22 October 2013


Don Donderi. UFOs, ETs and Alien Abductions: A Scientist Looks at the Evidence. Hampton Roads, 2013.

Micah Hanks. The Ghost Rockets: Mystery Missiles and Phantom Projectiles in Our Skies. Rocketeer Press, 2013.

Despite the subtitle and the blazoning of the author’s PhD across the front cover (always a bad sign), Donderi, a retired Canadian psychologist, is not writing as a scientist in this book. Rather it is yet another lawyer’s brief for the ETH, and a pretty poor one at that. Examples of the ‘evidence’ include a photograph taken in Quebec in 1978 of a luminous thing which looks suspiciously two dimensional and just happens by coincidence to be under foliage from which a cardboard cut-out might have a been hung.
However ‘experts’ have pronounced it genuine. They have said the same about the Cottingley fairies and the nonsense produced by Ed Walters

Then there is the university professor who was paced for an hour by a light, always suggestive of an astronomical misperception. The light seems to expand, open windows, reveal occupants and cross the road. Perhaps something of psychological interest is going on here, maybe an altered state of consciousness produced by fatigue, sensory restriction and staring at a point source of light for a long time. But not evidence for the ETH.

The credibility of this book is not enhanced by Donderi’s totally credulous account of the Linda Cortile/Neopolitano story. The fact that no investigator has ever met the alleged witnesses in that case, and that there is not a scrap of evidence that they exist outside the imagination of Linda and perhaps a couple of her friends, does not faze him at all. The sad fact is that far more impressive UFO books were written more than forty years ago, and this book is just another symptom of the death of ufology. 

Ghost rockets feature in the ufological literature mainly in connection with the famous Scandinavian wave of 1946, but, as this books shows, similar things are still being reported. Hanks looks at a range of such cases and provides a (partial) catalogue of them. Unlike many writers in this field he does not assume that all these reports have a common cause; some are misperceptions of other things, some seem to occur in altered states of consciousness, but some may be due to very real and very terrestrial missiles and the like, and pose a real risk to aircraft, and may in fact have been responsible for more than one fatal crash.

Some of this latter class are presumably due to blunders by military agencies, tests that went wrong and the like, but the possibility that some are due to stuff that has walked away from military stores over the years, the products of a variety of DIY experiments, or material in the hands of terrorists, drug gangs, clandestine agencies that have gone feral or whatnot is rather alarming.
Hanks clearly thinks that some are more anomalistic than that, but does not speculate on what they might be, and certainly does not try to ram the ETH down our throats. He notes that they seem to be part of patterns that represent futuristic technology round the next corner but one , or at least how such as technology is currently imagined. An interesting contribution to serious anomaly study. -- Peter Rogerson.


Terry the Censor said...

Donderi also has an uncritical take on the Hill case, repeating the highly polished version of the story, never referring to the early documents. For instance, Donderi repeats the same old guff about the spots on the trunk of the car being psychical evidence of the event. However, while all the early Hill documents mention the beeps hitting the trunk, none describe spots on the truck -- or damage to the car of any kind.

Betty's September 26 1961 letter to Donald Keyhoe: "There does not appear to be any damage to our car from the beeping sounds."
Walter Webb's 1961 report to NICAP has no mention of spots, saying only, "...there were no electromagnetic disturbances..."
The Air Force report doesn't mention spots or car damage.
Betty's notes about her dreams have nothing about spots or car damage.
NICAP's Hill article in the UFO Investigator, Jan-Feb 1962, doesn't have spots or car damage.
The APRO Bulletin report, March 1963, has no spots or car damage.

All these reports are from unique communications with the Hills: they are not a copying or recycling of earlier reports. Six chances to mention physical effects, six chances to cite corroboration for the beeps that rattled the trunk, but not once do we hear about the spots.

Donderi says the spots were seen "by many witnesses" but can only name one, Kathleen Marden. There are two problems here. Fuller and Webb didn't name or quote any witnesses to the spots, they merely printed Betty's assertion that there had been witnesses. Conversely, of the early investigators, friends and relatives of the Hills who are named by Fuller and Webb, not a single one reports seeing the spots! Finally, Marden is not named as a witness to the spots by Fuller or Webb or anyone until the year 2000 (that is the earliest record I can find so far).

(I could go on and on.)

Donderi may be a scientist but he did not look at the evidence, he merely repeated the myth.

Terry the Censor said...

> psychical evidence of the event

Whoa! That should be "physical"

Anonymous said...

Dawn San Francisco Bay, October 25, 2007.