Thursday, September 17, 2020

Book Review: "The Close Encounters Man" by Mark O'Connell


Book Review:


by Mark O'Connell

New York: Dey St. Publishers (an imprint of William Morrow), 2017. 404 pages, $17.99.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek (1910-1986) was an astronomer and a professor of astronomy, but today is best remembered as a UFO expert because of his role as scientific consultant to the U. S. Air Force Project Blue Book. He lived in the center of the UFO controversy for much of his professional life, and seemed to relish it. He wrote several books on UFOs, and coined the now-ubiquitous phrase "Close Encounters." But as for the claim that Hynek "made the world believe in UFOs," I would not go that far.

My photo of Hynek at one of the telescopes at Northwestern, taken about 1970 
 
O'Connell, a screenwriter who also teaches screenwriting at DePaul University in Chicago, has written a solidly-researched biography of Hynek. Based on Hynek's own writings, his papers in the Northwestern University archives, and interviews with Hynek's surviving colleagues and relatives, O'Connell has assembled an impressive and highly-readable account of the life and career of an unusual and fascinating man, Hynek's only biography so far as I am aware.

I read this book with greater than ordinary interest, because I had been a student of Hynek's when I was at Northwestern from 1967 to 1972, and I got to know him somewhat well. We had numerous discussions about UFOs. I tried to convince him, based on historical examples of "extraordinary popular delusions," that reliance on the kind of eyewitness testimony he found so impressive has in the past led investigators astray. Perhaps the most telling example was the attempt by Joseph Glanvill (1636 - 1680), an empiricist and member of London's prestigious Royal Society, to document the reality of witchcraft on purely empirical grounds:
We have the attestation of thousands of Eye and Ear-witnesses, and those not of the easily-deceivable and vulgar only, but of wise and grave discerners; and that, when no interest could oblige them to agree together in a common Lye. (see Chapter 7 of my 1998 book, UFO Sightings).
As Hynek often said, credible persons reporting incredible things.
 
I was on the Geraldo Rivera Special in 1976 with Hynek and Travis Walton.

We read of Hynek's early career at Yerkes Observatory and Ohio State University, whose location near Wright-Patterson AFB made it a natural place for the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book  to seek astronomy expertise. Because many Blue Book sightings received considerable publicity, Hynek became a familiar figure on TV explaining and commenting on such sightings. By all accounts, Hynek enjoyed this.
 
Hynek's association with Project Blue Book continued while he was at Northwestern, where he basically put together an astronomy department from nothing, hiring professors and establishing courses. Karl Henize (1926-1993), astronomer and astronaut, preceded Hynek, but was called away in 1967 for astronaut training. Henize did not go into space until the Spacelab 2 mission STS-51 on the Challenger in 1985. Henize didn't have much use for Hynek's UFO theorizing. I met Henize once or twice when he was taking a break from astronaut training and came back to Evanston. The book does not mention Henize, who died of altitude-related respiratory failure while trying to ascend Mount Everest at age 66

Hynek eventually founded what was supposed to be a scientific organization, the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Unlike membership UFO organizations like NICAP or MUFON, CUFOS was supposed to consist of  expert researchers, who would finally place the study of UFOs on a solid footing. CUFOS published a number of papers for a number of years, but somehow nothing much was changed in UFOlogy.

O'Connell tells us an important part of the Hynek story that I don't think has ever been published before, concerning Hynek's move to Arizona and what happened there. Hynek took his retirement from Northwestern in 1978, and spent much of his time working with CUFOS. In the summer of 1984 he was persuaded to move down to the Phoenix area by two gold mining entrepreneurs, Tina Choate and Brian Myers, who promised Hynek financial backing from a rich British businessman, Geoffrey Kaye. As might be expected, the deal never worked out as promised. Kaye only committed to pay startup funds for a few months, not nearly enough money to run a UFO organization, although he allowed Hynek to operate out of his "spectacular hacienda in the sun." Worse yet, Myers and Kaye had their own UFO agenda to promote, and  it included sensationalist, unscientific material like the Billy Meier UFO contact hoax. Hynek and his backers soon had a falling out. By this time Hynek's health was beginning to decline, and he died in April, 1986.

The UFO panel I moderated at the 1984 CSICOP Conference at Stanford University:
Hynek, Sheaffer, Andrew Fraknoi, Philip J. Klass, Roger Culver. (Photo by Gary Posner).

Every factual statement O'Connell makes about Hynek and his activities is correct, so far as I am aware. But here is where I disagree with O'Connell's interpretations:

O'Connell has entirely too much enthusiasm for "classic" UFO cases that are largely discredited today. He opens with a vary favorable-sounding account of the "crashed spaceship" story from Aurora, Texas in 1897. While he does allow it to slip out that the case is believed by many to be a hoax, why distract the reader by it? We also hear favorable-sounding accounts of Captain Mantell's plane crash while pursuing a flying saucer, the Newhouse film, the Washington, DC radar sightings, Betty and Barney Hill (he calls the Fish map "unexplained"!), the Coyne helicopter case, Pascagoula, etc, Golden Oldies every one.  All this makes me think that O'Connell is very much uninformed about what has been happening in UFOlogy since Hynek's day. He seems unaware of any skeptical critiques of any of these cases, and does not even mention arch-skeptic Philip J. Klass, who sparred with Hynek on numerous occasions (and who Hynek resolutely refused offers to debate). O'Connell makes much of a supposed running feud between Hynek and Carl Sagan, which frankly is overblown.

Hynek did not have a "brilliant yet largely ignored career as an astrophysicist." In reality, Hynek was sometimes the butt of jokes among astronomers, some of which reached me.  (For a more realistic picture of Hynek's relations with his colleagues, see John Franch's interesting article in the January/February, 2013 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, "The Secret Life of J. Allen Hynek.") Hynek taught only first and second-year astronomy courses at Northwestern, for which he was qualified and quite effective. In fact, when I sat down to code certain calculations for the initial version of my real-time astronomy program RTGUI,  I worked directly from class notes I had taken in Hynek's Introductory Astronomy class. I just coded up the algorithms Hynek gave us. However, Hynek did not teach any graduate-level astronomy courses, or courses for upperclassmen.

A more sober assessment of his career was given by Hynek himself in an interview published in The New Scientist, May 17, 1973:
When I look back on my career, I've done damn little that was original. I seem to have had the ability of seeing the value of an idea and bringing other people together to do something about it. I've never launched any new theories; I've never made any outstanding discoveries. I guess I am not very innovative.
Hynek was gullible. O'Connell informs us of Hynek's fascination with Rosicrucianism, an ancient and absurd metaphysical doctrine, as well as Rudolf Steiner's mystical "spiritual science."  Both seem oddly out-of-place for a late twentieth-century scientific thinker. Hynek also met several times with Michel and Francoise Gauquelin, who were attempting to put astrology on a scientific basis. Jacques Vallee writes in his Forbidden Science (Vol. 1 p. 341), "Yesterday Hynek went back to see the Gauquelins to discuss astrology and destiny." However, Hynek was consistent in denouncing run-of-the-mill claims about astrology.

Another indicator of gullibility was the way Hynek leaped with both feet into the flaky UFO promotional deal in Arizona. A prudent man would have checked everything out and ensured solid financial arrangements before accepting the deal and essentially becoming a celebrity to be marketed. But perhaps the most embarrassing example of Hynek's gullibility is his endorsement of several obviously fake UFO photos produced in 1974 by an eleven year old boy in a Chicago suburb, with help from his ten year old friend. This was broadcast on an NBC-TV documentary, UFOs - Do You Believe? on December 15, 1974. The six photos show an obviously flat, two dimensional object, probably painted on the negative. Unfortunately, the negatives were "accidentally lost" by the boy.  Hynek investigated in person, and found "no reason to believe that they were hoaxing or lying." He concluded that the boy had "a real UFO experience." (The full story is in Chapter 9 of my 1981 UFO book, The UFO Verdict.)

Hynek did not "make the world believe in UFOs." Before there was CUFOS, there was NICAP, headed up during its heyday by the flamboyant Major Donald E. Keyhoe, author of Flying Saucers from Outer Space and other exciting books. Before NICAP came contactee George Adamski (and several others), who received great publicity over their claims of being good friends with visitors from other planets. Before Adamski there was Frank Scully, whose 1950 book Behind the Flying Saucers fooled many people about a crashed flying saucer hoax. Hynek obviously played a role in getting large elements of the public to take UFOs seriously, but he was surely not the sole, or even the major, player. 
 
But in the end, Hynek's attempt to convince his scientific colleagues that UFOs represent a great mystery ended in failure. Much attention was given to Hynek's letter published in Science ( 21 October 1966) "UFOs Merit Scientific Study", in which he famously wrote,
"I have begun to feel that there is a tendency in 20th Century science to forget that there will be a 21st Century science, and indeed a 30th Century science, from which vantage points our knowledge of the universe may appear quite different than it does to us. We suffer, perhaps, from temporal provincialism, a form of arrogance that has always irritated posterity."
The reply to Hynek's letter in Science by William Markowitz, Physics and Metaphysics of Unidentified Flying Objects (15 September 1967), explicitly pointed out some instances of Hynek's inconsistency in his UFO claims, and concluded
We can reconcile UFO reports with extraterrestrial control by assigning various magic properties to extraterrestrial beings. These include ‘teleportation’ (the instantaneous movement of material bodies between planets and stars), the creation of ‘force-fields’ to drive space ships, and propulsion without reaction. The last of these would permit a man to lift himself by his bootstraps. Anyone who wishes is free to accept such magic properties, but I cannot.

Markowitz is not mentioned in the book.

The real problem was that Hynek firmly believed he could determine if a person is lying and if a person is credible, simply by talking with them and looking them in the eye. I heard him say this on more than one occasion. I am sure that any professor of psychology can explain how completely wrong this is. This led Hynek to place far too much confidence in the value of eyewitness testimony, and ignore critical concerns such as Occam's Razor.

Nonetheless, if you overlook O'Connell's enthusiasm for tired old UFO cases, as well as a couple of small errors (APRO was headquartered in Tucson, not Phoenix; Nova Herculis 1934 was nowhere near bright enough to be seen in the daytime), I can strongly recommend his biography of Hynek, and its accompanying fascinating tour through UFO history. 
 
This deflated balloon tells us something about Hynek's penchant for showmanship.

 



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Widespread Sightings Clinch that Jimmy Carter's UFO Sighting was a 'Space Cloud'

In a 2017 posting, I noted how it was suggested that Jimmy Carter's famous UFO sighting from back in 1969 might have actually been a rocket-launched Barium cloud, and not Venus as I (and many others) had earlier supposed. It now appears that this is correct. 

Let us recall a bit of history: Carter's sighting occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from his home town of Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. (Carter mis-remembered the date as sometime on October, 1969, but I contacted the Lions Club headquarters in Illinois, which established the date as January 6). The future President was then the local district governor of the Lion's Club, and had come to Leary to boost the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm, waiting for the Lion's Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported seeing a single "self-luminous" object, "as bright as the moon," which reportedly approached and then receded several times. Mr. Carter reports that his "UFO" was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus, which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees, azimuth 237 degrees. It was shining brilliantly at Magnitude -4.3, brighter than anything else in the sky. Weather records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting.

The southwest sky as seen from Leary, Ga, at about 7:15 PM January 6, 1969. The Bull's Eye shows the calculated position where a barium cloud would have been visible, quite close to Venus. (Sky chart generated using the free open-source program Cartes du Ciel.)

For more information about the sighting itself, see my 2017 posting. My article, "President Carter's "UFO" Is Identified as the Planet Venus" was published in The Humanist magazine, July-August, 1977. This information was repeated and shared widely, and was generally accepted by serious UFO researchers.
 
There the matter stood for, yes, forty years. But in 2016, Carl G. 'Jere' Justus, a former professor at Georgia Tech and a longtime contributor to the Carter library, wrote a comment on a website for the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, a popular skeptic podcast (Episode 561, April 6, 2016). In his commenet, Justus wrote,
I am virtually certain that I have identified the source of what it was that President Carter saw. In the 1960s and early 70s I worked on an Air Force sponsored project that studied the upper atmosphere using releases of glowing chemical clouds, produced by rockets launched from Eglin AFB rocket range in Florida. Some of these chemical clouds, notably sodium and barium, were visible by the process of resonance scattering of sunlight. Clouds of this type had to be launched not long after sunset or not long before sunrise. This was due to the fact that the cloud had to be in sunlight at high altitude, while it was still dark enough at ground level for the cloud to be visible against the dark sky. In Carter's official 1973 UFO report, as given in the Rhodes book, he stated that he had seen the phenomenon in October, 1969, at 7:15 pm EST.

However, it has been determined from Lions Club records that Carter must have seen the 'UFO' when he spoke to their Leary, GA Chapter on January 6, 1969. The report 'U.S. Space Science Program Report to COSPAR, 1970' (QB504.U54, Appendix I, page 154), documents that there was a barium cloud launched from Eglin AFB (Rocket Number AG7.626) and released on January 6, 1969 at 7:35 pm EST (January 7, 1969, 0035 UTC) [COSPAR stands for Committee on Space Research]. The reported altitude for this cloud was 152 km. With a distance between Leary, GA and Eglin AFB, FL of about 234 km, this cloud would have appeared in the sky at an elevation of 33 degrees (consistent with Carter's estimate of a 30 degree elevation). Carter's report notes that stars were visible, so the night must have been clear.

I can verify from personal experience that under clear skies, a barium cloud such as this would easily have been visible from the distance of Leary, GA. Carter reported the UFO 'appeared from West'. The direction of Eglin AFB from Leary, GA is approximately WSW. Thus this barium cloud at Eglin is consistent with Carter's reported 'UFO' as to time, elevation, AND direction. Furthermore, the appearance reported by Carter is totally consistent with a high altitude barium cloud. His report stated that it was 'bluish at first, then reddish, luminous not solid'. A neutral barium cloud would initially glow bluish or greenish, with parts of it taking on a reddish glow as some the barium becomes ionized in the high altitude sunlight. The size and brightness, reported as being about that of the moon, would also be consistent with a barium cloud at Eglin, as viewed from Leary, GA Carter has been reported as saying that he never believed that he had seen an alien spacecraft, but that he had no idea exactly what it was.
Justus expressed his frustration with trying to get this information to the Carter Library, but receiving no response. 

A second researcher, who doesn't want to be credited, submitted the following information about other sightings reported from that region on the evening of January 6, 1969. That pretty well settles the matter, in my view. When Venus is bright in the evening sky, people report it all the time as a UFO. However, they do not all do so at the same time. Rather, Venus reports are random errors, occurring randomly. When a number of people who are not connected in any way all make pretty similar reports of a UFO at the same time, it signals that something unusual was visible at that time. Not necessarily something extraterrestrial, but something you don't see every day.

Greenville News, Greenville, South Carolina, Wednesday,
January 8, 1969. Carter's sighting was Monday, January 6


The A.P.R.O. Bulletin carried accounts of widespread UFO sightings on the night of Carter's sighting

 







 

NASA photo of a Barium Cloud launched into the upper atmosphere.

Thanks to all of the researchers who worked on this. 

Here is the Carter UFO page on my Debunker.com website.



Saturday, July 25, 2020

The "Disclosure" Shoe Finally Drops - And it's a Huge Dud!


We reported last week about the widespread expectation among the "Young Guns" of UFOlogy  of a groundbreaking UFO Disclosure revelation to be published in the New York Times, approximately right now. Well, the Shoe has now Dropped:

Ta-Da!! The New York Times' latest in its series of government UFO stories, with
the obligatory videos of "unidentifieds" taken by Navy Jets


But instead of shock, amazement, and jubilant vindication, the reaction among the UFO Fan Boys is largely that of disappointment and disbelief. Joe Murgia, who we quoted in the previous article as expecting imminent "Disclosure," has now posted to Twitter, "this is not THE article." Quite obviously it isn't.

(Hat tip to Danny Miller)
An article by Jazz Shaw in the Webzine Hot Air, was headlined  "The Latest NY Times “Bombshell” UFO Article Sounded Great, But…"
the reality is that virtually none of this information is new. If you follow the online work of researchers like Danny Silva and Andreas Freeman Stahl (and too many others to list here) or keep up with the more mainstream reporting of investigative journalists like Tim McMillan or M.J. Banias (again, along with many others) at outlets such as Popular Mechanics, Vice, and the War Zone, you would have already been aware of nearly everything covered in this article. Aside from a couple of fresh quotes from some of the key players, this is all information that’s been reported on before.
(Here Shaw has given us almost a Who's Who of UFOlogy's "Young Guns.") And the reaction among longtime observers was equally unenthusiastic. Veteran Canadian UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski posted to Facebook that  the article contained "Nothing of substance at all."

As I predicted, promises of "Disclosure" have once again proven misleading.

As with several earlier widely-read New York Times UFO articles, the authors of the current piece are Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean. Kean is well-known in UFOology as the author of the 2010 book UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record. The book has credibility problems, like her embrace of a Belgian photo hoax (my critical review gives the details). Not long afterward, Kean went all-out promoting a supposed UFO video from Chile that in reality only showed a fly buzzing around. Kean is now turning most of her efforts toward investigating spirits and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. Her most recent book is titled Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (2017). Blumenthal also is the author of various other UFO articles, some promoting claims of alleged UFO abductions.


Leslie Kean took time off from her pursuit of "Spirit Materialization"
to write another UFO article for the New York Times.

The new Times article has the obligatory interview with Luis Elizondo of "To The Stars." It describes him as "the director of the Pentagon’s previous program on unidentified aerial vehicles," even though a Pentagon spokesperson has specifically denied that claim:
The Pentagon said Monday he was a supervisory intelligence specialist in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2008 to 2017, when he resigned. But Elizondo had no assigned responsibilities in the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program and was not assigned or detailed to the Defense intelligence Agency, Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough wrote in an email statement.

But Blumenthal and Kean don't question Elizondo's claim at all, or even seem to be aware of the controversy.
Mr. Elizondo is among a small group of former government officials and scientists with security clearances who, without presenting physical proof, say they are convinced that objects of undetermined origin have crashed on earth with materials retrieved for study.
That's Elizondo's opinion, and he is welcome to it.

The Times authors also interviewed Dr. Eric Davis, an astrophysicist who has a long association with Harold Puthoff of "To The Stars" and Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace.
Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who worked as a subcontractor and then a consultant for the Pentagon U.F.O. program since 2007, said that, in some cases, examination of the materials had so far failed to determine their source and led him to conclude, “We couldn’t make it ourselves.”

The constraints on discussing classified programs — and the ambiguity of information cited in unclassified slides from the briefings — have put officials who have studied U.F.O.s in the position of stating their views without presenting any hard evidence.

Mr. Davis, who now works for Aerospace Corporation, a defense contractor, said he gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency as recently as March about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.”

Mr. Davis said he also gave classified briefings on retrievals of unexplained objects to staff members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 21, 2019, and to staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee two days later.
Dr. Eric Davis
Davis might as well have briefed them about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, for which he has an equal amount of proof - none. Some excitable folks have seized upon Davis' claims as "Disclosure," or at least as proof of something. But Davis has been making these same unfounded claims for some time now. Davis was interviewed by George Knapp, long-time reporter on UFO subjects and longtime Bigelow associate (as well as co-author of Hunt for the Skinwalker with NIDS scientist Colm A. Kelleher), on the all-night high-weirdness radio show Coast to Coast AM on June 24, 2018. Davis claimed there that the government had a crashed UFO recovery program until 1989, when its funding was cut, in spite of its success in recovering UFO crash debris. AATIP was supposed to re-initiate the Crash Retrieval Program, but did not get funding for that.

One of the more interesting things Davis said in that same interview was that a poltergeist apparently followed him home from Skinwalker ranch. The poltergeist phenomenon is "real," he said, and is closely related to the UFO phenomenon. Some people are more "receptive" to this than others, he explained.

But wait - it gets worse.

The Times article interviews Harry Reid, former Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, who was primarily responsible for funneling approximately $22 million in government money from AAWSAP to the business of his campaign contributor Robert Bigelow. It said - by paraphrase and not by direct quote - that Reid "believed that crashes of vehicles from other worlds had occurred and that retrieved materials had been studied secretly for decades, often by aerospace companies under government contracts." Very significant, if true. But the very next day, the indefatigable John Greenewald of The Black Vault posted this to Facebook:

Yesterday, I posted on Twitter about the potential irresponsibility by the NY Times to attribute beliefs to someone like Senator Harry Reid, without offering ANY direct quotes justifying their claim.

Today, the NY Times issued a retraction about part of what they attributed to Harry Reid.
The "correction" that Greenewald apparently shamed the New York Times into imaking.













So Harry Reid's beliefs about saucer crashes are shown to be based on hearsay, and not on any first-hand knowledge. Reid took to Twitter to announce the following:


The days when the New York Times could be considered "serious journalism" have long passed.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

UFO "Disclosure" Coming Next Week, Suggest UFOlogy's "Young Guns."


Those of us who have been in UFOology for some times have seen and heard so many rumors of immanent "UFO Disclosure" (meaning that the government will spill the beans on its supposed UFO secrets) that the entire subject has become something of a running joke. But now, probably as a result of all the attention that UFOs have been getting because of To The Stars and the Navy UFO videos,  a group of enthusiastic newcomers is now stirring up the UFO pot with "investigations" and "discoveries" - many of which have already been checked out - and abandoned - years if not decadies earlier.

Disclosure - Coming Next Week?

 And so now UFOlogy's "Young Guns" are getting all excited about rumors that a major New York Times story is going to be published next week (beginning July 19, 2020)  revealing the existence of government UFO crash retrieval teams or something equally dramatic. (Of course, since Leslie Kean has been a co-author of those recent UFO stories in the New York Times, I'm not so sure I would believe what she wrote, anyway.) This YouTube video from UFO Jesus shares the building excitement (and Luis Elizondo of "To The Stars" has recommended UFO Jesus as a reliable source of information).
"UFO Jesus," who operates "Post Disclosure World"

Those who are styled UFOlogy's "Young Guns" don't have the experience of previous UFO-related manias, and often don't have the patience to learn about what has already happened. It is sometimes said that "young" may not be the best descriptor of this group, as it really isn't about chronological age. Let me suggest that "newbie" is a better descriptor. What this group typically lacks is experience and perspective, rather than age. 

If you're scratching your head trying to figure out what all the fuss is about concerning UFOlogy's "young guns," the best I can suggest is to listen to this somewhat rambling interview between M.J. Banias, and John Greenewald, Jr. of The Black Vault.

UFOlogy's "Young Guns" have already made for themselves a reputation for squabbling,  defensiveness, and blocking dissenters. While I have no personal involvement with any of their groups, I see elsewhere on social media complaints of people being criticized and blocked for being 'negative' - basically, for asking difficult questions. They have created an echo chamber for themsleves - no doubt an exciting place to be - but a place where it is very easy for people to fool themselves. And to be fooled by others. Instead of "Young Guns," I suggest the term "Over-Excited Greenhorns" to be more appropriate.

As of the current time, we still don't know if the prediction of 'Disclosure Next Week' is correct. But I'd certainly bet against it.

I promise, we really will have Disclosure this time!


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Richard Dolan - Three Strikes, and You're Out!! - Strikes Two and Three.



Strike Two: Philip J. Klass Blackmailed by Gay Russian Boyfriend!!


Philip J. Klass (1919-2005) was indisputably the Dean of UFO skeptics. Never has anyone had so much influence as a skeptical investigator of UFOs, or as a "debunker" of unsound UFO claims. (Klass found nothing wrong with the label "debunker": He explained that "a thing can only be 'debunked' if it is filled with bunk in the first place!"

"The Truth", according to Marden and Dolan. ("Crazy Speculation" is more accurate.)

Philip J. Klass, 1977
(photo by author, taken in my house)


Wikipedia describes Klass as:
an American journalist, and UFO researcher, known for his skepticism regarding UFOs. In the ufological and skeptical communities, Klass inspires polarized appraisals. He has been called the "Sherlock Holmes of UFOlogy".[1] Klass demonstrated "the crusader's zeal for what seems 'right,' regardless of whether it brings popular acclaim," a trait he claimed his father instilled in him.... For ten years, Klass worked for General Electric as an engineer in aviation electronics. Dissatisfied with his job, in 1952 he moved to Washington, DC, and joined Aviation Week, which later became Aviation Week & Space Technology. He was a senior editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology for thirty-four years... Klass wrote some of the first articles on inertial guidance systems, infrared missile guidance, and microelectronics....
Aviation Week is fondly known in Defense circles as "Aviation Leak," because it was the first to 'leak out' information about many new military programs and weapons, like the Stealth aircraft. As we will see, the FBI was not pleased with Klass' role in this.

But, according to Dolan and Marden,
In the history of the study of UFOs, Philip J. Klass takes the title as the leading debunker of the subject. For forty years, his name was practically synonymous with the idea of UFO skepticism. He was regularly cited throughout the mainstream media as an authoritative voice on the subject, and his work helped to stifle acceptance about the reality of UFOs. But Kathleen Marden has investigated the background of Philip Klass and found it to be highly questionable. Back in the 1960s, Klass developed a close relationship with a member of the Soviet embassy in Washington, DC and was suspected by the FBI to have been a Soviet asset. What it looks like is that the intelligence community used this against Klass to enlist his services toward full-time UFO debunking efforts. Without a doubt, Klass's knowledge of the UFO subject was superficial, but his relentless smear campaigns and personal attacks against leading UFO researchers more than made up for that. To this day, Klass is lionized by the skeptical community, but in fact, has left them with a shameful legacy.

Just before the show aired, I left the following message on Dolan's "Intelligent Disclosure" website:
Richard, what you say about Phil Klass is full of shit. I knew him and worked with him for many years. "Without a doubt, Klass's knowledge of the UFO subject was superficial" is one of the stupidest things I've read in a long time. Klass' knowledge of UFO cases was encyclopedic, far better than mine; see any one of his books to dispel that notion. "In his memoirs, Moseley contended that, when pressed, most leading ufologists would admit that Klass knew the subject and the people involved and was welcomed, or at least pleasantly tolerated, at UFO meetings" (Wikipedia).

I have placed a great deal of Klass' unedited papers and correspondence on my Debunker website, http://www.debunker.com/historical/historical.html . Read them for yourself and see if you still think he was a UFOlogical simpleton (like Tom DeLonge and Elizondo). A complete collection of Klass' papers is available to researchers at https://search.amphilsoc.org/collections/view?docId=ead/Mss.Ms.Coll.59-ead.xml

Klass told me all about the Russkies who tried to cozy up to him. He informed the FBI about this. Klass worked at Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, where he reported on the latest developments in aviation electronics. They hoped that by hanging out with him, they would get some useful unpublished "leaks". I doubt if they did. The FBI is totally candid about this: http://www.cufon.org/cufon/Klass_FBI.pdf . It talks about disputes and arguments he got into, but says nothing about him being suspected as a Russian agent. (Wait: if the FBI and CIA were covering up aliens, wouldn't Russian agents want to do the opposite, and expose them? This makes no sense.) Klass was indeed a difficult guy to deal with - as I found out on several occasions - but he was not an agent of the KGB, the CIA, or anyone else.
Kathleen Marden worked closely with the late "Flying Saucer Physicist," Stanton Friedman.
Here we are at the 2011 MUFON Symposium in Irvine, CA.
In the podcast, Dolan and Marden take turns picking on Klass. At about 13 minutes in, Dolan said,
It is very likely that Klass was having, let us put it delicately, an inappropriate relationship with a member of the Soviet staff in Washington, DC... In an era where gay relationships were absolutely not out there.
According to Dolan, Klass was "potentially giving secrets to the Soviet Union." If Klass were still alive to hear this, he would punch Dolan in the mouth. Klass was very much an old-fashioned patriotic American. He was a "hawk" during the Viet Nam war - not surprising, since his employer Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine was a pillar of the "military-industrial complex" that was so derided by the Left. As a college student at the time, and potentially subjected to the draft, I disagreed with him about the wisdom of fighting that war. To anyone who knew him, the suggestion that Klass would have done anything to help the Soviet Union was completely ridiculous.

A possibly even bigger absurdity is Dolan's claim that Klass was engaged in a clandestine gay relationship with a member of the Soviet embassy, and was blackmailed. Anyone who knew Klass well can tell you how absurd this is. Klass was, in fact, something of a ladies' man. I remember asking him one time why he hadn't married. He replied something like, "I never wanted to limit myself to one woman." When I first got to know Klass well, after I moved to the Washington, DC area in the fall of 1972, I often visited Klass in his apartment. He lived in a studio apartment, a "bachelor pad," in the Harbour Square apartments in Southwest DC, a pretty "toney" place. I remember him telling me about all the Cabinet members, Congressmen, and other officials who lived there, who he would sometimes encounter. His apartment had a beautiful view of the Washington Monument in the distance, and the Potomac River. He prominently displayed a travel poster for some Carribean destination, showing a bikini-clad woman in a provocative pose. "That is my mother," he would jokingly tell visitors. In the early 1970s,  Klass was seeing a French woman, who I met a few times. When at meetings, if there was an attractive woman who appeared to be unaccompanied, Klass would typically go over and chat her up. The claim that Klass was secretly gay is an obvious non-starter. (By comparison, I also met James "The Amazing" Randi in the late 70s. I soon noted his lack of interest in women, and concluded privately that Randi was gay. But it was not something to talk about: I didn't ask, and he didn't tell. Randi has since publicly "come out" about his sexuality - the documentary movie An Honest Liar tells the full story of that.)

Klass married late in life, at age 60.
I attended his wedding.
Klass finally did marry in 1980, when he was sixty. His wife Nadya was originally from Bulgaria. She managed to escape from the Communist East, and found refuge in the U.S. She worked for the Voice of America in Washington, DC as a broadcaster, reading the news in Bulgarian to the "captive nations" of the Soviet bloc. She, like Phil, was staunchly anti-Communist. After their marriage, Phil and Nadya moved into a larger apartment, in the same complex. I moved to California shortly after  their wedding. Phil and Nadya visited San Jose in the early 1980s, and stayed in my house.

The FBI files on Phil Klass are interesting to read. Frankly, nothing in them surprised me much. On p. 7 of that file, it states that in January, 1958 Klass was referred to the FBI for possible prosecution for "the unauthorized disclosure of information classified 'SECRET' in 'Aviation Week Magazine' article" on "Counter Measures." They don't call it "Aviation Leak" for nothing! Klass was just doing his job. However, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote that the secrets in that two-part article "could not be declassified for purposes of prosecution." In 1964, an unnamed woman (undoubtedly named "Karen" 😏) reported to the FBI (p. 10) that Klass, at that time not yet moved into Harbour Square, allegedly had illicit radio transmitting equipment in his apartment, presumably for purposes of sending spy messages. An investigation failed to confirm this in any way. (I never knew Klass to have any radio transmitting or ham radio equipment, although he did have an electronics desk for little projects. He was, after all, an electrical engineer. But I don't think he used it very much)

The matter of Phil's contacts with someone in the Soviet Embassy is at the heart of Dolan and Marden's accusations. P. 13 of the FBI file tells how, on January 29, 1963, Klass telephoned the FBI office in Washington, to tell them he was having a lunch meeting with [redacted], obviously someone from the Soviet Embassy. Klass himself told me how he had informed the FBI of his visit there, so they would not think anything clandestine was going on. Klass became friends with a guy from the Embassy, they would meet up occasionally on the weekends. I think I even met him once, when I was invited to join them in Phil's sailboat on the Potomac. He didn't say all that much. Why did Klass occasionally hang around with him? I think that each was hoping to glean tidbits of information from the other.

On Feb. 10, 1975, Klass again telephoned the FBI (p. 17) . And "in strong terms laced with sarcasm,  he derided our publication of the article by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, 'The UFO Mystery,' in the  LEB" (Law Enforcement Bulletin). But the FBI was not chastised. "Mr. Klass was politely reminded" that nowhere in the article "does Hynek suggest that UFOs are extra-terrestrial in origin." The report concludes, "In view of Klass' intemperate criticism and often irrational statements he made to support it, we should be circumspect in any future contacts with him"!!

This was what Klass was complaining to the FBI about.
One thing that is is puzzling is the repeated presence in the FBI files (p. 27) of one "Philip J. Klass, Box 6030, Dallas, Texas 75222." This is obviously a different individual, and apparently one who was impersonating the "real Klass." At no time did Klass live in Texas, and so far as I know he never spent much time there, although he visited a lot of cities on Aviation Week business, speaking with manufacturers of avionics devices. In 1976 this pseudo-Klass apparently mailed 28 pages of crackpot stuff to the FBI which was supposed to be "secret" but was actually just nonsense. "The writer is most likely not in full possession of his faculties, e.g. the reference to 'psychic time bomb,' 'Jewish subconscious transformation,' " etc.  The FBI sent those papers to an expert in the Department of Defense, who concluded that "this information was probably conjured up as a hoax" (p. 46). The FBI expressed doubt whether the Texas "Klass" was in fact the real one.

What is funny (and revealing) is the FBI's comment that Klass "displays a sardonic attitude when he contacts WFO" (Washington Field Office, p. 41). I can absolutely believe that.

The most recent items in Klass' FBI file pertains to some queries Klass made to the FBI in 1987 (p. 52). Noting that numerous articles had appeared in different publications discussing the use of "psychics" in law enforcement, Klass asked about the FBI's policy on the use of "psychics" in its investigations. The reply was, "Currently, the FBI has no rules or regulations concerning the use of clairvoyants in conducting investigations." In a later letter, Klass pointed out how a woman was boasting of giving several lectures to the FBI Academy on the use of 'psychic powers' in investigations. This time, the FBI's reply stated, "the FBI National Academy, as an educational facility, has an obligation to offer a full range of courses, which are responsive to the needs and interests of its students," noting that this does not constitute an "endorsement" of such claims. ( The "psychic detective" was Noreen Renier, whose name we see through a 'failure of redaction' on p. 59!)

Noreen Renier, the "Psychic Detective" who lectured at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia

And that is essentially everything in the FBI files pertaining to Philip J. Klass. Nowhere does it suggest that Klass "was suspected by the FBI to have been a Soviet asset," as Dolan claims. But Marden and Dolan will live to regret their foolish slander. They will fall victim to the full force of Klass' famous UFO CURSE!!
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF PHILIP J. KLASS

To ufologists who publicly criticize me, ... or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE:

No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse. (published in James Moseley's newsletter Saucer Smear, October 10, 1983)
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                        Strike Three: The Roswell Slides

"History Changes" when Maussan (and his pals, including Richard Dolan) reveal "the Roswell Slides."
To longtime UFOlogical observers, it seems like just yesterday that everyone was talking about the "Roswell Slides," supposedly two slides showing a dead alien that turned up in somebody's estate sale. But since many people were recently lured into the "Land of UFOria" (as Uncle Phil used to call it) by all of the publicity about Tom DeLonge, TTSA, AATIP, etc., the newcomers may not be aware of this.  It was just five years ago on Cinco de Mayo that Richard Dolan enthusiastically participated in the now-infamous "BeWitness" presentation, organized by the sensationalist UFO huckster Jaime Maussan in Mexico City. As one news story explained,
On May 5 at an event called Be Witness at the National Auditorium in Mexico City hosted by Jaime Maussan, never-before-seen images of the alleged Roswell alien were released with claims that the images have been verified for authenticity and that they prove that aliens do exist...

Maussan revealed during the event that the photos show that extraterrestrial life exists. “That is why the presentation of two slides, two transparencies, where a being with non-human features can be seen, is very important, especially if these photos were dated by experts during a period, where the model of the archetype extraterrestrial we know today did not exist, but also because it was also impossible to doctor these type of images in such a way,” Maussan said.

Other experts who attended the event included Richard Dolan, a leading US researcher and writer on UFOs, Edgar Mitchell, an astronaut who was the sixth person to land on the moon, and other experts in the field of UFO and space. All of them unanimously voiced their support for the authenticity of the photographs and said that they haven’t been doctored.
Richard Dolan (seated at right), participating in Jaime Maussan's "BeWitness" clown show.

After months of breathless promotion, the "Roswell Slides" came crashing down quickly, after a sufficiently clear photo was leaked to outside researchers. When competently analyzed by researchers outside of Maussan's clown show, the placard next to the body was clearly shown to read, "MUMMIFIED BODY OF TWO YEAR OLD BOY." The slides showed the preserved body of a young Native American boy that had once been on display in the Mesa Verde Archaeological Museum, and not a space alien.


             Richard Dolan: Three Strikes, and You're Out!

You now join Steven Greer, Bob Lazar, Billy Meier, Linda Moulton Howe, Corey Goode, etc., in the exclusive Club of UFOlogists whose credibility has plunged to Zero. Congratulations!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Richard Dolan - Three Strikes, and You're Out!! Strike One - the "UFO Leak of the Century" Collapses


For years now, Richard Dolan has promoted himself as a 'sensible,' or 'thoughtful', or 'conservative' UFO researcher and commentator. How he has gotten away with this branding is puzzling. As I wrote back in 2013 after hearing Dolan speak at the National UFO Congress:

Dolan managed to bring in just about every loopy idea that has come up in recent years: ancient pyramids, crash retrievals, reverse-engineeered alien technology, a "secret space program," alien hybrids, telepathic alien contact, and mind control. Mention this the next time somebody refers to Dolan as a "conservative UFOlogist." The reason for the UFO cover up, he suggested, is because the secret of the UFOs' alien propulsion system threatens petroleum interests, the same claim that Steven Greer makes in the wild conspiracy movie Thrive.
In recent years Dolan has managed to get himself quite tangled up in three major gaffes that completely refute the notion that he is careful or credible in any sense. These are not minor errors or oversights or misquotations, but extended gaffes of colossal magnitude. He has enthusiastically leapt with both feet into making sensational, foolish claims, where wise men fear to tread.


Strike One: Dolan's "UFO Leak of the Century" Collapses


In 2019 Dolan pretty much 'bet the farm' promoting what he called the "UFO Leak of the Century." It's a rather confusing narrative, based on  some leaked notes apparently written by Dr. Eric Davis, after a supposedly clandestine meeting with Admiral Thomas Ray Wilson, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1999 until 2002. Prior to that Wilson served as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs from 1997 to 1999.

Dolan writes,
So what are we talking about?

These are notes by Dr. Eric Davis from October 16, 2002. [uploaded anonymously to imageur on April 19, 2019]

Who is Eric Davis? He is a scientist, but surely qualifies as a very interesting scientist. For many years, during the 1990s, he was a member of the National Institute for Discovery Sciences, which of course was owned by billionaire Robert Bigelow. NIDS was a very important organization back then and brought scientific rigor to many interesting areas of research connected to UFOs and beyond. The mystery of the black triangles, for instance. And most famously the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, something Davis was very much involved in studying.
Davis is also a close associate of Dr. Hal Puthoff, who owns the scientific company Earthtech. Dr. Puthoff of course has an extensive career in science and the world of intelligence. Along with Russell Targ he developed the protocols for America’s classified remote viewing program in the 1970s and 80s. He is an expert on Zero Point Energy and what is called spacetime metric engineering. Think about that for a moment. And he has also has worked closely with Bigelow on a number of occasions. Plus of course he is an integral member of To the Stars Academy (TTSA).
These notes "were written by Davis in the aftermath of a meeting he had with Wilson in October 2002. They concern a series of events that took place during the spring of 1997, when Wilson was Deputy Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What took place during this meeting was a discussion of very great importance. It concerned nothing less than a confirmation of the existence of deeply classified programs to study alien technology. That is, extraterrestrial aliens. Their craft and technology."

Dr. Eric Davis
Dolan writes that according to the leaked notes,
Wilson confirmed that he was able to confirm in June 1997 that “there is such an organization in existence” in relation to “MJ-12/UFO cabal – crashed UFO.” At that time, this is late June 1997, Wilson phoned [Lt. Commander Willard] Miller and apparently told him that yes, he was right. There is such a group, a cabal, that manages the crashed UFO program...

After reading this Wilson laughed and said that he “didn’t tell Miller EVERYTHING,” whatever that means. Then Wilson said “Miller can make good educated guesses on who (contractors) has alien hardware.” Then, “Miller can give good advice on which defense companies to look at – that’s all he knows.”

Clearly, Wilson knew a lot more.

Wilson was also angry that Miller, a fellow Navy officer, betrayed the trust of their conversation by relaying it to Greer and who knows who else. In reality, it doesn’t seem that Miller told many other people. Davis in his note added that Miller only told Edgar Mitchell, who was the one who told Davis about it in 1999. It’s possible that Miller told something to journalist Leslie Kean. At least this is what Wilson believed in his conversation with Davis in 2002.

Wilson was clearly nervous even in talking with Davis and said he was taking a risk just talking with him. And indeed, two decades later, the entire conversation is now out.
Most significant of all, Admiral Wilson allegedly tracked down the defense contractors who were supposedly working on the 'crashed UFO' program. He was reportedly told that he didn't have the necessary clearances to be told about it, even though Wilson was the Director of Intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff!

Edgar Mitchell
It may be of interest that "CE5" Steven Greer and the late astronaut Edgar Mitchell were also involved in this story. Dolan argues, in his own inimitable way, that "It’s will be impossible to debunk this leak as a hoax or fabrication. At most, skeptics might argue that somehow these men were given wrong information. But as you will see, this is also not a credible argument."

But this story/rumor has been kicking around for many years because of Steven Greer and Edgar Mitchell, although the pages uploaded to imageur in 2019 had not been seen before. Nonetheless, there were some obvious "red flags" associated with the story, which should have given pause to anyone who might take it seriously. First, Steven Greer is involved, whose history of promoting UFO absurdities should give pause to any rational person. Second, and more significantly, UFO researcher and blogger Billy Cox interviewed Admiral Wilson back in 2008, and wrote,
A former high-ranking military intelligence official rumored to have been snubbed in his attempts to obtain sheltered UFO data insists he never even bothered to look for it.

“Never,” retired Rear Adm. Thomas R. Wilson replied Tuesday when asked if he’d ever been barred from retrieving classified material, exotic or otherwise, during his career.

Wilson, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was head of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997 when he agreed to meet at the Pentagon with advocates of UFO declassification. Among them, he confirms, was Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

The driving force behind that meeting was North Carolina UFO researcher and emergency-room doctor Steven Greer. Greer founded The Disclosure Project in an effort to grant amnesty to government whistle-blowers willing to violate their security oaths by sharing insider knowledge about UFOs.

At least seven years ago (http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc788.htm), Greer was telling audiences about extracting a pledge from Wilson during that meeting to investigate special access projects involving UFO technology. But shortly thereafter, Greer claimed Wilson reported that he didn’t have the proper security clearance to inspect those files.

As Greer informed a Portland, Ore., audience in 2001, Wilson said, ” ‘I am horrified that this is true. I have been in plenty of black projects, but when we tried to get into this one,’ he was told, and I quote, ‘Sir, you do not have a need to know.’ The head of intelligence Joint Staffs. You don’t have a need to know. Neither did the CIA director, and neither did the president.”

This story has been circulating on the Internet ever since, and made it into Greer’s book “Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge,” last year. But the thing didn’t sprout legs until Mitchell began discussing the meeting during what turned out to be a media blitz in July.

So, Admiral Wilson acknowledged that he had met with Greer and Mitchell back in 1997, but denied their claim that he had been refused access to classified UFO records. And this was known in back in 2008!
“What is true is that I met with them,” Wilson said in a phone interview. “What is not true is that I was denied access to this material, because I didn’t pursue it. I may have left it open with them, but it was not especially compelling, not compelling enough to waste my staff’s time to go looking for it.”
Remember that this refers only to a 1997 meeting, and has nothing to do with any alleged meeting in 2002, which claim had not yet been made.

But back to Billy Cox: After Dolan's big hoopla about the clandestine meeting supposedly taking place in a car in Las Vegas in 2002 between Admiral Wilson and Eric Davis, Cox contacted Wilson again. On June 15, 2020 Cox (who is certainly no "debunker") wrote,
The admiral at the center of controversial notes describing his inability to access a classified UFO research program says the documents are bogus. Furthermore, he says the alleged author of those notes, physicist Dr. Eric Davis, never interviewed him.

“It’s all fiction,” says former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Thomas Wilson, from his home in Virginia. “I wouldn’t know Eric Davis if he walked in right now”....
In his first public statement on Core Secrets, Wilson rejected the entire premise of the meeting and his role in it. The notes indicate that Wilson and Davis rendezvoused in Las Vegas, inside a car attended by three uniformed military personnel, in the parking lot of the Special Projects Building of defense contractor EG&G.

“I’m not saying that sometime, somewhere, I never met (Davis), but I certainly don’t know him, I don’t remember him, and I definitely did not sit with him in a car for an hour in Las Vegas,” Wilson told De Void.

“You may also see in those notes where I came with two other naval officers, a lieutenant and a lieutenant commander, and a petty officer who was driving the car. I was not even in the Navy then. And the Navy was certainly not ferrying me around in a car at that point.

“Those notes are really detailed – it’s like somebody wrote a fiction piece,” Wilson said.
Cox further notes that Davis "has never affirmed or denied his ostensible authorship of Core Secrets when pressed over the past year. He did, however, tell the New York Post in May that the documents were leaked by the estate of the late astronaut and Apollo 14 moonwalker Dr. Edgar Mitchell."

So what is going on here? Did Davis write up the 15 pages uploaded anonymously to imageur to promote a hoax? Did somebody else write them? That seems unlikely, since Davis was given the opportunity to disavow them, but did not.

Perhaps the most interesting suggestion for the origin of these pages comes from John Greenewald, Jr. of The Black Vault. In a Youtube video, Greenewald notes the similarity of the supposed Davis notes to a film script, pointing out that the enormously successful series The X-Files had ended just a few months earlier. From his experience in the film industry, Greenewald offers "my crazy theory" that the Davis papers were written as a scene for a TV or movie script. (Remember that Wilson himself had suggested "it’s like somebody wrote a fiction piece.")  In this view, Davis had sent Mitchell a copy of his notes for a proposed TV series. After Mitchell's death in 2016, somebody with access to his documents anonymously uploaded the proposed script to imageur, presumably  believing it to be factual. I don't think that's such a "crazy idea" at all.

Veteran UFOlogist Kevin Randle has just published his commentary on the Davis/Wilson matter. He notes how a number of prominenet UFOlogists have been attempting to contact Davis about this, but Davis is refusing to answer any questions. Even from the Executive Director of MUFON, Jan Harzan. Randle notes that since Davis was "a consultant to MUFON, you’d think that a response to the Executive Director would be forthcoming." Nope. This looks very, very bad for the credibility of Eric Davis. And of Richard Dolan.




Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More History of 'Pentagon Woo' from Annie Jacobsen - Part 2



Continuing the Discussion of Annie Jacobsen's 2017 book Phenomena
Continued from Part 1

  • "The potential of prophecy as a military intelligence tool was also being investigated by the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Sun Streak banner," Project P (p. 336)! It was "a utility assessment initiated to determine a remote viewer's ability to function effectively in a purely predictive mode."
  • Another innovative project undertaken by Sun Streak was "Written Remote Viewing" (WRV, p. 340). Some remote viewers objected that this amounted to "channeling," which of course it did. But I don't see how you can maintain that spoken descriptions constitute valid "Remote Viewing," while written descriptions are bogus and mystical.
  • Project "Sun Streak" was later changed to "Star Gate," which would "identify people with 'talent'... The concept of Extraordinary Human Functioning developed by Albert Stubblebine and John Alexander in the early 1980s would be reintroduced" (p. 362).
  •  "In 2014, the Office of Naval Research embarked on a four-year, $3.85 million research program to explore the phenomenon it calls premonition and intuition, or 'Spidey sense,' for sailors and Marines... The Pentagon's focus is to maximize the power of the sixth sense for operational use" (p. 380). This description was published in 2017; did this program attain its goals by 2018? Was it extended, and still ongoing?
    A scene from the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats (to test using  'psychic powers' to harm enemy soldiers). This actually was done. Jacobsen mentions this only in an endnote, calling the book "satirical" (it was indeed funny, but also factual). She notes that the book and the movie "enhanced negative perception of remote viewing" ("deservedly," I would add).

  • "Starting in 2011, as part of a research program called Power Dreaming, soldiers plagued by PTSD-related nightmares have used biofeedback techniques similar to those studied by Colonel John Alexander in the Intelligence and Security Command's Beyond Excellence program, under Geneeral Stubblebine" (p. 382)
  • "The Pentagon currently [2017] supports more than fifty qigong-based programs for soldiers and veterans, the majority of whom suffer from PTSD" (p. 383). "Qigong" is based on "chi," an ancient Chinese belief in mystical energies that has no basis in science. I would think that soldiers and veterans deserve treatments based on solid medical science, not ancient quackery.
  • "Since 1985, Hal Puthoff has been chief scientist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, in Texas... The Institute's Research arm, Earth Tech International, manages thirty-two subcontracts, mostly military and intelligence related" (p. 388). One of the researchers at Earth Tech is astrophysicist Dr. Eric Davis, who formerly worked for Bigelow's NIDS, and stayed at the Skinwalker Ranch trying to study its supposed paranormal phenomena. Davis told reporter George Knapp that one time a poltergeist followed him home from Skinwalker Ranch! (I hate it when that happens.) Davis also also the author of five of the 38 papers on Weird Science paid for by AAWSAP, on subjects like "wormholes" and "anti-gravity."
  • "Sources at the Defense Intelligence Agency confirmed to me that Earth Tech International has for years maintained a Defense Department contract to investigate what are known as 'excess energy' claims" (p. 389). "Excess energy" is a euphemism for "energy from nothing," or "a perpetual motion machine." Puthoff says that the Defense Department comes to them to "disprove" extraordinary excess energy claims. "So far we have disproven all of them." I'm glad to hear that, but I don't see why the Defense Department needs to spend taxpayer money refuting such claims. But in any case, Puthoff is a big proponent of "zero-point energy," or 'free energy' from the vacuum of space. "To harness zero-point energy could, Puthoff posits, lead to a general theory about ESP and PK phenomena" (p. 390). Fortunately, Jacobsen also took the trouble to consult physicist and CSI fellow Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss, a well-known skeptic. Kraus told her (correctly, in my view) that "Zero-point energy is the lowest [energy] point in the universe. If you could extract energy out of it, there would have to be a lower point. There isn't a lower step on the staircase."  
  • The supposed "Atacama humanoid," which was identified by Dr. Nolan.
  • "Dr. Green teamed up with Nolan lab at Stanford University, run by Gary Nolan, one of the world's leading research scientists specializing in genetics, immunology, and bioinformatics" (p. 398). Gary Nolan was a member of To The Stars Academy's Advisory Board when it was founded in 2017. However, Dr. Nolan resigned in October of 2018, citing "conflicts" with his other work agreements. However, he added that he still is "fully supportive" of TTSA and its goals. Nolan also was responsible for the genetic analysis of the so-called Atacama humanoid, which was being promoted by Steven Greer as a likely ET. Nolan reported that, alas, this specimen, while deformed, was nonetheless a female human fetus
Jacobsen trveled to Detroit to do an in-depth interview of Dr. Kit Green. Much of this interview has been excerpted on her Blog by by Pauline Wilson. Those who are concerned about possible 'unauthorized secret medical experiments' at the Skinwalker Ranch need to read this interview. Green tells us exactly what he is studying:
Using the technology available to him. Green orders brain scans, specialized blood, DNA and endocrine test and compiles the results. At present he has more than one hundred active patients. His original hypothesis was that a majority of his patients had "been exposed to technology from black programs," he says, that is, advanced state-of-the-art, high-energy technologies developed in Special Access Programs. "Nonlethal weapons programs. Holograms. Cloaking devices. Drones. Twenty five percent of my patients die within five to seven years of my diagnosis, and I have no idea of how any programs I knew about years ago can do these things," Green says....In effect, Kit Green and Gary Nolan are searching for a gene for paranormality. Or, as Green prefers to say, "The genomics of supernormality" (p. 400).
"Supernormality," as in Uri Geller or Ingo Swann - what combination of genes supposedly convey psychic super powers?.

Clearly, Annie Jacobsen is a "believer" that there was value in the government investigations of PSI functions. She hints that a better-managed program might turn up something of real value. She mentions a few skeptics, always in an unfavorable light, especially James Randi and Martin Gardner. She depicts Randi as a rather closed-minded, spiteful person who has an obsession with Geller. I have known Randi for over forty years, and I can assure you that this is not true. Like many magicians, Randi was appalled to see the media attention - and even credulous scientific attention - given to Geller, who was obviously performing the same spoon-bending and other tricks that are the magician's staple. Jacobsen tells how she visited Geller in Israel, where he is  a big celebrity recognized everywhere, and asked to bend a spoon, which he usually does. She shows no skepticism about Geller's magic powers.

At the CSICOP Conference in Buffalo, NY, 1983: Standing, Philip J. Klass. Seated: Pip Smith and Dick Smith
of Australia; the author; John Merrell; Randi. Note that Randi's fork has mysteriously bent!


Here we see the big problem with the book - Jacobsen falls for Geller's spoon-bending tricks, and thus considers Puthoff, Green, etc. to be scientists on the verge of making great discoveries. Sorry, but I have seen too much of the 'other side' to find that convincing. I used to hang out a lot with the late Bob Steiner, magician and CSICOP Fellow. Steiner used to love to do impromptu magic tricks practically everywhere he went, and the old spoon-bending trick was one of his favorites (as it was with Randi, also a close friend of Steiner). I should perhaps note that time spent with Randi and Steiner was pretty much nonstop jokes and fun. Truly fine times!

Uri Geller did a show in San Francisco in 1984. The Bay Area Skeptics went out in force to observe, and take notes. We clearly saw him cheating. I have just now placed BAS' full analysis of Geller's performance on-line.
Steiner always used to say that there were plenty of ways to bend spoons, so he was reluctant to show people any one method. They might say, "But Geller didn't do it that way, so his powers must be real!" Nope.