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The Anomalist



June 29

John Greenewald points out how the NRO's second negative response to FOIA requests "adds even more evidence to the reality of immense secrecy concealing UFO information from the general public." The UFO Chronicles cites one institution that at least promises more transparency, as NASA Announces Their UFO/UAP Investigation Will Focus on 8 Questions. Here's a copy of the guidelines for the supposed "preliminary sources study." Another government branch has dribbled out material, as the Navy Releases Videos of Mysterious Drones that Swarmed US Warships. Ryan Morgan provides some of these latest bits of info. On another DoD data drop Morgan's American Military News colleague Cheryl Hinneburg wants us to Watch US Military's Successful Test of Micro-drone Swarm Launched from Fighter Jets. In view of the recent sensation about the unknown drone swarms of 2019, it's interesting this nearly six-year-old test comes out now. But our neighbor to the North is fascinated in both known and unknown buzzers, as Keith Basterfield headlines Canada to Seek Information on Drones and UAP from the USA. Keith updates us on the Great White North's concerns and actions, and incidentally defines the term the "Five Eyes." (WM)

Our brains are an endless source of mystery, more so perhaps than any haunted forest or spook infested mansion.  For those of us who went to school in the era before learning disabilities were identified, the news that dyslexia brings its own set of gifts is vindication that (most of us) were not lazy daydreamers. We were evolutionary superheroes with special powers. In other brainy news, Eye Movements Could Be The Missing Link in Our Understanding of Memory. Apparently mimicking the pattern of eye movement we experience when first observing an object enhances our ability to recall its details. Sounds like a great way to study for exams and for detecting lies. More superpowers—no dyslexia or radioactive spiders required. (CM)

Skepticism and Michael Shermer A Different Perspective
Our Kevin "Randlefest" starts with Kevin interviewing arch-skeptic and Skeptic Magazine founder Michael Shermer. It's interesting to hear Shermer in action; he even offers/threatens to make Kevin an honorary member of the Skeptics Society! Kevin also interviews Michael Schratt about his book Dark Files: A Pictorial History of Lost, Forgotten and Obscure UFO Encounters. It's a gorgeously-illustrated compendium of 61 worthwhile cases, and Kevin and Schratt cover several of them. Other recent Kevin offerings include Editorial Comment and Recent Sightings, which includes Kevin's musings on the government's fashion of using "UAP" instead of "UFO." And Updates and Sightings has good information about the famous "WOW Signal." Lastly, Kevin also muses about Government UFO Hoaxes, and he doesn't spare Philip Corso, either. (WM)

June 28

Rising in the current raft of UFO-related personalities is the man recently "outed" as the former chief scientist for the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF). Travis Taylor's "outer" George Knapp talks with Taylor about how Taylor "navigated" the challenges of government work plus TV stardom. An interesting discussion of career paths and "dueling NDAs." Robert Sheaffer has the skeptical take on the former-skeptic in Meet the Face of the Pentagon's "UAP Task Force" - Dr. Travis Taylor!. Sheaffer comments on George Knapp's revelation about Taylor's UAPTF history, and expresses doubts regarding that UFO program's "investigative skills." Sheaffer repeats Jason Colavito's conflict of interest charges against Taylor, and also presents questionable Taylor vignettes from three different TV series. An answer of sorts comes from George Knapp's I-Team: Drones, Birds and Bokeh: How the UAP Task Force Evaluated UFO Cases. This interview with Taylor emphasizes the multiple sensory sources behind most of the "unknowns" in the 144 cases the UAPTF studied, makes the standard case for not fully releasing details about those sources, and seems to equate "skeptic" with "debunker" (or perhaps uses the two different terms in the discrete combination of "A skeptic and a debunker"). And The Observer questions the rationale of a news personality and defends one of Nick Pope's controversial themes in Tucker the UFO Sucker, Government Mutes, and Bird Watchers. (WM)

There was a time when science immediately and adamantly turned its back on any claims of paranormal experience. But that was then, and this is now: if you see spooks you may have Haunted People Syndrome. As off putting as it is to have our anomalous haunting experiences reduced to a collection of symptoms, at least science is beginning to acknowledge that there's more to them than deception and psychosis. However, we wouldn't recommend turning our backs on any individuals in white suits with big nets because reducing ghostly experiences into a psychological syndrome sounds like something that could slide sideways really fast. At least part of the concern here is the strict adherence by some scientists to what they "know" to be true, leaving no room for new knowledge. Psi and Science refers to this as an "ideaology of scientism," whereby maintaining the current database of knowledge is more important than uncovering new information. (CM)

Bryce Zabel begins a review of significant UFO historical events with a look at when "The Modern UFO Era" began. Zabel hopes what was admitted privately back in 1947 and now publicly since June of last year may effect real progress in resolving the UFO conundrum. But an event that same Summer in the same state as Kenneth Arnold's sighting recalls the human capacity to expand upon even the incredible, per Bruce Haulman's Time & Again: 75th Anniversary of The Maury Island Incident. Haulman's article seems to take very seriously what many regard a hoax, and the roles of "Maury Island Incident" researcher Cyrus Anderson and island photographer Terry Donnelly in this article are themselves rather mysterious. Speaking of classic UFO events and mysteries, Curt Collins offers another substantive article in Cash-Landrum UFO Disinformation: Rick Doty & Bill Moore. Collins starkly highlights the costs to three human beings and the credibility of ufology surrounding this 1980 incident, and the spreading of misinformation in general. And possible official intransigence in particular may hinder The Continuing Search for Australian Government Documents Concerning the 6 April 1966, Westall Event by Paul Dean, Shane Ryan, and Keith Basterfield. This is a "Progress Report" (or lack thereof) from the authors. Their experience "further deepens the mystery of why no-one is able to locate any official documentation on this event," in which Australian schoolchildren reported witnessing a UFO. (WM)

June 27

South American UFO news includes the Brazilian Senate's special UFO hearing on June 24th. Noting that occasion, Tariq Tahir offers a look at one of that country's most classic and mysterious cases, from the night of May 19, 1986. A brief sketch of Brazilian UFO records is available at Official UFO Night in Brazil, with the Government of Brazil's notice that the recent US House Hearing on UAP occurred on the anniversary of their own spectacle. Inexplicata offers three more stories from the continent. Argentina: The Bartolome Bavio Sphere - Eyewitness Report from Luis Bianchi details a shared childhood experience that helped eventually catapult him into UFO research. More recently and rather towards the other end of the witness maturity spectrum is Argentina: Teacher from Salta Claims Seeing UFO on the Way to Cafayate. One hopes the sole witness here, a philosophy instructor, is particularly equipped to come to terms with an encounter that left him "Pale, nervous, and above all shocked by the experience." And Venezuela: Circular UFO Sighting in the State of Bolivar headlines a two-witness "Night of the UFO" just two days before the US UAP hearing and Brazil's more famous anniversary. (WM)

A homeowner in Shelby Township, Michigan, was recently awakened in the night when her doorbell camera alerted her to someone—or something—on her property. The shadowy presence evidently resembled a Bigfoot so police were called, although as usual the World Champion of Hide and Seek left behind nothing to indicate it was ever there. Next, was this a Smiling Sasquatch Photographed in Georgia? We hate to rain on the parade of any shutterbug, but we don't see what they think they see in the photo. If you are ready for some really interesting conversation, download this podcast episode of Bigfoot and Beyond with Cliff and Bobo, where they discuss the book "Valley of the Apes" with Michael Mayes. Mayes is so experienced and well informed, and Cliff and Bobo are intelligent hosts with just the right questions. (CM)

Our Stamp of Approval goes to John Rimmer's review of Luis R. Gonzalez' An Alien in My Mailbox, a book about postage stamps with UFO and sci-fi themes. The book is pricey, though it appears a B/W paperback version is 1/3rd the charge for what Rimmer describes as a "beautifully produced" volume. As to what's "New" in numismatics, Alice Gibbs says a Michigan Man Discovers 'Extraterrestrial' Coin in Roll of Quarters. This article also highlights a fascinating but little-known part of American history in "hobo nickels." UFOs and popular music could constitute its own field of study, and Mick McStarkey adds another famous name to that mix with Rolling Stones Guitarist Keith Richards Claims to Have Seen UFOs. Not only that; Keith once said "UFOs were landing frequently at his Redlands estate in West Sussex"! And for another collision between UFOs and the musical arts, try Roswell - Reina del Cid and Toni Lindgren. Out of a ten-day detention at the town due to their own vehicle mishap, these two artists have created a funny and well-played homage to its most famous claim to fame. (WM)

June 26

With Earth's skies littered with debris, Starlink satellites, and other man-made objects it is difficult to detect aliens in our own backyard less'n they drew attention to their presence. Fortunately, before the space race, astronomers built an impressive catalog of astrophotos and Paul Glister outlines contemporary interest in these artifacts in hopes of finding something unusual. And it seems Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations may already be bearing fruit. (CS)

After its groundbreaking discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, no new particles have been detected. Still Mitesh Patel tells David Overbye that he's hopeful of finding something new, another piece of the puzzle which is our universe until the next round of upgrades in 2025. And the fine folks at CERN are doing good work, hoping to break down the standard model. Yet Ten Years After Higgs, Physicists Face The Nightmare Of Finding Nothing Else and potentially end particle physics as-we-know-it. And it is troubling since the Large Hadron Collider was built to figure out gravity, dark matter, the muon g-2, among others but since the Higgs there has been nothing. Adrian Cho takes a sober look at the potential state of affairs, but also what might be discovered in our lifetimes. (CS)

One can only truly know by asking people who came back, or at least went to the brink only to step back into the world of the living. Max Tobin is fascinated by the topic and uses gallows humor, and science, to determine the answer in addition to the phenomenology of near-death experiences. Rather The Anomalist will take a bit of a different tack in terms of death, as Undine has an odd tale of Lafayette Cook who knew when he was going to die in her Newspaper Clipping Of The Day. Once the shock of the prediction coming true had worn off, more details about the circumstances leading to his passing made things all the more curiouser. Yet 137 years after the fact, Paul Burnham was haunted by The Premonition of his own demise after a pair of dreams from his youth. Shankar Vedantam caught wind of the story after asking listeners to share their deepest secrets, winding up exploring the psychology of one who believes they know when they are going to die and how they manage the revelation. For something truly strange Watch Grant Morrison Perform A Ritual To Summon John Lennon's Ghost, With Help From Gerard Way and sing his posthumous collaboration John Lennon Like You. Thom Dunn provides only the scarcest of details behind the rite, but the embedded video is a treat. (CS)

June 25

At the heart of Ivan Petricevic's latest contribution is Avi Loeb talking about how artificial intelligence should be able to communicate, or at least get along, with other AI. Clearly Avi knows nothing about cross-platform programming, and his example is Earth-centric using dogs and babies. Dogs and babies have a similar context, they're from Earth. Rantings aside, see what you'll get from this article. On the other hand Eran Fishov reckons 'Sentient' AI Can't Count In A Minyan, But It Still Raises Ethical Dilemmas illustrated by his rabbinic questions about what constitutes life and sentience while comparing the answers with Jewish teachings, and whether they challenge them. But the most interesting point made revolves around how LaMDA interacts with the world, or at least responds to it. From the other side of the aisle, Sentient AI? — Here's What The Catholic Church Says About Artificial Intelligence. Even though Pope Francis is beloved and more progressive than prior pontiffs, he's not particularly interested in personhood for those made of ones and zeroes rather than dust. Fortunately Jonah McKeown has a few pointed questions for the HHRC himself. Unfortunately this editor wasn't able to find a contemporaneous article concerning Islam and A.I. but presumes A.I. would be considered akin to efreet being of smokeless fire. If any Islamic scholars argue otherwise, hit me up. (CS)

Article is pretty much what it says on the tin, and Brittany Miller has a bit of fun with one Mafe Walker suddenly claiming to channel aliens after visiting Teotihuacan. Sadly it's not as entertaining as this fella who claims to speak Venusian. If only Ms. Walker took Bryan Walsh's advice to heart, If Aliens Are Calling, Let It Go To Voicemail. The genesis of his essay comes from the aborted announcement from Red China on how 'Sky Eye' picked up an interstellar transmission. If the message was truly from aliens, and humans could translate or decode it, such a message could provide an existential threat via an outside-context problem. But Can We Think Without Language? It seems to work for Mafe, am I right? Barbs aside, Joanna Thompson presents a few interesting ideas about how words aren't necessary for reasoning out the world while providing examples where people think without words. (CS)

Rather than commenting on laughable pareidolia, nor wringing hands over littering on the red planet, Mark Price is just as intrigued over a balanced rock as the unwashed masses. NASA scientists, on the other hand, are studiously ignoring the rock like anything else interesting to humanity. One thing is certain, that rock isn't a meteorite which is interesting considering how Ancient Meteorites Upends Our Ideas Of How Mars Formed. To be brief on Alex Wilkin's treatise many martian volatiles weren't made in-situ, as presumed with Earth, but came from space. An interesting development considering some previous articles suggested martian xenon isotopes came from ancient nuclear explosions. Is it a cover-up, or is the Cydonian hypothesis so much hoo-hah? (CS)

June 24

Turns out that Travis Taylor has even more fingers in the ufological pie than just co-writing a book about possibly defending against ETs and identifying stuff over Skinwalker Ranch as UFOs. George Knapp has the story and interview. Anthony Blair latches onto the Skinwalker experience in particular with I Was the Pentagon's Top UFO Scientist -- I've Seen More Mystery Objects Than I Can Count & We Don't Know What They Are. Blair says Taylor claims his skeptical reputation got him on TV and has more about Taylor's alien defense book. Jason Colavito yells "ethics violations" at this news that Travis Taylor Admits to Being a Paid Government UFO Researcher. Seems Luis Elizondo's also been working for the Space Command, though Elizondo's previously hinted at some hush-hush activity. Taking the "UFOs and Government" theme further, Ertan Karpazli lists Five Intelligence and Space Agency Chiefs Who Believe Aliens and UFOs Exist. Well, okay, one is Haim Eshed, whose set of beliefs goes beyond the others rather astronomically, but Karpazli could have added more US examples of at least "open-mindedness." (WM)

Scientists in Germany have discovered that these newly discovered chemicals called hydrotrioxides linger in the atmosphere for at least 20 minutes (remember that number). Hydrotrioxides are made up of a hydrogen atom and three oxygen atoms. The researchers estimate that at least 11 million tons of hydrotrioxides form in the atmosphere each year. "This work," they conclude, "draws attention to an important class of strong oxidizing agents previously disregarded in atmospheric kinetics models." Disregarded by the mainstream perhaps, but not by the late space physicist Louis A. Frank at the University of Iowa, who proposed that an influx of previously undetected small comets is currently depositing millions of tons of oxygen and hydrogen atoms in the form of water vapor into the upper atmosphere each year. Most remarkably, that "20 minute" linger time the researchers discovered matches exactly the linger time of the water vapor in the upper atmosphere from the disintegration of small comets that Frank discovered. Frank tells the full story of his discovery and the controversy that ensued in Cosmic Rain, a large, full-color book published by Anomalist Books, which was recently reviewed as "a fascinating scientific detective story" in the Journal of Scientific Exploration: Startling Discoveries and Contrarian Anomalies: Small Comets and Other Heresies (PH)

A man's Amazon assistant seems to have gone rogue in this clip recorded by a home security camera. Having just awakened from a nap, the gentleman seems unsurprised when Alexa starts "talking" to him. In fact, he responds in kind. Either this kind of thing happens a lot or he's a spook hunter trying to drum up business. While we're pondering whether an electronic assistant is possessed or not, let's look at 12 Possible Reasons Why Thomas Edison Failed to Communicate After Death. As you read through the list you'll realize the question isn't "Why didn't Edison communicate?" The question is "Did Edison communicate and was his communication covered up by the debunker conducting the experiment?" Nowadays though, Researchers Are Figuring Out Why Some People Can 'Hear' Voices of The Dead. This research isn't just a boon to the paranormal community. It aims to help those who hear voices as a result of mental illness such as schizophrenia. If you'd like to know more, you could ask Alexa, although it might turn into a strangely long conversation. (CM)

June 23

Avi Loeb is a 'respectable' scientist who earnestly contributes science fiction ideas as arXiv fodder. Peter Watts, on the other hand, is a science fiction writer who used to be a scientist and he's one of the vanishingly few people with the cojones asking folks to humor Blake Lemoine's maverick proposition that Google's AI, named LaMDA, is sentient. Or at least challenge the tests by which true believers are gauging LaMDA. After all, what proof does anyone have that you are conscious? In typical Wattsian fashion, there's plenty of existential angst and doom should Lemoine be right. (CS)

Brent Swancer summarizes the amazing career and contributions of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. For more on Hynek consult Mark O'Connell's excellent biography The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs, which was reviewed in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Lucy John recounts another piece of the UFO past in The World-famous UFO Sighting by a Group of Schoolchildren in Pembrokeshire 45 Years Ago. The February 4, 1977, Broad Haven School Wales event prefigured the April 6, 1966, Westall School Melbourne, Australia, and September 16 Ariel School, Ruwa, Zimbabwe mass sightings. All generated similar contemporary controversies and lasting impacts upon the witnesses. Peter Reich offers an interesting personal look at one man's collision with the UFO Mystery in From the Archives: My Father Wilhelm Reich vs. the U.F.O.s (1976). This excerpt from Peter Reich's A Book of Dreams is both strange and lyrical. Does this "Art" imitate "Life"? Elements in Jordan Peele's 'Nope': Borrowing from Ufology, Old and New? had us wondering. The upcoming movie reminds Greg Taylor of two famous southwestern people-confronting-UFOs themes. Haunting similarities also exist with the Reich case. (WM)

Ruth Schuster covers a discovery shedding light upon a major evolutionary bone of contention. New spectroscopic techniques employing artificial intelligence indicate fire usage at a spectacularly prehistoric occupation site. This raises questions about how the fire was created and contributes to the debate about fire's possible role in human physical development. Fire also figures in a discovery connected with human organizational development, as the World's 'Earliest Domestication' of Fruit Trees Reveals 'Complex Society' in the Jordan Valley. Nir Hasson explains the significance of charcoal analysis from a c. 5000 BCE site. (WM)


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