Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flying Saucers: the Need to Believe; Why People Fake It

I'm interested in all sorts of things, UFO's being one of them.  However, I am a skeptic on the subject, possessed of an open mind but not a gullible one.

For almost seventy years now we have been reading and hearing about strange spacecraft and weird-looking aliens, traversing our skies, landing in our fields, and even capturing people for medical tests.  I remember as a child, circa 1952, seeing a Clovis, New Mexico newspaper with the headline, "Don't Worry, Saucer Men Fear Us Too."  There was a picture of a flying saucer at the top of the page.  I remember being astounded by this news, and very confused by it.  Even as a child, I knew that there was "true stuff" and "make-believe," and now the two were merging.  I felt very uncomfortable with this.  Fantasy and fact were now seemingly interchangeable.  Even then, however, I was not totally convinced.  Somewhere in my psyche I felt this tug of doubt.  I would believe it when I saw it for myself.

Half-Way Credible Stories of Alien Abductions
I again felt this cognitive dissonance, of fact vs fiction, belief butting up hard against skepticism, when in 1961 the Betty and Barney Hill story broke.  The Hills were a married couple who were returning from a motor trip.  When they arrived home, they noticed the time of their arrival was all wrong.  They were somehow missing several hours of time, for which they had no memory.  They sought the help of a psychiatrist.  He hypnotically regressed the Hills to remember the missing time period.

The Hills both recalled being stopped on the road by strange looking humanoids who took them aboard a spacecraft to medically examine them.  Barney expressed great terror and anxiety during his hypnotically induced recollection -- even screaming -- he wasn't faking.  The psychiatrist was convinced that the Hills truly believed these recollections to be true; however, that alone does not prove them scientifically.  There could be another explanation, as yet undiscovered.

Nevertheless, the Hill story remains, in my mind, one of the most believable tales of alien abduction on record. Their story is in book form as "The Interrupted Journey."  I have read it more than once.

The second abduction story that holds any credibility for me is "Fire In The Sky," the story of a woodman, Travis Walton.  His abduction allegedly occurred in Arizona in 1975, when his work crew sighted a hovering saucer in a forest.  Walton left his group's pickup to approach the craft, and was zapped by some kind of energy beam.  His fellow woodmen workers high-tailed it out of there, leaving Walton to his fate.  When they later returned to the scene, Walton was nowhere to be found.  Organized search parties scoured the woods but found no trace of Walton.

Walton claims he was examined by the extraterrestrials and released five days later.  Five of these men who were with Walton later passed a lie-detector test, with one inconclusive, about what they had witnessed.  Some time later, all seven passed lie detector tests.

Walton writes:
I looked past the upper edge of the device. I could see the blurry figures of the doctors, leaning over me with their white masks and caps. They were wearing unusual, orange-colored surgical gowns. I could not make out their faces clearly.
Abruptly my vision cleared. The sudden horror of what I saw rocked me as I realized that I was definitely not in a hospital.
I was looking squarely into the face of a horrible creature! It looked steadily back at me with huge, luminous brown eyes the size of quarters.
UPDATE:  I must add one more credible alien abduction story to my short list.  That would be the Allagash Abduction, which occurred in 1976.  I just read the book, "The Allagash Abductions" by Raymond E. Fowler.  The incident involved four fishermen/campers in the Allagash wilderness (on the east coast) who were allegedly abducted right out of their canoe by an alien spacecraft, then subjected to the usual medical examination.  The aliens are described as taking skin scrapings, blood and semen samples, as well as hair, urine and feces.  All four men were hypnotically regressed separately, and all related the same story and set of facts.  All passed lie detector tests.  Their abductors were the usual suspects, skinny, short humanoids with big heads and large, oval eyes.  Their faces resembled those of insects, e.g. ants.

The abduction stories that hold any credibility for me are those that
1.  Involve witnesses or multiple abductees, who can corroborate the story of the others;
2.  Involve abductees who can be hypnotically regressed to remember details of the experience;
3.  Involve abductees who successfully pass lie detector tests;
4.  Involve credible abductees and/or witnesses of good character with no history of fraud, trickery, mental illness or delusions.

There is other evidence of strange phenomena that holds little credibility for me.  The tired old story of Roswell, New Mexico, for instance.  Big Foot.  Area 51.  The Loch Ness Monster.  Crop circles.  Chupacabras.  Fairies.  A million YouTube videos of blurry things in the sky.  Rubber aliens on operating tables. Yawn.  There are many credulous fools who will believe any sort of nonsense.  As for me, I demand my nonsense be more sophisticated than that.

Famous Fakers:  How and Why They Do It
Lately I have been fighting boredom by poking around UFO stories on the Internet and YouTube.  I have become aware of several apparent fakers.  Two of the most egregious are described below.  

Stan Romanek.  One is Stan Romanek.  I read his book "Messages," and he claims he has been monitored, studied, mentored and guarded by space aliens from a very early age.  For some reason, space aliens are just enchanted with this guy.  They visit him at home.  They write him letters and call him "Star Seed."  They follow him to a fireworks display on the Fourth of July.  They sneak inside his house and snap pics of themselves with his digital camera.  They peek in his front window at night, and are videotaped by a camera Stan set up for other purposes (check it out on YouTube). These "aliens" are just cleverly-made puppets.  Reading or watching Romanek's stuff, my bullshit detector goes off the scale. 

Billy Meier.  Billy Meier is a citizen of Switzerland.  In the late 1970's he made quite a splash by showing stunning pictures of (alleged) alien spacecraft around the area of his home, as well as some videos and audio recordings of the eerie sounds made by the spacecraft.

I watched a pro-Meiers documentary from 1978, wherein Meiers was interviewed about his claimed friendship with space aliens from the Pleieades star system.  His photos and videos are impressive, in that they were made at a time before Photoshop and CGI were available to fake such things.  The documentary shows his photos, videos and audios being subjected to 1978 technical, scientific analysis, with the verdict that they are authentic, not manipulated, not obviously fake.  He is given a kind of simplified lie-detector test which he passes.  

Some years later, various debunkers showed how Meier's photos and videos could be convincingly reproduced with models, held aloft with fishing line, using Bonsai trees as background to make the models look much bigger.  The weird sounds in Meier's recordings of the space ships was only the whining of the fishing line, producing an acoustic effect in the wind, with the model UFO's acting as natural amplifiers.  

Sorry Billy.  I call Bullshit.

The "spacecraft" at left is the Type 4 craft identified and photographed by Billy Meier.  Something about it always bothered me.  It was those metal teeth sticking up around the circular edge.  There was something downright industrial about them. 

Then I remembered.  Years ago I worked in a chemical company.  We shipped samples of product in 5 gallon metal drums.  The lids had these metallic teeth, for use with a crimping tool, to secure the lids to the drums.  Some hubcaps from automobiles also have similar teeth, to hold them in place.   The metal teeth on Meier's saucer appear to be an industrial drum lid turned upside down, either that or a hubcap.  Upon thinking about it, I think it is probably the latter.  Somewhere in Switzerland, a 1951 Packard is missing a hubcap.

Meier was caught earlier using a trash can lid for his "wedding cake" saucer.  He forgot to disguise the lid's handle.

Why Do Fakers Fake It?

I'm not a psychiatrist, but it seems to me that fakers do it for the following reasons:

1.  To feel special and important.  If a highly advanced civilization from outer space considers me to be the spokesmen for humankind, well then, I must be vastly superior mentally and morally to all you other slugs.  Billy Meier, for instance, claims to have been given important forecasts for the future, prophecies which must be heeded if mankind is to survive.  He thus has used his UFO shtick to elevate himself to the level of a prophet, seer or sage, a savior of mankind. 

2.  To get attention, praise and acclaim.  I notice that many of these UFO fakers are not particularly impressive in their real lives.  Not much accomplishment:  no higher degrees, no high paying jobs.  They weren't heroes of the grid iron or the battlefield.  They aren't great-looking sex symbols by any means.  They were largely invisible to society prior to their "visitations."  Now, however, they are famous, at least somewhat.

3.  To make money.  Money can be made by selling books and pamphlets to the UFO community, as well as through speaking fees and public appearances.

Another Case:  Pier Fortunato Zanfretta; closing thoughts.  I am currently reading about another "abductee" from the same time as Billy Meiers, an Italian citizen named Pier Fortunato Zanfretta.  I started reading this book because of the hype that it was the most perfect abductee case on record, solid, unassailable.  I'll reserve judgment for the end, but my BS Detector needle is starting to quiver.  Zanfretta has been abducted four times by the same group of tall, green monsters.  It is he, a security guard, that they want to carry information to earthling leaders for them.  This, in spite of his reluctance and strong protests.  He only wants to be left alone.  The aliens give him a special device for communicating with them, and ask him to give it to Dr. Hynek, the famous UFO researcher with Project Blue Book. But the surly Zanfretta throws the device at the wall, breaking it.  Still, the aliens refuse to see anyone other than Zanfretta, even though a team of scientists have asked Zanfretta to recommend them as substitutes.

Suspicious.  However, there is evidence in Zanfretta's favor.  He is hypnotically regressed, like Betty and Barney Hill, to remember his abductions.  His descriptions are consistent and non-contradictory.  He expresses great fear under hypnosis, as he relives the incidents.  Further, when found immediately after his first encounter with the aliens, very large footprints are found around his car at the scene (the aliens are about 12 feet tall), as well as a large circular imprint in the grass, perhaps the outline of the spacecraft.  There is other physical evidence and eye witnesses who also saw UFO's in the area.  Okay, I'll keep reading.  Maybe the aliens are just dumb-asses, preferring as their contact a security guard to learned scientists.

We'll see.

Update:  I finished the Zanfretta book.  The conclusion was disappointing, and I count myself with the disbelievers of this story.  After several hypnotic regressions, the hypnotist notices that Zanfretta no longer responds to hypnotic suggestions or commands.  Some people cannot be hypnotized.  Was Zanfretta faking hypnosis the whole time?

Other disturbing facts:  the aliens promise to give Zanfertta a new communication device (described as a metal pyramid encased in a glass ball), to replace the one he smashed.  However, this is never accomplished.  The aliens also promise to reveal themselves to the scientists working with Zanfretta, but they never do.  The story just peters out and dies.  Later psychological examinations of Zanfretta indicate that he may be prone to delusions.  Like all stories of dubious authenticity, no one except the abductee ever sees the aliens, their ship, or any other physical proof of their existence.

This article has been updated and edited since its first publication.


countenance said...

I think all these weird things that people see going bump in the night (or day), are the products of human beings. We now know that "Roswell" wasn't a weather balloon and certainly not ET, it was American attempts to spy on Soviet nuclear ambitions. So for decades they played this game of good cop (weather balloon) bad cop (ET) to avoid a diplomatic row with the world's other superpower.

So it's very conceivable that all these saucers are the Pentagon's skunk work projects of one sort or another, and they're perfectly happy with a lot of people pratting on about aliens. Let me put it to you this way -- If that midnight radio show was telling you "what the government doesn't want you know," would it be on 500+ radio stations, all of those stations having FCC licensed? Meanwhile, speaking of what powerful people want to censor, we rarely see or hear Jared Taylor on terrestrial media.

Why do a lot of people believe in ET? It gives them hope, that if someone from far away can come here, that one day we'll be able to go there.

Bro said...

They believe in "aliens" because they don't want to believe in God.

Proof said...

You overlook the obvious. My people encourage these frauds so that no one looks beyond the superficial. My people land their FTL ships in the desert, because we heard that was the preferred route of entry for "illegal aliens".

Stogie Chomper said...

You may want to alter your comment before I take you to the woodshed.

My article dealt with specific cases of alleged alien abductions. It was not a denial of the reality of UFO phenomena, nor a denial of the facts of the many thousands of UFO sightings. Each case stands on its own.

Where you are confused is in the definition of UFOs vs "flying saucers." UFOs are "unidentified flying objects." The can be many things: birds, temperature inversions, stars, weather balloons, and maybe extraterrestrial craft from outer space. However, one cannot rationally assume they are the latter without convincing proof. That proof would necessarily require a living alien, or a dead one, and/or the recovery of an alien spacecraft. Anything less is bullshit. Do any of your links describe such proof? I seriously doubt it.

To me, the term "flying saucer" is reserved for extraterrestrial spacecraft operated by intelligent and rational beings from another world. Merely seeing strange lights in the sky proves nothing.

Rick Darby said...

Serious UFO researchers -- and they do exist -- acknowledge that somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of sightings are natural, ordinary phenomena and illusions. That still leaves, in absolute numbers, quite a few over 70 years that defy easy explanation.

You can look at that in various ways. The numbers and a few seemingly credible witnesses do argue for extraterrestrial origin. Then again, if ETs find it worth their trouble to keep buzzing around the earth, why don't they come down and meet us openly? If they can travel immense distances through outer space, why is our planet (presumably technically primitive by their standards) of so much scientific interest to them?

It's unlikely we represent a threat to them. We may blow our own planet to Kingdom Come, but it will be page 38 news for our space brothers.

I agree with Bro: UFO cultists attach so much importance to the subject and alleged government cover-ups because they need something to believe in and have lost touch with spirituality. Even if space aliens exist, they are far less important than the search for God.

Stogie Chomper said...

There are trillions of stars in our galaxy alone. The number of planets that could support life in our galaxy may number in the millions. So I have an open mind about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, technologically advanced. Research into these possibilities should continue, and phonies and fakers debunked.

Stogie Chomper said...

Roger, I cannot and will not base my conclusions about the possibility of extraterrestrial civilizations on the personal opinions of others. Perhaps I have a higher standard of proof than you do. Until and unless these alleged aliens make official contact and reveal themselves to earth scientists and leaders, I will retain a certain skepticism. However, I do have an open mind, whereas yours is already made up. On the other hand, I do find some abduction tales very compelling, i.e. those of Betty and Barney Hill, Travis Walton and the Allagash campers. I am not ready to believe 100% in alien visitations, but I am not ready to disbelieve in them either. For me the jury is still out.

Roger Glass said...

I'm not asking you to base your conclusions on personal opinions. I'm asking you to base your conclusions on reliable evidence. I presented you with the evidence, and showed you why it's reliable. I addressed you just as a lawyer (which I am, though please God not a litigator; I write and prosecute patent applications and perform patent studies - chemical ones) addresses a juror.

You're still talking proof, when you should be talking evidence. No offense, but I really got you on that one.

My mind is indeed made up. Where I have very reliable evidence supporting a proposition, I make up my mind in favor of that proposition.

I didn't and don't talk abductions; I don't even like my doctor going back there, and he's (I hope) human. I almost exclusively talk professional pilots and crews, military and civilian, and radar operators.

Of course I still have some doubts of my own. Do I look completely crazy?

Please show me where I ragged on you for having doubts.

Stogie Chomper said...

No, you didn't "get me." Evidence is not proof, especially where there are many possible alternative explanations. Therefore, any rational researcher will not draw conclusions that are not supported by proof. You are a credulous individual with a psychological need to believe in the reality of aliens, and are impatient with any who do not share your faith. You ragged on me by saying that I don't know anything about the subject, when in fact, I am well-read on it. As for compelling evidence, I discussed that by describing three alleged alien abductions.

Roger Glass said...

Go back and read Grossman. Evidence is for science; proof is for math. Evidence is for science; proof is for math....

Someone who believes poor Betty, Barney, and Travis shouldn't be accusing someone who believes Stafford and Slayton of credulity.

Now did I rag on you for having doubts? Or did I rag on you for being ignorant? Or was it both? Or neither?

I know all about flying saucers, but I don't brag about it. Actually, I'm embarrassed. But you're ll all up on constitutional originalism, libertarian economics, and so forth, which is something to be proud of.

Remember, ignorance and error are the enemies of freedom.

Stogie Chomper said...

Roger, you are dangerously close to wearing out your welcome here.