³ ³ ³ ³ ΙΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝ» Ί T R U S T N O O N E Ί ΘΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΝΌ ³ ³ ³ ³ /\ +--+ +----+ / \ //======// ===\\ / \ // // \\ / \ //====// ==\\ +------------+ /// \\======================================/// \\====================================/// Things to beware of in 1997: Israel. In the aftermath of a major disastor on the European continent Israel may no longer feel constrained to flex its might. ------------------------------------------------------------------- UFOs: Some Context for the Discussion (c) 1995 by Barton Paul Levenson INTRODUCTION Theories of the nature of UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) seem to fall into seven main groups: I. *UFOs are known natural or artificial phenomena.* These include, but are not limited to, airplanes, weather balloons, human-launched satellites and spacecraft, sundogs (reflections of the Sun on cloud formations), ball lightning, the stars Sirius and Procyon, and the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Cases of these being mistaken for more unusual phenomena are widely documented and have occurred repeatedly. II. *UFOs are a previously unknown natural phenomenon.* The physicist Phillip Klass has suggested that some UFOs are a plasma phenomenon similar to ball lightning and associated with high-voltage power lines. III. *UFOs area previously unknown artificial human phenomenon.* E.g., classified aircraft tests. IV. *UFOs are a phenomenon of mass psychopathology.* Technically this could be grouped with Theory II, but it might be useful to distinguish psychological explanations from physical ones. V. *UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft.* The term "flying saucer" became widespread after private pilot Keith Arnold followed nine apparently saucer-shaped aircraft for some distance over North America in 1947. An entire subculture arose around this belief in the industrialized world. After a series of egregious hoaxes, some writers in this field tried to create a more mainstream part of that subculture by centering the discussion on "UFOs" in their original meaning. UFOs as ET spacecraft were investigated by the Air Force during the 1960s (Project Blue Book). Some 90% of reports investigated were explainable under Theory I. The rest could not be explained, usually due to insufficient available data, but none were unambiguously ET spacecraft. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, professor of astronomy at Northwestern University, spent considerable time during the 1960s, '70s and '80s investigating Theory V. He is responsible for the breakdown of incidents into close encounteres of the first, second and third kind, corresponding to sighting, physical evidence and contact, respectively. No unambiguous evidence was ever produced. VI. *UFOs are advanced vehicles from a non-human terrestrial civilization.* Candidates for the home site of the vehicles include a "parallel" or alternate-history Universe, an unconventional habitat such as a layer in the atmosphere (cf. Robert A. Heinlein's short story, "Goldfish Bowl") or a volume inside the Earth. VII. *UFOs are spiritual phenomena.* This could be broken down into: VIIa. *UFOs are an angelic manifestation.* This would be appropriate to Islamic or Judaeo-Christian worldviews. VIIb. *UFOs are a demonic manifestation.* This might also be believed under the above worldviews. VIIc. *UFOs are a spirit manifestation that is not clearly either good or evil.* This might be appropriate to Hindu, Buddhist, animist or "neo-Pagan" worldviews, and also under some early monotheistic theories. (Some medieval Christians, for example, believed in "airish men" without believing them to be either angels or devils, but such a belief might be more appropriately listed under Theory VI.) It should be noted that none of these theories would be acceptable to an atheist or other mechanistic worldview. It is also possible that some Saucers or Local Saucers (see below) are unacceptable to those with certain religious worldviews; I have heard at least one fundamentalist dismiss the concept of extraterrestrial life altogether on religious grounds. I can only say that while I, a born-again Christian, favor Theory I, I certainly believe extraterrestrial life is possible and would have no religious problem with flying saucers, though at present I disbelieve in them for other reasons. These theories might facetiously be referred to by the following shorthand: THEORY NAME I Known natural or artificial phenomena Sundogs II Previously unknown natural phenomena Plasma III Previously unknown artificial phenomena Flying Wings IV Mass hysteria or memory repression Hill Syndrome V Extraterrestrial spacecraft Saucers VI Nonhuman terrestrial vehicles Local Saucers VII Spiritual manifestations Spirits None of these names is meant to denigrate the beliefs involved. They are simply a catchy shorthand which allows quick recognition of which theory is being discussed. The Plasma and Flying Wings theories cannot be tested without further research of some kind. The Plasma theory could be tested if UFO-like phenomena can be generated in the laboratory. The Flying Wings theory could be tested if the government (not necessarily ours!) decidedto search the appropriate records and release details of any flying-saucer-like craft tested since the '40s. It would be unprofitable to discuss either without further data. The Local Saucers theory is also hard to verify, and for the same reason as the better known Saucers theory -- you have to have the saucers under examination, or be able to talk to their pilots, to find out where they came from. "First get the letter, then check the return address." For the moment, Local Saucers will be considered a mere auxiliary to the Saucers theory. It might be right, but we can't distinguish ETs from hollow-Earth or 19th-dimension people without further data. That leaves Sundogs, Hill Syndrome, Saucers and Spirits. We already know the Sundogs theory is usually true. Even strong believers in the Saucers theory will readily concede that *most* UFO reports are due to mistaken observation or hoax. The question is whether the small residuum of unsolved cases can be explained the same way, or whether they would be better explained as Hill Syndrome, Saucers or Spirits. SUNDOGS A great deal of UFO literature makes much of the fact that UFOs have been seen by sober, competent observers -- airline pilots, police officers; in general, people with no reason to lie. This might impress the public, but a criminal lawyer would smile. Eyewitness evidence is the most notoriously unreliable evidence there is. Jake Ehrlich describes a typical event in a law class -- a man in Tyrolean gear suddenly opens the door and cries, "Federal Herring! You stole my marks!" He levels a carrot at a front-row student, a pop is heard in the hall, and the student falls. Stretcher-bearers come in and carry him out. "Now I want you to put down everything you saw in the order it happened," says the professor. "Don't make anything up, but don't leve [sorry, leave] anything out." The descriptions supplied by the classroom full of would-be lawyers are wildly inaccurate. The assailant's words are reported as "You are a Marxist and are working to destroy our republic." The decedent is described as a white male in nondescript street clothes -- in face he was a black male in ROTC uniform. The carrot becomes a .45 Mauser, a .38 snub-nose, a nickel-plated automatic. The descriptions, in short, are worthless. The fact is that people see what they expect to see, and when they see something else, they get a blur. But the mind *confabulates:* it provides plausible filler to complete the picture. This is a survival trait. Our ancestors had to guess, on inadequate data, whether the thing making the brush quiver was a predator or only a harmless deer. The students were not trying to hoax anyone, and they were sober, intelligent, *motivated* people trying to impress their professor with the accuracy and detail of their observations. We see what we think we see. In short, the fact that someone is sober and competent means nothing. Unless one is specifically trained to make a particular type of observation, one is not a good witness, and that's that. Why did an Air Force pilot die chasing a UFO in 1949? Probably because he was chasing a sundog, not a UFO. Why did Flight 19 disappear on a clear day in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945? First of all, it wasn't in the Bermuda Triangle. Second, it was cloudy and raining. Third, they disappeared because the instructor -- the most competent one of the group -- got turned around and his trainees automatically followed him away from the North Carolina coast until they ran out of fuel, crashed and drowned. It wasn't mysterious, just miserable and tragic. Of course, the fact that one mysterious incident is debunked does not debunk the main question. There are incidents on record that cannot be explained away. What of them? THE HILL SYNDROME In 1963, a New Hampshire couple, Betty and Barney Hill, began going to a psychiatrist to resolve a series of troubling dreams and anxiety so extreme as to cause ulcers in Barney's case. Under hypnosis, they remembered that on a trip home from Canada in 1961, they were intercepted by a flying saucer and subjected to an uncomfortable physical exam by short, humanoid aliens. Accounts of their hypnosis sessions were published by UFO enthusiast John G. Fuller in 1966, and the case was reexamined by Dr. Hynek (see above) in 1972. From 1968 to 1973, Marjory Fish, an Ohio teacher and amateur astronomer, tried to match a star map Betty Hill had drawn from memory (seen in the saucer) to data on local stars. She came out in the mid '70s with the statement that the Hill saucer had come from the Zeta Reticuli system. I was working on the astronomy of habitable planets at the time, including making a list of nearby stars likely to have habitable planets. Zeta Reticuli, a widely-separated binary with main-sequence G1 and G2 components, was at the top of my list. There was considerable excitement about Fish's star map at the time. A favorable article was published in a 1976 issue of *Astronomy,* a semi-popular journal aimed mostly at amateur astronomers. But on reexamination, the map's validity seemed questionable. Betty Hill had originally matched it to a map of bright red giants and radio sources in the constellation Pegasus in a 1965 New York Times. Fish matched it to local, single, main-sequence stars of types F, G and K (i.e., those most likely to have habitable planets). Charles W. Atterberg in Illinois matched it to local sunlike stars and red dwarfs. Carl Sagan and a graduate student of his named Steven Soter evaluated the various maps and found it statistically unlikely that they actually meant anything, and there was a heated, if polite, exchange between pro- and con-Hill-map forces in the pages of *Astronomy.* For my own part, I am no longer impressed with Fish's map, though I certainly respect the work that went into compiling it (building a scale model of local space with strung beads for stars, etc.). However, a great number of similar stories have received publicity recently. Many couples and individuals have gone public with their stories of abduction and analysis by extraterrestrials. This phenomenon comes at the same time that the phenomenon of "repressed memory" in general is under scrutiny, because a number of people, under hypnosis, claim to have been sexually abused as children. This has led to law suits and criminal charges. It is crucial to establish whether repressed memory is valid or not. If valid, it may mean the extent of childhood sexual abuse is greater than previously realized. If invalid, it may point to another abuse -- of patients and their parents by therapists pursuing their own ideology, if not their own pathology. Consider that Betty and Barney Hill were an interracial couple. Consider that Betty was a social worker and Barney served on the New Hampshire Civil Rights Commission. Consider, also, that although 1961 sounds comfortably recent for worries about race prejudice, it was three years *before* the murder of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner at the height of the civil rights movement. Consider that Mississippi's law against "miscegenation" was not repealed until 1967. Yes, one might say, but the Hills lived in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is free of race prejudice. But if so, why did they need a civil rights commission? Is it possible that the Hills were intercepted and abused on September 19th, 1961, but that it was by humans and not extraterrestrials? Is it possible that the abuse was bad enough to make it preferable to remember aliens and not, say, the Ku Kux Klan? "He's a Nazi," breathes a terrified Barney Hill under hypnosis. Add to this that Benjamin Simon, the psychiatrist who conducted the hypnosis sessions, never believed the Hills had been abducted by aliens. A recent TV tabloid episode on repressed memories of alien abductions showed a simulation of what one man remembered from a recent camping trip. He was naked, he said, and his friends were naked, and someone was doing something to him, and he wondered why the others weren't helping him. This may sound like alien abduction to some. To me it sounds like a distorted memory of childhood sexual abuse. SAUCERS I know of no good evidence that UFOs are flying saucers. I have read terribly suggestive stories, however. The following tales, somewhat abridged, are from the BOOK OF LISTS (Wallechinsky et al. 1977, pp. 440-442): # *In August, 1887, two children with bright green skin and slanted eyes came out of a Spanish cave. They wore clothes made of a strange material, and spoke a language which experts from Barcelona were unable to identify. The boy died. The girl learned to speak Spanish, and said she had been transported to the cave by a whirlwind which had carried her off from a country which was always in twilight.* # *During 1897... On April 9th, Alexander Hamilton, a Kansas farmer, saw a 300-ft. cigar-shaped airship hovering over his cow pasture at a height of about 30 ft. The carriage under the hull seemed to be made of a glasslike material, and strange beings inside it... talking a foreign language... lassoed one of the... cows with a cable, and pulled it inside their spacecraft. On March 27th, a large object had been seen flying over Topeka, Kansas, by 200 people, including the goveror.* # *In 1885, a metal cube -- whose symmetry and composition led experts to believe it could have been man-made -- was found embedded in coal formed more than 12 million years ago. Glass lenses, metal nails, chains, a fossil screw and a battery have been discovered inside geological formations. Bulletlike objects have been taken from the bones of prehistoric animals.* These are startling reports if true, and they ought to be thoroughly investigated. Wallechinsky et al. do not cite sources, but I have heard the "green children" story elsewhere, and also that both children eventually died. That particular fact makes it easier for me to believe that they were extraterrestrials. I would expect ETs to be roughlu human in shape, but with a radically different biochemistry -- still hydrocarbon-based, of course, with water as a solvent, but not necessarily the same genetic material, optical activity, etc. Of all science fiction conceits, the second dumbest -- after interbreeding with ETs -- is the one where a human walks onto an alien starship and is able to eat the food. If this story has any truth to it, it should be investigated. And the bodies should be exhumed and autopsied. The 1897 sightings seem to me most likely to have been real sightings, but of early German airship tests, rather than ETs. I would expect Germans to eat cows, but I would not expect ETs to do so. What the Germans were doing over Kansas is hard to explain, but it is easier to explain than what ETs were doing over Kansas. The metal cube and the other artifacts -- again, if the stories are true -- seem to me very hard to explain other than by prehuman technological activity. A cube might be a natural metal crystal of some sort, but chains and a screw are harder to explain. It would be interesting to have professional geologists (from later than 1885) give their opinions on whether the rocks these items were retrieved from are in fact of great age, and on whether they have subsequently been contaminated by later material. (Land does move, after all, and things do fall into holes.) SPIRITS As a born-again Christian, I do believe that both angels and demons are active in our world. I would consider such explanations last, however. Considering natural explanations first makes sense and has very old precedents; e.g.; a 16th-century Pope who advised exorcists that most "demon-possessed" people were "far more in need of a physician than an exorcist." REFERENCES Fuller, John G., 1972. THE INTERRUPTED JOURNEY. Dial Press. Hynek, J. Allen, 1972. THE UFO EXPERIENCE. Henry Regnery Co. Wallechinsky, David et al., 1977. THE BOOK OF LISTS. New York: Bantam Books.