Wednesday, July 30, 2014

General Panic

Well this one seems to have a died a quick, merciful death, so that's good anyway.

But it rankled me nonetheless that this was "News" for even one iota, because it's completely pointless and silly, and gives UFOlogy an even worse image than it already has.

"Grandmother says Wright-Patterson UFO and alien stories are true" read the July 24th headline on www.mufon.com and OpenMindsTV.com 

I admit, I was sucked right in. UFOs? Grandmas? Aliens? Wright-Patterson AFB? Man, this story has it all! I have to read this! So I read it and in about two seconds realized that the headline was in fact completely misleading. No, it was worse than misleading; it was false.

And it really bugs me, because, as I said, this is being presented to the world as serious UFO news, and yet you barely have to be evolved beyond an amphibian to be able to figure out that it's pretty much completely bogus. How is this helpful?

See, here's the problem: the headline is written in present tense, as though describing events that just happened, but it is in fact describing things that were alleged to have happened many years ago -- if they happened at all, which is not at all certain, because all we have is hearsay and innuendo. According to the headline, the Grandmother in question has just announced to the world, via the MUFON website, that the stories about UFOs and aliens being kept at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are true, but the Grandmother is no longer with us. In fact, she died years ago. That's a problem, because how does a dead Grandmother announce anything?
Wright-Patterson AFB: aliens check in, but they don't check out.

The report was actually filed recently by the dead Grandmother's grandson, who I'm sure is a very nice fellow but who nonetheless has made some very sketchy claims. For one thing, there is nothing in the story to suggest that the Grandma, when she was alive, ever actually stated that the "Wright-Patterson UFO and alien stories are true." All the grandson actually asserts is that his Grandma and Grandpa lived in Dayton, Ohio in the early 1960s, and that they knew a "high-ranking" guy who was stationed at Wright-Patterson. When this "high-ranking" guy they knew retired from active service, the grandson reports, the Grandmother asked him if the UFO and alien stories were true, to which the "high-ranking" guy reportedly said, "If the public knew what was at the base from the Roswell incident, there would be a general panic amongst the public."

The Grandmother's response? According to the report, "The woman did not ask any more questions."

Hmmmm.... several things (that should have been obvious to the headline-writer) pop out.
  1. According to the grandson, Granny asked the friend about Wright-Patterson specifically, so why would the friend have brought Roswell into the conversation?
  2. Why would the Grandmother know anything about UFO and alien rumors in the first place, and why would she ask her "high-ranking" friend about them?
  3. Just because he's retired, why would the "high-ranking" guy see fit to make such a provocative statement to a civilian?
  4. Who "knew" anything about crashed UFOs and captured aliens in the early 1960's? This is a good ten years or more before Jesse Marcel started singing like a canary about the supposed Roswell incident.
  5. The woman did not ask any more questions? Are you fucking kidding me?
Let's just recap: the "witness" is long dead; the "report" is all second- and third-hand hearsay; the "facts" don't actually add up at all... But I guess we're supposed to believe the story because the grandson reports that his dear departed Granny "was the most witty, honest and candid person I’ve ever met."

Uhhh.... Has there ever been anyone who ever lived, ever, who didn't think his or her grandma was the most honest person they'd ever met?

File this one under 'S' for Stupid.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The UFO That Was a House

It's been a while since I shared one of my MUFON case files here at High Strangeness, in part because the great Wisconsin UFO Flap of 2014 seems to have fizzled out as quickly as it sprang up... That's just the way it goes with UFOs, I guess. It's like they have a mind of their own or something. Go figure.

I did investigate one interesting historical case recently, though, that was about as odd as they come; so odd that it scored a whopping 33 on the Ballester-Guasp Evaluation (BGE). I'm not sure, but I think that's the highest rating a case of mine has ever gotten. Not surprising, though, as this Close Encounter of the Third Kind had everything: a shape-shifting UFO, a landing, UFO occupants, and, as an added bonus, an uncooperative ex-spouse!

The story begins in late September, 2001, as they so often do, with a tired motorist a long way from home... For him, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that he never found... Yes, I know that's the opening narration from "The Invaders," but in this case it also happens to be exactly what happened! Life imitates art! Here, just read my report:

Late night... wrong turn... lonely road... classic UFO setup.
Witness was driving from Cxxxxxx, IL, to Wxxxxxx, WI, to visit friends for the weekend. It was about 11 pm on a Friday night. His then-wife and son were in the car sleeping. He got lost in the country, and saw a fireball in the sky; he thought it was a plane about to crash. It seemed about 3 miles away. There was a bar & grille across the road but only 2 cars out front and no activity. 
He woke his wife up as the fireball seemed to turn towards his car -- it looked like "the earth being on fire..." As it approached he stopped the car. The object then appeared to be a cigar-shaped fuselage with a row of flaming jets along the side just under a row of illuminated windows. Inside the windows were 3 or 4 "figures." He could not tell if they were "people" but he had a strong impression that they were wearing something white and that they were looking out at them. 
He was an off-duty law enforcement officer at the time and had a gun in the car, as well as a camera, but "something" told him to leave both gun and camera in the car when he got out to get a better look. He started to pray as the object then appeared as a brilliant beam of white light shooting to the ground across the highway. He thought it landed but his wife thought that the lights across the highway were "a house." He got nervous and drove away. There was NO apparent missing time. He told several people about it at the time, but his ex-wife has never been willing to talk about the experience. On their way home 2 days later, they drove past the scene of the sighting, and there was no house where the wife thought there was. There was just a stream. The witness was so shaken that he made a "deal" with the UFO never to report the event, but after 13 years he felt he needed to tell someone about it.

NATURAL/MANMADE PHENOMENON: Neither

WEATHER INFORMATION:  Clear as far as witness can recall

WITNESS CREDIBILITY: Very high. He was at various times a college dean and a law-enforcement officer, and is now a lawyer. He is also African-American, and he told me that he always used to joke that UFOs are only ever seen by white people, never by black people, because UFOs never come to the city. Because of this, he never believed that UFOs were for real, but this intense event has had a profound impact in his life. At my request he called his ex-wife to see if she would be willing to talk to me, and she declined. She said "there's no reason to talk about it. "

CONCLUSION: BGE of 33, credible witness, high strangeness. This is one weird case that cannot be explained. The only thing that could change things is that the ex-wife "remembers things differently" but she is not interested in talking about it.
My final verdict: 
  • Unknown UAV:

    • An object in this category should appear to be some type of aerial vehicle. An orb or paranormal type object should NOT be in this category. If a FI puts a case in this category then there should be a 90%+ confidence that the object sighted by the witness cannot be explained by a terrestrial object or an astronomical object.

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.