Though the magazine has a healthy subscriber base and the site is one of the most popular UFO news outlets, the Congress is the most attention-drawing aspect of Open Minds' mission.

"We have such a big crowd every single year. [Participants] register as soon as we open up registration," Elsberry says. "We sell out [the conference] faster and faster."

Admission isn't cheap: Prices range from $35 to $80 for day passes, with full-attendance packages running as high as $319. The crowd, consequently, is older, but Rojas, McClellan, and Elsberry quietly challenge many conceptions of what UFO enthusiasts are like. Even if the Congress does draw more "fundamentalist" UFO believers, the Open Minds team is young, hip, and about as far from the tinfoil-hat-wearing stereotype as you can get.

Andrew Pielage
Andrew Pielage

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If the vendor marketplace is an overview of the UFO Congress' vibe, the lecture hall is where things get specific. Over the course of five days, dozens of speakers give detailed, elaborate presentations. Many feature anecdotal stories about sightings and abductions, offering up artistic renditions in lieu of photographs and special effects-laden re-creations instead of videos.

Outdoorsman and blogger Mike Clelland gives a speech straight out of Twin Peaks, discussing variations of the cult-hit TV show's ominous quote, "The owls are not what they seem."

Kim Carlsberg, a former still photographer for Baywatch shares details of her "secret life," discussing her own account of personal abduction.

The Open Minds team selects its speakers, knowing that information provided will vary from talk to talk. Sometimes the speakers contradict each other.

Rojas explains that booking people is tricky. They bring in a wide variety of speakers (some not armed with hard data or information) but steer away from known hoaxers, such as former Georgia corrections officer Rick Dyer, who wanted to bring along his "Bigfoot corpse." Dyer was behind a similar claim in 2008, when his sasquatch was revealed to be a rubber gorilla suit.

This year, the Open Minds team made a conscious effort to bring in speakers with scientific backgrounds. People like Jeffrey Bennett, astrophysicist and author, and Richard Hoover, a former NASA astrobiologist convinced he's found evidence of extraterrestrial microbial life on meteors that have entered Earth's atmosphere.

"You get a lot of the same [speakers] at every UFO conference," McClellan says. "It's difficult, almost impossible, to avoid that. And they are some of the key players in the field — so you've gotta have these people. But something that we've done this year is we've gotten new people who have interesting research and topics, things people are interested in hearing. But they're not the usual suspects."

Hoover, who established the Astrobiology Research Group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 1998, has studied diatom algae and cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) nearly all his life. His credentials are stacked: He's an astrobiologist at Athens State University in Alabama and a visiting research professor with the Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in England, and he won the NASA Inventor of the Year award in 1992 for his invention of the Water Window Imaging X-Ray Microscope. He's studied microbial extremophiles (organisms capable of withstanding extreme heat and cold) in the some of the most hostile conditions on Earth: in Antarctica and in Hawaiian volcanoes. Hover is convinced that he's found cyanobacteria on carbonaceous meteorites. He's certain the biological matter is indigenous in the stones — and not from Earth.

"I really [don't discuss] little green men or little gray men because I don't have any evidence of those things," Hoover says.

Hoover's work has been challenged — by scientists stating that his samples were contaminated — and NASA has distanced itself from his findings. He suggests that the potential existence of extraterrestrial life, no matter how minuscule, threatens people's beliefs.

"I was told that there might be people whose religious thoughts would be upset by this. But this was true in the days of Copernicus and Galileo," Hoover says. "The church was upset by [Galileo's] contention that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe. And, yes, there may be people who believe that the Earth is the only habitable planet in the universe and that man is the only intelligent species, but that's . . . not science. Scientists should only be concerned by what they can see and what they can obtain evidence for."

Hoover acknowledges that the UFO Congress, with its dyed-in-the-wool believers, is "an unusual venue" for his presentation.

"If I were still working for NASA, I wouldn't be able to get permission to come here," Hoover says. "But I'm retired from NASA, and I'm willing to speak my mind. All I do is report what I've found and what I know. If any scientist wants to debate this with me, I'm willing."

Elsberry says, "There's some backlash because we do have a lot of scientists speaking. I'll have people come up to me and say, 'Why did you have this person? We already know [extraterrestrial] life is here; we know it's abducting people. Why do you have this guy trying to [convince us that] life exists out there?'"

Rojas explains that believers at the conference often accuse the Open Minds team of intentionally deceiving attendees — by bringing in government disinformation agents. Naturally, speakers like Hoover are viewed with suspicion by the Congress' most paranoid attendees.

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37 comments
sanamarzoo2
sanamarzoo2

I believe the fact completely. In-district boat charters which contend for skills, where mother and father have complete open registration and accessibility easy to understand school efficiency information, where providers have to execute or lose their certificate to function at the district-managed but taxpayer-owned property is the way to go. There will never be a better inspiration for change than releasing teachers and strengthening advised mother and father. It will always win out over top- down command-and-control control from a single innovator. http://www.staffperhour.com

bobunf
bobunf

Here are some things, a combination of which, might cause someone to pay attention to UFOlogy:


1. Substantial reporting, replicable and continuing, by multiple mainstream media (like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, CNN and ABC, etc.) of events such as observation of a craft, a clearly extraterrestrial machine or some other artifact, or an actual contact with a communicating ET with multiple reports, and studied by professional people in the relevant disciplines employed by substantial organizations. People who do not use the word proof. One story in the Wall Street Journal front page humor column won’t do it; the humor is a bit dry. 


2. Multiple articles in relevant, reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals like Nature or Science with explanations of how the observations were obtained, and how conclusions were drawn that at least appear to be plausible. 


3. A presentation by responsible public officials, for a reasonable public purpose, reported, scrutinized, challenged and accepted by most of the mainstream media. One, or even a bevy of screwballs won’t do it; and governments contain more, screwballs per square foot than most enterprises. 


4. Personal and significant observations confirmed by others personally known to be reliable. One can’t take even one’s own observations too seriously—one might be going bonkers. 


Lastly, I feel no burden to prove, or even to make a convincing case for, a negative, and neither should anyone else. 


bobunf
bobunf

There are over 10,000 professional astronomers deploying thousands of extremely capable instruments on every continent on Earth and every major island group and throughout our solar system.  They observe and record every part of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma and particles from atoms to neutrinos 24/7/365.24.  They use huge computer systems to tease out all possible phenomena. All done by people who’ve devoted their lives and great talents to studying all of the phenomena impacting the Earth that is observable with their instruments and computers.   


There are about one million amateur astronomers deploying a full range of literally millions of instruments, many extremely capable and of professional quality, on at least six continents, on every major island group, and in ships on the oceans.  They observe and record in every wavelength to which air is transparent.  Some observe and record a range of particles.  This is all going on 24/7/365.24.  


With all of this, there is no clear, documented and indisputable evidence of ET on Earth or anywhere else.  Instead there are flashing lights, blurry pictures, and weird stories.  Meteors a few meters in diameter and planets light years away are observed and recorded, but no spaceships.  Radio, light, X and gamma ray beacons from objects billions of light years from Earth are observed and recorded, but nary a stray beacon of any kind from ET on Earth or elsewhere.  


The metors, planets, beacons, and thousands of other phenomena are published, analyzed, critiqued and replicated throughout the world.  Not so with ET.


I feel no burden to prove, or even make a convincing case for, a negative, and neither should anyone else.   


nonlethal2
nonlethal2

Actually, the IUFOC began in Mesquite, NV not Laughlin.  It moved there later

slappy
slappy

Dear Mike from Bisbee

I live in Pinal County, and I am retired military.With that said, I can say with certainty the lights over South Mountain were actually flares deployed at the Goldwater Range. As 13F, I am certain you are an expert in triangulation (determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline).

If triangulation is done on a map, it always ends up being over the Goldwater Range.I used the Phoenix tower and a point in Casa Grande.  (Certainly, I cannot give you a precise eight digit grid coordinate, but it's in the ball park).

 In Pinal County we have the advantage of not having south mountain obscure our vision towards the Goldwater range.The citizens of Pinal County are accustom to viewing these lights hang in the air.

 Some people say, "it's  impossible for a flare to just hang there".Little do they know the flares are rigged with parachutes.The heat of these flares are captured underneath the canopy which delays the descent.

 With that said,  I have no explanation for the second set of lights. Many credible people reported seeing a large triangle fly overhead. This anomaly was captured on radar.

donnied1
donnied1

Great article' what a bunch of moon howlers!

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

And Gordon Cooper. And several cosmonauts. And a whole bunch of military pilots from numerous countries. And the deputy base commander (Charles Halt) of RAF Bentwaters - the biggest USAF TAC base in Europe. And SAC missile crews. And countless airline pilots. And private pilots And police officers. Etc. Etc. Oh, yeah - and me- a former 13F (field artillery recon sgt. AKA forward observer) who saw the Phoenix lights and who knows they weren't aircraft and who called in a whole bunch of artillery fire missions at night under flares during his military career and who knows what flares look like. Those were NOT flares. Nor where they over the Goldwater Bombing Range. I saw them as I was looking northeast from I-10 near Chandler.

I can understand the derision IF all of the people who have seen unexplainable aerial phenomena  were crackpots or incompetent observers. But they aren't, so lighten up New Times.

wgalison
wgalison

Another idiotic article, replete with all the standard issue clichés: "little green men", "out-of-this-world", "conspiracy theories"…. Is there a manual for writing this sh-t?


Rather than considering the fact that people with double his IQ (like Physicist Michio Kaku or Astronaut Edgar Mitchell) take the matter with deadly seriousness, the author would rather quip about the Kardashians and Maureen Ellsberg's "good looks". 


Woodbury is one of those people who would rather be ignorant and share a smirk with his fellow ignorants, than actually consider challenging facts and dare arouse their disapproval.


Lousy journalism. 

.







wgalison
wgalison

@bobunf  @bobunf  


If you anything about astronomy, you would know that astronomers observe infinitesimal spots of sky at enormous distances. They would not notice a UFO if it flew over their telescope. 


A pilot's life depends on his ability to identify traffic in the air around him. Pilots also can backup their visual sightings with radar, as in many of these cases:


http://www.ufoevidence.org/topics/pilotsightings.htm


Also check out:


http://www.narcap.org

wgalison
wgalison

@bobunf  Astronomers are not equipped or inclined to view moving vehicles in the earth's atmosphere. so your figures are meaningless. 


People who DO have expertise in this area are flight controllers, pilots, astronauts and military personnel, and thousands of these people have reported visual, radar and photographic evidence of UFOs for decades. 



mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

@slappy The lights I saw were to the northeast of Chandler, not to the west or southwest, where flares dropped over the Goldwater range can be seen. They remained in a perfect horizontal plan, unlike aerial flares, which break their plane soon after being released. I have seen plenty of aerial flares as well as flares from artillery illumination rounds and the lights I observed were not from flares. They did not burn brightly, they were in the wrong direction to be over the Goldwater range and they were amber lights that remained in a perfect horizontal plane as long as I could observe them. There were no navigational lights. So whatever I saw were not flares, nor were they aircraft. I don't know what they were. They were an interesting phenomena.

nonlethal2
nonlethal2

@slappy Those were amazing flares.  They must have been dropped over Henderson, NV, made it to Kingman, Prescott, Phoenix, and on to Tucson.   Not to mention the sightings happened on several occasions.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@mikefrombisbee  

The observers were all humans, and humans are all subject to misinterpreting visual information, particularly points of light in a dark sky.  The human brain tries very hard to make patterns out of what it sees, and will tweak the input if necessary to make  individual points become a single object.

donnied1
donnied1

You know you are a moron, right?

bobunf
bobunf

@wgalison “astronomers observe infinitesimal spots of sky” 


I suppose that’s why they call them things like “All Sky Survey…”  As in:

Optical

National Geographic Society – Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (NGS–POSS) - survey of the northern sky on photographic plates, 1948–1958

CfA Redshift Survey A program from Harvard-Smithonian Center for Astrophysics. It began in 1977 to 1982 then from 1985 to 1995.

Digitized Sky Survey - optical all-sky survey created from digitized photographic plates, 1994

Sloan Digital Sky Survey - an optical and spectroscopic survey, 2000-2006 (first pass)

Photopic Sky Survey - a survey with 37,440 individual exposures, 2010-2011

Palomar Distant Solar System Survey (PDSSS)

WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey(2006-2011)used the Australian Astronomical Observatory

Dark Energy Survey(DES) Is a survey about one-tenth of the sky to find clues to the characteristics of dark energy.-





mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

@valleynative @mikefrombisbeeThat is one possible explanation. Another is that commercial pilots, private pilots, air traffic controllers, military radar operators, USAF security policemen, astronauts, cosmonauts, police officers and the countless other witnesses to unexplained phenomena have seen something that has no ready explanation. I am not asserting that what I saw or anyone else saw that night or on any other occasion is an extraterrestrial vehicle. I also know the difference between flares and things that aren't flares, lights on aircraft and lights that aren't on aircraft. I was trained to identify different types of aircraft and vehicles as a field artillery forward observer so I wouldn't call in artillery fire on friendlies or report bad intel. That training required me to be able to report targets accurately at distance and to be able to give bearings and elevation accurately to targets in varying degrees of visibility. And yet, as you say, the mind can play tricks. It can also be quite accurate in assessing what it sees. .

wgalison
wgalison

@valleynative @mikefrombisbee  


Major Gordon Cooper, Mercury astronaut, did not see points of light in the night sky: 


He stated: 


"I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe."


"We thought they could have been Russian ¬ we regularly had MiG-15s overflying our base. We scrambled our Sabre jets to intercept and got to our ceiling of 45,000 feet . . . and they were still way above us traveling faster than we were.” 


"These vehicles were in formation like a fighter group, but they were metallic silver and saucer-shaped. Believe me, they weren't like any MiGs I'd seen before! They had to be UFOs."

wgalison
wgalison

@donnied1  


I'd rather be called a moron by you, and be in the company of Jimmy Carter, Gordon Cooper, Allen Hynek, Edgar Mitchell, Michio Kaku and thousands of other scientists, military leaders astronauts, astronomers and intellectuals who believe we are being visited by a non-human intelligence, than be called a genius and be in the company of the nitwit who wrote this article and you. There are no serious scientists who can deny the possibility, and many who believe that the phenomenon is real. 


I'd recommend reading a book on the subject. Do you read?


http://richarddolanpress.com/21stcentury/

bobunf
bobunf

Underwater neutrino telescopes:

Baikal (1993 on)

ANTARES (2006 on)


Underice neutrino telescopes :

AMANDA (1996–2009, superseded by IceCube)

IceCube (2004 on)


Underground neutrino telescopes:

Soudan lab, in Soudan, Minnesota

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

GALLEX (1991–1997; ended)


bobunf
bobunf

Infrared

Infrared Astronomical Satellite did an all sky survey at 12, 25, 60, and 100 μm, 1983

The 2-micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS), a ground based all sky survey at J, H, and Ks bands (1.25, 1.65, and 2.17 μm) 1997-2001

Akari (Astro-F) a Japanese mid and far infrared all-sky survey satellite, 2006–2008

Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) was launched in December 2009 to begin a survey of 99% of the sky at wavelengths of 3.3, 4.7, 12, and 23 μm. The telescope is over a thousand times as sensitive as previous infrared surveys. The initial survey, consisting of each sky position imaged at least eight times, was completed by July 2010.

SCUBA-2 All Sky Survey

VISTA - Several Surveys (VVV, VIKING, VHS, etc.)


Radio

HIPASS - Radio survey, the first blind HI survey to cover the entire southern sky. 1997-2002

Ohio Sky Survey - Over 19,000 radio sources at 1415 MHz. 1965-1973.

NVSS - Survey at 1.4 GHz mapping the sky north of -40 deg

FIRST - Survey to look for faint radio sources at twenty cms.(see http://sundog.stsci.edu/index.html )

PALFA Survey - On-going 1.4 GHz survey for radio pulsars using the Arecibo Observatory.

GALEX Arecibo SDSS Survey GASS designed to measure the neutral hydrogen content of a representative sample of ~1000 massive, galaxies

C-BASS - On-going 5 GHz all sky survey to aid in the subtraction of galactic foregrounds from maps of the Cosmic Microwave Background


mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

@FreeTheWeed You can laugh all you want but if you want to git yer E.T. freak on this summer, come down here on June 19 for Close Encounter Night, when the Roswell Invaders of the Pecos League of Professional Base Ball Clubs takes on the Bisbee Blue at 104-year -old Warren Ballpark. There will lots of other-worldly stuff happening on the field and off that night and temperature at game time (7 p.m.) will be somewhere in the vicinity of 75 degrees. Unlike you poor sods up in the Valley, we don't need no stinkin' roof and air conditioning to play baseball. And OUR ballyard,unlike that big-box abortion located in downtown Phoenix, has one helluva history (including the Billy Martin-Clint Courtney feud, the Black Sox, the NY Giants and ChiSox on their 1913-14 World Tour, etc.)  If UFOS don't do it for ya, try May 20, on Keep Bisbee Bizarre night, with some truly unforgettable events planned by myself and Doug Stanhope. Also planned for May 18 is George Warren Night, a recreation of the infamous alcohol-soaked race between George Warren (the miner depicted on AZ's state seal, the namesake for the Warren neighborhood and our ballpark and the first person to file mining claims in the Mule Mountains) who drunkenly bet the equivalent of $20 million that he could outrun a horse in a footrace. This time, to even the odds in the race around the base paths, the horse has to drink, too.  For info, go to www.pecosleague.com and www.friendsofwarrenballpark.com.

So go ahead and laugh. While you're sweating your ass off this summer we'll be watching "under the stars" baseball and laughing our asses off at Bisbee's Real Field of Dreams.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@mikefrombisbee @valleynative 

Yes, that's possible.  The preponderance of evidence favors human misperception.  Training in making judgments based on small amounts of visual information actually tends to result in more noise being misperceived as something similar to a known target.


wgalison
wgalison

@DonkeyHotay  


We agree about a): there is no possibility that these vehicles were terrestrial. But Gordon Cooper (and hundreds of other military pilots and radar operators) have seen them, so how do you explain that?


As for b) c) and d), I'm afraid you are just wrong. 


Here's Michio Kaku explaining the principal of Superluminal travel


http://www.dump.com/possiblespeed/


And NASA is working on making it practical:


http://techland.time.com/2012/09/19/nasa-actually-working-on-faster-than-light-warp-drive/


My brother Peter Galison is the Pelligrino Professor at Harvard University, world renowned Einstein and relativity expert and former head of the History of Science Department with a PhD in Physics. 


He is aware of what competent physicists believe, and he knows that superluminal travel is taken very seriously. 


Contact him if you like.



wgalison
wgalison

@DonkeyHotay  


@DonkeyHotay  


We agree about a): there is no possibility that these vehicles were terrestrial. But Gordon Cooper (and hundreds of other military pilots and radar operators) have seen them, so how do you explain that?


As for b) c) and d), I'm afraid you are just wrong. 


Here's Michio Kaku explaining the principal of Superluminal travel


http://www.dump.com/possiblespeed/


And NASA is working on making it practical:


http://techland.time.com/2012/09/19/nasa-actually-working-on-faster-than-light-warp-drive/


My brother Peter Galison is the Pelligrino Professor at Harvard University, world renowned Einstein and relativity expert and former head of the History of Science Department with a PhD in Physics. 


He is aware of what competent physicists believe, and he knows that superluminal travel is taken very seriously. 


Contact him if you like.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@wgalison @DonkeyHotay  


a) the odds are a BILLION BILLION to one -- if said "vehicles" did actually exist -- that they were of terrestrial origin. 


b) no credible, competent physicist believes in faster than light travel. Not one.


c) and faster-than-light travel was impossible 200 years ago, 50 years ago, today, and forever.


d) Fermi paradox ... read it, study it, comprehend it.

wgalison
wgalison

@DonkeyHotay @wgalison  


a) Where exactly do you think these vehicles came from that vastly outperformed the most advanced planes of the US or Russia in 1952 (or now for that matter)?


b) Many physicists believe that super luminal travel is possible, given sufficient energy. 


c) 50 years ago, cell phones were a "near impossibility". 200 years ago electric power was a "near impossibility".  



ET's could be BILLIONS of years more advanced than we are today.




DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@wgalison  " a fleet of vehicles traveling higher and faster than anything our military had at that time. "


What's that got to do with the near impossibility of Aliens visiting Earth?



wgalison
wgalison

@valleynative @wgalison  


Oh for God's sakes;


I said nothing about anything odd in Arizona. I quoted Gordon Cooper. an air force major fighter pilot who became one of the first "Right Stuff" astronauts because of his intellectual, technical, physical and psychological superiority who reported seeing, and capturing on radar, a fleet of vehicles traveling higher and faster than anything our military had at that time. 


What does that have to do with "pattern forming"?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@wgalison  


This actually illustrates that pattern-forming tendency of the brain, in that, without critical thinking training, it tends to believe that if somebody saw something odd in Europe, and somebody else saw something odd in Arizona, that they must be the same things.


wgalison
wgalison

@DonkeyHotay @wgalison  


Great hypothesis. If scientists believed that hypothesis, the wouldn't be spending millions searching for signs of life on other planets, 

 
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