UFO Conjecture(s)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

UFO Witness Testimony: True or False?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

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The Michalak UFO encounter at Falcon Lake, Canada in 1967, noted earlier here, has dubious value for some of you.

I think it has a patina of authenticity.

Speculating about witness testimony creates all kinds of amateur opinion and brings forth shards of erroneous information from the internet.

However, witness testimony is often, or usually, all that we have when it comes to UFOs.

When someone or a few people report a strange light in the night sky or a strange object in the daytime sky, one can equate the observations with misperceptions of mundane things or one can catalog the observations for what they are: strange lights or objects seen my normal people with normal or near-normal eyesight.

And that’s it. Nothing more can be done with such observations.

Our foray into witness testimony from Roswellians always causes a ripple of contention and debate.

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But Roswell’s witnesses, for the most part, didn’t see a UFO, in the sky or on the ground.

Some said they held pieces of “metal” that behaved oddly when toyed with.

Some said they saw a field of debris that was different from what they normally saw in the deserts and farms around Roswell.

Some even said they saw bodies of entities, in the desert, in hangars, and other venues.

But no one saw a UFO or flying saucer, and all the testimony about bodies and strange metal fragments came forth in the late 1970s and early 1980s after some UFO hobbyists started poking around, culling testimony that is besmirched by flawed questioning and psychological projections by the hobbyists.

So Roswell isn’t a platform from which worthwhile UFO testimony can be gotten or evaluated.

Roswell is a potpourri of maltreated memories and contrived imaginings better left to psychiatry and sociologists.

But there are many other UFO-related encounters, like that of Stefan Michalak, or Lonnie Zamora, the police officer who came across a unique craft and attending entities.

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There are dozens, hundreds even, of accounts where people have seen something that has come to be defined as a flying saucer, and many of those accounts include entities that rival creatures from fiction.

UFO books and the internet are replete with such accounts.

But what are we to make of such accounts?

I think that what has been presented by those who’ve experienced encounters with craft and creatures are as they have been recounted, caveated by the personal peccadilloes of observation that plague human beings.

But those peccadilloes are minor, and the over all experiences provided are essentially as they are described.

Michalak encountered a machine that caused him some physical pain and markings.

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The 1959 Father Gill sighting in Papua, New Guinea is what it is: a sighting by an Anglican priest and his mission staff and members of a object that floated above them, from which entities waved or interacted with the observers.

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The sighting may be ascribed to a kind of mass hysteria, but it makes more sense to allow it to be as it was recounted, without the psychological overlay.

The following accounts are detailed in John Spencer’s World Atlas of UFOs; Sightings, Abductions, and Close Encounters [SMITHMARK Publishers, NY, 1992]

The 1979 Mindalore Quezet “abduction” was what it was: a experience of a mother (Meagan) and son (Andre) who, under hypnosis, elaborated on a sighting of this object and its occupants:

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Was there an Oedipal element that explains the sighting? Perhaps. Or it was as it later was remembered. (More of this, upcoming.)

The 1970 Imjärvi, Finland encounter, in which two young fellows (Aarno Heinonen and Esko Viljo), while skiing, spotted a saucer-like craft that shot a beam of light to the ground near them, from which a short humanoid creature emerged, wearing a helmet, and glowing like “phosphorous.”

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The being held a black box that emitted a light that struck the young men, creating a mist, that beclouded the creature, and the beam of light that went back up into the craft, taking the little being with it.

One of the boys, Aarno, was partially paralyzed, and both fellows had symptoms similar to radioactive poisoning.

(Aarno went on to have other sightings and encounters with space women and men. He became a kind of contactee.)

Did these young men actually have the experience they reported? Their after-event symptoms indicate that something happened, but like Mr. Michalak’s encounter, exactly what?

The 1979 Taylor encounter in Livingston, Scotland, detailed here in an much earlier blog posting,
fascinates me.

Sixty-one year-old Robert Taylor was a forester who, while inspecting some new trees, was confronted by a globular object from which emerged to spiked spheres that grabbed Mr. Taylor by the legs, dragging him toward the large, globular object.

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Mr. Taylor lost consciousness, but awoke disheveled and unable to stand comfortably. His truck was mired in mud and he had to walk home.

He suffered a headache for some hours after the incident and had a inordinate thirst that lasted for two days.

His heavy blue serge trousers were torn, ostensibly from the spikes on the spheres that grabbed him.

Mr. Taylor had an unsullied reputation in his community and BUFORA, a British UFO investigative group, found ground traces that seemed to confirm Mr. Taylor’s account.

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Did Mr. Taylor concoct his story? Why?

Like Mr. Michalak, Lonnie Zamora, Reverend Gill, and the others noted here, what would be the motive, the reason for such bizarre contrivances?

Did each of these people misperceive a mundane event? Unlikely. Misperceptions with such similarities would create a category of hallucinations that would throw psychiatry in to a dither.

Are each of these encounters, of which there are many, many more, neurological quirks? Again, a neurological etiology would force neurologists to establish a mental substrate that lies outside the sensate reality humans work within, or misconstrue.

Are such stories evidence of Jose Caravaca’s Distortion hypothesis or Jacque Vallee’s ethereal others explanation?

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Perhaps. But that would mean something is intertwined with humanity to the exclusion of any other kind of rational reality; that is, something or some presence is fixated on inserting experiences in the minds of common folk, and to what end?

But does the idea that alien visitors are engaged in such foolery make any more sense?

What we are left with is the question of witness testimony.

Is it as it is recounted? I think it is. But I have no idea what it means, nor do I have any inkling of an explanation.

While memory over time fades and/or confabulates, these encounters were reported in situ and do not have the flaw of time to corrupt the descriptions.

What was said to have happened happened.

Now where does that take us I keep asking…

RR

18 Comments:

  • What is measurable and what is not?
    The scientific panels from a variety of countries has studied and continues to study the results of instrumentation at Hessdalen.
    Dr Persinger is studying the neurobiology of distortion.
    Witnesses are only as valuable as their accounts can be collaborated by evidence that backs up their accounts. There is no end run around this. Otherwise we have a relativity issue that further distorts analysis. None of this research is sexy or titillating. The witness accounts? Provocative?
    Yes. Useful? If they can be collaborated in some manner in degrees. The issue is face value.
    If face value is the be all and end all of analysis, why bother with analysis?

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • One UFO case I know a little bit about and that's the Zamora case. Under highly unusual circumstances, I'm convinced he was an excellent witness.

    I know there has been some back-and-forth regarding pilots as UFO witnesses, with James Oberg making the point that because more pilot UFO cases are explained than ground-based witnesses, pilots really aren't very good witnesses. My point is the opposite . . . that pilot UFO cases are explained at a higher rate demonstrates they do make better witnesses because they give accurate details that allow the UFO to be identified.

    From personal experience, seeing something in the sky you can't explain sticks with you even if it isn't an ET vehicle.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • Interesting indeed. All these cases differ in various ways, too numerous to give here.

    The easy answer is of course to say they all represent ET craft and their kindly (or not so kindly) occupants, as the case may be.

    You did know, I expect, that Rev Gill and his group of native followers saw their apparition in much the same position in the sky on 3 CONSECUTIVE EVENINGS. (The 'beings' were not seen on the third evening as the UFO was more distant). And moreover, Rev Gill once went in to dinner whilst the ship was still hovering in the sky above the mission station!

    That last bit takes some beating, but you can draw your own conclusions.

    Nobody will ever be able to explain all of these. Nor can we possibly just assume they are all alike; they are not. As I say, the easy 'way out' is that every one is a manifestation of ETs.

    One slight problem (a lot more than 'slight'): There are no such things as ETs known to science. And none of these cases provides one solitary scrap of physical evidence to take away and analyse. The result is - deadlock.

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • Cool..."peccadillo" -I get a vocabulary upgrade everytime I attend class here :)

    Nice article. I enjoyed reading it very much. Unlike an accident scene, there is nothing left to ponder for investigators, usually.

    It is the uncanny nature of these various episodes that wreak havock on our senses. It is also one of the reasons I don't abide by, but understand the use of hypnosis to attempt recovery. We have all seen the "for fun" demonstrations of brain disconnect, which occur upon viewing something completely out of the norm. We are told to watch for the blue guy, or the red guy, and in the middle of it all a guy in a Gorilla suit jaunts by, and we don't even see him.

    It is how we are wired.

    These "entities" seem to know this, and exploit it to the maximum, making it nearly impossible to grasp much, if any useful data from the experience.

    By Blogger Bob Koford, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • CDA:
    "(not)one solitary scrap of physical evidence to take away and analyse"

    Not ONE scrap? There have been "scraps" in some alleged UFO cases and there has been some "analysis"...although it has hardly been conclusive of interplanatery visitors. At Socorro there were 8 imprints in the ground and smoke from a bush that was burned. At Rendelesham, there were broken tree branches and abnormal radiation readings at the alleged landing site. In the Florida Scoutmaster case of August, 1952, the Air Force determined that the grass roots (not the grass itself) were charred where an alleged UFO had hovered; grass roots were normal outside the landing area. The hundreds of "trace" cases provide scraps of physical evidence; they are either all hoaxed or "some THING" (some physical thing with mass) came down from the sky and made impressions in the ground or strange swirls in grass.

    Now when we combine these scraps with radar and thousands of eyewitness accounts, a reasonable inference (not definitive proof) is that we are dealing with something strange. Exactly what is yet to be determined.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • For whatever reason your articles often parallel my own current thoughts and questions. Perhaps it’s because the subject matter is so limited and speculative? I can only guess.

    Just today, I’ve been wondering about the same question of witnesses and their motivations for reporting their alleged sightings. Credibility and their psychological make-up can only be intuited when the reports are purely experiential and lacking the details that allow for informed judgements. This is often where our own psychological make-up comes into play as we give weight to some accounts, dismiss others and suspend judgement on the remainder.

    These traits are evident in the approach the various commentators and researchers take and at what point they draw their lines in the sand.

    For some, they entertain ideas of crashing spaceships and dismiss accounts of humanoid encounters. Others argue for the reality of UFO reports throughout history and, likewise, can’t accept the idea that an unknown technology might interact with people. Black tech, Russian rockets, hoaxers and plain disbelief vie for the answers alongside a spectrum of believers…

    I guess we see in the reports what we want to see?

    ‘Is it as it is recounted? I think it is. But I have no idea what it means, nor do I have any inkling of an explanation….What was said to have happened happened. Now where does that take us I keep asking…’

    I think it takes us no further than what we are prepared, or able, to imagine. What makes it interesting is that so many reports came in during particular years and barely existed on either side of those chronological periods.

    The cultural stimuli for UFO sightings and humanoid encounter reports should be as extant now as they were back in the ‘50s and through to the ‘70s. We’re saturated with the same sci-fi movies, political unrest and psychological disorders as they were. Per percentage of the population, is there any reason to accept the idea that hoaxers are fewer today than then? Are rural folk less likely today to confabulate exotic tales of encounters with aerial phenomena and/or bizarre beings? Were people more prone to being startled by a particularly bright Venus?

    Witness testimony is often flawed and unreliable and yet the way it has spanned social classes, politics and borders makes it a subject worthy of discussion and investigation.

    A lot of psychological studies set out to badge and tag witnesses and *believers* with disordered mental processes. Some of the players and witnesses are evidently screwed in the head, but I think a small residue remains that no satisfactory, reasonable explanations can account for.


    Brevity has escaped me in this reply...

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • "What we are left with is the question of witness testimony"

    Due to the passages of time, some, if not most witness testimony, is relayed second and third hand which further increases the possibility of "corruption" of the original meaning and intent of the witness.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • I don't consider these as true physical evidence, i.e. hardware. True, they are traces (of some sort), what you might call 'fingerprints', but not actual bits from the craft or parts of the craft itself.

    Wilbert Smith claimed to have seen certain bits of hardware, but can we believe anything he said?

    Adamski did as well, but.....

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • One of the issues is that over the course of time, there is seen a limited set of choices in superimposing meaning on witness testimony, all of which become wearying, stereotyped and the ammunition of pointless and circular debates over issues that lack substance beyond their intrinsic innuendo.Maybe this is a sort of sweeping under the rug, back-filling by postures.
    In terms of this phenomenon we remain in the realm of folklore, a sort of per-scientific dark age, of rumors, things seen in the wood, accounts that range from the sincere to the psychotic.
    It is fodder to pass the time, to imagine what we dont know, to play a guessing game away from the humdrum when the humdrum has become increasingly toxic in terms of the world situation.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • (Part two)
    Remember when we were kids and played with toys? Maybe the universe has given us a toy, albeit an extraordinary one. We would take our toys and imagine, escape into a world of endless possibilities. After all these years, I wonder how many toys there are in the toy box. We might be the toys.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • I enjoy this blog and it's refreshing perspective, but I have to ask about the recurring use of Freudian concepts as possible influences on the sightings? Isn't Freudian theory and symbolism pretty much discarded these days?

    By Blogger Peter, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • Except for questionable testimony in some cases, the witnesses are describing what they believe to be true (emphasis on the word "believe"), so they're not lying or confabulating.

    But, the question is, "What is the objective truth of what they experienced?" I suspect it varies from witness to witness based on a laundry list of factors.

    Mr. Taylor sounds as though he suffered some type of seizure. The prodigious thirst makes one wonder. This can be associated with a seizure. But nobody documented his general health, either physical or mental. And since "traces" can mean anything and everything to overzealous UFO enthusiasts, the possibility of a seizure has to be considered for this case.

    This is why it's important the witness be the focus of research, not the sighting. Once the witness is "cleared" (and not just with, "he's a good family man and a volunteer soccer coach", from his neighbor) then his account takes on weight and the sighting can be considered a true unknown.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Saturday, January 21, 2012  

  • Peter:

    While some of Freud's ideas are ignored nowadays, many are receiving a resurgence in the psychiatric and academic communities.

    Psychiatry's use of drugs instead of Freudian methodology took a toll, but Freud's views about the sexual underpinnings of human behavior have made a big come-back in intellectual circles.

    We'll provide more about this, upcoming, here or at one of our more appropriate blogs.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, January 22, 2012  

  • PG:

    If you read the case and note the details, instead of our superficial presentation here, you'd be hard put to attribute his account to a seizure or something else physiological.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, January 22, 2012  

  • (pt.1)
    @Frank,
    IMO, your post clearly demonstrates, with logical precision I might add, what an "industry standard" two way, technically facilitated, well organized and executed UFO analysis operation can and does successfully accomplish. Wherein the exacting quality of trained witness testimony, responding in conjunction with adequate instrumentation and monitoring, do in fact successfully explain a majority of cases. This is a GOOD thing, because when it comes to the cases that are not explained, it's only logical to assume that their lack of explanation has been just as critically analyzed while determining said objects to be of an, as yet "no determinable origin" class with respect to a responsible human control agent. Yet the summing of analysis do in fact represent a legitimate capitulated study wherein said unknowns are classified as observable objects obeying characteristics of known physical law para our present best (known) understanding.

    In the best of my estimation, the key to understanding the UFO phenomena lay in the same direction of mapping an accurately determined origin via real time interpretive consciousness modeling. It's our perception of UFO events, both personal and reflectively, that hinder their explanation when said anomalies cross our sentient pathways. That's why I am such an ardent proponent of legitimate, medically instituted and facilitated, UFO abduction research. Not that the two experiences are identical or directly related as a precept, but rather to study the brain's interpretive activity *AS* it's facility is hosting the event behind our reality filter (brain), in hopes of better substantiating a possible direct connection to pre filtered raw consciousness. If we can do as much, it's very likely that we can determine precisely where, and more importantly how the UFO puppet mastery plays out above the stage of memory based reality formation.

    By Blogger Jeff Davis, at Sunday, January 22, 2012  

  • (Pt.2)
    It seems that in particular some of the recent insights based on cutting edge real time brain monitoring studies point to the memory as fundamentally proceeding consciousness rather than acting as a mere reference within it. Not so much a filing system, but rather a reality frame work that accepts or denies formulated reality. Consciousness itself does not appear to be a direct product of the brain as much as the brain seems to act on an ever present consciousness stream as a refining mechanism.

    The more acute and capable the witness, backed up with real time environmental instrumentation, the more likely the event can accurately be mapped to the true origin of the experience as it plays out within pre filtered raw consciousness.

    Presently, my single greatest embedded internal quandary is a speculation involving the notion of whether UFOs have the ability to enter and navigate our internal raw consciousness stream, in such a sense that reality's contextual recall is the literal dimensional environment they navigate, or whether UFOs actually physically come and go from our native spacetime in ways we might hypothetically imagine on a more science fiction "like" theatrical stage much like a perceptual equivalent to A.C. Clarke's "magic" technology observation.

    One thing that REALLY gets me thinking in relation to this case and many others is the physical sulfur smell that was experienced. This is such a common link in close UFO encounters ranging from the very earliest reports right up to one I just read about yesterday.

    I agree with Rich right down the middle on this one. Incidentally Rich, killer weekend post as usual, but this one Sir, this post sets what might be the most important "theatrical stage" I've yet encountered first person at the UFOI think tank. IMO, when it comes to the UFO phenomena, this is directionally speaking where the true intellectual rubber meets the road to an accurate determination process for what may be a real and final revelation of the UFO "means" to an understanding.

    This like so many other accounts where people's lives basically went in the toilet post reporting their UFO encounter, has an undeniable resonance of truth contained within it. I honestly feel convicted to uphold such an unfortunate victim as simply being in the wrong place at the right time. IMO, this account was accurately recalled and described by the witness.

    For a relative philosophically charged scientific perspective, please resource a man whom I accredit FAR beyond myself thankfully, with an acute legitimacy of profile, intellect, and accomplishment, namely Bernardo Kastrup: http://www.bernardokastrup.com/

    By Blogger Jeff Davis, at Sunday, January 22, 2012  

  • @ PG - 'But nobody documented his general health, either physical or mental.'

    Usually this would be the case, but with Taylor, his doctor went on record saying he had no history of seizures or mental aberration.

    He lived in a small community whereby doctor and local police officer had called round within hours - the same day.

    Sure, it could be all bluff and blunder and yet it remains a compelling witness testimony due to the swift verification of reliable professionals and his good character.

    Maybe I'm brave or foolish? Taylor's account is one that doesn't suggest hoax and remains unexplained to my satisfaction.

    There's a good documentary with an abstract title most would miss in a google search - 'The West Lothian Question' - www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOuKl1ze51c

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, January 22, 2012  

  • seen this information alot and it can always be accounted for. Humans are not perfect, and niether is information that cant be proved.

    By Blogger James Glen Clark, at Thursday, January 26, 2012  

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