Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for November, 2010

Ghost Rocket in California was flight UPS902

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At the beginning of the month, a “mysterious missile launch” recorded from South California sparked a lot of media interest until it was identified as a commercial flight UPS902 from Honolulu to Ontario, California. The sunlit contrail looked like a rocket exhaust, but unlike any rocket, its source moved very slowly.

Mick West over at ContrailScience did a superb job presenting the evidence for the identification, as this may be one of the most irrefutable explanations for an intriguing aerial phenomenon in the history of intriguing aerial phenomena.

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It goes from multiple photos allowing triangulation which matches in time and space the radar track of flight UPS902 to satellite imagery of the contrail and even previous cases of contrails that look like rocket plumes. Just check all the evidence, it’s quite beautiful to see so many independent evidence converging into one single and clear explanation thanks to the wonders of the modern information age – and Mick West and his many collaborators, of course.

Now, though most people called it a “mysterious missile launch”, one could just as well name it a “ghost rocket”. As Bob Sheaffer noted, the classic 1946 photo of a ghost rocket in Sweden, the only known photo of the wave that anticipated modern ufology by a year, is usually interpreted as a meteor.

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But couldn’t that actually be a contrail? “People in Sweden, seeing [in 1946] the unfamiliar new phenomenon of high-altitude contrails, [may have] perceived them as menacing rockets launched by one great power or another.

It would have been quite a feat to capture a meteor trail in the sky with an old camera, but a contrail not unlike the recent California one would be in the sky for several minutes. Much easier. Much more probable?

Contemporary investigations did mention contrails as one of several explanations for the “ghost rockets” (none of them involving actual rockets, nor alien spaceships), but it would be quite curious if the sole photo of that wave is of a contrail rather than a meteor.

Much more so that more than six decades later, with people in California very familiar with contrails, ghost rockets may still cause a lot of confusion.

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Pulled by a ghost

Duppy is a Jamaican Patois word of West African origin meaning ghost or spirit. Much of Caribbean folklore revolves around duppies, generally regarded as malevolent spirits.

Well, one of them is allegedly haunting an 11-year-old boy, causing commotion in Martin Street, Spanish Town. You can jump to 0:40 and then 1:55 for some duppy action. At first glance, the boy really seems to be pulled by an external force. A classic “Poltergeist” case involving a child, thrown objects and distraught families.

Though the two action scenes above may look interesting, these ones below, in a follow-up by the same news channel, of the same boy now confronted by a local bishop, Rohan Edwards, will probably not be that much. The not-so-interesting new duppy action scenes start at around 1:35.

It’s clear the boy is throwing himself, and in retrospect, one can note that although he does a much better job at it in the first scenes, one can also interpret them without resorting to any external force. Much less any supernatural force.

When it looks as if he is being pulled from his chair, note that he moves before the chair, indicating that he is source of motion. Michael Faraday used the same tell-tale sign to prove people moved spiritualistic tables, and not the other way around, back in 1853. The effect is also helped by the fact the “duppy action” only lasts for a few seconds, as the boy is almost immediately grabbed by his mother, into which he finds support, in more than one sense. Something that can’t be ignored.

The immediate consequence of the boy’s behaviour is the comfort of his mom”, told us Psychologist Ana Arantes, suggesting an hypothesis to better understand the events. “The ‘paranormal phenomenon’ can be maintained by very strong social reinforcements – social attention, comfort and protection from the mother and probably other members of the family – and in this context, it’s quite possible it has been modelled and learned within that community.

On one level this is simply a boy making some interesting moves, but this is certainly not everything that’s going on here, just as almost all Poltergeist cases are not simple hoaxes – nor simple Poltergeists. From the original story of the Fox sisters and the Cottingley fairies, to modern Poltergeist cases such as Enfield, each and every one of theses cases has a very long story and background.

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Billy Meier remakes

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Do the photos above seem different? One is an allegedly alien spacecraft by Billy Meier. The other is one of the top 60 remakes by Phil Langdon, made with a plastic garbage lid and other trinkets.

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People have long been seeing the obvious tricks used to create such UFO photos, involving mainly forced perspective – including the use of a small bonsai-like tree.

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But Phil Langdon managed to match almost every little detail of Meier’s photos. Here he is with the small tree and one of the models:

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Click for the full gallery on The Biggest Secret Forum.

Of course, one may think unnecessary to debunk such photos. Who would believe them in the first place?

Well, Fox Mulder wanted to believe, as the poster on his office was a cropped version of one of Meier’s photos.

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Meier’s original shot is here, and Langdon’s remake of that classic shot is here.

The Meier case is quite interesting, as besides using a garbage can lid as part of an alien spacecraft, he sold photos of TV dancers as beautiful humanoids from the DAL-Universe and illustrations as shots from space, the future or the past.

Note two of the previous links go to Meier’s explanations to such exposes, where he actually claims that the original sources were created a posteriori to discredit him, and/or that the photos he sold were switched with hoaxed ones without his knowledge by Men in Black.

It sounds like something out of the plot of the final seasons of X-Files. Which is not good at all.

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She is not naked

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Look again, the brunette on the back is not naked. It’s the front girl’s left arm.

Just as this blonde is not hairy:

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It’s some guy’s leg.

And this is just an armpit. [via MOI]

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The Varginha Incident: Case Closed?

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Last month, excerpts of the conclusions of the official military investigations on the “Varginha Case” were published by IstoE magazine. As would be expected, they caused quite a furor among enthusiasts because there Lt Col Lúcio Finholdt Pereira raised as “the most probable hypothesis” that a local with disabilities, known as “Luizinho” – or Little Luis:

“being probably dirty, due to the heavy rain, seen crouching against a wall, was mistaken by three terrified girls as a ‘creature from space’”.

In short, as can be seen in the comparison above, part of the military inquest, Little Luis was allegedly mistaken for an alien. Being that some local ufologists claim the Varginha Case is the best UFO evidence ever, the idea that it could be explained so simply is bound to be met with derision.

The bombshell brings to mind the official explanations for the Roswell case, including the claim that it was a Case Closed. It must be taken with a grain of salt. Here’s to our ordinary look at this new development, which from the start, is not actually new.

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