Still Here After the MS UFO CON

…despite the fact that I brought my towel and electronic thumb to the Mississippi UFO Conference 2011, which I was late for. Maybe that’s it.

I was a little disappointed that it was not like a Comic-Con with vendors and tables and what-have you, but rather more of a lecture setup.

Regardless, I went. Oh the things I do for my readers. In this case, I sat through four hours of hand-waving and obfuscation.

First on my menu, having missed a “Roswell” morning, I get to hear about “Telepathic Lights,” from the ever-so-trustworthy Linda Moulton Howe, of “Earthfiles” and Coast to Coast fame.

“Telepathic lights?” Well, a more mundane reference might be the Rendlesham Forest Incident, which took place at the Bentwaters Air Force Base.

Question mark indeed

Even the powerpoint presentation can't believe this is true.

The conference organizers referred to Rendlesham as “Englands’ Roswell,” as it is supposedly one of the best documented, most compelling UFO sightings in history.

I wish this were not the case. You see, skeptics, I have a deep longing. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe in aliens. That they’re visiting Earth, that someday I might look up in the sky and find out that we’re not alone.

However, until I get some evidence, some good solid proof, I don’t believe, no matter how much I want to. It was in this spirit that I went to the UFO Conference.

I was hopeful, and excited – some of the actual witnesses to the event were on hand Saturday to explain what they had seen, offer photographs, show some intriguing evidence, and give a coherent narrative.

Oh, wait, they didn’t do that AT ALL. Unfortunately, the quality of our “star” presentations was little better than the handfuls of “one time I saw something, I don’t know what it was, I swear it was aliens” stories that I heard from many of the conference attendees.

Of course, they had no photographs. Which is odd ,because this was taking place at a facility believed to house nuclear weapons. A facility with one of the largest air wings in the world at the time. Hundreds of soldiers were on base, on watch, in towers and on patrols. There is a farmhouse nearby.

None of these people got a picture of these lights, supposedly in the air for hours.

Instead, we got this:

yes really, this

Mrs. Rendleshams' 3rd Period Art Class provided vital clues.

That’s about as good as it got, I’m afraid. Mrs. Howe showed a lot of CGI mockups, pictures of military staff (taken by the soldiers themselves, who apparently DID have cameras), and ran down the “evidence,” most of which amounted to some statements taken after the fact, fished through to the extreme.

So, what happened? To wit, in an extremely condensed form: Two air force security officers, James Penniston and John Burroughs, saw odd lights in the Rendlesham Forest and went to investigate. Penniston claims to have touched a triangular metallic craft after examining it for twenty minutes.

Burroughs claims he saw nothing but lights. They don’t agree on the time the event took. You can get a really good run-down of the claims from the Fortean Times UK website.

Unfortunately, the account there is as garbled as the account the two presented at the event. Incredibly, this was taken by some of the conference goers as proof that something alien had, in fact, happened – what else could cause two men to give different accounts of the same event? Obviously, it was aliens!

Well, surely such a claim must have been made with more than just a couple of witnesses – otherwise it’s just as good as, well, most UFO claims.

Ah, there were radiation readings! That could certainly be something. Radiation by itself might not tie this package up, but as corroborative evidence it could be interesting.

Alas, the radiation readings (trumpeted, of course, as air-tight evidence) gathered by Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt, were taken using a radiation meter designed to detect large, dangerous amounts of radiation, rather than amounts only slightly higher than background noise, which is what Halt discovered.

So surely the tales the men told themselves is worth something, right?

Such an extraordinary claim requires more than just “I told you!” But, what do they say?

After the event itself – not much.

But when hypnotized fifteen years later, well they remember a few things.

They don’t remember the same thing. Two men saw the same event, together, and they only remember it during hypnosis, which is a great way to be led through the rose garden.

Indeed, when they’re under hypnosis their statements sound like every other of UFO encounter.

Penniston remembers the craft. Burroughs remembers Howe’s “telepathic lights.”

Interestingly enough, Penniston touches the UFO (he claims he scribbled down the markings he saw on the craft) where he sees some strange symbols, and then – it beams binary code into his head.

Or, sort of. He remembers these ones and zeros only a few days later. He writes them down, to “fix his headache,” he claims.

Then he sits on them for more than a decade before giving these pages to Linda Moulton Howe. She has them decoded, and it turns out they’re… ASCII?

Aliens use telepathic ASCII code?

What message could it possibly tell us?

Not a damn thing, it turns out. The ASCII codes aren’t found if you check from beginning to end of the message – you’ve got to start not quite at the beginning, skip a few lines here and there, and still accept some garbled messages.

Oh, and you need to switch back and forth between 7 and 8 bit ASCII.

Seven bit ASCII was the type used in 1980, the 8 bit standard was adopted in 1986. Why would these aliens use ASCII from the future?

Because, according to Howe, Penniston, and (maybe?) Burroughs – they’re from forty thousand years in the future.

Which is only because Penniston mentioned this once under hypnosis. Or, rather, his hypnotist did. The hypnotist recommended by Howe, who has as her central hypothesis the idea that what we see as aliens are in fact time-travelers from 40 thousand years in the future.

If you’d like to see some serious cherry-picking as-we-go you can visit the Earthfiles website and get… really disappointed in the methodology of the people who believe themselves to be working on the greatest discovery of human history – contact with alien life, or, in their case – time travelers made of energy from the year 40 thousand who, for some reason, need chromosomes from the year 1980.

Although, that page is worth it simply because you get to see the process. A supremely easy task – translating a bunch of zeroes and ones into something else – becomes the extraordinary hunting and pecking of data-fishing, finding fake signals in something that is obviously nothing but noise.

So after you go through all the hand-waving justifications for doing the job badly, after you shift frames and fish for data in this noise, what do these “intrepid” researches find?

Here: Exploration og humanity (the next sequence is either 333 or escape key x3) 8100 520942532 N 13131269 W CONTINUOUS CONTINUOUS FOR PLANETARY ADVANC FNURTH COODINATE CONTINUOTUQS CEPR BEFORE BEFORE

NOTE: Spellings are as transcribed on the Earthfiles site. Note that time-traveling aliens from the year 42 thousand write a “g” instead of “f,” have crappy spelling, add a lot of nonsense words, and the “code” doesn’t even work because they’re leaving out chunks that don’t make letters – shifting the frame to turn random into a mutation of letters that makes a sort of sense.

This is only the first six pages. Penniston wrote many more, but, of course, can’t get to it now, doesn’t want to just release it (because the internet would tear it apart) and… and.. and…

Hand-waving.

I’ve never seen people reach so earnestly for the truth and then, in an instant, accept the answer they wanted to hear in the first place, without so much as a “Hm I wonder?”

Hell, I wondered if there was anything to the claim – until I saw what paltry offering was being made. The crowd mocked the skeptics – claimed we were intentionally dismissing them.

We are, I admit. I intentionally wrote this with the purpose of debunking the claim that a sighting of alien craft had been made in 1980 in the Rendlesham forest.

Because when I see everything they have to offer – and after sitting there for four hours I had heard only their best, most presentable offerings, not the hundreds of hours of lower-quality speculation and documentary-style filler – there is nothing but a claim, and some serious hunting and pecking.

For wit, Howe’s website, remember? Or were you not compelled by a series of blips on infrared and light-amplifying cameras used in time-lapse? Did a spike from a home-made EM-meter not compel you to believe in time travelers from the year 42 thousand?

Even assuming that these bits of random data mean anything (I don’t suggest doing this) – what does this have to do with UFOs, 30 years after the fact? Howe just throws out explanations – a military unit? Ghosts? Secret Agents with cloaking devices?

Never do they make a hypothesis and then try to gather data to confirm or deny it. Rather, they find a bunch of data, and then claim it supports the hypothesis.

A pile of bad evidence doesn’t equal to one bit of good evidence – and sadly, all we got at the 2011 Mississippi UFO Conference was a big pile of bad, bad evidence.

Maybe next year.

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