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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 18

Magonia Supplement No. 49

From: John Rimmer <jrimmer.nul>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 19:09:15 +0000
Fwd Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 16:25:32 -0500
Subject: Magonia Supplement No. 49


Here for your edification is Magonia Supplement 49. The main
items in this issue are John Harney's review of "Sight Unseen"
by Budd Hopkins, and Martin Kottmeyer counterintutively
questioning the theory that media publicity creates UFO flaps.

It is also available as an HTML document on the Magonia website
at:

http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk/arc/00/ms49.htm

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EDITORIAL

For many UFO enthusiasts, one of their chief frustrations is
that mainstream science does not take them seriously. One would
think that the best solution to this problem would be to make
their research methods and theorising rigorously logical and
scientific. But no, the favoured procedure is to denounce the
more outrageous ufologists, who tour the crazy conferences,
telling delighted audiences what they obviously want to hear,
and giving their backing to those who seem slightly less crazy,
if only because they are slightly less flamboyant. That these
"scientific" ufologists are not really sincere in their stated
desire for objectivity always becomes obvious as they react with
rage to any attempts to subject their favourite UFO cases, or
the theories of their favourite fellow ufologists, to critical
examination

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

KEYHOE AND THE 'MODEST SURGE' OF 1950

Martin S. Kottmeyer

NOW WE GIVE evidence for probably the funniest paradox of the
theory that flaps are caused by media, introduced by a quote we
take from Philip Klass's UFO Explained (Vintage, 1974, p. 322.)


=85during the five-year period from 1947 to 1951, the number of
UFO reports submitted to the USAF averaged fewer than fifteen
per month. This included a modest surge during 1950 when Donald
Keyhoe, the principal early publicizer of the extraterrestrial
hypothesis, published his first UFO book, filled with
extravagant claims and charges of a high-level government
conspiracy to withhold the "truth from the public." [his
italics, as usual]

The book had its first test market release in Midwest bookstores
on 27 May and had general release on 5 June . (Loren Gross,
UFOs: A History: 1950: April - July, p. 51)

What leaps out at you when you look at the Blue Book numbers of
1950 is that May and June are actually the two lightest months
of that year. This is even less than that magically small
average of the 1947-51 period - fifteen.

1950 Blue Book tally by month

Jan   15  
Feb   13  
Mar   41  
Apr   17  
May   8   
Jun   9   
Jul   21  
Aug   21  
Sep   19  
Oct   17  
Nov   14  
Dec   15  

Uh-oh, this looks bad, you think. But then you remember that
Keyhoe's book was actually just a fleshing out of an article he
did for True magazine several months earlier. It was the article
that was the big sensation. UFO historian David Jacobs, in fact,
said of it:

This issue of True was the most widely sold and read in the
magazine's history. Indeed, it was one of the most widely read
and discussed articles in publishing history.

(The UFO Controversy in America Indiana University Press, 1975/
Signet, September 1976, pp. 49-50)

Loren Gross's account of the article's release concurs it
generated great excitement. Frank Edwards got an early copy of
the article on 21 December 1949 and was so impressed, he leaned
on True's editor to let him break the story, despite a prior
agreement with Walter Winchell letting him be first. Edwards's
broadcast generated enough interest to lead to an Associated
Press article the following afternoon. On the 24th the magazine
hit the streets and Winchell plugged it on his broadcast. This
gave the article international attention and an aura of
journalistic acceptance rarely given the subject. (Loren Gross
UFOs: A History: Volume 2: 1949, pp. 63-4)

Yet, the report numbers for January and February similarly fail
to rise above fifteen. It isn't until March that the 'modest
surge' appears. It may be tempting to blame this on seasonal
factors. December and January are typically light months for UFO
activity presumably because of the cold and cloudiness. But then
we are back to why there was no reaction to the release of the
book in June as reading Klass would lead you to expect.

Curtis Peebles notes that True followed up Keyhoe's article with
a second article in their March issue penned by Commander R.B.
McLaughlin, the former commander of White Sands Proving Ground.
He recounted a 24 April 1949 incident that he was convinced was
a flying saucer from another planet piloted by animate
intelligent beings. His claim ends up reading:

The twin articles sparked a wave of publicity and sightings
during early 1950.
(Watch the Skies, Smithsonian Institution, 1994, p. 44)

The most spectacular case of this period was the Farmington, New
Mexico incident of 17 March 1950 where thousands of saucers were
seen by inhabitants. It was eventually blamed on fragments of a
burst and frozen Skyhook balloon. In the next paragraph,
however, the twin articles became a trio. In the April issue,
"mailed in late March" Peebles adds, the magazine carried seven
photos of flying saucers, albeit their quality was self-
evidently low.

By the end of spring 1950, flying saucers had received several
months of steady publicity in the wake of the Keyhoe article.
(ibid., p. 44)

All very informative, but the puzzle is why reports are
concentrated in March and by the end of the spring numbers are
dropping. Only MacLaughlin's piece is set close to the start of
the March surge. Why do the other two articles fail to create
individual surges of their own. Worse, MacLaughlin's article is
the least exciting of the three. Still worse, the biggest story
about flying saucers in March had nothing to do with McLaughlin.

On 9 March 1950, R.L. Dimmick's tale of seeing a 23 inch long
corpse taken from a crashed saucer around Mexico City hit the
scene. As Loren Gross tells it:

Teletypes sent the story across the nation. Radio stations
filled the airwaves. This triggered scores of requests for more
information about the alleged amazing event. The Chicago
Tribune complained its phone lines became tied into knots. The
Pentagon came under siege by newsmen seeking details but the
annoyed High Command professed ignorance=85 (UFOs: A History:
1950: January -March pp. 37-8)

Time magazine, in its 17 April 1950 issue, was driven to comment
on the frenzy Dimmick stirred up with his story, confirming it
as the prominent story of this period. When you place R.L.
Dimmick's tale on the time chart, it looks ideal to be the
likely cause of the March surge. This solution has its own
interesting aspects. Dimmick's tale was basically confessed as a
hoax and has no defenders these days. Yet this false tale
generates a minor flap of reports that includes a notorious
case, Farmington, defended by sixties UFO icon James McDonald
and still accepted as mysterious by certain ufologists.

I automatically sympathise with those who feel this is all quite
counterintuitive. How could Keyhoe's writings, whose seminal
importance and popularity is accepted by all, not have created
an important flap? Why, in fact, do the numbers seem to go down
in the days after their first release? How could the Dimmick
tale, whose present-day obscurity is well-deserved, have caused
this 'modest surge'? Yet that is what the evidence points to. A
funny paradox, indeed, if you think media attention is the
critical factor in the creation of UFO flaps.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LITERARY CRITICISM

John Harney gets infuriatingly supercilious about a recent
addition to the UFO abduction literature

Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey, Sight Unseen: Science, UFO
Invisibility and Transgenic Beings, Atria Books, New York, 2003
There are several reasons why the work of Budd Hopkins attracts
criticism and the principal one is the fact that he evidently
regards abduction narratives as being true accounts of real,
physical events. In his book on the Linda Napolitano abduction
case, this led to all manner of absurdities, including the then
secretary-general of the United Nations being asked some very
silly questions. This new book is just as crazy, even though his
wife, Carol Rainey, has attempted to give it a veneer of
respectability by giving snippets of information about
developments in applied science and arguing that the fantastic
details of UFO abduction stories are not in conflict with basic
scientific principles.

Hopkins insists that UFO encounter reports are not the results
of hallucinations, sleep paralysis, or hoaxes. "The skilled UFO
researcher has learned how to identify such mundane
explanations, thus avoiding pursuit of any vague, dubious, and
unsupported accounts." The main problem here is that the
abductees get to know what Hopkins expects of them. If he
considers their cases important they are repeatedly questioned,
as well as some of them attending his abductee support group.

We are told that: "Out of the mass of credible reports that
remain, the supporting physical, medical and photographic
evidence is so consistent that none of the debunkers'
psychological or psychosocial theories can begin to explain it
away. Over the years, for better or for worse, I have come to
believe that UFO abductions are real, event-level occurrences."
Of course, physical, medical and photographic evidence does
exist in connection with many of these stories, but, as Hopkins
carefully avoids pointing out, there are always mundane
explanations which can be considered to account for such
evidence.

What appears to be a new departure for Hopkins is his discussion
of extraordinary accounts, which do not fit in with the rather
stereotyped abduction narrative which he has developed in co-
operation with David Jacobs and a few other investigators. This
time he gives us some stories reminiscent of John Keel's The
Mothman Prophecies. He doesn't mention Keel of course, as he is
an "unperson" in certain sections of American ufology.

These stories are interesting, but Hopkins's determination to
take them as being accurate accounts of real physical events
results in much absurd theorising and pseudoscientific
speculation. One of them concerns the abductee Katharina Wilson
who told Hopkins about an occasion when she flew from Portland,
Oregon to Chicago to speak at a UFO conference. Two of the
organisers of the conference had arranged to meet her at the
airport. Although her plane was on time she was about an hour
late in meeting the organisers. Hopkins, of course, attributes
this "missing time" to a probable abduction, with the result
that the story becomes more convoluted and complicated than the
original report. It seems that Wilson started to feel somewhat
confused while still on the plane. When she got off she visited
the women's toilet near the gate and allegedly had trouble
washing her hands. The washbasins had automatic taps operated by
sensors, but when she put her hand under them nothing happened,
although the other women there had no trouble. She felt panicky
and asked a woman: "Am I invisible or something?" The woman did
not answer, which she thought very odd, though the most likely
explanation is that the woman thought she was crazy.

Two chapters are devoted to discussing this case, one written by
Hopkins and the other obviously by his wife who writes: "In
looking at Katharina Wilson's troubling, confusing experience at
O'Hare Airport, we may speculate about an abduction, or a
changeable human energy field, even the possibility of
teleportation, although we currently possess a limited knowledge
of such subjects." So it seems we can indulge in any sort of
fantastic speculation apart from the obvious one that Wilson was
suffering from one of her mental fugues which caused her to lose
an hour by wandering around aimlessly. This story will cause
more sensible readers to wonder, not about a "changeable human
energy field" (whatever that might be), but whether Wilson is
fit to be allowed out on her own.

As for the taps, Carol Rainey did some research on these devices
but probably didn't manage to get details of all the variations
on the theme of taps and other plumbing items worked by sensors.
She has assumed that the taps in the toilet visited by Katharina
Wilson were operated by holding one's hands under them, but I
have encountered a design in which the sensor is let into the
tiles above the basin and you have to touch it to turn the tap
on. If they were of this type and if Wilson, in her confused
state, failed to notice, then this explains the phenomenon. But
don't tell Hopkins, as he doesn't like mundane explanations.

We also have the fascinating story of the "phantom support
group", which is supported by "four credible witnesses". These
witnesses were actually two married couples, and Hopkins
interviewed the two men separately and the two women together.
Hopkins tells us that the accounts he received agreed with one
another but he doesn't give us the separate accounts; we are
merely given his interpretation of what he was told. Also, the
alleged events had taken place some years previously.

It is said that two ufologists, "Dennis" and "Don" had produced
a videotape of their investigation of an abduction case in their
area and had presented it at a meeting which was open to the
public and was attended by 15 to 20 people. A week later they
received a call from a man who said he had been at the meeting,
and he invited them to a meeting of his abductee support group.

This was a very odd meeting, in an apartment block, where
Dennis, Don and their wives were greeted by "a very strange
'blank-looking', rather short man . . . " The other people
present were also described as "blank-looking". The leader of
the group berated Don for making the video of the abduction
investigation. When questioned he claimed never to have heard of
Budd Hopkins or David Jacobs.

One of the strange persons present at the meeting was a
"mannequin like female whom they regarded as almost unnaturally
beautiful". She suddenly stood up. "As she did so, both men said
that she seemed to metamorphose into an incredibly ugly,
inhuman-looking creature with large eyes and sparse hair. It was
this metamorphosis that triggered their speedy exit from the
apartment."

This is all very strange, and very interesting if taken as an
example of modern folklore, although Hopkins obviously expects
us to believe that the incident really happened as described.
However, there are certain details which one would reasonably
expect to see included in such a story. Why are we not told the
name of the town where the incident took place? Why is there no
mention of any attempt being made to identify the owner of the
apartment or the person who rented it on the day of the
incident? Who are these keen ufologists who sell videos and hold
public meetings but insist on remaining incognito in the story?

We are told that the incident occurred in the "early 1990s", so
there has been plenty of time for confabulation, in addition to
Hopkins's editing of the accounts into a smoothly written
narrative. This would not matter if the authors did not regard
this as a description of a real event. They just cannot see how
their total rejection of the psychosocial approach to such
narratives gives rise to absurd speculations masquerading as
scientific theories.

There is much more that could be written about Hopkins's
technique of interpreting the weirdest UFO narratives literally,
in defiance of basic scientific principles and common sense. No
doubt he will respond to criticism of this book as he did with
his account of the Napolitano case (Witnessed), either by
ignoring it, or by indulging in character assassinations of his
more persistent critics.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Reviews by Peter Rogerson

Dave Blevins, UFO Directory International, McFarland and Co,
2003. =A328.00

Whereas the first edition of this directory published 10 years
ago was a privately published affair, this edition has been
produced by one of the leading publishers of specialist
reference books. Another main change is that most of the entries
contain e-mail addresses and web sites which were barely a gleam
in the early 1990s.

Most entries give name, address, telephone number, e-mail and
web sites for the various organisations, and sometimes give
publications and date of foundation. Most of the main entries
give a synopsis of the group's activities either supplied direct
or taken from their website. One omission which can be
significant in this field is that the names of the "leaders" of
the group are omitted and often have to be worked out from the
e-mail address.

It has to be said that there is an awful lot of padding; most of
the USA entries are for local branches of MUFON, and similar
listing of local branches pads out the Italian section. More
serious is the inclusion of the Aetherius Society, which surely
is a religious cult and not a UFO organisation of any kind.
Perhaps significantly the British section seems to have the
largest quota of unverified entries, some of of which seem to be
the same organisation under various incarnations. The perceptive
reader will also find it an amusing game working out which of
the UK organisations listed exist primarily in the fertile
imagination of Tim Hepple/Matthews.

But at least Magonia is listed, which is a rarity in these
things.

-----

John F. Moffitt, Picturing Extraterrestrials: Alien Images in
Modern Mass Culture, Prometheus, 2003

Presented with a book entitled Picturing Extraterrestrials
written by a retired professor of the history of art, you would
probably expect a glossy book full of gorgeous colour
illustrations of aliens taken from book and magazine covers,
film posters and the whole gamut of modern kitsch. What you get,
apart from 16 pages of black and white illustrations, is
mountains of text, discussing alien abduction narratives from a
generally sceptical viewpoint. Some good points are made, and
there are attempts at humour.

There is no doubt that this a wide ranging study; not many UFO
books will cover the influence of Swedenborg and Eliphas Levi on
symbolist art in the same pages which discuss the genesis of the
American cultural icon Betty Crocker (don't worry, fellow Brits,
I'm as baffled by this name as you are). The thesis seems to be
that the the abduction narratives are part of post-modernist
commercial culture; they are capitalist commodities, phenomena
of the world of TV and other pop kitsch images.

This is interspersed with general sceptical comments on the
abduction scene, and UFO history (of course Americocentric, and
containing a number of careless howlers). These are often
sensible enough but they have been made many times before, and
hardly seem the province of the art historian.

The cover describes this book as "accessible", but I am afraid
that this description is somewhat of a terminological
inexactitude; reading it was rather like swimming through
treacle. With a good, slashing editor, parts would have made
interesting Magonia articles, but the chapters just don't add up
to a coherent book. Why cannot Prometheus Books employ good
quality literary editors to make the manuscripts they receive
actually readable? The feeling is that anyone wearing an "I Love
Randi" badge can walk into the office and get their manuscripts
published regardless of literary merit.

-----

Stephen Webb, If the Universe is Teeming with Aliens, Where is
Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem
of Extraterrestrial Life, Copernicus and Praxis, 2002. $27.50

William C Burger, Perfect Planet, Clever Species, How Unique Are
We? Prometheus Books, 2003

Two books taking a critical look at the claims for
extraterrestrial intelligence which will offer little succour to
supporters of the ETH. Webb looks at a wide range of
explanations for the absence of the ETs or their signals,
ranging from the odd to the profound. He examines and largely
rejects most of the reasons given as to why ETs might actually
exist but wouldn't or couldn't be detected. Instead he sees the
absence of their evidence as pretty good evidence for their
absence. He argues that this absence is probably due to a
variety of factors, acting as a kind of sieve gradually reducing
the chances

As I argued in Magonia, Webb suggests that the belief in ETs is
a kind of arrogance masquerading as humility, the belief that
our kind of intelligence and the qualities we value in ourselves
have universal significance, and that other animals are somehow
failed animals. Aliens will be themselves, products of their own
evolutionary histories and not either surrogate or idealised
human beings and will not be pursuing human projects.

Burger comes to more or less the same conclusion after his rapid
survey of the development of life, humankind and scientific
culture on earth. For both authors the road to anthropomorphic,
spaceship and telescope building intelligences is littered with
too many astronomical, biological and cultural hurdles to be
anything but extremely rare.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


O D D S  A N D  E N D S

Laughlin laugh-in.

Anyone who wonders why the world of science refuses to take
ufology seriously has only to glance at the notices announcing
UFO conferences. For sheer absurdity they take some beating. The
Laughlin conference - 13th International UFO Congress - is to be
held from 8 to 14 February. Some of the delights which those
attending can look forward to include:

"WYNN FREE & DAVID WILCOCK - Wynn has done the hard research,
connecting the dots that show us a very persuasive picture of
David Wilcock as 'the reincarnated Edgar Cayce'. David has
reluctantly come to accept his past life history as Cayce, and
is now ready to advance both his personal karma (and ours) with
his new mission." What relevance this might have to UFOs is not
stated.

"RICH DOLAN - 'The Greatest Show in the Quadrant' - Humanity's
Impending Flame-Out and the Presence of Others: Our global
civilization is perched at the brink of collapse. How does the
existence of alien intelligence fit in? What might be their
perspectives and interests in human civilization's impending
flame-out? Anything we can do?" This lecture is followed by the
Lunch Break. Shouldn't this be the Out-to- lunch Break?

"WENDELLE STEVENS - Will present the case of Andreas Wiesengrun
from Germany, who willingly went aboard an ET ship for 3 days of
indoctrination. The 6 species aboard took turns showing him the
origin of Earth's humanity, and how we were genetically upgraded
to where we are now. They showed him where we are going when we
finally mature enough to leave the nest (our planet) and join
the sea of humanity freely living forever in space."

Santiago Yturria Garza (Mexico) is going to "present two brand
new cases from the UK". However, it seems that no British
ufologist is scheduled to present new cases from Mexico.

Also attending this circus will be Budd Hopkins and his wife
Carol Rainey, to plug their book Sight Unseen. Hopkins is always
moaning about scientists not taking him seriously, but if he
persists in attending events where most of the speakers are even
crazier than he is, then what can he expect?

-----

Even funnier.

Yet another feast of absurdity is promised at a conference to be
held in New Jersey on 27 and 28 March, sponsored by The UFO/ET
World Traveling Museum and Library of Scientific Anomalies.
Speakers and their topics are:

Jaime Maussan - from Mexico, the Top News Investigator of TV "60
minutes" discusses Ongoing Investigations of UFOs & ET News.

Jay Soloman - Contactee from the Pleiades Star System for 11
years in the 1990s discusses his experiences.

Vince DiPietro - From the Goddard Space Flight Center and author
of "Unusual Martian Surface Features" shows us more unusual Mars
features.

T. Peter Park, PhD discusses Pre-1947 UFO Sightings & CEIIIs
among other things.

Rosemary Eileen Guiley - discusses Vampires from Outer Space.

Michael Salla, PhD - discusses UFOs & ETs in World Politics.

Tom Van Flanders, PhD - discusses Life on Mars - More Anomalies,
Scientific Evidence for Life on Mars.

Anthony & Lynn Volpe - discuss How the Space People Interact
With Us & Their Own Experiences.

Any comment would be superfluous.

-----

Off his trolley.

Some years ago we published some items in Magonia about the
mysterious ticket eater who apparently haunted the tramways of
western Europe. This was an urban legend, but in recent years
some new tramways have been constructed in the British Isles and
the bizarre stories concerning them are usually literally true
rather than mythical. Like most forms of public transport the
trams are subject to the unwelcome attentions of window-
scratchers, graffiti artists, and other vandals and
troublemakers. But there seems to be something about trams which
makes some of them go to extremes. Here is a good example, from
a website conducted by Stephen Parascandolo (http://www.croydon-
tramlink.co.uk):

"On Friday 7th November, in the morning rush hour, a graffiti
artist was hard at work on a tram travelling eastbound from
Croydon to Elmers End. The driver was asked to get the culprit
to leave the tram at Blackhorse Lane, which eventually took
around 5 minutes once he realised the tram wasn't going anywhere
and the Police were nearby.

"However, he jumped onto a Croydon bound tram from Beckenham
Junction which was packed and pushed his way around trying to
graffiti as much as possible. With a major commotion on board,
it was decided to take 2548 out of service at East Croydon so
the Police could deal with the matter. Having unloaded the tram
at East Croydon, the culprit was still hard at work when the
Police arrived. They then had their work cut out as he went
berserk whilst on the floor being handcuffed and once in the
Police van tried his hardest to turn it over by rocking it from
side to side."

-----

Tiger woman.

Fifty people were arrested in Qom, India, as police broke up a
crowd that had assembled to watch the rumoured execution of a
half-woman, half tigress, on 9 November. Police told the crowd
the rumour was false, but they smashed windows in several
buildings as they attempted to disperse them. (The Daily
Telegraph, 10 November 2003)

-----

The husband in the bathroom.

A Turkish woman locked her rich husband naked in the bathroom
for three years, claiming that he was mentally disturbed,
according to the newspaper Hurriyet on 10 November.

-----

Orhan Babacutu, aged 41, was found traumatised, sitting on the
shower tiles next to the lavatory, with a bowl on the floor for
his food. His wife, Kevser, faces criminal charges. Mr Babacutu
said: "Her goal was to make me sick so that I die and she
inherits my fortune." He was freed after his mother called the
police.(The Daily Telegraph, 11 November 2003)

-----

The case of the cuddly goose.

When Van Thinh Le, from Vietnam, appeared before Barkingside
magistrates, charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a
wild animal, a Canada goose, Mark Jones, prosecuting for the
RSPCA, said that Thinh Le was caught with the goose under his
jacket in Wanstead Park, London. "The defendant opened his coat
and the goose fell.

"It lay motionless for some time before it was able to make its
way to the water. Mr Le said, 'I like to cuddle these animals. I
didn't realise this was against the law.' The concern of the
RSPCA is the reality that this bird was being taken for the
pot."

In mitigation, Robert Rye, defending Mr Le, said that goose
cuddling was a Vietnamese custom, and the birds were not taken
for the pot. Having pleaded guilty, Mr Le was told to pay =A3400
costs and given a two-year conditional discharge. The presiding
magistrate warned him not to try cuddling geese again.

Enquiries to the Vietnamese Embassy in London failed to elicit
any comments. (David Sapstead, 'Goose cuddle is a flight of
fancy', The Daily Telegraph, 5 December 2003)


--
John Rimmer
Magonia Magazine
www.magonia.demon.co.uk/arc/00/newmag.htm




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