Thursday, August 1, 2013

MUFON, Science and Deception, Part Two

Deception Is Deception Is Deception

The single most important challenge facing Jan Harzan and his board of directors may very well involve effectively marketing MUFON while refraining from blatantly misrepresenting the nature and value of its activities. Mr. Harzan would not be the first MUFON leader to struggle with the seemingly contradictory task of maintaining the support of UFO enthusiasts while simultaneously trying to keep investigations and public presentations up to scientific standards.

Let's face it, some self-described researchers enjoy popularity within an increasingly desensitized UFO community because of grandstanding, absurd proclamations and abilities to keep themselves up to their necks in bitter controversies. Organizations such as MUFON must then decide whether they will provide venues for such sensationalizing or opt to take the high road, declining to offer a podium – and forfeiting potential ticket sales and revenue in the process.

Retired scientist Frank Purcell, whose comments were featured in Part One of this post, was involved with MUFON for a short time. He explained, “I left that organization partly because known charlatans are given credence by what should be a scientific organization. These cranks and shysters are welcomed to the MUFON symposiums. The theme MUFON has, as do most UFO organizations, is that earth is being visited by ET. That bias is considered a given without a shred of scientific evidence to support it. The bias makes what should be a scientific approach to something mysterious into something more resembling a religion.”

Barbara Lamb
Perhaps nowhere is the UFO community more divided and passionate about such issues than in the case of alleged alien abduction and those who research the subject. It could indeed be considered concerning that an organization claiming to conduct scientific research provides venues for individuals who persist in offering witness testimony as primary evidence, including the use of regressive hypnosis as a memory retrieval tool. Moreover, “researchers” often keep such alleged witnesses anonymous and unseen, employ hypnosis as a preferred method of investigation and fail to provide reasonable or even indirect evidence (such as medical examinations and medical records) for review by qualified and unbiased third parties. Scientific research papers are virtually never authored by researchers of abduction or submitted for peer review, and, in many cases, peer review and public accountability are blatantly and intentionally avoided. This is simply not science, and suggesting otherwise is, by any other name, deception.

Real and Here?

We need look no further than MUFON Southern California for any number of circumstances involving the enabling of sham inquiry and the perpetual lack of accountability for its consequences. After MacDonald's turn in the MUFON hot seat was announced, he agreed in January of 2012 to address some questions from The UFO Trail. In response to inquiries about hypnosis and its promotion by the supposedly scientifically oriented MUFON, MacDonald could have easily been interpreted as endorsing its use, or, at best, skirting the topic. Particularly at issue were appearances by David Jacobs at events sponsored by MUFON, including one in Southern California, of which MacDonald stated he had "no problem."

Self-described researcher Barbara Lamb increased her visibility in recent years when she parlayed administering regressive hypnosis into alleged relationships with ET-human hybrids. She claims to personally know at least three hybrids she "helped" discover their alleged extraordinary histories.

In August of 2011 Dr. Tyler Kokjohn created and posted the above video, Alien Abductions – Is the Holy Grail in Hand?, encouraging us to consider what point in time Ms. Lamb might choose to present the proof of alien abduction and intervention of which she claimed to have access. Some two years later, she continued to entertain audiences with her narrations of relationships with hybrids, sans any scientific documentation for her claims. When a group email was received from MUFON Orange County announcing Lamb as a speaker and proclaiming hybrids “are real and they are here,” comment was requested from Lamb and Harzan. Posted April 17 at Orlando Paranormal Examiner
The email stated Lamb previously conducted regressive hypnosis sessions with some 900 individuals, “helping them to access details of encounters they've had with a variety of Extraterrestrial Beings [sic].” It was claimed that Lamb “discovered that many of her clients have unwittingly contributed to the ET's programs of creating ET-Human [sic] hybrids.” According to the MUFON email, such hybrids “live here among us on earth,” and some of them, it was stated in the email, “Barbara knows personally.”
'Orlando Paranormal Examiner' emailed Lamb and requested comment, specifically inquiring if she has provided evidence of her assertions to any qualified third parties for review. She was also asked if blood work and related physical examinations have been conducted on any of the alleged ET-human hybrids, as well as what justification she could present for such extraordinary statements as contained in the MUFON email.
I am in a huge rush this week,” Lamb replied March 18, “but basically you would have to talk to the three people who are convinced (and I am convinced) that they are hybrids, and find out from them about blood tests, bone tests, etc. I don't know whether or not they would be willing to talk to you (whom they don't know), but if you are interested, I could ask them and they could decide.”
Lamb was encouraged in a subsequent series of emails to coordinate correspondence with the alleged hybrids and thanked for her efforts. When urged to provide direct answers to the questions concerning physical examinations and evidence available for public review, no further emails were received from Lamb. Neither has any correspondence been received from alleged ET-human hybrid beings.
Jan Harzan was emailed and asked to provide comment. According to the MUFON website, Mr. Harzan is a member of the MUFON board of directors and is the Southern California assistant state director.
Multiple emails were sent to Harzan at two different addresses provided on the website as points of contact. He was asked to comment on why MUFON, an organization purporting to be dedicated to scientific study, would circulate an email promoting as fact such unsubstantiated and fantastic claims. No replies were received.
Flu Lights

Microbiologist Dr. Tyler Kokjohn submits content to numerous blogs, maintains a YouTube channel and is a popular podcast guest. When asked to provide comment for this post, he explained that while he is not professionally concerned about being associated with UFO research, he added that he would indeed be concerned about being linked to an organization, MUFON, promoting medical quackery and such other bizarre ideas. Dr. Kokjohn wrote:
Hopefully this leadership change will at last generate a productive structural revamping of MUFON as well. The organization harbors capable individuals, but their attempts to perform scientific investigations are often discredited by the appalling actions and statements of persons holding high level leadership positions. Anyone bemoaning the lack of respect and interest evidenced by the general public toward MUFON and UFOs should take a hard look at the damage done by intemperate leadership.
As one example, I suggest people think back to the influenza epidemic scare of 2009. As the flu began to take hold, a well-known MUFON regional director claimed he had a cure - flu lights. Backed by testimonials of alien abductees cured of many (unspecified) ailments after exposure to blue or green light, he had the sure cure that was unknown to human medicine. Worked on dogs and cats, too! For a mere $50, he would supply you with these miracle lights to save yourself (bargain price included free shipping).

At the height of public apprehension over an emerging flu epidemic, a regional MUFON director tries to cash in. Forget the Nobel Prize, he can take a totally unknown technology and example of alleged alien tech transfer and turn a buck. Worse, he was inciting people to use a method that had never been demonstrated to work against the then novel H1N1 influenza virus circulating or any virus/pathogen for that matter. This behavior was both utterly irresponsible and reprehensible. Hopefully no one followed his ill founded and ignorant medical advice and was injured as a consequence.
Pointing out the shortcomings of his actions and requesting via e-mail he desist elicited no response from him or the then international director of MUFON. You can still find the offer on his web site; Google 'national UFO center flu lights'. I bet he would still sell you one, too. Awesome PR for MUFON.
Are these the actions of an organization espousing dedication to the principles of science and claiming the mantle of scientific respectability? The most charitable assessment of such behavior is that it is tragically funny. But you can see that it might veer rapidly into something not very humorous at all. It certainly does not build a positive public image.
This is a single example of MUFON doing damage to itself. It might be a good time for the new director to take a hard look at the upper echelon and how well they represent the organization. In addition, it might be an opportune moment to consider which UFO researchers MUFON wishes to promote and feature at their meetings. How long can the leading UFO research organization continue to offer symposia packed with charlatans and propagators of pure hot air while wondering why the scientific community stays aloof? One of the speakers this year, a physicist by the way, noted the lack of open interest was due to the fact that scientists feared the reactions. I do not agree with his assessment, but while I feel free to pursue UFO research, I would be quite concerned about being linked to an organization that allows its leaders to promote medical quackery among other bizarre ideas.
Time for a long overdue change.”
In May of 2011 Dr. Kokjohn created the following video, Alien Abductions - Seeing the Light, in which he explored issues surrounding the ill advised flu lights:

Readers might also choose to directly review the unsupported flu light claims:

Filer's Files #48, November 25, 2009

The Final Product

Perhaps in the end it all comes down to the primary objectives of the MUFON board of directors. Regardless of the specific person at the helm, the names of those who fill the seats on the board or the mission statement of the organization, maybe it all comes down to what is prioritized by the most ambitious members of the board.

Some may wonder if the board prioritizes much of anything at all, but just lets things happen until fires need putting out. Others might suspect the financial stability of the organization is the primary objective, resulting in little to no concern about adhering to the science-based mission statement as long as the public is purchasing products and services. Consideration should also be given to the challenges a board of directors has in overseeing and controlling activities conducted by volunteers spread out all over the United States and world. Yet others might turn their attention to strongly distrusting MUFON leadership, confidently suspecting numerous hidden agendas have been carried out over the years. Perhaps the actuality of the situation contains a bit of all of that.

Maybe, in the end, what is most relevant to the consumer is if they are pleased with the quality of the final product: the presentations and research offered. I invite consideration that we are the consumers, the customers, the potential funders of the organization.

Demand more quality. Do not settle for less. If your expectations are unfulfilled, find alternative sources. Stop seeking something, the scientific study of UFOs, from people who chronically promise it, yet repeatedly demonstrate no intention whatsoever of consistently providing it - whatever the reasons may ultimately be for the disconnect and unanswered questions.


  1. Thanks to Tyler and Jack for continuing to suggest that people interested in UFO research need to hold their leaders responsible for the fact that mainstream science won't touch this subject with a 20 foot pole.This field is now represented by therapists like Lamb and Smith who state publicly and on television that they regularly sit across from people they _know_ to be human-ET hybrids. People who make such stunning assertions are now _obligated,_ in moral and scientific terms, to back up such extreme claims by readily available DNA testing.I would be fascinated to follow such a story, one that developed according to certain scientific protocols for the acquisition of knowledge. Otherwise, I wish they would have the decency and honesty to acknowledge that they're working in the realm of science fiction.

    1. Thank you very much for your support, Carol. I value your opinion, so your comments are most appreciated. There are indeed both moral and scientific obligations at stake.

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  3. Entirely reasonable. One cannot presume that ones mere word establishes veracity of any type. Even Jesus understood this, metaphorically speaking, when he allowed "Doubting Thomas" to put his hand _directly_ into the wound made by the legendary spear of Destiny. Remains, though, I think, that it's not "leaders," keeping science away but copping to it, at all, is keeping paid lap-dog science at bay. There is no extraordinary evidence, enough, eh? Ms. Lamb is but adjacent with everything else sucked in by this facilitated informational void... more:

  4. Hi Jack,

    Though Whitley Streiber wrote the speculative sci-fi 'Hybrids', he's also claimed, more than once, in podcast interviews as well as with the typed word on his website that he's met a hybrid/ knows a hybrid. Maybe contacting him might yield results considering that Barbara Lamb hasn't been forthcoming with putting you in touch with the hybrids she claims to know.

    But I, like others, have noticed Streiber making lots of claims that are often contradictory at the very least. So who knows if you'll get more from him than what you've gotten from Lamb if you should choose to contact him.

    ~ Susan

    1. Hi, Susan,

      It seems we could agree it's a mess. I empathize with those who seem to have experienced high strangeness, for lack of a better term, yet might often feel torn between aligning with far left or far right, with little to no middle ground to be found.

      Some bloggers like Robert Sheaffer, included in Part One, have covered certain aspects of the Streiber saga fairly well, in my opinion. It can indeed be difficult to sort out the contradictions.

  5. Although Brewer starts to make some good points by being constructively dissatisfied, he seems so slanted against MUFON that I doubt an interview would even be published without being edited like a TV show. The scientific community is so biased against "Them" being here that they will not accept testimony, radar, sonar, gov't docs, etc until they can reproduce one. The placebo SETI organization leads this charge. Most educated people understand there is life in the universe. Physicists say there are 11 dimensions around us. What we call paranormal may be real science. I'm disappointed that Brewer is so negative. I'm on the MUFON Board but I also write scifi books. I guess that would leave me wide open for criticism.

    1. If there are specific points you would like to address or discuss in the posts, Mr. Ventre, you are welcomed to do so. Voicing discontent in generalities, however, and stating that "what we call paranormal may be real science," does not strengthen your argument. As a matter of fact, it offers further evidence of the points I presented for consideration.

      You, members of MUFON and anyone else are entitled to believe anything you choose. You are also entitled to conduct investigations and research as you prefer. You are not entitled, however, to misrepresent it as science without challenge.