UFO Conjecture(s)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

UFOs: Out of Context

While ruminating about the Robert Taylor 1979 event in Scotland, noted here the other day, it seemed to me that the episode, while receiving an acceptable (to me and others) etiology, was only partially viewed in its total context.

That is the time of day, location, weather, and Mr. Taylor’s medical examination were looked at thoroughly, but what about the societal context, of November 9th, 1979, the day of the “vision”?

And also what about the medical conclusion by physician Patricia Hannaford, that he had
an isolated attack of temporal lobe epilepsy?

What is the context for such a diagnosis; that is, how many temporal lobe epilepsies take place in the population – the occurrences, and where or how?

That the “explanation” is fine with me, doesn’t mean that the event is conclusively proven.

This also applies to other UFO events, Roswell among them, the Zamora/Socorro sighting, and such unique sightings as the 1966 Ann Arbor/Dexter/Hillsdale “swamp gas”

Every sighting has a context that transcends what witnesses and UFO “researchers” get into.

The Betty/Barney Hill “abduction” had an ongoing context that was superceded by the ET hypothesis, as has Roswell.

Roswell, in June/July 1947, had a vast context that has been buried by the bias that a flying saucer or saucers crashed there.

Roswell, amidst the New Mexico atomic bomb development (Los Alamos Laboratory, nearby), and such places as the nascent Air Force Materiel Command's Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirkland Air Force base, and Alamogordo, among other iconic atomic facilities, has never be studied sociologically; that is, no one had or has determined the mind-sets of the Roswell population: military personnel or, especially the public at large,

The context of the United States has been given a cursory glance by ufologists but nothing pertinent to the flying saucer awareness by Roswellians, particularly those who claimed to have witnessed the alleged crashed disks and/or bodies that were allegedly in them.

The weather conditions for June/July 1947 have been given a glance but not a distinct evaluation by bona fide meteorologists who might be able to clarify the extent of the said storms that occurred in the Roswell incident time-frame.

Other flying saucer sightings in the time period have been recounted and that helps clarify what was being lauded as odd flying craft in other areas, outside Roswell.

And that data would also apply to the 1964 Socorro event or the Robert Taylor episode.

Context means a totality of data and information that is absolutely necessary to determine what the reality of a reported or experienced event is.

History is more often than not remiss in getting the details correct of a significant event.

(This is made clear in a new book, Wellington: Waterloo and the fortunes of peace by Rory Muir [Yale University Press, 713 pp. $40], a recounting of the life of the Duke of Wellington that clarifies and corrects much that has been miscast by other biographers and historians of Napoleon’s famous defeat.)

For Socorro, the other similar sightings recounted in the time-frame, and the military testings of various new space technologies, need to be taken into account if one wants to get a handle on what police officer Lonnie Zamora saw.

To ascribe the Zamora sighting as an ET craft is a wished-for explanation without benefit of what was happening elsewhere and even in the vicinity of Socorro, also nearby the same facilities that influence the Roswell happening(s).

In the 1966 Ann Arbor (Dexter,) actually “swamp gas” sighting, an identical sighting at Hillsdale, fifty miles to the southwest, took place but was not particularly tied to the Ann Arbor/Dexter sighting by farmer Frank Mannor.

However, the Hillsdale sighting by college co-eds indicate that either Frank Mannor and the co-eds saw similar swamp gas emissions, highly unlikely it seems to me, or had similar hallucinations, also unlikely, or both (and all) saw something identical in nature, at the same time.

Did they see a military test craft from the Selfridge Air National Guard base located in Mount Clemens. Michigan, about fifty-five miles from Dexter and thus about one hundred miles from Hillsdale? Unlikely.

Were there other sightings no far away, in the time-frame, March 1966? Yes, but not explored by the press at the time or ufologists since, generally.

The other element of the Context was the hysteria generated by the press accounts more than anything else. People were seeing flying things all over the place.

But the Mannor account and the accounts of the Hillsdale College co-eds indicate that something peculiar was seen, by sane persons, free of neurological misadventures, as far as can be determined at this late date.

Context is everything, in history, news reportage, in medical or psychiatric evaluations, and UFO events.

That context is eschewed by UFO investigators, except superficially, goes to the heart of why UFOs remain an enigma.

It’s too late to do much about the classic cases, but I do think Roswell might be distilled if only reasoning UFO aficionados take hold of the encrusted mythos.



  • It’s one of those things that provides answers and raises questions. For instance, the CE2s and 3s are frequently coherent and well-drawn whereas TLEs are frequently incoherent and distinguished by ill-defined visual/auditory hallucinations. Encounter claimants describe technological objects and TLE experiencers describe auras and distorted perceptions.

    Before I persuade myself that TLEs are a weak candidate for prosecution, it’s worth noting that our minds present pretty coherent narratives in the form of dreams. Maybe not every time we sleep, but we’ve all experienced dreams, at some point, that have been both extraordinary and full of coherent narrative.

    I like your idea about context. We know people can experience a range of hallucinatory phenomena, but we don’t know what triggers these reportedly one-off events. I would enjoy any insights into why certain people have described these science fiction scenarios. Why is there a comparable dearth in experiences of seeing cultural icons like The Beatles (in the 60s) or major pop stars today? If these reports were indeed TLEs, what made their frequency diminish so much? Likewise, what brought them to light in the 50s to mid-70s?

    It shouldn’t be a reporting problem because people have much more access to other people via the internet and social media. It could be a promotional issue with the old APRO, NICAP and MUFON newsletters being discontinued. Whatever the crux is, those reports have faded considerably.

    Gary Wilcox springs to mind with his claim of over an hour talking to his ‘two Martians.’ When you mention poor Frank Mannor, wasn’t he with his son at the time? Carl Higdon’s experience sounded like some hallucinatory meltdown, but again, like Wilcox, it was coherent even if surreal.

    It’s obvious that times have changed and our modern world is less enamoured with things spacey. There’s no strong media favouritism towards UFO reports and, in reality, even the reports of anything more than CE1 have decreased to almost none at all – a quiet hum. Does that mean humanity’s collective capacity for hysteria, suggestibility or weakness for popular cultural memes has reduced? No, that’s unlikely.

    It therefore appears that we humans haven’t changed at all in the past few decades. The percentage population of TLE sufferers likely remains the same as it was then. Likewise for the proportion of hoaxers, hysterics and such ignoramuses who can’t recognise landing lights over airports will also remain the same. What seems to have changed is that the stimulus or stimuli that triggered these experiences has decreased in frequency.

    Perhaps amusingly, an aspect of the context seems to be missing.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Kandinsky:

    But people do see things and in my Searle item here a few days ago, I concede, using his thesis, that maybe what they see is real, even if subjective in the traditional sense.

    The problems of observation and reason are exacerbated by social media, where ignorance runs amok.

    Insert UFOs into that mind-set, even as miniscule as the topic may be, and one can see how distorted reality becomes.

    (And yes, Frank Mannor's son, Ron, also saw the "thing" in the bog on their farm.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Hello Rich, I'll go and read the Searle article now. I don't disagree that people see things that are objectively real and that extends to apparitions of the deceased to beasties and, of course, the spectrum of UFO reports.

    I just wonder if they are able to be 'seen' by others? For instance, I looked into Jacques Vallee's early sighting and can't help wondering why nobody else seems to have seen it? Same for Mike Swords' sighting. It was apparently hovering above the spire of the main focal point in town. Are percipients chosen or do they share a vision with whomever they are with? What the heck triggers a shared vision? That must be an external thing...

    Would Taylor's experience be shared with someone if they had been in his immediate vicinity a la Higson and Parker? Or would someone on the other side of the clearing simply see an old man behaving very bizarrely for no visible reason?

    It's just too difficult to get away from the ifs and maybes. Anyway, I'll go and read the article instead of blathering.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Kandinsky:

    Yes, when someone sees something that those who are with them don't, how do we access that?

    Psychiatrists -- under attack all over the place -- would ascribe an hallucination for the witness, but maybe they have some kind of selective vision, unlike that of others.

    This is the kind of thing that needs serious investigation by thoughtful and/or intelligent researchers, of which the UFO community has a dearth.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Maybe psychiatrists have 'selective vision' too? Seeing a UFO or experiencing an encounter with something anomalous scores positively on the questionnaires for schizotypy. In that context, it would be hard to investigate a claim that's also associated with mental illness and implies a pathological inability to report or experience reality.

    I mean, who would pursue that when it's been established that the claims are likely to be BS anyway? No matter the plausibility of the claim, the claimant can be devalued and the experience explained as a transient, mental aberration - a one off. This is an unassailable position in what passes for a debate.

    Even amongst us chatterboxes in the UFO 'community,' who wants to put their head above the parapet and present a bold explanation? We're good at ruling things out and brave enough to criticise the ideas of others. When it comes to offering our own ideas, it appears we're constrained by modesty and conventional thought.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • When I was required to visit "mental hospitals" as part of my psychology regimen at college, I came away from visits often thinking that the so-called afflicted were actually seeing or hearing the things, doctors were telling them were not there, or did not exist.

    It seemed to me the "insane" were privy to a reality that the rest of us didn't have access to.

    This goes to the possible selective witnessing of ghosts, UFOs, bigfoot, Nessie, et al.

    I'm not so sure that (relatively) benign, odd events can be categorized as always hallucinatory.

    Bizarre behavior of the kind that produce murderous rages are another matter and have to be caused by chemical imbalances in the body and brain, with which neurology deals.

    How do we define the paranormal events then?

    Out of the box ruminations and thinking, which I keep touting, are a must, so long as we keep the UFO ignoramuses out of the mix.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • 'When I was required to visit "mental hospitals" as part of my psychology regimen at college, I came away from visits often thinking that the so-called afflicted were actually seeing or hearing the things, doctors were telling them were not there, or did not exist.'

    I've suspended judgement in some cases although it's well established that mental illness is just that.

    If we look at human history, it's been actively shaped by people who claimed to hear voices. The main religions are founded on the kernel of messages from elsewhere. Lest Buddhism is overlooked, it too has a seminal tradition of listening to voices. Despite it being clear that religions have brought immeasurable distress to millions, it could be argued that they also brought a cohesive influence to bear that united large enough numbers to form civilisation as we know it.

    If we're going to narrowly define the parameters of 'sanity,' it's fair to dismiss all religions and cults immediately. It's also pretty accurate, in those terms, to say our whole culture has been founded on madness.

    On the other hand, if there's an intelligent influence at play, what purpose would it pursue by injecting cultural memes? In that light, vocal witnesses of encounters and UFOs might be better characterised as mediums for a message. Generating beliefs is dependent on the success of transmission and so, speculating, the rash of sightings would ensure the greater audience. All those flashing objects would be like semaphore to catch the attention and send the witness/es away with a story to tell and a meme to perpetuate.

    Naturally, without knowing the intentions of this speculative intelligence, we'd have little idea about the value of perpetuating its memes.

    These aren't beliefs I hold, they're just avenues of thought generated by my own sighting and trying to make sense of *why* some people get so attached to the subject.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Me? I'm addicted to the bizarre UFO sightings/events. not the prosaic lights in the sky I saw and others report.

    I don't see messages in those bizarre episodes, I just see a craziness that psychiatry and UFO skeptics accuse UFO witnesses of, when those witnesses merely are relating what they experience -- being messengers as it were.

    The Almighty, for me, is nuts. That is, the intelligence you refer to is loony.

    We'll get into the Gnostic view of the Demi-urge, but I go even further and see the God above god as insane, but that takes us into waters outside the UFO topic pretty much.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • "Out of the box ruminations and thinking, which I keep touting, are a must, so long as we keep the UFO ignoramuses out of the mix."


    As we think outside the box we may consider that, just for example, that if there is a UAP signal amid the noise it is suggestive of the notion that the object of observations may be or have been unique itself to observed at the moment or an external condition allowing the observation. A window of opportunity for observation for whatever reason. Windows open and close. Thus one hypothesis is a transient of some kind yet to be defined could be at play.

    Just one example -that even now I suggest hesitantly: Then NIDS observers spoke of a portal opening with a "something" (my emphasis) coming through.


    We must also remember that when we speak of a signal amid the noise we are talking about lots of noise to filter out.

    By Blogger Bryan Daum, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • We're in agreement on the insanity. I think we've discussed something similar a couple of years ago and Bruce was in the conversation. We were talking about the insane incoherence of both the reported activities of UFOs and the nonsense of the encounters.

    Channellers, disembodied voices, entities, aliens and the gods. They all seem to offer promises and empty nothings and perpetually fall short of delivery.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • There seems to be an intrinsic betrayal by the gods or The Intelligence.

    I want to address this, again, after seeing a movie on TCM about Joan of Arc...a kind of documentary with the dialogue being the transcripts of her trial.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, September 27, 2015  

  • Of course rational people can agree that context is important and should be a mainstay feature in what ought to be a 360 evaluation of any supposed UFO or paranormal encounter.

    Unfortunately UFO followers and their honored investigators have never really applied this aspect to their investigations unless it suited their agenda, and then selectively.

    We have discussed the importance of full mental and physical examinations of subject(s) which are just a portion of a full contextual assessment. The other portions should include a wider set of criteria beyond location, time of day, etc.

    Using Roswell as a classic case, we know 1947 was a crucial year in world events.


    1) US forms the Atomic Energy Commission

    2) USAAF becomes USAF

    3) Many WW2 generals retire and are promoted into political positions

    4) Aerial dispersal devices are tested in NM carrying bio hazardous and radioactive contaminants

    5) Operation Paperclip is underway with Nazi scientists testing rocket devices in El Paso and White Sands

    6) Convicts and invalids are used in forbidden medical experiments to evaluate effects of radiation

    7) Widespread fear of Communism and nuclear devastation - Truman Doctrine declares it will contain Communism

    8) House UnAmerican Committee begins Communist investigations and black lists various Hollywood stars

    9) Veterans return to civilian jobs fueling the economy while families morn their wartime losses

    10) Attempts to design an atomic intercontinental bomber begins

    11) Unknown objects fly in the sky

    12) The CIA is formed


    1) The Nuremberg Trials are underway - the first warcrimes tribunal in history focused on the Holocaust

    2) X-Nazis form alliances in South America

    3) Soviet Union pushes an atomic arms race with the US for global control and influence - refuses UN mandate

    4) Jews from Europe and around the world flock to a newly formed national Israel and war ensues among nations

    5) Peace treaties are signed in Paris for Axis allied nations defeated in the war

    6) Marshall Plan goes into effect to rebuild Europe

    7) Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered

    Contextually speaking all of these factors would bear upon the social-political-economic-religious mindset of rare phenomenon observers both consciously and unconsciously as well as society's reaction to such events.

    By Blogger Brian Bell, at Monday, September 28, 2015  

  • Bryan:

    You nail it!

    This is what investigators should have considered all along and still.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 28, 2015  

  • All,
    Is convergent evolution far enough outside the box?
    We could easily share this planet and our solar system
    with another advanced civilization, evolved here, home grown,
    million of years more advanced than us.
    It's a much better bet than star travel, but there is
    no doubt that we are being visited by creatures of
    unknown origin. The majority think they're ET, and I think
    they are a creation of and example of convergent evolution.

    By Blogger edward gehrman, at Monday, September 28, 2015  

  • Ed:

    Convergent evolution is iffy for me, but it shouldn't be sloughed off out of hand.

    (After all Neanderthals and primitive humans from whom modern man is said to have evolved are a kind of convergent evolution.)

    Maybe others will find it worthy of debate.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, September 28, 2015  

  • A small corrective from someone who studied the post-war war crimes trials in depth at university - the trial of the major war criminals at Nuremberg ended in 1946, well before Roswell. The subsequent lesser trials (doctors, jurists, etc.) were not considered major news at the time - indeed, they were largely overlooked as more important events of the burgeoning Cold War took center stage. In the context of the 1847 saucer sightings, they simply don't rate as a significant counter-event in terms of context.


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Monday, September 28, 2015  

  • That should, of course, read: "1947 saucer sightings."

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Tuesday, September 29, 2015  

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