Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Skeptic does the MUFON Symposium - Part 5 of 5

The Sunday afternoon session started off with Major George A. Filer (USAF Retired), MUFON's Eastern Regional Director, who says he worked as an Intelligence officer. His talk was titled "Mars the Living Planet." Filer is a well-known figure in UFOlogy owing mostly to his weekly Filer's Files, a "kitchen sink" compendium of UFO claims, where no claim is too absurd to receive a respectful hearing. Sometimes when I'm short of material for Psychic Vibrations (that doesn't happen too often), I know I can go to Filer's Files to find something entertaining to write about.

Filer says that when he was stationed with the Air Force in England, UFOs were seen on many of their flights. Sometimes fighter jets were sent up to look at them. However, the fighter jets often didn't return from this mission, so they sent up the tanker aircraft (in which he flew) instead. Because the tankers were unarmed, the UFOs didn't attack them.

Mars, according to Filer, used to be teeming with life until it was mostly wiped out in a nuclear holocaust some 180 million years ago. He showed NASA photos of Mars that purport to contain tubes (possibly water pipes, or trains) that extend for miles, as well as underground cities. There are numerous faces on Mars, and some of them look similar to Egyptian Pharaohs. But some life still exists among the ruins. The green colors on Mars represent growths of moss and algae.

Kathleen Marden, Stanton Friedman, and yours truly

I spent some time chatting with the Flying Saucer Physicist, Stanton Friedman, who I hadn't seen in about fifteen years. Klass and I had a friendly rivalry with Friedman. He's a decent guy when you get to know him. Still he's way off base about those UFOs.

 At Friedman's table, before his talk, I asked him about the Marjorie Fish interpretation of the Betty Hill "UFO star map." ( I doubted, correctly it turns out, that I'd have the opportunity to try to nail him during his Q&A.) A detailed response to Friedman's standard lecture is in my Psychic Vibrations of September / October, 2009. Quoting from that piece:
 For at least thirty-five years, Friedman has been claiming that researcher Marjorie Fish’s supposed identification of the dots Betty Hill drew as being potentially habitable nearby stars proves the extraterrestrial nature of the Betty and Barney Hill “UFO abduction.” He has made the Fish Map one of the central points of his lectures and writings. The similarity between the Hill drawing and the Fish Map was actually never very good, but folks who were so inclined could point to a number of points of correspondence between the two. (For a detailed discussion, see my paper “There Were No Extraterrestrials”in Encounters at Indian Head).
 But today the Fish Map is no longer viable. In her research beginning in 1966, Fish made the wise choice to use the Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars, which was then the most accurate available. But that was over forty years ago, and science never stands still. Astronomical researcher Brett Holman recently checked out what the Fish Map would look like if it were built using the most accurate astronomical data available today. His answer is in his article in the British publication  Fortean Times (242, November 2008): “Goodbye, Zeta Reticuli” (the supposed home solar system of the UFOnauts). Holman writes, “In the early 1990s the Hipparcos satellite measured the positions of nearly 120,000 stars ten times more accurately
than ever before—including all of those that appear in the Fish interpretation." ... Fish excluded all variable stars and close binaries to include only supposedly habitable solar systems—but the new data reveals two of her stars as suspected variables and two more as close binaries. So there go four of her fifteen stars. And two more are much farther away than earlier believed, removing them comletely from the volume of space in question. Six stars of that supposedly
exact-matching pattern are definitely gone, excluded by the very criteria that once included them using the forty-year-old data. Goodbye, Zeta Reticuli.
 Friedman agreed 100% that the Hipparchos data is an order of magnitude more accurate. But of course Stanton wanted to have his cake, and eat it too. He agreed that the Fish map has problems, but he still claimed we have identified "the base": Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli, even though the data that identification was based on is now known to be inaccurate. This is like Linda Moulton Howe Googling a misinterpreted character string, and finding the correct UFO Drone Conspiracy anyway.

Friedman's talk was titled "Are We Ready for Contact?". Much of it was the same tired old Friedman lecture of the past forty years. The "Cosmic Watergate" of a UFO coverup, and some jabs at Carl Sagan and Philip J. Klass. The supposed treasure-trove of authentic UFO cases in the 1954 Bluebook Special report 14, which he claims skeptics ignore. True, we skeptics do mostly ignore it, because it contains little of interest: see Tim Printy's comments at . There is other scattered commentary as well. J. Allen Hynek is supposedly ignored by the debunkers. I guess he's never read any of my writings, or those of Phil Klass.

Freidman claims that ET societies are peaceful, and regard Earthlings as a menace because of our warlike ways. "If you were an alien you'd probably worry about the people on that planet (Earth)". In his talk he showed the Fish Map briefly, but obviously it's been downgraded from the Prime Numero Uno status it once had. Friedman is big on nuclear propulsion for space ships, claiming that you can get close to the speed of light, that time will slow down for the travelers, etc. He does not provide any mathematics explaining how this propulsion will be accomplished, because when you work out the numbers the fuel requirements are absurd, even assuming 100% efficiency. See "The Physics and Metaphysics of Unidentified Flying Objects" by William Markowitz (Science 1967 Sep15;157 (3794): 1274-9). Friedman says that there's a movie soon to be made about him and UFOlogist Donald Schmidt (an odd couple indeed, since they're often been at odds concerning Holy Roswell). The movie will be titled Majic Men, and will be completed as soon as $10 or $20 million can be raised.

In the closing session, MUFON demonstrated its brand-new smart phone App. It has three main functions. Two allow the user to stay in tough with MUFON messages and its database. The third, however, is potentially more interesting. It allows the user to receive real-time notifications whenever anybody in the same area reports sighting a UFO. This opens the possibility that large numbers of people might be notified of a UFO visitation, and provide additional witnesses and photos. If there is such a thing as a "real UFO," this app should help identify it. More information at .

Next year's MUFON Symposium will be in northern Kentucky, across the Ohio river from Cincinnati. For me, I'm thinking that's too far to go.


  1. So Filer says the are several faces on Mars and that some resemble Egyptian pharaohs. Funny, but I read somewhere that the principal face on Mars, i.e. the Cydonia one, was now believed to be that of the guy who built those Martian canals.

  2. Love the photo with Stanton Friedman. :-)

  3. Thanks for creating this much-needed site.
    I enjoyed reading the articles.
    For many years, my focus has been on the study of how a segment of the population's gullible "beliefs in UFOs" (as physical alien spacecraft) may have been manipulated and, in some cases, created by the U.S. intelligence community for counterintelligence propaganda.
    I will consult your site from time to time.

  4. Incase nobodies seen it yet, Stanton Friedman has been shilling for the new Apollo 18 movie and kinda got caught with his pants down. You can read about it at...


  5. If there is a marketing claim as to this "official Mufon App" being technically capable of identifying a "real ufo," then I certainly want a piece of this potential lawsuit for Mufon's fraudulent and ridiculous claims.

  6. I may be completely wrong here, but isn't Fortean Times based on the nonsense popularized by Fort? I recently read Martin Gardner's "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" and it paints a rather hilarious and bleak picture of Fort and his followers.
    Surely we can find a better publication to support the obvious fact that the Fish map is outdated and incorrect.

    1. Yes. What Robert points out is that even non-skeptical outfits think it's BS.


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