Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Flying Saucer, or Fly? Is this the case UFO skeptics have been dreading?

On March 13, 2012 the well-known UFOlogist Leslie Kean wrote a story for the Huffington Post titled "UFO Caught On Tape Over Santiago Air Base." Kean, the author of the 2011 New York Times bestseller UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record, described a supposed UFO caught on video during an air show in Chile (although nobody saw the supposed UFO until it was seen in the video afterward). The video was provided by CEFAA, the Chilean Air Force's equivalent of the USAF's disbanded Project Blue Book. The video was said to have been subjected to "intense scrutiny" by a panel of "scientists from many disciplines, aeronautical experts, and air force and army photogrametric technicians." They found it unexplainable. (Kean is very impressed by panels of supposed "experts," no matter what stupid things they might say, like the French COMETA.)  She asks provocatively, "Is this the case UFO skeptics have been dreading?" She obviously thought she had an extremely strong UFO case here, and provided the following video:

Kean claims that the object was captured on seven different videos, by seven different people, each from a different vantage point. However, the video released seems to represent just one of the seven videos, and even that one was not complete, but instead we see only some carefully-chosen snippets. Somebody seemed to be "stage managing" this case to let us see only certain portions of the "evidence."

Kean said, "Each video included three different, mainly horizontal loops flown by the UFO within seconds of each other. The object made elliptical passes either near or around each of three sets of performing jets. It flew past the Halcones, F5s and F16s at speeds so fast it was not noticed by the pilots or anyone on the ground below." She continued, "This extraordinary machine was flying at velocities too high to be man-made. Scientists have estimated the speed, depending on the size of the object, to be at least 4000 - 6000 mph." She should have realized that speed estimates are only valid if one knows for certain the distance from the "UFO" to the camera, which in this case we obviously don't.

The Chilean "UFO" close-up, from Leslie Kean's article
Kean continued, "Images show it as a dome-shaped, flat-bottomed object with no visible means of propulsion. The rounded top reflects the sun and appears metallic; the bottom is darker and flat, emitting some form of energy which is visible in photo analysis. Infrared studies show the entire object is radiating heat, just like the jets." She did not explain how it would be possible to do an "infrared study" of the object captured by an ordinary video camera with no infrared capabilities. She seemed to not even realize that this claim is absurd.

Almost immediately, I am happy to say, many people began finding flaws in this supposedly game-changing video and its analysis, even in places like the conspiracy-oriented Above Top Secret forum. Many noted the object's resemblance to that of an an insect flying wildly close to the camera. Poster UFOglobe compared the close-up of the "UFO" with that of a swarm of bees. The resemblance is easily seen.

"UFOglobe" posted a video frame  (with close-up) of a swarm of bees
A detailed discussion and analysis of the CEFAA video appears on the website of The Hoax Killer (whose excellent work exposing the recent Jerusalem UFO video hoaxes I earlier cited). He downloaded the highest-resolution version of the video from the Huffington Post site. He writes,"After studying the videos very closely I discovered the objects are passing in front of the hills a couple times.  I was also looking for other insects that might be flying around closer to the ground and found what I think is one that is visible for moment." He posted the in front of the nearby ground. Case Closed: this "UFO" is a flying insect.
following short 30-second video to YouTube, highlighting the "UFO" as it is seen not only flying in front of the distant hills, but

UFO skeptic Tim Printy notes, "What this demonstrates is that the original video that was posted was edited in a way so one could not see the UFOs with the ground in the background." In other words, somebody - presumably in the CEFAA - edited the video with the deliberate intent to deceive. Otherwise, it would have been obvious that this is a bug. Blogger Kentaro Mori noted how the CEFAA recently released another supposed UFO photo touted as the "best evidence" yet for a UFO, but was almost certainly a light reflection. He noted that the CEFAA was then, as in the present instance, unwilling to release any additional images or information. Clearly, any future UFO claims from Chile's CEFAA must be viewed with great suspicion.
A giant metallic flying object - Lucilia sericata, the common Green Bottle Fly

Somebody should give Leslie Kean a can of Raid so she can eliminate annoying insects in her future UFO investigations.

[Several follow-ups to this story. Enter "Kean fly" in the search box, upper right.]

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Skeptic at the 2012 International UFO Congress - Part 5 of 5.

[With revisions, May 2023]. On Friday evening I watched The Montauk Chronicles, a documentary on supposed sinister paranormal experiments carried out on innocent boys by the U.S. military at Montauk, Long Island, NY. (See p. 124-126 of my book Pyschic Vibrations). Supposedly tens of thousands of young boys, if not hundreds of thousands, were taken off the streets, imprisoned, tortured and molested, all for the purpose of unleashing hidden paranormal powers. [This bizarre claim was reportedly the basis for the highly popular TV series Stranger Things, which premiered on Netflix in 2016] The Montauk project reportedly ended when one of the youngsters was able to manifest a Big Scary Monster that ran amuck attacking people. By some accounts, the monster still runs amuck at night, when the moon is full and the fog sits upon the moor - wooo. The movie is quite well made. I met the writer and director, Christopher P. Garetano, who seems like a nice fellow but apparently lacks the gene for critical thinking. He cannot decide whether this huge, bloated, absurd tale is true or not. Good Lord!
David Sereda and Stan Romanek test that the laws of electromagnetism are still working

The Saturday sessions began with Ben Hansen, host of the SyFy channel's Fact or Faked, on the Interplay of Media, Technology, Hollywood, and Validating Evidence of ET Contact.  He raised the question of how to tell, given all this technology, which photos and videos are genuine, and which faked. Technology, he said, is our best friend, but also our worst enemy. It seemed to be more "enemy" that morning as many of his video excerpts were unable to be played. The genre of "found footage," he said is now so popular that if real footage of ETs is ever found, it might not be believed. He decried the "wolves" who damage the credibility of UFO research by making sensational claims for their own fun and profit. Unfortunately, he did not name any names.
Whitley and Anne Strieber

When I first saw the celebrated mega-best selling author Whitley Strieber and his wife Anne seated on a panel, I remarked to myself how their demeanor reminded me of the couple in the famous painting American Gothic. I had not seen Anne before; however I had written up an account of Strieber's very odd behavior during my previous Close Encounter with the Great Confabulator. For his talk, Strieber promised he would be Solving the Communion Enigma, but somehow never quite did. He did promote his website The Unknown Country, especially the paid subscribers' pages. Anne read some letters they had received, telling of peoples' highly-emotional experiences with "the visitors." In mankind's struggle for political and personal freedom, he said, we CE-ers are on the cutting edge.However, it is common for CE people to have a "tragic background." A wave of "strange sounds" around the world, mentioned earlier by Maussan, were discussed.

I got out of my seat to get photos of the speakers, without flash so as not to disturb the video being made. I was looking at the photos as I returned to my seat. The fellow next to me asked "were there any orbs above them?" No, not this time, I replied. Streiber returned to the theme of contact with the dead that he first began to promote in his book The Key (see my Review, "He Sees Dead People," in the Skeptical Inquirer, July/August, 2011). Dead people, he says, dress in a brown monk's cowl, "Jesuit clothing." Some of the visitors think it is possible for mankind ro Evolve, while others apparently are not so optimistic. That is why the visitors are so cautious and stealthy. Afterward, mankind will be changed completely, and come face-to-face with the dead. Strieber still says he does not know exactly who "the visitors" are, but he knows that The Dead play a large role.

Whitley Strieber signing autographs

General Ricardo Bermudez spoke about Chile's Official UFO Agency. I didn't hear much of his talk. He was having serious Audio-Visual problems. He spoke about UFO reports that were being received in Chile.

Next the celebrated Steven Greer of CSETI (not to be confused with real SETI) spoke on Contact: Countdown to Transformation to his largely-credulous and adoring crowd. "Disclosure has already happened," said Greer unexpectedly, borrowing a line from John Alexander, who Greer normally disagrees with about everything. Greer didn't explain that remark. Greer showed a photo of Bijou, an ambassador from the Andromeda Galaxy whose acquaintance was made in one of CSETI's desert Skywatches at Joshua Tree, CA. Bijou has now become like a sort of pet alien for Greer, often playing peek-a-boo when it's least expected. It takes a great deal of imagination to see Bijou in the original photo at left, even after they have helpfully cut away his outline (right) - more imagination than I have, I'm afraid. Greer also has equally-fuzzy photos of blips that he says are alien spaceships, many of them only partially materialized in our dimension.  Every time they go out, says Greer, they spot UFOs. Every time. This confirms my suspicion that no matter what light they see in the sky, they think it's a UFO.
Greer says there's an alien hiding out in this photo.

Voila! It's Bijou, Greer's alien familiar

Greer claims that electro-gravitic devices were built by long ago. He said the only reason the conspirators had not yet killed him is because he is too well-known. He accused the conspirators of "murder" in the cancer death of his friend Sheri Adamiak, and in the non-fatal cancers of other researchers, including his own. Apparently they have some sort of 'cancer ray' that they use against UFOlogists who get too close to the truth. Which brings us to this Rambo guy that I saw with Greer Friday night when Greer first arrived. He was dressed in black combat fatigues, and appeared to be wearing a bullet-proof vest. I thought this was odd, but I didn't pay much attention to him. Arizona is a state where people carry around guns the way people in other states carry umbrellas, although there are "no weapons" signs posted all around the facility. I heard later that Greer has taken to traveling with bodyguards, undoubtedly for the theatrical effect. Rambo, however, was not to be seen on Saturday when Greer spoke, and especially when he went into the hallway to sign autographs, which is when Greer would need protection the most. I heard an unconfirmed rumor that Rambo may have gotten himself into trouble bringing guns onto the Indian Reservation. For whatever reason, Rambo wasn't there, leaving poor Steven Greer defenseless. I am happy to report that Greer survived his stint at the UFO Congress.

Alien technology, he says, offers us free energy so that we won't need oil or coal any more. However, this is being opposed by the greedy oil companies, and the military-industrial complex. Greer said that he was offered a bribe of $2 BILLION by the conspirators to stop investigating UFOs, which he bravely and selflessly declined. (Me, I'd sell out for a mere two million. 😉)
Steven Greer is embraced by one of his many admiring fans. But where is Rambo?

Colin Andrews, the world authority on Crop Circles, spoke on that subject. He said that it really doesn't matter which of the crop circles are man-made, and which are real. (I'm still trying to wrap my head around that!). There are profound changes coming, as a "switch" will be thrown on December 21, changing, well, something really important.

As is well-known in UFOlogy, in the 1990s Laurence Rockefeller donated a significant sum for the study of UFOs. Less well-known is that he also donated money to fund a two-year study of Crop Circles,  and that Colin Andrews was chief investigator. Rockefeller's people said they wanted the  "best assessment" possible. They had enough money to buy the newest equipment, and even use helicopters. When it was completed, the conclusion was that 80% of the Circles were made by people, but 20% were unexplained. This conclusion was very controversial in UFO and Crop Circle circles; many people thought of it as a "debunking" study, and turned against poor Colin.

I first met Andrews two days earlier, when I was returning to my seat after my mini-confrontation with Steve Pierce and Travis Walton during the Q&A. He stopped me, introduced himself, and asked me for my card. I guess he wanted to find out what this was all about! I replied that I knew who he was, and we agreed to meet later and chat. When we did, I pointed out that some of the statements he'd made earlier about 2012 "alignments" were rather confused. I was surprised to see that he was trying to figure this out by himself using planetarium software, but not really understanding the parameters. His maps were so broad as to be very confusing. I told him I'd written quite a lot on those "alignments," and I sent him by email the links to the three Blog entries I did a year ago about that ( and the two following it), for which he thanked me.

At that point I had to get back home so I could go to see the final performance at the San Diego Opera of Jake Heggie's west coast premiere opera Moby Dick., which was amazing.