What follows are my personal reactions about various Fortean subjects. If the choice of words somehow causes offense, please understand that I try to attack ideas - not individuals. My views are sorted alphabetically (more or less) and colour-coded as below:
Black = Proven phenomena. My opinion, anyhow. As to the details, that may still be a matter for discussion.
Green = Still in question. Lots to discuss.
Yellow = These subjects are largely disproven and/or discredited. But, a sensible discussion is still achievable.
Red = I have viewed the "evidence", and found it to be Total B******t. After attempting to talk it out with 'True Believers' (and getting nothing but aggravation), I no longer discuss these subjects.
The Apollo Hoax : My own conclusion is that the Apollo moon landings were NOT hoaxed. All of the hoaxers' "evidence" can be fully explained by common sense and the facts. The general public "may" not have been told the full story (specifically, rumoured sightings of UFOs and/or anomalous landforms), but that's another story entirely.
See the 'Badastronomy' site on my Links page for a balanced look at the subject (OK, the creator thinks it is idiocy too, but he has a variety of links from both sides of the equation).
UPDATE: There has been mention of Dr "Buzz" Aldrin (Apollo 11's Lunar Module pilot - the second man to walk on the Moon) having struck somebody. Reason being that this person (I will not provide a name) was offensive, insulting, and demanded that Dr Aldrin swear on the Bible that he was not lying (about going to the moon).
So, at some point, "Buzz" lost his temper and hit this loser. I do not advocate violence, but I also hope that he DECKED him.
To the person who got hit, I suggest (at the very least) growing a brain and learning a few social skills. This could be important if you intend to buttonhole all of the Apollo astronauts, plus most of NASA and the US aerospace industry - and demand that they all swear on the Bible as well (just how effective will this interview technique be, I wonder, on atheists and non-Christians?).
I might also suggest that any social skills you acquire be practiced first on real people (and, no, the voices in your head are not technically real people).
The Bermuda Triangle : Sea mysteries are of special interest to me and, despite it all, events like Flight 19 continue to fascinate. However, very weird stuff happens on or in our oceans, and not all of it is in (or "near") the Triangle. I'll go out on a limb, and say that the Bermuda Triangle (as well as the "Devil's Sea", the "Bass Strait Triangle", AND the "Great Lakes Triangle") are not necessarily any more mysterious or dangerous than any other large body of water. Think about it.
The Bible Code : Drosnin's "discovery" looks very impressive. Take the Old Testament (or the Torah) in the original Hebrew, then convert it into a matrix and look for the hidden messages that "predict" the future. I fell for this one. I admit it. But it was never an epiphany for me, more of a "How the #### did they do that?!?"
Since then, I have found out.
First, written Hebrew has no vowels. None whatsoever. In order for the various matrices to work, vowels are inserted wherever they seem to make sense. That helps a lot.
Secondly, critics of 'The Bible Code' were challenged by Drosnin to produce similar results with, say, "Moby Dick". Since then, at least one website has very successfully done so WITHOUT the vowel-insertion option ( http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html ). In effect, this game can be played with any large amount of text - whether the Bible, the manual for your PC, a movie script, or the collected speeches of a randomly selected politician.
Finally, it seems that the only things run through the Bible Code's matrices so far have been historical references. Chance correlations surely would also exist for TV shows, books, and so forth. For instance, I am confident that references to 'Kirk', 'Spock', 'UFP', and 'Starship' could be found - but it would not mean that the Bible Code somehow predicted 'Star Trek'.
Conspiracy Theories : Several individual conspiracy theories are covered under different headings on this site. I'd just like to say something about the entire conspiracy industry as a whole. Seems like people can point to any event / crime / tragedy / mystery / etc. and screech "CONSPIRACY", and that's the end of it as far as they are concerned.
Now, I accept that there may be a great deal going on in the world (and, possibly, beyond) that most of us simply do not have a clue about (even those of us who may THINK we know!). Doesn't mean we have to like it. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to find out The Truth. But, all too often, I see conspiracists rip to shreds a 'mundane' explanation for something, with the only counter- theory mustered being "Um, er. Maybe he said perhaps they said possibly she said...". If data is presented that does not coincide with their viewpoint, the most common reaction is to ignore it and keep on reiterating utter rubbish, as if repetition can somehow make up for what their dogma otherwise lacks. No research, not even much in the way of common sense, and exactly the same behaviour that "mainstream" scientists and researchers are often accused of.
If you haven't already done so, take a look at the bottom of this page, at what is said about Charles Fort. He had the right idea about investigating "fringe" subjects. Whatever your mindset to begin with, you try to go wherever the evidence takes you. Apply the same standards of research and verification to ALL of the possibilities. Trashing an explanation merely because it is mundane and/or "official", then mindlessly turning gossip into gospel instead is not an act of rationality.
It is the act of an idiot.
AFTERTHOUGHT: Some conspiracists advocate wearing aluminium-lined headwear to protect against certain forms of thought-control - either telepathic or microwave-based. Just started wondering, what if this is also part of "The Conspiracy"?.
Think about it. Everybody knows what happens when aluminium foil is put in a microwave oven. So what's going to happen to somebody in a alum-foil hat / garment if they get zapped by heavy-duty microwaves? As I see it, the whole thing could be a ploy by the Secret Masters / Lizard Men / Aliens / Illuminati / NWO / Masons / whatever. At some point, "they" will start bombarding areas with microwaves, and anybody wearing this so-called "protection" will be the most obviously affected. A very effective means of weeding out potential troublemakers, I believe.
"...Skepticism in all things, including skepticism..."
Cryptozoology : There have been enough Thylacine sightings here in Australia to bring its 'extinct' status into question. Wonderful if true, but I may be prone to wishful thinking here. Despite appearances, the Thylacine (aka 'Tasmanian Tiger' or 'Marsupial Wolf') is / was NOT related to Canis (dogs & wolves), and this is reflected in many of these reports - something that vaguely resembles a dog, but moves and behaves in a consistently different fashion.
The Bigfoot / Sasquatch / Yeti / Yowie may be something truly paranormal. For starters, there seems to be barely a wilderness region on this planet that does not have reported sightings of "ape-men". Unless one assumes that there are a lot of feral mutant hippies out there, this is hard to explain. There is also the very strong emotional component of many sightings - experienced woodsmen literally paralyzed upon just glimpsing these creatures, and dogs that routinely hunt large dangerous game suddenly reduced to utter terror.
The lack of bodies is also something to ponder. True, in the wild there are usually enough scavengers around to make short work of any carcass. But there have been enough reports of people shooting at Bigfoots (and seeing them flinch and/or fall down) or almost turning them into roadkill to raise the question of why no verifiable remains have ever turned up. Especially considering the tendency of some so-called "sportsmen" to machine-gun anything that moves.
It has been suggested that many cryptozoological beasties originate extra-dimensionally. The idea may not be all that crazy, considering some of the really weird sightings.
Frozen Mammoths : The allegedly large number of frozen mammoth carcasses found in Russia is often cited as proof of various 'doomsday theories' about climatic change. These beasts were allegedly "perfectly preserved" - implying a massive disaster that literally snap-froze them in their tracks.
However, the palaeontological / archaeological definition of "perfectly preserved" is that the object in question is clearly identifiable without careful analysis - NOT that it looks capable of walking away unassisted. The mental picture that most of us have of a perfectly recognizable mammoth imbedded in a block of ice is wrong. In truth, these carcasses were in various states of disrepair when they were frozen enough to limit (further) decay, then finally buried (by sediment from floods, landslides, glaciers, etc.).
Going by any of the 'Climatic Doomsday Theories', it seems very odd to me that only this particular species was preserved thus (OK, there could be others, but mammoths are all we ever seem to hear about!). As far as I am aware, a huge range of sizable animals lived in this era. If significant numbers of Mammoths were snap-frozen all at once, one would expect even larger numbers of other lifeforms to be found in a similar state. To the best of my knowledge, this has not been the case.
So, what happened? My guess starts with the fact that Mammoths were related to modern-day elephants. Like them, mammoths would (presumably) have had to constantly stay on the move as they depleted their food supplies. Elephant herds can wreck A LOT of vegetation in just one week. It seems reasonable to me that mammoths would have had similar effects on their environment.
Given their adaptations to cold climates, I am also guessing that mammoths habitually transited areas colder than many other creatures could tolerate, in their ongoing search for nutrition. Some mammoths would die in these regions from disease, misadventure, starvation, old age and so forth. Sometimes, their carcasses would freeze solid, and get buried by sediment from glaciation and/or thaws, before scavengers could get more than a look in. As I see it, these carcasses could have accumulated over several centuries or millennia, NOT all at once in some sub-zero apocalypse.
Weather and climate can change suddenly and even catastrophically, there is no doubt of that. But I do not consider Frozen Mammoths to be definitive proof of this.
UPDATE: It is currently theorized that many Frozen Mammoths were victims of a major epidemic that attacked only their species.
Global Warming : Don't get me wrong. Humanity has done a lot to mess up our planet, and I am 100% in favour of putting things right (or, at least, preventing things from getting worse). But prevalent views on GW lean towards a politically correct, "anti-technology", "evil capitalist" mindset. I also note that scientists expressing doubt about GW are never answered logically. Instead, the usual response is for certain groups (they know who they are) to viciously denounce these individuals as blind stooges of Big Business.
That bothers me.
Maybe GW is happening, but consider the following:
Despite what "experts" tell us, weather / climate prediction remains very imprecise. If you don't believe this, then consider how generalized most weather reports and predictions are, and just how reliable they get beyond 48 hours. The only real advantages we have over Columbus are satellite imagery (to observe weather patterns and ocean currents on a large scale), about a century's worth of observational data (for extrapolation), telecommunications (to pass data around), and loads of theory (to pretend we understand what is going on).
Detailed meteorological records go back maybe 150 years at best. This may seem like a respectable time, but major climatic changes can take anywhere between 100 and 10,000 (!) years to become obvious. All the data older than 150 years is either anecdotal (written references to "The Great Drought Of....") or dependant upon analysis / interpretation of indirect effects like tree rings, ice samples, geology, etc..
Reportedly, glaciers are shrinking and the North Pole may now be open water. On the other hand, winters in the Northern Hemisphere seem to be getting more severe, and most of north-west Europe avoids freezing over only because of the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf Stream. Also, recent indications are that snowfalls in some parts of Antarctica are actually increasing. Personal observation here in Sydney - scorching hot summers until around the mid 90s, and they have remained distinctly mild ever since. Sydney winters, on the other hand, seem to be increasing in length. The Weather Bureau maintains that the statistical average has remained the same (OR been creeping up - depending who you ask), but statistics are whatever you make of them. Instead of temperatures going up worldwide, perhaps they are redistributing - cooler in some spots and warmer in others.
Note that there have been times when CO2 levels were far higher than the worst "greenhouse effect" nightmares of today. Yet, the overall climate and sea level was similar, and a great many lifeforms somehow managed to thrive.
CO2 levels have fluctuated enormously throughout the history of oxygen-based life on this planet. No evidence as to why, but there seems to be little direct correlation with temperatures and climate, no connection with the apparent 'Mass Extinctions', and it clearly does not rely on Homo Sapiens to happen. The variability of our sun is undoubtedly a factor; as is the effects of volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes, and other wholly natural disasters.
"End Of The World" / "End Of Western Civilization" theories have been around for quite a while. Currently, we are preoccupied with diminishing resources and (further) damage to the environment. Certainly of huge importance, don't get me wrong. However, in the 1980s, everybody was worrying about nuclear war. In the 1970s, everybody "knew" that the world's petroleum reserves would run out by the year 2000. In the 1960s, it was the 'Domino Effect' of Communism (really just a revamping of that old stand-by, "The Yellow Peril"). In the 1950s, everybody "knew" that the Communists were busily infiltrating and undermining Western institutions in preparation for the inevitable takeover. And so on. You get the idea.
Just for the record, I am an optimist. Whatever happens, mankind will muddle through - but history has proven that panic can be as harmful as the perceived threat.
Intelligent Design : It seems to me that this is just Creationism with the addition of political correctness and a pretty new label - with the usual Biblical misquotes carefully hidden away in the footnotes.
The favoured argument of proponents of this idiocy seems to follow the line: "Darwin was wrong. Therefore, evolution is wrong. Therefore, the Bible is right. Therefore, WE are right."
I don't see it that way at all. Consider the history of Astronomy. Copernicus. Galileo. Newton. Lowell. And a slew of others. For the most part, their theories and discoveries were added to the overall picture. Sometimes, what was added to said picture would later be disproven or radically changed by somebody else. Sometimes. It is a similar case with evolution. Darwin came up with what was, for the time, a radical scientific idea that stood up very well to analysis and criticism. Just as Copernicus and Co. did for Astronomy. That their work may have later been supplanted by the discoveries of others does not negate their achievments or disprove everything ever learned in Astronomy.
If any of Darwin's conclusions have been brought into question, then this does not render the entire concept of evolution invalid. It just means that there are aspects of it that need more work. Nothing more. There is ample evidence to indicate that, at the very least, Charles was on the right track.
Finally, if anybody truly believes that the anatomy of Homo Saliens is proof of 'intelligent design', I politely suggest they reconsider. To express it more directly, WHAT IN BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?!? As one example, "our" upright gait conveniently freed the forelimbs for tool-making, fine manipulation and the thumping of religious texts; but it also left us extra-vulnerable to a host of problems - hernias, respiratory infections, back / spinal problems, ankle injuries - that other comparable (and far less upright) lifeforms distinctly lack. There are other disadvantages in our "design" as well - all stemming from the fact that evolution is not big on pre-planning. A problem arises and an expedient, quick-and-dirty solution is eventually arrived at via natural selection. Not much intelligence involved in this process at all.
ADDENDUM: No, I am not an atheist - not by my personal understanding of the term, anyhow. There are many teachings within the Bible that I respect. However, using this book (or any other!) as a substitute for thinking is (IMO) a major cause of the world's problems.
JFK's Assassination : I consider one definitive work about this tragedy to be 'Mortal Error - The Shot That Killed JFK' by Bonar Menninger. The investigator did not bog down in rumours about loopy CIA schemes, Marilyn Monroe - Mafia links, US-Cuban relations, anomalous sound recordings, or whatever. He stuck with his area of expertise, and simply did the ballistics. To start, an excellent case is made for Oswald being able to fire off three shots in the alleged timeframe.
The notorious 'Magic Bullet" Controversy is also buried once and for all. Texas Governor Connelly's own testimony was ignored and buried by both the Warren Commission and its critics, but he supposedly stood by it for the rest of his life. In brief, he heard at least one shot and JFK yell out, twisted around in his seat to look behind him, and THAT was when he was hit. Also, photos of the Presidential limo's interior show that Connelly's seat was NOT directly in front of the President, but lower and somewhat to the side. Given this clarified situation, the angle from LHO's perch in the Depository, the pronounced slope of the street and that he was using a "big game" rifle (large calibre, lots of stopping power); the bullet that went through both men no longer is so magical. Despite what many conspiracists claim to this day, that bullet was not "pristine" as at least one photo seems to indicate. Instead, it had been heavily damaged by its passage.
The real twist regards the final shot, the one captured so graphically on the Zapruder film. ME's conclusion is that this was caused by the accidental discharge of an AR-15 rifle carried by a Secret Service man in the car behind. That JFK spasmed towards the impact rather than away is not so strange. The bullet inflicted massive brain damage, more than likely inducing a major seizure in the victim (the term for such seizures is 'grand mal', I believe). The alleged 'cover-up' was to protect the good names of JFK and the US Secret Service (such as they were), and the life of a decent man who had made just one horrific mistake.
Beyond 'ME', there are a few other aspects to think about.
To say that the eyewitness accounts are confused is an understatement. An indeterminate number of shots were heard, mysterious people seen in strange places, and so forth. Conspiracists have gotten a great deal of mileage out of these discrepancies, most of it arguably undeserved. Consider Dealey Plaza, which was, and remains, an open area largely surrounded by tall buildings. Having been in roughly similar areas during fireworks displays or when firearms have been discharged, I can say that such sounds don't merely echo, they re-echo and re-re-echo. Even one's location within such an area can sometimes be a factor, with "dead" zones and the exact opposite within a very short distance.
Consider too, the enormous shock and confusion that predominated immediately after the shooting. Under such circumstances, I would not be surprised if there had been reported sightings of Hitler in the Book Depository, and Lenin in the Grassy Knoll. Also, many "facts" coming out at the time originated with various media sources, all of which were shocked and acting in great haste. Face it, even under ideal circumstances, the media doesn't always get details right - then and now.
Moving along, Lee Harvey Oswald was an interesting guy who had real trouble making up his mind. He defected to the Soviet Union, then he came back. He quit the US Marines, then he wanted back in. He was trained to shoot Communists (in the Marines), attempted to shoot a Fascist (Edwin Walker), then ended up shooting a Democrat. Go figure.
Perhaps LHO was involved in weird CIA stuff, and perhaps he wasn't. It does not automatically follow that the CIA and/or the US Marines got him to kill their Commander-In-Chief. One could also blame his potty training, or whatever he had for breakfast that morning. Connection is not always the same as collusion, something that hard-core conspiracists seem to have real trouble understanding. Actually, given how active the CIA supposedly was in the '60s, I have to wonder what percentage of the 1963 population of Dallas WEREN'T somehow connected to The Agency!
ADDENDUM 1: An interesting theory was mentioned in 'Fortean Times' magazine a few years ago. What if Oswald's shooting of JFK was accidental? Sounds bizarre, but LHO had declared himself to be 'at war with fascism', and had previously attempted to kill Edwin Walker (an ultra-right former US Army General, also inspiration for the excellent movie 'Seven Days In May'). Supposedly, Connelly was right wing (well, he was Governor of Texas ... ) and a former Secretary of the US Navy, who had refused to intercede on LHO's behalf in his attempts to rejoin the Marines. This even ties in with Oswald's claim about being "made the patsy" for JFK's murder. Maybe, as far as LHO was concerned, being jailed for the latter was unfair because he was "only" trying to kill Connelly.
ADDENDUM 2: At least one conspiracy theory about the JFK assassination has the so-called "US Military-Industrial Complex" playing a prominent role. This idea was popularized in the Oliver Stone movie 'JFK'. The movie was based on a book written by one Jim Garrison, a New Orleans district attorney, who was utterly convinced that a local businessman was directly involved.
Author Tom Clancy has a very different take on the matter. 'The Tom Clancy Companion' contains an essay of his on the matter of JFK (the assassination), 'JFK' (the movie) and Oliver Stone. Titled 'Before Anyone Gets Carried Away', it raises valid points - albeit mingled with a lot of venom directed at Oliver Stone (whom Tom Clancy seems to really really dislike).
In between potshots at Stone, BAGCA makes an excellent case for the Kennedy administration being the best friend the so-called "US military-industrial complex" ever had, then or since. Thirty-one 'Lafayette' class nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) authorized and/or built during JFK's term. One THOUSAND 'Minuteman' ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Tanks. Guns. Aircraft. USS Enterprise - first of the nuclear-powered "supercarriers".
Project Apollo. Serious money went to companies with names like Boeing, Grumman, Lockheed and General Dynamics. Bite the hand that feeds? Kill the goose laying the golden eggs? To borrow a famous quote - "Highly illogical".
Another point made by BAGCA regards the US security / intelligence apparatus of the time. To "cover up" the JFK hit would have called for an incredible degree of cooperation between the US Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA and local police. Say 'incredible' because of the rivalry between these agencies at all other times - bitter squabbles over jurisdiction, funding and so forth. So, naturally, they would all collude on an act of outright treason.
Finally, the human element. All of those supposedly involved have kept absolutely quiet ever since. No conspirator has subsequently gotten into trouble and sought to plea-bargain their way out. No conspirator has recorded what they knew, and hidden it someplace to be revealed in the event of their death / disappearance. No conspirator has blabbed about what happened to the wrong people or in the wrong place. No conspirator has felt a need to get even, or rich, or put their own conscience at rest.
Considering all the stuff that the US government (and agencies thereof) has been unable to keep secret since then, it seems very unlikely.
Lost Civilizations : I cannot do this subject any justice here. Suffice to say that I think our ancient ancestors were far smarter, and civilization much older and wide-spread, than we generally give credit for. Tie in the curious universality of certain legends all over the world (The Flood, Prometheus, Dragons / Serpents, Paradises Lost, etc) and it gets even more complex.
Highly Recommended Reading:
'Fingerprints Of The Gods' & 'Underworld' - Graham Hancock.
'Catastrophe' - David Keys.
'Eden In The East' - Stephen Oppenheimer.
'Unearthing Atlantis' - Charles Pellegrino.
'Act Of God' - Graham Phillips.
'Lost Civilisation Of The Stone Age' - Richard Rudgley.
'The Atlantis Blueprint' - Rand Flem-Ath & Colin Wilson.
Martian Anomalies (The Face) : It is more than conceivable that the oddities on Mars (in the Cydonia region and elsewhere) are natural landforms and/or illusions combined with wishful thinking. But closer objective examination is needed. Given the pigheadedness displayed (on BOTH sides of the debate!), it will take at least a couple of manned expeditions to resolve this mess.
Ironically, the biggest source of uncertainty seems to be NASA itself. Rather than deal with the subject openly and responsibly, the agency seems to have opted for a policy of evasion, blatant distortion, character assassination, and amazingly selective incompetence. Going by perceived actions, NASA often seems more intent on inflaming the issue, rather than resolving it once and for all.
This could be deliberate, maybe as part of my 'Cultural Assimilation Scenario' (see 'Weird Theories' below). On the other hand, friends have suggested that perhaps the entire Cydonia thing is an elaborate hoax to increase NASA funding! Certainly more plausible than some of the other theories one can find.
Also strongly reminiscent of a novel titled 'The Olympus Gambit' by William Rollo (published in paperback 18+ years ago). In it, a combined USA-EEC-USSR manned expedition to Mars is undertaken, at a time of heightened superpower tensions. To prevent WWIII, there is a conspiracy to hoax the Soviet expedition members with "alien" artifacts. Of course, things NEVER go exactly as planned...
Back to reality (or a vague fascimile thereof). Most of the pro-artificiality groups honestly believe those "lost" Martian probes did work. But, data gathered by them was deemed too sensitive for public consumption; so the public was told the probes had crashed, blown up, and/or broken down. Seems extreme, but given NASA's terrific record in getting almost everywhere else, you have to wonder. Especially considering that, for a overtly "civilian" agency, NASA has a lot of high-level military / spook types running the show. Not evidence of wrongdoing in itself, but certainly interesting.
Pearl Harbour : The theory is that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was so desperate to drag the USA into World War 2 that he "sacrificed" the US Pacific Fleet to the Japanese, in order to provoke national outrage. After all, he had already sent US ships "into harms way" in the North Atlantic, causing several incidents with Nazi Germany. There are also the warnings that the USA ignored from just about everybody imaginable. The 'Pearl Harbour Conspiracy Theory' seems plausible, until the facts are considered.
First, FDR's main priority was always the defeat of Nazi Germany. They and Imperial Japan were technically allies, but war with one did not guarantee involvement of the other. In fact, Hitler's declaration of war upon the US, made in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbour, came as a shock to many on BOTH sides.
Secondly, a common US misconception is that Pearl Harbour was the only thing Japan did to enter WW2. Wrong! Japanese forces went on the move all over South-East Asia and the Pacific - attacks were made on the British Commonwealth (Hong Kong, Malaya, Borneo, and numerous islands), on the US-held Philippines, and on US-administered islands such as the Marshalls, Guam, and Wake. Any one of these constituted an act of war and, given Japan's numerous atrocities in China, war would have been hard to avoid.
Thirdly, that all the warnings about an impending attack came to naught is strange, I accept. But, is it truly THAT strange? The warnings filtered through several different US government departments, most of which barely knew each other existed and seldom exchanged data in any case. FBI boss J Edgar Hoover was the recipient of at least one warning from the British, but chose to see it as a personal insult - and failed to take any meaningful action.
Also, most of the West genuinely believed that the typical Japanese soldier was five foot tall, severely near-sighted, afraid of the dark, lacked combat ability, and used inferior ships and planes. General Douglas Macarthur talked of "setting the bamboo cities of Japan ablaze" with the (twelve) B-17 bombers he had in the Philippines.
Hardly the mindsets to take warnings of a Japanese attack seriously.
So, the main allegation is that FDR sacrificed a fleet of obsolescent battleships (plus crews), but took special care to move the essential aircraft carriers out of danger. This notion totally ignores the strategic naval thinking of the time. Staunch carrier advocates existed on both sides, but most were relatively junior and all were regarded as at least slightly loony. The top brass in the RN, the USN, and the IJN still regarded battleships as all-important - and aircraft carriers as a very experimental adjunct to the hallowed Line Of Battle. This was despite the notable early successes of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (at Taranto and versus the Bismarck).
Understand that the Pearl Harbour attack was seen by the Japanese as a major gamble, and the final results a "best case scenario". True, Kido Butai (the Japanese carrier force) could have done better by following up and destroying port facilities and/or a US carrier or two. But such a move would have greatly compounded the risk of counterattack from US forces. Given the initial (and seemingly overwhelming) success, and that the fleet was at the very limits of its logistical support, Admiral Nagumo (rightly or wrongly) chose discretion by ordering the withdrawal as originally planned.
It is insane to believe that any semi-competent leader would begin a war by sacrificing his primary means of attack and defence, just to satisfy a vague need to claim provocation. Whatever his faults, FDR was a very shrewd and pragmatic man. If he even suspected that the Japanese were about to attack, then I have no doubt that the US would have been ready and waiting for them.
The Titanic / Olympic Conspiracy : The theory is that damage sustained by the 'Olympic' in its collision with HMS Hawke was far more serious than is generally believed. Faced with financial ruin, White Star Lines set up an insurance fraud that involved sister ships 'Olympic' and 'Titanic' swapping identities. The plan was that the former 'Olympic' (posing as 'Titanic') would have an "accident" in mid-Atlantic and sink, with passengers and crew rescued by a pre-placed ship. White Star Lines would then collect the insurance, and nobody would be the wiser. Unfortunately, various things went seriously wrong (such as "Titanic" having its "accident" early), and the loss of life was far greater than was expected.
I very strongly recommend 'The Riddle Of The Titanic' by Robin Gardiner & Dan Van Der Vat, and the sequel 'Titanic - The Ship That Never Sank?' by Robin Gardiner. They provide a surprising amount of circumstantial evidence favouring this theory.
Tunguska : I don't believe it can be disputed that something major happened in Siberia in 1908. That a meteor or cometary fragment was responsible seems reasonable, except for two things:
No crater at the point of impact, and the 'detonation' seemed to take place in mid-air. OK, I'm no physicist, so perhaps a chunk of super-cooled gas / ice subjected to a high-speed atmospheric entry could explode. But this particular explosion was comparable with a major NUCLEAR BLAST in every respect! Just how big would the object have had to have been?
Supposedly, the (surviving) eyewitnesses reported a glowing object that came in on a northerly course at high speed, made a sharp course change to the east (apparently towards Lake Baikal), and then an even sharper course change to the west before exploding. If the object was a chunk of ice, I could accept that the combination of an irregular shape and out-gassing could cause noticeable variations in the trajectory, but this radical maneuvering seems way beyond that.
What was the Tunguska object? I used to go with the nuclear spaceship theory and, no matter what I do, it remains kinda hard to shake. Otherwise, I just don't know.
UPDATE: Scientists are now suggesting that the Tunguska object was a meteorite of very low density. This is why it exploded high in the atmosphere rather than impacting on the ground. This may explain (1), but still does not cover (2).
ANOTHER UPDATE: It has also been suggested that the object was composed, at least in part, of some sort of exotic matter (or even anti-matter), hence the massive explosion. As with other hypotheses, it does not seem to explain the object's alleged maneuvers - unless this exotic matter had a totally bizarre reaction to Earth's gravity or magnetism.
UFOs : Do UFOs exist? Unquestionably. The trouble is figuring out what they actually are. Most are probably hoaxes or sightings of meteors, stars / planets, ball lightning, mirages / illusions, St Elmo's Fire, flocks of birds / insects, combinations thereof, etc., etc..
Noting the 'Foo Fighters' of WW2 and the 'Mystery Airships' of the late 19th / early 20th Centuries, it is interesting how many UFOs seem to consistently exhibit capabilities just a little (but not TOO far) beyond the technological norm. In recent times, alleged UFOs have even been sighted formating with more conventional military aircraft, so it may be that there are still ultra-classified aircraft that the public aren't hearing about. Just consider freakish-looking planes like the SR-71, F-117, U-2 / TR-1, and B-2 - all of which began in extreme secrecy. I have little doubt that the USA's 'Stealth Fighter and 'Stealth Bomber' came "out of the closet" mainly because there were already designs being evaluated that would supercede them.
'Extraterrestrial / Extradimensional Origin' is the most popular hypothesis for those UFOs that remain unexplained. If so, given the very wide range of reported experiences, there could be several groups of ETs looking us over, with widely varying mindsets and intentions. Also, some sightings (including the more dramatic abductions) seem almost too bizarre to be explained as the actions of mere aliens. Perhaps there is a psychic component to the phenomenon, which seems to dovetail with other areas of Fortean study.
What does 'The Military' know about UFOs? My guess - more than the rest of us, but not necessarily as much as the hard-core conspiracy junkies claim.
UN / New World Order : Time for venting. It is astounding just how many US citizens remain utterly convinced that the UN is plotting a takeover of the good ol' US of A.
Firstly, the UN would be hard-pressed to locate its collective backside with both hands. At least - not without a road map, months of deliberation, a couple of fact-finding missions, creation of at least one brand-new committee, re-vamping of two pre-existing committees, a call for restraint from somebody, and writing of a 'Rules Of Engagement' guide bigger than the King James Bible.
Secondly, the NWO rhetoric is infinitely scarier than anything the UN could possibly achieve. Word for word, the anti-UN propaganda is IDENTICAL to the anti-Communist hysteria of the 50s; and worryingly close to what was being said by a certain German politician during the 1930s....
Thirdly, we are supposed to believe that all participants in this massive global conspiracy have successfully buried all of their own feuds, hang-ups, and political maneuverings just to "take down" the USA? COME ON! Given relationships like those between China and India; India and Pakistan; or the Balkan zoo, to name a mere few (saying nothing of internal problems and rivalries!) - I Don't Think So!!!
Fourthly, the USA is not exactly shy about its manipulation of the UN. One could argue a case for the reverse of this theory being true - the USA taking over the world via the UN!
Fifthly, many UN/NWO proponents incorporate whatever can possibly be distorted to fit their own agenda. Funny how it usually comes down to gun control. Classic example - mass shootings can only be a conspiracy to toughen gun laws, and thus disarm the US citizenry in preparation for the UN takeover. No other explanation is possible. If any contradictory evidence is found, it is somehow interpreted as further signs of the cover-up ("...Those cunning S.O.B.'s..."). Conducting a proper investigation and unearthing some FACTS is what should be done, but somehow never is. The distortions and unfounded rumour flung around instead is just sick.
Sixthly, there seems to be some old-fashioned 'Yellow Peril'-style bigotry in the UN / NWO stupidity. The change is that it is now dressed up in political correctness. Think about the overall scenario. Hordes of non-Americans secretly lust after the USA; so they carefully depose the (always suicidally inept) Federal government and take over. Sound familiar?
Seventhly, in my misguided attempts to discuss NWO with serious believers, I note that infidels often seem to get categorized as sheep - staying with the rest of the herd and mindlessly going wherever they are driven. If barnyard metaphors are to be used, then maybe the story of Chicken Little should also be considered. Misplaced concern about the sky blinds him to the existance of a less dramatic but absolutely more real and immediate threat. Food for thought, I believe - the world has plenty of REAL problems needing solution.
Eighthly (?), speaking as a non-American, I can assure all US citizens that neither I nor anybody of my acquaintance prays for Green Cards, or lies awake at night dreaming of subjugating North America. Of course, I realize that we Aussies cannot speak for everybody on this, but it should count for something. The fears expressed by some Yanks about UN / NWO reminds me of those old stories about spinsters carefully checking under the bed every night to see if there was a man hiding there.
Very simply, DON'T FLATTER YOURSELVES!!!
Finally, for those who equate gun control with totalitarianism, consider that Nazi Germany had (by the standards of the time OR since) gun laws so lax as to be non-existant. A well-armed populace didn't seem to slow down Adolf Hitler. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Consider also, the following sentiments - "...We are the greatest people in the world, but weaker nations plot against us..." , "...Our culture and people are being undermined by foreign influences..." , "...Our great nation has been betrayed by traitors hiding amongst us...".
Now, be honest. How much difference is there between Nazi dogma and these "warnings" about the coming NWO?
[Refer http://www.geocities.com/nini_pad for a rebuttal to my anti-UN/NWO diatribe by a friend of mine. He makes a few valid points, but not enough to change my mind. Agree to disagree?]
"... Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar ..."
"... I'm absolutely certain. But I could be wrong ..."
Robert A. Heinlein
"... You can disprove 99% of the sightings, 99% of the photos, and 99% of the physical evidence. Because you only need one witness, one photo, and one piece of physical evidence to prove that something exists ..."
R & F Guenette ('The Mysterious Monsters').
Fortean - For Charles Hoy Fort (d.1932) - diligent researcher; cataloguer of the paranormal; and author of 'The Book Of The Damned', 'New Lands', and 'Wild Talents'. Throughout his life, he was skeptical about scientific explanations, observing how many scientists argued according to their own beliefs rather than the laws of evidence; and that inconvenient data was often simply ignored, suppressed, or dismissed. He is also credited as creator of the word "teleport", and as one of the first people to speculate that mysterious lights in the sky could be craft from outer space.
Shame on you if you didn't already know this ...
'1421: The Year China Discovered The World' by Gavin Menzies
http://www.1421.tv covers ongoing research mentioned in this book.
First, the background info - for anyone who somehow knows nothing about this.
Imperial China had its own Age of Exploration, which reached its zenith in the early 1400s. Zhu Di, third Emperor of the Ming dynasty, was a "real go-getter" in the early part of his reign. As well as various high-profile projects at home (such as making Beijing the new Imperial capital), he had an immense navy (1681 new ships!) built specifically for exploration (including colonization, diplomacy, tribute-gathering and opening up trade).
Central to this fleet were the 'Bao Chuan' ('Treasure Ships'), about 250 in all. These were arguably the most seaworthy ships to exist anywhere until the 19th century. Each was 480 feet in length; constructed mainly of teak and mahogany (expensive but TOUGH); divided into fourteen watertight compartments (and could stay afloat with two or three flooded); carried approximately two thousand tons of cargo plus 30 VIP passengers (with entourages for each!); had nine masts of sails; and were armed with large cannon. These ships could vary their trim, via water ballast tanks and retractable keels, to cope with changing conditions. There were gardens and livestock on board, plus means of water desalinization.
Another book illustrated the comparitive sizes of a Treasure Ship and Columbus's Santa Maria. I am not kidding when I say that, if the Treasure Ship had davits equal to the task, it could have hoisted Santa Maria aboard and used it as a lifeboat.
Then there was the fleet itself. The Treasure Ships were the core, but there were also a wide range of specialty ships - fast escorts, bulk cargo carriers, water ships, livestock ships, troop carriers, even ships specifically for carrying horses (for the cavalry). All loaded up with soldiers, astronomers, translators, scholars, craftsmen, diplomats, concubines (for VIP use only) and a full range of useful animals (dogs, pigs, hens, horses, otters, silkworms, etc.). In terms of size and overall capabilities, the closest comparison that can be made is with the huge Allied fleets operating in the Pacific in 1944-45.
Of course, all of this would have been meaningless without competent navigation. By this era, the Chinese had thoroughly mastered celestial navigation, and had amassed much experience from other voyages. The state of their knowledge was unequalled.
So, what happened?
Under the command of Admiral Zheng He, this exploration fleet made several major voyages. "Officially", it got as far as the Persian Gulf and western Africa. There has been much speculation that elements of it could have visited Australia or even the Americas. Certainly either was achievable, and circumstantial evidence suggests Chinese visitation to both before the Europeans arrived.
Tragically, luck was never on China's side. Several calamities beset the Emperor (including poor health, and a fire that destroyed his new palace in Beijing), greatly weakening his standing and leading to an upswing in the popularity of Confucianism. Since the latter emphasized the traditional status quo; and regarded "free enterprise" and anything foreign as downright immoral; this was very bad news for the fleet and its supporters. The fleet's strongest supporters were to be found amongst the court eunuchs, who came out on the losing end of a power struggle with the mandarins (traditional nobles / bureaucrats). To cap it all off, Zhu Di's son and grandson were both firmly on the side of Confucianism and the mandarins.
In the end, those marvellous ships were destroyed or left to rot. Decrees were passed prohibiting Chinese from travelling to foreign places, or learning foreign languages, or even building ships. The maps and records accumulated from Zheng He's explorations were mostly destroyed or "lost" by the mandarins. Imperial China turned completely inwards, with results that any student of history knows well.
So where does this new book come in?
Author Gavin Menzies (Commander RN, retired) did extensive research that encompassed scores of maritime museums and other sources all over the world. It is his contention that Zheng He's last voyage achieved far more than anyone realizes. The fleet divided into four sub-fleets that, between them, explored most of this planet's oceans (western Europe and the Mediterranean seem to be the only areas NOT covered). Chinese ships successfully traversed the Arctic north of Asia and Greenland, charted the Straits of Magellan, placed outposts and markers on the east AND west coasts of North America, taught craftsmen in the Mayan Empire, mined minerals in Australia, and visited New Zealand.
A number of animals and useful plants were transplanted to the Americas and elsewhere by Zheng He's ships, or were brought back to China from abroad. The 'Bimini Road' (of Edgar Cayce / Bermuda Triangle / Atlantis fame) was actually a submerged slipway constructed for ship repairs, and various mysterious shipwrecks all around the world (such as Australia's "Mahogany Ship" near Warrnambool in Victoria) were from Zheng He's fleet.
When China turned away from exploration, the knowledge gained was not completely lost. Some of it "leaked" to the Ottoman Empire, forming the basis for the well-known Piri Reis maps. Maps were also carried by Venetian traders back to Europe. This information was priceless to European explorers - substantial evidence is presented in '1421' indicating that Columbus, Diaz, de Gama, Magellan and even Cook had access to detailed "prior knowledge" on their famous voyages of discovery.
Very highly recommended reading.
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