INTRODUCTION: With both the existence of pure theory and applied evidence supporting the plausibility of the UFO ETH – where the UFO remains a UFO after appropriate expert analysis has failed to find a more terrestrial explanation – lets look at a few more snippets of the phenomena.
FADS: A fad is a temporary fashion – a flavour of the month. Fads come, and fads go. For example, the big band/swing era; white wall tires and tail fins; hula hoops and yo-yos; the Charleston and the Twist; disco music, pet rocks, slicked back hair (greasy kids stuff) and wearing baseball caps on backwards; westerns on TV and the silver screen have mostly ridden off into the sunset; goldfish swallowing; miniskirts, bell bottom trousers and hot pants; and lots more. A fad can be anything that you adopt as a cultural value-adding to your lifestyle that sets you apart from the community at large, yet keeps you reasonably associated as being a part of your contemporaries, but which you could drop from your lifestyle if you wished or if you were required to. It’s often the next ‘must have’ gadget that you just can’t live without (so you are told), but which will be superseded in a year or two by the next ‘must have’ gadget Mark II.
Non-fads are anything that are personal choices yet are also really essential to your day-to-day existence – so a thing like eating isn’t a fad. Sex isn’t a fad. Social interactions aren’t a fad. Even bicycles aren’t faddish because they have become an overall essential, tried and true ways and means of transport. Or, non-fads could be anything that an outside reality clobbers you over the head with, like the weather, death and taxes!
To repeat, fads are temporary phenomena, only briefly imprinting themselves on our collective psyche before the next big thing comes along. What’s the duration of a fad? There’s no fixed time frame – clothing fashions can change drastically from one year to the next; the influence of a blockbuster TV series or a motion picture, or say toys – maybe over several years. TV series don’t normally last more than one generation, usually far less. So, I’ll pick an average of one generation, on the grounds that the next generation don’t want to imitate or do like their parents did. They’d rather do their own thing in their own way. Kids born in the 1980’s aren’t likely to get to misty-eyed and nostalgic over Elvis and the Beatles and “I Love Lucy”.
Well, UFOs (and crop circles) are both way over a generation old now. UFOs in fact are over three generations old by now and going strong. That in itself suggests to me that UFOs are not a mere passing fad, but reflecting a reality that’s something more permanent or on-going.
Fads and non-fads appear in all manner of genres. There are fads in sports, say in baseball where for a while the accent is on power and home runs, yet a decade later it’s the hit-and-run, the sacrifice bunt or fly, walks, and base stealing. Yet a non-fad in baseball is throwing strikes and not making defensive errors.
What about science? Unlike say ‘cold fusion’, SETI is not a scientific fad; it’s gone on way too long for that. The man-on-the-Moon (Apollo) program however proved to be just that – a temporary blip on the landscape. Science graduates often have to choose career paths based on that’s likely to be non-faddish, long-term science. For example, string theory has been a reasonable career path for physics students for many decades now, so string theory can no longer be considered a fad in physics.
One thing is pretty clear – participation in a fad is something voluntary. So, crop circles, if all are manufactured by humans, would have to be faddish, were it not for the long duration of the phenomena. If crop circles, at least in part, have nothing to do with human proclivities to hoax others, then there’s no fad. UFO hoaxes are faddish; immediately jumping to conclusions of alien spaceships when seeing just a light in the sky is voluntary. But, if bona fide alien UFOs are a reality, then seeing one isn’t voluntary and UFOs therefore aren’t a fad.
The bottom line seems to be, if it proves to be ongoing, without any prior cultural background infrastructure, it’s not a fad. If it’s likely to die out within a generation or so, and it can be explained as a natural progression of what culturally has come before, then it’s a fad.
So, are UFOs (and say crop circles) a passing fad? Are UFOs all in the mind, something we adopt as a temporary way of assisting us coping with current reality, perhaps a novelty to give us respite from the ordinary? Are UFOs a reflection of our existing culture, say as expressed via Hollywood themes? Or, are UFOs like the weather – ever present and hammering that point home to us? Does Hollywood reflect the actual presence of UFOs in their themes, or are films perpetuating them in a faddish sort of way?
The origin of the UFO phenomena, if one is to believe the idea that UFOs are all in the mind, was due to the onset of the Cold War, and hundreds of Hollywood films in the fifties played up to the red menace threat, often in the guise of alien invasions (can you recall that catch phrase ‘look to the skies’?). So, if UFOs are a fad, shouldn’t they have died out after the end of the Cold War and the demise of the red menace – reds under the beds? Whatever the origin of UFOs actually was, it does seem to be an origin independent of any cultural influences and no reasonable attempt to culturally explain them, and maintain their presence for over six decades, appears adequate.
Whatever bona fide unexplained UFOs are, they certainly aren’t a fad, rather an ever ongoing phenomenon that’s part and parcel of our environmental background, cause or causes unknown, but probably extraterrestrial IMHO.
HILL, BETTY & BARNEY: The Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction case is a way more credible case than most. Why? Firstly, it was the first – no prior contamination and media saturation with the subject could have influenced them. Secondly, it’s unlikely a mature couple (not teenagers or young adults), and an interracial middle-aged couple at that, with no particular interest in UFOs or sci-fi, would invent such an abduction tale detailing the same sorts of beings that we’ve come to know and love now – the greys. An interracial couple (this was the 60’s) wouldn’t need that sort of publicity, and they certainly didn’t make any fortune out of eventually going public. Lastly, the alleged abduction didn’t happen in their bedroom; it happened while they were driving their car back from holiday. So we have two witnesses giving the same story.
Further reading regarding Betty & Barney Hill:
Friedman, Stanton T. & Marden, Kathleen; Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience; New Page Books, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey; 2007: [Kathleen Marden is the late Betty Hill’s niece and trustee of her estate.]
Fuller, John G.: The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours “Aboard a Flying Saucer”; Dial Press, New York; 1966:
NAME DROPPING: There are physical scientists with professional academic qualifications, who took (or take) the UFO ETH (extraterrestrial hypothesis) question very seriously. Scientists like J. Allen Hynek (scientific advisor the USAF Project Blue Book), James E. McDonald, Jacques Vallee, Bruce Maccabee and Richard F. Haines.
I should also point out that both the former heads of the USAF Project Blue Book (Edward J. Ruppelt) and the British Dept. of Defence UFO study (Nick Pope) wrote books detailing their experiences, and both took the subject very seriously indeed.
Then there are former NASA astronauts like Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell who have come out in no uncertain terms that the UFO ETH is not only plausible, but beyond doubt.
For every well known UFO debunker or sceptic, there’s an equal and opposite pro-UFO = pro-ETH counterpart. In fact, based on over four decades of serious interest in this field, I’ve noted that there have been far more sceptics turned UFO = ETH believers, than the other way around.
ROSWELL 1947: My bits and pieces wouldn’t be complete without reference to Roswell. I don’t wish to say too much about the Roswell, N.M. case (July 1947), other than to point out that the then US Army Air Force admitted publicly, in the media, in newspapers, on radio, that they had captured one of those mysterious (and only recently sighted – the modern UFO era was just weeks old) flying discs. No amount of back-pedalling can alter that now historical fact. It’s on the record. Look it up yourself! But wait, there’s more, and I’m not making any of this up. Firstly, forget the dozens of after-the-fact investigators into Roswell and their tomes. The only thing that really counts here is first hand, on-the-spot, eye-witness accounts. When it comes to that, the name Marcel should ring your bells and whistles.
Major Jesse Marcel (Senior) was the Army Air Force (AAF) as it was then called, military officer directed to investigate the report of some mysterious debris scattered outside of town. Now to achieve a rank of Major, in the military, suggests you’ve been around for a while. You’re not some newly commissioned greenhorn Second Louie. It suggests that one is competent enough to distinguish wheat from chaff. So, Major Marcel (Senior), upon on-site investigation of this crashed debris, became so excited that he actually took some of the debris home to show his family, waking up his young child (Jesse Marcel, Junior) in the middle of the night. It’s the sort of thing a SETI scientist might excitedly do if s/he received ‘that’ signal. Afterward, of course, that, and all the other debris was collected by and turned over to the local AAF. Because of the unusual and highly suggestive other-worldly nature of the debris, the base commander ordered his public relations officer to issue a press statement that the AAF at Roswell had collected the crashed remains of one of these new fangled flying discs. Within 24 hours, higher authority directed that the story be changed and what had actually been recovered was a weather balloon. Major Marcel, the base commander and the press officer, being dutiful military types, just followed orders and said nothing – then. The actual debris was then flown off-site, off the Roswell base, first to Texas (where real weather balloon bits were displayed for a press conference), hence onwards elsewhere, but has apparently vanished now off the face of the Earth, unless of course it is still stored under classified wraps.
That a Major in the US AAF somehow could not tell the difference between debris from a crashed weather balloon (or even in yet another turnaround about-face, a Project Mogul balloon trail – well it’s still just a balloon) and a metallic crashed disc is too implausible or incredible to believe or take seriously. It’s like saying a SETI scientist couldn’t tell the difference between Morse Code and the radio hiss from the Big Bang’s cosmic microwave background radiation!
But wait, there’s more! After Marcel (Senior) retired from the military, he went public with his side of the story – weather balloon? Not a snowballs chance in Hell. His son, 11 years old at the time daddy woke him up, became a medical doctor and also a career military officer. But he now too has spoken out publicly and written about his, and his father’s encounters with what they both termed not-of-this-world technology. Marcel (Junior) remembers vividly that night and that material from the crashed disc collected by his father.
You can find relevant interviews with (now the late) Jesse Marcel (Senior), and his son, Dr. Jesse Marcel (Junior) on YouTube.
The Roswell AAF base commander (Colonel William Blanchard) was never reprimanded or disciplined for ordering the ‘crashed disc’ press release. In fact he eventually rose to the rank of that of Four-Star General.
The First Lieutenant, Walter Haut, who actually issued that press release, also issued a death bed affidavit attesting to the accuracy of the actual (no weather balloon) Roswell events.
Finally, the biggest ‘giggle’ factor detrimental to Roswell credibility are the reports of the alien bodies recovered. Why this should be so is beyond me for if UFOs are ‘manned’ by aliens, and if a UFO crashed, then it stands to reason that there will be alien bodies too – alive or dead. Of course one could argue that maybe the UFOs aren’t ‘manned’, but remote controlled drones – we have such things ourselves. Maybe the alien is actually a form of extraterrestrial artificial intelligence – an onboard machine intelligence that controls/pilots the UFO, and resulting crash debris one couldn’t tell the difference between the remains of the ‘pilot’ from the rest of the nuts and bolts. But back to the bodies – by analogy, on balance, it would seem odd for an airliner to crash and there be no bodies. I find the idea of ‘alien bodies’ to contribute no extra ‘giggle’ factor to the Roswell incident.
Further reading on Roswell:
Marcel, Jesse (Junior); The Roswell Legacy: The Untold Story of the First Military Officer at the 1947 Crash Site; New Page Books, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey; 2009:
SETI vs. UFOs: So sorry to have to say this, but UFOs have a lot more runs on the board than SETI (the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), despite SETI being legit, accredited and accepted science and UFOs anything but. The track record for UFOs as a bona fide ETI subject is way better than the track record for SETI. As even UFO sceptics (like SETI scientists) have to acknowledge, some 5% to 10% of all UFO sightings or incidents remain hard core UFO sightings or incidents after proper analysis (and thus remain plausible or viable candidates for the UFO ETH) – the ‘unknowns’ category. If 5% to 10% of all interesting-at-first-glance SETI signals also proved, after proper analysis, to be legitimate ‘unknowns’; ‘WOW’ signals after the one and only one such ‘unknown’ ever recorded, that would really set the SETI community abuzz. That one SETI “WOW” signal has withstood the test of time – it remains a bona fide SETI unknown. My point is that each and every one of those 5 to 10% bona-fide unexplainable UFO incidents is, for all practical purposes, a “WOW” event, equal in potential to the lone SETI “WOW” signal. In the case of the UFO, the collective of “WOW” events now number in the thousands to tens of thousands. As I said, UFOs have more “WOW” runs on the board than SETI.
Another point is that say there’s one extraterrestrial technologically advanced civilization reasonably close to by – say within 10 to 50 light-years. Say their radio leakage window of (our) opportunity for (our) successful SETI is 100 to 200 years before all transmission traffic is via fibre optical or other cable and the radio noise, their radio leakage, for all practical purpose ceases. So, SETI has up to 200 years to point an antenna tuned at the right frequency and pointed in the right direction to log up a success story. Now, what’s the duration of our extraterrestrial civilization’s attempts to boldly go – interstellar exploration? 100 years? 200 years? No, its way more than that because once started, even assuming the home planet goes kaput, exploration is ever ongoing. So the window of opportunity for us stay-at-home terrestrials to detect these boldly going extraterrestrials (and sooner of later we’d be accidentally stumbled over even if we hadn’t been detected before-the-fact due to our bio-signatures – technological or otherwise) is also pretty unlimited. If they are not here now (UFOs), maybe there’s some evidence they were here 200, 2000 or 20,000 years ago; or maybe tomorrow. The argument doesn’t really alter that much if at all no matter how many technologically advanced (capable of both radio and interstellar travel) there are. Radio leakage is short term; exploration is long term. Therefore, UFOs are a better bet than SETI.
Now that’s not an attack on SETI. I like SETI; it’s good science. I wish SETI every success and if SETI captures THE signal tomorrow, I’d be delighted. It’s just that SETI isn’t the only game in town. UFO research is not a replacement for traditional SETI, but complementary.
SETI scientists & UFO ETH hunters have something in common – they both need the (deliberate or inadvertent) cooperation of what they seek – aliens (if aliens they be). SETI scientists need that radio (or optical or infrared) transmission. UFO hunters need UFOs to just bloody well stand still, or at least have the decency to crash in a public location!
STARGATE: SG-1 / USAF / UFO CONNECTION: “Stargate: SG-1” was a TV spin-off of the feature film “Stargate” that ran for ten seasons and featured several alien races that in the main had links to ancient terrestrial mythology. One such race was the Asgards, and as the name suggests had connection with our Old Norse mythology. The interesting bit was that in appearance, the Asgards just happen to look exactly like the standard ‘greys’ of modern UFO (Roswell and abduction, etc.) lore. This was I’m sure quite by design and no coincidence. This fictional show also confirmed several times over that Area 51 both housed and studied alien/extraterrestrial technology. And so, the fact that both ‘greys’ and Area 51 feature on the show makes one other observation and interesting observation. That other interesting bit is that the stargate in “Stargate: SG-1” was a (fictional) USAF top secret enterprise. The TV show featuring the stargate had the endorsement and cooperation of the actual USAF, probably because the TV show portrayed the USAF in a positive light. In fact, two actual then currently serving USAF Chiefs of Staff (4-star generals) appeared in the actual TV show as themselves! How’s that for endorsement? So, we have the actual USAF assisting (by providing an advisory role, aircraft and personnel to the show) and endorsing a TV show that prominently featured UFO ‘greys’. Okay, I’m probably reading way to much into that. In all probability the USAF connection probably had no actual relevance to any indirect approval of the UFO ‘greys’ in the show by the USAF. That ‘endorsement’ is just pure speculation on my part. So I do have to admit that there’s probably no deep meaning underlying this connection, but I still find it interesting.
UNKNOWNS, THE: The fact, as most sceptics readily acknowledge, is that between 5 and 10 percent of all reported UFO incidents remain unidentified after investigation by those qualified to do so. This fact apparently excites the scientific, astrobiology, and SETI communities not one jot. But, as noted above, if SETI received out of all radio signals, 5% to 10% unexplained radio signals, (“WOW” signals), that of course would set the SETI community abuzz.
In a similar vein, if 5 to 10 percent of particle interactions were unexplainable by the current standard model of particle physics, that would set the physics community abuzz without question.
If the speed of light varied ever so slightly 5% to 10% of the times it were measured, the special relativity community would be agog, and extremely interested.
If 5 to 10 percent of galaxies showed a discrepancy between their red-shifts and their distances, that would set the cosmology community abuzz.
So, why the big scientific yawn over the apparently bona fide UFO’s unidentified percentage? Perhaps it might take sociologists who study the sociology of science to pin that one down. There’s a mystery just begging for serious attention here that has the potential for massive ramifications, not just scientific ones.
VALENTICH 1976: One of many, many highly unexplained UFO cases, is the events surrounding Frederick Valentich on 21 October 1978. It’s more a case of where there’s smoke, there’s smoke, but smoke there certainly is, and lots of it.
In a nutshell, on the evening of that date, Mr. Valentich piloted a private plane from Melbourne, intended destination, King Island in Bass Strait. He took off only to shortly thereafter radio in that there was this UFO hovering over him. The UFO was spotted by several independent witnesses. While radioing his observations, all contact ceased; all communications abruptly ended. Mr. Valentich, plane and all, vanished without trace. An extensive air and sea search failed to find any sign of Mr. Valentich, or his plane. No oil slick, no floating wreckage, no body – nothing, zip, bugger-all. No trace has ever been found of pilot or plane – not then, not since, not ever. The weather had been perfect for night flying.
One obvious explanation was that Mr. Valentich staged his own disappearance, although friends and family could offer no reason why he would do so. Of course many people voluntarily disappear themselves for various reasons; many eventually are found, are caught or reappear voluntarily. But keep in mind; it wasn’t just Mr. Valentich who disappeared. One entire aircraft vanished as well, never to be seen again. Surely if Mr. Valentich wanted to ‘drop out’, there were easier and less conspicuous ways of doing so. If he had deliberately gone walkabout, in these decades since of security cameras and computer facial software recognition technology, it would be hard to remain an unknown walkabout in any populated area.
Was suicide a motive? Again, no wreckage or body was ever found, and who would go to all the bother of reporting a non-existent UFO overhead – a non-existent UFO that happened to be independently reported by others.
And what of the plane since no wreckage was ever found floating on the surface of Bass Strait; washed up on beaches, or found on the ocean bottom – Bass Strait isn’t that deep.
It’s a mystery, and while it doesn’t prove aliens nicked off with Mr. Valentich and plane, there’s not that much wriggle room. Now multiply this sort of unexplained case by the thousands worldwide, and you do have the ETH as a plausible hypothesis.
Interestingly, despite my asking for a copy of the Valentich ‘accident’ case report in an official capacity related to my employment at the time, the Department of Transport (Air Safety Investigations Branch) refused. To this day, to the best of my knowledge, that report has never been publicly released.
Further reading regarding Valentich:
Haines, Richard F.; Melbourne Episode: Case Study of A Missing Pilot; L.D.A. Press, Los Altos, California; 1987: [Dr. Haines was at the time a research scientist for NASA and an accredited air safety investigations officer.]
WAR OF THE WORLDS SCENARIO: No, I don’t mean by this that there is any analogy between the UFO ETH and alien invasion, a typical example being the “War of the Worlds” (be it the novel, the movies, the TV series, the musical, etc.). I refer here to the ultimate resolution of that alien war scenario – that ultimately what defeated the Martians were terrestrial microbes – bacteria to which the alien invaders had no resistance. That was a really excellent plot device – it was also lousy science! If there is one truism in biology, it is that cross-species infection is rare. There are of course a few exceptions to the cross-species infection rule, but they remain by far a minor, minor, minority. Micro-organisms tend to be species specific in terms of their nastiness. Thus, if I sneeze, my cats aren’t in any danger of catching my cold – and vice versa. I’m not about to infect any of my garden plants by touching them with my dirty soiled hands – I’m not likely to become infected with deadly disease from a maple tree. If a wild bird has beak and feather disease and my cats should happen to catch and eat it – well, the bird was doomed anyway, and I’m not going to have to rush the feline predator off to the vet for shots! So, if it is relatively unlikely for one terrestrial species to be a contagion towards another terrestrial species (unless they are very closely related – evolutionary speaking), then what odds a terrestrial species will be deadly to an extraterrestrial species – and vice versa.
What’s the point of all this? Well, if UFOs can be explained by the ETH, then it is unlikely in the extreme that the ETH exists in a species vacuum. That is, ‘ufonauts’ (for lack of a better term), will be associated with their extraterrestrial micro-organisms (maybe ever their extraterrestrial equivalents of head lice, mites, bedbugs, cockroaches and rats depending on how hygienic they are). We do not exist in a bacteria free environment, nor could we even if we wanted to. ‘Ufonaut’ bodies and their UFOs will be as ‘bacteria-ridden’ as our bodies, our homes, automobiles, and in fact any and all other bits and pieces of our environment. We haven’t endured or experienced any pandemic or epidemic due to micro-organisms associated with ‘ufonauts’, and presumably ‘ufonauts’ haven’t caught cold or smallpox or the measles from microbes associated with us, our cats, birds, or any other terrestrial life forms.
So, UFO sceptics can’t invoke the “War of the Worlds” resolution as an argument that the UFO ETH is an invalid one. So, by all means, shake hands with ET (if you meet him/her/it) and don’t worry about any resulting medical bill – it ain’t gonna happen.
However, this does open up an interesting research area – one I’ve never, ever, seen mentioned in the UFO literature. That is, extraterrestrial microbiology. If UFOs are piloted by alien beings, biological beings that must be associated with extraterrestrial micro-organisms, then presumably said ET microbes have entered into our terrestrial biosphere. Presumably, said ET microbes would be so biochemically distinct or unique that any microbiologist examining same would immediately note that something was afoot! Of course, if you’re not looking out for it, you’re unlikely to find it or get that ‘eureka’ moment even if you do find it. Perhaps UFO abductees or UFO landing sites should be examined for the presence of extraterrestrial microbes.
So what then to make of the (late Sir) Fred Hoyle et al. claims or ideas that some of our terrestrial disease outbreaks originated from outer space? It’s a variation on the panspermia idea – life on Earth originated from extraterrestrial microbiological life forms seeding our planet. Specifically that is, Earth’s orbit intersects now and again a stream of bacteria-laden cometary dust and debris – germs from outer space – that impact Earth’s atmosphere and ultimately filter down to ground level and do their infectious thing. Well, there’s no conflict. The two sources of alien microbes are just that – two independent extraterrestrial sources that have no connection with each other. Of course relatively few experts in infectious diseases give any credibility to Hoyle’s theory so that might eliminate that. Then too many scientists give any credibility to the UFO ETH, hence to alien microbes originating from that source. Whether none, one or both ideas have credibility doesn’t result in any ultimate contradictions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 1952: In July 1952, on two separate occasions, separated by one week, UFOs buzzed America’s National Capitol, making long term incursions over restricted air space. They were tracked, independently, by various civilian and military radars. Military jet fighters were scrambled to intercept and identify the UFOs, but were outmatched and didn’t succeed, although they were witnessed by the pilots. The objects were also witnessed from the ground. USAF Major-General John A. Samford, at the largest Pentagon press conference ever held since WWII, in late July 1952, made the statement with respect to the recent Washington D.C. UFO flap that these sightings were made by “credible observers of relatively incredible things”. It’s on the public record.
Now of course these sightings had to be explained by any means necessary since you just cannot admit to having unknown aerial objects fly over restricted air space. So the idea of ‘temperature inversions’ explained all – hogwash. It’s amazing that the common occurrence of ‘temperature inversions’ had never before, and never since, caused such commotion.
THE END (For Now)