Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two 1967 Studies: The one in the Light casts shadows; The one in the Dark casts light.

Preword: Merry Christmas to everyone and hopes for a holidays with people you love. This is to say that I am returning to WVA to spend two weeks with my mother [and siblings] and will not post the blog for that time. As an aside, I received from good friends an electronic Christmas card which surprised me with its gentle art and pleasant feelings. If you want to, you can go to the site which made it [jaquielawson.com] and she lets you preview it for free--click on "the christmas tree". Art differs in many ways, but something common to it far down deep perhaps unites it all. And, now: UFOs.
People know a great deal about the Colorado Project [though they don't realize how unconscionably screwed up it was]. Almost no person knows that a second study---not a big deal now, let's don't get over-excited---was going on at the same time "in the White House". {Again, don't get crazy just yet}. Here's what happened as much as I think I'm in my rights as a UFO history scholar to tell.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In 1966, Allen Hynek's "swamp gas" gaff created what Dexter, Michigan farmer, Frank Mannor, called [perfectly] a "Hullaballusion" in more ways than the UFO excitement that followed. It, as is well understood, led to the establishment of the Condon/Colorado Project, essentially set up to take the heat off the Air Force and ultimately to dump Project Blue Book. As we saw in yesterday's blog, and in many other cases, the project was abominable in much of its evaluations [largely due to Roy Craig] and its conclusions [largely due to Ed Condon]. In 1967 however another "project" was going on. It came about because James McDonald had really stoked up his already-preternatural country-wide rampage to talk to and enlist every possible source of support for proper UFO study. Well then, why not the President? At the moment we had a president [LBJ] who was known to have some interest in the subject from way back in the late forties when it got going. Due to his high level ties [example Senator Udall] and his unfazed brashness, McDonald contacted [one might say "bugged"] LBJ about UFOs until Johnson decided he had to do something about it. What he did was to borrow Hubert Humphrey's aerotech and space advisor and tell him to make an assessment of the nature of UFOs "to get McDonald off my back". And so it was done.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
{I'm not telling you the name of this advisor yet. CUFOS got a draft of a book about this "activity" from him several years ago, with the idea that it needed some editorial help before it was ready for prime time. That was surely true, and many suggestions later, and three drafts, it still was not (the writer had a wonderful way of explosively writing up his great experiences--highly entertaining and informative, but needing a lot of historical grounding and "polish" to give the reader its best face--we never achieved this). I lost touch with him almost three years ago now and don't know if he wants to publish his book or if it's too much of a hassle. I decided at this time to give you the basics of what this was about, without adding to his hassle by publishing his name. I don't like to do this, but it's my compromise to letting this "cat out of its bag".} But there are plenty of details that I can, I feel, pass along. Our hero thought that this task was interesting and so did several high-powered people he knew. He enlisted Aerotech ace Kelly Johnson [who had seen a UFO and definitely thought there was a lot to the subject] and National Photographic Interpretation Center chief, Arthur Lundahl, who had a personal file on UFOs, particularly film cases, and General James T. Stewart, who was director of Office of Space Systems, working out of the Secretary of the Air Force's office, and legendary University of Michigan astronomer, Hazel Marie Losh, and Brock McMillan, who was Undersecretary of the Air Force in 1963-1965 and currently Director of the National Reconnaissance Office--and two other folks. Whew!! What a line-up!! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------What they did was to meet at least monthly during a good part of 1967. They asked McDonald for at least two "briefings" on UFOs and leaned heavily on Art Lundahl's files and their contacts. McDonald was doing these "semi-private" briefings all over, and does not seem to have suspected that in this case he was feeding an ad hoc study asked for by the President. [there is no evidence in his files that he realized what was happening, although there are mentions by him of his meeting with these people]. Our author's recollections of some things were very definite over all these years [ex. the people and the style of the meetings; the general way they proceeded; and the conclusions they gave to LBJ ]. Some things were not, understandably, as well remembered [ex. the exact dates when this took place; most of the exact cases that they used; how many meetings they had]. He says that he believes that the following were some of the key cases, and that they came from McDonald's briefings: The Kenneth Arnold Case; Exeter, NH; Red Bluff, CA; Levelland, TX; Washington, DC ; Portage County, OH ; Damon, TX . He says there were many more. There are obvious "later insertions" which are mis-rememberings, so details should be taken with some salt.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I'll leave off this longer story with a few of their conclusions to LBJ. A): " the unidentified flying objects i.e. their occupied spacecrafts or probes are real and technically feasible." B): "they have intelligence". C): "UFOS have been observed defending themselves and they have attacked USAF fighters when being pursued by aircraft vectored out on an intercept". [!!!--I doubt that this is exactly what he means--our author has a tendency to strong language. Maybe he means "confronted" rather than "attacked", but ???]. The conclusions go on like this for a couple of dozen--I'm stopping because I don't feel right about blowing all the "news" if he still wants to publish this. [there's no dark secret in here, just very interesting opinions from a group of brilliant folks who took something on in an open-minded way]. I'll give one last one: "These historic and current UFO sightings do not appear to be USA government developments. Often those UFOs seem to be teasing or baiting the innocent ground observers the world over. Not what one might expect if UFOs were under development by the US Government!" To read this draft manuscript was obviously fascinating [not least due to the "insider"/non-UFO stories that he told, often hilariously]. But we shouldn't overrate nor underrate it. It was what it was: a short-term serious study made by powerful well-informed minds, who came to the conclusion that every open-minded student of this subject comes to: The UFOs are real and they are most likely intelligently-controlled extraterrestrial technology. I, for one, am happy to count myself in the company of Lundahl, Johnson, Losh, Stewart, McMillan, and our author.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have We Ever Had A Piece Of A Flying Disk?

People have claimed a fair number of "artifacts" or debris from UFOs but rarely is there anything that remotely checks out as of any interest at all. For me, two, of a very small number of such possibilities, are metals from the Foster ranch [Roswell] debris field and the Brazilian Ubatuba magnesium fragment. This post will say a little something about each of them.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Many UFO-interested people will assume that, with the exception of first hand "holders" of the debris [like Major Marcel], there are no pieces of scientific interest on this Roswellian subject at all. They could be correct, but they could also be mistaken. I want to explain that a bit. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roswell doubters usually lead off with comments like "if we really had a crashed alien spacecraft, everybody'd know it. Our government could never keep that a secret for this long. There'd be leaks all over the place". I'm continually boggled by that approach. We've been having "leaks" on the topic of crashed disks for many decades. I once spent some time cleaning up Dick Hall's files in his basement [long before he died] and came across an old NICAP file in which were a dozen or so pre-Jesse Marcel leaks sent to NICAP in the 50s and 60s. [Who knows where that file is now, or whether anyone ever followed any of them up? ]Leaks we've got aplenty. What we don't have is an authoritative admission that the leaks are true. One big leak was when an AF investigator told William Fortenberry that a crashed disk had been transported to Wright-Pat some time previous. Any secret that the government has, which engages a relatively small number of operatives, can continue to be held out-of-sight, and produces no public impact, can be "leaked till the mutes-come-home" and all it takes is the authorities to say: "nope, not true" and the secret is in effect kept. Other comments like "why would we be putting all that money into dummo chemical propellents to go to the Moon if we had an alien spacecraft?", are met in my mind with ...DUHHH, because we can't understand how it works? People who don't want to even entertain the possibility of Roswell are, to me, people who for some reason I do not understand, don't want it to be real. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I feel motivated to say what my guess is as to how the debris was handled and who probably was involved. Yeh, I'll admit it, I'm BSing here, but it's not completely uninformed. When Schmitt and Randle did their warrior research job on the crash, they got testimony that some small amount of the metals went [fast] to Washington DC [ArmyAir Force Intel in the Pentagon]. As this makes perfect sense, I see no reason not to go along with the idea as an assumption. If so, this stuff should have been hand-carried over to the National Bureau of Standards where it would have been able to be analyzed [and found to be not like any known terrestrially-made alloy] very quickly. Who would have been in on this? Some people very high up in the Pentagon [maybe Hoyt Vandenberg, maybe his right-hand, George Schulgen, some highly-trusted science advisors, probably Truman, the courier to NBS, the analysts at NBS--even though they probably wouldn't be told upfront what this was, their results would have given them the answer--and, maybe or maybe not the head of the NBS, Edward Condon.]No one else need be told. This includes most, if not all, of the folks pictured in the photos above. Would the whole of the National Security Council be told? I doubt It. Not until a lot more was known about this thing, and whether there were any security consequences within their purview. Would the Research and Development Board be brought in ? Not wholesale--maybe some person of special skill, but perhaps no one at all. Would the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Board be brought in? Same thing--no need to know, at least pending further developments. I believe that the problem of figuring out this debris was far beyond our science and these "further developments" never occurred. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This doesn't mean that whoever was controlling this "project" wasn't trying everything they could. Schmitt and Randle have testimony putting the bulk of the crash at Wright-Patterson---specifically at Wright Field. That also makes perfect sense for the time. It was Wright Field [T-3 engineering] who were the boys who worked on actual aircraft and who tried to restore things like crashed German technology from the war. The Wright-Patterson Intelligence community also had no need to know. Did base commander Nathan Twining know? Probably.. but maybe no other office personnel did unless he was blabbing to them. So, what would the crash debris project leaders do? They'd apply their best technology, and hope to find something. When they didn't, they "put-the-stuff-away" until they got news of another technique, and then send out a sample to the techno-wizard who could do the new tests. Have we any information that such things happened? It seems we do. Relatively nearby Wright field is the leading metals development semi-secret [and totally secret if that is what a project required] materials laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute. Battelle and the government worked on countless "sensitive" projects over the years, even including on UFOs. The famous Blue Book Report #14 was all Battelle's. Accomplished UFO researchers, Bill Jones and Irena Scott, who live in Battelle's backyard [in Columbus, Ohio] have heard the rumors and a few full-fledged stories of how apparent UFO debris was handled by Battelle. Bill's tale is precisely "logical" as to how something would go on. Bill had a best friend whose father was a big wheel at Battelle. He got both of them jobs as a matter of fact. The friend was in a close relationship with a girl whose father also worked at Battelle as a metals tester. That father told them that he was happy because he had just gotten a new project testing some metal parts that [he was told] had come from a Soviet device. They were small I-beams which had writing on them. This went on in the late 50s by the way. Some time later, the man came home half drunk and in a disturbed state of mind. Asked what was wrong, he would only say that the material was no part of any Soviet thing, and could not have been made by anyone on this planet. When Bill was told this story [a few years later], he called the friend's father [the Battelle big-wig] and asked about this. He got only a pleasant denial. But after he hung up, his friend told him that the father went in person to his son's [Bill's friend] residence and read him the riot act about talking ever again about matters such as this, especially to a UFO researcher even if it was Bill. Again, this tale makes perfect sense to me. The crash disk project hears of a new test procedure at Battelle, maybe to analyze orderly metallic crystal structure not possible previously. Battelle heavyweights accept the task, knowing what this is about, but assign the actual testing to the guy who can best do the actual technique--not telling him the truth [i.e. Soviet device]. In this case, the guy is so sharp, and the test good enough that he realizes that they've lied to him, and he's not dealing with anything vaguely normal at all. Even with the "leak" ultimately coming to Bill, the whole thing remains "secret" merely because no authority figure ever says that it's true. Without concrete evidence, nothing changes.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Ubatuba magnesium samples were, of course, an entirely different matter. Unlike Roswell, they were "public", in the hands of the "open" research community. The origins of the case leave something to be desired in terms of solid documentation, and the original witnesses have never been interviewed. Still, people in Brazil like Olavo Fontes felt that the case had good enough bona fides to warrant testing the alleged fallen material. Brazilian testing allegedly found "absolutely pure" magnesium, and the legend of an "unmakeable" [by our hands] piece of metal raced around the UFO community. Fontes sent several of the fragments to Coral Lorenzen at APRO. Two things then happened: metallurgical analysis was done at the University of Arizona by Walter Walker, with significant outside partnership with Robert Johnson. This work looked at the composition of the samples and the details of the crystalline structure. Secondly, the University of Colorado [Condon Project] study wished to test the material. The Lorenzens provided chief case investigator, Roy Craig [a chemist], with some of the material in a spirit of cooperation with what everyone hoped would be a scientific project. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Colorado project began correctly by bringing in the nation's leading experts in magnesium technology, Dow Chemicals of Midland, Michigan. From all the evidence, these guys, led by legendary magnesium expert, R.S.Busk, were good people and were willing to go beyond the minimum requests if anyone wanted them to pursue a particular idea. Everyone in the USA who tested the fragments found them not to be perfectly pure at all, and in fact Dow had many samples far purer. The metal did have some very odd elements mixed in with the magnesium [most unusual being Strontium] but this didn't indicate extraterrestriality as any metallurgical scientist could have created such an alloy. This indicates the difficulty one would have on testing any material substance and claiming that we could not make it [MIT physicist David Pritchard has written a brilliant paper showing the very stringent areas wherein such a conclusion might be possible]. The substance, just as in the evaluation of any true UFO, must have sufficient "strangeness" to make the case. One of the few areas wherein a reasonable case can be made concerns the ratio of isotopes of a given element that an artifact would contain. Earth substances have signature isotope ratios. Finding a significant difference would be pretty convincing that the material had come from "somewhere else". Here again, Colorado began well. Craig and Busk took the magnesium to a federal lab for the difficult isotope ratio analysis. What did they find?----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The results are interesting and NOT as the Colorado Project reported. In the photocopied pages to the left, I have high-lighted certain things. [hope you can read them when you click on them--best I could do with these original documents]. In the top two pages Craig notes that the isotope ratio of the Ubatuba magnesium is 14.37% magnesium-26 to magnesium-27 abundance, whereas "Earth" magnesium's ratio is 11.2%. Craig even recalculates the lab's numbers [on the hand-written document] and finds them accurate, and adds that an error-bar [the known accuracy of the tests involved] is only +/- 0.7% and due to some statistical counting problems. The 14.37, even minus the 0.7, still has significant "separation" from the Earth standard so that one should take some notice. Craig and the Colorado Project did not---note the language he tosses to the Lorenzens in the letter illustrated. At best Craig was confused about this. At worst, he simply lied [remember, Roy Craig was a very intelligent man]. Why would he and Condon lie? I believe that it is because they think that UFOs are a priori bunk, this reading doesn't really prove anything, and reporting it [the actual numbers found are never stated either to the Lorenzens nor in the official report] would only agitate the gullible public and the wild UFOlogists. This is not the only instance wherein the project deliberately did bad science and incomplete reporting. All in the name of not rattling you and I, and, one supposes, Roy Craig's prejudices. [he by the way seems to be of those puzzling fellows who is actually quite nice as a person, but weirdly closed down on certain topics]. Later the outstanding Solar Plasma physicist, Peter Sturrock [in the spirit of full disclosure, a friend], did several runs at isotopic ratio determination, and found a clear separation of Ubatuban and Earth-normal distribution. This reading gives stronger meaning to Walter Walker and Robert Johnson's findings that the way this material was crystallized was extremely unusual, and not like metal samples that they were familiar with in normal metallurgy of this element. So...have we ever had a piece of a flying disk? It's up to each of us to answer that, knowing what we can. It's still has to be a bit "gray" for me, but I think Yes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everyday Spirituality: Light


Morning prayers outside...very cold. Don't know if I'll make it or have to go in. Just a few days ago we were under six inches and a blizzard. A Tibetan monk could have handled it, not me. Later in that day, "Dave The Winter Bear" had been around--snowblowing everyone in the neighborhood's walks and my driveway as well. Dave is a minister and my neighbor down the block. He doesn't do this because he is a minister; he is a minister because his heart makes him want to do this. A good guy. A good neighbor. Today, no snow. No birds in the air; no squirrels anywhere in motion. somehow they know perfectly well how to handle this. They "fit" the environment; we don't. Some wisdom there somewhere. Last night a light snow with big flakes. They are still on the ground and ferociously shining like diamonds. Science says that all light, when produced at the same time, is "entangled" --it always is in some profound way joined to all its parts no matter how far they seem to have flown away. The "Big Light" of the start of the universe was "together". It still is. All that light, all the matter that came from it, it's all still One. Newton would have loved that. And today I have my diamonds. The sunlight comes and goes as the puff clouds play their games with it. If I can just hang on out here for a bit more...and there it finally is: an Arabian Princess has just scattered her treasure box of colored jewels. Hundreds of the diamonds have turned to sapphires, rubies, emeralds...no need for Science now....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Catherine Crowe and the Nightside of Nature, part two.

Rowena, who might be the best fantasy illustrator around, has nearly perfectly expressed the "Nightside of Nature" as I imagine Catherine Crowe to feel towards it. This "nightside" encompasses dreams, doppelgangers, ghosts, and the "altered states of consciousness" that produce the phenomena of that nightside. Catherine saw in these incidents of the nightside, not diseases nor delusions of the brain, but moments wherein we glimpsed the spiritworld [or perhaps what we today might call the "psychic"]. To make her case, she collected piles of witness accounts and packed them into her book alongside her analysis and theories about what was going on. She began with reports relating to dreams, and proceeded to doppelgangers, wraiths, and poltergeists [among other things]. This entry will concern her entry ideas and some of her dream cases. After taking a break, I'll get back to her and present some of the other topics.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In chapters 3 & 4 of Nightside [the first evidential chapters of the book], Catherine indicates that she has dozens of dream-related anomalies which she has collected, and goes on to present thumbnail condensations of about 40 of them. "Instances of this sort are numerous; but it would be tedious to narrate them, especially as there is little room for variety in the details...The frequency of the phenomena may be imagined, when I mention that the instances I shall give, with few exceptions, have been collected with little trouble, and, without seeking, beyond my own small circle of acquaintance." She is being a bit modest, as her "small circle" included the highest educated crowd that Edinburgh had to offer, including not only people like Combe and Charles Dickens, but the great early neuro-scientist, John Abercrombie [from whom she received several of her more interesting anecdotes] and elite visitors like Hans Christian Andersen. When Andersen was introduced at a get-together for a visiting scientist, he and Catherine were introduced on an equal footing as two outstanding authors. {At that same party, by the way, Catherine was one of two guests willing to experiment by "drinking ether" to go into an altered state. She doesn't talk about this in her book, so I don't know if anything happened other than she got stoned. As you read her book however, you can see that she would do this to try to see if it produced an out-of-body state wherein she might experience some of the things she was writing about. But alas, the guest just said that she and the other lady just turned into ghastly zombies and scared the hell out of him}. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Even though Catherine couldn't tell us of her own experiences, she told plenty of others. At the right is an illustration of Charles Dickens literally dreaming up the things he wrote about. Catherine thought this unleashing of creativity in the dreamstate indicated that within us was a "Seer-in-the-Temple" who had great abilities often blocked by the normal functionings of our physical bodies. In dreams, some of this blockage was swept aside, possibly allowing a clearer seeing. Abercrombie told her of a patient of his [a young girl] who had been placed in a bedroom beside another in which an amateur, but virtuoso, violin player resided. He played long into the night, and, though good, the young girl hated it because she could get no sleep. This girl was a rather dull child as well, and showed no talent for music, nor much interest in anything of that sort. She became ill, and a charitable woman took her in and she was at last in a "silent" bedroom. The lady began hearing music at night, and, upon inspection, found that these sounds, well imitative of the violin [even to the tuning up], were issuing from the mouth of the child who remained asleep. The phenomenon increased to include piano sounds, and finally to spoken discourse upon erudite subjects of religion and politics, of which she seemed unaware when awake in the day. To us, it would seem that some sort of autistic genius had been released during the altered state of sleep. Catherine, without using that vocabulary, considered it so. But she had bigger fish to fry when it came to dream stories. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A young man of fifteen [he told Catherine his story later in life] was visiting friends away from home when he had a powerful dream that his mother was very ill. He awoke, considered that his mother had been in good health when he left, assumed that it was "only a dream", and went back to sleep. The dream returned just as powerfully. He got up, dressed in the dark, and silently left his friend's house to make the long walk back home. When he arrived, his mother was still alive, but barely. She had been calling out his name for him to return. [This is no happy story as his mother soon died]. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A sister dreamt that her brother called her to his bedside. He wanted her to deliver a letter to their aunt, so that she could pass it on to their other brother already deceased. In the dream he told her that he, the living brother, was going to be "there" soon, but their aunt would be "there" even before him, and could deliver the letter sooner than he. Still in the dream, the sister took the letter to the aunt, whom she found in a radiant shining state. The next morning the sister found that her aunt had passed that night. A short time later her brother also passed.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dr. Abercrombie gave her this one: a sister dreamt that a valuable watch had stopped. While still in the dream, she "woke" and told her sister about the watch. Again in the continuing dream, her sister says "something more important has stopped"-their brother's heart. This shocks her awake. She goes to her brother's room, and all is OK. The next night it all happens again. But the following morning, while writing, she notices that the watch pictured in the dream has indeed stopped. Simultaneously there is a scream from her sister in her brother's room. He has just died. [Catherine notes the peculiar fact that there are a whole suite of anecdotes in which a time-keeping device fails at the moment of death. At Goethe's death, his clock allegedly quit working].------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------These stories could be the province of clairvoyance + deduction [from known failing conditions] + some post-death psychokinesis, rather than seeing-the-future in some direct manner. My theology [involving free-will and therefore a non-fixed future] would prefer it so, but the cases are challenging. Catherine herself says much the same thing.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The next case doesn't involve the dying. A gentleman from the south of Scotland told Catherine that he had a dream wherein he entered his office to find a former employee [of whom he had not thought in many months] sitting on a stool. He asked the clerk why he was there, and received the answer that he was at a point that he just felt the need to revisit old portions of his life and acquaintances. The dream being exceptionally vivid, he told others at breakfast, and went on to the office...where, of course, the former clerk awaited him, perched on the stool.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------An eminent Edinburgh lawyer dreamt that he was in the street watching a gallows wagon taking someone to be hung. The man's face was vivid and seemed evil. He told associates at breakfast the next day and went to the office. That afternoon two men arrived, one of whom was the man in the dream. they wished for his services as an advocate saying that some charge of murder was being laid. The barrister questioned them and became convinced that he would be defending a guilty party, so he refused [he admitted to Catherine that the dream had prejudiced him]. He said that their only chance was to run for it--which they did. They were, however, caught and tried together for the crime. As the story evolved, the one in the dream was guilty, the other was not. But both were convicted anyway. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Our last story of these chapters is a German tale, from Johan Jung-Stilling, and is not from the dream state. At the University of Marburg, the mathematics professor, a man named Boehm, was at a party with friends when he was afflicted with the most unusual urge to take his leave of them and go home. He fought this off for a while but it was ultimately too much and he left. Arriving at his residence, all was still not well as an urge was still at him; this time to move the bed in his room. This he thought was nonsensical and would not do so. The urge persisted and built until he relented and with the maid's help moved the bed to the other side of the room. Urgency suddenly left him, and feeling better, he returned to his party. Later that night, back at home and sleeping, he was awakened by a thunderous crash. A beam from the roof had ruptured and broken through the ceiling, landing in the former spot of his bed.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Catherine does not know exactly how to explain all these things. She only knows that they happen and should not be ignored. She attempts to grasp the problem of cause by building a model of human consciousness wherein occasional unusual mindstates or environmental circumstances release us from normal limitations and allow such marvels to come to mind.
Catherine's model is based loosely on her understanding of the sort of thinking involved in "Plato's Cave". Her "Seer-in-the-Temple {of the body}" is her more poetical way of phrasing this. She sees our normal consciousness as being fixed [by some law of natural design?] towards the physical universe of common experience. We "must" see in that "direction". Only when we are in some non-normal circumstance can the Seer "turn" [this is my phraseology not hers, but I firmly believe that this is what she is saying] and experience reality through different pathways, and experience entirely different elements of reality--ex. psychic gifts and spiritworld realities. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The whole thrust of her book aims at supporting the model that the human Seer {The Soul} rests under some form of Law of Design within the Temple {The Body} and can under some circumstances [often involving damage to or deprivation of the body] be released from these limitations and, in the extreme, produce Out-of-Body experiences [this term was already in use in the German literature] including most significantly wraiths, ghosts, poltergeists et al. The imaginative painting at the right would be one way of imagining the Seer loosed and coming out of another "cave mouth" to fly on the psychic winds, perhaps even "up the Light Tunnel" to the Divine. This breaking away from the forced fixation of normal consciousness is the route to all the paranormal and spirit experiences that she relates in Nightside. As said, I'll try to get back to some of her later chapter topics in the future.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Catherine Crowe and the Battle for the Mind and Heart of Humanity

This might well be a post that some people would rather skip. I have a good friend who accuses me, disapprovingly, of producing "candy" on this blog. He wants me to write about things like the nature and purpose of Creation, the reason why evil is inevitable in the world, what GOD wants and the meaning of existence...etc. Well, I'm not afraid of that and maybe someday we'll do it. But since this blog already indicated the existence of GOD [via John von Neumann] in post #3 [and#4], presented Bob Jahn's proof for the freedom of the will in post #7, indicated post-death survival in posts #5 &16, and the spirit world left, right and center all over the place, I thought we weren't doing too badly. But it's a tough crowd out there. This post isn't about any of these superheavyweight topics [at least directly] but it's not "candy" either. The reason for this, and what I'm about to do, is this: I have been reading Catherine Crowe's 1840's book, The Nightside of Nature. I didn't suspect what I would find there. Catherine Crowe is a forgotten genius and intuitive warrior for the maintenance of our awareness of the presence of the spiritual world. She is also one of the most insightful people about the narrowing of the establishment academic mind and, what we would call, its CSICOPean debunking trajectory. She, in the 1840s saw clearly all the problems and cultural stupidities that we, who are interested in the anomalies, see today. Magnificient. But not "candy". I am driven to write about her. But I am likewise driven to place her and her concerns within the intellectual historical context which produced her thoughts and concerns, which remain ours today. So, some may like this; some may tolerate it; some may be bored stiff---you are forewarned. The other thing is: this is not simple intellectual history analysis--I may not be up to the challenge. I just hope that I don't botch it too badly. So, first, placing Dear Catherine [I'm already in love with her, though the age difference will probably make this not work out] respectfully "in waiting", let's go back to one of the beginnings of this huge story.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the seventeenth century there had developed a serious hole in the Truth-speaking hierarchy.The churches had lost their position as guardians of what one must believe [partly because they were "churches", post-reformation, and not just "Church"]. The royalty had authority only in the sense that they'd hurt you if you didn't do what they said. No one else had yet "stood up". Galileo and Kepler et al didn't quite cut it. And then along came Newton. I believe that it is nearly impossible to overrate Newton's impact on changing the entirety of the world's mind about what is true and what is acceptable. Newton filled the Truth gap. Newton's accomplishments made people think that we don't need churches nor royalty anymore; we can do this Truth thing all by ourselves. Science was the path. Religion was not. Strangely that was the exact opposite of what Newton himself thought. When Newton went about his explorations, he was doing nothing but looking for GOD. When he found how Gravity behaved, he felt that the simple mathematics which described it was a thought from the Mind of GOD. When he hefted a stone, he felt that he was directly experiencing the Will of GOD. But others went the other way. Throughout the eighteenth century [The Enlightenment], the researchers in the physical sciences were more and more discarding the Spiritual as having any relevance whatever. When Napoleon handed Laplace back his great astronomical treatise [which sort of "completed" Newton's mechanics] , he claimed to have read it [a joke], but wanted to know why he had not seen any mention of GOD in it. That's when Laplace gave his famous retort: "I have no need for that hypothesis". Laplace, speaking for the Enlightenment, was saying more than merely a comment about atheism. His comment nullifies at a stroke all-things-spiritual and sweeps half the stars from the "scientific sky". It is the gauntlet thrown, even in the face of the mightiest ruler in Europe, that the spiritual is myth. Physics is the easiest science, as it is the simplest. The new reductionism could flourish there. But others were trying to apply the new attitudes to more complex matters. This included the nature of Humanity and the mind itself. A prominent enlightenment figure, Baron d'Holbach, promulgated the idea that the human was essentially an elaborate machine with no "ghost" inside to will it. This was a bit much for some to swallow, in the late 1700s, but it was an idea that was gaining ground in reductionist "scientific" circles. It got a big boost when Luigi Galvani applied voltaic fluid [electricity] to a dead frog, and apparently reactivated the frog's "life force". Reductionists jumped on this as demonstrating that Life itself was just electricity coursing through a machine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
About 40 years ago, when I was pretending to be a science historian, I noticed, as had many before me, that this reductionism did not go down well with a large important segment of the culture of the time. These people were the artists and the poets and the music-makers. The mathematical clock world of Laplace et al, the lifeless world of d'Holbach, the essential "deadness" of people and nature, just wasn't resonating with the "artistic" intuitive soul. And as a result, there was a huge revolt which we today call the Romantic Revolution. It began with poets like Byron and Shelley, and painters breaking away from the mannered controlled style of rococo, and the Mozart and Beethoven emotion as they left behind Haydn's beautiful but sterile Clocks. Ultimately even Science itself shucked its excess restrictiveness and let fly some grand theories which in their ways sponsored a burst of creative discoveries on their own. The main driver for the Revolution was the distaste for the Man-as-nothing-more-than-Machine concept. It is no accident that precisely in the heat of this revolt was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. This is no "scary bedtime story". This is the big fear that we are no more than meat, purposeless meat, animated by purposeless electricity. This is the horror NOT that the monster will destroy its creator, but that the concept of the monster, if true, destroys all of us in any sense of significance. This was the war that was going on "for the souls of humanity" when Catherine Crowe was becoming an educated woman in Edinburgh. She sensed that this was not only horrible but wrong even from an empirical point of view. Thus she wrote her great book.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The late 1700s and early 1800s was an unusual time for women as well. Women were somehow managing to overcome obstacles and become deeply educated in things that they were left out of previously. Doubtless to the surprise of most of the males, some of them proved to be more intelligent than they were. Three outstanding examples of this were Mary Sommerville [astronomer and physicist] who not only "read" her own papers of discovery before the Royal Society, but published the best treatment of the scope of physical discovery which pointed to the great attempt at a "theory of everything", 19th century-style. Margaret Bryan, schoolteacher and astronomer, wrote her Compendious History of Astronomy, the best such treatise of the subject. Jane Marcet, an American, wrote Conversations in Chemistry which strongly influenced the great Michael Faraday to take up the subject. Some of these ladies were educated in Girl's schools, some got their science from public lectures. Part of Catherine Crowe's studies came from lectures given in Edinburgh as an unofficial activity of the University and certain key local intellectuals. This was the Edinburgh Association for Procuring Instruction in Useful and Entertaining Sciences. Formed in 1832 under the leadership of an unusual man, George Combe, it offered public lectures [for a small fee] to all comers [including the ladies]. Catherine Crowe was one who attended Combe's and doubtless many other lectures. The subjects ranged from Chemistry to Astronomy to Physiology to Phrenology. Despite phrenology being the least reputable of the offerings [in this case for good reason], it was by far the most attended. Combe himself was the lecturer on that and his predilection for the subject doubtless made him a rebel against the materialist reductionism that had grown large again in London. Catherine Crowe thought highly of Combe's general attitudes about about the nature of mankind being more than just the physical, though she said little or nothing about his phrenology ideas. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What she DID get fired up about was the elimination in intellectual circles [the wave of Romanticism was rapidly ebbing by 1840] of consideration of the spiritual. Debunkers were now aggressively on the rampage and the trend towards laughing off such outdated errors and primitive folklore beliefs was on. One of the most prominent of these early CSICOPeans was the excellent laboratory optical scientist, David Brewster. Brewster believed that it was part of his duty to squash these old myths which had been holding the human march of knowledge back for so long. One way that he pursued this duty was to publish one of the earliest debunking books on record, Letters on Natural Magic, which he addressed to Sir Walter Scott. In it he serially blasted one "myth" after another, including things like apparitions, ghosts, hauntings et al which he attributed to errors of the human mind, including actual diseases. In the page to the right, he states that these matters are nothing but "spectral illusions" of the unstable mind and nothing of significance. Combe, of course, believed entirely otherwise, and Catherine was positively outraged by the idea [though she has the discipline to politely tell these sorts of folks that they are not only unscientific, closed-minded, prejudiced, but full-of-crap---Catherine would never use such language of course].--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Being as she was a well-educated, well-read, and well-connected lady, Catherine already knew many people who had had apparitional or haunting experiences, and Brewster's "explanations" seemed to apply to few if any of them. To check herself, she did what any good anomalies researcher would do: find out just how widespread the phenomena really were. To do that, she actively sought out the stories from her contemporaries, while also reading the literature, including the foreign publications. She found much in both these areas, especially the German literature, which she read fluently---even translating some of it for the British readership. An author that was particularly interesting to her was Joseph Ennemoser, whose works she read prior to them being translated by Howitt [I'm mentioning all this detail because I want to make it obvious that this is a major "woman-of-substance"]. She also quotes from sources like Johan Jung-Stilling and many others. It would be a very bold claim to say that she was not well read in the relevant literature nor knew what she was talking about. Throughout her reading she is primarily interested in the reports of anomalous spirit-oriented encounters, more than the "philosophies" of the writers, though she is interested in them as well, and certainly understands what these guys are talking about. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Out of all that came the book at the left. It is a forgotten classic and you can read for yourself what the chapters cover. I'm going to go over some of her specific cases and thoughts in the next post. Today I want to complete by quoting some of her insight. Dear Catherine, the stage is yours: "A great many things have been pronounced untrue and absurd, and even impossible, by the highest authorities in the age in which they lived, which have afterwards, and indeed within a very short period, been found to be both possible and true. I confess myself, for one, to have no respect whatever for these dogmatic denials and affirmations, and am quite of the opinion that vulgar incredulity is a much more contemptible thing than vulgar credulity [you go, girl!]. We know very little of what is and still less of what may be; and till a thing has been proved, by induction, logically impossible, we have no right whatever to pronounce that it is so. As I have said before, a priori conclusions are perfectly worthless; and the sort of investigation that is bestowed upon subjects of the class of which I am treating, something worse; inasmuch as they deceive the timid and the ignorant, and that very numerous class that pins its faith on authority and never ventures to think for itself, by an assumption of wisdom and knowledge, which, if examined and analyzed, would prove very frequently to be nothing more respectable than obstinate prejudice and rash assertion. " Woo-Wee---give 'em hell! I was definitely born 150 years too late. But, returning to a more scholarly mode: our great lady has just expressed the war cry of the intelligent anomalist, and even pointed out how these boxed-in reductionists actually harm the business of science which they erroneously think they protect. And, most importantly in Catherine's mind, they harm the whole of humanity and our future by denying that part of reality which gives purpose to anything. In the next post, once I recover from this marathon piece of intellectual history, I'll try to begin at least to give some of the specific cases that Catherine thinks are true and support her case for the spirit reality. "Catherine's Candy" here we come.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

OUT PROCTOR: a balloonist's fantastic, frustrating, fragmented tale.

This will be a short post. It's so because I haven't a lot of solid information on the topic to present to you and I'm not into a lot of speculating, at least on this. This story will probably titillate you, due to the people involved, and drive you a bit nuts, due to the incompleteness of the tale. It has done so for me. Here goes.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The central figure in the story is Don Piccard of Ballooning"s "first family". Don Piccard has been described as the creator of modern hot-air ballooning with his relentless pursuit of adventure and thrills riding the winds. He was born in 1926 to Jean-Felix and Jeannette Piccard [chemists and balloonists] and served in the Navy during WW2. After the war he went to the balloon capital of the US, the University of Minnesota, but never graduated. Always up for wild experiences, he made the first post-WW2 free flight in a captured Japanese FUGO balloon [showing that his family had highly placed military connections]. In 1948 he organized the Balloon Club of America in concert with a club in the Cleveland area and one loosely associated with Goodyear in Akron. All this adventuring may have contributed to his dropping out of school, but it did nothing but raise his taste for ballooning higher. He kept tinkering around with balloons during the early 1950s and knew many Navy pilots in the Minneapolis area, as well as the General Mills engineering teams. In 1957, he piloted his father's design of the first plastic "Pleiades" cluster balloon as shown in the LIFE magazine spread at the left. Still, he didn't know where his life was heading with any real direction. Then, in 1958, the following fragmented tale happened.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The best that I can do is to tell you how what we know came out. In 1967, James McDonald was sweeping the country in his tornado-like fashion giving UFO talks to scientists and engineers of all stripes. On September 24th he was in Akron talking at Kent State University. That evening he had dinner with members of the local UFO organization associated with Goodyear Rubber Corporation [from WW2 onward the country's leader in blimps and lighter-than-air military craft]. The leader of the local group, a good UFOlogist named Larry Moyers, told McDonald that Don Piccard had been there and told him and others that he had an encounter in the New Mexico desert in 1958. This encounter was what we would call today a Close Encounter of the Third Kind. McDonald was always a conservative UFOlogist of the NICAP type, but this was a renown witness somewhat in McDonald's own field [atmospheric research], and Big Mac had also recently heard of the Betty and Barney Hill case. So...maybe. McDonald himself was fully occupied with dozens of UFO-related activities and did not get back to this until he was able to locate Piccard's current address the following summer. As usual, he phoned him. McDonald went into the call knowing only that Piccard claimed to have had some kind of "on-board experience" and that it had lasted three hours. Here's where it gets frustrating. All we have of McDonald's phone call are his notes. They are far from revealing though. I'll give you all I have. Piccard told McDonald that he was in New Mexico and had decided to drive off and blow off steam. At some [unnamed] small town he went into a bar. He swore to McDonald that he was not drunk and what happened had nothing to do with anything like that. While at the bar, someone, apparently a normal appearing bar attendee, came over to him and began to engage him in conversation. Ultimately he asked Piccard if he would like to see something interesting "outside". Always up for it, Piccard said yes and they left. At a place unspecified [even as to how far from the bar it was], Piccard had his experience of the "on-board" three hours. NO DETAILS OF THAT ARE IN MCDONALD'S NOTES. grrrrr. Piccard said that he was fuzzy about what happened afterward and couldn't remember how he got home and into bed. The next morning he awoke and thought "My God What Happened?"--that last is at least a direct quote. Boggled by this, he began doing what many UFO experiencers do: making up ridiculous "explanations". He wondered if someone had played a joke on him [an on-board three hour experience--right]. He also wondered if it had all been a dream--but he didn't really believe that as he told others about it and went on to speculate as to why "they" would want to single him out for such a thing. He wondered if these "people' were time travelers [probably --this is me B.S.ing-- a reaction if the entities looked exactly like us ]. McDonald quizzed him about UFOs and he didn't have much information about them. Most significantly he'd never heard of the Hills. McDonald then said this: "I told him a bit about it because it seemed to have some bearing on his own experience" [my emphasis]. This must mean that Piccard told McDonald MUCH more than is in the notes, and that "much more" bears some resemblance to the Betty and Barney Hill case. When McDonald wrote back to Larry Moyers on July 25th, 1968, he told Moyers that Piccard "in his frankness went into a good bit more detail than I feel free to elaborate on here, all of which underscored his reluctance to regard this as a profitable case for me to pursue". I cannot read this sentence without thinking of the things that Barney Hill said he underwent in his on-board examination and how embarrassing that was for him. Still, that is speculation. ....and that's where the substance of McDonald's notes end. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There's little more that I can add. I asked my good UFO buddy, Bill Jones, if he could find out if anyone knew Larry Moyers and could corroberate the story. One person did. Also, UFO giant Barry Greenwood sent me a reference which said that Robert Wood had mentioned to McDonald that he had heard that an X-15 pilot had been "missing" for a time during a flight---I know nothing about that, and I doubt it seriously, but the relevance here is that McDonald suggested that the pilot, Gene May, get in touch with Piccard as their experiences might have things in common. Not until now do we know why McDonald would have suggested such a thing. Well, that's all I've got on this one, folks. It has just come to my attention that Don Piccard may still be alive. If so, why don't one of you get in touch with him and see if he'll deny the whole thing or instead spill the beans? Out Proctor with the great balloonist...but interesting. [[ I have to skip a couple of days now to sit back in a clear space and read Catherine Crowe, so that I have a chance of writing understandable and accurate things about her fascinating approach to the spiritworld manifestations. So, see you in a couple of days.]]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UFOs?...Uhhh,They're BALLOONS!! Yep. That's What they Are.

This blog entry is about the title [UFOs and Balloons] but it is mainly about the critical importance of learning UFO/Government history. The only reason that certain falsities about the subject are allowed to go on interminably is that no one really knows anything about what really went on. Many good people keep disrespecting the subject because they cannot believe that "science" and the Air Force would have so thoroughly lied and/or otherwise misinformed them through all these years. This little entry is part of one "chapter" in how all that could happen.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UFOs and balloons have a long history, beginning almost immediately in the 1947 wave with the spectacular lie by General Roger Ramey at the Fort Worth press conference, where he denigrated Major Jesse Marcel by posing him with an ordinary weather balloon and saying [essentially and unmistakably] that Marcel was incapable of telling the difference between a simple balloon and a flying disk allegedly found at Roswell. But we'll let Roswell lie quietly for now and pursue the more general disinformation about balloons and UFOs. The villain in the story is a scientist working for the U S Navy's Office of Naval Research. His name was Urner Liddel; he was very smart; he knew all the science big-wigs personally [like Edward Condon, a friend]; and he was in charge of the nuclear science desk at ONR. He also had gotten interested in UFOs in the late 1940s and when the Navy's Intelligence officers in the Pentagon began receiving all of the USAF's UFO reports after 1948, they passed them on to ONR and they passed through Liddel's desk. Then, in late 1951 [and into 1952] Liddel got so "exercised" by the UFO problem that he issued his own special study declaring them to be mostly erroneous sightings of USN secret balloons, mainly launched in New Mexico and Minnesota. This personal study he was happy to present to the national press, who loved it and gave it big play. Although the big General Mills project balloons did look awesome and even beautiful in the high atmosphere, there were a few problems with his thesis as we shall see---problems which it seems impossible to believe that he did not know. The Air Force itself DID know the problems [i.e. that the entire idea was preposterous for 90+% of the incidents], but was happy to remain silent while some highly educated "expert" created a diversion. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The "Big Research Balloon" theory had remarkable staying power despite its absurdity. Three years after Liddel's "revelations" [in 1954] it had a particularly big year with major national media outlets resurrecting and parading it about to the relief, one supposes, of both the Air Force and the more hysterical-oriented part of the American public. Two of the sources shown on the left are Collier's magazine and U.S.News and World Report, showing the kind of coverage such a debunking claim could command. The newspaper story is even more interesting to the UFO historian, as it quotes the CEO in charge of secret balloon research at General Mills as saying that their balloons are responsible for the UFO craze. Certainly this is as close to the "horse's mouth" as you can get and so it must be true. But NONE of it was true and all the important "authority figures" had to know it. Well...pretty bold statement by me. Where do I get off making such an accusation?--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Unlike Liddel and even Bullis, it was the boys at the left who actually flew the secret balloons. What did they say? THEY ALL SAW UFOS. Not their own balloons, but UFOs coming to "visit" or "inspect" or "whatever they were doing" at their balloon launches. Commander McLaughlin, who headed up the Navy projects out of White Sands Proving Grounds, saw a UFO and had others reported to him. One such case was by Charles Moore, the scientific leader on the site. Most astounding were the experiences of J.J.Kaliszewski and his launch teams at General Mills in Minnesota. We are lucky that Tom Tulien interviewed Kaliszewski for the UFO Oral History Project. Here are some quotes: After saying that he and his buddies just laughed at Liddel's article when it came out, he told Tom this: "[In 1951] we were up there watching the balloon for possible malfunction, when all of a sudden into our field of vision comes this object--had no business being there--so this is what we reported. Oh, it passed behind the balloon, over the balloon, oh, it moved around. It had to have some interest in the balloon or it wouldn't have hung around." A day later it happened again. Kaliszewski thought that [since he had an rough idea of how far away the balloon was from his plane] that the object was moving rapidly at about 1500-2000 mph. "Some of these balloons, they attracted these things. I would say, starting with the 50s through the late 50s there must have been dozens of sightings but nobody bothered to report them. [More about that later]. I've had a number of sightings, but I didn't log them because nobody'd listen to you. If you did have a sighting--if that thing began changing altitudes in 10 or 15 seconds from out-of-space where you almost couldn't see it, down to ground level, and then go right to left at estimated several thousand miles per hour, and all of a sudden make a 90 degree turn and go in a different direction--we've seen all those things and there's no way that the human body could handle it. If you talked to somebody, they just pooh-poohed. You couldn't talk to Wright Field [Project Grudge at the time] or any of the design groups around the country". Kaliszewski and his team had obviously seen quite a few remarkable things. Some clarification is needed for some of his remarks. He and the General Mills teams DID report their cases originally, and only after receiving disrespectful treatment by the USAF did they refuse to continue. Nevertheless, they had such numerous sightings that they kept records on self-made forms for a while, and several of their cases [ex. Moore's, two of Kaliszewski's, a famous one from Artesia, NM etc] DID get to the USAF. But, by 1952, they were so miffed at the Air Force that Captain Ruppelt said they almost threw him out in the snow when he went up there to try to reestablish a connection with them. The main point is clear: Not only were balloons NOT the "explanation" for UFOs, but some of the most powerful unknowns on record came while the balloon scientists were launching those same balloons!! If this weren't so disgusting, it would be hilarious.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Let's end this today with a minor point and then a major one. The minor point is that it was probably true that top secret balloons were involved in a minority of UFO cases. Although I will get a few of my friends mad at me, I believe that it's 99% clear that the famous Mantell plane crash of 1948 involved a mistake with a balloon. Some of my other buddies would include another 1948 "classic", the George Gorman "lightball chase", as a balloon event--that I'm not nearly so sure of--the testimony of the ground witnesses makes me demure. And at the other end of the spectrum, the Roswell write-off is utterly ridiculous as any balloon. On the major point(s) to take from this, let's stop and consider the characters in the story. What-in-the-H___ explains Urner Liddel? Because he sat in ONR looking at all the UFO reports, he HAD to see his own Navy Research cases, and he HAD to know that his own balloon guys saw UFOs! There aren't many hypotheses to deal with him. He is either a bald liar, or he is profoundly ignorant, or something is wrong with his mind. He, due to his position, almost cannot be "profoundly ignorant". And, take this for what it's worth, my reading of his writing and his letters to Condon leads me to believe that HE believed what he said, and also that he was the kind of ego-centric loose cannon that the intelligence community would not risk assigning some conspiratorial task. It will probably surprise you, but I believe that there was something wrong with his mind. What was wrong was that something in his view of reality was so strongly abhorrent to this concept that he could not analyze nor think straight when he was addressing it. Smart as he was in many ways, he was when it came to threats [to his sanity?] a "messed up dude". We've had a whole angry crowd of such people, standing in the path to discovery. I think that it is time to entertain the hypothesis that in some serious way, they are crazy. What else, really, can explain staring right at information and either not even seeing it or hysterically blocking it, and replacing common sense with some of the most preposterous ideas that even informed children can see through? The august Mr. Bullis may be another such guy, or, in his case he may have been honoring a request from the USAF. Either way, he just flatly disinformed the public. It is circumstances like these played out over and over in UFO history which explain how the current state of ignorance and disinformation has been able to be maintained. But no claims by UFO exponents can be treated seriously unless the doubter would dig into the documents of our history. THEN, one finds the astounding picture of what actually went on with both the government and a few media-blessed "scientists" [it sticks in my craw to give them that designation]. But digging into real history is real work. No such truth will be dawning on the general consensus reality anytime soon....sadly. All you and I can do on these matters we care about is to stand up to the snickering ignoramuses, a task much easier if we actually learn something in depth ourselves. But...count to ten...we have one great advantage: we have fun, and they're just grumpily miserable.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ready or Not, Part Two

Yesterday the story about the Grave Creek Tablet challenged established views of European presence in the Western Hemisphere, but was a hard-to-buy piece of isolated data, despite the concrete facts of the case. Today isn't about Moundsville or even the Adena culture [necessarily] but it is about another data point which makes for me the possibility of erratic visits by long-distance passers-by more believable. Today is about old Irish writing inscribed on a cave wall in central West Virginia.
One nice thing about being in a small and simple state like West Virginia is that you can "comprehend" the extent of the strange claims which have been made there and even locate them if you wanted to make a little tour there. The map puts Mothman, the Flatwoods Monster, the Wyoming County "Irish" Ogham, and even my own UFO sighting "in their places". You can see from the map that the old cave writing is quite far from the Grave Creek Mound, which is off the top of the map. If the Ogham writing is real, it is also quite distant in time, being likely more of the 600AD era than 100BC. The "scratches" on the cave wall in Wyoming County were known to the state's amateur archaeological society at least as early as the 1940s but didn't receive any serious attention until about 40 years later. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The reason for the slowness of attention was probably that A). the state had no formally empowered archaeologist [despite Delf Norona of the Grave Creek Museum and others in the amateur archaeological society crying out for one] and B). the crude-looking ogham writing wasn't at all well understood, and, frankly looked like someone was just scratching their knife blades on rocks. Once Irish and Celtic language scholars began to figure out this weird form of writing, people began looking for it, and of all places they found some in the West Virginia hills. The key figures in this exposition were an energetic amateur, Ida Gallagher, and one of the first official state archaeologists, Robert Pyle. [Pyle is in the center photo on the right, standing with a colleague as they chalked the ogham markings at the rockface.] Of course no one wanted to believe that anyone could find a Dark Ages European language of any sort in West Virginia, let alone one as controversial and "ill-formed" as ogham.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, is ogham a language at all? And what the heck is it anyway? When I was in Ireland I saw several Oghamstones and my pictures of them are on the right. Ogham could be termed a minimalist form of writing geared to be incised on very hard surfaces such as stone. For that reason it has no curves. Letters are composed of series of straight cuts. Some forms of ogham used long and short cuts, some use straight or slanted cuts, some use cuts above or below a horizontal line. The technique is awkward and very rarely used for any message that would be long. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Robert Pyle turned out to be a good man for the moment. When I met him, he proved to be an "empirical" sort of guy, in no awe or restriction by the archaeological establishment at all. What he wanted to do was get out in the field and discover things. Walking the woods with Robert Pyle is a real trip. Every ten feet he's bending over to pick up a fossil or an arrowhead or, once, a piece of very old Native American copper. In a way, the man's a discovery a minute. Probably the biggest thing he'll ever be involved with is the finding of an ancient Irish language on a cave wall.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[The picture associated with this part of the text has lost its ability to be clicked upon so I'll just say that the person in the upper left is Glyn Daniel and the person on the right is Robert Meyer. The relevant text of Meyer's letter is quoted at the bottom of the following paragraph.]------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------But who says he did? Glyn Daniel is the editor of the hoary journal Antiquity, and thereby the holder of the keys to the kingdom of acknowledged truth. He has not only denied all such matters as Grave Creek Tablets and Wyoming County Ogham but does so in the most uncivilized and mockery-laden ways. His "arguments" almost never consist of facts and usually feature the apparent impossibility of such nonsense and the fact that such discoveries don't fit with the current theories [as if that should be taken as a definitive prohibition]. But Daniel didn't count on a prominent establishment expert abandoning the Ship-of-Dogma and going rogue. This expert was about as expert as you can get, in fact, being one of the world's best at Celtic language forms. Catholic University's Robert Meyer looked at the information sent to him and instead of laughing, went himself to visit the cave. Upon studying the markings in situ, Meyer pronounced them not only genuine ogham of a type used around 500-600AD but a real treasure of language in their own right, being one of the longer passages of the language available to scholars. One suspects that Daniel nearly chewed glass when he heard that. Well OK, says I, I'm up for old Irish in West Virginia as much as anyone, but it would be a lot more convincing if someone would translate this thing and the translation make sense. To try to bring the story all the way home, the extremely controversial former Harvard professor and
lover of all things archaeologically out-of-place, Barry Fell, came out with this interpretation: "At the time of sunrise, a ray grazes the notch on the left side [think Indiana Jones or Archaeoastronomy, folks] on Christmas Day, a feastday of the Church, the first seven of the year, the season of the blessed advent of the Savior, Lord Christ. Behold, He is born of Mary, a woman". Hmmm...I guess that I could imagine a group of Brendanesque monks "celebrating" Christmas wherever they were, and making an ogham memorial of it. But this seems to claim something more--a promise of a light signal of some kind. On December 22, 1982 four people who had been involved with the research [led by Ida Gallagher, but unfortunately for me, not including Robert Pyle] went to the cave to record the sun effect at sunrise. The Sun broke above the nearby hill at about 9AM and its rays hit the writing on the panel. It funneled through a three-sided notch and moved across the writing finally falling on the Sunburst symbol at the end of the line. Since no one had suspected this before Fell's interpretation, and since no one had noticed that three separate rock extensions formed a "notch" for the light until then, the group was understandably stunned. Ida Gallagher said that "light had just fallen on West Virginia prehistory". Nicely said, and, yes, full of wonder. But we shouldn't make this mean more than it is. It is, apparently, evidence that people from practically anywhere can make long voyages of adventure, faith, and discovery, and not take any glory away from the people they meet.{dear folks, due to an error in identification of a picture I had to re-do the illustration. This led to a bit of a nightmare, resulting ultimately in the loss of being able to click on the picture of Robert Meyer and read his letter. So, instead of re-doing the entire post, I'll just quote the letter now: "Dear Sir, I am the professor of Celtic here ever since 1953. I was privileged to visit at the site of the newly deciphered Ogham inscriptions in the rock cave in Wyoming County, West Virginia on Friday April 8, 1983. There I met Mr. Pyle and Mrs. Gallagher, also the owner of the farm where one of the inscriptions is located. I should judge the language to be that of the 6th to the 8th century of our era. It is very archaic, and what is most important it gives us longer texts than we have had at our disposal....Sincerely yours, Robert T. Meyer".} -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, as Butch Cassidy and Sundance said: who ARE these guys? We have, completely amazingly to me, some outstanding candidates. The old folklore of the Church in Ireland had the popular legend of St Brendan's voyage to the west for centuries. As time has gone on, we have a hard time believing that Brendan said Mass on the back of Jaconis The Friendly Whale [a moment of vast cryptozoological importance] but the remainder of Brendan' voyages has a lot of detail which makes sense. The places as describe in the Brendan saga sound suspiciously like places such as Streymoy and Mykines in the Faeroes Islands as well as Iceland. A prominent great floating "crystal column" could well be an Arctic iceberg. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the 1970s some intrepid modern Brendans decided to construct a smallish but sturdy boat of the era, named a "curragh", made of wooden planks covered with leather [they used tarred canvas instead of leather] to try the trip to America across the northern seas in imitation of Brendan and his intrepid monks. The maps at left show their modern voyage and the fact that they made it to the American continent. Well, maybe so did Brendan, or any of the endless number of courageous and "insanely curious" men, who just have to see what's on the other side of the hill. I've known several such people in my life, probably you do too. Those guys who went to the Moon were surely fools if they were looking for a safely-led long life. I hope that establishment archaeology cracks its wall of forbidden ideas and impossibilities, because there seem to be many insights out there waiting for an open mind.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
...and an occasional itinerant Irishman is hardly going to demean the accomplishments of Native American cultures.

Ready or Not, Here We Come: off-course Irishmen in West Virginia? (part one).

There's an old legend that an Irish Monk named Brendan had the strange thought that he should sail West into the Atlantic to find "The Fortunate Isles" and bring the Gospel to whomever he encountered along the way. The idea has, of course, been regarded as nonsense for a very long period of time [and for some good reasons], but there are a few "anomalies" in West Virginia which make that old story seem a little less impossible. Since I travel right past one of them when I go back to the family center on vacations, it seemed like a worthwhile story to tell. So, here goes.
The first "item" in question is the Grave Creek Mound in the heart of Moundsville, West Virginia, about 20+ miles from my family home. There is only one mound structure larger in the USA [Kahokia, IL] and that one is a "stepped" object. The Moundsville mound is the largest conical mound in the country. It was therefore hard to miss, and we European guys "discovered" it as soon as we set foot in the Ohio River region. [An early drawing is at the left]. All the earliest explorers [Squier and Davis, Schoolcraft, et al] marveled at the thing and wondered who had built it and what it "meant". Such structures occurred all up and down the river and [thank GOD] were mapped rather well by these early archaeologists. Most are now destroyed. The Native Americans at the time couldn't help much with answers, as the mounds seemed just as big a mystery [or at least a lost story] to them. Thus began the mythology of an ancient "race" of Moundbuilders, who had a "high" society reminiscent of the great southern empires of the Aztec and Maya. From those early days, and even somewhat in the present, the archaeological community has struggled to explain the Mystery of the Mounds. Today, we know a great deal about this era, but certain things remain elusive.
Of course, back in the early 1800's anything could seem possible. The original "owner" of the Grave Creek property was Joseph Tomlinson. He refused to allow any desecration of the mound, which he regarded as having a culturally spiritual aspect about it. Joseph died in 1826 and his son, Jesse, felt the same way. By 1838, however, the social pressure to dig the great mound for its treasures was too much, and Jesse's nephew, Abelard, was permitted to open the structure. A report on this amateur excavation was published in 1839 by a Dr. Clemens, who, it appears got some details wrong, and in 1842 by Abelard Tomlinson. This interested the great early Native American student, Henry Schoolcraft, who visited the site and published a better [almost certainly more accurate] description of what went on and was found, in 1846. For those who would like to read Schoolcraft's very words, they are illustrated in two "pages" on the left. The mound turned out to be a double mound. one structure built on top another, and containing burials and objects such as shell beads and copper ringlets.
The objects found are of some consciousness-raising significance as they indicate that these people were engaging in a wide-ranging trade system, stretching from the ocean [perhaps even as far as Florida] and the upper Great Lakes' copper regions. In other words these were in no way "primitives". The skeletal structures of bodies found in such mounds seem "normal" as best as can be determined in their usually crumbly states. There is no indication, that I know, to point to them being from anything but what we would call "local" peoples. So where does the "anomaly" come in? The anomaly is the "Grave Creek Tablet". This is an oval piece of polished light-grey sandstone [1 1/2 x 2 inches] engraved with what seem, clearly, to be alphabetic characters. These characters were undecipherable, but their appearance suggested ancient European or Northern African languages. This, of course, set off a flurry of speculation and debunking of all manner of theories. (As an aside, Henry Schoolcraft was married to a half-Scotch-Irish, half Ojibwe lady named Jane Johnstone. She is recognized as the first Native American author, and one of her writings is said to have inspired Longfellow's work on Hiawatha. I've included her portrait and a book cover at the left as they may be of interest to some).
But, back to the Grave Creek Tablet: This object was found with the debris of the excavation despite debunkers trying to say that it was not. Reading of the early descriptions of the dig clearly identify the Tablet as being found in situ. The reason for an almost ferocious desire on the part of some archaeologists to debunk the Tablet is that in those days some people were trying to defame the Native Americans as being only the degenerate remains of a former higher civilization formed by early European or Middle Eastern immigrants. One of the most inflammatory of these theories involved the Mormon claim that all this was the result of the work of the Lost Tribes of Israel. When one studies the various areas of academic research, one finds that every area has in-built prejudices against certain categories of ideas, and these, often unspoken, dogmas are taught into the minds of all their upcoming students until one has a full tribe of truth protectors of things that they don't even understand, nor want to consider. In this, the Tablet is a "victim" of the same sociological phenomenon that causes us troubles in UFOlogy, Parapsychology, Cryptozoology, and the rest of the things we find interesting. The Tablet was sent to the Smithsonian where copies were constructed, which, apparently still exist. Somewhere between Moundsville, the Smithsonian, and West Virginia University however, the original was "misplaced". [I suspect that it sits in the same warehouse as the Ark of the Covenant...just joking...don't want to start another internet conspiracy].
As time has passed and as we have slowly grown more "fluent" in ancient alphabets, the translation of the symbols on the Tablet have been attempted over again. Early "translations" have ranged from the preposterous to the meaningless---VERY unconvincing. But other tablets have been claimed and new understandings of old languages seem relevant. The most intriguing to me is the opinion of the Danish scholar, Rafn, who recognizes the alphabet as that of pre-Roman Phoenician [Punic] used in the Iberian peninsula in the near B.C. period. Does that even match the building of Grave Creek? Well, it might. Dating the Adena and Hopewell mound-building culture[s] of the Ohio valley still is mired in some controversies, but the papers indicate a range from the early BC to perhaps ~600AD. "Travelers" with such "100BC" alphabets could well fit. If so [what-the-heck, lets see where this idea might lead] what might the symbols say? Rafn's translation reads: "The mound raised-on-high for Tasach...This tile...his queen caused to be made". Well, maybe...it at least makes a kind of sense. The objections are the following: understanding of the alleged language isn't very settled yet. And there is no good evidence, in terms of other artifacts that an Iberian wayfarer passed that way. But there MAY be some good evidence that another group of wanderers blundered into West Virginia at a somewhat later date [early AD], and I'll tell that story in part two.
There are many aspects to this sort of story. It shows not only the possibility of difficult-to-prove [but "wonderful"] mysteries scattered about, but also the nearly impossible problem of getting established academic tribal elders to even consider them. Once again academia "voluntarily" places itself in a box and outside of The Big Study of all that there IS to potentially study. That is of course the biggest story here. Whether people from across the Atlantic "came occasionally by" Moundsville is fascinating but hardly diminishing of Native American culture. All of archaeology shows those cultures to range far and wide and evolve together from the empires of the South. By being willing to think and study the unthinkable, one may discover even more wonderful things. The map on the left is one amateur's attempt to see whether those old mound-makers may have been involved in astronomy and calendar-making. He feels that he has found a Summer Solstice sighting line. This is the same sort of thing that the early Europeans were doing at Stonehenge, Newgrange, and Castlerigg. As I look at the map, I see a very suspicious four-structure straight sighting line [marked in blue]---what was IT for? Maybe one of YOU radicals will make the discovery. But WATCH IT--you won't be popular at your local college. Tomorrow I'll try to "finish" this tale with the saga of the Wyoming County Ogham.

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