Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hunt for the Skinwalker-DIA Connection

Claims of intelligence agency involvement in UFO and paranormal research have been abundant since the 2017 NYT story on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Some of the suspicions of relationships between the intelligence and UFO communities were confirmed and others are certainly warranted. Yet other such connections are rather loosely formed and lack substantiation while nonetheless increasingly taken for granted as common knowledge. 

Alleged Defense Intelligence Agency involvement at Skinwalker Ranch is one such often vaguely described circumstance. While a significant Skinwalker-DIA connection may eventually prove valid to some extent, its verification is elusive. It's important we proceed carefully in drawing conclusions, and perhaps wait to do so until adequate evidence is readily available.

George Knapp has long been central to the Skinwalker saga. On the heels of the well known NYT story, Knapp reported NIDS work at the ranch and his related book "caught the attention of the DIA and Senator Reid." Perhaps so. It would be both helpful and interesting to know what specific DIA personnel, as well as how the events unfolded. 

Others have been much more direct and conclusive in putting the DIA at Skinwalker, though evidence is lacking and not in proportion to their seeming certainty. In statements published in June at Mysterious Universe, filmmaker Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell discussed what he described as learning about DIA involvement at the ranch. "The DIA attempted to scientifically investigate the occurrences experienced at Skinwalker Ranch," Corbell further stated.

"The fact that the United States government was involved at all is fascinating," he added. The full paragraph, quoted for context:

Like most people, I first heard about Skinwalker Ranch from the book, Hunt For The Skinwalker by George Knapp and Dr. Colm Kelleher. I was initially drawn by the stories about a broad scale of paranormal events, and my interest was cemented years later when I learned about the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) involvement, even though I could not publicly acknowledge it. The DIA attempted to scientifically investigate the occurrences experienced at Skinwalker Ranch. Investigators used the unique location as a “living laboratory,” attempting to understand for themselves the varied phenomena that display on and around the property. One of the aims was to determine if The Phenomenon presented a threat to National Security, and another was to attempt to determine the mechanisms utilized by The Phenomenon. The fact that the United States government was involved at all is fascinating.

A request for further comment was sent to an email address offered at Corbell's website. I asked if a source could be provided for the assertion the DIA was involved at Skinwalker Ranch. Also requested were comments and supporting materials that would help clarify such involvement. Corbell did not immediately respond.

I empathize a great deal with finding such info of interest, but I strongly urge those relaying it to provide the supporting docs and sources if possible. I'd also encourage the rest of us to delay making up our minds about the circumstances until such supporting evidence is publicly available.

Moreover, I invite consideration we can't know if such work was actually scientific if we aren't informed how it was conducted and what took place. Casual and incorrect use of the term "scientific" to describe activities undertaken in UFO and paranormal genres should often receive much more scrutiny, in my opinion. That's the case whether or not Corbell may prove to be correct about his expressed understandings of the Skinwalker situation.

Robert Bigelow
In years past I sought evidence through the Freedom of Information Act for IC involvement with Robert Bigelow-founded organizations National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) and Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS). FOIA requests submitted to multiple agencies returned no results, but I did not specifically query DIA until more recently. 

A request submitted to DIA in late 2017, seeking copies of contracts undertaken with and funding provided to NIDS, resulted in no responsive documents. In the wake of the latest wave of assertions that Skinwalker research involved DIA, I additionally asked specifically about BAASS. I submitted an FOIA request to DIA seeking contracts and files pertaining to BAASS. To be clear, this is not the same as previous yet to be filled FOIA requests seeking documents concerning the AATIP. DIA responses are pending on involvement with BAASS as well as records on the AATIP.

There are several complications with the increasingly popular assertions of the Skinwalker-DIA connection. The time frame becomes a point of question, and Bigelow's involvement is a potential source of confusion. The overlapping presence of various researchers and personnel of TTSA, intelligence agencies, and Bigelow organizations may also lead to incorrect assumptions and premature conclusions. 

Luis Elizondo of To The Stars Academy
Some of the vague generalizations offered by not just interested parties, but sometimes TTSA leaders and self-described insiders, are troubling, or at the least lack substantiation. It is such very generalizations that tend to cause some researchers to suspect several UFO-related topics are being haphazardly inserted into discussions of the scope of the AATIP. Some of those topics may in actuality amount to little more than recreational and unofficial interests of those formerly involved in the AATIP. The bottom line is details must be verified, not just inferred or asserted absent documentation.

Personally, I suspect the intelligence community may well have been officially involved in research at Skinwalker Ranch. However, I am not convinced the purposes were entirely limited to the more popularly accepted assumptions or, if so, that the work bore substantial results. I'm also not convinced the acting agency necessarily or exclusively would have been DIA. Most of all, I'd prefer to suspend judgment until conclusive information is actually available.

Verifying any such involvement, establishing if it was related to science-based research, and identifying the objectives remain critical to understanding the full extent of the situation. We simply cannot do so until we have the opportunities to view authentic documents clarifying funding entities, project objectives, methodologies, means of measuring progress, and similar relevant information.  

Perhaps in the end what TTSA, Bigelow orgs, and the Skinwalker saga teach us, at least in part, is that if people desire to present information in coherent, systematic and clear ways, they do so. If the issues are muddled and confusing, perhaps we should more deeply consider the extent they actually want us to fully understand their activities. It is not our responsibility to go behind people making claims and fact-check their statements; it is their responsibility to offer conclusive evidence in the first place when they frame their claims as fact. 

The only way to actually gain insight into what an intelligence agency claims took place within any given project is to obtain the verifying documents. If people cry foul, trying to lead us to believe otherwise and relax our standards, it is completely reasonable to inform them conclusions cannot be drawn until the available evidence allows. 


  1. Maybe by "Defense Intelligence Agency involvement at Skinwalker Ranch," they mean something like "John Alexander went there."

  2. I gotta agree with Sheaffer. I have no qualms about passing judgement on the entire Skinwalker Ranch circus, beginning with the Knapp/Kelleher book. From where I'm sitting, it looks like a money-making scheme aimed at the more credulous in the UFO/paranormal community, those who are always willing to throw some money at anything that appears to prove their beliefs.

    What better way to give Skinwalker a patina of respectability and validity than to make unsubstantiated claims than a US intelligence agency was a) onsite conducting research or b) providing funding for onsite UFO/paranormal "researchers"?

    Until a) DIA documentation is uncovered that substantiates the claim of its involvement in Skinwalker or b) the "research" is documented and published in well-known, respected peer-reviewed scientific journals, the onus remains on the Skinwalker circus troupe to prove to us that their claims are true. Absent the above, they’ve don’t deserve a shred of respect and trust.

    Jack, you're a consummate gentleman by giving them the benefit of the doubt. I'm not a lady and willing to say publicly I think they're running a con, and I’ll continue to express that opinion until it’s conclusively proven to be otherwise.

    1. Please provide proof of a con being run if you want proof that it isn't a con. You don't believe it, so therefore everyone involved is a snake oil salesman? That's a pretty big net you cast and quite the gavel you have there judge.

      Skinwalker is a money making scheme? Who got rich? I don't see a justification for their need to use a fake intel interest story to drum up legitimacy, what are they going to sell by doing so? 95% of the people I talk to at work still don't know anything about Skinwalker Ranch, the media doesn't care. Bigelow hasn't and still isn't selling books, t-shirts, coffee cups, or building a hotel there. Jeremy Corbell, if trying to get rich, he sure picked an obscure topic to get rich off of, and to be frank, a pretty long and passive movie that doesn't exactly excite and bring in the Avengers-Star Wars crowd. George Knapp rarely divulges much over the last 20 years and already published his book, and he isn't rich. And Bigelow is even more tight lipped. So what would be the motivation to lie about it? Where is some evidence of this cash cow con-game you see?

    2. We can start with royalties from the book, then we move onto Bigelow ponying up for the charade, then we have all those conference appearances with honoraria, now a documentary ...

      Maybe not big money, but some pretty nice extra walking around change to have jingling in your pocket in addition to your regular income (and you also get someone else to fund your hobby).

      Sorry, nothing you said will either change my opinion, make me question it, or make me stop expressing it.


    3. I don't get your math. So one book, some free weekend trips to conferences, and a niche documentary (well science fiction if you are correct about a con), are worth 20+ years of effort on a con job? Meanwhile how much was spent on security, academic professors, infrastructure, flights to the ranch, housing, travel, and food? All so George Knapp can make some side money and can keep working his job at KLAS? Jeremy Corbell was barely out of high school when this started up so surely they didn't do this for him. How many people are in on this charade...the neighbors and Utes too?

      Well if nothing will change your opinion or make you question it, then that's a belief system and not very helpful in searching for answers. I'm not sure why you put the time in to visit these subjects when life is short.

    4. James Carrion's work on the Skinwalker (Sherman) Ranch deserves inclusion in the discussion, IMO. From p223 of 'The Greys Have Been Framed':

      "James Carrion, in his ongoing research, documented
      contradictions and inconsistencies put forth by NIDS.34 Carrion reported that individuals, including family members of the former Skinwalker Ranch owners, stated that accounts of supposed high strangeness related to the property were
      exaggerated or entirely misrepresented. Moreover, while serving as the MUFON International Director, Carrion and an
      accompanying scientist visited the ranch but were denied

      Further reading from the original source cited, which is Carrion's 2011 blog post, 'Hunting the Skinwalker':

    5. This is the statement I would want to know more about, but is it family members or a family member? I just see a brother mentioned in the blog, maybe I missed something, it is Monday:

      "Through Dr. Salisbury, we were able to interview the brother of the original owner of the ranch who sold it to the Shermans who subsequently sold it to Bigelow. The ranch owner’s brother was adamant that there was no UFO or strange activity on the ranch prior to the Sherman’s purchase, contrary to what was discussed in the Skinwalker Book and that he (the owner’s brother) had personally received a call from Bigelow trying to convince him otherwise."

      I'd like to hear more from this family. I have no doubt hyperbole is being used to some degree...Corbell is definitely a salesman and pushes the hype and Knapp is definitely a great reporter and how he presents these and other non-paranormal stories. The movie was a disappointment to me, less stories more proof and more 2nd opinions of the proof. Most reviewers have complained of this, you don't convince skeptics with stories.

      Have you been to the area Jack or near the ranch? Not roping you into anything or criticizing, just curious. If you do, make sure you schedule the more tangible Dinosaur National Monument, fossil hikes, and's not the tourist crush of other Utah parks. Make the trip worth your while.

    6. No, Unknown, I've never been to Utah. You or others might find the following items of further interest.

      A 1996 AP article on claims by the Shermans, the former ranch owners, of unusual events, yet the article also states the claims were prior to sale of the ranch, and, afterword, Terry Sherman declined to comment due to a non-disclosure agreement. The article also documents Col. Alexander acting as a spokesperson for NIDS while stating he would not provide details of how or why the research was being conducted. I'd note it's pretty difficult to assess the work under such circumstances. The article:,6235898

      Readers might also view previous comments James Carrion made about Skinwalker and deception being inherent to ufology:

    7. Just to add: Gabe and Greg Valdez (Sheriff and one of his sons of Dulce, NM fame) felt that Skinwalker Ranch was being utilized by unnamed government interests for some sort of research and subsequently the area was turned into a Dulce 2 for cover purposes.

      I believe the property sits right along a reservation and that is prime real estate for certain research and development interests since certain US laws don't apply on Native American land.

  3. Actually, I discussed this very topic with George Knapp in a recent interview that will answer some of your questions:

    And of course, the best reference for these claims is Knapp's article:

    Knapp references interviews with Elizondo and Reid. Knapp of course wrote the book on Skinwalker, and is an award winning investigative journalist, so he also serves as a credible source.

    IMHO, I think this sourcing is sufficient enough for Corbell to make the claims he made in the film.

    1. Perhaps deeper consideration is warranted that if it remains a matter of opinion as to whether sufficient evidence has been provided to support a claim which was asserted as a fact, then it hasn't.

  4. The link above to the Knapp article (re: Skinwalker and DIA) is as dead as the Roswell alien.

  5. George Knapp is/was in the employ of Robert Bigelow. He signed non disclosure agreements to keep quiet. Do you really think Knapp is going to rock the boat or tell the public anything meaningful?

  6. The reports indicate a possible non terrestrial interest in an area well known to the Ute nation. Naturally, this would be of defense significance. Probably very little will be learned about government involvement (without great risk) which doesn't mean there was none. There is, however, a great deal to learn from Native Americans about this location, who's residence in the area predates Mr. Knapp, Dr. Kelleher, Mr. Bigelow, and other persons. While Native Americans may not always have PhD's, they are pretty long in experience. To casually dismiss hundreds of years of direct residential experience because it doesn't conform to our preconceived notions is unscientific.

    1. You don't have to dismiss the years of residential experience. These people experienced "something". But, what is this "something"? There are natural phenomena that can cause changes in perception and possibly contribute to a paranormal experience in a person. For instance, Magnetic fields and their influence on the brain is still poorly understood but the documents that have leaked out of classified literature over the years suggest an intriguing link. If some geographic areas possess stronger fields than it might explain how they develop a reputation for "high strangeness". Just a thought.