Madoc
John Fletcher

madocFrom Magonia 6, 1981

About 1170, a Prince Madoc, son of Prince Owen Gwyneth, may, or may not, have sailed west and discovered, (or, after the Egyptians, the Irish, and the Vikings, rediscovered) America. It is possible that lost romances and medieveal geographical texts referred to this voyage, and it was on this, and the secret knowledge of Bristol merchants, who knew of America but wanted to keep it secret because of the Newfoundland fishing banks, that Christopher Columbus set off on his voyage to ‘discover’ America and claim it for Spain. The story went that Madoc discovered America, returned to Wales with the news, and with a group of followers, disappeared into the Atlantic mists, never to be seen again.

The Tudors marked the high water mark of Welsh influence in England. Not only were the Tudors themselves partly Welsh, but they brought to prominence such Welsh families as the Cecils and the Herberts. Perhaps the most famous Welsh man of all in the reign of the red-haired Elizabeth, was Dr. John Dee, cabalist, alchemist, conjuror, antiquary and one-man think tank for the queen.

England was in the midst of her competitive jockeying with Spain for control of the New World, the Spaniards making much of the Pope’s – the ‘papist antichrist’s’ – judgement that the New World should be split between Spain and Portugal. The English were looking for idelogical justification of their imperial adventures and prior proof of ownership.

In 1580, John Dee published his General and Rare Memorials Pertaining to the Perfect Arte of Navigation, which is the first printed reference which we have to the Madoc story. The basis to the British claim to America and the argument for its superiority to the Spanish claim was firmly based on the indisputable historical fact that Madoc had discovered America. Dee, and Richard Hakulyt ten years later, further embroidered the tale by claiming that the Mexican Aztecs were Welsh descendants – drawing extremely dubious parallels between a few Aztec and Welsh words and placenames and referring to several examples in Aztec mythology of white visitors from the East. On such foundations was the British Empire to be founded!

With the new century and the arrival of the Scottish Stuarts and the execution of such Tudor imperialists as Raleigh,
the whole story of Madoc went into abeyance for nearly two hundred years.

Two hundred years later, the relationship between Wales and England was vastly different. Wales was reduced to a marginal colony on England’s borders, a source of income for absentee English landlords, who rack-rented their tenants and imposed increasingly capitalist systems of agriculture upon the feudal workforce. Lacking any more a true native aristocracy and intelligensia as in Tudor times, Welsh cultural identity resided more and more among the self-educated non-conformist small farmers, craftsmen and artisans, whose republicanism and (Welsh) nationalism had much in common with similar movements throughout Europe at the time of the French Revolution – people were to be free once more.

The forces of reaction, however, won out, leaving many of the more outspoken radicals dangerously exposed to persecution and prosecution. If the Old World was not to be saved, many – like the Englishman William Blake – cast their eyes across the Atlantic. Welshmen started to rediscover the old Madoc legends. Somewhere in the world, it was believed, lived Welshmen who not only spoke pure Welsh, but whose society and culture were totally unpolluted and uncontrolled by the English. It became very necessary not only to discover such a society, but to emigrate there and escape the English yoke. A New Wales was to be born.

Reports started to come back to Wales in increasing numbers of a tribe of fair skinned, Welsh-speaking Red Indians. John Sevier, founder of Tennessee, knew they had been the first-comers to Alabama, before other Indians drove them out. Francis Lewis of Llandaff, who was to sign the Declaration of Independence as the New York delegate, was captured by Montcalm in the French War, and turned over to the Indians. He met a Chief who conversed with him in Welsh. The frontiersmen knew them well; Daniel Boone had seen their mocassin prints on the trail ahead. The renegade woodsman James Girty knew so many Welsh Indians that he helped compile a Welsh Indian vocabulary. President Jefferson boasted that his family had come from Wales
and instructed his two intrepid explorers Lewis and Clark to find the Welsh-Indians (two of their men did so!).

There were literally scores of instances of people reporting that they had actually talked to Indians in Welsh. Up through the endless Mississippi-Missouri basin the Welsh Indians were always one tantalizing step ahead of the expolorers. Expeditions were organised and sent out – some were disasters with only a few shattered survivors returning, others came back with detailed reports of sightings and contacts. At home in Wales, among intellectuals and poets there were serious attempts to establish Madoc and his Welsh Indians in Welsh history, and to relate them to the ancient tradition of the Druids and the Bards which a new breed of intellectuals was reviving.

Central to this movement was the genius Iolo Morganwg, inspired poet, prophet, and forger, who virtually invented modern druidism single-handed – with the tradition that the World Truth, known to the Druids, had been passed down from Patriarchal Times within the Welsh nation, and especially amongst its intelligentsia, the Bards. Now Iolo Morganwg, in his inspired writings, was re-releasing this Truth to the world. Iolo had an apparently intuitive perception of the basic intellectual and spiritual forces at work amongst the old Welsh and tribal Celts – a perception that modern scholarship basically agrees with – and a grasp of their functional utility in transforming the starved, neglected and often self-despising Welsh of his own day.

His vision of prehistoric, Druidic Wales, which he described in his poems, and which he claimed to have found in ancient manuscripts, came to him in the vital year of 1791 (significantly enough the honeymoon year of the French Revolution) when millenial expectations were at their height. His work not only inspired the visions of William Blake and the white-sheeted druidism of today, but Iolo became the figurehead in the Welsh Exodus to America and the pursuit of the Welsh Indians.
In all his works he emphasised that the ancient Welsh Bards were, unlike poets in our modern society, who are essentially peripheral and decorative, the rib-cage and spine of the Welsh body-politic – like Homer to the Greeks, or the Old Testament Fathers to the Hebrews. By speaking poetically of practical matters, they were able to fuse the visionary and political in human conscousness, and by feeding both starve neither.

With the suppression of the imaginative, visionary sides of human nature, there is no surprise that it keeps bursting through in the most bizarre fashions. As for example in the phenomenon of Welsh speaking Indians. In the make or break year of 1791, when large sections of humanity thought Heaven achievable on earth, and when many nations, including the Welsh, scented freedom, then the appearance of these Welsh-speaking apparitions is not that amazing.

  •  
    • This article was submitted as a review of the book Madoc: The Making of a Myth by Gwyn A. Williams. It helps to throw a great eal of light on the political, spiritual and social background to the 1904-1905 Welsh revival, and its associated phenomena.

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

John Keel’s ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ – Two Views.
John Rimmer and Alan Sharp

The Merseyside UFO Bulletin was o ne of the first journals in Europe to welcome the work of John Keel, who became a regular visitor to our letters columns. My review of his first two UFO-related books appeared in MUFOB vol. 3, no. 4, September 1970. It reads a little starry-eyed today, but I would still defend the books reviewed here for opening up new ways of looking at the UFO enigma.

For an updated view, see Peter Rogerson’s review of the 1990′s re-issue HERE


THE LIBERATION OF UFOLOGY, by John Rimmer

<< Click on the cover images to order this book from Amazon

John Keel has written a very good mystery story called ‘Operation Trojan Horse’. He has also written a first-rate UFO textbook called ‘Operation Trojan Horse’. Many people will find this completely unacceptable and will criticise the writing of a textbook in the style of a mystery thriller. However in a subject so innately mysterious as ufology this is probably a valid way of writing. Many critics will probably write at great length about a number of errors of fact that appear in this book. Their criticism will be valid, and it is disappointing that these have been allowed to creep into a work of this nature. However, with the present lack of documentation in ufology cross-checking of facts and incidents is virtually impossible. These errors do not, however, invalidate the arguments of the book.

Not the least value of 0TH is the many signposts it plants, pointing out avenues of further research. The highlighting of the neglected flap years of the twenties and thirties should send ufologists rushing to local newspaper archives.

It would be impossible in a short review to give an adequate outline of Keel’s thesis. It would also be unethical, looking at the book as a mystery story, to give away the end. However it is not a whodunit. There is no last minute denouement in the locked drawing room when John Keel points out the guilty party. As Charles Bowen points out in his FSR review: “he cannot write his QED at the end of the exercise”. It is obvious on reading the book that this is not the object. What Keel does demonstrate is something of the nature of the phenomenon. He acts in a way as the liberator of ufology, and in the process possibly destroys it as we know it. Ho certainly demonstrates the inadequacy of the phrase ‘unidentified flying object’. He liberates ufology from twenty-five years of oppression and misunderstanding. Oppression is caused when anything is forced into an enclosure that is too small for it, whether that is a physical or a psychological enclosure. In the past ufologists have thought that they had a fairly clearly designed phenomenon to study. Even those who tended to reject the ETH have thought of ufology in the rather limiting terms of investigating reports of objects seen. Keel demonstrates the inadequacy of these terms of reference by heaping upon this basic de definition an extension that is infinitely greater than the original.

The book begins on familiar territory with the 1960 radar case, and an analysis of straightforward sighting reports. After that however each chapter adds some complexity to the basic phenomenon. By the end of the book the reader’s mind is reeling from the enormity of what has been said. This is possibly one of those very rare books that alters one’s way of thinking about things. It is disturbing to have one’s ideas of reality assaulted so completely as Keel manages in OTH. Many people will find that their only defence against this assault is in total rejection, not only of the conclusions (which is a perfectly valid reaction), but also of the arguments. For example Keel produces evidence upon evidence that many aspects of the UFO problem are deliberate hoaxes by the forces that are the source of the phenomena. This is a conclusion that many will challenge. However, Keel develops this argument with a mass of data, with many incredible correlations, and with a sound logical argument. It is up to his critics to either show a fault in the reasoning, to challenge the evidence by double checking, or to provide an equal amount of counter-data.

An eminent British ufologist remarked that there are only four books essential reading for students of the phenomena: Charles Fort’s collected works, Passport to Magonia and the two Keel books. This selection might be a little Spartan but it accurately sums up the importance of John Keel’s contribution to the literature.

John Keel uncovers a universe of mystery incomprehensible in its complexity. At the same time he demonstrates that this is tied up, often in a ludicrously mundane manner, with normal people. A mystery that is possibly cosmic in extent yet as much a part of human life as the telephone, Cadillac, or even, so help us potato peelings in which it manifests itself. It would be trite to say that Keel knocks over the ETH. He challenges the framework of ufology as we know it, and poses the problem of what happens now. The evidence in the book, quite apart from the conclusions he arrives at, destroys ufology as we know it. To study the phenomenon as it is revealed in OTH and then to consider ourselves ufologists, is rather like attempting to study marine ecology and admitting we are only tadpole hunters. John Keel has liberated ufology. Are ufologists capable of liberating themselves?

It is something of a relief to turn from reviewing OTH to reviewing ‘Strange Creatures’ This is a far more straightforward book, and somewhat slighter. It is of course an integral part of OTH, and should be read in conjunction with it.

In ‘Strange Creatures’ Keel takes a look at all the many weird animals and pseudo-animals that have cropped up throughout the world in various ages. He attempts to distinguish between the apparently physically real creatures that are currently unknown to conventional Western science (although does ‘physically react have any meaning after OTH?) and the imponderably wide range of manifestations that are described by that unsatisfactory word,
occult.

As with OTH a major part of the value of this work is in the directions it gives for new aspects of study. It is a good, scary, flesh-creeping book to be read alone, late at night by the light of an oil lamp with the wind howling outside. It is a very good horror story. It is also an excellent and scientific catalogue of anomalous apparitions. As with OTH many people will find such a combination unacceptable. This however is how John Keel writes, it is purely a matter of literary style. As a final point, both these books have good indexes, which enhance their value as reference tools. This is unfortunately still a great rarity in UFO literature.

 


 

Alan Sharp was considerably less impressed by Keel’s books than I was, and in a later issue (vol. 4, no. 3, Summer 1971) wrote a devastating critique of Keel’s use of scientific date. The title to this piece will be immediately identified by our readers as a parody of the title of a famous north-country folkson, ‘Do you ken John Peel’. For some reason when referriung to this article in his monumental UFO Encyclopedia, Jerome Clark, usually a stickler for accurate transcription, refers to it as ‘Do You Know John Keel?’, for reason we have been unable to ascertain.

 


 

DO YOU KEN JOHN KEEL? by Alan Sharp

A few issues of the Bulletin ago (November 1970) z wrote a short article in which I referred rather disparagingly to John Keel as the ‘King of the UFO Crackpots’, Although I feel that in many respects my assessment, in UFO parlance, was not very far off the mark I should like to apologise to John Keel for such an ungentlemanly expression of opinion. 

The choice of phrase was, however of interest for it turns out that, quite unknown to me, a henchman of Dr Allen Hynek had previously coined exactly the same expression to describe Mr Keel and this, to use the sort of reasoning which Mr Keel frequently seems to use himself, can hardly be without significance. For myself, I do not subscribe to such reasoning and prefer to regard the identity as purely coincidental and arising solely from a similar assessment of John Keel’s contribution to ufological research. 

One result of the correspondence which my remarks — described vaguely by Mr Gary Lesley as “silly” (Letters, MUFOB 4:2) –called forth has been a determined attempt by me to see whether my judgement was at fault and a drastic reassessment needed in the light of a more concentrated study of Mr Keel’s published work.

I know that I tend to have formed, from experience, a not very flattering opinion of journalists for the simple reason that their reports of items upon which I have been well informed have usually proved factually incorrect and slanted to the point where they have seemed to bear very little resemblance to the circumstances as I know them.

Lest any injustice has been done because of such bias on my part I have had another look at the book Operation Trojan Horse with particular attention paid to those matters about which I can claim to possess a certain expertise. I must say at the outset, though, that my overall impression still persists, that the book is a typical example of journalistic ufology such as one has met so frequently before in the literature. Its accounts of events are frequently even usually, sketchy and imprecise and the logic tenuous or non-existent. Hence the conclusions which its author draws, such as they are, tend to be erroneous. It is therefore scarcely surprising that John Rimmer (MUFOB 3:4, [above]) seems to have found the volume rather difficult to review.

To my way of thinking the book is not even good journalese, for the reason that the narrative is disjointed and confusing. A good deal of space is devoted to a more-or-less ‘normal’ account of various UFO reports after which Mr Keel abandons this approach and plunges his readers into the questionable world of fairies, demons and other similar figments of the imagination. Even from that viewpoint, however, the treatment is not a scholarly one which the reader might respect but a story writer’s presentation of the alleged manifestations of occult forces and the like, which is about as convincing to this reader as the fantasies of Denis Wheatley. To an extent this is perhaps inevitable in a popular work but it is certainly not to this writer’s taste. He happens to have spent the

 past year investigating certain properties of meteorites and moon rock and is well aware of the need for constant vigilance against the facile invocation of way-out hypotheses to explain unwelcome facts whilst at the same time attempting to preserve an open mind receptive to the impact of novel ideas. It is the writer’s opinion that John Keel is over eager to dump the ‘UFO phenomenon’  as he calls it, into the realm of the supernatural and too ready to discount more mundane explanations of at least a goodly proportion of sightings, ignoring for the moment the possibility  extraterrestrial visitation, which the writer has never regarded as very likely.

As an example of this uncritical and biased rejection I think it is instructive to consider the subject of meteors and meteorites upon which Mr Keel is obviously ill-informed. There are, travelling around the Sun in orbits of various eccentricities, pieces of solid matter varying in size from particles of dust to objects having a mass of many tons. These are termed meteoroids and grade upwards into bodies which are large enough to be telescopically visible and are known as asteroids. Any such meteoroids which encounter the Earth, survive passage through its atmosphere and reach the ground in megascopic form are called meteorites.

A meteor is merely a streak of light produced by a small meteoroid in its passage through the atmosphere and is not a meteorite, It is thus incorrect to say, as Keel does (p 165): “Yet there are thousands of meteor falls annually.” He also quotes (p 150) a Lt. Col. Rolph as saying: “A meteor can’t be tracked by radar — but this thing was,” and fails to question this incorrect statement. A vast amount of information about meteors has been obtained by just such means, due to the reflecting capacity of the ionised gases which omit the light constituting the optically visible meteor. By this reflection of radar waves meteors can be ‘seen’ in daylight as well as by night.

The object under discussion in this instance was evidently a bolide and could have been associated with a meteoroid large enough for some portion of it to have survived and reached the ground intact. Unfortunately the information given by Keel is of the kind which causes the serious ufologists so much trouble. He says: “Shortly afterwards (referring to the reddish object which was seen moving in the sky on April 18th. 1962) an unidentified circular object landed near a power station outside of Eureka, Nevada, and the lights went out for thirty minutes.” (Evidently a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc.)

Was the connection established? Did someone see this thing land? Was it analysed? What did it look like, apart from being ‘circular’, whatever that means? Where can one find the relevant details? Why was it ‘unidentified’?

This example is typical of so many descriptions in Keel’s book and in the literature generally. The authors may (or may not) know the answers, but the reader justifiably feels that one case properly documented would be worth a dozen such nebulous reports.

Why Keel should doubt the validity of the bolide identification in this case and inveigh against the “scientific attitude” whatever he means by that, is a mystery to which only he can give the answer.

“What are these ‘things”, he asks, “and why don’t we know more about them?” I suggest that he should replace the “we” by “I” and become a little more acquainted with the subject of meteoritics — and with astronomy generally at the same time, for that matter. He is very keen to make rude remarks about astronomers and other scientists, but is apparently very reluctant to become even reasonably conversant with the plentiful supply of relevant scientific literature.

Meteorites can be broadly classified into irons, stones, and stony-irons; or siderites, aerolites and siderolites. A rather rare form of aerolite or stony meteorite is the type known as carbonaceous chandrite, Mr Keel describes the arrival of fragments of such a meteorite at a place called Pueblito do Allende at 1.09 a.m. on the morning of February 6, 1969. Scientists “scurried” there to collect the pieces and identified them as ‘Type 3 carbonaceous chondrite’, translated by Keel to clean “metal fragments containing carbon, which is s suggestive of organic (living) matter”. According to Brian Mason, an authority on meteorites and curator of mineralogy at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, carbonaceous chondrites can “be readily distinguished from all other meteorites by their peculiar characteristics — dull black colour, friability, generally low density, lack or almost total lack of free nickel-iron (my italics) (Meteorites p96, Wiley, 1962).

Type 3 carbonaceous chondrites are largely composed of olivine with necessary pigeononite., not of metal. Olivine is a common rock-forming silicate mineral with the composition(Mg, Fe)2 Si O4, with Mg in excess of Fe, and pigeonite is another silicate mineral having the composition (Ca, Mg) (Mg, Fe) Si2 O6 with even less iron. The iron is, of course, chemically combined. The carbon content of the famous Orgueil carbonaceous chondrite occurs in the 6.4%o of black, insoluble carbonaceous residue which has the composition c 63%, H 6%, 0 31% and is, according to Mason (ibid, p 99) “presumably a complex polymer of high molecular weight”.

It is, of course, ‘organic’ in the sense that it is a carbohydrate, but this is a chemical description with absolutely no ‘living’ connotation. In fact Mason goes on to say: “A solution of the organic material in benzene showed no optical rotation, an important observation indicating that the material was formed by non biological processes”.

There is no reason to suppose that the organic matter in the Pueblito de Allende carbonaceous chondrite was substantially different from this.That Keel should choose to mislead his readers in so blatant a fashion whilst displaying his own ignorance of natters meteoritic is not only manifestly unfair to people who have purchased his book in good faith but also cannot fail to arouse grave doubts about the validity of his thesis generally, doubts which are demonstrably well-founded.

There is the matter, for instance, of the strips of aluminium foil which Keel mentions on page 175 remarking, “These strips are almost identical to the chaff dispensed by, high flying Air Force planes to jam radar, yet they do not seen to be related to AF operations at all”. The first thing to note is that the material which Keel describes need not have been used for the particular purpose he mentions. Another application, for example, is for radar tracking in connection with meteorological work. The fact that some of the foil “is often found under trees and on porches” would only be remarkable if winds had mysteriously ceased to blow, which to the best of my knowledge they have not.

The Condon Report (Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects) deals with the subject of “Space-grass” quitespecifically on page 90, where a sample is mentioned as having been produced — on Earth — by the Foil Division of Revere Copper and Brass Inc., Brooklyn, New York. It would be difficult to be more specific than that. What Keel means to imply by use of the word “almost” is uncertain, but it does not strengthen his case, as one can see by reference to page 175 of his book.He says: “Another exploding UFO, this one at Ubatuba, Brazil in 1957, left behind particles which were nothing but pure magnesium”. The word ‘almost’ might well have been inserted in this statement as John Harney has demonstrated in his article ‘The Ubatuba Magnesium’ (MUFOB 4:2, p 19).

It seems that Mr Keel is not averse to deliberately attempting to mislead his readers when it suits his purpose to do so. There is much more that one could write along similar lines concerning Operation Trojan Horse, but this would savour of using a bulldozer to demolish a house of cards.

Whilst I have every admiration for people who write good books and bear John Keel no ill-will, I would like to suggest that he does something to remedy his lack of scientific knowledge before he commences his next literary work on the subject of unidentified flying objects. A thorough perusal of the Condon Report would be a good starting point and would help to eliminate some of the grosser errors in his text.

 

 


Abduction Absurdities
Willy Smith

From Magonia 52, May 1995

Dr. Willy Smith discusses John Mack’s new book with a passing Devil’s Advocate:

One more book (1) about abductions has appeared, but this time with a significant difference: the author is a distinguished Harvard psychiatrist and has the background and credentials that previous dilettantes (2,3) lacked. Thus, one would expect a more precise and scientific presentation of a controversial issue, establishing a solid platform from which a rational treatment of the subject matter could be launched.

Unfortunately, that is not the case, perhaps because the topic itself is unameanable to scientific discourse. As in previous attempts, all we find is a collection of anecdotes obtained mostly by hypnotic techniques from witnesses whose personalities, occupations, training and position in our society are barely sketched. The narratives are interesting, unusual, bizarre more often than not, with an abundance of detail that, instead of increasing their ontological validity, only emphasises the absurdity and physical impossibility of what we are told.

As in previous works, not a shred of evidence is provided to substantiate the stories, even in instances where apparently corroborating information could have been obtained. As one of Mack’s critics (4) has perceptively indicated, the author is content with whatever he obtains from the witnesses in his office and does not go into the real world to validate his contentions. In fact, one has reason to doubt that he has done his literature research with enough care, when, for instance, he uncritically repeats (Ref.1, p.12) that abductions have taken place in 17 countries, among others, France, Spain and Uruguay. The truth is that only one totally discredited abduction report in France is found in the literature, that the three or four cases allegedly occurring in Spain are very dubious and that – as far as I know – no abduction has ever been reported in Uruguay. The reality is that the abduction aspect of the UFO phenomenon occurs typically and predominantly in the US, not surprisingly considering that its main advocate, former artist Elliott Budd Hopkins, is a resident of that country.

The absurdities

From the viewpoint of the hard sciences there seem to be two options mutually exclusive: either the whole abduction structure has no foundation in reality, in which case we are wasting our time, or, alternatively, the stories reflect real events, although at times they may be somewhat distorted and diffuse. We will assume that the latter is true, and see where reductio ad absurdum will lead us.

(a) Provenance: The basic tenet of Hopkins et al.’s ideas is that we are presently visited by aliens whose world is coming to an end, and who are engaged in an all-out effort to save their race from extinction by applying their more advances genetic knowledge to engineering a hybrid race that eventually will take over Earth.

Since our spatial probes have visited most of the planets able to support life in our solar system and found no indication of life, it follows that the aliens must come from exterior space, bringing into focus the difficulties of interstellar travel. The abductees describe huge crafts, sometimes of the order of hundreds of yards, with large crews of at least two types of aliens, which have to be fed and lodged. But more important, the energy requirements to displace such a craft through distances of the order of light years would be staggering. Yet, we are led to believe that more than one of those interstellar crafts prowl in our atmosphere.

What does the Devil’s Advocate say about this?

DA:

  •  i) The crew could travel in suspended cryogenic animation, thus requiring few provisions;
  • ii) fuel could be obtained by sweeping hydrogen atoms from space while travelling;
  • iii) or, the ship could transit through a white hole, except that the magnitude of the gravitational forces would make survival impossible;
  • iv) a planet threatened with final obliteration would not hesitate to use all the available resources in a last interstellar fling, or even to mount expeditions to several neighbouring stars of the right spectral type; but it would be against its interest to send all crafts to the same destination;
  • v) the aliens arrived in the solar system a long time ago (ref. 1, p. 227) establishing a base on Mars (don’t forget that alleged head there!) or on the moon, and have to travel only short distances, an easy feat that even we, with our chemical fuels, can perform.

Only (v) above has some merit, but then the expectation would be to see smaller crafts better adapted for the Earth-Moon milk run, contrary to the data. The first absurdity is thus firmly stated.

(b) The familiar aliens: Since the pioneer work of artist E B Hopkins, passing through the entertaining book of historian Dr David Jacobs, and terminating with the respectable efforts of psychiatrist John Mack MD, we have been confronted with a parade of aliens having some surprising common characteristics: i) they are overwhelmingly humanoid, exhibiting two arms, two legs, one head, two big wrap-around black eyes, and the rudiments of mouth and nostrils; and ii) they move unencumbered in the Earth’s gravitational field, without requiring breathing apparatus.

Probabilistic considerations indicate that it is quite likely that among the large number of stars which form the galaxy, many will have the correct conditions to harbour planets capable of supporting life. But life, as we know it, is possible only within a very narrow range of physical parameters, and a small percentage change, say in the value of the solar constant, would wipe out life from our planet. Consequently, humanoids as described by the abductees must come from a planet almost identical to Earth, another absurdity. Such a planet indeed can exist, but can be anywhere in the galaxy, and the question is: why would the aliens select our insignificant star in a remote galactic arm as the destination of their quest for a new home?

D.A.: If the aliens reached the solar system many millennia ago, and settled in a base on Mars or the moon (say), they had a long adoption period, and only in modern times were capable of implementing their genetic plans.

(c) Alien multiplicity: The aliens described by the witnesses studied by each researcher (Hopkins, Jacobs, Mack) might be similar in form but the three authors make quite clear that their attitudes toward the abductees are remarkably dissimilar, although their genetic efforts seem to be the same.

We can safely reject the notion of three groups of aliens from the same remote planet, but having diverse philosophies, not only because of its absurdity, but also for the fact that the aliens described to each specific researcher seem to have the same attitude in spite of the random witness selection process.

D.A.: The descriptions of the aliens seem to be similar, thus establishing a common origin, which could be even a single planet, but might equally well result from the fact that latter-day abductees have unquestionably read previous books (Hopkins, Jacobs) and have subconsciously adjusted to the pattern.

Each abduction book is the end product of the interaction of a certain group, the abductees, with one specific analyst. An exact statement of the protocol is not given, but since the hypnotic sessions were lengthy and extended over many months, the influence of the
analyst is not only expected but unavoidable. This influence is not reflected in the physical descriptions of the aliens, but in their moral and ethical attributes, mirroring the political or other bias of the authors. While Jacobs’s aliens are indifferent to issues not related to the breeding activities, in the words of one critic (5) “the abductors have the same relationship to abductees that laboratory technicians have to white rats”. Mack’s witnesses are terrified by the entities, which inflict intense physical pain and torture with sadistic unconcern.

This dichotomy is an absurdity. For if the aliens have a common provenance and a common operational goal, it would inflexibly control their behaviour in all cases. Thus, the diversified perception of the entities by their victims, not randomised but sorted out by researcher, only decreases the potential reality of the abduction experiences.

devil

 

The aliens are by far more advanced than we are in biology and particularly in genetic engineering, and have no difficulties in inter-species breeding, as shown by their activities, which otherwise would be senseless. It is anthropomorphic to attribute to them our own limitations.

 

 

(d) Technical contradictions: The abduction researchers have asserted that the aliens are able to penetrate solid obstacles such as walls, (6) specifically during the initial stages of the events. There is no evidence for this except the testimony of the witnesses, but when one abductee arrives at the waiting craft, she is brought inside “through a hole in the floor”. (7) When the same victim is ready to be returned, the floor “sort of disintegrates beneath us”, (8) which is not the same as penetrating solid matter.

The main and apparently only objective of the aliens is the creation of a hybrid race, and to that effect they have mounted a vast operation to obtain sperm and ova from human victims, selected at random and transported to their ship(s) for the purpose. This implies not only a great deal of effort, but also entails a definite operational risk of detection. Yet, the same ends could be obtained by raiding a sperm bank or similar facilities where the desired items are stored without stringent security. This would be easy to accomplish by aliens capable of transversing solid walls, and yet, we don’t see any signs of such activity.

D.A.: The aliens endeavour to keep their activities covert, and the sudden disappearance of stock from a sperm bank would undoubtedly trigger an in-depth investigation. Forensic examination of the place would reveal the visit by non-human entities, something the aliens can’t afford. Besides, time is on their side, and their present method is less likely to attract attention, as so far there is no incontrovertible evidence of the abductions.

Alien visits to specific indoor spaces are sometimes a daily occurrence, as was the case with Melissa Bucknell, Dr Jacobs’s star witness. (9) An attempt was made to record the event using a TV camera, but it failed, as could be expected considering how easy it was for the aliens to circumvent the trap. It would have been a completely different story if someone had thought about doing an in-depth forensic sweep of the “scene of the crime” after the fact. Yet, absurdly, this was not done, perhaps because negative results would have been the kiss of death for abduction research.

D.A.: Indeed, immediate examination of the location of an abduction by forensic techniques could provide incontrovertible proof of an alien presence in a room But the staggering cost indeed was and is a powerful deterrent. Perhaps the Fund for UFO Research should consider setting aside the necessary resources and have them available at once if the occasion presents itself again.

(e) Craft size and multiple humans: Abduction researchers (Hopkins (10), Jacobs (11)) have repeatedly asserted that the crafts described by the witnesses are extremely large and display a constellation of lights. The huge dimensions are confirmed when the abductees tell the investigator that they were taken into gigantic rooms, with hundreds of tables where they saw other humans, “between one hundred and two hundred”, on whom procedures were being done (Mack (12)).

The absurdity of such a possibility is twofold. First, a large illuminated craft hovering over a fixed location for the duration of the procedures – which we are told is of the order of an hour or so – hardly would have escaped detection not only by the public at large but by the authorities monitoring our air space. And second, if the craft remains at a fixed place, the simultaneity of the procedures for ‘a hundred or more persons seems to demand that the abductees were taken from a limited geographical area, again an event that could hardly go unnoticed.

D.A.: The craft doesn’t have to remain stationary at a given location, but moves continuously to lift and return the abductees. If the lights are off, and the aliens have stealth technology, those motions will not be recorded by radar, and their chance of escaping detection is excellent.

The absurdity is then in the scheduling. To collect and return each abductee of necessity requires some time that, from the given narratives, one could estimate at two minutes, each individual at a different location. Thus, 100 abductees demand 200 minutes, to which a prudent man would add a transit time between stops, say another 2 minutes, for a grand total of 400 minutes, or more than 6 hours, just for the logistics of the operation. No matter how we look at it, the concurrent presence of one or two hundred abductees in a single room in an alien craft is almost a physical impossibility.

The hybrid question

According to Hopkins et al., we are being visited by one or more alien races in decline, whose purpose is to shore up their genetic pool by using the human reservoir. The abductions are aimed at obtaining sperm and ova for hybridisation processes.

Two things do not seem to fit this hypothesis. First, in the accepted view of present-day science the issue of mixed species is not fertile, and thus the resulting human-alien hybrids would not represent a definite solution for the long-term survival of the aliens. But perhaps the real purpose is different as, for instance, just to create a work force which could easily adapt to local conditions and perhaps eventually melt into the earth’s population and go undetected. This would explain the need for the continuous aggressive programme that the abduction experts believe is taking place.

The second point is just an observation. In subsequent visits to what are apparently the same craft, the abductees are often shown human-alien babies which are their own, but no mention has been made in the published material of full-grown hybrids. There are two possible explanations for this omission: the alien breeding programme is failing, and babies do not reach adulthood or, on the contrary, the programme is a success and the grown-up hybrids are shipped elsewhere to do what they were designed to do in the first place.

I am not a biologist and only offer the above suggestions for completeness, in an attempt to give sense to those relentless activities which the abductionists believe are covertly taking place in our midst.

D.A.: The aliens are by far more advanced than we are in biology and particularly in genetic engineering, and have no difficulties in inter-species breeding, as shown by their activities, which otherwise would be senseless. It is anthropomorphic to attribute to them our own limitations.

ConclusionsThe absurdities loom in spite of efforts by the Devil’s Advocate to eliminate them, a clear indication that the interpretation given by the abduction experts to the bizarre narratives of their clients must be ontologically incorrect. Until such a time when and if physical evidence of the abduction phenomenon becomes available, those events have only anecdotal value at best, although the many books on the topic, even if of dubious scientific value, make entertaining reading and are a source of revenue for their authors.

References:

  1. MACK, John E., Abduction, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994
  2. HOPKINS, Budd, Missing Time, New York, Marek Publishers, 1981 and Intruders, New York, Random House, 1987
  3. JACOBS, David M., Secret Life, New York, Simon & Schuster. 1992
  4. CLARK, Jerome, ‘Big (space) Brothers’, International UFO  Reporter, March/April 1994, p. 7
  5. Reference 4, p. S. col. 2
  6. Ref. 1, p. 170: “she described passing through her window, the porch and a tree” riding the beam of light.
  7. Ref. 1, p. 170
  8. Ref. 1, p. 174
  9. Ref. 3, p. 258
  10. HOPKINS, Budd, ‘The Woman on the Bridge’, MUFON UFO Journal,  298, December 1992, p. 8. Since the alleged witness (known only as Janet Klmble) “stated that it was wider than the size of the building”, an estimated diameter of 100 ft is conservative.
  11. Ref. 3, p. 82. “Abductees describe UFOs that range In size from thirty-five to hundreds of feet in diameter.”
  12. Ref. 1, p. 182. ‘Catherine’ was led naked into an enormous room “the size of an airplane hangar”.

 

Roswell: The Search for the ‘Real’ UFO
John Harney

Magonia 41, November 1991

Most European ufologists have long since given up naive interpretations of UFO reports in favour of psychological explanations. The Americans, however, are not satisfied with this; they want the space aliens and they are determined to persuade us of their reality.

For many years they have argued that many abduction cases are real experiences — not real in the sense that the abductees really believe the events happened to them as reported, but interactions with real extraterrestrials (ETs). Yet another book on this theme by Raymond Fowler, about Betty Andreasson, has recently been published. (1) The theme and general treatment will be too familiar to most of our readers to be worth summarising here. But another recent book, by Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, marks a new approach to the ETs. (2)

This book is about the Roswell incident of July 1947. Much nonsense has already been written about it, but Randle and Schmitt have made valiant attempts to cut out the lies and fantasies, and to try to arrive at the truth by tracing and interviewing as many witnesses as possible, as well as searching contemporary newspaper reports and other written records. Their work is very far away indeed from armchair ufology, as a great deal of time, money and effort has been invested in it.

The official explanation appears to be that some wreckage picked up on a ranch near Corona New Mexico, was, after some initial confusion, identified as a weather balloon with a radar reflector attached to it. The authors argue convincingly that this explanation is absurd, and was advanced to conceal the true nature of the wreckage. So far, so sensible. But the authors go on to insist that the wreckage was that of a crashed saucer from some other planet, which contained pilots, of the type generally known as the Greys.

Now there is nothing inherently absurd in the idea that a piloted device from another planet might crash while surveying the Earth. The reasons why such stories are not generally taken seriously are: the lack of physical evidence; and the rather incoherent nature of the reports of such alleged incidents. The reports investigated by Randle and Schmitt concern two apparent crashes. The first lot of wreckage to be discovered was scattered in small pieces over a large area; the second crash site was allegedly found a few days later, a few miles south-east of the first one. This consisted of a somewhat battered saucer with the decomposing bodies of three (four?) ETs lying beside it.

The weather balloon explanation was released before the discovery of the second site, apparently in an attempt to damp down the excitement caused by the initial official news release announcing that a ‘flying disc’ had been recovered. To avoid getting hopelessly confused, it is convenient to consider the two crash sites separately. The wreckage was said to have been taken to Roswell, then flown to Fort Worth. There a reporter was invited to take pictures of wreckage scattered about the office of Brigadier General Roger Ramey.

Reporters were told that this wreckage was the remains of a weather balloon rig. It certainly looks like a device known as a corner reflector – the pieces are the right sizes and shapes – although why it has apparently been trampled on and torn to shreds is not made clear, even though it is a rather flimsy object. Now, unlike most photographs concerning UFOs these appear to be genuine. If the stuff which appears in the photos is the same stuff that was brought from Corona to Roswell and then flown to Fort Worth, then one wonders what all the fuss was about. Major Marcel stated, many years later, that some of the original stuff was laid out in Ramey’s office, but while he and the general were out of the room for a short time, someone switched it for the ruined radar target. Unfortunately, Marcel is also said to have stated that the stuff he was photographed holding in Ramey’s office was the real stuff. (3)

Also, according to an interview published in Mufon UFO Journal (4), Colonel DuBose (Ramey’s chief of staff) said that the wreckage was not switched, and the genuine stuff appears in the photographs. The weather balloon cover story was devised later. If this is true it means that the saucers are cleverly designed to assume the appearance of battered weather balloon rigs if they should crash. There are numerous other disagreements, but all those who claimed to have been involved in the recovery of the wreckage stated that there was a great deal of it, far too much to have been something attached to a balloon.

There is even more confusion over the authors’ attempts to unravel the reports of the bodies of ETs recovered from a second crash site, a few miles from the first, according to their findings, but much farther away according to other accounts. The controversy over where the ETs were found, and in what condition is continuing, with the recent publication of details about a new witness to the alleged incident.(5) According to the Randle and Schmitt version there were three decaying bodies; and according to the other versions there were four ETs, two dead, one badly injured, and one uninjured. Descriptions, apart from minor details, fit in with other accounts of the ‘Greys’, as described in various American abductee stories.

So what really happened at Corona, New Mexico, in July 1947? Randle and Schmitt argue that an alien spacecraft with ETs aboard crashed, and that the bodies and widely scattered debris – all of it – were recovered by the US Army, taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and that this evidence has been kept under conditions of close secrecy from that day to this. The authors give evidence of incidents being kept secret for many years, but these concern matters over which the government has some control, such as the testing of military aircraft or weapons. In the case of visitors from outer space, they might hush up such an incident only to have the aliens landing in Washington next day asking for the bodies to be handed back.

The authors’ efforts should not be belittled, though. They have obviously tried very hard to get at the truth of the matter, and they intend to continue their work. If they could put the ET to one side and try to look for more reasonable explanations of this incident, they might eventually find the true, but perhaps not very exciting, solution to the mystery.

——————————————————————-

References

  1. FOWLER, Raymond E. The Watcher The secret design behind UFO abductions. New York, Bantam Books, 1991
  2. RANDLE, Kevin D. and SCHMITT, Donald R. UFO Crash at Roswell. New York, Avon Books, 1991
  3. SHANDERA, Jaime H. and MOORE, William L,’3 Hours that shook the Press’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 269, September 1990.
  4. SHANDERA, Jaime H. ‘New Revelations about Roswell Wreckage: A General Speaks Up’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 273, January 1991
  5. O’BRIEN, Mike ‘New Witness to San Agustin Crash’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 275, March 1991

                                    

These books may be ordered from Amazon by clicking on the cover image

Ghost Writers; A Brief Overview. Peter Rogerson

From Magonia 11, 1982

ghost

Ghosts are making a belated academic comeback, with officially sponsored volumes by the Folklore Society (1) and the Society for Psychical Research (3), and a detailed social history (2). So I take this opportunity also to review some volumes which fell through my fingers first time round.

That academics and journalists are both fascinated by ghosts is good testimony to their continued presence in our minds. As Finucane shows, ghosts have a pedigree going back to Greek and Roman times, a point also made by W M S Russell in the Folklore Society symposium. Russell suggests that a culture’s perception of its ghosts depends on its funeral customs; people who bury the dead portray concrete ghosts – ‘raw head and bloody bones’. An excellent Icelandic example of this is provided by Hilda Ellis Davidson, in which the revenant comes from the grave to claim person after person to join the legion of ghosts, as in east European vampire legends. This is symbolic of plague and other epidemics claiming victim after victim. Those who burn the dead envisage smoky, hazy spirits who drift across consciousness.

Finucane traces the evolution of the ghost through various stages of Christian theology. In medieval Christianity, ghosts were far from the marginal entities they are today. They were integral parts of society, enforcing its codes, demanding that justice be done, that debts be paid, that remains be buried properly and that harmony prevail among surviving relatives. Fear of ghosts’ wrath enforced proper respect for the helpless aged. Ghosts could give evidence in court. Most importantly, they enforced the correct theological line, with graphic descriptions of purgatory, heaven and hell. Living and dead were part of an organic unity: Church Militant, Church Suffering and Church Triumphant. (R H Bowyer, in (1), p. 190)

The Reformation abolished purgatory and literally damned all ghosts to hell; spectres refusing to stay there were clearly demons. This theological doctrine clashed with traditional belief and posed the awful dilemma: ‘Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned?’ Hamlet’s ghost may well be reinforcing social mores, but in doing so it leads to demonic tragedy.

The religious persecutions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries created a great crop of ghost stories. The trauma of the shattering of the old order created a vast number of ghostly monks; expressions of grief and guilt, and Civil War, tore the nation apart; the ghostly Roundheads and Cavaliers, crimes magnified by the legion of rival pamphleteers, haunted on. History’s wounds were unforgotten and unforgiven, held in thrall by generations of local gossip and tradition. It should be remembered that in the nineteenth century there were still districts where families voted Liberal or Conservative, depending on which side their ancestors had fought in the Civil War.

The Reformation had damned ghosts, partly because it was trying to escape tradition. A society which perceives the world in fairly stable terms might be able to come to terms with its ‘history’ walking around; a society seeing itself in dynamic terms needed to jettison history – it was now necessary to dispose of traditional customs, producing the tensions which also gave rise to increased witch belief. (8)

There were other effects of the Civil War. The farmers and artisans who joined the Parliamentary armies were exposed to the ferment of new ideas, questioning the whole basis of traditional society. Conversely, the gentry and aristocracy, repelled by ‘the mob’, withdrew physically and intellectually to an unprecedented degree. Both sections of society began to reject ghost stories and traditional religion, while the Anglican Church, re-established and protected by penal legislation, looked on in apathy.

In these conditions Puritans like Richard Baxter, who 60 years ago would have considered ghosts as damnable, now began to use them to conduct the campaign against the modern Sadducees. (cf. (9)) Though the intellectual and literate elite may have despised ghosts, the vast majority of their fellow countrymen probably continued to hold traditional beliefs.

These traditional beliefs were taken into the rapidly growing industrial towns by the masses coming in from the country. Finucane does not cover the ideas of the working classes during this period, but some background can be gleaned from studies by Thomas (10) and Hamson (11).

By the mid-nineteenth century the ghost shad receded into a dim figure on the margins of consciousness. The only message that it had to give was the message of survival itself. Ghosts receded from society. From Mackenzie (3) emerges a nice picture of the typical Victorian ghost. The Despard ghost was a widow in black – like the maiden aunt or the widowed sister an embarrassing add-ition to the family.

The anonymous Victorian ghost flitting through the house reflected the breakup of the traditional home held for generations. The Victorian family, drifting from one leased house to another, were strangers in their own residences. The servants often had far more intimate connection with the house than their masters; they were part of the local community and its repository of folk history. As Claire Russell points out in the Folklore Society symposium, ghosts are about the living. In the Victorian period houses tended to become haunted because the local community decided that some fundamental vio-lation of the social mores had occurred.

This could range from anything between murder and leaving the house vacant too long. In many cases, ghosts were the expression of the community’s hostility to new tenants, and the tenants’ alienation from their res-idence. Significantly, many modern haunted houses are council houses or rented properties.

Haunts were not the only ghosts: death-bed apparitions, crisis apparitions, fetches and warnings, testified to the uncertainties of Victorian life – the separation of rel-ations sent abroad to colonial fever spots, the rampant infant mortality. Many of the people who became the centre of crisis apparitions had broken social mores in some way. One suspects that many ‘old and dear friends’ from the colonies who appeared to married women, were lovers sent away in disgrace.

Finucane notes the rigid social distinctions that operated in Victorian psychical research: that the middle classes never lied, that servants were timid and unreliable, and that the ‘peasantry’ were unthinking brutes. This led to some embarrassing situations, as in the case of poor Judge Horby, who found he either had to admit to lying or to sleeping with his wife before they were married.

If the psychical researchers turned their backs on the peasantry and their beliefs, the folklorists put them on pedestals. Romantics, rejecting the industrial revolution, dreamed up a fairytale past of noble peasants in little thatched cottages in a green and pleasant land. Such folklorists as the Dane, Evart Tang Kristensen could take seriously any ghost. These included revolving fiery wheels, or the wagon with three wheels which had the power to paralyse other wagons on the road, like modern UFOs. The folklorists and romantics created a market for Gothic horror stories and gibbering spectres.

The traditional Victorian ghost story reflected a sense of the horror beneath the placid surface of everyday life. They were reminders of the thin veneer of Victorian rationalism. It is hardly surprising that, as Julia Briggs points out, the ghost story as an art form fell when that veneer was wiped away in the trenches.
It is hardly surprising, then, that the heyday of the ‘true’ ghost story lay in the period before the First World War. It is significant that more than half the accounts in Mackenzie’s book refer to the period before the War. If ghosts are products of the human imagination’s response to real or imaginary outrages, then how can they be generated by the truly unimaginable outrage?

The modern ghost may well be more extrovert than his Victorian predecessor. Randy spectres fondling young ladies in council houses are all right in the pages of the Sun or the National Voyeur, but are hardly the right sort of company for the SPR. Modern ghosts are often drained of terror completely. The once-grim messengers are now reduced to competition with space-invader machines as tourist attractions in pubs. No longer even dim messengers of survival, perhaps memories of a lost history.

The poltergeist is the truly contemporary ghost, in its element in the age of the vandal. The poltergeist becomes a symbol of the shattering of society’s rules, the voice of the voiceless. The horror of contemporary fiction is now the super polt, heavy with fantasies of omnipotent destructive power. The quiet, old-fashioned ghost, like the spectre of little Johnny Minty, as described by Mackenzie, weeping endlessly for his mother, may pull at our heart-strings; the polts, evoked by Gauld and Cornell (4) or Rogo (6) can still give us the horrors. The emotion evoked by an attack by a poltergeist is the same as that of an attack by burglars or vandals, one of violation. It is this sense of violation of the home as a bastion against the forces of the wilderness outside, the overthrow of the safe rational world of everyday reason and common sense.

It must be said that the pre-poltergeist worlds of many of the victims do not seem especially safe or rational. The family discussed by Playfair (5) were already under the attention of social workers, and other polt families have had pretty severe problems. It is hardly surprising that both ‘normal’ and ‘paranormal’ trickery take place together; they are perhaps different means of expressing the same crisis.

Gauld and Cornell also describe place-centred polts, places which seem to be hostile. The old term ‘boggart’ seems aptly to describe this centre which generates confused multiform hallucinations and strange noises. Once again, is it not to the neighbours and the local community that we should look for reasons why a place becomes labelled ‘off-limits’? The only ‘message’ here seems to be: ‘Fear, fear’; ‘Get out’; ‘Boggart off!’

Ghosts are on the retreat, their role as dispensers of justice replaced by a modern police, their power to communicate across distances replaced by the telephone and television. Perhaps they have now faded forever beyond the reach of psychical researchers; soon the vandals will drive the polts away. Yet if their disappearance marks the end of our capacity for outrage, then we are in deep trouble. Maybe the ghosts of Belsen, of Hiroshima and of Kampuchea should
 howl and gibber and cry out for vengeance.

REFERENCES

1. ELLIS-DAVIDSON, Hilda R and RUSSELL, W M S (Editors), The Folklore of Ghosts. Cambridge, D S Brewer, for the Folklore Society, 1981.
2. FINUCANE, R C, Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts. London, Junction Books, 1982.
3. MACKENZIE, Andrew, Hauntings and Apparitions. London, Heinemann, for the Society for Psychical Research, 1982.
4. GAULD, Alan and CORNELL, A O, Poltergeists. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul,1979. E9.95
5. PLAYFAIR, Guy Lyon, This House is Haunted: An Enfield Poltergeist. London, Souvenir Press, 1979. E6.95.
6. ROGO, D Scott, The Poltergeist Experience. Penguin, 1979.
7. RHINE, Louisa, The Invisible Picture – A Studuy of Psychic Experiences
8. MACFARLANE, Alan. Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964
9. WALKER, D. P. The Decline of Hell, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964
10. THOMAS, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. Penguin, 1973
11. HAMSON, J.F.C. The Second Coming; Popular Millenarianism 1780-1856. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979.
12. BRIGGS, Julia. Night Visitors; the Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story. Faber, 1977

         

Click on the cover images to order these books from Amazon.

 

 

Deep Secrets: Reviewing the Conspiracy Literature. Peter Rogerson

From Magonia 60, August 1997

Shortly before his untimely death our colleague Roger Sandell had planned to write a major article on the growing influence of conspiracy theories and fusion paranoia. If anything, since his death conspiracy theories have come in even further from their ancient home on the wilder shores of politics, into the cultural mainstream. They form the core of such cult television series as The X-Files and Dark Skies, to say nothing of the numerous commercial spin-offs. Recent issues of both Fortean Times and Big Issue, the magazine sold by the homeless, have featured articles ‘proving’ that the Apollo moon landings were faked. 


Peter Rogerson looks at some recent books that point to disturbing trends below this recent wave of interest.   

While I am not in a position to write that major article that Roger would have done, I am taking the opportunity of commenting on a series of books about conspiracy theories and related topics which have recently been published or reissued. Vankin’s is a reissue with a new introduction and comprises a general review of the topic. The compilation edited by Thomas consists of reprints from back issues of the conspiracy-oriented magazine Steamshovel Press. Lamy’s and Parfrey’s are analyses of the cultural and political milieu in which conspiracy theories flourish; Cohn’s is a long-awaited reprint of his critique of one particularly malignant conspiracy theory, and the rest present individual theories. 

Vankin’s subtitle, ‘From Dallas to Oklahoma’, points to the American origin of most contemporary conspiracy theories. While there is a long tradition in American politics of what the historian Richard Hofstander calls ‘the paranoid style’, it was the Kennedy assassination which in the mid-twentieth century brought conspiracy theories out from the fringes of the radical right. While some of these theories clearly involved ‘realistic’ notions of actions by small groups of political malcontents, many showed the classic hallmarks of Manichean conspiracy theories. A contributor to Popular Alienation sums these up well: 

“The need at the root of all conspiracy questing is to find the root of human pain and suffering… which is held to flow out of some central fountain running in rivulets throughout the world. In most conspiracy theories evil is seen as a metaphysical absolute, almost a substance which can poison life through viral contamination”. 

I would summarise the essence of such Manichean theories as the belief that ‘history as we know it is a lie’ (as the opening titles to Dark Skies puts it), a delusion imposed upon us by a malevolent ‘other’. The real history is very different: there is nothing random in history, all is controlled by ‘them’, and all the pain and suffering in the world is caused by the terrible others, who are the incarnation of cosmic evil. They are simultaneously subhuman and superhuman, possessed of preternatural powers and largely undefeatable. The conspiracy theorist is an illuminous, who can penetrate the maze of deception and see ‘them’ for what they are. The theorist is a soldier in the army of the righteous, filled with what Lamy calls millennial rage. 

This line of thought can be seen in the writings of many who present the Kennedy assassination in essentially religious terms; as an American crucifixion, the slaying of the civic saviour by the incarnate forces of evil who have since usurped the land. The powers of the slayers is immense. They can fix all the evidence – the Zapruder film, the body, the autopsy reports – and wipe away all traces of their own guilt because they control everything. 

Their identity varies according to time and place: witches, Christians, Moslems, Jews, communists, capitalists, liberals, humanists, Catholics, Freemasons, homosexuals, scientists, child-abusers, illuminati, Grays, Nazis, multinationals. Sometimes they are protean creatures merging elements, and flowing into each other: Jewish-communist Freemasons, American bankers in the Vatican. 

This protean nature extends to the conspiracies themselves. Kerry Thornley served with Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines and wrote a novel in which the central character was based on Oswald before the assassination. He now claims that both he and Oswald were the products of a Nazi breeding experiment, and that he has been bugged by an implant since birth allowing strangers to know of his sexual experiences. Thus the Kennedy assassination merges with stories of mind control and abuse. Another veteran figure on the fringes of the assassination field, Mae Brussel, daughter of celebrity rabbi Edgar Maggin, shortly before her death in 1988, began to link the Kennedy assassination to an international Nazi-Satanist conspiracy associated with CIA mind control. This point of view is shared by an anonymous Popular Alienation contributor who alleged that the false memory hypothesis was being promoted by the CIA to hide their mind control experiments. 

Mind control and child abuse form the central allegations of TransFormation of America, in which the former wife of a country music entertainer claims to have been sold into CIA slavery by her paedophile father, and been the sexual plaything of several US presidents, the mistress of a senator, and abused by several foreign leaders, whilst also acting as a CIA courier. This collection of allegations is known as Project Monarch, and no doubt we will be hearing more of it. Mind Control is fast becoming central to conspiracy theories, and Jim Keith mentions the rumours surrounding Timothy McVey. The point being emphasised here is that people do bad things because ‘they’ make them do it. This concept forms a sort of secular possession, with Nazi-Satanists and so forth replacing the devils and demons of former centuries. 

There are other trends, and Vankin and Popular Alienation have them to meet all tastes. Vankin notes, for example, William Bromley, who has linked conspiracy theories with ancient astronaut speculation. There is the ubiquitous Lyndon La Rouche who lies at the heart of about half the conspiracy theories going and who has a particular fixation with the wicked British, who are the heirs to a conspiracy launched by a group of renegade Templars led by Robert the Bruce! Then there are the Collier brothers who believe that the press agency joint election reporting service in the USA just makes up the figures. 

The volume of Popular Alienation I have reviewed is a re-print of the bulk of the contents of issues 4 to 11 of the journal Steamshovel Press, along with a selection of extra material. This magazine was originally started by people who saw themselves as part of the Beat Generation, disciples of Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs. It is now a strangely eclectic conspiracy source and I can give no better description of its contents than by quoting from the rear blurb: 

“Abbie Hofman’s death seen as an assassination; the role of President Nixon and George Bush in the death of JFK; Black Holes and the Trilateral Commission… Danny Casolaro and the INSLAW octopus; Mothman, Roswell, Area 51; Bill Clinton and Carol Quigley; the Gemstone File [which claimed that Aristotle Onassis was responsible for the JFK assassination, amongst other things]; anti-gravity; Ezra Pound; Holocaust revisionism; Bob Dylan and mind control…” 

Well, you get the picture. Some of this stuff is possibly true, some of it quite loopy, and quite a lot of it rather sinister. Increasingly those conspiracy theories which used to have a more or less left-wing perspective have become dominated by the agendas of the groups associated with the American freelance militias, which in turn reflect the mixture of macho armed anarchism, anti-feminism and racism associated with the nineteenth century anarchist Proudhon, with a dash of Christian fundamentalism thrown in. 

The conspiracy theories are part of the apocalyptic tradition, they are the signs indicating that the Enemy is on the verge of total victory and only the ‘Saving Remnant’ can stand against it

The general theme of these theories is that the free people of the United States are about to be sold out to UN dominated slavery in the ‘New World Order (an infelicitous phrase used by George Bush, meant to refer to the Pax Americana, but given quite a new meaning by conspiracy theorists). Behind this plot is a mysterious conspiracy, usually referred to as the Illiminati. The original Illuminati were a small, pseudo-Masonic group set up in eighteenth-century Bavaria, dedicated to radical Enlightenment views; a sort of vague populism mixed with sexual liberation. They entered into American politics when they were used as a code word for the Federalist to attack Thomas Jefferson, and others thought to be too friendly towards the French Revolution. Today the term seems to be used as little more than a synonym for any sort of vague elite, or, more sinisterly, as a code word for Jews. 

Jim Keith began his conspiratorial career promoting the Gemstone Files, but has now become a major spokesman for the militias. Black Helicopters over America is a remarkable example of political paranoia. It starts with UFO-like sightings of mysterious black helicopters which first entered the American consciousness in 1973 at the time of the cattle mutilations panic. They have since become a part of UFO lore, and feature as a mysterious, brooding, spying presence in the experiences of abductees like Debbie Jordan and Katarina Wilson. From the late 1980s the helicopters became politicised, as the carriers of the shock troops of the UN invasion; another old fantasy which began in the fevered imaginations of 1960s segregationists who assured their audiences that the UN troops would be Congolese. [For further discussion of the significance and power of the image of the helicopter, see 'The Curious Connection Between Helicopters and UFOs', by Dennis Stilling, in Magonia 25, March 1987] 

Both Keith and Grant Jeffrey display one of the classic signs of paranoia: the inability to accept any kind of evidence which would contradict their views. Both see the UN as being dominated by the communists, rhetoric from the Red-baiting years which has surely been overtaken by events. Probably Cuba is the only country left in the world with a believing communist government, the Confucian regimes of China, Vietnam and Laos merely use communism as a nostalgic slogan. Keith and Jeffrey’s answer to that is that the Reds have not been defeated, they are simply playing possum and just waiting to pounce. The death of devils is surely as hard as the death of gods. (Gordon Creighton’s Flying Saucer Review promotes a similar theory in Britain.) 

For Jeffery the ‘Evil Empire’ is not just a secular enemy, but the very domain of the Antichrist, and he has plenty of Biblical passages – all torn out of context – to prove his point. Like most apocalyptic Biblical interpreters he is unable to grasp the fact that Biblical writers were writing about the events and concerns of their own time, and not some inconceivably remote future. The apocalypticism typified by Grant Jeffrey, born from the imagination of Hal Lindsey and others of that ilk, crops up everywhere. Near-death experience prophet Dannion Brinkley had visions of the Antichrist inaugurating the New World Order, although fundamentalist surgeon Maurice Rawlings sees the NDE itself as part of Satan’s wily attempts to lore us into the New World Order. 

This is the sort of atmosphere in which the militias and survivalist move. Philip Lamy describes their world view as ‘Millennium Rage’, the notion as summarised by Keith in Black Helicopters.., and OK Bomb, that the evil Clinton is about to inaugurate the reign of terror, and all that stands against him are “Conservative pro-Constitutionalists, Christian religious fundamentalists, the second American militia movement…” etc. Lamy, in his important book, argues that these images appeal primarily to those whose lives have been upturned or threatened by social change. 

The conspiracy theories are part of the apocalyptic tradition. They are the end signs, indicating that the enemy is on the verge of total victory and only the ‘saving remnant’ can stand against it. This siege mentality clearly links groups such as the Branch Davidians with the wider militia and radical right community. The survivalists studied by Lamy saw themselves as the remnant in the wilderness. There is an eagerness for a catastrophe which would cleanse the world: a great simplification, the kind of purification extolled in the disaster movies, in which the wicked are thrown down and the righteous exalted in some suburban apocalypse. Lamy places the contemporary apocalyptic tradition in the context of the millennialist currents in American history. This encompassed a range of historical precedents from the benign, meliorative visions of those who saw the American republic itself as a new beginning; the lore of the wilderness (surely a factor in survivalism); the millennialist movements of the Native Americans, such as the Ghost Dance; up to its reappearance in such forms as the Unabomber manifesto and the X-Files.

This brings us back to the visions which I reviewed in ‘Blood, Vision and Brimstone’ (Magonia 53, August 1995), and testifies to the real social power of the rejected folk culture of the ‘New Age’, which, like the term New World Order, itself has clear millennialist overtones. Whether the likes of John Mack or Kenneth Ring might ever be the focus of a millennialist cult such as that of Herb Applewhite, we shall just have to wait and see. 

The Oklahoma bomb was a product of this culture. Jim Keith in OKBomb reviews the rumours surrounding it. Much of the time he raises what seem like sensible points, but eventually falls into paranoid traps. For conspiracy theorists the notion of terrorists from their own tradition is unthinkable, and alternatives were suggested ranging from the claim of one militia leader that it was the work of the Japanese acting in revenge for the Tokyo subway gassing which itself was the work of the CIA. Others suggested it was a government act of provocation, a sort of modern Reichstag fire which could trigger the great UN crackdown; or our old friend mind control, as outlined by Mark Pilkington in Magonia 58. In passing, it has to be pointed out that while in some sense minds are being controlled all the time – by parents, schools, public authority, the media, etc. – there is no evidence of the sort of superhuman mind control as envisaged by conspiracy theorists ever having been, or possibly being, successful. 

If I were to speculate on the motives of the Oklahoma bombers it would be to suggest a compound of propaganda by the deed, and an act of provocation with the intent of trying to provoke the authorities into some ill-judged overreaction and act of repression which would confirm their views and radicalise their followers. 

The post-Oklahoma scene is also discussed in Adam Parfrey’s collection of writings. Although not endorsing the militias, he concludes they have been made the subject of a great deal of hysteria, and that they are no match for the powers of the corporate state. Here he echoes the views of some commentators on Waco: with the old Red Empire gone the American state needs new enemies against which to define itself; whereas for many groups of citizens the state itself has become the enemy. 

The line between tragedy and farce is very fine, and one of the most surreal images in Cult Rapture must be the meeting between the survivalist, ‘identity-Christian’ (and what that means is the subject of a future review) and Presidential candidate for the far-right Populist Party, James ‘Bob’ Gritz (the model for Rambo), and a little old lady in tennis shoes who channels an alarming, nine-foot tall fascist reptilian called Hartoon. Rambo meets Reptilian. Strange days indeed! 

Behind much of today’s conspiracy theories lies the old Big Lie of antisemitism, symbolised by that notorious fraud, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is a sad thought that when Norman Cohn’s masterful tracings of its origins, and the strange Russian rightists who manufactured it by plagiarising Joly’s Dialogues in Hell, was first published thirty years ago, it was a dissection of a long dead literary corpse. This new edition must be seen more as a stake to be driven through the heart of a newly risen vampire, which I have seen on the shelves of the New Age section of Manchester’s Waterstones’, its nakedness hidden by the covers of Behold a Pale Horse or hiding in the work of David Icke. 

The necromancers who have disinterred this foul thing are behind many of today’s conspiracy theories, using them as bait to trawl the youngsters who follow The X-Files and the like. Conspiracy theories throw a film of confusion over history, about which many people are not terribly informed anyway. If you can persuade people that Marilyn Monroe was murdered by the CIA, or if you can persuade them that the Apollo astronauts never really landed on the Moon, then perhaps you can persuade them that there was no Holocaust, and that maybe Adolph Hitler wasn’t as bad as they say after all. 

By working their way into the fears and prejudices of people whose minds have already been prepared by a diet of conspiracy theories, these hate-mongers are likely to find a more rewarding way of spreading their ideas than trawling a few thuggish football fans. We must not let them.


 Books reviewed in text:

       

Click on the cover images to buy the books from Amazon 

  • Jonathan Vankin, Conspiracies, Cover-up and Crimes from Dallas to Waco. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Kenn Thomas (Ed.) Popular Alienation; a Steamshovel Press Reader. Illuminet Press, 1995.
  • Philip Lamy. Millennium Rage; Survivalists, White Supremacists and the Doomsday prophecy. Plenum Press, 1996.
  • Jim Keith. OKBomb; Conspiracy and Coverup. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Adam Parfrey. Cult Rapture. Feral House, 1995.
  • Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide; the Myth of the Jewish world conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Serif, new ed.,1996.
  • Jim Keith. Black Helicopters over America; Strike Force for the New World Order. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Grant R. Jeffrey. Prince of Darkness; Antichrist and the New World Order. Bantam, 1995.
  • Cathy O’Brien and Mark Phillips. TranceFormation of America. Reality Marketing Inc., 1995.

 

He Can remember It For You Wholesale:
Thoughts on Budd Hopkins’ ‘Witnessed’.
John Harney

 

abduction

 From Magonia 59, April 1997

The worrying thing about UFO abduction stories is not that people like Budd Hopkins insist that we should take them seriously – we do. 

Over the years a number of thoughtful articles on the subject have been published in Magonia. Martin Kottmeyer discussed the types of people who report such experiences and their possible subconscious motivations. (1) Kevin McClure expressed his concerns about the effects of the techniques and lines of questioning and speculations indulged in by investigators on children involved in abduction cases. (2) John Rimmer wrote a book in which he showed, amongst other things, how UFO abduction experiences were related to similar, but more traditional, experiences and beliefs, (3) People certainly do have subjective experiences which often seem to involve being abducted by aliens, demons, fairies, or whatever. Such experiences can seem very real to the percipients. They therefore should be heard sympathetically, and if they suffer continuing distress it is perfectly reasonable that some suitably qualified person should attempt to alleviate it.

If Hopkins were advocating counselling or psychotherapy for people troubled in this way and sought to place the notion of abduction by aliens in flying saucers in its social and historical context then we could only applaud his efforts. However, as you all no doubt know, that is not his position at all. He insists that people are really being abducted by real aliens and token aboard real flying saucers.

Now if he were the sort of wild-eyed person who goes around spouting incoherent nonsense – you know, the sort of fellow who persecutes librarians or who comes and sits next to you in an almost-empty bus – then we could safely ignore him. But he is not like that at all. He is well educated, highly intelligent and can call on a wide circle of experts to help him with his investigations. He it was who introduced Dr John Mack to UFO abductions. (4) He has demonstrated, over the years, that he is capable of persuading other highly intelligent professional people that UFO abductions are a physical reality, as well as persuading many people, directly or indirectly, that they really have been and are being abducted. Thus he cannot be safely ignored.

It is therefore advisable to take a close look at his assertions, arguments and working methods, as they are presented in his latest book. The case he discusses caused a great deal of comment and controversy before the book was published, so it is advisable to look at some of the other publications on the subject also.

It is easy to get bogged down in the complexities of the story presented by Hopkins, and to be diverted by the mud-slinging between believers and sceptics which has appeared in various UFO journals, so I propose to concentrate on the two central issues. These are: Hopkins’ assertion that the abduction of Linda from her New York apartment was a physically real event, seen by independent witnesses; and the methods used by Hopkins to enable abductees to “remember” their experiences.

Anyone who had not read the book might assume that Linda contacted Hopkins and told him about being abducted from her bedroom by aliens and taken into a saucer, and that Hopkins then conducted a detailed investigation. But it was not like that. Linda wrote a letter to Hopkins, dated 26 April 1989, which expressed her anxieties about what are obviously not unusual sleep disturbances – waking up, or seeming to wake up, with the feeling that there is some other person present in the room, and not being able to move. The familiar ‘sleep paralysis’ routine.

Linda begins the letter by saying that she has never seen a UFO, but that she has read part of Hopkins’ book Intruders. She also said that she had consulted a doctor about a small bump on her nose and was told that it was cartilage caused by a surgical scar. She become even more worried about this as she insisted that she had never had any operation on her nose. (Not surprisingly, to anyone who has read any abduction stories, this bump on the nose, which Hopkins admitted was “almost invisible” soon become evidence of an alien implant.)

Only a few days after receiving the letter Hopkins interviewed her. He explains that he keeps his interviews informal initially, to put his subjects at ease. Only “when an atmosphere of calm and trust has been established” does he conduct more formal interviews, taking notes or using a tape recorder.

This is all very well, but it means that there is no record of what was said. When Linda first met Hopkins she was obviously aware of his obsession with UFOs and aliens, and it seems not unlikely that he took the opportunity to inform her in more detail of his ideas and theories. Only a few days passed before he conducted his first hypnotic regression session with her. This unearthed a memory of her seeing a strange bright figure or object on a roof outside her bedroom window one night when she was eight years old.

Now we come to the momentous events of 30 November 1989, Linda phoned Hopkins to tell him what happened to her earlier that morning and a meeting was arranged for 2 December during which she told him of being abducted through her window and up into a saucer where there was a table… But wait. Let us look at Linda’s own account of this event, which was published in MUFON UFO Journal. (5)

Linda describes how a “peculiar feeling” came over her as she prepared for bed. “There was a strong presence in the room. Steve [her husband] was snoring away, so it wasn’t him.” When Linda had these peculiar feelings previously she didn’t know what to make of them. But this time -

“I began to feel the familiar sensation of numbness that I’d felt periodically over my lifetime, creeping up slowly from my toes. Only this time, having known Budd and the abductees for some seven months, I knew what it meant.” (emphasis added)

She claims to have seen a strange being, but she does not describe it; she merely says: “…it was there, standing at the foot of my bed, staring at me!” She goes on to say that she remembered white fabric flowing up over her eyes and a sensation of something pounding on her back, then of falling into her bed. So, no abduction, despite having spent seven months being primed by Budd and his abductees.

When she retells this episode to Hopkins under hypnosis, the number of beings increases to four or five, but she still seems unable to describe them in any detail, despite prompting

  • B: [Budd] You said there were four or five. I don’t know what you mean.,.. Four or five what?
  • L: [whispering] Black. They shine. I can see a reflection in them.
  • L: [Linda] Four or five of those things… people.
  • B: What do they look like?
  • L: They’re short. They’re white and dark.
  • B: Are their clothes white? Is that what you mean?
  • L: They look like a lighter colour than the picture screen on my TV set.
  • B: What else do you notice about them?
  • L: [in a quavering voice] Their eyes. Very intense eyes.
  • B: What colour ore their eyes?
  • L:[Whispering] Blck. They shine. I can see a reflection in them

Of course, at this stage, Linda must have known what Budd was expecting and she does not disappoint him. She gives him a story of being taken through the window and into a hovering saucer. She doesn’t have too much difficulty with the details, as these have no doubt been supplied over the previous months by Hopkins and his associates. At this point I think it is legitimate to wonder what sort of account Linda would have given if neither she nor Hopkins had ever heard of UFO abductions and if Hopkins were obsessed with some other interpretation of the disturbing experiences which many people sometimes undergo when suffering from various kinds of sleep disturbances. (We are told that Linda is a chronic sufferer from insomnia, as well as these other problems.)

Take, for example, the case of Dr Arthur Guirdham, a British psychiatrist. One of Guirdham’s patients was a woman who suffered from nightmares. She eventually told him of her ‘memories’ of a previous life among the Cathars, a Christian sect in 13th-century France which was declared heretical and brutally stamped out by the Albigensian Crusade. It so happened that Guirdham already had a fascination with that particular historical episode, and under the influence of his patient he came to believe that he, too, had not only lived a previous life as a Cathar, but had also known his patient in that life. This obsession developed to a stage where he gathered about him a group of people who all claimed to have known one another and suffered together in 13th-century France, and who could help one another to ‘remember’ their dramatic experiences. (6)

Hopkins, though, is not only unwilling to consider other interpretations, conventional or otherwise; he insists that Linda’s story is true because the abduction was seen by independent witnesses. The whole book seems to hinge on this crucial point.

This is where Richard and Dan come in. The letter they wrote to Hopkins claiming to have seen a woman being token out of an apartment window near Brooklyn Bridge by three “ugly but smaller humanlike creatures” in “late November, 1989″ was postmarked 1 February 1991, some 14 months after the alleged event. Commentators have wondered why it took them so long to take action. The answer is fairly obvious; they had only recently learned the details of the story. If, as they claimed, they had noted which window the woman had emerged from, so could easily find out who she was, why did they wait 14 months before getting worked up to a great state of excitement about the incident?

Richard and Dan were allegedly accompanying another person, referred to as the “Third Man” when they had their amazing and unlikely experience, (It is widely believed that this person was Javier Perez de Cuellar and Hopkins refuses to confirm or deny this.) However, they were supposed to be independent witnesses, but it was revealed, in a letter purporting to be from Dan, that they also were abducted. It seems they were instantly transported to a beach where they were confronted by Linda and a group of Greys (the “Lady of the Sands” episode). Hopkins claims to have confirmed this story by subjecting Linda to another dose of hypnotic regression during which (of course) she managed to remember it.

So this left Hopkins without independent witnesses, but in November he received a letter from a woman, referring to an earlier letter which she had sent him in July, This he retrieved from his “box of unopened correspondence” (!). This woman claimed to have witnessed the abduction from her car on Brooklyn Bridge. Hopkins interviewed her but apparently without any hypnosis business, presumably because he didn’t want to find she had also been abducted and lose his only independent witness. Dr John Mack remarks: “This is, to my knowledge, the only documented case where an individual, who was not him or herself abducted, reported witnessing an abduction as it was actually taking place.” (7) It is not true, however. Abductions are sometimes witnessed, in a sense, by others, but they are usually rather unspectacular. For instance, in a case investigated by BUFORA, described by Nigel Watson: “Mr L had no known psychiatric history. The psychiatrist thought that he had been experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations. This was partly based on the testimony of Mr L’s wife who was present during these alleged events, and confirmed that he appeared to be asleep during his ‘contacts”‘, (8)

If we take this idea to its logical conclusion, then our whole world could be an illusion created by the aliens

Hopkins has answers for those awkward persons who ask why only some people had their cars stopped near Brooklyn Bridge and witnessed the abduction whereas others either apparently saw nothing or remembered nothing. He tells us that the aliens control who sees what and who remembers what and when they remember it. Thus all apparent inconsistencies can be dealt with by attributing them to the amazing powers of the aliens.

It does not seem to occur to him that if we take this idea to its logical conclusion, then our whole world could be an illusion created by the aliens. They could also dictate what would or would not be published about them, whether credulous or critical.

Hopkins points out what will be obvious to most readers – the highly theatrical nature of the events described. He is referring to the abduction scene, but there are a number of others, mainly scenes involving Linda, Dan and/or Richard.

Hopkins wants us to believe that the theatricality is provided by the aliens, but others take the more plausible view that it is provided by the abductees, witnesses and investigators. George Hansen, Joseph Stefula and Richard Butler, in a paper circulated among ufologists a few years ago, likened the whole business to a kind of role-playing fantasy game. If we look at it that way, then we don’t have to go along with Hopkins’ assertion that either the story is literally true or that Linda has organised – and paid for – a gang of conspirators to to aid her in perpetrating an extremely elaborate hoax. Both of these alternatives are equally absurd, of course, but Hopkins thinks only the latter one is.

Hopkins was somewhat annoyed by this paper and he wrote a reply to it in which he devoted much space to character assassinations of the trio, with sideswipes at “such dubious personages as Philip Klass and James Moseley”. Apparently anyone who doesn’t go along with Hopkins’ absurd abduction theories, and says so bluntly, is a “fanatic”. (9)

The principal “fanatic” is Philip Klass. Hopkins obviously loathes him. He quotes him as saying to the media that abductees are “little nobodies, people seeking celebrity status” and that this had discouraged some of them from coming forward to tell the world about their traumatic experiences at the hands of the aliens. He also remarks; “Science can only be damaged by the present level of McCarthyite intimidation.” (10) Science? What do the activities and ludicrous speculations of Hopkins and the other abduction enthusiasts have to do with science?

What does Klass, this “… dinosaur in the evolution of public awareness” who “…bares his hatred for UFO witnesses ever more nakedly” (according to Hopkins), really think about the abductees? His views are set out clearly in his book on the subject, published in 1988, (11)

Klass is not concerned with criticising the witnesses, apart from a few of them who are obviously seeking money or notoriety, but with the techniques used by Hopkins and the other abduction investigators. He points out how they have ignored the opinions of professionals concerning the limitations of hypnosis as a method of establishing the truth about past experiences. He discusses their technique of repeatedly hypnotising UFO witnesses until they get the the abduction stories they are hoping for. He gives examples of abductees who later insist that they really did see a UFO but they have no good reason to believe that they were abducted.

Hopkins was particularly annoyed by Klass’s challenges to him that if he really believed that people were being abducted and had any reliable evidence to support these claims then he should inform the FBI. Klass and other sceptics continue to pose awkward questions whenever they get the opportunity.

One of the most disturbing features of the work of Hopkins and his followers is the tendency for children to get caught up in the fantasies. Hopkins seemingly makes no attempts to exclude them from his investigations in order to protect them from ideas and beliefs that could cause them alarm and distress. He is quick to seize any opportunity, Take the case of the nosebleeds, for example.

Nosebleeds? Yes, I’m afraid it’s all rather complicated; perhaps Hopkins thinks that if we are sufficiently bemused and baffled by the complexities we will give up trying to unravel the story and just accept what he reports at his own evaluation.

We are told that Linda woke up with a bad nosebleed in the early morning of 24 May 1992, and was soon joined by the other four persons present in the apartment; her husband, her sons Steven and Johnny, and Steven’s friend “Brian”, who all sat around the living room trying to stem the flow from their bleeding noses. The next day, Linda phoned Budd, who reassured her that “…this was no one’s fault, that if it was UFO-related it was outside her control.” According to Budd, this sort of thing is not unusual: it seems it was one of those things that abductees just have to learn to live with.

Ufologists should spread the word that the UFO abduction game, like certain other activities, is definitely unsuitable for children

A few days later, Budd called Linda back to question her in more detail about the incident. He reports: “Since she said she still remembered virtually nothing but waking up with a bloody nose, I asked about Steve and her sons.” (emphasis added) She then handed the phone over to her six-year-old son Johnny.

Johnny ‘remembered’ the nosebleed incident all right, but of course Budd could not know what Linda had said to the others about the night in question, And there is no testimony on this incredible event from Linda’s husband Steve. It should be noted that there is very little mention of Steve in the book, One gets the impression that he thinks Linda is somewhat neurotic and that Budd is some sort of psychiatrist.

Budd went on to question Johnny about his dreams that night and found that he was dreaming about his imaginary sister, Naturally Budd seized on that and, to cut out the endless details, it developed that this girl was not imaginary after all, but Johnny was constantly being abducted by the Greys and brought to meet this girl, also an abductee.

I find it difficult to read such stuff without becoming nauseated. When I was a small child I suffered from nightmares, but my parents comforted me and reassured me that the monsters in them were not real and that they were only dreams. I believe that most children are treated in this way. Imagine the effects, then, of making it plain to children that not only are the dream-creatures real, but that there is no escape from them. Such an approach hardly seems therapeutic, to put it mildly, but this is the line taken by Hopkins and company. If they can persuade intelligent and more or less sane adults to believe such nonsense, the long-term effects on children hardly bear thinking about.

John Mack goes even further in this respect. Some of his subjects ‘remembered’ not only their abductions right back to early childhood but even in previous incarnations. Thus there is no escape from the Greys, even in death!

What is at issue here is not the sincerity and good intentions or otherwise of the abduction enthusiasts. It is the long-term effects of their work on the people they deal with.

The important question is: What can be done about it? Well, persons active in ufology can do a great deal. They should spread the word that the UFO abduction game, like certain other activities, is definitely unsuitable for children. Magazine editors should eschew the practice of giving fawning interviews to abductee researchers. A particularly sickening example appeared in MUFON UFO Journal where the interviewer of Hopkins takes the attitude of one sitting at the feet of a Master; there is not a single probing or critical question. (12) If abduction believers take part in UFO conferences they should be balanced by others who take a more rational and scientific view of these stories.

Sceptics are not always helpful in the fight against the irrational, ego-boosting activities of abduction enthusiasts. They tend to pursue trivialities, to criticise matters on which scepticism is inappropriate or meaningless, or to carefully dissect writings which were never meant to be taken literally. On the issue of abductions, they should focus on the main point, which is the harm being done to impressionable people by the likes of Hopkins, Mack and Jacobs, egged on by cheering crowds of supporters (most of them sufficiently educated and intelligent to know better) at UFO conferences.

However, until the abduction game results in some tragedy which gains widespread publicity, I doubt if anything much will happen.  

 REFERENCES:

  1. Kottmeyer, Martin. ‘Abduction: The boundary deficit hypothesis’, Magonia, 32, March 1988
  2. McClure, Kevin. ‘Bogeymen’. Magonia, 55, March 1998
  3. Rimmer, John. The Evidence for Alien Abductions, The Aquarian Press, 1984
  4. Mack, John E. Abductions: Human Encounters with Aliens, New York. Ballantine Books, 1995 (revised paperback edition). The dedication reads: “To Budd Hopkins, who led the way.”
  5. Cortile, Linda. ‘A light at the end of the tunnel’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 302, June 1993
  6. Wilson, Ian. Mind out of Time?. London, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1981, pp 35-48
  7. Mack, op. cit., p. 20
  8. Watson, Nigel. Portraits of Alien Encounters, London, Valis Books, 1990, p. 135
  9. Hopkins, Budd. ‘House of Cards: The Butler/Hansen/Stefula critique of the Cortile case’, International UFO Reporter, Vol. 18, No. 2, March/April 1993
  10. Hopkins, Budd. ‘Losing a battle while winning the war’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 314, June 1994
  11. Klass, Philip J. UFO-Abductions. A Dangerous Game, New York, Prometheus Books, 1988
  12. Casteel, Sean. ‘Earwitness: An interview with Budd Hopkins’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 341, September 1998 

Witnessed, the True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions is published in the USA by Pocket Books, and in the UK by Bloomsbury. You may order a copy from Amazon by clicking this cover image:

 

..