Sunday, March 21, 2010

The only "Abduction" book that's worth reading...

Or, as I wrote in The Alien Abduction Cult three years ago:
Kevin Randle, Russ Estes and William Cone got it right in The Abduction Enigma when they wrote, at p. 359:

"Here's what it all comes down to. There is not a single shred of physical evidence that alien abductions areaking place other than the tainted testimony of the abductees. The physical evidence to support the claims is nonexistent. What has been offered as proof has been eliminated through testing by objective scientists or additional research by unbiased investigators. The scars, the missing fetus, or the implants do not carry the proper medical documentation to make a strong case, and in fact, suggest something else altogether."

I'll go further than Randle, Estes and Cone, who confined their critique to stating that the abductionologists had simply not proven their case. In my view, this has become an Alien Abduction Cult (of personality), aided and abetted by some in ufology who should know better. The abductionologists themselves are beyond irresponsible - they are dangerous, causing real pain and suffering to people who in at least some cases no doubt need real help.

Perhaps it's high time that the proper authorities take a closer look, not at "alien abductions", but rather at those who claim to be investigating them, because, with one or two notable and courageous exceptions like Kevin, "ufology" has proven itself wholly unwilling to confront the creators and purveyors of the Alien Abduction Cult.

Meanwhile, the ultimate irony for anomalists is that, should there really be a paranormal element to a few of these "abduction" cases, the Alien Abduction Cult has so muddied the waters with their bunk that it will be almost impossible to ever chart a different course.
Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Cryptoterrestrials - A Review

When you exclude the peripherals, from the table of contents and acknowledgements, to the foreword and afterward written by Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop respectively, The Cryptoterrestrials, the final work by the late Mac Tonnies, comes in at a slim 98 pages. However, in a prime example of quality over quantity, Mac has left us with an impassioned and thought-provoking clarion call for a new way of thinking, not just about the UFO phenomenon or even the paranormal in general, but about ourselves.

The UFO phenomenon is the focus of The Cryptoterrestrials, at least on the surface. Mac takes direct aim from the beginning at the purveyors of ufological orthodoxy, namely those people who are convinced that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is the Extraterrestrial Fact (a subject I've written about here). He pulls no punches, skewering the majority of ufology both for their blind adherence to the ETH, and for their willing self-marginalization.

"The ufological 'community' suffers from creative anemia," he writes. "While its luminaries might noisily claim otherwise, ufology collectively wants to be marginal. With the lamentable exception of a few spokesman who feel the need to 'explain' the phenomenon's intricacies to a wary public (often in the guise of would-be political discourse), the ostensible UFO community remains afraid of stepping into the rude glow of widespread public attention. And it has a right to be afraid." (p. 25)

It's not that Mac rejected the ETH - indeed, in the book he writes that it remains a viable, if shopworn, hypothesis. What he rejected, and what people like Nick, Greg and I reject, are those who say that the ETH is the only answer, or even the best answer. After all, how can one say any hypothesis is the "best" hypothesis when faced with something as weird as the UFO phenomenon? With the ETFacters, it isn't a matter of science anymore, or logic, or following the evidence to where it leads - it's become all about the perpetuation of their belief system within an ever-shrinking community of flying saucer evangelicals. People like Stan Friedman have done more to undermine the cause of the ETH within the broader public than a hundred Seth Shostaks or James McGahas, not necessarily because they are wrong, but because they are so convinced that everyone else is wrong. Mac rejected, as Greg, Nick and I do, their intellectual rigidity, as well as their lack of any true sense of wonder, or appreciation for the mystery of it all.

If Friedman et al have spent the last few decades hunkered down in the ufological equivalent of an intellectual Jericho, then Mac is the guy standing at the walls with the trumpet, and The Cryptoterrestrials is the blast that should bring the whole decrepit edifice of certainty crumbling down. In his foreword, Nick compares Mac to the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, the brash and liberating antidote to what had become a stale status quo. It's a perfect metaphor, for there will indeed be more than a few people who read The Cryptoterrestrials and think Mac is the ufological version of the Anti-Christ. But if anything could use some anarchy, it's ufology.

In the end, however, it doesn't matter whether people within ufology "get" what Mac is saying, because he was aiming his sights a lot higher. Rather than just reinforce existing views, or rehash old ground, Mac takes the foundations that have been built by writers and researchers as diverse as Jacques Vallee, John Keel, Whitley Strieber and David Jacobs, and expands upon them, even as he points out the flaws in their theories. His goal is not to find a definitive answer, or to create an alternative orthodoxy, but rather to ask as many questions as he could, and try to come up with some ideas about where we may find the answers. He was a true revolutionary, a New Light for the paranormal.

So, what are the cryptoterrestrials? In Mac's hypothesis, they are a race of indigenous humanoids who share this planet with us. Technologically superior in many ways (but not, perhaps, all ways), they are on the decline, even as we continue to ascend - they are, if not a dying race, then one whose time has passed. And we are the noisy, and in many ways dangerous "new" kids on the block. Unlike Vallee or Keel, Mac does not sidestep the physical reality of the UFO phenomenon - in his hypothesis, they exist in this world, literally.

I interviewed Mac in Kansas City in 2006 about a number of subjects while filming Best Evidence, including the cryptoterrestrials.

Does the cryptoterrestrial hypothesis make any sense? Anyone who reads The Cryptoterrestrials will be hard pressed not to admit that it makes as much sense as any of the other theories on offer, and perhaps even more. What began as a thought experiment for Mac (I know, because I was there when he first started thinking about it seriously, on a trip to Los Angeles) became in the end a thorough review of the evidence and the literature, and some pretty grounded speculation about what it all points to. But it wasn't Mac's intention to write a definitive conclusion to the discussion about the UFO phenomenon, or the paranormal; rather, it was his intention to get that discussion started again, and to get people thinking, for the first time in a long time, about what really might be going on - including the possibility that we are being visited by beings from another world.
Unable to disprove a negative, I have no choice but to concede that some UFO encounters may originate in space. And it would be the height of arrogance to proclaim that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis and the Cryptoterrestrial Hypothesis are mutually exclusive. And of course, cryptoterrestrials don't preclude "inter-dimensional" travelers either. (p. 52)
What was important to Mac, at least at this stage, was to ask the correct questions, because only then might we be able to get back on the road to finding some answers, if not about the phenomenon itself, then about ourselves, and our almost symbiotic relationship to it. "If we're dealing with a truly alien intelligence," Mac concludes, "there's no promise that its thinking will be linear. Indeed, its inherent weirdness might serve as an appeal to an aspect of the psyche we've allowed to atrophy. It might be trying to rouse us from our stupor, in which case it's tempting to wonder if the supposed ETs are literally us in some arcane sense."

Earlier in this review, I called Mac the "New Light of the paranormal." Most readers won't understand the reference. Let me explain. In the late 18th century, in the Maritime colonies, religion was dominated by the Congregational Church, which maintained a rigid, Calvinist orthodoxy. In 1776 a young preacher, Henry Alline, began to travel amongst the communities of the colonies, talking about a better way - free will, an almost mystical view of faith, and a personal experiential relationship with the divine. Most important, he rejected all of the man-made conventions that he called "non-essentials," over which various denominations argued incessantly, as nothing but hindrances to the central message - the redeeming love of God. Like Mac, Alline died far too young (in 1784, at the age of 36). He was derided by the guardians of the old order, who called him the "ravager of churches," in much the same way as I suspect Mac will come to be viewed as the ravager of the ET orthodoxy. Finally, like Mac, he presented a simple, concise, and transformational message. He was a true "New Light" - and so was Mac, who insisted that we must not lose sight of the central message: that we are dealing with a non-human intelligence which remains a mystery. Amidst the noise, that is the signal.

In a world where hyperbole has become the lingua franca, The Cryptoterrestrials is that rare work which merits the appellation "a must read." It represents a true paradigm shift in our understanding of the mysteries of the paranormal. This is a book that deserves to be read and discussed far and wide, and which offers up an opportunity to revitalize the UFO subject, and make it relevant again - but only if we are courageous and intellectually honest enough to embrace it.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The 2009 Zorgy Awards

As the Academy Awards begin for the film industry out in Hollywood, the coveted Zorgy Awards will now be announced from Halifax, N.S., for 2009's best in the world of the paranormal, as voted by you, the Academy of Other Side of Truth readers.

Without further ado.

Top Paranormal Blog

Winner: Cryptomundo

1. Cryptomundo: 245 votes / 54%
2. UFO Mystic: 83 votes / 18%
3. Posthuman Blues: 61 votes / 13%
4. The UFO Iconoclasts: 20 votes / 4%
5. A Different Perspective: 13 votes / 3%
6. De Void: 12 votes / 3%
7. The Orange Orb: 9 votes / 2%
8. UFO Media Matters: 8 votes / 2%
9. Robert Barrow: 2 votes / 0 %
10. Strange State: 1 vote / 0%
454 total votes
Paul's pick: UFO Mystic

Top Paranormal News Service

Winner: The Daily Grail

1. The Daily Grail: 179 votes / 40%
2. The Anomalist: 142 votes / 32%
3. The Debris Field: 65 votes / 14%
4. Fortean Times: 38 votes / 8%
5. UFO Digest: 21 votes / 5%
6. Book of Thoth: 4 votes / 1%
449 total votes
Paul's pick: The Daily Grail

Top Paranormal Podcast

Winner: Binnall of America

1. Binnall of America: 319 votes / 31%
2. Paratopia: 306 votes / 30%
3. Dark Matters Radio: 251 votes / 24%
4. The Paracast: 79 votes / 8%
5. Dreamland: 18 votes / 2%
6. Skeptiko: 17 votes / 2 %
7. Radio Misterioso: 13 votes / 1%
8. The Kevin Smith Show: 12 votes / 1%
9. Black Vault Radio: 11 votes / 1%
10. Through the Keyhole: 3 votes / 0%
11. The Joiner Report: 1 vote / 0%
1,030 total votes
Paul's pick: The Paracast

Top Paranormal Television Show

Winner: UFO Hunters

1. UFO Hunters: 100 votes / 42%
2. Ghost Hunters: 67 votes / 28%
3. Paranormal State: 27 votes / 11%
4. Ghost Cases: 12 votes / 5%
5. Ghost Hunters International: 7 votes / 3%
Ghost Lab: 7 votes / 3%
7. Most Haunted: 6 votes / 3%
8. The Haunted: 4 votes / 2 %
The Othersiders: 4 votes / 2%
10. Rescue Mediums: 2 votes / 1 %
236 total votes
Paul's pick: Ghost Cases

Top Discussion Forum

Winner: Paratopia

1. Paratopia: 196 votes / 44%
2. The Paracast: 78 votes / 18%
3. Above Top Secret: 62 votes / 14%
4. The Bigfoot Forums: 42 votes / 9%
5. Book of Thoth: 22 votes / 5%
6. UFO Evolution: 16 votes / 4%
7. The Black Vault: 14 votes / 3%
8. Department 47: 5 votes / 1%
SyFy Forums - Ghost Hunters: 5 votes / 1 %
10. SyFy Forums - UFO Hunters: 4 votes / 1 %
444 total votes
Paul's pick: The Paracast

Top Paranormal Researcher

Winner: Loren Coleman

1. Loren Coleman: 275 votes / 43%
2. Mac Tonnies: 136 votes / 21%
3. Nick Redfern: 88 votes / 14%
4. Greg Bishop: 35 votes / 5%
5. Nick Pope: 29 votes / 4%
6. Anthony Bragalia: 24 votes / 4%
7. Kevin Randle: 19 votes / 3%
8. Christopher O'Brien: 16 votes / 2 %
Robert Hastings: 16 votes / 2%
10. Peter Robbins: 9 votes / 1%
647 total votes
Paul's pick: Mac Tonnies

Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks to all of the people who stopped by to vote.

A few quick observations:

1. Loren Coleman has to be the Barack Obama of the paranormal - the man knows how to rock the vote. I think his double win is also a reward for the good work he does, and a sign of the esteem in which he is held.

2. The top four vote getters in the Podcast category are all good shows, in my opinion - each brings something different to the table. I would also like to highlight Skeptiko, which didn't poll very well this year, but is a show that you should give a listen to, if you aren't already familiar with it.

3. The Daily Grail has won for the fourth year in a row, which is even more amazing given that Greg Taylor posted a note at that site this year asking people to vote for The Anomalist! Kudos to Greg and the Grail gang.

4. Also, kudos to my friend Tim Binnall, who had to fight off Paratopia and Dark Matters Radio this year, but managed to hold on and snag a fourth consecutive Podcast Zorgy for Binnall of America.

And now, for this year's Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame inductees, as chosen solely by Vice Admiral Zorgrot and I.

In the Hall of Fame, we are inducting the late Mac Tonnies (shown at left), the late Richard Hall, James W. Moseley and Jerome Clark.

In the Hall of Shame, we are inducting Silas Newton and Alfred Webre.

If you have to ask why with regards to our selections, then you just don't know us very well.

All the best for 2010, and see you again in a year's time.

Paul Kimball

137 years of Popular Science - free!

You can now access the entire archive of Popular Science for free!

You can search the archive here.

Try "UFO"!

Paul Kimball

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Cryptoterrestrials are coming!!

Mac's eagerly awaited final book, The Cryptoterrestrials, is now available.

I remember when he first started to think about putting his ideas with regards to indigenous humanoids into book form. He asked me what I thought (we were traveling in California at the time). I told him that I didn't really buy the hypothesis, but I would buy the book, and keep an open mind.

He smiled, and said he didn't really buy the hypothesis either - that was what believers did. He just wanted to start a discussion, bandy some interesting ideas about, look at things in a different way, and see where it went.

From author John Shirley:
"The Cryptoterrestrials is the most refreshing speculation on the paranormal I've seen in ages. The ideas in this book will be harvested by science-fiction writers and TV shows like Fringe for decades. Even skeptics will have a great time reading this well written book of wild conjecture. Mac Tonnies' final Fortean landmark is the Book of the Damned for the 21st century. Fans of the paranormal: be there or be square.”
Mac understood that it was the journey that mattered, not the destination. I look forward to taking one final trip with him and his cryptoterrestrial friends!

Paul Kimball