Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The New Yorker's Credulous Article on Pentagon UFOs - Part 3


(Continued from Part 2)

One of Leslie Kean's last "really good" cases is the UFO reported over gate C-17 at Chicago's O'Hare field on November 7, 2006. Several employees of United Airlines reported seeing a “strange object hovering just under a cloud bank… the metallic-looking disc was about the size of a quarter or half dollar held at arm’s length.”  Unfortunately, no photographs exist of this supposed “metallic-looking disc” hovering over one of the world’s busiest airports in daytime, and nothing showed up on radar. Reportedly “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.”  From the article:

The object hovered for several minutes before accelerating at a severe incline and leaving “an almost perfect circle in the cloud layer where the craft had been,” as one anonymous witness subsequently put it.... The F.A.A. claimed that it must have been a “hole-punch cloud”—a cirrocumulus or altocumulus cloud crisply perforated with a circular gap, which occasionally appears in below-freezing temperatures. According to meteorologists whom Kean interviewed, it was much too warm that day for hole-punch clouds to occur. 

Kean's source for this information is a report by NARCAP, a pro-UFO investigative team, showing that temperatures were too high for a hole-punch cloud to form at the reported 1,900 foot elevation of the ceiling, which is probably correct. (Kean has no difficulty referencing investigations by other researchers, so long as their conclusion agrees with hers.) But the low ceiling could easily have been partially obscuring a much higher cloud layer, where a hole-punch cloud could exist because of much lower temperatures. Hole-punch clouds occur in cirrocumulous or altocumulous clouds, approximately 8,000 to 39,000 ft. elevation, not in low clouds at 1,900 ft! So there is no reason to reject the FAA's explanation.

A hole-punch cloud, partially obscured by lower clouds.  (from Wikimedia commons).

The strangest part of the entire article is what it says about UFO skeptics. 

“An informed skeptic is a very different thing from a debunker on a mission,” she wrote to me. “There are many out there who are on a mission to debunk UFOs at all costs. They’re not rational and they’re not informed.” Kean thought that they were blinded by zealotry.
How dare rational people argue against her extraordinary claims? Here Kean's mean streak is on full display, which unfortunately is quite common among UFO zealots. They simply cannot believe that there could possibly be any rational objection to their claims. We read,
Many U.F.O. debunkers are overtly hostile, but Mick West has a mild, disarming manner, one that only occasionally recalls the performative deference with which an orderly might cajole a patient back into his straitjacket.

Since I have been an active UFO skeptic for over fifty years, a longtime associate of the late King of the Debunkers Philip J. Klass, and indeed the owner of the Website, I suppose that the "overtly hostile" people author Gideon Lewis-Kraus is talking about includes me. I don't think of myself as "overtly hostile," and I'm wondering what, exactly, he means by that. For years I've been attending major UFO conferences and have met most of the well-known UFOlogists who attend such things. In fact, I get along quite well with many of them. I haven't gotten into any fist fights, and hardly any big arguments. And I wouldn't describe any of the UFO skeptics I know as "overtly hostile," but I suppose that's just my opinion. I am happy to report that most attendees of UFO conferences are able to handle skeptical commentary without melting down - very few of them are as rigid in their UFO Evangelism as Leslie Kean. I would say that Kean is clearly one of those UFOologists who is "overtly hostile" to anyone disagreeing with her beliefs, a trait she apparently picked up from her mentor, the late UFO abductionist Budd Hopkins. Hopkins' ex-wife, Carol Rainey, wrote that "In our house, the words “debunkers” and “skeptics” were used very much in the way that devout Christians use the words “unbelievers” and “the unsaved.” "

I have met Mick West, and I agree that he is a soft-spoken individual. But notice the subtle put-down, comparing his mannerisms to a hospital orderly trying to calm down a crazy person. Lewis-Kraus continues,

Everything [West] told me was perfectly persuasive, but even an hour on the phone with him left me feeling vaguely demoralized. Morgellons sufferers and chemtrail hysterics, he supposed, would be grateful to be relieved of their baseless fears, just as he had been disburdened of the psychic hazard posed by farmhouse aliens—and he didn’t see why U.F.O. advocates should be any different. He seemed unable to envisage that someone might find solace in the decentering prospect that we are not alone in a universe we ultimately know very little about.

So Lewis-Kraus feels "demoralized" talking to West, because people find "solace" in entertaining unsupported beliefs? Here we have an outright admission by the author that he is seeking not facts about UFO claims, but comforting beliefs. And he commits the logical fallacy of concluding that, if there is no valid evidence of ET visitation to earth, therefore we are alone in the universe. What an absurd fallacy! Lewis-Kraus continues,

During one of my phone calls with Kean—greatly pleasurable distractions that tended to absorb entire afternoons—I mentioned to her that I had been in touch with Mick West. It was the only time I had known her to grow peevish. “If Mick were really interested in this stuff, he wouldn’t debunk every single video,” she said, almost pityingly. “He would admit that at least some of them are genuinely weird.”

Yes indeed. How pleasant and engrossing it is to talk to the exalted Ms Kean! Lewis-Kraus shows no inclination to challenge anything she says, or to consult other sources that contradict her. If he had, he would have encounterd Kean's "peevishness" many more times. Here we have a clear admisssion that the author has tossed "journalistic objectivity" out the window. And also note that Kean seems to be advocating a sort of "social promotion" for at least a few UFO claims. Mick should give at least a few UFO videos a passing grade, even if they don't deserve it. Just because!! 


In any case, the important thing to keep in mind when the subject of "Pentagon UFOs" comes up (as it now does so frequently): the Pentagon's AATIP program came into existence not because "the Pentagon" or "the Navy" was concerned about UFOs (or "UAPs", as they prefer). It happened because of Robert Bigelow and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV, who was then the Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate). Reid arranged a "sweetheart" $22 million government contract for his major campaign contributor Robert Bigelow. Leslie Kean found out about it, and co-authored several articles about Pentagon UFOs in the New York Times. The rest, as they say, is History. 

Drunk History, actually.



  1. Ms. Kean has a face book site, and at the time of the UFO event at O'hara airport, I did make a statement on her face book page,to the effect, why was there no photos of the UFO, since, so many people claimed to have seen it? And even then, most people had cell phones with photo capability, i.e. a camera. If I remember correctly, she told me that not everyone had a cell phone on hand. OK.....I guess this is a case of, "the will to believe!"

  2. Alien life is, of course, entirely plausible and I was initially excited by the infamous Pentagon videos but Thunderfoot thorougly debunked them beautifully. The media has gone bonkers with UFO mania! Sadly, so far at least, with no evidence...
    Thunderfoot has comprehensively debunked the three famous leaks now


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