High Strangeness: My UFO Weekend in Ann Arbor

Monday, March 21, 2016

My UFO Weekend in Ann Arbor

Well, the Swamp Gas UFO Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan has come and gone, and we still aren't any closer to knowing what all those people in Michigan saw in the swamps 50 years ago, Dammit. I tried my best to present a clear analysis of the event, but because I wasn't trying to prove anything or promote the expected cover-up story I'm not entirely sure how my talk went over.

It was a fun event, though, and I am really glad I got to take part. Hats off to Bill Konkolesky and his staff at Michigan MUFON for putting on such a slick event. There were about 200 people there, by my reckoning, and, hey, a lot of them stuck around until 4:15 to hear me tell the same story they had been hearing all day, so I was pleased.

Drink specials at the hotel bar the night of the conference. "Bud Light Lime" seems particularly otherworldly.
Not so pleasing was the fact that there was no one there from the media. I mean, not even Open Minds, for God's sake. Sheesh. Can we get a little recognition for something in UFO world that doesn't have "Roswell" in its name?

Also disappointing was the fact that the national MUFON organization provided very little support or promotion for the event. Shame on them. This could have and should have been a much bigger deal than it was, but MUFON HQ blew it. Why? Well, again, it doesn't have the "R" word in its name.

On the other hand, Roswell came up in the presentations, and when it did it was usually to endorse the tedious old saucer crash/government coverup story. When I was done with my Swamp Gas presentation, we opened it up for Q&A, and the first question came from a guy who asked me what I thought of Don Schmitt's reports that Dr. J. Allen Hynek interviewed Roswell witnesses. A Don Schmitt plant in the audience, perhaps?

What I should have said was, "What's a Roswell witness?" but I didn't. I said that to the best of my knowledge Hynek had never interviewed anyone about anything associated with Roswell. I could, of course, be wrong, but I've been researching Hynek's work for several years and I can tell you there is a notable absence of any mention of Roswell in any of Hynek's notes or books or interviews or correspondence that I have seen. It was only after Hynek moved to Arizona that Roswell became a hot topic in the CUFOS offices.

Another man asked how Hynek felt about UFO abductees. I replied that although Hynek was uncomfortable with abductee cases he was sympathetic to the people involved. He met Barney and Betty Hill in the mid-'60s, as well as Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker in '73, and was struck by the sincerity of all of them. He had been present when the Hills were hypnotized, and when the unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize Hickson and Parker had taken place, and was deeply impressed by both. On the other hard, he was not overly impressed when Travis Walton was hypnotized. He felt that Walton didn't remember much more under hypnosis than he had already consciously recalled.

Another questioner asked, "What do I tell people when they ask me if I really believe that UFOs are real?" I thought my answer was pretty snappy. I said, "You can just say what Hynek said when people asked him that. He simply said, 'Well, I believe UFO reports are real.'"

Yeah, maybe not what the crowd wanted to hear...


Terry the Censor said...

Good to know Michigan MUFON did a nice job. I grew up across the river from Detroit. Maybe I could plan to visit my family in conjunction with a future conference.

> [Hynek] was not overly impressed when Travis Walton was hypnotized

The UFO fandom might be surprised that the Walton case is not universally acclaimed by investigators (Kevin Randle declared it a hoax in his book The Randle Report: UFOs in the '90s (1997)).

Anonymous said...

The media in the USA has done their job well. When ufos are mentioned it is usually with a smirk on their faces. There is only one case ever mentioned... Roswell.

It sounds like the national MUFON organization is interested in one thing, accumulating more reports that collect dust. Too bad.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Yea, it does seem that way, doesn't it? MUFON is really missing the boat.

AJG said...

I was at the conference and I thought your presentation was absolutely great! It was informative, grounded in fact, and gave really good insight into Hynek's role and the context of the Michigan sightings within the UFO/Blue Book world of 1966. Very well done!

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Thank you so much for the comment! I knew I was kind of going against the grain with my presentation, so I'm glad to know it was appreciated.

AJG said...

You're welcome! You and Will Matthews were the clear standouts, in my opinion. I did a writeup on my thoughts on the conference here.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Wow, thanks for the nice review!