Monday, September 30, 2013

The Strange Case of Robert Salas

An account of a recent lecture given by Robert Salas, who contends that he was involved in a UFO incident at Malmstrom AFB in 1967, features a claim by him that I had not heard before, and which casts new light on his alleged UFO experience at Malmstrom and his activities since he began speaking and writing about it in the 1990s.

It turns out that Salas thinks he is an alien abductee. Here is the account as reported in UFO Digest:
After making his case for the cover-up and possible future disclosure, Salas told the story of another personal encounter with the UFO occupants. In 1985, when he lived with his wife Marilyn and their two children in Manhattan Beach, California, he saw a blue light emanating from the living room as he lay in bed. It was an unusual shade of blue and was glowing. He woke up his wife and she also saw the blue light. Salas tried to get up to investigate but suddenly realized he was unable to move.  
"I remember fighting very hard to get my mobility back," he recounted. "I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t move my arms, my legs. I fought and fought. I fought because I had two small kids in the house and, of course, my wife." 
He tried to get Marilyn to help him but she was now unconscious. He saw someone in the doorway that appeared to be wearing a hood and had no discernible face. He next floated off the bed toward the locked bedroom window, which he felt certain they would be unable to unlock. Nevertheless, he went through the window in an upright position and was taken onboard a craft. He was shown a needle, eight to twelve inches in length, which was inserted into one of his testicles in order to collect semen. The pain was excruciating, and when Salas complained to his abductors, the pain suddenly ceased. This was followed by a physical checkup in which his back seemed to be of primary interest. He next remembers moving through a curved hallway and seeing a bright light before suddenly finding himself back in his bed.  
Salas at first had no conscious recall of most of what happened that night. He was able to piece together the experience after working with three different hypnotherapists. A couple of weeks after his abduction, while it was still submerged in his memory, he recalls working in his yard and thinking to himself, I’ve been in space.  
There are other elements in the aftermath of the experience that feel more like a dream or a vision to Salas. He recalls a large, black, oval, glassy eye with a rim around it; Marilyn in a large room being trained and "working" on a large metal box; a large tabletop screen with some sort of plan for Earth, activities and locations; and a doctor dressed in black who looks into a box containing instruments.  
The experience continues to be very real for Salas and he does not doubt that it actually happened. He said he was speaking about it publicly because he thinks it is important to take alien abduction seriously. 
I have taken some stick from James Carlson and others about Salas and the Malmstrom case over the past couple of years because it appeared in my film Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings (view the excerpted video clip for the case here). As I have explained more than once, its inclusion in the film came about not because I thought it was a great case (I did not), but because the UFO researchers I polled thought it was a great case. Subsequent work by Carlson and others has shown that there is no reliable evidence for a UFO encounter at Malmstrom, and I consider the case solved beyond any reasonable doubt.

That leaves us with the question of what to make of Salas. Given that his account of Malmstrom has been debunked, we are are left with only two possibilities. Carlson and others believe Salas has been lying since the beginning, and I concede that this is a possibility. But there is a second possibility: that Salas honestly believes the story he is now telling because he has confabulated events (his confusion caused in part by the hypnosis he underwent in the 1990s), and possibly because he is suffering from some sort of psychological issues. 

Does the "alien abduction" account that he relates above provide further evidence for the psychological angle and the conclusion that Salas, whilst honest, is confused. Or does it indicate that Salas is doubling down on his original story by expanding the lie and looking for a new angle to gin up the audience (a pattern that could be seen with many of the Contactees in the 1950s, for example, or Billy Meier). If I had to choose between the two, Occam's Razor tells me that even though my default position is to believe the best about people, Carlson et al are correct, and Salas is just another genial huckster in a long line of hucksters who present ever-changing stories. But I don't think the alternate possibility can be ruled out, even if it is perhaps less and less likely as his story grows more convoluted.

In the end, however, it doesn't really matter what motivated Robert Salas or what he believes, because the Malmstrom case has been solved (which means that at least in this one case Best Evidence was a success, as its intent was to foster a dialogue and encourage people to investigate the cases further). Robert Salas is now just another act in the never-ending Ufological circus, and the same rule applies to him as it does to the others: caveat emptor.  

Paul Kimball


Ryan P. said...

Your friend list on Facebook must be getting shorter with each day Paul.

Seriously though, keep up the good work!


Todd Hjallmark said...

Raymond Fowler sent me copies of the two email communications below that Robert Salas sent to him in September 1996. It would be interesting to know the dates on which he underwent hypnotherapy. He didn't mention an actual abduction experience in 1996, but he did mention some odd happenings that he experienced (which he doesn't mention in his more recent account. In my opinion, he was merely attempting to establish further UFO-related credibility with Fowler, but I obviously can't prove it. He does mention abduction phenomena, however, so it has some bearing on your article. The email addresses are no longer active, so I included them below.

Subj: Abduction program
Date: 9649-16 02:28:34 EDT


I saw the Abduction TV special on TBS tonight. Just wanted to say l thought it was well done and the people on the show who have been abducted were very credible. I felt a kinship with them because I think I know a little of what they feel about coming forward with their stories at the risk of what othes might think. I am curious about much of it but one thing one of them mentioned in particular. One of them said they had a clock stopped at a particular time.

Have you ever heard reports about being made aware of a particular time on a
recurring basis? I ask because I have sensed that myself. I hope this is not
sounding too goofy but I have had many experiences of being aware of a particular time; 5:55, especially.

l sent you a copy of the unit history on the E-Flight incident. I hope you received it. I haven't heard back from any other crew membes who were involved in the incident since I spoke with them by phone some three-four weeks ago, even
though I have written them letters requesting a response. I think that they are a bit spooked with the prospect of coming forward about the incident. I would very much appreciate any suggestions you might have as to how they might be induced in coming forward. I am still trying to locate any of the airmen who had the sightings.


Subj: RE: More on 5:55
Date: S{9-18 01:39:43E DT


Here's a repeat of the message l sent yesterday:

This is an amazing correlation! What I did not tell you was that l too have
expedenced other numbers lined up on the clock. Although 5:55 has been the
most frequent, it has also happened with 4:44 and 3:33. Sometimes l will wake up from a dead sleep and my attention will be drawn to the clock and I will see these numbers. I am normally a very sound sleeper. Although I don't recall any missing time incidents, I have also had other unusual things happen. Oh, well...

l will take your advice and contact the other crew members again two of them
are ex-colonels and they probably have some lingering allegiance to USAF, which I understand.

l'll keep you informed on any progress.


The dates of his hypnotherapy would have some bearing, I think, in relation to the contents of the above emails. If it was done within the ten years between his new claims and the incident he mentions above, one wonders why he didn't mention it to Fowler; it's evident that he's willing to discuss such things, and in fact he immediately opened up to Fowler about his "amazing correlationl" with the Abduction TV special onTBS. Personally, I think he's grandstanding for Fowler's benefit, but it can certainly be interpreted otherwise. In any case, I don't like it when people keep changing their stories; it's worse, though, when they keep adding new witnesses, and he's done that as well.

Terry the Censor said...

Salas seems to have spliced the Hills' ET exam into a modern bedroom visitation. This strikes me as a naked attempt to establish credibility by conforming his account to the most popular elements.

Anonymous said...

What Kimball claims may be so. Or he may just have some psychological issues or simply be a mouthpiece for the "official" story.

The things is that - as in most of these stories - no one *really* knows. Very, very few people have anything near to a genuinely open-mind. Most just see without being aware of the powerful lenses of confirmation-bias they are viewing through.

Bruce Duensing said...

It sounds as if a psychiatric issue slowly rose to the fore as most individuals do not recognize that this sort of thing does not necessarily effect an ability to perform normal behaviors simultaneously for some time.
A sad case..

Tim Hebert said...

Paul, a very interesting post for all to digest. So the question to ask is if Salas is a liar or frankly suffering from a fixed delusion?

I'm still hedging towards a prank played on him that set the stage for all of this psycho-drama. I've got some degree of evidence that the prank may be more of a reality.

The issue of frank confabulation is professional opinion.

Other than the above, Malmstrom continues to be a vast circular argument...with no meat left on the bone.

Anonymous said...
"What Kimball claims may be so. Or he may just have some psychological issues or simply be a mouthpiece for the "official" story."

There is ufology's default...forget the hard facts, or lack of, and move to the conspiracy side of the aisle.

Pathetic and totally illogical thought process.

Tim H.

Emma said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for an interesting post about Robert Salas. I do not know much about the Malmstrom case, and do not have an informed opinion on Mr. Salas's claims.

Having said that, if Mr. Salas has been hypnotized, then it would not surprise me if his "memories" relating to the incidents he was hypnotized on are unreliable. (Of course, that does not mean that his non-hypnotic memories are unreliable, just the hypnotic ones.)

Mr. Salas may be an honorable person, and believe his hypnotic "memories" completely, but hypnosis can do that to a person. There are people who genuinely believe that their parents involved them in satanic rites and sexually abused them, that they have been abducted by aliens and subjected to vivisection, that they have multiple personalities, and so on, even when those "memories" are not true, and are just the result of hypnotic confabulation.

Even people who have realized intellectually that their hypnotic "memories" are false, still experience them as real memories. (That is how it is with my own case, so I know this from first-hand experience.)

For someone who has not realized that their hypnotic "memories" are false, and who is surrounded by people who support and promote hypnosis as a research tool, they may be less likely to question their "memories", because they feel entirely real.

Is there evidence for the Malstrom case that is not reliant on Mr. Salas's hypnotic memories (as opposed to his non-hypnotic memories)?

Hypnosis has already done such damage to the search for the truth in "alien abduction" cases, even when the researchers concerned were decent people sincerely looking for the truth.

If Mr. Salas is telling the truth about the Malmstrom case, I truly hope that his experience with hypnosis does not derail his credibility in that area as well. It would be a such a shame.


Terry the Censor said...

> Even people who have realized intellectually that their hypnotic "memories" are false, still experience them as real memories.

Very true. I've been looking into this in regards to Betty Hill's dreams. It's called a source monitoring error. There are fascinating research papers out there about this (see Dixon & Vasilescu, "The Truth in Believing a Lie: False Memories," Journal of Experiential Psychotherapy, Vol. 14, no. 1, 2011).

(Pardon my presumption if you already know the science.)

Paul Kimball said...


I think you and I are more or less in agreement here.


Emma said...

@Terry the Censor

Thanks Terry. That is very interesting.

Unknown said...

Why would Mr. Salas swear an oath of truth in front
of the congress of the United States of America and
willing to testify to the truth of this event in Montana?

This is a serious case of divulging the truth and Mr.
Salas has done so and is willing to testify under oath
in front of the congress of the USA.

There will always be debunkers of actual events
which cannot be explained.

Terry the Censor said...

Norm, when exactly did Robert Salas testify before Congress?

ecoecho said...

Paul - thank you so much for actually reading James Carlson's research. I read it and promoted it only and so I suffered the wrath of Robert Hastings. haha. Just as James Carlson did as well.
So the fact that you actually took the time of reading the evidence presented by James Carlson is a rare moment. Most of the interwebs, as we all know all too well, is just based on marketing memes. haha.