Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Beating a Dead Horse (and mea culpa)

Back on May I mentioned a video footage from Alvin, Texas, by Mauricio Ruíz, which was being heavily promoted by the infamous Mexican UFO-seller Jaime Maussán. I did mention my initial guess that it was:

simply a suspended lamp? I vouched for the suspended lamp, as the wires could have been obliterated by the background sky, and the match of focus and general appearance seemed very nice and real. For a lamp, that is. The fact the “UFO” almost doesn’t move was also a factor".”

But a fellow had received an image which suggested it was actually a computer generated hoax. I initially held my first opinion, until I “realized the time stamp and footage on [the received image were] are nowhere to be seen in the publicized video”. I then concluded it was therefore “a screenshot of the creation of the footage” indeed.

It turns out I was wrong about that. Mauricio Ruíz had publicized several different videos, and the person who created that screencap suggesting it was CGI simply used one of these other versions. This anonymous hoaxer of a hoax never identified himself. He did fool me and fellow skeptics, I have to say, and there is mea culpa before you.

Which doesn’t make the original Alvin “UFO” video any more credible, of course. In fact, I was probably right at the beginning, and following a suggestion on ATS, this “UFO” has all the appearance of a modified solar lamp post:

alvinsolarlampufo

That would have saved Ruiz of the trouble of creating the circuitry for the lamps and everything else. He may have simply removed the middle, transparent section of the post, as well as its base. Even the holes we see below the “UFO” may be simply the original holes used to fix the lamp to the base.

In the illustrative image above, the proportions of the solar lamp post I found don’t seem to match exactly the purported UFO, but there are countless similar variations being sold.

This is surely beating a dead horse, as it seems very few people believed the video was real, and Maussán’s relentless efforts to discredit ufology (and himself) have worked somehow. But besides the mea culpa (which I had already done as an update in the original post), I decided to write about this again because Maussán is promoting claims that the video shows conclusive physical evidence of “magnetic interference” from the UFO.

Which would still be a dead horse, except for the fact he managed to get that endorsed by an academic from UNAM, the largest Latin American University. It was Miguel Ángel Canseco, who tellingly is a chemist specialized in polymers, and apparently not someone quite familiarized with how electromagnetism works.

In an interview and a report about which only quotes have been publicized, Canseco says that analysis of “damaged” and “non-damaged” parts of the video tape show evidence that it was subjected to a “quick” magnetic flux density of 8~10.000 Gauss. That’s ten times more intense than the field in common MRIs, and you can see what that makes to nearby ferrous objects. A “quick” variation would be even worse, as that would induce electric currents. Mauricio Ruiz claims his cell phone was damaged, but the real damage of an estimated “200.000 Gauss” field “quick” variation would be much more evident than that.

And as Alejandro Franz and a few fellow skeptics point out, the “electromagnetic interference” in question is completely bogus. Ruiz and Maussán are so careless that they initially publicized the original video… with no interference!

alvininterferencebogus32k

Not only that, Franz also notes that though the time stamp in the video shows a 15 second lapse, the actual section shown with interference has only 5 seconds.

This all suggests that the “magnetic interference from the UFO”, claimed by Maussán and his “experts”, validated by an academic from UNAM, is simply the result of a crude video edition done directly on tape (either with the video camera itself or a video recorder). We have all seen that on VHS tapes, as one recording goes to the another and the video tracking goes out of sync.

So, there it is, a severely beaten dead horse. But if you read everything to this point, I hope it may have been somewhat interesting, as this case shows how I do make my mistakes – as any ordinary investigator (read the motto at the header) would – and how hoaxers may eventually get some sort of academic validation for their crude hoaxes, as scientists also make their mistakes. Hoaxers thrive on this.

The saga of a solar lawn lamp. The End.

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