Welcome to the October 2004 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Crop Circle Advertisement
Yet another commercial company has used crop circle imagery in a high profile advertising campaign, showing once again how firmly embedded the phenomenon is in the public consciousness. Mobile telephone operator O2 is the latest in a long line of companies who have used crop circles in an advertisement. They are unlikely to be the last.
Peter Robbins and Larry Warren
Peter Robbins and Larry Warren have been giving a series of talks on the so called Rendlesham Forest incident, arguably the most famous UFO case in the world aside from Roswell. Larry was based at Bentwaters/Woodbridge at the time of the incident, and Peter (who works closely with abduction researcher Budd Hopkins) is one of the leading experts on this case. They are the authors of the book Left At East Gate. Larry currently lives in Liverpool, but Peter, a native New Yorker, is making a rare but welcome trip to the UK. I shall be spending some time with him, discussing the case and visiting the site of the incident.
It is hard to believe it is now just over a year since Graham Birdsall died. His tragic and untimely death was a devastating blow for his family and friends, but also for ufology more generally. The subsequent closure of UFO Magazine was also a sad loss for ufology. Several people have worked tirelessly to produce internet magazines that attempt to fill the gap left by UFO Magazine. While these efforts are to be commended, UFO Magazine will be a hard act to follow.
It is also hard to believe that Lord Hill-Norton, another hero of ufology, is no longer with us. He died in May and a memorial service was held on 23 September. Sadly, I was unable to attend, because of an overseas work commitment.
Ultimate Sci-Fi Top 10
Granada TV made three programmes for Sky One, looking at popular science fiction. I took part in these programmes (looking specifically at aliens, robots and science fiction moments) which were screened on 13, 20 and 27 September, but which have already been repeated extensively. There is a long running debate over the influence of sci-fi on ufology, with sceptics claiming that sci-fi has influenced and perhaps in some cases inspired some UFO reports. Ufologists point out that the situation is equally true in reverse, with series like The X-Files, Taken and Dark Skies incorporating ufological motifs. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that Steven Spielberg used Dr J Allen Hynek, the Project Blue Book scientific consultant, as a consultant on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. An interesting counterargument to the assertion that UFO witnesses are consciously or subconsciously basing their accounts on things they have picked up from science fiction can be found by looking at the UFO and abduction literature. The carrying of laser weaponry (a common sci-fi motif) is almost completely absent from witness reports.
Questing Conference 2004
As reported last month, Andrew Collins is putting the finishing touches to the arrangements for Questcon04, the latest in a long line of successful conferences focusing on alternative history, forbidden archaeology and hidden teachings. Speakers include Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince talking about the Priory of Sion, Alan Alford discussing secret chambers in the Great Pyramid, Robert Feather speaking about the Spear of Destiny and Andrew Collins giving a presentation on the True Grail. Graham Phillips will attend if his other commitments permit. The conference is being held on Saturday 6 November at Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, Camden, London. The conference is being sponsored by Nexus Magazine. Check out www.questingconference.com for more details.
The Da Vinci Code
I have finally got around to reading The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. The book is hugely enjoyable and will be appreciated by anybody with an interest in alternative religious history. The Templars, the Priory of Sion and Mary Magdalene all feature, and indeed The Templar Revelation by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince is one of the books that clearly inspired Dan Brown, who mentions it specifically in the text, along with Holy Blood, Holy Grail, another key source. Highly recommended.
The X-Conference, organised this Spring by Stephen Bassett, was undoubtedly the most important UFO conference of the year. Plans for a second such event, in 2005, are currently on hold, pending underwriting support.
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