For the second year in a row, I find myself at the International UFO Congress near Phoenix, Arizona. Last year I wrote a detailed five-part account of the conference. I told myself I wouldn't write as much this year, but it looks like this resolution may be broken.
When I arrived Tuesday evening, February 26, I ran into Lee Speigel in the restaurant, the 'weird news' reporter for AOL/Huffington post, who is the Host of this Conference, and who I have known for years. I would call Speigel a "skeptical believer," meaning that while he thinks some UFO cases may be beyond our present knowledge, he realizes that the great majority of UFO claims are frankly not worth much. Speigel was with Ben Hansen of Fact or Faked on the SyFy Channel, who was the first speaker Wednesday morning, and who takes a similar position.
The next morning, after Speigel's introduction, Ben Hansen spoke on "Profiling the Hoaxers." He explained that his background in law enforcement prepares him well for forensic evidence of UFO and other 'paranormal' evidence. He describes himself as neither a believer or skeptic, but a "verifier." He explains that hoaxes abound in UFOlogy, and that there can be big money in making bogus ET claims, although he will not name any names. He set forth the following "Hoaxer Subtypes," based on his experience in law enforcement and with paranormal claims:
1. Clinical Con Artist. Charismatic, lacks conscience. Claims of persecution by federal agencies - a red flag, there is so much red tape for intelligence actions that these claims are not at all credible. Some of these people have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The mentally disordered tend to gravitate to "our field," i.e. UFOlogy.
2. Legendizers, seeking fame and/or financial gain. May have had a legitimate experience, but you can only tell the same story so many times, so they add more and more 'excitement' each time it is told.
3. Commercial Campaigners. Publicity stunts. They are not in it for the long-haul, the hoax usually only lasts a few weeks. This damages the credibility of the UFO field, it makes people dismiss legitimate cases.
4. Self-amused pranksters. Motivated by the challenge of pulling it off.
5. Disinformation agents, the rarest type. The government changed its story on Roswell, repeatedly. The 1956 documentary movie UFO was part of a debunking contingency plan. (This category sounds dubious to me).
When a story or a video is crafted to capture emotion, this is a sign of a hoax. You have to think like a movie director, if the crafting of a video appears to be planned out to demonstrate credibility, this is dubious as a real video would be taken without preparation or warning. Also, cerftain technical errors in the creation of a video reveal a hoax. Bigfoot videos tend to show the creature moving left-to-right much more than the opposite. Either Bigfoot walks in circles, or else it is staged to look this way. But he believes that some Bigfoot sightings are valid, as are some UFO sightings.
It's obvious that Hansen is a bright guy. I think that "verifiers" and "skeptics" can work well together.
The second talk was "UFOs Over Native American Land," by Stanley Milford and John Dover, who are current or retired law enforcement (respectively) for the Navajo Nation, an area that mostly lies between the Grand Canyon and Four Corners, and is larger than ten states. (The UFO Congress takes place on an Indian Reservation, hence the attached Casino.) They spent the first part of their talk illustrating the work they normally do: performing rescues, battling wildfires, assisting with accidents, etc. But these two officers headed up the Rangers' Special Projects Unit, which "managed the investigation of those cases that would be deemed 'paranormal,' such as witchcraft, Bigfoot sightings, hauntings, and UFO sightings," although these are only about 1-2% of the cases of Special Projects.
In the "Ol'Man Case," an elderly Navajo claimed that a brilliantly-illuminated UFO circled his remote desert house. He then saw, looking out the window, four aliens walking around with flashlights. The Rangers also received reports of Bigfoot sightings and tracks, witchcraft, and Shapeshifters (similar to werewolves). Such beliefs, they explained, are very prevalent on the Reservation. If there's something strange, in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Navajo Rangers!
With the passing of Budd Hopkins and John Mack, that leaves Barbara Lamb, licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and regression therapist, as one of the leading 'UFO Abduction researchers' in the world. She has performed more than 2,100 "regressions" on hundreds of individuals, "regarding details of encounters they have had with a variety of extraterrestrial beings." In fact, says Lamb, there are many different alien species abducting Earthlings. Her talk was about ET/Human Hybrids, and it was essentially the same talk I heard her give to the MUFON Symposium in 2011.
Many women, says Lamb, have "missing pregnancies" where the fetus is extracted by aliens, up to 3 months' term. Many of these alien races are dying out, including the Zeta Reticulans (that abducted Betty and Barney Hill), and must pilfer our breeding stock to replenish theirs. She seems not to realize that our DNA is much closer to that of a dandelion than it would be to whatever genetic code might have been evolved by beings on a completely alien world. It's worse than trying to rebuild a Chevy engine using Ford parts - much, much worse.
One man came into therapy because he was no longer able to have sex with his wife. Ms. Lamb determined the cause of his problem to be that during a UFO abduction, he had been tricked into having sex with a particularly repulsive Reptilian female. Some women, she asserts, have a long-term companion who is an 'extraterrestrial husband,' in addition to a normal earthly one. Many of them are pleased with this arrangement. She showed drawings of supposed ET/human hybrids, in various stages of integration into the human genome, as well as photos of persons alleged to be late-stage hybrids who are (mostly) successful at passing for human. Some are fashion models, whose gaunt, angled face is said to demonstrate alien ancestry, although anorexia and heroin might produce the same effect. A few people actually claim to be human/ET hybrids; apparently it gives them a certain notoriety.
The next speaker was Nick Pope, who supposedly ran "the British Government's UFO Project," although in reality he didn't run anything, and worked part-time on the UFO Project from 1991 to 1994. He began his talk on the defensive, emphasizing that he did not actually predict an alien invasion, as many news stories and blogs reported last summer. I was, he said, merely promoting a space war type of video game, and reporters took my comments out of context. I wrote a Blog entry about this last August 22. Comments like, "The government must - and has planned - for the worst-case scenario: alien attack and alien invasion. Space shuttles, lasers and directed-energy weapons are all committed via the Alien Invasion War Plan to defence against any alien ships in orbit." Sorry Nick, that excuse doesn't work, as anyone can tell if they Google "Nick Pope Alien Invasion," which also brings up a story from October 12, 2012, "Britain has alien-war weapons, says former government adviser," and even "Aliens Could Attack at Any Time" from 2006. Stop trying to fool us, Nick, and admit you said these things.
Pope promised to discuss some of the most interesting cases in the MOD files, but mostly used the time relating anecdotes of the UFO Project. There are "interesting gems," he said, hidden among thousands of pages of mostly worthless stuff. He hinted at the destruction of military records pertaining to UFO sightings. He warned several times that UFOs are a potential hazard to aviation.
Grant Cameron has been active in UFO and paranormal research for almost forty years. He has become something of an expert at digging up documentation that has greatly assisted our understanding of many UFO cases, especially "presidential UFOs." He spoke on "Consciousness and UFOs." He explained that he is convinced that no real progress in knowledge about UFOs will be made until we successfully contact the beings involved, which he is sure is possible. He noted that one person claiming mental contact was the former Democratic Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, who not only had a sighting that lasted several hours [how can you watch something like that for hours without getting cameras, binoculars, the neighbors, the news crew, the police, etc?], but also said that he "felt a connection" with the UFO that he and the others sighted. "You have to make contact, you can't watch from a distance," says Cameron. He feels that the idea of UFO contact has been made disreputable because of certain people whose famous claims of contact are not credible. He showed photos of three persons he was implying to be phonies: Billy Meier, George Adamski, and Steven Greer. (No argument there!)
Cameron spoke at length about a well-known but still somewhat mysterious figure in the early history of UFOlogy: Wilbert Smith, a Canadian radio engineer. In 1953 Smith somehow convinced Canadian authorities to allow him to set up a small project to investigate flying saucers, having supposedly determined that the American government considers the subject of the highest priority and secrecy. Smith was among those who supposedly experienced 'contact' with the extraterrestrials.
Cameron's argument is: If you can show that the idea of mental contact with UFOs predates the earliest contactee, Adamski, then you have shown that it is not derivative from them. This argument is quite correct, even ingenious, and indeed he demonstrates his claim. But the problem is, you still haven't proven that the "contact" is real; all you've proved is that Adamski didn't make it up. Cameron is a dynamic speaker and obviously sincere; he brought the audience to its feet.