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The Anomalist

February 6

Folks have been up in the air "under" the high-altitude balloon that's wended its way eastwards over the U.S. Jack Crowe has the basic details of the odyssey and a snapshot of its denouement. Of course, anything aerial that mystifies, even momentarily, may be grist for UFO commentary, and The Atlantic's Marina Koren obliges with The Chinese Balloon and the Disappointing Reality of UFOs. Some factual weaknesses, simplifications, and off-point foci rather diminish the point-of-view. Matthew Gault and Jason Koebler offer their own viewpoints about What the Chinese Spy Balloon Has to Do With the Pentagon's UFO Obsession. The authors offer more factual details, focusing on the practical implications of the possible "stunt flight." Similarly, New York Times writers Julian E. Barnes and Edward Wong only mention "unidentified aerial phenomena" twice and in the "generic" sense in their Classified U.S. Report Highlights Foreign Power Aerial Spying With Advanced Tech. Those last two words underscore "what appeared to be unknown cutting-edge technology" that the "2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" admitted some cases indicated. Kevin Randle has harsh words regarding the Chinese Spy Balloon - Their Version of Project Mogul. He also attacks the "Roswell" explanation in Marina Koren's article. And the whole matter has Robert Bartholomew prophesying Why the Chinese Spy Scare Could Trigger a Rash of UFO Reports. We'll see. (WM)

Recently there was a bit of excitement on the shores of Assateague Island, which runs between Virginia and Maryland. A rare Atlantic sturgeon measuring about 37 inches washed up on the beach, and caused quite the stir except among the shorebirds who wanted nothing to do with the bony plated armor of the beastie. Imagine if it had been a full grown sturgeon—they can grow to 14 feet and weigh close to half a ton. That would have spawned some interesting tales, just like The 1880s Diver Incident - Evolution of a Story. It seems a professional diver was employed to help raise up a wreck in Loch Ness but instead of fulfilling the terms of his contract, he signaled his team to pull him from the dark waters.  Refusing to ever dive there again, he claimed he had encountered something near the wreck, strange enough and large enough that he was willing to put his career on the line in order to avoid a repeat experience. With fodder like this, the story took hold and grew, meaning that whatever was calling the loch its home that day was lost in a furor of heresay and embellishment. (CM)

Forget those Hollywood movies like The Clan of the Cave Bear. Ofri Ilany has some surprising results from the recent genetic work by 2022 Nobel Prize for Medicine laureate Svante Paabo. Paabo calls for rethinking just what it means to be "human." Continuing on Neanderthal news, Ruth Schuster serves up The Neanderthals and the Mystery of the Missing Zinc. This conundrum has several competing possible explanations, and itself might help explain why "mean animal size in archaeological sites has decreased by more than 98 percent (!) in the last 1.5 million years." A much more recent discovery has Candida Moss asking Why Is an Ancient Egyptian Mass Grave of Dogs 'Stumping Archaeologists'? Moss describes the "amazing discovery," consults an MIT expert on proper archaeological practice in such cases, and relays speculations about the find's meaning. And Viktor Elias tells how Missing Ancient Greek Inscriptions [Are] Solved by Artificial Intelligence. AI "fills in the blanks" (lacunae) in damaged texts generally more accurately and much faster than unaided human attempts, and combining the two tactics has wide application for other ancient languages. (WM)

February 5

Small Comets Abbott's Almanac
William Abbott reminds us that around the first of February 41 years ago space physicist Louis A. Frank noticed that "black spots" were appearing in the new images of the Earth from the Dynamics Explorer satellite. He eventually concluded that they were produced by water vapor remaining from the disintegration of small comets into the Earth's atmosphere. This discovery was confirmed when the same black spots appeared in different imagers aboard a subsequent satellite named Polar. The frequency of these spots would drop to almost nothing year after year, abruptly about the middle of November, and wouldn’t start to pick up until after the middle of January, in Groundhog Day fashion. Abbott noticed that the University of Iowa, where Frank spent his entire career, has shamefully deleted any mention of his discovery of small comets from his CV and obituary. So the whole story can now only be found in his posthumously published book, Cosmic Rain (Anomalist Books). (PH)

The Rendlesham Mess UFO Conjectures
Rich Reynolds comments sensibly on "legendary," even "mythical" accretions to the basic data of an iconic case. He and Commenter Tim Hebert consider how "smart" one ufologist is by "playing the middle" in this instance. Hat tip to Rich for Tim's An Analysis of a Recent MUFON Case: Applying Subjective and Objective Criteria. This very interesting breakdown becomes grist for Rich's mill in Tim Herbert's MUFON Report As Our Process Would Rework It. Note that the report was apparently a "fresh" one when submitted, and not altered by time-and its-related effects upon memory. Rich and Tim comment upon Rich's analysis and purpose. And Rich performs A Search for Substantive Information (Not Statistical Data) inside UFO Reports (Tales and Accounts). Rich and Tim et al. converse on how computer programming for psychometric evaluations can be useful, perhaps not "for several hundred cases or accounts," but maybe for certain specific ones. (WM)

February 4

Just last week The Anomalist talked about the enlistment of artificial intelligence in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and apparently mainstream media was priming the pump for this surprising announcement. From ScienceAlert to Motherboard Vice, it's big news and Danny Price is among the first to spill the beans, but also some cold water, on this startling development. Dig the press release from the SETI Institute, courtesy of Rebecca McDonald, getting into the nuts and bolts of the question, "Will Machine Learning Help Us Find Extraterrestrial Life? Which brings us to The Sun where Callie Patteson brings us Inside The New Probe Into The 1977 Wow! Signal That Is Believed To Be A Two-Minute Message From Aliens and why scientists are pushing to continue searching for that signal, or similar signals, in the near future. (CS)

In case you missed it, Beechworth Asylum is the site of one of the latest viral ghost photos but Hayley Stevens is far from being impressed by the snap. "B-but Hayley, m'lady, we can see through the phantom!" you whine, but Hayley susses out the likely chicanery afoot here. Considering Ms Steven's keen intellect, we think she'd team up well with Anomalist Books author Michael Mayes investigating The Kindly Phantom Of Wilson Creek. While Hayley might know about alien big cats, Mike's bread and butter, here's a crazy tale of a ghostly bigfoot doing a solid for a cowboy one rainy night. Cranking up the weird, this queer spirit might be indebted to the cowboy's family as well. (CS)

While mystery balloons and swarms of drones made headlines, ultimately they're of prosaic provenance. According to Tim McMillan the activity over Mauna Kea may, or may not, be anomalous. The Subaru-Asahi telescope star camera has been spotting strange lights and phenomenon over the grand volcano where it sits, and Tim shares these anomalies along with their potential explanations. In light of this, we can only pass along the late Jack Horkheimer's evergreen exhortation, "Keep looking up!" (CS)

February 3

"Mind-Blowing" indeed is a conclusion that human ancestors made and used obsidian tools half a million years previous to accepted thought. Becky Ferreira has the summary and a link to the academic paper announcing this development. If you've not read Laura Geggel's list of 10 Amazing Things We Learned about Our Human Ancestors in 2022, you should. Several of these items were at least "new" to us. Also "new" is Ruth Schuster's announcement that Archaeologists Report Collection of Animal Skulls by Neanderthals in Spain. It's another excellent article combining traditional archaeology, modern tools and techniques, and good ol' informed speculation. Speaking of, come to Philip Coppens' Old Europe. Even more recent, yet still remote, eras hide their mysteries and invite theorizing challenging that of the very Old Archaeological Guard. (WM)

These next two reports are something to puzzle over as their subjects are either highly strange or easily dismissible and there's no way to know from the information that's readily available. The first is out of Russia where a statue of a crouching angel was evidently unearthed in a mine. A member of the crew posted online that it emitted a strange vibration and speculated it had mysterious origins. But the mine supervisor has clamped down on that claim, insisting it's a hoax and the angel statue has been sitting around the mine for months since its discovery. Moving on...Here is a Video: Mysterious Artwork Visible From Space Discovered Near Las Vegas. Constructed entirely from rocks, and evidently over a span of time starting in 2017, the piece is of a (human?) face and a yin yang symbol. The artist and their motivation for the artwork is a mystery, and the Bureau of Land Management is abuzz because no one applied for permission to move rocks around and get creative with the landscape. No one asked farmers for permission to use their crops as artistic medium for crop circles either, so they really need to unknot their knickers and enjoy the weirdness. (CM)

A circum-weekend look at some problems with interpreting "UFO photography." We're with a doubter on this one, a classic case where purportedly someone tries something new and it's gone viral without expert review. Then we have the title Spaceship of 'Non-human Origin' Spotted near US-Mexico Border: UFO Expert. We're confused here; apparently CGI was used the better to enhance an authentic "iconic" image? Thanks to Reuters, a Fact Check-Clip of Planes Pursuing Flying Spheroid Was Created by Visual Effects Artist. Here the "Verdict" is that the whole thing was created. And can you define "Pareidolia"? No, it's not a C.S. Lewis novel; NASA Spies Martian Rocks That Look Just Like a Teddy Bear. A commenter to Brandon Specktor's article is reminded of Michael Bond's Paddington Bear series, as depicted by Peggy Fortnum et al. Fun in this case, but historically a central problem in ufology. (WM)

February 2

We begin with claims from a recent Weaponized podcast about the 2019 Naval "buzzings." The Naval imagery on these overflights admittedly hasn't been "first class," which brings up the Forbes article Why Are UFOs Still Blurry? A Conversation With David Brin. Not sure Calum Chace's article answers that conundrum completely, but in it we learn about "Brin's Corollary to Moore's Law," a great deal about Brin's interesting NASA work, and lots regarding his various fiction and non-fiction books. Back to the active news as a UFO Expert Shares Stunning Details about Alleged 1945 Alien Encounter before Roswell. Nick Pope has hitched himself to the Jacques Vallee-Paola Harris Trinity book's wagon and Vallee's recent hints that their work got the start date for a required DoD overview moved two years before 1947 and Roswell. Kevin Randle has much more to say about that Trinity UFO Crash, UAPs and Jacques Vallee. He and his discussants cover much of the controversy. (WM)

The human mind has a strange and sometimes dangerous landscape, as demonstrated by today's stories. In what was likely an attempt to avoid a family dispute, a woman used her Instagram account to phish for women who looked very similar to herself. When she finally got the bite she was looking for, she promptly met the unsuspecting victim and murdered her, making it appear that she herself had died. Some people will go to any length to avoid apologizing. And then there are Tulpas: Creating Dangerous Creatures That Are Born Out of Our Minds. When enough individuals become focused on the same twisted thought, things start happening. Internet creations like Slenderman become real. Nightmares begin living in our basements that are far worse than mould. It's the law of attraction gone dark. (CM)

If you haven't heard/seen this spectacular sight of what looks more like a giant "ET-ear" than an "ET-container," CNN's got a short video and explanation for you. Tim Binnall offers what look more like Odd 'UFO' Clouds Spotted Over Central Texas. At least folks of all ages in The City of New Braunfels made that association. And people in our 50th state wondered the same as a Mysterious 'Whirlpool' Appears in the Night Sky above Hawaii. The BBC has some nice time-lapse photography of this marvel. And closer to Earth (actually water!), Mysterious Whiting Events in the Ocean Have Scientists Baffled. BGR Science's Joshua Hawkins says "[S]ome possible theories are floating around" for these strange and ballooning blossoms of calcium carbonate, but definitions don't easily emerge for the florescences. One wonders, given the recent burgeoning of the whitish patches "that appear in our oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water around the world," just how long this has been going on and if humans somehow could contribute to periodic mollusk "die-offs." (WM)

February 1

Studying fans and lore about even mechanical things like, say, automobiles can be fascinating in itself as well as helpful "practically speaking." With ufology, it goes on steroids. Charlotte Hawes gives us prophecies, favorite landmarks, some standard UFO-related memes, conspiracy theories, and coincidences to start off yet another "turning point" year. And more opportunities surround this article that "Mirrors" portions of the human imagination. Things get more serious (and personal) as a Missouri Man Witnessing 3 Cigar-shaped UFOs Was Observed by Humanoids Like He Was an Insect in a Jar. A purported 1987 event has listeners pondering. Even folks whose business involves being stared at can have unnerving encounters, for Miley Cyrus Claims She "Was Chased Down" by a UFO. Best Life entertainment and culture writer Karen Fratti relates a 2020 Cyrus interview and names names of numerous other stars who claim, well, encounters with the "Stars." Continuing that appropriately Far Out theme—and perhaps for the older set among us—film writer Arun Starkey gives us Five Movie Stars Who Claim to Have Seen UFOs. (WM)

First up is a statistical study looking at Bigfoot sightings across all of Canada and the US. The conclusion of the study is that most Bigfoot sightings are actually black bears, which seems a careless conclusion given no one has ever described Bigfoot with little fuzzy ears or a big hairy butt. Clearly whoever conducted the bear research has never actually encountered a bear; I have. This next report should make uneasy hikers feel safer in the woods though. Since we know Bigfoot isn't the only one who makes shelters out of sticks, we're willing to entertain this rather amusing report where a Teacher Explains Why There Are Often Dens Made Out of Large Sticks in Forests. It's all rather tongue in cheek, so you're in for a bit of a giggle as well as some food for thought. (CM)

First 2023 sightings South of the Border begin with what seems like a "classic" blimp or dirigible. Hector Escalante says this photo was taken on January 7th. Oscar Sierra states for Costa Rica: Increase in UFO Sightings Forecasted for 2023. When connecting sightings to natural and human-caused calamities whose turmoil affects society, Sierra seems to confuse increased reports with increased numbers of phenomena whose identification resists competent study. Mexico: UFO Sightings at Mount Popocatepetl illustrates some of these problems. We appreciate the photographer's noncommittal title for her photograph. But what to make of Scarleth Perez' article Mexico: Family Has Allegedly "Lived with UFOs" for 30 Years. From 1987 to 2009 the Falcon-Ochoa family claimed periodic sightings, still allege visitations of sorts, and "scour the skies looking for the aliens they consider friends." (WM)

January 31

Curt Collins begins our trip back into ufology's controversial past with yet another interesting discussion of a relatively poorly-known case. Then we journey Inside the Fascinating World of Valley of The Dawn, The UFO-Based Religion Founded By A Brazilian Truck Driver. The article's View Gallery covers the aesthetics of this remarkable "New UFO Religion," while Erin Kelly's text makes one want to learn more about its history. Next Tanner F. Boyle relates another kind of enthusiasm in It's Always Sunny in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Pt. 1. Boyle's subject is the "Gulf Breeze Six" soldiers who in 1990 went AWOL from their Augsburg, Germany, intelligence posts on a religious mission. The already-involved story gets even stranger in It's Always Sunny in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Pt. 2. Tanner F. Boyle's subtitle "Ed Walters (Possible Antichrist) Photographs a UFO & Battles Its Crew" adds an even more famously contentious element to the developing odyssey. More to Come! (WM)

The collection of data in paranormal or psychical research is a tricky endeavor because the ways do not always justify the means. This first article points out what should be obvious to any true researcher: If we have to rely on falsehoods to create the environment wherein data is collected, can we really claim to have learned anything true? Does truth even exist under such circumstances? (The Entity Letters book mentioned in the article was written by Jim McClenon and published by Anomalist Books.) This next project may at least partially resolve that issue. Open-Sourced Image Database Provides New Data for Parapsychological Research, and volunteers are needed to qualify the numerous but standardized categories of images. The intention behind this labor intensive project is to provide a consistent baseline whereby remote viewing can be both quantified and qualified. Interested parties can learn more about this opportunity here. (CM)

Sometimes we're reminded of Douglas Adams' "the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys" welcome from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Greg Taylor leads with a virtual tour of the pre-Neolithic site, a comprehensive interview with an excavation veteran, and references to more information. Stephen Luntz says of Gobekli Tepe: Myths of World's Oldest Temple Being An Astronomical Observatory Flourish. Luntz lists several of the more popular theories for the monument's purpose, himself opting for "religious purposes"—though the term "temple" itself might be too restrictive. And we are reminded of Karahan Tepe: The Stunning "Sister" Of Gobekli Tepe Is Just As Mysterious. The pillars in Tom Hale's piece reinforce a fashion proven in the first article's interview to have a wider "spread" in geography and time than most realize. A more compact prehistoric puzzler has two researchers on the horns of a dilemma and asking for help. Tim Binnall's Mysterious Stone Carving Stumps Archaeologists in England has the details as the "Nessglyph" hides its identity in stony silence. (WM)

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