Saturday, October 01, 2011

Where Have the UFOs Gone?

The late Karl Pflock and I used to talk about why there were no more really good UFO sightings. We weren’t getting the kind of reports that had been so prevalent at the beginning of the modern era. Nothing as robust or as interesting as those over Washington, D.C., or at Levelland, Texas. In today’s world, it seem as if the UFOs stayed up in the air, usually away from the witnesses, and did nothing other than cross the sky in a straight line. 
Karl Pflock (right) and me.


We can point to all sorts of interesting sightings in the past, some of which had mundane answers and some of which are still puzzling today. There was, of course, the Arnold sighting. He believed he saw a number of objects that he timed as traveling at 1800 miles an hour, or much faster than anything flying at the time, other than rockets and missiles, and they didn’t fly in formation.

There is a possibility that another man, Fred Johnson, saw the same objects about the time that Arnold lost sight of them. He reported that his compass spun wildly while the objects were overhead, but when they disappeared, the compass settled down. You can argue, and I’m sure some will, that the Johnson sighting isn’t related to that of Arnold, or that it is a hoax based on the Arnold sighting, or if related, doesn’t really add much to our overall knowledge.
 
But the point is that there are two sightings that seem to go together to create a nice little anomaly. Arnold might have been fooled. Johnson might have been inventing the tale. Or maybe they both witnessed something unusual that provided interesting descriptions and even one of the first cases with electro-magnetic effects.
 
Or take the Washington Nationals from late July 1952. Here was a series of sightings spread over two Saturday nights in which airline pilots, jet interceptor pilots, people on the ground, and radar operators reported strange lights and strange blips over Washington, D.C.
 
I talked to both Al Chop and Major Dewey Fournet, both associated with the official UFO investigation in 1952, and who had been in the radar room on that second Saturday. They told me there had been one intercept that had gotten “hairy,” meaning dangerous. According to them, and they were watching in the radar rooms at Washington National and listening to the interceptor pilots talking to one another, as they Air Force attempted to catch the UFOs the interceptor pilot found himself surrounded by the lights. It was all tracked on radar. What the pilot, William Patterson said over the radio, the men in the radar center could see on the scope. Patterson decided to break off the intercept at that point.
 
It doesn’t matter here if you believe that Patterson intercepted and the radar showed alien craft. What matters here is the nature of the sighting, meaning it was robust. There were those in radar centers who watched it all on the scopes, there were the pilots seeing the objects where the radar said they were. The sightings lasted for hours, though not continuously, and there were many witnesses.
 
True, the Air Force eventually wrote the sightings off as temperature inversions, and it does seem that temperature inversion was responsible for some of the radar returns, but that doesn’t explain the lights in the sky and it doesn’t square with what the controllers, who saw the blips, said. They told investigators that they were familiar with the way weather phenomena were displayed on the radar scopes and these blips didn’t look like that.
 
In today’s world, we get nothing as interesting. Nothing with multiple chains of evidence, with literally dozens of witnesses. We have one or two people seeing a light, or we get a cell phone video that doesn’t do much to increase our knowledge. Just some image that could be almost anything but that has fooled the person who recorded it.
 
Karl and I tried to figure this out. I suppose you could say that people today don’t have the imagination of those fifty years ago. I suppose you could say that people today are more familiar with what is in the sky around them. I suppose you could say that we are all more in tune with our environment.

Or maybe you could say that the aliens, from wherever they came, have now gone home to study the data they collected. Think of it as our exploration of the moon. In 1969, and for the next couple of years, if you were living on the moon, you would have had lots of UFO sightings, including landings. But, since 1972, there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity. We gathered our samples and went home.

Oh, sure, the analogy breaks down when you say, “But we left physical evidence behind to prove we were there... and it was only the landings of astronauts that have ended. Other moon missions have been lost.”
 
But then I say, “Yeah, but the robust sightings have ended.”

Yes, there have been some interesting sightings. There are those from Bentwaters and, of course Belgium, but these are the exceptions. The older sightings have more witnesses, more data, more evidence than those of today, with rare exception.
 
Karl and I never really came to a conclusion about this, other than collecting more sighting reports wouldn’t expand our knowledge much. We never really found a satisfactory answer for the change. We agreed that older cases were more interesting than newer case but we didn’t really know why.
 
Oh, Karl believed that the Hills had been abducted, but I disagreed. I believed the answer would be found in the terrestrial. Neither of us thought much of the widespread claims of abduction, though it might have supplied part of the answer. Too many research assets were diverted into abduction research without much in the way of tangible results.
 
I suppose I could say the same thing about crop circles. These had once been called UFO landing sites, or UFO nests, but evolved into crop circles, which were another subset of the UFO phenomenon.
 
And I know the number of sightings has increased recently, but these are sightings, often with pictures that don’t add much to the case. Sometimes it’s clear that the pictures are lens flares, clouds, or other natural phenomena, and some times the cases are simple hoaxes.

The point, again, is that the sightings aren’t nearly as exciting as they were forty or fifty years ago, and I have no explanation for that. Maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective.

53 comments:

Frank Stalter said...

I think the Chicago O'Hare case is good. Stephenville. Those are within the last five years. Looking back from today, you see a large pile of great cases but the time between many of them is significant and many of those cases-Lubbock Lights, Mantell, Maury Island from the late 40s, as an example-are still famous but almost certainly aren't ET.

Of course we don't know what the military is sitting on regarding contemporary incidents.

Sourcerer said...

"Karl and I tried to figure this out."

"Too many research assets were diverted into abduction research without much in the way of tangible results.

I suppose I could say the same thing about crop circles."

Suppose someone has a good sighting...daylight...20-30 seconds...close enough to note some detail. Who should they tell?

There is no Project Blue Book.

Ufology has for too many decades been at the mercy of people whose beliefs are indistinguishable from paranoid schizophrenic ideation. The occultists (these days known as paranormalists, I guess), abductionists, New Agers.

Normally enabled people tend to cross to the other side of the street when they see them coming. They don't want to know them.

How many publicly known people are there in ufology today who are capable of even talking with a modicum of discretion and intelligence, to just average everyday people? or are there only fantasists telling each other spook stories. And the con artists and liars.

The public face of the 'ufo community' is not a pretty thing.

Regards,

Don

Bob Koford said...

I agree with Don, a little bit.

I think that it would be tough to try to compare todays world with that of yesterday. It is so radically different.

The climate is so hostile toward honest assessment today, how could one report something honestly in this environment when they know ahead of time that they will be reked across the proverbial coals?

Lance said...

Perhaps the homogenization of the myth has taken so much of the novelty away that new cases have no power to inspire.

This cultural homogenization began immediately with Arnold's sighting as his bat wing craft morphed into saucers due to a reporter's misunderstood description.

When exciting early cases added elements to the myth, these ideas dissolved into the mixture. Motion pictures and pop culture further diluted things.

In its current state, there is almost nothing left that hasn't already been done to death and the saucer mythology can't seem to keep up with the times:

When we hear that a saucer hung over O'Hare for a half hour but then learn that somehow there are not hundreds of photos the thing (indeed not even one compelling one!) we see the emptiness of the claims laid bare...cool story bro, maybe next time snap a pic?

The O'Hare event shows how cases have probably always depended upon hyperbole to exist: witness exaggeration, investigator bias, stupidity and a sense of wonder all play their roles. But in that case (one of the last big ones) which stands so completely outside of how we know the real world works (where virtually every person at that airport was likely carrying a camera), the story disconnects and reveals itself as lie.

The wonder and awe of the early UFO cases will never be repeated. Not because new cases stopped showing up but because people get tired of hearing the same story over and over.

Lance

cda said...

You could say "familiarity breeds contempt".

Who nowadays is interested in a oddly behaving night light?

Sightings that merely replicate earlier ones of the 50s and 60s are more or less worthless. True, the younger generation will regard them as new and exciting, but the oldies will not, and science in general will not.

What is needed is totally new evidence, such as real hardware or bodies or plenty of good detailed photos that stand up to extensive examination. None of these exists at present.

Pure sightings are useless, as are radar returns (where have all the radar-visual sightings gone anyway?).

Meteorites were eventually scientifically established only when actual hardware was produced, and even then it took a long time to get acceptance.

KRandle said...

Frank -

I would disagree about O'Hare because it hasn't produced much of interest... Stephenville might fit.

I would disagree about the Lubbock Lights (and do so realizing that this will open a new door). The plover do not fly in formation and of the birds that do, none (except for a duck with a dark breast, the Glossy Iris)are not seen in the Lubbock area at that time of year.

Ruppelt's explanation (fireflies) does not work...

The photographs have not been explained and when I talked to Carl Hart, Jr. (he was then in his 60s) he said he still didn't know what he had photographed.

All -

There are all sorts of reporting mechanisms today... MUFON among them. The news media, while often making jokes about little green men (hereafter LGM) do express an interest in sightings. I'm not sure the environment is all that hostile.

Lance -

You might have gotten it right. We've seen it all before and until, or unless, there is additional information or evidence, it is just another flying saucer story.

As CDA noted, we're merely replicating the sightings of the past with nothing spectacular to show for it...

BTW, and although I hate to bring it up, but stealth technology has shown that you can built a physical craft that has a nearly nonexistant radar cross section.

Sourcerer said...

Mufon? Going by their website, they present their ideology upfront with a nice image of a flying saucer in the sky. So, they are into aliens and spaceships. Suppose the witness is not? What characterization of their sighting is implied in "Report UFO"?

I love their report form. Must be six screens worth of fields, including required personal contact information.

Links to Fate Magazine, and Open -all aliens all the time- Minds

Open Minds? They've got a flying saucer graphic, too. Their "Report a Sighting" is more neutral sounding than Mufon's "Report UFO", but click on it and you'll find yourself staring into the eyes of a grey.

Nuforc? Their report form has a check field: "This is a possible UFO abduction case" under Characteristics of Object. ??

Also, there have a link to Jeff Rense. Nuff said and I'm outta there.

Why not just report a sighting to someone who is channeling a Pleiadian starship commander?

Next time you are at a social event (but not one with ufo-wonks) ask around and see how many people have heard of Mufon or Nuforc.

Sure, there are places to report a sighting. There just aren't any good ones. What we have represent alien (ET or not) cults.

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

Don's comments resonate strongly!

Lance

KRandle said...

Don -

My point there was that there were arenas for reporting UFOs. What people know at parties (or outside the parties for that matter) is irrelevant because, if I saw a UFO, I would look to the Internet to find out where to report it. You might not like those sites, I might not like them, but they are simple to find...

But in reality, I was suggesting that there isn't a hostile environment out there. If you feel compelled to report your UFO, you can find a sympathetic ear.

As for Blue Book... if you want to find a hostile environment, simply look at some of the last cases they investigated or read Quintanilla's book on the subject.

And I wasn't promoting a specific place to report sightings, only that they existed.

Frank Stalter said...

Hi Kevin-

On CHI O'Hare-I'd give it some time. Some things may still come out down the road.

Sourcerer said...

"This cultural homogenization began immediately with Arnold's sighting as his bat wing craft morphed into saucers due to a reporter's misunderstood description."

Well, in your chronological sequence, this is not quite accurate. Arnod didn't describe anything as being a "bat-wing". His objects, as he drew them, were nearly full discs with a bit of scalloping of the trailing edge. Arnold is reported as describing it as "somewhat bat shaped", but -- initiating tradition -- no follow-up questions were reported (such as "How so?" or "What do you mean?").

Arnold had a pretty good look, as did a few others, but most sightings were of short duration. Something that is nearly a complete disc may be described as a disc in the short time of a sighting. Time and conditions matter. It is not as if everyone were describing the same flip card presented to them for a second or two.

I don't recall Arnold referring to any canopy or cockpit, though. Rhodes said about his object "there seemed to a bubble on top and bottom", Smith described the object as smooth, but with "roughness" on the top. Two women lawyers reported a disc with a topside that looked "faceted". Bubble, roughness, faceted. Those details may refer to the same or similar thing, as seen from different perspectives, duration of sighting, etc, rather than any "morphing" due to the press reports influencing the descriptions (which seems extremely unlikely in these four instances from 1947).

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

Don should certainly be aware of Arnold's initial descriptions.

For instance:

"something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in the rear"

There is also the crescent shaped one he also claimed to have seen.

His drawing from a few weeks later is certainly NOT of a classic saucer and it is NOT round unless you tease that word to mean something different that the common meaning.

The public however only heard the word "saucer" and thereafter UFO's obligingly began to predominately correspond to that shape. Arnold's actual shape was forgotten and ignored.

This embarrassing fact is often glossed over by UFO enthusiasts. I can see why since it speaks to the likely human source of the whole myth.


Lance

Sourcerer said...

Kevin, what would be the reason for reporting a sighting to one of those sites?

During WWII, the cold war, and today, there are very good reasons for reporting odd craft in the sky (now, we may have to watch for model airplanes) to the military and the government.

But I cannot think of one good reason to file a report with any of the ones I mentioned.

My original point was their public image does not encourage people to report sightings to those organizations requesting them, and that's why there are less interesting cases these days than in the past. The meat in the old cases come from 'project saucer'.

Of the old interesting sightings you and Karl discussed, strip out the military and their contractors, and who are left? "ordinary" people, farmers, sheriffs, housewives, policemen, white and blue collar workers. Maybe ET saucers, greys, Jeff Rense, and abductions are really appealing to them such that they want to associate themselves, but I doubt it.

So, those sites are designed for the choir by the choir. Their text and graphics are designed to promote their belief systems, not assist people who have had a sighting.

My other point is, just because the reports are not very good or interesting these days, doesn't mean such sightings are not occurring. Perhaps it means they aren't being reported because there is no credible place to report them, just cult sites.

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Lance, I recommend reading up on 'use-mention'. In whatever instances you might be referring to, is 'saucer' used to describe a shape or is it a reference to whatever subject is being referred to as 'saucers'?

Brad Sparks made a good point some years back about the habit of referring to sightings as UFO sightings when the witness never used the term. They did not report a UFO, but a light or an object they could not identify. Newspapers back in 1947 reported lots of saucer sightings without any regard as to whether or not the person making the report used the term.

This happens a lot in the press and other media.

For example, a 1964 headline in the Spokane Daily Chronicle: Flying Saucer Is Reported. The story is the Zamora Socorro sighting. Do you recall Zamora saying he saw a flying saucer?

The headline is a 'mention', a reference to a subject, not a description of a shape.

Also, pay attention to what is a quotation and what is a paraphrase by an interviewer, or just something a reporter made up.

Regards,

Don

Frank Stalter said...

Zamora on what he saw: "It looks like a balloon."

http://www.ufocasebook.com/Zamorareport.html

Lance said...

Hi Don,

Since the major theme of my comments above is related to a reporter"s mistaken terminology, it seems likely that I MIGHT be familiar with the idea that this stuff gets driven by the media. That was sort of my entire point!

Still, even considering this, I believe that when the description goes beyond a light in the sky, that the predominant object is a saucer. And I mean a real saucer not the Arnold objects.

I better also mention that I am referring to the first few decades of UFO reports. As I suggest in my earlier post, everything got mixed together over time which may explain the brief flaps that later included triangles, etc.

Now that I think about it, maybe each subsequent flap or trend became interesting to the public solely because of some novelty that distinguished it from the tiresome saucer reports.

Here's a rundown off the top of my head:

1. Things in the sky (Arnold, Chilles Whited)
2. Possibly dangerous things that the government can't control (1952 Washington, Mantell)
3. Friendly Space brothers (Contactees) mid 1950s
4. Kidnappers (Hills) 1960
5. ??? WEIRD (Pascagoula) 1970s
6 Triangles
7. YouTube videos

I think I can support that in each of these novelties, that the public interest waned quicker and quicker.

Lance

Sourcerer said...

Lance,

One big issue I have with skeptics is their resort to psychosocial pseudoscience, so I'm continuing this tangent.

Why are you ignoring the AAF in 1947? Its term was 'flying disc', something far more specific and obvious for a shape than 'saucer'. They included both Arnold's and Rhodes' objects in the "disc" description, even though they were not perfectly circular like a discus. Until Roswell, Rhodes, and Smith, the press used 'disc' far more often than 'saucer'.

Skeptics ignore use/mention in their rhetoric on this. I realize you guys are used to debating ET advocates over Roswell, but you'll have to do better with me. You are gonna have to jump the rails you're on.

If all you are saying is that the press propagated the phrase 'flying saucer', we have no argument. But if you mean people began reporting perfectly round discs because the media referred to 'saucers' and the sighters read or heard the term, you will have to prove it to me.

And anyway wouldn't it be more likely that the more often used 'disc', backed by the authority of the AAF might have had the honor (if there is anything to honor) of making people think the ufos were circular?

So, where would that leave your ramblings on Arnold's 'saucer'?

The appearance of 'flying saucer' in the press already indicates the language has moved on from literal descriptions of form to a 'term of art' (see the Socorro headline above). The USAF promoted UFO because they were literal-minded and knew 'disc' and 'saucer' did not convey the numerous forms being reported.

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

The saucer meme took over almost immediately.
You do realize that Roswell was AFTER Arnold. By that time saucers were established. That is how quick these kinds of things happen.

Once again I struggle to find the logic in you argument since you seem to not understand the chronology of the events.

I won't resort to calling your posts, ramblings just yet.

Lanceq

Lance said...

I want to also mention that Don does make some good points in his messages above.

Rereading his last post I wonder if he thinks I mean that the actual word "saucer" was predominate? I don't.

Saucer or Disc are interchangeable to me. The point is that the public accounts dutifully became about flying circular craft after the saucer meme took hold.

Was the press responsible for reporting everything in the sky as a saucer even when the shape wasn't even recorded? Sure.

But I believe that a survey of actual reported shapes of this early period (47-70) showed a marked preference for the saucer shape, too.

Lance

Sourcerer said...

"You do realize that Roswell was AFTER Arnold. By that time saucers were established. That is how quick these kinds of things happen."

I know the chronology. What I wrote was that 'saucer' was not as common a term as 'disc' used by the press until after Roswell/Rhodes/Smith. The AAF was authoritative for newspaper editors on the phenomenon.

Actually, if you browse the catalogs made of the '47 sightings, 'disc' will be at the top of the list of descriptors, while 'saucer' will be down towards the bottom.

The problem with the catalogs is that they don't specify who used the term. The newspaper (editorial decision)? The reporter? The sighter? The AF?

How does one interpret "circular", "flat", "kite" (diamond?), "oval", "blimp", "football"?

A good catalog would weigh the source, the length of the observation, and relative size of the object. Hoaxes and made-up news stories have to be identified.

I don't see anything but grief coming from analysing incomplete data, unless there is a solid spec establishing the dataset's statistical value.

Just a cursory review shows that 'saucer' was not often a term used by sighters in 1947. 'Disc' was most common.

Bloecher notes certain shapes in 1947 reports. You can download a copy on the NICAP site, I believe (if you don't have it).

The source for the later popular saucer shape seems to originate with The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) which gave us the domed saucer, with the popular contactee variant appearing a year or so later -- in fact, the film is the contactee story, pretty much.

So, I would suspect any reports of domed saucers, or the contactee cupola (dome on a cylinder on a disc) variant, as not being...um...kosher.

So, we may not be referring to the same things, Lance. We may agree about some things with a few clarifications.

What does one do with a description like "circular disc"? It seems redundant until you realize 'disc' means 'UFO', but the term didn't exist in 1947. Same with 'Martian'-- the term 'ET' didn't exist then.

Regards,

Don

purrlgurrl said...

Maybe it's because the old sightings are perceived as the beginning of a new phenomenon. So they are the archetypes.

Maybe it's because we've been hoaxed (either intentionally or by misidentification) so many times, we've become jaded to all contemporary reports.

Maybe the old sightings are taking on the mythic patina of The Holy Grail as a now significant amount of time has passed since they occurred.

Maybe it's because Ufology has become such a contentious side show that most people making reports are hoaxers or those looking for a moment of Internet glory. The serious witnesses are for the most part self-selecting themselves out of the lunacy.

Maybe it's because at that time the government at least appeared to be taking reports seriously so they seem to have more weight than they actually had.

Maybe it's just nostalgia.

Lance said...

Don,

When you say "just a cursory review", what does that mean?

I took a quick look myself and found plenty of Flying Saucer mentions (including the famous headline for Roswell). I certainly see nothing that convinces me that disc was the preferred term.

Have you actually done some counting and if so can you share the results?

Thanks,

Lance

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sourcerer said...

"When you say "just a cursory review", what does that mean?"

I was browsing Sparks' BB Unknowns, Bloecher's Report, and another list which I think came from the Sign Historical Group, cataloging the 1947 sightings. It is a 108 page table, eight entries per page. Column six lists "type or shape". I browsed the first 50 or so pages, and noted about 150 'disc', and 12 'saucer'.

I've got a collection of newspaper stories, as well.

"I took a quick look myself and found plenty of Flying Saucer mentions (including the famous headline for Roswell). I certainly see nothing that convinces me that disc was the preferred term."

Lance, I didn't say there weren't any FS stories. I'm not going to repeat myself, vide et supra.

Have you found any 'flying saucer' headlines for Roswell besides the one in the Daily Record? I can't recall any others. All I have say 'flying disc'.

To the readership: does anyone know of a Roswell witness who confirms Haut was at the RDR and handed in a press release?

"Have you actually done some counting and if so can you share the results?"

As above. It refers to what was reported by sighters, not what the newspaper stories said. I haven't done more than take a "cursory" looksee. It wasn't a significant issue for me, 'disc' or 'saucer' (but the dome or cupola issue may become one).

The only 1947 story I've found that might be a mention of a domed saucer was the Snake River sighting -- object described as looking like a straw hat. If you find any others, please let me know.

Regards,

Don

rutkows said...

Mostly in follow-up to Kevin and Don:

Kevin's question about where have all the interesting sightings gone is quite valid. I've been keeping close track of case reports in Canada for more than two decades now, and I have noticed a decline in quality even in this relatively short term. Furthermore, a graph of "strangeness" shows a slight but steady decline as well. In other words, there is a drop in the number of "interesting" cases over time.

This is more pronounced when you compare historical datasets. I'm going through the 9000+ Canadian reports in the Canadian National Archives now online (but NOT "recently released" through any "Disclosure" since they were always available in hard copy in Ottawa). I'm finding many curious multiple witness cases, close encounters, radar/visuals, pilot witnesses, etc., from about before 1975. After that point, the number of simple LITS (lights in the sky) cases rises dramatically in relation to CEs or the more "Ozlike" reports (to borrow a term from Jenny and John).

(I'll be blogging about some of these more curious historical and generally overlooked cases in the near future.)

As for places to report UFOs, I disagree with Don. If anything, there are many more places to report sightings today, mostly online. Regardless of the bias of the agency or website, witnesses can file reports in a few seconds, and do it anonymously as well, which increases the likelihood of reporting an observed UFO, BTW.

The bigger problem is that websites that solicit UFO reports from blog readers and website readers usually don't have the resources to properly investigate the cases they receive, and simply post witnesses' descriptions (which are often woefully inadequate) for other readers to read. What we get, then, are lists of witnesses' reports without any detailed analyses that could eliminate most IFOs. Further, it perpetuates the myth that the numbers of UFO reports are "way up." In looking at actual UFO report data over the past decades, UFO report numbers have been climbing slowly but steadily, with a few spikes up or down now and then. As for this year, without the MUFON spike that has been widely reported, report numbers internationally seem to have plateaued a few years ago. The NUFORC numbers for last year show that the 2011 numbers are actually lower for August, contradicting the MUFON data. And in Canada, with around 800 cases per year for the past several years, report numbers are even with last year, if not slightly lower. As usual, actual data does not reflect the popular view.

And as for today's UFO groups publicly proclaiming a pro-ETH bias, how is that different from the pro-saucer groups of the 1950s and 1960s?

Lance said...

Hi Don,

Gosh, I feel like we are talking past each other again and I'm not aiming for that.

My contention is that after the Flying Saucer description appeared in the national press, that UFO reports that described the shape of the object were predominately saucer shaped.

This speaks to the psycho-cultural aspect of the mythology from my perspective.

For my purposes "Flying Saucer" and "Flying Disc" are the same thing. It would not surprise me that the military and investigations organizations might prefer the "Disc" term instead of "Saucer" since the latter seems a bit whimsical.

I suspect that newspaper reports and headlines might prefer "Saucer" but I don't know that for sure. Your references of reports don't address this as far as I can tell.

So we may be talking about 2 different things.

I am saying that people reported objects predominately saucer-shaped--if they (or the people taking down their report) called them saucers or discs makes no difference to my contention.

I find it suspicious that Arnold's original shape was essentially abandoned when the saucer (or disc, if you prefer) meme took hold. I realize that saucer apologists pretend that this odd coincidence means nothing and that SAUCERS ARE REAL! Etc.

You asked for other "Saucer" mentions for Roswell. How about this one from the LA Herald?:

http://news.cnet.com/2300-13576_3-6200175-2.html

ARMY FINDS FLYING SAUCER

or this one from Washington:

http://www.newspaperarchive.com/FreePdfViewer.aspx?topic='Flying+Saucer'+Is+Found+in+New+Mexico&img=20681892&terms=Mexico&dpviewdate=07%2f08%2f07&firstvisit=true

FLYING SAUCER IS FOUND IN NEW MEXICO

Sourcerer said...

Lance, thanks for the two Roswell 'saucer' links. I didn't have those.

"My contention is that after the Flying Saucer description appeared in the national press, that UFO reports that described the shape of the object were predominately saucer shaped.

This speaks to the psycho-cultural aspect of the mythology from my perspective."

Since there were no 'flying disc/saucer' reports before Arnold, I'm not sure what the point is, except there were no such reports before Arnold.

However, people and the press did report sightings of unidentifiable things in the sky before Arnold, but there was no 'term of art' for them. That's what occurred in 1947. Yet the sighted objects were often round, circular, balls, spheres, ovoids -- which we might expect as many before and after Arnold were circular-appearing such as balloons and bolides.

So, it is not surprising that people used the terms from that point on, just as they use 'UFO' today.

What should be parsed is whether they were describing a shape or using the 'term of art' despite the shape, assuming they could resolve the shape.

As I said, if all you mean is that the press and the AAF propagated the terms of art, I wouldn't disagree anymore than I'd disagree the USAF propagated the 'UFO' term of art.

Why do "saucer and "disc" descriptions make no difference to you? Are the saucers in your china cabinet discs? Mine aren't. They have a small platform and are shallow bowls, some are scalloped.

It is your decision to see no difference between a disk and a saucer.

Arnold didn't refer to skipping drink coasters. Ever try to slurp up coffee from a coaster?

Memetically, 'saucer' has better odds of propagation than 'disk' (which survived as long as the USAF used it). It is not the shape (or the meaning) that gained traction, but the sound.

The first UFO shape to have memetic potency I think was the dome/cupola on a disk UFO, which became emblematic of a flying saucer. Why? I don't know.

Maybe it was an ET joke, like a place setting of a cup on a saucer.

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...

Don,

You may not see the point but many other folks have. John Keel, for instance recognized the problem and wrote about how UFOs seem to have changed their shape according to the publicity surrounding them.

Your rather pedantic discussion about saucers vs. discs falls apart when one recognizes that EVERYONE (except Don) uses the terms interchangeably when describing UFOs (some of the linked newspaper reports show both terms used for the same sighting/report).

Furthermore, if you are suggesting that the discs mentioned in the 150 sightings list are all reports of featureless flat discs then I will bet you that you are wrong--I would bet that many of them are classic flying saucers just described as "discs" because that how people used the term.

Lance

Lance said...

Yes, a quick look at sightings reports shows me that the "disc" description is interchangeable with saucer.

For instance this description (longer than most) says:

a disc (diameter: 30 meters) with 9-12 portholes and a light on the top

This sounds like a classic saucer, not a featureless disc as Don seems to imply.

A quick look at the military assessment documents shows that they, too, were stupid like me and used both terms interchangeably.

Sometimes it seems like people conspire AGAINST honest communication.

Lance

Sourcerer said...

Lance, I think our communication breakdown is now total.

I strive for accuracy. You can "bet" something is some way all you want. I don't do that. Call it 'pedantic', if you like.

As for "featureless disc", I noted examples (Rhodes, Smith, the two lawyers) of that not being the case. Sometimes there are wings, fins or tails, vents etc.

If by "classic saucer" you mean dome/cupola discs, please present the evidence prior to 1951. The Snake River sighting is the one I know of.

From now on Lance, if you choose to follow-up my comments in a forum, I have to request you quote exactly what I wrote that you are disputing.

Pedantic? Perhaps. But I can't figure out what you are responding to anymore. Otherwise, it is a waste of my time.

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

Same request here.

"If by "classic saucer" you mean dome/cupola discs, please present the evidence prior to 1951. The Snake River sighting is the one I know of."

The report I cite above:

"a disc (diameter: 30 meters) with 9-12 portholes and a light on the top"

Sounds like a classic saucer and is from 1950.

If you are saying that there are no such reports then I am willing to attempt to prove you wrong. If you are just asking for additional report (as in the saucer reports for Roswell which I found almost instantly) then what is the point? Suppose I find them. Then what? Will you still claim that you are correct?

Lance

David Rudiak said...

Although I haven't sat down and compiled the actual statistics, my long-standing impression from reading hundreds of newspapers from the 1947 era is that "flying disc/disk" and "flying saucer" were used with about equal frequency and interchangeably in the public media.

E.g., on my webpage exploring mention of the ETH in June/July 1947 in the newspapers:

www.roswellproof.com/ETH-in-1947.html

...I count 45 instances of "disk", "flying disk", "disk-like", etc., 85 instances of "disc", "flying disc", etc. (thus total of 130 instances of "disc" + "disk") and 130 instances of "saucer", "flying saucer", "saucer-like", etc. So dead even in this small sampling.

On the other hand, my impression is that the military seemed to prefer "flying disc/disk" or describing the shapes as discoid, disc-like etc.

As for the supposed "meme" imposed by the press that the objects were all perfectly round saucers or discs, Ted Bloecher's extensive survey indicates that many other shapes were reported, including, e.g., the half-moon shape reported over Portland by the police or the Rhodes photographed object over Phoenix with the rounded front and seemingly crescent-like back.

Another photo case over Tulsa had the photographer, Enlo Gilmore, saying they were NOT round, but appeared somewhat oval-shaped, comparing the shape to that of a catcher's mitt or flying wing (on closer inspection of enlargements of his photo). Apparently the perfectly round saucer meme didn't catch on here either.

I have another report from Arkansas of an object like the crescent moon, just like one of Arnold's objects, even though Arnold himself had never mentioned this, and didn't bring it up for several more weeks.

I've never put much stock in the skeptical psycho-social mumbo-jumbo that people see only what the popular press tells them to see. There is no evidence at all for this. If anything, the data says otherwise. People described all sorts of shapes flying around, including back in 1947, even if the most common were typically disc-like or roundish or oval. It's like saying people are incapable of distinguishing a helicopter or blimp from a jet liner because the press has popularized aircraft as having long tubular bodies and wings and most things flying around are indeed so shaped.

Apparently "domes" were also being reported, e.g. as noted in Gen. Schulgen's Oct. 1947 memo, commonly reported shapes were, "A plan form approximating that of an oval or disc with a dome shape on the top surface." William Rhodes in Phoenix, e.g., thought that the light area in his photos was some sort of dome. Bloecher mentions a few others in his survey, including one magnified sighting through a theodolite, but they don't seem a particularly common reported feature.

Sourcerer said...

Lance: "Suppose I find them. Then what? Will you still claim that you are correct?"

Correct about what? I'm not saying there aren't any, only that I've found one, and no others.

Perhaps, I need to add my usual disclaimer: I haven't read everything.

It doesn't matter to me if there are lots of domed saucers described prior to 1951 or not. I have no agenda, certainly nothing regarding ET. I'm looking for information, is all. You appear to know there are such reports. So, I ask. If I know of the reports, I could avoid saying something damn stupid like there aren't any. So, in my pedantic way I say I know of only one. If they are rare and not quite on-point (such as the "straw hat"), it points towards the popular classic shape as being a new form found first in the 1950s and possibly 'psychosocially' due to the influence of Hollywood.

"a disc (diameter: 30 meters) with 9-12 portholes and a light on the top"

Why do you assume this describes a dome or cupola? Sighters mention features on the discs. But unlike a fin or vent, a classic-sized dome or cupola is a major feature. I'd expect it would be noted by at least some sighters back then.

Did you assume that, after Arnold, the reported saucers were all the classic variety?

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

David: "Apparently "domes" were also being reported, e.g. as noted in Gen. Schulgen's Oct. 1947 memo, commonly reported shapes were, "A plan form approximating that of an oval or disc with a dome shape on the top surface."

Thanks, David.

Rhodes description was that there was something that seemed like bubble on top and underneath. I wonder, too, about the descriptions of "rough" or "faceted" topsides, too.


Regards,

Don

Lance said...

Dr. Rudiak and Don both use this tactic:

Don:
"Did you assume that, after Arnold, the reported saucers were all the classic variety?"

Dr. Rudiak:
"As for the supposed "meme" imposed by the press that the objects were all perfectly round saucers or discs"

No, when I said:

"My contention is that after the Flying Saucer description appeared in the national press, that UFO reports that described the shape of the object were predominately saucer shaped."

I did not mean "all" when I used the word "predominately".

I see this as a stark willingness to NOT communicate.

So Don, following Dr. Rudiak's data on the use of the words "disc" and "saucer" being used interchangeably, do you now accept this contention?

Lance

Sourcerer said...

Unfortunately, the Schulgen memo doesn't list the sightings for the "dome"

There is a second mention in the memo:

"Special provisions such as retractable domes to provide unusual observation for the pilot or crew members."

Whatever sightings are being referred to, the AF is imagining an advanced aircraft (as did Arnold and Rhodes), as we should expect. That's what they were looking for. I'm sure these AF pilots wanted to fly one. 8-)

I'll be reviewing the catalogs mentioned before for the domes. My guess is what I will find will be more like a canopy or cockpit, rather than the 'Hollywood' dome or contactee cupola. But you never know.

The sightings might be among those in the Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the U.S. from 12/1948. I'll start with those.

Regards,

Don

Sourcerer said...

Lance wrote:
"Don: Did you assume that, after Arnold, the reported saucers were all the classic variety?"

"I did not mean "all" when I used the word "predominately"."

"My contention is that after the Flying Saucer description appeared in the national press, that UFO reports that described the shape of the object were predominately saucer shaped."

I meant not all shapes, but the saucer shapes. This is a confusion of use-mention. I think.

Of, the "predominately saucer shaped." did you assume they were all the classic domed saucer, is what I meant when I referred to "reported saucers"

"So Don, following Dr. Rudiak's data on the use of the words "disc" and "saucer" being used interchangeably, do you now accept this contention?"

I still don't know where you got the idea I thought they were not interchangeably used.


"Dr. Rudiak and Don both use this tactic..."

"I see this as a stark willingness to NOT communicate."

And I see an antique debate thrust and parry.

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

"I still don't know where you got the idea I thought they were not interchangeably used."

Because of this:

"Why do "saucer and "disc" descriptions make no difference to you? Are the saucers in your china cabinet discs? Mine aren't. They have a small platform and are shallow bowls, some are scalloped. "

If you know/knew that the terms were interchangeable, why would you wonder why I didn't care what description was used? I didn't care because they mean the same thing.

Lance

Sourcerer said...

Lance, you wrote:

"Saucer or Disc are interchangeable to me. The point is that the public accounts dutifully became about flying circular craft after the saucer meme took hold."

"interchaneable to me" and 'interchangeable in the press' are not quite the same thing.

My comment referred to that. They were both used by the press for various reasons, but as shapes they are not interchangeable. Your "contention" is that the phrase "flying saucer" instantiated the descriptions of discs and disc-like UFOs, 'psychosocially'.

I was pointing out that the descriptions of the flat, coin shaped 'saucers' does not immediately and naturally call up the image of a saucer, nor vice versa. It is your choice to only focus on the (mostly) circular shape of a (china cabinet) saucer, and ignore the others.

All discs are circular, but not all saucers (in the china cabinet), though most are. Saucers are not flat nor coin shaped. They are shallow bowls on a short platform. If "flying saucer" was so memetic as a **shape**, then I would expect the predominant shape reported to be a shallow bowl on a short platform, not a coin or disc.

That's all.

Regards,

Don

Lance said...

Don,

I guess we just don't understand each other and perhaps it is my fault. I have no idea what you are talking about.

I don't see how your above discourse invalidates my point.

Arnold's oddly shaped craft were forgotten and discs/saucers took over.

I think I know the reason for this. And I have tried to present arguments as to why.

Lance

Frank Stalter said...

I think it's important to note that a classic disc shaped object could easily appear to be a number of other classic UFO shapes: cigar, football, sphere, depending on the angle the observer is relative to the vehicle.

Sourcerer said...

"I guess we just don't understand each other and perhaps it is my fault. I have no idea what you are talking about."

Ok. What I think is that the preference for 'flying saucer' was not due to the decisions of publishers and big city editors, or the AAF, but of just folks, including many newsmen.

That it 'caught on' -- went viral...was memetic -- had nothing to do with shape. For that 'disc', the choice of the decision-makers, worked and was more accurate. Except for them, people adopted 'saucer', not 'disc' -- this had nothing much to do with shapes reported in sightings. You want 'psychosocial' and 'memetic', then you need to take in the whole culture and the popular use of language in it.

There is also the issue of timeframe, whether in 1947, considering the dispersion of the sightings, and the locations, whether any meme could have propagated so quickly and thoroughly in a few days. If we knew more about what was broadcast on the radio, that issue could be resolved.

Even twelve years after the USAF propagated 'UFO', that Socorro headline I quoted above, still used "flying saucer", and the term will be used today in preference to 'flying disc' to refer to a particular kind of UFO sighting. It is a damn potent meme.

Obviously, I don't regard the issue of "shape" to be significant, and you do. Therefore, you are right, we don't understand each other.

Regards,

Don

Daniel said...

Dear Mr. Randle,
I thorougly enjoyed your Exploration Chronicles series. Is there any chance of getting more books in that series?

Thanks,
Daniel

Bob Koford said...

I still don't seem to agree with you. From my own experience with sightings and people who reported sightings to me, I know that many do not want to publicly state they saw anything. Yes there are discreet ways to file a report, but many do not trust that what they say is truly confidential.

Others see the predominant occultism surrounding the subjetc, and also might hear their Pastors tell them its all a devilish plot, so they don't know what to think, or who they can really trust. I have seen diffierent types of objects, but only filed two reports over time. Sometimes it is simply over so quickly that you end up forgetting about it for awhile, and then later, when you again begin to think about it, it seems late to report it, so you don't.

And just because you have x number of reports filed, that doesn't necessarily equate with the actual experiences, just the amount you have received. The data might be completely off the actual mark. To say it proves that they have dropped off isn't necessarily true, only that reports filed, or actually reported have.

And sometimes extreme skepticism can seem very hostile.

starman said...

I don't think recent reports are less robust. Last year there was a report of a UFO which lifted a car with two teens and dropped it, causing damage, and marks on asphalt. Sounds like something that could compete with Socorro or Walton for publicity, but it's been forgotten, it seems.

cda said...

Starman:
I do not know of the case but suspect that the reason it was forgotten is that there was a lot less to it than at first seemed.

There was a case like this in Australia some years ago. What became of it? Probably nothing - because in the end it was either imaginary or a gross exaggeration.

Marks on the asphalt mean zilch as evidence for a UFO being the cause.

David Rudiak said...

Certainly the UFOs haven't gone home to Zeta Reticuli. There are still a zillion UFO reports, probably the usual 80-90% being misidentifications and a few percent hoaxes.

However, unlike the earlier days, in the U.S. there is almost a complete news blackout in the mainstream media. Would we even hear of Socorro or Travis Walton today? The Phoenix Lights was a mass sighting less than 15 years ago. How much reporting was there of that? Hardly anything. Even Chicago O'Hare would have been overlooked if it hadn't been for the Chicago Tribune picking up on the story.

Another element is no official government body collecting UFO reports. Blue Book may have been crap in most of its investigation, but we did at least learn of many military, commercial pilot, radar, and intercept cases through it and there was a stamp of official approval on them being genuine cases. Today it is almost impossible to get confirmation of radar contact or intercept from either the military or FAA. Commercial pilots might report unofficially and anonymously to NARCAP, but that's about it.

During the big news conference of July 1952 in Washington, Generals Samford and Ramey acknowledged 300 cases of radar contact and intercept attempts. That's at least one a week. At that rate, there should have been at least another 3000 similar cases in the last 60 years just here in the U.S.

I don't for microsecond believe that the military or FAA no longer picks up unknowns on radar and the Air Force refuses to investigate unidentified aircraft in our skies. What the heck are we spending a godzillion dollars a year on national defense for if the Air Force won't send up a jet interceptor to see what's poking around in our air space where it shouldn't be?

Sourcerer said...

Some comments indicate that I wrote there is no place to report a sighting. I wrote there is no good place to do so. "Good" meaning at least no images of greys and alien saucers, no assumptions about UFOs put forward. We are used to debating stuff that scares the crap out of a lot of people, or they think is lunatic.

I did find one neutral-appearing site, however there is no information about who these people are. I looked at the whois record, but the names of the owners and contacts are privatized. Anonymity of the organization is a bad idea:

sightingsreport.com

At least they've got a clue. Not a bad looking site. Too bad, though, there is no evidence who they might be.

@ rutkows

"And as for today's UFO groups publicly proclaiming a pro-ETH bias, how is that different from the pro-saucer groups of the 1950s and 1960s?"

Who today fills the shoes of Hynek, McDonald, Keyhoe, the Lorenzens, to name a few -- and, oh yeah, BB?

It doesn't matter if they are 'believers' or not. What matters is discretion, credibility, experience, intelligence and at least a bit of gravitas.

Regards,

Don

KRandle said...

Daniel -

I was originally contracted to write four books in the series, and did so. Deployment to Iraq interrupted the flow and the introduction in The Gate was actually written on a Sunday afternoon in Baghdad.

Bean counters, who care nothing for story, plot, characters, or even reader interest unless it is translated into dollars, have gotten in the way.

So, no, the four books in the series is it... and though publishers all said that they would work with my on my return from Iraq, all then said they were afraid that I would be deployed again, and nothing came of their promises.

Kevin

Jeff Davis said...

This matter is silly, if not utterly disingenuous. Is anyone honestly claiming that there are less credible sightings and reports today than in times past? That's just NUTS. (and not those that accompany the customary bolts either)

Do not blame "burn out" or a lack of of REAL answers to the UFO enigma on today vs. yesterday. That's like an adult stating, "You know, I used to have a heck of a lot more fun (or "bang for my buck", you choose) at my own birthday parties than I am these days. Must be due to the devolving nature of birthday parties."

Not.

Actually, there is an abundance of more clear and concise information related to UFO reports than ever these days. This being due to basic personal technological facilitation developments alone, let alone the very REAL "global science climbs on board the UFO investigation band wagon" movement we have been CLEARLY witnessing for the last 20 years now!

IMO, a slight FAIL here guys, some of you of whom I RESPECT THE HELL OUT OF.

Don't let "perspective" get the better of you concerning this great mystery. We all desperately NEED the type of supercharged investigative intellect that MR. Randle attributes to this cause and it is out of sheer gratitude, for just that effort, that I stand and adamantly rebuke this nonsense.

Don't be swayed by naysayers and whiners. Keep your eye on the prize and stay motivated. Even if that means taking a little much needed "time off".

Jeff Davis

KRandle said...

Jeff Davis said, "This matter is silly, if not utterly disingenuous. Is anyone honestly claiming that there are less credible sightings and reports today than in times past? That's just NUTS. (and not those that accompany the customary bolts either)."

Proving once again that reading comprehension is slipping. I suggested we don't get the number of robust sightings we used to, not that there are no good sightings. Numbers of sightings are up, they're just not as robust as they once were. That is the difference.

ManchesterUTD said...
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