Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Project Blue Book" Flatters the Flatwoods Monster - Episode Two


Could the second episode of the monumentally misleading Project Blue Book on the "History" Channel possibly be as bad as the first? As has been said before, "Second Verse, Same as the First!"

Dr. Hynek and Mr. Malarkey find radiation while investigating the Flatwoods Monster.

Last week I presented a partial list of absurdities in the first episode. Here is this week's list:
  • Dr. Hynek did not travel to West Virginia to investigate this incident. In fact, Project Blue Book did not perform its own investigation of the Flatwoods case, but only collected a few press clippings.
  • Witnesses' eyes were not "burned," and there were no physical symptoms in anyone.
  • Debris from an alleged 'spacecraft' were not found in the woods. Nothing was found, and no object was "removed.".
  • The ground was not radioactive. 
  • The whole town did not show up and threaten to lynch the principal UFO witness, or to at least to tar-and-feather her.
  • There was no witness in a psychiatric hospital, and nobody killed themselves over this.
  • The woman whose role some have termed a 'lesbian angle' with Mimi Hynek turns out to be a Russian spy, spying on Blue Book.
  • When the boy is supposedly looking at Mars in a small telescope, they set up the telescope backwards. It is pointing at the ground, not the sky, but nobody seems to notice this.
Joe Nickell's illustration of what the witnesses
reported (left), and what they  actually saw (right).

If you want a credible account of the "Flatwoods Monster" incident, it isn't hard to find. Joe Nickell, CSI(COP)'s sole full-time researcher for lo these many years, wrote up the results of his investigation in the Skeptical Inquirer, December, 2000. The reported UFO was obviously a meteor, noting that "the fireball had been seen on a relatively horizontal trajectory in various states." So, like the Kecksburg "UFO crash" in 1965, the Flatwoods "UFO" was not just a local sighting, but actually a distant object high above the earth, seen across a very wide area. As for the "monster," Nickell agrees that it was probably a large owl sitting on a tree branch, and he sketched an illustration suggesting what they actually saw.

UFO promoters Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal,  wrote the much-cited New York Times article on December 16, 2017 that first publicly revealed the recent defense department UFO investigations launched by then-Senator Harry Reid, "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money.' They have a new UFO article in that august publication. It is about this program, Project Blue Book. They write,
The History series predictably sensationalizes and overdramatizes case investigations and the historical figures involved, adding many story elements that simply never happened. It’s already hard enough for those trying to understand the truth about government involvement with U.F.O.s without mixing fact and fiction. Nonetheless, melodrama aside, the real story is there.
What is interesting is the commentary by Mark O'Connell, author of The Close Encounters Man, a biography of Hynek. He has suggested that Hynek must be spinning in his grave because of the distortions and inventions this series. O'Connell writes on his Blog High Strangeness UFOs that he got a "surprise email" from Leslie Kean just before her latest article appeared in the New York Times, asking if he could fact check a couple of questions concerning Project Blue Book for her. He shares them with us, and I was astonished to find the following among them:
Q: Did Hynek ever crash in a plane while recreating a UFO dogfight that had been reported by a pilot?
A: That's a big NO!
Q: Did Hynek ever see what looked like an alien body floating in a tank in a secret facility, and take photos of it?
A: That's an even bigger NO!

Seriously, I never expected Leslie Kean to be as credulous and foolish as this, and so ignorant of UFO history. She seriously thought that these things might be true? It looks like I have overestimated her. (My review of her popular UFO book is here.) O'Connell says, "[Kean] has as big a problem with this show as I do, and she's going to say so in the New York Times! Halleluja!!" (emphasis in original). Unfortunately, the mild statement I quoted above seems to be as far as Kean's "big problem"with the show extends. Indeed, Kean says that "‘Project Blue Book’ Is Based on a True U.F.O. Story.". Well, loosely-based. Very loosely. She seems happy to accept any crazy thing that will promote public belief in UFOs.






Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The "History" Channel Mangles Project Blue Book - Episode 1


So on January 8 we finally saw the much-awaited first episode of Project Blue Book on the Channel that once showed History. It was expected to be sensationalized, and poorly-acted. Those things it was.  Where it exceeded expectations, however, was in the degree that it distorted the facts of what was, in fact, a historical incident, freely mixing sensational but fictional elements with a classic UFO incident. Public discussions of this case will now be hopelessly polluted by the made-up elements that people will now firmly believe to be part of the actual story.


The first episode is titled "The Fuller Dogfight," an obvious reference to the "classic" UFO case of the Gorman "dogfight" of 1948. (In fact, statements made at the end of the program confirm this.) This refers to a famous case in the Blue Book files occurring near Fargo, ND in which an experienced WWII pilot reported what seemed like a "dogfight" with a lighted object. Serious UFOlogists generally accept that the pilot George Gorman, while an experienced combat pilot, became disoriented while attempting to approach a lighted object at night, and reported it as performing impossible feats. The object was apparently a lighted weather balloon that had been recently launched in that area. Some will argue that it is not plausible for an experienced pilot to become so disoriented, and imagine a slowly-moving object making incredible maneuvres. They forget that J. Allen Hynek himself wrote,  "Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses" ( The Hynek UFO Report, 1977, p. 271).

This ought to bring into mind another "classic" UFO case, this one tragic - the death of the young pilot Frederick Valentich in Australia in 1978. His attention fixed on some unidentified object - very likely Venus, that he believed to be orbiting his position - Valentich apparently became disoriented, fell into a 'graveyard spiral,' and crashed into the ocean. This chilling video from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 178 Seconds to Live, warns about the dangers of pilots becoming disoriented when flying at night or in times of poor visibility. It is relevant to investigations of both the Gorman and the Valentich cases (and probably to the crash killing JFK Jr. as well).

Here is an off-the-top-of-my-head list of falsehoods shown or implied in "The Fuller Dogfight":
  • Gorman shot at the object. False.
  • Gorman was sent to the infirmary for an extended period of time with psychological problems. False.
  • Gorman collided with the object, which damaged his plane. False.
  • The UFO took control of Gorman's plane. False.
  • Gorman somehow anomalously hears a radio station during the incident, and became obsessed with the song. False.
  • Hynek traveled to Fargo to investigate this case on-site. False. Indeed, Mark O'Connel, author of the first biography of J. Allen Hynek, noted on Facebook that in the episode "Hynek drove from Fargo, ND to Columbus, OH seemingly in a matter of minutes. It's a 15 hour drive today, but back then there were no interstates."
  • Hynek and his Air Force "handler," a pilot, went up in a plane to try to duplicate the encounter. The plane crashed, but both survived. This is beyond ridiculous.
  • A "Man in Black" was watching the investigation, uselessly, from a distance. The stories about the Men In Black originated with  Albert K. Bender in 1953.
And even as we read this, more absurdities and anachronisms in the program are being spotted, and posted on the Internet. In a few days the list will no doubt be much longer. Even "Disclosure" champion Stephen Bassett is concerned about this, gently but firmly noting that
it is important to publicly point out the simple fact there is quite a gap between the theatrical presentation of Hynek's life and the real life. It would be helpful if a fact vs. fiction page of quality was developed and updated as the series moves forward. Researchers and others might prepare for how they will respond to questions from the more confused viewers who watch and then Google.
And if a UFO program is bad enough to worry Stephen Bassett, it has got to be really bad! If the story were entirely fiction, there would be no problem. The problem occurs, however, because "Project Blue Book" references real people, real organizations, real incidents, but in a grossly distorted and misleading way. 

The UFO panel at the 1984 CSICOP Conference, Stanford, CA. From left: J. Allen Hynek, yours truly,
astronomer Andrew Fraknoi, Philip J. Klass, physicist Roger Culver. Photo by Gary Posner.
Let me also say, as someone who has spent a lot of time listening to Hynek speak in person, that Aidan Gillen is not convincing as J. Allen Hynek. He does not look like Hynek, he does not sound like Hynek, he does not act like Hynek. And he doesn't even have Hynek's trademark goatee. I think Gillen ought to listen to some of the many YouTube videos showing Hynek's TV appearances, to practice and make his act more convincing.





Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Look, Ma! I'm on Ancient Aliens!



Look, I am part of Ancient Aliens history! My sharp-eyed, semi-anonymous friend Mrherr Zaar spotted this on-screen. It's a piece I wrote for NICAP's UFO Investigator (October, 1974) that is on-screen long enough to catch the word "charlatanism" to prove that contemporary researchers weren't taking Von Daniken seriously. It is part of the series celebrating the anniversary of Chariots of the Gods that has been airing in the past few days (S13 E14).


This was briefly seen on Ancient Aliens, Series 13 Episode 14.

"In the late sixties and early seventies, it was a time when everyone just listened to the experts", laments David Childress early on in the episode (hat tip to another semi-anonymous friend, Claude Falkstrom). I'm flattered to be called an "expert" on Ancient Aliens, but I just wish that NICAP had spelled my name correctly!! I didn't watch this episode, or any other in recent years - ye gods, thirteen seasons!!! Looking at the current program offerings on the "History" Channel, their prime-time lineup is pretty much all UFOs and Ancient Aliens, all the time. It's really the Pseudo-History Channel now.

During the 1950s and 60s, NICAP was the most important UFO group in the U.S. By the early 70s, after the Condon Report and after the closure of Project Blue Book, NICAP had faded into insignificance, all of its key personnel having gone elsewhere. It disbanded soon afterward. That made APRO the major UFO group in the 1970s. With the death of APRO's founders in the 1980s, Coral and Jim Lorenzen, APRO disbanded, making MUFON the major UFO group, as it is today.

 I have scanned the article, and put it on-line.  This was my very first published article. 

Speaking of Project Blue Book, a new series of that name premieres on the "History" channel tonight! And J. Allen Hynek is the main character. The show is obviously a mixture of factual material with fiction, probably serving to conflate the two forever in the mind of the public.

David Childress of Ancient Aliens at his literature table at the 2016 UFO Congress, 
taking the name of Science in vain. Animated and energetic, he wows the assembled crowd. 
 
 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Easily-Identified UFOs Grab Media Attention


What with all of the publicity concerning To The Stars and government UFO programs, UFOs have once again become a hot topic to the public, and to the major media. So sometimes UFO reports grab major publicity, even cases in which just a little investigation leads to a clear solution.


On November 12, the major Italian newspaper Il Messagiero ran a story about "mysterious lights in the California sky" on October 27, and linked to the above video. They said that it shows
a particularly bright plane that falls into a dive. Then that same light suddenly stopped. And a few seconds later, a short distance later, another one came up. From that moment on, the two lights moved much more slowly. A movement that led conspiracy experts to think of two unidentified flying objects. 
Our friend Scott Brando of "UFO of Interest" was quick to point out the similarity to other videos of parachutists carrying smoke or lights. Scott has been doing an excellent job exposing hoaxes and misidentifications posted on social media. There are a lot of them, so it's been keeping him pretty busy.

I first saw the video (taken just a few miles from where I live) when a local UFOlogist sent the link to his email list.  A simple search for parachutists in San Diego on October 27 led to the following:

Before every demonstration we first do a "streamer pass" to help us gauge wind speed and direction. Sometimes we'll activate a smoke canister attached to one of our foot brackets and perform what's known as an "early burn." When you see the “early burn” smoke it means we're ready to go. The smoke canisters attached to our feet make it easier for you to see us. Sometimes we're more than two miles up!

The United States Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs” is the official parachute demonstration team of the United States Navy. Part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command. The Leap Frogs Navy Parachute Team is made up of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and support personnel. The team is sanctioned by the Department of Defense and recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration.
So that one is nailed down pretty tightly: the "UFOs" were Navy parachutists.



Pilots see a UFO over Ireland (https://youtu.be/kulU88RyhCI)
The second case garnered considerably more publicity, and was covered as a major news story by media throughout the world. The Irish Examiner reported on November 12 , "Close encounter with UFO off Irish coast leaves pilots ‘wondering’ ":
The Irish Aviation Authority has begun an investigation into the sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) by a number of aircraft off the south-west coast of Ireland last Friday. At approximately 6.47am on November 9, the pilot of a British Airways flight, call sign Speedbird94, contacted Shannon Air Traffic Control (ATC) to ask if there were military exercises taking place in the airspace through which her Boeing 787 was passing. There were no military exercises underway.

Shannon ATC replied: “There is nothing showing on either primary or secondary [radar].” The pilot responded: “OK. It was moving so fast.” The controller then asked: “Alongside you?”

The BA pilot, flying from Montreal to Heathrow, describes how the UFO came up along the left-hand side of the aircraft, “then rapidly veered to the north”. She said it was “a very bright light” that “disappeared at very high speed”.

She said they were “wondering” what it could be, that it did not seem to be on a collision course. ... The Irish Examiner contacted the Irish Aviation Authority to ask if it was investigating the UFO.

In a statement, the authority said: “Following reports from a small number of aircraft on Friday, November 9, of unusual air activity, the IAA has filed a report. “This report will be investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”

The incident was reported in many different media. "ALERT Irish Aviation Authority is investigating after #BA94 and #VS76 pilots reported UFO off Irish coast." The reports were widely shared on social media. 

A video from a dashboard camera was published, revealing a very brief, very bright object. The International Meteor Organization received five reports of  "a fireball seen over Northern Ireland and Scotland on Friday, November 9th 2018 around 06:44 UT." Observers reported that it was extremely bright - brighter than the full moon, although not as bright as the sun. The local time here is the same as UT, so this occurred about 6:45 AM - otherwise it probably would have been even more widely reported.

Graphic showing the location of the bolide, and of the observers.


Incidents such as these, widely reported, serve to keep UFOs in the public eye. And as always, more people see the article proclaiming the incident to be "unexplained" than see the eventual solution.




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"To The Stars" Shares Its Misinformation with Italian Colleagues


On October 22, Tom DeLonge, founder of To The Stars Academy (TTSA, which has been the absolute center of UFO attention for the past year), posted the following enigmatic message to his Facebook page:
Tom DeLonge  October 22 at 7:17 AM ·

@tothestarsacademy has been invited into private meetings with a particular European Government on UFOs. I am on my way this morning to discuss some very interesting cooperation opportunities with a few International partners. :) #TECHNOLOGY #DATA #DISCLOSURE
Accompanying it was a photo of an airliner taken through the window of an airport terminal. Obviously, DeLonge was flying to Europe, and he wanted it to seem all mysterious. But the "mystery" was solved on the following day when he posted, "#ROME Any Italian fans here today? I’ll be walking around enjoying the amazing history."
Tom DeLonge does Rome.

It turns out that DeLonge's comment "@tothestarsacademy has been invited into private meetings with a particular European Government on UFOs" was quite disingenuous. In fact, TTSA's presentation was sponsored by the Italian UFO group CUN, which has been in existence since 1967. It is a private UFO group much like MUFON, and has no official government connections.

Before TTSA's presentation on October 27, a panel of Italian UFOlogists spoke, talking mostly about UFO history in fairly conventional terms. We hear about Project Blue Book, the UN UFO session, Carl Jung, J. Allen Hynek, Edward Ruppelt, etc. The whole session, almost four hours long, was recorded and posted to YouTube, unedited. (Approximately the first 30 minutes of the video are empty, waiting for the program to start.)
One of the slides of the Italian UFOlogists, offered with the hope of  'not offending anyone'(!). It's about SETI.
The guy standing says "Our latest technological discoveries notwithstanding, we have not yet received any
message. It's useless, there doesn't exist any civilization except us on earth."
Elizondo spoke first, to explain "why we are here." Unfortunately, "technical difficulties" prevented him from showing his slides, so he handed the microphone to DeLonge, to tell the story behind TTSA. DeLonge said,
"To The Stars has created a private company with a perpetual funding mechanism. We work with government partners to achieve the revolutionary change in mankind's destiny...[TTSA has] the first set of major motion pictures and television series in development... [also] a multi-year program plan to launch satellites into space with lasers.. and a robust program plan to achieve the engineering of the space-time metric, and most people people would call that 'anti-gravity'."
DeLonge did not explain exactly how, or when, these engineering miracles would be accomplished.

Elizondo finally got his slides to work, and continued with his version of UFO history. A full transcript of TTSA's comments has been prepared by UFO Joe (thanks, Joe!).

On October 27, UFO researcher Curt Collins posted to the Facebook page for his Blog Blue Blurry Lines that
       Elizondo claimed that this photo was "real."
(from Ray Palmer's magazine).
The Italian UFO group CUN hosted a presentation in Rome by Tom DeLonge on the TTSA, and Luis Elizondo on AATIP. Elizondo discussed the famous 1952 Washington, DC saucer event saying:
.
"In the early 1950s, the United States had another very significant event over our nation’s Capitol. Once again, these objects were identified both with the naked eye and again on radar, and unlike Roswell, many people had cameras and were able to take photographs. And what you see here are real photographs, along with the story - the headline story that came out."


Elizondo's picture is from the YouTube preview image for "UFO Sightings over Washington D.C. and The White House in 1952" by FindingUFO. It's a frame from a CGI-animated version of a picture of lens flares, and an image from an EC comic book found in the files Project Blue Book.

"Photo Fakery: Washington, DC Flying Saucers 1952," goes into detail on the history of this bogus UFO photo.
Other problems with Elizondo's presentation were quickly noted:
  • Elizondo presented a slide promoting the supposed UFO from STS-48, even suggesting that the Space Shuttle crew witnessed it. James Oberg has thoroughly debunked this claim, back in 1992
  • He also cited the supposed UFO from STS-80, which Oberg has also shown to be baseless
  • Elizondo showed a photo of a supposed "foo fighter" allegedly taken during World War II, which he said "was actually taken by a pilot in World War II.". It  is almost certainly a hoax, its provenance is unknown. No authentic photo of a supposed "foo fighter" is known to exist.
  • In Elizondo's overview of UFO history, he said, "later, in the 1940s, we had the Roswell incident. I’m not going to speculate in this room what crashed at Roswell. But those of you who are familiar with the world of intelligence, know that a military response is usually symmetrical to the incident. A crashed weather balloon does not usually merit the response of a colonel, several flat bed, military vehicles and an armed force." These claims are completely unsupported. There is no proof for the claim that "a colonel" was involved, or any military vehicles or guards.
  • In response to a question about alleged "force fields" surrounding supposed UFOs, Elizondo replied: "We can. In some cases if we know what to look for, we can actually see a distortion around these craft, surrounded it. We believe it’s a result of the propulsion that’s being used. In essence, an event horizon is created. Imagine a bubble being created around the vehicle and if you are bending space time in a localized area, one can expect electromagnetic energy to behave differently inside that event horizon than outside." This is preposterous. The so-called "glowing aura" (so named in the headline of the original New York Times story about TTSA) seen in the TicTac and Gimble UFO videos is simply a processing effect of the infrared imaging circuit. This was pointed out long ago, and it is amateurish to claim otherwise.
Elizondo's photo of supposed "foo fighters," almost certainly a hoax.
All along one frustration has been that TTSA has released little, if any, information about the cases they are promoting. But with this unedited two-hour-plus presentation by DeLonge and Luis Elizondo, we start to understand what is happening. Both DeLonge and Elizondo are Babes in the Woods when it comes to UFO claims. (We knew about DeLonge's UFO foolishness for quite some time, but until now we knew relatively little about Elizondo.) Neither of them has any real understanding of the difference between credible and non-credible sources of information concerning UFOs. Neither of them seems to have any "filter" for baseless UFO claims, and neither seems to understand the prevalence of misinformation in UFOology. (Indeed, Elizondo has previously boasted that he had purposely stayed away from reading UFO books, so as not to prejudice himself about it, meaning he knows practically nothing on the subject.)  They seem to believe every UFO claim they hear. The longtime Canadian UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski posted to the Facebook group UFO Updates, "I am more concerned every day that anyone affiliated with the TTSA has limited knowledge about the subject, beyond pop culture and sensational tabloid material." Indeed.

On October 28, DeLonge posted to Facebook,
Thank you to the Italian Government for the security you provided to me and my team all week, and thank you for having your AIR FORCE Generals, UNITED NATIONS Officials, INTELLIGENCE Operatives and VATICAN representatives attend the @tothestarsacademy briefing on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and the ADVANCED AERIAL THREAT IDENTIFICATION THREAT PROGRAM here in Rome, Italy. It was my pleasure to represent the United States and start the international conversation here, in such a wonderful country. 
Here DeLonge sounds like a cross between Stephen Greer (claiming to need protection while presenting dramatic UFO revelations) and George Adamski (claiming to meet with VATICAN representatives). Let's hope that, assuming these distinguished persons actually were present, they realize that they've been fed a line of pure, old-fashioned amateurish UFO misinformation. They might as well be listening to Stanton Friedman. In fact, as much as it pains me to say this, I think that Friedman is more credible than DeLonge, however slightly. Friedman wouldn't fall for the Capitol Dome UFO photo, or the unsourced Foo Fighters one.




Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Financial Firestorm over "To The Stars"

As noted in the previous posting, the deal for "investors" to purchase shares in To The Stars Academy expired on September 28. It was available for exactly twelve months, and that time is now up. We do not know how much money was actually raised in that way, but we know that it was far less than the maximum subscription of $50 million. For a while, TTSA published the total of "investments" on its website. But when "investments" noticeably slowed at about $2 million, they removed this information. Steve Basset of the Paradigm Research Group recently posted on Facebook that TTSA raised about $2.5 million through selling shares, which is probably correct.

Rocker Tom DeLonge, founder of To The Stars.
But what set off the current wave of feces-throwing was when the Internet discovered To The Stars' required financial filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dated June 30, 2018. What got everyone's attention was the passage at the bottom of page 13:
NOTE 2 – GOING CONCERN

The accompanying financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, which contemplates the realization of assets and the satisfaction of liabilities in the normal course of business. The Company has incurred losses from operations and has an accumulated deficit at June 30, 2018 of $37,432,000. These factors raise doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.
What this appears to say is: To The Stars has assets of less than $3 million, vs. a debt of over $37 million. Therefore, it is toast. However, others maintained that this interpretation is not correct. A "deficit" is not the same as a "debt," and start-up companies reportedly often show similar "deficits" that represent only highly over-valued insider shares, or some other such financial legerdemain. This begs the question: if the "accumulated deficit" of $37 million does not really mean anything, then why does the SEC filing say that it "raise[s] doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern"?

This was discussed widely on UFO-related groups on Facebook and elsewhere, starting about September 30. As typically happens, "real journalists" picked up the story much later. On October 15, Eric Berger wrote an article for Ars Technica titled "All the dumb things? UFO project has $37 million deficit":
Put another way, after a year of fundraising, Tom DeLonge's alien business has raised just over $1 million in outside funding. The company has racked up a $37.4 million deficit, however, largely from a stock incentive plan for its employees. The financial filing states that To the Stars intends to remain in business over the next 12 months by selling additional stock. Their website says they accept credit cards, if you're so inclined to help keep the effort afloat. But bear in mind that any financial returns may be beyond the reach of even The Phenomenon.
Actually, To The Stars cannot sell any more stock, and there is no longer any solicitation of funds on their website. Apparently, this article was finally was noticed by Tom De Longe. That same day, DeLonge posted the following to his Facebook page:
Wow!
BLATENT LIE — APPARENTLY, THIS WRITER CAN’T READ? BTW- TTSA never even raised $37m, so how in the hell did we spend it? Lord. I ask all of you that believe in the @tothestarsacademy mission to right now go write a complaint on their website for trying to hurt our admirable effort through negative attacks using—-> lies. Dear Ars Technica— I am writing you regarding the article posted to Ars Technica this morning titled ‘All the dumb things? Blink 182 front man’s UFO project $37 million in debt’ by Eric Berger. Link: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/all-the-dumb-things-blink-182-front-mans-ufo-project-37-million-in-debt/

We were surprised Ars Technica would allow Mr. Berger to post such an article without asking either Mr. DeLonge or To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science for comment. This article is highly misleading and grossly mischaracterizes statements in an SEC filing. Had Mr. Berger bothered to reach out to us for comment this could have been prevented.

Mr. Berger apparently did not read the filing in its entirety, and clearly did not understand the excerpt of the SEC filing he quotes. The approximate $37 million stockholders’ deficit is not debt as he characterized it but is attributable to stock-based compensation expense. It is not related to the operational results of the company. The Consolidated Balance Sheets of To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science in the SEC filing quoted by your author clearly shows the approximately $37 million deficit is attributed to Stockholders’ Equity (Deficit). The filing goes on to explain the mechanism for calculating stock-based compensation and details the various grants of stock options by the company. Mr. Berger’s characterizations of this as debt implies that it stems from traditional borrowings.

Had Mr. Berger bothered to email or call us we could have directed him to these portions of the SEC filing and walked him through it. For Mr. Berger to make the conclusions he did on incomplete research and his own interpretations without contacting Mr. DeLonge or the company is inexcusable.

We request that you print this letter in full within the article as our
The original was truncated in this way. Also, apparently DeLonge does not use a spell checker. This posting has since been deleted from DeLonge's Facebook page. As I noted earlier, DeLonge is a serial Deleter - he has a history of making stupid posts on social media, then deleting them.

What is especially galling about DeLonge's reply is his self-righteous statement that "Had Mr. Berger bothered to email or call us we could have directed him to these portions of the SEC filing and walked him through it." This is beyond ludicrous, since TTSA has famously ignored journalists' questions and requests for information. Well-known UFO researchers like Billy Cox, John Greenewald, Alejandro Rojas, and many others have commented on TTSA's unwillingness to answer questions. Researcher M.J. Banias wrote, "I have inquired about six times for comment on various articles to TTSA. Never heard back, ever."
Speculation soon began about why DeLonge deleted this posting. Chris Cogswell of The Mad Scientist Podcast posted to Facebook that
From what I have understood his comments on the SEC filing could be construed as an attempt to commit fraud or harm investors. Similar to Elon Musk's tweets... As far as I understand it by suggesting that the SEC filing is in some way incorrect or misleading (e.g. they are doing better than they claim on the required form) they open themselves up considerably. Add to that the now rampant speculation that TTSA is actually doing significantly better than the SEC filing suggests and you have all the makings of a fraud case by unnaturally inflating the public confidence in an investment.

There is now an article on TTSA's website titled "An explanation for the recent mischaracterization of TTS Academy's Stockholders’ equity/deficit." It says many of the same things that DeLonge said above, but it has obviously passed through a lawyer's review:

We've noticed some reports that we are “in debt” in some astronomical amount. The reports are highly misleading and grossly mischaracterized statements in an SEC filing.  It looks like people are misunderstanding the difference between debt and stockholders’ equity. “Debt” is what we owe.  The number that is getting the attention is actually the “Stockholders’ equity/deficit” number. That looks like a big number but we don’t “owe” it to anyone and it's not related to the operational results of the company. It just reflects the fact that we’ve been paying our people, like many start-ups, in stock as opposed to paying them in dollars.
An article just published in The Daily Grail by Red Pill Junkie is titled "Man Overboard: One Year After Its Launch, To the Stars Academy’s Financial Situation Remains Stuck on the Ground." It takes note of the difference between "deficit" and "debt," but is nonetheless pessimistic about the company's prospects:
That does not mean the company is not in financial hot water, mind you. They still have amassed quite a few i.o.u’s from DeLonge’s other companies –mainly Our Two Dogs, although they also need to pay Angels and Airwaves royalties for the use of Tom’s image (!)– and, like they themselves admit in the filing, the only way they can stay afloat is by “raising additional capital through debt and/or equity transactions.”
And they cannot do any more equity transactions. We shall see how this plays out.



Friday, September 28, 2018

It's Your Last Chance!!


As a Public Service, we bring you the following message: Today is the LAST DAY to invest in To The Stars, and be in on the ground floor of all that far-out physics and UFO artifacts. You can invest on-line until midnight tonight (Pacific Time).





Blogger Jason Colavito has explained why this is probably not a good investment. But hey, it's your money, so do with it what you will.




Meanwhile, To The Star's A.D.A.M. project, whose task it is to investigate alleged physical samples from UFOs, claims to be looking into as many as seven possible extraterrestrial samples. It's an exciting claim, but the UFO field has heard many such claims before.

But the most important question is: what will To The Stars do for money now that they can no longer cajole supposed "investors"?