The Ariel School, Zimbabwe UFO sighting - has it ever been debunked?

Sagittarius

Member
This sighting, by a group of young children in a school in rural Zimbabwe in 1994, has never, to the best of my knowledge, been fully explained, or if it has, I can't find it. http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1453.htm

Has anyone here ever come across a reasonable explanation for what the children claim to have seen? I know it was investigated by John Mack, but he has been known to be gullible and prone to falling for hoaxes. Can anyone point me to a good link on the subject? Thanks.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member
Well 'mass hallucination or hysteria or confabulation', is one (not very exciting) explanation, but there's no proof of that just as there's no proof for the children's story. There is more precedent for the former though.
The initial report:
http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1453.htm
(doh, that's the same one you posted)
Video interviewing the children:
There's this more recent AMA on reddit:
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/23klw6/ama_request_one_of_the_60_students_involved_in/
(oh, it's just a *request* for an AMA, not an actual talk with a participant)

There is the issue that a supposedly vitally important message for the future of humanity was delivered to a small group of children rather than the whole world, but Aliens being stupid doesn't disprove the story.
 
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WeedWhacker

Senior Member
There is the issue that a supposedly vitally important message for the future of humanity was delivered to a small group of children
"Children are our future"....

(Sorry....low-hanging fruit to grab)....

(Also.....I have been watching this show here in the USA...."MasterChef Junior"....now, before I get a "ding" for being "OT"? Seeing these kids, with their poise and intelligence?? WoW!!!! I was blown away!!!) (I have not much experience with young children...except for what I can recall AS a child, as a "peer" then....and this isn't a very "good" memory, much of the time)....

Kids are a LOT smarter than we adults often give them credit....
 
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deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
This sighting, by a group of young children in a school in rural Zimbabwe in 1994, has never, to the best of my knowledge, been fully explained, or if it has, I can't find it. http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1453.htm

Has anyone here ever come across a reasonable explanation for what the children claim to have seen? I know it was investigated by John Mack, but he has been known to be gullible and prone to falling for hoaxes. Can anyone point me to a good link on the subject? Thanks.
Dont forget to read the posting guidelines and Metabunks "no click policy" https://www.metabunk.org/threads/metabunks-no-click-policy.5158/
 

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
Vieo interviewing the children:
lots of different interpretations and wicked leading questions. and not to be one of those "look alike people" but isnt this the same boy? (kinda hard to tell) who originally says he didnt see his face and then a month later is drawing the eyes AND pupils?

it is curious what they might have seen. but again the drawings of even the ship are all rather different.

b1.JPG
b2.JPG
 

Hevach

Senior Member
isnt this the same boy? (kinda hard to tell) who originally says he didnt see his face and then a month later is drawing the eyes AND pupils?
It appears to be.

Frankly, the reason this whole thing hasn't been debunked is because it follows a pretty clear pattern and it's not hard to tell what happened: First a few kids told a story that may even have been true (but was not witnessed by adults present or even by all of the children at the time so either was not true or was a far more mundane event than the children believed), but bore little to no resemblance to the one that eventually got popularized (written accounts before the attention built didn't even have the ship landing!).

What followed wasn't just the incredibly leading questions and pressure for details seen above (which in children invariably produces bad information) but also a good dash of recovered memories (which even in adults produces information so consistently false that doing so is immediate cause for malpractice and the resulting memories are now considered a mental disorder in and of themselves!). So a disputed story by a few children then became a number of far more elaborate but very different stories by a larger number of children, which on further prompting and notes-comparing became a more consistent shared story with inconsistent window dressings.

Just for an example of how incredibly wrong this process is, it's identical to a Satanic Panic. Take the investigation of Dan and Frances Keller in 1991, which started with one child accusing a day care worker of spanking her (a claim at the time disputed by a number of other students). Pastors, prosecutors, and parents subjected the entire group of children alone to incredible pressure to produce information about the event and other events, fed them leading and loaded questions, and got incredibly complex but impossibly inconsistent stories, which were then compared between children, who then made their stories more consistent. Then the psychologists were brought in to recover "lost" memories and by the time they were done, the children were accusing Chuck Norris of raping them. Really.

It's frankly criminal what's done to children in cases like this, they appear to me to be pretty clear victims of adults' need to validation.
 

cloudspotter

Senior Member
http://magoniamagazine.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-case-of-liverpool-leprechauns.html
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member
When I was 8 years old I lived for a year in the village of Standish in Lancashire (now greater Manchester). The village church was at the end of my road, one of these large old English ones with graves dating back to the civil war era and for an 8 year old who was heavily into Scooby Doo, a very spooky place. We used to dare each other to go into grave yard just about sunset and see how long we could stay before we either chickened out, or got called in for bed time. The biggest memorial there was a big white angel statue and local kids gossip said it was haunted and if its eyes turned red you were going to DIE. Well one evening we decided to test out courage and one lad, I forget his name, suddenly freaked out, screamed the eyes were red and ran. We all looked at the statue, saw red eyes and ran screaming after him.

Of course the eyes weren't really red, and as far as I know none of us suffered the predicted imminent nasty death, but at the time to our over active childs imaginations it was real, and after we shared the experience with each other and the other local kids it soon became fact.

Bottom line, kids have great imaginations, but always take what they imagine with a pinch of salt
 
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alien

New Member
It appears to be.

Frankly, the reason this whole thing hasn't been debunked is because it follows a pretty clear pattern and it's not hard to tell what happened: First a few kids told a story that may even have been true (but was not witnessed by adults present or even by all of the children at the time so either was not true or was a far more mundane event than the children believed), but bore little to no resemblance to the one that eventually got popularized (written accounts before the attention built didn't even have the ship landing!).

What followed wasn't just the incredibly leading questions and pressure for details seen above (which in children invariably produces bad information) but also a good dash of recovered memories (which even in adults produces information so consistently false that doing so is immediate cause for malpractice and the resulting memories are now considered a mental disorder in and of themselves!). So a disputed story by a few children then became a number of far more elaborate but very different stories by a larger number of children, which on further prompting and notes-comparing became a more consistent shared story with inconsistent window dressings.

Just for an example of how incredibly wrong this process is, it's identical to a Satanic Panic. Take the investigation of Dan and Frances Keller in 1991, which started with one child accusing a day care worker of spanking her (a claim at the time disputed by a number of other students). Pastors, prosecutors, and parents subjected the entire group of children alone to incredible pressure to produce information about the event and other events, fed them leading and loaded questions, and got incredibly complex but impossibly inconsistent stories, which were then compared between children, who then made their stories more consistent. Then the psychologists were brought in to recover "lost" memories and by the time they were done, the children were accusing Chuck Norris of raping them. Really.

It's frankly criminal what's done to children in cases like this, they appear to me to be pretty clear victims of adults' need to validation.
Are you saying these children , now adults , are lying ?
Isn't it possible that they are just telling what they saw ?Did this ever occur to you ?
 

Sagittarius

Member
Are you saying these children , now adults , are lying ?
Isn't it possible that they are just telling what they saw ?Did this ever occur to you ?
But do they really know what they saw? Their stories and drawings all differed from each other - and John Mack's leading questions didn't exactly help in clarifying things.

Also, since starting this thread three years ago, Bad UFOs did an update on the case last year, which you might like to read: http://badufos.blogspot.ca/2016/07/a-new-investigation-of-1994-ariel.html#comment-form
 

Hevach

Senior Member
Only a few of the children have given statements as adults, and of those, the ones who still confirm the event now give accounts that not only differ from one another, but differ from their own original accounts. In one case, noted in the above link, because their original account involved not being present at all.

Also noted in the link, it's not enough to note that the childrens' accounts differed from one another, but taken individually were in constant flux throughout the process. The link above notes, for example, that only one of the children initially claimed to have seen beings, the rest only saw lights. But under prompting and memory recovery, their stories converged. One particular example used used - initially a child stated only the one child who left the play area saw aliens, and she was afraid of getting in trouble. Then under guidance "remembered" she saw female forms. Drawing alone she drew aliens with long hair and big eyes, later changing to classical "grays" - hairless and roughly male forms - when drawing on the board with other children.


I did not accuse them of lying. I accused the two who conducted these interviews of a very particular and insidious type of abuse.
 

Peter B

New Member
Only a few of the children have given statements as adults, and of those, the ones who still confirm the event now give accounts that not only differ from one another, but differ from their own original accounts. In one case, noted in the above link, because their original account involved not being present at all.

Also noted in the link, it's not enough to note that the childrens' accounts differed from one another, but taken individually were in constant flux throughout the process. The link above notes, for example, that only one of the children initially claimed to have seen beings, the rest only saw lights. But under prompting and memory recovery, their stories converged. One particular example used used - initially a child stated only the one child who left the play area saw aliens, and she was afraid of getting in trouble. Then under guidance "remembered" she saw female forms. Drawing alone she drew aliens with long hair and big eyes, later changing to classical "grays" - hairless and roughly male forms - when drawing on the board with other children.


I did not accuse them of lying. I accused the two who conducted these interviews of a very particular and insidious type of abuse.
I've been following this case in a desultory fashion for years, and wrote it up for Fortean Times when the flame-haired Emily Trim came out of the woodwork recently (as reported on the Bad UFOs blog Sagittarius linked to). Just a nosey question really: you seem remarkabl well-informed as to its history and development (alias evolution). Where did you get all this detailed stuff? I should love to pore over it.
 

Hevach

Senior Member
Most if what I know comes from the Fernandez article this year and the Nab Lator investigation from 2011, and from Headmaster Mackie's own statements that cast doubt on the event.

I don't get into UFOs like this, but have a personal connection to a Satanic Panic event, and this story comes up in that topic sometimes, because the same methods were used and it was around the same time period, so it's sometimes used as a "neutral" example, mechanically similar but without most of the worst baggage.
 

NoParty

Senior Member
The Headmistress and 2 other teachers were convinced it happened.
So? They saw nothing but said they believed fantastical stories stated by 5 to 12 year-olds.
In what world would this count as credible evidence?

Does the fact that the woman running the concession ('tuck shop') at the time
was not convinced the kids were telling the truth count as important?
 

Sagittarius

Member
The Headmistress and 2 other teachers were convinced it happened.
But they weren't witnesses. What did they base their conviction on? It's stretching credulity to think they took the kids' words as incontrovertibly factual, given that none of those kids told a consistent story, or drew similar 'craft'.
 

Hevach

Senior Member
Does the fact that the woman running the concession ('tuck shop') at the time
was not convinced the kids were telling the truth count as important?
Or how about the more than 200 other kids on the not especially large playground? The descriptions are not of things that happen quietly or stealthily, but or large objects, tall beings, and blinding lights.
 

Hevach

Senior Member
Pick and choose?

Of the children:
One child unprompted saw "aliens"
About 60 under adult guidance changed stories to match
A fraction of those matched enough to be selected by Hind and Mack.
200+ children saw nothing, or said it had been a game, or called the few liars.

Of the adults:
Not one adult - NOT ONE - who was actually there saw anything or believed the story. Every adult that did believe was not present.

I am taking these as a whole and giving all fair weight, which is bad enough even before evaluating the manipulation and abuse that produced the small subset.

It sounds to me like you are picking the handfull of children and choosing only adults who were not witness, however. We have shown our work, so to speak, so tell me, what is one justification that so many children should be ignored in favor or those subject to shown manipulation, or why credulous adults are more believable than the ones actually present?
 

alien

New Member
Is it possible that the events happened just like the children ,now adults, are describing ?Yes or no ?
 

JFDee

Senior Member
Is it possible that the events happened just like the children ,now adults, are describing ?Yes or no ?
Possible, yes - but likely?

What is the simpler explanation? Suggestive questioning and teacher-student attitude or a visiting alien craft seen only by a minority of children in presence?

BTW, if real there would have been multiple events, as the descriptions were quite differing.
 

Hevach

Senior Member
It is possible in the same sense that it is possible when I get to work today the building will be a seafood buffet restaurant instead. And then for years, my boss will insist it's always been a seafood buffet and what are we talking about POS system service? And then for some reason three of my coworkers insist it was a Walmart yesterday.

That is, not just incredibly unlikely, and any outside observer with the smallest shred of critical thinking skills would suspect my boss of pulling a prank.
 

NoParty

Senior Member
Is it possible that the events happened just like the children ,now adults, are describing ?Yes or no ?
Only in the "Anything's possible" sense.
"It's 'possible' that a 91 year-old female linebacker will be voted the NFL's most valuable player next season."

The better question is:
"Is there any substantive, verifiable evidence about Ariel that should compel a rational
person to take seriously fantastical claims of a minority of children on a playground?"

And the answer to that is a pretty obvious "No."
 
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Sagittarius

Member
Is it possible that the events happened just like the children ,now adults, are describing ?Yes or no ?
You already asked this same question on Thursday, but you seem to be avoiding the important question - just what did they, in fact, see? They all described different things, and their drawings are all different.

You're also not keeping in mind that Hind and Mack asked them very leading questions, to draw out of them the answers that they themselves wanted to hear, that best fitted their own narrative of events.

Also, there were no adult witnesses, remember - people that could (possibly) have reassured the children with a rational explanation. Let's say for example, that the craft was a military helicopter, and that the children had never seen such a thing before, nor the sort of headgear and earphones that the pilots of such a craft would wear. Not knowing what they were looking at, their minds took flights of fantasy, which an adult, familiar with military helicopters, could immediately have put to rest.

Why aren't you taking all of this into consideration?
 

Sagittarius

Member
Count Otto Black, although your message above was deleted, I can still see it as an e-mail notification. In it you say:
I don't think the children were deliberately lying (well, most of them weren't), but I don't think they saw an extraterrestrial starship either. In fact, I've got a pretty good idea what they probably saw. But that can wait.
As nobody reading this forum can see that you said that, can you tell us what you think it really was that the kids saw?
 
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