Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ufology - Onward and Upward

A. J. Gulyas is an interesting new-ish voice on the UFO scene. Here's an excerpt from his latest (the entire post can be found here):

I’m working up to something here–much of my reading and listening over the past six months or so has focused on the idea of “others” being here on Earth (extradimensional, cryptoterrestrial, whatever you want to call it). This isn’t a new idea in UFOlogy, but it’s one that hasn’t been talked about loudly or by the usual talking head subjects. I’m particularly fascinated by the idea that this could finally solve the mystery of the Contactees, which is the area where I’ve done most of my work.
Oddly enough, my thinking on this was sparked by some passages about Richard Shaver in, of all things, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers by the late, great, Gray Barker.

So anyway, I’m trying to put together some sort of narrative scenario, a story, which might tie these threads to the Contactees, as an intellectual exercise not a serious theory. There are deeper guys than I doing that right now (Mac Tonnies, for one). I find it interesting that even though there are a number of people who have thought and are thinking along these lines, the UFOlogical mainstream is still focused on the ETH with an almost frightening single-mindedness.
Frankly, the question of whether ufology should be looking for more cases, or trying to grapple more with the various theories, is an interesting one.

Of course new cases should be investigated (although there are still plenty of old cases, particularly in the Blue Book files, that have yet to be properly investigated). But there seems to be an assumption that anyone can adequately investigate cases, interview witnesses, compile data, and examine that data. In my view, that's just false. You need intelligent, properly trained and supervised people, working within a well-defined methodology (i.e. professionals), in order to accomplish anything meaningful. That just doesn't exist these days, in large part because there's no money for it.

How about the suggestion that a civilian group could somehow "track" UFOs using modern technology? Unless the effort has significant institutional funding, you can place it in the same category as the amateur investigation of cases noted above. After all, if the Air Force and civilian aviation can't get a bead on UFOs (and they can't), I doubt Joe and Jane are going to be able to do it. No matter how sophisticated their equipment is, it isn't as good as the stuff that the military is using, and has been using. The main benefit to this approach, as I see it, would not be in the actual results, but in the "gee whiz" factor, i.e. the use of technology, which might encourage younger people to take an interest in the subject. That might bear some long term fruit, but of a different sort than the proponents of this idea might intend. Still, there's no harm in trying.

It's not like there's nothing happening, after all. There's no shortage of footage and photos popping up that can be analyzed, given proper resources and knowledge. There are still plenty of witnesses who can be interviewed, and lots of old cases that can be investigated, or re-investigated. In short, there's still lots to do. But I think one has to realistic about the prospects of any success under the status quo, or even under some of the proposed alternatives. Above all else, any future investigation needs to be an organized, properly funded effort, if it is to accomplish anything meaningful.

In the meantime, there's already an impressive body of data extant that indicates UFOs are a real phenomenon. Perhaps the real work to be done is in further refining, and / or deconstructing, the various theories as to what UFOs (or UAP, as NARCAP would say) might be. That's something that would, I think, be more likely to engage the kind of bright young minds that ufology needs if it is ever to progress. Extra-dimensionals? Extra-terrestrials? Time-travelers? Unknown atmospheric phenomena? There's a reasonably good (at least in the theoretical sense) case to be made for all four. Cryptoterrestrials? Perhaps. We'll have to wait and see where Mac Tonnies (and others, probably), go with it, and how he uses the evidence to support his theory.

In this regard, let Stan Friedman retire the "Cosmic Watergate" lecture, and dust off the "flying saucers and physics" lecture. Here's how it starts (I've heard him give it): "UFOs are real. Some are alien spacecraft. I'm going to show you how that is possible." Then let the debate begin, as it did once at Acadia University, twenty years ago, when Stan mentioned flying saucers and physics as part of a more general lecture. In the Q & A session afterwards, a group of young science students challenged him afterwards on the accuracy of... well, his science. Stan, of course, responded, and there was, as I recall, an interesting, if all too brief, dialogue. Most of the budding young scientists seemed to leave unconvinced, but they also seemed genuinely interested, and intrigued, not by the talk of grand government cover-ups, but by the possibilities inherent in the UFO phenomenon - just as guys like A. J. Gulyas are today.

So, in conclusion - continued investigation? Absolutely, although it needs to be done in a more organized fashion, and more objectively, i.e. without any pre-conceived notions, if it is to offer anything of real use to the existing body of knowledge. However, the truly interesting stuff, more and more, is not about just the investigation of the phenomenon, but rather the questions of "what", and "how". .. and perhaps even "why".

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

UK Trip Photos, Vol. III

Here are some more train-related photos from the United Kingdom.

Here's Zorgrot on the train as we get ready to depart London (Euston station) for Manchester (Picadilly station).

While he obviously found trains to be primitive modes of transport, compared to his interstellar spacecraft (with transdimensional overdrive, no less), he was still impressed by the comfort, the fact that they pretty much ran on time, and the nice view out the window. He took a lot of notes as we zipped through middle England.

Here's a pic of platform number 10 at Manchester's Picadilly station, where we arrived from, and departed to, London (and Blackpool, when we took our day trip). Like all British train stations (at least the ones I was in), it was clean (except for the tracks themselves), well laid out, and easy to use.

The only down side? An incomprehensible lack of any trash cans. Instead, janitors / cleaners came by every now and then with moving trash bins and picked up the rubbish. Weird.

If you want to walk the UFO trail at Rendlesham, and you're headed up that way by train, Woodbridge, the nearest town, will be your stop. This is what the station looks like. The town itself is lovely - very charming, in a stereotypically English way.

Paul Kimball

Dumbing Down Docs - Who To Blame??

Author John Shirley on documentaries:

Incredibly Annoying, Insulting Documentary Editing

There's a trend to edit documentaries--even the more serious ones involving history and science--with editing tricks that “jolt“ the viewer with suddenly-sped-up motions, deliberately wrenching cuts, abrupt switches in camera viewpoint, spastic camera motion, etc etc etc, to try and give the film a “sexy“
high energy feeling. This is an expression of the film maker's assumption that you're stupid and lazy and you suffer from Attention Deficit. You don't have the attention span to watch a documentary that flows, that is rationally cut together. You need to be babied along, like someone snapping their fingers or
jingling keys to get an infant's attention. Ken Burns didn't have to do it, and his stuff is successful. No one has to do it. It's a degradation of the culture of documentary film making."

Mac Tonnies chimes in:

Anyone who's suffered through a typical UFO documentary (say, the ones on the Discovery Channel) will immediately know what Shirley's talking about. The rules seem to be:

1.) Assault the viewer with lots of randomly inserted stock footage from little-known 1950s sci-fi movies.

2.) Go for lots of "moody" lighting that makes speakers seem like they're tuning in from another dimension. This gives them a suitably "spaced out" appearance and helps ensure that they won't be taken seriously.

3.) Employ dumb sound effects. Whirring, beeping, humming. You know, "space" sounds!

4.) Show the archetypical "Gray" alien visage as often as
possible, regardless if the documentary is actually addressing aliens. Space exploration, extraterrestrial intelligence, UFOs -- it's all the same, so who cares?

There's some truth to this, no doubt , although there are notable exceptions (Burns is one, Errol Morris is another). Let me suggest a few reasons why, however - not all of which are the fault of the filmmaker, or the network that commissions the film:

1. Blame, to some degree, music videos, which changed the way people perceived not only music, but also television and film.

2. Blame the viewers as well - if filmmakers are insulting their intelligence, that's because these people want to be insulted, or can't tell the difference anymore.

3. Finally, blame the filmmakers and the networks, for taking the easy way out, instead of making challenging films (and I speak here about subjects other than just UFOs and the paranormal as well).

I liken a good documentary to good sex, where faster / quicker is not necessarily better.

A good documentary should have plenty of foreplay (what I like to call the "slow reveal"), some genuine suspense, and a narrative structure that actually tells a story, whenever possible.

As for stock footage, avoid it like the plague. I've never used a single second, and I wouldn't, unless the images were directly related to what was being talked about at the particular moment on the screen - for example, footage of an exploding A-bomb would be fine if you had Stan Friedman talking about aliens being in New Mexico in 1947 to monitor atomic tests, or something like that.

Finally, and this a factor overlooked, I think, by both Shirley and Tonnies, blame ever-decreasing budgets (largely the result of the proliferation of channels without a concomitant increase in the pool of potential advertisers). Travel is expensive. Paying crew is expensive (even my habitually underpaid gang of misfits). Stock footage, while it can sometimes be expensive to acquire (although not always), is usually a cheaper alternative, particularly compared to re-creations (if you want to do them well).

Anyway, things won't change much until people start demanding that they change, which I don't expect to happen anytime soon, at least not in the numbers required to make a difference. Vox populi rules, and, as with modern pop music (Britney Spears etc.), the public seems perfectly happy with the re-cycled, dumbed-down, Coles-notes version that they're getting.

Meanwhile, I'll keep trying to buck the trend, and - within the budgets I have to work with (note to the Canadian networks - I'm not complaining!!) - create films that inform and entertain at the same time.

Paul Kimball

UK Trip Photos, Vol. II

Here are some more pics from my recent trip to London.

This first one I call "Bad Parent". Here in Nova Scotia, smoking isn't outlawed (what you do in the privacy of your own home, or in the great outdoors, is your own business), but try lighting up in a public place (like, say, an airport), and you're asking for trouble, and a ticket. Proper thing, in my view. The British, alas, take a more "libertarian" view of smoking, to the point that the smoking section in bars and pubs is indistinguishable from the non-smoking section, and thus pretty much useless (here, our smoking rooms - or pre-cancer wards, as I call them - are well segregated and totally, hermetically, sealed). Anyway, the photo above is a shot from Gatwick International, up by the food court, of the "smoking enclosure", where addicts (sorry, smokers) wander in to light up one for the road (or several - some never seemed to leave). The little girl you see waiting just outside was told to hang there while Dad had three cigarettes inside (by the way, in case you're wondering, she was not with that lady and the baby to her immediate left - she was alone there). Boo, hiss!

I love train stations - always have, always will. For some reason, they seem much more civilized than airports, which might have something to do with the fact that I don't have to take half my clothes off to get on one, and I don't have to wait forever to retrieve my luggage. Further, a trip on a plane just seems to me to be a means of getting from Point A to Point B, but a trip on a train, well, that seems like an adventure. On a train, you're not soaring above the Earth like some sort of god - you're down here, passing by the countryside, stopping in at new places on your way (more places on some trains than others). It's similar to the difference between Interstates and older highways, or, in superhero terms, Batman (trains) and Superman (planes). Don't get me wrong - I like airplanes and Interstates (and Superman), especially for longer trips like those we have here in North America, because they're convenient. But sometimes it's nice to take the long way around, so to speak, and to see more of the real world. Anyway, this is a shot of Liverpool Street station, where we caught a train up to Woodbridge, near Rendlesham. It was the nicest of the big London stations I was in.

Paul Kimball

Veronica Reynolds UFO Fan Club - Vol. IV

Ahh, what the heck... one more VR photo, courtesy of Mac Tonnies, who took it on his cell phone at a hotel bar in Santa Ana back in May (Embassy Suites, I think), when the three of us went out for a few drinks, and wound up at an after-party for some wedding on the 6th floor. Mac and I got ditched by VR and wound up talking to some guy for two hours about comic-book heroes, all while he tried to demonstrate his black belt kung fu (or whatever) techniques on me. Unfortunately, he had been drinking heavily, so when he'd give me a chop (or whatever), despite his claims to be able to pull his punches... well, let's just say that I politely tried to keep him from demonstrating the "Iron Fist Killing Blow" on my throat!

It was an experience as surreal as any UFO sighting!!

Paul Kimball

Veronica Reynolds UFO Fan Club - Vol. III

It's been a while since the last instalment of the Veronica Reynolds UFO fan club, and I feel a bit guilty that I've been giving Amy all the publicity lately, so here is Vol. III of the VRUFOFC, especially for Mac Tonnies!

Veronica returns to Nova Scotia this weekend from her acting studies in Los Angeles (she's been at the Actor's Studio for a couple of months), where she got to meet, and hang out with, the likes of Al Pacino. Production is heating up in Halliwood for the summer, and I suspect that she's going to be in demand. Also, keep an eye out for her in the forthcoming Trailer Park Boys movie, due out sometime in the fall.

It'll be great to have VR back in town - assuming she'll still return my calls after her stint in La La Land!!

Paul Kimball

UK Trip Photos, Vol. I

Here are some pics from my trip to the United Kingdom from the 8th until the 15th of June.

This is one that I like to call "Photographing the Photographer" - Findlay Muir getting ready to take a shot out the window as we hurtled along on the incredibly convenient Gatwick Express, from London's Victoria Station direct to Gatwick airport (we North Americans could learn a lot about mass transit from the British).

In this one you can see what a three star hotel room looks like in London (the My Place Hotel). Plusses - only about 75 yards from Earl's Court underground station, nice neighbourhood with several places that had public internet access (something else we North Americans could learn from the British), friendly staff, well-maintained property, and a great price for being in central London (about $95 CAD per night). Minuses - no air conditioning (definitely something the British could learn from us), although you did get a fan, and the windows opened (but when it's 28 degrees centigrade, that doesn't help much), and a small bathroom... er, toilet (but, as it was "en suite", I'm not going to complain). All in all, a very good, if somewhat sweaty, experience.

Finally, here's Rear Admiral Zorgrot in Blackpool, a wonderful seaside city north of Manchester that resembles Atlantic City. Tons of fun, and kitsch, and a small diner that made a great meat and potatoes pie (I may be the only person in the world who thinks the British have the greatest cuisine ever). Zorgrot quite enjoyed the ocean breeze, which helped his hay fever... at least for a while.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Paul Kimball

Please Send Money!

Please send money - Linda and I are running low on cash, and she's been reduced to gathering pop cans and beer bottles for recycling!

Apparently I'm just not making enough money from exploiting the UFO community for my films. I must try harder to be evil - otherwise she and I will never be able to afford that vacation to Moncton!

Paul Kimball

A UFO Over Altrincham?

I'm finally one up on Stan Friedman, who has never seen a UFO.

Or am I?

While Nick Redfern and I were sitting with Stuart Miller on his back porch on the evening of Saturday, the 10th ofJune, waiting to do the Strange Days... Indeed show, at around 10 pm GMT we saw an unidentified flying object! I managed to grab a picture with my camera just before it disappeared.

Here is the photo I managed to take on my digital camera. This was definitely not an aircraft. Could it have been an extraterrestrial vehicle?

Opinion differed between the three of us. Stuart thought that it was an extradimensional manifestation of a paranormal intelligence... or something like that.

Nick was convinced that it was an illegal uber top secret British experiment using captured German soccer hooligans to test the effect of post-World Cup traumatic stress disorder on monkeys... or something like that.

I figured it was an atmospheric phenomena that had yet to be identified, or that we were simply misperceiving some natural phenomena, while at the same time not ruling out an ET spacecraft... hopefully one carrying beautiful Plejaren babes.

Of course, it was none of those things. It was, in fact, something pretty mundane. Kudos to the first person who correctly identifies the "object" (and no, Kyle, it wasn't a model train wheel covered with fluorescent paint).

Paul Kimball

Tonnies and the Crytpoterrestrials

Mac Tonnies is continuing to refine his cryptoterrestrial hypothesis over at his blog, Posthuman Blues. If you haven't been following along, you should. Here's an excerpt from the latest instalment:

If my hypothetical indigenous humanoids practice telepresence at the neurological level -- perhaps by manipulating the electromagnetic fields that constitute "consciousness" -- the implications are far more disturbing than one might think. The ability to transfer "souls" entails the possibility of "possession." It also allows for "Walk-Ins" and "Wanderers," New Age terms for alleged noncorporeal aliens who take command of human bodies. Taken to its logical extreme, "biological telepresence" offers an expansive -- if tentative -- explanation for myriad "occult" phenomena. It potentially explains why we seldom see the cryptoterrestrials in the flesh: If they've mastered the technique of projecting themselves into our world from the safety of their enclaves, they'd have little reason to "mingle" with us unless compelled by an important purpose."

A. J. Gulyas had this to say about Mac's theorizing:

This Cryptoterrestrial thing that Mac Tonnies is working on is really starting to take the form of something that will be spoken of in the same tones as the ETH, extradimensional hypothesis, etc. It ties into so many long-standing esoteric themes – contactees, Shaverian Devos, fair-folk, etc.– so
well. It’s very exciting, as good ideas often are."

The cryptoterrestrial idea is interesting... espeically as it ties together, as A. J. notes, many disparate elements (a unified-field theory for ufology in the making?? ). I'm an ETH guy (as far as theories go), but I'm willing to follow along, and watch as this new theory develops before our eyes. Let's see where it goes, and what evidence Mac musters to support it.

A. J. is a bright guy, too - check out his blog, which is listed on the sidebar (or you can link to it here).

Paul Kimball

Peter Gersten on Contemporary Ufology

Peter Gersten, one of the co-founders of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) back in the 1970s, had this to say at his website today. It's an in interesting perspective on the recent article "UFO Research: Findings vs. Facts" that I linked to here a couple of days ago. Peter states:

Reluctantly I have to agree with Robert Sheaffer when he states that UFO believers are convinced that the existence of UFOs will be revealed 'any day now'. But it's like Charlie Brown and the football: No matter how many times Lucy pulls the football away—or the promised 'disclosure' fails to happen—they're dead-certain that the next time will be their moment of glory. I know several UFO "experts" who still cling to this hope. I guess they have nothing better to do with their time than believe in a practical impossibility. But as long as there are people like Ted Roe - Executive Director of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP) - there is hope that scientific documentation - if not an absolute explanation - will one day be forthcoming about some of the UFOs that plague our skies. I have also read a recent commentary by a UFO extremist criticizing the below article for its many omissions while also alleging that is acting in support of the information embargo about an Extraterrestrial presence on Earth. Besides assuming something not based upon credible evidence (an ET presence) our UFO researcher destroys his own credibility with paranoid accusations which are far less believable than the article he attacks. Ufology is quickly becoming the new religion – with UFO researchers - who continue to espouse science fiction as fact – its disillusioned High Priests." [original

As I said, an interesting perspective, about an interesting article, from an interesting guy, who has walked the walk.

Paul Kimball

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rendlesham Case Solved?

Zorgrot and I at Rendlesham, United Kingdom. Zorgy swears he had nothing to do with the Rendlesham case (he was still at the Academy back in 1980) - he says it was a couple of frat boys on a university study mission from Zeta Reticuli Prime who got drunk and decided to buzz the natives.

Who knows?

Paul Kimball

The Other Side of... Karl Pflock (Part I)

Back in September, 2001 (just two days before 9/11), I had the opportunity to meet and interview Karl Pflock in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the film Stanton T. Friedman is Real (I also interviewed Kevin Randle for the first time that weekend). The interview with Karl lasted about three hours, of which maybe four or five minutes finally made its way into the film (that's how it goes). Here, in an ongoing series, is the entire interview - first up, Karl offers a bit of background on himself, and then talks about the state of ufology.

Paul Kimball

The Other Side of… Karl Pflock (Part 1)

Q. Name, rank and serial number.

A. I’m Karl Pflock. I’m an author and ufologist. I have been actively involved in and interested in UFOs literally since I was a child. I’ve done other things in my life as well. I was a senior congressional staffer for a number of years with Jack Kemp and another congressman named Ken Kramer. In fact, when I worked for Ken I was the guy who organized the first actual hearings on “Star Wars” – much to the chagrin of the Reagan administration. [laughs] We were supportive, but they didn’t want to come up there that soon. I was an intelligence officer with the CIA before that, back in the ‘60s. I went from Capitol Hill to the Reagan administration as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for operational tests and evaluations, where I had a title that goes even longer than that, and, since 1992, I have been a full-time freelance writer, in all sorts of things, not just ufology, but unfortunately a large chunk of my life over these past nine years has been Roswell.

Q. And you are involved with MUFON in some capacity, right?

A. I am a state section director, as they call it, for MUFON in New Mexico, which means that I have the responsibility for a couple of counties in New Mexico where nothing is happening at the moment, and hasn’t for a while.

Q. Now, you mentioned your work on Roswell as having taken up a large chunk of your life for almost a decade. That work has caused some people to call you a debunker. Perhaps you could talk a bit about your overall views on the UFO subject.

A. I would like to get on the record because I am continually being blackguarded as a debunker, and I’d like to make really clear where I stand on the subject of UFOs.

One of the things, I think, about me that confounds people on both sides, if you will, of the UFO belief divide, is that I am firmly convinced that UFOs are real, but I am a principal critic of the “holy grail” of modern ufology, which is Roswell. My views on UFOs are pretty straightforward – I believe that UFOs are real. That is, that they are “unidentified flying objects”. Some proportion of UFO sightings - that is those sightings which remain, after very careful investigation, still unknown – are examples of observation of craft, and in some instances beings, from another planet. I have a ‘50s-conditioned mind, and so I see them as far more likely to be visitors from an extra-solar planet than from an alternate universe or some of the other favourite ideas of the current age. So, yes, I’m a UFO believer., and a believer that we have, in fact, been visited, but my belief, if you want to call it that, is based on a body of data that we have on hand, and I think that it is the obligation of anyone who takes the subject seriously to think critically about the data, and to pursue the facts, wherever they might go. That’s what I’ve done, for example, with Roswell, much to my own disappointment, and much to the upset of a lot of my colleagues, and others interested in the subject.

Q. This is a good place, obviously, to talk about Roswell. Tell me about your book, your research, your journey, your conclusions, and why people like Kevin Randle and Stan Friedman don’t agree with you.

A. Roswell, of course, has become a case which everyone considers to be the defining case of contemporary ufology, and of course because of the fact that it offers the opportunity, or the prospect, of actual physical evidence, of proof of visitation, everyone is very excited about it, and has been for many years. So was I. That’s how I got into it. When I first took a look at the case, when I first read Kevin Randle’s and Don Schmitt’s book A UFO Crash at Roswell, and I had earlier read The Roswell Incident, which didn’t impress me very much, I thought, “gee, there’s been some very serious work done here that suggest that there’s something more to this incident than a weather balloon.” And so I got involved. I had hoped that my work would supplement, reinforce, help further prove the case that was being made by other researchers. I discovered, unfortunately, that it was quite the opposite. What I discovered was that there was a lot less to Roswell than meets the eye, and that most of the case that makes the Roswell case interesting is not a case at all. It’s a combination of hype, and wishful thinking, and fraudulent testimony, and expectations being self-fulfilled. So what I discovered was that Roswell indeed was a real “incident” – something very real happened, something real was recovered there, there was really a cover-up, but what was being covered up was not the crash and recovery of an alien spacecraft and the bodies of its crew, but rather a highly sensitive, highly classified project of the United States government. I spent a good eight years digging into this case in excruciating detail, and I have laid out in my book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, this whole odyssey, if you will, as well as the data and the evidence that backs up my conclusions. These were conclusions that I came to very reluctantly, because I wanted as much as anyone else to be able to say, “wow, here we have a crashed flying saucer, here’s the proof, and now there’s no longer any doubt that all the things that those of us who have been crazy enough to take this seriously for so many years really are true.” But, alas, that’s not the case.

Q. Can you talk a bit about “the will to believe”, what you mean by that, and how it impacts ufology, and Roswell?

A. It’s not by any accident that “the will to believe” is part of the subtitle of my book. What I mean by it is the desire for something to be true affecting one’s judgment and assessment of the facts before you. The poster on the wall in Fox Mulder’s office that says “I Want to Believe” is a representation of what happens to be a very real thing in ufology. People want very much to believe whatever it is that happens to be their interest – alien visitation, abductions, etcetera. Unfortunately what happens is this leads them to ignore facts which are inconvenient, that is, facts which are contrary to the things that they want to believe. Roswell is replete with this, as are so many other things in ufology. Abductions are another example of this. So, we have a real problem, especially since the field is not one which is self-policing in any kind of formal or semi-formal way like other disciplines are. It’s a field more dominated by enthusiasm and fannish-ness, if you will, rather than serious scientific or academic pursuit, like you would find in other fields where you have peer review and so on, where there is a formalized process. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are serious investigators, that there aren’t people who do really good work, in ufology, because there are, but this is embedded in this greater, larger matrix of belief and sort of pop culture that really causes a serious problem. And the problem is not only the will to believe – it’s also the will not to believe. You have the mirror-image on the so-called sceptic side, the CSICOP-ians, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. [laughs] Whew – a mouthful. [laughs] They start from the premise that “they can’t be, therefore they aren’t.” The true believers start from “they must be, therefore they are.” So, those of us who are slogging through all this, and trying to follow the facts wherever they lead, and sort out the truth involved, are caught between these two extremes, and unfortunately are often defined by them. As a result, it’s very hard to get people who are outside the field, and who have professional expertise and knowledge that could be brought to near in a very effective and constructive way, to get involved, because they don’t want to get caught in that bizarre definition problem either.

Q. What effect does the squabbling and the infighting between ufologists have, and what’s behind it?

A. Coupled with the problem of the true believer versus true unbeliever, you have within those camps, and across those camps, and all the way around, all of the various factions within ufology. You have a continuing problem of clashing egos, and a continual concern to try and build oneself up at the expense of others. The kind of thing that, quite frankly, you always find in areas of interest and study where there isn’t any kind of formalized discipline. You have people defining things themselves based on their particular interests. They have their own desires to be the big frog in the small pond. You get that kind of infighting that goes on, without any sort of real venue for refereeing it all. What happens is that it becomes the focus of interest, this infighting, at the expense of the study of the phenomenon. It’s a continuing problem. Sometimes it’s incredibly amusing, but most often it’s terribly frustrating for those of s who are trying to move forward with some kind of serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon.

Q. Have you experienced any of that yourself, especially with the publishing of your book?

A. The question of in-fighting and character assassination and all of the things that go on in the field is something that I experienced personally more times than I care to remember, and most recently with the publication of my book. I’ve really come under sever attack from some quarters, although I have to say that generally the reception has been very positive, even from the people who disagree with the conclusions that I arrived at, they’ve still had to say, “hey, this is an important contribution because it tells a lot of what we didn’t know, it puts things in context in a way that we didn’t know.” But in general I have been blackguarded by a lot of folks as… [pause]. Here’s the interesting things that makes me more of a bad guy than, say, a Phil Klass, who has always been defined as an infidel anyway. I’m looked at as something of a heretic because I am a “believer” who dares to stand up and say that the holy grail is not made of gold, that Roswell is just pot metal, and maybe barely that. And, so, I have really been attacked for having the gall to do that. Notably, and this has just amazed me, we have The International UFO Reporter, which is the magazine for the Center for UFO Studies, and in the current issue there’s a twelve page “review” by Robert Durant attacking my book and me. I have no problem with people going after me on matters of substance, or raising questions about my interpretation of the facts. That’s a collegial exchange of ideas, and a collegial, constructive “conflict”, of you want to call it that. But when you get into ad hominem attacks, like I was hit with in that particular review, and the kind of stuff that goes on in less formal venues, like on-line at things like UFO Updates, then it’s just a big disappointment, I guess. But I don’t want to make too much about the squabbling within ufology. I think it’s an important question, especially because ufology is a kind of fringe, or proto, science, or para-science, if you want to call it that. It hasn’t moved into even the level of acceptability of such dubious disciplines as sociology, for example. [laughs] So, probably this kind of thing is more harmful because you’re not an established discipline. But the truth is that if you take a look at the history of science, or if you take a look at the history of any established discipline in hard sciences or in the so-called soft sciences, you’ve got the same kind of clashed of personality, the attempts to undercut each other, and so on, that goes on in ufology, but it happens in the context, again, of an established discipline. So it’s moderated. Ufology is continually self-defining, and now with the Internet it’s gotten even crazier.

Q. You and Stan Friedman obviously disagree about Roswell. How has that played out, and how has it affected whatever relationship you have?

A. Stan and I have known each other for a little over nine years. We first met in Washington when he and Don Berliner were there to promote their book Crash at Corona. While we have clashed on issues, and while we have serious disagreements about Roswell, we have almost invariably been collegial about it. I like Stan very much as a person, and he seems to like me. We get along well, and so our disputes have been much more the sort of disputation that you would like to see in a real discipline pursuing the truth. We’ve also cooperated with each other, on Roswell specifically, and on some other things as well, but we have actually pursued some elements of the Roswell story together. We’ve dug out facts that have shown that certain witnesses, like Frankie Rowe for example, were not credible, so we have been able to work together on things where we can cooperate, and we have been able to disagree relatively cordially on most other issues. There have been very few places where we’ve gotten into the real knock-down, drag-out fights that have happened between Stan and other people in the field.

To be continued...

UFO / Para-science Conference in Halifax?

I've been hearing rumours for about a week now that some masochist is considering holding a UFO / para-science conference here in Halifax this fall, possibly in the first week of October. Those rumours indicate that Will Wise, Mac Tonnies, and Greg Bishop have tentatively agreed to speak, should the conference get the go-ahead. Other potential speakers are as yet unconfirmed, but some of the other names I've heard bandied about are just as interesting as the aforementioned group.

As I receive more information, I shall, of course, post it here.

Paul Kimball

Friday, June 23, 2006

FYI - Next interview

Just a note to keep an eye out here for future interviews with various figures in ufology - the benefit of having interviewed a lot of people at great length, the vast majority of the material never making it into a film.

Next up will be a multi-parter with the late Karl Pflock, from an interview I conducted with him on September 9, 2001 in Cedar Rapids while shooting Stanton T. Friedman is Real. Part One should be up by Sunday night, at the latest.

Someday, if I ever get the Redstar Films website back up and running, and if I ever figure out the technlogy that would allow me to podcast these things, or stream video, I'll stick the video / audio up on the net. For now, transcripts will have to suffice, as time consuming as they are for me to write out by hand.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Other Side of... Stuart Miller

When I was in the United Kingdom in early June, I had the chance to get to know Stuart Miller, the Publisher of the Zorgy Award-winning on-line ‘zine UFO Review. Stuart makes a great cup of tea (or sometimes a vat, if he’s using one of his super-sized cups), he probably knows more about motorcycles than anyone in ufology, he has a lovely family, a very friendly dog named Molly, and he enjoys his stogies. He is articulate, knowledgeable, and opinionated, which always makes for a good interview.

If I have a problem with Stuart, it’s that he's too modest (all of it genuine) about his own role in ufology. UFO Review is one of the best places to go for a comprehensive summary of the news of the day in the world of the paranormal, and his bi-monthly e-zine of the same name, which usually exceeds a hundred pages of content, is a must-read. His monthly UK reports on the Strange Days… Indeed radio show are always a good listen, and he’s to be commended for having the guts to put on a UFO conference at a time when attendance for conferences is down across the board. In short, he’s an important person within ufology, and makes, in his own way, a very significant and worthwhile contribution.

I sat down with him at his home near Altrincham (where my DOP Findlay Muir and I stayed for three days – did I mention Stuart was extremely generous, as well??), a camera, some videotape, his stogies, and Molly (his dog), for a chat about UFOs and ufology on Monday, June 12th, just before I left for London.

Paul Kimball

The Other Side of… Stuart Miller

Q. There often seems to be, if not quite a rift, then at least some significant differences, between British ufology and American ufology. Is that true, and, if so, what are those differences?

A. British ufology is very different than American ufology. We tend by nature to be a bit more sceptical. We shout less, I guess, to put it bluntly. There are considerably less abduction cases. There are considerably less cases to do with cryptozoology. There are certainly a large number of good sighting reports in the UK, and of course the UK is generally a very strange area. Beyond that – I always hate using this word, but I think what differences you might find between British ufology and American ufology come down to culture.

Q. Is Rendlesham the best UFO case in England’s history?

A. It is England’s best. After twenty-five years, every single kind of expert looking at it, the consensus still is something very weird happened there. That’s about as far as anybody can go. As to exactly what happened there, nobody knows. You get varying opinions, but really all the sceptical theories gradually been discounted over the years. The most common one was the lighthouse, that they mistook the lights for the lighthouse – that’s gone now. That’s it. Beyond that you can’t really say much more. I’m sure somebody knows, somewhere.

Q. What do you think it was?

A. I think there’s a chance that it fits into the general genre of the paranormal. Rendlesham itself has an extremely long history, going back hundreds of years, of strange, paranormal events in the forest. So, in 1980, you get what seems to be a UFO landing. Is there a higher intelligence that is presenting itself in a manner, in a style, in a fashion, which was acceptable to us in the 1980s, as it was then, or was it a nuts and bolts craft? It’s very difficult to say, one way or another. I think the history of the area is relevant, and pertinent – there is, as I say, a very long history of strange sightings in and around that area.

Q. Talk a bit about the various theories there are to explain the UFO phenomenon. What do you make of them?

A. I find that my opinions are like shifting sands – they seem to vary, not necessarily on a week to week basis, but they change. I’m quite influenced by what I read and what I hear. For some considerable time I’ve tended towards the Vallee-ian / Keel-ian philosophy, which is that it’s a paranormal event.

What I’d like it to be are humanoid beings of superior intelligence from another planet, not ultras. I’d like, ideally, the "space brothers" to be the reality.

My suspicion is that it’s paranormal. I’ve come to the conclusion over the last year or two years that it’s all roped together, that there is something happening out there – that ghosts, and fairies, and UFOs, are probably, in some way, linked together, and there is an intelligence that chooses to play with us, for whatever reason.

Q. Okay, so what about the Extraterrestrial hypothesis?

A. It is as perfectly a valid theory as anything else, and some might argue that it is the pre-eminent theory, based on evidence, and I would have no problem with that. It is the theory I would prefer of choice. It’s not the one that I necessarily think is the reality, but I have no problems with it. I respect it. Yes, obviously there are different shades of belief, some people take it to a point that is perhaps a bit unrealistic, or more unrealistic than anything else, but I’m perfectly comfortable with it, and would be very happy if we ever find that it was the solution to the problem.

Q. Where does that leave abductions?

A. Well, it’s now generally accepted folklore that there’s a strong chance that five hundred years ago when people were seeing fairies, and someone was taken off to see the fairie Queen, and was forced to have sex with here for two days, you can transfer that to modern-day abductions. Again, you come back to the same point – if there is a greater intelligence out there, an intangible thing, is it manifesting itself, is it presenting itself, in a culturally accepted manner to us in our present day and time?

Q. What about ufology? Where is it today, compared to where it’s been, and where do you see it heading in the future?

A. The obvious major difference between now and the "glory days" in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘ 70s and the ‘80s, is the Internet. It’s had a very profound effect on ufology, in the way the cases are investigated, and the way that the cases are reported. It’s made the subject much more available to the public. Is that a good thing, or is it a bad thing? I guess it’s got its pros and cons, but I would say on balance it’s a positive thing. In terms of how it’s going to go, it depends on the level of interest that’s maintained in the subject by people.

I think ufology today is less exciting than it was thirty years ago, but I think it’s more grounded and practical today. Thirty years ago, forty years ago, even twenty years ago, there was an element of excitement in it because the subject was of interest to intelligence agencies, and they injected an element of interest in it even if it was misdirection, misinformation, and so on. That seems to have departed the subject now, which might be a statement about the relevance of ufology as seen by various governments.

People obviously are still looking for answers, and the New Age movement has developed significantly as well, which many people see as detracting from ufology, or confusing the subject more.

I don’t know where it’s going to go. It’s vulnerable to external influences. If you get a TV program again that captures the public imagination like the X-Files did, or if there is some kind of major development, either negative or positive in relation to ufology, which will effect the general public’s interest, then suddenly there will be a groundswell of people coming in.

I think the background behind it has changed subtly as well. I think there is a more serious acceptance of ufology, or intelligent extraterrestrial life elsewhere. People tend to laugh less at ufology – if anything, ufology is becoming more serious, so the boundaries are getting blurred or fuzzy, but where it’s going to go, I have no instinct for that.

Q. Does science have a role to play in the study of the UFO phenomenon?

A. I have very, very mixed views about the relevance of science to ufology. On the one hand, if there is a belief that the answer lies in, for example, natural phenomena that we are currently unaware of or know very little about, then obviously science has a role there. If there is a belief that the answer to the problem lies in the paranormal, then science is wasting its time.

I personally have a lot of resentment towards the scientific community in terms of the way that ufology has been viewed, treated, dealt with, and there is a knee-jerk reaction on my part to say, "well, science hasn’t been truly bothered in the past, do we really need it, would we move on if science took a greater interest?"

We’ve just had the Condign Report with a scientific edge to it, and all that’s done is produce a host of laughs everywhere.

I think on balance I’d say, "yeah, let science get stuck in," because it would just keep those people within ufology that constantly go on about the relevance of science – it would finally shut them up, and I’d like to shut them up, frankly. [Laughs] I don’t believe the answer lies there, personally.

Q. You mentioned the Condign report. Do you think it was important, and, if so, how and why?

A. Yes, the Condign Report is very important, there’s no question about it, if only for the fact that a major Western government was prepared to spend, not a great deal of money but, nevertheless, a fair bit of money, on investigating the subject. In other words, in the mid to late 1990s the subject of ufology was still driving the Ministry of Defence absolutely bonkers, sufficiently enough for them to get off their backsides and do something about it.

The Report itself has one or two interesting insights into the way that the Ministry of Defence thinks about UFOs, and what little is given away about Russia and America in there as well is also interesting. The science, though, has been largely, profoundly, discounted.

Q. What about the reaction to the Condign Report within ufology?

A. Well, it has to be said there was a bit of panic at the thought of this report coming out amongst some people. A government investigation with the implication that because it was the government it had access to better facilities, etc., and that it might produce a non-ETH solution, I think did worry a lot of people. I think that ufology has taken it very much in its step and perhaps not actually given it enough credit, or the credit that it justifies. The fact that it’s been done by the British government doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact. Obviously, Condign wasn’t up to the standard of Condon or Blue Book, so I think people have largely written it off.

Q. One last question before the short-snapper, name-association round. You’ve applied the term "fascist" to some people in ufology. Why?

A. I first used the word "fascist" in relation to ufology because I came across somebody who wanted to dictate to the general public what they could or could not see by way of a ufological conference. This particular gentleman was profoundly against the theories and ideologies that were going to be presented at this conference, so much so that if he had the power he would have stopped the conference from going ahead, and I thought that was absolutely ridiculous. If we’re moving into that area then we might as well just pack up. It’s ridiculous, but that’s what happens in ufology, you know – people get themselves into certain positions, and, well, there’s an immense snobbery in ufology. It’s a killer, that. There’s so much condescension there, with people looking down on other people’s beliefs, and theories. As I said, it’s ridiculous.

It adds to the beauty of the subject, the fact that there is such an enormous variety of opinion and belief, for want of a better term. That irritates a lot of people who consider that it besmirches the name of ufology if you’ve got crackpot people with crackpot theories and so on, but the bottom line is that as nobody knows the answer, some of us could be in for a nasty surprise eventually if we discover the truth and find that the reality is… [he pauses]… vague. [Laughs]

Q. And now, drum roll please, the short snapper, name association game.

Stan Friedman.

A. The Godfather of ufology. Regardless of what you think of Stan’s philosophies, without him ufology would be a very, very different subject. I think you could say that he’s probably made the biggest contribution to the subject that anyone has made, more so than Jim McDonald, even.

Q. Errol Bruce-Knapp.

A. In his own way, has also made an extremely significant contribution to the subject, in providing an intelligent forum for intelligent people to discuss the subject. Take UFO Updates away and… well, I don’t want to imagine the concept of UFO Updates not being there. Again, ufology would be very, very different. There is nothing that comes anywhere close to it.

Q. Nick Pope.

A. Nick attracts a lot of criticism in the UK, and I can understand where a lot of that criticism comes from. I think some of it is based in jealousy, some of it is based on the belief that Nick has made, or supposedly made, grander claims for his role at the MOD than the reality seems to bear out. I think, actually, that he’s a very valuable asset to British ufology. There’s no question he is the "masthead" in the UK for the subject. He’s the go-to person that the media turn to straight away when they need somebody to speak about something. Does he represent it well? Yes. The guy is okay.

Q. Dick Hall.

A. Dick’s been there right from the start. I’m envious of him in many ways, because he experienced many of the major cases at the time they happened, and I would have loved to have done that. You stay in the subject for as long as Dick has, and your life begins to wind down, and it must be very frustrating not having an answer. After fifty years, I wonder how I’m going to feel should I be fortunate enough to get to Dick’s age if the situation then is at it is now, without knowing. He’s become a bit more cantankerous in his old age, and he can be difficult at times to communicate with, but he’s an individual who has made an immense contribution to the subject.

Q. Michael Salla.

A. I have a bit more time for Michael Salla than perhaps other people do. He’s actually given me an immense amount of amusement in the sense that he has, as far as I’m concerned, ably dealt with all the criticisms and brickbats that have come at him from very experienced ufologists. He’s just knocked them back, and frustrated them in the process, but I think he’s more than held his own. In terms of his philosophies, I’m not with him, no. I think there are too many weaknesses in the approach. I can understand why he goes in the direction that he goes in, however. He looks back at the historical record and says, "well, look, they’ve been doing it the ‘proper’ way for the last fifty years, sixty years, and where’s it got them? Nowhere. Let’s try it this way." That’s valid. It maybe doesn’t hold up to strong analytical investigation, but I can see the attraction of exopolitics, even if it doesn’t draw me in.

Q. Nick Redfern.

A. The most effective, productive researcher this country has produced – and very much a man of the people as well. He has a good common touch. I would put him at the top, although someone like Jenny Randles has been much more prolific, and Jenny did a great deal of very important work, for which she doesn’t get enough acclaim these days. But Nick basically got up off his backside and went out and found out answers. I would put Nick as the UK’s premier researcher.

Q. Andy Roberts.

A. Andy loves the subject, but not quite in the same way that you or I might. Andy is a good researcher, there’s no doubt about that. He doesn’t take criticism of the work that he’s done too well – in other words, when Andy presents something, as far as he’s concerned, that’s it. But, again, there’s no question he’s a major player within British ufology, and… [pauses, smiles] a strange guy.

Q. David Clarke.

A. I’d apply a lot of what I said about Andy Roberts to Dave, except that Dave isn’t a strange guy. A lot of people find Dave’s approach very dry, very sceptical. It could be argued that Dave takes a common sense approach to the subject, which of course is not a bad thing. I think he’s in a slightly difficult position in that if the answer is eventually exotic, he’s not going to be put out, he’ll go along with it, but it could sort of place the work he’s done in a slightly different context.

Q. Alfred Lehmberg.

A. I think the first word that comes to mind when you mention Alfred’s name is that Alfred is a "character", very, very much so. He adds to the grist of the subject merely by his presence. He makes a contribution in his own way. Entertaining, irritating, amusing. There’s something that Alfred has which I don’t think gets acknowledged very often – he does have a certain insight which is worth listening to.

Q. Stuart Miller.

A. [Long pause] Not a researcher. The contribution I feel I might be able to make is by way of a publication, a magazine. Particularly in the UK, now that we haven’t got one, I would like to be the person who re-starts that. I would do it differently to the way it was done before. I would give a much more open platform to a broader range of beliefs and philosophies than perhaps was done previously. In that sense, it’s a contribution. It’s not hard research... [pause] but it’s an avenue, and hopefully an element of entertainment for people.

IFOs Over Blackpool

I'm biased, because he's a good pal as well as a colleague (he's shot almost all of my films), but I think Findlay Muir is a great photographer, and I hope he exhibits his work sooner rather than later.

He took this photo of an RAF pigeon squadron attack (if you don't think pigeons are capable of a bombing run, you've never had your car "hit" by a flight of them) as he and I strolled along the promendade in Blackpool, England last week.

Memo to James Easton - these are not what Kenneth Arnold saw.

Paul Kimball

Regularly Scheduled Programming

Welcome back to regularly scheduled programming.

Apparently, the aliens have gone from Betty Hill to Jessica Alba. No knock on the late Mrs. Hill, but I would have to say that this is a definite upgrade by ET.

Sure beats the Heflin photos!

Paul Kimball

UFO Reflections - Gone, and then Back?

A clarification: in a comment at Kyle King's blog, UFO Reflections, James Smith noted this morning that Kyle's blog, UFO reflections, had disappeared from my "Reading List" on the right side of this blog. Smith wondered whether this had something to do with the fact that Kyle and I have a disagreement over the worth of his attempts to re-create the Heflin photos.

Alas, Occam's Razor applies, James - it was merely the result of my re-arranging the links on the sideboard, and inadvertently deleting Kyle's, along with a couple of others (UFO Planet was another). They're all back where they belong, because, disagreement or not, I still read Kyle's blog (I'm subscribed to it at Bloglines).

While I think he's off base with the Heflin stuff (particularly his comments with respect to Martin Shough and Ann Druffel), what would life be without a little disagreement every now and then? Kyle is entitled to his opinion, and who knows - if his re-creations yield useful data, and shed some new light on the Heflin case, contrary to my currently held views, I'll be the first to admit I was in error, and congratulate him. In the meantime, I'll continue to read his blog with interest - even when I don't agree with him.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Paul Kimball

UFO Research: Findings vs. Facts

Any article that quotes Kevin Randle, Seth Shostak, Bruce Maccabee, Robert Sheaffer, and NARCAP's Ted Roe is bound to be interesting. has one out today, titled UFO Research: Findings vs. Facts, that is definitely worth a read.

Here is what Kevin had to say:

"I would have to say that we're stuck in neutral," said Kevin Randle, a leading expert and writer on UFOs and is known as a dogged researcher of the phenomena. There's no real new research, he said, and that's "because we have to revisit the trash of the past."

Randle points to yesteryear stories, one stretching back in time to a supposed 1897 airship crash in Aurora, Texas, long proven to be a hoax by two con men—yet continues to surface in UFO circles.

Then there's the celebrated Thomas Mantell saga, a pilot that lost his life chasing a UFO in 1948. There are those that contend he was killed by a blue beam from a UFO, Randle said "even though we have known for years that the UFO was a balloon and he violated regulations by climbing above 14,000 feet without oxygen equipment. I mean, we know this, and yet there are those who believe that Mantell was killed by aliens."

Randle's advice is to the point: "We need to begin to apply rigorous standards of research … stop accepting what we wish to believe even when the evidence is poor, and begin thinking ahead."

Like I said, an interesting article.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Heflin Saga

There's been a lot of talk over at UFO Updates lately about the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) UFO photos taken by Rex Heflin four decades ago.

A re-examination of any evidence can be a useful exercise, particularly when there is newer, better, more advanced equipment which may be able to shed further light on the evidence - in this case, the Heflin photos. Often having a fresh set of "eyes" look at things can also help.

The problem is that the only useful exercise - re-examining the actual photos themselves, or top notch copies of them - is not in the cards at the moment, because the photos are held by researcher Ann Druffel, who refuses to let anyone look at them right now because she and some colleagues are in the midst of re-examining themselves.

As Druffel pointed out in a post to UFO Updates today, this is not as unreasonable as it sounds, as she and her team have a right to finish their work and publish first (a time-honoured tradition in science, by the way). Besides, it's not like we're talking about a cure for cancer here. The world will not come to a crashing end if folks have to wait a while to take a look at the Heflin photos and conduct their own independent analysis. Much of the carping about Druffel from some quarters frankly sounds pretty petty - patience, folks, is a virtue.

On the other hand, Druffel's statement that the originals, once her team is finished their work, will "be available to be viewed at my home" is not on, either. She wrote that she "promised Rex Heflin that I would preserve them for perpetuity for the use of the UFO community, so I could not let them out of my own archives, although they will be available for study, as Bob Wood says, under controlled conditions." Controlled conditions? As defined by whom? Druffel? That's hardly a recipe for an independent inquiry by someone else.

If she wants the photos preserved, then the proper thing is to turn them over to an independent institution upon the completion of her team's research, preferably one easily accessible to the public, like a university library, or perhaps the national archives. I'm sure there are libraries out there that would be happy to have the photos, could care for them better, and more securely, than Druffel - and would ensure that any researcher could have access to them without having to visit Druffel at her home, or obtain her permission.

Druffel has always struck me as a reasonable, fair-minded sort of person. Hopefully she'll do the right thing with the photos when her team is finished, and place them in the public domain.

In the meantime, researchers can speculate and hypothesize as much as they want. No harm there. With respect, however, I would suggest that anonymous posts and messages purporting to know the truth, or a portion of the truth, and attempts to recreate the photos, are of no evidential value. As Dick Hall and Martin Shough have noted, anonymous "testimony" is basically worthless in this case. So too are the attempts to re-create the photos, which are similarly of little evidential value.

At the end of the day, the question is not whether the Heflin photos could have been faked (I haven't heard anyone suggest that they could not have been faked), but rather whether they were faked. To answer that question, only an examination of the actual photos (or proper copies), and Rex Heflin's credibility, are relevant. The rest is sound and fury, signifying, more or less, nothing.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ufology's Generation NOW - #1, Nick Pope

Nick Pope is the most articulate spokesperson for the reality of the UFO phenomenon around today. Unlike some people, he isn't burdened by an affiliation with a particular theory - he is therefore well-positioned to make the case to the mainstream. Of all of the people I have interviewed about the UFO phenomenon, including Stan Friedman, Nick is the best at understanding how to make the case to the media, and through them the general public.

Is Nick the best researcher alive today? No, although sometimes his good work doesn't get enough credit.

But there are plenty of researchers around, some very good, many not so good. What ufology lacks is someone who can bring the good research to the public. That requires media savvy, and a certain presence. Nick has both - not to mention the experience and credibility that comes from his role within government. No, he wasn't the UK's "Fox Mulder", but he was posted to a division of the Ministry of Defence called Secretariat (Air Staff) from 1991 to 1994, where he was given the job of researching and investigating the UFO phenomenon. He has continued his research in the years since, even as he has moved on to other positions within the MOD.

Nick has written four books: Open Skies, Closed Minds details his official UFO work, while The Uninvited deals with alien abductions; Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning Strike are science fiction novels.

Nick isn't the most popular guy within ufology, especially in the United Kingdom, where some people seem to be a bit jealous of his success, and the fact that he is often the first person contacted by the media when the subject of UFOs pops up (Stan Friedman, the de facto public face of ufology for the past thirty years or so, has encountered similar criticism throughout his career). But so what? The number of people who actually care about what ufologists think about other ufologists can be counted in the hundreds (to be generous - I suspect it is really more like a few dozen). That kind of stuff doesn't matter to the general public.

What does matter is having a credible, telegenic, well-spoken person who can make the case for the objective reality of the UFO phenomenon, in a reasoned, sensible manner that is designed to bring people into the "conversation", as opposed to driving them away.

That guy, for the current generation, is Nick Pope, and it makes him #1 on my list, because what he brings to the table is what ufology needs most these days.

So, to recap...

#1 - Nick Pope
#2 - Nick Redfern
#3 - Mac Tonnies
#4 - Greg Bishop
#5 - John Greenewald, Jr.
#6 - Dr. David Clarke
#7 - William Wise
#8 - Joe McGonagle
#9 - Tim Binnall
#10 - Kyle King

I think the future of ufology is in pretty good hands.

Paul Kimball

Monday, June 19, 2006

X-Zone Radio Show Appearance

FYI - I'll be on the X-Zone radio show with Rob McConnell tonight at 11 pm EST. If you happen to be in Halifax, you can listen to the show live on 920 CJCH AM.

In a weird coincidence, Dave Sadler, who was one of the other speakers at Stuart Miller's UFO Review Conference back on June 10th, will also be on tonight's show. Dave gave a good presentation, and should be worth a listen tonight as well.

Paul Kimball

Friday, June 16, 2006

If you thought one Kimball was bad...

Looks like I've inspired my younger sibblings to enter the blogosphere. I'm sure Ma and Pa are thrilled!

Younger brother Jim at jimmy's world.

Younger sister Sharon (aka Kodiak) at Kodiak Speaks Her Mind (where you can also follow my career as a professional poker player).

Welcome aboard, kids - just watch out for that Lehmberg fellow.

Paul Kimball


I got back from a wonderful trip to the United Kingdom last night. We got lots of good footage for Best Evidence, it was nice to see Nick Redfern again, and it was great to meet Stuart Miller, Martin Beattie, and Nick Pope. I even managed to make an appearance, with Nick and Stuart, on Strange Days... Indeed, which you can listen to as a podcast here (it's the June 10th show).

While in the UK, I decided that I would finally get around to adding a new feature here at The Other Side of Truth - interviews with various figures in ufology. First up will be Stuart Miller, once I finish transcribing the interview sometime next week. In the meantime, here's a teaser:

"I'd like, ideally, the 'space brothers' theory to be the reality. My suspicion is that it's paranormal. I have come to the conclusion over the last year, two years, that it's all roped in together - that there's something happening out there, that ghosts and fairies and UFOs are probably, in some way, linked, and there is an intelligence that chooses to play with us, for whatever reason."

Stuart also talks about various figures within ufology, including Errol Bruce-Knapp, Nick Pope, Andy Roberts, Stan Friedman, and Alfred Lehmberg. It will be an interesting read, believe me!

Paul Kimball

Monday, June 12, 2006

Stuart Miller

As I sit typing this short missive on Stuart Miller's computer in his home near Altrincham in the United Kingdom, let me just say this - he's one hell of a good guy. I've enjoyed spending time with him and his family immensely (they were kind enough to put us up the last three days). Attendance at the Conference on Saturday was very low, but that had a lot to do with it being held at the same time as England's first World Cup match, I think. Still, Stuart worked hard to pull it together, put on an interesting, diverse line-up of speakers (well, except for yours truly), and didn't get discouraged by the poor turn-out. I hope he gives it another go next year - I'd be be glad to come back, even if I wasn't speaking (if nothing else, it would give me an excuse to visit Blackpool again - Findlay and I went yesterday, and it was a hoot!!).

Ufology needs more good guys like Stuart Miller. Thanks for everything, Stuart!

Paul Kimball
Deep in the heart of north-west England

Thursday, June 08, 2006

On Location in London

Just an FYI - I leave tonight for a week in the United Kingdom (London, Manchester, and several points in between), so I'm putting The Other Side of Truth on hiatus until my return - at which time I'll reveal #1 in Ufology's Generation NOW.

As always, feel free to persue the archives, or check out some of my favourite sites / blogs listed on the sidebar on the right.

Ahh... back in the United Kingdom for the first time since 1988.


Paul Kimball

P.S. If you happen to live in the UK, or will be in the Manchester area this Saturday, the 10th, stop by and check out Stuart Miller's UFO conference, where Nick Redfern and I will both be speaking. More info here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Karl Pflock Remembered

Kevin Randle, back safe and sound from his recent tour of duty, posted a nice message about Karl today at UFO Updates. Here is an excerpt (the full post can be seen here):

"I'm reminded too of a trip that he and I took in a limousine in LA nine years ago. We were going to do the Sci Fi Channel's SF Vortex and argue about Roswell and UFOs. Also in the car was Russ Estes and I realized that all three of us had been part of the intelligence community at some point. I wondered then what the conspiracy theorists would make of that... but now, two of those people are gone and given our ages, I wouldn't have expected it quite that quickly. Karl liked to twist the tail of those in the UFO community, and sometimes we need it. I believe he was honest in most of what hedid and said just as most of us are honest... I keep thinking of things to put here... things that many of us hold as self evident truths but that might not be quite as solid as we'd like them to be."

This reminds me of the first time I met both Kevin and Karl. Findlay Muir and I were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Kevin's hometown - to interview them both for Stanton T. Friedman is Real. The budget was a bit tight by that point, so we had asked Karl to fly up to Iowa rather than two of us fly down to New Mexico, which he readily agreed to do.

Anyway, we were set to interview them one after the other - Kevin first, and then Karl. As I usually do with interview subjects, I took them both out to eat beforehand (in this case, breakfast at what I think was a Village Inn next to the hotel we were staying in). We had a very nice chat, and it was great to watch the back and forth between two ufological veterans, about a myriad number of topics.

Finally, as the meal was winding down, Kevin asked if he and Karl could have some time together to chat before we got underway (they hadn't seen each other in a while). I said sure, because Findlay and I had to go back to the hotel to finalize the set-up (which took about half an hour, as I recall). They ordered a cup of coffee, I paid the bill, and then Findlay and I headed out.

Aware that both Karl and Kevin had backgrounds in the intelligence community, I turned to Findlay as we walked across the parking lot and joked, "Wouldn't I like to be a fly on the wall next to their table right now." Findlay and I had a good laugh, as we imagined what they might be talking about - perhaps some secret MJ-12 plot they were involved in... or perhaps whether they were getting their stories straight about Stan.

Speaking of MJ-12, when I interviewed Karl for the Do You Believe in Majic film, he somehow got a very important detail regarding Donald Menzel's supposed comment about the creatures not being from Mars completely wrong. As I had asked Karl the question twice, and he made the same mistake twice, I felt free to use it. In the film, it's definitely a moment where Stan scores one at Karl's expense (Stan went for the jugular).

After the film came out, I mailed a copy to Karl. He watched it, and said he quite liked it, but couldn't believe that he had made such a mistake regarding Menzel. I said he had made it twice, so I felt free to use the clip, as it wasn't just a one-time slip. Still, because I don't play "gotcha" when it comes to filmmaking, and because I liked and respected Karl, I apologized if it had embarrassed him in any way. He replied (I paraphrase), "Don't worry about it. I'm the guy who made the mistake. Not your fault at all."

Then he added, "Besides, on MJ-12 Stan needs all the help he can get."

Later in our correspondence, this time regarding Aztec, Karl noted that I had come around to his way of thinking. He then joked that I was becoming Anakin to his Darth.

At least I think he was joking! :-)

May the Force be with you, Karl, wherever your journey takes you.

Paul "Anakin" Kimball

Karl Pflock Passes Away

I just received very sad news from Brad Sparks that Karl Pflock, whom I was happy to count as friend these past couple of years (I first interviewed him back in September, 2001), and whom I respected greatly, passed away at 3:16 P.M.Mountain Time on June 5, 2006, at his home in Placitas, New Mexico. As most know, Karl had been battling ALS.

This is a great loss for ufology, and for those who knew Karl.

My most heartfelt and sincere condolences to his family.

Rest in peace, Karl.

Paul Kimball

Kimball, Tonnies & Bishop - LIVE (sort of)...

Greg Bishop has got the interview that he did with Mac Tonnies and yours truly a couple of weeks ago on Radio Misterioso up and on line. You can listen to it here - it's in two parts, and goes for about 2 1/2 hours.

It's a no-holds barred, wide-ranging discussion about all sorts of things, most of which are at least tangentially related to UFOs.

An example of my take on things, while Greg and I discussed the prospect of better, more serious UFO conferences (and, by implication, a better, more serious, ufology):

"If you build it, they will come. The problem is that ufology hasn't built it. They've spent all their time instead of trying to get to the major leagues being satisfied with hitting five hundred home runs in double-A ball. It's the Crash Davis kind of thing, where you're still playing in the minor leagues and meanwhile SETI is up in the majors hitting home runs. Whether you like SETI or not, they're playing in the big leagues."

Paul Kimball

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ufology's Generation NOW - #2, Nick Redfern

If Mac Tonnies is the Morrissey of the UFO world - i.e. smooth, melodic, a bit angsty, philosophical - then Nick Redfern is ufology's Johnny Ramone, brash, three chords and a guitar, take-no-prisoners, and in your face. He's not afraid to take pot shots at ufology's sacred cows (even the mutilated ones), to challenge dogma and the "establishment", and to encourage people to think for themselves, even if that means picking apart his own theories.

Still only 40 years old, Nick has more books in print, makes more conference appearances, and has done more actual research over the past decade or so, than most people in the field - including many of the "icons". He's a regular in film and television documentaries (he's been in three of mine, and will be in another one upcoming), and edits Phenomena Magazine. In short, he's a busy guy!

Not everyone agrees with the conclusions that Nick draws, of course - I certainly didn't when it came to his controversial book Body Snatchers in the Desert, released in 2005 (although for reasons different than some of the "Roswell as ET" supporters - more than a few of whom pounded the book, and Nick, without actually having read it). That's fine with Nick. He respects constructive criticism, and has the intellectual integrity to admit when he's wrong, or when he doesn't have all of the the answers; on the other hand, he has little use for belief masquerading as objective thinking. Proper thing.

As noted above, Nick is a prolific author - his books include A Covert Agenda: The British Government's UFO Top Secrets Exposed, Cosmic Crashes: The Incredible Story of the UFO's That Fell to Earth, Strange Secrets: Real Government Files on the Unkown (written with Andy Roberts), The FBI Files: The FBI's UFO Top Secrets Exposed, Three Men Seeking Monsters (my favourite), Body Snatchers in the Desert, and his latest, On the Trail of the Saucer Spies - but he's also a hard-working researcher, chasing down leads, and rooting through reams of documents.

Nick doesn't just talk the talk - he walks the walk. He has lots of good work left in him, both in ufology and in other paranormal fields (cryptozoology, for one). He's inquisitive by nature, and that will keep him on the trail of the truth for many years to come - a good thing for ufology and ufologists, even though they might not always realize it.

Paul Kimball

Greg Bishop - Surf... or turf?

It seems that, when it comes to surf vs. turf, Greg is definitely "surf"!

Of course, when in Nova Scotia, all visitors seem to feel obliged to try some crustacean. Go figure - I can't stand the little bastards. Yech!

The photo is from Greg's visit here in April to be interviewed for Fields of Fear - I took him down to Peggy's Cove, where we took in an absolutely stunning sunset and sampled the fare at the Sou'Wester Restaurant - he had the lobster, while I had the fish and chips. In both cases, they were as fresh as can be, having just been pulled off the boats.

Paul Kimball

Magick Mind Radio Appearance

As an FYI, I'll be appearing on the Magick Mind radio program this coming Wednesday, the 7th of June, from 4 to 6 pm EST. You can listen here.

I think I'm supposed to be talking about the Fields of Fear documentary, but who knows where it will go - maybe I'll just wax nostalgic about my time in the Malibu area, and cruising up and down the Pacific Coast Highway a couple of weeks ago (photo above)?

Paul Kimball

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ufology's Generation NOW - #3, Mac Tonnies

What can one say about author / researcher / esoteric theorist Mac Tonnies, only 30 years old and already a well-known and highly respected personage in the paranormal community?

Exactly what I said when I sent him a comment to use on his blog, the always interesting, thought-provoking and well-written Posthuman Blues:

"Posthuman Blues is one of the few blogs I read everyday, without fail. In a world where any idiot with a computer can make his views known, Mac Tonnies is a welcome rarity -- someone who actually has something intelligent and thought-provoking to say, and who knows how to say it -- with wit, verve, and a wry sense of humour. His style and work would translate well to the world of film and television, and I look forward to having the opportunity of working with him sometime in the future!"

Mac is a healthy agnostic with an open mind, an inquisitive nature, and a willingness to consider all of the possibilities (including some that he cooks up himself) - in short, just the kind of person ufology needs, and someone who should be making regular appearances on shows like Coast to Coast, at UFO conferences, and in the mainstream media. He has the potential to be ufology's great popularizer in the 21st century.

To paraphrase an 80's pop song, his future is so bright, he really should be wearing shades!

Paul Kimball

Ufology's Generation NOW - #4, Greg Bishop

Greg Bishop has been around the "UFO scene" for quite a while now, but it's only in the past few years that he has really stepped out into the limelight.

His book, Project Beta, was the best UFO-related book in 2005, bar none. The fact that most ufologists ignored it said more about them, and their singular unwillingness to confront some of the harsh truths contained within the book, than it did about Greg or the quality of his research / writing. (By the way, his new book, Weird California, while not about ufology, is definitely worth a look).

At his website, The Excluded Middle, Greg describes himself as follows:

"Author of the new book Project Beta, Los Angeles Radio Host, Excluded Middle Magazine Editor, Project Censored Award Winner, Conspiracy Zone contributor, Regional Representative for the Centre for Fortean Zoology, Author of Numerous Magazine Articles, Professional Judge Ito Impersonator, and ... Kook."

I would add - "Greg Bishop is a reasoned, and reasonable, researcher into the paranormal, and a no-holds-barred commentator on all things strange. He does his work with a sense of humour, and a realization that we don't know all of the answers - which means the frequently tough questions he asks are definitely worth asking."

Ufology could use a few more guys like Greg Bishop - articulate, impassioned, free-thinking, and hard-working, he's one of the best there is currently working the "excluded middle", which Greg describes thusly:

"Still wondering what "excluded middle" means? Consider the language of computers--binary--meaning on or off. Real humans must learn to reject the dichotomous, Aristotelian thought of the last 2000 years as apocryphal, and reconsider it as the only way of reaching solutions. The political posturing prevalent in this country illustrates this only too well. We don't have to be milquetoasts just because we listen past our personal shells. It's a razor's edge to walk, but it's all too easy and unprofitable to cling to old paradigms. The Excluded Middle bridges the on/off yes/no believe/don't believe chasm."


Paul Kimball

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Famous Last Words

It's either this, or "whoops!"

Paul Kimball

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"What we know is not much. What we don't know is enormous."

Friday, June 02, 2006

The June Poll

Dr. Steven Greer is on Coast to Coast as I type this. It has inspired this month's poll:

Dr. Steven Greer is a...
Raving loon
Disinformation agent
Honest searcher for the truth
Snake-oil salesman
Free polls from

Paul Kimball

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ufology's Generation NOW - #5, John Greenewald, Jr.

John Greenewald Jr., only 25 years old, is well on his way to becoming the master of all paranormal media. His output has been prodigious in a relatively short period of time (although Greenewald started in his mid-teens). He's a regular on the UFO conference circuit, his website
The Black Vault
contains the largest on-line collection of de-classified United States government documents (over 400,000, and growing), and has over 30,000 registered users, 15,000 articles to read, and 400,000 message forum posts. If that wasn't enough, Greenewald has broadened his horizons to include myriad aspects of the paranormal, and other subjects, as he has moved into the world of film and television. He has started a Black Vault Encyclopedia project, which promses to be a sort of Wikipedia for the paranormal.


The one area where Greenewald has yet to really assert himself is in analysis, and interpretation, of the data that he has collected, but that may come with time. Regardless, Greenewald has accomplished a great deal so far, and is well postioned to do even more in the future.

Paul Kimball


In case you wonder why I have Will on my top 10 list of Ufology's Generation NOW, here's why:

"First of all, let me say thanks to Paul for including my name in his top-ten list of Ufology's Generation NOW and for his kind words and vote of confidence!

Unfortunately, although Paul has yet to reveal his full list of young(ish) Ufologers I fear that none of those on it, myself included, have it in us to bring this issue far enough forward to get science to seriously consider researching the phenomenon. Realistically, we can probably help preserve the body of reliable knowledge that has been accumulated thus far and perhaps even make some modest progress by adding to it. Considering that even a relatively well funded and reasonable project like SETI, staffed by a good number of level-headed PhDs, is often accused of being quasi-religious and engaged in fringe science I doubt we will see any great change in official or academic attitudes toward UFO research barring another significant wave of well publicized sightings.

Perhaps our best hope is that by preserving the history of the phenomenon, and ultimately providing a cogent and readily digestible analysis of it, we will help those in the future who are in a position to make a difference avoid the stumbling blocks that served to stymie serious efforts to study the phenomenon in the past."

It's cogent analysis and clear thinking like this that makes him one of the Generation NOW guys!

Well said, Will.

Paul Kimball

May Poll Results

I had a nice chat with Jim Moseley today, the first time I've actually spoken to him, although we have corresponded a fair bit over the past few months. I had the pleasure of reporting to him the results of the May poll here at the Other Side of Truth, which asked the question "which UFO publication is the best?"

The winner?

Moseley's Saucer Smear!

The final tally was:

Saucer Smear - 44 votes (36.4%)

MUFON Journal - 29 votes (23.9%)

UFO Magazine (USA) - 27 votes (22.3%)

International UFO Reporter - 11 votes (9.1%)

Other - 10 votes (8.3%)

I have to admit that I'm surprised that the IUFOR did so poorly, but I'm pleasantly suprised that Saucer Smear did so well.

Congrats, Jim - you're #1 at the Other Side of Truth! Long may you reign!!

Paul Kimball