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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

UFOs - A Challenge to Mainstream Science

UFOs - A Challenge to Mainstream Science

Patricia B. Corbett
 
 
Summary: An excellent, award-winning overview of the UFO phenomenon, the evidence, and mainstream science. Examines why scientists do not look at the physical evidence; describes what the existing evidence is; and guides the reader to many books, reports and databases that contain evidence of UFO reality. In addition, lists many of the world leaders, scientists, astronauts, military personnel and other credible people who have witnessed UFOs themselves, adding convincing personal testimony to the available data.

For the last half of the 20th century, the UFO phenomenon has perplexed both the public and the scientific community. At the beginning of the 21st century, the overwhelming majority of the American public--about 70%--believes that UFOs are real and that they most likely are guided by intelligent beings from other worlds or dimensions. The scientific advances and discoveries that have resulted from our own human space program have helped shape the views of the American public on UFOs and extraterrestrial life.

The scientific community, however, remains uninterested in and scornfully dismissive of the question of the reality of UFOs and the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life visiting Earth. Yet, even as scientists and astronomers discover new planets and solar systems; find exotic life forms on Earth that thrive in extreme environments previously thought to be uninhabitable; and uncover tantalizing hints of life on at least 10 bodies within our own solar system, mainstream scientists continue to mock and deride those who take the phenomenon of UFOs seriously.

What is needed to change the prevailing view of mainstream science concerning UFOs? First, it is essential to present this important phenomenon to serious scientists in a context with which they are familiar, namely, the discipline of science as it is practiced today. Second, it is equally important to show that the tools of science can be used to investigate the UFO phenomenon and to reach valid conclusions about it. What is needed to accomplish this? Let's look at what science itself is and what it requires.

Science is an objective, disciplined methodology for investigating natural phenomena. Scientists--those having expert knowledge of one or more of the existing scientific disciplines--use the scientific method in their efforts to extend and deepen our understanding of the physical world. The scientific method is defined in the dictionary as "the principles and empirical processes of discovery and demonstration that are characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation." In general, the scientific method involves the observation of a phenomenon, the formulation of a hypothesis about the phenomenon, experimentation designed to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.

Does the prevailing mindset foster a scientific inquiry into this subject? Unfortunately not. Despite the widespread public acceptance of the reality of UFOs, the impression one receives about the phenomenon from the mass media is that it is not a serious subject worthy of the attention of serious minds. Rather, as presented on TV or in newspapers and magazines, the UFO phenomenon is a goofy, fringe subject of interest only to the uneducated, fans of science fiction and others with over-excited imaginations, or those who have taken too many drugs or drink too much. This general attitude presents a substantial obstacle when it comes to involving scientists in the study of UFOs.

There is an even more serious obstacle in the way of the scientific investigation of UFOs. The scientific and academic communities in particular do not take kindly to the investigation of the UFO phenomenon by their peers and colleagues. There have been significant negative consequences in terms of career and reputation for those scholars and scientists who have taken the subject seriously. The story of the internationally-renowned Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, MD is a case in point. After an exemplary 35-year career with Harvard, Dr. Mack was nearly stripped of his tenure and his license to practice medicine because of his investigations of UFOs and encounters with intelligent extraterrestrial beings.

Perhaps the most significant obstacle in the way of scientific research involves the official secrecy--based on national security claims--that surrounds the UFO phenomenon. Officially, since at least 1947, the U.S. government has dismissed UFOs as misidentifications of ordinary aircraft, planets, stars, or natural weather phenomena. Unofficially, over the same period, the U.S. government has taken an intense interest in UFOs, classifying them at a secrecy level higher than that for the hydrogen bomb. Even the President of the United States does not receive a full briefing on classified UFO matters. This cloak of secrecy keeps crucial hard data, collected by the military and a range of intelligence agencies, out of the hands of scientists, thus critically hampering a complete investigation of the phenomenon.

The late Carl Sagan, a proponent of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, which uses radiotelescopes to search for signs of intelligent life in the universe, was the foremost UFO debunker of the last 25 years. A statement that Dr. Sagan made regarding UFOs has been widely quoted, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." In his view, the claims of those who accept the reality of UFOs are extraordinary but are not supported by sufficient objective evidence.

Noted UFO expert and best-selling author Budd Hopkins considers Dr. Sagan's remark to be disingenuous. According to Mr. Hopkins, "Extraordinary phenomena require an extraordinary investigation." In other words, the scientific community does not have the proof it needs because the scientific community is not undertaking a serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon. Why? Because the prevailing opinion among scientists is that UFOs do not exist. Since UFOs do not exist, there is nothing to investigate.

Is a scientific inquiry into this phenomenon worth the effort? Nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, a man who has devoted the last 35 years to a scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon, believes that if the mainstream media devoted the same amount of effort to solving the Cosmic Watergate that they did to solving the political Watergate, the UFO question could be answered in six months. Recently, Peter Sturrock authored a scientific study of UFOs that was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration which concluded that there exists a significant body of evidence about UFOs that demands a thorough scientific investigation.

So what do scientists need to conduct a serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon? Scientists need: (1) a physical phenomenon to observe;
(2) the formulation of a hypothesis about the phenomenon;
(3) experiments to test the hypothesis; and
(4) conclusions based on the results of the tests that confirm, refute or modify the hypothesis.

The UFO phenomenon meets all four of these scientific requirements:

(1) There is a physical phenomenon to observe. UFOs have been seen worldwide for over 50 years and captured on still and motion picture film and on videotape. There are a number of databases available, each of which contains tens of thousands of documented reports of UFO sightings.

(2) Hypotheses have been formulated. There are many variations of a simple hypothesis: UFOs are intelligently-controlled, physical craft not of Earthly origin.

(3) There is physical evidence that can be scientifically tested. Physical evidence of UFO operations in and around the Earth's atmosphere, as well as on the surface of the Earth, exists and has been studied scientifically (e.g., soil samples, radiation effects, electromagnetic activity).

(4) Evidence-based conclusions can be drawn by scientists. The results of the scientific tests will confirm, refute or modify the hypothesis that UFOs are physical craft not of Earthly origin.


The Best Available Evidence

The wealth of evidence available for scientific scrutiny cannot be brought out in detail in this brief essay. However, some of the major areas of research and some of the significant scientific contributions can be described as a starting point for scientists interested in the subject.

Contrary to popular accounts in the media, and to many scholarly articles on UFOs, the phenomenon is quite frequently reported by scientists, military personnel, police officers, commercial and private airplane pilots. Also contrary to popular belief, UFO reports are not limited to rural areas or confined to the United States. The phenomenon has been reported in about 150 nations and over major metropolitan areas in the U.S, the U.K, the former U.S.S.R., Germany, France, Spain, all the Scandinavian countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, throughout Africa and Central and South America, and at both the North and South Poles. UFOs have also been reported quite frequently over civilian and military nuclear facilities; at military bases in the U.S. and worldwide; above and beneath the surface of the Earth's oceans; and outside the Earth's atmosphere.

In other words, there is scarcely a place on Earth that UFOs have not been witnessed and reported by reliable people. The best available evidence for scientists to ponder comes from every corner of the world. Scientists should be particularly impressed by the evidence presented by the following professionals:

Astronomers
Astronauts and Cosmonauts
Aeronautical engineers
Air traffic controllers
Airline, military and private pilots
Civil defense and ground corps observers
Government officials
Military personnel other than pilots
Police officers
Professors of engineering, physics, space science
Professional photographers (still, motion picture and video)
Radar operators
The reports made by numerous credible, trained men and women have provided a wealth of "hard data" that scientists can analyze with known instrumentation and procedures. In addition, scientists can review studies of such data that have already been completed by reputable scientists. Two recent examples are described briefly below.

If a serious study of the physical evidence relating to the UFO phenomenon--such as the one conducted by Peter A. Sturrock and his colleagues and described in the book The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence--were conducted by scientists, it would not only raise the level of the debate but also encourage more scientists to study the phenomenon, develop and test new ideas, and draw their own conclusions. This could not help but advance our knowledge of this perplexing phenomenon. Sturrock provides convincing evidence that the UFO phenomenon is accessible to scientific analysis and that it merits and warrants scientific study.

In the book, Unconventional Flying Objects: A Scientific Analysis, Paul R. Hill, a well-respected NASA scientist, has put the UFO phenomenon to just the kind of rigorous scientific scrutiny that the phenomenon demands. His research shows that UFOs "obey, not defy, the laws of physics." Dr. Hill has reported on the basic science and technology that is at the heart of the near-miraculous performance capabilities that witnesses describe UFOs as possessing. In precise detail, Dr. Hill shows how the descriptions of UFO behavior, made by credible witnesses, are in accord with what we know about physics. Serious scientists cannot ignore Dr. Hill's important work.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek, PhD, a highly respected astronomer, was for years the leading Air Force consultant for Project Blue Book, the official U.S. Air Force investigation of flying saucers. The evidence gathered by the Air Force--which was determined to "explain away" the phenomenon--changed Dr. Hynek from a UFO skeptic to one of the world's leading scientific experts on the UFO phenomenon. Any scientific investigation of UFOs must include the study of Hynek's books The UFO Experience, The Edge of Reality and The Hynek UFO Report. It is crucial to keep in mind that, although Dr. Hynek became aware of the dishonesty and duplicity of the Air Force in its UFO-related efforts, it was the physical evidence that caused Dr. Hynek to make a radical turn from a UFO debunker to a UFO scholar.

Even the work of Dr. Edward U. Condon, a man who had prejudged the UFO phenomenon and determined the results of his investigation before he began it, provides scientific evidence supporting the belief that UFOs are a real phenomenon worthy of scientific inquiry. Dr. Condon was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force to study UFOs. The official goal was to understand the phenomenon. The unofficial goal was to wipe UFOs off the public radar screen once and for all. On January 8, 1969, "The Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects," conducted by the University of Colorado, under contract to the United States Air Force, was released. Dr. Condon was the scientific director.

The results of the report were used by the Air Force as its justification to close Project Blue Book and end its official involvement with UFOs. Ina press release that accompanied the complete 900-plus page report, Dr. Condon claimed that the evidence suggested that UFOs were not worthy of scientific inquiry, that nothing of further value would come from such an effort. The media only looked at the press release, not the actual report, accepted Dr. Condon's claims at face value, and trumpeted them worldwide. It seemed the scientific case was closed.

However, serious scientists, such as David R. Saunders (co-Principal Investigator of the Condon Committee), Stanton Friedman, Peter A. Sturrock and others have noticed major discrepancies between what the press release said was in the report and what was actually in the report. For example, the press release stated that only a few percent of cases investigated remained unsolved, whereas, in fact, about 30 percent of the cases investigated remained unexplained. This is a very high figure indeed, one suggesting the need for further scientific study. In addition, a reading of the text of the report clearly shows that UFOs present a significant challenge to contemporary science. Even the work of a determined debunker such as Dr. Condon revealed that the UFO phenomenon is in urgent need of scientific evaluation and comprehension.

Carl Sagan was the co-editor, along with Thornton Page, a professor of astronomy and NASA research associate, of a very useful book for scientists intrigued by the UFO phenomenon, UFOs: A Scientific Debate. The book is the result of the proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Scientists with divergent views from different disciplines--e.g., astronomy, physics, meteorology, psychiatry, psychology, sociology--applied the scientific method to the study of this controversial topic.

The scientists analyzed photographs, radar evidence, physical traces of UFOs, witness credibility and psychology, natural phenomena often misidentified by layman as UFOs, popular belief in UFOs and the role of the mass media in the phenomenon. It should be clear to any scientist reading this book that UFOs are a serious subject and that most major questions about them remain unanswered.

Richard M. Hall is the editor of The UFO Evidence, a report put out in 1964 by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). This volume is valuable both historically and in terms of useful scientific information. NICAP focused its research efforts on credible reports from qualified witnesses that showed strong, identifiable patterns and consistencies in the data from one source to another. Later scientific investigations have confirmed the findings of this 1964 report and contributed important new information as well. The UFO Evidence, a reference that has been cited in nearly every major study of UFOs in the past four decades, is an important summary of the evidence of UFO reality compiled in the early days of the "modern era" of UFO studies. It provides scientists with sample cases that show general features of UFO reports; cases indicating that UFOs are intelligently controlled; reports of sightings by Air Force pilots, navigators, and other personnel; observations by airline, military and private pilots; reports from professional scientists, engineers, astronomers and aeronautical engineers; as well as police officers and credible civilians. In addition, the report contains evidence relating to the electro-magnetic effects of UFOs, radar cases, physical and physiologic effects of UFOs, photographic and acoustical evidence; statistical analyses of patterns of UFO maneuvers, appearance, flight characteristics and recurrent observations; and details about many other important aspects of this phenomenon. The UFO Evidence makes a strong case for both the reality of UFOs and the great value of a scientific study of the phenomenon.

In December 1995, the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS); the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR); and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) produced an exciting and important publication, Briefing Document on Unidentified Flying Objects: The Best Available Evidence. Although it presents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the scientific and military evidence available worldwide concerning UFOs, this publication is especially valuable to scientists because it offers readers the most carefully documented information available.

As it makes its case for UFO reality, and for the extraterrestrial origin of UFOs, the briefing document presents radar evidence, visual evidence, physical evidence, descriptions of the shapes of UFOs and of their performance capabilities. All of this information can be evaluated scientifically. The document details prime examples of UFO reports made around the world from the 1950s through the mid-1990s. This briefing document may be the most convincing report yet compiled suggesting that UFOs are real. It definitely makes an undeniable case for further scientific investigation into the UFO enigma and should be required scientific reading.

There are many other valuable scientific books and papers that have been published over the past 50 years, all of which provide evidence that UFOs are not misidentified natural phenomena or man-made objects, the products of the minds of highly imaginative or delusional people, or the malicious hoaxes of merry pranksters around the globe.

In addition to the substantial body of evidence available for scientists to review, there are many astronauts, cosmonauts, scientists and prominent government and military officials from many nations around the world who accept the reality of UFOs. This information has come from either direct public statements or from classified documents that have been released to the public. These individuals include such U.S. military, intelligence and political figures as:

General Nathan D. Twining, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1957-1960);
J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI;
General Walter Bedell Smith, Director of the CIA (1950-1953);
General Douglas MacArthur;
Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, Chief of project Blue Book;
Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, first Director of the CIA (1947-1950);
General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff;
Major General E.B. LeBaily, U.S. Air Force Director of Information;
General George S. Brown, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff;
Lt. Col. Lawrence J. Coyne, U.S. Army Reserve helicopter pilot;
Victor Marchetti, CIA official;
President Harry S. Truman;
President Gerald Ford;
President Jimmy Carter;
President Ronald Reagan;
Senator Barry M. Goldwater;
Representative John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House;
Representative Jerry L. Pettis;
Representative Steven H. Schiff.


If military, intelligence and political figures do not impress scientists when it comes to UFOs, perhaps American astronauts will. Among the astronauts who have either witnessed UFOs themselves, or are aware of UFO reality, are Gordon Cooper, Donald "Deke" Slayton, Edgar Mitchell, Al Worden, Eugene Cernan, and Story Musgrave. They are joined by the Soviet cosmonauts Yevegni Khrunov, Vladimir Kovalyonok, and Major General Pavel Popovich.

Scientists who are aware of UFO reality include Dr. Clyde W. Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered Pluto; Dr. Frank B. Salisbury, professor of plant physiology at Utah State University; Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Chairman of the Dept. of Astronomy at Northwestern University and scientific consultant for Air Force UFO investigations from 1948 through 1969; Dr. Leo J. Sprinkle, professor of psychology at the University of Wyoming; Dr. James E. McDonald, Senior Physicist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona; Dr. Robert M.L. Baker, Jr., President of West Coast University; Stanton T. Friedman, nuclear physicist and UFO researcher; Dr. Margaret Mead, world-renowned anthropologist; Dr. Richard Haines, psychologist for the Ames NASA Research Center; Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, Professor of Space Science and Astrophysics and Deputy Director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford University; Dr. Jacques Vallee, astrophysicist, computer scientist and UFO author; and Dr. John E. Mack, Professor of Psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

In addition to these eminent figures, equally impressive military, intelligence and political figures have come forward with information and evidence about UFO reality in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and many other nations.

Scientists can also avail themselves of the hard data about UFOs that are contained in a wide range of databases that are available to researchers. Among them are:

UFOCAT--a computer catalog of raw UFO reports of sightings from around the world, started in the 1970s by Dr. David Saunders. There are over 50,000 reports from five continents. UFOCAT is maintained by the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS).

GROUND TRACES--a catalog of UFO cases where plants and soil were affected is maintained by CUFOS.

PILOT CASES--NASA scientist Richard Haines has a computerized catalog of UFO sightings by military, commercial, private and test pilots that has more than 3600 cases going back to the early 1980s.

These are just a few of the databases that are available to scientists who want to investigate the evidence that has been collected concerning UFOs.

Obstacles in the Way

The valuable scientific books and papers that have been published over the past 50 years, and the worldwide UFO reports made by highly credible people, cannot be glibly dismissed as errors, fraud or malicious hoaxes. The body of evidence that diligent researchers have compiled cannot fail to convince any open-minded scientist that UFOs are real and worthy of scientific study.

Yet few scientists look at the evidence and there is no major scientific exploration of this phenomenon by mainstream science. How can this be? What are the obstacles in the way?

In the 1950s, the Brookings Institute issued a report entitled, "The Implications of a Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life." The report suggested that out of all groups in society "scientists and engineers may be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures." Is the finding that the discovery of intelligent life would be devastating to human scientists still true today? In a recent survey, 75 percent of scientists said they would like to learn more about UFOs. In 1976, Peter A. Sturrock conducted an small survey of members of the American Astronomical Society. He found that most of the respondents were curious about UFOs. However, while scientists express interest in the question of UFOs and extraterrestrial life in anonymous surveys, they still remain, in general, derisive and dismissive in their public statements about UFOs.

Michael E. Zimmerman, a professor of philosophy and former Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Tulane University believes that many scientists refuse to discuss UFOs for three reasons: (1) fear of loss of social status through ridicule; (2) superior non-human intelligence threatens personal psychology and worldview; and (3) fear of social chaos in the face of ET superiority. However, Prof. Zimmerman also sees signs of change. He notes that at least some scientists are now beginning to take the UFO and the related ET-abduction phenomena seriously and to study them systematically. Zimmerman even suspects that some scientists and government officials are slowly, carefully leaking information to the public about UFO reality and ET presence to prepare the public for the revelation that extraterrestrials are visiting our planet.

In the opinion of Peter A. Sturrock, the lack of public funds to support UFO research is a major obstacle in the way of significant scientific investigation. Like Prof. Zimmerman, he notes that UFO research is not considered respectable in academic and scientific circles and that this keeps people from pursuing serious work in the area. Dr. Sturrock is of the opinion that, if scientific progress is to be made in this field, public opinion must be galvanized to demand that UFO research be supported with significant funding from the Federal government. The recent study directed by Dr. Sturrock concluded that (1) the UFO phenomena is complex and not likely to be solved by one simple universal answer and (2) the scientific investigation of the unexplained observations that characterize the UFO phenomenon will most likely lead to important new knowledge.

Conclusion

Sturrock and others have observed that scientists are interested in UFOs but unwilling to become involved publicly. Scientists say "show me the evidence" but do not study the reams of evidence available. Carl Sagan has said that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Mainstream scientists often quote Sagan to defend their reluctance to look into the question of UFOs. However, today's scientists are like the scientists of Galileo's day who refused to look into the telescope to see the moons of Jupiter with their own eyes.

What is needed? We do not need objective evidence. There is plenty of hard data about all aspects of the UFO phenomenon just begging for scientific evaluation. What is needed on the part of science today is a radical shift in its worldview, in its mindset. What can bring about this profound change, which some call a "mindshift"?

Perhaps scientists will only change after encountering the UFO phenomenon directly, through a sighting of a craft in the sky, a craft on the ground with entities nearby, or even more dramatically, through a direct, personal encounter with non-human intelligences. Such an experience would most certainly transform even the most die-hard skeptic and debunker. Or perhaps scientists need to undergo the kind of transformative event that Edgar Mitchell experienced on his return voyage from the moon to the Earth, when he intuitively perceived that the universe is self-aware and that everything is interconnected.

It may take more than objective, physical evidence alone to convince scientists that UFOs are real and worthy of scientific investigation. But a start has to be made somewhere. It can be made with the evidence now at hand, evidence that grows daily as UFO reports continue to come in from around the world. The data gathered by dedicated researchers over the past 50 years await a new Galileo or Newton to synthesize into a worldview that is broader and deeper than today's reigning paradigm. Too many scientists today are demanding proof, instead of doing the hard work needed to demonstrate the reality of UFOs and to uncover the incontrovertible proof of the existence of intelligent life beyond Earth.

In 1956, in his last published work, Contact with Space, the pioneering scientist Wilhelm Reich wrote, "What do they want for proof? There is no proof. There are no authorities whatever. No President, Academy, Court of Law, Congress or Senate on this earth has the knowledge or power to decide what will be the knowledge of tomorrow...Only the good old rules of learning will eventually bring about understanding of what has invaded our earthly existence. Let those who are ignorant of the ways of learning stand aside, while those who know what learning is, blaze the trail into the unknown."

Where are the scientists who will lead us in our search for the knowledge of tomorrow? The tools needed are at hand; the information we need is there, waiting to be discovered. The UFO phenomenon, dismissed and derided today, may prove to be the key to the lock that will open the door to our cosmic future.

Hong Van-A Reincarnation in Vietnam

The Anomalist


A Reincarnation in Vietnam

By Hong Van
*


She is Ha Thi Khuyen, 13 years old by now, living in Buoc Village , Lam Phu commune, Lang Chanh district, Thanh Hoa, central province of Vietnam. She was born in December, 1988, to Ha Van Loi and his wife, Lo Thi Son. Khuyen was different from other children. At 8 months, she could walk and run. When she was little more than one year old, she could speak.

Khuyen told her parents very often that she was not their daughter. Never she called her parents dad or mum but she called them brother and sister-in-law. She told them that she had been a daughter of a family in Van village, later located in Yen Thang commune, in the same Lang Chanh district of Thanh Hoa, and that she died in an accident.

Van Village and Buoc Village are divided by ridge of mountain. They are 10 kilometers apart by air and it is 110 kilometers by road to go from one village to the other. People of these two villages rarely visit each other because the roads are in such bad condition over the mountain.

Early in the Summer of 2000, when a woman from Van village came by chance to Buoc village, Khuyen recognized her. She asked whether the woman remembered her or not. The woman did not remember.

"Who are you?" the woman asked.

"I am Chuan, my father is Liem living in Van village. I died 10 years ago," said Khuyen

"Why are you here?" the woman asked.

"I am re-born coming and living here," replied Khuyen.

The woman came back to Van village and told everyone this story. She learned that 10 years before, there was a girl named Chuan who had died.

Some months later, Chuan's aunt came to Buoc vilage to probe into the matter.

When she came, Khuyen happily ran out to her: "Aunt Thuan? Why are you here?"

"Who are you?" said the woman named Thuan

"I am Chuan, daughter of Dad Liem," said Khuyen. "I died after swallowing a peach seed. I died in your arms when you were rushing me to hospital."

"Why you are here?" Chuanís aunt asked.

"I am re-born here," said Khuyen. Then Khuyen told her aunt about all the family members.

On August, 18, 2000, Khuyen and the woman who gave birth to her came to Van village. They were so poor that they had not managed to visit Van village before. Khuyen then recognized her family members, friends and neighbours, and recognized her house when her uncle pretended to pass by it. Her family members then realized that she looked like other members of the family.

Back to the beginning of the story: Luong Thi Chuan (first life) was born in 1980. When she was 7 years old, she died. In 1988, she was re-born under the new name: Ha Thi Khuyen.

Lo Thi Son, aged 36, who gave birth to Ha Thi Khuyen said: "We got married for 4 years and did not have any children. One day, I passed by Van village and witnessed a funeral of a young girl. I said, 'what a pity child.' I was pregnant a few days after that."

Khuyen told another story: "My funeral was going on when I saw a woman sitting on the side of the road saying that she loved me so much. In a hurry, I jumped into her belly bag (look like kangaroo's) and my second life started ever since."

Lo Thi Son added that she has four children. Khuyen is the first, the second died shortly after being born, the third was born in 1990 and the fourth, born in 1993. Ha Van Cap, Son's fourth child, a boy, also told her that he had once been the daughter of Vi Van Cuu. Cap is now accepted by both families. He looks like a girl because the previous life, he was a girl. He wants to wear dress, and it is very strange that his ears look as if there had once been earring holes.

Khuyen is one of many cases of re-birth in the Lam Phu commune. Local people tell five other stories about re-born children and call for interested scientists to investigate. Most of the children died in accidents when they were so young and were reborn in another family. Local people see it as normal phenomenon.


*Hong Van works for Japanese TV, NHK, in Vietnam.

J. Randles-My View of Abductions

The Anomalist

My View of Abductions

By Jenny Randles*

I first investigated an abduction case in the UK 20 years ago.  For seven years I worked with clinical psychologists and attended about a dozen regression experiments on various cases. The outcome was quite varied and none involved the  traditional gray figures conducting medical examinations seen the United States.  What entities did appear were mostly human or Nordic. But there was a range of others,  from monsters to robots. The only real consistency came in the basic form of the  experience: witness sees a light, witness loses consciousness, witness awakes in  strange bright room and sees entities, some sort of contact/psychic experience or  message is conveyed, witness reawakens back in prior environment (e.g., bedroom or  car--these accounting for 17 out of 19 cases I looked into during that time). There  were smatterings of medical probes but nothing like that found in the cases investigated  by Budd Hopkins. This work of mine occurred between l979 and l986.


From this data several conclusions emerged. Various witnesses  explained their doubts about hypnosis. They felt it made them more confused, not  less so. They were unclear of the reality status of their experience. Some felt positively  harmed psychologically by the trauma of hypnosis. I also saw warning signs. In one  case I found myself suddenly speaking to the witness (in regression) who was no longer describing her encounter but channeling the alien and cosmic messages as if I was  now actually addressing that being. In another case a witness suffered an epileptic  seizure during regression. And there were at least three cases where the doctor,  monitoring EEG and EKG of the witness, terminated the experiment as these became  dangerously high. I even later discovered that one doctor (medically qualified),  whom one of my colleagues was working with, was evidently using a drug to help induce  hypnosis that brought him considerable pressure from the medical council afterwards,  since I gather some of his patients were unaware of its use.

 For these reasons I rapidly came to see hypnosis as a major part of the problem, given its less than acknowledged ability to always stimulate memory rather than fantasy.  As our primary duty was to the witness, it was to my mind dangerous to push them  into such situations merely on the pretext that we were seeking "better evidence"  about their abduction. The tighter controls and l988 British UFO Research Association  (BUFORA) ban on the use of regression altogether greatly reduced the number of reported  abductions; although not to zero. Some conscious memory cases did arrive and, of  course, several UK groups continued unabated with the use of regression. Although  I have not recommended the use of hypnosis to any witness since the BUFORA ban and  have not been directly involved in any subsequent case that has used it, I have personally  undergone hypnosis (via a clinical psychologist) as part of an experiment and sat  in as observer on other cases where hypnosis was used (again via a different clinical  psychologist).


I also discovered several cases where my investigation revealed  that the perceived time loss of a few minutes--the period thought to contain the  abduction--probably never actually occurred. Logically, if there was no time lapse  (or at most, say, of five minutes) then there could be no abduction. But when an  abduction recall did emerge during hypnosis in these cases, we had a problem. Was  the recall a fantasy induced by hypnosis, but taken more seriously because of the misdiagnosis of a time lapse? Or was the abduction experience real enough, but contracted  in time so that it seemed to last, say, an hour when only five minutes went by? If  so there is one phenomenon that already involves what we find in abductions--such  time contractions, scene jumping and impossible reality superimposed onto normal  reality. That phenomenon is the dream- -particularly the lucid dream. I thought immediately  this was a significant clue and have developed from it my "waking lucid dream"  hypothesis.


From the evidence I have watched unfold personally--across  some 30 cases and with association of some kind with several others --I have some  opinions on what is happening. Firstly, witnesses to an abduction are almost always  sincere. These are not hoaxes but genuine, mystifying experiences. They occur to  what we might call an abduction prone personality -- with traits that have clearly  stood out in my cases and via several other studies (e.g., by Keith Basterfield in  Australia, Ken Philips in the UK and Dr Alex Keul's European anamnesis experiments).  They are predominantly young (very few over the age of 40), female (around two thirds  of UK witnesses), above average intelligence, creatively visual, with a developing interest in ecology and similar ideals, possessive of above average recall of early life experiences (e.g. prior to the age of 2), and commonly with a life long track record of experiencing strange phenomena of which the abduction/s is/are just a part.  Not all witnesses have all features but 90 of mine have at least three. As such,  I think it is fair to say that being an abductee is a specialist skill.


The abduction also clearly occurs during an altered state of  consciousness (ASC). The average number of witnesses for three different events shows  this. A town bank robbery generates about 3 witnesses per event, in other words those  who are not directly involved in the incident. A non-alien UFO sighting has approximately  2.6 witnesses per case from various studies, which is not wildly different, and suggests  that both are real world events. Abductions have an average witness per case ratio  of about 1.25, indicating they are far more subjective. Although one case I was involved  with featured five witnesses (only two of whom recalled the abduction, and then with  conflicting memories), and two others featured three (again each with recall that  was only partly mutually consistent and largely diverged from a common theme in independent  directions), virtually all the rest were single witness events.


Moreover, there were no observed abductions in the UK. In a  few instances, UFOs (mostly lights in the sky) were seen in the same general area  as the abduction. But nobody in any UK case saw the witness being abducted into a  spaceship, saw the UFO that did the abducting, witnessed the same aliens that night,  or in fact anything to prove an abduction occurred, as opposed to proving (as some  cases do) that a UFO sighting preceded the witness belief that they were abducted.  The distinction between these things is paramount. In addition, there are cases (two  in the UK, others in various countries) where a witness apparently undergoing an abduction is witnesses by a third party during that time. They have then been clearly  seen to have physically gone nowhere, but to be in a strange ASC (described in various  cases as "a trance," or "a catatonic sleep" or even mistaken for drunkenness on one occasion). What I think this indicates is that the experience  occurs at an inner level of reality and is principally a phenomenon of consciousness  rather than literal reality. The presence of the Oz Factor state triggering abductions  is another key to the entering of this ASC, I believe.


The evidence therefore supports the existence of a UFO of some  sort appearing in the area of the abduction, but only that it is then followed by  a subjective experience evolving from the sighting. This occurs to a witness in an  altered state during which they believe (sincerely) they have undergone an abduction,  but in truth they have effectively stayed where they were all the time. Certain people  (the abduction prone personality) is capable of having this experience far more readily than most of us and if two people are separate but close together in space at the onset of a UFO close encounter, the evidence suggests that an abduction prone personality  would go on to have a deep level abduction, whereas someone who is not may just see  the UFO, e.g., as a strange light.


Multiple witnesses cases are the key here, which is why we  need to focus upon them. Unfortunately, in nearly every case they are intimately  connected individuals rather than true separate witnesses, and even when there are  multiple witnesses, it is frequent that only one or two of them recall anything beyond  the UFO sighting. This supports my argument that the UFO stimulus triggers different  levels of experience (from nothing to an abduction), according to the witness involved.  So, yes, I believe abductions are indeed real experiences. But I think they are a mixture of objective and subjective elements. I believe a real UFO can trigger them,  but that much of the subsequent encounter occurs as an altered state to a certain  type of witness and is only subjectively real.


The question is: what is the source of the trigger phenomenon  and the experience that follows within the ASC? I think there are three broad possibilities:


(1) The UFO could be some kind of natural, scientific anomaly  complete with radiating energy fields. In this possibility, as neuroscientist Michael  Persinger suggests, the temporal lobe of certain people are stimulated, triggering  an abduction fantasy that develops out of the belief that they have just seen a UFO (as, of course, they actually have indeed done). But while Persinger has offered  an interesting theory matched by some experimental results, nothing bridges the gulf between people feeling odd and having a light ASC when subjected to EM radiation  and witnesses having full blown abductions, as we know they do.


(2) Or it may be that the natural phenomenon is something I  call a "time storm," literally causing a temporary break down in localized  time and space as a result of some as yet unknown scientific anomaly. The outcome  of the time storm is to disrupt the quantum reality basis of consciousness, unleashing  certain visionary (but not necessarily imaginary) experiences from the other side  of the rift. As such a quasi real experience occurs during the resulting altered  state, the time storm is viewed as a UFO and its consequence as an abduction.


(3) The other possibility is that a real contact is occurring  between some other intelligence (perhaps extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional) but  not in the traditionally assumed sense. No space ships are landing and no aliens  are getting out to kidnap humans (thus our dearth of physical evidence). Instead  contact occurs using some kind of energy probe that manifests as the UFO and to some  is merely seen as that, although its side effects can create physical evidence (such as car stops or burnt skin). With the abduction prone personality the beam switches  them into an ASC and induces a waking lucid dream that conveys a contact message.  Upon waking the witness recalls the light, recalls losing consciousness and subsequently  waking again and perhaps vague images of the dream like contact. These may recur  during subsequent flashbacks, dreams or even be stimulated by hypnosis. The result  will be a mixture of genuine recall of the vision and distorted imagery introduced  by our own conscious mind. But in essence the person will recall that an alien intelligence  probed them, exchanged data with them, and then left. This may appear in the memory  as if it were a medical probe, or an examination inside a craft, but most of this  imagery will be imaginative and added to the experience by our own subconscious through  its store of images about what aliens are supposed to be like. The fundamental truth about abductions would be that a scanning form of contact took place -- via a beam  and at a distance -- but never as a result of a literal alien kidnap.


All of this is speculation, an effort to try to make the contradictory  evidence of these cases fit together. But something is going on and its understanding  will, I believe, prove of great value to human knowledge. I just don't see evidence  that it is the literal example of what I call "spacenapping," that is landing  spaceships, exploring ETs and nasty anal probe bearing greys. But then again our  understanding of alien reality is bound to be restricted and maybe I am wrong. Even  so, as noted, aliens may still be involved in the abduction phenomenon at a more  subtle level by inducing waking lucid dreams in susceptible witnesses. I hope this  makes sense.


*Jenny Randles is the quintessential UFO expert. She  has seen UFOs 15 times, 13 of which have been positively identified to her satisfaction,  the other two being nothing more than odd lights, which nonetheless remain unexplained.  She has been active in many UFO organizations in the UK and is the British consultant  to the International UFO Reporter, published by the Center for UFO Studies  in the US. She has published a host of thoughtful books on UFOs and associated topics  over the years, the most recent of which are Men in Black; UFO Crash Landing:  Friend of Foe; UFO: Danger in the Air; and The Complete Guide to Aliens  and Abductions.

Extraordinary Claim? Move the Goal Posts!


The Anomalist

Extraordinary Claim? Move the Goal Posts!

A Commentary by Patrick Huyghe
Reprinted from The Anomalist 3

If you've heard it once, no doubt you've heard it a million times.  "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." That old saw has become  the skeptic's number one attack against claims that threaten to overturn their cherished applecarts. And it's a good one, for one simple reason: they're right.

But behind this squabbling over the would-be extraordinary, some  rather startling back-room maneuvering may take place. As the arguments fly over what exactly constitutes the necessary proof, there's often some hasty rewriting of the rules of the game. For the would-be extraordinary, for the unorthodox claim  on the verge of scientific success, the ground rules are gratefully changed. This  practice, often referred to as "Moving the Goal Posts," is an extraordinary  phenomenon in itself and deserves recognition.

The phrase evokes an image of the goal posts in, say the endzone  of a football game, that are slowly moved to the back of the endzone, or beyond,  as one team threatens to score. The other team resorts to cheating by changing the rules of the game in an all out effort to prevent a loss.

Well, it's not likely to happen in football, but here's the way  it happens in science. I'll illustrate this "moving the goal posts" phenomenon  with two examples, one from the field of geophysics, the other from linguistics,  but the same phenomenon can be found to occur in a host of less orthodox disciplines such as parapsychology, for example. I'll begin with the geophysics example because  I am intimately familiar with the details of the controversy in question. It just  so happens that I helped the scientist involved write a book on the subject.

The book, called The Big Splash (Birch Lane Press, 1990;  Avon, 1991), involves Louis A. Frank. Frank is a physicist at the University of Iowa  and a highly respected member of the space science community. In 1986 he found evidence  in satellite images that the Earth was being bombarded by about twenty house-sized  comets per minute. These ice comets are so small, he said, that they break up and  turn to water in the upper atmosphere. And over the age of the Earth, Frank reasoned,  these incoming small comets would be responsible for all the water in our oceans  and then some.

The astronomers' response to Frank's discovery was not unexpected.  "If these things exist," they said, "we would have seen them."  Of course, astronomers really had never considered that comets could be so small,  as they normally measure comets in kilometers. Nor had they ever conducted a search of near-Earth objects that might have revealed the existence of such small, dark incoming objects. But nevermind, astronomers had no interest in searching for these  objects because they knew the outcome in advance.

One physicist, however, decided to prove Frank wrong the old fashioned  way--by conducting a telescopic search. The physicist's name was Clayne Yeates. In the late 1980s he worked as the project manager of the Galileo mission for the Jet  Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. Yeates, who has since passed away, obtained  funding from JPL and rented the Spacewatch Telescope at Kitt Peak run by the University  of Arizona. A search conducted in January of 1988 produced some stunning results--actual  images of the small comets.

When the images were presented to scientists at a meeting of the  American Geophysical Union a few months later, however, many were unconvinced. They  thought the so-called small comet streaks in the images were merely noise--fluctuations  in the data due to chance. The standard of proof in astronomy is to have two images  of the same object. When Yeates wrote up a paper announcing the results of his search,  the editor of Geophysical Research Letters informed him that "for your  paper to be accepted for publication, the referees must be convinced that you have  seen the same object in two consecutive exposures."

As it turned out, Yeates had already conducted such a search and  had obtained just that--two consecutive images of the same object. In fact, he had  six such pairs of images. Yeates then provided the editor of Geophysical Research Letters with a pair of successive exposures that showed the same object. But when the referees of Yeates' paper saw the double images, they must have been taken  aback, for they decided to change the rules of astronomy just for him.

Despite having meet the editor's requirements of proof, Yeates'  paper was rejected. One of the referees said that three consecutive images of the  same object were need for him to believe the streaks were not noise. Yeates was angry  and rightfully so. It seems as if suddenly astronomers had decided to change the  standard rules of confirmation. Rather than having two images of the same object,  astronomers now randomly decided that three were necessary. But if Yeates  had then produced three, surely astronomers would have asked for four. And if he  had had four, they would have wanted five.

This was my first encounter with a blatant example of "moving  the goal posts." I've witnessed many other examples since then, most recently  in a bitter controversy taking place in linguistics--Can chimps really learn to use language?

A decade and a half ago, the claims of animal language researchers  were discredited as exaggerated self-delusions. The critics insisted that such claims were merely exercises in wishful thinking. You can train animals to do all kinds  of amazing things, they said, like teaching bears to ride motorcycles. They said  that the chimps had learned nothing more sophisticated than how to press the right  buttons or make the right utterances in order to get humans to cough up those much-loved  bananas and M&Ms. There is no evidence, the critics concluded before slamming  the door shut on the subject in the early '80s, that the chimp utterances even remotely  resembled the linguistic abilities of a young child.

But recent research by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and other scientists  at the Language Research Center at Georgia State University in Atlanta appears to refute that view. Her pigmy chimps, which some scientists believe are more intelligent  than the common chimpanzees studied in the earlier "flawed" language experiments,  appear to have learned to understand complex sentences and seem to use symbolic language  to communicate spontaneously. Her chimpanzees demonstrate the rudimentary comprehension  skills of two-and-a-half-year-old children.

The critics will have none of this, of course. And all the  claimants can do is shake their heads in frustration. Stuart Shanker, a philosopher  at York University in Toronto and a co-author with Savage-Rumbaugh on a new book, insists that linguists are applying a double standard to this new work. The critics  are dismissing skills like putting together and noun and a verb to form a two-word  sentence which they would consider nascent linguistic ability if seen in a young  child. "The linguists kept upping their demands and Sue kept meeting the demands,"  Shanker told George Johnson of the New York Times in a story that appeared  on June 6, 1995. "But the linguists keep moving the goal posts."

Ah, yes. Shanker is obviously quite familiar, not to mention frustrated,  by this "moving of the goal posts" business. Extraordinary proof often  seems to mean a change of the basic rules of the game, a change in the standards  of proof. While claimants consider this unfair, and I can easily see why they would  think so, such an action might be acceptable if at least the rules were changed in advance. But unfortunately, it often seems as if the rules are changed as the game is being played. All of which gives a truly extraordinary meaning to  the phrase "extraordinary proof."

Padre Pio: Wonderworker or Charlatan?

Padre Pio: Wonderworker or Charlatan?

Special Report - Volume 32.5, September / October 2008

Joe Nickell

 Padre Pio: Wonderworker or Charlatan?
Of the twentieth century’s two most famous stigmatics (those who experience the supposedly supernatural wounds of Jesus), both Therese Neumann and Padre Pio were suspected of fraud, but Pio went on to sainthood and was canonized in 2002. In April 2008 his body was exhumed and put on display in a church crypt in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, a move that both attracted throngs of the credulous and provoked outrage among some Pio devotees. It also renewed questions about the genuineness of the stigmata and other phenomena associated with Pio.

A Capuchin Friar

Born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887, in the town of Pietrelcina, Pio grew up surrounded by superstitious beliefs and practices. His mother took him soon after birth to a fortuneteller to have his horoscope cast and at the age of two to a witch who attempted to cure an intestinal disorder by holding him upside down and chanting spells. As a boy he was tormented by nighttime “monsters,” and he conversed with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his guardian angel. He also had other mystical experiences (Ruffin 1982, 21–23, 79) that today are associated with a fantasy-prone personality.1 He was “frequently ill and emotionally disturbed” and claimed he was often physically attacked by evil spirits (Wilson 1988, 88, 144).
In 1903, he entered The Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin—a conservative Catholic order that traces its origin to St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), the first stigmatic. The new initiate was called Fra (“Brother”) Pio (“Pious”), after the sixteenth-century pope, St. Pius V (Ruffin 1982, 35, 39). Pio continued to hear voices and experience visions, and in 1910 he began to experience the stigmata just after being ordained a priest.
As Padre Pio continued to exhibit the phenomenon, he began to attract a cult following. It was said he could look into people’s souls and, without them saying a word, know their sins. He could also allegedly experience “bilocation” (the ability to be in two places at the same time), emit an “odor of sanctity,” tell the future, and effect miraculous cures (Wilkinson 2008; Rogo 1982, 98–100). Village hucksters sold his credulous disciples alleged Pio relics in the form of swatches of cloth daubed with chicken blood (Ruffin 1982, 153).
The local clergy accused Padre Pio’s friary of putting him on display in order to make money. They expressed skepticism about his purported gifts and suggested the stigmata were faked.

The Phenomena

The claims of Padre Pio’s mystical abilities are unproven, consisting of anecdotal evidence—a major source being the aptly named Tales of Padre Pio (McCaffery 1978). Pio’s touted psychic abilities seem no better substantiated than the discredited claims of the typical fortuneteller or medium (e.g., Nickell 2001, 122–127, 197–199). Many of his “bilocations” are analogous to Elvis Presley sightings, while some are—at best—consistent with hallucinations (such as one reported during a migraine attack or others occurring when the experiencer was near sleep or in some other altered state [McCaffery 1978, 24–36]). The reputed “odor of sanctity,” said Pio’s accusers, “was the result of self-administered eau-de-cologue” (“Pio” 2008).
As to Pio’s miraculous healings, they— like other such claims (Nickell 2001, 202–205)—are not based on positive evidence of the miraculous. Instead, the occurrences are merely held to be “medically inexplicable,” so claimants are engaging in the logical fallacy of arguing from ignorance (drawing a conclusion based on a lack of knowledge). Faith-healing claims often have alternative explanations, including misdiagnosis, psychosomatic conditions, spontaneous remissions, prior medical treatment, and other effects, including the body’s own healing ability. Cases are complicated by poor investigation and even outright hoaxing. One man’s claim of instant healing of a leg wound by Padre Pio, for example, was bogus; his doctor attested it “had, in fact, been healed for six months or more” (Ruffin 1982, 159).
But it is Pio’s stigmata that have made him famous. Unfortunately, some examining physicians believed his lesions were superficial, but their inspections were made difficult by Pio’s acting as if the wounds were exceedingly painful. Also, they were supposedly covered by “thick crusts” of blood. One distinguished pathologist sent by the Holy See noted that beyond the scabs was an absence of “any sign of edema, of penetration, or of redness, even when examined with a good magnifying glass.” Another concluded that the side “wound” had not penetrated the skin at all (Ruffin 1982, 147–148). Some thought Pio inflicted the wounds with acid or kept them open by continually drenching them in iodine (Ruffin 1982, 149–150; Moore 2007; Wilkinson 2008).
Nevertheless, some of the faithful were so intent on defending Pio that they made incredible claims. One was the insistence that the hand lesions, which skeptics thought were superficial injuries, were through-and-through wounds—“so much so,” insisted Pio’s devoted family physician, that one could see light through them.” Of course, this is nonsense in view of authentic wounds in general and Pio’s thickly blood-crusted ones in particular (Ruffin 1982, 146–147).
There were other problems with the “wounds,” including their location. Only the gospel of John (19:34) mentions the lance wound in Jesus’ side, and John fails to specify which side. St. Francis’ was on the right, whereas Padre Pio’s was on the left. Also, witnesses described his side wound as in the shape of a cross; in other words, it had a stylized rather than realistic (lance-produced) form (Ruffin 1982, 145, 147).2 Moreover, his wounds were in the hands rather than the wrists (some anatomists argue that nailed hands could not support the body of a crucified person and would tear away). When asked about this, Pio replied casually, “Oh it would be too much to have them exactly as they were in the case of Christ” (Ruffin 1982, 145, 150). (One is reminded of Therese Neumann, whose “nail wounds” shifted from round to rectangular over time, presumably as she learned the true shape of Roman nails [Nickell 2001, 278].) Moreover, Padre Pio lacked wounds on the forehead (as from a crown of thorns [John 19:2]).
For years Pio wore fingerless gloves on his hands, perpetually concealing his wounds (Ruffin 1982, 148). His supporters regard this as an act of pious modesty. However, another interpretation is that the concealment was a shrewd strategy that eliminated the need for him to maintain his wounds. Before his death, frail, weary, with “rheumy eyes seemingly fixed on another world,” Padre Pio celebrated Mass. According to Ruffin (1982, 305), “For the first time in anyone’s memory, he did not attempt to hide his hands at any point in the service. To the amazement of everyone there, there was no trace of any wound.” At his death on September 23, 1968, his skin was unblemished.
So, were Padre Pio’s phenomena genuine? Many other stigmatics—like Magdalena de la Cruz in 1543—confessed to faking stigmata. Maria de la Visitacion, the “holy nun of Lisbon,” was caught painting fake wounds on her hands in 1587. Pope Pius IX himself privately branded as a fraud Palma Maria Matarelli (1825–1888), insisting that “she has befooled a whole crowd of pious and credulous souls.” Suspiciously, under surveillance, Therese Neumann (1898– 1962) produced actual blood flows only when the phenomenon was “hidden from observation.” And as recently as 1984, stigmatic Gigliola Giorgini was convicted of fraud by an Italian court (Wilson 1988, 26–27, 42, 53, 147).
Even a defender of Padre Pio’s stigmata, C. Bernard Ruffin (1982, 145), admits, “For every genuine stigmatic, whether holy or hysterical, saintly or satanic, there are at least two whose wounds are self-inflicted.” Catholic scholar Herbert Thurston (1952, 100) found no acceptable case after St. Francis of Assisi. Thurston believed the phenomenon was due to suggestion, but Padre Pio himself responded to such theorizers: “Go out to the fields and look very closely at a bull. Concentrate on him with all your might. Do this and see if horns grow on your head!” (qtd. in Ruffin 1982, 150). As for St. Francis, his extraordinary zeal to imitate Jesus may have led him to engage in a pious deception (Nickell 2001, 276–283).

Canonization

Not only was Padre Pio accused of inducing his stigmata with acid, he was also alleged to have misused funds and to have had sex with female parishioners—in the confessional. The founder of the Catholic university hospital in Rome branded Pio “an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people’s credulity” (“Pio” 2008).
The faithful were undeterred, however, and after Pio’s death there arose a popular movement to make him a saint. Pope John Paul II—whose papacy sped up the process of canonization and proclaimed more saints than any other in history (Grossman 2002)—heard the entreaties. Pio was beatified in 1999. On June 16, 2002, he was canonized as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, but not before at least two statues of him wept in anticipation. Unfortunately, the bloody tears on one turned out to have been faked (a drug addict used a syringe to apply trickles of his own blood), and a whitish film on one eye of the other was determined to have been insect secretion (“Crying” 2002).
Interestingly, neither of the two proclaimed miracles of Pio (one used for his beatification, the other for canonization) involved stigmata. Instead, they were healings, assumed miraculous because they were determined to be medically inexplicable. In short, the Church never affirmed Pio’s stigmata as miraculous.
Of course, not everyone was happy with the canonization of Pio. Historian Sergio Luzzatto wrote a critical biography of Pio called The Other Christ. Luzzatto cited the testimony of a pharmacist recorded in a document in the Vatican’s archive. Maria De Viot wrote: “I was an admirer of Padre Pio and I met him for the first time on 31 July 1919.” She revealed, “Padre Pio called me to him in complete secrecy and telling me not to tell his fellow brothers, he gave me personally an empty bottle, and asked if I would act as a chauffeur to transport it back from Foggia to San Giovanni Rotondo with four grams of pure carbolic acid” (Moore 2007). But if the acid was for disinfecting syringes, as Pio had alleged to the pharmacist, why the secrecy? And why did Pio need non-diluted acid?
Investigation shows the timing of this reported incident is significant. The previous September, Pio and some of the other friars at San Giovanni Rotondo were administering injections to boys who were ill with influenza. Alcohol not being available, an exhausted doctor left carbolic acid to be used for sterilizing needles and injection sites, while neglecteing to tell the friars it had to be diluted. As a result, Pio and another friar were left with “angry red spots” on their hands. When Pio was subsequently alleged to have exhibited stigmata, the other friar at first thought the wounds were from the carbolic acid. Although Pio allegedly exhibited stigmata on his hands as early as 1910, the “permanent” stigmata appeared, apparently, not long after the carbolic-acid misuse (Ruffin 1982, 69–71, 138–143).
Sergio Luzzatto drew anger for publicizing the pharmacist’s testimony. The Catholic Anti-Defamation League accused the historian of “spreading anti-Catholic libels,” and the League’s president sniffed, “We would like to remind Mr. Luzzatto that according to Catholic doctrine, canonisation carries with it papal infallibility” (Moore 2007).

Exhumation

Forty years after the death of Padre Pio in 1968, his remains were exhumed from their crypt beneath a church in San Giovanni Rotondo. The intention of church officials was to renew reverence and so boost a flagging economy. Padre Pio, explained the Los Angeles Times, is “big business” (Wilkinson 2008).
No doubt many anticipated that the saint’s body would be found incorrupt. The superstitious believe that the absence of decay in a corpse is miraculous and a sign of sanctity (Cruz 1977). In fact, under favorable conditions even an unembalmed body can become mummified. Dessication may result from interment in a dry tomb or catycomb. Conversely, perpetually wet conditions may cause the body’s fat to form a soaplike substance known as “grave wax”; subsequently, the body may take on the leathery effect of mummification (Nickell 2001, 49).
Alas, Pio’s body, despite embalment (by injections of formalin), was only in “fair condition.” So that it could be displayed, a London wax museum was commissioned to fashion a lifelike silicon mask of Pio, complete with his full beard and bushy eyebrows. The “cosmetically enhanced corpse” went on display April 24, 2008, in a glass-and-marble coffin (where it is to repose until the end of September 2009) “amid weeping devotees and eager souvenir-hawkers” (Wilkinson 2008; “Pio” 2008). For those who wonder: no, there is no visible trace of stigmata.

The Real Secrets of Fatima

The Real Secrets of Fatima

Investigative Files

Joe Nickell

Volume 33.6, November / December 2009


Among the intriguing mysteries of modern Catholicism are the “miracles” and “secrets” supposedly imparted by the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 (Oliveira 1999). In addition to an allegedly miraculous “dance of the sun,” there were three major secrets, two of which were revealed at the time. The third and final one—kept in an envelope by the Vatican—was not made public until mid-2000, provoking much interest and controversy. I was involved in the media debate over the release of the third secret, appearing on a documentary for the History Channel series History’s Mysteries titled “Fatima: Secrets Unveiled” (which aired January 4, 2001) as well as being interviewed for newspaper articles (e.g., Valpy 2000; Barss 2000). Here is my investigative take on the entire Fatima phenomenon.

The Lady Appears

The reported visits of the Virgin Mary to Fatima occurred in a time of trouble. After the fall of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910, there came a wave of anti-clerical sentiment and persecution, followed by various revolutionary conflicts and Portugal’s involvement in World War I.
On May 13, 1917, three shepherd children were tending their flock about two miles west of Fatima in a town near Ourém. The children were Lucia Santos, age ten, and her two cousins, nine-year-old Francisco Marto and his seven-year-old sister, Jacinta. A sudden flash of lightning sent the children fleeing down a slope, whereupon the two girls beheld the dazzling apparition of a beautiful lady, radiant in white light, standing among the holly-like leaves of a small holm oak.
Lucia was the only one who talked with the figure, who promised to identify herself at the end of a six-month period, during which time the children were to return to the site on the thirteenth day of each month. The woman said that all three of them would go to heaven but that Francisco, who could not see her, would have to recite many rosaries. When she instructed Lucia to have Francisco say the rosary, the boy became able to see the apparition, but he was still unable to hear her speak. After she instructed the children to pray for an end to the war, the lady vanished into the sky.
Even though the children had agreed that they should keep the event secret, once home, little Jacinta blurted out to her parents that she had shared in a vision of the Virgin Mary. News quickly spread throughout the town, and when the children revisited the site on June 13, they were accompanied by some fifty devout villagers. Kneeling in prayer at the oak, the children saw the woman glide down from heaven and take a position amid the oak’s foliage (Arvey 1990, 66; Rogo 1982, 221—223).
Thus began a pattern that was repeated each month during the specified period, although the children were absent on August 13 (having been detained by secular authorities who disbelieved their tale and held them briefly for questioning in the public jail at Ourém). On July 13, the children claimed to have received a special revelation that the lady forbade them to disclose. The apparition remained invisible to the onlookers, but some reported seeing a little cloud rise from (or from behind) the tree, together with a movement of the tree’s branches “as if in going away the Lady’s dress had trailed over them” (Dacruz n.d.).
When the period ended on a stormy October 13, as many as seventy thousand people were gathered at the site anticipating the Virgin’s final visit, many anticipating a great miracle. Again, the figure appeared only to the children. Identifying herself as “the Lady of the Rosary,” she urged people to repent and to build a chapel at the site. After predicting an end to the war and giving the children certain undisclosed visions, the lady lifted her hands to the sky. Thereupon Lucia exclaimed, “The sun!” As everyone gazed upward to see that a silvery disc had emerged from behind the clouds, they experienced what is known in the terminology of Marian apparitions as a “sun miracle” (Arvey 1990, 69—71).

Miracle of the Sun

This Fatima “miracle” has been described in many very different ways. Some claimed that the sun spun pinwheel-like with colored streamers, while others maintained that it danced. One reported, “I saw clearly and distinctly a globe of light advancing from east to west, gliding slowly and majestically through the air.” To some, the sun seemed to be falling toward the spectators. Still others, before the “dance of the sun” occurred, saw white petals shower down and disintegrate before reaching the earth (Larue 1990, 195—196; Arvey 1990, 70—71; Rogo 1982, 227, 230—232).
Precisely what happened at Fatima has been the subject of much controversy. Church authorities made inquiries, collected eyewitness testimony, and declared the events worthy of belief as a miracle (Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 90). However, people elsewhere in the world, viewing the very same sun, did not see the alleged gyrations; neither did astronomical observatories detect the sun deviating from the norm (which would have had a devastating effect on Earth!). Therefore, more tenable explanations for the reports include mass hysteria and local meteorological phenomena such as a sundog (a parhelion or “mock sun”).
On the other hand, several eyewitnesses of the October 13, 1917, gathering at Fatima specifically stated they were looking “fixedly at the sun” or “tried to look straight at it” or otherwise made clear they were gazing directly at the actual sun (qtd. in Rogo 1982, 230, 231). If this is so, the “dancing sun” and other solar phenomena may have been due to optical effects resulting from temporary retinal distortion caused by staring at such an intense light or to the effect of darting the eyes to and fro to avoid fixed gazing (thus combining image, afterimage, and movement).
Most likely, there was a combination of factors, including optical effects and meteorological phenomena, such as the sun being seen through thin clouds, causing it to appear as a silver disc. Other possibilities include an alteration in the density of the passing clouds, causing the sun’s image to alternately brighten and dim and so seem to advance and recede, and dust or moisture droplets in the atmosphere refracting the sunlight and thus imparting a variety of colors. The effects of suggestion were also likely involved, since devout spectators had come to the site fully expecting some miraculous event, had their gaze dramatically directed at the sun by the charismatic Lucia, and excitedly discussed and compared their perceptions in a way almost certain to foster psychological contagion (Nickell 1993, 176—181).
Not surprisingly, perhaps, sun miracles have been reported at other Marian sites—at Lubbock, Texas, in 1989; Mother Cabrini Shrine near Denver, Colorado, in 1992; Conyers, Georgia, in the early to mid-1990s; and elsewhere, including Thiruvananthapuram, India, in 2008. Tragically, at the Colorado and India sites, many people suffered eye damage (solar retinopathy)—in some instances, possibly permanent damage (Nickell 1993, 196—200; Sebastian 2008).
At the Conyers site, the Georgia Skeptics group set up a telescope outfitted with a vision-protecting Mylar solar filter, and on one occasion I participated in the experiment. Becky Long, president of the organization, stated that more than two hundred people had viewed the sun through one of the solar filters and not a single person saw anything unusual (Long 1992, 3; see figure 1).

The Secrets

Those who believe in the Fatima “miracle” also cite certain predictions the apparition allegedly made to Lucia, one being that Jacinta and Francisco would soon die. Both did soon succumb to influenza: Francisco in 1919 and Jacinta the following year. However, Zimdars-Swartz observes, “much of what devotees today accept as the content of the apparition comes from four memoirs written by Lucia in the convent [where she later resided] between 1935 and 1941, many years after the series of experiences that constitute the apparition event” (Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 68). Indeed, Lucia recorded her first “prediction” of the children’s deaths in 1927—several years after the fact!
As to the other predictions, they were supposedly part of three secrets that had been delivered to Lucia by the apparition on July 13, 1917 (Gruner 1997, 290—291). Lucia’s Third Memoir gave the first secret as a vision of hell. The second was a statement that World War I would end, “but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI” (who was pope from 1922 to 1939). However, since the Third Memoir was penned in August 1941, the so-called predictions were actually written after the fact (Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 198—199).
Before considering the important third secret of Fatima, and to fully comprehend the entire Fatima experience, we must look more closely at its central figure—not the Virgin Mary but Lucia de Jesus Santos. Born on March 22, 1907, to Antonio and Maria Rosa Santos, Lucia was the youngest of seven children. Five years younger than her next-oldest sibling, Lucia was a petted and spoiled child. Her sisters fostered in her a desire to be the center of attention by teaching her to dance and sing. At festivals, Lucia would stand on a crate to entertain an adoring crowd. Among her other talents was a gift for telling stories—fairy tales, biblical narratives, and saints’ legends—which made her popular with village children, as well as an ability to persuade others to do her bidding.
Two years before the famous series of apparitions occurred at Fatima, eight-year-old Lucia and three girlfriends claimed to have seen apparitions of a snow-white figure on three occasions. Lucia’s mother called the experiences “childish nonsense.” The following year, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta were thrice visited by an “angel.”
Lucia’s background is revealing. The seeds of her later visionary encounters were clearly contained in her childhood experiences and in her obviously fantasy-prone personality.1 Her charismatic ability to influence others drew little Francisco and Jacinta into the Fatima fantasy. As Zimdars-Swartz says of Lucia:
It is clear that she played the leading role in the scenario of the apparition itself. All accounts agree that she was the only one of the three seers to interact with both her vision and with the crowd, carrying on conversations with both while her two cousins stood by silently. She has said, moreover, and probably not incorrectly, that Francisco and Jacinta had been accustomed to follow her directives before the apparition began, that they turned to her for guidance afterwards, and that it was she who convinced them that they had to be very careful in their experiences. (Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 68)
Further evidence that Lucia orchestrated the fantasy and manipulated the other children is provided by certain incidents. For example, when Jacinta first told the story, she stated that the Virgin had said many things that she was unable to recall but “which Lucia knows.” Lucia’s own mother was convinced that her precocious daughter was, in her words, “nothing but a fake who is leading half the world astray” (qtd. in Zimdars-Swartz 1991, 71, 86).

Third Secret Revealed

But there was a third secret of Fatima, possessed by the Vatican since 1957 and the subject of endless interest and speculation (Gruner 1997, 291). Certain Catholic notables have claimed to have the third secret, but their credibility is at issue because they seem to describe documents that were not first hand in their accounts. Nevertheless, they have hinted that the text predicted another world war and a great disaster of some kind (see Kramer 2006).
In mid-2000, the Catholic Church revealed the third secret that was supposedly imparted to Lucia in 1917, which she set down as text in a 1944 letter. It was forwarded in 1957 to the Secret Archives of the Vatican’s Holy Office where it since reposed.
On Monday, June 26, 2000, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—then prefect of church doctrine, now Pope Benedict XVI—spoke in a nationally televised news conference at the Vatican. Scrawled with a thick-nibbed pen in Portuguese—in wording Ratzinger characterized as “symbolic and not easy to decipher” (Valpy 2000)—Lucia had described seeing (at no specific time in the future) “an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’”
The visionary continued describing the appearance of a “bishop dressed in white,” who was “afflicted with pain and sorrow” as he made his way through a ruined city. Moreover, “he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another, the other bishops, priests, men and women Religious.”
Now, many of the faithful have seen the text as having forecast the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, who was shot and wounded by a Turk in 1981 (Fleishman 2000). However, nearly every aspect of the vision—if indeed it was supposed to predict the assassination attempt on John Paul—was in error. It described not a pope but a bishop, who was not killed, who was not shot by soldiers, certainly not by arrows (an implausibility attributable to a child’s imagination); neither were all of the other bishops and priests killed.
The vision only seems accurate if one engages in “retrofitting”—after-the-fact matching that fits statements to facts once they are known. This is the same process used to claim that the prognostications of Nostradamus (1503—1566), the French seer, accurately described future events (see Nickell 1989, 45—47). In the case of the “third secret,” the retrofitting involves counting the plausibly correct statements (e.g., the pope is “Bishop of Rome,” was dressed in white, and was struck by a would-be assassin’s bullet), while ignoring—or rationalizing—the many erroneous facts. Nevertheless, the Vatican statement claimed all three secrets represented authentic prophecy: “No one could have imagined all this” (qtd. in Valpy 2000).
In any event, many conspiracy-minded Catholics refuse to believe that the third secret has been fully revealed. They opine it may be “an indictment of most of the changes in the Church since Vatican II” (held 1962—1965) and would thus cause embarrassment to the current defenders of that council (Gruner 2006, 42). Meanwhile, the visionary who started it all, Lucia Santos—who became a Carmelite nun, Sister Lúcia of Jesus, and died on February 13, 2005—has been placed on the fast track to sainthood (“Lúcia” 2008). Certainly, the story will continue.

Soviet Cosmonaut Shadowed By Structured UFO

Cosmonaut Shadowed By Structured UFO

'Sightings' TV Program
 
 
Summary: In April of 1979, Cosmonaut Victor Afanasyev lifted off from Star City to dock with the Soviet Solyut 6 space station. But while en route, something strange happened. Cosmonaut Afanasyev saw an unidentified object turn toward his craft and begin tailing it through space.

In April of 1979, Cosmonaut Victor Afanasyev lifted off from Star City to dock with the Soviet Solyut 6 space station. But while en route, something strange happened. Cosmonaut Afanasyev saw an unidentified object turn toward his craft and begin tailing it through space.

"It followed us during half of our orbit. We observed it on the light side, and when we entered the shadow side, it disappeared completely. It was an engineering structure, made from some type of metal, approximately 40 meters long with inner hulls. The object was narrow here and wider here, and inside there were openings. Some places had projections like small wings. The object stayed very close to us. We photographed it, and our photos showed it to be 23 to 28 meters away."

In addition to photographing the UFO, Afanasyev continually reported back to Mission Control about the craft's size, its shape and position. When the cosmonaut returned to earth he was debriefed and told never to reveal what he knew, and had his cameras and film confiscated.

Those photos and his voice transmissions from space have never been released.

It is only now, with the collapse of the Soviet Union that Afanasyev feels that he can safely tell his story.

"It is still classified as a UFO because we have yet to identify the object."
 

Russian Cosmonauts and Generals confirm: UFOs are real

Russian Cosmonauts and Generals confirm: UFOs are real

Michael Hesemann
 
 
Summary: During his lecture at the International UFO Congress in Laughlin/NV on March 6, 2002, Michael Hesemann presented filmed interviews with four Soviet Cosmonauts and four high-ranking Soviet Generals. After he received numerous request for transcripts, here is the translation of their statements.

Michael Hesemann
author's bio

During his lecture at the International UFO Congress in Laughlin/NV on March 6, 2002, Michael Hesemann presented filmed interviews with four Soviet Cosmonauts and four high-ranking Soviet Generals. After he received numerous request for transcripts, here is the translation of their statements:
(Translation by Valery Uvarov, St. Petersburg)

COSMONAUT MAJOR GENERAL VLADIMIR KOVALYONOK:
Saljut VI Mission 1981

Many cosmonauts have seen phenomena which are far beyond the experiences of earthmen. For ten years I never spoke on such things. The encounter you asked me about happened on May 5, 1981, at about 6 PM, during the Saljut Mission. At that time we were over the area of South Africa, moving towards the area of the Indian ocean. I just made some gymnastic exercises, when I saw in front of me, through a porthole, an object which I could not explain. It is impossible to determine distances in Space. A small object can appear large and far away and the other way around. Sometimes a cloud of dust appears like a large object. Anyway, I saw this object and then something happened I could not explain, something impossible according to the laws of Physics. The object had this shape, elliptical, and flew with us. From a frontal view it looked like it would rotate in flight direction.

It only flew straight, but then a kind of explosion happened, very beautiful to watch, of golden light. This was the first part. Then, one or two seconds later, a second explosion followed somewhere else and two spheres appeared, golden and very beautiful.

After this explosion I just saw white smoke, then a cloud-like sphere. Before we entered the darkness, we flew through the terminator, the twilight-zone between day and night. We flew eastwards, and when we entered the darkness of the Earth shadow, I could not see them any longer. The two spheres never returned.

COSMONAUT MUSA MANAROV, MIR:
MIR mission 1991

It happened during a visit mission, when all our attention was focused on the slowly approaching space capsule. I was close to the great porthole, from where I could see our approaching visitors. I watched everything very carefully… When the capsule came closer, I filmed it with a professional Betacam camera. Suddenly I noted something below the spaceship, which first looked like a kind of antenna. Only when I looked closer and analyzed the situation, I realized that there was no antenna at all. But first I thought it was a part of the construction. But then this element started to move. It moved away from the ship. So I grabbed the radio and told them: “Hey, Boys, you are losing something.”

This, of course, alarmed them. With all my experience especially with docking maneuvers in space I can tell you that especially in this phase simply nothing can break off at all. If something would have been loose, it would have been torn off long before, during the launch, the maneuvers, the turn, all these much more energetic flight phases. Now we were just gliding slowly towards each other, without any pressure on the capsule.

But then this “something” started to remove downwards. When it flew away, it attracted all our attention. It looked like if it was rotating. It was difficult to estimate its dimensions. If it was close or far away I could not say, it was in free sight, and in space it is difficult to estimate any size and distance. I can only say for sure that it was not very close, since I set the camera for infinity. If it would have been just a screw or something close to us, it would have been out of focus. The object was quite far away. In any case at least 300 feet, since this was the distance of the space capsule, and I had the impression that it was beyond it.

It is possible that it was a kind of UFO. We can't say with any certainty what it was. It was definitely not a bigger piece of space junk, no rocket part or so, since this would have been located… the space surveillance, ours and the American, locate all bigger objects in space. They are followed, for every minute we know their position and flight direction. If such an object would have come so close to the MIR, they would have located it and informed us.

I don't think it was a piece of space junk or debris. There is a lot of that in the Earth orbit - Satellite parts, rocket parts, just everything- but our space surveillance locates them, and according to them there was nothing…

COSMONAUT GENNADIJ STREKHALOV, MIR
MIR mission 1990

On the last two flights I saw something. During the flight of 1990, I called Gennadij Manakov, our commander: “Come to the porthole”. Unfortunately, but this is typical, we did not manage to put a film in the camera quickly enough to film it. We looked on Newfoundland. The atmosphere was completely clear. And suddenly a kind of sphere appeared. I want to compare it with a Christmas tree decoration, beautiful, shiny, glittering. I saw it for ten seconds. The sphere appeared in the same way as it disappeared again. What it was, what size it had, I don't know. There was nothing I could compare it with. I was like struck by lightning by this phenomenon. It was a perfect sphere, glittering like a Christmas tree decoration. I reported to the Mission Control Center, but I did not say that I have seen a UFO. I said I saw a kind of unusual phenomenon. I had to be careful with the choice of my words. I don't want someone to speculate too much or quote me wrong.

COSMONAUT GENERAL PAVEL ROMANOWICH POPOVICH
Soviet Air Force

I had only one personal encounter with something Unknown, something we could not explain. It was in 1978, when we flew from Washington to Moscow. We flew in an altitude of 30.600 feet. And suddenly, when I looked through the windshield I noticed something flying about 4500 feet above us on a parallel course - a glowing white equilateral triangle, resembling a sail. Since our speed was 600 mph, the triangle must have had a speed of at least 900 mph, since it overtook us. I called the attention of all passengers and crew-members on it. We tried to find out what it was, but all attempts to identify it as something known ultimately failed. This object looked like a UFO and it remained unidentified. It did not look like an airplane, since it was a perfect triangle. No airplane at that time had such a shape.

COL. GENERAL GENNADIJ RESHETNIKOV
Head of the General Zhukov High Command Academy of Air Defense, Tver;
Former High Commander of Air Defense of the Far East

Yes, there were particularly mysterious occurrences during military practice. At times targets appeared, on which fighters in the air or radars set for anti-aircraft missiles trained themselves, but it was difficult to determine what they were exactly. There were situations when a target answered to the signal "I'm your plane" (we have such a system of inquiry.) Or the other way around, it wouldn't answer at all. It was considered incomprehensible. Moreover, I'm aware of situations when, as planes which had been sent into the air were opening their side sites, they discovered a target. But when it reached the determined distance when the automatic weapons system which dispatched missiles should have operated, suddenly the system broke down. Everything disappeared, even the target. Or maybe the plane warped through space to another position. They conducted another attack - again the same result. There were such interesting and mysterious occurrences.

Now, when I find myself in the Army Institute of Higher Learning, I know that there were attempts at similar research. There were several definite scientifically- researched studies on ufological topics. But they didn't find a wide distribution for them. Judging, in essence, by the situation of things, I mean that they couldn't find any practical applications for the incorporation of the results of the scientifically-researched developments. In this way, the problem of UFOs in the terminological sense, of how it figures into ufology, isn't followed in the affairs of the military right now. And it wasn't followed earlier. I want to emphasize, that if an unidentified target reveals itself in space, then it's displayed on our radars. Sometimes it happens that it's seen visibly. Sometimes signals are simply received from citizen eye-witnesses. Such information was also received from border posts after visual sightings, and from other sources, and we never throw it out. Verifications are absolutely conducted. But I'm not able to say that this work is taken with a scientific approach. It's conducted within the framework of the administrative attitude towards this problem. In my opinion that's how things stand in the different branches of the Armed Forces.

…We try to take into account the problem of UFOs. Quite a bit of interesting material has appeared, and it's perfectly obvious it needs to be studied in earnest, and that it's necessary to address this question on a governmental level.

Right now you are more and more inclined to believe that UFOs exist. But what stands behind this? The first you think of are extraterrestrial visitors…

A bit earlier, at the end of the 1970's and the start of the 1980's, I flew to the Arctic Circle, to the place where eye-witnesses had seen some kind of cigar-shaped apparatus with portholes. This was how the press in this area was describing it. It happened in the region of Norilsk. The object was seen several times. Traces were discovered but no one conducted any kind of serious research there. When it became known to me, I flew there in a helicopter in order to examine the place, we even traveled out to the same place one more time, but we didn't succeed in noticing anything special.

Concerning the ascent of airplanes, in particular, when we were in the framework of the Soviet Union it's necessary to say, that battle duties were kept up rigidly, and we sent up planes without all kinds of restrictions. Immediately upon my order, planes went up many, many times. For example, in those situations which I just recounted during my service. Now we send up planes very deliberately on account of economic conditions. But I personally for many times have ordered aircraft to determine if something is a UFO or not - they were unidentified targets for us. Yes, there have been several cases in which they turned out to be mysterious, unknown targets on which the different detecting systems reacted, including our land-, sea- and airspace surveillance. Sometimes our weapon systems were activated because of them.

MAJOR GENERAL VASILY ALEXEYEV
Russian Air Force Space Communications Center Moscow

If we are speaking about my military capacity, it was in the 1980s when I happened to be serving not in a regular unit, but in the central staff. Work in the central staff entails close links with the units in the field and a large amount of travelling. There were many reports from unit level regarding a large number of observations of unexplained phenomena. You should bear in mind that at that time much was simply denied. The subject was to a large extent a closed one. On the ground, however, people wanted to find out what was what, to separate truth from fiction. In that period a lot of things were presented in such a way that you lost the desire to believe. Accordingly an attitude to the subject became established, where not only was there no desire to believe, it was even undesirable to believe. Nevertheless the information coming in from the bases was of interest if only because it was not merely talk and rumours; there were eye-witnesses to phenomena and that was reflected in specific documents and the reports of officials. At times this information was of such a fascinating nature that it was impossible not to believe it. Later the question no longer seemed so fantastic and began to be examined at the level not only of the Defense Ministry, but of other government departments as well. This interest specifically expressed itself in certain experts being sent to investigate, especially to those places where UFOs, let's call them that, appeared quite frequently. I know a whole number of military bases in that category. As a rule they are objects of strategic significance, rocket complexes, scientific test establishments, in other words the places where there is a high concentration of advanced science and, to some degree, danger. Because every nuclear rocket, every new Air force installation represents a breakthrough both in science and in military terms; it is first and foremost a peak, the summit of human achievement. And that is where UFOs appeared fairly often. Moreover, individual officers and commanders on the spot who knew about the phenomenon and had no official instructions on the matter, acted on their own initiative to investigate UFOs, recording data, and so on. I know that in some places they even learned to create a situation which would deliberately provoke the appearance of a UFO. A UFO would appear where there was increased military activity connected, say, with the transportation of "special" loads. It was enough artificially stimulate or schedule such a move for a UFO to appear. In other words, some kind of conditional relationship emerged. And they detected it. We're an intelligent nation, nothing escapes us. I know that at certain testing ranges - I won't name them, although it's no longer a secret - they even learnt to make contact of a kind. What did that consists of? First the UFO appeared; in most instances it was a sphere, but there were other kinds. Contact was achieved with the help of physical indications of behavior - pointing your arms in various directions, say, and the sphere became flattened in the same direction. If you raised your arms three times, the UFO flattened out in a vertical direction three times as well. In the early 1980s, on the instructions of the then Soviet leadership, experiments using technical devices (theodolites, radar stations, and others) were carried out as a result of which the unidentified objects were firmly recorded as instrumental data.

VU: Can you say on what level those researches took place? While studying the material from those observations and the contents of certain documents I formed the impression that the prime reason for circulars and orders on this matter in the armed forces was that they most likely considered UFOs a new sort of weapon belonging to some hostile country. Isn't that why orders were issued on the rigorous investigation and examination of the appearance and behavior of UFOs by all available ways and means? What was the nature of the recording, on instruments and in written documents, of the time of appearance, trajectory and other characteristics?

VA: I think that on the whole there were two reasons. First, a great deal of information of various kinds was coming in from all over. I know of a case when workers from one of the research establishments outside Moscow flew to Novosibirsk, I think it was, to investigate an air crash. When they came back they wrote a report that they had had an encounter with a UFO that accompanied their plane in the air. Being sensible people and inclined to scientific analysis, they managed to share out their roles so that during the observation some watched and dictated, others sketched, a third group kept track of time. In that way the observation acquired a certain scientific grounding. It wasn't just a sighting, but a scientific team at work, carrying out a sort of real-time experiment. Reports of UFO sightings came in regularly. And evidently somewhere nearer the core of our leadership in the sphere of the Defense Ministry, the Academy of Sciences and so on, a lot of this kind of information began to build up. And not only from ordinary laymen, but from scientists and professionals as well. Military men in general are not inclined to fantasize. They only report what they see, what actually occurs. They are people you can believe. You should not forget that the arms race was still going on at this time, a struggle for military and other priorities. New discoveries in science and technology were being made all the time. The UFOs were something new and not understood. And there really was an idea that they might be some means of gathering intelligence.