Saturday, April 16, 2011

Neil deGrasse Tyson and UFOs

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the man who killed Pluto, has entered a new arena but it is one with which he is unfamiliar...

Okay, he didn’t kill Pluto and I’m not sure this nonsense about planets and dwarf planets is worth much debate. In the 19th century we had Ceres as a planet and then the king of the asteroids and now a dwarf planet with Pluto, and with three other objects that are so far from the sun in it was only recently that they were found.

My problem was his suggestion that there is nothing to UFOs because the government is lousy at keeping secrets. The thinking, I guess, is that if UFOs are extraterrestrial and the government knows it for whatever reason, why that information would have leaked long ago. I’m not sure why he, and so many others, believe this nonsense, but clearly he does.

Has the government kept secrets?

Here is the conundrum. If it can keep secrets, then we wouldn’t know because the secrets would be, well, secret. How do we know if it has successfully kept secrets?

I suppose we could look at the track record. We know about the Tuskegee Syphilis study only after it had been going on for forty years. A whistle blower provided two newspapers with the information which led to the end of the study. I’m not going to comment on the ethics of something like this, other to say I am horrified by it.

Yes, you say, they kept the secret for forty years, but it did come out. Only shows that some secrets are kept for a long time.

Then I could mention Operation Solo, which I have addressed before. This was an FBI operation that put a spy into the top reaches of the Soviet government. Morris Childs was a leader of the American communist party in the 1930s until he became disillusioned with it. Cooperating with the FBI, Childs maintained his association with the communists in the Soviet Union, becoming a trusted communist. He was so highly respected that they shared many of their secrets with him... and sometimes shared secrets they didn’t know they were sharing because they didn’t know he spoke Russian.

This operation was so secret that others working in the FBI office in New York which oversaw Childs didn’t know about it unless they were directly involved. It was so secret that presidents were not briefed on it. The only exception was right after Gerald Ford became president and he was to meet with Soviet officials. The FBI told him the source of their information to boost his confidence in his dealings with the Soviets.

This operation ran from the 1930s to the 1990s when Childs retired and the Soviet Union collapsed. Only then was he recognized for his contribution to the United States, after there was no longer a need for the secrecy and there was no longer a danger to him.

This proves that secrets can be kept. So, to Dr. Tyson, I say, one of your reasons for rejecting the notion of UFOs is invalid.

As for Roswell, I would say, the secret hasn’t been kept. We are talking about it. People have come forward, credible people, to tell us what they saw. It’s just that those editors of newspapers, which would jump at the chance to expose another government secret do not believe that there has been alien visitation and since they don’t believe, they are not going to listen to anyone who suggests otherwise.

Oh, I know that we have let this get away from us. We had to put up with the contactees who told of visits to the other planets of the solar system, talking of environments that we know now do not exist.

We have been the victims of hoaxes. Nearly every photograph ever taken of a UFO has turned out to be a hoax.

And we have had Roswell witnesses who were once respected but who are no longer considered credible.

And we have had the Air Force providing explanations that are preposterous but people believe them because it is easier to accept these answers than suggest something alien has visited. I would throw out the Mogul explanation right here because anyone who looks at it rationally realizes that it doesn’t fit the facts. But there are many people who believe it anyway.

Alien visitation is, you might say, a self–keeping secret. It is such an astonishing secret that people just refuse to believe it. I tell you about a UFO crash and you just cannot accept that such a thing has happened so you don’t bother to look into it... or invent reasons to reject it.

In the end, all I can say to Dr. Tyson is one of your expressed reasons for rejecting alien visitation is invalid. With that eliminated, maybe we should move the discussion to the evidence that does exist and not the speculation that interstellar travel is impossible. Maybe we should all look at the evidence.


Frank Stalter said...

There are an awful lot of cases that seem to defy prosaic explanation, yet practical, consistent interstellar travel is an awfully hard concept to get your head around. Rock, meet hard place. There is a debate though.

Kandinsky said...

I don't have an axe to grind with Tyson; he usually makes a lot of sense and presents his views in a way that makes people pay attention. I like his style; his satirical comments about some people seeing unidentified lights and concluding 'aliens' are fairly accurate. Those involved in the serious study of UFOs probably share the same thoughts on all that mess. The people who see 'aliens' in every YT video of FAA lights and 'motherships' everytime Mercury passes the SOHO observatory attract ridicule from all angles. Do any of us appreciate the level of critical thinking these guys demonstrate?

Although I believe Tyson's target to be the easy soft-underbelly of ufology, it hardly matters if he chooses to be more specific and dismiss the entire subject. He could be only one in a long, continuous line of scientists making their own argument from ignorance. Chances are he's never discussed the topic with peers like Sturrock or Teoderani and hasn't read some of the more sober material out there. Kaku reckons the ETH is a likely explanation for some of the Kaku woo-woo?

I err towards a sophisticated ETH rather than the original version with its crewed saucers puttering through the cosmos. Where Tyson can't get past the vast distances of space is where he loses the opportunity to ask what the heck people were reporting here. For example, what did Tombaugh see?

In an obvious parallel (sorry), it's ironic that Tyson is linked to Clyde Tombaugh by Pluto. Tombaugh saw 3 UFOs in his time and continued to believe that UFOs were deserving of scientific study. Tyson knows the history of astronomy inside out and reads original manuscripts. It's almost inconceivable that he isn't aware of credible sightings by reputable scientists.

cda said...

I assume Dr Tyson is not well versed in UFOs but feels he has to occasionally say something to answer questioners or interviewers. Presumably he has other reasons, besides doubting a 60-year official government cover-up, for his anti-UFO stance.

Concerning your remarks about "the facts" re Roswell, these 'facts' are what you have settled upon. They are not necessarily the same 'facts' that other researchers/writers have settled upon. You cannot say with any certainty what the true facts are, considering all your witnesses are recalling 30, 40, & 50-year old memories. You can (up to a point) accept what the contemporary newspaper accounts tell you. They don't get everything right but they are much more likely to be in accordance with the 'facts' than your witnesses are. Such is the nature of human memory, distortion and myth making.

I expect Tyson realises this as well.

KRandle said...


Here are the facts:

Something fell near Roswell.

The Military responded.

Material was sent to Ft. Worth

Project Mogul was not secret.

The equipment was regular weather balloons and rawin radar targets.

Pictures of the Mogul arrays and equipment were published in newspapers.

Albert Crary knew the name Mogul in 1946.

The Air Force lied about the recovery in New Mexico claiming it was a weather balloon.

The material in Ramey's office was a single balloon and the remains of a single rawin target.

I could go on... Kirton told the FBI of the solution before Newton could get to Ramey's office...

The point is that Mogul doesn't not cover the facts. It is just a single explanation offered decades later.

Lance said...

Project Mogul was not secret.

Just in general Kevin, I don't think you shoot straight with this idea. The purpose of Mogul was secret. It could be operated in more or less full view because it possessed a cover story.

The way you make a pretense of not understanding this is unbecoming.

Mogul did exist. There is no need to play games. It smacks of trying to create a diversion.

Albert Crary knew the name Mogul in 1946.

As above, this is not the full story and may well not even be important.

The Air Force lied about the recovery in New Mexico claiming it was a weather balloon.

I may be missing the logic of this claim especially considering your earlier claim of what the material was. Are you complaining that the target wasn't properly represented?

The material in Ramey's office was a single balloon and the remains of a single rawin target.

No, the material shown in the pictures was this. There is evidence that there was more of the same stuff, just not in the pictures.

I could go on... Kirton told the FBI of the solution before Newton could get to Ramey's office...

Wholly unimportant. Very likely folks at Roswell knew the stuff was prosaic even before it was shipped (and phones did exist, no?).

The point is that Mogul doesn't not cover the facts. It is just a single explanation offered decades later.

It covers all the facts that don't depend upon the aging memories that have swirled and drifted into various patterns true and false.

Lance Moody

cda said...

There is no way of knowing when Kirton informed the FBI (by phone). We know when the FBI notified their two offices (6.17pm) by teletype, but when the incoming call came from the 8th AF we simply do not know.

Neither do we know when "Newton could get to Ramey's office".

So, Kevin, these 'facts' are fiction. They are fiction unless and until you get hold of documentation saying exactly what happened when. Since there is zero chance of that, you have only very hazy memories to rely on.

And as Lance says, you have no way of knowing how much of the total debris is shown in those photos.

This is precisely what I mean by dubious 'facts'.

Despite this, most of your points are perfectly valid. But they don't amount to much, do they?

By the way, you are not suggesting, I hope, that the USAF lied to the FBI in that phone call, (i.e. lied about the nature of the debris)?

Lance said...

In my earlier message also I forgot to say "hi!".


KRandle said...

Part One

>>Project Mogul was not secret.

>Just in general Kevin, I don't >think you shoot straight with >this idea. The purpose of Mogul >was secret. It could be operated >in more or less full view because >it possessed a cover story.

>The way you make a pretense of >not understanding this is >unbecoming.

>Mogul did exist. There is no need >to play games. It smacks of >trying to create a diversion.

For years I have heard that the reason for the cover up was to protect Mogul. It was so secret that not even those working on the project knew the name. The point is that the ultimate purpose, to spy on the Soviets was secret, but not the project itself. The balloons were not secret, the rawin radar targets were not secret. That they were in New Mexico flying balloon arrays was not secret. They told the officers at Roswell what they were doing. They were required to file NOTAMS about their launches. Pictures of their balloons, radar targets, and arrays appeared in the newspapers. Mogul was not secret... I am shooting straight here.

>>Albert Crary knew the name Mogul >>in 1946.

>As above, this is not the full >story and may well not even be >important.

What do you mean this is not the full story? Crary knew the name and used it in his unclassified diary. Moore knew the name, but obviously forgot it... But he said that the project was so secret they didn’t know the name. Clearly untrue.

>>The Air Force lied about the >>recovery in New Mexico claiming >>it was a weather balloon.

>I may be missing the logic of >this claim especially considering >your earlier claim of what the >material was. Are you complaining >that the target wasn't properly >represented?

The Air Force admitted they lied about what was recovered in 1947. They said they lied about it being a weather balloon... but it was... a weather balloon.

>>The material in Ramey's office >>was a single balloon and the >>remains of a single rawin target.

>No, the material shown in the >pictures was this. There is >evidence that there was more of >the same stuff, just not in the pictures.

What evidence? Aged memories you are quick to reject?

>>I could go on... Kirton told the >>FBI of the solution before >>Newton could get to Ramey's >>office...

>Wholly unimportant. Very likely >folks at Roswell knew the stuff >was prosaic even before it was >shipped (and phones did exist, >no?).

There is no evidence that those in Roswell suspected a balloon until told that Ramey had identified it hours after the material was sent to Fort Worth.

Not only phones, but teletypes, radios and airborne classified couriers.

>>The point is that Mogul doesn't >>not cover the facts. It is just >>a single explanation offered >>decades later.

KRandle said...

Part Two

>It covers all the facts that >don't depend upon the aging >memories that have swirled and >drifted into various patterns >true and false.

Quick to reject the facts that you don’t like by labeling them aging memories... but the truth is, there are facts that are back up by documentation created at the time.

The one fact that Mogul doesn’t cover is the Herculean effort to cover it up. No one cared about a bunch of college people flying balloons in New Mexico. It should have been identified as a balloon immediately by everyone who saw the debris... unless it was something else.

There was nothing of intelligence value in the story of the balloon launches, as proved by the quick trotting out of the balloons and arrays. This was a scientific experiment to produce a constant level balloon that might have been seen as an outgrowth of the Japanese attempts at using balloons to bomb the US during the war. Another fact that had been well established by the end of the war.

Not to mention that everyone I talked to about this balloon idea said that what they saw was not parts of a balloon... Yes, I know that what was in Ramey’s office was a balloon. Even Jesse Marcel, Sr. when shown the pictures of the balloon in Ramey’s office said, “That’s a weather balloon. That’s not what I found.”

But all this leads us away from the original purpose of the post, which was that Dr. Tyson shouldn’t reject the idea of alien visitation because the government can’t keep secrets. I believe it can, when it truly needs to.

And, “Hi,” back at you Lance.

Terry's Bazaar said...

The GAO report on Roswell contains a wealth of information. Missing are the Roswell administrative documents and teletype messages (search on messages). See:

This is perhaps a fluke; however, the ''ghost rocket'' exchange between the Pentagon and various military attache offices in Europe are available. Some of these were classified and had special handling caveats.