High Strangeness

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

UFO Pride!

As I've mentioned here before, the true measure of any portrayal of Dr. J. Allen Hynek's groundbreaking UFO research comes down to one question: "Would Dr. Hynek be proud of this?"

Well, that question is being put to the test by the story posted at SYFY.com this week previewing the History Channel's upcoming TV series Blue Book, about Dr. Hynek's work with the Air Force's UFO research project. The article includes an amazing image that I just have to comment on...

Take a good look at the photo below. Did this ever happen to Dr. J. Allen Hynek in real life?

The answer is no. Dr. Hynek never found himself in a dark government lab, staring at an alien "grey" floating in a tank. Not even once. But, this is how the producers of Blue Book have decided to "jazz up" the true story of Dr. Hynek's UFO work with the Air Force.

"We were pretty good about sticking with history," declares the show's creator in the SYFY.com article.

Oh, okay, that's reassuring. Because when I saw this picture of Hynek meeting an alien, I thought maybe they had been pretty bad about sticking with history. Nice to know I was wrong!

I bet Dr. Hynek would be proud as heck.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Ton of UFO Debris!

This is why things never change. This is why UFO research never goes anywhere.

I was at a bookstore over the weekend and spotted a great looking book titled "Aliens," by Ron Miller (Watkins Media Limited, 2017). The book is a huge, beautifully-illustrated history of the human race's fascination with alien beings from other planets, and I immediately wanted to buy it.

But then, as I always do when I find a new UFO book, I flipped to the back and looked at the index to see if Dr. J. Allen Hynek was mentioned in the book. He was. Miller wrote that Dr. Hynek was a proponent of the "Extraterrestrial Hypothesis" (ETH), which is absolutely not true. Hynek considered it a possibility that UFOs had an extraterrestrial origin, but he didn't consider it likely. In fact, ETH was only one of many possible hypotheses that Hynek considered possible, but the important point is that Dr. Hynek did not favor any one of these possibilities over any of the others. Ten minutes of research would have shown Miller that Dr. Hynek was never a proponent of ETH.

I put the book back on the shelf.

Then today I read the news on the Coast to Coast AM newsletter that about 200 attendees at last week's "Roswell Fest" in Roswell, NM were given the chance to visit the alleged Roswell "crash site." This, of course, is the barren stretch of ranch land where a flying saucer was alleged to have crashed in early July, 1947. Up until now, only alleged "UFO researchers" have been given access to the site where rancher Mac Brazel claimed to have discovered some debris that he couldn't identify. He put some of the alleged debris in the back of his truck and took it to the sheriff, and you probably know how things went from there...

The C2C story had a link to a local New Mexico TV news report, and it's here that things really go off the rails. First, the reporter immediately claims that she is at the "UFO crash site," forgetting to add the modifier "alleged," which I have done above. Then she states, "...a man by the name of Mac Brazel says that this is where he saw a UFO crash." 

That's a big LOL right there. Brazel never claimed to have seen a UFO crash. In fact, no one has ever claimed to have seen anything at all crash on that ranch, because no one ever saw anything in the sky above that ranch, because it's a remote stretch of Godforsaken dirt and rocks some 75 miles away from Roswell. Nobody saw anything in the sky above the ranch, ergo, nobody saw anything crash into the ranch.

The rest of the news report, which you can watch here, is just as ridiculous. After claiming that Mac Brazel saw a UFO crash, the reporter says that "they found a ton of unearthly debris." A ton? Really? And who are the "they" who found this "ton" of "unearthly" debris? And by what standard was it ever deemed "unearthly?" A little proof, please!

Throughout, the reporter and the Roswell tourists she interviews simply take it as a given that an alien spacecraft crashed on this random spot on the ranch in 1947. "It really did happen," says some guy from Toronto. "It's almost spiritual."

Yeah, "almost."

"You can see where the craft landed, and where the alien bodies were found," says another guy from Los Angeles who at least didn't travel as far to waste his $250 as the guy from Toronto.

Of course, all of this this begs the question, "Which alleged 'crash site' did these tourists visit?" According to no less an authority as MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, there are said to be as many as eleven Roswell "crash sites." So, which one did these people see? I think they're entitled to at least a partial refund, if not an explanation. I mean, by my calculations, the promoters of this tour grossed around $50,000 on the event.

So, yea, these are the reasons UFO research never seems to go anywhere. These are the reasons I get discouraged. If you're going to be doing UFO research or UFO journalism, for God's sake get it right. It's not that hard to do.

And, please... decide how many alleged crash sites there really are.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

UFO Dreams

I just had a very fun talk last night with Gary & Michael at Night Dreams Radio. Guess what we talked about?

WARNING: This is a full 2 hours of yours truly sharing amazing stories about our "UFO Dad."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

UFOs: Blue Book!

So, there's this new UFO TV series coming on the History Channel called Blue Book, and some lucky people have been getting sneak peeks at the show. I don't know a whole lot about the series, but my guess is that if you love the way the History Channel treats the UFO topic in Ancient Aliens I guess you'll probably love the new Blue Book show. If you're interested in a serious study of the UFO phenomenon, well, forget about the show and read my book.
Would you buy a used UFO from this man?
Sadly, this is what it's like for us UFO buffs. We're so happy to have something -- anything -- new about UFOs on TV that we'll accept whatever Hollywood foists on us and force ourselves to watch it. And I admit I will probably watch the show -- at least I'll sample it. And the whole time I'll be asking myself this:

Would Dr. Hynek be proud of 'Blue Book'?

Now, some readers may remember my close encounter with this show. About a year ago, shortly after my biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, The Close Encounters Man, came out, I got a Facebook message from some guy who identified himself as one of the producers on the new Blue Book series. He wondered if I would talk to him about the UFO career of Dr. Hynek documented in my book, and my agent and I decided it would be okay for me to talk to him, but only in vague generalities.

I have to admit, I was flattered that they came to me to learn more about Dr. Hynek, but when I talked with this guy on the phone I was shocked by how dopey and simple-minded his questions were. He was utterly clueless. He obviously knew nothing about Dr. Hynek, and so of course he was trying to do his basic research by talking to me. I shut him down pretty quickly and never heard from him again.

(Side note: shortly after this phone call I discovered that my Evernote account had been hacked. Luckily, most of the research material in the Evernote account involved contact info for people I wanted to interview, so if the hacker was hoping to steal any of my secrets they would have been pretty disappointed.)

So, anyway, now this Blue Book show is ready to go, and I've been super curious to see whether that "producer" who tried to poach materials from me last summer ever figured out what the show should be about.

Well, the news is not good. I just googled "Blue Book" and discovered that the show is not about UFOs or Dr. Hynek at all! It's about used cars! Stranger still, the producers have inexplicably changed Dr. Hynek into a character named "Kelley."

From what little I found on google, it appears that, instead of a UFO investigator, this Kelley character travels around the country for the Air Force appraising used cars. I have no idea why the Air Force would hire a scientist to appraise used cars, but leave it to the History Channel to uncover the most unexpected and fascinating stories about history that never happened.

Now, used UFOs, that I would have believed!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

UFO Lore

Wow, hard to believe it's been a month since I posted anything new here on the blog! The last month has been kind of a blur, what with travel, birthdays, family gatherings and social engagements coming at us in rapid fire, and I just haven't been able to sit down here and hammer out my thoughts at all.

That's not to say I haven't been thinking about UFOs, though. One of the big social engagements this past month involved a multi-day reunion with one of my high school friends, Jxxx, and a pair of my high school teachers, Mxxx and Kxxxx (they're married so they come as a set!), and the big fun of the visit was that these dear friends are all hard-core UFO buffs and together we spent more than a few hours talking about our favorite UFO stories... How often does that happen in life that you get to spend so much time with people you really enjoy talking about something about which you're so passionate? I felt pretty lucky.
Do I know much about the Kecksburg UFO? I sure don't!

To backtrack a bit, Jxxx and became great friends in high school in large part because we were both complete pop culture nerds. We started making epic movies together with my Super-8 camera equipment, mostly for our own enjoyment, and we gained great fame in our school for doing goofy skits and celebrity impersonations during the morning announcements. And people remember this stuff, even 40 years later -- last weekend at a get-together another old high school friend started raving about how much she loved Jxxx's and my morning announcements! Yes, we were that funny.

The two high school teachers, Kxxxx and Mxxx, surprised me last summer when they popped up at one of my book signings. It was great to get re-acquainted with them then, and even greater to spend some quality time with them this month. And guess what? They're complete pop culture geeks, too, something of which I was not fully aware back in the day... But who is fully aware of anything in high school?

So, here I am with these three old friends talking UFOs, and boy did I feel rusty. Because I was the guy who wrote a UFO book, my three friends kept asking me what I thought about this case or that, and man, were they keeping me on my toes. What did I think about Roswell? What about the Phoenix lights? What about the Kecksburg incident?

Of course I had to be honest with them about my feelings about Roswell, and they challenged me on it, which is good, because it forced me to think through my thoughts once again and to articulate them in a way that I though made the most sense. Any opportunity to think about how you present your thoughts and feelings about UFO is a good thing, I believe.

Sometimes I had to slow down and wrack my brain to remember the details of a specific case, and I was reminded of how much UFO lore I don't know off the top of my head.

Part of that is because I've spent so much of the past several years focusing on J. Allen Hynek-centered UFO cases that I just can't keep any more UFO lore in my head. But part of it also because there's just so damned much UFO information out there, so many UFO cases on record, that it's just impossible to keep up with it all. How do we keep it all straight in our heads??

One of the high points of the visiting was when I shared some of the strangest and funniest cases from my days as a MUFON Certified Field Investigator. Someday I really do need to write a book about those experiences.

So, thank you Jxxx, Mxxx and Kxxxx, for reminding me of so many great UFO stories, and for challenging me to rethink some things!

Monday, May 14, 2018

UFO Cold Case

The other day I got wind of a bizarre re-hash of the 1973 Coyne Helicopter case, courtesy of Kevin Randle, who is doing us a valuable service by pushing back against some real stupidity.

I wrote about the Coyne case in my book, The Close Encounters Man. There I described it as the gold standard of UFO cases, as it had been reported by the some of the most credible witnesses imaginable -- the four-man crew of a military helicopter -- and their account had been corroborated by witnesses on the ground. It remains completely unexplained.

The Coyne UFO.... or is it an Air Force tanker?

The new re-hash of the Coyne case comes to us courtesy of Parabunk, and while his explanation is very long and very detailed it is also pretty ridiculous. You should follow the link below and read it, but like I said, it is very long... (Spoiler alert: My book is quoted in Parabunk's report!)

The 1973 Coyne/Mansfield helicopter UFO incident finally explained

In this new account, the UFO that almost caused Captain Coyne to crash his helicopter in central Ohio and ended up with the four men being essentially saved from the crash by the actions of that UFO, was actually a military refueling plane that was trying to conduct a mid-flight refueling of Coyne's helicopter. The bombshell in Parabunk's new version of the story is that Captain Coyne didn't realize he was supposed to be engaging in a mid-flight refueling.

Let that sink in. This person is seriously suggesting that the captain of a military aircraft and his three crewmembers were completely unaware that a mid-flight refueling plane was maneuvering into position to top off their fuel tank. Not only that, when they saw the "refueling plane," they didn't recognize it as military plane at all. Keep in mind that these four men were flying home from their mandatory medical exams, and they had all been found to be in perfect health only hours before their encounter. In other words, they were not hallucinating, as Carl Sagan later famously suggested on national TV a few days after the events.

There's plenty of stupid to be found in Parabuck's writing, like the way he works so hard to build an iron-clad case and then undercuts it with a casual "maybe" this, or "possibly" that. But the worst moment is this explanation:

Then there's the big why question. Why would a tanker try to refuel someone who isn't expecting it? There might be some some former crew members who could give a definite answer, even if they haven't been willing to make it public so far. Lacking that, I have thought of some possibilities

For the fun of it?

Yea, Parabunk, that is the big question, isn't it?

Seriously, this person is asserting that the crew of a massive Air Force tanker would risk their careers and their lives by intentionally causing a near mid-air collision over residential areas in central Ohio "for the fun of it."

Kevin Randle is not cutting Parabunk any slack, and you can read his take the story at A Different Perspective.

But the last word in this tale goes to someone who is very well qualified to comment on the Coyne case. Jennie Zeidman conducted an investigation of the incident for the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), and her account of the case remains the definitive telling. When Kevin Randle contacted her today for her take on Parabunk's refutation of her work, she kindly suggested that Parabunk needs a new hobby.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

UFOs and Racism

In an interview in the February, 1985 issue of OMNI Magazine, Dr. J. Allen Hynek had this to say about the caliber of his fellow UFO researchers:
"I do not mean it unkindly, but the UFO movement today is filled basically with amateurs. Most of the investigators are not professionals, and they are technically ill equipped and lack funds. Many are also beset by preconceived notions of what UFOs ought or ought not to be."
If he were asked that today, Hynek might add that some amateur UFOlogists are beset by horribly racist and intolerant views of their fellow humans. The recent news that Dr. Chris Cogswell, the new Director or Research for MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, had resigned his post only a few months after taking the position because MUFON was harboring a racist in its camp, has made a lot of headlines, and was just written up today in Newsweek. This is not the kind of publicity that MUFON needs, but it is the publicity it deserves.
Would MUFON have approved of Mr. & Mrs. Hill?

Why do I say this? Well, let's go back to the beginning. About a year ago, John Ventre, a high-ranking MUFON officer, was called out for posting a racist rant on his Facebook page. I won't excerpt his post here because it's too foul to be repeated one more time, but in it he specifically targeted bi-racial couples with some deep hatred and disgust. I found Ventre's views repulsive in general, but I was also personally offended by Ventre's comments, because I am in a bi-racial couple.

I did not resign from MUFON because of Ventre's words, however, because I had already left MUFON months earlier. I left when I discovered that my new Wisconsin State Director had been re-opening and revising my old case files, marking every object in every sighting report as an "Orb." When I called her out on this unethical behavior, her response was that I need more training because I'm obviously too stupid to know an orb case when I see one. Then she started pressuring me to buy a book about The Orb Invasion, written by a friend of hers. I was appalled by her behavior, and even more appalled when no one at HUFON HQ could decide how to address the issue. So I quit.

A few months later, when my biography of Dr. Hynek was about to be published, I contacted MUFON Chief Jan Harzan to see about selling my book at the MUFON online store. Despite having recently resigned in disgust, I remained hopeful that my ex-state director's horrifically unscientific methods and orb fixation was an aberration, and that there were still good people at MUFON. And I still thought that my book might have a positive impact on people who wanted to learn more about the UFO phenomenon. But, as Jan and I were negotiating a deal, Ventre's views became public and Jan's public response that the people who were offended by Ventre's words were the real haters was enough for me. I told Jan that I no longer wanted to sell my book through MUFON.

Fast forward to today. Chris Cogswell, a guy who very well could have led MUFON into a meaningful revival of serious, scientific UFOlogy, is gone. And as of today, it's national news. What does MUFON have left after this debacle? Not much that I can see.

Oh, wait, MUFON still has orbs. I imagine that invasion is still going on.

A few other thoughts:

I have often observed with my wife, who is black, that people of color (POC) don't often report UFOs. Hard to say why that is, but it seems to be true. But there are exceptions. My wife's dad once had a very strange encounter that he believes involved a UFO. And one of the most intriguing cases I ever investigated for MUFON was reported by a black man. He, too, was aware that POC don't often file UFO reports. It was a Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and I would have loved to have researched the hell out of it, but the sighting had taken place several years earlier, and the witness' wife would not consent to an interview; she just wanted to forget that the freaky occurrence had ever happened (Historic cases are tricky to begin with, because so much time has passed since the occurrence, but if one of two witnesses doesn't want to talk about it, you're basically left with nothing but one person's story to "investigate")

I don't like to think about what would have happened had John Ventre ever interviewed my father-in-law, or the gentleman who reported the Close Encounter of the Third Kind. I don't think those conversations would have gone well, and two fascinating reports would never have seen the light of day. Can we afford that?

Hint: No.

And then there's this: What the hell does John Ventre think of Barney & Betty Hill, the celebrated UFO abductees who happened to be a bi-racial married couple? Imagine what would have happened if Ventre, or someone like him, had been the first person to contact the Hills...