UFO Conjectures

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Little man seen by a "little man"

On pages 207 and 208 of Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time, Voume 2 [H.S. Stuttman, Inc., Westport, Conn. 1991] is a story about eight-year-old Tonnlie Barefoot [sic] who, on October 12th, 1976, in Dunn, North Carolina, saw a little man "not much bigger than a Coke bottle" wearing black boots, blue trousers, and a blue top with "the prettiest little white tie you ever saw."

Adults scoffed at the story, upsetting young Tonnlie, until they discovered tiny footprints where the lad said he saw the little man.

What do we have here -- a Vallee-like tale? Or the intrusion of a mini-alien from outer space?

Note the surname of Tonnlie: Barefoot.

And the subsequently found footprints (not bare apparently) but related to feet, obviously.

A Coke bottle, a white tie, black trousers and blue accoutrements -- black and blue.

Are the incidental details important in discovering what young Tonnlie saw?

(And I don't discount what children relate; they invariably are telling the truth, as they perceive it -- their spin is up for grabs, but the essential elements are basically true.)

The story is a minor one, in the context of Magonia-like tales and UFO encounters generally, but it is typical of what Jose Caravaca reports as "distortion" events, provided by observers and caused by the intercession of an ethereal presence.

The strange encounter of young Tonnlie wasn't investigated by anyone, in a thorough manner. Why would it be?

It's what was known in the 1976 time-frame as a human interest tidbit that news media gave a minuscule slot to in the local newspaper(s) or television newscast(s).

My preference for imparting a psychological interpretation might go to an explanation but I think that would be a stretch, as the eight-year-old seems, from the niggardly report, to have been a normal boy without a penchant for making things up or for having neurological mishaps.

Jose Caravaca's and Nick Redfern's intrusion by "others" (causing the imagery and event) is even less likely that my psychological approach.

Why would an extra-human presence create such a small event, with a eight-year-old, in Dunn, North Carolina? It's an absurdity on the face of it.

A Jacques Vallee's Magonia-like event is out of context, for the time-frame, locale, and garb of the little man spotted by Tonnlie Barefoot, but is a possibility, because of the fairy-like ambiance.

But, again, why?

There are a plethora of such accounts as this one.

However, do they impact the UFO question?

Does there need to be a categorical roster, separating UFO reports so that lights in the sky, objects also in the sky, landed craft, with beings interacting with people and/or the environment, or bizarre encounters without UFOs -- a roster that allows a specialistic investigation of such anomalies so we can, eventually, determine what such events mean, if anything, to humankind.

Are some people the butt of jokes by an external, unknown presence?

Are some people neurotically inclined or on a psychotic cusp, and experiencing things totally imagined by a malfunctioning psyche or mind?

Or are we all misperceiving observational quirks, imbuing things with seen or felt cultural encrustations garnered from books, magazines, movies, television, and now the internet?

What's your take? (And stay inside the topic, please....no flights of arcanity.)


Purrlgurrl left a link in a comment below, a link that provides more detail for the account here (above) and attendant material about an AmerIndian "legend" that pertains.

Click HERE for PG's link....it's relevant.



  • My comment is here.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Check out this site:


    The Cherokee of the Western Carolinas have a legend about a race of "little people" in the area.

    I vote for the cultural influences explanation.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • PG and others...

    I've provided PG's link in the post above, so you only have to click HERE in the post to access PG's find.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Rich:

    Rather curiously, names seem to sometimes be linked to the phenomena people see - as bizarre as it certainly sounds!

    I may do a paper on this one of the days.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Thank you purrlgurrl for linking to that interesting info!!

    "I vote for the cultural influences explanation." Can you expand on this? it sounds as if you are saying that young Master Barefoot was up on Cherokee mythology? or...? thanks! steph

    By Blogger tinyjunco, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Some thoughts appear to have a kind of 'shape', or 'footprint'.

    Perhaps some of this story has been cobbled together by a 'mind' that overheard conversations which, themselves, were in code?

    I am curious, however. Where do Indians 'do their business', if you know what I mean?

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • The scenario reminds me of The Cottingley Fairies

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Bruce:

    I have a great book about "fairies" which I've spent most of today looking for, amongst the book-piles here.

    When I find it, if I do, I'll look up the Cottingley pixies.

    Also, I checked out the thing you suggested.

    It's more than interesting and I'll see if I can access it via my psychology memberships.

    Thanks, very much!


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Bruce:

    The Cottingley Fairies story is very interesting as you hint.

    And the Wikipedia account superb.

    However....it isn't quite attuned to the Tonnlie Barefoot sighting.

    I think eight-year-old Tonnlie saw what he said he saw, or had an experience that made him think he saw what he said he saw.

    And Nick Redfern's suggestion that names may have some bearing on such accounts as Tonnlie's and others is a matter to pursue further.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • I agree but it is a cautionary tale. You really don't know what he saw or did not see. What would be valuable is another interview now as well as a further investigation. This is where faith and belief blur analysis. I noted that all of the comments took the account at face value. If we are ever to find the truth, this sort of thing is a anathema to objective analysis.This is noted in George Hansen's book on the trickster element in all para- psychological research. BTW..It's not about a supernatural trickster.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Ohmygawd....reference to the trickster, even as an aside?

    I will state again, that kids report, truthfully, what they see or think they've seen.

    If a joke was played on young Tonnlie, he was gulled by it, but reported what he saw, accurately I think.

    He is an adult now, and it would be interesting to track him down.

    I'll see if one of our guys might give it a try...


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths would disagree with "that kids report, truthfully, what they see or think they've seen."
    Do you have kids? You never told a fib?

    Com'on Rich I cannot believe you said that. LOL.

    One thing..all day strange anomalous experiences have occurred to my daughter myself and my wife that have us all flummoxed.
    Who knows?

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Why do I vote for cultural influences? Very simply, Native American myths can live on in a region and become part of the region's non-native folklore - cross-cultural "contamination" or "enrichment" depending on your point of view.

    I lived in an area in the Mid-West where there was a legend about a gigantic turtle living in a nearby river that had been occasionally seen by spooked locals for well over 100 years.

    When someone spotted it again the local paper ran a piece on how the tribe living in the area when it was settled by whites had a myth about turtles, which was very likely the source of the legend, which went back to the first settlers.

    Anyway, I'm pretty certain that anytime someone with knowledge of the legend and a vivid imagination caught sight of river water flowing over a large rock in certain lights and from certain angles, he jumped to the conclusion it was THAT turtle.

    And just to admit how gullible I can be, my husband and I went looking for it one weekend. Alas, all we found were your basic, terrarium-sized models.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • Bruce...


    Kids eight-years-old or thereabouts are pure as the driven snow, in my mind.

    When they tell me something, I believe them.

    Telling lies? I didn't. And my 5 and 1/2 kids -- I'll explain that 1/2 sometine -- are as honest as they can be, morally and ethically pure, as our my RRRGroup guys.

    I trust what they say, and what they esperience.

    The Barefoot boy related what he saw, and I believe him.

    If someone says that kids lie, I look at their retro-projection.

    Now I know that kids have been tainted by adults, coerced or tricked into making falsehoods, as has happened in molestation cases.

    But without adult machinations, children are free of sin in my experiences with them.

    I'm accepting the Tonnlie boy's story as valid on the face of it.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • PG:

    We have a turtle legend a stone's throw from our Fort Wayne offices.

    You aren't talking about Churubusco's Oscar are you?

    The "Busco Beast" is a real thing, is it not?

    A small town's Bigfoot or Bigshell, as the case may be.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 10, 2012  

  • On the subject of children telling tall tales, I never thought I would see the day come when the term "naive" could be applied so liberally to Rich!

    Salem, 1692-93.

    The whole point of being a kid is to have an active imagination, which involves making up stories, and make-believe worlds, and all of that stuff. Sometimes it's outright lying... and sometimes it's just kids being kids.

    But to say that no kids tell tall tales, and fib??

    Hahaha!! That's a good one, Rich. Pure comedic gold. :-)


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Well, Paul, my comments hit a nerve.

    Bruce Duensing is mad at me, and may not be commenting here anymore.

    And you think that I'm being naive.

    But my friend Jeffrey Masson, who did the monumental write-up in The New Yorker, in the 1970s, and then a book, about how Freud found out that children were being molested in numbers greater than thought, but changed his monograph to appease those who discounted his discoveries and to save Psychoanalysis, goes to the heart of how adults like to say children lie, when that isn't true.

    Children may make up things for fantasy play, but my experience has been that children do not lie, unless manipulated by adults, badgering them or impugning them in ways that force them to prevaricate.

    If you fellows think kids lie, I have to look at your psyches for thinking/believing that.

    I'm not budging on this score!

    Kid, do not lie, and that's it.

    Call it naive, but the literature shows otherwise.

    And to take a demonstative stance that children are liars makes me question all other views you fellows have.

    My young fellows (in the RRRGroup) do not lie, and my children never lied and don't to this day.

    Shame on you Paul and Bruce for making a categorical statement that children lie.

    You are both being stupid and adult by saying so.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • In the UK there were Stephen Darbishire who once fooled Prince Philip, and Alex Birch, who once fooled Air Ministry officials decades ago. They were aged 13 and 14 respectively.

    I suppose the former was 'guided' by Adamski, but in the end both were practical jokers (as opposed to being liars).

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • And you, CDA, see the blatant difference between joking around and lying.

    That Kimball and Duensing do not is intellectually disturbing to me.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Hi purrlgurrl! i was more interested in the 'how' than the 'what', but i think your comment gives me an idea of what you are positing. thanks!

    Dear Mr. RRR,

    with all due respect. I do not see how Mr. Duensing contributing long comments prevents anyone else from commenting on the same post. Presumably they had something to say right after reading said post, which is why they wanted to comment in the first place. They don't even have to read Mr. Duensing's comments if they don't feel like it (sorry Bruce!)

    Maybe the reason they don't comment is they are too busy wrapping their head around a person who believes in 'the mind', that children never never lie (what, suddenly at 18 they develop the capacity? or is it like drinking, they have to wait until 21?), yet is intellectually appalled that others may find traces of outside consciousness in various UFO reports.

    Just a thought. Have a great day! steph

    By Blogger tinyjunco, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Steph:

    Bruce is brilliant, too brilliant for this meager blog sometimes.

    His views are complex and interesting, but self-vested I'm afraid.

    But he's had a lapse, along with Paul Kimball, when it comes to children.

    Kids may make up stories or fantasies, but they do not consciously lie, unless prodded to do so by adults for nefarious reasons.

    To state categorically that children lie is a wrong-headed approach to the psychology of children, and an unintellectual stance.

    I'm prepared to lose the friendship of Kimball and Duensing over the matter.

    Kids are innocent, and to say that children are liars is something I can't abide.


    As for the age at which kids learn to lie, I don't know, but expect it's in their early teens, but not when they are five or eight or ten, unless corrupted by adults, as I keep reminding readers here.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Barefoot is a Cherokee last name.

    Also, little Tonnlie is still in NC.

    His first name is William.

    By Blogger C4ISR, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Thanks, C41SR...

    Someone will try to connect with him.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Hi RRR. First, who here 'categorically stated that children lie'? That is not my position, and i haven't seen it advanced by anyone else on this thread.

    My position - from my experience as auntie and neighbor, teacher's aide, camp counselor and sunday school teacher to numerous kids (mostly of elementary school age) - is that kids are all different. Most are pretty honest the great majority of the time.

    But 1) kids can be 'nefariously influenced by adults' to lie about abuse or to hide adultery, for instance.

    2) some kids are raised in hideously manipulative situations and become rampant liars by the age of 4 or 5.

    3) kids are not stupid and they have their own self-interest. In certain circumstances they can figure out that telling a lie might help them avoid various unwanted consequences. So they try it out.

    I am guessing that you would only disagree with me on point #3. I can only say that i've seen that process many times, in fact it seems a fairly normal part of development. The one person i knew (grew up with) who didn't try that manoeuvrer in the 3-9 years age range ended up a pathological liar in adulthood.

    go figure.

    Next thing you'll be telling us kids don't drop f-bombs. steph

    By Blogger tinyjunco, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • Steph...

    The "childen are liars" comments have not been included in the comment section here.

    I prefer to speak about the matter with my psychology colleagues in Ann Arbor, not with tyros.

    Moreover, it doesn't fit the topic here.

    Although some would like to make the point that young Tonnlie may have been lying, I'm not allowing that errant conjecture.

    When someone tells me that a child is lying about what they saw or experienced, I look at the person telling me that, and question their motivations and aspersion.

    It's best that we drop the matter, as it's a real bone of contention with me.

    Children are pure little creatures, until adults screw them up.

    That's it, as far as I'm concerned, and the matter is closed!


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • He reached for something in his pocket

    Reading over PG's link again, I ran into this sentence. It doesn't say front or back pocket.

    he seemed to be reaching for something in his back pocket, then froze, squeaked like a mouse,


    Yet in that account, we have him reaching into his BACK pocket, before freezing and squeaking like a mouse.

    He reached for something in his pocket,froze, squeaked like a mouse


    And, as you can see, in that account, the relevant pocket isn't mentioned.

    Is the pocket relevant to the story? I would say so. It's every bit as important as the color of the stream hitting the girl in her face.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Wednesday, January 11, 2012  

  • I think you're wrong, Rich, and you won't change my mind (I have friends in the "psych" world too), just as I won't change yours. No worries on my end. Contrary to rumour, I'm always happy to agree to disagree... and I've been called far worse than anything you can come up with (including by someone pointing a gun at me), so fire away. :-)


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • Thanks, Paul, you have always been a gentleman and squasher of goofy ideas.

    Two resources that I recommend for those who want to dig into the matter are: Carmichael's Two Volume Manual of Child Psychology (Ralph Mussen, Editor) [Wiley, NY, 1970] and Readings in Child Development and Personality (Second Edition) by Mussen, Conger, and Kagan [Harper & Row, NY, 1970].


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • I will add that I asked my best friend the question last night: "do you think that children lie."

    She agrees with me that they do, but she added the caveat that she doesn't think very young children, say under 5, really have the mens rea, as we lawyers would say (she's one as well), to do so. This seems reasonable to me, even based on my own recollections of childhood.

    So I guess I can meet you, if not in the middle, then a few feet closer to the center. :-)


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • Nobody lies.
    They merely tell "terminological inexactitudes".
    So said a guy called Winston Churchill I believe. Or was it someone else?

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • Cute, CDA, cute...


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • I was attempting to keep you on topic in the example of the "Cottingley Fairies" where, as adults, there was an admittance that they fabricated the evidence as children, in order to prove the fairies existence to adults. Your definition of what constitutes a child was non existent. The legal definition is generally 18. According to two close friends I have who are in the psychiatric profession, children do lie and it is learned by observation, of course, from adults who fabricate to avoid the truth and \or consequences of the truth.
    Another cause to get the attention from care givers when children are not given this critical attention, as well as emotional dysfunctions that occur in the family unit, or worse, the result of emotional or physical abuse.
    In making such a pronouncement as you did, closing off further discussion, and inferring that my own children lie because I said the episode cited was an example of this..fabrication, that was uncalled for.
    I am not brilliant and one thing we do share is being somewhat relentless, leaving no stone unturned in this phenomenon, which I admire about you.
    We both got our pet corns stepped on. I am not "mad" as I am frustrated when you shoot from the hip.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • BTW..if you publish my latest comment is none of my business. I Also, I am still having difficulties with the loss of my son so my nerves are somewhat raw when it comes to my kids.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • Bruce...

    You really misread me I think.

    Nowhere did I imply that your children lied to you.

    Check my comment(s) again.

    I may be snarky but I'm not callous
    or insensitive to your situation (about your son and family).

    Maybe my comments were abstruse.

    I was writing that persons who think children lie, are retro-projecting; that is remembering that they lied when a child or believe they did.

    CDA has it right.

    Kids will make up stories but there is no malevolence in their hearts, even when coerced by adults to prevaricate.

    Forgive any slight on my part, if that's what you perceived.

    It was not intentional, I can assure you.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, January 12, 2012  

  • To bring closure what threw me is
    "if someone says that kids lie, I look at their retro-projection."
    For me the matter is closed.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, January 13, 2012  

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