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MAGONIA Monthly Supplement No. 14 April 1999

From: Mark Pilkington <m.pilkington@virgin.net>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 21:42:31 +0100
Fwd Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 18:46:05 -0400
Subject: MAGONIA Monthly Supplement No. 14 April 1999


MAGONIA Monthly Supplement        No. 14  April 1999    
(formerly ETH Bulletin)
Interpreting contemporary vision and belief

Editor: JOHN HARNEY
            
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EDITORIAL

Ufologists who support the ETH can easily find cases which appear to point
to it as a possible explanation, but the main weakness of such cases is
that the testimony never seems to be confirmed by independent witnesses.
Where there are said to be such witnesses, their testimony remains
mysteriously unavailable, as in a number of incidents I have discussed in
previous issues. If there really are well-witnessed, inexplicable UFO
incidents, there can't be many of them. Perhaps someone would like to
furnish us with a list of them?

______________________________________________________________________

LATEST BUFORA BUST-UP

The recent crisis in BUFORA, involving the resignations of key
members, highlights one of the perennial problems of ufology -
the tension between the majority, who believe in the flying
saucers and see UFO organisations as having a duty to entertain
them and to reinforce their beliefs, and the minority who prefer
to carry out objective investigations of apparent UFO incidents
with a view to discovering the truth about them.

This latest bust-up has prompted me to have a root through back
issues of Magonia and its predecessors, MUFOB and Merseyside UFO
Bulletin. There are many items concerning the fights and feuds
in British ufology and they nearly all have the same cause. It
is simply that there always have been intelligent and sensible
people interested in UFO reports who fail to realise that formal
UFO organisations exist for the benefit of those who believe in
the flying saucers. When such UFO organisations get hold of an
interesting case, they invent details to spice it up, then
present it in various forms to entertain their fellow believers.
Objective investigations and rational explanations are
definitely unwelcome. Pseudoscience is preferred to science, as
science is too difficult and its application is all too likely
to lead to true explanations, which can be very boring, and can
undermine the faith of those who attend daft lectures and buy
gee-whiz books.

There is nothing new about the turmoil in BUFORA and there is
nothing new about Malcolm Robinson's policy of including cranks,
publicity seekers and the mentally unbalanced in his lecture
programme. What is unusual, though, is that there are increasing
numbers of UFO researchers who are no longer prepared to
tolerate the activities of such people. In the old days one
could attend a UFO conference and see sceptics, objective
researchers and cranks happily sharing the same platform. The
cranks got all the applause, of course.

Now some of the saner ufologists have decided that enough is
enough. But, one wonders: Why did they ever even contemplate
joining BUFORA in the first place? BUFORA has always had among
its members many eccentric and gullible people, pseudoscientists
with fake PhDs, "Captains" who never went to sea, and other
oddities. Yet some people persist in believing that
organisations like BUFORA can be reformed if only a few sane
people join them. In his resignation letter, BUFORA Press
Officer Dr David Clarke wrote: "As a working journalist of ten
years I felt I could be a great asset for the association, and
was initially under the impression that my experience and skills
would be valued by council. I anticipated working closely with
council members to promote BUFORA as the premier national UFO
study group, committed to high standards and setting a
responsible example to other groups, individuals and the outside
world."

Magonia's predecessor, Merseyside UFO Bulletin, was started
because I and a few others found BUFORA and its affiliates to be
insufferable. And that was way back in 1968. The Bulletin
followed on from MUFORG Bulletin, which I had started as a
member of that group (which was affiliated to BUFORA) in 1966.
Sceptical and sensible members of the group contributed
interesting items to MUFORG Bulletin; the believers and
head-bangers contributed nothing, but complained loudly about
its content. They apparently wanted vaguely uplifting stories
about blond-haired Venusians, together with the occasional
technical piece about anti-gravity drives for flying saucers.
The rows that resulted when the believers did not get what they
wanted could be amusing, though. In 1969, I wrote, concerning
MUFORG and MUFORG Bulletin:


Towards the end of 1966 we got even more controversial. In
September I went to the BUFORA Northern Conference in Bradford
and heard Mr Arthur Shuttlewood holding forth for two solid
hours about the Warminster phenomena. My scathing review of this
event, in the October 1966 issue of the Bulletin, brought two
indignant letters in support of Shuttlewood for publication in
the December issue.

However, in that December issue we really excelled ourselves.
Alan Sharp wrote a lyrical piece, "Moonlight at Warminster",
which practically suggested that observers there were victims of
their own overwrought imaginations. We also published reviews of
the BUFORA Annual General Meeting, written by Dave Hughes and
Paul Hopkins. Both reviews were highly critical, with plenty of
sarcastic comments. I must admit, though, that Hopkins puzzled
me at the time by complaining in his write-up that he had to pay
3/- [3 shillings =3D 15 pence!] for "temporary membership" in
order to be admitted. I had also attended the meeting, but I
just walked straight into the hall, assuming that the people
clustered around the table were merely intent on buying the UFO
books and magazines inevitably offered for sale at such events!

These reviews resulted in some "more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger"
letters from BUFORA officials [they didn't just ignore their
critics in those days] and a great shouting match at the January
1967 MUFORG meeting, which sought to establish whether or not
the contents in the December issue were justified. The shouting
died down after about half an hour and the result was generally
agreed to be a draw. (1)

When I left MUFORG nobody took on the task of editor and the
group gradually disintegrated as its sane members found better
things to do with their spare time.

In 1970, John Rimmer wrote:

Then there's the BUFORA in-group. Very interesting this one. It
should be required study for organisational psychologists. The
plots and counter-plots are Machiavellian. I find them
fascinating, but I am the sort of sadist who finds
self-destruction fascinating. . . .

Yet the BUFORA people are all honourable men, why do they behave
in this way? Chiefly, I think, because they have run out of
ideas. Because they are sterile, devoid of any new ideas,
incapable of adjusting a way of thinking. This leads to
pomposity, a deep, self-assured feeling that any criticism is
the work of an inferior intellect. . . .

Face it! The average ufologist wants to go to a group and hear
someone telling him about the space people. If he's over
twenty-five he wants to hear about the nice space people. If
he's under twenty-five he wants to hear about the nasty space
people. The last thing he wants to do is study and investigate,
or pay out any of his easy earned money so that others can. Even
the investigation is limited. If you accept, as most do, that
the UFOs are space craft there is little you can do except panic
and wait for them to announce themselves. And most people are
doing this very well indeed. (2)

This article was "noted with some dismay" by Richard Beet of the
Surrey Investigation Group on Aerial Phenomena in the next issue
(Vol. 3, No. 4) of Merseyside UFO Bulletin, and he went on to
emphasise the need for organised groups. However, in ufology,
organised groups just do not work; they serve largely to
entertain believers and to spread disinformation about common
misperceptions and unusual phenomena. I believe that one of the
main mistakes made by those UFO organisations who start with the
intention to be objective is in allowing anyone to join, instead
of operating a strict, even if informal, selection procedure.
Such groups would be small, but would surely be more effective
and more respected. There are not many sensible and intelligent
folk who take a healthily sceptical interest in UFOs. As Peter
Brookesmith put it, it is "dark and lonely work, but someone has
to do it". (3)


References

1. Harney, John. "A Personal View of the Sixties", Merseyside
   UFO Bulletin,

2, 6, November-December 1969

2. Rimmer, John. "The Death and Life of British Ufology",
   Merseyside UFO Bulletin, 3, 3, June-July 1970

3. Brookesmith, Peter. "Dark and Lonely Work", Magonia, 52,
   May 1995

______________________________________________________________________

BOOK REVIEWS

David M. Jacobs. The Threat, Simon & Schuster, 1998. =9C16.99, $23.00

This book has so far generated some derision, but little
comment. Jacobs, a professor of history at Temple University in
Philadelphia, has been researching UFOs since 1966, but is not a
man to rush to conclusions. His 1975 book The UFO Controversy in
America was a proper academic study which tried to sit on the
fence, though it showed signs of falling off on the ETH side. By
the late 1970s he "could no longer deny that witnesses were
seeing something extraordinary and probably not from Earth". In
1986 he performed his first hypnotic regression. Since then he
has regressed over a hundred abductees, and in recent years he
has come to believe he has thereby "uncovered information that
allows UFO researchers to solve the UFO mystery".

We have heard this claim many times before. Unfortunately, all
of the definitive solutions to the UFO mystery have been
different, and mostly mutually incompatible.

Jacobs believes that aliens are unable to reproduce themselves
properly, so they are abducting our women and forcing them into
a breeding programme intended to create human-alien hybrids who
will eventually take over the world. Huge numbers of busy aliens
must be engaged therein: he estimates that more than a million
Americans have been abducted, perhaps as many as five million,
sometimes regularly: one woman "had as many as 100 abductions
during a one-year period" (and to her distress her family and
friends refused to believe her). Their genetic science is so
advanced that they can even use women who are postmenopausal or
who have had hysterectomies. Some hybrids are already
sufficiently like us that they can mingle with humans unnoticed
for up to a few hours. As students of urban legend will have
guessed, while on Earth they like to travel about in unmarked
vans and black helicopters. Even if the world's scientists wake
up to The Threat, they may be too late to prevent it, since "The
Change" (when "they" will start to rule openly, apparently) is
coming in not more than two generations, perhaps in as little as
five years.

The trouble is that this is one of those theories that, if true,
should never have got into print. The ruthless aliens are
supposed to have already reached the stage where they can do
what they like with us, and since they monitor abductees closely
(through their implants, he suggests) they must know that he has
learnt their secrets: surely then they would have silenced him
(or did they allow him to publish as a double bluff?). Yet
Jacobs is obviously completely sincere, and so probably are his
abductees. If one is to dismiss his findings, then it is worth
asking how come he has apparently obtained a consistent body of
evidence for something that is not real?

Firstly, at least some of these cases seem to have begun with a
genuinely inexplicable event. One woman wrote to him: "In 1979
my boyfriend and I saw a UFO close up and it swooped down low
towards us. All I remember was running, and then we found
ourselves in our car and it was six hours later. I have thought
about this incident every day of my life since then."
Unfortunately he does not tell us anything more about this
woman, though one may suppose that he hypnotised her and got her
to recall her abduction.

If so, he would have been making a crucial assumption. When
dealing with the unknown, one ought to consider every
possibility. Reports of "missing time" might, for instance, be
caused by people going into trances for some reason. If so, then
it would be futile to regress them, since there would be nothing
lost for them to recall.

In most instances, however, the evidence that the subject might
have been abducted is pretty vague, e.g. a woman who sat in on
his university course "UFOs and American Society" started to
feel so uncomfortable that she had to stop attending. Later they
concluded that she had been abducted 13 times in 1994 alone.

In another case, a graduate student could recall having been
molested by a stranger at the age of twelve. Under hypnotic
regression, however, the incident turned out to have been a
screen memory for "a routine abduction event". This anecdote
raises all kinds of possibilities that Jacobs doesn't explore,
not least that alien abductions might be screen memories for
ordinary sexual abuse.

Though he says he is careful not to ask leading questions, it is
hard to believe that he does not put his own interpretation on
events. He states that aliens purposely place "instilled
memories" in the abductee's mind: "I have had people remember
figures that looked like Abraham Lincoln wearing a stovepipe
hat, men wearing fedoras, angels, devils, and so forth." A
hypnotist with a different agenda might regard the angels or
devils as real, but the aliens as "instilled memories". One
woman recalled being assaulted and raped, a candle pushed into
her vagina, and seeing a vision of people being hacked to death
in a graveyard. This could have been taken as a classic example
of Satanic Abuse, but here it is interpreted as caused by
hybrids intimidating her so that she would co-operate with them.

Then again, some other abductionists believe that the US
military is secretly working with the aliens. Not so, says
Jacobs: some hybrids wear one-piece jump suits that resemble
uniforms so "it is easy to mistake them for American military
personnel". One gathers that he has to set his abductees
straight on this point.

What is the proof for all this? Attempts have been made to video
abductees at night. "So far, no abductions have been videotaped.
Rather, tapes reveal people getting up and inexplicably turning
off the VCR, or unusual power outages during which the camera
turns off, or the camera simply goes off mysteriously." Jacobs
is also well aware that false memory and confabulations are
common, and devotes a chapter to this difficulty. Apparently he
judges the stories by their similarity. Melissa, the very first
woman he regressed, described how she touched an alien's head
and "immediately felt, love, warmth, and affection emanating
from him". But she did not recall this on her second regression,
and no other abductee has reported having been "required to
touch an alien's head and receive loving emotions". Therefore he
concludes that this was a false memory. It would seem from this
that those things he thinks are genuine must be true because
more than one abductee reports them. An example is "Mindscan",
reported by several named subjects, where an alien stares at a
woman to make her sexually aroused, sometimes to the point of
intense orgasm. (Does the hypnotist merely make them recall
this, or actually re-undergo it?) One wonders how far the
apparent consistency of these stories is actually due to the
arrangement of the material. In his comments on the sessions
Jacobs frequently uses special terms such as gray, hybrid, The
Change, as also in his non-leading questions ("gray beings, or
hybrid?"), but they do not occur in the quoted extracts from the
subjects. One might even ask whether, if many people had been
abducted by aliens, they would necessarily have undergone
similar things? In any case, such consistency is hardly proof of
reality. It is well known to Jungian analysts that unconnected
people in different parts of the world will have very similar
dreams, apparently because everyone's mind works in the same
basic way. Hypnotic regression may just be tapping into the same
collective unconscious. Then again, Jacobs assumes that you have
to select the consistent details out from the admixture with
false memories, instilled memories, and other phantasmata. This
would only work if there really was a consistent body of
evidence to be recovered, if all these subjects had indeed
forgotten similar experiences of abduction - which is not
independently proven.

I am afraid that if Jacobs is right, then nonetheless the
scientific community are not going to take him seriously, so the
world as we know it will be doomed.

Gareth J. Medway



Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping.

X-Treme Possibilities: A Comprehensively Expanded Rummage
Through Five Years of The X-Files,

Virgin,
1998. =9C6.99

Love it or hate it The X-Files will help you identify where the
loonies get most of their wacky ideas from. As the authors say
in this book, The X-Files is the product of a nation that is so
betrayed by its leaders that it has come to believe that there
is some cosmic conspiracy at work. As a consequence, the Greys
are to blame for the evils and shortcomings of US democracy.
They are the all-powerful bureaucrats from outer space:

"The Greys are also the dead of Belsen (an image The X-Files
takes literally), aborted foetuses, shaved experimental cats:
all those things we've done, that we should be guilty about,
externalised, mythologised, and back to do to us what we did to
them."

The activities of Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have
"progressed" from being earnest variations on popular horror and
science fiction films based on tabloid headlines, to
self-conscious, tongue-in-cheek storylines.

This book provides an episode-by-episode guide which takes you
through all the twists and turns of the plots and how they
relate to each other. It is an entertaining and insightful read
and contains many nuggets of intriguing "facts" from the series.
For example, Mulder eats sunflower seeds in several episodes;
apparently these have a protective effect against vampires and
from other potential biological threats against humanity. I
wonder if many parrots are starving due to people imitating him?

For ufologists and explorers of the unknown this is a fine look
at the interface between fact and fiction; it's also extremely
good value for money. Buy it before they get you. Nigel Watson

________________________________________________________________


LETTERS Thanks for the review (15 months late but what the heck)
of UFO Crash Landing? Friend or Foe? I am puzzled why Nigel
Watson seems to appear out of his self-imposed Bermuda Triangle
just to review books about Rendlesham. As such we get a curious
impression of his apparent bias against this case.

To say that Roswell compared with it is "sensible to believe in"
is ridiculous. There we are trying to evaluate a 52-year-old
story via witnesses who nearly all died years ago, seeded with
so much modern hype and invention (the autopsy film, bits of
alleged Roswell debris, etc., etc.) that there is no hope of
getting very far. In so far as we can get, however, Roswell is
clearly not a case "to believe in" for the overwhelming evidence
supports the view that this was a downed balloon used in the
Mogul experiment. That is certainly how I read the evidence at
present and I do not consider Roswell of any huge significance,
except from an instructive and socially historical perspective.

In contrast Rendlesham offers a far better prospect. Why? Most
of the witnesses are still alive and many are now talking. It is
possible to collate what they all say, record what was going on
in the area at the time and try from all of that to piece the
thing together into some kind of picture that approximates to
the truth. That is what I do in this book. To say - as Nigel
does yet again without justification - that the book is merely a
"great laugh" and shows (presumably my) "gullibility" is a
little galling given his apparent lack of understanding of this
complex case.

For a start, the witness testimony provided - from the likes of Penniston,
Halt and Burroughs - is all first-hand direct from them. That escalates
this book up a notch, surely? I make abundantly clear why I consider them
the most reliable and what problems I have with the comments of both Larry
Warren and "Steve Roberts". Indeed, at no point does Nigel even indicate
that I express grave doubts that Roberts was even involved and am well
aware of the "disinformation" aspect to his story-telling. The innuendo is
I fell for his tall tales when I patently did not. His question as to why
someone from USAF public affairs should want ufologists to accept tall
tales about aliens is answered in the book, by my pointing out that if a
more mundane but covert explanation for the events exists then the
fostering of alien stories on base (and off via ufology) had a positive
effect. It helped to create precisely the climate of sloppy disinterest in
what took place that Nigel now so perfectly demonstrates. I do not consider
my seeing of this to be gullible. But I do suspect that the powers that be
counted on the attitude of British ufology to believe that if a case smells
like an alien contact then it ain't to be trusted or to be touched with a
ten-foot pole.
As for my presentation of multiple scenarios, Nigel likens these to
conclusions as slippery as grease. What he does not say is that my book is
written in the following way. First I report all the evidence, via witness
testimony, the documents, and the physical evidence, presenting the pros
and cons of each (in the process killing some sacred cows like the
radiation and marks on trees). Then I go step by step through the
investigation process as I have always been taught to do. This means
considering one by one the possibilities - from the simplest to the most
bizarre. So we look at mistaken identity (lighthouse, etc.) through
aircraft activity and more debatable military practices (e.g. the Cold
Witness/Cobra Mist experiments) and on to the claims of ufology that the
case is an alien contact. Assessing each option, showing in what way it
works and in what way it does not reflects not so much me keeping my
options open, failing to decide or trying to have it every which way at
once. It is merely presenting readers with the facts and all options and
doing my job as an investigator to try to pick my way through the
possibilities.

I guess Nigel would only have been happy if I had written a book
seeking to prove the whole case collapses as a combination of
lighthouse/meteor/rabbit IFOs. Alternatively, most of ufology
would have been happy (and so would my bank manager!) if I had
set out to prove the aliens had landed in a smoky white
spaceship. In some ways I do both. But unfortunately, the
reality of this case is that the evidence is not cut and dried
in any direction. I show why the second night's events are, in
my view, more likely to be mistaken identity. I show why the
first night's story is more open to other interpretations. I
also do not just magic out of thin air the ideas about Cobra
Mist, as if I had simply invented this daft idea about a covert
experiment. At no point does Nigel mention the evidence I
unravel about the NASA programme to develop an over-the-horizon
radar on Orford Ness, the scientific puzzles about the changes
to the orbital decay path of a Soviet rocket that night, or the
views of space scientists on the matter. I present this option
because, and only because, it fits a number of the facts
surprisingly well. If indeed a by-product of a defensive weapon
was - as I suggest - the accidental discovery of a crude
offensive beam weapon, then I am not in the least surprised if
this was tested on a night when a rocket was burning up on a
flight path over the forest. As I point out in the book, it was
the perfect moment to conduct such a test, because anything that
did happen would superficially seem indistinguishable from what
was supposed to occur anyway. Of course, if airmen then saw the
beam in action it would also justify the spinning of yarns about
aliens to ensure that the media and ufologists switched off from
seeking out the more down-to-earth truth. They would either
rubbish the whole case (like Nigel seems to want to do) or go
chasing non-existent spaceships instead.

So, no, I don't know what happened and I am still eager to find
out one day. What I do know is that the truth is far more
complicated than Nigel (or most sceptics) seems to think it was.
The case is, in fact, a terrific one because it has so much
going on. There is misidentification, distortion, exaggeration
and probably confabulation. There are government botch-ups and
cover-ups. But at the heart of it there is at least a prima
facie case for suspecting that the nefarious activities of the
NSA on Orford Ness were not unconnected with what took place at
the start of this weekend of confusion.

Roswell was, and is, little more than a few bits of crashed foil
and wood misidentified at the time, later correctly identified
but obscured by the USAF desire not to go public with their
experiments of the day. Rendlesham is ufology in microcosm.
Almost the entire subject is there in one case. I wish I could
honestly say that it was all just a bunch of spaced-out airmen
chasing a lighthouse and then fooling themselves for 20 years.
Whilst - as I have never shirked from admitting - some of it
clearly is, I believe there is rather too much going on in the
background to claim game, set and match. Nigel, I fear, made his
mind up 15 years ago and I hope he can at least ask himself the
question - might I not be wrong? Anyone who has read my articles
on this case even since Friend or Foe? was published in January
1998 (see Northern UFO News and International UFO Reporter) will
know that I am constantly reviewing my position as new evidence
seems to constantly develop. As a UFO investigator, the day you
stop letting the evidence dictate what you believe and being
willing to change from belief to scepticism (or indeed vice
versa) is the day you ought to quit. It always puzzles me why
keeping an open mind is regarded in some quarters as a crime
worse than making it up prematurely in a way that proves to be
dead wrong. Jenny Randles, Buxton, Derbyshire

Nigel Watson replies: I am shocked to discover that the Roswell
case amounts to "a few bits of crashed foil and wood
misidentified at the time" whereas Rendlesham offers a better
chance of getting to the truth.

Surprisingly, this better, newer and more enlightening case, by
Jenny's own admission, is full of "misidentification,
distortion, exaggeration and probably confabulation. There are
government botch ups and cover ups". To me that could equally be
applied as a description of the Roswell case; it certainly does
not sound like a better route to the truth!

The twists and turns of Rendlesham are of obvious fascination
for Jenny. She indicates that some military operations or
experiments were being conducted, and that the UFO story has
been put about to get rid of closed-minded sceptics like me.

From such a scenario we must conclude that Jenny is acting as a
subversive agent who is actively willing to reveal the secrets
of our Government, just to satisfy her curiosity for the
"truth". Where is her social responsibility? Will she accept
that she is an urban guerilla who is undermining our political,
social, military and economic structure? Isn't that a crime
worse than being merely closed-minded?

________________________________________________________________

MAGONIA Monthly Supplement is available on the Magonia web site,
with printed copies sent to the favoured few. Letters and short
articles welcome. Letters will be considered for publication
unless otherwise indicated. Please send all contributions to the
Editor: John Harney, 27 Enid Wood House, High Street, Bracknell,
Berkshire RG12 1LN  UK 

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Mark Pilkington

"A heathen perhaps, but not, I hope, an unenlightened one."
Lord Summerisle
------------------------------------------------
Magonia Online

http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk

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