High Strangeness: Damn You, Carl Sagan! -- Part II

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Damn You, Carl Sagan! -- Part II

I'm thrilled that my last post about "The Zeta Reticuli Incident" has spurred so many comments, both here and at UFO Updates on Facebook!

Are we still talking about this? Yes, we are!
There's so much to think about and respond to that I decided to put up a new post to address as much as I feel I can. First things first, though: I think -- at least I hope -- that we can all recognize and agree that "The ZR Incident" and the experiences of both Betty Hill and Marjorie Fish that form the basis of the "Incident" form an interesting chapter in the history if UFOs. You may not think it's an important chapter but I would argue that it's still pretty interesting, if for no other reason that that given in my book:
...the episode certainly illustrates the lengths to which scientists will go to defend their own particular interpretations of difficult data.
The first response to my post came from Robert Sheaffer, who said that what I had written about the ZR Incident, the segment of my book that had been edited out, was "woefully out of date," because I hadn't kept up on current thinking about Marjorie Fish's interpretation of Betty Hill's star map. I replied that because my book is a biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, my narrative ended when Dr. Hynek passed away in 1986, and that therefore any research, writing or debunking involving Fish's work that took place after 1986 was irrelevant to my book. I did write that Fish's work "remains unexplained and controversial," but I did not cite any "current thinking" for the reason stated above.

Which doesn't mean I'm not interested in current thinking. So, as I'm reading over the latest comments today, I have a couple of thoughts. First, I'm struck by Mr. Sheaffer's comments that "The Gliese catalog is now known to have major errors in its distance measurements." It reminded me that in his 1935 Ph.D. dissertation Dr. Hynek pointed our his discovery that astronomers at Mt. Wilson Observatory in California had mis-classified an entire category of stars. Which just goes to show that even astronomers make mistakes, and that what we think we know about the universe is always subject to revision, reinterpretation and even outright rejection upon the discovery of new data, whether it comes from a world-renowned scientist or a somewhat rebellious Ph.D. candidate. When Mariner V flew past Mars in 1965, the photos it sent back "proved" that Mars was lifeless. Up until that moment is was generally accepted that there were indeed Martians on Mars, but Mariner 4 blew that belief out of the water, so to speak. Today we know there is abundant evidence that Mars has, at least in the past, supported life, so we've essentially come full-circle: first there were Martians, then there weren't, now there are/were again....

So, who's to say, maybe tomorrow some new discovery will confirm some part of Fish's analysis. I'm just saying, it's not outside the realm of what's possible... When you consider how quickly our understanding of the cosmos shifts under our collective feet on an almost daily basis, I would not bet on any claim that we know all there is to know about the stars in Betty Hill's map.

But about that map. If we're going to question the legitimacy and accuracy of the map, where do we start?  In other words, if there is an error, where does it originate?
  • Does it originate from Marjorie Fish's interpretation of the map?  
  • Does it originate from Betty Hill's drawing of the map? Can we trust that she perceived the details of the map correctly and was able to accurately transpose her three-dimensional visual memory of that map into a two-dimensional drawing? This is not an easy thing for many of us to do (It's worth repeating here that at two times Betty violated the hypnotic suggestion and stopped to erase and revise something she had drawn on the map--that alone could be the key to this whole episode). 
  • Does it originate from memory loss occurring during the span of time that transpired between Betty seeing the map during her initial abduction experience in 1961, then recalling it some two years later under hypnosis, and then finally drawing it under post-hypnotic suggestions some time after that?
  • Did Betty ever even see a map? Did the abduction even occur?
If you're going to suspect one, you almost have to suspect them all, don't you? I think it's fair to question all of these things, but for the purposes of my book -- which is where this whole thing started -- my aim was to present the UFO phenomenon as though it was really occurring, and to tell the UFO story through the eyes of the witnesses and the investigators. That's because the book was primarily written for the "UFO curious," mainstream readers who are interested in the topic
but may not know a whole lot about it going in. 

I think I've succeeded there, but that approach obviously doesn't work for everyone!


RRRGroup said...


You are inordinately brilliant and your views always astute.

(But can I ask why your site is black with white text? That's a killer to read for some of us.)


Anonymous said...

Nice piece of debunking work - and as always - superbly promoted by The Anomalist . CON

Mark OC said...

Rich, thank you for your kind words. I am truly grateful.

And I thought the white font on the black background looked spooky :)

RRRGroup said...

Spooky is good....


Mark OC said...

Glad you agree!