Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stanton T. Friedman IS Real!



My first documentary as a writer / director, made for Space and Bravo in 2001, released in 2002, about UFO researcher Stan Friedman.

Paul Kimball

Friday, October 23, 2009

Remembering Mac Tonnies, Vol. II

Greg Bishop, Mac and I at our best, from May 21, 2006.

Radio Misterioso.

An excerpt:



Paul Kimball

Remembering Mac Tonnies, Vol. I



I wanted to end Best Evidence with a statement from someone who represented the future of UFO research and thinking. There was no one more appropriate than Mac, who was the best of the new generation of forteans.

Paul Kimball

Mac Tonnies passes away...


My dear friend, Mac Tonnies, has passed away.

There is so much I could say. There is so much I will say in the days to come. But for the moment, all I can say is that one of the many, many things Mac and I shared in common - and something which our mutual pal Nick Redfern, from whom I heard this terrible news, always teased us about - was our devotion to the Smiths. The following was a favourite for both Mac and I...



The last time Mac was in Halifax, shooting some interview segments for a documentary produced by another company here, he and I went out one night for a short drive that turned into a three hour marathon drive to nowhere, as we listened to the Smiths and talked about life, and the universe, and UFOs, and all the others things that you talk about with best friends. About thirty kilometres outside of Halifax, I noticed that the light on the gas gauge had gone on, meaning I was running low. Out in the rural area where we were, at that time of night, there were no service stations open. I told Mac I thought we had enough to get back to town, but then I added, mischievously, that I wasn't sure, and we might have to hoof it, in November. He just looked at me, said "figures that the first time I ever 'ran out of gas' with someone it would be with you on a dark, lonely road in Nova Scotia." We both had a good laugh!


In the days and weeks to come, those are the good memories that I will cherish, and share here.

Mac's light, which burned brightly, but for far too short a time, will never go out.

R.I.P. Mac.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book of Thoth podcast interview

Jeremy Vaeni - Book Of Thoth Ep. 2- Paul Kimball
Found at bee mp3 search engine


An interview I did a couple of years ago for the Book of Thoth podcast.

Paul Kimball

Department 47 reviews Ghost Cases

A review of Ghost Cases, from an advance screener I sent to Joe Harvat at Department 47.
Paul was good enough to forward me an advance copy of Episode Two of Ghost Cases. I had the chance to watch it Friday night and I have to tell you I really enjoyed it.

Ghost Cases takes a little different approach from what you might be used to on Ghost Hunters. In this particular episode, Paul and Holly visited a rural farm house in which seemingly paranormal activity was making life pretty uncomfortable for its living occupants. I felt Paul and Holly took the time to tell you a little more about what these people were experiencing and how it affected their lives. Like in most UFO cases, the only concrete thing we usually have is the witnesses, and understanding them may give us our best clue to understanding the phenomenon. You also get to know a bit more about the hunters too. You understand that Paul and Holly are just normal people with normal fears and foibles who just happened to be engaged in an unusual activity.

Ghost Cases is not so technology-centric as Ghost Hunters. For example, they are assisted by a psychic in this case - something I believe that Ghost Hunters used to do but abandoned for a more science-based approach. I would certainly like to see a follow-up to the case to see whether the psychic's efforts had any real or lasting effect on the manifestations there.

As a former TV guy, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the production values and videography were quite good - at some points rather artistic. They kept a few miscues in it (people sometimes at a momentary loss for words and such). I liked that. It gave it more of a sense of reality - in stressful situations, sometimes you do struggle for words.

I hope they pick up the show down here. I think it would be a thoughtful counter-point to some of the overwrought shows we get in the States.
Thanks Joe - glad you like it!

Paul Kimball

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The perils posed by consipracists

There is an excellent op-ed piece in this week's Economist about the perils of believing in conspiracies under every rock.

An excerpt:

Belief in conspiracy theories can be comforting. If everything that goes wrong is the fault of a secret cabal, that relieves you of the tedious necessity of trying to understand how a complex world really works. And you can feel smug that you are smart enough to “see through” the official version of events.
You can read the entire article here.

Of course there are actual conspiracies, and always have been, but the Economist is quite correct when it warns that conspiratorial fantasy can have dangerous real-world consequences, from Timothy McVeigh to Adolf Hitler (and, I might add, some well known UFO cults too).

Those who believe in a particular conspiracy have the burden of proof of showing that their belief is backed up by the facts. In some cases, usually tied to more mundane matters of the real world, that is not only possible, but has been done. Accordingly, one can't just casually dismiss all claims of conspiracy, particularly in the private sector where oversight is less stringent, and where the profit motive can be a powerful motivator for greedy people to cross the boundaries of ethical behaviour, and then hide their malfeasance.

But those people who believe in vast, government-sponsored conspiracies, whether it's the Cosmic Watergate, or 9/11 "truthers", or anti-Obama "birthers", represent a different type altogether - they are predisposed to believe in almost any and all conspiracies, and should be viewed with extreme caution. People like this should be challenged at every turn to prove that what they say is true beyond any reasonable doubt.

In my experience, they usually don't even come close.

Paul Kimball

Monday, August 24, 2009

Best Evidence - The Rendlesham UFO case

Here is the segment from my film, Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings, which profiles the 1980 Rendlesham UFO case.



What happened at Rendlesham almost three decades ago? Some people are convinced that it was an encounter with aliens from outer space. Others maintain that it was a psychological warfare exercise. And a few, against all evidence to the contrary, still argue that nothing much happened at all, except for some over-excited American military personnel letting their imaginations run wild.

I don't know what the answer is - I just know that, for me at least, the explanation has nothing to do with misidentified lighthouses and excessive partying, or a practical joke. People took it seriously back then, and the case should continue to be taken seriously now, as one of the best, and still unexplained, UFO encounters in human history. That doesn't mean that Colonel Halt and his men met aliens from Zeta Reticuli, or anywhere else, but I think it's pretty clear that something out of the oridinary happened to them, and that there has been no definitive answer offered for what it was that fits all of the facts of the case.

That kind of stance angers alien believers and disbelievers alike - which is usually a pretty good sign that it's the proper way to look at things.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dick Hall passes away...

This is a sad day for me. Earlier, I received news that my good friend, Dick Hall, had passed away from cancer. Dick was a man whom I greatly respected, both as a person and as a serious UFO researcher. Indeed, when I was interviewed by Stuart Miller for UFO Review #17 a couple of years ago, Stuart, tongue firmly planted in cheek, chose as the title for the story: "I Like Dick".

Dick was an icon of serious UFO research, from his days with NICAP to his seminal works, The UFO Evidence, Vols. I and II. He was a rare voice of reason in a field full of charlatans, huxters, and died-in-the-wool true believers.

Dick had grown increasingly disenchanted with the UFO research community in recent years, and I don't blame him. In his heyday, he knew men like J. Allen Hynek, and James McDonald - now UFO research is the domain primarily of people like Steven Greer, and Steven Bassett. The likes of Dick Hall are few and far between these days, and UFO research is worse off because of it.

Dick hated UFO documentaries, and usually refused requests to be interviewed, so I was honoured when he agreed to be interviewed for my last UFO film, Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings. One or two of his clips made it into the film, but the rest remains in my tape archives - one of these days I'll make the time to edit it together and put it up on YouTube, so people can see and hear a real UFO researcher. Here is an outtake from Best Evidence that includes a clip of Dick talking about the Malmstrom missile base case:



The last few years were not kind to Dick, who was a victim of the financial disasters wrought by the Bush administration. Driven into poverty, he was forced to sell many of his prized UFO-related possessions. I was shocked when I went to interview him in Washington, D.C., to see the conditions in which he lived. I never pay interviewees, but I made sure Dick was an exception (we called it a "consulting fee").

Dick Hall was a giant in the world of serious UFO reseach, but more important than that, he was an honourable and decent person in a world with far too few such people. He will be sorely missed, even as his work lives on, and continues to inspire those of us who think there is something interesting about the UFO enigma, and that it's worth studying seriously.

Rest in peace, Dick.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Myth of the ETH as ETFact

The last column I wrote for Alien Worlds before it folded.

Paul Kimball

Above and Beyond
The Myth of the ETH as ETFact

Of all the non-terrestrial theories that have been offered to explain the UFO phenomenon, the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) has always seemed the most plausible one to me. I don't think it's been proved, but I think it's a better bet than the others on offer when one looks at the evidence, and the science.

The evidence seems to indicate that at least some UFO cases represent a non-human intelligence at work. The science now tells us that there are almost certainly other intelligent beings in the galaxy, and if they are more advanced than us, there's a reasonably good chance that they could make their way here.

However, it’s critical to remember that the key letter in ETH is the "H" - it's still just a hypothesis, and anyone who tells you that they can prove that aliens have visited Earth beyond a reasonable doubt, or even on the balance of probabilities, is putting the cart well before the horse.

Beyond that, however, I think the biggest problem with the ETH supporters within ufology is that they're so... "limited" in their outlook. They are convinced that aliens have visited Earth, and in many cases they are convinced that they are still visiting Earth, and interacting with humans in all sorts of ways, some good and some bad. They are of the "nuts and bolts" school of thought, i.e. Joe Alien made his way to Earth in a flying saucer, in much the same way that Captain Kirk and all of our other science fiction icons make their way about the galaxy.

This is what I call "Keyhoe-ian" ufology, because it is based directly on the way of thinking that Major Donald Keyhoe first put forward in the 1950s. It is out-of-date, and badly out-of-touch with modern science. It presumes that aliens are only a few decades, or maybe one or two hundred years or so more advanced than us, which is highly unlikely. It presumes that the aliens are preoccupied with us, and that we are somehow important to them, which is also highly unlikely. In short, it is a point of view that is based on what people who grew up in the pioneering days of sci-fi and the space race expect of their aliens, and not the point-of-view that modern physicists and astrobiologists take.

The pro-ETH as ETFact stance of people like Keyhoe and his successors, the most prominent of which has been the flying saucer physicist, Stanton Friedman, is a relic of a different time and place, which is ironic when one considers that these people often criticize scientists for not being open-minded about the UFO phenomenon, and for being stuck in the past.

If aliens are here, it is probable that they are far more advanced than we are, by an order of thousands of years, not hundreds. We would be to them as ants are to us - beneath their notice. This might well explain the inherent weirdness of many UFO sightings - things that appear to us almost as magic, or something that in a different era would have been framed in religious terms. As physicist Michio Kaku has noted, there may well be a galactic conversation going on, but in a "language" that we are thousands of years from being able to truly comprehend.

Of course, ETFact ufologists would quickly point out that there are at least a few humans who do indeed study ants - entomologists, which is true enough. But for them I have the following question: How many entomologists spend 60 years - or longer, if you are a proponent of the notion that ET has been coming here for centuries - studying the exact same ant hill?

That idea strikes me as ridiculous. It's a desperate attempt to force fit our own way of thinking onto potential life forms that would be far more advanced than we are - and they would have to be much more advanced in order to get here from there (ignore someone like Friedman, who will try to tell you about how it's actually relatively easy to get to our local galactic neighbours, if only we would try harder, and spend more money).

Again, I'm not saying that the ETH isn't a good hypothesis... indeed, as I noted before, I think it's the most plausible one amongst the various paranormal hypotheses on offer. It's the claim by nuts-and-bolts ufologists like Friedman and Keyhoe - and hucksters like Billy Meier - that ET is making his way here aboard flying saucers and acting like we do that I take issue with, because that contention is far more science fiction than science fact.

ETFacters Friedman and Keyhoe who try to convince you that aliens are basically just like us are no different from religious fundamentalists who portray God as a kindly, white-haired anglo saxon. Such portrayals tell you a great deal about the people who put those images and beliefs forward, but absolutely nothing about the possible entity or entities under discussion. The ETFacters are flying saucer fundamentalists, and in their own way they have done as much damage to the serious scientific study of the UFO phenomenon as people like Dr. Edward Condon, Dr. Donald Menzel, or Philip J. Klass.

By focusing on the idea that little green / grey men have been coming here in nuts and bolts spaceships, ETFacters have done a grave disservice to the search for truth about the UFO phenomenon, and its possible alien origins, in the same way that thousands of years of religious leaders have undermined the search for the true nature of God by force-fitting it into a limited paradigm that simply served to reinforce their own worldview. They have not sought wisdom, nor understanding - they have simply proclaimed an "answer" which has been no answer at all.

The reductionist approach that has been adopted by the ETFacters, which seeks to make potential alien life over unto our own image, lacks vision. It is more concerned with what they see as the destination, and their need to get there now, when what we should really be focusing on is the journey, and the wonders we may discover along the way. That's the real signal in all of this. Everything else is just noise.

The worst thing about all of this, however, is the hypocrisy that you find with many of the supposedly more serious members of the “ETFact group”. They are convinced that aliens are here, and interacting with humanity, but they are vocal critics of “exopolitics”, which simply takes the ETFact position to its logical conclusion.
Exopolitics, according to Dr. Michael Salla, one of its best known proponents, is:
“is the study of the key individuals, political institutions and processes associated with extraterrestrial life... exopolitics focus[es] on the political implications of an extraterrestrial presence known to clandestine quasi-governmental entities that keep knowledge of this presence secret from the general public, elected political officials & even senior military officials. The supporting evidence is overwhelming in scope and shows that decision making is restricted on a strict 'need to know' basis.”

Take the word "exopolitics" out of the equation, and that sounds like something Friedman would say. Indeed, if you've heard Friedman speak as many times as I have, you'll note the similarity in the main themes - aliens are here, government is covering up the knowledge of that fact, and we the people have a right to know the truth. At Salla's website for his "exopols courses", he even uses the motto "preparing for our cosmic graduation", which directly echoes Friedman's decades-old mantra that perhaps someday we will be ready to qualify for the cosmic kindergarten.

Friedman's biggest issue with exopolitics, at least in public, seems to be the fact that they are not terribly fussy about vetting their so-called witnesses and whistleblowers. In that respect, he's quite right. However, as more than one exopol has pointed out to me, Friedman has a history of touting his own very flawed witnesses (Gerald Anderson pops to mind right off the bat, followed closely by Glenn Dennis), and cases (Aztec, Flatwoods, flying saucer air wars in the 1950s, perhaps even Roswell).

Frankly, while I disagree with the very premise that underlies the exopolitical belief system (that at least some UFOs have been proved to be alien spacecraft), the more I think about it, the more I find the exopols to be more intellectually honest than people like Friedman, who agree with them on the big picture, but have done little or nothing to try and effect actual political change. The exopols have it right - if you believe aliens are here, and the government is covering it up, then that is a political issue of the highest order, and no longer a scientific one.

Friedman is the de facto Godfathers of Exopolitics - in large part, he created the "family" that is modern ETFact, "Cosmic Watergate" ufology, but like Vito Corleone, he is incapable of taking what he has created and moving it into its next logical phase. Indeed, like the Don, it is a phase that he wants nothing to do with, even as others around him, whom he has inspired, recognize the logical and inevitable implications of what he has been saying all of these years, and are prepared to act on it, no matter how much he protests.

The real scandal, however, is that Friedman, like other serious ETFacters, employs a double standard with absolutely no sense of irony when they run into people who question their position. Anyone they favour who is subjected to critical examination is a victim of “character assassination”, while people the ETFacters don't like, or whom they don't support, like Bob Lazar, or Philip Corso, or even Dr. J. Allen Hynek, are fair game (in Friedman’s universe, Hynek is "an apologist ufologist"). When you mention Dr. Jacques Vallee to them, they become even more desperate in their attacks. Anything that threatens to undermine the belief system they have constructed results in the ufological equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition.

People looking for the real scientific approach to the UFO phenomenon, the kind that was championed over the years by Hynek, Vallee, and Dr. James McDonald, should look elsewhere. Why? Because Hynek, McDonald and Vallee left us with myriad case investigations, new theories and ways of looking at the UFO phenomenon, sighting classification systems, and other important legacies. Even people like Friedman’s old classmate, Dr. Carl Sagan, left us with a sense of wonder about the prospect of ET life, even though he was no proponent of the ETH. On the other side, the ETFacters have left us with Roswell, MJ-12, Aztec, tales of massive flying saucer wars between the USAF and UFOs, and other stories that belong in a science fiction anthology, not a serious discussion of what the UFO phenomenon might or might not represent.

The shame is that someone like Friedman could have done so much more – if only he, like his ETFact fellow travelers, had not let their will to believe overwhelm their critical faculties. Those people who want the old time flying saucer / conspiracy gospel will feel right at home with them, because what they offer is comfortable, and provides a sense of continuity and familiarity, and even fraternity. What it does not offer, however, is an honest search for the truth about the UFO phenomenon.

It never did.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Seven Wonders of the Ufological World

One of the best things that happened to the UFO scene in 2008 was the arrival of Stuart Miller's magazine Alien Worlds. Alas, the magazine only lasted four issues, but in that time Stuart gave a number of writers the opportunity to talk about UFOs from some very interesting perspectives. I was one of those writers, and I'm proud to have been part of Stuart's adventure. Of the four columns I wrote, the following was my favourite. I've edited it slightly, only to take account of the passage of time.

ABOVE AND BEYOND by Paul Kimball
“The Seven Wonders of the Ufological World”

To many people, the UFO subject is a super-secret, paradigm-altering, world-changing excuse to be Grade A sticks-in-the-mud. Who are they? Well, you’ll know them when you see them, or more likely hear or read them, because they never get out and experience the real world. The rest of us, however, realize that you can study the UFO phenomenon seriously, and have some fun at the same time, and the world will not come to an end.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy oneself is travel. I figure that if the “real world” can have "Seven Wonders", the world of UFOs and ufology can have its own “Seven Wonders” - places that everyone interested in the subject of UFOs should visit before they shuffle off of this mortal coil. Some are related to actual UFO cases, some are related to the cultural phenomenon that is ufology, but all are worthwhile visits.

#7
The Aetherius Society HQ - Los Angeles, California, USA
You may not have heard of the Aetherius Society, which is a shame, because they’re an interesting bunch (featured prominently in the classic 1992 documentary Farewell Good Brothers). The organization was founded by the late George King in London in 1955 as the result of what King claimed were contacts with advanced extraterrestrial intelligences. The group's tax exempt status was recognized by the US in 1960, which was decades before the recognition of Scientology, and a decade before Rael hit the scene, which makes the Aetherians the first UFO- religion. Through what they call Operation Prayer Power, they claim to be able to store prayer energy in a Spiritual Power Battery. This spiritual energy, invoked through prayer, can be directed under tremendous concentration and released at a later date to areas of the world in need… or so they claim. The great thing is that every Thursday night, whether you believe or not, you can pop by their headquarters and participate in Operation Prayer Power! Also, since 1955 the Aetherius Society has offered free “Spiritual Healing” treatments to all who request it. They claim that this is a natural healing method, based on ancient principles of metaphysical science, to bring relief to those who need it. Who knows? You may even be able to commune with one of the Space Brothers. If not, their Los Angeles HQ is only a few minutes from Hollywood Boulevard, where you can always find some strange creatures!

# 6
International UFO Museum - Roswell, New Mexico, USA
Personally, I don’t really like Roswell – the UFO case, or the city. I think the focus on the Roswell case by UFO researchers has been bad for the serious study of the phenomenon as a whole. As for the city, let’s just say that if aliens did come down in that area, it must have been a crash, because I can’t imagine that they would have picked Roswell – either then or now - as a tourist destination. It’s harmless enough, mind you, in the “United States has a thousand other cities like this” kind of way, but there’s nothing special about it, especially in a state where the much more interesting places to visit, such as Taos and Santa Fe, and even Albuquerque, are father north. Still, it’s Roswell, which has become, much to my chagrin, the Holy Grail of ETH-centric ufology, so a trip there is probably going to satisfy that group, as well as conspiracy theorists. The best place to start is the International UFO Museum, which takes UFO kitsch and runs with it, but in a way that doesn’t make you feel dirty when you leave. The good news is that the time to visit Roswell is in the traditional summer vacation month of July, when the UFO festival is in full swing – it still attracts a fairly large crowd, and is a fun event. The bad news is that the worst time to visit Roswell, unless you like extremely hot and uncomfortable weather, is also in July (and August), so if unremitting heat isn’t your thing, you might want to skip the festivities and pop by in the fall.

# 5
International UFO Congress Convention & Film Festival - Aquarius Casino & Resort, Laughlin, Nevada, USA
Next to the Colorado River on the Nevada / Arizona border, Laughlin, Nevada is a town that I like to call “mini-Vegas” – it has casinos and hotels and glitz, but not so much in the way of glamour…. which is why I find it charming. That, and the fact that in late February and early March you can travel to Laughlin and hang out for a full week at the Aquarius Casino and Hotel with hundreds of other UFO-buffs, believers, aficionados, and the occasional skeptic, at the annual Convention & Film Festival of the International UFO Congress. At the 2007 conference, if you wandered down to the hotel bar late at night (or more likely early in the morning), you might have been able to have a few drinks with former MoD UFO guru Nick Pope, abduction kingpin Budd Hopkins, Rendlesham investigator and raconteur extraordinaire Peter Robbins, author Richard Dolan, or even yours truly. While the Convention features its fair share of speakers who are evidentially-challenged (including the obligatory bunch of Billy Meier hoax supporters), it’s a week with good-natured people who share an interest in fantastic stories, and maybe even a bit of truth. The film festival features some pretty good stuff, as well as some laughably bad groaners, and the closing gala is always a good time. Also, if you have a car, pop across the state border and over the mountains to Kingman, Arizona, which is the starting point for a nice hour-long jaunt along legendary Route 66, and which is where a crashed UFO was supposedly recovered by the USAF in the 1953 (the locals love it when you ask about that). Best of all, a ten minute drive will take you up into the mountains, where you can pull off to the side of the road, park the car, sit on the hood, and stare into the clear-as-a-bell night sky looking for UFOs!

# 4
UFO Landing Pad - St. Paul, Alberta, Canada
In honour of Canada’s 100th anniversary as an independent nation, the town of St. Paul, Alberta, decided to do something special in 1967 – indeed, it was something so special that it might even be said to be out of this world! The good citizens undertook, as a privately-funded centennial project, to build the world’s first UFO landing pad! Dedicated at the time by the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, and visited since by myriad dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II and Mother Theresa, the landing pad has endured for over forty years as a symbol of the hopes of St. Paul’s residents for a better tomorrow… and as a pretty unique tourist attraction! In 1993 the town added a flying-saucer shaped building which serves as St. Paul’s Chamber of Commerce, which should make it a first stop for any extraterrestrials stopping by Earth to check on trade opportunities. In 1996, an addition was built to the existing Tourist Information Center to house a UFO Interpretive Display, which shows photographs of UFOs, crop circles and cattle mutilations. Purchased from the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, it even shows ingenious methods to hoax the public, and is one of the two such displays in North America. What makes all of this even weirder is that St. Paul is also the home of Fern Belzil, a retired cattle rancher who is Canada’s leading cattle mutilation investigator. Pop by the Restaurant Chezlyne for lunch, and you may just catch Belzil there, always ready to chat about cattle mutes… although you might want to wait until after you have your hamburger!

# 3
Rendlesham Forest - Woodbridge, United Kingdom
Not only is Rendlesham Forest the site of one of the most famous UFO cases of the 20th century (it was voted #3 in my film Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings), but it's also a genuinely creepy place that has supposedly been home to all sorts of other weird incidents, from devil dogs to ghosts. Make your way to the charming town of Woodbridge, and then head out to the Forest, which is a few miles away. There you will find a UFO walking trail that takes you past the key places from the classic 1980 case, including the old Bentwaters airbase. As I said, the Forest is still very spooky, even if it isn't the same as it was at the time of the UFO incident due to damage wrought by a subsequent hurricane. The wind whistles through the trees, and it's no stretch to say that if you're there anytime near dusk you don't want to be alone! Even better, if you get lucky like I did when I was there in May, 2006, you'll get buzzed by a black helicopter, which will come in low and tight over the treetops - the sound echoes throughout the Forest as it approaches, which was actually pretty unnerving. There's a nice campground right next to the Forest that can serve as an overnight place to stay near all of the action for the really adventurous. Who knows - if you wander into the Forest at night, maybe you'll run into whatever Charles Halt and his men ran into almost three decades ago!

# 2
Area 51 - southern Nevada, USA
Area 51 is a remote tract of land in southern Nevada. Situated on the southern shore of a dry lakebed is a large military airfield, one of the most secretive places in the world. The base, which lies within the United States Air Force’s vast Nevada Test and Training Range, has as its primary purpose the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems. Other names used for the facility include Dreamland and Groom Lake. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the US Government barely acknowledges, has led it to become the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and UFO stories, thanks to the tall tales of people like Bob Lazar and Dan Burisch, many of which hold that the base contains crashed alien spacecraft, and even extraterrestrial beings, one of whom was supposedly named J-Rod. Of course, given the uber-secret nature of the base, you can’t actually get on it to have a look (and if you try the use of deadly force is authorized), but you can drive around the outskirts on the Extraterrestrial Highway, where you can make a stop in Rachel, Nevada, to visit the Little A’Le’Inn, which contains a small motel, gift shop and restaurant, where locals will regale visitors with stories of little green men… or grey men… or tall whites… or… well, you get the picture. Finally, if you really want a good bird’s eye view of Area 51, take a trip to the top of the Stratosphere Tower on the Las Vegas Strip. At 350 metres, the Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in Nevada, and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United States west of the Mississippi River, and is capped by the Top of the World restaurant, a rotating flying-saucer shaped section from where you can get a great view of the areas surrounding Sin City, including, on a clear night, Area 51. Who knows what you’ll see flying around?

# 1
The Integratron & Giant Rock - Landers, California, USA
For many in ufology, the Contactees were simply frauds and con artists. For some others, their stories were real, and they actually came in contact with aliens from other worlds. To me, they are best described as UFO performance artists – harmless, entertaining, and in a few cases true UFO bards, spinning fantastic tales that would have wowed the folks at King Arthur’s court. I don’t for a minute believe that they had actual contact with aliens, but I also don’t discount the possibility that a few might have had some experience, maybe even with aliens, any more than I discount the possibility that someone who tells me they felt the Holy Spirit might have had a real experience. Who can say? As with all things essentially spiritual, I remain a hopeful agnostic. Regardless, there is little doubt that the Contactee Movement had a profound effect on the development of ufology, and how the general public came to view the UFO phenomenon. From a cultural and sociological standpoint, it is an important piece of American history, in that it tells us a great deal about the people and attitudes of the 1950s and early 1960s. One of the most important Contactees was George Van Tassel, who in 1954 commenced building -- but never quite completed -- the Integratron, in the desert town of Landers, California. It was supposedly a domed time/energy machine based partially upon the theories of Nikola Tesla that was created to recharge and rejuvenate people’s cells, at the behest of an advanced entity with whom Van Tassel claimed to communicate telepathically. Not far away, Van Tassel lived at Giant Rock, which is exactly what the name indicates – a giant rock in the middle of the desert. Van Tassel hosted The Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention annually beside the Rock, from 1953 to 1978, a gathering that at its peak in 1959 attracted as many as 10,000 attendees. The history of Giant Rock and the Integratron is too rich to describe in detail here – the best way to discover it is to visit them yourself. Giant Rock is a bit worse for wear these days - a large chunk broke off a few years ago – but it’s still standing, as is the Integratron, which you can visit, and where you can experience a “sound bath” in the upper chamber that is great if you’re into meditation. You can even arrange to stay overnight, where you can sit in the courtyard and stare up at one of the clearest night skies you’ll ever see, and ponder whether Ashtar is waiting.



And there you have it – the seven wonders of the ufological world. There are other interesting places related to UFOs and ufology, of course (Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia pops to mind given its proximity to my home), but these seven are at the top of my list, and you won’t go wrong if you put them on yours too. So, when you sit down to plan your next vacation, skip Cancun or the Riviera, and take a trip that is truly “above and beyond” the norm… and maybe even out of this world, depending on who, or what, you might meet!

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Friedman on NASA



Stan Friedman discusses NASA, the space program, and space exploration in this clip from a pre-interview I conducted with him in May, 2001, for the documentary Stanton T. Friedman is Real.

I don't agree with Stan on much when it comes to UFOs, but we are on the same page when it comes to space exploration.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Roswell

Lately, the Roswell case has been the subject of discussion at a number of places, most notably Kevin Randle's blog A Different Perspective and the UFO Iconoclasts blog.

Roswell is a subject that I've addressed here in the past, particularly in The End of Roswellism and the Creation of a Ufological Third Way, wherein I talk about why the fixation with Roswell by UFO researchers has had a negative impact on serious UFO research. My conclusion about Roswell, and Roswellism (i.e. crashed flying saucers, government conspiracy stories, and the like), has not changed. I wrote:

What ufology needs, and has started to get in the past few years, is a “Third Way” of its own. My own version of this Ufological Third Way – which marks the end of Roswellism – is as follows:

1. Roswell is but one case. There are many others which provide more compelling evidence that the UFO phenomenon is real, and worthy of serious scientific, historical, journalistic and political attention.

2. Roswell remains unsolved, but is worthy of continued objective investigation until an explanation is finally proved.

3. The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is a very plausible explanation for the UFO phenomenon, and is worthy of serious scientific consideration, but remains unproved. Further, other possible explanations, including time travel, extra-dimensional travel, and the prospect that UFOs are terrestrial phenomena and devices of which we may or may not be aware, also deserve study and consideration.

4. The American government has not released all information it has pertaining to the UFO phenomenon; this is not proof, however, of a conspiracy of silence / Cosmic Watergate to keep the “truth” about extraterrestrial visitors / crashes from the public.
I also addressed Roswell, and Roswellism, seven years ago in my documentary, Stanton T. Friedman is Real:





There is no harm in a continued discussion of Roswell; I just don't think it's particularly productive, especially when that debate usually remains focused solely on the crashed flying saucer(s) vs. Project Mogul positions, with no new research on either side being offered; rather, it's just a re-hash of old positions with which everyone is pretty much familiar. The one guy who is doing new research into the Roswell case, Nick Redfern, is almost never mentioned. It's like a bar argument between old timer Red Sox and Yankees fans - they don't care about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, even though they're the team that actually made the World Series this year. The argument isn't about the actual fact or fiction of the Roswell case anymore; it's about the tribal instincts of each camp of followers, whether Mogul or alien. The questions that pop up are ones like: "who was the bigger liar, Charles Moore or Jesse Marcel, Sr.?" What both sides miss is that neither Moore not Marcel are very credible sources, but then their "debate" is not really about credibility, which would imply that there is an actual search for the truth involved. Rather, it's about defending their well-established positions. It is the intellectual equivalent of trench warfare.

So what is the answer when it comes to Roswell? It may be Mogul, but there are a number of flaws with that story. It may be aliens, but there are even more problems with the crashed flying saucer story than Mogul. Nick may well be on to something with his "third way". Although I think the witnesses presented in his book "Body Snatchers in the Desert" were problematic in many respects, he could well be right that the answer to Roswell lies in an explanation that comes from terra firma, but which represents a shameful secret that the United States government would still work to cover-up over sixty years later. You can follow his work at his blog, Darkness in the Desert.

The real answer, however, is that even if the truth was revealed, many people would still reject it. Roswell has become the stuff of legend, and arguments between fans of "this" theory or "that" theory. The truth doesn't really matter anymore; perhaps it never did. Perhaps what really matters is the telling of the story, and what it says about us and our capacity for creating our own "truths".

Paul Kimball

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Friedman on Sagan, science and UFOs



This is a clip from the pre-interview I did with Stan Friedman in May, 2001, prior to the making of the documentary Stanton T. Friedman is Real. In this part, Friedman discusses Dr. Carl Sagan, science, and UFOs.

Paul Kimball

Kimball on UFOs and Filmmaking



I appeared on the Eastlink program Aperture Atlantic this past season to discuss my career, filmmaking, and so forth. It seems I can't do an interview without the subject of UFOs coming up - this clip shows that segment, along with some remarks about the YouTube generation and UFO filmmaking.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some Sage Advice

The late Karl Pflock, in an interview I conducted with him on September 9, 2001, talking about what's wrong with UFO research.



He was right then; sadly, he's still right now.

Paul Kimball

Monday, February 02, 2009

Ghosts, UFOs and the Holographic Universe

In a post at his must-read blog UFO Mystic, which he co-writes with Nick Redfern, my good pal Greg Bishop has this to say about the UFO phenomenon:

In Michael Talbot’s seminal book The Holographic Universe, we find a clue to secrets about the UFO problem which mainstream Ufology has ignored. Talbot, looking at the work of physicists like Alain Aspect and David Bohm, posits that reality, the universe, and everything is akin to an infinite hologram, in which all things contain complete information about all other things.

What physicists call the “quantum field,” is also the “collective unconscious” of Jung, where archetypes arise, and where spontaneous and simultaneous events occur, independent of distance. Western occultists are convinced that this realm is where everything we experience (both in waking and dream states) resides, but we are only seeing and sensing a small piece of what it truly “is.” This “dimension” is not bound by time, space or our attempts to understand and more importantly, to explain it. Language traps us in a conceptual web of illusions, at least as far as this symbolic realm is concerned. We may imagine that our reality could be a sort of shadow or epiphenomenon of this holographic dimension, looked at through a mental web of expectations, sensory input, and our illusory flow through time.

I would like to suggest that this is where the intelligence behind the UFO phenomenon “resides.” Perhaps this intelligence is dependent on the observer for its form and appearance. Maybe the ufonauts are implicit in this realm or hologram or idea-space, and need only other sentient intelligences to bring them into being. The interaction becomes the existence. What I am trying to get across here is that at least part of the UFO “problem” may be in our heads. Most of us, through cultural conditioning and input from our senses look at the physical universe as parts or pieces of some sort of infinite “machine.”
Greg has raised the point in a comment on another post here that this same theory may apply to the phenomenon we call "ghosts". In some ways this ties in, as Greg noted, with my idea that ghosts may represent a form of "time travel", or at least a kind of temporal remote viewing.

If ghosts exist - and I am still far from convinced that they do - I suspect that they have far more to do with the kind of phenomenon that Greg is talking about, than the traditional idea that they represent the spirits of the dead. I am also open to the theory of residual hauntings, i.e. that an event has been recorded which at a particular place which plays itself back to people in the present day, so that an "impression" remains, but not of a person's consciousness.

Paul Kimball

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ghosts and Time Travel

Assume for the moment that ghosts are real, in the sense that they represent an anomalous, paranormal phenomenon (or at least some of them do). As with UFOs, that begs the question: what are they?

Again, as with UFOs, there may well be myriad answers. The one that most people latch onto right off the bat is that ghosts are the spirits of deceased people who remain in touch, somehow, with our plane of existence. The other popular answer that I hear most often is that what we think of as ghosts are, in at least some cases, demons of some sort.

Perhaps. But what if ghosts are something else? Could it be possible that what we see or experience as a ghost represents a break in the continuum of time? In other words, if we view time as not a linear construct, but rather a wave, or even a loop, could we be looking backwards (or perhaps even forwards) in time when we observe a ghost, or similar phenomena? The person we see or experience, assuming that they are from the past, is in all likelihood dead (although if it's the recent past they may well still be alive, in our time), but as we observe them it is as if through a portal, fleeting though it may be, to the past - in short, they are still alive when we are looking at them, at least in their time.

This strikes me as just as plausible an answer for ghosts than the "spirits of the dead" idea (although the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive). Religious scholars have always spoken about some manifestation of an "eternal now" (Henry Alline, who I studied in college, was one; Paul Tillich was another - see here). Scientists now openly speculate that human-initiated time travel in some form or another might be possible. But what if the "time travel" is occurring naturally, as opposed to the human-created forms we usually dream about?

Maybe, just maybe, when we see a manifestation of someone dressed as if they were in the 1890s, they really are still in the 1890s... even as they are, for a moment in time, also in 2009.

Paul Kimball

Monday, January 05, 2009

The 2008 Zorgy Awards


The polls are now closed, and the results are in - here are your winners, and everyone else:

Top Podcast (378 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award winner
Binnall of America - 196 votes (52%)
Others
The Paracast - 114 votes (30%)
Strange Days Indeed - 42 votes (11%)
Radio Misterioso - 20 votes (5%)
Culture of Contact - 6 votes (2%)
Paul Kimball's pick
Strange Days Indeed

Top Troublemaker (179 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
David Biedny - 88 votes (49%)
Others
James W. Moseley - 37 votes (21%)
Alfred Lehmberg - 20 votes (11%)
Jeremy Vaeni - 18 votes (10%)
Rich Reynolds - 16 votes (9%)
Paul Kimball's pick
James W. Moseley

Top Publication (285 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
Fortean Times - 133 votes (47%)
Others
UFO Magazine - 65 votes (23%)
Fate - 44 votes (15%)
Alien Worlds - 26 votes (9%)
Saucer Smear - 17 votes (6%)
Paul Kimball's pick
Alien Worlds


Top Paranormal Researcher (557 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
Loren Coleman - 275 votes (49%)
Others
Stanton T. Friedman - 95 votes (17%)
Nick Redfern - 82 votes (15%)
Jeff Belanger - 70 votes (13%)
Nick Pope - 35 votes (6%)
Paul Kimball's pick
Nick Redfern

Top Messageboard (613 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
Above Top Secret - 448 votes (73%)
Others
The Paracast - 65 (11%)
Binnall of America's USofE - 49 votes (8%)
Book of Thoth - 43 votes (7%)
Department 47 - 8 votes (1%)
Paul Kimball's pick
Department 47

Top Blog (205 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
UFO Mystic - 107 votes (52%)
Others
Posthuman Blues - 49 votes (24%)
Entangled Minds - 25 votes (12%)
A Different Perspective - 14 votes (7%)
aboutSeti - 10 votes (5%)
Paul Kimball's pick
Posthuman Blues

Top Paranormal News Service (420 total votes)
2008 Zorgy Award Winner
The Daily Grail - 301 votes (72%)
Others
The Anomalist - 75 votes (18%)
The Debris Field - 25 votes (6%)
Alien Worlds - 14 votes (3%)
The Keyhoe Report - 5 votes (1%)
Paul Kimball's pick
The Daily Grail

And so it goes. Winners are entitled to proudly display the 2008 Zorgy Award Winner seal, which is forthcoming this week. Thanks to everyone who popped by to vote - see you again next year!


Paul Kimball