Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for August, 2007

And the CGI UFO videos keep coming


That’s actually the second video created by the author, the first one we showed here. All made after the biggest UFO sensation on Youtube ever.

If you take a look at the video channel of the author of the video above you may see how he created many other CGI videos of common airplanes. Did he create the original Haitian/Dominican UFO videos? Probably not. Another spoof also had the same features, and it was made by a Japanese guy, who does not claim authorship for the originals.

So we have at least two people that within days made similar copies of the original videos and also shared them on Youtube.

The Japanese guy, “Wancoco“, gives some details. He used Vue 5 (not the more recent Vue 6), and “the time for rendering [the video on a computer] is about 11hours (720*480px,300frame). But for editing is 3 hours“.

The fact that even the previous version of the software, released in 2005 as far as I can tell, already allowed anyone to create such videos suggests the only thing that was stopping this avalanche of fakes was an easy way to share them.

Youtube is not only for cats playing piano, it seems.

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Majestic12 and the Crazy Rulers of the World

Watch above excerpts from the first episode of “Crazy Rulers of the World“, an amazing series of documentaries by Jon Ronson. It’s based on his book “The Men Who Stare At Goats“, documenting the adventures of the US Army with some extremely unconventional methods of war. Those include killing goats just by staring at them. Or at least trying to do that.

I uploaded this to Youtube hoping that you will become interested in knowing more on Ronson’s work, of which I’m a huge fan. In the whole episodes you will watch actual footage of the goat experiments, and much more details and incredible interviews. Jim Channon, for instance, may have sounded lunatic in the excerpt above, but if you watch the whole series you may have a different opinion. Also, buy his book and save this author of some of the bad karma.

Majestic Doty

I also uploaded and suggest the video here because I think that’s important to better understand one of the most recent bombshells dropped in ufology, the study by Brad Sparks and Barry Greenwood, “The Secret Pratt Tapes and the Origins of MJ-12” (click to download the PDF from MUFON).

Promoted on this year’s MUFON symposium, the paper essentialy deals a series of fatal blows on the Majestic12 story, in the process of uncovering the involvement and major part played by Richard C. Doty, Special Agent of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). MJ12, Sparks argues, was part of an official disinformation campaign played by the the AFOSI.

Those are 159 pages to read, and I strongly recommend anyone interested in ufology to read it. It’s free, and even if you don’t agree with all of it — I don’t — it’s clearly a very important development.

And as it has just been published, it’s currently in development, as those in favour of the MJ12 story are still going to present their answers to that.

But assuming you already thought, or was convinced by the paper, that MJ12 is indeed a hoax, the prospect advanced at the same time that it was an official disinformation campaign is possibly just as extraordinary. Doty was really an AFOSI agent when he played his role in the creation of MJ12.

Sparks gives some considerations as reasons for the disinformation, and though he is not a supporter, he hints that it could possibly be related to extraterrestrials. Co-author Greenwood, on the other hand, thinks MJ12 is more of a product of personal interest by Doty and possibly some others.

Whatever the real answer, one important aspect that must be considered is the myth, quoted by Ronson, “that our leaders are rational people”. Doty’s work in helping create the MJ12 hoax story may be more related to staring at goats (or hamsters) than one would first assume.

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Fermi believed in aliens? What a paradox!


According to “Dr. SETI“, H. Paul Shuch, from the official SETI League, “physicist Enrico Fermi, said to be a firm believer in the existence of extra-terrestrials, was frustrated by the lack of firm evidence of their existence”. Wait a minute, Fermi actually believed in the existence of aliens?

That may sound preposterous given that his famous Paradox is one of the most referenced arguments advanced against the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, but amazingly, it probably is true.

Fermi unfortunately passed away in 1954, shortly after he formulated his paradox. He didn’t publish the concept in written form, rather it was just an idea discussed by him with colleagues at lunch. That was then often quoted and referenced by others for decades afterwards. This probably explains why his original idea came to be so misunderstood.

It was only in 1985 that someone seems to have decided to actually document the origins of the paradox, and sadly, even this work is widely ignored. That’s the report from Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Where is Everybody?’: An Account of Fermi’s Question“, by scientist Eric M. Jones.

Jones interviewed those present at that historic lunch at Los Alamos in the summer of 1950. They were Emil Konopinski, Herbert York and Edward Teller, and he provided accounts of the conversation by all of them.

Interestingly, the paradox was related to the cartoon seen above. Konopinski wrote:

“I do have a fairly clear memory of how the discussion of extra-terrestrials got started while Enrico, Edward, Herb York, and I were walking to lunch at Fuller Lodge. When l joined the party, I found being discussed evidence about flying saucers. That immediately brought to my mind a cartoon I had recently seen in the New Yorker, explaining why public trash cans were disappearing from the streets of New York City. The New York papers were making a fuss about that. The cartoon showed what was evidently a flying saucer sitting in the background and, streaming toward it, ‘little green men’ (endowed with antennas) carrying the trash cans. More amusing was Fermi’s comment, that it was a very reasonable theory since it accounted for two separate phenomena: the reports of flying saucers as well as the disappearance of the trash cans.”

Edward Teller also recalled:

“I remember that Fermi explicitly raised the question, and I think he directed it at me, ‘Edward, what do you think? How probable is it that within the next ten years we shall have clear evidence of a material object moving faster than light?’ I remember that my answer vas ‘ 1 o-6.. Fermi said, ‘This is much too low. The probability is more like ten percent’ (the well known figure for a Fermi miracle.)

The discussion then went on to other topics, as they arrived at the luncheon table. It “had nothing to do with astronomy or with extraterrestrial beings. I think it was some down-to-earth topic. Then, in the middle of this conversation, Fermi came out with the quite unexpected question ‘Where is everybody?‘ … The result of his question was general laughter because of the strange fact that in spite of Fermi’s question coming from the clear blue, everybody around the table seemed to understand at once that he was talking about extraterrestrial life”, Teller wrote to Jones. “I do not believe that much came of this conversation, except perhaps a statement that the distances to the next location of living beings may be very great and that, indeed, as far as our galaxy is concerned, we are living somewhere in the sticks, far removed from the metropolitan area of the galactic center”, Teller added.

But York believes that Fermi was somewhat more expansive and “followed up with a series of calculations on the probability of earthlike planets, the probability of life given an earth, the probability of humans given life, the likely rise and duration of high technology, and so on. He concluded on the basis of such calculations that we ought to have been visited long ago and many times over. As I recall, he went on to conclude that the reason we hadn’t been visited might be that interstellar flight is impossible, or, if it is possible, always judged to be not worth the effort, or technological civilization doesn’t last long enough for it to happen.” York confessed to being hazy about these last remarks.

Note how York confirms that Fermi assumed extraterrestrial civilizations existed, only that their non-arrival must have meant something stops them on their way. That’s exactly the position taken by SETI scientists to this day.

Eric Jones’ report can be downloaded at the FAS website:


It must be noted that in the 1950s, it had only been some years since more accurate estimations of the size and age of the Universe had been done. And Fermi’s paradox is essentially an argument of “scale and probablity”.

The Italian physicist famous for simple approaches to complex problems was the first to realize that those discoveries about our Universe had this deep implication. If there are indeed billions and billions of stars billions of years old, then even if the chances of intelligent life to emerge are extremely small, it must have happened numerous times. Not only that, it must also have had plenty of time to arrive not only here, but everywhere.

Later considerations on this simple yet deep question only reinforced its strength. At a fraction of the speed of light, the whole Galaxy can be colonized in a few million years, without breaking any known laws of physics. The recent discovery of the omnipresence of planetary systems may be one of the most important discoveries of the recent decades — not long ago, many believed our solar system was a freak accident of nature –, and it also deepens the paradox.

You see, it only takes one single civilization to have taken the task to colonize the Galaxy for a few million years, and then everywhere you looked there would be signs of its presence. Only one among hundreds of billions of planets, in billions of years of history. No need for warp drives, interdimensional travel, nothing of science fiction. This possibility is a scientific fact, as far was we know. It’s a scientific fact more established now than it was in the 1950s when Fermi first proposed the idea.

Fact is, however, that we don’t see any clear evidence of aliens. Not on Earth, not anywhere we can look for in millions and billions of light-years around us.

Maybe UFOs are evidence of alien spaceships, but that hasn’t been conclusively proven for a single case in more than six decades. You cannot ask “where are the illegal aliens?” without being slightly insane because it’s very easy to find illegal immigrants. But you can ask “where are the (extraterrestrial) aliens?”. In fact, you may spend your whole life trying to find conclusive proof of their presence.

So, Fermi’s question is really a paradox, “an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises”. That’s a paradox, and it remains one to this day.

It’s not an argument that “proves” we are alone. That’s just one possible answer, and it’s not satisfactory exactly because of the paradox main line of reasoning.

The Fermi Paradox shouldn’t be derided by the believers. Fermi was one himself. Though one who would promptly admit, and then be puzzled, by the lack of conclusive proof that we are not alone.

He would still be asking, to this day, “Where is everybody?“.

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Earthquake lights or Electrical transformers?

From Luis Ruiz Noguez’s MarcianitosVerdes:

“I have been reading many Peruvian discussion forums on which many witnesses report their experiences with the quake in August 15.

I’m more and more convinced that most of them describe lights produced by the explosion of power transmission transformers. The majority of the lights are seen over the horizon, behind houses, buildings or trees. No explosion is heard at first, but that can be understood if we place ourselves amid the chaos at the time. As the ground moves below our feet, buildings crumble and people scream in despair, we will hardly notice the sound of a transformer exploding. Or associate the light over the horizon with the explosion.

The transformer explodes. We see the flash of light. But seconds later, depending on the distance of the transformer, we hear an explosion. Light travels faster than sound. Even if an explosion is not heard, the flash could have been caused by the contact of high voltage power transmission wires. Such explosion wouldn’t be as loud  as those of transformers.

The lights, as I worte, were seen over the horizon. I haven’t found descriptions of lights seen directly in the sky.

There are, on the other hand, reports of lights seen over in the sea. One of the visitors of MarcianitosVerdes, Michael, wrote:

“I was there and when I was walking I saw a flash of light to the south, that could be in the sea, but this all happened in Lima. Soon the power was cut in Villa el Salvador and SJM. This could have been electrical energy, but some experts say they are produced in the [tectonic] plates. This phenomenon left the neighbors terrorized and made them think the worse was coming. It was a scary experience, as people screamed, prayed and despaired”.

LMP wrote the same:

“I live in Villa, next to the sea, the lights came from the sea, it wasn’t a spark nor an explosion nor the luminescence that some refer to. Tonight the engineer Ronald Woodman of the Geophysical Institute pointed that there was no explanation for what many of us saw. The curious thing is that immediately after the two glowing lights, one white and the other blue, the earthquake stopped. An explanation must be sought, but the ones attempted so far does not explain what happened.

And also Carolyn:

“Well, I live in Callao close to the sea and it’s true that during the earthquake there were two flashes of light in the sky and that they were in the direction of the sea, around the San Lorenzo island. We all were impressed because it’s something so strange that it was just in the sea. I also ask you to pray for everyone who is not with us anymore, ok, bye”.

I ask myself if the San Lorenzo island is an inhabited place with telephone service? The lights seen in direction of the sea could have come from electrical transformers that exploded in San Lorenzo island? Is the island sufficiently close for the flashes of light to be seen at the continent?

On the other hand Juan Carlos tell us that the blackouts support the transformers explosions hypothesis:

“Hello, I live in Santa Anita and here the erthquake was very strong and the lights of some areas went off and didn’t return until 10:30PM. Well, I don’t know if someone can explain this light pheonomenon very well…”

Only an in situ investigation with the reports from the electrical company — to determine the place where the transformers and transmission lines explosions happened — could clarify many doubts.

More attention should be placed to the reports from witnesses who claim the lights came from the sea or directly above in the sky.

Another question: Did any light seen have another color from white or blue?

As usual, Noguez does a great work. Some people are not as cautious when evaluating the episode. The video below is an example:

The TV program first shows an UFO footage from last year, an incident which reportedly was followed 15 minutes later by an earthquake. Seems interesting, I would like to know more about that, but instead of more detail they then featured the “Flotilla” episode in Peru a few months ago, where hundreds of points in the sky were seen.

It’s very probable the Peruvian Flotilla incident involved common balloons, as this confusion is being made on many Latin American countries where balloon sightings are being promoted as “Flotillas”, or “fleets” of UFOs. It’s similar to the UK Balloo-FOs.

Why they featured the Flotillas episode? To then present people who claim these were warnings by aliens of the coming tragedy. I will not even begin to criticize that, I hope the sheer absurdity speaks for itself.

By the way, this seems to be the very same local program (“ATV notícias”) which originally promoted the Peruvian “Flotilla”, so it’s not much of a surprise they make the link. And it’s also telling of the level of seriousness of such program.

UPDATE: Check these two videos of eletrical short circuits, arcing and explosions, pointed by Ivan.

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Yet another Haiti UFO video

The same Vue6 palm trees. Seemingly the same scenario (which may mean it’s from the same author, or just that they used the same library for objects). Lame, perfect lens flares. Nicer UFO, though, I think.

Meanwhile the original “Haiti UFO video” has already surpassed 2 million viewers in just over a week, and is already the most viewed UFO video in Youtube ever.

Popularity: 1% [?]

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