ExoPolitical Waves II

July 13, 2010

Statement Regarding the Authenticity of the MAJESTIC 12 Documents

Filed under: Science,Space,UFOs — bearmarketnews @ 1:43 pm
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UFO Evidence header

Statement Regarding the Authenticity of the MAJESTIC 12 Documents

Joseph Firmage

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: Now that the new MAJESTIC 12 documents are in broad circulation, it is appropriate for me to make a few comments regarding their authenticity and their role in support of the hypothesis contained in The Truth.

Joseph Firmage
author’s bio

Now that the new MAJESTIC 12 documents are in broad circulation, it is appropriate for me to make a few comments regarding their authenticity and their role in support of the hypothesis contained in The Truth.

Let me first state for the record five key philosophical points that frame my sponsorship of this initiative:

I have no economic motive in advancing this hypothesis or these materials. I have every conceivable career disincentive for pursuing this research. However, this line of discovery in my opinion is more important than any individual’s career, and I am putting my money where my mouth is to do this.

Only those who have taken the time to read extensively in the domain are qualified to assess the historicity of the UFO phenomenon. Outright rejection of the evidence without comprehensive review of the research in print across hundreds of books is close-minded, unscientific, and indeed irresponsible in the extreme. It is also quite understandable given decades of government disinformation which, right or wrong in its genesis, was specifically designed to create a “giggle factor” surrounding the subject.

I will not selectively listen only to the evidence that simply agrees with my own previously stated views, nor will I reject evidence because it is contrary to conventional presumptions of scientists. The case “for” the reality of the UFO phenomenon is rather comprehensively summarized in The Truth, and as credible and rigorous new evidence materializes, it will be added to the site. As I discover rigorous skeptical examinations of individual documentary or historical evidence, I will include them also as part of the appropriate sections of The Truth, and/or use them to modify my own position as reflected in the narrative. Everyone will have the ability to read such perspectives and decide for themselves what is true.

The UFO phenomenon can no longer be dismissed because of an apparent incompatibility with the laws of physics, such as the speed of light limitation on interstellar travel. There are now numerous well-grounded physics papers and books in circulation that clearly point towards the ability to engineer spacetime itself, which effectively provide clear plausibility to the concept of gravitational propulsion. Take the Drake equation and combine it with technology capable of engineering gravity, and you will be left not only with the plausibility of something like the observed UFO phenomenon, but the overwhelming likelihood of it.

I am unwaveringly committed to a rigorous pursuit of the truth, wherever that may lead. This site will contain my best effort to uncover the complete and true story spanning the subjects touched upon within it. With those points as a foundation for the evolution of my book, I would like to state my own views on the question of how the authenticity of the MJ-12 materials bears on the historicity of the events they describe.

After years of analysis of previously-published MJ-12 documents (such as the work conducted by Stanton Friedman) and particularly in light of the newly released MJ-12 documents, one thing is clear to virtually all serious researchers regardless of whether they believe in the pristine authenticity of the new materials: the documents simply must have been authored by or within the military-intelligence community of a superpower. This fact alone speaks volumes when considered next to the mountain of other UFO evidence. If the documents are pristine and true, they were written by the individuals therein mentioned or their assistants. If the documents are partial or complete forgeries, then they were written by an intelligence agency of the government of either the United States or the Soviet Union. In this sense, even the serious-minded skeptics are hard pressed not to agree that they are “authentic” in terms of military-intelligence authorship. The question is, could they be authentic in military-intelligence authorship and not authentic in detail? And if so, what does that say about the most important authentication question of all: the basic history they describe?

It is almost certain that the security infrastructures created to contain the history of the crash of an extraterrestrial vehicle would ultimately wind up creating forgeries for whatever purpose. Three ulterior purposes immediately spring to mind:

(1) documents seeded with small but critical flaws, destined to one day leak and discredit their entire chains of custody and all of the surrounding research, thereby helping to seal the cover on the program,

(2) documents fabricated to mis-inform Cold War enemies or proxies thereof about the details of the events, and

(3) documents fabricated to disinform internal constituencies: competing branches of government, particularly nosy investigators, diligent reporters, or the public at large. But whether every single MJ-12 document is completely accurate in history, genuine in authorship, or pristine in generation is not the issue. It is obviously possible that an intelligence agency of either superpower fabricated one or more of the documents for one of the purposes described above, or some other purpose. However, I believe that it is exceedingly improbable that such documents were created in a vacuum – created as complete fiction, in the complete absence of an authentic phenomenon and original historical events. The mere existence of such documents as these, containing the verifiable details that they do, are powerful evidence for the reality of the basic storyline in the history they recount.

Indeed, I have personally sat across the table from top leaders of the military and of science who have confirmed the basic truth of the UFO phenomenon. Those who know me know that I would never have bet my reputation and my career without such explicit confirmation. I have nothing – nothing – to gain by lying.

For those involved in UFO research, I strongly suggest that you focus your energies on tying together the historical events and people described in the documents, rather than exclusively concentrating on the history of the pages themselves. As far as “proving” the pristine authenticity of the MJ-12 documents and their history is concerned, it is really only critical to validate any one of the principal documents. If only a single major document is validated, then MJ-12 was factual, and its confirmed existence and basic mission is to added to the already overwhelming and far more powerful testimonial evidence in favor of the reality of the UFO phenomenon. Focusing too much time on the pages themselves is a mistake, because the most compelling proof that their storyline is basically true – short of new materials or events unfolding – is bound to come in the form of corroborating historical research and witness testimony.

In the final analysis, the skeptic is charged with doing far, far more than discrediting these newly released documents through speculative criticisms based upon typographical errors or one or two seemingly anachronistic details, because the historicity of the documents is not the most important question. The most important question is the historicity of the phenomenon they describe. There is OVERWHELMING evidence that the UFO phenomenon is real. Therefore, ANY such well-crafted documents – pristine in every detail or not – argue in behalf of the reality of the UFO phenomenon. It is astronomically unlikely that the massive and generally self-consistent evidence of extraterrestrial activity over the past five decades is simply a large coincidence or the product of a several good hoaxes.

I ask the skeptic to step forward and comprehensively refute all the evidence: the millions of sightings, the thousands of reported landings, the thousands of abduction experiences, and the countless highly strange accompanying phenomena for which no one yet has a clear explanation: crop circles, cattle mutilations, etc. The refutation must take into account the following facts:

(1) compelling UFO evidence spans all nations, modern or not, regardless of whether their populations have been exposed to science fiction,

(2) the evidence spans far more than 50 years – rather it goes back thousands of years, peppered throughout the ancient books and scriptures of our ancestors, and

(3) the evidence is exactly as it should be when describing a phenomenon advanced far beyond humanity: it borders on the incomprehensible. How is a family of monkeys to interpret a Palm Pilot III? Or a Boeing 777? Or a football game? Or a scientist shooting at them with a dart to tranquilize, abduct, examine, and release them? Such a comparison is entirely fair and completely literal.

I am not aware of the existence of sufficient contrary data to refute the massive accumulation of evidence supporting the reality of the UFO phenomenon. Indeed, let me restate perhaps the only truly powerful scientific argument against its plausibility: gravitational propulsion is not possible, therefore we have not been and are not being visited by beings from other worlds. This argument is ultimately the only basis upon which the UFO phenomenon can be rejected as a whole.

Well what if it is possible to engineer gravity? 100% of the scientific presumptions against interstellar travel – and by implication extraterrestrial visitation – must immediately be extinguished if there is a single credible demonstration of practical gravity engineering. There is good evidence to believe that open science is approaching such a demonstration, and it is reported in my book.

If the hypothesis of The Truth is correct, then it is not only important, but vital at this time to step beyond our preexisting world view and expand the boundaries of our imagination. If humanity is indeed the subject of a multimillennium process of education, if not genesis itself, it is of fundamental importance that we demonstrate our ability to think, study and teach on a new level.

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Face it; it’s a Face – (The Sequel) Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA

Filed under: NASA,Science,Space,UFOs — bearmarketnews @ 11:33 am
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Face it; it’s a Face – (The Sequel)

Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA

By Mike Bara
(Special to the Enterprise Mission)

Note: This article was originally intended for inclusion in our current book “Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA” but had to be removed due to space considerations. It appears here in a modified version to accommodate Internet publication

Gee, what a surprise.

Finally, after more than 20 years of waiting, we’ve been given the first legitimate color images of Cydonia. On September 21st, 2006 the European Space Agency released the latest HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera) color imagery of the Cydonia region of Mars. Unlike their earlier release, which was taken in December 2004 under less than ideal conditions, this one came captioned and with a politicized article that emphasized the usual non-arguments against the Face on Mars.

Taken on July 22nd 2006 under much better lighting conditions and from straight overhead, these 13.7 meter per pixel images (designated 305-230906-3253-6-co1 and co2) provide the best overview yet of the area that has come to be known as the “Cydonia complex.” What they reveal is a stunning landscape that is strongly confirmative of almost all of this investigation’s previous predictions. In many ways, because they are color, these two stereo images are far better than supposedly higher resolution images generated by MGS.

In fact, what’s quite clear from examining these new images is that the previous Mars Global Surveyor images of the Face (and Cydonia) leave a lot – quite a lot – to be desired.

Let’s start with a brief review of the concept of spatial resolution in remote sensing data. Most of us assume that an image with a stated resolution of 1.2 meters per pixel is automatically “better” than an image of 13.7 mpp, such as these new Mars Express images. Most of the time, that’s true. But there is a lot more to it than that. If the 1.2 mpp image is grayscale, meaning 8-bit data, it by definition carries less information than a 16 or 32-bit color image. Further, all kinds of conditions — atmospheric haze, lighting (sun) angles,, camera settings, the optical properties of the camera, the filters being used, the incidence angle of a nadir-pointing camera — can all dramatically affect the quality of the resulting image. A good case in point would be the infamous “Catbox” image of the Face on Mars.

The example above is the so-called “TJP enhancement” of the “Catbox” image of the Face, taken in 1998. While it is unquestionably the best enhancement of this image to date, it is of very poor quality. According to the Malin Space Science Systems website, the image has a spatial resolution of 4.3 mpp, making it by far the best image of the Face to that point. However, this stated resolution only takes into account the maximum possible resolution, based on the camera optics and the altitude above the target. The image was in fact taken after the spacecraft had already passed over the Face, from a 45 degree angle to the west, and with the sun at a fairly low morning sun angle of 25 degrees above the horizon, lighting the Face from below. In addition, MSSS had stripped out at least 50% of the data by using an exceptionally large image swath (see “Honey, I shrunk the Face” 1998), and haze and cloud cover made for very poor lighting conditions. The result was an extremely dark, low contrast image which didn’t come close to the imaging capabilities of the MGS camera. Vince Dipetro, an early pioneer of Face research, concluded that with all the factors included, the effective spatial resolution of the image was 14 mpp, as opposed to the stated 4.3 or the optimum 1.2 mpp capability of the camera under ideal conditions and altitude.

By contrast, the new ESA images were taken from directly overhead, at close to minimum altitude, under full daylight conditions with virtually no cloud cover, and in 24-bit color. Beyond that, unlike any of the previous missions, the HRSC is able to take images almost side-by-side, one after the other. The results were impressive.

The two stereo images, taken just moments apart, provide the best overview of the Face and City we have received from any mission so far. Both frames capture the Face, Fort, D&M and the City in high resolution color. The first image (305-230906-3253-6-co1) provides the added bonus of capturing the Cliff in the lower portion of the frame, and a substantial amount of the anomalous “mesas” north of the Face first noted by Hoagland in Monuments. What this all amounts to is that these images are without a doubt the best wide-angle view we have ever gotten of Cydonia. So, that said, what do they tell us?

For starters, it’s immediately obvious that Cydonia is a very weird place, at least as far as any natural explanations for its formation go. Most of the familiar named objects that we have come to know look just we would expect them to. The Fort can be clearly seen to rest on a triangular platform, with a collapsed peak that must be triangular in nature, since in the Viking data it left a distinctly triangular shadow, which gave the illusion of an “inner wall” at a 60 degree angle. The Mars Express color image is by far the most detailed view of this object yet, despite the fact that the grayscale MGS image has a higher theoretical spatial resolution.

The D&M Pyramid, just a few miles south of the Face, is yet another example of this color phenomenon. While the composite MGS view shows more close-up detail, the Mars Express image shows the object in much better context, emphasizing the strange circular platform from which it rises some 2500 feet above the plain below. The Mars Express image is also dramatically better than the Mars Odyssey 2001 visual camera image, showing more detail than can be discerned in that grayscale image while losing none of the critical context.

But perhaps no member of the existing “Cydonia complex” is revealed as more alien than the curiously straight edged “Cliff.”

First noted by Hoagland back in the early days of the Cydonia investigation, the Cliff is an anomalously straight ridge seemingly perched atop the ejecta blanket of a nearby crater. It formed, along with the apex of the tetrahedral “Tholus” and the rim pyramid of the nearby crater, one of the key 19.5 alignments in Cydonia Geometric Relationship Model. The argument for its possible artificiality has always centered around the fact that it has not only a completely bizarre geomorphology (a near-perfectly straight ridge running for miles) but that it rested on a raised platform of sorts which seemed to post-date the crater impact. Later high resolution images from Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey 2001 and now Mars Express seem to support this. There is no evidence that the ejecta has spattered on top of the Cliff, and the entire mesa just seems to have been stamped on top of the ejecta flow. After more than a generation, the conclusion that this anomalously straight ridge somehow posted-dated the cratering event (which is a geological impossibility) is more than solid.

Yet another object which has been more recently revealed by this investigation is also re-imaged here. Described in the ESA article accompanying the new Cydonia images as a “skull shaped mesa,” this object just south of Face has fascinated us since it was first noted on the original “Catbox” image strip. This image showed that what appeared in the Viking data to be simply a natural mesa among the ruins of Cydonia was in fact an intriguingly symmetrical mesa.

The odd ESA description of it as “skull shaped” is attributed to the claim (by ESA) that some people have referred to it as such. In fact, we have never encountered this description in any anomaly related web article or public posting. The “mesa” in question has caught our fancy for several reasons; its significant symmetry, its proximity to a massive tetrahedral ruin noted by Hoagland in 1998, and the existence of a tunnel or channel terminating at the exact lateral center of the “mesa” in the Mars Odyssey infrared data. Our own conclusion is that the skull reference is a designed distraction, to keep readers from viewing it from a perspective that makes the symmetry obvious.

This symmetrical mesa and a series of anomalous objects north of the Face and City are excellent examples of “Fractal Erosion.” Essentially, the concept of a fractal is that a given object resembles itself at different levels of magnification. For instance, the Face on Mars still looks like a Face at both lower resolution (Viking) and higher resolution (MGS). With fractal erosion, the concept is taken a step further to predict that a given object generally erodes along the lines of its original shape. So we can reconstruct the original shape of a given object by studying how it appears today. Using this method, architect Robert Fiertek did a study of the original shape of the City at Cydonia in the early 1990’s.

We can do a similar reconstruction with various objects around Cydonia. Doing so, the “skull shaped mesa” becomes more overtly symmetrical, and the original shape of a number of objects in the north become highly geometric. This area, dubbed “Super Bowl City” by researcher Robert Harrison of the Cydonia Quest web site, was first noted by Hoagland in Monuments. It contains a wealth of geometric ruins that are nearly inexplicable by natural erosive processes. In fact, all of the “mesas” in this particular area are very unusual, but the four we have selected seem to be the most non-natural and the most consistent with the other anomalies at Cydonia.

Four especially anomalous objects north of the Face – The West Mound, and “H” shaped structure, a Rounded Mound, and a Triangular Mesa

The far left object, dubbed the “West Mound” by Harrison, is remarkably similar to other objects at Cydonia like the D&M and Main Pyramid in the City. It appears to have a degree of symmetry about a central axis that is highly unusual for any natural erosion process. Close up MGS views reveal blocky, room sized geometric patterns on its more eroded flanks, where it appears the original exterior structure has collapsed inward. Were this object part of the original “City” it would certainly have been included as a candidate for artificiality, and would certainly have passed the test upon closer inspection.

Three views of the West Mound (Harrison\Bara)

Just a short distance from the West Mound are two more objects that really defy conventional explanation. One is a bizarre “H” shaped formation.

Once again we see the unaccountable symmetry of a “mesa” in Cydonia, this time in the shape of an “H.” The Fractal reconstruction shows it was once a wedge shaped structure, probably a hollow arcology which has collapsed inward around an “H” shaped frame. The superstructure is clearly sagging and caving inward, but just as obviously it was once a far more robust and majestic building. Directly adjacent is what looks to be a bulging “bunker” with a vertical face and what could be judged as entrances. Assuming the reconstruction is valid (and it would seem to be obvious), then these two adjacent structures would easily be deemed artificial. If they appeared on images anywhere on Earth, it is doubtful that their artificiality would be at all questionable.

Just south of this complex is another object nicknamed the “Superbowl” by Bob Harrison. Rather than a bowl, the object in question is actually a rounded mound about the size of some of the pyramids in the City. In the color images, a distinct “moat” can be seem around the circumference of the mound, indicating it has sunk at least partially into the surrounding terrain.

Close-ups done by Harrison show that there are large pits or sinkholes around the base of the structure, implying that it is settling into a hollow or collapsing inward from the base into a hollowed out interior. Obviously, neither of the characteristics is consistent with a naturally eroding object, unless it is some bizarre example if volcanism which forms with air pockets inside. This notion is pretty quickly dispelled by looking at the exposed upper surfaces of the mound, which display the all-too familiar rectangular “room sized cells” where the casing structure appears to have been worn away. This is consistent with observations from the D&M and the so-called “main pyramid” in the City.

The best, however, is saved for last. Just a little further east of this collection of objects is a very strange triangular shaped “mesa” which seems to have three matching geometric nodes at each of the triangles’ three vortices. It is eroded, to be sure, but what kind of natural process erodes a simple hill into a base equilateral triangle with such overtly geometric nodes at each corner? This “mesa” is as anomalous as it gets, and for Cydonia, that’s saying something.

As we get into the details of the Triangle Mesa, there is even more strangeness. Just to the left of the northernmost node is a very odd dark feature which appears in both the December 2005 and July 2006 datasets – a distinct “T.”

This very dark marking on the structure is not only aligned perfectly north\south – as is the triangle mesa itself – but its two dark lines intersect at precisely 90 degrees. A pretty cool trick for a “naturally eroding” mesa. The more recent image suggests that this series of dark interconnected lines may demark the edges of the eroding upper node, perhaps where the base of the node has slumped inward, albeit in a very precise and geometric fashion. With its strange markings, triangular base and geometric nodes, this Triangular Arcology is more than anomalous enough to be added to the candidates list for artificiality at Cydonia.

This brings us, at last, to the Face itself.

You would think, after all the images now taken of this enigmatic object, that there would be little — if anything– new we could learn about the Face. However, despite the fact that there are now some 14 partial or complete views of the Face from 5 different missions and cameras, the mystery of the Face endures. Not only do these new HRSC color images tell us new details about the Face itself, they serve to point out the problems and issues with earlier images of the Face, even at the supposedly higher resolutions we discussed earlier.

The first thing we can note is that while the East and West sides of the Face (or “City and “Cliff” sides, as they have come to be known) are made of two distinct materials (see Keith Laney’s Cydonia IR images), their surface color is predominantly uniform. This indicates that whatever is covering most of the Cydonia region is most likely a layer of reddish dust. This also completely refutes Dr. Phillip Christensen’s assertion in July of 2003 that the Cliff side was covered with a dense snow pack, thus accounting for the dramatically anomalous reflection seen in the pre-dawn THEMIS color image from 2003 (see “The Light Finally Dawns at Cydonia” – 2003). If this dense layer of snow existed, we’d see it in the color image as a bright white casing around the base of the Face. Since this does not appear, we can safely judge that whatever caused the anomalous brightening in the THEMIS image was due to another (most likely artificial) cause, as we outlined in that article.

Another thing these images provide is confirmation of earlier observations. Secondary facial characteristics – which flatly cannot exist if the arguments for natural origin of the Face are valid – are reconfirmed in these new color images. We can plainly see the two “nostrils” in the nose, which first appeared on the infamous “Catbox” image in 1998, then seemed to disappear in the low-contrast MGS images taken from above the “forehead” of the Face in images in 2001 and later. Their reappearance is due to a simple function of spacecraft geometry; these are the first images taken from almost directly overhead, as opposed to the MGS images which were substantially uptrack from the Face’s actual latitude.

In addition, we can see the sharply defined brow ridges on both sides of the Face as well as the overall symmetry of the base platform. Indeed, the most compelling observation that Mars Express provides is that the two eye sockets precisely align straight across the Face. This is in sharp contrast to the MGS images over the last couple of years, which have shown the eye sockets to be substantially out of alignment and the Face platform to be substantially wider than it actually is.

This dramatic difference is due to two factors. First, as mentioned above, is the more directly overhead image angle taken by the Mars Express instrument. Second, the improper orthographic rectification of the Mars Global Surveyor images contributed substantially to this distortion and the overall illusion of asymmetry. In fact, the Malin ortho-rectification is so bad that it widens the base, twists the nose and pulls the Cliff side eye socket significantly below that on the City side. We can see with a side-by-side comparison just how far off the Malin version is.

However, if the Malin\NASA version is bad, then the ortho-rectification produced by SPSR’s Dr. Marc Carlotto from the 2001 MGS image is positively abysmal. It is even more stretched, distorted and un-face-like than Malins’, and it clouds the situation even further than the poor job NASA did.

No wonder nobody at NASA seems to “see” the Face the way we do.

What all this illustrates is that orthographic rectification is something of a black art, and even those who would claim to have it mastered can be exposed in the light (and color) of the day. It would seem the question of the position of the two eye sockets is forever settled, and once again the independent researchers have won the day.

None of this, however, would seem to have moved the powers that be within the mainstream astrophysics community. Case in point; the ESA.

The European Space Agency’s release of the Cydonia data was accompanied with a typically shallow and half-hearted “nay saying” article, claiming once again that there was nothing at all unusual about the Face, and that gee; it wasn’t a Face after all.

We’ve come to be used to these silly political documents accompanying new image releases from NASA, although they usually resort to far more ruthless and dishonest propaganda techniques than did the ESA (see “How to Make a Mountain Out of a MOL(a) Hill” and “Face it, it’s a Face” – 2001). The ESA article was pretty mild, obviously intended for novices and the Space.com crowd, who can be counted on to never ask a hard question of their authority figures.

Regardless, the fact remains that after thirty years of back and forth debate and discussion of the entirety of the Cydonia artificiality hypothesis between the independent researchers and the NASA\ESA establishment, the mainstream argument still comes down to the same thing it did in 1976:

“It’s not a Face.”

Or, more accurately: “It’s not a Face, in spite of the fact it rests on a bi-laterally symmetrical platform, it has two aligned eye sockets, the tip of the nose is the tallest point on the structure, there are two clearly defined nostrils in the nose, the West eye socket is shaped like a human eye including a tear duct, there is a spherical pupil in the eye, there are rectangular, cell-like structures around the eye, the two halves of the Face make up two distinct visages when mirrored, one human, one feline, it is placed nearby a series of pyramidal mountains which have rectilinear cells visible in the interiors at high-resolution, it is in close proximity to a pentagonal “mountain” which is bi-laterally symmetrical about two different axes, it has anomalous reflective properties under pre-dawn conditions, it sits atop a sheet of ice covering a vast network of underground lines and blocks that closely resemble a large city, it is surrounded by a series of tetrahedral mounds which are placed according to tetrahedral geometry, it is within shouting distance of a series of newly observed objects which include a triangular “mesa” with geometric nodes at each vertex, it…. Well, I could literally go on and on. But you get the point.

Their argument is really weak.

Perhaps that’s why, with each of these releases, they take such care to talk about the Face as if it is an isolated anomaly. It’s weird enough by itself, as we have seen. But when you start to add all the other objects into the equation, the City, the Cliff, the Tholus, the D&M, the mainstream argument – weak as it is – completely collapses.

Maybe that’s why this time, ESA, or at least HRSC principal investigator Gehard Neukeum, wasn’t quite up to the disinformational task. Maybe that’s why they needed a little help from their friends at NASA. There were issues with the images we just couldn’t ignore.

Even though they were very high quality, both of the new HRSC images were displayed in a rather bizarre manner. In almost every other case, the convention for such image releases is to display the images with North being the “up” direction, South “down,” and West and East being left and right respectively. Instead, the ESA images are displayed with North to the right, effectively altering the scientific convention and forcing anyone seeking to study the images to rotate them 90 degrees counter-clockwise to see the Face and Cydonia in their normal orientation.


This had the effect of disorienting casual readers, who either had to rotate the images in an image editor or turn their heads to “see” the Face right side up. Again, the only purpose such an annoying change in convention serves is to suppress the interest of the casual reader.

Given that, one has to question the integrity of the people putting the article together. If the mainstream argument is so strong, if the Face and other objects at Cydonia are products of “simple erosion” as Agustin Chicarro, ESA’s chief scientist for Mars Express argues, then why resort to the confusion tactics? Why force the reader to download and rotate the image just to look at it from the same perspective it has traditionally been seen in?

Really, if the process was honest, there is no reason to do so. But the inherent weakness of their arguments, and the lengths they will go to in order to preserve them, could not be more dramatically represented than in the stunning 3D perspective views generated from the new data.

The 3D views are an intended benefit of the stereo capabilities of the HRSC. Created pretty much automatically from the existence of two nearly identical datasets (images co1 and co2) these perspective views offer us the ability to “fly over” Cydonia at a resolution never imagined before. These new views have provided an invaluable look at several controversial features. The “massive tetrahedral ruin” for instance, generally dismissed by the anomalist community at large, is shown here in fine detail for really the first time. The two perspective views allow us to look inside the object and clearly discern that Hoagland’s original thesis about the object – that it used to be a full tetrahedral pyramid – is not only a valid speculation but highly probable reality.

The one surviving face of the former tetrahedron is indisputably triangular, or once was. Quite a neat trick for a product of “simple erosion.” Not only that, but the facing appears to overhang the interior support structures, as if the casing was once exactly that. There are several clearly visible structural members (girders?) in the interior of the ruin. It’s fairly easy to follow the lines and the remaining partially buried walls and reconstruct the original shape from them. Hopefully, these new perspectives will put to rest the absurd “pictograph” speculations of the SPSR crowd concerning this object.

The tetrahedral ruin close-up. Note bright structural “girders” on left side, just forward of remaining casing wall.

Two 3D perspective views of Cydonia (ESA)

These new views also offer perspectives on the many strange and wonderful features of the Cydonia plain. Truthfully, there are so many strange objects on the ground at Cydonia that it would take years for us to fully go through and analyze them each to the level they deserve.

An often overlooked (but very weird) “crater” in Cydonia

But for each new insight and discovery that this 3D process can provide, there is a countermanding dark side to it. Just as we have seen NASA do before them, the ESA has used (or rather, misused) the 3D process to misdirect its readers. Once again, the fraud has to do with the Face itself.

The authors of the ESA article realize that while there are dozens of anomalous objects at Cydonia, they have no hope of discounting all of them to readers with any common sense. As a result, they resort to the time honored canard of reducing the entire Cydonia artificiality model to a single question – that of the Face on Mars. They realize that as the first anomaly to be noted at Cydonia, the Face is the cornerstone from which the rest of hypothesis has sprung. Their thinking is that if they attack the Face relentlessly and without regard for the truth, it won’t matter how much evidence there is supporting the other objects in question.

Apparently, it is this reductionist strategy which drives them to fabricate data.

The “Elephant Man” version of the Face on Mars.

Somehow, the Face on Mars has managed to acquire a distinct lump between the eyes. Like some interplanetary Elephant Man, the Face has miraculously morphed into a grossly distorted version of itself in the new 3D perspective views. We knew immediately that the lump was a fraud, just like the Catbox, MOLA or Middle Butte Mesa NASA scams, because the Face had been imaged numerous times at sun angles and resolutions that would have revealed any such lump if it was a real feature. They had not.

At first, we were perplexed by this, because to this point in the political article ESA and Dr. Neukum had at least shown us what appeared to be honest data. But now, with this newly acquired protuberance, Neukum and ESA had gone from a fairly neutral stance to jump into the camp of the worst kind of scientific charlatanism (think Phil Plait or Richard Lies). What had suddenly happened to convince Dr. Neukum to stoop to such an obvious fabrication?

Then we saw the 3D image credits: “ESA\DLR\FU Berlin (G. Neukum), MOC (Malin Space Science Systems).”

So we had our answer. Once again “Malin happened.”

The images with the distorted hump had been generated with “help” from the boys at MSSS, the heart of darkness when it comes to Cydonia. So it then all made sense. Using Malin’s (probably deliberately) bad data as a constraint, the ESA had generated the Elephant Man version of the Face on Mars.

To his credit, on his own website, Dr. Neukum had not used the MSSS generated version but instead generated his own 3D perspective views of the Face. Not too surprisingly, they did not include the infamous “hump.”

But what (to us) is even more intriguing, is what they did include…

In Nuekum’s 3D images of the Face, certain details can be seen where none has been seen before. In all previous close-ups of the Face taken by Malin Space Science Systems, the area around the lower left (Western) “chin” and the lower left section of the base slope are mysteriously absent of any significant detail (see the “hump” image, above). This results in odd blurry areas on this part of the Face, similar to other strange blurry areas we have noted on some other images of Cydonia over the years. Histogram comparisons show that these areas contain far less detail than other portions of the images. Curiously, these blank-blurry areas seem to be quite rare in the MOC images of other parts of Mars, but appear to be quite common in the Cydonia images.

In short, I’ve never trusted them.

What Neukum’s new color images — both 2D and 3D – now convince me of is that I have been right to be suspicious all along. A side-by-side comparison of Neukum’s 2D color image and the latest “high resolution view” of the Face from JPL’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the that there is a significant discrepancy in the details of these areas of the  Face.

The Face from Mars Express (color, scaled up, right), and from MRO (scaled down left). Note that the blurry areas in the supposedly higher resolution
MRO image are less detailed than the comparable areas of the Mars Express image. (Laney Space Imaging\Bara\ESA\NASA\JPL).

In the MRO image – as with all of the NASA\JPL\MSSS images of the Face, we see these odd, cloud-like blurry areas around the South-Western portions of the Face. In the color Mars Express images (which are the only images of the Face from cameras not controlled by NASA) these areas appear much like the rest of the Face, showing fine structure and hinting at the possibility of structural details which might be seen at higher resolutions. In fact, the 3D image of this part of the Face from Nuekum’s own website shows these areas specifically, and the “cloudy bits” are nowhere to be seen…

In fact, what you do see are structural rebar, tubes, girders and the like, reaching up from the Cydonia plain to attach themselves to the base platform of the Face. The area around the chin is less distinct, but you can plainly see it is not the drab, featureless blur as it is always depicted in the NASA data.

Now, I would not begin to compare the resolution of the MRO camera to that of HRSC on the Mars Express. But isn’t it interesting that the only dataset which is not under the control of Michael Malin and his NASA\JPL buddies is so discrepant from the NASA dataset in this area? And considering that the Western half of the Face is bound to be more eroded (due to the predominantly Western winds of the region), wouldn’t this side logically be the area where the underpinnings of the Face’s internal artificial structure, if it had  them, would be most obviously exposed?

You bet it would.

So, is that why they had to produce the “Elephant Man” version of the Face, and blank out the other areas in the MRO data? Will we be forever dependent on outside sources for “real” data on Cydonia, or will NASA and JPL ever give us the clean, straight up ground truth on Cydonia? And how subject to pressure will NASA’s partners, like the ESA (who felt compelled to accompany this new image release with the usual political tripe about the Face) be?

It’s sad to have to paraphrase former Secretary of State George Shultz again, but… the “Elephant Man” doesn’t change my opinion of NASA’s integrity; it only confirms it.


Some Other Thoughts About UFOs and Aliens in Space

Filed under: Science,Space,UFOs — bearmarketnews @ 10:48 am

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

The mission of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is to promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.

UFOs and Aliens in Space


David Morrison

UFOs and Aliens in Space

Popular UFO claims include alien bases on the Moon and Mars. It is widely (but falsely) reported that Buzz Aldrin saw a UFO on the Apollo 11 flight and that NASA spacecraft discovered a humanoid face and other artifacts on Mars.

Much of the public believes that UFOs are alien spacecraft. This represents a conceptual leap from unidentified lights in the sky or radar bogies that were the UFO stories when I was growing up. Today, “believers” are talking about actual alien contact, with alien bases on the Moon and Mars, and their concerns receive reinforcement from radio, TV, and Internet blogs.

On one level UFOs are real, of course; many people occasionally see objects in the sky that are not immediately identifiable as planes, balloons, planets, stars, or unusual atmospheric phenomena. But the questions I receive from the public (submitted to a NASA Web site) suggest a belief system linking UFOs with alien visitations and abductions spiced up by “conspiracy theories” to hide this information from the public.

If UFOs are alien spacecraft visiting Earth, then it seems reasonable that evidence of alien civilizations might be seen by astronomers or the radio signals from alien spacecraft might be picked up by the sensitive receivers we use to communicate with our own spacecraft. Perhaps astronauts who venture into space would be among the first to make reliable observations of alien spacecraft or artifacts. Perhaps we should look for alien bases on other worlds. Indeed, the Internet carries many stories of such encounters. I will examine some of the evidence cited for alien presence in the solar system.

Astronaut Encounters with Aliens

One allegedly well-documented report stems from an interview in which astronaut Buzz Aldrin describes seeing a UFO during the Apollo 11 mission. In an interview on the Science Channel (left, top), Aldrin stated that he, Neil Armstrong, and Mike Collins saw unidentified objects that appeared to follow their Apollo spacecraft.

To get the story straight, I called Buzz Aldrin, who was happy to explain what happened. He said that his remarks were taken out of context to reverse his meaning. It is true that the Apollo 11 crew spotted an unidentified object moving with the spacecraft as they approached the Moon. After they verified that this mystery object was not Apollo 11’s large rocket upper stage, which was about 6,000 miles away by then, they concluded that they were seeing one of the small panels that had linked the spacecraft to the upper stage (any part of the spacecraft’s rocket upper stage will continue to move alongside the spacecraft, as both are floating in free-fall). These panels were too small to track from Earth and were relatively close to the Apollo spacecraft. Aldrin told me that they chose not to discuss this on the open communications channel since they were concerned that their comments might be misinterpreted. His entire explanation about identifying the panels was cut from the broadcast interview, giving the impression that the Apollo 11 crew had seen a UFO. Aldrin told me that he was angry about the deceptive editing and asked the Science Channel to correct the intentional twisting of his remarks, but they refused. Later, Aldrin explained what happened on CNN’s Larry King Live (left, bottom) but was nearly cut off by the host before he could finish.

With the popularity of YouTube, this same question is addressed to me repeatedly, as in: “Check out this video on YouTube with Buzz Aldrin saying he saw a UFO on Apollo 11. Who is fibbing? NASA or the great American hero, Buzz Aldrin?” My answer was that the fibbing was being done by the producers of the video, who omitted the second half of the interview.

It is instructive to watch this interview to see the ways the story is embellished and ultimately manipulated. Most of the talking is done by the interviewer and not Aldrin, but their comments have been edited to create the illusion of a seamless narrative. Throughout the interview we see a montage of short scenes from Apollo and other missions, including a blurry image through the window taken during a later flight. Only a critical viewer will distinguish what Aldrin said from the narrative by the interviewer or realize that the video clips are unrelated. The end product is clever disinformation, strongly suggesting—without explicitly lying—that Aldrin and his crewmates saw an alien spacecraft.

Many Internet claims of encounters between NASA astronauts and alien spacecraft are based on quotes from “secret communications” between flight crews and Houston. It is true that there are such private conversations, concerning crew health for example. But the Internet stories of overheard conversations are never documented and often attributed to leaks from unnamed NASA workers whose jobs (or even lives) would allegedly be at risk if they were identified. Many of these stories involve the Apollo 11 flight, and they include claims that alien spaceships accompanied the NASA craft during its Moon landing and that a row of alien spacecraft along a crater rim monitored the astronauts’ spacewalk on the lunar surface. (Incidentally, Apollo 11 landed on a flat plain where there were no hills or crater rims to provide such a viewpoint.)

To my knowledge, no NASA astronaut has ever reported seeing a UFO in space, let alone having a confrontation with aliens. However, this is not to say that no astronaut believes that alien visitations to Earth might be happening. Recently there were news reports that Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell believes in the reality of some reports of UFOs. He has attended a number of meetings of UFO believers, and he asserts that some of these reports are true, and that the U.S. government and military are aware of these alien visits. However, Mitchell does not claim to have seen aliens himself. His astronaut colleagues tell me that he has always had an interest in the occult, and he even tried to conduct a parapsychology experiment on the way to and from the Moon. It is easy for a journalist to ignore Mitchell’s caveats about most UFO reports being untrue, or about not encountering an alien himself, to give the impression that he and other astronauts have had frequent encounters with beings from other worlds.

One argument presented to me by several correspondents is that aliens must have warned humans to stay away from their bases on the Moon. Otherwise, why was the Apollo program suddenly terminated with three more missions scheduled and almost ready for launch? (The huge Apollo/Saturn-5 rockets that enthrall visitors to the NASA space parks at Canaveral, Houston, and Huntsville are not mock-ups; they are real hardware built for Apollo 18, 19, and 20.) The conspiracy story attributes our failure to follow up on the Apollo flights to this same interplanetary quarantine and suggests that NASA’s current program to return astronauts to the Moon will be cancelled for the same reason. I admit being baffled by the sudden termination of the Apollo program at the peak of its success, but I accept the official explanation that it was due to the changing political priorities of the Nixon administration, where many looked upon Apollo as a Kennedy-Johnson program.

Mars: The Viking Era

Mars plays a unique role in public consciousness. Just a century ago, this planet was widely thought to be inhabited by intelligent creatures, largely due to astronomical studies and the popular writing of Percival Lowell. The classic science-fiction novel War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells reinforced public curiosity about the possibility of aliens on Mars. But early space missions that showed decisively that Mars was not really very Earth-like—with no canals and an atmosphere only 1 percent the size of ours—damped much of the public’s fascination. Scientific interest has steadily increased, however, and Mars is the planet most visited by spacecraft. The first stage of scientific exploration climaxed in 1976 with two identical Mars landers and orbiters as part of the Viking program. All four Viking spacecraft were fabulously successful, providing a comprehensive survey of the planet together with detailed analysis at two landing sites, including clever experiments to search for evidence of microbial life.

After two decades of post-Viking neglect, NASA initiated a new series of Mars missions with the 1996 Mars Pathfinder, which included a rover about the size of a microwave oven. After two mission failures in 1998, several remarkably successful orbiters and the two famous Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, followed. In addition to high-resolution orbiting cameras, there is also a digital, global topographic map based on laser ranging between the orbiter and the surface. As a result, we have more detailed and quantitative data on martian topography than we do for much of the Earth’s surface.

Naturally, the tens of thousands of high-resolution photos from orbit and on the ground (all publicly available) have been studied for evidence of life and any potential artifacts of a possible ancient civilization. In this respect, the most famous discovery was made by Viking Orbiter 1 in 1977, in a low-resolution (about 40 meters) photo of the ancient Cydonia region of Mars. In the midst of a heavily eroded plain with irregular low mountains or mesas is the Face on Mars, one of the iconic images of the space program.

The Face on Mars, seen under oblique lighting, seems to be an oval humanoid face with eyes, nose, and a mouth. It is about one kilometer across and surrounded by a sort of halo that reminds some of the cloth headpiece worn by Egyptian pharaohs. It was spotted by Viking scientist Toby Owen and released to the press as a joke to show how even on Mars we (humans) could find features that looked vaguely like ourselves. Unfortunately, Viking project scientist Jerry Soffen made an offhand remark to the press that this “face” showed up only under this particular lighting and not in other photos of the same site. The problem was that Viking had not taken other photos of this spot at equal or higher resolution, and the mission ended before this area could be mapped again. Thus began another conspiracy theory: NASA was suppressing confirming photos of the face. When the next NASA mission to photograph Mars (Mars Observer) failed in 1992 shortly before its arrival at the Red Planet, the story began to circulate that this failure was faked and the spacecraft was really in orbit and sending back secret high-resolution images of the face.

The Face on Mars has been vigorously promoted by one energetic entrepreneur: Richard C. Hoagland. A young freelance journalist and one-time museum guide, Hoagland was a part of the large corps of journalists who encamped at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the Viking landings. Hoagland not only accepted the artificial origin of the face, he went on to develop a detailed “theory” that linked this feature with a number of others in Cydonia that he also interpreted as artificial. These included a set of intersecting low ridges that he called the “city” and several mountains of roughly pyramid shape. (Pyramid-shaped peaks with three or four sides are a rather common product of both ice and wind erosion on Earth.)

As improving technology allowed for higher photo resolution, the “face on Mars” looked less like a face and more like the natural landform it is.

Hoagland set out to study the geometry of this layout, finding coincidences in the angles between the features that further demonstrated (to him) their artificial origin. He published the results from his “research” in a 350-page book called The Monuments of Mars (now in its fifth edition). He also undertook a lecture circuit that climaxed when a naïve public affairs officer at NASA Glenn (then Lewis) Research Center in Cleveland invited him to present a director’s seminar and then offered to put a videotape of this talk on the NASA TV channel. Hoagland also began making regular appearances on Art Bell’s late-night talk show Coast to Coast AM, where he still happily holds forth on the conspiracies of NASA and the U.S. government to keep the truth from the public.

Hoagland’s elaborate interpretation of the “monuments” on Mars represents an amazing flight of imagination. Since the features are in a state of ruin, he concludes that the aliens who built them are no longer present and dates the construction of these huge projects to about half a million years ago. Since the face is (in his opinion) clearly human and directed upward (best seen from above), he concludes that it was built as a message for Homo sapiens, a species that was just emerging on Earth at the time. The story then bifurcates: either these aliens were also visiting Earth at the time and knew about the future rise of humans (analogous to the opening sequences in the book and film 2001, A Space Odyssey), or the monuments themselves were built by an earlier race of humans that had moved from Earth to Mars and left no traces of their tenure on our planet. Yet another option is that Homo sapiens had a martian origin, migrating to Earth when their own planet became uninhabitable (a conclusion that flies in the face of all modern genetic analysis of humans and their primate cousins).

Hoagland’s analysis of the geometric patterns of the alleged monuments convinced him that the entire layout in Cydonia was a technical message to humans, one that included the key to a limitless source of energy. Apparently he has deciphered the message but is not revealing it just yet, other than to say that this energy could be tapped only at latitude 19.5 degrees (north or south) on the Sun as well as Earth and Mars. More recently, Hoagland linked the monuments on Mars with the crop circles appearing on Earth, which also allegedly held the key to unlimited energy, implying that the creators of the city on Mars were also active today on Earth. The fact that Hoagland was able to peddle this bizarre fairy tale for two decades and make a living selling books and videotapes is a testament to his ability as a salesman, if not to his unscientific acumen.

The two-decade post-Viking hiatus from Mars provided plenty of time for Hoagland to market his fantasy. The 1992 failure of Mars Observer, far from ending this story, was twisted by Hoagland into an additional conspiracy theory. The day the failure was announced, a group of his followers demonstrated outside the JPL gates to protest the blanket of secrecy they claimed had been thrown over this mission whose real purpose was to allegedly study the face. In the late 1990s, one of the two most frequently asked questions in letters and emails received by NASA concerned the Face on Mars (the other topic was asteroid impacts).

New Results from Mars

In 1998, a much-improved camera arrived at Mars on the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. A vocal segment of the public demanded that NASA give high priority to re-photographing the face. NASA wisely argued that this was not a high-priority target but quietly obtained a high-resolution image of the face as soon as the spacecraft orbit permitted it. On April 5, 1998, when the Mars Global Surveyor flew over Cydonia for the first time, Michael Malin and his Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team snapped a picture ten times sharper than the original Viking photos, revealing a natural landform. However, the new lighting was very different from that of the original Viking photo, and some face proponents refused to believe that this was really the same feature. On April 8, 2001, the MOC captured a photo using the camera’s maximum resolution, better than two meters, which was twenty times higher than the Viking original. This spacecraft also carried another instrument, a laser ranging device, which gradually built up an extremely detailed quantitative topographic map of Mars that did not depend on lighting angles. With these data, it was possible to reconstruct exactly how the mesa would look from any direction. Many details of this story are recounted in the article “Unmasking the Face on Mars”.

Additional images with even higher resolution were obtained in 2007 by the University of Arizona HiRISE camera on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. With a resolution of 25 cm, these photos showed features as small as a briefcase. Such data eventually convinced almost everyone that the face was simply a mesa surrounded by an apron of eroded debris. NASA’s chief Mars scientist, Jim Garvin, even jokingly plotted a hiking trail that ascended the rugged hill. However, as the true nature of this eroded mesa became undeniable, the suggestion was made that the face had been intentionally destroyed by NASA: the clandestine mission of Mars Observer had been to first photograph the feature in detail, then deface it with a well-aimed nuclear missile.

Meanwhile, Richard Hoagland was moving on and generating new claims, some even more bizarre than those associated with the face. The Wikipedia article on Hoagland mentions his assertions that “Rocks on Mars containing biological fossils were purposely destroyed by NASA’s rover Opportunity. Numerous objects surrounding the landing sites of the Mars Exploration Rovers are in fact pieces of martian machinery. There are large semitransparent structures constructed of glass on the lunar surface, visible in some Apollo photography. There is a clandestine space program, using antigravity technology reverse-engineered from lunar artifacts and communicated by secret societies. Federal agencies such as FEMA and NASA are linked to Freemasonry.”

Hoagland held a press conference at the National Press Club on October 30, 2007, to “review NASA’s 50 years of cover-ups and hidden solar system data.” His accusations against NASA appeared in more detail in his book with Mike Bara, Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA. He was also by then in his crop circle phase, promoting new sources of energy revealed to him in the crop circles. And he is still a regular guest on Coast to Coast AM, where he has the title of science advisor.

Humans have a natural tendency to see anthropomorphic features in natural shapes such as clouds and mountains. As thousands of new photos of the martian surface were streaming back from the rovers, some of these tendencies were bound to pop up. One of the funniest is an image of a tiny eroded rock only a few centimeters long that looks rather like the famous “little mermaid” statue in Copenhagen Harbor. This too has been hailed as a real photo of a Martian. The continuing torrent of spacecraft images from current missions to Saturn and Mercury as well as Mars will probably generate new advocates for aliens in space. Fortunately, the vast majority of people are happy to accept these images as wonderful products of our space age exploration of the solar system and not as a new episode in the great alien cover-up.

David Morrison

David Morrison's photo

Dr. David Morrison is the Senior Scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute. His primary interests are the new multidisciplinary science of astrobiology, the protection of Earth from asteroid impacts, and science outreach and education. Dr. David Morrison is the Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute and Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at the NASA Ames Research Center. He is also the Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View CA. Dr. Morrison is internationally known for his research on small bodies in the solar system, and has more than 155 technical papers and has published a dozen books, including five university-level textbooks and several popular trade books on space science topics. In 2005 he received the Carl Sagan medal of the American Astronomical Society for communicating science to the public. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Asteroid 2410 Morrison is named in his honor.

UFO Logical Fallacies, Wishful Thinking or…

Filed under: Logic,Science,UFOs — bearmarketnews @ 9:54 am

Some UFO Logical Fallacies

Published by Steven Novella under Uncategorized

Reader “Gimble” left a comment on an old post of mine that was full of typical anti-skeptical logical fallacies so I thought I would have some fun taking it apart. The entry is on UFOs and the Argument from Ignorance. He begins:

It’s difficult to take your article seriously when it is chock full of unoriginal and regurgitated errors.

1. “There isn’t one unambiguous photograph or video that holds up to scientific scrutiny”.

What is your source on this? There are many photographs and videos that show no sign of tampering or fraud. What sort of “scientific scrutiny” would you require for a photo to be genuine? If it wasn’t proven to be digitally altered, you would claim it was a model or an item thrown into the air. In short, there is no photo in the world that cannot be debunked, but your statement that no unambiguous photo or video holds up to scientific scrutiny is blatantly false (what you are really saying is “if it is a photo of a flying saucer, then by definition it is a fraud”).

No, that is not what I am saying at all. Gimble here is trying to shift the burden of proof – make it my job to prove a negative, the absence of compelling evidence. Rather, if Gimble wishes to claim that there is an unambiguous photograph or other piece of evidence that has survived careful scrutiny – name it.  He didn’t, he just vaguely claims that they exist.

He is also trying the circular reasoning gambit – claiming that I and skeptics declare a-priori that any photo of a flying saucer must by definition be fake, therefore there are no legitimate photos. This is a straw man, we do no such thing.

I will happily expand upon my criteria for an unambiguous and genuine photo. Regarding the genuine criterion, Gimble only mentions ruling out digital manipulation.  This is necessary, but insufficient. The raw files if digital, or the original negatives if traditional photography was used, are also necessary. A second hand photo is not sufficient. Further, to be compelling a series of photos is helpful, since it is more difficult to fake a series than one photo. For video, the original film in its entirely is needed. Selected clips can cherry pick and eliminate any “gotchas” or obvious signs of fakery.

For either photos or video, I also want to know the history – who took the pictures, where, and when. Anonymous material immediately loses credibility.

But also the photos must be unambiguous as to their content.  This means that a blob of light or a fuzzy disc or metal glint is not compelling. I want to see a spaceship – a picture of something that can be nothing else. If the picture can be explained by a model that someone tossed into the air, then there is no reason to reject that as a possible explanation. A piece of something demonstrably alien would also be compelling.

To clarify what I meant by the claim that there are no such pieces of evidence – I have never seen any, despite being interested in UFOs for my entire life and looking deeply at the claims. Also for the last 13 years I have been an activist skeptic and I have challenged many many UFO believers to show me their best evidence, or point me in the direction of the compelling piece of evidence – and no one ever has. These days with the internet and Youtube, if there were truly compelling evidence I would think that I would have seen it hundreds of times online.

I think it is self evident that there is no piece of verified and unambiguous evidence for visiting alien spacecraft known to the public. There tons of poor quality or ambiguous evidence, but nothing compelling. If anyone thinks there is – show me and I will happily revise my opinion.

He continues:

2. “not one piece of physical evidence. No smoking saucer.”

Aliens do not hand out trinkets, that’s true, and neither do they sit in for book signings. Some phenomenon are not given to tangible “in my hands” evidence (although there is loads of trace evidence). Show me your physcial evidence for a supernova and I’ll show you mine for a flying saucer. I’ve got multiple and independent eyewitness testimony (in the millions) spanning several decades across the globe with trace evidence and excellent photos to boot. No evidence? I think not.

How ironic that Gimble accuses me of being unoriginal. Here he is using the “ten foot stack” gambit. He thinks that if he piles up cowdung high enough it will turn into gold – but large amounts of poor quality evidence do not equal high quality evidence.

Notice here also that he is employing a bit of the kettle defense – simultaneously using mutually incompatible arguments. Above he says that there is high quality evidence. Now he is saying that even if there isn’t, there is tons of low quality evidence. If he is being honest in point number 2, he should have conceded point number 1.

He combines this, as usual, with the “aliens don’t hand out trinkets” gambit. In other words – “it is the nature of my mysterious phenomenon that it defies traditional scientific evidence, therefore I am relieved of the responsibility for supplying traditional scientific evidence – but here is a ton of low quality unscientific evidence.” File this under special pleading (the logical fallacies are piling up).

It may be true that a real phenomenon defies scientific evidence – but then we cannot conclude that it is true, only unknown. Of course, we can invent an infinite number of special cases of things that can be real but unverifiable.

Oh – and evidence for supernova? Please. There are multiple independent lines of verifiable and reproducible evidence for supernova. Just type “supernova” and “evidence” into Google and see what you get.  We can see the light and the gamma rays from supernova. Our models of supernova make predictions we can test with further observations. The light from supernova reflect off of distant gas clouds, and we can see those reflections. There’s no comparison.

3. “In 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold started the modern flying saucer craze when he reported seeing several UFOs. He described them as boomerang-shaped, but also noted that they were hopping, like a saucer skipping on the water”

Wrong. Kenneth Arnold described only ONE of the craft as crescent-shaped with a hole in the middle. Listen to his own words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zossm96Jb0

But it’s immaterial to your (lifted) argument anyway. The sightings of “saucers” and “disks” after Arnold’s sightings came in a variety of forms, and even the popular “flying saucer” that comes to mind cannot adequately be described as a “plate” – it looks more like a tophat or a football. I’ve yet to read about a flying “plate”, which is what people would have reported if they took the term “saucer” literally as you claim and were simply lying about their reports.

This is the strategy of raising trivial and unimportant objections that do not address the actual point. Whether or not Arnold described one or all the object as boomerang shaped is not important. It is important that his sightings did not comport with the later traditional image of a “flying saucer” and that the term “flying saucer” was coined by a reporter who keyed in on one word Arnold used – to describe how the objects moved, not their shape.

Gimble’s next point is just silly – if people took the “flying saucer” description literally they would have described plate – shaped ships? What? These are ships, so apparently they have to have an interior. There is also a bias toward aerodynamic shapes when thinking of ships. Further, I never argued that the shape was taken literally from the description.

My point, actually, is that the notion of a flying saucer and the accompanying shape that the term evokes is a cultural construct.  It was certainly inspired by the term “flying saucer” but also had other cultural influences. It is also not surprising that at the beginning the modern UFO craze there were many types of reports, but that eventually they settled upon the standard type. The same exact thing is true of aliens themselves. Initially there were dozens of varying descriptions, but the little gray aliens emerged as the standard type, then that became what everyone was reporting. That is culture at work – which was my point.

Also, Gimble makes the very common strawman argument that I am claiming all eyewitnesses are lying about their reports. I was very specific in saying that it was suggestibility that led to the commonality of reports. Deliberate hoaxing is probably a small component of the UFO phenomenon. Most of it is wishful thinking, perceptual illusion, and sloppy thinking.

His next claim is priceless.

4. “Venus may also sport a halo, giving it an even more unusual appearance. (This is likely the source of President Jimmy Carter’s UFO sighting.)”

Wrong. Venus was the bogus debunking nonsense of Robert Sheaffer from Humanist magazine, but Carter described the UFO as at times being as “big as the moon” in his official report. (When is Venus ever as large as the moon?)http://www.ufoevidence.org/Cases/CaseSubarticle.asp?ID=297

When is Venus ever as large as the moon? When it is sporting a halo. Gimble obviously did not read the very sentence he quotes.  Nor does he have the patience or Google chops, apparently, to punch “Venus halo” into the search window. The third hit is this: a picture of Venus with a halo and the moon in the same shot. Gee – venus with a halo is just about the same size as the moon. Go figure.

5. “Proponents of the “extra-terrestrial hypothesis” (ETH) often point out that there is a residue of unexplained sightings, occurrences that can only be due to real flying saucers.”

They CAN only be flying saucers when that is what is observed ha. And they have been seen up-close many many times. Check out this National Press Club transcript for credible sightings from an ex-governor, pilots, military officers, a division chief for the FAA, and other highly credible witnesses of close encounters of the second kind: http://www.ufo-blog.com/pdf/npc_witness_testimony.pdf

The first sentence is a tautology – he is assuming his conclusion. The whole point is that we do not know what eyewitnesses saw, and neither do they. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable – there are numerous visual illusions at play. Separate objects may be perceived as one large object. Objects in the sky, without clear reference, can appear to be far away and large when they are in fact close up and small. People are suggestible, and will also happily fill in missing details according to their assumptions. And – people lie.

I know there are witnesses who claim to have seen flying saucers. My point is that such reports are compatible with the “psychocultural hypothesis” – we would have them even if UFOs were purely a cultural and psychological phenomenon. Without corroborating evidence, there is no more reason to believe in aliens than ghosts, bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, fairies, or any of the other myriad things people seen.

Gimble also makes an argument from authority – saying that pilots and politicians have also been eyewitnesses. But pilots are subject to the same illusions and biases as everyone else. Noone is immune to the foibles of human neurology.

And, I might point out, that Gimble did not address my actual point – unexplained is unexplained, not alien spacecraft.

6. “Sometimes people do report details, like windows or fins. They also report objects moving at fantastic speeds or carrying out seemingly impossible maneuvers. However, when viewing an object against the sky, without a clear background for reference, it is impossible to estimate size, distance, and speed, and we are subject to optical illusions. Such details are therefore not reliable, and there are numerous cases when they are demonstrably wrong.”

This makes no sense. If a person says “I saw a metallic object fly away at impossible speeds”, then that is what they saw. If they say, “I’m not sure what it was, but it flashed and bobbed in the air and seemed to move oddly”, then THAT is what they saw. The former is a definite sighting of a UFO, the latter is just an “unknown”. People report sighting UFOs all the time in unequivocal terms and they are not “unknowns” as if ambiguous or uncertain as to observation just because they are listed under the category of “unknown” on paper. People see flying saucers, not optical illusions.

Here’s a free tip – if you want to have a shred of credibility, you should acknowledge legitimate points on the other side. Gimble and other UFO apologists should just admit that eyewitnesses are unreliable. Afterall, there is a mountain of psychology research to support this conclusion. It is profoundly naive to claim that if someone says they saw a spaceship, we can confidently conclude that they saw a spaceship.

People are suggestible. Memory is malleable. Perception is highly flawed. And people are emotional, not rational, creatures.

If someone claims they saw a metallic object fly away at incredible speeds – they may have been looking at a shiny (not metallic) small object moving away at slow speeds, but their brain contructed the ambiguous visual simuli incorrectly – that is the definition of an optical illusion. This is a known and common phenomenon. Alien spacecraft are not. See – Occam’s Razor.

7. “Air Force pilots mistake common objects for UFOs all the time.”

Bologna. What is your source on this? Pilots may from time to time wonder if some distant object is a UFO, but they are not certain of it unless they are close enough to observe it (and often they are and do).

Project Blue Book was able to identify 95% of reported UFO sightings as mundane objects or events.  Many of those reports came from pilots. There are also many case reports of pilots reporting UFOs that were later identified as definitely or probably an astronomical phenomenon. Here is a good report of many such cases.

8. “But curiosity must be coupled with intellectual discipline.”

You are under the false impression that most witnesses jump to the conclusion that an unknown object in the sky is a flying saucer. This is not true. J. Allen Hynek coined a term for how witnesses behave when they see a UFO – “escalation of hypotheses”. The first thing they do is try to rationalize their experience – “maybe it’s a bird? no can’t be that… maybe a plane? a meteorite?” and so on. Despite the claims of snobbery debunkers, most people do not in fact “try” to see UFOs – they do the opposite! and only reach that conclusion when other explanations have failed.

I don’t think we can easily generalize to what “most people” do. It’s likely that there is a range of reactions to an unusual sighting. But even if I grant that most people will consider likely explanations first, that is not in contradiction to what I am saying. I never claimed that they fail to consider any alternatives – but rather they they settle prematurely onto flying saucers as a likely explanation. In most cases the only logically justified conclusion is unknown, not flying saucer. That was, in fact, the central theme of my original post.

I have personally had many encounters with eyewitnesses who, excited by the possibility of something cool or mysterious, will reject a few token mundane explanations, and then (very prematurely) conclude that the object must have either been alien or something equally fantastical.

9. “We should be aware of the limitations of our own observations and memory, the human tendency toward suggestibility and wishful thinking, and the dictates of logic.”

Then why are you not doing so? Wishful thinking is putting your fingers in your ears and saying “the world must make sense to me; there cannot be flying saucers; aliens must behave the way I think they should; the world must make sense to me”. By discounting the volumes of evidence over 6 decades, debunkers do indeed show a high proclivity for suggestibility – namely that they will pull arguments from a common pool of tossed-about non-facts instead of actually doing some independent reading on their own. For REAL skeptics, I suggest reading one of these books from researchers who have actually talked to witnesses, rather than some doofus who has no idea what he’s talking about:

That is the typical UFO believer (even generalizable to paranormal believer) straw man about skeptics – that we are deniers who do not want to confront evidence that will shake our fragile world view. Strawman argument are worthless – if you want to understand and confront the position of skeptics you have to read what they actually write and address their actual points.

I never said that aliens are impossible. Nor have I ever said that aliens must be completely comprehensible. Ironically, it is the skeptics who are arguing, as I was in my original piece, that sometimes we just don’t have enough evidence to know what a sighting was.

I think it is likely that there is life elsewhere in the universe and that some of that life is intelligent and even technological. I have no idea how common or uncommon technological civilizations are – no one does.  I also don’t know if advanced technology will ever render interstellar travel practical, or if there are fundamental limitations in the laws of physics that will make it forever impractical.

If a benign advanced alien race visited the earth that would be incredibly awesome. It would answer many burning questions. I would love just to see what an alien intelligence might be like.

My position, as I have made clear, is that taken as a whole the evidence is far more compatible with the psychocultural hypothesis than the extraterrestrial hypothesis, and there is no single piece of evidence that demands the ETH. But I am happy to be proven wrong – just show me the evidence.

Gimble, although I am picking on him because he decided to leave a comment on my blog, presents views that are typical of the core UFO community. I have heard them all many times before. UFO believers attack straw men, completely mischaracterize the position of UFO skeptics, fail to address the skeptical position, and find many ways to argue that their low quality evidence should be taken more seriously.

What they never ever do, however, is refute my claims that compelling evidence does not exist by simply providing such evidence.

I am still waiting.

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