Sunday, January 30, 2011

Douglas R Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas...


A favorite author of ours is Douglas Hofstadter, whose Godel, Escher, Bach and Metamagical Themas (a compilation of his Scientific American columns from the 1980s).


While Mr. Hofstadter is moderate and limited about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – he thinks it is misinterpreted by almost everyone – and that the principle doesn’t state that an observer interferes with the observed but “rather hat a very fine grain size, the wave duality of the measuring tool becomes relevant.” [Page 464, MT].

Heisenberg’s principle may be extrapolated to include such things as how the measurement (the observation) of individuals or UFOs is affected by the observation of either.

For instance, if a group of people, at a party are intruded upon by a person with a camera, the group will alter their behavior, to accommodate the picture or video being taken, since it will record a moment by which the group and individuals will be remembered for posterity.


And there is anecdotal information that UFOs often seem to be affected by an observer, with a camera, radar, or just a visual encounter.

The measurement (observation) of things alter those things in various ways, some subtle, some not so subtle.


Mr. Hofstadter, in writing about electromagnetic waves, points out that “as a black body heats up, it begins to glow: first dull red, then bright red, then orange, eventually white, and then, surprisingly enough, bluish!” [Page 458 MT].


Isn’t that what UFO observers often report?


Mr. Hofstadter makes it a major point to support the cautions of physicists who tell laypersons that quantum microcosm can’t be extended to explain the macrocosmic events.

We think that is an error in judgment and theoretical hypothesizing, and have addressed the issue here at this blog and the RRRGroup blog, early on.

Applying quantum thinking to the UFO phenomenon provides an interesting patina to the UFO mystery, almost explaining some behavior and sightings.

Bruce Duensing deals with such things, rather more brilliantly than we, at his blog, Intangible Materiality, which can be accessed by clicking here:

Intangible Materiality

Also, Mr. Hofstadter is not inimical to mathematics as the lingua franca of science, which we think is detrimental to human thought, and a contrivance that is unreal, a concoction that gives scientists a mantle of authority that it doesn’t really deserve.

Math is bogus, and used by science to make hypothetical thinking obscure to laypersons and to create a priest-like order for science that co-opts religion, philosophy, and thought in general.

So, while it seems that we think that Mr. Hofstadter is off the mark on the items listed above, why do we find him so fascinating, and intelligent?

That goes to his views about how we think or should and is addressed in his Metamagical Themas chapters, World Views in Collision (which deals with the Skeptical Inquirer – he likes it) and On Number Numbness (about how people don’t comprehend the reality of numbers that affect their lives).

And in Section VII, Sanity and Survival, Hofstadter tackles irrationality itself, which is rampant in the UFO community and “ufology” particularly.

We don’t expect visitors to this blog to read or understand the bulk of Metamagical Themas, but we’d hope they might give it a try.

Moreover, since most of the UFO crowd are hobbyists, who work on the UFO mystery when it is convenient and not during their weekend down-time, we are not holding our collective breaths for any to try and enlighten themselves beyond their myopic attention to the UFO phenomenon, Bruce Duensing as the stand-out exception.


Friday, January 28, 2011

A UFO creature report (and the Templeton "spaceman")

As an habitue of Huntsville, Canada, this account of a UFO and its attendant “creature” resonates with me.


Robert Suffern (28 years old at the time), with his family, saw a UFO that disembarked a creature.

Mr. Suffern had received a call form his sister who thought she saw a barn on fire. Robert went to check it out and ended up seeing a UFO and a creature.

The UFO was described thusly:

Then I saw the ship in the centre of the road. It was the colour of the dull side of aluminum foil wrap and the surface was irregular and crinkled. I could not hear any sound other than the motor of my car. I only saw it momentarily and then it went straight up at a fast speed and disappeared. There were no lights.


And then he saw a creature, and described it this way:

...I started for home, turned onto the Three Mile Lake Road and then I saw the thing on the side of the road. He was on the grass shoulder of the road and was about to cross from myright to my left. It suddenly pivoted and turned towards the pasture and vaulted over the fence and out of sight. It appeared to be short and had very broad shoulders which seemed to be out of proportion. The movements were similar to an ape or a midget, but it was very agile. It reached up with its hands, grabbed the fence, post and vaulted over with no effort. The head portion was covered in a globe and I could not detect any mask or face portion. The suit was a silver colour and one piece—the globe was a contrasting white or light colour.


What’s fascinating to me is how similar the drawing of the Utterson creature is to the Solway Firth “spaceman.”

Setting aside the estimated, disparate height of Suffern’s creature, note the stance in the drawing, which didn’t derive from Mr. Suffern as far as I can tell, but whomever provided the drawing or suggestions for the drawing either had access to the Templeton photo of 1965 or received a description that surely mimics the Solway Firth being.

Even without a Solway Firth connection, this sighting is interesting, and Richard Hall also found it so:

“October 7, 1975 Utterson, Ontario, Canada 8:30 P.M. One small, stocky humanoid, round helmet, from metallic ellipse on road; UFO took off as car approached, being beside road vaulted fence and fled.” [From Mr. Hall’s category of humanoid creature reports.]

Such creature sightings do not happen nowadays, and that’s something which should be addressed by “ufologists.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nick Redfern reviews what he says is a "significant" book

Click here for Mr. Redfern's review

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paratopia Magazine

Jeff Ritzmann has provided links to the new Paratopia magazine.

With the current brouhaha about Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs, stemming from Mr. Hopkins' ex-wife, in the first issue of Paratopia, you would do well to read her account to be at the ready when the topic of Alien Abduction implodes.

Click these links to get the magazine:

Virtual copy

PDF copy

Friday, January 14, 2011

Roswell: The Great Pan is dead!


In Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend [Gambit Inc., Boston, 1969], the authors, in Chapter XXI (Page 275 ff.), recount the famous tale from Plutarch about how, on board a ship with many passengers, sailing near the Echinades Islands, Epitherses (son of Aemilianus) tells that Thamus, the Egyptian pilot, heard a voice, while near the island of Paxi, calling his name.

Thamus, at first did not reply, but after a third time he responded to the voice, which said, “When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.”

Thamus, Epittherses, and the passengers were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether to carry out the order or not.

Thamus, however, while approaching Palodes said the words, “Great Pan is dead.”

A great cry of woe, by many on the land, went up, and eventually spread to Rome, where Tiberius Caesar called for an investigation as to the truth of the profound rumor.

Plutarch, himself, did not accept the acclimation and suggested that the shouts from Paxi were misunderstood by Thamus and the story became embroidered by the masses, encouraged by the fact that Tiberius had called for an official investigation, apparently giving some credence to the tale.

The authors write this, “One is still allowed to wonder why such a fuss was made at the time about [the] exclamations…and why…that most learned of mythologists, the Emperor Tiberius himself, thought the matter worth following up.” [Page 276]

The significance of the tale is many. Firstly Pan was considered a major God, and equatable, in some quarters, with Jesus who was crucified during the reign of Tiberius.

Secondly, the tale strikes at the heart of the prevailing belief system of the time, Paganism.

Thirdly, the tale continues to be remunerated upon to this day (by scholars and mythologists, mostly).

And finally, Great Pan is dead was retold in many configurations over the years, such as it was Tammuz-Adonis, the grain god who died, the yoke-bearer, Giki-Gaki is dead on the Hurgergorn, and the Fanggen, a kind of “Little People” (or giants!?) disappeared in the Tyrol.

How does this tale relate to Roswell?

The Chapter (and book, in toto) elaborates on how history and events are muddled by belief systems, what people wish to hear, and Chapter IV (History, Myth and Reality) examples instances where events are confabulated or twisted, often inadvertently, by a jumping to conclusions inspired by entrenched beliefs and/or stories heard, many times, over the years.

Hamlet’s Mill treats great myths and tales that affect or have affected humanity in significant ways, over the millennia.

Roswell is not significant, nor worthy of a Myth status, Gilles Fernandez notwithstanding, but it has developed the status of mythos, in the sociological sense.

(Mythos -- the complex of beliefs, values, attitudes, etc, characteristic of a specific group or society)

What was decried by Thamus may be seen as similar to what was decried at Roswell: The Army Air Force has captured a Flying Saucer.


The “heard refrain” at Roswell has been elaborated upon and added to, much like that which happened when “The Great Pan is dead” was taken as a profound truth by those hearing about the announcement and taking it to varying interpretations, far and wide, subjecting it to the vicissitudes of many locales and peoples.

The original story – the original announcement – has been taken apart by “researchers” and recast by those same “researchers” into many guises, all adumbrated to enhance whatever belief system held in the mind of a particular “researcher” – some preferring the extraterrestrial cast, some preferring a secret military cast, and others eschewing any cast at all, debunking the tale, altogether, as Euhemeros, the first debunker, did with myth.


Roswell is a story, with a core truth at its center. What that core truth may be has been lost to time, and the ineptitude of those who gathered the remnants of the original tale twwnty years after the “event” allegedly took place.

Can the story be cleansed of the accretions? Not easily, if at all.

The Roswell tale has been concretized into a myth (or, better, mythos) as CDA and Gilles Fernandez continue to decry.

It can’t be scrubbed clean, that’s a certainty, which Nick Redfern and this writer (among others) think is the case.

But others, David Rudiak, Stanton Friedman, Kevin Randle, et al., will continue to promote the mythology, because, for them, mythos is more important than truth.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Darwinian Ufology


We assume (almost) every visitor here is familiar with Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and his theory of Natural Selection.

Darwin’s concept of evolution can be applied to UFOs.

Strange objects, seen mostly in the air, have been reported since the beginning of mankind, appearing on cave walls, drawn by primitive man and in carvings of early civilizations, such as the Assyrian and Egyptian.


But to make concise our argument here, let us start with the period just before that of the airplane and the Wright brothers.

This would have to do with the airships of the 1890s.


Darwin spells out how species adapt and change, over time, and provides this1:

· Individuals in a population vary significantly from one another.
· Much of this variation is inheritable .
· Individuals less suited to the environment are less likely to survive and less likely to reproduce; individuals more suited to the environment are more likely to survive and more likely to reproduce and leave their inheritable traits to future generations, which produces the process of natural selection.

This slowly effected process results in populations changing to adapt to their environments, and ultimately, these variations accumulate over time to form new species.2.

The 1890s airships were, reportedly, not unlike the dirigible ships that populated the skies, rarely but concomitantly, and sailed no differently that man-made airships, even containing pilots and/or passengers no different than those who built and flew airships of a prosaic kind.


But from the period between the 1890s and the mid-1940s, dirigible-like airships all but disappeared from view, literally.

The, during World War II and soon after, smallish lights, dubbed “foo fighters” appeared to WWII fighter pilots and missile-like airfoils, similar to the Nazi V-2 rocket, made a presence in the skies over Europe.


This indicates, to us, that the 1890s ships had changed, evolving from their convoluted but primitive state to amorphous balls of light and structured craft, adapted from the V-2 archetype.

The “evolved” UFOs had branched from the 1890s to two distinct “species” – the advanced and advancing balls of light and the dead end, virtually defunct, missile-shaped craft.

In 1947 UFOs popped up in the round-shape which incurred the “flying saucer” epithet, although a few cigar-shaped craft, a dying breed, made themselves known, as in the Chiles-Whitted sighting of 1948, among a few others.


This was an adaptation from the missile shape, not the ball-of-light construct.

One ground and in the skies, UFOs maintained the “saucer” adaptation well into the 1970s and 1980s, as evidenced by NICAP’s lists of sightings.


UFOs seemed to have used or been affected by “natural selection” – missile shapes (cigar craft) were inefficient, and the balls-of-light were inconsequential, and not suitable to the space-age environment.

But late in the 19802 and from 1990 onward, to 2011, the raft of UFO sightings indicated a shift from disk-shaped configurations to triangular configurations.


What caused this evolutionary change in UFOs?

Darwin ‘s theory posited this3:

…variation arose constantly and not just in response to changed circumstances…species formed in isolated populations only, as on islands, to an emphasis on speciation without isolation; that is, [Darwin] saw increasing specialisation within large stable populations as continuously exploiting new ecological niches.

But “New species have appeared very slowly, one after another, both on the land and in the water [or skies]….[and] We can clearly ubnderstand why a species when once lost should never reappear, even if the very same conditions of life, organic and inorganic, should recur. For though the offspring of one species might be adapted…to fill the place of another species in the economy of nature and thus supplant it; yet the two forms – the old and the new – would not be identically the same.”4

That is UFOs from the past woluld not assume the same identity as UFOs of the present.

Triangular UFOs have supplanted the “flying disks” of previous years. But, again, why?

Darwin would allow that the environment – the technological advance of aircraft itself – would force an adaptation, and that’s is what seems to have happened to UFOs.

But what about the remnant balls of light? They still appear, like Darwin’s crocodiles or, better, cirripedes,5 because they are self-productive and immune to intense adaptation.

What this means, for us, is that some UFO species will evolve – adapt and change, according to Natural Selection, while other UFO species -- the balls of light – will not change, and have not changed.

Ufologists (yes, we hate the term), should take a look at the different species, as the evolutionary species (the Triangular UFO) provide one clue to the UFO origin while another species (the balls of light) provide a different clue to the origin of UFOs.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is a guide post for study, or should be.
1 From Wikipedia
2 Ibid
3 The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, Chapter XI (ff.)
4 Ibid
5 Ibid (Chapter 4)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Scholarship. Truth, and UFOs

The January 3rd 2011 New Yorker has an article by Daniel Mendelsohn about the Vatican Library [Page 24 ff.].

There are a few quotes in the piece by current Library Prefect, Monsignor Cesare Pasini which applies to our approach here for 2011, regarding postings and content.

Monsignor Pasini, talking about culture and scholarly community says this:

“There is the possibility of entering mystery of culture…The mystery of scholarship, the mystery of the spirit of humanism. The patient study that allows someone to know something that hasn’t been know before – or perhaps something that someone has studied before. But one can go another step further, testing, verifying, correcting…the world of scholarship, entering the mystery of scholarship – the mystery of truth.” [Page 30]

This is where “ufology” (we hate the term!) goes wrong. There is no culture, no scholarship, and no mystery. Ufology and the UFO phenomenon have been held hostage by a few fanatic self-aggrandizers and intellectually deficient persons, many of whom can be found lighting up the pages of UFO Updates with smug, meaningless asides and self-promoting rants.

We shall make sure that posts here, from now on, will make every effort to be scholarly and truthful – even when we provide our usual lambastings of UFO geezers and those who kneel at their feet, sycophantically.

Those of you, with open minds and the desire to attack the UFO mystery – its old and new manifestations -- with hard scholarship and a sincere pursuit of truth will bear with us we hope.