Cat Amongst the Pigeons

It would seem that Blather 1.12, ‘I Don’t Want to Believe’ has managed to raise many a hackle in the ranks of its recipients. I wrote the article to explain my stance regarding the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH)…

I wrote the article to explain my stance regarding the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH), which, as I explained, is that I prefer to also examine other theories that are being are being examined in the study of UFOs, such as geological or environmental phenomena, hoaxes, misidentification etc. After last week’s article, I was deluged with mail, some complimentary, and some downright rude. Ironically, having stated my opinion for the sceptics who thought I was a ‘UFOhead’, I was attacked for being ‘narrow-minded’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘arrogant’ by those who appeared to dislike my exploration of these theories.classic
At the close of last week’s Blather, I stated: ‘Now if anyone reckons that this is not a convincing argument against the possibility that we are being visited by extraterrestrials, I would be only delighted to hear.’
It was unfair, I know, and some people fell for it. I *never* said that *I* reckoned that it was a convincing argument. However, I was delighted to read the flurry of colourful language that popped into my mailbox.
One correspondent stated that ‘The fault line thing is probably a load of sh*t, fault lines are not terribly rare and in some parts of America are damn common e.g. around California’. He’s right, they aren’t rare, but no one ever said that fault lines automatically mean UFOs. I wonder had he read Persinger’s paper on Tectonic Strain Theory before dismissing it? Persinger and Devereux, amongst others, have *proposed* a correlation between geological faults and strange phenomena, and have requested that people consider the correlation, rather than telling people that there’s a definite connection. At least that’s my reading of the situation.
There’s also a contentious phenomenon, not may I add, terribly well accepted, of the existence of ‘earthquake lights’. As I don’t currently reside in an area of great seismic activity, I can’t vouch for their existence, but allegedly strange aerial configurations can sometimes be witnessed before, during or after quakes (If anyone is more familiar with this phenomenon than myself, I’d appreciate some information on it). Paul Devereux does mention it in ‘Earthlight Revelations’, but I’d like to get my teeth into some of the meatier papers on the subject.
Ron Westrum, one of the authors of ‘Unusual Personal Experiences’, the Roper Report mentioned in, ‘I Don’t Want to Believe’ got in touch, pointing out that the possible figure of five million abductees in the USA was incorrect, and that in fact the Roper Report had stated a number in the order of two million. I took my figures from the work of Patrick Huyghe and Robert Durant, so I’ll investigate the origin.
Michael McWilliams (Of New York, I think) said that ‘the reason why there are more UFO sightings in the United States, as opposed to any other place in the world can be attributed to the simple fact the any species with the ability to hear sound immediately develops a preference for American rock-and-roll music. The sightings in Ireland and the UK can be attributed to U2, Cranberries, Clash, Bowie, and Big Audio Dynamite.’
It’s as good an explanation as any, I suppose.
Al Baker
Al Baker told me that there ‘are several factors that I have not heard anyone discuss about this phenomenon which I think need to be plugged into the equation.’ He makes the following points:

‘1) Unless we are alone (a true freak of nature), most scientists estimate that there are probably between 10,000 and 1,000,000 civilizations that have developed or will develop in this galaxy.
‘2) Based on the age of the universe (10-15,000 million years) and the amount of time it has taken the life to get a handhold on Earth and develop us (3-4,000 million years), then the development of those civilizations probably span a development age starting as much as 5,000 million years earlier than us to at least that many years later than us.
‘What this implies:
‘1) The idea that any other civilization would be even close to our own in development would be highly remote.
‘2) The odds are high that about half of them are still somewhere between ooze and proto-sentient.
‘3) The other half have technologies that would appear to us to be the purest magic (A. C. Clarke, “A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”)
‘4) The idea of meeting near equals (as in Star Trek, or even the movie “Independence Day”) is purist fiction. Even in a galaxy filled with life, we would most likely be quite alone at our own level of development, with our nearest competitors being at least many thousands, or more likely, millions of years away from us in development.
‘Here’s the problem:
‘If it is likely that there are a large number (5,000 or more) civilizations in the galaxy that are millions of years in advance of us, then where are they? Even if there were only a dozen such civilizations, they would probably have technologies, even with light speed limits, that would “own” the galaxy.
‘That’s it. If we are not alone, where are they? How do they demonstrate their “ownership”? Or are they apathetic or dead? We should be able to look up and see their engineering. Who knows. Maybe we can. There is a lot up there we don’t understand, quasars being one “simple” example. Or when we look up are we seeing a lot of wasted space!
‘Since I think the least possible answer is that we are alone, then what is really going on. Here are what I believe to be the alternatives:
‘1) We are the first civilization to get this far. Yeah, right! This one has very low odds.
‘2) All civilizations die. The animal cannot control his technology and at some point it gets away from him (atomic power of our 20th century or the danger of the grey goo from nanotechnology that we will almost certainly face in the 21st century.) The pessimist in me rates this one high, but how terrible a thought! Instead, I give this one equally low odds. Some of these civilizations will have survived.
‘This leaves two possibilities, I think. There may be more, but…
‘3) Refer to Clarke’s comment about technology above and decide that all bets are off. Anything is possible except that we are alone. We may or may not be ignored and wouldn’t know about it either way. We haven’t got a clue about what is really going on. Scary, but my guess is, this has a high probability of being true, unless:
‘4) We are near the end of the learning curve and even the half of the potential civilizations that are tens of thousands or millions of years in advance of us are not far ahead of us in technology because we are close to knowing it all, as they already do. The probability of this one is based on how soon you think the patent office is going to close! I kind of like this one, but it is probably less likely than (3). But it does feel good. It brings back the idea of a Star Trek type future. It also makes possible the idea of “flying saucers” that our technology is becoming advanced enough to understand. After all, those saucers and/or the larger ships they come from have been travelling the stars for thousands of millions of years. We might be close to joining them.
‘My bet? (3) is most likely. (4) is most fun. I would prefer not thinking about (1) and (2). If (4) is true, however, it would be surprising if strange things didn’t start happening shortly after we started playing with such fundamentals as atomic energy.’

There you have it, Al Baker’s comments, which I reckoned would benefit from being quoted in their entirety.
Kamikaze Dolphin Healers
The Electronic Telegraph of Wednesday 23 July 1997 had a bizarre article concerning 20 ‘Therapeutic Dolphins’ – once trained for kamikaze missions in which explosives would be fastened to their bodies, but now used to cure children of bedwetting and those suffering from autism and stuttering. The dolphins reside at a naval base at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, which is on the Crimean Peninsula, in the Ukraine.
‘The Soviet navy had an elite squadron of 70 dolphins trained to seek, find, and kill the enemy,’ said Capt Nikolai Savchenko, the Ukrainian navy’s chief spokesman. ‘The animals were also used for kamikaze purposes; explosives were strapped to their bodies and they were sent out to blow up submarines.’
Capt Savchenko also revealed some other extraordinary details concerning ‘Dolphin Paratroopers’ used to rescue sailors!
So how can dolphins help sick children? Base researcher Svetlana Matyshovna says that the dolphins use sonar to send ‘vibrating signals’ to the patient, which scans the patient and ‘realigns the energetic field’. The time needed to ‘correct the aura of the patient depends on the affliction and the willingness of the patient to accept the signals.’
Bizarre, but the Telegraph seem to have sent a journalist along, if that’s any proof of authenticity. . .
Rats from outer space (Mutiny in Heaven?)
The (UK) Express On Sunday newspaper of 13 July 1997 had a rather reckless article entitled ‘Did rats from space down TWA Flight 800?’ by Charles Oulton, ‘Science Correspondent’, which reckons that a canister of rats launched in space may have been have caused the demise of TWA 800. Mr. Oulton states that on July 7th last year, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched a capsule containing the canister, as part of an experiment to test the impacts of space travel on bone marrow. The article goes on to state that this canister re-entered but its parachute failed to open, and missed the C130 Hercules drag net which was supposed to catch it. The canister is then said to have hit TWA 800 at 13,700 ft, puncturing a fuel tank. This apparently ‘could’ explain Linda Kabot’s photograph of a cylindrical object heading towards TWA 800.
I have not seen this ‘canister of rats’ mentioned in any other publication. Curiosity beckoned and I went to sift through the NASA Shuttle Web and dug about until I uncovered the relevant mission, Space Shuttle Mission STS-78 June 1996 and press kit.
Two mentions of rats can be found in the press kit:

‘LMS life science studies are divided into two fields — human physiology and space biology. The five areas of human physiology are musculoskeletal, metabolic, pulmonary, human behavior and performance, and neuroscience. Three space biology experiments will study growth of pine saplings, development of fish embryos, and bone changes in laboratory rats.’


‘Procedure: The two self-contained Animal Enclosure Modules, located in the orbiter middeck, will house 12 laboratory rats. While feeding is automatic in this habitat, the crew will monitor the rodents. After flight, the rats will be euthanized for study at a ground-based laboratory.’

It does not mention ejecting the rodents into space. In fact, the quotes above would give me to understand that the rats were brought back to earth, to be ‘euthanized’. Where did The Express find this story?
I also looked at:
Crash of TWA Flight 800 – New York Field Office (link broken
CNN TWA 800 Coverage
TWA Flight 800 Information Center
TWA Flight 800 Disaster Cover-up
Yahoo’s TWA 800 links
‘Navy ends TWA Flight 800 recovery operations’

The disembodied collective editorial voice of the only really nice website in Ireland.