Friday, May 27, 2005

Strange Skies... Indeed

One of the better books on the UFO phenomenon available at a reasonable price right now is Jerry Clark's Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs (New York: Citadel Press Books, 2003).

Strange Skies is a measured and balanced book that takes time to expose clearly fraudulent cases, like Maury Island, and note those which have been explained, like the Mantell case, before moving on to the still unexplained cases which, as the title suggests, center on pilot sightings. Among those included by Clark are the RB-47 case (pp. 191 - 194), which would certainly rate on my personal Top 10 list of top cases ever, but which is largely unknown, even by some ufologists.

Clark's writing is crisp, engaging and to the point. Most important, he gets at the crux of the problem with UFO debunkers, like Phil Klass, who dismiss the phenomenon out of hand (as opposed to sceptics, who tend to proceed on a case by case basis). He echoes J. Allen Hynek (see "J. Allen Hynek: Not an Aplogist Ufologist), when he writes, at p. 216:

"If UFOs do not exist as genuine anomolies, one would expect that high strangeness reports of, for example, structured discs - the ostensible product of intelligent manufacture and control - would come overwhelmingly from unreliable - that is, naive, dishonest, or emotionally disturbed - witnesses... The opposite happens to be true. As this book, for but one example, has shown, there are plenty of reports that are both credible and interesting. An impressive number have come from military and civilian pilots, whose very survival depends on their being able to make sound assessments of what they are seeing in their airspace. In the early 1950s, a study conducted for Project Blue Book by the civilian Battelle Institute revealed that the best reports came from the most qualified observers, the poorest from the least qualified. Moreover, the best sightings were the most difficult to explain and the ones of the longest duration, affording observers a better chance of figuring out what they were or were not seeing. Battelle's analysis showed that reports of (in Blue Book's terminology) 'knowns' and 'unknowns' were fundamentally unalike. In other words, what we call unidentified flying objects are most unlikely to be identified flying objects in the waiting."

One does not have to accept that every case presented by Clark in Strange Skies is a genuine UFO (some may indeed be IFOs that remain unexplained) to understand that this is a phenomenon with excellent sightings by solid witnesses that demands, as a result, more serious study.

Clocking in at a user-friendly 254 pages and USD $16.95 price tag, Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs is a must read for both the dedicated ufologist and the casual reader, and marks another positive contribution to the study of the UFO phenomenon from a man who has made more than his share over the years.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Q & A Conundrum

Dateline: 8 August 1952
Source: US News & World Report (USN), pp. 13 - 15

"Amazing and mysterious things are happening in the skies over the United States... After five years of 'saucer' reports, the Air Force still is unable to explain, with conclusive information, one out of five strange sights over the United States. It claims to have solved four out of five reports of fireballs and 'flying saucers' by proving they were such things as planes, balloons, missiles, lights - and several hoaxes."

So said USN, perhaps America's most serious weekly newsmagazine, in a major, three page article on the Flying Saucer (or, as we would say today, the UFO phenomenon), just two weeks after the famous Washington sightings of July 1952, and the subsequent US Air Force press conference that resulted.

To ETH proponents today who long for press coverage, be careful what you wish for. Despite noting that "Strange sights are being seen in the skies - really seen" and that "objects are being picked up by radar that cannot easily be explained," USN concluded that "Men from Mars or other planets are definitely not cruising around above the U.S. No little pixies, flitting around in 'flying saucers,' are surveying beachheads to land explorers from another world." They also stated, categorically, that "space ships are not cruising around, tricking pilots, radar operators, and plain citizens with unknown rays."

Now, I'm not convinced that the ETH is the correct explanation for the UFO phenomenon (or even one of many possible correct explanations), because the evidence is, despite the protestations of today's ETH proponents, not conclusive. But I would never go so far as to dismiss it out of hand, as USN did back in 1952. It is a valid, working hypothesis, despite USN's claim, fifty-three years ago, that the "U.S. isn't being spied on by outlandish contraptions in the heavens."

USN offered a drawing to help people understand what was going on (below):

Of the twenty per cent that were still unidentified, they blithely stated that "there is a sound, reasonable explanation for most of the rest."

"Science and the experts are getting to the bottom of a big and persistent puzzle," claimed USN. The answers would be coming soon.

So... where are they - not only for those unsolved cases back then, but all of the unsolved cases since?

Those who claimed back then - like Donald Keyhoe - that the answer (aliens) was clear were wrong to do so. It was not. But those, like USN, who claimed the same thing, but with a different answer (not aliens), were wrong as well.

The truth is that they didn't know the answer. They believed in an answer, on both sides.

When that happens, the real search for the truth suffers.

Ca plus ca change, ca plus ca meme chose.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

J. Allen Hynek - continued

Rich Reynolds, in a comment to "J. Allen Hynek - Not an Apologist Ufologist," suggests that Dr. Hynek was discredited by his swamp gas explanation for a sighting in Michigan. I agree that the swamp gas explanation was a blow to Dr. Hynek, but, as I said in the post, nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes.

For example, Kevin Randle for years supported Frank Kaufmann's testimony regarding Roswell. Similarly, Stan Friedman supported Gerald Andersen's. Both men have since been discredited. Are Stan and Kevin still respected UFO researchers? Most people would say yes, including, I'm sure, Rich.

Or how about MJ-12? Yes, there are still a few people out there besides Stan who believe the MJ-12 documents are authentic, but not many. Rich himself has stated that the documents are probably bogus. And yet, he still holds Stan in high regard, as he should. Why? Because good people sometimes make bad mistakes.

Leaving the field of ufology for a moment, here's just a couple of "mistakes" (a few of my personal favourites) from which people have recovered, and which were far more egregious than Dr. Hynek's "swamp gas" explanation:

1. Churchill and Gallipoli / Dardanelles campaign (etc etc);

2. Mountbatten and Dieppe;

3. Sir John Barrow and... well, you name it (see the book "Barrow's Boys");

4. Darwin and the Theory of Evolution (just kidding!).

5. Me and... well, too numerous to mention.

The point is that a person should usually not be judged by one incident alone, unless that one incident is so beyond the pale that it really does overshadow everything else (like Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick... er, wait. He's still a Senator isn't he? Note to self - above rule apparently does not apply to the Kennedy family). A person is judged by the totality of his or her life, and work. With that in mind, Hynek deserves his place as one of the two or three greatest ufologists (as was made clear to the general public in the ABC News "Seeing is Believing" special).

Perhaps his impact can best be seen in the following letter, which appeared in the issue of Science (Vol. 154 (Pt.2), Nov. - Dec. 1966, p. 1118) published immediately after the one in which Hynek's "UFO's Merit Scientific Study" letter was printed:

"A 1953 Sighting

Hynek's letter (21 Oct.) makes me feel better. As a fishery biologist, I have almost felt ashamed that I, too, among other scientists, have seen a 'flying saucer.' In the fall of 1953 in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, it was there on the horizon, about a mile away - looked 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m) in diameter - glistening in the crystal-clear sunny afternoon. It moved vertically from an on-the-horizon position, then to the left, to the right, and finally descended to the horizon. Then with phenomenal speed it took off to the right on a high sweeping curve out of sight. In my car with me were two other fishery biologists, who saw what I saw and we all agreed it was the 'flying saucer' often described in the press that year, and probably what a doctor in that part of West Virginia had been reporting. I suggested we report it, but one of my assistants felt it mught be classified as 'fishy' since it was from three fishery biologists! One of the viewers was a former P-38 pilot.

The result of a scientist's reluctance to report such sightings is that these incidents remain merely conversational comment at parties. Now I feel relieved that Hynek has given the scientific observer freedom to talk about those crazy flying machines. [emphasis added]

Elwood. A. Seaman
American Fisheries Society
Washington, D.C."

Seaman fit Hynek's description of a "scientifically trained person" who was "reliable, stable and educated. He had his sighting one year after he had served as President of the Northeastern Division of the AFS, and in 1988, after a distinguished career, won the AFS's Meritorious Service Award.

This is just the kind of person that Hynek, in his October, 1966 letter, encouraged to come forward. That is the other side of truth about Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and his true legacy - swamp gas or no swamp gas. If his reputation has suffered in the years since, then it's time to restore some proper perspective.

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 23, 2005

J. Allen Hynek - Not an Apologist Ufologist

Almost forty years ago, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (below), following the announcement that the Air Force had contracted the University of Colorado to conduct a "serious, objective, scientific and independent investigation" of the UFO phenomenon, under the direction of physicist Dr. Edward Condon, wrote the following letter to Science (Vol. 154 (Pt. 1), 21 October 1966, p. 329).

"UFO's Merit Scientific Study

Twenty years after the first public furor over UFO's (called 'flying saucers' then) reports of UFO's continue to accumulate. The Air Force has now decided to give increased scientific attention to the UFO phenomenon. Thus I feel under some obligation to report to my scientific colleagues, who could not be expected to keep up with so seemingly bizarre a field, the gist of my experience in 'monitoring the noise level' over the years in my capacity as scientific consultant to the Air Force. In doing so, I feel somewhat like a traveler to exotic lands and faraway places, who discharges his obligation to those who stayed at home by telling them of the strange ways of the natives.

During my long period of association with reports of strange things in the sky, I expected that each lull in the receipt of reports signaled the end of the episode, only to see the activity renew; in just the past two years it has risen to a new high. Despite the fact that the great majority of the reports resulted from misidentifications of otherwise familiar things, my own concern and sense of personal responsibility have increased and caused me to urge the initiation of a meaningful scientific investigation of the residue of puzzling cases by physical and social scientists. I have guardedly raised this suggestion in the literature [Note - J. Opt. Soc. Amer. 43, 311 (1953)] and at various official hearings, but with little success. UFO was a term that called forth buffoonery and caustic banter; this was both a cause and an effect of the lack of scientific attention. I speak here only of the puzzling reports; there is little point to concern ourselves with reports that can be easily traced to weather ballons, satellites, and meteors. Neither is there any point to take account of vague oral or written reports which contain few information bits. We need only be concerned with 'hard data,' defined here as reports, made by several responsible witnesses, of sightings which lasted a reasonable length of time and which were reported in a coherent manner.

I have strongly urged the Air Force to ask physical and social scientists of stature to make a respectable, scholarly study of the UFO phenomenon. Now that the first firm steps have been taken towards such a study, I can set forth something of what I have learned, particularly as it relates to frequently made misstatements about UFO's. Some of these statements which lead to misconceptions are:

1) Only UFO 'buffs' report UFO's. The exact opposite is much nearer the truth. Only a negligible handful of reports submitted to the Air Force are from 'true believers,' the same who attend UFO conventions and who are members of 'gee-whiz' groups. It has been my experience that quite generally the truly puzzling reports come from people who have not given much or any thought to UFO's.

2. UFO's are reported by unreliable, unstable, and uneducated people. This is, of course, true. But UFO's are reported in even greater numbers by reliable, stable, and educated people. The most articulate reports come from obviously intelligent observers; dullards rarely overcome their inherent inertia toward making written reports.

3) UFO's are never reported by scientifically trained people. This is unequivocally false. Some of the very best, most coherent reports have come from scientifically trained people. It is true that scientists are reluctant to make a public report. They also usually request anonymity which is always granted.

4) UFO's are never seen at close range and are always reported vaguely. When we speak of the body of puzzling reports, we exclude all those which fit the above description. I have in my files several hundred reports which are fine brain teasers and could easily be made the subject of profitable discussion among physical and social scientists alike.

5) The Air Force has no evidence that UFO's are extra-terrestrial or represent advanced technology of any kind. This is a true statement but is widely interpreted to mean that there is evidence against the two hypotheses. As long as there are 'unidentifieds,' the question must obviously remain open. If we knew what they were, they would no longer be UFO's - they would be IFO's, Identified Flying Objects! If you know the answer beforehand, it isn't research. No truly scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon has ever been undertaken. Are we making the same mistake the French Academy of Sciences made when they dismissed stories of 'stones' that fell from the sky? Finally, however, meteorites were made respectable in the eyes of science.

6) UFO reports are generated by publicity. One cannot deny that there is a positive feedback, a stimulated emission of reports, when sightings are widely publicized, but it is unwarranted to assert that it is the sole cause of high incidence of UFO reports.

7) UFO's have never been sighted on radar or photographed by meteor or satellite tracking cameras. This statement is not equivalent to saying that radar, meteor cameras, and satellite tracking stations have not picked up 'oddities' on their scopes or films that have remained unidentified. It has been lightly assumed that although unidentified, the oddities were not unidentifiable as conventional objects.

For these reasons, I cannot dismiss the UFO phenomenon with a shrug. The 'hard data' cases contain frequent allusions to recurrent kinematic, geometric, and luminescent characteristics. I have begun to feel that there is a tendency in 20th-century science to forget that there will be a 21st-century science, and indeed, a 30th-century science, from which vantage points our knowledge of the universe may appear quite different. We suffer, perhaps, from temporal provincialism, a form of arrogance that has always irritated posterity.

J. Allen Hynek
Dearborn Observatory, Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois"

This is one of the most rational, balanced, and reasoned, and therefore compelling, statements of the need for the physical and social sciences to seriously study the UFO phenomenon ever made.

Hynek was no "apologist ufologist," a term that has been applied to him by some within modern ufology, usually proponents of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis who contend - incorrectly - that if you do not accept the ETH as ETF (Extraterrestrial Fact), then you can' t be a ufologist. Don't get me wrong - Hynek was far from perfect. But isn't everyone? The fact is that he remains, almost twenty years after his death in 1986, one of the two or three leading lights in the history of the study of the UFO phenomenon. He charted a reasonable path for the exploration of the phenomenon. That ufology has seemingly chosen, in many respects, to not follow that path, says more about ufology than it does Dr. Hynek, and answers, to a large degree, the question of why serious academics of both the physical and social sciences have, unfortunately, largely ignored Hynek's call to action to this day.

Paul Kimball

Friday, May 20, 2005

Beware The Links Between Conspiracy Theory and Anti-Semitism

Does the poster below offend you?

It should.

It is a symbol of the anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany that led directly to the Holocaust.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with the study of the UFO phenomenon? Unfortunately, more than you might think.

Jeff Rense has a very popular talk radio show, and an affiliated website, that are looked to by a lot of people for information about the UFO phenomenon, conspiracy theories, and other paranormal subjects.

However, that’s not all you get at In the past three weeks, for example, you will find the following “columns” –

1. 17 May – “Auschwitz Dead – From Four to 1 + Million – Or Less!” ( by Dick Fojut, who refers to the Holocaust as “the Aushwitz-Holocaust ‘legend’” and urges readers to “decide for yourselves whether the greater claim of 6 million murdered Jews is also false – or (to politically benefit the State of Israel) has been enormously exaggerated…”

2. 17 May – “Anne Frank’s Diary – Some Honest Questions.” ( It makes the outrageous claims that the Diary was “very substantially adapted and enlarged [by Otto Frank] for financial gain” and that the result is “a fraudulent document… which helps promote sympathy for Zionism.”

3. 13 May 2005 – “The Holocaust Belongs to All of Us” by Jana Janus ( which includes the following “reportage” – “World War II and the Holocaust seem to have become the exclusive property of the Jews. They dictate what the facts are. They make the documentaries and the films about it. They control the publishing industry that prints the books and the textbooks on this subject. They get to tell everyone what to think about it… The Jews must not be allowed to OWN the Holocaust. They must not be allowed to consider it their exclusive property!”

4. 2 May 2005 – A column with the title “Zundel Update – Two POW Letters from a German Prison” by Ernst Zundel sympathiser Ingrid Rimland ( For those not aware, Zundel is a notorious Holocaust denier and anti-Semite that Canada had the good sense, after a long legal fight, to deport back to his native Germany. To describe him as a Prisoner of War begs the question – just what war is he fighting, and against whom? Anyone who knows anything about the Zundel case knows the answer to that question.

This isn’t history, or political science.

This isn’t studying the Nazis, or the Holocaust, in order to learn something.

This is Anti-Semitism, plain and simple. It might not be as direct as the poster shown above (although in some cases it is), but that doesn't make it any better. Indeed, it might be even worse - anti-semitism, masquerading as "academic study" and the "free exchange of information." Mac Tonnies, at his excellent blog Posthuman Blues, recently noted the current of anti-Semitism that runs hand in hand these days with those who sit on the fringe of the conspiracy theory-ism (which is itself a fringe - see This echoes Jerry Clark, who once wrote, sensibly, “My experience is that if you scratch a conspiracy theorist, a bigot bleeds.”

William Cooper was an excellent example (Michael Salla, take note).

Unfortunately, so are the postings that can be found at Rense’s website.

Now, Rense sticks a disclaimer on his website that states, in part:

"The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any such posted material or parts therein."

The full disclaimer can be seen at

No disclaimer, however, is sufficient to evade responsibility for providing a forum for this kind of material. It is not a question of freedom of speech (the cloak of intellectual respectability that Rense seeks to wrap himself in); it is a question of knowing right from wrong.

Rense’s disclaimer is moral cowardice - at best.

At worst?

Well, sometimes you are known by the company you keep.

Ufologists have a responsibility to inform themselves of stuff like this, and then walk away from any invite to appear on Rense’s show. I know whereof I speak – a few months ago, I appeared on his show to talk about the Aztec case. I assumed he was just another radio host, and it was just another show, like SDI. I now know different, and I regret appearing on his show. I will not do so again, and I urge everyone in the UFO field to follow suit.

I've spent years, in and out of university, studying the Nazis, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. I take to heart the words of Martin Niemoller, a decorated WWI submarine commander who became a Protestant pastor and anti-Nazi (he spent the war in a concentration camp), and who wrote, after the war:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out.”

We must never forget, and we must never hesitate to speak out.

That's my disclaimer.

Paul Kimball

For information on the Holocaust, see, (the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site), (Survivors of the SHOAH Visual History Foundation), and - all four are good starting points. Also, check your local video store for two films - The Wannsee Conference, and Conspiracy. And, of course, Schindler's List. For reading material, a good place to start would be with the testimony from the Nuremberg Trial, which can be found at most law libraries.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Michael Salla & Military Whistleblowers

Would you trust UFO Whistleblower testimony if it came from General (or is that Lieutenant Colonel) George A. Custer (below)?

It seems that Michael Salla would.

For Dr. Salla, the very fact that a person has served in the Armed Forces seems to be proof enough that he is a credible witness.

Kevin Randle, in response to one of Dr. Salla's posts at UFO Updates this week, wrote, sensibly, in reference to alleged Whistleblowers who had served in the military (like Philip Corso, William Cooper, and Clifford Stone), that:

"Military service does not convey some sort of extraordinary reliability on an individual. We need something more before we begin to accept so many outrageous claims."

Kevin's full post can be found at:

Salla's response can be found at:, but here is the relevant excerpt (note - the typos and grammatical errors in the original):

"Long military service records indicate a certain stability ofcharacter, ability to perform responsible duties and the kind of honor and integrity system that goes in the military. While I'm a 'peace researcher' by profession and reject violent solutions to conflicts, I find military values of honor, integrity and discipline much more a measure of character that the kinds of values generated in consumerist societies. Many still believe that military training helps build character especially for the younger generation. So there's a cultural appreciation that military personnel are more likely to posses the kinds of qualities that we look for in whistleblowers, integrity, veracity, honesty, etc. I am prepared to generalize that the general public are more likely to believe military whistleblowers with long service records as individuals more likely to be telling the truth when blowing the whistle on egregious government policies. I have find all the military whistleblowers I have spoken with are exceptional individuals. Integrity counts especially when it comes to assessing extraordinary claims that have little if any documentary or hard evidence to back them up."

Unlike Dr. Salla, I am not a "peace researcher," and have no problem with using the military, when absolutely necessary, as an instrument of national policy. I have the greatest respect for men and women who serve their country, as my Dad and three uncles did in the 1950s, and as my brother-in-law does now, stationed with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan.

Having said that, however, it is ridiculous to suggest, as Dr. Salla does, that just because someone has served in the military, they are a credible witness.

Where does that leave General James Wilkinson and his running mate, Aaron Burr?

Or Custer?

Or Benedict Arnold?

Or, for a more modern example, Pfc. Lyndie England and her pals at Abu Ghraib prison?

I could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get my point - military service, no matter how long or heroic, does not, in and of itself, guarantee that an individual is a person of integrity and character. Today's Iron Cross winner could be tomorrow's mass murdering dictator; today's Civil War hero could be tomorrow's self-aggrandizing egomaniac, leading his troops to a futile death.

In fact, as is clear from some of the (admittedly) egregious examples I have cited above, unscrupulous people often use their past military record to confer on themselves a veneer of credibility, and respectability, that they would not otherwise have, given their subsequent actions. Sometimes they will even lie about that record to achieve this aim.

If your critical thinking switch has been turned "off" - as, it seems, is the case with Dr. Salla - then you are easy prey for these people. This is what has happened with his approach to alleged UFO Whistleblowers with past military service, like Corso, Cooper and Stone, who tell fantastic tales for which there is no supporting evidence, and who have exaggerated their military records.

If Dr. Salla really had the respect for men and women who serve their country that he says he does, he would turn away from these Whistleblower frauds.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Richard Dolan - Ufology's Alan Bullock, or another Jim Marrs?

Richard Dolan is listed as one of Fate magazine’s “Top 100” Ufologists of 2005, which makes sense, as one can hardly attend a UFO-related conference these days without seeing Dolan’s name on the speakers list. He has, in just a couple of years, appeared in a number of documentaries (including two of mine), been interviewed on radio and television, and written a number of articles for various publications about the UFO phenomenon. It is hard to argue with his inclusion on the Fate list, especially as said list includes Dr. Steven Greer, which is the equivalent of putting Benedict Arnold on a list of famous American military leaders, or, in keeping with this week’s Star Wars theme, including Darth Vader on a list of famous Jedi Knights.

To what does Dolan owe this relatively newfound status within the UFO research field? His credentials as a historian of the UFO phenomenon, and, in particular, his 2000 book, UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Cover-Up 1941 – 1973 (Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 2002), which was revised in 2002 (the edition to which I am referring).

His training as a historian is solid – he has an undergraduate degree in history from Alfred University, a small liberal arts college in New York, and a Masters degree in history from the University of Rochester, where he also lives and works. However, historians are ultimately judged not by their academic credentials (although these are, as I have argued elsewhere, an important first step), but by what they do with their training (ie. the research and writing they undertake).

So – how does Dolan rate as a historian, as judged by UFOs and the National Security State?

Not very highly, alas.

Every historian, at some point or another, will speculate about something. History is never so tidy as to offer easy answers to all of one’s questions. For example, in the area in which I specialised while taking Legal History at law school (the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials), the question of how much Albert Speer actually knew about the Holocaust remains open to debate, sixty years later, despite the fact that Speer wrote extensively on the War and his role in the Nazi regime, and despite the fact that there a number of excellent biographies about Speer (my answer was that he knew exactly what was going on, and should have been hanged in 1946, instead of being sentenced to 20 years at Spandau).

The key, however, is to make sure your speculation is grounded in evidence – that you can offer something to back it up beyond just saying “well, it could have happened.” A historian might not be able to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, but he should be able to show that it was more likely than not that a certain thing happened.

With this in mind, an objective read of UFOs and the National Security State, on which Dolan’s reputation in the UFO field as a serious researcher is largely based, shows it to be nothing more than conspiracy theory masquerading as a serious historical study.

Take, for example, Dolan’s conclusions about the death of Captain Edward Ruppelt, which can be found at pp. 236 – 237. Dolan writes:

“We are to believe that his ‘exposure’ to the Contactees prompted him publicly to insult Keyhoe, a man whom Ruppelt knew despised the Contactees… The key lies in Ruppelt’s ‘continuing association’ with Blue Book and air force personnel. No doubt, that was a crucial factor… In the context of Ruppelt’s recent stance toward the air force on UFOs, his rapid and total conversion, and his death at such a young age, matters ought to look suspicious, particularly in light of the capabilities that existed within the American national security apparatus by this time. Whether he was actually killed, or whether he died from the stress brought on by what he had gone through (the belief of [Frank] Edwards and Keyhoe), there seems little reason to doubt that Ruppelt was coerced.” [emphasis in original]

Little reason to doubt?

The fact is that Ruppelt died of his second heart attack, showing that he already had significant health problems. Heart disease is not confined to senior citizens; it can, and in this case clearly did, strike men and women still in the prime of life (a subject I know something about, having been put on cholesterol and blood pressure medication in my mid 30s). Also, Dolan rejects, with no foundation, the testimony of the person who perhaps knew Ruppelt best – his wife, who told researchers that his change of mind had nothing to do with pressure from the government.

Most important, Dolan's speculation indicates that he is unaware of Brad Sparks' extensive research into Ruppelt. I asked Brad (who is also on the Fate Top 100 list, and deservedly so) to comment on Ruppelt. Here is his reply (edited slightly for brevity):

"Dolan claims Ruppelt’s pro-UFO phase was from 1954 to 1957 and then he went “sour.” The first thing I was shocked at when I got hold of Ruppelt’s private papers in 1979, including his extensive 1955 notes and draft manuscript for his 1956 book, was how virulently ANTI-UFO Ruppelt was in his private thoughts written in his own hand in this purportedly pro-UFO period of 1954-7, and remarks meant to be seen by no one except his ghostwriter / co-author, Long Beach newspaper reporter Jim Phelan. Ruppelt sounded just like Donald Menzel, whom he intensely disliked. On one paper Ruppelt in handwriting wrote “kook” in the margin to describe Keyhoe. As I understand it, it was Phelan who edited Ruppelt’s book into appearing to be pro-UFO by deleting his more negative comments and putting a spin on other comments, thus turning it into a popular bestseller. If you read very, very carefully in his book where Ruppelt quotes himself arguing with other AF officers, you will see his anti-UFO hostility or skepticism come through. That was his real viewpoint without the spin. His private papers go on and on about various incidents where IFO’s supposedly fooled him and others and how this just proves there is nothing to UFO’s – and this is entirely separate from his acid commentary on contactees, whom he reveled in when he could easily have just ignored them all. No one was holding a gun to Ruppelt’s head to go attend the Giant Rock contactee conference in the desert. This propensity to indulge in contactee hoakum is very much like Edward Condon, who wasted a lot of time entertaining himself with contactees and kooks. The contactees didn’t “sour” Ruppelt - he sought them out. When Ruppelt was Chief of BB, when strong unexplained UFO cases occurred, he would be forced to take a more neutral position, less anti-UFO and very occasionally but only TEMPORARILY slightly pro-UFO. Just as soon as the case was behind him and the pressure was off, Ruppelt reflexively returned to his hardened anti-UFO posture. Same thing with the 1957 UFO flap. Ruppelt was grudgingly forced into a slightly more favorable public and private position under the weight of the unexplained UFO incidents and even tried to posture himself as offering to return to the AF to head up BB again – his personal ambition was always of greater importance to him than the actual outcome of the UFO investigation. For example, he was most upset when the Eisenhower military budget cuts ruined his plan to quadruple the size of BB, a plan the CIA Robertson Panel approved of, after it was too late to do anything about it in any case. He was also upset when his personal authority at BB was undercut and obstructed by his coverup boss, Col Donald Bower. That’s the unvarnished truth, whether the UFO enthusiast amateur likes to hear it or not."

It gets worse, however. Not satisfied with speculating about Ruppelt’s untimely demise, Dolan turns his attention, at the end of the book, to the sad death of Dr. James McDonald. McDonald, one of the most important figures in the history of ufology, shot himself in June, 1971. As Dolan notes, most UFO researchers agree that he committed suicide, a conclusion that makes eminent sense when one considers that this was McDonald’s second attempt at killing himself - the first came a couple of months earlier, when McDonald succeeded only in blinding himself, which happens more often than one might suspect when a person tries to shoot themselves in the head (for example, immediately after the July, 1944, coup attempt against Hitler, General Ludwig Beck, one of the coup leaders, and a man of undoubted courage who knew how to handle a gun, tried to shoot himself in the head, but only wounded himself – a sergeant had to deliver the coup de grace).

This explanation, however, is not enough for Dolan, who writes, at pp. 381 - 382:

“Let us look at the other possibility. We know that many intelligence agencies were skilled in ‘creating suicides.’ But, one might ask, wasn’t McDonald’s mental condition already deteriorating? Jerome Clark stated that McDonald was ready to ‘crack’ in the aftermath of the SST [PK note - House Committee on Appropriations hearings regarding the supersonic transport, where McDonald, an eminent scientist, was ridiculed for his work and views on the UFO phenomenon]. But what caused this? Embarrassment at the SST hearings? His marriage [PK note – which was in trouble]. Perhaps, one supposes, but both of these explanations feel flimsy. Without exception, those who knew McDonald described him as possessing great integrity and courage. Was he really the type of person to commit suicide?”

To Dolan, the answer seems to be “no,” despite all the evidence that indicates “yes.” He goes on to speculate how the U.S. government could have done this, by using electromagnetic technology to alter his mood, without, again, offering any evidence whatsoever that this was done. Then, he reaches his conclusion:

“Thus, we ask, could McDonald have been the victim of a program using technology such as described above? The answer is yes. Whether or not he was may never be answered… No one is in a position to state whether McDonald’s suicide was real or not. Both scenarios are possible.”

Let me be blunt – with reasoning like that, Dolan would have flunked any history course I ever attended. The fact that something is “possible” does not make it worthy of consideration. Virtually anything is “possible.” The question that the historian must ask is whether, based on the evidence, it is probable.

In the case of Dolan’s speculation about both Ruppelt and McDonald (two of the most egregious examples in his book, but not the only ones by a long shot), he betrays his training as a historian in favour of Jim Marr-esque conspiracy theory. He even acknowledges the difference, sort of, as he begins the speculation about McDonald:

“The reader who has made it this far, and through several unproven conspiracy theories will, it is hoped, endure one more?”

This is a line that has no place in a serious historical study.

That Dolan is considered one of the Top 100 ufologists is not surprising, given where modern ufology seems to be headed (and that’s a shame, especially when researchers like Manitoba’s Chris Rutkowski didn’t make the list). But don’t confuse him with an objective historian, at least where the UFO phenomenon is concerned. He isn’t.

Paul Kimball

P.S. For those not familiar with Lord Bullock (1914 - 2004), to whom I refer in the title of this post, he was one of the 20th century's great historians, and the author of the landmark history of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, Hitler: A Study In Tyranny. See Bullock's obituary at:,3604,1137623,00.html

Monday, May 16, 2005

Kevin Randle on Roswell, Salla & Ufology's Future

Kevin Randle (below) is one of the world's premier ufologists, particularly when it comes to the pro-crash Roswell camp. He is no simple "believer," however; see, for example, his stance on the abduction phenomenon, as set out in the book he co-authored with Dr. William Cone and Russ Estes, The Abduction Enigma (New York: Forge, 1999).

Today, he joined the debate with Michael Salla about his "research methodology" at UFO Updates. His pointed response to Salla's latest ramblings about "whistleblowers" can be found at:

It is, along with Stan Friedman's recent responses (posted here as Stan vs. Salla, and Stan vs. Salla II), required reading for anyone who might be tempted by Dr. Salla's Dark Side Exopolitical "methodology."

Also of interest, given his role as one of the key proponents of the crashed saucer theory for the Roswell incident, is a recent post at his blog about the impact that the fraudulent testimony of Frank Kaufmann might have on the case, and Walter Haut, Philip Corso, and Robert Shirkey, in particular. Randle writes:

"Where does that leave Walter Haut? He was close to William Blanchard, the commander of the 509th Bomb Group, he was close to the inside on this story, and he was the one who gave us Frank Kaufmann. Doesn't that call his testimony into question? Shouldn't he have known that Kaufmann was not telling the truth? Especially when it is remembered that both men lived in Roswell long after the UFO crash and that they apprently knew one another for many years.

That, then, is the impact of Kaufmann. We know that his tale was bogus. If these others, who suggested they knew much more, who suggested inside knowledge, were who they claimed to be, they would have known Kaufmann wasn't telling the truth. And if they didn't know, then their own tales are open to criticism. And that is the legacy of Kaufmann. We have a window on the Roswell case that we didn't have earlier thanks to the destruction of the Kaufmann story."

The full post can be found at:

It will be interesting to see if Kevin follows up on the implications here, and where that follow up might lead.

Finally, for those interested in the "Future of Ufology" - take note, young Jedis at the UFO Coalition, as well as prospective Exopolitics Dark Siders - here are some words of wisdom from Randle, from 1995. When asked about the future of ufology, and what a single individual can do, he stated:

"Pay attention to the research, make sure the facts are right, stop believing what you want to believe, but only that which can be proven, and we will advance... Read everything and analyze it all. Don't let anyone insult your intelligence. Just because someone has been around for a number of years, it doesn't mean that he or she knows everything. Don't let anyone ride over your beliefs. Analyze and ask questions. If a question angers someone, that probably means you have discovered a weakness in the argument. The point, however, is to search out all you can, analyze it as best you can, and then go on."

Ufology doesn't need a new paradigm. It just needs to follow advice like that offered by Randle a decade ago (the full interview can be found at

Paul Kimball

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Beware the Dark Side

With Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith less than a week away, perhaps the time is right to pose the following question - Is Exopolitics the Dark Side of the Ufological Force?


It threatens to corrupt everything that is good within ufology - it undermines the search for the truth; it turns the scientific and historical methods on their heads; it is populated by dark characters of questionable repute, in the form of Whistleblowers (the late William Cooper being perhaps the most notorious, a ufological Darth Maul without the nifty wardrobe; Bob Lazar, Philip Corso, Michael Wolf also qualify - the list goes on and on); it replaces evidence with dark conspiracy theory.

Worst of all, it spreads dissension within the ranks, a veritable fifth column of Ufoligical Sith.

So, you might ask, if Exopolitics is the Ufological Dark Side, is there an Exopolitical Palpatine? Steven Greer pops to mind, but his power is clearly in decline (call him Count Dooku). No, if there is an Exopolitical Palpatine, it surely must be Dr. Michael Salla, who just seems to be hitting his stride.

His Dark-side "methodology" threatens to corrupt ufology, perhaps beyond repair (unlike some, I still hold out hope for the "Old Ufological Republic").

The latest manifestation of this can be found at his website,, where he talks about how to ask the "right questions in UFO research and Exopolitics" (see how he neatly links UFO research and Exopolitics, implying they are the same thing, when they are not... Beware, young Jedi everywhere).

What kind of questions shouldn't be asked, according to Dr. Salla?

Well, he states that one should never ask an alleged Whistleblower "Where are documents proving your service record or employment history?" He also says one should never question a Whistleblower as to inconsistencies in either documents that outline their service or employment records, or the claims that they are making. Never question the fact that no public records exist verifying educational claims. Never ask why no other independent witnesses have come forward to corroborate the Whistleblowers claims. Never suggest that the Whistleblowers might simply be seeking to make a buck, or may be self-aggrandizing publicity seekers. And so on.

Of course, the questions that Dr. Salla says we should not be asking are precisely the questions that real, objective researchers should (and do) ask.

As Palpatine does in the Star Wars films, Dr. Salla offers people the easy way out. Eschew the old methods, he says, because they don't work, or they don't work quickly enough. Join the Dark Side of research. It's easier. It's faster. It will confirm your pre-existing beliefs. It will lead to the truth.

Like Palpatine and the Dark Side, it's a seductive offer, made to people who are frustrated by the seeming lack of progress in ufological research, and who are frustrated by the in-fighting amongst ufologists.

It's also the wrong path to take.

It won't lead to the truth.

It can only lead to the further marginalization of those who study the UFO phenomenon; it can only lead to a dark Ufolgical Empire of blind belief, bereft of critical thought, logic, and reason.


In the interests of preserving the Republic, here's some advice for those young ufological Anakin Skywalkers out there, who might be tempted by the Exopolitical Dark Side.

Take everything the Exopolitics-types tell you, and then do the opposite.

And, a final piece of Ufological Jedi wisdom:

"Patience, young Jedi - Rome wasn't built in a day."

Paul "Obi-Wan" Kimball

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bob Lazar's "Credentials"

Bob Lazar, he of the Area 51, Element 115, alien-government conspiracy, has never been able to produce a single shred of evidence to back up his various claims to degrees from places like MIT, and advanced professional qualifications. Needless to say, this calls his credibility into "question" (er, to put it very "politely").

Now, Michael Salla, who seems to have never met a "whistleblower" he didn't like, claims, as have others, against all logic and reason, that the government can completely erase a person's record, and that this is exactly what they did to Lazar. To this amazing allegation, I can only respond as follows:


Lazar, as Stan Friedman, I, and many others have pointed out, should have some record of his credentials. I, for example, am a lawyer (non-practising status). Want the proof? Here is my Nova Scotia Barristers' Society certificate from 1993. I also have my university degrees (Acadia, class of '89; Dalhousie, class of '92), my old yearbooks (I had more hair then), pictures of me with classmates from both my undergrad years and law school (often drunk), papers I wrote (with the notes on them from the professors), medals and awards won. I can produce invoices for every year over the past decade that I have paid the Barristers' Society my annual fees. And so on, and on, and on...

The government couldn't erase my past, even if they wanted to (note to the NSA / CIA / CSIS / MJ-12 / U-13 - this is NOT a challenge).

Even if they could get the universities, all of my old pals, the guy who ran the pizza place in Wolfville, N.S., where we got all of our food from (we ordered so much, we used to joke that we paid for the Audi he drove), etc., to lie (some of my pals would probably do it just to see me squirm a bit), I would be able to produce documentation to back up my claims (including the D- I got on a paper in intro French back in 1985, alas).


Nada. Zilch. Bupkus. Nothing. Rien (still working on my French...).

As Stan has said, he is a fraud, and his claims are "bunk." Anyone who believes him is just that - a "believer," in the worst possible sense of the term.

And yet, a new "article" making the rounds on the Internet (see Frank Warren's blog,, where he has posted a copy), asks the question if Lazar was right after all.

Will it never end...

Paul Kimball, BA (Hons), LL.B

Friday, May 13, 2005

Greer vs. Woolsey

For years now, Disclosure Project guru Dr. Steven Greer has claimed that he "briefed" DCI James Woolsey in 1993 about the UFO phenomenon, and the government's cover-up of the truth. He repeated these claims recently, in a December, 2004, interview with Richard Dolan in Phenomena Magazine (see

Supposedly, at the end of the "briefing" Woolsey said to Greer, "Dr. Greer, how can we disclose what we are denied access to? What would that say to the world?"

That is Dr. Greer's version of the truth. The "other side of the truth" comes from Woolsey and the other people who were at that "briefing," which was, in fact, simply a dinner party. The letter, below, from the Woosleys and the Petersens, makes it clear, if one is to believe them, that Greer has, to be polite, stretched the truth about the "briefing."

Of course, Dr. Greer had a response, which can be found at, in which he disputes the account of the Woolseys and the Petersens.

So - who is telling the truth here?

In his response, Greer claims that he received a "sensitive memo" (by FedEx) from Petersen in advance of the "briefing" in which Petersen allegedly wrote:

"I talked to Woolsey this morning and he (underlined in the original) suggested getting together over dinner. He was not aware of your organiztion or that anyone was planning such an announcement (regarding UFOs). This almost certainly means that,

1. there is an active attempt being made at lower levels of government to sabotage Project Starlight (the CSETI UFO disclosure effort),
2. this group almost certainly has tapped your phones and is aware of most of the details of your plans...

If we do have dinner with Jim (Woolsey), we will have moved this whole thing to a much, much higher plane and in doing so raised significant red flags for those who don't want to see us succeed. Operation Starlight will become a serious (underlined) threat to the status quo.

Meetings with people like Woolsey must be kept closely guarded. I have not even told Diane (Mr. Petersen's wife) about it.

You must understand that great principalities and powers will oppose your plans...

Remember: the most powerful people in the world will have a deep, compelling interest in our activities and will use everything at their disposal to effect their objectives."

Okay... this seems simple to me. If Greer wants to settle this, once and for all, let him "disclose" this letter he claims to have received from Petersen, which he quotes from but does not display at his website.

Also, let him "disclose" the FedEx receipt that would have come with the letter.

In short, Dr. Greer - put up, or shut up.

If he cannot, or will not, do so, then I think we all know which side of the truth we should believe.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Grinspoon's Lonely Planets - Essential Reading

David Grinspoon's Lonely Planets (below) is one of my favourite books these days. I don't agree with everything he says, of course, but it is extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and honest, which are three things that cannot be said of many books that deal with the subject of extraterrestrial life. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the subject of how we humans might fit in the puzzle that is the universe.

Grinspoon touches upon the UFO phenomenon in the book, although it is certainly not the focus. My favourite part comes when he talks about the Disclosure Project. Here is what Grinspoon has to say about Dr. Greer et al (p. 372 - 373):

"Disclosure is, ultimately, a little sad, a little silly, a little scary, and more than a little stupid. But, why should I care what other people believe, if what they are doing is harmless?

Because I don't think that the Disclosure Project is completely harmless. In June 2002 Greer jumped on the post-9/11 'it's a shame that thousands of people were killed but at least I can use it to promote my cause' bandwagon in a new paper he circulated on the Internet stating, 'One of the few silver linings to these recent tragedies is that maybe - just maybe - people will take seriously, however far-fetched it may seem at first, the prospect that a shadowy, para-governmental and transnational entity exists that has kept UFOs secret - and is planning a deception and tragedy that will dwarf the events of 9/11.'

At the very least, these guys are destructive to our society in the way that a useless mutation in an organism is maladaptive - simply because it uses up energy and resources that are needed elsewhere. On the way out of the Campaign for Disclosure meeting, we passed by boxes where you could make a tax-deductible contribution to the cause, and people were stuffing them full of bills. Maybe the Disclosure Project is really a vast right-wing conspiracy to sap the life out of the environmentalist and pacifist movements by getting people to believe in this crap."

I couldn't have said it better myself, other than to add that the Disclosure Project, and its Exopolitics running mate, have the same effect on the serious study of the UFO phenomenon - using up energy and resources that are needed elsewhere.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The ETH and Pop Culture

Scientists may not be on board, but 20th century pop culture has never had any problems presenting the ETH as valid. Orson Welles' classic radio play, War of the Worlds, predates the Kenneth Arnold sighting by many years, as does the greatest of all comic book superheroes, Superman, a 20th century icon that also happened to be the Last Son of Krypton (the planet, not the element).

But it was in the 1950s and 1960s that pop culture really began to take the ETH and run with it. Golden Age comics characters such as Green Lantern, who had powers originally based on magic, were re-imagined within an ET paradigm.

Thus, the magical GL Alan Scott of the Golden Age of comics became GL Hal Jordan (above), an Earthman who was recruited into the intergalactic Green Lantern corps, sort of a cosmic Royal Canadian Mounted Police force, run by aliens - the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Batman, perhaps the most terrestrial of all 20th century pop culture heroes, began to have adventures in space, and against villains not of this earth (often working with Superman). The Justice Society of America, with its HQ located firmly on Terra Firma, became the Justice League of America, with an orbiting satellite as HQ (they're now firmly ensconsed on the Moon).

Even Robin Hood, that legendary hero of the Middle Ages, was re-imagined as Rocket Robin Hood, and sent into space, in a groundbreaking cartoon series from the 1960s.

And then came Stan Lee and his pals at Marvel Comics, and we had the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Fantastic Four, the Kree and the Skrull, and... well, the list goes on and on.

And I haven't even touched on feature films and television (I'm eagerly counting down the days to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).

All of this, I would suggest, has paved the way for the general public to accept the ETH as not only possible, but plausible.

This acceptance has had an influence on ufology, and not necessarily a positive one. You'll often hear ufologists quoting opinion polls that show that people are more and more likely to believe that aliens exist, and that they are coming / have come here.

But is this based on informed opinion, with the respondents actually looking at the evidence, or is it based on what they have been reading and watching for the past seventy years?

If the former, why hasn't science hopped on the ETH bandwagon?

Could it because the real evidence is still far from conclusive with respect to the ETH?

Perhaps scientists just don't read enough comic books.

On the other hand, perhaps ufology has become a bit lazy, relying on pop culture and, worse, popular opinion, to make their case for them.

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pflock's Fight

Karl Pflock (pictured below) has made public what some of us within the UFO community (and it is a community) have known for a while now - he has ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Karl has been one of my favourite ufologists from the day I first met him, back in September, 2001, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We flew him in to interview him for Stanton T. Friedman is Real (Kevin Randle lives in Cedar Rapids, so we figured we'd shoot two birds with one stone, to mix metaphors). He was the perfect interview - no B.S., just the straight goods, for good or ill. The chips in his world fall where they fall (as anyone who has read his Saucer Smear column, "Pflock Talk," is aware). I respect that.

In the years since, we've kept in touch via e-mail, hooked up for a couple more interviews (Karl appears in Do You Believe in Majic and Aztec 1948 as the ufological yin, respectively, to Stan and Scott Ramsey's ufological yang), and at the 2003 Aztec UFO Symposium. We disagree on some things, but always politely, and he's been very helpful with my research into the Aztec case.

In fact, the only time Karl has ever lost his cool with me was when the crew and I showed up an hour or so late for an interview at his Placitas home in 2003 (we had misjudged the length of the drive from Aztec, where we were staying, to Placitas). A lot of interview subjects would have said "Screw you." I think Karl said something like that, too, which was quickly followed by a smile (er, at least I think it was a smile), and an offer to start over again the next day. That's my definition of "gracious."

Now, not everyone is a Karl Pflock fan. His past work with the CIA and the Department of Defense has some conspiracy-minded folks convinced he's involved in the Cosmic Watergate somehow ("hahaha," is all that I can say to that). He also used an alias at one point (the legendary Kurt Peters), which has undercut his credibility with a few ufologists (you know the ones - they live in the glass house next to yours). His position on Roswell (Mogul balloon) has made him the bete-noire of crashed saucer proponents.

All par for the course in the zany world of ufology, where, if everyone likes you, then you're doing something wrong!

Personally, my only beef with Karl are those silly bolo ties (or whatever they're called) that he insists on wearing. Ick...

Other than that, he is, for my money, one of the truly good guys in ufology - full stop (as my British pals would say).

I consider him a friend. In his fight with ALS, I'm rooting for him to beat the odds (as, I hear, is Zorgrot).

Here's hoping he's around to keep ufology - and ufoology - honest for many years to come!

Paul Kimball

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Making Documentaries

Making documentaries isn't as easy as some people in ufology seem to think it is - if it was, everyone would be doing it. There is a methodology to it, and a skill set that is required.

On the other hand, it's not rocket science, either.

One doesn't need a degree from a film school to make documentaries (you can hire these people, of course, to work on your film, in the same way that you hire an accountant to do your taxes). A degree in history is an asset, or some other social sciences discipline that teaches you how to weigh the facts, interview people, and construct a narrative.

Filmmaking is, after all, about telling stories.

The best book out there, in my view, for anyone who is considering trying their hand at independent documentary making, is Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997 - pictured below), by Barry Hampe. It covers all the steps in documentary making, from concept to completion, with chapters on visual evidence, documentary ethics, budgeting, crew, editing the film, and equipment (this section is a bit dated, given the proliferation of DV camera technology since 1997, when the book was written), interviewing techniques, and so on.

My favourite line from the book:

"Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is bound by rules, whereas truth rests on the chaos of reality."

No kidding!

Paul Kimball

Science in Default

Anyone serious about the UFO phenomenon needs to read Science in Default: 22 Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations, by the late Dr. James E. McDonald, which was presented at the Symposium on UFOs, 134th Meeting, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston, Dec, 27, 1969.

A copy can be accessed online at:

The presentation of this paper was a seminal moment in the history of the search for the truth about the UFO phenomenon. It was a damning indictment of the failure of the scientific community to take the study of the UFO phenomenon seriously. McDonald wrote:

"No scientifically adequate investigation of the UFO problem has been carried out during the entire 22 years that have now passed since the first extensive wave of sightings of unidentified aerial objects in the summer of 1947. Despite continued public interest, and despite frequent expressions of public concern, only quite superficial examinations of the steadily growing body of unexplained UFO reports from credible witnesses have been conducted in this country or abroad. The latter point is highly relevant, since all evidence now points to the fact that UFO sightings exhibit similar characteristics throughout the world.

Charging inadequacy of all past UFO investigations, I speak not only from a background of close study of the past investigations, but also from a background of three years of rather detailed personal research, involving interviews with over five hundred witnesses in selected UFO cases, chiefly in the U. S. In my opinion, the UFO problem, far from being the nonsense problem that it has often been labeled by many scientists, constitutes a problem of extraordinary scientific interest.

The grave difficulty with essentially all past UFO studies has been that they were either devoid of any substantial scientific content, or else have lost their way amidst the relatively large noise-content that tends to obscure the real signal in the UFO reports. The presence of a percentually large number of reports of misidentified natural or technological phenomena (planets, meteors, and aircraft, above all) is not surprising, given all the circumstances surrounding the UFO problem. Yet such understandable and usually easily recognized instances of misidentification have all too often been seized upon as a sufficient explanation for all UFO reports, while the residue of far more significant reports (numbering now of order one thousand) are ignored. I believe science is in default for having failed to mount any truly adequate studies of this problem, a problem that has aroused such strong and widespread public concern during the past two decades. Unfortunately, the present climate of thinking, above all since release of the latest of a long series of inadequate studies, namely, that conducted under the direction of Dr. E. U. Condon at the University of Colorado, will make it very difficult to secure any new and more thorough investigations, yet my own examination of the problem forces me to call for just such new studies. I am enough of a realist to sense that, unless the present AAAS UFO Symposium succeeds in making the scientific community aware of the seriousness of the UFO problem, little immediate response to any call for new investigation is likely to appear.

In fact, the over-all public and scientific response to the UFO phenomena is itself a matter of substantial scientific interest, above all in its social-psychological aspects. Prior to my own investigations, I would never have imagined the wide spread reluctance to report an unusual and seemingly inexplicable event, yet that reluctance, and the attendant reluctance of scientists to exhibit serious interest in the phenomena in question, are quite general. One regrettable result is the fact that the most credible of UFO witnesses are often those most reluctant to come forward with a report of the event they have witnessed. A second regrettable result is that only a very small number of scientists have taken the time and trouble to search out the nearly puzzling reports that tend to be diluted out by the much larger number of trivial and non-significant UFO reports. The net result is that there still exists no general scientific recognition of the scope and nature of the UFO problem."

Sadly, his words are just as relevant today - 36 years later.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Time Travel, UFOs & the Media

There I was, sitting with my lunch reading today's National Post (one of Canada's two national newspapers).

I turned first, as I almost always do, to the Editorial page.

What did I find? Well, the two editorials were "India belongs on the Security Council" and "Time to end 'racist' name calling," both of which were eminently sensible. Then there was a column by political writer Andrew Coyne, "The best friends money can buy," about how Canada's ruling Liberal Party pretty much bribes its way to power (alas, sadly true).

But it was the fourth piece that really caught my eye. In the "Informed Sources" section was an article titled "Calling all time travelers." It was an edited transcript from the promotional web site for the Time Traveler Convention being held today on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Now, to be fair, the Post did describe it as an "unusual" conference, which indicates that the editorial staff may not be ready to endorse the concept of time travel just yet.

But there it was, nonetheless - on the main editorial page of one of Canada's two national newspapers.

I thought immediately of the recent X-Conference, which had NOT appeared on the Post's editorial page, or anywhere else for that matter. As far as I know, not a peep about it was uttered in the mainstream press up here, and probably not much south of the border either.

Of course, the UFO phenomenon in general gets very little press coverage these days, at least in the mainstream media.

Why is that, I wonder?

The answer can be seen by comparing the roster of speakers for the MIT conference (which can be viewed at, all serious academics, with the roster at your average UFO conference. Or try the venue - one of the country's major universities, as compared to the local Hilton hotel.

'Nuff said.

It says something about the state of ufology, and the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis in particular, that time travel can get the press coverage, and some serious academic attention and action, and UFOs cannot.

This should be a cause for some major soul searching within the ranks of ufology.

Instead, I predict the response will be to blame the media, or accuse it of being part of the government cover-up / Cosmic Watergate / Conspiracy of Silence.

Of course, if you want to know more about time travel and the MIT conference, you could also have tuned into the Today Show on NBC yesterday. It seems they got some play there, too.

Paul Kimball

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Experiencers

I do not use the word "abductees" when discussing those who claim to have been abducted by alien beings. It implies an objective conclusion that, on the basis of the available evidence, simply cannot be proved.

This does not mean that some of these people did not have a genuine experience with something that our science cannot explain.

Accordingly, I use the term "experiencers."

This is the term that I also use, with the utmost respect, to describe people who claim to have had direct contact with the Divine. Again, an experience that science is unable to explain.

Take, for example, the "experience" of Atlantic Canada's most important religious leader, Henry Alline (painting below), a man whose life and writings I have studied extensively. In 1776, the 28 year old Alline underwent a spiritual conversion that changed his life. It led him to launch a "New Light" Christian ministry that was nothing short of revolutionary. By the time of his death eight short years later (from the tuberculosis with had plagued him throughout much of his time as an evangelist), his "Great Awakening" had changed society in Atlantic Canada (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, New England) in ways that are still felt today.

It is his description of his "experience with the Divine," however, that is most intriguing.

He wrote in his Journal:

"My whole soul, that was a few minutes ago groaning under mountains of death, wading through storms of sorrow, racked with distressing fears, and crying to an unknown God for help, was now filled with immortal love, soaring on the wings of faith, freed from the chains of death and darkness, and crying out my Lord and my God; thou art my rock and my fortress, my shield and my high tower, my life, my joy, my present and everlasting portion."

The sudden, transforming power of Alline's experience - his spiritual regeneration, as he termed it - led him to declare that he had been "ravished with a divine ecstasy" and wrapped up in God." Over and over in his sermons, pamphlets and hymns in the years that followed, he referred to being "married" to his Saviour. He was overwhelmed by a Divine Love, a spiritual rapture, which I simply cannot comprehend, but accept as sincere - and real.

Time and space stopped for him, seemingly literally. God, he wrote, lived in "One Eternal Now" and that the "redeemed" inhabited the same place - in a sense, meaning that they could transcend temporal boundaries, and travel through time. For the truly converted there was no sense of "Time, and Space, and successive Periods." Salvation and Damnation, Alline wrote in Two Mites:

"originate here at your own Door; for with God there never was any such Thing, as before or after, Millions of Ages, before time began, and as many more, after Time is at a Period, being the very same instant; consider neither Time past nor Time to come, but one Eternal NOW; consider that with God there is neither Succession nor Progress; but that with Him the Moment He said let us make Man, and the Sound of the last Trumpet, is the very same instant, and your death as much first as your Birth... with God all things are NOW... as the Center of a Ring, which is as near the one side as the other."

Historian George Rawlyk put this amazing experience into perspective in New Light Letters and Songs (Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1983):

"Conversion, therefore, was not only the means whereby those who had freely chosen the 'Electing Love of God' were able, in a spiritual sense, to return to paradise but also the God-given instrument of telescoping time into the 'Eternal Now.' Regeneration was the process which destroyed artificial time and space and astonishingly transformed, for each individual, the mundane - what Alline described as the world of 'Turnips, Cabbages and Potatoes' - into the cosmic and heavenly - 'the Eternity you once, was, and knew.'"

Michio Kaku might take note.

So, you may ask, how does this relate to ufology?

I'm not sure, exactly.

It could be simply that the world is full of strange things that we cannot explain, in many different, unrelated areas.

But I sense it might be more than that - something bigger, more profound. That there are links... that there are people who experience things that are "otherworldly." These experiences may be tailored to a certain era - Alline, accordingly, believed his was spiritual, because that was the common reference point of his time. People in our technological era may use different language, and even tell different stories, to describe what is, essentially, the same thing - an "experience" with an intelligence that we cannot comprehend.

A final note. Simeon Perkins, a prosperous merchant in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and contemporary of Alline, kept a journal throughout his life. He eventually broke with Alline over theological differences (the devil is always, it seems, in the - very human - details), but initially he was favourably impressed. After attending a sermon by Alline, he wrote, "This is a wonderful day and Evening. Never did I behold such an Appearance of the Spirit of God moving upon the people."

What makes Perkins interesting is that he also recorded Canada's first UFO sighting. In 1796, he wrote:

"A strange story comes from the Bay of Fundy, that ships have been seen in the air. Mr. Darrow is lately come from there by land. I inquired of him. He stated that they were said to be seen at New Minas, near Mr. Ratchford's, by a girl about sunrise. The girl cried out and two men, who were in the house, came out and saw them. There were 15 ships and a man forward with his hands stretched out. They made to the eastward. They were so near people saw their sides and ports. The story did not obtain universal credit, but some people believed it."

The Bay of Fundy - the same general area where Henry Alline had met his God twenty years earlier, and, forever changed by that experience, went on to make history.

Time past, time present, time future.

To paraphrase the Bard, "there are more things in heaven and earth, Ufology, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 02, 2005

Carl Sagan - An Opportunity Missed

The late Carl Sagan was often looked upon by pro-ETH ufologists as a debunker.

While that may have been true later in his life, at least by the sometimes narrow standards of pro-ETH ufologists (they of the "pelicanist" and "Klasskurtzian" labels), it certainly wasn't the case earlier in his career. Here's a letter to Sagan from a REAL debunker, Dr. Donald Menzel, that gives an idea of (a) just how irrational Menzel could be, particularly about James McDonald, and (b) that Sagan, whom I admired, had an open mind - perhaps a bit too open for some of his peers, if not for ufologists, especially those of a pro-MJ-12, conspiracy-angle bent (see The Demon Haunted World).

Take, for example, Stan Friedman (another guy I admire). In Top Secret / Majic he wrote:

"Another illustration of Carl's misrepresentations about UFOs is this statement in The Demon Haunted World: 'There are reliably reported cases that are unexotic, and exotic cases that are unreliable. There are no cases - despite well over a million UFO reports since 1947 - in which something so strange that it could only be an extraterrestrial spacecraft is reported so reliably that misapprehension, hoax or hallucination can be reliably excluded.'"

So, out of this selection, what did Stan choose to focus on?

"That the truth is exactly opposite is borne out by the Air Force's own Project Blue Book Special Report 14. This report, which evaluated 3,201 UFO sightings, categorized the sightings as 'knowns,' 'inknowns,' and 'insufficient information.' Unknown was defined as 'Those reports of sightings wherein the description of the object and its maneuvers could not be fitted to the pattern of any known object or phenomenon.' It also rated the quality of each sighting, from 'excellent' to 'poor.' The number of unknowns - 689 - represented 21.5 percent of all the sightings evaluated. And of the 308 sightings considered 'excellent,' more than 35 percent - 108 - were deemed to be unknowns. The better the quality of the sighting, the more likely it is to be listed as 'unknown.' Clearly, there are many reliably reported 'exotic' cases."

Stan chose to focus on the part of Sagan's statement that was the easiest to attack, without addressing the very pertinent point raised by Sagan - that there had been nothing reported that was so strange that it "could only be an extraterrestrial spacecraft."

Unless you happen to be a proponent of the ETH, this is not an unreasonable conclusion. It is certainly not the conclusion of a debunker, like Menzel. It is "reasoned," and "balanced" (two words the most rabid of the pro-ETH proponents sometimes view the same way that vampires treat holy water).

From Sagan's writings, I always got the feeling that he was open to the possibility of the ETH being valid, but had set the evidential bar higher than those who accepted that the ETH had already been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

I suspect that if the pro-ETH types had been a bit more cautious in their conclusions - offering something like "the evidence clearly proves that some UFO cases, with reliable witnesses, remain unexplained, even after the best efforts of investigators to prove otherwise; further, the possibility that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft cannot be ruled out, although it has yet to be established as fact" - they might have found common ground with people like Carl Sagan.

Ufology would probably be better off today as a result, for a whole host of reasons.

Paul Kimball

ET - Good or Evil?

If the ETH is correct, and ET is visiting Earth, are they good (as the Contactees suggested), or evil (like this space vampire, which is menacing Erin Gray's Colonel Wilma Deering)?

It is a question that continues to be bandied back and forth by some UFO researchers.

Now, you'll sometimes hear a ufologist who favours the "good guy" theory state that for the aliens to have reached the level of technology that would allow them to travel the stars, they must have learned how to deal peacefully with all their problems, or else they would have destroyed themselves. I've heard Stan Friedman touch upon this idea in lectures, for example.

This makes little sense to me, given our own experience. After all, we have developed lots of things that we could use to destroy ourselves (nuclear weapons, biological warfare, reality television), and yet we're still here and moving forward (whether that's forward in a positive or negative way is up to each individual to determine).

The real answer to the question of "what the aliens might be doing here" is:

"Who knows?"

The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that when a ufologist talks about reasons why ET is coming here, he or she is really talking about what they hope are the reasons for ET visiting.

Optimists will see the good; pessimists will see the bad.

Thus, the Contactees, who lived under the shadow of the mushroom cloud, believed ET to be a benign presence, here to help us through turbulent times. Conversely, ever since Vietnam and Watergate, the aliens are more likely to be portrayed as bad, usually tied into some government conspiracy.

As far as I'm concerned, trying to assign motives to ET (whether they are coming here or not) is like trying to assign human motives to God. It is a fruitless exercise that says more about us than them.

While this may be interesting to psychologists, it is of little use to the investigation of the UFO phenomenon.

Paul Kimball

MJ-12 "Old School"

The original MJ-12 research team. From left to right, researcher / author William Moore, film & television producer Jaime Shandera, and researcher / author Stan Friedman. Photo courtesy of Stan Friedman.

With the release of Greg Bishop's book Project Beta, about the Paul Bennewitz affair (which Moore was involved in), along with a new book co-written by former AFOSI agent Richard Doty (who many have fingered as the man behind the MJ-12 forgeries), expect the MJ-12 discussion to take off yet again.

For good... or ill.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, May 01, 2005

UFOs and Intelligence Operations

A while back, I offered the conclusion that the information passed along to Wilbert Smith by Robert Sarbacher back in 1950 was part of some intelligence operation - looking at the evidence and the information that Sarbacher provided, this seems to me to be the most logical conclusion. Some ufologists scoffed at my conclusion (without much discussion, I might add, of the evidence). However, they did ask a salient question - where's the proof that such operations, of any sort, were being undertaken.

The following memo, from 1952, demonstrates that these types of operations were definitely part of the ufological mix. Yes, 1952 was after Sarbacher - Smith. However, I post this not to prove my original conclusion, per se, but simply to show that using the UFO phenomenon for intelligence purposes was definitely happening in that time period.

"Central Intelligence Agency
Office of the Director

Memorandum To: Director, Psychological Strategy Board

Subject: Flying Saucers

1. I am today transmitting to the National Security Council a proposal (TAB A) in which it is concluded that the problems connected with unidentified flying objects appear to have implications for psychological warfare as well as for intelligence and operations.

2. The background for this view is presented in some detail in TAB B.

3. I suggest that we discuss at an early board meeting the possible offensive or defensive utilization of these phenomena for psychological warfare purposes.

Walter B. Smith

If the CIA was getting into the UFO game for psychological warfare or intelligence operations in 1952, one wonders whether other agencies (the Air Force, for example) were already playing that game?

Or whether they're still playing them today (MJ-12 pops to mind)?


Paul Kimball