High Strangeness: February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mantis in Your Pantis

Why did I do it? Why, why, why? I could have just turned the TV off, or switched the channel. But no, I had to watch an episode and half of a dim-witted new cable TV UFO show, and my brain still hurts.

I guess it was educational, in a sense. Here's what I learned on this show last night:
  • If a UFO witness gives you a piece of strange metal that he claims to have shot off of a UFO in his driveway, and if you take that piece of strange metal to a "scientific lab" that looks like someone's house, and if the scientists at the "scientific lab" that looks like someone's house declare that the strange piece of metal did not come from anywhere on earth, what do you do? You give the piece of strange not-of-this-earth metal back to the UFO witness and you drive away. That's it.
  • If a UFO witness says he's been abducted, look amazed, but don't ask him for details.
  • When you use a Geiger counter to detect radioactivity in someone's yard under the point at which a UFO passed overhead, you can tell from the clicking of the Geiger counter which direction the UFO was going.
  • When you have four hosts of a show, chances are at least two of them are mostly useless for anything other than nodding gravely and saying, "Let's go check it out!"
  • When aliens invade your home, they leave behind a "sweat-like substance" on the walls that can be detected with an ultraviolet flashlight. Unless there's actually nothing on the walls, in which case you still get to show off your ultraviolet flashlight, so it's not a total loss.
  • When a witness describes an entity that was in his or her house, you immediately tell the witness that it was an "alien" or an "E.T."
  • When you hypnotize a UFO witness, you should only ask him or her things that you've already asked him or her before hypnotizing him. Or her. And, what the hell, why not ask only one question while you're at it?
    Can you spot the secret UFO base?
  • "Mantis" aliens are a thing now, and the Mantis aliens have a secret underwater base somewhere in Lake Michigan. This concerns me because I live close to Lake Michigan.
  • If you try to locate a secret Mantis alien base under Lake Michigan by randomly scuba diving in one spot out of the entire 22,300 square mile lake, you just wasted a perfectly good afternoon.
That's what I learned. I should have known something was fishy because this UFO program was being shown on Animal Planet, which is like The Puppy Bowl being shown on the Science Channel. I also should have known something was fishy because, after the scientists declared that the piece of strange metal was absolutely not from this earth, the narrator started to hedge a bit, saying it was "possibly not of this earth," and it "could be extraterrestrial." I also should have known something was fishy because one of the hosts of the show -- the ex-CIA operative with the Geiger counter, the ultraviolet flashlight, the hypnosis skills and the scuba gear -- is someone I heard give a talk at a UFO conference once, and whom I overheard telling someone the following: that his son is married to a human-alien hybrid, that she is on the run from alien greys who want her back, that she is hiding out somewhere in Mexico, and that his son is going crazy trying to find her before the aliens do.

The thing is, when I was watching the show last night, I swore to myself that I would not blog about it, because, well... it's just too easy. But here I am. I can't stand by and watch this kind of material being presented as serious, mainstream UFO investigation and not say anything. It's crap.

The really sad part about it is, there could have been something to these UFO reports, but the "investigations" were so biased, so shoddy, and so utterly harebrained that we'll never know...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

If I Held a UFO Conference - Part 2

Man, this is the last time I ask you people for suggestions.

I asked a simple question: what unique and interesting speakers would you invite to a hypothetical UFO conference? In response, you have bombarded me with names! Accounting for the several repeats that piled up, I'm looking at a list of 17 people who I now have to vet. Seventeen! As if that wasn't enough trouble, some of you aren't even sure if the people you suggested are alive! So guess who has to start sending out "Dear So-and-So, are you still alive?" emails. Do you realize how much work this is going to be??
This lady can attend my UFO conference free of charge.

On the plus side, the people you've suggested are, by and large, pretty interesting. There was only one name to which I reacted negatively: Nick Redfern. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but he's a little too Roswell-y for me and spends a bit too much time appearing on those cable channels I mentioned in my last post. Sorry, Nick, you're out.

Let's look at the rest of the list and see what each person has to offer, shall we?
  • Jack Brewer -- I like Jack's blog, The UFO Trail, a lot. He's in.
  • Peter Brooksmith -- Talking about UFOs with a British accent -- cool.
  • Thomas "Eddie" Bullard -- Anybody with a Ph.D. in folklore who lists the 1959 Father Gill incident as his top UFO case is "ok" with me.
  • Bill Chalker -- Has already contacted me with great comments for my Hynek book. He's a keeper.
  • Jerome Clark -- I would love to hear him recap his epic "UFO Encyclopedia" from A to Z.
  • Dr. Richard Haines -- Specializes in aerial encounters, a favorite topic of mine; he's in.
  • Micah Hanks -- I admit I'm iffy on this guy. Like Redfern, he seems a little too ready to lend his name to any old unexplained phenomenon that happens to materialize. I'll have to think about it.
  • Allan Hendry -- Getting the famous UFO recluse to break cover would be a major coup.
  • Paul Kimball -- I don't know much about this dude but he seems to be a bit under the radar so I'd give him a chance.
  • Ted Phillips -- Expert on CE2K physical traces; I bet he can give a spellbinding presentation! 
  • Kevin Randle -- How can I not like this guy? We've both been maligned by the same dark force in UFOlogy and lived to tell about it.
  • Jenny Randles -- She's like Kevin Randle in duplicate. She's in!
  • John Rimmer --Writes about 'How to take down a UFO organization.' Subversive enough to be the Grand High Guest Speaker of the whole damn conference!
  • Martin Shough -- Expert on radar cases, a Hynek favorite; I'd love to hear him speak.
  • Ronald Story -- May not be alive, but if he is, he's in, for no other reason than to celebrate the fact that he's still alive
  • Michael Swords -- He is so in.
Good list, I have to admit. And, despite my whining at the beginning of the post, I am actually really proud of you all for coming up with such intriguing, challenging suggestions.

I'm also proud of these additional suggestions for special guest appearances at the conference:
  • Dr. Steven Greer, encased in carbonite
  • Dr. Stanton Friedman, being interrogated about the Marjorie Fish star map
It goes without saying that if there is enough carbonite left over, Stanton Friedman will be encased when we're finished interrogating him.

Friday, February 21, 2014

If I Held a UFO Conference

Remember the great old Dr. Suess book, "If I Ran the Zoo"? I'm kind of in that mode today, but not thinking about running a zoo. At least, not that kind of zoo.
You just might find these two at my UFO Conference!

This question has been on my mind all day -- all week, in fact, but it didn't fully form in my head until today: What if I held a UFO Conference? Who would I book? Where would it take place? How would it contribute to UFO studies? How much booze would I have to buy?

I'll tell you why the question has come up. First of all, a young UFO research group is holding what seems to be its first ever UFO conference this spring, and boy I hope it's a huge success because they are promoting the heck out of it. I can't not think about APICON, because I get about a dozen tweets about it every day, which means their social marketing is smart, and it's working. In fact, they could take a day or two off (hint, hint).

But I kid. Putting on such an event is a monumental undertaking, and I admire the effort and commitment of anyone who can pull it off. Seriously, you should go to APICON, because what else is there to do in Miami in May?

Something else has come up to make me think about organizing a UFO conference. In looking over the stats for my blog today, I saw that one of my many posts concerning The Atacama Humanoid is the #1 viewed post at High Strangeness, not just today but all week! At first I thought it must be a glitch, but I double-checked and it's true. In fact, that particular post is the #2 all-time post on this blog, with a grand total of 1,900 views since I posted it about 10 months ago.

What is it with The Atacama Humanoid? It's weird, it's dumb, it's inauthentic, and it gives people reason to laugh at UFO researchers -- all UFO researchers. So, The Atacama Humanoid got me thinking today that that is exactly the kind of thing I would not want at my UFO conference. No mummified corpses! Unless they pay to get in, like everyone else.

Speaking of mummified corpses, I would also exclude any entity, human or otherwise, who took part in last year's Citizen Hearing on Disclosure. Because, almost a year later, look what they accomplished! Everything's changed!

Next on my exclusion list: anyone who hosts a UFO show on the following cable channels: Discovery, History, TLC, Animal Planet, SyFy, National Geographic, Science, Military, HGTV, Oxygen, HSN, VH1, Fox Business--did I leave anyone out? I know, these hosts are all super hot babes and studs and probably bring in big crowds, but as hosts of TV series about solving the UFO mystery, they all have a vested interest in never solving the UFO mystery, so their shows don't get cancelled. Not welcome. Unless they do a segment on my conference.

Here's who and what I do want there. The UFO Council of Elders -- Michael Swords, Robert Powell, et al -- who wrote the amazing "UFOs and Government," published in 2012 by Anomalist Books. It's an impressive epic, and has a lot to say about why we're not that much closer to understanding UFOs today than we were in 1947. Hardly a day goes by when I'm working on my Hynek book that I don't reach for this essential reference book. These guys would give a kick-ass presentation, and would pretty much rule the cocktail reception.

Among the contributors to "UFOs and Government," I would want the great Richard Thieme to give his talk on UFOS and spirituality, because it's such a unique, unexpected and thought-provoking take on the phenomenon. Also, Bob Powell could also give a very fun talk on how MUFON selects its top UFO sightings each year.

The staff at Dr. Hynek's Center for UFO Studies -- Mark Rodeghier, Mary Castner, Frank Reid and many more I haven't had the chance to meet yet -- would be essential. The sheer brainpower would be astounding.

I would love to get Dr. Jacques Vallee there, not just because he was such a close associate of Dr. Hynek's for so long (and often challenged Hynek's thinking for the better), but because he has made such valuable contributions to UFO research in his own right, including the brilliant concept of the "Messengers of Deception." Oh, and he developed a genius classification system for UFO sightings 30-some years ago that is still in use today! I am a big fan.

Who else? How about Doug Trumbull, the man who revolutionized movie special effects for 2001, Blade Runner and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and is now developing the UFOTOG system for capturing immaculate images of UFOs.

Speaking of Hynek associates, William Powers would have made a wonderful speaker, but he passed away last May. As one of the few people Hynek trusted to send out in his place to investigate UFO sightings for Project Blue Book, Bill could tell stories few people have ever heard. His tales of investigating the 1964 Lonnie Zamora CE3K are worth their weight in gold. It was a tremendous thrill to be able to interview this man for my book, and I wish more people could have met him. (A neat thing about Bill: he always insisted that we do our interviews over Skype, which I found tremendously endearing -- the human connection was everything to him).

What about you? Who -- or what -- would you want to hear speak at a UFO Conference? What would you do if YOU ran the zoo?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Silver Monkeys! or What Did Aunt Alene See?

Interesting comments on my post yesterday concerning the spooky Kelly-Hopkinsville "Little Green Men" incident have inspired me to write a little more about this case...

So I've got three main accounts from which to work: the Bud Ledwith report written the day after the incident; the Isabel Davis report, based in part on Ledwith's work but not published until 1978; and Dr. J. Allen Hynek's account in his book "The UFO Experience," based largely on the work of Davis and Ledwith, both of whom Hynek knew, respected and trusted.

Billy Ray Taylor was known to be a bit of a prankster...
Taken altogether, this gives me a pretty solid base from which to work, but there are some added twists... For one thing, although the Air Force tried to deny that it ever investigated the case, there are documents in the CUFOS files showing that four M.P.s from nearby Fort Campbell Air Force Base were on the scene at the Sutton farm the night of the incident, and that an officer from Fort Campbell was at the farm the following day, conducting -- you guessed it -- an investigation!

The game was given away by a reporter for the Hopkinsville New Era newspaper, who reported the day after the incident that "All sorts of investigations were going on today in connection with the bizarre story of how a space-ship carrying 12 to 15 little men landed in the Kelly community early last night and battled occupants of a farmhouse. Most official of the probes was reportedly being staged by the Air Force.”

Indeed, in a statement made two years after the incident, a Major John E. Albert reported that he was en route to Fort Campbell the morning after the incident when he heard news reports on the radio about the UFO event. Given permission by his commanding officer to investigate, Maj. Albert proceeded to the Sutton farm and started to poke around... His report is a jaw-dropper:
"Mrs. Glennie Lankford was an Impoverished widow woman who had  grown up in this small community Just outside of Hopkinsville, with very little education. She belonged to the Holy Roller Church and the night and evening of this occurrence, had gone to a religious meeting and she indicated that the members of the congregation and her two sons and their wives and some friends of her sons', wore also at this religious meeting and were worked up into a frenzy, becoming very emotionally unbalanced."
Maj. Albert then reported that Mrs. Lankford had a magazine article with a photo of  something that looked like a man but was really "a monkey, painted silver." He went on to postulate that either a) there was a circus in town that night and a silver-painted monkey escaped and terrorized the Suttons in their farmhouse, or b) the Suttons were "emotionally upset" by the religious meeting and that their "imaginations ran away with them" when they saw the picture of the monkey, and so naturally they imagined a monkey that looked like a man appearing at their windows all night... 

I kid you not.

But if Maj. Albert really thought the "little green man" was a monkey, it's hard to explain why Ledwith reported that an Air Force officer was at the Sutton farm the day after the incident, attempting to draw a composite image of the creature from the family's testimony... or why another Air Force officer denied vehemently in a later document that anyone from Fort Campbell was ever sent to the Sutton farm to look into the incident.

It's all very strange... and it gets even stranger when, in an Air Force Intelligence Class lecture from 1957, the Kelly-Hopkinsville case is paraded out as a prime example of a hoax "that takes so much time and effort, not to say unlimited patience," to address. After reading Maj. Albert's bizarre statement, though, you have to wonder who was wasting whose time...

There's another little mystery about the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident that I fear I will never be able to solve... When the 11 members of the Sutton family realized that their house was being approached by strange, glowing little men, it was, as you might expect, up to the menfolk to arm themselves and protect the family. Because of this, most of the story is reported from the POV of the men, who did all the door guarding and alien-plugging that night. 

But there's a forgotten little moment that really intrigues me... For the longest time, Miss Glennie Lankford, the matriarch, refused to believe her son that there were little creatures outside the house. But then, she said, she knew something was wrong when "Alene came back in the house terrified, white, nervously shaking, saying that she had seen one of the little men. She was terribly upset, and remained that way for days..." 

Alene, wife of one of Miss Glennie's sons, would have to have been in the kitchen, the door to which was the only entrance to the house left unguarded. At some point, her curiosity must have gotten the best of her, and she stepped outside to see what her husband was shooting at... And she saw one of them.

Tragically, Ledwith doesn't seem to have thought to interview Alene, and although Davis met Alene and had a chance to ask her "one or two" questions, she doesn't seem to have asked about this moment in the story. So, we'll never know what Alene saw or what happened to her. All we know about Alene's experience that night is that a few minutes later, when one of the men, Billy Ray, stepped out on the porch to look around and an alien reached down from the roof above and tried to grab Billy Ray's hair, it was Alene who pushed her way out the screen door and pulled Billy Ray back inside to safety... See, she knew what was reaching for Billy Ray's hair, because she had seen it herself...

When I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucky Sutton's daughter Geraldine recently, I asked her if her Aunt Alene had ever told her story of what happened to her outside the kitchen door that night... Geraldine said that she never knew her Aunt to talk about it, and that Alene had passed many years ago.


Monday, February 17, 2014

UFO Truth

Just spent a snow day working on my Hynek book, and today's pages were real challenges.

I'm still in the midst of recreating the famous 1955 Kelly-Hopkinsville "Little Men" encounter, in which a family of 11 found themselves trapped in their Kentucky farmhouse by one or more little men with huge heads, shiny silver bodies and glowing yellow eyes. The fact that the episode lasted almost an entire night and involved many characters and entailed as may as six separate encounters with the strange little men means that it's an extremely complicated tale... The fact that the 11 members of the Sutton family were so scared out of their wits that they couldn't always reconstruct the sequence of events with complete certainty doesn't help.

But, for the most part, those who were there and those who investigated the case found the Suttons' testimony convincing, and no one has been able to explain what happened.

The case has been written up by many writers and researchers over the years, but only two UFO researchers ever actually interviewed the witnesses. Both Andrew "Bud" Ledwith III and Isabel Davis were amateur UFO investigators who took the initiative to study the case and preserve the testimony of the witnesses on their own time and on their own dimes. They both wrote up very detailed reports on their experiences with the Suttons, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek used their accounts on which to base his own study of the case (sadly, Project Blue Book never investigated the case, although four M.P.s from a nearby Army base were on the scene the night of the incident).
These were actually drawn by Bud Ledwith himself, based on the descriptions given by the Sutton family.
Here's my challenge: Bud Ledwith interviewed the Suttons within hours of the incident, when they were still in shock, but his report focuses more on the visual appearance of the little men than on the actual sequence of events. Isabel Davis didn't interview the Suttons until a year later, when they were much less willing to speak about the experience, but her account of the sequence of events is much more complete and detailed than Ledwith's.

Davis' report, published in 1978 by Hynek's own Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), used Ledwith's report as its basis. Ledwith had, in fact, given his interview notes to Davis. But as I try to recreate the sequence of events, I have to continually compare Ledwith's account with Davis', because Ledwith's narrative is very short: UFO is sighted; alien appears at door; shots are fired; alien does a 'flip' and runs away; alien tries to grab a man's hair from the porch roof; men shoot at two aliens on the roof and in a tree; aliens continue to approach the house for the remainder of the night. Davis' narrative includes all those beats and a few more, including a chilling moment when the family hears a scraping sound on the tin roof over the kitchen, and they run outside to see one of the creatures crawling across the roof.

The big discrepancy, however, concerns the first sightings. In Ledwith's account, the family first saw the creature through a screen door, but in Davis' account two of the men first saw the creature approaching while they were out in the yard. In Davis' account there is a subsequent sighting through the screen door and then through a window. Ledwith's account leaves this out.

Maybe it's not such a big deal in the end. Both Ledwith and Davis interviewed the witnesses, after all, so it's not as though I can consider either account more valid than the other. What I decided in the end was that, since Hynek used Davis' fuller account on which to base his analysis of the case, and since Davis' account used Ledwith's account as its own basis, I would go with Davis' account.

And that's how it's done.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Truckers, Ghosts and UFOs

Last night I was browsing the Paranormal section in a bookstore, as I am wont to do, and made an interesting find. I was paging through the bibliography of a UFO book (whose title and author, alas, I cannot remember), and I found a list of online UFO resources. I always get hopped up when I see a list like this, because I just take it for granted that the author is more obsessive than me and has done a far better job that I ever could have finding useful resources, therefore I will undoubtedly find something of value.

Well, it didn't take me long to find it. It practically jumped off the paper and into my optic nerve: "T.U.F.O.R.C.: The Truckers UFO Reporting Center." Holy shit, how could I be so lucky??

Truckers and UFOs: They just go together.
I knew right away that this would be a bonanza of UFO material, and I'm not being facetious. I worked as a journalist covering the trucking industry for nine years, and I know these folks. They spend a lot of time out on the road at night, and they are prone to seeing things out there that the rest of us never see.

You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I looked up www.tuforc.com and found this...
 T.U.F.O.R.C. It is with great regret that the TUFORC website has been deactivated. The wesite did not yeilded any useful information or sighting reports of any value.
Damn. Now we'll never know... Oh well, at least they're honest.

In other news, my email inbox is jammed with UFO news. Ever since I joined the MUFON State Directors forum on Facebook I've been getting several updates a day, and sometime they can get a bit overwhelming. Here's a list of what's come in over the past few days:
  • Second California witness reports orb UFO chased by military
  • Arizona UFO underbelly light formation described as size of 'two-car garage'
  • Announcement of a new reality TV UFO show called "Hangar 1: The UFO Files," premiering later this month on the History Channel
  • A couple of rants about alleged UFO hoaxster Stan Romanek
  • Мир атаковали пасхальные НЛО (Russian UFO News)
  • A bunch of links to conspiracy theory YouTube videos about Disclosure
  • South Carolina family pulls off roadway to watch hovering triangle UFO
  • A list of MUFON's UFO sighting statistics from January
All moderately interesting, but, as with most UFO news there is little or no filtering going on, so you have to pretty selective about what you're going to spend your time reading. That's why this post captured my interest the other day:

"A while back there was an inquiry about cases that might involve the 'Paranormal.' I would submit Case No. XXXXX. It starts off with the witness on a ship at an unknown location and it somehow includes ghosts, reptilians, etc..."

Wow, how could I not follow up on that? I logged onto the MUFON CMS as fast as I could and read the witness' report. It did not disappoint:
"...one day I finished work and came home and when I walked in my room I saw a Ghost he was an foreigner and spoke to me in a different tounge so that was strange I was really confused because he just sat in the window and looked out and talked...but hours later he kinda drifted on the floor to me then I felt pain in my foot... then two more showed up that night I would leave my room but all three of them would follow me it was weird to watch then like wave across the carpet and every where I went they started in on my feet....sucked...That night I gave up and went into my room and for them it was on I watched as the forms of the ghosts turned into a reptilian form and also witnessed a ghost dog on the floor just siting around...later that night The world I knew was broken as I lay there in my bed being poked and what not a small white Alien came out of the bathroom I felt like I had complete control over my own actions such as I kept my eyes semi closed because each time I would open completely this alien would hiss at me.....as time went on maybe five minutes it came totally out of the corner and was fully in front of me and motioned for me to put this glass looking device in my mouth so I opened and then I heard a loud engine noise come to my 11th story window and the window opened and and strange humming started and every being in the room was sucked out I watched as each one even the ones in the drains where carried thru the air into the ???ship??? Now the furniture moved around and a black hole opened up ad two military members came out and placed a device in the center of the room in the air and it stayed in the air the they left and A series of lazers scaned the room which I thought was awesome..."
Well, sure, the part with the lasers scanning your bedroom is always awesome, right? There was something truly fascinating about the disjointed story, so I read on:
"I have seen many different alien in my life some with big triangle heads some with strange heads I have seen many ufos I have learned how to adapt to the fact that I am not alone ...really none of us are its makes me smile to tell this story because I have been diganiosed with paranoid schophrina because aliens are not real/....LOL..and I am bat @#$% crazy right"
I found this troublesome, to say the least. If this witness has, in fact, been diagnosed with what I assume he or she meant to describe as "Paranoid Schizophrenia" -- and how could anyone really doubt it? -- then none of this testimony should be considered valid in terms of UFO investigation, and I don't think we should be bandying it about as some sort of model case of "UFOs & the Paranormal."

After waiting a few days to see if anyone else would address this, I finally posted the following comment:
"I am puzzled. The witness says that he's been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Shouldn't that case automatically be classified 'Information Only'?"
I only received one response, and I'm happy to say it was a sane one:
"If I were the SD of that State......I wouldn't spend much time on it at all"
Amen to that, brother. Amen to that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ninnies and Twits

Nothing can brighten a blogger's day like positive reader comments, and in the past 24 hours I've gotten two that have really got me smiling.

One reader commented on my recent sense of discouragement concerning UFO research and writing, and very kindly told me this:
"Don't let the ninnies and twits get you down. BTW, I think a J. Allen Hynek biopic has been a long time coming."
I really appreciate that, Anonymous, and I am happy to say that I am in talks with a film producer to develop the Hynek book into a film or TV property. I'll let you know how that develops.

There was also a surprise comment from a second reader who had information on the great alien illustrator Anthony Ranfone, the man responsible for a memorable drawing of the Pascagoula, MS aliens from 1973. A while back a reader had identified Mr. Ranfone as the artist who created the U.S. Department of Energy's "Energy Ant" character, and said that Ranfone had an interest in the U.S. Air Force's "Project Blue Book" UFO program.

Now another reader adds more detail to the picture:
"I knew Anthony Ranfone when we worked together at what is now the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington DC. I commissioned him to do a painting of 'Light Heart', the cluster of 10 large helium balloons assembled by Col. Thomas L. Gatch Jr. for a stratospheric trans-Atlantic balloon attempt. Tony did a fabulous job on this, and the original oil painting remains one of my treasures, since I was Gatch's publicist, and he disappeared on that flight ... some say in the Bermuda Triangle. I don't know where Tony is today."
Col. Thomas Gatch and the "Light Heart." Victims of the Triangle?
I knew nothing about Col. Gatch and his 1974 attempted flight across the Atlantic in a high-tech balloon christened "Light Heart," but I'm glad I do now because it's a ripping yarn that ends in profound tragedy and mystery. Mr. Ranfone's connection to the story would be interesting enough on its own, but the Bermuda Triangle tie-in puts it over the top.

And what makes it even more fascinating is the report in a Florida newspaper that U.S. National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration, in response to what must have been relentless public outcry, just this week issued the findings of a bombshell study showing that there is nothing supernatural going on in the Bermuda Triangle! 

What should I make of this unnerving example of synchronicity? Why would news of The Bermuda Triangle cross my desk twice in the past 24 hours?

Look at the clues: art; aliens; the Bermuda Triangle; the Pascagoula abduction case; Anthony Ranfone; Light Heart; Energy Ant; ninnies & twits... It all must mean something, but what??

Monday, February 10, 2014

Incident X

A UFO writer I respect a lot has asked me for input on her massive book, and our dialog over the last week has given me pause to reflect on the state of UFO writing and research. Yup, I'm going to get philosophical!

The writer in question is one of the guardians of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) here in Chicago. She has graciously welcomed me into her home on many occasions to root through the CUFOS case files, and she always has a good story to tell about some UFO personality or another. She also is the most meticulous and driven researcher I've ever met. She is writing an epic tome about the famous Rex Heflin UFO photos taken in 1965. The sequence of photos seem to show a hat-shaped flying saucer zooming around alongside a highway in California. I have been familiar with these photos ever since I picked up my first UFO book as a young boy, and as a young boy they amazed me (Silly as it sounds, part of the amazement for me was the recognition that the photos were taken from the cab of a 1965-era Ford Econoline van, which was our family car at the time... you can laugh but it gave me a goofy kind of personal connection to the photos).
Submitted for your approval: one of the famous Rex Helfin photos.
The Heflin photos amazed a lot of other people, too, it turns out, and they have been studied and analyzed many times over the years by some very sharp people. Needless to say, some investigators over the years have found the photos authentic, some have not. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but my friend has picked apart what I am guessing is every last scrap of investigative work ever done on the Heflin photos and has come up with her own unique analysis the case.

Like I said, her work is amazing. After thoroughly dissecting previous analyses of the photos, she starts at square one and conducts her own analysis... The scope of her research is astonishing, the way she builds her case is impressive and her conclusions are fascinating.

I am happy to say that she did not ask me for editorial advice, because, to be honest, I would have felt thoroughly unqualified to comment on a case about which I know so little and she knows so much. No, instead she asked for advice on the presentation of the information, the organization of the contents, ways to grab the reader's attention right away... After years of writing white papers and grant proposals and case studies in the professional world, I feel I know a thing or two about organizing and presenting complicated information in an engaging and convincing way, so I gave her some ideas and she seemed appreciative.

Not a very dramatic story, I know. I merely present it as an illustration of the very best in UFO scholarship. Seriously, this book should be in the reference section of your local library, and when it is released I will make sure you all know about it and have a chance to get a copy.

The reason I've been thinking about this is that, by a strange coincidence, my friend's request for editorial advice comes just after an episode last week when another UFO writer offered me unsolicited editorial advice on my Hynek book, and you couldn't draw a more stark contrast between the way things should be done in the world of UFO research and literature, and the way things shouldn't be done.

The person who offered me unsolicited advice asserted that if Individual A is interested in finding out about Alleged Incident X, that proves that Individual A believed that Alleged Incident X really happened. Not true. All it proves is that Individual A was curious to know about Alleged Incident X, no more, no less. Why would I take journalism advice from this person? Because what this person is really saying is that Individual A had formed an opinion -- perhaps even reached a conclusion -- before investigating all the facts, and that is something that Individual A would never have done!

Which brings me to a thought about my own research. Progress on my book has slowed in the last two months for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is the fact that wonderful new research material keeps coming my way. And every time it happens, I find I need to go back over what I've written so far to see if the new material affects the narrative at all. And if it does, it's rewrite time!

Sometimes the new material brings what I've written already into sharper focus, but sometimes it creates new ambiguity and forces me to take another look at some matter I thought I had long since settled. In either case, I love it, because it only makes the narrative stronger.

So there's my philosophy for you. I love working in this field, and writing the Hynek book is one of the most wonderful opportunities ever to have come my way. But the world of UFOs is not always congenial or welcoming; things can get prickly and unpleasant at the drop of a hat-shaped UFO. My mission from here on out is to only spend my time and energy on people who are great to work with, who do great work themselves, and who treat the world of UFOs as the big, wonderful playground that it is.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

UFO Cover-Up!

The other day I learned something very amazing: I am a pawn in a Roswell cover-up! I'm not sure if that means I've done something terribly wrong, or I've done something terribly right, but either way I think it's pretty cool, and I intend to make the most of it.

The way I found out about was kind of weird. In my last post I mentioned that I had gotten an unpleasant email from a reader who didn't like my comments concerning Roswell. I had said that I wasn't going to refer to the Roswell incident in my book about Dr. J. Allen Hynek because Hynek had never found "crashed saucer" stories very credible, but the writer threw some information at me that he felt not only proved me wrong but proved that I was a gullible fool, and then closed with this friendly advice:
"A note of caution to the journalist; Don't believe everything you want to believe or what they want you to believe."
I wrote back the following:
"I don't recall asking you for journalism advice, but since you've given it, please explain to me: who is this "they" you refer to, and what is it that "they" want me to believe? Are you suggesting that I'm being used as a pawn in a Roswell cover-up? Because that would be cool."
It happens all the time.
I figured I pretty much had this person there. You can't just go around saying things about "they" and not expect someone to call you on it, right? At the most basic level this person is accusing me of being a shoddy, lazy journalist, which does not please me, but beyond that there's also a very clear statement that there's a "they" out there that are using me to further some nefarious agenda. It's fair game for me to a) ask the person to back it up, and b) make fun of them.

So this person wrote a very snotty letter back to me, most of which doesn't bear repeating, except for this gem:
"If you have been soured on Roswell then you certainly know who 'they' are."
Again with the "they!" And again with the assumptions: the writer doesn't say that I have soured on Roswell, but that I have "been soured on" Roswell. Why does this person think that some third party "they" has soured me on Roswell, and is, indeed, telling me what to write in my book? Maybe that's how this person writes books, but not me.

Anyway, the inescapable conclusion is that this person believes that there are forces in the UFO world that are trying to silence the Roswell believers, and "they" are influencing me to take out any Roswell references in my Hynek book to further their goals of making us all forget the "truth" about Roswell.

All I can say is that if there is a "they" manipulating me to "sour" on Roswell, "they" could have saved "them"selves a lot of trouble, because the souring had already taken place. Still, having said that, if "they" do want to manipulate me, I wish "they" would just get in touch with me so we can coordinate our efforts. Because, the bottom line is this: any "they" who can bother this person who's been sending me these nasty emails as much as "they" do is a "they" I want to get to know!