Tag: pseudoscience (page 1 of 2)

Roll Up Your Sleeves Folks: 271 New Vaccines in Big Pharma’s Pipeline

Gary Kohls, Green Med InfoAs of 2013, Big Pharma has had plans for the development of 271 new vaccines covering an array of diseases.  Into Whose Bodies Will They be Injected?“No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable…for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.” – President Ronald Wilson Reagan, as he signed The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, absolving drug companies from [...]

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Banned TED Talk: The Science Delusion ~ Is science way off about the nature of our reality?

The following statement has been posted by Tedstaff at blog.ted.com: "After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhitechapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel... All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to have crossed the line into pseudoscience.

Response to the TED Scientific Board’s Statement
Rupert Sheldrake
March 18, 2013

I would like to respond to TED’s claims that my TEDx talk “crossed the line into pseudoscience”, contains ”serious factual errors” and makes “many misleading statements.”
This discussion is taking place because the militant atheist bloggers Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers denounced me, and attacked TED for giving my talk a platform. I was invited to give my talk as part of a TEDx event in Whitechapel, London, called “Challenging Existing Paradigms.” That’s where the problem lies: my talk explicitly challenges the materialist belief system. It summarized some of the main themes of my recent book Science Set Free (in the UK called The Science Delusion). Unfortunately, the TED administrators have publically aligned themselves with the old paradigm of materialism, which has dominated science since the late nineteenth century.
TED say they removed my talk from their website on the advice of their Scientific Board, who also condemned Graham Hancock’s talk. Hancock and I are now facing anonymous accusations made by a body on whose authority TED relies, on whose advice they act, and behind whom they shelter, but whose names they have not revealed.
TED’s anonymous Scientific Board made three specific accusations:
Accusation 1:“he suggests that scientists reject the notion that animals have consciousness, despite the fact that it’s generally accepted that animals have some form of consciousness, and there’s much research and literature exploring the idea.”
I characterized the materialist dogma as follows: “Matter is unconscious: the whole universe is made up of unconscious matter. There’s no consciousness in stars in galaxies, in planets, in animals, in plants and there ought not to be any in us either, if this theory’s true. So a lot of the philosophy of mind over the last 100 years has been trying to prove that we are not really conscious at all.” Certainly some biologists, including myself, accept that animals are conscious. In August, 2012, a group of scientists came out with an endorsement of animal consciousness in “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness”. As Discovery News reported, “While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here.” (http://news.discovery.com/human/genetics/animals-consciousness-mammals-birds-octopus-120824.htm)
But materialist philosophers and scientists are still in the majority, and they argue that consciousness does nothing – it is either an illusion or an ”epiphenomenon” of brain activity. It might as well not exist in animals – or even in humans. That is why in the philosophy of mind, the very existence of consciousness is often called “the hard problem”.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness
Accusation 2:“He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example.… Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.”
TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”
In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html) does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards.
1926: 299,798
1928: 299,778
1932-5: 299,774
1947: 299,792

In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. Jerry Coyne and TED’s Scientific Board regard this as an exercise in pseudoscience. I think their attitude reveals a remarkable lack of curiosity.
Accusation 3:“Sheldrake claims to have “evidence” of morphic resonance in crystal formation and rat behavior. The research has never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, despite attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work.”
I said, “There is in fact good evidence that new compounds get easier to crystallize all around the world.” For example, turanose, a kind of sugar, was considered to be a liquid for decades, until it first crystallized in the 1920s. Thereafter it formed crystals everyehere. (Woodard and McCrone Journal of Applied Crystallography (1975). 8, 342). The American chemist C. P. Saylor, remarked it was as though “the seeds of crystallization, as dust, were carried upon the winds from end to end of the earth” (quoted by Woodard and McCrone).
The research on rat behavior I referred to was carried out at Harvard and the Universities of Melbourne and Edinburgh and was published in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Experimental Biology. For a fuller account and detailed references see Chapter 11 of my book Morphic Resonance (in the US) / A New Science of Life (in the UK). The relevant passage is online here: http://sciencesetfree.tumblr.com/
The TED Scientific Board refers to ”attempts by other scientists eager to replicate the work” on morphic resonance. I would be happy to work with these eager scientists if the Scientific Board can reveal who they are.
This is a good opportunity to correct an oversimplification in my talk. In relation to the dogma that mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works, I said, “that’s why governments only fund mechanistic medicine and ignore complementary and alternative therapies.” This is true of most governments, but the US is a notable exception. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine receives about $130 million a year, about 0.4% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) total annual budget of $31 billion.
Obviously I could not spell out all the details of my arguments in an 18-minute talk, but TED’s claims that it contains “serious factual errors,” “many misleading statements” and that it crosses the line into “pseudoscience” are defamatory and false.

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Thousands of years ago the gods came 

Thousands of years ago the gods came down to Earth from the stars to initiate a genesis. Human civilization was formed and reached a peak with Atlantis. A dark age began and the battle of Atlantean gods led to its fall. A secret brotherhood brought Atlantean secret teachings before the fall to Egypt. Through all civilizations and with inspiration from extraterrestrial guards the secret Atlantean brotherhood managed all political systems with an educational mission. The thrilling [...]

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7 Types of Non-Believers Who Don’t Need Religion

Valerie Tarico, AlterNetReligious labels help shore up identity. So what are some of the things non-believers can call themselves?Catholic, born-again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious o [...]

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The True Origins of the Ancient Astronaut Theory ~ Dr. Greg Little

With the current popularity of Ancient Aliens®, various bloggers and writers have attempted to credit the idea of ancient astronauts to some person who is, for one reason or another, a favorite of the writer. But the true origins of the modern ancient astronaut theory are deeply rooted in old literature attributed to “spiritualists” and mystics.

Emanuel Swedenborg—1749—“Earths in the Universe”

Many early philosophers are said to have thought that life existed on other worlds, but virtually all of the sources of these attributions are verbal legends and brief statements. In more “recent” times, Bishop John Wilkins (England) wrote in 1638 that not only would humans someday travel to the moon, but he also believed that the moon might be inhabited by beings. There were a few other religious leaders who also made the daring proclamation that life might exist elsewhere in the universe. But none of these early philosophers wrote about extraterrestrial beings coming to Earth and influencing human development. However, if any one individual is to be credited with truly shaping and literally creating the ancient aliens’ idea, it is Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) a Swedish scientist and mystic. Swedenborg was extremely famous in his time. He was well known by kings, queens, inventors, physicians, and theologians. Swedenborg served in various government positions and was well respected even after his later ideas about life on other planets were publicized. When he first wrote of life on other planets, Swedenborg was the head of the Swedish Board of Mines. He had his first reported experience with a “nonhuman” personage in 1744. During his lifetime he wrote more than 20 books and a series of books first published in 1749 began presenting the idea that other inhabited worlds in the universe existed and that beings from the worlds came to Earth.

Many of Swedenborg’s scientific writings were about human physiology, inventions, the initial concepts about brain neurons, and virtually all other known areas of science. In later years he became a religious writer and mystic. He became friends with Immanuel Kant as well as many other famous people of his day. William Blake, Arthur Conan Doyle, Carl Jung, Balzac, Helen Keller, Yeats and many others have written that they were deeply influenced by Swedenborg.

While he had written in 1749 about beings on other planets visiting earth, in 1758 Swedenborg astonished his readers by devoting an entire book to life on other worlds. He explained that beings from other worlds had been in contact with him for over a decade and they had physically manifested in front of him. He related that these beings came to him in several places and gave him information about the universe. In Swedenborg’s “Earths in the Universe” (1758) he wrote that the majority of planets in the universe were inhabited. Gradually he came to see the beings as spiritual beings who could take physical form. These spiritual beings did reside on other planets, but they could become physically real when necessary. Swedenborg’s works were exceedingly popular in his time and have been interpreted in several ways. In his writings, Swedenborg spoke of the beings on Mars, Venus, the moon, Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter. He also wrote that outside our solar system were many other inhabited planets. Some have interpreted his descriptions more as depictions of the “spiritual states” of humans as they would be on various planets. In some ways it is similar to what Edgar Cayce later referred to as “planetary sojourns.” While a few modern writers want to credit others for the earliest depictions of life on other planets and the idea that these beings had and were visiting and influencing earth, the fact is that Swedenborg was the first. He was also the first to do so in such detail. Swedenborg was, in fact, the individual who was mainly responsible for the start of the Spiritualist Movement and the many variations of it that followed. In “The Archetype Experience” (1984), I described Swedenborg’s ideas as well as the other ancient astronaut theorists that follow.

Early Science Fiction

Many people cite H. G. Wells (1897) “War of the Worlds” as one of the earliest examples of extraterrestrial invasion fictions, and it is true that it was highly influential. However, several contemporaneous and even earlier science fiction books turned the ancient astronaut idea into their central theme. “Loma, A Citizen of Venus” (by William Windsor, 1897) was one such book. In the plot, Loma comes to Earth specifically to influence a young girl and a physician in order to advance civilization. Another book “Alerial, On A Voyage to Other Worlds” (by W. S. Lach-Szyrma, 1885) describes beings from other planets who influenced the formation of Christianity. Another novel (published in Germany) was titled “Two Planets” (Lasswitz, 1897). The book’s plot involved the discovery of a Martian outpost at the North Pole. The advanced Martians even take some of the earthlings back to Mars. All of these books were very popular in their time. There were several other similar novels published on the same theme during that period.

One of the most influential novels related to the ancient astronauts idea was actually also a key source for the hollow earth theory as well as later ideas that Nazis were somehow linked to the supposed hollow earth. Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s “The Coming Race” (1871) revolves around the discovery of a technologically advanced civilization living under the earth in huge spaces connected by long tunnels. The underground society was formed by descendants of an antediluvian civilization. The beings living in the Earth occasionally ventured outside to influence events and even planned to conquer the surface dwellers. The people were telepathic, had the ability to create and destroy things through thought, and utilized a strange substance for power. In the 1960 book, “The Morning of the Magicians,” a book often wrongly credited as the fundamental starting point for the modern explosion of the ancient astronauts idea, the influence of Bulwer-Lytton’s book is apparent and even mentioned. “The Morning of the Magicians” was an influential book, but those knowledgeable of ufology know that the theory had already been fully presented.

One important note related to the ancient astronaut idea involves the book, “A Dweller on Two Planets.” The book was first published in 1905 and a few people have cited it as a “source” for some of Edgar Cayce’s material given in his readings. The book first appears in the Cayce material in a 1932 reading when Cayce was asked a question about whether the book was accurate. In his reply, Cayce essentially related that some parts of the book were accurate while other parts were not. A lot of the material in “A Dweller on Two Planets” is very similar to Bulwer-Lytton’s 1871 book.


The most curious of all books I encountered in my 1980’s search for the origins of the ancient astronaut theory was the “Oahspe.” For many years, until the late 1990s, there was a popular American magazine that directly addressed the claims made in the Oahspe. The Oahspe, containing over 900 pages in a massive, oversized volume, was published in 1882. A New York dentist, John Ballou Newbrough (1828-1891), reportedly wrote the book through “automatic writing” in 1880. The book was touted as a history of the past 24,000 years and was widely read. It was extremely popular in spiritualist circles. It is described as the secret history of Earth and it describes in detail the many extraterrestrial powers that have influenced the development of humanity. The book sometimes calls the extraterrestrials “angels” but makes it clear that they are physical beings performing the work of their leaders (called “gods”). In essence, the Oahspe is the ancient astronaut theory.

The Oahspe tells (literally) of legions of flying ships coming to Earth from other worlds to teach mankind in ancient times. Several hundred pages are devoted to descriptions of the “fire ships” that travel between planets and star systems—and their many inhabitants. Many descriptions in the book make it clear that there are “hundreds of millions” of these extraterrestrials.

“From the contents of the Oahspe, there can be no doubt. The gods and their legions of angels are flying around the universe in circular, disk-like ships. They are called fire-ships, star-ships, and dozens of other names. There are many inhabited worlds throughout the universe but the fire-ships are the vehicles of god and angels. Most of these are disk-like, but others are described as blimp-like and several other descriptions. The Oahspe reveals that just as we need ships to cross our oceans that the gods and their angels [physical beings] need ships to cross the atmospherean oceans between planets. The ships usually remain invisible because man would fear them if he were able to see them” (Little, “The Archetype Experience,” 1984; p. 32.)

According to the Oahspe, “early in man’s development the angels descended from the heavens in their fire-ships to teach man. They first raised man upright and then taught him to dwell together in cities and nations” (p. 32). In essence, the true origins of the ancient astronaut idea stems from Swedenborg in 1748, a series of novels published from 1871-1895, and the Oahspe in 1882. The Oahspe seems to be the first overt reference to actual genetic manipulation of humans by extraterrestrials. All of the subsequent literature seems to have been variations and expansions from these sources.


Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) is best known as the founder of Theosophy. In her 1888 book, “The Secret Doctrine,” Blavatsky wrote of the influence that advanced beings on other planets (especially Venus) had on Earth. In many, many ways the ideas are very similar to those of Swedenborg, the Oahspe, and several of the novels published before her time. Mark Sedgwick’s (2004) book, “Against the Modern World,” flatly relates that much of Blavatsky’s work was plagiarized. I have not looked into the claims of plagiarism to any extent, but I know that a lot of the ideas about life on other worlds in Blavatsky’s works are identical to those of the much earlier Swedenborg and the earlier Oahspe (1882). One of Blavatsky’s followers, W. Scott-Elliot, expanded a bit on Blavatsky’s Venus influence in a 1905 book, “The Lost Lemuria.” However, the Theosophical literature about Venus and the spiritual life forms on other planets is similar to that of Swedenborg who wrote the same ideas some 150 or so years earlier.

Ufologists’ Viewpoint on the Ancient Astronaut Theory

“The Encyclopedia of UFOs” (Story, 1979) related that the space-god cult had its origins in the Atlantis mythology described by Plato (circa 400 B.C.). It harkened back to a time when “gods came down from the heaven and consorted with mortal humans” (p. 14). Charles Fort is also mentioned as one of the early proponents in the text, but Morris K. Jessup’s (1955) book, “The Case for the UFO,” is cited as the first modern reference to the theory and the major book that interested later writers—who then took the idea to its popular status. It was Jessup’s 1955 book that jump-started all the other writers who followed and truly brought the idea to the masses. The famous book, “Morning of the Magicians” (1960) ultimately derived its basic material from Bulwer-Lytton (1871), Swedenborg (1758), and the Oahspe (1882) as well as from other writers who appropriated the ideas from these works for their own books. Many science fiction works, horror novels, and short stories from the early 1900s essentially took the ideas and spun a different version of the basic underlying theme.

A list in the encyclopedia relates that Blavatsky (1800s), Besant (early 1900s), and Fort (early 1900s), were three of the earliest and better-known proponents of the ancient astronaut theory. 1950’s contemporaries of Morris Jessup’s early writings (and the theory) included Richard Shaver, Desmond Leslie, George Adamski, and Harold Wilkins—all of whom are names familiar to ufologists. While Von Daniken certainly popularized the idea in ways few people could imagine, the encyclopedia lists 21 people who wrote about the idea before Von Daniken. But not all of the early UFO writers pushing the ancient astronauts idea are listed in the book. For example, in 1962 Max Flindt put out a small pamphlet titled, “On Tiptoe Beyond Darwin.” In the manuscript, Flindt wrote that humans resulted from “biomanipulation of the starmen” resulting in a group of hybrids.


The earliest true source of the ancient astronaut idea (meaning the person who presented the idea to the public in a widely read manner) has to be credited to Swedenborg in the time period 1744-58. It is clear that the ideas presented by Swedenborg were incorporated into to many of the spiritualists’ subsequent writings that mentioned the idea about life on other worlds and their influence on Earth. In addition, the Oahspe has certainly been an influence on the field. The Oahspe was mentioned in many of the early UFO and flying saucer books. In addition, the 1800’s novels about life on Venus and other planets certainly had an influence, although they may have also been a result of influences from Swedenborg and the Oahspe.

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Were UFO Occupants Responsible for the Strange Death of Zigmund Adamski?

ufology.wikidot.com ...

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WEIRD WIRED WORLD OF UFOLOGY by Timothy – “Mr UFO” – Beckley Let me tell you “radio” sure as hell has changed from when I was a kid. A lot of stations went off the air at sunset and your choice of music or talk was severely limited. You couldn’t choose from rap, or Reggie and classic […]

The post WEIRD WIRED WORLD OF UFOLOGY appeared first on UFOlogy PRSS Blog.

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New Report Compiles 25 Years of UFO Sightings in Canada

Unknown Object Photographed over Rice Lake, Canada ctvnews.ca WINNI...

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The End of Ufology: Why Serious Research Goes Underground

UFO Depiction


Recently, New York Magazine featured a thoughtful article on ufology, Mark Jacobson’s “The End of UFOs,” which presented a recap of the recent MUFON Symposium in Pennsylvania.
In the commentary Jacobson provided, I found the following excerpt particularly poignant, in light of a culture of belief that surrounds a subject about which, in pure honesty, I feel a number of its great adherents remain very “in the dark”:

“Fernando Garces-Soto, a wry, 60-ish Colombian-born music producer from Miami and fellow witness, was taking it more personally. ‘I’m spending a $1,000 to come to this. That’s a lot of money for the same old stories. This rehash, and more rehash. Probably next year I’ll spend another $1,000. What choice do I have?’ Fernando exclaimed, finding the existential humor of the situation. ‘I’m obsessed,’ he sighed. ‘I’m all messed up.’ "In truth, maybe we’ll stay “messed up” if we continue re-hashing and re-hashing, and hiring only “celebrity Ufologists” to come out and give lectures because they are “the big names in the field,” and hence, the ones who will sell tickets.

There are a great many brilliant thinkers out there whose names you never hear, and who wouldn’t sell tickets to a large-scale event; but what they have to offer might do more than just amuse or entertain… it might cause you to think.

Innovators in ufology today, who actually present the best case for the existence of a phenomenon which we don’t fully understand?
Arguably, many of the brightest thinkers aren’t names you would even know… and hence, from a practical business standpoint, you likely won’t hear them lecturing at large-scale UFO events. I think we all have to understand this… but we also must remember to try and overcome our reservations about listening to new voices in the field, whose work we know nothing about… just like we must overcome our feelings about what a UFO skeptic has to say on the subject.

In truth, we might learn something meaningful from each of them. Innovators in Ufology today, who actually present the best case for the existence of a phenomenon which we don’t fully understand?
In truth, we might learn something meaningful from each of them.
So is ufology “dying”?

Is there so little to this phenomenon that there is nothing to be studied at all? I think that’s hardly the case; the problem, instead, is that we have become hung up in the ideological extremes, and the cult of personality surrounding those who have (and I say this in appreciation of their work) dedicated their lives, and livelihood, to studying this mystery.

For a few of them, it has led to fame and notoriety… I wonder if they, after working so hard, and for so long, would really want people to shrug off new ideas and good research that may arise elsewhere, in favor of an autograph instead? It’s food for thought…
Still, I would argue that the newest, and best innovators in this field are “below the radar,” so to speak. You may not find them at conferences, because they don’t draw crowds; you won’t see them on television, because they aren’t sensational enough to bring ratings. You may not even read about their work, because some of them are applying technical thought to the subject that publishers wouldn’t find appealing on any printed page… but they are out there, and they are working.

I know, because I am familiar with many of them myself. In fact, I would argue that some of the best innovations in the study of unidentified aerial illuminations aren’t even generally accepted as what we call “UFOs,” and largely due to the fundamental (but timeless) misinterpretation of the acronym UFO–meaning simply an unidentified flying object–being taken to mean an extraterrestrial spaceship, which was never the intended use of the term.

Serious study of UFOs will always be criticized, but arguably, this is largely because its detractors are among those who don’t know where to look for the good research that’s being done.

These critics will continually watch the sensational television shows, and sit in the back rows at popular conferences and events, criticizing arguments that, at times, are so easily deconstructed that it’s easily likened to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. But what they are criticizing often isn’t the most meaningful, relevant, or up-to-date information on the subject; perhaps they should spend their time and criticisms more wisely, and go looking for a harder argument to deconstruct.

And as for the groups who continually prop ufology high atop a rickety scaffolding of old cases, fringe theories, and sensational claims, they should learn to expect that critics will continue to attempt to debase their arguments.

In truth, neither of these opposing sides seems to be interested in discussing the most relevant details pertaining to true anomalies which may exist in our world.

KENS NOTE: I have been harping for years as to why all of the UFO conferences do not have a showcase of UFO photos. I had a presentation of UFO photos at the Baltimore Conference a few years ago and I feel it was a hit. There are many original and real UFO photographs.
Thanks to Ken Pfeifer

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The Mysterious UFO ‘Foo-Fighters’ of World War 2

ufocasebook.com WW II Document Research (In search of "Foo-Fighters") By Andy Roberts (Originally published in: UFO BRIGANTIA No 66, JULY 1990) Every student of the history of UFOs knows of the phenomenon seen during WWII and known as foo...

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Ancient Aliens Giorgio Tsoukalos Lecture at Durham, New Hampshire ~ Parts 5 & 6 of 6

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The Sergeant Lonnie Zamora UFO Incident at Socorro, New Mexico

Oil painting by Chris Lambright based on photographs taken of the actual landing site. The witness, Sgt. Lonnie Zamora, has seen this illustration and stated that it is a good representation of what he observed. (thanks to UFOs at Close Sight for ...

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The real Men in Black, Hollywood and the great UFO cover-up

By Steve Rose

The Guardian

In a new documentary, US government agents claim they spent decades giving fake evidence of extraterrestrials to gullible ufologists. But why? And how can we trust them now?

Hidden among the avalanche of documents leaked by Edward Snowden were images from a Powerpoint presentation by GCHQ, entitled The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations. Images include camouflaged moths, inflatable tanks, women in burqas, and complex diagrams plastered with jargon, buzzwords and slogans: "Disruption Operational Playbook", "Swap the real for the false and vice versa", "People make decisions as part of groups" and, beneath a shot of hands shuffling a deck of cards, "We want to build Cyber Magicians". Curiously, sandwiched in the middle of the document are three photographs of UFOs. Not real ones – classic fakes: one was a hub cap, another a bunch of balloons, and one that turned out to be a seagull.
Devout ufologists might seize upon this as further proof that our governments "know something" about aliens and their transportation methods, but really it suggests the opposite: the UFO community is a textbook case of a gullible group susceptible to manipulation. Having spent too long watching the skies and The X-Files, it's implied, they'll readily swallow whatever snippet of "evidence" suits their grand theory.
If there really is a UFO conspiracy, it's surely the worst-kept secret in history. Roswell, Area 51, flashing lights, little green men, abductions – it's all been fed through the pop culture mill to the point of fatigue. Even the supposed enforcers of the secret, the "men in black", have their own movie franchise. But a new documentary, Mirage Men, unearths compelling evidence that UFO folklore was actually fabricated by the US government. Rather than covering up the existence of aliens, could it be that the real conspiracy has been persuading us to believe in them?

Mirage Men's chief coup is to land an actual man in black: a former Air Force special investigations officer named Richard Doty, who admits to having infiltrated UFO circles. A fellow UFO researcher says: "Doty had this wonderful way to sell it – 'I'm with the government. You cooperate with us and I'm going to tell you what the government really knows about UFOs, deep down in those vaults.'" Doty and his colleagues fed credulous ufologists lies and half-truths, knowing their fertile imaginations would do the rest. In return, they were apprised of chatter from the community, thus alerting the military when anyone was getting to close to their top-secret technology. And if the Soviets thought the US really was communing with aliens, all the better.
The classic case, well-known to conspiracy aficionados, is Paul Bennewitz, a successful electronics entrepreneur in New Mexico. In 1979, Bennewitz started seeing strange lights in the sky, and picking up weird transmissions on his amateur equipment. The fact that he lived just across the road from Kirtland air force base should have set alarm bells ringing, but Bennewitz was convinced these phenomena were of extraterrestrial origin. Being a good patriot, he contacted the Air Force, who realised that, far from eavesdropping on ET, Bennewitz was inadvertently eavesdropping on them. Instead of making him stop, though, Doty and other officers told Bennewitz they were interested in his findings. That encouraged Bennewitz to dig deeper. Within a few years, he was interpreting alien languages, spotting crashed alien craft in the hills from his plane (he was an amateur pilot), and sounding the alert for a full-scale invasion. All the time, the investigators were surveilling him surveilling them. They gave Bennewitz computer software that "interpreted" the signals, and even dumped fake props for him to discover. The mania took over Bennewitz's life. In 1988, his family checked him into a psychiatric facility.
There's plenty more like this. As Mirage Men discovers, central tenets of the UFO belief system turn out to have far earthlier origins. Mysterious cattle mutilations in 1970s New Mexico turn out to have been officials furtively investigating radiation in livestock after they'd conducted an ill-advised experiment in underground "nuclear fracking". Test pilots for the military's experimental silent helicopters admit to attaching flashing lights to their craft to fool civilians. Doty himself comes across as a slippery character, to say the least. "He remains an absolute enigma," says Mark Pilkington, writer of the book Mirage Men, the basis for the documentary. He found the retired Doty working as a traffic cop in a small New Mexico town. "Some of what he said was true and I'm sure a lot of it wasn't, or was a version of the truth. I have no doubt Rick was at the bottom of a ladder that stretches all the way to Washington. It's unclear to what extent he was following orders and to what taking matters into his own hands."
Doty almost admits to having had a hand in supposedly leaked "classified" documents, such as the "Majestic 12" dossier – spilling the beans on a secret alien liaison committee founded by President Truman. But he denies involvement in the "Project Serpo" papers – which claimed that 12 American military personnel paid a secret visit to an alien planet in the Zeta Reticuli system – only to be caught out as the source of the presumed hoax. The Serpo scenario, it has been noted, is not unlike the plot of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Does that suggest that the forgers lazily copied the movie? Or that the movie is based on real events and Spielberg was in on the conspiracy?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The place of movies in the grand UFO conspiracy is a tricky area. Depending on which theory you subscribe to, Hollywood's steady stream of sci-fi is either a deliberate exaggeration, designed to make the "truth" look unbelievable (the "you've been watching too many movies" defence), or it's a way of psychologically preparing the populace for staggering alien secrets yet to be revealed. There are at least grounds for suspicion in the latter camp. Pilkington points to the CIA's Psychological Strategy Board, founded after the second world war to promote US propaganda. Associated with the board was veteran film producer Darryl Zanuck. In 1951, Zanuck executive-produced seminal alien-visitation sci-fi The Day the Earth Stood Still, often cited as a government-sanctioned testing of the waters for alien contact. Like Zanuck, the film's writer, Edmund North, was ex-military, while director Robert Wise apparently became a UFO believer on account of discussions he had with Washington figures during the making of the movie.
Steven Spielberg is a less likely government stooge, though he has been obsessed by aliens his entire career, from Close Encounters and ET up to War of the Worlds and the last Indiana Jones film (not forgetting his producer role in Falling Skies, Transformers and, er, Men in Black). If anyone's paving the way for the big reveal, it's Spielberg, but, after 30 years of paving, we're still waiting.
Mirage Men finds an even more extreme example in the form of industry veteran Robert Emenegger, who claims that in 1971 he was approached by the Pentagon to make a film revealing "what the government really knows". The Pentagon's big lure was that they would let him incorporate top-secret footage of an alien craft landing at Holloman Air Force Base in the 1960s. Predictably, the footage never materialised but Emenegger – no less cryptic a character than Richard Doty – claims to have seen it, and still believes alien contact has been established. He went ahead and made his documentary, entitled UFOs: Past, Present And Future. Presented by Rod "Twilight Zone" Serling, it culminates in a rather anti-climactic "reconstruction" of the Holloman UFO landing.
In the cold light of the post-cold war, the evidence is starting to look pretty shaky for UFOs. Numbers at UFO conventions and clubs are dwindling. The UK's Ministry of Defence closed its UFO desk in 2009, and, like many countries, has declassified its UFO documents. If there was any smoking gun, you'd imagine it would have been found in our current golden age of leaks and disclosures – but so far there's only been more smoke. On a Guardian webchat in 2010, relating to Wikileaks' release of the US embassy cables, Julian Assange asserted that "many weirdos email us about UFOs" but he'd come across nothing concrete. There were references to UFOs in the cables, he noted, but mostly to do with UFO cults rather than UFOs themselves – in the same way that GCHQ's Art Of Deception slideshow references UFO cults.
If nothing else, the leaked GCHQ document tells us the Mirage Men are still out there, sowing deception and disinformation. These days they're more likely to be targeting suspect extremist religious groups, or hackers and online fraudsters. Meanwhile, recent claims to have "deciphered" hidden backwards messages about UFOs in Edward Snowden's interview only go to show how desperate the alien conspiracy cause has become.
There's something else ufologists are a textbook example of: cognitive dissonance – the mental distress of trying to hold two conflicting worldviews simultaneously. The term was coined in the 1950s by psychologist Leon Festinger, who illustrated it with the example of a UFO cult shattered by the unfulfilled prophecy of an alien visitation. Some tenacious devotees still refuse to accept Mirage Men's findings, says Pilkington: "If beliefs are strongly held, nothing can sway them and anything that appears to undermine them will just be absorbed and repurposed. So if you're really, really dedicated, this is just chaff to throw you off the trail." Pilkington himself has been accused of working for MI5 or being a stooge controlled by the government, if not the aliens. "If I'm under intelligent control from elsewhere then I'm unaware of it, and I'm a victim, and it would be against my programming for me to be able to prove it," he reasons.
As always in the conspiracy-theory hall of mirrors, it's possible to flip the hypothesis on its head: what if the lies and hoaxes Mirage Men reveals are simply a smokescreen for the fact that the authorities really do know secrets about extraterrestrials? What better way to conceal them than by getting "found out" in their disinformation tactics? What better way of throwing sceptics off the scent than disseminating the confessions of an ex-man in black like Richard Doty, in documentaries, and articles in respectable new organisations – like this one. Perhaps we're no closer to knowing if the truth really is out there, but we can be sure the lies are.

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