Could It Be Aliens? It’s Aliens

Distant Encounters: the Hat-Wearing Little Green Men of Texas

Today’s tale hails from 1913, two miles west of the northeastern Texas burg of Farmersville (population 3,301). But the people involved told no one until 1978 – out of fear? Fear of ridicule over having one of UFOlogy’s few run-ins with literal little green men?

Brothers Clyde, Sid and Silbie Latham chopped cotton on their family’s farm. A mundane scene interrupted by the barking of dogs. The Latham brothers scramble to investigate and find, as Silbie told FATE in 1978:

“a little man only 18 inches tall…He didn’t seem to have on any shoes but I don’t really remember his feet. His arms were hanging down just beside him. He had on a kind of hat that reminded me of a Mexican hat. It was a little round hat that looked like it was built onto him…everything looked like a rubber suit including the hat.”

The 18-inch man’s rubbery skin was smooth, dark green all over (Fate, 1978) – including the strange, hat-like protrusion. The brothers considered the bizarre visitor, the alien before them, and reached out in a spirit of peace. Contact began, and everyone prospere-nope! Their dogs viciously murdered him a second later. According to Silbie Latham:

“Red blood spilled everywhere and the being’s insides, which looked like human organs, fell to the ground.”

Ah yes, at least we discovered the defenseless alien visitor did in fact have human-esque organs, and blood, so very much blood, and so we can know for sure that in those few confused seconds he felt all the pain just as intensely as any human being. A successful first contact!

“Unable to cope with the whole matter, the boys retreated to their work; the dogs stayed near them the rest of the day, as if frightened. “

The dogs were frightened…at discovering what they were capable of, much like in Air Bud: There Ain’t No Rule A Dog Can’t Be a Retired Enforcer, Weighed Down By His Terrible Sins.

The boys told their parents, who disbelieved them. The following day, the little man’s body vanished without a trace. Two years later, they did see “a mysterious object carrying two lights — one in front, the other in back — sail silently by” near Celeste, Texas. Three years later, Silbie witnessed a fireball falling from the sky, leaving only a circle of gray powder. But the Lathams would never again see a little green man.

Silbie Latham’s story went untold for sixty-five years, when his grandson would report it to the Center for UFO Studies. Even Latham’s own grandson heard the story only reluctantly, after much prompting. And while everyone found Silbie believable, researchers tended to discount his story outright, explaining it away as a prank or a frog. Silbie rejected them all.

Admittedly, Silbie Latham’s little green man probably was a frog. It probably was an ordinary creature that ran into the wrong dogs. But we should still be glad he shared his unbelievable story, and that others won’t wait their entire lives to tell theirs…and that when aliens actually meet humanity, they don’t get torn apart by dogs.

An illustration of the Farmersville Green Man by Eric Kowalick, who has delightful illustrations of many obscure alien sightings.

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Distant Encounters: Canada’s Most Mysterious UFO

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

August 18th, 1991. West Carleton, Ontario – a rural farming community. Diane Labenek hears the barks of distant dogs across the field. She rises, looks out the window, and one of my favorite UFO cases of all time begins.

Labenek sees fire and lights: red flames and smoke. A UFO flies towards the bright fire. As Labenek watches,  the UFO departs. Ten minutes later, a helicopter flies overhead. She tells no one but her family.

This isn’t the first strange event to happen in West Carleton: in 1989, Labenek and many others report an “intense, bright light” passing overhead towards a nearby swamp, pursued by helicopters. But neither event draws much attention: with Labenek keeping the story to herself, it’s just another UFO sighting, a lone report without any proof to back it up.

The following year, proof arrived.

Six months later, UFO researcher Bob Oechsler received a package from someone identified only as “Guardian”. The anonymous present included a VHS tape and many crudely forged documents and photos of aliens. In short, most of what Guardian sent was easily dismissable bullshit: but the VHS tape proved harder to dismiss.

The tape corroborates Labenek’s 1991 sighting almost exactly, down to the barking dogs in the background. Seemingly filmed from the other side of the field, you can see the flares in the field, and the shining lights of a large, distinct UFO. Oechsler, who didn’t know about Labenek’s sighting, couldn’t have known that this wasn’t Guardian’s first enigmatic message.

After the 1989 sighting, researcher Tom Theofanous of the Canadian UFO Research Network received a package from Guardian alleging a UFO crash near West Carleton. With nothing but photo-copied photos of fake aliens as “proof”, researchers who toured West Carleton discovered little else, bar reports of a strange lights from a local couple, a rancher – and Diane Labenek. They safely classified Guardian’s first message as a hoax.

In 1992, researchers weren’t so willing to dismiss Guardian. Oeschler and Graham Lightfoot visited West Carleton and, along the way, Labenek. Having no knowledge of her story, they were stunned to discover that it matched the video nearly exactly. Perhaps this would be a rarity – a UFO case with genuine proof?

Yet the investigation was far from smooth. According to MUFON Ontario, Oeschler’s inexperience showed:

[Oechsler] pointed to vegetation that had “been treated with microwave radiation”! How did he come to that conclusion without using any instruments?

“It’s very dry and brittle, so it’s obviously been irradiated” Oechsler said.

The ‘irradiated’ plants were Juniper bushes that always look that way after a Canadian winter – bleached, dried and flattened by heavy snow, probably in much the same way as in Maryland, Oechsler’s home-state.

Some residents of West Carleton, apparently unaware of the threat posed by the alien-irradiated juniper bushes in their midst, took note of an unusually high number of helicopters flying overhead – black, green, and maroon helicopters, with tinted windows for that paranoid-90s flair.

Seeking to “flush out Guardian” – a purely selfless motive I absolutely believe – Oeschler managed to wrangle a story about the case on Unsolved Mysteries. Before their investigation was even complete, it also managed to make an appearance on Sightings, winning the prestigious dubious-90s-paranormal-show double. The investigation also drew in Bruce Maccabee, the famed MUFON researcher who would later think a mouse light in a room was a UFO.

By 1993, researchers had concluded that the Guardian case was likely a hoax. With everything else in the package a proven forgery, why not the video? Claims that it was too large, and too silent to be faked weren’t terribly convincing. Guardian went from one of the most exciting UFO cases in history to an embarrassment UFOologists would rather leave behind them. In 1994, Oeschler, the researcher who drove the case from the beginning retired from UFOology.

Guardian is a strange, beautiful mess. The VHS-quality video is oddly mesmerizing, with its blurred lights in the darkness. The tale of its investigation, meanwhile, is a trainwreck. Most probably, the video itself was a hoax, a simple case of lights on a truck. But there’s something so magically X-Files-y about the idea of an enigmatic, anonymous source leaking proof of UFOs to intrepid researchers, of a person keeping a strange event to themselves for fear of ridicule only to receive proof their experience was valid. Guardian burnt bright and it burnt fast. Among the shadowy-conspiracy genre of UFO sighting, Guardian is maybe the most archetypal one there is.

As for Guardian, their identity was never found.

Biblioteca Pléyades, a sprawling library of the paranormal and strange, has a in-depth article about the Guardian case that you really should read.

A History of Nibiru, the Made-up Planet That Keeps Failing to Destroy the Earth

Nibiru, the secretive Planet X speculated to exist by some people who are not astronomers, will not pass through our solar system and destroy the Earth this Saturday, goddamnit.

David Meade, an author who boldly describes himself as a “Christian numerologist” despite that not now, or ever having been a job, predicts the world’s end in a potent mix of Bible-code-eschatology and New Age Planet X fears. And he issues his prophecy via the means best accepted by the people: incredibly stupid Youtube videos.

A woman will descend from heaven, looking like something out of a Pure Moods ad.

“…but because she saw The Shape of Water, she’ll kinda be into it.”

A great red dragon will appear, looking like a Langolier rendered on a Nintendo 64.

Snatched up by God in a way akin to the magical books in Myst, yet somehow with more antiquated graphics.

Ah yes, what more Judeo-Christian symbols are there than Astraea, Hermes, Ares and Aphrodite? We later learn that her child is Jupiter – that classic figure of Christianity, Zeus, God of Thunder.

What follows is an apocalypse depicted with all the verisimilitude of a basic cable drama starring a lesser Skarsgard.

My god, look at the sky…it’s a blurry aurora, at this time of year, localized entirely in your shitty Youtube video!

People disappear worldwide from stock footage of major cities, carried away in epilepsy-inducing balls of light. On this random street, hazy filters distract us from how few people are actually there as cars crash and helicopters fall in some hollow The Leftovers-ripoff. I guess the message is less “be Christian and stuff” and more “NEXT TIME YOU INVITE FINAL PAM TO BARBECUE”.

Pants fall from the sky and we close with a final warning:

…says the man literally making an overwrought Youtube video saying the exact day and hour he thinks the world will end. What a world, what a world. (more…)

Distant Encounters: Joe Simonton’s Space Pancakes

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

Joe Simonton wanted nothing more than to eat a late breakfast one day in April 1961. Instead he found himself the focus of one of UFO history’s weirdest footnotes.

Hearing a strange sound at his farmhouse in Eagle River, Wi., the chicken farmer investigated and discovered an alien craft: discovered as “silvery”, with a shape akin to “two washbowls turned face to face”. It made noise like “knobby tires on wet pavement”. And as Simonton approached the craft from another world, a hatch began to open. And out stepped three…Italians.

To be specific, Simonton described them as five foot tall men with dark hair and skin; only a few sources include him summing them up as space Italians, or at least Italian-adjacent aliens, bearing a silver jug with two handles.

The evolution of what people imagine aliens to look like is a study in anthropomorphism. In the 1950s, the traditional depiction of aliens was as “Nordics”: literally, blonde-haired white people from space. The somewhat less human-looking Grey or Zeta Reticulan hails from the Betty and Barney Hill abduction (by way of a half-remembered episode of The Outer Limits) a few months after Simonton’s sighting – they’d become more common as the Hill case became popular in the mid-60s, and essentially codified as what aliens look like by Whitley Strieber’s Communion. In between we find so much that’s compellingly, bizarrely alien and strange. Greys are still incredibly, unbelievably human in shape, but at least they aren’t Italian dwarves bearing jugs.

Joe Simonton with a space pancake.

According to Simonton, the aliens motioned to him that they needed water. After dutifully filling their jug, Simonton returned – and was granted the gift that made his UFO encounter (in)famous.

On a flameless stove, one of the aliens cooked strange, disc-shaped food. A curious Simonton reached out for them, and was given four. He left the ship with this bounty in hand, and watched as the alien craft vanished as mysteriously as it appeared.

Simonton’s story was bizarre, but he had something no other UFO contactee had: physical proof, in the form of four space pancakes. Wait, three: Simonton ate one. It tasted like cardboard. Analysis of the space pancakes proved that they were made from typical Earthly ingredients, bar an unexplained lack of salt. Simonton faded back into obscurity soon after his encounter, saying that if he ever encountered aliens again, he’d keep quiet.

Simonton’s encounter with aliens is remarkable for how casual it seems. People make up stories about alien experiments, or of wise extraterrestrials handing down profound messages of peace, or warnings for the future. Joe Simonton, by contrast, spins a tale of aliens cooking breakfast. They don’t visit him to deliver a message, but to enlist his help refilling a jug, as they didn’t have enough water to flamelessly fry up their space pancakes. This story of Italians coming down from the stars to make pancakes is more strange – more human than almost anything in UFO lore.

The Feminist Plot to Destroy Ghostbusters, The Biggest Film Trilogy of All Time

The most fascinating aspect of the hostile reaction to the idea of an all-female Ghostbusters remake is how it revealed what was, apparently, a gigantic Ghostbusters fandom. People crawled out of the darkest depths of Reddit to claim that Ghostbusters was their childhood, and that they remained devoted fans to a pair of comedy-horror movies from the 80s, one of which was great and one of which was a lesser retread with some good moments. When you look at major fandoms, you picture Star Trek conventions full of people in homemade Starfleet uniforms, and comic book fans clad as their favorite superheroes, and Tumblr discourse about Steven Universe and The 100. But until the Ghostbusters remake, you saw little evidence of the large, slumbering fandom that surely exists and didn’t just spring up when MRAs and alt-righters needed an excuse to attack the movie that sounded slightly less awful than “BUT IT HAS WOMEN IN IT”.

The TOP MINDS of r/conspiracy have figured out the truth – that no one saw the Ghostbusters remake. The number of Kate McKinnon avatars I’ve seen on Twitter imply some audience for the film, but no – some of the over 3,000 theaters it opened in were empty, so no one saw it at all.

GhostPost1

And yet Sony claimed a gross of 45 million dollars on opening day! How could that be, when two dozen people on Twitter paid to see it in empty theaters? You’ve lost Malaysia AND Middletown, Delaware! Twitter said so, so it must have made ZERO DOLLARS.

GhostPost2They ignored the huge, totally-real Ghostbusters fandom, and attacked men by casting women in a film. It’s detrimental to men. I’m not sure which men, given that the original Ghostbusters cameo in the new film and so aren’t exactly losing any work here. But women already have equality, except when it comes to pay, rights or representation in media and politics and also every other aspect of society, so what do they want? Superiority. First they’ll steal our 80s comedy remakes. Then they’ll take over stand-up comedy. And then…THE WORLD!

ghostpost3Women are crassening up stand-up comedy by talking about – *whispers*- s-e-x! Oh my!

ghostpost4A movie that treats men stereotypically and pushes all male characters to the side? GOSH, THAT MUST BE SO HARD TO DEAL WITH. Men now will have to settle for “most of the movies” this year, instead of “all of the movies”. So hard.

The refrain about how male characters are made to look like idiots on TV is a common one. Indeed, many shows feature dumb husbands and smart wives. Except…these shows are all written by men. Often the men playing the dumb husbands, if it’s based on their stand-up comedy. And in every one of these shows, we’re supposed to like the antics of the husband and look upon the wife as, at best, an unfunny moral center and at worst a controlling shrew. They’re a peculiar example of misandry in the media – though all of them are, because misandry don’t real.

ghostpost5

This incomprehensible rant, which conflates Pokémon Go with the Turkish coup, and that inexplicably calls the Nice attack the “twisted metal 3 murders”, leads to the best part of the entire thread – when people tear this guy fucking apart for saying Ghostbusters, “Jedis” and “Vulcans” are the top three franchises in entertainment history:

Ghostbusters

It’s truly inspiring to see people united by someone being wrong on the internet. If only they could all become pedantic nerds!

And for one beautiful moment, they stop being awful people and just start being awful people with very strong opinions on Ghostbusters 2:

ghostPost6Awful people who aren’t sure if Pokémon Go is a hit because it’s a plot by Them, or if it’s escapism from Them:

ghostpost7Elsewhere, they blame its high Rotten Tomatoes scores on the site being owned by NBCUniversal, a company that, notably, did not make the new Ghostbusters. Here we see a touch of self-awareness:

 

And, of course, they blame it all on aliens:

alienSo what did we learn today, children?

  1. Aliens made the new Ghostbusters so that they could take away Ghostbusting jobs from hardworking men and feed on our fear.

Glad we could clear that up!

Flashback Friday: Weird Tales, and Images, from Wisconsin

“Wisconsin has the highest proportion of eccentric environments in the USA, more than 10% of the total.” – Jan Friedman

Since the demise of Time Cube, I’ve become nostalgic for the early, more personal days of the internet. Before social media was around, before content was shuffled towards a few overarching services. Things that are now Twitter feeds and Tumblr blogs would once be a gigantic number of individual, single-topic websites and forums, an array of personal homepages and strange blogs stretching off into eternity. You might stumble across a weird Subreddit now, but at least it’s cloaked in the familiarity of a larger site. Finding one of the web’s oddities once meant entering into an alternate world, created to mirror the author’s mind.

I once enjoyed browsing these websites. I heard about them on the old Snopes message boards, or places like Crank.net and the Museum of Hoaxes, or through long lists of links on places such as the Insolitology or even the Sci-Fi Channel.

I don’t know where I found today’s website. It’s one of several sites describing the many oddities of Wisconsin. I’ll detail the others in future Flashback Fridays; bizarrely, while today’s site is defunct, the other sites that are still up look way more outdated.

What do you think of when you think of Wisconsin? Cheese? Beer? Serial killers? The Fonz? How about the Beast of Bray Road, the werewolf that calls Elkhorn home? Or the Hodag, a reptilian beast made up in a failed attempt to make Rhinelander interesting? Those are just the obvious legends about the state. Today’s site looks at the deep cuts.

The now-defunct Weird Wisconsin last updated in 2004; it vanished some time in 2006. Presumably inspired by Weird New Jersey, it’s home to many accounts of Wisconsin’s paranormal phenomenon, and wonderful images like this:

WISCONSIN (more…)

Throwback Thursday: The Lawton Triangle of 2002

George Filer, a retired Major and Eastern Region Director for the Mutual UFO Network, compiles UFO events every week. In April 2002, he published a report of a UFO in Oklahoma:

LAWTON – Investigator Jim Hickman reports on the Flying Triangle-MUFON Case #1-774 that took place on March 11, 2002. Jim received a sighting report from “Joe W.” taken near Lawton with a fairly strange photo attached. Dr. Bruce Maccabee, agreed to conduct the photo analysis and asks what could this craft have been? It certainly doesn’t seem to be any military device or any type of object normally in the sky. Internally lighted blimps seem like very strange objects at night, but they have a distinctive shape. (There was a rash of blimp sightings and videos back in the early 1990s, so we have video “data” on the types of images they make…nothing like this.) Hence, unless someone has a better idea, I would have to classify this as a True UFO (TRUFO), which might be some sort of Alien Flying Craft (AFC) (or two such craft)?

All evidence pointed towards the Lawton Triangle being a true UFO, probably an alien flying his craft over the skies of Oklahoma. Or at least that was the conclusion of MUFON’s esteemed investigators when they saw this image:

What solid proof! Look at that strangely familiar red light, floating around in a void that provides absolutely no frame of reference, so judging its distance and size is impossible. You can read the full “report” here.

In May 2002, Filer’s Files published another report of the same event.

FORT SILL — Jim Hickman reports that on May 20, 2002, “TJ” was out on the Quanah Range on Fort Sill earlier tonight, and saw the strangest objects in the sky that he ever saw! TJ reports, “The nature of my job requires that I carry a camera in my vehicle for documenting accidents and incidents on Fort Sill training areas, so I was able to get a picture of the objects.” When I got home, I started searching the web trying to figure out who I should report this to, since I’m definitely NOT going to report this to the military authorities. If I did I’d probably end my career real fast. When I came across your website I almost fell out of my chair! The Lawton Triangle picture is almost exactly like the objects I saw, and Lawton is just south of Fort Sill where I saw these objects! Is this bizarre or what? TJ continues, “I was looking west when I first spotted the objects low to the ground behind some tall trees.” At first I thought they were the lights from military vehicles. “Then suddenly these lights shot straight up in the sky and just hovered for a minute or so.” I just sat there dumbfounded for a moment when it suddenly dawned on me that I should take a picture.

MUFON’s Dr Bruce Maccabee’s comments on the new photo: “WOW! Got to pull out all the stops on this one! A rare event, two photos of the same (apparently) thing! The numbers of lights at the corners may agree (do agree at two corners) and the shape of the red “car” is as I had predicted (the left and right outlines of the “car” in the Lawton photo would be the actual shapes of the left and right sides of the red UFO image if photographed without camera smear).”

If there are two similar pictures of this event – well, that’s some proof. We have to conclude that there are UFOs over Lawton, Oklahoma because –

So where these images “True UFOs” or “Alien Flying Craft” of some sort? No… In reality these pictures were nothing more than a picture of Microsoft Optical Mouse taken with the room lights and camera flash turned off!

IT WAS A MOUSE

THEY CONCLUDED A GLOWING MOUSE IN A DARK ROOM WAS A “TRUE UFO”

These weren’t some random people. One was a “regional director” for MUFON. Another investigator mentioned, Bruce Maccabee, is a well-known UFOlogist and former physicist. MUFON has its own TV show, called Hangar 1. It claims to reveal stories from their “UFO files”. THESE ARE THEIR FILES. We’re literally reading MUFON’s files, and they conclude that a mouse in a dark room is a “true UFO”.

Jim Hickman, who investigated the second sighting, planned to go on a radio show in September 2003 to explain how he “uncovered” the hoax. When the hoaxer called in to say that they revealed it themselves and Hickman didn’t expose anything, Hickman mysteriously failed to show for his interview. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time he failed to show. You can download the audio clips off the hoaxer’s page, and the radio host wonders why he was given a second chance.

In 2002, a man fooled UFOlogy’s Top Minds. And it didn’t take much: just a mouse hanging off a chair in a dark room.

Via Museum of Hoaxes.

Roswell That Ends Well

Last week shocking new Roswell slides were revealed in Mexico. Promised to be the “smoking gun” that would confirm the existence of the alleged 1947 UFO crash, it proved to be…less than convincing.

The placard in the original, suspiciously mummy-like image seemed unreadable. But some researchers have de-blurred it and revealed what it says: “Mummified Body of Two Year-Old Boy“. So that’s that.

REVIEW: Mysteries at the National Parks Provides Unexpected Weirdness

The National Parks are, according to Ken Burns, America’s best idea. Ken Burns made a twelve-hour long documentary telling of how we came to conserve nature. I have not seen Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, but I have seen Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the National Parks, a cheap show that turns beautiful parks into terrifying, dark places where evils lurk.

Once upon a time, we laughed at History Channel’s obsession with World War II. Now, to see anything historical on that network is a welcome oasis in a sea of Ancient Aliens. Scripted television is the greatest its ever been, yet reality television somehow keeps hitting new lows. Channels that once had a unique theme are now interchangeable. A&E may have once been a high-brow network, but now no such thing exists. No history networks exist. All have the same indistinguishable shows. Next up: Pawn Hunters, followed by a new Swamp Men!

Channels now air fictional documentaries about Megaladon and mermaids, and justify it by pointing to one tiny disclaimer in the end credits, visible only to ants crawling on the screen. The paranormal genre, represented by Sightings and Crossing Over with John Edwards in the 90s-early 00s, flourishes. You may not be able to learn about the War of 1812 on the History Channel, but by God will you learn about how aliens visited the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and every culture outside Europe. These shows are harmless fun…until you consider the fact that they drove so many actually educational shows, about real history, off the air.

Last Friday I stumbled on a show called Mysteries at the National Parks. Airing Fridays at 10/9c on Travel Channel, Mysteries at the National Parks is the cousin of shows Mysteries at the Museum and Mysteries at the Castle. Those shows explore odd historical stories via museum exhibits and castles. They’re entertaining enough, and mainly stick to reality. Mysteries at the Museum features a UFO story every now and then. Mysteries at the National Parks is nothing but paranormal stories.

Public domain image by Ken Thomas.

This is Saint Mary Lake, only the second largest lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park. Look at that image. It’s beautiful, right? That’s what you see.

A Travel Channel producer looks at that photo and sees Adolf Hitler.

The first of two episodes of Mysteries at the National Parks focuses on how Glacier National Park is home to a secret Nazi base.

We begin with a soldier seeing lights in the sky. Before we long, we make the incredible leap from “UFO” to…Hitler.

It seems a Nazi named Otto Skorzeny fled to Montana, with Hitler and other prominent Nazis at his side. Hitler retired there, largely because it resembles a region of Germany, and he was photographed in 1997:

Hitler1997That blue guy? That’s Hitler, according to the experts interviewed for the show. We can tell because of the ear.

We hear of tourists discovering train cars with shackles inside, and a deep base where defected Nazis work, similar to Operation Paperclip. We’re warned that if you get too close, you may be shot.

And for half an hour, this is all we hear about Glacier National Park.

Time spent on other elements of the park was minimal. We don’t hear about its Blackfoot history. We don’t hear about how it came to be preserved. We don’t hear of its animal life, which includes mountain goats and lynx. We don’t hear about how its titular glaciers will disappear by 2030 if nothing is done about climate change, but we do hear about how they possess strange abilities. We hear of its mountains, because they reminded Hitler of home.

All we hear about Glacier National Park is how it’s a scary place, home to Hitler and soldiers that won’t hesitate to shoot you if you wander off the path.

The second episode focused on Gettysburg National Park. If you cannot tell an interesting story about the site of the Civil War’s most important battle without resorting to tall tales about ghosts, then you have failed as a storyteller. Yet here we are, and here’s a half hour about how Gettysburg is home to ghosts, quartz and time travelers.

Apparently, Gettysburg is particularly haunted, not because of the many who died during the battle, but because it lies on a layer of quartz. Quartz conducts ghosts, as you may know if you watch these sorts of shows. I saw one once called Ghost Mine, about a mine haunted by spirits in the quartz. At one point, an investigator saw a shadow move past a light and yelled, “Does it make you angry that I’m a woman? And that I have red hair in a mine?” That one moment is more entertaining than this entire series, which adopts a tone that seems to mock its own material. It’s as if the narrator is saying “can you believe this stupid thing I’m telling you”?

Yet the true low point of the series comes with a self-described time traveler. A man named Andrew D. Basiago claims to have traveled back to Gettysburg as part of a DARPA project. He provides evidence – a photo of himself in the past. Surely conclusive, except…

andrewbasiagogettysburgThat man standing on his own, to the left of the three men? That’s him. The man whose face is indistinct. The man whose identity can never be proven.

Andrew D. Basiago also claims to have traveled to Mars with Barack Obama. Such are the experts trotted out by Mysteries at the National Parks.

Looking ahead, today – after a midday marathon of Ghost Adventures – there are two new episodes. One is about Chupacabra. The other concerns unexplained disappearances.

The makers of Mysteries at the National Parks look at beautiful places and see monsters. They look at historical monuments and see phantoms. They see you as a gullible rube, who must be terrified by imaginary demons and belittled by the show’s insulting, lowest common denominator tone.

When people attack reality shows, they generally talk about the Duck Dynastys and Honey Boo Boos of the world. At least the point of those shows is purely to entertain. It asks the audience to look down on its subjects. At their worst, they’re shows based on embarrassment. At their best, their broad archetypal subjects and easy laughs turn them into the modern equivalent of a TGIF sitcom.

But a show like this has no best-case scenario. It exists purely to misinform and scare. Its creators, or more likely its network, assume that this is all the world wants. It will, I have no doubt, perform well. Maybe it’s silly to spend so much time dwelling on a piece of cheap, Friday night death slot filler. But it is not alone.

As I type this, the Science Channel is airing a show about a man who claims to have been healed by aliens. The Animal Planet is airing a show about killer fish. I hear it promises a message of conservation. So did Discovery’s special where a man planned to be eaten alive by a snake. So does Shark Week. It’s easy to throw in a “save the animals!” message after showing them as objects of terror for an hour. It’s easy to have your narrator say they’re just asking questions to justify your specials about aliens and ghosts.

I can watch Long Island Medium, a show following a woman who uses cold reading to prey on the desperate and grieving. If I want to watch a show about skepticism, I can hope Mythbusters airs a episode not about movie stunts. I can watch Dr. Oz, an actual doctor, pitch miracle cures. If I want to see a show about medicine that doesn’t sell pseudoscience, well, I’m out of luck. The Mysteries at the National Parks of the world didn’t just take over, they pushed out anything more intelligent.

There is, of course, no audience for intelligent shows about history or science. That’s why Cosmos failed. That’s why Planet Earth was swiftly forgotten. That’s why there’s no such thing as a popular historian. That’s why there’s no interest in astronauts like Chris Hadfield, and that’s why Carl Sagan died in obscurity.

Mysteries at the National Park peddles bizarre conspiracy theories and fear in place of curiosity. It squanders wonderful, interesting places. It’s made by people who think the most interesting thing about Gettysburg is a guy who says he time traveled with Barack Obama. There may be worse shows yet in 2015, but none this sad. Here there be monsters – and I’m not talking about chupacabra.

 

New Slides Reveal that Roswell Aliens Looked Suspiciously Like Museum Exhibits

Conspiracy theorists are assholes. They hijack press conferences to scream about false flags. They harass family members of murder victims to make them “admit” that their dead child was a paid actor. At their worst, they engage in right-wing terrorism against the government.

So that’s why my heart holds a soft spot for the quickly vanishing UFO community. They think the government is plotting against the people, yes. But what they imagine is that the government is concealing, not a plot to destroy America and steal everyone’s guns, but secrets from the stars. They imagine life on other planets, aliens that would love to contact us and share their secrets, if only the dastardly government would let them.

Sadly, conspiracy theorists no longer dream of visitors from other worlds. They no longer study blurry photos and videos for a sign, any sign, that humans are not alone. The militia movement of the 90s has taken over their movement and expanded on its worse qualities. And, to be fair, they also no longer commit mass suicide so that they will be taken onboard a comet.

Yesterday, new slides from the 1947 weather balloon crash at Roswell were revealed in Mexico City. They promised to be the “smoking gun” that would prove the existence of aliens.

Here is the image:

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Source: Reddit.

That’s…a mummy. In a museum. Even UFO sites realized this, and the reaction to it among UFO die-hards seems to be a resounding “meh”. It’s an obvious hoax.

Still, for some the hunt to find out the “truth” will continue until they find the evidence they dream of.