Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dr. Benson Saler - Roswell and the Making of a Modern Myth, Part III

The final installment of my 2001 interview with Brandeis University anthropologist Dr. Benson Saler. In this part, we discuss the Roswell myth as a cultural phenomenon, and also the role that conspiracies play in contemporary society.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dr. Benson Saler - Roswell and the Making of a Modern Myth, Part II

In part 2 of the interview I conducted in 2001 with Brandeis University anthropologist Dr. Benson Saler, co-author of UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth, we examine the Roswell incident as a modern myth, how conspiracy theory plays into it (and what it says about us), and how in many respects the belief in Roswell as an ET event (and, I might add, the disbelief of the Roswell “atheists”) mirrors religion. All this, and I make a comment or two about the new mythmakers of Roswell, such as Anthony Bragalia, and what their efforts portend for the future of the Roswell myth.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dr. Benson Saler - Roswell and the making of a modern myth, Part I

Today's offering at the Other Side of Truth podcast is part 1 of an interview I conducted in 2001 with Brandeis University anthropologist Dr. Benson Saler, co-author of UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth, we examine the Roswell incident as a modern myth, and researchers such as Stanton Friedman and Kevin Randle as myth-makers.

Paul Kimball

Ghost Cases - conclusions

Ghost Cases wrapped up a few months ago, and I won't be doing another season (moving on to new projects). That doesn't mean that I won't continue to investigate reports of hauntings as the opportunity presents itself - it just means that I won't be doing it on television.

So, what conclusions have I come to after a season of "hunting" ghosts at thirteen supposedly haunted locations ?

First, I'm firmly convinced that after careful investigation the vast majority of ghost stories can be explained without reference to anything paranormal. Coincidences, tricks of light, fear, environmental stimuli – all can play a part in creating the appearance of something otherworldly.

There is also an element of wish fulfilment – for a variety of reasons, many people want to believe in the paranormal, including ghosts, and as a result they often find what they are looking for, usually by interpreting information to fit their own pre-conceived conclusions.

However, as with most things allegedly paranormal, there are some cases which seem to defy easy explanation. As I see it, there are two possible explanations for this.

The first is that the investigation may have been flawed, or incomplete, so that a non-paranormal answer is available, but just hasn’t been found yet.

The second is that there really is something paranormal happening.

Now, whether that means it’s the dead speaking to us from beyond the grave, or whether it perhaps represents some sort of natural phenomenon that our science doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain yet, I don’t know.

But we should always be conscious of the fact that there are a great many things about our universe, and ourselves, that we haven’t even begun to understand yet. To close ourselves off to the possibility that there might be more to heaven and earth than our current science can explain would be foolish, and… unscientific.

In other words, my conclusion about ghosts coming out of Ghost Cases is the same as it was going in, and can best be summed up by the motto I apply to all things, whether normal or paranormal:

Don’t believe.

Don’t disbelieve.


Paul Kimball

The Case of the Haunted Cell

Ghost cases that rely on single witness testimony are a dime a dozen. Without corroboration of some sort, as any good lawyer will tell you, it’s hard to prove that something anomalous might have happened. At the old jail in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, in February, 2009, Holly and I had the kind of encounter that every ghost investigator is looking for, where you have more than one witness both experiencing something at the same time, and that experience is backed up by independent “hard” data.

Sergeant Tom Hutchings was a 21 year old Royal Air Force armourer who was convicted and hanged for the brutal rape and murder of a local girl, Bernice Connors, who was just 19 years old, while he was stationed near St. Andrew’s in the Second World War. Hutchings, who was the last person hanged in Charlotte County, spent his final days in a small, dark, cold cell in the jail, within earshot of where his executioners constructed the gallows.

By all accounts, Hutchings was a model prisoner in his final days, passing the time quietly. He made his way to the gallows without a struggle, and had nothing to say by way of a final statement. Unfortunately for him, however, the gallows had not been built correctly. Instead of the quick death that he might have been expecting, it took Hutchings eighteen minutes to be pronounced dead, a hard way to go, even for someone who deserved it. Ever since, people had reported strange occurrences in the jail, and in his cell in particular, which led to speculation that the gruesome nature of his death had somehow trapped Hucthings’ soul in this spot, destined to haunt it for all eternity.

Given the circumstances, it seemed to me that his old jail cell would be an obvious spot to try and make contact with Hutchings, although in hindsight I have to wonder what I was thinking. Making contact with benign spirits is one thing, but should a person really be trying to meet the spirit of an executed murderer who might still hold a grudge?

Just for good measure, and on the theory of “in for a penny, in for a pound,” I came up with the bright idea of trying to antagonizing the spirit of Tom Hutchings by bringing along a noose on display at the jail as a trigger item. For a laugh, as much to amuse Holly as anything else, I placed the noose around my neck as we were locked in the dark cell by the crew. Holly and I sat next to each other on the remains of Hutchings’ old bunk, with an EMF meter beside Holly, but out of my sight, and we waited to see what would happen.

After almost thirty minutes Holly and I had not experienced anything other than the winter cold and some pleasant conversation. It was at this point that I decided to turn off the low-level camera light we had set up in one corner of the cramped cell. I thought that perhaps this would encourage Hutchings to come out and say hello. I took the noose off of my neck, and plunged us into almost total darkness, with only the barest, almost imperceptible hint of moonlight coming through the slit of a window in the wall of the cell. Little did I realize what I was getting Holly and I into.

Within minutes, something happened. I felt Holly shudder beside me, and then she exclaimed, “oh f-ck.” Now, Holly is about as level-headed as they come, and doesn’t frighten easily, so for her to utter a profanity out of the blue was an indication of just how shaken she had been by what she had just seen – a feeling of something moving in front of us. My response to her was, “that’s weird,” by which she thought I was responding to what she had experienced, but I wasn’t. Instead, while she was sensing something in front of us, I had felt a tightness wrap around my throat. I turned to Holly and said, “I was sitting here and all of a sudden I felt this cold go around my throat, like colder than the cold, the freezing bitter cold that it is in here anyway. I haven’t felt that since I was in here, and it went right around my throat.”

Holly and I had both experienced something at the same time. That was interesting enough, and a step beyond a single witness account in terms of reliability. What made it even creepier, however, was the fact, unknown to me until she told me, that Holly had glanced at the EMF meter at her side as soon as she sensed the “presence” in front of us, and it was spiking above the baseline readings that she had taken when she first entered the cell.

A presence in front of us, at the same time as I felt a deathly cold wrap around my throat, at the same time as the EMF meter spiked well beyond baseline readings. We were both pretty spooked, but we decided to stick it out in the cell a bit longer to see if anything else would happen, although we weren’t quite courageous enough to do so in continued darkness, as I turned our camera light back on.

And then, just a couple of minutes later, it happened again. Holly looked down at her EMF meter and said, “It’s up again… it’s up again…it’s up….and it’s gone.” She hadn’t noticed what I had been doing, but the camera definitely picked it up. I turned to her and said, “I cannot see the EMF thing. There will be camera confirmation on that, that just before you said that look where my head went, back down, I felt the same…” I couldn’t finish the sentence, because I was so shaken – it had been the same sensation of deathly cold wrapping around my neck.

Holly knew exactly what I meant. “Are you serious?” she asked. “Yup,” I replied. “I went, the camera will confirm, before you said it, I went like this…” at which point I recreated my head pushing down into my chest so that my neck would not be exposed. I kept my neck there as I said, “I don’t actually want to expose my neck at the moment.” Holly was genuinely concerned. “I don’t think I’ve seen you like this before, Paul,” she said. All that I could say was, “Yeah, well I have this thing about strangling and necks throats and stuff. Maybe in another life I was hanged. The noose was funny, because the noose was no threat, but this - who knows?”

We were both scared, and we called out to the camera crew that we wanted out of the cell. They obliged, and we made our way out of the cell block and back to the offices in the building as fast as we could. It wasn’t any warmer there, but it sure felt a lot safer. As we recounted what had happened inside the cell, one of our witnesses, Elaine Brough, who works as a guide on tours of the jail, told us that what we had experienced was pretty much exactly what other people had reported happening to them when they went into the cell. She hadn’t mentioned this to us before we went in, because she wanted to see if we would have the same experience without knowing what to expect. The only thing that I could think of to say to her was “mission accomplished.”

Holly and I would often talk, sometimes seriously and sometimes for a laugh, about how when the season was done we would hop on a plane, fly down to Peru, journey up into the rainforest to a village where a shaman would conduct a traditional native cleansing ritual, so that we could clear ourselves of any residual “bad energy” that might have attached itself to us. If there was any one case that brought us closest to booking those tickets, it was the old jail in St. Andrews, where neither of us could shake the uncomfortable feeling that we may have run across the spirit of a very, very bad man. For our sakes, I hope Tom Hutchings is still in that cell, still suffering for the horrible crime he committed forty-five years ago.

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mac Tonnies on the cryptoterrestrials

The latest from the Other Side of Truth podcast - the late Mac Tonnies discusses his cryptoterrestrial hypothesis for the UFO phenomenon, and compares it to the extraterrestrial hypothesis, in these excerpts from an interview I conducted with him in Kansas City, Missouri, in May, 2006.

Paul Kimball

The Case of the Baby in the Basement

In Quinan, Nova Scotia, a cluster of a few houses about a half an hours drive from the town of Yarmouth on the Province’s far western tip, was a small farmhouse owned by Darlene McCall for 33 years. Unexplained occurrences had been happening for decades, but when McCall’s daughter, Shelley Paddock, moved in with her in September, 2008, they became even more intense and frequent. The activity manifested itself throughout the house and surrounding property, but three areas in particular seemed to be the most active.

The first was the basement, where Paddock and McCall described being pushed by an unseen force as they walked down the stairs, and experiencing cold once in the room itself. The second area was McCall’s spare room on the second floor. She claimed that she would hear footsteps on the stairs leading to the room, and that when she entered the room she felt a malevolent presence. Finally, there was the field behind the house. Both McCall and Paddock described the sensation of someone watching them when they would be out there, and Paddock told us that “whatever it is, I won’t come out here at night. I won’t stay out here. I don’t want to be out here. It’s not nice.”

No matter how many technological bells and whistles that you employ when you are investigating an allegedly haunted location, from digital video recorders to thermal cameras, in the end I really believe that it all comes down to whether or not you have a personal experience, because that’s what we’re all really looking for. Sometimes, however, that personal experience turns out to be more than you bargained for,. At McCall’s farm, that’s exactly what happened to me when Holly Stevens and I went to investigate the haunting in February, 2009.

On the surface, the investigation had begun in the same way that it always does – Holly and I arrived with the camera crew, met with the owner of the location, got the back-story on what was supposedly going on, and then set up our gear and prepared to film. But at McCall’s farm, something was a bit different from the beginning, and both Holly and I sensed it.

For one thing, the owners, Darlene McCall and Shelley Paddock, were genuinely afraid, which is something we hadn’t really encountered on previous investigations. As McCall described the basement to us, she was visibly shaking. “The basement is pure scary,” she said. “You get the feeling when you walk into my cellar that somebody is there to grab you. Not only the feeling of coldness but just pure fear. Something down there and he’s gonna get me.” When you see that kind of fear in someone else’s eyes, or behaviour, it can definitely have an effect on you as well.

Further, there was a real sense of isolation at the farm. The house is literally at the end of the road, out in the middle of nowhere, like something out of one of those horror films where people ask for directions at a gas station miles away, only to take a wrong turn and head down the one road to the one house that no-one should ever visit. It’s one thing to investigate a building like a hotel, where there are other people just a minute or two away; it’s another to spend a night in a supposedly haunted house miles away from anyone who might be able to help if you get in trouble. That plays on the mind, particularly when the owners of the property describe whatever it is that’s going on as “evil.”

As Paddock said, “I get the feeling that something wants to get me, to harm me and mine and I don’t know how to protect me or others from it.” Presumably, whatever wanted to do them harm would be just as eager to have a go at Holly and I.

Given that the basement was a key nexus of reported paranormal activity, I decided that I would spend time down there alone while Holly and psychic Kelly Muise, who was along for the ride that evening, were upstairs in the kitchen conducting a sort of séance to try and contact whatever spirits were in the house.

Now, while I have never ruled out the possibility that some psychic phenomena might be real, I have never been a proponent of using a psychic in one of our investigations. Dale prevailed on me to make an exception at McCall’s farm, however, so I did. The results wound up challenging all of my preconceived notions about both psychics and ghosts.

As I sat on the stairs in the frigid cold basement, with the door tightly wedged shut behind me, I could hear the proceedings upstairs in the kitchen through the floorboards. No matter what I thought of using psychics, I was struck by the fact that at least it was a shared experience between Kelly and Holly (and our camera crew), while I was stuck in the basement alone. That definitely ratcheted up the creepy factor. I couldn’t help but think that if there was a malevolent presence in the house, it would probably go for me first, as opposed to the group upstairs, because that’s what I figured I would do if I was a ghost with bad intentions. As a result, I felt like a lone wildebeest, cut off from the herd by a group of hungry lions.

About thirty minutes after I began my watch in the basement, I heard Kelly and Holly start to talk about a “murdered baby” being in the basement. They were both encouraging the spirit to make contact with me, and show me where the baby was buried. This was a development that I was not exactly in favour of – indeed, the digital video camera which I had set up to record whatever happened caught me responding to Kelly and Holly, saying repeatedly, “I don’t want to meet the baby,” and “don’t come show me where the baby is.”

And then it happened. Just after another exhortation from Kelly and Holly for the ghost to pop by and pay me a visit, the door opened behind me. As a skeptic, my immediate reaction was that it had been the wind, but I could hear when the wind was blowing, as it had been earlier (without moving the door, I should add), and it hadn’t been blowing this time. Further, the door didn’t open easily, as it wasn’t a perfect fit for the frame and got caught along the ground as it opened. Not the kind of door, in other words, that was easily pushed open by a simple breeze.

I immediately went outside to investigate – my first thought was that one of our crewmembers was playing a practical joke on me – but there was nobody out there. No wind, no people, just the still of the night, and McCall’s dog, lying next to its house twenty feet away from the basement.

That was it for me. I was genuinely scared, and had no intention of going back down into the basement. Despite the fact that it was well below freezing outside, I waited for another forty minutes until Kelly and Holly had finished their séance before I went inside. I told everyone what had happened, and I’m not sure they believed me, at least until we went downstairs, retrieved the camera, and played the tape back. Sure enough, there was the door, opening behind me, at the same time as Kelly and Holly had been telling the spirit to go to me in the basement. We were all a bit shaken, although I could see McCall and Paddock nodding their heads, as if to say, “we told you so.”

Stranger still is the fact that when we reviewed the data from my audio recorder, which I had with me in the basement, we heard what sounded like a baby crying at the same time as the séance was going on and the door opened!

The next day we all headed out into the back field, where the house had originally stood, to conduct what Kelly called a spiritual cleansing. Normally I would have been in a joking mood, because I’m very dubious about things like this, but given what had happened the night before I kept my mouth shut and simply observed the proceedings. Perhaps it was by chance, but as Kelly was spreading holy water over the area, some of it landed on me. I still wasn’t sure if I had encountered an evil spirit in the basement the night before, but I have to admit it crossed my mind that maybe a little holy water wasn’t a bad thing.

It would be easy to chalk this all up to coincidence. After all, that’s the simplest explanation, and as a result probably the easiest one for people to deal with. The problem with simple explanations, however, is that they’re not always the best explanations. With McCall’s farm, and the baby in the basement, I can’t help but think that this is one time and place where something extraordinary might really have happened, and where the explanation that makes the most sense is the one that challenges everything I thought I knew about our world.

Which is exactly why I seek out these experiences in the first place.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Karl Pflock on ufology

An excerpt of an interview I conducted for the documentary Stanton T. Friedman is Real with Karl Pflock on September 9, 2001, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

I hadn’t met Karl before this, but I had read a great deal of his UFO-related material, and had been impressed by his even-keeled, open-minded skepticism. We hit it off in Cedar Rapids, and became good friends in the years that followed, corresponding regularly, and meeting again in Aztec, New Mexico, and at his home just outside Albuquerque, in March of 2004. We used to joke about our membership in MJ-12. Karl claimed to be MJ-0, whereas I took the designation MJ-13.

In this clip, Karl discusses ufology as it was in 2001 which, alas, seems pretty much the same as it is in 2010.

There will be more to come from Karl at the Other Side of Truth podcast over the next month or so.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Podcasting the Paranormal

Keep an eye on The Other Side of Truth podcast - in the weeks to come I'll be posting clips from interviews I've conducted with a wide range of people, including Kevin Randle, Stan Friedman, Richard Dolan, Nick Redfern, Greg Bishop, Barry Downing, Dr. Benson Saler, the late Walter Haut, the late Karl Pflock, and others, as well as a couple of new interviews.

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lt. Col. Bruce Bailey's UFO Encounter

Most UFO researchers are aware of at least the basic details of the classic 1957 RB47 spy plane UFO encounter over Texas and Mississippi, which was voted the #1 “best evidence” UFO case by a panel of researchers in my 2007 documentary Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings. It isn’t the only UFO incident associated with what was at the time the highly classified RB47 aircraft. At the Other Side of Truth podcast I've uploaded a short clip of Lt. Col. Bruce Bailey, a highly decorated retired RB47 crew member, recounting his crew’s own UFO encounter during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the aftermath, and compares it the 1957 case.

Paul Kimball

Greg Bishop - The UFO Phenomenon

At The Other Side of Truth podcast I have a short clip from a longer interview I conducted with my good friend Greg Bishop in Los Angeles in 2007, wherein he sets out his overall view on the UFO phenomenon, and how we should approach it.

Bonus points for the first person who can identify the theme music for this “epsiode.”

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Other Side of Truth - Podcast

Everyone else is doing it, so I figured "why not?"

The Other Side of Truth... podcast!

In Episode 1, excerpts from an interview I conducted with longtime UFO proponent / researcher Peter Gersten at his home in Sedona, Arizona, in September 2007, about 2012, what he calls the "cosmic program," and other topics.

Unlike regular paranormal podcasts, mine won't be on a regular basis. It will be a mix of clips from past interviews I've conducted, and a few new interviews as well, posted as time and mood allows.

Stay tuned...

Paul Kimball