Saturday, March 15, 2014

Roger Leir dies

Long-time "alien abduction" researcher Roger Leir has died, ironically in a hospital whilst awaiting surgery on his foot (Leir was a podiatrist). I always thought that Leir was one of the more dangerous of the UFO true believers, because he was conducting surgery on people and removing "alien implants." Anytime you cut into someone, you run the risk of complications, no matter how simple the procedure might seem. Accordingly, you don't do it unless you absolutely have to, an ethical and common sense precept that Leir routinely ignored with his "surgeries" on "alien absuction victims." While the hypnosis practiced by people like like David Jacobs and Derrel "The Alien Hunter" Sims is bad, Leir's implant "research" was far worse. The fact that Sims and Leir worked together for several years created a perfect storm of irresponsibility.

I met Leir a couple of times at conferences, and while on the surface he always seemed sincere in his true belief and could be very friendly and charming, I was convinced that he was in it all for whatever money he could scam out of people, and perhaps the attention that came with being a relatively big fish in a very small pond - witness his part in one of the craziest ideas I have ever seen in the UFO subculture, the attempt to raise money for a feature film so that the sale of the feature film could raise money for a serious UFO research center. 

As I wrote at the time in 2006:
"I have an FYI for Dr. Leir - the LAST way you go about raising money for a research center, if that is your true goal, is to raise the money, and then make a lousy, low budget film, which will almost certainly never turn a profit, and will in all probability LOSE money, as most films do these days. If you're really serious about raising money for this so-called research center, why don't you just raise the money for the research center?"
I then identified what I believed was the real reason that Leir was looking to make a film. "Here's another question," I wrote. "When the budget is finished (and who goes around looking for investors when they don't even have a budget yet??), how much is Dr. Leir going to take in producer fees? Other fees? Corporate overhead?" 

Of course, no movie was ever made, and no research center was ever established. How could it have been? As I said, no-one makes a feature film in order to raise money for a research center. But Leir no doubt pocketed some coin from the suckers willing to suspend disbelief and donate, and he basked in the glow of their support (I know, because I was there when he announced it at the International UFO Conference), so it was mission accomplished.

Leir will continue to have his defenders, and he will no doubt continue to be seen by some as a paragon of serious research, but that shouldn't come as a surprise in a subculture where convicted criminal Wendelle Stevens remained a leading figure until his death (Stevens still has ardent supporters). 

I know that we're never supposed to speak ill of the dead, but that's a social convention that shouldn't apply when dealing with someone you are convinced was engaged in unethical and dangerous practices, as I'm convinced was the case with Leir. I certainly wouldn't have wished Leir dead, but I won't mourn him either, nor will I pretend that he was something other than what he was. In the end my take-away from the news of his passing is this: while his friends and family will undoubtedly grieve, the people whom Leir was cutting into in an effort to convince them and others that they had been abducted by aliens will be better off without him. 

Paul Kimball


Gordon Pow said...

Pretty harsh, Paul. I really have no view on Roger Leir's work, but if there is a possibility that there is such a thing as "alien implants" then the issue should be researched. And to opine without evidence that Leir's only motive in his film venture was to scam money from naïve investors is over-the-top. All you've convince me of at this point is that he had no head for business.

Perhaps you have evidence that you have not provided for this attack on the recently deceased. If not, you owe his friends and family an apology.

Gordon Pow

madjourno said...

Paul K wrote "But Leir no doubt pocketed some coin from the suckers willing to suspend disbelief and donate."

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have written this while he was alive or you could well have been sued.

How do you know WHAT he did with the money?

As for his idea of making a film, it could be argued that this was better than simply asking for money - at least the punters would be getting something extra - or they would be if the film ever got made.

Paul Kimball said...

Actually, Madjourno, I not only wrote it while he was still alive - I told him to his face at the IUFOC that he was full of it, and that I had no doubt that he was either running a scam, delusional, or a sad combination of the two.

Paul Kimball said...


I'm a filmmaker by profession. I know the business, and I know exactly what Leir was up to. There's a difference between having no head for business and running a scam. Perhaps someone should ask this question - given that the film was never made, what did he do with the money that he raised for it?

As for the rest of his work, cutting into people for no good reason is unethical and dangerous. I always considered Leir to be both.

In short, I stand by everything that I wrote.


Kandinsky said...

Hello Paul, I hope you're well.

I tend to agree with the idea that Leir was in it for the money-a grifter.

How else could one explain his association with Derrel Sims? Why else would he inject himself (after the fact) into the claims surrounding that Kumburgaz UFO footage? Self-promotion and financial gain makes sense.

He received a free ride from several names in the abduction field and that, for me, holds its own implications. However, when folk choose to actively support Leir, the *silence* of prominent researchers was also telling.

Seems like every sector attracts grifters, thieves and embezzlers...and yet the idea that some researchers are/were unethical, amoral and predatory is lost on a huge swathe of the paranormal market.

Anyway, take it easy Paul and keep swinging.

Paul Kimball said...

Hi Kandinsky,

Good to hear from you again!

I agree with you 100%. The amazing thing about these grifters is that so many people who should know better don't say anything, even when the misfeasance is obvious to anyone outside ufology (the David Jacobs fiasco is a prime example). But as you say, this isn't a failing unique to those interested in UFOs - all human endeavors have people who will take advantage of the well-meaning but gullible rubes who want to believe and buy into what the con-men are selling. It just seems that in ufology, the credulity of the marks is higher than most other areas.