Phoenix lights

Lynne D. Kitei, The Phoenix Lights, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2004.

Dr Kitei was ready for the Phoenix Lights when they appeared on the evening of 13 March 1997 because she had first seen them, she claimed, on the evening of 6 February 1995. Her husband saw them first and together they not only watched them from their bedroom window, but managed to photograph them. "Less than a hundred yards away from our property, three objects hung in mid-air, about 50 to 75 feet above the ground."

One might expect that a doctor would adopt a scientific approach to investigating UFO reports, but there is nothing scientific about this book. Dr Kitei contacts various ufologists and asks their opinions of her sightings, photos and videos, and she seems to adopt a policy of believing everything they tell her, so long as it is what she wants to hear.
Some of these people have their views on UFOs in general, and the Phoenix Lights in particular, quoted at great length. The more "New Age" and extravagant their views are the better, it seems. Dr Bruce Maccabee was consulted but he hardly rates a mention, presumably because he attributed some (not all) of the sightings to flares and doesn't care for quasi-religious interpretations of the phenomena.

She is very impressed by Jim Dilettoso and his computer analyses of UFO photographs. Perhaps she would have been slightly less impressed if she had taken the trouble to do a bit of basic research on him and some of the other colourful characters she describes. She is surely capable of logging on to the internet and using a search engine. A good example of the sort of information which is typical of many "respected" ufologists is this paragraph from an article entitled High-Tech's Missing Link (Michael Kiefer, Phoenix (Arizona) New Times, 21-27 April 1993):
Jim Dilettoso's bio is a tangled circuit board of fact and fiction, disputed achievements, inventions and connections that can't be documented, others he won't talk about. He claims he has a Ph.D: in biomedical engineering from McGill University in Montreal but the registrar's office there never heard of him. He claims an undergraduate degree from the University of Hartford, but its records show he took a single math course there.
If Dr Kitei had taken the trouble to dig up some facts on Dilettoso she would also have learned that he argued that the Billy Meier photos and films were of real UFOs, and that the famous Mexico City UFO video of 1997 - eventually shown to be definitely faked - was also genuine. An other character who touted the Mexico City video as genuine, "the acclaimed Mexican journalist and respected UFO maven" (her description and, no, she's not being ironic) Jaime Maussan, tells her just what she wants to hear. They are trying to communicate with us; if governments accept their presence they will present themselves, etc.

A clue to why the author prefers a quasi-religious rather than a scientific approach to UFO reports can be found in chapter 12: "I am proud of my heritage and its spiritual and moral foundations. Throughout my childhood. I was blessed with a strong, loving family, based on these values. But the fact is that organized religion didn't enter our lives."

This obviously left a gap which had to be filled somehow, but her pursuit of New Age ideals has led her to treat scientific data, theories and methods in a cavalier manner. -- Reviewed by John Harney, from Magonia 85, July 2004

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