Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Redstar News - Greg Bishop in Halifax for Fields of Fear Interview

Greg Bishop, paranormal author / researcher / radio impressario (seen at left with alien explorer Rear Admiral Zorgrot) arrives here in Halifax later this evening for a short two day visit to do an interview with me for the documentary Fields of Fear (ahh... the last piece of a very long puzzle finally falls into place). Greg will be talking about the possible government disinformation / experiment angle to cattle mutilations. You can check out his website, The Excluded Middle, here.

Greg and I had a chance to meet in person and chat while we were in Laughlin back in February. I'm looking forward to seeing him again, and introducing him to Nova Scotia cuisine (which means a free meal for me on the company credit card!).

By the way, Greg's radio program, Radio Misterioso, is well worth a listen. It's about as no-frills as community radio can get, but Greg plays a very interesting, eclectic mix of music that you won't hear anywhere else, along with the guests that he has on to chat about paranormal subjects, most often UFOs. If you check out the archives, you can find a classic interview with Bill Moore, where, at one point, Greg has to step away from the microphone to answer the phone (like I said, no-frills), which left Moore in charge! You can almost hear him thinking "Bwahahahaha!!!"

Radio Misterioso airs Sunday evenings from 8 pm to 10 pm, PST.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Magical Mystery Tour

While it might not have the global impact of Reagan - Gorbachev, Mac Tonnies and I will finally get a chance to meet each other in person on May 17th, when Findlay Muir (my ace Director of Photography) and I stop by Kansas City on Part 1 of what I'm dubbing our Magical Mystery Tour for Best Evidence, now that we're finally ready to begin filming.

Besides Kansas City, we'll be in Dallas, various places in southern California, and the Washington, D.C. area. Lots of interviews lined up - including some pretty nifty surprises!

Part I of the Magical Mystery Tour will be followed by Part 2, a trip in June to merry old England, the first time I've been back since my year on exchange at the University of Dundee back in 1987-88. There's even a rumour that I'll be speaking at a UFO conference while I'm there - delivering a paper tentatively titled "The Wilbert Smith Story: Separating Fact from Fiction of a Ufological Icon". More on that if and when it's confirmed. I'll also have the chance to touch base with my good friend Will "The Kaiser" Fraser, who has recently returned to the ancestral manor home in Dorset.

Part 3 of the Tour will probably happen in July, and will see me venture to the very edge of civilization, and beyond, in search of the truth behind one of the ten best UFO cases ever.


Can't say - it is the Magical Mystery Tour, after all!

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. IV

After many years of studying not just UFOs, but the people who study UFOs, Jim Moseley has opinions about most of them. Here are some of the more interesting ones, for good or ill, as found in his book Shockingly Close to the Truth.

Paul Kimball

Donald Keyhoe
I felt - correctly, I still believe - that Keyhoe routinely made too much of too little, at least in part just to sell books. After all, he was a professional writer, who got his start in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. I suppose that is where he picked up a literary device he used in his saucer books and which I hated, and still do: fictitious characters and fictitious "reconstructions" of fictitious conversations dramatizing UFO cases and Keyhoe's own musings on the Significance of It All. (p. 45)

James "The Amazing" Randi
In September, 1964, I made my first guest appearance on James "The Amazing / Amusing" Randi's all night radio talk show... At the time, Randi was relatively open-minded about saucers and other weirdness. We became friends, and I was a regular on his show until he was somewhat mysteriously fired in January 1966. As time passed, Randi's cautious open-mindedness dissolved, and eventually he went well beyond thoughtful skepticism and off the deep end into dogmatic debunkery. His "colorful" statements about spoon-bending psychic Uri Geller led to costly legal battles and have generated much controversy. Because of what I consider to be Randi's hypocrisy, arrogance, and philosophical extremism, I eventually became disillusioned with him, ending what had been an interesting freindship. (p. 189)

Stan Friedman
I think Stan semisecretly yearns to be considered Hynek's successor as ufologys' leading statesman. However, he lacks a Ph.D and has never held an academic or research position of the sort required to gain a real-science stature anything like that enjoyed by Hynek. He also comes across as too glib and too hucksterish, while at the same time exuding evangelical true believerism, nothing at all like Hynek's low-key, tweedy-academic style... While Stan is an excellent speaker, like any aging comedian, he really needs some new material. (p. 202)

Jerry Clark
... Today the leading historian of ufology... As many in The Field know, over the years, Jerry and I have clashed frequently, mainly because I rather unkindly enjoy pushing his buttons to bring out the worst in him - a quick temper and harshly opinionated views. However, I do respect him as a Leading Authority, and there is no question he has made many important contributions to ufology. (pp. 178 - 179)

Coral Lorenzen
Coral was opinionated, prejudiced, and just not a very nice person - but she was a hoot to drink with, and once matched me martini for martini, although she claimed she only got drunk at saucercons. It is amazing to me that Coral was the head of a major UFO organization for such a long time (maybe it was her capacity for martinis that made the difference). (p. 223

Dick Hall
Sometime in 1958 or 1959, Hall and I had a telephone conversation concerning my "attacks" on NICAP. Almost before we began, he asked me if I was taping our chat. I truthfully told him I wasn't and that I didn't own a tape recorder (I still don't). He kept coming back to this, alleging he could hear clicks on the line and so on. I kept denying it. Finally, Hall practically shouted into the phone that I was lying, that he knew I was taping the call. I saw red, yelled "Paranoid!" into the phone, and slammed down the receiver. Things haven't been the same between the suspicious, ill-tempered, and very full of himself Dick Hall and me since." (p. 131)

Linda Moulton Howe
In her career, she has covered the ufologcial waterfront, and claims to have established links between animal mutilations, UFO landings, little-green men sightings, and even abductions. She has also been an important second-string player in the crashed saucer saga (including as a booster of the seemingly immortal Aztec case). Somehow, she's managed to bring all these things together in a way that make her and her many fans happy, and I think she genuinely believes what she says and writes, at least at the time she says and writes it. (pp. 255 - 256)

William Moore
I've had enough "quality time" with Bill that I should be able to figure him out, yet he remains an enigma. I do remember that he once told me his religious beliefs are consistent with the idea that there are humanoid beings from other planets visiting here and the notion that Jesus was one of them. Did he invent MJ-12 and the Aviary and misconstrue Roswell to confirm his own religious beliefs? Or were his motivations more down-to-earth, mere fame and fortune? Or was the whole thing a semiclever ploy to get the government to release The Truth by making up and promoting stuff that Moore considered shockingly close to the truth?... Bill Moore, an enigma wrapped in a questionable maybe-classified document, perched in an aviary from which all his birds have flown. (pp. 267 - 268)

George Adamski
I felt, and still do, that although Adamski's claims were absurd in many provable and almost-provable ways, and despite the anti-Semitic overtones of the "agent of Wall Street" slur [against Moseley - PK], his "philosophy" was harmless, and that therefore he represented no threat to society and wasn't all that bad a guy. My rather base motivation for the expose [of Adamski in Saucer News - PK] was that, if he could build his reputation on mythical interactions with spacemen, I had an equal right to build mine by exposing his con. One is as kosher as the other. Adamski was fair game, and I think I treated him fairly. If he were still with us, I suspect that he would agree that I did." (p. 70)

Why Don't We Do it In (The Middle Of) The Road?

According to a quick little survey that you can take here, the political description that fits me best is...


CENTRISTS espouse a "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems."

The diagram above shows where I fit on the political spectrum, at least according to this questionaire.

Sounds about right (er... left... no, make that the center... argh!!!).

Or, as my old pal Utah Ig, aka The Manager, would no doubt say:

1. This is the future of the Canadian Conservative Party?? Arghhhhhh!!

2. Wish, wash... wish, wash...

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ufology and the "REM Syndrome"

Over the past couple of days, my pal Nick Redfern and I have been having a friendly little back and forth amongst ourselves about ufology's future, and the nature of the qualifications required to be a "ufologist". Here are some excerpts (with Nick's permission to post):

Kimball to Redfern:


... Training is essential to investigation. As just one example, which I've used before at the blog, most "ufologists" who interview alleged witnesses, or anyone else, have no idea how to conduct a proper interview, what types of questions to ask, what types of questions not to ask (arguably more important than knowing what types they
should ask), and so forth. It doesn't take a law degree to be able to ask questions properly, and conduct a proper interview, but it does take some training - a journalism degree is helpful, as is a history degree where the person has taken at least one course, preferably at graduate level, in oral research methodology...

Until "ufology" and "ufologists" take stuff like this seriously, no-one is going to take them seriously.

And yes, there is LOTS of evidence out there, if you know where and how to look (as you do). Is it definitive? Nope. But circumstantial evidence is also important in building a case, or determining the truth.



Redfern replies:

"Hi Paul,

I do agree totally re the interviewing angle. And interview-training is fine and a very good thing (and particularly in abduction-hypnosis research/interviewing).

But, my main criticism is against those who specifically use scientific credentials and such training as evidence or proof that they are "real" ufologists and that such is a requirement to enter the field. When people imply that having a background in astronomy, or something similar, or related somehow, makes them a better trained ufologist than someone without such credentials (particularly when we don't even know that the origin of the real UFO puzzle has any "astronomical" or "outer space" connections to it at all), is where I have a problem.

And this applies to those in the sceptical camps too, such as the debunkers and sceptics that always surface when the TV news people want someone to go up against a ufologist. Again, if a sceptic has a background in science that proves UFO's can't break the speed of light and can't therefore get here: well, so what? If the UFO puzzle isn't reliant on "aliens" coming from "there" to here, then that sceptics' scientific credentials for making such a statement are rendered pointless.

So, while I do agree completely on the interviewing angle, the benefit of having credentials and training in other areas (such as the above) is very moot I think. And as per my previous email, as the "U" in UFO still stands for "Unidentified," we simply don't know which disciplines and training would best suit a ufologist...


I respond:


Hey - I hit 40 in less than a year now, so I'm no spring chicken either! :-)

By the way, re: a recent comment of yours on Updates, I'm all for "ufology" becoming more elitist. The whole point of having a discipline of study, or activity, is that it IS elitist, and requires people to be trained and educated first. After all, not just everyone can practice law, and not just everyone can work as a nuclear physicist.


As he usually does, Nick raises many valid points.

My point, however, which I've made more than once before, is that if "ufology" ever wants to be taken seriously, then it needs people with the proper training, it needs legitimate peer review, and it needs an oversight organization - in short, exactly what every other profession or field of study has.

There is no course of study one could take in "ufology", because the study of the UFO phenomenon cuts across many subjects, from physics to psychiatry, from history to engineering, and an awful lot of stuff in between. I suppose one could be a "ufologist" in the same way that a doctor can be a general practitioner, who refers a patient with anything more serious than the common cold to a specialist, and in many respects that is what most people who call themselves "ufologists" are today. The problem comes when they step beyond the boundaries of "general practice" and claim a sort of specialized, all-encompassing knowledge about the UFO phenomenon that anyone outside "the field" just doesn't have. That knowledge just doesn't exist. What the "field" really needs are "specialists", but this would only be truly effective with central organization, which can only come after a thorough weeding of the wheat from the chaff.

No, what is needed are not courses in "ufology", but courses that deal with aspects of the UFO phenomenon, taught within existing disciplines. Thus, one could take a history course in the "history of the UFO phenomenon". They could even graduate with an area of specialization in "UFO history" - a course of study which would include courses in oral research methodology, and American history, and so forth. Not every course would have to be about UFOs - indeed, my area of specialization when I did my honours degree in history was World War II / military studies, but I also took courses on a wide range of other topics. Ditto law school, where I focused on criminal and family law, but took courses on a range of topics, from Admiralty Law (which, I admit, didn't have much practical use), to Legal History, to Labour Law. At grad school, my thesis work (alas, still 1/2 chapter short of completion) was on 19th century New Brunswick evangelicalism, while my course work focused, again, on a number of areas that had nothing to do with my specilization. And so forth.

Unfortunately, I suspect that most in ufology today don't really want to be taken seriously - not if it means ceding their place in the small pond to others more qualified to lead and work in a bigger pond. In many ways, it reminds me of what I used to call the "REM syndrome" when I was a musician - it happens when a band with a cult following suddenly breaks into the mainstream with a hit. This is inevitably followed by accusations from many of their earliest followers that they've "sold out", when, in fact, it's really more about the jealousy of the orginal followers than any "sell-out" by the band. They are unable to share, and cannot adjust to a new, bigger world. Opponents of globalization have the same general problem.

It happened when Bob Dylan went electric, it happened when REM and U2 hit it big in the 1980s, and when Steve Earle garnered a whole new audience with "Copperhead Road" - and it will happen to ufology some day, if there is ever to be a serious, sustained study of all aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

This change will come much to the chagrin of the close-minded, and the jealous - but much to the delight of those who have the true spirit of discovery, and who really want to get answers.

Unlike UFO Iconopests and their ilk, however, I recognize that this approach leaves plenty of room for the talented amateur, as well as the self-taught, hard-working, dedicated-to-the -subject researcher, just as most fields of study have always done (some excellent histories have been written by people without a degree in history, much less a doctorate). The difference is that it doesn't place them at the center of things.

But if ufology is ever to "grow up" it's the only way forward.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. III

The Aztec "UFO Incident" (which I have called "Ufology's Dracula") continues to be promoted by a small group of people. I made a film a couple of years ago that gave the primary modern proponent of the Aztec "case", Scott Ramsey, a chance to make his case. He and Frank Warren continues to plug away at trying to convince people of the reality behind Aztec as well.

My own views are fairly well-known to anyone who reads this blog, and straightforward - the whole thing was a scam, a con, a hoax, cooked up a bona fide snake-oil saleseman, Silas Newton, and his sidekick, Leo GeBauer, who succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible Variety columnist Frank Scully (or, alternatively, were in cahoots with Scully in pulling the scam). Type in "Aztec" in this blog's search engine and you'll find my past columns on the subject, including the deconstruction of some of the claims made by the Aztec proponents (Scully, GeBauer and Newton are shown above, plotting, in a drawing by Jason Goodyear that appeared in the Aztec 1948 film).

Unlike any of us who may write about Aztec today, Jim Moseley actually got to meet and interview Silas Newton and Frank Scully back in the early 1950s. His recollections of those meetings can be found in Shockingly Close to the Truth, but here are some choice excerpts that should be read by anyone who still gives Scully and Newton the benefit of the doubt.

This first one concerns the meeting Moseley had with Newton in Denver, Colorado, on December 29, 1953:

"Once again, I heard the same story about J. P. Cahn's True expose that I'd heard from Scully and Adamski (I wondered if all three weren't working from the same script). Newton added the specific figure of his soon-to-be-(but never)-filed libel suit against the magazine: $10 million. He also took a shot at Keyhoe, claiming the writer had come to Denver, offered him 'a huge sum' for the little-men story, and when Newton refused, decided to 'write it up as a hoax,' just like Cahn, it seemed. Herman Flader, the victim of the swindle for which Newton had been convicted; saucer debunker Donald Menzel, who, Newton said, had completely distorted the facts about his Denver University lecture; and just about everyone else who dared to challenge the veracity of Newton and his friend Scully were denounced as opportunists, dissemblers, and conpiratorialists, perhaps in cahoots with the government...

I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere with him on his own claims, so I asked about those of others... [I brought up] Adamski. Newton said that while he didn't buy the Professor's mystical ideas or claims to have conversed with a Venusian, he did believe Adamski had met a spaceman and that his saucer photos were real. He said he and Scully told Adamski how to copyright his first three UFO pictures, which he claimed a 'Hollywood trick photography expert' told him could only have been faked 'at terrific cost and with studio equipment Adamski doesn't have.' Since I knew otherwise, this convinced me that Newton was lying...

It looked like Newton would back any claim that even remotely could be construed to lend support to his, even to the point of attempting to keep alive stories that had been retracted by those who told them. Newton went on to confirm my suspicions by very solemnly telling as true the hoax story of a man from Venus who had made a gouge in a piece of steel with his thumb, a story which he said I could not reveal, implying it was a big secret known only to a few. His dramatically delivered closing line was, 'And do you know that it took seventeen hundred pounds of pressure to reproduce that dent?' I stopped him there, thanked him for his time, and went out to my car.

As I drove away, I marveled at Newton's breezy nerve and style. There was no doubt in my mind that he was a confidence man through and through, and a very good one at that. It was quite likely that if I had talked with him before learning his background and doing my California investigations, I might well have been tempted to believe him. He told a great story - and with a straight face, too...

My investigations left me little doubt that Newton's saucers-and-little-men tale was a hoax perpetrated to help promote Newton and GeBauer's doodlebug confidence game. Yet even today, as with the Adamski saga, there are those who insist on believing otherwise, that some shadowy agency of the U.S. government still has GeBauer's saucers and little men stashed away in a secret facility. Newton, GeBauer, and Scully, you see, knew The Truth and were framed to keep it from being revealed...

Thus is confirmed another ufoological principle: No case ever is closed. Wait long enough, and what was thought dead and buried (pick your favourite case) will rise from the grave / Hanger 18 / Area 51 / a secret underground base, to walk among us again." [pp. 92 - 95, Shockingly Close to the Truth]

As for Frank Scully, Moseley met him a few weeks prior to his meeting with Newton. His take on Scully, written just after that meeting?

"My impression of Scully after one short meeting, and after the things I have heard and read about him, is this: He was probably duped... and he probably knows it; he may even have known it at the time [he wrote his book], as he is a professional writer and probably not against making money, even on a hoax. He gives the appearance of being religious, but he does not seem like a kindly man or a truly religious man, and he therefore seems to be a hypocrite. Actually, I think he is 'very much of this world,' and perhaps he is not even a believer in saucers. I think, however, that after the controversy caused by his last book, and after the way he has been discredited, he will be very careful of his facts in the next saucer book [which both he and Manon Darlaine told me he was working on but which never saw print]. He probably won't write the truth in his next book, but I imagine he will be careful to use hoaxes that can't be easily checked upon." [p. 80, Shockingly Close to the Truth]

Aztec, Adamski, Billy Meier, Alternative 3, the alien autospsy film... on and on it goes. There are always going to be con men, and there are always going to be people who fall for the con. The question is whether, when the con is finally exposed, the people who bought it in the first place continue to believe, despite the evidence to the contrary, or whether they accept the truth, and move on to more productive endeavors.

Alas, as Moseley noted, in ufology / ufoology there will always be enough of the former group to keep just about any story alive, and to keep anyone willing to promote it as real on the lecture circuit (small as that circuit may be these days).

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 17, 2006

Redfern on "The Future of Ufology"

My friend Nick Redfern sent me his thoughts on the Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. I column, wherein I used some recent musings by Moseley in Saucer Smear to question the future of ufology.

Here is Nick's take on things (er... including the fact that I revealed he's over 40!):

"Hi Paul

Many thanks for informing the Internet that I have now passed the 40 milestone! LOL. :)

Seriously, though, I actually never considered myself to be part of the 'future of ufology' as you put it.

In fact, I actually don't think it's important if there is a future for ufology (as a collective medium anyway).

Personally, I think that if there are people out there doing research and coming to their own personal conclusions, then this is actually more important than trying to prop up, or ensure the future of, ufology (in the form it has been perceived in the past and just because ufology as a collective group of people has existed for the last half a century or so).

So what if things change and the old days are gone? It doesn't matter.

My own take on it is that it doesn't matter if UFO conferences go the way of the dinosaur or if this magazine closes down or that magazine closes down. Because we have the Internet instead, and we have our personal beliefs.

If others don't share those beliefs and have their own beliefs, again that's far more important than trying to ensure that 'Flying Saucers and Aliens Weekly' continues publication after 46 years.

Or that the annual 'Saucer Conference' keeps on being held every year just because it has done so in the past and there are those teary-eyed nostalgia-driven souls yearning for the old days.

I suspect that (at a reduced level obviously!) for many people who have been in the subject for decades, it is the nature of the old ufology dying away that concerns them.

These people need to realize that in the same way that the world changes, ufology will change. Trying to hang on to the old ufology of the 50s, 60s and 70s is something that I see certain figures trying to do. But it's (to me, at least) very much a head-in-the-sand approach.

The 'good old days' as some no doubt see it all would be a god description of what some people want to hang on to. Well, if the good old days are gone, and ufology changes and becomes more Net based and less magazine, conference, and personality driven, well that's how it goes.

Feel free to post/comment on the above if you want.


I agree with Nick on almost all of the above. I also think that change is a good thing, and long overdue.

However, the original question that both Moseley and I asked, was where are the young researchers - the next generation who will do exactly what Nick is suggesting folks do?

Any suggestions, folks? Who are the "NextGen" guys and gals who are going to move the serious study of the UFO phenomenon forward?

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. II

One of my favourite stories from Shockingly Close to the Truth, about Moseley's "career" as a lecturer on UFOs back in the 1960s and early 1970s:

"On one occasion, I arrived somewhere in the Bible Belt to speak at a small fundamentalist religious school. I flew in at night in a downpour. The college people picked me up at the airport, and when we arrived on campus, for some reason we had to traverse a few yards of very muddy ground. It was cold, the rain was sluicing down, and I was quickly approaching miserable. All of a sudden, I stepped into a water-filled hole several inches deep. I couldn't help blurting out, 'Jesus Christ!' Then, in an ill-considered attempt to recover the situation with a bit of humour, I sang out, 'Praise the Lord!'" (p. 198)

Perhaps I find this anecdote so amusing is because it reminds me of a somewhat similar incident from my childhood - Grade 9, junior high to be specific. One day just after the noon bell, my oldest pal and I walked into the classroom that doubled as the lunch-room for those of us who were bussed to school. We were a bit late, and the room was packed, which meant no place for us to sit. My friend's off-the-cuff, gut reaction was to say, in a voice that was perhaps a bit louder than he had intended, "Holy Cow!" Alas, the teacher in charge of the lunch-room that day was Mr. Sharma, a devout Hindu (he must have been devout, considering what followed). He heard my friend, and immediately came over, angry. The long and the short of it was that my friend ended up with detention for mocking Mr. Sharma's religion. This was ridiculous, as we had no idea Mr. Sharma was in charge of the lunchroom that day, and my friend's remark came as soon as he saw the room, without having noticed Mr. Sharma. Unfortunately for Mr. Sharma, my friend's parents didn't take guff from anyone and were rather put out by his actions. As I recall, Mr. Sharma ended up apologizing to my friend.

My friend and I are still best pals, and we still get a chuckle when we recall his innocent "Holy Cow", and the aftermath.

I almost felt sorry for Mr. Sharma, who was not well liked by students.


Paul Kimball

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. I

Jim Moseley is one of my favourite folks in ufology. I'm not exactly sure how many people are "non-subscribers" to Saucer Smear, his less-than-regular but always timely UFO newsletter, but for those who aren't (which would be most readers here, I suspect), I'll be running, as "non-scheduled" columns, some of my favourite observations that Moseley has made over the past few years, as well as some excerpts from his book, Shockingly Close to the Truth (co-authored with Karl Pflock), which is a must-read for anyone interested in either ufology or ufoology. If someone ever starts up a sociology or history course dealing with "ufology" (as opposed to UFOs), I predict Shockingly Close to the Truth will become one of the standard texts (at least it should be).

Here is one of Moseley's recent observations, found in the January 25, 2006 edition of Saucer Smear, which was written after Bob Pratt's death:

"Well, it seems, doesn't it, that the old-time ufologists are dying off like flies! If only there was "new blood" in the field, of the caliber of J. Allen Hynek or even Stanton Friedman! Instead we have mostly people who make outrageous, unsubstantiated claims about government secrecy and/or their own ufological adventures. Somewhere out there lies The Truth, but it really doesn't seem we are going to find it any time soon."

Exactly so. Where are the younger, serious researchers? A young Brad Sparks, for example, or a young Jim McDonald?

Go to a UFO convention. There's more grey hair there than at an AARP conference.

Heck, even the "big news" on the fringe is old (Paul Hellyer, Phil Corso).

A sports team, if it wants to keep on winning, develops younger talent. The veterans are eventually traded, or retire, to be replaced by the next generation. The alternative is a complete collapse. Politics work the same way (ask the Canadian Liberal Party these days). So does business. Even Star Trek eventually discovered a "Next Generation".

The "kids" don't step in right at the top, but they need to be encouraged to get involved, and the veterans slowly need to cede a larger role to them.

Is ufology actively developing that "next generation"? Nope. As a result, there are few, if any, new ideas in ufology these days, and a lack of real investigations of newer cases.

If you disagree, cite examples. Name someone under 40 who has the drive, interest, and talent to be the future of ufology. Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop are two of the best candidates, because, even when wrong, they fit the "challenger of the unkown" mold, but they're not exactly well-received by many in ufology these days, and Nick just passed 40 a couple of years ago. The only other person that I can think of is John Greenwald. But (and it's a big "but"), while he's good at getting documents out of the government, he doesn't have the training to interpret what they mean. He's the medium, not the message, and while the medium is important, in this case the two are not the same thing.

This is a dilemna that Jim Moseley, as one of the most senior figures in ufology, understands. It's an example of what makes him well worth reading.

Keep 'em comin', Jim. May The Space People continue to watch over you!

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Interesting pre-1947 UFO Cases, Vol. I

I was chatting with a ufologist friend last night, and in the course of our conversation he mentioned a UFO case that I was heretofore unaware of. A Google search later, and I found this:

"The following brief account of a recent strange meteorological occurrence may be of interest to your readers as an addition to the list of electrical eccentricities:

During the night of the 24th of October last [1886], which was rainy and tempestuous, a family of nine persons, sleeping in a hut a few leagues from Maracaibo [Venezuela], were awakened by a loud humming noise and a vivid, dazzling light, which brilliantly illuminated the interior of the house.

The occupants, completely terror stricken, and believing, as they relate, that the end of the world had come, threw themselves on their knees and commenced to pray, but their devotions were almost immediately interrupted by violent vomitings, and extensive swellings commenced to appear in the upper part of their bodies, this being particularly noticeable about the face and lips.

It is to be noted that the brilliant light was not accompanied by a sensation of heat, although there was a smoky appearance and a peculiar smell. The next morning the swellings had subsided, leaving upon the face and body large black blotches. No special pain was felt until the ninth day, when the skin peeled off, and these blotches were transformed into virulent raw sores.

The hair of the head fell off upon the side which happened to be underneath when the phenomenon occurred, the same side of the body being, in all nine cases, the more seriously injured.

The remarkable part of the occurrence is that the house was uninjured, all the doors and windows being closed at the time.

No trace of lightning could afterward be observed in any part of the building, and all the sufferers unite in saying that there was no detonation, but only the loud humming already mentioned.

Another curious attendant circumstance is that the trees around the house showed no signs of injury until the ninth day, when they suddenly withered, almost simultaneously with the development of the sores upon the bodies of the occupants of the house.

This is perhaps a mere coincidence, but it is remarkable that the same susceptibility to electrical effects, with the same lapse of time, should be observed in both animal and vegetable organisms.

I have visited the sufferers, who are now in one of the hospitals of this city; and although their appearance is truly horrible, yet it is hoped that in no case will the injuries prove fatal." [See Science Frontiers Online, here]

The author of this report?

Warner Cowgill, U.S. Consulate, Maracaibo, Venezuela

The date?

November 17, 1886.

Where was it first published?

In an article titled "Curious Phenomenon in Venezuela" in Scientific American, 55:389, 1886.

Possible explanations (besides aliens etc)?

Ball lightning.

However, my ufologist friend doesn't think so. He points out, as have others, that radiation-type effects from ball lightning would not occur, especially when they developed several days after the incident occurred.

On the other hand, the exact nature of what causes ball lightning is still a subject of considerable debate amongst scientists. Some theorize that the phenomenon involves radiation. In 1997, John Lowke, a plasma physicist at the Institute of Industrial Technologies in Australia wrote in Scientific American:

"There have been hundreds of papers, and at least three books, discussing ball lightning. Most theories raise more questions than they claim to solve. Probably the most famous theory was advanced by the Russian Nobel Prize winner Pyotr Kapitsa, who claimed that ball lightning is caused by a standing wave of electromagnetic radiation. But why should there be a standing wave of electromagnetic radiation? Other theories assert a variety of sources of energy for ball lightning, including atomic energy, antimatter, burning material or the electrical field from a cloud."

The multitude of theories cited by Lowke - including electromagnetic radiation and atomic energy, indicates that ball lightning remains a plausible explanation for the 1886 Venezuela incident - especially as some of the injuries incurred by the villagers were immediate. Also, the characteristics of the phenomenon described by Cowgill do seem relatively consistent with the general descriptions one finds for ball lighting.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, drop me a line, or leave a comment. I'm not an expert on ball lightning, so I'd be interested to hear from someone who has more knowledge about the subject than I do.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Remembering Yuri Gagarin

Americans sometimes like to think that they have a monopoly on space exploration, and it's true that they are the only ones who have been to the Moon, and they have the biggest and - whatever you might thing of NASA - the best exploration program (although there are many other countries with solid space programs).

However, while the Americans might have done things better in the long run, they didn't always do things first. Forty-five years ago today, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the "Columbus of the Cosmos", became the first human being to "boldly go where no-one had gone before" - into space.

Gagarin, who left the Earth a lowly Senior Lieutenant, and returned as a Major (he was promoted while he was up there) and a national hero, blasted off in Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961, orbited Earth once, in 108 minutes, and returned unharmed, ejecting from the Vostok capsule 7 km above the ground and descending separately to the ground (the capsule's parachute landing was too rough for cosmonauts to risk).

These days, orbiting the Earth once might not seem like much, which shows you how far we have advanced in such a short period of time, but in 1961 it was by no means certain that Gagarin was going to come back alive (three press releases were prepared - one for a successful flight, and two if it failed). Gagarin was a man of action, and courage - his first words after lift-off were, ""Poyekhali," or "Off we go!" which, as James Oberg noted, perfectly epitomized the adventure not only Gagarin, but all of us, were embarking on. His achievement, and that of the Soviet space program, was a triumph of human engineering and will.

Alas, as seems to often be the case, the aftermath of this one bright, shining moment did not measure up to the moment itself. Gagarin became world-famous, but had trouble adjusting to his new-found celebrity. He developed a drinking problem, and had marital difficulties. He never returned to space. He was killed in a plane crash on March 27, 1968, while working to re-qualify as a fighter pilot. He was just 34 years old.

In short, the rest of Yuri Gagarin's story did not live up to his achievement on April 12, 1961. But then it didn't have to - Gagarin had already made his unique mark. In the end, we remember not the tragedies of Gagarin's short life, but the courage and determination of the man who ushered in a new age in the history of the human race.

And we will never forget his words upon reaching orbit:

"I see Earth - it is so beautiful."

Paul Kimball

Stan Friedman on "The World's Strangest UFO Stories"

Re: the new series "The World's Strangest UFO Stories":

In what may be the understatement of the year so far, Stan Friedman was "not pleased".

Neither was Don Ledger, who let go with both barrels on Strange Days... Indeed this past Saturday, and at UFO Updates last week (see his remarks here). Others have weighed in as well.

I haven't seen any of the episodes, nor do I intend to - I'm too busy making my own films.

No-one was more aggrieved than Stan, however, at least in part because Discovery, on their promotional website, initially ran a photo of Stan next to a caption that read "I had sex with an alien".

Agree or disagree with Stan on particular issues, but he deserves better than that (in fairness, Discovery, which I'm sure made a simple mistake, pulled the photo as soon as Stan complained about it).

Ufologists are understandably wary of cooperating with television production companies, because it's hard to know which ones are going to take the subject seriously, and which ones are not (a producer will never walk up to you and say, "hey, I intend to make you look like a complete loon"). As a prospective interviewee, however, there are ways to lessen the risk that you get a surprise when you see the finished project. I outlined them a while back at UFO Updates, in response to a post by Greg Boone. Here they are:

"Everytime you give an interview, you're taking a bit of a risk.

But there are ways to minimize that risk. Try the following (this advice may get me drummed out of the "evil producer's union" but what the heck):

a) first, ask any producer for a resume and a sample of his previous work on the subject (ie. UFOs). If this is his first UFO film, ask for a sample of his previous work on another subject - if he's treated them fairly, odds are he'll treat you fairly. Check his website (we all have websites). If he won't provide a previous film or a resume, walk away. If he doesn't have a website, walk away;

b) any legal paperwork (contract, release form) should include a clause to the effect of: "The producer will have complete editorial and creative control over all aspects of thefilm. The Subject / Interviewee (etc) will be given the opportunity to screen a fine cut of the film, and will have an absolute right to require changes only in the case of any factually inaccurate statements by the Subject, or by others as they relate to the Subject, or if any statements made by the Subject are taken out of context within the film" This is probably the best you can hope for, but it's better than nothing. If a producer won't oblige (and the above is a standard term in any contract we sign with a Subject), walk away (as most of Michael Moore's victims should have);

c) never answer any question you do not feel comfortable answering;

d) recognize that any answer you give longer than 30 seconds is likely to be edited, not always to your liking (although (b) above helps prevent your words from being twisted). A 2 hour lecture is a lousy idea. We'll ignore it. Keep your answers short and to the point. In television, soundbites rule. If you can't accept that, walk away;

e) always remember that every camera and microphone is potentially live, even when the little red light isn't on;

f) always check your facts beforehand - if you say something that's wrong, it's part of the record, you're stuck with it (although (b) above may give you an out), and you have no-one to blame but yourself when you end up looking like an idiot;

g) ask to see a treatment, or at least a one-page synopsis, of the film in advance;

h) before the interview begins, ask to take a look in the camera viewfinder to see how you're being framed - tight close-up, midshot, etc. If the producer or director won't let you, definitely walk away; and

g) remember that being "treated fairly" doesn't mean that the producer, director or the final film will end up endorsing or accepting your point of view."

I'm far from perfect, but I value my reputation for integrity. As a result, these are all rules that I follow without being asked, and I've never had an interview subject complain of how they were portrayed in a film.

I'm a big believer in the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you rule".

Anyway, I offer Stan's edited response, which he forwarded to me with permission to post, for your information. FYI - Guy O'Sullivan is with the production company that made the series.

Paul Kimball

From: "Stanton Friedman"
To: "Guy O'Sullivan"
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 9:38 PM


Thank you for sending this DVD. It is without a doubt one of the most inaccurate documentaries I have ever seen related in any way to UFOs. I have seen a lot. For this I wasted 2 days of my life? Obviously who ever put this together never read John Fuller's book "The Interrupted Journey" which is derived from the many months of weekly separate sessions that Betty and Barney Hill had with Dr. Simon. He didn't watch the NBC Special "The UFO Incident" with James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons, based on the book.

There is no mention of any of the supporting work such as the star map, no mention of the damage done to and analysis of Betty's dress, of the other sightings the same night; I suppose it would have been too much to expect that Betty's being a social worker for the state of New Hampshire could be mentioned or that Barney's being on the Governor's Civil Rights Commission could be mentioned, or that Kathy has been a teacher and a social worker or that I am a nuclear physicist.

There was no sex with an alien with either Betty or Barney. Tidbits were used totally out of context.

Doesn't anybody fact check there?? How dare you mix such a serious, in depth, investigation conducted by professionals over a very long period of time with the sexy stories having no investigation done? Has anybody looked at the outtakes to see what a hatchet job was done to this story? An apology is owed Kathy and I and the families of the others portrayed in such a false and misleading fashion.

An apology is owed to the viewers of this garbage. As a scientist I cannot stomach such a brazen and false mix of science and science fiction.


Stanton Friedman"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Finding Darwin's God

"Finding Darwin's God", a thought-provoking article by Dr. Kenneth Miller, which was originally published in the November / December 1999 Brown Alumni Magazine, can be found here. Miller has been a professor of biology at Brown since 1986. The article was adapted from his book Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution.

The tag-line for the article reads:

"To creationists, an acceptance of evolution cannot coexist with belief in a created world. Not only are the creationists wrong, argues a professor of biology who is also a Christian, they deny the possibility of human beings created free to choose right from wrong. Darwin's theories, he says, can actually deepen our belief in a Creator."

An excerpt:

"Evolution is neither more nor less than the result of respecting the reality and consistency of the physical world over time. To fashion material beings with an independent physical existence, any Creator would have had to produce an independent material universe in which our evolution over time was a contingent possibility. A believer in the divine accepts that God's love and gift of freedom are genuine - so genuine that they include the power to choose evil and, if we wish, to freely send ourselves to Hell. Not all believers will accept the stark conditions of that bargain, but our freedom to act has to have a physical and biological basis. Evolution and its sister sciences of genetics and molecular biology provide that basis. In biological terms, evolution is the only way a Creator could have made us the creatures we are - free beings in a world of authentic and meaningful moral and spiritual choices."

Well worth a read, as is Miller's book, if you're inclined to delve deeper into his views, which are more relevant today than they were when Miller originally wrote it.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 10, 2006

Best Evidence Poll Results

Here are the final results of the Best Evidence poll that I started on March 13th. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and voted - particularly those of you who voted "other" and then took the time to either leave a comment, or e-mail me privately, as to what your "other" was.

This is hardly a scientific sampling, of course, but I think it is nonethless revealing of one of the major challenges facing ufology. I think it's fair to assume that most, if not all, the people who voted have at least some interest in the subject of UFOs (otherwise they probably wouldn't be popping by to vote). Accordingly, one would assume that their knowledge level about the best cases would be a bit higher than that of the average man or woman on the street. And maybe it is, because there's nothing inherently wrong with Shag Harbour, the Belgium case, or Bentwaters, the three that polled the most votes. All three are good cases. Indeed, maybe they really are the best.

But, as I am also the only person privy to the results of my survey of some of the world's top UFO experts last summer and fall, I can't help but note that there is a bit of disconnect between what the public considers to be the best cases, and what the experts consider to be the best cases. I've noticed this when I talk to people at conferences, as well - mention RB47, or Kelly Johnson, Killeen, Malmstrom AFB, or even Minot AFB, which was featured prominently in the Peter Jennings special "Seeing is Believing" a year ago, and most of the time they don't know what you're talking about (although they're usually eager to learn).

Again, this is not to say that the Belgian case, for example, is not a good case. But is it better than RB47, Killeen, Kelly Johnson (Agoura) and Minot all put together? Or is it just more recent, and better known? The same is true of Shag Harbour and Bentwaters, both of which have been the subject of films and books in the past few years (even though Shag Harbour occurred almost 40 years ago, it's heightened public profile is a relatively recent development).

But how often do you hear ufologists talking about these "old" cases in public? Not very often. Is that their fault? In some ways, yes (call it the "Ivory Tower Syndrome"), but in other, very significant ways it isn't. After all, when was the last time you went to a UFO conference and saw someone give a serious presentation on the RB47 case, as opposed to a presentation on Project Serpo? But one can't just blame the conferences - what about the radio shows out there, like Coast to Coast? How often do you hear these "old cases" discussed on those shows, as opposed to another appearance by David Icke (note: the notable exception is Errol Bruce-Knapp's Strange Days... Indeed, which does talk about these "old cases" frequently, and usually intelligently, including a recent appearance by Robert Salas, one of the key witnesses for the Malmstrom case)? It is a question of opportunity, namely the opportunities to discuss in a public forum the "old cases" which may contain the best evidence for the objective reality of the UFO phenomenon. Sadly, very few of these opportunities exist anymore. As a result, the general public isn't really aware of the great "old cases".

I look forward to the opportunity to change this situation with the Best Evidence film, even if just a bit, and to give some of the great "older cases" the public attention they deserve.

Rest assured, however, that some of the "newer" and "better known" cases will be there too.

It's always about balance - not forgetting the past, i.e. the foundation upon which ufology is built, even as you continue to research and study the more recent cases that our generation has experienced.

Again, thanks to everyone who voted. Vox populi!

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kimball & Redfern - Alien Abduction Revealed!

I don't think Nick has told anyone... and I know I haven't told anyone... but I feel it is now time to reveal that he and I were abducted by aliens while in Puerto Rico last September!

Fortunately, the aliens were friendly, as was the boa constrictor (I wonder if the snake was somehow involved in the Villa Boas case??). The little alien was quite AFFAble, and said to say hello to the "boys topside". I'm not sure what he meant, exactly, but I presume it's some rap group, as he was quite fond of Eminem.

What really interested me was the potential religious implications of the encounter - as you can see, the father alien has a halo! Astonishing.

Nick tells me he's writing a book about the incident called "Body Snatchers in the Jungle".

Meanwhile, I'm working on a movie-of-the-week script.

I'm hoping Clive Owen agrees to play Nick, and Ewan McGregor takes on the role of a lifetime - me!

Coming soon, no doubt, to a bookstore and a mulitplex near you!

Paul Kimball

Amos Babcock... Crazed Murderer, or...?

Many people have heard someone say, "hey, I saw a UFO." Even the title of the Peter Jennings UFO documentary a year ago, "Seeing Is Believing", references sight, but not the other senses.

Sometimes, however, people don't see a UFO, but they hear it.

Back in October, 2005, I recounted a UFO report from Bedford, Nova Scotia, witnessed by two people and an RCMP officer, and "heard" by two neighbours. That column can be found here.

The "visual" witnesses saw lights in the sky. They reported no sound. However, at the same time, here is what the neighbours were experiencing, as recounted by ace Nova Scotia researcher Chris Styles, who interviewed them years later:

"Mr. Bedford explained that on the night of October 16, 1976, Constable Pharand knocked on their door. The couple spoke with the mountie at the doorway. They never stepped outside to look up. They did not want to. Previous to Constable Pharand's intrusion the Bedford's had been hiding upstairs with the blinds drawn. The cause for concern was a loud, persistent roaring noise unlike anything that they had heard before. Mr. Bedford felt that the source of the strident noise was something hovering low over their suburban home. Mr. Bedford was just as certain that whatever that 'something' was it was not anything like a helicopter or conventional aircraft. It should be noted that at the time of the incident Mr. Bedford was employed by DND as a naval architect and had considerable experience with such equipment. Robert Bedford refused to speculate as to how his house could come under a threatening din of noise while just next door, the Webster's and Constable Pharand managed to enjoy a two hour exhibition of three UFOs that hovered and maneuvered in silence. He was just grateful that the ordeal ended at the precise moment that the mountie knocked on the door."

Sometimes, in other words, people hear UFOs, rather than seeing them.

Could something similar have happened in southeastern New Brunswick in the early 19th century, with tragic consequences?

In 1804 and 1805, a series of religious meetings were held in the settlement of Shediac by a man named Jacob Peck, who was a convert of a preacher named Joseph Crandall (who later became a Member of the House of Assembly), who in turn was a convert of Henry Alline. These were not staid Church of England meetings - Peck referred to himself as "John the Baptist", and the meetings themselves were wild and woolly, where an extreme form of New Light evangelicalism was practiced and taught.

William Hanington provided this report of one particular meeting, in February 1805, where things got even stranger than normal:

"The evening of the 8[th] they met at Amos Babcocks & Did not go to Bed, & in the heights of their Confused noise they was alarmed By a Great noise as of something of a Great weight & force had fell on the Upper floor."

How loud was this noise?

"Some of them thought the French was firing against the house, & they stopped a few minutes."

Sounds pretty loud to me.

So, what did these people hear?

Who knows? Hanington doesn't say, and it appears that the people didn't know themselves.

So what, you might say. A loud sound, in the midst of a revival meeting. Big deal.

But this wasn't any ordinary revival meeting.

These people believed that the end of the world was imminent. Some of them had visions. Peck was eventually brought to book by the worried authorities for "blasphemous and seditious language" - here's a portion of his indictment:

"The Jurors of our Lord the King upon their oath present that Jacob Peck... being a profane wicked and blasphemous man, and a wicked and base Imposter and perverter of the sacred Scriptures of the New Testament and contriving and intending to personate and to represent himself to be John the Baptist mentioned in the Holy Gospels of God, and also to terrify and deceive divers of the liege subjects of His majesty... with false denunciations of the Judgments of Almighty God and to bring the Christian religion and the doctrines thereof into derision and contempt..."

Well, you get the picture.

Peck wasn't the biggest problem, however - that turned out to be Amos Babcock, in whose house the loud cannon-like sound was heard. On the same day that the grand jury indicted Peck, they indicted Babcock.

The crime?

The murder of his sister, ironically named Mercy.

The following account was provided by Babcock's brother Jonathan at the coroner's inquest. It is a chilling narrative.

"Witness Examined - Jonathan Babcock - Says that on the night of the Thirteenth Instant [13 February 1805], he was at his Brothers Amos Babcocks house, & in the evening was grinding some wheat on a hand Mill, & he Desired him to Stop to pray for he was tired & Sleepy, & Insisted on his Staying all night. He then made his Children Relate Some Dreams & he then Related his Dream & went to Prayers. After Prayers he went out of Doors, & the Witness Began to grind again. He [Amos] hearing a Noise Commanded Silence, & the Witness supposed he wanted to Listen to Something & he went out to See. He was Standing & Looking upwards & seemed to be Sniffing. He then came in & sat Down a few minutes, got up & Traversed the Floor, & Said there was Some great thing going to happen that night, & he should not Wonder if the Midnight Cry [Mat: 25.6] was to be made that the Lord should Come to call the People to Judgment. He appeared to be much Distressed in his mind & Groaned often. He seemed to intimate that he was commissioned from the lord to Reveal Some great thing. He then Pulled off his Coat & Tucked up his shirt Sleeves & took a Bark of Meal & Rubbed his Arms & feet with it & then went out of Doors, & Immediately Callled to the Witness to Bring him a Towell, & he tied it Round his Waist. The Witness then went into the house & sat Down & heard the Prisoner Repeat, Oh Lord not only My head & my hands But my feet also & would Frequently Pray a few words, & Just Before he came into the house he said, I see the Stars falling from heaven, And then came into the house, & Told his wife & Children to be of God Chear, that nothing would hurt them, & then Prayed a few Words, & to put their trust in god. He went to the Window & Said I see them coming & that it will be But a few Minutes Befoe they will be here. He then took out his knife & Sharpened it on a Stone, & then Laid them on the hearth, the Knife on the Stone & Said that [it] was a Cross. A short time after he Stamped on it, & then he Spit on all his Childrens heads & Rubbed it Down their hair, & Said he was Anointing them & named his Sons Gideons men. He then took up one of his Children about 3 years old, & Blowed his Breath into the Childs mouth, So that it was almost Strangled, & Then Throwed it with great force across the house against the Logs. He then Pulled the cap off the head of the Deceased [Mercy], & said she must make herself Ready, & Told her to pull off her shoes. He then took up the Knife & Stone & Danced about the house. He then came to the Witness with his Knife, & Commanded him in the name of the Lord God of Israel to Strip, Saying he was the Angel gabriel. He then turned to his Wife & ordered here to Look him Steadfastly in the fact, & not to take her Eyes off, or Else he would Run her Through. She took her Eyes off him & he struck her with his fist, the Children all Standing in a Row as he had Placed them. He then turned [to the] Witness & made two or three Feints, with his Knife, & Struck him with his Left hand. He then walked Cross the house & then flew a cross to the Deceased [Mercy] with the Knife in his hand and as the Witness made his Escape He heard the Deceased Screich out. The Witness then Alarmed the Neighbours."

Mercy died of multiple stab wounds.

At his trial, Babcock was undefended. He was found guilty, and hanged.

So, a few nights after a revival meeting at Babcock's home, where the participants reported hearing a loud, unexplained noise that lasted for several minutes, Babcock went nuts, and killed his sister?

No UFO or paranormal connection here, surely. The loud sound certainly has some logical explanation, and Babcock was obviously insane.


On the night he killed his sister, Babcock, according to his brother, seems to have heard a noise, and even smelled something odd - both of which, if one reads his brother's account, may well have come from the sky (when he went out to see what Amos was doing, Babcock was looking at the sky). Babcock also supposedly saw "stars falling from the heavens."

The accounts of his subsequent arrest and imprisonment show that the authorities thought Babcock was delusional, but perhaps as a result of an outside agent (which makes one wonder what Babcock told the authorities - there is no record). Solicitor-General Ward Chipman, who prosecuted Babcock, addressed the prospect of insanity at the trial - in doing so, he made particular reference to "Satan" as a possible cause of Babcock's delusions.

"If insanity is his defense, he must shew a total alienation of mind... With regard to those whose coming is after the working of Satan - because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved - for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. But such delusion will by no means lessen their guilt." [emphasis in original]

For whatever reason, Ward Chipman, at the time the Solicitor-General of New Brunswick, and who later became a justice of the Supreme Court, and is considered by historians to be one of, if not the, most influential early leaders of the colony of New Brunswick, saw fit to enter into the record a refernece to the possibility that Babcock was under the influence of Satan (but that this still didn't excuse his crime).

What if, however, Babcock was under the influence of another paranormal actor, one beyond his ability to comprehend, so he fit it into the limited world-view that he had?

Loud noises.

Stars falling from heaven.


I'm sure Babcock was just plain old crazy. I mean, what else could it be? If he did see "stars falling from heaven" they were probably just meteors, and the loud noises, as I said, almost certainly have a mundane explanation - maybe the French, who formed the majority in the Shediac area, really were firing at them.

But there are a couple of interesting questions.

What did Babcock hear on the night of the murder. Or did he just think he heard something?

Further, there seems to have been no sign leading up to the murder that Babcock was crazy enough to commit murder. Sure, he was involved in some pretty wild revival meetings, but then so was his whole family, and plenty of others, both there and throughout the Maritimes, and yet none of them committed murder as a result.

So, was Babcock the one of the bunch who completely lost it?

Almost certainly.


Stars from heaven.

Loud noises.


If nothing else, it's more intersting than the Alien Autopsy "film", and more likely to be evidence of the paranormal, in some way or another - which, I admit, isn't saying much!

Still, it also shows, as does the Biard story from 1611, and the 1796 New Minas story, that the Maritime Provinces have a pretty rich and interesting - and occassionally weird - history.

And I haven't even told you any of the ghost stories yet!

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 07, 2006

Alien Autopsy Fallout, Vol. I

The fallout from the latest revelations about the Alien Autopsy "film" hoax has begun.

Great stuff.

Duck and cover(up), indeed!

From UFO Updates today, Philip Mantle offers some more thoughts on the alien autopsy hoax (original here):

Dear List Members,

For the benefit of those who have not seen the recent Sky One show featuring Santilli I thought I might take this opportunity to point out some of the nonsense in more detail.

Santilli & Co claim that they had 22 reels of film of which only 5% was left intact. 55 is an awful lot, but Santilli claims that only a few frames were used in the AA film and the rest was a reconstruction. Santilli & co could not recognise these few frames which they claim were part of the AA film. The 'oxidisation' of the film is also laughable.

Santilli & co could not remember the flat (apartment) where they claimed to have filmed the restoration/reconstruction. I've just spoken to a friend who has been in movie effects all his life and he can not imagine how two 5ft alien dummies plus all of the props were smuggled into a flat without anyone seeing them and it all being filmed in one day. Very implausible to say the least.

The chap who made the dummies is John Humphreys. Santilli & Shoefield stood over him constantly like a pair of minders and never allowed him to say anything without them being there. I can tell you for sure that they did not want him to spill the beans.

The so-called original frames that Santilli showed, after keeping them in a small tin, were never held up to the camera so that we could see what was on them. They could have had anything on them. And of course, Santilli has never had any frames of film independently scientifically tested. As Santilli pointed out, he was only interested in the commercial aspects of the film. Are you telling me that if he even had one authentic frame of film that he would not have sold it to the highest bidder?

Just for the record, I have been working on another TV show for a UK terrestrial broadcaster and the only reason that it has not yet been broadcast is because of legal action that was brought to prevent it. I cannot tell you who took out that action nor the content of the show, but I think you can probably guess.

Last but not least, I've recently interviewed someone here in the UK whose testimony could well sink Ray Santilli's ship. He will tell all exactly how the whole scam started.

Make no mistake about it, there is and never was any original film, and there is and never was any former U.S. military cameraman. Some of you might be aware of the second world war saying: "Loose lips sink ships". Well, there's a few 'loose lips' talking to me and they have been for quite some time now and Santilli's ship is sinking fast.

Just for the record, John Humphreys said he made the alien brain from a sheeps brain coated in jelly (jello). That's why it looks like it does.

Again, this all seems pretty definitive, n'est ce pas? It also seems perfectly logical to all of those people (including me) who long ago looked at the film, smiled, and said to ourselves, "hoax".

Alas, not everyone is convinced. Ed Gehrman, the most vocal and persistent defender of the "film's" authenticity (hehehehe...) has finally responded (original here"), and he continues to wave the AA flag:

First of all I was very surprised by Ray's remarks. After reading Philip's comments, I immediately did a frame by frame visual analysis of the new AA DVD that Neil Morris has developed. I was looking for any evidence that Ray had faked, hoaxed or tampered with the footage or added frames or that it was a type of restoration as he now claimed. A restoration or hoaxed presentation can't be accomplished without leaving some clues that this has been attempted. I don't think it's possible to fake something like this and not leave any incriminating evidence behind, no matter what Ray suggests.

My belief in the authenticity of the AA footage has never depended on Ray's veracity, although I did believe his story of the cameraman and how he acquired the footage and I still do. Dennis Murphy, Neil Morris, Theresa Carlson, William Sawers, Andrew Lavoie and Bob Shell have been and continue to be my main sources for verification. These are researchers who have actually spent time examining the uncut, AA footage. They have reported internal clues that speak for legitimacy. I'm sure they'd agree that Ray's turnaround leaves many unanswered questions.

There's still the matter of the crash site that I discovered after following the cameraman's directions. How did Ray ever imagine or "restore" these directions from the fabric of his imagination? He has never been to Socorro! The cameraman existed; the crash site and drawings are evidence.

How many of you remember the Kiviat Productions lawsuit against Chuck Harder? Chuck simply copied the uncut AA footage from a Santilli original tape and began selling it during his radio talk show for ten dollars saying that it belonged to everyone inthe US since our tax dollars funded the project. I bought one and still have it. Harder was sued for sixty million dollars butthe case was settled, in Chuck's favor, just before it went tocourt. This avoided a Federal court decision on the validity ofSantilli's copyright. It's not clear but Kiviat probably ended up paying Harder's legal fees ($150,000) as well.

I doubt Ray could establish clear copyright on stolen, top secret Army film unless he claimed, as he does now, that he had revised and restored the footage and that it was a creative endeavor. So what this boils down to is copyright protection.

"What this boils down to is copyright protection."


No, Ed, what this boils down to is this:

1.The film is a hoax;

2. You and others were conned; and

3. There is no "crash site".

There's no harm in #2. We've all been fooled at one time or another. To err is human, after all. If you can admit your mistakes, and learn from them, then being fooled once or twice actually has a beneficial effect on a person.

To persist, however, in saying something is real, in the face of such overwhelming evidence that it's a hoax, shows that a person isn't really interested in the truth, but rather is interested in being right - even if he or she is the only person left on the face of the Earth that thinks they're right.

As I said the other day, however, Ed et al don't have to worry - there are enough gullible people in ufology, and enough people willing to believe any conpspiracy theory, no matter how outlandish, that the Alien Autopsy "film" will always have a small, devoted group of believers, even as the rest of the world - including most of those who once thought the "film" might be real - have moved on.

But that's what happens in ufology, where "inconventient facts" meet "the will to believe" (as Karl Pflock would say) far too often.

I'll keep you updated as this story develops further.

Paul Kimball

Fair Use for UFO Filmmakers

More and more people (judging by Tim Crawford's display at the Laughlin Conference) are making documentaries about UFOs, and related subjects (and everything else for that matter - docs are hot).

Here's a good resource for any budding UFO filmmakers out there, concerning "fair use" in documentaries. It's well worth a read, particularly if you haven't dealt with these concepts before. It's also a useful reference tool for "fair use" in general, including people with UFO blogs, websites, and the like.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Non UFO-Related Non-Conspiracy Post, Vol. I

Whoo-hoo! Diet Coke drinkers everywhere are vindicated (or at least a little relieved).

Tough luck for the lab rats.

Tough luck for the "aspartame" conspiracy rats, too.

Paul Kimball

Study Takes Fizz Out of Aspertame-Cancer Link


WASHINGTON (AP) - A huge federal study in people - not rats - takes the fizz out of arguments that the diet soda sweetener aspartame might raise the risk of cancer.

Diet colas are a major source of aspertame in many diets.

No increased risk was seen even among people who gulped down many artificially sweetened drinks a day, said researchers who studied the diets of more than half a million older Americans.

A consumer group praised the study, done by reputable researchers independent of any funding or ties to industry groups.

"It goes a fair way toward allaying concerns about aspartame,'' said Michael Jacobson, head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which had urged the government to review the sweetener's safety after a troubling rat study last year.

Findings were reported Tuesday at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Aspartame came on the market 25 years ago and is found in thousands of products - sodas, chewing gum, dairy products and even many medicines. NutraSweet and Equal are popular brands.

Research in the 1970s linked a different sweetener, saccharin, to bladder cancer in lab rats. Although the mechanism by which this occurred does not apply to people and no human risk was ever documented, worries about sugar substitutes in general have persisted.

They worsened after Italian researchers last year reported results of the largest animal study ever done on aspartame, involving 1,800 lab rats. Females developed more lymphomas and leukemias on aspartame than those not fed the sweetener.

The new study, by scientists at the National Cancer Institute, involved 340,045 men and 226,945 women, ages 50 to 69, participating in a research project by the National Insitutes of Health and AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons.

From surveys they filled out in 1995 and 1996 detailing food and beverage consumption, researchers calculated how much aspartame they consumed, especially from sodas or from adding the sweetener to coffee or tea.

Over the next five years, 2,106 developed blood-related cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia, and 376 developed brain tumors. No link was found to aspartame consumption for these cancers in general or for specific types, said Unhee Lim, who reported the study's findings.

The dietary information was collected before the cancers developed, removing the possibility of "emory bias'' - faulty recollection influenced by knowing you have a disease.

"It's very reassuring. It's a large study with a lot of power,'' said Richard Adamson, a senior science consultant to the American Beverage Association, the leading industry group.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest still warns about one potential hazard of aspartame use: thinking that calories "saved'' from using a sugar substitute justify "spending'' more on unhealthy foods.

"Drinking a diet soda at lunch does not mean it's okay to have a larger dessert at dinner,'' the group's Web site warns.

The Latest on Karl Pflock

I got my copy of the latest Saucer Smear today, and, lo and behold, there I was, the lead story on page one, which covered my column a while back on Phil Klass and the FBI. Colour me purple and call me Grimace!

Far more important than my brief moment of ufoological glory, however, is a short note on page 6 about Karl Pflock, who has appeared in all three of my UFO-related films, and whom I consider a friend. As most within ufology know, Karl has ALS. I haven't heard from him in a while, nor has his regular "fifth" column appeared in Saucer Smear recently. Unfortunately, the news out of New Mexico isn't good as I would have hoped.

"Sadly, we learn from Karl Pflock's wife Mary that his illness has progressed to the point that he will no longer be able to contribute material to 'Smear' on a regular basis. As most of our readers know, about a year ago Karl was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The condition gets worse over a period of time and is inevitably fatal. Karl will continue to keep in touch with us and will send contributions to 'Smear' when he is able. We wish him well!..."

I can only echo Moseley's sentiment at the end.

People would be well served to wander over to the Saucer Smear website, and read some of Karl's columns in the back issues - he was always entertaining and insightful, even when you might disagree with him. He has been an important part of serious ufology, and not-so-serious ufoology, for decades now, and has made significant contributions in a number of areas, including his work on the Roswell and Aztec cases.

Here's one of my favourite "Pflock Talk" columns, from the 15 September, 2002 issue:

Pflock Ptalk
by Karl Pflock, Our Contributing Editor & Fifth Columnist

(Certain true-to-form reactions to the Supreme Commander's and my "Shockingly Close to the Truth!" prompt this reprise of "Hey, Ufrogs'. Lighten Up", from the 9/5/00 "Smear". Next time, a shockingly new and exciting column!)

Ufologists are always complaining that they "don't get no respect". They whine that the field which they say means so much to them is not taken seriously. Seems to me one of the top reasons for this is that ufologists take themselves too damn seriously!

Zealotry and self-importance plague The Field. This Leading Ufologist and that Leading Ufologist is so sure his is a Historic Mission, so certain he has The Answer to the Mystery of the Millennium that he becomes the subject matter - UFOs - personified.

Of course, every one of these Big Frogs has appropriated his own small - no, tiny - pond with a well-centered lily pad throne on which to squat. Each plops on his own royal seat, loudly and oh-so-seriously croaking and fending off any other frogs who presume to suggest they might know something about the depth of the big fella's mud puddle. Roswell puddle. Abductions puddle. Mutilations puddle. Saucer history puddle. UFO skeptic puddle. Ufological political correctness puddle. Croak! Croak! Croak!

Have you ever seen a frog that wasn't absolutely certain of his own centrality in the universe? Ever seen a frog that wasn't funny, very funny indeed, because of his own self-importance, utterly unaware of how silly he looks sprawling on and quite a bit off a semi-submerged leaf in a fetid pool with a gaggle of burbling tadpoles wiggling around him?

Look around you. Do you see all the self-important Ufrogs? Listen. Do you hear all their I-am-the-greatest croaking? The cacophony is enough to make you - and Real Science - deaf, isn't it? Listen again. Do you hear any of them laughing at themselves? This time, it's the silence that's deafening!

I've got a theory, well, a notion: If ufology never rises above the status of a tabloid semi-proto-science, one not unimportant reason will be because its practitioners - I know this is stretching the use of a perfectly good word to the breaking point - um, leading lights don't - can't - laugh at themselves.

Hey, you dim-bulbs: Lighten up. Look in the mirror. Read "Smear". See yourselves as you really are. Scary, huh? Yeah, but funny, very funny. Have a good laugh. Knock yourselves out!

There is no better antidote for what ails ufology today, both as to its internal difficulties and where it stands with the outside "straight" world than a good belly laugh at itself. Read "Smear", ufology, and be saved!

Best wishes Karl, and keep on fighting!

Paul Kimball

The return of my Number One Fan

It's good to see my Number One Fan is back at it. I was getting bored of looking at the picture of Richard Nixon that was supposed to represent me in his previous panegyric. I'm more of an Teddy Roosevelt kind of guy.

Or is it Woodrow Wilson?

Or Aaron Burr?

Depends on my mood.

Besides, everyone who's anyone knows that my old pal The Manager is Richard Nixon!

Anyway, the latest from the Paul A. Kimball Appreciation Society, as run by Number One Fan, can be found here.

It's nice to be loved.

It's also nice to find someone who thinks 39 is still young. That made my day.

As for the rest, well, here's sincerely hoping Number One Fan and I are both still kicking on 1 January, 2013 - at which point I fully expect him, gentlemen that he is, to post a column somewhere that says, "hey - Paul Kimball was right, and I was wrong."

Anyone want to make any bets as to how that's going to work out?

Look at it this way - if Number One Fan is on the mark, you're all screwed (don't worry - ain't gonna happen). If I'm correct, well, party on, dudes, like it was 1999 (speaking of another pre-doomsday year that passed uneventfully).

I suspect that Number One Fan, grim pessimist that he is, secretly hopes that I'm right.

In the meanwhile, time to get back to fronting for the _____________________.

I'm sure Number One Fan will fill in the blank space - probably with 1,000 words where only one or two was really called for, but then I wouldn't have it any other way.

Paul Kimball

P.S. In the photo above, I''m the handsome "young" one on the left.

Laughlin Photo Album - Vol. III

A photo of Rear Admiral Zorgrot on tour southeast of Laughlin, exploring what's left of Route 66.

"These old highways - which aren't really that high - are much more fun than those Interstates," he said to me as we climbed through the mountains.

I just looked at him, and then over the edge of a 500 foot drop around a hairpin turn where there was no guardrail (not that it would have done much good), and replied, "uh huh... easy for you to say."

His response?

"Can't you go any faster, you 'fraidy-zarg?"

Sigh... tact is not his strong suit.

Still, I guess for a creature that's used to traveling faster than the speed of light, climbing around hairpin turns at 5 to 10 mph can seem a bit... slow.

For me, it just seems like common sense.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Alien Autopsy Film a Hoax (Well, D'uh)!

This should come as no surprise to anyone with an ounce of common sense... alas, this does not include all ufologists (more on that below):

From UFO Updates today:

From: Philip Mantle
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 22:35:57 +0100
Fwd Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2006 11:18:06 -0400
Subject: Santilli Changes His Autopsy Film Story

Tonight showed the SKY ONE TV show 'Eamon Investigates - AlienAutopsy. The show starts of with Santilli still claiming that hesaw real film of aliens and that he purchased it from a formerUS military cameraman. However, there is now a change in the story. Santilli & his colleague Gary Shoefield claim that it took 2 years to buy the film & that when it finally arrived inLondon 95% of it had 'oxidised' and the remaining 5% was in very poor condition. They therefore decided to 'reconstruct' it based on Santilli's recollection and a few frames that were left. To do this they hired UK sculptor John Humphreys. Humphreys tells of how he used sheeps brain for the brain and a lambs leg for the leg joint.The cameraman's interview film is also a fake. The man in the film is someone they literally brought in off the street and gave him a prepared script to read from. Santilli and Shoefield continually try to insist that the AA film as we know it is a restoration, but in fact it was made by John Humphreys. To try and justify they claim that some of the surviving original frames are seen mixed in with the reconstruction/restoration. Interestingly neither Santilli, Shoefield or Humphreys could point out where and which are these frames when viewing the AA film. Santilli admitted that the six-fingered panels in the debris film were the result of 'artistic license' an he even produce done of the I-beams from the boot of his car. The debris film was also mde by John Humphreys. In fact, Humphreys is the surgeon in the film, and a former employee of Shoefield's in behind the window. He's GarethWatson, a man I met several times in Ray's office. Nick Pope and mysels appear briefly in this show and I dare say Nick will have hi own comments to make. For anyone interested inthe AA film I do recommend watching this if you can. I've takenpart in another show for Channel Five in the UK the content ofwhich I am not permitted to disclose. After watching this tonight I can honestly say that I do not believe one word of either Santilli or Shoefield and I have no doubt that the film is nothing more than a complete fake. There is and never was any original film and there is and never was any US military cameraman. Santilli & Shoefield had little credibility as it was but now they have none.The alien autopsy film is dead and I hope to put it to rest, once and for all, soon. Watch this space.

Philip Mantle

Which brings us to Ed Gehrman, perhaps the most vocal defender of the "film" over the years. I'm one of many people who had to endure Ed's standard "you don't know what you're talking about, if only you'd just look at the evidence" line (just type in "Paul Kimball", "Ed Gehrman" and "alien autopsy" in the UFO Updates search engine - please note that I always treated Ed politely, with respect, even when he wasn't responding in kind).

Recently, he's been pounding Nick Redfern, Jason Gammon, Chris Allan, and others at Updates.

My favourite recent exchange is this one [original here]:

From: Ed Gehrman
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 09:54:51 -0800
Fwd Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 13:04:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Santilli & The AA Film - Gehrman

>From: Jason Gammon
>Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 23:35:02 EST
>Subject: Re: Santilli & The AA Film

>>From: Bob Shell
>>Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 16:47:27 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Santilli & The AA Film

>>>From: Christopher Allan
>>>Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 20:36:33 +0100
>>>Subject: Re: Santilli & The AA Film

[Allan]: Does anybody still expect that anything of scientific value will emerge from this film? If it had any real merit, it ought to have had a sound track, plus some identity as to the date and location of the filming, and the personnel involved. Then we could at least make a start on establishing its validity.

[Shell]: Thanks for the most incorrect, superficial, and downright ignorant post that I have seen on this List in a very long time. Nothing you say is correct, and if you had been paying attention to this thread at all, you'd know that. What a sad waste of bandwidth. Bob Shell

[Gammon]: Unfortunately the same thing could be said about those pseudo-researchers who desperately cling on to the notion that the AA film is authentic.

[Gehrman]: Jason,What makes a person a "pseudo-researcher"? There are about ten researchers who have been following the AA and collecting evidence and working together as much as possible. I guess we form the core of the AA pseudo-research community. I'm proud tobe a part of this group and to have worked with Dave Vetterick, Neil Morris, Bob Shell, and William Sawers, Philip Mantle, WendyConnors and others to try to figure out the AA puzzle. None of us are "desperately clinging" to the notion that the AA is authentic. We'd like the UFO community to reexamine their assumptions and give the evidence we've collected and honest break.

[Gammon]: Take a big step backwards Bob, turn your critical eye inwards, and look at the situation with a commonsense, down-to-earth mental outlook. No shred of evidence has been presented to validate any of the claims of Santilli or the supposed "Camera Man".

[Gehrman]: Then why not visit the following site and see where you think I'm in error. How could the cameraman supply directions, a map,and two drawings to a site in the middle of nowhere that accurately predicted the actual features and anomalies found there. http://www.thewhyfiles.net/gehrman.htm

[Gammon]: Instead, wehave a bunch of AA-cultists screaming that we sane people have to prove it is fake.

[Gehrman]: Cultists? I don't think we qualify. Why do you think we do?

[Gammon]: You, and other like-minded people, may have abandoned Science and Reason but I can assure you that many people have not.

[Gehrman]: Our evidence is both scientific and reasonable; the problem is that you haven't examined it. Your previous posts have indicated that fact. Ed

For years Ed Gehrman and others ignored the myriad flaws in the film. They went beyond just sitting on the fence about the "film" - they became proponents of its authenticity, and the authenticity of anything tied to it. In the process, they became increasingly critical of the vast majority of ufologists who had long since formed the opinion that the film was a hoax. Well, they must feel pretty silly today. At least I hope they do. There's nothing wrong with being wrong (Lord knows that I've been wrong before) - the problem comes when people like Ed go about promoting their pet cause or theory by tearing others down, often personally. When their pet cause or theory crumbles, these people, unlike those who were simply taken in but meant well (remember - everyone makes mistakes), can expect to take the fall too.

I once wrote to Ed, at Updates, that if the Alien Autopsy film was proved to be real, I would be the first person to offer a mea culpa. The exact quote, during an exchange where he was publicly trying to convince me to do a film on the subject, was [original here]: "If you prove Stan, and I, and so many others,wrong, I'll be the first to issue a public mea culpa, even as I try to explain to my fiance how my "unbelief" let another potential cash cow slip on by, and why we're "vacationing" at home, instead of San Francisco." One wonders whether Ed has a mea culpa up his sleeve.

Of course, in ufology, nothing is ever really dead - witness the fascination a small group still have for the Aztec con, or, even worse, Alternative 3, an admitted hoax. The Alien Autopsy hoax will no doubt similarly live on, with a very small core of true believers who will say something like, "the government got to Santilli".

Ignore them.

It's over.

It's been over ever since the "film" was released.

Paul Kimball