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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Aug > Aug 7

Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 11:26:59 +0100
Archived: Sun, 07 Aug 2011 09:36:02 -0400
Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11


>From: Gerald O'Connell <goc.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 22:05:55 +0100
>Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11

>>From: Robert Powell <rpowell.nul>
>>To: post.nul
>>Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2011 12:48:41 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11

>>>From: Martin Shough<parcellular.nul>
>>>To:<post.nul>
>>>Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 15:06:45 +0100
>>>Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11

<snip>

>Neither Martin nor Robert have commented on the reported
>rotation of the object. Does this fit the lantern scenario?

Possibly. I can easily imagine that asymmetrical forces from the
lift and light breeze on a lightwight object like this could
impart some rotation. But I think the main point is this: If
every single small detail in a witness report has to be taken
exactly literally and must have a purely physical basis in the
object seen, then almost every single sighting report ever made
(indeed I could probably drop the "almost") reverts to an
"unknown".

The fact is that witnesses interpret sense data into
perceptions, then reinterpret perceptions into conceptions, and
report the former to us modified by their passage through the
filter of the latter. It is to be expected that reports which
are highly accurate and objective by any standards of human
observation will still contain anomalies. This is ufology 101,
surely.

Sometimes the balance of what appears to be good evidence for
high strangeness is so strong that this principle of residual
error seems negligible in comparison and we call an "unknown".
But more often (shown by universal experience) the balance of
what appears to be good evidence strongly suggests low
strangeness and a familiar cause, and it is reasonable that
small details of minor strangeness can be mopped up by the same
principle of residual error. It's a matter of judgment as to
where the mode of the distribution is and which points are
statistical outliers. I would say that in this case the
anomalies to which Gerald draws attention are the statistical
outliers, and the mode lies close to the "lantern" position.

The witness lists things he is familiar with from astronomy,
meteorology and aviation and says what he saw was not like any
of these things. But what is conspicuously missing from the list
of hypotheses he mentally tried out? Thai Lanterns, fire
balloons. Evidently this did not occur to him because he was not
familiar with such things. He said it was "something that I have
ever seen before", and he was probably correct.

>Whenever I have seen these lanterns in flight they have had a
>characteristic pattern of movement: directionally constant, but
>with discernible dips and wobbles - just what you'd expect from
>an object being carried by the wind.

The breeze was "light", which on the Beaufort scale is 1-3 kt.
or 2-3m/sec, enough to show smoke drift but not enough to turn a
weather vane, so we are not talking about gusty conditions. The
objects were (ex hypothesi) climbing during most of the
observation at least and travelling directly towards the
witness, along the line of sight, so the orientation is the
least favourable for detecting small fluctuations either in
forward velocity or altitude, but the most favourable for
observing you "directional constancy", which apparently the
witness did observe.

>Also, they tend to flicker and flare for few seconds followed
>by gradual dimming before the flame extinguishes. It would be
>interesting to check these points with the witness.

They may tend to, and I'm sure there are many slightly different
designs, both commercial and home-made, that behave slightly
differently. You could ask if he noticed any fire-like
flickerings at the end, or any small dips and wobbles, but be
careful.  I suspect that having once nailed his colours to the
mast of sonething "certainly extraordinary" an average witness
is less likely to answer "Now that you mention it, yes, so it
could have been a candle in a balloon" than to reinforce the
impression of strangeness by saying they flew smooith and sure.
With the best of intentions even the best of witnesses invest
something in their public statements and will be reluctant to
row back on claims made initially if that seems to show them as
having been "fooled".

The classic example of this, for my money, is the 1954
"Centaurus" incident over Labrador. Capt Howard was an impeccable
and impressive witness who described his shape-shifting blob UFOs
to the world as mysterious giant machines. But when it became
clear to him (I believe) that the objects just might have been a
mirage after all his narrative evolved subtly to make the
observation stranger. We can prove that this happened (and
surmise why). This is very human and natural. So when you go and
ask for "better data" you will probably get some amendments to
the first story, but these can be positive or negative. You have
to be very careful about what adds value and what subtracts
value.

>Perhaps PD will make the photos available for inspection and
>analysis...

You never know. If that exercise produces evidence that
convincingly destroys the lantern theory then so be it.


Martin Shough




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