The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

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

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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:

http://www.ufodigest.com/article/196669-reed-abductions

http://www.ufodigest.com/article/willow-tree-and-ufos-down-near-lake

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:

http://www.nicap.org/waves/1966fullrep.htm

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:

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/willow.html):

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

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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)

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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”

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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.)

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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.)

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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]
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The thinking person's emotional theorist: A comment on Bartlett's "Feeling, imaging, and thinking" [Tim Dalgleish, British Journal of Psychology, 2009]
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Bartlett, Culture and Cognition [Edited by Akiko Saito, University of Cambridge, UK, 2000]
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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]
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

THE WITNESSES TO ROSWELL: TESTIMONY AND TRUTH by Anthony Bragalia

Copyright 2010, InterAmerica, Inc.

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Skeptics who consider the crash of an ET craft at Roswell often maintain that it is not credible because it is based on testimony. These scoffers believe that those who say that they saw ET or its debris are either intentionally or unintentionally not telling the truth. They further maintain that such testaments are not sufficient to believe that ET crashed to Earth.

Those with such doubting attitudes are wrong. They feel compelled to "shoot holes" in all such testimony. This is because if even one witness to Roswell is telling the truth, the critics must then acknowledge the fact that we are not alone - and that this fact has been kept from them.

Testimony often leads to truth. Its value in finding the answers to our questions about Roswell is unquestionable. Such testimony has been given without gain. It has been offered by those who are lucid and credible. It is told by those who would be in a position "to know" what had happened. The accounts include details which are internally consistent. What is said is often corroborated by many others. Such testimony has been combined with other evidence such as circumstantial evidence, elevating its value. We cannot ignore this testimony, we must evaluate it.

As contributor to sections of the revised edition of Witness to Roswell (2009) by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt, I am especially aware of the value of witnesses and of testimony. In fact the national firm that I lead in my professional life engages in conducting in-depth interviews, evaluations and verification. I have applied these skills in the personal interview of countless Roswell witnesses. "Testimony" is something of which I am very familiar.

WHY TESTIMONY FOR NOW SUFFICES

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Those critics of the crash who insist that without a bona fide piece of the Roswell debris - or a tissue sample of an alien corpse - reports of an ET Roswell crash are shams. But these cynics reveal their ignorance. Such physical evidence will never be officially forthcoming in our lifetimes. To demand such evidence is on the very face of it ridiculous. Though private individuals may perhaps have retained such evidence- we will never see an ET body on a gurney wheeled out into a White House Press Conference. The other types of evidence that then remain available to us are qualified testimony, circumstantial evidence and the paper trails of any relevant documents.

In any courtroom in the nation, under United States law, such evidence -even absent physical evidence- is often enough to convict and execute someone for a capital offense! Skeptics repeatedly gloss over this fact. And they should bear in mind too that historians often deem as truthful the communications of those who have come before us, even when absent physical evidence. Historians often confirm history without physical proofs.

TESTIMONY AND THE LAW

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A "credible witness" in a court of law is defined as someone who is "competent to give testimony, is worthy of belief and who is not speaking from hearsay." Many Roswell witnesses would be considered "credible" under this very definition of law. Some of these witnesses have even appeared in video or audio recorded deposition and have signed and dated notarized affidavits. Some testimony is so valued by the US Government that the witnesses who give such testimony are even placed in official "Witness Protection" programs!

TESTIMONY AND BEHAVIOR

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As a US Governor in the 1800s once said, "A trembling in the bones carries more convincing testimony than dry utterance." In other words, if such disturbing or troubling testimony is accompanied by corroborating behavior (i.e. drinking, leaving, keeping the secret until you are old) then what is said becomes very convincing. And just such testimony and subsequent behavior came from many who left Roswell, or became alcoholic (see "The Roswell Alcoholics" archived on this site) or who waited until they were aged or dying to say anything about the event.

WHY ROSWELL TESTIMONY IS DEFINITIVE: IT WAS ALIEN

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In a criminal investigation, errors in observation often come into play. There is always the possibility for instance, of misidentifying a perpetrator in a police line-up of potential burglars. Mistakes can be honestly made relative to body size or height, eye and hair color and other such identifiers. But Roswell witnesses to alien bodies or debris are fundamentally different than witnesses to a crime. With these Roswell witnesses, there is no such possibility of "incorrect identification."

This is simply because witnesses to ET corpses either saw them or they did not. Similarly, either witnesses held debris (or saw a craft) that could not be made by man- or they did not. There is no "in-between" or margin for error. A human being knows if they are viewing something that is non-human. They would most certainly be certain if they held something in their own hands which represented a material so unique that it could not be of man or that came from that time.

If they indicate that they did witness such thing, they are either telling the truth or they are lying. There are no two ways about it. They either viewed small, hairless, earless creatures with large heads and eyes that were plainly not from this world- or they did not. They either held what was described as bizarre "memory metal" (something that did not even exist at that time) or they did not. Unlike witnessing a crime scene and its “perps,” viewing ET bodies or debris leaves no room for doubt or error. If the reports are true, the witnesses saw ET, period.

Critics are too cowardly to call such people out-and-out "liars." Instead, they resort to convoluted terms -and even psychiatric conditions- to describe these witnesses. Their testimony, they say, is "contaminated" by other stories that have been told; they are susceptible to suggestion; they give the answers that are desired by researchers; or that they suffer from faulty memories, a "syndrome" of some type- or even that they have the "liar's disease" called crypto-amnesia.

Another favored tool in the skeptics arsenal is to belittle the elderly as too old to remember clearly. Such talk is insulting and demeaning to everyone. We will all get old, including said skeptics. And we all hope that when we do, that we will be believed and trusted in what we say. These critics also have a penchant to question motive- though the only "motive" is most always to simply relate what they know about the event and nothing more.

The reason that the critics say these things is that they are unsure or unwilling to call out these witnesses as complete, no-good liars. They feel that they must couch what they say about these witnesses in the language of pseudo-psychology. And of course the larger reason is that if the cynics were to agree that such a witness is truthful in what they say about Roswell - they then must acknowledge the event as ET.

DISCERNING THE ROSWELL SPIRITS: WHICH WITNESSES ARE TELLING THE TRUTH?

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The very nature of Roswell itself invites fraud. There is perhaps no other subject that holds fascination for so many as the possibility that ET has crashed to Earth. It then makes complete sense that this would always be a subject that would be ripe for scammers. It would invite liars. There would invariably be those who would bear false witness. There would of course be those that would want to insert themselves into history. But this is true of all human pursuits. There are such types in all walks of life, especially in areas that touch upon such "hot button" issues.

But by "discerning the spirits" as Ecclesiastes instructs, we can establish who is telling the truth -and who is not- when it comes to Roswell. And we have already done so. Rather than disparage researchers who have found and then later disposed of witnesses, these researchers deserve our respect. UFO researchers who are genuine in their pursuit have vetted out such frauds as Gerald Anderson, Frank Kauffman, Jim Ragsdale and Phil Corso.

What remains though is a very large core of credible Roswell witnesses who:

- were sought out rather than who had come forward
- divulged information sometimes only reluctantly
- received no recompense or reward
- were verifiably there at the time
- were of clear minds but waited until old age or their deathbed to tell
- told stories that were internally consistent
- related accounts that were corroborated by others (and often in fine detail)
- made statements that were supported by circumstantial evidence and documents

Such things help guide us in determining the veracity of witnesses and their Roswell accounts. It is only when we apply such discernment that we arrive at the answers. And it is then that we realize that the Witnesses to Roswell have offered us the Testimony of Truth.