UFO Conjecture(s)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Martin Kottmeyer: A Skeptic's Skeptic

UFOs exist and people have seen/reported strange objects, sometimes with creatures or beings debarking from them and often interacting with the observer.

But there is also a lot of hooey amongst and within most (almost all?) UFO accounts, from Kenneth Arnold, Roswell, right up to today.

Martin Kottmeyer, a self-sobriquetted debunker has addressed many of UFO's crème de la crème tales.

Here are two excerpts from his Gauche Encounters: Bad films and the UFO Mythos:

        "Beyond the science concerns, the artistry of the ufo phenomenon is archly phoney [sic]. The aliens are a hokey blend of human chauvinisms. Good aliens are always beautiful fair-skinned Aryan race ideals. Bad aliens are a potpourri of horror movie clichés - Men in Black, Big Brains, Big Bugs, mummies, reptoids, spooky eyes.  Though the aliens supposedly possess a technology centuries in advance of our own, they often appear to be backward and abysmally stupid. They have yet to discover drugs that wipe out short-term memory; something earthlings have already done. There is a case of an abductee who is captured by a mechanical clamp which looks like a gizmo cooked up by a Buck Rogers fan with Alzheimer's. Battlefield meatball surgeons routinely outperform the super-veterinarians of the ufo phenomenon. The aliens don't even appear to update their equipment. In the Schirmer case, aliens are using computers with reel-to-reel tape. Instead of nano-tech robot probes and hand-held smart scanners, they still use needles, knives, and lumbering lab machines. Instead of gene programmers, they still have to harvest ova and sperm on the sly like gothic body snatchers gathering parts for mad Frankenstein style experiments. Their incompetence extends to having restraints so poor that one specimen, Travis Walton, manages to escape and gain access to a saucer control room.

         "The remainder of Betty's nightmares seem to involve distortions of the 1953 alien invasion nightmare classic Invaders from Mars. In her original dream, Betty compares the noses of her captors to that of Jimmy Durante. A glance at the poster to the movie will quickly confirm the mutants in the film have noses that rival Durante's. Betty describes her captors as Mongoloid, itself a mutant genetic form. There are some preliminary tests and then Betty lies down on an examining table. The female abductee in Invaders from Mars also finds herself on an examining table. Needles are placed on various parts of Betty Hill's body including the back of the neck. Some strands of hair are also taken from the back of her neck. In Invaders from Mars, a needle is used to try to implant a device in the back of the neck of the abductee.  Betty Hill then sees a needle, longer than any needle she has ever seen before. It is placed into her navel. She experiences great pain. The examiner puts his hands over her eyes, rubs, and the pain stops. In Invaders from Mars the abductee first struggles when placed on the examining table and then a light is shown in her eyes and she calms down, lapsing into unconsciousness. Then a curious image appears on the movie screen. It has an ambiguous character. Correctly interpreted, it is an overhead shot of the alien surgical theatre which reveals some of the architecture of the saucer. Dominant in the image is a large tubular beam or conduit connecting the ceiling to the floor. It bears a marked stylistic similarity to the needle being used in the implanting operation. A confusion is invited. The tubular beam and its plastic sheath takes on the appearance of the hypodermic needle. The lighting of the floor of the saucer gives the illusion of the curvature of an abdomen. The place where floor and conduit meet is tightly surrounded by a circular indentation. It's the navel. This, I believe, is the origin of Betty's bizarre image of the needle in the navel. Either she misperceived it during the watching of the film, probably on black and white TV, or her consciousness spun out the alternate interpretation in constructing the nightmare."

You might find the whole piece online. It's fraught with more insights that resonate with sensible UFO buffs.

And here's a link to other ruminations that enlighten. (Zoam Chomsky should be ecstatic):


A fair reading of Mr. Kottmeyer will correct, I think, any over vivid belief in the UFO tales we have all come to love or loathe.



  • I think his material both hits and misses the crux of the phenomenon.
    The UFO community largely commits the same error of critical thinking.
    The axis of the fallacies surrounding both sides is interpreting everything on a literal basis.
    His criticism is well pointed but he throws the baby out with the bath water as much as the UFO community has relentlessly done by digging itself into a dead end.
    The subject is lodged between fantasies and entertainment and manages to hand the knife by the handle to skeptics.
    The skeptics rightfully point this out. A well versed skeptic is invaluable but not all skeptics are created equal.
    Its a series of false arguments and set of postulates on both sides for the majority.
    Another word that seems appropriate to describe this is babble.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, October 29, 2014  

  • Martin Kottmeyer is a National Treasure.


    By Blogger Lance, at Wednesday, October 29, 2014  

  • At first I was surprised that this new post seemed to have so much in common with your previous write-up about Betty Hill "remembering" an alien creature from an episode of "The Outer Limits," then I realized that both the Outer Limits theory and the Invaders From Mars theory both come from the mind of Martin Kottmeyer... which explains a lot.
    Just as he assumed but could not prove that Betty Hill watched the telecast of “The Bellero Shield” episode of “The Outer Limits” (which, it must be remembered, was broadcast over a year after her UFO experience), Kottmeyer also assumes but can’t prove that Betty saw the movie “Invaders From Mars” when it came out in 1953, nearly a decade before her and Barney’s experience. Without being able to prove that Betty had seen either drama, he’s got nothing.
    But let’s assume that Kottmeyer was right, and that Betty Hill had seen “Invaders From Mars” eight years before her UFO experience and still remembered every detail of its design.
    We still run into the same problems, for just as he incorrectly claimed that the creature from “The Outer Limits” episode had “wraparound eyes” just like the creatures Betty and Barney described, Kottmeyer also incorrectly claims that the mutants in “Invaders From Mars” have “Jimmy Durante noses” similar to what Betty claimed her abductors had. The mutants in fact have long, flat noses, the exact opposite of a “Durante” nose.
    Kottmeyer’s wild imagining that a high-angle shot of the aliens “surgical ward” suggests a hypodermic needle being inserted into a human navel would give Freud material for several papers. Kottmeyer was apparently unaware that the director and designer of “Invaders From Mars,” William Cameron Menzies, was in his day one of the most popular, influential and sought-after scenic designers in Hollywood. Film critic David Bordwell wrote that, “Invaders from Mars (1953) indulges in Menzies’ eccentricities of set design and composition pretty freely,” noting that Menzies filled the film with his trademark “urge to float into abstraction” (Take a look at Menzies’ work in “H.G. Wells’ Things to Come” to see where his “navel and hypo” design aesthetic came about). Does Menzies’ singular artistic vision prove that Betty didn’t actually see what she interpreted as an image of a hypo entering a navel (assuming, of course, that she ever actually saw the movie)? No, of course not, but it does, I think, suggest that Kottmeyer has absolutely zero understanding of film language, which simply underlines the absurdity and implausibility of his uninformed speculation.
    For this kind of thinking to have any value, it has to be grounded in reality. Kottmeyer can’t just “suppose” that Betty Hill saw this movie or that TV show just because she may have had the opportunity to do so at some time or another. But even if it could be proved, the critic then owes it to his audience to have studied and researched, and, oh, I don’t know, maybe even screened the movie or TV show in question…

    By Blogger Mark OC, at Wednesday, October 29, 2014  

  • Mark:

    You're too harsh on Mr. Kottmeyer.

    He's conjecturing.

    While he may be off the mark in some or many regards, it's the attempt to explain with real world elements that I admire.

    I've done a few things on the Betty Hill aspects of the story.

    I liked that old lady, she was a hoot and something about her was ingratiating.

    But there is that Durante nose thing and other minutiae that differs from her initial account.

    Yet, something happened to her and Barney.

    What that was ,exactly, remains open to question.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, October 29, 2014  

  • It is hilarious that Mark OC assumes that the idea of Betty Hill seeing a well known movie is less likely that her silly moronic tale of Jimmy Durante-nosed aliens.

    Apparently, once you are are a true believer, the real world is less convincing that the flying saucer fantasy one.


    By Blogger Lance, at Friday, October 31, 2014  

  • Concerning the paranormal (UFO phenomena included), Carl Sagan’s approach is the logical, scientific one:

    "My view is that no amount of anecdotal evidence, unsubstantiated by physical evidence, is worth a single substantive bit of physical evidence. A million reports that the Earth is flat has no veridical value on the shape of the Earth." —Carl Sagan, letter to Laurance Rockefeller, 6 November 1996, a month and 14 days before Sagan’s death

    By Blogger totalfreedom45, at Thursday, April 16, 2015  

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