Fire in the Firmament: The Alien Deception Accelerates
By Paul and Phillip Collins
Collins brother’s new book is Invoking the Beyond: The Kantian Rift, Mythologized Menaces, and the Quest for the New Man (2020)
“Keep watching the skies!” So went the final line in the 1951 science fiction-horror film The Thing from Another World. This ominous admonition merits some credence, but not for the reasons presented in that classic of the silver screen. Clearly, a social engineering effort is unfolding in which the heavens play a very significant role. It began on February 4, 2023, when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin informed the American public that a U.S. fighter aircraft with the U.S. Northern Command had successfully carried out an order from President Joe Biden to shoot down a Chinese balloon believed to be engaged in surveillance of the activities (Capoot). While the Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted that the high-altitude balloon was a civilian weather airship that had simply blown off course, Austin contended that the craft was part of “an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States”. On that score, Austin was probably correct. Yet, the balloon had been transiting the skies above North America for quite some time before the United States military intervened. According to the BBC, the balloon “flew over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and through Canada before appearing over the city of Billings in Montana” (“Chinese spy balloon over US is weather device says Beijing”). Montana is of particular concern because, as the BBC correctly pointed out, the state is home to US nuclear silos. Still, the object was allowed to travel through the skies above North America for several days until it was finally destroyed. The BBC cited a U.S. defense official who asserted that the decision was made not to immediately shoot the balloon down because of concern over debris. The official also said that the intelligence collected by the balloon would be of, in the words of the BBC, “limited use”. Needless to say, these are extremely flimsy explanations. Why was this intrusion into North American airspace allowed to occur? There are, doubtless, many different reasons held by covert political circles, none of which they are eager to share with the American people. One possible reason, however, may be to condition people to believe that their safety and security is imperiled by things traversing the firmament above them.
The Chinese balloon incident of 2023 did more than just further sour East-West diplomatic relations. A deeper purpose was served. It seeded the public mind with an airborne threat narrative. The stage seemed to be set for the introduction of a UFO menace. One individual who witnessed the Chinese balloon, a Billings office worker named Chase Doak, even conflated the object with a UFO. Its appearance in the sky prompted him to go to his home to retrieve a better camera. Doak told the press: “I thought maybe it was a legitimate UFO. So I wanted to make sure I documented it and took as many photos as I could”. The public mind seemed to be prepared for a time when terrors in the skies would be attributed to something otherworldly, not Chinese.
From there, the reports of impending aerial doom began to cascade. On February 9, a second object was seen over Alaska, prompting the military to send two F-35 fighter jets into the skies to identify it (“4 flying objects have been shot down over North America: Timeline of key moments”). On February 10, two F-22s, acting on orders from President Biden, intercepted and shot down the object, which was described by a U.S. official as a “cylindrical and silver-ish gray” craft with no apparent propulsion system. That very same day, a third object was detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command high over Alaska. Two U.S F-22 aircraft watched the object until it entered Canadian airspace. At that point, Canadian aircraft joined the chase. On Feb 11, after conferring with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Biden issued yet another shootdown order. The craft, described as a “small, cylindrical object,” was brought down in central Yukon. On February 12, a fourth flying object was discovered in the skies above Lake Huron. Described as octagonal in shape and unmanned, the object is believed to have been detected by radar over Montana on February 11 and then picked up by radar again on February 12 over Wisconsin and Michigan. U.S. military aircraft shot the object down on February 12 as a cautionary measure.
The Associated Press described this series of events as “extraordinary air defense activity” and reported “that Pentagon officials believe has no peacetime precedent” (Long, Baldor, and Miller). A narrative was emerging that was characterized by unknown danger and fear. Extraterrestrials found their way into that narrative due in large part to the cryptic comments of a senior U.S. general named Glen VanHerck. When asked by the press if he was willing to rule out the possibility of the objects being extraterrestrial in origin, VanHerck replied, “I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything” (Stewart and Ali). VanHerck seemed to not want his audience to see the objects as benign. The general stated, “We’re calling them objects, not balloons, for a reason”. What was the reason for such statements? What sort of reaction was VanHerck attempting to get from his audience? More importantly, what kind of emotions was he trying to engender in those who heard his words? The words were meant to have certain psychological effect. The agenda held by VanHerck and those to whom he answers to is hard to discern. That being said, one thing is for certain: VanHerck’s statements to the press, laced as they are with what can only be described as weaponized ambiguity, indicates that there is an agenda behind all the air defense news. Perhaps that agenda can be discovered through an investigation that begins with VanHerck’s background.
According to VanHerck’s official United States Air Force (USAF) biography, he is current Commander of the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) (“General Glen D.VanHerck”). USNORTHCOM, the biography states, “conducts homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests”. The biography also describes NORAD as the entity that “conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America”. Obviously, VanHerck has a job in the military hierarchy that is considered to be very important. Of course, VanHerck did not land in that position overnight. Prior to his current job, the general had a series of assignments leading all the way back to January of 1988. VanHerck, the biography states, “has commanded at the squadron, group and twice at the wing level”. Among those command assignments was one that VanHerck held from February of 2014 to June of 2015 as commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Sixty-seven years prior to VanHerck taking command of the 509th Bomb Wing, the unit called the Roswell Army Air Field its home. While stationed in Roswell, the 509th Bomb Wing participated in a UFO deception effort that produced the infamous myth known today as the Roswell Incident.
The 509th Bomb Wing’s involvement in the Roswell affair began on July 8, 1947 with a curious media announcement that seems to have been written in such a way as to convince the public that the United States military was in possession of something otherworldly in nature (Hickman). UFO researcher Jim Hickman provides the details:
On July 8, 1947, a press release stating that the wreckage of a crashed disk had been recovered was issued by the Commander of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell, New Mexico, Col. William Blanchard. “RAAF CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION- No Details of Flying Disk are Revealed” “The many rumors regarding the flying disk became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disk through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County.”
“The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Major Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. “Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.” — Press release from Roswell Army Air Force Base, issued on July 8, 1947
As most of you know Roswell was the home of the 509th Bomb Group, and the Roswell UFO crash debris was initially taken to Roswell Army Air Field, and then flown to Ft. Worth, then on to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.
The 509th was an elite nuclear air wing, and at the time was the only nuclear air group in the world. On the morning of July 8, 1947, Colonel William Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bomb Group, issued the infamous press release stating that the wreckage of mankind’s first captured “flying disk” (UFO) had been recovered.
Then, in a move that seemed to be meant to engender cognitive dissonance in the public, the military abruptly changed its tune. Hickman writes: “Hours later the first press release was rescinded and the second press release stated that the 509th Bomb Group had mistakenly identified a weather balloon as wreckage of a flying saucer”. To support the new story, a picture of the 509th’s intelligence officer, Jesse Marcel, appeared in the Fort Worth – Star Telegram showing him crouched down in an office holding high-altitude weather balloon debris allegedly found at the crash site.
The story seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Would the 509th be so incompetent and amateurish that they would commit such a major misidentification? Is there really any resemblance between a flying disc and a weather balloon that would cause an experienced and capable unit to conflate the two? The two press releases put together were obviously a manipulation. That manipulation would later lead to the creation of two diametrically opposed camps: extremely credulous people who believed in the extraterrestrial interpretation of the event and the pathological skeptics who bought the government’s deficient explanation wholesale. Throughout the history of the UFO phenomenon, both of these camps have been equally used and controlled. There is, of course, an excluded middle: the assertion that the wreckage discovered in Roswell was the product of advanced R&D, but was still very much terrestrial in origin.
In 1978, Jesse Marcel, Sr. the intelligence officer with the 509th, resurfaced to tell a story that, in the words of one prominent UFO researcher, “had a major impact on ufology” (Dolan 163). Marcel recounted his version of the Roswell Incident to nuclear physicist and professional Ufologist Stanton T. Friedman. Researcher Richard M. Dolan provides a summary of Marcel’s account:
During their first meeting, Marcel described to Friedman what has since become known as the Roswell Incident. As an intelligence officer at the 509th Bomber Unit at Roswell Army Air Field, Marcel was dispatched to retrieve wreckage from a flying disc. While he did not see any bodies, he was astounded by the debris, which included foil-like material of incredible toughness, equally strong I-beams that looked flimsy but could not be bent or broken, and which had strange hieroglyphic-like writing on them. The fragments were transported to Roswell Army Air Field, then to Fort Worth, Texas, then to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, for analysis. While at Fort Worth, said Marcel, he had to lie to the press and “told them we were recovering a downed weather balloon.” He was “certain” the object was not a balloon, nor any type of aircraft or rocket. (163)
Friedman was allegedly skeptical of Marcel’s account until another UFO researcher, William Moore, discovered the July 1947 press release asserting that the 509th had recovered the wreckage of a flying disc and the subsequent press release stating that the object was, in fact, a weather balloon that had been misidentified (163). Marcel’s account, according to Dolan, would eventually transform the Roswell Incident into “the dominant issue in UFO research, and then a world icon and symbol for the UFO cover-up” (163-4). Roswell owes much of its popularity in Ufological circles to Friedman and Moore. Friedman died in 2019 and Moore has all but disappeared from UFO research. While they were active, however, the two catapulted Roswell into the spotlight, asserting that it was proof positive of the U.S. government concealing evidence of extraterrestrial visitation (Vallee 27). Jacque Vallee elaborates:
In numerous lectures and media appearances around the United States, UFO researchers like Bill Moore and lecturer Stanton Friedman have used the Roswell case as a basis for suggesting that the U.S. government knew about UFOs and had captured hardware as well as dead and even live aliens. Stanton Friedman, in particular, has made his position very clear: flying saucers, he says, are ”somebody else’s spacecraft.” (27)
The problem is that Marcel’s account, which is a centerpiece of the Roswell story, does not have any real extraterrestrial elements to it. Marcel never mentioned aliens, living or dead, in his version of events. The debris he described to Friedman is undeniably strange and may find its origin in advanced R&D. That does not mean, however, that creatures from another world manufactured it. Friedman and his research partner Moore are largely responsible for the extraterrestrial interpretation of Marcel’s account. A deep dive into the background of those two researchers, therefore, might help one understand better Roswell’s transformation into the holy grail of the UFO community.
Friedman was not always a UFO researcher. Prior to reaching celebrity status in the UFO community, the nuclear physicist’s professional life was quite different. For 14 years, he put his skills in the realm of physics to work for companies such as General Electric, General Motors, Westinghouse, TRW System, Aerojet General Nucleonics, and McDonnell Douglas (Friedman, Flying Saucers and Science: A Scientist Investigates the Mysteries of UFOs 177). In his semi-autobiographical work, Flying Saucers and Science: A Scientist Investigates the Mysteries of UFOs, Friedman states that while employed by these companies, he worked on advanced classified programs that included nuclear aircraft, fission and fusion rockets, and compact nuclear powerplants that would be used in space (177). All of the companies that Friedman worked for during his pre-Ufology days were either defense contractors or closely linked to the defense industry. Much of Friedman’s work for those companies had application in the realm of defense. Friedman’s strong connections to several different defense contractors is significant because of the crucial role the arms industry plays in the American deep state. The American deep state has been described as “a hybrid creature that operates along a New York to Washington axis” (Giraldi). According to former CIA intelligence officer and American columnist Philip Giraldi, defense contractors are part of an American deep state that also claims banksters and lobbyists as participants. Giraldi asserts that Washington elites turn to this power structure whenever they need to finance themselves. He also contends that defense contractors finance “many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide deep state ‘intellectual’ credibility”. Defense contractors, like many other deep state entities, experienced their apotheosis in 2001 when the 9/11 attacks took place (Crowley). Politico senior foreign affairs correspondent Michael Crowley writes: “The 9/11 attacks triggered the rapid growth of an opaque security and intelligence machine often unaccountable to the civilian legal system” (ibid).
Was Friedman a deep state actor? The assertion is not without its support. The tie that binds Friedman to clandestine political power may be globalism. Many deep state actors and institutions possess a globalist orientation and globalism played a significant part in Friedman’s UFO rhetoric. In a 1976 interview, Friedman stated:
As soon as it becomes obvious to the people on the planet and widely accepted that flying saucers are real and from off the earth, there’s going to be a push for a view of man as “earthlings”… Instead of “I’m an American or Russian or Chinese. I’m an earthling.” There is no government that wants its citizens to owe their primary allegiance to the planet as opposed to the country. Nobody wants to give up their power. And, yet all of these jokes about “Take me to your leader”…
That’s wishful thinking. What’s funny about those is that there is no leader to be taken to. There’s nobody that speaks for planet earth. So, there are enormous political problems with anybody saying, ‘Yes, there’s somebody out there and he’s coming here and he doesn’t want to talk to me as a representative of the planet.’ How do we choose who speaks for the planet? I don’t know. (“Who Speaks For Planet Earth? Please Discuss!”)
Implicit in Friedman’s final rhetorical question is the contention that the present nation-state system is hopelessly inadequate for dealing with the inevitability of alien contact. The alleged obsolescence of the nation-state system is a consistently reiterated theme within the Ufological circles frequented by Friedman. One of Friedman’s friends and associates in the realm of Ufology was an enigmatic figure named John B. Alexander. A photo of Alexander with Friedman can be found in “UFO/Phenomenology Interests” section of Alexander’s official website (John B. Alexander, Ph.D.). A retired United States Army colonel and former Green Beret, Alexander is a stranger to neither Ufology nor controversy. While he is regarded by some to be an authority on UFOs, it is an honor that is constantly called into question by many researchers who rightly call attention to the man’s deep involvement in the military and the Intelligence Community. Suspicion is also raised by Alexander’s association with one-world political circles. Alexander has been involved with globalist enclaves like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). It was Alexander’s expertise in the realm of non-lethal warfare that appears to have drawn him into the CFR’s fold. In the biography at Alexander’s website, one reads the following: “As a member of the first Council on Foreign Relations non-lethal warfare study, he was instrumental in influencing the report that is credited with causing the Department of Defense to create a formal Non-Lethal Weapons Policy in July 1996” (ibid). Alexander chronically articulates a pervasive derision for the nation-state system in his work. An April 2006 Joint Special Operations University report entitled The Changing Nature of Warfare, the Factors Mediating Future Conflict, and Implications for SOF is illustrative of this derision.
In the report, Alexander identifies the nation-state as one of several “sacred cows” that he has “gored” (Alexander 1). He then describes the nation-state as “a failing concept with limited utility and great liability” (1). Later, Alexander states that “the nation-state as primary building block of geopolitical relations is questionable…” (11). He proceeds to present the tired argument that information and communications technology has somehow robbed the nation-state model of its relevance. Alexander writes: “While it has been a useful construct for the past two centuries or more, new relationships have arisen that suggest that the concept of primacy of the nation-state is failing. Advances in information and communications technology are accelerating this process” (11). Like most globalists, Alexander fails to explain how bringing Internet access to remote areas such as Tristan da Cunha necessitates the dismantling of borders and the abandonment patriotic sentiments. Nevertheless, Alexander parrots this non sequitur along with several other logical fallacies in support of his globalist contention. Alexander argues:
The assumption of the continued supremacy of the nation-state as the primary building block of macro-societal groupings is flawed. While nations will remain the macro-organization of choice in the near future, social restructuring based on beliefs, ethnicity, and other interpersonal relationships will increase.
Concomitantly, geographic boundaries will decline in significance as the primary contextual factor for social and business interactions. This notion will not be popular with politicians or academicians as several centuries of history supports and has solidified the nation-state model. Even considering new large-scale social orders will seem illogical and frightening to conventional thinkers. They have little experience outside the nation-state construct and see no viable alternative model under which to operate. Several factors will dramatically alter the global social structure tapestry. These include continued devolution of old states, globalization of economic interests, continued widespread immigration, and formation of social groups based on common ideology that is ubiquitously communicated around the world. Ascendances of powerful groups that are not geographically defined have already begun to alter large-scale social interactions. (12)
While Alexander does not view the end of the nation-state system as an imminent development, he believes that transnational commonalities will divorce people from the geographic confines of nation-states and aggregate them into larger social groupings. He writes:
The role of the nation-state is also changing, though it will remain the preeminent organizational structure of choice in the near term. However, large-scale social groupings of the future are more likely to be established by common beliefs and values, economic considerations and alliances, and ethnicity, than they are tied to geography. (43)
Friedman echoed such sentiments, invoking alien visitation as the ultimate rationale for dismantling the nation-state system. One begins to wonder if Alexander and others from the world of clandestine politics are responsible for Friedman’s strange blend of Ufology and globalism. Whatever the case may be, Friedman’s ties to the defense industry, his globalist worldview, and his association with Alexander are all causes for concern. These problematic portions of Friedman’s background may eventually redefine his place in history, especially as the public learns more about the degree to which the UFO phenomenon has been manipulated by covert forces.
Another reason to suspect that Friedman’s motives were less than pure is the attempt he made to cover for William Moore. In addition to being Friedman’s research partner, Moore was also an admitted disinformation agent (Vallee 47). This ugly truth began to rear its head when researcher Lee Graham recounted an exchange he had with Moore. Author Jacques Vallee shares the details:
Among these rumors was the accusation made by researcher Lee Graham, who stated that Bill Moore had approached him “in an intelligence capacity” and had indicated that he worked for the government for the purpose of releasing sensitive UFO information to the public.
Graham also claimed that Moore had shown him a DIS (Defense Investigation Service) badge. (47)
Lee’s account and other accusations prompted Moore to attempt to explain his dubious connections away at a July 1989 Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) conference held in Las Vegas (46). Moore’s time at the podium seemed to only make his guilt more obvious. Vallee elaborates:
In a confused and embarrassing presentation before the MUFON Conference, Bill Moore indeed confessed that he had willingly allowed himself to be used by various people claiming to act on behalf of Air Force Intelligence and that he had knowingly disseminated disinformation, although he had never been “on the payroll.” This is a mere play on words, of course. Not being on the payroll does not mean that he was not paid in cash or through other means. Writing to the editor of the excellent magazine Caveat Emptor (P.O. Box 4533, Metuchen, NJ 08840) in the summer of 1990, researcher Robert Hasting was still calling Moore “an unpaid government informant.” (My emphasis).
Moore gave a weak excuse for his actions, claiming that he acted in a heroic private effort to infiltrate and ultimately expose the operation. At the end of this rambling speech, Moore refused to take any questions and left the auditorium through a side door, making a quick getaway. (47, italics in original)
In 1996, Friedman attempted to rehabilitate Moore’s reputation in the UFO community by putting a bizarre spin on Graham’s encounter with Moore. Friedman attempted to portray Moore as a prankster and a joker. According to Friedman, Moore “was not in the military and does not work for the government but has a fondness for playing games” (Friedman, Top Secret/Majic: Operation Majestic-12 and the United States Government’s UFO Cover-Up 57). These “games,” asserted Friedman, included displaying a benign MUFON identification card to Graham and subsequently making a wild claim. Friedman writes: “As a joke, Bill once pulled out a MUFON identification card, flashed it at Lee, and indicated that he was working for the government. Lee bought it” (57).
Commenting on Friedman’s strange apologia for Moore, deceased researcher Jim Keith states:
This sidesteps the alleged impersonation of a government official, Graham’s memory of a DIS badge, not a MUFON card, the fact that Moore admitted to being a government agent, and the bottom line that the joke is unfunny. One wonders why Friedman would go out if his way to disclaim the government connection of an admitted government collaborator. (289)
Keith raises an important question. Why did Friedman wish for Moore’s government ties to remain concealed? A deep dive into Moore’s background reveals some of what Friedman might have been attempting to hide. In 1980, Moore co-authored one of the first books over Roswell, The Roswell Incident. His writing partner on The Roswell Incident was Charles Berlitz. An understated part of Berlitz’s life is his intelligence background. During the Second World War, Berlitz served with the Army counterintelligence corps (McLellan). The majority of Berlitz’s 13 years of active duty in the U.S. Army was spent in intelligence (ibid). Did Berlitz’s intelligence work continue when he entered the Ufology field? One has to entertain the possibility that the team of Berlitz and Moore served as the means by which covert political forces elevated the Roswell case to the place of importance it holds within today’s UFO community and, arguably, the culture at large.
If Moore was not serving unseen masters in the American deep state when he and Berlitz penned The Roswell Incident, then he most certainly was after a series of encounters with a mysterious colonel who operated under the code name “Falcon.” Moore first came into contact with Falcon in 1980 while he was on a tour promoting The Roswell Incident (Bishop 58). The relationship was touched off by a cryptic phone call that Moore received after a radio interview on WOW, an Omaha, Nebraska station (58). Author Greg Bishop writes:
After a radio interview (at station WOW, no less) in Omaha, Nebraska, a secretary stopped him in the lobby and said that there was a call for him. The voice on the other end identified himself as a colonel at nearby Ofutt Air Force Base and then said, “We think you’re the only one we’ve heard that seems to know what he’s talking about.” The colonel asked if Moore could meet for coffee and a chat. (58-9)
Busy with his book tour, Moore told the unidentified colonel that he would contact him at a later date and took down his phone number (59). The mysterious colonel proved to be persistent, contacting Moore after another radio interview. Bishop contends that this second telephone encounter led to the establishment of a meeting time and place. Bishop states:
On the return trip, after another interview at Albuquerque’s KOB radio, Moore was again requested at the switchboard. He picked up the phone and identified himself. “We think you’re the only one we’ve heard that seems to know what he’s talking about.” This got Moore’s attention, and this time he had a couple of days open. A meeting was set up at a local restaurant. (59)
During his first meeting with the mysterious colonel, Moore received a document describing a “project called ‘Silver Sky,’ which appeared to have something to do with Air Force UFO investigations and reports back to the Pentagon regarding sightings and encounters” (61). Bishop claims that Moore examined the document and determined that it was a fake (63). Moore had a second meeting with the colonel in late October of 1980 (63). This time, the colonel was not alone. Bishop elaborates:
In yet another Albuquerque eatery, they sat down with an AFOSI [Air Force Office of Special Investigations] agent whom Moore had not seen before. The man was introduced as Special Agent Richard Doty from Kirtland AFB. (63)
After Moore told Doty and the colonel that the “Silver Sky” document was a fake, he was informed by the colonel that the document was a test to determine if the Ufologist could identify fraudulent documents (63-4). Moore had apparently passed the test. A deal was placed before Moore by the colonel (64). Author Greg Bishop shares the details of that deal:
The meat of the deal was finally laid on the table: Moore would keep an eye on selected UFO researchers and report on their opinions and feelings about rumors and cases making rounds in their small community. The Falcon also revealed that he held a high position in the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is basically the military’s very own CIA. Elaborating on the offer from the previous meeting, he said that he represented a group of highly placed people who were unhappy with the secrecy surrounding the UFO subject, and wanted someone they could trust in order to release information to the public in a controlled way. (64)
According to Bishop, Moore agreed to the conditions of the deal and Richard Doty became “his main counterintel contact” (64). While Moore may have initially agreed to simply act as a spy for Falcon, his role soon became more nefarious in nature. Falcon and Doty used Moore to disseminate disinformation within the UFO research community. Many Ufologists took the bait and some of the most outrageous beliefs held by UFO true believers grew out of this campaign. None of the known participants in the endeavor deny that they intentionally spread lies. Moore, of course, made his confession at the 1989 MUFON conference in Las Vegas. Doty also admitted to his involvement in the scheme. In a letter to Jim Moseley that appeared in the July 19, 2000 issue of Saucer Smear, Doty flatly states: “Moore was used to provide disinformation to Ufologists” (“Missives from the Masses.”). He further writes: “During my OSI days, I did perform disinformation operations against many different targets, but everything I did was sanctioned by our Government. I never did anything as a maverick” (ibid). Doty’s letter to Moseley seems to demonstrate that the mask, at least to some degree, has come off. It is interesting to note, however, that even after confessing to muddying the informational waters with a tremendous of disinformation, Doty still wants the public to believe many of the stories about Roswell that were, in all likelihood, circulated by disinformation agents like him. In his letter to Moseley, Doty also writes the following:
“I don’t have the beliefs that some might think. The truth is this: Two alien spacecrafts crashed in the desert of New Mexico in the summer of 1947. Our Government recovered five bodies and one live alien. That alien lived until 1952. The recovered spacecrafts were transported to Wright-Patterson for examination and then on to several secret locations. That is it. To the best of my knowledge [sic] we have not been visited since. We don’t have any UFOs at Area 51. We might still have some remnants of the crashed craft from 1947. The bodies were preserved but I have no knowledge as to their location” (ibid).
Clearly, many deep state actors and institutions wish for the Roswell legend to endure. Perhaps it is the foundation for a UFO narrative that been in the preparation stages for several years now. The foundation, of course, cannot be lost or the entire collection of lies that makes all the manipulation possible comes crashing done. Doty understands this and has done his part to preserve the Roswell story.
Whatever became of Falcon? It is burning, nagging question for many who have chosen to dig into the convoluted topic of UFO disinformation agents. Falcon was, after all, regarded by many in the UFO community to be the ultimate UFO whistleblower until Moore’s damning confession at the 1989 MUFON conference ended that charade. As researcher Nick Redfern points out: “the Falcon could be seen as the ufological equivalent of the infamous “Deep Throat” of Watergate and All the President’s Men fame” (Redfern, “Taking a Look at Ufology’s ‘Deep Throat.’”). The faux UFO “deep throat’s” mask may have been ripped off in 2015, when researcher Greg Bishop claimed that he had been told by Moore that Falcon was a man named Harry Rositzke. Rositzke seems to have been one of those many covert operators that helped shape world history from the shadows. In the November 8, 2002 New York Times, one finds the following description of this enigmatic character: “An intelligence officer for nearly 30 years, first with the Office of Strategic Services and with its successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Rositzke found himself at the center of wartime and then cold war covert activity” (Lewis). Rositzke’s work in intelligence began with America’s entry into World War Two. At the time, he “had established himself as a promising scholar of linguistics, specializing in Anglo-Saxon”. The war, according to the New York Times, “carried him into strategic services, for which he was chief of military intelligence in London, Paris and Germany”. When the war ended, Rositzke found himself in the CIA.
Rositzke’s work with the agency does not appear to have been academic in nature. He seems to have been involved in the realm of covert operations, playing an active role in the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. The New York Times elaborates: “Mr. Rositzke was the first chief of the C.I.A.’s Soviet division. From 1952-54, he ran agents against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe out of Munich. From 1954-56, he was in charge of the operations schools in the agency’s training division”. In 1957, Rositzke became CIA station chief in New Delhi, “operating against Soviet, Chinese and Tibetan targets”. In 1967, a former State Department code clerk who defected to the Soviet Union named John Discoe Smith claimed that a 1955 attempt on Zhou Enlai resulted in Rositzke’s expulsion from India. Smith asserted that he had informed Indian officials about a 1955 bombing of a plane that had the Chinese delegation to the Bandung Nonaligned Conference as its occupants. The bombing, said Smith, was carried out by the CIA’s New Delhi station. The first premier of the People’s Republic of China was believed by the Agency to have been on board. That, of course, was not the case. India removed Rositzke in what the New York Times describes as “belated retaliation”.
The most significant portion of Rositzke’s background, however, may have emerged five years after his 1970 retirement. At that time, William Colby, then Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), released a report that revealed many of the ugly details of MHCHAOS, an illegal domestic espionage project conducted by the CIA. The report’s revelations included “a memorandum dated Aug. 15, 1967, by the leader of covert operations, Thomas H. Karamessines, suggesting that Mr. Rositzke and another official, Richard Ober, be put in charge of Chaos”. Did the Agency follow Karamessines’ recommendation? The New York Times states: “Whether this happened remains unclear”. If Rositzke did find himself at the head of MHCHAOS, then it places the UFO disinformation campaign carried out by Moore and Doty in a disturbing context. Rositzke’s recruitment and use of Moore to disseminate lies may have been a continuation of the CIA’s intrusion into America’s domestic sphere that started with MHCHAOS.
Moore’s confession at the 1989 MUFON conference in Las Vegas should have brought about the immediate death of the Roswell craze. After all, it was Moore and Berlitz who had caused the extraterrestrial interpretation of Roswell to gain significant traction with their 1980 book over the topic. Berlitz’s intelligence background always made anything he had to say on Roswell highly dubious. After Moore took the podium and gave his damning testimony, the writing team responsible for Roswell’s elevation to Ufology’s equivalent of the gold standard now looked more like suspects in a line-up than respectable researchers. One would think that the UFO community would have adopted a more skeptical position regarding the Roswell case after it was revealed that its first proponents were disinformation agents. That, however, was not to be the case. Eight years after Moore spilled the beans on what is arguably the worst scandal in the history of Ufology, another deep state actor came out of the shadows and shocked Roswell back to life with the release of The Day After Roswell. The author of that 1997 book was Phil Corso, a twenty-year Army Intelligence career man. In The Day After Roswell, Corso recounted his involvement in research and reverse engineering involving alleged alien artifacts and technology recovered from the Roswell crash. Corso attributed many of the technological breakthroughs and advancements of the modern era to borrowed alien technology. The following is a list of advancements Corso claimed were the product of reverse engineering:
1. Image intensifiers, which ultimately became “night vision”
2. Fiber optics
3. Supertenacity fibers
5. Molecular alignment metallic alloys
6. Integrated circuits and microminiaturization of logic boards
7. HARP (High Altitude Research Project)
8. Project Horizon (moon base)
9. Portable atomic generators (ion propulsion drive)
10. Irradiated food
11. “Third brain” guidance systems (EBE headbands)
12. Particle beams (“Star Wars” antimissile energy weapons)
13. Electromagnetic propulsion systems
14. Depleted uranium projectiles (Corso 113-14)
Corso’s “revelations” have become part of a long line of “smoking guns” that support the idea that humanity has been the recipient of the “technology of the gods.” Corso had taken the Roswell narrative to a whole new level, presenting the 1947 incident as a kind of Bethlehem for the modern world.
Corso’s version of events, however, seems to subtly discredit his contention that whatever crashed at Roswell was undeniably extraterrestrial in nature. Portions of his testimony point to a terrestrial origin for the crashed craft. Corso states that there were “military fears at first that the craft might have been an experimental Soviet weapon because it bore a resemblance to some of the German-designed aircraft that had made their appearance near the end of the war, especially the crescent-shaped Horton flying wing. What if the Soviets had developed their own version of the craft” (3)? This statement appears very early on in Corso’s book. A short time later, Corso once again draws his readers’ attention to the similarities between the crashed craft at Roswell and Nazi technology. He writes:
In those confusing hours after the discovery of the crashed Roswell alien craft, the army determined that in the absence of any other information it had to be an extraterrestrial. Worse, the fact that this craft and other flying saucers had been surveilling our defensive installations and even seemed to evidence a technology we’d seen evidenced by the Nazis caused the military to assume these flying saucers had hostile intentions and might have even interfered in human events during the war. (4)
The similarities between the crashed object at Roswell and Nazi technology undermines the extraterrestrial interpretation that Corso wanted his audience to embrace. Corso unintentionally pointed his finger at the scientific wing of postwar Nazi circles as the creators of the craft. He further supported that position when he claimed that the United States military consulted with Nazi scientists in order to better understand what had been found in the desert. Author Joseph Farrell elaborates:
Apparently this “Nazi resemblance” was so palpable that Corso, when he established the secret team he needed to “reverse engineer” and seed all this recovered “extraterrestrial” technology into American industry, that he went to his superior officer, General Trudeau, and asked him if he could bring Nazi “scientists with clearance who (sic) we can trust, Oberth and von Braun” into the project “for advice.” (245-46)
If the Roswell object was, in fact, extraterrestrial in origin, then consultation with Nazi scientist would be neither necessary nor profitable. If, however, the crashed craft was the product of Nazi R&D, then Corso’s recruitment of von Braun and Oberth makes perfect sense. Corso seemed to be attempting to cover up Nazi fingerprints that were all over the Roswell incident. This should come as little surprise, given the fact that he engaged in covert political activity that advanced corporatist interests and participated in deep state institutions that exhibited a Nazi or fascist orientation.
Corso acted as the delegate from the military Operations Coordinating Board to the CIA group responsible for organizing the 1954 coup in Guatemala (Russell 344). Two years later, Corso endeavored to reactivate 50 garrisons of East European paramilitary units that had survived in West Germany and were connected to the spy network of Reinhard Gehlen, the Nazi general who acted as the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. Dick Russell also states that “after the Kennedy assassination, Corso was among the first to spread rumors that Oswald was tied to a communist ring inside the CIA – and doubling as an informant for the FBI”.
In addition, Corso was a member of the Shickshinny Knights of Malta, an alleged fascist group which, according to Russell, possessed “an ‘Armed Services Committee’ that in 1963 read like a Who’s Who of retired military men at the extremist fringe” (343-44). The knights’ Armed Services Committee, says Russell, was staffed with several members of General Douglas MacArthur’s team, including General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur’s intelligence chief in Korea; Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, military attaché and psychological warfare director during World War II; Lieutenant General Pedro del Valle, an ITT president and leader of CIA operations involved in the 1973 Chilean coup; Lemmel Shepherd, a Marine general; and Sir Barry Domville, a British admiral who was imprisoned as a Nazi agent during World War II (344).
In spite of Corso’s suspicious background, he is regarded by many in the UFO community to be a whistleblower who provided them with the truth about Roswell. His book breathed new life into a myth that seems to only benefit the same deep state factions that have always been able to depend on the gullibility of UFO true believers.
Not every proponent of extraterrestrial interpretation of Roswell is a conscious agent of clandestine political forces. Well meaning but credulous people have also been used to promote the idea that an alien craft crashed in the New Mexico desert. Before his death in 2016, astronaut and Ufologist Edgar Mitchell was among the legion of unwitting disinformation agents promoting Roswell. In a 2015 interview with the Observer, Mitchell boldly proclaimed that what crashed at Roswell was a craft piloted by aliens who “were observing our activities at the White Sands proving ground and were monitoring our development” (Seemangal). Where did Mitchell’s curious beliefs come from? According to Skeptoid, Mitchell “says his views are based on things told to him by people who are in on the secrets” (Dunning). It never occurred to Mitchell that the “people who are in on the secrets” may have been using him.
One researcher has asserted that Mitchell “was effectively turned into an unwitting amplifier for the dissemination of the CIA’s ‘UFO Legend’” (Alder). According to Garrick Alder, Mitchell became a disinformation amplifier in 1976, when he approached United States Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman with questions regarding the 1947 Roswell incident. At the time, Mitchell was gradually coming to believe that the 1947 Roswell incident was part of a UFO cover-up. Mitchell appears to have been guilty of confirmation bias, a tendency to search for data that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs. It seemed to be the desire of the covert forces behind the UFO deception to exploit this flaw in Mitchell’s thinking. These forces, particularly those within the CIA, manipulated the flow of information in a way that caused Mitchell to firmly believe in extraterrestrials and a UFO cover-up.
Inman went to the CIA on Mitchell’s behalf and asked about the 1947 Roswell incident. In response, the CIA told Inman that his “authority was not sufficient to release the information” regarding what happened near the now famous New Mexico township in 1947. This meant that Inman had to return to Mitchell with a flat denial instead of even a superficial explanation. The CIA’s response was significant because it transformed Mitchell’s suspicions into steadfast convictions. Alder elaborates:
In the 1970s, the ‘official story’ of Roswell was still that an ordinary weather balloon had crash-landed in 1947. Crucially, the CIA did not instruct Admiral Inman to stick to this well-established cover-story, instead refusing to allow him to say anything at all. This deliberate omission allowed astronaut Edgar Mitchell to believe that an extraterrestrial spacecraft really had crashed near the New Mexico township.
The CIA’s refusal to disclose the facts regarding the 1947 Roswell incident was actually part of an effort to turn Mitchell into a mouthpiece for many lies that now permeate the UFO community. Unfortunately, in many ways, Mitchell was the perfect recruit for such a task. Alder writes:
From the point of view of the people behind the UFO disinformation, Dr Mitchell would have been an ideal unwitting spokesman. He was brought up in the vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico, during the 1930s. In July 1945, he witnessed an enormous and brilliant flash of light in the middle of the night, and eventually learned that he was one of the few civilians to have witnessed the top-secret Trinity Test at nearby Alamogordo. Aged 16, Edgar Mitchell was one of the thousands of people who read the Roswell Daily Record’s 8 July 1947 report that a flying saucer had crashed nearby. From an early age, he was receptive to claims about government cover-ups and about extraterrestrials. There is a certain twisted poetry in the way that the 1947 ‘Roswell Incident’ was used against the lunar pioneer, decades later. (ibid; italics in original)
During a December 17, 2018 telephone interview conducted by Garrick Alder, Inman claimed that he had wanted to tell Mitchell that what crashed at Roswell was a balloon tied to “Project Mogul,” a top secret project involving high-altitude balloons that was ran by the US Army Air Forces. Alder describes “Project Mogul” as an “exercise to learn more about nuclear weapons tests being conducted in the Soviet Union”. The project, according to Alder, “worked by measuring long-distance sound waves originating from nuclear explosions and propagated across the upper atmosphere”. Inman told Alder that the CIA became “very cross” with him when he expressed a desire to tell Mitchell that the wreckage at Roswell was the remains of a “Project Mogul” balloon. Inman alleged that the CIA informed him that he “had no authority to unilaterally release details of the balloon project”. It seems that Inman was attempting to portray himself as a hostage to the CIA who desperately wanted to tell Mitchell the truth. The “Project Mogul” explanation, however, seems to have been little more than another piece of disinformation.
The recovery and analysis of whatever crashed at Roswell did not conform to the procedures employed at other suspected “Project Mogul” crashes during the same period of time. A one-page FBI memorandum dated September 23, 1947 provides details surrounding an “[i]nstrument found on a farm near Danforth, Illinois” (Redfern, Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story 37). The circumstances surrounding the “Instrument” discovered in Danforth, Illinois and the Roswell incident are uncannily similar. Nick Redfern elaborates:
The similarities between the events at Roswell and those at Danforth are, at the very least, striking. For example, both “objects” were found on ranch land, both were initially suspected of being flying saucer debris, and in the same way that the Air Force tried to lay the Roswell controversy to rest with its Mogul hypothesis, the material evidence in the Danforth case was also suspected by some within the military of originating with a Mogul balloon array. (37; italics in original )
Redfern cites FBI documents that track the journey of the Danforth object from its resting place on ranch land to investigators in the United States Armed Services. FBI records, according to Redfern, state that “the strange find was handed over after its discovery to a Mrs. Whedon of the Army Engineers” (37). An examination of the Danforth object led Whedon to conclude that “the instrument had been used by the Air Forces on tests which were classified as Top Secret’” (37). This prompted Special Agent S.W. Reynolds of the FBI’s Liaison Section to contact the Air Force’s Intelligence Division for more information (37). The Air Force’s Intelligence Division told Reynolds that “Mrs. Whedon alluded that the instrument was used in ‘Operation Mogul’” (37). Thorough examinations of the object eventually revealed that it was a hoax (37). The “Instrument” was, in fact, “part of an old-style radio loudspeaker” (37). What is important, however, is that the object was initially believed to be debris from “Project Mogul” (37). Despite the suspicions that the object was related to “Project Mogul,” none of the intense secrecy, intimidation tactics, and cover stories employed in the Roswell incident were present in the Danforth case. Redfern writes:
The material was simply forwarded with the minimum of fuss to Wright Field for inspection, and it was Wright Field’s staff that concluded, despite the initial assertion from the Army Engineers, that the debris was unconnected to Mogul. (37-38)
If the Roswell debris was, in fact, related to Mogul, then one would expect to see all of the same benign procedures put into practice in the Danforth, Illinois case. Instead, Roswell witnesses reported a restricted crash site with a high degree of security and the issuance of death threats by military officials. If this was all attributable to “Cold War nerves,” then why were such extreme measures absent from the Danforth case, an event which fell within the same timeframe as the Roswell incident? After comparing the two events, Redfern states:
We have two incidents, one in New Mexico, one in Illinois, both on ranch land and both tied to flying saucers and to Mogul. In the first instance, the Air Force asserts that a Mogul balloon was most likely recovered, and in the second instance, Mogul was suspected by the military itself, no less. Yet the procedures undertaken to deal with the recovery and analysis of both objects were entirely different. More important, the overwhelming secrecy afforded the Roswell case at the Foster Ranch was absent in the incident at Illinois.
Had the two events occurred in different time frames – say, over the space of two or three years – it could be argued that the secrecy surrounding Mogul had been downgraded. Yet the Roswell and Danfort events took place only weeks apart. (38; italics in original)
Even though the Mogul explanation is seriously flawed, Inman wanted to present it to Mitchell as the definitive answer to the Roswell mystery. This raises an important question: was Bobby Ray Inman really a protagonist in the Edgar Mitchell case? It seems that he and the CIA only disagreed on the type of disinformation that would be fed to Mitchell. It appears, however, that both wished to use the flow of information on Roswell to mislead the famous astronaut. Both the CIA and Inman were, in all likelihood, satisfied with the end result of their disinformation campaign. Mitchell became a true believer in the extraterrestrial interpretation of Roswell and remained one until his death in 2016. Who knows how many people Mitchell converted into disciples of the cult of Roswell?
Friedman, Moore, Berlitz, Doty, “Falcon,” Corso, Inman, and Mitchell are but a sample of a broader rogues’ gallery of UFO disinformation agents. Is VanHerck a part of that gallery? His cryptic statement to the press, seemingly designed to give traction to the notion that the world’s most secure airspace is being invaded by aliens, is certainly cause for suspicion. His involvement in a United States Air Force unit that had played a significant role in the Roswell PSYOP also raises eyebrows. VanHerck had not commanded just any Air Force unit. He had commanded the 509th Bomb Wing, the outfit that started the Roswell craze. Would anyone today associate Roswell with aliens and UFOs if General William “Butch” Blanchard, the commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, had not issued the famous press release that mentioned a “crashed disk” (Hickman)? It is highly unlikely.
Granted, the 1947 incident was before VanHerck’s time with the 509th. That being said, people associated with the 509th Bomb Wing continued to spread UFO hysteria in the years subsequent to the Roswell incident. Prior to VanHerck, there was Jesse Marcel, the 509th intelligence officer. He, of course, surfaced in 1978 to assist, either wittingly or unwittingly, in the Roswell mythmaking effort. In addition to Marcel and VanHerck, there was another UFO disinformation conduit with a significant tie to the 509th Bomb Wing: Air Force General Curtis LeMay. While LeMay never commanded the 509th Bomb Wing, he was a close associate of Blanchard, the commander of the 509th at the time of the Roswell incident. In 1945, when Blanchard was still a colonel, he served with LeMay directing “the detailed operations for the first atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan” (“Gen. William Hugh ‘Butch’ Blanchard”). Blanchard has been described as a “good friend” of LeMay (Smith 87). LeMay helped feed rumors that the United States government was storing the wreckage from the Roswell crash (Redfern, “UFOs and Senator Barry Goldwater”). He did so during a heated conversation with one of America’s most famous senators: Barry Goldwater. Researcher Nick Redfern provides the details:
On more than a few occasions, the subject of UFOs featured heavily on Larry King Live. On one occasion, specifically in 1994, the person that King had on his show to talk about UFOs was none other than Goldwater himself, who told King:
“I think at Wright-Patterson, if you could get into certain places, you’d find out what the Air Force and the government does know about UFOs. Reportedly, a spaceship landed. It was all hushed up. I called Curtis LeMay and I said, ‘General, I know we have a room at Wright-Patterson where you put all this secret stuff. Could I go in there?’ I’ve never heard General LeMay get mad, but he got madder than hell at me, cussed me out, and said, ‘Don’t ever ask me that question again!’”
Was LeMay sincerely angered by Goldwater’s questions, or was he feigning rage in order to convince the senator that an alien craft was hidden away in the bowels of an American Air Force base? That is certainly a possibility. If that was the general’s intention, then the ruse worked smashingly well. Goldwater’s conversation with LeMay convinced many in the UFO community that aliens exist and somewhere there was the physical evidence that would silence all debate. LeMay may have been participating in a PSYOP that began with Blanchard’s issuance of the press release claiming that the 509th had recovered a disk in the desert. The 509th seems to be more than just an Air Force unit. It is, on some level, a UFO disinformation platform. That platform most likely claims VanHerck as one of its megaphones.
Since the recent spate of UFO sightings began, the official position assumed by the White House has been one fraught by epistemic incoherence. On one hand, Joe Biden stated that, heretofore, the objects remain unidentified (“Biden says the three aerial objects shot down were not Chinese spy balloons”). Thus, one must remain agnostic concerning the objects’ point of origin and ultimate natures. On the other hand, Biden asserted with certainty that the objects were not surveillance crafts from China or any other nation. Essentially, Biden is making a negation in the absence of an affirmation. He is arrogating to himself rational certainty concerning what the objects were not. Simultaneously, he is asserting that no one can know what the objects actually were. It is terribly difficult to definitively declare what something is not without first establishing what something is. If Biden wished to remain agnostic about what the objects were, then he should have remained equally agnostic concerning the possibility of the UFOs being surveillance crafts.
While theology is seldom afforded much credence by the predominantly secular cultural milieu, the discipline rightly affirms that apophatic statements must be accompanied by cataphatic statements. Negations and affirmations must accompany one another. Otherwise, the God that theology attempts to describe would be reduced to a nebulous tabula rasa with which any number of interpretative liberties may be taken. Yet, that is precisely what these objects have been reduced to by the incoherent messaging of Biden officials. The White House’s juxtaposition of irreconcilable epistemic claims renders the recently sighted objects over America as veritable Rorschach inkblots. Upon their barren surfaces, technocratic interests can project any number of politically and socially expedient facades. In this case, the persistent Ufological presuppositions of a heavily conditioned public imagination may accomplish that task for the technocrats.
Ufological presuppositions have already been deeply embedded within the public mind through science fiction literature and films. In turn, most of these cultural artifacts were, to some extent, inspired by the latter-day interplanetary Gnosticism of Jacob Ilive. This Enlightenment-era pamphleteer and printer promulgated an odd neo-Gnostic narrative between 1730 and 1750 (Herrick, “Blasphemy in the Eighteenth Century: Contours of a Rhetorical Crime” 112). This narrative can be found in works such as The Layman’s Vindication of the Christian Religion and The Oration Spoke at Joyner’s Hall (113). Therein, Ilive transposes the Eschaton of Heaven and Hell into the vacuum separating celestial bodies, namely space.
Ilive echoes the cosmological pessimism of his ancient Gnostic antecedents, claiming that the Earth is “Hell, i.e. the Place inferior to Heaven” (113). Ilive expresses the distinctly dysteleological contention that Earth is bereft of any purpose and “no new Order of Beings was created to people it” (113). This demonic portrayal of the world was clearly derivative of ancient Gnostic cosmology, which resulted from an erroneous assignment of a positive ontological status to evil. The ancient Gnostics understood evil in terms of ontology instead of moral orientation. Evil was viewed not as a tendency of the will, but as an actual animated essence interwoven into creation. The curse and creation were ontologically inseparable. This understanding of corruption contrasted sharply with the Church Fathers, who believed that evil was not some independent substance. From the patristic vantage point, evil constitutes a negation of being and, as such, holds no place among the existent. While its effects are painfully real, evil is not regarded as real in and of itself. Evil can be analogized to cold, which does not possess a positive ontological status. There is no concrete thing in the world called “cold.” Rather, it is only a condition precipitated by the absence of heat. Cold exists only as a privation of warmth. That is not to say that cold is illusory. Its effects are real, as is evidenced by hypothermia and other cold-induced medical conditions. Yet, cold itself does not exist as a tangible reality. Likewise, on the patristic view, evil does not exist as a tangible reality. Instead, it affects tangible reality through the intangible will. Thus, evil’s point of origin is the intangible will, not the tangible world. Neither Ilive nor his ancient Gnostic antecedents accepted this contention. So, they conflated creation with the curse and concluded that the world was Hell.
This cosmological pessimism logically segued into an anthropological pessimism. Ilive divested man of his unique position as imago Dei, a divine image bearer for whom God created the earth as a lovely cosmic bequest. Instead, Ilive declared that man was an apostate Angel imprisoned within the corporeal penitentiary of the physical body (113). In order to escape his bodily confinement and transcend the penal colony of the world, man had to undergo some vaguely defined earthbound test (113). Upon completing this purgatorial trial, man would spiritually ascend to other planets, which Ilive claimed to be empyrean habitations. In support of this claim, Ilive cited John 14:2, wherein Jesus states: “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” (113). Ilive redefined the “many mansions” comprising the “Father’s house” as off-world habitations that were possibly populated by “intelligent life” (113). The same contention was held by William Derham. It was Derham’s conviction that Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens had actually observed humanoid life-forms scurrying along the surface of the planets he viewed through his massive telescope (Herrick, Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs 197).
This would not be the last time that such a fantastical myth would be extrapolated from someone’s dubious telescopic observations. In 1916, Percival Lowell claimed to have viewed canals trailing along the surface of Mars through an eighteen-inch telescope (Taylor 193). From a revolving dome observatory, Lowell “mapped and measured, published and proclaimed, continually fanning the flames of public interest” (193). Among one of those who were enraptured by the prospect of Martian life was none other than the infamous advocate of the British Empire, H.G. Wells. Ian Taylor writes:
The life-on-Mars thesis caught the attention of England’s science fiction writer of the day H.G. Wells, who wrote War of the Worlds in 1898, a classic to this day. Interest was revived a generation later when a radio drama based on Wells’s book was broadcast in New York in 1938 and caused a minor panic among the listeners. (193)
The “minor panic” induced by the War of the Worlds broadcast was studied intensely by the Princeton Radio Research Project. Chief among the participants in this project were Paul Lazarsfeld, Frank Stanton, and Hadley Cantril. This examination of fear was “made possible by a special grant from the General Education Board” (Cantril xiv). The General Education Board was a machination of the oligarchical Rockefeller dynasty, whose members have occupied the halls of power for many years. The fanatical eschatological vision that informs the endeavors of various Rockefeller scions has been a technocratic world order. Not surprisingly, the men who conducted the research at Princeton University were involved in the social sciences, which originated with the technocratic theoretician Auguste Comte (Fischer 71). While ostensibly innocuous and value-neutral, the social sciences have always been concerned with social control. One way that social control can be established is through the inducement of fear. So, it comes as little surprise that Cantril was particularly fascinated by the fear induced by the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. In The Invasion From Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic, Cantril observes:
A panic occurs when some highly cherished, rather commonly accepted value is threatened and when no certain elimination of the threat is in sight. The individual feels that he will be ruined, physically, financially or socially. The invasion of the Martians was a direct threat to life, to other lives that one loved, as well as to all other cherished values. The Martians were destroying practically everything. The situation was, then, indeed a serious affair. Frustration resulted when no directed behavior seemed possible. One was faced with the alternative of resigning oneself and all of one’s values to complete annihilation or of making a desperate effort to escape from the field of danger, or of appealing to some higher power or stronger person whom one vaguely thought could destroy the oncoming enemy. (199; emphasis added)
Of course, one such “stronger person” to whom appeals could be made was the omnipotent State. A Martian invasion could ontologically and epistemologically overwhelm legitimate representative bodies (e.g., parliaments, Congresses, etc.), thereby necessitating the empowerment of a policy professionals. These technocrats could lay claim to some vaguely defined sociopolitical gnosis, which they would employ in the formulation of either a militaristic or diplomatic solution to the Martian problem. Thanks to Wells, Martian war machines had become the harbingers of world government. The theme of alien invasion precipitating global political unification was popularized by War of the Worlds. Lowell was the theoretician who provided the scientific affirmation for such a narrative. Yet, were his observations reliable enough to hinge such a grand narrative upon? According to Taylor, Lowell’s telescopic view of Mars lacked the requisite clarity to verify the presence of canals. He states:
Mars, as it appeared in Lowell’s telescope under the best viewing conditions, is quite a small disc, and observation of detail is just about at the limit of resolution of the human eye. But over the years the number of canals reported and named by Lowell rose to more than seven hundred. (193)
Given Lowell’s substantially restricted view of Mars, one must wonder how he managed to identify over seven hundred canals. Perhaps Lowell’s observations were not filtered through the eye, but through the imagination. If this contention holds sway, then it necessitates an examination of the imaginative influences on Lowell. According to Taylor, Lowell’s “imagination was fired by a report, in 1877, of the Italian astronomer Schiaparelli who said he had seen ‘canali’ on the planet Mars” (191). Elaborating on this report, Taylor writes:
It was a very cautious report, and the “canali” were simply meant as straight lines. A later report from Schiaparelli indicated that these were double lines, and in English “canali” became canals. Popular imagination took this to mean a sign of intelligent life, and there followed a public controversy almost as sharp as that which followed the publication of Darwin’s Origin. The objections came from theologians who saw the proposal of extraterrestrial life as a threat to the doctrine of Special Creation. Their argument held that God had created life only on earth and nowhere else. Man, so the logic ran, was the only reasoning creature, uniquely favored among all of God’s creations and the center of his attention. (191)
While some might characterize such arguments as capriciously anthropocentric, Schiaparelli’s theologian counterparts understood that his “findings” held significant creatological implications. With the doctrine of Special Creation successfully undermined, certain other propositions could be insinuated into the vacuum left by the banished doctrine of imago Dei. If intelligent life existed elsewhere, then man was no longer a “reasoning creature” who was “uniquely favored” by God. In fact, God Himself was no longer a necessity. With the doctrine of imago Dei deemed untenable, it was only a matter of time until the modern mind concluded that there was never a God whose image was mirrored by mankind. At least that would be the case for the God of Christianity. Of course, nature abhors a vacuum and various theoreticians began to propose viable surrogates for the Divine. The most immediate surrogate to fill the void was the immanent divinity tacitly conveyed through Darwinism. That theos was typically hypostatized as the Earth Goddess. Lowell was certainly no stranger to this immanent divinity. Taylor elaborates on Lowell’s Darwinian pedigree:
Educated in Europe and then at Harvard, he was able to enjoy the privileged life of the financially independent intellectual, traveling and keeping company with New England’s affluent industrial aristocracy, who were generally keen practitioners of social Darwinism. Later in life, the psychologist William James and Ernst Haeckel in Germany became his personal friends. Darwin’s influence reached into the very wellsprings of Lowell’s thoughts, and the latter applied the idea of evolution broadly in both science and society, as may be seen throughout his many writings. (190)
Lowell expressed some conspicuously Darwinian sentiments in The Soul of the Far East, which seizes upon the differentiation of species as an affirmation of evolutionary theory (190-91). Lowell’s evolutionism harmonized rather well with his cosmic presuppositions concerning Martian life. Darwin’s immanent divinity, hypostatized as the Earth Goddess, is commonly interpreted as a ubiquitous generative force that animates the causa sui universe. Thus, the fingers of the Goddess allegedly extend themselves throughout the cosmos, making contact with the primordial soups of other worlds. From these stews are birthed beings who, in toto, constitute a deity. The Earth Goddess gives rise to alien “gods.” The firmament had been divested of one God only to be inhabited by another one. Commenting on the harmonious relationship between evolutionary theory and the belief in extraterrestrials, Taylor states:
If it [the extraterrestrial proposition] were true, it would greatly support the theory of evolution, for it was argued that if life could evolve from nonlife on earth, then it was also possible to have evolved under similar circumstances anywhere else throughout the universe. More important, however, was the possibility that life could have evolved on a distant planet first and subsequently been brought to earth. Moreover, each of the millions of stars in the visible universe was a potential sun to a planetary system like our own, and by sheer weight of numbers it was reasoned, principally by Lowell, that there must be many with conditions suitable for life. (193)
Schiaparelli’s “canali” were viewed as an empirical confirmation of evolutionarily precipitated organisms on Mars. Yet, did such “canali” even exist? Just four years before the Viking Mars landings, reconnaissance of the planet revealed that there were “no canals, no sign of intelligent life” (193). Lowell’s theory “promptly died” (193). The subsequent landings in July and September of 1976 did very little to renew hope concerning Martian life. Both Viking space vehicles were outfitted with equipment to conduct “three life-test experiments” (193). These life-tests were “inconclusive” and the final report presented a Mars that was “barren and totally devoid of life” (194). Such a portrait was relayed with a “sense of reluctance” (194).
Nevertheless, the alien myth persisted. Ilive’s latter-day interplanetary Gnosticism established the overall hermeneutic according to which the modern UFO phenomenon was understood. Suddenly, the Eschaton was transposed into the immanent sphere and was situated among the stars. Heaven, hell, angels, demons, and God were suddenly redefined as the extraterrestrial occupants of the physical universe. This view of space is only reinforced by various literary and cinematic artifacts. In true neo-Gnostic fashion, many science fiction authors tend to transpose the Eschaton into the physical universe, thereby rendering the immanent order as numinous and transcendent. This transposition is intimated through the familiar phrase, “Space: The Final Frontier.” This culturally ubiquitous utterance was popularized by Star Trek, a TV and film franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. By characterizing space as the “final frontier,” Roddenberry implies that those mysteries best deferred until the Eschaton can and will be solved within the present immanent order. In fact, all of those eschatological hopes reserved for the Parousia become attainable realities as well. Herrick elaborates:
But space is vastly more than a “final frontier” in our modern scientific mythology, as is clearly evident in the Star Trek television series and movies themselves. Space is also a place for the resolution of ultimate questions, and for rendering more complex the important questions to which we thought we already had answers. For instance, in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), space is the setting for the creation of life on a dead planet, and for Mr. Spock’s resurrection from death through a mysterious ritual on his home planet of Vulcan. Nor is space incidental to these fabulous activities; space is to the modern mind the proper setting for such wonders. (Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs 76)
Roddenberry is not the only science fiction author who has rendered eschatological hopes attainable within the void of space. Many other novels, movies, and TV series have attempted this transposition. Herrick enumerates just a few examples:
Heaven, hell, death and even resurrection are issues to be managed in Space. In the climatic scenes of Contact, worm-hole traveler Jodi Foster finds herself in a celestial paradise, where she is reunited with what appears to be her deceased father. Is this an alien heaven? Other space travelers are catapulted into what can only be described as hell itself—as are the unfortunate space pioneers in the 1997 movie Event Horizon. They also meet deceased loved ones. The vast distances and extra dimensions of Space often seem to bring human beings into contact with friends or family members who have passed from this life. This theme marks the movie Solaris (1976, 1999) based on a Stanislav Lern novel by the same name. Or those presumed dead may be returned alive and unharmed to Earth from Space, as is the case in the closing scenes of [Steven] Spielberg’s Close Encounters. Here, in a latter-day resurrection marking the arrival of our saviors from Space, abductees emerge alive and unaged from the bowels of an alien ship, where presumably some have been kept for decades. (Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs 77)
Ironically, while space is rendered as an empyrean domain where eschatological yearnings are realized, the physical universe is simultaneously denigrated by either tacit or explicit docetistic propositions. Several sci-fi films and novels treat material cosmos as some sort of simulacrum. It is habitually portrayed as the product of dysteleological forces and, as such, holds no intrinsic value. In fact, the physical universe is often portrayed as inauthentic and even deceptive. One of the more recent pop culture artifacts that convey this theme is the 2015 sci-fi film Jupiter Ascending. The movie follows the revelatory experiences of Jupiter Jones, a young girl from Chicago who discovers her pedigree as a member of galactic royalty. Apparently, Jones is the scion of an alien matriarch that was the heiress of Earth. The dynasty from which Jones descends is but one family among other interplanetary elites. These galactic aristocrats routinely seed other worlds so that they may harvest the resultant organisms for the production of a youth serum. That serum is subsequently sold to other wealthy patrons throughout the universe. The natural trajectory assumed by the film is a neo-Gnostic and crypto-eugenical one. Not surprisingly, the movie was written and directed by the Wachowskis, the neo-Gnostic siblings responsible for the popular Matrix film trilogy. Big budget sci-fi tales such as these are by no means the products of innovative storytelling. They are derivative of older science fiction works that were equally suspicious of external reality.
For instance, sci-fi scribe Olaf Stapledon regarded the visible universe as a simulacrum that gave way to another world (Herrick, Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs 112). Stapledon was a chief influence upon Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who affirmed the Gnostic belief that physical embodiment qualified as a form of incarceration (112). For Clarke, the evolutionary process was the means by which the corporeal prison could be escaped. Much of Clark’s work explores the concept of evolution, occasionally guided by active experimentation, resulting in a New Humanity unencumbered by physical embodiment (112). Clarke’s Childhood’s End presents audiences with nearly omnipotent aliens who harvest humanity. However, this harvest involves the collection of man’s consciousness, not his physical body. While the Overlords appear as devils, their mission is one that is evolutionarily preordained. Therefore, they are not portrayed as evil. Instead, they are simply facilitators of humanity’s evolutionary migration toward disembodiment. Their demonic countenance challenges the traditional Christian categories of good and evil. Like the Hypostasis of the Archons and other Gnostic texts, Childhood’s End depicts good and evil through the distorted lens of an inverted hermeneutic. Evil is corporeal existence in an ontologically deficient world. Good is incorporeal existence in an unembodied Overmind, which is essentially an extraterrestrial version of the Pleroma. For Clarke, this dissolution into disembodiment represented the telos of the evolutionary process (112). This docetistic attitude toward physical embodiment harmonizes rather comfortably with the conspicuously Gnostic sensibilities of the emergent “woke” cultural milieu, exemplified by the LBGT movement’s rejection of biological realities.
The same glorious telos is portrayed in the film adaptation of Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this movie “features a human selected by unknown forces to take the next step in evolution” (112). The film ends with the protagonist being portrayed as a human fetus hovering in space and observing the Earth of its origin with an icy indifference (112). Implicit in this enigmatic image is a Gnostic parody of the Christian’s new birth (John 3:3-7). The literary precursor to 2001 is Against the Fall of Night, wherein Clarke once more presents extraterrestrial contact as the catalyst for evolution beyond bodily constraints (112). Exposure to other species elucidates the finitude of the corporeal body and its sensory faculties, thereby underscoring man’s need for bodily dissolution into “pure mentality” (112). Clarke states that the idea of pure mentality was held by most ancient religions, thereby intimating his own exposure to Gnostic systems (112). Additionally, he asserts that pure mentality represents the telos of the evolutionary process. The story culminates with successful experiments in the creation of a “disembodied mentality” and the emergence of a “new race” (112). The intellectual potential of this new race defies quantification, verging on virtual omniscience (112).
The angelic motif of Ilive’s neo-Gnostic narrative has also been repeatedly conveyed in films, TV shows, and sci-fi literature. Invariably, the aliens assume one of two roles dialectically related roles: angels or demons (which are essentially apostate angels). The relationship of these two is a dialectical one because, while they occupy the extreme polarities of a Manichean binary, the revelation of their existence always portends the same existential consequences. If the aliens are angelic, then the nation-state system is woefully sub-optimal for the purposes of establishing interplanetary diplomatic ties. If the aliens are demonic, then only the military might of a unipolar world order can withstand the extraterrestrial invaders. In either case, the amalgamation of sovereign nations into a technocratic super-state and the apotheosis of humanity are depicted as inescapable and desirable outcomes. The perennial Utopian crusade to, in Voegelian terms, “immanentize the Eschaton” now receives its blessing from highly evolved “angels” who traverse the firmament in technologically advanced crafts.
Can this latest spate of sightings be definitively established as an instance of alien visitation? Doing so would stipulate an examination of debris from the alleged crafts. Such an examination is probably already underway for the object that was downed on February 4. Thus far, the findings have been painfully mundane. According to NPR reporter Bill Chapell, some of the remains of the object were collected from the Atlantic Ocean and it has been determined that the object was a balloon (“UFOs? Airborne objects? What we know about recent shootdowns”). As for the crafts that were downed between February 10 and February 12, no debris has been collected. VOA News reports:
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said U.S. personnel have not yet recovered any debris from the three objects.
Austin told reporters Monday in Brussels, where he is scheduled to meet with NATO defense ministers this week, that weather is hampering recovery efforts in Alaska while the remote terrain in Canada is affecting the search there.
He said the priority for the Pentagon is “debris recovery so that we can get a better sense of what these objects are.”
[National Security Council spokesperson] Kirby declined to refer to any of the three airborne objects as balloons. (“3 Downed Objects Still Uncovered, Says US Military”)
While Kirby eschewed the use of the term, recently surfaced evidence suggests that the object downed on February 11 was likely a balloon. Fox reporter Zachary Rogers states:
One of the three unidentified flying objects shot down by the United States Air Force (USAF) last week may have been a research project belonging to an Illinois hobbyist club, according to a report.
While the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB) is “is not pointing fingers yet,” according to a report from AviationWeek.com, it seems that “circumstantial evidence” provides a possible explanation for what one of the three mystery objects shot down by the USAF was.
The club’s silver-coated “pico balloon” had been in the air for 123 days, having just marked its sixth circumnavigation around the world, when it was declared missing on Feb. 14, according to a blog post from the hobby club.
Last known coordinates place the pico balloon near Alaska’s uninhabited Hagemeister Island. This possibly aligns with one of the unidentified flying objects shown down by the USAF over Canada’s Yukon on Feb. 11.
The NIBBB cites an NOAA Hysplit Trajectory map that places the club’s balloon over the Yukon on the same date an F-22 shot down an object.
Ron Meadows, the founder of Scientific Balloon Solutions (SBS), reportedly told AviationWeek.com that he’s already attempted to contact the U.S. military and FBI to explain what the mystery flying objects possibly were, adding that “they’re going to look not too intelligent to be shooting them down.” (“UFO shot down by Air Force could be hobby club’s missing research balloon, report says”)
To be sure, the conclusion cannot be enunciated with epistemological certainty at this time. Such certainty stipulates the recovery and examination of wreckage. Heretofore, this has not occurred. Arguably, if an alien visitation hoax holds sway, recovery efforts will be either deliberately fruitless or eschewed all together. Frustratingly, epistemological certainty is presently impossible. In the midst of such incertitude, the utterance of Rene Descartes seems applicable: “When it is not in our power to follow what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.” According to Meadows, it is more probable that the objects were pico balloons:
“The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10-12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12-180 each, depending on the type,” Meadows reportedly said. (“UFO shot down by Air Force could be hobby club’s missing research balloon, report says”)
Nevertheless, the recent spate of UFO sightings released a meme into the ether. As that meme embeds itself deeper in the public mind, more eyes will look to the sky and invariably see something there. Amateur UFO researcher Joe McGonagle has predicted a coming spike in UFO sightings:
And people are likely to report a wave of UFO sightings as a result of these cases, he said. “I’d expect a rash of UFO reports from people who don’t normally look at the sky suddenly looking at the sky and seeing things they don’t recognise, and reporting them.”
The British UFO Research Association told the Guardian there had been a slight increase in people getting in touch with sightings but both it and McGonagle said the real increase would probably come in the next few weeks.
McGonagle said press coverage caused more people to look out for sightings and the process repeated in a cycle. “And suddenly you’ve got an alien invasion.” (“Prepare for wave of extraterrestrial sightings in UK, say UFO experts”)
As the meme of alien visitation proliferates, so will sightings. With eyes fixed upon the firmament, a multiplicity of crimes, scandals, and other important disclosures will be overlooked. For instance, the recent spate of sightings diverted a considerable amount of attention away from Seymour Hersh’s revelations concerning America’s potential role in the bombing of the Nord Stream Pipeline. One can only imagine what sort of disclosure will be obscured by a larger mass sighting in the future. Few will see the intimations of civilizational collapse or the technocratic restructuring of the world. Most eyes will be fixed upon a pillar of fire kindled by AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. That Promethean flame is intended to lure humanity out of the Egypt of sacrosanct institutions, traditional theisms, cherished metaphysical certainties, ennobling anthropological convictions, and nation-states. The Promised Land waiting at the end of that exodus is not one of milk and honey, but of technocratic tyranny legitimized by a bizarre theology involving extraterrestrial “angels.”
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