High Strangeness: 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

UFO Hiatus

Something had to give...

Over the past couple months, life has gotten surprisingly busy, and I find I haven't been able to keep up with my responsibilities as a Certified MUFON Field Investigator. Between selling my Hynek book (which means I have to write the damn thing by next summer!), prepping to start a new gig teaching screenwriting at DePaul University and gearing up for a 16-day Antarctic cruise over the holidays, I have been spread out pretty thin and letting my caseload slip as a result.

So I wrote to my state director and told him that I may have to take a leave of absence from MUFON for the first 6 months of 2016. By then I'll have the book done, school will be on summer break, and things will settle down greatly. I told him I would let him know after the 1st of the year, once I'm back from the South Pole. He was very cool about it, and appreciated the heads up.

To be completely honest, though, I've been ready for a break from MUFON for a while. My motivation has been seriously lacking since last summer, and once it starts to slip away it's hard to get it back.

Thank God I can get away from UFOs in the Antarctic... or can I?
There are two big issues. First of all, there have been too many cases over the past few months that are either obvious pranks, obvious mistakes, or just flat out unimportant. It's hard to enthusiastically dedicate even one night a week to this when so many of my recent cases are exactly alike: "I saw a light in the sky. I watched for a while, trying to figure out what it was. Then it disappeared." Well, ok. Maybe that's something, maybe it's not, but if that's all there is to the report then what, exactly, am I "investigating?" I spend 30 minutes on the phone with the witness, who repeats what he/she said in the initial report, and then I file it with MUFON as an "Identified Flying Object-Man Made" or "Insufficient Data," or some such thing. Which does absolutely nothing to help us understand the UFO phenomenon, and feels like a big waste of my time. Much better, I would think, if the simple Category 1 cases were just filed away and the investigators only had to look into the truly strange and interesting cases. But who's going to make that call?

The second issue is that the MUFON Case Management System where I file my reports is so clunky, slow, cumbersome, counterintuitive, and nonsensical that I dread having to go into the system to file a report. It always takes twice as long as it needs to, because the reporting requirements are so inane. We basically have to fill in everything twice, which usually means cutting and pasting into the wee hours of the night, and then we need to type the report into a text box so tiny it can barely hold one letter, much less a report. It's sheer torture, I'm telling you. I have hated the CMS since day one.

Then in October, they changed the CMS reporting procedures, for no apparent reason. The email MUFON sent me about the changes is completely incomprehensible to me:
For Cat 1 cases. Copy and paste the elements of the Short Form (see bottom of page 8) into the text box for Field Investigators Report located at the bottom of CMS. Complete the report.

For Cat 2 and higher cases. You will complete only Form 30. Upon completing the report as a Word document, do the following:
Highlight the all of the information from the Investigation Section (see top of Page 4). Click copy and then move your mouse to the Field Investigators Report box and then click on paste. Next, attach the Word document as a file to CMS and close the case.
Uhhh... What?

The last straw came the other day when MUFON changed the log-in procedures. All of a sudden, with no warning and no explanation, they require me to choose a new password and then keep changing it every 45 days...

I've been using the same password for 4 1/2 years without any problem. I remember that password. It's easy and it's secure. Why do I need to change it, and then keep changing it? Well, I knew there was no getting out of it, so I put in the new password and wrote it down, and guess what? The next time I tried to log in, I couldn't remember the new password--of course--and I couldn't find where I had written it down. So I had to ask MUFON to help me reset the password, and I was told to check my email for the reset code. That was a week ago, and I'm still waiting for the flipping email. (and before you write to tell me to check my bulk folder, I have, and it's not there)

The thing is, even if I get the email and I get the password reset properly, I'm going to have to go through this stupidity every 45 days from now until forever, and I can pretty much guarantee that I will promptly forget every new password every 45 days, the minute I create it. And for what? Do we really have security problems?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not leaving MUFON. I just need a break, and I need to concentrate on the book and blog and the class for the time being. Even if I decide to take the leave of absence, I'll still be keeping up with the blog, although maybe less frequently than in the past.

I may not get back here again before my trip, so Happy Holidays to all, and keep watching the skies!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks for UFOs

Well, it's happened again. For the second time in my very short career as a MUFON Certified UFO Field Investigator, one of my cases is in contention for MUFON's "Top 10" list!

It happened before, when a case involving a giant hovering UFO witnessed by a woman and her daughter was named one of MUFON's "Top 10 UFO Sightings" of 2012. It was a pretty cool case, but I'm even more excited about the new one. Well, I say "new," but it actually took place in 1980. It's a mass sighting at Fort McCoy, a military base in central Wisconsin, that involved as many as 50 servicemen.

The witness is now retired and is haunted by the event. He doesn't know what he saw, and realizes he may never know, but he wants to know if any of the other servicemen there that night remember seeing what he saw, a strange rectangular craft with two entities visible through a port in the front of the object.

His story, which you can read here, sure made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The sketch he sent me of the craft (below) is amazingly detailed and precise. I have spent a lot of time conversing with the witness of the phone and via email, and he has never given me the slightest reason to think that he was making this up or imagining it. This is one of those cases where my gut reaction is very Hynek-like: I absolutely believe that this witness had a real experience, but I have absolutely no idea what it could have been, or what level of reality from which it may have emerged...

I may learn more about the Top 10 selections next week, so I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Swamp Gas Fever!

I've just gotten updates about the two big speaking engagements I have lined up for 2016: the Great Roswell Debate, in which I will face off against Roswell brainiac Donald Schmitt to debate something or other about the Roswell saucer crash mystery; and the Swamp Gas UFO Conference, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the still-controversial Dexter-Hillsdale, Michigan, UFO sightings of 1966.

First off, the gentleman who is putting on the debate informs me that the big event will take place at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, next October 15-16. It will probably be the prime-time event that Saturday, but the schedule is not set in stone at this point.

He also had this to say about the debate:
"I spoke to someone from Marquette University's Debate Team, and he said he'd be glad to sit down and talk with me about running a debate effectively, giving me an overview on formats and such. I also got leads on people versed in debate that might make a good team to help run the event."
His approach gives me confidence that this could be a very good event, so stay tuned...

Then, I got this in the mail:

You know you want to be there.
This is pretty exciting to me. I'm thrilled that the folks at Michigan MUFON are putting on this event, and I am tickled to death that I get to take part.

I am sad to say, however, that the administration of Hillsdale College has declined to host any portion of the event or be involved in any way. Do you suppose the administrators were worried about the College's image? That seems to be the likely explanation, and if it's true then I think they made a bad choice, for their College, for their students, and for their community.

Nothing to do but move on... The only question for me now is, what exactly will I talk about?? With five other speakers on the program, I don't want to overlap with anything anyone else is doing, and I do want to make it worthwhile for people in the audience, so I want to provide some new and surprising information about the Dexter-Hillsdale event, the aftermath of which Dr. Hynek once described as "the low point of my career." I have given this a lot of thought, and I have decided on a few possibilities:

  • I can talk about why the American public were especially primed for a spectacular UFO event in March, 1966
  • I can divulge the real details of how and why Dr. Hynek was forced into giving a press conference at the Detroit Press Club before he had had a chance to fully investigate the sightings 
  • I can describe how Hynek's investigation of the sightings was hampered by the Air Force, the Michigan media, the local police, and even the witnesses
  • I can talk about how and why Dr. Hynek came up with the "swamp gas" hypothesis leading up to the Detroit press conference
  • I can tell the story of how Hynek turned the low point of his career into stupendous success, recognition and fame 

What do you think? If you could make it to Ann Arbor in March, what would you like to hear me babble about?

Friday, November 13, 2015

UFO Truth vs. UFO Legend

Boy, for a few minutes I thought I had uncovered an honest-to-God UFO conspiracy, and it was pretty exciting while it lasted!

It all started when I saw an email alert that someone had posted a very provocative question in a Facebook UFO group called "Global Aerial Phenomena Studies," and someone else had mentioned me in relation to the question. How about that?

The question was, "Did Dr. Hynek ever write or say anything about Roswell?" A provocative thought indeed. Is it possible that any UFO figure active in the field between 1947 and the present day could have avoided saying or writing anything about Roswell for the duration of his or her public life?

The questioner, Curt Collins, went on to say, "I'm sure he must have, but the only thing I've found is 2nd hand from disgraced Phil Imbrogno in 'Interdimensional Universe.' There's an article that seems like a good possibility, 'A Cosmic Watergate?' by Hynek in International UFO Reporter, vol. 9 Jan-Feb, 1984. Does he discuss Roswell there or anywhere else?"

Another group member, Jeremiah D, replied with the following: "I don't know, but I have been eagerly awaiting Mark O'Connell's forthcoming Hynek biography, 'Close Encounters Man' ( for better or worse)."

That's where I come into the story, obviously. Was I annoyed by Jeremiah's "for better or worse" comment? Heck no. I, like many other UFO chroniclers, subscribe to the Oscar Wilde school of publicity: 
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."  
Anyway, Jeremiah quickly added this comment:  "'(for better or worse)' was a jab at UFO literature in general and my own seeming inability to not buy every single thing I come across on the subject, regardless of thesis or theory; not Mark or his book."

Thanks, J!

Back to our story: I thought it was a good question Curt had asked, so I went to the library of old issues of  International UFO Reporter that I have saved to my hard drive to read the article in question. It was then I found, to my terror, that all of Vol. 9 was a "corrupted file" and couldn't be opened!


At least that's what I thought until I tried to read the file from the original CD, and there it was, good as new. *whew* 

Conspiracy averted, I read Hynek's article about "A Cosmic Watergate" and was not surprised that he didn't mention Roswell in the story. So I posted a comment to Curt and Jeremiah: "I can't say with 100% certainty that Hynek NEVER wrote or said anything about Roswell, but I think I can safely say that if he ever had it would have been brief and derisive. He was generally disdainful of saucer crash stories, and was never committed to a 'nuts and bolts' explanation for UFOs." And that's where it ends for me.
"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend"

Well, then Curt posted some information that Hynek had spoken at the 1981 and '82 MUFON Symposiums, and that Stanton Friedman has also appeared at both events to talk about his Roswell research. Curt naturally wondered whether Hynek and Friedman could have crossed paths and talked about Roswell at those gatherings. I guess it's possible, but it's just as possible that Hynek appeared on Saturday and Friedman appeared on Sunday, or that they were there at the same time but Hynek spent the whole weekend avoiding Friedman. Or maybe they did have a talk but Roswell never came up. 
But... even if they had talked Roswell, that's not the same thing as Hynek making a public statement about Roswell, as just about anyone's public statements on such a volatile subject are bound to be different from their private statements.

So, unless I turn up any definitive proof either way, I'll have to file Curt's questions away as an interesting thought exercise. Which is not to say that there won't be any saucer crash stories in my Hynek bio, "The Close Encounters Man," they just might not be the ones you're expecting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I got an interesting comment yesterday in response to myrecent post about the “Ramey memo,” and I wanted to thank the anonymous reader who posted this. I am always happy when my blog provokes a heartfelt response, because UFOlogy is only made better by healthy debate and discussion.

So here’s my healthy response to your comments, anonymous:

"I often find you have a pretty superficial knowledge of various UFO-related issues, and an overly dismissive, jokey attitude, Mark."

The “overly dismissive, jokey attitude” is kind of the whole point of my blog, so thank you for noticing. When I started thinking about writing a UFO blog over 4 years ago, I knew that there were already dozens of dreary, deadly-serious UFO bloggers out there, and I didn’t see any point in being another one. Why write a blog if I’m going to sound just like everyone else?

I decided to approach the phenomenon from a different angle: I would treat the subject seriously (because I do take it seriously), but I would reserve the right to be jokey and dismissive of the UFO phenomenon, and of the field of UFOlogy, and even of myself, when it was warranted. Either you get it or you don’t, and you clearly don’t. No big deal to me.

As for my “superficial knowledge of various UFO-related issues,” I have just turned that knowledge into a substantial book deal with a prominent publisher, so maybe it's more substantial than you think.

Then there's this:

"The point of the new scanning and use of more modern deciphering software on these somewhat higher resolution scans of the original negatives is to try and discern more clearly what parts of the Ramey memo might actually say.

"If it can be reasonably confirmed the memo says, in one part "victims of the wreck," and "disc," that would strongly suggest the invalid claims for Mogul flight #4 are thus discredited, the USAF lied in their 1994 and 1997 "case closed" whitewashes, and the term victims suggests there may be more to the case for Roswell than you seem capable of even understanding or accepting."

I think you give yourself away here. You portray the effort to read the Ramey memo as a quest for truth, yet in virtually the same breath you cite “the invalid claims for Mogul flight #4.” If you don’t yet know what the Ramey memo says, on what grounds do you assert that the Mogul claims are “invalid.”

Are you going to make me drag this guy out again? I think you are!
See, anonymous, it’s things like this that trigger my overly dismissive, jokey attitude: you pretend to be an open-minded truth-seeker, but you’ve already ruled the Mogul explanation “invalid,” based on evidence that you’re not even sure exists! Instead of trying to find out what the Ramey memo says, you and your ilk are trying to prove that it says what you want to believe it says. You see “VICTIMS”; I see “PICKLES.” Why wouldn’t I poke fun of that?

As to whether I am capable of understanding or accepting "the Roswell case," I have to ask, "What is there to understand and accept?"  I understand and accept that Jessie Marcel may have genuinely believed that Mac Brazel had recovered debris from a crashed flying saucer, but that's where it ends. What else of any substance have you actually got?

What confuses and bothers you about my blog, I think, is not that I "don't understand" but that I refuse to accept conventional thinking when it is not borne out by the facts and evidence. I'm far less concerned with your use of "modern deciphering software" than I am with the context in which this is playing out... That's what I look at, and what I think you should look at: the CONTEXT. A mere six months after the last Roswell "Smoking Gun" went down in flames, the world is suddenly presented with another potential Roswell "Smoking Gun" by the same people, and you don't detect even the slightest whiff of desperation and cynicism?

Then there’s this:

"Using Rich Reynold's site and related postings for your initial source for info on this controversy simply confirms that, since he despises Randle. You therefore discredit yourself by such ignorance and bias." 

Anonymous, I don’t agree with a lot of what Rich Reynolds says in his blog, but I read it fairly regularly and I respect him because he raises a lot of interesting, difficult questions, because he doesn’t put up with any UFOlogy BS, and because he’s a very entertaining writer. I think we need more of that, not less.

Anyway, please tell me: Who should I be reading?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The 19 Year-Old T-Shirt

I recently saved a favorite old t-shirt from the trash heap and the donation bin, and I'm glad I did, because it marks a unique anniversary for me... Exactly 19 years ago today, what was then quaintly called "The Sci-Fi Channel" hosted what it billed as the first-ever online science fiction convention. Because I was writing for Star Trek at he time, I was invited to be a "guest expert," and my payment was... the t-shirt!

All in all, it still looks pretty good for a 19 year-old t-shirt that has gone for some verrrrrrrrry long stretches stashed away in a dark dresser drawer.

The online science fiction convention took place in a thing called "cyberspace," which was at the time a pretty alien place that William Gibson wrote about. I honestly don't remember a whole lot about the experience, except that I spent a few hours in a chat room talking with a few dozen hyper Trekkies, and it was pretty fun. Goofy, but fun. Not like the time I appeared live at GenCon in Milwaukee and sat next to actor John DeLancie, who played the omnipotent superbeing "Q" in Star Trek: The Next Generation, on the celebrity Q&A panel; but that's another story...

And then there's the shirt... It still looks pretty cool, although I can't for the life of me remember what that big "D" in the middle of the logo was supposed to stand for...

It's fitting that I've just rediscovered this shirt, as my new publisher is talking about sending me to Comic-Con to publicize my Hynek bio. If I can keep the shirt in good shape until next year, maybe I'll wear it to the Con!

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Hynek Book is Real (and so are UFOs)

It's official:

Expected publication in autumn 2016.

UFO Memo-Mania!

Did you know Roswell was still a thing? I was surprised this morning to find that it was being written about at the UFO Conjecture(s) blog, in response to it being written about in Roswellite Kevin Randle's blog.

What could they possibly be blathering about? What new Smoking Gun could there possibly be? And, anyway, didn't I already write about this?

Turns out this week's chatter concerns the Ramey memo, that little piece of paper that "proves" that Air Force General Roger Ramey wrote to his superiors telling of a crashed disc and the "victims" of the crash found outside Roswell.

Here are the posts, if you're interested:

UFO Conjectures




Kevin Randle


What I find so funny about all this is that these guys all want to argue 'til doomsday about what the memo actually says, or who owns the copyright on the photo, but no one addresses the most basic question about the photo, which is this:  
Why the hell is Ramey holding that memo in the first place?
That's what I can never get past. Why would this General be carrying around such a sensitive document, one that details his role in an ongoing government cover-up, and carrying it so obviously, so casually, so carelessly, while a photographer from the local paper was taking pictures? On a more basic level, why would that memo have ever been taken out of Ramey's offices ever, under any circumstances? I don't care how you try to explain it, there is no possible reason for Ramey to have been holding that document in a public space in such an open and casual manner with a press photographer snapping pictures if it contained any sensitive information at all.
Good thing this Air Force General knows how to conceal sensitive documents when pictures are being taken.

That's a real problem with so much of UFOlogy: people get crazed with something they think they see, but never ask -- or answer -- the obvious question about why that thing they think they see is even visible in the first place. I'm not saying I think I know what the Ramey memo actually said, or that I can prove it wasn't a sensitive document about a crashed disc and alien crash victims. But I am saying that before it can be accepted as evidence of anything, someone needs to explain why it's in the picture in the first place. Which, of course, no one can.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

UFO Witnesses Say the Darndest Things -- Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about a curious case I had just investigated for MUFON. The case started out looking as though it may have some interesting twists to it: it involved some UFOs that had physical and psychological effects on the three witnesses, and allegedly transformed reality and caused some missing time... But then when I interviewed the woman who had reported the sighting, I quickly learned that the only strange effect the UFOs had was to terrify the woman and her two companions before they disappeared.

The witness had told me that she would try to get the other two people -- her fiance and her best friend -- to talk to me, and so last night I talked to them both, separately. I would like to say that the two new interviews helped to clarify things, but in fact they have only muddied the waters. Which is not to say that I wasted my time. I'm actually quite fascinated with the way the three accounts fit together, and what they can tell us about eye-witness testimony.

The first version of the story from Witness #1 appeared here yesterday, and if you haven't already read it you should, because the rest of this will make more sense if you do.
There's never any traffic, is there?

Last night I talked to Witness #2, the best friend, and she was, if anything, even more excited and agitated when she told the story than the first witness had been. She talked a mile a minute and told me all about the "extreme fear" of evil space aliens from which she's suffered all her life, then seamlessly segued into her sighting report...

She told of a terrifying ride in a truck after dark on a country highway. She was in the right rear seat of the truck with the two sleeping kids, and was able to see three lights in a straight line up in the sky. Then a fourth light appeared and all the lights were behind the truck now, chasing them down the road. Somehow the four lights formed a triangle at this point, then they veered off to the south and could be seen beside the truck, still giving chase. She and Witness #1 were screaming in fear the whole time and telling Witness #3 to drive faster to get away.

Witness #3, who had been heading east all this time, suddenly turned south to parallel the Lake Michigan lakeshore, when one of the UFOs was seen "whooshing over a field." They entered a state park and suddenly the road was filled with "a horde of animals" from the park running away from the UFOs and trying to get the truck to stop. You can bet my ears perked up at the mention of rampaging deer, elk and beavers fleeing from UFOs and trying to flag down a speeding SUV, but on further questioning the witness clarified that there were only raccoons involved... Still, there was a horde of them, and they were fleeing from the UFOs and trying to stop the truck.

She told me they finally reached the gas station and got out of the truck, only to see "a whole cluster" of UFOs in the sky, at least 4, 5 or 6 of them. She said they were "bright orange-y, reddish, yellow." These UFOs vanished from sight, and that's when Witness #2 realized that their 15-minute drive to the gas station had actually taken an hour and half. Damn, there's your missing time, right there!

I got off the phone with #2 not sure what to think. Her story had matched up with that of #1 in many important ways, but would Witness #3 back them up as well?

Growing more and more intrigued, I called #3, the fiance driving the truck, a short time later. I couldn't have been more surprised by his version of the events...

He began by telling me of watching the UFOs from the side of the road, before the "chase" began. He said that when his truck's lights were off, the UFOs would start moving, but when his lights were on, the UFOs would stop moving. This was the first I had heard of this.

Then he described the "chase" down the highway. At first he could see the three lights in his left-hand mirror; they were above the treeline, and were casting light on the trees. Later he saw the four UFOs directly behind the truck in his rear-view mirror, but when they veered off to the side of the truck he lost sight of them. At this point he was driving faster and faster in response to the screaming of the other two witnesses, and it was all he could do to keep the truck on the road, so watching for UFOs was out of the question.

Of course, this completely controverts what he had just said about the experience at the side of the road. At that point, the UFOs allegedly stopped moving when he turned on his truck lights, but he would have had the lights on when he took off down the road, so why would the UFOs start to move then? Puzzling...

He then told me that when the truck headed south they came upon of "a family of raccoons" on the road, and he had to slow down to drive around them. Funny how one person's "horde" can be another person's "family." Soon after, they reached the gas station and it was over. I asked him to specify the last moment at which he saw the UFOs, and he said it was that last look in his rear-view mirror during the "chase." I then asked him how much time had elapsed between the first sighting of the UFOs and their arrival at the gas station, and he said "10 minutes."

Those last two points were the kickers for me. Witness #3 did not see the second appearance of the UFOs once they were at the gas station, and he did not experience any missing time. By the time we wrapped up the conversation, I wasn't even sure if he had been in the same truck as the other two witnesses. He even said, "I couldn't see what they were looking at" for a lot of the time.

Normally, three witnesses would be a bonanza, but here they were a mess. There was just enough agreement among their stories to almost make the whole tale plausible, but just enough disagreement to make me seriously question the whole thing...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UFO Witnesses Say the Darndest Things

One of my recent MUFON cases brought up an interesting topic: When reporting her sighting, a witness indicated that the UFO she saw actually "Transformed Reality."

As you can imagine, this box is seldom ever checked by UFO witnesses. What made this instance even more interesting was the fact that the witness had also checked off "Affected You Physically" and "Affected You Psychologically," so this case was a rare trifecta of unusual qualities in a UFO sighting. 
UFOs chasing cars? What else is there to say but "WTF"?

And yet, when reading her account of the event, I saw very little to indicate any physical or psychological effects, and nothing at all to indicate any transformation of reality... But since my State Director indicated on the report that I should check for missing time, I was duty-bound to look into it.

The case involved three adults in a car late at night with two sleeping children; the adults saw three or four objects that at various times looked like lights, a star, orbs, the flame of a cigarette lighter, and discs, and these objects seemed to chase the car the witness was riding in. She reported that she and her two friends spent much of the duration of the sighting screaming "WTF?" but only one of the kids woke up and he fell bask asleep immediately. When they finally pulled over at a gas station there was only one object left in the sky. The final object disappeared but none of the witnesses actually saw it disappear. Later they saw something over Lake Michigan that they thought was the same thing they had seen earlier.

When I interviewed the witness, her account of the sighting stuck pretty closely to what she had written in her original report. There were so many "WTF?"s I felt as though I was right there in the car with her! But, as in the report, there was no actual mention of any missing time... no blackouts, no abductions, nothing. I was puzzled. So, I asked her how exactly the UFOs had affected her psychologically, and she said, "Well... I was really scared!" Then I asked her how exactly the UFOs had affected her physically, and she said, "Well... I was REALLY scared!"

Feeling like I was onto something, I plunged ahead into the big question: "How did the UFOs transform reality?"

She hesitated a moment, then said, "I kept screaming 'WTF! IS THIS FOR REAL??'"

Who knew it could be that simple?


Friday, October 23, 2015

UFO Book Tease

What the hell, now that my biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek is in the hands of my agent, I'm going to give you, my faithful readers, a small sample of the book proposal.

The full proposal (with sample chapter) is a little over 100 pages, so I'm not going to share the whole enchilada, just a few tantalizing tidbits. For today, I'll share an excerpt that talks about the "target market" for the book.

Keep in mind that this is a sales document, and it's written for book editors who in all likelihood have never heard of Hynek and know very little about the UFO phenomenon. Because of this, some of the writing may seem exaggerated in some respects and oversimplified in others; I have only a few pages with which to make a maximum impact with an editor, so you just have to accept it for what it is...

Chances are, you know someone who has seen something unusual in the sky. Chances are, they’ve never told a soul about it.
But it’s also fairly certain they want to know more about it; they want to know what they saw, and they want to know if anyone else has seen the same thing.
This is where the market for “The Close Encounters Man” begins: the millions of people who have seen something, but don’t know what.
They want to believe. And they are the reason for two of the biggest stories to come out of Hollywood in 2015: The return of “The X Files” to television and a sequel to the 1996 big-screen alien invasion hit “Independence Day.”
The new “Independence Day” movie, which will take up the story 20 years after earth defeated an alien attack force with a computer virus in the first film, is reported by CinemaBlend.com to be "Part 1 of a new series.” This suggests that, in art as in life, humanity may never be fully rid of the aliens.
Perhaps more significant is the return of “The X-Files,” a show that, at its peak, boasted over 27 million viewers. The internet boiled over with the news that Fox TV is bringing back the original cast and creative team behind the Peabody Award-winning series, which Fox’s eager PR department describes, not incorrectly, as “…a worldwide phenomenon that shaped pop culture” (Entertainment Weekly went even further in its July 3, 2015 cover story, saying that “The X-Files” facilitated “the geek takeover of mainstream pop”).
Show creator Chris Carter recognizes that after 13 years off the air, his characters and stories remain as relevant as ever, perhaps more so: “The good news,” he says, “is the world has only gotten that much stranger.”
And who does he have to thank for that high strangeness?
In large part because of Hynek’s pioneering work, UFOs and aliens have become inextricably woven into the fabric of global pop culture. They are ubiquitous on TV and radio, in movies, on the internet and in bookstores, and even in the daily news. And, while it is abundantly clear that millions of Americans hunger for more information on the topic, and that the market for new UFO media continues to grow at an astonishing rate, the sad fact is that most of the information that is being fed to this global audience is dubious at best. Roswell is an entertaining story. So is Area 51, and Hitler’s captured UFO, and Hangar 18. They are all entertaining stories, but they are, by and large, based on rehashed and discredited information, unsubstantiated rumor and unverifiable “deathbed confessions.” They are all sideshows to the main event.
The real story begins with Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s not-so-secret official study of the UFO phenomenon. Based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, the project began in 1948 under the moniker “Project Sign.” In an indication of its early floundering, it became “Project Grudge” in 1949, and then, finally, “Project Blue Book.” The project came under the leadership of an endlessly rotating roster of low-level Air Force functionaries, but for nearly the entire span of its existence one and only one astronomer was employed as its scientific advisor: Dr. J. Allen Hynek.
“Ridicule is not a part of the scientific method, and the public should not be taught that it is.” Dr. Hynek, then a little-known professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University, delivered this profound message in 1952 to a gathering of physicists. Hynek was there at the invitation of the Optical Society of America; he was one of three scientists who were to offer their views on the phenomenon that had swept the country in 1947 and that showed no signs of conveniently going away. After the first two scientists dismissed the phenomenon as nothing more than atmospheric aberrations, Hynek put his budding career at risk and made a plea for the serious scientific study of UFO reports—not all of them, mind you, just the twenty percent that defied explanation. Then, since he was going so far out on a limb already, he publicly chastised the other two speakers for their closed-mindedness on the subject!
For many other scientists, this might have been the moment at which their careers ended. But Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a special case, and the book “The Close Encounters Man” will be the first to explore why he alone was able to walk so surefootedly on both sides of the boundary line of science.