The SWAMP GAS JOURNAL
Volume 7					ISSN 0707-7106
Number 2			     		Fall, 1994

			Summer in the Cities

	It's been an interesting year, ufology-wise. The Guardian UFO
crash/landing/contact has been debunked, Larry King and Montel Williams
both went to Area 51, the Mogul balloon story is up in the air and
everyone and her dog (literally) has been abducted by aliens.
	It's almost enough to make one give up ufology.
	And some people have, of course. Completely coincidentally
(obviously), Bob Oechsler announced his retirement from ufology during
the same week that MUFON Ontario published a report giving details of
the Guardian UFO crash/retrieval/whatever hoax, and mentioned
Oechsler's name several times.
	I received issue #49 of the Cambridge UFO Research Newsletter,
in which Bonnie Wheeler announces her "sabatical." As many know, Bonnie
has been publishing the CURG Newsletter since 1976, and it 
remained one of the most prominent ufozines in North America since
then. Furthermore, her group has been active since then, and this
certainly makes it one of the oldest groups in continuous existence. I
had the good fortune of addressing her group once, many years ago, and
I recall her as being kind, generous and hospitable. Good luck, Bonnie;
we'll miss you!
	Resurfacing and disappearing again was Tommy Roy Blann, a
longtime researcher from Texas who was active in the 1970's only to
withdraw from the UFO scene in the early 1980's. I heard from him this
year when he co-authored a book with Nelson Pacheco, elaborating their
theory that UFO contacts might be related to a satanic-type force.
Nelson posted excerpts from the book on the I-way, and we corresponded
for a short time. Apparently, as a result of some negative reaction to
the book, Blann has gone in communicado once again. (If you read this,
drop me a line, Tommy! I won't bite, I promise!)
	David Gotlib, whom I regard as a true expert on the abduction
phenomenon, has expressed some concern about the publishing of his
excellent Bulletin of Anomalous Experience. Because it takes up a lot
of time and energy, he may be halting its production soon. Too bad.
It's one of the few ufozines I actually endorse.
	Grant Cameron, noted crash/retrieval expert and founder of the
North American Institute for Crop Circle Research, has found that his
hobby/passion was taking up more time than he bargained for. He has all
but dropped out of the ufology scene altogether, but still keeps in
touch.
	The same can be said for Gord Kijek, one of the major domos of
the Alberta UFO Study Group. He has found that family and work take
precedence over what was becoming a time-consuming "spare time"
profession.
	And Jenny Randles has expressed her frustration at the politics
and organizational problems within ufology, and has thought about
withdrawing. Jenny's had a rough few years in ufology, being on the
receiving end of many criticisms and legal issues. She has my support
in whatever course she chooses.
	As for me ... well, you'll notice that the SGJ's are getting
fewer and farther between ...

			Summer in the Cities

	It was one of those summers. With all my good intentions to
take it easy, I didn't.
	It started in June, when Tom Theofanous invited me to Toronto
for a speaking engagement as part of a lecture series MUFON Ontario had
organized.
	I arrived in Toronto around midnight one weekday, and was met by
Tom and his wife, Lise. They quickly made me feel comfortable despite our
mutual fatigue, and we stayed up talking for quite a while. Tom is a
very easy-going person, and he seemed open to many avenues of
discussion, if you could pry him away from the World Cup.
	Tom had some work out of town the next day, and I tagged along
with him when he drove into the hinterlands of southern Ontario. On 
the way, we talked about some of his investigations and research.
Later, I met some of his associates, including Errol Bruce-Knapp who is
delightfully eccentric and has a great penthouse apartment downtown.
Errol is a video toaster wizard, and is MUFON Ontario's I-way
connection. Having been in the media for many years, Errol has
connections far and wide which make for some fine conversation.
	My talk was scheduled at the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education, just down the street from the Judith Merrill Collection of
Speculative Fiction. Maybe I got that name wrong - it's usually called
the Spaced-Out Library. Run by my friend Lorna Toolis, a former member
of the Winnipeg Science Fiction Society (back when that really meant
something), the library has a huge collection of science fiction books
*and* a significant collection of UFO-related material, including many
classics and rare items that I'd heard of but never seen. (Thanks for
the personal tour, Lorna!)
	Having a few hours to kill before the lecture, I strolled down
the street, looking for some place to eat. I spied a used bookstore
and walked up to a table outside of it, covered with bargains.
As I approached, a man at the table turned around and literally bumped
into me. Lo and behold! John Robert Colombo!
	John invited me to dinner with him and David Gotlib who were
planning on going to hear me speak, anyway. Great Vietnamese food was
found at a nearby restaurant; I'm not a big fan of it, but the stuff I
had, mixed with the great conversation, made it truly worthwhile.
	Previous speakers at the series included Stanton Friedman,
Gotlib and Colombo. Stanton packed 'em in, as usual, but other speakers
were less popular. About 50 people showed up for my talk in the 300+
capacity hall. But those who attended seemed appreciate what I had to
say. I reviewed historical Canadian UFO cases and discussed the
Canadian connection to much of ufology today.
	I met several other MUFON Ontario members whose names I
completely forget at this point, but we had a good time at our various
meetings, dinners (what was that pizza restaurant off Yonge street that
had those weird kinds like mussels and broccoli?) and informal
conversations. 
	The reason behind the lecture series was Tom's disappointment
with various travelling ufologists who breeze into towns with a UFO
roadshow, packing houses and peddling parephrenalia but lacking content
or accuracy. The idea was to get people with significant reputations in
the field to discuss their research. (And, yes, I was flattered!)
	One of the lectures later in the summer featured Tom himself
describing the infamous Guardian hoax. I'm sorry I couldn't stick
around to hear it, but Tom gave me a personal tour of the evidence
against the Carp affair, and believe me (or don't believe me, for that
matter), it's enough to curl you hair.
	First of all, Tom forked out some big bucks himself to have the
Guardian video analyzed (including the sounds in the background). He
showed me the original video, asked for my interpretation, then showed
me the enhanced footage. For those of you paying attention, I have been
intrigued by the video for some time, and had thought about what it
might represent. Given that the Guardian had earlier sent me some of
the maps, hokey documents and various other stuff, I had already
figured out the video must have been a fake, but wasn't sure how it was
done. I had thought about the helicopter idea, but rejected it, and the
same with the balloon theory, though I had inquired of Ottawa hot-air
balloonists about their night-flying habits. I posted a note to the
newsgroups early in 1994 that I thought the "landed UFO" was possibly a
fire truck, with lights illuminating its undercarriage. My post drew a
lot of flames (pun intended), but I was surprised when I found out how
close I had guessed.
	I thought it had been a fire truck because of its general shape
and because of the fires nearby. Tom's enhancement clearly showed the
outline of a pickup truck, including the windshield, with flares
strategically placed nearby. There's no question that's what it was,
despite the objections of naysayers and supporters of the Guardian
camp.
	Further evidence came from the further efforts of Tom and his
associates. The "key witness" of the event turns out to be a close
friend of a main perpetrator of the hoax, who happens to own a large
field where D&D wargames have been held. Wrecks of trucks are near the
field, too, as well as hand-lettered signs about secret covert
operations and military exercises and impending death to trespassers.
	There's also the testimony of the MUFON investigators who
searched for the landing site with Bob Oechsler, only to find nothing,
then later be informed by him that he found it himself, in the dark.
And, according to the MUFON report, Oechsler seemed to admit knowing it
was all a hoax, but was going along with it anyway.
	I give a lot of credit to Tom and his group, who went to great
lengths to investigate and put this case to rest. Others, such as
Christian Page, also contributed a great deal to the investigation, and
kudos goes to them as well. 
	But why has CSICOP not given any public credit to MUFON for
debunking this popular case?

	My next trip was to Chicago, in July. I tried to arrange a
meeting with CUFOS executives, but our schedules conflicted, and I
missed everybody. I spent a week at Notre Dame, roasting in the heat
and enjoying the campus. (Go Irish!)
	On the way home, my flight was nearly empty, and the passengers
wandered freely up and down the aisles. Being a bored (boring?)
ufologist, I went to talk with the crew. Sure enough, they had both
seen bolides recently, and knew other officers who had seen UFOs. But
make an official report? Never!

	A few weeks later, I went to the Festival of the Written Arts
in Sechelt, British Columbia. As a Canadian writer, I was invited to
speak about my writing and do a reading or two. I quickly found out I
was in good company; in fact, I was in way over my head. The Festival
was more of a literary conference, and my writings on ufology barely
qualified.
	My nice commercial airliner landed in Vancouver and I was
directed to another small airport along the ocean. There, I waited for
a small six-seater seaplane to take me north to the resort. I spent the
time pacing the small waiting room and making phone calls to people
like MUFON Canadian Director Michael Strainic, who was too busy to see
me that weekend, unfortunately.
	My travelling companions soon arrived: a tall, red-haired woman
and her husband, and an older gentleman with a quiet disposition. The
woman was Joy Fielding, author of many mystery thrillers, and the older
man was Scott Young, a former sports writer and broadcaster. Joy went
absolutely pale as our puddle-jumper hopped over the ocean and banked
steeply over tree-covered islands.
	The four of us were met at dockside when we landed, and were
driven to the lodge, nestled on the side of a hill amidst gorgeous
gardens. The rooms in the lodge were spartan, without TV, phones or
even radios, and I quickly felt I-way withdrawal. (A week without
e-mail? Aaaaarrrggghhh!)
	But the food, the atmosphere and the people were great! In
fact, it was the ideal vacation. I spent many hours in my room resting
or writing. (Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring along my laptop!
Talk about 'roughing it'!)
	I met some interesting deinizens of the literary world. W.P.
Kinsella ("Field of Dreams") is a hilarious storyteller, and looks just
as hilarious in shorts and his trademark hat. Mel Hurtig, founder of
the National Party, gave a great politics-oriented talk to a packed
house of 500 one night. (He told a great story about assertiveness that
brought the house down! Ask me about it sometime!) Bill Richardson, the
Poet Laureate of Canada, is a lot funnier than I could ever have
imagined a poet laureate to be. (I even bought his book, and when would
I have ever willingly bought a book of poetry?) Marg Meikle the answer
lady, was a wealth of information (you can hear her on CBC radio). And
Di Brandt, a feminist writer, was fascinating to talk with and a fine
dining companion. Her poetry managed to get her ostracized from the
Mennonite church, but her perspective of her trip to Jerusalem is bold
and poignant.
	About 150 people paid good money to have lunch and listen to me
talk. I read excerpts from UNNATURAL HISTORY and part of an
introductory chapter from my next book, as well as a poem I wrote not
that long ago (well, all the other literary types were reading poetry,
and I didn't want to be left out).
	In short, I had a great time. I strongly urge anyone who will
be on the upper BC mainland in summer to check out the writer's
festival. Good scenery, good food, and lots of brain stimulation.

		The 1994 World Science Fiction Convention

	I still don't understand why, but Winnipeg won the bid for the
1994 WorldCon. It was in Los Angeles last year, and will be in
Scotland in 1995. I suppose that to most people, Winnipeg is an exotic
locale in some ways. It's certainly off the beaten track.
	I got involved in the organizing commmittee in 1993. I've been
almost a "regular" guest speaker at Winnipeg science fiction
conventions for several years, and I was asked to talk about UFOs for
the 'Murricans. I also helped organize other interesting local speakers
like Martin Clutton-Brock (who teaches astronomy while dressed and in
personae as Galileo), Art Stinner (whose classic paper "The Physics of
Star Trek" was published in NEW SCIENTIST), Joe Donatelli (a postmodern
professor who studies communication in the 90's) and Carl Matheson (a
connoisseur of horror flicks).
	Sure enough, in early September 1994 about 4000 SF fans
descended on Winnipeg, much to the consternation of the mayor of
Winnipeg who may not have realized what a big deal this was. There were
about 300 presentations, ranging from serious discussions on the
Jupiter comet crash by JPL scientists to silly discussions on how to
make a stuffed pet dragon for your masquerade costume. 
	There were trekkies (not trekkers) everywhere you looked, and
many Klingons in full battle armor. Lots of ladies-in-waiting and
druids and medieval warriors .. but disappointingly few aliens. Well,
at the masquerade, one of the winners was a couple who dressed in
exact replicas of Sigourney Weaver in her exoskeleton battling the
alien queen, but that was a notable exception.
	The huckster (sorry, dealers') room was perhaps the most
interesting. Imagine a department store filled with SF memorabilia. You
could buy videos and books and posters of everything related to Star
Trek, Star Wars and most other popular SF TV shows. And there were
crystals and swords and costumes and latex Kilingon headpieces
(including some in newborn-size, for family outings). The most
interesting to me included a dealer from Russia who didn't get
paperwork filed in time and had to set up outside the dealers area. He
had Soviet space mission artefacts, including pins from the Sputnik
launches, Yuri Gagarin watches and replicas of KGB ID badges (which I
of course bought). Another great table featured scripts from TV shows
and movies. All the Trek episodes, of course, but also an extra's
working script from Schindler's List and other major films. At another
booth I bought an "official" X-Files Spooky Mulder ID badge. (Okay, so
I finally admit it's a pretty good show! BUT IT'S STILL FICTION!)
	So the big question is: What does SF have to do with UFOs?
	I answered part of that in the previous paragraph. UFOs and SF
are inextricably linked through the media. UFO literature has its
origins in the pulp SF mags of the late '40s, with Harold Sherman's THE
GREEN MAN and Richard Shaver's I REMEMBER LEMURIA. It's all there,
starting with OTHER WORLDS magazine which became FLYING SAUCERS FROM
OTHER WORLDS and finally just FLYING SAUCERS. (If you've never seen a
copy of FS, too bad.)
	Those were the days when contactees ruled the bookshelves,
writing about their encounters with aliens in their bedrooms, receiving
telepathic communications from the Space Brothers and taking rides to
other blissful planets. Unlike today.
	(At this point, the astute reader will detect witty sarcasm.)
	Like it or not, ufology is closely tied to science fiction.
Want another example? How about the debate that Budd Hopkins' Linda
Cortile case is taken liberally from a science fiction novel titled
NIGHTEYES, by Garfield Reeves-Stevens (a Canadian, BTW).
	I recall the first time I sat in on a meeting of the Winnipeg
Science Fiction Society. Members grumbled about my inclusion. "He's not
really into science fiction," protested one. "He reads and writes about
UFOs, and that's just, just ..." "Science fiction?" I offered. That was
in 1975; I'm still a charter member.
	SF allows serious scientists to speculate about the possibility
that aliens just *might* be out there, somewhere. And maybe, just
maybe, they've figured a way around the known laws of physics and are
travelling the spaceways (to quote Sun Ra; if you don't know who he
was, give up now). Or maybe they're in some sort of "dimensional" or
"spiritual" realm. (Or maybe the debunkers are right and humanity *is*
just very, very messed up.) (Maybe both.)
	At any rate, WorldCon was surprisingly interesting. I, like
most, ignored the trek and dragon nonsense and attended sessions on
writing, criticism, the Shoemaker/Levy Jupiter thing, Soviet space
missions, interstellar propulsion systems and, of course, the Internet.
	And *that's* why ufologists should pay more attention to SF.

			Alien Abduction Syndrome

	I've stopped counting how many people have come to me asking
for help or guidance in understanding their abduction experiences. Not
only that, I've come to identify the "usual" story: "I had this dream,
well at least I *thought* it was a dream, that these little creatures
were in my room and I could understand them even though they weren't
really talking and it hurt when they touched me and then I seemed to be
floating somewhere not in my room and they told me some things I
couldn't understand and then I was suddenly back in my room. But I
think they are still around."
	I've read John Mack's epic case study ABDUCTIONS and I tend to
see the points of many of his critics. Far from the aliens preparing
his clients for some future use and teaching them about ecology and
spirituality, I think some of those in his group have problems in
dealing with our reality.
	Not that that's such a bad thing, mind you.
	Now, I'm not a psychologist by training, nor a psychiatrist, so
I'm sure my diagnosis is going to draw some flames. But I think that
what we have here is something I might call *alien abduction syndrome*.
For some reason, certain people appear to *think* they have been
contacted by aliens. This could be because of various contributing
factors: dissatisfaction with life; stress; domestic problems; family
problems; peer pressure; rape trauma; chemical imbalances; or child
abuse. Perhaps any one of these or any combination of them. I believe
that thorough studies might help to understand AAS. (It's even possible
that aliens are actually doing some abductions, but that's another
matter.)
	Let me backtrack, however. First of all, I don't think that
*all* people who report such experiences have AAS. Secondly, in most
cases, AAS is not a problem. (This is another example of the 90% rule
in action.)
	The *real* problem, though, is how to deal with such cases.
Most ufologists are woefully inadequate as abduction
therapists/counsellors. Investigating a NL and counselling an abductee
are two very, very different things. You just don't "file" an abductee
case away as you would a DD. Furthermore, ufologists are not trained as
psychologists (generally), though John Musgrave published a paper in
the late 1970's or the role of the UFO researcher as a counsellor and
healer. It was ignored at the time.
	However, there's another side to this issue, and more
questions. Who *is* appropriate and/or adequate as a
counsellor/investigator of abductee cases? What relationship should
there be between a clinical psychologist and a UFO researcher?
	These questions began concerning me as a result of some calls I
received during the past few months. I regularly get calls from people
about UFO experiences, fireballs, sasquatch, ghosts and UFO abductions.
The abductees are often of the "usual" variety, and their stories seem
not to vary very much. Roy Bauer and I have been meeting with them on
an ad hoc basis, sometimes referring them to others.
	It's very difficult to deal with, sometimes; because of an
altruistic streak, I feel compelled to help people plaintively asking
for assistance in understanding their experiences. But whom to send them
to for further assistance? I can only handle so many "clients."
	In some cases, abductees have gone with me to clinical
psychologists, hypnotherapists and other kinds of counsellors (most
have gone on their own). Not surprisingly, the quality of the
"professionals" varies considerably.
	One memorable session was at the office of a "qualified
hypnotherapist" who did regressions as part of therapy. I was allowed
to sit in with an abductee who wanted to unlock the memory of a certain
night during which she and her sister were *both* abducted
simultaneously. The therapist put on a tape of waves crashing amidst
some flute music, set a large crystal on the table and informed the
abductee that she shouldn't worry because he was going to do some Huna
chanting and send spiritual energy to her if she got afraid.
	I worried. She worried, too. Then, she said, halfway through
her regression, "You know, that taped music is annoying." Needless to
say, the session was a failure.
	
			Two Cases

	The woman who called me in August was requesting help in
dealing with her abduction experiences. She had repeatedly dreamed
about aliens in her bedroom and a paralyzing beam of light emanating
from the ceiling. (You know, the usual.) What was more unusual in this
case was that she had been keeping accurate records on her computer and
drawing realistic pictures of her encounters. She even kept a diary
beside her bed for when she woke up from her "dream abductions." The
revelations passed on to her included information that she was in
training for the Rapture, during which time only abductees would be
saved.
	Most curious was the fact that this woman was educated enough
to know that "this couldn't possibly be real, but it *seemed* real!"
She had a degree in psychology and so knew something about the workings
of the human mind; she was willing to accept that her dreamlike
experiences were imaginary, but she felt they seemed far too real for
ordinary dreams.
	It was the second caller who got me thinking about this issue
and formulating my question. This woman told me a very similar story
(the usual) and also wanted help in dealing with it. But there was a
difference.
	The woman explained that she had told her family physician
about her experience. The doctor had referred her to a psychiatrist.
The woman claimed that the psychiatrist had listened to her story and
her recall of the dreams and promptly diagnosed her as schizophrenic.
You see, by her own admission, she could not tell if her dreams were
"real" or not. She was technically unable to distinguish fantasy from
reality. As a consequence, she had spent several months in a
psychiatric institution.
	Finally, a third case presented another variety of abductee. A
man decribed to me how (in a matter-of-fact manner) an entity or
entities had contacted him and began helping him  make decisions in his
life through recommendations and cautions. He would sometimes wake up
in the middle of the night to find an entity with him in his room,
telepathically conversing with him and warning him of what he might
expect the next day. This was all done benevolently, of course.

		The Hamlet Defense in Ufology

	Is a person who thinks he or she has had a nighttime abduction
experience schizophrenic? If so, what about the person who is unsure of
the reality of the experience? If you're consciously aware that
something was possibly imaginary, are you schizoid? On the other hand,
what can we say about people who are absolutley convinced that aliens
are conversing with them regularly?
	Abductees are, by some definitions, schizophrenic.
	This is not to say that they all have some kind of
psychological problems. What this does mean is that abductees have had
experiences that were surreal, yet were somehow perceived as real to
them. This inability to distinguish reality from apparent fantasy is
one symptom of clinical schizophrenia.
	However, ufologists are placed in a very precarious situation
because of this. Abductees and contactees will certainly not stand for
any suggestion that they are schizophrenic or delusional. To them,
their experiences are "real." Some admit to having internal conflict
because they "know" that alien abductions are impossible yet they have
an overwhelming sense that they had an encounter of some sort.
	Added to this are complications such as false memory syndrome,
alleged ritual abuse, screen memories and outright lying. (For
completeness, we can also include people who have mental problems,
although Meerloo and others examined mental institutions and found
virtually no patients displaying abductee/contactee sympotoms.)
	I asked David Gotlib for his opinion on the realtionship
between alien abduction syndrome and psychiatry:

"There ARE some schizophrenics who, in addition to their 
other problems, incorporate abduction experiences into their 
hallucinations.  (I have met some).  They are identifiable by 
other signs and symptoms besides the abduction account.  
OTOH, it makes no sense to diagnose someone as 
schizophrenic simply on the basis of abduction experiences.  
In general, if someone presented with abduction 
experiences as the SOLE symptom, and they were able to 
deal with them through supportive counselling and 
psychotherapy (not necessarily including hypnosis) I would 
see little reason to medicate them and no reason at all to 
hostpitalize them.
 
"Do psychiatrists have enough background in this 
phenomenon to deal with it effectively?  Probably not, 
because most have no training or familiarity with treating 
paranormal experiences.  Those few involved in 
transpersonal psychology are probably an exception to this.  
But what constitutes "effective" management is still open to 
debate, because the nature of the experience is still 
unknown.  Also, we don't know whether there are multiple 
causes for a reported abduction experiences (sleep disorder, 
schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, TLE, and then the 
"real" abduction experiences, whatever that means).  
 
"I am not convinced that most "abduction therapists" have 
enough background to deal with the problem effectively, 
either -- or that what they do is in the long run safe or 
effective.  There are no outcome studies on this question.
 
"Generally, abduction experiencers fall between some pretty 
wide cracks in the health care system, and in society."

	So, what are the implications for ufology? Can a ufologist
*ethically* advise/counsel/treat an abductee without a referral to a
professional psychologist or psychiatrist? Probably not. It would seem
that it might be unwise to counsel abductees because of the possibility
that they may have underlying psychological problems, and most
ufologists are not trained to deal with this. Certainly some of the
people who have come to me presenting with abductee/contactee
experiences have had such problems, and I would suspect that it is more
pervasive than is usually acknowledged.
	The reason for this is that it is not "politically correct" to
suggest abductees/contactees have *not* had alien experiences unless
one is an ardent skeptic or debunker. For a ufologist to question
whether or not an abductee has actually had an alien encounter is
tantamount to heresy.
	Think about it. If a person claims an abduction experience, a
ufologist usually tries to fit the experience in with his or her
perceived notion of alien visitation, not question the view of the
experiencer.
	The problem is whether *either* approach is appropriate.
	Since I know that some abductees/contactees I have spoken with
may be reading this document, I would like to clarify my position lest
it be misinterpreted (if it hasn't already).
	I do *not* believe that all abductees/contactees are
schizophrenic or have some kind of mental problems. What I *do* believe
is that abductee/contactee experiences can be compared to dissociative
or delusional experiences reported by some schizophrenics. I have met
and spoken with many abductees/contactees and have found most to be
rational, earnest and fully functioning in society. Many have
approached me for help in coming to terms with their *apparently real*
experiences given their surreal nature. My question to the
psychologists and psychiatrists is, "Does this mean that
abductees/contactees are schizophrenic, or does it mean that they are
reacting 'normally' to unusual stimuli?"
	One further anecdote: After some media had reported on some UFO
reports recently, I did a short interview during which my phone number
was given out on the air. I don't like doing this, but then, how else
would anyone be able to contact me? I received several calls from
people with interesting NL and ND sightings, including one from a
prominent professor at a local university who requested anonymity (of
course; one could hardly expect his peers to understand he saw a UFO,
could we?). But one of the calls I received was from a man who started
out by telling me that "they" had phoned him and ordered him to go to a
certain location where he would be abducted. "They" had called him
several times, apparently, each time insisting (in a woman's voice)
that he should obey and allow himself to be abducted aboard their
saucer. He had refused, but admitted that he had later observed many
UFOs, some in the presence of other people, while in the city. He also
said he had filmed a UFO while in Europe and his footage was to be in a
new UFO movie featuring himself and his friend, "the world's greatest
psychic." I was informed that "he can bend keys just like Uri Geller."
Both men were apparently under close observation by aliens, and they
had "much information to give to [me] about aliens."
	Is this man an abductee or a contactee? Does it matter?

		The Electronic Information Supercliche

	Okay, so I'm an Internet addict. I seem to need to log on each
day just to see what's new on the net. My week at Sechelt away from all
electronic gadgets was almost painful, so there is hope because I can
quit cold turkey if I have to.
	The trouble is, Stanton Friedman was right.
	Stan incurred the wrath of 'netters when he made a comment
publicly to the effect that virtually everything (pun intended here) on
the net was garbage. He was berated immediately by people insisting
that a great deal of useful information was available on the net and
that intelligent conversation existed in many forms and venues.
	They were right, too.
	But the problem is quantity, not necessarily quality, although
that's an issue too. Yes, there is useful info and intelligent
discourse out there. But just try to find it.
	As of this writing, I am getting daily emails from people
frustrated with the noise on the UFO newsgroups and who are giving up
on them. The situation is that bad. Really. The most popular one,
alt.alien.visitors (a name just begging for flames), is almost all
noise and pointless dither. "I have a new theory of propulsion," "Isn't
Billy Meier great?" "Has anybody heard of a book by some guy named
Ruppelt?" and my favourite: "Crop circles are real!"
	I made the mistake of replying to a poster about something that
he had got completely wrong, and ended up getting flamed and branded a
skeptic! One poster was promoting Colin Andrews and his findings about
radiation at crop circle sites - and how the aliens were testing
neutron rays. Just trying to make a dent in explaining the facts about
the radiation story resulted in a huge flame war about "disinformation
about crop circles."
	The good news, though, is that all the really good and accurate
information is indeed on the net, but you have to look for it.
Occasionally, I or John Stepkowski or some other well-meaning fool try
to tell people where it is, but we're ignored. I suppose that the sign
of a good ufologist or really intelligent UFO buff is his or her
ability to find the files or sites themselves. It's a dying art.
	Over at alt.paranet.ufo, Mike Corbin's newsgroup, things are
much more rational than a.a.v, but the amount of noise has forced him
to publicly raise the question of moderating the group. This has
shocked many into a frenzy. Imagine, restricting posts to worthwhile
and serious discussions!
	Of course, sci.skeptic is hardly the answer, either. Ever
sticklers for details, discussion there about the Bible and Nostradamus
consists of seemingly endless debates over semantics and typing errors.
	As for my own group (hey - I like that: my "own" group. NOT!),
alt.ufo.reports, I had hoped that after I created it people would post
only their UFO sightings. Instead, we get bad UFO gifs, questions about
abductions and posts about channeled messages. Fortunately, few sites
get the group, so the noise level is relatively low. I've been
archiving any actual UFO sightings posted there, and I'm thinking about
what I should do with them.
	The mandate for alt.ufo.reports is as follows:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
From alt.ufo.reports Thu Nov  3 09:46:52 1994
From: rutkows@cc.umanitoba.ca (Chris Rutkowski)
Subject: MANDATE FOR alt.ufo.reports
Date: 2 Nov 1994 16:00:24 GMT

To all posters, readers and lurkers:

Once again, I have to explain the purpose and reason for this
newsgroup.

This group was created with the intention of allowing people to post
their personal UFO experiences/sightings, without any bias or
subjective interpretations. This does not mean that posts here are
necessarily about observations of alien spacecraft. Most UFOs turn out
to be misidentifications - honest mistakes. Some could be aircraft
(secret or otherwise), others are bolides, others are balloons or
anything else you might want to include in a category of IFO.

The reality is that *a small percentage* of UFO reports do not have a
simple explanation. This does not mean they are spaceships, but only
that they cannot be explained easily. Basically, we need the data
before we can interpret them according to various theories.

The only way this can be achieved is through the collection of UFO
reports in an objective, organized manner. It seemed that allowing
witnesses to post on the I-way was a logical possibility.

The advantage of this is that it does not matter whether the posters or
readers are skeptics or believers. The idea is that data about UFO
sightings are needed to formulate a greater understanding about the
phenomenon, whether it be psychological or physical. A non-partisan
group seems to be a desireable location for such information.

It still is, but discussion threads about John Lear, MJ12 and the Mars
Face outnumber UFO reports here.

PLEASE TAKE THESE DISCUSSIONS TO alt.alien.visitors or alt.paranet.ufo
or alt.alien.research or sci.skeptic

PLEASE DO POST YOUR UFO SIGHTINGS HERE!
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

	The latest Canadian Internet Handbook 1995 again has a list of
UFO sites with good info that I was asked to contribute. The best site
I've found so far is:  ftp.rutgers.edu/pub/ufo  There's even a
subdirectory called /rutkowski that contains many of my SGJs, and
various other articles.
	Dean Kanipe for some reason has honoured me by including my
work in his Web page at:  http://www.duke.edu/~dpk/road.html
The site is "The Road Less Travelled," and he's included a lot of
weirdness there, such as a Skeptic's page, pointers to bizarre zines
and an SF pointer, too.
	I occasionally log on as a guest at the freenet in Ottawa,
which has a UFO SIG. It's frustrating because as a guest, you can't
reply directly to some of the posters there, who ask simple questions
and get abysmal answers from local buffs. I got flamed really bad when
Mike McLarty posted a message for me in which I tried to politely
point out that some of the "experts" posting information on the SIQ or
whom were cited in discussions were actually less informed than they
were lauded.
	This greatly upset some SIG members, who basically told me to
mind my own business and not to try and tell them who they should be
talking to and which books they should be reading.
	As the (now old) joke goes, "On the Internet, no one knows
you're a dog."
	Anyone now has access to an unlimited amount of information,
and a way of disseminating that information to more people than ever
before. Anyone can also call him- or herself an "expert," without any
real need to justify that position. This can be implied or explicitly
stated. "The real reason for X is Y, because that's what I've found
through my research." Never mind that you have no idea of how to
develop a research methodology, your ideas are now broadcast throught
the electronic world, and you have now become an instant expert in the
eyes of many readers.
	The parallel in the "real" world is the UFO conference, where
experts (with a varying amount of real expertise) inform audiences of
their findings. You can listen to them and hang on their every word, or
think about whether or not what they are saying is true.
	Or, indeed, ignore commentary in the Swamp Gas Journal and
instead read UFO Universe. 

	A lovely couple: Susan Blackmore and Michael Persinger

	It all started in England, then Australia, then Canada, then
... (you see how this Internet stuff works, yet?).
	A number of years ago, so the story goes, Susan Blackmore was a
psychic researcher. However, things didn't go so well in her
investigations, and she became frustrated with her lack of solid
evidence for the phenomena. Eventually, she gave up on it altogether
and joined the ranks of the skeptics, even becoming a CSICOP executive.
	This was a feather in the cap for debunkers. A former psychic
investigator throwing in the towel and becoming an archskeptic? A
powerful argument against the reality of psychic phenomena, if there
ever was one.
	But then Michael Persinger crossed her path.
	As anyone who has read SGJ knows, I'm not a fan of the tectonic
strain theory of UFOs. If you're really interested in why this is so,
take a look in the rutgers ftp directory in my file area. I simply have
found no reason to accept the published findings about the seismic/UFO
link. I even did a study of my own, in which I compared the huge number
of UFO sightings in the UFOROM MANUFOCAT database with Manitoba's lack
of seismic activity. Persinger responded by finding high correlations
between the UFOs in Manitoba and weak tremors up to 700 km away from
the UFO sighting locations and several months distant in time. There's
no arguing with statistics, I guess. Never mind that most of the
MANUFOCAT sightings were actually airplanes and stars misinterpreted as
UFOs, the correlations were there.
	Give me a break.
	Anyway, back to Susan Blackmore. She travelled to Persinger's
lab in Sudbury, where he impressed her with his research facilities,
especially his "magic hat," which directs electromagnetic radiation
inside a subject's brain. The sensations reported by subjects have been
compared with those of UFO abductees. Persinger and Blackmore agreed on
this point, apparently.
	Blackmore wrote about her trip to see Persinger for an article
in NEW SCIENTIST. It caused some controversy, and I was asked for my
comments. Here's some relevant discussion, started by Bill Chalker in
Australia:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From alt.paranet.abduct Thu Nov 24 09:19:21 1994
Newsgroups: alt.paranet.abduct
Subject: Re: NEW SCIENTIST ON ABDUCTIONS
Date: 23 Nov 1994 15:39:34 GMT

In <12371.2ED1C1D4@paranet.FIDONET.ORG> Bill.Chalker@f8.n1040.z9.FIDONET.ORG (Bill Chalker) writes:
>New Scientist, 19 November, 1994, carries an article by Dr. Susan Blackmore, on
>alien abductions.  It largely focuses on the work of Dr. Michael Persinger,
>particularly his helment device which sets up magnetic fields across a
>subject's head.  The article argues that people with high levels of electrical
>activity in their temporal lobes are more proned to such experiences, and that
>such experiences can be explained by excessive bursts of electrical activity in
>the brain. Persinger's helment device is intended to try and simulate the
>stimulation of the temporal lobe and thereby create such episodes. Dr.
>Blackmore reports that the method has yet to induce a full sensation of alien
>abduction.

[discussion of Persinger's "magic hat" deleted]

>Dr. Persinger's research is to be applauded, since he is trying to create a
>repeatable experiment - the classic mainstay of the scientific method.

Yes, true, I can't take anything away from him for actually conducting
some studies in order to ascertain what's going on.

But you raise an interesting point: "repeatable". Although his studies
are repeatable (which is needed in order to embrace them fully), I have
yet to hear of anyone attempting to do this. The problem is that it's
expensive, time-consuming, and you'd need to know a great deal more
about his methodology. Perhaps a philanthropist would be interested in
donating a "magic hat" to a skeptical researcher for use in independent
studies. Until then, Persinger's research is interesting, but not
conclusive..

You'll note also that even Blackmore (a CSICOP exec) noted that the
"magic hat" failed to produce anything *close* to an alien abduction.
This is a point that should be emphasized, since I've already read
elsewhere that some debunkers are suggesting that the "magic hat"
*explains* abduction experiences. It most certainly does not!

>Dr. Persinger's interest in UFOs and more lately abductyions, has been a many
>for ongoing debate amongst researchers.  He has been a proponent of the
>"tectonic strain" theory.
>Perhaps Chris Rutkowski can post some reports on the status of Dr. Persinger's
>"magic hat" experiments.
>Chris, this is a longwinded way of requesting some clarifications on theses
>fascinating issues.  Greetings from down under.

Okay, I'll bite. To be quite honest, I have not been following his
"magic hat" experiments lately. There are several reasons. First of
all, his "faulty" TST methology (pun intended) indicates to me that a
certain portion of his research can be questioned. Why should we listen
to him now? Secondly, his quantum leaps of interpretation seem to
suggest he thinks temporal lobe induction explains abduction
experiences fully. If he had spent any time reviewing the literature,
he would immediately see that the diversity and detail of the
experiences do not point to his theory as an ultimate explanation.
Third, as noted above, we need some independent verification of his
results. When I last looked through his published work relating to EM
induction helmets, he was already talking about enhanced ESP ability
and awareness. My question is, why did Blackmore get snowed by him if
she's such a skeptic?

On the other hand (to show you all that I'm more skeptical and
objective than most debunkers), I can't begrudge him his efforts. It is
*possible* that EM radiation plays an important role in altering our
view of our immediate environment and *may* help to understand certain
dissociative disorders. But there's an obvious problem: if EM radiation
affects the temporal lobe that much to create abduction experiences in
the minds of abductees, what about manmade EM radiation in the
environment? How about abduction experiences brought on by *cellular
phones*! computer terminals! electric blankets! etc. Surely these are
more intense sources of EM radiation and would cause *more* effects!
Hmmm. I think there's a *real* experiment there ...
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Basically, my objection to the reported correlation between abduction
accounts and the temporal lobe effects is that the former are very
detailed, descriptive narratives of coherent experiences, whereas the
latter are vague sensations. Now, it's possible that with a skewed
belief system, dissociation and fantasy-prone personalities, EM effects
*might* induce an abduction fantasy. But that's a long way from an
explanation for abductions. A good try, but not quite.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Swamp Gas Journal is copyright (c) 1994 by Chris A. Rutkowski.
Mail correspondence to:  Box 1918, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  R3C 3R2
Email correspondence to:  rutkows@ccu.umanitoba.ca
The Swamp Gas Journal, UFOROM and NAICCR are not affiliated with the
University of Manitoba, and don't represent its ideas, opinions, etc.
(Standard disclaimer)


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