Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for March, 2008

Banana circles!


As we reported, there’s been a wave of alleged “sugarcane signs” in Brazil in the last few weeks. Now, the phenomenon seems to have taken an unexpected turn. At least for one single case so far.

Yes, we have bananas. Banana circles. As Wilton Montenegro writes:

Banana plantation is smashed overnight in Mauriti, Ceara, Brazil

On Sunday, February 24, 2008, a strange phenomenon happened. Monday morning, when the workers arrived to their daily work, they found an open area in the middle of the banana plantation, the owner was called and reported the fact to the EMATER.

It’s an incredible and unexplainable fact.

I work at the city hall and I have contact with the owner, as he’s also a politician in the city, and called me to the place.

Some of the strange features that we found:

1- The area has approximately 10 meters in diameter.

2- The plants are flattened from above, some plants were broken in three points.

3- There is no evidence of fire or lightning, as there’s nothing burned.

4- In one photo I show the irrigation system with hoses.

5- After eight days the plants around the circumference are dying and becoming yellow, those in the ground are not burned, but boiled [sic].

6- There’s a round mark in the ground and kind of like a tripod, with around 50 centimeters from one point to the other.

7- In the place, besides the area, two open spaces in the leaves can be seen, as if they were entry and exit points.From the point that we have seen, we noted an angle of around 80 degrees. It’s in a V angle, that is, it enters from one point and exits from another.

8- After news of the fact, some inhabitants reported seeing a ball of fire floating in the sky.”

See more (unimpressive) photos on the CUB website.

Gorillas like bananas, and given our much touted concept of invisible gorillas as an explanation for these kind of events involving trivial phenomena suddenly becoming “mysterious”, this is very interesting.

If I were seriously proposing that actual invisible gorillas were behind all of this, I could also have interpreted that this was “proof” that I was right. Those interested by Forteana will be specially aware of these kind of coincidences. I view them as evidence that you can come up with “evidence” for almost anything, which only emphasizes the need for critical thinking.

Or have we accidentally stumbled on real, invisible gorillas? I don’t know if they would be more interesting than the alleged banana circles.

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Captain Disillusion against the Man on Mars

I just discovered this mind-bogglingly nice series of videos with Captain Disillusion!

While some fear the consequences of this brave new digital world where talented graphical artists can create convincing images of almost anything for almost no cost, duping millions, there comes Captain Disillusion to prove that it works both ways.

Educating the public can also go to new heights at low costs. Let’s hope millions are just as interested on real information.

Special mention to Mr. Flare, a very common sidekick that plays the main superhero mostly in ufology, but also in many ghost photos and videos.

Don’t miss it: Captain Disillusion, crusader of digital truth!

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The Uberlandia captive alien video

An überwork by the Brazilian artist Philipe Kling David, from the “Mundo Gump” blog. Yes, a work of art.

In Portuguese, he also penned a not-so-short fictional story to go along with the video, and this follows his original work on the Tasso Fragoso alien photos.

The video is reminiscent of “Rubber Johnny“, an Aphex Twin music video often mistaken — by very gullible people — for a real alien footage. It’s also related to the infamous Area 51 alien interview hoax. But both these creations were made by teams of special effects, with a budget of at least some thousands, or dozens of thousands of dollars.

Philipe David’s Uberlandia alien video is a one-man show, 100% digital, and with no direct cost to its creator. Like the Haiti UFO sensation by French animator David Nicolas.

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Sugarcane Signs

[Aerial view of the Inn on Riolandia, Brazil. At right, poster for the movie “Signs” (2002)]

I blogged about it briefly shortly after the incident, and later updated it mentioning that “the event has been all the rage in Brazil. There are many news items about it, and I’ll sort and link them later”.

Now that things seem to have calmed down a bit, a more clear scenario can be presented.

In review: on January 20th, around two weeks after the movie “Signs” was shown on TV with very high ratings, the small city of Riolandia, Sao Paulo, became the epicenter of a very familiar phenomenon.

Big areas of sugarcane fields were suddenly found laying down, and the owner of the Inn located between the first areas claimed he saw a “big oval light” just above the place. Ufologists visited the Inn, gave some interviews to local newspapers and TV news, expressed how they thought it was unexplainable and UFOs could indeed be involved, then went back home. Apparently, there wasn’t much else to investigate.

But TV and high viewing ratings entered the scene again, as in the following weekend the incident made it to two Sunday evening programs. And on the following weekdays, it was also prominently explored by a daily show around noon. The case was promoted side by side with the story of a “stubborn donkey”, as just one more of the fun stories coming from the rural areas of Sao Paulo, the most industrialized state in Brazil.

After all the media attention, without much surprise, new areas of stamped sugarcane were found in many cities beyond Riolandia, and dozens of people came forward claiming they saw UFOs. Some even recorded them on video.

The ufologists were then asked to come back to the place. The mayor and the owner of the Inn even paid for their expenses. Accordingly, many ufologists visited the city, and they all assured it was a big mystery that should continue to be investigated. Reports were told retroactively, and many people started to claim they were seeing UFOs even before the initial event at the Inn.

You can read a very excited report of the events, by Brazilian UFO magazine editor Ademar Gevaerd, on Frank Warren’s blog.

I talked with Jorge Luis Nery, first and main ufologist to investigate the incidents, and can offer some critical comments after the jump.

Read more

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Slightly wet piece of rock


Fabulous image representing “all the water in the world (1.4087 billion cubic kilometres of it) including sea water, ice, lakes, rivers, ground water, clouds, etc.”, on a single sphere.

In the same scale, at right, “all the air in the atmosphere (5140 trillion tonnes of it) gathered into a ball at sea-level density.”

Graphic by Dan Phiffer, via Fogonazos.

UPDATE: This post has been suggested on BoingBoing (wow!), and the power of the masses has quickly located the credits for it.

It’s by Adam Nieman / Science Photo Library (US). Some have doubted the accuracy of the graphic, but Dan Phiffer (check the link above) also updated his post with more info verifying that the representation is correct.

So correct, that Dr Adam Nieman was awarded with it in 2004 in the Visions of Science photo competition.

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