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Psychic Vibrations

Robert Sheaffer

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 24.2, March / April 2000

If you're looking for solid evidence of extraterrestrial life, the best place to find it might be out in a national park, or on a vendor's table or, better yet, on an online auction site. The Web site, whose owner is listed as Mike Moore of Amarillo, Texas, claims to have discovered numerous samples of alien life (not even fossilized, just dried) on what it calls the “Frass meteorite,” which supposedly has been traced back to Mars. Among the life forms supposedly discovered in it are a Martian spider, a black worm, a Martian flower, and even a mysterious “Martian bugger,” all of which are supposed to be 13 million years old and are being covered up by the powers that be. Fragments of the supposed Martian meteorite were offered for sale on the online auction site eBay last July for “just $5,000,” and an “alien flying insect” for “just $1,000,000.” The seller isn't saying if these prices were actually obtained.

But Ron Ruiz of Oro Valley, Arizona, has gone one better, offering for sale at a Tucson gem show for $69,000 a potato-sized green rock that supposedly came from the crash of a liquid-hulled alien spaceship that crashed in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1947. “It seems like an awfully high amount, but there is very little of it," Ruiz told the Arizona Daily Star (February 5, 1999). Smaller pieces were available for $100 per gram, and at least four pieces were actually sold. However, skeptic James McGaha checked out the remarkable evidence, and suggests that it was probably a piece of slag, the refuse from metal smelting. You can decide for yourself what it is by looking at Actual pieces of supposed Roswell crash debris were on sale at the Bay Area UFO Expo held near San Francisco over the Labor Day holiday but seemed to generate little enthusiasm, probably because even the credulous UFO buffs in attendance found them unconvincing.

But you've got to give credit to Jose Escamilla of Roswell, New Mexico, who seems to have worked out a whole new angle in the crowded field of paranormal claims. They're called “Roswell Rods," and they allegedly zip through the air, never seeming to stop or slow down. Supposedly first discovered at Roswell, the Rods have now been seen almost everywhere that anyone has bothered to look for them. Seldom seen visually, the best way to spot them is to take a video or movie camera and point it at the sky. Sooner or later some little dark spot will be seen to zip across at high angular velocity, and when it does you will have a Rod sighting. "Rods have never been slow,” Escamilla explains. “These things travel at extremely high velocities and can barely be seen as they pass by. We have never seen a Rod hover or fly slowly as reports of cigar UFOs suggest. Most footage of Rods lasts from one to five frames in duration. What we consider to be the slowest Rods we have ever seen on video last a full ten frames before flying off screen. These ten frames equal one-third of a second.” I attended his lecture and video presentation. Some of his “rods” were obviously insects zipping across the field at a high angular rate. Others appear to have “appendages” in stop-frame video, apparently birds' wings blurred in zipping across the frame. Escamilla is convinced he's onto something really big here. His Web site,, claims to have had more than 7 million visitors in the past three years, and he says he's now aggressively pursuing movie and television deals.

The charismatic and controversial UFOlogist Steven Greer (see this column, September/October 1999) recently revealed on his Web site the real reason for the death of Marilyn Monroe. Greer claims to have an "authenticated CIA wiretap document of Marilyn Monroe signed by legendary Counter-Intelligence Chief James Angleton the day before her death detailing that she knew about the crashed spacecraft and dead bodies from Jack Kennedy and was planning a Press Conference to tell all-and more!” Unfortunately, if you want to read the full story, you'll have to buy Greer's new book.

Another wild-and-wooly UFO group, Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (see this column, September/October 1998) has filed a lawsuit complaining that the U.S. Government and the State of Arizona jointly are failing to protect citizens against a foreign invasion, specifically, abduction by extraterrestrials (see The state, not surprisingly, has filed a motion to dismiss the case. However, its response deals with the suit not by showing that it is unsubstantiated and ridiculous, but instead claiming the state has “Qualified Immunity” and that the suit would “interfere with public administration,” even if the state's citizens were actually being abducted. Another lawsuit was directed against the Department of Defense for allegedly withholding UFO secrets requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Still in the works are planned lawsuits against the FBI and the CIA.

Still another UFOlogist, Larry W. Bryant of MUFON, recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the medical center at the Andrews Air Force Base, as follows:

Word has come to me that your facility routinely administers medical care (including counseling services, on both an in-patient and an out-patient basis) to servicemembers (and their family members) exhibiting symptoms of having undergone abduction by “extraterrestrial biological entities” (a.k.a. UFO-borne aliens).

Accordingly, under terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request that you send me a copy of the following records:

  1. The standard treatment plan pursued by your personnel in caring for these above-defined victims.
  2. All statistical-survey reports produced to date on the demographics, etiology, treatment protocols, long-term prognosis, and forensic evidence relating to your care of these victims. . . .

There is, as yet, no word about any deep secrets he may have pried loose. James Moseley reports in Saucer Smear ( that Bryant is considering a lawsuit similar to that filed by CAUS against the state of Virginia, where he resides, charging that it, like Arizona, has failed to protect its citizens against alien abduction. But MUFON is leaning on Bryant to nix the suit, as MUFON considers it abysmally bad public relations.

However, according to one very earnest group of SETI researchers, the most promising way to detect extraterrestrial intelligence is not using sophisticated radio equipment or even ordinary telescopes, but instead setting up a Web page and waiting patiently for ET to log on. The group, sixteen of whom are members of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Committee, calls itself “Welcome ETI.” It has set up a Web page ( and seriously expects to receive an e-mail message from a highly advanced alien intelligence that has figured out a way to hack into a terrestrial Internet connection.

This, however, is more difficult than it sounds, assuming that the ETs must abide by the same laws of physics as us Earthlings. The Internet protocols require the assignment of unique network addresses-even to ETs-and are inherently bi-directional. This means that ETs cannot just passively surf the net, but must enter data into the Internet in order to receive data from it. As for tapping into communications channels, we know that this is something that terrestrial intelligence agencies routinely can do.

However, if the ETs have placed an intelligent probe somewhere in our solar system that wishes to somehow insert data into one of our terrestrial microwave data links that is not expecting to receive it, because of delays of seconds if not minutes in the information round-trip at the speed of light, the un-hacked data would have reached its destination long before any extraterrestrial hacking could be accomplished (unless the ETs are precognitive and know what data will be transmitted in the future).

After I exchanged several e-mails with the group's organizer, Allen Tough, he agreed that because of these and other difficulties a successful alien hacker would have to have a presence on Earth instead of in space, which as I explained sounds very much like the plot for an episode of The X-Files. This suggests that the proper equipment for a SETI researcher might not be expensive telescopes and radio spectrum analyzers, but a hand-held scanner and a four-wheel drive vehicle. The group says that it has already received thirty replies claiming to be from ETs, however “none have yet come close to persuading us of their authenticity.”

The National Enquirer reported in its September 14, 1999, edition that Jackie Stallone, Sly Stallone's mom, has given up astrology for an even more bizarre form of fortunetelling: “rumpology," reading the imprint of a person's posterior. Clients remove their pants, sit on an ink-coated paper, then creating an impression in which the prognosticator interprets the lines and wrinkles. “It's all written on your behind who you're going to marry, love affairs, health-and most important of all in Hollywood, whether you're going to have a successful career,” she told the Enquirer.

Robert Sheaffer

Robert Sheaffer's "Psychic Vibrations" column has appeared in the Skeptical Inquirer for the past thirty years. He is also author of UFO Sightings: The Evidence (Prometheus 1998). He blogs at