- On a warm, cloudless night in the summer of 2002, a throng
of UFO enthusiasts congregated in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. Some
were there merely as interested observers, while others eagerly anticipated
a momentous event. Sin City was the perfect location for this gathering,
as UFOs and Vegas have long been synonymous - Area 51 is just over the
horizon near Rachel, NV, and a famous late-night talk show host broadcasts
from the nearby town of Pahrump.
- In the midst of the sky watchers was a very boisterous
Liar. He was a Liar and a buffoon and he demanded the crowd's attention.
- The Liar had grey, disheveled hair and wore wire-framed
glasses which lent him a nerdy countenance. He was no dispassionate observer,
as the entire exercise was his idea and creation. Fifty large of his own
cashola was staked on the outcome of the event, and like many a Liar who
has played on the Strip, he had no compunction with cheating. He pointed
at a bright glowing light among the stars, clearly an airplane headed for
landing at nearby McCarran Airport, and screamed something to the effect
of, "Jiminy Jillickers, friends and neighbors! It's the mothership
coming to take us home! Prepare to beam me up, Mr. Sulu!"
- By all accounts, the Liar's frenetic antics were greeted
with yawns and confused shrugs by the disappointed crowd. Unfortunately
for the Liar, who had hoped to entice the "suggestible" throng
into a shared psychedelic trip of mass hallucination, he had failed to
take into account one hugely critical fact - he was in VEGAS, a land where
cynicism and hope have come to co-exist in the hearts and minds of the
natives. Suckers come and go every weekend in Vegas, a little light in
the wallet and heavy in the head, but permanent residents guard their hides
- The embarassing outcome of this ludicrous spectacle must
have been a shock for the professional Liar. For you see, the Amazing Kreskin,
as the Liar is known, has made his fortune off of deceipt and deception,
manipulation and trickery. Make-believe psychic-readings and bogus future
predictions are his devices of "entertainment," which depend
on the gullibility of John Q. Public. It was this perceived "gullibility"
of the common man which led Kreskin to assume that he could confuse a crowd
of "believers" into mistaking commercial aircraft for spaceships
from another world. He promised that the night of June 6, 2002 would witness
"the largest UFO sighting in history," and even went so far as
to bet $50,000 of his own cash, to be paid to charity, if the sighting
did not occur.
- The sighting unquestionably did NOT occur...but like
many liars, Kreskin is also a welch. He has not coughed up one blood nickel
of his lost wager, not to charity or to anyone else.
- Perhaps Kreskin's undoing was his own "rationality."
After all, it is the perception of all "rational" people that
the UFO phenomena is nothing but mass hysteria fed by continuous media
coverage and pop culture fascination. A "UFO sighting," we are
told, has all the credibility of a child's "encounter" with Santa
Claus or the tooth fairy. People only "see" UFOs because they
are bored with their humdrum lives and need some excitement or distraction.
Programmed by late-night talk shows and Hollywood movies and conspiracy
websites, the uneducated commoner NEEDS to believe in aliens to escape
from the crushing banality of day-to-day existence.
- The biggest problem with this "rational" explanation
for the UFO phenomena is that it cannot be true. Every criticism, every
tired platitude, every uninformed opinion that self-described skeptics
and alleged "rational" thinkers offer on this topic does not
hold up to the tiniest measure of objective scrutiny.
- Every year, thousands upon thousands of prosaic, educated,
and entirely RATIONAL human beings report "sightings" of Unidentifed
Flying Objects in the Earth's sky. Numerous organizations exist for the
sole purpose of recording these sightings, including Peter Davenport's
National UFO Reporting Center (www.nuforc.com), the many branches of MUFON
(The Mutual UFO Network), George Filer's "Filer's Files,", and
Scott Corrales's "Inexplicata." Among the credible eyewitness
are doctors, lawyers, police officers, military personnel, airline pilots,
and even noted politicans, including the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin
(Source: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/03/28/399829-cp.html )
Martin's sighting recently made international headlines, when his jet came
within a "whisker" of a "streaking luminous object."
- The previous installment of this essay dealt with official
government denials of UFOs and ETs. This installment will deal with UFO
eye witnesses, and skeptics' reactions to them..
- Although many sightings are lent credibility by photographic
and video tape evidence (the Phoenix lights, the Mexico City sightings,
the Anthony Woods case), it is my position that eyewitness accounts NEED
NOT be supported by hard physical or visual proof to be viewed as credible.
In this country, we regularly convict people on the testimony of a handful
of witnesses. In the Scott Peterson murder trial, a man has been charged
with the pre-meditated murders of his wife and unborn son, and the only
physical proof tying him to the crime (a few drops of his wife's blood)
is a matter of huge contention. Anecdotal evidence and/or eye witness testimony
have always played enormous roles in the investigative process.
- Let's begin by examining the claim of some "skeptics"
that UFO sightings are the product of media influence and pop culture fascination.
As Matt Nisbet, Public Relations Director for Skeptical Inquirer writes:
"The influence of the electronic media has contributed to a society
of twenty-first century science and technology that is plagued by twelfth
century superstition and belief. According to Gallup polls, more than half
of Americans believe in the Devil, a third believe that houses can be haunted,
three quarters believe in angels, and nearly a third believe in crashed
alien saucers." (Source: http://www.csicop.org/articles/19990527-starwars/index.html)
- If "the influence of electronic media" is manipulating
people into imagining paranormal phenomena, then why did the first "official"
flying saucer sighting occurr in 1947 (pilot Kenneth Arnold), several years
before the B-movie sci-fi craze of the 50's? The very term "fying
saucer" was coined because of the Arnold incident. Which came first
in that instance, the chicken or the egg?
- Why did prototypical "abductees" Betty and
Barney Hill describe ETs that looked NOTHING like the aliens in early sci-fi
films? A review of "flying saucer" movies from the 50's shows
aliens depicted as identifical or nearly identifical to humans (This Island
Earth, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Plan Nine from Outer Space), as giant
monsters (It Came From Outer Space), as robots (Forbidden Plannet), or
as huge, green zombies (Invaders From Mars). Indeed, the term "little
green men" was a creation of 50's sci-fi flicks, and aliens were never
thought of as litte GREYS until AFTER the abduction phenomena became recognized.
I challenge "skeptics" to find any early movie aliens which match
Betty and Barney Hill's depiction of ETs - large, black, almond shaped
eyes, grey skin, "fetus-like" appearance.
- If the "skeptical" theory of UFOs as pop culture
creation is true, one would expect UFO sightings to be endemic to countries
where words like "alien" and "flying saucer" are a
part of the cultural lexicon. An objective analysis of eye witness accounts
from around the world proves that this is not the case.
- On September 16, 1994, in Ruwa, Zimbabwe, 62 elementary
school students ages 5-12 reportedly saw inexplicable "flying objects"
in the sky, appearing and disappearing, until one of the objects landed
on school grounds. From http://ufos.about.com/library/weekly/aa082701a.htm:
"The children said that a small man, about one meter in height, appeared
on top of the object. The little man, who was described as having a scrawny
neck, long black hair, and huge eyes, walked a short way across the ground
toward the students. When he noticed the children, he vanished and then
reappeared at the back of the object. The object then took off and vanished...
- "The late Cynthia Hind, known as Africa's foremost
UFO investigator, investigated the case the next day. When she was first
contacted, she asked the headmaster of the school, Colin Mackie, to have
the children draw pictures of what they had seen. When she arrived at the
school, he had about 35 drawings for her. The drawings were of very similar
- "The headmaster affirmed that he believed that the
students were telling the truth, and one little girl told Cynthia Hind
that, 'I swear by every hair on my head and the whole Bible that I am telling
the truth.'" (END EXCERPT).
- A self-described skeptic can easily dismiss this account
as the superstitious whimsy of children run amok. It is true that African
folklore features a character called "Tokoloshi", which is similar
to the "man" described by the children. However, we need to remember
3 critical factors: 1) Only 24 hours after the alleged sighting, the children
reportedly drew remarkably similar depictions of the anomalous object and
the "little man." If one is going to characterize an event as
mass hallucination, one must explain how different people, even children,
can hallucinate the SAME SPECIFIC DETAILS. Why were the children's accounts
not imbued with widely disparate descriptions? 2) Western media accounts
of UFOs and aliens have not infiltrated the overwhelming majority of African
nations. However, the children's depiction of the "little man"
- the short stature, the scrawny neck, the huge, black eyes - is very comparable
to Western accounts of ET close encounters. 3) The events described by
the children can not be explained in conventional terms. If the children
described a malevolent "wolf-creature," perhaps we could pass
it off as an encounter with a feral dog. But the pilots of conventional
aircraft do not land in schoolyards, disembark from their planes, scare
the hell out of a bunch of kids, then fly away at impossible speeds. Nothing
in nature matches what the children have described. Therefore, their story,
if it is not true, would almost certainly have to be an outright lie, a
- One common trait among very young children is an inability
to keep secrets. Does it seem likely that if the children planned this
event, none of them would subsequently spill the beans to their parents
- Here we have a case which is so "easily" dismissed
by the self-described skeptic...yet so hard to ignore by the open-minded
- Common "skeptical" claims about "mass
hallucination" and media influence also seem inapplicable to the noted
Ohio UFO sightings of April, 2001. Over the course of 24 hours in Waynesville,
Ohio, in Warren County, multiple eye witnesses, including civilians and
law enforcement officers, reported disc-like objects hovering in the night
sky, and moving in unconventional manners. As UFO investigator Kenny Young
pointed out in his extensive report on the sightings, officers "repeatedly
affirm(ed) a cogent distinction between the suspect UFOs and routine stars
and airplanes." (Young's full report, as well as transcripts of police/dispatch
communications, can be read at: http://www.rense.com/general10/inc.htm.
- On the first evening of the Ohio sightings, county dispatchers
contacted local flight control facilities, which denied any knowledge of
air traffic in the vicinty of the "UFOs."
- Peter Davenport of the NUFORC suggested that the officers
may have misidentified natural celestial bodies for UFOs. But Kenny Young
wrote: "The star 'Sirius' was identified by Davenport as a likely
candidate for misperception, but after a sober review of the police tapes...this
attempt at explanation is not looked upon favorably."
- Eye witness accounts by highly trained observers should
always be a source of interest for the open-mind skeptic. Consider also
that the officers risked ridicule from their colleagues for reporting such
"absurd" phenomena as "UFOs."
- Other trained observers to report close-encounters include
large numbers of military personnel, both in the United States and around
the world. One of the most noted cases to garner attention is the Rendelsham
forest UFO sightings of 1980, recently the subject of a Sci-Fi channel
special hosted by Bryant Gumbel (www.scifi.com/rendlesham/). In what has
become known as "the British Roswell," numerous US military personell
witnessed UFOs and other "unearthly phenomena" that they could
not explain. The servicemen reportedly found "three radioactive depressions"
in the ground where the anomalous objects had been sighted. Some of the
men involved say they were debriefed by U.S. and British officers and ordered
to sign documents which contradicted the events they witnessed. They also
claim to have been threatened with violence by U.S. military intelligence
if they did not remain silent.
- Although the British Ministry of Defense released a 180-page
file on the Rendelsham encounter in 2002, the U.S. government continues
still refuses to declassify its own files on the incident.
- It has been suggested that if UFOs are real, the first
ones to see them would be astronauts - and they have, repeatedly. Remember
that the literal definition of UFO is not "alien spaceship,"
but rather UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT. Therefore, John Glenn's account
of "fireflies" in space during his flight in Friendship 7 meets
the technical definition of a "UFO" sighting. Some have also
pointed to Jim Lovell's and Frank Borman's accounts of "bogeys"
and "actual sightings" as vertiable UFO accounts. From Lovell's
flight on Gemini 7 in 1965:
- Lovell: BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
- Capcom: This is Houston. Say again 7.
- Lovell: SAID WE HAVE A BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
- Capcom: Gemini 7, is that the booster or is that an actual
- Lovell: WE HAVE SEVERAL...ACTUAL SIGHTING.
- Capcom: ...Estimated distance or size?
- Lovell: WE ALSO HAVE THE BOOSTER IN SIGHT...
- The most famous astronaut to officially weigh-in on UFOs
is Gordon Cooper, who became a self-described "believer" in part
through his experiences with NASA. Cooper testified to the United Nations
in 1985: "I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation
of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation,
generally from east to west over Europe." Link:
- Cooper further stated: "I believe that these extra-terrestrial
vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets...
Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs...."
- Other noted sightings are too numerous to cover in great
detail here, including the Hudson Valley sightings (http//www.pinebushufo.com),
the Phoenix Lights (http://www.thephoenixlights.net), and the Washington
DC UFO "invasion" of 1952 http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc823.htm).
Many of these cases are supported by physical and/or photographic evidence,
but again, my purpose here is to explore the intrinsic value (or lack thereof)
of human testimony.
- As I have argued in previous commentaries, "skeptics"
of UFO eye witness accounts seem to be operating from a basis of assumption.
Even the ones who are not scientists in any sense of the world will parrot
the assertions of astronomers and physicists who argue against UFOs. This
is what's known as "the claim of consensus," and as author Michael
Crichton stated in a speech to Cal Tech, "Historically, the claim
of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid
debate by claiming that the matter is settled. Whenever you hear the consensus
of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because
you're being had."
- Many "skeptics" have concluded, based on our
current gravitational models of the solar system, that the likelihood of
aliens visiting the earth is so low as to be nearly unworthy of consideration.
The distance they would need to travel, and the "power" required
to do so, are obstacles that no species, no matter how "advanced,"
could overcome. My problem with this argument is that it is predicated
on two spurious assumptions: 1) Our current understanding of space and
time is essentially correct, and only in need of some very minor fine-tuning;
and 2) based on this understanding, we can accurately hypothesize the technological
capabilities of an alien species. These arguments are spurious, because
the Space Age, and more specifically the Age of Discovery, has barely even
- As author David Talbott writes in the forthcoming book
Thunderbolts of the Gods (http://www.thunderbolts.info), "Only a few
decades ago, all well-trained, feet on the ground scientists "knew"
that: 1) Space is empty and cannot conduct electricity; 2) Magnetic fields
do not exist in space; 3) The tails of comets are pushed away from the
Sun by the pressure of light; 4) Jupiter and Saturn have been cold and
inactive since the early history of the solar system; 5) The Planet Mars
has been geologically dead for more than a billion years; 6) Venus is our
"sister planet," with temperatures close to those of the Earth;
7) There are no other galaxies outside of our own; 8) There is no evidence
for planet-wide geological disturbances of the Earth."
- Talbott continues: "Before new findings disproved
these beliefs, they were so 'obviously true' as to discourage challenges.
It is easy to confuse theoretical assumption with fact, and today this
tendency often conceals a tacit belief that, despite the mistakes of previous
generations, WE have the big picture right and the remaining task is simply
to tidy things up a bit."
- We must remember that the word "alien" means
literally dissimilar, inconsistent, incongruous, unknown. Could human beings
one thousand or even one hundred years ago have visualized the technological
marvels of the 21st century? Of course not. Any assumptions about the technological
capabilites, or behaviors, or motivations of theoretical aliens will almost
certainly be incorrect.
- I again refer the reader to the true definition of the
word skeptic: "One who is yet undecided as to what is true; an open-minded
inquirer after facts or reason..."
- Only when we lay aside assumptions of what is possible
and impossible can the inexplicable become comprehensible.
- At least one self-described skeptic is claiming to have
"proved wrong" one statement I made in my story.
- Regarding the Betty and Barney Hill case, I wrote, "I
challenge 'skeptics' to find any early movie aliens which match Betty
and Barney Hill's depiction of ETs..."
- I've been referred to one CSICOP "investigation"
(www.csicop.org/sb/9409/eyesthat.html), which found that prior to Betty
and Barney Hill's alleged abduction, a single episode of the Outer Limits
aired which featured a creature with "wrap around" eyes reportedly
similar to the eyes of the alien depicted by the Hills.
- In my humble opinion, this is another instance where
the "skeptics" are utterly incapable of seeing the forest for
the trees. The alleged "influence" of pop culture and media on
abductees and UFO eyewitnesses is laughably overstated. If people are really
so prone to suggestion from television and movies, then where are all the
reports of close encounters with The Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula,
Giant Spiders, Giant Ants, Giant Eyes, Blobs, Robots, Axe-Wielding Hockey-Mask
wearing psychopaths that never die, and a host of other biologically impossible
characters in popular fiction. And as I clearly proved, the OVERWHELMING
majority of movie ETS bared ZERO resemblance to the aliens reported by
- This is one skeptical "argument" that would
be unworthy of rebuttal if it weren't repeated so often.