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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Aug > Aug 8

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

From: Gerald O'Connell <goc.nul>
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2011 00:20:08 +0100
Archived: Mon, 08 Aug 2011 06:02:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11

>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 11:26:59 +0100
>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>
>>>>Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 15:06:45 +0100
>>>>Subject: Re: Report From Lumberton NJ Witness 07-30-11


>>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

>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,

>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

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

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

The points you make are all valid, but some nagging doubts
remain in my mind:

- A breeze not strong enough to turn a weather vane is imparting
(or playing some part in imparting) rotation to the object.
Certainly not impossible, but perhaps rather improbable?

- Selecting the aspect of the witness account that is rather
difficult to square with your explanation of the sighting as
attributable to witness error, while basing the explanation on
the accuracy of most of the other aspects feels like special
pleading - cf. my reply to Robert's response.

- The element of coincidence in both 'lanterns' extinguishing
while directly overhead. From my own observation of multiple
lantern launches the point of extinction of the light source
tends to be highly erratic. These novelties are not, I believe,
precisely engineered.

Even so, I can certainly accept your argument's merit given its
general reliance on 'balance of probability'.

I must confess however, that I was slightly amused by your words
of caution concerning the tendency of witnesses to stick to
their story while subtly altering it. I think this tendency is
equally apparent in the work of analysts - to borrow your
phrase, 'as shown by universal experience'. Of course, this too
is human and natural.

Gerald O'Connell

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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