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Your Paracast Newsletter — June 14, 2020

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The Paracast Newsletter
June 14, 2020

Skeptical Researcher Benjamin Radford Talks Chupacabra and Other Mysteries on The Paracast!

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This Week's Episode: Gene and Randall present the return of skeptical paranormal researcher Benjamin Radford, an editor for Skeptical Inquirer, and author of a dozen books that include “Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore.” During this interview, Ben reveals the origin of what he regards as the Chupacabra myth. He also focuses on the Naval gun camera photos that have received lots of mainstream press coverage and other topics. Ben received a bachelors degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico and a masters in education from the University of Buffalo. He is a member of the American Folklore Society, the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club and the American College of Forensic Examiners International. He has written over a thousand articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and media literacy.

J. Randall Murphy's Ufology Society International: Ufology Society International (USI) - Explore the UFO Phenomenon

Benjamin Radford's Blog: Blog - Benjamin Radford

After The Paracast -- Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on June 14: Gene and Randall present the second part of an interview with skeptical researcher Benjamin Radford, which began on the June 14, 2020 episode of The Paracast. The discussion continues to focus on Ben's books, emphasizing our fear of clowns as possible evil-doers, cricketers, evidence of mass hysteria, and the ever-mysterious goings on in New Mexico. Does he buy claims that the U.S. government may have been responsible for some of the early UFO and abduction-related episodes? Ben has done first-hand research into mysterious phenomena in 16 countries on four continents including psychics, ghosts and haunted houses; exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, and crop circles, and many other topics.

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What Constitute’s Proof?
By Gene Steinberg

One of the most oft-quoted statements in the early UFO era came from Capitan Edward J. Ruppelt, in his, at the time, popular UFO work, “The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.”

He wrote: “What constitutes proof? Does a UFO have to land at the River Entrance to the Pentagon, near the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices? Or is it proof when a ground radar station detects a UFO, sends a jet to intercept it, the jet pilot sees it, and locks on with his radar, only to have the UFO streak away at a phenomenal speed? Is it proof when a jet pilot fires at a UFO and sticks to his story even under the threat of court-martial? Does this constitute proof?”

On the surface, Ruppelt’s book was as pro-UFO as one could get, and it seemed evident that he did believe they were real, perhaps that they were spaceships.

Except in a subsequent three chapter addendum to the book, written months before his death at the age of 38 of a heart attack, Ruppelt essentially discredited the rest of his book. In response to whether he believes UFOs exist as possible spaceships, he wrote, approximately, “I’m positive they don’t,” and went on to repeat the standard debunking meme that even the unknowns could be explained as conventional objects or phenomena.

When Ruppelt’s contemporary and friend, Major Donald E. Keyhoe, wrote about the matter in one of his own books, he said that Ruppelt’s book was changed under severe pressure. I suppose it’s possible, though it would seem that backtracking on the impression conveyed in the first part of the book drew more attention to it.

Better to have let sleeping dogs lie.

Except that Ruppelt is largely forgotten among most people in the UFO field today, and Keyhoe is generally regarded as a relic of the past, even though his writings on disclosure and the existence of a UFO Silence Group largely mimic current claims about the government hiding the secret.

Best to give credit where credit is due.

But regardless of the pressures he allegedly confronted, Ruppelt made a point. Something strange is going on that cannot be explained away. For over 70 years in the modern UFO era, perhaps millions of people have reported flying things that do not appear to behave in any way that can be recognized as conventional.

Forgetting the blurry spots of light that pass for the vast majority of UFO photos, most people aren’t making things up. When the sightings are made by what we perceive to be experienced observers, such as airline pilots and radar operators, it’s very clear that Ruppelt’s unexpected pronouncement that he was convinced UFOs aren’t unknowns is just not so.

That, however, doesn’t mean that we have ironclad evidence of what’s going on, and there’s lots of room for skeptics to decry the value of much of it.

We also have claims that, over the years, have not fulfilled their promise.

Take the late Dr. Roger Leir, a podiatrist by profession, who collected purported alien implants. Now even one object betraying technology that we cannot duplicate would constitute sufficient evidence of possible alien visitation. Just one object.

But through his long life — Leir died at the age of 78 in 2014 — the evidence he claimed to possess has never passed a proper forensic examination. The skeptic’s assertions that these objects were ordinary materials that somehow became lodged in the bodies of individuals have yet to be disproved.

At a time when public interest in UFOs has grown due to the revelations of a Pentagon UFO study and those Naval gun camera photos, this would be the perfect time for that material to be submitted to further study.

Otherwise, Leir’s claims will become ever more obscure as time goes by. Surely such people who allegedly have access to the evidence, such as abduction researcher Derrel Sims, would want to provide it.

But if you check the online materials about Sim’s research, you run across a claim that has yet to be updated: “Derrel’s team of medical and scientific consultants continue to study the evidence of alien implants, both in surgically removed objects and anomalous objects still in the body. Much more testing remains to be done, and Sims urges a healthy skepticism while continuing to forge ahead.”

Really? How much testing do you need to determine if this material is alien in origin? Would it take a few hours, a few days, a few weeks? Surely not months and years, with no end in sight?

Then there’s all that physical trace evidence that the late Ted Phillips reportedly collected over the years. Again, if such evidence is proof positive of the presence of aircraft of alien origin, it should have been produced by now. It doesn’t take thousands of objects, tens of thousands of pages of reports.

Just a few soil samples to demonstrate that something otherworldly landed.

Now I grant this may be more difficult to achieve. It may well be that, unless UFOs deposited materials that represent advanced technology, there’d be nothing other than indentations in the ground or possibly crushed or burnt foliage and other material. There’d be no proof that ET had been there.

When it comes to alien implants, however, it could be, I suppose, that ET’s RFID chips are no more advanced than ours, or that the technology was deliberately altered to appear conventional. When you get beyond little pebbles, needles and other stuff, nothing would be discovered to reveal ET’s existence.

Thus the claims of abductees might never advance beyond verbal descriptions. I suppose that’s possible.

When it comes to implants, our dog, Teddy Bear, was microchipped by the rescue agency that acquired him before Barbara and I adopted him. Removing it would reveal that it is nothing particularly advanced.

It may also be that, if ET is truly responsible for abductions, and doesn’t want anyone to acquire evidence of their existence, they might employ their advanced technology to create microscopic implants that wouldn’t be readily detected, or would quietly self-destruct if removed.

I do think there is a genuine UFO phenomenon, and that attempts to explain it away have failed. But it would be nice to have some more photos that are demonstrably genuine, and surely some physical evidence that does pass muster.

I’m just sick and tired of claims that never pan out.

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