Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Year Along 'The UFO Trail'

The UFO Trail published over three dozen posts in 2013. Topics included the intelligence community, drones, ethics of exploring the fringe, questionable actions of people and organizations in ufology and more. Let's review the year along The UFO Trail.

Drones, Drones, Drones

More varieties than ever of flying objects went airborne in 2013, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. The increasingly crowded skies have the attention of human rights groups, and the longer-than-you-might-think history of unmanned aerial vehicles was explored in Thought Drones Were New to the Skies? Think Again.

Designer Adam Harvey's counter-
surveillance hoodie, alleged to make its
wearer undetectable to drones
The related issues will no doubt continue to heat up, as considered in a post addressing legislation on drones from one state to the next, and another post included the anti-drone hoodie as previously written about by Gabrielle Pickard of Top Secret Writers. As a matter of fact, drone news escalated so rapidly in 2013 and became so prevalent I virtually dropped it for a while, as an entire blog could easily be devoted to that topic alone. I opted instead for a December summary of the situation in One Nation Under Drones, which addressed circumstances ranging from drone-related electronic warfare purposes, UFO hoaxes and toys to anti-drone demonstrations conducted abroad.

Speaking of quite man-made flying objects, the work and observations of Dr. Michael Heiser at UFO Religions inspired my July post, Those Mysterious Men and Their Flying Machines. Dr. Heiser cited circumstances indicating all relevant information is not considered equal when the topic is triangle craft.

Enabling Ignorance or Conducting Deception?

Among the year's most viewed posts at The UFO Trail was the first of a two-parter, MUFON, Science and Deception, which called into question the integrity of the Mutual UFO Network and particularly the accuracy of its claims of dedication to a science-based mission statement. The piece contained qualified commentary from skeptic Robert Sheaffer, scientist Frank Purcell and UFO investigator Antonio Paris. Statements were also obtained from Southern California UFO enthusiasts Steve Murillo and Georgeanne Cifarelli.

Part two of the post included comments from microbiologist Dr. Tyler Kokjohn. Circumstances were cited in which MUFON activities could clearly be accurately described as unscientific, if not deceptive.

ECM + CIA = UFO, at Least Sometimes

Career CIA man and
former DCI Richard Helms 
Alarming Cold War circumstances and declassified spy games were considered in John Marks and 'The Search for the Manchurian Candidate'. The saga of the CIA, its infamous family jewels and its 25-year venture into mind control were further explored in the two-part post, The CIA and the Search for the Manchurian Candidate. Church Committee Reports were considered that quoted the 1963 statements of then-Deputy Director for Plans and eventual Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms. He asserted that developing means to advantageously and significantly influence human behavior, or mind control techniques, necessarily involved tests conducted on involuntary research subjects. 

"If one grants the validity of the mission of maintaining this unusual capability and the necessity for unwitting testing," Helms added, "there is only then the question of how best to do it."

Retired military intelligence expert
and raging conspiracy theorist
General Bert Stubblebine
One of Those Posts About Validated Conspiracy Theories was published in September, exploring the long and well documented history of the intelligence community not only manipulating the news media, political arena and nonprofit industry, but public perception of UFOs as well. Declassified documents were cited establishing that the CIA, NSA and DoD conspired to create false flag UFO events as early as the mid 20th century. Such signs of the times led Dr. Leon Davidson to publish a 1959 article, ECM + CIA = UFO, in which he suggested electronic countermeasures were among the tools used by the CIA to create the modern day UFO phenomenon.

Whether or not there may have been a paranormal signal among the CIA noise, such circumstances were further considered in Influence of the Intelligence Community in Ufology. There are a lot of members of the IC claiming to be willing and able to provide us inside information. A close look, however, reveals the demographic accounts for as many unsupported fantastic claims and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories as virtually any other segment of the UFO community.

Alleged Alien Abduction and Implications

Research of Alleged Alien Abduction: A Critical Perspective put some researchers and their methods under the microscope, and the circumstances were further considered in another post covering motivated reasoning. Once again we found that self-proclaimed experts and insiders were not necessarily worthy of either our attention or financial support. 

The inherently flawed use of an ill advised yet popular investigative tool was considered in You're Getting Sleepy... and Misled: Regression Hypnosis in Ufology. The work of the British UFO Research Association, studies conducted by renowned psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and facts presented by such members of the UFO community as Jeremy Vaeni, Jeff Ritzmann, Carol Rainey and Kevin Randle were considered in support of what the scientific research community already knows: hypnosis is not an effective memory retrieval tool. If there is anything of interest about the continuing hypnosis-related debate in ufology at this point, it would be that it continues to exist. Is it all about ignorance and motivated reasoning, or are some researchers and individuals blatantly trying to deceive us?

MUFON founding member John Schuessler,
who was a member of both the MUFON BoD
and NIDS advisory board during the Carpenter Affair 
It's been over two years now since my first of a series of posts on the experiences of Leah Haley. Her journey through the 1990's ufology gauntlet included seeking information and support from the Mutual UFO Network and its then-director of abduction research, John Carpenter. Among her eventual discoveries was that Carpenter sold copies of information contained in the case files and hypnosis sessions of some 140 clients, including herself, to Robert Bigelow and his now dissolved National Institute for Discovery Science. The series of posts resulted in a visit to the blog from the principle reporter of the circumstances at the time, who provided comments in Gary Hart on the Carpenter Affair.  

Hart then helpfully collaborated at my request on the post, The Carpenter Affair: For the Record, which contained a timeline of the saga, as well as copies of relevant documents as provided by both Hart and Haley. It is crystal clear at this point that not only did MUFON and its leadership indeed fail to adequately inform research subjects of the full extents of their participation, but ignored its own code of ethics while covering up and minimizing significance of the Carpenter Affair.

Ethics in ufology were further considered in a two-part post, Ethics of Exploring the Fringe. The first part included statements generously provided by writer/researchers Sharon Weinberger and Nigel Watson. It's not always easy dealing with situations surrounding those who report extreme circumstances, and offering some respect while refraining from treating the witness like a ball in the game of ufology would be highly recommended. Such circumstances can hardly be considered without once again finding ourselves contemplating matters of the intelligence community, and part two included comments obtained from Mark Pilkington on UFO-themed operations, belief systems, hypnosis and more.

The UFO Trail gratefully thanks readers, participants and supporters for their interest throughout the year. If you haven't browsed my other blog, Orlando Paranormal Examiner, please give it a look, and subscribe if you find it of interest, as doing so is both helpful and highly appreciated.

Thank you for your interest and support. It is appreciated.

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