Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Mic Night

Emails were recently sent from The UFO Trail to some 30 or so members of the UFO community. Recipients were asked to provide statements to be quoted and explaining what they thought would be the most constructive directions for ufology.

Over half of those contacted responded, representing a quite diverse sample of individuals, life experience and resulting points of view. Comments were provided by experiencers, scientists, investigators and bloggers, among additional and multiple demographics that could be used to describe each of them. Following is what they had to say:

Travis Walton suggested researchers widen their scopes of vision and stop forcing all UFO and alien reports into limited categories. Travis additionally expressed his opinion on what he feels may be a variety of relevant entities, explaining: 

Jack, I have a number of suggestions for researchers, but I will pick one. I think researchers should stop trying to force all UFO/alien reports into one or a few categories. I see constant reference to "the" aliens or "the greys" as if this represented a single specie or race.
They speak of "the" alien agenda or purpose. Differences in descriptions are brushed aside as witness error or "screen memories."
There are numerous species on earth that have evolved forms very similar to each other yet are widely separated geographically and are not genetically related at all, such as the American flying squirrel and the Australian sugar glider, a marsupial. Marsupials split off the mammalian a long, long time before there were flying squirrels or sugar gliders. 
In my opinion it is entirely likely that many of those entities lumped into the "grey" category are actually from entirely different star systems. Basically, similar environments will shape the species arising there similarly. I think this concept extends to other types of beings, even perhaps those called Nordics.
Ross Holcomb
Commander Ross Holcomb, US Navy, Retired, capped off a multifaceted 25-year career serving in intelligence. His extensive travels took him to every state in the union and over 60 countries. He began pursuing his metaphysical interests full-time following his retirement in 2005 and as described on his website, Energy Works!. Ross shared some perspectives as expressed by Travis about the manners researchers interpret evidence and the possibility many types of beings may be interacting with humans:

The UFO question/issue is relevant in nearly every field of unexplained mysteries. And, I believe, the answer is pretty much the same for each field of inquiry: crop circles, UFOs, cattle mutilations, abductions, MIBs, Big Foot, ET visitation, et al:

The truth behind these phenomena is far grander and deeper than 99% of the researchers believe. They look into the phenomenon (with biases and filtered perspective) and latch onto, or develop their own, pet theory. Then they work hard at selectively collecting and touting those pieces of evidence that fit their pet theory and then defend it aggressively while they ignore, discard, or destroy those pieces of evidence that they do not wish to deal with.

We need to take the blinders off and think much bigger! There may be thousands of different types of beings interacting with humans in a variety of forms and dimensions. They may or may not use/need ships for conveyance and some may be nuts and bolts while others are totally light/energy. There may be as many different agendas as there are types of beings. Some benevolent and some not so much. What was prevalent 50 years ago may no longer be today. UFOs/ETs is not a "one answer fits all" issue. There are likely many facets and layers to the phenomenon which explains the variety of experiences and evidence by so many different people over the years.

Secondly, our tools and methods of observation (collecting empirical evidence) are very inadequate for the task. The percentage of ET/UFO activity in the ranges of EM spectrum that we can observe and measure is minimal. Let's start exploring and tuning in to alternate ranges of frequencies in the known spectrum and take more seriously those that can "tune in" to the less well known areas of the energy spectra.
Ross and his wife are involved in many projects, including leading crop circle tours to England. They recently embarked upon their twelfth such expedition and The UFO Trail wishes them and their fellow travelers safe and rewarding journeys.

Kathleen Marden
Kathleen Marden currently serves as the MUFON Director of Abduction Research. She is a researcher, author and lecturer. Following are her comments about constructive directions for ufology:
UFO research and investigation is a diverse topic dominated by a number of dedicated individuals, each specializing in his or her area of expertise. We take our work seriously and expect others to regard us with respect and consideration.

Any serious researcher deserves to be treated fairly. That is not to say that we are perfect. We do, however, strive to present well researched, unbiased information based upon our meticulous research.

Each of us approaches our work differently, based upon our educational backgrounds and personal interests. To name a few, UFO researchers are historians, physical scientists, social scientists, journalists, police officers, artists, and medical doctors. Others are hard working investigative volunteers from a variety of diverse backgrounds. The one thing that we all have in common is our dedication to the search for the truth.

Along our journey we are likely to encounter naysayers, pseudo-skeptics, and adult bullies whose primary purpose is to present an armchair debunking analysis, often based upon false information and laced with ad hominem remarks. We’ll also encounter respectful skeptics that will nudge us in the right direction, should we overlook an important piece of evidence.

History is rife with authoritative claims made by reputable scientists and others that have impeded scientific investigation and progress. Throughout history it has been difficult, if not impossible to promote the acceptance of new discoveries. We, as UFO researchers and investigators, are aware of the great challenges we face. Mutual respect and consideration will go a long way in moving UFO research ahead. Additionally, we must be patient and present ourselves as the professionals that we are. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, especially when it is offered privately by an informed source, and without a mean-spirited attempt to embarrass or demean.
Professor Ted Goertzel of the Rutgers University Sociology Department was not enthusiastic about the likelihood anything particularly constructive would arise out of ufology, simply stating, "I suggest finding a new area to investigate."

"Probably a pretty solid suggestion, sir," I replied.

It should nonetheless be noted in 1994 the professor published valid critical review of alien abduction research in his work, Measuring the Prevalence of False Memories: A New Interpretation of a "UFO Abduction Survey." His contributions to the genre are respected and appreciated by The UFO Trail

Leah Haley also expressed herself concisely, stating, "Ufology would be better served if more people would focus on searching for and analyzing the evidence rather than spending their time engaging in verbal battles with others and letting their emotions dictate what 'the truth' is."

True enough, Leah. Frank Purcell, a retired process design engineer who graciously provides work to The 'Trail, recently expressed similar observations, stating, "When a 'rebuttal' degrades from a rational discussion to hate mongering and personal attacks, it means that there is no good counter argument to what has been presented."

Commenting on constructive directions for ufology, Frank explained:
I think everyone will agree that more emphasis needs to be made on measurement. A few 'hot spots' around the world are equipped with cameras (e.g., Hessdalen, San Luis Valley). More UFO observatories should be built. I have no idea how the money for such things could be raised, nevertheless, these are the relatively easy problems.

Much harder problems are mind sets. The current focus most enthusiasts have on UFOs is too narrow. Most people interested in UFOs take it as a given that interstellar intelligences are behind the phenomena. It's a belief based on nothing. Few interested in UFOs know anything about PSI science. (In fact most people don't consider PSI a science.) Only a few interested in 'ghosts' and paranormal phenomena have any interest in UFOs, and conversely. Each genre is shunned not only by mainstream, but mostly shunned by other fringe groups.

Lastly, nothing within ufology is ever put to rest. No matter the strength of counter evidence to specific claims, myths continue to compound. Beliefs outweigh facts just as they do with religion, politics, scientism, and every other belief system humans have ever invented. Ufology needs to be treated as a science, not as just one more pointless belief system.
Tim Printy of the Skeptical UFO Newsletter, popularly known as SUNlite, echoed Frank's calls for more specific observation, particularly concerning camera systems. Tim noted such systems could improve data collection and analysis, among other points expressed:

My advice to UFOlogy is to stop wasting time chasing UFO reports both old and new. They haven't solved anything in the past 60+ years and there is no reason to believe they will solve anything in the future. 

The reports by themselves provide very little useful data for analysis. Most of these reports do not even contain real observational data that can be analyzed.

The best hope is for a technological solution to eliminate the human factor. Fortunately, the technology exists today with various inexpensive low light camera systems being readily available that could effectively cover and record the entire sky. A system of such cameras and associated recording equipment at several locations can be used to provide triangulation data that can be quantified and analyzed. It would eliminate the human element and might show that UFOs ARE worth studying.
Denise Stoner
Denise Stoner wears many hats within the UFO community, including that of long time Florida MUFON Chief Field Investigator. She wrote:  
I find this a very difficult arena to enter - from any direction actually. There are so many people who are firm believers in this phenomenon and others who are out to tear it apart by any method possible including the use of insults, rudeness, etc. tossed at others rather than sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences - and in the process showing each other the utmost respect. The only way to find the truth is to listen, research, study, and continue on in this way until every door has been opened and the answer stares us straight in the face - no doubts, guesses, no more questions or speculation - we know beyond the shadow of a doubt what this is all about.

However, if we stop searching now, and base our belief on theory alone, something is sadly missing. What happened to our great explorers who began, for instance, believing our world was flat? How many people stayed back on their shores shaking their fists, sure this adventurer would fall off the earth should he sail toward the horizon? ...there were many.

Rather than urge him on and give positive reinforcement, although they feared for themselves, they reacted out of their own fear and negativity. They couldn't wish him well or God Speed. Instead they issued threats of banishment and more.

Hopefully we are a better people now and have the heart, minds, and daring to wait for our explorers of the unknown to complete their voyages, returning with the truth, whatever it is, placing before us clear and real as our own existence - the final answer to this SECRET that has so disturbed our very being for many centuries.
Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Rosemary Ellen Guiley has written extensively on Fortean phenomena. She is among those who feel it would be constructive to further examine the possibility that different genres of the paranormal may be divided more by perception than actuality:

UFO and ET experiences are not self-contained, but are part of a vast web of interrelated phenomena penetrating other areas, such as the paranormal and crypto-creatures. Ufology would benefit from a deeper examination of the cross-connections and patterns involving hauntings, shadow people, Djinn, Bigfoot, fairies, angels, and mysterious creatures. Also, more consideration should be given to the interdimensional aspects of UFO and ET experiences: we may be dealing more with shape-shifting ultraterrestrials from parallel dimensions connected to earth, rather than with beings from distant worlds.
Regan Lee maintains several blogs, including The Orange Orb, in which she described her puzzling sighting of an orb-like object, as well as additional paranormal experiences. Her thoughts:
UFOs present themselves as any number of a hundred diverse things. It may be one of those things (Djinn, fairies, angels,ETs, etc.) or, not. For sure it takes on many guises.

Then there are the entities -- human and non -- that take advantage of that fact. Because of that we can't afford to get stuck on one theory, insisting UFOs are ... whatever. We definitely can't play UFO Police and decide who and what's valid and what isn't. We know UFOs/aliens are, the question is, what? 

We also can't forget the witness, which may seem obvious. But the witness is not there for us, we are there for the witness. Having formalized standards is nice but we need to be flexible and not be afraid to toss those and think of something else when it comes to exploring UFO events.
Writer/researcher Kathy Kasten has delved into such topics as unidentified objects reportedly navigating the skies, state-sponsored covert use of involuntary human research subjects and alleged alien abduction, among others. Her path led her to serving on the Human Subjects Protection Committee at the University of California at Los Angeles.

"In order to get at the real phenomena we will have to begin to understand just what is human perception and how it functions," Kathy explained, adding that deepening our understandings of fields such as neurology would help us gain more accurate insights into the challenges. 

"One of the discoveries of research into human perception was defining what Universe is, so far as we understand it. What that means is most of the time what appears to be happening 'out there' is really happening 'in here.'”

Kathy went on to cite how individual worldviews are "shaped by neurological, physiological, psychological and sociological experiences," but don't be too quick to conclude what you think that might indicate about her perspectives. She does not by any means suggest all reports of high strangeness can be explained by such as psychological conditioning and how the brain transfers and stores information - that may only be part of the equation in some circumstances. 

"I am going to suggest that EARs (entities of an alternative reality) who make their appearance in our reality are able to create the energy to emerge into our worldview for a short time, do whatever they need to do to attract our attention, and then dissipate back into their separate reality. Further, I suggest it takes cooperation - whether consciously or subconsciously - between the entity and the human mind," Kathy explained in Possible Key to Understanding the Phenomena and generously provided in response to inquiries from The UFO Trail.
She suggested constructive directions for ufology would include taking more responsibility for the extents human personality, worldview and physiology influence what the witness perceives they experience. This could include implementing revised and extensive investigative procedures to more accurately assess data.

Mike Clelland
Mike Clelland explores issues surrounding experiences of high strangeness, some of them his, on his blog, Hidden Experience. He commented:
This subject is so elusive that it's nearly impossible to formalize it like other sciences. You can't force the UFO peg into a hole of your own design. I am not a scientist, I'm ever the creative type, and I'm content ignoring anything that resembles a formalized process.

There are aspects of this phenomenon that challenge everything, including my definition of reality. There are little strings all tangled up that seem to go everywhere. Life and death, expanded consciousness, mind-control, emerging mythology, channeling, mysticism, synchronicity, psychic weirdness and outright magic are all connected. Everything is on the table.

You start out questioning, "What is happening?" and you very quickly need to ask, "What is God?"

Too many researchers have locked themselves into confined little boxes. I've heard too many people say, "Well that's just ridiculous!" when asked about some of the outlying strangeness. When I dig into that preconceived ridiculous stuff, I find that there really is something going on there. It's complicated and slippery - but something is going on.

We are all human, and we are trying to peer into something from beyond our realm. True understanding might be impossible. We need to pull off our blinders, and this ain't easy. Or, at least we need to admit that we have these blinders - all of us.

I guess my point is that we need to admit that our own preconceived baggage is hindering the process of truly digging deeply into the subject. This includes me too, I have my own crappy flaws that make me just as guilty as anyone else. Everyone is gonna have different conclusions, that's just what we get. But I really believe that everyone, no matter how nutty (or how conservative), is bringing important puzzle pieces to the table.
Michael Naisbitt writes UFO-Blog, dedicated to "fighting truth decay." He also maintains the site, Drone Hoax, a page that should be saved in the favorites of anyone researching the drones fiasco. Expressing concerns related to a prevailing lack of qualified peer review, Michael commented: 
Until Ufology starts to police its own ranks it will be of no interest to the wider scientific community and, frankly, encouraging scientific/academic involvement should be a priority.

Divisiveness has essentially plagued Ufology since its inception. Now, with more information readily available than ever before in history, as well as globally communicating with others never being easier, you’d expect that some common ground could be found. Yet, paradoxically it seems that the gulfs are widening within the UFO community. Indeed this is perhaps most strikingly evident in the way the phenomenon is approached and interpreted by the majority of UK Ufologists compared to those of the US.

Unfortunately, the wider UFO community is so fractured & disjointed with nothing even remotely resembling a consensus on even the most basic assumptions, I fear there will never be a satisfactory resolution, and certainly not in the near future. I guess ultimately Ufologists get the Ufology they deserve.
Ryan Dube
Ryan Dube of Reality Uncovered and Top Secret Writers is well acquainted with the inherent challenges. From his vantage point, much more scientific inquiry would be beneficial:
If you've read my past writing then you probably know how frustrated I am with Ufology, and how the infighting and corrosive personalities drove me away from dealing with most of the stories and discussions that surface inside of that community.

However, the idea of formulating a new, future direction is a refreshing one. It's also extremely difficult, because there are so many pet theories that people who are well-entrenched in the UFO community have written about and feel the need to defend. How many times have you watched a UFO documentary and all they can come up with is the tired, old Roswell theories of Stanton Friedman - bringing him in as an "expert" as though the field of Ufology has not and cannot progress beyond the singular event of Roswell and the core theory of little green men crashing an alien disk into the sand?

For Ufology to enter into mainstream consciousness as a respectable form of scientific inquiry - it needs to become more like other scientific fields of study like paleontology or epidemiology. Even though those are fields that explore either new or old "unknowns" - the researchers involved understand the process of scientific inquiry. That is: never holding firm to one rigid theory, but instead always questioning, testing, and retesting. That is the answer - everything we think we know about sightings, abductions, and other related phenomena needs to be questioned, re-examined, retested and re-validated under real scientific study.

So long as Ufology continues to exist as a "hobby" for so many untrained and unscientific so-called "researchers," it will never have a chance of being accepted as a legitimate scientific inquiry by the mainstream. I honestly hold very little hope for this ever happening, unless someone finally makes a ground-breaking discovery that unsettles the very foundation of everything vanguard Ufologists have always accepted as their "truth" when it comes to UFOs.
Ryan wrote, FAA Instructions to Staff on UFO Sightings Debunk Cover-Up Claims, an article summarizing verified, pertinent yet rarely discussed details of events surrounding the investigation of a high profile UFO sighting. Such details contradicted Leslie Kean's sensational description of a supposed cover-up of the sighting and continued to be selectively omitted from Kean's account even after Ryan and research partner Andy Murray specifically brought the circumstances to her attention. The UFO Trail does not slap many 'must read' items on you, but this is sincerely a piece that should be read by all who wish to more fully understand the complexities of ufology and what is actually taking place.

Andy Murray was also a key player in revealing what competent investigation demonstrated to be a hoax perpetrated by a supposed whistle blower. The investigation and its findings were explained by Stephen Broadbent in his article, Ufology Exopolitics Special: Source A Exposed!.

Commenting on constructive directions for ufology, Andy explained:

I'm very dismayed by conventional ufology. It seems to be more focused on getting attention than the actual truth. One area I'm hopeful about are the great people - online friends - that hold the famous ufologists accountable; folks I've met online that see through the charades of Kean, Hopkins and others.

Ufology has benefited from a grass roots effort that refuses to allow the phenomena to be defined by mainstream fanatical ufologists. It sure has a long way to go, though.

Recently I became a mod at UFO Casebook. Hopefully a balance can be struck between the folks who believe anything and the folks that believe nothing.

I know there is some type of phenomenon that defies reasonable explanations - I've seen it. However, I don't believe jumping to conclusions answers any questions.

I remain skeptical of claims, but a good friend once told me to "consider everything and believe nothing." Ufology needs to get away from belief, it's not a religion, but everything should be considered in the absence of any real hard proof.
Carol Rainey
Filmmaker, writer and multi-talented Carol Rainey has addressed problems within ufology and, more specifically, within abduction research. She thoroughly explored such issues in her article, The Priests of High Strangeness: Co-Creation of the "Alien Abduction Phenomenon," which should be on your reading list if you have not yet read it. Concerning constructive directions, Carol provided the following practical considerations:
In brief, these would be my suggestions to potential investigators for studying a phenomenon that is still a baffling, though very real, human experience:  
  • Learn how to use raw data, allowing in all of the reported material, not rigging the narrative by selecting out only the data that fits that investigator’s preferred narrative. 
  • Have a researcher’s work peer reviewed prior to his/her publication. It’s a tried and true method of helping to spot a fallacy or other logical weakness in a case.
  • Try the scientific method or some kind of cross-disciplinary method.
  • Don't work alone: work with cross-disciplinary teams, all focused together on a case that all agree is worthy of their time. 
  • Keep a computerized database of the case findings, not chicken-scratching on note cards. (The epidemiologists from the Framingham Heart Study had an excellent database for the mining and it has been yielding up new epidemiological findings for decades, simply because they knew how to collect and store source data.)
  • Try some other way of recall, not hypnosis. It's simply potentially damaging to the subject and doesn't help the field get anywhere near those much needed National Institutes of Health dollars for grants. 
  • Keep current with the rapidly advancing field of neurobiology. Scientists have made great strides over the past decade in understanding memory and the validity of recovered memory. The field has changed greatly, while alien abduction researchers are still working on the basis of very old information. 
  • Have people's experiences heard and recorded in a neutral environment (When a new subject enters a famous UFO researcher's living room or studio, she is already being “led” by the very context of the setting). 
  • Try verifying that your case or book's main subject is fully credible. 
  • Be less credulous, and welcome in people who are open to the abduction possibility but who tend toward skepticism. They can help keep the researcher from falling into the paranormal trap of flat out embracing what seems to be real.
Dr. Tyler Kokjohn is a Professor of Microbiology at the Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has contributed much appreciated work to The UFO Trail on multiple occasions, is involved in ufology in a variety of capacities and maintains an informative YouTube channel. He offered the following comments:

Carol Rainey kindly shared her insightful ideas before publication and I have only a few things to add -

1. Critical reviews of the field are needed

Mainstream scientists continuously assess the state of knowledge in their fields. Part of this occurs as a consequence of the research publication process when data are evaluated and discussed. In addition to standard research papers, scientists also produce review articles and commentaries. These documents provide a synopsis of the published methods and principal results, critique the merits and weaknesses of the currently reigning hypotheses and identify gaps in existing understanding where additional research is warranted.

A veritable lifetime after Roswell, the UFO enterprise appears to be in a state of near disillusionment. Many ideas explaining UFOs have been proposed - the extraterrestrial hypothesis, cryptoterrestrials, 'inter-dimensional' apparitions, etc. - what are their respective pros and cons? More important, after examining the available data and concepts, what testable predictions can be developed for each? Elimination of untenable ideas is a crucial facet of progress and can be facilitated by collecting competing concepts and comparing them.

2. Broaden the knowledge base by utilizing largely overlooked opportunities to assess data

"Abductology" in particular suffers from a profound lack of perspective. By necessity, investigations are proprietary and destined for sale. Apart from rare glimpses offered by true insiders like Carol Rainey or the work of authors like Jim Schnabel* and Kevin Randle et al.,** consumers have virtually no insight into the actual methods employed by investigators or if it is valid to generalize their results. Abduction investigators have been publishing and lecturing widely for decades, but methods and conclusions vary widely and there exists no consensus as to the basic nature of the phenomena. Worse, investigators themselves have not recognized the need to establish context, ordinarily one of the first things a scientist will seek to do. Balkanized and encapsulated into the constraints of narrow narratives, abduction research has yet to reveal its own extent and boundaries. The present situation is troubling because it so strongly suggests that the explanatory storyline depends heavily on the storyteller.

Abduction investigators, including two asserting they possess many thousands of experiencer letters, apparently have little incentive to glean any new insights from the literal mountain of data they already have in hand. New surveys have been launched recently. Will the information garnered by the survey directors be used to further understanding of the mystery or will a new collection of the juiciest stories be on sale soon at UFO conventions? Clearly, a new investigative model is in order.

3. Consumers - Empower yourself

The good news is that a mechanism with the power to change everything already exists. Sites like and the Magonia blog have the potential to impose higher standards through the application of raw economic force. These sites provide critical reviews of books and empower consumers to weigh in with their personal evaluations or issue comments on the critiques of others. While what is on offer to consumers today is too often a pale imitation of science, readers now possess an unprecedented potential to act as effective public peer reviewers of quality. In principle, a field long accustomed to operating without meaningful quality standards may soon have them imposed from without through the insights and demands of discriminating and vocal consumers. Although the commercialization of ufology may have certain negative aspects, should enough readers accept the challenge to add value rather than just volume to discussions, the balance might shift in favor of improved product quality to meet direct market demands.

*Jim Schnabel. 1994. Dark White - Aliens, Abductions and the UFO Obsession. Hamish Hamilton.

** Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes and William P. Cone. 1999. The Abduction Enigma. Forge.
I am grateful to all who contributed to this post. Your time and attention are appreciated. Thank you.

As for me, I think a constructive direction for ufology would be cultivating an environment that prioritizes personal responsibility, particularly in discriminating between established facts and chosen beliefs. Taking such responsibility and expecting it of others applies across the board and is possible regardless of personal areas of interest, levels of experience and extents of involvement.

I recognize fact as defined by Merriam-Webster. From my vantage point, life is mysterious enough, more than adequately wondrous and plenty full of intriguing challenges without jumping to premature conclusions. The creative process and exploration of the unknown need not be stifled by respecting accuracy.

Compassion and civility are important when applicable but are not synonymous with enabling unaccountability. Reasonable debate protocol and fair fighting rules should be practiced when confronting others about misrepresenting facts or irresponsible behavior, but it should be clearly understood that an environment of personal responsibility is not only conducive to addressing fraud and ill conceived research methodology, but demands it.

People are entitled to believe anything they want to believe. They are not entitled to do harm to others in the process. They are also not entitled to uncontested claims and they are not entitled to demand you support their belief systems.

As long as there is a market for presenting unsubstantiated claims as facts, there will be suppliers. Stop buying and they will stop selling. The whole is the sum of its parts, as each and every one of us and our actions collectively contribute to a prevailing paradigm. We are individually responsible for the finished product.

If we want change and improvement, then we must change and improve. If we want truth, we must consistently provide it while refusing to accept its substitutes. If conclusions are claimed, we are entitled to require presentation of supporting data and analysis. If others do not share our standards, we are justified in choosing not to support them and their activities. We are not only entitled to such conditions, we have personal responsibilities to provide, support and request them.

You deserve more quality. Refuse to accept less.

Now you know what some people and I have to say about constructive directions for ufology. What say you?

Possible Key to Understanding the Phenomena

Kathy Kasten is an experienced writer/researcher who delved extensively into the UFO phenomenon and related subject matter. Her resume includes acting as staff liaison on the Human Subjects Protection Committee while employed at the University of California at Los Angeles. She contributed the following article in response to inquiries from The UFO Trail:
Possible Key to Understanding the Phenomena
by Kathy Kasten
Thursday, June 28, 2012

In 1995, after I had researched and written articles on mind control for a national magazine, I decided to mount a campaign to petition the U.S. National Institutes of Health to intercede on behalf of human targets of what I called covert field testing of mind control technology.  It involved soliciting testimonies from the public.  To my surprise, some of the respondents claimed interactions with entities of an alternative reality (EARs).  At the time, no one investigating the so-called Abduction Scenario was reporting an intersect between mind control and telepathic communication with EARs.  However, an intersect was being claimed by mind control targets.  I thought I was alone in this opinion.

That is, until I heard an interview with an expert who detects electronic harassment of targeted individuals.  During that interview, Roger Tolces, the expert, stated he thought telepathic contact reported by humans interacting with EARs could in fact be the result of synthetic telepathic technology.  A method of electronic harassment.  For the first time, I realized there were others who might hold the same opinion as myself.

Leaving aside the very real possibility of electronic harassment and accepting interaction with EARs, it means the UFO research community will have to become more sophisticated in separating the signal from the noise.  Meaning UFO researchers will have to deal with the possibility of contact/interaction between humans and EARs.  UFO researchers are already dealing with the problem of tracking down what is open sky testing of exotic/experimental aircraft and what observers are reporting as the flight of an extraterrestrial craft.  Again, separating the signal from the noise.  There is quite probably real phenomena embedded in the noise.

Why bring up abduction, or better yet, interactions with EARs and UFOs and humans if the claim of extraterrestrial craft flying around the skies implies something or someone is flying it?  The question goes directly to the problem, the problem being that it has been over 60 years since the term UFOs, and the implication of extraterrestrials visiting the planet has never been proven definitively.  There are rumors, myths, testimonies to the response that there is evidence.  I have to report to having just watched a History Channel program called “Secret Access” which claimed it would provide irrefutable proof.  What I saw was reenactments and flashes of pieces of paper stamped Confidential.  Some talking heads being impassioned and providing their opinions.  Fuzzy lights flashing between the trees in the woods.  Did anyone know for sure what they were looking at; experiencing?  They were all very sincere and were convinced they knew just what they were looking at.  How can the witnesses be so sure?

In order to get at the real phenomena we will have to begin to understand just what is human perception and how it functions.  Albeit, not an easy task.  To begin with, the only device recording the experience - whether light in the sky, light blinking on and off through the trees in the woods or someone claiming an entity standing in their bedroom as they emerge from a deep sleep.  The reports are influenced by the observer’s worldview, the initial viewpoint of the observer/experiencer.  The interview and background education of the interviewer is considered crucial to the report.  However, so far the interview process has not evolved with our understanding of the human mental and psychological processes.  The interview process will need to be more intensive.  The usual questions that have been asked are whether the individual providing testimony has been drinking, taking drugs; whether the individual is a trained observer, i.e., police, military, etc.  This type of profiling of a “witness” does not nearly cover the circumstances needed to determine the conditions and mental states influencing the observer.  

A new model of interviewing will need to be developed.  Before discussing a model, we need to take a wild ride into the changes happening in astronomy/cosmology/neurology.  One of the discoveries of research into human perception was defining what Universe is, so far as we understand it.  What that means is most of the time what appears to be happening “out there” is really happening “in here.”  Humans are continually projecting from “in here” to “out there.”  This is important to understand and pay close attention to.  It is not the way the world has been perceived.   Hopefully, the following will lead to a new understanding as to how the world really works and help us strip away false notions.  

The first new rule: the universe does not exist in a state independent from the observer.  That new rule is according to Robert Lanza, M.D., scientist and author of “Biocentrism.”  This is how Dr. Lanza defines the revised worldview: “We carry space and time around us like turtles with shells.  The Universe is comprised of billions of spheres of reality, a melange whose scope is breathtaking.  Strikingly, anything you don’t observe directly exists only as potential - or more mathematically speaking - as a haze of probability.  Nothing exists until it is observed.”  Dr. Lanza goes on to state that while we are in the process of sorting out the fact that time and space don’t exist without us, our reality will feel like a bit of madness.

According to Dr. Mark Robert Waldman, the madness comes from the fact the human brain generates every type of belief.  Each human brain constructs its own version of reality and is biased by its experience of perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social beliefs, resulting in a limited view of reality of what actually exists “out there.”  In other words, an individual worldview is shaped by neurological, physiological, psychological and sociological experiences.  This is common to all humans.  Both the interviewer and interviewee are influenced by their own worldview.  A trained observer might do a little better with controlling what he perceives, but it depends on mood, what was previously eaten, whether the water was cleared of toxins or they brushed their teeth.  Yes, it is true.  Toxins affect human perceptions.  Not just drugs and alcohol.

The ride we are taking is going to get even wilder.  Scientists and cosmologists have postulated there is a condition of universe called dark matter and dark energy.  One of the searches for dark matter is taking place underground in Minnesota.  The experiment is exhibiting a paradox.  The experiment is called Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS).  It is attempting to detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS).  The researchers think they found evidence of dark matter but are not sure because there may have been a signal but they couldn’t conclude if in fact it was a signal.  Well, no wonder we can’t figure out whether extra normal phenomena is “real” or not, because if there are weak particles attempting to interact with our world, should we be wondering if this the method another world is emerging into ours?

Other researchers are attempting to describe multilevel universes.  Again, they have encountered paradoxes.  The discussion of multilevel universes is too vast a subject to be covered in this article.  However, when I let go of my limited worldview and begin to wander into new territory, I have to wonder if the Matrix, Zero Point, Multilevel Universes are all part of the phenomena physicists are calling dark matter and dark energy.  A glimpse into Alternative Realities (ARs), as it were.  

One more point, searching for dark matter and dark energy isn’t only taking place “out there.”  A research team at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis is claiming dark energy resides in the human brain (The Brain’s Dark Energy”, by Marcus E. Raichle, Scientific American, March 2010, pages. 44-49).  Using positron-emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging, Dr. Raichle has uncovered the fact that the brain is never “at rest.”  When not focused, the brain goes into a state Raichle calls “default mode network" (DMN).  It is a state of readiness, waiting in case it needs to react to novel or unexpected inputs.  DMN is necessary because the brain receives very little data externally and is continuously interacting within itself.  According to Raichle, “(I)n years to come the brain’s dark energy may provide clues to the nature of consciousness.  As most neuroscientists acknowledge, our conscious interactions with the world are just a small part of the brain’s activity.  What goes on below the level of awareness - the brain’s dark energy, for one - is critical in providing the context for what we experience in the small window of conscious awareness.”  Raichle concludes that new theories regarding data on cells, circuits and neural systems are necessary to explain how the DMN serves to organize its dark energy.  “Over time neural dark energy may ultimately be revealed as the very essence of what makes us tick.”

I am going to suggest that EARs who make their appearance in our reality are able to create the energy to emerge into our worldview for a short time, do whatever they need to do to attract our attention, and then dissipate back into their separate reality.  Further, I suggest it takes cooperation - whether consciously or subconsciously - between the entity and the human mind.  At this juncture, the duration is very short and is filtered through the human mind’s perception of reality.  For example, a pilot thinks he sees a craft he cannot identify.  At first, just a glimpse.  A flicker across neurons.  Moments later, the conscious mind steps in and provides details.  What those details consist of is determined by the worldview of the observer.

What if we humans want to cooperate to hold the appearance for a longer duration?  Or, understand how we humans precipitate the conditions under which an EAR can make its appearance?  Perhaps, the answer lies in some of the protocols developed by Joseph McMoneagle based on his remote viewing experiences.  The protocols describe steps that can be taken to facilitate contact with alternative realities.  McMoneagle’s remote viewing protocols are supported by Raichle’s research, with one caveat.  Raichle’s research has determined that the mind is never “at rest.”  Instead of the protocol’s requirement that the mind be “at rest,” the mind should be unfocused, in default mode.  Idling.  Waiting.  Ready in case something happens.  Suspended between consciousness and subconsciousness.  The protocol calls for an understanding of the “hard-wiring of the brain.”  The very research Raichle is conducting in his laboratory.

During the DMN state, if there is a flicker of something across the neurons - at the subconscious level -, it is recorded and stored for later interpretation by the conscious mind.  Micro seconds later, the conscious mind/the ego will attempt to ascribe meaning - using the observer’s worldview.  The ascribing of meaning by the ego should be discouraged by the observer.  Only the flicker of whatever is attempting to manifest should be encouraged.  According to McMoneagle, the ego only muddies the event.  We now come to the hard part.  Creating, or understanding, the language the subconscious mind uses to communicate with the conscious mind.  It would take an entire book to provide specifics and methods to document the research now being developed to understand how we humans function in our physical reality and who we really are.

What does this mean for a completely new approach to solving the UFO phenomenon?  First, I am proposing that the human personality, worldview and physiology is influencing what the “witness” is experiencing.  That goes for all involved: The witness.  The interviewer.  Anyone with an opinion related to the experience.  Even if it is reported as a “light in the sky.”  One side note: alcohol is not the only thing ingested that can cause temporary hallucinating or delirium and cause a subjective experience.  First of all, most individuals are in and out of a hallucinatory state during their entire lifetime.  The state is called awake hallucinating.  One of the causes is bromides.  Bromides are in many different consumer products.  It builds up in the human body over time and eventually may inhibit iodine enzyme metabolism.  Where do these bromides come from?  They come from food, especially bread, drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, flame-retardants, hair dye and other sources.  All these chemicals will need to be part of testing to determine whether the witness was induced into a possible hallucinatory state and caused the witness to experience something out of the ordinary.  Plus, the usual other factors now included in ruling out what is to be included in a report of a sighting.  

Experiencing an awake hallucination should not mean that the event that took place is not “real” (meaning taking place in the agreed upon reality), but real in the alternative state sense of the word.  Alternative states may be where the events start and then emerge into our agreed upon reality.   

For the time being we will have to be satisfied with glimpses of our own and alternative realities.  What we will have to do is to take responsibility for how our minds react to the glimpses.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

America's Most Haunted Hotel

The 1886 Crescent Hotel
As I drove around a corner and caught my first glimpse of the Crescent Hotel, I thought, “Wow, that is a spooky lookin' place!”

Dubbed America's most haunted hotel, the Crescent sits a couple thousand feet above sea level in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The bottom line is I spent a night at the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Two enthusiastic thumbs up. My visit was both interesting and fun, and I would eagerly go again. A more detailed description follows.

Eureka Springs

The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. I was already in town at the time – mid-April – for the Ozark UFO Conference. I did some Internet searches for things of interest around Eureka Springs, and came across the Crescent. All the locals I asked highly recommended it and I now see why.

I stopped by the place to have a look and find out some things the day before I ended up actually checking in. A female employee, Dani, patiently and competently answered my many questions. 

The Crescent is more than just a hotel with spirits wandering hither and yon, but also offers spa services which are popular in the area due to healing powers believed to flow through the many local springs. Dining options, ghost tours and performance art are also offered. I therefore asked Dani several questions and came to feel qualified to make an informed decision about what worked best for me.

I confidently reserved a room for the following night consisting of various amenities and a ticket for an evening ghost tour. The next day when the UFO conference wound up I moved camp to the Crescent Hotel.

Eureka Springs is a very old and small town with many, many stories. The Crescent Hotel alone dates back to 1886. The town has somewhat of an appearance of a movie set out of an old western, creating the feeling that most any moment one might hear the clicking and clacking of horses approaching. The town also has a large tourist draw and a historic district in which I found myself often wondering what the walls would say if they indeed could talk.

It might help the reader more accurately envision the overall mood one might have when visiting the Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs and the vicinity to understand a couple things about the area. The geographic features, for instance, are more than noteworthy in and of themselves.

Actually, it becomes increasingly apparent that no one hanging out is overly concerned with the fact the Ozark Mountains are not conducive to supporting human life. Homes, inns, retail shops and everything else are constructed on sides of cliffs. Stilts hold such structures in place and are the only things between you and a several-hundred-foot drop. The stilts, structures, cliff sides and overly pronounced angles not present in traditional architecture create an effect strikingly reminiscent of illustrations from Dr. Seuss.

Roller coaster-like roads originally forged by horse and wagon wind all through the area and, all kidding aside, frequently have no shoulder whatsoever – just the road, you, the cliff and your flipping gut. Sidewalks are sometimes constructed in which on one side is the street, and on the other side is, well, I am not sure exactly what because I was not crazy enough to lurk up close enough to peek over the edge and see. Suffice it to say whatever it was, it was a helluva long way down and I wanted nothing to do with it.  

Birds and insects, yes, they should thrive in the Ozarks. People, no, at least not unless you are some kind of person that can defy gravity and walk vertically on icy jagged rocks jutting thousands of feet into the air.

Some of the many ghosts said to be haunting the Crescent Hotel were individuals who fell to their deaths. 'Magine that.

It's a Mystery, Scoob!

So, you may ask, how did the Crescent come to be called America's most haunted hotel? At least part of the answer seems due to a rather amazing turn of events that went down when an investigation was conducted by The Atlantic Paranormal Society, which those familiar with the ghost genre will quickly recognize as TAPS. 

TAPS investigators were operating a thermal imaging camera in the former morgue of the hotel (What the hell is a morgue doing in a hotel, you want to know? More on that later, 'cause it is indeed an interesting story!). While poking around the old morgue located in the creepy basement, investigators recorded a stunning human silhouette, assuming, of course, all is as it appears. 

As I understand it, TAPS made multiple efforts to confirm the amazing image was not some type of reflection or similar such relatively mundane malfunction. Nope, they seemed to have a genuine unknown. Check it out:

After the TAPS investigation hit television and the 'net, Dani and her coworkers got lots of experience booking reservations and registering guests. Like something right out of an episode of Scooby Doo, the popularity of the Crescent Hotel skyrocketed following the TAPS incident and the apparent anomaly.

There are many more interesting tales contained in the 126-year history of the hotel, which is what TAPS was doing on site in the first place. Let's explore some of that history. Most of the following I learned while taking the ghost tour, which wound from the top of the hotel all the way down into the windy night air of the front yard and finally into the dark and isolated basement housing the former morgue. 

Norman Baker

Far and away the most intriguing story to emerge from the shadowy corners of the ol' Crescent is that of Norman Baker. This tale is simply wild, people, with or without the undead.

Baker was incarnated upon the planet in 1882. Flamboyant and colorful by all accounts, he amassed millions of dollars during the early 20th century via such entrepreneurial ventures as performing as a talented magician, inventing and selling variations of musical instruments, and hosting a radio show in which he denounced big business while declaring himself a champion for the common man - true or not.

Baker apparently became fascinated with the large amounts of money that could be made by medical doctors in relatively brief periods of time. This led him to taking up trying to cure cancer - without so much as a single day of medical training. By 1937 he had purchased the Crescent, a seemingly perfectly isolated spot for attracting the wealthy ill while eluding his ever increasing number of enemies and political foes. 

While continuing to verbally attack the establishment (Baker was prone to calling the American Medical Association the American Meatcutters Association, for example), he claimed to hold no false pretenses of being a medical doctor, although he had been convicted in Iowa of practicing medicine without a license. He contended wealthy cancer victims were entirely free to choose whether or not to employ his alleged services.

The sink and counter in the basement morgue
where bodies were dissected and dismembered
Norman Baker sold hope to the terminally ill, by any other name and at very expensive costs. Some estimate he raked in as much as half a million dollars per year via his supposed elixir mail order business and hosting wealthy cancer victims at the luxury hotel. It seems at some point he may have actually believed he could accomplish something or other of possible medicinal value, as he led his human research subjects through increasingly strange and painful procedures, such as injecting their cancers with various concoctions. The elixirs and mixtures were apparently nothing more than fruit juices and vitamins, but Baker seems to have become rather obsessed with such activities - and this is where the morgue comes in.
The former morgue cooler
Baker built a morgue in the basement. He froze and stored the deceased, sometimes dismembering them and apparently studying their cancers, saving corpses for months in possible hopes of learning to improve upon his failed treatments. According to Thomas, a tour guide, the cooler at one point held some 28 total bodies (creepy, huh?). However historians might describe it, the fact of the matter is Norman Baker effectively persuaded people not only to allow him to do with them as he chose, but paid him to do it, whatever his ultimate motives may have been.  
For those wondering, Baker indeed angered enough people in positions of authority that he eventually ran out of places to conduct his bizarre affairs. He vacated the Crescent by 1940. The powers that be put Norman Baker in prison for sending unsubstantiated claims via the US mail; he went down for mail fraud. Perhaps it is fitting that some of the loved ones of the deceased testified at the trial.

Crescent History

Additional history surrounding the Crescent includes the death of a young lady that occurred during the hotel's incarnation as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women from 1908 to 1924. It seems a woman fell, jumped or was thrown to her death from a room within the hotel. Stories abound and surround the incident, including tales of star crossed lovers. Several hotel visitors have claimed to see an apparition of a young woman floating alongside the hotel, and I think I would promptly fall over undead as an undoornail if any such apparition were to sashay past the window of my room.
redrum, redrum
Some of the more interesting of the many tales include 'the woman searching for her room key.' This woman is consistently reported in the vicinity of the same room, often seeming to need assistance entering the room. Not only does she seem to be confused about whether she is coming or going, but those who rent her room - I mean, uh, the room - claim their belongings get moved around, as if they are being urged to leave.

Certain rooms with such histories are naturally more popular than other rooms, being booked for weeks or even months in advance. Thomas explained how the crew from TAPS used the room of the woman searching for her key, and they swore on one occasion they returned to the room to find that some of their belongings, including a laptop case, had been moved and placed by the door.
Photo taken from a lounge atop the hotel
Another of the more popular rooms involves the story of a man who fell and died during construction of the building. The ghost of this man is said to have quite a fondness for the ladies. Women who stay in the room beside the spot where he is said to have fell to his death report phenomena ranging from hearing their names whispered to having the shower curtain inexplicably fly open (talk about falling over undead).

No haunted hotel could be complete without felines, and a couple of cats currently call the Crescent home. The Crescent Hotel is an animal-friendly destination where your pets are welcome to join you during your visit. As a matter of fact, former Crescent resident Morris the cat was sorely missed when he passed on, his funeral in the yard attended by many adoring townspeople. He is naturally reported to still meander the halls and grounds. 

A current hotel resident
As you might imagine, a lot of crap has hit the fan in a hotel that has stood for some 126 years. There is much history and it is ever increasing with each passing guest. Visit the hotel's website to learn more, view ghost photos and view videos of interest.

I was most impressed with the ghost tour, as Thomas not only filled the tour with intriguing information, but it was indeed interesting to view the old structure from top to bottom. I highly recommend visiting the Crescent and taking the tour.

I found my fellow tour-takers to be fun and friendly. The folks I met at the Crescent were rather upbeat and enjoyed joking about the subject matter while taking it seriously enough to be respectful. It was entertaining with a certain camaraderie.
The late Morris
I retired to my room for the night and slept as soundly as I could recall in recent memory. I seemed to sleep straight through the night and felt fully refreshed when I woke. A friend back in my home state of Florida asked if I might attribute my restful night to the mountain air, having by that time had a few days to work its magic.

"I'm sure the mountain air didn't hurt," I replied, "but mostly I think I just felt a lot safer around a bunch of ghosts than I felt around some of the people at the UFO convention."

Breakfast Reflections

The next morning I sat in the large dining room enjoying an absolutely outstanding breakfast buffet. The meal centered around vegetable quiche with choices of meats, cereals, breads and beverages. It was truly a treat.
The dining room
After my fill of sausage and eggs, I sipped coffee, people watching and wondering about their stories. Where were they from? Were they interested in ghosts? What were they doing here? 

Notes from Tennessee Waltz rang true throughout the hardwood floor dining room and lingered down the adjacent hall past the former office of Norman Baker. The old, old trees outside the large windows swayed slowly in the morning breeze, their shadows dancing both inside and outside the over-sized room.

I found myself wondering what an extended stay might cost. I found myself contemplating various entrepreneurial ventures one might undertake in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Sitting there in the 1886 Crescent Hotel, I realized my thoughts had changed a great deal since first arriving in the area just a few days earlier. Concerns first stowing away from Florida now seemed lifetimes away. As the 'Waltz played on and the shadows continued their endless dance, I indeed felt as I confidently suspect thousands before me had felt when sitting atop that mountain at that hotel: as if they could stay right there, just like they were, indefinitely. It seemed not only possible but almost palpable.

In that moment, it was not difficult at all for me to suspend judgment on the notion that some people might become overly attached to a place... or a person... or a fight, and could simply refuse to detach and leave. For a moment there it felt so very inviting to just... stay... as I suspect it may have felt for many before me.

I ordered a coffee to go. As Jake told Roland in the imagination of Stephen King, "Go then, there are other worlds than these."