Welcome to the February 2004 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Timewatch UFO Documentary
The year got off to an interesting start so far as television coverage of the UFO phenomenon was concerned, when the BBC2 Timewatch series ran a documentary on the UFO phenomenon on January 9. As one would expect from Timewatch, the programme was more of a social history of ufology in the UK, as opposed to an investigation of the phenomenon itself. The emphasis was on military and police witnesses, social and cultural historians and astronomers, as opposed to ufologists. I explained something of how the Ministry of Defence viewed the UFO phenomenon, and some of the more interesting cases investigated by the Department. The Times said in their review of the programme that I expressed what they called open-minded scepticism. The documentary got mixed reviews from ufologists. The good news is that there is more to come. Channel Five have commissioned a documentary that will also focus on the UFO phenomenon in the UK, with the emphasis on the Ministry of Defence UFO project, and sightings where the witnesses are military personnel. Though no transmission date has yet been announced, the programme is expected to be screened shortly.
UFO Invasion at Rendlesham
The Sci-Fi Channel documentary on the Rendlesham Forest incident also got a couple of screenings in the UK, in January. The programme was shown on Sky One and Sky One Mix. Unfortunately, the show was edited down from the full two hours, to a shorter one hour version. This is a shame, because UK viewers will not have seen as much of the new material as those inAmerica. UK consultant Georgina Bruni was a central figure in the programme, and her efforts led to a number of major scoops for the programme makers, including the first television interviews given by General Gordon Williams, who was in overall command of Bentwaters and Woodbridgeat the time of the incident. Another scoop was the appearance for the first time of Monroe Nevels, who was with the team that Charles Halt led into the forest, and who operated the Geiger counter used to measure the radioactivity at the landing site.
Those interested in current activities at Woodbridge Airfield will be interested to know that the consultation process concerning the planned multi million pound expansion of the base is now underway.
Chess, Psychics and the KGB
The 1972 chess matches between Bobby Fischer and world champion Boris Spassky were as much about the Cold War as chess. Bobby Fischer Goes to War is the title of a new book about this historic conflict. The book is written by David Edmonds and John Eidinow and published by Faber & Faber. One fascinating part of the book tells how the Soviets thought their champion was the victim of dirty tricks, and brought in the KGB. One theory was that psychological warfare or parapsychological warfare was being used. Two top Soviet psychiatrists looked for evidence of anything, including psychic manipulation, that might explain the poor performance of Spassky. Much is known about US psychic research programmes such as Sun Streak, Grill Flame and Star Gate. Less is known about the Soviet programme, so this anecdote provides a revealing if brief insight into one task that Soviet parapsychologists undertook. For the record, Fischer won, and became world champion.
UFOs in Navy News
A UFO sighting witnessed by personnel from a number of Royal Navy ships has been featured in this column, UFO Magazine, The Sunday Times and Parliament. Now the hunt for further witnesses is underway, through the pages of official publication Navy News. An advertisement placed in the December 2003 issue sought additional witnesses to the incident, and promised that witness confidentiality would be respected. No additional information has emerged to date, but I will keep readers informed through this column, if this changes.
Alien Abduction Study
As mentioned previously in this column, psychologists at Goldsmiths College, University ofLondon, are carrying out a scientific study into the alien abduction. Witness confidentiality is guaranteed, and abductees can use a pseudonym if they wish. Abductees and experiencers wishing to take part should contact Julia Santomauro at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone her on 020 7919 7171, extension 4389.
US Government Plans For Alien Contact
The February 2004 issue of Popular Mechanics contains a fascinating article by Jim Wilson, detailing the action that he believes would be taken in the event of first contact with extraterrestrials. The article argues that the assumption would have to be made that any extraterrestrial craft would be nuclear powered, meaning that a Nuclear Emergency Search Team would need to be deployed. A potentially even more serious issue would be the question of biological hazard. The article suggests that if it is within their power to do so, the USgovernment would wish to isolate any extraterrestrial entities in the Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Center on Plum Island, a Biosafety Level 4 facility. This was the cover story, and is another example of the rising profile of ufology at the moment.
Cheltenham Festival of Science
I have been invited to the Cheltenham Festival of Science this June, to debate the nature of the UFO phenomenon with David Roberts, the online science editor of the BBC. The debate will take place on Friday June 11 and I will give further details nearer the time.
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