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Archive for the 'Skepticism' Category

That Italian Air Force UFO video


Shortly before those amazing Haitian/Dominican videos, one of the biggest Youtube UFO sensations of 2007 was this one, allegedly from a source within the Italian Air Force. That was quickly dismissed by the actual publicizer, Paola Harris, on UfoUpdates:

This old Film Footage I have been showing for 3 years and It was given to Us Italian Researchers… not By the Air force. It is our Technology.

I had a cassette examined in Hollywood by my friends Rob and Rebecca Gordon who had the connections and money to do it. It was a 7th generation – copied 7 times – cassette. It was given to us with no explanation. It is a real object in the film. It has been shown in my MUFON and Laughlin Presentations and someone put it on U-TUBE [sic] and Google!

This all takes place in the Veneto region of Italy at a place called Ponte di Giulio. Near Aviano NATO Base. It is a dry river bed where the military does maneuvers and the photographer was on a tripod waiting for the object to come out of the woods. I doubt aliens appeared there!

Though the claims about it being real and “our technology” couldn’t be verified to this day, the ones about its origin could. Italians Antonio Pischiutti and Stefano Saccavino visited the location, near Ponte de Giulio, in Pordenone, and took this photo from roughly the same spot:


Many Italian ufologists received the video from the anonymous source some years ago (more on this below), but apparently only Harris started to promote and sell it abroad on a DVD. Somehow, that resulted in two versions of the video (one converted directly from the DVD, at the beggining of the post, and the other filmed from a projection/screening of it) being recently uploaded to Youtube, and the rest is history. That we will tell here.

Given the anonymous source and the poor quality of the Youtube versions, it was expected that no definite proof of “authenticity” or of the probable hoax would be found, but people worked on it anyway and endless debate ensued. One of the most interesting evidence of hoaxing was pointed out by “onthefence” on the OpenMindsForum:


The alleged UFO has a very different blur from the background. Though it has been reasonably suggested that that was the result of poor rendering of the 3D model on a computer, I think it has more to do with the simple difference in contrast between the flying saucer and the background in the original footage. Because the video versions initially on Youtube have such poor quality, I don’t think this “pulsed” blur artifact from a quick rendering of the 3D model would show up. One can barely discern details in the craft. Either way, it’s clear evidence that the flying saucer and the background are two very different things. One is real, the other is not.

Further evidence of hoax include the so convenient and extremely lucky cameraman (who according to Harris was using a tripod (!!!)). He had the saucer hovering near that chimney that turns out to be from the nearby power plant and which makes a nice detail. But do not make much sense because in the real geography of the place, the saucer at that point was actually hundreds of meters away from it. Only the cameraman at that point had the illusion that the saucer was near the power plant — and only if he had no depth perception.

But if things remained at this point, only skeptics would be satisfied to consider such soft evidence on such bad quality, anonymous video, a case closed for hoax. Fortunately, another Italian ufologist who received the original footage years ago decided to step up.


Antonio Chiumento, contrary to Paola Harris, allegedly chose not to publicize the video he received because of the anonymous, unknown origin. Wise decision. It remained archived for years, but after the international Youtube sensation and subsequent echoes in his very own country about it, he finally spoke about it. And we are glad that he did.

In the videoclip above you can watch the best version of the infamous video yet available on the internet. That’s probably because they are showing the original video that Chiumento received directly from the anonymous source. You can see clearly that the flying saucer is fake, as it clearly stands out against the background many times. As it was made three or four years ago, the CGI is not near as good as the Haitian/Dominican videos — in which, we must note, the UFOs blended well with the scenery because everything was computer generated.

Not only that, but the local TV station received a phone call from the alleged authors of the video, who confessed it was created with Adobe’s After Effects post production software. Though this confession cannot be confirmed (as the original source was anonymous), we don’t have so many reasons to doubt it since there’s such clear evidence already that allows us to conclude this one is indeed a hoax.

[This post is heavily based on the original dossier at ufofu]

UPDATE: I became aware that in the interview, Italian researcher Chiumiento actually tells much more than what I described above, at times incorrectly. He received the video from an anonymous source and after seeing it immediately considered it a hoax, given the evident difference in sharpness between the UFO and the background. He then received an email confession from the author, at the time, who made the video as part of a Computer Graphics class. He repeatedly emphasizes that no video, photographic evidence, no matter how good, is valid without a good supporting testimonial evidence. In this case it was also anonymous, so that’s another reason that he ignored the video.

This was all allegedly clarified long before the video became famous on Youtube recently, and Paola Harris claimed it was declared authentic by Hollywood experts.

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Controlled implosion on 9/11?

You can watch above the controlled implosion of the “Landmark Tower”, a 30 story building more than a 100 meters tall. The show happened in March 2006, and conspiracy websites all over the internet excitedly compare that to the colapse of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11.

Though there are indeed some similarities, there are also notable differences. As you can check on other videos of the implosion of the Landmark Tower, here or over here, on a controlled demolition the building collapses from bottom up, and the whole structure crumbles easily while it falls — because the initial rounds of explosives already weakened it so much that it barely stands when the final rounds are detonated. They are controlled implosions.

In contrast, on the Twin Towers fall, the collapse started around the area hit by the planes, and one can see clearly that both the structure above and below the collapsing zone remains more or less intact, until it’s hit by the falling floor above or approaches the ground and join the rubbles.

As you can watch above, the collapse happened because of the weakening of the steel structure of the building, due to the prolonged heat of the uncontrolled fires.

This explanation, strongly refuted by conspiracy theorists, is clearly demonstrated by many incidents where fires weakened and caused the collapse of metallic structures like bridges, or the Oakland overpass. Those lessons are humorously approached on the 4/29truth.com website.

Though we can compare them to many known events and knowledge, it’s true that the attack and the subsequent fall of the Twin Towers was a unique event in many aspects, if only for their scale. It’s no wonder that seems so counter-intuitive, but one of the most counter-intuitive aspects — the fact they fell amost straight down — has one simple physics answer. And it’s related to their scale.

There was no chance of either tower tipping over, for a 500,000-ton building has too much inertia to fall any way except virtually straight down.
[Did you know?]

Each of the towers were four times higher than the Landmark Tower imploded at the begging of this post. Similarities, indeed, but also notable differences.

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Aquatic "alien" video

Turn down the volume (unless you are into loud Arabic music) and check the video above. A few months ago, infamous paper Pravda reported that “Russian fishermen catch squeaking alien and ate it“. The video clearly shows the same “alien”. As Mexican weblog MarcianitosVerdes wrote at the time, it’s another Garadiavolo case.

As you can read on our entry about those abominable creatures, they are just common rays, skates and species alike. What look like evil eyes are actually nostrils. The real eyes are on the other side of the fish.

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The Brit Balloo-FOs invasion

French blog ufofu wrote about the recent mass “UFO” sightings in the UK, which turn out to be just small hot-air ballons, chinese lanterns. They made a nice compilation of the incidents to go along the nice image seen above:

Did you notice almost all sightings happened in or near the weekend? Ufofu did. That’s when those Earthlings are used to party, for whatever reason. And it just happens that recently, chinese lanterns are easily available in the UK.


They quote BUFORA’s Robert Rosamond, who confirmed they are aware of that.

“Our volume of incoming reports continues to expand of late with a particular surge in sightings that more or less exhibit the known behaviour patterns of our old friend the Chinese lantern. We have also recently received a series of requests for information on various sightings from numerous radio stations dotted around the country, most of which curiously enough contain brief descriptions of sightings that suspiciously exhibit the same known behaviour patterns of, take a guess,…. Chinese lanterns. Islington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Watford and Bangor Co. Down, to name but a few, are some of the culprits”, he writes on BUFORA’s homepage.

Of the many website selling chinese lanterns, one pointed by ufofu is particularly interesting: UFO balloons. Check their “Sightings” section.

While thse Balloo-Fos are being quickly solved and not being seriously considered by serious ufologists, ufnortunately the same cannot be said about the other invasion of Identified Flying Objects: the terrible “Flotillas” (Fleets, in Spanish) of Jaime Maussán.

Those obvious helium balloons, originally promoted in Mexico by the world-famous hoax promoter, were originally filmed by one of his collaborators notorious for photographing a cheap toy and claiming it was a flying saucer. Most English speaking ufologists do not take the Flotillas seriously, but unfortunately in Latin America, including Brazil, and also in Spain some UFO promoters claim these Balloo-FOs are mysterious.

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Six facts about ufology in Brazil

There’s much misrepresentantion and misperception about what ufology in Brazil really is, think, do and did. We present below six proven facts about it to help those abroad know what is really going on around here.

Fact #1: Most Brazilian ufologists readily admit there is no proof of extraterrestrials among us.

Reputed Brazilian ufologists active today defend the existence of an intriguing phenomenon with unexplained cases, but admit there’s no solid evidence about its extraterrestrial origin.

Claudeir Covo, one of the most well-known ufologists in the country, is very clear: “There is still no scientific proof of that“.

Ubirajara Rodrigues, world famous in ufology for his investigations of the “Varginha case”, explains that “between life, intelligent life and life that achieved an unimaginable stage of technological progress, there is such an enormous distance of scientific and philosophic complexity, that we can’t even dream about being able of making any statement about them. Who can claim, then, that UFOs are cosmic spaceships…“.

Among younger ufologists, but no less active in investigation, recognizing the absence of conclusive evidence of the ETH is also a given fact. “There is absolutely no proof or solid evidence [of the relationship between UFOs and the activity of "extraaterrestrial intelligence"], asserts Rogério Chola. Reinaldo Stabolito warns that we “have no way of knowing whether the UFO phenomenon is indeed caused by alien spaceships. Which means that when people talk about ‘aliens’, they do no more than projecting our own expectations, wishes and even personality on those alleged aliens. It’s even worse, because many people use this uncertainty about the phenomenon to exploit the gullible, claiming extraordinary contacts that never happened.”

All quotes above are from the interviews given to the Brazilian Ufology Center (CUB), a diverse ufology group (promoting both “spiritual” and “scientific” ufology), and conducted by its president, Milton Dino Frank. The links point to the full interview, in Portuguese.

We could quote some other noted and active Brazilian ufologists, but there are obviously some “ufologists” in Brazil who don’t hesitate to claim the contrary. One of them is Ademar Gevaerd.

Fact #2: The editor of the Brazilian “UFO” magazine, Ademar Gevaerd, quite simply fled from his public commitment to present one single case that would prove the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life.

On September 21, 2004, Gevaerd electronically signed and distributed a public agreement according to which he would “choose a case that, in his opinion, would offer the best proof for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life“, offering related documentation that would be analyzed by the scientific community, represented by five independent scientists from the “major Brazilian universities — USP, PUC-SP and UNICAMP — from different areas os expertise“. USP is the largest university in Latin America, and UNICAMP and PUC-SP are also highly reputed institutions.

This was the result of a series of “challenges”, which began when a contributor of the UFO magazine defied skeptics and was soon backed by the publication and its editor. After much discussion, an independent group of parapsychologists, Interpsi, associated with the PUC-SP university, accepted the request to mediate the dispute, and it evolved to the agreement to which both Gevaerd and skeptics alike agreed, signed and publicized.

But only eight days after this public engagement, Ademar Gevaerd simply ran away from it. “I don’t feel obliged to offer proof that UFOs exist to nobody whatsoever“, he stated on a surprising public message. Even more surprising was the fact that Gevaerd also stated in this public message that one of the reasons he broke his public agreement were the words of ufologist Carlos Reis, which he quoted in full and that included the following:

I know, you [Gevaerd] know and many people also know that ufology is fragile, we don’t work with proof, but with significant indications that we are dealing with a phenomenon of an unknown nature. That’s it. We can’t claim with a proper mind that it’s extraterrestrial, we can’t even talk about ‘aliens’, because those are only theories, hypothesis, speculations…“. [emphasis added]

Gevaerd still sells his magazine clearly claiming that UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships from alien civilizations. According to him, the best case for the extraterrestrial origin of the UFO phenomenon is the “Varginha case”.

[for a description of this episode, see "Brazilian ufologists flee skeptical challenge"]

Fact #3: Ubirajara Franco Rodrigues, first and main investigator of the “Varginha case”, warns that “the greatest missing thing about Varginha is the alleged presence of an Unidentified Flying Object … To the case, to be able to claim it was the appearance, the capture, spaceships from other planets, extraterrestrial beings, there is absolutely no data.“.

There are many ufologists in Brazil making statements with absolutely no support, with mixed, wrong and false information, about even the testemony from the witnesses. And what surprises me most, is that the stupid things I hear against the case are less numerous than those supporting it, coming from those in ufology… Of the thirty most well-known ufologists in Brazil … if there are five among those who read the 400 page book that I wrote with all the details of the case, that’s an optimistic guess. And they want to talk about the case“, Rodrigues said.

Those statements are part of the video interview he gave to “Painel OVNI TV“, and Ubirajara Rodrigues refers to his book “O Caso Varginha“, where he is very clear writing at the end that at this point nothing about the case can be concluded given the absence of concrete evidence.

Fact #4: The “chupa-chupa” panic at the end of the 1970s in Amazon is not an unique, exclusive event.

This is one of the most important and intriguing “ufological” cases in Brazil. But those interested in exploiting it as an inexplicable mystery — or mystery explainable with aliens — try to claim this was a unique, exclusive, one of a kind event. That is not the case.

Almost identical reports came from India in 2002, with the “Muchnowa” panic — which allegedly means “thing that bites or scratches the face” in hindi, a popular nickname very similar to the Brazilian “chupa-chupa”, meaning “suck-suck”, which allegedly sucked blood and also scratched its victims.

Both phenomena happened on very poor regions of developing countries, provoking panic among the locals and producing little solid evidence besides reports of strange lights and attacks which resulted in marks like scratches, bruises and burns on the victims.

[Left: Muchnowa victim, India, 2002. Right: Chupa-chupa victim, Brazil, 1977]

Most relevant is the fact that, in the Indian case, the idea of alien beings behind everything was circulated, but with much less emphasis; that’s probably because cases of mass hysteria were almost common at the time. Just one year before, attacks of the “monkey man” scared people and resulted in some deaths caused not by the creature, but by the popular panic itself. It was an almost textbook example of mass delusion.

[Monkey Man, India, 2001]

Whatever the final explanation for the “Muchnowa” and the “Chupa-chupa”, it’s clear that social and psychological elements link both cases, very similar in almost every aspect. The Indian case is more clearly a sociological event, and that should be considered when analyzing the Brazilian one.

The few physical evidence available from the Brazilian “chupa-chupa” phenomenon was collected at the time by a secret military operation, named “Operação Prato” [Operation Saucer].

Fact #5: “Our film and photographic records do not portrait our certainty [that the objects and lights are "driven by an intelligence"], because we lacked much technical and material resources and personnel. On other times, we lost the chance, photographing useless material. We believe that with better resources we could get to the reasonably acceptable“, concludes a report from September 1977 of Operation Saucer, which investigated the “chupa-chupa” phenomenon. In short, it clearly states the lack of satisfactory physical evidence.

Why they lacked so much resources? According to the Air Force Command, the operation was in fact the result of personal interest in the subject by some officers. That claim is supported by statements of late Uyrange Hollanda, commander of the Operation. He reminded that “it was very fortunate that at the COMAR I, at that time, in that region, there was an Air Force officer, a brigadier, who believed in flying saucers. Had it been another officer, another brigadier, maybe the Operation wouldn’t have happened.”

According to the Social Communication Center of the Brazilian Air Force, “regarding the Operation Saucer, the Air Force has only the records based on the data given by one of the members of that activity. A report with many testimonies was produced, apparently with no scientific base“. Indeed, the available reports are just a compilation of testemonies. There’s no scientific analysis of the cases.

The Operation was cancelled soon afterwards.

[see “Operation Saucer” Electronic Reference]

Fact #6: Brazilian ufology begun with a crude photographic hoax. Brazilian ufologists realized the fact only three decades later.

barratijuca2fraude2215hjkl The event that definitely launched ufology in the minds of Brazilians was the Barra da Tijuca flying saucer of 1952. With huge letters, the Cruzeiro magazine boasted:

“EXTRA: FLYING SAUCER IN BARRA DA TIJUCA. O Cruzeiro presents, on a spectacular scoop, the most sensational documentation ever obtained about the mystery of the flying saucers”.

Sensational indeed. Too bad the photos had obvious lighting discrepancies — the saucer was lighted in a different direction than the rest of the image. The hoax was rejected at the time by Ary Maurell Lobo, from the Brazilian ‘Popular Science‘ magazine, and the discrepancies were pointed out by Americans a few years later, being mentioned even in the “Condon report”.

Curiously, among Brazilian ufologists and even military officers, the case was very different, and decades would pass before the hoax was realized. Officers of the Brazilian Air Force, headed by colonel Joao Adil de Oliveira, analyzed the images and, because they failed to reproduce them with a model thrown in the air, they declared the photos authentic. The hoax was actually created by photomontage, but our ufologists also missed that.

It was only in the 1980s, thirty years after the event, that Brazilian ufologists Carlos Reis and Claudeir Covo would present evidence from the ranks of Brazilian ufology that the photos were indeed hoaxed. On the fifth and last image, Covo remarked that “to crate the shadow in the object, the Sun must have been inside the Atlantic Ocean”.

His research generated much debate and criticism at the time, and even today some Brazilian “ufologists” still defend the authenticity of the crudely hoaxed images.

[See Fraudes ufológicas: O caso Barra da Tijuca, in Portuguese]

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