Monday, May 16, 2022

Pulp UFO Writers and the FBI

     Ray Palmer was an editor and distributor of pulp magazines during the mid 20th century. He got in my sights while I was researching and writing WAYWARD SONS: NICAP and the IC. Palmer distributed pulp fantasy and sci-fi on a wide scale and is considered to have significantly contributed to the public perception of flying saucers and conspiracies during his era. Suffice it to say Palmer was not overly concerned with accuracy in his magazines as compared to getting eyes on the pages.

Maj. Donald Keyhoe, who became the face of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, was a widely published author before his run as the most high profile UFO activist of his time. His writing included contributions to the fantasy genre, as Palmer was popularizing. Keyhoe's work once made the cover of Weird Tales, pictured right. 

FBI records on Keyhoe indicate the Bureau was not a fan of his articles. A 1958 FBI memo on Keyhoe quotes Bureau Assistant Director Nichols as describing Keyhoe's writing as flamboyant and irresponsible. 

An example is cited of a 1941 piece co-authored by Keyhoe and published in Cosmopolitan. It apparently reported Adolph Hitler had a plan to seize the Merchant Marines and went on to assert the FBI possessed documents to that effect. The memo stated the assertion "was completely false." From the 1958 FBI memo:

 


There was no doubt media was a valuable tool in shaping public sentiment, and the FBI had keen interests in all phases of the process. That included Palmer and his distribution of pulp magazines, in addition to keeping an eye on what was coming out of the typewriter of Donald Keyhoe.

A 1953 report contained in an FBI file obtained on Ray Palmer lists five publications he operated at that point in time. Among them was Fate, with a reported circulation of 65,000. Several former publications were mentioned in the report as well, such as Amazing Stories, which gave rise to some of Palmer's most widely known sensations. 

The FBI file indicates an investigation was launched on Palmer in 1953 after the Bureau received a tip he was publishing Communist propaganda. Palmer would have seemingly been in a minority if he wasn't accused of Communist sympathizing, and the investigation found nothing of concern, at least not about Russians. There were other aspects of the resulting reports authored by Special Agents that caught my attention, however.

Not unlike the actions of Keyhoe, writers and opportunists numbered among those who worked the FBI into their narratives. One was a Paul Vest, published in Palmer's Mystic Magazine. This was the kind of thing that tended to get Director Hoover's attention, and in 1954 agents were dispatched to Palmer's location in Evanston, Illinois. They were equipped with instructions from Hoover to make it clear the FBI did "not appreciate having the name of the Bureau used in fantastic stories appearing in his publication to add credence to his stories and articles." 

The Vest piece was titled, catchily enough, "Venusians Walk Our Streets!". The author claimed in the story that FBI labs were in possession of a steel plate that just such a Venusian had marked with a half inch deep streak with no more effort than passing his fingernail over it. This also obviously suggested the Bureau was aware of said Venusians walking among the population. Hoover subsequently investigated to his satisfaction there were no FBI personnel at any such labs spreading stories as published and subsequently sent agents to make Palmer well aware of the fact. 

The creatively resourceful
Ray Palmer
In a memo dated July 22, 1954, a Special Agent in Charge at the Milwaukee Field Office advised Hoover contact was made with Ray Palmer. Palmer reportedly apologized for the misrepresentation of the Bureau and described it as an oversight on his part. This is where it gets a bit more interesting.

Palmer offered to publish a retraction, according to the FBI report, refuting Vest's claim about the FBI. Palmer further informed the agent he regularly supplied the CIA in Chicago with saucer reports mailed to him that he thought were most feasible, adding he was advised the Agency was interested in flying saucer reports. 

The FBI agent wrote Palmer explained, that in the next issue of Mystic Magazine, "he would be glad to insert an article agreeable to the Bureau." From the 1954 memo:

 



Was this Ray Palmer attempting to secure an advantageous relationship with the FBI? It could also be interpreted he was suggesting he already had such an arrangement with the CIA, and that perhaps the Bureau would find it mutually beneficial to be in the loop.

Whatever might be read between the lines, it was indicative of the niche Palmer carved out for himself, and a certain amount of power it wielded. It also signaled the beginnings of a tumultuous and unsteady alliance between certain writers and their intelligence agency contacts on the topic of UFOs. Those precarious relationships would persist to this very day.

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See also:

UFO Activism and Congressional Hearings, 1960s Style

Friday, May 13, 2022

UFO Activism and Congressional Hearings, 1960s Style

    Below is an excerpt from Chapter 10 of WAYWARD SONS: NICAP and the IC. The excerpt explores the efforts of Maj. Donald Keyhoe and his National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena to generate Congressional hearings on UFOs during the 1960s. There are many similarities to events happening in today's overlap of politics and UFO advocacy. While Keyhoe's efforts may have initially appeared successful, his lobbying may arguably serve as more of a cautionary tale than cause for celebration. 


    NICAP files contain reference to what the organization considered “educational work” conducted in 1962. During the first quarter of the year, “special material” was sent to 62 students and teachers for what was described as use in preparing term papers, science projects, research reports, and so on (NICAP_Educational_work.pdf, p1). Such material included “a bibliography, source material, back magazines, etc.” More shipments for the fall were reportedly being processed. 

Similar efforts to “educate” Congress were also undertaken, as indicated in a 1962 form letter apparently authored by Keyhoe (NICAP_Educational_work.pdf, p9)

We can observe Keyhoe's tactic of declaring UFOs represented a national security threat. This would hold obvious significance to elected officials and intelligence agencies. Perhaps, however, applying the term “UFO” to such potential threats was not as relevant as UFO proponents might prefer the public believe. Beyond groups like NICAP using the issue as a public relations ploy, it's not clear how the armed forces should do its job any differently if it called air incursions UFOs instead of radar returns. Similar circumstances may be observed today. 

Keyhoe previously ran into resistance on such matters. Rep. Joseph Karth, in a 1961 letter to Keyhoe, addressed Keyhoe's proposal for a Congressional hearing. Karth wrote (NICAP_Keyhoe_Karth.pdf, p3): 


Rep. Karth expressed disappointment in Keyhoe's apparent intention to focus on Air Force secrecy as compared to presenting substantial evidence of UFOs. It has since become an all too standard part of the ufologist tool kit to plead their cases based on the obstruction of evidence rather than its presentation. 

Furthermore, Karth suggested he questioned Keyhoe's arrogance and hypocrisy concerning national security and secrecy. The Congressman appeared perturbed Keyhoe seemed oblivious to the sensitivity of classified material, referring to it as “minor items,” while expecting to be granted the luxury of withholding information as he saw fit. This of course became a staple of the UFO genre, and it continues today. Such concealed details frequently obstruct fundamental aspects of the universally recognized fact-finding process. The double standards try the patience of the more discerning members of the community at large. Rep. Karth was apparently in the “put up or shut up” camp, and saw the irony in Keyhoe reserving the right to remain silent while demanding answers from men charged with protecting national security. 

Richard Hall
Nonetheless, as noted in the above 1962 letter penned by Keyhoe, The UFO Evidence was on its way. It was destined to be considered among NICAP and editor Richard Hall's most significant contributions to the study of UFOs. From a July 1, 1964 NICAP press release (NICAP_papers_mixed_years.pdf, pp32-33): 

    “A documentary report charging Air Force censorship of unidentified flying objects was submitted today to Congressman John McCormack, Speaker of the House, and Senator Mike Mansfield, Majority Leader. The report is based on a 7-year investigation by military and technical experts of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). 

“The 184-page document, titled 'The UFO Evidence,' contains hundreds of verified UFO sightings by airline and military pilots, aerospace scientists and engineers, and other experienced observers. 

“NICAP, a private fact-finding organization, includes on its Board of Governors and Advisers: Army, Navy and Air Force officers, scientists, veteran pilots, and other specialists... 

“The charge of official secrecy was backed by a majority of the Board and Advisers, including Colonel J. Bryan III, USAFR (Ret); Admiral H. B. Knowles, USN (Ret); Dr. Leslie K. Kaeburn, biophysicist, University of Southern California; and Dr. C. P. Olivier, President of the American Meteor Society... 

“The NICAP Report covers approximately 750 cases selected from over 5000 on file. The documented cases include numerous reports by Air Force pilots, and incidents of UFOs which made close approaches to aircraft... According to NICAP, the large majority of these cases are totally unsolved. Although Air Force analysts claim to have explained some of the cases, NICAP says counter-to-fact answers have often been given to Members of Congress and the press... 

“After the current outbreak of UFO sightings, the Air Force admitted it had 910 unsolved cases out of 8128 - approximately 11%. Heretofore the Air Force had insisted it had solved all but 1 or 2%. The most recent unexplained sighting, according to the Air Force, is the April 24 observation by a police officer in Socorro, N.M., who saw an egg-shaped UFO take off from a gulley. Imprints and scorch marks were found at the site. 

“The NICAP report states '...it is a reasonable hypothesis that the unexplained UFOs are real physical objects... artificial... under the control (piloted or remote) of living beings'... Many of the NICAP Board Members and Advisers have gone further, contending that the UFOs are extraterrestrial devices observing the earth. Among these are Col. J. Bryan III; Admiral H. B. Knowles; Prof. C. A. Maney; Dr. Leslie K. Kaeburn; and Capt. William B. Nash. 

“Verified cases in the report show speeds and maneuvers beyond the capabilities of any earth-made machines, often confirmed by radar... In addition to the massive U.S. evidence, NICAP reports dozens of foreign cases from trained observers which confirm the observations of high performance objects and lead to the same conclusion. 

“In order to reduce the dangers of accidental war caused by misidentification of UFOs on radar screens, and to educate the public to the realities, NICAP advocates a sweeping review of government policies on the subject by Congress. Speaker McCormack and Senator Mansfield have been asked to request UFO hearings. Many Members of Congress in recent years have gone on record in favor of open hearings... 

“In releasing the document, NICAP warned that crackpot groups might try to take advantage of it by claiming it supports their views. The Committee disowned any claims that UFOs proved any particular religious or philosophical views currently being expounded by UFO cults. NICAP stated it had not found verification of a single claim of communication with space men.” 

    NICAP would indeed eventually see its hopes come to fruition for a Congressional hearing on UFOs, but before that happened, CIA officers paid a visit to NICAP headquarters. A now publicly available CIA memo dated January 25, 1965, reflects Agency interest in obtaining materials, including UFO reports, from NICAP for delivery to its Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI). The memo further states OSI desired the information to assist in preparing a paper on UFOs. 

The CIA Contact Division met with Richard Hall on January 19, 1965, at which time he loaned the dispatched officers material and UFO reports for review. It was noted in the January 25 CIA document there was a strong feeling on the part of NICAP officials that the Air Force tended to downgrade the importance of UFO sightings. Hall apparently told the CIA officers there had been instances where the Air Force attempted to intimidate witnesses and get them to sign false statements. 

In closing, the report stated a security clearance was being requested on Hall. There are various accounts and anecdotes around the UFO community about Hall's interactions with intelligence agencies, often framed as Hall having a rather nonchalant attitude about them. A generally accepted consensus is Hall was never issued a security clearance and did not develop a significant relationship with the CIA, and I have not discovered any particular reasons to suppose otherwise. 

A now declassified OSI memo is dated January 26, 1965. You will note it was apparently composed the day after the above memo was written. The OSI memo was sent to the Director of Central Intelligence from OSI Assistant Director Donald F. Chamberlain. It was written in response to a request from DCI John McCone for an assessment on UFOs. The materials borrowed from NICAP contributed to findings reported by Chamberlain in the memo, according to the CIA

Chamberlain summarized some then-recent UFO reports, adding no evidence was revealed UFOs were of foreign origin or were a security threat to the United States. He clarified OSI monitored UFO reports, including those investigated by the Air Force, and concurred with Air Force conclusions. 

Ironically, while Keyhoe and his supporters were convinced an orchestrated UFO cover-up was being perpetrated by the CIA and Air Force, the two agencies were apparently actually in agreement there was not even a threat, at least not from unknown airborne objects. Threats of propaganda and espionage were another story, as suggested previously by the Robertson Panel. An argument could be made such concerns, and the resulting minimization of the topic for what may have been considered in at least some instances the public's own good, contributed significantly to the perception of official UFO secrecy. 

Similar might be said about the intelligence community's aversion to publicly addressing UFOs due to reasons that included its own manipulation of the topic in an offensive capacity. Uncle Sam obviously did not want to address his own covert use of the UFO subject. 

There was additional irony in the way UFO enthusiasts tended to interpret CIA interest in NICAP. For instance, NICAP and Keyhoe chose to withhold certain information because they did not want to divulge sources of reports and documents. They subsequently feared the CIA was snooping around to infiltrate their lines of communication. That may have been true to some extent, but not for the reasons NICAP chose to believe, which hinged upon the perception the CIA was scrambling to keep the existence of an extraterrestrial presence from becoming publicly revealed. 

In a manner of speaking, NICAP activities and subsequent CIA responses served as a self-fulfilling prophecy for NICAP. Intelligence community actions often seemed to be interpreted to confirm what UFO investigators chose to subjectively believe, and that largely continues to be the case in the UFO genre today. 

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Gordon Lore
    Gordon Lore explained it was during this point in time he began working at NICAP. In his book Flying Saucers from Beyond the Earth, Lore stated he had taken a job as a writer-editor in Washington, D.C. In addition to writing, the future NICAP assistant director was also a musician who played the guitar at night at a local coffee house. 

Richard Hall was in attendance during one of Lore's performances in the summer of 1965, Lore wrote. He accompanied Hall and a group of friends back to Hall's apartment where they hung out and Lore entertained some more. Lore told Hall about his interest in UFOs, and was hired to join NICAP by the end of the night. He soon submitted his resignation at what he described as a subsidiary of U.S. News and World Report and was on his way to work with Keyhoe, Hall and NICAP.

“It was to become a dream job,” Lore wrote, “mixed with more than a little anxiety about keeping the organization afloat during the next five years.” 

In 1966 a series of dramatic UFO sightings began in Michigan. The widely reported events included dozens of witnesses, as well as police officers giving chase to whatever they were seeing in the sky. Renowned UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek infamously suggested swamp gas as a feasible explanation. 

Then-House Minority Leader and future-President Gerald Ford took interest. As an elected official of Michigan, he was among those supporting calls for a Congressional hearing on UFOs. The House Armed Services Committee soon conducted just such a hearing, although it was relatively brief. While there wasn't much in the way of substantial information getting revealed, a chain of events was by that point in motion that would forever shape the timeline of UFO World. 

The Air Force announced a forthcoming independent review of Project Blue Book and related UFO evidence. It was titled the University of Colorado Scientific Study of UFOs, conducted by what was known as the Condon Committee due to the lead researcher, physicist Dr. Edward U. Condon. 

Richard Hall described events of 1966 and how they influenced NICAP in his previously referenced 1994 paper, The Quest For The Truth About UFOs: A Personal Perspective On The Role Of NICAP. With a little help from the UFOs, Hall explained, NICAP was thrust further than ever into the media spotlight. As a result of all the buzz, NICAP was deluged with mail, routinely receiving hundreds of letters a day. Public interest in UFOs, and subsequently NICAP, produced a degree of financial stability previously unknown to the organization. 

Don Berliner reported that by early 1967 NICAP grew to some 14,000 members. The Committee then employed nine full-time staff, which, Berliner noted, was more than could be said for the Blue Book payroll. 

Hall wrote that NICAP worked diligently to provide Dr. Condon and his staff with the best evidence possible to assist in compiling its report. NICAP understandably saw the UFO study undertaken at the University of Colorado as significant, or, as Hall put it, that their dreams were coming true. The help was enrolled of Dr. James E. McDonald, an outspoken UFO proponent and atmospheric physicist at the University of Arizona. Many UFO proponents probably fully anticipated a desirable outcome, at least initially, because they sincerely believed the evidence did indicate an abundance of interplanetary craft. Intelligence agencies and other scientists, not so much. 

In his 1973 book, Aliens From Space, Maj. Keyhoe stated NICAP eventually compiled some 9,300 UFO cases, 2,000 of which he suggested were top notch. I guess he was suggesting there were aliens all over the place. Perhaps it did not occur to Keyhoe that overwhelming Condon and the public in endless stories might not be as effective a tactic as he hoped. 

Hall wrote NICAP “worked on a massive project of copying files for the Colorado scientists.” This went on for over the course of a year and included “hundreds of strong cases,” as well as NICAP subcommittees sending Condon new reports perceived as potentially important. 

Keyhoe further wrote that almost right away Condon and the project administrator, Robert J. Low, began indicating to the press they did not anticipate arriving at conclusions supporting anything overly significant about UFOs. The two were quoted as speaking favorably about Air Force investigative efforts, as well as suggesting the government should get out of the UFO business. Such positions were of course in conflict with stances held by NICAP. 

In spite of the statements, Keyhoe and NICAP tried to stay the course. That might have particularly been due to repeated assurances received from Condon and Low the study would be conducted objectively, according to the writings of Keyhoe and Lore. Dr. Condon and Robert Low reportedly minimized the significance of their published remarks when asked about them by Keyhoe. 

The final straw came for Keyhoe when he learned of what came to be known as the “Trick Memo.” It was a leaked Condon Committee memo written by Robert Low in which he described an operating strategy for the UFO study. The committee would consist of scientists, Low explained, who could not possibly prove a negative result, even though they might indeed publish an impressive body of evidence suggesting there was nothing extraordinary about UFO observations. Low then added, “The trick would be... to describe the project so that, to the public, it would appear a totally objective study, but, to the scientific community, would present the image of nonbelievers trying their best to be objective but having an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer...” (Lore, Gordon. 2018. Flying Saucers from Beyond the Earth. BearManor Media. (p124))

Keyhoe and his organization, when they got wind of the memo, responded with an April 30, 1968 press release, “NICAP Calls Colorado UFO Project Failure” (NICAP_incorporation_papers.pdf, p31). The release stated NICAP sent a report to the president of the United States, containing evidence of “grave deficiencies” in the University of Colorado UFO project. It was further stated NICAP broke relations with the project after 17 months of cooperation. Reasons listed for the break included Condon had never conducted a field investigation of a UFO sighting or interviewed responsible witnesses, although named as chief principal investigator. 

“Dr. Condon summarily discharged two Project scientists,” the news release continued, “for revealing written proposals by Project Coordinator Robert J. Low that the Colorado Project be represented to the public as 'totally objective', when in fact it would be constituted almost entirely of non-believers, with 'an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer'.” 

It was further alleged Condon and Low “both refused, in writing, to answer NICAP questions as to whether the Project was being conducted in a biased and negative manner.” Condon, it was asserted, “refused to guarantee he would examine any of the hundreds of NICAP-investigated UFO reports, submitted at the Project's request.” 

Keyhoe and NICAP took measures to prepare for public response to what was clearly going to be, from their perspectives, an unfavorable report from Condon. Their efforts included a second Congressional hearing, organized by NICAP supporter Rep. J. Edward Roush, an Indiana Congressman who chaired the House Committee on Science and Aeronautics. He held the Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects on July 29, 1968. 

While a few qualified scientists and NICAP representatives attended and provided testimony, the event was limited in scope. It did, however, mark the historic occasion of a second Congressional hearing on UFOs. 

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    The Condon Report was published in January 1969. The general conclusion stated nothing had come from the study of UFOs that added to scientific knowledge. It was additionally reported, “Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” 

The issue was addressed in the document as to what, if anything, the federal government should do about UFO reports received from the general public. “We are inclined to think that nothing should be done with them in the expectation that they are going to contribute to the advance of science,” the Condon Committee wrote. 

If the implications were not clear enough as to what the group collectively recommended about operating government UFO research projects outside normal military channels, it explicitly clarified its stance. “It is our impression that the defense function could be performed within the framework established for intelligence and surveillance operations without the continuance of a special unit such as Project Blue Book, but this is a question for defense specialists rather than research scientists.” 

The Condon Committee made its position clear: The study of UFOs was producing nothing of scientific value and Blue Book should be discontinued. 

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    The report, eagerly anticipated by the public, was now actually published. Gordon Lore wrote a memo to the NICAP office in the aftermath. The January 27, 1969, memo declared the organization and the UFO subject were facing perhaps their most critical period. Refuting the Condon Report was crucial and would require cooperation and hard work on the part of NICAP, Lore suggested (NICAP_Condon_reaction.pdf, p1). Time would show the goal was not to be achieved. 

Challenges included quarrels among the staff and a declining membership. If the negative Condon Report wasn't bad enough, it had now been over two full years since the Michigan sightings. People were tired of waiting for answers, or at least the answers they wanted to hear. What's more, a growing number of NICAP supporters' patience was wearing thin about attacking the Air Force. 

As explored earlier, it is difficult to tackle the UFO subject without drawing lines in the political sand. This was not only true in Keyhoe's day, but was the case for years to come. As I write this, current news cycles are more likely to include statements about UFOs from Pentagon spokespersons, Senators, and bureaucrats than from scientists. We should take that into deep consideration when forming our assessments. We might also question what practical contribution Congress might even make to the topic of UFOs. In hindsight, much of it seemed to be performative and in pursuit of a mixed bag of agendas. 

Maj. Donald Keyhoe
In the case of Keyhoe, he seemed to have come to believe lobbying elected officials and leveling demands at intelligence agencies was UFO research. At the least, it appears he considered it the most likely way to produce substantial results. If his actions were indicative of his beliefs, and he truly thought he was pursuing the most productive path, he was simply wrong. He gave it a hell of a try, though, for what that may or may not be worth. 

Many at the time seemed to believe the Condon Report was part of an orchestrated cover-up to deny the reality of UFOs and ultimately the extraterrestrial presence the reported craft were often believed to indicate. More than a few still think so, at least among those in UFO circles who are aware of the Condon Committee. Frankly, I doubt many people could tell you why they believe the study was a sham, the idea just took on the quality of one of those “everybody knows” kind of things. 

I strongly suspect very few people could articulate such circumstances as the Trick Memo and offer specific reasons why they believe the Air Force and Condon Committee conspired to deceive the public and cancel Project Blue Book. In most circumstances, the primary reason for such beliefs seems to be because UFOs were not confirmed to be sensational, thus there must have been a government cover-up. 

Perhaps there actually were more deceptive motives at play. It's possible, for any number of reasons. It's also possible the Air Force came to conclude chasing UFOs was a waste of time much more often than not, and Condon and Low were subsequently identified as good candidates to arrive at such a conclusion. 

It's a reasonable likelihood Air Force officials sincerely found UFOs and the related controversies to be an unproductive drain of resources, and believed objective scientists would concur – as had often been the case up to that point. The powers that be may therefore have identified a somewhat “fixed” study as the best way out of the problem. It may not have been they were trying to rig the study as much as they were trying to ensure it did not fall under the care of overly enthusiastic saucer fanatics. 

It could even have been the intent, at least in part, for the Condon Committee to upstage NICAP, and create an alternative group of respected scientists and researchers. The alternative group would, of course, reach different conclusions than those promoted by NICAP. In the process, it would ease the Air Force burden of answering questions about UFOs and constantly finding itself in the crosshairs of Donald Keyhoe. 

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    Richard Hall did not seem to subscribe to conspiracies about the Condon Committee. That was the case even though he was admittedly bitter over circumstances surrounding his August 1969 final departure from NICAP. He described negotiations as long and contentious with Board members Col. Joseph Bryan III and Joseph B. Hartranft, Jr. Hall wrote the conflict was over back salary issues and stated the negotiations ultimately went nowhere. 

Hall extensively supplied information to the Condon Committee, as well, which stood to substantially increase his disappointment about the resulting report and overall circumstances. Nonetheless, he did not promote the Condon cover-up angle. 

“Was the Colorado UFO Project a conspiracy to debunk the subject?” Hall wrote in 1994. “Another 'front' operation to sweep the UFO problem under the rug? Many UFOlogists today write it off in that way, assuming that it must have been a put-up job from the start. However, there is a much simpler and all too-human explanation for what happened.” 

Condon and Low were simply not interested in UFOs, Hall suggested. Hall wrote that during one briefing he attended, Condon fell asleep. 

In another instance, Hall explained he personally hand-carried to Condon what he felt was an impressive and thick investigation report on a 1966 UFO case. When the Condon Report was later released, Hall was astonished to find no mention of it at all. 

“It had never occurred to me,” Hall explained, “that he would simply ignore it.” 

In his previously referenced 2018 book, Gordon Lore reflected, “Following the public release of the Condon Report, the prospects for NICAP continuing as a viable UFO organization quickly took a downward spiral. Adding fuel to the fire, unfortunately, was Keyhoe himself. Being an organizational and money manager was not his cup of tea. Some had even compared him to 'a second Townsend Brown.' 

“In a secret meeting on December 3, 1969, the NICAP Board with Colonel Joseph Bryan III presiding, fired both Keyhoe and myself. It soon became apparent that I had to be terminated as a convenient 'scapegoat.'” (Lore, Gordon. 2018. Flying Saucers from Beyond the Earth. BearManor Media. (p237)) 

And like that, the Keyhoe years were over. 

Staffer Stuart Nixon became director, and John “Jack” Acuff was soon appointed president. Ted Bloecher recalled the circumstances in a letter written to Richard Hall in approximately 1973. He was initially referencing his own business disagreement with Nixon, as compared to those concerning Keyhoe and Lore, when he wrote, “I have underestimated the lengths Stuart is capable of going to. But then, he's the one who fixed it so Major Keyhoe and Gordon Lore got axed. The shame of it is, I went along with it.” (NICAP_Bloecher_Report_1947.pdf, p5)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

UFO Faux Journalism

    I'm not a journalist. I write about stuff I find interesting.

Journalism is a profession consisting of skilled investigators and reporters. Many are educated in its disciplines, although its protocols are often undermined by hobbyists. I think calling myself a journalist would devalue the work invested and dues paid by those who earned the title through years of college and employment. I just like to conduct research and then write about my findings, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time pursuing the pastime.

The UFO subculture blurred the lines between not only professional journalists and amateur reporters, but also between journalists and what are more accurately described as UFO promoters. It's been happening and morphing for decades. Such promoters become enmeshed with their subjects of interest and even seem offended at times if they are not discussed as primary parts of the stories.

The 2022 UFO Researcher of the Year at -
wait, being told that's pro wrestling promoter Vince McMahon

In recent years and months in (what we might generously call) ufology, numerous self-styled journalists cropped up to assist the usual UFO promoters in making an absolute mess of anything that may have ever held any resemblance to objective reporting. This happens through a combination of shortcomings. Make no mistake, the sometimes sincere yet unequipped self-styled journos are manipulated in some instances. They lack the skills and tools they need to navigate increasingly complex situations. This can result in folding to the noise of the crowd and those who push them hardest. They typically have minimal mentorship and what little they get is often low quality.  

In other circumstances they're more willingly coerced, hoovering up and disseminating talking points they're given by what they perceive to be movers and shakers. Some simply don't care about accuracy and have any number of ulterior motives, ranging from believing ends justify means regarding their beloved Disclosure to their quest for heightened community status that results from "attaboys" gifted from those movers and shakers. If you're thinking that sounds a lot like a cult, you're right. It should also be noted there are actual journalists who often don't fare a whole lot better when caught between UFO storytellers, deadlines, and their needs to get work published. A lot of rationalizing goes on. 

I do not consider myself a journalist. I do however, respect and observe standards recognized by the professional research community. I try my best to remain in the framework of those standards, citing sources as applicable and obtaining comment as I think adds value to my offerings. This has guided me through some 12 years of blogging and two self-published nonfiction books. 

For what my opinion may or may not be worth, I think the two dynamics described below are primary reasons current UFO "journalists" are following in the long tradition of failure forged before them. These dynamics are not new to the genre by any means, but various aspects of technology and current day circumstances indeed further aggravate the dysfunction. UFO reporters fail to produce quality work when: 

- They mistakenly try to be friends with the subjects of their interviews and research, and

- Online screennames and concealed identities create an environment in which they don't know who they are talking to from one interaction to the next 

We will explore these two dynamics further below.

Fraternizing

    Some UFO writers and podcasters get the idea that building a following must be contingent on being well liked. This goes hand in hand with wanting access to inside info and juicy gossip; it only seems to stand to reason you'll get more news tips and eyes on your work if people like you.

Unfortunately for them, this may well be the easiest type of person to manipulate. I often wonder if they're aware they transitioned from reporting to acting as someone's mouthpiece, and if they identify a particular point in time it happened.

Some of the manipulators are much more skilled than your average bear at transferring their talking points into someone else's platform. They may approach writers and podcasters in overly friendly manners, making it challenging to hold boundaries. They may then express disappointment and suggest they were hurt by the way a writer framed their statements or how a show host described their actions.

Is that gaslighting? You bet your ass it's gaslighting. They'll have you apologizing for accurately quoting them if you let them.

Another tool in their bag is dumping "off the record" remarks all over your inbox when you specifically requested comment for inclusion in a blogpost or book. In at least some instances, this is a direct attempt to influence your framing of a story without taking public responsibility for their statements: They are trying to persuade you to champion a cause but do not go on record for the simple reason they cannot prove the legitimacy of the tale they're selling. They want you to take the heat for it and be left babbling about how you can't tell anyone how you know it's true.

To the less experienced, I recommend bringing such exchanges back to focusing on comments to be published, and the sooner the better. You are outright being enrolled as an emotional support person or confidant without your permission, and in direct contradiction to the role in which you defined and presented yourself, a writer impersonally seeking comment for publication. 

It is simple manipulation. Recognize it, label it, and act accordingly.

Research and investigations should prioritize accuracy. We should seek to support or refute a given point. It's not personal. Keep it that way.

Sockpuppets

    Online discourse, research communities, and virtually every other aspect of internet interactions in the UFO subculture is in a state of dysfunctional paralysis. A leading reason is we simply do not know who we're talking to from one interaction to the next. This virtually cripples podcast hosts who rely heavily on social media for interacting with potential guests, as well as researchers who make themselves available for a variety of purposes. 

Let's say Podcaster A invites you to their show to discuss your take on the UFO research climate. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, how do you know they're not one of those anonymous trolls that posted an inappropriate and vulgar photoshop of someone's profile pic? And how sure are you they're not one of those people sending you unsolicited direct messages, asking you what you think about 'this' or 'that' about one person or issue or another? And why do people that just want to discuss this or that have to hide who they are?

A UFO researcher, podcast host, or
Luis Elizondo. Gets hard to tell which.
If you consider yourself a researcher and you're not willing to post your identity at an online venue, maybe you shouldn't be dabbling at that venue. Maybe it's more than you bargained for and you should give that more consideration. What does someone honestly think yet another anonymous voice can functionally contribute to this mess in a research capacity? If they feel their employment, community status, or similar circumstance prohibits them from sharing who they are, there's a pretty good chance they shouldn't be mixing it up with spooks and sociopaths who congregate to UFO websites in the first place. 

Moreover, screennames and hidden identities stand in direct contradiction to the very research process certain individuals and venues claim to pursue. In my personal experience, I considered publishing my real name to be part of making the decision to launch this blog in 2010. I did not see how I could undertake the things I intended to do without offering such a show of good faith. There are exceptions to what I have described here, but they are not the rule, and they certainly do not apply to people operating god only knows how many accounts to hide behind across multiple websites. We should all be sincere enough to differentiate between the spirit of rules and their intentional misuse and exploitation.

The bottom line is aspects of the UFO research community have largely paralyzed themselves again, as has always been the case. The means and technologies evolve, but self-styled reporters frequently find ways to waste time and attention instead of presenting meaningful material. That's no coincidence. It's likely in some instances by design and intentional manipulation, often to distract you from the fact promises of forthcoming revelations and claims of paradigm-shifting knowledge remain so utterly unfulfilled and empty. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Debate or Advocacy?

     There are different kinds of arguments. Some have the potential for resolution while others do not. 

Arguing opinions provides opportunities to express ourselves and widen our horizons through the consideration of perspectives held by others. Often, however, debating opinions that contradict one another does not result in any type of resolution, particularly pertaining to circumstances surrounding UFOs. It just goes in circles, as has been the case since the dawn of the modern UFO era.

Maj. Donald Keyhoe, a UFO advocate who
presented himself as an objective researcher
In contrast, the inventorying of facts during a debate stands to resolve the accuracy or inaccuracy of any given point presented. Arguing facts offers resolution; arguing opinions does not. Arguing with people who do not demonstrate a knowledge of the difference, whether out of simple ignorance or bad faith, is an exercise in futility. Whatever their motives, they are advocating rather than sincerely seeking information to support or refute any given point.

It has been aptly observed that people often think they are objective, whether or not that is the case. A symptom of bias can be not knowing we're biased. 

Other times, people seem much less sincere. Not everyone you offer facts is interested in resolution and arriving at a fact-based conclusion. They may be more motivated to promote a preconceived agenda.

A rational conclusion simply cannot be reached if parties involved in a discussion do not recognize and respect standards of evidence. If we don't agree on how facts are established or what they are, we cannot jointly determine what facts indicate. We are destined to hold conflicting opinions and conclusions.

Perhaps one individual is thoroughly convinced adequate evidence has been presented to determine UFOs are material craft piloted by a non-human intelligence in at least some instances. They base this judgement on what they feel is an overwhelming amount of evidence, much of it put forth by scientists with impressive credentials.

Someone may challenge their point of view, asserting the conclusion is not supported by facts. Such facts, they argue, indicate those scientists with impressive credentials talk a lot but do not actually present any work that can be peer reviewed to the extent of supporting their often sensational interpretations; decades of extraordinary stories may be evidence but not good evidence; and blurry videos does not a non-human intelligence make.

The first individual thinks they are arguing facts that the second party refuses to recognize, while the latter understands they are respecting universally recognized standards of evidence. One is presenting their opinion as fact, for whatever reasons may motivate them to do so. There is little chance of resolving the argument.

A talented songwriter once observed, "It takes a lot to change your plans and a train to change your mind." In UFO circles, it often takes a whole lot more than a train. Pack a lunch or, better yet, choose your battles wisely.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Reporters Say They Were 'Purposely Misled' About AATIP

    Bryan Bender, Senior National Correspondent at Politico covering defense who was one of the reporters credited with breaking the AATIP story in December 2017, recently stated on Twitter he was "purposely misled" about the project. "I was misled early on on what AATIP was and wasn't," Bender wrote:  


Bender specifically referenced the controversial Luis Elizondo in his series of tweets, adding, "No one is clean in this and been fully transparent or truthful. No one.":

Parts of the AATIP story got buried, Bender suggested in a series of tweets, "because they were afraid it would be perceived as an utter waste of taxpayer money." Bender then referenced the Robert Bigelow connection to the late Sen. Harry Reid, adding, "It was a pork project to investigate voodoo that morphed into UFOs."

"Without the Nimitz case and the video they would have had little but ghost stories and campfire ghouls to show for it," Bender added.

But that's not always the way the Politico correspondent framed the so-called government UFO project as media outlets saturated the nation with the related fantastic stories. In the past Bender typically defended how he vetted AATIP information and vouched for figures such as self-proclaimed AATIP director Luis Elizondo, going as far as to guest on Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation. The cable program was considered by many to be sensational and lacking, at least if intended to be taken seriously, as Robert Sheaffer observed when he documented how an Italian case of a known hoax was presented as legitimately mysterious by Elizondo and his supporting cast.

"They make statements and gaffes that betray complete ignorance of what has occurred before them in UFOlogy," Sheaffer wrote, "yet they bluff their way to convincing gullible reporters for major news organizations to take what they say very seriously." Sheaffer further observed that Bender made multiple appearances on the Unidentified show to explain "how significant and wonderful everything is that TTSA is doing."

Concerns about Bender's objectivity and handling of the story were common. In a 2019 post at The UFO Trail, it was suggested Bender's rationalizations about difficulty in confirming Elzondo's assertions did not justify reporting his claims as fact. "It arguably makes it all the more apparent not to report them as fact," the post continued. 

Bryan Bender did not immediately respond to an April 25 email. He was offered an opportunity to comment for inclusion in this blogpost on the statements portrayed in his recent tweets. 

Edit: The following comments were received from Bryan Bender in two April 27 emails after this post was published:

Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner. Just a busy week. Elizondo and Mellon purposely buried AAWSAP when they went public in 2017. It was a huge part of the story purposely left out. But your piece suggests I don’t think they are credible experts anymore. That is just false. They made a strategic decision not to bring AAWSAP and Skinwalker into the story. I have discussed this with them numerous times and their view was that it would muddle their message on UAPs and the successor AATIP program that Elizondo oversaw. And it probably would have. Moreover, the AAWSAP players, particularly Lacatski, refused to talk back then. I tried repeatedly to get his view on this in the early days. 

And on the question of Elizondo and Mellon’s credibility, any informed observer knows that they have played a huge role in bringing the debate about UAPs to the fore and are still a major influence in ensuring Congress — and the public — get more answers from the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.

Perhaps Mr. Bender should be reminded it was his tweets that suggested he was misled and that Elizondo had not been fully transparent. If he continues to consider those to be attributes of credible expert sources, that might be considered part of the problem.

Journalist Steven Greenstreet, who also covered the AATIP story, stated in a tweet to Bender that he too was purposely misled. "I definitely put too much faith in some of the main 'knowledgeable' sources," Greenstreet added:

Greenstreet is well known on "ufotwitter" due to his multimedia coverage of the evolving AATIP story since it surfaced. His work included co-authoring a New York Post article in which Luis Elizondo expressed his now familiar claims of widespread UFO sightings and subsequent cover-ups.

Greenstreet was also credited with a 2019 story destined for controversy when Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood was quoted on various UAP matters. The article suggested the Pentagon was admitting it investigates UFOs. However, diligent researchers followed up on the Sherwood statement, sought it in full, and subsequently identified that Sherwood made additional remarks unsupportive of Elizondo's claims and omitted from the article: "Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP," Sherwood stated on behalf of the Pentagon. 

In an April 26 exchange conducted via direct messages on Twitter, in which Greenstreet was offered an opportunity to comment, he indicated he authored a follow-up story on the piece containing the Sherwood statement, adding, "I spent 2 weeks writing the story. It was never published."

"If you wish to read more about how I worked on the story regarding the Sherwood statement, my emails with Mr. Sherwood during this time were released via FOIA to John Greenewald:

"21-F-0946.pdf (theblackvault.com)"

Steven Greenstreet provided the following statement concerning his recent tweet that he was purposely misled about the AATIP:

    Last year, after having personally ridden the UFO bandwagon for 2 years, I asked myself "What if I'm wrong?". I went back and retraced "the evidence" again. Every document, every news story and every on-record statement from the main players in the current UFO story. I quickly realized "the evidence" was not as solid as the majority of the mainstream media, including myself, had portrayed it. A combination of new documented evidence that I have acquired and uncomfortable conversations with key players that I was privy to led me to believe that I was being deceived. I plan to be more specific regarding what I discovered in the weeks to come. I've since spent the last year preparing new episodes of "The Basement Office" in which I essentially start over and confess, "I was wrong".

Luis Elizondo maintains he directed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The claim and its lack of cohesive narrative has been called into question, as has Elizondo's tendencies to be long on sensational stories and short on producing verifying evidence. Critics argue reasonable people should expect to be required to substantiate their assertions, particularly those that involve UAP-related injuries and "positive" brain changes, such as Elizondo uses the UFO circuit to describe. 

His followers remain unfazed by the criticism and gaps in verifiable information. They are convinced Elizondo is leading a push to the coveted government disclosure of UFO truth, an obsessively - if not a futilely - sought prize in which ends are often believed to justify means within the uncompromising demographic. 

Luis Elizondo was offered an opportunity in an April 26 email to comment for inclusion in this blogpost on the positions of Bryan Bender and Steven Greenstreet, as reflected in their recent tweets, that they were purposely misled about the AATIP. Elizondo did not immediately respond. He has yet to reply to this writer's multiple attempts on several separate occasions to obtain comment on salient issues.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Show People, Don't Tell People

     Let's do an exercise. I'll describe some types of people in the UFO fray, and then we'll decide whose personal statements out of the group should be accepted as fact. Whose statements of the following can we rely on to be factual?

The Intelligence Official

    They were a longtime employee of the federal government and climbed their way to a position of responsibility in an intelligence agency. They were issued a security clearance and it's a given they were read into various classified projects as a condition of employment. They now frequently speak publicly about their knowledge of the presence of a non-human intelligence. 

The Experiencer

    They published their full name and regularly field questions about them self. Widely considered an alien abductee, they have rehashed their story for decades. They continue to report being plagued by baffling events in their day-to-day life.

The Scientist

    A qualified expert in their field, this person earned two PhDs and a Masters. They enjoy talking about their work and explain in interviews how a non-human intelligence was observed during research projects in which they participated. They show a willingness to risk professional status and reputation to defend their position and describe seemingly anomalous events they saw take place.

The Civilian Investigator

    This person puts boots on the ground and diligently collects statements from those who report UFOs. They study case files, are well read, and do popular presentations. They have authored several books, do a weekly podcast, and are consistently a favorite at UFO conferences, for reasons including they describe the people they meet and cases they investigate.

The Journalist

    The UFO journalist is an award-winning writer and reporter. They are well connected and so entrenched in their stories they participate in third party interviews along with the subjects of their investigations, who are often intelligence officials and scientists. They frequently explain to the public what they have learned from their many contacts about the fascinating subject matter at the center of the otherwise private and classified activities.

Conclusion

    Question: So, which of the people described above may we accept their personal statements as fact?   

Answer: None of them.

Or anybody else, for that matter, without corroborating evidence. As has been aptly stated by others, "Show people, don't tell people."

The clinical work of memory experts such as Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Dr. Julia Shaw confirm witness testimony is the least reliable form of evidence. Basically, when it comes to narrating the past, we often don't know what the hell we're talking about.

This doesn't mean we're always wrong about things. Neither does it mean people are always lying or intentionally deceptive.

What it does mean is universal standards of evidence recognized by the professional research community stipulate unsupported claims are not taken into evidence as facts, no matter who they're from. Not when someone appeals to authority, not when someone says others will vouch for them, not when someone promises proof is coming later. We may believe what we choose, or speculate as we wish, but if we are asserting something as fact, or claiming we are framing the assertion in a scientific context, we must provide adequate verification for it to qualify. 

A salient point: Although ufology has long claimed to want wider acceptance from the scientific community, it often fails to conduct its affairs in a way that would facilitate that acceptance. Not always, but often. If ya don't want in, don't ask for an invitation. And if ya ask for an invitation, act like you are actually willing to conform to the guidelines of the scientific community into which you sought entry. Otherwise, it's subject to be viewed as the same ol' disingenuous ploys charlatans have used for centuries to try to dress up unscientific activities as scientific study in order to gain otherwise unearned credibility.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The UFO Injury Study That Wasn't

    Due to the considerable length of this post, it is available in pdf for those who might prefer to store and read it in another medium. Thank you to the many people who contributed valuable insight, assistance, and comment during the creation of this blogpost.


    Longtime staple of the UFO subculture and author of a paper submitted to the AAWSAP, Dr. Kit Green, indicated during an April 6 telephone call he believes cases reviewed in his injury study did not represent people harmed by paranormal or extraterrestrial phenomena, but by human beings. "The perpetrators - in my judgment - are human," Green stated. 

Dr. Kit Green
Even as tabloids ran with clickbait headlines and Luis Elizondo took to FOX News to oblige Tucker Carlson's misrepresentations of the AAWSAP and the context of Green's paper, the forensic physician suggested no hocus pocus is required to account for patients he believes suffered injuries after encountering strange flying objects. "I don't think it's a guy with slanty eyes from far, far away in his shape-shifting universe," Green explained during the call. "I think these are human technologies."

Dr. Christopher "Kit" Green is well known among those with an eye to the UFO genre for reasons including his work with the CIA and corporations controlled by Robert Bigelow. In approximately 2010 he provided a paper to Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies for inclusion in the Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Application Program. The AAWSAP contract was awarded to BAASS by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Green's paper, one of some 38 collected by BAASS at the time, is titled Anomalous Acute and Subacute Field Effects on Human Biological Tissues

The paper attempts to summarize evidence of injury to human observers by "anomalous advanced aerospace systems," and argues the possibility such systems can be reverse engineered through clinical diagnosis of the injured observers. The paper was recently included among a batch of documents released by the DIA in response to FOIA requests but is not entirely new to those closely following the saga. 

The newfound attention propelled the paper to be mischaracterized rather far and wide, misrepresented as portraying DIA official conclusions that people were seriously injured during otherworldly UFO encounters. In actuality, the paper was authored by a consultant who unequivocally stated during the April 6 phone call he absolutely believes the cases he studied are indicative of human technology. Moreover, Green stated he is working on hypothesis generation and suggested an applicable hypothesis has not yet been adequately tested, much less that a conclusion has been scientifically established.

"I don't talk about this as if we had scientific data. I've got clinical data for each individual," Green stated.   

Green's interpretations should be subjected to the same rigors of fact-checking as those of any other scientist. However, the point remains that not only were the circumstances wholesale misrepresented, but the shock and awe strategy used by media outlets - and those from which they sought comment, such as Luis Elizondo - does not even reflect the author's actual current position. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. 

While any number of aspects of the present UFO scene are worthy of examination, the focus of this piece is injury studies related to reported unusual phenomena, such as UFOs and alleged encounters. The more I was hearing about people - doctors, CIA officers, and writers - carrying on about injury studies, the more I wanted to nail down specifics. A seeming overload of podcasts and interviews were emerging with an abundance of ambiguous statements about brain changes, blood samples, and similar buzz words that suggested medical exams were conducted. 

This was the type of material addressed in Dr. Green's paper, and I was already scheduled to speak with him about the paper and related issues when tabloids and media outlets picked up the story. This blogpost actually began percolating quite some time ago. I eventually put together a list of people to contact, and Green happened to be next up when his paper got launched into the tabloid spotlight. 

Those familiar with evolving tales surrounding Skinwalker Ranch and Bigelow associates have long heard various bits and pieces of information suggesting such studies occurred. More recently, however, it seemed to be a particular talking point making the rounds on the UFO podcast and interview circuit.

The Talk

    The never-short-on-claims Luis Elizondo is an example of seemingly promoting the injury study message and, more to the point, extraordinary yet unsubstantiated alleged physiological conditions. Elizondo asserted during a March 22 discussion with the chronically dubious Linda Moulton Howe that pilots coming in close contact with UFOs suffered brain damage and radiation burns. 

In other cases Elizondo described as UFOs causing positive effects on people, he asserted some individuals developed artistic abilities, such as being able to play the piano although never having a lesson. Others developed extrasensory perception, or ESP, he said. We might indeed question how that was established, as certifying ESP would arguably be a bigger deal than identifying the alleged origin of the ability (some cart and horse stuff going on there). This is just one public appearance of many in which Elizondo uses the UFO interview circuit to describe extraordinary occurrences while neglecting to provide adequate verification for his claims.

Dr. Colm Kelleher and George Knapp continued their alliance during a February 3 YouTube appearance. Their statements consisted of tales of the hitchhiker effect, an upright wolf running down the street, and the now standard assortment of supernatural subject lines. In the comment section of the video, the host of the proceedings shared an apparent email exchange with Kelleher, in which the doctor addressed AAWSAP and the hitchhiker effect, and recommended an article on the DIA-awarded program:


The recommended link connects to an article on a site questionably titled Liberation Times which shows a fondness for credulous stories. UFO Disclosure and its champions are heavily featured. Actually, that's the only thing Liberation Times covers. The particular article in question linked by Kelleher asserts the AAWSAP found that there may be immediate and long-term side-effects to UAP encounters.

This all rather clearly circled back to a 2018 statement published at 8 News Now and issued by an unnamed senior manager at BAASS. It should be noted the website, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, is host to George Knapp, and some suspected the unnamed BAASS senior manager to be Colm Kelleher. 

As the AAWSAP was becoming evermore established in the eyes of the public as a so-called Pentagon UFO program by figures such as Knapp, Kelleher, and Elizondo, the BAASS statement was issued at Channel 8. It asserted the human body was viewed as a readout system through forensic technology, immunology, cell biology, genomics and neuroanatomy:


A number of questions should arise. Answers would prove to be few, far between, and nonexistent. 

The obvious implication of all the chatter was encounters with UFOs and unusual phenomena were altering people physiologically in a variety of measurable ways. Sensational claims were many and details were few. Frankly, I heard so much meaningless talk that it was not until the topic got stepped up in recent months I decided to locate what facts could be found.

The above examples are just a few of the many instances in which seeming insiders describe medical documentation of what they purport to be physiological changes resulting from encounters with UFOs or unusual phenomena. We will explore the surrounding circumstances in further detail in the forthcoming sections of this post. 

Jim Semivan

    In an interview conducted earlier this year, Jim Semivan described an encounter he and his wife had with an entity in their bedroom. The experience reportedly led to their eventual interaction with "a group" conducting apparent medical procedures. The interview was done by none other than George Knapp, and Semivan twice indicated Knapp is aware of the group.

"A group you know," Semivan told Knapp and the Coast to Coast AM audience.

James "Jim" Semivan is credited as a co-founder of To The Stars. He is described on the website as a 25-year Operations Officer for the CIA Directorate of Operations and a recipient of the Agency's Career Intelligence Medal. 

Over the course of the interview Semivan stated the entity encounter happened in probably 1991 or 1992, but he's not sure the exact year. However, he said that the day after it happened, he was speaking to a CIA "deep cover guy" who was planning to soon attend a UFO convention in Virginia Beach. Semivan shared his experience from the night before with the man, who recommended he read Vallee.

"That started everything for me with that," Semivan remarked.

In what Semivan estimated to be 2014 or 2015 he was interviewed by longtime Bigelow associate, intelligence officer, and non-lethal weapons expert John Alexander, for what are not entirely clear reasons, and Semivan told Alexander about the encounter. The next thing he knew, he was being visited by the group Knapp knows. They "took my blood and did everything else," Semivan said, but, as far as describing the circumstances more clearly, opted to "leave it at that." He stated he and his wife are still being studied and "looked at" by a group.

It is for such reasons Jim Semivan made my list of people to contact. I had a number of questions that did not seem to be of much importance to George Knapp.

Who are these people? How did the group initially make contact? Did he question exactly how he came to their attention? 

I had many more questions. Who funds the group? What kind of consent forms and documentation of his participation in the study have they provided?

Walk me through how a CIA officer goes from seeing an entity in his bedroom to having his blood drawn. Did he tell a supervisor? Exactly what happened? 

Am I to understand some 25 years passed between the early 1990s perceived encounter and the time he was first visited by a group wanting to collect samples? One might wonder about that.

If he has been urged not to discuss the group, why? And if he can't talk about it, why is he talking about it? ...on Coast to Coast AM, no less? 

And let's not forget the brick lobbed into the pond about the undercover guy headed to a UFO conference. Was that official CIA business, as in part of the guy's cover, or in a recreational capacity? And if the latter, does the Agency not have a policy on deep cover personnel mingling at UFO conferences and similar such social events? One would suppose undercover officers wouldn't make a habit of recreationally joining special interest fringe groups if not part of the manufactured identity and if it was in contradiction to the assumed role being cultivated.

In a brief series of email exchanges, Jim Semivan explained he wasn't going to talk to me further about the apparent medical study group. To his credit, that's more than can be said for Eric Davis, Colm Kelleher, and Garry Nolan, each of which did not respond to emails requesting a few minutes of their time that, I might add, they regularly invest in podcasts all over hell's acres talking about such issues as the topic at hand. 

In response to my email expressing a desire to learn more about a group mentioned during his Coast to Coast appearance which was conducting a study of those experiencing what we might call personal encounters, Semivan replied in a February 28 email, "For a variety of reasons, I cannot discuss any of the details regarding this study. Most of it is restricted for privacy reasons and the people who oversee it are generally not happy when it is mentioned. I probably should not have referenced it during my C2C talk but it was late.... I suspect that one day there will be a paper written or a talk given on this subject but that will not be my call. I am sorry that I can't be of any help to you on this matter." 

Was there anything further he could add to his mention of a CIA asset attending a UFO conference in the wake of his experience?

Not really, Semivan replied, adding, "John Ramirez, my buddy from the CIA, has more to say on all of this."

Does he find the public statements of Mr. Ramirez to be credible?

"I have the utmost respect for John," Semivan wrote. "I did not know him well during my time at CIA, but I do know he was a top flight analyst with a very solid reputation. He retired as a senior GS-15 (the equivalent of a full colonel). He was also awarded the Career Intelligence Medal when he retired. No small feat. So yes, I do find him credible."

Suffice it to say there are researchers who don't. John Ramirez reportedly worked for the CIA in various capacities from approximately 1984 to 2009. As of this writing, his Twitter profile states he is an experiencer from childhood who was "taken and implanted." In a December 2021 interview he asserted the existence of an extraterrestrial-human hybrid breeding program has been confirmed since World War II. He further stated during the interview the CIA has knowledge the human race is the result of a genetically engineered mix of ET and primate DNA. This is par for the course for Mr. Ramirez.

I'm reminded of the time I asked Col. John Alexander what he thought of extreme things said by Gen. Bert Stubblebine, with whom he worked. The late general, along with his wife Dr. Rima Laibow, an advocate of hypnotizing alleged alien abductees, asserted in 2008 they were revealing such damaging information that the powers that be made an attempt on her life. In 2013 the couple reported that "The Big Plan" was a scheme undertaken by the global elite to eliminate 90 percent of the population and enslave the rest through vaccines, chemtrails, and electronic low frequency radio waves (ELFs). There's much more, but I'll leave it at that. John Alexander replied Stubblebine was his boss and he doesn't know why he said the things he said. That makes two of us, colonel, that makes two of us.

What's clear enough is John Ramirez numbers among those who feel no obligation to provide verification for extraordinary claims. At any rate, I was intent on keeping the injury study squarely in my sights, so I opted against heading out into the hybrid weeds with John Ramirez. Maybe another day. 

There is one more point that arose with Jim Semivan: The vast majority of people reporting him to be a retired CIA officer probably do not know that to be fact.

It came to my attention Semivan's Linked In profile does not state he worked 25 years for the CIA, but the Government Accountability Office, from 1982 to 2007. As of this writing:


I emailed Semivan, explaining I was having difficulty verifying his CIA employment for this blogpost and inquiring if there was any particular reason he would not cite the CIA as his employer at Linked In. In a March 14 email, he responded:
 

    First, thanks for pointing out the GAO emblem... I have no idea how it got there. But I will change it. When I first joined Linked In, like many former CIA employees, I did not want my previous CIA affiliation known to the general public. Foreign Intelligence Services, among others, collect that data and I simply did not want to be on another list. Obviously with my public statements of late, that has all changed. I may change the designation in the future. After 25 years of hiding my affiliation, it is still hard for me to say "CIA" out loud.

As for verifying my CIA employment, you will just have to take my word and the word of many others in the community who know me and have not protested publicly that I am portraying myself as someone I am not. Not sure if you call the CIA they will verify my employment.

I continued to have some questions about all that. I inquired to CIA Public Affairs but did not really expect a response. I did, however, submit a FOIA request to CIA for a publicly available list of unclassified or already declassified recipients of the Career Intelligence Medal from 2005 to 2010. Such a list might further validate the employment of John Ramirez as well. The FOIA request remains pending at this time.

I reached out to the Government Accountability Office. A series of phone calls and emails resulted in a March 25 call from John Travett who identified himself as being with the GAO. He subsequently informed me he was unable to either verify or refute Semivan's employment from 1982 to 2007. Mr. Travett indicated in order to do so he would prefer I have the social security number of the person in question, and added he would rather be presented some type of release from the parties involved as well.

People in the circles of To The Stars may very well know Jim Semivan worked for the CIA, as they have been promoting and discussing high and low for years now. I nonetheless think the point is relevant that scores of podcasters and writers who present him as a retired CIA officer apparently do not know that to be correct. As Semivan suggested himself in his March 14 email, they just take his word for it.

There's a salient point to be made here about the entire UFO scene. You have either verified something or you haven't. It starts and ends with standards of evidence. If you compromise the extent you are committed to fact-checking from the very outset of an interaction with someone, it is reasonable to question what other "facts" get compromised along the way in pursuit of YouTube viewers and website hits.  

By this point I had spent time looking closely at statements made by Dr. Garry Nolan. In the next section we will explore some of those statements, and concerns I would have addressed with him had he given me the opportunity.

Dr. Garry Nolan

    Dr. Garry Nolan is a Professor of Pathology at Stanford University. He has also become a go-to guy in the UFO scene due to his professional qualifications and involvement in such storylines as the Starchild Skull, the Atacama humanoid, and the not-so anonymous characters portrayed in Dr. Diana Pasulka's American Cosmic.

In a December 2021 Vice interview, Nolan described how such activities brought him to the attention of "some people associated with the CIA and some aeronautics corporations." Some "people" just showed up unannounced at his office one day, enrolling him to do blood analysis and review brain scans associated with cases of individuals who had reportedly "gotten close to supposed UAPs and the fields generated by them." 

Nolan indicated he was not at liberty to disclose who those people were or what departments of government they represent. Okay, I have some problems with where this is headed.

For starters, let's be clear: If you are approached by members of the intelligence community, you are under no obligation to secrecy. They're the ones with the security oaths and security classifications, not you, unless, of course, you actually are issued some kind of clearance or sign some type of non-disclosure agreement, as often discussed surrounding Bigelow associates. If that's the case, perhaps it should be questioned why you're talking to Vice about things you can't talk about.

Secondly, there's a history here. In 2019, Nolan and Pasulka were involved in a rather sensational series of claims that "security personnel" were censoring Pasulka's statements made during podcast appearances. Neither chose to elaborate on the circumstances, which revolved around Nolan's then-anonymous involvement with purportedly retrieving saucer crash debris from a location the two rather inexplicably still fail to further report. Suffice it to say I found the behavior particularly unimpressive from academics and much more of the problem than the solution in UFO circles. Another unclaimed Nobel. 

I'm less awed by Nolan's cloak and dagger stories than others might be. I have some doubts about his interpretations of security issues, and I'd require further explanations and documentation to more fully accept the ways he frames them. Just because you might not want to give someone a straight answer doesn't necessarily mean you're bound to secrecy by a security oath, whether or not you have been issued clearance. 

Nolan went on to explain to Vice that cases such as presented to him get filed at the "weird desk" by the Department of Defense. Enough people were having very bad things happen to them, the doctor continued, that it came to the attention of Dr. Kit Green.

Some of the patients reported seeing UAP. Some of their brains were "horribly, horribly damaged." One of the cases was from Skinwalker Ranch, Nolan explained.

"Given how deep into their brain the damage went," he continued about the Skinwalker case, "we can actually estimate the amount of energy required in the electromagnetic wave someone aimed at them. We don't think that has anything to do with UAPs. We think that that's some sort of a state actor and again related to Havana syndrome somehow."

It was not entirely clear how, exactly, one differentiates between the controversial Havana Syndrome cases and encounters with other unusual reported phenomena, such as UAP or paranormal-type perceptions. Perhaps witness narrations play significant roles in categorizing cases, leading to issues of verifying such claims, establishing causality, and lag time between reported events and medical examinations. The further I delved into this, the more apparent it became there were a wide variety of cases and circumstances. It could indeed be questioned how scientists establish any given reported UFO sighting directly resulted in an injury, and how successfully it would be expected to pass peer review. 

One might of course also wonder why a state actor would be concerned with someone at Skinwalker Ranch. The means to execute such an attack should also be questioned, as should specific details of the entire investigation prior to drawing conclusions. How, exactly, does Nolan know "someone aimed" an electromagnetic wave, or anything else, at the individual?

It was also suggested some cases involved high-functioning people, such as pilots who make split second decisions and intelligence officers in the field. This is a theme that runs through the interviews of Nolan and some others claiming to be familiar with the studies. The general idea put forth is experiencers may have some type of unusually advanced brain functions, enhanced by their encounters, if not attributable to such encounters, and observable through select procedures such as brain scans. 

Pasulka was quoted around the UFO e-scene as confirming Nolan was "James" in American Cosmic. This was already widely and strongly suspected, and Nolan seemingly confirmed it with a Twitter "wink": 


"James" is portrayed in Pasulka's book as considering himself an experiencer, describing bedroom encounters as a child and various events throughout his life, including the strong suspicion family members experienced encounters as well. This culminated in reading John Mack's Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, which Pasulka suggested "James" found revelational and described as the story of his life. 

I point this out because in Nolan's interviews he frequently describes the high-level functioning of the patients he identifies as having certain brain conditions, and at times remarks the condition is present in his family. It therefore seems noteworthy Nolan's endeavors, framed as scientific study, in no small way seem to also represent a personal journey of potential validation and self-discovery.

Nolan spent significant amounts of time discussing such circumstances publicly. Interviews are abundant. In a February YouTube appearance, indicative of several others, Nolan said people from the government who said they were associated with the CIA approached him about injury studies.

Asked if his resulting work took place under AATIP or AAWSAP, Nolan said he doesn't know. He doesn't pay attention to acronyms, he said.

Regarding Havana Syndrome and UAP, Nolan said people "have gotten pretty confused about the whole thing." It was not clear how confident Nolan's colleagues may or may not be in the methods used to categorize cases and differentiate between Havana and UFOs.

A lot of the cases ended up being Havana, Nolan explained, and the patients had no "experiences," adding, "By chance we threw in a couple of Remote Viewers just because we had their MRIs for other reasons."

What reasons would that be? Potential explanations are found in Annie Jacobsen's Phenomena, as explored by Keith Basterfield:    

    "We are also mapping [DNA and immune systems in] people and their families who claims to be remote viewers or have anomalous perception," Nolan confirms. For example, Joe McMoneagle is part of their research program; he provided them with a sample of his DNA, and the team is considering how to access the DNA of his sister, who was also allegedly a remote viewer, says Nolan. "Whether real, perceived or illusion, there appears to be a genetic determinant." And while Dr. Green maintains that his patients' injuries may have come from high energy devices or their components, both Green and Nolan think there is more to it than that. "Some people [seem to] repeatedly attract the phenomena or the experiences," Nolan says. "They act like an antenna or are like lighthouses in the dark."

Once again, causality rears its ugly head. And is Dr. Nolan suggesting there may be a genetic determinant in a person believing they are a Remote Viewer, or actually being a Remote Viewer? Like, hasn't the Remote Viewing crew been teaching workshops and courses for decades? Are there measurable results? Data that can be conclusively established to be related to either RV results or beliefs of results? What do other scientists think about this? One might have a difficult time envisioning how this would be received favorably in peer review absent a lot of refining. 

And the antenna effect. How strongly do Nolan and his fellow investigators feel their deductions are correct and will withstand additional examination? It would seem this would require extensive research, much more than a case study of a couple family members, as well as the addition of control groups. 

A concern here is such speculation is taken to heart by many, even if the scientists themselves label it innocent spitballing. The public succumbs to beliefs cultivated by a hype-driven media saturating it in fantastic, even if yet to be executed, lines of research.

In the above linked YouTube appearance, Nolan referenced a paper submitted with Dr. Green. Hopefully relevant questions and issues will be adequately addressed which are thus far omitted.

During the same interview, and much to his credit, Nolan emphasized the significance of obtaining blood samples in timely manners if they are to be of relevance in exploring reported incidents. Similarly, the doctor discussed the so-called hitchhiker effect, but says it has not yet been tracked, unlike other investigators and reporters much more willing to try to prematurely assign it validity.

The Ranch

Nolan mentioned he has been invited to Skinwalker Ranch but has never visited. He did not say who invited him or give a timeframe of when he was invited. He sees no compelling reason to be a tourist at the ranch.

Nolan resisted negative assessments he saw expressed on Twitter about Avi Loeb and the Galileo Project, perceived by some as rounding up all the same old credulous UFO personalities as have been blowing smoke for years. He specifically denied Jacques Vallee, Luis Elizondo, Chris Mellon, and he are "true believers," adding, "We are all looking for evidence." 

They may well be looking for evidence, but the lack of reliability of some of the material they promote is perhaps a more significant issue than belief or intention. Much of it is simply unreliable, if not demonstrably incorrect. An argument could be competently made those referenced should be substantially more careful when addressing the public about UFOs and particularly if framing it as science-based material.

In another February YouTube appearance Nolan again discussed injury study, saying it started with a cohort of individuals' information brought to him. Most were Havana Syndrome, so "it's somebody else's problem now," not his, whatever that means exactly. He also said some 200 cases that you can just download off databases online were reviewed and contributed to his studies.

Vallee was working behind the scenes with people who were employed with the government that turned out to be Havana Syndrome cases, Nolan suggested. Specifics of that are not clear, such as exactly what kind of work Vallee was doing and what the qualifications for it were. It should be noted a recurring theme from one interview and individual to another is the cases examined by doctors such as Kit Green involved military and government personnel, presumably intelligence officers in at least some instances.

Nolan said he has spent some $70,000 of his own money on his research, but this seemed to be in the context of testing alleged UFO debris, not the injury cases. He added millions are needed to do proper, thorough testing, and said Avi Loeb needs some $50 million for work envisioned.

The interviewer asked if Nolan thinks a government is in possession of something of extraterrestrial origin that is far more impressive than anything we've seen in the public, to which the doctor replied, "I've not seen anything personally, but if I believe the people who I don't think can lie, yes." 

The people who can't lie? I'm not even going to comment on that.

"I won't touch a skeleton ever again," Nolan stated, presumably alluding to complications that arose over the Atacama specimen. After collaborating with Dr. Steven Greer, who maintained a mummified tiny body was an extraterrestrial, a paper was later published by Nolan and Stanford researchers. They did not propose the specimen was an alien, opting instead to argue genetic abnormalities could explain perceived abnormal characteristics of the human skeleton of the specimen.

Other researchers argued there was no scientific rationale to undertake genomic analysis because the skeleton was normal. Moreover, the ethics of the handling of the specimen were called into question. Some scientists protested the research. By that point, people in fringe circles all too well knew the widely publicized photos to have been touted as an alien, or, at the least, some kind of miniature humanoid. The scientific community wasn't buying either, and it questioned the ethics of the entire undertaking. 

A point here is not just the importance of ethics and research integrity, but those who steer news cycles are often much more interested in sensational stories than correcting the record after the fact. It could be considered concerning when academics and scientists eagerly promote sensational speculation through the many podcasts and media outlets willing to court them, but the public is much less exposed to the actual eventual scientific findings, resulting papers, and informed debate when those speculations are rejected. People watching YouTube UFO videos and reading Liberation Times are typically not examining scientific papers or even FOIA documents. 

A percentage of people already believed someone found a dead alien in the Chilean desert, based on hundreds of video, website, and print messages to that effect, and they're not changing their minds over a handful of articles on the problematic aspects of the research, even if they happen to see one. Similar can be said for the Starchild Skull, and the cycle may very well repeat itself through stories of miraculous overnight pianists emerging in the wake of a UFO sighting, regardless of what peer review panels say later about the papers submitted. People already saw it on FOX and YouTube. One of the more significant aspects of the unfolding injury study and AAWSAP saga, however, as compared to garden variety UFO credulousness and media coverage, is the United States federal government had a stake in the evolving plotlines. That's the case whether it was duped about where its money went or something else was going on.  

Dr. Tyler Kokjohn

    To offer readers some perspective and keep a foot firmly planted in research fundamentals, I sought comments from a qualified scientist. Dr. Tyler Kokjohn is a microbiologist with a career of experience in medical research projects. Below are questions I posed, followed by his responses. 

When it comes to injury studies about reported UFO phenomena, what are some of the issues the public should keep in mind to assess the claims they hear from researchers?

    Dr. Kokjohn: The first thing I suggest in evaluating any injury claim is to be clear that correlations do not necessarily reveal causes. Unless the UFO induces some sort of unique structural damage or syndrome, ultimately proving how the observed damage came about will be challenging. These issues can be especially complex for situations involving neurological/behavioral damage in which a formal diagnosis may often hinge not on the presence of damage, but on the degree of damage. For example, with Alzheimer's disease dementia, patients harbor amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in their brains. However, the formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is made after a post mortem examination in which the density of amyloid plaques and tangles are enumerated. So, even though they are both linked to Alzheimer's disease, finding a few plaques and tangles does not automatically mean that particular patient died with Alzheimer's dementia. Even more fascinating, a subclass of subjects has been identified who never exhibited any signs of cognitive impairment in life, but on post mortem examination are found to harbor as many plaques and tangles as persons who did have Alzheimer's disease dementia. This condition and others like it are based on subtle distinctions in degree of damage. And sometimes even that rigorous characterization may not always offer clear answers.

Observational studies of brain structure also warrant some caveats. Scans are expensive and time-consuming, which often means study groups are small enough to wonder about their reliability when it comes to inferences about the presence of detectable damage and conclusions regarding things such as their impacts on function. The brain is dynamic and exhibits age-specific changes which complicates the assembly of valid comparison control groups. In addition, machines, protocols and software may vary. Perhaps the best way to look at some reports is as anecdotal case history accounts that demand further investigation, not as established facts or revelations.

Why are Institutional Review Boards and peer review important?

    Dr. Kokjohn: Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are an operational entity set up to ensure the rights, safety and well being of human research subjects. An IRB-approved plan is required before any work may commence. Investigators are required to provide the rationale and justification for the research, a plan of operation and to identify any foreseeable potential adverse events along with explanations as to how such issues will be mitigated if they arise. 

In addition to technical details, investigators are required to structure and conduct their investigations in ways that will safeguard subject privacy and confidentiality. Along with the research plans submitted to the IRB committee, investigators must create and include for advance approval written informed consent documents that explain the study to prospective participants, details any potential adverse events and risks of participation and informs them they have the right to cease participation at any time. The prospective participants must be able to understand these documents and sign them before enrollment. IRBs are a critical and independent check on investigators, put in place to ensure research involving human subjects is valid, will advance scientific understanding and performed as safely as possible. To my knowledge, all federally-funded researchers conducting experiments with human subjects must undergo an IRB approval process or be formally exempted from that requirement by the IRB chairperson.

Peer review is the prime quality assurance mechanism of scientific research. Publications and research grant proposals will have to sustain an examination by (usually) anonymous experts in the area who will certify the level of scientific significance, soundness of experimental design and data interpretations of the authors. To put it bluntly, the reviewers do not always agree with the authors. Often the peer review process is a give-and-take affair, with referees making suggestions or requiring changes with the investigator incorporating the alterations and re-submitting for another review. It is a time-consuming process and mainstream scientists will generally consider manuscripts published in a peer-reviewed journal to have a much higher level of significance and trustworthiness than those appearing in less scrutinized venues. 

Let's look at it the way a researcher might who is writing a proposal for funding. It is a lot of work and they generally have to be of high quality to win an award. If I was that person I would take care to present solid preliminary data from sources I know my reviewers will deem reputable, in other words, if I use anything from the published literature to build my case, I will use peer-reviewed journal sources. You need the reviewers to be enthused about your ideas, but if they look at your sources and deem them unreliable for purpose, you court disaster. The kiss of death would be for a reviewer to realize your key material came not from a peer-reviewed scientific journal, but a tabloid publication that often features Bat Boy on the cover. That Bat Boy content might be 100% accurate, but unless you provide your own preliminary data to back it up, I can predict confidently how my peers would react. No reasonable scientists would invest their time and effort producing work that is based on unreliable sources. No creditable journal or funding agency would accept such submissions. Garbage in, garbage out and in short order.

What kinds of challenges do you see in assessing the physiological characteristics of members of unique demographics, such as "experiencers" or Remote Viewers? How does a researcher identify who is and is not a member of such a demographic, and wouldn't there be inherent challenges to convincing peers the process was reliable?

    Dr. Kokjohn: Identifying persons falling into 'unique demographics' for study - The way a scientist might put this is 'what inclusion and exclusion criteria will I use to select my study groups?'. This is a crucial first step for any study, but for work involving subjects like experiencers or alleged remote viewers, this will be exceptionally challenging.

Think of this the way a peer reviewer might; UFO experiences come in a huge array of types and degree of interactions, how will I decide - explicitly - which qualify for study and which should be left out? However, there is an additional complication here that must be factored in. How many of the encounters are bona fide UFO interactions? General experience suggests many, perhaps a substantial majority, of reports are cases of misidentification of mundane events/phenomena. Unless the investigator has a reliable mechanism to weed out reporting errors, as a reviewer I would wonder whether it is possible to recognize a genuine signal camouflaged in a vastly greater amount of noise. If you are forced to winnow out a substantial fraction of events you face the dilemmas and potential errors imposed by small sample sizes. If the criterion is to include anyone with an abnormal finding, presumably caused by the UFO encounter, the investigator is making a classic error known commonly as begging the question. This is the simple situation. 

For a remote viewer, the controversy over the existence of this phenomenon will make matters far more difficult for the investigator. Failing some sort of means to prove the persons examined could successfully demonstrate remote viewing capabilities confirmable through repeatable and objective criteria, this appears, in my opinion, to pose an insurmountable problem. If the investigator attempts a workaround and simply declares the study group includes subjects with a claimed capacity to remote view, the question becomes one of degree. Presumably some subjects are better than others at this, how much better? And then how do you exclude that ability in your comparison control group? Being generous, maybe a lot of people have the capacity, but are never checked for it. Frankly, research based on unproven or extraordinarily difficult-to-assess phenomena like remote viewing or UFO encounters is unlikely to be reviewed favorably by mainstream scientists. My advice to anyone interested in pursuing such work would be to pick both your potential sponsors and reviewers very carefully. 

Dr. Kit Green

    It had become clear I should contact Dr. Green. I first studied his paper, Anomalous Acute and Subacute Field Effects on Human Biological Tissues. This was one of the 38 Defense Intelligence Reference Documents, or DIRDs, you may have heard about, collected by BAASS as part of the AAWSAP.

You should probably pretty much try to forget what you've heard about the paper if you haven't read it. It's probably wrong. The work has points that are competently challenged, but the media portrayal of it and the circumstances it represents are largely misleading. 

Neither Green's paper nor any of the DIRDs collected during the AAWSAP represent official statements or positions of the Defense Intelligence Agency or Department of Defense. They are theoretical papers, collected by Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies during its work on the Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Application Program. The AAWSAP contract was awarded by the DIA so, yes, if parties should be held responsible for what BAASS did with funds granted, the DIA and DOD are firmly on the hotseat, but, no, that does not mean those papers speak for the DOD. The manner BAASS represented its interpretations of project objectives compared to its subsequent selection of activities may also well deserve scrutiny. What's more, the DIA may have very much preferred a majority of AAWSAP material never reach the public to avoid embarrassment stemming from accountability issues. The fact will remain, however, the DIRDs associated with the AAWSAP simply do not reflect DOD official positions or findings as was widely suggested.

In the paper authored by Green, the forensic physician essentially argued UFOs can be reverse engineered by examining people who encounter such craft at close enough range and sustain injury:


The basic premise went like this, as I understand it: There is an abundance of material available on the effects on human and animal tissues of various transmissions of energy, such as microwaves and radiation. Sometimes such material is compiled in lab settings, while other times accidental exposure resulted in cases of injured people available for study. Green proposed the injuries sustained by people coming within a certain distance of unusual air vehicles could be compared to published studies and known cases consisting of similar injuries, thus determining likely types of energies and degrees of exposures involved in select anomalous events. Ultimately, he argued, the extent an otherwise elusive aerial vehicle could be reverse engineered through the process could be substantial.

You'll recall the BAASS senior management statement about viewing the human body as a readout system. I think this is some of what we're looking at here.

During the April 6 telephone call I asked Dr. Green if he still believes anomalous craft could be reverse engineered through injury study.

"Absolutely!" he responded without hesitation.

The material he referenced pertaining to effects of radiation on human beings is easy enough to cite, but not so much when it comes to qualifying someone as a UFO witness. Researchers such as Dr. Adam Kehoe recently took issue with some of the material cited by Green pertaining to alleged UFO cases, pointing out Green's footnotes ultimately lead to dubious sources. Cases referenced in Green's paper could be followed to such sources as the National Enquirer and Penthouse Magazine. 

A type of antenna array
One particular prominent case in the paper is portrayed as involving three antenna engineers and an "anomalous" aerospace-related incident, but upon checking the cited source, Kehoe explained, there is no flying object at all, anomalous or otherwise. The three were injured when they came too close to an emitter array.

Green told me he had not read the paper in years, and that he does not even have a copy. I nonetheless informed him how his citations were being challenged, and asked if he stands by them.

"I think that's absolutely excellent criticism," Green began. He then suggested he was merely analyzing the sources cited, not that he necessarily believes them.

"In my paper, I didn't think any of the stories were necessarily valid," he continued. If anyone said the MUFON database he cited was garbage, he'd be inclined to agree, yes, it was. He was citing the cases to narrow his demographic of study and eventually work directly with patients in which he could control the administration of such procedures as brain scans and blood collection when illness from radiation was suspected. He was not citing them as necessarily true stories, Green maintained.

"The argumentation of the paper doesn't match that," Kehoe observed during an April 7 telephone call.

"The structure of the paper," Kehoe continued, "is not just that some people claim these things. In fact, there are remarks to the effect that the fact these people have these injuries tells you that something happened." 

Kehoe, a software engineer quite familiar with Green's paper, referenced a point that stood out to him. He quoted Green from the paper, who wrote, "It is our contention that characteristics of the fields or mechanisms associated with close encounters with anomalous craft can even sometimes carefully be gleaned from archival records where effects on human physiology have been carefully reported."

"That raises the question of which archival records," Kehoe said. "Are those the MUFON records here?"

With anything you glean from such records, Kehoe continued, how can you determine a margin of error? "There is no mechanism in place to ever validate or control or check what you've done. You need that feedback."

"You've got a model," Kehoe explained, "it spits out a prediction and then you want to know, how good was the prediction? If you kind of have to shrug your shoulders in answering that question, you don't really have, well, anything."

I initially emailed Green and requested he speak with me a few minutes to discuss research involving medical examination of UFO witnesses and his AAWSAP paper. He responded favorably. During an ensuing email exchange about scheduling a time for the call, Green stipulated there were a few topics that were off limits. Those topics were anything whatsoever about the Skinwalker Ranch; Havana Syndrome; patient names; and his current work, classified or not, with the CIA. He indicated he was otherwise willing to discuss his investigations of "Experiencers who have been harmed" and the related circumstances about which I inquired. 

Over the course of the 75-minute conversation taking place by phone on April 6, Green unequivocally stated he believes human beings are responsible for producing the technology that ultimately injured patients in the cases he examined. I'd add that nowhere but UFO World would his position be considered controversial or outside the box, should such cases actually prove to be indicative of encounters with aerial vehicles as Green indicates he believes. 

"All I'm saying is I don't need alien spacecraft from another dimension to explain the injuries. That's all I'm saying," Green added. Never once, in the last 15 years of examining the cases, has he had to invent an extraterrestrial or an esoteric device to account for the injuries.

"So to be clear, what I'm hearing," I clarified, "is you have not ruled out the byproducts of man-made propulsion systems or even non-lethal weapons research and development."

"I think you got it exactly right," he replied.

"I absolutely believe that one major category would be non-lethal weapons," Green continued, adding he absolutely believes another major category of explanations for sightings involving aerial vehicles that reportedly result in injury would be "another kind of a weapon."

He then briefly discussed aspects of the controversial Havana Syndrome, pointing out what he perceives to be some overlap in cases. Green alluded to Mike Pompeo, referring to him as a Secretary of State who previously served as the director of the CIA, and suggested Pompeo once told a reporter he suspected Havana Syndrome was instigated by an "NNSHIS," a non-nation state hostile intelligence service.

"I thought, when I heard that, bingo," Green continued. "That's what I think is causing these things in my patients. I don't think it's a guy with slanty eyes from far, far away in his shape-shifting universe. I think these are human technologies. Sometimes, accidents that are occurring because instrumentation and deployment that has another purpose is approximating what it is as having an unintended consequence – that is a medical consequence – and that's happened in government technology centers and laboratories ever since technology was a tire that was put on a vehicle and it rolled away."

Green added that he is not saying the technologies he believes he is tracking are trivial. He believes the technologies injuring his patients are very advanced, but he doesn't think they're magic, and he doesn't think they're that advanced. "And I'm not sure the technologies are not deeply classified," Green went on, "not necessarily classified by a government, but by a trillion-dollar industry."

"I'm not saying I know who the perpetrators are, because I don't, but I know that the perpetrators – in my judgment – are human." Green clarified he doesn't think the cases he's been investigating have anything to do with UFOs, not in the more widely accepted sense of the word, and he has arrived at the realization they never did.

Concerning the AAWSAP DIRD, Green said his paper was not initially approved due to references made in it to UFOs and terminology that indicated UFOs. This was apparently frowned upon "by people who were reviewing it at DIA." They didn't want to distribute it in government circles, according to Green.

He explained he was a consultant to AAWSAP, facilitated by BAASS, and that he interpreted the project to be about UFOs. He suggested he was told to change the wording in his paper.

Can he say specifically who informed him the study was about UFOs, and who was saying it was not?

"Well, no, I can't. It was not that easy. There was no person that said either one. From the beginning, the purpose of the study was to look at unidentified aircraft, but I referred in my paper with the acronym UFO, and they said, 'Well, no, we're really looking at technology, and whether it's going to be technology from planes, or technology from whatever, we don't want people to think it's about UFOs,' and this was not any one person that said that."

Green reiterated he was a consultant to the project and didn't even know who the program managers were. He just knew it was DIA.

Green explained his paper reflected reviewing databases of UFO reports. As anyone aware of such reports knows, they consist of everything from distant lights to alleged alien abductions. Green suggested he tried to find cases that would be of the most use to his study.

Did he physically examine these people?

"No," he replied, which I interpret to mean the people referenced in the DIRD, but he would explain later in the conversation how he and his team of doctors administered brain scans and related procedures on others. I interpret these patients to have been referred to him and examined in later years.

Green's position is he was conducting cases studies, not research. To that effect, he acknowledges there were no control groups studied, review boards, or similar structure.

So, I clarified, if this was personal research, then it did not involve an Institutional Review Board or the National Institutes of Health or anything like that?

"No, no," Green replied, "because I didn't do research on these people. I did case studies."

Green explained he based the DIRD on field effects reported. Among the sources used was a database compiled by John Schuessler, consisting of some eight to ten databases, according to Green. Also relied upon were databases compiled by MUFON and Jacques Vallee, as well as other databases.

For about a year after the paper was completed, Green pursued his study. "I had a contract from a client that gave me a grant, and I took all the databases, and when there was enough medical language about the reports – there were about 400 or 500 reports out of about 8 or 10,000 reports - where there was enough language about the injuries that people got, that I was able to work for a year, and classify them as to what kind of injury, and what kind of medical diagnosis could it have been – could it have been – if what was reported was actually true. If it was like if a physician said, 'Charred skin.'"

Can he disclose the client that gave the grant?

"Oh, of course not, absolutely not. Doctors don't do that. I'm not going to do that. I mean, I'm not saying I didn't write a paper for a client that was a government employee, or government organization, because you have to remember, I was a CIA officer. I mean, I didn't do this report when I was in the CIA, but I've been fully cleared, Top Secret codeword, ever since 1970, and I am today."

So, sometimes, Green stated, that's why he's not going to answer questions. As a doctor, he added, he would not discuss anything that would identify any of his patients.

I explained I thought he stated a funding entity supplied him with a grant.

"I did," he continued. "That's what I meant. I am a private practicing physician, have been since I left the government." Green explained at one point he allocated a percentage of profit from his practice to funding his injury study.

"I am a forensic physician," he went on. "We ought to make that clear. A forensic doctor is a doctor that studies two things."

Transitioning right into describing those two things, Green said he studies unexplained illness and unexplained mortality. In the former, there is not enough medical data – yet – to make a diagnosis as to cause of illness or injury. The latter refers to finding the cause of death.

"That's the medicine that I practice, and that's what I did when I was with the CIA. I investigated assassinations. I did cases like Georgi Markov." (If you're not familiar with the Markov case, you might choose to brush up. It's a chapter of the Cold War involving the death of a Bulgarian dissident in which Green is credited with identifying cause of death as a poison injected when Markov was stuck with the end of an umbrella.)

After writing the DIRD, Green says he hoped he could develop a model out of other people's databases. He thought he found enough information in those databases, like several hundred cases out of several thousand where sometimes even a doctor had looked at a person who got injured. So he tried to develop a program where he could define the kind of cases he would like to forensically investigate. 

"If somebody refers a case to me," he continued, "and the person or entity or organization referring a patient to me is a legitimate source, somebody in the government, somebody in the aerospace industry, somebody that's a businessman that's working on a big grant overseas for oil development or something, if a legitimate person says, 'I'd like to refer a case to you,' I would then look at that case if certain conditions apply."

Those conditions, Green explained, demonstrated "that what I've been investigating doesn't have anything to do with UFOs and it never did in my mind, and I'll explain that. It actually, in terms of the cases, never did. I didn't know that at the beginning, because here's what I said I wanted to investigate. I wanted to investigate the cases that the DIA – or the kind of cases – that the DIA was interested in: advanced air forms, injuries from unknown objects, injuries from things that were emitting new kinds of microwaves and gamma radiation and things that were alleged to be causing these injuries, many of which were being called by people UFOs. Even at the time some called it UAP, way back then even."

Green wanted cases with more than two or three witnesses. Other conditions included the witnesses had seen an object that was a thing, not a mirage, not smoke, not some ambiguous distant blur, and he wanted them to all describe seeing the same thing. It had to be daytime. The object had to be in the air, and within a certain range: no further away than 500 meters, horizontally, and no further up than 100 meters. 

"In other words, close."

Readers might consider it would seem one might often be dependent on fallible witness testimony for cases to conform to such criteria. Nonetheless, Green reviewed cases he believed qualified and in which people were hurt, presumably from the encounter.

"There was acute injury that required hospitalization or medical attention," he explained. Subsequently, there was subacute injury that developed (over the next 96 hours) and then there was a lasting effect, such as illness or paralysis. As the study apparently picked up momentum, Green stipulated that referrals had to include giving him the opportunity to examine the person or persons for himself.

"I had to be given complete access to all their doctors and any other doctors I wanted to bring in the case. I had to have HIPAA releases signed by the patients so they knew that I would never ever disclose their identity, and, in fact, I wouldn't even give their bosses - who might have referred them to me - a medical report. Never. 

"In other words, this was not a research project. It was not done in the medical school, it was not done in a hospital, it was not done in a foundation that did medical research like DARPA or a family foundation or an organization that was like an aerospace company. I would only give my reports to the patients themselves and whatever doctors they had that were going to be talking to me under HIPAA rules."

Green suggested there's been a lot of confusion around all that. I could see why. These activities obviously span several years with different sources of cases feeding into the study.

"When people ask me about [alien] abductions," Green went on, "I say, 'Frankly, I don't think very much of them, because I don't have any evidence that they occur.' And, I know, in fact, that people think they do, but I'm not a person that finds that when I look at the injuries of people who are in near space to a UAP, or what some people call a UFO, or what some people call an unidentified air form, I've never found injuries – even in that population where death has occurred... I've never had to invent a technology that wasn't a technology that I knew about that existed. Sometimes the technologies that cause the injuries are obviously of systems that years ago were very deeply classified, particularly instrumentation that emits field effects."

The common denominator is various energy transmissions, such as radio frequency and microwaves, and the subsequent field effects, he says. 

"So I'm stuck. I don't say there's no aliens. I don't say that some of the things that people see are not made of something that we easily understand. I'm not saying that, I'm not saying that. I'm not even saying that I don't believe in aliens, or I don't believe in extraterrestrials. All I'm saying is, when I've spent my period of time that I have, I've got hundreds of cases that I've examined where terrible injuries occurred, sometimes death, sometimes illnesses – chronic. And I can explain it without having to invent aliens from Zeta Reticuli or Mars or Venus with space shape-shifting equipment with advanced technology."

It seemed important to Green to comment further on logistics of working with patients, which he indicated would be referred to him by somebody else, and he always consulted with specialists. Green asserted he did not want to be "the" doctor, so to speak, but more of an organizer that worked off the diagnoses arrived at by others.

"I was never the only physician on any case that was referred to me," Green stated. He would try to see the patient within the first week since the event, and, if not, go talk to the doctor who saw them.

"To be clear," I asked, "was this work you did in AAWSAP?"

"No," Green responded, "that's not quite right. If I did this in the AAWSAP I'd have had to been a contractor in AAWSAP, and I was actually not part of BAASS, and I was not part of AAWSAP. I was a consultant to them, and that's different. That's why I can tell you, fairly clearly, the only other doctors that ever looked at any of my patients were doctors that I retained from the grants that I had."

Green explained he is working closely with Garry Nolan and Colm Kelleher, and that he is working with a team from medical schools at Stanford and Harvard. They are trying to get three research papers published.

"It became clear to me about four years ago that maybe this sort of hodgepodge of cases with very sporadic etiologies, which clearly were related to either unintended consequences of technologies under test and evaluation and deployment, or people that were building things to do stuff that they shouldn't be doing that were from another government, or, that were not, but were from a large foundation that was kind of not doing the right thing, or testing equipment that they could then sell to the military, or, or, or, or... The thing was that the categories of injuries were pretty tightly narrowed to about 48 different diagnoses, and that probably was something that, scientifically, in forensic medicine, needed to become publicized."

Green said all of his work was retrospective, none of it was ever prospective. There continued to be no blind study groups, control groups, or similar populations, such as might be included in grant-funded medical studies. He and Nolan studied the brain scans obtained.

"It became clear to us," Green stated, "or to me, anyway, that I didn't have a UFO population." Most UFO reports simply did not qualify, given the standards Green developed. His cases of interest represented a minuscule percentage of overall UFO cases.

"I've briefed every government organization that I've ever been affiliated with on this, and it became clear to me, that my population was not a UFO population. So I finally started to say, about four or five years ago, that people shouldn't think that I am looking at people who are injured by UFOs. They're not."

Advanced Marine Corps
reconnaissance drone
Green believes his patients have described very quiet, advanced drones. Some seem to be black triangles.

"Some of them appear to be blobs – round, oblong, weird looking, white. People say, 'Hey, that sounds like those tic tacs!', and I say, 'Yep, exactly.'"

I pointed out Dr. Nolan appears to be much more of the opinion anomalous activity is involved. Would Dr. Green say they disagree?

"No, I think Garry looks at those things in a completely different perspective from me, a different vector, and we work together. We looked at some of the same cases together, particularly early on. We haven't been doing anything together with any new cases for about four years, but Garry tends to look at things that are clearly more mysterious than me. I only focus on the clinical medical stuff that you get when you talk to the doctors and you get the records and blood tests, xrays, and brain scans."

Green said he has followed Nolan's public statements, and he doesn't feel he has the credentials to challenge Nolan's positions in his areas of study. Green indicated Nolan says similar about Green's forensic studies. 

Green and Nolan have been working together and trying to get a couple papers published. While Nolan is looking at what he seems to consider mysterious cases, Green acknowledges he's no stranger to the subject matter. It's well known he's been on the UFO fringe for some 40 years. But as far as injury studies, and what Green terms the morbidity of those cases, he does not believe the cases are mysterious, but he says he thinks the perpetrators are.

"I believe the perpetrators are incredibly mysterious, and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out who they are."

Was any of the work Green did on injury studies ever under the guidance of BAASS or any Bigelow corporations?

"No," Green replied, "well, now wait a minute. I'm not going to talk about who was or wasn't giving me grants, but I will tell you that nobody – and I've been involved with Bob Bigelow's organization for 30 years, I've been on many of his boards of directors, I've been a consultant to him, he's a close colleague and a dear friend, I mean, I want to give him credit where credit is due."

The direct answer to my question was no, Green stated, adding the UFO subject never comprised more than 15 percent of his career, and the injury study even less, about five percent. Green acknowledged he's worked for Robert Bigelow and been paid to be on his boards – been paid to be a founding member on his boards – so, "in that context," he proceeded to explain, it was Bigelow who first suggested he collect cases of people who think they've been on UFOs. That should include cases of people who think they've been injured by aliens. 

Bigelow suggested, according to Green, he should collect cases, and he should brain scan those people. If those things are real, Bigelow reportedly continued, he'd suspect there would be a clue in their brain, because, if they've been abducted, maybe they've been changed. Maybe their brain is changed. If they've been next to a UFO, maybe those propulsion systems are radiation machines and gravity machines, using all kinds of advanced isotopes and energy. Bigelow apparently thought maybe the people had gotten zapped, and injured, so Green should check for it, and Green says he told Bigelow that was a very good idea.

About what year was that?

"It had to have been 15 or 20 years ago."

Green then referenced some of the first brain scans he did: the first "several hundred." Some of this was covered by Annie Jacobs, Green said, and he thought he was seeing possible injuries. These included Navy Seals and others in the military that Green described as highly intelligent and very skilled. He suspected the "particular attribute" in the brain results from some type of encounter, but Green says not. In fact, it was not "UFO abductees or anything like that, it was just highly skilled, highly trained professional people that had a particular biomarker."

"For a while," he continued, "I was actually thinking that maybe this thing that we were seeing was not necessarily pathological, but had to do with the fact that they were people who'd been confronted by one of these objects that were very strange, and it turned out not to be the case."

Green suggested material to that effect "has been written up," but publishing has inherent challenges. Case studies involving limited numbers of people and limited populations do not impress review panels. They're having trouble getting things published that they wanted published.

"It's not a study where you start out with a hypothesis, and you test it, and then you develop another variant of that hypothesis, and then you test that. What we have is what's called hypothesis generation, not hypothesis testing."

So you're running into challenges getting published?

"Yes, and they're reasonable, and that's why I don't talk about this as if we had scientific data. I've got clinical data for each individual. They're not bundled together into a large, single hypothesis."

In closing, Green emphasized a lot of his work is not about this. He added that things he may be aware of are not classified, but they may be adjacent to classified material.

Was I understanding correctly that it's Green's position he can discuss some grant circumstances, but not some other funding entities or specific work, because of non-disclosure agreements and security classification?

"You've got two things you're saying there. Both of them are correct. I don't have anything we've talked about that is classified, but I do have things about related subjects that are very highly classified. So, for example, I don't know anything classified anymore about anything concerning UFOs or my research, but it's all medically private."

Closing Thoughts

    A salient point here is whether any investigators have important observations that can make it to publication. Such material should be definitive and advance scientific understanding of UFOs, paranormal phenomena, or advanced technology as applicable. 

Challenges for a curious public to navigate - and there are many in this saga - include conflicting statements from so many involved parties about funding, whether something took place within AAWSAP or not, and so on. Grant recipients typically identify funding entities in resulting papers for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons is dispelling potential conflicts of interest that may result from how the work was funded. When that doesn't happen, obvious concerns arise, particularly when investigators are hesitant to fully address funding channels and their roles and levels of participation in one agency, organization, or project or other.

I don't think there is anyone who would object to scientists attempting to quantify circumstances surrounding UFO reports, claims of alien abduction, and related alleged paranormal circumstances. The same would of course be the case for events suspected to involve injuries resulting from exposure to manmade aircraft. An issue becomes the validity of the methodologies. Guarding against the danger of subjective interpretations of ambiguous circumstances follows suit, as do concerns about whose money is footing the bill. Suffice it to say taxpayers might be much less concerned about the interests of people who use metal detectors to search for UFO debris in the desert if they're confident federal money is not paying for those people's chosen directions of research. 


Regarding alleged saucer debris, it is my understanding the Vallee, Nolan, and Pasulka camp suggest a non-human intelligence might manifest material objects that serve more abstract purposes than literal and physical. This is to say, for instance, alleged saucer debris may exist, yet not conform to the structure of scientific testing, for reasons including it's not really a crashed saucer, it's just an artifact of the unknown for humanity to study. The implications overlap with injuries potentially sustained by people exposed to such phenomena. Such saucer debris, hypothetically, might serve as a communication or an interaction of sorts. I understand that to be one of the core positions held by those who otherwise do not account for why there is so much ambiguity surrounding debris retrieval and related analysis. Others might call it rationalizing.


There are some obvious problems with validating the 'real but not real' concept in scientific circles. This is not to say humanity may not eventually evolve to vastly more advanced understandings of its universe and its place in it. That almost certainly will be the case. But that evolution of understanding will have to take place in a methodical, systematic manner to be meaningfully distinguished from gibberish. 

The possibility always exists, as well, of disguising covert operations of varying degrees of benefit or malice behind such gibberish. How well we collectively either enable or competently investigate such undertakings is at issue.

To those who would argue "science can't prove everything," I would remind them this isn't my hill to die on. Defending their argument is the responsibility of Team Bigelow, To The Stars, the federally funded AAWSAP, and everyone else who brought metaphysical beliefs to a scientific debate. If they don't want their assertions subjected to scientific standards of evidence and the related protocols, don't call it science. 

Perhaps forthcoming papers will eliminate all doubts and conclusively reveal paradigm-shifting information through systematic, professional research. Time always tells.