UFO Conjecture(s)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The 1966 Ann Arbor "Swamp Gas" fiasco and UFO abductions


J. Allen Hynek’s albatross – the 1966 Ann Arbor/Dexter/Hillsdale “swamp gas” fiasco – was covered by this writer when he was an intern at the Detroit NEWS.

Click here for the Hillsdale newspaper account of that area’s sighting. (Disregard the Manor name in the article. The correct name is Mannor.)

The reporting and stories about the UFO sightings – flying saucer sightings – are well-known to UFO aficionados, but there is an aspect that seems obliquely interesting…

Dirk Vander Ploeg, Publisher of UFO Digest, provided, just recently, an account of alleged UFO abductions of two young boys (the Reed brothers) in Tennessee in the Spring of 1966; the Michigan incidents took place in late March (20th and 21st) of 1966.

Here are links to Dirk’s intriguing recountings:



Frank Mannor and his son, Ronald, along with several Hillsdale College students were not abducted, nor were any of those, as far as we know, who also saw a UFO in the Spring of 1966, all around the country:


And no one reported seeing any beings, such as those described by the Reed boys.

So what is the connection, if any?

When the Mannor farm (now replaced by a housing development) and the Hillsdale area just outside the campus (where the coeds spotted their UFO) was surveilled by reporters, a significant element was noted, at both locations: the plethora of willow trees.

Both sites were boggy, as Dr. Hynek cited, and used to explain his “swamp gas” explanation. Willow trees made up much of the flora for both sites.

Were willow trees an important ingredient in the UFO appearances? That both the Hillsdale and Dexter locations were replete with willow trees, coupled with the alleged Reed abductions wherein a willow tree plays a significant part, seems more than a vegetative coincidence.

We’re checking to see if there are references or notes about what greenery was in proximity of other Spring 1966 sightings.

Here is a synopsis of the Willow Tree myth from the Tree of Life web-site:


Most willow species grow and thrive close to water or in damp places, and this theme is reflected in the legends and magic associated with these trees. The moon too recurs as a theme, the movement of water being intimately bound up with and affected by the moon. For example, Hecate the powerful Greek goddess of the moon and of willow, also taught sorcery and witchcraft, and was 'a mighty and formidable divinity of the Underworld'. Helice was also associated with water, and her priestesses used willow in their water magic and witchcraft. The willow muse, called Heliconian after Helice, was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus carried willow branches on his adventures in the Underworld. He was also given a lyre by Apollo, and it is interesting to note that the sound boxes of harps used to be carved from solid willow wood.

We don’t see a connection but maybe someone like Nick Redfern can intuit a meaning if there is one.

We just found it interesting, that's all...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nick Redfern interviewed about Final Events


Mike Clelland (whose excellent artwork can be seen in Mac Tonnies' book "The Cryptoterrestrials") interviewed Nick Redfern 9/15 about my new "Final Events" book.

The interview lasted about an hour and a half, and Mike has now posted the interview to his blog.

Click here to access the interview

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Defending Roswell/UFO "witnesses" and Anthony Bragalia (in a roundabout way)


CDA, Gilles, Don, et al….

Andy Warhol’s dictum about “15 minutes of fame” doesn’t just apply to current society. It also can be retro-fitted to the late 70s, 80s, and even the 1950s.

Contactees were emboldened to seek fame (more so than fortune) and concocted their stories to achieve it.

The Roswell old-timers, who have or had no significant legacy to hang their isolated lives on, also, in many cases (if not all), have decided to attached themselves to the Roswell episode.

Even nice old-ladies are not immune to such “innocent” skullduggery.

Anthony Bragalia, Joseph Capp, and a few others feel a kind of compassion for these people and believe that these nice folks couldn’t or wouldn’t confabulate or lie, especially on their death beds.

But the historical evidence indicates that nice people lie, and death bed confessions are fraught with all kinds of caveats, because of dementia and the state of mind at death, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s work shows.

However, what Anthony Bragalia has uncovered are subliminal clues that indicate something strange happened at Roswell in 1947, something stranger than what the Mogul explanation purports or even what the extraterrestrial account indicates.

There is a sub rosa set of occurrences that show an environment in Roswell and its aftermath which portend something weirder than what has been thus far reported.

And Mr. Bragalia’s witness testimonies are where those sub rosa clues reside, even inside the testimony that is flawed. (Witnesses who outright lie have to have a “seed” from which they formulate their falsehoods. Even their prevarications can contain something worthwhile. It may be harder to discern that something, but it’s there for adept researchers.)

Mr. Bragalia’s problem ,if it is a problem, is that he’s holding back some of what he’s uncovered, because it is premature to accept the “profound” conclusions that one would have to draw from what is “hinted” or because he (Mr. Bragalia) is planning a book.

It’s frustrating surely. We’re frustrated that the denouement of Roswell remains open by trepidation on Mr. Bragalia's part and also that of a few other UFO researchers, who have reasons to be cautious of their finding(s).

The need to be absolutely concrete in the ultimate Roswell explanation is paramount for these researchers as they don’t want the deal-killing opprobrium of die-hard skeptics or outright debunkers.

The Roswell incident(s) lie in an Alice in Wonderland context, unfortunately. And this makes conclusive remarks harder to come by. But we understand that Mr. Bragalia (and a few others) are on the brink of a break-through, one that will finally answer the Roswell question(s) and provide an answer (or portion of answer) to the UFO enigma.

Monday, September 13, 2010

UFOs and “The Smiley Blanton Syndrome”


In a monograph (1966) for Abnormal Psychology, University of Michigan, this writer provided an epithet – The Smiley Blanton Syndrome – for the confluence of materials that form a new memory or recollection, composed of diverse artifacts that a human mind accumulates, around a topic.

That is, when one reads or sees an item, then reads or sees another item (in the same or near-same context), a new memory or recollection is formed, from combining and mixing the disparate data/information.

The new memory or recollection is considered to be valid (or true, real) by the person who has “created” the new memory/recollection, even though it is a unique creation made up of tidbits that are only tangentially connected if connected at all.

This corresponds to the theses advocated by Bartlett in his 1932 work, Remembering, which remains a primary, still relevant work by cognitive psychologists and neurologists. (See current thinking about Bartlett’s work by accessing the list of materials below.)


When a witness to a UFO event, such as Roswell or Betty/Barney Hill’s testimony, after-the-fact (of their alleged abduction), comes into contact with related materials, they tend to incorporate, unconsciously or semi-consciously, elements from those related materials, forming a new “reality.”

This isn’t a direct malfeasance by the persons concocting the new “story” or enhancing another story in the news. It is a quirk of the mind, as Bartlett noted, correctly, many years ago.

The Smiley Blanton Syndrome, which was reproduced in experiments at U of M, provides a template for UFO researchers who want to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

Roswellian testimony is a selective source for determining if a witness has, inadvertently, combined multiple data and input to form what appears to be accurate and supportive testimony from other Roswell witnesses.

This is Anthony Bragalia’s thesis: the testimony he has acquired resonates with other witness testimonies.

The collective memory flaws are also addressed by Bartlett and the writers below. (Jung, too, dealt with collective memory, and its caveats.)

It is time to move away from Roswell testimony and witnesses, in the public arena, anyway, and time to move on to other UFO events without the residual energy of ET believers and resident debunkers or skeptics that Roswell generates.

That is, until Mr. Bragalia, and a few other UFO researchers produce information from new leads, which may (or may not) confirm the ET crash in Roswell.

(The RRRGroup is not holding its united breath, however.)


N.B. Bartlett's book Remembering (1932) is frequently cited as a major forerunner of the information processing approach to memory and cognition....remembering in natural contexts. A re-examination of Bartlett's work demonstrates that it offers little basis for an information processing approach, but rather that it offers the foundation of a much broader, culturally contextualized and functional approach to the study of everyday remembering. Three particular themes are discussed: the integration of social judgements and affective reactions with cognition, the role of conventional symbols in the coding and communication of experience, and the importance of conversational discourse. Bartlett's best-known studies, involving the method of serial reproduction, are shown to be microcosmic demonstrations of the process that he was most concerned with—that of conventionalization of symbols rather than of the workings of an individual's memory. It is argued, again beginning with Bartlett, that everyday remembering may be most fruitfully studied in terms of its personal and social functions, and particularly through its realization in discourse. [Conversation and remembering: Bartlett revisited, Derek Edwards, David Middleton, Copyright © 1987 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd]
The thinking person's emotional theorist: A comment on Bartlett's "Feeling, imaging, and thinking" [Tim Dalgleish, British Journal of Psychology, 2009]
Bartlett, Culture and Cognition [Edited by Akiko Saito, University of Cambridge, UK, 2000]
Disparate Effects of Repeated Testing: Reconciling Ballard's (1913) and Bartlett's (1932) Results [Mark A. Wheeler and Henry L. Roediger, III, Rice University, American Psychological Society, 1992]