The Web failed to catch ET?

Leaferne

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#1
Internet Killed the Alien Star
By Douglas Kern : BIO | 09 Nov 2005


If youre looking for one of those famous, big-eyed alien abductors, try looking on the sides of milk cartons. The UFO cultural moment in America is long since over, having gone out with the Clintons and grunge rock in the 90s. Ironically, the force that killed the UFO fad is the same force that catapulted it to super-stardom: the Internet. And therein hangs a tale about how the Internet can conceal and reveal the truth.
Its hard to remember just how large UFOs loomed in the public mind a mere ten years ago. The X-Files was one of the hottest shows on television; Harvard professors solemnly intoned that the alien abduction phenomenon was a real, objective fact; and Congressmen made serious inquiries about a downed alien spacecraft in Roswell, New Mexico. Still not enough? You could see the Roswell movie on Showtime; you could play Area 51 at the arcade; you could gawk at stunning pictures of crop circles in any number of magazines; and you could watch any number of lurid UFO specials on Fox or the Discovery Channel. And USENET! Egad! In the days when USENET was something other than a spam swap, UFO geeks hit send to exchange myths, sightings, speculations, secret documents, lies, truths, and even occasionally facts about those strange lights in the sky.

The modern UFO era began with Kenneth Arnolds 1947 UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington. National interest in the subject waxed and waned in the following years -- sometimes spiking dramatically, as during the Washington, D.C. flap of 1952 or the Michigan sightings in 1966 (which captured the attention of Gerald Ford). Steven Spielberg popularized the modern mythology of UFOs in 1977s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And with the publication of Whitley Striebers Communion in 1987, alien abduction moved from a freakish, nutty concern to a mainstream phenomenon. Eccentrics had claimed to be in mental contact with aliens since the fifties, and alien abductions had been a part of the American UFO scene since the Betty and Barney Hill case of 1961, but Striebers runaway bestseller fused the traditional alien abduction tale to a chilling narrative and a modern spiritual sensibility -- thus achieving huge credibility for our friends with the wraparound peepers.

Yet in recent years, interest in the UFO phenomenon has withered. Oh, the websites are still up, the odd UFO picture is still taken, and the usual hardcore UFO advocates make the same tired arguments about the same tired cases, but the thrill is gone. What happened? Why did the saucers crash?

The Internet showed this particular emperor to be lacking in clothes. If UFOs and alien visitations were genuine, tangible, objective realities, the Internet would be an unstoppable force for detecting them. How long could the vast government conspiracy last, when intrepid UFO investigators could post their prized pictures on the Internet seconds after taking them? How could the Men in Black shut down every website devoted to scans of secret government UFO documents? How could marauding alien kidnappers remain hidden in a nation with millions of webcams?

Just as our technology for finding and understanding UFOs improved dramatically, the manifestations of UFOs dwindled away. Despite forty-plus years of alleged alien abductions, not one scrap of physical evidence supports the claim that mysterious visitors are conducting unholy experiments on hapless victims. The technology for sophisticated photograph analysis can be found in every PC in America, and yet, oddly, recent UFO pictures are rare. Cell phones and instant messaging could summon throngs of people to witness a paranormal event, and yet such paranormal events dont seem to happen very often these days. For an allegedly real phenomenon, UFOs sure do a good job of acting like the imaginary friend of the true believers. How strange, that they should disappear just as we develop the ability to see them clearly. Or perhaps it isnt so strange.

The Internet taught the public many tricks of the UFO trade. For years, hucksters and mental cases played upon the credulity of UFO investigators. Bad science, shabby investigation, and dubious tales from unlikely witnesses characterized far too many UFO cases. But the rise of the Internet taught the world to be more skeptical of unverified information -- and careful skepticism is the bane of the UFO phenomenon. It took UFO experts over a decade to determine that the Majestic-12 documents of the eighties were a hoax, rather than actual government documents proving the reality of UFOs. Contrast that decade to the mere days in which the blogosphere disproved the Mary Mapes Memogate documents. Similarly, in the nineties, UFO enthusiasts were stunned when they learned that a leading investigator of the Roswell incident had fabricated much of his research, as well as his credentials. Today, a Google search and a few e-mails would expose such shenanigans in minutes.

Thus, the rise of the Internet in the late nineties corresponded with the fall of many famous UFO cases. Roswell? A crashed, top-secret weather balloon, misrepresented by dreamers and con men. The Mantell Incident? A pilot misidentified a balloon, with tragic consequences. Majestic-12? Phony documents with a demonstrably false signature. The Alien Autopsy movie? Please. As access to critical evidence and verifiable facts increased, the validity of prominent UFO cases melted away. Far-fetched theories and faulty evidence collapsed under the weight of their provable absurdity. What the Internet gave, the Internet took away.

The Internet processes all truth and falsehood in just this fashion. Wild rumors and dubious pieces of evidence are quick to circulate, but quickly debunked. The Internet gives liars and rumor mongers a colossal space in which to bamboozle dolts of every stripe -- but it also provides a forum for wise men from all across the world to speak the truth. Over the long run, the truth tends to win. This fact is lost on critics of the blogosphere, who can only see the exaggerated claims and gossip. These critics often fail to notice that, on the net, the truth follows closely behind the lies. A great many of us accept Internet rumors and hoaxes in exchange for fast access to the truth.

But is there any validity to the UFO phenomenon? Perhaps, but so what? The need for weird is hard-coded into the human condition. In every society, a few unlikely souls appear to make contact with an invisible world, communing with goblins or ghosts or aliens or gods or monsters. And in every society, some fool always tries to gather scales from the dragon tracks, or droppings from the goblins, or pictures of the aliens. The dream world is always too elusive to be captured, and yet too tantalizingly close to be dismissed. And so the ancient game continues, with weirdness luring us to introspection and subjectivity, even as reality beckons us to exploration and objectivity. The appeal of chimerical mysteries and esoteric knowledge tends to diminish when the need for moral clarity and direction grows acute. And our need for such guidance is acute indeed. Were at war now. We dont have the time for games.

The weird ye shall have with you always. But right now, the introspection of weirdness isnt needed. Im quite happy to leave the aliens in the nineties, and on the milk cartons.
Source

Food for thought, or perhaps it could be its own thread...how the internet has shaped Forteana?
 
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#2
Leaferne said:
Food for thought, or perhaps it could be its own thread...how the internet has shaped Forteana?
I went with a new thread here as it has probably had diffrent effects on different parts of Forteana (there seems to still be a lively exchange of dodgy ghost piccies).
 

DougalLongfoot

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#3
There's a lot to argue with here;

Yet in recent years, interest in the UFO phenomenon has withered. Oh, the websites are still up, the odd UFO picture is still taken, and the usual hardcore UFO advocates make the same tired arguments about the same tired cases, but the thrill is gone. What happened? Why did the saucers crash?
There are still a lot of people here on the FTMB discussing it and plenty of cases reported

The Internet showed this particular emperor to be lacking in clothes. If UFOs and alien visitations were genuine, tangible, objective realities, the Internet would be an unstoppable force for detecting them. How long could the vast government conspiracy last, when intrepid UFO investigators could post their prized pictures on the Internet seconds after taking them? How could the Men in Black shut down every website devoted to scans of secret government UFO documents? How could marauding alien kidnappers remain hidden in a nation with millions of webcams?
Takes a fairly narrow view of what the UFO phenomenom is, taken I'd say more from supermarket tabloids and b grade movies than reputable researchers.

Just as our technology for finding and understanding UFOs improved dramatically, the manifestations of UFOs dwindled away.
Sorry, when did this happen? (Both the technology and the dwindling).

Roswell? A crashed, top-secret weather balloon, misrepresented by dreamers and con men. The Mantell Incident? A pilot misidentified a balloon, with tragic consequences. Majestic-12? Phony documents with a demonstrably false signature. The Alien Autopsy movie? Please
I don't believe the Internet contributed demonstrably to establishing the "truth" in any of these cases. And I don't personally know anyone who ever took the alien autopsy footage seriously.

The appeal of chimerical mysteries and esoteric knowledge tends to diminish when the need for moral clarity and direction grows acute. And our need for such guidance is acute indeed. Were at war now. We dont have the time for games.
An interesting and revealing passage? What is the authors purpose here? what is their agenda? Why in a time of war should we stop enquiring and seeking the truth?


To sum up, sure some people are far too accepting of the outlandish claims, and automatically buy into the UFO=Alien Technology side of things, but the fact remains that people DO see things in the sky they can't understand all the time, but a good researcher tries to find the truth. Authorities aren't interested anymore and if people can't go to someone for an explanation then they are NEVER going to understand what they saw. At least if there is still a UFO community then the 90% of explainable sightings will continue to be explained.
 

Jerry_B

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#4
DougalLongfoot said:
To sum up, sure some people are far too accepting of the outlandish claims, and automatically buy into the UFO=Alien Technology side of things, but the fact remains that people DO see things in the sky they can't understand all the time, but a good researcher tries to find the truth. Authorities aren't interested anymore and if people can't go to someone for an explanation then they are NEVER going to understand what they saw. At least if there is still a UFO community then the 90% of explainable sightings will continue to be explained.
Maybe so, but as far as the internet is concerned there is alot of highly speculative, nay ridiculous stuff out there. That or repetition of hoary old stuff. Actual good research is very much few and far between. If anything, the internet has tended to reinforce a certain set of themes within the UFO story and that's pretty much become the most prelevant, dominant idea - 'greys', abductions, and military involvement. You'd be forgiven for thinking that this is what the subject is really all about, whereas it's comparatively new as far as ufology's concerned. The internet has tended to expound the 'grey/abduction/military' party line above all others, even tho' it's the most highly speculative area of the whole subject. No doubt 'The X Files' also helped, but IIRC Chris Carter gleaned alot of his ideas from the net, so the whole thing is a circle jerk ;)
 

Xanatico

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#5
Just means less crackpots in UFOlogy, not a bad thing at all. Sadly if the whole US cryptozoology craze that people like Coleman say the TV-series Lost is inspired by, perhaps they will all just move to that field instead.
 

GNC

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#6
Xanatico said:
Just means less crackpots in UFOlogy, not a bad thing at all. Sadly if the whole US cryptozoology craze that people like Coleman say the TV-series Lost is inspired by, perhaps they will all just move to that field instead.
Dunno about the US, but here in Britain it's ghosts that seem to have replaced UFOs to quite some extent as the main paranormal talking point. But maybe cryptozoology will be next? There's plenty of reports about ABCs, for example.

These things tend to come and go in waves anyway, I wouldn't write any of it off just yet.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#7
We now have the technology in virtually every home. All these camcorders, all these digital cameras in increasing general availablily and use, yet no decent footage or pictures of anything to back up any of the outlandish claims. No unambiguous encouinters with craft or life forms captured on video.

Maybe because nothing was ever there?

-
 

GNC

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#8
Or maybe it's there but isn't picked up by cameras?
 

Human_84

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#9
This article is absolutely absurd. Here you see drastic opinions founded on third hand information running rampid. This is exactly what you get from a writer who doesn't do much thinking on his own. Get real.

:idea:
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#10
gncxx said:
Or maybe it's there but isn't picked up by cameras?
So where are all these people who have had such remarkable encounters and tried to record evidence and failed because it didn't record.
They don't exist either.

-
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#11
Human_84 said:
This article is absolutely absurd. Here you see drastic opinions founded on third hand information running rampid. This is exactly what you get from a writer who doesn't do much thinking on his own. Get real.

:idea:
What is absurd are "Starships in January" and the "Starship Capricorn" debacle.

Third hand drastic opinions?

Get real, indeed.

-
 

Human_84

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#12
Rrose_Selavy said:
Human_84 said:
This article is absolutely absurd. Here you see drastic opinions founded on third hand information running rampid. This is exactly what you get from a writer who doesn't do much thinking on his own. Get real.

:idea:
What is absurd are "Starships in January" and the "Starship Capricorn" debacle.

Third hand drastic opinions?

Get real, indeed.

-
Third hand information indeed. What seperates this writer from me is the fact that I remain open minded. I take your last post as a joke as its entirely off base. I bring the forums information from my metaphysical groups out of the goodness of my own heart for public consumption only for your best interest. Never once did you see me post that the capricorn story is all truth, nor the starships. Don't get it twisted because thats not me. This author has made an absolute fool of themself. What you see here is an entire article regarding their own point of view; and thereby creating a grand showcase for their own ignorance. Not ever will I be guilty as such.
 

Jerry_B

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#13
But then again, the moral of the story is 'don't post stuff if you aren't prepared to withstand some critiques'. And that applies even if what's being reported is second-hand. And one could even say that you can't be all that open-minded if you can't see that there is always a possibly humourous take on the whole thing.

After all, the Capricorn, etc. stuff has pretty much classic pattern for modern ufo/contactee/new age subjects, but with a twist o' internet ;) Actually, such tales probably would get any coverage at all if it wasn't for the net and forums like this.
 

Human_84

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#14
Jerry_B said:
'don't post stuff if you aren't prepared to withstand some critiques'.
Critiquing is excellent, keep it coming by all means. Just responding to the critiquing is all.
 

Jerry_B

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#15
But what Rose and the author of the article both said are critiques, yet you seem not to take them as such (judging by your replies)...
 
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#16
It's certainly true that both the mainstream media and the general public seem to have become rather bored with the whole UFO/aliens subject area in the aftermath of the 1990's X-files fueled obsession with all things ET. But such is the way of all crazes. One minute everyone's talking about aliens, or trying to solve the Rubik's cube; the next minute it's yesterday's news.

Eventually the wheel turns, and subjects which were once deemed old hat suddenly become fashionable again. Consider how Dan Brown's books have revived interest in the Templar mysteries, or how the antics of Derek Acorah have made ghost-hunting trendy again. Even Bigfoot seems to be becoming fashionable again these days (although the Chupacabra seems to have gone the way of MC Hammer).

In the meantime, the goblin universe goes about its daily business of populating our mundane world with ghosties and humanoids and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, quite heedless of whether or not media pundits consider them to be worthy of interest. Just because the Daily Mail has stopped writing about aliens doesn't mean that people have stopped seeing them.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#17
In the meantime, the goblin universe goes about its daily business of populating our mundane world with ghosties and humanoids and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, quite heedless of whether or not media pundits consider them to be worthy of interest. Just because the Daily Mail has stopped writing about aliens doesn't mean that people have stopped seeing them.
Trends do come and go,- But a point the original author is making is the internet isn't the Daily Mail, or just a few media outlets - it's "everyman". For Good or bad, We have all had the potential means to record "phenomena" and the means to publish and distribute information virtually instantly.

And it has uncovered nothing remarkable enough even for the established media oulets to relay.

-
 

Jerry_B

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#18
Yep - so far all that seems to be put on-line is yet more fakes, or footage/images that are the usual nebulous 'something' type of stuff. Some of the fakes obviously took more time than others to do, but the end result is still the same ;)
 
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#20
I don't agree with the author's statement that "if UFOs and alien visitations were genuine, tangible, objective realities, the Internet would be an unstoppable force for detecting them". Most UFO/alien encounters are short and unexpected, and the witness is usually too taken by surprise to ask the phenomenon if it would kindly pose for their camera.

The excellent Humanoid Sightings Database provides an ongoing round-up of tales of humanoid encounters - usually with sources and names - yet how often do these kinds of high-strangeness cases appear in the mainstream media? Or, for that matter, in contemporary UFO literature, which is largely focused on the grey alien to the exclusion of all other types of close encounter.

Even the Fortean Times itself does a pretty poor job of reporting the UFO/alien phenomenon. For instance, I'm still waiting for them to get round to mentioning the wave of sightings which have plagued Bracknell over the last year. They seem far more interested in writing about UFOs which turned out to be chinese lanterns than in looking at cases which are actually unexplained.
 

IamSundog

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#21
Lately I've been hanging out at the National UFO Reporting Center website. Terrific online database of reports here.

63 reports for this month alone, and this from a voluntary reporting mechanism that experiencers have to seek, find, and decide to make use of. I certainly don't see any slowdown in reports, just a slowdown of reporting in the mainstream media, which given the usual nature of the reporting is probably a good thing.

I particularly like going through the older reports from the 30s through 60s, stuff that people never reported until decades later because of the usual fear for their reputation, who are now old and want to share their story before it dies with them.

yet no decent footage or pictures of anything to back up any of the outlandish claims. No unambiguous encouinters with craft or life forms captured on video.
Google for "UFO photo video". Lots of interesting photos and videos. Lots of garbage and images of dust motes reflecting the camera flash and reports of "I saw a funny light in the sky" as well.

The effect of the Internet is that now there is a much more open forum for people to report and discuss Fortean experiences in relative anonimity, so there is much more raw information available. This doesn't help at all in investigation and documentation and proof. It does allow experiencers to commiserate with each other, and that's good in terms of moral support, but probably bad in terms of promoting group-think.

Unambiguous photograhic or video proof? What is the standard for "unambiguous"? There's very impressive paper, photographic, and radar documentation from official agencies (military, FAA) on some (old) cases, but since virtually anything can be dismissed as hoaxed or misattributed or unreliable or a misindentification of the planet Venus, there ain't no "unambiguous". And what skeptic is ever going to believe Joe Sixpack's home video, no matter how clear and impressive it looks?
 
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#22
The usual tired old debate over what constitutes proof. (Comments in square brackets are my own)
Are There UFOs in the NC Sky?
More on the Web
MUFON
UFO Info

It's part of the human curiosity. Many of us wonder ... are we alone?

A Gallup poll shows that 72 percent of Americans believe there is life on other planets. And one in five of us believe aliens have been in contact with human beings. Our own curiosity made us want to find out what evidence, if any, there is of alien spacecraft flying over North Carolina's skies. And why do people believe in, and explore, life from beyond. That quest took us to the central part of the state.

At a farm, in an undisclosed location, west of High Point in Davidson County, independent UFO researchers like Alan Caviness look to the sky, looking for signs of life. Life unlike anything we know. We sat down with Caviness to talk about his experiences.

"Earth has always been visited. We've never been alone. I think this is a gradual awakening that we're all in the middle of. And I believe I'm a part of that. And so are many other people."

Using digital cameras, Caviness takes pictures, hundreds of them, and video. He says the cameras pick up objects unseen to the naked eye. Caviness said, "We do know that our cameras can pick up in the near infrared part the light spectrum, which is beyond human visibility."

Caviness says some UFO's can be seen without high technology-if the aliens on board want you to see them [They told him this?]. He and other believers in High Point say the space crafts only come here from the middle of March through early August. "These UFO's are conducting some kind of annual operations. We know that because we just don't see anything in the winter months when it's coldest. March 11, out of 400 photographs, we got six UFO's. So, we know that they're back."

In one account, Caviness and a companion saw two UFO's approaching. They took these pictures. Then, whatever it was, was gone. "We looked up, and they had to be right over our heads because they were approaching us, and there were just not visible. But they clearly showed up in the photos."

Caviness does not just believe these unidentified flying objects are alien crafts, but that aliens are part of human life. He said, "There are a lot more people being abducted by these UFO's then you would ever dream."

People like Alan Caviness himself. "I know I've been abducted before."

Once, he says, he heard a strange clicking noise in open air. On the way from his mailbox to his home, something happened. Caviness recounted, "I walked to my front door-about 30 feet over short grass-and I no longer had my house key, my car key, in my hand. I think I was taken and returned, minus my keys. These things are happening."

Like many who claim to be abducted by aliens, Caviness says he doesn't remember anything. After entering his home, he found a scar on his chest, a hole through his shirt. He claims, within hours, the scar was gone. He also claims what many other so-called 'experiencers' do; sleep paralysis before and after an abduction. He said, "They can't move their arms and legs, and sometimes they feel a presence in the room, but they can't look over to see it."

And there are countless others who swear they have seen something not from this world. There are web sites dedicated to UFO sightings, filled with accounts from southeastern North Carolina. In Carolina Beach; "I was a little startled to see several fairly bright lights in the sky..."

Holden Beach; "..one of several red lights emitted a beam."

Chadbourn; "We thought it was a military aircraft, but my husband built aircraft, and said that is not one of ours, including those at area 51."

Dr. Bob Brown teaches courses in pseudo science at UNCW [You can study pseudo-science at University now?]. We showed him the Caviness collection of pictures and video. As he mulled over the still pictures, he remarked, "This could be a piece of fabric that someone had taken or cardboard. That looks like to me that could be an automobile tire that's been played with."

Brown says it's not that these aren't unidentified flying objects, but that in itself does not make them extraterrestrial. He said, "If it's a UFO, it's not an alien spaceship." [Well, that solves that then]

Dr. Brown says those who claim to see ships from out of this world aren't out of their minds. Often though, he says, they see what they want to believe. Brown said, "Not only are they not a little crazy, but they are essentially within the normal range on most personality dimensions." [pompus psychobabble to show he's a proffessor]

Brown admits the unknown is exactly that; unknown. Anything is possible. Nothing, for him, is confirmed. He said, "These things could exist? In the case of the alien spaceships, of course. But, we need verifiable evidence."

Alan Caviness says he knows what he's seeing. "If I'm hallucinating, then so is my camera."

He says it's time for the science community to acknowledge there's something out there so that we, the human race, can learn, not about aliens as much as about ourselves. He said, "These beings understand what human thought is. We don't. They also understand what life actually is. We don't. They understand what our existence here on earth is all about. We don't. There's a lot we don't understand. That's why we need to explore this phenomenon." [What on Earth is he trying to say here?]

source
 

stu neville

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#23
graylien said:
.....He says it's time for the science community to acknowledge there's something out there so that we, the human race, can learn, not about aliens as much as about ourselves. He said, "These beings understand what human thought is. We don't. They also understand what life actually is. We don't. They understand what our existence here on earth is all about. We don't. There's a lot we don't understand. That's why we need to explore this phenomenon." [What on Earth is he trying to say here?]
What on Earth is he trying to say here? I think he may be suggesting that the white mice have the answer ;). Seriously, or perhaps Siriusly, I think he's at least partly talking out of his imaginarily-probed arse.

Yes, people see strange lights in the sky. Yes, some people say they have seen these things up-close. Yes, some people feel like they've been prodded about by non-human agencies in the night. Fine - I don't dispute that in the slightest: I totally agree there's something clearly going on. What I dispute is that the aforementioned all have to relate to beings from other worlds, or indeed are all necessarily related to one another. Yes, we need to to investigate it, and we continue to discuss it and analyse it on fora such as this, but to go in with the preconclusion that the ETH must be the truth, and all investigations must serve to prove this hypothesis, is part of what puts a lot of people off, IMHO.
 

uair01

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#24
graylien said:
Most UFO/alien encounters are short and unexpected, and the witness is usually too taken by surprise to ask the phenomenon if it would kindly pose for their camera.
Disagree. With the amount of digital camera's in circulation even some rare events get caught on camera. I made a selection from non-ufo sites here:
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=25558

What about the escaped balloons? The rocket launch? The bat? The weird 3d-wave? Rare and fleeting events - but still caught on camera!

And to criticize the discussion on the board: If you think that there are new and interesting cases occuring, then give us the URL of one particularly good example. Please!

However, camera's are showing great puzzles outside of the standard UFO field. Even on this forum:
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24312
It's disappointing that good evidence like that drew just a tiny bit of discussion.

I did a quick Internet search for pictures by A. Caviness and they are few and unfortunately not so impressive.

But I found this page with quite interesting material: http://ufocasebook.com/bestufopictures8.html
 
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#25
If you think that there are new and interesting cases occuring, then give us the URL of one particularly good example.
Well, while the rest of the web was going mad over Serpo, I personally found the under-reported wave of sightings in Bracknell pretty interesting.

And while the likes of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs bore us silly with hypnotic fantasies about grey hybrids, Albert Rosales is quietly plugging away at his Humanoid Database which shows that a wide variety of weird and wonderful entities are still being encountered. Or how about this page of reader's sightings from About.com: Your True Tales: UFOs and Aliens.
 

uair01

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#27
graylien said:
Well, while the rest of the web was going mad over Serpo, I personally found the under-reported wave of sightings in Bracknell pretty interesting.
Yes, they sound interesting indeed. It's a pity there are no pictures. I would really like to see them.
 
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