High Strangeness: UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part III

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part III

Let's say you're doing research on a biography you're writing, and you come across an obscure published interview with the subject of your book. Let's say that, in that interview, the subject of your book states as fact something that takes you completely by surprise because it flies in the face of a story that has been told and repeated over and over again for decades.


What do you do? Do you use that newly-discovered quote in your book, because it sheds new light on your understanding of the subject of your biography, or do you ignore it, reinforce the conventional wisdom and preserve the status quo? Which would you do?

If you choose to ignore the newly-discovered quote, are you being fair to the subject of your book? Are you writing the best account of your subject's life and work that you possibly can?

On the other hand, if you choose to go with the newly-discovered quote, are you being unfair or accusatory in any way to the parties that have repeated the "old" narrative for decades? Are you guilty of insulting those parties if you use that new quote? Are you accusing those parties of being liars? After all, it's not you who uttered the quote; it's the subject of your book who said it. In a published interview. That has been around since 1978. If there's anybody for those parties to be mad at, isn't it the subject of your biography himself for saying the thing in the first place back in 1978 (or perhaps themselves for not protesting the quote when it was first published)?

That's what we've got here. As the researcher and author, you can't retract or apologize for something you didn't say. I doubt any writer or journalist would disagree with that.

Stay tuned: I have to run for now, but when I get back I'm going to post the original interview that started this whole thing...


Anonymous said...

Mark, given your questions above, wouldn't the most pertinent starting question be: in the movie, who is Lacombe most similar to -- Vallee or Poher?

I'd argue that -- aside from Lacombe being French -- his character could easily have been simply named "The Experienced UFO Investigator," and that the part as written would net out the same if it had been any nationality.

I don't recall (could be wrong) that Lacombe is even specifically identified as a scientist of any type in the movie... he could be a highly-placed French Govt. Official for all we know. Aside from knowing way more than the average bear and investigating the specific events in the movie, there's no indication what field of science he may be from. There's not much in Lacombe's actions that clearly link him to either Vallee or Poher (again, aside from being a UFO Investigator that happens to be French).

As far as Hynek's 1978 interview that mentions Poher, wouldn't there be a paper trail (letters, etc.) that would substantiate a solid ongoing link between Hynek and Poher? After all, we at least know that Vallee and Hynek spent years working very closely together in Evanston in the 60s -- there must be some distinct trail between Hynek and Poher that might shed light on why Hynek would cite him in that 1978 interview. An opposite possibility is that perhaps Hynek and Vallee had had some sort of falling-out by the time "Close Encounters" was released, and Hynek wasn't of a mind in that period to link Vallee to the Lacombe character...?

One thing Vallee openly discusses in his "Forbidden Science 1" volume (covering 1957-1969) is some irritation with Hynek giving "ambiguous and sometimes contradictory" statements about UFOs.... perhaps Hynek's 1978 citing of Poher falls into that category. It would just seem that if Poher was held that high in Hynek's esteem, there would be some concrete evidence of that stored in a box somewhere.

That, plus -- beyond what Hynek said or Jacques Vallee says, certainly Steven Spielberg and uncredited co-writer Jerry Belson would know what they were generally aiming for with the Lacombe character in the movie. It'd be worth a shot to ask Spielberg.

BTW-- loved your book; even handed out a few as holiday gifts! Thanks for doing such a great book on such a key figure in UFO history.

Bill Pilgrim said...


It's not easy today being 'Thor's hammer'...and it never was.

Dispelling conventional myths rarely wins Pulitzer prizes, or places one on the A list for the literary (or Ufology) cocktail and speaker circuit.

I support your methodology...because it maintains what Stan Friedman has always said: "Follow the evidence where it leads."

It's one thing to debate your conclusions...but they cannot dispute the documented evidence leading to them.
That's just creating "alternative facts.'

You have documented facts...while they have a constructed ideology.

Keep going!

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I do have a documented relationship between Hynek & Poher! Poher was the first chief of GEPAN, the French government's UFO research project. The two men interacted quite a bit, both as scientists and as UFO researchers, and Poher wrote a very touching memorial to Hynek in my book.

I appreciate the suggestion that on the day of the interview, Hynek was ticked off at Vallee for one thing or another! They were great friends, but they didn't always agree....

Anonymous, thanks for buying multiple copies of the book! That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

Mark -- yours is a great book; I had been wondering earlier last year how no one had come around to writing on Hynek, but you were on it! Beautifully written, too.

Ironically, I had just been re-reading "Forbidden Science 1" this week for the first time in ages, and had forgotten how just how early on and how closely Vallee was associated with Hynek. Vallee is very clear in that book on what he admired -- and didn't admire! -- about Hynek, so it wouldn't surprise me if one or the other was a little "ticked off" more than a decade later. Certainly those of us who grew up in the 1970s recognized Hynek and Vallee from books and TV appearances, so we certainly tended to associate Lacombe with Vallee when "Close Encounters" when it premiered in 1977.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Vallee's books are pretty great, aren't they? He's a wonderful writer.

Anonymous said...

Indeed he is!

Certainly he's due a lot of respect for his dogged commitment to cataloging those early French cases he got from Aime Michel, and for being a key mover/shaker between European cases and the USA-based work he did with Hynek. You know -- back in the day when people of that caliber actually went on field investigations!

Though very sobering to revisit his complaints about issues with UFOlogy even back in the 60s (sensationalist media, grandstanding attention seekers, gullible true believers, militantly hostile skeptics, etc.). In many ways little has changed decades later -- except maybe a few of those categories now involve more people than ever.