SETI: The Search for Aliens comes up Short?

Will SETI ever find Aliens?

Will SETI ever find Aliens?
Description: Alien attacks the warship Thunderchild
Attribution: Illustration by Henrique Alvim Corrêa for The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1906 Edition)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

SETI’s latest search for aliens has come to a disappointing conclusion. Part of the problem is our own technology. We just aren’t that advanced. SETI is only capable of searching for Type II civilizations, who utilize and channel an energy source equivalent to the sun. So, yeah…there probably aren’t too many of those.

The other problem is even more challenging to overcome. Searching for aliens has always struck me as a long-shot. Sure, the galaxy is vast but so is time. And the odds of our civilization overlapping with a similar one (actually a much more advanced one) on a distant planet have got to be miniscule. Here’s more on the latest SETI search from Ian O’Neill at Discovery News:

In an effort to search for intelligent extraterrestrials, SETI astronomers have completed their first “directed” search. Unfortunately, it turned up no evidence of transmitting aliens. But that’s hardly surprising.

By focusing the Green Bank radio telescope, located in West Virginia, on stars hosting (candidate) exoplanets, it is hoped that one of those star systems may also play host to a sufficiently evolved alien race capable of transmitting radio signals into space. But in a study headed by ex-SETI chief Jill Tarter, the conclusion of this first attempt is blunt: “No signals of extraterrestrial origin were found.”

(See the rest at Discovery News)

Crop Circles: Photographic Proof from 1945?

Greg Jefferys, future crop circles PhD candidate, claims to have found photographic evidence for crop circles in Google Earth’s 1945 overlay. Before you UFO fanatics get too excited, he attributes the circles to natural phenomena, namely ball lightening. Here’s more from The Huffington Post:

Did crop circles exist in 1945?

Did crop circles exist in 1945?
Description: Crop circle in Switzerland
Attribution: Jabberocky
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Crop circles dating back to 1945 are proof the phenomenon is no modern hoax, a Tasmanian historian claims. The mystery of the increasingly intricate patterns was supposedly solved after several high-profile cases were revealed to be the work of artists and mischief-makers armed with barrels, planks of wood and plenty of spare time. Credit for the hoaxes has been laid largely at the feet of pranksters Dave Chorley and Doug Bower, who in 1991 announced they had been pulling the wool over people’s eyes since 1978.

But research by Greg Jefferys has revealed evidence of the strange circles in the English countryside at least 33 years before Chorley and Bower took credit for the phenomena – which until then had been attributed to UFOs and alien activity. Jefferys, who has a degree in archaeology, was prompted to research the matter after reading a report on crop circles in an 1880 edition of the science journal Nature.

The 59-year-old’s research focuses on images from Google Earth’s new 1945 overlay, which Jefferys studied for more than 300 hours. The overlay is a series of photos taken towards the end of World War II by the RAAF and comprises around 35% of the 1945 overlay of England presently available online…

(See the rest at The Huffington Post)

Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOS: Conducting Pseudoscience?

Cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are pseudosciences. But that doesn’t mean researchers in these fields can’t use the tools of science to improve their work. How does one practice pseudoscience…using real science?

A giant squid attacks a ship
Illustration in Hetzel version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Drawn by Alphonse de Neuville and Edouard Riou
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pseudoscience – A Background

For the last few months, we’ve been following numerous “pseudoscience expeditions” that have received little coverage in the press (you can find our coverage of the Baltic Anomaly expeditions, TIGHAR’s Amelia Earhart expedition, and the Newmac Expedition at the bottom of this page). At the same time, we’re also considering mounting our own expedition.

As such, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct true “scientific investigations” in fields of study usually considered to be pseudosciences. Is it even possible? If so, how would one go about planning such an investigation?

This is a big topic and it’s taken us several articles to fully cover it. Six days ago, we presented the problem and established the importance of the scientific method. Five days ago, we looked at how well fields such as cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology stack up against the scientific method (answer: not good). Yesterday, we examined the so-called “scientific paradigm” argument that pseudosciences just haven’t been accepted by mainstream science yet.

By now, we’ve established (at least in our minds) that fields like cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are pseudosciences. But that doesn’t mean pseudosciences can’t be practiced in a professional manner. How can pseudoscience researchers use the methods of science to improve their work?

“Science is about trying to prove that you’re wrong and then sort of grudgingly accepting that you haven’t been able to prove yourself wrong.” ~ Gary Taubes, Q&A with Gary Taubes

The Problem of Falsifiability

Cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology have two major problems. First, they lack falsifiability. In other words, you can prove the existence of a cryptid, ghost, or UFO by finding one. But you can never prove nonexistence.The lack of falsifiability is a major problem. It’s the primary reason real scientists stay away from these fields. It also helps explain the extremely poor quality of research in pseudoscience fields. Real scientists create hypotheses to explain phenomena and then do everything possible to refute them. Pseudoscientists, unable to refute their hypotheses, are forced to do the opposite.

“Good science isn’t about proclaiming a hypothesis to be fact. Rather, it’s about doing everything you can to refute your own hypothesis. This requires creating unique and creative tests in order to rule out alternative theories. But even if these tests are done in a comprehensive fashion, an unassailed hypothesis still isn’t fact. It merely hasn’t been refuted yet. It might hold up under thousands of different tests. But all it takes is one test to send it to the dustbin of history.” ~ David Meyer, Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs: Protosciences…or Pseudosciences?

The Evidence Problem?

And this leads us to the second major problem. Pseudoscientists generally marshal evidence to support their theories. But most of the “evidence” for cryptids, ghosts, and UFOs is anecdotal and thus, extremely weak.

So, we’ve got two major problems. First, practitioners are forced to use flawed hypotheses. Second, the evidence gathered is weak and used in an incorrect fashion.

Improving Pseudoscience through…Science?

Let’s return to our example from two days ago. Assume you hear reports of a strange ape-like creature roaming the Pacific Northwest. The nature of this creature is a legitimate, scientific question. How do you proceed?

Most amateur cryptozoologists will race to the scene. They’ll camp out and roam around the woods for awhile. Eventually, they’ll give up and go home, leaving an unsolved mystery in their wake.

More experienced practitioners will attempt to utilize the scientific method. They’ll begin with a hypothesis such as: “The eyewitness reports were caused by sightings of a heretofore undiscovered animal.” Then they’ll head to the region and conduct an exhaustive investigation. They’ll interview witnesses and create a narrow search window. They’ll scour the area for footprints and hair follicles. They’ll set traps and deploy expensive cameras in the vicinity, hoping to catch an image of the creature. Eventually, they’ll use this evidence to support their original hypothesis.

The second method is preferable to the first one. Eyewitness testimony is used to narrow the search window and evidence is gathered in a systematic fashion. However, the initial hypothesis fails the falsifiability test. Regardless of the evidence, there’s no way to prove the creature doesn’t exist. Thus, the evidence only serves one purpose…to support the original hypothesis.So, how should our hypothetical cryptozoologist proceed? Simple…by doing real science.

A proper hypothesis should follow Occam’s razor, or the principle of parsimony. In other words, the researcher should consider numerous hypotheses and choose the simplest one (defined as the hypothesis that requires the fewest assumptions). Thus, the original hypothesis might be restated as: ”The eyewitness reports were caused by sightings of a bear.”

The investigation then proceeds as in the second example. Eyewitness testimony is used to narrow the search window and evidence is gathered in a systematic fashion. However, this time the evidence gathered is used to refute the hypothesis. If a bear is ruled out, the next most likely hypothesis is considered. And then the next and then the next and so on…

One Remaining Problem…

So, that’s how one would conduct a real scientific expedition in a pseudoscience field. Unfortunately, that leaves us with one problem. It’s impossible to rule out all alternative hypotheses. And even if a pseudoscience researcher believes he or she has done so, it still doesn’t prove the existence of the monster, ghost, or UFO. Unfortunately, this problem is unsolvable.

There’s only one way to prove the existence of the unknown. And that’s through physical evidence…i.e. an actual monster, ghost, or UFO. Thus, it’s understandable that few people choose to employ the scientific method and rule out alternatives. It’s far easier (and far more fun) to attempt to prove existence via the available evidence, weak though it may be.

This problem is exacerbated by the large population of “true believers.” UFO enthusiasts, for example, believe ardently in UFOs. Nothing can convince them otherwise. They’re not interested in skepticism. Instead, they’re only interested in evidence that supports their pre-determined beliefs. Hence, they provide a steady fan base for pseudoscience research.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution here. Real scientific research regarding monsters, ghosts, and UFOs is possible. However, the best it can do is eliminate alternative theories for a strange phenomena.

Not that this a bad thing. Eliminating alternative theories has value. In addition, the application of the scientific method may have other results, such as leading researchers to do more rigorous and skeptical analysis.

At the end of the day, we believe the best thing a pseudoscience researcher can do is to keep an open mind and to always employ Occam’s razor. It might not be as much fun…but it’s the only way to get closer to the truth.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOS: Sciences or Pseudosciences?

Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs: A Paradigm Shift?

Monsters, ghosts, and UFOS may or may not exist. But fields of study devoted to them have sprung up over the last few decades. These fields fail the scientific method test due to the lack of falsifiability. But is there a way we can still classify these fields as legitimate sciences? Or are they doomed to be pseudosciences?

Frequency of UFO Reports
June – September, 1952
Source: Appendix I to Project Blue Book Status Report Number 8, ARC Identifier 595542

Background

For the last few months, we’ve been following numerous “pseudoscience expeditions” that have received little coverage in the press (you can find our coverage of the Baltic Anomaly expeditions, TIGHAR’s Amelia Earhart expedition, and the Newmac Expedition at the bottom of this page). At the same time, we’re also considering mounting our own expedition.

As such, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct true “scientific investigations” in fields of study usually considered to be pseudosciences. Is it even possible? If so, how would one go about planning such an investigation?

This is a big topic so it will take us several articles to fully cover it. A few days ago, we presented the problem and established the importance of the scientific method. Then we looked at how well fields such as cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology stack up against the scientific method (answer: not good). Today, we’ll examine a counter argument…namely that the only reason pseudoscience fields aren’t looked at as being scientific is due to the current paradigm.

“Science is about trying to prove that you’re wrong and then sort of grudgingly accepting that you haven’t been able to prove yourself wrong.” ~ Gary Taubes, Q&A with Gary Taubes

The Scientific Paradigm

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote a book entitled, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it, he divided science into two categories…”normal science” and “extraordinary science.” Normal science operates within an accepted “paradigm.” But sometimes, anomalies occur. If enough anomalies take place, normal science is recognized to be flawed and undergoes a “crisis period.”

In this “crisis period,” scientists begin to do extraordinary science. In other words, they operate outside the paradigm. Eventually, this may lead to new ideas and a resulting “paradigm shift” in which the new paradigm replaces the old one.

A Paradigm Shift toward Pseudoscience Fields?

Cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are devoted to the study of unknown animals (or cryptids), ghosts, and UFOs, respectively. Scholars in these fields often call upon Kuhn’s work to support their research. In other words, they think the current paradigm is flawed and controlled by scientists within the paradigm. Thus, the only reason cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are still considered pseudosciences is because they don’t fit into current theories.

However, Kuhn’s concept of a “paradigm shift” doesn’t happen easily. It requires constant anomalies that can be detected in repeatable experiments. And this is where pseudosciences fall short. It’s not that mainstream science refuses to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence for monsters, ghosts, and UFOs. It’s that such evidence doesn’t exist.

But some Cryptids are Real…Aren’t They?

While no one has ever produced a real ghost or UFO, new animals are discovered every year. Thus, cryptozoology has a leg up in this regard.

That being said, we have to draw a distinction here. The types of animals remaining to be discovered are most likely small and unknown to cryptozoology. In contrast, most cryptozoologists focus their efforts on well-known, highly unlikely creatures (Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster for example). Even worse, they seek such creatures with absolute certainty of their existence. Still, the regular discovery of new animals would appear to hold some hope for serious cryptozoologists.

Most new animals are discovered by accident. However, unknown animals are sometimes known through folklore. Take the extremely rare saola for example. Its existence has been known by locals for many years. Yet, their skulls were only discovered in 1992. To this day, the saola has yet to be observed in the wild. Incidentally, the discovery of the saola wasn’t made by cryptozoologists. Still, it represents how a cryptozoological expedition might work.

Cryptozoology is feasible, but is it real science? No. It still fails the scientific method test, specifically in terms of falisfiability. One might hypothesize the existence of a saola-like creature via folklore. One might even find the creature. But it’s impossible to prove it doesn’t exist.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

The inherent problem with cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology is that either a monster/ghost/UFO exists or it doesn’t. There’s no way to be sure unless something is discovered. Thus, these fields are rightly classified as pseudosciences.

“The only way to prove an unknown “monster” exists is to either capture one or find the carcass of a dead one. That doesn’t require the scientific method. It requires camping out in the area, hoping to catch a glimpse of some unknown creature.” ~ David Meyer, Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs vs. The Scientific Method?

That being said, when practiced in a scientific manner, pseudoscience fields can produce results. At it’s best, cryptozoology is a study of unknown animals, a mixture of zoology and folklore. Sitting in the woods waiting for an unknown animal to pop up is a poor way to do research. But hunting down old folklore and trying to ascertain its origin could result in a discovery.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how a monster/ghost/UFO expedition might work. We’ll attempt to employ the scientific method and see how one can do good work even in pseudoscience fields.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOS: Sciences or Pseudosciences?

 

Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs vs. Science: Part II?

Monsters, ghosts, and UFOS may or may not exist. But fields of study devoted to these topics have sprung up over the last few decades. How do pseudosciences like cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology stack up against the scientific method?

“Your Grave will be Under the Stars”
Illustration by W.T. Benda for “The Ghost at Point of Rocks” by Frank H. Spearman (August 1907)
Source: Scribner’s magazine, Volume 42, August 1907 (Digitized by Google on March 12, 2007)

Background

For the last few months, we’ve been following numerous “pseudoscience expeditions” that have received little coverage in the press (you can find our coverage of the Baltic Anomaly expeditions, TIGHAR’s Amelia Earhart expedition, and the Newmac Expedition at the bottom of this page). At the same time, we’re also considering mounting our own expedition.

As such, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct true “scientific investigations” in fields of study usually considered to be pseudosciences. Is it even possible? If so, how would one go about planning such an investigation?

This is a big topic so it will probably take us several articles to fully cover it. Yesterday, we presented the problem and established the importance of the scientific method in scientific research. Today, we’ll see how well fields such as cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology stack up against the scientific method.

“Science is about trying to prove that you’re wrong and then sort of grudgingly accepting that you haven’t been able to prove yourself wrong.” ~ Gary Taubes, Q&A with Gary Taubes

Cryptozoology, Ghost Hunting, & Ufology

Cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are devoted to the study of unknown animals (or cryptids), ghosts, and UFOs, respectively. Yesterday, we stated our opinion that few of the researchers in these fields utilize the scientific method. Instead, the vast majority focus their efforts on trying to support their theories, rather than attempting to refute them. However, a few (okay, many) bad apples doesn’t necessarily discredit these fields of study. Can cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology be practiced as protosciences as opposed to pseudosciences?

The scientific method requires one to observe phenomena, ask a question about it, and then form a hypothesis that answers the question. For example, one might hear reports of a strange ape-like creature roaming the Pacific Northwest. A researcher might legitimately inquire as to the nature of this creature. But what hypothesis should he or she form?

One potential hypothesis is: “The eyewitness reports were caused by sightings of a heretofore undiscovered animal.” But this is problematic because there’s no way to prove it false. Indeed, forming falsifiable, testable hypotheses is exceedingly difficult in these fields since we can’t be certain whether or not the monster/ghost/UFO actually exists.

Another potential hypothesis is: “The eyewitness reports were caused by sightings of a bear.” This is a falsifiable, somewhat testable hypothesis. This route might allow a researcher to cancel out alternative theories. However, it does nothing to strengthen the case for an unknown animal.

And therein lies the rub. The only way to prove an unknown “monster” exists is to either capture one or find the carcass of a dead one. On the other hand, there’s no way to disprove its existence. Therefore, even the most diligent cryptozoologist won’t be able to make full use of the scientific method. And without the scientific method, a field of study can never reach the level of protoscience, let alone mainstream science.

The Evidence Problem

There’s one more thing to consider. The scientific method requires one to gather evidence that can be tested and verified by other researchers. It would appear cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are sorely lacking in this regard.

As we see it, there are three types of scientific evidence. Physical evidence is something you can see or touch. Second-hand physical evidence includes things like photographs and footprint plasters. Anecdotal evidence is basically eyewitness accounts. Physical evidence for monsters, ghosts, and UFOs is practically nonexistent. Cryptozoologists have gathered some DNA samples for possible “cryptids.” However, since there’s no possible comparison, the best conclusion one can draw from such evidence is that it doesn’t match certain other creatures. There’s just no way to be certain whether or not it matches a cryptid. Again, the problem of falsification rears its ugly head.

Second-hand physical evidence for monsters, ghosts, and UFOS is fairly common. However, this evidence is difficult to test or trust. You might be able to eliminate certain possibilities. However, you can never eliminate the possibility of a hoax.

By far, anecdotal evidence is the most common form of evidence gathered by crytozoologists, ghost hunters, and ufologists. Unfortunately, eyewitness testimony has little value, regardless of the purveyor’s social standing. It cannot be tested nor is it falsifiable. Also, most people are untrained observers and thus, make for poor eyewitnesses. They forget details. Sometimes they add extra ones. They can easily mistake one creature for another. As a result, anecdotal evidence is notoriously poor in quality.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology appear to suffer from two major flaws. First, there’s no way to form falsifiable hypotheses that will shed light on the existence of monsters, ghosts, or UFOs. And second, the available evidence for these things is weak at best. Indeed, from a certain perspective, it would appear the aspiring researcher is better off avoiding the scientific method altogether and instead, doing everything possible to get his or her hands on actual physical evidence. Hence, the sorry state of research in these fields today.

Is there a way out of this mess? Perhaps. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the “paradigm shift” theory of Thomas Kuhn. Maybe the problems seemingly inherent to cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology aren’t their fault but rather, the fault of science itself.Or maybe not.

Stay tuned!

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOS: Sciences or Pseudosciences?

 

Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs: Protosciences…or Pseudosciences?

Monsters, ghosts, and UFOS may or may not exist. But fields of study devoted to these phenomena have sprung up over the last few decades. How should we classify cryptozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology? Are they protosciences (emerging areas of study)? Or are they pseudosciences?

“Hoding stood erect and whirled his axe up against the descending muzzle”
Illustration by E.L. Blumenschein for “Thyra: A Romance of the Polar Pit” by Robert Ames Bennet (1901)
Source: Project Gutenberg Australia

Background

For the last few months, we’ve been following numerous pseudoscientific expeditions that have received little coverage in the press (you can find our coverage of the Baltic Anomaly expeditions, TIGHAR’s Amelia Earhart expedition, and the Newmac Expedition at the bottom of this page). At the same time, we’re also considering mounting our own expedition.

As such, we’ve been trying to figure out how to conduct true “scientific investigations” in fields of study usually considered to be pseudosciences. Is it even possible? If so, how would one go about planning such an investigation?

This is a big topic so it will probably take us several articles to fully cover it. We’ll use this first article to present the problem and establish the importance of the scientific method in scientific research.

Superstitions to Science

There are five general ways people attempt to answer scientific questions. They range from superstitions to mainstream science.

  • Superstitions: Superstition is the linking of cause and effect using supernatural forces rather than natural science.
  • Pseudoscience: Pseudoscience refers to scientific-like ideas that fall short of actual science. Usually, research in these areas lacks evidence or the ability to duplicate experiments. As such, the scientific method is not properly employed.
  • Fringe Science: Fringe science employs the scientific method. However, it is highly speculative and its results are widely rejected within the general scientific community.
  • Protoscience: Protoscience also employs the scientific method. It refers to new areas of scientific investigation that have yet to be firmly established. Sometimes these areas fail to pan out and become pseudosciences or fringe sciences. Other times, such as with plate tectonics, they become widely accepted as mainstream sciences. Cryonics could be termed a current protoscience.
  • Mainstream Science: An established and respected field of scientific study.

The issue of what separates science from pseudoscience is known as the demarcation problem. This is actually a difficult problem and remains a point of contention among many researchers. Most scholars believe the scientific method must be utilized in true science. Karl Popper suggested that scientific statements must be falsifiable, or capable of being refuted by a physical experiment.

Arguably, falsification is required when making proper use of the scientific method. Thus, for our purposes, we’ll postulate that true science requires the ability to test hypotheses using the scientific method.

The Importance of the Scientific Method

The scientific method is a self-correcting body of techniques used to gain knowledge. While there isn’t an established procedure, there are several steps which are generally utilized by the scientific community. Here’s one possible iteration of these steps.

  1. Observe phenomena.
  2. Define a question about the phenomena.
  3. Form a testable hypothesis answering the question.
  4. Rigorously test the hypothesis in ways that can be repeated.
  5. Analyze the data.
  6. Either reject or don’t reject the hypothesis (note: not rejecting the hypothesis doesn’t mean accepting it). If hypothesis is rejected, form a new hypothesis and repeat steps 3-6.
  7. Publish results so others can peer-review the work.

Good science isn’t about proclaiming a hypothesis to be fact. Rather, it’s about doing everything you can to refute your own hypothesis. This requires creating unique and creative tests in order to rule out alternative theories. But even if these tests are done in a comprehensive fashion, an unassailed hypothesis still isn’t fact. It merely hasn’t been refuted yet. It might hold up under thousands of different tests. But all it takes is one test to send it to the dustbin of history.

“Science is about trying to prove that you’re wrong and then sort of grudgingly accepting that you haven’t been able to prove yourself wrong.” ~ Gary Taubes, Q&A with Gary Taubes

Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOs

Crytozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology are devoted to the study of unknown animals (or cryptids), ghosts, and UFOs, respectively. Practitioners tend to think of themselves as scientists. They’ve even adopted many scientific practices. They use scientific jargon and employ technical equipment in the field. Many researchers join organizations and publish research papers. To the casual observer, it all looks very scientific. Unfortunately, it’s often not even close.

Many researchers in these fields are hopelessly biased. A proper scientific investigation attempts to explain phenomena with hypotheses based on the most logical explanations. Then scientists attempt to refute those hypotheses. However, pseudoscientists often do the exact opposite. They establish pseudoscientific hypotheses and then marshal evidence to support their own hypotheses. Incidentally, we accused TIGHAR of doing this exact same thing recently while searching for Amelia Earhart’s lost Lockheed Electra.

The presence of poor researchers is unfortunate. However, it doesn’t necessarily discredit these fields of study. Can crytozoology, ghost hunting, and ufology be practiced as real protosciences as opposed to pseudosciences?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

Well, that’s it for today. In summary, we believe true science (protoscience and mainstream science) requires its practitioners to make rigorous use of the scientific method. Most cryptozoologists, ghost hunters, and ufologists appear to fail that test. But is that just due to the individuals themselves? Or are these fields of study doomed by their very nature? We’ll take a closer look at that issue tomorrow.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of Monsters, Ghosts, & UFOS: Sciences or Pseudosciences?

 

The Baltic Anomaly: The Fire and Ice Theory?

The strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. Recently, the Ocean X Team returned to the Anomaly in order a conduct a new investigation, spurring renewed rumors and speculations in the process. But what is it? Is it something artificial? Or is it a natural formation made from…fire and ice?

“Pillow lava rocks on the slope off Hawaii form when magma oozes from below.”
July 1988
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce & OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

The Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has gone on a second expedition, released a few photographs and some video, and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews conducted primarily with the Team’s UFO-centric Facebook community as well as websites devoted to UFOs. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

Outstanding Physical Mysteries?

Let’s get one thing straight…the Baltic Anomaly “evidence” available to the public is quite limited and of very poor quality. Most of the information is in the form of unsubstantiated testimony. Unfortunately, some of this testimony has changed over time (for example, the mysterious “egg shaped” hole is now referred to as a perfectly round hole). Other pieces of this testimony are highly speculative, such as reports of malfunctioning equipment and other odd phenomena. That being said, here are a few of the “physical mysteries” surrounding the Baltic Anomaly.

  • Strange Shapes: One end of the Circle has a rounded, circular shape. The top of the Circle contains numerous right angles and carved pathways which apparently resemble the shapes of “corridors,” “rooms,” and even a “staircase.
  • “The Hole: There is a hole on top of the Circle. In its initial statement, the Ocean X Team described it as “egg shaped.” More recently, Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, referred to it as “round.
  • The Fireplaces: The Team photographed several circular rock formations on top of the circle which resembled “small fireplaces.” The stones were covered with something that looked like soot. Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers, described them as being “like four or five pearl necklaces with stones, each a few decimeters in diameter.” For reference, a decimeter is equal to roughly four inches.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The Team collected two stones from the area. One of the stones was apparently indigenous to the region but normally found under the Earth’s crust. The other stone was common to the mid-Atlantic.
  • Odd Materials: The Circle’s exterior was initially described as resembling sandstone. Lately, it has been described as “granite.” When divers broke off a piece, they discovered the inside was black, like volcanic rock.
  • Volcanic Activity: No known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea. However, the Team spotted a 50-meter tall mountain that resembles a “black smoker” several miles from the Circle. The Ocean X Team also believes magma resides underneath the Circle and in the vicinity.

Fire & Ice

There are well over a dozen theories by now which attempt to explain the Baltic Anomaly. They range from the natural (pillow lava, rock formation) to the artificial (a shipwreck, an artifact of an ancient civilization, a forgotten Nazi sub trap, and even a sunken UFO).

We’ve gone on record stating our opinion that the Circle may have been formed by several extinguished “black smokers.” We’ve also pointed out how the last Ice Age could’ve formed the “small fireplaces.” However, we haven’t really taken the time to put these pieces together into one comprehensive theory. So, here it goes…we believe the Circle was formed by “fire and ice.”

We are currently in an ice age, known as the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation. It started 2.58 million years ago. During this period, ice sheets have advanced and retreated on a cyclical basis. To make a long story short, the area now encompassed by the Baltic Sea was heavily eroded during these cycles, eventually forming a deep basin.

While covered in ice, we believe a sort of subglacial submarine eruption took place in the area now encompassed by the Baltic Anomaly. This could’ve been accomplished via now-extinguished hydrothermal vents or via a normal submarine eruption.

Magma and/or dissolved minerals was expelled into the thick ice sheet. It was hot enough to melt out space underneath the ice. However, it wasn’t hot enough to melt a hole through it. Thus, a large subglacial mound formation known as pillow lava was created. The video below, from the movie “Pele Meets the Sea,” shows pillow lava flowing underwater off Hawaii’s coast. This particular lava erupted on land and flowed into the ocean. However, underwater pillow lava probably forms in a similar manner.

And that’s it. In other words, we think the Baltic Anomaly is most likely an ancient pillow lava formation, created by the interaction of fire and ice.

Back to the Outstanding Mysteries…

But how does the “fire and ice” theory hold up to some of the outstanding mysteries we listed above? Let’s take a look…

  • Strange Shapes: According to the Encyclopedia of Volcanoes, “the glassy surfaces of pillows are not smooth but have cracks, corrugations, and linear grooves, many of which intersect at right angles.” Also, lava pillows “are found in a wide variety of shapes including near-spherical bulbous pillows.”
  • The Hole: This could be the remains of an extinguished hydrothermal vent. Also, sometimes lava “pushes aside a portion of the outer pillow crust and drains out through the hole to form a spilled pool outside the broken pillow.”
  • The Fireplaces: The “fireplaces” might actually constitute moraines. In other words, as the ice sheets retreated from the pillow lava, small rocks slid down a cone of ice to form a circular shape on top of it.
  • Mysterious Stone Samples: The stone normally found under the Earth’s crust could’ve been driven to the surface by the submarine eruption. The other stone could’ve arrived in the area via any number of normal means.
  • Odd Materials: The chipped, granite-like surface of the Circle is consistent with what one would expect to find at a pillow lava formation. Also, the black interior could be explained by a heavy presence of sulfide. Incidentally, sulfide would also explain the substance “resembling soot” which covered the rocks dotting the exterior.
  • Volcanic Activity: The 50-meter tall mountain resembling a “black smoker” indicates the presence of volcanic activity in the region. Also, although no known volcanoes exist in the Baltic Sea, geothermal heat is actually fairly common. Regardless, if the “fire and ice” theory is correct, the volcano or black smoker would’ve existed thousands of years ago when ice lasted covered the Baltic Sea.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

So, there you have it. Unfortunately, the lack of concrete information makes it difficult to provide much in the way of extensive analysis. However, the “fire and ice” theory appears to explain most of the outstanding physical mysteries surrounding the Circle.

The Ocean X Team is currently on-site, investigating the Anomaly. They are expected to return in late July.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

 

The Baltic Anomaly: The Original Ocean X Team?

The ultra-strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world for over a year. It was discovered by a group of treasure hunters calling themselves the Ocean X Team. But where did the Team come from? And how did they first achieve fame in the treasure hunting world?

German submarines in a harbor (1914 to 1915)
Front row (left to right): U-22, U-20 (sank the Lusitania), U-19 and U-21
Back row (left to right): U-14, U-10 and U-12
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has released a few photographs and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics, including us, have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts.

In our view, the Anomaly has intriguing profit potential. The Team has a documentary deal with Titan television. They’ve gained valuable equipment and funds via sponsorships with Ocean Modules, SeaLabs, and Silvercrest Submarines (this equipment has also been used to search for other wrecks). In addition, they’ve indicated a desire to use a new submarine to take wealthy tourists to view the Baltic Anomaly close-up.

The Ocean X Team has vigorously defended itself from charges of a hoax. They claim to be ordinary treasure hunters who happened to stumble upon a strange mystery. They have assured the world that they want answers just as badly as everyone else.

The Champagne Wreck

In 1916, the Swedish schooner Jönköping sailed out of Gävle, on route to Finland. In her cargo holds, the Jönköping carried “4400 bottles of 1907 Heidesieck Champagne ‘Goût Americain’, 67 large barrels of Cognac and 17 regular barrels of wine.”

At the time, Europe was broiled in World War I. Thus, the Jönköping’s alcohol was meant for Russian officers. However, the schooner was stopped by SM U-22, a German submarine. Since the Jönköping also carried some railroad-related “war materials,” the submarine’s officers chose to sink it.

In 1994, Claes Bergvall and Peter Lindberg discovered information about the wreck in local court archives. Three years later, they discovered it under 210 feet of water using side-scan sonar. Apparently, the hull was in excellent shape. Claes and Peter formed a company named C-Star and proceeded to acquire the rights to the cargo.

C-Star divers started to salvage the champagne bottles. Remarkably, the corks had stayed in place and the icy conditions of the Baltic Sea had kept the alcohol well-preserved.

“French experts who tasted some of the champagne recovered earlier have rated it exceptional and ideally preserved by the cold, dark Baltic.” ~ John Acher, Yo-Ho-Ho, Sea Salvagers find Champagne, Cognac

At the same time, C-Star announced their ambitious places for the ship. They wanted to raise it to the surface, salvage the rest of the alcohol, and turn it into a floating museum of sorts. However, bad weather thwarted their efforts.

In 1998, disaster struck. A Finnish businessman named Peter Fryckman took out a ship, hired some divers, and began salvaging the bottles for himself. Although he had no salvage rights to the ship, Fryckman claimed some of the bottles rightfully belonged to his great-grandfather, and thus to him.

He was unable to prove his claim however, and on July 3, 1998, Fryckman’s team was forced to abandon the site. Claes and Peter proceeded to poach Fryckman’s divers in exchange for 25% of the haul. In turn, Fryckman began auctioning off his illegally-obtained bottles.

On July 24, C-Star successfully lifted the Jönköping off the bottom. The cargo was removed from the wreck. However, the ship was determined to be unsuitable for a museum ship. Thus, it was dumped back into the Baltic Sea.

Apparently, the barrels of cognac were unrecoverable. We’re not sure about the wine. However, a Christie’s auction in October 1998 hints that the 2,000 champagne bottles might’ve been worth around $8 million dollars at that time. For those of you who are interested, Peter Lindberg wrote a book about the project in 2003.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We don’t know whether or not Dennis Åsberg, the other co-founder of the Ocean X Team, was part of C-Star in 1997. His name is not listed in any of the articles we’ve read. Still, C-Star can easily be viewed as a sort of predecessor to the Ocean X Team.

When they first “saw” the Baltic Anomaly, Peter and Dennis were searching for a shipwreck similar to the Jönköping. According to various media reports, this wreck contained cases of an extremely rare brand of champagne. We suspect it was the Louis Roederer Crystal, referred to by the Ocean X Team as the Tzar’s champagne.

C-Star shares some similarities with the current Ocean X Team. First, they were big dreamers. Raising a ship off the bottom of the seafloor was fairly audacious. Wanting to create a floating museum out of it was even more audacious. It brings to mind the Ocean X Team’s massive publicity campaign and lucrative tourist-centered plans for the Baltic Anomaly.

Second, C-Star overcame large odds to achieve success. They fended off a rival treasure hunter and managed to recover a valuable cargo. And although we’ve been critical of the Ocean X Team, the fact remains that they’ve conducted an initial investigation, complete with some photos, of the Anomaly. Incidentally, Peter Lindberg revealed last night during a chat with the Team’s Facebook group that initial analysis of samples taken from around the site (but not from the Anomaly itself) have been completed. One rock is apparently common to the Baltic region but is normally found under the Earth’s crust (which might give some credence to our black smoker theory). Another rock is supposedly typical to the mid-Atlantic seafloor.

Will the Ocean X Team ever solve the mystery behind the Baltic Anomaly? In all honesty, we remain skeptical. However, the Team is planning another expedition for July 10. They hope to recover rock samples from the Anomaly as well as possibly investigate a second site (the so-called Window). Hopefully, we’ll know more at that point.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

The Baltic Anomaly: What is the Secret Wreck?

For over a year, the strange Baltic Anomaly has baffled the world. A recent expedition turned up more questions than answers. Now, word has leaked of a second, secret salvage project. Just what is going on here?

“Shipwreck”
Drawn by Harry Chase sometime between 1870 and 1889
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

On June 19, 2011, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a massive object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, jokingly declared “Hey guys, we have a UFO!” However, after a new expedition, the Team discovered the Anomaly primarily consisted of large rocks. The exact nature of those rocks, which we call the Circle, as well as a 985 foot runway leading up to them (the Tracks), remain mysteries.

Since that time, the Ocean X Team has released a few photographs and provided lots of mysterious information via interviews. However, very little concrete data has emerged. Skeptics such as us have questioned whether or not the Baltic Anomaly is a “hoax” of sorts. True believers, along with the Ocean X Team, have retaliated by attacking the credibility of the skeptics.

Is the Ocean X Team working on a Second Project?

On June 1, the Ocean X Team set sail for the Baltic Anomaly. At the time, we were under the impression that the sole purpose of the expedition was to investigate the Anomaly.

Peter Lindberg, co-founder of the Ocean X Team, recently sat down for an interview with Linda Moulton Howe at Earthfiles. At one point, he discussed how the Team’s Blueview sonar equipment stopped functioning while located above the Anomaly. He then mentioned that the equipment worked a few days later while at “another undersea wreck project.”

Wait…hold on a second there. Another undersea wreck project?

The Ocean X Team spent somewhere between 10 to 14 days in two separate trips supposedly investigating the Baltic Anomaly. We always thought that seemed like a rather long time for a diving expedition. After all, they already knew its location. So, we’re curious…how long did the Team actually spend at the Anomaly? What is this other “wreck?” And how much time did they spend searching for it?

We should note that when the Team first discovered the Anomaly, they were searching for three shipwrecks sunk by German U-boats during World War I. These wrecks were believed to contain valuable caches of champagne, spirits, and cognac. At the very least, it would appear the publicity surrounding the Baltic Anomaly served a dual purpose, providing funds and new equipment via sponsorships for the Team to continue its search for these wrecks.

Other New Developments?

Here are some other thoughts about the Earthfiles interview.

  • Radiation: The Ocean X Team reported that radiation in the vicinity of the Anomaly was 20x normal levels. Not dangerous, but still quite curious.
  • Circular-Shaped: Lindberg continues to describe the Anomaly as a “circular-shaped object.” Many true believers even trumpet its shape as a “perfect circle” and use that as a way of claiming the Anomaly is of artificial origin. However, the original side-scan sonar image, as well as the drawing above, paint a different picture. Hopefully, the next expedition will bring in a new side-scan sonar image of the entire Circle. Speaking of which…
  • The Next Expedition: The Ocean X Team will begin another expedition to the Baltic Anomaly on July 20. They hope to produce a new 3D image of the Circle as well as investigate another feature at the site, the so-called “Window.” It seems possible they’ll also take time to work on this mysterious second project.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We continue to be wary of the Ocean X Team. They’ve provided very little evidence that can be analyzed and verified by outside parties. Their statements are remarkably sensational. At times, this whole exercise appears to be more of a giant marketing project than a scientific expedition, aimed directly at the legions of UFO enthusiasts.

For example, Dennis Åsberg, co-founder of the Team, called attention to military exercises in the region just prior to this most recent expedition.

“Right now there is a military exercise in the area where both Russians and Americans are involved. I can not help but wonder why it is happening right now.” ~ Dennis Åsberg, Translated from Aftonbladet, May 31, 2012

As we mentioned previously, those military exercises were real, but hardly unexpected. They’re called BALTOPS and take place every year in the Baltic Sea. To pass them off as anything else raises a red flag for us. Then, on June 10, Dennis posted an update on the Anomaly.

“Everything is top secret now … because of the risks … hope you all understand this is no game. But the truth will be reported shortly.” ~ Dennis Åsberg, Ocean X Team, June 10, 2012

Top secret? Risks? What risks? Unfortunately, Dennis has yet to clarify that remark. As we noted the other day, Dennis is a former actor. So, it’s not surprising to us that he appears to be over-sensationalizing the Baltic Anomaly.

In our view, the Baltic Anomaly is most valuable as an unsolved mystery. Indeed, after the Team first revealed the Anomaly consisted of rocks, we noticed a distinct drop in interest in the subject. Interest surged again, however, after the Team started hinting at an artificial origin by talking about equipment failures and 90-degree carvings.

Unanswered questions will help fuel interest in the Team’s documentary with Titan Television. They will also enable the Team to use its new submarine to take wealthy tourists to view the Baltic Anomaly close-up. And finally, the unanswered questions have allowed the Team to form valuable partnerships with Ocean Modules, SeaLabs, and Silvercrest Submarines, giving it access to state-of-the-art shipwreck-hunting equipment. As such, we expect the Ocean X Team to do everything in its power to keep the Baltic Anomaly exactly what it is today…an unsolved mystery.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

Did Aliens Land at Roswell?

On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Daily Record carried the headline, “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” This information was later retracted. However, a well-known CIA Agent recently made news when he declared a UFO really did crash at Roswell. So, what really happened with the Roswell UFO?

Roswell UFO Memo (July 8, 1947)
Source: FBI Records: The Vault

Background on the Roswell UFO

In mid-1947, a foreman named William Ware Brazel discovered some strange debris while working at the J.B. Foster ranch. On July 4, he returned to gather up some of the materials with his family.

“Brazel related that on June 14 he and an 8-year old son, Vernon, were about 7 or 8 miles from the ranch house of the J. B. Foster ranch, which he operates, when they came upon a large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.” ~ Harassed Rancher Who Located ‘Saucer’ Sorry He Told About It, Roswell Daily Record, July 9, 1947 (Afternoon)

Supposedly, Brazel first heard stories about “flying discs” the next day. Wondering if his wreckage belonged to such an aircraft, he proceeded to tell Sheriff Wilcox about it on July 6 or 7. Wilcox contacted Roswell Army Air Field and Major Jesse Marcel and a second man met with Brazel to examine the debris. On July 8, the Roswell Army Air field issued a rather remarkable press release. To this day, no copies of it exist and no one’s quite sure who wrote it. In fact, many scholars think it was never actually written down and was only provided as a vocal statement.

“The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.” ~ Roswell Army Air Field Press Release, July 8, 1947

However, after further examination, Warrant Officer Irving Newton stated the Roswell UFO was nothing more than the wreckage of a weather balloon coupled with a radar reflector. The story was subsequently forgotten until 1978 when Major Marcel discussed the incident in an interview with Stanton T. Friedman. Interest in the case surged and suspicion of a government cover-up began to grow.

What’s New?

On June 23, Chase Brandon, a 35-year veteran of the CIA’s elite Clandestine Service unit, gave an interview on Coast to Coast AM. His remarks have added to the suspicions UFO enthusiasts hold toward the U.S. government. Here’s a taste:

“I absolutely know… that there was a craft from beyond this world that crashed at Roswell, that the military picked up remains of not just the wreckage but cadavers and all of that was made public for a short while…” ~ Chase Brandon, Coast to Coast (June 23, 2012)

“One hundred per cent guarantee, in my heart and soul I say – Roswell happened. There was a craft… absolutely cadavers.” ~ Chase Brandon, Coast to Coast (June 23, 2012)

Brandon went further, claiming he once visited the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection and located several boxes of information related to the Roswell UFO.

“I went into the side room and looked at all those boxes… I only had a chance to look at one – I pulled the one down that said ‘Roswell’ and I looked inside… there were materials, there were papers, there were other items…” ~ Chase Brandon, Coast to Coast (June 23, 2012)

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Chase Brandon was a real CIA agent and now works as a technical consultant for films and TV shows. His skills were utilized for The Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible. So, his background checks out. Still, we find his story about the Roswell UFO a bit fishy.

For the last few decades, hundreds of individuals have come forward, claiming to have seen evidence of a UFO or aliens at Roswell. However, none of them have produced a shred of physical evidence to that effect. So, the idea that a box of UFO-related information was stored at what essentially amounts to the CIA museum strikes us as a bit unlikely. And the idea that Brandon was able to access it so easily seems even more unlikely. And of course, this box has seemingly vanished over the years which only adds to our suspicions.

Also, Chase Brandon has financial stakes here. He is currently marketing his first novel. It’s a story about…you guessed it…the Roswell UFO. It’s called The Cryptos Conundrum and Brandon appears to be selling it as being based on real events. The first quote in his novel, one from Francis Bacon, alludes to this fact.

“Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.” ~ Francis Bacon

All in all, this looks more like a marketing ploy than anything else. The Roswell UFO may or may not have have been a flying disc. But in our opinion, Brandon’s interview does little to sway the debate.