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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Fools Paradise?

The Great UFO Hoax of 2009

by Sharon Begley: If you prefer to keep a little magic in your life—by which I mean believing in the possibility of UFOs—then read no further. For I am going to tell you about the latest UFO hoax.

You may remember the sightings of a UFO over Morristown, N.J., in January, which was blogged about and even captured on video that has been posted to YouTube as clips from TV broadcasts.

Last November, writer Joe Rudy, who describes himself as “an avid reader of Skeptic magazine” who teaches science and gives private music lessons, and Chris Russo, who works in sales and says he “intends to continue his quest to spread reason and truth, one pseudoscience at a time,” the two 20-somethings were sitting around discussing pseudoscience and the many people who believe one or another form of it. “We had always had a strong interest in why people were so easily fooled by such irrational superstitions as psychic ability, spiritual mediums, alien abductions, and the like,” they write. So they “set out on a mission to help people think rationally and question the credibility of so-called UFO ‘professionals.’”

They cooked up a spaceship hoax “to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.” They used 5 feet of fishing line to tie flares to each of five 3-foot helium balloons and launched them from a field on January 5, 2009. “Once all five balloons were ready for takeoff (with our fingers on the verge of frost bite),” they write, “we struck the 15-minute flares and released them into the sky in increments of fifteen seconds,” filming the UFOs as they floated away.

Media coverage was extensive. A lot of it featured Paul Hurley, a pilot, and his family, who appeared of several news broadcasts describing the strange lights they saw in the sky. (For some reason, reporters find pilots’ UFO sightings especially believable.) Rudy and Russo repeated the performance four more time, gaining media coverage for each. Conspiracy websites and radio shows covered the sightings, but “the icing on the cake came when the popular History Channel show UFO Hunters featured the Morristown UFO as their main story one week,” the duo recall. “Bill Birnes, the lead investigator of the show and the publisher of UFO Magazine, declared definitively that the Morristown UFO could not have been flares or Chinese lanterns.”

This was the pair’s main quarry, exposing the foolishness of UFO “investigators.” They write, “are UFO investigators simply charlatans looking to make a quick buck off human gullibility? . . . If a respected UFO investigator can be easily manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them? Do the networks buy into this nonsense, or are they in it for the ratings?”


Jon Kidd said...

What about all the people seeing multiple ufos and multiple amounts of space debris in the last month? The action will get closer. As in terrorist attack closer. Aliens might be real but when You've spent the last 60 years developing secret craft you gotta impress investors with something. Who would believe another 911 unless if came from above. That would completely "fix" out economic crisis.

skinjob prime said...

Very nice article.

It proves that people "see" with their mind (i.e they see what they want to believe)

Melissae said...

Good point, Jon, about the economy "fix"....

These two guys, Joe and Chris, remind me of the Doug and Dave "debunking" of crop circles in 91...

Christopher Knowles said...

There's a big armory in Morristown, and several military installations in the area. The media took these two at their word- that they are just a couple of average Joes- but I don't. I never thought those were alien, and I don't think these guys are just concerned citizens.

The real story here are the concurrent earthquakes. How did they fake those? That will make for an interesting story.