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All over the newspapers: UFOs are "explained" ... again!

Disclosure of the Condign report, or how British media have their fun:

Much fuss announced:

On May 6, 2006, ufologists Gary Anthony, David Clarke, Joe McGonagle and Andy Roberts inform several ufology discussion groups that by requests with the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), they discovered a new document which reveals a new story having great implications relating to the role of British defense in the study of UFOs. They add that the document "confirms and validates the conclusions of serious ufologists."

They add that they are in possession of the entirety of that document, and that MoD will make it public later on.

They add something that I found worrying: they expect a great interest on behalf of British newspapers and television channels, and say that we should watch out for newspapers headlines and watch BBC news the next day evening.

Debunkers but instructive:

Why is this worrying?

Because these 4 ufologists reserve the priority of their discovery to the mass media. The mass media? They are generally unable to correctly read a document on UFOs and makes erroneous interpretations and gross exaggerations. Because in decent research, one shares his information with his peers. To go to see the newspapers and TV channels has more to do with an advertising operation, the search for fame and attention, than decent research.

Some ufologists immediately felt the "coup" which was preparing. Taking into account the often mocking and ridiculing speech by David Clarke and Andy Roberts on UFO matters, and their repeated mockeries on ufologists, they thought that what was going to emerge would be once again only a lot of hot air, once again something likely to unduly ridicule the notion of extraterrestrial visitors.

On another side, I knew that the position of these two ufologists is not nearly that simple. Clare and Robert's website,, hardly updated, does have a mocking tone all over. Some famous hoaxes are debunked, various Mod documents are mentioned, the whole under the ambiguous headline "Ufology: delicious hot, disgusting cold."

Also, their 2002 book "Out of the Shadows: UFOs, the Establishment and the official cover-up", although marked by a generally negative stance on UFOs as alien spaceships, was, perhaps in spite of them but the fact remains, a very interesting information goldmine, on the generally negative attitude of British defense relating to UFOs, with some beautiful lies cited, but also a mine of information dug up in their official files in connection with highly puzzling sightings; which they had been the first to be obtained. Here are just three examples:

In short, I had the impression to read the book of two researchers who do not really want to even hear about extraterrestrial visitors, but who all the same made deepened information searches and shared the result, without dissimulating the items rather favorable to the notion of the extraterrestrial visitors.

The Press goes bonkers

But as for this new Condign document that they obtained, the manner their announcement was done wasted my good impression, this time.

Indeed, at the announced day, there was no news from the four ufologists, but newspapers articles and a BBC report. Highly disturbing articles and reports.

Thus, The Times, and The Telegraph, U-K. headlined "Scientists explain UFO sightings" In other words, they all are explained, "explained" meaning that they all have as explanation: lies and confusions, except some that remain unexplained but it does not count because they might be explained all the same someday.

With that, The Times headlines "Sorry AND, You' Re Just A Puff Of Plasma".

Better, the article says that the 4 years MoD study concluded that most UFO sightings are caused by a "little known atmospheric phenomenon."

They say that UFOs are "most of the time", "glowing 'plasmas' of gas are created by charges of electricity. Air flows then sculpt the plasmas into aerodynamic shapes which appear to fly at extraordinary speeds through the sky.

The report indicate the these plasma are "credited with the ability to hover, land, take off, accelerate to exceptional velocities and vanish, they can reportedly alter their direction of flight suddenly and clearly can exhibit aerodynamic characteristics well beyond those of any known aircraft or missile."

When people see a dark triangle object with lights at the corner, the newspapers says, quoting the report, this is quite simply three plasma which fly in formation, and if people see well a structured mass which carries these lights, or aliens inside, it is still an effect of plasma, sculpted by the wind into such shapes!

For, "these plasmas can play tricks on the minds and create the long vivid impressions. It was medically proven that localized electromagnetic fields cause response in the temporal lobes of the brain." And thus, "in result, people who thought of seeing a UFO actually suffered from a retention of memory and repetitive experiences induced by plasma."

And to top it all: "Because they are electrically charged, plasmas can change shape or color when struck by another energy source - such as radio signals by UFO spotters."

Experienced ufologists know very well what the source of this utter pseudo-science nonsense are.

It is not at all a "new discovery" of "the scientists".

It is flatly the resurrection of pseudo-scientific explanations given by the late American debunker Philip Klass in the Sixties. Klass had believed that he was the genius that discovered the previously undiscovered explanation to UFOs: ball lighting. He was then seized by a plasmatic craze, and wrote his book "UFOS explained", allotting to plasma any UFO sighting, however absurd it was, as for example police officer Lonnie Zamora's sighting of a landed UFO and its two occupants, in Soccoro, NM, 1964. As all sensible people burst into justified laughter at this explanation, he later changed it by defaming the mayor of the city, claiming that the mayor fomented a hoax to attract tourists... Another utterly silly explanation.

These explanations by plasma had been totally debunked as nonsense at that time, but Klass never completely gave ball lightning up, and much "skeptical" fantasies still is circulated about plasma. It should be noted that a small number of more honest "skeptics" do not hesitate to tell that these plasma fantasies are pseudo-scientific garbage. Others still flatly deny the very existence of ball lightning, which is totally in error.

These famed "plasma", indeed, is nothing else than ball lightning. It does not explain anything at all about UFOs, if you need to know why, read this.

Plasma do not appear just like that, they are not magic, they need a power source, they obeys known laws of electromagnetism and conservation of energy etc. They do not last a long time, they do not take any shape, they are not sculpted into flying triangles by the winds, they do not follow planes, they do not resemble spacecraft, they are small, they are luminous, they end up exploding, etc. There are other electric phenomena in the atmosphere, such as the sprites, whose existence was only recently admitted whereas pilots have been reporting it for long but where ridiculed, but nobody mistakes sprites for alien spaceship.

Better still: a plasma is ionized air, and there are some reasons to think that that alien spaceships would indeed ionize the air around them, for example to cancel the shock wave in supersonic flight!

As for the infamous "electromagnetic waves which make you see alien beings", this comes from the also refuted theory by scientist Michael Persinger. He thinks that the lights in the sky are earthlights, created by natural piezoelectricity at the time of stress in the earth's crust before earthquakes - that is occasionally the case. But he also believes that these lights emit waves that makes you see aliens, which he absolutely never demonstrated. The only "demonstration" of that consists of a visit at his laboratory by a psychologist who knows nothing of UFO reports and holds an entirely negative speech on UFOs, Susan Blackmore. She is CSICOP personality, CSICOP being an association that claims to "fight against beliefs in the paranormal", in other words, a far stretch from being a neutral and ignorant person about the implications of the experience, rather somebody that any objective researcher could understand that she could distort the result.

Persinger made her sit in an armchair, put some magic helmet of his invention on her head, with an aim of showing her that this is how aliens appear to people. He creates an electromagnetic field through the brain thanks to this helmet. All that Susan Blackmore felt, after a long moment under this helmet and in the dark, was to be "grabbed by the shoulders" and to become frightened and angry - she did not see any alien or extraterrestrial spacecraft. Worse, in her TV show where this is shown, all you see is that wearing the helmet on the head, at the end of 10 minutes, nothing had happened, and only then she talks of a "presence." That of Persinger behind its magic control desk?

Persinger's "results", heavily mediatized but never checked, caused a justified hilarity among most ufologists, except among some of the ufologists that call themselves "skeptics" who find that all that is True Science, that it explains alien UFOs and occupants, and do feel a need to put this in perspective or check it out.

Nobody for example was able to notice that there is not one witness of the authentic ball lightning phenomenon that reported back "aliens" nor anything "paranormal" or strange... (See my catalogue in the end of this article. Unfortunately, to deny UFOs, some close their eyes so hard that it must hurt.

Thereafter, it was learned that the laboratory where Persinger exerts summoned him to follow the basic methodological principles in its work, which he did not do, but that is the sort of things which hardly makes the headlines or bother "UFO-skeptics."

What the MoD report tells is probably nothing else but this Persinger theory. I would explain further why I am not sure to date.

The BBC is a tad more reasoned than the newspaper, as usual:

But no questioning on the validity of the "science" in the report appears.

The remainder in the media is of the same stuff, mixes contradictory remarks and lacks clarity. More or less the same is repeated in other British newspapers:

As well as popular science websites:

Aviation websites:

Then it becomes an international topic via news agencies like UPI:

You then find the same gobbledygook in the whole newspaper world, for example in Australia where the headlines are "UFOS are hot air:"

Very seldom, a newspaper calls on a contradictor:

Here, a ufologist explains that ball lightning is not a valid refutation of UFO matters and invite the readers to hear other voices.

The worst appeared on the Internet site of the British newspaper "The Register", à

"Les OVNIS n'existe pas", affirme-t-on. Et on ajoute que les témoins d'OVNIS "ont eu une sonde anale", qu'ils "courent en tout sens comme des poulets sans tête" et ainsi de suite.

That's the beautiful result of the manner the 4 ufologists approached the media!

John Rimmer, bad faith at work

Of course, all sensible ufologists thought and say what I tell here. But British debunker John Rimmer just had to show up again. Rimmer claims that all UFO reports are all only lies and confusions, "folklore", and that ufologists who do not share his opinion are idiots.

He said that the ufologists react to a report which they did not even read yet.

What does this really amount to?

Actually, ufologists precisely react to the say of the Press on this report, and not to the report itself. But, as deformed as the report may be presented in the newspapers, there is little doubt that it contains what I commented. What I commented is quoted by the newspapers from the report.

The report itself, our 4 ufologists indeed thought it was better to have the Press to read it, and not the ufologists!

The 4 ufologists opened a site web, ready for action, and whose opening was delayed until the date where the media were going to be informed by them. But on their website, decorated with scary copyright notices, from the announced 400 pages report, only the title pages, the conclusions (ambiguous) and the table of contents (which confirm that it is indeed among other things a matter of "plasma that makes you see aliens."

I immediately contacted one of the four to ask him where I could get and read the report, but I still do not have an answer.

It is not the ufologists that should be blamed of the situation. It is largely the Press, but the Press is only seldom capable of critical and accurate commenting on UFO matters, journalists are not ufologists, and our 4 ufologists should have know that. The blame of the situation, firstly, are these 4 ufologists, who organized a big media fuss inevitably without much relation with realities, instead of normally sharing the document they discovered with their peers. They chose to have the Press come up with interpretations, analyses, explanations, not taking any account of contradictory opinions.

John Rimmer also claimed that American ufologists became "hysterical" because of this report. Actually, the majority just sighed y bit, because there is really nothing new in all that. Rimmer accuses ufologists to comment without awaiting the report, but they cannot, and have every right to comment the big anti-UFO propaganda by the Press. They are the last to be blamed. The 4 ufologists should have published the whole report for everyone, not just to the newspapers and TV, which look just like a personal promotion operation.

A ufologist had this comment which gives the tone well: "The report better has some science in it, otherwise eggs will fly." I do intend to review this when and if it becomes possible.

Others pointed out with accuracy that plasma which now allured the newspapers are like the "marsh gas" that had allured the press a long time ago as claimed explanation of all UFO sightings. In the same manner, the newspapers told without any reservation that "UFOs are just marsh gas!" Actually, certain UFO sightings, i.e. those of low lights in the night, sometimes were caused by gas marsh, but to end all UFO matters with this was just stupid. The same applies to plasma. Worse, some reports that are actually belong to ufology wrongfully land in the "ball lightning" category!

On the other end, inevitably, there will be a small number of ufologists who will claim that the report is a disinformation operation orchestrated by the "Government" to deny UFOs. But that does not make sense. To dissimulate something, one does not make any fuss about it, not even to deny it. One does not speak about it at all, quite simply. Others will see in the journalistic craze a "misinformation campaign." It is the case. But they will see an organized, concerted misinformation campaign, decided "from above". That does not make sense; newspapers are, depending of the modes or moods, favorable or unfavorable on the subject of UFOs: what interests them is to gather attention to increase their profit. What gathers attention are simple and striking things: "UFOS finally explained!" does the trick just as "Alien spaceship seen!" That is all over the newspapers. Also, they all copy one another on big topics: a Press agency sells news, newspapers subscribed to their service and reproduce it, with some sensationalistic headline of their own. Various sensational headlines for the same article.

It should be noted that the 4 ufologists do not seem to agree entirely with the report. Joe McGonagle said that on TV. Gary Anthony said at the TV that there were "contradictions" in the report. And David Clarke said at the TV that "UFOS exist" - whatever this means to him.

Questions and answers on Condign:

Is this "Condign" report an newer equivalent of the "Condon" report?

No. The author of the report specifies that the similarity of the names is mere coincidence. But also, the Condon report was, at least in theory, a public civilian research effort, not a secret research under military secrecy. Condign is thus closer to CIA's 1953 "Robertson panel" report than of the Condon report. A possible common point between the two stories can be that the press interprets the conclusions as negative and does not read the body of the report, and does not make any efforts towards a critical look on all that; but for Condign, this has been the case only for 2 days when I write these lines and it may happen that at least some journalists find other opinions to provide or publish in the near future.

And finally, the goal of the "Condon" report was to determine if science could benefit from studying UFO reports, while the goal of Condign was to determine if there are Defense concerns related to UFO sightings, and if they are a danger to pilots. In both cases, "the objective" is largely lost in the course of the study and these reports take a taint of "we did not find any proof that aliens ever visited us, thus, they never visited us", but the starting points of are not the same.

Was this Condign report released within the framework of a policy of public information on the UFOS from the British Ministry of Defense?

Only apparently so. The Mod announced the publication for May 15, but nothing indicates that it is a spontaneous gesture. Initially, 4 ufologists grabbed the report with difficulty, because the freedom of information law in the United Kingdom requires that the applicant indicates which document he wants to obtain. It was thus difficult to obtain it because its very existence was only a guess, a suspicion by the 4 ufologists. They thought that the public "UFO Desk" at the MoD was merely a public relation office that did not actually undertake UFO research, and they wanted to make a point of that by proving that there existed a "true" UFO research elsewhere than at the public UFO Desk. This is what they ended up finding. The motive of their research is that the 4 ufologists have developed detestation for Nick Pope, the former public UFO Desk person, who defends the thesis of extraterrestrial visitors. They estimate that Nick Pope gives a false impression of the importance of this Desk, and wanted to prove that the "true" UFO stuff happened behind his back. Nothing makes it certain that the MoD would have spontaneously delivered the document if they had not made this search.

But are there no UFO reports that can be explained by ball lightning?

You will have a hard time finding reports of witnesses saying "I saw an alien spaceship" to which ball lightning is a good explanation. At the end of my article on this subject, I provide a catalogue of testimony of ball lightning, you will see that ball lightning witnesses do not say "I saw an alien spaceship" or "I saw a UFO", they say "I saw ball lightning" or "what was it I saw?" Ball lightning and alien spaceship are completely discernible in nearly all reports. People who saw ball lighting, whatever their interpretation was, when they gave one, purely and simply provide accurate descriptions of ball lightning, not aliens or spaceship stories.

Earthlights are a little different. They have typically a longer duration than ball lightning and can "manoeuver" (in a random manner, they do not follow people or aircraft). But they are not structured things, they are luminescent shapes.

How do you know that the science in the Condign report is incorrect without having read it?

Because the cited extracts in the Press show so. If the press does not invent these citations, then they do indicate bad science, not original science but rehash of the bad science by Philip Klass and Michael Persinger.

If and when the report is published, and if by some miracle there were good science inside, I would not fail to let it be known.

It is even possible that there are very interesting parts in the report, but certainly not those that claim to explain UFO reports as plasma.

The table of content does show that there is no novel explanation in the report.

Who wrote the Condign report?

His/her name is not given. I think that the author is some unspecified "UFO-skeptic", a little as if any Ministry if Defense of any country asked some "skeptic" of their country to put out a report on UFOs.

It is not a scientific project in the usual sense. There are no contradictory opinions, no reviewing panel, etc.

The report does not say that all UFOs are plasma. They gives also the other commonplace explanations.

It is perhaps true, but what the press tells - it is necessary to await the real publication of the report to check this - it is that according to this report, "most" UFO reports are caused by plasma. This is BS, BS from the Press, and probably BS that really appears in the report, since an extract of the report saying "most" UFO reports are caused by plasma is quoted by the newspapers.

Why on earth should a ufologist have any interest in a report which claims that UFOs don't exist, if his opinion is that come UFOs are ET?

Because the report, which depending on the sources is 400 or 460 pages, might contain UFO sighting reports that contradict its own negative conclusion. This was the case with the Condon report. Although Condon investigated many "easy" cases and many cases that were already explained by commonplace causes instead of choosing only good reports that were not explained yet, it contains in proportion a record of interesting case, cases that they concluded as "unless new facts emerge, that must have been an alien spaceship" or "this case is surely some natural phenomenon never seen before and never seen since and remains unexplained."

Doesn't all that prove that the "UFO conspiracy" theories are wrong?

I does not.

Let us suppose for example that a country like the United States or the United Kingdom recovers an extraterrestrial flying saucer. Well, in no case would the management of that be entrusted to a whole army, or "allied" countries informed, nor would it be handed over to a vast existing service such as "the Air Force" or "the Government". That would become the business of a group entirely separated from the other services, partitioned, such as for example the U2 lane development and use, or the Manhattan project, which developed the atom bomb in complete secrecy. If there had been witnesses of the recovery of an alien spaceship, there would have been an immediate denial, and actions so that the case appears explained. The witnesses would have been bought or intimidated, or worse, but "those who know" would try to limit the damage by not saying a word again on the matter. The "need-to-know" would fully apply, and only rumors would perhaps surface, instead of incontrovertible proof.

Of course, stating that such a thing is possible does not mean at all that it is.

But if ET is only a "puff of plasma", why was this report secret?

That cannot obviously be due to the nature of the explanations. None of their explanation is new or unknown to the public, and they all come from the world of civilian ufology.

It is neither because there are confidential data about the radars. These data can be censured easily; the proof of that is that they just did so. To blacken out these data or to withdraw some is not a big deal.

There is a culture for secrecy in the military anyways.

At the MoD, some think that the simple fact of mentioning UFOs gives credit to the thesis of the extraterrestrial visitors and they do not want that to happen.

I think also that this kind of report was properly there firstly to tranquilize the military itself, and that they feel well that if ufologists had a chance to read it, they would not fail to expose its inconsistencies.

So British Defense thinks UFOs have no Defense significance.

Yes and no. Military personal are people just like you and me. Some think that UFOs are alien spaceship. Some saw them. Others think that they do not exist.

For example, Nick Pope, which was a civil servant that worked at the "UFO Desk" for the military, is quite favorable to the thesis that some UFO reports are not really explained as anything else than extraterrestrial visitors. For example, a former Minister of the Defense, admiral Hill-Norton, demonstrated at the British Parliament that there is indeed a Defense problem caused by UFOs: concerning the UFO incident at the Rendlesham military installations in 1980, he argued that either the UFO existed and it was nothing ordinary and relevant for Defense, or the military witnesses have gone mad or incompetent; in both cases, this is a problem for Defense.

As for the Condign report, it concludes that there is no problem for Defense because UFOs are not hostile, no matter what they are, I also see that they are not "hostile" in the military sense of the term. But the Condign report also says that they represent a danger for the pilots since they can "distract" them.

The British military agree with Condon: there is no scientific payload in studying UFO reports.

It does not seem so: they say UFOs are plasma and that studying plasma may result in discoveries applicable to the research and development of plasma weaponry!

Condon was contradictory on the question of the scientific benefit or absence thereof. At the beginning of the conclusion, he says there is no benefit to expect. Somewhere else, he says that there are benefits to expects in various area such as meteorology. At the end of the conclusion, after having said that students interested in UFOs must be discouraged, he says that if scientists want to study UFOs all the same, they should be encouraged. Unfortunately, not only has the majority of people not read the report entirely, but most people did not read Condon's conclusion in entirety...

The report is now out there!

On May 15, MoD published the report. I read it. Here are my comments:

UFOs that go bang!
The UFO at Petit-Réchain.

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This page was last updated on May 18, 2006.