UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, January 06, 2014

Where are the skeptics for this?

Gilles Fernandez provided a link to his site of his piece on the Airship wave of the late 1800s.

But our resident skeptics won’t take a look at it or attempt to belittle the common mistakes and erroneous conclusions within Gilles’ work, and there are many of both.

For instance, Gilles writes this:

“The first and probably most famous of the so-called Airships waves is the great one of 1896/1897. The problematic is that there is a large number of testimonies, mainly in newspapers, of sightings of such aircraft. However, until scientific evidence to the contrary comes to light, man-made airship flights at this time and place are unknown to aeronautical history.

In other words, there are no historic or scientific evidence of the realization(s) and flight(s) of 1896/97 of such designs explaining what was observed.

The first historical steerable airship was probably constructed by French inventor Henri Giffard (1852). On 24 September 1852, he made the first powered and controlled flight (27 km) from Paris to Trappes, but the wind was too strong and he was unable to return to the starting point. However, he was able to maneuver, demonstrating a powered airship could be steered and controlled.

In 1884, a french airship took again to the skies and it is generally presented as the first historical truly controlled dirigible. CalledLa France, it was designed by two French Army Captains, Charles Renaud and Arthur Krebs (165 feet long, 2 tons, 12 miles per hour). At least seven flights were performed and five times the dirigible was able to go back to its starting point. It was able to flight a distance of 8 kilometers in 23 minutes.”

That material undercuts the whole tone (and premise) of Gilles’ counter to those who see the observations of the 18986 airships and others as observations of airship technology being tested by engineers and others, as noted here:


And here:


Gilles continues:

“Extraordinary thesis concerning the 1896/97 are not lacking in ufology, as Jean Sider's one in France and in particular in his French on-line article L'airship de 1897. More complex extraordinary hypothesis have been formulated here or there, for example by Swiss ufologist Fabrice Bonvin. More complex because this kind of hypothesis are calling ufological coined terms like "mimic" or "elusivity". Such terms or concept are close those proposed by Jacques Vallée or John Keel: It is defended that the origine of such wave or other so-called anomalistic phenomenons are imputable to an omniscient intelligence having a manipulator or insidious behavior.”

No one, here, or in my circle, thinks that the 1896 wave was a caused by an extraordinary hypothesis or hypotheses involving “omniscient intelligence” – a term Gilles imputes, surreptitiously to what has appeared at this blog about the Airship wave.

No one thinks – I surely don’t – that the Airships seen and reported in the 1896 time-frame were ET flown or derived.

That’s an absurdity, and in the links provided above, pertaining to what has appeared here, will show the discerning reader that no one implied an “omniscient intelligence” to the Airship creations but rather, offer a human origination by innovative engineers and inventors of the period and locale.

Gilles continues:

“The ufologists in favor of exotic hypothesis [sic] behind the UFO would be then devoted in totality or in a very large part to this intrinsic product and result of this inter-individual variability concerning perceptions, memorizations and descriptions. And ufologists themselves projecting their own expectations, and we have here a retro-action loop, a circularity.

The reasons to drive some individuals to not identify a conventional stimulus in reality are numerous. They could be imputable to the observation conditions, because the stimulus is perceived in dark time, or other particular ones (fog, mist, atmospheric refraction, etc.), or because the stimulus is seen fleetingly, or under a non-prototypical angle of vision, or undergone particular artificial or natural light exposure (and so on).

A false memory, created from scratch, results generally in a source of confusion: the subject correctly remembers the information, but no longer knows where it comes from. Some false memories and dreams are then remembered as real events. The literature concerning false memory in cognitive psychology is really abundant and a very fecund field of scientific studies, but Elizabeth Loftus1 is probably the most famous researcher focused on this thematic. These field of researches concerning Human Memory have experimentally demonstrated how our memory is malleable and plastic. In Appendix A, I shortly present some of the memory effects discovered and studied in cognitive psychology as I did in my book (Fernandez, 2010).”

No one who reported an Airship sighting in the time period was operating from memory; the reports were first-hand accounts and not reminiscences dredged up from the unconscious.
Gilles creates a straw man argument to create the impression we are dealing with a academic or scientific evaluation of the topic.

Gilles also presents a view that communication between and among those who reported sightings was limited bb the dearth of vehicles and machines for distributing information, including newspapers:

“The main arguments proposed to exclude any conventional possibilities by the proponents of such thesis and for the 1896/97 airships wave are for example the argument of a telecommunication network too low at this period and a too low literacy rate of the American population... Then, it would exclude all explanations in terms of mass contagion where newspapers and other networks were playing a very strong role:
Insufficient penetration of the communication network and the low literacy rate in 1897 exclude a shared spread of conscious representation of the phantom airship in a predominantly rural population.”

He dismisses the above with this:

“We dont recognize this argument as solid, nor historically valid, but a fallacious one. As Dominique Caudron stated, first, what ever is a publication, the people who have a reading knowledge may read for the others who have not. Second, even if 10% of a population have reading knowledge, there are in fact only tens testimonies at a time, or less, and thoses [sic] knowing the rumor of Airships can repeat and vehiculate [sic] it orally and then become protagonists and actors of this contagion. Concerning a telecommunication network too low, we are at the edge of the Telegraph and Rails for 50 years. Phone is invented from around twenty years and more or less well implemented, mainly in California. For example, if we focuse [sic] on the foremost sighting of Oackland [sic], the San Francisco Call of 22 November 1896 (p.13) – the article is reproduced after for his main parts – and we read that some witnesses... have phoned to the Journal!”

The above hardly makes the point that intercommunication was ubiquitous; it does just the opposite and supports the information and paragraph above it.

Then Gilles presents his explanation for the sightings, using an image that enhances a vision of the planet Venus, making it look as if it were larger and more imposing than it was, in actuality. I’m surprised at the shenanigan, but here it is:
  

 Here’s Gilles’ view:

The most likely culprit is the planet Venus. During the winter of 1896-97 it was visible in the evening sky, and was at its maximum brightness on March 23 - just at the height of the airship mania. Many of the airship reports were on cloudy or overcast nights. The bright disk of Venus shining through moving clouds might appear to be an airship in flight.

Now, Gilles has friends here in the States – Lance Moody and Christopher Allan among them.

And while those gentlemen would attack anyone else’s work that is so filled with importunate nonsense, they won’t raise an eyebrow to dissect Gilles’ sloppy but, in its way, spectacular attempt to deride the sensible conclusion that the Airships reported in 1896 and around that era were as they were accounted; that is, what was seen and reported is exactly what was seen.

We await Monsieur Gilles’ second, fictional, installment.


RR

26 Comments:

  • Nice job, RR. You knocked that one out of the park.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Monday, January 06, 2014  

  • Thanks, Dominick,

    A lot of hooey in Gilles' piece.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, January 06, 2014  

  • Thanks for debunking the debunkers - but it seems an entire stream of research has been ignored; in particular the contemporaneous works of Tesla, including his electromagnetic propulsion desgns. Please see nexusilluminati.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/teslas-amazing-flying-machine-birth-of.html and the other links at the bottom of the article

    By Blogger new illuminati, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Have a look at "Wishful Thinking: the Great American Airship Mania of 1896-97", the first chapter in UFOS & ALIEN CONTACT, by Bartholomew and Howard.

    Gilles would have gained much of his information from this source.

    If there were any real airships at the time, wouldn't someone have demonstrated it to the public so that the great mystery was solved then and there?

    Yes, I do think there probably was one, maybe even two, real physical craft, but where and whose were they? How high did they fly?

    I am inclined to agree with Gilles that the great majority of the sightings were psychological in nature.

    Yes, some were of Venus, Jupiter and such. I will not venture a guess how many.

    Of course nobody had ET thoughts or ideas at the time, although there was the Aurora, Texas affair.

    Long before David M. Jacobs got hooked on abductions he wrote a PhD thesis, later incorporated into a book THE UFO CONTROVERSY IN AMERICA, in which he devotes his first chapter to this same airship wave.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • CDA:

    You noted my generalizations elsewhere here, then indulge in same about GIlles' article.

    Why not approach the specifics I present about his fol-de-rol material?

    Gilles did a vaudeville piece and I applaud him for his vibrant skeptical attempt but it's a glob of goofy shit and psychobabble.

    I knew you wouldn't excoriate him even though his nonsense is as bad as or worse than anything David Rudiak has presented.

    And you and Moody give Rudiak hell for making stuff up.

    If you're an honest man and honest skeptic, I think you should nail Gilles for trying to fool everyone with a conglomeration of fluff.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Hello Rich,
    Nice piece (I mean typical of you). Fastly:

    That material undercuts the whole tone (and premise) of Gilles’ counter to those who see the observations of the 18986 airships and others as observations of airship technology being tested by engineers and others". "No one, here, or in my circle, thinks that the 1896 wave was a caused by an extraordinary hypothesis or hypotheses involving “omniscient intelligence” – a term Gilles imputes, surreptitiously to what has appeared at this blog about the Airship wave." "No one thinks – I surely don’t – that the Airships seen and reported in the 1896 time-frame were ET flown or derived."

    As already said, 1) The hypothesis of airship technology being tested by engineers in 1896/97 will be adressed in part II. Before it, you will probably find an hard data supporting your hypothesis, like a photography of your fictionnal real airships having flown in 1896/97 and over important distances and night times, State to State, or a record in the Aeronautical History. Please, not "steampunkery", but evidence.

    2) Rich, there is not only "your circle" in the World, and my article was not "for" your circle only: the fact is there are important other "circles" and literatures, blogs, sites, YT videos, etc. which attribute the 1896/97 Airships wave to E.T. or to other fortean entities. If you ignore such proponents, not me, and pardon to "discuss" such hypotheses too and not only yours.

    No one who reported an Airship sighting in the time period was operating from memory
    1) Hoo, when people REPORT a sighting, they are not operating from Memory? Uncredible statement.

    2) This section of my article you quoted focused on Human Inter-Individual Variability in Perception, Memorization and Restoration of an Event or Stimulus, then not only Memory. And the main hypothesis is how prevailing airships imagery may have influenced on-line perception (to be very short.

    I wrote "We suggest then this prevailing imagery and hope may have generated several cultural mental representations before the wave and led some people to believe they saw real airships, but in reality misinterpreting prosaic/celestial stimuli through their psycho-sociocultural cognitive filter." In other words, you attack this hypothesis or the main hypothesis of my article in disguise, adressing "memory" whereas "perception" and psychosociocultural filters are the variables (among others) I "favorized" and probably at play (for me).

    Gilles also presents a view that communication between and among those who reported sightings was limited & He dismisses the above with this [...]

    Gné? You didn't understand or invented it. It is some UFO/fortean proponents who claim a 1896/97 contemporan limited information network, NOT ME: "I" counter-argumented and found fallacious the argument they proposed! I wrote "The main arguments proposed to exclude any conventional possibilities by the proponents of such thesis [...] are for example the argument of a telecommunication network too low at this period"... and after I counter-argumented this (fallacious) statement from some Fortean proponents.

    using an image that enhances a vision of the planet Venus

    You're putting words into my mouth ("Procès d'intention" in French) aka to judge someone on mere intent. Venus is there. FACT & period. If Venus is "enhanced" it is only because my PC cursor was on Venus in order to have dataes like her magnitude, etc. when I screenshooted, not to "enhance" Venus.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Gilles,

    You did a magnificent job with your piece.

    It's a cacophony of beauty and hooey.

    I liked it, a lot, otherwise I wouldn't have linked it here.

    But I've pointed out its shortcomings and hooey.

    And I didn't address all the mistakes and psychological fallacies.

    As a psychological practitioner for many years, I was and am appalled by the nonsense you present in your piece: cognitive hooey that David Clarke and others have addressed when necessary.

    You muster a good counter but when you keep trying to place me and others here (Dominick, Duensing, et al.) in the ET camp, that is bona fide "argumentative falsity."

    No one, here, thinks that the 1896 sightings were ET oriented and I gave links to my pieces that outline what we think were the cause of the sightings.

    Lumping us in with the ET fanatics is a fallacy that I'm ashamed to read from you.

    When CDA says he thinks, like you, that the sightings and reports were psychological in nature, he's operating as a tyro.

    And to write that memory was involved in the reporting you stretch the concept of memory beyond its neurological reality.

    I'm looking forward to Part Two of your excellent attempt to scotch the 1896 Airship wave.

    It's we be a kind of fictional sequel.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • No problem, Rich, I'm not surprised by your (over?) reactions.

    Another thing/detail, you wrote with "certitude": Of course nobody had ET thoughts or ideas at the time, although there was the Aurora, Texas affair.

    Really? In fact, as I wrote in my draft the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) have been evoked in very few contemporary newspapers, but it was. And to support it "I" quoted" Colonel H. G. Shaw story, as St. Louis Post-Dispatch release of the 10 April 1897, but well, maybe you didn't care...

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Yes, Gilles,

    I (and others) are aware that some thought and think the Airships were ET craft...

    BUT we are NOT among them!

    Read my links and pieces about the wave.

    You are trying to jell the ET suppositions with mine.

    That is erroneous and dishonest.

    I tell you again, I do not think, nor do those with whom I associate think the Airships were ET craft.

    As for the alleged Aurora event, that's a red-herring and I'm surprised you keep trying to interject it here.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • RR:

    Please tell us what your view is on this 1896-97 airship wave.

    In particular, do you believe any real airships were flying at the time and if so, who constructed them? Were any put on public display?

    Isn't it, as with UFOs, that the great majority of sightings had nothing to do with airships but that a few, very few, may have been experimental craft but that the great majority were either hoaxes or misperceptions?

    I await your response.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Gilles:

    It was me who mentioned Aurora. RR is innocent here!

    Jerry Clark debunked Aurora long ago.

    By Blogger cda, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Rich,
    And I will stop here.

    There is imho another misunderstanding: I have not stated you (or the ones you mentionned) believe the airships wave involved E.T., but well...
    I only adressed a little this hypothesis which is defended by others than you ONE MORE TIME.

    As the hypothesis real airships flew (like the ones patented by i.e. C. A. Smith and others or depicted/alleged to have been seen - à la Robur the Conqueror I mean -) will be adressed in the second part, as Michael Busby or other ones, defending such a conventionnal pist.

    I hope this controversy is now fixed...

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • CDA:

    I placed two links in my posting above; those links present my views on the Airship wave.

    Also, if you Google Airship wave of 1896, you may find my very early views on the topic.

    (Don't you fellows really read what's posted here?0

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Gilles:

    Why bring in the ET "hypothesis" at all?

    It's not germane to my postings or my views.

    It just muddies the debate.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • There are so many refutations as variations on a theme as cited in Gilles essay I find the central thesis incomprehensible and overly layered and lacking focus, just as UFO aficionados throw in everything but the kitchen sink, which misfires by one cited factor negating the other.
    The characteristics of the carbon arc headlight referred to by the Master Mechanic of the street railway system used as a reference point of similarity in relation to what was sighted in the sky is telling.

    Unlike Venus, a carbon arc light in driving rain could blind the motor men by the reflection of the beam from water droplets.

    Unlike Venus, they had a tightly focused linear path that far outshone Venus in it’s brilliance in terms of lumens.

    A picture is worth a thousand words and I am not sure if this will work but here is an example.

    http://www.historyinsidepictures.com/siteimages/HEADLIGHTS4.JPG

    All of these debates remind me of where a good candy bar falls into the spectrum of food groups.

    Gilles piece is a beautifully decorated cake just as any theory lacking collaborative evidence theory used as a backing for a theory. Its plainly evident.

    The fact that this will remain a perennial mystery in relation to overly complex intellectual acrobatics is also evident.

    These faux debates generate heat without providing any light. They are tiring in view of any assumed practicality they have outside of one admiring the sound of one’s words on paper.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Just a point regarding Gilles Venus image. Venus is portrayed this way in Stellarium's software when showing wide angle views. The brighter the star/object, the larger the image will appear on the screen. In my version of Stellarium, when using the default view (non-zoomed), Venus appears as large as the moon. (Star charts have used this technique for many decades with brighter stars represented by larger circles). So, accusing Gilles' of some form of chicanery really was not appropriate.

    By Blogger Tim Printy, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Now listen Timmy...

    There are a number of Venus images that could have been used.

    That Gilles selected the one he used is telling.

    I don't expect honest skepticism from you or CDA about his article.

    After all, he presents your views, as goofy as those are.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Perhaps we should have an Academy Awards Ceremony..this thread made me think of the long gone comment by PG that if we admitted that no one knows in effect what is going on, the game of competition and cooperation would collapse. Which brings to mind John Nash..
    If John Nash were a linguistic expert rather than a mathematician, he could have used the zero sum habit of untenable theories used as a game field for this competition that requires faux definitions. UFO as a game piece that lacks a elegantly simple explanation is a fulcrum for this game of territorial prerogatives based on naive realities played by teams who chose a storyline. Everyone who cooperates in the competition by accepting the unknown nature of the game piece in order to play otherwise there would be no game to play. Anyone can play. Points are given for the best story, the most exotic locales and characters,, the amount of prosaic references inserted into a paradox, etc.
    These, in turn, could serve as award categories. Call It The annual Zero Sum Awards. This is the simple reason no one takes any of this seriously. Faux debates the center around the imaginations of the skeptical versus that of the positivists.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Bruce wrote:
    Gilles piece is a beautifully decorated cake just as any theory lacking collaborative evidence theory used as a backing for a theory. Its plainly evident.

    When you defend it existed an important prevaling/surrounding imagery of airships, proposed and pictured inventions, patents, models, etc. and its variable as possible main influence and provide many examples of this prevailing imagery in your text, it is decorations?
    No that's only to provide the important surrounding imagery empiricaly claimed in the text/thesis/hypothesis. What's wrong with that?

    Rich accusating me to have used an "enhanced" Venus for mere intent is fallacious and a free accusation. I believe he have never used Stellarium software, because to make such a claim is astounding me. But well, Rich imagines otherwise :(
    Anyway, that's not the problem: Venus is still where the "airship" was for the 2 foremost sightings I focused on, Venus enhanced due to the software, or not. Forget it, Rich...

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Gilles,

    Let me be clear: your piece is splendid; it's fraught with material that substantiates your view(s).

    But it's propagandistic; not that there's anything wrong with that.

    You want to sell your point and you did it magnificently.

    But I chose to see some disingenuous insertions, such as the Venus image.

    Using Printy's excuse for the Venus picture -- a software distortion -- is shameful, unacademic, and embarrassing.

    And the psychology used is bogus, for the topic -- memory failures for a report that appeared or was made virtually immediately...come on.

    But you tried, and you provided a nice counter to the prevailing Airship hypotheses extant here.

    So I'll give you that, but that's all.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • The issue to me is the lack of a clear demonstrable and conclusive explanation. On the other hand it goes off on various amusement rides to suggest it was everything but what was reported. It ends up as a zero sum that suggests otherwise which negates itself. I see nothing added or subtracted and yet it purports a sum. What it tells me is that my cynicism toward both sides of this coin has
    been verified. In fairness, I see no explanation as a shoe that fits all sizes and the variety of shoes you used tells me there is no fit.
    The same could be said to theories other than yours or those that oppose it. It was well done but I think you would agree that is a secondary consideration.
    No one has solved the airship mystery to my own satisfaction.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • memory failures for a report that appeared or was made virtually immediately..

    It is not what "I" defended, you caricaturize (as often) but I will not insist ONE MORE TIME the memory failures or distorsions are not the (cognitive) processings mainly at play here to try to understand (at least for me) why some people reported "airships", but having probably a celestial stimulus in reality they didn't "recognize" and labeled "airships".

    Well, if it is amuzing you, after all...

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • Gilles:

    Huh?

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • I was simply pointing out that Gilles was not guilty of deliberately misrepresenting Venus. He was using standard software to show where Venus was precisely located on the day, and from the location, in question. That would be good considered good research since there are no photographs that were taken from the date, time, and location. Had you used the same software and did exactly as he had done, you would have seen why the image looked the way it did. Instead you decided to create this image that Gilles was trying to trick people.
    Your behavior is why I dislike getting involved in on-line debates anymore. They are are a waste of time because people hold on to their position even when they are presented evidence that things are not as they want to believe. Instead of saying something like "Oh, I understand now", "I see your point", "I might have overstated my case here", or "I was probably wrong in saying it that way", you still want to give the impression to your readers that Gilles' motives were less than honest and that your original beliefs were right. To me, that says a lot and confirms that I am, once again, wasting my time here.

    By Blogger Tim Printy, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • To use that software and no other tells me that a point is being exaggerated.

    In the context of the other points I cited, one could easily conclude that Gilles was making propaganda and not sticking to an academic presentation.

    You thought Tim that by assuaging Gilles' use of the Venus image would exonerate him.

    It doesn't.

    There are others ways, as you well know from your asronomical expertise, to arrive at the location of Venus for the date in question, and do so manually if necessary without providing a distorted and errant software depiction.

    If a UFO advocate had done that you and others would jump on him or her with both feet.

    Gille's presentation is theatrical; I like it, but it's not science and it's not even a good counter to the view that what observers saw in 1896 and reported was exactly what they saw and reported -- not Venus through a fog.

    You skeptical guys, when the heat is on, run for cover.

    I used to cut you fellows some slack, but no longer.

    And I'm hardly a UFO as ET advocate.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Tuesday, January 07, 2014  

  • > Venus, making it look as if it were larger and more imposing than it was

    Chris Rutkowski, Canada's sensible ufologist, recently posted this video of Venus, taken in his front yard.

    I was impressed by how large it appeared to be, though millions of miles away (I recommend the HD setting).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLACugvHO8g

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Wednesday, January 22, 2014  

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