Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Silence is golden

A while back my cousin Carla from New Mexico brought to my attention a paranormal phenomenon I had never heard of before.  Carla's husband Dan is a geography professor at New Mexico State University, and the three of us basically have the same approach to the paranormal; namely to discuss it, with grave expressions, drawing up maps, passing back and forth grainy, blurred photographs of ghosts, UFOs, and sasquatches ("sasquatchi?" "sasquatchim?" There's got to be a more entertaining plural than "sasquatches."), and examining evidence of Ancient Astronauts Visiting the Earth.  Then we all burst into guffaws because we just can't take it any more.

In any case, Dan (code name: Dr. Monsoon Havoc, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., President, and Director of the Department of Multi-Dimensional Topography) and Carla (code name: Cria Havoc, Vice President, and Director of the Department of Hermetics, Hermeneutics, and Historiography) kindly inducted me two years ago into their organization, ISNOT (Institute for the Study of Non-Objective Theories).  (My code name: Gordon "Whirlwind" McTeague, Director of the Department of Exobiology and Cryptozoology, a.k.a. "The Blond Yeti").  Since then, it's been one adventure after another, as we investigated reports of El Chupacabra, the Connecticut Hill Monster (the upstate New York cousin of Bigfoot), and various sightings of the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.  But now... now, we have a serious matter to look into.

Carla/Cria sent me a link with information about a place called the Zone of Silence.  This spot, located about 400 miles from El Paso, Texas, and near the point where the borders of the Mexican states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Durango meet, has a lot of the same characteristics as the Bermuda Triangle.  (Read about it here and here.)  Within this area, "radio and TV signals... are gobbled up," "strange lights or fireballs (maneuver) at night, changing colors, hanging motionless and then taking off at great speed," and there are falls of "small metallic balls... known locally as guĂ­jolas," which are "collected by locals and visitors alike, and treated with great reverence."

My thought on this last part is that if you are the sort of person who might be tempted to treat a small metallic ball with great reverence, you probably should not be allowed to wander about in the desert unaccompanied.

But I digress.

One difference between this place and the Bermuda Triangle is that being dry land (extremely dry, in this case), the Zone of Silence can also host honest-to-Fox-Mulder Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  There have been several reports of meetings with "tall, blond individuals," who spoke flawless Spanish "with a musical ring."  In one case, they were wearing yellow raincoats, and helped some lost travelers whose car was stuck in the mud during one of the area's infrequent, but torrential, downpours.  This is encouraging; most of the other aliens I've heard of seem more interested in evil pastimes, such as infiltrating world governments, dissecting livestock, and placing computer chips in the heads of abducted earthlings, after the obligatory horrifying medical exam on board the spacecraft, about which we will say no more out of respect for the more sensitive members of the studio audience.  Myself, I find reports of helpful aliens distinctly encouraging, and hope you won't think me self-serving if I just mention briefly that if there are any like-minded aliens visiting upstate New York soon, I could sure use a hand cleaning my gutters.

Of course, my more scientific readers will be asking themselves why, exactly, is this spot a "zone of silence?"  Answers vary, as you might expect.  One explanation I've seen proffered is the presence of uranium ore in nearby mountains (because diffuse deposits of radioactive ores clearly attract aliens, cause small metal balls to fall from the sky, and interfere with radio signals).  Another is that this spot represents a "concentration of earth energies."  Whatever the hell that means.  It is also claimed that there is an "astronomical observatory thousands of years old... a Mexican Stonehenge" in the area.  Well, that's enough for me!  Uranium ore + "concentration of earth energies" + anything that can be compared to Stonehenge = serious paranormal activity!  ISNOT is on it!  Mobilize the troops!

Well, not really.  Sadly, we're not able to mobilize in this direction at the present time.  The disappointing fact is that given the current state of affairs in northern Mexico, it's not all that appealing to go down and visit the place.  I mean, tall blond aliens with yellow rain slickers are one thing; dodging bullets from drug dealers is quite another.  I think the field work will have to wait until things calm down a little.

Until then, however, keep your eyes open for any other Non-Objective phenomena that may pop up -- we have three highly trained professionals here at ISNOT who are ready to investigate.  I'll post further research notes here.  You'll be the first to know.


  1. I've been trying to get the volunteer coordinator for the city government where I live, to get me designated official liaison to any extraterrestrials who should happen to stop by. She says it would probably require some action by the city council. I've said I'd be happy to make a presentation to them on the issue.

  2. Also, I wonder whether the helpful aliens in yellow raincoats are related in some way to the man in the yellow raincoat who is always so helpful to Curious George. Might the Reys have been unconsciously influenced by mental rays beamed from the Yellow Raincoat Nebula, where perhaps these folks originate? Dick Tracy, too, is probably of extraterrestrial origin.

  3. Yellow raincoats? Hmmm.....

    Yellow is at about 575nm on the color spectrum.
    Raincoat has 8 letters in it. So 575+8=583.
    Mexican Stonehenge would be a circular structure, so 583/3.14159=185.57, which is roughly how many pockets the typical raincoat has.

    To find the concentration of Earth energy, first we would need to juice the Earth, remove the pulp, and evaporate a portion of the remaining water to form the concentrate.

    The mass of the Earth is roughly:
    6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.
    If we were to juice the Earth, we could receive an estimated 20% of it's mass in Earth-juice, or 1,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms. If we extracted 50% of that mass as excess water, we have our final number of 600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms of Earth concentrate. I have heard accounts that this is the estimated mass of the planet Nibiru.

    The desert of Mexico is a likely spot for them to gather data, as the Earth is already in a low water, concentrate form in that area.

    The crackpots had it wrong all along. Nibiru isn't coming for us, Nibiru IS us, after the cataclysmic "Great Juicing", which, by the recent activity, appears to be imminent.

  4. *doffs hat* You win the "Best Comment of the Month" award.

  5. imho, you've won 345 awards. I'm just your doppelganger. If a 25-year science teacher wants to expound upon pseudo-science myths and crack-pottery, I'll hit the lights and get the popcorn.

    I found Skeptophilia by accident from an article on Yahoo related to Elenin back in June. I knew it was hogwash and looked for more information. Lo-and-behold! Been hooked since. What that means is that your skeptic lighthouse is shining bright enough for the interested observer to find.

    You sir, need to quit your day job, get a toilet installed in your desk chair, and spend the rest of your days in this noble pursuit.

    Hmmmm, no. Scratch that. We need that objective mind of yours helping to keep our children... grounded.
    (insert deity here) knows they need all the help they can get in this ever-more complicated world we live in.

    Thank you for Skeptophilia. It's the bees knees.

  6. McTeague: Thank you for all of your hard work on behalf of ISNOT. As we have recently completed a consultation contract concerning the Zone of Silence for a documentary film channel, it is my hope that it will lead to critical funding and further investigations into this and similar locations throughout the world. We will be in touch.
    - Dr. Havoc