Every now and then a news story comes along that makes me want to repost this particular thing I wrote a long time ago. And it has happened again. First, the news story:
National Geographic Channel has run a poll in which they found that 36% of Americans "believe UFO's exist." This is in line with previous results. There are other findings as well, but one item is new. The survey asked people who would do a better job of fighting off Aliens if they come to earth and, well, wanna fight. Obama killed Romney on that question.
So just keep that in mind when you are in the voting booth, America.
The last time something came up that wanted me to repost my story, it was this:
Nineteen former pilots and government officials ... told reporters their questions can no longer be dismissed ..."We want the US government to stop perpetuating the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms," said Fife Symington, former governor of Arizona... "Instead our country needs to reopen its official investigation that it shut down in 1969," Symington told a news conference. [source]
OK, so, now for the original story about how I was almost abducted by aliens.
I saw an UFO (pronounced "ooofo," I think) once too. It was a sight I can never forget. Let me tell you about it.
I was in an airplane, a 7-something-7 to be exact, departing from Boston. It was night (early, but the sun was down for the count) and it was one of those nights you often get in Boston when the fog runs all the way from the bay to the clouds. In other words, for Boston, a pretty clear night. I'd lay odds you could almost see the Citco sign from Memorial Drive as plain on the Irish on Mayor Flynn's face.
I was on the right side of the plane in the window seat.
After takeoff, we were gaining altitude and engaged in a steady left turn. Then we switched to a steady right turn. I don't remember where the plane was going, but I'm pretty sure it was somewhere in Europe.
I'm the kinda guy who sleeps during takeoffs and landings. I get groggy on airplanes. There's something about the pressure changes and the pungent smell of fresh jet fuel and the constant muffled chatter of the flight attendants and passengers settling into their routine of avionic boredom that turns my reticular formation into mush. So my memory of these turns is a bit foggy. Foggy like one of those nights you so often get in Boston.
I was asleep, but I was aware, like a cold snake must be aware of its surrounding but unable to, or maybe just uninterested in, doing anything about it.
Just then the crappy little airplane pillow they give you in economy to make you feel less like the chump you are for flying on this two-bit airline slipped from where it was jammed between my noggin and the edge of the window, jolting me awake. That's when I happened to glance out the window, and I saw it.
There was no doubt in my mind that it was an UFO. It was a cigar shaped thing hovering there among the wisps of clouds, who knows how far away. It had lights all along its side, and it was flying above us, keeping pace with us, then disappearing in the clouds, and then reappearing again. It was not an airplane, I could swear to that. That was as plain to me as the Irish on Mayor Flynn's face.
After a moment of continued grogginess, I suddenly realized I was seeing an UFO, and that this was my Big Chance to try to get to the bottom of this UFO thing.
So I snapped awake and started taking notes. The object came back into view again, still above us and to the right. Then slowly it settled down, its lights as strong and visible as ever, to exactly our level, following along side, keeping pace. Like it was tailing us. Then, slowly, it started to sink lower and lower .... still passing in and out of visibility ... until it was way down below us.
It was just then that I realized that the plane I was in was coming out of the right turn I mentioned above. The sensation that the "cigar shaped object" was above me was actually an effect of relativity. The old pre-Einsteinian relativity that still pretty much applies in real life. Not that hot-shot academic Cosmic Relativity that only seems to work when you are traveling at unthinkable speeds or if you are unthinkably massive, like a Black Hole.
Since we were in a turn, and I could not perceive the horizon or anything else that would objectively tell me where the Earth was, and since I was waking up from a sleep, I understood the earth to be somewhere directly below my keester ... right where it is supposed to be, below the seat I was sitting in, because that was the direction of my perceived gravity field.
But as any freshman Physics Major, even the pimple-faced snotty kind they seem to breed at MIT could tell you, gravity and acceleration are the same thing. The Earth was exerting gravity off to my right somewhere, but that was small change gravity compared to the acceleration caused by the turn the airplane was taking. The acceleration was exerting a sensation identical to gravity from roughly the direction of the bottom of the 737 or even a little to my left. The combined effects of Mother Earth's gravity and this airplane's acceleration provided my senses with a hypothesis my senses could not disprove in the absence of visual cues, like the horizon, or the Islands in Boston Harbor, or a sexy blond dame in a trashed out night club in Somerville with legs that go all the way from her bad attitude down to the grimy, beer soaked floorboards. This relativistic lie caused my inner ear, my eyes, and my brain to perceive of this large cigar shaped object with lights all along its side as being above me, when it was actually below me the whole time.
Boy, was I being taken for a ride. I felt like such a chump.
This UFO was nothing more than a run of the mill cruise ship plying its way across Massachusetts Bay, playing its dubious role of playground for the not so rich and not so famous who were really nothing more than wannabe world travelers who couldn't stand the idea of being away from their golf greens, their kidney bean shaped swimming pools and their cranberry juice cocktail martinis.
Hey, do you think the pilot saw it too?
So, the Ex Governor of Arizona believes in UFOs. Who else believes in UFOs? I have a theory that the number of people who believe they were abducted by aliens compared to the number of people who believe that they are aliens works out about right. In the cosmic scheme of it all.
Somehow, I think the following additional bits of information are relevant here:
"The subject of UFOs came up in a recent debate among presidential candidates, with Democrat Dennis Kucinich saying he saw a UFO."
Six percent of the American People believe that the Apollo Moon Landing was faked (wikipedia). So, that means that 18 million Americans think the Apollo Moon Landing was faked.
One source indicates that about 18 percent of Americans are pretty sure that we'll eventually find Bigfoot ... alive ... as well as the Loch Ness Monster.
It is said that 15% of the population has on at least one occasion experienced the "Old Hag Phenomenon," which is where you think an Old Hag is sitting on your chest ... "[this is] often accompanied by strange smells, the sound of approaching footsteps, apparitions of weird shadows or glowing eyes..."*
Since it is well known that about 4% of the population are Old Hags, this all works out if one Hag sits on an average of slightly more than three people. Or should we call them victims. I don't know.
Seventy-one percent of Americans claim to have had a paranormal experience.* Funny. Somehow I knew that was going to happen.
About one percent of pretty much any surveyed population is full-blown schizophrenic, but closer to 30% of Americans are said to have had at least one psychotic episode.* Which, by the way, is high as industrialized nations go.
So it all pretty much works out. As plain as the Irish on Mayor Flynn's face.
Photo of alien in the UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico by Ron Sheridan
I believe in UFOs. I have great confidence that people see objects that both fly, or appear to fly, and which they cannot identify.
Vehicles of extraterrestrial origin flown by aliens, not so much.
And yes, I'm pretty sure that a lot of saucer shaped clouds, atmospheric refraction of aircraft lights, and confusion of basics like up and down caused by aircraft movement, account for a lot of sightings of lights and objects that are unexplained at the time.
I want to know where you're getting your weed. I haven't had any good stuff in decades.
I have had the experience of seeing UFO (two together actually). I was about 19 at the time and very much wanted to believe that they were extraterrestrial, but like with god, couldn't quite make that leap. But they were flying and unidentified. The rural area of New York was used for training flights from Niagara Falls at that time and as a kid I had seen many types of aircraft. Lots of helicopters, one fighter jet at just above tree top level that passed right over my head and on time a tanker refueling a smaller craft at several thousand feet (by my estimation based on appearance compared to commercial jet that went over). I now believe that what I watched in summer of 1974 were probably stealth helicopters.
I have also experienced several bouts of sleep paralysis, or as you call it Old Hag Syndrome. Once I learned about sleep paralysis I was able to control these episodes and stop them before they become terrifying.
It is quite amazing what belief in science and logic can do to dispel myth and superstition. On the other hand, I still want there to be a real extraterrestrial contact. Hawking's fears be damned.
And, it is amazing how easily odd experiences in a conext of myth and superstition can turn into widespread socially "normal" beliefs!
I drive by a major military base frequently and when I do so at night, there are often ... interesting things. These are just normal military aircraft but this is where they practice bush landings and secret landings and stuff. A medium size transport plane with a confusing light pattern flying more or less sideways less than a thousand feet over head produces an interesting effect.
Just like vaccination, we are told fluffy stories about milkmaids and smallpox, millions of lives saved, the fables go on and on.
The raw data tells another story but medical science/politics/big celebs like to think that association with this biggest medical disaster of all time is like the second coming.
Maybe all those medical scientists have sleep paralysis or career flop?
I have a hypothesis that people's experiences of being abducted and probed by grey aliens with large almond-shaped eyes and disproportionately large heads… is actually us channeling our color-blind pets' experience of a visit to the vet.
"And, it is amazing how easily odd experiences in a conext of myth and superstition can turn into widespread socially “normal” beliefs"
Like some here I too saw a UFO when young and was totally thrilled by it for the full 15min of viewing it. I also saw a large big eyed monster in the woods back o'my house and was terrified by it. The difference is I looked for the cause not think of aliens. The UFO was 20yrs later identified as a jet with iridescent glow of the wings and a prism reflection from the water vapor. The monster was a large winged moth, a gathering of shadows and a young mind. I will never forget the events or the solutions.
When I was a little boy I read a kid's encyclopedia entry about Beowulf. It was accompanied by a picture (I now realize it was a woodcut) of Grendel as a huge four-legged crawling beast with gaping jaws.
For many nights after that, I was certain that I could hear Grendel coming down the hall towards my bedroom, which terrified me. It was very real, and I still have a healthy respect for large mythical creatures. But as my brain matured and I realized that Grendel couldn't have been coming down the hallway from the living room (the hall was only about three feet wide, the ceiling was only 8 feet high, and Grendel never existed), the memory of my self-induced terror helped keep me safe from other products of my own imagination.
Yes, it was certainly odd experiences combined with the prevailing myths and superstitions of the times which gave us vaccination, the germ theory of disease, and the idea that washing your hand between visiting patients is a good idea. Those things were so prevalent in the culture, except the fact that they weren't.
Never mind whether vaccination came about because it was discovered and supported through evidence or not. I dare you to show how your statement is historically or culturally accurate and internally consistent.
"Besides airplane make noise"
Then, immediately afterward, a refutation of that claim's utility:
This seems like a pons asinorum. The true scientist will be depressed to learn that 64% of Americans don't know that, until it's been identified, anything from a chaffinch to the ISS can be a UFO.
I saw a UFO. Probably was a geostationary satellite suddenly catching the sunlight and then the zipping away at high speed and fading was probably the illusion of movement you sometimes get when there are clouds racing through the night sky coupled with your own lack of reference points when you're staring straight up. But since I don't know that was it for sure (maybe a weather balloon?), I can call it a UFO.
Incidentally, as a hypothetical point, in a dream if a relative suddenly shows up, chats and tells you they're now saying good-bye, then you wake up and note the time of the dream and find out a few hours later that relative died at that time.
If that happens once, it is very likely coincidence. How many times does the same thing have to happen to that person--including knowing the time of death and who died--before a explanation other than coincidence is likely? Twice, 3 times, 4?
Assume this person doesn't dream of dying close friends and relatives and on the rare occasions they do, those dreams aren't as 'real' or as detailed.
My grandfather's mantle clock stopped about the same time he died. Of course, he had to wind the damn thing every day to keep it working, so maybe that's why.
I don't know. The say 95% of all sightings can be explained. What about that other 5%? Greg, I'm sure you know of Leslie Kean's book. How do you explain the incidents in that book? I believe something weird is out there. I don't assume it's ET. I have no clue what it is. The problem is, the events are so fleeting I don't see how you can investigate it. Remember, the military did investigate these things for years back in the 50s-60s.
Greg, it sounds like your run-of-the-mill cruise ship was hijacked by Fatah Morgana. You saw that from the air. Cool!
"What about that other 5%?"
The information is too vague or confused to be analyzed.
We had an accidental sighting here in Austin, TX a couple of weeks ago:
Of course these were 3 low level Chinese Lanterns.
The TV reporters botched the original story and did not do very well at all on the follow-up the next night.
I searched a little and found one UFOlogist complaining that it was really hard to tell the "real UFOs" from all the "Chinese Lantern" sightings. :-)
"they found that 36% of Americans “believe UFO’s exist.”"
Slightly fewer than those who believe some god created the universe about 10,000 years ago. Such amazing ignorance.
Bernie Mooney - The military's "investigation" was pathetic, perhaps too pathetic. John Michael Greer has cogently argued in a book on the subject that sightings of craft that are plainly not ordinary commercial aircraft, which unquestionably occur, represent not alien spacecraft but secret craft belonging to the black-ops military and similar agencies. The air force's hamhanded mid-20th-century harassment and worse of UFO-watchers, and sometimes ludicrous dismissals of the best reports, then represent a very well-played Maskirovka: they convinced the public that they were trying to cover up the existence of alien craft, serving their actual objective of covering up the nonexistence of those craft. That would conveniently allow aliens to take the blame if secret high-performance U.S. craft were observed committing illegal acts of war (e.g., the "UFO" that destroyed an Iranian fighter jet).
Fife Symington is absolutely right that unidentified flying machines have been seen above his state, like the impressive Phoenix sighting captured on film. Large triangular UFOs became popular about the same time that large triangular spy planes went into development. People don't presume the large, quiet thing over Phoenix was a spy plane because it was lit up like a Christmas tree, but a totally superfluous bunch of lights can be added to a spy plane as easily as a spacecraft. Of course, the former hypothesis requires us to assume that our shadow government is to this day manufacturing phony UFO sightings. One wonders why they might do that.