Welcome to the joint December 2004 and January 2005 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
The Naked Scientists
The Naked Scientists Online Radio Show is an initiative based at the University of Cambridge and funded in part by the Royal Society. It aims to bring cutting edge science, often involving controversial and high profile subjects, to a wide audience, and do so in an entertaining way. I have been asked to take part on 19 December and to discuss the Ministry of Defence UFO project and the UFO sightings and alien abduction reports more generally. Check out www.thenakedscientists.com for further details. Because of the pressure of other commitments I do less talks for UFO groups than used to be the case. But I think it is hugely important for people involved in ufology to do what they can to take the subject to a wider audience, and especially to engage with the world of science. In the last year I have debated the UFO subject at the Dana Centre, part of the Science Museum in London, and have appeared at the Cheltenham Festival of Science. Next March I shall be lecturing at the Newcastle Science Festival. I shall keep readers posted on these appearances.
Ghosts, Orbs and the MOD
The MOD house magazine Focus has run another article on ghosts, reflecting the vast number of military bases that are alleged to be haunted. I first heard of some of these accounts whilst running the UFO project, but active investigation was outside my remit. Devonport Naval Base is the latest location to be studied, with a team from the Society of Metaphysicians based at Brunel University investigating the site, where naval ratings and security guards have been frequently scared by ghostly apparitions and related phenomena. Leading the study was psychic Goldy Bromley, whose team brought motion detectors, night vision cameras, laser thermometers and sound detection equipment. They also brought dowsing rods and toys for the spirits of children believed to haunt the base. Goldy Bromley subsequently claimed that some form of communication with spirits had taken place. As some of the ghosts are believed to be spirits of French soldiers from the Napoleonic era, the investigators hummed the French national anthem. It is claimed that this led to the appearance of orbs that were recorded on the night vision cameras. Similar balls of light have often been reported on skywatches and in areas closely associated with UFO sightings, such as Rendlesham Forest. The ghostbusters were accompanied by Naval personnel, and a report is being drawn up. I will keep readers posted on developments.
Ghosts on the London Underground
Still on the subject of ghosts, the London Underground is another place where numerous ghosts have been seen. A new television series will attempt to draw together ghostly experiences witnessed by staff and passengers alike. Check out www.underlondonground.co.uk for details and if you have had a ghostly experience on the tube, email it to email@example.com and you could be on TV. And yes, the website and email addresses are correct. There is no ghost in the machine here.
The Holy Grail and The Priory of Sion
Codebreakers at Bletchley Park were called in to help decipher an inscription at a stately home in Staffordshire. Rumoured to be a clue as to the location of the Holy Grail, it is now believed that the message relates to the mysterious and heretical Priory of Sion. Work to decode the message was undertaken by Oliver and Sheila Lawn, an elderly couple who were based at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. The so-called Shugborough Code reads D OUOSVAVV M and Oliver Lawn said it was harder to break than the Enigma Code, because there were so few letters. But the inscription is underneath a carving of Nicolas Poussin, rumoured to have been a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion. The message is believed to read Jesus (As Deity) Defy, which would reflect the heretical belief of the sect that Jesus was not divine.
Robert Sarmast, an American explorer, claims that he has discovered the real location of the Lost City of Atlantis. Following clues in the writings of Plato, he led an expedition to the Mediterranean waters off the coast of Cyprus. He claims that sonar scans he took provide evidence of man made structures on a hill flooded in around 9000 BC. He believes these scans show traces of walls and paths, but admitted that no artefacts had been recovered, on the basis that they are buried deep under sediment. Readers may recall a claim earlier in the year that the remains of Atlantis had been found in Spain, in a salt marsh. These claims surface from time to time, but I will keep readers informed if anything substantive develops.
The Men Who Stare At Goats
This latest and marvellously named book by Jon Ronson deals with some of the more bizarre studies undertaken by the US military, and some of the strange tactics they have adopted. From PsyOps to Remote Viewing, this book manages to be informative, entertaining and disturbing in equal measures. When running the UFO project at the MOD I was occasionally approached by remote viewers offering to become psychic spies. Sadly, nobody claiming such abilities was ever able to demonstrate this practically, so nothing came of the offers. Ronson, however, lifts the lid on a far more elaborate regime in which the Americans, often under the command of Major General Albert Stubblebine III, experimented with the weird and the wonderful on a far greater scale. Is invisibility possible? Can people walk through walls? Can remote viewers spy on enemies of the state, or even on extraterrestrials? And is it possible, through the power of your mind, to kill an animal just by staring at it? This book is seriously weird and hugely fun.
Authors Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince are best known for books such as The Stargate Conspiracy and The Templar Revelation, the latter being one of the key sources for the Dan Brown classic The Da Vinci Code. Their latest book, Friendly Fire, is a fascinating study of how the Second World War Allies manipulated and misled each other in their attempts to gain advantage not just against the Germans and the Japanese, but against each other. Deception, lies, intrigue, espionage and assassination abound, and readers will never view wartime leaders such as Churchill and Roosevelt in the same way again. There are fresh insights into the mystery of Rudolph Hess and his bizarre flight to Scotland, together with revelations concerning Soviet acquisition of atomic technology, and the roots of the Cold War. The book was co-written with the late Stephen Prior and incorporates additional historical research by military historian Robert Brydon. Check out www.mainstreampublishing.com for further details of this book. Fascinating and disturbing, this book will change your view about some of the key events that shaped the world in which we live.
Finally, I would like to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In particular, my thoughts are with the brave men and women currently serving their country in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations. You may be far from home, but you are still in our thoughts. Stay safe.
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