Journal of

The Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York



Volume 1, Issue 4

I recall watching ``The Wonderful World of Disney'' as a child, and seeing Walt Disney discussing the future of space travel with Warner von Brown. This was at the hight of the Apollo missions, which ended with 6 moon landings. So it was with a sinking feeling and a realization of how much the times have changed that I watched: ``Alien Encounters from the New Tomorrowland'' on cable TV. The program is described in some detail by our UFO correspondent Alan French. For those who may have missed the program, I have it on tape. Perhaps with the Disney corporations permission, we can make it the subject of a future meeting.

April is our annual business meeting. As stipulated in the by-laws, the board of directors has proposed the following candidates for officers in ISUNY.

Nominations will be accepted from the floor during the meeting. There are many tasks for which ISUNY needs volunteers. These include reserving the meeting room at the library (must be a Guilderland resident), librarian (we may already have a volunteer) newsletter writers and editors. If you are interested in helping out, the April meeting is a good opportunity to let us know.

-Michael Sofka

The UFO Skeptic.

``As we approach a new millennium, mankind is in the midst of the most profound event in history---actual contact with intelligent life from other planets. For nearly fifty years, officials have been documenting routine alien encounters here on Earth, and thousands of people have seen or experienced this alien presence. Yet, many others still refuse to acknowledge the obvious evidence all around them. What is it like to be confronted by a creature whose intelligence and skill is far beyond the comprehension of mankind? Would it be enlightening? Would it be an exercise in terror or, perhaps, both?''

What would it be like to be confronted by a documentary whose credulity and faith is far beyond the comprehension of The UFO Skeptic? Would it be enlightening? Would it be an exercise in terror or, perhaps, both? The answer is ``both,'' and the evidence was provided by Alien Encounters (The New Tomorrowland), a Walt Disney Special hosted by Robert Urich, who spoke the words in the first paragraph.

The program started with a fuzzy video of a UFO. ``This is not swamp gas. It is not a flock of birds. This is an actual spacecraft from another world, piloted by alien intelligence. One sighting from tens of thousands made over the last fifty years on virtually every continent on the globe. Intelligent life from distant galaxies is now attempting to make open contact with the human race and tonight we'll show you the evidence.'' [If we are being visited on a regular basis, I wonder why ``attempting to make open contact'' seems to be such a problem? A very public landing would work very well and could be done in any large city.]

This was the start to the most credulous show about UFOs I have ever seen. There was never any question about the reality of UFOs. There was no skepticism. Earth is being visited on a regular basis, people are being abducted and experimented on, and the government is running a cover-up and dis-information program. The introduction promised ``tonight we will show you the evidence,'' yet the show was nothing more than a regurgitation of all the nonsense the pro-UFO community has been spouting for years.

The program was a promotion for ``Alien Encounters,'' that will open this summer at Walt Disney World, and will let you ``prepare for your own inevitable alien encounter.'' (Most Americans will probably explore space on alien spacecraft, rather than on the Space Shuttle!) Mike Sofka looked in vain for some hint that the program was done tongue in cheek. I also looked, and saw no hint that the program was not meant to be taken seriously. There is, I suppose, a small chance that this was an advertising gimmick that went seriously awry---but I doubt it---and, if so, the many true believers that were interviewed were badly taken advantage of.

After the introduction we saw Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, standing at the gate of a heavily guarded military installation. He said that this out of the world special was celebrating New Tomorrowland, and that ``In a top secret military installation somewhere in the United States, there are those who believe that the government is hiding the remains of an alien spacecraft that mysteriously crashed to Earth. With more and more scientific evidence of alien encounters and UFO sightings the idea of creatures from another planet might not be as far fetched as we once thought.'' I added the italics, and this is the only place in the entire show that I noticed any qualification of the ``facts.'' The Roswell Crash was covered later, and there was no equivocating at all---a saucer crashed and three alien bodies were recovered.

There were many absurd claims in this program, and it could probably be the basis of an entire book. There were some that really caught my attention. One was that the aliens have visited us because we invited them. The testing of the atomic bomb in 1945 signaled our presence, and even in 1945 they heard the call and were on their way. The large alien ships began to arrive in 1947. Our signal did not even reach the nearest star until 1949!

Another was that life can travel virtually anywhere, trapped inside meteoroids. A great deal of it lands here on Earth, and NASA scientists are uncovering this mutating alien life. They collect meteorites from Antarctica, where the cold preserves the alien life clinging to them. The commentator also said that there are ``new scientific suggestions'' that the microbiotic organisms that cause viral diseases are an advance invasion force, testing the Earth's environment and leading the way for ``more complex and determined creatures.'' [I wonder how the alien humanoids fit into this picture?]

I grew up watching Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, and probably saw the majority of Disney movies. ``The Living Desert'' and ``Secrets of Life'' were fine nature documentaries. The ``Alien Encounters'' special is a very sad chapter in the history of the Disney company.

Correction: In The UFO Skeptic for March 1995, the second sentence in the third paragraph on page 2 should have read, ``He says the radar operators who recorded these images know what they saw, they just can't explain what they are.''

Your comments, thoughts, or questions about UFOs are most welcome. Send your thoughts by e-mail to 72724.2270@compuserve.com or phone me at 374-8460.

-Alan French

In Search of Haunted Real Estate.

One of my goals in life is to spend the night in a haunted house sometime before I die. So far, I've met with little success at this, as, believe it or not, it is much more difficult to find a good haunted house than is commonly believed. Therefore, I have decided to initiate my own search for a haunted house. All those out there who think they can find one are hereby officially begged, pleaded and requested to send in your descriptions. Although local haunted houses are preferred, we're reasonable and are willing to travel a little bit. All tips and leads will be cheerfully considered.

The first local "haunted house" comes from the book, The Ghostly Register. According to this work, there was at one time a ghost living inside the New York State Capitol. The original evidence that a ghost was there consisted of a) scared employees b) rumors of a ghost named 'George' and c) reports of strange noises, icy chills, and so forth in the building from some of the employees, particularly those on the night shift, particularly around the senate chamber. It should be stated that these seem to have been entirely subjective experiences lacking in analyzable evidence. Around 1981, WNYT needed a Halloween story and decided that this would do. Also involved around this time was one of the Capital District's premier local alleged psychics. This person did some newspaper research, found the name of the only person to die in the building, and decided, with a certain sort of back handed logic, that since ghosts are dead people and since this was the only person to die in the building this must be the ghost! WNYT then arranged for the alleged psychic to conduct an alleged seance. The alleged ghost was then allegedly exorcised from the alleged building and allegedly was never seen again! Wonder of wonders! Will allegations never cease! And it was all allegedly caught on film!!

This means, that if this story is to be believed at face value, the ghost is gone, and there is nothing left for us to investigate today. Another Capital District haunting bites the dust. Which leads to the curious pondering, since good haunted houses are quite rare could the alleged psychic be prosecuted for either a) allegedly interfering with the natural life-cycle of an endangered species, (the ghost) or b) allegedly damaging the condition of a state site of historical or scientific interest? I mean, we don't know. We're just wondering about these things.

Got a good haunted house report? If so, please, please, please, write it up and send it to the ISUNY newsletter. Good haunted house reports are tough to find and if you can find one then some of us are desperately dying for the opportunity to "Scooby Doo" it.

-Peter Huston

Ask the Psychic.

This months ``Ask the Psychic'' is being sent to you telepathically. You should have received it by now---if your skepticism has not blocked transmission. You may mail your questions to: Ask The Psychic, P.O. Box 14203, Albany, New York, 12212-4203, or think about them real hard.

-David Quinne

ISUNY on Internet.

The Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York are on the Internet. Our World Wide Web home page can be found at: http://www.rpi.edu/~sofkam/ISUNY/. There you can find our newsletter, meeting announcements and pointers to other interesting information on the Internet. We have already been added to the ``links'' for the New York Area Skeptics, and Barry Karr of CSICOP used it to send e-mail to the editor.

-Michael Sofka

The 1st Symposium on Anomalous Phenomena.

For the last two years Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has hosted a UFO symposium. This year, they are calling the 3rd symposium the 1st Anomalous Phenomena Symposium. So far as I can tell, however, UFOs remain the prime area of interest.

The talks are all held on the RPI campus in Troy, NY (about 3 hours north of New York City, 6 hours east of Buffalo, 3 hours west of Boston). The schedule is:

All talks are in Sage 3303, and are free to students. Others pay $5.00, which goes towards UPAC---the student Union which sponsors the event. I, and maybe some other ISUNY members, will be attending the events and posting summaries to this page.

Meetings.

Our next meeting will be held at the Guilderland Public Library on Wednesday April 5th at 7:00 pm. Since April is the ISUNY business meeting there is no speaker scheduled. Instead, elections for officers will be held, followed by an informal socialization meeting. For those of you new to ISUNY this will be a chance to meet the members. As always, meetings will be followed by an informal post-meeting at a local restaurant.

Our May 3rd meeting will feature Patrick Kurp, a writer for the Daily Gazette. The topic will be the media and how they cover and portray the paranormal. The June 7th speaker will be Alan French called. His talk is entitled The Trouble With Astrology. This is the talk Alan will be presenting at the 4th annual Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, NY.

Correction

In Volume 1, issue 3 of the Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York a missing title made Dennis Pearce's article appear as part of Ask The Psychic. The correct title is: Evaluating The Experts.

Thank You.

Thank you to Alan French, Peter Huston and David Quinne for helping to prepare this newsletter. Thank you once again to Bob and Dee Mulford for publicizing the meetings.

Thank you also to all of our members for their kind support of ISUNY. We would especially like to thank our Supporting members: Sylvia Chessin Arthur R. Petrick Duncan Tuininga, and our Patron members: Jordon Coleman, Charles Davies, Daniel Forrest, Alan & Susan French, Christopher Masto, Bob & Dee Mulford, Matthew Schnee, Mike & Carla Sofka, Douglas Wells.

About the Newsletter.

The Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York is the newsletter of the Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York. The manuscript was typeset using the TeX document preparation system written by Donald Knuth of Stanford University, and made freely available over the Internet. Public domain copies of TeX and the macros used for this newsletter are available to authors from the editor.

Articles, reports, reviews, and letters published in the Journal of Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York represent the views and work of individual authors. Their publication does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Inquiring Skeptics of Upper New York or its members unless so stated.