Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Romanek Pleads Not Guilty, Trial Scheduled

Stanley Romanek pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing and distributing child pornography Tuesday at the Larimer County Justice Center in Fort Collins, Col. A five-day jury trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 15.

According to Dana Rieck of the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Romanek rejected what was termed a last plea deal from prosecutors. The deal offered Romanek the option of pleading guilty to the Class 4 felony possession charge in exchange for dropping the distribution charge, and receiving sex offender intensive probation. Following Romanek's rejection of the offer, Deputy District Attorney Josh Ritter permanently withdrew the proposal. 

Romanek's attorney, Theodore McClintock, requested a five-day trial, telling the judge that "the defense case may be significant." The self-described alien abductee accused of possessing and distributing child pornography and his supporters have maintained the charges are unfounded and stem from combinations of conspiracies related to his involvement in ufology and corruption within federal agencies and the Loveland Police Department.

Updates on the Romanek legal case and relevant links may be viewed here. Follow @danarieckrh on Twitter for more coverage.    

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Inside Job: Fascinating Research into Auditory Hallucinations May Offer Clues on Reported Anomalies

On a recent episode of the popular show Radiolab, the hosts explored auditory hallucinations. They talked to a psychoanalyst who, following surgery, began experiencing sensations of hearing religious music while in his hospital bed. The man described the music as sounding as if it was coming from outside a window, and he stated that the songs became more perky as the week and his recovery from the medical procedure progressed. Finally, as he was discharged and rode in a car to his residence, he fully accepted the music could not be originating from an outside source as it followed him and evolved from Big Band hits to the song, 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'.

“I am listening to me,” the psychoanalyst surmised.

Newcastle University located in England
Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University, described some of his work. Professor Griffiths took 35 people claiming to hear such music and scanned their brains. He snapped pictures of the scans at points in which they reported “hearing” music, paying particular attention to key areas.

Griffiths then took a different group of people who do not report auditory hallucinations, played actual music for them, and recorded their brains. The scans were virtually identical to the first group.

“If you were to put those in front of me,” Griffiths said, “and say one is people hallucinating, the other is people being played music, I wouldn't be able to tell you which was which.”

Griffiths' work suggested the sensations went far beyond getting a song stuck in our head. It seems some people get the full hifi experience.

It's a really interesting episode of Radiolab and I recommend listening in its entirety, but where I'm headed with this is twofold: Such sensory activity might be relevant to select (as in some, not all) reports of UFOs and related high strangeness/alien abduction. Also, the UFO community would be well served to turn at least a proportionate amount of its attention to qualified professionals as compared to the more popularly circulated material and the poorly conceived research it often represents.

In the 1960's, Polish neurophysiologist Jerzy Konorski theorized there may be connections and pathways between the brain and ears – that run backwards. Many years later, the work of such researchers as Professor Griffiths, who reports that as much as 30 percent of such pathways may run in opposition to the majority, are lending support to Konorski's idea. This means that we may indeed sometimes be listening to ourselves, or at least what we've heard before. As the psychoanalyst reported discovering after his surgery, the music consists of songs from eras significant to the individual, and emotional responses range from enjoyable to extremely unpleasant.

Here's another interesting puzzle piece: Griffiths says that far and away the most seemingly significant characteristic of people who report regularly hearing otherwise nonexistent music is loss of hearing. In some cases, the reported music even literally came with hearing loss and subsided with its later cure.

The condition usually occurs later in life, as with stages of hearing loss, and may be amping up as other sounds fade away, or, stated a different way, conducive to sensory deprivation. As I considered the possibilities, I wondered how the eyes might feed the brain images, or vice versa, particularly when in the dark, such as while viewing a night sky or scanning a dark room while lying in bed.

Quite interestingly, the entire line of research gives whole new meaning to the idea “people are abducted by aliens who read about people abducted by aliens.” While the power of subjectivity will always be relevant, and seems to often be rather poorly understood and minimally accepted, the work as examined by Radiolab takes the concept to deeper levels. It doesn't seem to be entirely out of the realm of possibility that we might be hearing and interpreting things in physiological ways when those sounds aren't actually there, but once were, or were as we recall or envision them. Very intriguing possibilities. Something experienced could theoretically not be there and not be a hallucination. Signals from the brain could be the origin of the experienced sensation.

Oliver Sacks
“As a physician, you know,” the late neurologist Oliver Sacks explained, “one sees patients. You ask about their symptoms, they produce their symptoms, but it is equally important to see the relation of the symptoms of the disease to the person themselves, their identity.”

“One sees into action a liaison, a collusion, a condition – I don't know what word to use – between the self and a symptom,” he added.

We are indeed the hosts of many physical conditions, and we certainly bring our mental selves to the complex equation. Exactly how it all may manifest in physiological ways will continue to be studied and clarified. In the scenario explored by Radiolab, the physical condition would be the possibility the brain at times sends signals of sounds back to the ears; and the mental condition, or way we interpret and experience those signals - what their messages would even be - might depend on our individual pasts, musical interests and factors such as the material we choose to feed our senses that becomes stored in our brains. 

The UFO community would be wise to recognize the value of such work, as well as the significance of other research conducted by qualified experts. Fascinating discoveries await humankind, and ufology would improve itself by embracing those discoveries and implementing their relevance.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ufology Talking Points

Let's start with qualifying that I don't consider myself an expert on UFOs and the state of ufology. Like many, I developed an interest in the subject matter and came to know much more about it than the average individual. Of the things I learned, a lot of it is probably not worth knowing. Just ask the people that tolerate me.

My descent into ufology resulted in my book, 'The Greys Have Been Framed: Exploitation in the UFO Community', which contains a lot of the things I think are relevant about the genre. I'm very pleased with the reviews it has received, and I'm grateful for the websites, radio shows and podcasts which have interviewed me about it. Thank you! 

Those interviews and related circumstances have provided me opportunities to reflect. Following are a few points that typically come up and I've recently been giving particular consideration:

Kinds of Information

I think there are essentially three kinds of information when we're discussing UFOs, aliens and the related claims and research:

1) That which can be verified to be correct and accepted

2) That which can be confirmed to be incorrect and rejected

3) That which cannot be conclusively confirmed one way or the other, requiring suspension of judgment

While we can often take a pretty good guess at which category a claim or researcher's thesis might fall in, there is no substitute for verification. We then have responsibilities (if we are going to purport to be conducting professional research or scientific investigation) to follow protocols, and particularly the recognition of standards of evidence, as established by the professional research community and academia. We also have responsibilities to recognize those standards of evidence if we purport to be advocates of professional research when promoting various investigators and their work as credible. Which brings us to:

Belief vs. Fact

I think, therefore I recognize
standards of evidence  
We're entitled to believe pretty much anything we choose, but if we desire others to share and embrace our beliefs, we have responsibilities to present those people with factual information to sway their perspectives. To expect or demand the agreement of others while providing no credible information, as described above, is unreasonable. The reasonable and intelligent person is not convinced by anecdotes, repetition and volume, but by facts and verifiable evidence. 

We have responsibilities to accurately differentiate between beliefs and facts when arguing our points. We are allowed to believe as we choose, as well as disagree with one another and debate with passion, but if we neglect to respect professional standards of evidence, we promote confusion rather than clarification. 

Hypnosis

I find it rather insulting that hypnosis as a memory retrieval tool even continues to be an issue at this point - and is a glaring example of disregard for the points made in the above paragraphs. Here's the bottom line, guys: If a researcher or organization claims to promote scientific investigation and conducts hypnosis, they are incorrect; the two stances are mutually exclusive of one another. That's not my opinion, but the platform of the current scientific paradigm. I just cite it. 

What's more, work conducted by professionally qualified researchers concludes that not only are memory enhancing techniques unreliable, but their use may be detrimental. It has additionally been conclusively demonstrated - repeatedly - that the manners questions are asked greatly alters the responses. See the work, which includes clinical trials and peer review, of Shaw, Loftus, French, Lilienfeld, Morgan, etc., etc., etc. All of this and much more is addressed in my book and references are thoroughly provided. 

The cow is long out of the gate on this one. Let's move on and recognize unsubstantiated assertions for what they are.

Mind Control

The big MC. I find the topic of interest and I try to write about it responsibly. I think that can be defined as clarifying my opinions, citing facts as to how I form my opinions and suspicions, and differentiating between those and facts.

Director of Project MKULTRA,
Dr. Sidney Gottlieb
It is my opinion that unethical activities conducted by intelligence agencies, such as now declassified documents confirm about the CIA, may have become enmeshed with the UFO subculture and resulted in reports of alleged alien abduction. I form this supposition, pending further information, based on the fact the mind control projects existed, combined with the fact the involved agencies were manipulating the topic and public perception of UFOs during the same era. Given such profiles that can be made of CIA, additional intel agencies, and their activities, I am of the opinion that further research is justified into the possibilities. I suspect some of the targets of behavior modification projects misinterpreted the circumstances as alien abduction, particularly with the encouragement of so-called and often overeager ufologists. 

There are a number of additional possible scenarios which could be relevant to the UFO community. I think that angle of research deserves more attention than it typically receives, and I find it interesting. Much more about this is offered in 'The Greys Have Been Framed'.

What Should Be Done for "Abductees"

First of all, I'm not sure anything should be done. I'm a rather big advocate of allowing people to find their own ways and their own solutions. People usually don't want suggestions until they become convinced they need them, so "alien abduction" might not be much different.

That stated, if I were to make recommendations, based on my own observations and in my admittedly professionally unqualified opinion, I'd say the first thing to do would be to encourage treatment for trauma. Alleged abductees, as well as a number of UFO witnesses, describe the circumstances as traumatic. It therefore stands to reason that professional treatment for trauma would be appropriate regardless of the possible origin of the perception.

Next, I'd say that witnesses, as well as investigators and their organizations, should consciously identify the kind of support they are seeking and providing. Emotional support, therapeutic treatments, and objective investigation are different activities, require different areas of expertise, and should not be intermingled haphazardly for many reasons. All too often, fragmented simulations of such activities are provided by groups and individuals who are qualified at none of them, mix them all together without even realizing it, and the quality suffers of both the life of the witness and the investigation. 

So-called "UFO investigation" appears to me, based on years of observations and the work I conducted while writing my book, to frequently become some bastardization of mental health therapy, particularly in the alien abduction genre. However, the investigators typically are neither therapists nor any kind of mental health professional. It would therefore be very beneficial to the community and the well-being of the witnesses if all involved made intentional decisions as to what type of support, be it emotional, therapeutic or investigative, was being sought and offered, and conducted themselves accordingly. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LAPD: Lash Files Will Not Be Releasable

The late Jeffrey Alan Lash
I spoke by phone today with Jennifer Trinidad of the Los Angeles Police Department Discovery Section. She was identified as a point of contact in my recently received letter denying my request for the files on Jeffrey Alan Lash. 

I called to inquire if there was some type of process, such as a waiting list of sorts, whereby I could be informed when the files, currently not releasable, might become available for release. I was hopeful that might help both LAPD and me save time and effort from dealing with my possible future requests for the files.

Trinidad informed me that the classification of the Lash files, "investigatory," means they will not be made releasable in the future. I clarified that covered all files and reports, including even initial documentation of the circumstances, which she confirmed was indeed the case. I was free to make future requests if I so chose, Trinidad explained, but the files would not be releasable. An option would be to attempt to subpoena the files, but it was clear we should not anticipate the information becoming releasable by the LAPD. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

LAPD Denies Request for Lash Files

The Los Angeles Police Department denied a request for the release of files related to the case of Jeffrey Alan Lash submitted under the California Public Records Act. The deceased body of Lash was discovered by LAPD in a parked vehicle in Pacific Palisades, and a rather incredible story of weapons, cars, cash, CIA operatives and ET-human hybrids proceeded to unfold. LAPD indicated the denial was issued because the request sought "records that are either investigatory records or properly part of an investigative file," adding that such files are exempt from disclosure.

My request, submitted February 26 to the LAPD Discovery Section, stated in part:
I am requesting copies of files available for release related to the discovery of the body of Jeffrey Alan Lash. The corpse was discovered by police on or about July 17, 2015 in Pacific Palisades. Of particular interest are files depicting investigations and conclusions of circumstances surrounding the deceased, but all records and files related to the Lash case available for release are requested.

The LAPD response, received by email March 7, explained:
The Los Angeles Police Department is cognizant of its responsibilities under the Act. It recognizes the statutory scheme was enacted in order to maximize citizen access to the workings of government. The Act does not mandate disclosure of all documents within the government's possession. Rather, by specific exemption and reference to other statutes, the Act recognizes that there are boundaries where the public's right to access must be balanced against such weighty considerations as the right of privacy, a right of constitutional dimension under California Constitution, Article 1, Section 1. The law also exempts from disclosure records that are privileged or confidential or otherwise exempt under either express provisions of the Act or pursuant to applicable federal or state law, per California Government Code Sections 6254(b); 6254(c); 62540; 6254(k); and 6255. 
Your request seeks records that are either investigatory records or properly part of an investigative file. In accordance with Section 62540, records of investigations conducted by, or investigatory files compiled by, any local police agency for law enforcement purposes, are exempt from disclosure. Therefore, I am denying your request.

I suspect there may be ongoing aspects of the investigation which would contribute to the decision to retain all files. Perhaps submitting the request again at a later date would be more productive, or making similar requests to additional agencies under the Freedom of Information Act would eventually reveal more information. 

Researchers wishing to email information requests to LAPD may do so at discovery@lapd.lacity.org, and the Discovery Section may be reached by telephone at 213-978-2100. Read more about the California Public Records Act on the LAPD website.