Friday, January 22, 2010

Q & A

{these remarks will refer to two comments from readers; one from the black dogs article and one from the Colorado article}. In my judgement neither of these comments needs to be responded to in a minimalist way. So, even though they are not on the same topic [unless, I guess, you're the ghost of John Keel], I'm going to place my answers to them here side-by-side. One is on the topic of Black Dogs and one on the Colorado Project. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To TS [about black dogs]: the first thing that I'd feel useful to say is that we should separate "dark figures" from both "black dogs" and "MIBs" at least to begin with. Dark figures of the folkloric kind seem to have almost no "behavioral" characteristics in common with "men-in-black" cases. As a UFO historian, I have had reason to look into several of the Men-in-Black claims, including rather deeply into the original one with Albert Bender, which catalyzed the concept. Almost with certainty the Bender case was a visit from government agents doing their job of investigating a potential security problem. Even Bender's own description [initially] of what went on paints them as polite and hardly sinister. The exact nature of the security concern is not known, but we do know that the Robertson Panel concerns heightened intelligence community concerns about people who were getting a popular following [Bender was, even internationally] and, on top of this, Bender's organization had received a metal fragment from something that had blasted through a sign [metal one] and could have been caused by some runaway ordnance from the Navy. The fact that Bender freaked out seems attributable to his nervous personality not the MIBs. I am not sure that I have any MIB case in my files which I view credibly as being both real and not having to do with expected intelligence community function. "Dark Figures" are another matter. These entities seem to have nothing to do with UFOs nor do they even communicate with the witnesses [merely standing or lurking about, and, yes, seeming quite sinister.] One rarely sees a clear face of the dark figure [which is often robed and hooded] at least in the most credible [to me] versions, which are out-of-doors. Whereas MIBs come to ones home in suits and ties and ask about UFOs, dark figures stand about outside along the waysides being uncommunicative and scary [whether they intend to be or not.] Pookas are much more like dark figures than MIBs. Pookas almost never are claimed to communicate anything, except in the speculation of what it might mean by the witness. They are almost always outdoors. Both Pookas and olde-world dark figures are commonly felt to be frequenters of certain particular locations, though, of course, not always present. MIBs are never thought of like this. I view MIBs as mere humans and hardly at all mysterious, and Pookas and dark figures [olde-style] as members of the Middle Kingdom, as does Diarmuid MacManus. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Concerning Vallee's idea about a "physical" anchor, who can say? These things are a bit like poltergeists, which seem to be anchored at least temporarily, but there is much more "range" with them. If poltergeists are the spirits [or something] of the unquiet dead, then they are, in theory anchored to some significant environment of their life. If pookas et al are, instead, a member of the Middle Kingdom, one would rather guess that it's their choice which sort of "entry point" they choose to use and more freedom of range occurs. Obviously, we can't know that sort of thing. What we do seem to know is that Pookas et al then to have their general "places" where they typically manifest, whether that is by choice or by some forced limitation. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Concerning quartz [and even granite, which is composed in large part of quartz] , I do not believe that it is at all "proved" that quartz induces any sort of altered state of consciousness. Michael Persinger has pushed a speculation for years now that tectonic stresses in the Earth will "squeeze" quartz crystals producing an electric field phenomenon by what is known as the piezoelectric effect. Persinger has used this speculation to claim that Earthquakes produce areas of field strength at the surface which alter and discombobulate the brain so that it begins to hallucinate--and goes on to explain all UFOlogical close encounters as merely us temporarily losing our minds and talking about it later. The piezoelectric effect is real. After that Persinger's theory is entirely speculative. In order to try to ground it better in facts, he has subjected volunteers to large field strengths [using electrode caps through which large magnetic field strengths can be bussed at their brains] and claims that he can cause them to hallucinate. Any "proof" of quartz causing altered states is probably a mangle of this "work". ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Regarding "hard evidence" that pookas inhabit certain specific locales, we're not talking hard evidence here on any of these things that we discuss or we wouldn't be debating their reality in the larger consensus anymore. There are stronger or weaker indications of the realities of these things--UFO reality, very strong--but even there no craft or body at the national academy of science nor no representative at the UN. There's plenty of encounter evidence that Pookas inhabit certain places. MacManus names each of his pookas by the place they appear in.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------=================================================To "Willy' on Colorado et al: Concerning Colorado and the Pentagon. The Air Force was in trouble in Congress over the "swamp gas" hullaballusion and had to tread very carefully to not make another gaff. They, rather brilliantly, saw a way to turn a minus into a plus, if they could just pull it off without a scandal reflecting directly back on them. Their priorities were simple. Get the congress and the public off their backs, and get the public project ended so this would not happen again. There is no evidence anywhere that concern over whether the UFO phenomenon was real or not played any role in this strategy at all. One thing that UFOlogists tend to forget: the military is not interested in science unless it plays directly into their national security responsibilities. There is every reason to believe, [reading all the documents] , that the Air Force had decided that UFOs, whatever they were , were nothing to do with national security and should be severely downgraded in all ways except where they over-excited the public. AND, they had decided this way back in 1952--even earlier for most officers. Hippler, therefore did not give a d___ about whether any UFOs were real or not. He had a simple task:use Colorado to get all this unhelpful flack out of the AF's hair. In that he was completely successful--and the AF was the only player which got what it wanted from the fiasco. The only reason that Hippler cared how "positive" the report might be was that a more positive report made it more difficult to rationalize dumping Blue Book [Condon realized this, too]. If, however, someone like NASA could be stuck with the pariah, then that would be OK. Because of this Robert Low, an unfairly maligned figure in this story, went forward with his administrative work in hopes of a positive conclusion with a NASA takeover. He even spelled out N-A-S-A with a wink at a speech he gave [totally upbeat towards UFOs] at the JPL at Cal Tech in late 1967. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Now, as to vibrating road signs: there is only one really primary case of such an effect in the literature that is considered well supported and which impressed Allen Hynek so that he gave it over to Spielberg for inclusion in CE3. Vins-sur-Caramy, France, April 14, 1957. (the investigation of this case was done by the famous early French researcher, Jimmy Guieu.) Two women were walking along the road when a weirdly shaped "flying machine" landed about 100 meters ahead. The thing was like a top with its point down, and of a dull metal color. [it was in planform like a narrow cone a meter and a half high]. Sticking out all over the "cone" were what appeared to be metallic "stems" [or spikes or whiskers] pointing horizontally away from the body of the thing. These stems were agitating mightily. There was also a deafening rattle heard. This noise turned out to be a nearby road sign which was vibrating wildly. The women gasped and cried out. This alerted a nearby bee-keeper who ran to the spot. He saw the thing, too, and watched it "jump" off the road, make a turn, and fly shortly only to land again two hundred meters away. There it made a second road sign vibrate madly and produced its own noise which seemed to harmonize strangely with the sign. Finally the thing took off, pitching wildly from side to side but now quite quietly flying away. One of the ladies husbands was a policeman, and he and others inspected the site. Dirt and even earth near the landing areas had been swept aside as if by a violent wind. French authorities tried to hush this case up. [claiming to Guieu that it was a military craft]. Guieu and his associates however persisted and went to the site where they found that there had been no magnetic effect exactly where the craft had landed but a quite substantial effect at the road sign. At the second landing site the result was the same. Further on a sluice gate over which the craft passed also showed a magnetic effect. Finally they tracked down the primary witnesses and got their first hand accounts. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To the general reader, as you can see, I felt that these questions needed more time. I could NOT do this, though, if a lot of folks think that answering just one person's questions is too much of a waste of everyone else's time. Yes, it IS my blog and I have to make the decisions, but, at least with "Willy" I can ask him to read the files for himself when he comes over. :-)


  1. Since your in a question answering mood Professor I hope you don't mind. It's something that's bothered me for a while and maybe you could give us your thoughts. In the NSA document "UFO Hypothesis and Survial Questions" written in 1968 and released through FOIA, a comment is made that I find intriguing. Mentioned in section #2 it states as a rebuttal to the section heading, "All UFO's Are Hallucinations" that "sometimes a person and gun camera confirm each others testimony". I'm curious as to your thoughts on this, if any "Gun Camera" footage is mentioned in the study or report and if not, why not (that's most likely rhetorical). Since the document was NSA and, if Blum is correct, written by one Lambros Callimahos (who would know) I'm curious as to your thoughts on this discrepency (if there is one).

    As always, your thoughts are appreciated.

  2. Well, take this for what it's worth. i have a very good friend who was in NSA when the document that you cite was written. It was not a formal NSA document. During those years there were several NSA employees who were interested privately in UFOs and who used to go to lunch together and hash the subject over. One of those guys wrote the document in question. NSA did not mind personnel doing such things as long as they did their jobs and did not violate anything of importance to NSA business. There was one peculiarity in this affair. An employee could write up a personal review of a subject of interest and pass it around the "shop"--no problem. Such productions were included in peoples' files and, here is the odd thing to me, required to be marked with a classification, even though they were a "personal" interest topic. Even the drafts were required to be marked, in this case, "secret". I do not believe that the person that you name is the one who wrote the document in question, but I haven't been nosy enough to ask my buddy exactly who did, since it does not seem overly relevant. If you're reading the document now, you will notice that none of the references are "inside" government documents, even the Grudge commentary comes from NICAP. This is the production of a smart guy who likes UFOs and has gotten his info from pop sources. The thing was in line for a FOIA release due to it being in files and marked with a classification--a situation that was ripe for misinterpretation and hysteria. Who knows if the guy chuckled about the mess he made. Now, about gun camera footage: you don't need secret NSA information to know that such footage existed and in at least one case smudgy clips of a case appear in the Blue Book microfilm. Ruppelt would mention such things as would Keyhoe. So that's real, and has nothing to do with NSA. The question that you then ask is why didn't Colorado look into this? At least I think that's what you're asking. Colorado [due to Condon and to direct comments by Hippler,] fought like h___ to not include "old" cases. Still, the photo analysis demanded it. But the gun camera footage that I've seen contains little or no information to analyze. [too distant; too blurry]. This doesn't mean that it's not important--it confirms the pilot's story. But it does mean that Colorado needn't have bothered--so I have no gripe with them on that one. Blue Book was extremely disorganized about losing film in the early days and probably had very few of the specimens anyway. If Colorado had REALLY been a scientific project they would have asked Art Lundahl to loan them all his files and THAT would have been interesting.

  3. A methodological addendum to all that: I hope that answers like these last ones indicate to everybody what a disgusting mishmash of non-truths, misunderstandings, leaps-of-unlabeled speculations simply inundate the field of UFOlogy and allow almost no one even a solid base on which to stand. The ONLY protection against all this crap is History. Go to the documents. Build an understanding on things that actually happened. Try to see what the AF was doing from their side--they screwed up but rarely in the way that conspiracy theorists like to play it and almost never for the reasons that the pop knee-jerkers say they did. MANY of the famous names in UFOlogy are just , well, full-of-shit, and maybe they don't even know it, but they're happily feeding it to you and getting on TV. There's PLENTY of real things about the UFO mystery without some of these fog-and-freak masters having to "create" sensationalism. UFOs are so much more solid and strange and magnificent than these characters portray anyway, that I wish they'd just go away and let us build without their noise. The non-historical and shallow-documented pap that these people clutter our minds with serves only to destroy the field that they claim to defend. Sorry about the rant, but it p_____ me off, and sometimes primal scream therapy is the only way.

  4. I knew I was asking the right person...thanks so much Professor. Question answered. I still find that essay very enlightening, especially it's conclusion.

    Another question if I may. Since we're on the subject of Condon/Colorado, I would appreciate your thoughts on the Newhouse/Tremonton footage that was included in the study. I find it curious that the behavior of the objects in the Newhouse film seems so similar to the footage that comes mainly from Mexico these days and which many, including myself, chalk up to birds, balloons or some other natural explanation. Is this a mistake?

    The footage has been posted to youtube, taken from the 1956 film, "Unidentified Flying Objects" and can be found easily w/Google. The testinony of Newhouse is powerful here. Again, your thoughts Professor?

    BTW -your awesomeness is surpassed only by your patience. Your addendum is well taken..but watch the BP, OK?

  5. Thanks Professor. I hope my questions might have helped others, too. It helps me refine my sense of Condon and the unfolding of this history. We can step back with our historical 20/20 and see the evolution of Hyenk's thought, Blue Book's continued unwillingness and inability to deal with reports, and Condon as sort of a beefed up Robertson panel redux. Looking over the Blue Book Files on-line I've started to see that many of the 1966 cases that Blue Book dealt with were pretty weak, and Blue Book did little to follow them up, if anything at all.
    But even more, thanks for your methodological addendum - it says it beautifully, such as the AF "screwed up but rarely in the way that conspiracy theorists like to play it and almost never for the reasons that the pop knee-jerkers say they did." And to dig into the true history of a phenomena - how the phenomena showed up, and how various bodies, government and otherwise responded and dealt with it. It makes me grateful that whatever my guiding spirit or muse has been, it took me towards the history that one has to dig for a little more, towards primary sources, newsclippings, documents, and such. Your addendum reminds me of something I notice - all the great UFO books are out of print, while a flourishing trade in barely-researched sensationalist conspiracy-laden stuff thrives. But above all, as you said, the true history is more intriguing, beautiful, magnificent, and gorgeously mysterious than any of those goofballs could make up.
    Sometimes the majesty and mystery is there when I remind myself that for 60+ years now, people have been encountering the strangest things while driving on country roads at night. It's the darndest thing!! Beautiful and baffling. Why so often in cars, I muse? Is it because, at least in this country, most people are usually out and about more in their car than in any other way. I also playfully entertain the idea that as old Kenneth Arnold himself hypothesized in the '60s, the UFOs are living things themselves - and they mistake a 1975 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron for a distant relative! Or, if an insect were the size of an automobile, would it possibly appear more as a machine than a biological organism?
    I apologize for the tangent - the morning coffee is kicking in and a UFO wave as an interstellar locust invasion is too fun to resist pondering.
    Thanks for continuing to share the excellent info and historical perspectives.

  6. Dear Professor,

    Agreed. The field is currently filled with what can most politely be called 'bunkum' which, thanks to the Internet, can now be spread more efficiently, quickly and widely than ever. That's why there's such disdain toward studying UFOs, but on the bright side there's a contingent of amateur enthusiasts who take the subject more seriously than most; I guess you could call us 'The Invisible Undergraduates'.

    Willy: Classic UFO books tend to show up at a lot of used book stores, yard sales and library book sales. I've been scouring these sources for years attempting to assemble a collection of these books before they rot away in an attic or get tossed out.

  7. To Jonah; regarding Newhouse/Tremonton. Newhouse's film, to begin with, is one of the few pieces of film evidence that no one has any doubts about either the character or skill of the witness. That's not a bad way to begin a case analysis. Almost anyone upon seeing the film from our "distance" [and lack of being able to do anything but gut-respond to it] thinks "birds soaring on thermals" immediately. The Robertson Panel scientists did. I did. The Robertson Panel scientists did not care what the film really showed, they were there to do a national security service for the CIA, and the panel was a waste of their professional time. So, they, and most were thoroughly biased against UFOs anyway, went with their guts and were happy to stop thinking about it. I didn't do that, despite some of my UFO friends acting just like Robertson would. Probably it's because I too am biased but in the opposite direction about UFOs [seeing one yourself will do that to you] but I honestly believe that it was mostly because I was trained as a scientist and a science historian and the first rule is not to react too fast. What I did instead was to ask a few questions: why were Dewey Fournet and the photo analysts from NPIC bringing something to the Panel, if all it was, obviously was birds? Embarrass yourselves in front of some of the most prestigious scientists in the country? That made no sense at all. The NPIC analysis work was said to have taken many hours, and involved plotting each light source throughout its flight path and graphing them relative to one another. The analysts said that the sources did not move as birds in a {somewhat] random flight pattern but rather in groups which circled about each other within the general movement of the larger assembly. Some guesswork on the amount of reflective light one could expect off birds was made [and they felt that you couldn't get enough to show that brightly on the film---to your eyes yes, but not the film ], and Newhouse himself felt that the objects were not at all like birds to his eyes. On top of that, super-analyst Art Lundahl, who, although he himself did not do the analysis, was aware of it and viewed the original film at the time, and thought that the objects were light sources and not birds, probably disks. Well, now I'm sitting here 50 years later and asking myself: should I take the word of a bunch of intelligent but totally ignorant scientists who didn't analyze the film ? ; or should I take the word of some intelligent and knowledgeable scientists who did? Just because I have a gut reaction to a "distant" seeing of this evidence [and a basic scientific bent towards skepticism about poorly supported claims] do I put any stock in my own ignorant guts, or do I trust expert testimony. It's a leap, yes. But it's the same leap we take when any scientist tells us anything that we have not personally tested ourselves--which is almost everything. Because this regards UFOs people are looking for any excuse to put the film in the trash can. So, weighing the "history" [that thing again], I say that the Tremonton film is probably one of the best pieces of photographic evidence that we've had. Modern evaluations of it have been nothing more than arm's-length B.S. when you actually see their non-involvement with anything like what NPIC did.

  8. Due to character limitations by the site, here's the rest of this: Regarding Mexican footage, I have no evidentiary reason to say anything about that at all--I do not want to classed with Robertson, Goudsmit, Alvarez et al. I will say this: I will not place any trust in any sort of evidence until I see a good line of field investigation, by field workers that I have some confidence in [for whatever reason] and with some reasonable amount of time to consider others' commentary, the thing shows signs of being pretty solid. Almost nothing that has come out of Mexican UFO research has met those qualities for me so far [esp. as regards films]. I haven't discarded these things; I haven't embraced any of them either. We're perfectly OK without them, so I feel no force pushing me to leap to judgement. This is a very big field.------------------------------------------------------------------And to "Willy": May the BUGS be with you. :-)



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