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.


  1. I notice the long-ago debunked "Black Knight" satellite fairy tale has been resurrected and is currently making the rounds. Ufology is populated by zombies . . . soundly debunked claims that never die. They just keep being raised from the dead in an effort to suck in and create new believers.

    A couple of years ago I listened to a podcast (wish I could remember which one) where Carol Raney, Budd Hopkins ex-wife, was interviewed. Up until then I sort of had hopes that Leslie Kean really was a serious investigative journalist looking into UFOs. But in that podcast, in so many words, Raney warned that Kean wasn't to be trusted. Turned out Raney was correct about Kean. Sigh.

    If Ufology has a high road, it must be a very lonely one.

    1. I too was disappointed to learn about Kean's lack of professionalism. Her book seemed sober and conservative, wisely not embracing the extraterrestrial hypothesis to the exclusion of all else.

      FWIW, I think we heard the same podcast - I think it was Paratopia.

  2. How TTSA acts is fairly suspicious to me. It just seems like some sort of PSYOP. Ultimately if it is who knows what the real purpose of it may be. It may have nothing whatsoever to do with UFOs. Delonge may have been picked because he is gullible enough to spread the word that 'they' want him to and famous enough to have people pay attention. In the end though he may be just another Bennewitz or LMH being taken on a ride by some intelligence group for reasons we may never know and targeting areas we'd never think about.

  3. You must research claims of sightings. Having said that I know what I saw. 20' away, no doubt it wasn't a human craft. How can I prove it. I can't so I never said a word until n.

  4. The New Age and Ufology have also been merged. Now we have aliens spouting all the tired cliches of the New Age about Ascension and creating your own reality, blah, blah, blah. Ufology has become an area of BELIEF rather than objective science and observation. I have been told many times when I refused to believe something like Jonathan Reed's frozen burrito alien in the garage freezer that I simply have too low a consciousness and that I need to raise my vibration before I can accept the truth (copywrite pending). I am extremely jaded and believe nothing.

  5. Linda Moulton Howe has called herself a science reporter while embracing any number of stories that have no substance. The self-described journalist Kerry Cassidy is now up to nine interviews with Mark Richards. Sean David Morton continues to write from prison, using Ancient Aliens to confirm cosmic matters or claiming (on matters closer to earth) that there are 51,709 sealed indictments on PACER.

    The local MUFON leader embraces "all things fringe"

    It's easy to dismiss all of that. But the difference between the certified fringe and those like Dolan, Kean, or the TTSA seems to be only a matter of degree. The underlying methodology is the same.

    It would be more entertaining if it were just limited to ufology. The rise of QAnon, the flight from science (such as rejecting climate change as a hoax) or the way that legitimate reporting is dismissed as "fake news" point to fundamental shifts that affect the way people think.

    While holding on to professional research standards is important - and perhaps never more important - at the moment I am not very optimistic about our capacity for critical thought.

    1. It's my strongly held belief, that the emergence of the Internet culture has led to the de-evolution of the human intellect. We've lost whatever ability we had to use logic and critical thinking when faced with claims and assertions that even on their face make no sense whatsoever.