Monday, March 24, 2008

UFO HUNTERS - Hist. - Reverse Engineering

History Channel - Original Air Date: 3/16/08

Another sensationalist episode of this series, as usual based on the premise that UFOs exist and they are advanced spacecraft piloted by aliens.  The alleged UFO photos this time look to me like spidery smudges on film, or perhaps insects, or -- far more likely -- an artistic hoax.  As usual, there is no disclaimer as to what are "real" pictures, and what may have been recreated by the show.  The allegation is that these photos are of craft reverse-engineered by the US military.  Naturally, there is a hidden witness who claims to have worked on this hooey, and naturally the UFO Hunters believe him.  (They've checked his credentials carefully, they say.)  As usual, the show troops out the usual UFO mythology tales -- all unsubstantiated.  Basically, it's all hearsay (and we all know how admissible that is in court), but if you've tolerated this show from the start (as I have), you should be used to that by now.  If you've been paying attention you've also noticed this show piling speculation on speculation until they reach their usual predestined conclusion.  Did I mention they drag in Roswell and Kecksburg?  Should I need to mention that?  Yes, that's right, the symbols on the alleged Kecksburg UFO match the ones on these new UFO photos.  The resident scientist points out that the craft in the photos violate known laws and aerodynamics.  Rather than concluding that they're probably hoaxes, though, they then assume this is some unknown technology, rather than a clever hoaxer.  Only the growing complexity of the ships in the images seems to finally suggest a hoaxer gradually building up a more and more complex computer model.  Nor does the show ever explain by a craft supposedly reverse engineered by the US government would be covered with alien symbols, rather than US IDs and logos (or no markings at all).  Just for fun, there's also a lot of pseudo-scientific talk of resonance frequency -- along with a pretty cool demonstration of how resonant frequencies can move objects.  Again, though, this leads back to speculation, rather than fact.

The most truthful bit of narration in this show says, "A subject surrounded by secrecy is always an easy target for hoaxers, and digital manipulation has made their job easier than ever."  Right on.  Of course, the show then says, "Which isn't to say that the photographs aren't real."  (Emphasis mine.)  A CGI expert then notes inconsistency in the lighting of the ship versus the photos, and the fact that the ships always appear next to objects with straight lines, which are easier to composite with.  The expert then whips up a quick hoax, though the team scientist refuses to conclude the images are hoaxes.  The narrator then concludes that if the pictures are hoaxes, they are very good ones.  Nonsense.  They're pretty decent ones, but nothing that I couldn't whip up with my 3d programs and a bit of Photoshop.  As usual, the show fails to understand either the cleverness or the industry of such hoaxers.  One of the ongoing failures of the UFO community (and paranormal communities in general) is an unwillingness to call an obvious or proven hoax a hoax. As the X-Files poster says, "I want to believe."  But, if something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . then UFO Hunters is likely to claim it's unknown technology.

Stanton Friedman (UFO "expert") and I don't agree on much, but I've heard him say that to suggest that reverse engineering of UFOs explains all our current technological advancements is insulting to the people involved with those technologies.  (I would extend that insult to the ancient astronaut theories as well.)  People insulted in this show include SR-71 Blackbird designer and aviation genius, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson.  Too bad the show remains unwilling to call a duck a duck.

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