Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Añjali and her Aliens - Another Black Eye for UFOOL-ogy

Every time UFOlogy seems to be succeeding in promoting itself as a serious field of study, it then proves that it isn't. It seems that from time to time UFOlogy cannot help but make major blunders, getting tremendously excited over claims that later turn out to be totally bogus:

  • George Adamski, and other Contactee, hoaxes
  • Billy Meier hoaxes
  • Gulf Breeze hoaxes
  • credulous acceptance of various crashed saucer claims
  • repeated claims of 'disclosure' happening very soon
  • The Roswell Slides, etc. etc.
Añjali's Linkedin Profile, Retrieved in September, 2021 by Charlie Wiser.

And now UFOlogy has another major blunder to acknowledge, the story of Angelia Schultz, a.k.a. Añjali, who caused great excitement in UFOlogy by claiming that very soon she will lead a team of researchers to a cave in the Mojave Desert to meet aliens. And not just any aliens - they are "Higher Beings of Light." Several people well-connected to the pulse of UFOlogy told me that this Añjali story was currently the biggest thing happening  (this was a few months back), bigger even than the excitement over Pentagon UFOs. As reported on Mystery Wire on August 23,

Somewhere deep in the Mojave Desert in the southwest of the United States is a hidden base inside a mountain where extraterrestrials live. This is the claim from a self-described retired defense intelligence officer who now goes by the alias Añjali.

Wednesday morning the woman, whose original name is Angelia Lynn Johnston, held a news conference in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Here she announced she will be bringing an astronaut and scientists to the secret base and to meet with the “higher beings”. Añjali said she met the beings on January 21, 2018.

There is not a date for the event yet but Añjali said it will happen before the end of 2021.

Añjali's stories are so bizarre as to defy belief, even if you leave out the aliens. She sees dead people. But for some reason so many found her to be credible. I only have time to give you a summary of the whole crazy Añjali story. Charlie Wiser has the details for those wanting to dig deeper:

Añjali claims to be an elevated consciousness from the planet Orion who chose to be reincarnated on Earth in order to be a mouthpiece for higher beings who want us to urgently transcend into the 4th density. Those who don't transcend will respawn on Orion where they'll be more comfortable.

Now this is so obviously typical New Age garbage that any sensible person should immediately reject it as such. And yet Añjali seemed to many to be unique and credible. Why? A few years ago, she ran for state office as a Democrat while living in South Dakota, and while she didn't win, she did well enough to be considered "the future" of the Democratic party in South Dakota. More to the point, she had worked as an intelligence analyst in Washington, DC. To some people, this suggests that she knows 'secrets about saucers'. Añjali underwent hypnotic regression by Barbara Lamb, who is well known in UFOOLogy for her work with supposed alien abductees and alien hybrids. Añjali said things like, 

To help prepare humanity for contact and movement into a higher density and to help bring awareness to humanity so that it will elevate its consciousness and vibrate into the 4th density. Only those with elevated conscious awareness of their oneness with the source will transcend into the 4th density and the others won't be here anymore. 

I trust that is perfectly clear!

Añjali on "Fade to Black" with UFO Bad-ass Jimmy Church (who can't spell)

What was unique about the Añjali story was A), it claimed that the aliens could be found in a specific, known place in the desert, and B) before the year was out, she was going to lead a distinguished team of investigators to that very spot to meet them! "The higher beings want disclosure. They are pushing disclosure, guiding it. They want soft disclosure, in the form of the team who will bring evidence to the general public. Following this, the higher beings will initiate public contact."

Añjali's story is summarized in Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country as follows:

In her August 17 press conference, held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Schultz reported that on January 21, 2018, she was approached by two individuals that she refers to as Wayne and Trisha while sitting in a coffee shop in Southern California. The trio discussed the nature of consciousness and Schultz’s illness, when Wayne told her about a tunnel he had excavated under his property after encountering what he referred to as aliens that told him they had a base in a nearby mountain. Wayne invited her to his home so that she could visit the tunnel; she took him up on the offer, and entered the tunnel with Wayne, Trisha and two other individuals.

After rounding a corner in the tunnel, the group encountered two different types of beings: a Gray, accompanied by a number of very tall human-like beings with fine, white hair and what Schultz describes as “radiant” and “nearly alabaster” complexions. The beings greeted her by name, and said that they had been waiting to talk to her. They took Schultz into their base, and to a room where she met numerous other beings, including an 8-foot-tall lavender-colored praying mantis-type being that Schultz recognized from earlier encounters.

The visit was said to be terminated when she and Wayne were "teleported" back to his house. If that statement alone is not enough to establish that this entire story is either a hallucination, or else deliberate fiction, I can't imagine what more one requires.

Then Añjali began to talk about the "expedition" that she was going to organize to go back to Wayne's mountain, and select qualified experts to accompany her. She promised that

This will be "one of the most scientifically-esteemed teams ever assembled" with "highly reputable peer-reviewed professionals representing specialized scientific and social industry". Anjali has confirmed the following members:
Roderick Martin, MUFON investigator and podcaster [Reddit, Aug 3]
"a 'community representative-at-large' who is millennial, a veteran, just 'a guy' who is putting in the effort to understand himself and his relationship with the world. He is kind young man, gentle, humble, quiet. I have grown to love him very much, and it will be such a joy to give him this opportunity." [Reddit, Aug 11]
a director/producer (with film crew) [Reddit, Aug 11)
an astronaut [presser, Aug 17]
a well-known documentarian [presser, Aug 17]
a well-known chief investigative reporter [presser, Aug 17]

She is looking for academics, physicists, and astronomers. There will be an A team and a back-up B team in case anyone from the A team can't make it.... Twitter randos for Team A and Team B will be nominated by the public via a Twitter poll - "trusted figures from within the #UFO community". Undesirable team members are Joe Rogan, Mick West.

Añjali's 8-foot tall lavender being
(from Charlie Wiser)
But, who is Wayne? Or, for that matter, is this "Wayne" a real person, a pseudonym, or even a fictional character? Of late Añjali has been waffling about all of this. But based on a number of Añjali's earlier statements and affirmations, several investigators claimed to have independently identified this Wayne, and contacted him. One told me that Wayne "is very aggressive, rude and only cares about money," which somehow is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is the location the aliens seem to have chosen for their desert hideout. I had expected that this expedition into the desert would involve 4-wheel drive vehicles with large containers of water and gasoline. Well, not exactly. Assuming that this is the correct Wayne (which it appears to be), the aliens' tunnel (if it existed) would be in a small mountain tucked between two suburban housing developments less than a thirty-minute drive from downtown San Bernardino, California. Forget the 4-wheel drive vehicles - you could park your little subcompact car on a nearby paved street, then easily walk in. At least Adamski and Van Tassell had the wisdom to choose a properly impressive desert location to encounter extraterrestrials!

But it was not at all clear that Wayne had approved (or even knew about!) this proposed expedition to his property. She said she hadn't talked to him in a long time. Añjali was asked directly about this several times, and waffled. She hinted that the Higher Beings had approved the expedition, so Wayne's approval wasn't important. It soon became clear that Añjali had announced this expedition to Wayne's property before even informing him about it, let alone getting his approval! Then, on November 2, Añjali finally stated the obvious: the expedition was being "postponed" because "Wayne has now said that no one may enter his property." Oops! This has got to be one of the stupidest blunders one could possibly make. Further evidence that UFOlogy and UFOOLogy are joined at the hip.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Harvard's "Galileo Project" Meets Tom DeLonge's "To The Stars"

From 2017 until the end of last year, the attention of the UFO world was focused almost solely on the "To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences" of rocker Tom DeLonge. It was going to mix advanced science with entertainment, and sold shares to credulous "investors." It produced two seasons of a successful cable TV series, Unidentified. (The show was filled with absurdity and misinformation, but apparently got good ratings.) "To The Stars" first introduced the public to the three leaked Navy UFO videos: the Tic Tac, the Go Fast, and the Gimble. The media attention was practically nonstop.

To The Stars' now-shuttered "Flagship Retail Store" in Encinitas, California - Feb. 29, 2020.

But ultimately, it could not last. Tom DeLonge is demonstrably a credulous fool (if an ambitious one), an embarrassment to any serious person associated with him. (Those who looked carefully would see that DeLonge's top people were not much better than him in terms of credibility, but the media almost never really looks at UFO claims with a skeptical eye.) For reasons never fully explained, To The Stars has effectively folded, and there was much speculation about what the TTSA alumni would do next.

We now know what at least two of them will be doing: the Galileo Project of Dr. Avi Loeb at Harvard announced that Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon, formerly of TTSA, would be joining them.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — October 30, 2021 — Today the Galileo Project lead Professor Avi Loeb announced the additions of Mr. Luis Elizondo and Mr. Christopher Mellon to the project team as research affiliates. Noting their depth of experience investigating the subject of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), and their shared interest in open and transparent study of the phenomena, Loeb welcomed them as the latest members of a diverse and growing Galileo Project team.

“The Galileo Project will greatly benefit from the broad knowledge base and wisdom of Elizondo and Mellon,” said Professor Loeb. “We all share the goal of identifying the nature of UAP and of anomalous interstellar objects like `Oumuamua.”
For some reason, while Dr. Loeb's announcement summarizes the background and experience of each, it carefully makes no mention of "To The Stars" or of Tom DeLonge. Obviously, they find this previous association quite embarrassing.

Tom DeLonge (left) and Luis Elizondo (right) speaking to an Italian UFO group in 2018.

About Elizondo, the Galileo Project says:

Luis Elizondo is a former counterintelligence special agent and the former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). He served in the U.S. Army in intelligence for twenty years, followed by 9 years of defense intelligence work in the Pentagon. In 2017, Elizondo resigned from his position in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, citing the need for more public exposure and governmental cooperation in the study of UAP. In the private sector, Elizondo was responsible for the distribution of the declassified Pentagon videos. He has served as advisor and public speaker across numerous programs.

Elizondo has long claimed to have been the former director of the Pentagon's AATIP program, but there is no documentary proof of this. In fact, there's no documentary proof of that program at all, in terms of a budget or mission statement or anything else definite. Some people have said that the AATIP and AAWSAP (Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Application, which funneled $22 million to Robert Bigelow's BAASS) program were the same. But James Lacatski, the only person we know to have worked on AAWSAP, recently compared the two programs while he was on Coast to Coast radio:

But there was a difference between the two programs. Ours (AAWSAP) had $22 million dollars in funding, his (AATIP) had zero. Ours looked at military and civilian investigations, his looked at military exclusively. And we had, of course, contractor and subcontractor support. He had no contractor support. But he did his thing, we did ours. But I can say that in direct answer to your question, we were the only game in town, I would say from 2008 through 2012.
Elizondo's AATIP had zero funding. Zero! Big important government project!! So AATIP seems to have been more of a sideline, or hobby project. Something Elizondo, and probably his pals, did in their spare time. Not an actual, sponsored government investigation. And John Greenewald of the Black Vault recently revealed FOIA documents showing that neither AATIP nor AAWSAP had "any mission statement, objective, or outline that they could find," which is extremely unusual for a Pentagon program.

And more interesting "disclosures" from Elizondo continue to turn up. His recent appearance on Curt Jaimungal's Theory of Everything podcast was particularly revealing: "Luis Elizondo on Biological UFO Samples, Remote Viewing, and explaining "Somber"." The host asked him about Remote Viewing - the alleged power to "see" things psychically at a great distance, or even back in time - "I believe you dabbled in that." Elizondo did not deny this in any way, but instead did the usual verbal dance he does around extraordinary claims. He hints that it could be true, but also hints that it is secret, and he can't talk about it. Some describe this approach as Elizondo 'dropping breadcrumbs' for people to follow. He does it a lot. Here is another example from that same podcast:

Have there potentially been biological samples recovered? Yes. I’m not going to expound on that … and be careful when I say that. I’m being purposely very open and vague at the same time, right? What does that mean? Well, it means what it means.

A perfectly ridiculous statement. Also on that podcast, Elizondo was asked if there are any photos showing "occupants" inside their craft. He replied, “There are some very compelling photos out there that seem to show something inside, some sort of occupancy, and I’ll leave it at that ….”

Elizondo was interviewed by the Roswell Daily Record on June 26. Asked what were his thoughts about the supposed Roswell crash, he replied,

Before I was part of AATIP, I had no idea about Roswell, other than that there was sort of some alleged crash at some point and some farmer found debris — but during my time with AATIP, there was some very interesting anecdotal information that suggests there wasn’t just one crash, there may have been actually two crashes, and that somehow it may have been related to some sort of testing that was being done at the time at White Sands, and that material was recovered.

And that material that was recovered, samples of that material actually found their way into the hands of private citizens, some of them, but that the … allegedly the larger sections of debris were all recovered by the U.S. Government....  But again, I will share with you that it was, from my understanding, it wasn’t actually one, it was two crashes, and it may have been related to some sort of nuclear-type testing of technology that we were doing, atomic and/or nuclear technology at Los Alamos at the time.
OK. Not just one saucer crashed near Roswell, but two. Too bad Elizondo doesn't have any proof of any of this.

Tom DeLonge's press conference in 2017 with TTSA Academy team members Chris Mellon and Luis Elizondo. Next: Steve Justice, Hal Puthoff, and Jim Semivan.

About Chris Mellon, the Galileo Project says:

Christopher Mellon brings over twenty years of experience in defense intelligence and national security affairs, including serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In the private sector, Mellon has outspokenly pushed for public awareness and governmental accountability regarding the subject of UAP. Like Elizondo, he has served as advisor and on-screen expert for numerous documentaries and television programming.

Mellon had been the Chairman of TTSA's Advisory Board, and participated in many press conferences and media events. He has admitted to being the source who leaked TTSA's famous 'three videos' to the New York Times.  When the Navy formulated new procedures in 2019 for reporting "UAPs", Tom DeLonge credited this development to Chris Mellon:

This is a DIRECT RESULT of @tothestarsacademy’s quiet efforts coordinating briefings to the Legislative and Executive Branch, working with the Navy and others at the highest levels to help create an architecture for dealing with the reality of UFOs. Chris Mellon, Chairman of the TTSA ADVISORY BOARD, worked for the greater part of the year on this breakthrough National Security Policy—- And yes, this is an admission that these Unidentified Aerial Vehicles are real, and @tothestarsacademy organized this entire effort. Thank you to everyone for believing in us... But, there is much more to come.

When Mellon was interviewed on Fox & Friends on May 26, he had no doubt about what was happening:

We know that UFOs exist. This is no longer an issue. The issue is why are they here? Where are they coming from and what is the technology behind these devices that we are observing? .....Pilots observing these craft are absolutely mystified and that comes through clearly in their public statements...These are reactions between intelligently controlled vehicles operating in and around U.S. military facilities, hence the concern.

So the Galileo Project seems to have picked up some valuable 'UAP talent' here. The project's motto is "Daring to Look Through New Telescopes." With Elizondo on board, they won't even need telescopes - he can just Remote View the alien probes from the comfort of home.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Is the O'Hare Airport UFO Case still "A Great Case"?

Previously UFO blogger David Bates posted part one of his reply to my long, three-part article about "The New Yorker's Credulous Article on Pentagon UFOs,"   to which I replied here. Mostly, it was about the supposed "Kecksburg, PA UFO crash," which was based on misperceptions of a brilliant fireball meteor widely seen over hundreds of miles. Now we are looking at part two of Bates' reply, titled "The O’Hare Field UFO Remains a Great Case." He continues, "When Skeptical Inquirer’s Robert Sheaffer tries to debunk a pesky UAP sighting with a ridiculous scientific theory of his own, it doesn’t go well."

First, I should point out that this is not really Skeptical Inquirer's article: it is mine, from my Bad UFOs blog. SI's editor Kendrick Frazier asked me for permission to reprint the Blog article in his January/February, 2021 issue (all three parts of it), and I said OK. And I'm not affiliated with Skeptical Inquirer any longer, or with CSI(COP). I first became a Fellow of CSICOP in 1977. It was an exhilarating experience, meeting and talking with people like Martin Gardner, James "Amazing" Randi, Isaac Asimov, and many others. Unfortunately, over the years, CSI and its parent organization CFI have morphed into something more like Social Justice organizations than an unbiased evaluator of purportedly factual claims.

The author's photo of a partially-obscured hole-punch cloud, taken in Tucson, Arizona, March 6, 2014.

Bates' summary of the O'Hare Field case is as follows: 

Basically, on an overcast afternoon, an actual “flying-saucer”-like object was spotted over United Airlines’ Gate C17 in Concourse C by pilots, ground crew, mechanics and other witnesses in various locations. It was described as between six and 24 feet in diameter hovering below the clouds. Some said it was spinning like a Frisbee; others said it wasn’t. It was reportedly dark grey and silent, had no lights, and was very distinct against the low cloud deck, which witnesses estimated to be several hundred feet above it. Despite the variations and contradictions to be found in the testimony, witnesses agreed on one point: It was a clearly an object that was quite distinct from and separate from the clouds. Witnesses said it eventually shot almost straight up, vanishing in the blink of an eye and punching a perfectly round hole through the clouds that remained for a few minutes before closing. The UAP did not appear on radar.

Leslie Kean is a well-known UFO author and ghost experiencer who Bates is trying to defend from my criticisms, and those of other skeptics. Describing the O'Hare Field UFO, Kean says  “the suspended disc suddenly shot up at an incredible speed and was gone in less than a second, leaving a crisp, cookie-cutter-like hole in the dense clouds. The opening was approximately the same size as the object  and those directly underneath it could see blue sky visible on the other side,.” which sounds like a perfect description of a hole-punch cloud. However, her suggestion is preposterous. When objects pass through clouds (especially at high speeds), they do not leave crisp-edged holes in the shape of the object, like a cartoon character running into a wall. The result is a swirling mass of turbulent clouds, not a crisp, cookie-cutter-like hole. But UFO proponents have an explanation for this: "a high-energy, round object very likely to be emitting some form of intense radiation or heat while cutting through the cloud bank," according to Kean. Way to go, Leslie - when you encounter difficulties with your speculative hypothesis, invent something even more speculative and  improbable to fix it.

Hoaxed O'Hare UFO photo from Showtime's
UFO Series (hat tip to Danny Miller)

So, an actual 'flying saucer' supposedly appeared over UAL Gate C-17 at O'Hare field, but apparently not any other gates. Nobody saw it at gates C-15, or B-11, or any other gate. None of the air traffic controllers in the tower saw it. It was not seen on radar, despite somehow turning up in one of the most heavily radar-monitored locations anywhere. And nobody took any photos of this most amazing sight. Bates agrees with me that "no authenticated photographs have ever surfaced," although the recent sensationalist UFO series on Showtime purports to show a photo of the O'Hare UFO. But it's bogus. Writing in Above Top Secret in 2007, Jeff Ritzmann demonstrates that this photo is a fake, although producers of TV UFO "documentaries" don't seem to care..

In my article, I noted the similarity of the reported circular object to a "hole punch cloud." Two cloud layers were reported at O'Hare field at that time: One was an "overcast" layer at about 1,900 feet, the second around 8,000-9,000 feet. He writes that  "the temperature at 1,900 feet that day was 53 degrees — much too warm for a hole-punch cloud."

With which I agree. He objects to my suggestion that the hole was in a higher layer of clouds: 

a sky “completely overcast” with “dense clouds” poses no obstacle for Sheaffer’s imagined scenario: It “could easily” have happened.
Bates does not seem to know the definition of "overcast:"
Overcast or overcast weather, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization, is the meteorological condition of clouds obscuring at least 95% of the sky

So if clouds covered at least 95% of the sky, the meteorologist would record "overcast" conditions. And 95% is not the same as 100%. So there is no objection whatever to suggesting that occasional holes in a layer of "overcast" would allow relatively brief glimpses of whatever lies above it. Bates objects that

In preparing this article, we looked at more than 150 images of hole-punch clouds. They are, to be sure, fascinating phenomena. In all but a few of the images turned up in a Google image search, the cloud’s opening is nowhere near a “crisp cookie-cutter-like hole,” which was Sheaffer’s (apparently accurate) description of what the O’Hare UFO left behind.

However, the photo on page 47 of his much-hyped NARCAP report shows an almost perfectly round hole-punch cloud, with only a small feathery foreground cloud obscuring it. He also probably didn't see the photos of this phenomenon that were on a NOAA website, taken in central Wisconsin exactly eight days after the O'Hare field "incursion." Satellite photos show that weather pattern covering all of southern Wisconsin and adjacent northern Illinois.

As for that higher level of clouds, he writes, 

Had Sheaffer carefully read the NARCAP report’s collection of weather data, he would have known that there was a second cloud layer above: It was between 8,000 and 9,000 feet — and the freezing level was 1,000 feet above that. Hole-punch clouds occur naturally only when ice crystals form.

“You can’t get new ice forming in a cloud that is above the freezing point,” one meteorologist told me. “Typically, clouds need to be substantially colder than freezing, about five to minus four degrees Fahrenheit on average before they begin to form any ice.”
So he is saying, 'close, but no cigar for your hole punch theory.' But he neglected one important factor in the matter: airplanes.
Studies, including this one by Andrew Heymsfield and collaborators, have shown that aircraft passing through these cloud layers can trigger the formation of the heavier ice crystals, which fall to Earth and then leave the circular void in the blanket of clouds.

They concluded that aircraft propellers and wings cause the formation of those initial ice crystals. There are zones of locally low pressure along the wing and propeller tips which allow the air to expand and cool well below the original temperature of the cloud layer, forming ice crystals...

Andrew Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research spoke with EarthSky some years ago, when his study first appeared. He told us:

This whole idea of jet aircraft making these features has to do with cooling of air over the wings that generates ice.

His team found that – at lower altitudes – jets can punch holes in clouds and make small amounts of rain and snow. As a plane flies through mid-level clouds, it forces air to expand rapidly and cool. Water droplets in the cloud freeze to ice and then turn to snow as they fall. The gap expands to create spectacular holes in the clouds. [emphasis added]


Airplanes can cause hole-punch clouds!

Do you think there might have been any airplanes flying around O'Hare Field at that time? 😏

Finally, we note how Bates complains, "Sheaffer’s “skepticism” regarding witness testimony (in this and other UFO cases) knows no bounds." Such words sound very naive to the experienced UFO researcher. Having researched claims about UFOs for over fifty years, I am well aware of the fallibility of human eyewitness testimony. Since Mr. Bates seems to naively trust such accounts as being basically reliable (as does Leslie Kean), I suggest that he start out by reading Allan Hendry's classic The UFO  Handbook, published back in 1979. Hendry was the chief investigator for Dr. J. Allen Hynek's Center for UFO Studies, and Hynek wrote the foreword to this book. Hendry's meticulous investigations into some extremely dramatic cases revealed them to be the result of colossal misperceptions by the observers. This made him very unpopular among UFOlogists.

Bates might also want to consider why the world's first scientific organization, the Royal Society in London founded in 1660, chose as its motto Nullius in Verba - "take nobody's word for it." More than 350 years ago, they recognized that science cannot be based upon mere, uncorroborated words. The lesson many UFOlogists have yet to learn is: Nullius in Verba.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A "Professional Skeptic" Replies to Kecksburg Defense

On April 30, 2021 the normally serious New Yorker has dropped a very misleading article titled "How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously."  It was very long. Authored by Gideon Lewis-Kraus, a lot of it was about UFO promoter Leslie Kean, and what wonderful things she has done to bring the reality of UFOdumb to the masses.

On May 8 I wrote a reply to it on this Blog, titled "The New Yorker's Credulous Article on Pentagon UFOs." It was in three parts, so it was pretty long, but not as long as the New Yorker article. That Blog entry was reprinted in the Skeptical Inquirer, September/October, 2021.

David Bates' vision of Skeptical Gotterdammerung.
On September 6, on the Blog "On the Trail of the Saucers," David Bates wrote "A ‘Skeptic’ Aims at Kecksburg’s UFO and The New Yorker — and misses. Skeptical Inquirer ‘debunker’ Robert Sheaffer uses obfuscation and omission to dismiss an exhaustively documented UFO case." His piece is shorter than mine, largely because he concentrates mostly on one case, the famous Kecksburg, Pennsylvania "UFO crash" of 1965. But he promises more such articles, calling this one "Twilight of the Skeptics, Part 1."

This posting is my reply to Bates' article. It will hopefully be shorter than his.

Bates objects to my use of the term "hagiography" to describe Gideon Lewis-Kraus' write-up of Leslie Kean, a term generally used for religious books praising saints, although it frankly seems to me to be appropriate. He writes, 

If Sheaffer really wants to unpack hagiographical prose, the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Skeptical Inquirer offers a smorgasbord: Remembrances of the late “Amazing” James Randi — a stage magician and scientific skeptic who frequently challenged paranormal and “pseudoscientific” claims in the magazine before he died in 2015.

The Amazing Randi prepares to bend a spoon non-psychically at the final Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas in 2015, as Ray Hyman looks on. (Photo by author.)

Apart from that fact that Randi died in 2020, not 2015, and that he hadn't been associated with CSI(COP) for about thirty years before that, I might accept Bates' description of the Randi tributes. But there is a huge difference here: Randi got things right, while Kean got a lot of important things wrong. Randi is best known for his debunking of Uri Geller's claims to have magic powers, and time has proven his skepticism correct. (Geller continues to flounder about seeking attention, but isn't having a lot of success. One of Geller's main investigators and proponents, Hal Puthoff, has moved on to work on the paranormal promotions of Tom DeLonge and Robert Bigelow.) Randi also exposed gullibility in a major parapsychology lab, and exposed phony "Faith Healers" like Peter Popoff. Randi was sometimes careless, and would occasionally make mistakes like the one Bates made above, but Randi made no major errors in his skepticism. He never tried to "debunk" anything that was actually true. Whereas Leslie Kean got a whole lot of big things wrong, although her followers seem either unaware of this, or else don't care. Here are a few:

There is also the fact that, unlike Randi, Leslie Kean didn't even have to die to get her hagiography! 😏 But she clearly doesn't deserve one.

Bates writes, "For now, we’ll focus on one of the lesser-known cases: the Kecksburg incident, sometimes referred to (with good reason) as Pennsylvania’s Roswell. The transparently disingenuous manner in which Sheaffer dismisses it as little more than a ufologist’s fever dream reveals a lot about how professional UFO “skeptics” get to where they want to go." OK, show me. He zooms in on the following quote from my article:

For another “really good” case, Kean selected an incident that occurred in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, a rural hamlet southeast of Pittsburgh, on December 9, 1965, in which an object the size of a Volkswagen Beetle allegedly hurtled from the sky. According to multiple witnesses, the acorn-shaped bulk had been removed from the woods on a flatbed truck as service members guarded the area with guns.
Allegedly. The problem is, we know exactly what people saw in the sky near Kecksburg — and indeed, across the entire region. It was the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965, well documented in Sky and Telescope magazine (February 1966) and other astronomical publications. This has been pointed out repeatedly by skeptics for decades, but somehow the word doesn’t seem to have reached Kean.

He objects,

First of all, to declare that “we know exactly what people saw in the sky near Kecksburg” does not mean that the object, whatever it was, was identified. It was not identified. It was described as “a fireball” and presumed to be meteor.
Sheaffer does not (and, more to the point, cannot) direct readers to any museum or academic institution where one might gaze upon definitive proof that the Great Lakes Fireball was, in fact, a meteor — because there isn’t any.

Bates seems to think that every bright meteor seen in the sky is somehow recovered, then displayed in a museum or university somewhere! It might surprise him to learn that very few meteors actually reach the ground. And of course, not all of those that do are recovered.

Astronomers Von Del Chamberlain and David J. Krause of the Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University in East Lansing did an in-depth study of the reports of the Dec. 9th fireball from across a wide area of the U.S. and Canada. They published a scientific paper in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Aug. 1967- Vol. 61 no. 4, pp. 184-90). This object was in fact over a hundred miles from Kecksburg, "disappearing at a point over land some 15 miles south-east of Windsor [Ontario]". (Witnesses typically greatly underestimate the distance to brilliant fireballs such as this. See UFOs Explained by Philip J. Klass.)  "The usual rash of early reports gave 'landing sites' for the object ranging from western Michigan to Pennsylvania... Loud sonic booms were heard in the Detroit-Windsor region." Using photographs of the object's trail from two different locations, Chamberlain and Krause were able to calculate the orbit of the meteor before it entered the earth's atmosphere. You can retrieve the full article on-line here .

Chamberlain published a second scientific paper about the fireball: Chamberlain, Von Del, 1968: Meteorites of Michigan, Geological Survey Bulletin 5, East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Department of Conservation, Geological Survey Division, pp. 1-5.

Another article about it, titled "Great Lakes Fireball", was published in the February, 1966 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, page 78. (See part of the article here.) In it, G. W. Wetherill, a professor of geophysics and geology at UCLA who investigated the incident, is quoted:

The fireball was observed by many people in Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and to a lesser extent in neighboring states. In newspaper accounts, a great many supposed impact sites were reported, both in southwestern Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Fragments were claimed to have fallen in Ohio and Michigan.

These imagined happenings arose from the impossibility of estimating the distance of an object in the sky. Almost everyone who saw the fireball thought it was much closer than it really was. When it disappeared behind a house or a tree many people thought it had fallen only a few hundred yards beyond (emphasis added).

The people of Kecksburg were not the only people who wrongly thought that the Great Lakes Fireball had crashed in their vicinity. Skeptic Tim Printy has compiled an excellent list showing that many other people in the region made that same mistake. Quoting from news stories:

Near Lapeer, Mich., 40 miles north of Detroit, police will again search a swamp where a sheriff's deputy, Lenny Tolly, found shredded foil Thursday. "It looks like it may have come from the deal (the fireball)," said Tolly. He said the foil was made of lead and shredded in strips one sixteenth of an inch wide.

In Michigan, several children found strange metallic-particles which may have been thrown off by the disintegrating fireball as it plunged through the air Thursday night. Brian Parent and Larry Jones, Mich., both 11,of Livonia, Mich said they picked up a piece of lightweight grayish fused metal about the size of a baseball which fell into a field. Smaller chunks of similar material,' were found by children in Warren, Mich.

Near Jackson [Michigan],13 -year -old Roy Root found a 15 -pound metallic object in a field near his farm home at Concord. He told newsmen the object was in a hole two feet deep and was still hot when it was discovered.

The Coast Guard in Detroit got a report of an airplane down in the river that separates Detroit and Windsor, Canada. Boats searched and found nothing.

Raymond Wallings, a pilot of Painesville [Ohio] even reported that "he saw a flaming chunk drop into Lake Erie"

In Toledo, where the fireball was first reported, residents saw a blinding flash of blue-white light in the sky northeast of the city. Switchboards lighted up almost instantly, most of the callers believing a plane had exploded.

A boy reported seeing a flaming object fell from the sky into the woods near his home on the outskirts of Cleveland, but sheriff's officers dispatched to the 'area near the village of North Eaton found nothing.

Mrs. Steven Ferency, 154 Longfellow St. {Elyria, Ohio], who was walking on North Logan St at 4:40 PM saw an "orange ball with a white streak behind it" streak to the ground near some Cleveland St. homes.

In Elyria, Mrs. Ralph Richards, 2301 West River Rd. North, reported seeing a fireball " the size of a volleyball" plunge into the woods across from her home. It was apparently the fragment which caused the fires.

Lt. Jack Trumbull of Elyria said the concentrated pattern of the fires led him to believe they could have been touched off by a fireball or meteor which shattered as it hit the ground.

A group of children playing near a school in Lorain reported another chunk dropped into a schoolyard.

The threesome with a sudden awakened interest in Astronomy and meteorites are twins Joe and Mike Kovacs, 11, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kovacs, 629 Hilliard Rd [Elyria, OH] and Bryan Schue, 10,son of Mr and Mrs Charles Schue, 618 Hilliard Rd... The three boys, all students at Spring Valley School, found the 10 pieces in their yards. The fragments weighed approximately six ounces apeice In color they are metallic blue, at first glance resembling 'clinkers" from a coal furnace Closer examination reveals unusual gaseous-formed bubbles on the surface and extending into the heart of the material. The pieces were still warm when picked up the boys reports and had "a smokey smell" about them. Joe Kovacs found the first piece in the backyard at his home before going to school yesterday morning. He launched his search after hearing radio reports about the fireball he explained.

Eight-year old Nevin Kalp near Kecksburg saw the fireball and reported it to his mother. She stated, "...it looked like a flaming star. It left a trail of flames behind it and fell in the woods." Mrs. Kalp commented that she saw some smoke but it eventually turned cloudy.

This last one was, of course, the sighting that set off all the excitement in Kecksburg. Printy concludes this section,

The smoke Mrs. Kalp reported was in the direction of the woods and she reported it to the local radio almost two hours after the event. Mrs. Kalp was then beseiged by phone calls and it took intervention by the operator for the state police to get a hold of her. The search for the fragments would eventually take on a carnival-like atmosphere with the media, state police, and, eventually, the US Air Force racing towards this sleepy part of Pennsylvania.
So we see that authorities were called out to search for supposed debris from the Great Lakes Fireball allegedly crashing nearby in

  • Lapeer, Michigan
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Elyria, Ohio
  • Kecksburg, Pennsylvania
And likely in other places that we haven't yet heard about. All of them, false alarms. David Bates would have us believe that all of those other claims of debris from a crashing fireball, and searches by authorities were mistaken, except for the one from Kecksburg. Presumably, Bates would have us believe that a mystery UFO appeared at the exact same time as the Great Lakes Fireball, moving in the same direction, and crashed in Kecksburg, even though the fireball itself appears to have disintegrated over southern Ontario or nearby Lake Erie. That would be an astonishing coincidence!

Unless he wants to argue that the Great Lakes Fireball was really the same object that supposedly crashed near Kecksburg. But then he has a bigger problem that the breakup of the fireball, as determined by its direction as seen in many widespread places, occurred far north and west of Kecksburg. The object never made it as far east as Pennsylvania.

Bates is correct that I ignored the supposed eyewitness accounts of military retrieval of an acorn-like object near Kecksburg. Tim Printy offers a good explanation of why we should ignore them:

In the late 1970's, Kecksburg resurfaced in UFO lore. This time UFOlogists were interested in making this into a major crashed Spaceship story. As early as 1980, efforts were being made to find witnesses to the event that would attest to a crashed spaceship being recovered. A Pittsburgh radio program hosted by John Signa had presented UFO investigator Clark McClelland, who discussed the events of that evening based on what he had found. As a result, several of the witnesses called including Robert Bitner and James Mayes to tell the story about the Military retrieving something from the woods. This was the beginning of the Kecksburg legend.

In 1989, Robert Barry hosted a show on a WGCB-TV that included mentioning the Kecksburg recovery. Now NASA was involved as well. According to Robert Young:
Barry says that years ago he was told by an unnamed NASA informant that the Kecksburg UFO had been tracked...Barry also reported , citing Stan Gordon as his source, that a 1965 member of the Kecksburg Fire Company claims it had been contacted by NASA before the UFO crashed and asked to keep the public away from the area.
By this point in time, Stan Gordon, of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the Pennsylvania Association for the Study of the Unexplained (PASU), had taken over the case and even produced a video about the events. What resulted was a tale that mimicked the infamous Roswell case. Individuals suddenly appeared with privileged knowledge about the case, which included covert military convoys, military threats, and, of course, a crashed UFO.

Stan Gordon - UFOs and Cryptids-R-Us.
n Gordon is well-known in paranormal circles, and is considered the primary researcher on the Kecksburg "UFO crash.". He not only promotes UFOs, but also sightings of Bigfoot and other "cryptids." (I bet you didn't know that Bigfoot and other Cryptids live in Pennsylvania? They do. Just look at Stan's website.)

So the reports of military involvement and retrieval are "me too" accounts surfacing many years later, at the urging of dedicated mystery-mongers. This often happens in the wake of highly-publicized UFO claims. We have seen this in the Roswell case, Pascagoula, Phoenix Lights, etc., etc., etc. If a corroborating story or photo involving a major case suddenly 'turns up' years later, and only after major publicity has been given the incident, then it should be ignored.

So we see that the so-called Kecksburg UFO Crash is not nearly as credible as Bates, Leslie Kean, and their pals would have us believe (even though most of them will completely ignore this explanation).

We will gave the last word on the Kecksburg "UFO Crash"  to the venerable Zippy the Pinhead. The mention of a "Soviet rocket" refers to an early hypothesis that the Great Lakes Fireball was caused by the re-entry of a damaged Soviet spacecraft, Cosmos 96/Venera. But the astronomers' analysis of the fireball's path rules out that possibility, and further analysis suggested that the orbit of the Cosmos 96 had already decayed by the time of the Fireball.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Case of the Missing Fetus, Starring Travis Walton

 In another startling development in the unraveling of the Travis Walton story,  Travis was the guest on August 7 on the Theory of Everything podcast, hosted by Curt Jaimungal, a mathematical physicist. His podcast is affiliated with that of Brian Keating, who is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences in the Department of Physics at University of California, San Diego. While I understand and applaud a scientist's curiosity to explore the unknown, I cannot imagine why scientists like them would take someone like Travis Walton seriously. A hint to scientists dealing with claims of the 'paranormal': do a little historical investigation to learn why Nullius In Verba, "Take Nobody's Word for it," became the motto of the Royal Society of London, the world's first scientific society in the 17th Century. Words themselves count for nothing, in the absence of evidence or experiment. This is how the Royal Society was able to extricate itself from  the morass of Alchemy, Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, etc. that were so prevalent in their time.

Travis said pretty much the same things he always says, but some really interesting new stuff came up. At about 5:40 into the podcast,  Curt Jaimungal asked him,

Q: Do you have PTSD from it?

I think so. Yes, I was surprised at the degree to which I do. You know, having this other sighting, that we sort of alluded to earlier, coming back from a MUFON meeting in Burbank, California. Heading up the 5, this giant black triangle came, stopped right over the top of the car, turned, and headed off to the west. An incredible ability to decelerate and accelerate, it was still something that I wouldn't ever have brought up in an interview or anything like that. [Except that he just did]. Except that I was able to find out that it was seen by about fifteen other people, or at least reported by that many people by the next morning. So certainly over a highly populated area like that, there were many many more people who saw it, but just didn't know where to report it.

Now, this is very interesting. Unfortunately, Travis gives us no hint how he found out about all those other supposed witnesses, or how we can check their stories out. I would be very interested to learn that. 

I previously wrote a Blog posting titled, "Travis Walton Saw a Giant Black Triangle UFO, but Apparently forgot to mention it." Travis was briefly interviewed in a Fox News piece about UFOs on May 22, 2019. Asked whether he had had seen anything since the aliens grabbed him for five days in 1975, Travis replied,

It was February 19, 2014. A giant black triangle came over, stopped right over the top of us. Rotated 90 degrees, and shot off toward the ocean. It was quite amazing because I didn't believe anything that big could actually fly.
Actually, Travis apparently did mention this sighting a few times, but he kept it pretty low-key. One Blogger writes,
Ken Peterson is one of the other witnesses to Walton’s encounter in 1975. He has hinted at further encounters and transformative experiences following the 1975 incident too. Not to mention that Walton himself has had an additional sighting that he discusses from time to time involving a black triangle that stopped mid-flight and changed trajectory. Ironically, that event occurred as he was leaving a MUFON meeting in Burbank, CA a couple of years prior to 2015.

This sounds like the same sighting we just heard about. Doing a little research, I found out that there was indeed a meeting of the local Los Angeles chapter of MUFON in Burbank, California on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2014, at 7 PM. Travis' account was off by four days, but let's postulate that this is within the margin of error. This appears to be the meeting that Travis was referring to. The speaker was Stephen Bassett, whose mantra seems to be, "Disclosure is coming any day now!" Bassett's most recent email missive assures us that we are witnessing "the last weeks and months of the Truth Embargo unfold." So it won't be long now!

I cannot confirm whether or not Travis actually attended this meeting. It certainly seems odd that he would come all the way to California to attend a local MUFON chapter meeting, not to be confused with MUFON's large annual Symposium. It is especially odd that Travis would come when he was not the featured speaker, and that he would bring his pregnant girlfriend with him, not to mention his son. Even more odd is the idea that all three of them would drive all the way back to Snowflake, Arizona that same night. Google Maps tags that journey as approximately 8 hours, 40 minutes. Assuming that they left Burbank when the meeting ended around 10 PM, were they really planning to drive straight through to Snowflake, arriving about 7:40 AM, Arizona Time? If so, it would be an automobile marathon reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Hills' Wild Ride.

The interview continued with Curt saying to Travis,   

7:00 Q: I recall that you have had an experience with a UFO somewhere on highway I-5, and it had to do with a pregnant girlfriend at the time? Do you mind recounting that?

Yes, it's the same sighting. And yes, she was with me, and so was my son.

Q: And what happened?

Well, um, in her estimation there was missing time. You know, it seemed to take a lot longer to get home than it should have. You know, accounting for time differences and the whole thing. But, again, I've always tried to avoid reporting things I can't corroborate, everything has to be documented.

Q: Was there missing time on your part, or only she reported that to you?

Well, I agree with her. You know, with her estimations and comments about it. By itself, it doesn't constitute proof, and it's just something we find very interesting.

Q: And your son? Also had an experience in missing time? Or time dilation?

He doesn't disagree. He's just, you know, how would you know? On a long drive like that, all the way from Burbank to Snowflake, Arizona, how do you know for sure?

Q: Was there something about, your girlfriend at the time was pregnant, and then after the sighting she became not pregnant, and it was because of alien interference?

Boy, that is something that I don't really bring out that much. Because, you know, she works in a government facility, you know, has a security clearance. I really don't have her permission to talk about that, or name her, or whatever. But, yeah, she had a mark across her stomach. I went into the gynecologist's office with her. I observed on the ultrasound, that there was a placenta, a cord, and the fetus had just disappeared.

Q: Why do you think that is?

I don't know. One speculation is obviously that the baby was taken by, you know, some alien technology. Another alternative is, medically speaking, some kind of a thing where they claim that a baby can be re-absorbed. But if that were really true, you would think that would affect the cord and the placenta, too. Wouldn't it?

Q: I know that you have intuitions or feelings that these beings were being helpful toward you, given that, do you think...


Q: I'm just wondering, how is the removal of a fetus positive, unless the baby would have been born cancerous or have some other issue?

Obviously, the theory is, we conjecture, that the baby is alive somewhere, that it was taken for a more nurturing environment. With really super-super high tech I guess the woman's body is not absolutely necessary. That's the theory.

Q: How far along was she in the pregnancy?

In days, I don't know. I don't have that on the tip of my tongue.

Q: Was that within a month, or was within six months? Plus or minus a month?

It was a very large amount of development. Loose clothing, she probably could have disguised the fact that she was pregnant.
So, we are left with that astonishing account, and no further details.

Much later in the interview, Travis says,

1:31:00 I'm familiar with tools and some medical instruments. I was actually, eventually, certified, as an EMT. I took the state test on midwiffery. It was offered by the state of Arizona to bring all of the lay midwives, many of whom had been practicing under doctors for years, into an official licensing situation. So, the offer was, come in, take this test, and, it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. I didn't plan it, I only heard about it a couple of days before the test. Went in, and I got the second-highest score out of the whole group. But, maybe it's a genetic thing, I don't know. My father was a doctor. Actually, an obstetrician.

Charlie Wiser has a Twitter thread about this. She writes, "Travis Walton is a midwife now!". 

What is the relevance of that? How did Travis' midwife skills contribute to his obtaining, and preserving, the placenta and umbilical cord of the missing fetus? That is a question for the next Podcast host to ask Travis, assuming he or she won't be grossed out by the answer.

Toward the end of the interview, some listener submitted a statement by Kelly Waldrip, who was a close friend of Travis when they were both in Middle School. It had been posted as a comment on Michael Shermer's website.  Travis did not deny that he and Kelly had been close friends in school, and also did not deny that the two of them sometimes talked about pulling off a UFO hoax. But Travis added,

1:49:00  [Kelly] has got some amazing tales, himself. He was my best friend, and it was actually his idea to put up a hot air balloon or something. But he became an FBI agent, and the only contact I've had with him was years ago, when he was describing how he was basically ducking and dodging around the planet to avoid being assassinated in connection with his previous work, his previous job. I don't know, maybe it's true. Sounds kind of wild, though. But he's definitely exaggerating anything that was said between us.

So, yes, we talked about hoaxing a UFO sighting, but it was his fault, not mine.

Meanwhile, Mike Rogers, the guy who was driving the truck when Travis supposedly ran out and was "abducted," posted on his Facebook page on August 13,

EVENTS in the last few months have changed everything between Travis and I. Suffice it to say . . . I no longer believe anything Travis says. Steve Pierce and Ken Peterson are with me on that. John Goulette is a 'maybe', and his other 2 witnesses are gone. Travis Walton is quickly loosing his support.

Mike claims that  "Travis Walton owes me a great deal of money by signed and notarized CONTRACT," i.e. his share of the proceeds from the promotion of the story. According to Celebs Money, Travis Walton's net worth is between $100,000- 1,000,000, although it's impossible to say if that is accurate. So Mike's claim sounds good, but so far he apparently hasn't even consulted a lawyer to see if he has a valid case.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Some Thoughts on the new Galileo Project


By now, most readers have heard about The Galileo Project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial Technological Artifacts,   headed up by Professor Avi Loeb, Harvard Astronomy Department Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian. "Daring to Look Through New Telescopes" is how they describe their focus. Dr. Loeb, who has excellent credentials as an astrophysicist, brings a lot of credibility to a subject that has frankly lacked credibility in most of its endeavors.

What will the Galileo Project do? On its "Activities" page, the Project lists three "major areas of research". Let's look at each one.

1. "Obtain High-resolution, Multi-detector UAP Images, Discover their Nature."

A picture is worth a thousand words. For example, a megapixel image of the surface of a human-scale UAP object at a distance of a mile will allow to distinguish the label: “Made in Country X” from the potential alternative “Made by ETC Y” on a nearby exoplanet in our galaxy. This goal will be accomplished by searching for UAP with a network of mid-sized, high-resolution telescopes and detector arrays with suitable cameras and computer systems, distributed in select locations. The data will be open to the public and the scientific analysis will be transparent.
As if you can just set up telescopes and get good, clear photographs of UFOs (or UAPs). Excuse me, Dr. Loeb, but you have no idea how many other people already have automated cameras pointing at the sky. Most are for astronomy, but some are for UFOlogy. And so far, none of them have turned up any objects that are both clearly seen, and yet unidentified.

Catalina Sky Survey -

The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) is a NASA funded project supported by the Near Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO) under the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). We are based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.  Our mission at CSS is fully dedicated to discover and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) in an effort to meet the congressional mandate to catalogue at least 90 percent of the estimated population of NEOs larger than 140 meters, some of which classify as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) which pose an impact threat to Earth. Longstanding success of the project is attributable to our comprehensive sky coverage, continued development and application of innovative software and our NEO detection pipeline, and the inclusion of near real-time human attention to the NEO discovery and follow-up process.
Designed to hunt for asteroids in the earth's vicinity, it has been very successful. But it hasn't yet turned up anything of alien manufacture.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey -  Starting in 2000 and continuing today, it has obtained many, many thousands of images of stars and galaxies, covering a large portion of the entire sky. All of these images are publicly available. Where are the UFOs?

Starlight Xpress Oculus All-Sky Camera
w/ 180 Degree Lens. $1,100.

Miscellaneous All-sky Cameras: Many private observatories operate all-sky cameras that show what is happening in the sky, via the internet. In fact, a major astronomy dealer sells an all-sky camera, in case you think you will find something worth recording. Yet with all these cameras in operation, UFOs still somehow manage to avoid them.
Meteor tracking cameras:  Scattered across the entire globe are networks of cameras to record meteors, which are very successful. Successful at recording meteors, but for some reason not "UAPs".
Special effects guru Douglas Trumbull and Marc D'Antonio of MUFON  announced plans to set up the UFOTOG project.  UFOTOG I was built, and UFOTOG II, was planned. It is a multiple sensor device that would look for anomalous objects not only visually, but with magnetometers, gravity meters, spectroscopy, gamma ray and other detectors. Large numbers of them will be manufactured to get the costs down, and they will be placed on top of poles in areas where UFOs are being reported. Apparently, it didn't happen.

Then there is UFODAP - the UFO Data Acquisition Project. "The technical focus of UFODAP is to apply current methods of science and technology to recognize, track and record anomalous objects while simultaneously collecting data from multiple sensors. It is our goal to expand a growing network of these sensor systems to other hot spots around North America and then the world." 

Sky Hub UAP Tracker

The Sky Hub UAP Tracker,  an "open source citizen science project.. we have a growing community with 1500+ members."

Join the Science Based Pursuit of UAPs. A world wide search for UAPs using a global network of machine learning, smart cameras and sensor arrays, open-source software for the largest observational science project in history.

Nor are all such proposed UFO camera programs are relatively recent, like these are. An article in LOOK Magazine, "Hunt For The Flying Saucer" (July 1, 1952) described the  special cameras that would soon be looking for UFOs:

Under ATIC direction, a physicist at the University of California at Los Angeles [unnamed] is developing and testing a special camera to photograph flying saucers.  Key to the new apparatus is a defraction grid consisting of a piece of glass etched with infinitely fine lines.  Placed over the camera lens, this grid breaks down the image into slivers from which scientists can determine its composition.  If the saucers prove to be bodies which glow, the grid will record the material they are made of.  If their light comes from a fuel supply or a reflection, the grid will identify the light.

Among the first to be tested will be Dr. Menzel’s theory that saucers are, in reality, lights bounced upward from the earth’s surface.  As Dr. Menzel independently suggested, the first defraction-grid cameras will be located in the southwestern U.S., which has had a concentration of saucer sightings.  Two hundred cameras will be built and distributed to atomic-plant guards, airbase tower operators and radar men.  Pictures will be sped to scientists who will then be able to give the world its  first incontrovertible word on flying saucers.

So, almost seventy years ago there was a serious government proposal to build special cameras to study UFOs. But so far as I am aware. no such cameras were ever deployed, probably because it was realized that there was no way to force UFOs to come and have their picture taken. 

What I would like to ask Dr. Loeb is: given the already large number of automated cameras pointing skyward, with more planned to follow, what makes you think you can get good, clear images of "UAPs" when nobody else has recorded much of anything interesting? What will you do differently? Where will you position your cameras? 

And why will notoriously shy UAPs reveal themselves to your cameras, but not to the many others?

 2. Search for and In-Depth Research on ‘Oumuamua-like Interstellar Objects 

The Galileo Project research group also will utilize existing and future astronomical surveys, such as the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST)[1] at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (VRO), to discover and monitor the properties of interstellar visitors to the Solar system.
We will conceptualize and design, potentially in collaboration with interested space agencies or space ventures, a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects such as ‘Oumuamua by intercepting their trajectories on their approach to the Sun or by using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors.
Actually, this sounds quite worthwhile, although I suspect it greatly overlaps with current and planned research activity. When new interstellar interlopers are discovered, there is no doubt that they will be studied by the best available earth-based telescopes, with or without Project Galileo. Even if the objects are not artificial, which they almost certainly are not, they are nonetheless worthy of careful study. (My previous posting explains why it's extremely unlikely that 'Oumuamua is artificial.) And having a "a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects" is an excellent idea, although it will require the cooperation of NASA or some other space agency. After all, we have already sent missions out to intercept known asteroids and comets, and it would not be any different to rendezvous with interstellar ones (although interstellar objects will be traveling faster than objects orbiting the sun).  So we'd better be ready to launch whenever they show up.

I was a bit surprised to see "using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors," because there is as yet no evidence that interstellar meteors actually exist. I see no reason they could not exist, but they would be rare, and given the large number of meteoroids in our solar system, finding the interstellar one would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But astronomers using sky survey photos of meteors taken from multiple locations (see above) already derive orbital parameters showing where the meteoroid had been before it encountered the earth. If that orbit happens to be a parabola and not an ellipse, then that meteor came in from interstellar space. Looking for such rare hypothetical meteors in a slew of ordinary ones will keep a lot of researchers busy for a very long time.  

 3.  Search for Potential ETC Satellites:

Discovering potential 1 meter-scale or smaller satellites that may be exploring Earth, e.g., in polar orbits a few hundred km above Earth, may become feasible with VRO in 2023 and later, but if radar, optical and infrared technologies have been mastered by an ETC, then very sophisticated large telescopes on Earth might be required. We will design advanced algorithmic and AI/DL object recognition and fast filtering methods that the Galileo Project intends to deploy, initially on non-orbiting telescopes. 

This sounds good. But "The United States Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks, catalogs and identifies artificial objects orbiting Earth, e.g. active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation debris. The system is the responsibility of United States Space Command and operated by the United States Space Force."

How small an object in earth orbit can the Space Surveillance Network track? "The SSN typically tracks space objects which are 10 centimeters in diameter (baseball size) or larger."

So, the proposed Galileo tracking network will be looking for possible unseen alien surveillance satellites that are up to ten times larger than those usually detected by  the Space Surveillance Network (and thus having a hundred times greater radar cross section). This is reassuring: so if the SSN, which typically detects orbiting objects down to baseball size, happens to keep missing all those orbiting alien satellites of beach ball size, fear not! Galileo will find them!!