High Strangeness: December 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fuzzy Edges

Should I be worried that name of the witness in the UFO case to which I've just been assigned is "Farce?" That's the last name, by the way, not the first. "Nxxxx Farce," I kid you not.

The case itself is kind of interesting, though. It involves a woman and her daughter in their car at night sighting a bright light that started to behave suspiciously... "We pulled onto the road facing east and sat there watching it flicker and dart in ways that proved to be it was not an airplane, and I watched it ascend upward at a slight angle OVER the trees and descended in front of them towards us."

The narrative gets more interesting from there, but there are a couple features of this case report that caught my eye before I even got to the narrative description... One was that the witness reported psychological effects during the sighting. I don't think I've ever come across this before, and I'm curious to learn more about how the witness was affected. What's more, in the section of the case report where the witness is asked to check off anything the object did during the encounter, there is a list of 53 possible behaviors from which to choose, and while most witnesses will check one or two or maybe three, this witness checked off an even dozen!

Here's the rest of the witness' list:
  • Changed Direction
  • Turned Abruptly
  • Hovered
  • Descended
  • Ascended
  • Over Powerlines
  • Over a Building
  • Blinked
  • Pulsated
  • Had Fuzzy Edges
  • Glowed
  • Affected Me Psychologically
There's a lot going on there... To top it all off, when the witness and her daughter arrived at their destination, they were so shaken that the witness had her boyfriend pick them up and drive them home. Whatever it was that these two witnesses saw, it was not your ordinary light in the sky.

Or was it?

Talk about "Fuzzy Edges..." New guidelines from MUFON will make it easier to identify flying objects such as this one.
That brings me to another item of interest. My superiors at MUFON have just released an updated list of Classification Categories for us Field Investigators, with, I hope, much clearer guidelines on what distinguishes an "Unknown Other" from an "IFO" from a "Hoax" from an "Information Only." I haven't had a chance to delve into the document too deeply, but I will share my insights on the new system over the next few posts, and I will share the details of my next investigation as we find out whether MUFON's modified categories will prove to be the bomb on their first trial.

Of course... this whole thing could prove to be a Farce.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Little Green Men -- Part 3

I just love the little green men of Kelly-Hopkinsville, even though they haunt my dreams. As I'm writing about the Kelly-Hopkinsville Little Green Men case (or KHLGMC) for my book about Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I find myself continually amazed at the way the Sutton clan fought off the little beasties that invaded their isolated Kentucky farm that August night in 1955. If the aliens had some gland plan to make contact with the human race by approaching a remote farmhouse after dark, they sure botched it when they picked the Sutton house.

My appreciation of the Suttons has grown even greater since I had the privilege of interviewing Geraldine Sutton-Stith, the daughter of Elmer "Lucky" Sutton, the man who led the fight against the alien invaders that night. From Geraldine, who was born several years after KHLGMC, I learned that her Daddy and her grandmother, "Miss Glennie" Lankford, made a formidable duo, and have earned places of honor in the pantheon of unwilling UFO celebrities.

To recap, on an August night in 1955, a bright shining object landed in a gully behind a Kentucky farmhouse. Shortly after, 11 adults and children in the farmhouse were besieged by silent, expressionless little glowing men who kept appearing outside the windows and doors and scampering over the roof. Three of the men in the house armed themselves and blasted away at the beasties every chance they could, but the little creatures simply flipped over and scrambled away... except, of course, for the times when they floated away. (And how many were there? News stories reported that a dozen creatures surrounded the house, but Lucky and the others never saw more than two creatures at the same time.)

The siege went on for hours, and finally the whole family escaped in the two family cars and reported the attack to the police. Over a dozen law enforcement officers went over the house and lot and found no sign of any alien presence. But once they left the siege began again, and in the morning the aliens just went away of their own accord. By rights they should have been picking lead shot out of their little green hineys for days afterwards, but they never seemed phased by the gunshots. The case has been investigated countless times, and the Suttons have never backed off from their story. KHLGMC remains one of the great unexplained UFO mysteries of all time.

It's a great story, but now I love it even more. I talked to Geraldine a lot about her Dad "Lucky" and what he went through that night. She told me that she always knew "something" had happened to her family before she was born, but her Daddy never spoke of it. Until one day many years later when a man and woman came to the door and asked Lucky to tell them his story, and he agreed. When he led the visitors into the living room, Geraldine followed... She sat on the floor, quiet as a churchmouse, completely transfixed as her Daddy told the strangers what happened that night.

She told me that her Daddy was small of stature, but was a fierce fighter. Even when Miss Glennie tried to convince Lucky and the other men to stop shooting at the creatures, Lucky wouldn't relent. “If they’re coming up to the doors and windows, they want to get in. And what are they going to do when they get in?" Geraldine said to me. "He wasn’t going to give them that chance!” We talked a lot about what kind of fear it would take to make such a self-reliant man race into town to get help from the police, and Geraldine said that Lucky's concern for his family's safety trumped all other considerations--the man knew when it was time to get help.

As for Miss Glennie, she would not allow any alcohol or tobacco on her farm, which became a factor when investigators suggested that Lucky and the others had been drinking and dreamed the whole thing up. “Miss Glennie didn’t believe in drinking or smoking or any of the bad things you could do to your body," according to Geraldine. "If you got caught in a lie, you might as well get ready for the wrath of momma and her God.”

Twice that night Miss Glennie was scared half to death by the creatures, once when the first alien approached the front door of the house and then again a few hours later when she woke up and saw one staring at her through the bedroom window... And even then she implored Lucky and the others to stop shooting at the creatures. After all, they didn't seem to want to hurt anyone, and they were probably just as scared of the humans as the humans were of them.

What did this creature do to upset Alene Sutton so?
All in all, I can't think of anyone better than Miss Glennie Lankford to represent the human race when we first make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. Of course, if the story is true, she has already done so...

There's another part of the story that intrigues me, and unfortunately Geraldine was not able to help me with this stickler... In the most thorough write-up of KHLGMC, "Close Encounter at Kelly" by Isabel Davis (1978, Center for UFO Studies), it is revealed that Miss Glennie did not believe her son Lucky's claims that there were strange little men outside the house until her daughter-in-law (and Geraldine's aunt) Alene Sutton came back in the house “...terrified, white, nervously shaking, saying that she had seen one of the little men. She was terribly upset..."

This is a bombshell, yet Davis never seems to have followed up on it. With the men guarding the doors with guns, how did Alene Sutton get out of the house, and why did she go outside when she knew there were strange creatures lurking in the yard? There was a kitchen door that was left unguarded, but from the house plans Davis drew in her report, Lucky would almost certainly have seen Alene slip outside from where he was stations. So did she not want Lucky to stop her?

I really want to get to the bottom of this, and I think I will find out more on my next visit to the CUFOS archives. The answer will surely be in the transcriptions of the interviews local radio host Bud Ledwith conducted of all the adults the day after the siege. But what if it isn't?? Anybody have any leads I can follow?

P.S. Geraldine has a slick website and a wonderful book about the encounter: "Alien Legacy." Read it!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chewed Out! -- Part 3 or Stifling a Yawn

Boy, readers sure are worked up over my posts about being bored with my most recent UFO cases here, here and here. I appreciate the sentiments behind the comments being posted both criticizing and supporting my bout with UFO boredom, but it's a little bewildering, to be honest.

Over the two and a half years that I've been writing High Strangeness, I've been supporting of and sensitive to the UFO witnesses I interview at least 95% of the time, and I generally only gripe about the witnesses who make the UFO report about themselves (like the guy and his terrifying wife who insisted that alien greys were planning to kill him in 48 hours because he gave up on his dream of being a musician after he and wife fought about it) or those who seem to have never heard of Occam's razor (like the guy who saw two glowing red "eyes" in his alley one night, reflected in his kitchen window, and was absolutely certain they couldn't have been the taillights of his neighbor's car).

The recent witness about whom I commented in the blog post that started this whole kerfuffle had reported seeing what J. Allen Hynek would describe as "nocturnal meandering lights." The witness reported seeing unusual lights that moved from one part of the sky to another before he lost sight of them. The witness had further reported that the lights were completely silent, and when we talked about that he started to list several rescue helicopters by name that the silent lights didn't sound like, but whose sounds he could identify instantly.

Whatever that guy saw, it wasn't this.
Now, it should be self-evident that a silent object doesn't sound like anything, except, of course, another silent object. What I was objecting to was being kept on the phone for several extra minutes so the witness could impress me with his voluminous knowledge of rescue helicopters, which, as I think anyone can readily see, has absolutely bupkis to do with the UFO report. These are extra minutes of my life, not yours, and I object to having them wasted.

Ultimately, each case report I file gets automatically rated for credibility on the Ballaster-Guasp Evaluation tool, and this particular case came up at a rating of... well, I can't tell you now because the MUFON Case Management System is crashing as I write this and I can't look up anything. But I do remember that the credibility index on this particular case was shockingly low, among the lowest of any case I've investigated.

But in my view this does not necessarily mean that the case is any less likely to be authentic than another with a higher BGE score (I have problems with this evaluation tool and I have written about it before here). This case got a low credibility rating because there was so little data to work with, and because there was only the one witness, and because the object just moved from point A to point B and didn't do anything "anomalous" in between. A case like this is guaranteed to get a low BGE rating, because there is so little data to work with, and because the investigation generally lasts less than 30 minutes. Why? Because there's just not that much to talk about besides what the witness already described when reporting the sighting in the first place, and I'm not going to keep someone on the phone longer than I have to just to boost the credibility rating. Because that would be a waste of everybody's time, it would render the credibility rating meaningless, and we would all be stifling yawns...

So, to the person who had a strange UFO experience in Wisconsin and is using one entry in my blog as a reason not to report the incident, I say go ahead and report it, because you will probably feel better for having done so, and because, as Chief Investigator for Wisconsin, I can see to it that another investigator gets the case. Just be sure to talk for >30 minutes!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Colin Wilson, R.I.P.

I was saddened to learn of the death of my idol Colin Wilson this past week. When I first started to explore expanded consciousness, the paranormal, and other unexplained phenomena on the fringes of science, Colin quickly became my go-to writer and thinker. His belief that there's far more to the world than our five senses reveal to us, and that anybody can develop the skills to perceive more has always rung true to me, and I have followed him faithfully over the years as he has explored and refined his philosophy. I am proud to own an autographed copy of his science-fiction novel "The Philosopher's Stone," and even once owned a copy of the movie "Lifeforce," a piece of crap very loosely based on another mind-bending Wilson science-fiction novel, "The Space Vampires" (This book may soon be turned into a TV series, and I hope to God these people do a better job with the material).
Colin Wilson (1931-2013)

Along the way Colin wrote one of the most thought-provoking UFO books I have ever read, "Alien Dawn: An Investigation into the Contact Experience." I'll say straight out that it is not for everybody. Readers may be extremely confused by Colin's attempts to link UFO contact with other mysterious manifestations, and extremely frustrated by Colin's refusal to draw any definite conclusions, as this GoodReads review shows.

But that's one of the reasons I love the book. Colin is smart enough to know that he can't prove any of his theories, but courageous enough to let his expansive imagination take him wherever it will regardless.

And it's not like he was the first writer to talk about the Loch Ness Monster, poltergeists and crop circles in a book that is supposed to be about UFOs. Colin is no more out there than someone like John Keel, whose books left nothing out of bounds and are phenomenally entertaining as a result.

So, anyone willing to entertain the possibility that there is a psychic element to the UFO phenomenon will find "Alien Dawn" an interesting read.

Colin also wrote a book called "Afterlife," and I can't help wondering if Colin is out there somewhere right now, wishing like crazy that he could revise that book...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Little Green Men! -- Part II

How does a UFO incident get its name?

The Phoenix Lights are named after a place in Arizona, but the Chiles-Whitted incident is named after two airline pilots (who, technically, were in the air and so were not in any actual place with a name, but still...). The Pascagoula abduction is named after the town in Mississippi where it occurred, but the Barney and Betty Hill abduction is named after the abductees... Then there's the ever-popular Roswell incident, which actually took place very, very far from Roswell, but the evidence of which was allegedly brought to an Air Force base in Roswell. So, who decides if a UFO encounter is forever named after the person who experienced it or the place where it occurred or the place where the evidence was allegedly taken?

I've been pondering this question since I blogged about the Kelly-Hopkinsville "Little Green Men" incident a while back, because Kelly and Hopkinsville are both towns in Kentucky, but the Kelly-Hopkinsville Litle Green Men incident didn't take place in either town.

The Sutton family farm, where the invasion of the little green men took place, is technically adjacent to the tiny so-called hamlet of Kelly, but when the Suttons and their kinfolk decided to make a run for it, they had to drive the ten miles or so south to Hopkinsville, because that's where the closest police station was...

Personally, I don't think Hopkinsville deserves to be in the name. The honor should go to Kelly, clearly. But that could be a problem too, because Kelly is too small to show up on Google Maps, so I'm not sure if it's real. Kelly fares somewhat better on MapQuest, where it appears to be a bump in the middle of U.S. Highway 41, but I'd say that's damning it with faint praise. Even more disturbing is the fact that on Kelly's official website, Kellyky.com, the town of Kelly shows an address in Crofton, KY, some seven miles to the north. Seems to me that if a town's address is another town, that town doesn't really exist.
Sure, Kelly, KY has a festival, but that doesn't make it real.

So why not ditch the names of the towns and name the incident after the Suttons? The Sutton Little Green Men incident has a nice ring to it, I think. But there's a problem with that as well. Of the eleven witnesses to the Sutton Little Green Men incident, only four were Suttons, and only two of those were Suttons by birth; the two others married into the clan. There were also two Taylors, four Lankfords (three by birth, one by marriage), and a Baker thrown in for good measure.

Now, lets parse that out. The farm was rented by twice-widowed matriarch Miss Glennie Lankford, and there were more blood Lankfords there than any other family, so by rights it should be the Lankford Little Green Men incident. But Elmer "Lucky" Sutton, one of Miss Glennie's sons from her first marriage, is generally regarded as the hero of the story, because he took charge when the invasion commenced, so he would seem to have the naming rights all wrapped up. But then the first shot was fired at a little green man by Lucky's best friend Billy Ray Taylor, and Billy Ray was also the only one of the group who saw the brightly-lit object with the rainbow exhaust land in the gully behind the farmhouse, so we could just as accurately call it the Billy Ray Taylor Little Green Men incident.

But then there's the fact that the little green men weren't green at all. They had shiny silver skin (or clothing--no one seemed sure), and their huge eyes glowed yellow... 

So, in the end, pretty much everything about the name The Kelly-Hopkinsville Little Green Men incident is false. And if there's one thing the field of UFO research does not need, it's for prominent UFO cases to be named after towns that don't exist or where the sightings didn't actually take place or creature colors that were never seen or reported. This web of lies is a house of cards, and it cannot stand.

There's got to be a better way...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chewed Out! -- Part Two

Ok, it happened again. I got chewed out a second time for being "negative" about my UFO investigating career. This was after responding to the first scolding with an explanation of where my negativity was coming from...

Here's what I wrote to the scolder the first time:
"Criticism taken, but if you read more than just the one post you'd see that there's much more to my blog. From time to time I need to vent my frustrations with UFO people, and when I do I usually take on an exaggerated tone... But the majority of the UFO people I run across are pretty cool and I treat them with respect. I hope you keep reading"
Short, sweet and sincere, right? But not good enough for the scolder, who wrote this the next day:
"I did read more than one post, but that doesn't change the fact that you speak rudely about your contact with witnesses. People who have seen things already have to contend with the fact that a lot of people think they are crazy or were hallucinating or saw a bird or what ever. For someone like me, who had an experience so bizarre that I have never found any evidence of another sighting like it, & who has been searching for answers, it is disheartening to discover that the WI mufon investigator speaks disparagingly about witnesses.
"Whether you meant it light heartedly or not, it gives someone like me pause in wanting to share with you. I will continue my search for answers as I want to believe that my husband & I cannot be the only people who have experienced what we have. Witnesses need to know that there is a safe place to go to seek answers as we are sick of the name calling & disbelief that we receive."
Is this when the witness experienced? Sadly, this writer may never know.
So, okay, bad on me. I don't want my writing to discourage anyone from reporting UFO a sighting. Especially a sighting that is apparently so bizarre that the witness has never found evidence of another sighting anything like it. I can only assume from this letter that the witness and her husband have shared their story before and were met with disbelief and mockery, and it's unfortunate that they came across my blog when they did. Then again, as I think I have made clear many, many times, I would never suggest that anyone come to this blog looking for "answers."

I would love to hear about the witness' experience, but I'm pretty sure that won't happen now. I do hope, however, that they will report their experience to someone, somewhere, sometime.

As for me, I don't have a single case lined up right now, which is just how the UFOs like it.