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Category: Paranormal


Your House is Haunted – is it a Bad Thing?

Although Halloween is far away, Hollywood began its ghost-phobic cinema early this year with the release of The Conjuring 2. In most people’s minds, the idea of hauntings are centered in this fear of invisible specters out to get us. However, for those curious about realms beyond this one, a haunting can be an interesting, positive experience.

The house I rent in west Los Angeles with my roommates is not overtly haunted, as in having to call emergency exorcists while giant portals to other dimensions are wreaking havoc in our living-room, but there is still a little “something” going on—which has been enjoyable.

One night, a tapestry in my roommate’s room unhooked itself while we were watching TV, sliding down to the floor.

“That’s odd,” we agreed. “It must be that ghost.”

Later, I went into the living room, and a Christmas decoration that was wrapped around the mantle disconnected itself and slid down from the fireplace, landing on the floor in a small pile.

Then, in that same week, one of our landlady’s dogs suddenly ran into the living room and began barking fiercely at one of the chairs (it had never done this before). It could see something lounging that we could not.

To top things off, I went to the gym one afternoon, and when I returned, a copy of the book I wrote, Understanding Life After Death, at some point had flown off my shelf and landed on the floor of my bedroom.

I placed the book back on the shelf and included a note that read “You’re welcome to do it again, I don’t have any problems with it.” However, to date, my book hasn’t moved a second time. The phenomena seemed to be a passing thing.

While some people become unnerved by this type of thing, it’s important to remember what’s really happening: the astral dimension is interpenetrated with our own world. And, our neighbor is not as separated as we think. Somebody who is very diligent, who lives on the astral side, can affect matter on the Earthly side if they really desire it. That’s all “hauntings” really are.

Their reasons to do so are numerous: curiosity, playfulness, or even a desire to help bring people awareness that they exist. We cannot discount that some astral residents may have malevolent intentions or a desire to frighten people, but there’s also no reason to believe that this is the majority of circumstances.

As for our ghost—who was it? It’s hard to ever know. However, as someone who infrequently travels outside his body, I did have an astral experience one night within our home. I was in our living room, on the astral side, and I saw a girl with jeans, round glasses, short dark hair and a backpack come through the door. I immediately came up to her and told her who I was (that I lived in the same home but on the Earth-side). She appeared very surprised by my presence, but then unfortunately—the experience broke before I could talk to her.

Was she the stranger trying to make contact? It’s impossible to know. However, I suspect many who live on the astral side view us as a curiosity just as we are mystified by their presence—especially since I believe many of them share the same spaces that we do, but in the astral counterparts. Perhaps, in the future, both worlds will be able to formally meet each other. But, until then, we’ll continue to be mystified and at times unnecessarily frightened.




Famous Paranormal Investigator Dies Mysteriously

New Delhi: Renowned paranormal investigator Gaurav Tiwari dies under mysterious circumstances in his bathroom. He is one of the most famous paranormal investigators in India and reportedly visited over 6,000 haunted locations and was the founder of the Indian Paranormal Society.

According to the India Paranormal Society website, Gaurav was a pilot by training and had investigated everything from haunted places, ufo abductions and mysterious creatures.

Gaurav was no stranger to the media and was repeatedly seen on Tv investigating and helping those under the influence of some reported paranormal activity. He was active in educating people about the paranormal. However, he reported to his wife that a negative force or entity was pulling him towards it and a month later after this confession to his wife, he died in his bathroom at his home is Dwarka when both his father and wife were present.

TOI quoted Gaurav’s father Uday Tiwari, saying “Gaurav told his wife a month ago that a negative force was pulling him towards it. He had said he was trying to control it but seemed unable to do so. My daughter-in-law ignored it thinking he was just depressed due to work overload and did not tell us about it,” he said.

His family still maintaions that he was under no stress or pressure that would have caused him to take his own life. His comments about the alledged paranormal force were falling on deaf ears, though he reached out and told his wife that he was failing in his battle with the dark force.

Tiwari’s parents reportedly told the police that he was depressed and that many arguments existed within the famliy about the lack of his support financially and the late hours he would entertain because of his work.

The case may have similar nuances to Ed and Lorraine Warren’s famous cases as Gaurav was reprted to have been investigating the case of a demon possessed girl in Dheli the day before his death.

Police are considering the act of suicide but there is also the hypothesis that he was under some influence that may have caused him to take his life. Whether or not this is true, it does give food for thought and gives credence to the fact that danger lurks within a world we cannot see and are yet to comprehend.

via Spooky: Paranormal investigator Gaurav Tiwari dies a mysterious death in his bathroom!


The History Of The Spirit Board

The history of the spirit board

The spirit board was borne of the belief that people could communicate with the spirits of the dead. Such spiritualism whish caught the attention of the masses in the 19th century about there. The spirit board, started based on the history of the talking board. In the years of about 1840, precisely in 1848, there was a supernatural occurrence in New York. This  was when a pair of sisters, namely Margaret fox and Kate Fox, made contact with the spirits of those had passed on. Such an occurrence where live human being could make active communication with their long gone companions was received with great enthusiasm and this, not only did it intrigue many people but it enraptured them to know that such a contact with spirits of the dead could even be made. The treasures were those who’s gift was speaking  to the spirits of the dead were considered valuable and their gifts were priceless. The mediums were a unique category into which only people with that gift of communication with souls that are long gone.

There was the invention of many interesting ways which the dead’s spirits used the mediums to communicate to the living. All these methods of communication with the living were methods invented by the mediums themselves. One among those ways was table tipping. The ones who sought to communicate with the spirits of the dead, would lightly put their fingers on the table and as a message came through from the world of the dead, the table would tip over and knock upon the floor on the letters of the alphabet that had been called. The mediums could use less noisy methods of communication with the spirits of the dead through jotting done of the messages which came across from the land of the dead through the channeling mediums. The tool developed from a pencil into a planchette which was heart shaped. The mediums came to find out that the planchette could serve the purpose of a pointer and that was the discovery leading down to the path paving way for the board which was later to be known as the talking board.

The challenge that accompanied the discovery of the planchette was the difficulty it posed in writing for it turned out to be a very burdensome challenge just keeping the planchette lodged onto the piece of paper upon which the writing was to be made. The challenges the mediums faced in getting the messages written down had them coming up with a wide range of gadgets with alphanumeric characters accompanied by their odd looking pointers and needles. In about 1890, there was what was now referred to as the talking board which had a pointer onto the alphanumeric characters that were being channeled from the spirit through the medium. Later on, the board was converted into a board onto which the letter of the alphabet had been inscribed and the planchette to move over the board as the mediums get information from the spirits of the dead.


Equipment You Need For A Ghost Hunt

Best Equipment For A Ghost Hunt

Nothing as frightening as a ghost pass by without you capturing it. What’s more frightening is not seeing one, it’s the wind that blows and the sounds that you hear that send chills up your spine leaving you goose-face. Some say ghosts don’t exist while others believe they are there with us, sleeping right under our noses. Well first for you to catch one you have got to believe you are going to catch one. Then you have to know where to find one. Of course, it can’t be in your backyard not unless this ghost loves kids and takes milk in the morning instead of feeding on your fear and soul.

A haunted house, for example, would be the most ideal. Haunted houses are normally those big abandoned houses that have owls flying in and out. Another place you can find ghosts is in the cemetery. There has got to be a bunch of old grannies with broom sticks hovering all over there. Also look for them in schools at night and maybe prisons.  You can’t just run towards a ghost and catch it. That’ll be foolish.

There are a number of equipment that you require. Nothing really too fancy just something that will let you to the physical side of the ghost. Number one on the list and the most important of them all is a ghost camera recorder. Don’t worry, it’s just an ordinary camera recorder, I just put in the Ghost to spice it up. I know you’re thinking, ‘camera! What in the world is that for?’ Well how else will you prove you saw one? You don’t want to keep the information to yourself, do you now? Then again if the ghost passes behind you how else would you know or tell? If you could get a 360 camera, the better as you get all angles though this one is expensive. Second on the list is an EMF sound meter.

Ghosts have something to do with electricity blah blah blah… and magnetic fields. Who cares, I wasn’t that good in physics but all I know this EMF thing will help you get the job done. You think I’m lying wait till you catch one and pass an electric circuit through it. The EMF meter picks disturbances from nearby that may be caused by the ghost. You can get a good EMF sound meter online at a fairly good price. Last but not least, (drum rolls), the infrared thermal scanner. Quite challenging to use but once you get the hang of it you are good to go. You may place this at several spots in the room for hunting and it’ll be able to detect thermal changes. There are several apps coming with inbuilt thermal scanners so you can use those as well. As you do this be on the look out for any abnormal activities, we don’t want us catching aliens or witches instead let’s leave that for the CIA. You can attract ghost by placing webs at strategic points and candles forming a triangular shape with a circle. After that ensure the area is properly covered, meaning what goes in doesn’t come out. That’s all, seat back and wait for your ghost to come.

Cultural and Historical Ideology

Atlantis: Fact or Fiction – Links with the Crystal Skulls

Here we see a photo of Joshua Shapiro, a columnist for the Other Side Press and known as a Crystal Skull Explorers holding his personal skull called "Portal de Luz"

Here we see the author of this column Joshua, holding his personal smoky quartz skull “Portal de Luz”

Welcome to Tales of a Crystal Skull Explorer, Joshua Shapiro here, your host to take you on another exciting adventure into the world of the Crystal Skulls, the Paranormal and World Mysteries.  So for this next part of my column, lets take a look at Atlantis!

So if you are ready, let us proceed on this next exploration ….. into a time of the ancient past but which the affects of this cultures still are with us today ….

Atlantis as many people have heard is purportedly a legendary continent that is said to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean roughly from 12,000 years ago to possibly over several hundreds of thousands of years ago.  That is, until this land or large island was swept under the waters of this ocean due to a catastrophe of their own doing. Furthermore it is said that the other civilizations that existed at the same time as the demise of Atlantis (such as ones in Mexico, Central America, South America and Egypt) were greatly influenced by the survivors of Atlantis who left before its final destruction and came to live in their own regions, all were were probably colonies of Atlantis.

Other evidence or absolute proof of Atlantis could be related to some very recent discoveries within the Bermuda Triangle where there is a rumor of two large pyramids made of clear glass or crystal which were discovered under water here. Additionally, some archaeologists and underwater specialists have encountered stone structures that were very precisely fashioned or carved found under the water by the island of Bimini who claim these stone buildings could also offer tangible proof of the remains of the Atlantean civilization as well.

Besides, over the years, during our travels around the world (working with my divine light partner Katrina and our personal crystal skulls, “the crystal kids”) we have personally met a number of people who have either had a vision or a past life memory recall of seeing themselves living in Atlantis in a former timeframe. Further, through various studies made by different spiritually based organizations have gathered all types of information further supports the idea that Atlantis may have existed in various forms and stages of development for several hundred thousands of years in our far past.

A depiction of where the last large island of Atlantis existed between South America and Africa (source Atlantismaps.com)

A depiction of where the last large island of Atlantis existed between South America and Africa (source Atlantismaps.com)

The bottom line is, although there is yet to be what the mainstream would call absolute proof the existence of the Atlanteans, too many people inwardly feel a connection with this fabled land, including the author of this article and somehow what took place during the end of Atlantis is coming back full circle.  As the technological level of our world in the present time is very compatible to the level the Atlanteans developed, so it is said.

But in addition, I believe that we have two other proofs which offer the most substantial evidence for Atlantis, at least to those readers who are very much involved with studies of the paranormal:

1) The best source of information about Atlantis was revealed through the sleeping prophet, Edgar Cayce, who lived from 1877-1945. For the last forty years of his life he would go into an altered state of consciousness and would give what were called “life readings”. These readings contained special information and spiritual insights about the individual who was receiving the reading. The information given was either about their current life and/or could be related to a past life that this person had of which the circumstances and events of that lifetime are greatly impacting this individual in the present. Sometimes Mr. Cayce would give a reading for a person who was not even in his physical presence.

In total, Edgar Cayce gave over 600 life readings which involved a description about the legendary Atlantis detailing how the individual, that he was focusing his attention upon (or upon their soul) lived during one of the many ages of this once great civilization. It is hard to believe that such consistent information could be given about one past culture through such a single individual who was not even functioning in their normal waking consciousness. Actually Mr. Cayce had no memory whatsoever of anything that he would speak during his sessions.

Edgar Cayce, during his trance state, described three specific ages of Atlantis. The first age occurred before 50,000 BC (the Theosophical Society saids this age could have started as far back from 1 million to 800,000 years ago) where Atlantis existed as one huge continent in the Atlantic Ocean. However due to a war which he stated occurred between the “Sons of the Law of One” (who followed a very spiritual and peaceful way of life) versus the “Sons of Belial” (or people who did not believe in the “Creator” but worshipped the material world and used their advance technologies to have power over others); than around 50,000 BC, Atlantis was split into five islands of which the largest one was called Posedia or Posedonis.

Then the second age went till about 10,500 BC where once again the same two groups had another conflict which resulted in a further destruction of of Atlantis and than all that remained was the island of Posedia. About one thousand years later or 9,500 BC, the “Sons of the Law of One” had prophetic visions of the final destruction of Atlantis and knew that they had to leave. Therefore these individuals took all of their tools and sacred knowledge and brought them to the existing Atlantean colonies that existed throughout the world at that time. That would be including North, Central and South America and into Egypt. And then of course, the great island of Atlantis was hit by volcano eruptions which cause the whole land to sink under the ocean.

The Atlanteans who left knew that that these special tools and their wisdom must be preserved for a future time when humanity would face a great crisis and would once again need such tools. I believe we are now living in this time and that this is why more evidence of Atlantis is coming publicly forward and people have great interest in this ancient civilization.  Also there is no doubt, one of these sacred tools were crystal skulls, but more about this later in this article.

Edgar Cayce further stated that many people who have incarnated into the modern world of today had lifetimes in Atlantis. That as these same souls met once again in our present world that there would be a similar struggle as had happened in Atlantis before. And it definitely appears that humanity is once again using our modern technology to disrupt our world, our ecology and environment in addition to continuing to wage terrible wars at various times with many people losing their lives.

But what can save us from ourselves is the advance technology and wisdom that probably has been buried in Atlantean time capsules throughout the world in secret hiding places. Then those souls who fled Atlantis and helped with the preservation of their technology and records have reincarnated today then perhaps, they will one day re-remember where these secret locations are and go back to retrieve what they have hidden before. And once we have these advance tools and the sacred knowledge of Atlantis, these resources could assist humanity to create a world of total peace.

Now besides having on a personal level my own visions and insights about a time coming for our world to see total peace in our near future (as well as images in my mind of being in Atlantis), there are many other people who are having a similar type of vision for our future. For example, there is a book called “My Descent into Death” based on the Near Death Experience of a man named Howard Storm.

In this book (which is his story) Mr. Storm goes to Heaven and meets the “Angels” and the “Christ”, who show him the power of the Creator’s Love. Then Mr. Storm is sent back to the earth where he renters his physical body and has to deal with his serious health challenges that cause his NDE, but eventually he does recover. But the key message he received during his visit to so-called “Heaven” is that the “Creator” through the “Christ” and the “Angels” will be directly assisting Humanity at some point in our future so together we will make a beautiful and peaceful world. That this is will be our destiny absolutely and for now we just have to live our lives the best we can, to be positive and joyful and not allow the fear of current events take us into a dark path or depression. That there is a force of a “Universal Love Energy” that is always around us and insidee of us, and that if we can link into this force, and share it with others, it is a part of a plan to help us collectively bring our world into a time of peace.

Now, although Mr. Storm’s story might sound a bit religious; for those of us who are following our own spiritual path, we know in the depth of our being that there is this loving higher intelligence or consciousness which watches over us and that is continuously assisting us in our spiritual evolution. And we have called this force “God” or the “Creator” Anyway, I apologize for being a bit sidetracked here but I always share something interesting I have come across just as I begin to write a new report or essay.

2) Now getting back to the proof of Atlantis, there is yet another book I discovered at the local library that was written by a Dr. Phelon, who was the head of a Hermetic Mystical Order that he published in 1903. In this book, Dr. Phelon reported of an experience he had in the late 1800’s, while taking a boat from New York City to California (which means they had to go around Cape Horn of South America).

On this boat he met a very interesting man who was the only other passenger on the ship. They had many conversations about Atlantis and Lemuria. I suspect this stranger was linked to some secret order who had a direct connection with the ancient history and knowledge of Atlantis in some manner that was not fully explained in the book but we could surmise.

OurStoryofAtlantisTo make a long story short, this stranger recognized the soul of Dr. Phelon as a close spiritual brother and then guided him to visit one of the islands in the West Indies (between Cuba and South America) where they discovered a stone structure of advance design sticking out of the water. The Stranger somehow knew how to open the door to this building and inside they find a wooden box containing inside an ancient papyrus scroll written in Ancient Atlantean. Dr. Phelon writes down the translation of this document from the stranger who somehow understands Atlantean. In this scroll it tells a remarkable story from a person living in Atlantis about what the people were like and how it was like to live in this fabled continent. According to the author this accounting takes place about 29,000 B.C. The scroll not only discusses the normal lifestyle of an Atlantean but shares the higher spiritual principles that the Atlanteans followed which guided their lives as well.  The key to this book is that we are not speculating what it was like to live in Atlantis, the writer of the tablets was sharing their experiences directly.

As one begins to read this book, what is quite remarkable is the writer of this scroll is speaking about a period of time when the Atlanteans had total harmony between their sciences, their governmental institution and their spirituality. For example for a new law to be passed, all the people of the land had to agree, not just a few elected officials who represented everyone.  Also, each Atlantean had everything provided to them to live a full life, as they had a home and everything they required to live a happy life.  There were no poor people, people hungry and living on the streets as we have today and people were all totally aware of their inner spirituality.  This is why there were three great magi or sages who were the spiritual leaders to guide the people as well teach the higher spiritual knowledge.

And finally, the most basic concept of life which all Atlanteans of this age accepted as absolute truth was that “Everything that is in the “Visible” must first originate from the “Invisible”. It appears these ancient scrolls offering to us in our world of today a powerful sign of where humanity is headed for in our near future. I don’t know, what do you think?

Origins of the Crystal Skulls – also linked to Atlantis?

Of course, as a Crystal Skull Explorer, I have come across alot of information via spiritual mediums, channeled information as well as personal soul memories from myself along with various other individuals that indicated in Atlantis, the crystal skulls played a very important role as well, especially linked with their spiritual temples.  Several people discussed that within Atlantis were 13 healing temples and each one had a very special crystal skull.

That in fact, some of what we call ancient (very old) crystal skulls that are known today could have been in Atlantis and that at least some of these skulls were saved and transported to the various Atlantean colonies in the world before Atlantis sank.  This could be why we are finding crystal skulls buried in the ground or linked to ancient ruins in such locations as Mexico and Central America where untold numbers of crystal skulls have been uncoverd in recent years.  We also must look to other areas as well as to where crystal skulls are appearling like South America (Peru), Egypt and possibly into the Orient and Australia.  We have heard from some of the indigenous elders, who do discuss the origin of the skulls, that they did come from Atlantis.  So what I would like to do in the remainder of this section is give some personal visions I have had related to the skulls being in Atlantis to finish this article.  While I can not prove what I see in my mind’s eye, I am sure some of the readers will inwardly resonate to what I share.

The personal memories I see in my mind’s eye linked to Atlantis, I believe come from the last day of this continent.  I see myself walking in one of the temples and also be in charge to care for a crystal skull in that temple. If the experiences I had in Peru from 1997-2002 are correct, where I was looking for a sky blue totally translucent two part (separate lower jaw) crystal skull are correct, then I believe the temple which housed this “Blue Skull” is where I was.  As while I was in Peru, just north of a Lima, as we were following a lead where this “Blue Skull” might be hidden, I had a vision of coming to Peru from Atlantis in an anti-gravitational ship along with other sacred artifacts from Peru.

Anyway, getting back to Atlantis for a moment, it is through the temples, that people would study the spiritual laws and the ancient wisdom.  However at the end of Atlantis, there was a division amongst the Priests, some using their knowledge to have power over the people and another group who worked for the good of everyone, as Cayce said “The Sons and Daughters of the Light”.  We saw the end of Atlantis coming and we knew that the sacred artifacts had to be preserved for a future time when humanity when need these tools to prevent its own self-destruction. We also saw that South America would be a good place to hide these artifacts as in that future time, there would still be places not overturned by modern humanity that would still be full of nature.  I also recall that in the sacred temples of Atlantis in the center was a kind of brilliant column of light, an eternal light that never went out (probably in these end times this light had gone out long before due to the misuse of technologies) that when you were near it, it would energize you and help you link with your inner being.  So I do remember these temples being used to anchor higher vibrational frequencies on our world and the teaching and training centers.

Logo for Crystal Skull World Day, November 22nd, 2015, the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull shown in the Center, per permission of Bill Homann

Logo for Crystal Skull World Day, November 22nd, 2015, the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull shown in the Center, per permission of Bill Homann. This day is an open invitation to all crystal skull guardians to join together for a special meditation for harmony and peace. It was first held on November 22nd, 2014. All are invited to join in, even if you don’t have your own crystal skull – see the website below!

One other memory, before I speak about a specific crystal skull we know of today which I believe was definitely in Atlantis, deals with a lifetime I had as a Tibetan Monk – perhaps several hundreds years ago.  In this memory I feel like I am in an underground cave underneath the Potala, which used to be the home of the Dali Lama, and that in this cave, known only to the monks, were 13 crystal skulls – arranged as I was meditating in front of them, with one in front, a semi-circle of four behind and another semi-circle of 8 behind that.  My sensing, even as I feel now re-living this experience energetically as I type it now (since as I have written before, on that level of our being, the soul which exists in the spiritual dimension, we are eternal and timeless and we can experience simultaneously several lifetimes at once while we are in body) – is that either all or some of these skulls here came from Atlantis.  So I see at least the Blue Skull in Peru being from this fabelled land and also some of the skulls in the Tibetan lifetime as well.  So what the indigenous people describe as the skulls being scattered to different locations in the world after Atlantis was destroyed makes a bit of sense.

Finally, one of the crystal skulls known today, which I have mentioned before in one of my other articles, known as the “Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull” (of Love), now with the guardian, Bill Homann, and a good friend and brother – many people have felt that this crystal skull originated in Atlantis and possibly, due to its physical discovery (according to the story told by F. A. Mitchell-Hedges, who led an expedition to Belize in 1923, and then later by his adopted Anna, who I did meet a few times and was a very devoted and loving guardian to protect the skull, a very good friend to Mr. Homann, who she gifted the skull in her will when she left us in 2008) in Belize, is possible that this skull was taken to the Atlantean colonies in Central America.

According to Carole Davies, the spiritual medium for the book, “The Skull Speaks”, the Mitchell-Hedges Skull was created from portions of the Great Crystal of Atlantis and that a portion (or duplicate) of the consciousness of the real Atlanteans who made this skull using a superior technology (one we do not have at present) impeded the consciousness inside the skull. Further, via my co-author Sandra Bowen, for our book, “Mysteries of the Crystal Skulls Revealed” (1983, out of print, we only have 2 copies left) stated that the Atlanteans used the bone skull of a loved Atlantean Priestess who died and changed it into quartz crystal which became the Mitchell-Hedges Skull we know today.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this report and that it has perhaps offered to you some new insights about the legendary Atlantis with a link to the crystal skulls. However if you might wish to know more about Atlantis, we have listed below a link that gives to you more information about the book by Dr. Phelon and how you can obtain your own copy of this rare work. Additionally I have shared a link to our book which discusses the Blue Crystal Skull that called me to find it in Peru, which I believe was not only in Atlantis but was in Lemuria before that.  Plus you will find the website for Crystal Skull World Day listed below, which even if you don’t have a crystal skull you can still join and be a part on Sunday, November 22nd.

Yours forever in the paranormal, the search for truth and to co-create together a world of peace,

Joshua Shapiro

A UFO/Paranormal/Crystal Skull Explorer, author, investigator, speaker

Email: crystalskullexplorers@gmail.com
Website: www.crystalskullexplorers.com
Free Newsletter: www.whoisjoshuashapiro.com/newsletter-signup.htm
Twitter: @csexplorer
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Skype: joshaushapiro17

Book on Atlantis

Our Story of Atlantis or the Three Steps by Phelon & Lippard


Book on the Crystal Skulls

Journeys of the Crystal Skull Explorers: Travel Log #2 – Search for the Blue Skull in Peru (three journeys from 1997 – 2002)


Crystal Skull World Day

(Sunday, November 22nd, meditations at four specific times, all are welcome to join!!)

Special Announcement – New Membership Site coming Soon!!

(We are going to release soon, parts of the new novels we are writting via a special membership service.  In addition, we will be releasing audio interviews with key paranormal researchers and authors which we have never shared before as well as special discounts on our products and services we offer – if you wish to be updated when the services is available please send us an e-mail with “Sign Me Up” in the subject!!)


Filming In Rendelsham Forrest

With the publication of “Encounter in Rendlesham Forest”, the book that John Burroughs, Jim Penniston and I co-wrote about the Rendlesham Forest incident, Britain’s most famous and compelling UFO encounter is once again receiving major mainstream media coverage. “Encounter in Rendlesham Forest” is being put out by Thomas Dunne Books, part of the giant Macmillan publishing house – one of the so-called “Big Six” in the literary world. But in this article, I’m not going to talk about the UFO event that has been dubbed “Britain’s Roswell”, or about the book. To give people an entirely new perspective, I want to come at the subject from an entirely different angle, and detail what happened on some of the various occasions that I’ve filmed TV interviews in Rendlesham Forest. This will be a comparatively lighthearted, anecdote-based article, but relating these stories will hopefully illustrate a few more serious points about the incident, about ufology, and about media coverage of the UFO phenomenon more generally.
I’m not going to attempt to give a definitive, chronological list of shows. Nor am I going to list times when I’ve discussed the Rendlesham Forest incident on news bulletins (e.g. in relation to my involvement with the declassification and release of the MoD’s UFO files), chat shows or documentaries where I’m in a TV studio. Frankly, there are far too many (well over a hundred, I suspect) to list, and many of the interviews cover broadly similar ground. So I’m going to focus on the occasions where I’ve actually filmed on location in Rendlesham Forest. Even here, it won’t be a definitive list. Again, I’ve probably filmed in the forest well over a dozen times, and inevitably, there’s been some overlap. Rather, I want to pick out a few anecdotes, so as to give people a flavour of the sort of things that go on in the media world, which won’t necessarily be readily apparent from watching the finished TV shows. Hopefully, readers will appreciate this behind-the-scenes look at how the media works, even if it comes across as a somewhat disjointed series of stories.
For outside broadcasts, I’ve been used in a number of different roles. Given that I now work as a journalist and broadcaster myself, I’ve sometimes acted as the presenter, sometimes as the presenter’s friend (a role where you facilitate the discussion by talking with the main host in a particularly chatty way, as if you’re old friends), sometimes as the lead contributor, other times as a standard contributor, and sometimes as the reporter, doing the straight-to-camera live broadcast:
“This is Nick Pope, live from Rendlesham Forest, where back in December 1980 …”
Bear in mind that if you’ve seen me do that sort of thing on a breakfast TV show, at 7am, the chances are that I was up at 3am or 4am (even if I was staying in a local hotel), rehearsing the piece with the film crew, with all of us being pretty tired, cold and miserable. The TV industry isn’t always quite as glamourous as some people may think!
On the theme of TV not being the glamorous industry it’s sometimes portrayed as, I should probably start off by mentioning three factors that have a bearing on just about all outside broadcasts: the weather, noise, and passers by.
Few places in the UK are colder than the East coast of England in the wintertime, and if you look at some videos of me at Bentwaters, e.g. the episode of “UFO Hunters” that was devoted to the case, you’ll see that warm weather clothing is essential. One seldom films in the rain at all, as the lens gets wet and the light tends to vary too much if there are showers, but if the only issue is the cold, you just have to get on with it. The secret is to find a really stylish but warm coat – you don’t want to wear too many layers, as you end up looking overly bulky (accepted wisdom is that people already look a little chunkier on TV than in real life, so you don’t want to compound the effect). It sometimes helps to wear a hat, gloves and scarf in between takes, and then remove items such as the scarf just before the cameras roll – though you have to keep an eye on continuity and ensure, for example, that you don’t end up wearing an item of clothing in one shot, but not in the next. Incidentally, on the subject of clothing, there are often strict rules about what you can and can’t wear on TV, e.g. no branded clothes and no ‘busy’ patterns such as stripes that are too close together. I always check with the researcher/production assistant well beforehand, but there have been some surreal moments, e.g. the time when a production company decided they wanted me to go with my ‘Man from the Ministry’ image and wear a suit. That sort of thing is fine if I’m on Newsnight, but it looked decidedly odd walking around a forest dressed for the office!
Noise is a problem for most outdoor shoots (and some indoor ones too!) and while people might think a rural area like Rendlesham Forest is better than a city, background noise in the country (e.g. from a passing aircraft) actually stands out far more than background noise in the city, and can often lead to halts in filming.
The same is true with passers by walking into the shot. On several occasions I’ve had to walk slowly and purposefully away from the East Gate of RAF Woodbridge, towards the camera (a dramatic shot that directors love), only to hear “cut”, look behind me, and find that a dog-walker has wandered into the shot at the last moment. Getting a simple piece of B-roll footage (supplementary shots filmed to establish a character and/or location, and slotted between material shot in the main interview) can often take a long time to film. Children can present particular challenges, and the fact that there’s a children’s area by the car park/camp site at the beginning of the “UFO Trail” in Rendlesham Forest leads to the inevitable “Hey mister, are you making a film?”, or other such questions. I always respond in a polite and friendly way, of course, and unlike some TV folk I could mention, I never refuse an autograph request.
I mentioned dog walkers, but Rendlesham Forest has another wildlife challenge that one doesn’t often encounter on a shoot. I was doing a “walk and talk” along one of the main forest tracks with a film crew one summer’s day, when suddenly there was a loud yell. I looked around and saw one of the crew frozen on the spot, looking fearfully ahead. He’d nearly trodden on a snake that had been basking in the summer sunshine. It was an adder, and could have given him a nasty bite. This is a good example of why TV companies must apply to the Forestry Commission for permission to film, as they’ll need a licence, and issue of the licence is dependent upon the company having adequate insurance in place.
Occasionally, there can be some funny moments on a shoot. On one occasion, I went out to shoot a small item and there was only one other person present, so he was director, camera operator, lighting engineer and sound engineer, all in one. He then got a call from the studio, asking us to film a recreation of the UFO sighting, to accompany my interview. We looked at each other in amazement, wondering how we were going to accomplish this. In the end, as the light was fading, we found a small bush, and the inventive TV company man detached the light and fixed it onto the end of a rod. We both then got down on our knees, one of us on each side of the bush. I moved the light slowly from side to side, while he operated the camera and filmed it. I never saw the finished piece (I’m not one of those people who watches my own TV shows!) but I hope it didn’t look too amateurish!
On another occasion, I was with a larger crew and time margins were running out on us, despite our still being some distance from the site where the UFO was seen to land, on the first night. The director turned to me:
“Is it much further?”
“A fair way, yes”, I replied.
A crafty look appeared on the director’s face.
“One bit of forest looks pretty much the same as another, doesn’t it?”
I caught his drift.
“Absolutely”, I replied, nodding enthusiastically. “It’s all very similar”.
A few moments later we’d set up and I was speaking to camera:
“Here, somewhere very close to this spot – we can’t be certain of the exact location after all these years …”
Joking aside, there are strict broadcasting rules about faking things, so we had to be very careful we weren’t falsely implying that we were at the exact spot. Plus, as people who know the case well are aware, large parts of the forest were felled in the Great Storm of 1987, and the replanting changed the layout of the forest to such an extent that it’s not really possible, nowadays, to be sure where John Burroughs and Jim Penniston encountered the landed UFO.
While I’ve done hundreds of TV interviews over the years, it’s still easy to occasionally get things wrong. One time I was asked to walk into a clearing and tell the story of what happened to John Burroughs and Jim Penniston when they first saw the landed UFO. I was asked to put myself in their shoes and tell the story in real-time. They wanted a standard commentator interview, but I inadvertently slipped into presenter mode, which is louder and more extrovert. I walked into the clearing, turned around with a shocked expression on my face and launched into a gravel-voiced and dramatic retelling of the story, along the lines of the cliché about the voiceover specialists who begin movie trailers with the phrase “In a world ….” – anyway, that’s when I heard the director’s voice, loud and clear:
“Cut. Lose the theatrics!”
One amusing incident happened near the forest, not in it. The director concerned wasn’t really sure what to make of the lighthouse theory and thought it was a bit weak. But it’s been featured in one or two previous documentaries, so he thought he’d better get some footage of it. So we drove, and drove, and drove, until finally we arrived at the coast, a few miles away, at Orford. And there was the lighthouse – still looking tiny in the distance.
“Oh for **** sake”, the director muttered, under his breath, realising instantly what any ufologists who have actually been to the area have long-since figured out, i.e. that the chances of numerous USAF witnesses mistaking a distant lighthouse for a landed, metallic UFO are about zero. He decided it would be intellectually dishonest to even imply that the lighthouse could have been involved, so we broke for lunch and discussed some of the stronger skeptical theories that we might feature instead. Even on occasions where I’ve filmed with crews at night, when we’ve found one of the few areas of the forest from which the lighthouse is even visible, it appears as a tiny pinprick of light on the distant horizon. Confusion over the lighthouse badly caught out one ufologist (another amateur astronomer trying to position himself as an expert on UFOs) in a recent UFO series that included coverage of the Rendlesham Forest incident. He launched into a monologue about how the blinking of the lighthouse might coincide with points on Colonel Halt’s tape when the UFO came into view. But it was clear that the ufologist concerned had never actually been to the forest himself. As the TV show wrapped up the story it was revealed that the lighthouse wasn’t even visible from most of the locations from which the UFO was seen, resulting in a situation where the skeptical ufologist probably came across to viewers as being either naïve or dishonest – or both. This is one of the big lessons of TV. You might want to be on television, but if you try to bluff it and talk about something you don’t really know about, you will be found out!
One of the most memorable shoots I’ve done was associated with an event put on to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Rendlesham Forest incident. In parallel with the event, at which I was one of the speakers, I’d been commissioned by The Sun to write a feature article on the case and the fact that 30 years had elapsed. It was a complicated dynamic, not least because I had to ask John Burroughs and Jim Penniston to break away from what they were doing, so they could meet the photographer from The Sun, and pose for photos in the forest. But all the time, John and Jim – who were still tired and jetlagged after their flight over from America – were preparing for the talk, as well as filming with Prometheus Pictures, the production company that makes “Ancient Aliens”. That was before John, Jim and I decided to collaborate on a book, so it was slightly more tricky to get them away from the film crew than it might otherwise have been. The Sun’s photographer got his photos in the end, and my feature article ran a day or two later, but the expression on John and Jim’s faces in the photos makes it pretty clear that they wanted to be somewhere else – preferably somewhere warm. On more than one occasion I’ve joked with film crews where the running gag has been how we wish this famous UFO encounter had taken place somewhere warmer!
I hope this article has given readers an interesting and slightly different perspective on not just the Rendlesham Forest incident, but the media as whole. As someone who now works in the film and TV industry, I find there’s a lot of misunderstanding on the part of the UFO community when it comes to the media, and I’m aware that some ufologists believe the media is part of a cover-up, or at least complicit with one, through a policy of ridicule. That’s not the case, but that’s a whole new topic, which I’ll save for a future article. So for now, I’ll sign off with the three words that everyone being filmed wants to hear the director say:
“That’s a wrap!”


My Paranormal Views

The Paranormal.

For me the Paranormal has always been normal. I have seen things since I was two and in fact my very first experience, a memorable one, was of seeing a “ghost”.

This was when I was walking between my parents past manor park cemetery and on being aware of “something” going on I turned round to see a man rising horizontally from the pavement to up end and stand on his feet.

As amazing as that may seem to me that wasn’t what was “wrong” he was wearing what I now know to be Victorian clothes, the whole suit with a top hat. Not seeing anyone dressed like that was odd, nothing else.

So, when my Dad asked what was wrong I simply replied “there is a funny man behind us” that was my first introduction if you like or I prefer to call it “awakening” that remembering  that I had come from somewhere else, that I was borrowing this time though not perhaps entirely sure why at that young. Some of course are far more aware.

I have seen a few since as I grew up but mostly I have felt them and the atmosphere they create.

There are basically two types of ghost phenomena.

There are basically two types of ghost phenomena, one is the “imprint type” where energy is concentrated in an area and reacts in a similar way to a recording, I simply replays the energy stored sometimes at a predestined or preset time on a par with an alarm clock, we have all heard of the “White lady who reputedly appears on such and such a date at midnight.”

This can also be triggered by events and conditions. The second type vastly more interesting is the interactive type which is where much of the current interest in media is concentrated.

This is a spirit, conscious, who interacts with our world. It will react to us in some way and shows intelligence in its responses and those responses will vary enormously. They can be from friendly, timely warnings to poltergeist phenomena, to gross interaction.

A proliferation of programmes, some obviously dubious, are not doing any favours for the serious research and work that real professionals undertake. These programs are only interested in sensationalism and are aimed at feeding a particular market.

One program in particular has a rather angry gentleman who tries to antagonise any particular spirit that is supposed to be around. This is a particularly ignorant and dangerous thing to do especially if the place itself is “haunted” the knowledge of protection is sadly misunderstood and this kind of example only encourages those who are either foolish or sceptics to try their luck.

The Paranormal is not new.

There are one or two genuine paranormal programmes in the world but generally because of the actions of some that have gained notoriety it has given the subject media wise a bad name.

This subject is one that deserves proper scientific investigation. The Paranormal is not new, throughout history people have experienced and noted down,  since man began we have had this instinct that “something exists” some have of course passed into legend and like many urban myths some have passed into folk law and become a “myth of a myth” human nature being what it is and the Chinese whispers syndrome there are many reports which will fail proper investigation but, like all things paranormal there are some that defy any “rational explanation” rational that is to tall except he debunking sceptic.

New inventions.

With the inventions of new sensitive equipment, and ways of measuring for instance there are some wonderful cameras around for example the Go Pro camera which has such a range of accessories and is highly adaptable, waterproof and extreme low light capabilities that can be used are becoming available to many people and new discoveries on of scientific investigation and some great website’s provide information on how to use equipment and where to find suitable places to investigate. Everyone now uses mobile phones, tablets etc all of which are highly portable.

Fakes, Hoaxes and sheer fraud.

This has provided very many opportunities for phenomena to be recorded and uploaded. There are of course so many fakes and there must be a good proportion of fakes propounded by debunkers who not only take great pleasure in fooling a public and underlining the fact that people can be fooled quite easily, giving them (debunkers) more confidence that “they are right” of course some are meant to fool the more serious investigator and a debunker highly prizes a piece of work that gains notoriety as real when they can at a suitable time, say “rubbish this was produced like this, we faked it and so is everything else!”

In that light there have been some notable hoaxes one of the best ever, screened as a live ghost watch was screened on 31 October 1992 with Sarah Greene and best of all Michael Parkinson which gave the show much credibility, Mr Parkinson not especially known for hoaxing being a real positive for the show apparently being real. For a link to that go to: – http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/ghostwatch

There are many great and genuine phenomena captured and so interesting to find. We in the UK are the most watched people in the world apparently… and the fact means that we and the world is videoed and screened more than at any time and with 24/7 surveillance more and more is captured in “normal circumstances”, daylight, and in what previously would have been unexpected places, petrol stations for example.

Science is moving fast

Science is moving incredibly fast in the field of the paranormal and especially in particular with Quantum physics.

I have been told that in 20/30 years time that “this place (Earth) will be very different” and what we do in ASSMPI as much as any real general awakening, will have a large effect on the world. Quantum physics, the awakening and the fact that people will make a different correlation to religions will all tally together to show people that the “Paranormal” is in fact actually the “real normal”.

Light, always, Leo Bonomo


UFO Government Information Released

In June 2013 the UK Government released what was (at the time) billed as the final batch of Ministry of Defence (MoD) UFO files – part of a wider project to declassify and release the entire archive of these files and transfer them to the National Archives. Nick Pope used to work on these files – and indeed wrote some of them! As the public face of the MoD’s UFO project and of the UFO file release project, Nick Pope will give an insider’s account of what is arguably the biggest UFO-related story in recent years. He tells the story of the release of these real-life X-Files by means of a Q&A in which he responds to the questions on this story that he’s been asked most frequently, by the media, by the UFO community and by the public.

How much material has been released?

209 files and around 52,000 pages of documentation have been released so far. This is in addition to a number of UFO files that had already been released under the old Public Record Act, the best-known provision of which was the so-called 30-year rule, which said files could be considered for public release 30 years after the date of the most recent document contained in them.

Why were these files released?

There were three reasons. Firstly, the French Government released their UFO files in 2007, setting a precedent that would have been difficult for us to ignore. Secondly, the MoD hoped this would generate good PR about the Department’s commitment to open government and freedom of information, while helping to dispel rumours of a cover-up. But the third and biggest reason was that the MoD devised this as a means of dealing with the huge number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests the Department was getting on UFOs. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, there were many months when the MoD got more FOIA requests on UFOs than on any other subject. The workload involved in responding to them on a case-by-case basis was huge. But once the decision had been made (in 2007) to release the files proactively, all future FOIA requests could be dealt with simply by saying that the Department was in the process of releasing the material. In this way, new FOIA requests would not require a substantive answer, because “information intended for future release” is one of a number of FOIA exemptions. Similarly, once all the files have been released, pretty much all FOIA requests on UFOs can be dealt with by a statement saying that all information held on the subject is available at the National Archives.

How exactly did the release take place?

Firstly, all of the material had to be scanned-in, so it was available electronically. The MoD then had to redact the files. That is, they went through them word by word and blacked out anything still classified, or anything covered by any of the other exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act. Then, the unclassified/declassified files were transferred to the National Archives. This was a slow and time-consuming process, so the files were released in separate batches. There have been ten batches released to date. The first batch was made public in May 2008, with successive batches following every 6 months or so. The most recent batch (the tenth) was released in June 2013. The remaining 18 files are likely to be made public later in 2015, or in 2016, either in a single, final batch, or possibly in two batches.

I’ve seen one or two ufologists claim they were responsible for the file release. Is there any truth in such boasts?

No. Such claims are either dishonest or incredibly naïve. Hundreds of people made UFO-related FOIA requests. Writing in 2006, on the MoD’s website, the Under Secretary of State for Defence, Tom Watson said this: “There is a real and enduring interest in Unidentified Flying Objects. By far the most popular topic of FOI requests has been UFOs, followed by recruitment enquiries, enquiries from staff, and historical events such as World War Two, the Falklands conflict and the Balkans. Recent freedom of information releases on UFOs have attracted media interest from as far away as Japan”. This was the main factor that led the MoD to decide to transfer its UFO files to the National Archives, so it’s pretty insulting to the hundreds of other members of the public, journalists and ufologists who lobbied MoD on this issue and made FOI requests, if any individual ufologists try to take credit for this.

So what’s actually in the files that have been released?

Let me start by saying what’s not in the files: there’s no ‘spaceship in a hangar’ smoking gun that’s going to prove we’re being visited by extraterrestrials. If we have such a thing, I’m afraid they didn’t tell me! Now, as to what’s in the files, it’s a mixture. Firstly, there are policy documents, setting out how those of us charged with researching and investigating UFOs viewed the phenomenon. These papers set out the MoD’s strategy on the issue, so to speak. Secondly, there are the sighting reports themselves. This category is a mixed bag, because obviously the vast majority of sightings turn out to be misidentifications, so people have to wade through a lot of bland one or two-page reports of what are obviously aircraft lights or Chinese lanterns, before they get to the better material – it’s a classic example of the old saying that “the best place to hide a book is in a library”! To add to the frustration, the MoD’s investigations didn’t often generate the paper trail researchers would like. Thirdly, there are the public correspondence files. Fourthly, there are files showing how the subject was handled when raised in Parliament.

If there’s no ‘smoking gun’, what do the files show, taken collectively?

What’s readily apparent from a detailed study of all this is that the MoD was telling Parliament, the media and the public that the UFO phenomenon was of “no defence significance” and of limited interest to the MoD. However, the files show that behind the scenes, the subject was obviously taken more seriously than we let on, with many of the cases self-evidently being of great defence significance – e.g. when UFOs were seen in close proximity to military bases, were encountered by RAF pilots, or were tracked on radar by fighter controllers or air traffic controllers. Those of us working on this subject often found ourselves having to employ an Orwellian ‘doublethink’ in our handling of this issue.

Do the files cover other mysteries too?

The UFO files inevitably include some alien contact/alien abduction accounts, as well as some material on other mysteries that some people believe are linked to the UFO phenomenon, such as crop circles and animal mutilations. And occasionally – mainly because there was nowhere else in government to send such material – the UFO project received reports of ghosts seen at military bases, and approaches from psychics, offering to undertake ‘remote viewing’ for the MoD. The last batch of files that was released even contained some papers relating to interest in anti-gravity and gravity modification research expressed by MoD scientists. I wasn’t joking when I referred to MoD’s UFO project as being “the real-life X-Files”.

What has your personal involvement been with the release of these files?

Having worked on MoD’s UFO project, staff at the National Archives asked me to select some cases that could be highlighted to the media in the run-up to the release. The media could run whatever stories they liked, of course, but inevitably, most times they would pick the ones I suggested. I was asked to ensure that there were cases from all parts of the UK, so as to appeal to the regional press, and to ensure that the material selected catered to a wide cross-section of viewpoints, i.e. picking out some cases that were easy to explain, some that were genuine mysteries, some disturbing cases (e.g. near-misses between UFOs and commercial aircraft) and some of the more amusing cases in the files, such as the man who claimed that his car, tent and pet dog had been abducted by aliens. I was also asked to record a promotional video for the National Archives, drawing attention to the release and talking about it in positive terms. But my biggest involvement in all this was to do literally hundreds of TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews on the story (and write some of the features myself) and thus become the public face of the file release project. It was certainly a success and I appeared on a huge range of news programmes, chat shows and radio programmes, including Newsnight, BBC News, ITV News, CNN News, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Sky News, This Morning, GMTV and Radio 4’s Today programme, to name but a few.

What was it like for you on the actual days the files were released?

It was manic! As regard to the practicalities of a “file release day”, two days beforehand, an embargoed press release would be sent out to the world’s media. On a couple of occasions the embargo was broken, but we managed (just) to get the genie back into the bottle. On many occasions, I would be asked to write a feature article for a newspaper. I wrote several for The Sun, but also wrote for The Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mirror. Once the embargoed press release was sent out, I would receive requests for short, punchy comments that could be used in newspaper articles (that often ran in parallel to the features I wrote myself), as well as numerous TV and radio interview bids. I’d try to accept as many of these bids as possible, but inevitably, if I was at the BBC studios in White City for a live TV interview at 7am, I wasn’t going to be able to get to the Sky News studios in West London by 7.15am. I partly got around this by trying to stagger things, so that I would do, say, a BBC news interview at 6am, an ITV chat show at 7am and a Sky News feature at 8am. But inevitably, things got hectic and stressful, especially as the BBC, ITV and Sky studios are in different parts of London, and the traffic can be a nightmare. I’m pleased to say that I never once missed an interview, but there were certainly some very close calls. Things got even more hectic as new requests came in all the time, and there were some surreal moments, such as doing a down-the-line interview with a BBC radio station on my mobile phone, while sitting in the back of a courtesy car taking me to my next TV interview. Another way we got around these difficulties was by pre-recording things where possible. Before most file release days I would record a string of ‘to camera’ remarks about the files at the studios of ITN Productions, in Holborn. They would then produce 2 or 3 different news packages, which any media outlets could use. This was particularly useful for US networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox. If people Google “Nick Pope” & “ITN” they can watch a few of these. It became a tradition that after my final interview, usually in the late evening, the courtesy car would drop me off at my local sports bar for a well-earned cold beer.

What was your favourite interview or news feature?

I have several. Newsround and Blue Peter were great fun to do, as was The Alan Titchmarsh Show. One of the most unusual stunts involved my writing a science fiction story based on the files, for the BBC World Service show The World Today. I then had to judge the entries from listeners, who were invited to email in suggestions for continuing the story. I also enjoyed giving a talk about the file release at the Royal Albert Hall, in October 2010.

What’s your favourite story from the files?

It was good to see more papers released on ‘classic cases’ such as the Rendlesham Forest incident and the Cosford incident, though it was unfortunate that some Defence Intelligence Staff files containing documents on Rendlesham had been destroyed. There were also some interesting (and highly disturbing) reports of near-misses between UFOs and commercial aircraft. However, if readers will forgive me for highlighting a somewhat light-hearted story, I rather like the case of the man who placed a 100-1 bet that alien life would be officially confirmed by the Millennium, and then tried to enlist the help of the MoD to support his case against the bookmakers. Sadly, the man lost his bet.

How did you feel, seeing all this material again after so many years?

The whole file release project has been something of a ‘blast from the past’ for me, seeing material that I worked on (or wrote), when I never thought I’d see it again. Bear in mind that when I was working on MoD’s UFO project, the UK didn’t have a Freedom of Information Act, so the assumption was that none of the files I was working on would even be considered for public release until 30 years after a file was closed. So, there were mixed emotions really. I had some feelings of nostalgia, obviously, but also some feelings of pride at a job well done, and some regrets for the inevitable mistakes and missed opportunities.

Have all the MoD’s UFO files been released?

No. Firstly, many UFO files from the 1950s and 1960s were destroyed many years ago, before any decisions were made to retain files on this subject, or release them. Secondly, there are a number of exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, which can exclude from public release material covering such areas as “defence”, “national security” and “intelligence”. Many exemptions in the UFO files are little more than deleting the names and addresses of witnesses, to protect their privacy, but there are cases where other exemptions have been used. The final report of an intelligence study into UFOs, codenamed Project Condign, is a good example of a publicly-released UFO document where a small (but significant) amount of information has been blacked out. Thirdly, and by the MoD’s own admission, Defence Intelligence Staff files on the Rendlesham Forest incident were “inadvertently destroyed”. Similarly, the MoD stated that a ship’s log for HMS Manchester, that might have contained details of a UFO seen during a NATO exercise, was lost after having been blown overboard by a “freak gust of wind”. Gun camera footage of UFOs taken by RAF jets in the Sixties has apparently “not survived”, while a spectacular UFO photograph that had been on my office wall for many years was “mislaid” – along with the negatives. I make no accusations of foul play here, but I can certainly understand the anger and frustration that has been expressed by some people in the UFO community and the conspiracy theory community. And finally, as I’ve mentioned earlier, despite the MoD and the National Archives stating to the media that the last of the files had been released in June 2013, there are, in fact, a further 18 files that have yet to be passed from the MoD to the National Archives.

What has been the reaction of the UFO community to the release of these files?

To be honest, the reaction was a little disappointing. True believers tended to dismiss the release as disinformation: “All the good stuff’s been held back” was a frequent comment. The revelations concerning material that has been destroyed or lost didn’t help, while my central role in publicizing the release project further fuelled the fire: “He’s still on the payroll” is a phrase that I often heard from true believers and conspiracy theorists, when they saw me in the media, discussing these files. The reaction from die-hard debunkers was equally disappointing. There was a sneering tendency to focus on the odd case which clearly involved a hoax or an eccentric, while ignoring or glossing over the sightings where the witnesses were police officers, pilots or military personnel, where UFOs were tracked on radar, or where a photo or video was analysed by MoD’s technical wizards, with no evidence of fakery being found. The reasons for these reactions, of course, had to do with belief. Just as fascist and communist regimes are actually very similar, despite the apparent distance implied by phrases like “left-wing” and “right-wing”, so true believers and die-hard debunkers are actually chiseled from the same block, united by their dogma and their conclusion-led approach to the subject. The MoD files played to this, because they told neither group what they wanted to hear. True believers wanted definitive proof of extraterrestrial visitation and a government cover-up, while die-hard debunkers wanted confirmation that all sightings could be explained in terms of misidentifications, hoaxes, delusions, or people who’d had too much drink or drugs. But the files didn’t tell them this – they reflected a more subtle and complex truth about UFOs, i.e. that MoD isn’t covering up proof of extraterrestrial visitation, but that some UFO sightings appeared to defy conventional explanation, with even those of us in government not being aware of the true nature of the phenomenon.

So what happens now? Where do we go from here?

There was massive media and public interest on each of the days that the files were released, and for maybe a day or two afterwards, but memories fade quickly. There’s an old saying in the UK media that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. Once the dust has settled, the UFO community turns its attention elsewhere. More sightings take place, new stories surface and things move on. MoD’s UFO files are a valuable resource, but in time they will doubtless become little more relevant to the ufological debate as, say, the Project Blue Book archive. In the final analysis, little will change. True believers and die-hard debunkers will occasionally cherry-pick cases, information and quotes that fit their existing worldview – a classic case of what cognitive science calls “confirmation bias”. Ultimately though, true believers will naïvely continue to believe every tall tale they hear, while die-hard debunkers will dishonestly ignore good data, or alter the facts of a case so as to shoehorn it into their pre-conceived views. The irony is that UFO phenomenon itself will endure, as it always has done, oblivious to the views of either faction.

Do you have any final comments to make on the release of these files?

Perhaps I can finish by restating two points I made when the June 2013 file release took place, as they were quoted in most of the media articles about this story. I think they encapsulate things quite nicely:

“I hope people have as much fun reading these real-life X-Files as I had working on them. These documents don’t resolve the UFO mystery but they certainly show how the phenomenon was just as intriguing to the government as it is to the public.”

“These are the real-life X-Files. Most UFO sightings had conventional explanations, but a small percentage remained unexplained. These included cases where UFOs were seen by police officers, chased by pilots and tracked on radar. Whatever you think about UFOs, the release of these files shines a light on one of the most intriguing subjects ever studied by the British Government”.