Thursday, December 26, 2019

Sincerity Is Not Synonymous with Accuracy

Dr. Christopher Cogswell and Marie Mayhew host the popular and informative The Mad Scientist Podcast. They recently wrapped up a six-episode, well-done series on Robert Bigelow. The series finale addressed salient issues of the Bigelow saga that are all too often omitted from discussion.

The podcast hosts contemplated the extent corruption may play a factor in deals such as Bigelow's corporation securing some $22 million in funds due to his pal, Senator Harry Reid. They also invited listeners to consider the many questions that remain when a band of researchers spend a lifetime failing upward. In spite of never producing anything more than theoretical papers and sensational claims absent evidence, some of those surrounding Bigelow secured funding that seemingly enabled them to spend entire careers pursuing pet - and fantastic - interests without ever substantiating virtually any of it. 

It's more than a little reminiscent of Sharon Weinberger's Imaginary Weapons, where the journalist pursues questions surrounding the credibility of researchers on the receiving end of DARPA funds awarded for a project set on developing a hafnium bomb. Qualified experts suggested the project was a scam, and in at least one instance the architect of the controversial work was outright called a charlatan. Trouble was, nobody keeping watch really understood the details of the arguments, while camps holding polar opposite views slung mud. One thing rang true, however: the camp making the claim and obtaining grant funds bore the burden of producing results, and experiments were often cited in which results could not be duplicated when checked for accuracy. Ultimately, DARPA discontinued the project - with no bomb and taxpayers none the better.

As podcasters Cogswell and Mayhew inspire us to consider, it can become difficult indeed to tell if people are simply blatantly dishonest or whether they, themselves, have become the most deceived of all by their very own rhetoric. How often do researchers continue to argue their position, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, and sincerely come to believe themselves visionaries, hindered by what they convince themselves are the ignorant masses who request proof of their beliefs presented as facts?

Let's consider the story of Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal, members of a California megachurch who's two-year-old daughter sadly died several days ago. Kalley is a singer and songwriter, and, in her understandable grief, called upon her social media faith fellowship to pray for the girl's resurrection. The initiative got significant attention, including a funding page which raised tens of thousands of dollars and what was reported as a world-wide prayer effort consisting of thousands of social media responses. And Bethel Church, which is the megachurch where the Heiligenthal's are members, was on board with the resurrection.

The church released statements to the effect its members believe in such miracles. It was reported that a pastor informed the congregation they were not mourning because "the Spirit" was expected to "wake the child from a sleep." The grieving couple has since decided to go forward with a memorial service for their daughter.  

I once lived in a community where a religious revival was held and the "fire fell." More people descended on the town daily. I heard about the sick being healed and the crippled rising to walk. It went on for days, probably weeks, but I'm not sure. At some point after the revival was moved to a large auditorium, seating thousands, I decided to go take a look since an X-Files episode was happening down the street.

There was a lot of music and emotionalism. There was dancing, singing, prayer... hope. There was hope for the desperate and lost, and I do not find this altogether problematic, not by any means, but where such hope and emotionalism are cultivated and nurtured, so do deceit and exploitation find hosts. 

Before the time the revival finally came to an end, resurrections were claimed. There was really no other way for it to go. It was nearly inevitable. You can't escalate forever without veering from reality. That's my line transitioning us back to ufology. 

I don't see the fire falling and the Bethel Church as entirely different circumstances than Bigelow and the researchers who surround him. Do they believe themselves? Maybe some of them do and some of them just think it's a pretty good gig, like some preachers who stand upon pulpits of emotion and rock n roll with advantageous lyrics. There are no doubt multiple layers of motives and intentions, but in the end, we must ask ourselves at what cost the belief: what cost to our wallets, what cost to our understandings of our universe, and what cost to our emotional well-being.

9 comments:

  1. Ah, what you mention here is just the slimy tip of the government contractor iceberg.

    I worked with a few contractors in DC. There are the big thieves (e.g., Lockheed Martin, Boeing, McKesson, etc.) and then there are the little thieves, the thousands of small contractors in the DC area who cobble together careers from seemingly chump change contracts (several thousand here; several thousand there) where all they produce is a cut and paste from other sources or re-worked, recycled document. These contractors cut across all Cabinet Departments from Education and HHS to Agriculture and DOD. They produce "studies" that are never passed up to the influencers to read but get stonewalled at mid-level and are filed and forgotten.

    Government contracting has been a gravy train since WWII and Bigelow simply jumped on board. UFOs have been his contracting side scam.

    You got it right, Jack. That government money changes hands doesn't mean a project, study or its conclusions are credible. It too often can mean someone scammed the government.


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    1. Yeah, it's looking like that's a big part of it, PG. Maybe a competent journalist will do a long term deep dive into this (similar to Weinberger's Imaginary Weapons), but, if they don't, there's a good chance the reason would be that people who believe Bigelow and his crew sans evidence never were relying on anything more than wishful thinking in the first place. They never cared about evidence. It's truly arguing religion at this point, and those worshiping at the UFO altar aren't the least bit interested in establishing facts.

      So, even though I'd very much like to see a thorough work on what's taken place, I could understand if no one wanted to bother. People often seem to already understand the process of establishing facts or either they're not going to consider the discrepancies any deeper when they're pointed out. It's not really educational opportunities that are lacking, but the willingness to sincerely look at the circumstances.

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    2. Well, hence an inherent trouble with the Black Budget. Can anyone really be auditing those funds to see which projects may have a legitimate chance for success and which ones are more "fanciful", and for that matter are said people really qualified as such?

      I read Imaginary Weapons back in Graduate School and I enjoyed it, but I will say that we also need to keep in check the programs that, although they sound like something out of Star Trek, are actually operational.

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    3. The Col. is kinda like the preacher/minister that
      no one is mentioning ( and the lovely Victoria on the psychic side is the heart) ‘in the desert contact’ with gov contracts like Gordon Novel’s
      RAM seeking 220 mil (it’s meant to be confusing).
      Mr. Bigelow is asking for peanuts in comparison and maybe he’s ‘beyond reason’ in the hands of the Minister -what have they been doing, really ?
      Mr. Hughes was a little nuts too.

      It’s important to recognize frauds and to recognize those who simply believe - belief in reason is still a belief - and there’s too few facts in this realm ….

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    4. Well stated mouseonmoon....and indeed before Bigelow there was a Rockefeller (Laurence maybe?)...

      Perhaps it is all just one big understanding, perhaps a certain Col just recognized that a funding opportunity presented itself. Perhaps, as a former program manager of a certain program, he recognized the similarities in what was being developed and what the UFO abductees were reporting. But, he knew it wasn't anyone in his program and his superiors thought it was ludicrous to "officially" check out. So, hey, maybe, cozy up to a deep-pocketed "eccentric" to do some "low-key research" and get to the bottom of it. Just engineer some quick special effects to keep the sponsor happy. You have to preach to your masses lol

      Hmmm, maybe it's the French who are really the ones behind it all. I knew GEIPAN was up to something; mwa-ha-ha ( - kidding of course) :-p )

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    5. Novel and Bigelow were ‘friends’- and obviously in the circle of the Col and his wife.
      For a truly ‘revealing’ side of Gordon check out the long interview with Kerry Cassidy (hour and a half ! and curiously if you search for it at YouTube re - Gordon Novel -it doesn’t come up ?)
      try > Project Camelot interviews Gordon Novel - YouTube Nov 15, 2007 -
      original interview Dec ’06

      U can read all sorts of things about everyone ( even what they’ve written), but actually seeing and hearing them will often change your perspective quite a bit.

      Around every corner is a surprise .
      Like the guitar player said about Bob Dylan,
      “He’s not like us.”

      Most of France is filled with aliens !

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    6. Googled and listened to it today. I wonder if he (Novel) knew Fred Crisman? Seems like they were hanging around some of the same people in Louisiana during the 60s...

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    7. good question - yet more from these murky waters ….

      J15/1:45 am

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  2. I just discovered they 77-79 Canadian TV series “Beyond Reason” - Allen Spraggett host and originator ( author , editor and newspaper columnist, former Evangelical Christian minister, and radio program host of “The Unexplained” -

    involved with and wrote about Bishop Pike, Arthur Ford, Kathryn Kulman and in 1976 “The Psychic Mafia” which was an expose explaining the way these things work from an admitted charlatan, ‘psychic medium’ Keene Lamar .

    The segments with Betty Hill, Stan Lee, Dr. Hynek and others are mind boggling.

    There are 3 ‘paranormal ‘ experts who attempt to identify these ‘mystery guests’.
    An astrologer is simply given the birthdate; a handwriting expert is given a sample of writing; a clairvoyant is given an object, and they are then able to make statements to the subjects,
    and then evaluated for ‘accuracy’.


    The show truly is ‘beyond reason’.


    Segments are available on line at CBC archives.

    CBC Player | Famous alien abductee Betty Hill on CBC game show Beyond Reason


    Foremost ufologist Dr. J. Allen Hynek illuminates Beyond Reason's psychic panel.

    CBC Player | Beyond Reason: the CBC game show with a paranormal twist

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