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Famous 1971 Lago de Cote, Costa Rican UFO hoaxed?


Christopher O'Brien

Back in the Saddle Aginn
Staff member
[The following is a perfect example of how you should analyze an anomalous aerial object photograph. This is the famous Lago de Cote shot allegedly snapped remotely by a mapping plane over Costa Rica in 1971. Valle has featured the shot as have others such as Leslie Keane. I mentioned on-air to Leslie that Ray Stanford had analyzed the picture and figured out what it is and how the shot may have been fabricated. I urged her to contact him before touting the picture as genuine at this weekend's private NC UFO scientific conference. The following is what he forwarded along to her and I have his permission to reproduce his analysis here at the Paracast> --Chris]


The much-touted 1971 photo of an alleged UFO over a lake in Costa Rica actually shows a prosaic object.

SEE FOR YOURSELF
Costa Rica 1971 Photo.jpg
I decided to celebrate my recent 75th birthday anniversary by sharing with you something I discovered years ago: The September 4, 1971 photo of an alleged UFO over Lago de Cote in Costa Rica shows a prosaic object , not an anomalous one.
Thanks to Chris O'Brien's unsolicited comments on The Paracast for bringing me out of the closet on this.
I hope you will consider this letter a positive thing and not a negative one, because in scientific work, as in life, one must filter 'noise' to better monitor 'signal'. Perhaps you will agree after carefully studying what I have to say and present, that the Lago de Cote photograph belongs only in the archives of UFO studies as an example of how a photo that is a hoax and therefore constitutes nothing but 'noise', can for a time become esteemed by some as important evidence.
The Lago de Cote photo was discussed by Haines and Vallee in Photo Analysis of An Aerial Disc Over Costa Rica, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 3, number 2, pages 113 - 131, 1989, so let's begin by looking at part of the authors' summary.:
"In summary, our analyses have suggested that an unidentified, opaque, aerial object was captured on film at a maximum distance of 10,000 feet. There are no visible means of lift or propulsion and no surface markings other than dark regions that appear to be nonrandom... There is no indication that the image is the product of a double exposure or a deliberate fabrication"
To be fair and provide you access to both sides of the issue, I suggest you study the whole paper at:
http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_03_2_haines.pdf
Please note the qualifier in the above text, "have suggested". By saying "suggested", the authors provided a caveat that they are not stating established fact. Yet. some persons with whom I have communicated have mistaken their paper to be totally documented fact, perhaps because they have not read it carefully and as a result have mistaken a lot of measurements and the authors' possession of Ph.Ds (and the fact that the authors are well-known in 'UFO studies') as certification of a 'gospel' that the authors surely never intended.
Unfortunately, the paper's title might lead to the presumption that what was photographed was actually, "an aerial disc".
In reality, the authors come no where near showing that the object was. "... an unidentified, opaque, aerial object ...captured on film at a maximum distance of 10,000 feet".
They clearly state that no shadow of the object is visible, but they follow that with the suggestion that, "It should be emphasized that if the disc was located at the earth's surface one would not expect to find a significant shadow." Well, herein I suggest that the real reason there is no shadow is that a photographic image of an electric lantern (a large flashlight) reflector image was superimposed (See below.), and I could explain to the authors that there are several ways that could be done, and with the superposition remaining undetected by their study of film grain structure.

If the image source were an aerial object (as said in the paper's title), by definition it would be in the air and not "on the earth's surface", but can we 'have our cake and eat it, too' -- that is, have an object on the ground (or lake's surface) and in the air, too?
Also, shouldn't it concern a reader that even in the title the authors take the position that what was photographed was, to quote them, "An Aerial Disc" [My emphasis.].
"Aerial"? The authors certainly don't demonstrate that.
Is it really a disc? After careful; study, I am convinced the photo image reveals something else. (See images below.).
Shouldn't that interpretation ["an Aerial Disc"] in the paper's title more fairly have been posed as questions instead of stated as fact?
Then, too, if we accept the authors' proposition that the photo is of a real aerial object but that maybe it did not leave a shadow because "it was located at the earth's surface", we must presume that they consider the lake's surface as synonymous with the earth's surface, since, if a real object between the aircraft and the water was responsible for the strange image, it absolutely is not on the ground but on the water.
Yet,if that is accepted as a ' given', one must presume it to have zipped into position (the previous photo frame was taken only twenty seconds earlier and the object is not shown therein), stopped dead-still for its portrait, and then zipped off before the next automatic photo, which doesn't show it either.

One would expect some rather dramatic kinetic after-effects on the lake surface, even into the next photo. None are visible. Surely if it were at the surface of the lake, we would see some light-absorption-reflection differentials on the lake surface near the object, due to the fast arrival and sudden stop (no matter if it arrived from below the surface or from any direction above it), but none are evidenced in the photo. And the authors admit there is no trace of a shadow.

So, whatever made the strange image was reportedly unseen b y the photo-mapping crew.
It produced no shadow.
It seems more as myth than a physical reality.
That's highly strange, indeed, but it's not the class of high strangeness that constitutes a good 'UFO' case.
We see in the paper a lot of measurements and poor-quality descriptions -- such in where they try to describe the light and dark patterns on the 'object' image -- plus a large dose of what some might interpret as simply wishful thinking that an aerial object was really there.
Perhaps due to a perceived need to add something -- Seemingly anything! -- to bolster the severe paucity of substance to the photo case, even in the abstract the authors drag in a purely anecdotal report from about fifteen years later (October 25, 1986) of a "partially submerged object" (very dissimilar to anything shown in the photo) reportedly seen in the same lake. Only a true believer could feel that something of such difference in appearance and separated by fifteen years could have any relevance whatsoever. Again, it looks more like wishful thinking than science.
Both authors have demonstrated far better and more cautious writing than we encounter in the Lago de Cote photo report, so I prefer that we not regard either harshly for any problems in the paper. The best of researchers can slip up from time to time. Only the timid fail to make some guesses or take a chance on occasion.
And, as to the photo, itself, of course, even good writers can miss something (like failing to recognize what actually created a photographic image) that is obvious to a more visual type person, and in my opinion that's simply what happened to their analysis of that 1971 Costa Rica photo. Having read the above-referenced paper several times, I could give a more in-depth, point-by-point description of where and how, in my opinion, their analysis went wrong, but this letter is not the place for that.
Perhaps if Haines and Vallee had taken a relaxed look at the photo upside-down, they might have perceived the actual nature of the image, but that didn't happen, so some UFO websites around the planet have declared a photo that only shows something that definitely looks an electric lantern's dual-reflector system to be one of the best photos of a (They presume.) alien vehicle!
With that kind of wide-eyed faith in what one merely hopes is there, 'UFOlogy' fails without the contribution of hidden adversaries.
I am absolutely not referring to the authors of the paper, but to those who extrapolate well beyond anything the paper says, those who seemingly don't know how to discern what a paper's the authors say, but, equally important, what they DON'T SAY.
Even persons who don't realize what's actually shown in the September 4, 1971 photo often remark to the effect that 'something isn't right' with the image, but I believe that's primarily because the legend connected with the photo has them thinking they are supposed to be seeing a slope-flanged disc in sunlight, instead of an electric lantern's larger reflector illuminated from above by a two-tube fluorescent light fixture.


Reading the paper, one gets the impression that both authors may be quite uninformed, if not actually naive, about what darkroom techniques could have been used to imprint the image of concern onto the mapping photo film, and, presuming for a moment that the actual mapping photographer was not behind the hoax, even how the image could have been deliberately put onto the film that was to be used in the mapping operation before the film was loaded into the camera.

Some personal background: I decided to get myself well-informed on both photographic and darkroom tricks way back in the late 1950s, because beginning at age 15 -- for a few years during my teens -- I was taken in by the photo hoaxes of George Adamski. Well, I got, as I said at the time, "fed up with it", and learned things that compelled me to publicly expose Adamski's fake photos and movies, as well as the ones of Daniel W. Fry, and a lot of other photo hoaxes since then. Those with the will to believe based on nothing but wishful thinking are not happy with my to willingness to expose the 'noise' and well as to help discern the signal in AAO photographic claims.
In examining any alleged UFO image(s), it is advisable that we not lean on the hope that we might be seeing, e.g., a 'metallic UFO' (as some persons allege to be seen in the 1971 Costa Rica photo), but simply look at the image with objectivity, asking ourselves what we might really be seeing and how it might have gotten into the film, movie, or video. That is especially important in a highly suspect case like the 1971 Costa Rica photo, wherein it is said that NO ONE SAW THE OBJECT.

In some such 'didn't see it' photo cases, we must consider the possibility that the claim is made to divert any possible suspicion away from a hoaxing photographer -- especially in cases wherein the alleged 'UFO' is so graphic that it clearly is not a bird, balloon, or insect, etc., that just wasn't noticed by the photographer.

I'm not at all saying that a bona-fide anomalous aerial object couldn't show up in a photo, unnoticed at the time, and perhaps due to any number of possible reasons. I'm just saying that as researchers we must be very cautious about accepting the objective reality of puzzling images, such as the one under discussion, alleged to have been photographed, 'unbeknownst to the photographer', regardless of how emotionally appealing to our hope for photographic evidence an alleged image might be.
So, please carefully read and think about the images and all the text you see below. Note that in my analysis, THE UNFOCUSED FRONT EDGE SHOWS THAT THE OBJECT WAS SMALL AND TOO NEAR THE CAMERA FOR THAT EDGE TO GET IN FOCUS, unlike the lake scene in the photograph. Thus,we can deduce that the object in question was separately photographed with a lens focus at inches-close range (but with the front edge still out of focus because it's so close), while the terrestrial scene was photographed with a lens focused far out from the camera.
On page 221, the authors tell us, puzzlingly, that "...the entire image is in sharp focus..." As anyone can see in the images below, that is absolutely incorrect, unless one wishes to serve some faulted concept of 'analysis' that only wants to accept the clearest details of the object.
That wouldn't be science, but it is wishful thinking.
Some wide-eyed believers have stated that the near edge (the lower edge in the photo as published) of the object is indistinct because that part of the object is in the water, but there is no sign of any lake-surface turbulence that would surely result (and be visible due to the bright sunlight) from such a situation, regardless of whether the object is hypothesized to be entering, or leaving, the lake.

Instead of such unsupported speculation, discovery is better served via unexcited, objective analysis, divorced from any fear whatsoever that we might be crumbling some believer's cookie -- be that 'believer' outside ourselves or internal to ourselves.
The following combination of images with text is not intended to be a scientific paper (That would be far more detailed and in-depth.), but it's just an illustration I've quickly done to explain and show you what I feel confident was photographed, but without going into the several technical methods that could easily have been used to impose the image over the mapping photo of the lake area in a way that Haines' and Vallee's examination would have failed to detect. (Keep in mind that the 1971 photo was made back in the days of emulsion-film photography, so we are not involved with a 'PhotoShop job'.)

Please attentively read what the text says, paying special attention to where I point out that the cut-out black 'mask' [in the dashed-white-line ellipses and at the turquoise-colored arrows in the illustration at right] fails to match the curvature of the larger reflector, and that the black mask is so close to the camera on the lower -- near -- side as to not be in focus.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Perhaps you will agree after carefully studying what I have to say and present, that the Lago de Cote photograph belongs only in the archives of UFO studies as an example of how a photo that is a hoax and therefore constitutes nothing but 'noise', can for a time become esteemed by some as important evidence.
The object sure does look like a flashlight reflector. But Ray's also got it blown up significantly in his analysis. On the actual photo, the object is very small. I'm no photo expert, but wouldn't this require a lot of optical reduction? It's not a Photoshop job, so that would have meant access to the government film and a photo lab with a big enlarger/reducer. It would have taken time to set it up just right, and this would imply that the government guys hoaxed it. Or could it have been an accidental reflection of a similar shaped lighting fixture inside the aircraft bouncing off the glass window below the camera lens? Maybe it's not actually hoax, but an exploited artifact? That sort of thing would explain the same optical effects without having to invoke all the complications that would have to go along with hoaxing this particular photo.

Somewhat synchronistically, I'm writing this post from inside an Indigo Books hotspot where they have conical fixtures hanging from the ceiling that are throwing a very similar reflection off my laptop screen.
 

withoutlimits09

Paranormal Adept
Just because you can reproduce the way something looks using conventional objects like a flashlight does not mean the actual object in question is a flashlight. From a distance a helicopter looks like a small peanut in the sky. Just because I can throw an actual peanut into the sky and photograph it, does not make the helicopter any less real. The photography of the dot sized helicopter and the photograph of the peanut may look very similar, although both are hardly alike.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Just because you can reproduce the way something looks using conventional objects like a flashlight does not mean the actual object in question is a flashlight. From a distance a helicopter looks like a small peanut in the sky. Just because I can throw an actual peanut into the sky and photograph it, does not make the helicopter any less real. The photography of the dot sized helicopter and the photograph of the peanut may look very similar, although both are hardly alike.
True enough. That's why rather than simply agreeing that the case has now been solved, I said, "The object sure does look like a flashlight reflector." However that being said, I still had reservations before, and now I have even more.
 

Christopher O'Brien

Back in the Saddle Aginn
Staff member
You would be well advised to re-visit Ray's observations without limits, for he points out several glaring problems with the image. It's a shame some people have a problem w/ good old fashioned detective work coupled with a high-degree of insight and informed analysis.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
You would be well advised to re-visit Ray's observations without limits, for he points out several glaring problems with the image. It's a shame some people have a problem w/ good old fashioned detective work coupled with a high-degree of insight and informed analysis.
First off, thanks for nudging Ray :). It's great to see him participating and I wish we could see more of him right here on the Paracast. Also, to be more clear on my position above, my comments were to let withoutlimits09 know that in general terms, he has a fair point. I also don't think there's enough evidence to be 100% sure the photo is a deliberate hoax. Like I said, I'm no photo expert, but I do know enough to know that the question I posed on the possibility of an accidental artifact is reasonable. Plus, I'm always open to re-evaluation if there is something you or Ray think I missed that would be sufficient to rule that out. Most importantly is how Ray's analysis applies to Kean, who seems to have been placing far more value on this photo than is deserved. If us lowly ufologists have serious reservations, shouldn't she be even more conservative? She's gonna give those UAPers ( pronounced "yappers" ), a bad reputation ;).
 

withoutlimits09

Paranormal Adept
True enough. That's why rather than simply agreeing that the case has now been solved, I said, "The object sure does look like a flashlight reflector." However that being said, I still had reservations before, and now I have even more.

I apologize. The heading above the photo states:

"The much-touted 1971 photo of an alleged UFO over a lake in Costa Rica actually shows a prosaic object." This sounds very matter of fact to me, this does not say "it appears to show" or "may show" it says definitively, the picture "actually shows."

On the image itself, the heading states that it shows a flashlight's business end! Though the author is a tad more reserved in his analyisis, my point is the intent here is to claim the image is a hoax and the object IS a flashlight.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I apologize. The heading above the photo states:
"The much-touted 1971 photo of an alleged UFO over a lake in Costa Rica actually shows a prosaic object." This sounds very matter of fact to me, this does not say "it appears to show" or "may show" it says definitively, the picture "actually shows."
On the image itself, the heading states that it shows a flashlight's business end! Though the author is a tad more reserved in his analyisis, my point is the intent here is to claim the image is a hoax and the object IS a flashlight.
No need to apologize. Got all that the first time around.
 

Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
I've read both papers now and while Stanford has some very compelling points i.e. no one saw the object, the object is missing from the other frames, there does appear to be some distortion in the disc's shape, suggesting an imperfect darkroom event. The points against Stanford's analysis is that he is not working with an original negative or even a first generation neg., as in Haines and Vallee's discussion, nor does he outline any specific darkroom technique that would still provide consistency in film grain across the negative.

Given that this is a large format film, then working with something as close as possible to the original negative is needed before any blown up single slides, as presented by Stanford highlighting errors in the image, can be taken as accurate. His reasoning is sound, and the prosaic image suggested by him as the true object makes a lot of sense to me. But I would like to see his photographic analysis completed a little more professionally using a better primary source. What is described in Haines and Vallee's analysis is a well focussed image with consistent film grain. I do not accept Ray Stanford's contrary points in this regard based on what appears to be a much more degraded image that he is using for his purposes. Unfortunately, that ends up negating a lot of his finer points and contentions. At the very least he should explicitly identify the darkroom technique used to create an image with the grain consistency that Haines and Vallee say is present in their report.

I would also like to point out that his post did not make much traction at UFO Updates whereas the Klass Vanlentich more recent post certainly stirred up a lot of responses. If his discussion is accurate I would expect to see some feedback from some of the big players on that list given the historical significance of this photo.
 

Christopher O'Brien

Back in the Saddle Aginn
Staff member
I spoke w/ Ray and he mentioned that he was given a first-gen 8 1/2 X 11 print by Richard Haines in then 80s, but because he wanted to give Leslie his heads up before she went to NC, he didn't take the time to locate the original in his files to illustrate his analysis. Evidently, he has many of his important photos in a fireproof box and didn't have the time to go and retrieve it and locate the print. If and when he does, I would think he'll insert the higher-rez version. However, I don't think that this will make any difference—his analysis speaks for itself: the object is a masked reflection that appears to have been inserted onto the image and processed onto the original in a darkroom.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I spoke w/ Ray and he mentioned that he was given a first-gen 8 1/2 X 11 print by Richard Haines in then 80s, but because he wanted to give Leslie his heads up before she went to NC, he didn't take the time to locate the original in his files to illustrate his analysis. Evidently, he has many of his important photos in a fireproof box and didn't have the time to go and retrieve it and locate the print. If and when he does, I would think he'll insert the higher-rez version. However, I don't think that this will make any difference—his analysis speaks for itself: the object is a masked reflection that appears to have been inserted onto the image and processed onto the original in a darkroom.
Interesting. However, expanding a bit on what I'd mentioned before, for the Costa Rican UFO photo to be a "masked reflection that appears to have been inserted onto the image and processed onto the original in a darkroom." we would then need to assume the following:
  1. Hoaxers gained access to the original government mapping film during the original processing and setup the hoax completely undisturbed by officials.
  2. Hoaxers kept the hoax a secret all these years.
  3. Hoaxers went to all the trouble to create a hoax that would be accidentally discovered years later or ...
  4. Hoaxers arranged for the photo to "find its way into the hands of a Costa Rican investigator, Mr. Ricardo Vilchez."
If the above is all true, it had to have been an intentional hoax on the part of the original technicians that handled the government film, implying government involvement. Although possible, is it the most reasonable? Could the hoax have been made using a duplicate negative at a later date in the privacy of the hoaxer's own lab? In the Haines & Vallée analysis, they say:

"Mr. Vilchez was kind enough to provide a second-generation negative to be taken back to the United States for analysis. Later we requested and obtained detailed maps of the area in question, as well as copies of the immediately preceding and following frames, respectively numbers 299 and 301."
Question: Because V & H's report doesn't say that Vilchez supplied frames 299 and 301, are we left to assume that they were obtained from a separate source? If this is true, why didn't Haines & Vallée not also request another copy of frame 300 ( the disk frame ) so it could be compared with the one Vilchez had given them? This should have been an obvious step before entering into all the technical analysis. Did they simply assume that the one obtained from Vilchez was a true copy? So the plot seems to be thickening regarding an intentional hoax using a duplicate negative. I wonder if frame 300 might still be ordered from Costa Rica's department of Geological Surveys or Lands or whatever they call it down there?

There is also still option 3. which is that the object is a purely coincidental artifact caused by the reflection of a similarly shaped fixture, perhaps reflecting off the glass below the camera, or maybe during the lab processing. Personally, without further evidence to substantiate an intentional hoax, Ockham's Razor would suggest that it's simply an accidental artifact that has been seized on by opportunistic or less discerning UFO researchers. Consider V & H's comment as follows:

"To summarize, there are enough inconsistencies in the appearance of the image to raise doubts that it represents a physical object. The most serious of these is that the image's sharpness appears in places to exceed the resolving power of the lens. This issue can and should be evaluated quantitatively. If the resolving power has, in fact, been exceeded, then the observation must be rejected as representing a photograph of an aerial disc."
 

Goggs Mackay

Administrator
Staff member
I find it refreshing that this analysis was done by someone who is certain of the reality of 'anomalous aerial objects' and not a skeptic/debunker. It's good that such things can be done 'in house'.

I'm no photography expert but I can follow Ray's explanation and it seems reasonable. Very compelling to me, is not the fact it resembles the lantern but the masking round the side. That is very suspect. Nice one Mr. Stanford.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I find it refreshing that this analysis was done by someone who is certain of the reality of 'anomalous aerial objects' and not a skeptic/debunker. It's good that such things can be done 'in house'.
I'm no photography expert but I can follow Ray's explanation and it seems reasonable. Very compelling to me, is not the fact it resembles the lantern but the masking round the side. That is very suspect. Nice one Mr. Stanford.
Vallée and Haines also had doubts about the image, so Stanford's analysis is more a theory on what the image actually is, rather than a refutation of their paper. Also, Stanford is assuming the object was masked when the areas Ray points out could simply be the way the reflector ( if that's what it was ) was mounted and illuminated. Consequently, the hoax theory is based more on assumption about the evidence, than conclusive evidence. However given the factors mentioned in my previous post, a hoax certainly cannot be ruled out, and Ray's uncanny ability to recognize patterns isn't something I'd want to bet against. Either way, whether it's a hoax or an artifact, when we add in Vallée and Haines' own reservations, it seems that citing this image as a crystal clear photographic example is highly exaggerated.
 

uforadio

Paranormal Adept
Background facts about the photo's origin - more in original paper:
http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_03_2_haines.pdf




Background



On September 4, 1971 a mapping aircraft of the government of Costa Rica with a crew of four recorded an unusual disc-shaped image as it was flying over the region of Arenal. It took several years for this photograph to find its way into the hands of a Costa Rican investigator, Mr. Ricardo Vilchez who (along with his brother Eduardo) runs a civilian research group in San Jose.
In 1980 Mr. Vilchez met in person with Sergio L. V., the specialist in aerial
photography who was aboard the aircraft that day. They discussed the circumstances surrounding the flight and the photograph without reaching a conclusion regarding the nature of the object. One of the authors saw the photograph while attending a meeting in Costa Rica in 1985, and Mr. Vilchez was kind enough to provide a second-generation negative to be taken back to the United States for analysis. Later we requested and obtained detailed maps of the area in question, as well as copies of the immediately preceding and following frames, respectively numbers 299 and 301. These photographs did not show the disc that was present on frame number 300.
In spite of the lack of a first-generation negative, we felt several unusual
factors justified a detailed analysis of this photograph, if only to refine our
methodology in dealing with such evidence: (1) it was taken by a high-quality professional camera; (2) the camera was looking down, which implies a maximum distance, hence a maximum size for the object; (3) the disc was seen against a reasonably uniform dark background of a body of water; and (4) the image was large, in focus and provided significant detail.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The Plot Thickens Further:

So it turns out that the analysts managed to get hold of the original film, which inturn generates some more questions and comments:
  • Really? At the request of Vilchez, Vallée and Sturrock, the Costa Rican Government gleefully went digging through their archives, managed to find the original negative film strip, and physically cut out three of the original connected frames? That's pretty generous.
  • The article says:
"We are pleased to state that through the efforts of Peter Sturrock, Jacques Vallee,
and Ricardo Vilchez in San Jose, Costa Rica we received three connected frames
(No.299-30 1) of the original black and white negative on February 1 1, 1990."
  • Who exactly is the "we" the article is referring to? The supplement is written as though it is the Journal of Scientific Exploration that received the negatives.
  • Where were the negatives delivered from? Directly from the Costa Rican Government? I'd like to see something confirming this chain of evidence. The package that the film was delivered in, requisition documents, and so on. None of this is really clear.
  • And who exactly is doing the analysis? It's not said either.
  • They ( whoever they are ) claim that a reflection has been ruled out, however it's not clear how that was done. I'm not even sure it can be done with 100% certainty.
  • What about this part from the first paper:
"To summarize, there are enough inconsistencies in the appearance of the image to raise
doubts that it represents a physical object. The most serious of these is that the image's
sharpness appears in places to exceed the resolving power of the lens. This issue can
and should be evaluated quantitatively. If the resolving power has, in fact, been exceeded,
then the observation must be rejected as representing a photograph of an aerial disc."
I see nothing in this supplement that should cause them to retract the above statement. In fact it would seem that there is even more evidence to support it.
Conclusions:

If the image's sharpness appears in places to exceed the resolving power of the lens, then logically, acquiring a negative with even more detail should only reinforce that concern. Given that no explanation has been given as to why this concern has not been addressed, combined with a lack of any explanation as to why a reflection was ruled out, even though it theoretically could cause this artifact, I don't find the evidence sufficient to rule out the possibility of a reflected artifact.

The other concern here is that I just noticed that both articles are from the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Given the lack of specifics regarding the scientific analysis of this film within the context of a scientific setting, it's regrettable that I'm forced to conclude that this all amounts to pseudoscience. But it gets even worse because the additional evidence for it being pseudoscience is pretty much airtight. Consider this quote from Wikipedia:

"The Journal of Scientific Exploration is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal of fringe science published by the Society for Scientific Exploration that was established in 1987. According to its mission statement, the journal provides a forum for research on topics outside the established disciplines of mainstream science."

Also consider the Wikipedia quote below with respect to the journal's publishers:

"The Society for Scientific Exploration, or SSE, is a professional organization of scientists and other scholars committed to studying unusual and unexplained phenomena that cross traditional scientific boundaries and may be ignored or inadequately studied within mainstream science. The opinions of the organization are usually at odds with those of mainstream science."

With the above we've just stepped off the ledge of scientific responsibility ( and consequently responsible ufology ), and back into pseudoscience. If nothing else, this should underscore what I've been trying to get across in many other posts. When science is done in ufology it should be done by real scientists at arms length from the field using all the accepted guidelines that they themselves are held accountable to. This is the only way to ensure that when scientific evidence in ufology is presented that it will either meet accepted scientific standards, or that if it doesn't, the finger will be pointed at the scientists and not back at ufology.

Once again, our primary role in ufology is to act as responsible journalists and reporters, and to do what we can to facilitate genuine science by bringing valid scientific evidence to the attention of the scientific community. Having genuine scientists within ufology can be a tremendous advantage in this endeavor, but doing the science ourselves without being able to substantiate it before the scientific establishment only invites accusations of pseudoscience. It may seem counterintuitive, but if ufology wants respect from the scientific establishment then ufology needs to back off from science itself and hire the scientific establishment to do the job according to their own standards.

Afterthought:

Clearly groups like MUFON haven't thought the pseudoscience issue through, otherwise they wouldn't have "The Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit Of Humanity" as their motto. So unfortunately, although Decker called MUFON "dead" on DMR, it might be better if that were actually true, because unfortunately MUFON is still very much alive and fostering this problem. I've written to them in the past to suggest that they reword their motto to something that would be less like bait for skeptics, but haven't even received the courtesy of a response, such is their politics, not to mention this year's list of speakers, which includes Steven Greer :confused:. Any bets on just how much actual science we're likely to get out of this event?
 

Bulk

Skilled Investigator
UFO Photo : Lago de Cote, Costa Rica - September 4, 1971

When I examined the (not upsidedown Stanford photo) Costa Rica photo at the above link, I noticed a line or scratch bisecting the light blob on the reflection making it look like there's 2 light sources. The scratch or line continues down to the lower right. I know that your eye will catch it, if it hasn't done so already. If I can find a shallow, wide conical reflector I intend to attempt to duplicate the conditions using a tilting stage allowing for the proper sun angle, to see what turns up.

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Skilled Investigator
Day, time and location photo was taken : 4 sep 1971, 8:27 am San Jose, Costa Rica, sun elevation = approx 44 deg at 8:27 am.

angle of object based on line derived from cut-off or immersion into lake in relation to the sun: approx 27 deg

angle of plane of object in relation to lake: approx 40 to 60 deg


Made a reflective cone out of aluminum can cylinder. Cut a radius to center. By overlapping and taping, made it so I can tape it as convex or concave object.

Thought about using trees for direction of sun, but because terrain is uneven, this was not possible. Settled on rectangular structure. Zooming in to the structure, I noticed that the sides of it farthest from the sun displayed approximately the same depths of shadows. So bisecting this angle using irfanview's paint dialog tools gives an approximate direction in the xy plane of the sun.

Top left of original photo, there is a rectangular, presumably level structure whose shadows give approximate xy angle of sun. Drew perpendicular to apparent center of object. Drew line along apparent cut-off or immersion into lake of object, this came out to approx 27deg, when setting the sun angle = 0 deg.

Determined elevation of sun at Costa Rica at the date and time from:

Sunrise and Sunset for Costa Rica – San Jose – September 1971

I intend to set up this scenario, using direct sunlight and the approx angles derived from the original photo. I intend to try both concave and convex modes using these angles tomorrow.

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