High Strangeness: If I Held a UFO Conference

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?


Dr. Ambiguous X. Devoid said...

Just make sure, in any hypothetical conference you might ever convene, that Steven Greer is not invited, unless you can first encase him in carbonite, convert that into a coffee table, and then serve mai-tai's upon it, for a judiciously appropriate serving bar and centerpiece display.

Invite the living alien equivalent of Jabba the Hut, along with Princess Leia, and your attendance would literally skyrocket! ;-)



Mark UFO'Connell said...

Hahaha, excellent suggestion! This is going to put all other UFO conferences to shame!

Anonymous said...

Allan Hendry

Martin Shough

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I confess I had to look up Martin Shough, but he looks like an interesting character to read up on. Hendry would be a fantastic speaker; I'm still hoping to talk to him for my book, but the person who promised to put me in touch with him has proven to be, uh... "unreliable."

Anonymous said...

Jacques Vallee

Peter Sturrock

Martin Shough

Isaac Koi

Kevin Randle

Keith Thompson

Anonymous said...

Kevin Randall has a great blog.


Mark UFO'Connell said...

Hmmm.... all great suggestions. I might have to make this a three-day conference.

Rococo Beamship said...

I was going to suggest a certain author who has written and said some interesting things over the years. Hadn't been to his site in quite a while, and I wanted to make sure I got his name spelled right, so I googled him. Oh my! He's gone off the deep end. Full on reactionary Git-Off-My-Lawn batshit crazy.


How about Bill Chalker? He seems pretty darn sensible, and he has a lot of interesting cases to discuss. Air fair from Australia is pretty scary though...

Rococo Beamship said...

Air fare. D'oh!

I like that carbonite coffee table idea. That's the only way I'd let that doofus anywhere near my zoo.

Anonymous said...

Even if you don't like Steven Greer, you must admit that some of the testimony he has collected is quite impressive.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I like the Bill Chalker idea! Bill happened across my blog some time ago and contacted me out of the blue with some great comments about Hynek's 1973 trip to Australia and New Guinea.

As for Steven Greer, I'm not sure what "testimony" I should be looking at?

Anonymous said...


Terry the Censor said...

As a hypothetical conference organiser, my problem would be that older, intelligent, respectable UFO reseachers such as Swords and Jerome Clark have got awful grouchy about the lack of respect for ufology. They will get together and admit that a lot of prominent UFO cases have turned out to be crap BUT no one is allowed to say it out loud! (Especially dastardly skeptics.) Eddie Bullard recently published a long, carefully argued essay about his "crisis of confidence" in UFO investigation; Clark dismissed Bullard's essay rather airily without discussing a single point, defaulting to the lazy "skeptics are just as bad" type of argument.

Thomas E. Bullard, "Is the Anomalist on a Fool’s Errand?" Paranthropology, Vol 5, No 1

Jerome Clark

Terry the Censor said...

That said, my ideal conference would deal with UFO corrigenda: cases that serious researchers have shown are garbage but which books and TV shows keep promoting uncritically. The proceedings could be published as the first in a series of purged cases, which would be an invaluable reference work.

So I'd ask all these researchers to discuss cases that they never ever want to see again (contactee cases not included). My concern is that a few would decline for fear of giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy -- the dastardly skeptics!

Allan Hendry
Martin Shough
Kevin Randle (his blog has several pieces unmasking unsupportable cases)
Thomas E. Bullard
Michael Swords
Jerome Clark
Jenny Randles
Ronald Story (is he alive?)
Nick Redfern (it would be a challenge for him not to pander but he's got it in him)
Paul Kimball
Jack Brewer
Peter Brookesmith
John Rimmer


Stanton Friedman being cross-examined by a lawyer about the Hill-Fish map (it was busted in 2008 in the Fortean Times but Stan has refused to answer directly when confronted by Shough, Randle and Sheaffer)
Steven Greer in carbonite! (Even a casting done by an art student would be good for a laugh -- and an auction.)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, having a UFO conference, the list to exclude would be longer than the list to include. Yes, anyone from the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure gets the boot. You asked what they accomplished? Nothing.

One name I didn't see to include, Micah Hanks. He seems to have his head on straight concerning UFOs.

Saucerspud said...

Once again you've impressed me with your willingness to go against the mainstream UFO grain with a sense of humor. Amen to your comment about leaving all the television carnies and hucksters out of your conference. The field needs more people like you.

I also really got a kick out of the above Stanton Friedman comment. Well played.

Speaking of UFO television shows, any thoughts on the new series soon to premiere on the Science Channel? I believe it's called Close Encounters and originally aired in the UK (I think). It looks more like a show that recreates famous sightings without ridiculous "experts" (I'm looking at you, Uncovering Aliens) running around spewing nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I think your list of guests and your idea for a conference are spot on! Do you mind if I ask what your beefs are with Stanton Friedman and Stephen Greer? I'm not trying to be confrontational, just trying to gain some insight.

Anonymous said...

Get ready to be busy Mark.


Terry the Censor said...

> beef with Stanton Friedman

Friedman tells his audiences that scientists and skeptics cannot be trusted to fairly assess UFO data. However, ufologists frequently single out Friedman for letting his beliefs trump the facts.

From my notes:

In a book chapter titled “The Failure of Ufologists,” Jenny Randles outlines how these failings lead investigators astray, especially the presumption that UFOs must be aliens. She does so in a civil manner without naming names – except one: “Stanton Friedman, a nuclear scientist with an interest in UFOs, is an undeniably sincere and hard-working investigator, yet his beliefs demonstrate the dangers.”
Jenny Randles, Peter Warrington, Science and the UFOs, p. 71.

"I think it would be fair to say that most of even the staunch advocates for the Hills (a noteworthy exception is Stanton Friedman) have contended the evidence for their story is merely compelling rather than convincing."
Marcello Truzzi, Encounters at Indian Head, p. 84.

"Other ufologists besides myself, more cautious than Friedman, acknowledge we are unable to make a case for the reality of the Hills' experience that rises to the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard of criminal law."
Karl Pflock, Encounters at Indian Head, p. 211.

“Gerald Anderson spun all sorts of tales, forged documents, and lied about nearly everything he said, but Friedman still believes that Anderson, as a five-year-old boy, was on the [Roswell] crash scene and remembers, in detail, much of it.”
Kevin Randle, Reflections of a UFO Investigator, p. 206.

In Captured!, Friedman doesn't inform his readers of Donald Menzel's praise of Marjorie Fish and his serious and respectful statistical analysis of her work in his book UFO Enigma. Rather, Friedman tries to smear Menzel by saying he had done work “for the CIA, NSA...and was probably a member of the Majestic 12 Group controlling classified UFO research,” never suggesting what most ufologists believe, that MJ-12 is a hoax. As James Moseley wrote about MJ-12: “Including Menzel was a clever ploy and a subtle joke. And the joke's on Stan Friedman.” (Shockingly Close to the Truth! p. 265).

Anonymous said...

I would add Ted Phillips to your list. He has forgotten more about UFOs than the rest of us will ever hope to know. He is certainly the world's leading expert on physical trace cases.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Richard Haines from NARCAP would also be a solid addition.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

On alert for April 5th!! (although it would make more sense to do it on April 1.... Anyway, watch the skies!

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I checked out a preview for the new "Close Encounters" show coming soon on Science Channel and it looks like the same old same old. Potentially cool re-enactments ruined by crap production values and boring, obvious narration and commentary.

Anonymous said...

I would first tie him up, and to a polygraph and make Bush Sr. Yes sir pappy himself. Let's see what he knows