High Strangeness: I Worry About UFOs

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Worry About UFOs

Regular readers of High Strangeness may have noticed that my blogging has been sparse of late. There are several reasons for that.

Even six months after the release of my book, The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs, I still often find myself needing to just take a step back from UFO world and decompress. It's hard to explain how focusing on one singular topic for five + years can affect your feelings about that topic. Not that I've lost interest at all, I just need to limit my exposure to it sometimes, for my own mental health.
The book is only the beginning...

And although this may sound contradictory, I'm more inclined these days to put my UFO energy into other media projects building off the success of my book. I've been working with a new manager, and I'm loving the energy she's bringing to my writing career. The projects themselves are pretty top secret, so I can't say anything more about them, but they are sure to be entertaining -- at least to me!

Another thing: for the past 2 years I've been teaching screenwriting as an adjunct professor at DePaul University and I really love it. My students are so talented and so positive, and I'm privileged and honored to help them find their voices and become better writers -- which I'd like to I think I've become fairly good at. So, this fall I've also been devoting a lot of energy to applying for full-time teaching posts. I don't have a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) or a Ph.D., which puts me out of the running for many faculty positions, but every now and then a college is willing to waive that requirement if you have what they call "equivalent professional experience." Fortunately for me, my Star Trek writing experience and the publication of my book qualify, so when I find one of those opportunities I have to pounce on it.

Then there's the continuing craziness everywhere I look in UFO world:
  • I keep getting emails from Tom Delong's insipid "To the Stars Institute" or whatever the hell it's called, urging me to do my Christmas shopping at his website. So apparently his UFO Institute is just an e-commerce operation, nothing more. No, he is not getting a penny of my Christmas $$, and neither is MUFON, come to think of it.
  • Someone on Facebook recently pointed out that the upcoming International UFO Congress is featuring a talk by Don Schmitt on whether Dr. J. Allen Hynek had "discovered the truth about UFOs." Anybody who knows anything about Dr. Hynek knows that Hynek would have despised any suggestion that he might know the "truth" about UFOs. All I ask is that, if you plan to go to this lecture, please read my book first and then make up your own mind. And if you don't want to buy my book, for God's sake check it out of the library!
  • I recently saw on IMDB that the producers of the History Channel's "Blue Book" TV series have cast someone to play "General Hoyt S. Vandenberg." This made me chuckle and roll my eyes. Why they think this is worth noting is beyond me. Vandenberg's involvement with the Air Force's UFO study lasted about three seconds -- just long enough for him to reject Project Sign's extraterrestrial hypothesis-friendly "Estimate of the Situation," all (or perhaps almost all?) copies of which ended up being destroyed as a result. Does this casting notice indicate that General Vandenberg has been posthumously promoted?
So, yeah, I worry.

On the other hand, I am psyched about the return of The X-Files, and I did do a very fun interview last weekend with Howard Hughes, the UK's answer to Art Bell! As soon as Howard posts the conversation at The Unexplained with Howard Hughes, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, you can listen to my archived previous interview with Howard here


nsurround said...

Yes Tom Delonge's enterprise does seem kind of scammy. Yet he has $2M in common shares sold to date. He is supposed to release new de-classified photos of UFOs from government/military in a week or so. We will see. Person's involved in the UFO community need to make a living just like everyone else. I am always amused at skeptics who think that writing a book on the subject is somehow a cop out. Hollywood always goes for the story not necessarily how events actually happen etc. They need good and bad guys/gals to make an interesting story for those who could care less about the subject.

Mark OC said...

$2 million!! Assuming everyone bought in for the minimum $200 fee, that means that 20,000 people have suckered for DeLonge's "Institute." I hope they get what they think they paid for!

And, yes, nsurround, Hollywood does need bad guys, and I'm sure that General Vandenberg will make an excellent foil for "Littlefinger" Hynek, even though, to my knowledge, the two men never met ;)

purrlgurrl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
purrlgurrl said...

Ufology and UFOs are pretty much over, at least for me. I don't give a damn about what DeLonge is selling and haven't paid any attention to him and his “whatever” scheme for months. It’s permanently off my radar.

Meanwhile, the older researchers just keep going in circles, flogging ancient cases that have been done to death so there's nothing new to add or that even have been outed as hoaxes (Socorro is poised to be the next big Ufology thing since Roswell’s fall from grace). Enough is enough.

Nope. I no longer hold a shred of belief the "UFO phenomenon" is a reflection of anything real. However, I do believe UFOs remain excellent material for fictional entertainment (TV, movies, books).

Just like with ghosts, though I truly and thoroughly enjoy a good and well-done ghost story, I don't believe in ghosts at all. So it is with UFOS. I'll be in the audience, and if it's well done, I'll enjoy it to the max and tell all my friends. But when I close the book or the end credits roll, my temporary suspension of disbelief in UFOs stops there.

Psst. Here's a secret. I keep checking your blog cuz I like your writing. I look forward to whatever you write next, even if it's not UFOs or science fiction.

Mark OC said...

Well, thank you for the nice compliment. I appreciate your support!

Bill Pilgrim said...


I understand your frustration and disillusionment. If you're American... you happen to live in a country in which the government handles the phenomenon with a paranoid, secretive, Cold War mentality...fearful of losing a modicum of control over the citizenry. I think they're afraid the UFO phenomenon threatens that.

If you lived in Peru, or Brazil, or Argentina, it would be a different dynamic. Those governments now have open and transparent programs that are citizen/government partnerships for reporting, recording and investigating UAPs.

In certain mountainous provinces in Argentina the UFO activity is so regular that local townsfolk have built viewing platforms for sitting on at night to watch the show.

How's your Spanish?

Mark OC said...

I wish I had seen some of that when I was in Argentina two years ago.

Bill Pilgrim said...


The towns are in rural Cordoba province. Were you there?

nsurround said...


As another person has commented about the on going frustrations of dealing with this phenomena, I completely understand. The golden age of Ufology as it were has come an gone. I would totally agree that the older past cases have been flogged to death with no resolution. Many of the Ufologist of the time are disappearing and in some cases replaced with groups that seem more interested in notoriety and selling stuff. Unfortunately MUFON comes to mind along with Tom Delonge's new enterprise. All things paranormal has also melded into the mix and muddied the waters. So called 'experiencers' are now cropping up all over the place with virtually no evidence other than themselves. The idea of 'Disclosure' at first seemed like a step forward however has now been crowded with 'disclosure wannabees' all shouting that 'they' will lead us to disclosure 'in time'. All this noise is drowning out the more serious efforts and some cases scientific efforts to unmask the identities of a real phenomena. I think this has lead to many person's originally interested in this enigma to become extremely suspicious that it is all 'fake news' and can be put in the category of nothing of importance. This is actually the public governments line. However I was reminded by my brother just a few days ago that the phenomena is real and ongoing. He had a significant sighting of a distinctive craft that he described as large as an aircraft carrier ,from his perspective. He was driving home going west towards the towns of Beaumont and Banning in Southern California when he saw this object highlighted against the full moon. It was jet black and somewhat shiny with a reddish glow around it. He was in a hilly region but saw the craft for about 30 sec and then it disappeared in a blink of an eye. Several other vehicles must have seen the same thing as they started driving erratically and almost off the roadway. I suggested he might have seen a blimp of some sort but he vehemently said it could not have been. My brother is not one to make up stories of this kind and I believe him that he saw something very unusual. There are a number of military bases throughout this area of the country and so could be some unknown military craft. But if that is the case it is certainly one that has not been publicly disclosed. However that is just one of a number of options for this sighting. I am just pointing out that just because there is a lot of noise out there, the phenomena(s)is still real. Its existence is based on historical and ongoing evidence. Its getting really hard to dispute otherwise no matter what it is.

purrlgurrl said...

Bill Pilgrim: My stance on UFOs now is there are an amazing number and variety of natural and man-made phenomena that are collectively claimed or believed to be ETs, even though there's not a shred of evidence that supports that conclusion.

Likely there are still unknown, undiscovered atmospheric phenomena as well as phenomena produced by exotic physics that account for some of the high strangeness cases.

But by and large UFOs sightings are the result of misidentifications, wishful or over-imaginative thinking, lack of knowledge and/or experience to make an accurate identification, transient physical states caused by underlying medical conditions or substance ingestion that affects perception and/or judgment, sleep deprivation, poor eyesight (something never considered or accounted for by Ufologists and believers), or outright lies and hoaxes perpetrated for as many reasons as there are perpetrators.

I no longer accept the US government is covering up anything because there's nothing to cover up, except gaps in the national air defense wall Americans have been led to believe is impenetrable. I now reject US defense industry propaganda about our invulnerable skies and suspect there's a percentage of historic and current US UFO sightings that are actually foreign military/intelligence overflights. That would be something the government would want to keep tightly buttoned up, ya' think?

Better for the government and military if we believe those are alien ships rather than have Americans figure out the gazillions of our tax dollars unquestionably poured into defense systems over the decades haven't made us as safe as we've been repeatedly assured we are.

Peace, love, and safe, happy holidays to you and yours, and Mark O'C and his family and friends.

Mark OC said...

Thanks, Purrlgurrl, for the holiday wishes. I wish you and yours the same.

And thanks all of you for this interesting discussion. As tempting as it sometimes is to walk away from the UFO scene, I always remind myself of some of the truly puzzling incidents I investigated while working for MUFON. For instance... I still can't account for the fact that in my own town in the summer of 2015 there were 4 virtually identical sightings over several weeks, all but one with multiple witnesses, all witnesses describing the very same cloud-shrouded orb moving in the same way in the same part of the sky. It could have been an elaborate hoax, or mass misidentification, but this local mini-flap has always intrigued me. There are several other cases in my files -- strangely, about 20% of the 150 or so cases I did for MUFON -- that still bother me. I still keep in touch with some of these witnesses in the hopes that someday I'll have the means to conduct more meaningful research, and they have no real reason to maintain contact with me other than the hope that I might be able to find an explanation or a corroborating witness... As Hynek once said, its cases like these that are "the spur" that drives us on.

Bill Pilgrim said...


Gosh, you sure have an impressive basketful of prosaic explanations for the phenomenon. Yet not one of them can account for the silvery, classic disk-shaped object that hovered over O'Hare International, below the cloud layer, for ten minutes in November 2006. Numerous cargo loaders, pilots, supervisors and tower employees watched the object hover before it shot straight up at bullet speed, drilling a hole through the cloud layer that allowed the sun to shine through.
...Or the mysterious glowing craft that caused a major airport in China to suspend flight operations for three hours while it hung around in restricted airspace, and was photographed from several different viewpoints in the surrounding area.
...You get my drift, as I get yours. I'll never cross the Rubicon. Nor, it appears, will you.
But, it's the holy day season. Best wishes to all and to all a good night.

purrlgurrl said...

Bill: Sorry, nope. I no longer hold a shred of belief in ET spaceships even though I saw something I still can't explain. Why can't I explain it? Because I don't have the appropriate background, experience, and/or knowledge base that would allow me to explain it. That it remains unidentified just means that I was and still am incapable of identifying it, not that it was absolutely unidentifiable (or extraterrestrial). And I believe this is the case for 999 out of 1000 UFO "cases".

For example: Imagine how someone who's never heard anything about, seen, or experienced a drone would describe or explain seeing one in flight to others who also have no experience or knowledge of drones? It would certainly seem to to all of them to have been an unidentified, magical, frightening, strange, or even alien object even though it was terrestrial and mundane (and no, I'm not suggesting every case is a drone, so please don't try to go there).

Nobody has absolute comprehensive knowledge of everything that exists on Earth (man made or in nature) that will allow them to positively identify anything they've never encountered before, even with the advent of the Internet. If you don't know what to call it or can't accurately describe it or what it really does how do you Google it to get the information?

I did mention that I also believe there are unknown or poorly understood atmospheric effects as well as effects from events caused by exotic physics that likely account for some cases (that 1 out of 1000 cases I mentioned before).

I'm all done with the ET hypothesis, however, even though I still greatly enjoy science fiction and Close Encounters remains among my favorite films. I've reached a point in life where I can and do separate imaginative fiction and wishful thinking from reality. And I don't believe developing my critical reasoning skills to the point where I reject the notion of alien spacecraft in our skies has made my life poorer for it.

You can continue to believe if you need to, if it makes you happy, if it validates some belief you have about the government or science or the world in general, or even if it reassures you in some way. But, I've moved on and for me there's no turning back.


nsurround said...


I understand the good points you have made. However I take the opinion that using the word 'belief' or 'believe' as far as the UFO subject goes leads us down a slippery slope. Believing that some UFO's are of extra terrestrial origin does not have to have a basis of proof or evidence as it's just a persons belief and not necessarily provable. But if someone makes a claim that some UFO's are of ET origin then they should be able to provide proof for that claim. As far as I am aware the source(s) for the UFO phenomena still have many options incl the ET one. If something is unknown but evidence suggests it exists then no matter what you believe you could be wrong as to its origin(s). That UFO's exist is really not questionable based on historical evidence. As to the origin(s), ET is still an option that has not been publicly proven or dis-proven. It is fine to move on as no one seems to have verifiable answers to this enigma one way or the other.

Bill Pilgrim said...


Agreed. Using the terms "belief" and "believe" implies some kind of mystical hope or faith, devoid of empirical data.
It's just simply an error and obfuscation to imply that decades of irrefutable observations by trained observers and witnesses, especially military, do not support the hypothesis that these flying objects might be of unearthly origin. There's not a shred of evidence that any government has developed the flight and anti-grav and instant invisibility technologies many of the UAPs have demonstrated for decades.

It's an ironic twist, but the skepti-bunkers can just as easily be called "true-believers" as the enthusiasts. A fanatical belief that every extraordinary phenomenon has an ordinary explanation is an ideology. "Scientific materialism" is as dogmatic and doctrinaire as any religion.

Mark OC said...


I'm intrigued by your "sighting." Acknowledging that any opinion you may have as to what it was you saw is pure speculation, do you feel that what you saw could have been some unknown aspect of nature?