Showing posts with label misperception. Show all posts
Showing posts with label misperception. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ray Bradbury's Orbs from Mars

Ray Bradbury on UFOs - sort of.

Ray A. Palmer started Imagination in 1950, and it was a in the same pulpy vein as Fantastic Adventures and Other Worlds (which eventually transformed into Flying Saucers) featuring space opera tales of fantasy and Bug-Eyed Monsters. After only three issues, Palmer passed the torch to William L. Hamling, who incidentally was one of the few science fiction authors who promoted the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis for UFOs.

According to Michael Ashley in Transformations: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970,
"Hamling was less provocative and daring than Palmer. He knew a good story when he saw one, but avoided the extremes of Palmer. The result was fewer abominations, but also less excitement, and under Hamling Imagination became more bland than it had started out under Palmer."
Even so, occasionally a story of anomalous quality slipped in, transcending Imagination's pulpy origins. 

Ray Bradbury grew up loving Buck Rogers and monsters like King Kong, but his fantasy and science fiction stories were more more about the human heart. The April 1951 Imagination featured "In This Sign..." a story by Bradbury about Episcopalian missionaries led by Father Peregrine who'd traveled to Mars trying to save the souls of the natives by converting them to Christianity. The hitch being, the Martians they found were sentient beings who looked like spheres of blue light. It's an outstanding story, and proved to be a classic, touching on many important themes about religion and just what it means to be human.

The piece was later retitled "The Fire Balloons," featured in the anthology The Illustrated Man and frequently reprinted in science fiction anthologies in different languages around the world.

In 1980 it was adapted as part of the NBC television miniseries The Martian Chronicles, in the episode "The Settlers."

July 4, 1925

In his introduction to the 1974 edition of Dandelion Wine, Bradbury described the inspiration for the story:
" of the last memories I have of my grandfather is the last hour of a Fourth of July night forty-eight years ago when Grandpa and I walked out on the lawn and lit a small fire and filled the pear-shaped red-white-and-blue-striped paper balloon with hot air, and held the flickering bright-angel presence in our hands... and then, very softly, let the thing that was life and light and mystery go out of our fingers up on the summer air and away over the beginning-to-sleep houses, among the stars, as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself."

It was a memory that lasted a lifetime. Bradbury mentioned it in 1990 in an interview with John Ezard
"At the end my grandfather would take me out to the end of the lawn at midnight. We'd light a little cup of shavings and put it underneath a Japanese fire balloon. We'd stand there waiting for the balloon to fill with warm air. Then we'd let it drift up into the night. I would stand there with my grandfather and cry because it was so beautiful. It was all over and it was going away. My grandfather died the next year and in a way he was a fire balloon going away."
Shortly before his death, Bradbury again described the childhood events that inspired the story in "Take Me Home," a biographical piece in the June 2012 special science fiction issue of The New Yorker that serves as his own epitaph. "...the paper balloon held between us for a final moment, filled with warm exhalations, ready to go."


Ray Bradbury called them fire balloons, and they date back to ancient China and go by many names, such as sky candles, Japanese or Chinese lanterns, hot air balloons, sky lanterns and others. The invention eventually spread through Europe and then to the United States, where it was most often used as part of Independence Day fireworks. The Boy's Holiday Book by Reverend T. E. Fuller from 1865 provided instructions for constructing a fire balloon in the section on fireworks, in a day when you literally had to make your own fun. Bradbury's grandfather was passing on the tradition of flying them in 1925. Later generations of kids took shortcuts, making their sky lanterns out of dry cleaning bags powered by hot air generated from birthday candles. Some of these have been sent up with the intent of hoaxing a UFO.

Ray Bradbury regarded the sight of these balloons flight as a magical thing, and he was able to imagine them as otherworldly spherical glowing intelligent living things. He's not the only one.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dr. Edgar Mitchell: Memories of Roswell

What's in a word?

Dr. Edgar Mitchell on Aliens and their Spacecraft.

An important distinction from a flying saucer scientist

Stanton Friedman uses the term flying saucer to indicate “intelligently controlled extraterrestrial spacecraft.” He says,
A truly enormous amount of material has been written about flying saucers. Some people don’t even want me to use the term, but I use it to make an important distinctionFlying saucers are, by definition, unidentified flying objects, but very few unidentified flying objects are flying saucers. - Flying Saucers and Science

1947 artist's conception of a flying saucer.

But flying saucer did not always have that meaning. It was only after Donald Keyhoe’s article and book, Flying Saucers are Real, and the science fiction movies of the 1950s, did the term come to be understood as spacecraft. It was for that reason, unidentified flying objects or UFOs was used by the Air Force to avoid the automatic association with alien craft (but that term, too became associated with spaceships).

In 1947, when a newspaper said “flying saucer,” it was putting a label on a mystery. Spaceship from other planets was mentioned by a few, but mostly in jest, as Men from Mars were familiar to people from Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers comic strips. At that time, many thought the flying saucer answer was atmospheric anomalies or secret military planes either of US or Soviet origin. It is only from our perspective, that yesterday’s headlines mentioning Flying saucers seem to be saying extraterrestrial spacecraft.

Telephone or Chinese Whispers is a game where people pass a whispered phrase around a circle to see how the story changes. It’s a good example of just how stories transmute even when there’s no intent to exaggerate or fabricate. Translation of a story from one language to another can unintentionally distort details  but a just having it paraphrased within the same language is enough to do the same thing, especially when it’s done from memory many years later.

A Newspaper Witness from Roswell?

From Edgar Mitchell’s introduction to the 2009 edition of Witness to Roswell:
“I was ready to begin my senior year in high school in the summer of 1947 when the Roswell Daily Record on July 8 proclaimed the recovery of a crashed alien spacecraft on a ranch northwest of Roswell.
The Roswell Daily Record from July 8, 1947, makes no such claims. The headline states
"RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region"
It does not characterize the object as a spacecraft, alien or otherwise.

On July 25, 2008, Edgar Mitchell appeared on BlogTalkRadio’s ShapeShifting, hosted by Lisa Bonnice. 
"Well, that the crash of an alien spacecraft in the Roswell area was a real event and much of the lore, I can't say all of the lore, but much of the fact that dead bodies were recovered and live ones were recovered, that they were not of this world, was the story. And of course it was reported in the Roswell Daily Record one day and promptly denied the next day and a cover story of a weather balloon, and that was pure nonsense. That was a cover-up.  (Quoted at

In this clip we see him claim that he heard stories about the Roswell alien bodies, but admits it wasn’t until after 1980, when the first Roswell UFO book was released.
Mitchell interview posted by German UFO site.

In this clip from "Roswell Slides" promoter, Jaimie Maussan, Mitchell claims that the newspaper published stories about a Roswell crash of an alien spacecraft and bodies were recovered. As seen earlier, the story was only about a “flying saucer.” 
“I read it in the newspaper. On one day- on the day it reached the newspaper, it was that an alien spacecraft has crashed and bodies recovered and the next day, thanks to the Air Force and the military, they hushed it up and said, no, it was a weather balloon.”

BeWitness video with Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell lived at Roswell at the time, but had no direct experience with the alleged UFO events. All of his information on the events come from the stories of others.  Combining his memory of the newspaper coverage with the modern definition of flying saucer, when he relates his experience, even though he is sincere, he is in error. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Not a UFO, Not Bigfoot, but a Mysterious sighting of a Vanishing Cat

And now for something completely different...

Working outside in the morning, I found cat tracks. Bad news- I have a dog with a feline intolerance of the fatal kind.

Chores continue, but breaking for lunch, I see a cat in the edge of the trees.

I move closer and see that it's an unfamiliar cat,

a gray and white one, a bit like this.

Random similar cat pulled off the Net.

Closer still, getting concerned the cat is not moving, fearing the worst,

wondering if somehow, the allegedly murderous dog got out.

At some point, maybe 15 feet away, the cat seems to change form, and in its place, 

I see something with writing on it. Closer inspection reveals it to be the empty of a bag of sand, blown away from one of my morning chores.

So, I had to go back and look up a word I'd heard, pareidoliabasically that's when you see something like an empty bag, but your mind thinks it matches a cat instead.

This kind of thing has happened to me many times before, but this time, I had a phone camera handy to recreate it. Usually, even after scary false alarm, the memory of it soon fades away.

Funny thing is, if I had looked away and the wind had carried it into the woods, I'd have fiercely sworn the cat simply ran away.

A true story, and I am prepared to produce the bag in a court of law. Some of you may be asking yes, but what about the very real cat tracks? 

Not all mysteries are fully solved!