High Strangeness: April 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Crappy UFO Photos

A friend recently asked me if I was including any good UFO photographs in The Close Encounters Man, my biography of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and I was really sorry that he asked, because I knew my answer was going to disappoint him.


As expected, my friend's face fell when he heard my answer. I could tell exactly what he was thinking: No pictures of UFOs? What's the point? 

So, before he could protest, I explained to him that after 5-plus years of being up to my eyeballs in UFO research and investigation, I had come to the unalterable conclusion that most, if not all, photographs of UFOs are crap.
A dot in the sky, or a UFO? I wonder...

Why do I say this? When I was working as a Certified UFO Field Investigator for MUFON from 2011 to 2016, I had many, many people send me photographs of what they had seen in the sky, and mostly what they were were photographs of the sky. In the rare instance that something besides the sky could be discerned, it was just a blob or smear or pinprick of something dark against a light background, or of something light against a dark background. The image on the right is a good example: a black dot in the sky over Lake Michigan, submitted by a UFO witness who really seemed to believe that she had captured something unusual on film. If you blow it up enough, though, the dot looks a lot like a seagull, which it probably is.

One series of images submitted by a UFO witness stands out in my memory as having been especially ludicrous. The witness claimed that he stood beside his pickup truck watching as a UFO hovered in the sky a mile away, then zoomed to a spot directly over the pickup, then zoomed back off into the distance, then zoomed back over the truck, then back into the distance, etc., etc., over and over. Fine, but all the photos he submitted only showed the "UFO" when it was a tiny, tiny black dot in a gray sky, seemingly very distant from where he stood. I asked him the obvious question: "Okay, but why didn't you take any pictures when the UFO was directly over you and your truck?" He stumbled and fumbled, as if that thought had never occurred to him, then he said, "Well--it happened too fast!" 

Of course, if you go through classic old UFO accounts, you're much likely to come across some interesting photos, but many of those -- I'm thinking of the photos of the Phoenix Lights -- aren't a while lot better. And it seems that most of the other classic photos have all been debunked by now.

You know what's better than a photo of a UFO? A drawing of a UFO. Or a drawing of a UFO occupant. Not only can you almost always tell exactly what you're looking at, but you can see it as close as possible to the way the witness experienced it. It doesn't matter whether the witness is a good artist or not; if a witness can put pen or pencil to paper and draw what he or she saw, that image is almost always going to contain be far more information, and far more interesting information, than a photo of a blotch of light.

That's why, when it came time to add illustrations to my book, I always used drawings instead of photographs. I hope my friend understands...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

UFO Publicity

As part of the publicity plan for my new book, The Close Encounters Man, I'm writing a series of UFO-related articles that we'll be placing in various publications and websites. They're fun to write, in part because I get to touch on some things that I didn't have space for in the book, and in part because--as you'll see--I can be a little less serious than I am in the book.

Here's a sneak peek at the first of the "op-ed" articles:

Ten Ways to Tell if You’ve Been Abducted by Aliens

If you go by sensational stories on UFO websites and claims on UFO-themed cable TV shows, more people than ever before are claiming to have been abducted by aliens and taken aboard UFOs. The abductions are taking place around the world, and involve people of all ages and all walks of life.
And those are just the people who have reported such experiences. The late UFO researcher Dr. J. Allen Hynek estimated that for each UFO experience that is reported there could be as many as ten more that go unreported. Why the imbalance? Because many people who have had UFO experiences—especially extreme experienced such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind involving possible interaction with intelligent beings—are terrified to tell their stories. Some are afraid of being ridiculed by family, friends, co-workers, and the media, of course, but others live in genuine fear of reprisal by their abductors.
Famed UFO abductee Charles Hickson
Then there are those who are convinced for various reasons—chief among them an inexplicable incident of “missing time”—that they’ve had an abduction experience, but have no conscious memories of the event.
Are you one of these amnesiac abductees?
Exotic tales of alien abduction have been in circulation since the early 1960s, when New Hampshire couple Barney and Betty Hill claimed to have been taken aboard a glowing craft and examined by strange men from a distant star system. The Hills were, in fact, the first UFO witnesses to experience “missing time;” they were allegedly abducted along a highway while driving home from their honeymoon, and didn’t realize at first that they had returned home from their trip two hours later that they should have arrived.
Abduction cases took on an added element of menace in the 1980s after the publication of best-selling books like Whitley Strieber’s Communion and Budd Hopkins’s Missing Time and Intruders, all of which presented haunting first-hand accounts of abductions by alien beings. But, where the Hills’ alleged abduction took place on a deserted mountain highway, the stories told by Strieber and Hopkins, and soon studied by Harvard psychiatry professor John Mack, often involved terrifying home invasions by entities who stole children, adults, and sometimes whole families from their beds as they slept.
And the strange stories continue, like an endless succession of X-Files episodes that keep creeping into our consciousness and forcing us to reexamine what is real. In my experience as a writer and investigator of all things UFO-related, I have consistently come across tell-tale indicators of potential interaction with alien entities. Based on my own research, and on the evidence in some classic alien abduction cases, I have assembled a list of ten prominent traits present in alien abduction narratives. If any of these apply to you or someone you know, you might have been one of those unique souls to have been abducted by aliens.

1.     1) You have had more than one UFO sighting in your life
A great many UFO witnesses have had more than one such experience in their lives, and my five years of investigating UFO reports leads me to believe that those who have had multiple UFO sightings are at greater risk of being abducted. But, how do we account for this? Is it a case of the witness always watching the skies and waiting for them to come back, or of the aliens keeping watch on the “subject”?

2.     2) One or both of your parents have had abduction experiences
Alien abduction researcher and author David M. Jacobs has researched over 1,000 abduction incidents, by his count, and has found the phenomenon to be intergenerational. “The children of abductees often themselves report being abductees, as do their children,” Jacobs wrote in his 2015 book Walking Among Us. What’s more, Jacobs finds, there are typically at least one grandparent and at least one great-grandparent in the same families with the same abduction histories. This familial aspect of the phenomenon involves speculation that aliens regularly mate with us earthlings and give birth to hybrids, who live among us as regular humans.

That's two. The other eight will be revealed in time...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Little UFO Book Hits the Big Time

I'm feeling pretty darned good about where the book is now. We're 99.999% finished with the editing, the cover is ready to print, and all is going smoothly with the publisher. After only 4 1/2 years, this sucker is almost done!

We're now starting to plan the marketing and PR campaign, and so far it's been pretty fun.

We've gotten two fantastic cover blurbs. The first one is from Leslie Kean, author of UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record and the new Surviving Death:
"Mark O'Connell's compelling biography of lone wolf Air Force investigator J. Allen Hynek is a testimony to the complex nature of belief and its effect on the human condition."
 We've also got this from Jim Marrs, author of Alien Agenda and Our Occulted History:
"No serious study of the UFO phenomenon could be complete without a look at the life of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Mark O’Connell has done a masterful job of interweaving the life of this scientist, star-gazer, space pioneer and dreamer with an engaging encapsulation of the UFO phenomenon. This work is not to be missed."
So far, we've got two book signing events scheduled at local independent book stores:
Is this what our first alien contact will be like? I sure hope so.

Boswell Book Company
2559 N. Downer Ave.
Milwaukee, WI

Wednesday, June 14, 7:00 to 8:00 PM

The Book Cellar
4736 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL

Thursday, June 15, 7:00 to 8:00 PM

(Of course you can pre-order The Close Encounters Man now at Amazon)

But the really big news is that I'm going to be on Coast to Coast AM on the night of Sunday, June 18, from midnight to 2 AM Central Time (okay, technically, that makes it Monday, June 19th, but you know what I mean).

Plan ahead! Go here to find out where to listen to Coast to Coast AM! Or you can listen in on Channel 102 on Sirius XM Radio!