Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Burden of Proof and True Believers

The cartoon above is apropos of a recent discussion on the UFO Updates Facebook page, where a woman made a couple of wild claims about other people that could well be actionable for libel unless she could show that they were true. When Robert Sheaffer and I both asked her for proof that would back up her otherwise wholly unsubstantiated claims, she offered what seems to be the standard response from true believers (which, I might add, you rarely if ever hear from a skeptic when he or she makes a point): "do your own research!" 

Robert and I both tired to inform her that this is not how it works, to which she replied with something along the lines of, "DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!" I don't know what she has said since, because I blocked her on Facebook at that point. 

The take-away from this is as follows: when one makes a claim it's up to them to provide the proof that backs it up (particularly when your claim is potentially libelous). But in the paranormal "field," particularly with the true believers, we far too often see the fundamentalist religious mindset at work. They make wild, outrageous claims, and then they duck and dodge responsibility through various ploys, the most annoying (to me, at least) being the "do your own research" line. 

It would be sad if it wasn't so pathetic. 

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Craziness of John Lear

Has there ever been anyone in ufology quite as crazy as John Lear? Sadly, the answer is yes (William Milton Cooper pops to mind immediately)... but Lear would make any top 20 list of nutters. And yet there are still some people who take him seriously... which tells you nothing about UFOs, but a lot about the fringe elements of the UFO subculture.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"Jonathan Reed" - A Doctor of Fraudology

During the long and sad history of UFO hoaxers, frauds and hucksters, the case of "Dr. Jonathan Reed" is surely one of the most pathetic. The fact that there are still people who believe this con artist is amazing to me... but then so is the fact that anyone bought his phony act in the first place. 
As a film director, I know good acting when I see it, and I know bad acting when I see it, and Reed's 2000 appearance at the IUFOC is bad with a capital "B". A shameful episode in the history of a "field" with more than its fair share of shameful episodes, but one worth revisiting from time to time as a reminder of just how even the most obvious huckster can find an audience and a paycheck amongst those who are guided solely by their "will to believe."

For an exhaustive expose on "Reed," check out the good work of Royce Myers III at UFO Watchdog, who nailed the conman years ago.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 31, 2014

Phil Klass lecture to the National Youth Science Camp

A gem from 1998 - arch-skeptic Phil Klass talking to science camp kids about UFOs.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Miguel Romero on Transhumanism versus Transindividualism

Miguel Romero, aka Red Pill Junkie, is one of the most articulate and thought-provoking observers / thinkers active today talking about what might loosely be called the "paranormal." He reminds me quite a bit of the late Mac Tonnies (check out Miguel's recent appearances with Greg Bishop on Radio Misterioso - Part 1 and Part 2). In his latest, he addresses the idea of transhumanism and the idea of life after death. It's well worth a look... and not just because he references my own views. Here's an excerpt:
Canadian filmmaker & iconoclast thinker Paul Kimball has delved into this matter on several occasions, on both his book The Other Side of Truth and on frequent podcast interviews. On his latest appearance on the popular show Binnall of America (9.17.13), Paul made fun of how to many modern Christians, their idea of heaven would be something akin to an ethereal strip mall –with you & your family & friends all being there, enjoying themselves & living more or less the same way than here on Earth.

And even if you found Paul’s acidic humor offensive –in which case, I feel sorry for you!– it’s not outrageous to suggest that for many church-going folks, their expectations of an afterlife would involve the survival of their ego. And so, many Christians are awaiting the 2nd coming of Jesus & the resurrection of the dead, the same way Kurzweil hopes to one day bring back his late father to some manner of computerized existence.
What many Christians dread, Paul points out, is an afterlife in which their ego gets dissolved, but their consciousness becomes one with God, the way some mystics like Meister Eckhart or Henry Alline professed in their writings. And I personally feel the same could be said of most Transhumanists, even if they’d risk dropping their Google Glass at the revolting thought of being compared with those superstitious hicks, who still cling to the comforting belief in a deity.
You can read the rest of Miguel's column here.

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 28, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Tasteless Aesthetic of Ufology

We live in a world where, for better or worse, appearance matters. 

When a person shows up for a job interview, for example, they're better off wearing a business suit, or at the very least something neat and presentable, than a t-shirt with mustard stains on it and a pair of dirty sweat pants. 

Ufologists have never really understood this simple truth. Case in point - Frank Warren's website, The UFO Chronicles, which aggregates various news and opinion items about UFOs.

The design is the equivalent of the t-shirt and sweat pants I mentioned above. 

People in my business like to say that "content is king," and in the end they're right... but that only applies if your content is presented in a way that is aesthetically appealing. A website is like a job interview - if people are turned off by your appearance on first sight, nothing you say or do after that is really going to matter because most of them will have already turned the proverbial channel.

I find it most amusing that people who desperately want the mainstream to take them seriously have created an on-line presence that virtually guarantees that nobody outside their core fanbase will take them seriously. It's almost as if someone approached them and said, a la the infamous Robertson Panel, "hey, buddy, design a website that will make UFOs look as goofy as possible," and Warren and his fellow travelers said, "sounds good!" 

Memo to ufologists: style and substance aren't mutually exclusive.

If space aliens ever saw the way that ufology presents itself they would be appalled. Then again, I think it's safe to say that's true for most things having to do with ufology.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Roger Leir dies

Long-time "alien abduction" researcher Roger Leir has died, ironically in a hospital whilst awaiting surgery on his foot (Leir was a podiatrist). I always thought that Leir was one of the more dangerous of the UFO true believers, because he was conducting surgery on people and removing "alien implants." Anytime you cut into someone, you run the risk of complications, no matter how simple the procedure might seem. Accordingly, you don't do it unless you absolutely have to, an ethical and common sense precept that Leir routinely ignored with his "surgeries" on "alien absuction victims." While the hypnosis practiced by people like like David Jacobs and Derrel "The Alien Hunter" Sims is bad, Leir's implant "research" was far worse. The fact that Sims and Leir worked together for several years created a perfect storm of irresponsibility.

I met Leir a couple of times at conferences, and while on the surface he always seemed sincere in his true belief and could be very friendly and charming, I was convinced that he was in it all for whatever money he could scam out of people, and perhaps the attention that came with being a relatively big fish in a very small pond - witness his part in one of the craziest ideas I have ever seen in the UFO subculture, the attempt to raise money for a feature film so that the sale of the feature film could raise money for a serious UFO research center. 

As I wrote at the time in 2006:
"I have an FYI for Dr. Leir - the LAST way you go about raising money for a research center, if that is your true goal, is to raise the money, and then make a lousy, low budget film, which will almost certainly never turn a profit, and will in all probability LOSE money, as most films do these days. If you're really serious about raising money for this so-called research center, why don't you just raise the money for the research center?"
I then identified what I believed was the real reason that Leir was looking to make a film. "Here's another question," I wrote. "When the budget is finished (and who goes around looking for investors when they don't even have a budget yet??), how much is Dr. Leir going to take in producer fees? Other fees? Corporate overhead?" 

Of course, n movie was ever made, and no research center was ever established. How could it have been? As I said, no-one makes a feature film in order to raise money for a research center. But Leir no doubt pocketed some coin from the suckers willing to suspend disbelief and donate, and he basked in the glow of their support (I know, because I was there when he announced it at the International UFO Conference), so it was mission accomplished.

Leir will continue to have his defenders, and he will no doubt continue to be seen by some as a paragon of serious research, but that shouldn't come as a surprise in a subculture where convicted criminal Wendelle Stevens remained a leading figure until his death (Stevens still has ardent supporters). 

I know that we're never supposed to speak ill of the dead, but that's a social convention that shouldn't apply when dealing with someone you are convinced was engaged in unethical and dangerous practices, as I'm convinced was the case with Leir. I certainly wouldn't have wished Leir dead, but I won't mourn him either, nor will I pretend that he was something other than what he was. In the end my take-away from the news of his passing is this: while his friends and family will undoubtedly grieve, the people whom Leir was cutting into in an effort to convince them and others that they had been abducted by aliens will be better off without him. 

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 13, 2014

UFOs over Halifax on the night of the Shag Harbour Incident

My old friend Ron Foley MacDonald on set during production of my
most recent feature film, Roundabout, on which he was a co-producer.

Ron Foley MacDonald is many things – one of the best and most knowledgeable film, music and theater critics in Canada;  the senior programmer at the Atlantic Film Festival here in Halifax, Nova Scotia; an educator; a former musician during the heydays of the 1990s Halifax Pop Explosion who still writes songs for other artists. He’s also been a close friend for over two decades.
Ron shares my interest in the world of the paranormal (although perhaps not to the same extent). As Maritimers we were brought up with all  tales of all sorts of things that go bump in the night, from ghost ships to will o’ the wisps. But Ron has something I don’t – a genuine UFO experience of his own, which happened near his home in Halifax on the same night in October, 1967, as the famous Shag Harbour UFO incident (Shag Harbour is about a three hour drive along the shore southwest from Halifax).

Over the years Ron has recounted his story to me on a few occasions, and I think he’s mentioned it a couple of times on radio (he appeared for years on CBC radio with arts and entertainment reports), but it’s not something that has circulated publicly beyond this region, so I asked him if he would care to write up a short report of what he and his young friends experienced back in 1967 as I think it adds some interesting perspective to the Shag story. He was kind enough to oblige.
On the early evening of October 4th, 1967, I was seven years old. It was a warm early fall evening, with the light just fading, 8;00 pm or so. I was with my friends from the street at number 10 Sherbrooke Drive, Halifax, (next to Mount St. Vincent University) near what we called ‘The Pipeline’. We noticed something strange happening, particularly sounds first. All sorts of alarms went off, police, fire, air raid sirens, and this was the first time I had heard the short-wave siren as opposed to the older long-wave alarms.
We noticed strange lights in the sky, streaking over Halifax, coming from Dartmouth going towards Chester and the South Shore. From where we were we had a good view of the Bedford Basin and the Narrows, overlooking the City Dump and where Africville was or had been. 
The situation was something none of us – there were at least three or four kids all the same age – had ever seen or heard before. After a few minutes, it became too intense and we all scattered. I was so scared I remember, very vividly, crawling underneath a car parked in the driveway. After a while, I scuttled home, not telling anyone in my family what had happened. 
The next morning I distinctly remember the local paper, The Chronicle Herald, being full of reportage on the incident, including at least one story of animals having organs removed. The day after that, the paper withdrew its coverage and printed a story that it was ‘nothing’'. 
The incident was the talk of the schoolyard for some days. This was only five years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, so Air-Raid drills still happened a couple times of year, and the threat of a nuclear exchange lingered, although not as pervasively as in the early 1960s. 
This is my remembrance of the Shag Harbour UFO Incident, something that is imprinted on my mind quite sharply to this day. 
- Ron Foley MacDonald

Did Ron see space aliens over Halifax in 1967? Probably not… although who knows? But he definitely had a strange experience that left a deep impression on him, so much so that it remains vividly etched in his mind over forty years later. Others in Halifax and along the coast reported the strange lights as well, until they finally reached Shag Harbour late in the evening. Ron’s account is an important part of that broader narrative surrounding the events in the night sky over Nova Scotia on October 4, 1967 – a story that remains unsolved to this day.
Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Space Aliens

From the on-line comic site Poorly Drawn Lines.

I chose grad school... but I always thought enslaving a lesser species would have been a good choice too.

Paul Kimball

Richard Hall - The University of Colorado Project, aka The Condon Committee

In this outtake from Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings, the late Richard Hall discusses the University of Colorado Project on UFOs, aka the Condon Committee. Hall was a good friend of mine, and a diligent and thoughtful researcher with a wide range of interests, although he was best known for his work on UFOs, particularly with NICAP.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Paranormality of UFOs

Jason Gammon, a very vocal pro-ETH proponent, has left a few comments on a previous post wherein he decries the people who consider UFOs as part of what can loosely be called "the paranormal." As one of those people, I thought I should offer a few comments as to why Gammon is off-base.

Merriam-Webster's on-line dictionary defines "paranormal" as follows:

"Very strange and not able to be explained by what scientists know about nature and the world; not scientifically explainable."

I can see where Gammon (and others like him) are coming from. They want to be taken seriously with their die-hard belief that space aliens are visiting Earth, and they believe that wrapping themselves in the cloak of "science" will lend a veneer of credibility. But they're wrong.


Because UFOs are no more or less amenable to scientific inquiry than ghosts, or near death experiences, or bigfoot, or any of the other things usually lumped into the realm of the paranormal; indeed, in many ways I would argue that UFOs are actually less amenable to scientific study and analysis than something like bigfoot or NDEs. 

Gammon is correct when he writes in one of his comments that the ETH could possibly be proved, but he's wrong when he suggests that the proof can somehow be discovered by us. The only way that we are ever going to have proof of extraterrestrial visitation here, should it be happening, is if the visitors choose to reveal themselves to us. The idea floated by Gammon that perhaps they might crash and we could recover the debris and use that as proof is patently ridiculous (as I've noted before), and betrays a form of wish fulfillment that has nothing to do with science and everything to do with what the late Karl Pflock correctly called "the will to believe."

Until aliens reveal themselves to be the cause of the UFO phenomenon we are left with are a lot of interesting stories that may or may not be true, and that are by their very nature "paranormal" - very strange, and not explainable by what scientists currently know about nature and our world. If these aliens really are well in advance of us, then it will be a very long time before our science manages to catch up to them... by which time they may well have moved even further away from us. Gammon and others like him might be convinced that we know that someday we will turn ourselves into cyborgs / AI and travel out to the stars, and therefore others before us must have done it and therefore must be here, but they can't possibly know that... anymore than Joe Ghost Hunter can know that a "ghost" is the spirit of dead Aunt Mabel.

Gammon wants to pretend that UFOs are not mysterious (echoing all of the pro-ETH believers before him), which in a weird and very ironic way makes him no different than the very ETH-disbeliever that he so often rails against. Like them, he has his answer, mystery be damned.

Too bad for Gammon, because his confirmation bias has blinded him to the reality that the mystery is where the real wonder may someday be found.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Clear Evidence, Part I: Rendlesham?

I'm curious. "UFOs as something paranormal" believers always talk about the "evidence," and how it is overwhelming (and I use "paranormal" rather than "space aliens" even though most of the time "space aliens" is the go-to explanation for believers, but I want to be inclusive here). But on the best cases, where is the evidence that allows one to draw that conclusion? I don't see it... anywhere.

For reference, because many "believer" ufologists like to work with the legal standard of evidence (as opposed to the scientific), let's define our terms. We should be looking for "clear evidence," which Black's Law Dictionary defines as follows:
Evidence which is positive, precise and explicit, as opposed to ambiguous, equivocal, or contradictory proof, and which tends to directly establish to the point to which it is adduced, instead of leaving it a matter of conjecture or presumption, and is sufficient to make out a prima facie case.
Let's add the definition of "best evidence," which is the kind that should be used to establish clear evidence. It is defined as follows:
Primary evidence, as distinguished from secondary; original, as distinguished from substitutionary; the best and highest evidence of which the nature of the case is susceptible.
Combine the two, and you have the minimum standard that one should be looking for in order to support the "paranormal proposition."

Let's go case by case, and start with Rendlesham, which I discussed on Where Did The Road Go recently. What is the evidence that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something "paranormal" happened there.


Paul Kimball

"Where Did The Road Go" appearance - January, 2014

Something new for saucer fiends, as I took a little time off from shooting my new feature film to appear on the Where Did The Road Go show to discuss the Rendlesham and Roswell UFO cases in a not particularly flattering light... and the Shag Harbour case in a somewhat more positive light (at least as something interesting and mysterious). And other stuff...

Meanwhile, Seriah Azkath, the host of the podcast, just sent me this feedback he received on Twitter about my appearance, because he knew it would amuse me. 
"You take stupidity to an all time high talking about what UFO cases are more credible than others.Like all you debunkers You attack the person telling the story instead of actually providing any sort of actual evidence. Like retarded parrots You Do nothing but just puke out verbatim some scripted garbage that shows&proves nothing other than you can plagiarize you question Roswell&Rendelshem bc it happened "so long ago" yet you,like the vapid double talking idiotic lawyer you claim you are mention that the Shag Harbour case is a lot more credible bc and I quote : "It happened in the 60's&those witnesses aren't dead like Roswell". The level of hypocrisy in that statement alone should get you kicked off the podcast but I believe the following comment will win the case. You actually said having anonymous witnesses is better&makes this care more credible. My god who anyone takes you seriously is beyond me & just as a kicker you,as a film maker or whatever lawyer, debunker saying the guys from Rend. Forrest saw $ & thats what makes there story less credible proved you're most hypocritical thing ever.I have no prob with the other host but the debunking parrot does your podcast no favors"
For the record, I'm pretty sure I never said that having anonymous witnesses makes a case better because that's not something I would ever say (although I would say that having anonymous witnesses usually makes a case more entertaining because they are the ones who tell the craziest stories). Indeed, if I recall correctly, I was trying to differentiate between the witnesses at Shag which are not anonymous, and whose stories are relatively straightforward and grounded, and those whose stories are wilder but have chosen to stay anonymous, and who therefore can't be relied upon.

But I was definitely amused!

Paul Kimball

Flatwoods Monster in Nova Scotia?

Whilst on location yesterday shooting my next feature film Roundabout, one of my crew members took this photo. It's either a self-portrait... or the dreaded Flatwoods Monster! You make the call!! 

Paul Kimball

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Goose and Gander

A fairly good rule of thumb to live by can be found in the old aphorism "what's good for the goose is good for the gander." In short, what you would ask others to do you should be willing to do yourself, and if not, then don't expect it of others. That would be hypocritical.

Which brings us, yet again, to Roswell "researcher" Kevin Randle.

In his most recent blog posting, titled Rumor Control, Randle offers this gem:
There is a rumor circulating that now I have been retired from the military for five years, I am released from my obligations to protect classified material to which I might have been exposed. There are stories suggesting I will now be able to talk about experiences at Wright-Patterson and seeing the alien bodies (and yes, I have sometimes joked about this). These rumors are not true. Material that is classified as Top Secret is considered classified until properly downgraded and anything that I learned would still be classified. As one general told me so long ago, 'I don’t know what is still classified and what is not and I’m not going to talk to you.'
So... I’m not about to make some great revelation about the things I learned in the military.
So let's get this straight (not always an easy task when it comes to Randle): what he's saying is that even if he had been told something about UFOs whilst in the military (and I suppose we just have to take his word for it that he doesn't know anything, even though, as he said, he has "joked" in the past that he did), or seen something, he would keep it secret. Heck - let's forget UFOs: maybe he knows stuff, given that he was an intelligence officer, that some of us might think the public has a right to know, a la Snowden. Maybe he knows something about war crimes in Iraq, where he served. We'll never know, because he'll never tell.

And that's fine... except for the fact that Randle has built his ufological career encouraging other former military and intelligence personnel to come forward and blab it all when it comes to UFOs and Roswell (er... so long as they say what he wants to hear), and he celebrates those who do as the good guys whilst he has vilified those who don't, and the US government in general, for doing exactly what he himself says he will do with his secrets.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking. But as my friend Gilles Fernandez is wont to say: "that's ufology!"

Paul Kimball

Friday, January 17, 2014

Posthuman Blues, Vol. II - Now available

It's been my great pleasure over the past two years to go through my dear friend MacTonnies' blog and take what I consider to be the best and most interesting things he wrote and edit them into book format. The latest volume, covering the years 2005 and 2006, and with an introduction from our mutual friend and "Cabal" member Greg Bishop, is now available from various outlets, with an e-book version coming in the next month or two.

Volume 3 should be available by the end of 2014.

Paul Kimball

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Moment and the Muse

One of the questions that bedevils people who look into the "paranormal" centers on the apparent randomness of it all - from UFO sighting "waves" to the inconsistent nature of "hauntings" and even Bigfoot, which might not be a corporeal creature anymore than is a "ghost", it is impossible to predict when something is going to happen. 

While that might not make sense to an accountant meeting payroll, it makes perfect sense to anyone with an artistic temperament. Inspiration isn't like a television - you can't just turn it on and off at will. The muse and the mood must strike, at just the right moment, for the artist to really be engaged in a truly creative enterprise. Sometimes it comes and stays for a while, and other times it is much more ephemeral. Songwriters, poets, painters... they can all go through prolonged droughts where, for whatever reason, the muse just isn't there. Now, a good musician or filmmaker can still churn out decent work without the muse - a two-and-a-half star album, perhaps, instead of a five star one, or a solid if uninspired documentary (I've made a couple of films like that) - but they do it because they have to, not because they want to, and it's not really art. It's a widget.

For example, among my artistic pursuits is poetry, but it comes and goes with maddening randomness. I never know why the inspiration hits, but when it does it usually sticks around for a bit, and then it's gone. This past few days has seen the muse return for the first time in over a year, but for how long? I have no idea.

If the paranormal is really a form of artistic expression by an advanced non-human intelligence as I posited in my book The Other Side of Truth: The Paranormal, The Art of the Imagination, and the Human Condition (and discussed here a few days ago), then perhaps it operates in the same way, which would explain the apparent randomness of it all. Maybe the muse, and the moment, comes and goes for "them" just as it does for us, and that determines when, where, and what the advanced non-human intelligence chooses to present. 

Meanwhile, here's one of those poems of mine:

The sorceress glissades,
her symphonious beauty underscoring
a dance of ineluctable undulations
through which she weaves
a spell as deep as Mariana.
She exhales a siren’s song,
and with a single Tesla touch
coils around me like lightning -
I plunge into the swells
of a perdurable ocean of bliss.
In her embrace
I am ravished by
an amaranthine ecstasy.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, October 05, 2013

William Lyon MacKenzie King

William Lyon MacKenzie King, Canada's longest serving Prime Minister (1921 - 1926; 1926 - 1930; 1935 - 1948), and the architect of our social welfare system, was a devoted spiritualist and occultist. He regularly attempted to commune with spirits, including those of Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Wilfrid Laurier (his mentor, and a former Prime Minister), his dead mother, and several of his Irish Terrier dogs. He also owned and used a Ouija board, and claimed to commune with the spirit of the late President Franklin Roosevelt, his fellow Allied leader during the Second World War. His occult interests were kept secret during his years in office, and only became publicized later. 

One of the greatest Canadians... and a genuinely weird guy!

Paul Kimball

Some British Ghost Tales

Yours truly and my Ghost Cases co-host Holly Stevens.

When I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven, I read a short story in which a young boy and girl wander into an old cemetery at night. They decide to play a game of hide-and-seek and the boy makes the mistake of walking around the church in a counter-clockwise direction as he searches for a hiding place. Because the church had been cursed this caused him to become invisible, as if he had run into a portal and shifted out of phase with the universe or something like that. The only way he could get back to our plane of existence was by walking around the church in a clockwise direction which would reverse the effect. As I recall, the boy eventually figured it out and escaped from the trap, but not before both he and the girl were frightened out of their minds. Little did I know that three decades later I would find myself at a church in England where the truth would prove stranger than childhood fiction.

In order to broaden the international sales appeal of the television series Ghost Cases that I produced, directed, wrote and hosted in 2008-09, I decided that we would film four episodes outside of Canada. Our first choice was Louisiana, and we had the locations and the trip booked, but we were turned away at the airport by US Customs, apparently because they don’t like any competition for the dire ghost shows produced in the United States. Or perhaps they had read my Facebook postings critical of American foreign policy. They didn’t really give us a reason.

Fortunately, I had met a good bloke named Dave Sadler when we were both speakers at a paranormal conference in Altrincham, England, a couple of years before. At the time Dave had made the mistake of telling me that if I ever needed any help from “across the pond” all I had to do was give him a call. With our American trip now a non-starter I definitely needed help, so I rang him up. He was more than happy to work with us, and two months later, largely thanks to his research and connections, we landed in England to film the four foreign episodes.

Dave picked my Ghost Cases co-host Holly Stevens and me up at the airport, drove us back to our hotel in Congleton (a town about a half an hour south of Manchester), and introduced us to his fellow investigators from a group known as the Unknown Phenomena Investigation Association (UPIA). This  somewhat motley but serious-minded crew included Steve Mera, an experienced investigator who would join Dave, Holly and I for all four episodes.

Thus began a week of all around strange happenings, the likes of which Holly and I had not quite run into before.

The White Hart Hotel in Uttoxeter.

Our first stop was the White Hart Hotel in Uttoxeter, a location where a number of supposedly paranormal happenings had occurred, including the voice of a small child in the basement and a demon-haunted bedroom. Dave was very skeptical – he thought that the hotel manager might be pulling a fast one in order to make a few bucks by billing the location for haunted tours. However, during our evening at the hotel a room that we had locked off and left a camera running in was found to have a substance that was subsequently confirmed to be blood spattered on a shower curtain. No-one had entered the room.

Then the manager took Holly and I down to the basement to conduct a “séance” in an attempt to contact the little girl that people had reported hearing. I thought the exercise was a bit daft so I excused myself shortly after we began, but Holly stuck it out. Nothing happened and after about half an hour she and the manager called it quits. Holly, however, had left her tape recorder running, and unbeknownst to any of us at the time it picked up what appeared to be the sound of a little girl crying out “no” just after Holly can be heard saying to the manager that it was time to head back upstairs.

The Lion & Swan in Congleton.

Our second location was another old inn, the Lion & Swan in Congleton, where we were also staying for the duration of our time in the area. One of the stories about the Tudor-era location was that a painting stored in the basement was supposedly cursed – if anyone touched it, someone close to that person would die. This story sounded impressive – and more than a bit dangerous – until I actually saw the painting, which was a cheap 60s knock-off of a half-clothed woman.

As Holly, Steve, and Paul Reeves (another member of the UPIA) investigated other areas of the inn, Dave and I set ourselves up in the basement with “Caroline” (the name we gave to the woman in the painting). Not taking things seriously, we mocked the story of the curse, and then I reached over, paused for dramatic effect, and grabbed the painting. After a moment I handed it over to Dave. We had a good laugh and then continued with filming our part of the investigation. Nothing happened in the basement and the entire evening passed uneventfully overall.

When I wandered into the inn’s dining room the next morning for breakfast, however, I was surprised to see that Reeves, who had been quite excited about coming with us to the next location, was not present. Dave and Steve, who both looked more than a bit shaken, explained to me that Paul’s father had died suddenly the night before.

As Steve wandered off to tell Holly, Dave pulled me aside.

“Do you think…” he asked, and then his voice trailed off.

“No,” I answered. “Absolutely not.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Pure coincidence.”

“Right,” I replied.

Despite our dismissal, neither of us seemed completely certain of ourselves as we joined the rest of the team in the dining room.

After we finished breakfast we made our way out into the English countryside to our third location near the small village of Shocklach close to the Welsh border. At the end of a lane which ran off a deserted country road we found St. Edith’s, a small Norman church built in the 12th century, which makes it one of the oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Cheshire. Dave had been to the church dozens of times while Steve was visiting it for the first time.

St. Edith's church in Shocklach.

As we walked around the grounds Dave recounted some of the strange things that he had experienced there over the years. He started with a story that involved a little girl who seemed to move through time by running around the church, which immediately caught my attention.
A friend and I came to the site a few years ago. It was his first time, and he brought his young daughter with him. We wanted to talk about some things away from the prying ears of the child so we walked to the rear of the church. He lit a cigarette, took a drag of it, and asked her to go play. She ran to the opposite side of the church, and then as she went around one corner she automatically appeared around the corner closest to us, straightaway in an instant. I’m probably talking, for an eight year-old child to run that distance, about thirty seconds.
Dave followed up the “time slip” story with one about audio anomalies. He told us about how numerous visitors, including other members of the UPIA on a previous investigation, had heard the sound of horse’s hooves on cobblestone and the neighing of the horses, despite the fact that there are no horses anywhere near the church and certainly no road that would sound like cobblestones. When Holly asked him what he thought might have caused the noises, he offered the following theory:
There’s a report from the 1800s of funeral processions coming to the church. At the time, obviously, it wasn’t hearses but horse-drawn funeral carriages coming down the road.
After our walkthrough of the site I got the crew ready, set up the lights that we would need later in the evening, and then Holly, Dave, Steve and I began our investigation. As the sun began to set we split up and wandered through different areas of the large cemetery surrounding the church. Within a matter of minutes Steve saw Holly standing next to the church, where she looked out of sorts.

“Clear as anything,” she told him when he went over to check on her, “I heard… I heard the horse’s hooves.”

“You heard the horse’s hooves?” he asked.

“I heard the horse’s hooves,” she repeated. “I thought that was laughable because we had heard so much about them, but it was so clear, and so distinct, and so close.”

She was laughing, but it was laughter to cover her nervousness. She looked over at Steve, who was examining the surroundings, and said, “It’s very disconcerting to hear something that’s not there.” All that he could do was nod in agreement.

Holly, yours truly, and Dave Sadler.

The sun tucked itself beyond the horizon shortly afterwards, at which point things proceeded to get even weirder. I had parked myself on a bench tucked up against the front of the church where I sat scanning the night sky. There was no-one else anywhere near me. My co-producer Dale Stevens and the two-man camera crew were at the other end of the grounds filming an interview with Dave, and Holly and Steve were out by the car checking the monitors. And then I saw… well, here’s what I had to say ten minutes later after I had excitedly called the crew over.
So here’s the crazy thing. I wasn’t going to say anything, because I’m the skeptical member of the team, but I’ve been talking with Dale and he and I have seen the exact same thing at different times and in different places. Trained as a lawyer, as an historian, what I want is confirmation and now I have it. What Dale described, and what I’ve seen, I would describe it almost in a science fiction sense as if a door opened and a shape formed. It was totally black and surrounded by the night sky, which was slightly illuminated by the moon and a town off in the distance. As soon as it was there it was gone, maybe two or three seconds afterwards. What makes it really weird is that it appeared exactly over the spot where I was standing two hours ago, filming a segment where I was discussing Holly’s experience. The way my mind works, it was like a trans-dimensional door opening or something, full of blackness, as if the sky was totally blacked out.
Dale and I seeing the black void in the sky at different times and in different places set off a rapid-fire succession of anomalous events. First, the batteries in our sound-man’s equipment completely ran out of juice despite the fact that he had just put brand new ones in the equipment twenty minutes before. Steve also experienced battery drains on his flashlight; he had to change them four times that night.

Then Steve reported seeing some unusual moving lights behind the church. As he explained it to me later:
I was actually situated in the back of the church, along with an infra-red camera, and I saw this light appear across a tomb. So I went around the corner of the church to look for somebody and I couldn’t see anybody there, so when I actually brought it to your attention, trying to rationalize the experience, I thought that maybe somebody further down in the lower graveyard may have been flashing a light around and maybe somehow it had caught a reflection and strayed up to the top end of the church where I was.
We accounted for everyone’s whereabouts at the time, and established that none of us could have been responsible for the lights. Despite Steve’s initial attempts to rationalize his experience in the same way that I had tried to rationalize the black void he remained genuinely puzzled.

“We couldn’t replicate it, so I can only presume that it was something unusual,” he concluded.

It was at this point that I told Holly I had also heard the horse’s hooves earlier in the evening in a different part of the cemetery. As with the black void in the sky I think I was going through my own process of trying to rationalize it, and when I realized that I couldn’t come up with an explanation I decided to tell her.

“Are you serious?” she asked me with a mixture of anger, relief and curiosity. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

I started to explain off-camera, in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way, when I suddenly stopped talking and looked directly at her.

“Did you hear that?” we asked each other, at almost the exact same time.

It was the horse’s hooves again, and this time we both heard them for five or six seconds.

None of our cameras or audio recorders picked up anything anomalous that night. But those of us who were there all know that we saw and heard things that were genuinely out of the ordinary.

As Holly put it, “What happened to us that night at the church? I still don’t know. But we all saw and heard things that we can’t explain – it’s almost as if the whole night, something was playing with us.”

I still haven’t been able to come up with an explanation for the events that occurred that night at St. Edith’s church, or the previous evenings at the White Hart and the Lion & Swan, but I can tell you one thing – once the weirdness started to happen in Shocklach I made sure that every time I walked around the church I went in a clockwise direction.

Just in case.

Musical Interlude - Ornette Coleman, "The Shape of Jazz to Come"

There are a lot of people who just don't "get" jazz, just as there are a lot of people who don't "get" the paranormal. More is the pity for them.

Coleman is a favourite of mine, and on any given day The Shape of Jazz to Come is my favourite jazz album, alternating with other contenders such as Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis.

The day-to-day world we live in is so often the equivalent to the lowest common denominator pandering commercial-grade sausage-grinder pop we are force fed by modern radio. The world of the paranormal, even if it is just in our imagination, is infinitely more complex and sublime. 

It is jazz. 

Paul Kimball

Friday, October 04, 2013

Roundabout Update - 3 October 2013

Meanwhile, with a hat tip to the late Mac Tonnies, here is Drakaina, the newest member of the cast of my next feature film, the science-fiction mindbender Roundabout. She plays a supporting role as a "fantasy art muse" being interviewed on a late-night paranormal-themed radio talk show hosted by the main character, Leda Calder.

I have no doubt that Mac would heartily approve.

Paul Kimball

Death of a Dream... by self-inflicted wounds

Kevin Randle offers his take on the recent "Dream Team" imbroglio in a blog post that proves to me at least that he is as slippery as an eel and has the ethical compass of a kumquat. This is the opinion I have formed based on my own interactions with him, and his public statements and actions in contrast to his private ones. Others may well come to a different conclusion (it's a free country, after all), but in my opinion I was mistaken to ever trust him, or to believe that he was genuinely interested in the truth about Roswell. Mea culpa.

And I will remind people reading this who go to read Randle's non-mea culpa, where he bemoans my bringing up Don Schmitt's proven record of lying about a wide range of things in the past, that in the already published e-mail to me Randle wrote:

My dilemma, then, is how to tell Tom that I'm now out. I hung in there with the unilateral decision to invite in Schmitt, even given his history of lying (which, BTW, continues in some arenas, and Schmitt's grab for the spotlight to the exclusion of all others).

And yet here we have Randle in his "Death of a Dream" post chastising me for focusing on poor Don Schmitt when in fact he was doing the same thing in his e-mails to me. Sadly, he is more worried about hurting the feelings of a man he says is still lying to him than he is about calling a spade a spade and advancing the truth. As Lance Moody wrote in a comment at the UFO Iconoclasts blog:
The latest revelations show that Kevin made the following decision about Don Schmitt: 
1. I know you were a liar. 
2. I still think you are a liar because you are lying still. 
3. You'll do fine for our Roswell Dream Team as we search for the truth.

Precisely so.

Of course, the real issue goes far beyond just Schmitt. It involves the credibility of the entire "Dream Team" investigation, and in particular the now notorious slides that are allegedly from 1947 and show alien bodies (if you believe Anothony Bragalia). Randle claims to have been out of the loop on it all, despite appearances to the contrary based on the e-mails he sent me. Indeed, at the start of his non-mea culpa, Randle writes:

I freely admit that it appears from those emails that I was involved but the reality is that I wasn’t even completely in the loop. 
Well, judge for yourself just how much Randle knew, and whether or not he was "out of the loop" (and recall that in his previously published e-mail he stated that he had made his own inquiries, which to any reasonable person must mean he conducted an "investigation"). This is the text of the second e-mail he sent me, on September 6:
I got to looking at the documentation that had been given to me, and I asked how they had determined that the slides had been exposed in 1947. Was it chemical analysis? Was it some sort of measurement? How did they know?
I got back an email that explained some things that would happen to authenticate the slides which confused me so I asked additional questions. The testing HAS NOT been done. The document sent to me was a "proposed way to issue the statement." The date was based on the codes on the film, which I had said to anyone who would listen meant nothing because anyone familiar with the Alien Autopsy would know the codes. So, they hadn't determined with the slides had been exposed other than the film had been manufactured in 1947 or 1927 or 1967.  
Now the kicker. The man who owns the slides today has approached Kodak to make the tests, but we all know how that went with the Alien Autopsy. The experts can supposedly tell when the slides were exposed (though I wouldn't put much faith in that) and based on the chemical analysis should be able to pin down the date of manufacture rather than have a forty year window and should be able to tell something about when the slides were processed, again based on the chemical analysis. I mention this not as an alibi but so you know (as I know) that it might be possible to determine some of these things. 
The problems... well, as you note, as do I, there is NO chain of custody. I'm told that they believe they know who took the pictures originally, but he's dead, as is his wife and just about everyone who ever knew him... and that is a guess as to him having taken them. He could have been given them by something else. There is no way to know this. 
Oh, yes, I almost forgot... there is no indication where the pictures were taken. It was a morgue of some kind but when and where doesn't seem to be in the cards. There are a couple of signs in the pictures, but they are angled and impossible to read... another clue you say? Of course. (Clue to a hoax, if I have to clarify). 
I suspect the reason this has been bouncing around for more than two years is because it is a hoax of some kind. If the slides were authentic, I suspect we'd have a better chain of custody and I suspect the guy who had them would have approached someone with the ability to authenticate them and find him some big dough for them because, if authentic, how much would they be worth? Authentic slides of alien creatures... can you say "Millions."
So, yes, I'm thoroughly disgusted. I believe, at this point, the investigation is dead because it is not going anywhere and is badly tainted by the nun's diary story (thanks to Don Schmitt who has told me for two years that he knew where the diaries were but we haven't advanced on that front and I learned the original source who claimed to be a Special Forces officer was neither Special Forces not an officer). While the Ramey memo might provide some interesting results, I really hold no hope for that either.  
I believe, at this point, it is time to strike the flag and move onto other things... sad to say.
This was what I knew when I read Randle's statement to the Examiner that he had never seen the slides (true) and had not participated in their investigation (untrue). Now he tries to go even further and claim that he was "out of the loop." I didn't sandbag Randle - I only released the information when I realized he was not going to be truthful about either his knowledge of the slides nor his role in their investigation, and he was not going to honour his commitment to me that he would withdraw from the "Dream Team" as I had implored him to do in order to salvage his reputation.

No matter how much Randle tries to shift the issues in a classic public relations spin, the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" has imploded not because of malfeasance or betrayal by me or Rich Reynolds or Nick Redfern or anyone else who merely told the truth, but because of self-inflicted wounds motivated by a combination of greed, ego, and believerism. People will have to judge for themselves what to make of Kevin Randle based on this entire episode, but for me the answer is clear. We already knew that you couldn't trust Donald Schmitt; sadly, in my opinion the same now applies to Kevin Randle as well.

Paul Kimball