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Shostaks's 'Phoenix Lights' With Rebuttals

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Thu, 01 May 2008 09:27:59 -0700
Archived: Thu, 01 May 2008 19:27:29 -0400
Subject: Shostaks's 'Phoenix Lights' With Rebuttals


Greetings Listers,

Seth Shostak offered up some penscript (at his blog) on the
recent hoax in Phoenix, and to no surprise melded the events of
March '97 into the piece.

He exemplifies the "cognitive bias" that permeates mainstream
science in regards to aerial phenomenon. Below is his article,
followed by my comments.

Shostak's erroneous essay precipitated a response by Mike Fortson
(eye witness to the Phoenix Lights) as well.

-----

Source: Are We A Blog?

A companion to the Are We Alone? radio show

http://setiradio.blogspot.com/2008/04/phoenix-lights.html

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Phoenix Lights
By Seth Shostak

http://tinyurl.com/6nbz8e

Some people are convinced that extraterrestrials are visiting
Phoenix, presumably because they like the feel of wide-open
spaces or have a penchant for Tex-Mex cuisine.

On Monday, April 21, strange lights once again lit up the night
sky of this sprawling Arizona burg, and hung in the air for
enough time that they were seen by hundreds (and probably
thousands) of residents. Most of these Arizonans remembered that
more than a decade ago, in March of 1997, there were two
incidents of strange luminance in the darkened skies of Arizona,
events that some people still think are mysterious -- and
possibly due to alien visitation. These were the original
"Phoenix Lights" (which sound like a cigarette brand, but aren't.)

Those two long-ago events actually have prosaic explanations,
however. The first, a triangular pattern of lights that swept in
from southern Nevada, seems to have been a small phalanx of
aircraft. To me, the most convincing evidence that this is true
is the report of an amateur astronomer who looked at the
formation with his scope, and could see that they were planes.
Amateur astronomers (unlike the general public) are experienced
observers of the sky. They're also clever enough to realize that
if they had seen true extraterrestrial craft, nothing could be
more interesting. I don't think they'd lie. I don't think this
amateur did lie.

The second 1997 event was a string of lights that was visible
over the city for quite a while (tens of minutes). This can best
be ascribed to flares dropped during a (later announced) military
exercise miles from the city. Indeed, there's confirmation that
this explanation is correct from some work done by an Arizona
State astronomer in which he matched the appearance and
disappearance of these lights with their expected obscuration by
the Sierra Estrella mountain range southwest of Phoenix. Call me
biased (and in this regard I am), but I trust the work of
astronomers.

So, putting it bluntly, I don't think there's any reason to
believe that the luminous phenomena that were on display on March
13, 1997 were anything other than human activity. This is
important, because the Phoenix Lights are frequently cited as one
of the most compelling events supporting the contention that
Earth is being visited by beings from afar.

As for the Phoenix Lights of this week... well, they seem to have
been a "knock off" hoax by someone who set off some helium
balloons to which some lit road flares were attached.

It's not impossible, of course, that aliens could come to Earth.
It's also not impossible that they would choose to entertain the
residents of central Arizona with their light shows. But if you
think this is true, then the evidence has to be better than what
it is. Ranting about cover-up and closed minds isn't evidence --
it's merely whining.

And one should always consider simple explanations first. If you
find a dead raccoon on the side of a road, you might consider
that it was killed by aliens. But you should also weigh the
possibility that it was hit by a car.

-----

Commentary By Frank Warren

Kudos to you for being one of the few SETI folk who compels me
to respond when you address the UFO bailiwick.

You wrote:

"Some people are convinced that extraterrestrials are visiting
Phoenix..."

This statement (pertaining to the recent balloon/flare hoax) IMHO
is akin to saying that the WOW signal was a phone call from a
galactic neighbor.

Sadly there are most certainly people that hold that mindset in
both examples; however, methinks the number is minute.

You wrote:

"... in March of 1997, there were two incidents of strange
luminance in the darkened skies of Arizona..."

I'm afraid that statement is fallacious to be polite; in March of
'97 there were multiple "UFO related events" seen from coast to
coast in several states; many which described a "huge V-shaped
craft"; sightings were predominant in Arizona with witnesses in
the tens of thousands (given the fact that eyes were to the skies
in anticipation for Hale/Bopp).

You wrote:

"The first, a triangular pattern of lights that swept in from
southern Nevada, seems to have been a small phalanx of aircraft.
To me, the most convincing evidence that this is true is the
report of an amateur astronomer who looked at the formation with
his scope, and could see that they were planes."

Most researchers/investigators of the "Phoenix Lights" do not
discount the declaration of "Mitch Stanley" (the amateur
astronomer you cite) although some have questioned "planes flying
wing tip to wing tip" at night.

In general however, his statement(s) is accepted as fact. That
said, this certainly doesn't negate the daytime sightings that
occurred on that date, as well as the multiple reports of a "huge
low flying craft" that evening all throughout the state of Arizona.

You wrote:

"The second 1997 event was a string of lights that was visible
over the city for quite a while (tens of minutes). This can best
be ascribed to flares dropped during a (later announced) military
exercise miles from the city."

Again you are mistaken; first this is one of many events (as
stated above), and second this event only lasted minutes as
evidenced by several video tapes of this particular happenstance.
It is agreed by most however, that the images were of "flares."

You wrote:

"So, putting it bluntly, I don't think there's any reason to
believe that the luminous phenomena that were on display on March
13, 1997 were anything other than human activity."

Since you have only cited "two events" that occurred on that
date, both of which most researchers/investigators agree with
your conclusion, one can only nod in the affirmative; however,
to draw a conclusion based on a small portion of the data
regarding the observation of multiple phenomena with respect,
isn't prudent. Moreover, it certainly doesn't conform to
scientific methodology, which given your position, title and
academic credentials, one would anticipate.

Finally, I am reminded that you have said on more then one
occasion that "you are not a Ufologist and you don't research the
subject"; this is certainly "apparent" here as evidenced by your
missive.

I equate this behavior to condemnation of a book one hasn't read.


Respectfully,

Frank Warren

-----

Source: Frank Warren's Blog

http://tinyurl.com/6pa9l9

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Phoenix Lights
By Mike Fortson

The article written by, "Seth Shostak" on the April 24, 2008,
entitled, "Phoenix Lights", appears like a ploy often times used
by "debunkers" to scoff at the truth of the "Massive UFO Flyover
of Arizona, March 13, 1997" otherwise known by most as, The
Phoenix Lights.

Shostak states that "only two events occurred that night"; one at
8:30 PM of high altitude planes, and another 10 PM, the flare drop.

He accredits the 8:30 PM high altitude planes to an amateur
astronomer who looked at the formation with his scope. My guess
is that he=92s never met this amateur astronomer, but I have; he
was a 19-year-old young man by the name of "Mitch Stanley." He
had a 10" Dobsonian telescope and at 8:30 PM or so on March 13,
he said to his mother, that he observed high-altitude,
fixed-winged aircraft flying in formation, wing tip to wing tip,
and it "was no big deal".

We met at Village Labs in Tempe, Arizona in August of that year
(=9297), while being filmed for a special by Discovery Channel.
There were dozens of witnesses along with young Mitch Stanley; as
Mitch spoke before the crowd while being filmed by Discovery
Channel, he told the story of his observance of the high-altitude
fixed wing craft, flying wing tip to wing tip; he claimed again,
"that it was no big deal" and in his own words he only observed
the formation for a few seconds and moved on to other things.

But here is where young Mitch struggled (keep in mind he was not
the youngest participant present). During the question and answer
segment, a couple of pilots and ex-military people responded that
at night no pilot would be willing to fly in such formation.
Especially wing_tip-to-wing_tip or even in tight formation, it=92s
just too dangerous... and at night this just isn=92t done!

Since Shostak is using Stanley=92s statement to paint a picture of
what occurred that night, and he commends "the work of the
astronomers" stating they=92re "experienced observers of the sky,"
one would think he would give the same esteem to "pilots" as well
(assuming he=92s even aware of the meeting that took place at
Village Labs).

Furthermore, a fact conveniently omitted was almost all the
witnesses in the 8:00 hour (to which I am one) recounted seeing a
"massive object" at an incredibly low altitude, which did not
emit any noise (i.e., engine or any type of propulsion etc)! Not
to mention the slow speed of the massive object as it seemed to
"glide" by the witnesses.

Some might think that I=92m just one of those goofy UFO nut cases
who makes wild claims, but, what if I were to say =85"I believe
there were high altitude aircraft present that night." Why not? I
believe that instead of civilian aircraft, they were military
aircraft! Not in a strange formation to attract attention, but to
observe the massive unidentified objects below. So Mitch could be
right that there were high altitude aircraft, and also wrong,
that this was "no big deal". Why wouldn=92t our military be
watching below as these massive unknowns paraded thru our state?
I mean they couldn=92t attack in a populated area. Why wouldn=92t
they be watching?

Shostak mistakenly claims only "2" events occurred on March 13th,
1997, to offer a clearer picture, there were multiple events
beginning at 5:30 PM and well extending thru 2:00 AM March 14,
1997. Please keep in mind that the 5:30 PM sighting was during
daylight, with sixteen witnesses and "a telescope certainly
wasn=92t necessary" as they watched in awe. Moreover, these
witnesses claimed that as 2 fighter jets approached from the
south, the three massive V shaped craft "pancaked" on top of each
other, formed a white ball of light and vanished!

Then at 8:16 PM near Paulden, AZ., more sightings of massive
objects began; not just one or two events, but multiple events
were in play! Anyone who has been involved with the massive
sightings of March 13, 1997, will tell you that dozens of
fantastic reports were never told. Any attempt to wash it away
as high altitude aircraft is negligent, and or ignorant of the
facts in my view.

High altitude aircraft will not stop a little league game; high
altitude aircraft will not discourage a police helicopter during
search and rescue training from going up and seeing what it is;
high altitude aircraft will not stop traffic along the highways
and cause the drivers to get out and watch... but a massive V
shaped craft that=92s incredibly low, nearly a mile long and
totally quiet will!

I may agree with the notion that in the area southwest of
Phoenix an intentional diversionary flare drop did occur. I
agree with Dr. Bruce Maccabee that these flares would have to
have been ignited around 16,000=92 in order to be seen by a few
mountainside residents where five videos were shot; by the way,
less than 5% of all witnesses are in the 10 PM hour.

In conclusion, anyone choosing to debunk the, "Massive UFO
Flyover of Arizona, March 13, 1997" needs do their homework! "In
part," a proper investigation and or analysis of the event
requires actually speaking/interviewing witnesses and
"listening" to what they have to say.

Cherry picking snippets from "old biased articles" on the
Internet to shore-up ones viewpoint, as it seems is the case
here is asinine!



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