The John Keel Correspondence

Our first contact with John Keel came in a letter to the Merseyside UFO Bulletin, published in our September 1970 issue, which coincidently contained my review of Operation Trojan Horse and Strange Creatures from Time and Space (see HERE).

Dear John,

The June/July MUFOB arrived yesterday (August 5) and has led me to order new suits (black) for my corps of Oriental-looking aides. I am sending them to England to carry out a kidnapping operation. You and Rimmer will be the first to disappear, for we need you desperately on this side of the Big Pond. This will be a new kind of Brain Drain. My MIBs are looking for ufologists with open minds and a sense of humour. They scoured the United States systematically, for four years and have failed to find anyone answering to these qualifications. But despite the petty conflicts and nonsense in British circles I still suspect the general quality of ufology there is considerably higher than it is here. So pack your suitcase and wait for the 3 a.m. knock on the door. The password is “Stendek”.

Now, whether you like it or not, here is my considered opinion.

johnkeelUfology should rightfully be a branch of psychical research. The psychical researchers have developed reasonably scientific methods of dealing with paranormal material. And they have quietly come up with some reasonable answers for much of it. (I am not speaking of the innumerable crackpot cults and lunatic fringe believers. The “New Ufology” (Jerome Clark’s term) must necessarily be concerned with all paranormal manifestations. It is folly to ignore and exclude cases which contain unsavoury psychical elements, just as it would be folly for medical researchers to ignore leukemia because they don’t like the sight of blood.

Ufology is not dying. It is in a transitional period. A most painful one for many. If our none-too–learned interpretations of the cave paintings are correct, UFOs have been buzzing this plant since man first appeared. They will very likely still be flying around long after we have blown ourselves up, Maybe they belong here even more than we do. We do make wonderful pets and our antics are no doubt very amusing. Instead of debating the mathematical probabilities for life existing on other planets the “New Ufologists” will be more and more concerned with the unseen (but frequently observed manifestations of) forces which exist right here along our side. We seem to be currently suffering from psychical pollution. Perhaps the human mind itself is partially responsible and is causing some peculiar interaction bctreen Us and Them. The “balance of the universe” is, indeed, upset. And the ufologists are the the most unbalanced of all.

I have just been informed, from the most esteemed of authorities, that John Keel doesn’t exist at all. An export graphologist has examined samples of his handwriting and discovered that his many letters and articles were really written by Sir Francis Bacon. This finding should resolve some of the controversy.

Best…, John A. Keel (I think), New York

In the November 1970 issue, MUFOB’s Science Editor Alan Sharp expressed his forceful views on Keel in a letter to the editor:

“I see that you are asking for people’s comments on the ideas put forward by John Keel If I were to say what I have always thought it would probably seem very rude and uncomplimentary, and as I agree with John Cleary-Baker about the matter of personalities I shall endeavour to be somehat diplomatic”

Whether he succeeded in that endeavour, you may judge from the next paragraph:

“Quite frankly my main difficulty is to establish some sort of rapport with Mr Keel. With all the good will in the world the chap appears to occupy the current position of king of the UFO Crackpots. Surely one isn’t meant to take this alternate reality business seriously? (Though judging by the cloying air of sanctity which mention of it provokes in the faithful, I am reluctantly compelled to assume one is supposed to do just that …”

Keel, of course, does not take this lying down, replying in the June 1971 issue:

Dear John,

I have just received the Nov. and Dec. Bulletins. I was beginning to fear that sinister government agents might have confiscated your typewriter and carried you off in the middle of the night to the R.A.F.’ s supersecret prison/madhouse for dangerous UFO researchers. Glad you are still in operation and that postal service has resumed. The British Edition of Operation Trojan Horse is scheduled to be released on April 29th by Souvenir Press of London. I would greatly appreciate receiving any clippings of any reviews or comments that might aplear in the British Press. Frankly I doubt if it will be widely reviewed but one never knows.

Alan Sharp’s comments in your November issue delighted me. His letter outlines all that has been wrong with ufology to date … the totally pragmatic approach (on the part of the scientifically trained element), and the tendency to denigrate opposite opinions and those who form them. Obviously anyone who does not believe what “I” believe (he says in effect) must be a crackpot. Since my views are so different from his, this makes me “King of the UFO crackpots” (a phrase coined by Hynek’s partner, William T. Powers, incidentally). Mr Sharp is profoundly sane, of course, although I have yet to meet a truly sane astronomer. Indeed, the two most insane areas of science are astronomy, and archaeology and the classic characterisation of the “crazy, absent-minded professor” is solidly based in fact. However, it is equally well-known that writers are the strangest, most eccentric breed of all. We are, undoubtedly, even more weird than the crackpot professors, A number of the latter group have been loudly advocating visitations for several years. Their evidence thus far has been on the same level as the evidence being used by the stalwarts of the Flat Earth Society.

I must take umbrage with Sharp’s remarks about the value of “studying the movement of galaxies by watching a glamorous Woman downing a Scotch-on-the-rocks”. I have, in fact, learned a great deal over the years by doing just that. The more Scotch consumed, the more I learnedd. It is one scientific method I heartily endorse.

Perhaps Mr Sharp misunderstands my entire thesis. I have stressed that the initial investigation must be a study of the witnesses and must be conducted by psychiatrists and psychologists. As he put it, “the universe of mystery incomprehensible in its complexity” is almost entirely the product of

 ”the inhabitants of mental institutions”. Many of our American UFO witnesses, contactees and researchers have ended up in mental institutions. The very basic promise of ufology is totally insane! The ideas and theories propounded by the UFO believers are insane by almost any standard. The strange urge to promote these insane ideas publicly, often at great personal expense, ridicule, etc., has been detrimental to any public acceptance of the phenomenon. Such efforts are evangelistic, not scientific. And the people who advocate irrational unsubstantiated ideas should be medically examined. Since 1965, Dr Hynek himself has stressed the examination of witnesses and has often complained that no UFO case has over been given the “FBI treatment” (i.e., a thorough study of all aspects). In my investigations I have attempted to aptly this treatment within my admitted limitations.

In my two books I carefully outlined my methods, my findings, and tmy conclusions. I suggested numerous ways in which my “discoveries” could be tested in the field by intelligent investigators. The results of my efforts have been interesting … and psychologically curious. A polarisation has taken place on the American UFO scene. Those who have been directly involved in UFO investigations and bizarre events and yet managed to retain an open mind have quietly swung over to my side (if I have a side). They know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, many of these “New Ufologists” have chosen to discontinue their publications, terminate their membership in the various UFO organizations, and more or less withdraw from the UFO mainstream. Apparently, acceptance of Keelism (another choice Hynek phrase) destroys interest in evangelism. The result is that the hardcore types who remain are virulently anti-Keel. I dismiss their beliefs so I am an “enemy”. Most of the UFO publications that have survived are therefore antagonistic to the “New Ufology”. They go on censoring and distorting the items that come their way, and continue to advocate the old causes and beliefs … most of which are based on the peculiar logic denounced by Sharp. The philosophy of the mischievous elementals who have been playing silly games with the human race since Ogg crawled out of a cave.

Some time ago a West Coast UFO publication carried an absurd, even slanderous, quasi-review of Operation Trojan Horse. Jerome Clark wrote to the journal in protest. He was duly informed that I was “banned” from its august pages and, even if I wanted to bother, would not be permitted to reply to the perverse charges levelled against me. Other American publications have employed such tired tactics as quoting me out of context. One took a direct quota from Howard Menger in my book and credited it to me as “proof” of something or other. Another sad fact is that the extreme right wing groups (ultra-conservatives, politically) have infiltrated ufology here and are lending their own sick paranoid notions to the already disoriented U.S. UFO scene. Right wing smear tactics (quoting out of context, attacking through innuendo, etc.) are becoming the norm in American UFO publications. Recently NICAP’s illustrious bulletin made some inane crack about my waiting for “girlie magazines”, when, of course, I avoid such magazines. My main field has always been the men’s adventure magazines, which are quite separate and distinct from the “girlie” field. NICAP doesn’t know the difference, I suppose. Should they stumble upon one of my pieces in the New York Times Sunday Magazine they would undoubtedly condemn me because that same publication is usually filled with advertisements of winsome ladies posing in their underwear.

The trend, unfortunately, is for the “New Ufologists” to stop beating the drum and drop out of sight, leaving the field to the steadily shrinking but loud-mouthed fanatics and fringe types. I would hate to see this sad pattern repeated in Great Dritain. History demonstrates that believers and fanatics shoot people, start wars and generate all kinds of useless conroversies and conflicts. Ufology has been following the patterns of the religious groups, on a much smaller level, of corse. You don’t need a background in sociology to discern this.

Alan Sharps and many others have responded emotionally to my findings and conjectures. They have failed to recognize the main thrust of my work — a return to total objectivity and consideration of all theories and intelligent investigation and testing of each and every one.

Here in the U.S. there some large, well-organised groups who are loudly battling our government’s Mental Health programmes. I have interviewed and written about some of the leaders of these groups. It is clear that they really fear that such programmes will ba directed at them because, deep down, they know they are crazy. When the Condon Committee first swung into action they called Ray Palmer and other hardcore ufologists and generated considerable outcry because, logically enough, a large part of the committee consisted of psychologists and they were asking psychological questions. The ufologists instinctively feared that Condon was out to prove they wore crazy. Most of ufology adopted this same stance, and most ufologists frothed at the mouth when psychiatry was even mentionod. Why? My guess is for the same reason that anti-Mental Health groups are battling efforts to enlarge and improve our mental institutions and psychiatric techniques. If careful studies should prove that ccntactees, witnesses to landings, etc, were hallucinating or suffering from mental aberrations akin to the religious ecstasies then the believers can only scream “Whitewash”, “Fraud” or whatever, because all their beliefs are based entirely on blind acceptance of the reality of such experiences.

If ufology can ever be set upon the right track (and FSR is trying hard to lead the way), we stand to learn amazing things about the human condition genarally, about psychology, religion, the myth-making mochanism of the human mind, and reality itself. Along the way we will certainly abandon, one by one, all of the concepts and beliefs which have been popular those past 23 years, By 1980, ufology may be dead. That is, ufology as we now know it. But it will hopefully be replaced by a new, more rational science that studies everything, considers everything, and does not attempt to support any particular belief. Recently Dr Frank Drake, our famous radio astronomer, stated that discoveries in the last five years have forced astronomy to discard many of its most beloved theories and truths. All astronomical textbooks will have to be completely rewritten in the next thirty years. We are making a grand discovery. The grandest of all. We are learning just how ignorant wo really are. Ufology is but another road leading us to the same discovery. Once we recognise our sublime ignorance we can stop searching for answers and try instead to frame the proper questions.

The U.S. and Soviet moon shots taught us one horrible fact. After peering at the moon for hundreds of years we really didn’t know a darned thing about it. And most of what we thought we know has been proven erroneous overnight. Man’s ego really can’t take this kind of punishment. And the ufological ego is the largest of all. It is easier to deny new facts than to re-fashion old acceptances. The American ufologists don’t like what I have to say so they have banned me from some of their periodicals. Ono American group even tried to get Bowen to ban me from FSR. Those are the same people who have been wailing for two decades about alleged government censorship of UFOs, official conspiracies, etc.

Now I must get back to work and write a crackpot article for a “girlie” magazine. All the best…

John A. Keel, New York.

Alan Sharp’s response to this appeared in the Summer 1971 issue, in the famous article Do You Ken John Keel?(scroll down) which starts with a generous apology for calling Keel “King of the UFO Crackpots”!

Merseyside UFO Bulletin vol. 4, number 5, (December 1971) was entirely devoted to an extensive essay by Alan Sharp criticising the science in John Keel’s books (not yet on-line). John Keel’s reply to this was published in MUFOB 5;4, autumn 1972. The long delay is explained in Keel’s covering letter:

Department of Health, Education and Welfare
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20201
September 25, 1972

Dear John,

While packing my effects preparatory to moving back to NYC this week I came across the enclosed diatribe which was written in response to Alan Sharp’ s rather incredible critique in MUFOB. For some reason it never got into the mails.

I have been amused by the ufological reaction to Our Haunted Planet. Many reviewers, including your Peter Rogerson seem to have missed the main point of the book altogether, although I tried to spell it out in the introduction. 0HP was a compilation of the beliefs of mankind, including ufologicical beliefs, demonstrating how those beliefs are largely based upon the rather fiendish manipulations and matnifestations of the unknown power or phenomenon which surrounds us. None of the manifestations has any genuine meaning so we have always laboured to interpret then and give them our own meanings. Like Charles Fort, I question the sanity of the phenomenon itself.

Perhaps our real problem is that so few ufologists are schooled in history, philosophy and such sciences as archaology. They are all peering through telescopes and wondering about ET life. Alan Sharp complains about the thing’s that were left out of Operation Trojan Horse, In an earlier essay he attacked items, cases’ which were summariseed in OTH because they were so well-known and had been so widely described in FSR and elsewhere, and I am baffled that he took so many reportorial remarks as inplications of some personal belief. Agrest’s theories on Baalbek, for example, are just plain silly and I took pains to label them as such in both OTH and OHP. Alas, very few of the theories accepted in ufological circles really hold up under close scrutiny. The June 1972 issue of Scientific American contains a fine article on “Organic Matter in Meteorites” and gives a complete analysis of the celebrated Murchison, Australia carbonaceous chondrite concluding that the organic compounds therein are “most likely of abiotic origin” (product of a chemical process rather than an indication of life). But look at all the rubbish the ufo-zines have published about that one.

Hope all is well with you.

Best… John A Keel

John Keel’s original letter follows:

May 19 1972 Washington, D.C.

Dear John [Harney]

I must admit I felt very embarrassed for Alan Sharp when I read his emotional critiques in MUFOB and I’m a bit puzzled you would choose to devote so much space to this Menzelian/Keyhoe type of attack. It seems like something right out of the 1950′s.

Poor Alan has denuded himself, exposing his astonishing ignorance of ufology and his apparent inability to read the English language. Since my clearly stated position is really anti-UFO one wonders what his position is. Is he a super-believer or a super-sceptic?

Several years ago I was assigned to write a technical article on meteors, comets, bolides, etc. I naturally contacted the leading authorities and I was taken aback to discover how little hard data actually exists. Mathematical formulae and spectrographic analyses do not impress me at all. The astronomers have been proven totally wrong in almost every important area in the past decade. But I am very aware of all that is being done. For example, a group of Canadian astronomers went to great lengths in 1967 to check the course of a meteorite, interview all tho people who saw it, etc., and when I read their, thorough report could only wonder why no-one had over really conducted the same kind of investigation into a UFO transit.

Operation Trojan Horse was written in 1967-68, and was completed long before the Condon report appeared. In fact, I was reading the proofs when ‘Condon’ reached me. I pecelled in a number of minor references and corrections, added items about Vallee’s book (which appeared after OTH was written), etc. For example, the item about the closing of Blue Book (p.293) was added to the galleys. Much of the chapter “Charting the Enigma”, which Sharp takes exception to, was published in FSR’s ‘Beyond Condon’ in 1969. A detailed paper on the results of the investigation into the Allende meteor was published long after OTH appeared … as near as I can recall, it was in the Feb. 1971 Science (I don’t have any of my files here in D.C.). My material care largely from the Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper which regularly contains the best science coverage (‘Twas a delightful coincidence that the name Allende should be associated with this incident.)

Many of the things commented on by Sharp had been repeated over and over again in the ufological lore and my own tack was to ridicule, items such as Prof. Agrest’s crackpot theories on Baalbek. My original section on tektites etc., was deleted from OTH and later worked into Our Haunted Planet. If Sharp re-reads that chapter of OTH (Chapter 4) he will see that I give full credit to the creators of the various theories outlined and if he reads it carefully he will see that I do not take these theories seriously.

Sharp’s critique seems like a rather pointless exercise in egomania. He has clearly not bothered to research any of the subjects he is attacking. Rather, he is trying to draw conclusions and create explanations from sketchy surraries of cases drawn from more detailed articles in FSR and elsewhere. He thinks he is attacking me or Vallee, but all he is really doing is demonstrating his own ignorance of the UFO literature.

He even deigns to attack my rare, brief asides to my personal experiences. For examples if he know anything about ladies and hair driers he would realise that if a woman fell asleep under a hair drier for two hours her head would be fried. I collected the full, and rather rerlarkables details on this particular incident and was convinced that something exceptional had happened. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered to mention it. He chooses to question my perspicacity and, in fact, has produced a classic piece of the kind of nonsense I ridicule in my introduction to Our Haunted Planet. The UFO field should have outgrown this kind of childish, churlish, irresponsible and highly personalised form of attack.

When I prepared FSR’s ‘Beyond Condon’ I included a rather extensive glossary of terms, an extended version of this glossary was included with the manuscript of 0TH but remains unpublished. You must remember that I am a professional lexicographer, having; served as science editor for Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedias and Geography Editor for their New College Dictionary (You will find my name listed in their publications). The etymology of ufology has been one of my interests from the start. In Anomaly [Keel's magazine] I have frequently published glossaries of important terms. It is both presumptuous and pretentious of Sharp to complain about my use or abuse of the language. Although my books have been deliberately “written down” to my audience, Sharp obviously suffers from semantical difficulties.

Many of the things I discussed with deliberate vagueness were actually based upon research now being conducted by many disciplines. For example, at the IEEE Symposium in New York this March Dr Robert O. Becker revealed experiments which found that very low frequency EM waves could promote healing of bone fractures and rapid healing of skin ulcers and burns, thus verifying my speculations about “miraculous” and UFO-healings.

The U.S. Bureau of Radiological Health, a bureau of the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, has been studying these things for years. DHEW’s National Institute of Mental Health is very concerned with schizophrenia, a subject closely allied to the UFO phenomenon. It is no secret that I have been working as a consultant to DHEW here in Washington those past six months.

Sharp’s credentials are certainly far more limited. In fact, mineralogy is almost as useless to ufology as astronomy.

As for Peter Rogerson’s review of Our Haunted Planet, my astonishment is multiplied. The book, largely derived from deleted sections of OTHs was clearly and pointedly an examination of the theories and beliefs of all the crackpot cults; a deliberate appraisal of the “pseudo-scientific garbage” believed by mankind. It summarised many of the major and minor beliefs of these cults but certainly did not support any of them. Yet Rogerson was apparently blinded by some emotionalism when he read it and inverted the meaning of everything he touched upon in his review. I simply pointed out that the basic beliefs of the assassination buffs were identical with the beliefs of cultists using other frames of reference. And in the last chapter I summarised the beliefs of the present youth culture – who are particularly interested in Indians and Indian lore, most of which is founded on visions and mediumistic and drug-induced hallucinations.

Quite a few scientists – all operating outside the UFO field – are working to find the cause(s) of the UFO “effect”. In England, a group of scientists now have a funded programme to investigate the “religious experience”. In the Soviet Union work along this line is now very advanced. It is really most difficult to define UFOs per se until we can properly separate the possibly real from the totally subjective. And the world’s greatest philosophers and thinkers have been attempting this for 2,500 years.

Sharp and his ilk want us to lapse back to what Husserl termed “phenomenological reduction”. Back in 1967 I published a little essay in Saucer News in which I said that the ufologists, like cuckolds, would be “the last to know”, because they are ‘blinded by belief, and because they have an urge to simplify a complicated situation and accept these simplififications as their “truth”.

In my three books I have tried to at least touch upon all the popular theories and the “evidence” used to support them. I have never accepted any of that “evidence”, rather I have tried to explain why I have rejected all those theories. The “ultraterrestrial theory” is merely a new, more workable frame of reference (new to the UFO field; it is hardly original or new in the strictest sense). The first step to understanding this mess is rejection of the ETH. But there is a long and difficult road ahead for anyone who tries to go beyond it.

My work has been aimed at uncovering and interpreting the cause of these events and experiences. A great deal of headway has been made in recent years and it constantly appals me that so few ufologists seen capable of actual research; of visiting a technical library and examining the literature for themselves.

Many of the things Sharp complains about were, in fact, more fully documented in my many articles published here in the U.S. I wouldn’t expect hire to be familiar with those articles but I would expect him to exorcise suspension of judgement until he was more familiar with the massive material used by Vallee and myself as the basis of our conclusions. He is rejecting the history of mankind out of hand. In Our Haunted Planet I clearly state, “All of this may be absolute nonsense, but we cannot overlook the unhappy fact that these ‘truths’ were completely believed for thousands of years by the leaders of the world and therefore had an appalling influence over human events and destiny”.

Vallee and I realised independently that the core of the problem was belief, and that the rational, philosophical study of belief was necessary to understand the whole. From 1967 onwards I pointedly classified UFOs as manifestations and anomalies, divorcing myself from the concept that they were machines piloted by Venusians. While others have been trying to “prove” their beliefs or, in some cases, their sanity, I have been searching for the underlying causes. That search has led me to reconsider all of man’s beliefs, particularly his religious concepts, and while many readers do not fully understand this consciously they do react emotionally on other levels. They suspect I an attacking them in some manner because I am attacking; their beliefs. Eric Hoffer explains all this in his book The True Believer. In that book he really defines the average UFO buff and the Menzel/Sharp types who exploit ufology to gratify their own emotional needs.

Millions of people welcome and accept subjective experiences as the basis for their beliefs in ghosts, after-life, Christ, and spacenen. Arthur Shuttlewood is one of those. It is both pointless and vicious to attack Shuttlewood for what he believes, and for his earnest, honest attempts to communicate those beliefs. We can reject the beliefs of such people without rejecting the people themselves. From the little I know about the man, Shuttlewood’s sincerity is beyond question. On the other hand, the intellectual integrity of people like Menzel and Sharp can be seriously questioned.

A British paperback of Operation Trojan Horse (by Sphere) will appear later this year. Neville Spearman will publish Our Haunted Planet in hardcover this fall.

Before closing I might dd that I contacted some of the religious cults here which are concerned with miracles, particularly Fatima, and they showed me documentation of their search to locate the photos and newsreels taken in Portugal on that day. Apparently someone did go to great expense to collect all the photos. Whether it was the Catholic Church (very likely) or our Men in Back is anyone’s guess. The Vatican waited 13 years before classifying Fatima as a “miracle” and did so reluctantly, bending to enormous public pressure.

Wearily, John A. Keel.

P.S. The boys at the Pentagon laughed outright at Condon’s explanation of those metal balls. Such an object would fall too fast to be of any use in “calibrating radar” and it is against all regulations to release such objects from the air. When I read the Condon report I sent a letter to the company he pnamed and never received a reply. In any case, I very openly rejected any evidential pcssibilities of anomalous aerial debris.

In the same issue, Alan Sharp replies,:

Dear John,

I am sorry to see that John Keel has attempted to counter my article “The New Ufology” (MUFOB 4:5) by literary legerdemain and invective, neither of which is any substitute for rational argument.

Take, for instance, his introduction of such concepts as “sincerity”, “honesty”, and “integrity” into the debate. He questions the “intellectual integrity” of Dr Menzel and myself and defends Arthur Shuttlewood as “sincere” and “honest”; but these are, of course, merely his own subjective opinions and must be evaluated accordingly.

I, at least, do not claim to have had lengthy telephonic conversations with or personal visits from UFO entities, Aenstrians and the like, nor does Dr Menzel to the best of my knowledge! But let us examine some of the less nebulous matters which Keel raises such, for example, as the question of hair dryers and the alleged dire consequences of falling asleep thereunder. Keel states, authoritatively. “If a woman fell asleep under a hair-dryer for two hours her head would be fried”, but I have consulted a firm of hairdressing equipment manufacturers and was told by one of their senior executives: “I have been in this business for forty years and know all about the matter of people falling asleep. You can rest assured that strict regulations must be complied with by manufacturers to prevent any harmful effects occurring under such circumstances, for hair dryers exert a restful influence and their users often drop off to sleep.”

I shall leave our readers to judge for themselves, as I did in my article when discussing some of the personal information given by Keel in his book Trojan Horse.

 Again, Keel virtually calls Dr Craig of the Condon team a liar over the subject of the hollow metal spheres, but I have ascertained that our own Meteorological Office uses hollow aluminium spheres, about fourteen inches in diameter, for the purpose of radar set calibration. Such spheres are useful radar targets because their radar cross-sections are independent of orientation; i.e. their reflecting properties are the same irrespective of the direction of the impinging signal.

These are the two most concrete issues which Keel raises in his letter and I am quite content that the reader should judge between us on their evidence alone. Nevortheless Keel does bring up other matters and I shall attempt to deal with some of them lest it appear that I have been unduly selective.

Take for instance the relevance of astronomy to the subject of ufology. On page 144 in Chapter 63 of Operation Trojan Horse Keel declares: “Meteors and comets are vitally important to our study of unexplained aerial phenomena”. His assessment of their importance may the guaged by the fact that a great part of the chapter is devoted to a consideration of such celestial objects which, of courses fall within the sphere of astronomy and have obvious mineralogical connotations. Yet in his letter he asserts that: “Mineralogyis almost as useless to ufology as astronomy”

What an extraordinary volte face for one who claims that I an unable to read English, am ignorant of the literature and suffer from “semantical difficulties”. The boot is surely on the other foot with a vengeance!

At this juncture it seems relevant to mention that Keel’s comments about qualifications sound remarkably like a case of “sour grapes”. I admit that I claim no expertise in journalism, psychological warfare or propaganda writing and I do not suppose that Dr Menzel does either, but I do not consider that the lack of such dubious “qualifications” is any great loss to an honest student of ufology.

On the basis of the matters which I have considered above I suggest that Keel should refrain from making further uncalled for remarks about Dr Menzel and myself and should have a good look at the mote in his own eye instead.

Turning; now to a different topic I notice that Keel enquires about my position vis-a-vis UFOs, but as I covered that theme pretty thorougly in the “New Ufology” under the heading “Terminology and Classification” I think it would be more instructive to consider Keel’s own position, which seems rather elusive despite his protestations to the contrary. I see that in his letter he states that he has rejected all the “popular theories”, of which the ETH is certainly one of the most important, and also says “I very openly rejected any evidential possibilities of anomalous space debris.” What then are we to make of this remark on page 293 of Operation Trojan Horse: “However, it would be very dangerous to exclude the possibility that a very small residue of sightings may be very real.” (i.e., in the context, due to extraterrestrial visitation?) The language is evasive but this smacks very much to me of the time-dishonoured device known as “havimg the back door open” or “coppering one’s bets”; otherwise described as having one’s cake and eating it!

Keel, in fact, clearly accepts the possibility that: “there nay be billions of inhabitable planets within our galaxy, and there is always a chance that living beingss from those planets might have visited us in the past, are visiting us now, or are planning to visit us in the future”.

To accept this possibility but reject the possibility of “anomalous space debris” appears to me highly illogical and inconsistent, if I may have the effrontery to question Keel’ s use and abuse of language. To add to the confusion Keel elsewhere in his letter states that his own “clearly-stated position is really anti-UFO’, so one wonders what he is doing studying the subject of ufology at all. But then he goes on to remark, somewhat tetchilys “It is really most difficult to define the term, UFO”, and we are back to square one again!

In a final attempt to get to the truth of the matter, therefore, let us turn to page 300 in the last chapter of OTH. Here we read the following cataclysmic avowal in all its grandeur: “But I am now inclined to accept the conclusion that the phenomenon is mainly concerned with undefined (and undefinable) cosmic patterns, and that mankind plays only a small part in these patterns”.

If this is a “clearly stated position” by our “professional lexicographer” then my understanding of the English language is indeed sadly lacking. Note, however, the use of the nebulous term “cosmic patterns” and the qualification that these “patterns” are undefined and undefinable. To make vagueness even more insubstantial note, too that Keel is only “inclined” to accept this ephemeral “conclusion”, reached after nearly 300 pages of tedious text. No wonder that he is so sensitive to factual criticism.

Keel’ s weighty conclusion is no more than the stuff that dreams are made on, and results from a basic refusal to countenance sensible exlanations of UFO phenomena. Keel is, unfortunately, merely one of many ufologists who hold similar irrational beliefs and are only too keen to voice their strongly anti-scientific opinions. Your correspondents Afonso Martinez Taboas is, I would surmise, another cf the same ilk and seems to have an equal dislike of reasonable answers to ufological puzzles. Nevertheless he has taken the trouble to write, in a, foreign language, from a considerable distance and it would be discourteous of me not to thank him for his letter. For myself I can only add briefly that I reject all supernatural “explanations”, including the so-called paraphysical hypothesis and do not believe that our planet has been in the past or is being now subjec to to extraterrestrial visitations although I am perfectly willing to change this last opinion if and when compelling evidence becomes available.

Alan Sharp, Fairfield, Liverpool


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


<< 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,

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.




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.



The Mythology of UFO Events and Interpretations: a New Examination. Peter Rogerson

First published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin, volume 5, number 3, Summer 1972  

klaatuOne of the basic myths behind the UFO interpretations until recently was that of the deus ex machina , which would bring an end to history. (1) In [John] Michel’s latest article (2) we can see this theme repeated; the UFO is the precursor of a new mutation of the human species, which will produce an irrevocable discontinuity in evolution, the final, oceanic, unbridgeable generation gap.

These early myths were nurtured, not primarily, by the absurd UFO cults, but by the professional myth makes, the comics, films, science fiction writers, even advertisers” The first great contactee (story) came not from the Californian “saucerites” of happy memory, but from Hollywood in the form of the allegorical science fiction drama “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951). This concerns the coming of a prophet Klaatu, in a flying saucer. His arrival interrupts the electrical supplies of the world, the weapons of his assailants melt away. He preaches a message of universal peace, and is martyred for it, releasing the robot Gort, who begins a campaign of destruction. Only the actions of two ordinary citizens, a widow and her young son, save the world and by their love temporarily resurrect Klaatu, but now only the threat of the destructive power of the robot remains to prevent war

As with the later contactee stories, this film was conceived as a warning against nuclear war. (3) Its symbolism is powerful. If men of humanity are ignored, then humanity will be at the mercy of the elemental forces of blind technology. If peace by love is rejected, then there will inevitably be peace by terror. In the dark days when it was made The Day the Earth Stood Still made a deep impact. In its wake the contactee cults grew and flourished. Few if any possessed the vision of the original. Many degenerated into whimsy and were lost completely.

Established science fiction writers also used the UFO legend as a basis on which to build mythological statements. Among the most important of such tales was Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End , another allegorical work. The Overlords, symbolic of scientific rationalism, arrive from space to end men’s squabbles and create a rationalistic utopia on Earth. In the closing chapters it is seen that this utopia is sterile, its rationalist materialism a defence against aspects and powers of the human personality which must be hidden until man has gained wisdom. The release of these powers comes in a generation of divine children, whose arrival means the end of the world, the final collapse into futility of man. The vision of Alpha and Omega at the close is one of the most remarkable passages in science fiction. It is a vision of science as creator and destroyer. The myth of the super-human child is also seen in John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos . In both we are confronted with a generation of “changelings” who possess the wild talents and threaten the end of history. 

The growing power of the myth of the changeling can be detected in a variety of literature. An idea which undoubtedly began as a primitive interpretation of the birth of a subnormal or deformed child has achieved a new significance. The growing rumour of a coming generation of children possessed of strange and supernatural powers occurs in a variety of guises. The so-called “cross-correspondence” scripts of the early years of this century, allegedly dictated by the post mortem Myers, Gurney and Sidgwick (the founders of the SPR), make much of a coming mutation of the human race engineered from “the other side”. (4) Such myths also occur in UFO situations (e.g., the Appleton case) and black magic cults have talked of children of Satan. These myths suggest a subconscious fear and awe of children, who are seen as a repository of the dark powers within man, unrestrained by culture. 

Similarly the myth of the adult taken to Magonia is growing. Those taken are either destroyed or, like Monsieur Vincent, (5) possessed of new powers. There is a reorientation and men change, draw apart, or are set apart by strange incommunicable knowledge. We can sense this in the case of Dr X, (6,7) with the appearance of the strange stigmata, not only reminding one of the markings used to identify birds, but also forming, as John Rimmer has pointed out, (8) a symbolic figure of a third eye in a triangle. The third eye as a symbol suggests both an increased inner awareness, and incipient splitting of the personality.
During the last few years, as noted before, there has been a movement away from these simple images towards more complex patterns. The first hints came with the study of the 1897 airship reports, similar legends to which may have provided the basis for the airship tales of Jules Verne. (9) In these, as with some of his other works, Verne is concerned with the corrupting effect of scientific power on the idealist. The power originally intended to liberate mankind corrupts and then destroys its creator. An apt symbol of the science behind the railroads, threatening the survival of the Mid-western farmers.



The basic theme of Keel is that a dark force threatens man, prevents him from developing his faculties to the full, and can destroy him

It is the work of John Keel and his supporters from which the elusive turn in the myth developed. The basic theme of Keel (and British counterparts such as Gordon Creighton) is that a dark force threatens man, prevents him from developing his faculties to the full, and can destroy him. In an effort to comprehend this force, both Keel and Creighton have turned to the primitive belief in “elementals” the impact of which seems to strike some deep chord in the unconscious. How did this myth arise?  
The very name “elemental” suggests an identification with the dark instinctive aspects of man’s personality. The childishness and general hostility to man, which are said to be attributes of the elemental, confirm this identification. In the case of the poltergeist there is evidence that this is so. (10) The poltergeist is the projection of emotional conflict from the interior reality of the mind to the external reality. The poltergeist allows anti-social actions to be committed without guilt. In a similar manner the violent and sexual “messages” received during “automatic writing”, etc. can be accepted by projecting them on to “evil spirits”, thus allowing repressed desires to be expressed.
“Primitive” man (as with modern children) had no conception either of the distinction between animate and inanimate nature, or of causality. All nature had spirits, who directed the natural order of things, and who possessed the qualities of the aspect of nature they represented. These qualities were anthropomorphisms, projections of aspects of the human personality on to the environment. With the arrival of the new intellectual religions, the old myths were driven underground, becoming symbols of the dark instinctive side of man which the new faiths had rejected. 
The term “elemental” also gives a vision of terrifying mindless power, an apt symbol of which can be found in numerous reports of “monsters”, “robots”, etc. reminiscent of “Gort” in The Day the Earth Stood Still. The reports of one-eyed giants from South America are also an aspect of this symbol. The Cyclops is totally mindless and instinctive, the lowest depths of mental deficiency capable of post-natal existence. There is also a hint of blindness, and the robot-like behaviour suggests a de-humanised humanity. The totality is a symbol of great but mindless power. 
To have too close a relationship with Magonia is dangerous. The MIB has thus an element of taboo; by observing UFO events man has encroached upon the territory of the gods and retribution follows. 
The MIB is also the “censor”, preventing men from obtaining knowledge which will destroy them, the knowledge and power of the gods. Similarly, those “taken”, such as AVB and the Hills are prevented from taking artefacts. Paradoxically, the same symbol portrays the MIB as the elemental force within, preventing the discovery of precious secrets.   

The MIB features in many ghost stories. It is a “stock apparition” often interpreted as an undertaker, a monk, in female form as a nun or a widow. The persistence of such traditions suggests the power of the symbol. In a recent folk song, the MIB is explicitly presented as the dark hidden side of man, which men desperately attempt to avoid seeing. 

Closely associated with the MIB in some aspects of UFO mythology is the Dero. The Dero has several important symbolic aspects. Clearly the Dero, a terror from the interior responsible for human tragedy, is a symbol of the dark atavistic forces in the unconscious; it is also a symbol of dehumanisation by the wrong use of knowledge, a theme often expressed in science fiction.    
Yet these dark aspects of Magonia are not the whole picture. We have already seen the symbol of the sun maiden (13) and there are other symbols of a similar nature. Keel created a great deal of amusement in some quarters with talk of “hermaphrodite angels”, yet the hermaphrodite angel is a symbol in many cultures – a symbol of primal unity, a reconciliation of opposites. It is a not infrequent dream image, and has great prominence in alchemical lore.  
Thus the UFO myth is of a dual nature, capable of creating or destroying, thus mirroring the power of science, and knowledge in general. It echoes powerful symbolic themes which are also to be discovered in literature, especially science fiction. It also serves as a “translation” of older universal myths in modern terms.
The Myth of Magonia is total and universal to human experience. It is difficult to present a total meaning of it. Magonia seems to be the symbol of the impersonal, totally alien forces of the natural world, and its duality represents the varying moods of nature. It is these aspects of man which identify him with the natural world, the unconscious, archaic part of ourselves, that is suppressed in civilisation. It has given us our greatest visions and most terrible nightmares, the extremes of beauty and hideousness. The conservatism and timelessness of Magonia symbolises the timelessness of nature, the slow passage of geological time, compared with which the lifetime of men is insignificant. Its capriciousness is that of nature and the instinctive part of ourselves; its power dwarfs our achievements, rendering them powerless.
Our comments should not be interpreted as necessarily indicating that the UFO phenomena are wholly internalised: Such a view, despite great scientific difficulties, should not be dismissed out of hand, but the mythological nature of the UFO reports holds true whatever the physical nature of “real” UFO phenomena. The relationship between the “real” and “mythological” UFO phenomena is a field fertile for speculation, speculation best left to science fiction writers however.  


1. Rogerson, Peter, “The UFO as an integral part of the apocalyptophilia and irrationality of the mid twentieth century”, MUFOB , Vol. 4, No. 1, 5
2. Michel, Aimé, “An enigmatic figure of the XVII century”, Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 2, 3
3. Baxter, John, Science Fiction in the Cinema , Barnes, 1970
4. Salter, W.H., Zoar, London, 1961
5. Michel, Aimé, “The UFOs and history”, Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 18, No. 3, 3
6. Michel, Aimé, “The strange case of Dr X”, UFO Percipients, Flying Saucer Review Special Issue No. 30 , 3
7. Michel, Aimé, “The strange case of Dr X” (part 2), Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 17, No. 6, 3
8. Rimmer, John, private conversation with the author
9. Clark, Jerome and Loren Coleman, “Serpents and UFOs”, Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 3, 18
10. Owen, A.R. George, Can We Explain the Poltergeist? , Helix Press, 1964
11. Sandell, Roger, “More on Welsh UFOs in 1905″, Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 2, 31
12. Dale-Green, Patricia, Dog , Hart-Davies, 1966
13. Rogerson, Peter, “The sun maiden”, MUFOB , Vol. 4, No. 2