Thursday, July 09, 2015

Kenneth Arnold and the Null Hypothesis

It has become an article of faith among some that the Kenneth Arnold sighting with its misreported description of a flying saucer is the genesis of modern UFO shape. Arnold had said that the objects he saw moved with a “motion like that of saucers skipping across a pond,” which reporters took to mean that Arnold had seen disk-like objects. Skeptics have pointed out this error, suggesting that Arnold had not seen a disk, but crescent-shaped or heel-shaped craft. Others, coming after Arnold, used this error in their descriptions of UFOs because that was what had been so widely reported. Skeptics said, “Arnold didn't see a saucer--but the press reported that he did and thereafter saucers were pretty much the standard shape for UFO's. Denying the implications of this is just part of the reason that UFO belief falls outside scientific (or rational) interest.”

I had suggested a null hypothesis for this. If we found sighting reports in the months that preceded Arnold that would suggest that some were reporting what they had seen without contamination by the press reports of Arnold’s “flying saucers.” The response to that was:

I don't think so. It's a rather common shape and is documented in earlier science fiction.
It's the huge media frenzy and the resulting reports that followed that suggest that the shape followed the press report. We have no reason to think that all of those reports were anything other than at least the standard ~90% (and I suggest more like 100%) bunk that make up all UFO cases. So among those cases, it is strongly suggested that folks had learned that they should see saucers (not the off bat-wing/half plates that Arnold saw). And they dutifully began to "see" them.
Of course nothing social like this is open and shut and completely clear cut. There very well may have been earlier reports of a saucer shape. I don't think that matters.
I think there is plenty reason, particularly under media induced hysteria. I will mention the famous experiments done in the UK that David Clarke revisits in his excellent new book, "How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth" as rather clear evidence of this.
Again, ignoring or trying to feebly minimize this inconvenient truth hasn't served UFO believers well in trying to get folks outside the myth to take interest.
Or, in other words the null hypothesis was rejected because there were other influences that could account for the reported shape of these objects. The suggestion that it was documented earlier in science fiction might be seen as a corollary to the null hypothesis, or that science fiction images influenced the description of the flying saucers rather than the misreporting in 1947. It seems to me that this would nullify the idea that Arnold’s sighting was the driving force here because you couldn’t have it both ways. Either science fiction was responsible or the reports of Arnold’s flying saucers were.

I made a survey of science fiction magazine covers for the 1940s and didn’t find the saucer shape to be there. I was thinking that most people in the 1940s wouldn’t be reading science fiction and any exposure to the concepts would have come from seeing the magazine covers on the newsstands. When spacecraft were represented, they fell into the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon rockets with tail fins. A saucer shape behind the alien spacecraft just wasn’t seen all that often.

The same can be said for the representations in science fiction movies and serials that would have had a wider audience. The few that had a space theme again fell into the rockets seen in Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon arena. When the saucer
The Day the Earth Stood Still.
shape appeared, it was post Arnold and could be said that the flying saucers being reported influenced the look of alien craft in the movies. The 1950 classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the best examples of this.

I would suggest at this point that one of the null hypotheses has failed. Science fiction did not influence the shape of the objects reported in 1947. There were simply too few, if any, examples of saucers as spacecraft in the literature or the movies. If there was an influence, then the reports would have been of rockets rather than saucers.

That leaves the idea that there were saucers or disks reported prior to Arnold. Looking at the literature, there are many examples. Biron Savage said that he had seen a flat, disk-like object in May 1947. That was documented in the press on June 26, 1947.

And that illustrates the problem for many of those earlier sightings. Project Blue Book mentioned a number of pre-Arnold sightings, but it seems they were reported after Arnold. Any reports that had been gathered prior to Arnold disappeared when the official investigation of UFOs began. (And yes, that can be proven. Sightings mentioned in both Project Sign’s and Project Grudge’s final reports mention sightings that are not found in the Blue Book index but indicate they had been gathered.)

I did find other pre-Arnold sightings that mention disks or saucers. On February 28, a formation of disks was reported near Lake Mead. In March 1947 a Los Angeles woman said that she’d seen a disk. Also in March a disk was seen early in the morning in Putnam, Connecticut. On March 30, two women and a young girl saw several silvery disks. On April 11, a woman watched a disk-shaped object for two minutes. On June 2, a circular object was seen in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Well, you get the point. Many sightings but the problem is that the documentation for these all come from sources published after June 24, 1947.

The exception for this might be the Minczewski case from Richmond, Virginia in April. This is one of those sightings that was apparently investigated by the Army prior to the Arnold sighting. There is no record of it in the Blue Book files, but it is mentioned in the Project Grudge final report. That suggests to me that there would have been documentation for it prior to Arnold but the case file was removed from the “regular” files at some point. In all fairness, I must note that I have found no documentation dated prior to Arnold about this sighting. I merely have a suspicion that it does exist if we could access the proper records… which means we haven’t asked the right agency to review their files.

Without being able to document that these sightings were reported prior to Arnold, it can be said that they were contaminated by the press after Arnold. There is no proof of that, but then, without some sort of documentation, that is a possibility and that means the null hypothesis is unconfirmed at this point. Not that it is in error but it is unconfirmed.

There is another factor in all of this. I noticed, as I surveyed the newspapers from that era that flying saucer or flying disk was used to describe objects even when the witness used other words. In an article headlined, “Carpenter Reports ‘Discs’ in Midwest.” The last line in the article said, “He added that he could not describe the shape of the objects since he could not see them clearly.”

In an article that was headlined, “Flying Saucer Story Grows,” it was reported that George Glover, in Bellingham, Washington, said that he had seen several shiny objects that were shaped like kites. In another sighting reported in that article, the object was described as round, like the sun.

In a case that underscored this point, the article, headlined, “AKRON, O., July 5 (AP) — ‘Flying saucers’ made their appearance here Friday night,” when it was reported, “Dr. Forrest Shaver said the silvery disc he saw ‘looked like a balloon with a light inside.’ Larry E. Hoertz described it as ‘a light with a propelling device.’ Both men said they saw the ‘saucers’ about 8:30 P. M. while driving near Akron.” This suggests that the term had become generic, describing any strange thing in the sky regardless of shape.

In the end, we have a theory, that the error made by reporters in the Arnold case drove the shape of the objects seen in its wake. But what a review of the newspaper articles show is that flying saucer and flying disk became the generic term for all unidentified objects including those that were not circular or round. A review of the literature shows that many of the reports were of lights in the sky, bright flashes of light that had no shape behind them, star-like objects, streaks of light and cigar-shaped objects.

What is interesting is the claim that even if it was proven that saucer-shaped craft were seen prior to Arnold, it doesn’t matter. Of course it matters because it nullifies the theory that people saw saucers because that was what was reported by the press after Arnold.

As it stands right now, the null hypothesis is unconfirmed and the theory is unproven. Additional information and documentation can solve this riddle but it will take some in depth research. My survey of newspaper articles wasn’t as extensive as it could have been, but even though limited, I found many examples suggesting shapes other than saucer and articles that mentioned “disk sightings” but the object see was not disk shaped.

This discussion seems to be one that we all could end by simply surveying the newspaper articles from June 24 to July 9 (when the press seemed to mostly stop reporting saucers at the request of the Army and Navy). One of the places to begin would be Ted Bloecher’s Report on the Wave of 1947. We can actually apply some science here and reach an intelligent and proper conclusion.


Loki said...

Kevin Randle:

Your "Null Hypothesis" is very well-reasoned and worth testing.

Whoever said "I don't think so. It's a rather common shape and is documented in earlier science fiction." is muddled at best in their thinking. I don't think that science fiction can legitimately be considered a source of documentation, whatever that means.

Following this flawed approach, one might equally complain that the stereotypical egg-headed "Gray" alien (Hill abduction, even "Roswell Slides") is OBVIOUSLY wrong because it doesn't show up in last summer's scifi blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy", right?

Don Maor said...

Kevin, why are you restricting the search to sightings in the year 1947? Older sightings of disks will also do.

Adam S. said...

Hi Kevin,

Forgive the clich├ęd "long time reader first time poster", but I just wanted to share that this was discussed on Above Top Secret at least once. The following link provides some excellent examples of "saucer shaped" aircraft which appear in pulp comics in the 1920s and 30s:

Also, research into "flying disk" shaped aircraft had occurred at least as early as 1934 with the Nemeth Umbrella Plane:

Just for what it's worth....

Keep up this AMAZING blog site :-)

Lance said...

Gosh it's hard to engage on this one with you, Kevin.

Arnold did not report seeing a saucer. The press reported that Arnold saw a saucer.

Saucers thereafter became the predominate shape "seen" by UFO witnesses.

As I said, this is not clear cut but it is very suggestive that (since we accept ~90% of the reports were actually for sure not seeing a real flying saucer!) the ascendance of the saucer shape was at least partially the work of the media frenzy that came after Arnold's report.

Denying this basic set of facts (which many other writers have seen and commented upon, like Keel) to pretend that saucer reports aren't influenced by the media seems particularly of the UFO school of "science".

But heck, believe what you you want.


Jeanne Ruppert said...

Keyhoe's second book is very informative concerning the percentage of disc-shaped craft observed by military and civilian pilots in 1951-52. In chapter 8, linked below, Keyhoe summarizes some of his discussions with Wilbur Smith related to early theories concerning how these craft operated.

Bloecher's report on the 1947 wave (still being expanded) is essential reading.

ufodebunker said...

The notion of a null hypothesis can be summarily dismissed if at least one UFO observer post Kenneth Arnold used his knowledge of the erroneous report, namely a saucer shape vs what Arnold actually said he saw influenced the observer's description. It's likely that a null hypothesis does not exist. The question is to what degree the Arnold sighting and erroneous reporting of a saucer shape affected subsequent UFO sightings. Most sightings are apparently shapeless lights in the night sky so the saucer description while not accurate is a natural description and appropriate. I fail to see how the null hypothesis whether it exists or not impacts the general public and the scientific communities's assessment of the UFO problem and its plausibility. If the Kenneth Arnold sighting had never been reported I believe the current level of skepticism held by the general public in general and the scientific community in particular would be the same.

ufodebunker said...

Let's define what a saucer shape is.Isn't it nothing more than a globular shape where the poles are flattened to give the impression of a top and bottom. Isn't that what we would expect given that these vehicles are supposedly piloted by intelligent beings and the idea of a top and bottom is expected? Isn't that a most natural way to describe a point source of light in the distance even though the idea of shape is erroneously added to the description when in fact the shape given the distance and viewing conditions is impossible to determine? Hence I don't see any cause for ridicule or incredulity when a witness describes seeing a saucer. What really destroys any sense of credulity are the reports ala Whitley Strieber and the so-called bedroom abductions and its unfortunate association with the UFO problem. It's this association that causes the most harm in the serious investigation of UFOs.

Unknown said...

This case of a landing sighting in Idaho was interesting because the press report uses the term flying saucer despite the witnesses description of eight wash tub shaped objects. The witness statement suggests she was aware of the flying saucer reports but described what she saw as something different. Maybe of interest to only me but she said they descended like "leaves falling to the ground". Something that was used by later witnesses as well. It begs the question, is this something that was copied by in other reports or is it a true description of the motion? Story from 7/07/1947 at the top of this page:

Was this case ever investigated? There were nine other witnesses to the event according to the article. Does it appear in Air Force files?

Lance said...

Ufodebunker makes some good points above.

Just to clarify a bit, some of the collected reviews of UFO reports do seperate (or attempt to seperate) points of lights cases from structured object reports. And saucers predominate (in the latter circa the rough period we are talking about).

Is the saucer shape just a sort of obvious shape for an observer to mistake for whatever they are seeing in the sky! Maybe?


ufodebunker said...

I had two UFO sightings but neither would I describe as saucer shaped. I think the term is popular with the media but by its very nature is misleading. The first sighting I had circa November 1976 in the NJ pine barrens. My car broke down on one of the fire lanes and while pondering what to do we saw an amorphous close ro the ground light in the distance (3/4 mile or so) I asked my friend if we would join me to investigate but he said no and I was afraid to go alone. Eventually the light dissipated. On the 2nd sighting friend and I saw four luminous objects flying in formation from south to north and passing across the rising full moon to the east in Northern NJ. I think it was fighter jets flying in formation but there was no noise and the unexplained luminosity of the objects was puzzling. Might have been a temperature version that reflected the moon's light. We then drove to a diner and had coffee and in discussing it my friend brought up the idea of reporting it to the police. Before the sighting we had a few beers at a local tavern. I quickly dismissed that idea as the police would have smelled the alcohol LOL For eitherxsiting it would not be accurate to describe the objects as saucer shaped.

ufodebunker said...

Bottom line is I do not think the use of the word "saucer" especially by the media casts any dispersions on the UFO phenomena.

Jeanne Ruppert said...

Bloecher, preface: "... it is evident in these newspaper references that among the early sightings certain patterns of UFO appearance and behavior, usually thought of as a later development, were in fact first observed and reported in the summer of 1947."

Also: "One other significant fact points to the magnitude of the 1947 wave: again and
again in news accounts reference is made to the hundreds of calls newspapers received, whereas only a fraction of these reports later appeared in the news accounts."

One of the pre-Arnold sightings reported by Bloecher:

"Unlisted in the official AF files, but no less interesting than the preceding case, is Dr. Colden R. Battey’s sighting in the last week of May. Dr. Battey, a physician in Augusta, Georgia, had been fishing ten miles off St. Helena Sound, near Beaufort, South Carolina. At about eleven o’clock that morning he noticed a formation of four disc-like objects flying overhead in a southeasterly direction at a terrific rate of speed. The discs appeared to be spinning on their axes and were at an estimated altitude of about 20,000 feet. They were silvery and appeared “highly polished,” and on their undersides, Dr. Battey could see a “circular rim, or projection, about one-quarter of the way from the edges.” No sound was heard as they flew overhead. The formation sped out of view in less than twenty seconds. Dr. Battey’s report of the sighting did not appear in print until July 6th, when the Augusta Chronicle gave it prominent front-page coverage. INS sent it out on the wires, where it was picked up by numerous newspapers around the country."

"Of twenty-nine sightings occurring between June 1st and June 23rd two-thirds were made in the west, and nine in the northeast; about half the sightings were of a single object, while the rest describe two or more objects. Thirteen reports involved a single witness.

On June 24th, the day that Arnold saw his formation of nine discs, there was a
sharp increase in the number of UFO sightings, from six on the previous day, to
twenty. Of these reports, all but two occurred in the Pacific Northwest."

Jeanne Ruppert said...

Still quoting Bloecher's preface:

"Published records have referred to a total of forty-nine UFO reports for the period June 1st through June 24th, by more than seventy-five witnesses, two thirds of whom have been fully identified. These figures raise an interesting question: why did none of these seventy-five witnesses report their unusual observations until after
Arnold's story had been published? In a number of those reports, the witnesses tried to account for their initial silence. Richard L. Bitters, editor of the Wapakoneta (Ohio) Daily News, reportedly felt that his sighting of June 23rd was simply not a news story, and did not publish it until two weeks later when he changed his mind at the height of the wave (III-6); on the same night, two other Ohio residents made a similar sighting but delayed reporting it "until others had told of seeing them" (Case 28); E. B. Parks, of Hazel Green, Alabama, felt that the phenomenon he observed about the same time was "so unusual that it was not reported for fear others would disbelieve the account of it" (Case 29). Richard Rankin, who had not attached any
"otherworldly" significance to his sighting of June 23rd (or 14th) at Bakersfield,
California, assumed that he was observing the Navy’s experimental "Flying Flapjack," the XF5U-1, even though "I couldn’t make out the number or location of the propellers, and I couldn’t distinguish any wings or tail" (II-3) so he hesitated to describe what he had seen "until others were reporting the same thing." And so it
went: if the reason for not reporting these earlier sightings at the time they occurred is not exactly stated in every case, it is at least implicitly apparent the
witnesses were afraid to report them because they were so unusual."

Jeff Miller said...

Kevin, as a high school math teacher who teaches statistics, I would like to point out that the term "null hypothesis" has a precise meaning in math that does not really relate to what you have written. I see that one web site says the term can mean "the hypothesis under investigation" but really the accepted definition for this term is the one at Associated with a null hypothesis is an alternative hypothesis, and a statistical test is done to determine whether or not to reject the null hypothesis. You do not actually state what either the null or alternative hypothesis is. So if you ever use this topic in printed form, I hope you will drop the term "null hypothesis." Now having said that, I would like to add that your blog is great and I enjoy it and very much respect your opinions.

ufodebunker said...


I think you misunderstand MR Randle's use of the term null hypothesis. I am an electrical engineer and frequently use statistics to determine the validity of sample data. If you take all the pre Arnold reports where a UFO is described as saucer shaped and compare with all the post Arnold reports where a saucer is described if the percentage of the saucer shaped subset of all UFO reports increases that would suggest that null hypothesis does not exist. Either way in my opinion the current cynicism held by the general public and scientific communities would not change.

Brian B said...

@ ufodebunker

"The Jersey Pine Barrens?" Well must have seen the "Jersey Devil" instead.

But seriously, I've been through there more than once around midnight or after and I must say the place at night, even in daytime, has an odd feel about it.

@ Everyone -

As someone else posted, I also have seen disc and saucer shaped Sci-Fi illustrations dating to the 1920-30's time frames. Cigar shaped craft as well with small objects flying out of them. Seems to me this "saucer" type image was in the minds of some before 1947 including many pre-Arnold sighting reports as Kevin has stated.

While there may indeed be some influencing factors (high probability), just because someone might imagine something that is disc shaped does not necessarily mean that ALL sighting reports were influenced by imagination or subconscious awareness of pre-1940's Sci-Fi artwork.

I would bet some of these witnesses never even read pulp fiction Sci-Fi. Meaning that in some cases it may simply be an odd coincidence that Sci-Fi imaginations matched actual witness reports.

ufodebunker said...


The light we saw in the Pine Barrens was strange so I thought at the time. I was on the fire lane with my car inoperable heading in an easterly direction. There was a field to the south (to the right) I believe. About 3/4 mile to the south there was a treeline so I couldn't make out a shape. It was odd but I couldn't rule out a campfire and atmospheric distortion of the light. Had my friend accompanied me I might have been able to determine what it was. We were also concerned that the light was from criminals conducting a drug sale. With that in mind we thought it seemed prudent to stay put. The sighting was about 10 pm. After it dissipated the temperature started to drop rapidly so we lit a bonfire around 1130 pm on the fire lane to keep warm as we did not have adequate cold weather gear. We sat in front of the bonfire smoking cigarettes until dawn. There was no other incidents for the remainder of the night.

ufodebunker said...


Personally I think for both of my sightings there is a prosaic explanation. However, at the time of the Pine Barrens sighting, the sense of the unusual and strangeness of the encounter was certainly hard to shake. We felt we were witnessing something outside the pale of everyday events for sure!

Brian B said...

@ ufodebunker

Possibly prosaic.....possibly not. Difficult to know. Remains a mystery I guess.

albert said...

You are correct. I believe Kevins 'null hypothesis' is something like this: A greater number of saucer sighting reports post-Arnold is due to the 'media hysteria' of the medias incorrect description of Arnolds sighting as "flying saucers". Comparing the pre-Arnold and post-Arnold numbers of 'saucer' sighting reports might show a possible media influence. (the reverse case could also be used)
Unfortunately, there are so many unknowable factors involved that it's impossible to pin down even a probability. Things are a lot cleaner in the hard sciences. Here we have to deal with psychology:)
It's entirely possible that there were more saucer shapes reported because there were more actual saucers sighted! Yes, media influence is there. Yes, folks 'see' what they want to see. We don't know how witnesses are interrogated. Compare:

What did you see?
Describe what you saw.
Draw a picture of what you saw.
How high was it?
Describe it's location.
Describe the color.
How big was it?
Describe its size compared to your thumb [hand] at arms length.
What sounds did it make?
Describe any sounds you may have heard at the time.
Most of the questions(?) call for a conclusion from the witness. Fine for a reporter (it's a freakin' UFO), lousy for an investigator. The 'describe' directives attempt to filter interpretations. Often witnesses will resist these, when they realize their interpretations don't match what they really saw. The attention of the witness is usually fixed on the object. It's useful to have them describe other aspects of the environment.

Interrogations are very difficult to handle. You got hoaxers, publicity hounds, and outright nutters. And then there are the investigators preconceptions...

Apologies to the choir...


William Strathmann said...


As is being suggested, it seems likely that the term "flying saucer" was generally understood by folks of the '40's as not strictly a technical shape of objects in the air, but that it was a catchy catch-all "Disney-like" slang phrase, not unlike the slang use of Dumbo (the flying elephant of Disney fame) for military flying boat aircraft of the '40's. People of the '40's used "saucers" on the table, so "flying saucer" was simply a catchy, suggestive term. Maybe there was a Disney film with flying dishes? I don't remember. But even the craft from The Day the Earth Stood Still is not precisely a saucer from the cupboard, nor even an inverted saucer, though it is closer to that. While it seems doubtless that media sensationalism sparked claims of seeing "flying saucers" the fact that green fireballs and "ghost rockets" were also reported in the same general timeframe diminishes the force of the idea that disc reports were solely the result of media use of "flying saucer" no matter if it was after the Arnold case or not, IMHO.

Rusty L. said...

In Kevin's kinder gentler discussion forum, I will refrain from calling out the would be scientists who critique the null hypothesis. Since no doctoral student could quote Merriam Webster in a dissertation, I will offer some more substantial sources.

John W. Creswell in Research Design (4th Edition, 2014) says, "A null hypothesis represents the traditional approach: It makes a prediction that in the general population, no relationship or no significant difference exists between groups on a variable". In responding to the AC, a single instance does not disprove the null hypothesis. Also, the definition is not relative to the scientific discipline. It is consistent across disciplines, although I certainly don't want to cast 'aspersions'.

Further, Colin Robson in Real World Research (3rd Edition, 2011) says, "The probability that a significance test gives you is not that a result is due to chance (as is commonly claimed). What a p value actually tells you is something that sounds very similar to this statement but is in fact quite different. It tells you how likely it would be that you would get the difference you did (one or more extreme), by chance alone, if there really is no difference between the categories represented by your groups, in the population from which you drew your sample. This assumption of 'no difference' is referred to as the 'null hypothesis'. In other words, a statistical significance test 'tests' the plausibility that the null hypothesis -- no difference between the population means -- is true. If your result would be very unlikely if the null hypothesis were true, this makes it less plausible that the null hypothesis is true."

If folks wish to continue, I'm game. Suffice it to say, stick to your wheelhouse. If you have any concerns about the sources, feel free to offer another source other than a dictionary or wikipedia. Kevin's use of the null hypothesis was a general statement and correct. It wasn't intended for inclusion in a dissertation or research paper.

For my part, a number of sources provide analysis that suggests that media accounts of Arnold's sighting influenced subsequent accounts. As Kevin and an AC point out, the term flying saucer likely became a colloquialism to describe sightings of indistinct objects, lights, etc. To be clear, that is my opinion based on a review of a limited set of sources.

ufodebunker said...


I concur. Mr Randle's use of the term "null hypothesis" is correct and proper. With regard to the skepticism held by the general public and the scientific communities regarding the subject of UFOs I believe it is due to the antics of the fringe element involved in the UFO field and not any derogatory intent of use of the term "flying saucer".

KRandle said...

All -

Sorry about the delays here, but I have had problems with my network which I finally traced to my modem and was able to resolve myself... I say this because I was able to resolve this without tech support or anything else which means I am slowly moving into the 21st century.

Lance -

I do not understand your hostility here. We all get that Arnold didn't see a saucer and that the press reported that as the shape of the object. We all get that some might have been influenced in their descriptions based on those news reports and many of the hoaxes underscore that. However, if you read the newspapers of the time, you see that reporters used the term flying saucer even when the witness actually described something else. We also have reports of saucer-shaped craft that preceded Arnold which means, of course, that he had no influence on them.

The problem I have right now is that I can find few reports of saucers in the months up to Arnold that were not published until after Arnold. You can argue influence there, though that argument might be in error. Those people, and those who followed, might have seen a saucer-shaped craft.

I will note that about the only source you would have for those reports would be the military because the pilots would have been required to file some sort of report if they had encountered an unknown object. Those reports would have gone to Wright Field and the intelligence function there. According to some of the documentation available, those early reports, with few exceptions, disappeared.

My point is that we have an opportunity to verify Kottmeyer's theory by engaging in some elemental science and basic research. I would think you would applaud the endeavor rather than condemning it. If we confirm it, doesn't that advance the theory? And wouldn't you like to know where the evidence takes us rather than speculate about it. The theory is interesting but we can move it forward, based on evidence rather than a will to believe.

Lance said...

Kevin, no hostility at all and no condemnation. You may have noticed that many of the folks above have their own somewhat conflicting ideas as to what you are suggesting. Can you succinctly state what you believe the theory under discussion is?



David Rudiak said...

(Part 1 of 2)
First of all, Arnold very much DID report a "saucer" shape, or "disc" or "pie-plate". The media did NOT make it up. I have written extensively on this, based on actually examining hundreds of newspapers from that time period. E.g., a summary of Arnold's quoted statements from June/July 1947 about both SHAPE and MOTION can be found here:

Arnold's basic description of shape was given in a RECORDED, still-surviving interview he did a day or two after his sighting (June 25 or 26): "They looked something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in
the rear."

Or this quote, Portland Oregon Journal, June 27: "They were half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. ...There were no bulges or cowlings; they looked like a big flat disk."

Compare with his AF intelligence report drawing of July 12, 1947: Very thin and flat, rounded in front, but coming to something like a triangular point in back, i.e., convex all the way around.

A specific example of Arnold using "saucer": (AP story in Norman Oklahoma Transcript, June 26): "They were shaped LIKE saucers and were so thin I could barely see them..."

Now the debunking thought police insist that the only proper "saucer" MUST be perfectly circular or it isn't a "saucer" or "disc". Well that may be the paradigm saucer/disc in most people's heads, but there is no rule saying that saucers/discs MUST be perfectly circular. E.g., Merriam-Webster defines saucer thusly: "1. : a small shallow dish [no specific shape] in which a cup is set at table. [My mother, e.g., has squarish "saucers".] 2. : something RESEMBLING a saucer especially in shape; especially : flying saucer."

As for motion, Arnold was multiple times quoted saying they weaved like the tail of a kite, flew in reverse echelon formation, or flipped and flashed in the sun like fish. Never anything about skipping like saucers off of water. If he was misquoted, as he claimed 3 years later, he certainly never attempted to correct it in 1947, including in his written AF report. The multiple quotes are very consistent about shape and motion, NEVER using the saucer/disc/pie-pan metaphor to describe motion rather than shape.

As for the newspapers using "saucer"/"disc" to describe people's reports, multiple things were going on here:
1. People were actually describing round, flat, disc-like objects.
2. People were describing something LIKE round, flat, disc-like objects (often calling them "disc-like")
3. People were describing multiple shapes other than round ones, but the newspapers were using the now generic description of "saucer"/"disc"
4. People were not describing any particular shape, maybe just a distant dot in the sky, but they were still being called generic "flying saucer" by witnesses or newspaper.

It also goes without saying that even a roundish "saucer" shape might go by many descriptions depending on perspective: thin, cigar shape; oval; sphere; actual round disc shape; something not perfectly round, but roundish and thin and flat.

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rudiak said...

part 2 of 2

Even Arnold's objects were alternatively labeled by the newspapers as "missiles" or "planes". To get an idea of all the various shapes and things being reported by witnesses and newspapers as "flying saucers/discs", see Ted Bloecher's review, based on about 170 newspapers:

...or my review of mostly regional newspapers of June/July 1947 UFO reports restricted to the immediate N.M. area:

You'll see that most often no specific shape was reported or it was ambiguous as to whether witnesses actually reported a specific "saucer/disc" shape, or if "saucer/disc" was just a generic description by witness/newspaper of something odd flying in the sky.

An interesting photographic case of 8 objects, from Tulsa, OK, July 12, had the witness report objects that were more like a baseball catcher's mitt in shape, also described as resembling flying wings, also seeming to have a hole in the center (no "meme" round flying saucer here):

Another interesting case, July 3, from Arkansas had the witness reporting a fast-flying, crescent-moon shape, long before Arnold went public with that shape for one of his sighted objects, or William Rhodes photos of a somewhat crescent-shaped object in Phoenix, July 7:

And two half-moon-shape reports, Denver, CO, July 8, and Las Cruces, N.M., August 15 and 22:

David Rudiak said...

Lance, of course, wrote:
And now we enter the world where a half moon with a convex tail = a saucer.

I'm sure terms like "debunking thought police" qualify as perfectly fine under the new rules here, Kevin?

And now we enter the world where the only proper definition of a "saucer" or "disc" shape is by Lance Moody. If you don't like "thought police", how about skeptics (not just Lance) who are much too literal minded or rigid in their thinking, and don't understand that human language is usually not absolutely precise.

In the real world of human linguistics, people tend to speak in METAPHORS, i.e. describing something unfamiliar by comparing to something more familiar that other people understand from common experience. On planet Earth, when people speak in metaphor, they usually do NOT mean something is exactly the same as something else, but has SOME characteristics that are similar.

Thus, e.g., Arnold spoke of his objects as being LIKE saucers or LIKE discs or LIKE pie planes/pie pans (all thin, flat, roundish), but NOT perfectly round (but very thin and flat, somewhat half-moon shaped in front, but convex or coming to a point in back).

My mother has a set of squarish china serving "saucers", I have seen china saucers with scallop shapes, all sorts of shapes, including the more common roundish ones (or chipped round ones that are no longer perfectly round but still qualify as "saucers").

The term "disc" is even more general, referring to flattish, roundish or convex objects, including irregular biological ones like spinal discs or platelets, or it could be flattish, somewhat irregular stones which do indeed skip off water, or perfectly roundish hockey pucks or paint can covers or the sun, all perfectly good "discs", in REAL human language.

(BTW, I've never seen or heard of anyone skipping actual china saucers off water, though no doubt could be done, but certainly people skipping flat rocks or even sea shells off water, thus rather doubt Arnold's story 3 years later of originally describing motion as actual saucers skipping off water. More likely, if he used the skipping metaphor for motion, he would have used flat stones, not saucers. In 1947, Arnold ALWAYS was quoted distinguishing the saucer/disc/pie-plate SHAPE from the motion, which was more like one object following one another single file, or weaving/dipping in unison like the tail of a kite, and also erratic flipping and flashing in the sunlight.)

Originally "saucer" or "disc/disk" was used about equally in newspaper stories, later giving way to "flying saucer" in popular usage. The military almost always used the more generic "disc" description (as in the Roswell press release and even in Gen. Ramey's memo about Roswell--yes "disc" is very definitely in there). Of course, with Roswell, the military even went so far in its eventual debunkery to equate the very, very undisc-like weather radar targets to the supposed "disc" recovered at Roswell.

Brian B said...

@ David Rudiak

Well...I think I can follow the train of thought on your statements.....however you initially state that Arnold DID report something "saucer" shaped and never bothered to correct the media in their quotes......but then you also say what he meant was something LIKE a "saucer" or a "disc"....and that those terms were basically METAPHORS in reference to a general shape, look, or movement of an object that could basically be any shape (Mom's square saucers).

I'm not certain that proves or demonstrates he saw a true saucer shaped object as we think of them. If I follow your line of thought, any object could be potentially viewed as a "saucer" based on how people perceive it.

If that's the case, you would have to accept that radar reflectors on the Roswell weather balloon could also legitimately be called "saucers" or "discs" by the military.

I tend to bank more on Arnold's illustrations than his words....the flat half-round shape with a convex triangle on the rear, and also his half-moon shaped object (which I question since that was never reported initially and only AFTER he began investigating other reports).

Don Maor said...

Brian wrote:

"I'm not certain that proves or demonstrates he saw a true saucer shaped object as we think of them"

An what is exactly the shape of a "true saucer" as you "think of them"? Is it really relevant your belief regarding the true and absolute saucer shape? Consider that there are MANY variations of the saucer shape reported so far, so it seems that your point is just not a point.

Brian B said...

Don - if your point above is that just about anything can be called a saucer or is a saucer in "UFO world" I would agree. The term "saucer" is applied to just about anything people see in the sky and can't explain. Square, triangle, box, ball, bell, egg, acorn, cylinder, pie pan, etc. However today the term is "UFO" for everything.

But when you have a guy seeing and describing a thin, half round object with a convex point at the end, then the shape by description is technically not a true "saucer".

Moreover we don't have too many, if any, reports of UFOs with that very shape flying on a one directional path and in formation. Oh...but we do have an earthly made craft in blue prints and mock ups.....but we have to discount that in favor of an alien explanation.

Tell me why aliens have to fly their ships in a classic or conventional earthly and military type formation?

Don Maor said...

Brian said:

"Don - if your point above is that just about anything can be called a saucer or is a saucer in "UFO world" I would agree. The term "saucer" is applied to just about anything people see in the sky and can't explain. Square, triangle, box, ball, bell, egg, acorn, cylinder, pie pan, etc. However today the term is "UFO" for everything."

No Brian, that was not my point. My point was that among the disc shapes reported so far, there are many types: those which are disc shaped with flat botton and flat top, those with flat botton and a dome on top, those with looked like a convex lens, fat and thin, rounded edges and not so rounded, etc. In that sense, there is no a real "true saucer" shape, and the report by Arnold can still be considered to be saucer shaped, judging from original wording and original drawings.

Brian said:

"then the shape by description is technically not a true "saucer"."

Again Brian, I must ask, what is the shape of a "true" "saucer"?

Brian questioned:
Tell me why aliens have to fly their ships in a classic or conventional earthly and military type formation?

Why don't you ask the same question to a military guy? Hell, I take sit with my butts, and most probably at least some humanoid aliens probably sit in the same way. So what?

Brian B said...

@ Don.....You said:

"Again Brian, I must ask, what is the shape of a "true" "saucer"?"

Funny you should ask twice....for most people who speak English it means "circular - or round as in circumference" - not square, cylindrical, egg, etc. Circular is different than "half mooned" or "half round with a convex rear that comes to a point".

Look at these common dictionary definitions in sequence - saucer - dish - bowl. They all refer to a "round" object that is concave.

What is a saucer?

Saucer: a small, round, shallow dish to hold a cup.

What is a dish?

Dish: a shallow container that you cook or serve food in; specifically : a shallow bowl

What is a bowl?

Bowl: a rather deep, round dish or basin, used chiefly for holding liquids, food, etc.

Arnold did not say he saw circular or round saucers, nor did he say they were "discs". He drew pictures of what he saw and they weren't "saucers" by this definition.

Since you are unfamiliar with echelon flying, here is a very earthly, human explanation:

"Formation flying is the disciplined flight of two or more aircraft under the command of a flight leader. Military pilots use formations for mutual defense and concentration of firepower.

The tactic persists up to the present day, where it is regularly employed by all branches of the modern armed forces.

Tactically, echelon formations are used because of the excellent range of vision offered to each participant in the formation. In particular, it is commonly employed by combat aircraft, where the close, streamlined flight formation can allow the planes to dramatically reduce fuel consumption by "surfing" the updraft created by the wingtip vortices of the aircraft ahead."

Notice this is a "human" created "military" tactic. Also note the "surfing" aspect - much like Arnold's "skipping over water". Why do aliens need to conserve fuel via drag reduction if they know how to travel across the Galaxy without fuel problems?

If thousands of military pilots are trained to fly in formation, why conclude it had to be "aliens" flying in formation? Why do they need clear visibility in echelon formation if they can go anywhere and see anything by simply floating over and around it?

I'm sure your response will be "Why don't you ask the aliens"...but maybe for once you should present some rationale as to why aliens follow human flight formations. I'm thinking you have no answer.....

Don Maor said...

for most people who speak English it means "circular - or round as in circumference"

You made a poll Brian? Circle is not the same as round.

"circular - or round as in circumference" - not square, cylindrical, egg, etc.

And yet a cylindrical object is also circular.

"Circular is different than "half mooned" or "half round with a convex rear that comes to a point"."

I can't find the "half moon" description in the original report of Arnold.

Frankly Brian, there are many related but different concepts here: disk, saucer, circle, round, roundish, saucer like, disc like, etc. All are similar to some extent but have important differences. And yet we have skeptics and smarties here claiming to know with absolute certainity what is the "true saucer" shape. Come on.

Arnold did not say he saw circular or round saucers, nor did he say they were "discs"

Oh yes he did Brian. He DID use the words "saucer-like disks". (Again we have Brian enjoying being wrong). Look here

If thousands of military pilots are trained to fly in formation, why conclude it had to be "aliens" flying in formation?

As usual, Brian enjoying making wrong assumptions. I never claimed that those objects were alien.

"but maybe for once you should present some rationale as to why aliens follow human flight formations. I'm thinking you have no answer...."

Come on Brian, relax. Do you really believe your argument near being good? Birds are not humans and also fly in formations, fishes swim in formation. There are a lot of advantages for traveling in formation, not just drag avoidance. I already told you, the fact that I like to sit with my butts does not mean that others are obliged to sit with their heads.

Brian B said...

@ Don

Actually drag avoidance is the cited reason why birds fly in ordered formation (like a V). Look it up.

I don't recall seeing fish form a V or echelon formation. Swimming in a cluster is not an ordered formation.

Maybe Arnold did use some of those words - he changed his words often - but he drew something different and later added something he never stated in his original report - a wing shaped object've seen the drawings he made. That's not a saucer by common definition.

I also don't recall animals flying at speeds around 1,400 MPH either. But I do know terrestrial military aircraft do or can.

No you didn't say Arnold's sighting was alien....but you refute and scoff at any other hypothesis widdling it down to "ET". You are also an ET proponent via your posts. You don't need to say it's obvious.

The argument that Arnold's sighting was a terrestrial formation of military aircraft is not a bizzare hypothesis.....chucking all other considerations assuming the ET hypothesis. Is the only answer...but without saying it....and still arguing for it exclusively is. IMO

So what was it Don? What did he see in your opinion?

Don Maor said...

Brian, I take your last paragraph from the other thread and respond to it:

You said:
"Yes Don still classified. Hard to believe the very same people saying that the world’s governments and the military have been “hiding” the truth about aliens from the public for 67 years….but in the same breath those people claim governments and the military couldn’t hide their advanced weapons technology for the same 67 years. I guess it’s just easier for them to hide aliens than their own machinery."

One thing (relatively easy) would be to hide one or a few crashed alien crafts plus some dead alien bodies, and another thing, completely different and utterly difficult, is to permanently hide secret human tech prototypes which are functional and which MUST be tested and used in the air. Secret protoypes that by its own nature of being prototypes are subjected to failures and thus should crash. Yet they rerely or never crash.

In contrast, airplane crashes occur almost every day in this planet. But no, hyper-super secret-man-made-UFOs don't crash even when they have been tested all over the world during the last 70 years. Absolutely incredible. Yes Brian, USA have those incredibly advanced super secret UFO crafts sice 1947, which are somehow unable to crash, but did not use them in Vietnam war so lost the war. Same with Hitler's super secret saucers, they could not make him win the war.

Brian B said...

@ Don - crashed classified projects

I find it interesting you think no secret projects have ever crashed. Your wrong on that point. It happens more often than you think. The public has no idea, why would they? Here's a very small example:

July 11, 1986: F-117A crashed outside Nellis AFB

"At ground level, armed sentries carrying M-16 automatic rifles kept unauthorized visitors away. Not even firefighters were permitted within the guarded perimeter, which one paper described as a "ring of steel." A clean-up team moved out a thousand feet from the last of the recognizable debris and then dug and sifted all the dirt in the area. On July 23, controlled explosive charges were detonated on the hillside. To mislead anyone who might try to search the area for pieces of the F-117A, the recovery crew had the remains of an F-107 broken up and scattered the debris throughout the area."

March 14, 1997: Unknown project crashes in the UK.

"A top-secret United States spyplane which flies on the edge of space at five times the speed of sound crashed at the British experimental airbase at Boscombe Down, Hampshire, in September 1994, according to a report in a leading military aviation journal. The SAS, the report said, was scrambled to throw a cordon round the wreckage, which was flown back to the US two days later, the hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft, called Astra or Aurora, is believed to have been developed in the 1980s as a secret US government "black programme".

I could go on but why bother. Regarding saucer tech, what makes you think they don't have electrogravitic capability? Because they didn't tell you?

Don Maor said...

I find it interesting you think no secret projects have ever crashed. Your wrong on that point. It happens more often than you think. The public has no idea, why would they? Here's a very small example: I could go on but why bother

Of course there exist black projects Brian. I never said anything to the contrary. They exist, and the general population more or less give a crap about it.
My problem is with the theory that the massive reporting of UFOs all over the world in the last 70 (and more) years is substantially explained by secret projects. Testing extremely secret prototypes in south America’s rural and also urban areas? Testing prototypes in front on nuclear ICBM? Absurd. Testing super-secret prototypes everywhere? That is frankly unbelievable. On the other hand, testing secret prototypes in USA desert areas or in UK has some sense given that any malfunctioning or crash of the prototypes would be easy to handle by militaries. But the rest of the world? Hard to believe.

Regarding saucer tech, what makes you think they don't have electrogravitic capability? Because they didn't tell you?

Maybe USA already has strange and unknown technology, but probably obtained by reverse engineering of alien crafts. It is still very hard to believe that they were able to reverse engineer that technology shortly after 1947. If they succeeded at all, I would expect they just recently have operated such technology.

Very hard to believe they developed (via black projects) an absolutely new branch of science and technology (electrogravity)-- by their own.

Brian B said...

@ Don -

Well Don, things that are tested typically become operational if they work. In other words, all those sightings aren't necessarily super-secret prototypes being tested. They're in use. Operational.

Additionally, not all of them have to be US. The US, Britain, and Canada certainly were competitive (still are) amongst each other, and against the Soviets and China for decades (also still are). Those nations have certainly copied each other's weapons systems. If they can do it with conventional tech, then we might conclude they could do it with exotic tech also. I would bet Israel is somewhere in that group as well.

That may account for your "sightings seen all over the world" concern. Likewise, those craft may be over our airspace as much as we are over theirs - just that no one wants to go to war with each other over surveillance intrusions. Clearly no one declared war on the US after the NSA incident.

Ever wondered why objects are seen being followed by helicoptors or being followed by jet fighters? Maybe they are chasing them because they are someone else's in our airspace - and maybe they are escorting them because they are one of our friendly allies caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. That may explain why we haven't been shooting any UFO's down - or the technology prevents any type of damage from conventional weapons - you may be interested in knowing that public research on electromagnetic fields indicates possibilities depending on the type of material being shot at the object.

Magnetic fields generally slow things down overall. The most intense magnetic fields we can produce tend to be in a very small volume, which is surrounded by the large bulk of the magnetic field generator, and the thermal insulation for the superconductors inside. In this case, the magnetic field would not protect the magnet, but the bulk of the magnet would protect the volume containing the intense magnetic field. In otherwords, the projectiles bounce off or fall flat in the face of the supermagnetic field surrounding the craft.

Since you mentioned the Vietnam war, you might be interested in knowing that the "enemy helicopters" that were often sighted there, which clearly resembled classic UFO's, were reported as having been fired upon without any effect. This may also explain why nothing ever gets shot down.

A UFO hovering over a US missile site may not be ours, it may be one of our allies or an aggressor nation using the same technlogy. It might also be us testing our confidence in our technology, and the response to it, before we take it elsewhere. Safer to test on our own unsuspecting military, then test it against an unsuspecting enemy and fail.

You keep saying humans couldn't have created such technology without alien assistance, especially not in the last 70 years. Tesla created electrogravitic technology in the late 1800's and early 1900's. That was more than a 100 years ago.

We went to the Moon in 1968. Seventy years earlier, in 1898, no one thought that was possible - at all - except for fanciful stories and fictionalized books. Seventy years later we accomplished it.

So in 70 years you don't think we could advance our own technology without aliens?

Don Maor said...

Brian, I am sorry to confirm that your theories are excessively hard to believe. You are now asking me to believe that an almost perfect UFO technology, which very rarely fails or crashes, has been mastered by almost every developed nation of planet earth, and that every country has sent its own UFOs to spy or fool around other countries in the last 70 years, and that the technology has remained secret and hidden from open science and from private industry which could made monetary profits from selling UFOS. Not only your theory is extremely hard to believe by its own postulates, but in addition it requires FLATLY denying some things like witnesses who have seen landed UFOs and strange beings getting out or getting inside the UFO, requires denying Roswell witnesses, requires denying ancient UFOs, requires denying Wilbert Smith’s Canadian documents, etc.

Brian said:
So in 70 years you don't think we could advance our own technology without aliens?
Yes I think humans could do it, but you are additionally asking me to believe that USA has done in secret, not just now, but also circa 1947 too, that some nations have mastered such UFO technology as well, and that they have achieved it well above the level of safety that modern airplanes and cars have. I can't accept such theory.

Brian B said...

@ Don -

You said:

"You are now asking me to believe that an almost perfect UFO technology, which very rarely fails or crashes, has been mastered by almost every developed nation of planet earth, and that every country has sent its own UFOs to spy or fool around other countries in the last 70 years, and that the technology has remained secret and hidden from open science and from private industry which could made monetary profits from selling UFOS."

No that's not what I said. What I said was leading global nations, 2, 3, or possible 4, have likely mirrored each others weapons technology. That's not fiction Don, this has been done since the dawn of warfare.

No, the technology has not been kept secret from private industry. The military, and the government do not build their own things - they do not have factories ran by the government or the military. They work with for-profit corporate contractors - global firms in the aerospace industry. These companies have been making billions of dollars on secret defense contracts since the end of WWII. So no, some companies are directly involved. Do they want to keep other contractors away? Yes. Why? Because they are a for-profit corporation who wants to grow their company and retain their share of the billions made from their deals with the government.

Denying UFO witnesses have seen or been inside alien UFO's? Yes. There is no proof positive that they saw or did what they claim. Even if some do or have seen something explainable, and many have, there still is no definitive proof of those events that the public can see, touch, or verify. But there is clear documentation and clear confirmation by military, governments, and contractors that they build advance technology for defense and keep it secret from the public.

Denying Roswell witnesses? Yes. Which ones are telling the truth Don? The key "witnesses" have been proven to have lied or fabricated their stories. Less than 5 people are actually true witnesses, and they don't all agree what they saw or handled was "alien". There are not 700 first hand witnesses to Roswell.

Ancient UFO's? Do some homework Don. That has all been proven to be bunk - conceptual dreams drawn from people who do not read, interpret or even understand ancient Sumerian texts - but look at archeological items and "see" aliens in them. This has been proven to be false over and over again.

Wilbert Smith? You should read what Kevin had to say, and others, at this very blog. Wilbert was sharing his thoughts on something reported to him - he did not say he knew it was fact and there is no way to verify what he was saying to begin with. His memos are what started the entire fake and now proven fake MJ12 documents. Read here:

Don Maor said...

Brian, I did not ask you for your justification of your denial of ET evidence for UFOs. I already knew your denying stance on that. I was only pointing that your theory was hard to believe on itself (yes, 3 countries being capable of perfecting the "UFO technology" to the extreme, testing their UFOs all over the world during the last 70 years, is still VERY VERY VERY hard to believe). I only mentioned that it required aditional denial of UFO ET evidence, because most people are not ruthless deniers, which makes me think that you must be more or less a lonely rider with your "Human UFO techology" theory.

"Wilbert was sharing his thoughts on something reported to him - he did not say he knew it was fact and there is no way to verify what he was saying to begin with."

As usual Brian you are wrong. Those canadian documents from 1950 made clear that Dr. Robert Sarbacher as being an informant of Smith. So the documents surfaced in 1981, and Stanton Friedman interviewed Sarbacher (in 1983) who fortunately was still alive, and Sarbacher confirmed the documents. That IS a confirmation, and there is no way back from that.

His memos are what started the entire fake and now proven fake MJ12 documents.

Fully irrelevant, given that MJ-12 documents surfaced in 1984, later than the interview of Sarbacher in 1983.

"But there is clear documentation and clear confirmation by military, governments, and contractors that they build advance technology for defense and keep it secret from the public."

Of course there are government contractors working on advanced, classified and secret technology. I never denied that (I am not a denier). Of course, what is lacking are the technical documents that demonstrate that USA has indeed functional electrogrativic technology, equations related to that technology, etc.

Brian B said...

@ Don -

My advice to anyone interested in this subject, UFOs, is to keep a very, very open mind to the variety of explanations that could account for the phenomen's supposed 20% unexplained events. Not that you have to take my advice Don, but you should broaden your reading on the subject rather than just deciding the solution can only be ET.

On Sarbacher - Did you read the link to the comments provided on this blog? There's nothing that confirms Sarbacher's claims are accurate and no way to prove it. There's also no way to prove Smith understood it correctly in the context provided. And yes, if you read more broadly the Smith document has influenced the creation of the MJ12 papers and others have commented on it or connected the two. 1983 precedes 1984...12 months for forgery.

Technical documents - Well of course not, they're classified. More importantly they aren't in the US governments hands - they're in the hands of the corporations so you can't get them from an FOIA. There are technical documents showing the science exists to create it - as I said read Tesla, Brown, etc., these guys demonstrated the capability long before 1947 and even after. If you want leaked info, read Mccandlish.