Wednesday, July 31, 2013

John G. Fuller Warns Betty Hill Not to "Jump to Conclusions"

Betty Hill (1919–2004), who with her husband Barney was allegedly "abducted' by a UFO back in 1961, is an extremely well-known figure in UFO circles. We know her from the book The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, by countless media articles and appearances, and from her appearances at UFO conferences. The conventional wisdom is: she was a serious and credible person who reported an incredible experience, but in later years became somewhat fantasy-prone because of something akin to a post-abduction syndrome, worsened by ther husband's sudden death. A more realistic appraisal would be: Mrs. Hill was a fantasy-prone person, who nonetheless succeeded in convincing a lot of people she was credible before the weight of evidence made it obvious that she wasn't.

A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, after her death Mrs. Hill's papers were donated to her alma mater, and now are available to researchers at the Milne Special Collections, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH. Skeptic Kitty Mervine has been studying these papers, and has made some extremely interesting findings.
We did see some slides of a group of Indians in Antarctic who resembled these humanoids very much- both of us were very shocked by this. They had fatty layers of tissues around their features to protect them from the extreme cold of their environment – a warm day is 40 below and they go swimming.
From this Betty concluded that the aliens must have originated on a very cold planet. Betty didn't explain how the natives find liquid water when it's 40 below.

Kitty also found Betty's margin notes concerning her regular visits to a supposed "UFO landing spot" near Exeter, NH, which she visited two or three times a week for at least six years, and saw six or eight UFOs each night. This is the spot where, according to the UFO proponent John Oswald, on the evening he went there with her, Mrs. Hill couldn't "distinguish between a landed UFO and a streetlight." In her notes, Betty scribbled details and descriptions of her UFOs in the margins. Concerning one friend who came to see this miraculous event, Betty wrote,
So now when he comes to visit, he brings his mother and we have great times together. When they were here in October, we went out to my area and counted 12 UFOs in thirty minutes.  His mother was amazed!
Betty Hill with "Junior" and UFO promoter 
Timothy Green Beckley, who took pictures at the "UFO landing spot."

However, one visitor to the "UFO landing spot" was not so easily impressed: John G. Fuller, the  author of the book The Interrupted Journey that made the Hills famous, who regularly wrote for major magazines such as the Saturday Review and Look. (Remember when people used to read magazines for news and current events?) Fuller was a firm believer in UFOs, ghosts, and other paranormal claims, but he could not stomach the UFO claims being made by Betty Hill after her supposed "abduction."

Fuller visited the UFO landing site with Betty. She was attempting to persuade Fuller, and the editors of Look magazine, to publish an article about the UFOs that she was seeing there. But Fuller, the author of numerous loopy books about ghosts and psychic surgery, wasn't buying it at all. In a letter to Betty dated January 8, 1974, Fuller wrote,
during the evening we went out with you, there was nothing that appeared that could not be identified as planes on a normal traffic pattern for either the Boston airport, the Pease Air Force Base, or the traffic route for overseas passenger jets. Yet you had a tendency to feel that some of these were misinterpret aviation traffic as the [unidentified] objects does not help your case.
Regardless of the intensity of your belief, it must still be backed up by cautious and competent witnesses or it works against you very seriously...
Because your first encounter was so well documented, it served as very good evidence of the existence of UFOs. Unless you can back up any current happenings with equal caution, you can seriously harm your position, and that of those who found your original evidence so interesting because of your reserve and caution. Hate to speak as a Dutch uncle like this, Betty, but it is very important to do so, if only for protecting your own reputation.
very best regards,   John
In another note (undated), Fuller admonishes Betty to, "never extrapolate, always re-check and look for natural explanation first." That is so un-Betty! "It's so easy to jump to conclusions, and when you do, you can weaken your position drastically.

In other words, Fuller warned Betty: 'don't be so crazy. You are damaging your own credibility, and mine, too.'

Monday, July 22, 2013

UFO Researcher of the Year Displays some Careless Research

Grant Cameron is a well-known in the UFO community as a researcher who specializes in documentation, especially about supposed "Presidential UFOs." I earlier wrote about Cameron's speech to the 2013 International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona:
Grant Cameron
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!)
 On July 19, 2013, Cameron wrote in his Blog, "Is there a UFO Government Control Group? – New Information ." In it he said
John [Alexander] was a Colonel in the US Army, and had been interested in the UFO mystery since a young boy in 1947. He also had done work on “esoteric projects, specifically in the intelligence community with psychokinesis.”

Alexander wrote a book on his UFO investigations called “UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities.” In the book Alexander pointed out that although UFOs are real, they are of no interest to the American government, and therefore there is no cover-up of the facts by American officials.
Alexander is the author of  UFOs Myths Conspiracies and Realities (NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011). He is not a popular figure in UFOlogy today, even though he is a UFO proponent. As I wrote about Alexander's speech to the 2011 MUFON Symposium:
I'd say that the most interesting talk was the first one on Saturday afternoon, retired Army Colonel Dr. John Alexander. He is among the most skeptical of UFO believers, and because of this he excited (or more properly, inflamed) the audience more than anyone else. His heresy was not that there are not real ET UFOs, but merely that there is no government coverup, or secret UFO-related program. Alexander stated that "disclosure has already happened," pointing to a few mostly-ambiguous statements by world leaders (such as Jimmy Carter, or Prince Philip) that suggest a belief in UFOs. Alexander claims that the government already knows that UFOs are real and interplanetary, but they simply don't care. They have so many more pressing problems - the economy, wars and terrorism, health care, etc. - that they simply have no time or inclination to deal with UFOs.

Mostly, Alexander's talk was a recital of what he does not believe in: Alien Reproduction Vehicles, MJ-12 papers, antigravity drives, underground UFO bases, and (worst of all) no Grand Coverup, no 'secrecy police' (Men in Black). Even the Holy Roswell Crash was doubted. To those who claim to have been harassed or silenced because of UFO sightings, Alexander said, "come to me, I will protect you and defend your case." According to Alexander, "the UFO community" has become its own worst enemy, and it is necessary to make the study of UFOs intellectually respectable.
Paradoxically, while denying that the U.S. military is involved in any UFO coverups, Alexander is a strong proponent of the famous Rendlesham Forest alleged UFO landing, which took place in England in 1980 but involved U.S. Air Force personnel. The U.S. Air Force operated the base at Woodbridge, as part of the NATO defenses against possible Soviet agression. So apparently Alexander believes that the U.S. Air Force does not cover up domestic UFOs, but it does cover-up foreign ones. And he does not seem concerned that the principal witnesses have greatly "improved" their stories over the years.
John Alexander (left) chats with James McGaha at The Amazing Meeting 2012, South Point Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cameron Continues:
In a June 15, 2013 interview with radio show host Nancy Du Tetre Alexander, Alexander suddenly announced that the MJ-12 group had existed.[ii] This sudden disclosure was strange. That is because the MJ-12 controversy is central to the whole government cover-up theory believed by most in the UFO community. Yet Alexander did not talk about the MJ-12 idea in his book which had as its basic premise that there is no government control group dealing with the UFO mystery.
Cameron is quite wrong about this. Chapter 7 in Alexander's UFO book is titled "Majestic 12," and it is ten pages long (hard cover edition).  Obviously Cameron has not read the book. He continues:
This is the transcript of the interaction;

Alexander: I think that there actually was a group and they were created something known as COG – continuity of government – and it was to prevent nuclear decapitation of the United States. It was really super super sensitive.

Nancy Du Tetre: Well let me ask you this. Does MJ-12 as far as you know exist today?

Alexander: I don’t think so. I had someone whisper to me that it had existed. I didn’t think it had existed at all, but when I looked into it and asked if the names were correct, and they said yes and that should tell me what I need to know to figure it out. That’s how we came up with this particular occupation because most of them were into nuclear warfare. That was one common thread of all the people on the list, and much more so certainly than with UFOs.[iii]
Cameron's story was written up by paranormal reporter Jack Brewer on The Examiner, headling "Grant Cameron reports John Alexander confirmed MJ-12,"   and has now become a big news story in UFO circles.

Before going ballistic on this, Grant Cameron should have actually read the chapter on the alleged MJ-12 "documents" in John Alexander's book. Alexander examines the claims, and is generally skeptical of them. On p. 130, he suggests "COG - An Alternative Solution." He cites a 'confidential source' he trusts who tells him that "the topics the group was involved in studying had nothing to do with the Roswell crash in particular or UFOs in general." In other words, a group existed called "MJ-12," but it had nothing to do with UFOs. He speculates that it may have been involved with "continuity of government" following a nuclear war, but he doesn't know for sure. In his book Alexander does not claim that the names of the alleged MJ-12 were "correct," but he does say "Those named as the MJ-12 constituency dovetails appropriately with a body created that might advise a POTUS." Possibly what Alexander meant in the radio interview that the names were "correct" for a COG panel. He has not yet replied to several requests for clarification, including mine.

So, John Alexander was being interviewed on a radio show, and said almost exactly the same thing he had said in his book two years earlier. Grant Cameron seized upon Alexander's statement as a "sudden disclosure" and it became a big UFO news story.

Lee Speigel notes in the Huffington Post that "At the recent 22nd annual International UFO Congress in Arizona [2013], Cameron -- co-author of "UFOs, Area 51, and Government Informants" -- was honored with the researcher of the year award for his outstanding achievement in the field of UFO studies."

Given that Cameron was chosen "UFO Researcher of the Year," this tells us a great deal about "UFO Research!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

R.I.P., Marjorie Fish and her Star Map

Most followers of the UFO scene are familiar with the supposed 'alien star map' that Betty Hill drew after her alleged UFO abduction, and of Marjorie Fish's purported identification of (some of) the stars on the map as nearby solar-type stars. Stanton Friedman, the self-styled "Flying Saucer Physicst," has been promoting that map as a supposed 'proof' of extraterrestrial visitations for more than forty years.

The famous Fish Map
On July 7, 2013, UFO and star map researcher Steve Pearse sent an email to a number of UFO researchers, informing them that Marjorie Fish had died in a nursing home in Oak Harbor, Ohio almost three months earlier, on April 8. She was 80, and had reportedly been suffering from Azlheimer's disease. Apparently none of those receiving the email, including Kathleen Marden and Stanton Friedman, knew that Fish had died. A link was provided to a memorial page for Ms. Fish created by a local newspaper. The obituary contains this rather startling statement:
Marjorie Fish
As one of her hobbies, Marjorie made an investigation into the Betty Hill map by constructing a 3-D star map in the late 1960's using several databases. She found a pattern that matched Mrs. Hill's drawing well, which generated international interest. Later, after newer data was compiled, she determined that the binary stars within the pattern were too close together to support life; so as a true skeptic, she issued a statement that she now felt that the correlation was unlikely.
However, nobody seems to know anything about any such statement made by Marjorie Fish. Marden sent email to that same list, saying she knew nothing about any repudiation by Fish of her map, and doubted that Fish ever did so.
[A statement from Fish's niece casts doubt on Fish's supposed repudiation.]

Separately, Steve Pearse has written an open letter to MUFON, titled "Should Stanton Friedman Renounce Marjorie Fish?" In it he says:
In the December, 2012 issue of the MUFON Journal (No. 536) Stanton Friedman wrote a two page rebuttal article in his regular monthly column ‘Perceptions’ aimed primarily at his arch rival Robert Sheaffer, a well known UFO debunker... This wasn’t a draw, split decision, or a knockout by either one of them, but it is time to settle this issue once and for all.
He objects to my descriptions of how Betty and Barney shared their accounts before the hypnosis sessions with Dr. Simon, thereby compromising their independence. He also objects to me calling certain individuals "UFOlogists" when they were engineers and whatever. Well, what should we call people who spend a full twelve hours interviewing a supposed UFO witness - "UFO fanatics?"

However, Friedman must endure even worse from Pearse:
Robert Sheaffer is correct! .... When you remove the lines-it’s very obvious that there is no match. You have to ask the question: Why was this ignored?... I have to side with Robert Sheaffer on one major topic and that is the invalidation of Marjorie Fish’s controversial Zeta Reticuli Interpretation, it’s become even more controversial because Friedman is fully aware of the fact that the triangle in Fish’s star map doesn’t exist. Two of her stars are outside of the boundary of her working model that claimed that all the stars were with 55 light years of Sol/Earth looking in the direction of Zeta Reticuli. All that he’s willing to say is that there is better data now. 
Of course, Friedman, and MUFON, will ignore that letter. This will surely lead up to a fascinating exchange when I have a two-hour debate with Stanton Friedman on the Revolution Radio Network, currently scheduled for August 8 at 5PM Pacific Time (8PM Eastern Time). Then, Friedman will not be able to ignore the problems with his precious Fish Map.  I wonder how Friedman can possibly defend his continued promotion of the Fish Map, given that we now know how utterly implausible it is.

But wait, there's more: one reason that Pierce is so eager to discard the Fish map is that he thinks there is a better one! He has written a book titled Set Your Phaser to Stun, in which he describes another alleged indentification of Betty Hill's sketch. His email user name, HR3951 (an entry in the Yale Bright Star Catalog) gives us a clue. One of the giant globes representing the aliens' alleged home star is supposed to be HR3951 = 20 Leo Minoris = SAO  61808, a totally obscure star in an obscure constellation. At magnitude 5.4, it is barely visible to the naked eye under excellent dark sky conditions. (If there is any constellation more obscure than Reticulum, it is Leo Minor. Why can't the aliens choose more interesting places to come from? At least Billy Meier's aliens came from the Pleiades - that's a lot more interesting!)

I have not had time to study the details of the Hill-Wilson map. However, it is supposed to be an earth-based map, yet one of the giant globes is supposed to represent our Sun. How do you map the sun in a position among the stars if you are on earth?

In any case, the new map now takes its proud place as Star Map #6, the sixth proposed identification of what Betty Hill drew. (There may be others I'm not aware of.) The six are:
  1. Betty Hill's Pegasus Map, in The Interrupted Journey
  2. Fish Map
  3. Atterberg Map (nearby stars, see my book UFO Sightings)
  4. Koch-Kyborg Map (planets and asteroids)
  5. Yari Danjo Map (nearby stars)
  6. Hill-Wilson Star Map (stars seen from earth-based view).
Adding to the uncertainty over any star map are Betty Hill's own comments, in a letter to Marjorie Fish. Skeptical researcher Kitty Mervine has been studying Betty Hill's papers which are now housed in the Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham NH. In a letter dated only "October 12" (1969?), Betty Hill wrote
As for the 8 background stars - I really do not know if they exist and in that position, or if I added them to try to show that the other stars were seen on the sky map in the background. I know I added them to show that stars were in the background; however, as to their position on the original skymap, I am not sure.
So even Betty Hill herself was not so sure about the unconnected stars - one of which is sometimes claimed to represent a star that 'had not been discovered yet' at the time the map was made.  Kitty suggests, "We should be focused on Betty Hill's original drawing, not attempted matches.  If you are starting with bad information, you will never have a match." And if even Betty Hill says she was "not sure" about the stars she drew, I can't imagine why anyone else should be.