Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for December, 2008

Das Darwinfish ad

Volkswagen is running an auto ad here in Brazil featuring a guy’s dreaming about his dog-fish pal, which is pretty much a glorified CGI version of our beloved Darwin Fish.

The creation is by AlmapBBDO, produced by Rebolucion and effects by Bitte Animation. [via Brainstorm #9]

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Another Long Exposure Ghost

Following our series of long exposure ghosts, we post here the image kindly sent by our fellow Brazilian reader, Paulo José:

“It was the night of February 19, 2008, and I and my neighbor Jessica were in the street talking and photographing things of no importance. The strange thing is that only some time ago, looking through the hundreds of photos we took that we found this one. Due to the exposure of one second, the image was blurred and the street lights turned into bright lines. But I can’t find an explanation for the man (?) that appears in the photo not having the lower part of his body, nor even having a shadow. As it was some time ago, I can’t remember if there was someone passing in front of the camera, but obviously there was. I just can’t understand why the photo turned out this way. I hope you can help me”.

Paulo also wrote he likes to explain ghost photos, and is damn right to note that the second-long exposure is part of the explanation for the man with no legs nor shadow. The other element is, as seen previously in long exposure ghosts, the interaction of this exposure with the flash light. That in this image was fired too. And the final ingredient is a handheld camera, moving quite a bit during the exposure.

Look at the inverted “L” that many of the lights in the image turned into. Those lights were originally just points, and that trail is an indication of all the movement the camera made during the exposure of one second. Now, if a point of light may turn into a large inverted L trail, how would a man who doesn’t like paparazzi be distorted?

Apparently, quite a bit, as different parts of the man were illuminated in a different way by the flash light, which has a range of only a few meters – all those people taking photos in stadiums with flash are just wasting their batteries, unless they want to capture the heads of people directly in front of them instead of the game hundreds of meters away.

That the man’s legs were also moving, perhaps hastily, would also make them more blurred, and thus less visible.

In all, several different effects interacted to produce that result. I won’t pretend to know exactly how they worked, so this may not be all the help to fully understand the image that Paulo wanted, but it may give some more tools to comprehend it a bit more.

[With thanks to Paulo José and the anonymous man who didn’t want to be photographed. He is now somehow a worldwide mystery.]

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Multiple “UFOs” in formation taped over Chile

The video is quite interesting, and I was sincerely flabbergasted. I thought in the first minutes it could be a rig suspended by a hot air balloon (those are common in Brazil), but as you advance some minutes through, this idea obviously doesn’t hold. And it doesn’t look like a hoax, or at least a crude hoax, like filming light reflections on a window. The focus and all the behavior of the lights given the camera seem to match the fact the lights were indeed very distant.

Then, as the skeptic I am, I wondered that if this video was indeed shot over Santiago, nothing less than the region that includes the capital of Chile, with over 6 million inhabitants, this December 9, then there should be other witnesses. Where were they? Was this then a video hoax, only a very good one? No matter how good a video can be, it must be corroborated by testimonial evidence (and vice-versa, no matter how ”credible” a testimony may be, it must be backed by physical evidence).

Well, there are some other people saying they also saw those lights these days. I remembered this case, besides looking somewhat similar to the Phoenix Lights, to which we will return later, was exactly like some videos circulated some years before. Like this one from December 2004, where I also found other people commenting that they saw the lights these days too:

Or this one, from December 2003:

Doesn’t it look curious they are all in December? In December 2002, the lights were also seen (perhaps for the first time), and then the Chilean Air Force (FACH) admitted the lights were theirs:

Santiago, December 13 [2002] – A formation of six UFOs were taped at night by a family of a San Joaquín community. Several witnesses of various communities of the capital confirmed the sighting, nevertheless, the FACH pointed it was a instruction formation of the Aviation School Capitán Manuel Avalos.
source: Terra.cl “Avistamiento de OVNIS sobre Santiago

Knowing this, then I only had to search Google for “providencia santiago fach diciembre”, to find this:

“Santiago, December 10 [2008] – The strange “light formation” that could be seen a couple of days ago in the skies of Santiago was actually a formation of 14 Pillán airplanes of the FACH Aviation School that practiced for the officials graduation ceremony, which president Michelle Bachelet attended at night.”
source: Terra.cl “Fach aclara origen de extraña formación de luces

Of course, some will doubt the official explanation, just as some have not accepted that the Phoenix Lights videos were just flares, as even Bruce Maccabee confirmed, as well as Tim Printy, independently (the videos were no doubt just flares, as for the reports of a different event some hours before, there’re some doubts, even if they could have been just aircrafts too).

But reviewing the videos, I could see that they were indeed just aircraft in formation. And see how easily flabbergasted I must be. It must have been the music. Damn music.

UPDATE: Marcos González, of Agrupación Canopus, Chile, confirms that “sure, the night flight of the Air Force planes are a phenomenon that repeats itself every year around this time of the year and has been in many occasions recorded by the surprised spectators”.

Besides the official explanation, the local researcher confirmation and all common sense, well, you can simply watch this:

Those are the exact T-35 Pillán training airplanes, doing the exact same formation over the exact same demonstration area. Just a little closer, and with no X-Files music.

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Alien attacks boy… with a “knife” from its mouth


Child attacked by UFO in Itarema. Terrorized locals don’t get out of their houses.
The population of Córrego Salgado and Alegre, city of Itarema, [Ceará, Brazil], have been seeing in the last few days the visitation of a UFO that has been spreading panic. According to witnesses, the object usually flies over around at 6PM. Ufologist José Agobar is currently visiting Itarema and talking with witnesses that saw the object and analyzing possible evidence”.
[source: Ceará Agora, November 18]

“A child who witnessed the UFO was victim of perforations and underwent surgery. The boy suffered a cut that has taken nine stitches. Professor José Agobar alerted the local population to take care because new UFOs could appear. According to Agobar, this phenomenon repeats itself every 10 years”. [source: Lindomar Rodrigues, Noember 19]

The gruesome scars left in the poor child are shown in the exploitation video below, complete with a mysterious soundtrack (viewer discretion advised):

More details in an audio interview (in Portuguese). The boy, 6-years-old, was attacked near his own house. Despite his young age, he tells by himself the story that he saw a “burning star” over the Moon that suddenly stopped burning and landed. From it, two creatures came out and tried to grab him. Luckily, due to a barbed wire in which the creatures apparently entangled themselves, the boy managed to escape. But not before one of the creatures got something like a knife from its mouth and “poked” (that’s the word used by the boy, “cutucar” in Portuguese) him.

Which resulted in his several wounds, including the one that had to be stitched. The wound was deep, but it allegedly didn’t hurt nor bled.

Mystery? Probably not. I have been waiting to report about this which surely is prima facie a high-strangeness case because some fellows were trying to get more information from the events. And they got it.

They managed to talk with ufologist Reginaldo de Athayde, also from Ceará, who in turn spoke with the nurse who stitched the wound. And according to him “the case is false, all that is known is what is told by the boy, there’re no other witnesses”. But what about the wounds? If you look at them, there are several of them besides the stitched one.

They were produced by the barbed wire”, he explains. “The victim was not treated by any doctor”. Indeed, it may not be simply a coincidence that the bigger wound was below the armpit. If the boy had entangled himself in barbed wire, and given that the armpit skin is thinner, it would be more prone to such wounds. According to the nurse who treated him, the wound was not actually deep, only superficial, that’s why it did not bled that much.

Ufologist Athayde is not widely known for his skepticism, on the contrary, he is the source for many wild UFO stories of northeastern Brazil, but in this case he warns that ”there’s another researcher that was in Itarema and confirms the events without any solid evidence besides the wound and the story of the boy. … We believe the case is more a tall tale than truth. Local police didn’t take the story seriously, it just recorded the event, while the doctors just told the boy to go home, as there was nothing of relevance”.

Indeed, some claim the boy’s father also saw the UFO, but Athayde clarifies in an interview with the family that when the father came out of the house after being called, properly holding a shotgun, the “thing” had already gone.

There’s the terrible possibility that the boy was abused by someone and they then came up with this bizarre story to explain away the wounds, but apparently the kid sticks to the alien story and abusing a kid by making him entangle himself in barbed wire is not very usual. I tend to believe the boy may have invented the story by himself after getting entangled in barbed wire – or even before that, the child may have been mixing fantasy with reality. The area is indeed being plagued by stories of UFOs, fueled exactly by this sort of exploitation of prosaic cases.

Well, all suggests his wounds will heal quickly, he was not attacked by aliens, and we then have that adorable illustration by Junior Silva of the boy’s tale. An alien that have a knife-like something coming out of its mouth?


Where have we seen that before?

[With thanks to LS]

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