos about Kennedy assassination conspiracies, and "miracles" of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As might be expected, his studio contains a great deal of state-of-the-art, computer-ontrolled video enhancement equipment. The problem is, however, that unless one is able to examine an original UFO negative or video in its un-edited, original state, it is worthless as "proof" of anything. Maussan displayed what was either a distressing naivete, or else disingenuousness, when he told us straight-out that "Mexicans do not make hoax UFO photos." He quickly added, however, that Americans do. Incidentally, Maussan told us that he does not believe the 'UFO abduction' stories that are the rage in the U.S.; they are simply too bizarre for him to accept.
Maussan's studio in 1996, where his employees produced video tapes promoting loopy stuff.

Maussan claimed to have access to huge amounts of radar UFO evidence from the airport at Mexico City, and he seemed to be able to contact the airport radar operator at any time on his cellular phone, which he did while speaking to us. One of the NIDS people took a keen interest in getting tapes and other data from the supposedly frequent appearances of UFOs on the radar, for analysis in the U.S. However, when Maussan was asked to provide hard data from the radar, suddenly for reasons that were unclear to us that data became very difficult to obtain, when just a moment before it was present in massive detail, albeit in anecdotal form. Maussan talked about UFO evidence and hard data a great deal, but none was seen. He promised to send us reams of UFO evidence that his group had amassed, and took down the names and addresses of interested researchers. However, nothing was ever received.

Maussan claimed that his organization uses a scientific process of computer enhancement which distinguishes genuine UFO photos from hoaxes, based on the presence of 'energy fields' which surround only genuine objects. He claimed that this enhancement process, which was illustrated in an article in each issue of the magazine Contacto OVNI ("UFO Contact", a sensationalist UFO publication of which Maussan is a consulting editor), would reveal the presence of magnetic fields, energy fields, spectral luminescence, etc. surrounding a real UFO. I strenuously objected that no such analysis was possible from an ordinary video or photo, and Maussan seemed unprepared to confront a knowledgeable critic. He fell back to the position that he was only a journalist, repeating what his scientific consultant, a physicist, had told him. To save face with the group, he arranged to have his physicist meet with us the following day.

We did meet with Mario Torres, Maussan's scientific consultant. It turns out, however, that Torres is no physicist, but actually one of the editors of Contacto OVNI. Torres claims that the software and algorithms utilized to analyze the photos are his own. While he has some education in science, and claims to have produced some patent-able inventions, Torres was quite unable to describe to us any valid scientific principles on which his analyses were made. While he claimed to be able to measure "thermal energy", "electromagnetic energy," and "levels of energy" from photos or videos, after a little questioning it became clear that he was unable to defend his statements. Torres said he based his analyses upon a conversation he once had with the late physicist Richard Feynman, who told him that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon. All the rest of the supposedly "scientific analysis" is based upon his own conjectures as to what that implies about what a photograph will and will not contain. Torres told us, as did Viadas and Maussan, that he did not believe the 'UFO abduction' stories coming from the U.S.; they were simply so bizarre as to defy belief.

The Great Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Near Mexico City are the great pyramids at Teotihuacan, built in pre-Aztec times approximately 1800 years ago. The noted crop circle guru Colin Andrews, prudently branching out into other fields of paranormalism, had been on one of the earlier Beyond Boundaries' Mexico trips. He claimed to have detected 'energy lines' while standing on top the great Pyramid of the Sun, so we were told to be alert for this. When we reached the summit of that magnificent ancient monument, most of us said that we didn't feel anything, other than the exhilaration of having climbed up to a magnificent place, at the high elevation of Mexico City. However, one member of our group stood looking up at the sky, his arms outstretched, as if 'drawing down energy'. This gesture attracted considerable attention, and soon others were following his example. As we were departing, some people were still 'drawing down energy'. I wonder if perhaps our group started a new occult practice?

"Drawing down Energy" atop the Pyramid of the Sun.
 

From Mexico City we went to Tepoztlan, in the state of Morelos, not far from Cuernavaca. This is the New Age center of Mexico, often compared to Sedona or Taos. It contains many shops selling crystals, New Age literature, etc. The Hotel Tepoztlan is a 'holistic health resort', with its own naturopathic physicians and herbal pharmacy on the premises. Its restaurant is entirely vegetarian. It offers its guests very reasonable rates on alternative health services, and was then offering a special discount on a colonic irrigation, which I nonetheless declined.

The mountains surrounding the town are said to 'glow' at night with mystical energy, and in truth they sometimes seem to. The town is surrounded by high, steep cliffs much like Yosemite valley, at night the light-colored rocks reflect the lights of the town. Brush fires were more or less continually burning somewhere nearby, and isolated flames on the mountains were called out by some as suspected UFOs, until calmer voices and a peek through binoculars persuaded them that they were just seeing fires. In California, we spend millions of dollars per year fighting thousands of brush fires in the wilderness. In Mexico, however, lacking the resources to fund such massive efforts, fires in sparsely-inhabited areas are usually allowed to burn themselves out. We spent two evenings holding a "skywatch" on the rooftop of the hotel, which offers an unobstructed view of the UFO-infested town of Tepoztlan. No anomalous objects of any kind were seen, in spite of the ready availability of some very fine beer and Tequila.

Carlos Diaz (facing camera), pointing out the mystical highlights of Tepoztlan from the roof of the hotel.

Our main contact in Tepoztlan was perhaps that town's most famous citizen, UFO celebrity Carlos Diaz. Carlos is a professional photographer, who takes photos of what he says are "plasma ships" piloted by extraterrestrials. When Shirley Maclaine was in Mexico she stopped by to visit him; Carlos showed us a photo of the two of them together, beaming. Carlos possesses a very charming, boyish personality, and immediately becomes overly-friendly with those he meets. No doubt many find this reassuring, but with me it has the opposite effect of setting me on guard, as it calls to mind the slick manner of a used-car salesman. Up on the rooftop of the hotel, Carlos pointed out to us the UFO highlights of the town. He indicated a rock feature that he said resembles the male organ. When seen from the other side of the mountain, it resembles female organs, he said. For this reason, he said, the Aztecs knew it as "the Mountain of Life," although I wouldn't care to bet any money on that statement. Near the base of that mountain is where the alien spacecraft most frequently land.

The way Carlos tells his story, it has three levels. At each level, you are kept unaware that he has even more bizarre stuff that will later follow, things that logically he should have mentioned earlier. Apparently this is so that he can lecture to different groups, of different levels of gullibility. Our group got it from all three barrels. Some members of our group possessed credulity of truly cosmic proportions, and the rest of us kept our mouths shut.

One of Carlos Diaz' "plasma ships," shooting down a light beam.

The first level is the story of Carlos the UFO spotter, a professional photographer who often sees and photographs alien Plasma Ships on the outskirts of Tepoztlan. After about an hour of this, we take a short break, then he begins the second level: the story of Levitated Carlos, who has actually been taken on board the plasma ships, a fact he somehow neglected to mention during the previous segment. Unfortunately, when he was taken aboard he wasn't able to see much. Apparently, the "Plasma" that comprises the alien craft is something like a combination of fog and chewing gum. Walking in any direction was difficult, and no matter where he would go all he could see was more plasma.

Following another short break, we heard the story of Carlos the Adamski-style contactee. His outer space friend often lands, and they go for long nocturnal walks in the desert, where the alien dispenses cosmic wisdom. The evening concluded with an apocalyptic warning of impending ecological doom unless mankind repents of its sinful selfish ways and stops harming the planet. This obviously-heartfelt message is especially significant coming as it does not merely from Carlos, who might be safely ignored, but instead from the extraterrestrials themselves!

Carlos Diaz sells autographed offset prints - not photos - of his supposed "Plasma Ships" for US $20 each, a price which would strike me as quite high even in New York City, let alone in Mexico. We were discreetly warned not to trust Diaz by paying in advance, as others had not received prints they had paid for. His UFOs look mostly like featureless blotches, and even Jaime Maussan privately admitted that he has a difficult time accepting them as authentic. Interestingly, Carlos told us that he does not believe the "UFO abduction" reports coming from the U.S.; they're just too bizarre for him to swallow.

Warning! Evacuation of the Earth in Tepoztlan!

There was a huge banner strung across the main street of Tepoztlan, proclaiming a coming "evacuation of the earth" via flying saucer, under the supervision of the Ashtar command. I asked Carlos what this was about. He shrugged and replied that he knows nothing about it, as it was put up by a different UFO group.
 
Tepoztlan was also the site of another little-known but nonetheless momentous UFO encounter: it is the site where the controversial conspiracy-oriented Black Muslim minister, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, was swept up from the ground to a huge mother-ship hovering overhead. Farrakhan claims that on Sept. 17, 1985, he was beamed up from the Aztec pyramid on the mountain at Tepoztlan to a UFO, where he was warned by the voice of the late Elijah Muhammed of Ronald Reagan's forthcoming "genocide plot" against Qadaffi's Libya (the air raids in retaliation for Libya's support of anti-American terrorists).

Looking for "energy lines" on the spot where Diaz meets the Plasma Ships.

We went to the soccer field near the supposed "Mountain of Life" (male side), where Carlos supposedly encounters the Plasma Ships. On a previous trip, Colin Andrews had detected "energy lines" on this spot, too, and he traced them out in a rectangular grid using his dowsing rod. Several people tried dowsing the "energy lines" without much success, until finally the rod was picked up by a woman who claims a pattern of repeated UFO abduction. She quickly dowsed a pattern of "energy lines" on the soccer field, and people were directed to stand to mark the positions where the "energy lines" crossed. What this exercise accomplished, if anything, was unclear, as was the definition of the supposed "energy" she claimed to dowse. No serious attempt was made by the group to determine whether or not these "energy lines" represent anything real. This was an exercise in group psychology, not in physics.

Leaving Tepoztlan for Metepec, in the state of Puebla, the volcano Popocatepetl came into view, one of the largest in the world. In fact, the area was on volcanic alert, and some minor eruptions had occurred in recent months, showering the area with volcanic ash. This volcano figures prominently in UFO lore of the region.

Mario Arminas with one of his UFO drawings.

UFO witness and investigator Mario Arminas of Metepec claims to have made numerous sightings of UFOs in the vicinity of the volcano, and showed us at least a dozen of his drawings. One of them depicts an entire fleet of UFOs going down into the volcano's crater. Another depicts a giant and very ornate UFO, reportedly 300 meters in diameter, with many windows. Mario offers to sell individually hand-painted drawings of his UFOs, US$ 20 for the smaller ones, $30 for the larger. These beautiful handcrafted watercolors offer better value than Carlos Diaz' printed sheets.

Mario has a conspiracy theory involving UFOs and the volcano. The last eruption was provoked, he says, by the earth's superpowers, to obtain a supply of sulfur. (Apparently our country's sulfur shortage has been kept well hidden from the public.) He and others claim to have seen fleets of military helicopters flying up to the volcano, and back again. The former administration of Carlos Salinas is rumored to have actually sold Popocatepetl to foreign interests, who covet its UFO secrets, as well as its sulfur. Mario was worried that our group might have come down to Metepec on behalf of the U.S. Government to obtain UFO secrets from the volcano, and he was unwilling to talk with us unless we swore we were not working on behalf of the U.S. government, or any related agency. All of us gave him our solemn word.

The volcano Popocatepetl

In Metepec, our primary contact was Norberto Gil, leader of the group IFO-IEGA. The group gathers regularly for UFO skywatches at Punta Marconi, a small farm on a hill just outside Metepec, offering an unobstructed view of the sky, and a spectacular vista of Popocatapetl. Even after dark, a volcanic plume could be seen rising skyward from the crater. On this site the IFO-IEGA group has constructed a shack or clubhouse for greater comfort during their UFO vigils. This is one of the sites that was used by the American group CSETI on Mexican trips. We held a skywatch there on two consecutive nights. The site is almost directly under a main air traffic corridor between Mexico and South America, and some members of the group seem to have difficulty distinguishing UFOs from airplanes. Often the UFOs are said to keep to regular nocturnal timetables, which further compounds the confusion between UFOs and scheduled international flights.

People brought tapes of supposed "UFO noises" and "crop circle noises," and practiced group meditation, all in an attempt to communicate with, and hopefully summon, the UFO beings. These are the techniques of CSETI, which IFO-IEGA learned well from their American colleagues. Norberto led the group in meditation and creative visualization. He told us to visualize ourselves slowly rising up from our places in the field, to a series of points successively higher above the ground, then finally out into space beyond the moon, where we would encounter a giant UFO. We would implore it to come and reveal itself to us tonight, much as one might implore any other celestial being. The effect of his talk was much like that of a minister leading his congregation in prayer, imploring an unseen celestial being to grant us our fervent wish.

The UFO Clubhouse in Metepec.

When no UFOs were seen after we had been watching for about an hour and a half, the group retired into the clubhouse to have snacks and get comfortable. Norberto picked up his accordion and led the group in song. He later switched to his guitar. They sang their songs, we sang our songs, the sense of camaraderie and good spirits was unmistakable and infectious; all we lacked were UFOs to make the night complete. The following morning, just before our departure from Metepec, Norberto told us that a UFO had been seen just ten minutes after we had left the previous night. Darn it! But UFOs are like that, always cleverly concealing themselves whenever the danger of their public exposure is the greatest. Like the other Mexican UFOlogists we met, Norberto told us that he and the others in his group do not believe the American UFO abduction reports; they're just too bizarre to accept.

Looking for a gravitational anomaly.

One morning in Metepec we stopped at the site of a supposed "gravitational anomaly" near Punta Marconi. The tourbus was supposed to roll uphill on what was said to be a downhill slope. A complex pattern of local slopes confuses the eye as to where "level" really is. Unfortunately, the bus refused to cooperate. Norberto tried to illustrate the mystery and get the bus rolling, giving it a heroic shove. He is a very strong fellow, but the tourbus refused to keep rolling in any direction, up or down.

In nearby Atlixco, we visited the home of Sr. Lino, an attorney, in whose yard UFOs are said to have landed several times. A ring in the grass was reportedly left as evidence of each landing, although none were visible at the time of our visit. His 16-year-old daughter Adrianna claims to have seen a UFO land in the yard outside her window. She has since begun receiving apocalyptic visions of the earth colliding with a giant asteroid, bigger even than Jupiter. The most dramatic physical evidence presented to us on the entire trip was when Sr. Lino displayed a small stick that he said had been broken when the UFO landed.

Landing evidence - a stick broken by a landed UFO.

We returned to the U.S. in good spirits, yet disappointed that the primary objective of the trip was not met: to witness some of the fabled Mexican UFO encounters with our own eyes. Despite holding four evenings of Skywatches in two of the principal UFO hotspots in Mexico, no anomalous objects of any kind were seen. We met with the leading UFO proponents in Mexico, yet were shown no unusual physical evidence of any kind, and saw no clear or convincing photos or videos. We did see several photos and videos that appear to be sincere misinterpretations of prosaic phenomena. It seems that despite the stories we hear in the U.S. about the supposedly frantic pace of UFO activity south of the border, if you actually go to the hottest UFO hot-spots in Mexico and get the leading UFOlogists to show you their best evidence, you will find nothing more remarkable than the same blurry photos and hazy stories we are accustomed to finding here.



Thursday, June 30, 2022

"Skinwalkers at the Pentagon" - a Book Review about Ghosts and Werewolves

This book came out last October, and I confess that for quite a while I paid little attention to it. 'Oh great,' I thought, 'more loopy stories and fairy tales.' (Which it does contain in abundance.) But after seeing a few excerpts from the book that had been posted, I realized that it was much more than that. After reading it, I realized that this book is by far the most important thing that has yet been written on the subject of AATIP, AAWSAP, and all aspects of the Pentagon UFO/UAP story. The authors are first-hand participants in the events, which they detail and document. James Lacatski administered the AAWSAP program for the Pentagon. I wrote about the reports and other data delivered by that program. Colm Kelleher was the contact person for the contract, working for Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies. George Knapp is a journalist who turns up absolutely anywhere there might be a good story about UFOs. And if you have been following the conventional AATIP story, this book pretty well upends everything you've previously heard on the subject.

The conventional Pentagon UFO story that everyone has heard from Luis Elizondo, Leslie Kean, Tom DeLonge and "To The Stars," etc., goes something like this:
  • The military was getting concerned about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena seen by its pilots, sailors, etc. 
  • They created the AATIP - the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program - to study UAPs. There was also a program called AAWSAP - Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program - which was the same thing, just a different name. Luis Elizondo headed up the program. Much of what Elizondo knows is classified and cannot be revealed.
  • In 2017, Elizondo resigns his job at the Pentagon, and joins Tom DeLonge's "To The Stars" organization. 
  • Starting in December, 2017, Leslie Kean, with co-authors Michael Blumenthal and Helene Cooper publish a series of articles in the New York Times about "Glowing Auras and Black Money", telling the story of Elizondo and AATIP. This sets off a long-lasting media frenzy, resulting in countless media interviews, and a successful two-season series The Unidentified on the "History" Channel, starring Elizondo, DeLonge, and the "To The Stars" team.
That is the Gospel of AATIP according to Elizondo (and many others). But as Lacatski, Kelleher, and Knapp show, practically none of that is true. And they give specifics about meetings, persons attending, communications, etc. supporting their account. The supposed history of AATIP we have been given has always been rather woozy and lacking details. In this book, however, you will find plenty of specifics. In this version, the history of the Pentagon UAP investigation goes something like this:
  • Pentagon scientist James Lacatski reads the 2005 book The Hunt for the Skinwalker by Kelleher and Knapp, which tells of numerous supposedly paranormal events occurring at Robert Bigelow's so-called "Skinwalker Ranch" in Utah. He is very impressed.
  • Lacatski suggests to Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and to Bigelow, that the government might fund an investigation into UAPs and allegedly paranormal phenomena "collocated" with UAPs, in the interest of national security.
  • Reid uses his political connections to create the AAWSAP program, with a budget of $22 million. Bigelow creates a new division of his company, BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies), which submits the only bid for the contract. 
  • AAWSAP investigates not only claims of UAPs, but alleged paranormal phenomena "collocated" with them. People claim to have 'brought home' poltergeist phenomena and such after visiting Skinwalker Ranch. Blue orbs are also said to menace those who get close to the phenomenon.
  • AAWSAP is funded for two fiscal years, 2009 and 2010. Reid, Lacatski, and others try to get additional funding, but are unsuccessful.
An illustration of AAWSAP investigations (from the podcast The Basement Office)

This is a very different picture than we have been shown before! There have long been hints of this side of AAWSAP, but because of there being so many conflicting accounts of the program(s), many people (including me) were inclined to dismiss them. Way back in May of 2018, KLAS in Las Vegas (where George Knapp works) published an anonymous "Statement from a Senior Manager of BAASS" (who very likely is Kelleher):
The investigations by BAASS provided new lines of evidence showing that the UFO phenomenon was a lot more than nuts and bolts machines that interacted with military aircraft. The phenomenon also involved a whole panoply of diverse activity that included bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, animal and human injuries and much more. The exclusive focus on nuts and bolts machines could be considered myopic and unproductive in solving the larger mystery of UFOs.
Which is exactly what it says in Skinwalkers at the Pentagon. Apparently Knapp has been dropping bread crumbs for us to follow for quite some time.
 
What does the book say about AATIP? "AAWSAP was not AATIP" (p. xxiii). AAWSAP had an allocated budget of about $22 million. AATIP had a budget of zero.  "AATIP involved a small group of people working on the UAP problem, with direct knowledge of their superiors, when their day jobs allowed them to." (p. xxiii-xxiv. Although I seem to recall that Elizondo once said that his superiors did not know what he was doing with AATIP.). AATIP was also described as a "small unofficial effort" (p.27). Take that, Elizondo! And what does the book have to say about Elizondo? Very little. He is mentioned just a few times, in passing. About the only insight it gives us  about Elizondo is,
As he enjoyed his steak tartare, Elizondo regaled those around him with some war stories, including one hair-raising exploit  about how his advanced intuition and remote viewing ["psychic"] capabilities had saved his life and the life of his men while on a covert combat mission in Afghanistan (p. 49).
Oh my, so apparently Elizondo brags in private about his psychic powers? Strange that he has not mentioned this in public interviews. He obviously would prefer for this not to become public, so its inclusion suggests  an agenda. 

The "Broad Scope" of AAWSAP Research

The authors emphasize that 
the decision to research paranormal phenomena that co-locate with UAPs and to examine psychic effects in UAP witnesses, in addition to scrutinizing  the core UAP technology itself, was not taken lightly because of the controversial nature of the UAP-paranormal debate....[witnesses] frequently reported poltergeist effects, humanoid-shaped black shadows, loud footsteps, hauntings, discarnate voices, small flying orbs,or some combination thereof, in their homes. These people also regularly reported precognitive, clairvoyant, telepathic, or unusual electromagnetic phenomena, as well as occasional increases in meaningful coincidences in their lives in the aftermath of a UAP encounter  (p. 161).
So with AAWSAP, we are getting not just reports of sightings, but a wide assortment of Things that go Bump in the Night. While some might see this as a bold new approach to UFOs, in fact it has been a part of the writings of UFO theorists like Jacques Vallee, John Keel, etc. for more than fifty years. There is nothing new here. (Vallee worked with AAWSAP on preparing its database.) 

Is this a dagger which I see before me?

We read of a mysterious incident occurring to Lacatski on his very first visit to the Skinwalker ranch:
Mike Oldfield's album Tubular Bells
Abruptly, Lacatski was transfixed by something behind where Bigelow and the [caretaker] couple were chatting: an unearthly technological device had suddenly and silently appeared out of nowhere in the adjacent kitchen. It looked to be a complex semi-opaque, yellowish, tubular structure. Lacatski said nothing but stared at the object, which was hovering silently. He looked away, looked back, and there it still was. It remained visible to Lacatski for no more than 30 seconds before vanishing on the spot (p. 39-40).
Three other people were present, but did not see this. Lacatski later said that the object looked like the illustration on this album cover.

 
 
"Bringing Something Home - The Infectious Agent Model" (p. 80).

I wrote in 2018 that Dr. Eric Davis, one of Bigelow's science contractors, claimed that a poltergeist followed him home from the Skinwalker Ranch. Now we read that "Most people who spent more than a day of Skinwalker Ranch brought "something" home with them from the property. The effect was almost universal, and universally unpleasant" (p. 80). What kind of incidents and sightings are we talking about?
  • "The freakish hybrid of small dinosaur and large beaver had silently and suddenly appeared" (p. 56)
  • "nightmarish 'dogmen' appearing in their backyard" (p. 81)
  • "two wine bottles were flung across the room, ceiling fans would turn on," etc. (p. 81).
  • "a large wolf-like creature standing outside his bedroom looking in at him" (p. 84)
  • "strange blue lights flying around his backyard" (p. 84).

Tied into the Skinwalker "mystery" somewhat peripherally is "the Geller effect", when in 1973 several scientists in California testing the Israeli spoonbender's alleged magic powers were supposedly plagued in their homes with UFOs, orbs, and "black shadowy forms" (p. 88). The authors correctly note that physicist Dr. Hal Puthoff was a "central player" both in these tests of Geller, and also "as an AAWSAP BAASS consultant and contractor, in the Axelrod and other post Skinwalker Ranch incidents" (p. 89).  Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff famously investigated Uri Geller back in the early 1970s, and were very impressed by him. Geller's supposed psychic powers were shown by James Randi and other magicians to be bogus

AAWSAP requested, but did not get, funding for a "remote viewing" program, but they conducted a "limited feasibility test." They asked the noted remote viewer Joseph McMoneagle to view a target allegedly unknown to him, which was actually Skinwalker Ranch. His descriptions of it "were excellent" (p. 121). The authors do not mention that back in 1984, McMoneagle was working with the CIA, and attempted a remote viewing of Mars in the year 1 million B.C. He described a "pyramid" that was 20,000 meters tall, and structures with large rooms, built by "an ancient people trying to survive."

We are informed in Chapter 8 that "Blue Orbs Are not Benign" (p. 70), Several accounts are given of humans allegedly being injured or sickened by encounters with nasty Blue Orbs that are said to fly about like angry wasps. When three dogs on the Skinwalker Ranch allegedly disappeared after being menaced by a blue orb, "The rancher" [Terry Sherman] came upon "three black greasy lumps," and "presumed that his three dogs had been incinerated" (p. 76).

There is much more about the Spookernatural in Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, but this review is already long enough, and you get the picture. There is no actual evidence of paranormal phenomena presented, only reports. In several cases, we are told that photos or videos of the incredible phenomenon were taken, but somehow the phenomenon erased itself from the device(s). When I hear such an account, I say to myself, "this story is completely fabricated." But the authors seem to believe such accounts.

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Related to the above is is this very interesting Podcast by Steven Greenstreet of the New York Post. I seldom watch or listen to any podcasts, since I can read an author's article in just a few minutes, while their podcast requires thirty minutes or more. But this one is worth watching. First he tells the AATIP story as it's usually told (and I'm thinking "that isn't right). Then he says that all of that is wrong, and presents the actual history, as documented in Skinwalkers at the Pentagon. Strictly speaking, the book does not discuss "werewolves," but to apply that term to reports of a bipedal, wolf-like creature seems pretty appropriate. Likewise, the book does not discuss "ghosts," but does discuss "discarnate voices."

NEW! UFOs, Werewolves & Ghosts | Shocking truth of Pentagon AAWSAP program
 

Greenstreet pays careful attention to inconsistencies and contradictions of the AATIP narrative, which few have noted. One very important point made by Greenstreet is where he quotes Leslie Kean, prime mover behind the highly influential Fake News stories about AATIP in the New York Times, explaining that she did not mention that ghosts, werewolves, etc. were being studied because "the angle I was taking in my reporting was to try to get credibility for the subject." So she admits that she was writing not as a journalist, but as an advocate. The New York Times has yet to correct or retract any of the articles she wrote, which deliberately misrepresent the Pentagon's UFO investigation program.

I love it! The New York Post is taking the New York Times to the woodshed over its fake news reporting, not long after the New York Times dismissed the New York Post's explosive Hunter Biden laptop story as Fake News (now sheepishly admitted to be genuine). I'm thinking that perhaps the New York Post is becoming the new 'Newspaper of Record!'




Thursday, June 23, 2022

Meet the Face of the Pentagon's "UAP Task Force" - Dr. Travis Taylor!

For some time now we have been hearing about the Pentagon's Task Force to investigate UAPs/UFOs. We didn't know who any of them were, but honestly we were not impressed by their investigative skills. They apparently were fooled by a Mylar balloon photographed by a pilot, described as an  “extremely clear” photograph of an unidentifiable triangular aircraft (but looking very much like a Batman party balloon). They did not understand that the 'triangle shaped objects' supposedly swarming US Navy ships were just out-of-focus images of an airplane, stars, and the planet Jupiter. And the Task Force apparently made little or no effort to seriously investigate the original Pentagon "big three" UAP videos, about which there is a great deal of analysis on Metabunk and elsewhere, suggesting they are prosaic objects. If the UAP Task Force believed that the object in the "go fast" video was actually "going fast," then they didn't understand simple geometry.

But on June 21, the UFO reporter with the mostest, George Knapp of KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, revealed one of the members of that task force to be none other than Dr. Travis Taylor: "Physicist reveals he’s a UFO hunter for the Pentagon".

Television viewers know astrophysicist Dr. Travis Taylor as an intrepid investigator of UFOs and the paranormal at Skinwalker Ranch and on other History Channel programs. Only a handful of people in the world knew that Taylor was leading a double life, secretly working as the chief scientist for the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force. 
“I would say other than the people who already knew on the task force, you’re the first person to figure it out, George,” Taylor said.

As a scientific prodigy, Taylor earned advanced degrees at a young age and has spent his entire adult life working on classified projects, first for the U.S. Army, then for defense contractors. He wrote a book about how the U.S. government should prepare for alien contact which caught the attention of Jay Stratton, a high-ranking intelligence official who has been involved with each of the Pentagon’s Secretive UFO investigations including AAWSAP, the largest UFO program of all, managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency, based at Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas, funded with $22 million secured by late U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.  Stratton worked with AAWSAP, then its successor program AATIP. Later, he took charge of a third effort, the UAP Task Force, long before Congress formally created that team.   

Dr. Travis Taylor uses his knowledge of astronomy to help seekers of buried treasure (so far unsuccessfully).

So now we know the names of two members of the UAP Task Force - Jay Stratton and Travis Taylor. Blogger Jason Colavito wasted no time in responding:

Travis Taylor Admits to Being a Paid Government UFO Researcher... While serving in this capacity, Taylor appeared on CBS Sunday Morning in 2021 to analyze UFO videos and comment on the imminent UFO report without disclosing to CBS or to the audience that he was a paid government UFO researcher working on that very report. He has appeared since then on both Ancient Aliens and The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch to analyze and research UFOs without disclosing to the audience that he served as a paid government analyst of the same material he discussed on the History channel as an “independent” analyst. Taylor also works for a defense contractor analyzing UFOs for the federal government. Taylor and his former UAPTF boss both now work for the same contractor.

The shocking lack of ethics astonishes even me, as does the incestuous relationship between government UFO “research” and cable TV UFO media. This is the second time a star of a History channel show “investigating” UFOs admitted to also serving as a paid government UFO researcher. Lue Elizondo’s lawyer, Danny Sheehan, recently admitted that Elizondo has been the lead UFO analyst for Space Command, during a period when he presented himself in the media—including on 60 Minutes as well as his History channel show Unidentified—as an independent ex-government analyst...

We should all be disgusted that the Pentagon and Congress continue to patronize the same crew of lying spooks and kooks orbiting Skinwalker Ranch—people who have turned up no evidence of aliens or space ghosts after decades of taxpayer-subsidized research, people who frequent shows claiming racist space aliens had sex with prehistoric women, people who grift across UFO conferences and media, people who have no compunction about lying to the public while collecting media and government checks. It’s corrupt, and bright red line that should never be crossed.

Dr. Taylor is a big star on the "History" channel (I use parentheses because that channel no longer presents shows about actual history, but instead promotes far-out claims.) He appeared on  The Curse Of Oak Island (Episode "Rock Solid," Season 6) to suggest that a constellation map superimposed over Oak Island yields the location of buried treasure of the Knights Templar. (Those avid treasure hunters have now been searching Oak Island for eight seasons, but have yet to find the treasure.)

Dr. Taylor is a regular guest on The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, where (among other feats) he devised a "startling experiment" that "proves alien civilization." (How it proves that is not explained.)


He has even appeared on Ancient Aliens, where he teamed up with Giorgio Tsoukalos to test the flight characteristics of a model aircraft made from descriptions of sky vehicles called "Vimanas" in ancient Hindu texts. They found that it's a good aerodynamic design!


Travis Taylor and Giorgio Tsoukalos check out a supposed aircraft design from ancient aliens

Dr Taylor told George Knapp,

One of the primary jobs of the task force was to write a report to Congress summarizing the known evidence about UFOs.  The team had already created a classified briefing consisting of the most intriguing military encounters, starting with the 2004 Tic Tac incident. The task force whittled down a huge database into 144 of the very best cases. Dr. Taylor helped write the final report.

“We picked sources that were, we knew had a chain of custody of the data,” Taylor said. “And out of those 144 to 143 of them, we still couldn’t figure out what they were, where they came from and what their intent was.”

I'm starting to see why the Task Force was so unsuccessful in identifying its UAPs!