Wednesday, January 21, 2015
About those Blue Book UFO files... UPDATED
Ryan Mullahy posted the following in the Facebook group UFO UpDates:
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PROJECT BLUE BOOK FILES:
So the UFO researchers in this group are really going to sit silently while "UFO researchers" and "journalists" re-write UFO history for the sake of promoting a website? The Truth About The Project Blue Book Files:
- The Blue Book files have been available to the public since 1976 or earlier in physical archives.
- 50,000 Project Blue Book documents have been available on line at Archivist Rebecca Wise's Project Blue Book Archive since January 2005.
- fold.3 has had 129,658 Project Blue Book files online since 2008.
- I guess to Alejandro Rojas 6 years is "a few years."
Alejandro Rojas also inaccurately claims in his article that users have to pay a fee to download Project Blue Book Files from fold.3. This is untrue. A user only has to create a free account on fold.3 in order to download Project Blue Books documents. (Alejandro has since added a note to his article correcting himself about downloading from fold.3.) At least Kevin Randle had the guts to speak up.
Both Project Blue Book Archive and fold.3 have been amazing resources to me as a researcher for years, as they should be to any serious researcher, and I don't think Project Blue Book Archive or fold.3 deserve to be misrepresented and to have their contribution swept under the rug in a wave of misinformation like this.
It's great that there is another online source for the Project Blue Book documents, and I have no issue with the Black Vault, but this announcement shouldn't come at a cost of misleading and untrue news stories and a quasi re-writing of UFO history for the sake of a titillating news headline and the promotion of a website.
For the record, I have been answering many questions from media and UFO fans about this. Tempests and teapots come to mind.
Many people are pointing out: "But at least it gets everyone talking about UFOs, and in major media!"
Of course, that's the same argument about why Tweeting "disclosure" to politicians is a valid reason to do so.
And.... on February 6, 2015, John Greenewald posted:
It's a shame that this is the type of corporation Ancestry.com is. Their recent show of this is quite apparent in their statement about me personally -- especially since I peacefully complied with their demands -- and their attack and label on my is nothing short of saddening and pathetic.
In short, it's a mess.
Thursday, January 01, 2015
The myth of radioactive UFOs? Part 4: Condon et al.
The dubious nature of radioactivity claims regarding UFOs is nothing new. The information presented in this series of blog posts shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Over the years, there have been some red flags published regarding alleged UFO-related activity.
One of the most relevant was in the infamous Condon Report, which most ufologists agree was a public relations exercise more than a scientific study of UFOs. Yet within it are actually some excellent resources and discussions about the analysis of UFO data and evidence. the ultimate conclusion of Condon may have been flawed, but the contents of the report itself are very significant.
For example, in Chapter 3, on physical evidence, outspoken debunker Roy Craig noted:
The independent evidence most frequently claimed is presence of unusual radioactivity at the site. In cases where such claims were checked by our field teams, (32, 42) the claim was found to be untrue. In one case (22), radioactive material was found to be present by Canadian investigators and in other cases, (e. g. Fisherville, Va., 12-21-64) which could no longer be checked, testimony by persons other than the UFO observer supported a claim that the site was found to be radioactive. In such cases, however, if radioactive material actually were present, the possibility that it was placed there by humans cannot be ignored. If humans are known to have visited the site before official confirmation of presence of radioactive material has been made, and the material found is either a naturally occurring radioactive mineral or a commercially available luminous paint, the presence of this material serves to weaken any claim of strange origin of the markings.
The cases referred to by Craig were Case 32 (Snippy the horse mutilation) and Case 42 (Herb Schirmer CE3), where no radiation was ever detected. The other was Case 22, the Falcon Lake case, which Craig personally investigated and decided was a hoax.
Curiously, Craig also rejected the Fisherville case (http://www.ufocasebook.com/stauntonvirginia1964.html) even though it would have been supportive of radioactivity associated with a landed UFO. From the NICAP book UFOs: A New Look, published in 1969, the case involved an odd structed object that landed and left behind radiation that could be detected easily.
...a few days later, a local radio program announced the formation of a UFO investigations group at Eastern Mennonite College, under the direction of Dr. Ernest G. Gehman, a professor of German at the college. At his wife's urging, [the witness] got in touch with Gehman by way of the radio station to report his observation.
On December 31, Dr. Gehman traveled alone to the landing site and made a geiger counter test of the area. An extremely high reading was obtained, and was verified by the arrival of two DuPont research engineers who, having heard about the landing, had driven to the site the same day Dr. Gehman made his investigation.
In fact, Dr. Gehman had been able to locate the landing spot (later verified by the witness) by the readings on his Geiger counter.
But Craig thought the radioactivity had likely been planted by someone, probably the witness.
Craig pointed out the major problem in studying landing traces:
The existence of an imprint of odd shape or a circular area of crushed vegetation often can be established. Its mere existence does not prove, however, that the marking was made by a strange being or vehicle. Demonstration of a connection between such markings and strange objects has thus far not been accomplished. Attempts to establish such connection must still depend upon personal testimony. Generally, personal testimony includes the reported sighting of an UFO in the area of the discovered imprints or nest. Quite frequently, however, UFO origin of the markings is assumed, even though no UFO was seen in the area near the time the markings must have been made.
The last sentence is obviously true of modern-day physical trace cases, such as crop circles.
But then he sums up the problem of scientific study of UFO-related physical traces quite nicely:
Generally there are no physical tests which can be applied to a claimed saucer landing site to prove the origin of the imprints.
Yes, there it is. There is no way to prove scientifically that a UFO left behind a physical trace. So the value of field investigation is what, exactly?
And so it goes.
The myth of radioactive UFOs? Part 3: The origin of the myth
In the first two parts of this discussion, I showed how none of the classic UFO cases said to have associated radioactivity have been established as such without dispute. Further, there are many cases in which observed effects of UFOs are assumed to have been caused by radiation, without any detection of this mechanism. Most UFO stories involving radiation are simply anecdotal, without any evidence or factual details to back up the claims.
In the few cases where there were actual radiation measurements taken, the results are apparently in some doubt due to equipment failure or operator error.
If this is all true, then why do many UFO buffs assume that UFOs are radioactive? It's common for UFO groups' field investigators to be versed in the use of Geiger counters, but why, if radioactivity is a non-issue?
It may have all started with Ruppelt.
In his classic seminal work The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, published in 1956, Edward Ruppelt has a chapter titled The Radiation Story. http://www.nicap.org/rufo/rufo-15.htm
In it, he described how (as he called it) a "rumor" changed the direction of military saucer research in the USAF. He wrote:
In the fall of 1949, at some unspecified place in the United States, a group of scientists had set up equipment to measure background radiation, the small amount of harmless radiation that is always present in our atmosphere. This natural radiation varies to a certain degree, but will never increase by any appreciable amount unless there is a good reason.
According to the rumor, two of the scientists at the unnamed place were watching the equipment one day when, for no apparent reason, a sudden increase of radiation was indicated. The radiation remained high for a few seconds, then dropped back to normal. The increase over normal was not sufficient to be dangerous, but it definitely was unusual. All indications pointed to equipment malfunction as the most probable explanation. A quick check revealed no obvious trouble with the gear, and the two scientists were about to start a more detailed check when a third member of the radiation crew came rushing into the lab.
Before they could tell the newcomer about the unexplained radiation they had just picked up, he blurted out a story of his own. He had driven to a nearby town, and on his return trip, as he approached the research lab, something in the sky suddenly caught his eye. High in the cloudless blue he saw three silvery objects moving in a V formation. They appeared to be spherical in shape, but he wasn't sure. The first fact that had hit him was that the objects were traveling too fast to be conventional aircraft. He jammed on the brakes, stopped his car, and shut off the engine. No sound. All he could hear was the quiet whir of a generator in the research lab. In a few seconds the objects had disappeared from sight.
After the first two scientists had briefed their excited colleague on the unusual radiation they had detected, the three men asked each other the $64 question: Was there any connection between the two incidents? Had the UFO's caused the excessive radiation?
And that was how it started. The time of the radiation anomaly and the passing of the saucers were closely correlated. Ruppelt notes that it would have all ended there, except that he tracked down the witnesses and the scientists and learned more details. The result was that considerable time and money and personnel were commissioned to investigate the saucer/radiation correlation, even to the point of setting up observation posts. And in July of 1951, there was a simultaneous radar/visual observation of some saucers that was also coincidental with a bump in radioactivity.
And yet, even with the instrumented data collected by the military operation, the project was shelved because:
No one could explain the sudden bursts of radiation, but there was no proof that they were associated with UFO's.
And that was it.
Support for Ruppelt's story can be found in the Blue Book archives. In the Maxwell AFB Blue Book files, MAXW-PBB1-738, there is a reference to an event at Mt. Palomar in October 1949, where a saucer was seen and radiation detected.
The incident was investigated thoroughly by the Navy and the conclusion was that it had just been a coincidence combined with equipment failure.
There are many more references to "radiation" and "radioactivity" in the Blue Book files, many pages of which detail Ruppelt's investigation of the reports.
And one page in particular may shed the most light, MAXW-PBB7-930:
It's important to remember that the original event occurred in 1949, only a few years after Hiroshima. And nuclear research was well underway at Los Alamos and other nearby military installations. The possibility that UFOs were nuclear powered military aircraft flown by other countries was considered very great.
In fact, in 1946, the USAF created the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project, which was replaced by the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program in 1951 but closed down in 1961. A nuclear powered aircraft was never successfully tested during the project run.
(It's interesting to note that this project was one of the first assignments for ufologist Stanton Friedman as he began his career as a nuclear physicist.)
So it would appear that the use of Geiger counters by military UFO investigators was more for the detection of Russian nuclear aircraft rather than anything extraterrestrial. And so, the continued use of Geiger counters by ufologists today may be irrelevant to the subject.