Reporting on UFOs

Curtis Sutherly. UFO Mysteries: A Reporter Seeks the Truth. Llewellyn, 2001.
This is a short history of ufology, with particular reference to cases the author investigated in person. First-hand research is too infrequently published and hence always welcome, though part of the material is reworked from his 1996 book Strange Encounters. Sutherly was originally inspired by John Keel, so there is quite a bit about cattle mutilations, phantom helicopters and Men in Black. Some of the latter give the impression of having been simple lunatics rather than government agencies or paraphysical entities.

Most UFO books are intended to promote one simple theory, anything from "they come from the Pleiades" to "mirages of stars". Usually the author displays an awareness that not everyone is going to agree, and so devotes several tedious pages to ridiculing all other points of view. It is a relief that Sutherly does not do this, but concludes that we do not know the truth about what causes the UFO phenomenon, though this approach is probably less commercial.

He has however made up his mind that a spaceship did not crash at Roswell, from which it follows that the MJ 12 documents are a hoax. Yet, he asks: " ... who stands to gain? How about members of the counter-intelligence community? Fostering this sort of belief makes an excellent cover for covert type. They can perform all sorts of unscrupulous activity - abductions and experimentation, for example - and with hypnosis and drugs and radio-implant technology pass it off as actions of meddling, superior, unstoppable alien beings."

One might think that the people with most to gain by such fakes were those people who were able to write bestselling books on the basis of them, plus perhaps the Roswell tourist board. Yet, in America, even sceptical ufology has come to be dominated by conspiracy theories. Sutherly quotes a letter sent from James Oberg to Stephen Greer in 1977 at which time Greer was calling for an end to legal constraints against UFO disclosure. Oberg alleged that the real secret was that the UFO stories had been invented as government disinformation for a variety of reasons. He claimed that he had himself spoken to many of the individuals responsible, and said that it was they who needed immunity before they could speak out. Whilst such revelations could be interesting, it is obvious that Oberg's evidence is identical in nature to that produced by the likes of Linda Moulton Howe. An 'anonymous military source' becomes credible if it tells you what you want to hear. – Gareth J. Medway. Magonia 77, March 2002

No comments: