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Caution More Press Bias & 'Research'

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 12:43:50 -0400
Fwd Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 12:43:50 -0400
Subject: Caution More Press Bias & 'Research' 




Source: The National Post - Toronto, Canada

http://tinyurl.com/2bjdgl

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sixty Years Later, We're Still Alone

In June, 1947, an Idaho businessman invented the idea of 'flying
saucers.' Thousands of supposed sightings later, the world
remains alien-free


Scott Van Wynsberghe, National Post

Sixty years ago this month, on June 25, 1947, an Idaho
businessman named Kenneth Arnold showed up at the offices of an
Oregon newspaper, the East Oregonian. He had quite a story to
tell.

Arnold claimed he had seen something strange near Mount Rainier,
in neighbouring Washington state, while piloting his own plane
the day before. It was a bizarre formation of aerial objects
scooting around at what he reckoned was over twice the speed of
sound. The objects moved, he said, "like a saucer would if you
skipped it across the water." At that moment - as described by
aerospace historian Curtis Peebles in his 1994 book Watch the
Skies! - the concept of the flying saucer was born, and the UFO
movement began to stir.

Exactly what Arnold saw remains uncertain, but he did not help
his case when he fell in with Ray Palmer, a science-fiction
editor who had been boosting the sales of his magazine by
printing the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic about the
existence of a scientifically superior race living under the
earth. Palmer became such an unflagging popularizer of UFOs that
Peebles has dubbed him, not Arnold, "the man who invented flying
saucers."

Generations later, the Arnold incident still pretty much sums up
the field of unidentified flying objects, as repeated in
countless similar episodes all over the rural United States:
Something supposedly was seen and reported-and then a lot of
fuss is stirred up by an irresponsible element. Once the dust
has settled, we invariably are left with no proof that the sky
has yielded anything unusual, and so no proof to dispute the
default assumption that we are alone in the universe.

This unchanging pattern over six decades should be sufficient
grounds to dismiss the possibility that our earth is being
visited by space aliens. But in case you aren't convinced, here
are 10 more reasons.

1 Humanity has yet to detect a single, extraterrestrial
civilization. For decades, the heavens have been scanned by both
government and private agencies for unusual, electromagnetic
emissions, with no significant result. A turning point may have
been reached in 2000, when The New York Times, Time magazine and
Scientific American all reported on the growing pessimism even
among UFO enthusiasts.

This is as it should be, because much of their enthusiasm was
based on false assumptions made by an astronomer named Frank
Drake. In 1961, Drake devised a famous equation proving (he
thought) that our galaxy was teeming with advanced species.
Alas, in a 1997 book, Yes, We Have No Neutrons, science writer
A.K. Dewdney showed that a simple - and logical -
 reinterpretation of the equation yields a result of just one
species. "That," Dewdney commented, "must be us."

2 People have always seen too much in the night sky. Astrology,
for example, has stubbornly survived, based on ancient, esoteric
interpretations of random star patterns. Comets, too, have
regularly been interpreted as mystical portents. We seem to have
some inborn need to look to our sky in search of existential
succor.

3 Human perception is shaky. By the mid-1970s, it was already
understood by both UFO believers and skeptics that eyewitnesses
could be wrong. J. Allen Hynek, a prominent believer, conceded
in The UFO Experience (1974) that claimed sightings always
occurred more often at night, when human visual perception is
weakest. Philip J. Klass, a debunker, spent a whole chapter of
his own UFOs Explained (1976) on the impossibility of estimating
the size, distance, and altitude of an unknown, aerial object in
the absence of any known point of reference. (A frisbee one yard
away looks much like a giant flying saucer one mile away.)

4 Consequently, almost all UFO sightings are explainable. At a
1977 UFO conference in Chicago, American researcher David M.
Jacobs observed that the rate for explainable sightings was "90%
or more." In recent, annual surveys, Canadian researcher Chris
Rutkowski has arrived at such rates as 83% (2003) and 88%
(2006).

5 And the "unexplained" sightings may not be unexplained at all.
So much is now known about CIA and Pentagon activities involving
balloons and spy planes in the post-war years that the history
of UFOs for that era has had to be completely rewritten.
Peebles, cited earlier, is also an authority on U.S. aerial
reconnaissance in the Cold War, and his book Shadow Flights
(2000) makes clear that U.S. authorities chose to allow "UFO"
sightings to spread rather than admit to the existence of
widespread airborne intelligence. In one case, Peebles uses
declassified records to produce an exact match between a balloon
launch on May 21, 1952, and a same-day "UFO" sighting that was
documented by flying-saucer enthusiasts Jim and Carol Lorenzen.
Historian Gerald Haines has estimated that "over half of all UFO
reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s" were caused by
spy flights.

6 Nor is there a government conspiracy to conceal alien
visitations. For example, in the case of the widely claimed "UFO
crash" at Roswell, N.M., in 1947, a 1994 study by the U.S. Air
Force found that reports of mysterious wreckage actually
involved yet another intelligence effort. It was called Project
Mogul, and it used specially equipped balloons to detect
atmospheric traces of Soviet nuclear tests. One of the secret
balloons came down at Roswell.

7 There are no alien abductions. In the late 1980s, UFO skeptic
Klass noticed that almost all abduction claims came from the
U.S. To him, that suggested a cultural problem, not a cosmic
one. In 2005, Harvard psychologist Susan Clancy argued that even
the apparently sincere claimants of abduction were probably just
victims of sleep-related hallucinations, recklessly administered
hypnosis, and social influences.

8 UFO activists are their own worst enemies. A 1995 article in
Saturday Night magazine detailed how abduction researchers
muddied the waters for decades through unprofessional,
investigative techniques. It was not until 1994 that the efforts
of a Toronto-based psychotherapist, Dr. David Gotlib (who became
aware of the problem through his patients), convinced them to
adopt a code of conduct. (Meanwhile, in 1996, three UFO fanatics
on Long Island were arrested for plotting to assassinate local
politicians and officials suspected of covering up the "truth"
about aliens.)

9 The study of UFOs is riddled with fraud and hoax. As early as
1950, a convicted swindler in Denver, Colorado, named Leo
GeBauer began passing himself off as a UFO expert, "Dr. Gee." A
few years later, Californian handyman George Adamski declared he
was in contact with spacemen, but his only evidence was blurry
photographs and witnesses who later recanted. From the late
1950s until his confession in 1966, U.S. Navy radio operator
Z.T. Fogl mischievously spread doctored photographs across the
flying- saucer community.

In the 1980s, the UFO world was rocked by a 1947 U.S. government
document that mapped out a flying-saucer cover-up entitled
"Majestic 12" (or "MJ-12"). The document was a forgery, and such
activists as Kevin Randle have since denounced it. Beginning in
1991 (and as recently as 2002), British tricksters have come
forward to admit responsibility for huge numbers of crop circles
that appeared in their country.

10 In the end, UFOs are just an overgrown offshoot of science
fiction. As noted above, science-fiction editor Ray Palmer was
present at the birth of the field in the 1940s, but the
groundwork was prepared as far back as 1898, when H.G. Wells
brought out his alien-invasion novel, The War of the Worlds.
Orson Welles turned that book into the infamous radio broadcast
of 1938, and Kenneth Arnold's sighting occurred just nine years
later. In turn, the flap caused by Arnold helped inspire
science-fiction writers and filmmakers in the 1950s.

From art to "sightings" to art: That has a neat circularity.
Perfectly round. Almost like, well, a flying saucer.


-Scott Van Wynsberghe lives in Winnipeg.

Dnumehob.nul



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