Wednesday, May 21, 2008

High Strangeness in Halifax - Retro UFO 3 clip

A clip from yours truly at Retro UF0 3, which was held in April 2008 at the Integratron in Landers, California. Here I recount the story of a UFO case investigated by the RCMP and later Canadian researcher Chris Styles that took place in Bedford, Nova Scotia.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cultural Bias and UFO reports

A short clip from my lecture at the Retro UFO 3 conference in April, 2008, wherein I discuss the cultural bias that can be found amongst the media and many ufologists when it comes to looking at UFO reports - this was in response to a question about sightings by Mexican Air Force personnel, and why they aren't given more attention.

Paul Kimball

The Condon Effect And The Need For Scientific Research Into The UFO Phenomenon

Yours truly talking about a brief conversation at a Christmas party I had with Geoff Regan, at the time a Canadian cabinet minister, and how I used the opportunity to talk to him about real UFO evidence, a few top cases, and the history of Canadian governmental interest in UFOs, and why it stopped in the late 1960s (what I call "The Condon Effect"). One note: the last question about UFOs asked in the House of Commons was in the 1970s, not the 1960s as I mistakenly stated at Retro UFO 3. Hey - nobody's perfect!

Expanding on the ending of my clip, the late Carl Sagan, who was a great communicator and in many ways a visionary, had it absolutely right in this clip when he talked about how scientific research should be viewed by the people who fund it.

I absolutely agree with Sagan, although like Dr. Peter Sturrock I would extend his wisdom beyond the parameters that Sagan set, to include further scientific research into the nature of the UFO phenomenon.

Paul Kimball

Modern UFO Cases and Historical Perspective

Yours truly from the Retro UFO 3 conference. Here I was answering a question as to why the Phoenix Lights case wasn't in my film Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings.

The answer is simple - of all the experts I polled, only one picked the case for his or her top 10 list, and even then it was at #10. The case just hasn't been around long enough to merit consideration as one of the best ever - a point I tried to drill home here when talking about the need for historical perspective.

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paul Kimball at Retro UFO 3 - The Condon Report

Yours truly answering a question about the Condon Report at Retro UFO 3 in April, 2008, at the Integratron in Landers, California.

More to come from the Q & A.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Science, the Supernatural and Elitism

Food for thought from Science and The Supernatural, written by Professor John Taylor (King's College, London) in 1980, who wrote that people who are interested in the supernatural / paranormal are simply looking for answers that speak to them at a level they can comprehend, as opposed to serious science, which is beyond most people:

He or she will be searching for an answer to the unspoken question as to why they are here and what it all means. But it has to be a loud and clear answer and one that is short and sharp. That is presently absent from the more serious literature.

The supernatural would seem to give such an answer, either from the spirits of those who have "passed on," from the mouths of alien beings, from those who have lived many times or from "psychics" who are prepared to jump where angels fear to tread.

The answer I give here now is short and sharp: the mystery of existence is not to be gained by searching for strange paranormal powers possessed by humans. It is to be gained by looking more closely at the beautiful edifice of science, to see how the whole of existence - both of ourselves (all living beings) and of the material world - is to be understood in a unified manner. We, as humans, are at one with the rest of existence. The basis of all is energy, in its various manifestations. The question now to be answered is why those manifestations of energy are there in the first place.
I'm a big believer in science, and the scientific method, and Taylor raises some valid points in his book, which is an interesting and thought-provoking read. For example, he writes about the "levelling" element amongst those who are inclined towards the paranormal and supernatural - the belief that everyone's opinion is equally valid, and the antipathy towards "elitism". Taylor writes:

It is relatively easy for the man in the street to comprehend writings of a pseudoscientific nature about the supernatural. This is because such books do not require any knowledge of the vast body of scientific thought in order to understand the,. Truly scientific works, on the other hand, sadly often fall short of comprehension for many potential readers...

A second reason is the great interest of the man in the street in powers which he thinks he may himself possess and be able to develop quite rapidly. Such magical powers have always appealed to those with limited opportunities for self-advancement.
The second point can be clearly seen in the history of experiential religious movements, or mass political movements, which have generally found their greatest number of adherents amongst the dispossessed and disenfranchised of society.

I am an elitist, a state of affairs for which I never offer an apology, because there is nothing wrong with elitism, when the term is properly understood and used. Some people's opinions are objectively worth more than others in areas where they have developed a level of expertise or knowledge - that's why we have doctors performing brain surgery, as opposed to truck drivers (similarly, within their field of expertise, a truck driver will trump a brain surgeon). It's why I don't write a blog about biology, a subject I have never taken a single course in, even while in high school, and about which I know no more than the average person in the street.

This is true of the UFO phenomenon as well, which has myriad self-proclaimed "researchers," but relatively few true experts qualified to offer an informed opinion about various aspects of the phenomenon. This applies, however, not just to the UFO believers, but also to most skeptics, to judge by their lack of familiarity with the actual evidence. That's the great thing about elitism - it is an equal opportunity discriminator.

Speaking of which, and as a bit of a rejoinder to Professor Taylor's true-blue faith in science, here is a final word from one of my favourite comedians, Patton Oswalt, who riffs, in response to developments in science that allowed a 63-year old woman to give birth, as follows:
Sometimes science is fucking wrong and gives us shit we don't need...they might as well go, 'Hey, we made cancer airborne and contagious! You're welcome! We're science: we're all about coulda, not shoulda.'
So - does Oswalt have a point?

You be the judge. Just make sure your opinion is an informed one.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Faith-based Ufology

Memo to: UFO believers and disbelievers
From: Paul Kimball
Re: UFOs and faith

Just a short excerpt from an article titled "The Air Force and the Scientific Community" written by that notorious "apologist ufologist" Dr. J. Allen Hynek for The Saturday Evening Post back on December 17, 1966:

The question of UFO's has developed into a battle of faiths. One side, which is dedicated to the Air Force position and backed up by the "scientific establishment," knows that UFO's do not exist; the other side knows that UFO's represent something completely new in human experience. And then we have the rest of the world, the great majority of people who, if they think about the subject at all, don't know what to think.

The question of whether or not UFO's exist should not be a battle of faiths. It must be a subject for calm, reasoned, scientific analysis.
What Hynek wrote forty-two years ago was correct then, and it remains correct now.

Paul Kimball

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Decline of Serious UFO Research

As of late, I have come in under fire by certain lonely killjoys on the Internet, who clearly have nothing better to do with their time (like actual research) for seemingly combining research into UFOs with having a good time (aka "partying"). Oh, how I wish all of the rumours about me were true. Alas, not so much... although I did have a fair number of Stella Artois at ye olde local watering hole last night.

What's even more laughable is that he accuses me of "womanizing", presumably because I've given young Brittany Babakioff an opportunity to meet people like Greg Bishop and Nick Redfern who work in a subject she's interested in, and I've helped open a few doors with people in the UFO community for her, i.e. Stuart Miller at Alien Worlds, and I will hopefully be employing her in a research capacity sooner rather than later for future film projects (she's that good, folks). Shame on me for trying to get young people, especially women, involved in UFO research. I should be tarred and feathered! As for the lonely killjoy, I would say that he should apologize to Brittany, but he's not the apologizing kind (just ask Alfred Lehmberg, whose music can be heard below)... and Brittany has no idea who he is anyway (which makes her a member of a very large group of people).

However, even if I was partying up a storm here, there and everywhere, I doubt that serious UFO research would crumble - even I don't have a big enough ego to think that what I do or don't do could have that kind of impact!

But the aforementioned lonely killjoy's posts aren't really about UFO research, serious or otherwise - rather, they are simply the same old trolling that he has indulged in, both within the UFO research community and in other areas, for years now. Don't be fooled into thinking he has the best interests of UFO research at heart... as always, it's all about him. Once you know that, however, you can have some fun with him, because his responses are always so predictable! As a British friend of mine says, like a toy robot, the lonely killjoy is easy to "wind up"... although like a toy robot, he never really does anything different, which means that after a while you get tired of him, and move on to something more interesting. Then one day you remember that you have this toy robot in your drawer, and that it might be fun to wind it up and watch it go again, at least for a little while, until it gets boring again (note: my apologies to all toy robots everywhere for making this analogy).

Mind you, there are party animals related to UFOs. For example...

Now, if you don't have a sense of humour, you probably won't find this clip funny. Too bad for you, because I think it's hilarious (hat tip to my uncle Hollis Kimball for the lead).

I just hope that by posting it I haven't destroyed serious UFO research. ;-)

Paul Kimball

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ufology and Perspective

Three years ago, a well-known ufologist sent me a de-classified Top Secret memo from 1947 that read as follows:

16 December 1947


Subject: Preparation Against a Sneak Attack

1. At the meeting of the War Council on 18 December the following decision was reached:

Secretary Forrestal appointed a committee consisting of Dr. Bush, Mr. Souers, and General Gruenther, with Dr. Bush as chairman, to examine this problem in all its facets, particularly its relation to civil defense. This committee is to render a report covering the best manner of handling these problems from an organizational standpoint.

2. Your committee will be considered a committee of the War Council, and his office is prepared to furnish such personnel, funds, and other forms of assistance as may be required in the prosecution of the committee's work. As in the case of all committees of the War Council, your committee will be authorized to call on all agencies under the Secretary of Defense for such assistance as the committee may from time to time require.

3. I recognize that the problem before your committee is a difficult one and that it will require some time for you to prepare any recommendations. At the same time, I would appreciate it if you would keep the War Council periodically advised as to the progress which is being made.

Special Assistant to the Secretary

Now, if you were to show this to anyone outside ufology even remotely familiar with the time period, they would no doubt tell you that the meeting was clearly designed to deal with a sneak attack from the Soviet Union, which is what all American defense planning was focused on in 1947, a very turbulent year at the beginning of the Cold War, where the risk of a "hot war" was very real indeed (see the Wikipedia entry for that period for a reasonably good summary of events).

The ufologist who sent this to me, however, saw it differently, as seen by the fact that he wrote "by whom?" in the margin next to the phrase "Preparation Against a Sneak Attack" - the implication being that the meeting may have been discussing a sneak attack by aliens, not the Soviets.

This... "interpretation" (to be kind) shows a complete lack of historical perspective and understanding. It also shows a ufologist who is sadly typical, particularly amongst the "Cosmic Watergate" group, i.e. one who is less concerned with logic, reason, and the truth, than he / she is about fitting everything into their very small "it's all about Roswell / ET / conspiracy" box. You can see the most recent manifestation of this way of "thinking" this week in Steven Bassett's paranoid ranting about how Google has censored his "open letter" to Senator Hillary Clinton (see here for the text of Bassett's press release).

This is what the ET / conspiracist types do - they filter everything through their own myopic world view. Unfortunately, this is the point of view that gets reported most often in the mainstream media, not because they are part of some over-arching conspiracy, but because the conspiracists themselves are the people amongst all UFO researchers who yell the loudest, and so therefore attract the most attention.

This is bad history, pure and simple - the kind that would get a person flunked out of a 1st year university course. But in the wacky world of ufology, it often passes as received wisdom from on high... which is a sad but telling state of affairs.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Retro UFO 3 - Recap

On April 26th and 27th Alien Worlds Magazine columnist Brittany Babakioff and I attended the Retro UFO 3 conference at the Integratron, in Landers, California, along with fellow cabal members Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop, and assorted other UFO and conspiracy authors and researchers, including Kenn Thomas and Adam Gorightly.

Conference organizer Barbara Harris put on a great show, and is to be commended for persevering even though pre-conference registrations were low. In the end, about 60 hardy souls braved the desert heat and made their way out for the two days of talks, screenings, and fun.

As with all UFO conferences, some of the presenters were on the wacky side, so I'll follow my dad's old dictum that if you can't say anything nice about anyone, best not to say anything at all. For my money, Retro UFO 3 was worth attending for the following reasons:

1. It was held at the Integratron, which is an important piece of not just ufological history but American cultural history - as a bonus, attendees could also venture out to Giant Rock, which is about 3 miles away, another landmark of ufological history, regardless of what one might think of the original Contactees, particularly George Van Tassel;

2. One had the chance to hear my good friends Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop deliver the kind of no-nonsense lectures that should be the rule, and not the exception, at UFO conferences.

Nick always gives an interesting and entertaining talk, and this time it was no different as he provided an informative overview of how and why the various intelligence agencies kept an eye on the leaders of the Contactee movement in the 1950s and 1960s (much of the lecture was based on material found in Nick's excellent book, On the Trail of the Saucer Spies). Nick also added a couple of interesting anecdotes about his own brushes with the intel agencies over the years, including Scotland Yard.

Nick is always hard to top, but at Retro UFO 3 it was Greg Bishop who gave the best lecture. As far as I'm concerned, Greg is the most underrated UFO researcher and author out there - he's thorough, knowledgeable, and thought-provoking, all while managing to avoid the petty infighting that sometimes distracts the rest of us. At Retro UFO 3 he provided the audience with a fascinating and eclectic overview of the alternate theories to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, from time travel to tulpas, and cryptoterrestrials to extradimensional beings, all while acknowledging the validity of the ETH as a hypothesis, but criticizing those who put it forward as an established and proven fact.

Other highlights of the conference were Ken Thomas' talk on legendary comic-book artist Jack Kirby's ties to the CIA and his role in the Iranian hostage crisis (Kenn's re-hash of the Maury Island hoax, in which he tried to tie it to the JFK assassination, would make a good Oliver Stone film, but stretched credibility beyond any reasonable breaking point, although it was well delivered), and a wild late-night show by Zamora the Torture King which featured fire-breathing and... well, what can only be described as self-torture, including a routine where Nick, Greg and Adam were conscripted from the audience to help Zamora (aka Tim Cridland) prove that mind really does trump matter where a bed of nails is concerned! Also, Nick Redfern demonstrated a real McGyver-like sense of ingenuity at the Friday evening party back at the motel where he managed to slice limes with a car key, and Brittany was 100% game when it came time to participate in the Tin Foil Hat contest on Sunday... as was a certain alien explorer named Zorgrot!

All in all, Retro UFO 3 was a smashing good time. Hopefully Barbara will hold a Retro UFO 4 next year, and hopefully more people will show up, because if you're even remotely interested in the UFO phenomenon, particularly the sociological and historical aspects, you should really try to make it out to the Integratron and Giant Rock at least once, and you should take every opportunity you can get to hear the likes of Nick and Greg speak, because they are among the best UFO researchers out there.

A final note - keep an eye on Brittany Babakioff, who impressed everyone at Retro UFO 3 with her energy, her enthusiasm, and most importantly her intelligent approach to the UFO phenomenon. If ufology is looking for the next wave, it starts with her.

Paul Kimball

P.S. Here are a few more pics from the conference!

Brit takes photos for Alien Worlds Magazine.

Nick takes photos for the CIA!

Kenn Thomas and Adam Gorightly discuss various conspiracies.

Inside the Integratron, where many of the lectures were held, and where Best Evidence was screened.

Nick Redfern and Adam Gorightly at the opening ceremony.

Yours truly at the opening ceremony.

Greg and Nick relaxing in the vendors tent.

Monday, May 05, 2008

UFO Celebrity Death Match - Results!

Here are the results from last night's UFO Celebrity Death Match extravaganza, which Greg Bishop and I called live for the UFO Radio Network, aka Radio Misterioso, which can be heard every Sunday evening from Midnight to 2 am AST on Kill Radio.

Match #1
Wild Bill Cooper vs. Marshall Applewhite: Cooper won this match, and the vacant World UFO Title belt, after Applewhite committed suicide just as the bout was about to start. Unfortunately, Cooper then opened fire on security personnel, and after a prolonged gun battle was killed. The Title belt was declared vacant again, and a series of elimination bouts ensued.

Elimination Bout #1
Nick Redfern vs. Mac Tonnies - Redfern won after he dragged Tonnies to a mosh pit and kicked his ass, punk rock style.

Elimination Bout #2
Art Bell vs. George Noory - Bell took this bout by default, as Noory couldn’t make it through the throng of angry Bell fans that had surrounded the arena.

Elimiation Bout #3
Bill Birnes vs. Stuart Miller - Birnes took this match of UFO-related magazine publishers. Despite the fact that Stuart was persistent, and kept getting up after being knocked down, Birnes just played dirtier and dirtier, until he finally managed to use a set of brass knuckles masquerading as reverse-engineered alien technology to knock Miller out.

Elimination Bout #4
Kevin Randle vs. Don Ecker - Randle took this prolonged battle of military vets, using some new weapons hidden at ringside that he had acquired while serving in Iraq.

Elimination Bout #5
Kal K. Korff vs. Michael Horn - This was a classic between two people who have no grasp on reality: Horn, the most ardent defender of the Billy Meier hoax, and Korff, the most ardent opponent (i.e. the only person who still cares). Korff ultimately used his size advantage (physical and ego) and some outside interference from his Israeli super-spy buddies to get the duke over Horn… who then proceeded to claim that his defeat was proof that the Meier case was real.

Elimination Bout #6
Tim Binnall vs. Jeremy Vaeni - Binnall took this return bout between podcast hots (Binnall torched Vaeni in the 2007 Zorgy Award voting) after an amusing battle that saw Binnall enlist the aid of some transvestites. After the battle, Vaeni retired to the nearest hot tub.

Elimination Bout #7
Stanton T. Friedman vs. Seth Shostak - The cagey veteran Friedman pinned Shostak, who came to the ring dressed as a Sleestak from Land of the Lost, after he polled the pro-Friedman crowd and obtained a 70% approval rating versus 30% for Shostak.

Elimination Bout #8
Steven Greer vs. Reality - This was perhaps the most exciting match of the night. Reality had a big advantage going in, but Greer slowly but surely undermined Reality at every turn, until Reality started to lose confidence in itself. It was at that point that Greer pulled out an alien baby, which used some strange foreign substance to stun Reality, which Greer followed with his patented “Disclosure Bomb” for the pin.

After this match, Greer easily defeated the other elimination bout winners in a battle royal, with Nick Redfern being the final contender to be eliminated over the top rope, to be declared the winner…

But then, just as he was about to accept the Title belt, Cooper and Applewhite returned as Zombies in an unholy alliance to challenge Greer to a handicapped match. Greer, perhaps cocky after his defeat of Reality, accepted, and the Zombies entered the ring. Greer immediately took both Zombies in his hands and lifted them over his head, in preparation for the delivery of The Disclosure Bomb. At this point, the Zombies Cooper and Applewhite revealed their devious plan - they had allowed Greer to lift them over his head, which positioned them perfectly to chomp into his BRAINS! As Greer spun them around, they struck… only to find that Greer had no BRAINS!!!

The stunned Zombies were then disposed of by the patented Disclosure Bomb, and Greer was declared undisputed Celebrity UFO Death Match world champion.

Paul Kimball