High Strangeness: February 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Our UFO Dad

Who are the UFO leaders of tomorrow? I've been wondering about that for a while, and it's been a tough question to answer. It seems so many UFO conversations always get hijacked or derailed by showboats who make big, splashy promises but never deliver, or by "UFO experts" who have been been around for decades telling the same stories over and over again without ever having anything new to add, or by UFO conventions touting the same old ideas and speaker lineups year after year, or -- dare I say it? -- by the charlatans and hucksters who know they can make motherships full of money by misleading the UFO faithful.

Many, I'm sure, will disagree with me, but when I look around at, say, the speakers list for the just-ended 2018 International UFO Congress, it's hard for me to feel that the field of UFOlogy is progressing or maturing in any way. UFOlogy just seems to be a closed loop, and it bums me out. I've tried to add to the conversation with my book The Close Encounters Man, and I think I've made a moderate dent, but, boy, there's a long way to go.
Is UFOlogy stuck in the past, or in the future?

That used to make me feel pretty discouraged, but, I have to say, my attitude has been changing over the last couple days. That's because over the last couple days I've been focusing my attention on some new voices in UFOlogy that have made me feel pretty positive about the future.

First, I got into a fun conversation online with Ryan Sprague, host of the dynamic Somewhere in the Skies podcast. I had been intrigued by Ryan's interview with MUFON's new Director of Research, Chris Cogswell (who seems to have some great energy of his own), and we got to talking. Ryan brought up an idea he's had that at first glance seemed maybe a little bit crazy, but the more he talked about it and the more I sensed his energy and enthusiasm, the more I liked it!

Later that same day, I spent an hour or so on skype with history Professor Greg Eghigian, who is at work on his own epic book about the history of UFOs and comes to the field with unbridled curiosity and a Hynek-like determination to follow the facts wherever they may lead. Greg, too, is working on an interesting new project, and his energy is infectious.

Then last night (aka, this morning) I had the rare pleasure of listening to a bunch of really smart, funny guys discuss my book on the Our Strange Skies podcast, and I started feeling more optimistic than ever. These guys -- Robert "Panic" Kristoffersen, Sam Frederickson, Brian Hastie and Angelo Fiorentino -- are pure fun to listen to. They know a LOT about UFOs, but more than knowing, they do a lot of THINKING about UFOs in a lot of interesting and refreshing ways. Their approach to UFO culture, UFO folklore, and UFO research was so sharp, and witty, and insightful, and original that I swear I felt a disturbance in the field of UFOlogy. The good kind of disturbance, like a fault line has just opened up and all the bad old UFOlogy stuff is going to fall in and nobody's going to try to save it. I liked that feeling a lot.

What made it even more interesting was that they mixed their modern UFO sensibilities with a deep appreciation for the work of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and that goes way way back into ancient UFO history. And yet Dr. Hynek's legacy is very much alive with these guys, to the point that at least one of them kept referring to Hynek as "my UFO Dad."

I like that. I'd like to think that Dr. Hynek is UFO Dad to all of us. And if he's UFO Dad, then he's raised some UFO Kids that he can be awfully proud of.



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Calling BS on the UFO Alloys

Are "The Alloys" the newest UFO "Smoking Guns"?

You know about The Alloys, right? The Alloys are supposed hard evidence that UFOs are physical objects. They were allegedly acquired in some manner by the Pentagon's formerly classified "Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program," or "AATIP." The Alloys also carry on in the hallowed tradition of UFO "Smoking Guns" such as the Atacama Humanoid, the Alien Autopsy video and the Roswell Slides, all of which fizzled and died without proving anything.

AATIP is said to have been in business between 2007 and 2012, during which it was funded by us, the American taxpayers, to the tune of $22 million. The Alloys allegedly in AATIP's possession are said to be housed in a specially-modified Nevada warehouse owned by bazillionaire UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow. We learned this at the same time we learned that Navy pilots had recently supposedly encountered a Tic-Tac-shaped UFO out over the Pacific Ocean.
Luiz Elizondo: targeted by assassins, or just likes to sit near walls?

That was over two months ago, and despite erstwhile AATIP chief Luiz Elizondo and the pilot who claimed to have had the aerial encounter with the UFO both granting interview after interview to anyone willing to sit down with them, very little information of any importance has been revealed since the original press release. Unless you count the claim that unearthly Alloys are being stored in Nevada as important information. Clearly, some people do, but I don't.

I have a lot of reasons for maintaining my skepticism here, but I was reminded of one of my favorites today as I was reading the latest Alloy news, and consequently reviewing the last two months of news on this topic. In a December 20 story by Ralph Blumenthal in the NY Times' Times Insider entitled, "On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon U.F.O. Program." In the 7th paragraph, Blumenthal describes a time when he and two of his colleagues met up with former AATIP chief Elizondo to discuss AATIP and The Alloys, and he describes Elizondo this way:

"On Nov. 17th, we three met Mr. Elizondo in a nondescript Washington hotel where he sat with his back to the wall, keeping an eye on the door."

What's the first thing you think of when you read that? Do you think, "Oh, gosh, Elizondo is really worried. His life must be in danger!" Well, guess what, chump? That's what you're supposed to think. As for me, I think it's pretty unremarkable that the first person to show up for a meeting in a public place would position himself where he can see the people he's meeting up with when they enter. I mean, wouldn't it have been kind of stupid for Elizondo to have sat facing the wall, with his back to the door? In other words, there are reasons to sit with your back to the wall, keeping an eye on the door that don't involve being afraid that some assassin is going to take you out. And yet Blumenthal chose to create this evocative Jason Bourne-esque image of Elizondo... Why?

Also: they met Elizondo at a "nondescript Washington hotel." What does this detail matter? Am I reading a John LeCarre spy novel? Would it have mattered if they had met at a "descript" Washington hotel?

Think I'm blowing this out of proportion? Remember, Mr. Blumenthal is a reporter for the New York fucking Times. He didn't get that job by being a sloppy writer. He got that job because he is an expert at using words to convey specific information. He described Elizondo and the hotel that way because he wanted to create an impression in readers' minds that Elizondo's safety was in question, because Elizondo was in possession of very sensitive and dangerous information that he was about to share with Blumenthal.

I've said from the start that this whole story seems very carefully scripted and managed, and Blumenthal's article just screams propaganda. God knows what the point is. It beggars belief that even in 2018 government intelligence agencies are still trying to fuck with the public's perceptions of UFOs, but I guess anything is possible.

And, I have to admit, it seems to be working!

Friday, February 16, 2018

High UFO Hopes


I’ve been guilty of neglecting my blog for the past few months, and I feel bad about it. There are a couple reasons for my neglect, the most immediate one being that I went through a period of fairly serious burnout on UFOs after my book The Close Encounters Man came out. After five-plus years of total immersion in UFO arcana and the life and times of J. Allen Hynek, I’ve felt the need to get away from it all, so I have!


At least, I’ve tried. The goofy New York Times story in early December about the alleged 2007-2012 Secret Pentagon UFO Study made it pretty difficult to keep UFOs at arm’s length. And the fact that absolutely nothing positive has come of that “bombshell” news and that every day that the To The Stars Academy fails to follow up their bombastic PR with any substance of any kind has, from my perspective, cast a pall over UFOlogy that it really didn’t need.


These days I’m neglecting the blog for a fairly positive reason, however. I’ve been developing a new media project based on some of the material in my book (and some of the material that I just wasn’t able to fit into my book). Five years of research into the UFO field, combined with five years of investigating UFO sightings for MUFON, has a way of filling up a lot of filing cabinets and a lot of thumb drives, and I find myself awash in amazing, astonishing and entertaining – and sometimes downright creepy -- UFO stories that deserve to be told.


Whenever I spend any amount of time going through my old files and revisiting some of my experiences in this field, I am struck by the sheer weight of the material. Strange things have been seen by so many people -- so many things that have startled and terrified and changed the lives of witnesses, left them struggling to find ways to communicate their experiences and their resulting inner tumult, because we just don’t the right kinds of words in our terrestrial vocabularies -- that I just can’t let these stories sit there, untold. It would be criminal.


But how to tell them? That is the question.


I can’t share any details about this project, at least not yet, and it will likely take many months to unfold. All I can tell you for now is that I’m having a blast developing this, and that if it succeeds it may change the way the public looks at UFOs and the people who claim to have seen them. As usual, I have pretty high hopes.


Speaking of weird, creepy UFO encounters, I’ve recently found that I may have been very wrong about a certain creepy UFO story. Fortunately, it’s not a story that I wrote up in my book, but it did come up more than once when I was doing publicity interviews. A couple people asked me what I thought of J. Allen Hynek’s involvement in “The Bennewitz Affair,” which, I admit, threw me for a loop. I wasn’t very familiar with it the first time it came up, so I didn’t feel I could give an informed answer, but I read up on it, and when the question came up again, I was able to give what I thought was a fairly solid reply.


For those of you not aware, Paul Bennewitz lived near some US military bases in New Mexico the 1980s. He reported seeing strange aerial craft in the skies near the bases, then claimed that he was intercepting electronic messages emanating from spaceships. At one point, the story goes, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (my hero) said that he was enlisted to deliver a bogus alien signal receptor to Bennewitz, as part of a government operation to discredit the man.


While aspects of this tale seem strikingly believable, I didn’t buy the part about Hynek’s involvement, for the following reasons:
  • There didn't seem to be much need to discredit Bennewitz, a man who was already regarded as somewhat balmy 
  • I had never found any indication that Hynek was still working for the government in the early 1980s
  • It seemed very much out of character for Hynek to take part in such a cruel enterprise
Well, a UFO researcher who I admire and respect a great deal recently told me that the Bennewitz affair was a "lingering shadow" in Hynek's career, and that it needs to be "re-examined."


Maybe I'm the one to do the re-examination...


Stay tuned!




Sunday, February 4, 2018

UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part V

Ok, I've just solved a mystery that's been puzzling me for the past eight days. First, reader Tim pointed out that a recent comment by Dr. Jacques Vallee had been deleted from this blog, then Dr. Vallee informed me that two of his comments were deleted, and then when I went to check just now I found that there were actually three comments from Dr. Vallee that had gone into hiding.
No, I do not make bad comments disappear into the cornfield!

I do not delete comments; never have, never will. The suggestion that I might be making reader comments disappear into the cornfield (there's a little Twilight Zone reference for you) has been of great concern. As I am the administrator of this blog, it makes sense that I would be able to delete reader comments (while also allowing readers to delete their own comments, of course), but I hadn't deleted anything.

So I finally had a chance to look into it this morning, and guess what? The comments weren't deleted. Blogger put three comments by Dr. Vallee dated January 23, 2018 into my spam box. That's eight days ago. Apparently they have been sitting there in my spam box for eight days, which means I would have had ample time to delete them if I had wanted to, but I didn't, because I don't do that kind of thing.

I have no idea what it could have been about these three comments that would flag them as spam. This has never happened before on High Strangeness to the best of my knowledge, but I think we've all learned something here today...

So... I have "unspammed" Dr. Vallee's comments and they are there for all to see, but if you're too lazy to go looking for them, I will paste them here. Enjoy!



In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my book Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965) when he was a young cinematographer and that he had been intrigued by the character of a Frenchman investigating UFOs in the US, as I did. To now on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II


Hi Tom, Thanks for pointing out that my comment was deleted by some technical glitch. I obviously have a primary right to comment on this issue, so I am posting it again: "In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. "As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. "Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II



I don't understand why my prior entries were deleted. I am re-posting this comment to Mark O’Connell: ============== "In an email to Mark on 22 December 2017 I reminded him that Allen Hynek (who once honestly thought the character was based on Poher, as he told me himself) had not been aware of many developments that occurred during the filming of Close Encounters and of the way characters evolved. "As Mark correctly points out, "Lacombe" was initially an American. Steven Spielberg clarified the issue in person during one of our meetings in Hollywood at a lunch with Marcia Seligson, who reported on it in a 1977 article ("Not Alone" in New West, 7 Nov. 1977) that I submitted to Mark, so I am surprised the misunderstanding continues. I can post that article again if that can help clarify the issue further. "Not only did Steven Spielberg tell Marcia and me that the character was based on me, but he added that he had read my book Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965) when he was a young on UFO Secrets in Rubbermaid Bins -- Part II

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Finally, a UFO Koozie That I Can Get Behind!

As always, there are a million things we can talk about in UFO world, and lately I've barely had time or energy to keep up with current UFO affairs here at High Strangeness. That's why it was so reassuring to be reminded yesterday that UFOlogy is in good hands, and that good work continues to be done by dedicated researchers.

I got this important reminder by way of an email from serious UFO research group "To The Stars Academy" with this killer subject line:


😎Keep It Cool With a Free Koozie😎

I know what you're thinking: Too Good To Be True!

I thought the same thing at first. How can they afford to give away Koozie promotional products? But it IS true! Free Koozies for everyone!!

How can you not get excited about a free Koozie promotional product? Koozies are cheap, they keep your beer relatively cool for 2 or 3 minutes, and just look at the groovy UFO-themed designs available:

Can a simple Koozie do what decades of research has failed to do?
And all you have to do is purchase a To The Stars Academy t-shirt, book, lapel pin or guitar strap. And you can feel good knowing that your money is going to strengthen UFO research.

It is, isn't it?