Wednesday, February 11, 2015
"UFO Flaps: An Analysis" by Martin Kottmeyer
I thought the readers of this blog would find his analysis of this aspect of the phenomenon to be as fascinating as I had found it to be which is provocative and as comprehensive as possible. I apologize for the less than perfect formatting but I thought substance superseded style in this case. The Blogger program can be difficult if not impossible at times to correct in terms of it's interpretation of other formatting processes. My thanks to Greg Bishop for his serving as a critical intermediary. I had no idea that anyone other than John Keel had looked deeply into this aspect of what Vallee has called "the physics of information".
Dear Bruce Duensing,
I have in recent days been pondering the February 3, 2015 podcast you did with Greg Bishop posted on the Radio Misterioso. I looked at the youtube copy of John Keel’s 1992 speech about ufos and fortean phenomena being prominent in pivotal moments of history mentioned during the conversation. The Flap problem has been a personal interest of mine and I have done a series of writings on the subject trying to tighten up the argument that flaps are caused either in whole or in part by social forces.
As there are some parallels in what you were talking about and what I’ve been thinking about, I’d like to offer a brief summary of some observations and thoughts of my work and recent thinking. First off, I consider the proximity of certain flaps to a class of major historical upheavals a matter of undeniable significance. The 1957 wave whose peak includes a day of the most ufo reports ever received by Blue Book, happens shortly after the launch of Sputnik and the start of the Space Race. The 1965 Wave happens in the wake of the first major failure of the first ground combat mission in Vietnam and the institution of the Draft. The Watts riot also flares during the flap and seems to create a secondary pulse of activity. The Swamp Gas flap happens in the wake of a second Watts riot and the first anti-American demonstrations in Hue and Danang in Vietnam. The 1973 flap coincides with Spiro Agnew being booted from office and offering fuel to Watergate as a national debacle. I can also add that the ups and downs of ufo activity in the 1965-68 period seems to correlate pretty well with whether the Vietnam War is going badly or going well. Bad news generates ufos – good news or distractions from bad news about America seems to cause numbers to drop.
The 1947 and 1952 Waves tends to be the problem. They don’t really seem to happen during significant crises. Over time, I’ve come to think the waves are rooted in emotions created by the events directly associated with the myth as existing at the time. The 1952 Wave involves objects supposedly threatening the seat of government authority. Rumors at the start of the wave had gained prominence which strongly pointed to saucers being Soviet craft. Then when ufos were successfully invading the airspace of D.C. and aspects of the response were perceived as both inadequate and maybe even pathetic this may have injected the emotions of threat and paranoia that were enough to fuel the flap independent of any historical backdrop. That leaves 1947. It is entirely possible that this is spawned by sheer novelty, flying saucers if real were moving at record-breaking speeds and represented a technological breakthrough on par with the novelties of WW2. However, there could be emotional fuel in the rise of hysterical anti-communism and loyalty-tests in the months preceding. Whether one should view these earlier events as pivotal history is problematic, but at least they can be justified as relevant if the common element in these historical drivers is not crisis and stress, but paranoia and delusional threat driven by ego threats involving shame.
In the past decades I’ve been able to find some evidence that shame is the driver in the fact that events like the Katrina debacle and Abu Ghraib are accompanied by elevated ufo reporting, but 9-11 and the initial patriotism of the Iraq War were accompanied by depressed ufo reporting.
I am attaching a document that includes both the initial presentation of the argument followed by notes on various materials I’ve encountered subsequently. I hope this proves helpful in your own theorizing about flaps.
First version appeared as
“UFO Flaps: An Analysis – The Alexander Imich Award Winning UFO Essay” in
The Anomalist #3, Winter 1995/96, pp. 64-89.
Rewritten and submitted to Story Encyclopedia Project with Wave charts August 28, 2000
revised again May 1, 2002 and subsequently
FLAPs - Periods of time when reports of ufo amass at well above average rates are variously termed 'flaps' or 'waves.' Both terms possess connotative prejudgments. Waves suggest a natural semi-rhythmic phenomenon or the arrival of masses of people, as in the waves of an invasion or waves of immigration. Capt. Edward Ruppelt of Project Blue Book defined flaps as "a condition or situation, or state of being of a group characterized by an advanced degree of confusion that has not yet reached panic proportions" and is thus diagnosing a psychology problem, a crazy time. (Ruppelt, 1956) The presence of two terms to denote these times of accelerated ufo reporting behavior reflect the absence of consensus in ufology's attempts to understand what is behind the simple arithmetical truth that ufo numbers change rather than remain constant over time.
It is not immediately obvious why the UFO phenomenon should not be a more or less constant occurrence over time whether one regards them as real or illusory. If they were alien transports connected with a survey of the planet or a study of mankind, the natural expectation would be that their presence should be methodical and unceasing. If they were accidents of circumstance or cognitive error, one would expect their occurrences to be fairly stable across time in a manner similar to the way traffic accidents remain numerically stable from year to year without showing periods of several-fold increases
THE FIRST THEORY
The earliest forms of the Reconnaissance Theory of flying saucers only had to account for the 1947 wave of sightings. Given the extraordinary development of the atomic bomb a couple years earlier, it was somewhat natural to wonder if the equally new phenomenon of flying saucers was somehow connected. The idea was taken seriously in government intelligence circles; at least seriously enough to set up a UFO reporting net in the region of the Eniwetok bomb test. It failed to turn up anything. (Gross, 1986) Donald Keyhoe was a prominent spokesman for this theory and expanded on it with attempts to offer additional evidence in support of it. He observes there had been "a steadily increasing survey after our atomic bomb explosions in New Mexico, Japan, Bikini, and Eniwetok," and a second burst of activity after explosions in Soviet Russia. Attention was focused on the U.S. since it was "the present leader in atomic weapons." (Keyhoe, 1950)
These observations however do not bear scrutiny. The June-July 1947 wave did not coincide with any bomb test. The first Soviet A-bomb was exploded on August 29, 1949 and revealed to the world three weeks later. Yet ufo numbers are seen declining consistently from July to October 1949 and the only thing resembling a surge does not take place until March 1950. The concentration of ufos in the U.S. was true for 1947, but 1954 ufo reports were concentrated in France and still later waves were focused in Spain and Latin America; places that have never been in the forefront of nuclear developments. In February 1951 Keyhoe predicted there would be an upswing in ufo activity in the spring of 1951 due to scheduled atomic bomb tests near Las Vegas, Nevada. Ufo historian Loren Gross has already pointed out the period happened to be the quietest on record. (Gross, 1983) The belief that the first waves of ufos involved the monitoring of atomic bomb developments persists to the present day; as one can see in Raymond Fowler's book The Watchers (1990) But it rests on no reasoned argument and can point to no successes, either in prediction or interpreting any of the waves since 1947.
THE MARTIAN HYPOTHESIS
Around 1952 a new interpretation of waves arose based on the recognition that waves seemed to peak around the time that Mars came closest to the Earth. Researchers in that era favored Mars as the likeliest abode of life and it made some sense that travelers might time their arrivals to conserve fuel. Numerous predictions were offered. In January 1952, Lonzo Dove predicted the arrival of a saucer armada on April 15-16 of that year. Dove claimed success with a photograph of a huge circular cloud 30 miles across that he took on April 16th. (Dove, 1953) The UFO numbers in the Blue Book files, however, tell a different story. There were only 3 ufo reports for the 15th, four for the 16th, and six on the 17th. Though this is trivially better than the numbers in March, it is pretty small for an armada and not very impressive placed against July's numbers, which ran in the dozens daily. Edgar Jarrold of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau predicted 1954 and 1956 would be exceptionally heavy and 1953 and 1955 would be fairly light. He called it right for the light periods, but 1954 was exceptionally heavy only in France, and 1956 saw nothing of consequence. (Jarrold, 1953)
Aimé Michel first thought the Martian Hypothesis was confirmed when a prediction he made for a wave in the late summer of 1954 came true. In his second effort he predicted a wave for eastern Europe or the Middle East in October or November 1956. When this was "double refuted," he endorsed the verdict of the Civilian Saucer Intelligence that the Mars correlation failed. (Michel, 1958) Harry Lord of the Tynesdale UFO Society issued a forecast in 1963 utilizing the Mars theory. He predicted flaps for late '62/early '63 (No), early '65 (No), late '67 (Yes), late '69 (No Way!) and a large peak in late '72 (No). (Lord, 1963).
When the Vallee’s looked into the theory in 1962 they would concede, “There is no connection of an obligatory character between the Mars oppositions and the saucer phenomena peaks.” They agreed if one works with data limited to the period 1950 to 1956 one can argue a correlation as strong as one in a thousand against chance existed. Data before 1950, notably the 1947 peak, and the data starting with the Sputnik flap of 1957 however fail to show anything one can call a mechanical correlation. (Vallée’s 1962) Jacques Vallee would later further discredit the theory by pointing out that pre-1947 waves did not conform to the Mars cycle.
Yet another disproof was offered by Charles H. Smiley, Chairman of the Department of Astronomy at brown University who computed 14 ideal minimum energy orbits for transportation from Mars to Earth and Venus to Earth between 1956 and 1965 and determined the likely arrival times plus and minus ten days. He then looked at the number of ufo reports to Blue Book for these periods. They were self-evidently insignificant and corresponded to no flaps. (Smiley, 1967) The space probes to Mars pitched additional dirt on the grave when they showed it to be quite lifeless.
Richard Hall offered a variant that proposed that flaps correlated with Venus, but it was DOA. Ivan Troëng, a Swedish researcher, proposed that saucer activity became highly active ten weeks before Venus reached the closest point in its orbit and Earth intersects the tangent from Venus. He predicted Venus would be sending a peak in the last week of May. He announced vindication pointing to cigar-shaped motherships seen all over Argentina on May 27. Oh, hell! (Troeng 1962)
A number of attempts to predict ufo waves eschew any theoretical justification and simply base themselves on patterns in the data that suggest cyclicity. Keyhoe tried this in his historic article for True. Noting peaks of saucer activity in July 1947 and July 1948, he predicted it would peak again in July 1950. Activity peaked in March that year. (Girard, 1989) Brinsley le Poer Trench (1957) posited the existence of a 2 year cycle and the next peak should be in the “first part of June” of 1957. The peak that year was in November. In December 1971 NICAP reported on the discovery of a five-year cycle and predicted there would a flap in 1972. That year had 152 reports compared to 137 in 1971 and they proclaimed success in bold headlines proclaiming "1972 Upholds Five-Year UFO Cycle." By November 1973, however, NICAP was reminded what a true flap is all about: "First Flap in Six Years Resurrects UFOs as National Controversy."
Jenny Randles spoke of a 21-month cycle in the Pennine area of Great Britain and confidently predicted May/June 1984 would prove to be rather interesting. By her own later account, 1984 saw only 23 ufo cases and the best clustering happened around April 15 and 25. She found these cases rather interesting, while admitting they may be associated with military exercises. Writing in 1986 she acclaims her prediction came true: "I don't know how." (Randles, 1983, 1986)
The most famous cycle theory was a 61-month pattern offered by David Saunders. He claims it led him to predict in advance a 1972 wave in South Africa. (Saunders, 1976) Allan Hendry characterized the South African reports as a minor flurry and not a wave and also questioned the propriety of using Bloecher's 1947 data in Saunders' since it was a special delimited study. When removed from consideration, the remaining data show the baseline collection of 1947 reports in Blue Book's files had only a small swell of numbers inconsonant with a major flap. (Hendry, 1976) There have been a number of efforts to rehabilitate Saunders' work, but the absence of waves in January 1983 and February 1988 spelled an end to its believability. (Partain, 1985)
Or at least should have, but Donald Johnson in 1990 suggested that the February 1988 Knowles family CE-2 was "right on target in terms of time and place" and added that two other cases of major importance happened that same night in Australia and Tasmania. He felt this marked the beginning of a major ufo wave, but pointed to no confirming data. Johnson offered a new prediction that a flap would occur in Guam on April 1993 and Vangard Sciences said they had a fellow in Guam who wondered if any folks would be coming to monitor this flap. (Johnson, 1990)
Undeterred by this seeming failure, on January 8, 2003, he issued a release predicting, “There will be a worldwide UFO wave in the month of March 2003 that will reach its maximum between March 15 and March 25. I am reasonably confident that this wave will involve Northern Europe. Another likely region is the Pacific Ocean, including Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, and possibly the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. I wanted to go on the record now, a full seven weeks before the anticipated peak in UFO activity, before any upswing in reporting starts. A paper outlining my reasons for this prediction will follow.”(Johnson 2003)
Richard Hall, Wendy Connors, and myself expressed feelings this would almost certainly fail. Perversely, the period happened to have the lowest activity of 2003 and on March 21st you get a day with no reports at all - the only day in 2003 where that happened. (Kottmeyer 2003) I have seen no evidence that there was any activity peak specific to Europe. Johnson appears not have presented that paper outlining his reasons for the prediction, but it easy to infer it was a modification of Saunders 61-month cycle theory, adjusted to take account of apparent early arrivals he observed in his 1990 paper. Dick Hall called for Johnson to comment on the apparent disconfirmation of his theory, but there was no reaction published on UFO Updates. (Hall 2003)
Incidentally, the original Saunders theory would have predicted a wave for May 2003, but NUFORC data peaked in September as you can see in this chart. Arrow points to where Johnson predicted a flap should be.
With such failures, hope has faded for a simple mathematical model of mass ufo appearances.
Jacques Vallee looked at the pattern of ufo flaps and theorized it was a schedule of reinforcement like that used by behaviorists to instill irreversible behavior. The pattern of periodicity and unpredictability would help us learn new concepts. This control system allegedly also explains the absence of contact and why the phenomenon misleads us. That would preclude genuine learning. (Vallee, 1975)
This theory is amazingly perverse at even the simplest level. Within behaviorist theory, to be reinforcing, a stimulus must be of a positive, rewarding character. (Ruch & Zimbardo. 1971) It must induce pleasure instead of pain. The overwhelming majority of ufo cases involve fear. (Vallee, 1977; Swiatek-Hudej, 1981; Moravec, 1987) Ufo flaps are usually times of anxiety, confusion, and near-hysteria. During the 1973 wave, mothers kept their children from going to school for fear they might be kidnapped. Clearly, learning in any form is unlikely in such an emotional atmosphere.
The suggestion, usually made in passing, that flaps are a way of desensitizing humanity to their presence, of getting us used to them perhaps in preparation for The Landing, at least gets the emotional valences of ufo experiences right. (Hall, 1988) The manner of presentation, however, is wrong. Desensitization is best accomplished by gradual increases in the intensity of the aversive stimuli. (Skinner, 1974) Appearing in sudden waves and withdrawing for long intervals only favors anxiety and acute fright. (Smelser, 1963)
A more promising line of speculation in the extraterrestrial mode exists in DeLillo and Marx's Tourist Theory of Ufos. They offer as a model the whims of earthly tourism. This year we go Europe; next year the fares to South America look inviting. Maybe a few will brave Africa for a safari in between. Unsystematic but curious gatherings might follow news of Earth-Zoo personnel capturing an unusual specimen of wild humanity. Concerted campaigns by this or that agency competing for business might also yield an occasional bustle of traffic. (Marx & DeLillo, 1979) This is quite ingenious and would seem to be virtually untestable and immune to argument with respect to the numbers. There are, however, broader considerations that work against the theory. The most interesting things in a foreign culture tend to be located in urban settings: their museums, architecture, shops, churches, and shrines. Ufo experiences tend to be in rural settings and the aliens don't debark for tour busses. Souvenir hunting is rarely seen. There's only one or two cases of an alien with a camera.
Gillespie and Prytz (1984) offer a cruder variation in their thoughts about ufo waves. "Flaps stick out like sore thumbs, and can be explained readily by External Intelligence for similar reasons that the Sydney Cricket Ground receives a 'flap' of Sydney-siders on Rugby Grand Final Day - it is a unique place for a certain people at a unique time!" So why were UFOs drawn to Earth and the United States in June/July 1947, July/August 1952, November 1957, August 1965, March/April 1966, and so forth? What made these times uniquely interesting for the aliens? Gillespie and Prytz don't seem ready to say. Instead they complain that those who advocate the idea ufo phenomena are internally-generated haven't explained why these are unique times either "probably because it is in the 'too hard' basket.”
Difficulty is not disproof. The necessity of a psychological and sociological approach is mandated by the fact that nine out of ten ufo reports involve misinterpreted stimuli. This percentage does not alter significantly during flaps or periods of calm. (Ballester-Olmos, 1987) Ufos never outnumber IFO reports in any period. Take away all the unsolved cases, and the IFOs still display the large changes present in the total report population. If extraterrestrial craft are causing flaps, you still need an explanation for why one true report spawns nine false ones. Copycat behavior would be the first possibility, yet IFO cases do not generally seem to be in the proximity of unsolved cases during major flaps. This is particularly troubling in the 1965 wave that seemed to lack national coverage of a major case off which a rash of copycats could work.
Sociological explanations of ufo flaps can be divided into two general categories, which for convenience can be termed 'silly season theories' and 'crisis theories.' Silly season theories build on the premise that news media are a sufficient cause of flaps. The spread of news causes the spread of copycat behavior. The example of the Forkenbrook experiment forms the model of these theories. This hoax for a sociology class demonstrated how a false report could generate so much excitement in a locale that it spawned reports in several neighboring communities, including one from a man who said he had seen the ufo for some two weeks and knew it was going to land. (Klass, 1974)
There is no denying this model has application in certain local flaps. The Socorro case of April 24, 1964 spawned misidentifications of things like aircraft, birds, and a fire in a dump in nearby locales. Yet the Socorro case allegedly got national attention. Why didn't it spawn a nationwide wave of reports? Why didn't the Mantell crash spawn a nationwide flap? Why didn't the Val Johnson case or the Snowflake, Arizona (Travis Walton) case spawn nationwide reactions? These questions are relevant since some silly season theorists put great weight on the assumed effects of single cases that get wide coverage. The Air Force cited the Levelland Whatnik as the primary cause of the November 1957 wave. (Strentz, 1982) This is plausible if one regards the slowly elevating numbers of mid and late October as not a true beginning of the flap, but a more or less irrelevant flurry that would have been disregarded if the post-Levelland spike had not appeared.
Herbert Hackett indicates the week of the 1947 flap was "a slow week from an editor's viewpoint" and he felt the newspapers milked the story by continually repeating the Kenneth Arnold flying saucer story with different experts consulted for their opinions. Hackett (1948) regarded Air Force denials as a paradoxical reinforcement of the concept. He gives a tally of the amount of space given to the story in the Los Angeles times each day, presumably to offer some measure of the amount of reinforcement they gave. It is curious to note that if one juxtaposes Hackett's tally to a tally of ufo report numbers from the Los Angeles area the effect of media is not compelling. One half of the reports occur before the story ever reaches Page One, and by July 10th there are no ufos reported, even though it was still on the front page the day before. (Gross, 1976) This finding parallels remarks by John Keel (1969/89) and Richard Hall (1988) that media coverage often seems to lag behind the increase in ufo numbers rather than precede it.
The reason for this can be discovered in Herbert Strentz's analysis of ufo journalism. Strentz posits the creating a flap is a "lowering of barriers" that newsmen set up before they will put a ufo report in their paper. Strentz is not clear what creates that drop in standards. But data in questionnaires he gathered provide a rather clear answer. The major reason given for reporting ufos is an increase in the number of ufo reports! Coverage is obviously going to lag events and not initiate them if this is true. (Strentz, 1982)
The relevance of slow news days to lowering barriers is hard to sustain upon critical reflection. Kenneth Arnold's report of a new craft travelling at 1200 miles per hour was a sensation for its time and would have merited coverage in any period regardless of its doubtful character and lack of corroboration. Flaps have happened in conjunction with major news events like the Sputnik furor in 1957. Philip Klass (1974) has suggested the 1973 wave was, in part, a reaction to a late-summer doldrums following the sordid disclosures of the Watergate affair. The ufo reports were printed to lighten things up for a nation weary of the big news that was dominating the front page. What is troublesome in this characterization of the period is that the 1973 reached its peak simultaneously with the Saturday night Massacre which unleashed a flood of negative sentiment, described by others as a fevered rage that swept the nation. (Lukas, 1976)
Klass devotes a chapter of Ufos Explained (1974) to an extended tracing of the effects of media on ufo numbers. His reconstruction is impressive and seductive, but suffers from many difficulties when subjected to close scrutiny. A modest surge of reports in 1950 is tied to the publication of Donald Keyhoe's book The Flying Saucers Are Real, but nothing is said of the article in True magazine that spawned the book. This was one of the most widely discussed articles of its time. Prominent newsmen like Walter Winchell and Frank Edwards did items on it. The Associated Press carried quotes from it. (Gross, 1983) A look at the daily ufo numbers for late December 1949 and January 1950 are astonishing for their total lack of a reaction. (Kottmeyer, 2004)
Klass observes that ufo reports skyrocketed the same month that Life featured a major story titled "Have We Visitors from Outer Space?" More articles in Look and Life were published in June 1952 and yielded a ten-fold increase for that month. Years earlier, Blue Book investigators looked at the daily tallies, however, and were not convinced there was relationship. A brief increase was noted after the April 4 release of Life, but numbers seemed basically the same before as after. (Jacobs, 1975) The tally dropped to zero on the 8th and the bulk of the reports pop up two weeks after the article. The June 17, 1952 Look article was a debunking piece by Donald Menzel who wrote off the phenomenon as a bunch of mirages. Shouldn't this have decreased numbers? (Kottmeyer, 2003)
Klass skips lightly over the 1957 wave and ignores the July/August 1965 wave entirely because the media did not show much interest in ufos till the swamp gas flap of 1966. This flap is not tackled either, but it set in motion Congressional action and led to six books being published in 1966 and ten books in 1967. "The Invaders" TV series also appears in January 1967. This increased media attention is held to account for a high total of 937 ufo reports in 1967. What is left unsaid is that this represents a decrease from the 1966 total of 1060 reports. Peak media coverage once again lags behind peak ufo numbers.
Hans van Kampen offers a subtle variant of the silly season theory in a 1978 article that relates the story of people seeing a panda that the media said had wandered out of zoo. Unbeknownst to everyone, the panda was found dead just as the story went out. Van Kampen felt this flap of panda sightings indicated that human curiosity and sympathetic sharing of feelings was involved. (van Kampen, 1979) Do such factors underlie ufo flaps?
Curiosity about ufos fortunately has a way of being measured. For a period in 1965 and 1966 there exists a tally of letters to the Pentagon by people making queries about ufos. Often they are youngsters writing public school essays. (Lear, 1966) Overlap this tally of queries on a chart of ufo numbers and one quickly sees they do not match to a significant degree. Interestingly the queries do peak the same month that Life, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report did stories on the swamp gas debacle, but ufo numbers were already falling. The factor of sympathetic feelings is potentially correct, but not as easy to test or verify. Given the failure of so many seemingly common sense notions about ufos, however, it is perhaps best to suspend judgement about that factor.
Menzel (1963) has suggested the 1952 wave was nurtured in part by the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still playing in theatres all spring. He points out that the spaceship in the movie reappeared in many reports during the wave. The movie's initial release actually took place in September 1951. Ufo numbers from August to November run 18-16-24-16, which minimally proves any reaction was neither immediate nor sharply forceful. It is unsurprising in this context that a prediction that Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind would spawn a major flap failed. (Klass, 1977; Hendry, n.d.) A chart of monthly report totals perversely shows a lull throughout the period it was generating major box-office figures. When it leaves the theatres, the numbers start upward in a manner that begs the suggestion the movie somehow suppressed ufo reporting. (Hendry, 1981) It is relevant to add that none of the major ufo flaps coincide with the release of major films of alien invasion genre. This may not forbid the possibility that lesser effects on ufo numbers exist. A look at ufo numbers before and after the release of twenty popular alien invasion films turns up minor increases for fourteen of them. Even if the effect is real, we can still doubt whether this is due to enhanced interest in or attention to aliens, or if the malevolence of movie aliens add a darker tone to the ufo mythos and increases numbers by increasing fear. (Lucaniao, 1988; Kottmeyer, 2005) Paul Meehan has also directed a number of observations critical of Klass’s notion that a quantitative relationship exists between saucer films and ufo reporting. (Meehan, 1998)
We can also add that Paul Ferrughelli did a correlation study of Prime-Time Television events and the frequency of ufo reports in a 36-month period from 1987 to 1989 involving 683 sightings reports. The correlation coefficient calculated from the data was +.086, which was effectively indistinguishable from no causal relationship whatsoever. (Ferrughelli, 1991)
There is another problem with silly season theory. J. Allen Hynek raised it in a memoir of the swamp gas debacle. Why was there so much excitement and hysteria over the incredibly trivial Dexter sightings? The media circus makes no sense from the perspective of newsworthiness. Strentz's news judgement barriers had tumbled in a collective mania of the period. They were clamoring for an authoritative statement from the Air Force on what amounted to some faint lights and a glow in a swamp. They posed no danger. There were no aliens seen. It was less dramatic than dozens of cases seen over the years. Why should this be? Hynek had not a clue and pleaded for sociologists to take a crack at the problem. (Hynek, 1976)
It would be exaggeration to regard silly season theories as refuted by all the above considerations. It may be a more detailed study or some novel perspective might yield more convincing results. According to the Condon report, however, there have other attempts to correlate ufo maxima with waves of press publicity without compelling evidence of a real association. It is hard to escape the sense that there is some missing factor or factors.
REACTIONS TO SCIENCE
The problem that presents itself is figuring out which of the myriad changing aspects of the human environment it is that ufo numbers are responding to. Is it political climates (liberal-conservative, individualism-collectivism, democratic-totalitarian)? Is it war and peace? Is it economic climates? Is it changing styles in the exercise of power? Is it changes in collective perceptions of powerlessness? Is it a response to fluctuating religious-secularist fashions of living? Is it a response to different educational fashions? Are there changes in skepticism and gullibility, cynicism and trust? Are people more sky-oriented and filled with wanderlust in some times more than others?
One interesting stab in the dark was John A Rimmer's guess that for every scientific advance is an equal and opposite mystical reaction. The ghost rockets of 1946 and the saucers of 1947 would thus be a reaction to the introduction of nuclear weapons in 1945. The 1957 Levelland wave would be the obvious reaction of the introduction of space travel represented by the Sputniks the same month. Did the other flaps follow major scientific advances? Was there a reaction associated with the Moonlanding? (Rimmer, 1969) The depressing answers are no and no, despite the poetry of the idea.
One of the venerable mainstays of sociological thought is the concept of crisis as an agent of social change. There is a sizeable literature devoted to crisis cults and how stressful events prompt new interpretations of religious doctrines, visions, and myths. (LaBarre, 1972) Among the axioms of crisis theory is the proposition that crises create the wishes for supernatural solutions? (Stark & Bainbridge, 1987) Ufos can be regarded as supernatural in the official sense that they are forces outside of nature that suspend, alter, and ignore physical forces. Are Ufos a magical reaction to crises? Otto Billig has offered the most extended argument that they are. His application of crisis theory to the data of the ufo phenomenon is probably as close to textbook as can be expected and it cannot be denied that there are facets to his thesis which work. In the specific realm of ufo flaps, however, difficulties are clearly evident. In his usage, the concept of crisis embodies such a wide range of events one is left wondering why we do not see a steady stream of reports instead of the widely separated peaks of activity that are actually present. This is vividly exemplified by Billig's annotations on a chart of Air Force compiled monthly ufo tallies. Periods of crisis cover roughly 67% of the time interval from 1947 and 1969 by his own illustration. Yet only eight percent of this interval shows numbers that could be reasonably termed flaps. (Billig, 1982) Even if we regard crisis not as a primary causal agent, but as a necessary catalytic factor, there is no way to discount the plausibility that these flaps overlap the 67% regions of crisis simply by chance.
Lloyd de Mause's psychohistorical investigations of the fantasy-life of American politics provide a more useful definition of crisis. Utilizing a protocol called fantasy analysis on a mass of historical documents and news stories, de Mause charted a regular sequential change of the perception of the strength and impotence of American leadership. For our purposes we will only look at one of the recurring stages that is specifically perceived as a phase of crisis and collapse. It is identified by a proliferation of emotional metaphors involving fantasies of death and dying. Unnamed poisonous enemies multiply as the group displaces rage outwards. Apocalyptic and millennial overtones are generally present. De Mause's group fantasy definition allows a restriction and demarcation between crises that are merely annoyances and crises that are felt with intense emotion. It has the added virtue of having been constructed independent of any interest in ufos. There would be no question of crises being selected in a manner to skew acceptance of the crisis theory. (De Mause, 1982)
Six group fantasy crises occurred between 1952 and 1977, the period that de Mause limited himself to. They comprise only 18% of this 25-year interval. If all five major national flaps fell into these well-defined bands of crisis, we would have impressive statistical proof of a true relationship. Regrettably, only one wave - 1957 - occurs during these crises and this is no better than chance.
It might be that political crisis is the wrong form of crisis to be looking at. Charles Fair offers a variant restriction of crisis theory that suggests ufo graphs are gauges of collective anxiety corresponding to alignments of power during the Cold War. Thus flaps happen at the times of Dulles' "brinkmanship," the opening phases of the space race, and the entanglement in Vietnam. (Fair, 1974)
There is one killer problem that stares any potential convert of such crisis theories in the face. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 was the single most terrifying event in the twentieth century. Fear of nuclear annihilation was palpable and imminent. If ever an impetus for salvationist fantasy and magical escape existed, it had to be then. We should have seen the biggest ufo flap imaginable. This not only failed to happen, but ufo numbers actually dropped during the crisis.
Billig tries to excuse this incongruity in his application by trying to draw a distinction between crises that focus on specific situations and those that pose a vague threat, which leaves the individual without adequate defenses. The distinction sounds phony since every individual without a fallout shelter had no defense against a nuclear exchange. The wish for aliens to come down and rescue us naturally seems a logical supernatural solution obliged by the axioms of crisis theory. Peter Rogerson (1981) alternately proposed the crisis was over so fast that there was not enough time for a salvationist fantasy to develop. The 1957 wave, however, showed a ten-fold increase in the matter of three days. And, to repeat, the numbers actually went down during the crisis. Surely some kind of increase should have been registered. Such excuses just don't wash to anyone who lived through this collective staredown with death.
Crisis theory probably does not work here because the salvationist impulse does not form the core of the dominant rumor complex about ufos. While the impulse is certainly present in the contactee complex of people like George Adamski and George Hunt Williamson, this is distinct from the beliefs of people like Donald Keyhoe and Coral Lorenzen who saw ufos as spycraft and potential invaders. (Rogerson, 1978/79) It is also distinct from those who felt saucers were secret weapons: the true dominant belief of the Fifties and Sixties in the general public. Most cases speak not of escaping earth and all its sorrows (the John Lennon ufo is a well-known but nearly unique exception to the rule), but express fears of many varieties from being spied upon, being captured, being chased, being contaminated, and being run into.
The suggestion that flaps are a form of collective hysteria seems initially more promising as a way to account for the fears seen in ufo experiences. Mark Rhine in the Condon report and Robert Hall point to certain episodes of mass hysteria or hysterical contagion like the June bug epidemic, the Seattle windshield pitting epidemic, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, wondering if they may serve as explanatory models for what is going on with the ufo phenomenon. Neither takes the idea very far and Hall pointed out several difficulties in comparing these phenomena, probably the most notable being the fleeting character of these model epidemics. (Sagan & Taves, 1974) Michael Swords suggests these models are more properly labeled as anxiety attacks and adds the point that the people involved do not display psychotic symptoms - "they do not add unreal experiences to their beliefs." He firmly denies hysteria or mass psychogenic illness makes any contribution to the great mass of ufo reports and his detailed argument is strongly recommended as a thorough demolition of this line of inquiry. It further warns us that the etiology of flaps will not analogous to neuroses, but psychoses. (Swords, 1984)
Allan Hendry's study of 1158 IFO reports demonstrates conclusively there are important emotional forces connected to the ufo mythos that compromises the objectivity of percipients of ufos. Commonplace stimuli like stars, balloons, and the like are imaginatively reconstructed with unreal traits like domes and the saucer shape. Witnesses are totally sincere and most are eminently articulate even when offering greatly distorted observations. IFO witnesses are found in skilled trade jobs and with both general and specialized education. Competency and the ability to reason critically are not the issues. Emotions and expectations are subverting the perception process. (Hendry, 1979)
Many facets of the ufo mythos are identifiably forms of paranoid ideation. The core belief that aliens are making a reconnaissance of our planet, that, to borrow a title from the Sixties, Flying Saucers are Watching Us, is a collective variant on the common paranoid delusion of observation, the erroneous impression that one is being watched by persecuting others. Allied to this is a large complex of suspicions.
The government knows more than it is telling. It is purposefully misleading the public. It secretly gathers up all important evidence like photos and crashed saucers. The saucers may be secret weapons of America, Russia, and even Nazi scientists. Concerns about invasion, poisoning, irradiation, mind-tampering, doppelgangers, night-doctors, and sexnappings are seen. Myriad fantasies of world destruction have been ubiquitous among both ufologists and experiencers.
Norman Cameron guesses the incidence of paranoid reactions in the general population to be quite high. Transient paranoid misinterpretations may happen to virtually anyone in the right set of circumstances. (Cameron, 1959) In certain individuals paranoid ideation becomes fixed and chronic. Even in these instances, there is no loss of mental competency in most other aspects of their lives. Indeed they may often perform at superior levels. (Rosen & Fox & Gregory, 1972) Paranoia is essentially an intellectual disorder which is strikingly, meticulously logical after the basic emotional axioms are laid in. (Fried & Agassi, 1976) The point is that Hendry's facts about IFO reports are consistent with either transient or chronic paranoia. This allows one to speculate on the origins of the waves of misinterpretation generated by the ufo mythos, for there is no mystery about the origins of paranoiac reactions.
Kenneth Mark Colby has critically reviewed the formulations offered by several researchers for the origin of paranoia and convincingly concluded that only shame and humiliation adequately explained the range of known precipitants of paranoia. Injuries to the ego in such forms as personal slights, job failures, false arrests, accidents, deformities, and sexual defeat exemplify the varied events seen at the beginning of paranoid psychoses. (Colby, n.d.) Underscoring the primacy of personal pride over personal danger is fact that paranoia is more often associated with people experiencing thwarted ambitions than with people holding few expectations in a hazardous environment. (Meissner, 1978) If flaps are being governed by the dynamics of paranoia, we should be asking if they are being generated by episodes of collective shame.
In the case of the major ufo flaps in America, such a question yields good answers. The 1947 wave was obviously triggered by the phrase flying saucer entering the language and the presumption that they represented a superweapon closely analogous to the atomic bomb developed in supersecrecy by the Manhattan Project a couple years earlier. This fed into a hysterical anti-communism that was spawned earlier in 1947, specifically March 12th. On that date Truman addressed a joint session of Congress and spoke in sweeping, apocalyptic terms of communism as an insidious world menace. Those who loved freedom would have to struggle with it at all times and all fronts. Truman quickly set up a federal loyalty review program. One aim of this speech was to garner military aid to support a Greek regime in the throes of a civil war by scaring the hell out of the American people. The aid was granted, but it succeeded too well in scaring people. Norman Thomas was making a trip through California that spring and was amazed at how quickly "hysterical anti-communism swept the state." Historians David Caute and Athan Theoharis confirm this pervasive fear of communism quickly gripped the nation. A poll in 1947 showed 66% of Americans believed the Soviet Union was "aggressive" compared to 38% in 1945. (Boyer, 1994) One of the earliest moves by the government in investigating the flying saucer problem included background checks of those who claimed to have seen saucers to determine if they had communist ties. They didn't. The erosion of basic trust by loyalty tests of Americans could be a key factor in the escalation of paranoia in this period.
The 1952 wave begins with the rising furor of an upcoming steel strike planned by laborers in the steel industry. In that era, steel was a major force in the American economy and an integral part of American national identity. The strike deeply divided the nation because the nation was then fighting a war in Korea and such an action was perceived as a traitorous threat to the strength of the nation. President Truman seized the steel industry to keep the mills running. In due course, however, the courts declared the seizure unconstitutional and the strike began in earnest.
Ufo numbers respond to developments in the steel strike in a convincing manner. Numbers grew up to the time of the seizure and then fell for a time. After the courts ruled and the strike proceeded, UFO numbers began upwards and skyrocket to record proportions, culminating in the frenzy of the Washington National sightings. Three days after the first Washington National sighting the strike was settled. Within a week, the numbers begin to collapse, assisted by an announcement that the D.C. cases were caused by a temperature inversion.
Sputnik was indisputably the central trauma of the Fifties generation and a profound blow to American self-esteem. The U.S. prided itself on being the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. Yankee ingenuity was a term of self-endearment. Sputnik called all this into question. The Russians were the first to orbit a satellite around the Earth and we were not. This event gnawed away at the American psyche such that millions were funneled into the space program over the following decade in a race to put a man on the moon before the Russians and restore self-confidence in our superiority.
A look at the ufo numbers are puzzling at first glance because the peak happens after the launch of Sputnik II, a month after Sputnik I. Shouldn't the Levelland flap follow the initial Sputnik more closely? A memoir of the period by NASA clarifies the paradox. The alarm did not materialize immediately. Planetariums and ham radio operators became more active after the first announcement, but Newsweek correspondents first found "massive indifference" and a vague feeling we had entered a new era. After a week, this bewilderment melted away before a mounting and almost universal furore. Between October 9th and 15th a lot of blaming was going on in Washington D.C. and calls went up for improving education. Successful rocket tests between October 17th and October 23 rd offered hope we were catching up, but then on November 3rd Russia announced the launch of a second even more spectacular sputnik with a dog on board named Laika. (Green & Lomask, 1970) Add into this emotional brew news of an ufo incident in which an ufo caused automobiles to fail and the numbers exploded ten-fold.
Numbers dropped off from the 6th onwards probably because of the whimsical Trasco case, wherein aliens tried to kidnap a guy's dog, an obvious spin on Laika. The Schmidt contact may also have been a factor for authorities quickly proclaimed the man an ex-con. Numbers remain elevated in the ensuing weeks. There is a temporary sharp decline accompanying the explosion of a Vanguard rocket on December 6th and some see that as point against paranoia theory. Yet while this was clearly a humiliation for workers on the Vanguard project and they were treated like they had committed treason, people in general seemed disappointed and depressed. Paranoia is in part a defense against depression and does not manifest itself in the depths of mourning. (Meissner, 1978) It is more usually associated with frenzy and manic thought. The flap resumed briefly in the days that followed, but by late December it was essentially over. The launch of Explorer I on January 31, 1958 was a relief, but ufo numbers were already so low by that date that no further decline was immediately apparent since there were only one to three reports per day. Even so, the total for February was 41, down from January's 61, and potentially indicative of restored pride.
The UFO wave of July-August 1965 coincides with two major events that introduced the nation to two extended nightmares: the Vietnam debacle and the race riots. The first U.S. ground combat operation began on June 28, 1965. While the U.S. had been involved in Vietnam with aerial bombing before this date, the ground combat denoted a new level of development. Unfortunately it quickly turned out that the troops were engaged in a "futile assault." On July 4th, Hanoi repulsed overtures for peace. On July 20th U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Mc Namara reported the situation in Vietnam was deteriorating. On July 28th a troop build-up was announced and draft calls issued. Ufo numbers were virtually flat from January to June, but with July gradual, but erratic increases are unmistakable. A small two-day decline around July 15th coincides with news of Mariner 4 reaching Mars - a brief moment of technological triumph.
The flap reaches a peak on August 4th as the reality of the Draft sinks in, then drops down quickly for a week when the second blow hits. On August 11: the Watts riot. From the 11th to the 16th the Watts suburbs go up in flames when racial tensions erupted. Ufo numbers seem to go up in response for a secondary peak on the 11th and 12th of August. Beginning on August 18-19 and in mid-September successful Vietnam operations at Chulai, Da Nang, and Ankhe are accompanied by declines of ufo numbers and the flap gradually fizzled out.
The swamp gas flap is significantly smaller than the other flaps we are considering here, but we can answer Hynek's question posed earlier. Five days before the Dexter-Hillsdale, on March 15, 1966, a new Watts riot came into the headlines. Ufo numbers that had running flat for weeks amid stories of truces, peace bids, and talk of the Great society, began to surge in response. Then on March 23rd, two days before Hynek's press conference, came the first anti-American demonstrations in Hue and Da Nang. The flap peaked on March 30th and presumably declined for lack of further race riots or anti-American demonstrations. News of Saigon riots and further anti-U.S. outbursts on April 4th was followed the next day by a secondary peak. An anti-U.S. riot in Hue on May 26th and the flaming suicide of a religious figure on May 29th were also accompanied by brief, lesser increases.
Over the months that followed, ufo numbers tended to remain at elevated levels, but visibly fluctuated in response to developments in Vietnam. During a period of record casualties in March 1967, ufos were clearly swarming about. During the Christmas truce and peace proposals of late December 1966, the ufos vanished. A curious proof of the importance of Vietnam War news in modulating ufo numbers came in June 1967. Between June 5th and 10th, Vietnam was completely knocked off the front page by an Arab-Israeli war. For four days straight Blue Book did not receive a single report! This interesting fact, we can add, calls into question Thomas Bearden's linking the 1973 flap with mid-East War tensions. (Bearden, 1980)
Blue Book went out of business at the end of the 1960s and with it ended any conveniently accessible daily tally of ufo numbers. This makes detailed comparison of the 1973 wave with the events of the Watergate crisis. But we can point out that David Jacobs called mid-October the peak period of the flap and this roughly corresponds with Vice President Agnew's resignation on October 10th followed ten days later by the Saturday Night Massacre. (Jacobs, 1975) It unleashed a flood of negative public sentiment and calls for impeachment. This was against a leader who less than a year before had been reelected in a landslide of popular support. (Lukas, 1976)
The ups and downs of national pride also seem to correlate with lesser swings of ufo numbers. News of poverty in Appalachia, charges that Reds had infiltrated the State Department, and some of the desegregation conflicts seem to relate to increases in ufo activity. Conversely when we landed on the moon, when the Reds were retreating during the Korean war, and when Ike went on his "Peace Tour" ufo reports vanished.
The drop of ufos during the Cuban missile crisis, so troubling to crisis theory, is readily understood when one recommends the salient issue is not fear and anxiety, but pride. It was the Soviets who backed down from that face-off, nott America. A drop-off in ufo numbers following the Kennedy assassination, another if lesser conundrum to crisis theory, is fully explicable with the observation on how mourning and melancholy decreases paranoid ideation. (Meissner, 1978)
PROBLEMS AND CONFUSIONS
It must be said that efforts to extend the theory forward to events after 1973 have been disappointingly ambiguous. National pride was clearly present with such events as November 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, the successful 1989 invasion of Panama, and the victorious Persian Gulf War of February 1992. Each of these events can be linked to periods of zero activity in data collected by the National Sighting Research Center. Stretches of zero activity, however, are so common in this data set that one could fairly dismiss the correlation as due to chance.
The television sex scandals of the 1980s seemed a rather blatant episode of collective shame and should have prompted paranoiac reactions among the faithful. In fact, there is unequivocal evidence that they did in the form of satanic rumor panics. One swept North and South Carolina on March 14, 1987, five days before Jimmy Baker finally resigned, and another swept the region of the Alexandria and Baton Rouge ministries of Jimmy Swaggert on April 1, 1988, the week before he was defrocked for sins he confessed to the prior February. (Victor, 1990) Inspection of daily ufo tallies does not show a parallel increase of ufo activity either nationally or in the region of the ministries. One might be tempted to shrug this off by saying ufos would be too secular a way to express paranoia in a religious population, but it gets worse.
The Watts riots of the 1960s seem clearly linked to a spike in ufo activity, but when riots struck Miami in mid-January 1989 and in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict near the end of April 1992, no spike in ufo activity was visible. Post hoc, one can say that only riots in Watts seem linked to ufo spikes and that other race riots in the Sixties generated no response. Perhaps it was special in some way, but why that should be is not is not immediately apparent.
The most puzzling development occurred during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The emotional highpoint seemed to occur in the wake of the confession of wrongdoing by the President in the summer of 1998. Angry discussions of the shame it had brought to the country prompted me to check the National UFO Reporting Center's database for activity. The site's home page remarked "September has been an incredibly active month for ufo reports, including mass sightings of blue-green fireballs across the United States." The next month a message was posted reading, "A UFO wave sweeping the country characterized by mass sightings of spheres and fireballs continued throughout October." In November, the description is upgraded even further: "Our report database (updated Nov 21) continues to document an incredible UFO wave sweeping the country." This description was retained through January 1999. Seemingly this was proof positive of the paranoia theory, but then the number of reports continued increasing well after tempers calmed down. Numbers slowly mount to a peak in the fall of 1999 and then fall from December through the start of the new Millennium. (NUFORC, August 2000) Critics wonder if this was 'really' a flap or if there it was some form of collection artifact of Internet growth - a new link from a popular site bringing in more people or some such development - that just coincidentally started in at the time of the scandal. The situation is thoroughly confusing.
Another issue that draws comment is the absence of Blue Book era sized flaps since 1973. Was there some factor that suppressed the creation of flaps other than pride? This seems plausible in terms of changing perceptions about the nature of the saucer menace. Where the Fifties was dominated by concerns saucers were secret weapons and the Sixties by fears of invasion, the Seventies ushered an era of speculations that ufos were a charade and perhaps harmless. The movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind in particular advanced a vision of aliens as children of light and awe which was a polar opposite to the paranoid fantasies that dominated the prior decades. Such changes would act to reduce fears about what unexplained lights portend and subvert the superego - think parental oversight - aspects of earlier ufology. Obsessions with Roswell and abduction in later years decreased interest in interpreting aerial puzzles in favor of talk about conspiracies and dream interpretation.
While this might seem to render the theory immune to further test until such time as we see a return to enthusiastic belief in reconnaissance and invasion, further work can yet be done in the area of foreign flaps. Was France's Great Martian Panic of 1954 connected to the fall of Dien Bien Phu and the pullout of troops from the IndoChina war? What caused the Latin American Wave of 1965? What of the British Scareships of 1912-13?
Criticisms of paranoia theory have been few and generally obtuse. It has been called unfalsifiable, but a pattern of high ufo activity congruent with events of pride such the Persian Gulf War, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the Moonlanding, the Red retreat of the Korean War, etc. would quickly sink the theory in the eyes of any theorist. A pair of people wondered about the absence of Bullard's 1988 paper on flaps in the discussion. Simply, Bullard did not advance any theory. His paper boils down to the proposition, 'Silly season theory is wrong, ergo ufos are real.' But IFOs are real, too, and he offers no explanation why either changed in frequency when they did. Jerome Clark singles out the explanation of the 1952 wave as "incredible," using the phrase "a hysterical reaction to a steel strike" to describe his understanding of the theory. In fact, mass hysteria was rejected as an explanation of flaps generally in the first presentation of the theory. There are no details on why he feels it doesn't bear consideration. Philip Klass has termed the theory "simplistic" and can show anyone that silly season theory has been common among the skeptical.
That the theory is simplistic is true enough and it is by design. The possibility of multi-factor approaches giving better insight has not been denied, but focused argument on a single factor has advantages over tangled commentaries invoking the interaction of multiple elements. At this stage, some standard elements may not be relevant and it seems best to test the limits of applying this new element before bringing back in excuses for the confusion we have seen in this subject.
The Blue Book data chart 1947-1969
Y axis is number of ufo events per day
Ballester-Olmos, Vicente Juan Characteristics of Close Encounters in Spain Fund for UFO Research, 1987.
Bearden, Thomas The Excalibur Briefing Strawberry Hill, 1980, p. 200.
Billig, Otto Flying Saucers: Magic in the Skies: A Psychohistory Schenkman, 1982.
Boyer, Paul By the Bomb's Early Light University of North Carolina, 1994, pp. 102-3.
Bullard, Thomas E. "Waves" International UFO Reporter, 13, #6 November/December 1988, pp. 15-23.
Cameron, Norman "Paranoid Conditions and Paranoia" in Arieti, Silvano, ed., American Handbook of Psychiatry, Volume One Basic, 1959, pp. 508-39.
Clark, Jerome "UFO Update" UFO Report, August 1978, p. 12
Clark, Jerome "The Anomalist #3 reviewed" MUFON Ufo Journal #334 (February 1996), p. 19
Colby, Kenneth Mark "Appraisal of Four Psychological Theories of Paranoid Phenomena" Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86, #1, pp. 54-9.
Dove, Lonzo "The Mars Explosions and the Flying Saucers," Space Review, 2, #3 July 1953, p. 3.
Fair, Charles The New Nonsense Simon and Schuster, 1974, pp. 154-5.
Ferrughelli, Paul National Sighting Yearbook 1990 National Sighting Research Center, 1991, pp. 23-6.
Fowler, Raymond The Watchers Bantam, 1990, p. 330.
Fried, Yehuda and Agassi, Joseph Paranoia: A Study in Diagnosis D. Reidel, 1976, p. 4.
Gillespie, F.C. and Prytz, John "An Inductive Proof of External Intelligence UFO Theories," UPIAR Research in Progress, 2, #2/3, 1984, pp. 133-48.
Girard, Robert An Early UFO Sourcebook Arcturus Book Service, 1989.
Green, Constance McLaughlin and Lomask, Milton Vanguard: A History NASA, 1970, p. 187.
Gross, Loren "The UFO Wave of 1947: California: June 25-July 16" in Dornbos, Nancy Proceedings of the 1976 CUFOS Conference, CUFOS, 1976, p. 83.
Gross, Loren UFOs: A History: 1949 Arcturus Book Service, 1983, pp. 63-5.
Gross, Loren E. UFOs: A History: September-October 1952 Loren Gross, 1986, p. 58.
Hackett, Herbert :The Flying Saucer: A Manufactured Concept," Sociology and Social Research, 32 May-June 1948, pp. 869-73.
Hall, Richard "Venus as a Ufo Source" UFO Investigator, 1, #6, p. 7.
Hall, Richard Uninvited Guests, Aurora, 1988, pp. 213, 216-7.
Hall, Richard “Don Johnson’s UFO Prediction” UFO Updates, March 30, 2003
Hall, Robert L. "Sociological Perspectives on UFO Reports" in Sagan, Carl and Page, Thornton, eds. UFOs: A Scientific Debate WW Norton, 1974, pp. 213-23.
Hendry, Allan "The Great UFO Flap that Flopped…So Far" International UFO Reporter, n.d. c. 1978
Hendry, Allan, The UFO Handbook Doubleday, 1979, pp. 254-8.
Hendry, Allan letter to Philip Klass, February 11, 1981.
Hynek, J. Allen "Swamp Gas Plus Ten - And Counting" 1976 MUFON Symposium Proceedings, pp. 76-83.
Jacobs, David The UFO Controversy in America Signet, 1975, p. 62
Jarrold, Edgar R. "Spotlight on Australia," Space Review, 2, #3 July 1953, p. 6.
Johnson, Donald "A Revival of the 61-Month Wave Theory" KeelyNet BBS, November 24, 1990 4pp.
Johnson, Donald “C.E.: Worldwide UFO Wave Prediction 03-15-03” UFO Updates, January 8. 2003.
Keel, John "The Flap Phenomenon in the United States," NY Fortean Society reprint from Flying Saucer Review Special Issue #2, June 1969 (1989)
Keyhoe, Donald The Flying Saucers are Real Fawcett, 1950, p. 131.
Klass, Philip UFOs Explained Vintage, 1974, pp., 85-90, 316-29.
Klass, Philip "An Argument Against UFOs" Current, October 177, pp. 18-21, 24-5.
Kottmeyer, Martin Letter Saucer Smear, 50, #3; March 10, 2003; pp. 7-8.
Kottmeyer, Martin S. “Did Life Magazine Help Spawn the 1952 UFO Wave?” Magonia Supplement #48; 21 October 2003, pp. 1-3. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms48.htm
Kottmeyer, Martin S., “Keyhoe and the ‘Modest Surge’ of 1950” Magonia Supplement #49; 16 February 2004; pp. 1-2. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms49.htm
Kottmeyer, Martin S., “Do Ufo Films Stimulate Ufo Flaps?” Magonia Supplement #57; 5 July 2005; pp. 1-6. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms57.htm
La Barre, Weston The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion Delta, 1972
Lear, John "What are the Unidentified Flying Objects" Saturday Review, August 6, 1966, pp. 41-9
Lord, Harry "Search for Patterns" Flying Saucers, January 1963, pp. 66-9.
Lucaniao, Thomas Them or Us: Archetypal Interpretations of Fifties Alien Invasion Films Indiana University Press, 1988.
Lukas, J. Anthony Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years Viking, 1976, pp. 480-4.
Marx, R.H. and DeLillo, R. "The Tourist Theory" Flying Saucer Review, 25, #1, July 1979, pp. 11-17.
Meehan, Paul Saucer Movies: A Ufological History of the Cinema, Scarecrow, 1998.
Meissner, W.W. The Paranoid Process Jason Aronson, 1978
Menzel, Donald and Boyd, Lyle G. The World of Flying Saucers Doubleday, 1963, p. 133
Michel, Aimé Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery Criterion, 1958, pp. 205-6.
Moravec, Mark "UFOs as psychological and parapsychological phenomena" in Evans, Hilary and Stacy, Dennis, eds., UFOs: 1947-1987 The 40-Year Search for an Explanation Fortean Tomes, 1987, pp. 293-312.
Partain, Keith "A Preliminary Study of the Relationship between So-Called UFO Waves, Natural Constants and Planetary Cycles" Pursuit, 18, #1 (1985) pp. 34-5.
Randles, Jenny The Pennine UFO Mystery Granada, 1983, p. 110
Randles, Jenny "Anatomy of a UFO Wave," International UFO Reporter, 11, #2 March/April 1986, pp. 4-8, 19.
Rimmer, John A. "The UFO as an Anti-Scientific Symbol" Merseyside UFO Bulletin, 2, #4, July/August 1969, pp. 41-3.
Rogerson, Peter "Towards a Revisionist History of Ufology" MUFOB new series #13 Winter 1978/79 p. 14
Rogerson, Peter "Why Have All the UFOs Gone?" Magonia #7 (1981) p. 4.
Rogo, D. Scott, “ANTI-MATTER: Are mysterious waves of UFO sightings triggered by general public hysteria or by bona fide ufos? OMNI, October 1989, p. 121.
Rosen, Ephraim and Fox, Ronald E. and Gregory, Jan Abnormal Psychology W.R. Saunders, 1972, pp. 245-52
Ruch, Floyd L. and Zimbardo, Philip G. Psychology and Life Scott, Foresman, 1971, pp. 631-4.
Ruppelt, Edward J. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects Doubleday, 1956, p. 141
Saunders, D.R. "A Spatio-Temporal Invariant for Major UFO Waves," in Dornbos, Nancy Proceedings of the 1976 CUFOS Conference, CUFOS, 1976, pp. 231-3.
Skinner, B.F. About Behaviourism Vintage, 1976.
Smelser, Neil J. Theory of Collective Behavior Free Press, 1963, p. 141
Smiley, Charles “The 8:05 from Mars is Late” The New Report on Flying Saucers by True magazine #2, 1967, pp. 30-1, 65.
Stark, Rodney and Bainbridge, William Sims A Theory of Religion Ptere Lang, 1987, pp. 39, 188.
Strentz, Herbert J A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentifiied Flying Objects Arcturus Book Service, 1982, p. 44, 60, 138.
Swiatek-Hudej, Paul and Cassandra "Perceptual Implications of a UFO Sighting" in Proceedings of the Sixth Annual UFO Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 1981, ACUFOS, 1981, p. 21.
Swords, Michael D. "Mass Hysteria & Multiple-Witness Sightings" MUFON Ufo Journal #197 September 1984, pp. 16-19.
Trench, Brinsley le Poer untitled editorial, Flying Saucer Review 3, # 3, May/June 1957, p. 1.
Troëng, Ivan “Venus Observed” Flying Saucer Review, 8, #5, September-October 1962, p. 12
Vallee, Jacques Anatomy of a Phenomenon Ace, 1966, pp. 159-69.
Vallee, Jacques The Invisible College E.P. Dutton, 1975, pp. 194-206.
Vallee, Jacques and Janine Challenge to Science Ballantine, 1977, p. 187
Van Kampen, Hans ""The Case of the Lost Panda" Skeptical Inquirer, 4, #1 Fall 1979, pp. 48-50.
Victor, Jeffrey S. "The Spread of Satanic Cult Rumors" Skeptical Inquirer, 14, #3 Spring 1990, pp. 287-91.
Other Kottmeyer work on Flap Theory
Did the Nine-Eleven Tragedy Increase UFO Reporting?
Magonia Supplement #46; 17 March 2003, pp. 1-2.
No and crisis theory takes a hit.
Do UFO Flaps Express Cold War Kundalini?
Magonia Supplement #47; 16 June 2003, pp. 6-7.
Bearden’s flap theory revisited with a discovery concerning the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.
Did The Katrina Debacle Increase Ufo Reporting? A Test of the Collective Shame Theory of Flaps
Magonia Supplement, #61, 17 May 2006; pp. 1-3
Yes, but not impressively.
The Global Wave of 1954
The REALL News 14, #8; December 2006; pp. 1, 3-5, 7.
Vallee’s claim that the wave happened simultaneously all over the world disproved.
Published but not posted to web.
Oleados Ovni: Un Análisis
La Nave de los Locos, monográfico #2, Junio 2003
Special issue reprinting my Flaps article plus dissections of criticisms by Jerry & INFO Journal.
Published but not posted to web in English.
SunLite volume 6, number 2; March-April 2014, pp. 23-26.
Why is there increased ufo reporting activity on July 4th since 2004, but in the Blue book years there were decreases?
Abu Ghraib Scandal Test (effect found)
Afghanistan (effect found)
Atomic file (no effect correlating bomb tests)
Bay of Pigs (maybe, but unimpressive)
Criticality note (maybe fractal theory applicable)
Cuba Crisis (No effect)
Good times with Jerry (humor, sarcasm)
Iraq workfile (large dateline)
Mayan apocalypse (No effect)
Mourning issue (examples)
Seasonal (Proof of seasonal cycle charted: winter cold keeps people in)
Mars synodic study (no compelling effect)
Venus synodic study (no compelling effect)
1964 – an Attempt at Interpretation (workfile)
1965 (FSR pc & note)
Rogo, D. Scott, “ANTI-MATTER: Are mysterious waves of UFO sightings triggered by general public hysteria or by bona fide ufos? OMNI, October 1989, p. 121
Bullard suggests explosive waves are social but gradual ones are not. Says the 1952 wave continued a steady emergence after Washington National without increasing. Truzzi says Bullard is naïve, when dealing with mass behavior nothing is ever so simple. Bullard claims at least shown ufo reports not triggered by publicity “with the knee-jerk suddenness that skeptics suggest.” Which skeptic? I wonder. Klass? Not sure he really says that though his overblown language can lead to that impression if not read closely. Clearly, though, his CE3K effect claim depends on a view that it could be gradual.
John A. Keel, “’Flap Dates,’ Kidnappings, and Secret Bases” True: The New Report on Flying Saucers, #2 Fawcett Publications, 1967, pp. 14-17, 56-60
Discusses his research into flaps. Speaks of flaps of March 30, 1966, July 13, 1966 and July 27, 1966 and August 16, 1966 (a barium cloud) and March-April 1967. also mentioned 1830s, 1897, 1914, 1922, 1930, 1937 (Ethiopia), 1939 (Estonia), WW2 Foo-Fighters, ghost rockets, June 1947 flying saucers.
“Our conclusion: there is no logical, earthly explanation”
Suggests there are bases. “…they will reveal themselves to us at a proper time in our history. Perhaps the sharp increase in UFO activity indicates the time is drawing near… And all this time the UFOs have been quietly expanding their bases, sweeping over the Earth in preparation for the last stage of their plan—whatever that might be. If their ultimate intent is a hostile one, then we have been betrayed… We could wake up one morning and find every city in the world encircled by strange craft and all the skeptics and doubters and explainers would then learn the truth about flying saucers. The hostility thesis is now gaining support from serious ufologists in every country. Many believe that the Air Forces of the world have been cleverly deceived all these years and that our governments will be completely off-guard when the UFOs enter their final stage of operations – overt contact …Somewhere in the universe, a clock is ticking”
ETH bizarre variant in Art Greenfield Warning author, 2001, p. 441: “Saucer flaps occur during and immediately after wars and plagues. When there are large numbers of craft seen, they are here to gather and transport the deceased human cattle.” P. 440: “Major wars and/or epidemics have been started just before and during major mass ufo sightings.” A deeply stupid thesis here buttressed by blatant falsehood and cock-eyed non sequiturs.
Valenya “The Discoveries of T.R. Dutton: Is UFO Activity Predictable?” FATE March 2007, pp. 16-22.
During the 1980s, Dutton discovered certain predictable routes in space employed by cargo-carrying motherships. When they enter Earth orbit smaller ships are disgorged. When it comes round, the ship are scooped back up. The larger theory ties in power failures, crop circles, animal mutes, and Stonehenge-type earthworks. A chart is included, but the mathematics are not and nothing is predicted here.
Jacques Vallée & Janine Vallée, “Mars and the Flying Saucers: A contribution to the scientific study of the periodicity of the flying saucer phenomenon in its correlation with the oppositions of Mars” Flying Saucer Review, 8, #5, September-October 1962, pp 5-11.
“There is no connection of an obligatory character between the Mars oppositions and the saucer phenomena peaks.” If one works with data limited to the period 1950 to 1956 one can argue a correlation as strong as one in a thousand against chance existed. Data before 1950, notably the 1947 peak, and the data starting with the Sputnik flap of 1957 however fail to show anything one can call a mechanical correlation. Thus, only 4 data points in support.
Ivan Troëng, “Venus Observed” Flying Saucer Review, 8, #5, September-October 1962, p. 12. A Swedish researcher proposed that saucer activity became highly active ten weeks before Venus reached the closest point in its orbit and Earth intersects the tangent from Venus. He predicted Venus would be sending a peak in the last week of May. He announced vindication pointing to cigar-shaped motherships seen all over Argentina on May 27. Oh, hell!
Rich Reynolds, May 03, 2007 “Is there only one UFO presence?”
“the UFO presence comes down to one contingent: one UFO fleet, that replenishes its array of “crafts” every now and then, causing what UFO mavens call “flaps.””
Reconnaissance appears to be the main mission, but if UFOs are Earth-made, flights are primary testing occasions. However, recorded UFOs from pre-flight eras seem to rule out the Earth-made scenario, except for those UFO sightings that are misinterpreted (which account for the vast majority of UFO reports since the airship observations of the 1890s and the sightings from 1947 on).
But what is the source of this one UFO fleet? Is it extraterrestrial? Is it Earth-oriented, from a hidden civilization, as suggested by Mac Tonnies’ cryptoterrestrial hypothesis? Does the fleet come from Earth’s future? Or past?
Could the fleet be a psychic manifestation, a la Jacques Vallee, controlled by super-beings, once thought to be the gods (or demons)?
Or are they a unique phenomenon, brought into existence eons ago, by some human (or other) mechanism, and continue to appear, now and then, as an evolutionary tweaker?
Whatever the source, there is only one fleet of saucers – UFOs, and they have raised psychological havoc with a few human beings who keep them “alive” by paying attention to them: the ufologists and their lapdog followers.
Too vague. How does evolutionary tweaking account for flaps “now and then.” Why USA in 1947? 1952? 1957? 1965? 1966? 1967? 1973? Why France and South America in 1954? Belgium in 1989? Evolution of the body happens on timescales of millions of years. Cultural evolution admittedly possible, but what is the direction of the changes being made? What is the pay-off to the havoc and is it moral for super-beings to play havoc for no obvious benefit. Who specifically has been tweaked and what differences have they wrought for humanity?
There might be answers in the celebs category: John Lennon, Charo, Dan Aykroyd, Fran Drescher, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan. Dear, dear, we need guidance for the details. More celebs: http://www.educatinghumanity.com/2014/12/celebrity-ufo-sightings.html
Granted, given the source, probably just blue-sky brain-storming BS….
Eric Ouellet argues on his parasociology blog that flaps are “grand-scale poltergeists” (quoted from post on the Washington, D.C. flap, part 1.)
http://parasociology.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/1952-ufo-wave-and-washington-dc-case.html gives his social trigger as:
“The Washington D.C. events matched the timing of the Democratic National Convention that occurred in Chicago, and selected Adlai Stevenson as the Democrat’s presidential candidate. The convention spanned from 21 July to 26 July, hence two nights before the first UFO incident and the night after the second one. It is very important to note that the both GOP and Democratic conventions were televised and covered by 3 of the 4 national TV networks of time, and when half the American population had a TV set. The symbolic timing of the UFO incidents, given the important political events occurring at the same time, is suggestive of “don’t forget about me” for the 19-20 July incidents, and of “hey, you forgot about me” for the 26-27 July incidents.”
The 1947 wave is dealt with in this block:
Even more interesting is the dates of implementation of the loyalty program. It was instituted by the Executive Order 9835 of 21 March 1947, and was publicly announced in December 1947. However, the existence and content of the Executive Order was discussed in the press at the end of May 1947. It is a notable synchronicity that the modern UFO era started just three weeks later in June 1947 in Washington (State) after the military were seeking help...
The 1954 Wave is tied to a moral struggle of Algerian freedom by a group known as the FLN that “was not known to the French public, and even the FLN actions of November 1954 did not appear to be anything threatening.” He rejects the involvement of the Dien Bien Phu debacle, asserting the emotional elements happen too soon
“But the dates do not add up for Indochina. The battle of Dien Bien Phu was in May 1954, and the war was officially over by July. The war in Indochina was far from the preoccupations of French people, while Algeria was another story.”
He also discusses the Belgium ufo wave (1989-1992) as related to the winding down of the Cold War.
I am in partial agreement with the 1947 trigger, having pointed to similar events about the emergence of loyalty testing as a trigger to paranoia in “Why 1947” and the above summary article. The 1952 events pointed to seems problematic to me on the point that similar events in other presidential elections do not routinely trigger flaps. The 1954 trigger seems self-debunking in the sense that he admits the triggers were not known to the French public and that is a major theoretic faux pas. I’ll not countenance a massive social response to something unknown to the public. I’ll pass on Belgium.
Wikipedia: “Psychosocial; hypothesis: Flaps of Flying Phantoms”
Author: ‘Magonian’ [an obvious pseudonym]
I’ve copied it in entirety.
One of the more striking failures of the ETH has been in the realm of offering explanations of ufo flaps. In the first couple decades of the saucer controversy, several researchers sought to argue that flaps were generated by saucers timing their arrival to the proximity of Mars. Predictions were generated, but notably failed. One 1962 study remarked, “If one works with data limited to the period 1950 to 1956 one can argue a correlation as strong as one in a thousand against chance existed.” Outside this limited set, however, it is clear no correlation can be found. Charles H. Smiley, Chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Brown University computed 14 ideal minimum energy orbits for transportation from Mars to Earth and Venus to Earth between 1956 and 1965 and determined the likely arrival times plus and minus ten days. He then looked at the number of ufo reports to Blue Book for these periods. They were self-evidently insignificant and corresponded to no flaps. Other researchers argued flaps were indications of phased operations, indications of the construction of bases, or ways of desensitizing humanity to the extraterrestrial presence before overt Contact or a Mass Landing, which would culminate in the imminent future. These predictions clearly failed as well.
British researchers, puzzled by the failures decided to take things in new directions: Peter Rogerson would write, “There should be a major co-operative effort at a systematic search for pre-1947 ‘waves,’ involving, if possible, full scrutiny of national and local newspapers, and scientific and popular magazines, starting with flap periods, then other periods.” Attention should be paid to “the social, religious, political and scientific background.” Roger Sandell’s work on a 1905 outbreak of ufo sighting in Wales had already suggested that these earlier flaps had odd facets, some of the high strangeness material echoed modern cases, but not in the ways might hope if one thought them extraterrestrial. Mary Jones encountered a sinister black clad man she identified as Satan, but would probably thought an MIB had it not been 1905 Wales. Other Men in Black were seen and one figure turned into a black dog before one witness’s eyes. Noting such things only add to the complexity of the ufo phenomenon he urged progress could only be made by detailed research conducted with no preconceptions.
Nigel Watson, in time, began reporting on his research into a March–May 1909 panic involving the belief that German airships were spying on Britain. Phantom airship flaps would eventually be catalogued from a diverse set of places like New Zealand in 1909, Russia & Poland in 1892, Canada in1896, Washington state in 1908, Denmark in 1908, South Africa in 1914, and Norway in 1914-16. These flaps generally involved cigar-shaped craft more reminiscent of Zeppelins than extraterrestrial spacecraft and were attended by rumors of foreign spies and spy networks. They often had their own forms of physical evidences, multiple witnesses to crafts with improbable details, and surreal close encounters. The rumors all had idiosyncratic aspects which pointed to a need to interpret them in terms of the contemporary societal backdrop – often tensions about impending war, sometimes political conflicts within the society.
By the 1930s, the imagery of phantom airships was replaced by phantom aeroplanes – ‘ghost fliers’ in places including Scandinavia and Britain. Later phantom flier imagery transmutes into Foo-fighters and ghost rockets, in accordance with new rumors and newer facts of evolving modern technology.
One researcher would point out that a mid-1600’s boom in prophecies accompanied rumors of the imminent overthrow of King and Church. The aligning of aerial phenomena and political events had been alleged as early as John Aubrey, the antiquary, concerning events in 1647. A series of sightings of second suns, second moons, and marching of armies in the sky, it was assumed significantly, preceded the 1662 Act of Uniformity and the revivial of the Church of England.
The imagery of these earlier flaps give little ground to broad extraterrestrial interpretations: they no longer look futuristic in the slightest with their Zeppelin shapes, propellors, flapping wings, masts, ship decking, and humans in contemporary attire. It seems irrefutible that social forces are necessary to account for them. Whatever the ultimate explanations of individual modern ufo flaps prove to be, it is blatant that social forces can be a sufficient cause in creating emotional climates favorable to frequent sightings of things in the sky that are not fully real.
In the spirit of being engaged in “a long, slow process of trial & error studies,” variations in these explanations have been experimented with. The 1905 Wales flap occurred at a time that the traditional values were under assault from the modern world. The religious revival associated with the sightings maybe were generated by the tensions of rapid, unprecedented social change. Psychosocial researchers have looked into other notions like Phil Klass’s notion that media is the primary driver of flaps but they find it so scandalously error-riddled, it is difficult to accept it has anything like the sizeable role he alleges. Media doubtless contributes imagery, but the emotional component of the rumors associated with flaps relies on larger aspects of the social environment.
It is necessary to add that researchers in the psychosocial tradition have not held much respect for glib notions of flaps like mass hysteria e.g. as when expressed back in 1954 by the French psychiatrist George Heuyer. By the time they were writing, doubts had already been expressed. Mark Rhine in the Condon report and Robert Hall for the 1969 AAAS symposium on UFOs looked at certain classic episodes of mass hysteria or hysterical contagion like the June bug epidemic, the Seattle windshield pitting epidemic, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, to see how well they could serve as explanatory models for what is going on with the ufo phenomenon. Neither developed the idea very far and Hall discerned several difficulties in comparing these phenomena, probably the most notable being the fleeting character of those model social epidemics. Michael Swords later offered additional observations that essentially killed it for researchers on both sides of the debate. In a recent discussion of Great Britain's Warminster flap of the 1960s, the researchers echo these developments and prefer to discuss the flap as a collective delusion maintained by rumor and gossip. Given the general decline of respect for the broader concept of hysteria in modern psychology; this seems just as well.
50. Lonzo Dove, "The Mars Explosions and the Flying Saucers," Space Review, 2, #3 July 1953, p. 3.
51. Edgar R. Jarrold, "Spotlight on Australia," Space Review, 2, #3 July 1953, p. 6.
52. Harry Lord, "Search for Patterns" Flying Saucers, January 1963, pp. 66-9.
53. Aimé Michel, Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery Criterion, 1958, pp. 205-6.
54. Jacques Vallée & Janine Vallée, “Mars and the Flying Saucers: A contribution to the scientific study of the periodicity of the flying saucer phenomenon in its correlation with the oppositions of Mars” Flying Saucer Review, 8, #5, September–October 1962, pp 5-11.
55. Charles Smiley,“The 8:05 from Mars is Late,” The New Report on Flying Saucers by True magazine #2, 1967, pp. 30-1, 65.
56. Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers-Serious Business Bantam, 1966 pp. 182-3.
57. Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers-Here and Now Bantam, 1968 pp. 159-60.
58. John A. Keel, “’Flap Dates,’ Kidnappings, and Secret Bases” True: The New Report on Flying Saucers, #2 Fawcett Publications, 1967, pp. 14-17, 56-60.
59. Richard Hall, Uninvited Guests, Aurora, 1988, pp. 213, 216-7.
60. Peter Rogerson, “New Directions for UFO Research.” Merseyside UFO Bulletin volume 5, number 2, May 1972, http://magonia.haaan.com/2010/directions/
61. Roger Sandell, “UFOs in Wales in 1905” Flying Saucer Review 17, #4, July/August 1971, pp. 24-5.
62. Roger Sandell, “More on Welsh UFOs” Flying Saucer Review 18, #2 March/April 1972, pp. 31-3.
63. Kevin McClure, Stars & Rumors of Stars, undated.
64. Kevin McClure, “Welsh Lights” in Peter Brookesmith, The Alien World, Black Cat, 1984, pp. 20-20.
65. Nigel Watson, The Cigar Ship of 1909! MUFOB new series 10, Spring 1978: http://magonia.haaan.com/2009/cigarship/
66. Nigel Watson, “Airships & Invaders; background to a social panic” Magonia #3, Spring 1980, pp. 3-7 http://magonia.haaan.com/2009/airships-and-invaders/
67. Nigel Watson and Granville Oldroyd, “Venus With Her Trousers Down!” Magonia 17, October 1984 http://magonia.haaan.com/category/author/nigel-watson/
68. Nigel Watson, “British Scareships,’ in Peter Brookesmith, The Alien World, Black Cat, 1984, pp. 54-60.
69. Nigel Watson, The Scareship Mystery: A Survey of Phantom Airship Scares 1909-1918, Domra Publications, 2000.
70. Nigel Watson, Phantom Aerial Flaps and Waves, Magonia magazine 1987, 23 pp
71. Nigel Watson, “Seeing Things” Magonia #39, April 1991, pp. 3-7
72. Nigel Watson, The Scareship Mystery: A Survey of Phantom Airship Scares 1909-1918, Domra Publications, 2000,pp. 29-38.
73. Willy Wegner, “The Danish ‘Airship’ of 1908” MUFOB, new series #9 Winter 1977-78, pp. 11-12. http://magonia.haaan.com/category/author/wegner-willy/…
74. Nigel Watson, Phantom Aerial Flaps and Waves, Magonia magazine 1987, 23 pp.
75. John Fletcher, “Lo! He comes in clouds descending,” Magonia #1 Autumn 1979, pp. 3-8. http://magonia.haaan.com/2009/clouds/
76. Peter Rogerson “Towards a Revisionist History of Ufology” MUFOB new series #13 Winter 1978/9, pp. 13-15.
77. Peter Rogerson, “Future Shock” and UFO Cults. Merseyside UFO Bulletin, Volume 6, Number 2, August 1973: http://magonia.haaan.com/1973/future-shock-and-ufo-cults/
78. Martin S. Kottmeyer,“Did Life Magazine Help Spawn the 1952 UFO Wave?” Magonia Supplement #48; 21 October 2003, pp. 1-3. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms48.htm
79. Martin S. Kottmeyer, “Keyhoe and the ‘Modest Surge’ of 1950” Magonia Supplement #49; 16 February 2004; pp. 1-2. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms49.htm
80. Martin S. Kottmeyer, “Do Ufo Films Stimulate Ufo Flaps?” Magonia Supplement #57; 5 July 2005; pp. 1-6. http://www.users.waitrose.com/~magonia/ms57.htm
81. Martin Kottmeyer, “UFO Flaps: An Analysis – The Alexander Imich Award Winning UFO Essay” in The Anomalist #3, Winter 1995/96, pp. 64-89.; revised in Ronald Story, ed. The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters: A Definitive Illustrated A-Z Guide to All Things Alien New American Library, 2001, pp. 650-1.
82. George Heuyer, "Note sur les psychoses collectives." Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine, 138, 29-30, 487-490.
83. Robert L. Hall, "Sociological Perspectives on UFO Reports" in Carl Sagan and Thornton Page, eds., UFOs: A Scientific Debate WW Norton, 1974, pp. 213-23.
84. Michael D. Swords, "Mass Hysteria & Multiple-Witness Sightings" MUFON Ufo Journal #197 September 1984, pp. 16-19.
85. Steve Dewey and John Ries, In Alien Heat: The Warminster Mystery Revisited, Anomalist Books, 2006, pp. 214-7.
COMMENT by M. Kottmeyer:
A good summary of the British view of the problem, stronger in historical collection and analysis than theoretic synthesis. The emphasis on rumor is difficult to fault so far as it being sociologically conventional and, in America, is probably best represented in Roberet Bartholomew’s work, appearing in Sceptical Inquirer. The problem is basically how does one make predictions especially if media is rejected in favor of emotional environments below the radar of measurable social forces.
Blog Talk Radio - Greg Bishop from UFO Mystic and author of "Project Beta"
In The Stench of Truth interview circa Jan 2012
At time index 1:25;15
[I don’t think collecting ufo data] ‘”is useless; I think it’s boring. I don’t think it’s going to make a whole hell lot of difference. However if you’ve got thousands and thousands and thousands of cases catalogued in a computer, in a database, you should start looking at these cases in different ways – like what’s the phase of the moon when it happened? What’s going on in world politics when these things peak? Or when the weirdest events happen, who won the academy award that year? Just something completely out in left field, just start trying stuff with the data and see there’s some sort of pattern that nobody’s looked at yet. I think that would be interesting.”
Perhaps it was interesting. World politics angle has been tried and if you narrow it down to events involving collective shame and delusional foreign threat that seems the best hypothesis.
Phase of the moon was studied and no lunar cycle was evident in my analysis of the Blue Book data.
The academy award thing is certainly left-field, and is, I trust, a joke. Even so, I would be curious about the genesis of such a suggestion – if it was based on some odd observation or hypothetical causal chain.
John Keel on "Portents & Fortents" – said to be a talk at FortFest 1992
Key line of theory: “Every time the human race is in jeopardy in any fashion, whether economically or militarily, we start seeing ufos all over the place.”
An audience member asks why and he quips that if he knew that he’d be rich.
Talk speaks of pivotal years throughout history: 500 B.C. had Zoroaster and changes in China and philosophy in Europe. In the 14th century there was the Black Plague accompanied by things seen in the skies and that starts the Italian Renaissance. 1848 has political assassinations and Karl Marx accompanied by the Fox sisters starting spiritualism. Though of dicey relevance, spiritualists were claiming extraterrestrial contact as early as 1853, thus alien contact if not really ufo phenomena (Aubeck/Vallee Wonders in the Sky gives no evidence of a flap. More pertinently to ufos, 1968 is clearly now seen as a pivotal year – assassinations, the bogdown of the Vietnam War, the space race. 1968 was a major wave.
1973 we now see was a remarkable year. Spiro Agnew was booted out of office. Watergate was around. Inflation was rampant and the oil shortages had people in lines at gas stations. In October there was a ufo wave that newsmen were covering, then an Arab-Israeli conflict happened and the wave stopped cold as the newsmen were pulled in the cover it.
He also states that 1975 was the Big Year for all things Fortean: abductions, Bigfoot, Loch Ness. The Youtube video does not indicate what it was tied to, but presumably he was thinking of the Fall of Saigon. In September, Squeaky Fromme attacks President Ford, then Sarah Jane Moore a couple weeks later. The October 1975 wave was possibly more about abductions in the wake of “The UFO Incident” than ufos. It can be granted the mid 1970s was a creative period for many New Age themes and TV / cinematic documentaries on the paranormal were in ascendance. It was partly this rise that spawned the backlash of CSICOP.
The video does not discuss 1947, 1952, 1957, 1965, 1966 (Swamp Gas Wave). I could perhaps fill in some of the blanks here, but I only want to acknowledge that his personal take is not present. This formulation is basically a crisis theory and the same criticisms cited above apply here. The interesting point of divergence might the choice of the word threat to humanity which can be a consideration for applying paranoia as a psychological driver. There are models of paranoia that use perceptions of threat as a defining feature.
February 3, 2015 podcast discussion
“Bruce Duensing – Becoming the Change We Want to See”
At time index 30:20 Duensing introduces the idea that the cycclical waves of activity involve a global anticipation and precoditioned effect of sheer consciousness reaching a critical mass. Greg Bishop tries to translate this as involoving heightened emotions as a way of collapsing a wave function. Later at 52:40 after discussion of some sort of zombie intelligence that feeds back our own anticipations, Duensing adds, “Throw in anticipation and I almost suspect that’s why we go into these unpredictable cycles of waves where somehow anticipation and intention that probably has precursors in some kind of deconstructive process that somehow opens a window and suddenly you have a manifestation of something that’s totally out of context.” Duensing brings up Keel as saying ufo waves happen at or following historically key moments. Greg indicates not knowing of Keel’s thesis but agrees it makes total sense – an element introduced that is highly emotional for lots of people yields concretization of the weirdness. Duensing reiterates that there is a critical mass – a tipping point – but instead of a single bullet theory, there likely exists several parallel precursors needing to exist to provide parallel key cuts to open up an information exchange that is totally out of context.
I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion of parallel precursors for the problem is a difficult one. Parsimony is the ideal and if you introduce multiple elements are you fooling yourself by giving yourself ‘outs’ when things go wrong? Maybe we don’t need shame every time, maybe ‘threat’ introduced randomly by accidental elements attendant to certain events or rumors are sometimes necessary and maybe certain flaps are not paranoid but media wonders generating waves of mere excitement. I’ve gone down those paths, but once you ditch parsimony – that single bullet theory – however do you convince the skeptical you are saying anything interesting? External zombie intelligences are diplomatic and ego-soothing (better to be puppets than fools), but humans have their non-human elements notably the dream production module that creates bizarre testing skits every night – why go outside the brain when the REM-zombie production company lurks inside every brain? (Andrea Rock, The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream (2005).) The evidence for any outside physicality is always ambiguous, i.e. IFO stimuli have had physical claims attached to them later seen to be irrelevant (recall Hendry).
Recommended: Create a world-wide database: search for patterns; Bishop hopes this will yield progress. You have databases already with more than enough to test hypotheses. The problem: what if there is no patterns other than the psychosocial ones already found? I will tell you that patterns usually end up unproductive and probably go unreported because nothing interesting is there. We’ve run out of good questions.
One more thing: nothing pragmatic has or will emerge from such work. There is too much work for no pay whatsoever. Only don’t-give-a-damn hobbyists like me actually bother to do anything with the data. The ufo phenomenon speaks for itself says one here, but what if it is just fractal noise and devoid of predictive features? The analogy of weather systems and tornadoes is offered by Duensing; there are deterministic forces, but you can’t predict very far in advance. Maybe flaps are derivably determistic, but we don’t have the instruments to fine-tune any equations driving the emotional forces. How does one measure shame? measure paranoia? measure delusional threats?
Duensing is echoing here material in a blog posting dated May 9, 2014 at his A Transit of Contingencies: “Are UFOs Macroscaled Quantum Effects” http://tarnsitsandstations.blogspot.com/search?q=waves + February 20, 2014 “Transient Coherence and Chaos: In Memory of John Keel”
“One researcher, cited by Keel in his book , "Our Haunted Planet" who worked at Princeton's Bell Laboratory did an averaged analysis of global wave activity that was emergent in a cycle of 9.6 years. Take the date of the Phoenix Lights and count forward.”
July 20, 2013: “Open Systems and Cyclical Anomalies”
Phoenix Lights: March 13, 1997.
Add 9 years, 7.2 months = 2006/10/19-20 apx October 20, 2006
Chicago O’Hare incident: November 7, 2006 is the implicit reference
NUFORC event index copy/pasted into file.
Problems: neither date is an actual global flap if NUFORC is a proper enough guide. These are just two major cases – do major cases show this 9.6 year cycle? NO. Do also note that the NUFORC data is not very suggestive of any sort of 9.6 year cycle. It would perhaps be worth knowing where the 9.6 cycles peaked to see if the cycle has any sort of connection to these events. October 1954 France is the major example of a global wave. Add 9.6 serially to 1954.8 and one gets
Subtract 9.6 from 1997.3 and one gets
These are lulls in the data, rather than flaps.
Try finding matches in this list of top 100 cases in the ufo literature: http://www.isaackoi.com/best-ufo-cases/13-the-top-100-ufo-cases.html The October 1958 Loch Raven Dam incident is the only chronological near-miss and frankly this seems rather poorly known. You would think even sheer luck would get you better matching. So, problems are obvious. Would better exposition have helped?
Strangely when I googled 9.6. year cycles I was pointed to a cycle book by Edward Dewey and found that it was kind of a modal cycle length. Various animal populations display it, rabbits notably. Worldwide precipitation and some other climate indicators show it. Something called a magnetic value shows it. A couple of economic cycles, a couple of disease cycles, and one of the weaker battle indices also show it. Unfortunately, this observation is missing a physical explanation and it would certainly have been more meaningful to tie it to the sunspot cycle whose reality is indisputable and whose effects have at least some physical logic behind them. The book did not have ufos in the index or on any cycle lists I looked at. I suspect the claim has been shoehorned into the mythos for esoteric reasons alone. I see no empirical justification for it whatsoever.