Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for April, 2012

The FBI/KGB/SS Alien Photo: Found

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“Above, one of the most impressive photos of an alleged extraterrestrial creature recovered from crashed UFOs. For many years it was thought the photo originated from a crash in the USA, but recently it was found it was captured in Germany, shortly before the Second World War. The officers who hold the being are high-ranking members of the SS” [Brazilian UFO mag, n.18, p.18, Dec 1991]

001This has long been a favorite, and since we first wrote about it, we found out, through Isaac Koi, that as early as 1982 Loren Gross had already published in his series “UFOs: A History” the correct full source for the montage: the 1950 April Fools’ edition of the German photo magazine “Neue Illustrierte”, and in 2003 Achim Martin had sent him copies of the original article. Unfortunately, Gross publications have very limited circulation and the reproductions are of poor quality.

I therefore obtained the original issue of “Neue Illustrierte”, published in Cologne, Germany, dated March 29, 1950. It was a weekly magazine, and as stated in a big red headline in the cover, it covered April 1st. I share the relevant material here openly, and if you do appreciate it please help cover the expenses – instructions at the end of this post.

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Posing with a 19th Century Cell Phone

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Reader Marion Henderson graciously sent us this picture of her great grandmother Laura. “This picture that I have has to be from the mid to later 1870?s if I did the math right.”

As in the case of the Time Traveller spotted in a Charlie Chaplin movie, and as Marion herself asked, “I took a magnifying glass and looked even closer, and there is definitely something there. I thought an ear trumpet?

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It would be somewhat odd for a younger looking lady to use such a hearing aid, but then, definitely not as improbable as a time travelling cell phone.

Not to be too cynical, but it’s also possible the image was simply tampered with. In this respect Marion was very kind and answered the basic questions I made regarding the picture, of which her family still has the original. A very skeptical and rigorous investigation would analyze the original print, but it may seem like too much trouble for what is at face value a quite amusing and plausible picture of Marion’s great grandmother holding a cell-phone like ear trumpet.

Ear trumpets – connecting people since the 19th century. Confused with cell phones since the beginning of the 21st century. [with many thanks to Marion for the contribution]

Update 04/15/2012: As noted by Roberto Takata, Poke, João, Lucas and others, there’s probably nothing in her hand, and what looks like the illuminated part of an object is simply her middle finger, or a play of shadow and light:

I highlighted her hand in red, but left out what may or may not be her middle finger or the space between her finger in the projected shadow of her hand. Her thumb can be seen, which rule out either a time travelling cell-phone, an ear trumpet or a folded fan.

Upon closer inspection, I also think the shadows on that region may have been retouched, but not by modern computers. It could have been retouched by the 19th century photographer to eliminate the shadows of the hand over her face, resulting in a better picture, but one that does look somewhat puzzling.

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Erich von Daniken: Fraud, Lies and Bananas

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To me this is the most incredible, fantastic story of the century”, wrote Swiss author Erich von Daniken in his 1973 book, The Gold of the Gods.. “It could easily have come straight from the realms of Science Fiction if I had not seen and photographed the incredible truth in person. What I saw was not the product of dreams or imagination, it was real and tangible”, he emphasized.

Daniken gave an excited first person account of this expedition guided by fellow Juan Moricz, and the incredible wonders he saw for himself. Only thing is, shortly after the book was published, Moricz disauthorized the Charioteer and told German newspapers Däniken had never been to the caves “unless it was in a flying saucer. If he claims to have seen the [golden] library and the other things himself then that’s a lie”.

And in the NOVA/Horizon documentary above, The Case of the Ancient Astronauts (1977), around 40 minutes on, you can see Däniken himself admitting these things described in his book didn’t actually happen. It’s wonderful seeing how he express some discomfort, but does not seem terribly disturbed confessing he simply made up the “incredible real and tangible truth”;.

According to him, those were simple literary “effects” and “small details” that an author was allowed to use. Not only did he invent his visit to the caves, despite the persevering search for what is yet another version of El Dorado, all suggests Moricz himself also invented everything. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but when those who claim to have seen those wonders come up with excuses like “they were too heavy to take out”, “the world is not yet prepared to know it” or that even simple photos “wouldn’t prove anything anyway”, one can reasonably disregard the subject until something solid comes up.

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That was not actually the first time Däniken somewhat candidly confessed making things up. Previously, in a wonderful interview by Timothy Ferris published on Playboy, August 1974, after being presented as a three times convicted criminal – one for stealing and twice for fraud –confronted with someone who contrary to him, had done his homework, Däniken concedes again and again how little he knew of the subjects he wrote about.

You can read a full scan of the interview here. And in the end, Däniken actually admits he was not entirely serious on what he wrote:

Ferris: A last question comes to mind because of our favorite of your theories – the one in Gold of the Gods in which you suggest that the banana was brought to Earth from space.

Ferris is referring to this excerpt, from the same book with the imaginary expedition to the non-existent golden caves:

“The banana, a delicious item of food, has been known in every tropical and subtropical region of the earth for many thousands of years. The Indian saga tells of the "wonderful Kandali" (= banana bush) which the "Manu," the loftiest spirits and protectors of mankind, brought to our planet from another star which was much further along the path of evolution than our earth. But a banana bush or banana tree simply does not exist! The banana is an annual plant which does not multiply by seeds, which it does not possess, but by suckers. Looked at in this light, the banana is a problem. It is found on even the most remote South Sea islands. How did this plant, which is so vital for the nourishment of mankind, originate? How did it make its way round the world, seeing that it has no seeds? Did the "Manu," of whom the Indian saga tells, bring it with them from another star-as an all-round foodstuff?”

And Ferris straightly asks: “Were you serious?” Von Däniken answers:

Von Daniken: No, and not many people realize that.”

The best part ends the brilliant interview:

Ferris: That leads us to ask if all your writing is a put-on. Are you, as one writer suggested, ‘the most brilliant satirist in German literature for a century’?

Von Daniken: The answer is yes and no. We have a wonderful term in German: jein. It’s a combination of ja and nein, yes and no. In some part, absolutely not; I mean what I say seriously. In other ways, I mean to make people laugh.

Ferris: Well, you’ve succeeded in both aims.”

ha ha! [with thanks to Carlos Bella for suggesting the 1977 documentary online]

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