Welcome to the latest round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
National Archives UFOs
On 18th February the National Archives published the latest batch of MoD UFO files. There are 24 files, containing a total of over 6000 pages of documents. The files cover the period 1994 to 2000 and include policy papers, UFO sighting reports and numerous letters from the public, seeking information about UFOs. Some of these files are entitled "persistent correspondent", which is MoD code for "this person is becoming a nuisance". In relation to the UFO sightings, some were explained, some unexplained, some funny and some just plain weird. This is the fifth batch of files to be released and is the biggest release yet, in an ongoing 3-year programme to declassify and release the entire archive of UFO files. I worked on these real-life X-Files and I'm pleased the public now have the opportunity to see them. It highlights one of the most fascinating subjects ever studied by the British government. There's some intriguing material in the newly-released files and I undertook a series of TV, radio and newspaper interviews to discuss this. Highlights included the main ITN News, Channel 4 News, GMTV, Geraldo at Large on Fox News, BBC Radio 5 Live and an article that The Guardian commissioned me to write for their Comment Is Free section. Check out www.nickpope.net for more details of the MoD's UFO file release programme.
MoD Insult UFO Witnesses
In a related development to the above story, it has emerged that prior to the release, MoD had to delete rude comments that officials had written on some of the hundreds of letters the department received from the public on this subject. Typically, this might be something along the lines of "this person is clearly a nutjob". MoD's lawyers were probably worried a UFO witness would sue the Department for libel. This was a tricky problem, because under the Freedom of Information Act, you're not supposed to black out a comment just because it's embarrassing. It's not clear how MoD got around this. I hasten to add that I never wrote any such comments and always treated witnesses politely and with respect, even when dealing with decidedly eccentric correspondence.
MoD UFO Revelations
The Ministry of Defence has released the documents setting out the reasons behind last year's termination of their UFO project. They have separately released the documents concerning the decision to release their UFO files to the National Archives. This material includes the ministerial submissions recommending these decisions, the respective approvals from the Under Secretary of State for Defence and defensive Q & A material for the MoD press office to use with the media. I acquired this material under the Freedom of Information Act. The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Channel 4 News website and numerous other media outlets ran this story, together with my comments on these latest revelations. Check out www.nickpope.net for the relevant documents.
MoD Destroying UFO Reports
Following on from the above, the most contentious revelation with the media and with the UFO research community was the news that the MoD is currently destroying any new letters or emails it receives about UFOs after 30 days, to avoid having to deal with Freedom of Information Act requests on the subject. Now MoD has terminated its UFO project and has no role in the subject, destroying UFO reports to avoid dealing with FOI requests isn't illegal. However, it's a great shame in terms of the interesting accounts that will never come to light unless witnesses report their sighting elsewhere, e.g. to the media or to a civilian UFO research group. This policy does not apply to reports received up until the point when MoD stopped investigating UFOs. This material will be sent to the National Archives as part of the ongoing programme to declassify and release the MoD's UFO files.
The Eerie Silence
In my previous column I gave an account of the two-day discussion meeting that I attended at the Royal Society. Entitled "The detection of extraterrestrial life and the consequences for science and society", the event included representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space affairs. Physicists, chemists, biologists, astronomers, anthropologists and even theologians came together to discuss this fascinating subject. One of the best-known attendees was astrophysicist and best-selling author Paul Davies. Paul Davies has a new book which is directly relevant to this, entitled The Eerie Silence: Are we alone in the Universe? Published on 18th March and available from all good book stores and websites, this provocative new title should reignite the debate about one of the most profound questions that we can ask ourselves.
A Beginner's Guide to Paranormal Investigation
Amberley Publishing PLC have released a new book co-authored by paranormal investigators Mark Rosney, Rob Bethell and Jebby Robinson. Between them, the authors have over 30 years collective experience in investigating UFOs, ghosts and a whole range of other mysteries and paranormal phenomena. They also have their own TV series, Spook School, which airs on the Unexplained Channel (Sky Channel 201). This intriguing book takes a science-based approach, explains what equipment you need and gives numerous other tips on how to carry out proper investigations. Entitled A Beginner's Guide to Paranormal Investigation, this is a book that no budding Mulder or Scully should be without. Check out www.amberleybooks.com for details of this and other titles on the paranormal.
Nick Pope on Tour
I've just returned from Mexico, where I was speaking at the International UFO Summit held at the World Trade Centre in Mexico City from 19th - 21st March. For those who want to catch me at international conferences, I'll be speaking at the 22nd annual Ozark UFO Conference in Arkansas on 9th - 11th April and the Nexus conference in Amsterdam on 1st May, giving talks on the MoD UFO files and the Rendlesham Forest case. Check out www.ozarkufo.com and www.nexusconference.com for more details.
Nick Pope has written four books. Open Skies, Closed Minds is an overview of the UFO phenomenon with the emphasis on his official Ministry of Defence research and investigation. The Uninvited is an overview of the alien abduction mystery. Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning Strike are science fiction novels about alien invasion, incorporating UFO and abduction data. All four titles are available from most good bookshops and all the usual Internet book sites.
Nick Pope has a website, which can be accessed at www.nickpope.net