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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Dec > Dec 15

Re: Penniston NP Conference & King

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:33:25 -0000
Archived: Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:09:15 -0500
Subject: Re: Penniston NP Conference & King


>From: Lan Fleming <lfleming5.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:31:56 -0600
>Subject: Re: Penniston NP Conference & King

>>From: Gerald O'Connell <gac.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:02:08 +0000
>>Subject: Re: Penniston NP Conference & King

><snip>

>>Pardon my intrusion at this late stage in the exchange, but it
>>has revived some thoughts about Rendlesham that have been
>>puzzling me intermittently over the years.

>>A fascinating discussion, this, on a fascinating case. Martin
>>has been absolutely right to draw attention to these
>>inconsistencies, because they are fundamentally problematic.
>>Indeed, the entire case has been plagued by witnesses (whether
>>confirmed, claimed or self-proclaimed) shifting their ground
>>over time. Larry Warren is the most notorious example, but it
>>applies to others too. I'm not really sure what conclusions
>>Martin draws from this tendency (or whether he believes that it
>>makes drawing any conclusions a fruitless quest - a justifiable
>>response from somebody who places such emphasis on analysable
>>specifics of hard evidence), but, for my own part, I think it
>>perpetuates a concentration of debate and research in areas of
>>the case that are likely to lead nowhere.

My tentative conclusion (I would rather say my strong feeling at
this stage) has been fairly clearly stated. It is that the
original statements have the ring of truth. Some unexplained
event was witnessed by three people, involving an apparently
ordered arrangement of multiple blue, red and white lights that
appeared to fly among the trees, and at least one of the three
was convinced they were attached to a mechanical device seen as
close as 50m distance.

Gerald's opinion that the evidence is too ambiguous to be
fruitfully argued about is not one I share in this case. I think
confusion is a gift to both entrenched poles of opinion, who
will rush to agree with the wisdom of not poking too hard at the
status quo. Neither party wishes to to be mired in the low
ground of confusion between their positions, and to point to
that confusion as a reason for avoiding contention is to allow
oneself to be exploited by their intellectual inertia.
Eventually the deepening bog will swallow them all if the
original evidence is allowed to be forever compromised by
revisionism based on fresh embroideries.

Are there more important issues and more interesting cases? I
might well agree that there are, but the huge prominence of this
one in ufological "discourse" (I didn't bring it up remember)
tells me that ufology in general doesn't agree and ufology in
general - and that includes this List - needs to take
responsibility for the reasons why a case which is
"fundamentally problematic" and "plagued by inconsistencies", as
Gerald describes it, continues to get such exposure (I
understand that more documentaries are underway as we speak) and
to command such esteem out of proportion to that status, both on
this List as well as off.

>Probably. This debate has been around for a long time. People
>unfamiliar witht this might get the impression from this
>discussion here that Penniston made a story up for the recent
>Larry King show. He did not. I think it's been 10 or 15 years
>since Penniston first claimed he'd touched the object and seen
>writing on it.

10 or 15 years during which Penniston's new version continues to
be repeated uncritically. That doesn't mean it must be false, it
is asking for it to be treated critically. Why is it that after
10 or 15 years merely to raise a question about Penniston's
changed story on this List caused the questioner to get
instantly jumped on with the aggressive assertion that anyone
who claims Penniston ever said anything inconsistent is either
badly confused or a liar? Seeing such an attitude only makes one
more inclined to be sympathetic to those who claim the
Rendlesham affair has the momentum of major myth

(I mention this here in so discourteous a fashion in order to
respect the custom of "some on this list" which is to direct
comments obliquely via third parties out of the corners of their
mouths and evade direct address.)

Below, you obliquely criticise ufologists for declining to
confront Buzz Aldrin's inconsistent evolving story (rightly so,
if that is the way of things), yet you appear to give the nod
here to Gerald's suggestion that in the case of Penniston
possibly "jazzing up" his story, well, it doesn't really matter.
You justify this because...

>Halt's memo and his tape recording are by far the most important
>and credible evidence and they're only slightly less
>sensational than Penniston's later story.

Excuse me, but the "most important and credible evidence" in
respect of the Penniston, Burroughs and Cabansag incident, in
which Halt plays no part at all, is not a second-hand summary by
Halt but the original first hand accounts by these men, and the
original statements of two other men (Buran and Chandler) who
monitored the event by way of Penniston's radio commentary at
the time. If you focus on these you will be cleaving to your own
principle (as stated below, and with which I generally agree)
that "what people say at the time of an incident like this
should be given far more weight than any new alleged details or
revisions they make years later".

Secondary to these accounts we then have the summary prepared by
Halt. This is the sensational para.1 of Halt's memo, a second-
hand summary of the statements by Penniston and the others
concerning events Halt did not witness, and adding nothing
substantial to the pre-existing accounts by Penniston and co. I
have already agreed that use of the word "metallic" instead of
"mechanical" could conceivably reflect additional information
passed verbally by Penniston and co in interview, but this is
far from either necessary or material since the one would
normally imply the other. Halt's account agrees that "as [they]
approached the object... it disappeared". The estimated size is
probably the only feature that does not appear in the originals.
From Halt's para.1:

"... The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing object in
the forest. The object was described as being metallic in
appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three
meters across the base and approximately two meters high. It
illuminated the entire forest with a white light. The object
itself had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue
lights underneath. The object was hovering or on legs. As the
patrolmen approached the object it maneuvered through the trees
and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went
into a frenzy. The object was briefly sighted approximately an
hour later near the back gate."

Halt's para 3 describes events he himself witnessed on the next
night and is claimed by himself and by its apologists to contain
deliberate fabrication (just like the five other original
witness statements) supposedly designed to obfuscate
"sensational" parts of his story, so obviously these are exactly
what it does not include at all. It says:

"3. Later in the night a red sun-like object was seen through
the trees. It moved about and pulsed. At one point it appeared
to throw off glowing particles and then broke into five separate
white objects and disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three
star like objects were noticed in the sky, two objects to the
north and one to the south, all of which were about 10 degrees
off of the horizon. The objects moved rapidly in sharp, angular
movements and displayed red, green and blue lights. The objects
to the north appeared to be elliptical through 8-10 power lens.
They then turned to full circles. The objects in the north
remained in the sky for an hour or more. The object to the south
was visible for two to three hours and beamed down a stream of
light from time to time. "

As for Halt's tape, nowhere, so far as I know, does it describe
anything nearly as "sensational" as the sighting of a structured
landed craft by Penniston and co the previous night. There are
lights and beams, and lots of excitement, but no structured
landed craft. In short this seems a much less interesting event
than the sightings of the first night.

The most pertinent and reliable evidence we have in relation to
the first night is, you will agree, the original statements of
those involved. The facts above do not support your contentions
that the Halt memo (which BTW also contains an erroneous date)
is "by far the most important and credible evidence" or that it
contains evidence about that night of a more "sensational"
nature than the original accounts. It does not. And why would
it, if (as Halt and his apologists now claim) his account was
censored to remove sensational aspects of the reports, not to
make them _more_ sensational than they already were?

>Halt certainly didn't write his
>memo or make the recording in order to get on TV years later.
>Even if Penniston's later claim that he touched the object is a
>lie, it doesn't affect the significance of the memo or the
>recording.

This paragraph risks confusing the two separate sightings on two
different nights. Halt's tape has nothing to do with the
Penniston, Burroughs, Cabansag event that is the topic of this
thread. As I already pointed out, the part of Halt's memo that
is relevant to that event is a summary of information already in
the witness's statements.

>And the fact that the witnesses' written descriptions
>are more vague than what's described in the memo does indicate
>that they were toning down what they put in writing, regardless
>of whether Penniston was jazzing things up in his later
>statements.

This is incomplete reasoning. _If_ it were true that Halt's
summary was more sensational than the content of the original
reports, then _one_possible_ interpretation would be that the
witnesses had decided to tone down their own accounts, just like
Halt supposedly toned down his own (indeed the suggestion that
has been made is that they all did this in concert for the same
reasons). Another would be that Halt's second-hand summary was
an exaggeration based on Halt's false impression of the original
story. That would be more economical than the topsy-turvey idea
that an inflated second-hand summary demonstrates that the
original evidence must have been self-censored.

No matter. In any case, your hypothesis assumes Halt's summary
_is_ more sensational, and is  _not_  toned down like
the originals. Why would this be? Surely he didn't just forget
that they were supposed to be keeping mum? This is after all
para1 of the very same memo in which he has (ex hypothesi)
carefully toned down his own account of the next night for the
same motives.

Fortunately this daft idea is not required to make sense,
because the story in the original statements is in fact just the
same story as the one summarised by Halt: The "positively
identified mechanical device" moving erratically through the
trees and observed as close as 50m, the drawing of a clearly
artificial structured machine with a red light on top, the bank
of blue lights below, the illuminated trees, the animal
disturbance... it's all there.

>I agree that Penniston's more sensational description doesn't
>add much to the evidence embodied in the Halt memo, but it
>doesn't detract from it either.

The Halt memo is not first-order evidence in this case. Forget
the Halt memo. It doesn't say anything different anyway.

Penniston's "more sensational description" does add
significantly to the statements originally given by the five
direct and indirect witnesses insofar as it requires Burroughs
(at least) to have been unmistakably in the very close presence
of an absolutely wierd machine. Burroughs, as I understand,
declines to go along with this and sticks by his original
testimony.

Either Penniston, Burroughs, Cabansag, Buran and Chandler
falsified their original statements or they did not. The
evidence that they did is a claim first made (according to your
above dates) some 15-or-so years later. It has been asserted
that this falsification was merely a matter of the primary
witnesses (Penniston and Burroughs, with Cabansag) later
deciding (or being persuaded) to "leave out" the "detail" of
actually touching and inspecting an object when they made their
stataments. But this is untrue. A wholesale reconstruction of
events and times by all parties would be required, including
Chandler and Buran. And by any normal standards of evidence, a
witness's claim to ratchet up the strangeness quotient of his
testimony by materially altering it after 15 years ought at
least to pass the test of being consistent. Who would disagree
with this?

Penniston's original statement that the walk back from the point
of termination took 45 mins is consistent with the fact that the
time of termination of the search by Buran at 0354 allows a
_maximum_ outbound trip on foot of about 45 mins (if allowing
only about 10 min for the original Burroughs expedition and the
decision to send Penniston and Cabansag back with him) and
probably less than 45 mins, but obviously there is no room here
for his now-claimed 45-minute-long inspection of the object at
some point during this ~90-min round trip of 4 miles (max) on
foot at a plausible average 2.7 mph. In this case it is the
later embellishment that appears inconsistent.

What else is inconsistent? What about Burroughs' statement on
the BBC Inside Out programme in 2003 that he believed Penniston
and Halt were both "dramatising" the original story? I can't
testify to this remark but I've been "reliably informed" that it
was made. If anyone has chapter and verse perhaps they could
share it?

What about the fact that Penniston's notebook entry with
sketches of "symbols" and notes supposedly drawn on the spot
during his arm's-length encounter appears to carry the wrong
date (Dec 27, a day out) and the wrong time (0020, about 3 hours
out)? Is this related to the fact that Burroughs, who according
to Penniston was also on the spot, denies that Penniston made
any notes? Has Penniston or anyone offered an explanation of
this? I have only seen these matters raised; I would be
interested to see them addressed.

What about Burroughs, who is quoted as rebutting the lighthouse
theory thus: "there are some people that try to twist it - If
you read the statements, especially mine they are clearly
distinguished between what we saw at the beginning... and then
we did see a beacon light and we followed it. Nowhere [in my
statement] does it say that I felt the beacon light was the
object." What does this imply? He is asking us to pay careful
attention to the detail of the original statements, as though
they were true. As he understands his own statement it clearly
does not allow confusion between the UFO and the lighthouse
beacon. That would be a sceptical "twisting" of what is written,
he says. This is not at all a man admitting that his statement
was made up (as others now claim it must have been) in order to
implicate the lighthouse.

>I think what people say at the
>time of an incident like this should be given far more weight
>than any new alleged details or revisions they make years
>later. (Unless they are astronauts like Buzz Aldrin, who are
>allowed to totally contradict their initial UFO descriptions
>years later without anyone being impolite enough to point it
>out.)

We appear to be in agreement on this at least. But if it is
really the general feeling among ufologists that it's not too
important if witnesses jazz up their stories, even if it becomes
necessary to gut original documents of their credibility in
order to accommodate the jazz, then frankly I despair.


Martin Shough




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