By Douglas Dean Johnson
@ddeanjohnson on Twitter
Original publication date: April 29, 2022. The most recent update was on June 5, 2023 (see list of changes at the bottom of the article).
"[Kevin Knuth, Ph.D., physicist] plans on writing a scientific paper on UAP characteristics using the [October 5, 1985 Ray] Stanford image in the near future where the film and images will be put through proper and rigorous study." – "Here Is What You Need to Know About UFOs According to the AIAA Aviation Conference," by Christopher Plain, Debrief, August 20, 2021
"Please tell me, Doug [Douglas Dean Johnson], do you have a PhD?? Because if not, let PhD scientists judge any paper through official peer review that my good friend Kevin [Knuth] may or may not be writing, for some journal, with or without me." – Matthew Szydagis, Ph.D., physicist, December 1, 2021 (e-mail to the author, in response to author's inquiry) [Update: In emails to the author on May 11, 2023, Prof. Szydagis wrote: "Douglas Dean Johnson makes a strong case against taking claims made by Ray Stanford seriously. I still think even extreme claims are worth investigating freely and openly, given the unknown nature of UAP, but Doug makes a fair point that given finite time and resources one must prioritize more probable ones....I personally have no plans for looking at the Stanford imagery, focusing instead on the UAPx data, where the data provenance is completely known."]
"I have recently become aware of various interviews in which Ray Stanford has painted a picture of P.S.I. [Project Starlight International] and my participation therein that is very different from the reality I knew.... Many of these representations are great exaggerations, ranging into fiction." – Daniel H. Harris, Ph.D., astronomer, Research Director of Pr0ject Starlight International, 1977-1978, in an 11-page open letter dated December 7, 2021
"I was within yards of Stanford throughout [a Stanford-claimed December 1975 UFO event that was included in a June 2021 Knuth-submitted slideshow]. Stanford's current claims that he communicated with the Air Force while the UFO was in view, that the Air Force told him that they were tracking the object and gave Stanford permission to fire a laser at it, are pure fiction.... Ray Stanford's sensationalistic claims regarding the December 10, 1975 event, fabricated long after the event as demonstrated by contemporary documentation, were submitted for presentation at a scientific gathering, with Ph.D. 'cover,' without any apparent attempt to independently investigate the implausible claims." -- Douglas Dean Johnson, April 29, 2022. [For details, see Section 6 of the article below.]
"[O]ne night a gigantic craft -- and I remember well the scene, and how it appeared -- a gigantic craft, probably at least 200 feet tall . . .landed at Telos, and it was an expedition from outside the Earth." -- Ray Stanford (age 36), recalling his claimed clear memory of witnessing an alien ship landing on Earth 38,000 years ago, in a lecture he gave on "Psychic Archeology," attended and recorded by Douglas Dean Johnson on August 22, 1974 .
On October 5, 1985, Ray Stanford took a Super 8 color movie of something(s) in the afternoon sky over Corpus Christi, Texas. In Stanford's accounts, eight non-human craft moved in progression across the sky, several of them providing singular and awe-inspiring displays of astonishing unknown technologies.
On-the-record corroboration or independent documentation for such an event is lacking. Nevertheless, beginning last year, individual images derived from Stanford's film, and associated exotic claims, have been widely disseminated. Physicist Kevin Knuth, Ph.D., included images from the film in a presentation at a forum on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) on August 6, 2021; the presentation has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube. Knuth subsequently publicly promised preparation of a scientific paper on the film.
I believe that the presentation of these unsubstantiated images and claims to the public was ill-advised, particularly in view of Ray Stanford's six-decade-plus history of disseminating a great many UFO-alien-related claims that have collapsed under critical scrutiny, been repudiated by Stanford himself, or that otherwise can be shown to be false. For example, Stanford earlier provided to Knuth graphic depictions and startling claims regarding a December 10, 1975 "UFO" event, labeled the "LASER STRIKE EVENT." I know that the account provided by Stanford was heavily fictionalized, because I was present for the event itself. In Section 6 of this article, I present some of the contemporary records that demonstrate that the most sensational aspects of Stanford's presentation were fabricated or imagined by Stanford long after the event.
Over the past quarter-century Ray Stanford has earned public recognition and scientific distinctions for his discoveries of fossils in Maryland. Those accomplishments are genuine and admirable; his attempts to exploit that recognition to peddle unsubstantiated, discredited, and/or falsified UFO-evidence claims are not admirable, in my view. Attempts by others to transfer Stanford's paleontological credibility to his unsubstantiated UFO-related evidence claims do not survive scrutiny of the details regarding the latter subject matter.
For about 20 years, until about age 40, Stanford made his living primarily a self-styled psychic "channel," through whom (while "unconscious") numerous entities were deemed to speak at length, including ostensible extraterrestrial persons such as "Aramda of the Watchers." Among the projects encouraged by such purported entities during that period was construction of a time-travel machine called the Hilaron Accelerator, which Stanford promoted and for which he at times solicited funds at least as late as 1976 (at age 37). Other eyebrow-elevating examples abound, and I have written on some of them in detail elsewhere.
Belatedly, forensic examination of the October 5, 1985 movie film, and of the camera and the lens, should be conducted by persons completely independent of Stanford, who possess the diverse and uncommon technical skillsets to properly address the issues raised in the "Questions" section of this article. Digital copies of the full motion picture (not just cherry-picked frames) should be made and distributed to multiple analysts. In addition, the lengthy and variant accounts of the event provided by Stanford in multiple interviews, years ago, should be examined in total, compared to each other and to independent references, and compared to the film in total– as opposed to narrowing the focus to single frames that some deem to provide support for their pet theories.
In this article, I present detailed and documented contextual facts. I also lay out multiple questions. I believe that both the contextual facts and the questions ought to be fully considered by any responsible author, co-author, editor, peer-reviewer, or journalist who seeks to fairly evaluate the purported October 5, 1985 event, the Super 8 film that came from that event, and the claims and extrapolations that have been developed by some on the basis of inadequate investigation and fragmentary data.
THE EVENT AS REPORTED BY RAY STANFORD
As described in lengthy accounts by Stanford (linked and/or embedded below), Stanford and his two eldest children, who were ages 4 and 7, were on a long pier jutting out into Corpus Christi bay from nearby E.B. Cole Park, on a sunny Saturday afternoon (October 5, 1985). The children spotted "a strange object" approaching from the northeast, which Stanford estimated to be "about a mile high." Stanford started filming the object with a Super 8 movie camera with a 10-power telephoto lens. He later described the object as a "disc...with the dome pointing in the opposite direction from its direction of travel." On the forward side, he said, was a sort of "girded tower," and around the flange "six emitters" that were "emitting blue-green flames."
Stanford said that the first object came on until it was "a little bit southeast of overhead, then it started climbing...like it was going into outer space and disappeared..."
A second and similar object quickly appeared on the same path, and then others in succession– "a total of eight objects, I believe, in the event, but I only had film to record four of them," Stanford said in a 2003 interview. Stanford said the last object differed in appearance, likening it to "a three-dimensional figure-eight shape."
Stanford has claimed that several of the objects were seen, visually and/or later on images taken from the developed film, to have engaged in startling displays. These elements of the story vary from interview to interview; different interviews speak of different displays.
For example, in a Paracast interview on April 1, 2012, Stanford asserted that one craft extended "one of the classical so-called solid light beams," and that "this beam was releasing smaller objects." ("I got a complete film of this in broad daylight," Stanford said.)
Stanford had spoken of this purported display at least as early as a post on an internet mailing list (listserv) called UFO Updates on August 1, 2004, in which he wrote that "...slowly progressing beams of various types are commonplace in UFO literature, and I even got a nice daylight movie of a UFO 'projecting' and, later, 'retracting' such a beam (electric blue with magenta nodes), on October 5, 1985, at the Corpus Christi, Texas, bay-front, filmed from the Emerald Cove breakwater pier, with five others there watching what was happening and watching me making a movie of it through a 10-X lens."
In an interview with writer Christopher O'Brien (undated but apparently conducted in the 2002-2007 period), Stanford also said that as the first object approached, it instantly tripled in apparent size, in a manner seeming unrelated to any change in distance, and that this too was captured on the film.
On images derived from the developed film, Stanford and some others believe they see evidence that one or more of the objects projected some manner of narrow energy beam forward into its path. "What we have on that film, in my opinion...could explain how UFOs could travel at hypersonic speed and not produce a shock wave," Stanford said in one interview. I do not believe that I have yet encountered an interview in which Stanford claimed to have visually observed this effect during the event, even under the 10-power magnification of his telephone lens.
Still, this "beam ahead" aspect of the images has become the major focus of most of the public discourse about the film in recent years. UFO writer Christian Lambright devoted much of his 2011 e-book X Descending to claims about the perceived energy beam. Lambright referred to the filmed object or objects by the term "beam ship." More recently, physicist Kevin Knuth, Ph.D., has suggested publicly that the derived images might show a "plasma beam ahead," as well as a "plasma sheath," and might even be evidence of "warp drive." As far as I can tell, neither man has made public reference to the other highly anomalous phenomena that Stanford has claimed are recorded on the same film – e.g., the solid-light tube from which smaller craft emerged, or the sudden increase in size.
Stanford's October 5, 1985 moving picture has never been made public, and it remains unclear who other than Ray Stanford has ever actually viewed it as a moving picture. However, during 2021 still images derived from the film were shared by Knuth in two different public venues, as discussed below.
For those who are not inclined to review many pages or hours of interviews, such as those linked near the bottom of this article, I've pulled one eight-minute clip out of a April 1, 2012 Paracast program, in which Stanford (in the company of Lambright) presented a fairly coherent narration of some of the major elements of the story, including the solid-light-tube account. In all, the complete Paracast program, at 2.6 hours [linked and embedded in the list of sources at the end of this article] is the best single source to hear most of Stanford's claims about what happened on or shortly after the October 5, 1985 incident, although not every remarkable claim is found even in this lengthy presentation.
Ray Stanford has said there were "about 400 people around," and "I think hundreds must have seen it." Yet, I am not aware of any on-record account of this incident, nor any document referring to or recording it in any way, that was produced independently of Stanford's telling of the story. While Knuth and others have referred to the case as "multi-witness," we have testimony from no other witness. I discuss this lack of true corroboration in the "Questions" section below.
So, did Ray Stanford really capture images potentially containing information of great value to science– images of at least one plasma-projecting alien beam ship? Or is this story a construct of extrapolations of data so fragmentary and doubtful that nothing of true value will be extracted after thorough and exacting investigation?
I hold no PhD – and yet, I have some well-informed questions on this matter, and some very pertinent contextual facts. They are, in my view, among the questions and contextual facts that ought to be considered carefully by any author, co-author, editor, peer-reviewer, forensic analyst, field investigator, or journalist who is considering whether anything useful to science can be extracted from the Ray Stanford film.
WHO IS RAY STANFORD?
Ray Stanford, currently age 83, has a very long history (going back to the mid-1950s) of making innumerable claims involving personal encounters with UFOs and aliens. These include claims to telepathic communications with physical aliens in nearby alien craft. They also involve Stanford's one-time practice, over a period of more than two decades and at least up to age 40, of "channeling" (while in an "unconscious state") multiple ostensible elevated beings, including "Aramda of the Watchers" and others identified as extraterrestrials by Stanford at the time. (During the 1970s, a nonprofit organization with a national membership, the Association for the Understanding of Man, A.U.M., was centered on Stanford's purported extraordinary psychic powers as a trance-psychic.)
In more recent decades, Stanford has often made statements about some of his own past activities related to UFOs and aliens, and regarding his 20-plus year career as a "psychic channel," that range from misleading to utterly and demonstrably false. Therefore, in evaluating any particular Stanford claim regarding a past UFO-alien-related event, it is important to not simply accept the representations of Stanford (or those who repeat what Stanford told them), but to seek out independent sources with knowledge pertinent to the evidence claims, and contemporary documents when possible.
Stanford's claimed personal UFO encounters and observations are impossible to count but certainly run at least into many scores, more likely hundreds. He claims to have personally taken "thousands" of frames of UFO images on emulsion films. In such frames – often greatly enlarged and manipulated in various ways – Stanford very often thinks he sees many astonishing things.
To cite just one of many possible examples: Stanford took a 35 mm black-and-white photo on October 15, 1984, that he has claimed, on recorded programs, shows an alien pilot sitting in his domed craft, "three or three-and-one-half feet tall" with "a bald head and pointed ears. You can see the alien pilot so clearly that "you can count the fingers on his hand," Stanford asserted in 2019 -- and he insists that this same negative also contains proof (to the discerning eye) that the alien craft had just traveled "either two-thirds or three-quarters of the speed of light in the atmosphere" as it approached Stanford's position. If that sounds crazy, it's because it is crazy– and there are a whole lot more crazy claims where that came from.
(By the way, for newcomers here, I write not as a reflexive UFO skeptic, but as a person who concluded in the 1960s that what appear to be elusive machines, apparently under intelligent control, displaying capacities beyond current human technology, have at times been credibly observed operating in Earth's atmosphere since at least the end of World War II, and perhaps much longer. I still think so.)
Across the nearly seven decades that Stanford has spoken and acted publicly on UFO-alien matters, I cannot point to a single really "interesting" Stanford claim, related to his personally obtained "evidence" regarding UFOs or aliens, that has ever been validated by credible, independent analysts. While some people regard Stanford as an expert on the famous 1964 Socorro, New Mexico, Lonnie Zamora case, each of Stanford's unique claims about that case have also collapsed under scrutiny (as I discussed, for example, here and here and here).
Over the past several years, I have written quite a bit about Ray Stanford's history on matters pertaining to UFOs and aliens. In a September 2021 article titled Wild & Woolly Alien Claims Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to Ray Stanford, I laid out an overview of the Stanford alien saga that I hope was both informative and entertaining. In that piece, I incorporated or uploaded many Stanford-related documents, images, and audio clips from the 1950s through about 2003, some of which may be real eye-openers for those who have only encountered Stanford in his most recent presentations (although truly, I barely scratched the surface),
More recently, in December 2021, I posted an article separating fact from Stanford-generated legend regarding Project Starlight International (P.S.I.), incorporating a new eleven-page letter from Daniel Harris, Ph.D. (astronomy), who served as research director for Project Starlight International in 1977-1978. As explained there, I also was extensively involved with Project Starlight International for a period of about three and one-half years, during the 1970s.
Earlier, in a series of "Ray Stanford Close Up" essays (written under the pen name Justice Fodor to protect the innocent, which I discarded as no longer necessary in mid-2021), I drilled down into some specific Stanford escapades (such as his intermittent promotion, over a period of 15 years or more, of a scheme to build a kind of time machine called "The Hilaron Accelerator"). Those posts also are heavily laden with old documents and audio files. Many additional such resources reside in archives that I control, available to good-faith inquirers researching specific issues related to Stanford's UFO-alien-related claims, Project Starlight International, or the Association for the Understanding of Man.
DO RAY STANFORD'S FOSSIL DISCOVERIES LEND CREDIBILITY TO HIS UFO-ALIEN CLAIMS?
It should be noted that Stanford has interests unrelated to UFOs and aliens. Of these, the pursuit that has brought him the widest attention is finding fossils. Over the past quarter-century or more, Stanford has had extraordinary success in finding fossils in Maryland (which I consider entirely admirable), including a 2012 discovery that some have referred to as "the Rosetta Stone of the Cretaceous," a reproduction of which is now on display at the Smithsonian.
There are some people – led by Stanford himself– who assert that Stanford's fossil discoveries, and several scientific papers based on those discoveries and co-authored by Stanford, impart credibility to his evidence claims related to UFOs and alien technology. Some people in the UFO field who find themselves attracted to one or another of Stanford's "UFO" images, are quick to respond to questions about his credibility with references to the fossil discoveries. Given the amount of documentation available on Stanford's track record on UFOs and aliens, this is at best a lazy non sequitur. In some cases it seems to reflect a desire (perhaps unconscious) to don blinders, in other cases to deflect the attention of others away from the details of Stanford's long history of making delusional and discredited UFO-alien-related claims.
No presumption of transferable credibility can survive objective examination of Stanford's many unsupportable past claims regarding personally obtained "UFO" evidences, physical samples of alien technology, communications with and channeling of aliens, and all the rest. The devil is indeed in the details – and today, I will provide a few new pertinent details.
I state here plainly that I think Stanford's documented history of making claims regarding personally obtained UFO evidences and samples (and regarding personal UFO-alien encounters both physical and psychic), that retrospectively have been or can be shown to be demonstrably misleading, subjective, and/or deceptive, ought to be regarded as sufficient to disqualify Stanford ten times over as a UFO-evidence data-source. It seems likely to me that in any established field of science, such a sordid history on the pertinent subject matter would be considered disqualifying by, for example, the editors of most specialized scientific journals.
But since at least a couple of respectable scientists, the last I heard, continue to entertain Ray Stanford a source of possibly credible and useful evidence regarding UFOs and alien technology, at least with respect to his claims related to October 5, 1985, I will lay out what I consider to be important questions about that particular event and the purported evidence. First, however, it is necessary to say a little about how the October 5, 1985 Stanford film and story came to be a particular focus of attention.
CHRISTIAN LAMBRIGHT AND HIS 2011 E-BOOK X DESCENDING
Christian Lambright, who lives in Texas, has been involved in UFO-related pursuits for many years. He has known Stanford since 1984. In his 2011 e-book X Descending, Lambright wrote that in early 1986 he visited Stanford and viewed "still frames from the film" (slides) (not the October 5, 1985 movie itself).
Lambright immediately convinced himself that the still images showed "a bright beam projecting forward from the center of the disc and extending for some distance ahead. It was clear from this and other images I saw, all still frames from the film, that the beam was pulsing, because its length varied in different frames. A plasma-like glow appeared to build up on the front surface of the disc, then coalesce inside a faint structure at the center, and rapidly pulse forward forming the narrow beam."
As near as I can tell from the book and various interviews, Lambright immediately concluded that he knew what he was seeing and understood it as tremendously significant. It appears that he knew these things without a forensic analysis of the film, and without analysis of the complicated lens system and possible artifacts, and without a field investigation of the purported incident, or any other such burdensome chores, because he believes that he possesses an internal "bullshit meter" or intuition that serves as his guide on such matters.
In my view, Lambright's book is a case study in confirmation bias– replete with passages such as, "At the end of 2002 I visited Ray again...The latest computer enhanced images he had made from the film were far and away the most amazing yet."
Lambright later also became convinced that a scientist-engineer named Leik Myrabo had been inspired by the Stanford images to design an experiment that led to a "breakthrough" involving a novel aeronautical concept. I discuss this subplot at the very end of this article.
Understandably, given his conclusions, Lambright often urged Stanford to release images from the film to the public. To Lambright's frustration, Stanford declined to release images until various shifting contingencies were satisfied. This is typical of Stanford. Stanford's specific UFO-evidence films have seldom been made available for truly independent and competent scrutiny, and on the few occasions of which I am aware on which that has occurred, Stanford's claims have fared badly – for example, his claim to have obtained non-terrestrial metal scrapings from the anomalous egg-craft reported by policeman Lonnie Zamora at Socorro, New Mexico, in 1964.
Perhaps partly in an attempt to prod Stanford, in 2011 Lambright published X Descending, a substantial portion of which he devoted to his beliefs about the Stanford film. Since the book project apparently was not "authorized," so to speak, the book did not contain even a single digital image from the October 5, 1985 Super 8 film, but merely color illustrations "drawn from memory" by Lambright himself! However, Stanford clearly approved of the book and illustrations after the fact – for example, the two appeared together on a 2.5-hour Paracast program on April 1, 2012, during which Stanford held forth on the October 5, 1985 event and the film at greater length than on any other occasion of which I am aware.
Notably, during that program Lambright said that he thought that Stanford's interpretations and explanations were essential to proper understanding of what is recorded on the movie film. "There are certain details which Ray needs to be there to explain," Lambright said. (Paracast interview at 45 min.)
RAY STANFORD-BASED IMAGES AND CLAIMS AT THE JUNE 2021 SCU CONFERENCE
The Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies is a nonprofit organization devoted to evidence-based research into unidentified aerial phenomena. It had an annual conference scheduled for June 5-6, 2021, for which attendance was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the scheduled speakers was Kevin Knuth, Ph.D., a physicist and associate professor on the faculty of the University at Albany (State University of New York).
Only a few days before the conference, Knuth submitted a 67-slide slideshow in PDF format titled, "The Physical Observables of UAPs." Like other such resources submitted by scheduled speakers, the PDF was posted on a website to which access was limited to paid conference pre-registrants (of which I was one). On June 3, I downloaded my copy. On the first slide, Knuth, Matthew Szydagis, and Ray Stanford were listed as co-authors.
Szydagis, who holds a Ph.D. in physics, is an associate professor of physics on the same faculty as Knuth. Displayed on the slide were the logos of three entities with which the two PhDs were personally affiliated – SUNY at Albany, UAPx, and SCU.
Stanford was listed as affiliated with "Project Starlight International," and the logo of Project Starlight International also appeared on the slide. Project Starlight International (P.S.I) was a project of a small nonprofit organization in the 1970s, but that nonprofit entity was effectively dissolved about 1982. Incidentally, Stanford has no college degrees.
Both Knuth and Szydagis have lengthy vitas packed with scientific achievements not connected to UAP. For example, Knuth is editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Entropy, while Szydagis is a key mover in certain dark-matter research projects. In addition to all that, both men also have invested substantial time and energy to UAP-focused studies. I have never seen anything to indicate, nor have I ever suggested, that their engagement in studying UAP is motivated by anything other than a spirit of genuine scientific curiosity – in my opinion, they believe that the subject matter is important, and they seek to increase scientific attention and understanding of the phenomena. All of that weighs heavily to their credit, in my book. I also stipulate that both men have contributed and no doubt will continue to contribute in a number of positive ways to the investigation of this perplexing subject.
However, it is also my considered personal opinion that Knuth and Szydagis displayed poor judgment with respect to claims about UFOs and alien tech originating with Ray Stanford, whose manifest unreliability on such matters is amply documented. Moreover, if a scientist is going to entertain purported evidence from such source previously shown to have grossly distorted "data," then in my opinion it compounds the error to lend credibility to such highly suspect data by submitting it to large audiences, thereby at least implicitly covering it with a sheen of scientific credibility, prior to thorough, competent, and independent investigations of both original images and the associated stories.
The slideshow submitted by Knuth for presentation at the June 2021 SCU conference included 67 slides in all, of which 22 slides appeared to be either produced by Stanford or explanatory of his images and stories-- most of those pages imprinted with Stanford copyright claims. (All use in this essay is lawful under Title 17 U.S. Code Sec. 107, Fair Use, for purposes of commentary and criticism.)
These 22 Stanford slides contained 42 separate photographic images provided by Stanford (counting as separate images versions of the same image digitally manipulated in different ways, e.g., contrast settings), encompassing six purported UFO events at which Stanford had been present. At five of these, Stanford himself claimed to have obtain photographic (emulsion-based) evidence. Four of these involved color films in Super 8, a small-frame home-movie format popular decades ago. The slides also contained text setting forth a number of imaginative interpretations of exotic things Stanford believes are revealed in patterns of enlarged and often enhanced grain structure from selected frames. One of these five incidents was the primary focus of this article– the event that occurred at Corpus Christi, Texas, on October 5, 1985, to which eight slides were devoted.
RAY STANFORD'S DEMONSTRABLE FABRICATIONS REGARDING THE CLAIMED UFO ENCOUNTER OF DECEMBER 10, 1975, FOR WHICH I WAS PRESENT AND POSSESS CONTEMPORARY RECORDS
Before zooming in on the Corpus Christi event, however, we must spend some time on the matter of a sixth event depicted in the June 2021 slideshow– an event at which I was personally present and took photos, as did a number of other persons associated with Project Starlight International. The event occurred on December 10, 1975, beginning at about 8:58 PM local time, at the Project Starlight rural research site near Lake Travis, northwest of Austin, Texas. I possess detailed contemporary records relating to the incident. I consider the event to have been very likely prosaic, while Stanford then and now considered it be a UFO encounter, but the important thing to get across here is that the version that appeared in the slideshow submitted to SCU had been heavily fictionalized – by which I mean, enhanced by sensational elements that Stanford added to the story long after the fact. And I can prove it.
As the story is told in the submission to SCU, as a UFO hovers in the distant night sky for about 8 minutes, Stanford telephones "the Bergstrom Air Force Base Command Post" in Austin; the Air Force tells Stanford that they are aware of the UFO (e.g., are tracking it) "but could not identify it"; the Air Force authorizes Ray Stanford to shoot a laser at the UFO ("After contacting the Bergstrom AFB and obtaining permission, the team aimed a HeNeLaser at the UFO"); and a time-exposure photo shows the laser hitting the UFO ("caught the object and was scattered from it").
I was within yards of Stanford throughout this event. Stanford's current claims that he communicated with the Air Force while the UFO was in view, that the Air Force told him that they were tracking the object and gave Stanford permission to fire a laser at it, are pure fiction.
Stanford's claim as presented in the SCU submission that a time-exposure photo shows a laser striking the "UFO" ("LASER STRIKE EVENT") is almost surely erroneous, and it certainly directly contradicts unequivocal declarations that Stanford made on that very point weeks after the event, both in writing and on audio tape.
It is true that during the event, Stanford, in an excited state, was at times attempted to direct a small laser towards the distant object, but a printed Stanford release sent out to "UFO research colleagues" a few weeks later (reproduced below) explicitly stated that a "burst-like effect cannot be explained as a reflection of laser beam off object because laser beam was actually projecting an estimated 20 to 30 degrees to the west from the object's position during this exposure (verified by photo made using a camera with wider angle lens and taken during part of this photo's exposure time)."
(Setting aside those specifics, I believe that the conclusion was correct – the little gap-scatter in the time-exposure track of the distant object was almost surely not produced by the little laser, but was probably the result of slightly bumping a tripod in the dark, or by a footfall on the adjacent ground.)
In an audio cassette recording sent to a list of "UFO research colleagues" on February 18, 1976, Stanford said, "We do not think it is a strong UFO case," but that information about it was being shared anyway because of some odd elements. Stanford also said that the laser could not have hit the object (consistent with the printed statement). Stanford also mentioned, accurately, that he had called the Bergstrom radar tower within an hour after the event, with Stanford telling the tower that the team had observed an object in the same apparent position for seven minutes; the response from the tower, as reported by Stanford, was that they did not bring their planes in along that path (which was not news to us). There was on this recording, of course, no mention by Stanford of the Air Force confirming tracking the object, or giving Stanford permission to shoot it with a laser (if any of those manifestly improbable things had really happened, we would have been talking about nothing else back then).
Take note: Ray Stanford's sensationalistic claims regarding the December 10, 1975 event, fabricated long after the event as demonstrated by contemporary documentation, were submitted for presentation at a scientific gathering, with Ph.D. 'cover,' without any apparent attempt to independently investigate the implausible claims.
Incidentally, I believed then and believe now that the object was probably a slow plane miles off, approaching on a steady heading, with a bright light facing our direction, before finally bearing off to our left – perhaps piloted by someone trying to have some fun with us (the UFO research site's location was well known to local pilots).
There is additional contemporary documentation on this case, but I think that what I have already presented here should more than suffice to give any objective observer a pretty clear picture of what we are dealing with here. In all, this is a good case study in the manner in which a prosaic or mildly interesting event invents morphs, under Ray Stanford's imaginative mental processes, into a story of an extraordinary happening– a story that, for the Stanford-gullible, then colors the interpretation of Stanford's photographic images by power of suggestion and confirmation bias. I have seen this process replay out repeatedly with various Stanford UFO-photo claims, over a period of 48 years, with a shifting cast of well-intended but naive facilitators.
I will describe another specific example later in this article.
As for the other Stanford-associated "UFO" events depicted in the June 2021 slideshow submitted to SCU, I have a substantial amount of information about some of them. For now, suffice to say that in my opinion Stanford's interpretations of the images ranged from highly subjective to utterly delusional. None of the remarkable claims made in the submission to the SCU are likely to yield scientifically useful information if subjected to a process of competent, independent, critical scrutiny, which was clearly lacking prior to the submission, in my opinion.
To return to the chronological narrative: After examining the scientists' submission to the SCU on June 3, 2021, I called to the attention of the members of SCU Executive Board the extent and nature of the Ray Stanford content in the slideshow, and offered some facts and opinions about of some of the material's manifest deficiencies, including the falsifications regarding the December 10, 1975 event. In fairly short order, members of the Executive Board in some fashion conveyed to Knuth that the Ray Stanford material was not suitable fare for the SCU platform. A statement was drafted and sent to conferees that retroactively declared the submission to be a "draft" containing unspecified material not endorsed by Knuth or Szydagis, and the PDF was withdrawn from the conference website on June 4. Of course, I believe that the withdrawal was appropriate – the mission statement of the SCU speaks of being "a foundation and resource for credible, objective, scientific peer reviewed content on the subject of UAP."
Yet, the fact remains that the 22 slides of Ray Stanford's images and claims were submitted by Knuth for intended video presentation to the scientific conference, and that is almost surely what would have occurred if I had not sounded the alarm.
In a report on the SCU conference published in Daily Grail (June 10, 2021), reporter Red Pill Junkie (Miguel Romero) wrote:
When I asked Mr. Johnson about his motivation in this matter [objecting to presentation of the Stanford material at the SCU conference], he explained his concern about the inclusion of Ray’s footage because –according to him– it consists of “extreme enlargements from negatives that have never been examined by independent experts” (but then, isn’t Knuth himself an ‘independent expert’?), and that he felt the inclusion of this material ran contrary to SCU’s mission statement to “share credible data with the public, the media, the government, and scientific institutions…to establish a foundation and resource for credible, objective, scientific peer reviewed content on the subject of UAP.”
It is a perfectly valid concern, and one that would have also been applicable if someone had chosen to include quotes and material from say, Bob Lazar, in a similar presentation (it’s also kind of surprising SCU wasn’t apparently aware of Ray’s reputation prior to Johnson’s complaint, or maybe they weren’t thoroughly aware Knuth was planning of showing his footage).I contacted Dr. Knuth himself to learn about his opinion on this apparent controversy. This was his reply to my email:
"As a professional scientist I am not accustomed to there being any controversy surrounding a canceled scientific presentation. Almost every scientific meeting I have gone to has at least one canceled or dramatically revised presentation. As a result, I am not sure what to say. After discussing the presentation with my colleagues it became clear that I needed to obtain additional evidence and documentation for a couple of topics I had planned on discussing. As a scientist, I am careful not to present material that is not fully backed-up. There is no controversy; only more work to be done."
With all due respect to Dr. Knuth, everything related to the UFO phenomenon is, by definition, subject to controversy. And it could very well be that thanks to the opportune intervention of Mr. Johnson, he and his SCU colleagues managed to dodge a bullet.
THE OCTOBER 5, 1985 EVENT AS PRESENTED IN THE WITHDRAWN JUNE 2021 SLIDESHOW
In the June 2021 slideshow, eight of the 22 Stanford-associated slides were devoted to the October 5, 1985 event. Here is one of the those eight slides, the caption of which incorporates the "Plasma Beam Ahead" terminology.
After the June 2021 SCU episode, it was my hope that the two scientists would refrain from further reliance on Ray Stanford as a source of UFO-alien tech "data." However, I was somewhat uneasy that at no point during that period (or later) did Knuth show any interest in getting into any detailed discussion with me regarding specific deficiencies in the Stanford material that he had submitted– not even regarding the December 10, 1975 incident to which I was a witness and possessor of contemporary records.
In contrast, on June 3 and 4, 2021, Szydagis repeatedly gave clear indications to me and to several others that, now that the nature and provenance of the Stanford content in the submission had been brought to his attention, he did not wish to be associated with it. Indeed, hours after the material was withdrawn from the SCU conference website on June 4, 2021, Szydagis emailed me, "I wanted to let you know you've convinced me about Ray -- thanks for saving my reputation and career; I really appreciate it.”
However, two months later, on August 6, 2021, to my surprise and disappointment, Szydagis' name appeared on a second slideshow presentation (on which Knuth was again the lead author), that again incorporated images from the Stanford incident of October 5, 1985, with interpretations placed on those particular Stanford images similar to some of the interpretations found in the June 2021 slideshow.
RAY STANFORD-RELATED CLAIMS IN KEVIN KNUTH'S AUGUST 6, 2021 PRESENTATION AT AIAA FORUM
On August 6, 2021, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) sponsored a forum on UAP during a major virtual conference. Six men were invited to give presentations, among them Knuth. Knuth spoke for nearly one half-hour on the topic "The Flight Characteristics and Physics of UAP," narrating a series of slides. Of that period, about four minutes were consumed by Knuth presenting and discussing three slides containing images derived from the October 5, 1985 Ray Stanford film, and one other slide related to interpretations of what the images possibly showed. All four of the Stanford-related slides are reproduced below from screenshots.
With respect to the Stanford-derived material, Knuth said, "I want to be clear that that imagery, here, has not been independently vetted. So we’ve not taken that to be authenticated. And so I want to be clear and honest about that-- although I have talked to people who have seen it, seen it in person, and Christian Lambright is one such person who was able to view the video or the movie just a few months after it was recorded."
A caption on two of the Stanford-related slides read "Imagery not independently vetted. The Super 8 film was viewed by Christian Lambright a few months after it was recorded."
(As noted above, Lambright's actual claim was that in early 1986 he had viewed projected slides and "still frames from the film," not a moving picture.)
Knuth then proceeded, from a prestigious platform, to offer these admitted "unvetted" images as possible illustrations of exotic effects – "plasma sheath," "plasma beam ahead," and perhaps even "warp drive."
Regarding the "plasma sheath," Knuth said, "So we found that this was really interesting-- first because it demonstrates the plasma sheath. You can see this blue glow around the metallic object. The shape of the plasma sheath is interesting, because it looks very similar to what you see in the Gimbal video."
Regarding the "plasma beam ahead," Knuth said, "this what appears to be happening here. And in fact, this is what Ray Stanford claimed he saw, is that he saw the plasma beam would come out from the plasma glow around the disc, and then the disc would fly forward toward the beam." (As I mentioned above, I've not found an interview in which Stanford clearly claimed to have seen this purported beam-ahead effect during the event, as opposed to later viewings of the images, but perhaps I have overlooked such a statement.)
[Author's note added May 11, 2023: UAP writer/researcher Marik von Rennenkampff, a former staffer at the State Department and the Defense Department, has written extensively on analyses of the Gimbal video. I asked him whether he and other Gimbal analysts with whom he works believe that the Gimbal video shows an object traveling in a "bottom-forward" or "tower-forward" orientation, as some have claimed. He replied, "The short answer is that, per high-confidence geometrical modeling of the 'Gimbal' incident, the object did not travel 'tower-forward.' For most of the video, the object's long axis is largely parallel to the ground/horizon as it decelerates rather rapidly. Rotation is associated with the object increasing velocity; but it is not flying tower-forward (quite the opposite, in fact)." (email to author, May 11, 2023)]
A verbatim transcript (in PDF) of only the Stanford-related portion of Knuth's August 6, 2021 presentation can be downloaded from the link below, which I suggest you review in concert with the Stanford-related slides, so that everything can be viewed in context, including the qualifications that Knuth attached.
I also encourage the reader to view the entire Knuth presentation, which as of this writing is still available on YouTube at a link inserted below.
KEVIN KNUTH's PROMISE OF A SCIENTIFIC PAPER ON THE OCT. 5, 1985 STANFORD FILM
Following the AIAA presentation, I publicly criticized Knuth's decision to use purported UFO-tech evidence from such a demonstrably unreliable source as Ray Stanford, admittedly "not independently vetted" and "not...authenticated." I also asserted that to do so was inconsistent with Knuth's June 2021 assurance (to Daily Grail), "As a scientist, am careful not to present material that is not fully backed up."
Some of my initial criticisms were quoted in a story that appeared on the tech-oriented website Debrief on August 20, 2021, written by head science writer Christopher Plain. The quotes were accurate and fair distillations of things that I said, although some key points didn't make it into the story. Naturally, Plain also communicated with Knuth, and reported:
In an email to The Debrief, researcher Douglas Johnson, who worked with Stanford on various UFO-related projects decades ago, pointed out that the video imagery by Stanford has never been independently vetted.
“What is lacking [is an] examination of negatives or direct-prints (and cameras and lenses) by technically competent persons with the appropriate backgrounds and equipment, who are truly independent of Ray Stanford, and persons with expertise in such fields as artifacts produced by shooting pictures through birefringent airplane windows,” Johnson explained via email. [The reference to airplane windows pertained to two Stanford films that were included in the Knuth-submitted June 2021 slideshow, not to the Corpus Christi film.]
Knuth himself noted the photo’s provenance issue, telling session attendees, “I want to be clear that that imagery here has not been independently vetted. So we’ve not taken that to be authenticated. And so, I want to be clear and honest about that.”
“The presentation contained much of value,” Johnson wrote in a follow-up email. “However, in my view, it was a serious error in judgment for Professor Knuth to include the images from a Super 8 movie from Ray Stanford. The disclaimers (“Imagery Not Independently Vetted,” etc.) didn’t really mitigate this, since Professor Knuth proceeded to discuss the Stanford images as examples of exotic [UAP] effects.”
“In my presentation for AIAA, despite the fact that some in the UFO community find Stanford to be controversial, I decided to include Stanford’s image of a UFO that he and his friends and family (4 adults and 2 children) observed at Emerald Cove Pier, Corpus Corpus Christi TX on October 5, 1985,” Knuth told The Debrief in an email when asked to comment. “I was very clear in my presentation that the imagery had not been independently vetted and authenticated. We have been unable to do this over the last year due to the pandemic, but that will soon be rectified.”
Knuth expressed disappointment that the UFO community was focusing on his inclusion of this image in his presentation, and that he worked with other researchers in the field to confirm the image was an original. He plans on writing a scientific paper on UAP characteristics using the Stanford image in the near future where the film and images will be put through proper and rigorous study.
[In above bloc quote, boldface was added by me for emphasis.]
Also on August 20, 2021, I posted an essay on the forum Alien Expanse, titled "Prof. Kevin Knuth presented dubious Ray Stanford UFO-evidence images and claims at the AIAA UAP forum. Why I think that was a big mistake." In that essay, I summarized my basic objections to Knuth's use of the purported UFO images from the October 5, 1985 film, but with much less detail than I am presenting in the "Questions" section below.
MATTHEW SZYDAGIS' RESPONSE REGARDING THE OCT. 5, 1985 RAY STANFORD FILM AND THE SCIENCE PAPER BASED ON IT
[Update to the material presented in this section: In emails to the author on May 11, 2023, Prof. Szydagis wrote: "Douglas Dean Johnson makes a strong case against taking claims made by Ray Stanford seriously. I still think even extreme claims are worth investigating freely and openly, given the unknown nature of UAP, but Doug makes a fair point that given finite time and resources one must prioritize more probable ones....I personally have no plans for looking at the Stanford imagery, focusing instead on the UAPx data, where the data provenance is completely known."]
The first slide in Knuth's August 6, 2021 presentation at the AIAA forum listed as co-authors Matthew Szydagis and David Mason, and in his opening remarks, Knuth acknowledged both men as having contributed. However, David Mason (an accomplished electrical engineer) later communicated to me that his contribution to the presentation was limited to certain interesting thermal images that he obtained in 2019, and that he had no knowledge of or involvement in the Ray Stanford material.
I was puzzled by Szydagis's name on the opening slide, since Szydagis had emailed me on June 4, 2021, after the Knuth-Szydagis-Stanford PDF was withdrawn, "I wanted to let you know you've convinced me about Ray -- thanks for saving my reputation and career; I really appreciate it.”
Finally, on December 1, 2021, I sent Szydagis a rather stiff, formal, inquiry by email, with the salutation "Dear Prof. Szydagis," in which I noted that his name had been on the AIAA presentation, and asked whether he intended also to be a co-author of the promised scientific paper on the Stanford film.
((I go to what some people at times consider excessive lengths to protect private communications, but this was in no sense a private or confidential inquiry: this was a question formally put to Szydagis after a six-month period during which I had been rather visible in turning out long and short writings criticizing various Ray Stanford UFO-evidence claims, and in particular raising questions about the Knuth's use of the Corpus Christi film at the AIAA forum, on multiple social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Alien Expanse, my UFO-themed blog Mirador, etc.), and in press interviews as quoted above. As I explained in the final sentence of my three-sentence inquiry to Szydagis, "I decided that this question needed to be asked now, especially since I noticed that Entropy's editorial standards state that co-authors agree 'to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.'"))
Later the same day, Szydagis responded with an eight-paragraph email, which alternated between arguments I considered illogical, and intemperate mischaracterizations regarding my activities. Yet, for all of that, Szydagis provided no definitive answer to my question. (Excerpt: "Please tell me, Doug, do you have a PhD?? Because if not, let PhD scientists judge any paper through official peer review that my good friend Kevin may or may not be writing, for some journal, with or without me.")
Szydagis did seem to concede problems with Stanford's overall credibility on UFO-related matters, but he sought to deflect them with what I would call a public-relations argument: "Even if you are right and 100% (instead of 99+%) of Ray's stuff is bunk, you are doing more harm than good, by e.g. going after Kevin's AIAA talk."
But that didn't mean Szydagis necessarily thought Stanford was 100% bunk, because Szydagis went on to defend the use of the Stanford images: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day (once if in 24-hour format :). Ray may be like that broken clock. I am willing to give him a chance." I confess that "even a broken clock is right twice day" is not a standard for data sourcing that I had ever expected to hear from a scientist.
But Szydagis went further: "Are you going to tell me that it is a massive coincidence that a photo Ray took in 1985 looks like the Navy Gimbal video (AND I may add the shape in a recent 'warp drive' paper in a leading physics journal?? AND like Myrabo's hypersonic plasma idea AND like a diagram in a French government UFO report?? Lots of coincidences there..."
In response to that line of argument, I respectfully suggest that such questions put a whole chain of carts in front of the horse. We don't know if the blobs on the tiny Super 8 frames of Ray Stanford's film really correlate with any other UAP images that might be better substantiated. As discussed in the "Questions" section below, we really know very little about what really happened on October 5, 1985, or what processes produced the indistinct and irregular shapes that we see in the cherry-picked digital images derived from the unseen movie taken during that event. We certainly cannot compare the movements of the Gimbal, which have been modeled with various computer programs, with the movements of the Corpus Christi objects, because we don't have any video of the Corpus Christi object(s) to compare, do we?
Szydagis also brought up Stanford's fossil work: "How many papers have you authored that made it into Nature? Because Ray has some– in paleontology." I have already touched on this non sequitur above and will not dwell on it further here. Suffice to say that each of Stanford's fossil discoveries were investigated thoroughly, "from the ground up" you might say, by top experts. The fossils were real; the resulting papers did not depend on accepting Stanford's subjective notions of what he "saw" in an enlarged grain structure, nor on his morphing stories of what happened on one day or another decades ago. It really is apples and oranges – or apples and rotten eggs.
Szydagis concluded his December 1, 2021 email to me with a statement that "if you start to attack * me * , I'll treat it legally as defamation and actions will be taken...p.s. Attack Ray all you want, but if you drag my name along (or Kevin's) you are making a massive mistake." [asterisks in original]
Some of these academics are remarkably thin skinned. In my view, I have not attacked anyone. These two men are grown up PhDs who have chosen of their own free wills to associate themselves publicly, if provisionally, with certain claimed UFO-alien evidences of Ray Stanford, including public suggestions that these images may provide evidence of technologies not invented by the human race. I deem the Stanford-derived claims to be highly suspect; I believe the reasons on which I base this judgment are compelling and ought not be brushed aside; and therefore, I have criticized the handling of the Stanford claims by these two scientists.
Further, I believe that my extensive knowledge of Stanford's long history of claims regarding UFO-alien matters, and likely unparalleled collection of pertinent documents, are more relevant here than my educational certificates. (My college degree is in journalism, if you must know.) I will note in passing that, to my knowledge, that during my more than three years of publishing extensive critiques of Ray Stanford's UFO-alien-related claims, Stanford has publicly disputed only one specific statement that I have made about him: On a podcast in 2019, he denied ever having solicited money to build a time machine. On that occasion, I immediately posted documents that he had written and an audio recording from one of his lectures on the Hilaron Accelerator, proving that his denial was a lie.
If in fact a scientific paper based on the October 5, 1985 incident/film eventually is produced as Knuth promised in the Debrief interview, I will read it with careful attention, including attention to the points raised in the "Questions" section below. However, if it should happen that I again disagree with the arguments or conclusions of Knuth (and Szydagis, should his name again appear as co-author on a Stanford-derived paper or presentation), I will freely point out contrary facts or express contrary opinions, and I will do so without being deterred by juvenile invective, snowflake buzzwords, blatant mischaracterizations of my activity, appeals to authority or credentials that I find inapposite or unpersuasive, or threats -- all of which I personally consider unfortunate departures from the standards that should govern in both science and journalism.
As to "defamation" – well, a PhD does not confer immunity from expressions of critical opinion. As to my statements regarding what I regard to be documented facts, truth is an adequate defense. Civil lawsuits, while they can be expensive (especially for those who file them on frivolous grounds), do have the virtue of providing mandatory processes for production of documents, including electronic communications, and for in-depth deposition interviews conducted under penalties of perjury. Although this formal adversarial process can be time consuming both in preparation and execution, these mandatory processes can be excellent tools for getting at the truth regarding disputed claims, in separating documentable events from unsupported claims and mischaracterizations, in establishing divergences between documents and verbal statements, and in clarifying the underlying relationships between various parties and witnesses.
SECTION 11: THE QUESTIONS SECTION
QUESTIONS FOR ANALYSTS (WITH SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION AND LINKED RESOURCES) REGARDING THE OCT. 5, 1985 RAY STANFORD "UFO" ("BEAM SHIP") FILM
Today (April 29, 2022), almost 9 months after Knuth's presentation at the AIAA forum, I have seen no paper containing evidence that the Stanford film (or the underlying stories) have been validated after "proper and rigorous study," nor any further back up for the exotic claims that Knuth provisionally attached to those images, the lack of which Knuth said in August 2021 "will soon be rectified."
As far as I have been able to ascertain, neither has Knuth publicly modified or retracted the qualified interpretations that he placed upon the Ray Stanford images in his presentation, or the assurances he offered via Debrief.
If either a detailed ostensible validation, or an on-the-record retraction or withdrawal, has in fact occurred and escaped my attention, I would be grateful to receive a link to such new information. However, based on what I have seen so far in the public realm, I will operate on the assumption that the "soon be rectified" and the proper-and-rigorous-study assurances are the last-stated public positions, still to be relied upon.
In Matthew Szydagis' e-mail to me of December 1, 2021, he advised me to "let PhD scientists judge any paper through official peer review..." With all due respect to the hallowed sanctity of peer review, it is possible that at times those who write papers and the "peers" who review them, don't cast their gaze as widely as they should. I'd hate to see that happen in this case, so below, I present a non-exhaustive list of questions and points of fact that, in my personal opinion, any author, co-author, peer reviewer, forensic analyst, journal editor, or journalist ought to consider when trying to ascertain whether anything of value can be derived from the Ray Stanford images and stories relating to the purported October 5, 1985 UFO event.
Whether or not these questions and issues are adequately considered and acted on during the pre-publication process, these issues (among others) will surely be discussed after publication, if publication does occur.
THE PERTINENCE OF STANFORD'S FULL ACCOUNTS PERTAINING TO THE OCT. 5, 1985 INCIDENT AND FILM – EXTRUDED SOLID-LIGHT TUBE WITH LITTLE UFOs EMERGING, SUDDEN TRIPLING OF OBJECT SIZE, ETC.
QUESTIONS: Will those involved in preparing or reviewing a scientific paper that deals in whole or part with the Ray Stanford images of October 5, 1985, expand their scrutiny to Stanford's entire array of original statements regarding the October 5, 1985 event and the film-- or will scrutiny be artificially narrowed exclude examination of anything other than the specific perceived possible plasma effects Knuth discussed in his AIAA presentation, with reference to certain specific still images lifted from the movie? For example, will the in-depth examination extend to Stanford's claims that he filmed an object extending a solid-light tube, from which smaller UFOs emerged (see below)? Will the film analysts, editors, peer-reviewers, and others involve carefully review the multiple lengthy interviews Stanford gave in years past about the event and the film, and compare what is seen on the full movie film with the detailed claims of the sole on-record witness?
Supplemental information: I have in my files four lengthy interviews and podcast appearances that Ray Stanford conducted about the Corpus Christi UFO parade event, as early as 2003 and as late as 2015. Links to all of those interviews, in audio files and/or transcripts, are found at the bottom of this article.
In addition, Christian Lambright, in his 2011 e-book X Descending, makes many statements about the event and many interpretative claims pertaining to the film, including some attributed to Stanford. There are a number of shorter sources as well, including a 2011 book review by Stanford, inserted in total below.
In my view, all of this is important contextual information. This body of material raises substantial questions that ought to be taken into account by Knuth, and by any editors and peer-reviewers, who seek to evaluate images and claims flowing from this event.
While the details provided by Stanford in the different accounts vary in some odd ways (not uncommon with Stanford), the general story is that on "in the middle of the afternoon -- a beautiful sunshiny October afternoon" on Saturday, Oct. 5, 1985, Stanford and two of his children (then ages 7 and 4) were at the Emerald Cove breakwater (pier) at the E.B. Cole Park on the bayside of Corpus Christi, when they observed a progression of bright objects overhead, eight in all, of which Stanford said he filmed four before his film ran out. He used a Super 8 camera with a 10-power telephone lens.
In some of Stanford's detailed accounts, various of the successive objects produced a considerable variety of extraordinary displays. For example, in a Paracast interview on April 1, 2012, Stanford has asserted that one craft extended "one of the classical so-called solid light beams," and that "this beam was releasing smaller objects," asserting that the tube probably served as "a protection from the primary field."
"I got a complete film of this in broad daylight," Stanford said.
(This claim does not appear in the earliest interview which I have on file, a March 29, 2003 appearance on Strange Days Indeed with Errol Bruce-Knapp.)
In a book review Stanford posted May 4, 2011, he wrote that the film showed "a domed disc-shaped object as it approached, paused almost overhead, and projected such a 'telescoping' beam through which several small objects departed at high speed and flew away. The beam then slowly retracted back into the larger craft, which disappeared by going into the distance almost straight up."
(In this same 2011 review, Stanford, then age 73, characterized himself as "the most seasoned researcher into these phenomena today...")
In another Stanford account, one object suddenly appeared, both through the telephoto lens and to naked eye, to enlarge to "three times its diameter," but without coming closer the viewers. Again, this element appears in some interviews, but not others. Other exotic manifestations are also described has having been seen visually and/or described as evident on the film.
QUESTIONS: Is there any evidence on the public record, independent of Ray Stanford's story and images, to support the Ray Stanford claim that a highly anomalous event or series of events occurred in the daylight skies over Corpus Christi, Texas, on October 5, 1985 – specifically, a progression of eight anomalous technological objects, several of which displayed anomalous behavior? Is it not misleading to label this as a "multi-witness event," if in fact Ray Stanford is the only actual witness on record regarding this event -- and in fact, the only named adult known to have been present?
Supplemental information: On his slides displayed to the AIAA session on August 6, 2021, Kevin Knuth twice labeled the October 5, 1985 incident as a "multi-witness event." To the Debrief reporter, Knuth identified the images as related to what Stanford "and his friends and family (4 adults and 2 children) observed at Emerald Cove Pier, Corpus Christi TX on October 5, 1985."
In the first place, the latter characterization by Knuth is inconsistent with all of the Stanford accounts, in which three adults (other than Stanford) were indeed said to be on the pier, but these were not friends but unnamed strangers. I have never seen any identifying information about or statements from any of those three adults. Thus, these are not really "witnesses" substantiating Stanford's story, but merely figures described in a Ray Stanford story. I suspect they existed, but for all I know, the conversations that Stanford reported having with them may have been as imaginary as the conversations he had with the Air Force as we watched a light in the sky on December 10, 1975, discussed above.
By Stanford's own account, the only people on the dock with whom Stanford was acquainted were two of his children, then aged 7 and 4.
Moreover, as near as I can determine, there is nothing in any public record describing anything unusual in the Corpus Christi sky that day, publicly reported or recorded by anyone other than Ray Stanford – even though Stanford said in one interview that there were "about 400 people" in the vicinity as the parade of ostensibly anomalous craft performed overhead.
[Update, May 13, 2023: In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove made public in February 2023, Stanford said, "There were scads of people out in the park, that I’m sure got photographs of what I filmed." However, no such photographs have ever surfaced.]
[Update, May 25, 2023: Mark Rodeghier, the Scientific Director of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), which was founded by J. Allen Hynek, told me in an email on May 25, 2023: "I’ve had a chance to review UFOCAT, and have the CUFOS files checked, for any event in southern Texas on Oct. 5, 1985, but come up empty. Although I have my doubts about Stanford and his UFO claims, lack of evidence isn’t evidence of absence when it comes to UFO reporting, but at a minimum it means no independent support for his 'beam ship.'" UFOCAT is a large computerized database of UFO reports.]
[Update, June 5, 2023: In ann email to me dated May 25, 2023, Rob Swiatek of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) wrote: "Querying the MUFON Case Management System (which came online about 2000) for sightings over Texas on 5 October 1985 revealed zero sightings. In a follow up email on June 3, 2023, Swiatek wrote: "I checked the DVD I have of MUFON cases filed prior to the creation of the Case Management System. While this DVD doesn't have all MUFON cases filed before 2000, it does have many. I found no sighting for 5 Oct. 1985 in Texas. The closest was an event that happened in Comfort, Texas, in the Oct. to Nov. 1985 timeframe. In this report, a luminous sphere several feet in diameter followed an automobile down a highway for six or seven minutes; it was quite close to the vehicle. The next morning, the car's battery was dead. I also scrolled through the Oct. 1985 through Feb. 1986 issues of the MUFON Journal for any material relevant to Stanford but found nothing."]
[Update, May 13, 2023: There is no corresponding report in the database of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), which is based in Washington State. According to James Clarkson, who has long association with NUFORC, the database shows only one report for all of Texas for October 1985 -- a "V" shape of lights, seen at night east of Dallas, estimated to have occurred October 12, 1985, but not reported until August of 2018. (email to author, May 13, 2023)]
If some such independent (and preferably contemporary) record of a UFO parade in the daylight sky over Corpus Christi was in fact available, one might expect that Stanford or one of his promoters would have produced it sometime in the 36 years since the purported event. I have spent considerable time searching newspaper databases and the like, searching for any reference or report to anything unusual in the afternoon sky over Corpus Christi that day, and I have yet to encounter any report not associated with Ray Stanford's later claims about the event.
Still, I am open to the possibility that someone will bring forth some independent and contemporary evidence, even at this late date. A truly independent and contemporary record, if it existed, would be a factor to be weighed by objective analysts of the claims that Stanford, Lambright, and others have made about the film.
Even if no contemporary records exist, hypothetically it is possible that other witnesses might come forward even now, more than 36 years after the event. Such a long lapse between the time a person witnesses an event and time he or she first testifies about that event is almost always problematic, which is a major reason that there are statutes of limitations in many criminal laws – human memories may be distorted by many factors, especially after many years, even when a witness has no obvious bias or emotional motivation towards subjectivity. Still, belated testimony from any hypothetical eyewitness should not be entirely dismissed a priori purely on grounds on time elapsed. Rather, such hypothetical retrospective testimony should be evaluated in light of all of the usual factors, including the passage of time, perceived motivations, general credibility, and so forth.
Lacking any such corroboration whatever, however, I think that Knuth erred in publicly asserting that the Stanford film was taken during "a multi-witness event." As of today, there is one witness on the record, Ray Stanford, who is a serial purveyor of far-fetched UFO-alien tales and highly subjective interpretations of UFO-alien-related photo images.
"PLASMA PENETRATION RADAR" IMAGES?
QUESTION: Will those scrutinizing the Stanford film of October 5, 1985, get to the bottom of Stanford's claim pertaining to "plasma penetration" radar images?
Supplemental information: On a 2 hour, 37 minute Paracast program devoted mainly to the Corpus Christi incident/film, broadcast April 1, 2012, Ray Stanford said that some time after the event, he called the FAA headquarters in Dallas, seeking information on any radar data that might exist relating to the event, and that an FAA official asked him whether he wanted only the "regular radar paints" or also the "plasma penetration images." Stanford said, "I do have a tape recording of him [the FAA official] offering it." Stanford went on about this purported conversation at some length, and promised that he would release his recording of the conversation with the FAA official.
Knuth clearly has a particular interest in plasma effects -- his AIAA presentation highlighted both a perceived "plasma sheath" and a perceived "plasma beam ahead." Thus, I would think that Ray Stanford's public claims to have a recording of a conversation with an FAA official about the possible availability of "plasma penetration" radar images would be of some interest-- and Ray Stanford did, after all, publicly promise to release that recording to the public. So, I would like to know if Knuth, as part of the promised "proper and rigorous study," has listened to the recording of the purported Stanford-FAA conversation, described by Stanford on the April 1, 2012 broadcast– and if so, will Knuth at some point be willing to publicly share with us what he thinks "plasma penetration" radar is, whether he thinks it plausible that the FAA would have had access such data on the purported UFO event, and so forth? Or, if he has not listened to the recording– why not?
FORENSIC EXAMINATION OF THE ORIGINAL FILM?
QUESTIONS: Who has performed or will perform the forensic analysis of the original Super 8 film? (Note: Most Super 8 film was reversal stock, meaning that it produced a direct print, not a negative.) What was that person's expertise? What is the condition of the film? (It has been reported that at least some of Stanford's many "UFO" films have not been stored under optimal conditions and have degraded.) Does the analyst or analysts have a previous connection to Stanford?
Supplemental information: Forensic analysis of emulsion-based images, and the cameras and lenses utilized in making such images, requires in many respects very different skill sets than analysis of digital images. True experts in analysis of emulsion-based images, and the cameras and lenses associated, are not easy to find nowadays. Moreover, getting useful data from Super 8 frames is challenging. The entire image frame size is only 5.8 mm by 4.0 mm (about 0.16 inch by 0.23 inch). What portion of those tiny frames is taken up by the "UFO" images and/or perceived "plasma" effects in this case has never been reported in any account that I have seen.
QUESTIONS: What steps were taken or will be taken to avoid a repetition of the Stanford-driven fiasco by which a Goddard-affiliated expert purportedly analyzed and validated a 1964 photo that Stanford took at Socorro, New Mexico (the "dynamite shack photo"), which Stanford for years publicly proclaimed contained a detailed image of an egg-shaped UFO just like that reported by policeman Lonnie Zamora at the same site– an "image" that, despite the purported expert validation, was ultimately conceded to consist merely of dirt on a negative?
Supplemental information: A cautionary tale. In quite recent years, Stanford himself repeatedly publicly claimed that a 35 mm photo that he took at Socorro, New Mexico, in 1964, at the site of the famous incident reported by policeman Lonnie Zamora (on which stood a small "dynamite shack"), upon enlargement showed an egg-shaped UFO aloft in the background, with the very distinctive landing gear just as described by Zamora. As Stanford described the photo in a 2015 podcast appearance, it was "a wonderful photograph in which...people will be able to see, in broad daylight...the Socorro object [egg-shaped UFO], with its landing gear deployed." Stanford even said that he was going to write a second book on Socorro, in which this amazing photo would be a featured element. After years of discussion of this claim, several Stanford acolytes publicly insisted that Stanford had proceeded to have the image validated by "a respected [NASA] Goddard employee who is an expert in photo analysis," who determined that the image showed an airborne object 0.6 miles from that camera (see sample screenshots below). Yet on September 15, 2020, Stanford himself admitted on a Martin Willis YouTube program that careful examination of the original negative had revealed that there was no egg craft with distinctive landing gear deployed -- just an improperly cleaned negative.
QUESTION: Will not just the original film, but also the camera, and the Canon 10-power telephoto lens with its "22" glass elements, also be analyzed by persons with competent expertise to evaluate possible artifacts, with reference to the sun angle and other pertinent conditions?
Supplemental information: Stanford said in one interview that his 10-power Canon telephoto lens contained "twenty-two elements of glass." To my layman's eye, the ostensible "plasma beam" is very subtle in the screenshots of Knuth's presentation. Quite specific and unusual skillsets would be required to assess whether the perceived "plasma beam" and/or "plasma sheath" are possible artifacts related to the 22 glass elements, while shooting overhead with the unclouded sun presumably at an acute angle to the plane of the lens; and to assess whether any such artifacts, if they occurred, were then rendered more prominent by the digital manipulations employed to produce some of the images displayed in the two slideshows.
Links for four interviews with Ray Stanford that contain detailed discussion of the purported UFO event of October 5, 1985, and varying claims related to the related film
The following interviews occurred from 2003 to 2015. Three are accessible as audio files (for one of these there is also a transcript), and the fourth is a transcript only. If you wanted to listen to just one, the longest and most detailed presentation of the full-blown story is the April 1, 2012 Paracast appearance, which is more than 2.5 hours long. On all of these programs, the hosts or interviewers ranged from indulgent to borderline worshipful. Stanford has a long history of choosing friendly media platforms, and avoiding encounters with well-informed critics. When he does encounter well-informed contradiction, he has demonstrated a tendency to fly off the handle.
(1) Strange Days Indeed, newscast/podcast. Broadcast March 29, 2003 (program no. 234). Host: Errol Bruce-Knapp, Ian Rogers. Guest: Ray Stanford. Length: 1 hour. Audio file here. The .mp3 audio file is also embedded below. Transcript in PDF here.
(2) Interview of Ray Stanford by Christopher O'Brien. Interview date not specified, but apparently conducted sometime in the 2002-2007 range. A transcript was posted by O'Brien on the Paracast.com forum on February 23, 2015. A link to a PDF file containing O'Brien's posted transcript is below.
(3) Paracast, broadcast April 1, 2012. Hosts: Gene Steinberg and Christopher O'Brien. Guests: Ray Stanford and Christian Lambright. Length: 2 hours, 37 minutes. This link allows you to play directly, or download the program in .mp3 format. The .mp3 file is also embedded below.
(4) Martin Willis Live, You Tube audio podcast, April 22, 2015. Host: Martin Willis. Guest: Ray Stanford. Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes. Link to program here. The .mp3 audio file is also embedded below.
What about the supposed connection between the Stanford film and research conducted by scientist-engineer Leik Myrabo?
In his 2011 e-book X Descending, Christian Lambright spends many pages on a narrative linking the Stanford UFO-parade film to certain purported activities by a scientist-engineer named Leik Myrabo. As the story goes, Myrabo visited Stanford's home in 1987 and saw images from the October 5, 1985, film, including the ostensible energy beam. In Lambright's telling, this inspired Myrabo and collaborators to pursue a modified design concept, written up in a 1994 paper titled "Laser Induced Air Spike for Advanced Transatmospheric Vehicle," published by AIAA, involving a disc-shaped device that would travel broadside-forward (rather than edge or point forward), using lasers to create a "Directed Energy Air Spike" (DEAS) that would decrease atmospheric resistance in an object's path. Some hypershock wind tunnel tests were done on variations of this concept, with promising results. Thus, in this narrative, a piece of UFO evidence obtained by Stanford led to a "breakthrough" in aeronautic engineering. In a 2015 interview, Stanford himself expressed it more strongly, asserting, "For the first time in history, UFO knowledge, based on a this film, has been used for the benefit of humankind."
Perhaps it all happened pretty much the way Lambright thinks. To an outsider, the matter is somewhat murky.
For one thing, I have a paper authored by Myrabo and published by AIAA in 1978, in which Myrabo describes and depicts in drawings the concept of projection of "a pulsed laser beam" being used to create a plasma path in front of an aerial vehicle. "The net result is that the forward projected beam effectively 'pries open' the atmosphere and provides a lower density flight path for the vehicle... [which] thereby suppresses the formation of a strong bow shock," Myrabo wrote. Again, this was in 1978-- seven years before Stanford shot the Corpus Christi film, and nine years before Myrabo is said to have viewed Stanford's images. However, there is a distinction: The 1978 Myrabo drawings contemplate a disc-shaped craft projecting a beam and traveling edge-first in the direction of the beam. The Stanford-Lambright claim is that the Stanford film shows a "beam" that emanates from the broad side of the "craft," which travels broad-side forward in the direction of the beam. The paper Myrabo published in 1994 described an "air spike" concept that was not tethered to traditional aerodynamic shapes.
Another issue is that, as far as I can tell from Lambright's book and later interviews involving Stanford, Myrabo never clearly publicly acknowledged a connection between his viewing of the Stanford images and his later iterations of the "Directed Energy Air Spike" concept, despite much coaxing by Lambright that he do so. However, I might have missed something Myrabo said somewhere on this point. I did notice that Lambright recently published an email from 2004 in which Myrabo expressed an interest in encouraging Stanford to release his "films."
But I must confess that I find this entire Stanford-Myrabo subplot to be of only mild interest. Perhaps seeing the Stanford images did give Myrabo an idea for how to adjust his configurations; this seems plausible given the sequence of events and other evidence. But no one has suggested that Myrabo had any expertise in evaluating photos of purported UFOs, and I have no reason to think that he knew anything about Stanford's shoddy history with respect to UFO-related evidence claims. Even if Myrabo viewed the Stanford images and, hypothetically, accepted as plausible the interpretation that Stanford placed on them, that provides no substantiation for the images themselves, or the stories and interpretations that are attached to them. Engineers and scientists have sometimes gotten ideas from science-fiction stories, ideas that when pursued led to real advances – but that doesn't mean that the science-fiction writers were really visitors from the future.
Even if the purported "plasma" effects were lens-element artifacts, for example, Myrabo hypothetically might have been receptive to the Stanford-Lambright story and interpretation, especially given that the Stanford-Lambright interpretation tied in with the "pulsed laser beam" concept that Myrabo had written up a decade earlier. In this scenario, Myrabo might then have come up with an experimental design based on a misinterpretation of the images. To suggest the limited laboratory results that were reported in 1994 constitute evidence that alien craft above Corpus Christi were employing atmosphere-parting plasma beams, seems to me an extremely attenuated and unpersuasive line of argument.
Moreover, while I claim no expertise on such matters, I have seen nothing to suggest that Myrabo's 1994 paper, or the hypersonic tunnel and other laboratory experiments that followed, have yet led to even test flights of flying devices that abandon aerodynamic shapes in favor of using directed energy beams to blaze a path through the atmosphere. However, I would welcome any documentation to the contrary. Perhaps someday people will look back and see Myrabo's 1994 paper and experiments based on it as a breakthrough, but at this date, I am not aware of evidence that provides support for that characterization.
The Christopher Altman answers of 11-26-21
On a few occasions since Kevin Knuth's August 2021 AIAA presentation, having previously found Knuth unresponsive to my communication attempts, I directed inquiries to various parties whom I thought might have insight into the status of the promised scientific article. For example, on November 26, 2021, on open Twitter (not in private Direct Messages), I inquired of Christopher Altman regarding the status of the promised scientific paper. (Altman, Knuth, and Szydagis were among the seven men on that date listed as "The Team" for the nonprofit organization UAPx. Please note that Altman has no connection with Ray Stanford, and neither does UAPx as an organization have any such connection as far as I am aware.) Christopher Altman replied (on open public Twitter) that Knuth "is authenticating the films via forensic examination by objective experts and through peer-reviewed examination," and said that a paper would come out in two or three weeks. Over a period of hours, Altman and I exchanged a substantial number of further open-Twitter messages on the matter, with a number of other persons also participating in the discussion; here are a few samples.
The author's email address is his full name, Douglas Dean Johnson (firstname-dot-middlename-dot-lastname) at gmail-dot-com
Corrections and revisions in this article since its original posting on April 29, 2022:
1. A paragraph that originally read, "Stanford took a 35 mm black-and-white photo on October 5, 1984, that he has claimed, on recorded programs, shows an alien pilot sitting in his domed craft..." was corrected to insert the correct date, which was October 15, 1984. Thanks to Vincente-Juan Ballester Olmos for pointing out this typo. (12-21-22)
2. On May 11, 2023, I updated some broken links, and improved access to some of the primary-source audio files and PDF files.
3. On May 11, 2023, in Section 8, I added a quote from UFO researcher Marik von Rennenkampff pertaining to the question of whether analysts of the Gimbal video believe that it shows an object flying "bottom forward" or "tower first."
4. I added at the top of the article, and at the beginning of Section 10, statements emailed to me on May 11, 2023, by Prof. Matthew Szydagis, explaining his current thinking regarding the merits of pursuing UFO-evidence claims of Ray Stanford.
5. May 13, 2023: I added a quote from an interview with Stanford by Jeffrey Mishlove, made public in February 2023, in which Stanford said, "There were scads of people out in the park, that I’m sure got photographs of what I filmed." Also, I added a quote from James Clarkson that there are no reports in the database of the National UFO Reporting Center corresponding to Stanford's narratives about the October 5, 1985 incident.
6. May 25, 2023: I added a quote from Mark Rodeghier, the Scientific Director of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), who stated in an email to me on May 25, 2023 that neither UFOCAT nor CUFOS files recorded "any event in southern Texas on Oct. 5, 1985."
7. June 5, 2023: I added quotes from Rob Swiatek of MUFON, in emails to me dated May 25 and June 3, 2023, regarding his fruitless search of MUFON databases for any report corresponding to the Stanford account of October 5, 1985.