Wednesday, October 24, 2018

We Didn't Start the Liar

There is such an overwhelmingly high number of incredible claims in ufology it can be challenging to apply some context. Given that is the case, it can be frustrating when people sometimes so adamantly demand more claims be accepted without providing adequate supporting evidence. They'll give us the evidence later, or let us in on the big news when they're able, they tell us.

Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter served as director
of the Central Intelligence Group and CIA
from May 1, 1947 to Oct. 7, 1950,
and was on the board of governors of the
National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena
from 1957 to 1962
During recent correspondence, a well-read UFO friend wrote that sometimes they think modern day UFO stories began as some kind of disinformation campaign which snowballed. Perhaps some of it involved something genuinely intangible, but maybe the topic was manipulated for various reasons. Everything then seemed to go crazy in the 1950's, they added, and then here we are.

I think a solid argument can be made to that effect. People have been seeing all kinds of things they can't explain throughout history, and their personal conditioning determines what they think they saw. It's part of the human experience. We're often predisposed to premature conclusions.

Just a few well orchestrated UFO hoaxes and state-sponsored disinformation campaigns could effectively provide enough material to allow future opportunists, sincere yet incorrect researchers, and confused individuals to continue to unwittingly propagate the stories. We see things, don't know what we saw, and fill in the blanks based on information - accurate or otherwise - we've been previously provided.

The manipulation of the UFO topic since the mid 20th century has nothing to do with what genuinely unusual phenomena may or may not exist and have been reported throughout history. It's potentially a completely different topic, other than the occasional possible overlapping of reports which may involve genuinely unusual phenomena and their misinterpretations due to widely accepted yet unsupported assumptions.

Alien appendages, according to Robbert van den Broeke
A significant point is verifying claims prior to accepting them as fact. Prematurely accepting invalid claims puts us at risk of unintentionally perpetuating hoaxes and incorrect beliefs, which spread exponentially as we each pass them along. This stands to detrimentally affect how others interpret their experiences, and who they each influence in turn, and so on.

To bring this full circle and back to where we started, there is such a high number of sensational yet highly speculative UFO-related circumstances it is completely unreasonable to criticize those who request supporting evidence. I put together the following list, to the tune of Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire, of just a small fraction of researchers who promote such circumstances, along with a small sample of references to dubious instances. Maybe if someone asks why I keep going on about facts and conclusive evidence, I'll give them a link to this post and say, “Well, here are just a few reasons, for starters."

We Didn't Start the Liar

Maury Island, Groom Lake, Crop Circles, Heaven's Gate,
Tom Carey, Aviary, Meier's bin lid.
“Anonymous” was CIA, ET hybrid DNA,
Disclosure, film exposure, van den Broeke's squid.

Stephen Bassett, Steven Greer, Ata Boy ain't from here,
Howard Menger, autopsy, secret moon base.
Adamski, Adam Dew, beWITNESS pay per view,
Imbrogno, Bigelow, the Linda case.

We didn't start the liar
It was always scheming since the world's been dreaming
We didn't start the liar
But we did incite it with the foo fighters

Larry Warren's Rendlescam, Hopkins, Jacobs, Barbara Lamb,
Fastwalkers, Skinwalker, Morton jumped bail.
Carpenter, Bob Lazar, super soldier brawl on Mars,
MJ-12, Hangar 1, Steinberg email.

Gulf Breeze, Bill Knell, Pennsylvania's Roswell,
Don Schmidt, Yvonne Smith, and the STAR Team.
Chilean UFOs, Romanek videos,
Penguin, Falcon and strawberry ice cream!

We didn't start the liar
It was always scheming since the world's been dreaming
We didn't start the liar
But we did enable with some roundtables

Mock Congress presentations, cattle and human mutilations,
Leslie Kean, Wild Bill, talk radio.
Under Dulce they were fighting, Martin's automatic writing,
Roger Leir, John Lear, channeling, and Serpo.

John Ventre, Face on Mars, Alexander, To The Stars,
Implants, Jones rants, Sirius crowd fund.
Bill Moore story telling, Dolan found the slides compelling,

We didn't start the liar
It was always scheming since the world's been dreaming
We didn't start the liar
But when we are gone it will still go on and on and on...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Advocating Higher Research Standards

The late Aladino Felix was the leader of a Brazilian right-wing paramilitary group, fought in World War II, and claimed to be the messiah of the Jewish people. As The Guardian reports, Felix wrote a book called My Contact with Flying Saucers in which he claimed to be in contact with extraterrestrials. He wrote the book under the pseudonym Dino Kraspedon.

Cult leader, false flag terrorist,
& self-proclaimed contactee, Aladino Felix
During the 1960's Felix led a group of police officers which carried out violent false flag terrorist attacks as a means to what they believed was a justifiable end: Brazilian dictatorships. Some 14 bombs were detonated by the group while the opposition was blamed for the attacks; a governing iron fist was supposedly required to protect the good citizens from the lawless terrorists. Targets included a bank and the Sao Paulo stock exchange before Felix was arrested in 1968 and served three years in prison. 

"He was seen as a crazy guy," said investigator Vasconcelo Quadros, "but he had a relationship with the authorities."

We could speculate how much that relationship influenced his decision to claim he knew extraterrestrials, or to what extent he thought such a claim would further his far right-wing agenda. What is relatively clear, however, is people might have a lot of undisclosed yet relevant circumstances surrounding their extraordinary claims. 

Fact-checking and suspending judgment pending conclusive information are essential. It's also important to remember it's no one's responsibility to deny a claim or sort out convoluted, cryptic statements released piece meal. It's the responsibility of an individual and an organization to present their material in competent, coherent manners in the first place, and to provide evidence justifying conclusions. Don't rationalize and make excuses for anything less.

The UFO genre contains a well documented, bulging archive of empty claims that were not only initially accepted without question, but in many cases continue to be promoted after reasonably shown to be false. Such circumstances are by no means limited to distant Cold War games of yesteryear, but also include much more recent events.

Oh, those drones
For those who are newer to the steeplechase or show a lack of willingness to keep such incidents in current discussions, we might reminisce about the great drone hoax. Photos and witness accounts started popping up, seemingly corroborating one another, yet diligent researchers found problems with the photos. Then the alleged witnesses didn't pan out. By that time, the story had legs, was covered by some higher profile UFO personalities and radio shows, and there are still some who will label you a debunker for desiring more evidence of the drone invasion than a picture on a social media account. 

There was the Great Lakes Dive Company case in 2006 in which someone claimed to have striking evidence of a crashed UFO on the floor of a lake. It was a rather complexly executed chain of events in which supporting materials included alleged sonar images which could not be authenticated and an AP story submitted to an e-list which was almost certainly hoaxed. When James Carrion bird dogged the case, including holding the self-described spokesperson of the dive company accountable for his claims, the case fell apart. If you never heard of it, that's probably the main reason why.

The Roswell Slides fiasco was one of the most absurd examples of claims demanded to be accepted absent evidence the genre has ever seen, which is really saying something. Suffice it to say it didn't work out. 

And then there was - oh, never mind.
In 2012 Leslie Kean dramatically promoted a case of what turned out to be an insect caught on camera during an airshow in Chile. She doubled down and the second Chilean case didn't hold water either. Kean's work was previously drawn into question when she chose to ignore conflicting points in one of her favored cases when the discrepancy was brought to her attention by a group of researchers at Reality Uncovered discussion forum. Moreover, Kean credulously supported the James Mortellaro case, a man in the Budd Hopkins entourage of alleged alien abductees. 

The case fell apart terribly, resulting in a great deal of embarrassment for all involved. Among other problems, Hopkins and Mortellaro never produced supporting medical documentation they long promised was forthcoming. Hopkins repeatedly urged others to trust that the medical evidence was for real (Please note the problematic nature of assuring the public something is forthcoming rather than producing it in the first place). Mortellaro eventually came up with an alleged medical report, supposedly documenting his abduction-related injuries and their miraculous healing, but it was identified by medical professionals as a fabrication. Hopkins' own foundation announced the case was deemed not worthy of further investigation, credible evidence was never produced, and that alleged official documents proved to be fabricated.

Which brings us back to Kean and claims not proportionate to the evidence. Maybe the 2017 articles, in which Kean was involved, on the AATIP were completely accurate. The problem is we have not yet been shown if that is so. Specifically, buildings were reported to have been modified for the storage of debris - alloys, it was reported - retrieved from, basically, UFOs. It was also reported that UFO witnesses were examined for physiological changes. Verification of such claims would be appreciated, and, given the history of the UFO genre, it's unreasonable to even expect, much less demand, such claims be accepted on trust and without question.

We regularly observe in TTSA a problematic and irrational method of operation: TTSA personnel release a statement or make a claim, then deny accountability for the situation. They accuse those of being unfairly critical who request verification for the claim, or for requesting further clarification on a talking point TTSA itself introduced. This is unreasonable, no matter what evidence may eventually be produced, and should be universally recognized as unreasonable throughout the community.

The above bogus cases are but a small sample of the hoaxes and incorrect claims regularly dispersed to the UFO community. We could make a list that would read like Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. Given that verifiable situation, settling for less than authentic documentation is not only ill advised and in contradiction to professional research standards, it's a fool's errand.

It is not anyone's responsibility to deny or disprove a claim. It is the responsibility of a professional researcher to provide adequate documentation to support their point in the first place. Demand it, and call it out when you see otherwise.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

TTSA Report to SEC: Garry Nolan Resigns from Advisory Board, $37 Million Deficit

A financial report submitted by To The Stars Academy (TTSA) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states the resignation of Advisory Board member Dr. Garry Nolan was effective Aug. 31. The report for the fiscal semiannual period ending June 30, 2018, discloses financial data, including an accumulated deficit in excess of $37 million. 

Dr. Nolan is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University. His involvement in the UFO community includes work on what came to be known as the Starchild skull. He was also involved in controversial analysis of the Atacama skeleton prior to serving on the TTSA Advisory Board. Offered an opportunity to comment on his resignation, Dr. Nolan replied in an Oct. 3 email:

The answer is really quite straightforward.
I had a number of conflicts of interest with my current employment agreement at Stanford and with other, purely conventional, mainstream business interests.  I remain fully supportive of the goals and ideals of TTSA.  I plan to advise them as needed-- while remaining under no long-standing contractual framework.  Of course, I might from time to time enter into a short term CDA on matters that arise, especially with respect to my academic scientific interests and where I might be able to provide relevant expertise.
As I see it, this is more in alignment with my academic work and will (hopefully) ensure I maintain maximum credibility on matters related to the Phenomena.  This should eliminate any financial or other conflicts vis-à-vis TTSA in how I discuss such matters.  I certainly look forward to the continued success of the TTSA enterprise and I remain good friends with, and a colleague of, all the individuals on the TTSA team.  As you know, I am one of the few "mainstream" scientists willing to openly discuss matters related to this area of interest, and I expect to continue my public, and private, interest in the arena.

Operations and Finances

TTSA stated it continues to conduct meetings with potential strategic partners, including the U.S. government, in the report submitted to the SEC. Details were not specified. Also reported was the closing of over a million dollars in funding:

However, TTSA declared an accumulated deficit of $37,432,000. "These factors raise doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern," the report states. TTSA indicates it will continue to offer the sale of common stock to third parties and use a revolving line of credit to try to fund operations. 

"If we are unable to obtain sufficient amounts of additional capital," it explains, "we may be required to reduce the scope of our planned operations, which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results."

The accounting firm of Louis Tommasino, CPA, who is listed as TTSA Chief Financial Officer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment and further clarification. TTSA also did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the report and deficit.

Related reading on the topic includes Robert Sheaffer's March 3, 2018 post at his blog, Bad UFOs. Sheaffer describes his visit to the office of Tommasino to inquire about discrepancies in financial circumstances surrounding To The Stars Academy as reported by Dun and Bradstreet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hunt for the Skinwalker-DIA Connection

Claims of intelligence agency involvement in UFO and paranormal research have been abundant since the 2017 NYT story on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Some of the suspicions of relationships between the intelligence and UFO communities were confirmed and others are certainly warranted. Yet other such connections are rather loosely formed and lack substantiation while nonetheless increasingly taken for granted as common knowledge. 

Alleged Defense Intelligence Agency involvement at Skinwalker Ranch is one such often vaguely described circumstance. While a significant Skinwalker-DIA connection may eventually prove valid to some extent, its verification is elusive. It's important we proceed carefully in drawing conclusions, and perhaps wait to do so until adequate evidence is readily available.

George Knapp has long been central to the Skinwalker saga. On the heels of the well known NYT story, Knapp reported NIDS work at the ranch and his related book "caught the attention of the DIA and Senator Reid." Perhaps so. It would be both helpful and interesting to know what specific DIA personnel, as well as how the events unfolded. 

Others have been much more direct and conclusive in putting the DIA at Skinwalker, though evidence is lacking and not in proportion to their seeming certainty. In statements published in June at Mysterious Universe, filmmaker Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell discussed what he described as learning about DIA involvement at the ranch. "The DIA attempted to scientifically investigate the occurrences experienced at Skinwalker Ranch," Corbell further stated.

"The fact that the United States government was involved at all is fascinating," he added. The full paragraph, quoted for context:

Like most people, I first heard about Skinwalker Ranch from the book, Hunt For The Skinwalker by George Knapp and Dr. Colm Kelleher. I was initially drawn by the stories about a broad scale of paranormal events, and my interest was cemented years later when I learned about the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) involvement, even though I could not publicly acknowledge it. The DIA attempted to scientifically investigate the occurrences experienced at Skinwalker Ranch. Investigators used the unique location as a “living laboratory,” attempting to understand for themselves the varied phenomena that display on and around the property. One of the aims was to determine if The Phenomenon presented a threat to National Security, and another was to attempt to determine the mechanisms utilized by The Phenomenon. The fact that the United States government was involved at all is fascinating.

A request for further comment was sent to an email address offered at Corbell's website. I asked if a source could be provided for the assertion the DIA was involved at Skinwalker Ranch. Also requested were comments and supporting materials that would help clarify such involvement. Corbell did not immediately respond.

I empathize a great deal with finding such info of interest, but I strongly urge those relaying it to provide the supporting docs and sources if possible. I'd also encourage the rest of us to delay making up our minds about the circumstances until such supporting evidence is publicly available.

Moreover, I invite consideration we can't know if such work was actually scientific if we aren't informed how it was conducted and what took place. Casual and incorrect use of the term "scientific" to describe activities undertaken in UFO and paranormal genres should often receive much more scrutiny, in my opinion. That's the case whether or not Corbell may prove to be correct about his expressed understandings of the Skinwalker situation.

Robert Bigelow
In years past I sought evidence through the Freedom of Information Act for IC involvement with Robert Bigelow-founded organizations National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) and Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS). FOIA requests submitted to multiple agencies returned no results, but I did not specifically query DIA until more recently. 

A request submitted to DIA in late 2017, seeking copies of contracts undertaken with and funding provided to NIDS, resulted in no responsive documents. In the wake of the latest wave of assertions that Skinwalker research involved DIA, I additionally asked specifically about BAASS. I submitted an FOIA request to DIA seeking contracts and files pertaining to BAASS. To be clear, this is not the same as previous yet to be filled FOIA requests seeking documents concerning the AATIP. DIA responses are pending on involvement with BAASS as well as records on the AATIP.

There are several complications with the increasingly popular assertions of the Skinwalker-DIA connection. The time frame becomes a point of question, and Bigelow's involvement is a potential source of confusion. The overlapping presence of various researchers and personnel of TTSA, intelligence agencies, and Bigelow organizations may also lead to incorrect assumptions and premature conclusions. 

Luis Elizondo of To The Stars Academy
Some of the vague generalizations offered by not just interested parties, but sometimes TTSA leaders and self-described insiders, are troubling, or at the least lack substantiation. It is such very generalizations that tend to cause some researchers to suspect several UFO-related topics are being haphazardly inserted into discussions of the scope of the AATIP. Some of those topics may in actuality amount to little more than recreational and unofficial interests of those formerly involved in the AATIP. The bottom line is details must be verified, not just inferred or asserted absent documentation.

Personally, I suspect the intelligence community may well have been officially involved in research at Skinwalker Ranch. However, I am not convinced the purposes were entirely limited to the more popularly accepted assumptions or, if so, that the work bore substantial results. I'm also not convinced the acting agency necessarily or exclusively would have been DIA. Most of all, I'd prefer to suspend judgment until conclusive information is actually available.

Verifying any such involvement, establishing if it was related to science-based research, and identifying the objectives remain critical to understanding the full extent of the situation. We simply cannot do so until we have the opportunities to view authentic documents clarifying funding entities, project objectives, methodologies, means of measuring progress, and similar relevant information.  

Perhaps in the end what TTSA, Bigelow orgs, and the Skinwalker saga teach us, at least in part, is that if people desire to present information in coherent, systematic and clear ways, they do so. If the issues are muddled and confusing, perhaps we should more deeply consider the extent they actually want us to fully understand their activities. It is not our responsibility to go behind people making claims and fact-check their statements; it is their responsibility to offer conclusive evidence in the first place when they frame their claims as fact. 

The only way to actually gain insight into what an intelligence agency claims took place within any given project is to obtain the verifying documents. If people cry foul, trying to lead us to believe otherwise and relax our standards, it is completely reasonable to inform them conclusions cannot be drawn until the available evidence allows.