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A Russian news source reported that SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) had released a statement announcing the detection of "three giant spaceships" heading towards Earth. Rather than investigating the claim, many journalists were quick to report the shocking news, only to later learn that the story had been fabricated.

False claim about UFO attack fools many (again)

On Wednesday, a Russian news source reported that the U.S. organization SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) had released a statement announcing the detection of “three giant spaceships” heading towards Earth. Rather than investigating the claim, many journalists were quick to report the shocking news, only to later learn that the story had been fabricated.

Alleged spaceship (credit: SkyView/Examiner)

Alleged spaceship (credit: SkyView/Examiner)

The Russian news site Pravda published their article on December 22nd in which the claim was made about SETI detecting three spaceships via the HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) system in Alaska. The article claims the ships are projected to reach Earth in December of 2012—the same time period as the grim 2012 doomsday supposition. An interesting coincidence? An intentional exploit is more likely the case.

It is possible that the Pravda article is based on information published in a December 8th article on Examiner.com, though both articles contain different details. The Examiner article is more detailed, crediting a source for the information, as well as providing images of the supposed spaceships.

The Examiner article contains the name “Craig Kasnov,” a supposed SETI astrophysicist who the author cites as the source of this “spaceship” information. But after a little journalistic digging, it appears that SETI astrophysicist Craig Kasnov does not exist.

Phil Plait, an astronomer who spent ten years working on the Hubble telescope, saw a number of red flags when he read the Examiner article, and he did a remarkable job detailing these red flags. One major flag was the name of the alleged SETI astrophysicist. Plait performed some initial searches on Google and in astronomical journal databases, but the only reference to “Craig Kasnov” he was able to locate were related to articles referencing the three spaceships. Digging deeper, Plait went straight to the source—he called SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak. Shostak responded, “Well, I’ve never heard of this guy working here, and neither has our HR department . . . Of course, maybe he volunteered here once, or was a summer intern. But he’s not an astrophysicist for the SETI Institute . . .”

Actual blue image of the "spaceship" (credit: SkyView/Phil Plait)

Actual blue image of the 'spaceship' (credit: SkyView/Phil Plait)

A man by the name of Craig Kasnoff does exist, and was involved with SETI only insofar as being involved with the development of the SETI@Home software (software installed on personal computers to process SETI data). He was not/is not with SETI, and is not an astrophysicist.

Plait also examined the “spaceship” photos referenced in the Examiner article. Drawing on his experience working with Hubble data, he said, “[H]aving seen stuff like this a bazillion times, I can tell right away this is what’s called an image defect.”

Another astronomer saw red flags when he read the Examiner article, and his opinions were published yesterday in an article entitled, “2012 Alien Invasion? Um, No.” on Discovery’s website (article removed by source).

However, the Examiner article and its claim about approaching spaceships was scrutinized almost immediately after its publishing on December 8th, and skeptics were quick to point out the non-existence of any Craig Kasnov at SETI on the website AboveTopSecret.com. So why did so many journalists and media sources decide to report on alien spaceships heading to Earth almost a month after the initial Examiner article was published? The December 22nd Pravda article is most likely to blame for giving people the impression that this was breaking news, but this is just another example of the media’s insatiable appetite for UFO-related news, and the lack of basic research before publishing a story.

**UPDATE**
Read Seth Shostak’s response to the fabricated story here.

About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.

5 comments

  1. avatar

    And so the paranoia continues… thank God for Open Minds and other respectable news outlets for not publishing real news before the research is done. Wish the mass media would take note.

  2. avatar

    Why would anyone beleive that extraterrestrials would attack humanity? If they ( E.T, E.B.E, U.F.O’s ) wanted us gone they would have wiped us off this planet thousands of years agoe. If they wanted us gone now they would not need days, months, or years to orchestrate the annihilation of man kind. The effort would literaly be a “push of a buttton” scenario. In fact, the rapidly growing body of evidance has illustrated that human life may have been seeded onto this planet or, that the life existing on planet earth was biologically alterd to produce the current denomination of man. It does not realy matter which is true about the origin of man in this case. What DOES matter is that life, quite obviously, in all its forms is GREATLY valued and cherrished by the rest of the universe. We must be verry lucky that other civilizations are not cruel to us as we are to ourselvs.

  3. avatar

    Please, for God, it’s a rumor, a hoax, and a fabrication that uncritical web sites have reprinted without checking.
    If it were true the NASA and SETI would be the first one to give the notice, because they need desperately funds and money and this would be the perfect excuse

    Check: http://www.seti.org/page.aspx?pid=1539

  4. avatar

    Cut all funds and money to NASA, SETI, etc, and there will be immediately contact with alleged extraterrestrial beings. And a lot of money for the Air Force plans.

  5. avatar

    One may not forget that are a lot of lonely people out in the net. And there is also a collective loneliness of mankind itself as knowledge grows about the universum and physics. The world is big but tiny in comparison with the cosmos. There is a conscious of being so alone in this huge universum. And there is a growing conscious about the possible threats coming from outer space. This mixture is the nutrition of the rumors around extraterrestrials.

    Roland Emmerich is the profiteer of this kind phantasy he nutures again and again. In his shadow there are growing all kind of religious sects. One of them sent a book about “Hercolubus”. From Ushuaia till New Zealand there are no real documents about “Nibiru” coming in. If you look into forums in that geographical area there are no reports about this supposed to be Brown Dwarf.

    Nevertheless the cosmos is dangerous. The military-industrial complex of the United States has now finally a productive task for mankind – searching for asteroids and comets.

    Also, the world experiences a startling rise in earthquakes and vulcanic activities. They give reason to speculate about their causes.

    As fear level accelerates the ability to think rationally shrinks. We know in a captalistic organized society there are alway efforts to profit from forces of society. This kind of thinking gives the drive to enhance rumors and intrigues. Collective anxieties are producing demands for products and political action which suggerate solutions. They produce allegedly problem solutions. To the allegedly problem and to the allegedly solution.

    If there are aliens on earth they are far off technologically advanced and they don’t need mankind.

    But with media technology going further and further a virtual reality world is developing which produces more problems than solutions for the real world.

    The advanced media world is also the reason for a growing mistrust against everything and anything because less people know what is real and what is a lie.

    The growing dependability of more people to technology makes society more vulnerable to natural phenomena which did not affect society before. But those natural phenomena are wellknown. There is no reason to be afraid of something what has been known since the Pharaos. To accelerate human behaviour in a way to create addiction to products and services, this kind of stuff is not protected very well to natural phenomena: they would be too expensive, if one would do that way.

    The climate change on other planets in the solar system is in the mass media supressed. It gives a good example how capitalistic society works. The reason: to make money with chemtrails, CO²-tax and new “better” products. Mass media wants to be looked at as “serious” but they do everything to be liars. No wonder, when many do not believe them at all. That is VERY dangerous because not everything in the public is a lie.

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