- One of the most oft-quoted truisms of civilized man is,
"The pen is mightier than the sword." The correct implication
behind this is that words have the power to effect change on a prodigious
scale. But make no mistake, this sword is double-edged. The problem with
all instruments of "war" is that they can harm the innocent as
well as destroy the evil, imprison the just as well as prosecute the guilty.
Rather than lancing the flesh and maiming the body, the pen in the hands
of the misguided and arrogant can assault the spirit with lies and half-truths,
- desecrate the mind with illogic and flawed reason.
- Nothing is more dangerous than the words of a pseudo-skeptic.
To whom do I refer when I use this disparaging term? The pseudo-skeptic
is not someone to underestimate. He often speaks and writes with with impeccable
grammar and poetic flare. His educational background is sometimes based
in the "hard sciences" of medicine, physics, mathematics, and
biology. Through years of training and arduous study, he has come to see
the world as it "really" is, in black and white and three dimensions.
Although he presents himself as an ambassador of science, a paragon of
intellectual integrity, and an open-minded rational thinker, he simply
KNOWS that he and his ilk can not be wrong about anything of real import.
After all, he's just too darn smart. Sun comes up, sun goes down, gravity
dominates, and nary a mystery remains in all the glory of Creation.
- Even hopelessly flawed arguments posited by the pseudo-skeptic
can have the power to flummox his opponents. In heated debates, he need
not speak Truth to emerge "victorious." Games of semantics, creative
ad hominem, and the deliberate misstatement of his opponents' positions
are quite effective and oft-used tactics in his intellectual battles. The
potential violence of King's English is brought to its greatest fruition
by the pseudo-skeptic. With his back against the ropes, he will daze his
opponent with a well-placed quote from Carl Sagan ("Extraordinary
claims require extraordinary evidence!"), send him reeling with the
words "You can't prove a negative!", then slash his throat with
Occam's Razor ("The simplest explanation is also the most likely!").
- These ordinarily sound scientific platitudes are used
as the ultimate "get out of jail free" cards for pseudo-skeptics
who have no answers to inconvenient questions. Let's examine Sagan's assertion
that "extrarordinary" claims require "extraordinary"
evidence. The problem with this statement is that popular science does
not require extraordinary evidence for its extraordinary claims. Big Bang
theory may be the most extraordinary claim in the history of popular science.
Here we have an idea that can be neatly encapsulated in eight words: "At
first, there was nothing...then it exploded." (Source: http://w3trid.com/~wboggs/comics.html)
But how can NOTHING explode? Big Bang theory "defies gravity"
and violates innumerable laws of physics, it remains a HYPOTHETICAL mathematical
model, yet it is promoted as truth by NASA and institutions of higher learning
around the world. Why has the mainstream never demanded the same standards
of Big Bang theorists that it does of "paranormal" proponents?
- Where are the "double-blind tests" validating
Big Bang theory? Has Big Bang theory been tested by JREF or other skeptical
- What about Einstein's theory of relativity? The general
public seems unaware that it has always been and is stil a matter of contention
among accredited scientists. As Marcus Coleman writes (From http://www.wbabin.net/physics/marcus.htm):
- "Einstein's relativity was not accepted by a number
of his contemporaries. Rutherford, widely thought of as the 'father of
nuclear physics', considered it to be nonsense. Columbia University astronomer
C.L. Poor in 1922,'26 & '30 gave unassailable refutations of the claims
of Eddington, i.e., that observations of the 1919 South American solar
eclipse confirmed Einstein's predicted gravitational attraction of light.
(Poor also documents a similar situation existing with the 1922 West Australian
eclipse and the claims of Campbell & Trumpler.) It was this 'proof'
espoused by Eddington however, which brought Einstein his first acclaim
and greatest fame.
- "Poor showed clearly that the actual observations
were not what was claimed and that they did not support Einstein's prediction.
This is still a valid refutation of Einstein's presumed gravitational attraction
of light, and notwithstanding the 'Gravitational Lensing' phenomenon, still
remains standing as an unanswered challenge to Einstein's general theory
of relativity and theory of gravitation. As a side issue, this relegates
the concept of 'black holes' to pure science fiction as many non-conventional
scientists contend - that is, despite evidence of the most recent discoveries
being claimed as proof of their existence (even to including the latest
data concerning the centre of the Milky Way), such 'proof' does not survive
- My point here is not to argue one side or another in
debates over specific cosmological questions, but rather to demonstrate
that these most sacred "truths" of popular science are in reality
EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS which have never required EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE.
- A more accurate phrase to describe the standards of pseudo-skeptics
(and, I'm sorry to say, much of the mainstream) is, "UNPOPULAR claims
require extraordinary evidence." In its time, Galileo's thesis was
considered quite extraordinary, as was Newton's. Why should this have been
held against them? What is wrong with judging the evidence of a claim on
its MERIT, while ignoring all pre-conceived notions of what is possible
- Other scientific platitudes, and the inappropriateness
with which they are used by pseudo-skeptics, will be examined as we continue.
- Part one of this essay dealt with the issue of psychic
phenomena, and the tactics and arguments used by self-described skeptics
to debunk it. I had originally intended to cover the UFO and crop circle
enigmas in this piece, but due to constraints of space and the mutually
exclusive elements of the two phenomena, I must address them in separate
- The UFO issue is terribly complex, and the body of data
massive. I had hoped to address its many aspects in a single chapter, but
this can not be done with out omitting tremendous amounts of important
evidence. I will break it in to 4 parts to be addressed individually in
- I. Official government explanations/denials
- II. Mass sightings/corroborated eye witness testimony.
- III. Photographic and videotape evidence.
- Some of the material covered may seem passe to UFO fans,
but as I stated in installment one of this series, this essay is written
for skeptics and to skeptics - many of whom either ignore or have never
heard of the cases I will cite as potentially compelling evidence of UFOs'
- I. OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT EXPLANATIONS/DENIALS
- 1. The Battle of Los Angeles
- Popular culture regards the Roswell event of July, 1947
as the birthdate of UFOlogy. However, surprisingly few people are aware
of an UFO event which pre-dated Roswell by five years. The Battle of Los
Angeles has been characterized by some as the most well-documented UFO
mass sighting in history. As national talk show host Jeff Rense writes
(from http://www.rense.com/ufo/battleofla.htm), "Have you ever heard
of the Battle of Los Angeles? Few have. Imagine a visiting spacecraft from
another world, or dimension, hovering over a panicked and blacked-out LA
in the middle of the night just weeks after Pearl Harbor at the height
of WWII fear and paranoia. Imagine how this huge ship, assumed to be some
unknown Japanese aircraft, was then attacked as it hung, nearly stationary,
over Culver City and Santa Monica by dozens of Army anti-aircraft batteries
firing nearly 2,000 rounds of 12 pound, high explosive shells in full view
of hundreds of thousands of residents. Imagine all of that and you have
an idea of what was the Battle of Los Angeles."
- On February 24th, 1942, naval intelligence issued a warning
that an attack on American soil could be expected within 10 hours. That
evening, "flares" and "blinking lights" were reported
near defense plants, and on the morning of the 25th, radars picked up an
unidentified target 120 miles west of Los Angeles. The object was tracked
within a few miles of the coast, and at 0221 a blackout was ordered by
the regional controller. The "mysterious object" tracked from
sea inexplicably "vanished," but the information center was subsequently
flooded with reports of "enemy planes." Shortly before 0300,
a coast artillery colonel spotted "about 25 planes" at 12,000
feet over Los Angeles. Shortly after 0300, an object described as a "balloon
carrying a red flare" was spotted over Santa Monica, and was subsequently
fired upon anti-aircraft artillery.
- Over the next three hours, varieties of aircraft described
as "balloons" and "planes" were fired upon by Naval
forces. >From http://www.militarymuseum.org: "'swarms' of planes
(or, sometimes, balloons) of all possible sizes, numbering from one to
several hundred, traveling at altitudes which ranged from a few thousand
feet to more than 20,000 and flying at speeds which were said to have varied
from 'very slow' to over 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across
the skies. These mysterious forces dropped no bombs and, despite the fact
that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against them,
suffered no losses. There were reports, to be sure, that four enemy planes
had been shot down, and one was supposed to have landed in flames at a
Hollywood intersection." (Note: Conventional aircraft of the time
were generally not capable of flight greater than 200 miles per hour, so
the estimated speed of the "swarming planes" at "over 200
miles per hour" may be open to interpretation.)
- The next morning, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox announced
that there was no evidence of enemy planes, and the raid was merely a "false
alarm." However, his view was not shared by everyone. From www.militarymuseum.org:
"The Army had a hard time making up its mind on the cause of the alert.
A report to Washington, made by the Western Defense Command shortly after
the raid had ended, indicated that the credibility of reports of an attack
had begun to be shaken before the blackout was lifted. This message predicted
that developments would prove 'that most previous reports had been greatly
exaggerated.' The Fourth Air Force had indicated its belief that there
were no planes over Los Angeles. But the Army did not publish these initial
conclusions. Instead, it waited a day, until after a thorough examination
of witnesses had been finished. On the basis of these hearings, local commanders
altered their verdict and indicated a belief that from one to five unidentified
airplanes had been over Los Angeles."
- Major newspapers across American were unhappy with official
explanations offered by the military. On February 28th, the NY Times wrote
in an editorial, "If the batteries were firing on nothing at all,
as Secretary Knox implies, it is a sign of expensive incompetence and jitters.
If the batteries were firing on real planes, some of them as low as 9,000
feet, as Secretary Stimson declares, why were they completely ineffective?
Why did no American planes go up to engage them, or even to identify them?..."
- While the official testimony remains that no American
planes engaged the "enemy", at least one eye witness account
contradicts this claim. Jeff Rense documented the story of "Katie,"
an artist and interior decorator who witnessed these events from her home
in west LA. From http://www.rense.com/com/ufo/battleofla.htm: "In
the early morning hours of February 25th, Katie's phone rang. It was the
Air Raid supervisor in her district notifying her of an alert and asking
if she had seen the object in the sky very close to her home. She immediately
walked to a window and looked up. 'It was huge! It was just enormous! And
it was practically right over my house. I had never seen anything like
it in my life!" she said. "It was just hovering there in the
sky and hardly moving at all.' With the city blacked out, Katie, and hundreds
of thousands of others, were able to see the eerie visitor with spectacular
clarity. 'It was a lovely pale orange and about the most beautiful thing
you've ever seen. I could see it perfectly because it was very close. It
- "The U.S. Army anti-aircraft searchlights by this
time had the object completely covered. 'They sent fighter planes up (the
Army denied any of its fighters were in action) and I watched them in groups
approach it and then turn away. There were shooting at it but it didn't
seem to matter.' Katie is insistent about the use of planes in the attack
on the object. The planes were apparently called off after several minutes
and then the ground cannon opened up. 'It was like the Fourth of July but
much louder. They were firing like crazy but they couldn't touch it.' The
attack on the object lasted over half an hour before the visitor eventually
disappeared from sight. Many eyewitnesses talked of numerous 'direct hits'
on the big craft but no damage was seen done to it. 'I'll never forget
what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvelous. And what a georgeous color!',
- The mystery of the Battle of Los Angeles is deepened
by modern photo analysis, which some feel indicates that the "object"
fired upon by Naval forces was a single, enormous craft. (http://www.rense.com/ufo/battleofla.htm
- Some have said that the massive anti-air craft fire was
the real source of sightings of exotic craft. However, it must be noted
that before the "battle" began an unidentified craft was spotted
on naval radar, an artillery colonel saw what he described as "25
planes" at over 12,000 feet, and an object described as a "balloon
carrying a red flare" was spotted over Santa Monica.
- Skeptics of this case insist that it was a case of "mass
hysteria" brought on the military's post-Pearl Harbor jitters. But
like many "explanations" offered by self-described skeptics,
it does not take into account a large body of evidence, including the hopelessly
contradictory and illogical assertions we find in the official testimony.
- 2. Roswell
- The 1990's witnessed an emergence of "new"
evidence in the famous Roswell case of 1947. Alleged debris from the crash
wreckage, new eye witness accounts, and "declassified documents,"
in conjunction with the 50th anniversay of the event's date, created a
maelstorm of Roswell media coverage, much of which was horrendously inaccurate
and incompetently researched. Some "news" reports actually asserted
that no one cared about Roswell until its anniversay celebration in 1997
- a notion so numbingly ignorant as to be unworthy of comment.
- I have always believed that the most interesting aspect
of this case is the Air Force's own statements in its series of official
press releases. On 3 occasions, the USAF has issued totally contradictory
explanations for Roswell, none of which allows for the possibility that
any of the others is true.
- Press release number one is of course the most famous.
On July 8th, 1947, an official USAF press release, approved by Lt. Walter
Haut, announced that the "mystery of the flying saucers" had
been solved, when wreckage of a "flying disc" was recovered near
the home of New Mexico rancher Mac Brazel. Remember the date of this event,
as it will prove critical when examining future "official denials"
from the USAF.
- Official accounts of the Roswell event were carried by
the Associated Press on July 8th and 9th, 1947, and ran in numerous major
newspapers across the country, including the LA Herald Express (Link: http://roswellproof.homestead.com/LA_HeraldExpress_July8.html
), the New York Times (Link: http://roswellproof.homestead.com/New_York_Times_July9.html),
and the Washington Post (Link: http://roswellproof.homestead.com/Washington_Post_July9.html).
- Excerpt from the July 8th AP account in the LA Herald
- ROSWELL, N. M., July 8--The Army Air Force here today
announced a flying disc had been found on a ranch near Roswell and is in
- Lieut. Warren Haught [sic], public-information officer
of the Roswell Army Air Field, announced the find had been made "sometime
last week" and had been turned over to the air field through co-operation
of the sheriff's office.
- "It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field
and subsequently flown" by Major Jesse A. Marcel, of the 509th Bomb
Group Intelligence Office at Roswell 'to higher headquarters.' (END EXCERPT)
- Brigadeer General Roger Ramey retracted this story hours
later, saying that the "flying disc" was nothing more than a
common weather ballon.
- This official explanation of the USAF stood until June
of 1997, when Air Force spokesman Colonel Weaver announced that the Roswell
"flying saucer" was actually the remnants of "anthropomorphic
dummies" used by the USAF in "high altitude aircraft escape projects."
Colonel Weaver asserted that these "test dummy experiments" were
done by the Air Force "from 1953 to 1959."
- CNN reported: "But these tests didn't take place
until the early 1950's. Three years after the Roswell sightings. Colonel
Weaver, who edited the report, says the Pentagon believes witnesses simply
got the year wrong." (Source: http://www.ufomind.com/area51/list/1997/jun/a20-003.shtml
- CNN got the dates wrong, as well, as the test dummy experiments
were done AT LEAST 6 years after the indisputable Roswell date.
- It can not be overemphasized that details of the USAF's
"test dummy" theory do not and hold up to any scrutiny. Weaver's
assertion that eye witnesses are "confused" about Roswell's date
is one of the most egregious lies ever told by any branch of the US government.
Archived newspaper accounts from July of 1947, and the audio of an ABC
news radio broadcast from July 8th 1947 (Link: http://roswellproof.homestead.com/ABC_News_July8.html
), serve to utterly repudiate the "test dummy" cover story.
- Let's apply common sense to this issue. If the "test
dummy" explanation is true (which it can't be), then how can anyone
explain the "weather balloon" explanation from 1947? Are we to
believe that the test dummies traveled back in time 6-12 years, and the
Air Force, fearing the effect that public discloure of the dummies' reality
would have on national security, contrived the "weather balloon"
lie as a cover? As talk show host Craig Kilborn once said, "The government
was keeping this secret for all these years to protect the families of
the dummies." Again, none of this matters, because we KNOW that Roswell
happened in 1947, and by the Air Force's own admission, no test dummy experiments
were performed before 1953!
- Hello, Roswell skeptics? Anyone home?
- Since Occam's Razor is oft-cited by skeptics as a great
investigational guideline, let's use it here. What is the simplest explanation
to the Roswell question? In answering this, let's reference yet another
great investigational guideline, offered by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, through
the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Remove the impossible, and whatever
remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
- Official denial number three (the test dummy explanation)
can not be true. So what is left? Call me naive, but I can not believe
that the Air Force is so staggeringly incompetent as to cite such blatantly
false and easily disproven facts through simple error. So if they are indeed
lying, the question is, what are they covering up? Some Roswell skeptics
have speculated that a SECRET SOVIET SPY BALLOON crashed in New Mexico
in 1947 (see Project Mogul), but what rationale would our government have
for continuing to keep this secret today, with the Cold War long over?
- We glean from the pseudo-skeptics' reaction to Roswell
what they REALLY mean when they demand "extraordinary evidence."
Anecdotal evidence can be quite extraordinary, and is more than sufficient
in judicial proceedings, sometimes resulting in murder convictions and
executions. If incontrovertible, physical proof is necessary to remove
all "reasonable doubt" of a person's guilt, then we must have
imprisoned nothing but innocent people prior to the advent of DNA testing.
- In the case of UFO's, the only evidence the pseudo-skeptics
will consider "extraordinary" is a dead alien carted out by the
President on national television. Skeptics, I ask you, am I wrong?
- END PART TWO
- Michael Goodspeed is a twenty-eight year old writer and
radio personality who makes his home in Portland, OR.