Sunday, January 4, 2015

Carol Rainey Responds to Peter Robbins

Witness confidentiality and accompanying issues were recently explored on this blog in the post, 'Security of Budd Hopkins Archive Called into Question, David Jacobs Shares Responsibility'. Peter Robbins subsequently chose to voice some perspectives about the piece and make some related assertions. Carol Rainey chose to respond. Rainey's response was received in an email today and is published with her permission:
Carol Rainey’s Response to Peter Robbins, January 4, 2015
I would like to respond to Peter Robbins’ categorical statement below, which was posted to Sacha Christie’s Facebook page on January 1st:
“For the record – Budd Hopkins NEVER allowed the release of any tape recording or confidential file except to the individual themselves. David Jacobs has always followed this policy as well – except in single case of the event in question [the release of Larry Warren’s tape to Col. Halt].”
Budd Hopkins’ supporters have shown a disturbing commitment to turn him into “a saint” by revising and sanitizing every act and event of his life. Budd was a human being – often warm and caring, but also often thoughtless and careless about other people’s safety and needs. So are most of us divided between our good and our selfish impulses. So, please, folks, there is no need to attempt to present him as perfect and without flaw – in retrospect. That simply is not who he was. We were married for ten years, most of those happily, and long enough for me to know his character and his work.
Prior to his death, however, Budd did not make adequate provisions for the posthumous safety and protection of his subjects’ records. In other fields, a researcher’s archives are often given in trust to an academic institution or major library. The archives are transferred to these safe havens along with strict legal contracts that specify who, why, and how other individuals with serious research projects may or may not use them. If I had been one of Budd’s subjects, that would have been my strong preference for where my records would have ended up.
Peter is simply and utterly wrong when he asserts that Budd “NEVER allowed the release of a tape or file to anyone but the individual themselves [sic].” What would Peter call the fact that Budd allowed David Jacobs, at some point in the late 1990s, to take hundreds of Budd’s hypnosis tapes back to his home in order to make copies of those confidential “patient records?”
And we both know that Budd, in his studio or living room, often played excerpts of his subjects’ regression sessions to visitors like Col. Halt, Roger Leir, John Mack, and others. I saw him play these regression tapes for journalists, for television producers, for other abductees. He also played a videotaped interview with John Cortile, aged eight or nine when it was shot, in his studio for outsiders to see, although he’d promised John’s mother that he would not.
It’s public knowledge that in his first interaction with John Mack, Budd handed him a stack of his unopened, personal mail. These were letters, often up to eight pages long, that had been sent to him in confidence by people who spilled out their deepest fears that their anomalous experiences meant they might be abductees. The names and addresses of these confidential letters (often marked “Confidential” on the envelopes) were fully in view. John has mentioned this in his writing and in conference presentations. Greg Sandow, too, has posted on the Web about Budd handing him, early on, a stack of unopened letters as a way of convincing him to take the phenomenon seriously.
In his last year of life, Budd (or his assignee) handed over to one of his supporters videotape to be publicly posted on a website that defended the “Witnessed” case. The unfortunate facts are that what Budd handed over to be made public was footage that belonged to me, footage that I’d shot with alleged abductees and witnesses for a documentary. I had obtained proper releases from each for inclusion in my film. But Budd had no release or contract whatsoever with the individuals on my film. Yet he was apparently untroubled by the ethical concerns of having handed over stolen material to be posted on a supporter’s site in full violation of my copyright -- not to mention the rights of the subjects who were then publicly “outed.”
Although I have less knowledge of David Jacobs’ policies and procedures, I am aware that Emma Woods has objected strongly, in the past, about his passing along the audiotapes of her own regressions to be listened to and transcribed by other alleged abductees.
In summary, I’d suggest to people concerned about such matters to familiarize themselves with the strict U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HIPAA regulations. More information about privacy rights for healthcare information can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/index.html
Carol Rainey
New York City, 2015
..................................................................................................
Related posts:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Security of Budd Hopkins Archive Called into Question, David Jacobs Shares Responsibility

Peter Robbins, who described himself on the Dec. 17 Jimmy Church 'Fade to Black' show as a former assistant and confidant to the late Budd Hopkins, told Church that David Jacobs recently provided Retired Col. Charles Halt with a copy of a tape recorded regressive hypnosis session conducted by Hopkins many years earlier on subject Larry Warren. Robbins framed the circumstances, about which Warren expressed outrage earlier this month, as a misunderstanding on the part of Jacobs.

This blog has previously explored issues central to the ethics of UFO research. They include how abduction researchers have dealt with in the past and continue to deal with witness confidentiality. The story of the leaking of Larry Warren's audio-taped session(s) to Charles Halt continues this exploration. Let's begin with a summary of some of the players and what was stated on recent podcasts.   

Dec. 10 Martin Willis Podcast

Larry Warren and Col. Charles Halt are central figures in the Rendlesham Forest incident, or RFI. Peter Robbins, in addition to his association with the late alien abduction icon Budd Hopkins, was Warren's co-author for the book, 'Left at East Gate: A First-hand Account of the Rendlesham Forest Ufo Incident, Its Cover-up, and Investigation'.

The RFI, which occurred during a three-day span in 1980, continues to intrigue the UFO community. It is indeed an extremely interesting case, riddled with implications ranging from paranormal occurrences to state-sponsored psychological operations. Higher profile figures of the RFI continue to be popular guests on podcasts. Bitter personality conflicts developed over the years among some of the players, including between Larry Warren and Charles Halt.

The late Budd Hopkins
Credit: Wikipedia
During a Dec. 10 podcast interview conducted by Martin Willis, Col. Halt made assertions with which Warren would later take serious issue. The colonel's statements carried significant implications about the confidentiality and ethics surrounding the treatment of hypnosis subjects, as well as direct reference to Warren, who participated in hypnosis sessions with Budd Hopkins in the late 1980's and 1990's. Halt broached the subject of Hopkins by stating that the two became "very good friends."

"He'd walk me through all the material he had, some really remarkable stuff that you guys would love to get your hands on," Halt asserted during the show with Willis, further stating that he and Hopkins specifically discussed Larry Warren on occasion.

"I've listened to some of Larry Warren's hypnosis tapes," Halt added. "I have access to that."

Dec. 15 Don Ecker Podcast

On Dec. 15, Don Ecker of Dark Matters Radio published a show with guests Larry Warren and Sacha Christie. According to Christie's website, she is "an advocate for contactee care and protection," as well as a podcaster who is active with multiple UFO organizations.

Warren addressed Halt's allegations, summarizing the circumstances and voicing concerns about confidentiality, among other issues. Apparently not yet aware that it was Jacobs who provided Halt a copy of his taped hypnosis session, Warren stated, "Somebody provided a man [Col. Halt] - that is a longstanding, established adversary to me - private, confidential information that, frankly, only three people have ever heard: me, Peter Robbins and Budd."

Warren explained that since the death of Hopkins in 2011, David Jacobs has been the guardian of most or all of the tape recordings of Hopkins' regressive hypnosis sessions. That included some 600 hypnosis subjects who believed their testimonies would be treated in confidence.  

"David Jacobs has the archives - everything of Budd Hopkins," Warren continued. "I think Dave's an honorable man. I think Dave's an honest man and, you know, the confidentiality is so important, I wouldn't see any [betrayal] going on. It's kind of a career-ender, if that's a career."

Warren added that if he had been asked to grant Halt access to the tapes, he would probably have agreed, but that was beside the point. Peter Robbins would soon make public statements during yet another podcast that did not seem to fully fit with Warren's stance, and those statements will be explored shortly.

Warren went on to emphasize that proper protection and care for possible abductees was essential, adding that he was concerned about "personal tapes... from these people being given to absolute enemies without the permission of the tapee." Sacha Christie agreed that respecting the confidentiality of hypnosis subjects should be of highest importance. 

Hopkins conducting a hypnosis session
Credit: Wikipedia
"These tapes are of a really sensitive nature," Christie explained, "and all of the witnesses – all of the people who've been Budd's clients... I know of quite a few women, and one of them who has actually had sessions with Budd, who would absolutely hate the fact that David Jacobs has got [the tapes], because there are issues surrounding him, and whether they're true or not, this issue is trust."

"I know people that wouldn't be comfortable with [Jacobs]," Christie continued. "Now, people would and should have been consulted about what they wanted to have happen to [the tapes of their sessions], whether it be destroyed or given to them... or saved for future reference, etc."

"It's just been thrown out there with very little care about what the people, who it's about, are going to think and feel..." Christie concluded. "If that were me, I'd be horrified."

The Carpenter Affair

After Sacha Christie voiced her concerns, host Don Ecker informed listeners that such betrayals of trust between investigators and witnesses had precedence within the UFO community. Ecker alluded to the Carpenter Affair, a series of events during the 1990's in which John Carpenter, a Missouri social worker, hypnotist and MUFON director of abduction research at the time, provided data from case files of some 140 possible abductees to controversial ufology philanthropist Robert Bigelow. The 140 subjects were neither asked nor informed about the transactions that included a reported $14,000 in cash payments made to Carpenter. This resulted in some people defining the circumstances as covert selling of the case files. The events and what many interpreted as their cover-up by MUFON were reviewed rather extensively by 'The UFO Trail', including the post, 'The Carpenter Affair: For the Record'
Robert Bigelow
Credit: Wikipedia

A central recurring issue, and as more recently implied by Christie and Ecker, was that such ethical shortcomings did not appear to be isolated incidents. Moreover, not only was the treatment of hypnosis subjects being called into tremendous question, but so was the reliability of the so-called data being promoted as well. Researcher Gary Hart directly addressed the circumstances in a formal complaint of Carpenter's actions he filed with MUFON in 2000 and with the State of Missouri in 2001. It was discussed at 'UFO UpDates List' prior to the discontinuation of the once popular e-list. 

In the complaint, Hart quoted an unnamed individual that he referred to as "a well-known researcher" who stated that "everyone does it." Hart wrote:
It is unknown how far these inconsistent actions or structures have spread. It has been stated by a well-known researcher that "everyone does it" referring to selling files. This "everyone does it" statement was also applied to having sexual relations between researchers and abductees. [John Carpenter's] situation may just be the tip of the iceberg!
I know firsthand that some MUFON State Directors fail to follow ANY of MUFON's organizational, structural or ethical guidelines and the state structure is rendered totally unresponsive to the wishes of the general membership in those states. Make no mistake: this is a prescription for the unethical and unprofessional treatment of witnesses, MUFON members and the defrauding of the general public and the fact that this provably already occurs because of the MUFON Board of Directors' lack of control or guidance over situations demanding such is not unexpected.

John Carpenter informed 'The UFO Trail' during an email interview conducted in early 2012 that he was not the only investigator who considered pursuing the types of arrangements of which he came under fire. 

"Other researchers were approached with the same proposal," he wrote, "and some of them may have shared data, too." 

Carpenter was subsequently offered opportunities to explain the statement in more detail and directly address specifics of his allegations. He chose not to elaborate further.  

More Correlations

Carol Rainey is the former wife of the late Budd Hopkins. They co-authored 'Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility, and Transgenic Beings'. Rainey has in more recent years asserted that substantial scrutiny is warranted concerning the research protocols and ethics of abduction researchers in general, and of Hopkins and his associates in particular instances.

Informed of the allegations leveled by Col. Halt - that Hopkins shared case data with him - Rainey explained in a Dec. 22 email, "My take, based on ten years of observation, is that Budd had no problem with sharing confidential info with people he invited into his privileged space [his studio], including playing segments of abductees' hypnosis sessions for the guest."

Boxes of Hopkins' research materials
awaiting relocation in an unsecured hallway
accessible to strangers entering the house
Credit: Carol Rainey
Rainey added that she doubted Hopkins would readily hand over audiotapes to be taken out of the studio by an interested party, and had nothing in particular to say about Halt, but was certainly clear that she did not find the colonel's comments about Hopkins to be surprising. She explained that following Budd's death in 2011, his colleagues, primarily David Jacobs, Leslie Kean, Peter Robbins and Jed Turnbull, sorted his UFO material. Portions of his work were boxed and stacked for a couple of weeks in an unsecured hallway in Hopkins' New York house until the boxes were relocated. The boxes were adjacent to a tenant's room and individuals unknown to anyone living in the house would often come and go. During those weeks, bags of letters from potential abductees and other Hopkins' research materials were piled on the public street curb for garbage collection the following morning - circumstances one would not interpret to demonstrate assigning particularly high value to the material and its security.

Rainey is well known for her critical assessment of the work of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs as contained in her 2011 article, 'The Priests of High Strangeness: Co-Creation of the 'Alien Abduction Phenomenon''. The piece included information relevant to the Emma Woods debacle, a case Jacobs attempted to handle that became such a minefield of disturbingly questionable actions on his part that many ufology icons continue to avoid and censor its discussion. 

In her YouTube video, '1996 Symbols Revealed as Evidence of Alien Abduction', Rainey hears Hopkins' claim that the symbols had never been made public and that he was releasing them for the very first time for her to shoot and include in her film. He tells her that the very similar symbols in his scrapbook were sketched by abductees and these were the only "alien" symbols ever seen during abductions. In actuality, Rainey later explained in voice-over, she had seen Hopkins show the symbols in his studio to dozens of people, including journalists, television producers, other UFO researchers and even abductees from his own support groups. Rainey made a convincing argument that not only was data contamination a virtual given, but that data was being misrepresented by Hopkins as more significant than was actually the case.

In the documentary excerpt on YouTube, we hear Rainey, off camera, ask Hopkins, who is digging through a box of collected drawings, to show the camera a more complete sample of what he has in the box of alleged "alien" symbols. He has been pulling out only examples that resemble what he has already predetermined are the authentic samples of alien writing.

Hopkins replies, on camera, "No, I want to stack the deck here."

Rainey's later voice-over states that she knows of hundreds of abductee symbols that don't match Budd's cherry-picked ones at all. Nor do they match those of other abduction researchers.

Rainey maintains a YouTube channel where she has posted a number of short films that cast doubt upon Hopkins' objectivity as a researcher. Her films rather commonly receive negative comments from his faithful supporters. One such commentary prompted Rainey to compose an open letter to the UFO community after the individual repeatedly referred to Hopkins and another deceased investigator as "saints."

Such fanaticism can be further observed in what has become an ongoing series of edits and revisions on the Budd Hopkins Wikipedia page. The Hopkins faithful repeatedly editorialize their interpretations of the man and his perceived accomplishments, while refusing to observe and abide by Wikipedia citation policies. As a result, the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia team has consistently worked at posting fact-based information while editing the page to keep it in compliance with established guidelines. 

Dec. 17 Jimmy Church Podcast

The proverbial pot came to a boil on the Dec. 17 episode of Jimmy Church's 'Fade to Black'. Guest Peter Robbins attempted to explain to listeners that he delved into Col. Halt's allegations and concluded that it was David Jacobs, the current custodian of the Hopkins archive, who supplied Halt with a copy of one of Warren's hypnosis sessions due to a misunderstanding. Those who wish to explore Robbins' specific statements are encouraged to listen directly to Church's show, particularly from approximately 1:32:00 to about 1:48:00 or so. A summary of the circumstances, as Robbins explained them to Church, is provided below.

Larry Warren, a reported RFI witness, became a hypnosis subject of Budd Hopkins. Sessions occurred from approximately 1987 to at least 1995.

Robbins stated that, in 1995, Warren requested a hypnosis session with Hopkins in order to explore not an incident in the Rendlesham Forest, but Warren's reported interrogation the day afterward. Robbins observed the 1995 regressive hypnosis session.

According to Robbins, the transcript from that particular session was included nearly in full in the book, 'Left at East Gate'. Intentionally omitted from mention and publication were the names of four men that Warren, while under hypnosis, identified as present. Robbins stated that during the hypnosis session, he and Hopkins looked at each other with much shock as Warren described the presence of the men.

Skip ahead to about a year and a half ago. Robbins said he was at that time thinking back about the four men but could not remember their names. He additionally told Church and his listeners that he asked Warren, but Warren could not recall the names either. Robbins informed David Jacobs at that point that he would like to receive a copy of the tape of Warren's 1995 hypnosis session with Hopkins.

Jacobs replied to Robbins that he could certainly give him a copy, but, prior to doing so, Jacobs would prefer that Warren provide a release. This is where the misunderstanding reportedly began to take shape.

Warren provided Jacobs a written release that, according to Robbins, read, "Hi, David. It's been a long time. Peter told me to contact you re Budd's tape with me concerning Rendlesham etc. and indeed I give you permission to release it and use it in any way. Also, I extend same to Peter Robbins. Wishing you and yours all the best, Larry Warren."

David Jacobs
Credit: Jack Brewer
Skip ahead further now. Robbins stated that quite some time later, in early October, Halt emailed Jacobs and requested a copy of apparently the same tape. Jacobs reportedly then provided Halt a copy due to the wording of Warren's previous release, specifically the phrase, "use it in any way."

Several questions arise. Some are obvious, like wouldn't the standard answer to a request such as Halt's be, "no," until one is contacted by the hypnosis subject? Another reasonable question would be shouldn't one just ask a hypnosis subject about releasing a tape of their session, rather than searching through files and emails to see what they may have said during some unrelated previous situation?   

Why didn't Halt just say he got a tape from Jacobs in the first place if he and Jacobs believed it was all above board? And, even if so, what about Halt's remarks about Hopkins sharing data with him?

We might also consider that, based on Warren's statements on the Dec. 15 Don Ecker podcast, Warren obviously did not perceive himself to have released the tape to Halt, much less anyone who might have happened to ask, as Jacobs rather questionably interpreted it. Also, Robbins made a particular point to explain the sensitive nature of the circumstances surrounding the four names at issue, circumstances that Warren had shown no concern about at all, at least not publicly. 

Robbins framed the relevance of the four names in a context that allowed him to point out that it would be very irresponsible and unethical of Col. Halt to pursue or publicly discuss the men. Perhaps it might be worthy of much deeper emphasis than Robbins chose to give it that Col. Halt would be in no position to do such things if Jacobs had never given him the tape. 

Further Questions

David Jacobs was emailed and offered an opportunity to provide comments for consideration in this post. In a Dec. 26 email, he replied, "Budd Hopkins was an absolutely conscientious protector of people's identities and testimony. Without that safeguard, one cannot do ethical abduction research. As Peter Robbins correctly explained on [Jimmy Church's] show, Larry Warren allowed me in writing to send the tape of his session with Budd Hopkins to anyone."

I replied and asked Jacobs, given that we now know he misinterpreted Warren's intentions, and that Warren did not wish to authorize release of a tape to Halt or anyone who might happen to ask, why Jacobs would not have simply contacted Warren directly about Halt's request. Jacobs did not immediately reply and, as of this post, no further emails were received from him.

Does the UFO community sincerely believe, as implied by Robbins and Jacobs, that Larry Warren should be blamed for the failure to keep his taped hypnosis session secure?   

Why didn't Jacobs simply ask Warren if Halt should be granted access to Warren's tape, rather than allegedly relying on wording contained in an informal release Warren composed over a year earlier during an entirely unrelated matter?

Do David Jacobs, Peter Robbins and others who promote the use of hypnosis as a memory enhancer not have protocol in place that includes properly worded release forms and that prevents such alleged misunderstandings? A form obtained from Carol Rainey and previously used by the now dissolved Intruders Foundation, of which Hopkins was executive director, may offer further insight.

The form (pictured right) was used to obtain consent from potential hypnosis subjects to allow Hopkins to publish information collected via hypnosis and pertaining to UFO experiences. However and concerning confidentiality, it is clearly stated that Hopkins will not release information identifying the witness, their family or employer "unless [the witness] specifically request that he do so."

While the form may or may not have been presented to Larry Warren, it nonetheless provides insight into the spirit of witness confidentiality policies as portrayed by Hopkins. Jacobs reportedly uses a similarly worded form. In Warren's informal release quoted Dec. 17 by Robbins, it is obvious that Warren did not "specifically request" that his regression tape and the identifying information contained therein be released to anyone other than Robbins, as asserted by Jacobs as an explanation for why he provided a copy to Halt. In addition to such considerations, the Intruders Foundation form also leads us to question what specific confidentiality policies we should expect to now apply to the Hopkins archive, as well as who is liable for the uniform and fair application of such policies. What recourse is available to former hypnosis subjects?      

Any way one chooses to look at it, and even if we are to fully accept the chain of events as described by Peter Robbins to Jimmy Church, we have a concerning situation from many perspectives. The breach of trust with the hypnosis subject is but one. 

Consider further, please, that four men were reportedly named by Larry Warren during a 1995 regressive hypnosis session that carried implications of covert psyops, and the men may, in reality, have no demonstrable involvement whatsoever in the hypnotically retrieved story. Nonetheless, their names were allegedly included on a tape recording that those entrusted to protect and hold in confidence were unable or unwilling to do, for whatever reasons. What's more, the self-appointed authority figures do not even demonstrate an adequate understanding of the relevant issues as identified by Sacha Christie, Carol Rainey and others. We can largely only speculate as to the extents the four men in question and their families might have their community standings effected and what negative repercussions they are at risk of experiencing, all on account of unreliable information gained via hypnosis in the first place. Reasonable arguments can be well made that untrained individuals should stop acting out their biases under the guises of conducting investigations via hypnosis, and that the collective UFO community should stop enabling it.

The blame game can continue, yet the fact of the matter will remain that the taped regression sessions of Larry Warren as performed by Budd Hopkins, observed by Peter Robbins and now in the care of David Jacobs were not secure. Nor are the audiotapes secure of other individuals who may not be fortunate enough to be defended by Peter Robbins. Any way one chooses to look at it, the people charged with protecting the privacy and emotional well being of the hypnosis subjects – and those named during their sessions - failed to do so. Again. 

.....................................................................................

Special thanks to Andy Russell for the tip. 


Contact Jack Brewer, author of 'The UFO Trail', at brewer.jack@rocketmail.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Project Core, the UFO Community and Professional Research

Reports from Project Core were recently published at projectcore.net. The project was a professionally conducted research endeavor in which written testimonies of paranormal experiences from over 200 individuals were obtained via surveys and considered at length. Questions were posed to respondents in which trends in responses could be analyzed. Several avenues for potentially productive future research were subsequently identified.

Project Core team members included self-described experiencers of paranormal phenomena Jeff Ritzmann and Jeremy Vaeni. Working on the project were also Dr. Tyler A. Kokjohn, Dr. D. Ellen K. Tarr and Dr. Kimbal E. Cooper.

I have read all material posted on the Project Core website. After having revisited the reports and commentaries a few times, and feeling that I have reasonably processed the data and observations contained therein, I feel there are some important points.

Science pioneer Aristotle
Among the more relevant observations, in my opinion, is that such a project is most certainly possible within the UFO and paranormal communities. Not only does Project Core contradict popularly held assumptions that science is unable to systematically and competently address reported paranormal phenomena, but it also demonstrates that self-described experiencers and professional researchers can collaborate on such ventures.

That leads us to another important point I considered as a byproduct of reviewing Project Core: Extreme opposite camps within ufology, which I will for the time being label "unquestioning believers" and "stubborn debunkers", share responsibilities for collective tire-spinning. Futility rests on the shoulders of both demographics, not just one or the other.

Unquestioning Believers

Obviously, unquestioning belief is unattractive to critical thinkers. It is easy to see how claims of vacuum cleaner nozzles on the surface of Mars might lower public interest in the UFO genre, at least among those some of us might prefer be drawn to it.

Retired historian David Jacobs
In addition to those who consistently try to direct our attention to interpretations of photos at craptastic dot com, the unquestioning believer side of the scale also includes individuals and organizations which manipulate and shape those poorly conceived beliefs. That would include alien-hunting hypnotists that sell their clients' data without consent, historians that recommend chastity belts to their research subjects, and the organizations that provide them venues to promote their unsupported claims while prospecting for more people to exploit.

There is even much more to it than that, though. Among the additional harmful social dynamics is a cultism that quickly embraces newcomers seeking credible information. In return for courageous open-mindedness, newcomers are often bombarded with assurances that everyone abducted by aliens had difficulty accepting it at first. The pseudo recovery might include suggestions to attend meetings purported to provide emotional support which, in actuality, serve to spread such beliefs inherent to the genre as big news about an alien presence will be released any day by the White House. One might also get indoctrinated with a lot of material that will assure future hypnosis sessions would go as hoped.

If one is fortunate enough to get out of a recon mission into the UFO community without landing in front of a rogue hypnotist and author masquerading as a therapist, they can cut their losses and return to a life where they keep relatively quiet about those 'something weird happened one time' stories. If not that fortunate, well, then they have a whole lot more emotional baggage to carry and healing to do than they started with – and that's if they're wise and brave enough to consider that many of those "helpful" UFO people have no idea whatsoever what the hell they're talking about.

So the unquestioning believer demographic has many detrimental aspects. One of the most damaging is that its members are prone to interpreting the experiences of others and thinking themselves qualified to explain them in outrageously assumptive detail. The bottom line is that people of higher intelligence and emotional availability don't want other people trying to tell them what happened to them who have no idea and don't even know they don't.

Stubborn Debunkers

The stubborn debunkers conduct a different, but nonetheless detrimental, brand of bait and switch. They often try to lead newcomers to believe they promote skepticism and rationality when, in actuality, they can be among the most opinionated, dogmatic demographics one might ever encounter. Healthy skepticism is a very good thing - I would confidently say entirely necessary - but it is nowhere to be found among stubborn debunkers and despite their claims to the contrary.

They make fun of people who hold ideas and beliefs different than their own, employ sarcasm as a preferred mode of expressing themselves, and, by and large, do not even conduct research – they just criticize and make light of others who do, unless it happens to support their preferred perspective. They virtually never address a topic of which they are unwilling to offer speculative conclusions, and they fail miserably at asking the right, productive questions.

Self-described skeptic James Randi
In his 1992 paper, 'CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview', writer/researcher George P. Hansen observed that facets of the organized skeptical movement opted to employ an extended public relations campaign rather than conduct research. "These activities display more parallels with political campaigns than with scientific endeavors," Hansen wrote. His paper frequently came to mind while reading Project Core and considering how the project embodied what professional research conducted by competent and qualified individuals actually looks like and is capable of producing.

Stubborn debunkers typically attempt to minimize reported experiences of high strangeness or conspiratorial implications by employing any number of explanations that might indeed be applicable in some circumstances, but do not necessarily apply to a case at hand. While the burden of proof indeed falls upon one asserting a claim, the fact of the matter is that a more discerning group of experiencers and researchers do not assert claims, but simply question. The bottom line - again - is that people of higher intelligence and emotional availability don't want other people trying to tell them what happened to them who have no idea and don't even know they don't. Same as with the unquestioning believers. Whether one's field of interest includes psychic phenomena, entities, the intelligence community or most anything else, they should prefer to allow facts lead them to conclusions, not lobbying techniques.

Professional Research

So to tie this together, the UFO community consists of demographics with virtually polar opposite beliefs but each detrimentally effecting the paranormal genre in similar manners: They try to lead others to believe they are able to explain things to them of which they actually have little idea, are frequently unfamiliar with relevant material and are often not even qualified to venture an intelligent guess. People therefore become very reluctant to share their ideas and experiences for various different reasons, not just the well known fear of ridicule invoked by stubborn debunkers, but also because they don't want unquestioning believers saddling their reputations with wild and disturbing rumors based upon little more than questionable interpretations of reality.

And that is what's different about Project Core. I could tell you a lot of things it's not, but here's what it is: An objective and professional assessment of experiences reported by over 200 individuals, as well as assessments of answers provided to a series of specific questions. The only stipulations for reporting experiences were to provide sincere accounts, no matter how bizarre the perceived events, and to not submit any information obtained via hypnosis.

Researchers demonstrated a full awareness that surveys obtained did not necessarily contain accurate information, but might at times be more representative of what respondents interpreted, such as in the cases of reported physiological circumstances and perceived experiences. Data was professionally organized and presented, with much careful consideration given to patterns and correlations that seemed to emerge.

About a third of those surveyed indicated multiple witnesses were present during the events. Taking into consideration that many respondents reported multiple experiences, researchers suggested that future events might be accurately anticipated. A number of additional avenues for future research were also identified, including the implementation of cost effective technological advances. 

It was also apparent that researchers of alleged alien abduction have largely failed to explore the cases of witnesses who have unaided conscious recall of events. Pursuing such witnesses, while ceasing to rely upon regressive hypnosis as an investigative tool, was strongly suggested.

Research or brain scrambling?
Yet another emerging point was that respondents largely felt their experiences have not been portrayed accurately in media. Researchers considered that assertion might be due to the more bizarre aspects of the reports being frequently omitted by those portraying the experiences to the public. Readers were additionally free to surmise that ill advised use of regressive hypnosis, and leading of witnesses by biased hypnotists and investigators, likely play major roles in such inaccurate media portrayal. While reading Project Core reports, it seemed entirely possible to me that the common abduction narrative is, in reality, a rather small percentage of reported experiences, if not largely inaccurate and unreported. At the least, it appeared reasonable to question if the stereotypical alien abduction narrative is a very poor representation of what people perceive themselves to be experiencing.

I recommend reading the material posted at Project Core. There are several intriguing points and interesting insights.

But mostly I recommend it because it serves as a model of what professional research of reported paranormal experiences looks like. Pro research is pro research. Everything else is not.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Project CORE Goes Live

Data and expert analysis gleaned from Project CORE, a survey of over 200 self-described paranormal experiencers, is now posted online at projectcore.net. The project was conducted by Jeff Ritzmann, Jeremy Vaeni, Dr. Tyler A. Kokjohn, Dr. D. Ellen K. Tarr and Dr. Kimbal E. Cooper. The website offers sections including a synopsis of results, commentaries and graphical results. About the project:

"Project CORE was a massive online survey asking questions and gathering data of those reporting 'paranormal' experience. Questions ranged from psychological, and physiological data to ancestral heritage and outlier data. The questions asked by the survey were comprised of questions submitted by all Project CORE members, and then as a team questions were edited, subtracted and added until we arrived at the final version that was ultimately used.

"Participants were asked to give written account of their experience(s), and there was a written stipulation of the survey page: The survey required complete, raw honesty in relating the experiences. No matter how utterly bizarre or self-negating those experiences may have been. We also asked that the accounts submitted not be edited, sanitized, nor derived from hypnotic regression.

"The survey actively collected data via the internet from participants over the course of a full calendar year, and the survey was widely promoted on social media, message boards, and podcasts. After data gathering, the work presented here in it’s final form comprises nearly 2 years worth of analysis and discussion between team members."

Learn more at:

http://projectcore.net/

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Roswell Slides Saga Involved Email Hacks and Surveillance, Community Member Claims

Ross, a commenter at the 'UFO Conjecture(s)' blog, stated today in an email exchange with 'The UFO Trail' that his email and the accounts of some high profile UFO-researchers were hacked in relation to the alleged Roswell slides. Ross further stated that he believed "a three letter agency" was responsible. 

Ross stated that he assumed he was initially targeted due to his involvement in email exchanges about the slides. He first got involved in the saga, he indicated, about 18 months ago through reading 'UFO Conjecture(s)' and exchanging emails with its author, Rich Reynolds. 

"The 'hacking' thing involved Tony Bragalia, Rich Reynolds, Nick Redfern and myself," Ross wrote.

"Based on the resources required to do what I think they were doing; intercepting our comms as opposed to just 'hacking' and just the way things transpired I'm of the opinion this was a three letter agency," he added.

The party responsible for compromising the emails was obviously interested in the slides, Ross explained, and generally caused disruption.

"My instinct was that whoever we were dealing with had a sophisticated operation behind them," Ross wrote, "and figured I may as well try communicating to see what they have to say (the hacker used various safe-mail accounts to interact with us)."

Ross continued, "The first response I received to a communication I had initiated was a list of emails which were mostly discussions about the slides, but there was some unrelated material there (which I discarded). This was obviously the hacker wanting to let me know the extent of the surveillance. There was a lot of smoke and mirrors, but overall the story was that these slides were of interest to certain three letter agencies. There were offers of money, a sit down meeting with someone fully briefed in what the government really knows about UFOs, and even the opportunity to see for real what the slides supposedly depict. All these offers were related to my acting as a conduit to arrange a meeting between the people handling the slides and the party/parties doing the 'hacking'. This wasn't something I was in a position to set up not being in contact with or on good terms with the people involved."

Ross alleged that further intrusions involved telephone disruptions, explaining, "I got some strange calls and some even stranger interruptions into calls I was making. It would be things like 'have you considered our offer', 'we can help each other', that kind of thing. I had kept that part quiet because people just tend to write people who say stuff like that off as loons."

The events unfolded "over the last few months," subsiding in the last six weeks or so. Ross interpreted that computer experts and the FBI were alerted to the circumstances but investigations resulted in "dead ends".

"It was clear to me that what they were engaged in was a labor, it wasn't recreational, it was a case of this is how we do this and it has to be done. For example, 'these issues crop up from time to time and it is important that we deal with them so they can be managed in a way consistent with established practices', which was an answer as to what was with all the smoke and mirrors and bullshit riddles."

"I think the goal was to spook people," Ross concluded, "to derail the slides investigation and to attempt to recruit people into a conspiracy with the ultimate goal of securing the slide material on their behalf." 

Prior to the email exchange with Ross, attempts were made to obtain comments from writer/researcher Thomas Carey about his statements about the slides during his recent appearance at American University. Carey was emailed Nov. 13 and permission was requested to submit a few questions, to which Carey replied the same day, "Sure."

The questions, which included inquiries about what evidence he felt existed that directly linked the alleged slides to Roswell and what he would say to critics that assert the slides only contain images of unknown circumstances that cannot be conclusively demonstrated to involve an ET life form, were emailed Nov. 14. After receiving no responses, a reminder that his comments would be appreciated was sent Nov. 18. As of this post, no further emails have been received from Carey.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Standing Eight Count for the MJ-12

Work of such researchers as Mark Pilkington has reignited interest in the infamous MJ-12 docs and surrounding circumstances. His book and resulting film, 'Mirage Men', significantly contributed to bringing some events that were dangerously nearing obscurity back to where they belong at the forefront of attention of the UFO community. 

In 2007, scholar and author Dr. Michael Heiser facilitated professional linguistics testing on select MJ-12 docs. The work was conducted by qualified expert Dr. Carol Chaski and resulted in her assessment that the docs examined were almost certainly inauthentic. Chaski demonstrated an extremely high rate of accuracy in her previous evaluations, and it is all explained in depth in Heiser's full reportInterest in the report has been revived of late thanks to sites including Frank Warren's 'The UFO Chronicles', where an ongoing watchful eye is kept on the ever developing MJ-12 story. 

Heiser recently published a post at his blog, 'UFO Religions', providing some resources for those interested in the saga. The post included a recommended video created by Alejandro Rojas of Open Minds:




Rojas' informative presentation included summaries of USAF documents he obtained that are worthy of ample consideration. The presentation also included the results of tracking down what appears to be the first mention of the term "Majestic Twelve" in the UFO community, and suffice it to say its origins were quite dubious. 

Among other points of interest, the question was raised in the video as to why Richard Doty might have been involved in such disinformation operations, given his relative inexperience with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). George P. Hansen addressed such circumstances in his book, 'The Trickster and the Paranormal'.

Hansen cited the case of Airman Simone Mendez, who was apparently called upon at a very young age and under questionable conditions to file a report on her attendance at a MUFON conference. The circumstances demonstrated official interest in the UFO community and implicated the AFOSI. Moreover, it implied the AFOSI might have targeted Mendez for recruitment - and perhaps individuals such as Doty as well - due to their inexperience and similar extenuating circumstances, not in spite of them. For much more detail, as well as additional information of interest surrounding Doty, please refer to Hansen's work.

Writer/researcher Ryan Dube published a number of posts on the MJ-12 saga and related circumstances, including his 2010 piece, 'John Alexander - Mr. Non-Lethal with Many Hands in Many Pots'. Dube explored the career path and ufology activities of Col. Alexander and other members of the intelligence community. After conducting an interview with Alexander, Dube concluded, "I am now even more suspicious than ever before that John was one of the integral players in the distribution effort of the MJ-12 memes upon the public domain, starting in the 1980's and continuing throughout the next several decades to today."

As recently as last year, Col. Alexander inserted himself once again in the controversial MJ-12 debate when he discussed the legendary group during an interview. Grant Cameron reported that he interpreted the statements of the colonel, which included that Alexander "had someone whisper" to him about MJ-12, could not be over emphasized. Cameron credited Alexander with confirming existence of the MJ-12 yet acknowledged that Alexander doubted the MJ-12 had anything to do with UFOs. Many disagreed with Cameron's take on the importance of the situation, apparently including Alexander, who later informed this writer that his remarks "did not change anything." 

And what to our wondering eyes should appear but yet another chapter in the winding saga of the MJ-12. The latest from Kevin Randle informs us that Tony Bragalia came across a relevant lead on a doc. The two of them ran down provenance and, at least to Randle's satisfaction, have knocked the MJ-12 meme out for the count. It seems they indeed identified an operation that used key code words as described in the legendary Majestic operation, but the actual op in question had nothing to do with alleged UFO retrieval. That, according to Randle, confirms that the MJ-12 story of UFO lore is complete myth because code words are not duplicated in order to minimize risk of compromising the projects of which they are assigned. Not exactly sure why people would be whispering to Col. Alexander about such, instead of just describing it to him in an audible voice, but he could no doubt explain it in unassailable entirety if he ever decides he feels like it. 

In the mean time, perhaps we might consider if the MJ-12 story has not always been floundering on the ropes. Was there ever a time that it drew any particularly credible support? How many of us ever really bought it?

Perhaps more importantly would be why the saga was so persistently propped up and promoted. Questions of origins and purposes become quite relevant, arguably more so than authenticity in some cases.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: 'Black Light' by William J. Grabowski

'Black Light: Perspectives on Mysterious Phenomena'
by William J. Grabowski
'Black Light: Perspectives on Mysterious Phenomena' is the latest work from seasoned author William J. GrabowskiPart tribute to his favorite researchers, part case study and at times an editorial, Grabowski indeed has some relevant things to say about his selected topics. He knows the published material, studied a wide variety of related circumstances and shares his informed opinions on such subjects as Mothman, UFOs, poltergeists and the social issues that surround them. 'Black Light' is appreciated and recommended.

Grabowski shares some personal experiences of seemingly paranormal phenomena, as well as resulting insights, but that is by no means to suggest the author lacks healthily skeptical perspective. He explains how he has come to view the so-called paranormal as relatively common place, whatever its explanations may include. He is also quite clear in his disappointment of what is all too often the traveling circus of phenomenology. The author suggests the widespread public interpretation of “UFO” as synonymous with “extraterrestrial vehicle” indicates a lack of critical thinking and outright hostility toward ideas and intellect.

Plenty of quite worthwhile contributions to ufology and related genres are considered as well, including the work of such innovators as Jacques Vallee, George P. Hansen and Martin Cannon. Grabowski thinks Carl Jung was knocking on the right doors, and fans of John Keel will be well satisfied with the attention and respect given the Fortean pioneer.

Considerations of the Mothman saga and Point Pleasant are among the most interesting aspects of 'Black Light'. While Grabowski suspects a truly unknown phenomenon may have been at the heart of the occurrences, he makes a compelling case the events were possibly exploited and served as some type of social study by the powers that be. He suggests the circumstances may have been involved in the genesis of data-farming under the guise of paranormal phenomena. In support of his suspicions, Grabowski explains how reports of so-called census takers became common around Point Pleasant, as well as the presence of an overly inquisitive woman falsely claiming to be John Keel's secretary. Such events are potentially correlated with reported telephone anomalies and the work of Martin Cannon, specifically 'The Numbers Game'. It all makes for very thought provocative potential dot-connections, including truly interesting circumstances surrounding the history of the government site which came to be known as the TNT area that played such an influential role in the Mothman chain of events.

Also considered are Project Stork and a Battelle Memorial Institute document, each of which are quite intriguing and carry a great deal of potential significance to the UFO community. Grabowski has extensively explored the intelligence community descent into mind control, including reading the entire transcript of Congressional hearings on Project MKULTRA. He subsequently became convinced, he explains, that no serious or even semi-serious researcher of anomalous aerial phenomena and associated activity can with integrity ignore the exceedingly dark topic.

'Black Light' includes an intriguing fictional quite related short story penned by Grabowski, who has authored over 300 such stories. An informative interview of the author conducted by Lee D. Munro is also included.

After inviting readers to consider reported alien abduction, seemingly flying anomalies, the intelligence community and things that go bump in the night and day, the author encourages us to ask, “So what?”, perhaps the ultimate question. In proper Zen-like fashion, Grabowski suggests the answer might include the consideration that the unexamined life is not worth living, an observation of which this writer and advocate of self-discovery would agree. 

Purchase 'Black Light: Perspectives on Mysterious Phenomena' at Amazon. Learn more about author William J. Grabowski at his writer's page

..................................................................................................

Originally posted at 'Orlando Paranormal Examiner'