Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A fugitive from justice pops up on the internet

        Sean David Morton, the self-described "America's psychic," "Legal scholar," and "Ph.D theologian," is on the lam, having failed to appear for sentencing on 19 June 2017 in  Federal District Court, Los Angeles. On 4 April Morton and his wife Melissa were found guilty on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of filing false claims against the United States, and 26 counts of passing false or fictitious financial instruments.

        In a fairly amazing display of chutzpah, Morton showed his face on the net yesterday for a two-hour live interview with Kerry Cassidy, streamed onto her web portal. The background was very different from that before which he appeared when interviewed by Cassidy on June 12th, so he almost certainly wasn't at home, but he looked well settled-in to wherever he was, with the full A-V equipment needed to chat with Cassidy via Skype. However, he didn't look at ease at all-- squirming around in his chair and putting on very false-looking grins.

        I came late to the party, so may have missed important material, but my impression was that SDM was putting on the same old show. Blabbering away at top speed, self-justifying and making outrageous claims of prediction of past events that can never be checked. I honestly couldn't follow much of it (and it was chopped up by Kerry Cassidy's usual technical faults,) but I did get that, speaking of his legal problems, he said he was working on a constitutional law angle, and "all this will be over soon." As far as I heard he didn't have much to say about Melissa, who must be quite busy this week selling up the property in Hermosa Beach. She's up for sentencing on Monday morning and will probably be wearing orange for quite a while. Unless, of course, she "does a flitting" like her husband.

        I'm no legal expert but I'm guessing that Kerry Cassidy has put herself in jeopardy by putting on this show. She may not know exactly where SDM is, but she probably has some information that the District Court would like to get its hands on. If I were the federal marshals, I'd be calling on Kerry with a few questions.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Another daft prediction that can easily be tested

James Concannon writes...

        I'm looking forward to the total solar eclipse later this month, not only because they're always a treat to behold, but also because I can test Robert Morningstar's prediction that the eclipse will probably trigger serious earthquakes in central USA and on the New Madrid fault. As I wrote last April, Morningstar is such a dunce at planetary astronomy that he doesn't understand that the Moon is at conjunction once every month without causing 'quakes. Lunar conjunctions do indeed create a very slight additional tidal force but there's no extra tidal force associated with a conjunction that causes an eclipse.

        Now a new prediction is making the rounds, promoted by some surprisingly mainstream publications including the London Daily Telegraph. Nibiru is coming!!!! shouts an author and statistician called David Meade. In a book (which I refuse to provide an easy link to,) Meade pinpoints the date of a catastrophic, probably humanity-destroying, collision. It's 23rd September.

        This, of course, is only the latest in a string of such predictions, and it appears to be based on biblical text as opposed to any actual... you know, observation. Meade writes that observation is problematic, since...
"This system is, of course, not aligned with our solar system's ecliptic, but is coming to us from an oblique angle and toward our South Pole. This makes observations difficult, unless you're flying at a high altitude over South America with an excellent camera."
Note: The above is pure poppycock. Observation of objects out of the ecliptic is done every day, there's nothing hard about it at all, as long as you're in the right hemisphere. According to the inventor of Nibiru, Zecharia Sitchin, it's a "giant planet." So if it is now close enough to be only six weeks from impact, it should be easily visible to the naked eye.

        I've got my calendar marked and I'll be watching the skies, on 21 August and 23 September.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Another open letter to Richard Hoagland (re: procrastination)

Dear Mr. Hoagland,

You are fond of saying--especially when you promise something and then don't deliver--"Make no wine before its time." Well, Richard, there's some wine you're supposed to be making that is now SIX MONTHS PAST its time. I refer to your book The Hidden History of Mars: A War In Heaven. Last March you characterized this book as "just recently completed," and you promised a free copy to Club 19.5 members. You also posted this on 24th March:
"Club 19.5 Members!! You've been patient, you've been faithful, and now - the GIFTS will begin! There is a broadcast coming up in the next few days that to even KNOW about you need to be in Club 19.5."
The broadcast you cited was simply another interview with Howard Hughes on talkradio.co.uk. An interview in which you said nothing new at all, but re-iterated the history of the so-called "Face" on Mars, and dropped the names of  Cronkite (3 times,) Roddenberry (twice,) and Sagan (once.) Do you seriously think that knowledge of this up-coming interview was an adequate gift for people who, at that point, had been paying you five bucks a month for NOTHING since October 2016?

It is now August. Where is this book? Where are these gifts? Are you content to be seen as dishonest?

Regards,

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A question about Richard Dolan

        Richard Dolan is the egghead of Ufology. For a start, he has actual academic credentials (M.A. in history from the University of Rochester, 1995.) His books are praised by Amazon readers (unlike those of Mike Bara, for example.) He publishes other authors' books as well as his own. But most important to my way of thinking, he understands the idea that unfalsifiable propositions are not very interesting and form no part of scientific debate. Here he is on the subject of Andrew Basiago, Randy Kramer, and Corey Goode:
"These three individuals have each claimed to have gone to Mars for extended periods of time. That’s explosive enough, of course, but they have also stated that they have engaged in time travel. I met Andy back in 2012 at a conference in Santa Clara, California. I found him to be very personable and intelligent. Of course, that doesn’t mean I believe his story. I don’t believe that he went through a “jumproom” to Mars. I don’t believe that he did these things with a young Barack Obama in the 1980s. And I don’t believe that, as a child, he time travelled back to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, despite the fact that he claimed he was in a photograph depicting it. I realize there are strange things beyond the circumscribed fence of our officially sanctioned reality. But I am not obligated to believe every story that crosses my path, especially those that are obviously self-aggrandising, and particularly those that don’t provide evidence."
::
"My main issue when it comes to Corey Goode (or Andy or Randy Kramer for that matter) isn’t that I “disbelieve” them, per se. Yes, I find their stories to be unlikely. But the real problem has been that none of these people have provided the evidence that an independent investigator needs to make a determination one way or the other. There is a concept in science and philosophy called falsifiability. If something is falsifiable, it doesn’t mean it’s false.  It means you have the ability to test it, to investigate it, to determine whether it is true or false."
        That was from Dolan's blog, dated 16 July. Last Sunday night he was on Coast-to-Coast AM, interviewed by George Knapp, making the same points. The topic came to the front of his mind because he was an invited speaker at the recent MUFONnote 1 Symposium in George Knapp's stamping ground (and Mike Bara's, but restricted to the cocktail bars and strip joints), Las Vegas. He said he was somewhat taken aback to see that he was scheduled to be on a Secret Space Program panel along with Corey Goode, Andrew Basiago, William Tompkins, and Dr. Michael Salla. He said, in fact, that he considered bowing out but finally agreed to go ahead with it. Listening to the interview, my impression was that he regretted agreeing to that panel, and being connected to those posturers by association. He wrote later:
"I want to make this point as clear as I can. My opinions (and yours, for that matter) don’t mean very much. What matters is the evidence that can be brought forward for these stories. I hold it as possible that there is something in these accounts that is true. After all, I believe that radical technology is being withheld from us. I believe the ARV storynote 2 and more. But if a story gives me no chance to confirm or deny its basic claims, then it’s essentially useless to me as a researcher. This is especially so if I cannot even confirm the basics of the person’s alleged career. I’ve said this many times. You can’t be considered a whistleblower if you can’t confirm that you are who you say you are."

Spineless?
        ufowatchdog evidently noticed Dolan's discomfort with that conference gig, too; writing yesterday "Perhaps Dolan could take a lesson from [James] Clarkson and grow a spine along with some integrity." The author (unnamed, but probably Royce Myers) also expressed shock that Dolan was paid to appear.


        I think that's a little harsh, personally. For one thing, there's nothing unusual or venal about conference speakers being paid—How else could Hoagland make a living? And then, I think we should applaud Dolan's measured skepticism on the likes of Basiago and Goode. We may write them off as con-men, but Dolan's approach is more scientific.

Falling Apart
        The main topic of ufowatchdog's piece was the resignation of  former Director James Clarkson from MUFON, in protest of the acceptance of a woman called J.Z. Knight into MUFON's Inner Circle. Knight is quite a piece of work—her excesses make entertaining reading but I'm not sure I'd want to be associated with her either. Clarkson dismisses her as a channeler and cult leader.

        MUFON, and Ufology in general, seem to be fragmenting—riven by the same jealousies and doctrinal differences that notoriously plague extreme left-wing political movements (that's you, Workers Revolutionary Party and Sendera Luminosa.) Good riddance, I say. It does no good for plodders like Peter Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center to record 100 sightings a month (and breathlessly report a selection of them on Coast-to-Coast AM monthly) without any semblance of analysis. Yes, we all know unexplained things are seen in the skies—it's been true for so fucking long that it's reached the point of boredom. As much as Richard Dolan tries to force this topic into the box labeled SCIENCE, I'm afraid that applies to his work, too.

Update:
        On 1st August, the Bad UFOs blog ran an article by Robert Sheaffer titled MUFON unravels. Sheaffer cited the resignation of not just Clarkson but also Rich Hoffman and Nick Redfern, and the removal of John Ventre as State Director for Pennsylvania after Ventre posted a bizarre racist rant on social media. I still say "good riddance."

=================/ \=================

[1] Mutual UFO Network, a  US National "investigative body."

[2] Alien Reproduction Vehicle: See this.

Friday, July 21, 2017

An irrational perfectionist

        Mike Bara, on working with Richard Hoagland as joint author of Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA:
37:55 "[chuckle] "It was exhausting. Exhausting. Richard is a... Richard is a... um, an amazing content editor, but he's also a perfectionist. To the... to the extent that I think it's not... it's not necessary. [..?..] I said he's a... he's an irrational perfectionist. He's a crazy perfectionist. And it just took a long time and it was very stressful. And I ended up with... with blood sugar in the mid- to high 300s. And I.. you know, I had to... I had to take a long break after we finished that one. But again, you know, I'm proud of the book and I'm... I'm so grateful that he gave me a... a platform upon which to build my own thing, that I'm doing here. Whatever it is I'm doing. So."
        That was a little gem from 70 minutes of chat with Chris George Zuger (whoever he is), poured onto Youchoob as a show called Den of Lore (whatever that means) last night.

        The split screen  showed both Mike and his interlocutor, giving Mike ample opportunity to hold exhibits such as his book covers up to the Skype camera, and Chris Zuger, a recent renouncer of ciggies, to show us himself taking  puffs from his vape tube. The discussion started with the Nazca mummy, and Bara reiterating the only correct opinion he's had in ten years. Then it wandered through his conversion to conspiracy theory by TWA800, to the usual artifacts on Mars and the Moon, to UFOlogy. He had a hilarious take on this thing:

photo credit: NASA

        He said it's a picture of an Arctic lemming, taken on Devon Island, which NASA is "passing off" as a picture of Mars. It does look a bit like a lemming, indeed.


        ...but by what twisted logic would the Curiosity team at JPL resort to such deception? The image dates from September 2012, nowhere close to April Fool's Day. This is just more of Mike Bara confusing "looks like" with "actually is." (see Mars rat taking Internet by storm -- space.com 31 May 2013.)

Update 27 July:
        During a brief appearance on Coast-to-Coast AM, Bara let drop that he's completed a work of fiction. He didn't say whether this was a novel or a screenplay, but either way, God help us all.My bet is that, like his brother Dave's fiction, it will feature a hero who is utterly irresistible to women.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Robert Morningstar bashes James Burke

James Concannon reports...

        Robert Morningstar, the Fordham scholar and frisbee expert, gave us his opinion of James Burke on FooBoo today.
"James Burke, the original "Mad Scientist"? Who cares what he thinks? He rants in mindless twit & twaddle, more of a poet than a scientist and not a very good one (scientist) at that. Opening scene for next show... walking on the shores of the Atlantic near N. Ireland: "Ah, how profound! Here I have a Starfish? There we have a horseshoe crab, direct descendant of the trilobite that lived in the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian era. And here in my hand (cupping hands) is a Nematode, one of the simplest life forms ever known. And there we see an ocean? ... The soup of life... :) Is there a 'connection'??? Ahaa ... Maybe! Stay tuned to find out tonight on "Coniptions"." I really liked his lily & posey-loving poesy, but science ... just a little bit. James Bure [sic] is the original inventor of that bane of modern media -> "InfoTainment," which gave birth to Fox news and CNN "Canned Science"... Hahaha ... Like Global Warming "science."  -> M*"
        Burke, as many people know, is not a scientist and has no pretension to be taken as one. His MA (Oxon) is in Middle English, and his reputation is as a historian of science. I don't think he's any good at frisbee at all, but I happen to know he plays a mean game of bridge, if that counts for anything in AM*'s mind. I don't know how Burke himself would react to being called Infotainment, but my personal reaction, as one very familiar with Burke's work, is that it's inappropriate. The portmanteau word was coined to denigrate television news shows that provide way too much soft news and feel-good magazine-style stories. Since Burke was never in the news business in the first place, his contributions to television can hardly be said to trivialize news.

        Morningstar's jealous outburst was in response to the posting on his FB timeline of two of Burke's documentaries from the 70s—"The Men Who Walked on the Moon" and "The Other Side of the Moon." The posting—initially from Jerrye Barre—was kind of an aside, since the main topic was The Brookings Report and Morningstar's misinterpretation of it (see Footnote #2). This blog was highly critical of Morningstar's use of the report in argument, back in January 2015. Quite why the frisbee expert should have such disdain for someone who generally attracts accolades is anyone's guess. Possibly AM* would prefer a commentator on spaceflight who was more open to the Hoagland-style claim that the Moon is littered with ancient technology. Burke-style documentary television doesn't cover that for the simple reason that it isn't true.

credit: BBC

        My personal opinion is that that pair of documentaries, aired on the tenth anniversary of the first Moon landing, were an important contribution to the history of spaceflight, and I can't fault Burke's final conclusion that Project Apollo did actually have something to offer the world apart from non-stick frying pans. These films (yes, films not videotape—this was 1979) are undoubtedly good information, and undoubtedly entertaining, but to categorize them as Infotainment is missing the point, I think.

JC

Disclosure: At one time James and I were colleagues in the BBC Science Department.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Mike Bara is probably right for once

        Welll....  I didn't really want to get into the Nazca mummy controversy at all, but it's the pseudoscience topic du jour and everybody else in the business has commented. So here's my aggregation of what's emerged so far.

        On 20 June, Gaia TV released to Youtube what they called "SPECIAL REPORT: UNEARTHING NAZCA." The video documented an expedition to Nazca, Peru, to investigate what was claimed to be the mummified corpse of an alien. The expedition was led by Jay Weidner and Melissa Tittl of Gaia.com. Weidner is the man who insists on very flimsy evidence that all the Apollo 11 video and film was faked up by Stanley Kubrick in Area 51, so his involvement makes the whole thing problematic as far as I'm concerned. Gaia's point man in Peru was Jaime Maussan, a Mexican investigative journalist who has been responsible for fakery including a previous alien mummy that wasn't (the Roswell slides.)


         Metabunk was very quick to produce, only a day later, an admirably rigorous assessment of Gaia's claims, rating "alien mummy" as the least likely of seven possible explanations for this artifact. The most likely, per this analysis, is "A modern fake mummy, created from a combination of human and animal bones, created for the show."

        Mike Bara blogged the mummy just a day later, opining that this was "just another attempt to generate clicks and drive subscriptions." He characterized Jay Weidner thus:
"I like Jay Weidner. But if jumping to conclusions was an Olympic sport, Jay Weidner would have more gold medals than Michael Phelps."
        Weidner retaliated by cancelling an appointment Bara had to appear (again) on George Noory's Gaia-sponsored TV show. Bitchery!!!!

        Jason Colavito blogged skeptically the same day. On 3rd July ufowatchdog weighed in, pouring further doubt on Jaime Maussan and also bad-mouthing Paola Harris, Don Schmitt, Clifford Stone, and Dr. Jose de Juesus Zalce Benitez—all of whom are peripherally involved. The article, headlined "Mummy, Mummy, Money," focused on the commercial aspects of the story:
"Gaia.com is clearly not hurting from any of these personalities, and they know it.  According to their own website, Gaia.com (a publicly traded company) saw a 61% increase in digital subscribers this year and this doesn't count the last few months.  It appears there is no such thing as bad publicity anymore. "
        Well, yesterday Mike Bara stood himself up in front of the flag of the Manchester City Football Club and recorded a 10-minute video giving his opinions. He said, among other zingers, that he knew the Gaia TV producer and "she is not an honest person" (was he talking about Melissa Tittl? It's not clear.)

        We should know more next week, when further medical and genetic analysis is due to be released. But for now, this blog acknowledges that Mike Bara is probably right. And Jay Weidner is a child.

Update:
        The first DNA test is in, from the  Paleo DNA Laboratory of Lakehead University, Canada.


Update 25 July:
        Bara has released a short update video today, giving two reasons why he believes the "mummy" is almost certainly a fake.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Mortons: Recriminations, lies and videotape

        Two days ago now, a video interview with SDM was released onto Youtoob. It was part of a generic called High Strangeness, and the interview was conducted by Sean Paul Ross and Caroline Hill in what looked like some kind of library. The tagline was:
"Sean David Morton gives his side of the story about his court case before disappearing after a warrant is issued for his arrest."
        There was doubt about when and where this interview was conducted, but the story is that it was somewhere in the Los Angeles area, taped before the sentencing hearing although not released until nine days later. It was a 2-camera set-up so it's credible that some post-production was required.

        I couldn't possibly summarize Morton's arguments and self-justifications—they were, I think, purposefully convoluted and the interviewers didn't seem to grasp much more than I did. I do recall that he said very emphatically that the issuance of a refund check in the amount of $480,323 was the IRS's fault, not his or Melissa's. Thus exonerating himself for having fraudulently filed the claim in the first place. There was a lot more in the same vein, just like his performance with Kerry Cassidy.

Lies
        Two things stood out for me. One was an extraordinary caption that popped up at 29:07 (the whole thing ran 31:18.) It read "Cameraman became uncomfortable with the subject matter and left." You've got to love that—the guy holding Sean's close-ups says to himself  "Fuck this, I'm not keeping this camera focused on a bunch of lies one second longer." More cameramen should have the guts to do likewise—many a political interview would be cut very short. In this case, the last few minutes of the video just held the static three-shot.

"Screw you"
        The other thing was a NSFW outburst from Melissa Morton herself in the Youtube comments. Commenter atube4view wrote "SEAN AND HIS WIFE WILL DIE IN PRISON!?" Melissa shot back with "Screw you. I'm NOT in prison and never will be. You are a jerk just like ALL MEN!! You lie to women, cheat on them and use them. I hope YOU die a very slow and painful death."

        By the way, Melissa's avatar is a cute little white pussy-cat. Time will tell whether Melissa puts on the orange jumpsuit when she goes for sentencing on 21st August—the day of the All-American solar eclipse.

Update 1st July
        Melissa's mini-rant has now been deleted, but I swear on my saintly mother's grave that I transcribed it accurately.

 Update 7th July
         Sean Paul Ross has now provided the following information about the walkabout cameraman:
"He's a professional cinematographer that was doing me a favor as a friend (we'll pay people when we have a budget for the show). We talked about it afterwards and his opinion was that SDM was either lying or starting to get into some dangerous territory that could piss the federal government off and he did not want to be associated with SDM at that point and risk any repercussions on himself. It frustrated me because it essentially ended the interview, but everything happens for a reason and I've resolved in my mind that perhaps that was the moment the interview was supposed to end. I don't know that it's right to be worried about the Feds coming after us because if SDM was right that they wanted to make an example of him, we have helped raise awareness of that example. We are not encouraging people to follow SDM's example... just look at how it turned out for him. My takeaway is to be sure to pay your taxes and use a good CPA to make sure you do them right, however most definitely do NOT use the one SDM used."