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     Volume 1 Issue 7| September 17, 2006 |


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Foreign Feature

X-Files go bust:
end of alien enigma?

No visitors from the outer space; no spacecraft; no flying saucer; no alien on earth!! It can't be!! Then all the fun would be over...gone....!

The story:
Science can't explain how the Great Pyramids of Egypt were constructed; because they are so precisely aligned and designed, aliens must have had a role in creating them thousands of years ago.

The real story:
While many people assume that those living in earlier times (such as the ancient Egyptians) were not resourceful enough to possibly have created impressive engineering feats without extraterrestial aid, this is not true. Actually, the methods by which the pyramids could have been constructed are well documented, and have appeared in many places including National Geographic magazine and Mark Lehner's book The Complete Pyramids. The only real mystery surrounding the pyramids is why anyone would still think aliens were involved.

Further reading:
Mark Lehner. The Complete Pyramids.

Face on Planet Mars
Proof that intelligent alien life exists in the universe can be found on Marsor so claims Richard Hoagland, author of the book The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever. According to Hoagland, NASA photographs of the Cydonia region of Mars show a human-like face. According to Hoagland, this must have been constructed by intelligent beings and indicates that there are (or were) alien cities on Mars.

The real story:
The "Face on Mars" is an example of imagination and wishful thinking. The photographs that show an area vaguely resembling a face on Mars were taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter in 1976. Since then, far better photographs have been taken of Mars (for example, by the Mars Global Surveyor in 1998). They show that the area is heavily eroded, and the "face" was simply a combination of low image resolution and tricks of light and shadow.

Alien autopsy
The 1947 "Roswell Incident" got a boost of credibility in 1995 when a grainy, black-and-white film surfaced. The top-secret film (shot by the military and showing a post-mortem dissection of an alien body) was touted as evidence of what some UFO buffs had claimed all along: that alien bodies had been recovered by the U.S. government.

The real story:
Soon after the alien autopsy footage was broadcast on Fox television, serious doubts were raised about the authenticity of the film.

Skeptics (and even many UFO researchers) branded the film a hoax, pointing out anachronisms and inconsistencies in the film. Yet because the Roswell story is so short on evidence, others clung to the autopsy footage as real. Earlier this year, the special effects artist who created the alien confessed that it was in fact a hoax.

Further reading:
Flying saucers

On June 24, 1947, the modern UFO era began when a man named Kenneth Arnold saw nine “flying saucers” moving at high speed near Mount Rainer, Washington. Soon others began reporting seeing similar UFOs, spawning a “flap.”

The phrase "flying saucer," so familiar to Americans and UFO buffs, is the result of a reporter's error. After interviewing Arnold about his sighting, a reporter from the Eastern Oregonian newspaper reported that Arnold saw round, aerial objects (in fact he said they were "crescent shaped"). Arnold stated that the objects "flew erratic, like a saucer if you skip it across the water"not that what he saw resembled an actual saucer. Yet that "saucer" interpretation stuck, prompting many eyewitnesses to repeat (and hoaxers to duplicate) Arnold's nonexistent description. This strongly shows the role of suggestion in UFO sightings; as skeptic Marty Kottmeyer asks, "Why would extraterrestrials redesign their craft to conform to [the reporter's] mistake?"

Alien implant
As part of nefarious experiments, aliens have implanted various objects in human abductees. Victims have found small foreign objects in their bodies and come to realize they had been abducted. Several alien implants have been recovered, and when they are scientifically tested, they are found to be indestructible or of materials not found on Earth.

The real story:
Joe Nickell, a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, noted that “Since 1994 alleged implants have been surgically recovered but they've become remarkably diverse: one looks like a shard of glass, another a triangular piece of metal, still another a carbon fiber, and so on. None was located in the brain or nasal cavity, instead being recovered from such extremities as toe, hand, shin, external ear, etc.; some were accompanied by scars while others were not. As physicians know, a foreign object can enter the body unnoticed, as during a fall, or while running barefoot in sand or grass even as a splinter from a larger impacting object.” People find all sorts of weird things in their bodies, but so far none are of alien origin.

The story:
Hundreds of people claim to have been abducted by aliens, especially during in the 1980s. They were subjected to rape, experiments and implantations, and other bodily intrusions. Several prominent researchers, including Harvard's John Mack, supported the claims and wrote books about these victims.

The real story:
There may be several causes of the alien abduction experience. Many of these experiences are only recovered years later, during psychological treatment for other issues. Research has proven that false memories can be created in the course of therapy by careless psychologists. People can actually come to believe they were abducted or abused when they were not. Other researchers have shown that a common psychological process called sleep paralysis may be misinterpreted as an alien abduction.

Roswell incident
The most famous UFO crash in history occurred in 1947, on a ranch just outside of Roswell, a dusty New Mexican town. Mysterious debris and alien bodies were recovered, spirited away in a government cover-up.

There was indeed a cover-up of what crashed outside Roswell, but authorities were hiding not a crashed alien saucer but a weather balloon from a secret spy program called Project Mogul.

The debris described by the original eyewitnesses exactly matches the balloons used in the program; the fanciful stories of alien bodies did not appear until much later. The Roswell Incident was in fact only one of many similar (and clearly folkloric) stories of crashed vessels containing alien bodies and debrissome dating back nearly 100 years earlier.

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