When I saw a post on The Myspace about "Awesome new UFO pictures!" I knew that I was doomed to have a look. Little did I know that it would be the first tiny step on a long road of confusion (mine) and depression (that of a guy named Issac). On the other hand, this is the longest article I've yet written. I still don't think that compensates me for the mental anguish of sorting through this mess.
These photos were supposedly taken by a fellow named Chad, who claims he saw the object one night, and then some time later returned with a camera and, lo and behold, the object was still there. With great prudence, he forwarded all of the photos and his story to Coast to Coast AM, a sort of internet radio variety show. I'd heard about this show from Angry Joe at work: sometimes they have absolute lunatics on, and sometimes distinguished scientists of the highest caliber. Chad added the ominous note that his wife, who is a month pregnant, is now getting headaches.
The first batch of photos show a sleek, lightweight thing that, to me, looks like a fruit juicer's skeleton. The underside of the point wing-things have writing on them that, in Chad's pictures, are clear. If it were English, Arabic, or Cyrillic, I'd be able to at least sound out the words. Sadly, it's not: the font is some weird, sleek space age stuff that will shortly be the source of great entertainment (keep reading.) There's something weird about the picture: as soon as I saw it, my first reaction was that the ship must have been added in as a CGI object. It's hard to put my finger on, but it just looks too sharp. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt that way: on various message boards, thousands of posts claimed that clearly the ship was added with one CGI program or another, that there was too much backlighting, or too much frontlighting, so on and so forth. Every self-proclaimed CGI expert on the internet was out and about without pants, swinging around their unit and claiming it was the biggest.
Over time, though, the CGI/not CGI debate died down. People that thought it was a hoax eventually got tired and left, leaving an internet residue of true believers who, somehow, came to the conclusion that the devices were 'drones' here to observe the earth.
A handful more people on the west coast came forward with their own photos. The first was Ty B., who claimed that he was out mountain biking and, for some reason, had brought a camera with which he took some quick photos when a 'drone' appeared instantly out of the clear blue sky. But his craft was different: bigger, bulkier, with more doodads on the side. There's nothing remarkable about his story, other than that he claims to have listened to Coast to Coast AM for many years, and to be a great fan.
Then came Stephen, supposedly a photography student who was out taking pictures of some flowers when a spaceship from beyond the moon suddenly appeared before him. He snapped a few quick pictures, and it seems that he posted them to a listserv for photographers; a freelance wedding photographer named Jenna saw them and forwarded them, again, to Coast to Coast AM. Stephen's email is written in the style of a teenage girl's text messages, a style I like to call TXTOMFGBBQ.
That's more or less the end of the photographic evidence. Everyone describes the movement of the 'drones' as being mechanical, sort of like an insect. The craft, silent, would just float lazily along, and then suddenly dart somewhere else, and then repeat. It would appear instantly and disappear just as suddenly. It wasn't just the size and shape of the thing that changed, though; the pictures were now different. Instead of the ultra-clear, ultra-sharp quality that characterized most of Chad's photographs, the drones were now for the most part farther away, fuzzier, and less sharp.
If this were where the story ended, I'd pull my usual shtick, lamenting the lack of verifiable physical evidence, calling into question the trustworthiness of the witnesses, and probably expounding on my initial gut reaction, that the ships were CGI additions to otherwise lovely scenic photographs.
But this fairly straightforward story of spaceship sightings took an extraordinary turn for the ridiculous with the emergence of Issac. He sent a bundle of e-mails to (yet again) Coast to Coast AM. Issac claims to have been a scientist at a top secret UFO research facility, and his emails contained scanned pages from research documents that he'd supposedly stolen, as well as photographs and a long explanatory letter.
The letter makes it clear that he doesn't care who uses the materials he's supplied, as long as they post the pictures and letter together. Since I've used some of the images in this article, you can find the original article here . However, I suggest that you not read it. It's long. Really long. Too long. It's roughly 12 pages of unpleasant insanity, and you'll hate yourself if you read it rather than my quick summary. [Author's edit: after rereading Issac's letter, I decided to add a running commentary to it. It is now definitely worth reading.]
Basically, Issac claims to have been a computer scientist in the Department of Defense, who was recruited in the early 1980s to work at PACL, the Palo Alto CARET Laboratory. While working at this (non-existant) top secret laboratory, buried in five underground levels below some innocuous front in California, he was given a position of authority and worked mainly on deciphering the alien language that can be seen on the bottom of the wings in the photos. PACL was run by the military, but with the goal of producing technology that they could patent, sell, and from which they could use the profits to fund other top secret operations. There were guards in every single room, everyone was strip-searched on the way in or out, and the brass had a very strict need-to-know policy that eventually grated on the scientists. In a fit of disgust at the way things were being run, a few years after joining PACL Issac began stealing documents by stuffing them in his pants (ha!) and simply walking out of the facility. Then he quit. He'd thought on and off about going public, but was only spurred to do so by Chad's photos.
His letter claims that the 'drones' are larger versions of the anti-gravity devices that he worked on at PACL. As proof, Issac included a photo of 'alien artifacts' which he claims he worked on: if connected together, you can easily see how they'd make the central ring of the 'drone.' This sort of shoots a hole in the CGI theory: if someone did add a CGI drone to a photograph, they at least went through the trouble of making a model of it for use in Issac's photos.
Issac's most insane theory involves the alien alphabet. The internet was initially abuzz with the nature of the language: some said it was Japanese Katakara, others said it was Klingon script (from Star Trek), some said it was Aurek Besh (from Star Wars) and so on and so on. It looks similar to all of those, but doesn't quite match. All translation attempts failed. Issac, however, has a much more awesome explanation. In fact, I'll just quote him:
".is a system of symbols. along with geometric forms and patterns that fit together to form diagrams that are themselves functional. Once they are drawn, so to speak, on a suitable surface made of a suitable material and in the presence of a certain type of field, they immediately begin performing the desired tasks."
What he's saying, is that were you to write "make the table dance" using this alien language, on an appropriate type of paper, and then you put the paper on a table, the table would dance. He makes it very clear, though, that there's no way we can test this claim: we'd need a special ink, a special paper, a special field, and it doesn't matter anyway because the language is so complex that the human brain can't understand. Except Issac, because he's the mayor of Geniustown, but more on that later.
The rest of Issac's information is, to quote an episode of Futurama, "...a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors." At this point, forgive me for referring you to my friend The Bulleted List, who shall make things easier for me.
- The name of the program: CARET stands for Commercial Applications Research for Extraterrestrial Technology. The government has a top secret program involving the greatest secret of all human history, and they use the word 'Extraterrestrial' in the name of it? Baloney. The government gives only ridiculous names to things to ensure no one can guess what they're about. Project Blue Book wasn't called Project Maybe We Saw Some UFOs, and the Manhattan Project wasn't called the We're Going to Blast You to Smithereens with Atom Power! Project. Give me a break. Commercial Applications Research for Extraterrestrial Technology is the sort of name you'd see in science fiction. Particularly bad science fiction.
- Issac claims at a number of points that there's a soldier in every single lab, and that no one is ever more than a few feet away from a machine-gun. Except in the hallways, where he can stuff "hundreds" of photocopied documents, many originals, and many original photographs into his trousers. The government, to guard its most top-secret of secrets, employed a guard who got so lazy that after a little while he didn't strip search Issac as ordered, but rather just checked his briefcase. Let me tell you that's not how this works. If the government wants to guard something, and they tell that guard to give you a cavity check every time you walk in or out, that guard is going to be giving your Pyloric Sphincter the thumbs up every day until he dies. And he's not going to be the only one that keeps track of your stuff. In fact, from what I remember of working at the Philadelphia Navy Yards, I'd be shocked if a facility like CARET even had a copy machine.
- The documents that Issac provides are no better. One claims that antigravity units are so heavy that airplanes would be unable to support their load before the units were switched on; therefore, they used one small antigravity unit to cancel the weight of a larger unit, and then installed it in an airplane. That's, at best, the lowest form of science fiction. There are ten year olds that have written better stories on the inside cover of their trapper keepers.
- I was afraid that I'd go through this whole mass of documents without seeing technobabble, but these fears were unfounded. His letter refers to "holographic computational substrates" where each "computational unit" is a "particle." Despite such fancy sounding phrases as this, there's a total lack of technical language in the rest of his letter; he explains everything else through the use of clumsy metaphors rather than through appropriate terminology. This is especially true of the captions in the alien technical diagrams. And while I'm on the topic of clumsy metaphors, let me direct your attention to the broomstick analogy that is made in the "progress report" that Issac provides. If that clumsy metaphor wasn't written by the same guy that wrote that long letter full of clumsy metaphors, I'll eat my hat.
- Issac claims that the ships are invisible, and that some experiment must be jamming that capability temporarily, making the ships become visible for short periods of time. Yet, Chad went back after a few days and the ship was still where he'd seen it last. Is there some definition of "temporarily" that I don't know?
- According to Issac, each researcher only makes it a few years before burning out. He claims that there are 200 scientists there, and from his descriptions, I think it's safe to assume 2 guards / higher echelon 'brass' per scientist. So, 600 people at any given time, rotating every few years since before Issac started there in 1984. That's tens of thousands of people that have passed through CARET by now. And Issac is the only one who's spoken up? Hmmm. Seems unlikely. Also, I should mention that Issac says he arrived on the scene in 1984, and that there were already scientists working there for a while before he arrived. Later, he says CARET was inaugurated in 1984. That seems weird.
- There's just something about the way the letter is written. According to Issac, he is a technical genius, held a position of some authority in the Department of Defense's most top secret project, and has many gifts that make him and him alone capable of understanding the god-like alien technology: yet he writes like a 16 year-old. If it were a question of spelling or grammar, that would be one thing, as we can't all be Sheikh Zoubir (the Arabic Shakespeare) but the whole letter has the flavor of childhood. For instance, at one point he says that at the CARET facility ".behind the very first set of doors was [sic] enough armed guards to invade Poland." Would a highly-learned, retired technical supergenius make such a puerile crack? I doubt it.
- There's another phrase that sticks out. A single sentence in 12 pages of babbling that stopped me cold: when describing his initial briefing wherein he learned that he'd be working with alien technology, he says ".it's a lot like a child learning his parents are divorcing. I never experienced that myself, but a very close friend of mine did when were [sic] boys, and he confided in me a great deal about what the experience felt like." That. that's odd. Learning that the government has alien technology is like your parents divorcing? Damn, Issac. This kind of Freudian slip encourages speculation: I could easily be persuaded to see, in some dank basement, some teenager depressed by the divorce of his parents, churning out CGI photos and bad science fiction in a bid for attention. That's just speculation though.
Speaking of speculation, the true nature of what is going on with these 'drones' was the subject of at least three hojillion message board posts. Some take everything at face value: these 'drones' are real, CARET existed, Issac is not a loon, and aliens are visiting our planet. This ground usually wins every message board debate, because their beliefs are the strongest and they can just outlast others. An offshoot of this involves Chad actually being Issac in disguise.
Others assumed that this was part of a viral marketing ploy. I initially bought into this, since I first saw Chad's photos on Myspace. First, it was supposed to have tied into the Transformers movie; when that was shown wrong, it was supposed to be for Halo 3, which now seems unlikely. Some have speculated that this is reverse viral marketing: some company puts a story out, and if the nerd community digs it, they'll make a movie out of it. This theory is appealing because it's obvious that someone put a lot of time into it, what with the CGI photos, the creation of the plastic models in Issac's photos, and Issac's letter. On the other hand, would a marketing company really release something as puerile, rambling, and grammatically poor as Issac's letter? I doubt it, but time will tell.
A third theory is that it's all a hoax. Some people just for some reason decided to put photos of an alien juicemaster floating through the air on the internet. It wouldn't be the first time: do you remember the man in the ski jacket atop the World Trade Center?
After re-reading Issac's article, it occurred to me that perhaps this is a publicity stunt for Coast to Coast AM. If I saw a spaceship in mid air, I'd call every newspaper in the country, NORAD, the FBI, and I'd be preaching it from the rooftops. Apparently, there are a handful of witnesses to these craft that have decided, independent from each other, to give their information only to Coast To Coast AM. That seems fishy to me. I'm also given to understand (through second hand internet message board posts) that Linda from Coast to Coast AM has claimed many more people have contacted her with similar sighting stories, but no photos. She's not released any of their names or how they contact her, though, so we have to take her word for it. Why has everyone on earth sighting these things decided to contact her, and her alone? I hate to use this phrase, but why hasn't anyone contacted any of the more Orthodox UFO investigators? (MUFON, etc.)
I have my own pet theory. Issac's story makes it clear that he thinks he's the smartest guy on earth. It's full of self-aggrandizing statements, from talking up his genius at computer engineering; to describing how he outsmarted the government, and continues to do so through using clandestine channels to reveal what he's learned; to claiming to be one of less than 50 people on earth that truly understand the alien agenda; to claiming to have held a position of not inconsiderable authority in the department of defense; to claiming to have hundreds, if not thousands of pages of additional documents that he might release in the near future; to talking down to others by explaining everything through crude metaphors, rather than just using plain technical language. So on and so forth. Issac's letter is more like an insane memoir, and the moral is "I am the greatest person on earth. You must love me!"
As far as the pictures go, "Ty B." claims to have been a big fan of Coast to Coast AM before seeing his spaceship. Chad's photos look uniquely fake, and after that was debated on the internet, a new crop of blurrier, less fake-looking photos appear, sent again only to Coast to Coast AM.
Add to that the line about divorcing parents, and I think I can see the outline of a sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad story. Issac, Chad, Jenna, and Ty B. are all just some poor depressed kid that likes Coast to Coast AM and wants to get some attention. I feel for you, "Issac," but this spaceship baloney isn't going to fix anything.
But that's all speculation. What do we really have? Issac's story, which is so ridiculous that it should have been laughed out of town before ever seeing the light of day. We have some photographs that look ridiculously fake, followed after a few weeks by ones that look less fake. We have no physical proof of any kind, only anonymous internet postings to a radio show. No "witness" has given enough information that they could be interviewed in person.
If you're the kind of person that just takes the word of anonymous internet posts at face value, fine. Enjoy your UFOs. But that's not for me.
Be seeing you.