Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mac Tonnies in Beyond Best Evidence

In many ways, Mac Tonnies was the inspiration for Beyond Best Evidence. One of the things that we used to discuss frequently was the prospect of a sequel to Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings, and how it would be structured. My original idea for a sequel was to put together another top 10 list, with the best cases that didn't make the first one, including some of the more "high strangeness" cases. This would have taken it into different territory, but Mac was of the opinion that it didn't go far enough - that it had to leave the cases behind, and talk more about the theories and possible explanations.

While I agreed in principle, I explained to him that it would be a tougher sell to get that kind of film made by a television network, but he didn't relent - he said that I should make the right film, rather han the film that fit what some network might want "right now". I agreed, and put the project on the back-burner, always with the intent that if the time and circumstances were right, I would move forward with it as an independent documentary, with Mac involved from the beginning. He was going to be the narrator, bridging from his appearance at the end of Best Evidence, into the more theoretical realm that he preferred. It was one of the many projects we were working on prior to his tragic death in October, 2009.

Fortunately, Mac will still be an integral part of the film, and not just in the spirit behind it. I'll be digging into the archives of conversations I had with Mac about the UFO phenomenon over the years, and using them as narrative framing segments within the film. Mac was one of the few truly original and open-minded thinkers when it comes to the UFO phenomenon, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to place those views in front of the widest possible audience one more time.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Fork In The Road

Anyone who travels along the "road" of the UFO phenomenon will sooner or later reach a fork, where they they will be faced with two choices.

The first is to follow the path of old information simply represented in a new way. George Adamski becomes Steven Greer, Aztec becomes Roswell, and Donald Keyhoe's conspiracy theories about the USAF become Stan Friedman's "Cosmic Watergate".

This is the easier path to choose, because you know where it will lead. You can follow it on a map. Comfortable and well-marked out, it winds its way to a small village inhabited by fellow travellers, kind of like a hobbit town from Lord of the Rings, with whom you can sit down, share a good meal, and tell some stories to each other. It's familiar, and has the siren call of certainty.  

This path is all about finding a place to settle.

The second path is more difficult. It requires you to take a leap into the unknown, to embrace uncertainty, and seek out new information and new ideas. There is no map, no familiarity, and no promise of a comfortable resting place at the end of the road. But there is the possibility of so much more.

This path is all about a journey.

And therein lies the difference, because only by undertaking that journey can one ever really hope to arrive at the destination of true discovery.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 25, 2011

Carol Rainey and UFO Updates

I've been a subscriber to UFO Updates, a long-time e-mail discussion list, for a decade now. I cancelled my subscription once before, when I thought someone was poorly treated by the moderator, Errol Bruce-Knapp, and I've done so again, this time because of his banning of Carol Rainey as a result of her defending her recent critiques of Budd Hopkins and his "alien abduction research".

I consider Errol a friend, and wish him all the best personally, but this was a mistake. I know a number of researchers who support Rainey behind the scenes, including some very senior and popular ones, but they won't get involved publicly.

That's a shame. There is a real discussion to be had about the "alien abduction" phenomenon, and Ms. Rainey has been making a substantial, and documented, contribution to it, by way of her critique of Hopkin's methodology, particularly as it concerns the "Linda Cortile" case. But the Luddites of so-called "ufology" don't want anything to do with it, just as they largely ignored earlier critiques, from Dr. Susan Clancy all the way to Jacques Vallee and Kevin Randle.

In the end, UFO Updates is small beans in and of itself, but this says something about UFO research, which should be cutting edge, revolutionary stuff, full of new ideas and open minds.

In many quarters, of course, it is indeed exactly that - but not in "ufology", which has absolutely nothing to do with research into the UFO phenomenon, and whose practitioners have no understanding of what real research and discovery are about.

Like old men playing chess in the park, and swapping the same stories about supposedly better days, they are irrelevant to anyone or anything other than the pigeons who occasionally wander by to gather up the stale breadcrumbs they still toss to the ground.

Paul Kimball

Beyond Best Evidence

Join the team, and be part of the journey of discovery from the beginning!

Paul Kimball

The Doctor

It should probably come as no surprise to anyone that I am a major-league science fiction fan, to the point of uber-geekdom. Some of the best science fiction has appeared on television over the years, from the original Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica (the remake), and The X-Files to The Twilight Zone. But my choice for the best series, bar none (with an admiring nod in the direction of the wonderful Babylon 5), is Dr. Who.

Now, the Doctor has had his ups and downs over the years (that's what happens when you've been around as long as he has), but from the thrill of watching Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as a kid, to the absolute joy of seeing the series properly re-booted in the past decade, he's never disappointed. He's made me think, and opened my mind to new worlds and new possibilities.

Thus do I appoint Dr. Who as the official science fiction series of The Other Side of Truth, which seems only fitting, as I often refer to myself, amongst friends, as the Twelfth Docor!

And now, for the record, my picks for...

Favourite Doctor - The Fifth Doctor (played by Peter Davison), with a hat tip to the Tenth Doctor (played by David Tennant).

Favourite Companion - Peri Brown (played by Nicola Bryant), with a bow to Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper).

Favourite Villain - The Daleks, of course, with a respectful nod to The Weeping Angels.

And while I really like the Tenth Doctor's catchphrase of "allons-y", I have adopted the following as my own - "why not?"

Paul Kimball

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Evolving Consciousness, Empathy and Advanced Hon-Human Intelligence

Fascinating video, which raises an intriguing question - how might it apply to a more advanced, non-human intelligence (NHI) that may have gone through the same development?

What if, for example, an NHI is actually us, from the future (making it an advanced human intelligence, of some sort), where we have moved much further along in terms of empathic development, and where our "sense of identity" really has broadened to a communal outlook? Could "we" be trying to help our less developed selves along the way, to lay the groundwork for a truly empathic civilization.

Or perhaps the NHI, if it isn't a future "us", has developed itself into a truly empathic consciousness, and feels obliged to help less developed species to the same destination, without directly interfering in their society?

Possibilities worth considering...

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The UFO Dialectic

The whole idea behind Beyond Best Evidence is to examine the primary hypotheses for the UFO phenomenon (ETH, PSH, EDH, time travel, perhaps a couple others), and see which ones might work.

So, here's your chance. Anyone reading this probably has a preferred hypothesis. It's time for you to test it against a particular case, one that is well documented and still unexplained.

Take the 1957 RB47 case, for example.

Here are some resources to get started:

1. The synopsis of the case as contained in Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings

Feel free to use other resources as you see fit.

Post your thoughts here in the "comments", or on your own blog or website (although a link in the comments here would be great, so everyone can follow along). But I  encourage everyone not to simply say: "this is what it is". Rather, look at all of the possibilities, and measure them against each other.

In short, leave the "belief / disbelief" debate behind, and engage in a dialectical conversation, with yourself, and with each other. Challenge yourselves to look for the truth, even if at the end of the day that truth is a simple "I'm not sure" or "I don't know". The point is to embrace the possibilities.

And most of all, have fun with it!


Paul Kimball

Music and the Non-Human Intelligence

Dear Non-human Intelligence:

I'm not sure you're really out there, but if you are, and by some chance you read this blog, I'd just like to say hello by offering up with a sampling of some of my favourite music. I think that if you've watched us for any period of time, you'll have learned that music is our greatest redeeming virtue, and the highest form of communication we have (although we usually don't think of it that way). It allows us to express our individualism within the context of a shared experience. As for composers and musicians, well... the best of them are the best of us.

Reynaldo Hahn - A Chloris (as sung by Kristina Bitenc)

Mark Hollis - The Colour of Spring

The Beatles - There's A Place

Because my best work in film and television has been about music, I hope you'll enjoy listening to the music played in this documentary I wrote and directed in 2002, about cellist Denise Djokic, and pianist David Jalbert. All of the pieces they play are wonderful, but I especially love the Bach at 26 minutes into the film, and some of their commentary at the end about music, and classical music in particular.

Speaking of Johann Sebastian Bach, the following segment segment from The Classical Now, a television series I produced and directed in 2003 and 2004, features Canadian pianist Derek Yaple-Schobert playing Bach's Tocatta in E Minor.

I hope you enjoyed those. There are so many others that I could have chosen (you might want to add me as a Facebook friend, so you can follow along with my "song du jour" choices), but this evening these five, plus the documentary, struck me as music you might enjoy.

Who knows? If you are "out there" (or "in here", as the case may be), perhaps you've heard them already. Indeed, perhaps you have something to do with the creation of music, at least in some cases, by way of communicating with us, through the composer.

Just a thought.

All the best,
Paul Kimball

P.S. I've always thought that there is just as much being said in the spaces between the notes as there is in the notes themselves, but that's a discussion for another time.

Friday, April 22, 2011

David Eagleman, Possibilianism, and Transcending the Boundaries of Belief and Disbelief

Rich Reynolds at the UFO Iconoclasts has written a short post encouraging people to take a look at the work of neuroscientist / author David Eagleman, in particular with respect to his ideas about memory, and his philosophy of Possibilianism, and I couldn't agree with Rich more. Eagleman is one of the most interesting thinkers of our time. His book Sum: forty tales from the afterlives, is one of my favourite novels (although to call it a novel, i.e. a work of complete fiction, isn't quite accurate).

The podcast above contains an excerpt from Sum, read by the actor Jeffrey Tambor. It also has biologist Lee Silver telling the story of a physician’s ambitious 1907 experiment to discover the weight of the soul, a discussion of when people actually die with author and researcher Gary Greenberg and John Troyer, and a conversation with neuroscientist Adrian Owen about whether or not the dead can play tennis?

Consider it an Easter gift, from me to you!

As for Possibilianism, here is Eagleman explaining it in twenty minutes:

Three quotes from Eagleman in his lecture that pretty much sum up the way I look at both science, religion, and all things about the paranormal.

After you walk the pier of everything we know in science, at some point you reach the end of the pier. And beyond the pier is everything that we don't know; it's all of the uncharted waters, the deep mysteries that we don't have insight into yet. That's the real lesson that you get from science - it's about the vastness of our ignorance.

Science is really about the creativity of making up new hypotheses. Part of the scientific temperment is the tolerance for holding multiple hypotheses in mind at the same time. Now, what we actually do is we make up new stories in the laboratory every day, and then we go and we seek evidence. We gather evidence to weigh in favour of some stories over others. But it's often the case that some questions are too far out right now. They're beyond the toolbox of science, and as a result we're unable to gather evidence for them. And in that situation it's okay. Science is comfortable holding multiple hypotheses on the table. That ambiguity is accepted as part of the relationship we have with Mother Nature. It's part of the vast mysteries around us. We have to have that ambiguity.
And finally:

This is not just a plea for simple-openmindedness, but for an active exploration of new ideas... Look around the strange world you're in, and see if you can live a life that is free from dogma, and full of awe and wonder, and see if you can celebrate possibility, and praise uncertainty.
Fascinating and thought-provoking stuff, and an example of the kind of thinking that transcends the boundaries imposed by those who insist we should simply believe or disbelieve in something.

Possibilianism is exactly the approach that I'll be taking with Beyond Best Evidence, the UFO-related documentary for which we're currently trying to raise the financing, because it's the only reasonable way of looking at the UFO enigma.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Nature of Contact

Let's make three assumptions, for the sake of discussion:

1. There is life in this galaxy other than ours.

2. At least some of these beings are more advanced than we are.

3. At least some of these more advanced beings want to make some form of contact with us.

If these things are true, then which one of the following scenarios is more likely (as told by an alien named Zorg)?

Greetings, Earth people - my name is Zorg. My species was buzzing about your part of the galaxy in our spaceships - you know, the one that looks remarkably like something out of a 1930s science fiction pulp magazine - and we noticed your interesting little world. Now, my species really isn't that much more advanced than you are, technologically speaking, so we have to be pretty careful when we get to planets like yours, because your radar might cause us to crash (similarly, thunderstorms, your fighter jets, swarms of bugs, watching an episode of Two and a Half Men... all sorts of things might make us crash - hey, stuff happens). Anyway, we wanted to make find out more about your species, so we decided to borrow a couple of you, and run some experiments. Unfortunately, our medical technology is really no more advanced than yours, so the experience is pretty horrifying, I'm afraid. That's why when we send you back, we erase your memory of it all (plus, we're kind of worried that you might remember our technology, manage to duplicate it, and then attack us or something). Alas, some of you have figured out that you can recover those memories through hypnosis, which was probably inevitable, as we decided a couple of your decades ago that a small sample wouldn't work, so we've been "borrowing" people by the thousands (we've taken so many, we've actually lost count). Well, the point is that we're really sorry about it all - but despite the fact that my species has developed super technology that allows us to travel between the stars, everything else about us is pretty much the same as you guys, which is really crazy when you think about it, but there it is. It's almost as if you invented us! Furthermore, despite the fact that all sorts of things can make our spaceships crash (note: I'm not the only one from my planet here doing these things - there's Zarg, and Zirg, and Zurg...), including your pesky fighter jets and WWII-era radar, your governments can't actually do anything about us "borrowing" you guys. Like I said, it's weird, but I guess that's just the way the universe works. However, you can rest assured that we're not here to take all of your resources and enslave your women. Honest. We're just curious, mostly. Heck, you never know - our technology is so similar, we might actually learn something from you! Plus, you're really tasty... whoops! I've said too much!

Hello. While my species doesn't really have "names" as you comprehend them, you may call me "Zorg". We find your species very interesting, at least from an anthropological point of view, so we decided to make contact, many thousand of your "years" ago (memo to Earthlings - your linear concept of time is extremely quaint, but then you're an extremely quaint species, which is why we like you). We have found it best to present ourselves in ways that fit in with the cultural norms of your time. Accordingly, we've actually been known by many names over the time we've been in contact with you, and we have appeared in many forms (the burning bush was my favourite, with the UFO meme a close second). We do this using a technology that is far, far beyond your comprehension. Your species is still confined to your physical reality, or at least what you perceive as "reality", but we operate on different "levels". I guess the best way to explain it to you is that when we make contact, we don't do it in what you would consider the literal sense, but rather in a more figurative way, using what you call dreams, and the subconscious, and... well, it all gets rather complicated, I'm afraid. Suffice it to say, we're far more interested in the mind and spirit than the body (that's what happens when you get to this level of development as a species), and so that's where we make contact. In a sense, we "speak" to you, across the vastness of space. The great thing about this form of communication is that it allows us to participate in your development, and slowly help guide you to a greater level of understanding, not about technology, but about yourselves. When you've been around as long as we have, that's what really matters. I have to admit that it's been a rough haul, but some of you seem to "get it" from time to time (two of my favourites have been Henry Alline and Hildegard of Bingen), and as a result we haven't abandoned the effort. After all, we have the "time" (some of you will know what I mean by that). Someday, our hope is that all of you will be able to understand and accept us, but that day is far in the future.
Now, which one of these two scenarios makes the most sense?

The first one represents the "alien abduction / nuts-and-bolts flying saucer" meme that has been prevalent for the past sixty years (abductions for a somewhat shorter time period).

The second one represents, to some degree at least, the "contactee" version of events, placed within the context of long-term interaction by humans with an advanced, non-human, probably extraterrestrial intelligence.

To me, the "abductee / flying saucer" scenario is the result of a "pre-Copernican" way of thinking that places us at the center of events, and imagines any advanced intelligence we may encounter as more or less us, with slightly better technology. The "contactee" scenario is far more likely, in my opinion - indeed, of the two, it is the only one that I believe might actually have happened. It takes into account the wide range of described encounters with a non-human intelligence throughout human history, and provides a reasonable narrative by way of explanation. It makes us part of the story, but not the center of the story. It may be true, or it may not be true, but it is a better fit for the evidence than the first scenario.

This is why I am convinced that there is more to be learned from studying the "contactee" scenario of "alien" interaction with humanity, than the "abduction" scenario. When done within the context of a bigger picture, which includes all forms of possible encounters, the contactees might actually provide clues to the nature of any non-human intelligence we could be dealing with. By contrast, the alien abduction / flying saucer meme, as an answer in and of itself (which is how it is presented by its proponents), has not, and will not, provide anything other than fodder for B-grade science fiction films and novels.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Time Tunnel, Vol. I

A new feature - a look back at bits of UFO-related history, in a series I'm calling The Time Tunnel, after one of my favourite sci-fi shows when I was a kid.

In this first instalment, the National Enquirer from 1968 - a time when enquiring minds really did want to know!

Sadly, the great Bobby Kennedy was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan just over two months after this issue hit the newsstands.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wilbert Smith and Otis Carr

One of the more imaginative and successful con-men in flying saucer history was Otis T. Carr, who managed to dupe more than a few people in the 1950s with his claims of free energy technology, until he was finally convicted in 1961 of "the crime of selling securities without registering the same" in Oklahoma (he eventually served 14 months in prison). Carr passed away in 1982, and although he is largely forgotten today, he still has a few acolytes - while speaking at the 2007 Retro-Con at the Integratron in Landers, California, I shared the bill with Ralph Ring, who once worked with Carr and still professes to believe that Carr was a genius, or something like that.

Wilbert Smith, like many others within the Contactee movement in the 1950s, took Carr seriously, at least for a time. Eventually, however, Smith soured on Carr when he realized that what Carr was selling was nothing but a load of hot air. Here is just a glimpse of the interaction between the two - Carr was clearly interested in using Smith's connections and credibility as a real engineer in order to bolster his own claims, in much the same way as Steven Greer would later appear on the same stage as men like Stan Friedman or John Mack, and look for a similar "rub of authenticity".

The correspondence after the failed Carr test is with contactee David Middleton, with whom Smith maintained a regular correspondence.

Smith was certainly open-minded, but while he was willing to give Carr the benefit of the doubt at first, even he could see through Carr's bogus claims when he had a closer look at them.

None of this stopped him from making his own claims of contact with the "boys topside". So then the question remains - was he just a Canadian version of Otis Carr, was he delusional, or was there possibly something real going on with him?

Paul Kimball

The Golden Age of the Saucer 'Zines

We live in an amazing world of advanced communication, with the Internet and "smart phones" and so many other tools, but there is something missing - heart, and maybe even soul. I'm old enough to remember a time before all of this new-fangled technology, wondrous though it may be, when people actually published things and sent them along in the mail, and when individuals actually took the time to write letters, and chose their words carefully, as opposed to the verbal diarrhea we experience today on chat forums, e-mails and the like. It might not have been a kinder, or gentler era, but it was definitely more... civilized, and meaningful; the cultural difference between an Ingmar Bergman film, and a Michael Bay movie.

Back in the early years of flying saucerdom, even before my time, there were myriad flying saucer 'zines that various people and UFO groups produced, sometimes for an issue or two, and sometimes for runs of months or even years. Some were funny, while most were serious (sometimes too serious, and therefore  unintentionally amusing as a result). Some had a pseudo-scientific bent, while others were of a spiritual, quasi-religious outlook. All of them helped build a community of real people who, whatever we might think of them, were more human and therefore more interesting than the "community" of avatars and pseudonyms that we have today. James Moseley's "Saucer Smear" is one that remains, a charming, curmudgeonly touchstone of a bygone era. Here are a couple of examples of others, long gone.

The first one, "Orbit", is from the United Kingdom...

The second one, "The Scientific Approach to Cosmic Understanding", was from new Zealand.

As we check our e-mail, or Facebook, or Twitter, and then maybe read the latest on-line PDF 'zine or listen to the latest podcast on our portable "device", let's spare a moment to remember, with fondness and respect, the golden age of the saucer 'zines. We shall not see their like again, and we are poorer for it.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beyond Best Evidence - update

Like the Boston Red Sox, the community fundraising campaign for the documentary Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma that Tim Binnall and I started a couple of weeks ago has gotten off to a slow start (many thanks to all of those folks who have already made generous contributions). The film is a sequel to my 2007 documentary, Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings - where that film looked at the "what" of the UFO phenomenon, the new film will examine the "how", "where", "who" and "why" questions.

I have to admit that while many people in my industry have embraced the concept of community fundraising, largely because of the media consolidation which has squeezed small and mid-sized companies out of the traditional financing models and forced them to look for new and innovative ways to raise the funding required to make a film, I was a bit apprehensive about using it for this new film.

But Beyond Best Evidence is a film that I believe should be made, because I think we need an informed and intelligent discussion of all of the possible explanations for the UFO phenomenon, and we just haven't had that yet. I've managed to make all of my previous UFO-related films under the traditional system (pre-license from a broadcaster, with various government investment and tax credits), but things have changed since 2007 in terms of the kind of programming that is getting funded in the traditional system, and Beyond Best Evidence is a film that requires a new way of getting it done, because it doesn't fit the "reality TV" box that the networks are looking for these days. In short, it requires a community of people who believe that the project has merit, and want to help make it happen outside the mainstream system, at whatever level they can contribute.

So, Tim and I are asking for your help to make this film happen. In return, we'll put together a groundbreaking film that draws on our 20 years of combined experience dealing with the UFO phenomenon and the media. That's our guarantee to you, because that's our vision, and that's how we roll!

Paul Kimball

P.S. If anyone has any questions about Beyond Best Evidence, feel free to contact me directly at

Before Stan Friedman, there was...

... Frank Edwards!

For the story of how Frank Edwards is directly responsible for Stan's introduction to the UFO subject, see my film Stanton T. Friedman is Real.

Paul Kimball

Gesner to Smith: Flying Saucer photo!

As I make my way through the Wilbert Smith files, I've come across this envelope and enclosure from contactee Harry Gesner, with whom Smith maintained a very cordial correspondence in the 1950s.

My good friend Greg Bishop, an afficianado of all things related to the Contactees, will no doubt be amused. For my part, I look at it and think to myself that it was a simpler, and more charming, time period.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kevin Smith Show - tonight!

Just a reminder - I'm on the Kevin Smith Show tonight, 10 pm to Midnight EST.

Paul Kimball

Strangeness in Sackville - 1973

A report from Sackville, New Brunswick, in 1973:

I know the town well - even when I spent a couple of weeks there every summer in the mid to late 1980s as an instructor at the Atlantic Model United Nations Seminar held at Mt. Allison University, it was definitely still a relatively sober and conservative place... although I never heard anyone talk of seeing a UFO.

Just one of many sightings in the Maritime Provinces over the years.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hottel Memo

I weigh in on the ufological story du jour in a piece I was interviewed for in today's International Business Times.
The Hottel Memo: Why Some Believe It
By Jesse Emspak

April 12, 2011 11:19 PM GMT

A memo written sixty years ago has created a minor storm as some take it as proof that the government is covering up the existence of aliens. To some, it's more interesting in the way it shows why people believe things.

The saucer prop used in the 1951 film "The Day The Earth Stood Still" is pictured here. A recently publicized memo from the FBI is seen by some as proof of alien visitations.

The memo was written by Guy Hottel, special agent in charge of the Washington field office. It describes an "air force investigator" who said another person reported finding a crashed spacecraft in New Mexico. The informant (whose name is redacted) also said that alien bodies were found in it. The informant says that the craft was disabled by "high powered radar" in the area.

Paul Kimball, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based documentary filmmaker who has done extensive research on the UFO phenomenon, calls the furor surrounding the memo - billed by news outlets such as the Daily Mail as proof of a government cover-up - as interesting to sociologists as it is to people interested in aliens.

He says one reason that such documents from the 1950s engender such interest is precisely that people were afraid at that time. "It was a fearful society," he said. "The cold war was just beginning."

Another reason people tend to believe in government conspiracies, he said, is that in the years since there have been very real instances of the U.S. government attempting to cover things up, or fool the public. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which precipitated the Vietnam War, is just one example. The Watergate break-in and subsequent revelations only served to make such paranoia seem even more reasonable.

Kimball added that this does not mean that governments don't cover things up or engage in conspiracies - just that they are usually much less elaborate than in popular depictions.

The Hottel memo, he said, is probably the result of a hoax. The memo itself surfaced decades ago, in 1977. But the hoax began decades earlier.

The Hottel memo was the end of a long chain of tale-telling. The memo repeats a story from the Wyandotte Echo, a legal newspaper in Kansas City, Kansas in January of 1950. An Air Force investigator read the story (and pasted into a memo himself. Such practices were common in the days before scanning documents was possible and memos had to be typed out). He then sent it on to Hottel.

The news story draws from the account of a Rudy Fick, a local used car dealer. Fick got the story from a two men, I. J. Van Horn and Jack Murphy, who said they got the story from a man named "Coulter" -- actually a radio station advertising manager named George Koehler. Koehler got the story from Silas Newton. Kimball said that a combination of his own research and others has established pretty well that the unnamed informant is Newton himself.

Silas Newton was a con man, who had a partner, Leo A. Gebauer. Newton and Gebauer were peddling "doodlebugs" -- devices that could supposedly find oil, gas, gold, or anything else that the target of the con was interested in finding. The two claimed that their doodlebugs were based on alien technology.

Ben Bradford, a New Mexico-based researcher who writes for the Skeptical Inquirer, also said the informant was probably Newton, who told his story to as many people as he could. He said the big question that arises, assuming the alien story was true, is where the spaceships or alien bodies are. "A conspiracy theorist will always say they covered it up," he said. "But you have to figure out what to do with three 50-foot long spaceships."

When the original scam was hatched, Newton and Gebauer went to someone who was predisposed to believe the story, a gossip columnist named Frank Scully. "You wouldn't go to Edward R. Murrow with something like this," Kimball said. Kimball studied Scully's background, and found he was a man with a strong distrust of government generally. A conspiracy story would naturally attract him - and it did, resulting in a book.

Kimball adds that there really are UFO cases worth investigating. But they are often drowned out by hoaxes like the one that resulted in the Hottel memo.

Kimball notes that the combination of a fearful society, and the need for an ordered world, is partly what drives both believers and non-believers. (He says he is neither). Conspiracy theorists, he said, need to have some way of ordering the world. He likens it to the 9/11 truth movement, which posits conspiracies that would require thousands of people to all keep silent. "They are the kind of folks who can't believe that bad things happen to good people," he said. "So there has to be a conspiracy."
The Aztec hoax - Ufology's Dracula.

If there is an afterlife, I have no doubt that Silas Newton is having a good laugh at it all.

Paul Kimball

Finding the Facts in the Strangest Places...

From the National Enquirer in 1977:

While I would never claim that the Enquirer has ever been a paragon of responsible journalism, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and the Enquirer, particularly in the 1970s, did include some solid reportage on the UFO phenomenon (mixed in with more sensationalistic and lurid material). The article about the Condon Report shown above is a good example, and particularly interesting given the comments of former committee members - and the failure of the "mainstream media" to provide a more balanced account of the Condon Report in the years since.

Paul Kimball

Kevin Smith Show - April 13th

A programming note - I'll be on The Kevin Smith Show tomorrow night, April 13th, from 10 pm to Midnight EST, to discuss Best Evidence, Top 10 UFO Sightings, Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma, Ghost Cases... and anything else that pops up. Feel free to call in!

Paul Kimball

Why The Contactees Still Matter

There has always been an undertone of spirituality where the UFO phenomenon is concerned, particularly the extraterrestrial "space brother" explanation from the 1950s.

Here's an example from 1957:

In many ways, it's easy to dismiss this kind of thing completely, and most people today do exactly that. To do so is a mistake, however, for two reasons.

First, as my good friends Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop have stated over the years, the contactees might not have anything to tell us about the true nature of the UFO phenomenon (more on that below), but they do have a lot to tell us about the some of the people who are attracted to the subject. The same dynamics that were at work in the 1950s remain at work today - in a different guise perhaps, but still there nonetheless. The "sociology of the saucers" is a fascinating, and overlooked, aspect of modern American cultural history.

Second, and more important, is the possibility that at least some of the contactees had an actual encounter with a non-human intelligence. Sure, there were hoaxers, like George Adamski, but those types permeate all forms of human activity (Bernie Madoff pops to mind, in a different and more modern context). Perhaps nowhere has this been more true than in humanity's quest for "spiritual" knowledge (19th century America was rife with religious charlatans, for example), which in many respects lies at the core of people's fascination with the UFO subject - that search for "something more". 

To dismiss the experiences of all contactees simply because a number of the better-known ones were con-men is a mistake. They may in fact still have something to teach us about the nature of the UFO phenomenon, if we are willing to look deeper into the experiences as reported, and ponder what they may mean.

Paul Kimball

Reassessing Wilbert Smith

Over the years, I've had a great deal to say about Wilbert Smith, most of it negative, but I've been reviewing the Smith files and materials contained at the National Archives of Canada over the past couple of years, and I've reassessed my opinion of Smith, at least in part. While I'm still convinced that he overemphasized his role in Canada's official investigations of the UFO phenomenon in the early 1950s, I am now much more sympathetic to his personal journey, and the possibility that he may have had actual contact with a non-human intelligence of some sort (or, as he called it, "the boys topside").

I'll be writing a great deal more about my reassessment of Smith later this year, but for the time being, I leave you with this correspondence between Keyhoe and Smith from 1952 - a small piece of UFO history.

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 08, 2011

Ghost Dating

An outtake from the television series Ghost Cases, where I scheme about how to get a date (or two) with a couple of ghostly spinsters in a supposedly haunted room in the historic Waverley Inn in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Other Side of Paul - musical edition

All work and no play makes for a dull Paul... or something like that. Life can't be just about work, and fundraising, and all of those important things - one needs to have other interests as well. Fortunately, I have plenty, including music. My old band, Tall Poppies, is reforming after 17 years for a reunion gig and a new album in the fall, which is very exciting. As part of the reunion process, we're bouncing song demos back and forth. Here's one I wrote, sent a version to Mike Trainor in New England, and received a much better demo in return.

I remain the only guy on the planet who would write a song about unrequited love inspired by David Beatty, Lord Nelson, and Ingrid Bergman... more or less.

Now... back to work!

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dr. David Clarke to appear in Beyond Best Evidence

I'm happy to announce that one of my favourite UFO researchers, Dr. David Clarke, has agreed to appear in Beyond Best Evidence to discuss the psychosocial hypothesis, and the UFO phenomenon in general.

David has done excellent work over the years, particularly in researching British UFO cases, and government files. I look forward to finally meeting him in person, talking about UFOs, and then sharing a few pints!

Paul Kimball

Friedman, Randle in Beyond Best Evidence

An update on the Beyond Best Evidence front, "casting" department:

My good friends Stan Friedman and Kevin Randle have signed on to appear in the film as the proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Having worked with them both on other films in the past, but not since 2006 (when I interviewed Stan for Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings), it will be great to work with them again, and get their insights on why they think the ETH is a valid explanation for at least some UFO cases.

More "casting" news as it becomes available.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 04, 2011

UFOs = Holographs?

Rich Reynolds has raised an interesting idea at his blog UFO Iconoclasts which deserves wider consideration, not just because it may be related to the UFO phenomenon, but because it may relate to our very existence.

An excerpt:
Let us assume that what are seen in the skies, sometimes – not the mistaken Earthly aircraft or misperceived meteorological manifestations – may be images produced by computers, or computers themselves... What we're porposing here is that some UFO sightings may be virtual realities and some may actually involve computers (machines) of a quasi-tangible nature programmed to intersect and interact with humans.
You can read the full article (with a link to a thought-provoking second article) at UFOs: The Computer Model.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Beyond Best Evidence - IndieGoGo campaign has launched

The fundraising campaign for Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma, launched today. A co-production between Tim Binnall and yours truly, the film is a sequel to my 2007 documentary Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings.

You can read about the campaign, and contribute, at our IndieGoGo page. We've offered various "perks" at the different levels which we hope folks will find worthwhile.

A couple of quick notes.

1. In the "Universe" and "Multiverse" levels, you'll see reference to my forthcoming book, The Other Side of Truth. Several months ago I finally decided that if my good pal Nick Redfern can write a book every other month, then the least that I could do would be write one book about my last ten years filming and researching various aspects of the paranormal. Part memoir, part investigative journal, and part no-holds-barred behind-the-scenes "tell-all", it will be available at the beginning of 2012.

2. In case anyone is wondering, it costs money to make a good documentary. The IndieGoGo campaign is only one part of the financing for a film that will come in at just over CAD $100,000, when all is said and done. We're committed to making the best film that we can.

3. All net profits earned by my company, Redstar Films, from the sale of the film after it's done will be donated to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada, a charitable cause near and dear to me. Just in case anyone was wondering.

4. I'll be posting various updates here throughout both the fundraising and then the filmmaking process. Some will be serious; some, like "Pitch Imperfect" will be anything but serious. That's because while I take my work seriously, I never take myself seriously.

And that, as they say, is that. Thanks to anyone who feels inclined to contribute, at any level. If you think this is a worthwhile project, Tim and I would also appreciate it if you could help spread the word to your friends, family, and anyone else you think might be interested in the film.

Keep your eyes to the sky, and your mind open!

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 01, 2011

Pitch Imperfect

Zorgrot returns!

Like I need the competition in the film & television industry.

Oh well... the key is always to take your work seriously, but never take yourself seriously.

Paul Kimball

New excerpt from rough cut of Carol Rainey's documentary "Priests of High Strangeness: Co-Creation of the Alien Abduction Phenomenon"

Even as a rough cut, this is more compelling material from Ms. Rainey.

One thing to note - while I suspect that many people will focus on "Linda Cortile's" sharing in the profits from Hopkins' work on her "case", I see nothing wrong with that, in theory. It all depends on the context, and timing.

One could just as easily say that if "Cortile" received nothing, and Hopkins was the sole person to profit from her story, that he was exploiting her for profit.

The issue of whether a witness should profit from their story, and to what extent, is not an easy question to answer, and it varies from case to case, and person to person. However, a good basic rule of thumb, at least to me, is that anyone who looks for money up front is incredibly suspect; anyone who is offered a piece of the profits by a researcher after-the-fact might not be telling the truth, but if they're lying it's probably not because they're motivated by profit.

Having said that, I'll add that the part of this segment from Ms. Rainey's rough cut that stands out to me is the story about someone trying to kidnap "Cortile" - how ridiculous the story seems on its face, and how easily and completely Hopkins swallows it, and immediately links it to her alleged "abduction".

If someone tried to grab me on the streets of New York, or anywhere else, I would report it to the police, not Budd Hopkins. Wouldn't you?

Ms. Rainey is absolutely right about one key thing: what Hopkins was engaged in wasn't objective research.

Paul Kimball