Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 3

David Marler
David Marler: The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of L.A. This incident, he says, introduced the term "flying saucer" in 1942, five years before Kenneth Arnold. This was just two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and 36 hours after a Japanese submarine surfaced and fired on an oil terminal near Santa Barbara (doing minimal dmamge). Further Japanese attacks were expected along the west coast, and "hysteria was
definitely a component." But, Marler said, we cannot necessarily dismiss the entire incident because of this.

Marler's collection of  newspaper headlines.
On the night of Feb. 24-25, 1942, an unidentified radar target came in from the northwest. Authorities quickly ordered a blackout, and started shelling. No planes were sent up. The familiar version of the photograph showing converging spotlights was heavily retouched. Marler has found what appears to be the original negative of that photo. It is much less densely exposed than the retouched photo, but does not clearly show any object.

Marler's working hypothesis: a single unidentified aerial object flew over the Los Angeles region. I might agree, if that object were a balloon. Marler ruled out a balloon, on the grounds that it would have been destroyed by shrapnel from all the shells fired at it. But that assumes that the object was actually in the crosshairs where the shells were fired.

Stanton Friedman
No UFO conference would be complete without Stanton Friedman, today speaking on Astronomy Versus UFOlogy.  Astronomers, he complained, ignore "large scale scientific studies," like Blue Book Special Report 14 (his favorite). He presented some well-known scientific blunders, such as statements that 'space travel is impossible.' Friedman claimed that interstellar travel using nuclear fusion propulsion is perfectly plausible. He maintained that scientific critics of the viability of interstellar travel, such as the late Nobel prize winning physicist Edward Purcell, "didn't know anything about space travel," although Purcell's objections are based in fundamental physics. Friedman also threw his usual punches at SETI - the "silly effort to investigate."

He showed Marjorie Fish's interpretation of Betty Hill's UFO star map without any disclaimer, even though its pretense of significance has now been completely refuted. He recommended the UFO research of Kathleen Marden and Linda Moulton Howe (!!!!).
Greg Bishop

Greg Bishop: The Co-Creation Hypothesis - A Fresh Approach to UFO Research. Bishop discussed the role of our minds in constructing what we see. "What causes UFO reports?" Our memories are reconstructions, not faithful images. Our mind fills in what we expect to see.

I'm not clear about what is supposed to be "fresh" here. He seems to be advocating a position similar to what British Forteans call the Psycho-Social Hypothesis. Throw in a touch of John Keel, Gray Barker, and Jacques Vallee, and Bishop seems to be walking a well-trod path.

John Alexander
Col. John B. Alexander (ret.) spoke on "UFO Encounters:  More Complex than We Imagine." He was very big on the Chris Bledsoe case, an alleged abductee who films orbs all the time, and now apparently has not only been miraculously cured of Crohn's disease by ETs, but has also "healed" others. Alexander was especially impressed by the fact that, talking with Bledsoe outdoors one evening, the "abductee" said he felt the ETs are here now. They looked up, and within about 30 seconds, a bright object was seen to flash across the sky. Later I suggested to Alexander that this impressive demonstration could have been arranged in advance, if Bledsoe had looked on-line to get the time that a brilliant flare from an Iridium satellite would be visible from that location. He didn't buy that.

Alexander repeated his theme that "disclosure has already happened," citing vague statements from various world leaders about ETs. Government employees can talk about UFOs, and nothing happens to them. In his view, the government knows that ETs are real, but it knows nothing can be done about them, and it has more urgent problems to worry about, anyway. So government ignores them.

The Roswell incident, he said, was caused by a Project Mogul spy balloon. There is no evidence of ET technology being used anywhere in any nation's space program.

Panel, Government and UFOs:  The usual suspects repeated the usual things.

Charles Halt repeated his claim that after the Rendlesham forest incident, Air Force agents came in and drugged the witnesses, changing their memories.

When the matter was raised of "missing files" concerning Rendlesham, or Roswell, John Alexander noted that many U.S. government agencies are required to report bi-annually on the linear feet of files they have destroyed. Given the mandate of purging old files, he says it is no surprise that many old government files cannot be found.
The night vision skywatch (from 2013 Congress).
Night Vision Skywatch: Once again, Ben Hansen, formerly the host of Fact or Fake: Paranormal Files on the SyFy channel, presented an outdoor public viewing using night vision cameras, projecting on giant screens. The weather was not very cooperative, there were a lot of clouds. The wind was so strong (a rainstorm was coming) one of the screens blew over several times. But we managed to see a few satellites go by, and a bird or bat or two. Ben did pretty well keeping the presentation on solid ground, emphasising that you will be seeing lots of satellites, birds, bats, airplanes, even moths, so don't assume it's aliens when you see something moving. But he left open the door to the possibility that you might see something truly extraordinary, which is why people would buy these expensive devices costing $2,000 and up. My advice: save your money, and buy a really good pair of binoculars, say 10x50. Night vision devices trade resolution for sensitivity. In binoculars you will be able to see everything these devices can see, and with much better resolution.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 UFO Congress - Part 2

Alejandro Rojas
Conference host Alejandro Rojas delivered his own talk about ETs and Religion. He cited examples of what appear to be discussions of alien beings in various world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Native American beliefs, Mormons, Nation of Islam, Scientology, Raelism, and Heavens Gate. 

He referred to Ted Peters' survey of religious attitudes toward extraterrestrial beings, presented at the UFO Congress in 2014. Practically nobody said that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent beings would pose a problem for their religious faith.

Erika Lukes
Erika Lukes, formerly MUFON state director for Utah, is now head of a new group, Unexplained Utah. She said her interest in UFOs began when she had a series of sightings in the Salt Lake Valley. There are many important sightings in Utah, she said, and many top-secret military sites. "All of the ley lines in the world" converge right here in the Mormon Temple. She seemed not to realize that "ley lines" are complete nonsense.

Her best case was apparently the American Airlines 434 radar-visual case, which occurred over Utah on January 14, 2016. Tim Printy looked into it in his E-Zine SUNlite (scroll down to p. 6), and noted that "the radar data is not a match and can not be used as confirmation that the 'bright orange square' was an airborne object." So there was apparently no "flying object" involved, and no radar detection of it.

Now, she believes, UFOs are "the most important subject we will ever deal with." She says that night vision optics are very important in UFO investigation (I disagree, as will be discussed later), as is a device called MADAR III to measure geomagnetic anomalies.

Bob Davis
Dr. Bob Davis serves as a member of the Board of Directors and Research Team of the Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters (FREE). His talk was, "A Study on Individuals who Report UFO Related Contact Experiences with a Non-Human Intelligent Being."

He found that 83% of those who reported ET contact said that it had changed their lives in a positive way. 95% of them report having "paranormal" experiences. He showed a chart illustrating the "Quantum Hologram (QH) Resonance" theory of consciousness, which includes everything from the Collective Unconscious to Remote Viewing, Telekinesis, Reincarnation, Oneness, Wholeness, all the way to "peace with the universe." UFOs, he explained, have a "psycho-spiritual" dimension. (Here is an interesting interview with Davis.)

Kathleen Marden talked about "Perplexing Phenomena." She has experienced weird phenomena all her life. A UFO landed within 500 feet of her house in 1966 (five years after her aunt Betty Hill was allegedly abducted). After that, weird things began to happen: poltergeist, orbs, "apports" from thin air, "bed walking": the sensation that something is walking across your bed, which she says 65% of "experiencers" report. Also, "shape shifters" and "shadow people." She showed an "actual photograph of shadow entity." Unfortunately, it was dark and shadowy, without detail.
Stanton Freidman with Kathleen Marden at the 2015 UFO Congress
Marden has been receiving reports from a man named Melvon, who works at a small airport. His supposed UFO video, showing an object pulsing and getting larger and smaller, is nothing more than the autofocus of the video camera trying to focus in on a distant light - without success. Melvon has been reporting seeing entities with faces of a man, or a goat. He also reports experiencing "time shifts."  In one such incident, he saw elephants walking across the savannah, at his airport. Actually, he believes the animals to have been wooly mammoths.

Phoenix Lights 20th Anniversary Panel: Dr. Lynne Kitei is now a full-time promoter of the Phoenix Lights. She told how she and others had seen the  famous lights on several other occasions. A mile-wide object was sighted covering Las Vegas. People are seeing triangular craft, and also circular ones. Ten different kinds of craft were seen. One object was eight miles across. She said she is now working on a Phoenix Lights coloring book. Delightful!

UFO expert-on-everything Richard Dolan stated that the Maryland Air National Guard absolutely did not drop flares on the night of March 13, 1997.  Lt. Col. Ed Jones of the Maryland Air National Guard, who piloted one of the four A-10s in the squadron that launched the flares, would disagree.

Jim Mann of Phoenix MUFON said we can't say that the Phoenix Lights were extraterrestrial, only that they were an "anomaly," an unknown. It isn't flares, or airplanes in formation.

James Fox told how he interviewed former Arizona governor Fife Symington, who belatedly "confessed" to having seen the lights ten years earlier, a dramatic reversal of his previous disparagement of the "lights". When Fox was a speaker at the 2013 UFO Congress, I spoke with him and explained why it is obvious that Symington is lying, and simply made up his sighting:
 I reminded Fox that Symington claimed to have seen news coverage of the lights on TV, then went outside to look. He says he walked down to where the news crews had been filming the lights (the flare drop), and then saw the V-shape fly over, big and mysterious. However, there was no news coverage of the sightings before the planes landed about 8:45, and there could have been nobody filming the "lights" prior to 10:00, because the flares had not yet been dropped. Therefore Symington's claimed sighting occurred after 10:00, probably well after, and hence is an obvious fabrication. "No, he saw it at 8:20. It was 8:20," Fox insisted. "How could he have seen news coverage of this by 8:20?", I asked. "Maybe he heard chatter on the radio or something," Fox said. "How could there have been news crews filming this by 8:20?", I asked? Fox was having no more of this conversation.

In 2017, Symington's story has changed again (or more likely, Fox changed it for him). As Fox explained in his own talk later, Symington was listening in on the scanner and heard about the lights. (We don't know that there was any discussion of the first incident on some unspecificed scanner channels, although we can't say that there wasn't. This removes the obvious timeline discrepancy in Symington's first "I saw it" statement, which was that he saw the news reports, and went out to where the news crews had been filming the lights. This would be much too late to see the "triangle.") Symington supposedly drove out to Camelback Mountain, where he saw them.

In response to a question, Fox marvelled at Symington's abrupt change of heart on the subject:
I can't get it out of my mind. Earlier in the day he seemed so adamant, let's get to the bottom of didn't seem like he was joking...let's find out what it was these people have seen, of course at that time not admitting the fact that he too had seen it.

But then that whole shift between that morning and that afternoon... I can't help but wonder, if he must have received a phone call. Something was going on that we're not privy to. So I asked him, did you receive a phone call from somebody? He said no. I don't know man, it's really kind of strange that he would do a 180 from the morning to the afternoon...
What "went on" was simply that Symington had decided to jump on the Phoenix Lights bandwagon, and invent a story about seeing them. Symington is an experienced liar (his conviction was later overturned on a technicality, but before he could be re-tried he was the lucky recipient of one of many undeserved pardons issued by the outgoing President Clinton).

The Registration Desk

Evening Film Festival: The first film was Robert Hasting's UFOs and Nukes, which claimed that UFOs have been menacing U.S. missile sites and taking the missiles off-line. For brevity, I will simply refer the reader to Tim Printy's in-depth critique of it (scroll down to page 7).

The second short film was something called Seek, basically a ten-minute rock video supposedly having something to do with love between a human and an alien.

Next was a full-length film called The Awakening of 12 Strands.
“Awakening of 12 Strands” is a story about ETs (including negative Reptilians), walk-ins, djinn, military, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, alchemy and more. Jasmine, who is the main character, is diagnosed with AIDS. This inspires her to undertake an unusual worldwide journey to awaken souls. The movie covers DNA issues and how Jasmine is effected by the events that unfold.

Think: European directors, symbolism, no obvious plot. The director Sandra Daroy says, "A MOVIE that NEEDS TO be WATCHED at least twice to see all details and clues." I only lasted about twenty minutes.


Monday, February 20, 2017

A Skeptical Look at the 2017 International UFO Congress - Part 1.

The 26th annual International UFO Congress was held from February 15-19 at the We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference Center in Fountain Hills, Arizona, near Phoenix.
We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference Center

In his introductory remarks, conference host Alejandro Rojas noted the significance of several anniversaries this year: the 20th anniversary of the Phoenix Lights, the 75th of the Battle of Los Angeles, and the big one, the 70th anniversary of Roswell.

Stanton Friedman, the “Flying Saucer Physicist,” had been scheduled to be the opening speaker. However, his flight got canceled in the big snowstorms back east, so his time slot was swapped with the Los Angeles area abductionist Yvonne Smith.  Smith said that since about 2011 she has been receiving “messages,” about whose source she was not very specific. She suggested that many members of the audience might also have been receiving these messages, too.
Yvonne Smith

These messages are taking on an increasing urgency to “do something,” she explained. “Time is running out.” She reflected back to the 1992 Abduction Study Conference held at M.I.T. which she attended (as did I, representing CSICOP). The “messages” being received back then reflected much less “urgency” than today. Now, almost all “experiencers” feel increasing urgency and receive visions of impending ecological doom and other catastrophes. She showed a slide of a mushroom cloud, and warned of “earth changes.” Experiencers, she said, are feeling great “election related” angst, and launched into a rant against Trump.

The last part of her talk was handed over to Jim Lough, a California attorney of long experience, who spoke on “Civil Rights and Experiencers.” The UFO coverup, he said, has led to the Military Industrial Complex. Political dirty tricks are part of the great E.T. coverup, as is intrusive government surveillance.

Next was UFO author Noe Torres, speaking on “Real Cowboys & Aliens – UFOs in the Old West.” He said he found over 100 such cases, from which he selected ten or so for his book as the best. The one he talked about the most was the 1897 airship crash in Aurora, Texas. Long recognized as a hoax by serious researchers, if Torres was aware of this he did not let on. While some later cases might have been influenced by science fiction tales, he said, “they did not have the terminology" of airships at this time. Oh really? I wonder if Torres has ever heard of Jules Verne? Verne's famous airship novel Robur the Conqueror was published in 1886.
Noe Torres

Torres’ other cases mostly seemed to be based on newspaper stories, although he was not specific as to their source. He made no mention of 19th century newspapers' practice of publishing entertaining journalistic hoaxes. If these are the “best” cases, imagine how bad the rest of them are. In addition to aliens, the Old West also boasted of having Bigfoot, cattle mutilations, crash debris, and Unidentified Submerged Objects. Yee-haw!

In another substitution, Jennifer Stein, who made the recent movie Travis about Travis Walton, was supposed to speak on U.S. Crop Circles. But she was unable to attend, so Walton himself substituted. “He is a deep thinker,” Rojas said in introducing Walton.

Rojas had earlier promised, in announcing Travis’ substitute talk, that if you had already heard Walton speak, this would not be the same talk he always gives, but something different. Broken promise. Walton droned on as he usually does about his five fun-filled days aboard the alien craft. A few details sounded different than before. He observed that “we were all in a trance” when they spotted the UFO nearby. And I don’t recall hearing before the claim that after he was zapped and Mike Rogers drove away, they tried to catch up with some hunters, but could not. That would seem to imply that the hunters drove by that same spot, and contradicts what Rogers said elsewhere about how he just drove a quarter mile down the road, then stopped and anguished over what to do next.
Travis Walton
Walton did babble on toward the end some vague statements about the likelihood of intelligent life in the universe. I guess that was supposed to make this a new talk.

Ryan Sprague spoke on “UFOs vs. UFOlogy – the Convergence of Experience and Study.” He explained how he had a “catalyst” sighting of a triangle UFO in 1995. Subsequently he interviewed hundreds of people about their own sightings, and showed brief videos of some of them.

He made some confused claims about the star “Meroz,” which isn’t a star at all but a village mentioned in the Bible. He referred to the apparent contradictions in UFOlogy vs, Chemistry, Physics, Theology, Philosophy, etc., with some quotes intended to help resolve the disagreements.

Erika Lukes and Ted Roe
Ted Roe, Executive Director of NARCAP – the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, spoke on the Future of UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) research. He began by talking about his own early sightings, and many “synchronicities.” He also spoke at length about his own personal challenges: PTSD, family estrangement, and stress. He took up freediving, and became a teacher of it. The dolphins helped him, he said. ( I asked him about that later. He explained that dolphins often accompanied him in his dives, and showed some amazing underwater videos.) By deep contemplation and martial arts, Roe says, “I empowered myself.” He ended up talking more about himself and his eventful life than about NARCAP or UFOs.

He talked about some of the investigative papers that NARCAP had published on its website. Their goal, he said, is to establish a peer-reviewed journal for UFO research. He spoke about pilot UFO reports: "Pilots are good witnesses." He didn't mention that Dr. J. Allen Hynek came to exactly the opposite conclusion: the late USAF Project Blue Book consultant wrote on  page  271  of his 1977 book The Hynek UFO Report, “Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses.”

Reflecting on his responsibilities as an administrator of a UFO group, he remarked that you must restrain those who “start attacking peoples’ image.” This struck me as ironic, considering that Roe recently reportedly drove from UFOlogy the highly-respected investigator “Isaac Koi,” who uses a pseudonym to protect his career and whose identity Roe allegedly threatened to expose (details are here). While Roe was still speaking, his colleague Erika Lukes posted to Facebook, “Ted is on top of his game.” I didn’t think so. In my view there was too much drama and self-promotion here.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jimmy Carter's UFO Sighting - Was it Venus, or a Space Cloud?

 A NASA rocket launch with a barium payload.

A UFO sighting was reported in 1973 by at-that-time future president president Jimmy Carter. It didn't attract much attention at the time. I began investigating the case in 1976, when Carter was running for president. However, there was no accurate information available to make it possible to find out what Carter saw. I began making various inquiries, looking for someone who might be able to provide some facts on the case. Finally, someone suggested that I contact Hayden Hewes, director of the International UFO Bureau, who had written a brief piece on the Carter sighting for Argosy UFO [Nov., 1976]. I reached Mr. Hewes by telephone at his home in Oklahoma City, and it was he who provided the first significant lead. When brief press reports appeared during the big UFO flap of 1973 to the effect that Governor Carter had previously spotted a UFO, the International UFO Bureau mailed a UFO sighting report to Carter at the State Capitol in Atlanta. Carter apparently filled out the form in some haste, his handwritten replies brief and not easily legible. He then mailed it back to Oklahoma. Mr. Hewes was kind enough to lend me a photographic transparency of the 1973 report in Carter's own handwriting.

It turns out that the sighting occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from Carter's home town of Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. (Carter mis-remembered the date as sometime on October, 1969, but I contacted the Lions Club headquarters in Illinois, which established the date as January 6). The future president was then the local district governor of the Lion's Club, and had come to Leary to boost the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm, waiting for the Lion's Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported seeing a single "self-luminous" object, "as bright as the moon," which reportedly approached and then receded several times. A reporter taped Carter's exact words in 1973 describing the UFO sighting. Carter said, 
There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, and a kind of a green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then eventually it disappeared. It didn't have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar-looking light. None of us could understand what it was. I've never made fun of people who've seen other things of that kind (From the documentary recording Factual Eyewitness Testimony of UFO Encounters, Chicago: Investigative Research Associates, Inc., 1978).
A copy of Carter's hand-written UFO sighting report, that I obtained from Hayden Hewes.
Although Carter reports that "ten members" of the Leary Lion's Club also witnessed the event, attempts to locate ten other witnesses proved fruitless. No one else seems to have paid much attention to the "UFO." While most Leary residents I interviewed did recall Mr. Carter's visit, even those who attended the meeting had no recollection or knowledge of any unidentified object being sighted.

I began making inquiries of various UFO researchers, looking for someone who might be able to provide some facts on the case. Finally, someone suggested that I contact Hayden Hewes, director of the International UFO Bureau, who had written a brief piece on the Carter sighting for Argosy UFO [Nov., 1976]. I reached Mr. Hewes by telephone at his home in Oklahoma City, and it was he who provided the first significant lead. When brief press reports appeared during the big UFO flap of 1973 to the effect that Governor Carter had previously spotted a UFO, the International UFO Bureau mailed a UFO sighting report to Carter at the State Capitol in Atlanta. Carter apparently filled out the form in some haste, his handwritten replies brief and not easily legible. He then mailed it back to Oklahoma. Mr. Hewes was kind enough to lend me a photographic transparency of the 1973 report in Carter's own handwriting.
Mr. Carter reports that his "UFO" was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus, which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees, azimuth 237 degrees. It was shining brilliantly at Magnitude -4.3, brighter than anything else in the sky. Weather records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting. Given the long history of Venus as "Queen of the UFOs," it seemed that we had the clear solution on hand. I wrote in  The Humanist magazine (then edited by Paul Kurtz), July-August, 1977 (p.46)

President Carter's "UFO" Is Identified as the Planet Venus

President Jimmy Carter's widely-reported "UFO sighting," which he made public while Governor of Georgia, was in fact a misidentification of the planet Venus. Several errors of identification within Mr. Carter's report demonstrate that the eyewitness testimony of even a future president of the United States cannot be taken at face value when investigating UFO sightings.

The incident occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. Mr. Carter was the local district governor of the Lion's Club, and had come to Leary to boost the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm, waiting for the Lion's Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported seeing a single "self-luminous" object, "as bright as the moon," which reportedly approached and then receded several times. Mr. Carter reports that his "UFO" was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus, which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees. Weather records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting.

No other object generates as many UFO reports as the planet Venus. Venus is not as bright as the moon, nor does it actually approach the viewer, or change size and brightness, but descriptions like these are typical of misidentifications of a bright planet. Every time Venus reaches its maximum brilliance in the evening sky, hundreds of "UFO sightings" of this type are made. At the time of the Carter UFO sighting, Venus was a brilliant evening star, nearly one hundred times brighter than a first-magnitude star.

And for the most part, serious UFO researchers accepted this identification. After all, Jacques Vallee, who is certainly no debunker, had written,
No single object has been misinterpreted as a "flying saucer" more than the planet Venus. The study of these mistakes proves quite instructive, for it shows beyond all possible dispute the limitations of sensory perception and the weakness of accounts relating shapes and motions of point sources or objects with small apparent diameters. (Challenge to Science, 1966, p. 110).
The southwest sky as seen from Leary, Ga, at 7:15 PM January 6, 1969. The Bull's Eye shows the calculated position where a barium cloud might have been visible, quite close to Venus. (Sky chart generated using the free open-source program Cartes du Ciel.)

So there the matter stood for forty years. Then just a week ago, an associate of space writer and skeptic James Oberg contacted him, suggesting the possibility that what Carter might have seen was a bright barium space cloud from a NASA rocket, launched to study the behavior of the upper atmosphere. In fact, this possibility was discussed in episode 561 of the popular skeptics' podcast Skeptics Guide to the Universe on April 9, 2016, although neither Oberg nor I was aware of this. I was familiar with such launches, and even saw one in the 1970s when I was living in Maryland. (Frankly, the one I saw was not all that bright or spectacular.) 

James Oberg made this map, showing the location of Leary, Georgia, and the path of the rockets.
It turns out that there were in fact two rocket launches from Eglin AFB in the Florida panhandle on the evening of January 6 that might possibly have been seen from Leary. The first one was launched at 6:41 PM, and contained Barium, which would usually appear red. The second was launched at 7:35 PM, and contained Tri-methyl aluminum (TMA), which would appear white or blue. Each would have become visible about 3-4 minutes after launch, and might have remained visible for 30 minutes or more. Carter said that he was "Outside waiting for a meeting to begin at 7:30 PM." If that information is correct, it would seem to rule out them seeing the second launch. However, the cloud that became visible about 6:45 PM might still be visible at 7:15. And that cloud would have been right next to the brilliant Venus!

Supporting the Barium cloud hypothesis are Carter's statements that the object "Seemed to move tow(ard?) us from a distance - Sto(p?) move partially away Return then depart Bluish at first - then reddish - Luminous - not solid.

Against the Barium cloud hypothesis is Carter's statement that the object was "sharply outlined."

More research needs to be done before we can conclude that a Barium space cloud was definitely responsible for this famous sighting. But it seems an intriguing possibility.

For a lot more information on the Carter UFO sighting, see my book UFO Sightings - The Evidence (Prometheus, 1998) and my page on the Carter sighting on

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Leslie Kean's new Infrared UFO Video from Chile - Solved?

Leslie Kean is a well-known UFO writer, author of UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record (2010. See my review of it here).

In recent years Kean has been working with the CEFAA, an official organization within the Chilean Air Force to investigate UFOs (similar to the now-disbanded Project Blue Book in the U.S. Air Force). In 2012, she promoted a newly-released "UFO video" by CEFAA, asking provocatively "Is this the case UFO skeptics have been dreading?". In the end, the much-hyped "UFO" turned out just to be a fly buzzing near the camera, and all those Chilean Generals and Pilots and Government Officials who pronounced it authentic were full of baloney.

The now-retired blogger Kentaro Mori explained in 2011 that the CEFAA's supposed "world's best UFO photo" appears to be nothing more than a reflection on a car windshield.

This photo taken in 2010 near the El Yeso Reservoir is the "world's best UFO photo," according to the CEFAA.
After that embarrassment, for a long time one didn't hear much about Leslie Kean, or the CEFAA. In May of 2015, Kean announced another marvellous UFO video received from the CEFAA. She wrote
The CEFAA, a government agency investigating unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) within the department of civil aeronautics (DGAC) in Chile, has released a summary of its meticulous investigation into the relatively recent “AGA case.”  The acronym “AGA” refers to the prestigious Air Force War Academy (Academia de Guerra Aérea) in Santiago, Chile, which provides training for high level Air Force officers.

The sighting of unexplained lights in formation at the Academy was video taped on two cell phones. Due to technical problems, the videos are not accessible on the CEFAA website.
By "technical problems," she apparently means that none of the Chilean Generals, Pilots, or government officials could figure out how to upload a cell phone video to a website. However, since that video only showed indistinct lights in the sky, taken on a shaky camera, practically nobody else got excited about this case.

But now she is back, big time. The CEFAA recently released a new UFO video, some of it using infrared imaging, and it quickly became the #1 trending item on Facebook. In a January 5, 2017 article on the Huffington Post, Kean wrote
An exceptional nine-minute Navy video of a UFO displaying highly unusual behavior, studied by Chilean authorities for the last two years, is now being released to the public. The CEFAA - the Chilean government agency which investigates UFOs, or UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena), has been in charge of the investigation. Located within the DGAC, the equivalent of our FAA but under the jurisdiction of the Chilean Air Force, CEFAA has committees of military experts, technicians and academics from many disciplines. None of them have been able to explain the strange flying object captured by two experienced Navy officers from a helicopter.

The object and its "envelope," according to astrophysicist Luis Barrera.
UFOlogist Ted Roe is a member of NARCAP, the group that investigated the CEFAA's fly video and pronounced it to be an unknown object. Roe posted to a Facebook discussion of the current video, "Our experience w CEFAA has been pretty good. .. they've got a pretty strong college of experts and, at first glance, this case is provocative" (ellipsis in original). Apparently by describing his experience with the CEFAA as "pretty good," that means "we made fools of ourselves over this video of a fly." (Roe is currently embroiled in a nasty controversy concerning how he allegedly drove Isaac Koi, an outstanding researcher, out of UFOlogy.)
CEFAA caption: "The object moved away from the massize plume it ejected just moments earlier. "
In France, a group called IPACO specializes in "Analysis of photo/video documents of alleged ufos."  They investigated this video, and produced a sixteen-page report, completed November 26, 2015. They performed a highly technical analysis of the video. Their conclusion: "The object observed in the video was most probably a medium-haul twin jet airliner in a landing phase, flying ahead of the helicopter at a higher velocity, with a low altitude and a low velocity, in view of landing."

IPACO updated the CEFAA's map to show the calculated path of the presumed aircraft (blue). The red line shows the helicopter's path.
And now Mick West of Metabunk seems to have driven the final nail into the coffin of the great Chilean IR UFO video. After explaining how all of the aspects of the video are consistent with that of an aircraft, West writes
This looks like a plane, flying away from the camera considerably higher than the helicopter (somewhere around 15,000 to 25,000 feet), that briefly creates an aerodynamic contrail.

The plane that seems to fit best is LA330, a two engined A320, which was reported to be climbing through 20,000 feet at that exact visual position at 14:01:39. It was actually 65 miles away, not 35-50. This explain[s] why it was not seen on radar (the actual plane was on radar, just not where they thought it was)
As the French skeptic Gille Fernandez noted, we have a situation here where a major UFO case was solved by 'amateurs' in two or three days, after having been unsuccessfully investigated by "experts" for two or three years. The same thing happened with the "Roswell slides" in 2015

Leslie Kean doesn't agree with this at all. On January 7 she wrote on her Facebook page
There are many holes in this flight LA330 hypothesis. First and foremost is that the Chilean authorities would have easily determined this to be the explanation if indeed it were.
Those same Chilean "authorities" who gave us the El Yeso reflection UFO and the El Bosque fly UFO video? She has a lot more confidence in them than I do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Recanting Roswell?

Recalling the previous posting about the dueling 70th Anniversary Roswell UFO conferences coming up in 2017, this would seem to indicate that the Roswell crash story's stock is rising. (Veteran Roswell researcher Kevin Randle reminded me that there were also two competing UFO conferences going on in Roswell for the 50th anniversary celebrations back in 1997. At that time there were two UFO museums operating in Roswell.)

However, the following would seem to indicate that Roswell stock is falling,  or perhaps has even itself crashed. In the British publication Fortean Times (issue 346 published October 2016), there is a review of Kevin Randle's latest book, Roswell in the 21st Century, written by Jerome Clark. (I've completely lost track of how many books Randle has written, fiction and nonfiction. He once told me that for a while he had his own Book of the Month club - that is, he wrote twelve books in twelve months!)

Kevin Randle (left) with the author in 1977. Weren't we young and handsome back them?!!
"Quest UFO" was a short-lived publication edited by Randle, intended to take an objective look at the UFO phenomenon..
Clark's review is titled "Recanting Roswell Certainty," a provocative title to say the least, especially as it concerns Randle, one of the most dedicated long-term promoters of the Roswell incident as an ET saucer crash. Clark says that
Roswell in the 21st Century, which never insults one's intelligence, is noteworthy for being the first recantation by a major figure in the controversy, now nearing its fourth decade.
"Recantation?" That's a pretty strong word.

In my Bad UFOs book, I quoted Karl Pflock's 2001 book Roswell – Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe. Pflock  demonstrated inconsistencies such  that of the just four people publicly identified as witnesses to alien bodies, “not one of the purported firsthand witnesses to alien bodies and a lone survivor is credible. Not one.” (Pflock, p. 118-120).

In this review, Clark continues:
Randle was initially taken with what seemed to be credible evidence. Eventually (as I did), he grew doubtful of that evidence, especially as it concerned the supposed recovery of dead aliens. Of the eight claimants (he spoke directly with all) who said they had observed such bodies, Randle writes, "not one [..] turned out to be telling the truth."
So Randle has raised the number of those who lied about seeing alien bodies at Roswell from four to eight, and there never were more than eight. This completely undercuts the need for bizarre ET or non-ET explanations for alleged alien body sightings at Roswell. Stalin and Mengele sent in deformed children in a Commie Nazi saucer: Annie Jacobs. The U.S. Army flew in dwarfish captured Japanese pilots in a bizarre craft: Nick Redfern. The Air Force dropped crash test dummies in the desert: U.S. Air Force. All of these highly implausible explanations are unnecessary, because there are no truthful accounts of alien bodies at Roswell to explain.

Randle doggedly pursued the Holy Grail of alien evidence at Roswell for more than thirty years. When he realized it wasn't there, he was brave enough to admit it.

But we should appreciate that Clark also shared Randle's gradually increasing wisdom:
Randle and I evolved, if separately, in the same direction: initial sympathy, growing doubt, at last a virtual certainty that whatever took place in New Mexico nearly seven decades ago, a crashed spacecraft did not precipitate it. Nor, for that matter, did a weather balloon.
He mentions his growing skepticism twice to make sure we get the message. Because to Jerome Clark, it's always about him. Let me remind the reader what Clark was writing during the heyday of Roswell belief. In the March 1991 issue of Fate magazine, Clark predicted that after the publication of two forthcoming books on Roswell by Randle/Schmitt and Friedman/Berliner, 

Major media - not just the usual tabloid papers and television shows - will pick up the story and recount their own investigations, which will confirm the ufologists' findings.
How did that prediction work out, Jerry? 😃

By a curious coincidence, if indeed it is a coincidence, soon after I read the Fortean Times review, Randle contacted me to ask if I'd like to be a guest on his new radio show. I happily accepted. He said we could talk about my new book, and I said I'd like to talk about his, as well. Here is the soundtrack of that show, recorded December 14, 2016 and first broadcast on December 17:

We discussed many things about UFOlogy. I won't take the time to summarize them, you can listen to the show above. Randle is pretty skeptical about alien abduction claims. I asked Randle if Clark is correct that Randle had interviewed all eight persons who claimed to have seen alien bodies, and found none of them were "telling the truth." He confirmed it.

I asked Randle, if he no longer thinks that the Roswell incident was extraterrestrial, what does he think it was? He said he really doesn't know. It wasn't E.T., but it wasn't a Mogul balloon, either. Randle then launched into a critique of skeptics being unskeptical because they insist that the debris found was from the once-secret Mogul spy balloon project, when the evidence supposedly proves that it was not. Thus skeptics are, he says, as illogical as the ET believers.

I recalled that there had been some claims that the specific Mogul flight cited as the source of the Roswell debris could not have landed where that debris was found, because of wind directions and such. But that was not what Randle was talking about. He insisted that Mogul's Flight 4 was never launched, because there is no official record of its launch, and a researcher's diary entry suggests that it was not launched. Now I had not been following the details of that argument and could not argue against it. I said that I did not insist that the debris must be from Mogul, if it could be conclusively shown otherwise. Randle himself had stated that balloons carrying radar reflectors were being launched all over the country, on a regular basis. I suggested that the Roswell debris could be from one of these. He insisted that it would have been immediately recognized if it were. Perhaps so, but perhaps normal objectivity might be lost in a time of Flying Saucer excitement.

After that show, the debate over Mogul Flight #4 generated considerable discussion among skeptics on Facebook. The point was that Randle's argument is based on a particular interpretation of conflicting notes and data concerning Project Mogul, and is by no means an ironclad proof that Mogul Flight #4 was never launched. Much hinges on the interpretation of whether a "cluster of balloons," that everyone agrees was launched at that time, describes a complete balloon array as was apparently found. For those interested in the details, Tim Printy gives the full, convoluted story about the disputed Mogul flight, "Crashology's Last Stand."   (scroll down to page 5). Randle has since written more about this. Be sure to read the comments for more debate on the Mogul controversy. In any case, it is far more likely that ambiguous record keeping has been misinterpreted and that Mogul Flight 4 was actually launched, than that some unknown craft of whatever origin crashed near Roswell.

Christmas presents might be a bit late this year - Santa's helpers had a little accident. Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roswell: Two UFO Conferences Coming Up in 2017 - SIMULTANEOUSLY!

2017 will be the 70th anniversary year of the so-called "Roswell Crash" (as well as the Kenneth Arnold sighting - and thus Flying Saucers themselves). And preparations are already underway to observe the anniversary in proper style. (Are they ever!).

Ad for this year's Roswell UFO Festival

For a number of years, the Roswell UFO Museum has sponsored a UFO Festival each year around the anniversary of the original "incident" in early July.   The 2017 program has not yet been finalized.  It is scheduled to run from Thursday, June 29 to Sunday, July 2, 2017. Speakers at the 2016 festival included (among others) Stanton Friedman, Kathleen Marden,  Donald Schmitt and Thomas Carey (in spite of their recent Roswell Slides fiasco), Ben Hansen, Derrell Sims, Yvonne Smith, and Travis Walton.

The theme of next year's Festival is, "70 Years Later: Modern Challenges to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis," which sounds surprisingly skeptical.  Jack Brewer wrote in his blog The UFO Trail that he has been invited to speak at this conference, and that other confirmed speakers include Greg Bishop, Dr. Michael Heiser, Joseph Jordan, Guy Malone, and Nick Redfern.

But this year there will be a rival event. The town's newspaper, the Roswell Daily Record, is sponsoring an event, The Roswell Incident, running from Friday, June 30 to Sunday, July 2. This is a special event to commemorate the 70th anniversary. Among the speakers will be Nick Pope, Lee Speigel, Alejandro Rojas, and Race Hobbs.

Quite frankly, I am unable to think of any other instances where there were two simultaneous, and potentially rival, UFO conferences in the same city. (And Roswell isn't much of a city!) Will there be enough eager conference-goers to successfully fund both events? Will these two groups be able to coexist without feuding? (I'm told that relations between them are quite cordial, even cooperative, at least so far). And more importantly, will anybody at either of these conferences come up with any credible new information about the Roswell incident that has any significance? Or will it be just more of the same old, same old - extraordinary claims with little or no proof? Whichever it is, this will be interesting!

And hold the presses: MUFON has just announced,
We are pleased to announce the 2017 MUFON Symposium July 21-23,
at the beautiful JW Marriott in Las Vegas, NV

Our Theme will be "The Case for a Secret Space Program"