Clinton’s Campaign Promise and Carter’s Barium Cloud

Barium cloud from launch (via NASA)

Barium cloud from launch (via NASA)

So apparently Hillary Clinton is something of a UFO buff. In recent interviews, the Democratic hopeful has been vowing to publicly release secret government files on Area 51 and other UFO phenomenon, so long as there was anything substantive to release and that releasing the information wouldn’t threaten national security. She made the promise most recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

While I’m sure such claims send at least a little flutter of hope through the hearts of UFO believers everywhere, it’s worth noting that even if she’s sincere, she isn’t the first president to make such a promise. Way back in 1976, then-candidate Jimmy Carter made a similar promise: to “make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists.” Nothing much came of Carter’s campaign promise concerning UFOs, though whether this was because there was nothing to release or because the Syndicate successfully suppressed his efforts to do so remains an unanswered question.

In Carter’s case, his interest in the UFO question and his promise to reveal the truth were personal: he had experienced his own “close encounter” with an unidentified object in the sky. The incident report Carter wrote for the International UFO Bureau is online. In short, it says that in October 1969, just after sundown,  Carter saw a “bright light” high in the sky over Leary, GA. It changed colors several times, from greenish to bluish to reddish, as it moved towards the president before then changing course and receding into the distance. He would later say that the object “didn’t have any solid substance to it”.

Not much of a report, to be sure. It’s worth noting that Carter himself has never gone any further than to say that the light was unidentified. He’s never claimed it was an alien spacecraft or anything. But it’s a tale of a presidential encounter with something in the sky, and that alone has been enough to keep it alive as a data point in the files of UFO believers over the years.

It’s possible that Carter’s UFO has become an IFO recently. On a recent episode of the SGU, the gang shared a letter they’d received that claimed to have the “truth” of the story. In this case, the supposed UFO is being identified as a barium cloud launched from a local Air Force base as part of atmospheric research. Barium clouds, the writer claims, “would initially glow bluish or greenish, with parts of it taking on a reddish glow as some of the barium becomes ionized in the high altitude sunlight.” The writer claims that such launches happened just after sundown and just before sunrise, as these were the only times when the cloud could be launched into upper atmosphere sunlight while the observers on the ground were in darkness (during daylight, the glow would be lost in the background sunlight).

Is this the explanation for Carter’s sighting? Obviously, we can never be 100% sure, but it’s reasonable and convincing. The use of metallic clouds in atmospheric research is a pretty common thing, and NASA uses barium clouds  still today when studying the atmosphere. d The phenomenon of glowing clouds is one that they know about and put out press releases about, in part to prevent erroneous UFO reports from laypeople unfamiliar with them. NASA even notes that, yes, “since the observer must be in darkness while the barium cloud is in sunlight, the technique is limited to local time observations near sunset or sunrise,” in keeping with Carter’s report. Worth noting is that these barium cloud releases were conducted by a government agency; had Carter looked in the right places  and aasked the right questions during his presidency, he might actually have found the explanation himself (and presumably released the revelation to the public, as promised).

Clinton, as far as I’m aware, has never claimed to see a UFO herself, but it probably doesn’t matter. As long as people believe there’s a conspiracy to hide the “UFO Truth” out there, politicians like Carter and Clinton are going to continue to promise to reveal the truth. That no elected official, at any level of government, has actually done so can mean one of two things: either there’s really nothing much to reveal, or that the colonizing reptoids who really run the world’s governments have done their utmost to keep these meddling do-gooders from releasing the Truth. I’ll let you decide which one is the more likely explanation.

About Alison Hudson

Alison is a writer and educator living near Ann Arbor, MI. She blogs regularly about skepticism, games, and the transgender experience.
This entry was posted in Conspiracy Theories, Space and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Clinton’s Campaign Promise and Carter’s Barium Cloud

  1. George Kanakaris says:

    At last a serious topic in her campaign.

  2. Karolyn says:

    I just think it’s so sad that people cannot open their minds to all the possibilities that exist outside the realm of anything proven by science. So limiting and narrow.

    • Haldurson says:

      My mind is open. I am willing to believe that there is alien life somewhere in the universe, and that life did not just start on one lone planet. That said, the problem isn’t my mind being open, it’s the believer’s minds being closed to the possibility that they could be wrong, especially in light of the fact that everything they believe in is so incredibly unlikely to be ludicrous.

      Think of it this way — it’s one thing to believe that Rhinos exist, and quite another to believe that there’s a herd of them hiding in the Catskills. A herd of Rhinos living in the Catskills is actually far more likely than alien visitation, simply because 1. We know Rhinos exist because of physical evidence, and 2. The distance between Africa and New York State is so much less than the distance between us and the nearest star, and 3. a Rhino could conceivably cross the Atlantic within its own lifetime without as significant an energy cost.

      But, if I were to tell you that I believe that there’s a herd of Rhinos living in the Catskills, and I even claim to have seen one, I am 100% sure that most UFO believers would think I was making it up, because the idea is unbelievable. Who would be the open-minded person then?

      • Karolyn says:

        Interesting comment. However, I know two people personally who have had UFO experiences, both of whom are upstanding members of the community – one a teacher and the other a successful businessman. They do not divulge their experiences to everyone because it’s a small rural town; and they don’t want to branded as nuts. I have also met another man who related his experience. These experiences were not just seeing some light in the sky either. One of them also has tangible evidence left behind at the site of a crop circle years ago. Also, why are so many now-retired government employees now coming forward with their stories? Actually, even former astronauts, like Buzz Aldrin, have stepped forward.

        • Haldurson says:

          I also have a friend who has had a UFO experience, and I, myself, have had one. The difference is that I never jumped to the conclusion that what I was seeing was an alien spaceship. IT was just something I could not identify.

          There is the rational reaction and then jumping to conclusion reaction that one can have when one sees something that you don’t understand. A rational reaction would be ‘I wonder what that is’. The irrational reaction is to immediately claim to know what it is, that it is an alien from a distant planet.

          Furthermore, people see things that aren’t there ALL THE TIME. There’s a saying that eye-witness testimony is the least reliable kind of evidence, because of that very fact.

          There was an experiment done years ago, where a group of people went out into a field and almost every one of them claimed to have seen an glowing object flying in the distance, making unbelievably fast movements in the sky. The gathering itself was the experiment. The person leading the group had a collaborator who attached a pie tin from a flag pole on the side of the field. That pie tin was motionless — it didn’t move at all. But some people saw it move. I mean they really did see it move — they weren’t lying, their senses were lying. That’s what our senses do, because our senses are merely signals that our brains interpret through the filter of everything we believe and know. So your brain can literally tell you that that pie tin is a flying saucer that is dipping and dashing. All it took was one person to suggest that, and then almost everyone saw the same thing.

          There are also a lot of cultural suggestions of what UFOs look like and behave. It’s interesting that when you trace the history of UFO and alien sightings, that it seems to follow the history of movie science fiction. For example, it wasn’t until after space ships were depicted as flying saucers that people started seeing flying saucers. I don’t think that that’s a coincidence, knowing about how much suggestion plays into our senses.

          I don’t doubt that you saw something. I even stated that I’ve seen things. The sign of the closed mind is not someone saying “I don’t know what that is”, but instead saying “I do know what that is, and it’s an alien object”.

          • Karolyn says:

            The thing is, they are such close encounters. One of them was when this woman was driving her car and saw her son looking out the side window up at the sky. There was a craft traveling right next to her, though higher up; and every time another car would show up on the road, which was lonely, it would shoot up and away. She reported it to the local military; and they had no answers. These people also have “v” shaped markings in the backyard that have never gone away over the years. They believe it was from the landing and take off of a v-shaped craft. They have lost time also. The metal artifact he has is very unusual and years ago a self-described “whistleblower” said he was going to investigate it and ended up almost absconding with it. It appears that he actually did cut a piece off. It is a strange fused metal object. It was in the middle of a farmer’s field with a crop circle in the middle of rural SC. These people have had numerous encounters; and as I intimated, are very intelligent individuals who are not prone to make-believe. As a matter of fact, the woman really does not like to talk about her experiences because she’s too uncomfortable.

          • Ray says:

            “There’s a saying that eye-witness testimony is the least reliable kind of evidence,…”

            There’s also an old lawyer’s saying that the only thing worse than one eyewitness is two eyewitnesses. Seems they often contradict each other.

            The moral to all of this? Never take such stories at face value the way Karolyn always does.

        • Haldurson says:

          And as far as crop circles are concerned, we’ve established how most of them are made:
          1. Some are clearly man-made — but even after the actual creators of said crop circles came forward and DEMONSTRATED how they made them, there were deniers who claimed that the crop circles could not possibly be man-made. They’ve been made on-film, and they have the same exact qualities that the deniers say must be alien. There even have been corporate entities that funded the creation of crop circles as advertising stunts.

          2. There was a case in Australia, where it was discovered that Wallabies were getting stoned off of opium poppies and making crop circles. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8118257.stm

          The question then becomes, if you see a crop circle, should you assume that it was made by aliens, after knowing that we have more mundane, and thus, more believable evidence as to their origins? I’m not saying that it’s 100% impossible, but I am saying that choosing the less believable explanation and claiming that it is more believable is just not rational.

          • Haldurson says:

            Sorry, that was Tasmania, not Australia. But I couldn’t see a way of editing my response.

          • Karolyn says:

            It’s all in the perspective. What’s rational to one is not to another. I’ve read and heard too much to be a denier. It’s just who I am. Anecdotal evidence goes a long way with me. I think, too, that just because so many skeptics are “holier than thou” and denigrate those who disagree, that it makes me want to go against the grain even more. Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

    • Mudguts says:

      I am not sure if this is harmless pandering to the masses or not. I would suspect it is as politicians still pander to the religions as well. One of the panderings of the USA presidents resulted in the establishment of NCCAM’s. This served everyone outside of the USA. Other governments dont have to fork out for CAMs trials for the high risk of having an institution that still hasnt got one up..

      Thats a pretty good revealing the truth in the class of fantasies the public likes. Maybe NCCAM’s could comfortably be assigned UFO’s in their brief. The woo watchers would be all for it. having an established 10 billion dollar sink hole doing something “real” and revealing the “truth” whilst waiting for holy water and pin pricks to start working.

      I’ll write to the candidates stating that we here in Oz would love you guys to set this up.. After all, those interventional prayer regimes that fail so miserably may in fact be bastardised by slugs from proxima centauri.

      Open minds? FGS, natural events that may require study have been attributed to the the divine, the supernatural and now the greys since the inception of man kind being able to pass on info..

      Karolyn.. are you so closed minded not to attribute these to centaurs?

      A closed mind is one that accepts gossip.

  3. ausGeoff says:

    I really think you’re overstating and/or misinterpreting Hillary Clinton’s personal viewpoint on the issue (as she correctly describes them) of “unexplained aerial phenomenon”—which is a little surprising considering that you’re one of her supporters. Anyway. All HC said she would do were she POTUS would be to “open up government files on the subject”. HC also responded, when asked if she believed in UFOs, that “I don’t know”.

    For you to draw the conclusion that she’s “something of a UFO buff” simply defies logic Alison. You’ve also managed to have that tired, emotive “conspiracy” word hovering at the fringes of your argument, with the implication that the entire UFO thing is only for wackos. Your pejorative assertion that HC has promised to reveal the “UFO truth out there” is also meaningless—other than allowing you to cast more aspersions about her.

    The overall, single thrust of HC’s public statements was that she was going to open up any and all government files relating to UFOs or UAPs or whatever; nothing more, nothing less. I fail to see why you’ve taken the time to write about this, particularly since the majority of your piece is more about damning Jimmy Carter’s claims of forty years ago. Guilt by association?

    NB: I do NOT believe in the existence (as claimed and/or allegedly sighted) of UFOs.

    • Alison Hudson says:

      I think you’re misinterpreting a little tongue and cheek for something more malicious re: Clinton’s position. I found humor in the fact that, 40 years after Carter, we still have presidential candidates vowing to throw open the files, should there be any files there to throw open. I suppose I can’t please all the people all the time. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  4. Macky says:

    I liked your article Alison. Very reasonable possible explanation for Carter’s sighting.

  5. Richard1941 says:

    I have never seen a UFO close enough to identify it as such.

  6. Alvin Hopper says:

    What the heck does Haldurson mean, “That was Tasmania, not Australia”? Doesn’t this person know that the Commonwealth of Australia consists of 6 States (and some Territories), and that Tasmania is one of those States? It’s a bit like saying “That was Hawaii, not the United States”. Just try checking the facts before making ill-informed comments.

    • Haldurson says:

      I made a couple of misstatements — I’m a very fast typist, and I type faster than I think. Unfortunately, once you press enter, there’s no way that I could find to actually edit what I typed.

  7. Alvin Hopper says:

    Thanks, Haldurson for the clarification. If an entry can’t be edited, I suppose one possible way of correcting a mistake in what has been submitted would be to file a follow-up (corrective) entry.

    By the way, Australians in general and Tasmanians in particular do get irritated at being told that Tasmania isn’t part of Australia.

    • ausGeoff says:

      As an Aussie (re the Australia/Tasmania issue) I always have a laugh—juvenile I know—whenever I call Canadians “North Americans”, and get irate responses, as technically they are of course. Along with Cuba, Mexico, and Jamaica.

      • mudguts says:

        Now if Hal had said Manly or Collingwood, we may have understood the mistake..

        I think you have to be outside a hell of a lot and noticing stuff to even have an appreciation of what isnt anything more spectacular than a rock or a space station.

        As usual, the key to a lot of mistaken phenomena is a camera and having some idea of how to use it for fun and games.

  8. Redmud says:

    Was that a barium cloud coming out of Trump’s mouth last week in Cleveland?

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