From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul> Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2012 12:41:30 +0100 Archived: Wed, 04 Apr 2012 07:59:52 -0400 Subject: Re: Exeter Case 'Solved' >From: Peter Davenport <director.nul> >To: <post.nul> >Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 14:58:54 -0700 >Subject: Re: Exeter Case 'Solved' >>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul> >>To: <post.nul> >>Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2012 11:37:30 +0100 >>Subject: Re: Exeter Case 'Solved' >>>From: Don Ledger <dledger.nul> >>>To: <post.nul> >>>Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2012 13:43:13 -0300 >>>Subject: Exeter Case 'Solved' >>>Apparently those super-sleuths James McGaha and Joe Knickell >>>from the Skeptical Enquirer have solved the Exeter case. >>>Apparently the 60 to 100 foot wide, blood-red object that >>>eighteen-year-old Norman Muscarello and Police Officer Eugene >>>Bertrand saw arising from the trees a few hundred feet away >>>can >>>be easily explained by the director lights on a refuelling >>>tanker at twenty thousand feet. >>>----- >>>Source: CSICOP.Org >>>http://tinyurl.com/6npl5qx >>>November/December 2011 >>>Special Report >>>James McGaha and Joe Nickell >>>Volume 35.6, November/December 2011 >Martin, et al, >I vaguely remember hearing about the McGaha/Nickell article, >when it was first published, but today was the first time I took >the time to read it. I'm sorry I wasted the time necessary to do >so! >The contents of the article make it, in my opinion, little more >than a classic disinformation piece, hardly worth the time to >read it, and certainly not worth the time to write a long, >detailed analysis of the many flaws, oversights, and omissions >the article exhibits. I answered Peter's post and Don's response on another List without realising they had also been posted to this list (I've been travelling and not receiving mails properly) so I ought to quote here what I said there: I sympathise with Peter's feeling that my critique of N & McG is "not worth the time" but I disagree insofar as others have considered N & McG's effort of sufficient interest to cite it. I also disagree with the implication that Peter's own list of refutations is a waste of his and our time. I think it's always important to challenge influential tosh. And I think it's always valuable to test theories by examining limit cases in a quantitative way if possible because this puts a back-stop behind possible interpretations of "soft" testimony that people like N & McG may want to try to exploit. Buty I'm travelling at the moment and don't have the time to justify this rationale in any detail. Suffice to say that Tim Printy found my critique of sufficient interest that he proposes to link to it in a forthcoming SunLite as counterbalance to his mention the N & McG "solution". >The notion that the lights seen by the >three witnesses were some type of "marker lights" on a piston- >driven military transport aircraft is the pinnacle of >absurdity!! It seems clear from the article that neither of the >two writers ever interviewed any of the witnesses to the event, >or those who were involved in its investigation. McGaha may have >been too young, at the time; Nickell may already have left for >Canada, during his draft-dodging stint up north, at the time the >incident occurred. Interviewing witnesses is a valuable part of case investigation but does not absolve the rest of us (or the interviewer) from the responsibility for analysing and evaluating objectively the information collected, and this is the ongoing part of the investigation where theories are tested. There is nothing whatever wrong with N & McG testing a theory in 2011 against original information collected by someone else in 1965. This is a very respectable and valuable part of the process and ought not to be sneered at, as those who were "there" often tend to do. What N & McG did wrong was fail to get a grasp of the information collected in 1965 and then fail to apply sufficient care to their theory testing. That's why they made a pig's ear of it, not because they didn't interview anyone (and note that _re_interviewing decades after the event, even had that been possible or practical, would have been guaranteed merely to dump a ton of mud into waters already less than perfectly limpid.) <snip> >There are many flaws and oversights in the McGaha/Nickell >article, but let me address a few, which I hope will lay the >issue to rest, once and for all: >"When Muscarello burst into the office of the Exeter Police >Department, Desk Officer Reginald Toland was concerned for >Muscarello's welfare, given Muscarello's disheveled appearance. >Muscarello had mud-stained clothing, and I believe that he >appeared to have mild laceration wounds to his arms, which may >have been bleeding. It was, in part, predicated on Muscarello's >appearance that caused Officer Toland to radio to the >department's two patrol cars, at the time being driven by >Officers Hunt and Bertrand, that there was an individual in the >Exeter Police Station, who was claiming to have been followed, >and approached, by a flying saucer." >The mud and lacerations were the result of Muscarello's having >dived under a bush alongside the road he was walking on, in >attempt to get away from, and conceal himself from, the object. >Muscarello reported to me that when he hid under the bush, the >object slowly moved above him, it seemed to tip forward, and it >suddenly illuminated him brightly with what he said was the >brightest light he had ever seen. He stated that it "seemed to >hit its high beams." Hardly the result of "marker lights" on a >transport aircraft at altitude! Unfortunately, Muscarello's evident fear and alarm are only suggestive. Strictly speaking they prove nothing about what he saw, even if they do tell us something about what he _thought_ he saw. It is relevant secondary evidence, but not strong primary evidence that would over-rule facts suggestive of a KC- 97 for example (if there were such facts). The uncomfortable truth is that witnesses to mundane phenomena have often had strong, even extreme psychological reactions. For an example anyone can check from a respected CUFOS source, look at the phrases used by witnesses in Hendry's UFO Handbook, The IFO Message, p.99-100, where people are scared, crying, screaming. shaking. shouting, praying and running their cars off the road etc because of sighting advertising planes, stars, Venus etc. >"Officers Bertrand and Hunt accompanied Muscarello into a >triangular-shaped field, over which Muscarello had last seen the >mysterious, disc-shaped object. As they were walking back to the >two police cruisers, the three of them suddenly were illuminated >from behind. They quickly whirled around to face the source of >the light, and witnessed a craft that apparently had risen from >behind a knoll, or from behind a row of trees, in the distant >corner of the field. Officer Bertrand reported to me that during >the first few moments that they were being illuminated from >behind, he noticed that the shadows that were being cast ahead >of the three witnesses were visibly getting shorter, so he knew >that the object behind them was either rising, and/or getting >closer to them. It was at that moment of panic that he whirled >around to face the source of the light, during which time he >moved to un-holster his sidearm. Seeing Bertrand act to draw his >sidearm, Officer Hunt cautioned Bertrand not to brandish his >weapon at the object, a recommendation that Bertrand consented >to, and he returned the sidearm to its holster." This detail of the shortening shadows on the red-lit ground is a good example of a very impressive circumstantial detail which, if completely reliable, would be of itself sufficient to exclude the high-altitude B-47s/KC-97 type of explanation as a class. But it would not seriously dent a case based on other facts suggestive of a B-47/KC-97 lighting (if there were such facts) because again it can be argued that experience proves witness accounts of an exciting event are often more colourful than the truth (were it known) would sanction, therefore it is not a proof. The best qualitative defence against this type of counter- argument is always to go to the earliest available record in the witness's own written or spoken words, or the earliest signed statement. In this case the NICAP forms in the file which were completed and signed by Bertrand and Hunt on Sept 11 1965 (the day after Peter's interview) do not refer to any illumination of the surroundings at all. Neither do the short narrative witness statements in the file by Bertrand, Hunt and Muscarello. But these are not dated. Other early sources such as newspaper articles, sometimes claiming to be (like Peter's) based on interviews and/or direct quotation, do refer to the brightness of the lights lighting up the field and buildings, but I have not yet found any other very early primary source that records the shortening shadows in Bertrand's or Muscarello's or Hunt's own words. Now I personally find it impressive that Bertrand gave this detail to Peter within about a week of the event, and had I been in Peter's situation hearing it from the officer;s own lips no doubt I would have been even more impressed. Still, for purposes of combating a strongly sceptical argument it would be reassuring to have this striking observational detail consistently recorded in Bertrand's own original written words, and we don't have it. This leaves the detail vulnerable to the criticism that Bertrand, like any of us in similar circumstances, might have felt the temptation to elaborate his memory a little in the ensuing days. Of course there is no proof that this is so, but it something that we know people do, and a determined cynic could take refuge in this fact in order to claim that the detail weighs little in the balance against other facts suggestive of B-47/KC-97 lighting (if there were such facts). This is why it is valuable to test the N & McG theory in its quantitative limits. If the facts and arguments supposedly suggestive of B-47/KC-97 lighting can be shown to fail on grounds of gross internal logical and physical inconsistency, then the theory no longer has weight in the balance, and the qualitative details such as those highlighted by Peter then become _more_ interesting. IMO this type of approach pours the proper foundations to take the weight of a case for an 'unknown' whereas merely re-echoing witness claims will never do this. >NOTE: One contributor to the list has suggested that Bertrand >had served in the U. S. Air Force, but my recollection of >Bertrand's military service record is different. During my >interview of Bertrand, he informed me that he had served with >the U. S. Marines, and that he had served in Korea during the >Korean conflict. Had he said that he had served in the U. S. Air >Force, I believe I would have made a clear mental note of that >fact, given that at ages 14 and 15 years (1962-63), I had lived >with a U. S. Air Force family in Ethiopia. I raised this issue in my original post as follows: 'It is not irrelevant, either, that Officer Bertrand had 4 years in the Air Force working on "refuelling operations with aircraft of all types" (letter) although it is not exactly clear what this means. Bertrand's experience with KC-97's is mentioned specifically by Fuller, who described Bertrand as "an Air Force veteran during the Korean war, with air-to-air refuelling experience on KC-97 tankers" (p.10). But Bertrand talks about working "right on the ramp with the planes" (p.58) suggesting perhaps that his experience was not of refuelling by KC-97s in the air but refuelling (and perhaps other maintenance) of KC-97s and "aircraft of all types" on the ground. Howsoever, such experience does count for something in this particular case.' It doesn't seem to me that Peter's recollection clarifies this satisfactorily. >The three of the witnesses then proceeded to the two cruisers, >where they stood for an estimated 8-10 minutes, while watching >the object dart around the adjacent field, and over nearby >houses. >"During my interview of Bertrand, he commented that the object >occasionally moved so rapidly and abruptly that the human eye >could not track it. It would drift slowly and silently for a >short period of time, and then suddenly "jump" across the field >and appear almost spontaneously in another location. Obviously, >a KC-97 is not capable of such movement. This is an inadequate objection as it stands, since the human eye/brain combination _is_ capable of suggesting the _impression_ of erratic jumping motion even when the true motion is a steady angular translation, and experience shows that this is especially likely to occur with flashing light sources in a dark sky. Any investigator or any skywatcher who has ever tracked an aicraft strobe with the naked eye at night will know this illusion. It is not possible to sink this counter-objection merely with qualitative witness statemernts, because we know that witnesses _can_ and _do_ describe such illusory motions in a similar way when the object is a misidentified aircraft. Again, check Hendry, UFO Handbook, p.95, 'The IFO Message', case numbers 628, 788, 1109, 1144 involving identified advertising planes (Ad Airlines and others) and Air National Guard planes. These planes "stopped", made "angles that an aircraft can't make", threatened to crash into trees, jumped "straight up " and in one case identified as a formation of three Cessnas at 2,500 ft the object seemed to "suddenly whip across the road over the woods". This does not mean that Muscarello, Bertrand and Hunt saw a plane or planes, but it does mean that you cannot robustly argue that their reported impressions of erratic motion rule out the possibility. To start to do that you need to go beyond words and impressions and extract some implied numbers to set physical limits. >The object hovered over a one of the houses nearby, exhibiting >a peculiar pattern to its flashing lights. Officer Bertrand >described to me in detail how four of the five lights on the >near edge of the craft would be illuminated, while only one of >the lights would be extinguished, and that the extinguished >light would cycle back and forth along the near edge of the >craft." It is interesting that Bertrand described this to you in such detail, Peter, because it is frustratingly inconsistent with what the same officer wrote in his statement in the Air Force file. There he said the exact opposite. Instead of one light being off at a time he said that they "flashed _on_ one at a time", matching Muscarello's claim on his own statement in the same BB file to the effect that "only one light would be on at a time. They were pulsating 12345 54321". >"Hunt, Bertrand, and Muscarello were aware of nearby horses >making a ruckus, and those horses, I was informed by Peter >Geremia, ultimately broke through the corral fence. I did not >know that the horses had escaped their corral, at the time I >interviewed the witnesses, and I did not interview the owners of >the animals, as I recall. I seem to recall that they were not at >home when I knocked on their door. I was never able to reach >them for an interview, is my recollection." Again this is interestring but inconclusive because we all know that animal reactions have been reported in IFO cases. To cite CUFOS's Hendry again, he illustrates this (p.163) with ten IFO cases identified mainly as ad planes and other aircraft plus a scintillating star or two, where witnesses reported the object caused noise and distress from animals including dogs, cows, chickens, cats and a parakeet. >I could cite a number of other significant 'diversions' from >known fact about this case, which appear in the article by >McGaha and Nickell, but I believe the points I have made above >should be sufficient to illustrate just how misdirected their >article is. It is clear that they did not conduct any primary >investigation of the incident, and that their representations in >the article are little more than conjecture. Their approach to >the case is to create a seemingly plausible scenario, which >ignores the bulk of the facts that are known about the incident. >God only knows what their motivation may be, but it is difficult >for me to imagine that two people would write such a foolish >piece, if there were not some concealed agenda to their actions. The Nickell and McGaha case is weak because it relies only on qualitative witness statements that can be made to sound similar to some aspects of their suggested KC-97 tanker lights. This is a very loose and lazy proceedure that impresses the type of person who is impressed by loose similarities and qualitative arguments and who sniffs at detailed quantitive and physically- based analysis. We ought to try to do better, not flounder around mud-wrestling in the same pit of qualitative ambiguity where both combatants are covered in the same crap and no person of sense will ever be able to see who is winning. IMO a rudimentary check on the implied numbers and fine detail of the N & McG scenario is a more effective proof that it is insupportable. Martin Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast At: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/ These contents above are copyright of the author and UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced without the express permission of both parties and are intended for educational use only.
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