Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where's My Space Ark?

To my great surprise and delight, I've been reading things over the past few days that signal an end to the tired "Disclosure" meme. First came news of a new Facebook UFO group called "U-Foreclosure" that bravely declares on its homepage that "UFO Disclosure is bankrupt and in default. Time to take things back and put them into the hands of investigators and researchers. U-Foreclosure Now!"
Then there was this courageous blog post at Silver Screen Saucers entitled "Disclosure Movement RIP."

This whole death of Disclosure thing could be true or it could be some massive psyops mindfuck to get us to let down our guard, but at this point I don't really care. Disclosure has long since passed its freshness date, and it's time to move on.

But if Disclosure is off, that means we won't be facing a total, catastrophic breakdown of civilization. And if we're not facing a total, catastrophic breakdown of civilization, what will become of the Space Ark? I don't know what your family talks about at dinner, but when the subject of surviving a total, catastrophic breakdown of civilization comes up in my household, as it often does, my wife Mxxxxx always brings up a very good point: she is convinced that someone, somewhere is building a Space Ark...

It could happen the day after tomorrow... or even tomorrow!
Perhaps they already have it completed and ready to go, my wife suggests. Perhaps there's a whole fleet! Perhaps.... they've already decided who will get to board. I have to admit, she makes a strong case for the Ark.

So, now that we don't need it, what's going to happen to it? Will it be scrapped? Or will they keep it idling, just in case... Just in case some other unforeseeable catastrophe befalls us -- a stray planetoid on a collision course with earth, perhaps (see illustration)?

If I had a suspicious mind, I might think that these folks who are suddenly and inexplicably declaring the end of Disclosure all sound so reassuring because they don't want the rest of us discovering the Space Ark... because they know Disclosure is closer than we think, and they already have their seats reserved. Greer, Bassett, Bigelow, the Atacama Humanoid... you can bet they all have first-class tickets.

If my deepest fears are true, there's only one thing we can do. Find the Space Ark! Storm the launchpad! Steal a seat! 

My wife and I are on this.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UFO Science vs Anti-science

What has science ever told us about UFOs?

Not much, when you get right down to it. After over 60 years, science can't even tell us whether UFOs represent something physically real. As the late, great scientist Dr. J. Allen Hynek used to point out, all that we know for certain is that UFO reports exist.

So, considering how bad a job science has done to make sense of the UFO phenomenon, why not turn to the furthest thing from science that we can imagine -- anti-science, if you will -- to see if we can get better results. And by anti-science, I mean, of course, poetry.

You may scoff, but last night I was witness to a fascinating experiment in which one of the best-documented UFO cases of all time was picked apart by the anti-scientific method of poetry, and the results were pretty surprising...

A long while back I blogged about my new friend Txxx, the writer who was writing some poetry about the famous Barney and Betty Hill UFO abduction case of 1961. Well, last night Txxx gave a reading of four of the poems he has written thus far, and I, who know next to nothing about poetry, loved it. It occurred to me as I listened to Txxx's poems that he has really hit upon a powerful new way to consider the UFO phenomenon.

This sketch depicts what Barney saw when the UFO descended.
Think about it: The logic of science hasn't gotten us anywhere, but maybe the illogic of poetry is perfectly suited to unravel the mystery of UFOs. Maybe it's what we've needed all along. I certainly suspected it last night. Txxx read four poems about the Hill case; each of them dealt with a singular aspect of the case, and each broke that aspect down into certain incomplete fragments of time, sensation and emotion that were, in their fragmentary nature, more powerful than some of the more complete, factually- and chronologically-correct accounts of the events. I don't know how that works, but it does! Seriously, I felt as though I was inside Betty's and Barney's heads on that lonely stretch of Route 3 in 1961 in a way I've never experienced before. Whatever a poet gets paid, it's not nearly enough.

The four pieces concerned these four aspects of the Hill case:
  • Betty's recollection of the close encounter and its aftermath
  • Barney's reaction to hearing the recording of his account, made under hypnosis, of the medical exam aboard the spaceship
  • Barney describing the creatures to a sketch artist
  • Betty's encounter journal that she kept for years after the initial event
I can't say which I liked best, because each has its own unique impact, but one quote from the second poem, in which Barney keeps referring to his voice in the audio recording as someone impersonating him, really gave me a chill... Barney, who could not yet remember the abduction in conscious memory, said "It's better to wonder than to remember."

Last night, I believed him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Paranoiapalooza

Well, it happened again. No sooner had I posted here about being shanghaied by the Bigfoot Contact Movement and then subjected to some very disturbing and NSFW erotic alien art as a result of belonging to the wrong Facebook group at the wrong time, than I get another notice from another Facebook UFO group telling me that I've just missed the "2014 Secret Space Program and Breakaway Civilization Conference"...

Let me repeat that so it has a chance to sink in: 2014... SECRET... SPACE... PROGRAM... AND... BREAKAWAY... CIVILIZATION... CONFERENCE...

Now, that's a title that makes me sit up and pay attention. It's diabolically engineered to appeal to the most paranoid reaches of my lizard brain... Secret Space Program? I knew it! Breakaway Civilization? I knew it! Conference? I knew it!

Once I followed the link to the very slick SSPABCC website I knew this was something extraordinary. It's got deep, deep questions. It's got a beautiful starry background. It's got a Swedish host. He's a guy, though, but still. More than that, it's got absolutely no trace of who built it, who is running it, or why... which is either very fitting or very ironic for such an elaborate and well-crafted monument to paranoia.

All you can do is follow the clues and hope they lead you to some level of understanding... I decided to start with those deep, deep questions on the "Intro" page:
  • Is there a secret space program?
  • Where did the money go?
  • Is the UFO the hidden factor in modern history?
  • Breakaway consciousness (that's not a question! how did it get here? - Ed.)
  • What is really going on out there?
Here are my answers:
  • Yes, and I'm running it!
  • Not to me! Otherwise I'd have my first rocket in space by now!
  • Yes, only the UFO can help us make sense of modern history; it completely explains last week, for instance!
  • That's not a question!
  • Are you kidding? I can't even figure out what's really going on in here, much less out there!
As you can plainly see, this leaves me no better off than when I started. Which, I have concluded, is exactly the point! The SSPABCC is all about deep and profound confusion... The more you think you understand, the less you actually do understand -- black is white, up is down, Coke is Pepsi! -- which makes me extremely grateful that I didn't attend; imagine my confusion if I had been there in person.
This woman got to be a presenter. Why not me?

Here, for example, is the opening paragraph from that same "Intro" page I cited earlier:
Join us as we present a carefully selected group of speakers gathered to ask some serious questions about the “deep state” and what is really happening in the world and beyond. We expose the most powerful invisible mechanisms behind global geopolitical and financial trends.
Did that make one iota of sense to you? And where are the UFOs?

In an effort to get to the bottom of this, I located the "Comments" section of the SSPABCC website and sent the mysterious organizers an email. In it, I said that I would like to be a speaker at next year's conference, because I know a thing or two about secret space programs and breakaway civilizations. I'll report back as soon as I hear from "them."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

UFO Erotica

Facebook... You can't live with it, you can't kill it.

So, what do you do? I just got a very weird email today telling me that someone had added me to his new Facebook group, and I was taken aback by this. I was taken aback because no one asked me if I wanted to join the group, and because the group in question is called... get this:

"Bigfoot Contact Movement"

The group is described thusly:  
"Do we really have to kill a Bigfoot for proof of life? This group will be dedicated to stop the savage ways of thought when dealing with these beings and trying to establish contact in a non-threatening manner. Everybody is welcome to share there Opinions and Research and spread the message and contribute."
Okay, I'll admit that despite my taken-abackness, I think this is great. Really. It's time to stop the violence and bloodshed where Bigfoot hunting is concerned, and get back to a more humane, non-threatening approach of making contact with this hairy biped creature.
Does this creature look violent? Why take chances? I say kill it now.

Now, having said that, before I can really commit I need to know where Bigfoot stands on this. Is the 'Squatch willing to make peaceful contact as well? Is he willing to sign his 'X' to a formal non-aggression pact? Frankly, I think he's a bigger threat to us than we are to him.

I also need to know what's behind this "movement," if a Facebook group with 38 members, at least one of whom is not exactly willing, can be called a "movement." Has there been a history of "savage ways of thought" when dealing with Bigfoot? Are there Bigfoot hunters out there who are really trying to kill the big guy? I haven't been aware of anything. I know the Hendersons were always pretty decent to Harry, even when his hijinx turned their household on its head; that's really all I have to go by...

Anyway, now I'm faced with a interesting decision: do I remain a member of a very silly group that has forcibly shanghaied me as a member? Staying in the group promises all kinds of cheap entertainment, and it's not like I care what people think about my Facebook profile, littered as it's been these past three years with endless, untold UFO geekery. But it's also a matter of principle. I don't like that someone made me join his group without asking me, and furthermore, I don't like anyone thinking that just because I'm in all sorts of weird UFO groups that means I want to be in every weird group Facebook has to offer. I mean, just because someone in one of my UFO Facebook groups posted an article today entitled "The Erotic Art of a Painter Who Claims an Alien Took His Virginity" that doesn't mean I'm ok with people associating me with Bigfoot. I do have my standards.

On the other hand, if I leave the group and someone kills Bigfoot tomorrow, will it be my fault?

Who could live with that on their conscience?




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Arthritic Neanderthal! Part II

I have now written a few posts about "Archeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication," the free NASA eBook about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), and I am pleased to say that I have finally read the "epilogue," and it was worth the wait...

"Mirrors of Our Assumptions -- Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal" is a fitting wrap-up to this book, as it illustrates how badly the most well-meaning, scientifically-sound attempt to interpret and understand incomplete information from outside our frame of reference can go. Here's how author Douglas A. Vakoch sets up the problem:

"By the nature of the instrumentation we use to process signals during SETI, we may well be able to detect distinctly artificial signals without being able to extract any information-rich messages within those signals. We could know that extraterrestrials are out there but have no direct way of knowing much about them.

"In a sense, we are faced with challenges akin to those of anthropologists who reconstruct extinct species from fragmentary evidence."

Here's where our arthritic caveman friend enters the story (and as Arthritic Neanderthal is actually reading and commenting on this blog, I hope he'll chime in with his or her thoughts on Vakoch's comments...).
What science gets wrong, Hollywood gets right...

When the remains of Homo neanderthalensis were first discovered in Germany in 1856, the immediate conclusion of the anthropology community was that the hunched-over creature was "uncouth and repellant," "peculiarly ungraceful," and "a thoroughly unattractive fellow." Soon our old friend Neanderthal Man was being portrayed in illustrations in both scientific journals and the popular press as a brutish, stooped, knuckle-dragger, and that pretty much cemented his place in human history: an evolutionary mistake that conveniently died out and made way for our own majestically upright and relatively clean-shaven species.

One problem: the skeleton that was used to create the popular image of Neanderthal Man was from an individual, Vakoch writes, "who just happened to suffer from arthritis." This mistake was actually discovered in 1957 and yet, over 50 years later, most of us have never gotten the memo... The authors who uncovered the lapse went on to state that "...if (Neanderthal man) could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway -- provided that he were bathed, shaved, and dressed in modern clothing -- it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some of its other denizens"

I'm not sure if that tells us more about Neanderthal Man or the New York City subway system, but it all comes down to the same thing: we need to be careful about making assumptions about extraterrestrials based on incomplete data.

Think of it this way: if a superior alien from an advanced civilization landed on earth and I was the first human it encountered, it would undoubtedly deduce that humans are just like them, but the minute it encountered the rest of you, it would be faced with the crushingly disappointing reality of the situation. It would then just go on back to its home planet and that would be the short history of man's contact with extraterrestrial life...

Conversely, Vakoch points out that if we encounter an alien civilization, "...we should anticipate that this particular observation -- this particular civilization -- is influenced by a panoply of biological, cultural, and historical factors that we will be able to sort out only after many years, if ever."

Vakoch concludes by saying that we must guard against "...imposing our presuppositions on extraterrestrial civilizations," and therefore "making our images of extraterrestrials not so much reflections of their true nature but rather mirrors of our assumptions." 

What does that say, I wonder, about the popular conceptions of aliens as "greys," "reptoids" and "mantises?" I'll have to think on that a while...






Sunday, October 5, 2014

ET: Intergalactic Stalker?

I wrote recently here about "Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication," the fascinating eBook I downloaded from NASA -- for free! The book is a series of papers written by scientists who are interested in both the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI), and it is both an entertaining and a challenging read.

I have finally reached the much-anticipated Epilogue of the book, entitled "Mirrors of Our Assumptions -- Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal," but before I read it -- with all due respect to Mr. Neanderthal -- I wanted to toss out some thoughts about the book thus far...

There's so much to consider when one wants to reach out and contact aliens on other worlds... Can we assume that an alien civilization is capable of communicating with us (or would want to communicate with us at all)? Can we assume that physical "laws" are consistent throughout the universe? Should our search be active (in which we send out messages) or passive (in which we simply listen for messages from others)? If we conduct an active search, do we target certain areas of the sky or send out a signal with the widest possible spread? If the human race makes contact with ETI, how do we decide who gets to do the talking? Are the fears of the Disclosure-oids even remotely realistic? Is simply sending a message to ET sufficient, or will we also have to send a message announcing that we are sending a message? Can the Drake Equation lick the Fermi Paradox in a fair fight? Can't we all just memorize the words "Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto"? And what the hell is the Voynich Manuscript about, anyway?

Several of the authors, to my supreme delight, have made the point that if we are sending out signals to distant alien civilizations, we should take the precaution of not letting them know where we live. Turns out there are stalkers in space... Think about that.

Will first contact be bike this...
...or this??
It's also interesting to have it driven home over and over again that, while people who believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin pretty much have no choice but to believe in ETI as a prerequisite, the opposite is not true: people who believe in ETI do not need to believe that UFOs have an extraterrestrial origin, and they would be pleased us punch if the UFO phenomenon would simply suck it up and crawl back under the rock from whence it came.

With that in mind, I decided to search for the term "UFO" in the text of the NASA book, and what I found was quite sobering... "UFO" comes up exactly three times, and I quote:

"While the SETI program had always suffered from a 'giggle factor' that derived from its association in the popular press with searches for 'little green men' and unidentified flying objects (UFOs), the congressional pressures intensified in 1990," reads the first entry, from Chapter Two: "A Political History of NASA's SETI Program."

"Yet we do not see them, so 'where are they?' Many scientists concluded in the 1970s and 1980s that this argument provided strong empirical evidence that extraterrestrials do not exist--'empirical' because we do not observe them on earth (unless one accepts the evidence for UFOs, which SETI enthusiasts studiously avoid)" reads the second entry, this from Chapter Three: "The Role of Anthropology in SETI; A Historical View."

"In 2004, the NASA Astrophysics Data System listed more than 600 SETI-related articles in refereed journals (Mark Moldwin, 'Why SETI Is Science and UFOlogy Is Not: A Space Science Perspective on Boundaries," Skeptical Inquirer 28, no. 6 [2004]: 40-42," reads the third entry, this one a footnote to Chapter Six: "Learning To Read: Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archeological and Anthropological Perspectives."

Not exactly a big pat on the back from the SETI community, is it? I mean, in a very real sense, we're all on the same side, so it's a little silly that the SETI people feel the need to maintain such a snooty attitude towards the UFO people. It was silly back when SETI pioneer Carl Sagan was ridiculing UFO witnesses on national TV, and it's silly now. Offensive even.

Wouldn't it be great, then, if the first real breakthrough in contact with extraterrestrial intelligence came about from a solitary Certified MUFON Field Investigator -- say, me -- slogging it out in the wilds of Wisconsin, chasing down reports of a daylight disc and coming face to face with an alien entity? A friendly one, I mean? I'd like to see what the SETI folks would be writing their papers about then...




Friday, October 3, 2014

UFO Interview Bombshell!

For all the readers who think they know who I should be interviewing for my biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I have some news.

No, I didn't interview Allen Hendry, although one of you seems to be actively encouraging me to stalk the man, which is getting to be really creepy...

No, the big news is that I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of Dr. Hynek's children, Paul Hynek, for the book, and it was a fantastic experience. Paul gave me a mountain of wonderful material about his dad's personal and professional lives, and I'm happy to say that I was able to share a few things I've learned about his dad that he didn't know.

We talked for about 90 minutes, and have corresponded a bit since then, so it's going to take me a while to make sense of all the new information and to decide how to use it.

Here are a few highlights:

Paul still owns the astronomy textbook that his father read in 1917, and that is said to have inspired young Josef Allen Hynek to become an astronomer. With Paul's help I was able to look the book up on the Library of Congress' website and flip through the very pages Dr. Hynek had read as a child...

To my surprise, Paul had a lot of vivid memories of the famous Father Gill sighting (illustrated above), a genuine Close Encounter of the Third Kind that took place in Boianai, New Guinea in 1959. He had a chance to meet Father Gill on one occasion, and he said that Gill stood out among all the UFO witnesses he had met as being among the most genuine and believable.

I told Paul about a conversation I had recently peeked in on at a UFO chat forum, in which the central theme was Hynek's alleged craven need to be in the limelight. Some people still really think that Hynek was the ultimate media whore, and I was interested in Paul's take on that. Not surprisingly, he disagreed with that portrayal, saying that while his dad rarely shied away from interviews or media coverage where his UFO work was involved, he never went out chasing publicity. In fact, Paul recalled many times when reporters would call or drop by for an interview and his dad would shoo them away. This all gibes with what my research tells me, and maybe people will actually believe it if it comes from a family member.

So, it's been a very good week for the book, but not such a good week for Allen Hendry lovers. But their day will come.