Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hypno-UFO - Part III

So, things got weird here in the past couple weeks, and as a result I took some much-deserved time off. I was tired of people scolding me for writing about topics they consider unworthy, and I was troubled that one commenter gave me a stalker scare...

Well, I'm back and, guess what? I'm still going to write about whatever the hell I want to write about.

Because stories about the Philadelphia Experiment, and about a trio of aliens named Mr. A, Mr. B and "Jemi" scribbling sarcastic notes onto the pages of a UFO book, and about Charlie Hickson's hypnosis session with James Harder and Leo Sprinkle appeal to me on two levels:
  1. Like it or not, they are entertaining.
  2. Like it or not, they are inextricably woven into the fabric of the long, weird, unruly, improbable, unbelievable history of the UFO phenomenon.
When I write about something, I am not necessarily vouching for its authenticity or its intrinsic value to UFOlogy; I'm simply saying, "This is an entertaining story and I want to have some fun writing about it."

Oh, and it may just be authentic and/or intrinsically valuable to UFOlogy. But whether it is or not, it's certainly no sillier and no more embarrassing than anything else out there in the vast swamp of UFO lore. Like a certain set of slides, for instance...

With that in mind, let me tell you about a fascinating cassette tape that I just digitized today. It was a recording of Dr. J. Allen Hynek addressing a 1979 gathering of "The Midwest Hypnosis Convention." When I saw that title I couldn't wait to hear the tape. I've gotten so much grief from readers who point out that anyone who puts a UFO witness under hypnosis is an evil fraudster, and that I must be some kind of a dim bulb for believing such stories, that I had to find out what my man J. Allen thought of hypnosis and hypnotists.

Turns out he was typically even-handed in his evaluation.

In his talk, he described a funny episode to which he was a witness in which "The Amazing Kreskin" hypnotized the audience at a TV show taping, took them outside and suggested that they would see a UFO in the sky. Sure enough, everyone "saw" a UFO. When Hynek asked them all to sketch what they had seen in the sky, all he got was scribbles...
Hypnosis: too much fun to be all bad.

He also described his own experiences of being on-hand as several famous alleged UFO abductees underwent hypnosis. When he was able to question Betty and Barney Hill for an hour and a half after they were hypnotized by Dr. Benjamin Simon, he found Barney's terror at reliving his abduction was chillingly convincing: "He cried out with such terror... and such anguish, that I just couldn't think that he could have been faking that." When Hynek was present as James Harder made his first attempt to hypnotize Charlie Hickson, he was struck that Hickson fought back so fiercely against revisiting his experience: "He was very difficult. When Dr. Harder tried to get him under, profuse perspiration broke out on his forehead and his fists were clenching, and finally Dr. Harder had to give it up."

He also described his involvement with Dr. Harder's inconclusive hypnosis of Travis Walton, who claimed to have been abducted by aliens in Arizona in 1975. When he reappeared some four days after his disappearance, Walton could consciously recall only the first few minutes of his odd experience: "Regressive hypnosis did not work very well with him. Most of the things that he told us, that he told the investigators, we're not sure how much of it was from conscious memory..."

So Hynek's verdict is: sometimes hypnosis seems to work, sometimes it doesn't. He certainly did not base his entire opinion of any of these cases on the hypnotic testimony alone, which simply affirms that he was very prudent in his judgement. In fact, at one point on the tape he admitted that he had nagging suspicions about Charlie Hickson's story, and that he tested Hickson by getting him drunk and asking him to repeat his tale: "Knowing that a great many things dissolve in alcohol, I thought his story might dissolve in alcohol as well." But, to Hynek's apparent surprise, "His story stood up! Even though, of course, Charlie didn't."

Whichever side you come down on, it's pretty cool to hear/read the comments of a man who was in the room when these attempts at hypnosis took place. That's real history right there, and that's fascinating.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

UFO Irony

You know what's really ironic? It's when you blog about serious unethical behavior by UFO people and then one of those UFO people who takes issue with your post responds by stalking you.

Hey, "Anonymous" in Sacramento, CA, I'm talking to you...

I can't believe I actually have to tell you this, but do not call me on the phone. Ever.

I don't know how the hell you got my cell and land line numbers, but calling me last night was completely out of bounds, and bordering on seriously creepy. Even one call would have been alarming; three in a row was beyond the pale. Do not do it again.

Oh, and when I asked you how the hell you got my numbers and you replied, "There's a lot of interesting information on the internet," you pretty much branded yourself as an official scary person. If you were trying to make my daughter feel anxious and afraid, congratulations: you succeeded beyond your wildest dreams. Aren't you proud?

There's a comments section here on the blog, and I encourage you to use it to your heart's content. Because calling me at home is not going to happen; it's just really disturbed behavior.

By the way, I deleted your 4-minute voice mail message without listening to it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hypno-UFO -- Part II

I was going to blog about something fun and non-controversial today, like the Philadelphia Experiment or hypnotizing abductees or aliens scribbling notes in the margins of books, but I've been distracted by a curious comment I received and I think it needs to be addressed.

Some dude named "Anonymous" commented yesterday that A) he knows me very well, B) he knows what I know about UFOs and C) he knows what I don't know about UFOs... which is weird because it implies some kind of supernatural powers. He then went on to scold me and lecture me, and even trotted out that hairy old cliche about "drinking the kool-aid." You can read "Anonymous'" comments here, down towards the bottom of the page.
Don't drink me!!

The thing is, I don't need some supernatural being telling me what's good and bad, right and wrong, kool-aidey and not kool-aidey about UFOlogy and UFOlogists. "Anon" points out that I am relatively new on the UFO scene, and while this is true, it's also irrelevant, because in the short time I've been on the scene I've been engaged in some pretty intense research for my book. And, guess what? As a result, I know an awful lot more than "Anonymous" thinks I do.

In the course of my research I have interviewed, conversed with and corresponded with a whole lot of prominent and not-so-prominent people associated with UFOlogy, and because of this I have heard and read stories of such spectacularly shameful lapses in judgment and outrageously unethical behavior that I have been tempted to walk away from the whole sorry UFO scene in disgust on more than one occasion.

So, you can lecture and scold all you want, "Anonymous," and it won't make any difference to me. As for the so-called "Roswell slides," in the end I really don't give a rat's ass about them one way or another. If they someday turn out to be "proof" of something, then yay UFOlogy! But if history is any guide, they are far more likely to end up in the scrap heap with all the other discredited Roswell "evidence" and "witnesses" that have come and gone over the years... And as a result no one will be any closer to understanding what, if anything, might have happened in New Mexico in July, 1947.
To avoid unnecessary confusion, do not attempt to view the "Roswell Slides" with this instrument.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hypno-UFO

When I recently visited UFO historian and blogger Michael Swords in Michigan, he lent me a big box of cassette tapes related to my work on the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek; the deal is, I convert the tapes to mp3s then burn them to a cd and send the cd and original cassettes back to Michael. It's great for both of us, as I get access to priceless, and sometimes truly obscure, material for my book, and I'm able to help Michael in his efforts to digitize his huge collection.

The material on the tapes dates from 1952 up into the mid-1980s, and runs the gamut from radio shows to public speeches to interviews with UFO witnesses to loud, sometimes rowdy conversations with Hynek's "Invisible College" colleagues. The recordings are immensely valuable to me and to UFOlogy in general, and I feel very fortunate to have been granted access to them by their custodian.

One tape in particular really surprised me. The label reads "Charlie Hickson Hypnosis Session, Sprinkle & Harder." When I saw that title my pulse raced; I was holding in my hand an actual recording of a hypnosis session with one of the two men allegedly captured by floating robot-like beings and taken into a spaceship where Hickson was examined by a floating eye! Holy fucking shit! How did I get so lucky??
The Pascagoula "robot"

I have written extensively about the 1973 Pascagoula, Miss., abduction involving Hickson and his friend Calvin Parker, so there's no need to go over the story again in detail, but it was a really big deal when it happened. Dr. Hynek stated, after he had met and interviewed the two men and witnessed a first, unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize them, that he believed they had experienced something very real. When he made his statement at a press conference he told the reporters that these two men must not be made fun of... They didn't listen to him, of course.

So, to the tape. Hynek is not heard on the tape; only UFO researchers Dr. James Harder and Dr. Leo Sprinkle, and, of course, Hickson. It takes forever for Harder to get Hickson under, but when he does it doesn't take long for things to get freaky... Here is Dr. Sprinkle asking Charlie about the "eye" that came out of the wall and seemed to examine him as he was paralyzed on board the ship:

Sprinkle: What's happening now?
Hickson: They got Calvin, too. They got Calvin, too.
Sprinkle: Yea? (pause) What's happening now?
Hickson: They've taken me; they've taken me inside.
Sprinkle: Okay, they've taken you inside...
Hickson: (inaudible)
(Interruption as cassette is flipped over to side 2)
Hickson: (terrified) There's something in front of me.
Sprinkle: Can you describe what it is, what it looks like?
Hickson: (terrified) It's coming out of the wall! It's coming out of the wall! Oh, what are they going to do?
Sprinkle: What does it look like?
Hickson: (whimpering) It's getting close. It's getting closer.
Sprinkle: It's getting closer...
Hickson: (terrified) Closer... closer... closer... (pause) I can't close my eyes, I can't close my eyes...
Sprinkle: So you had trouble closing your eyes? (long pause) You'll be okay. Let your body relax. Just see those reflections as though they were from a distance... What's happening now?
Hickson: (calmer) It's going; it's going down under me.
Sprinkle: (inaudible)
Hickson: They's something; they's something in the wall in front of me.
Sprinkle: Something else, in front of the wall?
Hickson: (shaky) Yes, they's something else in the wall in front of me.
Sprinkle: Uh-huh. Can you describe it? How does it look?
Hickson: I can't see it clear. The light's too bright. Too bright, too bright... my eyes...
Sprinkle: Your eyes really, really feel it... (pause) That thing on the wall; does it look like it's a big thing or a small thing? Does it look...
Hickson: I can't see it. I don't know.
Sprinkle: But you know it's there.
Hickson. It's there. Yeah, it's there.
Sprinkle: Any sound, or...
Hickson: No sound.
Sprinkle: Does it look like it's moving? (pause) Does it look like it's moving? Is anything happening with it?
Hickson: There's something there.
Sprinkle: There's something there, okay.
Hickson: There's something inside the wall.
Sprinkle: Something inside the wall. Do you go over to it? Do you get closer to the something over there?
Hickson: I'm above it...
Sprinkle: So you stay where you are, but you see something over in the wall. Is anything happening with it?
Hickson: It's coming under me. It's coming under me but (inaudible).
Sprinkle: Okay.

At this point Harder takes over from Sprinkle and starts to ask Charlie about the robot creatures that kidnapped them; I'll cover that in a future installment, because, really, this is to be savored...

The recording is really quite awesome, and it gives me honest to God goosebumps every time I listen to it. Charlie is scared. The strong visual sense that he displays in describing the events -- being able to see to just enough to scare him out of his mind but not able to see everything that's going on -- because he was allegedly paralyzed right down to not being able to close his eyes -- makes it all very real and very terrifying to me. What an amazing tape.

Stay tuned for a vivid description of the robot creatures...



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mad as Hatters!

Life is funny. For the past several months I've had the first chapter of my book about Dr. J. Allen Hynek pretty much locked up. Then, over the holiday weekend, my wife and I found ourselves passing by the little town of Williams Bay, WI, and on a whim I said, "Hey, let's go see the Yerkes Observatory. It's where Hynek did his graduate work in the 1930s. You'll love it!"

Soon after we were driving up the long driveway leading up the Observatory, and I was glad we had gone a few miles out of our way to see it. Not only is it a gorgeous Romanesque building, built in 1895 in a beautiful setting overlooking Lake Geneva, it's where young J. Allen spent many mystical nights looking through Yerkes' 40" refractor telescope -- the largest in the world at the time -- measuring the brightness of stars for his doctoral dissertation, ultimately titled “A Quantitative Study of Cer­tain Phases of F-Type Spectra.”
 
A person could get awfully mystical working at a place like this...


The Observatory was closed, so our visit was limited to us taking a walk around the building, soaking in the scenery, and letting our dog romp around the beautifully-groomed lawn. But I was curious to learn about Hynek's time at Yerkes, so over the weekend I started my research... Turns out, there's a surprising amount of relevant information available through the Williams Bay Historical Society and the archives of the University of Chicago, the institution that has owned and operated Yerkes since it was erected nearly 150 years ago. 

And suddenly, Chapter One is in for a major rewrite... stay tuned.

In other news, I have started to read one of the most uproarious UFO books of all time! When I recently visited UFO historian Michael Swords, he lent me his prized copy of the famous "annotated" version of "The Case for the UFO," a 1955 pro UFO book by Morris K. Jessup. The copy Michael lent me was the "VARO edition," transcribed and published by the VARO Mfg. Co of Garland, TX in 1959 and distributed to a few UFO VIPs like Captain Edward Ruppelt, the Project Chief of Project Blue Book in the early 1950s. Now, this is widely available online and you can buy it from Amazon if you want, but I'm getting a big kick out of reading a copy that's one removed from the original transcription. 

The book is just an overload of weirdness... Jessup had set out to make the case that UFOs were very real and very serious, and that we should be studying them to find out what exactly they were up to. Apparently he got a little too close to the truth, as a copy of the book was delivered to U.S. Navy intelligence with voluminous notes written on the margins of the pages, discussing Jessup's material in astonishing detail. Funny thing is, the notes were apparently written by three aliens, Mr. A, Mr. B and Jemi, and they were freaking out about Jessup being so close to blowing the lid off the whole UFO mystery.

That's weird enough, but the VARO edition also includes copies of two letters written to Jessup around the same time by a guy named either Carlos Allende or Carl Allen (and who may have actually been "Mr. A"), who insisted on leaking a story to Jessup about his first-hand involvement in "The Philadelphia Experiment." This was an alleged experiment in matter transmission or teleportation that took place in 1943; as the story goes, the Navy successfully teleported a ship from one place to another after rendering it invisible. Pretty cool, right? Only thing is, they left the crew on board the ship, and not all of them made it back in very good shape...

To quote Mr. Allende's letter: 

"Half of the officiers (sic) & the crew of that Ship are at Present, Mad as Hatters. A few, are even Yet, confined to certain areas where they May receive trained Scientific aid when they, either 'Go Blank' or 'Go Blank' & 'Get Stuck.' Going-Bland (sic) IE an after effect of the Man having been within the field too Much, IS Not at all an unpleasant experience to Healthily Curious Sailors. However it is when also, they 'Get Stuck' that they call it 'HELL INCORPORATED.'"

Not for the faint of heart... Although there is a somewhat light-hearted side to the story. According to Allende/Allen/Mr. A, several sailors still feeling the effects of the experiment got off the base one night and went carousing at a local bar. Nothing unusual about that, except that in this case the sailors were invisible.

"They Raided a Local to the Navy Yard 'Gin Mill' or 'Beer Joint' & caused such Shock & Paralysis of the Waitresses that Little comprehensible could be gotten from them."

Yes, if I could travel back in time to one event in history, I would without a doubt choose to be at that 'Gin Joint' near the Navy base when it was raided by a horde of invisible sailors, at least half of whom we know were Mad as Hatters... 

There are some good things and some bad things in UFO world, and let me tell you... It just doesn't get much better than this.
 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Great Wisconsin UFO Flap of '14

Good god, we've got a veritable flap going on here in Wisconsin!

First there was this case a few weeks ago, right in my home town of Fort Atkinson, which I did a dandy job of investigating (Case Disposition: "Unknown-Other"). Then the onslaught began. First this, also from Fort Atkinson, on May 6th:
My wife and I were coming home from getting dinner at approximately 8:30.... About two miles outside of Whitewater I noticed something huge in the sky. It had a redish blinking light and also a white blinking light. I pointed it out to my wife and she said it was probably two planes flying really close together. I told her to take a closer look. It was pretty dark at this point but I could see that it was on huge object. She looked closer and realized that too. My wife, who isn't a believer in UFO's said we should follow it because she was completely at a loss of words for what it was we were looking at. We followed it for about 45 minutes to an hour... A mile or two later we saw it again and it was much higher in the sky. Not too far from it we noticed another light in the sky. This was a white twinkling light... We watched this object in the sky for a few moments noticing that it would decend at a rapid speed for short distances. We could still see it in the sky at approximately 9:30 as we were heading back home... The first craft we saw was huge, much bigger than any plane I have ever seen. It also moved slow for quite a while at low altitudes.
Then this, same town, same witnesses, on June 26th:
My wife and I were in Jefferson dropping off a few items... Two black unmarked military helicopters flew overhead just above the treetops. A few minutes later they circled by again but were a bit higher up and I took a short video. They headed east/southeast towards the direction of our house. My wife and I headed home a few minutes after the helicopters passed by. When we were about 2-3 miles from our house we noticed something in the sky. It was an immensely bright light hovering in the sky in front of us ( It looked to be quite far away, probably 4 miles or so). My wife and I both saw it and have no idea what it was.
 And again from Fort Atkinson, this one from May 24th:
My wife first seen a yellow light about 9:00pm but did not inform me of this. until I saw a second one and mentioned it to her. The second light was the same as the first. The second light was seen at 9:27pm. It was bright Yellow first seen east of Fort Atkinson Wis. Object was moving quickly to the west-northwest about 275 to 285 degrees. Total time visible was apx.15-20 seconds. Object was moving very fast and there was no sound No other lights were visible(ie aircraft running lights) There was no wind as observed by the flag at the Post Office. The first light followed the same path as the one I seen. Other lights have been seen similar to this in the past. ??
Two questions marks, indeed. What the hell is going on in Fort Atkinson, WI??  First we get lights, then objects, then lights again., with a few black helicopters thrown in for good measure. Black Helicopters! Trust me when I say there is nothing in Fort Atkinson worth flying across the galaxy for. Except, maybe... just maybe... they're heading up the highway to Johnson Creek to check up on The Gobbler, the building that by all rights should have been the new Intergalactic UFO Research Center... That would certainly explain a lot, and would be proof that the UFOs are intelligently controlled.
Seems a lot of aliens are asking themselves this lately.

This investigation could prove to be crucial. The couple who filed the first two reports are in the middle of moving, so scheduling time to talk to them has been tricky. With any luck I'll be meeting with them soon. Same with the folks who filed the first report.

Meanwhile... why the hell am I not seeing any of this?? I live in the same town, look at the same sky; why am I not seeing these UFOs? Why am I not seeing black helicopters? What am I doing wrong?

While I'm sorting that out, another flap is developing in Central Wisconsin, in the sleepy little town of Waupaca. Two new cases reported just this week, with a small ferris wheel but with many more spokes, almost like a fireworks display contained in a round circle with blinking lights all around ita third historical sighting (from 2001) for good measure. If anything, the Waupaca sightings are even more interesting than the local events. The historical sighting, for example, involved "a metallic cylinder with fire emitting from holes along the side," and one of the sightings this week involved "a small ferris wheel but with many more spokes, almost like a fireworks display contained in a round circle with blinking lights all around it."

I don't know why, but these last two cases make me proud to be a Wisconsinite. We don't mess around.

Monday, June 30, 2014

UFO Favorites

So, last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and that's a weird thing to say, but it's true. It's true because I visited the home of UFO historian and co-author of "UFOs and Government" Michael Swords, and that is always a pleasure.

I considered it important to interview Michael for my book about J. Allen Hynek because I know the man didn't always think too highly of Hynek. Michael makes no secret of the fact that he considers Hynek to have been a timid, weak-willed, ineffectual flunky of the Air Force. Over and over again in his recent book, and in much of his earlier UFO reporting, he likes to refer to Hynek as "poor Allen."

Is that a promise?
But I had a feeling that if I interviewed him, Michael might reveal a different side to his feelings about Dr. Hynek. Sure enough, throughout our talk he was thoughtful and respectful in his comments, and even though he didn't hide his negative feelings about Hynek, he went out of his way to put those feelings in the proper context. Hynek wasn't so much a sellout, Michael felt, as a man whose human weaknesses sometimes undermined his noble intentions.

Michael had come to work for Hynek's Center for UFO Studies a short time before Hynek moved to Arizona, so he only met Hynek three times. He became heavily involved with the Center's operation  in the mid- to late-80s, however, and has a lot to day about the influence of Hynek's work on the UFOlogy of that period. The book will be much richer for Michael's insights.

Towards the end of the interview, I asked Michael to name his favorite UFO cases. This guy has studied the UFO phenomenon frontwards and backwards and every which way in between, so I was very curious to hear which sightings stood out to him... He had already mentioned a few high profile cases during the course of our conversation so I thought I knew what direction he might go, but when it came to naming his favorites not a one of them came up.

Here are Michael's Top Three UFO Events of All Time:
  • The 1959 Father Gill case in Boianai, Papua, New Guinea, in which an Anglican missionary and about two dozen others witnessed two UFOs on consecutive nights and seemed to communicate with the seemingly friendly occupants of one of the crafts... The occupied UFO approach Father Gill and the others where they had gathered on the beach, and several humanoid figures appeared on the top of the craft. The humans waved at the UFO occupants, and the occupants waved back...
  • The 1973 Captain Coyne helicopter case, in which a crew of four Army servicemen on a helicopter over Ohio encountered a huge metallic object approaching them in the sky and took evasive action to avoid a mid-air collision. The helicopter went into a steep dive as the object hovered over the cockpit; after it vanished from view Captain Coyne and his crew found that even though the helicopter had gone into a steep dive, the craft had somehow pulled it nearly 2,000 feet higher in altitude. Not only did all the crewmen agree on the details of the event, witnesses on the ground corroborated the whole story and were terrified that they were about to see a mid-air crash...
  • The 1960 Red Bluff, California incident, in which several policemen witnessed a pair of football-shaped craft maneuver in the air for some two hours. This case was the big surprise for me, because on the face of it, it doesn't seem to amount to much. The UFOs didn't do anything spectacular -- no near mid-air crashes, no waving aliens -- and yet Michael was fizzing with excitement when he went over the details of the event...
Pretty cool stuff. I wholeheartedly agree with Michael about the Gill case and the Coyne case. Hynek was particularly fascinated by the Gill case and traveled to Boianai in 1973 to meet with the witnesses, and that says a lot. Even after 14 years, the case was still completely unexplained and intensely compelling. The Coyne case was the first big UFO event that Hynek's Center investigated, and it quickly became the gold standard for UFO cases.

As to the Red Bluff case... I'll have to read up on it to see if I can understand why it captivates Michael the way it does. But even if I never understand, it was a real treat to see that case and the two others through the eyes of a genuine UFO scholar.

What about you, readers? What are your favorite cases?