A not too short summary
Robert Taylor’s encounter with an unidentified object in November 1979 is doubtlessly the most dramatised case of what can be loosely called „paranormal activity in Scotland“.
Robert Taylor was a 61-year-old very skilled forester foreman who managed several squads of workers whose job was to watch over the woodland areas administered by the LDC, a local corporation based in Livingston, Scotland.
One morning, he was totally mesmerised by the presence of a dome-shaped object resting on a clearing in a part of the forest which was very familiar to him.
Shortly thereafter, small objects with protruding spikes similar to sea-mines showed up and hurtled at him. They toppled onto his right and left side, respectively and tried to pull him forward. Overpowered by a terrible smell, he passed out.
Upon waking up, he heard a „whooshing sound“ as well as his dog barking furiously and he could see that the object had disappeared while looking up.
No longer able to talk or even to walk normally, he eventually managed to struggle back home.
His wife saw he was in a state of shock and his boss and doctor noticed the presence of three wounds, while his trousers had been torn at the places where he had felt the spheres tugging at him.
Taylor, his boss, and some alerted policemen went to the spot of the incident where they could see and measure unexplainable marks on the ground. Owing to the combination of all these elements, debunkers have had a very hard time explaining away his whole experience, so that even British journalist David Clark (who stands generally on the side of the Sceptics) stated that „Bob Taylor’s case strikes me as a really good example of a genuine eye witness account of an inexplicable phenomenon.“
Three years ago, John Alison (Alias Phil Fenton, a Scottish businessman) came forward with a Amazon Ebook where he pretends to have, at last, solved the whole enigma beyond any reasonable doubt.
Basically, on the other side of the motorway close to the clearing where Bob Taylor reported having sighted the UFO, there is a dome-shaped water tank which, for Alison, has such striking similarities with the object described by Taylor that it must have been the same thing.
As I explained below, one can only notice such amazing similarities by picking and choosing convenient details, ignoring crucial aspects of the experience and making unverifiable speculations in order to make both objects resemble each other.
At best, the „similarities“ are completely inconclusive if not downright absurd.
The fatal flaw of Alison’s scenario does not lie in his convoluted and distorted fitting, however.
According to him, the responsible and honourable forestry foreman Robert Taylor tried, without any good reason, to illegally climb over the fence of the water reservoir, fell back and undergone a mini-stroke before seeing small spherical chemical tanks which (due to some hellish coincidence) had lost their balance and were rolling towards him.
Only a few hours later, he completely forgot his initial intention to illegally penetrate into the water reservoir. He completely forgot he went to this spot at all. He totally forgot the fencing tearing his trousers and the loathsome storage tanks rolling towards him.
Instead, he became entirely convinced he had encountered a UFO-like „something“ on a well-known clearing located on the other side of the motorway.
While false memories are a real phenomenon, I have never come across such an extraordinary case and I strongly doubt that any lawyer would seriously consider using such a defence strategy during a trial.
John Alison’s book gives us a perfect example of how an explanation which is logically possible might be, nonetheless, extraordinarily implausible.
Those of you truly interested in this case might find it worthwhile to read my detailed analysis and I would be thankful if you were to express your sincere criticism concerning my arguments.
1) Introduction: physically assaulted by a UFO?
One of the most puzzling UFO-cases having ever taken place in Scotland is undoubtedly the encounter of forester Robert Taylor with an unidentified object which injured him.
A decent summary of the incident can be found here.
On the ninth of November 1979 a forester named Robert Taylor had an encounter with the UFO in Livingston, Scotland. He had left his house at 10 AM and driven to a plantation near the M8 motorway for an inspection. He parked as close as he could to the clearing that was to be inspected and followed a track the rest of the way. As he rounded a corner he came face-to-face with the UFO.
The object was grey in colour and approximately 20 feet wide and 12 feet high. There was a protruding rim just below halfway down the object which reminded Taylor of the brim of a hat. Some dark patches were seen on the body of the object which looked like portholes. At times the object became semi transparent as if trying to disguise itself.
Two small spheres with protruding spikes (not unlike sea mines) rushed towards Taylor from the direction of the object. These smaller objects were approximately two feet across. They seized Taylor by the legs, tearing his trousers in the process, and dragged him towards the large object. At this point Taylor recalls a choking smell and then lost consciousness.
Upon regaining consciousness he heard a swishing sound and realised that the UFOs had gone. His dog was barking wildly at him and he realised that he couldn’t walk or even talk properly. He managed to get back to his truck that got it stuck in the mud and consequently had to walk over a mile back to his home. He suffered a headache for hours and a raging thirst which lasted for two days.
Marks were found on the ground in the clearing to correspond with the mine like objects that Taylor described.
The following videos are worth watching but shouldn’t always be taken at face value:
(1 – 16 minutes)
2) Case solved?
Recently, Phil Fenton (alias John Alison) a local Scottish businessman has come forward with what he considers the most likely explanation of this strange happening.
PHILL FENTON, from Livingston, reckons the alleged UFO spotted by Bob Taylor in 1979 was actually a nearby saucer-shaped water tower.
A UFO investigator believes he may have solved one of Scotland’s great unexplained mysteries.
Forestry worker Bob Taylor reported an incident 34 years ago involving an alleged alien craft and two “robot” attackers.
He was left unconscious with ripped trousers in the middle of woods at Dechmont Law, near Livingston.
Despite inquiries by police and ufologists, no plausible explanation has been found and the incident has remained one of Scotland’s highest profile X-Files type cases.
It has featured in several TV specials and books down the years. But local businessman Phill Fenton has just published a report which he feels may hold the key to the mystery.
The report, which has been published as an Amazon e-book, suggests Bob may have suffered a mini-stroke and been exposed to harmful chemicals which left him confused and disoriented.
And Phill believes the UFO he believes he saw could have been a saucer-shaped water tower nearby.
Phill, a 56-year-old sign maker from Livingston, said: “I have always been intrigued by the incident and one day I spotted the dome-shaped object and it struck me that it looked a lot like Robert Taylor’s description.
“The more I looked, the more I thought it was more than a coincidence that something this close matched the description of the so-called UFO nearby.”
He added that chemicals used in such tanks could make people experience the effects which Bob reported and the rips on his clothes matched the shape of a security fence near the tower.
Bob, who had a reputation for being down to earth, reported feeling overcome by a powerful odour which left him choking for breath before he fainted. He died in 2007, aged 88.
Malcolm Robinson, author of the books UFO Case Files of Scotland, is the leading authority on the Livingston incident. He said of Phill’s report: “It’s a very interesting hypothesis which is very well put together. But it’s one I don’t adhere to myself.
“He (Bob) always took investigators to the original site, not to a water tank, and he told us this is where it happened and I saw the marks in the grass myself.”
3) Critical examination of the theory
Those who have spent time researching the case know that Alison has intensely tried to promote his book himself, often even hiding the fact he’s its author while giving his link towards Amazon at many opportunities.
In the Ebook, one can find a copy-paste of a newspaper-article, the wikipedia article as well as many pages dealing with an irrelevant conspiracy theory involving the Ministry of Defence that Alison finally rejects.
His writing style isn’t quite unpleasant, yet I could not count the number of logical leaps and unproven assertions based on apparently nothing more than a superficial knowledge of the subjects at hand or even the own intuitions of the author.
Now, we are all endowed with different talents and it may very well be the case that Mister Alison is an excellent and trustworthy businessman.
Still, it was completely inappropriate to make people pay for something which would have only been a blog post of average quality at best.
With that in mind, let us start scrutinising his claims.
3.1) Such an amazing coincidence?
The main positive argument put forward by Alison is the alleged fact that the object experienced by Bob Taylor and the water dome on the other side of the motorway are so amazingly similar that they MUST be the same thing.
He based almost all his information about the encounter on a press declaration given by Taylor on the next Monday, three days after the incident.
My brush with the aliens.
A man relived this week his encounter in a Livingston wood with „robot-like creatures from a strange craft“.
Bob Taylor told how the encounter left him shocked, dazed and unable to speak.
He described how he discovered a large dome-shaped machine in a secluded clearing in Dechmont Law wood.
Mr Taylor revealed his tale of the fantastic to a press conference on Monday.
On Friday morning (November 9th 1979) 61-year old Mr Taylor was working in the woods at Dechmont Law, below Deer Hill, only a few hundred yards from the M8 motorway.
At around 10.20am he walked into a clearing where he was confronted by a large dull grey dome-shaped craft.
„Around it was a flange and there were propellers sticking out“.
(Later on, Bob Taylor described the surface of the object as having a rough texture similar to that of sandpaper).
In calm and measured tones, Mr Taylor told incredulous newspaper-men how the machine seemed to be merging into its surrounding.
„It seemed as if it was camouflaging itself“, he said.
Mr Taylor was alone in the woods except for his Irish setter, Lara. He had parked his LDC Forestry Department van quite some distance away from the clearing.
As he gazed down at the silent unmarked craft in the hollows, two spheres came from beneath it.
„They looked like naval mines, about four to five foot high, with six stalks coming from each one.“
„I was mesmerised as I watched“, said the foreman forester.
But Mr Taylor’s memory of what happened after they closed on him is hazy.
As they rolled towards him on the stalks, the only noise he heard was a sucking sound as they crossed the damp grass. He was overpowered by a very strong smell.
„I could hardly breathe. The smell caught the back of my throat.“ he said.
„Then I must have fainted or been knocked out by the smell“.
He assumes the robots must have grabbed him because when he came around his trousers were torn at the side of his legs.“
Mr Taylor could not recall with accuracy his emotions during those incredible minutes of Friday morning.
But he is certain there wasn’t any menace from the craft or the two machines which approached him.
One thing he remembers as he was suffering from the effects of the powerful odour was Lara barking.
„Lara may have frightened the machines off or perhaps unnerved them, I don’t know“ he said.
When he came around he found the clearing was empty. Dazed, shocked and unable to speak, he half crawled, half staggered to his van.
But the effects of the encounter had left him unable to drive or use the van’s two-way radio.
He crawled and stumbled the mile-and-a-half to his home.
His wife Mary thought he had a serious accident when he staggered into his house at 4 Broomieknowe Drive, Livingston Station.
She telephoned his boss, Mr Malcom Drummond, head of the Livingston Development corporation Forestry Department.
Mrs Taylor and Mr Drummond were sceptical of his tale of the close encounter in the woods but Mr Taylor insisted.
He persuaded Mr Drummond to accompany him to the spot where the incident had taken place.
There Mr Drummond, who has known Mr Taylor for more than the 16 years he has worked for the LDC, saw a distinct pattern of marks on the ground.
„In the centre were something like caterpillar tracks surrounded by deep triangular marks the size of a horse’s hoof“. said Mr Drummond.
But there were no tracks going to and from the site which is surrounded by trees.
„What made them must have weighed more than a ton, possibly two tons.“
„I can’t explain what made those marks but it must have come straight down and gone straight back up again.“
Mr Drummond had no explanation for what caused Mr Taylor’s condition on Friday morning.
But he is in no doubt that Mr Taylor is genuinely reporting what he saw or believes he saw.
„He’s a very straightforward and serious bloke.“
He’s not the type of man to make up fanciful stories“.
Mr Taylor’s doctor persuaded him to go to Bangour General Hospistal for a general check up to see if he was concussed.
He said he had suffered from no ill effects from his experience on Friday morning.
Until then he hadn’t believed in flying saucers and UFO’s.
„I’ve never read science fiction and I don’t pay much attention to it on television“.
„But I definitely believe in them now“ said Mr Taylor.
Mr Gordon Fraser of the British UFO research Association said Mr Taylor’s account was similar in many respects to other reports of encounters with UFOs.
A senior police officer said the tracks in the woods had been photographed.
The matter was treated seriously and reports have been forwarded to Lothian and Borders Police HQ in Edinburgh.
This report is very concise and leaves numerous important details vague. I do not understand why Alison didn’t also consider the police report itself (written on the same Friday) as well as the results of a thorough investigation conducted by Keatman and Collins from Wednesday on, that is to say only two days after the press conference he quoted.
Here are several photos of the water dome in question.
Allison mentioned six „striking“ similarities. I’m going to analyse them before considering elements which do not fit at all the water tank theory.
I directly quote Alison in order not to misrepresent his views.
Now I obviously agree with Allison that these elements present some degrees of similarity. Yet they’re vague and unspecific.
3.1.1) Blending in with the background?
I think that Allison is clearly wrong here.
In the newspaper article I quoted above, one can read.
„In calm and measured tones, Mr Taylor told incredulous newspaper-men how the machine seemed to be merging into its surrounding.
„It seemed as if it was camouflaging itself“, he said.
Based on these very limited details, Allison concluded that Bob Taylor got the impression that the object was merging with its surrounding owing to his green lower wall.
In and of itself, this is already quite a stretch. Look carefully once again at all pictures of the dome-shaped water tank I reproduced above.
I find it really hard to imagine how an experienced 61-year old forestry foreman could be so impressed by the green colour of its lower part that he would describe it as „camouflaging itself“.
While looking at the thing, it should seem obvious to any grown person that this is a mundane human construction standing apart from its natural environment.
Actually, this is far worse than a poor fit because we KNOW this is not what Robert Taylor meant while expressing himself in this manner.
In Taylor’s statement to the police (quoted by David Slater) one can read
“As I cleared the trees and entered the clearing I saw this object in front of me. It was about 30 feet high, but not as high as the trees. It was grey in colour although I got the impression that the top of the dome shape changed from grey to translucent continually. The top of the object was dome-shaped and had a flange around the middle on which were situated several antenna with objects similar to rotors on the top. There were also several round porthole type apertures on the dome shape above the flange. I do not know what the bottom of the object was like.”
Keatman and Collins who investigated meticulously the case six days after it occurring wrote that about this strange experience:
„After an estimated 30 seconds of viewing the strange craft, Mr. Taylor said that its structure began to alter. Parts of the upper dome began to „disappear“ and areas of the background could be seen through it. Only moments before the object had seemed totally physical. Now, parts would fade out, and then return to their original appearance, first on the left hand side, then across to the right, and then returning to the centre. This unusual phenomenon was apparent over the whole of the upper dome. This gave the appearance of partially blending in with the background, possibly suggesting that it was not quite as physical as it seemed at that point„.
As can be read earlier in their article, Taylor did not perceive well the (green) bottom of the object. It was its top which he found puzzling.
He got the impression that the object was merging into the background because the upper dome kept fading out and reappearing, a paranormal effect which seems completely out of the reach of a mundane water reservoir.
3.1.2. Rods, blades and portholes
The problem is that Allison based his sketch of the object on the press declaration on Monday which is pretty unspecific and vague, which allowed him to make the two shapes fit together.
Actually, after many hours spent discussing with Taylor, Keatman and Collins draw the following picture:
This description makes it very likely that for Bob Taylor, there were more than only two rods and blades. His description of evenly positioned „portholes“ above the flange seems very different from the access points mentioned by Allison. Actually, it isn’t even possible to make out a single porthole-like access point on any of the pictures of the water tank that Alison put at our disposal.
Therefore, it is fair to conclude this is a further mismatch.
3.3.3) The assault of the sea-mines
The central element of the sighting seems to lie in the mysterious sea mines which hurtled towards Bob Taylor and toppled onto his sides.
Later in his book, Allison identified them with storage tanks with appendages which were rolling over the grass for some unknown reason.
Obviously, such things aren’t able to assault someone in the way experienced by Bob Taylor.
So in this case, the fit is terrible, especially if one adds the implausibility of the storage tank rolling away just at the right time.
3.3.4) A water tank vanishing into thin air?
All reports make it clear that upon coming around, Bob heard a „whooshing“ sound and his dog barking furiously whereas the mysterious „something“ had disappeared. He couldn’t see it again in the clearing, not even above his head.
This is again an element of the witness’s description which completely mismatches the water-tank hypothesis.
3.3.5) An experienced forestry worker „mesmerised“ while looking at a water-tank?
Robert Taylor was a very skilled and competent forestry foreman directing four squads of workers and constantly moving around in the region in order to fulfil various duties.
How plausible is that this 61-year old man would be stunned and bemused at the sight of a mere dome-shaped water dome?
How likely is it he had never seen one before?
And how likely is it he would not have immediately recognised it as a human construction?
I could conceive of small children who would feel startled and very baffled the first time they came across such a building.
But it seems incredibly far-fetched to think that the same thing could occur to a well experienced 61-year old gardener who manages four teams of workers.
3.3.6) Conclusion: NO compelling reason to think this was the water dome
If one considers all elements revealed by Robert Taylor within one week of the incident, it appears that the object he experienced differs strongly from the dome-shaped water tank, some undeniable superficial similarities notwithstanding.
Of course, it is possible to uphold this theory by explaining away all mismatches as stemming from a combination of hallucinations and false memories.
Indeed, this is what Allison did more or less implicitly.
But if you choose to go that way and pick and choose whatever suits you, you can no longer state that the object MUST be the water-tank because it is so similar to it, especially if you have no evidence that such a radically altered state of consciousness occurred at all.
What we have here is not a natural match but a terribly far-fetched fit imposed on the data.
So, according to the criteria used by the criminal police or the military, it is fair to say that Alison’s hypothesis is at best pretty unsupported if not downright absurd.
4) An incredible memory failure?
4.1) A modern Scottish tale?
Alison’s hypothesis logically entails the following elements:
1) On November Ninth 1979, Bob Taylor intended to get to the dome-shaped water tank for some reasons. He clearly woke up with that in mind.
2) He parked his car within Dechmont wood (Van) and crossed the highway (either over a bridge or under a tunnel)
3) He arrived at the place where the water tank stands.
4) For some reason, he decided to ILLEGALLY get into it.
5) He climbed over the fence.
6) He stumbled, lost his balance and fell back on the ground while his trousers were scratched by the spikes of the fence.
7) He experienced a mini-stroke.
8) At the same time, storage tanks containing Sodium Hypochlorite got accidentally disturbed and set rolling towards him, thereby causing the smell which overpowered him alongside other physiological effects.
9) After coming around, Taylor struggled back to his home.
10) While he was being examined in a hospital, his boss Malcolm Drummond tried to go to the spot of the incident. Unfortunately, Taylor forgot to mention he got there over the motorway.
Therefore, Drummond wrongly identified the clearing as the place of the encounter.
11) Upon learning that Drummond found weird marks there, Taylor didn’t correct him but developed radical false memories within a few hours, instead.
He forgot his initial intention to illegally get into the water tank while waking up on the morning.
He forgot he went over the motorway through a bridge.
He forgot he decided to illegally penetrate into the water reservoir.
He forgot he fell back from the fence.
He forgot that those stinking storage tanks rolled towards him.
Instead of that, he developed very vivid false memories that the whole incident occurred in the clearing misidentified by his boss and involved an alien spacecraft and two mine-shaped objects, and that only within a few hours.
I encourage all my readers to let this sink in. Read it and read it again until you fully realise the implications.
Isn’t it hard to repress the thought that this scenario is ridiculously far-fetched?
Why would 61-year-old Bob Taylor, a responsible forestry foreman managing four squads of workers, have decided to illegally get into the water tank by climbing over a spiked security fencing as if he were a reckless teenager?
What kinds of motives could he have ever had for attempting such a risky and apparently meaningless action?
How likely is that after falling back from such a security fence, he would not have been much more severely injured?
(His only wounds lay on his left hip and underneath the round of his chin. They were superficial and healed soon thereafter).
How likely is that he would have simultaneously experienced a mini-stroke (which he apparently never did after or before the incident) while being confronted with storage tanks rolling towards him for some unknown reasons?
How likely is that so shortly after the incident his memory would get messed up in such a dramatic and unprecedented way?
Yes, false memories are real and I’ve spent many hours reading accounts about them.
But I’ve never come across any story of a (sane) witness getting so many fundamental facts of an incident wrong only several hours (or at best days) after it occurring.
To use a mundane analogy, suppose that someone honestly says that he witnessed how an old lady was struck down by a masked man who stole her handbag before running away three days ago.
How probable is that there was no man involved and that the woman died after having accidentally fallen on her face?
Even if one accepts the (completely unsupported) possibility that Taylor experienced a mini-stroke while being exposed to the noxious substance „Sodium Hypochlorite“, I could find no evidence that the confusion this would bring on could spawn such a radical rewriting of his memory.
The only way I could envision the formation of such false memories would be through the deliberate use of hypnotic manipulation through a skilled individual.
I fail to see, however, why anyone would have been willing to do this.
4.2) Was Malcolm Drummond the first to arrive at the clearing?
Alison asserts this:
„More tellingly – in the account given to Malcolm Robinson (who personally interviewed Robert Taylor and was given a first hand account of events) the scene was revisited not by Robert Taylor and Malcolm Drummond together, but by Malcolm Drummond and some other forestry workers while Mr Taylor was sent to Bangour by his doctor Gordon Adams for a check up.
This makes it even more likely that the location was mistakenly identified since Malcolm Drummond would have identified the location based solely on a description given by Robert Taylor. And with only one vital piece of information missing (that he first crossed the footbridge over the M8 Motorway) it becomes clear why the location identified was wrong.“
While I think that his theory would remain terribly convoluted even if he were right about that, it is worth considering the sequence of events as it can be reconstructed from the study of Keatman and Collins:
a) Bob arrived at his house in a state of shock
b) His wife suggested he take off his dirty clothes and have a bath
c) She telephoned Malcolm Drummond who was Robert’s boss
d) On his arrival in the bathroom, he saw that Bob had a real physical experience even if he remained sceptical
e) He telephoned Bob’s physician, Dr. Adams, who concluded his patient was in reasonable condition.
f) Drummond and Adam went up to Dechmont Wood and located the vehicle there. Seeing no traces and unable to find the place of the encounter, they came back to Bob Taylor’s home.
g) Once there, Dr. Adams went back home
h) Robert Taylor guided his boss Malcolm Drummond to the secluded clearing where it all occurred.
(The press conference given on Friday evening confirms that last detail).
i) They noticed weird markings on the ground.
j) Robert and Malcolm came back to Taylor’s house.
k) Drummond radioed for a squad of workers to lay sheep net wires in order to protect the site from sightseers.
l) Drummond went home and telephoned the police.
m) Bob Taylor was taken to the hospital on advice of Dr. Adam.
n) Drummond led the policemen to the place of the incident.
o) An investigation of the clearing started.
The fact is that in all our earliest sources (press declaration on Friday, investigation of Keatman and Collins) Rob Taylor is said to have accompanied his boss to the clearing in order to show him the place of the event.
Following his own unscholarly approach, Alison didn’t mention the article or book where Malcolm Robinson mentioned his alternative chronology for the first time.
The only book I was able to find was „UFO CASE FILES OF SCOTLAND (Amazing Real Life Alien encounters) published in 2009.
Here is a relevant extract from it:
‚Thinking that he must be confused, Bob’s wife telephoned her husband’s boss, a Mr Malcolm Drummond, and also telephoned their local doctor, a Mr Gordon Adams. It wasn’t long enough before both arrived whereupon Robert proceeded to tell them what he had encountered in the woods. Listening to this incredible tale unfold, both men were startled to hear Robert’s description of what he had encountered, both men knew him well, well enough to state that Robert wasn’t a teller of tall tales or would invent things just for the fun of it. Robert was a sound and rational man, a man not prone to invention, and a man with no interest whatsoever in flying saucers or men from Mars, this was not in his agenda. The doctor stated that he would like to get Robert to a hospital as soon as possible for a check up. His preliminary check up showed that Robert was not suffering from any head injury or neurological disorder. His blood pressure appeared normal, and other than a graze under his chin and slight shock, he appeared fine, still, he felt that Robert should be admitted to hospital for a full check up just to make sure. This he did, and both Robert and his wife went along with the doctor to the nearby Bangour hospital where Robert awaited his check up. Whilst Robert was at the hospital, his boss Malcolm Drummond and also some of the other forestry worker went into Dechmont Wood to the scene of the incident in order to see if there were any signs which would validate Robert’s claims. Malcolm and the other observed around forty holes in the grass, also two ‚track like marks…‘.
There are clearly elements which diverge from the account written by Keatman and Collins based on their own meticulous investigation within one week after the event. For example, according to them Dr. Adams went home and didn’t apparently accompany Bob Taylor to the emergencies in the nearby hospital. Yet, it is worth noting that Robinson didn’t unambiguously state that Robert didn’t guide his boss to the site of the encounter before.
While Malcolm Robinson based his account on audio tapes produced very early in the aftermath of the encounter, he wrote his book more than 30 years after the event. What is more, his chapter wasn’t a scholarly review of the case but an entertaining retelling of his experience as a UFO researcher back then with plenty of vivid descriptions of his feelings and exclamation marks.
To put it in a nutshell, we have on the one hand a very detailed account of what happened to Bob Taylor based on a detailed investigation within one week of the event and published 6 months thereafter clearly stating that Bob led his boss to the place of the encounter.
We have a newspaper article published 4 days after the event where one can read
„He [Robert Taylor] persuaded Mr Drummond to accompany him to the spot where the incident had taken place. There Mr Drummond, who has known Mr Taylor for more than the 16 years he has worked for the LDC, saw a distinct pattern of marks on the ground.“
On the other hand, we have Robinson’s account published roughly 30 years after the encounter where the author aims at giving a vivid and colourful description of the story and the role he played in its investigation. This account seems to ambiguously suggest that Robert went directly to the hospital without having accompanied his boss to the clearing first.
Isn’t it much more likely that Robinson made a mistake (or had been vague) concerning the precise order of the events which he probably saw as unimportant?
Reread carefully the whole subsection several times if you don’t feel convinced.
The best conventional explanation which has ever been proposed?
Alison often presents his own account as if he were the one who finally solved once and for all a mystery which has eluded countless researchers during decades.
We have now dredged up enough elements showing that nothing could be further from the truth. His scenario involves a convoluted chain of very unlikely events, some of which being even extraordinarily improbable.
Anyone coming up with empirical data is warmly invited to prove me wrong but I strongly doubt this can be done.
There is another „sceptical“ scenario which is far better than that of Alison and this is the one put forward by David Slater.
According to Slater, „Taylor’s experience may have been a belladonna (a poisonous black berry) induced hallucination that triggered memories of a recently aired Doctor Who episode in which a spaceship of similar appearance featured. It suggests the ground markings likely have a prosaic explanation such as post holes left over from a den that once occupied the site.“
Alison rejects that explanation and he is quite right to point out the absence of similar cases of belladonna poisoning in the region as well as the fact that the cold month of November would be an unlikely season for the berries to still hang under the bushes.
And as Anne Hammond, Bob’s daughter, emphasised, it is pretty implausible that such an experienced (and well-fed!) gardener as her father would pick up an unknown berry in a wood as if he were a curious little boy unaware of the potentially toxic nature of such fruits.
But Slater’s scenario has one immense advantage over Alison’s: it doesn’t ask us to believe that Bob planned to illegally penetrate into the water tower, got his memory completely confused and rewritten in the twinkling of an eye and felt convinced he had an UFO encounter in an entirely different clearing.
What’s more, unlike Alison, Slater clearly recognised the highly speculative character of his own assertions and he did not make anyone pay for reading his ideas.
While Slater’s hypothesis would be deemed very unlikely if he had tried to account for a mundane incident (such as Bob Taylor’s sighting of a lorry full of drug traffickers), it could be seen as a welcome solution to this enigma for those of us who believe that UFO are extraordinarily unlikely to exist to begin with.
I will, however, try to offer a more substantial criticism of the ideas he brought up at some point in the future.