Friday, March 16, 2018
Not a UFO, but a USO
Still plugging away at the National Archives' collection of Canadian UFO docs, I came across this curiosity. It stood alone, without any additional accompanying information.
It seems that something described only as a "disappearing object on ocean surf" was seen near the RCAF Station at Torbay (now the St. John's International Airport). This would place it on the easternmost point of North America, at about -52 West longitude, and closer to England than Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, which is near the middle of Canada.
Anyway, sometime of June 22, 1955, an object was seen at sea, and was reported to the RCAF base at Torbay. There were no corroborating witnesses.
What investigation that was done only revealed that there were no American, Canadian, or British submarines in the area at the time.
In other words, this was an official report of an USO (Unidentified Submarine Object).
Only 12 years later, the infamous Shag Harbour UFO would plunge into the ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia, resulting in the Canadian Navy's underwater search for an unidentified object.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Pilots and UFOs
In digging through my archives as I move my office, I come across some interesting things that I published or presented years ago.
This gem dates from 1991, from the early days of the Canadian UFO Survey.
This is a list of UFO reports by pilots, mostly from the National Research Council files, and all from the one year: 1991.
1991 was a good year for pilots to report UFOs. Why was the "ridicule curtain" lifted during that one year?
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Rut’s Rules for Responsibly Reasoning Rational Rhetoric: W5x5+WHICH
Rut’s Rules for Responsibly Reasoning Rational Rhetoric
In ufology, as in other fields of study, claims are often made that some individuals embrace immediately without question, and some reject out of hand. This can come down to a critical assessment by an outside and disinterested party, or an accumulation of evidence that either overwhelmingly supports or refutes the claims.
In order to disarm skeptics or debunkers, it’s important to critically examine a claim to test its soundness. Is a claim really as good as advertised? Whether the claim is that the Earth is flat or that “we never went to the Moon,” we need a general guide when considering something that has been presented as fact. It’s a way to look at “fake news.”
My version is called W5x5WHICH, and it’s based on the basic rule of thumb for reporters and journalists, who when confronted by a story lead, ask W5: Who? What? When? Where? And Why? Even at this level, if any one of the questions cannot be answered with some rigour, the story lead is undermined. For example, if the response to: “When did this happen?” is: “Sometime in 2015,” then there might be some concern about an indeterminate date. Similarly, if the question: “Where did this happen?” is answered with: “Somewhere along the east coast,” the imprecise location may betray some kind of obfuscation.
W5 is a good basis, but I have expanded it to include subsets within each one, then added additional questions that can lead to a better understanding of the issue.
This is adapted from lessons learned through deconstruction and poststructural discourse in the manner of Derrida and Foucault, so that asking “Who is speaking?” allows us to gain insight into the nature of a given statement.
Finally, it should be noted that simply asking questions about a claim is not what is known as debunking. In ufology, the latter is when a claim is considered “bunk” without a detailed examination of evidence for the claim or allowing due process of examination through investigation. Asking questions is how we begin to understand.
…is making a claim? (i.e. Who is speaking?)
…is/are the witness(es)?
…has the information?
…has looked at this evidence already?
…has promoted this claim?
…is the claim?
…are the facts?
…is objective in this instance?
…is subjective about this claim?
…exactly do we know for sure?
…did this occur? (date)
…did this occur? (time)
…was this first presented to the public?
…will more details be made available?
…will this be published in a peer-reviewed journal?
…did this take place?
…was the witness at the time?
…are supporting witnesses?
…can this evidence be examined by an outside reviewer?
…is this information stored?
…is this claimed to be an anomaly?
…is this not a mundane object?
…should this claim be believed?
…should this claim be rejected?
…is this being presented now?
…is the best explanation for the anomaly?
…is a poor explanation for the anomaly?
…do we know the evidence is good?
…do we know the witness is reliable?
…there competing or alternate explanations for the anomaly?
…there complete provenance for any evidence presented?
…the witness(es) be mistaken?
…the witness(es) be fabricating the story?
…is being demanded for accessing the evidence?
…is required to independently assess the claim?
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
The Robertson Briefing: An inside look at how one government viewed UFOs
In going through the UFO files within the Canadian National Archives, I came across a curious briefing document that had been prepared in November 1967 to give an overview of the status of the UFO phenomenon in Canada. It had been created, with accompanying slides, by Wing Commander D.F. (Douglas Furg) Robertson of the Canadian Forces, possibly to bring the new Minister of Defence up to date (the infamous Paul Hellyer had left the position a few months earlier). But the Briefing was more designed to help alleviate the burden of dealing with UFOs by the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND).
On the first page, Roberson defines a UFO as "an unusual aerial sighting which the observer is unable to identify or explain." This definition is at odds with more refined versions that place some responsibility on the investigator rather than the observer. But if someone sees something he or she can't explain, it's a UFO, at least to the Canadian Forces.
At the top of page 2, it is noted there was an actual Administrative Order, CFAO 71-6, which specifically instructs the Director of Operations (DOps) to investigate UFO reports.
On page 3, a reiteration that the USAF UFO investigation group found no evidence that UFOs "constitute a direct physical threat to the security of the USA." Further, that UFOs should be "stripped" of their mystery. Roberston then noted that in about 1960, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) established a scientific committee to study fireballs and meteors, but carefully noted the committee is interested in optical observations of astronomical events and not "the scientific evaluation of unusual aerial sightings." So the NRC may have been receiving UFO reports, but its mandate was in scientific assessment of meteors.
UFO reports referred to the Department of National Defence (DND) were forwarded to Air Defence Command (ADC) for investigation. Furthermore, ADC and its partner North American Air Defense (NORAD) were "most interested in aerial objects which could not be properly identified." But as most UFO reports were explainable and were not considered threats to the nation, responsibility for UFO investigations was transferred to Canadian Forces Headquarters (CFHQ). Then, the Director of Intelligence coordinated UFO investigations. Roberston identified Dr. J.C. Arnell, the Scientific Deputy Chief of Technical Services, as someone who "was an active an interested participant in dealing with UFO matters." Then, in the spring of 1966, UFO investigations became the duty of the Director of Operations (DOps).
Page 5 is a description of Project Blue Book and the Colorado Committee.
On page 6, Roberston tells his committee that some civilian groups are investigating UFOs and that some "distinguished and prominent citizens," many of whom are "exceptionally well qualified," are studying UFO reports. He mentions Dr. James McDonald specifically, noting his evaluations of "credible reports of low-level, close-range sightings of machine-like objects."
Page 7: the seven categories of UFOs: hoaxes, hallucinations, misidentifications, military vehicles, natural electromagnetic phenomena, psychological phenomena, ...and UFOs!
Page 8 notes that "the University of Toronto will undertake a serious scientific review" of UFOs. This was based out of the U of T Institute for Aerospace Studies, which had a subcommittee of UFOs meet regularly in the 1960s and early 1970s. Curiously the Institute's current website has no hint of any association with UFO research, and a search of its site for anything related to UFOs produces no results at all. This, despite the fact that the UTIAS reports on UFOs were at one time searchable online.
Also on this page, Roberston detailed the CFHQ procedure for investigating UFO reports. First, Operations Staff had to decide whether the report was of a fireball or meteor, or something else.
Fireball reports were to be sent to the NRC Meteor Centre and to a provincial NRC representative. But as for the second category, the "non-meteors,"...
These were classified into three classes: Class A cases warranted a formal investigation; Class B were "interesting," but didn't need investigation; and Class C were of "little practical value," so no investigation was required. A logical question is: if Class B were interesting, why wouldn't they be investigated?
And this is where things get interesting.
On page 10, Robertson notes that prior to 1966, DND was getting about 40 UFO reports each year. But in 1967, the number jumped to 167. In fact, a higher number was crossed out: 193 reports as of mid-November 1967. That would mean a five-fold increase from 1966 to 1967. It is not clear why the numbers were revised lower for the briefing document. Not only that, but Robertson notes that the 167 (or 193) does not include reports explained as meteors or fireballs. That means the 167 (or 193) are already minus misidentified IFOs and reports that were otherwise explained; but these were not the Class C cases.
Roberston notes there were 8 (or 9) Class A cases in 1967, and 21 (or 23) Class B cases. He notes: "the remainder classified under Class 'C.'" So fireball reports were not part of the UFO report collection.
On page 11, the nature of UFO investigation is detailed. Formal investigations may be as simple as an interview of a witness by an investigator, or as complex as involving other agencies such as the RCMP, NRC, Defence Research Board (DRB) or the Department of National Health and Welfare. The last agency is a bit puzzling. What aspects of a UFO report would require investigation by an agency interested in health?
Robertson attempted to plot the UFOs reported in 1967 on a map of Canada to see if there was some kind of obvious geographical distribution. There wasn't, and his attempts to draw relationships or see patterns between location, time, description, movement and other factors all failed as well, except one: "a small relationship in the size of the UFO contained in a number of reports." But what this means is anyone's guess.
Here is the most interesting part of Roberston's briefing. He notes that of the 29 (or 32) cases in 1967 that were either Class A or Class B, six were worthy of discussion in the briefing. The first was the Falcon Lake case, involving the physical effects of a UFO on Stefan Michalak on May 20, 1967.
Roberston's review of the Falcon Lake case included the note that the RCMP Crime Laboratory was "unable to reach any conclusion as to what may have caused the burn damage" to Michalak's clothing.
Soil samples from the site "were analysed and found to be radioactive to a degree that the samples had to be safely disposed." Here is the earliest confirmed instance of a UFO case where radiation was associated with a UFO landing. And the radiation level was so high, the samples were deemed dangerous! A radiologist from the Department of Health and Welfare (this is why that department had been named) "was unable to provide an explanation as to what caused the area to become contaminated."
Finally, the kicker: "Neither the DND nor the RCMP investigation teams were able to provide evidence which could dispute Mr. Michalak's story. Although the investigation has been completed, a satisfactory explanation or conclusion is still lacking."
There you have it: Military and police investigators could not explain the case.
The second case included in the briefing was the "Warren Smith photos" from July 3, 1967. A three witness case, Smith took two photos of a saucer-shaped object flying over some trees while in the Rocky Mountain foothills 30 miles west of Calgary near Nanton, Alberta. The Canadian Forces' Photo Intelligence Interpretation Centre concluded: "assuming the photograph to be genuine, the UFO fitted the description of the object reported by Mr. Smith." That weaselly statement didn't say it was unexplained, only that it looked like a UFO.
Next up was a strange sighting that took place on June 18, 1967, at Clearwater Bay, on Shoal Lake in Ontario. What isn't obvious to the casual reader is that Clearwater Bay is barely 30 kilometres (less than 20 miles!) from where Stefan Michalak was burned by a UFO less than a month earlier. What's more, this case also involved physical evidence.
At about 10:30 pm, Mr. Greene and his family were in a boat on Shoal Lake, heading for Clearwater Ba,y when they saw a domed, disc-shaped object moving above the trees on shore, about a mile away (the original report said 1/4 mile away). Greene decided to turn the boat towards the craft to get a better view. The object seemed metallic, about 25 to 30 feet across and about 10 to 15 feet thick. (In other words, almost exactly the same dimensions and appearance as the Falcon Lake object.) But as he approached, the object suddenly dropped down and approached their boat at high speed. Greene and his passengers were scared, and so he turned around and headed to the opposite shore, where they got out of the boat.
But the playful object moved back to its original position so they got back in the boat and tried to get near it again. It came towards them again so they beat a hasty retreat. They woke up some neighbours (who were relatives and also named Greene), then they all watched the object as it hovered for 15 minutes in the west before it flew away in that direction.
As for physical effects, another relative who lived 1/4 mile from where the object had hovered was listening to his transistor radio at the time and found it was overwhelmed by static. An investigation carried out by RCMP and DND found a freshly fallen tree near where the craft hovered, as well as a strange wilting of leaves in the treetops. Leaves from the affected area were analysed and showed "no evidence of fungus or blight."
The investigation of the Clearwater Bay case was "concluded without any fixed conclusions or findings being made."
The fourth case was the notable Shag Harbour UFO "crash" of October 5, 1967. The case was given only a very brief treatment by Roberston, although he noted it was described as a "dark" object, 60 feet wide with 4 white lights, and moving low over the water before it descended rapidly to the water making a whistling noise. It made a big splash when it hit the ocean, and a single light floated for a while, then went out. RCMP Corporal Wercicky was said to be one witness.
Robertson noted: "An investigation conducted by DND which included an underwater search failed to locate any evidence which could be associated with a UFO. The investigation was concluded without arriving at any fixed findings."
What does that mean? No evidence that could be "associated" with a UFO? Like what? And there were no "fixed findings?" Does that mean it was unexplained?
But page 20 also includes something rather remarkable: a radar case. On July 6, 1967, at about 7:00 pm, three air traffic controllers and two radar technicians all witnessed "an unidentified radar target" tracked through seven sweeps. And where did this take place? According to Robertson, it was "some 70 miles east of Winnipeg." That's almost exactly at Falcon Lake. Again. Very close to Clearwater Bay, too.
It's possible that Robertson had the location a bit off, as the USAF radar base in Canada was actually located near Milner Ridge, Manitoba, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) northeast of Winnipeg.
At any rate, the object tracked on radar sped up from 720 knots to 3600 knots in 70 seconds, an amazing acceleration. Roberston noted the witnesses were "certain it was a radar target and not something associated with mechanical, electronic or equipment faults."
But not to be outdone, page 21 of Robertson's briefing listed another radar case that occurred only a few hours later. At 9:24 pm on July 6, 1967, radar operators at Kenora airport followed an unknown object for at least 29 minutes, deeming it a "positive radar contact." The object followed Air Canada airlines Flight 405 for a while then disappeared from the scope. It reappeared and followed another Air Canada plane, Flight 927, for a while. Roberston noted: "DOT (Department of Transport) are unable to explain these radar returns."
NB: Kenora is only 30 kilometres (about 20 miles) away from Clearwater Bay.
Finally, Robertson's sixth case was practically mentioned only as an afterthought, even though it represented a new phenomenon: crop circles. Yes, the first crop formations were not found in Britain as is usually believed, but in Canada, on August 6, 1967, near Camrose, Alberta. As Robertson noted: "An investigation conducted by DND substantiated that an unknown object or objects had left six, six-inch width, 31 to 36 diameter circles in the soil... and the impressions indicated distinct pressure. There was no physical evidence of any damage to trees or shrubs in the field and no evidence to suggest a deliberate interference or involvement by any person."
Therefore, the first crop circles found in North America were investigated by the Canadian Armed Forces. Also, there was no associated sighting of a UFO, yet this was included in a briefing on UFOs for the Canadian military.
On page 23, DND made a case for shuffling the UFO problem off to the NRC.
It made sense, because the NRC was the main scientific body in Canada, and UFOs seemed to be a scientific issue.
Page 24 addressed the topic of secrecy and classification of material related to UFOs. This was because the public was demanding information about UFOs, and "it is important that due caution be exercised to avoid creating the impression that DND is 'hiding or concealing something.'" Robertson noted that certain documents would be protected from release, but "the release of other than classified material would be in the interest of the general public."
Roberston realized that being forthcoming and cooperative with the public (i.e. media) about UFOs would be a good public relations tactic. The advantage of such a policy was that it would "provide a public service and to further the scientific and objective research into UFOs."
If only other governments (or even current versions of the government) would adopt such a policy.
Robertson's recommendations were based on practical considerations regarding UFO sightings. "The marked increase in the Air Section (RCAF) administrative workload which is directed towards actioning UFO reports is reaching a stage which is considered detrimental to the primary operational responsibilities and duties of the section."
In other words, those pesky flying things (PFTs) were interfering with the more important day-to-day operations of the Air Force.
"It is important to stress at this point, that the Director of Operations has neither the qualified technical staff, the established strength, nor the necessary scientific assistance required to conduct an objective type investigation into UFO reports."
UFOs, therefore, were viewed as a scientific problem, unrelated to terrestrial military activity. However: "... the primary interest of UFOs lies in the field of science, and to a lesser degree, to one that is associated with national security."
So while the Air Force had an interest in UFO because of a potential security threat, the subject was placed directly into the lap of the scientific establishment (which didn't want it either).
Although bounced to the NRC, DND "must be willing to assist in such areas as field investigations." That ensured that should anything involving actual national security was discovered, DND would still have jurisdiction.
The Roberston Briefing was presented in 1967 as a way to move responsibility for UFO reports away from the Canadian military and into Canada's scientific establishment. One can surmise that a similar discussion took place within the American military at one point as well.
What is most interesting about the Roberston Briefing is that it contained details of a handful of fascinating UFO cases that occurred during a few months in 1967, all of which involved physical evidence and were unexplained by DND. In fact, several took place within a radius of only about 100 kilometres, centred on Falcon Lake, Manitoba. Is this Canada's "UFO Hotspot?"
[Here's a survey of many of the more interesting cases during the 1967 Canadian UFO wave.]
And since these unexplained cases involved physical evidence, reputable and highly trained witnesses, and even military and police investigations, these were the kind of cases that would have challenged the scientific community and demanded further attention.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Moonbeam, Ontario: Canada's Sedona?
I was recently asked about Moonbeam, Ontario, and its connection with UFOs, forest rings, and other phenomena. I had forgotten I published a piece about Moonbeam on the original UFO UpDates, back in October 2004.
The Moonbeam Connection
It predates the Men Without Hats song, but the lyrics are still appropriate:
You, you were on a moonbeam
Me, I was on a star
Gee everything was blue, blue-green
Because everything was far
Not that far away, but far enough, is the town of Moonbeam, Ontario. It's just east of Kapuskasing and about a two-hour drive northwest of Timmins in the Canadian Shield along Highway 11.
It's also the new Canadian Mecca for UFOs.
The town doesn't come by this reputation lightly. It may, in fact, be the only place in the world named because of a UFO. Even Roswell can't claim that.
According to Melanie Bergeron of the Moonbeam Economic Development Council (MEDC), the town may have been named because unusual lights have been reported in the area since early in the 1900s. When incorporated in 1922, the name Moonbeam seemed appropriate for that reason and also because of the late-night reflections off nearby beautiful, blue-green Remi Lake. The town itself was named for Moonbeam Lake and Moonbeam Creek, both east of the townsite near the hamlet of Strickland. Tales are told that pioneers in the area often saw flashing lights in the skies and what they called "moonbeams" falling down near the creek.
In 1969, Rene Brunelle, then Ontario Minister of Lands and Forests, was routinely interviewed by reporters about various events and issues. During one interview, he was quoted as making a comment about Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon that year, pointing out (probably half in jest) that the town of Moonbeam had a connection to the story attracting attention around the world.
An area resident sent Brunelle a letter relating the story of how Moonbeam got its name and describing some of the UFO sightings reported in the region over the years. He advised:
The initial scientific conclusion which can be drawn is that the UFO's are glowing electromagnetic plasmas produced by corona effects, due to faulty conditions on nearby power transmission lines.
However, he also noted that residents argue that:
... these objects were around before the power lines were built.
They advise that the majority of sightings occur in November after some snow has fallen. The consensus (for some unknown reason) is that they will reappear this year on the night of November 23rd.
They describe the UFOs as flattened domed disks, 15 to 20 feet in diameter, appearing with a roaring noise and coloured from red to orange. At these times, radio and television are blanked out by static. Some residents use welder's Polaroid goggles to look at the UFO's claiming this gives them a better view of the "moonship" and its alien occupants.
The original author of the letter has not been located, but the original document has been discovered in provincial archives and serves as proof that something may have been seen near Moonbeam for many years.
On a clear summer night in about 1970, at 11:30 pm, an area resident had just dropped off a hitchhiker on a road near Moonbeam when he saw a pale green object hanging in the sky an estimated 100 feet away and about 1,000 feet in the air. The egg-shaped object, which he initially thought was an aircraft of some kind, was about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. It seemed to bounce up and down in the sky and was definitely not behaving like a plane, apparently "defying the laws of gravity."
"I was afraid to drive under it," the witness said. Frightened, he turned off the engine and watched it in eerie silence. "It was so unbelievable," he added.
After watching it for about a full minute, the light vanished abruptly, leaving no trace.
However, that same week, a newspaper account described how some other people leaving a movie theatre at about 11:30 pm one night had seen a strange light in the sky as well.
Since then, stories have continued to circulate that odd lights and craft have been repeatedly seen in the area. One farm in particular along Moonbeam Creek has a reputation for attracting UFOs, apparently. Brunelle's informant noted:
The other startling fact is that these ships always land and take off from the same places. Four such spots along the creek were show to me, with one being just due west... Had these been plasmas generated by storms or hydro lines, they would have been discharged upon touching earth.
Examination of the ground at these places show the rock to be stained brownish-black with some crumbling as if due to exposure to intense heat. Geiger counter readings go off the meter scale in the centre of the areas indicating possible use of controlled nuclear propulsion.
He added, ominously: "I wonder about the possible effects on the cattle grazing over this land."
Unfortunately, the records of such tests, studies or scientific readings cannot be located, so there is no way to verify these claims. When Bergeron visited the area this year, she found brownish-black stains on some white stones, without any obvious explanation, although she was not at a location where objects had been reported.. She did, however, speak with the land owner, who did admit that unusual objects and lights had been seen near the creek in recent years.
The connection with hydro and transmission lines is tenuous at best, but even here is a claim to fame for Moonbeam, for just a few kilometres away from the town is a major scientific installation. An array of radar towers part of a worldwide network called SuperDARN is based there, consisting of a myriad of T-shaped antennas designed to monitor solar storms and other elements of "space weather."
Yet another strange phenomenon in the area is "forest rings," not related to "crop circles" but seemingly as mysterious. Within the boreal forest of dense stands of black spruce, tamarack and pine standing in moist, peaty ground are thousands of perfectly round rings. Visible only from the air, the rings of lighter-coloured growth were discovered when geologists examined aerial photographs. Some geologists suggested they signaled diamond-bearing kimberlites (rare igneous, blue-tinged rocks). One believes the circles could be giant, natural batteries. A prevailing theory is that they were caused by an unusual fungus which affected the vegetation as it grew radially away from a central spore. Most of the rings are less than 300 metres across, but one is more than two kilometres wide. More than 2,000 have been found in a band that stretches from Lake Nipigon in Ontario to Matagami, Quebec, including a cluster on Anticosti Island in the St. Lawrence River.
It has been discovered that the soil within the rings is rich in carbonates, leading to a theory that electro-chemical processes in the earth can act as a natural battery in the ground that is slowly and continually discharging. A mineral such as iron could act as a negative charge at a circle's centre and comes into contact with positively-charged carbonate soil that produces acidic conditions. This in turn eats away at the soil, forming a ring of organic compounds that suppress tree growth.
With these and other "out of this world" elements, the town has always had an affinity for space-related themes. In the 1970s, astronaut Eugene Cernan visited the town on a public relations tour through Ontario.
In 1990, when nearby towns were erecting monuments and other edifices that symbolized their community as tourist attractions, the Moonbeam town council decided that something a bit out of the ordinary might be preferable. Some people wanted a statue of something to represent the area's wildlife, but eventually it was decided to build a "full scale" model of a flying saucer. For a cost of about $25,000, a fibreglass UFO was constructed, complete with flashing lights around its rim, and erected on the edge of town.
Not far away, a hiking trail was developed around Remi Lake, with guideposts marking the way. It was decided that the trail needed a mascot to help visitors enjoy their visit, so Kilo the alien was born. He (or perhaps she) now greets tourists as they enter the area.
This past summer, a movie production company began shooting a documentary on Yonge Street, starting at the Toronto waterfront and heading north into rural Ontario. When they reached Moonbeam, they were so impressed with the stories of UFOs and aliens visiting the area that they are now working on a documentary about Moonbeam itself.
This coincided, oddly enough, with more UFO sightings. Early in August 2004, the owner of the Moonbeam Golf Course woke up at 2:30 am to let his dog outside. When he looked out, he saw two large lights in the sky. He thought at first they were on a helicopter, but he couldn't hear any sound that would indicate there was a plane or copter in the area. Thinking they might be a reflection off nearby lights, he walked away from his house and found the UFOs did not change position or shape. Frightened, he went back inside his home and watched the lights hanging stationary in the sky for another 15 to 20 minutes before nervously heading back to bed. In the morning, there was no sign that anything extraterrestrial had visited the site.
When he mentioned his sighting to others, he learned that a few days earlier, a couple living near the golf course had also seen a strange light in the sky that hovered for awhile, then vanished abruptly.
Spurred by this growing accumulation of strange stories and occurrences, the MEDC decided to further promote the UFO connection. A website has been developed and a "UFO Hotline" has been designated for local residents to call and share their stories. Archives are being scoured for earlier records of UFO sightings and word has gone out that the MEDC is interested in hearing from witnesses.
Moonbeam is off the beaten track, but because of this might certainly be a place for aliens to land without being seen by too many Earthlings. Skeptics can argue that stories of lights in the sky and dancing moonbeams are probably just fanciful notions and figments of people's imaginations. But to those who have seen the lights and know the stories, Moonbeam could very well replace Toronto as the center of the universe.
Saturday, January 06, 2018
Disconnected from Disclosure
Disconnected from Disclosure
As I write this (January 2018), I am in the midst of collating all the Canadian UFO reports filed with various organizations and agencies in 2018. It’s too early to cite any hard numbers, and it usually takes me and Geoff Dittman until about March or April to get data entered and analysed, but it looks like 2017 will have been a “good year” for UFOs.
Some of you will think that’s been obvious, with the announcement in October 2017 by former punk rocker Tom DeLonge that he had formed the To The Stars Academy (TTSA) for studying UFOs and disseminated the evidence for alien contact with humans. Then, in December came the revelation that some individuals associated with DeLonge’s group, including former Pentagon employees, had worked within a program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). It existed from 2007 to 2012 (although rumoured to have continued secretly) to study “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
This announcement, through no less a media vehicle than the New York Times, was hailed as the Disclosure about UFOs that ardent believers have been waiting for all these years. The existence of a classified government program to study UFOs had been assumed by many, but this was the admission everyone was waiting for. Since Project Blue Book closed in 1969, it seemed incomprehensible that the US government and military establishment would not have continued to receive and study UFO reports, especially from military personnel at the very least.
Along with this announcement, media were given access to a former military pilot who described an in-flight encounter with a UFO that had been seen approaching the USS Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004. Two videos were also released, neither of which were the “gun camera” videos taken by this pilot, but they seemed to support the story that the American crew had an aerial encounter with something strange over the ocean.
I won’t go into the details of the post-release analyses of these videos by the more objective members of the ufological community, who have tried to track down the true provenance of the videos and who have painstakingly examined the videos for possible explanations. Debunking skeptics, oddly enough, have simply brushed the claims aside and dismissed them out of hand. “Call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien,” said science populist and UFO debunker Neil DeGrasse Tyson in a CNN interview about the Nimitz claims. “The evidence is so paltry for aliens to visit Earth, I have no further interest.”
To hardcore believers, however, the TTSA Nimitz story is the proof they have been waiting for. The government knows aliens are here, and they’ve been keeping the truth from us. But now, mainstream media have taken an interest, and so we finally have Disclosure!
Although… we don’t, really. Because of the strong marketing by DeLonge and his TTSA staff, media did remain interested for a while, but the alien story has now been trumped by other news. We didn’t really get much in the way of revelations. The Nimitz video had been leaked publicly on YouTube years ago through a German special effects company, raising some warranted suspicion. The videos don’t match what the pilot saw. The pilot’s testimony itself is interesting, but we’ve had many pilots come forward with stories of UFO encounters over the past several years. A popular book by Leslie Kean details many of these. The stories show that UFOs are still being seen and reported by qualified observers.
In Canada, we’ve been more fortunate than the Americans, as UFO reports have been continuously part of the official record through the decades. As readers of this blog know, I regularly include UFO sightings reported to Transport Canada and other official agencies in the annual Canadian UFO Surveys. And 2017 was no exception. In fact, because UFOs were being reported and recorded while the American UFO project had been closed, it was obvious that another American project must have been doing the UFO work in parallel to the Canadian records. AATIP is at least a partial answer, and it only officially ran between 2007 and 2012.
And what do the 2017 Canadian UFO reports tell us about the nature of the UFO phenomenon? Do they support the excitement of Disclosure?
In a word, no.
In fact, out of roughly 1,000 UFO reports every year in Canada, none are proof of alien intervention or visitation. Yes, there’s a small percentage of unknowns or unexplained UFO reports every year, but even they just mean that we’re not sure exactly what they were. And in many cases, further investigation and details that come to light later can help explain even those as terrestrial and human phenomena.
It’s also useful to consider the numbers involved. Typically, there are about ten percent fewer UFO reports in Canada than the USA, in any given year. This is because there’s a direct population effect. More people around as potential UFO witnesses means more UFO reports. So that means there are, roughly, about 10,000 UFO reports in the USA every year. And these are only the ones reported to civilian agencies like NUFORC and MUFON. Where do the sightings made by military personnel on routine or clandestine missions get reported?
A partial answer might be the AATIP group as noted in the TTSA release. It makes perfect sense that UFOs seen by military pilots and other official observers would be going to an official agency, just in case the UFOs seen were “enemy” aircraft or other phenomena posing potential threats to personnel. Aliens need not be involved. Furthermore, because such sightings would be regular occurrences during the course of normal operations in many theatres, a program keeping track of such observations would not just operate for seven years. It would be an ongoing thing.
AATIP, therefore, was likely only an arm of another project, bleeding into the civilian world through technology companies like that run by billionaire Robert Bigelow, who has a profound interest in the UFO phenomenon and who believes we are being visited by extraterrestrials.
It was also claimed that Bigelow had to “modify” special buildings within his purview in Las Vegas “for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that… had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.” This was perhaps the most remarkable claim within this broader story. Pilot testimonies of UFO encounters are nothing new. Government UFO programs have been noted before. But actual physical evidence from a UFO? That’s in a different category of ufological discourse.
We don’t know what these might be, however, and there’s no hint that anything about this is forthcoming. But over the course of UFO history, many claimed alien artefacts have been presented and examined by ufology researchers and independent laboratories. None have been deemed truly alien.
But which ones might be in such a collection? I developed a list some time ago and posted it publicly. They might include:
1. Ubatuba magnesium.
2. The Bob White "bullet"
3. Falcon Lake radioactive silver bars
4. Ottawa slag
5. Crashed-saucer material (?) from El-Taire, Bolivia?
6. Crashed-saucer material (?) from Plains of San Augustin
7. Roswell fragment found by Ben Mezrich?
8. Implant(s) from Derrell Sims' collection
9. Valensole plant material?
10. Pretoria (1965) asphalt
11. Desvergers' cap
12. Maury Island slag
13. Angel hair?
14. "Space grass"
15. Spitzbergen rocket hardware
16. Chunk of UFO shot off UFO by Navy fighter in 1952?
One can imagine that if money was no object, you could get your hands on this kind of material. It’s been known that pre-eminent ufologist Jacques Vallee visited Argentina as recently as 2016 and may have been given access to some of the original Ubatuba metal at one point in the past. He noted in one interview that the Ubatuba metal, if really from the 1930s as claimed, would be quite interesting. (He also described a metallic fragment from a 1970s UFO case that turned out to be aluminum.)
What this shows is that pieces allegedly from alien spacecraft have been found and examined for a long time, and that this “hard evidence” could be what scientists contracted by UFO-focused billionaires would be examining for evidence of alien visitation. And such scientists could be part of an actual “Invisible College” like what Vallee described in one of his books, willingly studying UFO evidence out of personal interest and collaborating with like minds at post-secondary institutions around the world.
This was, in effect, what I have been doing in the background for many years, seeking out academics willing to entertain the subject of UFOs without dismissing it out of hand and engaging in useful discussions. For example, it’s how I got a small group of scientists, ufologists and a UFO witness together in the early 1980s for the Manitoba Conference on Ufology to talk openly about the nature of the UFO phenomenon. It’s partially why I continue to work with Geoff Dittman and others on the annual Canadian UFO Survey: to gather UFO data through collaboration with UFO organizations sincerely seeking to help understand the phenomenon, and make the data available for others to use in studies. (It’s already being used in some statistical courses as an example for data mining.)
Which brings me back to UFO report data.
We began the annual Canadian UFO Survey in 1989. Originally, it was simply an exercise to see what the overall national picture looked like in terms of UFO sightings reported in Canada. What area of the country had the most UFO sightings? Were there any patterns to the distribution? Were saucers more common than cigars? What could UFO reports tell us about UFO witnesses themselves? And so forth.
The hardest part was getting cooperation from other ufologists and group across the country, who tended to be rather territorial and ensurient. Through the enlightened teamwork with those that worked with me, however, we gained some insight into the nature of UFO reports and their characteristics. What’s more, we had some data on the distribution of UFO reports across classifications. Most were simply lights in the sky. Close encounters were few and far between. Most UFO sightings had more than one witness. And so on.
But above all, the analyses showed that few UFO reports were left unexplained after investigation. In fact, after a few years, it became obvious that data on things such as the duration of a sighting, the colour, and the time of day, often provided enough information to explain many UFO cases. The ratios of unknowns to explained cases or to those with possible or probable explanations remained fairly constant from year to year. Only a small fraction of UFO cases each year were left as unexplained, and even in those cases, none were convincing proof that aliens were visiting Earth. After something close to 30 years of studying actual UFO reports (as in the case of the annual Canadian UFO Survey), we have looked at about 18,000 UFO reports in only one country. And this can be extrapolated to something like 150,000 to 200,000 UFO reports from the USA during that same time period.
(This of course is immaterial to the caution that not all ufologists believe UFOs are alien spaceships. Many note that UFO simply means unidentified flying object, and that perhaps other explanations such as an atmospheric phenomenon might be responsible. The reality is that media campaigns such as that launched by DeLonge and TTSA trumpet the contention that UFOs are indicative of alien intervention.)
But based on analyses of tens of thousands of UFO reports, if there is no real evidence that UFO sightings are caused by alien spacecraft, what is the whole Nimitz/Pentagon/TTSA announcement and effort all about?
It’s also interesting that in 2004, Bigelow announced the closing of the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) which he founded and funded in 1995 to study Fortean phenomena, but especially UFOs. But by 2004, he noted NIDS had no cases to study for years and therefore was rendered “inactive.” Yet only three years later, AATIP was created and later allocated $22 million to Bigelow for studying reports of unidentified aerial phenomena, and had been encouraged enough to create a building to house alien artefacts.
As noted elsewhere, I had met Robert Bigelow in 2009 at a MUFON conference. We talked a bit about my work and he expressed interest in an arrangement to receive information about “good” Canadian UFO cases. This meant cases for which he could send his team of investigators out to interview witnesses and acquire physical evidence, if any, ahead of media and other civilian investigations. But since no such Canadian cases became evident, it was a moot point.
To me, all of this is pointing to what I would call a disconnection from disclosure. The revelations so far presented don’t seem to be the (capital D) Disclosure that UFO zealots have been waiting for. There was initially a bit of a media flurry, but mainstream media are back to focusing on other issues. It’s possible that with so much attention to and claims of “fake news” today, stories about possible alien visitation just don’t seem that remarkable. Especially when the hard evidence isn’t made available.
There are stories floating around the Internet about mogul-financed investigations of UFO crash sites, an invisible college of academics in conferences on ufology, and back-engineered projects and products (such as smart phones, quantum computing, and Velcro) that were inspired or produced from bits of alien tech.
And yet, there are thousands of real, verified UFO reports from sincere witnesses who believe they have seen alien spacecraft, but upon even cursory investigation (let alone intensive research) turn out to have simple explanations. This is a paradox of significant proportions, and flies in the face of any imminent disclosure or even “soft” disclosure, however you may wish to define it.
On the one hand, we have thousands of UFO reports from individuals across many demographics. The overwhelming majority are innocent misidentifications, but many are easily explained IFOs whose witnesses are firmly convinced aliens have contacted them. A tiny fraction is unexplained, but these don’t necessarily mean aliens are visiting.
On the other hand, there are people in positions of power and/or influence who are convinced that aliens have made themselves known to a select group. We also know that various world governments and military institutions have had (and likely continue to have) an interest in UFO reports. This interest is largely because intrusions on a country’s airspace is of great concern, but when individuals in power involve themselves in such programs, the delineation between objectivity and religious belief in alien influence blurs. Disclosure is assumed by some; rejected out of hand by others.
And hence, we have a disconnection from disclosure. We need facts and data that would allow reasonable conclusions to be drawn, but we still have mostly conjecture and interpretation. Proponents of the recent revelations scoff at “debunkers” who refuse to see this Disclosure that is as plain as the noses on their faces. Adamant skeptics demand more tangible evidence that can be presented in a public court for open examination.
I suspect that with some government officials rattling some cages, we might see the initiation of some low-level congressional inquiries into the truth behind the recent furore. We might be treated with the release of additional footage from the Nimitz video.
But will any of that be enough to state there is true Disclosure of alien intervention?