Saturday, July 23, 2016

Of Pokemon, Mirage Men and Manchurian Candidates

The Pokemon Go madness continues. Related items of interest include multiple shootings and a couple kids who inadvertently - and illegally - crossed the U.S. border into Canada before being picked up by authorities. To top it off, Hollywood icon Oliver Stone called the app indicative of totalitarianism and surveillance capitalism.

According to Stone, as quoted by Fortune at San Diego Comic Con:
They’re data mining every single person in this room for information as to what you’re buying, what you like, above all, your behavior.
So Pok√©mon Go kicks into that. It’s everywhere. It’s what some people call surveillance capitalism—it’s the newest stage. It’s not for profit at the beginning, but it becomes for profit in the end. Because it creates its own awareness, and it gets into everywhere in the world, until it manipulates our behavior, and we start to act like that, which has happened already quite a bit on the internet.
But you’ll see a new form of, frankly, a robot society, where they will know how you want to behave and they will make the mockup that matches how you behave, and lead you into another form of behavior.
It’s what they call totalitarianism.
I'd agree the intelligence community is on this evolving technology like a dirty shirt. 

Meanwhile...

The Operative Word Being "Facts"

Image from the Billy Meier collection
 posted by Tom DeLonge on Instagram along with his
 message of taking pride in the activities of the CIA
Enigmatic former front man of Blink-182 Tom DeLonge has published yet another UFO disclosure tease. This time, he explained on Instagram that a trailer will soon be released of his forthcoming documentary. He added that his work included spending hours with two CIA scientists and "a very high-level person from the Defense Department," who apparently informed him the U.S. "has been doing incredible things in relation to this topic."

"Every decision they made," DeLonge continued, "as hard as it is to comprehend now, really was in our best interest. At first, your instinct is to be angry because you feel like you were lied to, left out of something important... But once you know the facts, you'll be proud of what our country did. Very proud."

Hail to the chief.

If DeLonge is sincerely as enthusiastic as he keeps claiming, I might end up feeling a little sorry for him. He wouldn't be the first who went over the top with a passionate interest before finding experience and wisdom are rewards of a marathon, not a sprint.

Is DeLonge scamming, being taken for a ride by Mirage Men, or something else?

Which brings us to...

Manchurian Candidates Plus 50 Years

It's now been well over half a century since the CIA first sought to produce Manchurian Candidates. The experiments attempted to covertly condition, or brainwash, involuntary research subjects to carry out missions against their will and previously held morals. 

Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye has conducted an ongoing study of declassified CIA documents on the Agency's much more recent torture program executed at black sites and Guantanamo Bay, dubbed "America's Battle Lab" by key base personnel. Kaye and other researchers showed direct links between Cold War mind control projects and recently used "enhanced interrogation techniques," including the use of certain specific drug classifications, torture methods, training manuals cited by intelligence personnel, and CIA divisions which developed the programs and materials. Kaye is among those who have conclusively demonstrated the EITs and related programs went beyond attempts to obtain working intelligence and consisted of experimentation.

His latest efforts include considering documents and circumstances cited in a recent Wa Po article. From Kaye's July 14 post, Bandura, Mitchell and CIA's research on torture to produce double agents
Greg Miller's new article at The Washington Post, How a modest contract for ‘applied research’ morphed into the CIA’s brutal interrogation program, and its associated documentation (see end of this post below), reveal aspects of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen and the CIA's torture program that I and others have long insisted rested on an illegal program of human experimentation.
[...]
When the CIA emphasized they want to "Adapt and modify the Bandura social cognitive theory for application in operational settings" and "Refine variables of interest to assess in order to apply [this] model to specific individuals", I believe they are talking about interrogating and torturing "war on terror" prisoners -- whether they are actual terrorists or not -- to become double agents working for the CIA, Department of Defense, or other U.S. intelligence agencies.
[...]
What is important is that we now have direct evidence that the CIA's torture program, and likely that of DoD as well, was not largely about gathering workable intelligence for the safety and operations of U.S. personnel or the U.S. population as a whole, but to recruit double agents for counterintelligence and operations purposes, i.e., for sabotage, assassination, and general espionage. These latter may have had the aim of protecting the "homeland," but at the cost of a "moral disengagement" and level of illegality (kidnapping, torture) that is startling.
Such research likely continues to shed light on why so few charges have been leveled at Gitmo prisoners who the American public was told were "the worst of the worst." The claim has long been questioned, including by writer/researcher Staff Sergeant Joseph Hickman who authored the nonfiction book Murder at Camp Delta about his service in the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion at Gitmo. Hickman was also a co-author of a Seton Hall University School of Law paper that established torture and human experimentation conducted at Guantanamo Bay.

"[Why] were men of little or no value kept under these conditions, and even repeatedly interrogated, months or years after they'd been taken into custody?" Hickman encouraged readers to consider in Murder at Camp Delta. "Even if they'd had any intelligence when they came in, what relevance would it have years later? ...One answer seemed to lie in the description that Major Generals Dunlavey and Miller both applied to Gitmo. They called it 'America's battle lab.'"

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pokemon Go: Considering the Possibilities

The television may no longer hold the distinction as the most effective mind control device ever invented. If any doubt remained that smart phones were making a serious challenge to the title, the recently released Pokemon Go app seems to have come along and knocked the TV right off its perch once and for all. It has mobilized the previously stagnant screen-staring masses, and the implications are profound for industries ranging from marketing analysis to global intelligence.

Chasing Pokemon

Early one evening last week I took a walk through Altamonte Springs, Florida. As I approached a park, I saw dozens and dozens of people flocking to the area. At first I thought perhaps there was a music event or some kind of festival. As I got closer, I realized they were all staring at their phones. All of them. 

They were chasing Pokemon.   

The scene was extremely surreal in a futuristic, sci-fi kind of way. The normally sleepy park, usually reserved for a few ambitious joggers and a dog walker or two, was filled with hundreds of people. Some were sitting, staring in silence at phones, as if perplexed, defeated, exhausted, or all three. 

Most were briskly roaming about. They stared at their phones with excitement and anticipation.

Anxiety seemed palpable, and I had a strange sensation of invisibility. They didn't see me. 

They ran past me. They walked past me. They sat silently, but none of them looked at me. They didn't care, not about me, not about each other, not about the beautiful scene of the sun setting over the lake, or anything else. They were chasing Pokemon. 


Vid uploaded to YouTube by user ampedin,
showing Pokemon hunters in Washington

"It connects us to our childhoods," explained someone I approached who identified them self as a 28-year-old corporate worker. They told me they grew up playing the game, and supposed people enjoyed its link to their younger years.

"I just got off work about an hour ago, and here I am," they added with what I interpreted to be more than a bit of remorse. 

Implications

Not surprisingly, the origins have been explored of the latest incarnation of Pokemon, and it's less than a few degrees of separation from In-Q-Tel, an "innovation technology solutions" arm of the CIA. In a manner of speaking, it really doesn't even matter who develops such habit-forming technology, at least not initially, because its existence is extremely relevant one way or the other. As a matter of fact, it's potentially game changing.

The implications cannot be overstated. We are witnessing the implementation of an app that potentially accesses personal data, reveals location, and provides a virtual image of surroundings, all while rendering its user just this side of oblivious. 

Such apps offer much food for thought to capitalists and marketing professionals as well. You can potentially bring a Pokecrowd to the parking lot of your business, supposing you'd want to, and presidential candidates have staffers on top of it already. It should also come as no surprise that accidents and public nuisances have been attributed to the craze.  

It is truly remarkable that such an idea as a Pokemon program could move masses of people to change their routines and descend upon areas as instructed - in a fever pitch, no less. The intelligence community is destined to explore the virtually unlimited possibilities. Initial interests might include influencing players to unknowingly conduct activities for advantageous purposes, as well as rendering metropolitan areas inaccessible and lawless due to an unforeseen influx of large mobs of people. Traffic jams, utility overloads - all kinds of burdens on public services and related possibilities stand to loom on the horizon. 


YouTube user The Culture shares footage 
of the Pokemon hunt in Central Park

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fantastic Bush Quote on UFOs Tracked to Satire Site

41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush,
who did not attend an Orlando fundraiser
and did not discuss UFOs at it 
An incorrect story has been making the rounds in recent months quoting George Bush Senior as stating Americans can't handle the truth about UFOs. A bit of fact-checking demonstrates the item to be false. Perhaps equally as important is the manner such inaccurate information is cultivated without conscience in the UFO community by the very sources claiming to provide reliable reports.  

The Story

Paranormal-themed blogs, news sites, discussion forums and similar venues began carrying reports late last year of George H.W. Bush fueling the conspiracy fires while attending an event held in Orlando. It was allegedly a fundraiser for the attempted presidential run of his son, Jeb. As the story went, Papa Bush was asked about UFO disclosure, and he responded that we can't handle the truth.

Those who picked up the story included George Filer of Filer's Files, a writer and monthly column long highlighted by such organizations as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC). Filer was a speaker at the 2012 MUFON Symposium in spite of such questionable circumstances as selling lights he claimed cured the flu.   

Filer became one of many repeating the Bush story when he did so in Filer's Files #52, published in December, 2015. He credited Your News Wire as his source for the info. 

The Trail

Suffice it to say it did not take a seasoned detective to identify the story as false. No more was required than a laptop, a few minutes to conduct some searches, and a willingness to ask a few questions.

Where did Your News Wire get the story? Where, exactly, did this event occur? Can the people in question be confirmed to have actually been there? Such are the basics - who, what, where and all that stuff - we might initially ask about any story. If writers appear to conceal and obscure such details, or simply fail to report them, we should question why. 

A simple internet search quickly revealed yournewswire.com published the story October 5, 2015. Prominently and clearly credited as its source was World News Daily Report (WNDR), an infamously inaccurate "satire" site. Its disclaimer states:

WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.

That's it. That's the source of the story, a website that openly states its content is fictional and suggests any resemblance to actuality is miraculous.

The WNDR article did not have a date, but comments posted suggest it ran in October or thereabouts, obviously prior to the Your News Wire article that linked to it. None of the versions of the story included any details about the supposed venue hosting the alleged fundraiser. Furthermore, if Filer or other writers who ran with the story - with or without knowledge of WNDR as the source of the Bush quote - had so much as briefly checked what the Bushes were doing during the time in question, they would have easily discovered conflicting information.

A Florida Politics post, dated September 12, 2015, reported upcoming fundraisers involving the Bush family. Former First Lady Barbara Bush was scheduled to be at an event in Greater Orlando on Oct. 8, for instance, and former President George W. Bush was raising funds in New York, Texas and Arkansas. An Oct. 25 event in Houston was scheduled to include George W. and his father, George H.W. Bush. No mention whatsoever was made of an Orlando event involving Jeb and/or Bush Senior.  
    
The Harm

I'm not convinced WNDR is the most negligent party in such chains of events. Sure, it's a click bait site and, no, I don't condone the venture, but it is legal and appears to be the prerogative of such sites. We might not agree with the ethics and intentions, but maybe we should hold our community members to the same standards we would so quickly impose on a website like WNDR - that openly admits its stories are false if we bother to read what it posts about itself. 

I'm much more concerned with self-described investigators who selectively parrot what they hear and subsequently contribute to the manipulation of the UFO community. Am I to think this is the extent they vet their often celebrated witnesses? ...and why shouldn't I suspect swallowing such stories hook, line and sinker is indicative of gullibility, lack of critical thinking and poor research skills? Isn't that a reasonable opinion to surmise?

What's more, once the damage is done, i.e., people have read, absorbed and become attached to a story, it stands to effect them at deep emotional levels long after they may be informed it's false. Research shows people tend to resist opposition even harder when presented with facts that conflict with their belief. From How facts backfire, originally published in 2010 in The Boston Globe:

Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.  

It is challenging to express the extent I think this applies to ufology. The harm, as I see it, is the wholesale exploitation of a demographic of people: those willing to be open-minded enough to explore reports of UFOs and related phenomena. It is perpetrated all too often by the very organizations and investigators claiming to advocate for them. 

When unverified story is piled on top of unverified story year after year after year, it becomes extremely difficult to resist the resulting conditioning. Such resistance is now required, however, in order to look at reports with fresh eyes and explore them without biased, preconceived conclusions. The damage has long been done and there are many who fail to see anything wrong with it or even identify it as damage. I would argue that if we don't make an intentional effort to prioritize actuality, we never even give ourselves a chance to understand what takes place. 

I invite consideration of subjecting our community members to the same criticisms when warranted as we would satire sites. Failing to do so has resulted in decades of detrimental conditioning, the likes of which have solidified passionate beliefs built upon the shifting sands of quantity prioritized over quality.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Steering Public Interest

In September of 2015 I did a blog post summarizing the case of Jeffrey Alan Lash. Readers will recall a Los Angeles attorney alerted LAPD in July that the corpse of Lash was located in a vehicle parked in Pacific Palisades. The resulting investigation included increasingly strange circumstances reported in the media, involving the discovery of excessive amounts of weapons and cash, as well as tales of Lash being an ET-human hybrid working undercover for the CIA. 

Follow up efforts to learn more from LAPD hit a dead end. Further inquiry revealed the Department would not be releasing files on the Lash investigation.

Dawn VadBunker, one of the central
characters of the Lash case
The initial post has consistently received traffic. Week in and week out, regardless of what is cycling in the news and what is discussed around ufology, the summary of the Lash case receives anywhere from a hundred to several hundred views per week, now making it the second most viewed post ever on The UFO Trail. For whatever reasons, and a year after the story first broke, people remain interested in the bizarre chain of events, at least in proportion to other genre-specific cases. 

Website traffic logs indicate the visitors originate from IP addresses at universities, libraries, hotels, offices of state and city government - pretty much anywhere one might get on the internet. The traffic is also international, as our peers in Australia, South America and Europe, among other locations, appear intrigued by events surrounding Lash. 

Visitors also include IP addresses assigned to United States federal agencies, including locations both domestic and abroad. Traffic logs suggest visits specifically to the post on Lash repeatedly occurred from multiple offices of the Department of Defense and the Navy Network Information Center, as well as IPs assigned to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

I do not offer explanations as to why the Lash saga draws such interest. I'd imagine there are lots of different reasons. 

One dynamic I have pondered and will offer for consideration is, when a story gets legs, any number of demographics might desire to further understand and duplicate that interest. Such demographics might range from writers and Hollywood executives to intelligence analysts who specialize in propaganda and the accompanying social media operations. While the popular interest in the Lash story, and how such interest might be intentionally cultivated, could indeed seem a worthy object of attention, the reverse dynamic might also deserve its share of consideration: Minimizing publicity and the resulting impact of a story.

Involuntary Human Experimentation

There is a trial currently taking place, little discussion as it may generate in most circles, that involves involuntary human experimentation conducted by the American intelligence community. It's the Guantanamo war court.

Implications include the use of non-lethal weapons, or at the least such claims are being made. Incorrect claims might result from effects of trauma in some instances, among other reasons. Procedures used, widely known as "enhanced interrogation techniques," have caused permanent impairment, extreme trauma and death.

CIA planned to hold Abu Zubaydah
"incommunicado for the remainder of his life" 
Testimony includes statements that "noises and vibrations" are directed at prisoners as part of a psychological operation. Closed circuit television of the trial provided to journalists is intermittently turned off for security reasons. Moreover, extreme involuntary human experimentation was documented, among other sources, in the relatively recent Seton Hall University School of Law report, Guantanamo: America's Battle Lab - and the existence of Gitmo is hardly an isolated incident.      

Prison Legal News, a project and publication of the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center, reported in 2015 that some 54 nations were complicit in the operation of secret CIA prisons. Sources included reports from the US Senate and the Open Society Justice Initiative. Numerous international legal cases developed, with rulings leveled against the CIA. I devoted a chapter to such circumstances in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community. The chapter is titled 21st Century US Illegal Human Experimentation

Furthermore, a career intelligence officer, one frequently invited to speak as an expert at UFO-related events, asserted mind control was "coming back" - nine years ago. He added that technology would enable modification of the behavior of enemies, specifically citing those held at Guantanamo, via electronic means. 

"We're now getting to where we can do that," John Alexander stated during an interview published by The Washington Post in 2007. 

I'm not suggesting all the claims, by either prisoners or intel officials, are entirely accurate. Neither am I necessarily suggesting all of it directly applies to events within the UFO community. Those are other issues for another time.

What I'm inviting readers to consider is that fringe-themed websites, which devote substantial content to either supporting or criticizing such topics as CIA-employed hybrids, UFO cover-ups, and advanced alien technology, take such little interest in what's happening at Gitmo and other black sites. Many of the circumstances are readily accessible via declassified reports, as well as credible sources, such as those linked above, which analyze those reports. Nonetheless, members of the UFO community typically seem uninterested or poorly informed about the activities and scope of the intelligence community.

Meanwhile, for each of you who will read and consider the contents of this post, several hundred more will read about Lash.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

D-Up, UFO Community

President Barack Obama,
who recently told Rutgers grads,
"It's not cool to not know what you're talking about."
"We are going to get disclosure this year," Steve Bassett recently told the British Express. "I am not sure who will win the election, but I think Obama will be the disclosure president.
"He will be looking at a Nobel Prize for making an announcement like that. I am 85 percent sure Obama will make the announcement before he leaves office and within days your Prime Minister David Cameron will follow."
Knowing President Obama will end what Bassett terms the "truth embargo" is a simple exercise in logical deduction, according to Bassett, who also stated, "ET is real, we have gone beyond that."
Similarly, self-described father of the disclosure movement Steven Greer announced that "the forces suppressing truth can no longer hold back the floodgates of disclosure." Greer is employing yet another crowdfunded film "that ends illegal UFO and Free Energy Technology secrecy once and for all."
The fact such ventures continue to draw financial support could reasonably be considered a worthwhile target of attention in itself. Those on the email list of Bassett's Paradigm Research Group (PRG) are aware he has been announcing the hour is upon us and making pleas for cash donations several times per month for years. His highly questionable - and expensive - Citizen Hearing on Disclosure rarely receives mention any longer and in spite of the grand proclamations included in its marketing campaign. Supporters were solicited to help fund aspects of the mock hearing ranging from video production and postage for getting those videos to elected officials to meetings to be conducted with said officials. Now, however, Bassett seems to be on a publicity campaign through Europe, circumstances of which we are assured forge a path to imminent disclosure from the highest levels of global government. The White House can no longer contain the secret, he informed Express
Recent PRG emails included urgent pleas for funding. One could empathize if donors become concerned about vague suggestions of achievements lacking specific details and failures to account for unfulfilled goals. 
Greer marketing efforts, if nothing, are aggressive and bold. His assertion that his latest project will end secrecy once and for all comes on the heels of a crowdfunded film supporters hoped would do the same - but did not. And the same with his projects before that.
He does seem to be faring better than Bassett at the bank, or at least it would appear so if PRG emails are indications. In contrast, Greer reported substantial percentages of revenue from the then-nonprofit Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), translating to hundreds of thousands of dollars, paid to the Greer-owned Crossing Point Inc. CSETI subsequently surrendered its tax-exempt nonprofit status and declared itself a for-profit corporation in 2013. 
I seriously doubt the reality of an extraterrestrial presence. I am even more doubtful of official disclosure for reasons previously stated, which include detrimental implications to military and intelligence operations.
I could be wrong. One reasonable question would be whether disclosure activists could ever accept they might be wrong, and what it would take to have them consider the possibility. Also welcome would be some accountability for their chronic failure to achieve stated goals.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

UFO Memes and Media


Tom DeLonge fronted the popular rock band Blink 182 before he apparently decided a rewarding career awaited him in the wide open field of deciphering fact from fiction in ufology cloak and daggers. He put the word out on the street that spooks willing to blow the UFO whistle have a friend in him. The amazing things DeLonge has now learned, he tells us, enable him to inform the masses there are "high level" groups within the Department of Defense aware of "crashes" and the discovery of a "life form." His contacts reportedly include "a high-level member of the Pentagon," prompting the Mirage Men Twitter account to suggest he's the new Paul Bennewitz.

1947 newspaper headlines
later retracted by the Army
For those coming late to the party, don't worry, you haven't missed much, at least not as far as confirmation of stories about alleged aliens and their crashed spaceships go. There isn't any confirmation. However, you might have some catching up to do on how those tales have been garnished and served to previous generations.

The Bennewitz Affair

Paul Bennewitz became convinced during the 1980's he was uncovering an alien plot to invade the planet. His suspicions were further cultivated by Richard Doty of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), as well as William Moore, a high profile ufology writer and researcher of the era. The circumstances, which included tales of alien underground bases and circulation of inauthentic documents, were thoroughly explored in Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington and associates, and Project Beta by Greg Bishop, among other sources.

Many researchers now suspect AFOSI exploited Bennewitz's incorrect assumptions in order to minimize his credibility. That would have been so no one would pay any attention to matters of national security the man did happen to be stomping all over, however entirely unrelated to extraterrestrials the matters may have been. Moore dropped a quarter on the whole operation when he declared - during his keynote speech at the 1989 MUFON International Symposium, no less - that he had been conspiring with the intelligence community to feed disinformation to Bennewitz and the ufology faithful at large (see 1989 Nov. and Dec. editions of MUFON UFO Journal). 

Doty claims he was acting on official orders while gaslighting Bennewitz, who was eventually involuntarily admitted to a residential mental health facility. The matter of Air Force involvement continues to be debated. Alejandro Rojas conducted some solid FOIA work into the issue that was largely stonewalled, yet nonetheless made a worthy article

Moulton Howe and Mendez  

About the same time all that was happening with Doty, he also led researcher Linda Moulton Howe down the primrose path. He shared his brand of so-called official documents with her that made mention of aliens and their creation of humanity. As the work of Rojas points out, the Air Force remains mum on whether Doty was carrying out orders or if any investigations were ever conducted into its personnel circulating fantastic stories and forged supporting docs around town.

Meanwhile, a young airman named Simone Mendez got in a dust up with the same agency during the same era over the same topic, UFOs. She was stationed at Nellis AFB of Area 51 fame in 1981 when a coworker approached her with a likely forged classified doc about a dramatic UFO-related event. Mendez ended up grilled for months by AFOSI, which, as in the case of Bennewitz, Moulton Howe and Doty, seemed to practice some less than overt policies about who bears responsibility for possessing and distributing fake documents. The FBI got in on the interrogations as well, and Mendez later obtained files through the FOIA verifying some of the facts surrounding her ordeal (of which she was cleared of any wrongdoing). You can read details of the case in my book, The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community, which has a full chapter dedicated to the circumstances.

The Pentagon
But back to DeLonge. While younger and more optimistic members of the community might enthusiastically await the coming disclosure, seasoned spectators will experience feelings ranging from amused to annoyed about DeLonge's purported confidence in his sources. Suffice it to say they've heard it a few times before, and as longtime community member Lorin Cutts observed:
And worse still, DeLonge’s big “inside info” reveal is basically the deFacto mantra of the military-industrial elite and the perfect reason why we need to carry on spending $650 billion a year of public taxpayer money into the largely private accounts of the military-industrial complex. Hell, with full on disclosure (or even just disclosing to policy makers or hinting at it over and over) maybe they can even multiply that by a ten or hundred? He’s their poster boy (“Lockheed Martin are AWESOME”) and he’s reaching the masses via the mainstream in a way that most UFO disclosure campaigners could only have dreamt of.
Here’s what Tom has to say about his work with these top-secret insiders.
“I wanted to reverse people’s cynical view of government, not politicians. But the government and what it’s doing. There are people doing really heroic work. When people hear this they’re going to be so relieved that it’s not some big, bad secret government. It will change the way people feel about our military and intelligence leadership”
“There won’t be any disinformation in my project”.
With all due respect Tom, how on Earth would you know? 
Amy on the Radio

Last but not least, big thanks to Amy Martin of Amy on the Radio for recently having me on her new show. She has a significant presence in the Fortean community from such ventures as conducting The Haunted Skeptic Podcast and hosting Dark Matter Network News on Midnight in the Desert with Art Bell and Heather Wade. Amy describes her latest show as "one of variety, with large focus on interesting topics of scientific and skeptical inquiry." 

I'm honored to have been the guest on the initial broadcast, Thursday, May 5, in which her listeners and Twitter followers were hospitable, well-informed and all around great. We discussed topics as explored above, along with much more. If you missed it and want to check it out, you can subscribe like I did for just five bucks a month. 

Amy on the Radio airs live Mon. through Fri., 9 pm to midnight ET, on Deep Talk Radio Network, and you can get all the info at amyontheradio.com. Join the Twitter convo at #AmyTalk. I wish Amy and her supporters much success in producing many episodes of interesting, entertaining and - now, in the age of social media, interactive - paranormal radio.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hypnosis and Memory


 Excerpt from Chapter 2 of


by Jack Brewer

Because the risks of distortion vastly outweigh the chances of obtaining any useful information, forensic investigators and clinical practitioners should avoid hypnosis as a technique for enhancing recollection.
- John F. Kihlstrom, Ph.D., Hypnosis, memory and amnesia1

The American Psychological Association (APA) website informs us that “hypnosis is a therapeutic technique in which clinicians make suggestions to individuals who have undergone a procedure designed to relax them and focus their minds.”It is further explained that the activity is controversial yet accepted by most clinicians as a powerful and therapeutic treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including pain, bad habits and more. The APA reports that reaching a decision to use hypnosis should only be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis.Please note that the organization does not describe hypnosis as something recommended for amateur practice, does not claim it to be a reliable aid for retrieving suppressed memories and therefore obviously does not endorse its use as an investigative tool for writers seeking fantastic stories of alien abduction.

The Greys Have Been Framed
by Jack Brewer
As a matter of fact, hypnosis and the induction of nonordinary states of consciousness are typically viewed entirely differently among mental health professionals than members of the UFO community. Regressive hypnosis is but a single and increasingly obscure aspect of the overall hypnosis topic, albeit probably the first to come to mind among many UFO enthusiasts when the subject arises.

Non-ordinary states of consciousness are induced during many types of therapeutic activities, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, which may be employed during the treatment of emotional trauma, for example. Such procedures are most certainly not intended for the resulting mental imagery to be definitively accepted as representations of objective reality.

Quoted in a 2011 article, Hypnosis today, published by the APA, psychologist Dr. Michael Yapko stated that people do not really understand the suggestibility of memory.4 A fellow of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, Yapko described how hypnosis took a public relations hit in the 1990's. Therapists unwisely used hypnotic regression to supposedly assist their patients in uncovering suppressed memories of childhood abuse, resulting in hundreds of court cases consisting of false accusations made against innocent people. Yapko added that the entire regressive hypnosis issue subsequently fell by the wayside due to advances in research.

Dr. Joseph P. Green was quoted in the same APA article. A psychology professor at Ohio State University at Lima, Green's research demonstrated that hypnotic suggestions produced false and distorted memories. Adding to the mounting problems for proponents of hypnotic regression, which include many researchers of alleged alien abduction, Green found that hypnosis subjects had tendencies to incorrectly believe their hypnotically induced (and conclusively false) memories were even more reliable than those consciously recalled. Subjects argued the validity of the hypnotically induced memories even after they were informed of their inaccuracy. Such circumstances led Green to explain that hypnosis as a memory retrieval technique was “on thin ice,” regardless of the lingering and completely mistaken cultural belief that it acted as a truth serum.

If you're wondering why no one told the UFO community, they did. Lots of times. The pro-hypnotic regression segment of the community just refused to listen, which included leaders of nonprofit corporations questionably claiming to be committed to scientific investigation. In spite of such claims, many UFO-related organizations chronically provide venues for presenters who practice regressive hypnosis and promote the resulting fantastic stories as credible interpretations of reality.

Detrimental aspects of hypnosis became apparent to the American Medical Association (AMA), and not just as a memory enhancer, but across the board. The ill advised use of regressive hypnosis employed by therapists during the 1990's and the bull in a china shop tactics taken by ufology hypnotists certainly did not contribute positively to the AMA assessment. The American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association reported that the AMA served notice in recent years to inform its membership it is not appropriate to state that the AMA recognizes or endorses hypnosis for any purpose.

“The AMA objects to the use of its name in connection with hypnosis,” the notice further clarified.

False Memories

If a person wanted to learn what the professional research community has discovered about memory, the work of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus should be on their reading list. The award-winning experimental psychologist is a recognized leading expert in her field. She has conducted hundreds of experiments spanning decades that conclusively demonstrate the lack of reliability of memories and witness testimony.6 The manners witnesses are questioned affects their perceptions of past events, Loftus verified, which carries significant implications to many professions and social dynamics, most certainly including investigations of alleged alien abduction and UFOs. The research of Elizabeth Loftus should be considered of great importance to the UFO community, as is apparently the case with the Central Intelligence Agency, which featured Dr. Loftus at a 2015 TEDx conference held at the Agency's Langley campus, the contents of which were classified.7

Loftus has demonstrated that details of supposed memories and entire events contained therein may be incorrectly perceived that have no basis in objective reality. Memory is not a solid data base that remains in tact, but a complex, changing mental landscape which is subject to virtually infinite conditions. Both
incorrect and relatively actual memories tend to be embellished over time, and resulting perceptions, accurate or not, influence future behavior.

Loftus could identify no cogent scientific support indicating that forgotten experiences or suppressed memories could consistently be recalled through the use of special techniques, or that such techniques provided reliable results.What's more, she found there is ample reason to believe that suggestive and prolonged searches for hidden memories could be harmful.

In early 2015, Loftus and colleagues published results of their first of its kind research on connections between sleep deprivation and susceptibility to false memories, which they reported could have “dire consequences.”The implications were significant to the use of sleep deprivation as a technique to enhance interrogation of prisoners and incarcerated individuals.

More on false memories and people being affected, or led, by the ways questions are constructed and posed was reported in 2015 by the Association for Psychological Science.10 Research subjects at the University of Bedfordshire were convinced within a few hours they had committed crimes that actually never happened. A study found that confessions to crimes can be surprisingly easy to generate and that the resulting false memories can have the same kinds of complex details as real memories. All participants needed to generate a richly detailed false memory, psychologist and lead researcher Dr. Julia Shaw explained, was three hours in a friendly interview environment, the introduction of a few wrong details and the use of some poor memory retrieval techniques. Bells should be ringing with those familiar with investigative techniques practiced by ufology hypnotists.

University of Bedfordshire,
Bedford Campus
Bedfordshire researchers were surprised to discover the extents subjects were influenced when provided with accurate information accompanied by inaccurate information, and then encouraged to fill in more detail. False recollections were readily generated to the point of participants reenacting crimes they never committed.

Further considerations were provided by researchers at Macquarie University. They conducted a project in which hypnosis was used to temporarily create delusional beliefs in otherwise non-delusional people. Science Daily reported on the project in its 2008 article, Hypnosis: The Key to Unlocking the Delusional Mind?.11 The study was fascinating and might very well be contemplated in the context of problems with subjecting alleged alien abductees to hypnotic regression.

Hypnosis was used to study delusions because they share so many characteristics, researchers explained. Both involve distortions in reality, for instance, and in both cases the distortions tend to be believed with conviction by those who experience them.

Research subjects were hypnotized and given one of three suggestions used to create a delusion. Results indicated the “hypnotic suggestion created a credible, compelling delusion.”

To what extent? Some participants became unable to recognize their own reflections in a mirror. In order for researchers to learn more about a condition known as mirrored-self misidentification, subjects were given hypnotic suggestions to see strangers in the mirror. The suggestions worked.

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1 National Center for Biotechnology Information: Hypnosis, memory and amnesia
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1692104/pdf/9415925.pdf 

2 American Psychological Association: Hypnosis
http://www.apa.org/topics/hypnosis/ 

3 American Psychological Association: Hypnosis Today: Looking beyond the media portrayal
http://www.apa.org/topics/hypnosis/media.aspx 

4 American Psychological Association: Hypnosis today
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/hypnosis.aspx 

5 American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association: Important Notice Regarding
Hypnosis and the American Medical Association 
http://apmha.com/amahypnosis.htm 

6 University of California at Irvine: Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology
http://www.law.uci.edu/news/faculty/loftus_APFaward-program_aug2013.pdf 

7 The Huffington Post: Even The CIA Likes TED Talks, But Only Secret Ones
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/24/ted-talks-cia_n_7139940.html  

8 Cogprints: Memory Distortion and False Memory Creation
http://cogprints.org/599/1/199802009.html 

9 Social Science Research Network: Sleep Deprivation and False Memories
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2554561 

10 Association for Psychological Science: People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened
http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/people-can-be-convinced-they-committed-a-crime-they-dont-remember.html 

11 Science Daily: Hypnosis: The Key to Unlocking the Delusional Mind?
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428160113.htm