Tuesday 16 October 2012

BBC Conspiracy Road Trip: UFO's

Conspiracy Road Trip: UFO's can be seen here for a few days after it was broadcast on the 15th of October: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01ndm9r/Conspiracy_Road_Trip_UFOs/
By the time you read this article the link might be dead, but by if another long term link becomes available I'll post it here. (Edit- got one:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ByWCFX4ZQs
This was a slight improvement on this series' previous shows, perhaps because there are no cases of alleged terrorist incidents committed by UFO's; therefore there are no heartbroken victims to batter the road-trippers' reputation with. See here for my review of previous Conspiracy Road Trip programmes: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/bbc-77-conspiracy-road-trip.html and: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/911-conspiracy-road-trip.html Here is also a HPANWO Radio interview with Franky Ma, a friend of mine and one of the... what do I call them?... "contestants"? See: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/programme-17-podcast-franky-ma.html (When the podcast becomes available I'll change this link. Edit- Done it!)
This programme used some additional props: A cartoon head of a Grey alien on the radiator of the Road Trip coach, and a second one above the windscreen, see the photo at the top. However the mission of the show was the same: the presenter, Andrew Maxwell, would try to persuade a group of UFO-enthusiasts that their beliefs are wrong by subjecting them to the contrary argument. The choice of experts used by both sides to reinforce their case was curious: Seth Shostak is the leader of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, see: http://www.seti.org/seti-institute/staff/seth-shostak He spends his days scanning the cosmos for the signs of intelligent life, but doubts that it is visiting us now. Well, I suppose that would make him redundant from his job! However I don't think he needs to be concerned because that whole question, and therefore the debate between him and the road-trippers, is that the classic Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is true. The theory that UFO's are solid nuts-and-bolts machines, more sophisticated versions of our own spacecraft, flown by flesh-and-blood creatures from physical planets within our own universe that we could see through a telescope, is very much an assumption; there's very little hard evidence for it (In this interview with Brian Allan we give more details: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/programme-10-podcast-brian-allan.html) However later in the show they question whether UFO's might be interdimensional manifestations. So the points they were trying to push forward appear confused and tentative to this viewer. As you'll hear in my radio interview with Franky Ma above, there were plenty of other guests suggested who were far more credible, like Richard Dolan and Paola Harris, but they were not presented on the show. It all got a bit surreal when PZ Myers entered the stage, and PZ himself has expressed confusion about his role, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/pz-myers-and-bbc.html I'd have thought PZ would have been better suited to the previous week's show about religious creationism, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01n8ls6/Conspiracy_Road_Trip_Creationism/ As I predicted there was a scene at one of the alien souvenir shops in Roswell or near Area 51. There's a notion among Skeptics that UFO culture is just a money-making racket, however I think this is unfair and have explained why. To accuse Roswell and the people in the towns near Area 51 of anything nefarious is like going to the people of Stratford-on-Avon and saying: "You lot are just milking this Shakespeare thing for your personal profit, aren't you!?" In my view, there is nothing morally wrong at all with exploiting your local history for tourism.
The bizarre nature of the evidence examination took another twist when the subject of animal mutilation came up. A researcher joined the group to suggest that the whole thing is a secret government project; there's strong reason to doubt this, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byaOf5rXrWo However the researcher managed to convince the road-trippers of his views instead of giving the alien theorists a different focus. But naturally the serious researchers were not invited and the really important questions not asked. The same can be said when they paid a visit to an Area 51 museum. Annie Jacobson, the curator, and an ex-Area 51 employee both claimed that there were no extraterrestrial operations going on at the base, that there were no frozen aliens or crashed flying saucers. What's more the curator then tabled the theory under discussion in Nick Redfern's new book: that in the legend of Roswell (although she did not specifically mention Roswell) that the UFO's and aliens were a Russian experimental aircraft and its badly injured pilots, see: http://www.nickredfern.com/ Yet another "explanation" to add to that long, long list. And yet again an important question was omitted: Nobody disputes that the Area 51 base is indeed used for secret intelligence and aviation programmes, this does not mean that even bigger secrets are not going on there too. It's important to understand that, just because he served on the base, the employee interviewed would not necessarily know about those things unless he was directly involved. There are compartmentalized levels of classification even within a top secret facility. Other former Area 51 employees like Edgar Fouche, Bob Lazar and David Adair say that there are aliens there; so who's right and who's wrong? Annie Jacobson also follows the idea that UFO lore is government disinformation to hide their real secrets. This is a popular idea at the moment, being written about in books like Mark Pilkington's Mirage Men, see: http://miragemen.wordpress.com/about-the-book/ (There's a film coming out soon too.) However even if this theory is correct, which I think it might be partly, it can in no way account for the entire UFO phenomenon, despite many claims to the contrary. In fact I've often wondered if there's some kind of elaborate double-bluff going on, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/roswell-no-aliens-just-sound-waves.html The piling up of this tower of "final declassifications" to do with Roswell and other UFO events is confusing. In fact a member of the cast says so, the one with the tin foil hat and a love of guns... I was wondering if he would also be filmed photographing people on the street like Mel Gibson's character in the movie Conspiracy Theory; then the cliche could be complete.
There's no way of knowing for sure exactly what the motivations are for making this programme. I was contacted by somebody who worked on the show after I posted my review of the 7/7 programme and they vigorously protest against my idea that there is propaganda going on with this production. I don't doubt that most, if not all, the people involved in the production are innocent, including my contact. However when I examine the underlying theme of the series, it arcs in a certain direction that makes me suspicious. In the case of the UFO episode of Conspiracy Road Trip it's not so much a cover-up, but what the researcher Andrew Johnson calls a "muddle up".

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