#: 118698 S10/Paranormal Issues 18-Jul-87 14:12:52 Sb: MUFON Conference (1/6) Fm: Sysop Ji

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#: 118698 S10/Paranormal Issues 18-Jul-87 14:12:52 Sb: MUFON Conference (1/6) Fm: Sysop Jim Speiser 72135,424 To: All The MUFON Symposium in Washington was billed as "The Woodstock of Ufology," bringing together some of the biggest names in the field, and in that respect, it didn't disappoint. In most other respects, however, it left a little to be desired. Some of the luminaries in attendance, which yours truly got to "Commune" with: Whitley Strieber, Budd Hopkins, Bill Moore, Stanton T. Friedman, Jamie Shandera, Gary Kinder, Peter Gersten, Charles Hickson (of Pascagoula fame), Kathy Davis (of Intruders fame), Dr. Michael Swords, Dr. David Jacobs, Walt Andrus, and organizer Dr. Bruce Maccabee (and oh, yes, this little bald-headed fellow named Klass.) What made it more enjoyable was seeing some of my friends there, such as Hal Starr and Marge Christenson of Arizona MUFON, Tracy Torme' (who is making quite a name for himself in the abduction field, and is doing some excellent work on the Travis Walton case), Tom Adams of Project Stigma, and ParaNet users Dale B. Wedge, Rick Dell'Aquila, and Clark Matthews. I spoke briefly with Whitley, asking him why, if he never had an interest in UFOs prior to his experience, his cousin would send him a book called "Science and the UFOs" just before his first remembered abduction. His answer was basically, "I can't explain it, its just one of those things." I can't tell if he's trying to look more honest by including information could lessen his case, or if her just really IS that honest. But one thing has become quite clear, thanks to an incident that occurred at the symposium: Whitley Strieber is mentally unbalanced. During a panel discussion with other "abductees," Strieber began reading from his polygraph transcript (which, it is a matter of record, he passed.) In the middle of it he turned to Phil Klass, who was standing near the stage, and began shouting the questions and answers at the top of his lungs, looking for all the world like he was going to become unglued. It was a very uncomfortable moment. Most people agree with me that Strieber is not firing on all thrusters, including...well, I won't name names. But the question arises as to whether he wrote "Communion" because he's bats, or he became bats because of what happened to him. I think it was the latter. Studies show that if the abduction phenomenon is real, it is happening to thousands of people (!). So far the case for abductions has been hung on the victims being sane, sober individuals, but the odds are that not ALL of them will be completely stable. It is possible that Strieber was a man who was on the edge to begin with, and his present quirkiness (there are MANY other incidents, which I am not at liberty to divulge) is a consequence of having undergone a profoundly mind-shattering experience. I've met other abductees, and I sometimes wonder how any of them can deal with ordinary everyday reality, go on talk shows and speak calmly, etc. I would be doing the paper dolls routine in a rubber room somewhere. A couple of Klassy stories: After the first presentation (an overview of the past 40 years by David Jacobs), I stepped outside for a cigarette and was joined by the arch-debunker himself, who is nearly a chain-smoker. We started talking about MJ-12, and he gave me his line about how people who distribute phony documents should go to jail. I put him on the spot, asking him if that meant that I should go to jail, having made the MJ-12 documents available to more people than anyone (through ParaNet and CompuServe). Without directly answering, he said that Moore and Shandera should stand trial if it can be shown they had any way of knowing the documents were fake (assuming they ARE fake, of course.) By this time, we were surrounded by 30 or so people, and a man stepped forward and asked Klass of he had ever met Shandera. Klass said no, he hadn't, whereupon the man stepped aside and there stood Jamie Shandera, arms folded, ready to do battle. Klass ran and got his tape recorder and camera, and proceeded to interview Jamie for about a half hour, during which time both men became abusive -- "That's not a pertinent question! Why don't you ask me a pertinent question?!" "I WILL ask a question if you'll shut your big fat mouth!" When it was over, there were more people standing around the two men than were inside listening to the speaker. Several people recorded the conversation, and Hal Starr is currently running dupes of the tape in his production studio for distribution to a couple of dozen people. It was a classic, historic confrontation, which Bill Moore later dubbed "The Comic Opera." 18-Jul-87 14:13:57 Sb: MUFON Conference (4/6) Fm: Sysop Jim Speiser 72135,424 To: All Another Klassic: At a panel discussion on government documents, the focus of which was MJ-12, Moore related to an audience of about 200 that Jamie Shandera (pronounced SHAN-derray) had interviewed Steven Spielberg, who told him a fascinating story. Prior to the release of the move "E.T.," Ronald Reagan had requested a private screening in the White House. When it was over, Reagan walked over to Spielberg, clapped him on the shoulder and said, "My friend, there aren't six people in this room who know how true that movie is." From the back of the MUFON audience, a semi-audible voice said, "Carter was President." Shandera, who was sitting behind me, turned around and said, "What was that? Speak up!" Klass stood up dramatically, poised to strike a death blow, and said, "In 1978, Jimmy Carter was President of the...." Moore cut him off with "E.T. was released in 1982, Mr. Klass. You stand corrected....AGAIN!" The audience exploded with applause, and Klass sank slowly back to his seat, a defeated man -- for the moment, anyway. [Continued] #: 118702 S10/Paranormal Issues 18-Jul-87 14:14:27 Sb: MUFON Conference (5/6) Fm: Sysop Jim Speiser 72135,424 To: All As I said, the event was an overall disappointment in terms of actual information content. Most of the speakers were from the far corners of the earth, and spoke with heavy accents about sightings in their respective countries. We've had forty years of sightings, and most Ufologists are realizing that the data-gathering stage is practically over, at least as far as disks and lights in the sky are concerned. Its time to get on to the questions of who and why, and who else knows about it. That's why the panels on documents and abductions were so popular. There are movements afoot on several fronts to get the abduction ball really rolling. For instance, Peter Gersten has formed a group called Contact, with which he hopes to raise money to do in-depth investigations into abduction cases -with the ultimate goal of making actual, overt contact with the aliens. I had hoped to sit in on one of their meetings, but unfortunately, Gersten left the conference early and no meeting was held. And it was reported that Whitley Strieber has put up seed money to form another group with the same goal. Both gentlemen are very concerned with the fact that Budd Hopkins is absolutely swamped with letters from people around the world, desperately seeking hypnotic catharsis for their abduction experiences -- over 700 letters at last count! The frustration lies in the fact that one of them just might hold the key that unlocks the whole mystery, but there are maybe a dozen people in the entire world that have the expertise to bring it out. I foresee abduction regression clinics springing up around the country, with quack operator getting into it for a fast buck. (Can you see some Beverly Hills type..."Let's see, I have a 10:00 appointment at the hairdresser, at two I see my therapist, at four my abduction regressionist, then I get rolfed....") [Continued] #: 118703 S10/Paranormal Issues 18-Jul-87 14:14:47 Sb: MUFON Conference (6/6) Fm: Sysop Jim Speiser 72135,424 To: All The one thing that impressed me most of all about the symposium, and about the resurgence of Ufology's popularity in general, is the number of quite intelligent, articulate, and down-to-earth people who are starting to become interested. There are actually others like myself who are skeptics and disbelievers in other fields, but who recognize that this is a whole different ball game from spoon-bending and Creationism. A glance at the MUFON Board of Advisors shows that that body has more holders of Doctorates, percentage-wise, than CSICOP! True, there is still no shortage of kooks, cranks, quacks, and crooks, but the ratio is shifting noticeably. I think it is the most heartening sign of this whole, crazy summer. And what a crazy summer it is! Unlike its namesake, the Woodstock of Ufology promises to be only the beginning of a series of revelations, accusations, and perturbations, the end result of which is ANYONE's guess. There's only one thing we need right now, to really put the icing on the cake: a good, old-fashioned, jaw-dropping, jet-scrambling FLAP! Keep your eyes on the skies...... Jim


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