UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A UFO Encounter Explained? (No, not Socorro)


Robert Taylor on the morning of November 9, 1979 had a bizarre experience, that we’ve re-covered here (and elsewhere) a few times now.

Googling Robert Taylor’s 1979 UFO event will bring up our blog accounts and others.

But here’s the gist of the story from Wikipedia:

On November 9, 1979, approximately between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Taylor, who was at the time working for the Livingston Development Corporation, parked his pickup truck at the side of a road just off the M8 motorway with the intention of examining the progress of some saplings in the forest. Being unable to access the forest by truck, Taylor and his dog made their way into the forest on foot along one of the forest paths that lead up the side of Dechmont Law.

Upon entering a clearing approximately 500 metres away from his truck, Taylor saw what he described as a large, circular object, spheroid in shape and approximately twenty feet (six metres) in diameter hovering above the forest floor. The object had a narrow rim running along its circumference with stems topped with propellers and the surface of the object seemed to be constructed from a dark metallic material which appeared transparent in places. Taylor later described the surface of the object having rough texture similar to that of sandpaper and suggested that by having transparent areas on its surface, the object was attempting to camouflage itself with its surroundings.

Taylor began to approach the object and upon doing so two smaller spheres three feet in diameter, which looked to be made from the same material, appeared to drop from underneath the larger sphere and began to roll towards him. Taylor described the smaller spheres as having appendages, making them similar to sea mines in appearance. As the small objects moved towards him, Taylor described them as making a "plopping" noise as the appendages made contact with the ground. The small spheres maneuvered around Taylor and by using their appendages, attached themselves to each side of his trousers, just underneath the pockets. Taylor said at this point, he heard a hissing noise coming from the small objects and he began to choke due to a strong acrid smell which he believes was being secreted by them. He described this smell as "burning automobile brake linings" which was also described as an "acrid smell" which caused him to cough. By now, Taylor was aware he was being dragged by the smaller spheres along the ground towards the larger object. He eventually fell forwards onto his face and lost consciousness.

Taylor later regained consciousness and upon doing so discovered the object had disappeared. Taylor then discovered he had trouble attempting to speak and could not get to his feet. He then crawled 100 metres along the ground and managed to stagger the rest of the distance back to where he had parked his truck. On reaching the truck he attempted to call for help on the truck's two way radio, but struggled due to his loss of voice. Taylor then attempted to get back home in the truck, but accidentally ditched it in soft earth while trying to drive in his condition. Due to his vehicle being stuck, Taylor walked the rest of the way back home. Other sources state the truck did not start and Taylor had to walk home from its parked location.

On August 13th, 2012 the Edinburgh Evening News presented this explanation for the Taylor experience:

The mystery of what happened to Robert Taylor on the morning of November 9, 1979, is one of the longest standing in the history of ufology.

Now a Livingston resident has claimed he has the definitive explanation of what really happened during the incident – known by UFO hunters as the Dechmont Woods Encounter.

The case has seen theories ranging from a fit-inducing mirage of Venus to magic mushrooms put forward to explain the story of strange craft and robotic beings which “attacked” and knocked unconscious the 61-year-old Livingston Development Corporation worker on Dechmont Law in West Lothian.

Local detectives even joined the investigation after Mr Taylor’s legs were found to be grazed and his trousers torn.

In a new book, however, John Alison, 54, a self-employed businessman, argues that Mr Taylor’s alien assault encounter was actually the result of a mini-stroke or “Transient Ischaemic Attack.”

Here’s what Wikipedia has on such mini-strokes (Transient Ischaemic Attacks):

A transient ischemic attack (spelled ischaemic in British English) -- (abbreviated as TIA, often referred to as mini stroke) is a transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by ischemia (loss of blood flow) – either focal brain, spinal cord or retinal – without acute infarction (tissue death). TIAs share the same underlying etiology (cause) as strokes: a disruption of cerebral blood flow (CBF). TIAs and strokes cause the same symptoms, such as contralateral paralysis (opposite side of body from affected brain hemisphere) or sudden weakness or numbness. A TIA may cause sudden dimming or loss of vision:Amaurosis_fugax ; aphasia, slurred speech and mental confusion. But unlike a stroke, the symptoms of a TIA can resolve within a few minutes or 24 hours. Brain injury may still occur in a TIA lasting only a few minutes. Having a TIA is a risk factor for eventually having a stroke or a silent stroke. A silent stroke or silent cerebral infarct (SCI) differs from a TIA in that there are no immediately observable symptoms. A SCI may still cause long lasting neurological dysfunction affecting such areas as mood, personality and cognition. A SCI often occurs before or after a TIA or major stroke.

Does a mini-stroke really provide a resolution to the bizarre account that Mr. Taylor related?

It’s a good guess, and may be correct, as an explanation, but it doesn’t really account for Mr. Taylor’s ripped, soiled pants – ostensibly from the small spheres grabbing him and dragging him along the ground.

And Mr. Alison’s reports this (in the newspaper piece):

“About two hundred yards away from where the encounter was claimed to have occurred, there’s a dome-shaped fresh water reservoir tower built in the late 1950s that still serves as a fresh water reservoir to this day.

“This construction matches the description of the UFO given by Robert Taylor. It features a large grey dome with a flange sitting on top of a cylindrical base coloured green to match the surroundings. I believe this is what Taylor saw but that it was misinterpreted because of the stroke.”

Does Mr. Taylor’s description allow for a water tower as described?

No. But could a mental reconfiguration brought on by a mini-stroke allow for a misinterpretation of the water reservoir as described by Mr. Alison?

Perhaps. What a person experiences during transient ischemic attacks can allow for such a wildly misinterpretation as that which Mr. Alison sees in the Taylor account.

But, again, some of the finer details (the ripped trousers) don’t resonate with the mini-stroke explanation but, other than that, what Mr. Alison intuits about the account makes neurological sense, and could be an explanation of this truly unique UFO event: no one has ever reported anything similar to what Mr. Taylor says he witnessed.

So, is this one UFO case that is “solved”? I think it may be…