Friday, March 31, 2006

Greg Bishop's Bill Moore Interviews

Greg Bishop, radio host / author / paranormalist, has conducted some excellent interviews over the years with one of the seminal figures of the UFO scene in the 1980s, Bill Moore (of Roswell / MJ-12 fame, or infamy, depending on your perspective). A lot of people think Moore is a pretty slippery character, and maybe he is given his involvement with AFOSI, and the Bennewitz affair, and so forth. But he also still has some interesting, pointed, and relevant things to say about UFOs, and ufology, that are worth a listen.

For example, here's an excerpt from an interview that Greg conducted with Moore way back in 1993 (with whom I corresponded while making Do You Believe in Majic, and found to be quite friendly, although he ultimately declined my request to be interviewed for the film):

"MOORE: ...One thing that I find the most outrageous...actually there are two things. One is that most of the people who are into UFO research are their own worst enemies. They sabotage their own efforts before they even get under way through ignorance in how to proceed. Through a preconceived position of "well this is what I'm going to find, so if I find anything that doesn't fit, I'll ignore it." and by broadcasting far and wide exactly what they're doing, and by their blind belief that in what the Freedom Of Information Act is going to get them. What happens is when you tell somebody what you know, it immediately shows up on the (UFO rumor) grapevine. If you've told your friends, you've told everybody. If there's anything to it, people who are custodians of the information can detect where it came from immediately, and will rush to protect it... The other thing that bothers me is that the greater portion of the UFO community exists to feed off itself. In other words, they don't want to find an answer--they want to find more questions."

That's Bill Moore - always controversial, always stirring the pot... and sometimes making sense, at least about some things. Just remember to carefully separate the wheat from the chaff.

For more of Greg's interviews with Moore, including more recent ones, check out Greg's website, The Excluded Middle.

Paul Kimball

Mainstream Media, or Mainstream Morons? Sometimes It's Hard to Tell

I'm not a proponent of the "Roswell as a crashed alien spacecraft" theory, but to label the Roswell Incident as a hoax, which is what a reporter for the Indianapolis Star did yesterday (as reported here, in the Detroit Free Press), is just ridiculous.

From the article, which was about the 10 greatest hoaxes:

"No. 3: Roswell, N.M.
It's 1947, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is on in earnest, and a rancher in Roswell, N.M., finds some debris out on the range. Obviously, a flying saucer had crashed. According to Infoplease, what lent credibility to the reports of a government cover-up was the fact that there probably was a government cover-up, but of high-altitude spy balloons, not flying saucers. For years, people reported seeing flying saucers, and in the 1990s, TV's "The X-Files" propelled the myth to new heights."

I defend the media to ufologists on a regular basis (it ain't easy considering Fox "News"). But guys like this writer, who don't even understand what a "hoax" is, just make it harder and harder.

Of course, he also gets his facts wrong. For example, he assumes that Roswell was widely known at the time, and in the decades following, and led to all of the UFO sightings. This is just plain wrong, as the Roswell story was quickly squelched (for what reason is still the subject of intense debate within ufology). It also happened after the Kenneth Arnold sighting, which is when the flying saucer era really took off (no pun intended) - it wasn't until the late 1970s that Roswell re-surfaced in the public consciousness.

As for the government cover-up stuff, Donald Keyhoe and others were working that side of the street long before Roswell hit the big time. Heck, even Stan Friedman was convinced of a cover-up years before he ever heard of Roswell.

But it gets worse.

From there, the reporter uses his "Roswell hoax" angle to besmirch ALL UFO sightings.

Good grief.

FYI - I'm sure that the United States Air Force crew members involved in the RB-47 case weren't thinking of Roswell in 1957. Nor was Kelly Johnson et al thinking of Roswell in 1953. Nor were the fishermen and other witnesses of Shag Harbour (including a pal of mine who saw "it" fly over Halifax on its way down the shore) thinking of Roswell in 1967. Nor was... well, you get the idea. The list is, literally, endless.

As for the X-Files propelling the "myth" to new heights, that may be true, in the sense that the show was very popular for a while, but the X-Files was inspired by the UFO phenomenon, and the cases, and yes, even the conspiracy theories, not the other way around. One should always try to avoid confusing fact with fiction, and reality with fantasy. The reporter's version is roughly akin to saying that The West Wing inspired John Kerry's run for president in 2004. On the other hand, given the level of intellectual acumen the reporter has demonstrated so far, perhaps he believes that there really was a President Bartlett? Who knows?

Time to send ABE AAMIDOR, the author of the article (I hesitate to use the word "reporter"), back to the court-house beat, where he can fill his days writing little snippets about which hooker just got caught with which city council member. He might - might - be able to handle that.

In the meantime, he should buy a dictionary and check out the definition of the word "hoax".

Here's a push in the right direction, courtesy of the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language:

"Hoax n. 1. a humorous or mischievous deception, esp. a practical joke. 2. something intended to deceive or defraud."

Assuming that Abe actually exists (I'm willing to admit that there is a possibility that "Abe Aamidor" is just a group of monkeys banging away at typewriters), he might want to pick up a copy of Dick Hall's The UFO Evidence, and The UFO Evidence, Vol. II.

Nah - that would require him to do some real reporting.

All of which leads us to the real Q & A of this little story...

What's the true number one hoax here?

That Abe Aamidor is a competent journalist.

Paul Kimball

Fembot, Stepford Wife, Alien Robot, or Wax Dummy?

Take a look at this photo, and ask yourself - is Paris Hilton for real (and I mean literally, not figuratively)?

Personally, I think she looks like some sort of creepy fembot (as opposed to the hot, sexy type of fembot, as found in re-runs of The Six Million Dollar Man), but I'm willing to entertain other possibilities, such as...

1. She's a Stepford Wife. However, as she's not actually married, this doesn't seem valid.

2. She's an Alien robot. However, as the aliens have to be more advanced than we are to travel here, I can't believe that they would create something this useless and bring it along for the ride (or, God forbid, actually let her fly the ship). Unless they are evil aliens, a la the David Jacobs theory, in which case it is possible that they're trying to drive us all insane.

3. She's a wax dummy. I think the latter part of "wax dummy" is a given, but the fact that she can move (in all sorts of directions, wink wink, nudge nudge, check out the video) makes the wax part unlikely.

So I'm sticking with my original theory - she's a creepy fembot.

Needless to say, this hardly represents a step forward for science.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Mac Tonnies, at his always thought-provoking blog Posthuman Blues, has been speculating lately about the relative likelihood of the two primary non-mundane explanations for the UFO phenomenon, the Extra-terrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), i.e. "they" are from other worlds, and the Extra (or Ultra) dimensional Hypothesis (EDH), i.e. that "they" are from some sort of other dimension, or parallel universe. See Mac's columns here and here for his recent columns on the subject, which seem to favour the EDH.

If the proverbial gun was put to my head, and I had to pick one of the two explanations, I go the other way. Call me a "nuts and bolts" guy, but if "they" are here, then I think it is most likely that "they" are coming "from away" as we say in the Maritimes - "away" being somewhere else in our galaxy, probably our local cosmic neighbourhood (to borrow one of Stan Friedman's favourite phrases).


Well, let me state first that I don't rule out the existence of other dimensions, or parallel universes, although I certainly don't accept them as some sort of proven reality. However, unless beings are travelling to our Earth from another Earth in some other dimension (the Sliders / Quantum Leap concept), or some other time perhaps (hello, Dr. Who), then they are by definition extraterrestrial, and so the ETH, even if it relies on the EDH or TDH for them to get here, is the most valid theory.

For me, the key thing is, the ETH is the one theory - other than the "its all explainable by terrestrial phenomena" theory - that we could actually accomplish, with our current level of knowledge (or something very close to it), should we ever decide to apply the resources necessary. If we accept that there is other life in our nearby cosmic neighborhood, which seems more and more likely with each passing year, then it is reasonably likely (at least 50/50) that they have that same technology, or better. That technology doesn't have to be thousands of years beyond our own - it may only have to be a few decades beyond our own. After all, look how far we've come in the past 100 years. Heck, look how far we've advanced in the past 10! Now, consider what we will be able to accomplish in 1,000 years, or say 5,000 - a blip on the universal clock. Michio Kaku has some interesting thoughts on this topic well worth reading.

To me, the people who seem to gravitate to the EDH are motivated by an inability to comprehend why an ET race would behave in the manner that some seem to, according to reports. Assuming those reports are true (a big assumption, but...), all I can say is "so, what makes it unlikely that they are ET?" After all, we know nothing about how an ET civilization would be structured - their social order, their behaviour, their concept of morality (if they even have one), their beliefs, etc. To assume that they would behave anything like us is the height of cultural hubris. To assume that they're coming here as a result of us, as opposed to some other reason, is also big leap. As far as "they" are concerned, we might occupy the same place on the evolutionary chain as an ant does to me when I walk down the sidewalk. I usually don't even notice them. Finally, to assume that "they" are biological entities is a big assumption as well. Odds are that "they" may be artificial life forms of some sort (here's hoping it's not an advance scouting party for the Borg, but something more along the lines of Tickle-Me-Elmo, or Jessica Simpson, pictured left, two of the more friendly artificial "life" forms on our planet).

Rather than grapple with these questions, however, the EDH supporters have basically thrown up their hands and said something to the effect of "well, aliens would never behave like that, so it must be some sort of extra / ultra-dimensional reality". Consider me unimpressed with that line of "reasoning".

It gets worse when people trot out the concept of "the Trickster" - as far as I'm concerned, you might as well be talking about leprechauns, or saying that it's all the work of Satan, because at this point you've moved beyond any real scientific reasoning, and into the land of myth, or belief. Nothing wrong with that, but just don't expect me to buy into it as a reasonable working hypothesis based on science, because it isn't. It's more suited for the Dungeons and Dragons set.

Anyway, as nobody knows for sure what UFOs are, much less where they might be from, then the debate is not much more than an interesting way to pass the time. The problem comes when one group insists, as they often do, that their "theory" is "fact". In my experience, this is usually the ETH die-hards (although I've noticed the EDH die-hards getting more vocal lately about the primacy of their view), which is where I part ways with them. I agree with them that their theory is more plausible than the EDH. But neither is anywhere near proven as a fact.

Still, when push comes to shove, I'm an ETH guy.

Emphasis always on the "H".

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

April Poll - Prelude IV

This time, Mac shares the photo with Jeri Ryan, who played Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager (as well as a very sexy vampiress in Dracula: 2000).

Hmm... Mac looks like a Borg in this photo, which is what happens when you become obsessed with your new cell phone camera.


Stay tuned.

Paul Kimball

I am Boston!

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.

Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.

And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

Well, looks like Blogthings got this one right, as Boston is my favourite American city.

Santa Fe, San Francisco, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Austin (Texas), Washington, Montpelier (Vermont), and Concord (New Hampshire) are the "next-best" American cities in my view, at least of the ones I've visited over the years. I also have a soft spot for Reno, Nevada.

Later this spring I'll be in Portland, Oregon, which sounds nice, so I'm looking forward to visiting there for the first time. Alas, I'll also be in one of my least favourite cities, Los Angeles, on the same trip.

Oh well - nothing is perfect.

Go Sox!

Paul Kimball

April Poll - Prelude III

The next instalment in our prelude series features Mac Tonnies and actress Natalie Portman, of Star Wars and V for Vendetta.

I just got back from seeing V for Vendetta - what a powerful, moving, heart-stopping film - it's a must-see for everyone, whether you like sci-fi or not (one wonders how much of it may soon be sci-fact). Portman is excellent in the film, as is Stephen Rea as the cop who finds his conscience, and Stephen Fry as a subversive television host, but it is Hugo Weaving as "V" who stands out - we never once see his face, and yet his voice alone, and how he uses the language, makes him the most compelling "super-hero" character I have ever seen (and I say that as a HUGE fan of Batman, especially Christopher Nolan's recent version).

But I digress...

We are approaching April 1st, or, as I like to call it, poll day.

Stay tuned.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

April Poll - Prelude II

At left there is a composite photo of Posthuman Blues blogger Mac Tonnies and actress Scarlett Johansson, whose sci-fi credential is The Island (which co-starred Obi-wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor), as part of the lead-up to the April poll here at The Other Side of Truth.

Stay tuned...

Paul Kimball

April Poll - Prelude I

The Other Side of Truth polls for February and March were decidedly serious (final results from the March poll in a couple of days - there's still time to vote). However, my personal motto is "all work and no play makes Paul a dull guy" (well, there's also the personal motto about the hookers and beer while watching a hockey game, but that's another story), so the April poll won't be quite so ufologically oriented, although it will have a sci-fi theme... sort of.

However, as a prelude to the poll, I have to provide some visual options. I won't tell you what the poll is just yet, but these photos may give you some clue.

At left is a combined photo of After the Martian Apocalypse author, sci-fi guru and Posthuman Blues blogger Mac Tonnies, one of my Internet chums (in his best "I want to be a Borg pose"), and actress Gillian Anderson, of "Agent Scully" fame.

What does this portend?

Stay tuned.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 27, 2006

Betty Hill vs. the Psychics!

Dr. J. Allen Hynek wasn't the only celebrity of ufology to appear on CBC's Beyond Reason panel quiz show back in the late 1970s. On November 21, 1978, Betty Hill, the original abductee, went head-to-head against the psychic panel, with interesting results (as was the case with Hynek). You can view the program on-line at the CBC Archives.

My favourite moment comes when astrologer Geoff Gray-Cobb says "you enjoy helping the underprivileged, says Uranus". It is a Bart Simpson calls Moe's Bar moment!

To be fair to Gray-Cobb, however, he also states that the astrological chart says: "Here we have some peculiar form of travelling - can we connect an odd vehicle with you?"

Spooky, especially when you see who got Hill's identity right in the end.

Paul Kimball

The UFO Iconoclast(s) - The Ufoological Equivalent of the Big Mac

Ahhh, the UFO Iconoclast(s) aka the RRR Group. They may not have anything useful to offer ufology, but they are an important part of ufoology.

The latest, a little post called "The New Wasteland":

"Television was called the vast wasteland by one-time FCC Chairman Newton Minnow many years ago. But the epithet applies nowadays to blogs and blogging, with UFO blogs becoming one of the most arid categories in the new wasteland. UFO bloggers can’t stick with investigating UFOs but invariably resort to critiquing other UFO blog or bloggers.That’s a useless exercise but it is ubiquitous in the UFO community. This goes to the inherent defensive posture of ufologists, who are looked at askance by “normal” society so they try to make a psychological corrective by attacking fellow bloggers and like-themed blogs, trying to give the appearance that they – the attackers – are really objective and decent folk, without the flaws and glitches that betray the bloggers they are attacking. Communists used to apply the technique: commies accused others of the very malfeasances they were committing. UFOs are not fecund enough to keep UFO bloggers entranced, as might have been the case in the late-40s and into the late-60s. UFOs have become boring, so ufologists have turned cannibalistic, eating their own offspring or others in their tribe. This merely worsens “ufology” in the eyes of government officials, the military, the scientific arena, media, and the public at large. Internecine ufological attacks provide the excitement that UFOs themselves do not. It’s a sociopathic problem more than anything, but real ufologists have gone underground, leaving the nitpicking to the cretans who, since don’t have enough moxie to resolve the UFO mystery, have descended into the world of ad hominems and character assassination. Like UFOs need another category of weird to make them anathema to sensible, intelligent people."

Hahahahaha... all this coming from the same bunch who made their mark by attacking ufologists. Indeed, that was what the RRR Group blog was basically all about (as more than a few of us, who continually gave them the benefit of the doubt, found out to our ultimate chagrin).

The latest incarnation, the so-called UFO Iconoclast(s), is apparently no different. They have nothing positive to offer to the serious study of the UFO phenomenon. They are anarchists, lobbing their little bombs willy-nilly, at anyone and everyone they don't like, don't agree with, or are just plain jealous of. They fall firmly into the "methinks they doth protest too much category".

I have to give them credit, however - it takes a certain type of moxie / chutzpah to criticize people for using ad homimem attacks while at the same time calling them "cretans who don't have enough moxie to resolve the UFO mystery". This is either irony, or hypocrisy... or perhaps a bit of both. The former is no doubt unintentional, the concept of irony being beyond their intellectual abilities (such as they are) to grasp, while the latter is fairly representative of who they really are, and what they represent. Either way, they put the "fool" into ufoology.

They do amuse, however, which - so long as you don't take them seriously - provides a certain redeeming value. They are the equivalent of ufoological junk food. After all, a McDonald's Big Mac will fill your stomach in the short term, but offers very little in the way of nutritional value. Ditto the Iconoclast(s), only substitute "mind" for "food", and "intellectual" for "nutritional".

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hynek vs. The Psychics!

In June, 1977, CBC debuted a television series called Beyond Reason, which I remember watching as a kid. The show orginated as a summer replacement for the popular quiz show Front Page Challenge.

It was a panel show based on the contemporary interest in psychic phenomena. The program's creator, Allan Spraggett, appeared as the show's expert and adjudicator. The panelists included astrologer Geoff Gray-Cobb of Vancouver, clairvoyant Irene Hughes of Chicago, palmist Marcel Broekman of New York, and graphologist Marilyn Rossner of Montreal.

They were brought to the National Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, where the show was taped, with CBC Winnipeg announcer Bill Guest as moderator. As in Front Page Challenge, the panelists had to guess the identity of mystery guests. However, the panelists were given information appropriate to their practice (Gray-Cobb was given the date, time, and place of birth of the guest; Hughes was provided with personal possessions from which to gain impressions; Broekman had a handprint; and Rossner had a sample of the guest's handwriting). The psychics were also kept in isolation to keep them from communicating with each other.

The show lasted until October, 1980. As a kid, I thought it was a lot of fun, in a goofy way.

Legendary ufologist Dr. J. Allen Hynek appeared on the program (as did Betty Hill). For a good chuckle, and some fond memories of Hynek, you can watch his appearance here.

I won't tell you whether Hynek succeeded in stumping the paranormal "experts" - you'll have to see for yourself. The results may surprise you, unless you're a psychic, in which case you already know the answer - don't you!

Either way, make sure you stick around for the interview section with Hynek.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yoda to UFO Iconoclast(s): Try Not. Do!

The UFO Iconoclast(s), in their most recent posting, "Beyond the Fringe", write:

"...So what should be done about UFOs? We say that nothing should be done, now. The enigmatic phenomenon hasn’t provided anything of value, scientifically or otherwise, despite the contention by some ufologists to the contrary. The proof is in the flying saucer pudding as it were. Scientific analyses are not forthcoming, and no one who claims to be ufologist (Maccabee et al.) has the bona fides or credentials to matter to those who are truly professional. And some operate outside their area of expertise, confusing the public and real scientists by their peripheral expertise (Rudiak). Semi-famous UFO mythologist, Jacques Vallee, is a computer scientist, yet even his pronouncements are derided by the overall scientific community. While the evidence is overwhelming that UFOs are real (but unidentified by the sobriquet itself), no one in official circles is examining the phenomenon – overtly. The military and covert agencies (the CIA, NSA, Navy intelligence, et cetera) have studied and continue to study sightings and related UFO events, producing nothing of value as far as society is concerned. Even military applications, derived from various UFO projects over the years, seem to be deficient when it comes to aircraft design and outer space exploration. (The Stealth bomber and other aircraft, including the mysterious triangular craft reported rather abundantly for several years, have not performed as UFOs or, rather, “flying saucers” have been seen and reported to do.) The epithet of “UFO believer” is not going away. And scientists, real scientists, are not going to pursue the phenomenon any time soon, probably never. So, what to do? We suggest, and have suggested elsewhere, that UFOs must be seen in the context of their inherent importance, or lack thereof, and be studied quietly by ufologists, who are not about to gainsay their existence but should stop trying to convince an impassive public and irresolute governments of the UFO significance. UFOs are not significant.They have not ever been, and will never be, no matter how much UFO diehards would wish it to be otherwise."

I can see the Iconoclast(s) now, hanging out with Galileo, or Newton, and saying, "aw, c'mon guys, give it up."

Fortunately, someone like Dick Hall is around to counter this kind of lazy defeatism.

In an excellent recent article at SkyControl, Hall writes:

"Review of Scientific Objections

1. Only naive, poorly trained observers report UFOs.

Reply: People from all walks of life and all educational levels, and all occupational categories, have reported UFOs, including scientists, engineers, professional pilots, university professors, and clergymen.

2. People see UFOs because they are looking for "salvation" from our earthly problems.

Reply: The fear, puzzlement, and deep concern that time after time is manifested by witnesses contradicts the notion that people somehow see "salvation" in UFOs.

3. The notion that such a gigantic event as contact with alien beings could be kept secret is absurd.

Reply: Not if the people who have significant information about UFOs are just as puzzled and confused as everyone else, don’t know what it all means, and are more inclined to avoid the subject as much as possible and "hope it will go away" than to confess that they don’t have any answers.

4. UFOs, if they exist, obviously must be some natural phenomenon.

Reply: Those who use this argument clearly are unaware of the nature and scope of UFO data and have bought into the "vague lights" stereotype. Other natural phenomena that impact human society in a lesser fashion than UFOs receive far more funding for scientific study. This ill-considered argument trivializes the very large body of data that its proponents are either unaware of or ignoring.

5. The occurrence of a UFO sighting is not predictable, the events are not repeatable, therefore UFOs can’t be studied.

Reply: UFOs are at least as repeatable and predictable as automobile accidents, tornadoes, hurricanes, and meteorites, and can be studied by some of the same scientific approaches that are applied to these events.

6. There is nothing of any substance to investigate.

Reply: Read this paper, study the cited literature. What Science Could Do

Aside from the potentially fertile fields of study that UFOs offer to scholars in sociology, history, psychology, history and sociology of science, anthropology, and political science, the ways that the physical and biological sciences COULD meaningfully study these reports is limited only by two lacks: lack of imagination and lack of funding. The following suggestions merely scratch the surface:

1. Have multidisciplinary teams on standby to go to the scene of a close encounter UFO sighting with reported physical or physiological evidence, systematically gather data, and conduct all appropriate laboratory analyses. Apply forensic science investigative techniques very much like those used at an accident site or crime scene. In the case of physiological effects on witnesses, conduct appropriate medical tests. For vehicles that have experienced E-M effects, make notes on the age and condition of the engine, document the ignition system and lights, and check vehicle for magnetic signature.

2. Develop an instrumentation package to transport quickly to areas where UFO sightings persist for a period of time (there are numerous precedents for this). Include sophisticated tracking cameras and special films, diffraction gratings or other light spectrum analyzers, broad-spectrum electromagnetic energy detectors, and tape recorders with sensitive directional microphones for recording sound.

3. Compile a computer data base of all cases that meet a certain minimum set of standards geared toward potential evidential value. Conduct statistical analyses of geophysical associations. Systematically study the data relevant to propulsion clues and UFO physics.

4. Compile historical evidence on radar-visual UFO sightings, encourage current reporting of radar-visual cases to a central agency, and analyze these cases in terms of known radar imagery and the particular radar set capabilities.

5. Compile historical catalogues of all known physical and physiological evidence cases and systematically acquire all extant analysis reports. Encourage current reporting of similar cases to a central agency. This would include E-M effects on vehicles and effects on humans and animals, as well as physical trace evidence.

6. Encourage reputable witnesses who are willing to swear an affidavit about their still photographs or motion picture/videotape films, use a selective process to determine which films potentially have probative value, and submit the selected films to expert photoanalysis.

7. Establish a refereed scientific journal that will entertain articles reporting on case investigations, physical and physiological evidence, and analysis reports and promote thorough peer review of all scientific studies.

Why Study UFOs?

The benefits to society of mounting a true scientific study of UFO reports are numerous. There should be no stigma attached to scientists (or science) for conducting an open-minded investigation of an extremely widely reported phenomenon that is of deep concern to so many people. In fact, UFO data could be used to teach proper scientific methods when dealing with mysterious or borderline events. This approach has been suggested by a team of scientists, engineers, and science teachers. (Christensen et al., 1989)

In countless cases, human beings have been badly frightened by sudden menacing close encounters with brilliantly luminous, craft-like objects and their lives have been disrupted. Frequently medical injuries have resulted to the witnesses, apparently due to the energy fields involved. (Niemtzow, 1980) While trying to alert society to the phenomenon, they have been further shocked by receiving ridicule rather than respectful attention.

Human reactions to the UFO phenomenon also must be understood in the context of growing skepticism (sometimes bordering on paranoia) about Government secrecy and concealment of important information from the public in an allegedly democratic society. A pervasive and largely unnecessary practice of arbitrary secrecy has proliferated since World War II. This has tended to stifle open discussion of many other potentially serious issues or problems (e.g., secret medical experiments on human beings; workers unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive substances or cancer-causing chemicals).

Similarly, science and the news media are increasingly viewed with suspicion when they, in effect, ridicule rather than investigate. A program to confront UFO reports head-on and open up the subject to a fair-minded investigation could help to clear the air and to establish from the ground up (not necessarily buying into preconceived viewpoints) whether the evidence is trivial or nontrivial. An open-minded, objective program that treats UFO reports seriously might also help to restore some trust and faith in our major institutions.

Scientific funding, ultimately, comes from the public. Why not determine in a fair and even-handed way whether the public is willing to support a serious, objective investigation? Perhaps a good place to start would be a national poll that, properly designed, could work around the crushing effects of ridicule and find out what people would like to see done about UFO reports.

UFOs as craft–as someone else’s technology–is one important hypothesis that could be tested. (In my estimation, it is the most likely hypothesis to be proven true.) But alternative hypotheses could be tested as well, so that the study would consider all possibilities. The scientific initiatives outlined above surely would discover a presently unrecognized natural phenomenon if that is the answer.

Having observed and/or participated in past attempts at scientific study of UFOs, however, I would caution that systematic and thorough data gathering (current and historical) necessarily must be the first and foremost element in any study with pretensions for being "scientific." Very little real science has been done on UFOs in 50 years. Instead, brief and superficial reviews and a lot of ill-informed and biased guesswork has been presented as "science."

Beware, particularly, of all arguments that follow the form of "UFOs can’t be real because…." Many precedents in the history of science should give us pause about that type of reasoning."

As we can see from the excerpts highlighted above, there are two ways to deal with the UFO phenomenon.

The first is to sit on the sidelines, lobbing potshots at those who would take the phenomenon seriously, and who encourage others to do so as well. Ridicule those interested in the serious study of UFOs as "hobbyists", and denigrate their work.

That would be the modus operandi of the so-called UFO Iconoclast(s).

The second is to do what people with drive, ideas, and the intellectual capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time do - offer critiques of the naysayers, and then offer real-world solutions for how the UFO phenomenon could be studied.

That would be Richard Hall (or any one of a number of other thoughtful researchers and commentators).

It is the difference between being a doer (and perhaps even a bit of a dreamer, as the best thinkers have always been), and a do-nothing.

It is the difference between being Yoda ("No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.") and some guy who only heard the first part of Yoda's statement ("No. Try not.").

In pop music terms, it is the difference between being Paul McCartney on the one hand, and the guy with no musical talent or ambition on the other, but who nonetheless feels obliged (and somehow entitled) to whine about McCartney writing too many "silly love songs".

And so forth.

Guess which method I prefer?

Paul Kimball

A Fork in the Road, and the Return of "?"

I've been under the weather the past two weeks or so, which is a nice little euphemism for "I've been sick as a dog". Accordingly, I haven't been blogging... or doing much of anything else, really.

Stupid flu.

However, I have been keeping tabs on the various Internet sites that I, well, keep tabs on, and a short opinion piece by Robert Goerman at the Fate Magazine blog, tilted "A Fork in the Road", caught my eye. It's worth a quick read.

A couple of excerpts:

"The time has come to mount an effort to ethically investigate and seriously research unknown and unexplained phenomena. The war between two extreme positions, between the blind skeptical denial of debunkers and the blind certainty of the 'true believers' continues to distort, bias and censor the data."

"The Bermuda Triangle, MJ-12, the so-called 'Philadelphia Experiment,' and Roswell are prime examples of 'mysteries' where time and resources could have been better spent."

"Let’s quit trying to prove that UFOs are either extra-terrestrial spacecraft or nonsense and try to discover what is really happening. Let’s admit how little we know and can prove. Let’s require the same level of ethical self-criticism and oversight as other sciences."

Well said, Mr. Goerman.

In other ufological news, it looks like a "new" group of UFO opinionators are making waves over at the UFO Iconoclast(s) blog. I place "new" in quotation marks because, if you read what the Iconoclast(s) have written, it should strike a familiar chord with you, and you should be able to surmise who they really are. Here's a hint: They don't seem to have much use for the "old-timers" of ufology, and they tend to use words like "maven" and "hoi polloi" a lot.

Here's a quote from a recent post:

"Ufologists are, by and large, hobbyists. Some have made a slight living by glomming on to the UFO phenomenon (Jerome Clark, Stanton Friedman, and a few others) but most UFO aficionados are mavens, nothing more. After almost 60 years of flying saucer sightings and stories, the hoi polloi will eschew UFO devotees; even those in the public sector who’ve seen a UFO will often berate those who want to know what the things are."

Remind you of anyone you might know?

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pentagon Looks at Creating Cyber-Insect Army

According to the BBC, the Pentagon is looking into the creation of an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives (and, perhaps, to deliver them?) and send transmissions. You can read the full article here.

Apparently, the idea is to insert micro-systems at the pupa stage, when the insects can integrate them into their body, so they can be remotely controlled later.

Umm... am I the only one who thinks this is both wrong and dangerous?

Remember the "slippery slope" is always a pretty good guide with stuff like this (the "thin edge of the wedge" works well too).

Today, insects... tomorrow, humans.

Really, if we can figure out a way to create cyber insect soldiers, can the creation of cyber human soldiers be far behind?

At which point, Kurt Russell's role in the 1998 flick Soldier will start to look more like science fact than science fiction.

There are just some things that I don't think we're ready to be messing around with, and this is one of them.

Two words for you, people - Cylons. CYLONS!

Besides, it creeps me out. Normal bugs are bad enough - I don't need cybernetically altered / enhanced / mutated bugs flying around.

It's morally wrong, scientifically questionable, and, well... just plain ICKY!

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Best Evidence Poll - Links re: lesser known cases

Patrick Huyghe of the Anomalist has suggested that I provide readers with some links to the various cases listed in the Best Evidence poll. Normally, I would do so, but I'm battling a nasty cold right now, so my time and energy is limited. Besides, if you're not aware of cases like Shag Harbour, Bentwaters, Minot AFB, or Belgium, all of which have received substantial public attention in recent years, you probably shouldn't be voting (I'm a big believer in the general principle that the only valid vote is an informed vote).

However, I recognize that there are some cases on the list that, while they are familiar to UFO cognoscenti, may be less familiar to the general public. Accordingly, and not to influence the outcome of the poll in any way, here are some links to those cases where you can find more information.


1953 Agoura (Kelly Johnson) sighting

1947 Lincoln LaPaz sighting

1996 Yukon case

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Laughlin Photo Album - Volume I

Here's a photo of me and the intrepid Rear Admiral Zorgrot, not too far from Oatman, Arizona, while traveling on Route 66.

I don't know about Zorgrot, but I definitely got my kicks on route 66 - it's a great drive from Kingman to Golden Shores (which are anything but), and Oatman is a hoot, espicially if you're a "Wild West" buff. It's a must-see if you're ever in the area. You can even check out the hotel room where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent the first night of their honeymoon.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 13, 2006

Best Evidence Poll

Here's your chance, loyal readers, to participate in the selection of the Top 10 UFO cases for our upcoming documentary, Best Evidence - Top 10 UFO Cases, which begins filming in April.

We have canvassed a large number of top ufologists to help develop the list so far, and now it's your turn to have a say.

You can vote for your top case here. I'll keep the poll open until the end of March.

There are, of course, many top UFO cases, so the 19 listed in the poll are just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to check the "Other" category and leave a comment as to what case you would pick, and why (NOTE: You have to leave the comment here at the blog post, using the comments function - you cannot leave it on the poll itself. Ergo, you can check off "Other" as a poll result, but you must then leave the comment at the blog).

The selection of cases for the film is limited by the following minimum criteria:

i. Must have multiple witnesses (i.e., corroboration) – this could take the form of a single person who has a sighting that is corroborated by radar, for example, or by communication from an aircraft to ground control;

ii. Anonymous witness testimony is not acceptable;

iii. The objects must have been observed at some point in the air (they are “unidentified flying objects” after all).

Keep these criteria in mind, and then register your vote. Feel free to link to the poll at your own site, and spread word of it around to friends and colleagues. The more people participating, the better. I'll factor the results in when we determine the final top 10 list for the film, assigning it a weight equivalent to one of our ufological experts.

Paul Kimball

The Other Side of Life, Vol. VIII

It's been a while since I've posted an instalment of The Other Side of Life, so here's a new one...

This is a photo of Linda (i.e. the "better half") from August, 2004 - inside the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In other words, no, those are not UFOs behind her - although they do resemble the Phoenix Lights a bit.

My favourite part of this trip (which went 8 or 9 days in Laughlin, then Vegas) was seeing a comedy show at Harrah's, wherein one comedian riffed on the "problem" with too many Canadians immigrating into the United States (he must have been thinking of William Shatner), at which point he referred to us as "snowbacks".


Paul Kimball

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Habstars, SETI and the ETH

The following article is from the Economist, February 25, 2006, at pp. 82 - 83 (in the "Science and technology" section):

"Waving at the neighbours
The search for extra-terrestrial life

Human beings are, on an astronomical timescale, recent arrivals - and when you first arrive in the neighbourhood, it is only polite to say hello to the neighbours. That, at least, is the attitude of the SETI Institute. SETI stands for the Seacrh for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, and that search has been going on, in various institutional guises, since 1960.

The SETI Institute's members reckon the best way to get in touch is by radio, so they have begged and borrowed time on the world's radio telescopes to listen either for signals deliberately being broadcast by other technological species who want to make themselves known, or for radio signals intended for domestic alien consumption that have simply leaked into space. So far, though, they have heard nothing.

Part of the problem is that intelligent aliens are thin on the ground and there are an awful lot of stars. With this in mind, Margaret Turnbull of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., has, as she explained at last week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, been trying to refine the target list by going through the catalogue of the 120,000 stars closest to Earth and eliminating unsuitable ones to leave a subset of 'habstars' with more potential for life.

Dr. Turnbull starts from the premise that every star has a zone around it with the right temperature to support carbon-and-water-based life, the only sort so far known to exist. If there are suitable planets in this zone, they might contain life.

First to be tossed out, therefore, are stars lacking the metallic elements needed for planet formation. Astronomers have a rather odd definition of metal, so that any element heavier than helium counts. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and silicon are all metals in the astronomical sense. Dr. Turnbull, though, uses iron, a real metal, for her assay. A star's light reveals how much iron it contains, and thus whether planets are likely to have formed around it.

After that, variable stars are thrown out, since they have moving habitable zones. Most binary stars go, too, because planets orbiting them would move in and out of the habzone. And stars that have ballooned into red giants or dwindled into white dwarfs are also rejected.

Finally, she throws out stars that are too young. Some of these are obvious, because they are burning so fast that they will never make their three billionth birthday, which is the minimum amount of time that Dr. Turnbull reckons is needed to go from uninhabited rock to technological civilisation. Other, slower-burning stars have their light analysed to see how much helium they contain, and thus how long they have been fusing hydrogen to helium to power themselves.

The result is a list of 17,000 habstars - still quite a lot, but far fewer than if the search were carried out exhaustively. If ET is out there, his hunters now have a better idea where to look."

Looking at her criteria, I think Dr. Turnbull has used a fairly conservative set of parameters, and has still come up with a list of just over 17,000 habstars in our "neighbourhood".


Let's assume that only 1/10th of one per cent of those habstars actually support planets that contain life.

That's 17 civilisations, give or take.

Let's assume - further - that half of those are as advanced or more advanced than we are (I'm probably being charitable here in assuming we're middle of the road). That's 8 civilisations that are at 21st century human technological levels, or beyond, with technology that we can only speculate about.

And if just one of them has figured out how to get from there to here, and back again?


Does any of this prove the ETH?


But it does mean that those debunkers who would dismiss it out of hand or, even worse, dismiss the concept of intelligent life somewhere other than here on Earth, are barking up the wrong tree.

Dr. Turnbull's work shows the possibilities that are out there (and perhaps are coming here) - including some that she, as a SETI proponent, probably doesn't agree with, but which are nevertheless impossible to ignore.

After all, if these civilisations that SETI are looking for can figure out radio, which means they are at least as advanced as we are, who knows what else they might have discovered?

For more information on Dr. Turnbull and her work, check out her homepage.

She may be a type II scientist, but her work clearly has Type III scientific implications.

Kudos to the Economist, which I think is the best news weekly magazine available, for taking this subject seriously. Now, if only they would run a serious article on the work of serious UFO researchers.

Maybe someone should mail them a copy of Dick Hall's UFO Evidence, Vol. II.

Paul Kimball

Greatest Ufologist Poll - Reminder

Just a reminder that if you haven't already voted in the March poll here at The Other Side of Truth - "Who is the greatest ufologist ever?" - you can do so here.

Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, James McDonald and Stan Friedman have emerged as the clear front-runners after a week and a half of voting.

Paul Kimball

Scientists and the UFO Phenomenon

Within the world of ufology there are more than a few people who rail at "science" and "scientists", as if they were the source of all evil.

This blinkered approach ignores all of the nuances within both "science", and "scientists". There is no one model, there is no one template, there is no one sterotype, that is completely accurate.

A useful basic typology of scientists can be found at pp. 258 - 260 of "Politicking and Paradigm Shifting: James E. McDonald and the UFO Case Study", a 1975 Phd. thesis by Paul McCarthy (doctor of philosophy in political science). It is, like Ann Druffel's Firestorm, a must-read for anyone interested in the serious scientific study of the UFO phenomenon in general, and McDonald in particular (it can be found online here, courtesy of Project 1947).

The relevant excerpt:


Let us begin by assuming that not all scientists are equally political. For purposes of discussion they can be differentiated on the basis of the amount of political behavior they engage in, the issues they study, and the political tactics they use. This will enable us to talk about different types of scientists, issues, and tactics. Although this conceptual breakdown is lacking in precise operational determinants, it nonetheless is useful in taking an initial look at the phenomenon I am calling the personal politics of science.

It is assumed that all practicing scientists are political and that the apolitical scientist is a myth. This does not mean that all scientists are as political as McDonald, but it does imply that each in his own way initiates behaviors which are not part of the scientific method and yet are intended to further the scientists' research activities. If we are to accept the apolitical scientist concept we must believe that scientists exist who do not consider the social implications of their research and do nothing to foster their own professional interests except their work -- trusting solely in the community of scholars to reward them on the basis of merit. Because this entire line of reasoning appears counterintuitive there is no further discussion of such hypothetical individuals here.


However, three different types of scientists are suggested. The first type engages in average amounts of political behavior. That is, he is the normal scientist who does not attempt to wheel and deal in his discipline or pursue revolutionary breakthroughs. [1] He does his research on normal issues and where necessary employs normal political tactics to achieve his ends.


The second type of scientist takes part in above-average amounts of political behavior. He is one of the prolific members of his discipline and/or a scientific statesman. The former requires that he always has a book or an article "in press" and the latter that he sits on and organizes associational panels in his discipline and functions on the editorial boards of journals. In either case he is constantly tending to his own upwardly mobile interests within the scientific community. This individual gravitates toward "fashionable" topics of research that exist on the periphery of paradigms but which do not threaten the assumptions of the paradigms themselves. In so doing he utilizes considerably more in the way of normal political tactics to achieve his ends than our Type I scientist.

Within this category there is a subgroup which because of my value orientations I will call the "reactionary extremists." They are successful Type II scientists who take it upon themselves to use extreme tactics to do battle with Type III scientists over potentially revolutionary issues.


The Type III scientist, "the progressive extremist," unable to obtain satisfaction through labor in the vineyards of "normal science," is attracted to potentially revolutionary research areas. He focuses an enormous amount of political behavior on these topics and does not hesitate to bring extreme tactics into play. For the sake of a breakthrough he will venture to the borderlands of science in the hope of returning with a new view of reality.

The scientists of both polar persuasions, then, share several characteristics which seem aberrant and justify the label of extremist. Both the "progressive" and the "reactionary" are attracted to borderland areas of research. The former as an active iconoclast and the latter as an upholder of authority. Each in his own way exhibits traits which Rokeach has called dogmatic. Lastly, both groups are willing to substitute political tactics for the process of verification."

James McDonald, clearly, was a "progressive" Type III scientist. So too are people like Colm Kelleher, Stan Friedman, and Jacques Vallee. Eventually, J. Allen Hynek moved from being a Type II scientist to a Type III.

Stan's old classmate Carl Sagan was a Type II scientist using this model. I think the SETI leaders could also be described in this way, as could scientists like Michio Kaku, Peter Sturrock (photo at left) and Stephen Hawking.

Edward Condon was a type II scientist, but of the "reactionary" sub-group identified by McCarthy.

The point is that "Science" is not the monolithic entity that some within ufology like to portray it as being. While the majority of scientists probably fall into the Type I category, there are still plenty of Type II and Type III scientists around from whom a core group dedicated to the serious scientific study of the UFO phenomenon could emerge - should a leader come forward with the vision of a James McDonald, the communications skills of a Carl Sagan, and the realism of a J. Allen Hynek. All three are needed in order to move forward.

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 10, 2006

Stan the Man

Here's a nice photo of the legendary Stanton T. Friedman, who is most assuredly real.

He's currently off to a decent start in the "Greatest Ufologist Ever" poll, tied with Dr. Jim McDonald, who is Stan's pick, for third place.

He looks good in a hat!

Stan will be at the 2006 Aztec UFO Symposium later this month, in (where else) Aztec, New Mexico.

I'm sure he'll be the most entertaining speaker on the bill, because, agree or disagree with him, he puts on a great show!

If I've heard him once, I've heard him a dozen times (and that doesn't even begin to count the private conversations, and filmed interviews), and he's always interesting.

Paul Kimball

Vallee on Abduction Research

Dr. Jacques Vallee made some comments in a recent interview about abduction researchers and the use of hypnosis with which I am in full agreement:

"I have studied over 70 abduction cases, in concert with psychiatrists trained in the use of the clinical hypnosis. These specialists were uniformly horrified when I showed them what some ufologists were doing and claiming on the basis of the regressions they were performing. In case after case, it becomes obvious that hypnosis is NOT a good way to bring back true memories. The psychiatric literature confirms this. In his famous book “The Fifty-Minute Hour,” Dr. Lindner explains why he considered, and then rejected, the use of hypnosis when asked by the FBI to treat a senior engineer who claimed to travel psychically to other planets. Hypnosis can turn a possible fantasy into an experience that becomes irreversible. I have received pathetic letters from famous UFO abductees asking me to help them find a new form of treatment, because they continue to experience traumatic experiences that do not fit into the rigid abduction model. Unfortunately these people cannot be re-hypnotized in a professional manner after they have been subjected to the ludicrous process routinely followed in ufology today in the name of “research.” Thousands of abductees have now been regressed hypnotically, and we know nothing more about the nature of the phenomenon, the alleged craft, or the entities associated with them. I still believe the abduction experience is part of the witnesses’ reality, as Dr. Simon told me when we spent two days with Betty and Barney Hill at their place in New Hampshire, but hypnosis, in most cases, is neither the therapy of choice, nor the best way to explore what really happened to them."

The complete interview can be found here. It's well worth a read.

Paul Kimball

Wasn't That a Party?

Ahh... the Wednesday night, "Meet the Speakers" party (a title that just doesn't do it justice).

The Nova Scotia squad ROCKED the joint out!

My favourite memories?

Veronica Reynolds, leading the charge on the dance floor (sing it with her - "YMCA, it's fun to stay at the YMCA-ay"). I have this thing about dancing (i.e. I'm agin' it), but she managed to drag me up there for a few spins...

Don Ledger and I prowling about all the tables, looking for free drink tickets that people had left behind (mmm... free drink tickets - reminds me of every NSFDC Christmas party I've ever attended)...

Don and I stuffing little bottles of wine into our pockets so we wouldn't have to make a return trip to the wine and cheese bar (that's called conserving your energy, folks)...

Don and his wife Gail putting we younger folks to shame on the dance floor (who knew Don was so hip?)...

Steven Bassett and I having that exopolitical "debate" Lehmberg has been begging for - after several free "Milky Ways" (liberally poured, I might add, by the very accomodating bartender)...

And then things switched to Room 3100 in the California Tower (aka the "Siegel Suite"), where the party continued until the wee hours.

Triple rum and cokes... mmm... my old pal [Name withheld to protect the guilty - call him X] would have loved it. This, of course, reminds me of a funny story from the 1995 East Coast Music Awards, and a party he and I attended in a hotel room hosted by either a Warner's rep or an EMI rep. All I can remember is X and I stuffing free beer bottles in our coats (it was February in Sydney, N.S.), and sneaking out. Okay, I think I also remember X spitting on the carpet, in front of the record company rep (sigh...), and perhaps me singing Elvis songs, and... well, the less said the better. Then, when we got outside, we started to stumble up a hill, when X fell on the ice, and started to slide (spin, really, in a way that I now describe as "turtling") back towards the street. As the beer bottles fell out from beneath his jacket, I can remember him yelling - as I ran to save him from spinning right out onto the road at the bottom of the hill - something to the effect of "forget me - save the beer!"

Now that's a TRUE friend!

But I digress...

Wednesday night / Thursday morning at Laughlin was a blast. I'm glad we Nova Scotians played our role in making it a memorable evening (I think my stand-up routine at the after party was also a big hit, but I can't really remember it). After all, that's what we Nova Scotians do!

I think the Irish Rovers said it best:

"Wasn't That A Party?

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party?

Someone took a grapefruit
Wore it like a hat
I saw someone under my kitchen table
Talking to my old tom cat
They were talking about hockey
The cat was talking back
Long about then every-thing went black
Wasn't that a party?

I'm sure it's just my memory
Playing tricks on me
But I think I saw my buddy
Cutting down my neighbour's tree
Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party?

Billy, Joe and Tommy
Well they went a little far
They were sittin' in my back yard,
blowing on a sireen
From somebody's police car
So you see, Your Honour
It was all in fun
The little bitty track meet down on main street
Was just to see if the cops could run
Well they run us in to see you
In an alcoholic haze
I sure can use those thirty days
To re-cover from the party.

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party?"

It certainly was! I'm just sorry that Nick Redfern wasn't there, so I could drink him under the table, or so he, Don and I could have done some research for our new book, "Three Men Seeking Liquor".

Paul Kimball

P.S. Pics to follow when they get developed. Hehehehe...

"Earth's Original Sin"

Someone on a message board somewhere (I think it was Mike Jamieson) posted my "Paul on the Road to Laughlin" column with the title "Paul Kimball Mellows", or words to that effect. Remember, folks, I said that one should never mock believers for their belief . I never said that one shouldn't mock them for crazy ideas they may put forward, or kooky schemes they may come up with, especially when those kooky schemes appear to be scams.

Exhibit A, from the 15th Annual International UFO Congress Convention and Film Festival:

Earth's Original Sin.

What, you ask, is Earth's Original Sin?

Well, it's an idea cooked up by alien-implant guru Dr. Roger Leir (who was milling about the convention pretty much the whole week) to... well, I always find it's best to let people like Dr. Leir speak for themselves. The following is the full text of a little brochure that he and his colleagues left on each table in the main conference hall one night, during some film festival screenings. Any grammatical errors are from the original.

"Earth's Original Sin

Produced by Un-Named Productions

Roger Leir
Tom Michels

Written by Joy Mattingly

Earth's Original Sin, a large-screen production has been designed to be a low to medium budget film project. The film is an entertainment production based on the Alien Abduction research of Dr. Roger Leir.

The film will encompass all aspects of the subject of UFO's such as Alien Abductions, Sightings of UFO's, Crop Circles, Cattle Mutilations, Intergalactic and Dimensional Travel and delve deeply into the secrets held by the privileged few. It will portray the roles of the Religion, Secret Societies, World Governments, and the Military Aspects of the subject. As with all major motion pictures, it will include a hero, heroine and a complex adversarial plot. The intent is not only to entertain, but also to tantalize the viewer with a plot involving intrigue, complex relationships among the main characters, including a powerful love relationship which develops between two of them.

This all takes place in a setting of mystery and with the use of special effects will draw the audience deeply and emotionally into the film. The two heroes depicted will be the Catholic Church and N.A.S.A. The antagonist will be portrayed as a non-descript group or cabal who will go to any length to keep the facts from the public - that indeed the earth is being visited and has interacted with non-terrestrial intelligences."


N.A.S.A. as a good guy? This project is obviously not endorsed by Richard Hoagland!

The Catholic Church? Hmm... nothing against the Church, but it isn't exactly the poster-group for good behaviour these days, at least in North America.

Now, I thought the little pamphlet Leir et al left on the table was amusing enough, but then out popped the good foot doctor, in between film festival screenings, to plug the project, and show a trailer that had been cut to promote it and help raise money.

We all watched it, and I was among the majority that spent much of the time (4 minutes) laughing our heads off - and remember, this was a crowd that was generally pre-disposed to buy into much, if not all of the stuff, outlined in the plot synopsis above. Yes, folks, it was that bad. Forget "B movie" quality - there isn't a letter low enough in the alphabet to describe how bad it was. It was so bad, it made Ed Wood Jr. look like Steven Spielberg.

Still, as I said, harmless and amusing. Until Dr. Leir got to the purpose for all of this.

Again, from Dr. Leir's promotional pamphlet:

"Purpose For Production Of This Film

The purpose of this film is only one: Simply, to raise money for legitimate scientific research in the Ufology Phenomena. It is the intent of theproducers to establish a West Coast facility for this research. This will result in the purchase of property as well as construction of the buildings which will house all the equipment and personnel necessary to carry out the intent of the research. We have had a number of pledges not only from the scientific community, but also respected researchers within the field of Ufology to cooperate in this joint research effort."

I have an FYI for Dr. Leir - the LAST way you go about raising money for a research center, if that is your true goal, is to raise the money, and then make a lousy, low budget film, which will almost certainly never turn a profit, and will in all probability LOSE money, as most films do these days. If you're really serious about raising money for this so-called research center, why don't you just raise the money for the research center?

I remember when I was working for the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, and there was talk of establishing a film school in the province. Government and business leaders got together and discussed how the school would be financed. A number of options were raised, but it was always about how they would directly raise capital for the school. No-one ever suggested that we should make a feature film in the hopes that it would create a profit that could then be used to build the school. Anyone who would have raised such a suggestion would have politely been asked to leave (and I'm not all that sure about the "politely" part).

No, the kindest spin I can put on this is that it is some sort of ego trip by the good foot doctor, or perhaps he's just an incredibly lousy businessman with not a scintilla of common sense. The less kind spins? Well, for that we have to consider from whom he's looking to raise the money to make the film (which is what his pitch to the convention delegates was really all about).

Again, from Dr. Leir's promotional pamphlet:

"State of Present Development

Our script is three-fourths finished. The corresponding teaser has all been shot and is now with the editor and graphic artist for his primary edit. We expect these to be simultaneously completed within the next 90 days. Once this has been done there will be a series of production meetings which will result in both the script and teaser being carefully scrutinized, corrected, and finalized in a form that is absolutely 'Madison Avenue' for formal presentation to investors. A budget and distribution plan will be presented as well.

Current Offering

The producers have decided to offer potential financial participants the following at this time:

We will accept donations of $500.00 each to our 501(c)3 non-profit research organization, A & S Research. For each such donation, Un-Named Productions will gift the donor 1/8th of a point based on the gross profit of the film over a 20 year period.

If you need a legitimate tax deduction and would like profit from financial participation in this film project, please contact Roger Leir at:

or write to us"

This is the kind of thing that makes my skin crawl, and that really does give ufology a bad name. Dr. Leir was there looking for some poor suckers to put $500 in a project that - assuming it even gets off the ground - is NEVER going to make money. EVER! And by the way - just how are you going to be raising money for the "research center" when you're giving away the profit to investors?

Here's another question - when the budget is finished (and who goes around looking for investors when they don't even have a budget yet??), how much is Dr. Leir going to take in producer fees? Other fees? Corporate overhead? Etc.

Despite the fact that most of us had a good laugh at this at the time, there was probably some nice, well-meaning (but naive) people in the crowd that night, or will be down the road somewhere, who will actually cough up the $500 (or more) for this baloney.

That's the REAL sin here.

It was a BIG mistake for the organizers of the convention to allow Dr. Leir to present this "proposal" to the attendees.

Paul Kimball

My Hometown - Addendum

A friend just e-mailed me and asked me where in Halifax I live and work.

I've marked the spots on the photo at left - the red "X" is where we live, very close (a 2 - 3 minute walk) from the Halifax Commons, and the green "X" is where my office is located, about a 20 - 25 minute walk from home, right in the middle of downtown (more pubs per capita than anywhere else in Canada).

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Firestorm: Dr. James E. McDonald's Fight for UFO Science

While I was in Laughlin at the 15th Annual International UFO Congress Conference and Film Festival, I was lucky enough to snag a copy of Ann Druffel's biography of Dr. James McDonald, Firestorm: Dr. James E. MacDonald's Fight for UFO Science, from one of the boom dealers in the vendors room. Stan Friedman highly recommended the book to me some time ago, and Dr. McDonald has always been someone whose work I greatly respected, so it was about time I finally picked it up.

Having read most of it while in Laughlin, and now having polished it off upon my return, all that I can say is this - kudos to Ann Druffel, a woman who, when I last heard of her (the 2001 MUFON Symposium), was flogging a book she had written about how to prevent alien abductions. Needless to say, I was not impressed at the time. But Firestorm is different - a wonderful book, full of rich detail, that is a must-read for anyone who is even remotely interested in the serious scientific study of the UFO phenomenon.

Yes, I find some of the stuff in the book dealing with what Stan calls "The Cosmic Watergate" a bit much, especially when it comes to Druffel's treatment of MJ-12. On the other hand, her treatment of McDonald's tragic suicide, while mentioning the conspiracy theories, is more measured than Richard Dolan's a-historical version in UFOs and the National Security State, Volume I. Ultimately (and correctly, based on the evidence), Druffel accepts the conclusion that McDonald killed himself. But it's worth wading through these bits to get the details on McDonald's work, and his relationships with people like J. Allen Hynek, Carl Sagan, Phil Klass, Robert Wood, Edward Condon, and Jacques Vallee. Druffel had access to a wealth of primary sources, including McDonald's journals, and it shows.

The highest praise for the book comes from people who knew McDonald, like Vallee (who wrote the foreward, which is wonderful), Dick Hall, and Stan Friedman, who considers McDonald the greatest ufologist ever. This speaks volumes of the overall quality of the book.

As Dick Hall says, McDonald was in many ways a ufological "knight in shining armour". Like all knights (Lancelot pops to mind), McDonald was flawed, ultimately with fatal consequences. But he was a true hero - a man of courage and insight in a world where those can be rare qualities. He is a giant, not just of ufology, but of 20th century science.

Firestorm is a fitting portrait of the man, and his work.

Paul Kimball

Mac Tonnies Moment, Vol. I

This photo from March, 1988, is for my cyber-pal Mac Tonnies.

Strangeways, I was there.

Mac knows what I'm talking about.

Paul Kimball

My Hometown

A lot of people I met in Laughlin last week asked me what Halifax was like. Most came from the American west (which makes sense, given the location of the conference), so to them, Nova Scotia is a distant land, largely unknown. I always try to put it in terms I figure they'll understand (i.e. relate it to something in the United States), and wind up saying "it's a lot like Maine", which is in some respects true, but in others not quite accurate. Regardless, it doesn't really help, because most of them have never been to Maine, either.

So, for the folks out west who were curious about what my hometown looks like, here it is - Halifax, Nova Scotia, once known as the "Gibraltar" of the Atlantic. It's one of the world's great small cities (metropolitan population about 400,000, give or take) with a number of highly regarded universities, a diverse and vibrant cultral scene (of which I'm happy to be a part), wonderful parks, lots of green space, manageable traffic, friendly people, and surrounding areas that feature some of the most breathtaking scenery you'll find anywhere (Peggy's Cove is the one most people know, but it's just the tip of the iceberg).

I love traveling, especially to areas like the American southwest, which are so different than Nova Scotia, but I never forget where I'm from. I'm a Nova Scotian and a Haligonian, through and through. It's part and parcel of who I am. As the plane takes off, or as I'm crossing the border into New Brunswick in a car, I'm usually humming to myself the tune, and more often than not the words as well, of the great folk song "Farewell to Nova Scotia".

"The sun was setting in the west
The birds were singing on every tree
All nature seemed inclined to rest
But still there was no rest for me.

Farewell to Nova Scotia, your sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

I grieve to leave my native land
I grieve to leave my comrades all
And my parents whom I held so dear
And the bonnie, bonnie lassie that I do adore.

Farewell to Nova Scotia, your sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

The drums they do beat and the wars to alarm
The captain calls, I must obey
So fare-thee-well, fare-thee-well to Nova Scotia's charms
For it's early in the morning I am far, far away.

Farwell to Nova Scotia, your sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

I have three brothers and they are at rest
Their arms are folded on their breast
But a poor simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed into the deep blue sea.

Farewell to Nova Scotia, your sea-bound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?"

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Paul and The Road to Laughlin

The 15th Annual International UFO Congress Conference and Film Festival (at the Laughlin Flamingo, pictured at left) was run by people who buy the Billy Meier story, hook, line and sinker. It was attended mostly by people who think Philip Corso is the greatest thing since sliced cheese, who see Paul Hellyer as a hugely important figure whose embrace of exopolitics portends imminent "disclosure", and who believe that ET is here on Earth, abducting people, mutilating cattle, creating crop circles, and so forth.

In short, an event that most people would expect me to lambaste as an affront to "serious ufology".

But they would be wrong.

Yes, I still think exopolitics is bunk, although I do have a somewhat different perspective on it, to which I'll devote a column in the next week or so. Yes, I am still convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the Billy Meier story is a hoax. And yes, I am still convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that there is nothing to the Corso story, and that the extraterrestrial hypothesis is just that - a hypothesis.

In other words, my views about these basic points haven't changed an iota. In many respects, I was indeed a "stranger in a strange land".

But I learned a few things, too.

First and foremost, these are not bad people. They may be wrong (most certainly, in my opinion). But they are sincere, and they mean well. In a world where more and more people are not, that counts for something. As I talked to them throughout the week, I came to see them not as "the enemy" of serious ufology, but as more of a religious group - the Evangelicals of Ufology, if you will. They "believe", without evidence in my view, but I would say the same thing about Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus (agnostic that I am). And there's nothing wrong with that. Indeed, as the week went on, I developed an increasing respect for the conviction with which many of these folks hold their beliefs. I came to the conclusion that criticizing them simply for holding those beliefs is no better than criticizing religious people for holding their beliefs. As I would never do the latter, why would I do the former?

This does not mean that one cannot point out obvious hoaxes and frauds when one is convinced that they exist, or point out what one considers the flaw in their belief system. This is especially true when these folks wander away from the world of belief, and into the world of academic debate, as Michael Salla et al have done. At that point, their positions and their methodology are fair game. Even more important, if it's a case of calling out the frauds, then one is actually working in the best interests of both the believers and the scientific study of the UFO phenomenon. After all, nobody wants to believe in a con-man. Some do, but that's because they've been hoodwinked, not because they're bad people.

Most important, however, one should avoid calling the people who believe (and they are "believers", a term I do not use here in a pejorative sense) as "crazy cultists" or "wacky new agers" or... well, you know the various terms that are used. They deserve the same respect as anyone else who holds a belief in something that others are convinced has not been proved.

There were more than a few things, and people, that I saw and heard at the Conference deserving of criticism, and even occasional ridicule (more on them later), but not because they believe in ET on Earth, or in a particular ET story or claim.

Can the serious scientific study of the UFO phenomenon co-exist with the honest believers?

If you had asked me that question before I went to Laughlin, I probably would have said no.

Now that I've been to the Church of UFO Belief (and left a hefty donation in the collection plate, courtesy of my conference fees)?

Of course they can, in the same way that science and faith co-exist in our world everyday. Faith should never inform science (intelligent design proponents, take note), but neither should science go out of its way to disparage faith.

If that conclusion isn't quite the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus, it is a bit of a new ufological perspective for me, forged while on the Road to Laughlin.

For that, I can only thank the good folks at the Laughlin conference who fall into the UFO honest believer camp (not all of them did, by any means - just what I perceived to be a majority). I may not agree with you, but I respect you, and wish you nothing but the best. We are traveling on different paths, you and I, but who knows - someday we may all wind up at the same destination!

Paul Kimball

March Poll - Greatest Ufologist Ever

The question for the March poll is:

Who is the greatest ufologist ever?

There are 18 people (well, 19 - you'll see when you get there) to pick from, as well as an "Other" option you can choose if there is someone else you would have voted for (if you hit the "Other" option, please leave a comment as to who you would have picked).

Back on July 8, 2005, I gave my rankings of the Top 10 ufologists. I'm curious to see to what extent people agree or disagree with my choices.

The poll can he found here.

Paul Kimball

February Poll Results

In the February "Other Side of Truth Poll" I asked the following question:

What has discredited the serious study of the UFO phenomenon the most?

Well, the results are in (a little late, as I was away at Laughlin when February ended), and here they are, in descending order (the poll chart can be seen at left):

The Contactee Movement - 55 votes, 35.48%

The Condon Report - 46 votes, 29.68%

Majestic-12 - 35 votes, 22.58%

Exopolitics - 18 votes, 11.61%

Frank Scully's "Behind the Flying Saucers" - 1 vote, 0.65%

I have to say that this comes as a bit of a surprise to me - I thought the Condon Report would have finished first, but I guess the negative impact of the Contactee Movement lives on. I think, were a run-off vote held, that the Contactee Movement would emerge as the clear winner, given that MJ-12 and Exopolitics bear a greater similarity to it than they do to the Condon Report (meaning that the majority of people who voted for those two options would likely vote for the Contactee Movement over the Condon Report).

Thanks to everyone who popped by and voted. It's an interesting result.

I'll have the March poll question up later today.

Paul Kimball

Greg Bishop Meets Zorgrot

Author Greg Bishop (Project Beta) finally met alien explorer Rear Admiral Zorgrot at the Laughlin conference.

As regular readers may recall, Greg won a coveted Zorgy Award last year (the awards are determined by me, named in honour of Zorgrot) for Best UFO Book (see the Zorgy Awards).

He and Zorgrot got along quite well.

Of course, Zorgrot gets along well with everyone.

Especially airport security.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I Have Returned

Like MacArthur, I have returned.

More will follow in the days to come about my trip to the 15th Annual International UFO Congress Convention and Film Festival. For the moment, however, I'm still wading through phone messages, mail and e-mail that accumulated here at the office while I was gone. I should be done by the end of tonight, which means I'll be back in the bloggin' saddle tomorrow. Lots of good stuff to come, including a general review of the Con, specific reviews of speakers and films, notes and inside stories, and an account of the detente (sort of) that developed between Exopolitics guru Stephen Bassett and myself - all from the perspective of a "stranger in a strange land".

A couple of super-quick notes, however:

Tim Crawford is my new best friend (well, one of them).

Don Ledger is an absolute hoot to party with. Ditto his wife, Gail.

Greg Bishop is a great guy.

Crop Circles make for a super documentary subject, when done well.

Cynthia Siegel throws the best after-parties (I haven't had that many triple rum and cokes in years).

Rob Simone knows a good jacket when he sees it (and is a cool guy to boot).

Maurizio Baiata has a lot of guts (and an accent that makes women swoon).

The Flamingo Hotel and Casino really needs to put irons and ironing boards in every room.

Mac Tonnies should be invited to speak sometime.

There is no need to panic when the pilot declares an emergency landing.

And so on...

In the meantime, here is a picture of me at the UFO TV display in the vendor's room at the Conference. With me you can see the intrepid Rear Admiral Zorgrot, who was along for the trip and who will no doubt have pictures to post, and commentary to add, at his own blog, Zorgrot Speaks, over the next little while. Behind me to the right can be seen the two EBE's I won at the Conference last year for Aztec 1948. The statues are off to Aztec, New Mexico, for display during the Aztec Symposium later this month, at which time they'll be shipped to me, for permanent display in the Redstar office lobby (or so Scott Ramsey promised). It's always nice to have one's work recognized. While I might disagree with Scott's conclusions in the film, and elsewhere (i.e. at his Laughlin lecture) about Aztec, it is a good film, worth seeing for both sides of the debate (Karl Pflock provided the alternate point of view, with which I agree).

Anyway, back to work. Good to be home, and back in the blogosphere.

Paul Kimball