FLAME WARS Since the popularisation of the Internet, conspiracy and even more so specifically UFO related sites have become very common-place. Along with this has come the inevitable gossip and rumour regarding and between researchers, something which plagues the UFO community to a great extent (as often reported by Jim Moseley in his irreverent newsletter Saucer Smear - see interview in this issue of Immerse).
"The acrimony that exists between many researchers bugs me. It seems to me fundamental to give everyone the right to be wrong, to suspend judgement until you can come to some complete understanding of various points of view, and simply to accept that multiple points of view on a topic is as final as some things get. I don't like anonymous flame wars on the net - although I understand the need to vent - and so I just do a lot of lurking until I find a productive conversation into which I can inject some research or analysis.
"One problem is that the intelligence community does have its assets, infiltrators and provocateurs, so honest disagreements become charged with the suspicion that one or the other side is spreading disinformation. In many cases, the charges are true. I had one such person follow me to London and demand an audience with a BBC producer I had traveled with to an infra-red imaging lab to test a Reichian orgone box. The same person has supplied disinformation about Reich to the so-called 'skeptics' press, including CSICOP (Committee For The Scientific Investigation Of Claims Of tTe Paranormal), Skeptical Inquirer and Martin Gardner, for many years. There's an essay about this on the Steamshovel webpage called Toxic Disinformation."
Phil Klass & His Little NobodieS
Kenn's disparaging views of the sceptical community extends to the crown king of Ufological debunking, publisher of the Skeptics UFO Newsletter and many books on the subject, Phil Klass. Klass was interviewed by Immerse, along with Jim Moseley, at the 1997 Fortean Times UnConvention and that interview appears elsewhere in this magazine. Comparing and contrasting Kenn's and Phil's viewpoints is an interesting exercise.
"The last time I saw Phil Klass quoted in the New York Times, he sniffed that those who have UFO experiences are 'little nobodies' craving attention. It's obviously a prejudiced and unscientific point of view, especially concerning a phenomenon that has affected all kinds of people over all of human history, no matter what one thinks of any particular case or set of cases. I do think it's interesting that as the Fortean Times becomes more mainstream, it begins to have more people like Phil Klass show up at its conferences. Without putting too fine a point on it, since I do still have immense respect for the Forteans, when I sat on a panel with Peter Brookesmith at the last UnCon (in 1996 Kenn lectured on the Casolaro/Maurey Island axis, Wilhelm Reich's persecution by the US Government and took part in a panel discussion on the topic of UFOs and Governments) he argued that Belgium could not be part of the international UFO cover-up because, well, because they're Belgian! He was being clever, of course, but it's the kind of quip, like Klass and his 'little nobodies' remark, that shows the rush toward a dismissal of the topic rather than engagement with it."
EXTRADIMENSIONAL UFOLOGY "A much more reasoned point of view about UFOs than that of Phil Klass recently was expressed to me by Steamshovel contributor Roy Lisker, who is a scientist and a mathematician and has reached no closed-minded conclusions about the phenomenon:"
"...suppose that it was possible that a sentient consciousness in our world could exist entirely on the surface of a two-dimensional plane. This mind would be unable to conceive of a third dimension, except as an unpicturable mathematical construction. If it were possible for one of us to communicate with this being, we might say something like: "Don't you realise that all you have to do is go 'up'?" Say we then took a stone and dropped it through his plane. He would interpret this event, a simple causal phenomenon in our world, as an uncaused, arbitrary event in the physics of his world. However, the true causes of the disturbances created by the stone passing through his world would be intrinsically unknowable to him as the limitations on his consciousness do not give him access to the third dimension in which we live.
"Likewise, it 'ought to be obvious' to us, that all we have to do in order to enter a fourth (spatial) dimension is to go up* (the direction of "up-asterisk"!). Up* might then be a dimension which is unknowable to our consciousness-in-the-world by virtue of the limitation or our sensory organs to a three dimensional continuum. If there was a fourth spatial dimension then, just as in the example with the dropping of the rock, an event from that dimension could 'pass through' our world without our being able to reconcile it with our physics. Its causes would be 'intrinsically unknowable'.
"Still, four or more dimensions pose no problems for a mathematician. In terms of their purely mathematical content, one can easily plot lines, describe shapes and axiomatize any space with any number of dimensions. In fact, many of today's mathematicians are only comfortable in Hilbert's Space, the vector of space of infinitely many dimensions. Four dimensional space, therefore, is not 'unthinkable' as a mathematical object; but a fourth dimension of physical space, if there is one, is unknowable to us, since no-one with a mind like ours can conceive any way of moving in the direction up*."
ALIEN SEX MAJIC Along with the idea of extradimensional/ultraterrestrial entities, another plausible theory is the 'alien craft as black project and alien abduction as mind control'. Chief proponents of this theory are Martin Cannon, author of The Controllers, and Alex Constantine, author of Psychic Dictatorship In The USA. "Reich said it best: 'everyone has part of the truth'. Cannon and Constantine have both presented convincing cases that many alien abduction scenarios serve as government psyops (psychological warfare operations), as has Jacques Vallee. John Judge makes a good case that Nazis developed flying saucers. Certainly not all unusual aerial phenomena fall into this category, though, and not every abduction case tracks back to a psyop,
"Cannon and I had a tiff when I tried to get him to do a sidebar to an interview I planned in Steamshovel with Cathy O'Brien, who claims to have been made into a sex slave by an MKULTRA program. Cannon believes that O'Brien and her partner, Mark Phillips, are frauds who use details about a real mind-control program called Operation Monarch to embellish a dog-and-pony show. I wanted Cannon to do something on the real Monarch; he didn't want me to give O'Brien/Phillips any space at all. So it concerns me when any researcher thinks he has the one 'real' answer. It tends to strangle dialogue."
THE WILD SIDE And what of Kenn's feelings on the convoluted tales of US government/grey alien treaties and hybridisation schemes of 'Wild' Bill Cooper and others of like mind.
"Everyone has part of the truth. Cooper's take on the Kennedy assassination, for instance, that the driver shot JFK with a .45, has elements of truth. The driver does put on the brakes; you can see them come on the Zapruder film. There are photos of an agent picking up a .45 slug from the opposite silde of Elm Street after the motorcade has passed. In fact, disinfo schemes always contain elements of truth, which is not to say that Cooper is a disinformationalist. He certainly didn't create the circus atmosphere that surrounds much of the UFO community.
"It's really the nature of the Beast: an aerial and psychological phenomenon that affects millions; governments hiding the data they have collected on it to preserve their credibility (which they lose as well if, as they say, they do not collect data on it); a history that has built up a lore; entrepreneurs trying to exploit the commercial possibilities of all this excitement. Every researcher/writer/lecturer is a natural product of that spectacle."
DISINFOTAINMENT Such reasoned and thought provoking views on the UFO topic are indeed rare in this days of supposed alien autopsy videos, grey and abduction 'mania', and disinfotainment like the X Files.
"Television is the very essence of the Conspiracy, a mind-control device that transmits stimulation for the eyes and ears but leaves the brain wanting. So X-Files, Dark Skies, even programs like Fortean TV, can never become more than part of the culture of denial. All this stuff about Area 51, alien abductions, government conspiracies, Fortean phenoms--it's all just fodder for a silly TV show. Students of the conspiracy culture, publishers of magazines like Steamshovel, become the 'Lone Gunman' geeks on X-Files. Meanwhile, X-Files writer Chris Carter lectures for the CSICOP, which happened recently."
The ongoing trial of Oklahoma bombing suspect Tim McVeigh is another media circus waiting to happen but thus far seems not to have received the epic international proportions of the OJ Simpson trial. With talk of a decidedly conspiratorial defence strategy by McVeigh's attorneys, it may soon become a media led case of 'conspiracy on trial'.
"Lois Fortier just testified and even the mainstream news reports noted that her story sounded very rehearsed. She's the wife of McVeigh chum Steve Fortier. Both of them at first insisted that McVeigh could not have had anything to do with the bombing but when the FBI threatened them with the death sentence, they changed their story and made up the current one. Steamshovel reported on this in issue #14.
"Hoppy Heidelberg, the person whose common sense questions caused him to be dismissed from the original OKBomb grand jury, has stated openly that police authorities will not call in certain witnesses because they may be informers or provocateurs attached to government undercover operations. Apparently McVeigh isn't even telling his lawyers about who he worked with. He's either taking it all like a good soldier or they never got that mind control implant out of his butt (as detailed in Immerse 001). I cannot see how a conviction will arise out of all this, and I called it right when the criminal trial jury acquitted OJ Simpson. Anyone following the case in the papers would do well to read Jim Keith's OKBomb! book from IllumiNet. It asks all the pertinent questions."
The other current mass media 'conspiracy' story has been the TWA Flight 800 splashdown. We asked Kenn what the current climate's like - Stinger, US Navy friendly fire, mechanical failure or, as some of the more extremists have alleged, UFO?
"The theories now also must account for these continued sightings of missile-like objects in nearby airspace by pilots and airline passengers, as well as the eyewitnesses to the missile event when the plane came down. Pronouncement by the National Transportation Safety Board that mechanical failure took down TWA800 will satisfy nobody, especially anyone familiar with Sherman Skolnick's exposure of that agency's cover-up of the 1973 Chicago Midway crash that killed E. Howard Hunt's wife Dorothy and other Watergaters. Skolnick discussed this with Steamshovel in issue #11. The NTSB is now floating its TWA800 'mechanical failure' conclusion in the press to see how the airlines respond."
HISTORY IS A LIE The mainstream press titillate the masses with coverage of 'wacky' conspiracy theories, which are more often than not more plausible than the official version. The history books are unfortunately much the same, the victors write the history and the first victim is the truth. Conspiracy theory is shunned as 'nutters talking about aliens and faked moon landings'.
"The process of tenure and promotion often involves conspiracy, if I understand university department politics correctly. So academics have a vested interest in steering away from the study of the process. After tenure, you find people like John Mack (tenured at Harvard) and Courtney Brown (tenured poli sci professor at Emory University who claims to also work as a remote viewer) who come forward with things. Also, educational bureaucracies must insist that they know the 'truth' about things, even though they mostly just regurgitate government and corporate media reports, which by any measure is a tiny, distorted part of the spectrum of available information. Many postal workers in this country keep better historical files than many history professors, who often work from pre-fabbed textbooks."
Leigh Neville with Dashwood II
Steamshovel Press Is Available From PO Box 23716, St. Louis, MD, 63121 at the current subscription rate for four issues at 26US dollars or 7US dollars per copy. Steamshovel also sell Popular Alienation, NASA,Nazis & JFK, and The Octopus. Kenn can be contacted via email at email@example.com or browse Steamshovel's website by going to http://www.umsl.edu/skthoma