Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Skeptic at MUFON's 50th Anniversary Symposium, Part 1

This year's MUFON Symposium returned to southern California, in Irvine, so I signed up. Other than it being MUFON's 50th anniversary, there was no over-arching UFOlogical theme, like the much-derided "Secret Space Program" theme in 2017 (although the idea of "time travel" seemed to come up a lot in the talks). I didn't attend the Friday evening banquet with longtime MUFON director John Schuessler, whose theme was "MUFON at Fifty - A Fantastic Journey."

Jim Penniston spins his Tales from the Rendlesham Woods.
The first speaker on Saturday morning was Jim Penniston, whose talk was titled "Rendlesham - Days of Future Past." Penniston's story of encountering a landed craft in the woods outside the U.S. Air Force base at Rendlesham, U.K. in 1980 is well-known in UFOlogy. This case is sometimes referred to as the "British Roswell." The British skeptic Ian Ridpath provides the best summary and analysis of this extremely complicated case. 

Penniston opened by asking how many people had heard about the Rendlesham case? Practically everybody. "Half of what you know about Rendlesham is wrong!," he claimed. This is obviously a swipe at certain other individuals enjoying the Rendlesham spotlight, and whose tales are incompatible with his. For example, John Burroughs says that he and Penniston were abducted by aliens in the forest, and Larry Warren claims to have seen aliens scampering out of the craft. Penniston related a tale about chasing "the airman" (presumably Burroughs) over a fence and across a farmer's field, for reasons that escape me.

Penniston claims that he saw a landed craft in the woods that night. He paced off its size, it was 9 feet long and it was about 7 1/2 feet tall.. He showed pages from his "real-time response notes" supposedly describing the incident. (Unfortunately, that supposedly "real-time" notebook didn't surface until many years after the incident.)  When he approached the craft and placed his hand on it, he perceived a blinding white light, "and I began to see ones and zeroes." Later he wrote about 16 pages of the binary code in his wonderful notebook. The craft supposedly lifted off silently, and disappeared. Penniston claims to have been required to attend debriefings and special meetings for "containment" of the story, and for "witness control." That's the UFO cover-up, you understand.

Penniston was not a very inspiring speaker, and there was much fumbling with A/V issues. He said that the scribblings of binary in his notebook have been analyzed, and supposedly represent the locations of various UFO-related and mystical sites around the world. He concluded his talk with the idea that the beings in the craft are not extraterrestrials, but somehow are our future selves (who must actually be quite small to fit into the dimensions that he gave of the craft, unless like Dr. Who's time-traveling TARDIS, "it's bigger on the inside"). 

Clas Svahn

The next speaker was the Swedish researcher and archivist Clas Svahn, who has been studying UFOs since the late 1960s (as have I). He has investigated over 1,500 UFO cases (here is his very interesting interview of Betty Hill), and has published 30 books. His talk was titled "The Real X-Files and the Mystery of the Ghost Rockets."

The first part of the title refers to the vast UFO and Fortean-related archive Svahn and his colleagues have long been assembling, the Archives for the Unexplained (AFU). It contain four separate libraries, has 20,000 UFO reports from Sweden, and files from many countries, in addition to books, papers, news clippings, microfilms,films, DVDs,  and UFO-related toys (they even have a store selling surplus materials from their collections). His soon-to-be published book will illustrate the contents of the archives.

The second part of the title refers to the legendary "Ghost Rockets" reportedly seen in Sweden beginning in 1946, the year before Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting. A Ghost Rocket sighting begins with an object in the sky that looks like a rocket. It might fly around and change directions, but then it always crashes into a lake, and disappears. The Swedish military has investigated over 1,000 reports of Ghost Rockets, yet despite numerous searches of lakes involving divers, metal detectors, and sonar, nobody has ever recovered a single artifact from any supposed "ghost rocket." Hence the name - like all ghosts, ghost rockets simply disappear. Svahn showed some photos of an expedition he went on to a very remote, difficult-to-reach lake in Sweden, into which a ghost rocket had been reliably witnessed to plunge. They had to walk miles carrying their tents, supplies, and equipment. Their first few attempts didn't find any fragments, but they plan to go back again with better equipment. If they find any strange metamaterials, they can always send them to "To The Stars" for expert analysis!

UFO artist and violinist serenades the Symposium attendees
Next to speak was the Brazilian researcher A. J. Geveard, whose title was "UFOs in Brazil - An Official Matter." He has been a full-time UFOlogist since 1985. He said that Brazil's government has an official UFO investigation program, all of whose documents are unclassified and available to the public. Argentina also has government-run UFO investigations, but it is run by skeptics. This is disgraceful, he says!

In Brazil, UFOs seem to want to attack people. Some of the crafts would "suck blood and energy" from people. The only place people were safe was in the church; apparently the aliens recognize the ancient principle of religious Sanctuary. The most dramatic incidents occurred in Varginha, where at least two creatures were captured while still alive. The Military Policeman who captured one of the creatures carried it on his lap to the hospital. He died three weeks later at the age of 23. The dead creatures were taken to Campinas University, presumably to have an alien autopsy. The army and the government, of course, still deny that anything happened at Varginha, but Geveard insists that Varginha was "ten times better than Roswell."

A. J. Geveard.

Next to speak was Paul Stonehill, who was born in the Soviet Union, on "The Turbulent History of Alien Visitors to Russia and the USSR." He told of numerous encounters between the Russian and Soviet military, and aliens. Indeed, UFOs have shot down military jets. I had heard Stonehill speak before, at the UFO Congress in 2013, and this sounded much like that same talk:
He explained that there were all kinds of UFOs in the Russian territories, ancient and modern. UFOs are depicted in ancient rock carvings, and there are "out of place" artifacts in ancient rock strata. The KGB was very interested in UFOs and paranormal phenomena, but Stalin had the records destroyed. Later there was an official Soviet military program for recording and studying UFO reports. In 1982, a UFO almost started World War III by initiating a nuclear missile's launch sequence for 15 minutes. Unlike UFOs in the U.S., which are reported to be peaceful and try to interfere with nuclear-tipped ICBMs, in the USSR UFOs apparently are warlike, and try to launch such missiles.

Stonehill also talked quite a bit about USOs - Unidentified Submersible Objects. Soviet divers have found themselves next to underwater humanoids working on recovering something, wearing no breathing apparatus.
Michael P. Masters
The final speaker of the afternoon was anthropologist Michael P. Masters, PhD, who lectured on "A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon." He is selling not just a book, but T-shirts and such for his "Multidisciplinary" approach, so I guess it must be very important. He started out talking about bipedalism and how significant that was in human evolutionary history. It initiated the brain/behavior feedback loop, he said. This is rare among mammals, and is likely even rarer on earthlike exoplanets. Bipedal animals are constantly fighting gravity, he explained, and since earth is [reportedly] small compared to known exoplanets, which would have stronger gravity, he suggests that bipedalism would be unlikely to develop. And hence intelligent life. Of course, it's likely that many smaller earth-sized exoplanets exist, but we don't see them because it's easier to detect the larger ones. Also, a creature with six or eight limbs wouldn't need to worry about becoming bipedal. Masters tries to deduce aliens' evolutionary history from witness descriptions, suggesting that he takes such accounts far too literally.

Can you travel backwards in time? Masters thinks that you can. Rotation, he says, creates relativistic frame dragging, warping spacetime. This can ultimately cause light cones to tip over, enabling one to travel to the past. This might, he suggests, give rise to "time tourism" surrounding major historical events. Noting the serious problems with the extraterrestrial hypothesis - the extreme distances between stars, and the supposed difficulty in evolving bipedalism, Masters suggests (like Penniston) that the beings in UFOs are not aliens, but our future selves. He calls them "extratempestrials."

In the vendors' room: the Earth isn't flat - it's Hollow!!

[More to follow]

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Source of "To The Stars" 'UFO Debris' Revealed - Art Bell!

So, we have finally nailed down the history of that supposedly anomalous sample of "groundbreaking metamaterials"  that "To The Stars" just yesterday made such fanfare of picking up for analysis. They said they got it from the well-known UFO personality Linda Moulton Howe. What they did not tell us, however, is that she got the sample from the late-night Titan of paranormal talk, Art Bell (1945-2018), who had received it anonymously in the mail. In fact, this particular sample of supposed UFO detritus was known in some circles as "Art's Parts."

The original web page for "Art's Parts" has long been removed, however, it is still visible via the mighty Wayback Machine. Here is a copy of that page from 2001.

An image of the top part of the Art's Parts web page from 2001.

The page contains the following letter, which Bell says he received anonymously on April 10, 1996:
Dear Mr. Bell,

I've followed your broadcasts over the last year or so, and have been considering whether or not to share with you and your listeners, some information related to the Roswell UFO crash.

My grandfather was a member of the Retrieval Team, sent to the crash site, just after the incident was reported. He died in 1974, but not before he had sat down with some of us, and talked about the incident.

I am currently serving in the military, and hold a Security Clearance, and do NOT wish to "go public", and risk losing my career and commission.

Nonetheless, I would like to briefly tell you what my own grandfather told me about Roswell. In fact, I enclose for your safekeeping "samples" that were in the possession of my grandfather until he died, and which I have had since his own estate was settled. As I understand it, they came from the UFO debris, and were among a large batch subsequently sent to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio from New Mexico.

My grandfather was able to "appropriate" them, and stated that the metallic samples, are "pure extract aluminum". You will note that they appear old & tempered, and they have been placed in tissue-paper, and in baggies for posterity.
I have had them since 1974, and after considerable thought and reflection, give them to you. Feel free to share them with any of your friends in the UFO Research Community.

I have listened to many people over the years discuss Roswell and the crash events, as reported by many who were either there or who heard about it from eyewitnesses.

The recent Roswell movie, was similar to my grandfather's own account, but a critical element was left out, and it is that element which I would like to share.

As my grandad stated, the Team arrived at the crash site just after the AAF/USAF reported the ground zero location. They found two dead occupants, hurled free of the Disc.

A lone surviving occupant, was found within the Disc, and it was apparant, it's left leg was broken. There was a minimal radiation contamination, and it was quicky dispersed with a water/solvent wash, and soon the occupant was dispatched for medical assistance and isolation. The bodies were sent to the Wright-Patterson AFB, for dispersal. The debris was also loaded onto three trucks which finished the on-load just before the sunset.

Grandad was part of the Team that went with the surviving occupant. The occupant communicated via telepathic means. It spoke perfect english, and communicated the following:

The Disc was a "probeship" dispatched from a "launchship" that was stationed at the dimensional gateway to the Terran Solar System, 32 light years from Terra. They had been conducting operations on Terra for over 100 years [emphasis added].
There is much more following this, and all of it sounds pretty loopy.

Here is a transcript from 1996 of Art Bell discussing this supposed debris with Linda Moulton Howe. Lots of hazy claims, but nothing specific. Here is Bell's preliminary analysis of Art's Parts, which really doesn't tell us much.

So the debris that is now being analyzed with such fanfare by "To The Stars" is supposed to be from the alleged Roswell crash. It was sent anonymously to Art Bell, who gave it to Linda Moulton Howe to analyze, who later gave it to Tom DeLonge. Science marches on!!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

To The Stars Finishes its Series "Unidentified" - What Happens Next?

As noted in my previous posting, the six episode (First? Only?) season of "Unidentified" has ended. What is the fallout from it? What have we learned, and what can we conclude, after seeing the series? UFO researcher Tom Mellett posted to Facebook that

Lowest ever 18-49 demo at 0.17

Lowest ever Total Audience at 926K

Also, its ratings were consistently beaten by Ancient Aliens (oh, the shame!).
I was recently on Kevin Randle's podcast "A Different Perspective," to talk about the claims of "To The Stars," and other matters. (My name is spelled and misspelled inconsistently here). Randle apparently has not been closely following the details of TTSA's claims, but here he, a retired military officer, says he is puzzled by Luis Elizondo's statements about his background, his rank and assignments, etc. Randle thinks it doesn't add up. Also, we discussed the claims about the Italian police helicopter allegedly shot down by a UFO, or alternately, suffering a bird strike damaging the rotors. Randle, a former Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, says he has never heard of a bird strike on a rotor, causing damage. They experienced the occasional bird strike, but on the front of the helicopter.

Randle remarked on how even Steven Basset was calling out TTSA for their credulity - I was going to bring it up but he beat me to it - and we both commented, how credulous do you have to be for even Steven Bassett to call you gullible?!! Steven Bassett is the Energizer Bunny of Disclosure. His organization Paradigm Research Group sponsored the rather silly "Citizens' Hearing" that was supposed to mimic Congressional hearings on UFO disclosure. Here is what Basset had to say about the final episode of "Unidentified":
The sixth episode of Unidentified was flawed to the point of being grotesque. Every aspect of the production was designed to be dark including the cinematography, editing, and content, which was drenched in "threat" projection.

The TTS/AAS decided to go to Italy to address an incident involving a helicopter allegedly damaged and forced to land by a UAP. Meetings were held with Italian officials and researchers. Within the context of these meetings there was reference to a series of mysterious fires that occurred in the Italian village of Canetto di Caronia in 2004, 2005 and 2014. It was suggested these fires were caused by rays beaming out the sea where a UAP underwater base was located. Really?

It seemed clear to PRG the TTS/AAS had gone to some length to find a case that involved an "attack" by a UAP on a military vehicle. PRG was surprised at the TTS/AAS's lack of credulity regarding these assertions by the Italians. [RS - I think he means "credulity," or "lack of skepticism"].

The fires. In March of 2015 Giuseppe Pezzino and his father Antonio Pezzino were arrested and charged with arson, conspiracy to commit fraud, and sounding a false alarms pertaining to the events in Canetto di Caronia. Insurance fraud was the likely motivation. The Italian military police had installed hidden cameras in the streets after the fires started again in July 2014. Video captured about 40 incidents implicating Giuseppe and Antonio. There was also phone tap evidence. They were found guilty.

The TTS/ASS could have found this information on the Internet in 10 minutes.

The helicopter. Helicopter rotors hit birds. Also, it was not a "military" helicopter. It was the equivalent to a "police" helicopter.
Paradigm Research recently ran this ad for an new documentary about the UFO fabulist Jaime Maussan
One of Basset's recent mailings contains an ad for a documentary movie about Jaime Maussan, famous for promoting bogus UFO claims like the so-called "Roswell Slides" and other alleged dead aliens. Apparently Basset still believes Maussan's rubbish. The reason for bringing all this up is: When Steven Bassett is calling you out for being gullible, that means you must be really, really gullible.

 "On September 27, 2017, the company announced an offering pursuant to...raising $1,370,230 before closing on September 28, 2018..."

[KB] comment: This is the first time I can recall, that a figure has been shown, for how much was raised by the first stock offering. [A full subscription would have brought in $50 million , so they fell a little short.- RS].

The latest offering is "a maximum of 6,000,000 shares of Class A common stock...The cost price per set at $5.00. The minimum investment is 70 shares or $350."

[KB] comment: If all shares are subscribed to, the result would be an investment of $30,000,000.
  Risk Factors

1. "Our Aerospace and Science Divisions have no current customers and no revenues."

2. "Aerospace and scientific research and development can be risky, and there are no guarantees that any of the projects we undertake will lead to a commercially viable product."

[KB] comment: These statements are telling ones.
So what new thrills can TTSA possibly offer, in addition to a UFO shooting down a helicopter, to inspire "investors" to buy more shares? Don't forget its other big claim, to possess alien "metamaterials," supposed physical samples from UFOs. On July 25, TTSA breathlessly announced,



San Diego, CA (July 25, 2019) - To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA) has acquired multiple pieces of metamaterials and an archive of initial analysis and research for their controversial ADAM Research Project. ADAM, an acronym for Acquisition and Data Analysis of Materials, is an academic research program focused on the exploitation of exotic materials for technological innovation.

The ownership of these assets, which were previously retained and studied by investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe and are reported to have come from an advanced aerospace vehicle of unknown origin, allows TTSA to conduct rigorous scientific evaluations to determine its function and possible applications.

“The structure and composition of these materials are not from any known existing military or commercial application,” says Steve Justice, current COO of To The Stars Academy and former head of Advanced Systems at Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works."
So, TTSA gets supposed UFO samples from longtime UFOlogist Linda Moulton Howe, and they make a big deal about it. Those who have been around UFOlogy for a while know that Ms. Howe has a reputation for wild claims and sensationalism that's not quite as bad as Jaime Maussan's, but almost. She is the author of a book on Crop Circles, and other very dubious stuff.

Linda Moulton Howe smiling radiantly inside a Crop Circle.
Note how TTSA says that the samples were "previously retained and studied" by Ms. Howe. They seem to not be at all curious about what that study might have found. That supposed sample has been kicking around the halls of UFOlogy since at least 1996. It has been discussed in UFO conferences, and on Art Bell's late-night Coast-to-Coast AM radio show. UFO Watchdog has nicely summarized its history for us. He wrote that Howe arranged for
scientific technologist Nicholas A. Reiter [to examine] the alleged UFO crash debris, he also successfully replicated the metal and presented Howe with a sample. was told by Reiter that Howe reportedly scoffed at the results of the report because the replicated material was not 100% "exactly" like the alleged UFO crash debris Howe has been advertising as being mysterious. Reiter stated in a letter to, " [Linda's] opinion was that what I had offered had no resemblance to her sample. But she never did make any detailed and accurate reference to it either."
 Reiter also mentioned that Howe was reporting the mystery metal would move when high voltage was applied to it. Reiter stated that a piece of a soda can, or just about any metal for that matter, would move with enough voltage running through it.
Odd that Howe would report everything showing the piece to be unusual, yet not report on the conclusions of the report found below. On a side note, the scientific technologist that compiled this report at the request of Howe is the same scientific technologist Howe used to examine the bogus Brazil UFO Abduction. Howe wasn't apparently satisfied with those results and chose to use someone else to examine the materials after Reiter and another scientist concluded there was nothing unusual about the evidence. Howe went on to champion that case in spite of an analysis done by two scientists she has used in the past without question.
TTSA's photo of supposed alien metal sample

Reiter's conclusion was:
At the most basic of levels, we would freely state that the artifact portion provided by LMH does NOT seem to be composed of elements or compounds which are unknown. Nor is it composed of alloys that appear to be of a purity or combination beyond the scope of current material science. The artifact bears a strong resemblance to irregular layered residue often found in large physical vapor deposition (PVD) coaters. This family of filming processes includes sputtering, E-beam, and resistively heated thermal evaporation; all common vacuum processes used widely in industry. The structure of the artifact very strongly suggests long term, high rate, disordered epitaxial growth on a cold surface (chilled evaporant shield? chamber walls?).
And this is what To The Stars thinks is the greatest thing, something that takes their research into physical samples "to the next level"?  As I said before, the folks of TTSA really are "Babes in the Woods" when it comes to UFOlogy.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"To The Stars" Closes its Series "Unidentified" Triumphantly Proclaiming Long-Debunked Italian Claims

The sixth and final episode of "Unidentified," produced by Tom DeLonge, started off with a bang. "Unidentified" airs on what used to be the History channel. (Now it's all aliens, all the time, practically.)

"Lou Elizondo discovered a different class of UFOs," we are boldly informed, although exactly what class of UFOs that might be, we are not told. Probably Tic Tacs or something. "But there's one thing his investigation has never found - until now!" Get ready for it -

"Is The Truth Here?"

Wow. And true to the teaser in last week's episode, we were shown the amazing story of a UFO in Sicily in 2006 that supposedly shot down a helicopter using an electromagnetic ray. The source of this amazing tale is Clarbruno Vedruccio, one of the Italian UFOlogists who met with TTSA's Tom DeLonge and Luis Elizondo on their recent visit to Rome. He also told about a series of "mysterious fires" occurring in the vicinity of Canneto di Caronia, in the province of Messina, which he attributed to electromagnetic beams coming out of the ocean. 

Clarbruno Vedruccio, TTSA's Senior Italian Military Official Concerned about UFOs

This was not a new claim in UFOlogy. Paola Harris has been promoting it for some time, with the suggestion that it may involve an underwater UFO base nearby. Not everyone was convinced that aliens were to blame for the fires. Padre Gabriele Amorth, a Catholic priest from Rome, who was the honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists, had a ready explanation for the mysterious fires: it was the work of the devil. He explained that fires can happen “when the devil enters in the life of a person who allows him entrance.”

However, the demons and aliens were dealt a severe blow in March, 2015 when, after a lengthy investigation,  Italian police arrested one Giuseppe Pezzino, 26, for allegedly starting the "mysterious" fires occurring since 2004, with the help of his father. These incidents were investigated almost from the beginning by the Italian skeptics' group CICAP, which reported on them extensively.  Given that this case was closed four years ago, it is remarkable that Vedruccio did not seem to know about it. Or maybe he knew about the arrest of the arsonist, but chose to conceal it from his audience. In any case, it demonstrates that Vedruccio is not a reliable source of information, and that TTSA will believe practically any wild UFO-related story without actually checking it out.

At the beginning of the episode, the narrator proclaims, "They've been invited to a private meeting with senior Italian military officials concerned about UFO encounters." What that means, I'm sure, is that Vedruccio wanted to meet with them, and tell them his tall tales.

As for the helicopter that was allegedly zapped by a UFO, the photo promoting that claim comes from a local resident named Antonino Spinnato. He took a photograph that shows a helicopter, and some other object - very likely a bug. This video from the Discovery Channel UK explains his claim. Later on in the video, we see Spinnato chasing more UFOs. He claims to have seen quite a large number of UFOs down there in Sicily. A "repeater," you could definitely call him.

Antonino Spinnato's photo, showing the helicopter and the supposed UFO - probably a bug (from the video)

What happened was that in March of 2006 a MBB BK.117 helicopter of the Civil Protection Police had to make an emergency landing after "something solid" damaged three of its four main rotor blades. In the episode, Vedruccio claims that a craft appeared a few hundred meters behind a military helicopter, followed it, and shot a ray that destroyed the helicopter "wings." No evidence was shown to support this assertion, but somehow DeLonge and Elizondo found it to be very convincing! In this Italian-language interview by the team "Mystery Hunters" of local resident Nino Pezzino concerning the "mysterious fires"  he talks about the helicopter incident, saying that the pilot and the Captain felt a vibration, but they did not say anything about it to avoid creating panic. (Could this Pezzino be the father and enabler of the accused arsonist?)

This tells us a great deal about DeLonge, Elizondo, and the other supposed "experts" of TTSA. Far from being "experts," they are Babes in the Woods concerning UFOs. Keeping to themselves and other like-minded persons, never venturing outside their little bubble of group-think, they seem completely unaware of the long history of error, self-delusion, and hoaxing that constitutes the sordid spectacle of UFOlogy. They make statements and gaffes that betray complete ignorance of what has occurred before them in UFOlogy, yet they bluff their way to convincing gullible reporters for major news organizations to take what they say very seriously. (Speaking of reporters, TTSA's pet reporter, Bryan Bender of Politico, once again appeared several times, explaining how significant and wonderful everything is that TTSA is doing.)

So ends Season 1 of "Unidentified". Will there be a Season 2? If so, TTSA will have to find some more blurry UFO videos to play over and over and over again, while giving us no credible reasons to take seriously what they say. But a lot of awful shows have been given new seasons lately, and I'm sure that, if given the chance, TTSA can produce a second season just as ludicrous as this one.