Thursday, November 11, 2010

FACT OR FAKED: Sasquatch Sprint - Alien Attacker

SyFy - Original Air Date: 11/11/10

Videos passed on this week include Mothman flying at a car windshield at night (probable animation), and the "Guardian" UFO footage of a "ship" allegedly hovering over a park, but with no witness they decide to put that one off and maybe look into it more.  Which leaves the videos they're investigating: a Sprinting Sasquatch (the famous Memorial Day film of bigfoot running across a field) and the Alien Attacker (famous black triangle ship with dead alien) where the alien supposedly killed a dog before being brained and photographed by a human.  This second looks obviously fake to me, and the body was supposedly later stolen by a mysterious van, but the group decides to look into it anyway.

After talking to the bigfoot witnesses, they try to duplicate the running speed of the "creature" in the film.  This has been attempted successfully before, in Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, but this show -- like all others -- makes no mention of previous successful debunking.  (I guess if they did, they wouldn't have a show.)  Team member Austin runs the course in 9.6 seconds, faster than the creature at 10.6 seconds.  They then attempt it again using a 10 pound bigfoot suit, and after taking a big fall, he completes it again, but in around 12 seconds.  Trying again, and taking off his mask at the end, the result looks similar to "growth" in the original creature footage (which some tried to say was the bigfoot carrying a baby on its shoulders).  Then they do some night investigation with IR cameras and sand traps for prints; they also fly over with an IR camera.  They get a hit on the overhead camera and chase it, but can't catch up.  They also find a print.  Conclusion: The footage could be faked, and probably was.  Same conclusion as other shows.  The print is inconclusive, but too small for bigfoot. Which doesn't mean there is no bigfoot, just not here.

On to the alien, checking out the story of "Doctor" Johnathan Reed in Snowalmie Pass, WA.  He claims this creature seized his dog's jaws and ripped the animal in half.  The dog dropped to the ground and turned to ash, whereupon Reed hit the alien in a head with a stick, fatally wounding it.  Nearby, he saw a triangular-shaped craft - 9 1/2 feet long, 2 1/2 feet thick, and 3 feet wide -- hovering three feet off the ground.  Seeing this, he videoed what he saw and then took the alien body, in black jump suit, back to his house.  I'm unimpressed.  It all looks like amateur theater to me, and I'm pretty sure I could recreate it using a bit of hardware with the help of my kids.  Ben, the former FBI guy, points out that though Reed tells the story well, he's been doing it for over 15 years -- a lot of time to rehearse.  They build a triangle craft (obelisk) out of plywood and paint it black; team member Larry has also brought an alien he built.  His alien looks better than the one in the film.  They suspend the craft using a pole wrapped in greenery, a standard magician/SFX trick.  They then plant the alien and use a shaky-cam technique to duplicate the video.  (I'm convinced.)  Finally, they take the alien inside and use servos to recreate its blinking eyes and "autopsy."  (Though the original eyes look like they might have just been flashing lights to me.)  Jael points out this took some skill to recreate, but Rob notes the financial gain for pulling off such a hoax is great.  They then re-interview Reed, and apply "layered voice analysis" to the interview.  Reed claims a life-threatening conspiracy trying to cover up his evidence; he sticks to his story.  The voice analysis says he's lying.  "Johnathan Reed is not who he says he is, and this did not happen to him," Ben concludes

Reed, it turns out, is also known as con-man John Bradley Rutter, and this case has been debunked previously -- a fact turned up by a quick online search.  But, as I said with the bigfoot case, if they told us that in advance, they wouldn't have a show.  On the other hand, this show the team did debunk two stories held dear by "believer" communities, and, in doing so, and bringing the truth to a wider audience, Fact or Faked has done a public service.  Thanks, guys.  Good job.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Stephen! Great recap. This is Ben from the show. Wanted to just jump in on this one since both of these cases were really monumentous. Yes, we did know that the bigfoot case had been looked at before, but you're right, the larger audience hadn't heard of the case. More importantly, we value our own original evidence in experiments over what another team or TV show obtains. The other show did an excellent job overall, but there were other aspects of the film they didn't expound upon.

On the Reed case, this was actually the first time in 6 years he's given an interview in the U.S. Since his last interview, he has made new claims and new rebuttal evidence has surfaced against him. As far as I know, this was the first attempt to recreate his account in the same location and one of the only times he has allowed a nearly open-ended interview. There was however one issue he made us promise not to address.

What really interested me was not so much the evidence that seemed to be mounting against him, but why he has such a staggering number of followers who adamantly support him still. What you didn't see on air was a conversation where I really have a heart-to-heart and start to understand him I believe. I think he started it as a hoax for money motives, but over the years he has come to see the influence he has with people and the ability to spread a positive message. I think deep down, he's a guy who does promote peace, harmony, love, etc. Although he claims his alien friend is now giving him these messages of hope, I believe he feels like he's really making a contribution to his followers by continuing the story. He didn't seem like that bad of a guy and maybe he has better motives now, but I was disappointed he wouldn't come clean. I hope to be able to get a longer length version of the interview on the website for people to see.

I apologize if there's spelling errors, it's kind of late! Thanks for the support! Find me on twitter for any follow-up. -Ben

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

Hi Ben. Thanks for commenting. I enjoy the show, and the episodes seem stronger this season. This last one was especially good.

One of the reasons I started these blogs was to try to sort out the "best evidence" from the myth and rumor that's endemic in the fields of paranormal investigation. So, while I may be able to type "Memorial Day Bigfoot" into my Howls & Growls search bar and find the best explanations for that video and others (few of which look remotely real to me), it's important that shows like Fact or Faked keep pushing back the lies, cons, hype, and deception -- especially for a wide audience. Again, thanks for that.

With so many "believer" shows on the air, it's nice to have one that's a bit more skeptical, even if I feel like (in Season 1 especially) the investigations sometimes run out of budget just when things get interesting. I do think you're on track to be the "paranormal Mythbusters," if that's where you want to go. (And I hope you do.)

I also agree that it's important to get your own original evidence and and do your own recreations, though pointing out that others have tread similar paths (beyond saying "some skeptics theorize...") might help to tie the web of plausible explanations together for those who still don't get it.

And your further comments on the Reed case are certainly interesting. Feel free to post a link here to any additional clips you put up. It distresses me to see people believe such bunk - even if the message seems to have turned to one of peace and brotherhood. "Fruits of the poisoned tree" seldom yield entirely wholesome results. In the end, some con men even come to believe their own spiel. There's an interesting set of memory experiments about that -- possibly from Radio Lab (see their podcasts on memory), if memory serves.

I think one of the basic problems is that so many people "want to believe." I ran up against that when my radio show (Uncanny Radio) did a Michigan Dogman interview. After seeing the film, I said online that I thought it was a guy in a suit - nothing more complex than a big muppet, at best. Certainly, that's how I would have made that video. Yet, the rebuttals my suggestion incurred were amazing. People went to great lengths to "prove" the "thing" was actually shape-changing and couldn't be human and . . . And in the end, it turned out to be a guy in a suit. (See MonsterQuest "American Werewolf 2" review/recap.)

Mostly, I think people need to learn to ask, "How would I do this if I wanted to create this effect?" Your crew did that brilliantly last night on both cases. And equally well on the flying bruja case the week before.

Hopefully, if you do that kind of thing enough, more people will wake up to the truth. But, as professional magicians and con men know, the people who are easiest to fool are those who think they can't be tricked.

Thanks for helping spread the truth.

I'm now following you and the show on Twitter. Feel free to follow back. ;-) Again, thanks for commenting.

(And don't worry about spelling too much=; I often write the recaps/reviews late at night, too. Nobody's perfect.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben, please please please make everyone else in your team, before season 2, to do some homework.

Only you and one other member have any clue about what to search the net for, everyone else is pulling up easy to pick hoaxes. Then these same members will later shoot down other members bad ideas, so why didn't they know that about their OWN pick for the week??

Please please get them to not bring obviously faked things to the table, makes you all look gullible. Poor Chi-Lan, has she had even 1x video investigated??

If they don't bring videos, they should not be in the team!! They don't seem to understand the topic being researched.

Would be great to focus more on possible 'facts' behind things more than the fakery - look at real things that could be misconstrued more than the ways to fake.

A case you might want to look at would be Watson's Interstellar movie - which was produced/promoted by a reputable ufologist, but then proven fake a couple of years back.

I would recommend getting ONLY cases that are still considered believable by the MAJORITY, not cases like the Texas train incline that had been debunked time and time again over a decade. Try and debunk the Iranian air force UFO radar footage!!! Or the Phoenix lights. !

Hoping you show me some footage that I actually want to watch soon, Ben B - Ninja Gaijin

p.s. I really liked the stick figures on the guys lawn. Glad u use this as a promo start. Those things DO look VERY creepy, something out of Corpse Bride or something.

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

Hi Nina - Steve here. I'm not sure if Ben will comment on this blog again. He may, but I'm not expecting it to be an ongoing conversation. You may be able to connect to him via Twitter, as he suggested.

Now, realizing I have nothing to do with the show, I'm guessing -- based on Ben's previous reply -- that they want to look at videos that are popular, even if they have been debunked previously. Many people watching the show don't have the same background in such things as you and I do. And there are a lot of people that think if you see it on TV (or the net), it's true - otherwise they couldn't put it on the air.

That's silly, of course, but I think that folks that believe that are part of the Fact or Faked audience - as well as people curious about such things but with no time for internet videos or research.

Almost all of the vids I see look obviously fake to me. Yet, many people believe them. That's why I believe that it's valuable to show how they might be done. Something I hear too often from believers is "nothing human could do this" - either about the way a "creature" moves or the way a UFO flies, or....

And I think the show does the public service by showing how things can be faked.

In my opinion, the first reaction of any investigator of the paranormal to a strange video should not be "Is this real?" but rather "If I wanted to achieve this effect, how would I do it?" (Much like the Mythbusters do.)

My maxim is: If it can be faked, it probably was.

And you should probably cut the rest of the team some slack on the videos. My guess is that they review a lot more than we actually see each week -- but the TV edit gravitates toward the sensational ones, even if they're obvious fakes.

(I did like it when they showed and dismissed more videos at the start.)

Oh, and BTW, there was a very good debunking of the standard Phoenix Lights videos. Just type "UFOs Over Phoenix" into the Howls & Growls search bar for my review.