Tag Archives: Book Review

The Never-Ending Search for UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence

The Never-Ending Search for UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence

     Back in 1950, during a lunch break at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, several scientists were trading wisecracks about a recent spate of UFO reports when Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi offered an observation that has echoed through the decades. Given the number of places where life could exist in the vast universe, and
By Sarah Kaplan
The Washington Post

the length of time it has had to evolve, the skies ought to be teeming with beings from advanced, space-faring civilizations — but nothing incontrovertible has shown up. You have to wonder, as Fermi did, “Where is everybody?”

His colleagues chuckled, but the “Fermi paradox” perfectly frames the profound absurdity of the search for life beyond Earth. Humans have beamed beacons into space, robotically visited every world in the solar system and discovered thousands of planets circling stars far from our own. Yet all we’ve encountered is a chilly void.

Still, the possibility that something is out there calls to us.

Three new books approach the mystery from distinctly different perspectives: the unlikely believer in UFOs, the visionary dedicated to rigorous investigation and the cadre of scientists who still plug away at the problem, probing the universe for an answer.

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Close Encounters: Why UFOs Are Having a Moment

Close Encounters: Why UFOs Are Having a Moment

A new biography on scientist Dr. J. Allen Hynek shows that we might be on the verge of another cluster of UFO sighting reports

     When the unassuming turn of phrase “unidentified flying object” was coined in the 1940s, it was intended to suggest that the objects in question were nothing more mysterious than a rogue weather balloon or an unfamiliar aircraft. UFOs have since become synonymous
By Annaliese Griffin
Rolling Stone

with aliens, from cartoon flying saucers, to abduction stories, to X-Files-style conspiracy theories – in the popular imagination their mystery has been solved, UFOs equal aliens, whether you’re a true believer or not. This unshakable association came to be despite the diligent work Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a scientist who became convinced that we truly could not identify some objects in our skies, and kept pushing throughout his life for a scientific explanation, while keeping open every possibility, some of them way further out there than little green men.

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Dr. J. Allen Hynek: Ufology is a Mess

J Allen Hynek

     “Ufology today is in the state I would say chemistry was when chemistry was alchemy, a mixture of superstition, wild ideas, unproved claims, and yet out of that whole mess, finally the very first class science of chemistry evolved. And I think the same thing is going to happen eventually with Ufology, but right now, it is a mess. …”
By Curt Collins
Blue Blurry Lines

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U.S. Air Force ‘UFO Cover-Up’ Revealed

It Never Happened U.S. Air Force Cover-Up Revealed (By David Schindele)

Capt. David D. Schindele
     Capt. David D. Schindele was a Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile launch crew commander in the Minot Air Force Base missile field when
By www.minotdailynews.com

he experienced a situation in which a flying object took down all 10 of the nuclear-tipped missiles he was responsible for, causing them to be unlaunchable. That was 50 years ago.

Air Force officials instructed Schindele never to speak about the incident and as far as he was concerned, it never happened. Schindele was at a launch control facility near Mohall when the incident occurred.


“It Never Happened, Volume 1: U.S. Air Force UFO Cover-up Revealed” (BUY IT HERE)is the title of Schindele’s new book about the Air Force’s cover-up of the UFO (unidentified flying objects).

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Secret Truth Behind America’s ‘UFO Highway’ | VIDEO

Secret Truth Behind America's 'UFO Highway'

     Flying saucers and visits from extraterrestrials have long been a source of fascination in American culture. There are many who believe aliens and their ability to visit Earth are a fact, and some are willing to

go to great lengths to prove it. That’s the subject of author Ben Mezrich’s new book, “The 37th Parallel,” which tells the story of one man’s 30-year quest to prove aliens are real. Mezrich joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss the book and the so-called “UFO Highway.” …

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Bad UFOs by Robert Sheaffer – A Review

Bad UFOs

By Curt Collins

      Robert Sheaffer has been covering the UFO beat a long time, reading the literature, attending conferences, corresponding, debating with the players, and has become a part of its history. In the book,“Bad UFOs: Critical Thinking About UFO Claims,” Sheaffer covers a range of UFO cases, topics and personalties from the dawn of the era, up to recent events. Frankly, some of which read like a hall of shame, and it could have been titled, UFOlogy’s Greatest Misses.” I can picture some scoundrels in UFOtown tearing through the pages, praying that their products and names aren’t in it. Sheaffer does mention a few good eggs along the way, “UFO realists,” but as the title suggests, he’s focused on the bad ones.

Robert Sheaffer, meanie. That’s what some UFO buffs have heard, and skeptics and debunkers are supposed to be attacking the very existence of UFOs, close-minded to the point of denying the truth, and rumor has it that some of them are even discrediting witnesses and evidence. Trace those tales to the source, and you’ll see they originated with phonies who didn’t want their carnival act exposed, people like Silas Newton, George Adamski and Jaime Maussan. The truth is more complicated, but then, that’s why so few people bother with it.

What many UFO/ET proponents fail to appreciate about skeptics and debunkers is that the devils are observing the same kind of claims about extraordinary things on a range of other topics, not just UFOs. There’s more in common with UFOs, Ghost, Bigfoot and Nessie than the ET camp would like to admit, and it lies in the seeker. It’s about the quest for something extraordinary, with belief driving the investigation. The big problem there is that they regularly accept insubstantial evidence if it bolsters their beliefs. Witness testimony is subject to great problems ranging from accuracy to authenticity, and the record of photo and physical evidence shows an alarmingly high tolerance for counterfeits. Sheaffer sees the absurdity and humor in the UFO circus, something the field seems incapable of seeing about itself. Worse, they seem incapable of dealing with frauds, and policing themselves. Like disgraced televangelists, if they have an apology or excuse, proven UFO scoundrels are welcomed back into the fold.

Bad UFOs - Table of Contents

One recurring theme in Sheaffer’s book is that a UFO claim surfaces, gets embraced by the ET camp, and then is fiercely defended against not only challenges to its authenticity, but even logical questions about it. They get sour when it falls flat, but they are willfully ignoring their own statistics. According to MUFON, 80 to 90% of UFO reports crumble after being investigated, the remnant serving to keep hope alive, designated as “unknowns.” By cherishing UFO stories before all the facts are in, frequent disappointments are assured.

Sheaffer holds up a mirror to the UFO circus, and many in it won’t like the picture. Where I disagree with Sheaffer is over the conclusion that the study of UFOs is futile. My personal opinion is that it ufology should work towards co-operating with existing astronomical and meteorological projects, instead of trying to re-invent or duplicate them. Sheaffer convincingly makes the case that the current value or purpose of UFO study is only self-perpetuation, promoting UFO beliefs: that there’s a mystery and behind it is ET visitation.

The book discusses several key cases, some in detail, others in passing, including famous sightings from Kenneth Arnold to Kenju Terauchi’s report of a giant spaceship to recent cases. In these, he points out the recurring problems with the evidence or the interpretation of it. So often, it comes down to stories, and looking at the alien abduction accounts from Betty and Barney Hill to Emma Woods, these incredible tales emerged through hypnosis. In other stories, like those of Roswell alien bodies and the conflicting claims at Rendlesham Forest, Sheaffer shows that many of the heavily-promoted UFO tales have plot holes, big black plot holes, big enough to swallow planet Nibru.

Chances are, if you are seeing this, you’ll read a UFO book or two this year, and “Bad UFOs” should be one of them. If you are used to taking UFO stories on faith alone, you may want to throw it across the room a few times. Instead, take one of the cases discussed and look up the documentation for it, and to see for yourself if the facts back up the legends you’ve been told about it. The cases that hold up to the challenges of skeptics are the one really worth pursuing.

About the UFOs being spacecraft, Sheaffer also reintroduces some hard scientific facts that many ET proponents don’t know, or choose to ignore about the overwhelming physical impracticality of interstellar space travel. Even folding or warping space seems out of the realm of possibility, and to make it work, something like magic must be needed. Just how are the visitors getting here? Perhaps believing is the key to seeing. Dr. Steven Greer can lead you through meditation to summon and communicate with ETI spacecraft. Sometimes, you won’t see them at first, but with patience, Greer can teach you how- for a price.

Sheaffer thinks that behind all the UFO stories, there’s nothing but cases of mistaken identity, wishful thinking and fraud. I hope he’s wrong, and that there is a rare, genuine phenomenon, whatever it is. I do agree, however, that the problems he discusses are severe and until UFOtown polices itself, it’ll remain a ghetto- or a ghost town.

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The Red Web – Russia and the Internet

The Red Web - Russia and the Internet

By Steven Aftergood
Secrecy News

      The Internet in Russia is a battleground between activists who would use it as a tool of political and cultural freedom and government officials who see it as a powerful instrument of political control, write investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan in their new book The Red Web.For now, the government appears to be winning the battle.
Soldatov and Borogan trace the underlying conflict back to official anxiety in the Soviet era about the hazards of freedom of information. In the 1950s, the first Soviet photocopy machine was physically destroyed at the direction of the government “because it threatened to spread information beyond the control of those who ruled.”
With the introduction of imported personal computers in the 1980s and a connection to the Internet in 1990, new possibilities for free expression and political organizing in Russia seemed to arise. But as described in The Red Web, each private initiative was met by a government response seeking to disable or limit it. Internet service providers were required to install “black boxes” (known by the acronym SORM) giving Russia’s security services access to Internet traffic. Independent websites, such as the authors’ own agentura.ru site on intelligence matters, were subject to blocking and attack. Journalists’ computers were seized.

But the struggle continued. Protesters used new social media tools to organize demonstrations. The government countered with new facial recognition technology and cell phone tracking to identify them. Large teams of “trolls” were hired to disrupt social networks. A nationwide system of online filtering and censorship was put in place by 2012, and has been refined since then. […]

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‘How UFOs Conquered The World’ – A Critical Review

How UFOs Conquered The World

“How UFOs conquered the world” – “In the eye of the beholder” UFO reality or UFO theatre

Bill Chalker By Bill Chalker

I found David Clarke’s new book entertaining, but he and I disagree about its significance. I see his book just catering to the UFO theatre aspects of the UFO controversy, rather than being a serious look at the real UFO reality. David Clarke clearly sees his book as contributing substantially to the full story of the UFO mystery. In other words in David’s view “UFOs R Us” Real UFOs are not physically real. Its all misidentification, hoaxing, stories etc – the rich fodder of social scientists, psychologists, and folklorists – a perfect fit for the psychosocial hypothesis (PSH).

As I read David Clarke’s book I was waiting for him to deal with the kind of UFO events and cases I have encountered in more than 40 years of UFO study, namely physical evidence cases. Instead we get a very light touch indeed and a dismissal that all such cases are not what they seem. There is no physical evidence for UFOs, according to David Clarke.

I couldn’t disagree more. So I’ve decided to post the “book review” part of my “OZ Files” column that appears in the latest UFO Truth magazine (Check out the hyperlinks I have embedded at various points to give yourself further details on points I have made):

      David Clarke’s latest book How UFOs conquered the world – the history of a modern myth(Aurum Press, London, 2015) embraces the UFO experience and UFO theatre. To him it seems they are one and the same, just different manifestations of “the UFO syndrome.” He concludes his entertaining book:

“Myth or reality, UFOs have conquered the world. People say seeing is believing, but I disagree. All the evidence suggests the opposite is the truth. In plain fact, we see what we believe.”

David Clarke’s new book is well worth reading as it gives an excellent description of the psychosocial perspective. While there may well be unexplainable cases he clearly feels that they are not evidence for extraterrestrials visiting Earth. The answer to the mystery is of human origin (both psychological and social explanations), with diverse causes. Mankind created the UFO myth, in part to address the need to know we are not alone in the vast universe. The UFO myth is belief driven and evolving. No hard evidence is available to support the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH).

The book is presented as his personal journey through ufology, but it seems clear that it is a cleverly framed exposition of the psychosocial hypothesis (PSH), with a personal perspective inserted in each chapter. He describes wanting to believe himself, but maturity and experience turned him to embrace the PSH – a comfortable fit for a researcher trained in folklore.

Here are parts of David Clarke’s journey through “the UFO myth” as described in his book. He connects with early ufology in Britain through an interview with Dennis Plunkett of the British Flying Saucer Bureau. The British press announced the end of ufology when it was claimed the Bureau was closing in 2001. Plunkett disputes the facts and tried to correct the error. Ufology had moved on.

David Clarke uses Allen Hendry’s excellent book from 1980 The UFO Handbookto argue that the UFO mystery is all about UFOs being reduced to IFOs, namely identified UFOs. Pelicans and Venus are big starters here. Pelicans carry the “badge of honour” for the PSH school, despite the fact that as an explanation for the Kenneth Arnold sighting back in 1947 it is far from proven. We don’t learn from David Clarke’s coverage that there did appear to be a ground based witness Fred Johnson, a prospector, in the same area at about the same time, who saw a number of disks, and even reported some possible compass effects, during the passage of several of the objects. Clearly magnetised pelicans with a powerful magnetic field! But the USAF listed the case as “unexplained”?

David Clarke states (pg. 70): “The misperceptions of pelicans and Venus that explain many UFO reports happen unexpectedly and without warning. Scientists do not know when they are going to occur so cannot observe and analyse them under controlled conditions.” Pelican behaviour and migrations and flight are pretty well understood. Their localities are generally known with some precision. Ask any bird watcher with a passion for pelicans. Venus – ask any astronomer or consult sky charts, Venus’ position, movements, appearance are well understood. Again plenty of opportunity for controlled observations and studies. The reality seems that the pelican/Venus explanatory nexus is vastly overstated as an explanation in compelling UFO cases. The behaviour and characteristics are well known and a bit of thinking usually sorts those sorts of cases out.

Warminster and the fake UFO photos associated with it (particularly David Simpson’s SIUFOP experiments) are used as a general template to reinforce the idea of the “will to believe” by uncritical witnesses or believers. The propensity of hoaxing the gullible is put forward extrapolating very broadly that “…every type of UFO evidence, from complex photographs to alien abductions, secret government documents and stories told by high ranking military officials about extra-terrestrial cadavers hidden in air force hangers, has at some point been unveiled as being invented. ” (p.93.) This is really evidence of over reaching, as he falls far short on evidence for that statement. Perhaps he is arguing if you can prove one, it is reasonable to argue that all of this type of claimed evidence should be treated the same and therefore there is no need to bother with any other evidence.

David Clarke is on surer ground when he uses his impressive work on helping bring official British government UFO files out into the open. There is a lot of interesting material particularly in his interview with psychologist Alex Cassie who was involved in the MODs investigation of Angus Brooks’ intriguing but strange “craft” sighting in 1967. The invoking of a “lucid dream” initiated by a “floater” in the eye seems a stretch, particularly given the long duration of the claimed event. Cassie’s team investigation was a particular standout because it was detailed. The majority of MOD investigations were far less impressive and could be easily called limited at best. I saw the same pattern in Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) investigations – some standouts, but hardly representative of the true picture. Most investigations were inadequate. In fairness many cases really didn’t call for detailed investigations, but when impressive cases didn’t get much attention nor anything approaching a serious and adequate investigation, it is difficult to give much credit to official investigations as sources of “gold standard” conclusions.

David’s conclusions about the so-called Condign report are not that far from my own. It had poor foundations in terms of poor case data (large amounts of MOD data with very limited information & little investigation) meant it couldn’t be relied upon as a basis for viable analysis. It did serve a purpose as the basis of disengagement for the MOD from UFO “investigations.” It was interesting to see that David Clarke had clearly established who “Mr. Condign” was and that he had witnessed a UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) during a secret mission. While it may have made the man a good fit for compiling the report, it didn’t validate the report as credible.

I’m sure UFO Truth editor Gary Heseltine will address his interview that is mentioned in David Clarke’s book, but I was struck by the proclamation made in the same chapter that, “for all its talk about evidence, ufology was not an empirical discipline. In order for it to survive it had to close itself off from the scientific method.” (p.145) With my science background and as someone who researches UFOs I take issue with that statement. Sure there are many “UFO researchers” who fail the basic critical thinking test, a basic template for a scientific investigation, but there are many more that apply reasonable scientific methodology. There are many aspects of reported UFO activity that thrive on the application of scientific method in the pursuit of evidence. For example instrumented field studies of UFO “flap” areas – that is, potentially utilise “repeatable phenomena” – a mainstay of scientific method.

As I used David Clarke’s conclusion chapter title “In the eye of the beholder” in my “gonzo” take on the Bonsall “UFO theatre” I’ll return to the substance of his conclusion and his “ten basic truths” and insert some comments:

1). There is no such thing as ‘the UFO phenomenon’ but there are lots of phenomena that cause UFOs.

Richard Hall, author of the 1964 “UFO Evidence” undertaken for NICAP, and the 2000 “UFO Evidence” follow up (“A thirty-year report”) provides impressive evidence of repeatable patterns amongst a wide selection of UFO data. Basic pattern replications in 2 separate studies more than 30 years apart, argues powerfully for a phenomenon of some validity. In other words a real “UFO phenomenon.” IFOs help calibrate our methodologies and interpretations of the data. Force fitting of ill-fitting “explanations” or ignoring “inconvenient data” in order to make explanations fit in compelling cases happens repeatedly within the ranks of PSH thinking. The Battelle “Stork” study back in the 1950s isolated “unknowns” by virtue of their lack of correlation with IFOs, which led to some limited UFO modelling of types. That didn’t stop the USAF misrepresenting the data.

2). There is no such thing as a ‘true UFO.’

Again Battelle had a crack at it as above and isolated compelling data. David Clarke’s book spent most of its pages addressing what I refer to as “the UFO theatre” and infrequently engages with compelling cases studies. Try the 1968 Minot case as one example.

3). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Extraordinary investigations are also required. “Operation Prato” in Brazil is an intriguing example. The Bigelow funded “Skinwalker Ranch” might be but without more detailed access to data certainty is not there. The CAIPAN 2014 Workshop highlights the kind of thing that can potentially be done. Philippe Ailleris “The lure of local SETI:Fifty years of field studies” (2011, and its follow ups) provide a good template for further study.

Without these sorts of investigations being the “norm” rather than limited exceptions, “extraordinary evidence” is going to be limited and uncertain.
Lots of worthwhile databases and studies of case types like physical traces, “EM-car stop” cases etc argue for compelling trends and data.

4). Accounts of UFO experiences form the core of the syndrome, but stories do not constitute ‘evidence.’ They are folklore.

Again the 1968 Minot case is good example. David Clarke writes, “Pilots are experts at identifying aircraft but their pilot skills are no better than anyone else’s when it comes to unexpected close encounters with stray balloons or flocks of pelicans.” This is ridiculous, however David Clarke doesn’t cite anything credible, such as a lot of compelling cases in the NARCAP database. I’ve interviewed pilots who have reported engine power loss in the presence of nearby UFOs, hardly the stuff of stray balloons and pelicans.

5). Culture – not experience – creates the UFO interpretation but some experiences are independent of culture.

Provided we can limit our embrace with “the UFO theatre” that David Clarke is preoccupied with, the “endless feedback loops” that are encountered in more compelling case studies, that seem scarce in this book, would mean one would encounter loops of appropriate levels of investigation, research and analysis. There is already a lot of that material, but “the UFO theatre” preoccupations of PSH promoters instead see loops of anecdotes, poor enquiries and folklore – the consequences of a skewed focus.

6). The UFO syndrome fulfils the role of the supernatural “other.”

The argument that this “fulfils a deep emotional need” is a “cop out.” It could be argued that its nothing new. The technological ETH model could be viewed as a western imperative. “Sky being” lore is very widespread in ancient and native cultures. So it could be argued the ETH’s growth and diffusion around the world is not a triumph of western imperialism, but rather a shift (or technological upgrade) of existing beliefs in worldwide indigenous cultures. A “modern myth”- perhaps not. It could be just as easily argued for a complete inversion of that perspective. The modern US rendering of the “UFO myth” is just an inevitable technological reframing of an existing worldwide “myth” system with very deep roots. Perhaps a reframing might have western culture catching up, belatedly reframing an existing long held belief system.

7). The extra-terrestrial hypothesis and other exotic theories cannot explain UFOs.

The ETH in its simplest form suggests that a technologically advanced based phenomenon is visiting Earth. What is disprovable (and hence potentially scientific)? Well the hypothesis that there is no advanced technology is evident in UFO reports? Science and sceptics have been arguing that for years (e.g. The flawed Condon report) – that there is no evidence for advanced technology.

In fact the contrary view may very well be provable . There are lots of potential discoveries and useful insights in UFO data, none of which can be found in David Clarke’s book.

Here are a few suggestions he might like to follow up:

Dr. Myrabo’s seems to modify his “light craft” technology ideas (NASA related) in response to viewing and examining evidence in a UFO event filmed by Ray Stanford (see Chris Lambright’s “X-Descending”); try reading Paul Hill’s “Unconventional Flying Objects – a scientific analysis” which is based in part on his own sighting and examining a lot of UFO data in his capacity as an unofficial UFO “clearing house” at NASA; Auguste Meesen’s 3 papers in the 2012 PIERS electromagnetics Research Symposium – each using UFO data to support various arguments & hypotheses related to propulsion and effects; Claude Poher’s analysis of evidence for possible advanced propulsion in the UFOs imaged in the radar photos from the 1968 Minot B52 incident.

8). The idea of a super-conspiracy to hide the truth about UFOs is unfalsifiable.

I suggest that instead of concentrating on the unproductive study of the collision of “UFO theatre” with conspiracy belief, why not focus on what governments have really done. For example read “UFOs and Government” by the UFO History Group.

9). The common denominator in UFO stories is the human beings who see and believe in them.

Why not study the data that has emerged and is emerging from instrumented studies, physical evidence, forensic evidence (even in stranger areas like alien abduction claims. For example see my book “Hair of the Alien: DNA and Other Forensic Evidence of Alien Abductions”). Once again the 1968 B52 radar visual case with photographic evidence from the radar screens is a good place to start. The evidence already strongly suggests that UFOs are more than just a human creation.

10). People want to believe in UFOs.

Arguing that UFO research and evidence is all about belief and no evidence is once again evidence for skewed perspectives emerging from PSH promoters. I know many UFO researchers that approach the subject from an evidence based perspective. They assume that most sightings are probably IFOs and let the quality of the data argue that it might be a UFO.”

I argue that UFOs are about evidence and there is plenty of it, if one can avoid the pitfalls of playing in the PSH sandpit, which seems far too preoccupied with “UFO theatre” rather than a really serious deep engagement with the UFO phenomenon. David Clarke says he long ago abandoned his own list of “best cases” as “a singularly pointless exercise.” My experience has been the complete opposite. I have long examined by own local “best cases” list constantly revisiting the data and arguments about them. Equally I could easily list many other cases that could qualify for that list. I’ve not experienced any crisis of confidence with my own list and my own constant re-evaluation of it and its consistency and robustness for me, are powerful endorsements of the UFO phenomenon. I’ve written extensively about that process and my best cases.

To conclude I thank David Clarke for an excellent book on the psychosocial perspective and his own personal pathway to it. For me it informs me about “the UFO theatre” and not about the UFO phenomenon. As I have argued here in response to the book, there is a real UFO phenomenon with a lot of compelling data, which argues a strong case that it ought to be the focus of a well-funded and extended scientific study. It’s all about “the eye of the beholder.”

One of the mantras that comes out frequently in David Clarke’s book is the argument that Kenneth Arnold’s watershed sighting of “flying saucers” in 1947 did not involve “saucers” and given that people went on to report “saucers” everywhere, then that re-enforces that people just reported “saucers” because they were influenced by the “flying saucer craze.”

Well, one thing researchers are surely aware of (well maybe PSH advocates are an exception, when it suits them), is that UFOs (or UAPs) come in all shapes and sizes. While “saucers” are popular, people were reporting a variety of things, not just “saucers”.
Here is a nice quote that gets into that very point, a newspaper report from 1954 (Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 1954):

“The most remarkable feature of this interplanetary pageant has been the great variety of shape, size, speed and colour attributed to the extra-terrestrial craft.

They have been round, square, oblong, spherical, hemi-spherical, faceted like diamonds, smooth like a billiard ball. They emit orange, green or scarlet jets. They have the approximate dimensions of baseball bats or battleships.

It is becoming increasingly clear to Melbourne citizens that the Martians are people of infinite variety. When it comes to spaceships, they are not content with routine stock models.
“Probably they have the same jealous individuality with their craft as terrestrial women have with hats.

Saucers and Cinema Prices are Soaring in Victoria - Sydney Morning Herald (1-15-1954)

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Review of Prof. Maurice Casey’s Scholarly Critique of the Work of Jesus Mythicists

I blogged a short time ago to alert readers about this book. Maurice Casey was a New Testament scholar and Aramaic specialist. He was also nowhere close to being a “Bible believer” – the sort of people that Jesus mythicists love to mock. It’s Casey doing the mocking here. All the familiar mythers (e.g., Acharya S) are in the cross-hairs and fare rather poorly.

Dr. James McGrath recently reviewed Casey’s book. The review (and of course the book) tracks through all the well-worn bogus methods and argumentation made by the tiny-but-vocal Jesus mythicist clique (think the Zeitgeist nonsense). Here’s one of McGrath’s concluding paragraphs:

I suspect that many will find the tone of Casey’s volume rather too acerbic—especially if they  have  never  had  to  deal  with  online  mythicists  themselves.  One  must  keep  in  mind the  risks  that  were  involved  in  writing  a book  like  this.  As  scientists  and  historians  who have tackled pseudoscholarship of other sorts have often learned, the very act of engaging proponents  of  these  views,  even  in  the  interests  of  debunking  them,  can  seem  to  add credibility  to  their  claims,  since  they  are  being  deemed  “worthy  of  engaging  with.” It seems  to  me  that  Casey’s  approach,  while  not  above  criticism,  strikes  an  important balance. He took the highly problematic character of mythicism seriously enough that he thought  it  worth  showing  unambiguously  why  it  does  not  deserve  to  be  taken  seriously. Casey shows in detail the ways in which mythicism is not merely wrong in the ways that scholars are often wrong but rather grossly incompetent, shoddily argued and evidenced, utterly lacking in plausibility, and often seeming to willfully distort the evidence, all while its proponents maliciously malign mainstream scholars.

Amen. Been there many times.

McGrath’s review is an excellent overview of the book, which is must reading for anyone who’s been annoyed or disturbed by the claims of those who insist Jesus never existed.

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How UFOs Conquered the World

Alien Encounters in a 1948 Science-Fiction Magazine

By James McConnachie

There are 52,000 pages of government documents dealing with UFOs. This former believer has examined them all

      UFO believers will not like this book. It is not a classic debunking; David Clarke is too subtle and warm for that. But it is written by a turncoat, a former believer turned journalist who, in 2007, curated the release of all 52,000 pages of the Ministry of Defence’s UFO-related documents to the National Archives.

Four million people visited that site in its first five years, most of them presumably believers, but Clarke’s stance is that almost all sightings can be explained as hoaxes, fantasies or misidentifications.

His booktackles a number of celebrated incidents, most notably the American pilot Kenneth Arnold’s sighting, on June 24, 1947, of the original “flying saucers”. . . .

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