UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

UFOs, Then and Now?

What Kenneth Arnold saw:



What some people see today and think is a UFO:

14 Comments:

  • ...nice aviation pics, but must I rise up out of my grave to disagree???

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Thursday, March 29, 2012  

  • No, Kurt....feel free to disagree as much as you wish to.

    That was the point of the posting.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, March 29, 2012  

  • Alexander Mebane of New York's Civilian Saucer Intelligence, an early no-nonsense, fact-oriented "UFO" report investigation group, has said Arnold's story was a Palmer-engineered FATE promotion hoax; cyberpunk science-fiction writer John Shirley arrived at the same conclusion independently--as did this "UFO" debunker. I had heard Klass's meteors explanation, Kottmeyer's swans and Easton's reinterpretation of it as pelicans. All well intended certainly but all too literal when there is a much better explanation that considers all of the evidence and in its proper historical context.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Friday, March 30, 2012  

  • Zoamchomsky - That's a very intriguing theory, and a not implausible one, but I wonder were Palmer and Arnold known to one-another prior to the sighting? Is there any evidence to suggest a relationship between the two men prior to Palmer sending Arnold to investigate the Maury Island incident?

    By Blogger Tristan Eldritch, at Friday, March 30, 2012  

  • I believe the Arnold hoax idea was proposed soon after Arnold's death (in 1984). Nobody thought to suggest this while he was alive. Draw your own conclusions.

    Palmer did know Fred Crisman for some years before 1947, but he did not know, or know of, Arnold, until Arnold's sighting hit the newspapers.

    Unless, of course, someone can show otherwise.

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, March 31, 2012  

  • Tristan; Thank you, and of course that's the problem with the Palmer-Arnold hoax idea. It's more than a little curious that businessman Arnold would suddenly be in Palmer's employ immediately after his flying-saucer report.

    It would be difficult to prove but a very good circumstantial case can be made. See the relevant sections of Carl Sagan's DHW, psychologist Robert Bartholomew's UFOs on the parallel between the airship and flying-saucer manias--both the products of media hoaxes, and other rational, psychosocial accounts of the origin of the "UFO" collective delusion.

    Writer John Keel's article "The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers" makes the case, crediting Ray Palmer with the creation of flying-saucer mania, bootstrapping on the Shaver Mystery sensation he had created in AMAZING Stories magazine. In lively AMAZING/Shaver Mystery fan discussion forums, editor Palmer promoted the paranoid "hidden world" mythology created in the stories of writer Richard Shaver as really existing inside the Earth. Soon after the 1945 publication of "I Remember Lemuria" (and the detonations of atomic bombs) the once nearly defunct ZD pulp suddenly had thousands of readers. Ray Palmer would credit Shaver with inventing the idea of flying saucers, but it was Palmer who was obviously the master of this sort of yellow journalism that brought Shaver's insane idea to the world--just as fanciful newspaper hoaxes had been responsible for various airship manias.

    The smoking gun here is the second of the Palmer hoaxes, the so-called Maury Island Mystery. Palmer sent Ken Arnold--now in Palmer's employ if he wasn't already--to investigate Fred Crisman's amazing story of a malfunctioning flying disk spewing radioactive slag and aircraft aluminum, followed by warnings from mysterious non-human men in black to keep silent about what he had seen. But Crisman was a Shaver Mystery fan who had corresponded with Palmer and at least one of his letters--claiming experience in the "hidden world"--had been published in AMAZING. Crisman wasn't keeping quiet of course, he was doing exactly the opposite: feeding flying-saucer hysteria in anticipation of FATE's Spring 1948 premier issue.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, March 31, 2012  

  • "...before 1947, [Palmer] did not know, or know of, Arnold, until Arnold's sighting hit the newspapers. Unless, of course, someone can show otherwise."
    Dear cda; We don't really know that as a fact one way or the other, do we? But my deduction about that one data point, given what we do know about the two men and the historical context of the purported event, is that they did and it was a calculated hoax. So it's not innocent until proven guilty, it's guilty by the weight of circumstantial evidence.
    Or are we to believe editor Palmer and businessman Arnold were total strangers who formed an instant bond in the promotion of flying-saucer hysteria that profited them through book and magazine sales and public appearances for the next two decades?
    And while some "UFO" reports can be reduced to facts, others can only be explained by their relative plausibility. So what is the most likely explanation for Arnold's varying and frankly implausible account of seeing a formation of nine guided missiles, planes or jets, meteors, swans or pelicans, or a dozen other IDs, each as large as a twin turboprop but impossibly thin, fast but fluttering like the tail of a kite or a saucer skipping across water?
    I think the most plausible explanation is that there is no literal truth to Arnold's tall tale, technical-sounding in its presentation of time, distance, size estimates and calculations but utterly lacking in evidence and without consequence in the world. Military experts dismissed the story as implausible; and a writer who was an adult then has told me he knew Arnold's story was baloney when he heard it: It was all about selling magazines.
    Arnold later reported seeing a group of small brass-colored objects at close range. But like his direct Shaver-mystery connection and Arnold's participation in and continued public-appearance promotion of the fatal Maury Island fiasco, "UFO" myth-makers would rather ignore the revealing fact that Arnold was a repeater, which diminishes his credibility. The FBI accused Palmer and Arnold of cooking up flying-saucer hysteria.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Sunday, April 01, 2012  

  • Zoamchomsky:

    If you look in the book THE COMING OF THE SAUCERS by Arnold & Palmer, in chap 1 Arnold tells how while going through his mail in mid-July he came across a letter from a Mr. Raymond A. Palmer written on the stationery of the Venture Press.

    Arnold says: "I didn't know who Raymond Palmer was and I had never heard of the Venture Press. At the time, had I known who he was, I probably wouldn't have answered his letter".

    This indicates Arnold was sincere in this respect (unless you believe he was lying), and Palmer was indeed a stanger to him, certainly at the time of his sighting.

    Of course, what transpired between them AFTER mid-July is open to speculation, as is the whole Crisman-Palmer Maury Island affair as well.

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, April 05, 2012  

  • cda writes: "THE COMING OF THE SAUCERS by Arnold & Palmer"

    Was published in 1952, that's five years after the fact. And if Arnold had been merely Palmer's tool in his FATE promotion hoax--as the weight of evidence indicates--then what would one expect the two hoaxsters to claim--and even if such a letter existed?

    It was Arnold who was most responsible for the dissemination of his story, telling his fantastic story to anyone who would listen: first at his home airport, then an airshow, then to a newspaper office, then Army Air Force intelligence, then in a telegram to the FBI. And it was Arnold who publicly speculated to reporters in the first fews days about earthly advanced technology and then extraterrestrial visitors as possible identities for his flashing, fluttering, flipping, erratically flying, thin, fast, saucer-like pie-plate unknowns.

    And then Arnold had the gall to complain that he hadn't had a moment's rest that week! Why, of course not, he was busy promoting "flying saucer" hysteria--which was his job, a job he continued to do in partnership with publisher Palmer for the next two decades.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Friday, April 06, 2012  

  • I don't want to prolong this too much but I am positive that Arnold & Palmer did not know each other before Palmer first wrote to him in mid-July.

    There is an FBI file on the Maury Island affair. In it is printed a photostat in reverse (white on black) of a second letter Palmer sent Arnold, dated July 22.

    The first two paragraphs are:

    "Dear Mr Arnold,
    Quite obviously you have been ribbed so much you'd like to forget your flying saucers - but I'd sure like to have your personal story, your photo, pic of your plane, etc, as I asked before. And you won't be made to look silly because there's more to this than the newspapers and the 'experts' have made of it.

    Besides the article, I have another proposition. You seem to get around quite a bit, and if you can make a trip to Tacoma, Washington at all feasible, I'd be willing to pay expenses plus a nice amount to make it worth your while".

    Palmer then talks about the Maury Island saucers.

    The letter is genuine and certain identifiers (i.e. the names Dahl and Criasman) are redacted. It is inconceivable that Palmer would have written a letter worded in this way if he already knew Arnold. Therefore I maintain the two men did NOT know each other and had never even heard of each other, until that Arnold sighting hit the press.

    From this I conclude the sighting was not a hoax concocted by the two of them, although I agree it is still just possible that Arnold invented the sighting himself and overplayed it for the next few days. But collaboration with Palmer - no way!

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, April 07, 2012  

  • cda writes: "I don't want to prolong this too much but I am positive that Arnold & Palmer did not know each other before Palmer first wrote to him in mid-July."

    As I said, cda, there's no way to know as fact, but the weight of circumstantial evidence suggests that Palmer and Arnold did know one another before June 24 and it was all a calculated hoax. And, as I also said, any letter is not going to prove that did not already know each other, in fact, it could be interpreted as evidence that they did. Please consider all the evidence presented already, and that if the two men are hoaxsters, whose ultimate goal is to promote a new magazine, then the letter could have been merely a small part of their elaborate hoax in a lengthy promotion campaign. It's called plausible deniability, necessarily in the form of a document. It's not as if Palmer and Arnold didn't have telephones in 1947. Let's not underestimate the mind of Ray Palmer, the main thrust of his new FATE magazine in the making was to promote the paranormal world as reality.

    Instructive in this case might be the promotion of the "Mothman" by John Keel, Gray Barker and James Moseley. Keel had a contract to write a "flying saucer" book and enlisted friends Barker and Moseley to spook up his "investigative" trip to West Virginia, They created seemingly strange events and gave Keel something to write about in an otherworldly "flying saucer" context. These three men knew the "flying saucer" was just a publishing business device created to sell magazines; remember, it was John Keel who credited Palmer with inventing "flying saucers."

    "It is inconceivable that Palmer would have written a letter worded in this way if he already knew Arnold." [It's completely conceivable if it's part of a hoax.] "Arnold invented the sighting himself...."

    Let's not overestimate Arnold, the former high-school football star and attention-seeking, flying fire-extinguisher salesman turned pitchman of Amazing Stories publishing genius and science-fiction writer and editor Ray Palmer, the man who invented "flying saucers."

    "But collaboration with Palmer - no way!"

    But collaborate for the next two decades or so they did. All things considered, it's frankly hard to believe they didn't know each other before June 24. In law, science, inductive logic, and in everyday good sense, we make conclusions based on all the evidence, and I submit that the scenario I've described is the most plausible for the event under consideration: In an historical context, Arnold's "flying saucer" fairy tale amounts to nothing more than a Palmer-engineered FATE magazine promotion HOAX.

    FATE's Spring 1947 first issue cover featured Arnold and "flying saucers." Are we to believe this was mere publishing coincidence, an amazing bit of luck for publisher Palmer? That his fantastic DERO's "saucers" were suddenly real by mere happenstance? ... No way, that would be inconceivable.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, April 07, 2012  

  • Your dates are wrong.

    FATE first appeared in spring 1948, not 1947. It contained the article Palmer had requested from Arnold the previous summer, i.e. the story of Arnold's sighting.

    Martin Gardner in his "THE NEW AGE, Notes of a fringe watcher", also relates how Palmer first contacted Arnold , saying how "he lost no time getting in touch with Arnold and requesting an article for FATE". This was a natural follow-up by Palmer to a strange story to add to his collection from years past.

    It will be impossible to finally resolve this debate now, but I maintain my evidence against Arnold & Palmer knowing (or even having heard of) each other prior to June 24 is better than your claims that they did. You would have to show, via some documentation or letters/articles, that they had communicated with each other before June 24. Had they?

    By Blogger cda, at Saturday, April 07, 2012  

  • cda writes: "FATE first appeared in spring 1948, not 1947."

    Yes, I think we all know that since Arnold would hardly have been on the cover before his June 1947 HOAX. Excuse my typo.

    "Martin Gardner in his "THE NEW AGE, Notes of a fringe watcher", also relates how Palmer first contacted Arnold , saying how "he lost no time getting in touch with Arnold and requesting an article for FATE". This was a natural follow-up by Palmer to a strange story to add to his collection from years past."

    Then Martin Gardner accepted the conventional account at face value, didn't he? He wasn't concentrating on advancing a better--even if circumstantial--account for the origin of the modern "flying saucer" myth and "UFO" collective delusion.

    It's a case that needs to be made even if it can't be proven. The conventional account is simply too credulous, too convenient since, as I said, the main thrust of Palmer's new FATE magazine in the making was to promote the paranormal world as reality.

    "my evidence against Arnold & Palmer knowing (or even having heard of) each other prior to June 24 is better than your claims that they did."

    As I also said, your interpretation of Palmer's letter is exactly what the known trickster and cosmic conspiracy myth-maker wanted the world to believe, but we've seen much more real-world evidence in its proper historical context to the contrary. It's an admittedly circumstantial case, but one advanced by skeptical others who know the subject well.

    Tell us, cda, aren't you just a little skeptical of the conventional account now? Hmmm?

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, April 07, 2012  

  • No further comment on Messrs Palmer or Arnold.

    I will pop you one last question:
    Have you ever visited the village of Portmeirion in North Wales?

    Have you ever heard of the place?

    By Blogger cda, at Sunday, April 08, 2012  

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