Saturday, May 25, 2013

Research of Alleged Alien Abduction: A Critical Perspective

I encourage all interested parties to conduct their own search for truth and make up their own mind about the mysteries surrounding alleged alien abduction. The challenge most fail at in their search is obtaining a wide sample of material representing a wide range of credible sources. The challenge exists not because the material is difficult to obtain, but because most people do not desire to find it.

It is rare for people within UFOdom to have a reasonably working knowledge of such diverse topics as mental health issues, physiological issues and the intelligence community in proportion to their knowledge of abduction lore. The irony, of course, is that the former can be substantiated while the latter cannot – and that brings us to the heart of the problem with many abduction researchers.

They often assert to “know” this or that absolutely fantastic item to be true, the same as you can look around the UFO community and observe any number of its members doing, while they can prove no such assertion whatsoever. You need look no further than the websites of some of the researchers to see they claim to have proof of one thing or another that perpetually never amounts to much of anything more than rumors of yesteryear. Worst of all, individuals such as David Jacobs and organizations such as MUFON often do so under the claim of conducting scientific research.

That is a primary problem. I invite others to identify it as such, and following is why:

If people just want to hang out and reinforce their shared beliefs, then fine. Ghost stories around the campfire and all that.

If, however, they claim to be conducting scientific investigation, they have a responsibility to conduct themselves in accordance with the scientific method of investigation. Witness testimony and particularly subjective assessment carries minimal weight as compared to physical evidence, authenticated documents and such – along with all the other dynamics recognized by the professional research community which must either apply or, of course, professional research is not actually being conducted.

Again, I will point out that is fine – as long as it is not called science or professional research, because, by definition, it simply is not. A big problem therefore lies in the abduction researchers continuing to cling to methods of investigation circa 1964 and rightfully not recognized as valid by the professional research community. More specifically, the problem lies in researchers' persistence to do so while demanding acceptance from a scientific community they either fail to understand or try to exploit. For those unaware, the American Medical Association issued a statement clearly establishing it does not recognize or endorse the use of hypnosis for any purposes at all, much less as an effective memory retrieval tool.


Part of my point being there is no supposedly proper method whatsoever of hypnotizing traumatized individuals and exploring the likelihood they have abusers originating from another planet, at least not as recognized by academia. As a matter of fact, a good argument could be made that such activities are barbaric. In the situation of Jacobs, however, no such argument is required, as he claimed to have developed therapeutic methods of regressive hypnosis that can quickly be rejected. The facts of the matter include he is not professionally qualified (as a historian) to design or conduct any type of psychologically therapeutic activity. One can see the contradictions involved in trying to accept Jacobs' claims of conducting scientific research when, in fact, his views on hypnosis require assigning him qualifications to design and assess hypnosis procedures, which he academically simply does not possess. To add insult to injury, we would have to give Jacobs' assertions more validity than we assign the AMA stance on the issue, a body which of course practices scientific principles and is far more qualified to assess medical techniques than is a historian.

Jacobs and his followers are entitled to believe anything they want. They are not entitled to misrepresent such beliefs as scientifically credible, and we are most certainly not required to silently accept such misrepresentations.

One of the most important and typically overlooked points is that the scientific process, of which such researchers as Jacobs claim to recognize and endorse, does not require critical thinkers to invalidate his attachments to the use of hypnosis. Rather, it is his responsibility to validate a hypothesis through the process of collecting data, submitting it to proper channels for peer review and so on, which neither he, Hopkins nor any of their faithful ever successfully navigated. As a matter of fact, Jacobs demonstrated adamant opposition to such, as documented by Ted Goertzel of Rutgers, among others. 

That would be participating in the scientific process.

What about advances made in DNA research that could be implemented in abduction research? Dr. Tyler Kokjohn informs us important molecular evidence could be obtained long after the alleged fact, including testing those who suspect they may have been involved in breeding programs for many years after they may have carried some kind of hybrid fetus. Both Jacobs and Barbara Lamb repeatedly avoided such lines of discussion while often seeming largely unaware science had long since surpassed the circumstances required to keep the abduction narrative under a protective cloak of non-verifiable. The fact of the matter is such claims can now be verified – or shown to be unsubstantiated – if researchers care to do so.


Yet another principle point that should be emphasized involves the witness. Wild speculation and poor investigative procedures get us no closer to actually understanding what might be happening to people who may truly be experiencing circumstances of interest, and, much, much more importantly, witnesses are being injured in the process. In some cases, drastically and critically injured.

Suicides among self-described abductees are not particularly uncommon; UFO-related discussion forums typically have threads dedicated to tragic situations that should never have happened – but did; whatever one may choose to make of the Emma Woods case, it would seem painfully clear she was not helped by a historian conducting Skype-hypnosis about hybrids raping her night after night for days on end; Leah Haley was referred by Hopkins, after inquiring about a single childhood UFO sighting, to MUFON's John Carpenter who proceeded to 'help' her hypnotically construct an entire lifetime of alien and military torturous abductions, of which she may very well never fully recover from the emotional traumata experienced.

There are many more such circumstances. There is also no question that many people who find their ways into the UFO community would be much better served by a competent psychoanalyst than an overly enthusiastic hypnotist with grandiose dreams of alien-hunting, or, at the least, they would be better served by actual scientists or professional researchers than people masquerading as such under the camouflage provided by MUFON, ICAR or the like.


In review:

- An inherent challenge to ufology, and particularly alleged alien abduction, is that its followers do not seek information that provides a balanced and objective point of view. Actually, they are often quite unaware of the current mental health paradigm, symptoms of emotional traumata, relevant physiological circumstances and similar subject matter, the absence of which substantially obstructs their abilities to form objective and more complete understandings of what became known as the abduction phenomenon.

- A primary problem is many researchers misrepresent their activities to be scientific, exploiting the less educated and poorly informed, intentionally or otherwise.

- It is not my responsibility or the responsibility of anyone else to invalidate hypotheses related to regressive hypnosis, but the responsibility of its practitioners to validate the activity as an effective memory retrieval tool, which has never been accomplished. Neither have proponents of hypnosis ever competently or thoroughly addressed the dangers of emotional suffering inherent to the activity, all of which futilely result in, at best, nothing more than witness testimony.

- A primary problem is self-described witnesses seeking support are being deeply hurt. This is taking place while those who subscribe to alien abduction as established, literal occurrences, often to fanatical extents, are damaging the injured parties even further, commonly lashing out at them while making excuses for the incompetence of irresponsible hypnotists.

- If researchers want to be accepted by academia, they must adhere to rules and practices, i.e., peer review, proper recognition of standards of evidence, accept hypnosis is not a reliable memory retrieval tool, etc., that are established by academia, else stop claiming their work to have scientific merit. Equally important would be members of the UFO community learning to more accurately identify misrepresentations of scientific merit.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Top Secret Projects and 'Top Secret Writers'

The UFO community has collectively been aware for quite some time of Project PALLADIUM, a now declassified operation nonetheless deserving periodic mention. The project involved the development of technology that created false radar paints.

Gene Poteat, formerly of the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology, composed a 1998 report titled, Stealth, Countermeasures, and ELINT, 1960-1975. Poteat, who was directly involved in PALLADIUM, wrote about the project, “I came up with a scheme to electronically generate and inject carefully calibrated false targets into the Soviet radars, deceiving them into seeing and tracking a ghost aircraft... [W]e could now simulate an aircraft of any radar cross section from an invisible stealth airplane to one that made a large blip on Soviet radar screens – and anything in between, at any speed and altitude, and fly it along any path...

Every PALLADIUM operation consisted of a CIA team with its ghost aircraft system, an NSA team with its special COMINT and decryption equipment, and a military operational support team.”

The report went on to state that such operations were conducted all over the world. Readers familiar with the work of Mark Pilkington will recall he addressed such circumstances in his book Mirage Men. Pilkington expressed suspicions such technology was involved in the Washington, DC flap of 1952. He also noted in his book that as late as 1986 US intelligence officials considered conducting a PALLADIUM-like operation in Libya, the purposes of which would have included creating confusion and paranoia within the Khadafi regime.

Such circumstances provide food for thought in the grand scheme of ufology. This might particularly be the case when considered in the context of such instances as the apparent CIA involvement in the contactee movement of the fifties, as well as a 1950 RAND report, The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare, which described such strategies as an operation conducted in Italy that greatly resembled and predated the Flatwoods Monster incident of UFO lore. One way or another, it should be of interest to members of the UFO community that the US Defense Department was conclusively in the business of creating false UFO incidents.

Top Secret Writers

Stealth wear, according to
designer Adam Harvey
Ryan Dube maintains a site, Top Secret Writers, where a team reports on topics of interest to the more inquisitive and discriminating reader. Writer/researcher Gabrielle Pickard recently published an article, The Anti-Drone Hoodie – Has It Really Come to This?, exploring the latest counter-surveillance measure, a hoodie that makes its wearer undetectable to drones. Designed by Adam Harvey, the silver hooded top blocks thermal imaging used by drones to identify and track human targets.

Pickard concluded, “While anti-drone hoodies and invisibility cloaks will undoubtedly liven up the stands at tech exhibitions and make headline news, the plausibility of such items being able to effectively counteract the prying eyes of governmental drones seems unlikely. What is more certain, is the fact that the niche for such products shows just how painfully mistrustful society has become of the government.”

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The CIA and the Search for the Manchurian Candidate, Part Two of Two

In the midnight hour

The only operationally realistic way to test drugs and the manipulation of behavior was to experiment on involuntary human research subjects, veteran CIA man and former director Richard Helms explained in 1963 (see Church Committee Reports, Book I, Testing and Use of Chemicals and Biological Agents by the Intelligence Community). Warning the subject in advance, it was decided by key personnel, provided false results, no matter how competently and otherwise realistically the research may have been conducted.

Former Director of Central Intelligence
Richard Helms
The Inspector General objected, citing experiments which had resulted in physical and mental illness. “Attendant economic loss,” the Inspector General pointed out, “are inherent contingent effects of the testing.”

Helms remarkably countered that the Clandestine Services had been conducting a mission of “maintaining a capability for influencing human behavior.” The use of unwitting research subjects was a necessity, and, that being the case, Helms added, “there is only the question of how best to do it.”

Prior to Helms' comments on the record and in a move that would later prove to be among the most widely criticized of the entire MKULTRA scheme, the CIA employed a contact, George White of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to operate a brothel. In 1953 White set up shop in adjacent apartments located in New York's Greenwich Village. He employed members of the world's oldest profession to assist him and the CIA in executing MKULTRA Subproject 3, which also became known as Operation Midnight Climax.

Agency personnel, such as Helms and MKULTRA project director Sid Gottlieb, reasoned that the venture, which included paying prostitutes to lure unsuspecting clients to the apartments, provided a steady stream of unwitting research subjects. It was considered particularly advantageous that the subjects could not easily be linked to the CIA. Also considered beneficial was the lack of probability they would ever report anything they might recall took place, and they would be low in credibility even if they ever complained to anyone.

MKULTRA project director
Dr. Sidney Gottlieb
Helms and Gottlieb were indeed confident the subproject provided at least a partial solution to trying out their schemes on the truly unwitting, while simultaneously navigating challenges inherent to securing and later discarding involuntary research subjects. The operation went about testing drugs, methods of covertly administering those drugs, surveillance equipment, a variety of spy gadgets, behavior manipulation (including its relations to sexual activity), combinations thereof, and, in all likelihood, a whole lot of other things that were never disclosed.

It was interestingly neither the concept nor questionable project personnel in themselves that resulted in the eventual criticism, but the methodology. The subproject was destined to be highly criticized, at least in part, due to its lack of scientific merit.

There commonly were no professional medical staff present, leaving unqualified personnel – a narcotics agent with a drinking problem and hookers - to conduct experiments and make observations. Additionally, the research subjects were not medically screened beforehand, and follow up observations were typically either not conducted, not documented and/or done from guarded points of view.

CIA key personnel obtained virtually no research data other than what literally took place during the time the subjects were present. That not only further jeopardized the health and well being of the subjects, but rendered the experiments nearly useless from a scientific perspective. Perhaps, as Helms later suggested, the development of operational practicality was held in much higher regard than anything else.

Nonetheless and for whatever reasons, the minds behind the operation valued it to the extent of expanding upon it, including opening a location in San Francisco and another across the bay in Marin County. The experiments were conducted, albeit with occasional battles over ethics and practicality, for the duration of Project MKULTRA. Even after the official closing of MKULTRA in 1964, George White and his adventures continued to be funded under its successor, Project MKSEARCH, specifically Subproject 4.

For further information about White and the CIA safehouses located in New York and San Francisco, see MKULTRA Subprojects 14, 16, 42 and 149, as well as the 1977 Washington Post article, The Gang That Couldn't Spray Straight. Readers might also find the more recent SF Weekly article from May of 2012 of interest, Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA Dosed S.F. Citizens With LSD.

According to John Marks in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, George White eventually wrote to Sid Gottlieb, "I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steak rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?"

Terminal experiments

Dr. Maitland Baldwin
Given the prevailing mindsets among those in the American spy organization, it was only a matter of time until someone, in one subproject or another, would try to quantify just how far they would go with conducting research on the unwitting. The answer can be found in what is known of work conducted by such consultants as Dr. Ewen Cameron of McGill University and Dr. Maitland Baldwin of the US National Institutes of Health. Both men demonstrated a willingness to take their work to the limit in what were labeled “terminal type” experiments, or research resulting in the loss of human life.

Each man took an interest in sensory deprivation, including experiments in which research subjects were placed in a small room or large box. The subjects were deprived of sensory input, having their eyes covered and their ears were either muffed or exposed to monotonous sounds. Padding prevented touching and no odors were present.

Maitland Baldwin operated within MKULTRA Subproject 62. In 1955 he left an Army so-called volunteer in a box for over 40 hours, at which time the soldier hysterically kicked his way out. Baldwin later reported to CIA man Morse Allen that leaving someone in the box over six days would almost certainly cause irreparable damage. According to a report written by Allen, Baldwin nonetheless agreed he would conduct such experiments, including the terminal type, if the Agency would provide the cover and the subjects.

The work was reportedly axed by an Agency medical doctor, but perhaps it is worthy of mention that, as was the case with George White and his CIA-backed brothels, Maitland Baldwin later received funding within MKSEARCH, the successor to MKULTRA. The brain surgeon's continued research of behavior modification within MKSEARCH Subproject 1 reportedly included experiments involving sensory deprivation, radio frequency energy, an attempt to cut off a monkey's head and attach it to the decapitated body of another monkey, and work conducted at a CIA safehouse, the details of which were unspecified but involved $1450 worth of renovations.

Allan Memorial Institute
Dr. Ewen Cameron, unlike Baldwin and White, did not require either the Agency or prostitutes to provide him with research subjects, as he already had a supply of his own. As director of the Allan Memorial Institute, a hospital funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and located at McGill University, the prominent and respected psychiatrist eagerly conducted experiments upon those in need of mental health treatment.

Cameron began receiving CIA funds in 1957 through the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, conducting research pertaining to brainwashing and mind control. His work within MKULTRA Subproject 68 included sensory deprivation, the induction of paralysis, administration of experimental drugs, electroshock and a procedure termed “psychic driving.”

Basically, the doctor believed he could wipe a subject's mind of prior conditioning and reprogram it as desired, somewhat like deleting the contents of a file on a word processor and rewriting it. Apparently unconcerned about consequences and in the pursuit of validating his hypotheses, Cameron once documented leaving a woman in the sensory deprivation box for 35 consecutive days. Some researchers feel it is potentially significant that Cameron conducted his work and was employed until 1964 at McGill University in Montreal, the city which was the destination of the Hills during their fateful journey of 1961.

Morse Allen

BLUEBIRD project director Morse Allen is credited with being the Agency's first behavioral research czar. Well versed in the spy trade, the Navy intelligence man was known for looking beneath surface realities and having a fascination for hypnosis. He was also among those who supported the use of terminal type experiments.

Allen later became known among researchers of many interests for his role in a now declassified 1954 experiment involving hypnosis and a simulated murder. To summarize, a woman was hypnotized and ordered to shoot another woman with a pistol, which she demonstrated a willingness to do and while completely unaware the gun was not loaded. Perhaps equally of interest, the experimenters apparently successfully induced amnesia in the hypnotized 'shooter,' as it was documented that she later had no recall of the event.

It could be considered understandable why some researchers review such circumstances in the contexts of grand conspiracies, particularly if we consider another 1954 scheme reported by Marks and devised by Allen for ARTICHOKE. Allen wanted to capture an involuntary and unwitting subject from a social event, utilize the Agency's behavior modification methods and lead the subject to conduct an assassination attempt.

As intriguing as it was strange, successful completion of the proposed act, or assassination, was considered inconsequential to the overall project; operationally executing the chain of events was the objective. It should be noted that no more concern was expressed for what might become of the assassin - whom it was assumed would be arrested and “disposed of” - than was expressed for the potentially assassinated.

The operation reportedly never took place, but that did not weaken Allen's ambition. He tried to persuade the powers that be to support his desire for prolonged access to research subjects, as opposed to the shorter term opportunities of which he became accustomed. Allen warned that Manchurian Candidates were at risk of gradually becoming aware of otherwise unknown programming and activities, particularly during dream states, at which time information might leak from one persona to another. He therefore wanted to extensively work with subjects, putting them through rigorous conditioning and testing in attempts to remedy such challenges.

Morse Allen coined the phrase “terminal experiments” in 1954 while lobbying the CIA to approve a project that teetered between brilliance and insanity. The challenge, it was identified, involved confidently learning how well the Manchurian Candidate would hold up under hostile interrogation. Would they crack? Could they crack, even if they wanted? What would happen if they were interrogated by opposing skilled hypnotists?

To address such concerns, Allen proposed an operation in which a research subject would be hypnotically conditioned as a spy, unaware of his orders and dispatched to a friendly nation to conduct his mission. The CIA would then 'tip' intelligence officials in the allied nation that a spy was suspected to be in its midst, leading to the arrest of the subject. This, it was reasoned, would allow the Agency the benefit of full access to the subsequent interrogation conducted by unassuming, yet quite vested, third parties. CIA observers would then have the opportunity to watch the behavior of both the Manchurian Candidate and the interrogators, up to what was reasonably assumed might include the torture and death of the research subject.

It is unclear if the operation was ever conducted. Morse Allen's research within BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE, and under Director Allen Dulles, who thoroughly subscribed to developing a Manchurian Candidate, was later turned over to Sid Gottlieb. MKULTRA was born, including the induction of amnesia, administration of implants and testing of effects of electronic frequencies, along with several more circumstances which supplied researchers with a great deal to consider in the context of alleged alien abduction.

Operating on the edge of madness

It would seem obvious enough that if the Agency was never involved in the production or circulation of alien story lines, it would not have been due to shying away from extreme ideas. Suffice it to say that if the likes of Baldwin, Cameron, Allen and Gottlieb left no one in their paths thinking themselves abducted by aliens, it was due in no part whatsoever to any concerns about doing so.

From Aztec priests and a quest for God's flesh to American men and their quest for women, CIA directors and project managers admittedly checked under every rock while trying to develop mind control techniques. The boundaries of reasonable behavior were briefly contemplated, considered to be limitations observed only by the weak and surpassed amid rationalizations the Russians would get us if we didn't get them first. From about 1947 to at least 1972, the CIA conducted a no holds barred attempt to control the human mind.

We are simply left to wonder what circumstances occurred that remain unknown to the public. John Marks later wrote that he believed skeletons were hidden – literally. We may never fully know what effects the CIA initiative may have had on those in its wake, or if any self-described alien abductees resulted from attempts to create Manchurian Candidates.

I find the following Marks description of his interactions with self-described mind control victims to be very reminiscent of dynamics typically found among self-described alien abductees, bringing to mind the extent the two demographics often seem virtually interchangeable:
While I was doing the research for this book, many people approached me claiming to be victims of CIA drugging plots. Although I listened carefully to all and realized that some might be authentic victims, I had no way of distinguishing between someone acting strangely and someone made to act strangely. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this whole technique is that anyone blaming his aberrant behavior on a drug or on the CIA gets labeled a hopeless paranoid and his case is thrown into the crank file. There is no better cover than operating on the edge of madness.

The CIA and the Search for the Manchurian Candidate, Part One of Two