High Strangeness: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My New UFO Headache

If you're as ancient as me, you may remember the opening sequence from the brilliant 1960's spy show, "The Prisoner," in which the unnamed spy played by Patrick McGoohan angrily resigns from his unnamed spy agency after bursting through the doors to his boss' office. It looked like this:

Well, I may be close to doing something very much like this with my new boss at MUFON. In fact, I may have just done it!

Regular readers may recall that about a year ago I took a leave of absence from my post as a MUFON Certified UFO Field Investigator as I finished my Hynek book. A few weeks ago I decided to rejoin and get back in on the fun, partly because this work really is fascinating, and partly because I may still want to write a book about my adventures as a UFO investigator, and to do that I need more material.

In the year I was gone, however, much has changed. Wisconsin has a new State Director, and she and I are matter and anti-matter, if you know what I mean.

Things started out badly in our first exchange. She informed me in no uncertain terms that she expects me to respond to her emails the same day, no exceptions--and this woman writes a LOT of emails. I wrote back and politely informed her that I would endeavor to respond to her emails in a timely manner, but that it probably wouldn't be the same day.

Next she insisted that I buy this $20 book about orbs written by some MUFON guy, because it turns out that she thinks every UFO reported to MUFON is an orb with telepathic abilities. I politely informed her that I will not be buying the book, but that hasn't kept her from "suggesting" every few days that I buy it. She has shared several of her orb case reports with me, and when it comes to her case dispositions, she says that "natural and man-made causes have been ruled out." I asked her how she had ruled out natural and man-made causes, and she basically said it was because she knew they were orbs.

Then yesterday she emailed me to say that she had contacted a witness in one of the cases she had assigned to me, to "introduce" me as the investigator who will be handling her sighting. Only problem is, I have already emailed this witness twice and introduced myself twice, which my State Director already knows.

I find this embarrassing and problematic, so I wrote to my SD tonight and told her so. I stated my belief that it is confusing to a witness to be contacted by multiple people in the organization. Then I stated my belief that when she "introduces" me to a witness to whom I have already introduced myself, not once but twice, it makes us look like unorganized amateurs. Then I stated my belief that by contacting a witness in my case behind my back, she sends me the message that she doesn't trust me to do my job.

On top of that, I am about to submit my first new case report, and I know she's going to hate it, because she was pretty sure the witness was receiving telepathic messages from the orb, but the witness told me that she did not receive any messages, telepathic or otherwise, from the object. Ouch.

I am not looking forward to my new boss' next email. It's not going to be good.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beating a Dead UFO

So, the other day I did a webcast with noted UFO authority and all-around nice guy Kevin Randle (you can listen to it here), in which we discussed the Roswell Debate I had recently with Don Schmitt. The debate, for those of you new to the story, took place at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference earlier this fall. It was sponsored by well-known UFO and paranormal media outlet KGRA Radio, but after webcasting the debate live, KGRA has decided for reasons known only to them to reneg on their promise to post the debate on their website.

This is a problem to me for two reasons. First is the censorship issue: if you squelch dissenting voices and viewpoints, you're doing your listeners a disservice and keeping them in the dark, the exact opposite of what a media outlet is supposed to do. You're also engaging in what you might call a "cover-up," which I had thought was a dirty word in UFO circles. Second is the professional ethics issue: a big reason I did the debate was so that it could be heard online by an international audience, and by reneging on their promise to post the recording of the show, the people at KGRA have pretty much shafted me and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. I have a very low tolerance for people who break promises and reneg on deals. It shows a real spinelessness.

An early Xmas present from my wife! From growupawesome.com
So, anyway, Kevin and I had a good conversation on his show. We went over a lot of the content of the debate, and while we didn't agree on everything, we found common ground on a lot of issues and ultimately decided that there wasn't a whole lot more worth saying about Roswell. UFOlogy, I believe, has already moved on.

So it surprised me when, off the air, Kevin and his producer brought up the idea of having me and Schmitty do another Roswell Debate live on Kevin's show. They both thought it was a swell idea, and then they thought it would be even better if we did if for three hours instead of just one. And then they thought it would be an even better idea to have Tom Carey join Don Schmitt's side of the debate. Needless to say, the idea held very little appeal, but I hated to snuff out their enthusiasm, so I told them I wouldn't be able to commit to anything until after my book comes out next May and said we should talk again after that.

Then I thought about it over the holiday and realized that I won't want to talk about it in May any more than I do now. I have absolutely no interest in participating in another Roswell Debate.

Some decisions in life are hard, some are easy. This one was easy. Taking part in another Roswell Debate, I realized, would be a complete waste of my time and energy. Not only would it feel like beating a dead UFO, but it would only serve to legitimize Don Schmitt and his work, by keeping it in the spotlight. That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing right now.

Also, somewhere along the line, Roswell has just become really, really boring to me...

What's the right thing to be doing right now? For me, it's working on my book. As my editor and I bang out a final draft of the manuscript, I'm also working on selecting photos and illustrations to use in the book, and securing permission from people who own the rights to those images. I thought the whole photo rights thing would be fraught with complications, but it's been amazingly trouble-free, and I am psyched about the images we're going to have in the book!

I had imagined using some great UFO photos, but after going over what there was available I came to the conclusion that UFO photographs pretty much suck, across the board. So, instead, we're using illustrations and artwork connected with some classic cases, and I couldn't be more excited. Where UFOs are concerned, at least, artwork is so much more evocative than photographs... I think it's because photographs represent an attempt to portray the physicality of UFOS, and if there's one thing that UFOs persistently refuse to give up, it's physical proof of their nature and existence. Illustrations, on the other hand, capture more of the psychological nature of UFO sightings. Yes, they're more subjective, but if you're not trying to prove one thing or another that doesn't really matter. Illustrations are about gut feelings, and what could be more interesting than that?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The REAL Roswell UFO Cover-up!

It looks as though the great Roswell Debate may not be posted on KGRARadio.com any time soon, if ever. That's the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that I haven't heard a thing from KGRA host Race Hobbs since this message, sent to me on October 18:
"I sure will (post a copy of the debate) as soon as our copy is done. Tea said he had a video guy recording the first part but not the last side of the debate, which I have recorded.
"We will let you know, Mark, and by the way, you did a really good job my man!"
Ok, I appreciate that, but it's been a couple weeks now, and if the debate was in fact recorded, and if Race thinks I did such a kick-ass job debating Don Schmitt, why hasn't it been posted anywhere yet? And why hasn't Race responded to my follow-up email?

Think about it: KGRA was the damned sponsor of the debate, and they haven't posted it. Did it maybe not turn out the way they expected it to?
Could this be why KGRA hasn't posted the Roswell Debate? After all, their man RD was up on that stage in Mexico City ...

In lieu of the actual debate, then, I'll just share a few items of interest.

First up is this message sent the day after the debate by my niece Rxxxxx to my daughter Dxxxxx. My niece had a vendor table at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference, you see, and this is what she heard in the vendor's room after the debate:
"The consensus of many people I've been eavesdropping on was that Uncle Mark fucking killed whoever that other guy was in the debate."
Not very scientific, I'll grant you, but my niece would never tell a lie.

Also, my sister Mxxxx the lawyer said I won the debate by virtue of the fact that Don Schmitt kept agreeing with me! Ha!

I'll tell you one thing we did not agree on, however. At a couple points in the debate, I quoted some statements that Dr. J. Allen Hynek had made during his career that pretty much shot the legs out from under Don's 30-some years of Roswell "research."

First was this quote from a 1975 letter Hynek wrote to Dr. Carl Sagan, in which he stated, "I do not, and have never, supported the idea that UFOs were nuts-and-bolts hardware from some very distant place."

Next, I quoted from an OMNI Magazine interview published in February, 1985, in which Hynek said the following:
"To be honest I don't like to talk about crashed saucers, because I am in a position to mobilize public belief. If I came out and held a press conference to say that a saucer has landed and and the creatures were in deep freeze at Wright Field, quite a few people would believe me. But it wouldn't necessarily be true, and it certainly wouldn't be science... I won't jeopardize my reputation for the sake of a story."
Well, these quotes seriously bugged Don, but instead of rebutting the quotes, guess what he did? He explained to all gathered that Dr. Hynek was suffering from brain cancer at the time he said these things, and only said them because he was experiencing diminished brain capacity!

That's right, according to Don Schmitt, Dr. Hynek was suffering from severely impaired judgement and didn't know what he was saying when he disagreed with Don's "research." Don's implication was that if Dr. Hynek had been of sound mind, he would not have said these things and would, in fact, have wholeheartedly agreed with Don's theories.

What a load of crap. Of all the cheap, sleazy ways to defend yourself, Don's characterization of Dr. Hynek disagreeing with him only because he was mentally incapacitated is the cheapest and sleaziest by a mile.

What do you think?