Welcome to the May 2004 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Grolsch Lager, UFOs and Alien Abductions
Grolsch lager have launched a hilarious new advertisement centring around an alien abduction. The 60 second advert starts with a hillbilly fishing by a lake, at night. A huge UFO appears in the sky and a light comes down from it. Aliens are in the process of abducting the hillbilly when the narrator, dressed in a black suit, interrupts proceedings with the trademarked Grolsch word Schtop. He then lectures the aliens: Guys, why do you always abduct the first person you find? We have got a whole planet full of scientists, Nobel prizewinners ... supermodels. You know, if you took your time, you could really impress the folks back home. The hillbilly is briefly taken into the ship, but is quickly thrown back, scared but otherwise unharmed. The aliens then beam up a container full of Grolsch from a railway yard. As the ship moves away from the Earth, the advertisement ends with the aliens sitting around blowing into the tops of their open bottles, reproducing the famous musical tones from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The last alien messes up the tune, at which point they all break into laughter. I have been working with a company who are doing some tie-in publicity, including working out a list of UFO hotspots, and producing a booklet entitled How to be Abducted by Aliens. Articles appeared in The Sun, Daily Sport, Metro, The Scotsman and numerous local newspapers. It even got a mention in The Washington Times. Needless to say, the tone of all this has been light-hearted. Ufologists have for the most part seen the funny side. I know several abductees who have seen it, and all thought it was hilarious. It is a genuinely clever and funny advertisement, which may well win industry awards. It is also proof of how firmly UFO and alien abduction imagery is embedded in the popular culture.
I have recently flown back from Washington DC where I had been speaking at The X-Conference. This event took place on April 17 - 18 and was organised by political lobbyist Stephen Bassett, who once stood for Congress on the UFO issue. The aims of the conference were to raise political, media and public awareness on the UFO issue, and help facilitate disclosure on the UFO issue. I gave a lecture on the history of the UFO project run by the Ministry of Defence, and ran a workshop detailing the way in which I ran this project from 1991 to 1994. Other speakers included Jim Marrs, Stanton Friedman, Linda Moulton Howe, Richard Hoagland, Dr Steven Greer, Ann Druffel, Philip Corso Jr, Dr William Birnes, Dr Robert Wood and Ryan Wood, and Paola Harris. As I write, the extent of media coverage generated is not clear. Doubtless information on this, together with photographs and reviews will be put on the website over the next few weeks. Video tapes and DVDs are already available. Check out www.x-conference.com or details. Many attendees expressed the hope that The X-Conference will become an annual event. I am pleased to say that the next one is already being planned.
Military UFO Reports
I was recently interviewed on a British Forces Broadcasting Services radio station, and discussed in particular UFO incidents involving military witnesses. BFBS broadcasts to UK military personnel based in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands and other overseas locations. I always welcome the opportunity to discuss the UFO phenomenon with the military, and have often found out new cases and interesting information in this way.
Controversy continues over the plans for an authorised biography of former US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger. Two potential authors have already dropped out, and the sticking point seems to be the issue of access to 80 tonnes of archive material. Kissinger is reluctant to allow unrestricted access to any writer he does not know well. The book, if it ever gets written, will be eagerly awaited by historians and conspiracy theorists alike. I will keep readers posted.
Alien Abduction Study
This is probably the last call for any British abductees who want to take part in the scientific study into the alien abduction phenomenon being carried out by psychologists at Goldsmiths College, University of London. As mentioned previously in this column, this is the only such study ever to have been carried out in the UK. The project has been underway for some time now, but there may still be time for a few more people to get involved. 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.
Cheltenham Festival of Science UFO Debate
I have been asked to debate the UFO phenomenon with Dr David Whitehouse, the BBC News online science editor. This is another interesting example of how interest in UFOs is becoming more mainstream and how science, in particular, is taking an interest in the phenomenon. Regular readers of this column may recall that I debated the UFO phenomenon last year at the Dana Centre, a new venue at The Science Museum. The debate will take place at the Cheltenham Festival of Science on 11 June. The festival lasts from 9 to 13 June. Details of events and information on how to order tickets can be found at www.cheltenhamfestivals.co.uk
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