Skepticism

Rocky Mountain (too) High

Denver and the surrounding cities are an enclave of lunacy, as the home of evangelist and exorcist Bob Larson, Frank’s Box inventor Frank Sumption, “Telephone to the Dead” proponent Chris Moon, balloon boy hoaxes, and that infamous pseudoscientist ‘Dr’ Phil Plait.

Must be the altitude…

Now Denver is grappling with two more characters, Jeff Peckman and Stan Romanek. These guys are UFO believers with an even longer history of peddling pseudoscientific products.

Further to Jen’s Quickies link today, a proposal to create an E.T. Commission in Denver will go before voters at an election to be held on August, 10, 2010.

This proposed commission would establish a group of (amateur and biased) people to study UFOs and aliens.

Romanek and PeckmanClearly, Peckman, Romanek and their MUFON minions are unaware that a legitimate organization already exists to search the skies scientifically, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). SETI aims to “explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe”, not to prove the existence of spaceships and little green men, and welcome them with tea and cucumber sandwiches.

The ordinance change required almost 4000 signatures and Peckman acquired these, proving that the stupid is mightier than the pen. However, some additional 6000 signatures collected by Peckman were invalid (read: some falsified, some purchased).

This para-ridiculous story began with claims that Romanek had an alien encounter in Nebraska back in 2003. Initially thinking an alien doll was a “peeping Tom”, he captured this visitation on film. Romanek supposedly sat on this remarkable evidence until early 2008, when the footage was released, providing “evidence confirming the existence of extraterrestrial life”. The shitty footage is certainly evidence of a poor hoax, but Romanek claims that NASA can’t even explain his film…

Now the pair claim to be harassed by alien encounters, and they have produced videos of UFOs (airplanes) and received curious messages from aliens.

Thus began Peckman and Romanek’s campaign for fame an E.T. Commission.

Fortunately, two people have been skeptical thorns in the arses of Peckman and Romanek. Bryan and Baxter of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society have been staunch opponents of these men, trailing their movements and challenging their claims.

When Stan Romanek released his alien ‘evidence’, Bryan and Baxter replicated the footage in a viral video so superior to the original that it was touted as the original!

The guys have appeared on Larry King Live to counter Romanek’s claims, and on local news shows to oppose the ballot initiative.

Unfortunately, the proposal will now appear on the ballot, but that’s a different matter to the plan being accepted by the citizens. The biggest concern is that the proposal could pass by default, if sufficient skeptics fail to vote. People are often pissweak when it comes to tackling paranormal claims, but are more inclined to do something in the face of social embarrassment and the loss of taxpayer’s money. Fortunately, there’s a strong contingent of skeptics in Denver, and Bryan and Baxter’s tireless work to expose these tossers.

To paraphrase Baxter, let’s hope Peckman and Romanek are abducted by aliens.

Anal probe, anyone?

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18 Comments

  1. There have been a series of “sightings” in my hometown since January of 2008 when there was a mass sighting that promped MUFON to come and do an investigation. It is really embarassing to tell people where I’m from. At football games the opposing teams always have people dressed up as aliens and they make fun of our 15 minutes of CNN fame.

  2. @Gabrielbrawley: Well if these guys are right, I’ll make the tea and cucumber sandwiches as Karen suggests, and maybe you can make some of that mac n cheese you made the other night. But the aliens better bring something too. No one likes a pot-luck attendee who doesn’t bring anything.

  3. Why oh why do the aliens always bring them BACK? Actually alien abduction is no joking matter. Their “proof” and claims cause untold misery for people that become deluded their sleep illness or mental illness or medical side effect (a real side effect on many common medications is “lucid nightmares”) is really alien abduction. My whole web site is aimed not at skeptics but the people who have been convinced by paranormal abusers they are being abducted. I get 5-10 emails a week with questions, and at least 50% of them are from people that have been abused by these bozos. Instead of seeking medical help, they suffer and are very unhappy but “what can you do to fight aliens?” Alien abduction seems funny, but in real life a lot of people are hurt (see “Alien Abductions, a Dangerous Game” by Phillip Klass). For real abduction stories by REAL people, visit badalien.org and click on the “stories” section (and remember the site is for believers, not skeptics, it’s been designed by psychologist buddies for reaching the confused and sick).

    This is so sad. Is there public money going to be spent on this? Denver must have money to spare.

  4. I had the pleasure (thanks to an alert on this site) of freezing my ass off deep within the Cave of the Winds with the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society – absolutely stand up guys, terrifically hilarious, and very much appreciated by those of us here in the Mile High State seemingly unaffected by the low oxygen rate.

    I’ve more hope that the crappy economy will kill the proposal than a sincere contemplation of the proposal’s value in light of evidence – but either way, I think it’ll die.

  5. I have to agree with the other Denverite’s who have posted on this. I am mortified. I agree that the chances of this passing are remote in the extreme mostly due to people historically voting NOT to spend tax money on frivolous things like this.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I think we really have been visited by aliens. I think an advanced race picked up our radio and TV signals and sent an expedition here to check us out. I think they came in real quiet, took one good look around, and said, “let’s get the Hell out of here as fast as we can! These people are freekin nutbags!” As a result, there may have been one or two authentic sightings at some point or another and all the rest are just jealous reactionaries.

    Since this event, Earth has been blacklisted in the galactic directory and our solar system is considered a backwater slum full of loons and goons.

    Hey, it coulda happened! When I finish my warp drive starship, I’m going out there to get proof. Let’s see you laugh THEN! Ha.

  6. This is more ridiculous than the time Columbus, Ohio was thinking of buying a 300 foot statue of Christopher Columbus and put a “Native American” gift shop in the base as a compromise.

    A “Mile High” button on Fark.com can’t be far behind.

  7. The woo in Denver is only matched by the woo in Santa Fe, a couple hours south. Its elevation’s even higher — 7,000 feet.

    @weofui … is it oxygen deprivation or radiation poisoning from being so close to outer space? Or maybe proximity to all the nookyooler stuff.

  8. @sylvan.nak: I wonder if the percentage of woo is higher in transplants than among people born and raised in Denver or Santa Fe? I can see a situation where someone moves in from one of the ugly ass parts of the country where live has been this terrible struggle and then they are living in this beautiful place. Their brain can’t process the change from ugly ass to beautiful place and breaks under the strain then WOO.

  9. @kittynh: Thank you for the sobering comments and useful links.

    @weofui: Agreed! The Rocky Mountain Paranormal guys are fucking cool! It’s been my pleasure to work with them a bit of late, including a visit to the Stanley Hotel, which I’m writing about for my Naked Skeptic column.

    @Denver7M: It’s bureaucratic nonsense that this should be added to the ballot at all, but I do hope/assume that financial concerns will overturn the proposal, if skepticism doesn’t.

    @turbomike: There are indeed many other nutjobs in CO that I neglected to mention. There is insufficient space to list them all… ;)

    @sylvan.nak and @Gabrielbrawley: There are definite pockets of paranormal/pseudoscientific silliness throughout the U.S., not only in Denver (I hear Littleton, CO is a hotbed of stupid too) and Santa Fe, but also Sedona, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Savannah…shit, the list goes on. Some are New Age enclaves, others are “America’s Most Haunted city”.

    I was recently told by a transplant who works between Denver and SF that “people born in Denver are a little weird”, but this is anecdotal, of course… ;)

  10. @ Gabrielbrawley: Good point. Most of the born-there’s I know aren’t nearly as woo as the Shirley MacLaine’s who move in later, looking for crystals and groovy vibes, man.

    I know actual real people who wear tin foil hats (OK, they discreetly line their hats w/ foil) to cafes that offer WiFi. Bad, evil WiFi vibes. Boogily!

    These are also the people most likely to drink their own urine.

  11. @kittynh:

    I’ve heard of this on Penn and Teller’s show, B.S (I don’ think I can write out the name here. But I’m willing to bet that readers know of their show).
    Indeed, it’s something I had no idea about prior to seeing that episode. Even more sobering to read it here.
    The world should get out about this to reveal the truth. The REAL truth.

  12. So one time I’m walking randomly around the campus where I took college classes and I see a sign pointing into a cathedral where they’re having a “Colorado UFO Briefing” so I decide, “woo, I’ll go in!”

    Some Guy’s talking about secret Navy projects and I get thirsty and I have a dollar. I go up to this one guy who’s selling flute music, copies of 5280 with Stan Romanek on it, and is selling sodas so I give him a dollar for the soda.

    Then when Some Guy is done talking about the secret Navy project the guy who I bought the soda from goes up on stage and introduces himself as Stan Romanek.

    In an exasperating moment of shame I realize that I have given him money.

    Forgive me Skepchicks, for I hath sinned.

  13. Oh, by the way, for my part I helped organize a lecture by Dr. David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist, on the same campus to talk about the real science of astrobiology and why we do not need an extraterrestrial affairs commission when they tried to pull this last year. :)

    AND ANOTHER FUN STORY

    So I went to a lecture by Joe Nickell last Thursday and while I was signing in two people go up to him and say “have you heard about the extraterrestrial affairs commission we’re trying to set up” and he was like “yes, I was mortified to hear about it.”

    Why I encounter these people on a daily basis I do not know.

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