Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fortean Deafness?

Somehow I didn't hear a mysterious boom that recently shook the region.

I know I was outside at the time because I had left somewhere just before 8 PM Tuesday night, November 26, and it was at least a ten minute walk to my destination .  Reports of the boom – felt from Montreal to a town roughly 15 miles west of here (Plattsburgh) – started to come in to the media just after 8 PM.

One online report sent to a local TV station described the house shaking.  But according to the US Geological Survey no earthquakes were detected in the region, either here or Canada.  The source of the shock-rock was unknown.

Once again I've missed out experiencing a Fortean mystery.  Could it be that my skeptical side is making me blind to such events?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Does Bruce Duensing Speak English?

Yes, I sometimes use a ten dollar word but I try to eschew academese.

There's this commenter on ufological topics, Bruce Deunsing, who seems to be making a valid point – if you can wade through his dense observations.

Then again, his response to a post at the UFO Iconoclast(s) site entitled "UFOs and the Rabble" is appropriate considering the post's bouts of bloviation.  (The essay is signed "RR," so I'm assuming the writer is Rich Reynolds or maybe Robert Redford.)  But while I can get the gist of the post with some effort Bruce's comment seems to be an exercise in "I-can-top-that-for-turgid-opacity."  Here's part of his response:

"What constitutes an advanced civilization? Of course this is a game of comparisons played by those as card in what remains of Ufology which has descended into the proverbial act of reading tea leaves based on their premise that their basis of comparison of such an advanced civilization compared to ours is always made in technological terms, which says a great deal about the observer than it does about the observed.

"If, as some have suggested, such as myself, that the whole of this subject is precognitive sentience based on upending rationality at the behest of logic to deconstruct the parameters of our orientation, then it should come as no big surprise that what is reported is always a chimera based on a technological series of non verbal communications, that are painted in our mind's eye as the work of a intangible surrealist."

I would print more but that would violate the rules of fair use – and also violate your mind by either inducing a headache or putting you into a coma.

One can only imagine what it is like to be around Bruce.  For example, after wrapping up a conversation, he might say:

"Rendering upon you an indication of termination of this discourse by invoking a congenial poncif that perfunctorily offers wish fulfillment vis-a-vis your existential sphere experiencing during a specific period of time positivism of a nature that conveys phenomenological joie de vivre to your rudimentary cerebral functions, i.e., intrinsic emotional state of a pleonastic qualitative quality."

While I would say:

"Have a nice day."

Is Blood Thicker Than Balderdash?

After alienating Kevin Randle over a Dream Team controversy involving rumors of photographic slides showing an otherworldly being, the irked Paul Kimball stirred a dust-up with his uncle, physicist/ufology researcher/"Roswell-was-an-ET-crash" proponent Stan Friedman.

Please note that both Stan and Paul are citizens of The Great White North but their respective essays lay myth to the concept of a “gray Canadian.”

In his essay entitled “Paul Kimball's UFO Debunking and Irrationality" Stan responded to a essay by his nephew that challenged him on a number of points.  Paul even referred to Stan's concept of nuclear-powered rockets as interstellar spacecraft as "balderdash."  Youch!  

(Paul’s essay, “The Illogic of the Crashed ET Spacecraft Myth,” can be read here.)

The main theme of Stan’s essay is how educated and intelligent people can act so irrational when it comes to debunking certain ufological beliefs.  After citing a dubious debunking statement by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, Stan mentions his nephew’s law degree, indicating Paul is of above average intelligence, and how Paul has studied UFOs.  But then Stan illustrates how Paul’s intelligence fails on the topic of crashed alien spacecraft 

Regarding Roswell Paul asked why would any alien spacecraft crash on this planet if the ETs had such superior technology?

Stan countered that a craft designed to travel in a planetary atmosphere wouldn’t have the same durability as the mothership that brought it here.  He gave the example of an aircraft carrier being akin to a mothership while the more fragile airplanes launched from it would be like what crashed at Roswell.

Paul also repeated the skeptic’s take on the A-Flying-Saucer-Really-Crashed-Near-Roswell belief, how the details couldn’t remain covered up for so long since the 1947 incident.  Someone would have leaked the fantastic truth by now.

Stan countered with examples such as the Manhattan Project that employed 60,000 people who were able to keep tight-lipped and didn't sink any ships.

Responding to his nephew’s snark re: ““Stan Friedman’s nuclear rockets balderdash” the peeved uncle wrote: “Why Paul is in denial about nuclear rockets I don’t know, though I suppose lawyers don’t dig into such matters.”  Stan added that one of his books has photos of real nuclear-powered rockets.

Years ago Stan spoke at a local college here in Plattsburgh, NY.  After his presentation a smart-ass student from the college radio station – a David-Letterman-wannabe – interviewed Stan, making all sorts of jokes such as references to alien abductions and anal probes.  To his credit Stan remained unflappable, didn’t take the bait, but calmly responded to each inane question. 

But with his response to his nephew’s criticism Stan allowed himself to be a bit testy.  Of course family does make it more personal.

While I don't agree with all of his views Stan does raise one good point in his essay.  He refers to an either/or statement attributed to writer Isaac Asimov.

While Isaac was known for being imaginative with his fiction he took the skeptical high road with his non-fiction works, particularly on the topic of UFOs.  He observed one time that if aliens were visiting this planet they would either remain hidden or reveal themselves to mankind.

As if there is no middle ground between those extremes.

In both science and fiction there are shades of gray.

Parting note: On the topic of nuclear spacecraft there’s this article with links at “DailyDirt: Nuclear Power In Space.”