Thursday, May 29, 2008


David Cherniack's UFO documentary

A post to UFO Updates (via Errol Bruce-Knapp) by Stuart Miller contained a pre-release screening review of Cherniack's new UFO documentary. It's due out in July, aired on the Canadian History Channel. Miller liked what he saw, and opined that the UFO doc was one of the best he had ever seen. He had only one other observation, and that was that at one point, he nearly "yelled at" Jerry Clark of CUFOS for some comment.

Cherniack came to Manitoba two years ago when he was filming his movie, and my fiancee and I accompanied him to Falcon lake where he filmed the site of the 1967 Michalak UFO encounter. It involved rugged cross-country horseback riding with a pack horse for camera equipment to reach the site, but it was a neat expedition.

Apparently, I didn't say anything too provocative on camera that would make Miller want to yell at me.

Maybe next time.

I emailed Cherniack about Miller's note, and he responded that Miller had seen it when he privately screened it in Nottingham recently. The film may also be previewed in Toronto within the next month or so.

Congratulations to David on the first semi-review of his new film!

Working on the 2007 Canadian UFO Survey

Originally posted May 21, 2008 in my Notes

So, I'm about three months behind in working on the 2007 Canadian UFO Survey data. It takes a lot of time to enter the cases once they've been identified, and to mine the reports for useful data. (And, well, I'm a newlywed, with a few kids, so spare time is something that's at a premium these days.)

Nevertheless, I'm making some progress. I've managed to enter a few hundred cases into the database, and in doing so have identified some interesting cases that deserve some follow up. In fact, I was able to get contact info for one witness to a close encounter case and passed it along to a very capable investigator in that area of the country.

Much of what slows me down is trying to figure out what was seen simply from reading the available reports, most of which are online. Most witnesses report their sightings online to various organizations, and only a few of those groups (like MUFON) pass the info along to investigators. The result is that what we have available to work with are partial reports written by witnesses (although some seem to have had follow-up by webmasters) that fail to include things like dates, times, locations, duration.. even exactly what was seen!

Despite this, there is an enormous amount of data that can be harvested from the available data, including cases that are well-investigated and detailed. Having military and government UFO case information available to me really makes the annual Canadian UFO Survey a well-rounded and thorough analysis of what people really are seeing and reporting.

(I'll address the Brad Sparks issue of UFO data in a later note.)

Although it's too early to talk about results from the 2007 survey, a few things stand out so far in the data. First of all, there are a helluva lot of stars and meteors reported as UFOs. Case after case of witnesses watching "stationary starlike objects" for hours, convinced they were spacecraft. And many reports of "green fireballs" that are testament to the major astronomical event of March 11, 2007, but reported as UFOs. This alone will drag the percentage of unknowns down to single-digit levels.

Second, even in cases where the objects reported and described in detail are obviously stars, planets, bolides or airplanes, the number of witnesses who state things like: "there's no way this is a star" or "this must be a mother ship" are astounding. This is even moreso that in previous years, for some reason.

Third, the cases seem much more representative of a population distribution this year than in others. (Remember, though, that this is only a quarter of the data.) There are way more Ontario reports, percentage-wise, than I've seen before. I'm not sure what this means so far, but it's interesting.

We'll see what happens as I keep going through the data.









Technical errors in posting between Facebook and Blogger (sorry), eventually corrected


UK UFOs and the Vatican

Originally Posted May 15, 2008 in my Notes:

So there was a great deal of coverage yesterday regarding the release of "Top Secret" UFO docs by the British Ministry of Defence. It made international headlines and there is a great deal of attention to this announcement.

The trouble is, it's not all that interesting. I downloaded many of the new docs and quickly realized they are mostly low classifications, and of about the same quality and content as the Canadian UFO docs we have from DND. They're even the same style and format, which is not too surprising since Canada followed Britain's lead in this many years ago.

The second news story about aliens and UFOs this week was the announcement from the Vatican that it's alright for Catholics to believe in aliens:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican's chief astronomer says there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of "extraterrestrial brothers" perhaps more evolved than humans.

"In my opinion this possibility (of life on other planets) exists," said Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, a 45-year-old Jesuit priest who is head of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict.

"How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere," he told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview in its Tuesday-Wednesday edition, explaining that the large number of galaxies with their own planets made this possible.

Asked if he was referring to beings similar to humans or even more evolved than humans, he said: "Certainly, in a universe this big you can't exclude this hypothesis."

In the interview headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother," he said he saw no conflict between belief in such beings and faith in God.

"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom," he said.

"Why can't we speak of a 'brother extraterrestrial'? It would still be part of creation," he said.

Funes, who runs the observatory which is based south of Rome and in Arizona, held out the possibility that the human race might actually be the "lost sheep" of the universe.

"There could be (other beings) who remained in full friendship with their creator," he said.


Christians have sometimes been at odds with scientists over whether the Bible should be read literally and issues such as creationism versus evolution have been hotly debated for decades.

The Inquisition condemned astronomer Galileo in the 17th century for insisting that the earth revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church did not rehabilitate him until 1992.

Funes said dialogue between faith and science could be improved if scientists learned more about the Bible and the Church kept more up to date with scientific progress.

Funes, an Argentine, said he believed as an astronomer that the most likely explanation for the start of the universe was "the big bang," the theory that it sprang into existence from dense matter billions of years ago.

But he said this was not in conflict with faith in God as a creator. "God is the creator. There is a sense to creation. We are not children of an accident ...," he said.

"As an astronomer, I continue to believe that God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the product of something casual but children of a good father who has a project of love in mind for us," he said.


I can never figure out how to download the entire issue of the Vatican's bulletin, but the news stories tell it all. Aliens are our kin, and likely exist. No problem there. It's standard astronomical theory. As for theology, it's a view I've been holding and describing when asked within my church courses and programs, and in media when asked in this context. I noted this view on GodTalk ( a year or two ago, with some good discussion and follow-up.

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