I was surprised to hear that Stanton Friedman had attended a recent UFO abduction conference in New York. I had thought that he was a strictly nuts-and-bolts man, a believer in crashed saucers and dead aliens hidden away at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Yet now he is associating himself with those who believe that the aliens are invulnerable, that their saucers are invisible to ordinary (i.e., sane) folk, and that they can return to them immediately, floating gracefully through walls, at the first sign of potential trouble. Surely there is some sort of inconsistency of belief here. Could someone sort it out for me?
THERE ARE many mutually contradictory beliefs associated with the ETH and
the two main ones concern the availability of evidence to researchers. We
are told that the ETH should be taken seriously because there are
inexplicable UFO sightings with multiple, independent witnesses. On the
other hand, we are told that we have no proof of the ETH because such
proof is concealed by government agencies. I have asked some awkward
questions about these beliefs in previous issues of this Supplement and in
Magonia but no sensible answers have been forthcoming. Thus the only
course is to keep on bashing away at these questions until the believers
either justify their assertions or abandon their untenable theories.
Let us take multi-witness cases first. There are, so far as I am aware, no cases with multiple, independent witnesses which cannot be explained with reference to sightings of aircraft or natural phenomena. Those cases which appear to satisfy these criteria do not stand up to critical examination. A fairly common type of case is that where a witness claims that the UFO was seen by many others, but attempts to contact the other witnesses fail and no independent verification of the alleged incident can be obtained. Many ufologists evidently do not consider this to be terribly important, but it is vital. There is no hope of extraordinary events being taken seriously by the scientific community unless it can be established that they really did take place as described in the reports. Extraordinary but unconfirmed reports will continue to be classed as subjective experiences.
An excellent example of an alleged multi-witness UFO experience has recently come to light. This is an account by a man named Frank J. Parker, who claims to have seen a UFO while on an official visit to Karachi during his National Service in the RAF. The incident is said to have occurred on 23 March 1955 when he and others in the aircraft approaching Karachi saw an object like an orange coloured ball hovering over the city. As he and his companions were taken into Karachi by bus from the airfield, they could still see the object. Near the centre of the city, the bus was brought to a stop by crowds of people and they had to get out and walk. "We turned the corner and there were thousands and thousands of people massed ahead of us. It was incredible, I shall never forget it. Thousands of people . . . there must have been at least thirty thousand in all, just knelt on the ground with their hands clasped, as if praying, only they were looking straight up at the disc." (1)
Parker described the object, which he said was hovering only about 125 feet above the ground, in detail and said that he watched it for at least an hour.
There is no reason to doubt that Parker was in Karachi on the day in question, but there is every reason to doubt that he really saw what he says he saw there. In this instance we have thousands of alleged witnesses, but it is a safe bet that no independent witnesses will be found to corroborate the story and that no records of the incident will be found in the archives of Karachi newspapers.
It is possible, of course, that when ufologists fail to find supporting evidence or testimony they will say that it has all been suppressed and kept secret and that brings me to my second point - the belief that we do not have definitive proof of the ETH because it is a closely guarded secret.
The question is: How could a continuing surveillance of the Earth by extraterrestrial spacecraft be kept secret for more than fifty years? I have raised this question a number of times and have never got any answer. Does this mean that I am committing some sort of social gaffe? Is it really rather rude, or "not done" to draw attention to logical weaknesses in the fabric of the ETH?
Let us look at the problem again. Imagine that someone in a US government observatory discovers a new comet. It is quite small, but its orbit will bring it very close to the Earth, possibly colliding with it and causing widespread damage. The government decides to hush up the discovery to avoid causing panic, or on some other pretext. Is this scenario possible? No, of course not. The US government has absolutely no control over the motions of comets or over observations made by astronomers, amateur and professional, in other countries. Any attempt to impose secrecy in such matters would be futile, as well as damaging to the interests of the USA.
Likewise, if it is true that there are craft from other planets flying about in our atmosphere, then it is also true that the US government has no control over the situation, and neither does any other government. You can't keep a secret when you have no control and don't know what is going to happen next. And if UFOs can crash in America, they can crash anywhere, at any time. Convincing evidence could fall into the hands of any individual or organisation. Any attempt to conceal the evidence by any nation could quickly backfire, with fairly disastrous results.
Anyone who still thinks it is easy for governments to keep secrets should read the newspapers. Recent stories include allegations that two scientists working in America transferred data relating to nuclear weapons and a sophisticated satellite submarine-tracking system from a secret computer system to an outside computer, from where it was accessed by Chinese intelligence officers. There is also the current furore about the publication of a list of MI6 officials on the Internet. It seems that these days nothing can be kept secret except crashed saucers and their pilots.
1. Birdsall, Graham W. "Incident at Karachi", UFO Magazine (England), May/June 1999
IN A previous issue I briefly summarised an investigation by the
journalist Byron Rogers into a Satanic abuse trial in Pembroke ("Satanism
Update", Magonia Monthly Supplement, No. 11, January 1999). Now Rogers has
published another article on this case, apparently in response to a
conference held in London on 13 May on the subject of child abuse (Byron
Rogers, "Please read this, Mrs Blair", The Sunday Telegraph, 16 May 1999).
Speakers at the conference included Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton and Home
Secretary Jack Straw. Mrs Blair proposed to make things easier for
children in court by not allowing them to be cross-examined by barristers.
However, another member of the panel on child witnesses was Mr Justice Kay who presided at the trial of the alleged paedophiles of Pembroke. Byron points out that in that trial there was "no adult testimony or forensic evidence in the prosecution case". Six men were convicted solely on the basis of what their children said. "Orgies in which masked and cloaked adults violated children, pits full of urine and faeces (and one of snakes), the sacrifice of animals - all the lurid scenarios that had been crossing the Atlantic from 1983 on, and which figured in the Rochdale and Orkney investigations - were here."
Pembroke MP Nick Ainger has told Rogers: "I have serious reservations about this case. I believe all those convicted should have their cases reviewed." Three of the people involved had consulted him and he remarked: "Basically, it is my rule of thumb that people who are guilty don't come to see their MP. And it stretched my imagination to believe what they were being accused of, especially as this was following the pattern of the Orkney allegations. I thought, Hello, what's going on?"
More is likely to be heard of this disturbing case in the near future, as one of the boys involved, having reached the age of 18, is taking legal advice with a view to suing the social workers who removed him from his family, in spite of the fact that he made no allegations against anybody.
In Magonia ETH Bulletin No. 10 Hilary Evans mentioned the Allagash
abductions and cited Fowler's words to the effect that they were "evidence
that would demonstrate, beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt, that
worldwide reports of humans being abducted by alien entities were really
I do not know if alien abductions are real (although I suspect otherwise). But what I am really sure of is that the Allagash abductions are NOT evidence of their reality. Yes, it is true that after several regressions the witnesses, more or less reluctantly, offered similar accounts, but even a perfunctory analysis reveals many differences. I have prepared a table showing all the key elements of the multiple abduction as seen by each abductee. The differences are deeply damning. A few examples will be enough.
It is logical for the memories of the four witnesses to differ, if only because hypnosis is not a trustworthy procedure. But there should be some constants that all agree on:
How can anybody consider all this the best evidence, when they hardly
agree on anything (even the descriptions of the aliens do not match
exactly - Jim and Chuck mentioned three digits, Jack said four opposable
fingers)? I would expect some differences but how can they not even agree
on the order in which they were examined? The reliability of Mr Fowler
(who nowadays believes himself to be an abductee, too) as an investigator
is seriously in question.
Luis R. González, Malaga, Spain
John Harney comments: It is also worth noting that although this incident is supposed to have occurred in August 1976, Raymond Fowler did not hear of it until May 1988 when one of the witnesses, Jim Weiner, approached him at a UFO conference. There was thus plenty of time for the development of confabulation and false memories.
I am disgusted by your and the rest of Magonia's destructive attitude towards BUFORA. This is a well-worn and lovable institution that should be preserved and cherished. Where would the "cranks, publicity seekers and the mentally unbalanced" go if BUFORA ceased its operations?
Have a heart, these are flesh-and-blood human beings you are talking about, not zombies or space monsters (save the odd one or two members). Do you want these people roaming the streets of London when they could be occupied in lecture theatres discussing the finer points of nasal implants and anal probes?
Jenny Randles (her name had to crop up) says in The X Factor, issue 6, p. 152, that: "I fear that ufology is now a mass market product of such a potentially lucrative nature that we have lost control of our own subject to PR companies and the mass media."
In contrast, I would respectfully suggest that BUFORA should be a populariser of the subject, and that it should actively cash in on the subject by promoting books, videos, films, computer games, etc. As Jenny usually says in her books, "people can be allowed to make up their own minds" and such schemes would please the saucer-headed majority membership.
The revenue from these activities could be put towards funding research projects and giving a better deal to its members. I know that would not happen and that their mysterious financial black hole would get priority, but what the heck, I've got to have some excuse to contradict Jenny Randles.
Speaking of The X Factor (it is the 1990s equivalent of The Unexplained if you have not seen it) the Newsxtra supplement to issue 10 contains the most amusing apology I have ever seen: "In issue seven of The X Factor, we stated that Mr Sean Manchester staked and killed a vampire in Highgate Cemetery in 1973. We would like to point out that Mr Manchester actually killed the vampire in a derelict house in Crouch End, 1974. We apologise for any embarrassment these errors may have caused and will rectify them in future editions."
The etiquette of vampire impaling is strict; Crouch End good, Highgate bad. The shame he must have suffered. That might have been enough for anyone, but Leonard R.N. Ashley in his The Complete Book of Vampires (Souvenir Press, 1998, pp. 80-81) calls him the late Sean Manchester. This assumption no doubt makes him bold enough to call him a publicity seeker and state: "I never met Sean Manchester, but Dr Jeanne Youngson thinks little of his work in a field she knows in and out and Carol Page, who interviewed him for print, says he was a "bore". (She also objected to his claiming to be a descendant of Lord Byron and disagreed strongly with Manchester's opinion that he looked just like Byron did.)"
As the Fortean Times's Hierophant reports (in FT121, p. 61) Manchester is still in the land of the living. In January of this year he appeared on live TV hunting vampires in Abney Park Cemetery, east London. Perhaps his penchant for lurking round cemeteries is likely to make people assume he is more dead than alive, which leads us back to dear old BUFORA . . .
Nigel Watson, Colebrook, Plympton
The debate on the Hudson Valley UFOs caused me to look at Omar Fowler's booklet The Flying Triangle Mystery. He lists some 50 cases of FTs seen over the UK and Europe in recent years. In fact FTs seem to be very much in the news just now, with the recent Granada TV series focusing on them. One point struck me; every case without exception occurred at night. Fowler's catalogue consists entirely of night-time sightings; and all photos and video films taken show nothing but night lights. There seems to be nothing whatever on an FT seen in daylight. Certainly I have never read of a well-attested daytime sighting of a flying triangle, nor have I ever seen a film of such. Why is this? Are we to believe that these triangles only appear after dark? Fowler of course regards them as alien craft, but I wonder how many of these FTs are IFOs rather than UFOs. Should we really trust these "night lights"? Is there any reliable daytime evidence? There ought to be by now.
Christopher Allan, Stoke-on-Trent