Amateur video taken last week recorded what is claimed to be one or more UFOs appearing in the skies over Los Angeles. The video was posted to YouTube with the message that one Robert Bingham "summoned" the UFOs for more than 100 eyewitnesses.
The video was supposedly shot May 19 and features a Hollywood actor named Blake Cousins as a presenter. The video includes a few seconds of what seems to be two shiny, gold-colored round objects in the sky, along with interviews with eyewitnesses describing the amazing event.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the video is how poor it is. Typically, low-quality UFO photos and footage are excused as being an understandable byproduct of surprise: the mysterious flying object suddenly appeared to the shock of everyone present, and blurry images are the best they could get under the circumstances. The implication is that the photo or video was lucky to have been captured at all, and so it's unreasonable to expect sharp, clear, steady images.
However, what allegedly happened on May 19 is very different. In this case, the UFOs were allegedly summoned (or predicted) by a man named Robert Bingham, who says he is in contact with extraterrestrials. They told him (and he told dozens of others) where and when to look in the skies to see them. If that is true, why wasn't the video better composed? Or, why didn't he bring in local news teams, with their high-quality professional cameras? [Why Ghosts Get 'Spooked' by HD Cameras]
The video includes several red flags casting doubt on its authenticity. One eyewitness yells, "straight up, straight up!" though footage shows that the objects were not directly above, but in fact some distance away at about a 50- or 60-degree angle, above and behind a nearby building. Perhaps a tip that the objects were later added to the video.
Even eyewitnesses who appear in the YouTube video can't agree on what they saw — or even how many there were. One woman states clearly that there were several objects that "pretty much stood in one spot," while later in the video a young man claims that the (singular) UFO "was doing erratic movements." Only two objects appear in the video, yet the cameraman interviews a woman who said she saw three UFOs, and a man who displayed an image on his phone of at least seven UFOs, which he interprets as a Christian cross.
Were there one, two, three or seven UFOs? Why did different witnesses and cameras at the same event report and record different things? Such discrepancies raise the possibility that footage and interviews from different times and events may have been edited together to suggest that all of them occurred on May 19, or that eyewitnesses and photographers were not seeing the same things. Balloons, faked footage, the power of suggestion or something else? Who knows?
Ironically, this footage — whether real or fake — damages the credibility of UFOs. If it's a hoax, as many suspect, then it simply highlights how easily people can be fooled. On the other hand, if it's authentic, it demonstrates why UFO evidence will likely always be elusive. If UFO believers cannot capture better images of what they're looking for, even under the best of circumstances, then they should probably give up the search. If this is indeed "the footage that believers have been waiting for," as the video's makers claim, it falls far short of anything resembling credible evidence.
Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirermagazine and author of Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His website is www.BenjaminRadford.com.
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