A Mostly True Story|
by Glenn Campbell
In the nearly 20 years that I was away from UFO research, the aliens had certainly been busy. Back in my youth in the 1970s, all we had were your standard UFO sightings with a light veneer of military cover-up (which was mostly for our own good). By 1992, the aliens had diversified. They were now mutilating cattle, making crop circles, abducting large numbers of humans (mostly female) and doing lecherous things to them, inserting implants into people's bodies, intruding psychically into their minds, harassing motorists, causing power black-outs, sending out agents in human form to intimidate witnesses, and colluding with the government at the highest levels. In short, they were behaving badly, like frat boys on a binge.
In my youth, there were only two basic UFO subcultures: the investigators, who mainly collected and evaluated UFO sightings, and the contactees, who felt that they had been chosen by the aliens for a spiritual mission. By the early 1990s, there were at least a half-dozen subcultures, each representing a different view of the UFO phenomenon. Many of these groups did not get along with the others, and even within each group there was plenty of squabbling, as each person tried to promote his vision of the truth. Around the time of my reentry, there were several fistfights and many shouting matches at UFO conferences, as partisans accused each other of being government agents. At the same time, the number of recognized aliens grew. The most common one was now the classic "Gray" -- the short, hairless guy with the bulbous head and huge eyes -- but there was also the handsome Nordic, the evil Reptilian, the gentle Pleiadian, and many more. In the UFO movement, it seemed like no one could agree on anything except that aliens were here and the government knew more than it was telling, but all the confusion did not diminish the vibrancy of the movement. There was a sense among nearly everyone that things were changing, events were coming to a head, and the truth would soon be revealed.
Before I left for Las Vegas, I assembled a list of the major UFO movements and their beliefs. My role, as I saw it, was not to evaluate or judge but to record and categorize. I saw myself as an anthropologist who had just arrived on a remote island and was trying to understand the local mores, beliefs and rituals without intruding into them. These was the main UFO subcultures that I could identify....
This subculture, born in the idealistic UFO fervor of the 1950s and 60s, was still around in the 1990s, although many of its members were aging and the movement was in some disarray. The investigators were dedicated data collectors, much like myself. They collected sighting reports, historical accounts and government documents, and they were concerned with facts, not speculation. Some were trained scientists, and a few were former law enforcement officers. All of them prided themselves on staying neutral and letting the facts speak for themselves. They were mostly male and most of them in the United States were members of one of the two major UFO groups, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). These organizations gave them some rudimentary training and then an official title, like Field Investigator or State Director. Each investigator took his position very seriously, even as their organizations fizzled. They labored mostly alone, following up on UFO reports and publishing their data as best they could. (In the pre-Internet era, publishing was always costly and difficult.) They got older but didn't lose their faith. They raised families and pursued respectable careers while their free time was devoted to UFOs. Some of them died without ever achieving the breakthrough they had hoped for, but if their data was preserved for future generations, it was all worthwhile. (Tragically, however, their UFO archive was often thrown away by their widows at the first opportunity.)
Each investigator had his own specialty. Collecting UFO sighting reports was the meat-and-potatoes of the business, but developments in the 1980s greatly expanded the data collecting opportunities. Mysterious crop circles began appearing, first in England and then throughout the rest of the world, moving from simple circles to sophisticated designs. Each new appearance needed to be documented and investigated, as the difficult job began of determining which design was created by hoaxsters and which was the genuine article created by E.T.'s. (They were, it was contended, totally different.) At about the same time, cattle were found dead and bizarrely mutilated, first in the Western U.S. and then throughout the world. Some cattle apparently had their eyeballs, genitals or anus removed, supposedly with laser-like precision, and their bodies were sometimes laid to rest in places were there were no tracks seen in the surrounding dirt. Investigators were needed to visit each site and examine those anuses. Back in urban areas, people were being abducted by aliens in ever-growing numbers, and someone had to investigate those cases, too. The 1980s were a heady time for UFO data collectors, and each one felt that he was at the center of a storm. Indeed, a map of national UFO sightings confirmed that reported incidents seemed to be clustered around the places where there were field investigators.
The abductees were humans who had been taken away by the aliens, usually against their will, then returned a short time later. Abductee meetings, held in every major city, were similar to support groups for rape victims. The victims got together to share their experiences and coping strategies and to try to come to grips with their trauma. A typical abduction usually happened on the edge of sleep. The aliens would paralyze the victim and levitate her out of her bedroom, sometimes passing her through solid walls. They took her to their ship or to some secret government facility. The experiences there ranged from painful gynecological procedures to pleasant briefings by benign aliens on the state of the universe. Some encounters could almost be described as consensual (although when aliens come for you in the middle of the night, it hard to say no). Some women were introduced to handsome men, apparently also abducted, who they were instructed to have sex with. This wasn't necessarily unpleasant, perhaps because there was no guilt associated with this required act and there was very little small talk. Any pregnancies that resulted were usually removed by the aliens in a follow-up abduction a few weeks later.
There were many different kinds of abductions. There were people abducted by good aliens, bad aliens and government personnel acting like aliens. Some abductions left scars on the victim's bodies, which was the primary form of physical evidence in support of these claims. (If you woke up in the morning with a cut or bruise that you didn't remember the night before, what would you think?) Sometimes, the aliens left behind a small device implanted in the body of the victim. This unit, perhaps the size of a grain of rice, was often inserted through the nose and into the brain and was apparently used for monitoring and control. (X-rays were usually inconclusive.) Children were also abducted, although many of them didn't know it until their parents told them. These caring parents formed support groups for their kids, sort of like the Cub Scouts or Brownies, and gave them colorful picture books that said it was okay to be abducted and you should not be afraid.
Conspiracy researchers thought you should be afraid. They believed that no matter what was happening with the aliens, the government on Earth was insidiously involved. Their approach to UFOs was to try to identify and break the government conspiracy that was withholding UFO knowledge. The government, in their view, was purely evil (although some post office employees were okay, because they were only low-level bureaucrats who did not understand the extent of their government's power). The conspiracy researchers believed that there was a "secret government," not listed in any federal directory, that held most of the power on Earth. In collusion with the aliens and their superior technology, this cabal was almost unstoppable. The secret government monitored and controlled the population to a far greater extent than most people even suspected.
Only the conspiracy researcher saw through this charade, and this made him dangerous to the secret government. The researcher was always on the lookout for people who might be government agents, who might try to sabotage his work or send him down the wrong track. "Trust No One," was the mantra of the conspiracy researcher, and this included other researchers and even his own family. The researcher was often tantalizingly close to putting together the whole jigsaw puzzle -- sightings, abductions, crop circles, mutilations, the JFK assassination, the Council on Foreign Relations, etc. -- but usually the government would throw him off at the last minute, perhaps by getting him fired or divorced or turning other researchers against him. It was a frustrating field that required a lifetime of tenacity and dedication. By necessity, it was also a very lonely journey.
Some people were less concerned with UFOs today than with alien interactions with humans in ancient times. These investigators traveled the world in search of evidence -- in the form of inscriptions, pictorial etchings, artifacts and legends -- proving that "ancient astronauts" had interacted with humanity throughout its history. These amateur archaeologists steeped themselves in the arcane details of the ancient Sumerian language, Polynesian iconography and Celtic shamanism. They pointed to Aztec wall carvings that showed gods dressed like astronauts and appearing to travel in rockets. They showed how giant works like the pyramids of Eqypt couldn't possibly be built by humans alone. They traced the fate of Atlantis and a missing Pacific continent called Lemuria. Everywhere they looked, at nearly every museum and archaeological site, they saw traces of the alien presence, although proving this to the mainstream archaeological community was difficult. Their field research was expensive and often frustrating, but they did earn a lot of frequent flyer miles for future trips. They also cooperated with each other much better than the conspiracy researchers did, since their conspiracies were far in the past and did not necessarily imply government involvement today. These investigators separated themselves from UFOs by the passage of millennia, which meant they could sleep at night without fear of abduction and could take their time in investigating. It had taken centuries for these mysteries to form, so it might take a few years to work them out.
Cousins of the ancient astronaut researchers were those who looked for archaeological evidence on other planets, mainly Mars. In the early 1990s, the only photos we had of Mars' surface were relatively crude, taken by the orbiting Viking spacecraft. An image of the Cydonia region seemed to show the giant face of a man and a nearby complex of temples. This, the researchers said, was evidence of an advanced civilisation on Mars, at least in ancient times, and the face was probably a message to us. Mathematical analysis of the features showed a complicated relationship between them which, the researchers contended, couldn't possibly be random. Unfortunately, the Face on Mars and other features were at limits of the photo's resolution and were each only a few pixels wide. Researchers like R. Hoagland, speaking at Washington's National Press Club to a jeering and disrespectful pool of reporters, angrily demanded that NASA stop its cover-up and re-image the area at a higher resolution -- which NASA eventually did. The face and monuments were then resolved into a much more chaotic jumble of hills. A few years later, the rocky profile of New Hampshire's "Old Man of the Mountains" spontaneously collapsed into pile of rubble, robbing the state of its official symbol. No one has ever connected the two events until I did just now.
The UFO gurus were the descendants of the contactees of the 1950s. Typically, a guru was taken into a spaceship at some pivotal time in his life; the aliens introduced him to their ways and asked him to go forth and spread their message. The guru then became a messiah, forming a religious group on Earth and gathering followers. The most successful guru was Rael, a former French race car driver who was contacted by the aliens in 1973 at an extinct volcano at Clermont-Ferrand, France. He then changed his name, began to wear only white and founded a self-named religion that believed in free love and whose symbol was a swastika inside a Star of David.... Not good imagery, but it got attention. Rael was good at that, keeping attention focused on himself and his organization (on behalf of the aliens, of course). His followers were interested in UFOs, but only as filtered through their guru's perceptions. Some other gurus advocated ritual suicide to return the believers to their home planet, which the followers gratefully participated in. This was also bad imagery, in a public relations sense, but after they rejoined the aliens, it didn't matter any more.
Psychics involved in UFO research had little interest in physical evidence, because they were already in contact with the aliens telepathically. They got their information directly from the source! Some psychics used "remote viewing" to examine alien worlds, while others concentrated on direct mind-to-mind exchanges with aliens. Channelers went one step further by actually becoming an alien for a short period, letting the entity temporarily occupy their body and speak through their mouth. Typically, the alien issued a lot of warnings about the terrible things we are doing to our planet and gave advice on how we can each become more fulfilled and spiritually aware. A channeler was like a local rent-a-car company for both off-world aliens and humans from Earth's past and future. One day, Cleopatra might be driving the car, and the next day it's Zorgon of Zork. It was considered a point of professional pride that a channeler did not intrude into what her client was saying. What came out of her mouth was the voice of her client, without censorship and with only a slight distortion due to the translation of languages. Channelers usually charged for their services, since they were professionals serving a public need, but if there was a religion to organize or a mission to fulfill, it was the job of the client, not the channeler. Once the session was over, the channeler collected her fee (which had to be paid at the receiving end), and she went back to being a humble housewife.
The final step beyond the channelers was the subculture of people who didn't need proof of the alien presence, because they were aliens themselves. They were cosmic refugees, currently occupying human form, who called themselves "Earthbound extraterrestials". They may have been physically born on another planet and then marooned here, or maybe just their souls came from another world. The one thing they were certain of was that they did not belong here. They were beings of higher destiny, perhaps royalty on their home world, who were trapped on this planet against their will. Discovering the true nature of their origins was often traumatic, like a homosexual coming out or a child learning he had been adopted, but once they recognized who they were, life on Earth became easier. They communicated with other Earthbound E.T.s and formed support groups. They soon realized that as long as they were trapped here, they would have to get jobs and places to stay and would have to live like humans, at least temporarily. Some of them eventually got married and had kids, and even if the saucers finally came to take them home, it was not clear that they would leave. That's what happens sometimes: You start out as an unhappy alien on a primitive planet, and eventually you get used to it and call it home.
The final UFO subculture was the group of people who didn't believe. To be more precise, they actively believed in not believing, which is different than not caring at all. The evil P. Klass, the dean of UFO Skeptics, was the best example. He seemed to take great pleasure in showing up at UFO conferences as a self-described "skunk at the garden party" and debating anyone about any UFO claim. The Skeptics formed Skeptic Societies in many major cities and got together monthly to discuss the latest paranormal hogwash. It was all very negative, in a positive way. As described in the previous chapter, Skeptics see themselves as totally rational; yet their relationship with the believers is complicated. By defining himself as a UFO skeptic, Klass was drawing his identity from the UFO believers, and they, in turn, were defining some of their identity by reacting to him. For years, Klass put out a newsletter, skewering the latest UFO fads, that was eagerly read by sophisticated ufologists and hardly anyone else. It was Yin and Yang for a while there, until Klass grew too old to keep it up, and no one has yet emerged to fill his shoes. In a strange way, Klass supported the UFO movement and kept it healthy and alive by giving it someone to fight against. When he dies (which hasn't happened yet) and goes to whatever special Hell is reserved for Skeptics, he will be sorely missed.
Even though I avoided evaluating the claims that I was categorizing, I recognized that the noise level in the UFO movement was very high. Although I would hate to be nailed down to specifics, I suspected that not all of these stories were true, but they didn't have to be. The fact that the stories were being told at all, and were genuinely believed by the teller, was enough to justify their collection. Even if all you cared about was objective truth, then a lot of false alarms were to be expected. Sure, people used UFOs for their own psychological purposes, and each chose a UFO subculture based on their own personality and needs, but that is the way humans work in any circumstance. The high noise level did not mean there was no signal buried in it. You didn't have to accept every UFO story to prove that UFOs exist. All you really needed was one provable story, and with it you could shake the world.