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.
I am very sorry to say that my good friend Budd Hopkins, a modern artist also famed for his research and investigation into the alien abduction mystery, has died, aged 80. He actually passed away on 21st August, but I was not able to include a tribute in earlier columns, as I had written and submitted them before I received the sad news. I last saw Budd In June, in the course of a business trip to New York, and it was clear that he was extremely ill. Check out nytimes.com to read the obituary published in the New York Times. Quite apart from being a polymath who was excellent company and interesting on a wide range of subjects, Budd made a major contribution to the study of the UFO enigma and the alien abduction mystery, the latter of which he studied in great detail, probably working with more abductees than any other person on the face of the planet. He was also responsible for bringing the late John Mack (Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and one of the few world renowned academic to have taken the alien abduction phenomenon seriously) to the subject and set up an organisation - The Intruders Foundation - to undertake serious research and investigation into the subject. Check out intrudersfoundation.org for further details.
Budd Hopkins, 1931 - 2011
Haunted Pubs, Inns & Hotels of Derbyshire
For those with an interest in ghosts, check out Haunted Pubs, Inns & Hotels of Derbyshire, by Jill Armitage. Inevitably, such a book will appeal most strongly to people who live in and around Derbyshire and are familiar with the locations concerned. However, in my experience, whatever one believes about ghosts, honing in on a particular area can be the best way of getting an accurate sense of what people see and experience, as opposed to cherry-picking sightings from all around the world. Packed with photos (modern and historical) that bring the stories to life, this fascinating and thought-provoking book is interesting and fun. While some of the stories are tragic, Armitage opens a window on the past and even for those not convinced by ghost stories, there's enough historical detail to make the book appeal to a wider audience. Check out amberley-books.com for more details, or order via Amazon and other similar sites.
White House Petition on Extraterrestrials
There has been considerable interest in a couple of petitions submitted to the White House as part of the "We the People" exercise, which was an attempt to see what issues the American public feel most strongly about and would like government to address. The wording of one called for the US Government to "formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race". It was one of the most popular petitions in the campaign and the UFO community is up in arms over what they saw as the dismissive response, which stated that there was no evidence to support the existence of alien life. Of course, there was zero possibility that a petition worded in such a way as to imply that the US Government was lying about UFOs would be taken seriously, but interestingly, in its discussion of astrobiology and SETI, the response actually suggested it was more likely than not that alien life existed - but said that it wasn't visiting us and that because of the distances involved, we'd probably never get to meet another civilisation.
2012 and the End of the World
We survived The Rapture, we survived Comet Elenin and we survived the asteroid known as YU55. The world didn't end, Earth wasn't hit and no comets or asteroids turned out to be alien spacecraft. That's what tends to happen with predictions like this. But now we can look ahead to The Big One: 21st December 2012. The speculation arises because this date (or 23rd December 2012 according to some calculations) marks the end of a long count period (i.e. a cycle) of the Mayan calendar – or more technically, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which was used by a number of central American cultures, most notably the Mayans. The thinking is that the end of the calendar equates to the end of time, i.e. the end of the world. However, there’s no evidence to suggest that the ancient Mayans thought this way. Very little survived the destruction of their civilisation and the truth of the matter is that little is known about these people’s beliefs. In any case, the world doesn't end just because your calendar does. When my calendar runs out, each year, I simply buy a new one! Various different conspiracy theories have evolved, suggesting what might happen. These include some cataclysm brought about by the return of a cosmic body dubbed Nibiru, or Planet X. Others believe a rapid polar shift or a reversal of the magnetic polarity of Earth will bring about the end of the world. Some people have predicted an alien invasion, while others believe that a 'false flag' alien invasion will be staged, with a view to establishing a New World Order. The New Age community takes a different view, believing that 2012 will see not the end of the world in a literal sense, but a shift in consciousness, or some other great spiritually transformative event. While this is a far more positive view than the doomsday prophesies, it is similarly unsupported by any scientific evidence. 2012 is now firmly embedded in popular culture. The Hollywood blockbuster 2012 put the issue in the public eye and NASA has gone so far as to place material in the Frequently Asked Questions section of their website, assuring people that the world will not end in 2012. Speculation and interest will doubtless increase as the date approaches. There is nothing new in the idea that the world will end on calendrically significant dates. Many Christians genuinely believed that the Apocalypse would take place in 1000. Nostradamus predicted that the world would end in 1999 and some people linked this with the Y2K problem, which was sometimes dubbed the millennium bug. If all this encourages people to take an interest in ancient cultures such as the Mayans, or if they use the date in some way to assess and improve their lives, this is a good thing. But if people try to use the date to spread fear, or to promote apocalyptic cults, this should be resisted. All previous predictions of the end of the world have proved to be false. Similarly, the world will not end in 2012.
I'm an Associate member of Spaceguard UK, a group set up to raise awareness of the danger posed to the Earth by comets and
asteroids, and to lobby for some official action. Films such as Deep Impact and Armageddon have done a lot to raise the profile
of this issue, but there is some deadly serious science behind the science fiction. For those who want further information, or who want to join this worthy organisation, check out their www.spaceguarduk.com website.
Facebook and Twitter
Finally, for regular readers of this column who want to follow my work more closely, feel free to follow me on Twitter where I post under the username @nickpopemod or on Facebook, where my official page is www.facebook.com/nickpopeofficial - please click "like" on this page if you want to follow my work more closely and stay up to date with developments.
Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope used to run the British Government's UFO Project and is now recognised as one of the world's leading experts on UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories.
Check out www.nickpope.net for more information about Nick.