Tag Archives: Cryptozoology

Why do people disappear in national parks?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know

The search for the Loch Ness Monster

By Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know via YouTube

Scientists from around the world have scoured Scotland’s Loch Ness in an attempt to discover the infamous Loch Ness monster.

The Braxton County Monster

A group of 7 West Virginians looked for a crashed UFO in the hills and ended up getting the fright of their lives.

by Ryan Haupt via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

Home-of-the-Green-Monster-300x200Today we tackle a terrifying tale of an alien encounter that goes by many names: “The Braxton County Monster”, “The Sutton Monster”, “The Green Monster” and “The Phantom of Flatwoods,” just to name a few. Growing up as I did in nearby Kanawha County, I had always heard the tale told using the Braxton County Monster moniker, so that’s what I’ll keep using here to avoid confusion. The story goes that in the evening of September 12th, 1952 seven witnesses saw a light from the sky land in the hills outside the town of Flatwoods, West Virginia, and when they went to investigate they came upon a being which frightened them to their very core. So was the Braxton County Monster a true case of an alien encounter in the hills of West Virginia? Or did a confluence of unlikely events lead to a group getting the fright of their lives?

The Night of the Sighting

Even contemporary reports made within days of the incident vary in some details of the actual event, but most agree roughly on the following points. Around 7:15pm several local boys (reports differ on exactly how many there were and their identities) were playing football at the nearby elementary school. meteor 808_300pxThey noticed a bright light streak across the sky and over a hill, seeming to touch down on the property of the farm owned by a Mr. Bailey Fischer. The boys then raced to the home of Kathleen May, a local beautician and mother of Edison and Fred, possibly two of the boys playing football, to report their sighting of a UFO. The group recruited a few more local boys, including 17-year-old national guardsman Eugene Lemon and his dog. The group, now made up of, Kathleen May, Eugene ‘Gene’ Lemon (17), Neil Nunley (14), Teddie Neal (13), Edison ‘Eddie’ May (13), Fred ‘Freddy’ May (12), Ronnie Shaver (10), and possibly Tommy Hyer (10), headed outside of town and up the hill towards the farm.

Upon cresting the hill to a ridge, they were engulfed in a malodorous mist and spotted a pulsing red light emitting from a ball-shaped object hovering just above the ground. Gene’s dog growled at something to their left side, where whomever was holding the flashlight, reports differ, immediately pointed the beam. What the light fell upon was terrible to behold. A large creature, between seven and 12 tall, stood hovering next to a nearby oak tree. It appeared to be wearing some sort of green armor, and a black cowl shaped like a spade from a playing card over it’s blood read head and bright glowing red eyes. flatwoodsmonster 02_350pxSome of the witnesses reported seeing two claw-like hands near the creature’s head, one of which may have been holding a device. Upon seeing the group, the being let out a shrill hiss and started towards them in a slow gliding motion.

The group, gripped with terror, ran headlong down the hill back into town, whereupon they immediately called Braxton County Sheriff Robert Carr. The sheriff was not at his station in nearby Sutton, because he had been called out to investigate a plane crash reported by Woodrow Eagle, who had also seen a light in the sky disappear into the mountains along the Elk River south of Gassaway. By the time Sheriff Carr was able to make it to Flatwoods, local newspaperman A. Stewart Lee of the Braxton Democrat was also on the scene. While the entire group of witnesses was visibly shaken, Gene worked up the nerve to lead a gun-toting posse back to the scene to investigate. The craft and the creature were gone, all that remained was a faint sulfuric odor, some track marks in the grass, and some oily residue along with bits of a black rubber-like substance. In the aftermath of the event, several members of the group described suffering from irritation and swelling of the nose and throat, followed by vomiting and convulsions for another few weeks. These were said to be symptoms of exposure to mustard gas and were attributed to the mist surrounding the area the craft and creature had been spotted in. Whatever had happened, it had clearly make an impact, both emotionally and physiologically, on the witnesses.

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Possible Explanations

UFO investigators, Gray Barker, who actually grew up in Braxton County, and naturalist Ivan T. Sanderson both went to Flatwoods to research the events of September 12th, with Sanderson arriving as early as September 18th. They explored the site, interviewed witnesses, and wrote reports of their findings that were later published. They both concluded that the group had encountered an extraterrestrial craft and it’s occupant.

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The Boggy Creek Monster

Is Arkansas’ Fouke Monster a real zoological specimen, or an important part of local folklore?

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

It was 1971, in Fouke, Arkansas. Fouke is a small hamlet of under a thousand people, in the Boggy Creek area of southwestern Arkansas, tucked in just between Texas and Louisiana. It’s in the middle of a thousand miles of flat country, dense dark woods rippled with rivers and creeks that twist every which way before finally draining into the Louisiana swamps. Beast-of-Boggy-CreekIt was on a hot summer night in May that two newlywed young couples, and a friend or two, were crashing in the house they’d just rented a few days before after a long day of unpacking. But the mellow evening took a shocking turn for the worse when Elizabeth Ford, 22, thought she’d have a nap on the couch when it happened.

You know that moment when you see something unexpected, but it takes a few seconds for your mind to process what it is? That was Elizabeth’s experience. When she realized that what she was looking at was a huge furry hand with claws, reaching through the open window and groping on the couch as if to find her, she screamed — and Fouke would be changed forever.

Even as the two young couples made emergency move-out preparations, giving up on their new home after less than a week, reporter Jim Powell covered the incident for the Texarkana Gazette, calling it like it was a campy 80s slasher pic:

Elizabeth Ford said she was sleeping in the front room of the frame house when, “I saw the curtain moving on the front window and a hand sticking through the window. At first I thought it was a bear’s paw but it didn’t look like that. It had heavy hair all over it and it had claws. scared-1_200pxI could see its eyes. They looked like coals of fire … real red,” she said. “It didn’t make any noise. Except you could hear it breathing.”

Ford said they spotted the creature in back of the house with the aid of a flashlight. “We shot several times at it then and then called Ernest Walraven, constable of Fouke. He brought us another shotgun and a stronger light. We waited on the porch and then saw the thing closer to the house. We shot again and thought we saw it fall. Bobby, Charles and myself started walking to where we saw it fall,” he said.

About that time, according to Don Ford, they heard the women in the house screaming and Bobby went back. “I was walking the rungs of a ladder to get up on the porch when the thing grabbed me.”

…The “creature” was described by Ford as being about seven feet tall and about three feet wide across the chest. “At first I thought it was a bear but it runs upright and moves real fast. It is covered with hair,” he said.

The episode triggered a rash of sightings that kept the Texarkana Gazette lively for months. And more significantly, it attracted the attention of filmmakers, who quickly shot the 1973 docudrama The Legend of Boggy Creek. The film dramatized dozens of sightings and featured many Fouke and Boggy Creek residents, telling and reenacting their stories. One of the most fantastic involved a boy named Lynn Crabtree who encountered the beast while hunting in 1965, and shot at it repeatedly without effect.

It’s at this point when, during researching such a story, we start to examine the timeline.

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I’m Not Making This Up: Why I’m Skeptical of Eyewitnesses

Sharon_hill_80pxBy via The Huffington Post

One of the major disconnects between those who practice effective skepticism and those who believe in paranormal possibilities (or are emotionally invested in unexplained mysteries) is over the topic of anecdotes and witnesses’ testimony.

tape recorder brain_300pxIf there is one fact that I wish we could all accept early in life, I would vote for drumming in the idea that memory is not like a tape recorder. If we learn this truth about the human mind, we could avoid so much trouble.

Memory is constructed. Pause a moment and let that sink in.

Memory is not objective, it is constructed by our own brains. It is not burned, or ingrained, or seared into it, as much as we would like to think that is the case. The truth is less precise, uncertain, and disturbing.

Most of us rely on our short- and long-term memories nearly every moment of the day. For the most part, our recollections are simple and good enough to get us through situations and day-to-day activities without much trouble, but false memories are ubiquitous.

I don’t trust my memory at all. I’ve seen it fail epically. That’s why I try to keep logs and records of what happened and when. I’ll take pictures of things I want to remember and write copious notes.

I’ve had a journal since I was 7. There have been times when I looked back on events and was dumbfounded at the dispute between what I thought had happened and what I wrote happened in my journal. For a moment, I doubt my journal! But that’s incorrect. My current memory had evolved into what I wanted it to be for my state right now. It had been reconstructed each time I accessed it in the intervening years.

memory falseI’d bet many of you think you have a great memory — that you can relate your observations clearly and accurately. But you’re wrong, too. Don’t feel bad about this! We are all imperfect when it comes to observing and remembering. Our brains are incredible things but they function mostly for self-preservation and propagation of the species, and only moderately well as an accurate memory collector.

Several paranormal subjects such as hauntings, UFO sightings, and Bigfoot reports rely solely on witnesses’ recollections. Sometimes years or decades pass, but the memory is still taken as credible and true because the people seem sincere. I’ve lost count of how many times the argument has been put to me that the eyewitness reports for Bigfoot are so compelling and voluminous that there must be something to them. Frequently, they present the really poor argument that if this was a court of law, Bigfoot would be ruled genuine. It’s more complicated than that.

Not only are our memories generally far from perfect, perception is poor too.

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Dragon Video

steven_novellaby Steven Novella via Skepticblog

These make for light-hearted posts, but occasionally it’s fun to deconstruct viral videos purporting to show something fantastical on the internet. Most such videos are one of the big three – ghosts, UFOs or Bigfoot (or some other cryptozoological creature).

dragon_250pxThe current video is in the cryptozoological category – a video purporting to show a dragon flying through the skies of Truro England.

Obviously the prior-probability here is vanishingly small, and so it would take a very compelling video to have any chance of being taken seriously, and this video does not come close. Before I take a close look at the video itself, let’s explore the plausibility of the claim.

Dragons are gigantic flying predators, at least in their current Western cultural image. Such creatures if they existed would be voracious. Flying is a high-energy activity and animals pay for the benefits of flight by needing to eat incredible amounts of calories. Bald eagles, for example, eat about 10% of their body weight per day. If we extrapolate that to a dragon, even if light for its size so it can fly, would require hundreds of pounds of food per day.

Each dragon would require a large hunting territory. If there is even a minimal breeding population of dragons, they would frequently be seen in the skies hunting for prey or carrion. Saying they live underground or are stealthy hunters, first is an argument from ignorance to explain a lack of evidence. green_dragon-20112027Further, it is not plausible such creatures could survive under ground (and why would they fly), and you can only be so stealthy when you are that size.

There are also the usual objective to cryptozoological creatures – why are there no specimens of such creatures, no bones, no carcasses, no nests, scat, or remains of their eating? We can invent a special reason why each bit of evidence is lacking, but Occam favors the conclusion that these creatures just don’t exist.

We also have the historical record of dragons, meaning their existence in culture, as a guide. We can clearly see the image of dragons evolve over time, going in different directions in different cultures. Real creatures have a more stable representation in art over time – the artistic style may evolve, but a lion is always a lion. (Here, of course, I am talking about historical time frames of hundreds of years, not evolutionary time scales.)

The Video

It is reasonable to conclude from existing evidence that dragons probably do not exist (as cool as it would be if they did), but let’s take a look at the video with an open, but critical, mind.

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5 Thing I’ve noticed about… Cryptids

By via The Soap Box

Cryptids.

Creatures that are often times so elusive that there is no physical proof of their existence, and has lead most people to believe that they don’t exist at all.

Now despite the fact that there is actually no proof that any cryptids exist, there are certain things that I have noticed about them, and have narrowed down to five things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about cryptids:

5. They are masters at Hide & Go Seek.

finding-bigfoot_250pxIf a cryptid was to ever enter a hide & go seek contest, they would probably win it, because they are masters at hiding.

Despite the fact that many of the areas of the world where various cryptids are known to live are actually very well explored, no one can actually seem to capture a living or dead cryptid.

A couple of good examples of this would be the search for the Loch Ness Monster and the search for Bigfoot.

Despite the fact that there have been multiple explorations of where Bigfoot is suppose to live (which is apparently everywhere now) or the use of motion sensor triggered trail cameras where they are suppose to roam, no one has ever been able to produce any solid proof that Bigfoot exists, other then a few grainy photos taken by people whom weren’t even looking for the creature and could easily be something else entirely, and some photos and videos and footprints that are clear, but have either been found out to be hoaxes, or are strongly suspected of being hoaxes.

As for the Loch Ness Monster, that creature is so good at hiding scientists couldn’t even find it after all of Loch Ness was scanned with sonar devices.

4. They’re big business

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Mothman is a legendary creature first reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia from 15 November 1966 to 15 December 1967. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothman)

Cryptids have made people a lot of money.

There have been many popular TV shows dedicated to finding cryptids, or has a cryptid as one of the characters. There have also been multiple products that feature cryptids as well (including shirts and toys). You can even pay people to take you on expeditions into these places where these cryptids are suppose to inhabit, and the sites where some of these creatures are suppose to live (such as Loch Ness) have become huge tourist attractions, attracting thousands of wannabe monster hunters every year hoping to catch a glimpse of one of these elusive creatures.

Of course lets not forget the millions of dollars spent on high tech equipment to try to find these alleged creatures.

Plus, who here can honestly say that the creation of the Star Wars character Chewbacca wasn’t in some ways inspired by the descriptions of Bigfoot.

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The Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film

The true history behind the iconic Bigfoot film that launched the legend.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

Read podcast transcript below or listen here

You’ve seen it a hundred times: the iconic picture of Bigfoot striding heavily through the clearing, arms swinging, head and shoulders turned slightly toward the camera. Bigfoot 815This famous image is frame 352 of a 16mm silent color film shot in 1967 in northern California by rancher Roger Patterson, accompanied by his friend, Bob Gimlin. The impact that this film has had on Bigfoot mythology is inestimable; and correspondingly, so has its impact upon paranormal, cryptozoological, and pop culture mythologies in general. I might well not be doing the Skeptoid podcast today if the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film had not turned legend and fancy into concrete, tangible, see-it-with-your-own-eyes reality.

Whether or not Bigfoot exists is one question — the answer to which has not exactly whitened the knuckles of science — but the authenticity of the Patterson-Gimlin film is something else. If Bigfoot were known to be a real animal, an investigation into the authenticity of the film would make sense. If Bigfoot were known to not exist, then it would be logically moot to study the film at all; it must be a fake.

Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin

Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin

But for today’s purpose, we’re going to brush aside the larger question (which should never be done in real science) and focus only on this detail. We’ll assume that the existence of Bigfoot is an open question (a big assumption), and just for fun, let’s see what we can determine on whether this famous film clip is a deliberate hoax, or whether it shows a real animal, or whether there might be some other explanation. Maybe it’s a misidentification, or an elaborate film flaw, or an unknown third party hoaxing Patterson and Gimlin. There are many possibilities.

Roger Patterson died of cancer only a few years after the film was shot, and never offered any clue other than that the film was genuine. Bob Gimlin remained silent for 25 years, and ever since he began speaking about it in the 1990s he has firmly stated that he was unaware of any hoax, but allowed for the possibility that he may have been hoaxed himself. Nobody else is known to have participated, and so the only two people whom we can say for certain were present when the film was shot are both stonewalls. So we must look elsewhere.

The original film no longer exists (only copies), and there is no record of anyone ever having possessed the original print. We don’t know why, but we’re left without the original film’s leader, which would have included the date when it was developed. Thus, we have only Patterson’s word for when it was developed, so we can’t verify that the film was shot and developed on the days he claims it was. The original also would have included any other shots that were taken, such as possible alternate takes. If these were ever seen, we’d know for a fact that it was faked. So that’s one more line of evidence that is unavailable to us.

No one has ever produced documentation like receipts showing when and where the film was developed. We know when and where Patterson rented the camera, but that’s not really in dispute. He had it in his possession for plenty of time before and after the alleged date of the filming. So that’s yet another dead end. Patterson covered his tracks very effectively (no Bigfoot pun intended).

He was quite a character, and had always been. He’d been . . .

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Inside Source Claims “Shooting Bigfoot” Documentary Climax is Just a Big Hoax

By Greg Newkirk via Who Forted? Magazine

Jeff, a squatter who appears prominently in the film as a “weird homeless guy”, but as it turns out.. was actually part of the crew, says "I can tell you right now, all the shooting and stuff like that is staged.”

“I can tell you right now, all the shooting and stuff like that is staged.”

Since the Sasquatch hunting documentary Shooting Bigfoot premiered at Toronto’s “Hot Docs” festival this week, the cryptozoological community has been buzzing with widespread allegations that the film wasn’t so much a documentary as it was science fiction, but all they had to base their opinions on were a few broken promises, previous hoaxes, and inconclusive footage.. until now.

Thanks to the investigative prowess of J.R. Bob Dobbs Jr, a man involved in the filming of the movie has come forward claiming that infamous Bigfoot hunter (and hoaxer) Rick Dyer and director Morgan Matthews coordinated an elaborate hoax for the film’s climactic scene, a tense moment during which Dyer has long claimed to have actually shot and killed a Sasquatch.

Dobbs met up with Jeff, a squatter who appears prominently in the film as a “weird homeless guy”, but as it turns out.. was actually part of the crew tasked with being a “lookout” during the pivotal “Bigfoot killing” scene.

“They had me right on that hill back there watching for people… they radioed in letting me know before they did anything, so I knew what was going on,”  he tells Dobbs, adding that he had to walk in and out of the camp all night, and there wasn’t a Squatch in sight.

dyershooting_250pxDobbs’ offscreen partner tells Jeff that internet commentators were picking apart the film’s final scene, saying, “at the end you see some sort of scuffle and Rick with his gun, and then Morgan Matthews, the director, gets knocked over by something.. can’t really tell what’s going on, and then at the end he’s in a hospital. Doesn’t really explain what happened to him.”

“Did you see him beat up or anything like that?” she asked.

“He actually walked out of here just fine, got in the truck, put everything away – he was carrying at least 80 pounds of gear, at least… I can tell you right now, all the shooting and stuff like that is staged.”

Jeff went on to mention that the money shot was actually filmed multiple times and that Dyer’s gun wasn’t even firing live ammunition, a fact that would certainly make it hard to kill a Bigfoot, unless they’re just sensitive to loud noises.

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bigfoot hideand seek_300pxRelated articles

Brewer offers $1M Bigfoot reward

via Fox News

bigfoot hideand seek_300pxSasquatch has been on the lam for far too long and brewer Olympia Beer is out to catch the elusive beast.Evan and Daren Metropoulos, owners of Pabst Brewing Company and Olympia Beer, are offering a $1 million reward for “the safe return of Bigfoot.”

“We have been sharing the same backyard for over a century and we believe it’s time to do what has never been done,” the company announced on its website. “That is to offer a one million dollar reward to anyone who can ensure the safe capture of Bigfoot.”

According to the official rules of the contest, the winner must prove “the irrefutable existence of Bigfoot at some time during the period beginning January 1, 1989 through March 31, 2014.”

And they are serious about “irrefutable” evidence.

The rules state that acceptable proof must be in the form of DNA evidence (hair, blood, tissue or saliva) that does not have the same genetic markers and DNA sequence as any known species ever discovered. The evidence may also include ‘Visual Proof’ of a live physical body.

“We have been operating in the Northwest since 1896, so we know firsthand how important Bigfoot is to the people here,” the owners told TheDrinksBusiness.com.

The contest will run for one year, finishing at the end of March 2014. The website states the $1M reward will be payable at $25,000 per year for 40 years. Happy Hunting, folks.

Where’s the Beef? Thoughts on the Lack of Paranormal Evidence

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By Todd Misura via Who Forted? Magazine

When skeptics and believers alike look for evidence in the paranormal fields of inquiry the overwhelming question regards evidence. Where is it? What is it? What should be counted as evidence?

We have video, picture, and eyewitness testimonials, and even physical evidence in some cases, but it never seems to hold up. Why is that? It’s possible that the reason we don’t have evidence that even believers can stand behind a hundred percent is tri-fold. I’m going to break down several topics of interest, and give my thoughts on why we might not have any usable evidence. Well, public evidence at least.

Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Other Hairy Dudes

bigfootronaldsmWhen Sasquatch researchers go searching for clues or evidence, one of the biggest finds happens to be the reason for the creature’s nickname: footprints in soft dirt, sand along creek or riverbeds, and other soft marshlands. We seem to have many footprints, but not any real fur, bone, scat, or even a body. When it comes to Sasquatch sighting and there is visual evidence of video or pictures, it seems to be very blurry or out of focus.  When we do have fur or hair to be analyzed it comes back inconclusive at best, American Black Bear at worst.

So, what gives? Why is solid evidence of Bigfoot so hard to find? Here’s a few thoughts:

Sasquatch is metaphysical in nature

Perhaps Sasquatch is a physical creature only part of the time, almost as if he is half here, and half in another dimension. There are strange stories of Sasquatches and other creatures being picked up or dropped off in UFOs, arriving or leaving in green mists, and other just plain bizarre acts of arrival or disappearance. This is a strange enough idea, but if Sasquatch were metaphysical they could only leave partial evidence behind, like, say.. footprints.

Sasquatch is entirely supernatural, a woodland spirit

When one is sighted by human eyes, they’re as real as anything else, just ask a witness. But once photographed or recorded on video, the recordings lose definition or clarity, particularly while the subject is on camera. Of course, there are hoaxes out there, and we can and do get duped every now and then by those that are particularly well-done, but what of the unsolved evidence that really stands out?

The Sasquatch or Yeti tend to be the focal point of the shot,  they’re blurry yet usually identifiable, though other pictures taken with the camera or even in the same shot, things are in focus and clear. If these creatures are either metaphysical or entirely supernatural, I would hazard a guess that they might have the ability to, well.. “blur” reality. Or perhaps have the ability to “jam” electronics if they want to be photographed. Hell, maybe it’s a passive thing.

If we can believe that something is a form of supernatural or metaphysical creature or entity, we can also believe they will be able to warp or effect reality if strong enough. If Sasquatch is a personification of the earth or woodlands, technology isn’t exactly its best friend…

Unidentified Flying Objects

Seth Shostak: The UFO BestiaryThe field of ufology makes me the most curious as to the things that are really going on, specifically why we don’t have particularly good evidence. This is especially perplexing considering the high speed cameras and advanced technology widely available to observe and record strange things everywhere.

One reason for lack of concrete evidence is actually quite simple:  they don’t land on the ground and are just really good at avoiding being shot down or captured.

Aside from the theory of being fantastic escape artists,  there could be several other reasons why we lack good evidence of extraterrestrial craft.

It’s an entirely natural phenomena on Earth

It’s possible that the UFOs we see in photographs and video clips are just a natural occurrence that we don’t quite understand. The spheres, lights, and even tube-like objects reported could be a form of plasma, a biological response to certain geological conditions, or even simply a kind of weather related phenomena.

The uniform shape, colors and speeds of similarly shaped objects can’t be denied, though. When someone actually manages to snap a photo, or are lucky enough to capture a video, they seem to blend into the skies they occupy, and video footage is usually too shaky to examine properly. Those particular objects might lend themselves to military craft. Good luck getting information about that.

They are multi-dimensional, or have a “bubble” around them.

We’ve seen UFOs capable of some astounding feats, many of which are completely un-repeatable by modern technology if piloted. The 90 degree turns and sudden bursts of speed exhibited by these objects tend to make me think that they are either not fully here, or have shields of some sort. The occupants of most space vehicles will tell speak of the toll it takes upon the body for exiting and re-entering our atmosphere. It’s certainly not the thickest around, but the g-force exerted during some of these maneuvers would crush a man. So, to have a machine perform these maneuvers with occupants is unheard of unless they have anti gravity tech that compensates.

Extraterrestrials, Ghosts, and Other Creatures

This is a catch all for the entities that are extremely random or unclassifiable that happen to turn up in blurry photos from time to time. We have the extraterrestrial peeping toms, the cave goblins, the duende, or the ghost haunting an old prison. Again, with these creatures, no real evidence seems to exist.

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