Wednesday, 26 December 2007

UFOs and Irrelevant Arguments

Rich Reynolds' latest blog, UFOs: The Cosmology Flaw at http://tinyurl.com/2ufynm
is, I believe, fundamentally flawed. In it, he lists at least one of the standard sceptical arguments about why intelligently controlled UFOs wouldn’t visit Earth; the planet is irrelevant and not worth the trouble. He even goes as far as to say that Saturn or Venus would be more interesting.

This kind of statement, which Rich is a long way from being alone in making, is of a course a personal abstract. What the individual is really saying is, I’m not worth the trouble of travelling 20 million light years through space to come and observe.

I have no idea what UFOs are, or at least no definite theories other than the probability that their solution lies in more than one direction. But what they are or are not isn’t the issue here. For me, it is the claim that we would be of no interest to a sentient species more advanced than ourselves.

To put it bluntly, this is absolute rubbish. Why? Well, it’s true that in order to answer the question, I have to fall into one of my own traps which is to anthropomorphise and make a judgement based on what Humans would do, which admittedly is not necessarily what an alien would do. But to put it simply, we are intrigued by primates, fascinated by insects, and generally enthralled by other intelligence, regardless of how developed or basic it may be. And we are prepared to travel what for us would be vast distances to look for it. When we do discover microbial life on Mars, we will lavish scientific attention on it to a depth probably not experienced before.

Why wouldn’t another sentient species take the same attitude toward us? If they’ve got themselves into space and developed the ability to travel cosmic distances, they have done that in part to investigate. They may have done it for other reasons as well, such as the need to get off their own planet, but unquestionably, curiosity will be part of their motive. It may be base, it may be malignant, but regardless, they would be driven by a desire to explore.

Even if intelligent life is “everywhere” in the cosmos and civilisations like ours are ten a penny, it doesn’t detract from the potential desire to observe and learn. If we are part of a universal evolutionary chain, then we know from our own experience that evolution adapts according to environment and circumstances. Perhaps there are conditions on Earth that have caused us to go in a particular direction, one which may be a little different, a little more unique. And perhaps not. Either way, I have no doubt we are significant enough to be worthy of further examination.

Another irrelevant argument offered against UFOs being intelligently controlled is that interstellar travel would take too long and that the distances are too great. Nothing can contravene the laws of physics which is that faster than light travel is impossible. This argument is flawed in so many different directions it’s difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, there is an assumption that there is no intelligent life nearby, and before you say, “Okay Stuart, where is it?”, my response would be; absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is not an idea I particularly adhere to – that we have intelligent, relatively near neighbours, but by the same token, it cannot be ruled out as an absolute. It may be unlikely and there is no proof, but it is not impossible.

And the claim that FTL travel is impossible is pathetic. It may be impossible in terms of our understanding of physics now, but let’s look a little further ahead and imagine that in 50 or 100 years, our science may just have moved on from where it is now. To rule something out as impossible because currently its fantasy is pointless.

When it comes to ET, we have absolutely no idea; just the cultural imprint that we all carry. We need to free ourselves of these shackles and be prepared for anything, and avoid ridiculous blanket statements such as “Why bother with us?”

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Alien Worlds Magazine

The Internet based magazine UFO Review, which has been in hiatus for the last few months, has metamorphosised into a glossy newsstand print magazine called Alien Worlds.

The first issue will appear on UK retail sale on February 8th 2008 and will be available via a wide array of outlets. Among a number of other European countries also taking the magazine are Ireland, Greece, Poland, Sweden, Israel, Norway and Austria. The selling in process is ongoing at this moment and it is probable that others will be added to the roster before publication. Negotiations are also underway for North American distribution but no details are on hand as yet. As the picture becomes clearer, further information will be posted on our website.

Initially, the magazine will be published bimonthly. It will also be available worldwide via subscription.

Alien Worlds will take a much broader approach to the subject of extraterrestrial life and will encompass astrobiology and SETI as well as the phenomenon of UFOs/UAPs and the origins and development of life here on planet Earth.

In preparation for the launch, a new web site has been created to support the magazine which is located at
http://alienworldsmag.com. It is still being developed but there you will find the identical news service that was previously located at UFO Review as well as a blog, a forum, background information on the magazine, and general articles of interest.

Starting us off, we have a guest article kindly written especially for us by Stan Friedman entitled Flying Saucers and Science - An Overview. In it, Stan explains and describes the background and circumstances that has led to him writing his new book, "my magnum opus", which will be published in June of 2008. The article can be found on the front page of the web site at
http://www.alienworldsmag.com

Barring unforeseen events, it is evident that any imminent progress in the search for extraterrestrial life is going to come first from spaceflight and astronomy. Alien Worlds will be taking a keen interest in those areas.

But UFOlogy cannot be ignored. Unlike the other specialities, it is much more people orientated and while there is a diversity of ideas and opinions in the other disciplines, they generally converge towards a central point. Not so with UFOlogy which is rich in disparity and utterly lacking in convergence. This provides an array of fascinating avenues to explore.

My goal has been to get the level and feel of the magazine to a point where I would buy it if I saw it sitting on a rack, and I don't buy magazines. I am very proud of the result. It represents a more progressive and current approach to the question of extraterrestrial life and brings together under one title a combination of subjects with, broadly speaking, a common goal. There is nothing else like it out there.

For those who share this wider perspective, you will find those principles reflected in
Alien Worlds.

You are very welcome to join us.

Stuart Miller

http://www.alienworldsmag.com

Monday, 10 December 2007

Is The Messiah Coming?

At the risk of seeming like I’m riding on the back of the Exopolitical movement, I was disturbed by the latest email release from Dr. Salla about Comet Holmes. You can read it here at http://tinyurl.com/2m39ho

In my last posting about them (
http://tinyurl.com/3dtn2v), I noted that there was a substantial spiritual element within the movement. But the way that the sudden appearance of Holmes has been received is reminiscent of a previous, distressing event.

I am referring to the Heavens Gate cult and their response to, and expectations of, the Hale-Bopp comet. As you may know, when this comet appeared in 1997, the cult’s leaders, Applewhite and Nettles, convinced their following that there was a space ship riding along in its tail. They also thought that planet Earth was about to be wiped clean and that the way to survive this was to leave their human bodies and transcend through and up to the ship and so be carried off to rapture. To do this, 39 people took their lives.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that the Exopolitical movement is going to instigate a mass suicide event because of Comet Holmes. But I find it unsettling that the comet’s appearance has invoked such a response from them. It is reminisent of some medieval or even neanderthal reaction, the sort you’d expect from superstitious and uneducated peoples. It seems desperate. It has been an excuse for a massive meditation experience with suggestions that its appearance was fortold in a crop circle back in 2005. The comet is not visible to the naked eye at the moment but irnony of ironies, Salla has the following to say:

According to the physicist James McCanney, Comet Holmes is likely to experience another plasma discharge when it comes into alignment with the electromagnetic tails of the Earth and Mars on December 22.

So at Christmas, there will be a large bright light in the sky. Christ almighty.

The Exopolitical movement is in danger of attracting anthropologists and academics who study UFO religions, if, that is, it hasn’t happened already. But if I was Dr. Salla and some clown from some university rang me up and asked if he could come along to observe what I and my followers were up to, then that would be the moment I knew that what I believed in had turned into a joke.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Astrophysics and the Morality of Academic Prejudice

Returning tentatively to the Intelligent Design debate, there is another aspect to this which, like my last piece on the subject, http://tinyurl.com/27n8ch, also leaves me feeling uncomfortable, but this time from a different perspective.

By and large, through out my life, I have tended to find myself in minorities. As a white man in Western Europe that might seem a silly thing to say but there are other areas of my background where I have not always been part of the greater number and because of that, occasions where I have felt uneasy or not in control.

There is a situation that been ongoing for a while within the astrobiological field that also touches on the ID subject and while I have no personal involvement, observing it has made me feel ill at ease. This time however I find myself in the camp of the majority with concern that a minority is being persecuted.

I am referring to the case of astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez who is an Iowa State University assistant professor of physics and astronomy and who also, in his spare time, is an advocate of Intelligent Design. His application for tenure at the University was declined and his supporters allege that this was because of his beliefs. The University counters that "he failed to meet the expectations for scholarly achievement for a faculty member in the department of physics and astronomy during the six years of his probationary, pre-tenure period of appointment" and that his advocacy of the "intelligent design" concept was not a factor in the decision to turn down his request for tenure.

There can be little doubt about Cuban born Gonzalez’s commitment to ID as he is a senior fellow at the infamous Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture as well as a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design, all dedicated, hard core ID propogators.

To be fair to the University, they do put up a good case. In essence, to get tenure, you need to prove that you can draw both money and prestige to the establishment and this you do by publishing peer reviewed articles and attracting sponsorship for research. This, they allege, Gonzalez has failed to do and further add that his telescope time and student tuteledge hasn’t been up to much either. Their final nail in the coffin to demonstrate that they are not academically prejudiced against him is that astronomy is one of their strongest academic programs and that over the past decade, four of the 12 candidates who came up for review in that department also failed to get tenure.

That seems a fair rebuttal and unless it can be factually disproved, seems to be conclusive. But Gonzalez’s supporters are not giving up and unless there are intervening developments, there is a strong possibility that this could end up in court.

Despite everything you still cannot get away from the suspicion that his beliefs are somehow at the back of it all. I have no wish to see them promoted in an academic setting but conversely, I don’t feel comfortable seeing his career progression hindered because of them either. The problem here is that the dispute crosses into personal belief as opposed to professional position and therein lays the dichotomy.

But, if pushed, I regret I hope the university prevail.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Good Doctor and the Aliens

Dr. Michael Salla is nothing if not an honest man. His recent article Exopolitics: Discipline of Choice for Public Policy Issues Concerning Extraterrestrial Life http://tinyurl.com/3d6rkx pretty well tells it as it is. For part of the story you have to read between the lines a little, but most of it is there in your face. The facts are simple; fed up with the likes of UFOlogists Dick Hall, Jerry Clark, and anyone remotely like them, the Exopolitical Movement has taken the next step. That step is to assume there is an extraterrestrial presence as a given and to formulate political policy based on this fact. Unfortunately, because they can’t actually see this presence themselves, there isn’t really any policy, just a lot of hot air.

As the article says, Exopolitical policy is based upon the testimony of whistleblowers, eyewitnesses, scientists and experiencers. Dr. Salla has done an excellent job in the past of defending this evidence but the fact is, all of it is based on intelligence services disinformation and none of it has any real basis in reality. I’m quite sure that Dr. Salla would vigorously oppose that statement and the principle does matter to him because he is an academic, but it doesn’t really matter to the Exopolitical Movement per se because, as I’ve said, they’ve moved to the next step. To them it is obvious that ET is here and nitpicking over the detail is just a distraction.

I may have made that sound a little trite but I don’t particularly have anything against them as long as we recognise them for what they are. They are a religion. Not a formal one as such, but that is what they are. Religions, as we know, are based on faith and faith, to a died-in-the wool UFOlogist like Dick Hall, is anathema because UFOlogy must be based on hard fact and the scientific method in order to achieve respectability. The fact that Dick believes in the ETH when there isn’t a shred of evidence that has any enduring stamina or resolution within a science laboratory that will confirm that fact is an irony that passes him by. But I’ve been there before with this and now is not the time for another rant.

The Exopoliticians are undoubtedly the modern day equivalent of the Contactee Movement and as de rigueur these days is to look back to that period with affection, then there really is no reason why we shouldn’t view Exopolitics in the same way. It is after all a way of thinking and a way of being and they do no harm to anyone that I can tell. Some argue that they are a distraction and they get in the way of establishing a serious interest in UFOs, but I can’t really see that either. They are, to a degree, side lined and anyone drawn to them is never going to be interested in nuts and bolts UFOlogy in the first place. They commune with dolphins and have a strong spiritual element to them and are clearly a New Age conscript. They seem, actually, to be quite nice people.

If one was being really cruel, one could argue that from a neutral viewpoint, the difference between them and established UFOlogy is paper thin anyway. It is simply a matter of position but essentially, both sides believe. One assumes greater intellectual authority while the other has said, “Bugger that” and just gets on with it. It’s all pretty pointless as there is no control, and everyone is a victim.

Perhaps after all, a “Bugger that” attitude is the way forward for we’re never going to get any help from anyone here on Planet Earth. And perhaps, also, it is too early to judge them for they are still a fledgling movement. Their time may yet come.

But in terms of establishing the fact based reality of extraterrestrial life, I'm afraid they're pretty hopeless.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Cosmic Dust; Oh, Ok Then – Star Seed

If there is one subject that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable, it is the debate about Intelligent Design that has raged in the States for a couple of years.

I do in fact believe in Intelligent Design but the moment I utter that statement, I feel the immense urge to run away very quickly while simultaneously shouting, “But I’m not with that lot”.

“That lot” are the vast bulk of ID’ers who are to the religious right and who believe that because Nature is such an amazing complexity of beauty and staggering synchronisation, that it is far too intricate to have simply been the result of natural development (evolution) and that everywhere you look, there is evidence of a greater power having been at work.

I recognise and accept evolution and I don’t for one moment believe that God created the world 5,000 years ago. Neither do I believe in sexual abstinence, chastity, or that taking drugs is bad. And for that matter, I’m an atheist in so much as I don’t believe in God in the spiritual sense. However, I do think there was a creator, and a creator with a small “c”.

I think that life started on this planet as a result of Panspermia, out of the hundreds of thousands of tons of space dust that lands on this planet each and every year. The building blocks of life that contain the blueprints for existence cosmically roam the universe looking for Goldilocks planets like Earth and when they find one, they take hold. How far they go is a matter of chance for it is at this point that evolution steps in and the random element comes in to play. Very likely, as common as intelligent life might be, microbial life will be far more common.

I think there is a cosmic gardener that spreads this seed and I think he scatters it and then sits back and watches what happens. He puts the very basics in but doesn’t interfere any further. If it catches and grows then fine, but if not, well there’ll be another planet along in a short while.

And so, in case it isn’t obvious, I believe in directed Panspermia. I think the effort to spread life is deliberate. I don’t choose to call the force that does that God.

But Panspermia isn’t the complete answer and like with any theory about the origins of life, as you follow it back, you always come up against the same brick wall; who or what started it? Who is this force that I think spreads cosmic dust everywhere and, if it is an alien being, who or what created him, and so on.

Even if you assume, as is the case, that In The Beginning there was absolutely nothing; no time, no space, no continuum, not even a void, some chemical reaction started the process leading to the Big Bang. What kick started that?

It is only at this point that I have some sympathy for religion. From our present understanding, I can appreciate the frustration in trying to climb over this final hurdle and faced with the impossibility of an answer, I can sympathise with the desire to submit to a paranormal super being of omnipotent and supreme power.

But for most in science, that is a kop out and the search for the defining solution is the reason why many of the white coats still get out of bed in the mornings. I am with them on this one. What is confusing is that some scientists also claim to believe in God, which is scientific blasphemy. There is no spiritual element to this conundrum, just, somewhere in the depths of the cosmic blur, a single CSICOP’ian fact.

Amen.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Yes, Aliens Are Among Us

It is always reassuring when one of the most eminent specialists in your favoured field offers ideas that correspond to yours. Generously, Paul Davies has done just such a thing in his excellent SciAm article Are Aliens Among Us?

http://tinyurl.com/3b8voo

He starts by reflecting on the unresolved question of whether Earth is unique or whether life is prevalent everywhere. It seems bizarre to me that given the historical examination of meteorites, the astronomically observed clouds of cosmic dust, the clear evidence that basic life forms can survive in extreme conditions, the likelihood that water probably isn’t a prerequisite and the commonly held scientific view that life will be found on Mars, that there are still people who believe that Earth stands alone. It is simply mathematically impossible. Davies says;

How can scientists determine which view is correct? The most direct way is to seek evidence for life on another planet, such as Mars. If life originated from scratch on two planets in a single solar system, it would decisively confirm the hypothesis of biological determinism. Unfortunately, it may be a long time before missions to the Red Planet are sophisticated enough to hunt for Martian life-forms and, if they indeed exist, to study such extraterrestrial biota in detail.

My only point of disagreement with him here is his definition of “a long time”.

The remainder of his article reviews the possibilities of, using a term that he has borrowed from Carol Cleland and Shelley Cop­ley of the University of Colorado, shadow life. This concept, which I believe to be a strong possibility, is that either alien life forms are already here or alternatively are the result of a previous genesis. When we talk of “alien life forms” we aren’t referring to ET in the shape of a gray, but to microbial life, so exciting it isn’t. It is more than conceivable that such forms exist and that science is simply not aware of them yet. There could even be one sitting on your sleeve at this minute.

Likewise with a previous genesis. There may be paleontological evidence of an earlier “start up” but discovering it is another matter.

This article is an outstanding overview of the areas where alien life might exist on Earth and how it might thrive. You may reason that if all we’re talking about are effectively specks of dust, does any of it really matter? But the central issue of how life originated has, as yet, eluded us and any clue that can help us on our way to that answer has to be worth the effort.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

UFOs And The National Publicity State

The recent run of publicity relating to UFOs, a combination of events, has certainly been unusual and a real fillip to the moral. The Larry King Show and the respectful treatment the subject received (along with the drubbing of James McGaha), the National Press Club conference in Washington with what looks like a credible list of witnesses, the Dennis Kucinich incident and the debate that generated, and the publicity surrounding the impending release of Clinton correspondence with Laurence Rockefeller have all raised the profile. One man stands head and shoulders above the melee for carrying the responsibility for the bulk of this and that is film director James Fox. He has come over as an articulate and level headed individual who has brought his many talents to this subject and I for one am grateful.

One unfortunate side affect of all of this has been the resurgence of the original Disclosure Project, anxious to ride along and even to possibly hi-jack the success of the Washington news conference. On this occasion they are assisted by the Exopolitical movement in the shape of Alfred Webre. While I suppose inevitable, I feel it best if they could be ignored, for they will do nothing other than to detract from the credibility that has been painfully and gradually reinstated. While never being an Exopolitical fan, I was always tolerant and recognised that they had a place. Now I wish they would just shut up.

At the risk of being considered negative, I do not however feel that James Fox’s efforts will achieve anything other than a very welcome hike in public awareness. Firstly, I don’t actually think there are any UFO secrets to reveal, although it would always be interesting to hear current government/Pentagon opinion on the phenomena. But most importantly, UFOs have been a highly advantageous asset to the intelligence services over the years and it’s fairly obvious that they aren’t finished with them yet. To give this tool up by revealing The Truth i.e. “We haven’t got a clue”, and in so doing, demystify the subject, would not be in their best interests.

Which is a pity. I guess it’s conceivable that if public opinion was to move in a particular direction over the next couple of years and the “right” candidate wins the presidential race, there is an outside chance of something developing, but I wouldn’t hold your breadth.

On the other hand, high viz publicity tends to attract and while it may not attract the American government, it might draw in some institution or wealthy individual who wishes to investigate further. I can’t see anyone complaining about that.

For the moment though, I am enjoying the revival, as I hope you are. If it proves one thing, it is that UFOs just won’t go away.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Kucinich Afterthoughts – America Grows Up.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat after the “Kucinich Affair”, it is time to take stock. What, if anything can we conclude from the event?

Plenty. I think it has had a very positive effect for UFOlogy.

Sure it started out following a well worn path; public figure admits to seeing a UFO and he’s mocked, sniggered at, and doubts are cast about his mental state. What’s new? Kucinich wasn’t helped either by the fact that the original source of the story is the biggest flake in The Land of the Giddy.

But the fallout didn’t quite go with the plan. There were sounds of balance, of a refusal to condemn and “he’s not alone” from some quarters of the press. He was also helped by precedent. In the end, the ridicule came from the Republican right who ended up shooting themselves in the foot as their over the top responses failed to find an audience. Most folks just shrugged their shoulders and said, “So what?” Certainly, if he’d had any chance prior to the event of winning the nomination (which he didn’t), his chances subsequently wouldn’t appear to have been affected.

I don’t think its overstating something to say that Kucinich’s UFO sighting may have marked a turning point in public perception, understanding and maturity in relation to this matter. There might now even be some perceived value in other candidates stepping forward and admitting to ghostly encounters or NDEs or something similar. Times have changed. People have become inured to “wackiness” and are generally less judgemental, and making an announcement like this isn't seen as an impairment to a public career. Much of the reaction was more to do with relating Kucinich’s experience to ordinary people and there was definitely an empathic undercurrent at work. And that's where the votes come from.

Other than the fact that Kucinich is a left leaning, social welfare tax raising commie bastard, I say “Well done” and wish him well.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

We always were in the land of make believe with the Serpo story but after the latest Victor Martinez postings relating to the Reagan debrief, we’ve moved into the nether underworld of the fairies.

Has Rick Doty lost his touch or is debasing the premise of the story even further part of some dastardly complicated disinfo ploy, the motive for which defies even his perverse mind? Is he, at last, past it? Is he living in some time warp where he thinks the rest of us still have our minds in the 90s?

What has been revealing is that the Believers Paradise into which this was launched has reacted much the same way as I have. No one is having it and there doesn’t even seem to be a desire to want to anymore. And can Doty ever be forgiven for making Reagan seem like such an irritating twerp?

As his brief appears to be to determine the government’s ability to play with people’s minds and to see what does and doesn’t float, then this feeble attempt could well be part of that programme. How far can folk be pushed into believing the ridiculous? What is their limit? Never underestimate the stupidity of the general public says Scott Adams, and he might have a point. Prior to the NFL’s invasion of Wembley Stadium in London last week, a radio interview with some unnamed player broadcast in the UK prior to arrival revealed the guy didn’t know that in England we speak English.

There is no doubt that Doty carries an aura about him and even seasoned and knowledgeable UFOlogists appear to be aware they are in a presence when they meet him. I haven’t had that pleasure, yet, and find it difficult to weigh him up on occasions. I simply can’t decide if he’s brilliantly clever and we’re all very stupid or if he’s not very bright to start with but we’re even dumber still. How smart do you have to be to present yourself as a lightweight?

I’ve contradicted myself on this before but just at this moment in time, I am of the opinion that Rick Doty is not the cleverest man walking the face of this planet.

Perhaps he has been unlucky with his timing on this occasion as he has had to compete with other simultaneously published serious rubbish. Richard Hoagland hosted a news conference announcing that alien artefacts had been discovered on the moon, yet again.

And attention was further diverted by Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich stealing the national limelight as he was put through the wringer on national TV, having been stabbed in the back by his dear friend Shirley MacLaine who revealed in a book that Dennis had seen a UFO. This debate had the unfortunate consequence for Rick of raising the discussion on the subject of UFOs from Rick’s sub prime moron level to that of “a subject worthy of acceptable discourse”. As a consequence, Rick’s material has been left dragging itself along in the sewer, where it belongs.

We are all malleable, much as some of us might prefer to think otherwise and personally, I enjoy being taken for an idiot. But when it gets to the point that the perpetrator looks like he’s lost the plot, then the game becomes boring.

And Serpo and Doty and Reagan and his ET debriefing is very, very boring.

Friday, 26 October 2007

ET and Humans

I am at a continual loss to comprehend the complete lack of imagination applied to the enigma of human reaction to contact. Astronomy seems to be emotionally detached and approaches the subject in an academic monotone. UFOlogists just don’t get it and the liberal sciences rarely think of it.

Either people can’t envisage the response or they don’t want to.

Of course, it’s an unknown quantity but I simply can’t go along with the thinking that not a lot would happen, that people would be under-whelmed or that little would change. The manner of contact would be key and the consequences would understandably vary depending on whether we were being attacked or whether, for example, an artificial extraterrestrial construct was discovered in space. For the sake of this thread, let us assume the most benign possibility of them all; SETI detects a signal. And it comes from light years away and somehow SETI are able to establish that those transmitting are unable to reach us. There is no danger, no immediate threat of eradication, just a presence.

Hysteria anyone? Well inevitably there would be but to what degree is anyone’s guess. For guidance, Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds is what we point to, amidst revisionist claims that the reaction has since been exaggerated and was nothing like it has historically claimed to have been. Perhaps the myth is greater than the reality but the relevance today is oblique. Gone are the pre Second World War tensions of 1938 and the memories of a devastating depression, to be replaced with a hyped up, fear driven, head in the sands religious zeal of biblical intensity and dogma. Is there more fire and brimstone now than in 1938? Yes but, no but. It’s different, it’s the same.

But Roswell happened and if anything, that was more real. At least we all went looking to kick Orson Welles’ butt after the joke was revealed but in 1947, one of them actually landed here in America, did it not? The cheek of it! No, no hysteria, just intense curiosity.

Sixty years later we’re still in the same mess. For different reasons, what prevails now is what has prevailed for ever; fear. The Iron Curtain has gone and is replaced with Iran or terrorism or both but whatever, we’re still under the cosh, we can never relax, and at one level at least, human existence is a pretty miserable experience.

Conflicting with this zeal are increased levels of education, awareness, maturity and suspicion of government - the counter weight. Today is what matters and it’s a difficult call. My opinion is that there would be substantial elements of world wide hysteria which couldn’t be ignored, for it would inevitably impinge on the calmer elements. The most un-endearing quality within the psyche of the human spirit is arrogance. Our world is full of strutting little despots, be it militarily, politically, administratively, the religious realm, or even in our personal lives. People full of their own self importance and power, without humility or empathy, who would seize the opportunity to terrify and manipulate. Martial law in some quarters would be a real possibility. After all, this would be an event of a life time.

Would calm ever be restored? Would the threat of the devil a’coming be assuaged sufficiently for people to shrug their shoulders, go back to work, and get on with their lives? I guess pretty much, particularly when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse miss the starting line up for the 3:20 at Kempton. But sociologically, it could never be the same. A fissure of irreparable width would sear through the human throng and the mountains of Montana and other world wide remoteness would begin to resemble overcrowded metropolises. This, mind, relates to the “bad” part of hysteria, those with the complete screaming had-dabs, rolling tongues, staring eyes, and dribble down their chins. The “good” part are those who merely expect rapture. Large numbers of these will die in road traffic accidents as drivers attempt to swerve out of the way of figures kneeling in prayer in the middle of the road. It’s not beginning to look like a good thing.

Back in Normalsville, how would Mr Average react? Why don’t I ask him? Well, if I was absolutely assured of their non threatening behaviour, I’d be very curious, I would want to know whether they were ahead of us technologically, whether they would want to meet, what they looked like and what their world was like, what we could learn from them and them us; the usual things. I don’t think my inner self would be changed because of the realisation that we are not unique but rather to the contrary, there would be a real pleasure that we weren’t alone. I would probably undergo some element of spiritual sensation but only to the extent of putting candles around the bath. I wouldn’t start high tailing it off to church or temple any more frequently than I don’t do now and I wouldn’t get the colly wobbles either. I would feel different, certainly. I would be uplifted and feel like there was a point to it all after all. I would expect a reaction from my political leaders by way of an example and if it failed to come, I would be prepared to launch a physical attack against them because of their stupidity in not taking an opportunity for change. I would expect to see a world wide improvement in international relations a la the Regan principle. I would expect a realignment of views and approach. Frankly, I would expect a changed world and peace to break out all over the place. And if it didn’t, I would be very, very cross. It would be time to cut the crap.

So, he’s got an opinion or two then. What he left out is how small the Earth would begin to look and yet at the same time, how wonderful a place it will seem. Mental health issues would surge to the fore - “ordinary” issues like depression and schizophrenia would be rampant. The suicide rate would undoubtedly shoot up. There would be social unrest, disquiet, and extremes of communal highs and lows. There would be great joy, dramatic displays of human kinship and love and an animosity towards authority.

Science will pause and hold its breadth, not knowing which way to turn. Astrobiology will be cock a hoop. Anthropology will be thrown into confusion. Physics will want to give up. There will be many more questions than answers. The economy will suffer dramatically. Substantial numbers just won’t care anymore and will stop working. Markets will crash and turmoil will prevail. The quality of life will assume an even greater importance than it presently does.

What happens if I’m just not interested? That’s not an option – you won’t be allowed to be not interested. You won’t be left alone. Your senses will be assaulted by every conceivable media outlet. Your friends, your work colleagues will have little else of conversation. Literally, the only way to avoid it would be to lock yourself away in your house and shut the rest of the world out.

All this just from a confirmed SETI signal. I wonder what it would be like if we were under attack?


Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Anthropomorphism and Extraterrestrial Life

I am reminded of the ongoing circle of imaginative discourse involved in attempting to see planet Earth and its cosmic relevance through the eyes of an extraterrestrial over at Paul Gilster’s Centauri Dreams. In his piece Self-Consciousness Among the Stars he says;

Sometimes it seems that we humans give ourselves too much importance in the cosmic scheme of things. After all, what would our little planet have to offer in a galaxy that, as The Age (Melbourne) notes, is made up of 100 billion stars (and there’s that number again, 100 billion, which reminds me that estimates of our Galaxy’s stellar population range from this low-ball figure all the way up to Timothy Ferris’ whopping one trillion). Aren’t humans, we ask, just one more backward species trying to evolve?

Maybe, but the problem is that we have no way of knowing the answer. If we are the only civilization in the Orion Arm, then we’re hugely significant. If we’re one of ten thousand, then we’re not.

Giancarlo Genta, who has written wisely and sanely about SETI in his new book
Lonely Minds in the Universe (New York: Copernicus, 2007), would add that we don’t really know whether intelligence and self-consciousness always co-exist.

Paul encapsulates both points of view by either referencing in the third person or by quoting someone else. It would have been nice to know his opinion.

The opinion I hear most often, but do not share, is the former; namely that if a civilisation is capable of interstellar travel, we could not possibly be of any interest to them.

But I beg to differ. Regardless of the frequency of other life, as he himself illustrates, we have no real idea of how intelligence and consciousness from another environment might present itself. If we were to happen upon life that was obviously sentient but very different to us, we’d be intrigued and we’d stop or at least observe.

The futility of such a comment though is obvious. How can we possibly presume to know how another intelligence would think? If one extends that argument further, then a massive question mark must even appear over SETI as well.

So it seems we have no choice but to anthropomorphise because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t even get started, and there’s not much point to that.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

SETI; I blame Stan Friedman.

I was delighted for SETI the week before last that they got such a tremendous PR boost from the coming-on-line of the Allen Array at Hat Creek. Furthermore, one is reminded of how fortunate they are to have such a generous benefactor in Paul Allen. This is a classic example of putting your money where your mouth is except that in Mr. Allen’s case, I never actually heard him talking about the search for extraterrestrial life before he became involved with SETI. To be honest, I’ve not heard him talk much about it since then either, so he’s obviously a very discrete individual.

The fact that there is antagonism between the SETI and the UFO camps is down to Stan. He has set the tone and the pace over the years and the rest of us, incapable of independent thought and sheep like, have followed suit. The Silly Effort To Investigate is quite a catchy jingle and one wonders why Stanley has never forsaken UFOs and nuclear physics and turned instead to the wonderful world of advertising, where his intellect might have earned him a crumb or two.

And it is all so self serving. Inevitably over the years, Stan and Seth have crossed swords and Stan has continued to lick his wounds. Seth of course, cannot for a moment give any ground because if he does, the game is up. If he even hints at the possibility that ET has already been here then the big switch gets thrown at Mountain View and someone will be looking for other gainful employment.

To be fair to Stan, the work and the approach that SETI takes attracts almost as much universal criticism pro rata as does the study of UFOs. Many regard SETI as simply pissing in the wind; that their whole premise is based on an erroneousness assumption and they should be using other methods other than the radio spectrum or, they should instead be transmitting instead of just listening, and so on. And most interestingly, they too have been accused of being faith based and not much better than a religion, something that will be familiar to UFO advocates. The more you consider it, the more alarming the scenario becomes as you realise that the niggles between the two groups are like two siblings squabbling.

That said, SETI have my unquestioning full support. We should be grateful for any properly organised attempt at discovering ET and if there is any honesty and generosity of spirit within UFO circles, then it behoves them to support Seth and his tribe. But there isn’t, so they won’t. Nonetheless, I can’t help feeling that both sides are going to miss out and that it will be the astrobiological mob that will plant the flag and be the first to discover and confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life.

As in many conflicts, there is great irony. Stan and Seth both seek intelligent life. The astro crowd want that too but are arguably the party with their feet most firmly planted in the world of reality and probability. The bugs will win.

I do have my own criticisms of SETI but they are more to do with their PR side. Their web site is poor, despite a recent overhaul and their general publicity machine could do an awful lot more than it does. But their heart is in the right place and their goals are spot on.

I wish them well and I thank Paul Allen.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

UFOs and Science

People who have had long, distinguished careers in a subject, who have contributed through books and even been a part of the history, should command the respect of others. That Dick Hall doesn’t do that for me is either a testimony to my mean mindedness or a tribute to his ability in pissing people off. Dick requires patience and “understanding” to deal with, and I can’t be bothered.

A major area of antagonism is his complete lack of good grace or manners towards others. Fresh from snarling at all and everyone, he has recently posted this message to the UFO UpDates message board. It’s about science and UFOlogy. In between regularly insulting the entire List about its complete lack of any scientific bearing or approach, it would seem that it is only him, a non scientist, who truly applies the scientific method in analysing UFOs.


Following up on recent posts about how science could and should study UFOs, here is what I outlined in The UFO Evidence, Vol. II (2000).

I thought I had it on a floppy disc, but if so I couldn't find it. In the original I argued the case more fully, so this is a bare-bones outline.

From The UFO Evidence, Vol. II (Scarecrow Press, 200), pp. 645-647,I reported the "Elements of a Scientific Study." Condensed here they are:

I. Adequate funding for scientific personnel and administrative staff infrastructure.

II. Systematic gathering of both historical and current information at one or more collection points.

III. Quick reaction teams equipped with instruments to conduct timely field investigations.

IV. Re-establishment or establishment of new reporting networks similar to successful ones of the past.

V. Cataloging, documenting, and data analysis of evidential types of UFO reports:

a. E-M effects
b. Radar
c. Physiological/medical effects
d Landing traces
e. Animal reactions
f. Photographic evidence
g. Computerized pattern and correlation analysis

VI. Publication and peer review of data, analysis, and findings.

VII. Testing of the hypothesis that some UFOs represent an as yet unexplained, potentially significant phenomenon of worldwide scope, giving both the appearance and some instrumented evidence of being solid, structured objects (i.e., craft).


No, there’s nothing wrong with what he’s written, just in case you were wondering, and they are all very admirable sentiments. The only difficulty is that none of it is based in the land of reality. In fact, it is so far removed from the real world it almost makes me cry.

What scientifically based institution is going to undertake this sort of programme? None, for the simple reason, and I’m not being cynical here, that there’s no money in it. If he can coral Dan Akroyd or some other starry eyed celebrity with more cash than sense to divvy up then he might be in luck, but I doubt it.

Of course Dick gives the whole game away with his last paragraph. What he is saying is this: I believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft and I want science to focus all its resources into proving my pet theory. Sure Dick; here’s a few million dollars to indulge yourself with, you moron.

One of the small problems he faces is that there is precious little evidence on which to base a serious scientific study in the first place. Of course Dick would probably burst a blood vessel in his rush to disagree. He would wave his bundles of witness statements and photographs and all manner of other material but it’s all irrelevant because it begs one question; if there was any substance to any of it, someone would have jumped in before. Lots and lots of companies would want to know how a UFO flies and how it’s built.

Why do I always have to bring everything back to money? Because that’s the way America works.

Try as he might, he refuses to grasp what is obvious to most. There is a phenomenon but it’s probably in the plural and no one has a clue as to source. There’s simply no starting point. But Dick wants to throw money at it.

Oh, you can measure light refraction or cloud levels or where the nearest airport is or take an EM reading or even note when the dog last farted. But when you’ve done all that, then what? It’s anomalous! That helps a lot.

Worse, it could just be that his most favourite person in the whole wide world, Jacques Vallee, might even be right or at least going in the right direction. That would mean no Little Green Men for Dicky.

He just can’t let go of the ETH but wants it all nice and cuddly and respectable. He wants to be able to walk tall and feel that he has the weight of respected society and its institutions behind him instead of constantly ducking as yet another journalist labels those who study UFOs as nutters. He is trapped in a tunnel vision hell-hole without the intellectual capability or courage to cast his eye further a field which, by my reckoning, doesn’t make him very bright. It’s the ETH or nothing for him and he wants Society to bale him out. It is never going to happen.

We all want the ETH Dick. It's just some of us have grown up.

The great irony is, science not only takes an interest in, but is actually leading the march towards the discovery of extraterrestrial life. And it will unquestionably find it. But Dick isn’t interested in whether there’s extraterrestrial life; he’s interested in UFOs.


As I said, it’s enough to make me cry.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Disclosure

I find the entire concept of “Disclosure” a most bizarre line of reasoning. It is so unimaginative, restrictive, and incomprehensible that I wonder about the mindset of those that look to it and hope for its coming.

What I find perplexing are the assumptions. The primary one is that the government knows something or at the very least, knows more than us. This belief, for that is what it is, is based on the notion that government is powerful and all knowing and simply must have the answers, because of its resources, to what has been happening in the skies above us. They have these answers because they have somehow developed unspecified machinery or equipment that is capable of giving them this information or because ET has previously secretly made contact with the American regime and said “hello.”

People who follow this credo are no better than sheep in a flock; “Someone will tell me because I need to be told. I also need to be told when to wipe my ass.” I think the best that one can objectively claim about the American government is that they might have suspicions about this or about that but very little else. There is much argument and debate about just how easy it is for Government to really keep something secret. The most oft quoted example is the Manhattan Project during the Second World War, a programme in which many thousands of people were involved and about which not a word leaked out. And there are also undoubtedly many secrets concerning major events which have still to see the light of day.

I am one of those people who think, by and large, that Governments can’t keep secrets and that inevitably, stuff does come out. What confuses the issue is that other stuff also floats about so that one can never know for sure which premise is the right answer. But that the truth is out there is beyond question.

One can lose sight of the fact that “Government” is made up of beings called “People”. Regardless of their discretion, their intellect, and their skills, the bottom line is they are just like us, with all the foibles, weaknesses, and mental issues that the rest of the population possess. They aren’t anything particularly special.

If the study of UFOs should have taught us anything, it is exactly the same lesson to be learned from the study of the paranormal and from Bigfoot; intangibility and elusiveness. Everything is always just beyond our reach and just over the horizon. And yet in the eyes of those asking for disclosure, somehow, this doesn’t appear to apply to the government.

Or maybe it is that ET has chosen to make contact directly to a nation’s leadership. Why would He do this? Because it’s the obvious thing to do? Obvious to whom? Obvious to our way of thinking and of doing things perhaps, but how can we possibly assume to know how an extraterrestrial might think?

People want answers and that is understandable. But demand for disclosure is a shifting of responsibility and immature reasoning. It is a lazy way of blaming someone else for the frustration that the study of UFOs brings about.

And the ironic thing is, if the Americans announced that ET was here, half of those clamouring for The Truth wouldn’t believe them and would insist they were still covering something else up.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Have Aliens Ever Visited Planet Earth?

As my journey within UFOlogy has moved on, my philosophical position has mirrored that of a fuel gauge in a car, moving gradually from full to near empty. From being an almost wide eyed believer, I have become sceptical. Not cynically so, not bitter or fed up, but in to a position that I think of as a realistic perch on which to sit. This has happened as a result of recognising the degree and depth to which UFOlogy has been the victim of the American Intelligence services.

In early October of 2007, I posted up on the UFO Review website an article by Canadian writer Bernard Pelletier which amounted to a good old fashioned side swipe at sceptics. I prefaced it with the observation that the views contained did not necessarily represent the opinions of the web site etc but the article had some element of worth and although I disagreed with it fundamentally, within certain limits I’m quite prepared to offer a platform to pretty much anyone.

The writer displayed the despair of the scared believer, one who feels his position undermined but who is desperate not to let go. It was, frankly, a rant. My reason for mentioning this is to illustrate the point that sceptics come in a variety of colours and shades and to blindly thrash around waving a bat at all of them is silly.

You see, I believe that aliens have visited planet Earth.

When most people offer the opinion that they think it’s very unlikely that ET has visited here, inevitably they do so from the trapped cultural perspective of the Gray. They may not have that word in mind but undoubtedly behind the statement, somewhere in their consciousness, will be a mental image of something with a head and limbs jumping out of a saucer-shaped craft. That scenario is just so unlikely that it’s a doddle to reject. And it’s true; it is easy to reject because for one thing, there’s no acceptable proof.

This is a trap that we all constantly fall into, as do those who insist that faster then light travel is impossible. On the one hand, at some level we recognise that this is a mysterious subject that has defied explanation for centuries. It presents itself in myriad forms that perplex, puzzle, frighten and confuse. It fills us with awe and fear as well as intense expectation and reaches into the Human spirit in a way that shuts out the mundane and excludes the banal.

Yet we look at it through the camera lens of Stephen Spielberg. What we don’t do is to bring to this subject the one thing that it needs: imagination.

We want what we want, and what we want is the cliché. However people twist it, however they deny it, and no matter what intellectual or research level they hold within UFOlogy, fundamentally, they want their Space Brothers. They want to be rescued, guided, and mentored. Which is why for many people within the subject, the science of astrobiology induces a yawn.

Microbes aren’t exciting and they don’t interact. Red rain remains a phenomenon that can be conveniently ignored. The bizarre life forms that might have evolved on Europa are just glorified fish. And the Mars Rovers are a pain in the ass because nothing so far has stood up in front of them holding a card reading “Come and get me Earthlings”.

ET is here alright. He’s the bumble bee in the room or the dust swirl in the garden. He is frankly, anything your imagination can let him be. But if there is intelligent life out there, no matter how far away it might be, that is a hundred years or more ahead of our science, and there will be, then it will have come. It will have got here and had a look at our planet and lamented the pitiful lack of imagination among its inhabitants
.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Welcome

Welcome to the blog of Alien Worlds magazine.

We will start posting regular blogs here soon.