UFO Guy Gets Publicly Embarrassed, Repeatedly

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I know that on this channel previously I’ve been pretty critical of people who believe that aliens are visiting Earth on the regular. Like Eric Weinstein, who is quite obviously being pranked by someone who has him convinced that at some point he will be whisked away to a secret base and shown irrefutable proof of aliens. Or Avi Loeb, who is convinced that every expert in the world is wrong and that the first interstellar object to be detected entering our solar system is actually an alien craft.

But today I want to talk about a truly rational UFO/UAP proponent. Just kidding, I want to talk about Ashton Forbes, a complete mess of a person. I can’t help it. I love mess.

Ashton Forbes is a healthcare IT consultant who was blissfully unknown by the larger internet up until three or four months ago when he watched two videos purporting to show Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearing in some kind of implosion/wormhole along with three mysterious orb objects.

Flight 370 was an international flight in 2014 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that flew off-course before disappearing from radar off the coast of Northwestern Malaysia. Despite a lengthy international investigation, it’s still not clear what exactly happened to the plane and everyone on board, though some top hypotheses include a mass murder-suicide by a pilot or an explosion from the 2 tons of lithium ion batteries in the cargo. Several pieces of debris have been found on beaches in the western Indian Ocean that officials determined to be very likely or almost certainly to be from the plane.

But as you know, whenever there’s something we don’t know and may never know, conspiracy theorists and magical thinkers will jump to fill in the blanks with whatever amuses them the most. And so in this case, a lot of people think the answer is aliens. Because angels are passe.

I was just going to leave that as a throwaway, but isn’t it funny how for several millennia all mysterious phenomena were attributed to angels and demons, but from around 1950 on those are all now aliens? Poor religion, it’s really just losing on every front. Evolution, Christmas, abductions.

Anyway, about ten years ago someone posted two videos online, claiming that they show two different angles of Malaysia Flight 370 being, um, teleported to another dimension by these three little sprites. These videos were mostly ignored, but when Forbes happened across them he decided that this must be clear evidence for alien interference and he set out to call attention to them.

UFO/UAP fans welcomed him into their open arms, and he began making the rounds on various podcasts and radio shows to preach the good news. On Reddit and Twitter he argued that attempts by so-called “experts” to “debunk” the videos was just disinformation, as was Community Notes corrections and any other attempts to correct him with “facts.” This “disinformation” campaign was proof that he must be right because shadowy government agents were clearly trying to silence him.

Despite the silencing, Forbes kept appearing on bigger and bigger platforms, including Alex Jones, because of course. A few weeks ago when he finally hit my radar by appearing on the Danny Jones Podcast, in which Jones interviews fringe personalities for more than 754,000 subscribers on YouTube alone. It’s a 3-hour long monster of an interview and I only recommend diving in if you, like me, have a debilitating addiction to watching weirdos get real cringey.

It first got uncomfy when Forbes insisted that he was being silenced by Reddit moderators for banning him from their subreddits for harassment, and by Reddit for banning his subreddit. That was just a hint of what was to come, though, because after a relatively softball interview around hour 2, the cringe is launched into the stratosphere, where it is promptly surrounded by magical orbs and blipped into another dimension.

Because it turns out that prior to the interview, Jones showed those two videos – the videos that set Forbes off on his journey – to Niko Pueringer, a member of Corridor Crew, a group of visual effects artist who have a YouTube series in which they watch videos and break down how they were made. Pueringer said the videos are (to him, an expert) obviously fake though well done. As evidence he points to aspects like the fact that the clouds in the background of one video never move at all, that the supposed satellite shooting the video isn’t moving, and that the contrails coming from the plane engines would never show up on a thermal camera.

Jones shows this breakdown to Forbes, and his reaction is obviously to take this expert commentary seriously and consider each point in the spirt its offered. Just kidding he dismisses it before Pueringer has even finished explaining what he means.


The real kicker though is when Pueringer reveals that he is in possession of the actual effect the original editor used to create the “wormhole.” It was originally found by Redditors who realized it had been used in a video game back in the ‘90s, and sure enough Niko uses it to create an “implosion” that is EXACTLY the same as the one in the video. Watch as he lays them over one another and adjusts the opacity.

You may think that that’s completely unimpeachable evidence that this was faked, but according to Forbes you would be wrong. Why? I present to you the Forbes Theory of Universal Butthole Homogeneity:

“This is like saying that my butthole is your butthole because they’re similar. Right? We don’t have the same butthole because of that.”

He goes on to make it clear he doesn’t understand how special effects work, because the video game that used that effect in the 90s doesn’t look exactly the same as the effect as used in the video. I only know enough about video editing to cobble together these YouTube videos but even I know that you don’t insert an effect by literally copying the final product from another video and pasting it into your video. You apply the original effect to your video and it is then somewhat unique to your video.

Anyway like I say, the whole three hours is incredible if you’re at all interested in the psychology of a conspiracy theorist. Forbes is what we call a True Believer, who is so deeply invested in this, not just as something he believes but as something that is now a core part of his identity. Pueringer is SO nice and clear, he’s so good at explaining his expertise in a way that laypeople can understand, and he even goes on to explain what’s GOOD about these videos and why it’s perfectly understandable that laypeople would think they’re real. Like, he was so good at explaining this that I actually went over and subscribed to his videos at so I could watch the extended cut of his breakdown. Like, they’re not paying me to say that, I really did.

But even with this pitch perfect explanation, or “debunk” to use the meaner term, Forbes doesn’t even begin to consider the idea of changing his mind. In fact, he is barely even listening to him in the first place. “Dismissive” is actually too forgiving of a word to describe his attitude. It’s like explaining visual effects to a bowl of pudding. A bowl of pudding that is actually really rude and full of itself, because Forbes accuses Pueringer of lying, of being lazy, of being less knowledgeable about visual effects than a healthcare IT consultant who first got interested in this in, like, August?

But friends, that’s actually not where the story ends. Unfortunately. Because I’m not the only one who noticed that Forbes is both hopelessly deluded and incredibly arrogant. As I’ve mentioned before, the easiest people to scam are people who think they’re too smart to be scammed and people who are greedy or desperate for something. Sure enough, Forbes just got scammed. Hard. On a livestream while hundreds of people watched.

Last week, someone contacted Forbes claiming to have a RAR file that proved that the videos were real, including additional video evidence. He was skeptical at first, as he told Chris Lehto on his YouTube channel on December 14, but after hundreds of emails back and forth, with the source getting cold feet several times, Forbes finally decided he was legit. And so he agreed to pay the source $3,000. Even though the file was password protected and he didn’t have the password. But the source did give him a weird clue in the form of a picture. Because that’s how whistleblowing works. It’s like the 2017 cinematic masterpiece The Snowman. I gave you all the clues, Mr. Forbes.

Looking at the thumbnails, Forbes was convinced he had struck gold.

While Forbes was livestreaming on his own channel, the dastardly puzzle was solved (the password was the name of the file with an extra digit) and he readied himself to become the greatest UFO researcher of all time. Here’s…here’s what happened.

The file was just a declassified manual for a drone. You can find it if you google the name of the drone.

He’s down $3,000 but of course, he’s not out. Nope, he deleted all the livestreams about the scam and forged ahead, pretending he never fell for it. Of course, the internet is forever so if you’d like to see his livestreams, check the links in the transcript (first and second). When he does acknowledge that he got scammed, it’s to use it as proof that shadowy people are coordinated against him to silence his truth. Because of course.

In the meanwhile, someone on Reddit has come forward to say he was the guy who made the original videos as test footage for a short film. He described in detail how he did it, confirmed that he used that video effect from the 1990s, and as a bonus revealed that he has “dabbled in kink and erotic photography” and says, quote, “I’ve photographed a butthole or two in my time. They. Are. Not. The. Same. Buttholes, like combustion-based 90s vfx elements, are more like fingerprints. No two are alike.”

Is he telling the truth? I do not know. Anyone can go on the internet and tell lies, about VFX and buttholes. What we do know for sure is that it can be very costly to cast yourself as the main character in your own real-life conspiracy whistleblower movie. Unfortunately, I suspect that this won’t be the last time someone scams Forbes, and I further suspect that he’s going to continue to get interviewed by popular podcasts. Hey, I wonder if Eric Weinstein is looking for a good guest? God help me, I’d probably tune in. I know. I’m sick.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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