Wednesday, June 16, 2010

UFOs, Youngsters and Geezers

There has been another call for we geezers to retire from the UFO field so that the younger, more energetic, more enlightened, and better equipped to investigate can move to the front. I say, speaking from my position as a geezer, "Nonsense."

This idea that the youth will be able to move forward without we rearward looking geezers in the way doesn’t float... not just because they’re young and not just because they’re more enlightened but because we’ll end up fighting the same battles again and again.

There are any number of reports that I thought we’d driven the stake through so that we wouldn’t be forced to study them again, but such is not the case. Take the Allende Letters. Here is a case in which there is no evidence beyond the demented musings of a man who didn’t seem to have a firm grasp on reality and who admitted that the whole thing was hoax more than thirty years ago. That’s right, Carlos Allende, or as he was born, Carl Allen, admitted, in a written statement to Jim Lorenzen, then the international director of APRO, that he had made up the whole tale.

And today we have to fight through those who still accept the Philadelphia Experiment, which is part of the whole Allende Letter episode again. Not to mention those who claim their identities were changed so that they can say they were part of the original experiment without having to explain why their names don’t surface anywhere in the case until much later or why they aren’t old enough to have participated. They time travel... There are some who actually believe this nonsense.

Oh, and we have to explain, again, that the Office of Naval Research didn’t take the letters and the annotated book seriously. That much of what was suggested in the book and the letters has been proven to be in error. And that Allende annotated everything he got from birthday cards to traffic citations.

Finally, I received, just a couple of days ago an email from someone who had new information about the Philadelphia experiment. He seemed to be unaware of the history of the case.

Or we can look at the Aurora, Texas UFO crash from 1897. Here was a story that appeared in the newspapers of the time but seemed to have no follow up written about it and a case that disappeared until the 1960s.

So, there I was, living not all that far from Aurora, Texas. It seemed that it might be a good idea for me to drive up there and see if I could learn anything about the crash. Now, remember, this was the early 1970s, and while 1897 was seventy or seventy-five years earlier, there were still people living who had been in the town in 1897. I talked to some of those same longtime residents who told me that nothing had happened in 1897.

There was one old fellow, his hands all twisted and disfigured who had been there in 1897 and who would later appear in some of the documentaries about the crash. He told me, when I was there, that nothing had happened. Had it been as big a deal as had been reported in the newspaper, he surely would remember something about it.

Later, as the story grew and many others arrived, he told them a different tale. Now he was suggesting that there had been a crash. He described some of what he saw, but I just couldn’t accept these new and better tales. I’d talked to him before it became a way to find some local fame. I’d talked to him before the people showed up with the television cameras and bright lights.

I also talked to the historians at the Wise County Historical Society (Aurora is in Wise County) who told me that it hadn’t happened, though they wished it had. I learned that T.J. Weems, the famed Signal Corps officer was, in fact, the local blacksmith. I learned that Judge Proctor didn’t have a windmill, or rather that was what was said then. Now they suggest that he had two windmills. I wandered the grave yard, which isn’t all that large (something just over 800 graves) and found no marker with strange symbols carved on it, though there are those who suggest a crude headstone with a rough airship on it had been there at the time. I found nothing to support the tale and went away believing, based on my own research and interviews, this to be another of the airship hoaxes.

A large number of people, including Hayden Hewes of the now defunct International UFO Bureau, Jim Marrs, who has suggested the story was real, and even Walt Andrus, the former International Director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) at various times journeyed to Aurora in search of the truth. They all reported they found a strange grave marker in the Aurora cemetery, they found strange metal with metal detectors, and they gathered reports from long time Aurora residents who remembered the story, remembered seeing the airship, or remembered parents talking about the crash. There was also discussion of government attempts to suppress the data. To them, that made the story of the crash seem even more real.

Isn’t interesting that the strange grave marker has since disappeared and there is no real photographic record of it. There should be for all the research that has been done and the single picture that has turned up showed not an airship but a coarse triangle with circles in the center. And isn’t interesting that there were never any follow up reports from Aurora. First the big splash with the crash in 1897 and then nothing for more than sixty years.

The final, fatal blow for the airship and Aurora crash comes from the original reporter. H.E. Hayden, a stringer for the Dallas Morning News, who claimed to have invented the story in a vain attempt to put his dying community back on the map. He hoped to draw attention, and people, to Aurora, Texas. He was successful. The problem was that he succeeded sixty years too late and those who arrived only wanted to learn about the airship, not settle down to rebuild the community as he had hoped.

The point, however, is that we revisit cases that have been solved. These youngsters, the alleged new blood with their fresh ideas might have new blood, but their ideas are not fresh. We can expect them to get excited over the old cases that we geezers have eliminated and will now have to disprove once again.

In Ufology, there is a cycle that used to run about every five years, though it has expanded in recent times. New people enter into the study of UFOs, find these old cases and are excited by them and begin to push them. Eventually, they reach the same conclusions as we geezers, but only after a lot debate about the value of the cases and a lot of wasted time, effort and money.

So bring in the new blood but please don’t be surprised when I am unimpressed with their new methods and their new insights. They aren’t advancing the study at all. They are retreating into a past that we could warn them about, but they are too smart to listen to we geezers. We need to just get out of the way so they can follow the old, overgrown paths because they’re just too smart to listen. We need to get out of the way so they can waste their time doing what we’ve already done. They’re too smart to think we have anything more to contribute.

17 comments:

cda said...

I agree; the 'new' younger generation will get no further with UFOs than the oldies. What does 'younger' mean anyway? We have already had three generations of investigators involved in ufology since 1947. Why should the fourth be any different?

I forget exactly how the 'Philadelphia Experiment' tale originated. Was it with some marginal annotations in one of M.K.Jessup's books in the 50s? Was there anything in the press at the time of the supposed 'experiment'?

And the authors, Moore and Berlitz, were the (in)famous duo who authored a certain other book a year later, I do believe.

Keith Chester said...

Hi Kevin,

Excellent post. I think your point is dead on. I would, however, not get too concerned over the new and younger enthusiasts who want to explore the UFO phenomenon, even the cases that have been discredited, like those you've mentioned.

It does seem a waste of time for the younger generation to revisit cases that are proven hoaxes. In general, the value of going back to these cases can be helpful as years progress. If anything, there is something to be learned about the social/psychological element of the phenomenon as it progresses through the decades.

My take on this is that by allowing newer generations of researchers to come on-board and discover the truth of cases on their own, truths that have been revealed by quality researchers such as yourself, we will always have a percentage of those newer researchers learn from their mistakes, and as a result, further promote what people before them have already accomplished and uncovered; keeping the accurate story alive and not lost because the better literature is very obscure not easily available, and expensive.

So, in the meantime, it will be a costly waste of time for the newbies, and in some instances a set-back for what has been achieved, but I'm optimistic there will always be high quality researchers entering the field and contributing a great deal to our further understanding of the UFO phenomenon.

Just a thought.

Frank Stalter said...

You've got a worldwide phenomenon that's been around for thousands of years. It needs lots of eyes on it.
Where they are focused will change over time. Lots of eyes focused outward these days.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/06/15/4512943-an-avalanche-of-alien-planets

John said...

heh, heh, young people suck...

steve sawyer said...

"There has been another call for we geezers to retire from the UFO field so that the younger, more energetic, more enlightened, and better equipped to investigate can move to the front."

Oh, not again! This is just silly. The last few times this occurred, it was the discredited RRR Group, primarily in the person of Richard Reynolds, who called for this kind of ridiculous generational jeremiad or jihad. As usual, he and his crew were wrong to do so, for a variety of obvious reasons:

It was Edmund Burke who originally said, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

The point is that investigation and research into the ufo phenomenon really has nothing to do with the age of the person involved, but rather the conceptual and empirical mindset of the individual so interested in the subject. To presume otherwise is simply ageist, and reflects some kind of either deliberate or unconscious prejudice.

Both younger, middle-aged, and older investigators can have either an objective, rationalist approach or, conversely, a hide-bound, belief-oriented perspective. It is a broad spectrum, not based on age, but on the psychological, cultural, and individual perspectives and/or assumptions usually developed prior to engaging in ufo research that most often determines the veracity and quality of investigation and analysis brought to bear on the complex problems and issues related to both understanding and researching the ufo phenomenon, not age, ethnicity, sex, or cultural environment.

To think otherwise is just not true--it is the individual and their methodology, education, experience, and viewpoint on the subject which is far more determinative than other sociological factors. Both bad and good research can be done by any generation.

But since every new generation that becomes involved in this field has to learn the basic history and processes required to both honestly and intelligently educate and train themselves to be able to separate the vast volume of chaff from the minuscule kernels of wheat, or signal within the overwhelming noise, and pursue the best cases and evidence which represent very real clues to the nature and patterns within ufological phenomena, there is always bound to be some generational carping and dismissal of the "old school," and sometimes with justification. But the same can be true of the younger generation of researchers.

Older researchers who've been in the trenches for a long time can either become ideologically-bound or belief-oriented to derive false conclusions, within which I would include those such as Jacobs, Hopkins, and Fowler, for example, but others such as Vallee, Greenwood, Sparks, and Randle, are alternative examples of good, thorough, generally objective and intelligent, empirically-oriented researchers, and represent the other, more evidence-based, open minded perspective, and can teach the younger researchers much about the pitfalls and problems within the field, and act as mentors of a kind, if you read their writings carefully, and do cross-comparisons between their investigative research and writings. At least, this has been my experience and opinion.

By the way, Kevin, where did this new call for older researchers to either retire or "get out of the way" appear? Could you provide us with a reference or online link? I'd like to respond to such thoughtless, misbegotten nonsense directly to such a call if the source of this latest missive is online. It seems just absurd if you think about the presumptions behind such an orientation or belief.

Michael Malone said...

I have to agree with you... mostly.

If the young-uns want you geezers to go, it's cause you're raining on their parade. You must look back to look forward.

That said, just cause they are young doesn't mean their "new" ideas are bad. Unwillingness to entertain truly new ideas is as wrong headed as unwillingness to learn from those who came before you.

steve sawyer said...

@Michael Malone:

"...just cause they are young doesn't mean their "new" ideas are bad. Unwillingness to entertain truly new ideas is as wrong headed as unwillingness to learn from those who came before you."

Precisely correct. No disagreement here--again, it's the ideas and quality of research that's paramount, not the age or other demographic aspects of the individual concerned that makes all the difference. But where are the young equivalents of Hynek and Vallee these days?

Regardless, all encouragement to those who sincerely and scientifically wish to engage in serious investigation, research, and analysis of the ufo phenomenon, young or old (or somewhere in between). 8^}

@all concerned:

BTW, apparently for my comment above, I have now been banned from further commenting on the RRR Group blogs, and they have also deleted all my prior comments there.

Luckily, I had saved all the comment threads where I had made any prior comment there, just in anticipation of their childish, oxymoronic actions and sophomoric attitudes. Amateur agent provocateurs, to say the least.

The result of their hypocritical censorship (which is what it is, since they feel free to wildly and abusively insult and rudely criticize many others on their blogs, but always censor any criticism of them) is a rather strange discontinuity on some of their comment threads where others had responded and largely agreed with my prior comments on those blogs. Quite dumb.

They've accordingly shot themselves in the foot yet again as a result. No big surprise, considering their egregious history. They are just a very bad, malodorous joke, IMHO. BFD. *yawn*

Please excuse this minor diversion. 8^}

But let's proceed. Next topic?

Alfred Lehmberg said...

If ever there was valid supposition to "consider the source," here it is in bells and whistles and wearing chintzy cockamamies on its badly turned little cankles.

Brace yourself Mr. Sawyer! Now come fatuous slanders, egregious libels, cowardly whispers, and the stillborn ire of one less than auspicious purveyor of same, eh?

http://alienviewgroup.blogspot.com/2005/11/smoke-and-fire.html

cda said...

Where would we, and ufology in general, be without Alfred Lehmberg? Is he, maybe, the future for our subject, or does he represent those geezers of yesteryear?

steve sawyer said...

"Brace yourself Mr. Sawyer! Now come fatuous slanders, egregious libels, cowardly whispers, and the stillborn ire of one less than auspicious purveyor of same, eh?"

Ah, worry not, Mr. Lehmberg. While I would rather leave these tawdry little mischief-makers alone, and forget their idle blathering, if need be, I am loaded for bear if their further actions call for it.

For now, though, they're just not worth the time to even consider in any serious way. I actually feel sort of proud to be banned, as that proves just how overly sensitive they are to honest, direct criticism. Poor babies -- I may even have a T-shirt made that says, "Proudly banned by Maxwell's silver ban hammer." Heh! 8^}

They inadvertently did me a favor, although they will never fathom just why. BTW, they also deleted Tony Bragalia's comments in reply to mine on that thread. I have no idea why either he or Nick Redfern provide content for these "quidnuncs," and will "eschew" them from now on, to use two of Rich Reynolds favorite imprecations. 'Nuff said.

Now let's continue the conversation inspired by Kevin's post on ageism in ufology, shall we?

Alfred Lehmberg said...

I suspect it may be significant that I can't be easily placed, cda, eh? As a measure, I submit, of making little to no impact at all, am I right? Still, compared to cousin Ritchy and his perhaps imagined murder of ralphing crows? I'm the heart and soul of the entire ufological community where I'm not its teacher, leader, and holder of the f'n guiding light!

That was _sarcasm_ Ritchy... I'm betting that, for you, this should be clearly pointed out.

Mr. Sawyer? Just watch your back, eh? You're _too_ right, you see? You point out that it's _ludicrous_ to think you can remotely look forward without having first looked back and I think you couldn't be more correct.

I remind; however, that what's seen looking back is itself a distorted tale at best, drawn through filters and lenses facilitating the desires of the observer only, truth distorted to truthiness and purposed for the celebration of halfwit ego, purposeless self-satisfaction, and flaccid self-aggrandizement. RRR IOW.

Innovation and conventionality are never a good mix, though I suspect that a good mix is required, regardless, to move forward more than we have in the last 60 years as regards the UFO. We have to be bold and prudent. Progressive and conservative. Ceremonious and raging.

I'm betting we can make that work if no one cares who gets the credit, eh? [g].

purrlgurrl said...

They may be young, but they fixate on old cases where the firsthand witnesses are dead and if there ever was any trace evidence it was long ago blown or washed away.

It's a constant puzzle to me their obsession with Roswell when there are more recent cases that are much more compelling in my book (with living witnesses whose memories are still intact). These newer cases just don't ignate any investigative fire in their bellies.

Maybe it's an ego thing about being the one to crack that legendary, primal case (which I'm convinced was a Cold War intelligence operation).

Anyway, the UFO enigma will be solved by 1) a breakthrough in a branch of science not looking for answers to the UFO question that nevertheless will explain it as a natural phenomenon, or 2) aliens landing on the roof of the UN (or maybe both).

But no online "researcher" who relies almost solely on mining online material (much of it second-, third-, or fourth-hand) will ever discover the truth no matter what his or her age.

Frank Stalter said...

"It's a constant puzzle to me their obsession with Roswell when there are more recent cases that are much more compelling in my book (with living witnesses whose memories are still intact). These newer cases just don't ignate any investigative fire in their bellies."

Well, Roswell is really a cornerstone case. One of two things happened, each with a very important result. 1-It was in fact an alien crash and visitation was a certainty to the highest reaches of government. 2-It wasn't and the entire phenomenon is just as enigmatic to them as it is to all of us.

"But no online "researcher" who relies almost solely on mining online material (much of it second-, third-, or fourth-hand) will ever discover the truth no matter what his or her age."

Online research can make worthwhile contributions. I know this first hand.

purrlgurrl said...

As a good friend, who's also a librarian, keeps reminding me . . . still only a fraction of all the documents ever created have been digitized and are available via the Internet. Nobody can do serious research without powering off and leaving the building.

And, if someone believes serious research is relaying on on information gleaned from other blogs . . . well . . .

Roswell may be Stan Friedman's cash cow, but it's a dead end. And a lot of younger researchers are missing the boat by not focusing on newer cases.

Frank Stalter said...

"As a good friend, who's also a librarian, keeps reminding me . . . still only a fraction of all the documents ever created have been digitized and are available via the Internet.

And, if someone believes serious research is relaying on on information gleaned from other blogs . . . well . . . "

http://www.bluebookarchive.org/default.aspx

Enjoy. Just a sampling of relevant material available. Of course, it's always better to listen to what your ignorant friends say than find things out for yourself. Makes doing nothing but criticizing so much easier.

KRandle said...

All -

The original post, that set me off, was on a closed discussion list and had nothing to do with RRR Group.

I have not suggested that the new, improved investigators wouldn't be able, or were not able, to advance our research. Only that we weren't in their way. We might ask questions they don't want to answer, but the questions are important.

And I'm aware of the difference between research and investigation. You might say, in a simplistic way, research is done inside and investigation is done in the field. Simplistically speaking.

The real point is that all researchers and investigators are welcome here regardless of age, orientation (meaning skeptic or proponent) and education. I just want the discussions to be civil.

steve sawyer said...

"The original post, that set me off, was on a closed discussion list and had nothing to do with RRR Group.

"I have not suggested that the new, improved investigators wouldn't be able, or were not able, to advance our research. Only that we weren't in their way. We might ask questions they don't want to answer, but the questions are important.

"And I'm aware of the difference between research and investigation."


Thanks for that, Kevin. I apologize for any diversionary comments about the RRR Group or Rich Reynolds, if that was felt to be a distraction, which they kind of are, but since they had first raised the self-puncturing petard of ageist, unconsidered rhetoric in some recent posts and follow-up commentary (and subsequent retroactive back-tracking rationalizations, or "explanations" and supposed clarification of their viewpoints, as usual), I felt, in turn, that some recent examples of what your post referred to was somewhat pertinent. Mea culpa.

For reference, if curious, see:

http://bit.ly/90LstJ
http://bit.ly/aUX7Hy
http://bit.ly/anNUyW
http://bit.ly/aARak3
http://bit.ly/bc0CLP

Maybe not, but my own recent experience in regard to those arrogant, unenlightened naifs was seemingly relevant to the points your post concerned, as another real life, prior example thereof. However, since they are a relatively minor distraction, I won't mention them at any length here again. They're just too tedious to spend the mindspace upon. As Snoopy was oft heard to silently utter: Bleeah! 8^}

Anyway, 'nuff about them. I think a central issue these days, with the rise of the internet, and related decline in print media in general and specifically paranormal or particularly published documentation and written information about ufo and/or advanced non-human intelligence [ANHI] research and related issues is that there has been a slowly devolving sensationalism and tabloidism trend developing, with the dumbing down of our intellectual culture in general.

This is part of a pattern or trend that is in part due to the democratizing (some suggest anarchy) of the internet, but to me alternative media outlets that permit anyone to have a public voice rather than be filtered or censored by the mainstream media is a very good thing.

Sadly, the effect on the infrastructure of traditional or standard media outlets has been in turn deleteriously affected, much to our mutual loss in ways. I think both forms of informational distribution are both needed and to be encouraged, but I also perceive a kind of potential cross-fertilization and cross-platform evolution with things like Apple's iPad, for example.

I only hope that some newer media institutions and public access thereto become enhanced and expanded over time to hopefully create a better means to create, distribute, and publish relevant ufo research data and investigatory findings than ever before, but it will definitely take some great effort and work to develop such a future alternative to either filtered print media or the wild west of usually unfiltered internet means of info distribution to counter the increasing mythos, disinformation, and disinfotainment impulses of the great majority of those who wish to voice their own ideas, conclusions, and opinions without sufficient peer review and thorough vetting and editing for useful or healthy consumption and educational purposes.

It is up to all of us to so engage if we wish to see this happen for the common good and real progress and advancement of the field of ufo research and genuine investigation.

What do others think of or have ideas about the future means and alternatives for ufo research to develop or create better forms of info distribution and data sharing or group teamwork via same?