Our Modern Court Jesters
In previous essays I have included details of sightings of UFOs by multiple experienced and credible observers from varied backgrounds, including professionals in aviation and law enforcement. I have also cited examples of the proof of the reality of UFOs in radar trackings, their electromagnetic effects on our electronic devices, and sometimes resultant injuries to humans. There has also been corroboration of eyewitnesses in the form of increased radioactivity on the ground, post holes and broken tree branches and shrubbery where craft have bee seen to land or depart.
What do government officials say about this evidence? Mostly nothing, unless it is too widely disseminated or too obviously credible to be ignored. Well, what about our scientists? They must be extremely curious about what may lie behind these episodes, musn’t they?
If there is any curiosity, by almost all scientists curiosity seems to be suppressed or ignored. And with few exceptions, when government officials or scientists do respond, it would appear to be preferable if they too would just ignore it. The usual government effort is to depict as fools or incompetents, those reporting the sightings or any evidence of them, or to assume that the public consists mostly of such folks, or perhaps of folks who do not care. Meaanwhile the responses of most of the scientists, or other civilians who address the matter seem, at times, almost designed to make fools of themselves.
None of that is to say that these skeptics, or clowns, are not effective. The weapon of the scientists and other non-governmental persons is ridicule. Adeptness in the art of ridicule has almost always been the best substitute for lack of logical argument. Our debunkers today are the modern personification of the medieval court jesters whose task it was to ridicule the king’s enemies.
Case in point: An article, “Out of this World, Out of Our Minds” in the New York Times of July 4th 2010 contains a mildly derisive take on the current state of affairs of the extraterrestrial scene. Offered as something truly hilarious is his quote of the professional debunker Phil Plait. Plait was commenting on a report of some peoples’ attention to a bright light over Lake Erie and Cleveland. Did anyone think it was a UFO? Plait didn’t say, but as quoted in the article, Plait had the following dialogue with himself: “Could it be an alien visitor from another world? No I don’t think so. In fact, I think it is another world. Venus to be specific.”
A real knee slapper! Has Plait ever seen Venus? If so, was it in broad daylight? Did it look huge and metallic? Was Venus ever picked up on radar? Was it seen by US Air Force pilots dispatched to intercept it? Was it seen by tower controllers?
The above questions for Mr. Plait were not pulled out of thin air. On March 8, 1950, we had all of the factors mentioned. Captain W.H. Kerr, a TWA captain, in mid morning, reported to the CAA that he and two other TWA pilots saw a UFO hovering over that city at a high altitude. They were unaware that 20 people on the ground had also seen, and reported it. The ATIC control tower operators saw it also, and their radar picked it up at the same position. The master sergeant who tracked it reported it as “a good solid return… caused by a good solid target.” It was one of the four F-51 fighter pilots who described it as huge and metallic. Did Plait ever see Venus hide in a cloud formation? This thing did, causing the pilots to turn back. Witnesses saw the UFO climb vertically out of sight at high speed. Does Venus do that?
The official response of the Air Force: It was the planet Venus. And the radar return? It was from ice in the clouds.
There is little doubt but that most reports of UFO reports are not true sightings of the craft of such remarkable speed and maneuverability as has been so often seen and verified. Some of the sightings are far enough off base as to warrant a touch of humor, but in the serious business of an extraterrestrial presence, they are mostly unimportant. Too bad the debunkers don’t point their cleverness in the other direction.
Questions for the debunkers: Where, in each of the following, lies the humor? All of the following episodes have been mentioned in my earlier essays. In this context I feel they are worth repeating.
During the night of April 29, 1954, The captain, first officer and navigator of a BOAC airliner over Goose Bay, saw a large object and six smaller ones pacing their plane. They then saw the six enter the large one, which promptly shot away. The British Air Ministry’s ‘explanation: It was a solar eclipse. But the eclipse that the Ministry had seized upon was not to occur until 7:OO the following morning. No eclipse that night. Too bad.
About 8:20 P.M. on February 24, 1959, flying his American airliner over Bedford, Pennsylvania, Captain Peter W. Killian noticed three bright lights in a straight line. He realized they were not stars, and one of them left the formation and slowed to pace his plane. He estimated the craft as about three times the size of his plane. The formation finally left at about 2000 mph. The crews of a total of six airliners witnessed the formation, and all agreed it was no known aircraft.
The Air Force explanation: It was the constellation Orion, a claim quickly shot down by contradictory astronomical facts. Next explanation:
Killian had seen a K-97 tanker refueling a B-47 Bomber.
In March 1957, Pan American Captain Matthew Van Winkle saw a craft with a brilliant greenish-white center with an outer ring that reflected a glow from the center. Seven other flights reported the same thing.
Response of the Air Force: They had all seen a shooting star.
In June 1969, James V.Beardsley, an FAA traffic controller was in the cockpit of an American Airlines 707 as an observer. The crew spotted four unknown objects ahead in a square formation. Behind the Boeing were a United airliner and behind it, a National Guard plane. One of the strange objects was larger than the others but all had the color of burnished aluminum. One flew frightenly close the the Guard plane. All three crews exchanged comments, but only Beardsley reported the sighting, the others deciding it was not worth the ridicule that was sure to follow. The report nonetheless became public, requiring an AF response:
The crew had seen daytime meteors.
Between July 13 and July 29, there were a plague of UFOs over Washington D.C., including the Pentagon, the White House and the Capitol Building. Ground radar units tracked the intruders and the readouts correlated precisely with sightings from the ground and from pilots who were sent to intercept. The Air Force brought in a navy electronics expert to check the possibility that the radar results were caused by a temperature inversion, an almost routine occurrence. He found 7 “good solid targets” but said that the inversions were minor and could not account for the readings. Two giant object were tracked orbiting the earth, and one hovered between Washington and Baltimore at about 79,000 feet. The pilots could not reach that altitude and one reported that “I have never been more terrified in my life… you would be crazy to go up there and try to shoot at it. Thank God we couldn’t get up that close” Another pilot concurred and claimed that all of them were frightened.
The Air Force, despite the opinion of their expert, said it was all caused by a temperature inversion.
Why do not the debunkers ever home in on any such episodes? Why are none of their witticisms, meant to so lighten our days, directed at the airline and military pilots? Why do they swing only at softballs?
Almost all of the many private organizations, who are increasingly effective in their investigations, cluster around a twenty percent figure as the proportion of sightings unexplained by natural or earthly phenomena. Is it any wonder why, with ‘explanations’ like these, the government insists that only one or two percent of the sightings are unexplained?
The author’s website is http:www.ourinterplanetaryfuture.com. His book is “Our Interplanetary Future: A UFO Primer for Skeptics.”