October 15, 2013

Saucers Over Albuquerque

a farce in three acts


**

Assumed Redemption
(being the preface to act 1)

by James Carlson

Some men dream of Valhalla in the heart, a mounted beast they can hope to control only with the most bestial of acts and the celebrations of their remembrance.  Others create their own personal mythologies, preparing symbols for their diet and their daily routines, hoping to learn how to survive the worst of the world along the way.  Men of conscience, on the other hand, may find themselves walking briskly along a thin road to either conflict, dust rising into the future and hiding the path forward while masking the past.  Memories assume direction without reference.  As a result, only a desperate few will ever be worthy of the dreams their lives will eventually preface for the rest of the world.  They create a vicious disregard in their hearts and write out their own lives amidst the pages of a world unimagined.

These are the elements and conditions that map the origin of the stories and legends we try most urgently to remember in the darkness when a quiet, calm world sleeps and predators howl.  Even on strident courses set aside for us by anxiety and sorrow, the huge majority of men are only rarely significant outside of their own surroundings, while the twisted aggregates of their intent and its corruptions are even less so.  This is why we repeat the stories that we learn and the tales told of earnest men and great and worthy dreams.  We measure out in painful breaths the uncertain value of those enigmatic thoughts borne by such men and the pitiable personae we have sketched out and adopted to describe them as if they were ours alone and not merely the tasteless leavings of other men’s lives.  It is an expression of our arrogance to believe them original and to call them our own.  They are not.  They are merely a handful of scattered enigmas vying for our short-lived yet nonetheless starving attentions.

It is precisely because we are unoriginal and suggestible that we all too often owe our dreams and our dilemmas to the feckless men who follow behind those rare few worthy of our symptomatic regard.  This is, in fact, our worst quality, the most ungracious description of the human character.  We try so hard to live the dreams of other men that we forget how to create dreams of our own.  This cultural amnesia ultimately forces us to rely on unnatural and ultimately meaningless tales for the sustenance of heart our temporal lives demand, allowing them entrance into minds and emotions that represent the undefined legacy of our species.  Once there, they flop and scuttle before us like breathless fish at the bottom of a boat next to a couple of cracked sinkers and ugly, wretched bits of worm and cricket, and the milky scales of day-old snappers.  It is our suggestibility that makes them real, not some natural and inborn quality possessed by the measurable habitations of life.

The stories we absorb are just poor reflections of what were once the steps of an unknown dance that left only footprints behind, soon scattered in the wind, and yet, they nonetheless help us to navigate our culture and the development of our values if we can only hold firm and refuse to define them as some kind of modeled template of our lives.  Complacency is necessary, not sacrifice and belief, for only complacency allows us to focus our attentions on what we can do, not on what we can imagine.  One example of the need for such complacency is represented by the Disclosure issues currently being sold to dreamers and madmen by shameless reprobates throughout every nation in the world where the word “UFO” has come to mean something other than an undefined anomaly in the sky.  Disclosure is defined and reconditioned to meet the expectations of men and women who cannot possibly reach a consensus based on real knowledge of real events, and yet it is being used to shape political desires and potential national policy.  It is an arrogance that yields only to the imagination.

                                                                                                                               

Most of the world is aware that the Full Disclosure beggared by the irresponsible optimism of wishful thinkers to the ultimate fate of the universe has already revealed its most curious and penetrating secrets.  Nonetheless, we forever debate the social implications of aggressive incontinence, and fool ourselves into believing there might be something alien yet rational hidden away in decades-old government briefing memorandums just waiting at the bottom of some steel-layered safe at the Pentagon for that one properly worded query amidst a stack of the new FOIA requests for the week.  That’s why so many continue to send those relatively pointless requests out once a month like some religious responsibility, week after week, over and over again.  Each time a FOIA request finds its way to the post office, it’s wrapped up in expectations that the response will be different this time.  Maybe that single word in paragraph six that was changed at the last minute will find favor with another faceless Admin rep.  It’s certainly possible that there’s a new classified materials officer at Edwards AFB, and this guy just might interpret our intentions with a friendlier attitude than the last three appointees.  Maybe whoever he is will finally send us the records that we’re so obviously referring to instead of those damned garbage histories that keep talking about Venus waxing with the waning moon.  Maybe this time …

 

These are the easy lessons – things we’ve learned from experience and unchanging response.  We already know the color and the flavor of its debris, and we immediately recognize its true value.  You see, the flying saucer hunters are no longer primed with cameras and videos as they used to be, and this tells us something important about intent.  Maybe this new aspect of gathering wool has come about because they’ve finally caught up with Hollywood FX, and are still unable to prove the point or improve the outcome.  They used to tell us that in the future everyone will have a camera, and the proof of UFOs from outer space will become more apparent as a result.  Today, both corporations and governments assure us that the 24-7 video record of our environment is a necessary, albeit violent, investment of privacy calculated to improve the quality of our instantaneous and oppressive security, and yet nothing is clearer than the primary tenet of our new Church of the Saucer:  outside of criminal enterprise, there is nothing very interesting for us to examine.

We’ve finally cornered the future within the weeks and months of our lives and we have discovered that nothing has changed.  In typical response to this world weary principle, the predators now conduct their hunts in the pages of old newspapers and magazines and amongst the faded words of FOIA documents that are older than the USAF.  This too has repercussions, of course, easily discovered within the pages of a new dogma, and just as easily defined:  in the future there won’t be any more secrets.  According to what passes as the new wisdom, this ultimate truth will finally and for all time be readily apparent, as if all we had to do was convince some guy with the appropriate security access who happens to be more than a little annoyed with the IRS to speak up a bit louder into the hidden microphone and change world history with a whisper.  Pay no attention to the man in the closet, and never forget:  this revolution’s gonna be televised.

Every kid in the third grade demands his own You-tube account, while the old farts who know exactly how much the best kept secrets are really worth tell themselves in that shady bit of twilight that spins the world around just before new sleep dims old intent that they’d spill whatever the rest of the world thinks qualifies as the beans in a heartbeat for a small fistful of goddamn antacid that really works. 

Somewhere in Ohio, an eight-year-old kid playing with his sister’s spandex leggings is watching Alien Autopsy on his Dad’s DVD player and 60-inch flat screen and thinking to himself, this is so corny – I bet I could do it better on my laptop.  And he’s not lying, either.

Across the street, the battle-hardened trio who tried to get a neighborhood UFO Watch club started, but couldn’t generate enough interest to schedule regular meetings has decided to rest what’s left of their hopes on the supposition that their dreams were somewhere recorded and co-opted and will someday be brought out into the light.  For them, the truth can only be approached after it’s been talked about between midnight and four on nationwide talk radio or exhibited across the screen on what used to be the History Channel.  Meanwhile, educated men greet such presumptions with rigid contempt and a little sour laughter.

Unfortunately, the world has been forced to listen to this silly little tune for far too long, and none of it has ever really changed, forcing us to examine its evolution in the splendor of its stillness and its uncompromising refusal to grow into something worth the energy necessary to redirect our national gaze.  Take a deep breath.  Hold it.  Exhale.  Now, in this single moment, this aggressive second of future reckoning, reconcile yourself to everything that’s unremarkable in life and recognize therein the true face of UFOlogy:  it is worthy of attention only when it’s marketable with a profit margin exceeding the investment of reasonable and well-focused contempt.  There.  That’s your first lesson on how a toss-off theory of economics can dictate the value of anything – even your own worthless hallucinations.  If you’re starting to think that maybe your emotional investment in this odd little world of UFOs and flying saucers and alien abductions just off the highway of poisoned impressions and slaughtered cattle bleeding out into the hot, red brick clay of a cracked valley where the rivers dried up long ago might have been too time consuming in your youth to enable any real objectivity today capable of keeping your blood pressure consistent and low, then you should probably go grab yourself a nice, cold beer and some of those generic cheese puffs in the 50-pound bags, ‘cause you’ve got some serious catching up to do…

 

60-years of man’s complete and utter failure to wrestle the flying saucer out of its natural reverie of folk tales and myths into groundbreaking reality has forced the world to abide with a somewhat weaker intent to discover the rare and unknown than in centuries past.  In a way, this is fitting, since UFOlogy, in its most general and aggressive terms, has been relegated to the dreariness of a poor history lesson.  The most fanatical or heretical of its judgments are raised to interpret events that can no longer produce witnesses, because so very few have survived the intervening years.  That’s one reason it’s become so popular amongst the starry-eyed glitterati to embellish new UFO claims on old USAF history in order to create a reality that few critics are willing to apply their disgust to so evenly.  For 60-years they’ve been buying twenty different tales of Roswell being sold by con-artists with the gross mentality of incompetent thieves, and they respond by cursing the CIA, the USAF, and the rest of the Department of Defense for refusing to tell them what really happened.  Meanwhile, the CIA, the USAF, and the rest of the Department of Defense fail to respond with anything approaching the expected reconciliation of rumor, having dismissed those making such demands decades ago.  These are lessons children could understand, and yet the UFO proponents are still confused, blaming governments for their own stupidity made plain in their refusal to adopt one of the most popular and easily understood philosophies of human existence yet devised:  examine carefully before buying!

Claims invented in the library need no accompanied resplendence to amaze and bewilder – they just need another badly faked signature so you think it might represent actual history.  As a result, UFOlogy has been enclosed within the same theoretical structure as Jack the Ripper, leaving its adherents no closer to an answer than those who insistently ask the world aether for the Ripper’s true identity, while expecting, of course, no serious or cogent response.  It’s now very clear that the greatest and most violent discussions produced under the aegis of world-wide UFOlogy concern events and the interpretation of events that occurred decades in the past.  UFOlogy now encompasses ancient history, precisely because it cannot find relevance in current events.  When there is nothing new under the sun, what, exactly, is there left to discover?  Similar to the nearly extinct Martians in Roger Zelazny’s A Rose for Ecclesiastes, it appears that we can always learn a little something from ancient man’s contemplation of futility.  And not unlike the Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes, the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes all things equal through time, while heat death cleanses the universe of responsibility.

Hell, even the unconscious yearnings of the UFOlogical mind make its definition as a history lesson obvious to those caught up in the examination.  Full Disclosure, the single most sought after goal of UFOlogy’s most fanatical adherents, is encompassed within the passive desire for its justification, the importance of its existence to those desiring enlightenment.  Full Disclosure will justify the daily yearnings and the wasted nights of true believers most noted for replacing knowledge with faith.  Government secrets will finally vindicate their pre-teen assessments of this tiny bit of galaxy we call home, and shrink the Universe to a manageable size and dimension.  The intolerable laughter of human peers will finally fade out like the end of a laugh track queued to the closing credits of our own cartoon episode of The Ghostbusters Meet Scooby Doo on parade.  In the words of Mike Good, a columnist for UFO Magazine, Disclosure “is our last hurrah, right before we UFO aficionados say, ‘I told you so’ to all of those friends and family who poked fun at us and called us weirdoes and finally become, in Nick Redfern’s words – sorry Nick, I’m paraphrasing here – completely redundant and irrelevant.”  Disclosure, in other words, is the justification of belief that has failed to provoke any meaningful response outside of ridicule.

Mike Good

The connotation here is oriented in terms usually reserved for religious enlightenment, which is important to understand, given that Disclosure possesses a fundamentally secular definition.  Disclosure is simply the admission by the United States government that the truth behind UFOs and flying saucers is a story of extraterrestrial influence worldwide that has been known and classified by the Department of Defense for the past 60-years.  In other words, Disclosure is the reinterpretation of history.  This whole argument of religious tone and human development is based on the insistence of a few that their interpretation of history is correct, and the history known to the rest of the world is wrong.  60-years of UFOlogical failure is reinterpreted as UFOlogical success when the U.S. government finally admits that all of the paranoid secrets emblazoned, tattooed, and then branded by UFOlogists onto the psyche of America is not the effect of the commonplace and unexceptional collection of variables that the great majority of evidence indicates it is, but is instead the extraordinary causal effects of alien creatures, alien cultures, and alien technology.

Disclosure states nothing definitive about human existence today.  It’s merely the reinterpretation of human history undertaken to prove that UFOlogists were not wrong about Roswell, Minot AFB, American nukes and UFOs, aliens at the Pentagon, and a hundred other non-events that were bought and sold years ago.  It is simply the United States government’s validation of UFO claims that it has always rejected.  Disclosure is the release of classified materials proving that UFOlogists were right and the rest of the world was wrong.  Unfortunately, because the rest of the world was not wrong, and because UFOlogy is all too often the refuge of liars, hoaxers, the mentally ill, the mentally deficient, the uneducated, and the easily convinced, and because the U.S. government doesn’t really care about UFOs or those who believe in them, such a Disclosure will never occur.  And if something akin to Disclosure does occur, the results of that singular examination of classified knowledge will never be accepted as complete or honest by those who expect the past 60-years of UFOlogical failure to be exonerated, and thereby redefined as UFOlogical success.  As Mike Good says, “Disclosure:  It is the Holy Grail.  It is the culmination of all those years of cogitating about UFOs.”  When that “Holy Grail” is nothing more than the realization that authoritative historians – or the revelation of new FOIA documents – do not meet the expectations of those lobbying for that new lease on their desires and beliefs, those who are so eagerly awaiting their view of that “Holy Grail” will need to look at themselves a little deeper – not their government.  After all, there is nothing more certain than the fact that these UFOlogists are no longer looking for UFOs – they’re just looking for people to tell them they were right about their interpretation of events that transpired 60-years ago, or 50-years ago, or 40-years ago, or yesterday.  They demand that their shattered beliefs be repaired by the rewriting of history, which is essentially all that Disclosure really is.  At its heart, it’s just another word to justify the whining that all too often accompanies failure.   

Disclosure – the Holy Grail of UFOlogy – will supposedly solve all of the problems that UFOlogy’s many frequent failures have made so plain to the rest of the world.  When the USAF discloses all it knows about UFOs, the flying saucers at Roswell will finally become historically significant instead of the collection of folk tales and comedy routines that it represents today.  Disclosure will finally turn Robert Hastings’ silly musings, distorted reports, impulsive and obsessive lies, and nonsensical syllogisms about technologies he is completely ignorant of into the attendant usurpation of military strategies designed to bring about a new age typified by a fact-based approach to nuclear power and weaponry.  It will rewrite Robert Salas’ complete and utter lies, redefining them as lessons taught to us by the more advanced and infinitely more understanding aliens with a mission to protect us from ourselves.  With the onset of Full Disclosure, the tale of man’s search for meaning within the wallets of his neighbors – an object lesson warning us of the pain that can follow mental illness and its toleration for unprovoked supposition – will turn into the unified redemption of Stanton Friedman’s numerous, evolving claims regarding our government’s response to the birth of alien intervention in man’s affairs.  That’s all Disclosure really is: assumed redemption.  Remember, please, and attend to that single definition.  Disclosure is primarily the redemption of those who are wrong, as collected within their irresponsible rewriting of human history.  It’s what happens when mankind uses witchcraft to turn its failed search for God into our successful encounter with the body politic.  For the most part, it is always used in reference to a future event, and as such, it can never actually occur (which is a blessing without disguise for those like Richard Dolan, Bryce Zabel, Robert M. Collins, Robert Hastings, H. R. Phillips, Robert Salas, Stephen Greer and many, many others who are currently selling it worldwide).  Disclosure is simply a means of making money by selling ideals and the byproducts of wishful thinking amidst the assurance that wrong is right. 

Di$clo$ure is a profit-motivated system designed to treat the psychic wounds of those who refuse to accept the promise that their futures will be ordinary.  It is intended to address the fractured impressions of UFOlogy left behind at the culmination of the USAF’s investigative apparatus, Project Blue Book, the decision to shut down that money pit having been reached upon the Department of Defense’s conclusion that there was nothing important, substantiated, or reasonable to investigate and no cause for the Pentagon to pretend otherwise.  You might keep that in mind the next time you see that your dreams of flying saucers, unprovoked aggression, and alien manipulations have also been dreamed by others, and that these others have added a price tag to the tail end of them in order to flag down your lapsing attention.  And the next time you read one of those revelation-promising tomes wherein the world is buggered once again by hoary-eyed mystics riding unpronounceable, viciously lucid machines far too close to your damp and hidden face for you to decide whether they truly exist in a time that dances to the music of matter or are merely a preface to those dreams you have yet to spill, you might remember for one quiet, brief moment the true character surrounding UFOlogy’s aggressive intent:  only the first hit is free.

**

Soon to debut at this fine venue:  SAUCERS OVER ALBUQUERQUE:  A FARCE IN THREE ACTS ; Paranoid and Delusional (being act 1)







June 19, 2013

Science Rejected: Another Hastings Con Job at UFO Chronicles


By James Carlson

Robert Hastings

UFO researcher Robert Hastings recently published an internet article at TheUFOChronicles.com entitled “Science and UFOs: Part 1 – The Condon Committee Con Job” that has – like the spontaneous erosion of mental acuity at a frat house every time someone screams beer run! – been reprinted at every UFO website in the market for free copy without any real concern for content. It’s another of Hastings’ standard rants addressed to the base of UFOlogy, one intended to elevate the worth of his name to a population of readers more than willing to trust his ethics and believe his claims for one reason and one reason alone: he tells them exactly what they want to hear. He does so, in fact, confident that few will ever challenge his claims, let alone conduct an honest hour or so of basic research to determine whether the extent of his sincerity can be measured in the quality of his claims. Had they been inclined to do so in the past, they would have discovered long ago how irresponsible he is with facts, how willing he’s been to distort the claims of witnesses, and how eager he is to insert his own unchecked, and ill-conceived personal contributions into UFO accounts merely to increase that false sense of credibility in an environment already considered lethal to such commonly valued standards of integrity. It’s like a bad comic trying to merge the local drunk’s steamy leavings with one more example of pop culture’s endless aperitifs.

The primary source Robert Hastings uses to address his alleged Condon “Con Job” issue is the testimony of Dr. James E. McDonald, a highly flawed individual who, like many others, allowed the UFO issue to consume his better instincts. He was once a reasonably successful scientist who was published regularly in well-respected scientific journals and compendiums throughout his career, the only exception being the entire period encompassing his UFO assessments and studies. During that period, he wrote nothing at all that science-oriented journals were willing to be associated with. They refused en masse to publish his claims and conclusions, because he was unable to support them with anything even approaching the use of standard, scientific methods. He could not even articulate the means by which one could test the assumptions he willingly made throughout the remainder of his life. The reasons for this are obvious. Although he was a gifted physicist, McDonald had little intuitive comprehension of human psychology, and was unable to differentiate between the varied levels of “truth” inherent to witness testimony. And let’s be very clear: UFOlogy is nothing but witness testimony. McDonald’s solution to his little quandary was to accept that everything he was told must be true. And like many others trying to find complex technical solutions to relatively uncomplicated psychological problems, it wrecked him. He could have saved himself a lot of very personal grief if he had simply monitored a few college courses on trial law and observed a few legal disputes in action. Instead, he took it all too personally with disastrous results, because he couldn’t figure out what was actually going on around him every day of the week. UFOlogy didn’t need physicists – it needed folklorists and historians who were well-equipped and willing to focus on formative religions during periods of technical and social uncertainty. McDonald might have saved himself a world’s worth of grief if he had simply stepped back from the brink of his own despair, dropped the study of UFOs completely, and spent a few months of private study and self-reflection with somebody like Carl Jung, who had tried so hard to unravel the spastic convulsions typical of human myths, dreams, and symbols.

Dr. James E. McDonald

McDonald’s frustrations in the budding field of UFOlogy, his perceived failure to validate what he insisted must be true, and his inability to do anything at all that might eventually vindicate his reputation eventually led him to commit suicide. Robert Hastings not only accepts everything this man essentially failed to prove as if it were already validated fact, he even refers to McDonald as “one of the very few scientists to actually study the UFO phenomenon”, an incredible distortion of reality that he’s completely unable to establish, primarily because he’s so grievously wrong. Most educated Americans can unravel this twisted assessment for themselves by merely conducting the simple fact-finding exercises that those who publish Hastings’ tripe should conduct for themselves before giving voice to these ridiculous fictions. Dr. James E. McDonald was not “one of the very few scientists to actually study the UFO phenomenon,” as there have been many, one example of which is the same Condon Committee he’s attempting to discredit. He was, however, one of UFOlogy’s first failures, primarily because he lacked the means to adjudicate the worth of human testimony. In a world in which human testimony is the only evidence available, the willingness to believe is a handicap. McDonald’s failure and his inability to come to grips with that aspect of his research is proof of that.

In addition to McDonald, Robert Hastings once more evokes the contents of a memorandum dated August 9, 1966, that the Condon investigative committee’s project coordinator, Robert Low, originally drafted to convince two undecided members of the University of Colorado administration to accept the Condon UFO study contract offered by the USAF. It was undertaken to persuade the University administration to accept a contract that every other investigative body, university, and college had already refused to accept for the very same concerns held by the individuals Low addressed his comments to: that nothing of scholastic, let alone scientific worth could ever come about as a result of accepting such a contract. Low believed that the publication of such a study could eventually bring the University a level of common renown that it was very much lacking at the time, and he was willing to suggest how the acceptance of such a study should be interpreted by those still undecided. He was allaying fears, not outlining policy. Given the fact that those who were involved in the research and investigations necessary to reach valid, scientific conclusions were completely unaware of the contents of that memorandum, and had, in fact, already adopted a scientific and completely ethical approach to the Condon UFO study that was supported not only by every scientist involved, but by every scientist who later examined that very issue, it’s a bit disingenuous of Robert Hastings to suggest that policy was being determined. Dr. Edward Condon, a well-respected scientist who had been involved with the Manhattan Project during World War Two, was completely unaware of the memo’s contents and was blindsided when McDonald questioned him about it. At the time, Dr. James E. McDonald knew more about its contents than Condon did. Low’s memo, in fact, was a complete non-event in regard to any possible influence it may have had on the conclusions reached by the University of Colorado UFO Project. Even Dr. J. Allen Hynek insisted that Robert Low’s memo was insignificant, and shouldn’t be used to reject Condon’s assessment of UFOs. Hastings is often very good at neglecting important details while adamantly refusing to discuss or mention anything that presents sufficient information to reach a valid, knowledge-based conclusion; it is his modus operandi, one that he has resorted to for most of his career in a sad attempt to suggest credibility that does not otherwise exist.  He’s like a prosecuting lawyer who presents only that evidence that suggests motive and opportunity in relation to the defendant, while neglecting to tell the jury that the defendant was at home eating Chinese fried chicken at a family reunion of 60-people when the crime he’s accused of took place.  He tells obvious lies of omission, yes, but they are also remarkably stupid lies of omission.  Unfortunately, he’s considered something of an authority in a field that doesn’t really concern itself with credibility.  Well, good for him.

Given that a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest and most respected scientific organizations in the world, was charged “to provide an independent assessment of the scope, methodology, and findings of the (University of Colorado) study as reflected in the (University’s) Report”, I hardly think Robert Hastings’ paranoid and baseless whining is even necessary, let alone reasonable. After all, the National Academy of Sciences was given a congressional charter to properly assess questions of science and provide functional advisement to the government of the United States in regard to those questions, while Hastings merely lectures to mostly ignorant audiences while refusing point blank to answer detailed questions or otherwise provide sufficient information to correct that ignorance, thereby ensuring the outcome of an accurate and educated conclusion.

The UFO panel’s report can be found at http://project1947.com/shg/articles/nascu.html. Among its findings are the following points:

1. “In our opinion the scope of the study was adequate to its purpose: a scientific study of UFO phenomena.”

2. “We think the methodology and approach were well chosen, in accordance with accepted standards of scientific investigation.”

3. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s conclusion that there is no basis for the contention that the subject of UFOs is “shrouded in official secrecy”.

4. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s conclusion that “the history of the past 21 years has repeatedly led Air Force officers to the conclusion that none of the things seen, or thought to have been seen, which pass by the name of UFO reports, constituted any hazard or threat to national security.”

5. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s finding that there is no reason to suggest that the investigation of future UFO sightings might “contribute to the advance of science”. In recognition of this, they recommended the Department of Defense handle reports of UFO activity in the context of “normal surveillance operations,” without necessitating the use of special investigative units such as Project Blue Book.

6. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s finding that there is no need for the federal government to “set up a major new agency … for the scientific study of UFOs”.

7. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s finding that “nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge.”

8. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s finding that associated “important areas of atmospheric optics, including radio wave propagation, and of atmospheric electricity” are of fundamental scientific interest, and “are relevant to practical problems related to the improvement of safety of military and civilian flying.” For this reason, “scientists with adequate training and credentials who do come up with a clearly defined, specific proposal” should be supported.

9. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel also concurred with the Condon UFO study’s observation that UFO reports and beliefs may also be of interest to “the social scientist and the communications specialist.” For this reason, “scientists with adequate training and credentials who do come up with a clearly defined, specific proposal” should be supported.

10. The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel concurred with the Condon UFO study’s conclusive observation that there appears to be “no reason to attribute them [UFOs] to an extraterrestrial source without evidence that is much more convincing.” This extends as well to the study’s conclusion that “the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent beings.”

11. The final conclusions reached by the National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel are balanced and orderly: “We are unanimous in the opinion that this has been a very creditable effort to apply objectively the relevant techniques of science to the solution of the UFO problem.”

It should be evident that Robert Hastings is somewhat handicapped when it comes to determining the value of any evidential support for or rejection of his claims. His refusal to address any balanced arguments whatsoever tends to result in exceptional failure, particularly when it becomes necessary to examine that failure in the context of properly interpreted evidence, the responsible application of which Hastings has shown a marked contempt for.

The National Academy of Sciences reviewing panel even sought the input of Dr. James McDonald, making an aggressive effort to review a number of reports the Condon Committee had neglected for one reason or another to review. The panel nonetheless approved of every conclusion to every argument the UFO study took into account. Does Robert Hastings believe that the National Academy of Sciences was also party to the egregious cover-up that he accuses the Condon Committee of perpetrating, or does his noteworthy paranoia in regard to scholarly assessments prevent him from reaching a balanced interpretation of Condon’s UFO report? There seems to be little doubt that something irresponsible and contrary to the well-assessed disciplines of scientific endeavor seems to have taken place somewhere between the National Academy of Science’s contemporary review of the Condon Committee’s study and Robert Hastings’ near clownish criticism of the same. It’s almost like he decided well in advance of his published condemnation that he wouldn’t even read the panel’s review accompanying the publication of the study’s report.

Upon a thorough examination of Hastings’ assessment of Condon’s study, it’s hard not to conclude that Hastings’ primary grievance with the University of Colorado’s UFO Study is somewhere tied to his outrageous claims that the USAF had insisted in advance that Condon’s study reach a very specific conclusion that would allow them to publically disown any further interest in UFO phenomena. A more balanced examination, however, shows us almost immediately that the USAF didn’t need Condon to reach the conclusions that the National Academy of Sciences also concurred with wholeheartedly. The fact is, the conclusions Condon reached had already been publically affirmed two years prior to the UFO study that was undertaken, making Hastings’ charges of a whitewash sheer lunacy – one more paranoid take of an issue he has proven himself both incapable and unworthy of examining with any real honesty.

Dr. Edward Condon and LBJ

What we’ve got here is just another case of whining by a UFO researcher who refuses to accept conclusions that the National Academy of Sciences found perfectly reasonable to adopt upon its examination of the very same issue. What we’re actually looking at is merely another attempt by UFO proponents to rewrite and reassess ancient history in a vainglorious and ill-advised attempt to whitewash their own past failure to properly address these same issues. It’s no accident that the only real evidence being presented in support of continuing UFO studies is, to a great extent, little more than the reinterpretation of decades-old accounts. The reasons for adopting such a seemingly self-defeatist strategy should be obvious. Since 1947, UFOlogy in general has defined the very character of failure, part of which is due to the previously referred to yet nonetheless habitual refusal of those attempting to promote these cases to examine all of the evidence available instead of merely those elements supporting the possibility that UFOs are somehow worthy of our attention. The fact that new cases, for the most part, have proven to be relatively easy to dismiss with real cause leaves those promoting this abject assessment with few options outside of rejuvenating older cases after their somewhat justifiable dismissal from further assessment many, many years ago. Attempts to refocus current interest on paranoid concerns that the reexamination of incidents 20 to 60 years ago supports the contention that UFOs are interested in nuclear weapons facilities is merely more misleading crap on the windmills, a desperate bid for undeserved attention that less flawed investigators dismissed years ago. Robert Hastings’ arguments aren’t new or original; they’re merely sour propaganda based on incomplete cases, the unbalanced consideration of available data, undisguised contempt for the fruits of actual science, and the repressive, illegible scrawls of men like Dr. James E. McDonald, who ended up killing himself when his obsession started to ruin his life, tear apart his family, and destroy what scholastic reputation he had somehow managed to foster before jumping on a bandwagon that he wasn’t psychologically equipped to encounter with any real sense of grace.

Perhaps this is why Robert Hastings has in the past found it necessary to invent or distort evidence, to lie about his witnesses’ statements and the conclusions reached on their basis, and has presented fraudulent claims thinly disguised as UFO testimony – all of which he has done repeatedly and liberally over the years. As a result, I hardly think his credibility is anywhere near that of the National Academy of Sciences (or the Condon Committee, for that matter). After all, they have over 200 Noble Prize recipients to rely on, while all Robert Hastings has got is a little sad experience promoting a hoax – and doing so in the absence of any ethical or educated assessment. It isn’t appropriate or honest, and he hardly qualifies as the expert witness called upon to reassess historical points of view regarding matters he doesn’t understand, is ill-equipped to examine, and has no intention of doing so with the open mind that science demands of both its critics and its champions.

In other words, he’s produced one more plaintive cry in the wilderness that we can safely and properly ignore as a complete waste of time.







April 6, 2012

What Happens When You Die?



Alongside the age old question regarding the meaning of life, what happens when you die is another one of those, seemingly unanswerable, questions most of us will ask ourselves at various points throughout our lives. The reason for such a morbid question couldn’t be simpler; it’s going to happen to each and every single one of us. Death is something we share with everyone and every living thing. We are born, we live, and we die.

To understand what happens when you die, we must first understand what death is. The dictionary definition of death is as concise at it is stark: The end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism.

In times gone by, the end of life was determined to be when a person stopped breathing or when they no longer had a pulse. This resulted in many instances of people being declared dead when they were not, with some “miraculously” coming back from the dead – and others being buried alive. More recently, end of life has been determined to be when brain function has ceased. When your brain is gone, you are gone so to speak.

So, your brain has ceased functioning, you’ve stopped breathing and you have no pulse. To put it bluntly, you are dead. What happens now?

Many different cultures and religions have their own opinions on what happens when you die, but the majority of them all have one thing in common; the belief in an afterlife. What that afterlife is differs according to which religion you follow. The afterlife, or “Heaven” is prevalent in all of the major religions, but the details vary from one religion to the next. Christianity tells of a heaven of eternal life, living together with God and one another in peace and harmony. Many other religions, including Islam and Hinduism, tell us of a heaven of many levels. The better you did in life, the higher you will rise in heaven. The Buddhist religion takes that one step further, explaining that residence in heaven is temporary, with a rebirth as humans or animals signalling the start of a new life.


The belief in rebirth, or reincarnation as it is more widely known, is not limited to the Buddhist faith, or even religion in general. Films such as What Dreams May Come and Made In Heaven(a personal favourite!) have helped fuel speculation about reincarnation and the afterlife among the more general population.

In addition to the combination of religious belief and popular culture creating a widely-held belief in life after death, the “Near Death Experience”, or NDE, has cemented that belief even further. A Near Death Experience is a varying set of experiences reported by some people who have nearly died and been brought back, usually by resuscitation.

Many people who have experienced a NDE have reported seeing an intensely bright, white light at the end of a tunnel. Others have reported seeing long dead family members and friends, while some people have reported seeing their body below them while they float above it.

The plurality of experiences might suggest there is something to the notion of life after death, but an almost complete lack of physical evidence would tend to suggest otherwise…

Religious belief in an afterlife requires no evidence for the believer. Religion is built on faith and no amount of evidence to the contrary will sway those who firmly believe they are going to a better place after death. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Such a belief gives comfort to millions and lets them concentrate on living their life while not having to worry about what comes afterward.

What about the Near Death Experiences? The term “near death” gives a huge clue as to what might be happening here. The (vast) majority of people who have experienced them were not actually dead, but simply “nearly” dead. The visions of seeing loved ones are more than likely no different to the dreams we experience when sleeping. By the same token, seeing your body while floating above it could also be a result of dreaming coupled together with the captured senses of the environment around you. Your unconscious self may not be aware of what’s going on around you, but your brain will still be collecting the sounds, smells and sometimes the sights of that environment.

The staple of the NDE, the white light at the end of a tunnel, may also now have a less exciting explanation than confirmation of life after death. Scientists believe this sensation is triggered as a result of the brain shutting down and being starved of oxygen. Tests in high gravity environments have shown that our eyes naturally create a tunnel effect when they start to lose oxygen, so seeing a white light at the end of a tunnel when close to death suddenly becomes much less enigmatic.

For all that is written about life after death, there is not a single shred of verifiable evidence to confirm that we, or more specifically our souls, live on after our bodies have died. In those instances where people claim to have found proof of it, a cursory look at their data reveals shoddy research, vague assumptions and a distinct lack of objectivity.

We’ll be looking at some of those claims in a future article, but assuming what happens after you die is nothing, why should this be a reason for so much concern in the first place?

Multi-award-winning writer/comedian Ricky Gervais said it best; You remember what it felt like for the 14 billion years before you were born? It’s exactly like that.

 

What do you think happens when we die? Let us know in the comments below.



Filed under: Reality — Tags: , , , , — Stephen Broadbent @ 5:12 pm




May 16, 2011

Stephen Hawking: Heaven a fairy story


Stephen HawkingEnglish theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has described heaven as a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark”.

His comments came in an interview with Ian Sample, science correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Hawking has experienced a number of health scares since being diagnosed with life threatening motor neurone disease when he was 21, the most recent when he was hospitalised in the US in 2009.

When asked in the interview what, if anything he feared about death, Hawking replied:

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Such as statement is not likely to go down well those who have a belief in God or are swayed by religion. Stephen Hawking ruffled feathers only last year with his book The Grand Design, where he wrote:

“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God…”

Put in the simplest terms, there is a very high probability that he is right. If he isn’t, then we all win. If he is correct, what does it matter anyway? If, after death, there is simply nothing, we won’t be aware of it so there’s no real reason to fear it. We weren’t aware of the 13 billion years that had already passed before we were born, so the chances are pretty high that the next 13 billion will be exactly the same.

One thing is for certain. Stephen Hawking possesses quite possibly the greatest mind of our times. When he speaks, we should listen.



Filed under: Reality — Tags: , , — Stephen Broadbent @ 9:52 pm






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