Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moore on Moore and Marcel

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article as something of an experiment. I wanted to see what the reactions would be when I challenged a couple of the "sacred" cows of the skeptical side of the UFO debate, or more specifically, the Roswell UFO crash. I wasn’t overly surprised by the results. Disappointed, but not surprised.

There are two groups out there. One claims that Jesse Marcel, Sr. can’t be believed because he was a liar, as proved by the interview with Bob Pratt and the other claims that Charles Moore is a liar because what he told us about Project Mogul and the secrecy, as proved by the documents we have seen in the last few years, is not true.

I suggested that since many gave Moore a pass on his comments about not knowing the name of the project, for suggesting that the non-existent flight number four was responsible for the debris found by Mack Brazel, and for his manipulation of the data, the same courtesy should be granted to Marcel. After all, it was Pratt’s interpretation of the interview with Marcel that allowed many to label Marcel as a liar (yes, I know that others got hung up over his claimed college degree which I still don’t understand but that too came from the Pratt interview).

I also suggested, off line, to one man that we should cut Marcel some slack because he had served in the Second World War and we all owed something to those who served. I was treated to a diatribe about anti-Semitic officers who were borderline Nazis and deserved nothing of the sort.

So, what did we learn? Those who believe that Mogul supplies the answer will not give Marcel the benefit of the doubt but will defend Moore. I purposefully used some information sent to me by a rabid believer about the SCR-584 and was corrected immediately about its capabilities that were easily retrieved on the Internet (well, not immediately, but I was corrected... as well I should have been) but I was not told that in addition to this radar that Moore had mentioned at White Sands, there were other radars with other capabilities available at that time, something Moore had to have known. He even talked of tracking the balloons out to 64 miles which told us that there was a capability beyond that he cited for the SCR-584.

The question then becomes, why didn’t Moore know of those other capabilities and if he did, then wasn’t he being disingenuous by not mentioning them as well? Is that an oversight on his part or was it intentional? If it was intentional, then doesn’t that tell us something about his arguments for the Mogul theory? Doesn’t that suggest a debate rather than a scientific search for evidence?

The question of Marcel and the pictures taken in Ramey’s office were mentioned and discussed though I didn’t bring them up. Yes, Marcel did say, on film so that we all can hear it, that he was photographed with the real debris. If that is what was in General Ramey’s office, then yes, the investigation is over and a weather balloon (or part of the Mogul array) answers the question.

However, I brought up that Marcel, when shown the pictures taken in Ramey’s office said that it wasn’t the stuff he had found in Roswell and that those pictures had been staged, corroborating some of the information given to us by Colonel Thomas DuBose. Those statements were rejected out of hand. I made it clear that Marcel had not said that to me, but had said it to other, disinterested third parties so we can be sure that he said it.

According to some of the discussion, that became Marcel attempting to twist his statements. Realizing his mistake when shown the pictures, well, Marcel just lied again, saying it wasn’t the stuff from Roswell. It doesn’t seem to occur to some of these people that Marcel was honest in his discussions of the strange material. Some believe he was a liar and that’s it.

Here is the point of this exercise. Those who believe that Mogul answers the questions will not accept anything that suggests their star witness in this, Charles Moore, could have been either mistaken or have played fast and loose with the facts. Moore is as honest as the day is long and if he is in error, it is an honest mistake created by the long ago nature of the events and the foibles of the human memory.

On the other hand, they will not believe anything that Jesse Marcel said because he is a proven liar of the first order. Clearly he was twisting the facts to suit himself and all the other lies he told is proof of his dishonesty.

Those who believe that an alien spacecraft fell will not accept anything that suggests that one of their star witnesses (interestingly, there are many more than just Marcel... Edwin Easley, Arthur Exon, Bill Brazel, Patrick Saunders to name a few) could have been either mistaken or played fast and loose with the facts.

On the other hand, they will not believe anything that Charles Moore said because they had seen how he manipulates the data to reach his own conclusions. They reject everything that he says.

Of course, the problem here is that the Mogul explanation rests on the mythical flight number four and there is no documentation to suggest it was ever made. Dr. Crary’s diary tells us it was canceled and the written record of the Mogul flights tells us that flight number five was the first successful flight in New Mexico.

The real point, however, is the ways people look at the same set of facts and interpret them in accordance with their own belief structures. That doesn’t make them wrong but it can lead to a misinterpretation of the facts of a case.

I hope that those looking at this will bend in their rigorous adherence to one point of view or the other. By changing this into a debate, we can all make our points. If we leave it as scientific analysis, then we must account for all the facts, not just those that prove our point. We must shed our will to believe... or our will to disbelieve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Amateur Astronomers, Bad Astronomy and UFOs

Not all that long ago we had a couple of discussions about amateur astronomers and UFOs, meaning here, alien spacecraft. I had mentioned a couple of instances in which amateur astronomers had seen UFOs, in this case meaning something unidentified which, of course could also mean alien spacecraft.

Once again, in just looking at the UFO Investigator (January 1974 issue, page 1)that came on the DVD supplied by the Center for UFO Studies, I found a couple of stories about amateur astronomers and UFOs. Terence Dickinson, of the Strasenburg Planetarium in Rochester, New York, said that he, with five students, were studying Jupiter, when they spotted five steady lights in the southern sky on October 24, 1973. The UFOs climbed higher and seemed to get brighter.

Dickinson watched the objects through an eight power spotter scope while students kept the objects in sight without an optical aide. They all said that the objects climbed for about two minutes until they were about 55 degrees above the horizon and all were as bright as Venus with a single exception at the rear of the formation that also had a "pinkish" cast.

The objects were flying in a "V" formation that in military terms would have been a heavy right, meaning it was more checkmark shaped than an actual "V." The lights of the object were steady, and were estimated to be about two miles away and at about 10,000 feet.

Dickinson and his students were not the only ones to see the objects. Richard Quick, Director of the Libraries at State University of New York at Geneseo, provided corroboration of the sighting in a detailed letter to Dickinson.

I suppose I should mention that Dickinson was a member of NICAP at the time of his sighting. Working with Dr. Stuart Appelle, a NICAP regional director, they attempted to find a prosaic explanation but civilian and military authorities, including NORAD, said that none of their aircraft were in the area at the time of the sighting.

A month earlier, meaning the December 1974 issue of the UFO Investigator, the headline in big bold type across the front was "President and Vice President of Long Island Astronomical Society Sight UFO."

On Sunday, October 21, 1973, Lee Gugliotto and James Paciello, were on the second floor terrace of Gugliotto’s home, looking for meteors when a reddish star attracted their attention. They watched it for a moment and then returned to their wives. About two hours later, they returned to the terrace and noticed the red light again. It seemed to move to the west and then began to come right at them until they could see a ball shape. Eventually the object was about the third of the size of a full moon and as bright as Venus.

As the object was about to disappear over the house, Gugliotto and the women hurried downstairs with the intention of following the object. Paciello stayed were he was, watching. A white glow appeared and was quickly replaced by three blinking lights that were evenly spaced on the object. One was green, one red and one white. Paciello noted that the lights were not blinking in a regular pattern, nor were the spaced as the navigation lights on an airplane would be.

Paciello joined the others and they drove down the hill, keeping the object in sight until it faded away in the haze. They then returned home and called the police.

NICAP’s regional investigator, Diana Russell, obtained a detailed report and learned that others in the area had also seen the object. She learned that small aircraft were spotted during the sighting so that everyone could compare the navigation lights on an aircraft, and the general shape of the aircraft with the object. They said that the airplanes looked like "pin dots by comparison to the size of the UFO."

Again, I should note, as did the UFO Investigator, that although the witnesses had an interest in UFOs, "they did not immediately leap to the conclusion that they were experiencing a UFO sighting."

Marc Levine, Director of the Planetarium at Vanderbilt Museum, who knew both the men, said, "If they say something was up there that did not belong there I would have to go along with them."

So, there are two more reports by amateur astronomers but in each case the object is called a UFO as opposed to an alien spacecraft. Of course, the reports also suggest that all other explanations, from man-made to natural have been eliminated. The amateur astronomers are familiar with what in the sky, as Phil Plait has told us repeatedly, and checks for aircraft, satellites, or other Earth-bound craft had failed. That suggests to me that we can say that here are two more reports of flying saucers (though none were of the objects saucer shaped).

I mentioned these because, once again I stumbled over them as I was looking through the UFO Investigator for something else... The 1973 date should give it away. That was during the big "occupant" wave of the fall when lots of people were seeing lots of UFOs and many of them had landed with the creatures from the inside being seen on the outside.

I suppose the question now becomes, how many of these sorts of sightings do we have to report before Phil concedes that amateur astronomers do see UFOs, and in many cases those UFOs are alien spacecraft...

Yes, I can hear him now, explaining that a light in the sky, even one under close observation, does not necessarily mean alien spacecraft. We don’t know that these were alien spacecraft. We just know that they were strange objects that seem to have no Earthly explanation but that doesn’t lead us directly to the extraterrestrial. We need something more to get there.

I suppose that the best we can hope for is Phil to concede that amateurs do report UFOs, but that doesn’t mean they have reported an alien ship. We are, however, getting closer.