Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Better (?) Snake picture maybe.

Folks, for those of you who have interest: this is a scan of what seems to be a pretty good blow-up of the small original Congo "giant snake" photo. It gives a better "cut" of the terrain, and maybe you can see what Ivan, Hapgood, and others were wondering vis-a-vis whether the vegetation in the upper right is trees. FWIW as the young computer wizards say.


  1. Thanks Prof, that's a much better image. Now it's clear that the snake is possibly basking in an area of sandy scrub. The pilot was quoted on Clarke's 'Mysterious World' describing it as '50 feet.' This would still make the snake a spectacular freak of nature, but more conceivable.

    The episode is 'Mysterious World - Ep. 11 - Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes 1 of 3' and the pilot is interviewed directly at 7:50. He's not wishy-washy about the '50 feet' length so perhaps a mistake was made in the letter?

    Coincidentally, I'd forgotten about Clarke's TV show and can now recognise it as an early incubator of my interest in the obscure and unusual. A heck of a guy, but his 'UFO logic' was rather arbitrary...perhaps mysterious.

  2. Arthur C. Clarke was one of those constricted-by-sociology but otherwise adventurous intellects. In this he was very similar to Carl Sagan. Both of these guys were by nature persons who wanted to probe into the strange and mysterious frontiers wherever they found them, but both were fenced in by two things: a). they were scared to death of appearing to be the fool [their self images were colossally huge], and b). they REALLY wanted to be able to move "with honor" in the scientific tribe.

    I had experience with both men. Clarke, early in the UFO business, would occasionally risk positive or at least mildly sympathetic leanings toward the mystery. Then depending upon the social circumstance, would rip away at the field as if it were dirt beneath his intellect. At a AAAS convention panel [at which he was NOT a scheduled participant], he suddenly burst through curtains offstage to stun everyone, including his main ego-centric rival Isaac Asimov who WAS a participant and who had just finished talking. Deliberately up-staging Asimov, Clarke took the microphone and said: "I used to think that UFOs should be treated with benign neglect. Now I believe that they should be treated with MALIGN neglect!!" The scientific tribe, with the exceptions of Asimov and Allen Hynek [also on stage], roared laughter.

    At bottom, I view Clarke and Sagan mainly as cowards, and Asses who were willing to use these subjects for their own agendas, regardless of whom they hurt while doing so [ex. imaging Allen's feelings when Clarke unloaded there]. His series of programs was a well-done piece of television, and worth watching. Not all the commentary was "honest".

  3. "Not all the commentary was "honest"."

    I certainly agree with that. If you remember his appearance (as skeptic) on a 50s John Nebel show, he managed to get away with intellectual dishonesty.

    He blithely dismissed all contemporary UFO sighting reports as misidentifications. He reinforced his case by detailing the standard argument of distances in space and how ridiculous a notion that ET would be visiting Earth.

    Fair enough?

    It would be if he didn't then state that ET had visited Earth many times before...but thousands of years ago and not since.

    From where did his certainty of these two points arise? What evidence? What logic? Both are arbitrary distinctions with no more provenance than his own imagination.

    We can read several dozen papers about what type of personality is predisposed to see and report UFOs. Witnesses are scored according to prior studies on schizotypal traits and similar spectra of abnormal psychology.

    Where then, are the studies about people occupying Clarke's position? Certainty without evidence? Inference without causality? It seems like an unexploited banquet of psychological study.

  4. Professor,
    calling the sainted Sagan a coward is probably going to generate a lot of opposition. I wish you well.

    Some years ago I got very interested in Velikovsky´s ideas on the solar system. He had radical ideas but he always argued his corner well. Saint Sagan made his bones by demolishing Velikovsky at a rigged meeting of the american science academy.

    Was he a coward? I don´t know.

    Was he a careerist? My opinion, beyond doubt.

    Did he defame Velikovsky for personal gain? Clearly.

    Have Sagan´s conjectures proven more accurate than Velikovsky´s?
    emphatically no.



  5. I'll not discuss the value of Velikovsky's speculations. Not my cup of tea.

    But yes, Sagan, Clarke, Asimov, Gould, and countless "sainted" and aspiring academic tribal members are all cowards when they refuse to make a real and intellectually-honest deep study of things before pronouncing authoritatively on their foolishness. These guys are afraid of losing something: position, respect from the tribe, or deeper yet, their compact vision of the totality of reality. I have been around the "greats" and the pittling brick-makers of the "hallowed" halls all my life. They're scared of these topics. These topics threaten basic ontology [if the guy's at all deep] or self-image and aspirations [if the guy's shallow]. They're scared. A colleague of mine would turn radically beet-red when standing in the corridors and someone would ask me about UFOs. He was scared to death of losing face. Don't anyone tell me these guys aren't each one frightened as sheep about something --- and it OFTEN has to do with something coming into their tent which is non-materially-reducible.

  6. Hello, Prof.

    These comments are at least as interesting as the snake photo. My opinions are in-line with Derek and Kandinsky. When you wrote, 'non-materially reducible', were you referring to spirit ? Or the UFO 'reality' as it manifests itself. Perhaps both. ?



  7. I group "spiritual", "psychic", "paranormal", "little people/folkloric entities", "poltergeists", et al together as a suite of manifestations which do not obey the laws of the physics textbooks --- i.e., they are not materially reducible. As is probably utterly obvious, I am not a materialist-reductionist and maintain "things" like soul, will, psychic powers, at-a-distance actions including healings, and many other things of such nature within my Ontological Realm.

    UFOs however, I see as one of the "little mysteries" which though fascinating are in the end quite textbook reducible [in someone's physics text, anyway]. The trick in the fields of these anomalies is to distinguish between a little mystery [like most UFOs or perhaps a truly Giant Squid] and a great mystery [like a paranormal lake entity or a 'miracle healing']. Things seem constantly to vie for some middle ground of confusion ["Is there a physical Yeti or not?? What causes what seems to be a space or time slippage??"] Some UFOs seem imitators from the Realm of Great Mysteries rather than the ET realm of lesser ones. We keep the mind open and flexible, and go on the path as we may.

  8. ''Scientific tribe'' is a great label. I find this too on the Skeptic list where the academics and intellectuals continually throw 'poo' at religion and the fringe areas of science. Sagan is a prime example of probing thought re UFOs/ET early in his career. He later recanted all his prior interest and became at best a benign skeptic.

  9. The witness' story can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX9KSmxCrmI . He appears to have lived a very adventurous and meritorious life, and would not need to invent a cock and bull story to gain his 15 minutes of fame. He claims to have made several low passes over the snake to get a better look - close enough for the serpent to rear up at the helicopter. It would appear, therefore, that he was in a good position to estimate its size.