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The Anomalist

February 17

Last summer American diplomats in Cuba experienced something, leading even mainstream outlets to humor James Bond-ian spycraft and gadgetry. Victims underwent extensive testing and Richard Stone presents those conclusions, only serving to deepen the mystery. Robert Bartholomew strongly disagrees by pointing out how this Major New Study On These "Sonic Attacks" Is Alarmingly Inaccurate. Enumerating Douglas Smith and company's oversights, it becomes clear the paper "Neurological Manifestations Among US Government Personnel Reporting Directional Audible and Sensory Phenomena in Havana, Cuba" is more about disinformation than actual science. What aren't they telling us? (CS)

Just when you thought it was safe to open email attachments again, some eggheads suggest trolls from Zeta Reticuli are keen on infecting our computers with viruses. Andrew Griffin says installing McAfee isn't enough, and we should protect ourselves with an artificial intelligence on the moon. Matters get sillier from there. On the bright side, the Crypto-Currency Craze Is 'Hindering The Search For Extraterrestrial Life'. In the pursuit of initial coin offerings, NEETs and nerds are snapping up processors better served to detect alien signals than crunching through blockchains. Peeking into the rabbit hole, let's consider the blockchain as an adversarial memetic virus playing upon humanity's propensity for greed. An alien technology 'emailed' to Earth, employed by Satoshi Nakamoto, then spreading by the promise of easy money. Easy money isn't free since the blockchain's power requirements are unsustainable for civilizations not on the Kardashev scale. Not only is SETI technologically hampered, leaving us deaf and mute to 'good' aliens, we face a ridiculous future where the sum of Earth's energy is used for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies. Another looney theory suggests Bitcoin and company are a libertarian Ponzi Scheme devised by a hidden Turing-grade artificial intelligence with the purpose of paying for eir server space and bandwidth. A down-to-earth hypothesis concerns Russia leveraging the West's burgeoning energy demands from the blockchain to force an easing, or outright lifting, of international sanctions impacting Russia's energy industry. No sanctions means Russia could compete with Saudia Arabia and Iran, making Russia "great again". Such an action would affirm to Putin the world would look the other way should another sovereign country get invaded or annexed. The cherry on top? America seems poised to make fossil fuels, rather than renewables, the future. Do the math. (CS)

With all of those nutty ideas in mind, let's ruminate upon Yasemin Saplakoglu's headline question. Despite current American immigration policies, Americans would celebrate the arrival of aliens. Just as long as they weren't wearing sombreros. The rest of the planet? Well, they're not so optimistic. Take Australia's Greg Taylor giving his two dollarydoos on Why Finding Alien Life Would Be A Horrible Thing For Humanity. Kurzgesagt - In A Nutshell's presentation is based on several "what-ifs", and baitworthy doom porn, but it's something for any anomalist to chew on. (CS)

He's ba-aa-ack! Despite reports of ostracization, EsoterX comes bearing gifts from the darkest curiosity shops run by centenarian Asians. The best laid schemes of ancient Egyptian beer meisters gang aft agley when they try to help a spook, with unexpected consequences. Khonsuemheb had good intentions, but everyone knows those make the finest paving material this side of paradise. Other souls resign themselves to rocks, similar to those found by Paul Cropper upon investigating a Stone Throwing Poltergeist Tormenting A Zimbabwe Family. Bringing us to Tim Binnall's dirty little secret: his fancy-pants doll collection. He's negotiating the purchase of a unique addition to his tea party, one notorious for exuding the "heebie-jeebies" in person and through photographs. Can You Feel This Haunted Doll? We certainly did, but that might be last night's pizza and bourbon. (CS)

Fata morgana could be the explanation for a curious event off the shore of Ballyconnelly, yet Fortean Ireland's confounded as to the nature of darkness which befell Coleraine. In the same measure, Brett Tingley is hard at work to suss out the agency behind those Unexplained Mystery Booms Across America. One thread Brett's following involves Trump's Sons, Mysterious Explosions, And A Haunted Psychiatric Hospital in upstate New York. Maybe the lads are preparing to pursue the most dangerous game, contributing a few more ghosts to this haunted plot of land. (CS)

February 16

Australian fortean Paul Cropper--co-author of two fabulous books, The Yowie: In Search of Australia's Bigfoot and Australian Poltergeist: The Stone-throwing Spook of Humpty Doo and Many Other Cases--has just started a new blog and his first post is a dozy. It's all about the "rain" of fish that took place in Texas on the afternoon of January 16, 2018. His investigation, conducted remotely we assume, is a model of how these things should be done. The report considers several proposed explanation and finds them all lacking. What better way to kick off a fortean blog! (PH)

An independent researcher has cast doubt on the anomalous nature of one of the two videos publicly released along with the announcement of the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) last December. Greg Taylor describes two videos produced by Ian Goddard that suggest features of the gimbal infrared system, when locked onto a jet aircraft, could cause results extremely similar to what the 2015 GIMBAL video portrays. The explanation is on its face impressive, although as Greg notes, it does not "prove" that the subject of the video was indeed a jet. Another quibble is that Goddard's explanation only applies to the single image on the video, when the accompanying audio includes the words "There's a whole fleet of them; look on the ASA". We do not hear that sentence in the Goddard videos, but the Metabunk people discuss this issue in their review entitled NYT: GIMBAL Video of U.S. Navy Jet Encounter with Unknown Object. Well, now that the U.S. has 'fessed up to its secret UFO program, will other countries also own up? In British Ministry of Defence Breaks Silence on Bombshell US X-Files Jon Austin gives us the English answer: No. (WM)

Bread-Eating King-Killing Mer-Woman Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog
We stay in chilly British waters for today's crypto-round-up, beginning off the coast of County Clare in Ireland, where the sighting of a fishy female with "well-shaped hands" occurred just before the death of Edward VII. Further north, Glasgow Boy heats things up a little with A Review of "The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded" (Part II) which is a further exposition of his excoriating opinions of Ronald Binns' latest book. And finally, still in Scotland, Karl Shuker tells us I'd Like to be beside the Sea in a Water-horse's garden in the shade, which is a whimsical intro to his analysis of the Ord Water Horse's skeleton on the Isle of Skye. (LP)

Ufology is as much about the witnesses and those who interact with them as about whatever is perceived. Penn State historian Greg Eghigian says a group of Canadian scholars is intensively studying the human response to UFOs, and we can expect some reports on their work eventually. Nick Redfern's already got one for us, as he relates in The Road to Strange: A New UFO Book Reviewed. Michael Brein and Rosemary Ellen Guiley emphasize how UFO experiences affect the witnesses themselves--how they and those around them deal with the aftermath. Ridicule is a prominent element in a number of instances. But maybe that is diminishing, as seen in Poll: A Majority of Americans Are Preparing For An Extraterrestrial Invasion. Yes, Jazz Shaw's title is a bit over the top. But Shaw aptly asks whether the perceived rise in public acceptance of ET possibilities may be somewhat connected to the revelations of the Pentagon UFO study program, either in a rise in belief itself, or just in the willingness to express that opinion. Some might even find that latter a job enhancement move, says Paul Seaburn in his Kim Wilde Sees a UFO and Fears an Alien Abduction. The English pop singer and personality recently mentioned a 2009 UFO encounter in an interview, just coincidentally on the eve of a new album and concert tour called "Here Come The Aliens." But promoting one's UFO interests can have its pitfalls, too; just ask the subject of 'Ghostbuster for Aliens' Investigates UFOs on the 'Paranormal Highway'. Michael Koenigs profiles Colorado's controversial ufologist Chuck Zukowski, who was fired by a Sheriff's office for mixing paranormal and police work. (WM)

February 15

Bet this headline caught your eye. Maybe a diameter of 240 miles sounds more believable, but this is still really a BIG story and we'd have loved to have heard the debate in Chile that accompanied the 1999 TV broadcast of two images supposedly taken separately some years before. Inexplicata sitemaster Scott Corrales attaches another case that, if anything, seems wilder and "deeper" than the lead. Staying in country, Scott gives us Chile: A UFO Over Temuco--First One This Year (2018). Scott helpfully provides some translation to the associated video, whose witness reactions may be just as interesting as the intriguing photography. Our final South American case takes place in Argentina: New UFO Sighting in Pocito introduces us to a largely youthful group of "UFO Hunters." Whether the associated video shows one or multiple point light sources is unclear, but again the sound impresses upon us the wonder that celestial doings can inspire in us all. (WM)

For those of you wondering what a hard core weather nerd with a penchant for the strange likes to read, wonder no more and welcome to meteorological heaven. For those of you wondering what knocked those old growth trees down in the wee hours of January 27, the short answer is "Wind." The long answer reads like a mystery novel with an incredibly well thought out plot. Other puzzling news includes two videos from Coast To Coast AM. The first Video: 'Time Traveler' Passes Lie Detector Test? is a lengthy display of ambiguity, which is quite disappointing because we really want to believe this is a real time traveller. Sadly it's just too easy to fake results on a video recording. Next, we Watch: Ghost Knocks Ball Down Stairs? Creepy? Yep, we got goosebumps, too. Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to explain away. Now we're itching to go ghost hunting. (CM)

Aleister Crowley, portals, and the "origin" of UFOs--Andrew Arnett's article has it all. It's a fascinating and densely informative read, and the links will be especially helpful to those new to this particular fringe-element to the wild "extra"-world of ufology. On a lighter, and nearer in time, note, the Missing Wreckage of UFO Which 'Crash Landed' in Yorkshire is Found, 60 Years On, says David Clarke. Clarke relates the story of the "Silpho Moor Object," its strange message "You will improve or disappear," its disappearance, and the recent reappearance of parts of it that had been stowed in 1963 in an archive. Sarah Knapton fills out the story of the Lost Wreckage of 'British Roswell' Flying Saucer Discovered in Science Museum. It turns out that Dr. Clarke himself had recently given a lecture there, and afterwards "One of the museum staff tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was aware that 'bits of a flying saucer' had been kept in a cigarette tin in the museum group store for decades." Amazing. (WM)

February 14

In the first half of an outstanding Paracast, Biblical scholar and ufologist David Halperin debates Erich von Daniken on Ancient Astronauts, then continues on with host Gene Steinberg in a discussion of Halperin's own sense as to what UFOs are and what they are not. Halperin pursues von Daniken doggedly across time and cultures, praising the Swiss raconteur for bringing out the "mystery" of antiquity while differing with him on almost every other point. In the process von Daniken also gets his views and methodology across. The second part of the podcast brings out the basic perspectives that inform and animate Halperin's excellent blog articles. Though one may come away unconvinced by Halperin's theories, he or she may very well feel they have a richer understanding of the UFO subject. With "Chariots of the Gods?"--Erich von Daniken and the Book of Enoch Halperin expands upon one of the contests he had with von Daniken in the Paracast debate. Again, Halperin finds something to praise in von Daniken's overall work, while strongly disagreeing with his theme and methods. In the process Halperin highlights the frustrations historians have with conveying to non-historians--and beginning students in particular--what historians know and what they reconstruct about the past. (WM)

Columnist Brad Dickson has some well-deserved fun poking the squatchy possibilities with a long scratchy stick. That's the thing about forteana--if you're in it for the long haul, you better have your sense of humor somewhere next to your monster spray and holy water. You also need to have a bit of a stubborn streak. A columnist in South Whidbey thinks Lawmakers Should Pass Sasquatch Bills and is as disappointed as the rest of us that the recent bill aimed at making Bigfoot the official cryptid of Washington wasn't passed. Or perhaps there's some tongue in cheek going on there--we'll let you decide for yourselves. But Beware of the Beastly Bunyip. Don't be lulled into a false sense of safety because the Bunyip seems to stick to Australia. Nor should you think it's not a predator just because Bunyip is so darn fun to say out loud. (CM)

Paul Seaburn strikes again with an entertaining tale cooked up by Greek thinkers who've squeezed out "history" from a story in a book by Plutarch. Plutarch was a 1st-2nd CE biographer of famous Greeks and Romans who also wrote a book called Moralia, and it's from the latter that the current Greek team has drawn its inspiration. Seaburn points out some of the weaknesses in the "Greeks in Canada" theory, most glaringly that there is absolutely no physical evidence to support it. Jason Colavito exhaustively attacks the theory in Greek Scientists Claim Plutarch Recorded Ancient Greek Voyages to Canadian Colony. Colavito points out astronomical, geographical, literary, mythological, and historical knowledge problems in the authors' attempt "to reduce myth and legend to historical fact," and sets the story in the Moralia into a larger Greek speculative context. (WM)

Have we seen this article before? Hop on the merry-go-round while we ponder the source of false memories. It's Food for the Fortean Soul, covering the spread between incorrect recall, parallel worlds, and time travel. Just don't take yourself too seriously. Scientists Studying Psychoactive Drugs Accidentally Proved The Self Is An Illusion. Well dang, why couldn't they have proven chocolate actually made you thinner, or that we get more work done when we work only 2 days a week and take off the remaining 5? This piece goes on to quote The Tibetan Buddhist monk Chogyam Trungpa, with whom we must agree: “Life is a humorous situation but it is not mocking us.” (CM)

February 13

For anyone still following the BIG NEWS that broke in December, Giuliano Marinkovic's interview with Luis Elizondo is a "must listen" (as it's just audio). Conducted on January 15th, the dialogue gives Elizondo's replies to many of the questions raised since the existence was revealed of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Some of these questions are still being asked. Two examples: the confusion of "metal alloys" with "meta-materials", and the focus by skeptics upon debunking single sources of information, when cases like the 2004 "Nimitz", featured multiple different data sources (eyes, electro-optical, radar). (In fairness to the skeptics, the complementary data to the two videos released to the public on December 16th has not been fully released.) About 45 minutes into the interview Elizondo goes to some lengths to counter his critics and explain and justify his own thought process and actions since last autumn. Interviewer Marinkovic certainly did his homework, and the result is a strong and rather persuasive whole. Jon Rappoport's not convinced, per his "UFO Disclosure": A Covert Op to Discredit Real Disclosure. Whether one accepts Rappoport's thesis or not, it does point out some uncomfortable elements in the "To The Stars...Academy of Arts & Science" initiative. (WM)

What the heck happened last month in the forests of Olympic National Park? More than a hundred old growth trees were knocked down in early on the morning of January 27th and no one has any idea how or why. What they do know is a measurable seismic event took place near the centre of the tree fall, although it's clear an earth rumble did not snap the trees. Is it time to start looking for portals opening wide and slamming shut? And it looks like there is no shortage of strange noises belting out of our skies: Video: Colorado Cops Baffled by Mystery Booms. Mind you, in this case the local residents are comparing notes on Facebook and trying to sort out who has been pranking the area since July, as opposed to assuming it's the end of the world, so that's progress. (CM)

Levitating Saints - and Others Malcolm's Anomalies
Malcolm Smith examines levitation, as well as its associated near misses over history. While some examples just seem like "good tries," others are either miraculous or hallucinatory. We have to point out that Malcolm's ability to examine marvels such as this through a highly objective lens makes him one of our favorite forteans. Next, Brent Swancer brings us Mysterious Cases of People Who Teleported Out of Prison. While some flat out disappeared, never to be heard from again, there were also those strange examples of prisoners who went MIA at will and returned when they were ready for the warm confines of their prison cells. Sounds more like the prison guards were indulging in the local fungi when no one was looking. (CM)

Apparently Rich Reynolds is not enamored of "Flying Tic-Tacs," not even mentioning (which he does) mere "lights in the sky." Not to mention, again, that such current UFOs don't even seem to sport "Space Brothers" (and "Sisters"!). On the question of UFO Trauma or Exploitation? Rich proposes a kind of "sense check" to UFO witness claims by monitoring their post-event lives. We think a person could report a genuine anomalous experience, appreciate the subsequent attention they received, and even create "new" experiences to make a little money and/or stay in the limelight. The human makeup is quite complicated, as Rich will agree--but his concluding paragraphs are persuasive. Rich's third offering Dealing with UFO Madness, Even the Foolish Kind...... is an interesting variation on one of his major ufological themes. It's also a kind of apologia for the skeptics, whom Rich admits to be "a little rabid, some of them"--and thus a little "mad," themselves. (WM)

February 12

On February 6th of this year golf pro Graham DeLaet figured he'd experienced something rarer than a hole-in-one, according to Nicole Blanchard. DeLaet's Twitter video wasn't overwhelming, and some respondents persuaded him that the thing was a SpaceX rocket, but the incident seems to have energized a lot of people. Last year, a large number of people saw and photographed five objects cavorting in the afternoon sky above Mexico City's Portales Metro Station, as detailed in Mexico: Hundreds Witness UFO Sighting in Tlalpan (2017). And Mexico's participation in a worldwide "wave" more than a decade earlier is recounted by Alfonso Salazar in Mexico: The 1973 UFO Wave. (WM)

Now the Counterpunch Herald Tribune
During the relative drought in information flow since the release last December of two F-18 gun camera videos and disclosure of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, skeptics have rather belatedly suggested a variety of explanations, of varying quality and relevance. Billy Cox applies this analysis to efforts by Ian Goddard and the SETI Institute. While we recently noted some of the miscues committed by Seth Shostak and "sidekick" Molly Bentley, Billy raises weaknesses in the arguments of the "guest talent." He also underscores a particularly important but under-appreciated point raised by James Oberg, which is implicit in the comments of fellow CSI member Benjamin Radford. (WM)

Panda plagiarism features in this retrospective report by Karl Shuker as he looks back to the fairly recent emergence of the "Sepia Panda," a handsome creature now recognized as a "subspecies in its own right." The good doctor then advises Beware, Beware, The Fish with Hair--or not, as the case may be. Hirsute hoaxes and furry folklore seem to account for these stories. (LP)

Paul Seaburn gives a summary of the Gaia website's handling of this Peruvian archaeological discovery, hoax, or ...? He also gives us the latest news, which doesn't impress him, or others, for that matter. Further, Paul provides information and commentary on the New DNA Test Results on Peru's Elongated Skulls. Again, he's not excited by the data on the Paracas skulls that came out at February 2nd's "Elongated Skulls Symposium". Paul is kinder here, however, than was Jason Colavito in his L.A. Marzulli Holds Live Stream Symposium to Reveal Elongated Skull DNA Results [Updated With Results], which we profiled on the 6th. (WM)

February 11

We're just as excited as Brett Tingley when it comes to this news, and how an ancient case of the sniffles might be responsible for us becoming clever, hairless chimpanzees with smartphones! We are overstating the facts, but Brett's analysis is more substantial than our kooky proposition. If you wanna go deeper, and we know you do, science fiction author Peter Watts has a deeper analysis of Arc's Weld and tantalizing potentials for taking advantage of your infection. (CS)

What could we have been like if humanity didn't get infected all those aeons ago? Perhaps a little something like Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man. Mixing biology, anthropology, and neuroscience together Natalie Angier illustrates the knack for numbers possessed by chimps and frogs, the lexical similarities among words for small quantities, and humanity's bargain for consciousness vs. being savants. More speculative could some of these observations expose the foundations of Julian Jaynes's bicameral mind, based on the near-subsconscious counting capacity of male túngara frogs mentioned in Natalie's piece? It's a long shot. If we could talk with the animals, on neutral rather than anthropic terms, the science of cognition and consciousness would expand by leaps and bounds. Linda Tellington-Jones's mode of Interspecies Communication is touch. More specific, a special kind of touch utilized by Russian gypsies working racetracks. This technique works on bears, dogs, and other critters much to Jeffrey Mishlove's surprise. Linda is earnest, making her case compelling, but she does skirt the edges of 5-D Lemurian crystal territory. (CS)

Do not blame scientists for 'scientific' blog posts. More often than not bloggers are not scientists. Case in point, why are they blogging rather than "science-ing"? Their mission? Perpetuate the science news cycle at all costs. Science, to be honest, is boring. Dreadfully and painfully boring if you can't make sense of Greek letters, Latin terminology, and weird mathemagical symbols that could summon Cthulhu. This is where science bloggers come in and, with good intentions, muck everything up. Case in point: Dana Smith got a hot tip on a brain implant which can remember it for you wholesale, courtesy of a gentle zap. A tremendous breakthrough for Alzheimers patients and others with neurodegenerative disorders! Yet the day before, Dana's colleague Helen Shen acknowledges Brain Stimulation Is All The Rage -- But It May Not Stimulate The Brain. Helen's talking about transcranial electrical stimulation harnessing the same principle: Zap brain, brain work better, who's your insurance provider? Does electrical brain stimulation work at all? Nobody really knows, and that's the most scientific statement anyone can make. Science is about educated guesses, and taking a few risks, not dogmatic headlines tailored to the tastes of positivists for whom their religion of Science can do no wrong. (CS)

Why is it Washington State can legalize weed, but not sasquatch? It's been keeping Tim Binnall up at night and, cathartically, he lays out the politics behind the delay better'n C-SPAN. No word if Pennsylvania will adopt a state cryptid anytime soon despite Lon Strickler's reports of a 'Bizarre 'Black Being' Encountered Near Pittsburgh. From looking at the sketches, this could be a case of a shadow bigfoot. A shadow bigfoot? What's The Anomalist smoking anyway? Well it's not as dank as the stuff in Nick Redfern's pipe as he remembers a Bigfoot: Tusked And With Backwards Feet way out in Mississippi. Making this outlandish tale all the more intriguing is the orang pendek connection. (CS)

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