Thursday, February 28, 2013

UFOs In the Desert, Part 2

Thursday was the second day of the International UFO Congress in Fountain Hills, Arizona, the largest UFO conference in the world. My previous Blog posting covers the first day.

The first speaker of the day was Micah Hanks, author and researcher and another very glib speaker, talking about "The UFO Singularity." Futurists like to talk about the coming "singularity," meaning that as our machines' artificial intelligence continues to increase, for precisely one moment of time their intelligence will equal ours - and then forever afterward, theirs will be greater. Intelligent machines will then be the dominant force on this planet, and this may lead to a heaven on earth, or perhaps a hell (as in the movie The Matrix). This, of course, has nothing to do with UFOs.

Micah Hanks
Or does it? Hanks suggests that UFOs may represent a "post-singularity technology," probably originating here on earth, that somehow "transcends temporality." Sounds fancy. Micah says, "I'm known as the guy who says UFOs come from earth." This somehow ties in with Nazi saucers and other World War II developments, by way of a very circuitous path. He acknowledges, however, that UFOs might also represent a post-singularity extraterrestrial technology.

A Post-Singularity technology might know how to "reverse entropy," and then there is no telling what they might be able to do. They may have a technology that "evades temporality altogether," which might be easier than it sounds since time does not exist, it is an illusion.

Dr. Leo Sprinkle
The next speaker was the venerable Dr. Leo Sprinkle, psychologist and pioneering UFO abductionist,. His talk was titled "Memories of an ET Experiencer and Spiritual Pigtailer." Sprinkle has been hypnotically regressing supposed ET experiencers for over forty years, and still looks vigorous and spry at age 82. Only in recent years did Sprinkle reveal that he believes he is an ET experiencer himself.

Sprinkle had his first UFO sighting in 1949. He told about some childhood experiences that he now interprets in terms of ET abduction. He said you can analyze the "meaning" of any UFO sighting you might have by looking into your soul, by evaluating your feelings about it. The UFO is a "sign" for you. He talked a good bit about reincarnation. He believes he had a past life as a woman, who was not allowed to read books. His proof of reincarnation is in his feelings; he talked a lot about feelings. Perhaps, he suggested, these paranormal experiences herald the end of Partiarchy and of the male God.
One of Maussan's presentations in Mexico
Jason Martell had been scheduled to speak next about Ancient Astronauts. However, he was injured in some sort of accident (I don't have any more information about that), so the also-venerable Jaime Maussan was pressed into service. Maussan is the best-known UFO personality in Mexico, and is famous for his blockbuster videos and photos that are extremely remarkable, if true. 

Maussan said that worldwide UFO sightings have increased dramatically recently because of December 21, 2012, and aliens are now sending us messages by creating meteorological formations in the sky. He showed what were supposedly "vortexes" in meteorological charts, "messages" he says of "the new time."

He showed many blurry photos and videos. There was a huge black sphere sucking energy out of the sun - probably a Mothership, he suggested. NASA's Spirit rover photographed a human figure on Mars, and also a "little house." We saw objects (probably satellites in nlow earth orbit) crossing the face of the moon. Russia, he says, now has the greatest number of UFO sightings of any country, and he showed Russian videos of supposed "motherships." He also played videos having very low-pitch "unexplained" sounds or hums. Maussan's talk was loony, but the audience loved it.

Dolores Cannon
The next speaker was Dolores Cannon, another hypnotherapist, with over 50 years' experience. "She is also a published author of many books composed in part of transcripts from past life regression sessions." She knows a great deal about our spirit guides, "The Watchers." They help us arrange each of our lives. ETs created us by manipulating the genes of the ape. ETs are not trying to take over the earth - they already own it.

You probably know, she suggests, that Star Trek is not fiction - it is real. The ETs try not to interfere in a civilization unless it gets too violent, which is what happened to the Atlanteans. And it is always the men who mess things up by getting too violent. This forces the ETs to step in and wipe them out.

The final session of the day was a panel, "Investigating UFOs," with James Fox, Nick Pope, Marc Dantonio, hosted by Lee Speigel. If you have been reading Speigel's articles in The Huffington Post, you know that he has been receiving quite a few purported UFO photos and videos, and he has been sending them to Dantonio for analysis. Marc Dantonio is MUFON's chief photo/video analyst, and president of FX Models, a model making and special effects company. His company makes UFOs - for TV and movies. While Dantonio believes that some UFO cases are authentic, he is actually a very skeptical guy. We must remove all of the possible 'knowns,' he said, if it's a close correlation to something we already know, he concludes it is that. And he said something that amazed me: "Lee, you haven't yet given me anything 'unknown.'" He says, "I am harsh on the data," even though witnesses insist "I know what I saw!" But Dantonio tells them that my comments are directed toward the data - the photo or video - not toward what you saw.

Lee Speigel, James Fox, Nick Pope, Marc Dantonio
Pope said that people give more credence to sightings by pilots, and that is proper, but we should not dismiss sightings by ordinary folk. Fox said he had offered some commercial pilots who had UFO sightings $10,000 to come forward and tell their stories; they declined, saying they would lose their jobs. Speigel related how skeptic James Oberg had said to him that pilots actually make rather poor witnesses, which he felt was wrong; Pope pronounced Oberg to be "dead-pan wrong." I had a chance during the Q&A to point out that Oberg did not originate that idea: it was actually stated by J. Allen Hynek (which seemed to take the entire panel by surprise). On p. 271 of the 1977 book The Hynek UFO Report, the former Blue Book scientific consultant said, "Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses."

Fox claimed that NASA's photos of Mars are all pretty clear, except when the camera points toward the Cydona area (which supposedly contains a Face on Mars). In that case, the photos are all blurred.

In the evening, I attended the U.S. Premiere of a film called Solar Evolution. It suggested that the December solstice in 2012 (which had not yet happened) would usher in certain great changes, and somehow the sun would play a role in all this evolutionare New Age stuff. Beware of the coming Solar Maximum, it warned - even though the current solar cycle is the feeblest in about a century!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

UFOs In the Desert, Part 1

For the second year in a row, I find myself at the International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona. Last year I wrote a detailed five-part account of the conference. I told myself I wouldn't write as much this year, but it looks like this resolution may be broken.

Lee Speigel
When I arrived Tuesday evening, February 26, I ran into Lee Speigel in the restaurant, the 'weird news' reporter for AOL/Huffington post, who is the Host of this Conference, and who I have known for years. I would call Speigel a "skeptical believer," meaning that while he thinks some UFO cases may be beyond our present knowledge, he realizes that the great majority of UFO claims are frankly not worth much. Speigel was with Ben Hansen of Fact or Faked on the SyFy Channel, who was the first speaker Wednesday morning, and who takes a similar position.

Ben Hansen
The next morning, after Speigel's introduction, Ben Hansen spoke on "Profiling the Hoaxers." He explained that his background in law enforcement prepares him well for forensic evidence of UFO and other 'paranormal' evidence. He describes himself as neither a believer or skeptic, but a "verifier." He explains that hoaxes abound in UFOlogy, and that there can be big money in making bogus ET claims, although he will not name any names. He set forth the following "Hoaxer Subtypes," based on his experience in law enforcement and with paranormal claims:

1. Clinical Con Artist. Charismatic, lacks conscience. Claims of persecution by federal agencies - a red flag, there is so much red tape for intelligence actions that these claims are not at all credible. Some of these people have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The mentally disordered tend to gravitate to "our field," i.e. UFOlogy.

2. Legendizers, seeking fame and/or financial gain. May have had a legitimate experience, but you can only tell the same story so many times, so they add more and more 'excitement' each time it is told.

3. Commercial Campaigners. Publicity stunts. They are not in it for the long-haul, the hoax usually only lasts a few weeks. This damages the credibility of the UFO field, it makes people dismiss legitimate cases.

4. Self-amused pranksters. Motivated by the challenge of pulling it off.

5. Disinformation agents, the rarest type. The government changed its story on Roswell, repeatedly. The 1956 documentary movie UFO was part of a debunking contingency plan. (This category sounds dubious to me).

When a story or a video is crafted to capture emotion, this is a sign of a hoax. You have to think like a movie director, if the crafting of a video appears to be planned out to demonstrate credibility, this is dubious as a real video would be taken without preparation or warning. Also, cerftain technical errors in the creation of a video reveal a hoax. Bigfoot videos tend to show the creature moving left-to-right much more than the opposite. Either Bigfoot walks in circles, or else it is staged to look this way. But he believes that some Bigfoot sightings are valid, as are some UFO sightings. 

It's obvious that Hansen is a bright guy. I think that "verifiers" and "skeptics" can work well together.

The second talk was "UFOs Over Native American Land," by Stanley Milford and John Dover, who are current or retired law enforcement (respectively) for the Navajo Nation, an area that mostly lies between the Grand Canyon and Four Corners, and is larger than ten states. (The UFO Congress takes place on an Indian Reservation, hence the attached Casino.) They spent the first part of their talk illustrating the work they normally do: performing rescues, battling wildfires, assisting with accidents, etc. But these two officers headed up the Rangers' Special Projects Unit, which "managed the investigation of those cases that would be deemed 'paranormal,' such as witchcraft, Bigfoot sightings, hauntings, and UFO sightings," although these are only about 1-2% of the cases of Special Projects.

In the "Ol'Man Case," an elderly Navajo claimed that a brilliantly-illuminated UFO circled his remote desert house. He then saw, looking out the window, four aliens walking around with flashlights. The Rangers also received reports of Bigfoot sightings and tracks, witchcraft, and Shapeshifters (similar to werewolves). Such beliefs, they explained, are very prevalent on the Reservation. If there's something strange, in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Navajo Rangers!
With the passing of Budd Hopkins and John Mack, that leaves Barbara Lamb, licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and regression therapist,  as one of the leading 'UFO Abduction researchers' in the world. She has performed more than 2,100 "regressions" on hundreds of individuals, "regarding details of encounters they have had with a variety of extraterrestrial beings." In fact, says Lamb, there are many different alien species abducting Earthlings. Her talk was about ET/Human Hybrids, and it was essentially the same talk I heard her give to the MUFON Symposium in 2011.

Many women, says Lamb, have "missing pregnancies" where the fetus is extracted by aliens, up to 3 months' term. Many of these alien races are dying out, including the Zeta Reticulans (that abducted Betty and Barney Hill), and must pilfer our breeding stock to replenish theirs. She seems not to realize that our DNA is much closer to that of a dandelion than it would be to whatever genetic code might have been evolved by beings on a completely alien world. It's worse than trying to rebuild a Chevy engine using Ford parts - much, much worse.

One man came into therapy because he was no longer able to have sex with his wife. Ms. Lamb determined the cause of his problem to be that during a UFO abduction, he had been tricked into having sex with a particularly repulsive Reptilian female. Some women, she asserts, have a long-term companion who is an 'extraterrestrial husband,' in addition to a normal earthly one. Many of them are pleased with this arrangement. She showed drawings of supposed ET/human hybrids, in various stages of integration into the human genome, as well as photos of persons alleged to be late-stage hybrids who are (mostly) successful at passing for human. Some are fashion models, whose gaunt, angled face is said to demonstrate alien ancestry, although anorexia and heroin might produce the same effect. A few people actually claim to be human/ET hybrids; apparently it gives them a certain notoriety.

Nick Pope
The next speaker was Nick Pope, who supposedly ran "the British Government's UFO Project," although in reality he didn't run anything, and worked part-time on the UFO Project from 1991 to 1994. He began his talk on the defensive, emphasizing that he did not actually predict an alien invasion, as many news stories and blogs reported last summer. I was, he said, merely promoting a space war type of video game, and reporters took my comments out of context. I wrote a Blog entry about this last August 22. Comments like, "The government must - and has planned - for the worst-case scenario: alien attack and alien invasion. Space shuttles, lasers and directed-energy weapons are all committed via the Alien Invasion War Plan to defence against any alien ships in orbit." Sorry Nick, that excuse doesn't work, as anyone can tell if they Google "Nick Pope Alien Invasion," which also brings up a story from October 12, 2012, "Britain has alien-war weapons, says former government adviser," and even "Aliens Could Attack at Any Time" from 2006. Stop trying to fool us, Nick, and admit you said these things.

Pope promised to discuss some of the most interesting cases in the MOD files, but mostly used the time relating anecdotes of the UFO Project. There are "interesting gems," he said, hidden among thousands of pages of mostly worthless stuff. He hinted at the destruction of military records pertaining to UFO sightings. He warned several times that UFOs are a potential hazard to aviation.

Grant Cameron
Grant Cameron has been active in UFO and paranormal research for almost forty years. He has become something of an expert at digging up documentation that has greatly assisted our understanding of many UFO cases, especially "presidential UFOs." He spoke on "Consciousness and UFOs." He explained that he is convinced that no real progress in knowledge about UFOs will be made until we successfully contact the beings involved, which he is sure is possible. He noted that one person claiming mental contact was the former Democratic Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, who not only had a sighting that lasted several hours [how can you watch something like that for hours without getting cameras, binoculars, the neighbors, the news crew, the police, etc?], but also said that he "felt a connection" with the UFO that he and the others sighted. "You have to make contact, you can't watch from a distance," says Cameron. He feels that the idea of UFO contact has been made disreputable because of certain people whose famous claims of contact are not credible. He showed photos of three persons he was implying to be phonies: Billy Meier, George Adamski, and Steven Greer. (No argument there!)

Cameron spoke at length about a well-known but still somewhat mysterious figure in the early history of UFOlogy: Wilbert Smith, a Canadian radio engineer. In 1953 Smith somehow convinced Canadian authorities to allow him to set up a small project to investigate flying saucers, having supposedly determined that the American government considers the subject of the highest priority and secrecy. Smith was among those who supposedly experienced 'contact' with the extraterrestrials.

Cameron's argument is: If you can show that the idea of mental contact with UFOs predates the earliest contactee, Adamski, then you have shown that it is not derivative from them. This argument is quite correct, even ingenious, and indeed he demonstrates his claim. But the problem is, you still haven't proven that the "contact" is real; all you've proved is that Adamski didn't make it up. Cameron is a dynamic speaker and obviously sincere; he brought the audience to its feet.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ingo Swann (1933-2013) - Psychic Astronaut

Ingo Swann, remote viewer and psychic astronaut, died on February 1 at the age of 79. Many skeptics today probably won't even recognize the name, but Swann played a major role in several "classic" parapsychology experiments, including the Pentagon's "Remote Viewing." His "accomplishments" are mentioned in the book The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson. (A book I highly recommend! You can't imagine the crazy stuff that went on.) In the 1970s Swann worked extensively with Targ and Puthoff at SRI International, the team whose loosey-goosey 'validation' of Uri Geller's magic powers has been soundly criticized. Swann was always considered among the the "best" of the Remote Viewers.
Ingo Swann awes J. Allen Hynek (The National Enquirer, Sept. 9, 1975).

Swann's best-known parapsychological feats were when he and psychic Harold Sherman took Psychic Voyages to Mercury and Jupiter (just ahead of the Pioneer 10 probe). The Enquirer reporter interviewed the most famous UFOlogist in the world, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, former scientific consultant to the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book, who said "These are things that Mr. Swann couldn't have guessed or read about. His impressions of Mercury and Jupiter cannot be dismissed... I  was fascinated by the Jupiter findings of Pioneer 10 when I compared them with Mr. Swann's. His impressions of Jupiter, along with his experience with Mercury, most certainly point the way to more experimentation." (For more about Hynek's weird beliefs, see "The Secret Life of J. Allen Hynek" by John Franch in the January/February 2013 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer. Also see my earlier Blog entry, Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and the "Pentacle Memorandum." )

Carl Sagan's evaluation of Ingo Swann's "Psychic Voyages"

However, another astronomer looked at the results of Swann's psychic space travel, and came to a very different conclusion: Carl Sagan. Philip J. Klass sent Sagan a copy of this National Enquirer article - Sagan's reply is above. He calls the results "dreadful - sort of vague remembrances of sixth-grade general science." In the "little book" to which he refers, Sagan writes of "two courageous American mystics" who made an "astral projection" trip to Jupiter. "If their reports had been submitted in my elementary astronomy course, they would have received grades of "D" .... they were filled with the most obvious misunderstandings both about Jupiter and about Pioneer 10."

Sagan's comments in his book Other Worlds.
In 1975 Swann wrote To Kiss Earth Good-Bye, which contains some really fascinating stuff. He makes the usual predictions of an impending ecological disaster. (The exact nature of the disaster changes from time to time, but that ecological disaster is always there in the near future, waiting for us.)  Swann tells how he first established an ESP connection with one of his houseplants, asking it what was wrong when it was not doing well. The plant replied by projecting mental images to him.

Later Swann got together with Clive Backster, the man who discovered the "Backster effect": ESP with plants hooked up to a polygraph. (When "UFO abductee" Travis Walton and his pals were trying to set up a mutually-agreed upon polygraph test for them with Philip J. Klass, Backster was their choice.) They hooked the polygraph to a philodendron, but had poor results because, according to Swann, the plant was too strong-minded. They later tried hooking the equipment up to a piece of "rubberized graphite." They found it had no mind at all, but Swann gave himself headaches trying to communicate with it, anyway. The book is filled with all kinds of wild psychic visions and experiences.

Swann's website is still up at .