|A sketch of UFOs over the stadium by Silvio Neri (Credit: www.bbc.com)|
Another audience with the priesthood
|By Billy Cox|
Nice job by BBC World Service last week on the 60-year anniversary of the UFO that brought an Italian soccer game to a screeching halt. In case you missed it, the Brits managed to corral a few of the players and some of the 10,000 fans who watched as an egg-like object flew in slow and brazen fashion, in broad daylight, above the stadium, and created enduring memories. One described the thing as shaped “like Cuban cigars.” All reported how the object, or objects, discharged a glittering material; some researchers called it “angel hair” which, according to some anecdotal accounts, is a sticky, fibrous and rapidly dissolving substance sometimes associated with UFO sightings.
Some witnesses actually retrieved this stuff, which reportedly covered rooftops in the immediate aftermath of the 10/27/54 incident; before the material dissolved, one Italian scientist put it under a scope and identified elements of boron, silicon, calcium and magnesium. Unfortunately, none of the material is available for analysis today.
But what was perhaps more instructive was astronomer/”skeptic” James McGaha’s interview with the BBC. McGaha, who never met a UFO he couldn’t explain, said his first take on the case was that the Italians had actually been startled by a daytime meteor. But then he began to focus on another bizarre phenomenon involving the autumn migration of young web-spinning spiders.
“The spiders use these webs as sails and they link together and you get a big glob of this stuff in the sky and the spiders ride on this to move between locations,” he told the Brits. “They just fly on the wind and these things have been recorded at 14,000 feet above the ground. So, when the sunlight glistens off this, you get all kinds of visual effects.”
And certainly, if you check out the “ballooning spider” videos posted on the BBC link, a case could be made for McGaha’s explanation. Dissenting BBC sources argue that spider silk is an organic protein made of nitrogen, calcium, hydrogen and oxygen, none of which jibe with the original findings. But the point is moot because there's none of the 1954 residue left to assess.
What’s interesting about McGaha is his certitude. Asked if the material could’ve come from a UFO, he replies “It’s an absolutely silly idea. Science totally rejects this idea.” Wow. This isn’t just a personal pronoun issue — this man has singlehandedly appropriated an entire noun for himself and assumed the mantle of science incarnate. De Void feels for McGaha; this is one hell of a cross to bear. Do go on: “You know the whole UFO phenomenon is nothing but myth, magic and superstition, wrapped up in this idea that somehow aliens are coming here either to save us to destroy us.”
In a way, McGaha’s reduction of the world to a tableau of facile binary choices is reassuring. It means everybody else doesn’t have to think so hard.
But for those who actually pay attention to inconvenient details, strap on your hip-waders. This is the same guy who dispensed with the meticulously researched 2008 Stephenville UFO incident — reconstructed through federal radar records — as the work of agenda-driven conspiracy freaks cherry-picking skin-paint pingback patterns. Their agenda, for as-yet-unexplained reasons, was apparently to obfuscate a military flare-dropping exercise over rural Texas back in January 08. Never mind that the eyewitnesses were evidently so stupid they couldn’t tell the difference between a solid, aircraft carrier-sized UFO cruising slowly over their town and F-16s with afterburners. Never mind how the radar data confirmed the direction in which these stupid eyewitnesses claimed the UFO was flying. Never mind that the USAF, which refused to release its own radar results and initially denied it had planes in the air that night, was forced to admit these stupid eyewitnesses actually got it right about seeing its F-16s in the sky that evening. Never mind that McGaha never produced any military confirmation of his flare-drop pronouncement. Never mind that McGaha’s single eyewitness to his flare-drop pronouncement is unnamed.
When it comes to UFO coverage, it's always best to consult with authorities whose identities are interchangeable with Science itself; without them, reality might look frail and tenuous. And defending reality, especially the reality that conferred their vestments upon them in the first place, is far more preferable to looking weak by issuing pantywaist statements like "I don't know."
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