Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Fermi Paradox

A recent post I read suggested the writer did not accept the reality of UFOs because no one had come up with a good explanation for the Fermi Paradox. This was the idea that if there was other intelligent life in the galaxy it would already be here.

I am inclined, flippantly, to say, "But they are here now. Look at all the unexplained UFO reports."

In fact, the history suggests that the Fermi Paradox grew out of a discussion about UFOs, as Fermi and others walked to lunch. According to that history, they were talking about the latest UFO reports. Fermi then said that if there were a multitude of civilizations in our galaxy, it was strange that no evidence of them had been found.

So, how do we answer the question?

We can always look at the assumptions made. First, that there are a multitude of civilizations out there. Maybe there are but a few scattered throughout the galaxy which would mean they are probably separated by tens of thousands of light years. Contact among them would be sparse until one or more conquered the problem of interstellar distances.

Maybe we have found no radio trace (or limited radio traces) because they have not reached that level of technology... or more likely, have reached it and moved beyond it. We search for alien radio signals based on some human assumptions given the nature of the radio sources in the sky, but other creatures on other planets might not use those same assumptions. We might be searching in vain because we think like humans and not aliens.

Carl Sagan has postulated that we could expect visitation by an extraterrestrial civilization about once every ten thousand years... though I don’t know how he came up with that number. But let’s say it’s accurate. That would mean that sometime in the last ten thousand years aliens arrived on Earth, and that would mean that they would have found our civilizations.

It really doesn’t matter when they arrived or the state of the civilizations they found. I would think that once you found something like that, you’d be inclined to keep watch on it, if for no other reason than it is another intelligent race. And if that is true, then the number of visits would increase as we advanced. Once we reached an industrial civilization, once we began developing machines to make our lives easier, rockets that could leave the planet, atomic power, and began radiating electromagnetic signals that would make us brighter than almost anything else in the Solar System in that spectrum, they would come by to take a look. They would visit with more frequently...

And isn’t that the situation we have today? Reports of UFOs growing from the beginnings of the industrial revolution until we have the thousands of good, solid cases.

Don’t we have some good physical trace cases including radar/visual sightings? Aren’t there some good photographs that can only be explained as either alien spaceships or hoaxes with no middle ground? Aren’t there some very puzzling sightings that involve multiple witnesses, instrumentality and other evidence?

So, the answer to the Fermi Paradox might not seem so flippant when we look at all the evidence. Maybe the answer is that we have been visited but we have failed to recognize the visitors. We’re so busy arguing about the reality of UFO sightings that we have ignored the bigger questions which is who are they and why are they here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Betty Hill's Star Map

I was reading the National Geographic not all that long ago and was struck by a paragraph in a story about life on other worlds. It suggested that the search for extra solar planets was targeting M class dwarf stars, which, of course, include those known as Red Dwarfs. It mentioned that seven of the ten closet stars to Earth were dwarfs.

Here’s what struck me. I remembered reading about Marjorie Fish, the school teacher and amateur astronomer who had located the area of the sky that Betty Hill seemed to have drawn after seeing a star map on a UFO. Fish built a model (actually a series of models) of our section of the galaxy and viewed them from various angles until she found a pattern that was representative of the star map.

Don’t get me wrong. This was an impressive feat and took years to accomplish. In fact, it wasn’t until some of the star catalogs were updated with new and better information that she was successful.

Here’s where the problem arises. She assumed that the map represented our section of the galaxy, that alien travelers would be interested in stars of the same type as our sun, the travel patterns should make some sense and travel patterns would avoid the largest stars and those that are not on the main sequence (that is, stars that are basically stable for long periods of time and like our sun). These assumptions would become important later.

But others were also searching for the pattern. Charles W. Atterberg found a pattern that had Epsilon Eridani and Epsilon Indi as the base stars rather than Fish’s Zeta 1and Zeta 2 Reticuli. Atterberg’s map also fits with the Hill map, and two of the stars on it Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani were targets by Project Ozma, one of the first of the SETI searchs. In other words, astronomers involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligences believed that two of the stars in the Atterberg interpretation were likely candidates for planetary systems and intelligent life. Tau Ceti was also one of the candidates on the Fish map.

Suddenly we have two published interpretations of the Betty Hill's star map, both of which make sense (and I haven’t even discussed Betty Hill’s interpretation which was another section of the sky). But Marjorie Fish disagreed with Atterberg. Of the Atterberg interpretation, she noted that he had included some red dwarfs as stars visited by the aliens. She said that she had ruled out red dwarfs because there are so many of them and if she used red dwarfs in a logical construction, then all the lines were used before she reached Earth. She had assumed that the sun would be one of the stars connected to the others on the map although the "leader" of the alien crew had provided no indication that this was true.

She also assumed that if they, the aliens, were interested in red dwarfs, that is, that they visited some, then there should have been lines connecting other red dwarfs but there were not. Her assumption was that one red dwarf would be as interesting to a space faring race as the next. But it could be that some red dwarfs were more interesting because of things we could not see. Because we could detect no difference between one red dwarf and another doesn't mean that there aren't differences.

Fish made those assumptions thirty or forty years ago and they are now invalid. The article in National Geographic suggested that these M Class stars have long periods of stability, longer than those postulated for stars like our sun. While the dwarf stars are smaller, dimmer and cooler than the sun, they do have zones in which the conditions ideal for life as we know it exist and given the discovery of planets around some of these stars, including planets known as "Super– Earths," it is possible that life, including intelligent life, would be found on those planets.

There was also a recent announcement of a Super Earth that has oceans. This planet, thought to be about two and a half times the size of Earth, with a mean temperature higher than that on Earth, suggests that some dwarf stars might hold a great deal of interest for any space faring race. And while all stars that have planets where life is possible might not have life, some of them might and that would certainly make them interesting to space travelers.

What this means, simply, is that the criterion used by Marjorie Fish in her groundbreaking work should be revisited. With computer models available, scanning for the Betty Hill pattern wouldn’t take the years that Fish devoted to her search. We could now look at more stars closer to Earth because we have much better astronomical records and catalogs available. We might find a pattern closer to Earth and that might suggest to some where the search for extraterrestrial intelligence should be concentrated.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Predictions That Didn't Work Out

It is the time of the year when psychics trot out their predictions for the new year, and in this case, the new decade, if you believe the decade begins with a zero... and no, I don’t want to start a debate on this.

I bring this up because I have been converting my audio tapes to CDs, and in 1996, I interviewed Irene Hughes on my old radio show on KTSM-AM in El Paso, Texas. I wanted to get some predictions from her so that we might revisit them in the future and see how she had done. Well, she didn’t give us much to go on, remaining vague about what was going to happen, but we did pin her down a couple of times... and I have found other predictions she made over the years, predications, rather than claims of accuracy that were published after the fact.

One of the callers to the January 6, 1996 show wanted to know what the Stock Market would do. She talked about a four hundred point difference and how she had made that prediction prior to the crash of 500 points in the days before that happened in the late 1980s, all without answering his question. The caller asked where the market would be on December 31, 1996.

She said, "Sir, it will have crashed... I think it’s going to go way down... it’s going to lose a thousand points... this market is going to start losing a lot of points, like a thousand points and two weeks later, it may lose a thousand and then you see it trickle down a little, come up a little and trickle down... by the end of this year and April of next [1997] that [it’s] maybe 400 points..."

By the end of 1996, the Stock Market was up1400 points at 6448.27. The trend for the entire year was upward with the normal little retreats as the climb continued.

I tried to pin her down on the presidential election. She said that the Republicans were leaning toward Buchanan and that Dole would retire... but anyone paying attention to the election news at the time might have been able to predict that. The Republicans eventually selected Dole over Buchanan, but she was vague enough about exactly what she said and what she meant that she could call it a hit. I was left underwhelmed.

She said that Clinton would win in a landslide in 1996. But Clinton was the president and they aren’t defeated often. Clinton won, but not in a landslide. He didn’t even get 50% of the popular vote with a third party candidate bleeding off some of Dole’s support.

In a similar vain, back in the 1970s, Hughes predicted that Jimmy Carter would win a second term and he would have a black vice president. She said that Barack Obama would not win the presidency, and now says that he will be a one term president. She said that the president elected in 1980 would die in office and it would be somewhere near Russia. So far she was wrong on just about everything. We don’t know if Obama will only have one term.

She also suggested, back in the 1980s, that the two-party system would expand to three and that this new party, whatever it was, would win in 1984. Of course, there have been many attempts at creating a viable third party, but all have failed. Ross Perot came the closest but he self-destructed and we still have the two parties in power.

Of the Super Bowl that year, she said that it would be Kansas City and Green Bay, though that might change. In the end it was Dallas and Pittsburgh, which is what I said. I even said that Dallas would win by ten. She couldn’t even predict which two teams would be in the game, let alone predict the winner.

She predicted in 2007 that the Cubs would win the Pennant in 2008. They won their division but not the Pennant and they did not appear in the World Series.

She predicted that the Ayatollah Khomeini would be assassinated in 1983. He died of a heart attack, in a hospital, in 1989

I could go on, but is there a point? Her answers, for the most part were vague, and as she discussed things with the callers, I could hear her gathering information and then giving it back in different words. If a caller asked about finances, she talked a little about that and then said things should improve in the next year, especially after she learned that a caller was moving to another job.

She told a caller that he was involved with two children, meaning that there were two children somewhere in his life. He had no kids, he had no nieces or nephews, he wasn’t dating a woman with kids, but she insisted that there were two kids somewhere... maybe in the future.

I though she was rude to some of the callers but she was quick to take me to task as she was grilled by a caller. I should have stopped the call she said. But he was saying all the things I wanted to say, but felt, as the host, I had to be polite. Besides, had she been a true psychic, she should have known it was coming and been able to deal with it. She couldn’t... and that I suppose, says all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MJ-12 Survey Results

The first thing to say about this MJ-12 poll is that it was not scientifically conducted. That means, simply, that the participants were self-selected, which could skew the results.

I also noticed, though it was unintentional, that there were three positive answers and one negative. It means that I could group those three together since they suggested a belief that there was some merit to the MJ-12 documents. That too, would skew the results.

But, I could also group two of the answers together, meaning that now the negative answer could be paired with the needs more research answer and that too, could skew the results.

And, though people were only supposed to vote once, and there was supposed to be a restriction built into the poll, it was easily defeated which means that either proponents or opponents could have voted more than once.

Even with all that, nearly 50 percent believed that there was nothing more to be learned from MJ-12, or that they believed the documents were not authentic. About a quarter believed the documents authentic, though you can add those who believed the first few authentic so that over a third believed some or all of the documents are of value.

About an eighth thought that more research needs to be done, though I confess I don’t know what that research might be. Archives have been searched. Various government officials questioned and their records have been reviewed. The FBI and other government agencies have investigated this under the idea that true classified documents had been leaked but found no hint that this is the case. There is not a single, independent document that suggests any of MJ-12 is real.

In fact, there is new information to suggest that the Eisenhower Briefing Document, one of the first few, is a hoax. After the first of the year, I’ll be exploring this in more detail here. This is known as foreshadowing... or creating a cliffhanger ending.

In the end, it could be said that 62% (those who voted no and those who thought more research needed to be done] do not now accept the documents as accurate. About 37% believe that some of the documents are authentic. In other words, just under two-thirds of the respondents, believe there is nothing currently of value in MJ-12, and over one-third believe there to be some value in them.


We could say that just under half believe there is nothing to MJ-12 while just over half believe there is enough to MJ-12 to require additional research if you group the answers differently.

And, of course, these are opinions. I don’t know what the rational was for voting one way or another, and that could tell us something more about those responses. That too, could shade this poll.

These results, by the way, are similar to another unscientific poll I conducted about ten years ago and that is sad. It means that we’ve made no progress one way or the other.

Now, let the interpretations by others begin.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The UFO Supporters

For a long time I have been bothered by the term, "UFO Believer." It implies that we accept that some UFOs are alien spacecraft on faith rather than evidence. It suggests that our understanding of the UFO phenomenon is less than scientific.

At the far end of the spectrum are the UFO Debunkers*, who seem to be anti-believers, meaning they accept that there are no UFOs on faith rather than evidence. They know that if there is some evidence that UFOs represent alien visitation it must be faked. They know there are no alien spacecraft and that is the end of it.

Closer to the center point are the Skeptics. These are people who don’t know if there is alien visitation or not. They suspect there is none, but only because the case has yet to be proven, one way or the other, in their opinion. They will look at evidence, evaluate it based on their own understanding, training, education, and belief structures. They have open minds but require those of us who support the idea of alien visitation to prove it... and right they are.

There is, however, no word on the other side of the center, between that point and Believer. We are all lumped into a single category without consideration or thought. We are all Believers.

I purpose that we add a gradation to this that would rival Skeptic... (which, by the way, is a marvelous little word). I suggest that we become known as UFO Supporters because we accept that some UFOs are of alien creation but we simply don’t buy into everything from Exopolitics to cattle mutilations to the tales of the contactees, or this latest idea of a great air war between the US Air Force and the aliens in the 1950s.

Like the Skeptics, we will look at evidence, and if that evidence is weak, or nonexistent, then we are free to reject it, just as the Skeptics are. We aren’t True Believers just as the Skeptics aren’t Debunkers. We understand the gradations and we can look at the evidence.

If you spend much time studying the UFO situation, you’ll find that the Supporters are just as likely to provide a solid solution for a case as are the Skeptics. The Debunkers are just as likely to provide some far out solution as are the Believers to give us some outlandish claim.

So, I see it as Believers, Supporters, Skeptics and Debunkers. Now we can begin to find subcategories and really make this fun.

*In the real world, debunking is a good thing but in the world of the UFO, a Debunker is actually a Denier. Maybe that would be a better word for them, but I doubt that it will catch on.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I’m not a big fan of SETI but only because it seems to have made some early assumptions in its search for extraterrestrial intelligence that might be too human in nature. That is, originally, they were looking for radio signals at what the called the water hole or the most common radio frequencies because they believed that any advanced civilization would be using radio and looking in the same place. I can think of all sorts of things that are wrong with that assumption, but hey, you had to start somewhere. Yes, I know they have now expanded beyond that and that they can search huge portions of the sky fairly rapidly.

As one who supports the idea that some UFOs represent alien visitation, I was always a little annoyed at the SETI attitude that UFOs had nothing to do with what they were attempting to do. That is, contact an extraterrestrial intelligence. I’m not saying they should have signed up UFO supporters but they should have made a pass at that evidence in case there was something relevant to their search.

But, of course, I supported the idea behind SETI because if they were successful, then one of the reasons to reject UFOs as alien would be eliminated... just as the discovery of extra solar planets have eliminated one of the reasons.

Given all this, I was horrified to learn, according to KPHO-TV in Phoenix, that Brad Niesluchowski, had resigned as a teacher from the Highley Unified School District because he had signed up the district’s computers to participate in the SETI@home project (and for those of you who don’t know what it is, Google it).

A spokeswomen for the district said that they would support cancer research but not something like the search for "E.T." She pointed out that it was costing the district about a million a year to support the program because it kept the district’s computers working all the time which upped their utility fees and caused additional wear and tear on the computers causing more repairs and replacements.

Okay. Fair enough. If the fellow had done this on his own, and it was costing the district that much, then, hey, he made a bad call... except the software used to download the program had been authorized by a previous school administration.

Wait a minute. He didn’t decide for himself to do this. He got permission... then why is he out of a job and why is there now a police investigation? And this has been going on for ten years.

The SETI folks see him as a hero. I have to agree. Seems to me that someone in the school administration didn’t see that it was going to cost so much (and I wonder if it really does) but Nez, as he is known in the SETI world, got authorization to do it. Shut it down if you must but don’t punish the guy for something he was given permission to do.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UFOs and Full Disclosure

In October there was an announcement that the President would make a full disclosure about UFOs. He would tell the world on November 27, 2009, that we have been visited. Since this was to be full disclosure, I will assume that it would be an admission that these visitors were extraterrestrial in origin, that Roswell was the crash of an alien spacecraft, and abductions of humans by aliens was happening with frightening regularity.

I will note here that there was no such announcement on November 27.

I will remind you all that it was Dave Wilcox who said that Bill Ryan of Project Camelot who said that the announcement would be made on November 27. He also cautioned that if there was too much advance publicity, then the announcement would not be made. Apparently there was too much publicity and there was no hint of any such announcement.

For this, I suppose, I must take some responsibility because I did, after all, write about this. I know the White House, among other high level and extremely important government sources regularly read this blog. I can tell by the breakdown of readers based on the "Analytics" and they show people in Washington, D.C. who have visited these pages... though I wonder why they don’t disguise this by using a server outside of Washington... But I digress.

Well, I suppose I should just say, I told you so and let it go at that. No full disclosure this time, but surely something will be announced prior to December 21, 2012 when the world ends if it is nothing more than where we can catch a ride on a spaceship to save ourselves.