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Should Our Scientists Take UFOs and Ghosts More Seriously?

Article by John Horgan                             May 18, 2020                              (scientificamerican.com)

• Leslie Kean (pictured above) is a co-author of the 2017 New York Times front-page article on Pentagon investigations of UFOs. (see ExoArticle here “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program”). She is also the author of the 2010 bestseller UFOs: Generals, Pilots, And Government Officials Go On The Record and also her 2017 book Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife. John Horgan, who has a hard time believing in ghosts and alien visitations, interviewed her to ask about UFOs and the paranormal.

• Kean tells Horgan that she wasn’t interested in UFOs and the paranormal until she reached adulthood. When she was a child, she believed in the “supernormal magic” of Santa Clause because he took a bite from the Christmas cookies she left out which proved he was real. When she learned that Santa didn’t exist, she felt betrayed by “the authorities” – her parents – for lying to her. “Something precious had been taken away”” says Kean. “Maybe at some unconscious level this led me to want to find out what’s real and to prove the so-called authorities wrong.”

• When Kean was a freelance writer in 1999, she came across a 90-page ‘COMETA Report’ by retired French generals, police, scientists and an admiral. (see COMETA reports Part 1 here and Part 2 here) The group had spent three years documenting official military and aviation UFO cases. Their conclusion was that the “extraterrestrial hypothesis” was the most valid and logical one to explain the data. Their report proposed that pilots be trained on how to respond to UFOs to avoid future mishaps or even dangerous accidents. Given the stature and credibility of the group, Kean published a lengthy article based on the COMETA Report for the Boston Globe in May, 2000.

• Whether UFOs might be piloted by aliens, “I …will not rule it out,” says Kean. “There are many possibilities on the table. I have made the point over and over that we do not know what these objects are, and that’s where things stand.” “My book concluded that (the UFO) phenomenon exists, without question. …It’s physical, and well documented, even by our government. But what these objects are is another question…. (which) has led to all kinds of speculation. These flying machines, whatever they are, might not even have any drivers at all, for all we know.”

• The best evidence we have that UFOs have an extraterrestrial origin is the “extremely advanced technology that the objects have displayed since the 1950’s. They demonstrate tremendous speed and accelerations, the ability to make sharp right-angle turns, stand still in midair, zoom off and disappear in the blink of an eye, and operate under water. They appear to defy the laws of aviation as we know it, since they have no wings or visible means of propulsion. The documentation goes back more than 60 years, when no one on this planet had technology like this.”

• Kean says she doesn’t know what to make of alien abduction experiences. “I know sane, intelligent people who report such events, and some even have physical evidence of them. Their lives have been turned upside down by these experiences. … It points to the greater complexity of this issue which goes beyond any simple hypothesis.”

• What does Kean say about journalists like Keith Kloor who accused Kean’s NYTimes article as “thinly-sourced and slanted”? “I simply don’t agree with Kloor’s statement,” says Kean. “[I was] one of three people writing the Times stories, which include scrutiny by fact-checkers and multiple editors.” “[I] will continue to cover the (UFO) topic whenever we can.”

• Astrophysicist Katie Mack, said in Scientific American, that she doesn’t take alien spaceships seriously enough to debunk them. Kean says that she understands Mack’s position, as UFOs might not be “alien spaceships” at all. “[A]ny question about alien spaceships misses the point,” says Kean. “These are unknowns, plain and simple. But they are physically real. They interact with military pilots and commercial aircraft. Therefore, they deserve investigation.”

• “During the ten years I was investigating UFOs, I had been intrigued by the question of the possible survival of consciousness when we die,” says Kean. “I had poked around into some of the research, especially the work of Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia studying young children with verified past life memories. …This was another big mystery facing human beings: what happens when we die?” So Kean wrote the book: Surviving Death. “Most of my “paranormal” experiences occurred during the time I was involved in the (book’s) research, which began in 2012,” says Kean. “The experiences I had were beyond my imagination. They were life-changing. …So writing Surviving Death was a journey of discovery which unfolded while I was writing it.”

• In Surviving Death, Kean didn’t make any “claims about life after death” that she felt could discredit her as a writer. “I invited others to write their own chapters, and they said things that I didn’t say. My conclusion was that the evidence was suggestive (of life existing after death), but not definitive.” Kean received what appeared to be after-death communications from [her] brother, saw an apparition, and experienced genuine physical mediumship. “I think my narrative would have remained one-dimensional and abstract without this personal element. …It would have been dishonest to omit them, because they impacted my thinking and my effort to come to terms with many remarkable phenomena” while remaining analytical and discriminating with everything else. “The tricky aspect lies in the interpretation of the extraordinary events, not in their reporting.”

• “Paranormal phenomena exist,” insists Kean. “They seem to operate outside the limits of the current materialistic framework adapted by most scientists, while at the same time, nobody can explain what consciousness actually is. …I find it astonishing that there are still some scientists who adapt the position that ‘it can’t be, therefore it isn’t.’ …I have witnessed many paranormal phenomena myself, and I know they exist. Those who don’t want to believe these things will dismiss them no matter what they read.”

• “Cases of very young children who report accurate details of a past life, complete with nightmares about the previous death and knowledge from the previous career, are compelling when the memories can be verified and the previous person is identified,” says Kean. “Cases of responsive apparitions are also interesting – these “forms” demonstrate intelligence by reacting to multiple human observers, and sometimes provide information through telepathy about their lives on earth which are verified to be true.” “There is a wealth of literature on all of this,” says Kean. “[In] the words of William James: “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that all crows are black; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”

• The ‘life after death’ question centers “around the nature of human consciousness and its manifestations that appear to transcend the limitations of the brain. …Who are we really? Biological robots, or something else?” asks Kean. “I think all aspects of “superhuman” functioning – precognition, clairvoyance, telepathy, psychokinesis, and energy healing – should be taken seriously. They have been well documented. Where is the curiosity among scientists about the mysteries of the unknown?”

• Keans says that at first she was “skeptical about claims of alien visitations as being the simplistic answer to the UFO question. I was a skeptic about the afterlife when I began my work on that topic. It was my personal experiences that opened my eyes.” “Some ‘parapsychologists’ and other scientific investigators are doing brilliant work on all of this, but they are hampered by the mainstream scientific community’s irrational disrespect. Someday that dam will break.”

 

Like many long-time readers of The New York Times, I was shocked when the staid old paper published, in 2017, a front-page article on Pentagon investigations of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. This article, plus a shorter sidebar and a 2019 follow-up, heartened those who believe that extraterrestrials have visited us and annoyed skeptics like my friend journalist Keith Kloor. Last December, I met journalist Leslie Kean, a co-author of the Times articles and sole author of the 2010 bestseller UFOs: Generals, Pilots, And Government Officials Go On The Record, at a week-long symposium on challenges to conventional scientific materialism, about which I wrote here. At the meeting, which took place at the Esalen Institute in California, Kean talked about the possibility of life after death, a topic she explores in her 2017 book Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (which includes chapters from other contributors). Kean and I hit it off. I told her that, although I have a hard time believing in ghosts and alien visitations, I admire the courage and professionalism with which she investigates these topics. I also enjoy talking to smart people whose views diverge from mine, like renegade biologists Rupert Sheldrake and Stuart Kauffman. So last week, after the Times published yet another UFO story by Kean and her collaborator Ralph Blumenthal—which triggered more pushback from Kloor–I emailed Kean a few questions. – John Horgan

Horgan: When I was a kid, I was obsessed with UFOs and the paranormal. Were you like that too?

               John Horgan

Kean: No, not until I was an adult. Although I do remember having mystical feelings about Santa Claus as a young child. It happened when I saw that my cookies, carefully placed next to the Christmas tree, had been nibbled on by Santa during his visitation into my world the previous Christmas Eve. It was solid evidence that something magic, something “supernormal” had actually occurred. This fantastical being who could be everywhere at once had been in my living room and left behind a physical bite mark to prove his existence. The authorities of the day, my parents, confirmed it. I felt momentarily transported, expanded, into a new level of connection to something big and mysterious. That may sound silly, but it was true. When I found out the truth about Santa later, I felt betrayed. Something precious had been taken away. My parents weren’t trustworthy because they lied to me. Maybe at some unconscious level this led me to want to find out what’s real and to prove the so-called authorities wrong. I’m not totally serious, but I suppose it’s possible.

Horgan: When and why did you first decide to write about UFOs? Was there any particular triggering event?

Kean: My serious interest in UFOs as a journalist began in 1999 when I was working as an on-air host and producer for public radio and publishing as a freelancer. I unexpectedly received an explosive 90-page report titled UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For? by retired French generals, police, scientists and an admiral. The report intended to “strip the UFO phenomenon of its irrational layer”. The group had spent three years documenting official military and aviation UFO cases. Most stunning was their conclusion: that the “extraterrestrial hypothesis” was the most valid and logical one to explain the data. Of course there was no proof, only an hypothesis. The authors were concerned about the national security implications of the phenomenon and proposed that pilots be trained on how to respond to UFOs to avoid future mishaps or even dangerous accidents. Given the stature and credibility of the group, I thought this was a huge story. I published a lengthy article based on the report, known as the COMETA Report, for the Boston Globe in May, 2000, which required overcoming the reservations of a very nervous editor. [See links to the COMETA Report here and here.] That’s what set me on this path, and there was no turning back. And two decades later, I can hardly believe how things have changed. [See this Times story by Ralph Blumenthal for more background on Kean’s UFO coverage.]

Horgan: One admirer of your book UFOs describes you as an “agnostic” on whether UFOs are actually piloted by aliens. When I met you at Esalen, you struck me as a believer, not an agnostic. Am I wrong?

Kean: Piloted by aliens? I have an open mind, but no, I don’t believe that and have never said that. But I also will not rule it out. There are many possibilities on the table. I have made the point over and over that we do not know what these objects are, and that’s where things stand. My book concluded that a phenomenon exists, without question, named “unidentified flying objects” by the US Air Force in the 1950’s. It’s physical, and well documented, even by our government. But what these objects are is another question. That’s what everyone wants to know, and that desire has led to all kinds of speculation. On that question my 2010 book was agnostic, and it was recognized as such. These flying machines, whatever they are, might not even have any drivers at all for all we know.

Horgan: What is the best single piece of evidence that UFOs have an extraterrestrial origin?

Kean: The extremely advanced technology that the objects have displayed since the 1950’s. They demonstrate tremendous speed and accelerations, the ability to make sharp right-angle turns, stand still in midair, zoom off and disappear in the blink of an eye, and operate under water. They appear to defy the laws of aviation as we know it, since they have no wings or visible means of propulsion. The documentation goes back more than 60 years, when no one on this planet had technology like this. In some cases, experts, such as officials from the French Space Agency, had enough data to rule out all conventional explanations (meaning it wasn’t something natural or man-made). These cases represent only a small fraction of those reported, but they are the ones that matter. So, what are we left with?

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Once Upon a Time, Betty and Barney Hill Told a Story That Was Out of This World

by Ray Duckler            March 17, 2018              (concordmonitor.com)


• This article recounts the alien abduction case of Betty and Barney Hill (pictured above) in 1961. Betty was a white college graduate and a social worker, and her black husband, Barney, was an honored member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The couple were driving from Canada back home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when they encountered the UFO.

• As Betty and Barney Hill drove south on Route 3 through the White Mountain National Forest, they reached Indian Head Resort where the encounter first occurred. Today, a green historical marker near Indian Head Resort reads: “On the night of September 19-20, 1961, Portsmouth, NH couple Betty and Barney Hill experienced a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and two hours of ‘lost time’ while driving south on Route 3 near Lincoln. They filed an official Air Force Project Blue Book report of a brightly-lit cigar-shaped craft the next day, but were not public with their story until it was leaked in the Boston Traveler in 1965.”

• Between the Indian Hill Resort and Lincoln NH, Barney noticed cigar-shaped UFO hovering above the tree-line. He stopped and got out to take a look. Through his binoculars he could see humanoid beings in the UFO’s windows looking back at him. Barney immediately ran back to the car yelling at Betty that they had to leave. Their car began to vibrate and they both felt a tingling sensation. This is when they lost all memory, which was later regained through hypnosis. They recalled that by the time they had driven past Lincoln and were almost to Thornton NH, a group of aliens blocked their car on Route 3 and took the couple aboard the UFO craft.

• Barney described the beings as having spindly legs, a bulky torso, cat-like eyes, and they wore shiny black uniforms. Betty recalled throwing a punch or a kick, which might explain why her dress was torn. She said they tried to probe her naval but it hurt so much that they stopped. They were examined by the alien beings on board the UFO for two hours.

• The next thing that Betty and Barney Hill knew, they were again driving on Route 3, thirty miles south of Thornton near Ashland. By sunrise, they reached their home in Portsmouth. They reported their UFO sighting to the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. Continuing to suffer from severe anxiety, Barney went to see Boston psychiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Simon. Dr. Simon hypnotized Barney and learned that his anxiety was caused by his belief that he and his wife had been abducted by aliens. Betty’s description of the event, also made under hypnosis, matched up closely with Barney’s.

• In 1965, a Boston journalist got a tip on the encounter and ran with the story, although the Hills declined requests for an interview. The Hills took refuge from the ensuing media storm at Betty’s mother’s house in Kingston NH near the Massachusetts border. Barney died in 1969 at age 46 from a brain aneurysm. A book and a movie were eventually made based on the UFO abduction. Betty recovered from a brain tumor, but died in 2004 from lung cancer at age 85.

 

Leon Noel moved carefully toward the row of twisted, sagging apple trees near the Interstate 93 overpass in Lincoln, each step swallowed by two feet of snow.

He pointed with a sweeping motion across the horizon. “There,” he said. “That’s them.”

The trees had been zapped by radiation emitted from an alien craft in 1961. At least that’s what Noel had always told his children and then his grandchildren. “They thought it was gospel,” Noel said.

That was a family joke. The part about Barney Hill squinting through binoculars and seeing humanoids above this same field, peering from windows like passengers on a plane, was not.

Neither was the part about Hill making a mad dash back to his car on Route 3, screaming in terror to his wife, Betty Hill, that the couple had to leave, fast, or risk capture.

Or the piece about the Hills being taken aboard the craft somewhere near Thornton, then losing all memory for two hours, then arriving at home in Portsmouth as the sun rose and their thoughts were unchained, allowing them to focus, at least partially, on what had happened.

It occurred during a six-hour stretch, beginning near midnight on Sept. 19, 1961, if you believe in that sort of thing.

And don’t take my word for it.

Look it up.

“Who knows?” Noel said. “I don’t. All I know is something happened.”

                      Betty Hill in 2003

Noel drives the steam locomotive at Clark’s Trading Post. He’s lived in Lincoln for nearly 50 years.
His hands and smile are gigantic, and his silver hair rises from his head and shoots in different directions, sort of like that craft that Barney and Betty Hill insisted they saw that night 57 years ago.

The yarn is part of the town’s landscape, much like those funny-looking apple trees.
As Noel worked his way through the high snow, a 12-year veteran of the Lincoln Police Department pulled over to see what was happening. He declined to give his name.

“I have more than a passing familiarity with what happened,” the officer said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m a believer.”

What about you?


An alien concept

The Hills lived in Portsmouth and were just passing through on their way home from Canada. A mixed marriage before those unions were fully accepted, Barney, an African American, died in 1969 from a brain aneurysm at age 46, and Betty, who was white, passed in 2004 from lung cancer at 85.

And yet, like Noel and that steam locomotive, they’re forever connected to the Lincoln region. As Noel says, “It was a big thing. My aunt lived here and she was right here, so it was a big thing to talk about. But nothing ever came of it because …”

Noel’s voice trailed off, then he laughed, as though his mind had hit that universal stop sign we all approach. Look one way, and your mind tells you it’s not true.

Look the other way, however, and your mind asks, “Why not?”

“There is something out there,” Noel says. “For the billions of stars that you look out at with the naked eye at night, we can’t be the only flea on the dog.”

If what Betty and Barney – the most famous couple with those names since the Flintstones – claimed was true, the 1969 moon landing would be transformed into a walk in the park. But no matter what you believe, the story was out of this world once the media got a hold of it four years after the incident.

A zany-sounding episode, sure, but whiffs of legitimacy – including government scrutiny and hypnosis by a respected Boston physician – followed this like a comet’s tail. In fact, even the state added some credibility, planting one of those green historical markers near Indian Head Resort, right there on Route 3, to celebrate the 50th anniversary in 2011.

      New Hampshire historical marker

It reads: “On the night of September 19-20, 1961, Portsmouth, NH couple Betty and Barney Hill experienced a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and two hours of ‘lost time’ while driving south on Route 3 near Lincoln. They filed an official Air Force Project Blue Book report of a brightly-lit cigar-shaped craft the next day, but were not public with their story until it was leaked in the Boston Traveler in 1965.”

Then come the words that push you to Google: “This was the first widely-reported UFO abduction report in the United States.”

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Airmen Involved in ‘British Roswell’ May Have Been Abducted by Aliens, Retired US Colonel Claims in Secret Footage

by Emma Parry           January 15, 2018          (thesun.co.uk)

• New information has surfaced regarding the ‘Rendlesham Forest incident’, where in December 1980, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Jim Penniston and Airman John Burroughs witnessed a small triangular craft that landed in Rendlesham Forest near the twin NATO airbases of RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk, England. Sgt Penniston got close enough to touch the craft, describing it as “smooth to the touch” and covered with strange symbols similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, before it took off.

• It was known that Penniston and Burroughs were out of radio communication with the base’s Central Security Control for several hours.

• In 2010, now retired British police detective Gary Heseltine and his wife walked through the forest with the deputy commander of the base at the time, retired U.S. Air Force colonel Charles Halt, in an effort to retrace Halt’s steps during the third night of UFO activity there for a documentary that was never made.

• While a film crew shot the 2010 interview, Heseltine’s wife made a private video as well. At one point, she video recorded Heseltine walking with Halt in the forest during a break in filming. Heseltine says that he recently watched the private video again, and picked up on an interesting comment made by Halt. In the video, Halt says: “He [Burroughs] may have been abducted. Who knows? You know there is lost time, we know that. They were not on the radio … You’ve got men out in the forest …. unaccounted for hours..”

• “I did some research and realized that this admission [by Halt] had never been made public,” said Heseltine. “It’s one thing to see a UFO… but it’s quite another to suggest one of your men might have been abducted by aliens.”

• Heseltine also says that Halt told him the Suffolk airbase had the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in Europe at the time.

 

A retired U.S. Air Force colonel has claimed that two airmen involved in Britain’s most infamous UFO case may have been abducted by aliens in secret video footage.

Staff Sgt Jim Penniston and Airman John Burroughs witnessed a small triangular craft which landed in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk – in what has been dubbed the UK’s Roswell.

Sgt Penniston got so close, he even managed to touch the craft, describing it as “smooth to the touch” and covered with strange symbols similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs – before it took off.

Now in secret video footage obtained exclusively by Sun Online, the deputy commander of the base at the time, Charles Halt, can be heard stating that Burroughs “may have been abducted” and that the men were “unaccounted for” for hours.

It is believed it is the first time Halt has ever made the bombshell claims – and they did not appear on his official memo of the incident which was sent to the Ministry of Defence.

The mysterious Rendlesham incident took place in December 1980 – at the height of the Cold War – in woods just outside the twin NATO airbases of RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters.

Penniston and Burroughs headed into the woods to investigate some strange flashing lights, which is where they saw the UFO.

Two nights later, the UFO returned, and Halt led a team of military experts into the woods in a bid to “debunk” the claims.

However, the military team were shocked when a beam of light from the UFO hit the ground just a few feet away.

 Charles Halt and Gary Heseltine in 2010

Halt, who made an 18-minute audio recording of the incident, went on to write a memo detailing what happened which he sent to the MoD but defence chiefs said the incident was of “no defence significance.”

For years it has been rumoured Penniston and Burroughs, who were security policemen, may have been snatched by the UFO as they were out of radio communication with their Central Security Control (CSC) for several hours – but no one officially involved in the incident has ever publicly stated it.

Now former British police detective Gary Heseltine has released a video clip from 2010 – when he toured the forest with Halt for a documentary that was never made.

The video clip was recorded by Heseltine’s wife during a break in filming and shows Heseltine walking with Halt in the forest in an effort to retrace his steps during the third night of UFO activity during the 1980 incident.

In the video, Halt says: “He [Burroughs] may have been abducted who knows… You know there is LOST TIME, we know that? They were not on the radio … You’ve got men out in the forest that you can’t …. unnaccounted for hours..”

Heseltine, 57, of Scholes, West Yorkshire, told Sun Online: “My wife Lynn took quite a few video clips as we walking around the forest.

“It was only recently while watching them again that I picked up on the admission by Halt that Penniston and Burroughs had been missing off air ‘for several hours’.

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