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Re: Ghost ships?

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:44 am
by outhouse
lpetrich wrote:
I find it hard to believe that people only started seeing ghost ships in the 18th cy.,.

My guess would be that is due to the sheer number of boats in use at that time, and the ease and speed at which stories were saved and passed on.'

I would agree these stories have existed for as long as man has been on water.

Re: Ghost ships?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:38 pm
by lpetrich
outhouse wrote:
lpetrich wrote:
I find it hard to believe that people only started seeing ghost ships in the 18th cy.,.
My guess would be that is due to the sheer number of boats in use at that time, and the ease and speed at which stories were saved and passed on.'
Possibly, but ghost stories have been around for centuries. Here are some examples from nearly 2000 years ago: My Secret Atheist Blog: Some Ancient Roman Ghost Stories

10 Ghost Stories That Will Haunt You for Life ( notes an Egyptian one from 1200 BCE and a Chinese one from around 786 - 783 BCE, and some more recent ones.

Re: Ghost ships?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:03 pm
by lpetrich
My reference to Unidentified Sailing Objects was intended to give historical perspective to Unidentified Flying Objects.

Mysterious aerial apparitions have been seen for centuries, apparitions like the Fata Morgana, and Ezekiel's famous one. List of reported UFO sightings - Wikipedia notes apparitions described by Livy (The History of Rome, Book 21, Chapter 62), Plutarch (Lucullus, 8.6, on Perseus), Josephus (War of the Jews Book VI, sect. 296 (Ch. 5, par. 3)), the Shepherd of Hermas's author, and Cassius Dio.

Livy: "an appearance of ships had shone forth from the sky"
Josephus: "there appeared in the air over the whole country chariots and armed troops coursing through the clouds, surrounding the cities"
According to Plutarch, a Roman army commanded by Lucullus was about to begin a battle with Mithridates VI of Pontus when "all on a sudden, the sky burst asunder, and a huge, flame-like body was seen to fall between the two armies. In shape, it was most like a wine-jar, and in colour, like molten silver." Plutarch reports the shape of the object as like a wine-jar (pithos). The apparently silvery object was reported by both armies.
To me, that's rather obviously a meteorite fall. Some meteorites are light-colored, like this one: An October 1933 Witnessed Fall: Pesyanoe, Russia | Meteorite Times Magazine
The Shepherd of Hermas:
On a sunny day near the Via Campana, a road connecting Rome and Capua, a single witness, probably Hermas the brother of Pope Pius I, saw "a 'beast' like a piece of pottery (ceramos) about 100 feet in size, multicolored on top and shooting out fiery rays, landed in a dust cloud, accompanied by a "maiden" clad in white. Vision 4.1-3. in The Shepherd of Hermas.

Re: Ghost ships?

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:18 pm
by lpetrich
All these apparitions were presumed supernatural, as far as I know. But in the United States in 1896-1898, there was a big wave of aerial apparitions that were presumed to be advanced technology rather than some supernatural effects, a wave of sightings of "mysterious airships". It was likely the first such wave, though it might have had predecessors.

Many of the airships were seen in the distance, being UFOlogist J. Allen Hynek's nocturnal lights and daylight disks. Many of the distant ones were likely sightings of stars and planets, and some were burning objects attached to balloons and birds. But some people claimed to have seen them up close, sometimes close enough to see their crews. They were usually human, with the airships having been designed by some ingenious inventor. But some were Martians. There were even a few cases of airship crashes, like an airship crashing into a windmill near Aurora, Texas. Many of the closer encounters and crashes are almost certainly journalistic hoaxes and joke stories, it must be pointed out. This wave petered out without any big cult of them emerging, but were some more mysterious airships seen in New Zealand in 1909.

In 1917, the Fatima, Portugal Sun Miracle happened. Large numbers of people watched the Sun dance across the sky. That seems to me an artifact of staring at the Sun. I've done that a few times, and I see bright swirling in the Sun. But its believers consider it supernatural.

During World War II, several nations' military pilots reported mysterious lights that chased their planes, lights that became known as "foo fighters". Some foo fighters, "searchlight airplanes" reported by B-29 pilots near Japan late in WWII, turned out to be Venus. Foo fighters were often considered airplanes from the other side.

Then in 1946, there were lots of sightings in Sweden and nearby of "ghost rockets". They were often presumed to be Russian missiles and the like.

On June 24, 1947, the modern era of UFO's started with businessman Kenneth Arnold seeing some odd objects that skipped like saucers near Mt. Rainier as he was flying nearby in his private airplane. Journalists soon turned that into "flying saucers", and the flying-saucer meme has been with us ever since. The most immediate effect was a big wave of flying-saucer sightings, and even a case of an airplane seemingly shot down by a flying saucer: the Mantell case.

After noting their outperforming any Earthly aircraft, flying-saucer "believers" decided that they were extraterrestrial spacecraft.

The United States Air Force got interested in flying saucers because some of them might have been secret Russian airplanes and balloons and the like, some USAF personnel apparently believed the extraterrestrial-spacecraft hypothesis for a while. Publicly, however, the USAF pooh-poohed the saucers, something that seemed to Donald Keyhoe and others like the USAF was covering up what it knows about these vehicles. The USAF eventually became more public about them, and introduced the name "Unidentified Flying Object" or UFO for them.

I must note that some UFOlogists, like Jacques Vallee, have proposed alternatives to the extraterrestrial hypothesis, like the interdimensional hypothesis. It states that UFO's come from parallel universes or etheric/astral planes in our Universe, as opposed to the familiar physical plane. That seems to me like a backdoor version of the supernatural hypothesis. But the Fatima Sun Miracle was likely the last big mysterious aerial event to be commonly considered supernatural rather than technological.

Re: Ghost ships?

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:22 pm
by DCHindley
WRT popular belief in ET contacts and its association with spirituality, I found Diana Tumminia's Alien Worlds: Social and Religious Dimensions of Extraterrestrial Contact (Religion and Politics, Paperback, May 17, 2007) to be interesting.

Despite being a credentialed academic, Tumminia is a little strange herself, but reading the book kind of puts the chaotic world of such views into context, as she portrays the adherents as being more than a little "kooky".

She does not touch on USOs (Unidentified Sailing Objects) or UNFOs (Unidentified Non-Flying Objects). These may have a much better chance of being real phenomenon, but all in all, people tend to project cultural fears as apparitions.