Monday, March 28, 2011

X-Zone, Mind Cemetery appearances tonight

A programming note: I'll be appearing on two radio shows this evening - first up will be Mind Cemetery, from 11 pm to 1 am EST, followed by the X-Zone with Rob McConnell, from 1 am to 2 am EST.

Ghosts, UFOs, Beyond Best Evidence, and more...

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 25, 2011

Beyond Best Evidence

The IndieGoGo campaign will go Live this Saturday, April 2.
Sometime next week, Redstar Films will be launching the IndieGoGo community fundraising campaign for the sequel to Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings. I'll post the notice and links here, and I hope everyone who has enjoyed either Best Evidence or my work elsewhere will join the "team" and support this new venture, that is being co-produced by myself and Tim Binnall.

For the moment, here is the write-up that will appear at IndieGoGo.

In 2007, we made Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO sightings, a 48 minute documentary for television in Canada and New Zealand that provided a look at 10 of the “best evidence” UFO cases in history, as chosen by some of the world’s leading UFO researchers, including Stanton Friedman, Kevin Randle, Brad Sparks, Don Ledger, Nick Pope, Nick Redfern, Dr. Bruce Maccabee, Chris Styles, Chris Rutkowski, Joel Carpenter, the late Richard Hall, the late Mac Tonnies, the late Karl Pflock, and many others. Each researcher had submitted their top ten list, which were then averaged together to come up with the top 10 cases.
This was just the tip of the iceberg, however – there were over 50 other top cases that received votes. Taking all of these cases together, one is left with an irrefutable case for the objective reality of the UFO phenomenon, and that was the purpose of Best Evidence – not to provide answers, but to show, once and for all and beyond any reasonable doubt, that something still unexplained has been happening in the skies above us for a very long time.

Best Evidence, however, was just the first part of a two part series. It was meant to establish the foundation from which one could ask the most important question. As my old friend, the late Mac Tonnies, stated at the end of Best Evidence: "what does it all mean?"

Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma is a one hour documentary that will take the cases shown in Best Evidence, as well as a couple of new ones that highlight what appear to be some of the more "high strangeness" aspects of the phenomenon, and explore with the three key possible explanations with world's leading experts on the subject, as follows:

1. Extraterrestrial Hypothesis - This explanation maintains that UFO sightings represent proof of visitation to Earth by advanced extraterrestrials from another world, most likely within what proponents term of "local galactic neighbourhood."

2. Interdimensional Hypothesis - This explanation maintains that UFO sightings involve visitations from other "realities" or "dimensions" that co-exist alongside our own. It also holds that UFOs are a modern manifestation of a phenomenon that has occurred throughout recorded human history, which in prior ages were ascribed to mythological or supernatural forces and creatures.

3. Psychosocial hypothesis - This explanation maintains that UFO Sightings can be explained by psychological or social means, examples of which include wishful thinking, hallucinations, hoaxes, and misidentification of prosaic objects, such as satellites, aircraft, or natural phenomena.

What We Need &What You Get

Beyond Best Evidence is a one hour long documentary that is being made independent of the mainstream broadcast system, so that we'll have the editorial freedom to explore any and possibilities about the UFO phenomenon without having to conform to network requirements to create "reality-based TV", which never has anything to do with actual reality.

The film is being financed using a combination of funding sources - community fundraising, Redstar Film's own production and post-production resources, federal and provincial film tax credits here in Canada, and private investment. Every dollar raised will be going directly into the production of the film.

Once the film is completed, it will be submitted to film festivals around the world, and will be immediately available on DVD and through various on-line distribution outlets. Television sales will follow.

There are two ways to become involved in the making of Beyond Best Evidence.

The first way is to join the team by making a donation, at one of the levels we've created, each of which includes various perks that we're making available. The perks start with discounts on the purchase of the DVD, and go from there to include all sorts of other cool stuff.

The second way to join the team is to invest in the film. For more information on investing, contact Paul Kimball directly at:  

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can't donate to the financing of Beyond Best Evidence but believe the project is important, we would really appreciate it if you could spread the word to your friends through Twitter, Facebook, message forums you may participate in, and any other social media that you might use and think appropriate.

The more people to share Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma with the better. We've taken the first step in this journey of discovery about the UFO phenomenon, and what it might mean for all of us, with Best Evidence, and now we're eager to build upon that foundation with an entire community of supporters who share our vision, and our commitment to making a truly independent and thought-provoking documentary about what the UFO phenomenon might actually represent.
On-line community-based fundraising is all the rage these days in my industry. It will be interesting to see if it works for a film about the UFO phenomenon.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of Paul - 2011 election version

A federal election is imminent here in Canada. Time to fly the colours, and get to work.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from Michael Ignatieff, the leader of Canada's Liberal Party:

"If the fragile internationalism of the myth of human brotherhood has returned as a moral force in the modern world, it is because partial human solidarities - those of religion, ethnicity, and class - have dishonored themselves by the slaughter committed in their names."

He's not an easy person to pigeon-hole, because he speaks in coherent and thoughtful sentences, not soundbites. He's an intellectual, who spent most of his career outside of party politics. In other words, he's everything our current Prime Minister is not.

I look forward to marking my "X" next to the Liberal Party's candidate in my riding. Voting is an almost existential moment that I cherish. It's the ultimate opportunity to be heard, and make a difference.

Paul Kimball

Ufological Cause and The Condon Effect

I've talked about what I call the "Condon Effect" before:

Here's a good example of it in action, from 1969. Note the headline: "Don't study UFOs, Study the Believers".

Of course, what you don't read in the Condon Report is that he ignored a number of good cases which remain unexplained to this day - like the 1957 RB47 case.

Furthermore, even after Condon abandoned his intellectual integrity and scientific objectivity and proclaimed that there was nothing of interest to science about the UFO phenomenon, and that "studying the believers" was the way to go, strange sightings continued to be of interest to the highest levels of the US government, such as the 1976 Tehran case.

As I wrote in 2008, in a post I called The Hypocrisy of Edward Condon:

There is so much that is wrong with the University of Colorado Project for the Scientific Study of UFOs, aka The Condon Report, and in particular Dr. Edward Condon's conclusions, that it is hard to pick the single most egregious example. However, if I had to choose, it might be this passage from Condon's conclusion:

The subject of UFOs has been widely misrepresented to the public by a small number of individuals who have given sensationalized presentations in writings and public lectures. So far as we can judge, not many people have been misled by such irresponsible behavior, but whatever effect there has been has been bad.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to write this paragraph, lambasting civilian UFO researchers, when you consider the ones that came just before and after it:


It has been contended that the subject has been shrouded in official secrecy. We conclude otherwise. We have no evidence of secrecy concerning UFO reports. What has been miscalled secrecy has been no more than an intelligent policy of delay in releasing data so that the public does not become confused by premature publication of incomplete studies of reports.

No evidence of official secrecy about UFOs (which is different than saying there had been a massive coverup of something like a crashed flying saucer)? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but even I recognize that this statement is absurd on its face, given that there was plenty of evidence that the subject had been subjected to official secrecy. I'm not talking about bogus materials like MJ-12 (which, if it had been real, would have been in place at the time Condon was writing), but rather real secrecy, like the Robertson Panel (which was specifically referenced in the Condon Report), or even the cover-up of the Roswell Incident, which is undoubted, whether you buy the alien spacecraft explanation, Project Mogul, or something else - whatever it was, it was not a "weather balloon".

So, no official secrecy, and the government is perfectly clean - rather, it's the civilian UFO researchers, authors, lecturers, and so forth, who are the problem according to Condon. What to do about that?

A related problem to which we wish to direct public attention is the miseducation in our schools which arises from the fact that many children are being allowed, if not actively encouraged, to devote their science study time to the reading of UFO books and magazine articles of the type referred to in the preceding paragraph. We feel that children are educationally harmed by absorbing unsound and erroneous material as if it were scientifically well founded. Such study is harmful not merely because of the erroneous nature of the material itself, but also because such study retards the development of a critical faculty with regard to scientific evidence, which to some degree ought to be part of the education of every American.

Therefore we strongly recommend that teachers refrain from giving students credit for school work based on their reading of the presently available UFO books and magazine articles. Teachers who find their students strongly motivated in this direction should attempt to channel their interests in the direction of serious study of astronomy and meteorology, and in the direction of critical analysis of arguments for fantastic propositions that are being supported by appeals to fallacious reasoning or false data.

Whatever you might think of the UFO phenomenon, this section should anger any thinking, rational individual (particularly given the erroneous conclusions offered by Condon just before). If these children for whose welfare Condon was seemingly so concerned had read the data in his own study, the hypocrisy of this conclusion / recommendation would have been clear. There was evidence, there was data - in other words, there was something that was worthy of serious scientific study, as opposed to the virtual censorship advocated by Condon. Children would not be educationally harmed by reading about UFO reports; they were educationally harmed by the people who took Condon's conclusion as gospel, and acted on his erroneous and unscientific recommendations.

Whether intentional or not - and reasonable people can debate the motives that underlay the Condon Report - the effect was to achieve exactly what the Robertson Panel recommended in 1953: the debunking of the UFO phenomenon. The ultimate irony is that the Condon Report, when it discussed the Robertson Panel, concluded:

So far as we can determine, no official steps were ever taken to put into effect the training and "debunking" recommendations of the Roberston panel. A private effort was not to be expected, since such a program would not be commercially attractive and would conflict with books that were beginning to make money by exploiting popular confusion about the ETH and alleged government conspiracies.

Of course, who needed a "private" debunking effort, when you could get one funded by the United States Air Force, and directed by one of America's most respected and accomplished scientists, who, in chastising teachers for allowing their students to look into the UFO subject, ignored the data contained in his own report, which showed the subject of the UFO phenomenon to be one of the great unsolved scientific mysteries of the 20th century. Or, as the conclusion to the study of the Trent photos case (1950) found:

This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses. It cannot be said that the evidence positively rules out a fabrication, although there are some physical factors such as the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives which argue against a fabrication. (p. 407)

This should leave any reasonable observer with only one conclusion: that the real danger to the sound education of not just children, but all Americans, came from Edward Condon, and those in the mainstream who bought into his debunking, hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, the effect of his unscientific debunking is stronger than ever today - and citizens are that much poorer because of it, whatever the UFO phenomenon may represent.
But what to do about it?

Well, as I wrote in 2005, there is a way to combat the Condon Effect. I called it The Sturrock Gambit, and wrote:
The conclusions in the Condon Report – at least so far as they are generally known to the public, and, more important, government officials, stopped the interest in the UFO phenomenon by government dead in its tracks. It changed the way that the people who matter (i.e. the ones who could fund a serious study of the UFO phenomenon) think about UFOs. It became a subject for historians to study, more from a cultural perspective than anything else. It became fodder for fringe radio and the alternative media, but not the mainstream media, which could make a difference. It became science-fiction, instead of science.

And that’s pretty much where it sits today, as I have noted here before.

Ufologists can’t blame just the Condon Report. Roswellism, i.e the descent into conspiracy theory, and crashed flying saucer stories, and MJ-12, and, above all else, the acceptance by many of the ETH as a proven fact, hasn’t done the cause of the serious study of the phenomenon any good. These things have merely confirmed the impression created by the Condon Report, and have seen ufology reduced to the fringe. Every time the words Cosmic and Watergate are uttered in the same sentence by a ufologist, the people who matter tune out.

I recognise that believers don’t care about “the people who matter,” and I suppose I don’t blame them. They’ve already accepted that the ETH is a fact, so, for them, what’s left to study?

It’s time for the rest of ufology, however, to recognise that further association with this group just makes things worse, not better. It’s time to wish them well, and then head in separate directions, because, no matter how much one might like them as people, the harsh reality is that they’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

That doesn’t mean repudiating the ETH as a hypothesis. It does mean parting ways with those who can’t see that it is still just a hypothesis.


Because there is something “up there” that is worthy of serious study, but the nature of that “something” is still unknown, and that serious study requires the resources that only government can really muster.

Of course, if you think that the government is the real problem, then this approach is obviously not for you. You’re in the first group, mentioned above, and, as I said, I wish you well (you might want to stop reading at this point). Make your appearances on Rense, and Coast to Coast, and at conferences where fellow-travelers chat about the latest crash retrieval, or exopolitics. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing these things – it just isn’t the way forward. It won't accomplish anything.

For everyone else, I can guarantee you that the Condon Effect will remain in place, and those resources will not be forthcoming in any meaningful way, until the “H” is put firmly back in place in the “ETH.”

I’m sorry if that seems harsh, but reality isn’t always pretty. Sometimes you have to make the hard choices in order to make progress. But ask yourself - is ufology interested in pleasing everyone, or in searching for the truth? Is ufology a social club, or a serious scientific and historical study? If it's the latter, then it needs to act like one.

Assuming all of that is done, and ufology sorts out its own house (a BIG assumption, but one can always hope), what then?

How does serious ufology counteract the Condon Effect?

Well, with the ufological flanks secured, and everyone singing from the same hymn book (more or less), ufology should then employ, in a concerted, public way, what I call “The Sturrock Gambit.”

First, you let the decision makers know what the Colorado Project really found, as opposed to what the Condon Report said it found – that there were still a significant percentage of cases investigated that remained unexplained. Don’t talk about dark conspiracies to cover-up the truth – simply present the Condon Report for what it was – the work of a biased man (Condon) who acted in an unscientific-manner, and ultimately screwed the pooch. After all these years, it’s time to present the Colorado Project to the decision-makers, and not the Condon Report, and remind people that they were, for all intents and purposes, two different things. Give them the facts, in other words, and not the personal agenda of Edward Condon.

Then fast-forward to the late 1990s and the Sturrock Panel, a far more recent look by scientists at the UFO phenomenon.

Point out that the Panel was composed of top scientists, led by distinguished physicist Dr. Peter Sturrock (above - his specialties were plasma physics, astrophysics, and solar physics). Include their bios.

Don’t try and sugar-coat the Panel’s conclusions. Decision-makers, or their aides, at least, can read - and they will.

Give it to them straight.

Tell them the following:

The panel found that, despite the fact that the specific cases presented to it by UFO investigators did not provide “convincing evidence pointing to unknown physical processes or to the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence,” nevertheless, it would be “valuable to carefully study UFO reports since, whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying these observations.”

To be credible, stated the panel, such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses. The best prospect for achieving a meaningful evaluation of relevant hypotheses, the Panel concluded, “is likely to come from the examination of physical evidence.”

The Panel then specifically addressed the Condon Report from 1969:

The chances of a significant advance are considered greater now than at the time of the Colorado project that led to the Condon Report thirty years ago, because of advances in scientific knowledge and technical capabilities, and in view of the example of a modest but effective UFO research project provided by the French space agency CNES.

The Panel concluded that:

1. The UFO problem is not a simple one, and it is unlikely that there is any simple universal answer;

2. Whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying those observations;

3. Studies should concentrate on cases which include as much independent physical evidence as possible and strong witness testimony;

4. Some form of formal regular contact between the UFO community and physical scientists could be productive; and

5. It is desirable that there be institutional support for research in this area.

Throw in a copy of Dick Hall’s The UFO Evidence, Vol. I and II. Reference the Project Blue Book Archive, for those decision-makers who are Internet savvy ( Mention RB-47 and Minot AFB. In Canada, try the 1996 Yukon case. In Europe, the 1990 Belgium multiple witness, multiple radar, F16s-scrambled case. Reference national UFO studies that show the phenomenon is alive and well (to say the least). Cite polls that show people (i.e. constituents) think the UFO phenomenon is worthy of serious study (different than saying that they believe that there is ET life somewhere out there). Work at a grassroots level, not for “disclosure” (which is anti-government, in that it assumes the government is lying), but for government-funded scientific study of the phenomenon. Get a petition started in each constituency calling for serious scientific study of the phenomenon. 100 signatures in each riding will create an impression with the M.P., and force him to at least take a look at the subject, and the materials you send him or her. Believe me - an M.P. might ignore 1 constituent; they will not ignore 100, or more.

Compile a list of the fifty best unexplained cases that meet the criteria outlined in point #3, above, by the Sturrock Panel. Prepare a synopsis of each case.

All of this, and more, can be done - but it's important to have all the ducks in a row.

Then, when you have their attention (and you will get someone’s attention), prepare a budget for a five year scientific study to boldly go where science has not gone before (Condon doesn’t count, and the Sturrock Panel was only a start). Keep the budget reasonable – a few million dollars, spread over those five years, would be a good start.

And always remember that once a government program is in place, it is very difficult to get rid of – especially if it actually shows some results, and doesn’t go off the rails (i.e. exceed its mandate)!

And then make your case.

This will, I know, be a hard pill for many in ufology to swallow.

But Roswellism – i.e. the “everything-is-a-conspiracy, ET-is-here” approach - has been dominant for the past twenty plus years, and has achieved nothing of substance.

It is has been a failure, because it is based on a flawed, unproved set of assumptions, masquerading as facts.

It is unscientific.

It is a-historical.

The Sturrock Gambit is the way forward.

It is the Theory of Evolution to Roswellism’s Intelligent Design.

And if it isn’t done, then someone else will be writing in ten years about the “Condon Effect” – and offering the same advice I just have, even as they mutter under their breath “ca plus ca change, ca plus ca meme chose.”
As I look back on what I wrote five years ago, it's the last sentence that stands out the most. As I watch many within so-called serious UFO research blindly defend the "methodology" of the "alien abduction cult" (er... researchers), and fail to disassociate themselves completely from their discredited work, I can't help but think that maybe, in a way, Condon got it right.

After all, UFOs come and go. Who knows what they are - maybe we'll never know, for sure. But the true believers? They'll always be with us. Condon pegged it.

But then again, the true believers have pegged it about Condon as well. His report wasn't about the truth. It was a whitewash. And like the true believers he derided, Condon's heirs remain with us today, the true disbelievers.

Believers and disbelievers.

Yin and yang.

Black and white.

A Manichean couple dancing to the same old tune, played by the same old orchestra, with instruments out of tune both to the times we live in, and the reality of the situation.

They deserve each other.

The truth lies somewhere in between... and perhaps far beyond, if we care to look for it with open minds and honest effort.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thought du jour - 22.03.11

It's been a while since I've offered a "thought du jour", so...

"The premises for revolution, on the cultural as well as the strictly political level, are not only ripe - they have begun to rot." - Guy Debord

Mind Cemetery radio appearance - 28 March, 2011

A programming note: I'll be appearing on the Mind Cemetery radio program next Monday, March 28th, from 11 pm to 1 am EST, to chat about UFOs in general, Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings in particular, ghosts and Ghost Cases... and whatever else pops up, as usual!

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carol Rainey, The Alien Abduction Cult & Ufology

There is an orchestrated campaign at the moment of personal attacks and propaganda which goes far beyond the level of reasonable criticism against filmmaker Carol Rainey, who has spoken out about the activities of Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs and other "abduction researchers". I recently pointed out one egregious example, "Archie Bedford", who lied about Rainey on the message forum of The Paracast (with the full support of the show's owner).

This is what cult members do - criticize their gurus, and they will spare no effort to attack you, not on the facts, but on your person.

UFO researchers often decry similar tactics by those they label "debunkers" (and indeed, Phil Klass had a well-deserved reputation for making these kinds of attacks). It's just as bad, however, when people do the same thing in support of people with whom you agree.

And yet, in the comments section of the video above, we see approving remarks by a poster who uses the handle "kruggutter", who in reality is Sean F. Meers, a person whose 166 page "rebuttal" to Rainey's work has been met with praise at The Paracast and even UFO Updates. And then there are videos like this:

Presumably Meers endorses these even more inflammatory videos made about Rainey, as they all seem to be part of the same gang - the poster of the video above comments on the one below, endorsing it as follows: "Hhaahahahahahahah that Witch!".

One can disagree with Ms. Rainey; indeed, it is even fair game to question her motivations (as it is for any filmmaker). But there is a right way to do it, and a wrong way to do it, and what we see in the above examples is the wrong way. It is shameful behaviour, and it has no place in a civil society that values reasonable and rational discourse. Sadly, however, it is all too typical of "ufology", a "field" that has far more in common with the likes of Phil Klass than it will ever admit, or even realize.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Programming Note: Future Theater on the 19th

A programming note - I'll be appearing on Future Theater with Bill and Nancy Birnes this Saturday, the 19th of March, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm EST (Bill and Nancy do a half an hour of chat beforehand, starting at 6:00 pm).

I actually met Bill once, briefly in 2008, when I was flown out to Los Angeles to be interviewed for UFO Hunters, and we both wound up in Topanga Canyon - he was part of a recreation of the Rex Heflin photos, and I was interviewed about Dr. James McDonald and the RB47 case. We didn't really chat - time was short, and it was a busy afternoon (and a really hot day, too), as is any film or television shoot. It will be nice to finally have an opportunity to talk to him at much greater length.


The show is now available to listen to or download at the Future Theatre site.

The show description from Bill & Nancy:
A free-range conversation about ufology, documentation, and some of the classic cases that keep researchers like filmmaker Paul Kimball interested in what this mystery is all about. It's more than the sum of its strongest cases, such as the one involving an RB-47 reconnaissance plane like the one, above. I know you'll enjoy this conversation as much as we enjoyed it!
It was great fun. Always nice to talk about the RB47 case. We went into some depth about the 1953 Santa Barbara Channel case too, and I corrected some misconceptions about its portrayal in the film that have been floating around out in the Internet ether, because facts matter. I also managed to slip in some chat about science fiction and Mac Tonnies as well, which was nice.
Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ET in Hollywood - Keyhoe vs. Sagan

The new film Battle: Los Angeles represents a Hollywood version of extraterrestrial life that mirrors the views of Donald Keyhoe and those who have followed him (just about every modern pro-ETH researcher), which is to say the people who would have us believe that aliens are only slightly more technologically advanced than we are, and basically act with the same motivations as us.

This modern version of the "aliens-as-us-in-flying-saucers" meme, while admittedly more nihilistic and violent, is more or less the same as classic 1950s sci-fi epics like The Day The Earth Stood Still.

For the most part, the views that Hollywood have given us of aliens mirror those of the pro-ETH UFO research community. What once might have seemed imaginative has long since been revealed as wholly unrealistic from a scientific sense. Hence the term "science fiction", which applies equally to Keyhoe-ian UFO research as it does to Hollywood blockbusters.

But every now and then, a film comes along that offers a different and possibly more realistic view of what an encounter with an extraterrestrial intelligence will be like, and what it will mean for humanity. Here is one of my favourites - Contact:

The film wasn't perfect, of course - few films ever achieve that standard. But the issues it raised, and the way it raised them, provide a better glimpse of what might lie ahead than a film like Battle: Los Angeles, or even a classic like The Day The Earth Stood Still.

For that we can thank Carl Sagan, who might not have had much use for the UFO phenomenon, but had a much better grasp than do most UFO researchers and  Hollywood films in terms of what to expect from an encounter with an extraterrestrial civilization.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Atlantic Filmmakers 2010

My appearance on Atlantic Filmmakers, recorded in September, 2010, at the Atlantic Film Festival. The interview is primarily focused on filmmaking in general, and my career, but towards the end, I talk about filmmaking and the paranormal.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kaku on the science of alien technology

Kaku states:

Scientists sometimes judge alien technology on the basis of what we can do, not on the basis of what a type three civilization, millions of years in advance of ours, can do.
For "scientists", substitute "UFO researchers", and you'll see where the problem lies in UFO research, even as it applies to the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Paul Kimball

The Big Picture

A 2005 lecture from Dr. Susan Clancy in which she talks about her research into "alien abductions", and her conclusions.

The blurb:
Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens

They are tiny. They are tall. They are gray. They are green. They survey our world with enormous glowing eyes. To conduct their shocking experiments, they creep in at night to carry humans off to their spaceships. Yet there is no evidence that they exist at all. So how could anyone believe he or she was abducted by aliens? Or want to believe it?

To answer these questions, psychologist Susan Clancy interviewed and evaluated 'abductees' – old and young, male and female, religious and agnostic. She listened closely to their stories – how they struggled to explain something strange in their remembered experience, how abduction seemed plausible, and how, having suspected abduction, they began to recollect it, aided by suggestion and hypnosis.

Clancy argues that abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts (abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV), and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy. For them, otherworldly terror can become a transforming, even inspiring experience. 'Being abducted,' writes Clancy, 'may be a baptism in the new religion of this millennium.' This book is not only a subtle exploration of the workings of memory, but a sensitive inquiry into the nature of belief.
An important work that most UFO researchers either passed on at the time, or simply accepted the "party line" that was put forward by the leaders of the "alien abduction cult" when the book was released. I also recommend my interview from September, 2010, with Kevin Randle, about his book, The Abduction Enigma.

To all of those UFO researchers who are still inclined to defend the practices and ridiculous "theories" of these cultists, answer this one question:

If aliens from other worlds have technology sufficiently advanced to allow them to travel the vast distances between the stars (and even in our own "neighbourhood", those distances boggle the mind), and abduct people here, there and everywhere when they get here, then what kind of person would believe that a plucky little bunch of "abduction researchers" (artists, associate history professors, and so on) could manage to beat these aliens at their own game, and defeat their technlogy and discover their plans?

It's laughable, and it has always been laughable.

In the meantime, people who probably needed real psychiatric help have wasted their time going to these "cultists" for help. Serious UFO research has suffered, and been tainted by this ridiculous circus. Finally, if there really is some sort of paranormal aspect to a few abductions (and I don't rule that out, anymore than I rule out the possibility that some people have direct experiences with a non-human intelligence in any context, "God" being the pre-dominant manifestation throughout human history), then any opportunity to discover such an intelligence has been squandered for decades.

UFO researchers wonder why they get no respect from the mainstream media?

Some even talk in dark tones of a conspiracy.

It's a conspiracy, all right - a conspiracy of self-marginalization by men and women who live in a fantasy world of mediocre 1950s science fiction.

All the while, the real mysteries remain - ephemeral, a bundle of possibilities which, if real, are far more exciting than anything UFO researchers (with a few notable exceptions) have been able to conjure up in the past sixty years. It's not just that they don't have the answers; they don't even have the imagination to ask the right questions.

Paul Kimball

Friday, March 11, 2011

The New Light Experience of Henry Alline

Here is the 2000 pilot we did for a series called "Visionaries" on Vision TV, about great Canadians of faith. The series wasn't picked up, but I still love the concept, and remain an admirer of Henry Alline, the subject of the pilot episode, and I'm proud of the writing, which was based on my graduate studies in history. I've re-edited the original version in what is, I think, now a better film.

I've written about Alline here before, and referred to him on a few of my radio appearances (most recently, on The X-Zone), because I'm intrigued by the similarities between what we might now refer to as a "paranormal" experience, and what someone like Alline would have viewed through a spiritual prism. Perhaps the two have always been the same.

Here is what I wrote in a post call Wrapped Up In God... or ET? back in April, 2006:

Henry Alline, Canada's first great evangelist, and a Christian of a mystical bent, had a profound spiritual experience in the late 18th century that changed his life irrevocably, and set him on his short career as the leader of the first Great Awakening in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and eventually New England.

Here, in part, is how Alline described his experience, which occurred in 1775, and which was about as intense and transforming as one can possibly imagine, and which he attributed to the divine presence of God:

"O the infinite condescension of God to a worm of the dust! for though my whole soul was filled with love, and ravished with a divine ecstacy beyond any doubts or fears, or thoughts of being then deceived, for I enjoyed a heaven on earth, and it seemed as if i were wrapped up in God, and that he had done ten thousand times more for me than ever I could expect, or had ever thought of: yet he still stooped to the weakness of my desires and requests, made as before observed on the 13th of February; though I had no thoughts of it then, until it was given me. Looking up, I thought I saw that same light, though it appeared different, and as soon as I saw it, the design was opened to me, according to his promise, and I was obliged to cry out: enough, enough, O blessed God; the work of conversion, the change and the manifestations of it are no more disputable, than the light which I see, or any thing that I ever saw."

Of course, most people looking at this passage would say that when Alline refers to seeing a light, he was speaking metaphorically, not literally.

Or was he?

He continued:

"I will not say either of those lights with my bodily eyes, though I thought then I did, but it was no odds to me, for it was as evident to me, as any thing I ever saw with my bodily eyes (-in my Life); and answered the end it was sent for."
The excerpts above can be found at p. 63, The Journal of Henry Alline (Hantsport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1982), which was edited by James Beverley and Barry Moody, one of my favourite history professors when I was at Acadia University, or at pp. 35 and 36 of the original, which can be viewed on-line here and here.

The phrase "though I thought then I did " gives one pause for thought. Did Alline actually see a light, and perhaps come in contact with some other intelligence, which he perceived as a religious experience (which makes sense given the era in which his experience took place)? Probably not. Almost certainly he's speaking in traditional Christian metaphor, using symbols that were common and well understood in his time. But... if so, what are the genesis of those symbols? At some point, someone must have seen a light? Or, perhaps Alline did actually see a light.

He was a prolific hymn writer as well as a preacher and theologian. Those hymns contain some imagery that - again - was almost certainly traditional Christian imagery. But... Alline did seem to have a preoccupation with variations on the "beams of light" theme. From "The Soaring Mind":

"Break Sacred Morn with beams of Light
And from My Soul Expel the Night
And Sweetly Steal my heart away
With raptures of immortal day -"

And from "Panting For The Spirit of God to Bear The Mind Away":

"Breathe on my Heart O Sacred Dove
And let me Feel Immortal Love
Inspired with One all Conquering Ray
Would Bear my Cheerfull Soul away."

I could go on and on as well about the imagery Alline uses that involves "the sky" or "realms above" or some other some variation thereof. While this was almost certainly metaphor, one wonders whether there might have been more to it than that. Yes, heaven was viewed as being "up there" and hell was seen as being "down there", so that's the most obvious (and, again, the most likely) explanation for the imagery - but why was it seen that way? Could there have been more at work than just superstition, if not for Alline, then for those who came before him and set the mold, so to speak?

I've touched on this before, because it's an aspect of the UFO phenomenon that interests me, which probably has something to do with all the time I spent studying and researching Alline and his successors as an MA student. He was a fascinating, complex, and inspirational man, whether you're religious or not.

But it goes beyond just Alline. As I have noted here before, there was a UFO sighting in the same general area where Alline lived (the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia); it came in 1796, over a decade after his untimely death in 1784 at the age of 36 from tuberculosis, and two decades after his conversion experience. That sighting, which I discussed a couple of nights ago with Stan Friedman (who was unaware of it), was described by Simeon Perkins, a well-respected merchant in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, who kept a diary which has become one of the best primary sources for those studying Nova Scotia in the late 18th century:

""A Strange Story is going that Fleet of Ships have been Seen in the Air in Som part of the Bay of Fundy. Mr. Darrow is lately there by land. I enquired of him. He Says they were Said to be Seen at New Minas, at one Mr. Ratchford's, by a Girl, about Sunrise, & that the Girl being Frighted, Called out, & two men that were in the House went out & Saw the Same Sight, being 15 Ships and a Man forward of them with his hand Stretched out. The Ships made to the Eastward. They were So Near that the people Saw their Sides & ports. The Story did not obtain universal Credit, but Some people believed it. My own Opinion is that it was only in Imagination, as the Cloud at Sunrise might Make Some Such appearance, which being Improved by Imagination, might be all they Saw."

The original can be seen here.

Now, one might completely discount the potential extraterrestrial (or extradimensional) angle of Alline's experience, and one might easily discount the UFO sighting report, but when you put the two together... well, it gets just a little harder to completely discount it.

Which leads us to the experience of mystical Protestant Jane Lead in the late 17th century.

In her diary, A FOUNTAIN OF Gardens, or,A SPIRITUAL DIARY OF THE Wonderful Experiences of a CHRISTIAN SOUL, under the Conduct of the Heavenly WISDOM, Vol. III (which can be found transcribed on-line here), she recounts an experience even more "alien" (as we might call it today) than Alline's:

"February 9. 1678.

A Transport.

IN the Morning after I was awaked from Sleep, upon a sudden I was insensible of any sensibility as relating to a corporeal Being, and found my self as without the clog of an Earthly Body, being very sprightly and airy in a silent place, where some were beside my self, but I did not know them by their Figures, except one, who went out, and came in again: and there was no speaking one to another, but all did set in great silence, and I myself with my Eye fixed forward. And I did suddenly see at a pritty distance, where I was, a rich splenderous thing come down all engraven, with Colours, the Ground thereof being all of Gold. It was in the form of a large Ship with Wings, I cannot say, whether more than four, which spread themselves out, being like varnished Gold, it came down with the greatest swiftness as is imaginable. Upon which amazing sight, I asked some by me, do you not see this wonderful sight? And they said no. But I saw my self, or something like my self, leaping and dancing and greatly rejoycing to meet it. But when I came up to it, then it did as suddenly go up again, withdrawing out of all sight, unto the high Orb from whence it came. After which I found my self in my Body of Sense, as knowing I had been ranging in my Spirit from it for a while, that I might behold this great thing."

This seems to combine the ships sighted by the people at New Minas in 1796, and Henry Alline's mystical religious conversion experience in 1775, in what some would probably call an "abduction" experience today (one can only imagine what would happen, and how her story would morph into an alien experience, if Lead was somehow brought forward in time to be hypnotized by Budd Hopkins - one shudders at the thought!).

Is any of this evidence of anything? Absolutely not. In fact, we can't even be sure if Alline saw a light, much less what it was, and we don't know the names of the people who reported the ships above New Minas, and Lead's experience has any number of possible mundane explanations. However, if you do a bit of digging, you'll see that this is just the tip of the iceberg - and that there may be a relationship here that is worth looking into.

So.. is God an alien, or an extradimensional intelligence?

Or - and here's a question that most ufologists don't want to touch with a ten foot pole - are aliens and extradimensional beings God, but filtered through our own 20th (now 21st) century paradigms?

Or is there some other explanation?

Or are these things - Alline's and Lead's experience, the New Minas sighting, other pre-1947 events and experiences - unrelated to the UFO phenomenon at all?

More questions than answers, I'm afraid. But are they questions worth asking?

For my part, I say yes. I consider them intriguing questions which deserve more serious consideration, by ufologists, historians, and religious scholars, than they have gotten in the past.
However one describes it, Henry Alline had a profound experience that seems to defy explanation, and which changed his life.


Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Paul Kimball & Holly Stevens on Atlantic Filmmakers

The complete episode from Atlantic Filmmakers in 2009 with Holly and I discussing, among other things, our experiences shooting Ghost Cases.

Paul Kimball

Rough Cuts

The clip above is a rough-cut excerpt from a documentary currently being made by Carol Rainey, entitled "Priests of High Strangeness."

A word about Rainey, and some of the flak I've seen her catch for releasing this rough cut. All of it, as far as I can tell, is coming from people who don't know what they're talking about. As someone who has spent the past decade making documentaries for television, I do know what I'm talking about, so let me say that there is absolutely nothing improper or even unusual about a filmmaker releasing rough cut segments from a film in progress. I've done it myself from time to time. Motivations can vary from trying to drum up interest (and possibly funding), which is part of the business, to putting the material out there to gauge reaction, which might then lead to changes in the direction of the film. There are many other reasons.

Whatever you think of Rainey or her motivations in making the film, there is nothing untoward in releasing advance footage as she has. Judge it for what it is (my take: compelling from a preliminary evidential point of view), and withhold final judgment until the film is complete.

Paul Kimball

Karl Pflock - Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (Part II)

Part two of my interview with Karl Pflock from September, 2001, wherein we discuss ufology, Steven Greer's "disclosure project", and then Karl's views on the Roswell incident, in particular the GAO and USAF explanations for what happened. At the end, Karl offers his view of why he was convinced that extraterrtestrials had visited Earth, despite the fact that he was equally convinced there was a terrestrial explanation for Roswell.

Karl was one of those rare people who take a public interest in the UFO phenomenon and have the intellect, real-world accomplishment, and commitment to the truth to make a positive contribution. Amidst all of the noise, he was a signal.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ghost Cases - The Case of the Baby in the Basement

Here is the complete episode for the Case of the Baby in the Basement from the television series Ghost Cases, which I co-hosted with my friend Holly Stevens. I also co-produced, co-wrote and co-directed the series.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, March 06, 2011

2011 Global Competitiveness Forum - Contact Learning From Outer Space

Here are the presentations from the recent Global Competitiveness Forum held in Saudi Arabia, which featured a panel about ET life ("Contact Learning From Outer Space"), from various perspectives.

Stanton Friedman

Nick Pope

Michio Kaku

Zaghloul El Naggar

Jacques Vallee

Not quite the same as being there, but a fascinating and thought-provoking cross-section of views nonetheless.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 03, 2011

X-Zone tonight

A programming note: I'll be on the X-Zone radio show with Rob McConnell this evening, discussing ghosts (and Ghost Cases), consciousness, and other topics (I think religion may have come up when we pre-recorded this afternoon). I'm in the final segment, from 2 am to 3 am EST.

Paul Kimball

Babylon 5 and the "Ant Analogy"

At its best, science fiction can serve as a populist springboard for ideas, and new ways of thinking. Babylon 5 is among the best science fiction series ever made, and in this excerpt from the episode "Mind War" in the first season, Ambassador G'Kar offers an analogy about extraterrestrial intelligences that mirrors my own thoughts on any ET that may be out there, and how we would stand in comparison to them... thoughts that have been expressed by many others with a far higher "scientific pay-grade" than me, including Michio Kaku when I saw him speak in London in 2009.

Paul Kimball