A topic about outer-space and everything in it, from little green men to big spirally galaxies

UFO Encounters with Jim Harold (& Yours Truly)


It seems paranormal-type podcasts are a dime a dozen nowadays, but the one which started the trend way back in 2005 --when most people didn't even have an iPod, and Blackberries were still a thing-- was Jim Harold's Paranormal Podcast. If Jim's show has managed to withstand the test of time, while many others have quickly expired like digital mayflies in an online stream of information, is because he's managed to captivate his growing audience with his superb story-telling skills. Indeed, by now Jim has become a published author and his Campfire: True Ghost Stories e-books remain among the #1 bestsellers in Amazon's Occult & Supernatural department.

I met Jim in 2013 at the Paradigm symposium, but unfortunately we didn't have much of a chance to chat then. This year however things were different, since Jim functioned as the panel moderator for the event, and we also managed to have a few drinks and engage in a really interesting conversation. For instance, I remember Jim sharing with our small group at the hotel lobby that when he was in college studying Journalism, one of his teachers told the class how when he was an Air Force officer stationed at the 1369th Photographic Squadron at Vandenherg Air Force Base, he was tasked in 1964 with the mission of photographing tracking footage of a very important missile test. But shortly after he handed down the film he was called by one of his superiors who made him watch the footage, and there in the was the unmistakable image of a disc-like object intercepting the Atlas rocket, and shooting what looked like 'energy beams' onto its metallic fuselage; immediately after this the flying disc flew out of frame and the rocket lost its course and tumbled out of its set trajectory.

The name of the professor was Robert Jacobs, and what he told to his students is famously known as the 1964 Big Sur UFO filming, which has been mentioned in several documentaries like James Fox's Out of the Blue.

Talk about a UFOtastic synchronicity! Jim also told us at the hotel gathering how he once had a chance to defend his old professor's reputation from one of those snarky debunkers who are so fond of ad-hominem attacks. Oh how I wished I'd been able to witness THAT [Read the update below].

As part of his UFO Encounters series on his Paranormal Plus service Jim recently interviewed me (Ep. 77) and I took the opportunity to talk --among other things-- about one of my favorite UFO cases of all time: The aerial encounter of Carlos Antonio de los Santos in 1985.

Unfortunately the Skype gods didn't smile upon us that night, so we were forced to resort to using my cell phone; but despite the subpar sound quality on my end I'm hoping Grailers will still find it enjoyable to listen to --for my part, it sure is flattering to think someone considers my thick-accent ramblings to be 'Plus-quality' material…

So if you haven't already, subscribe to Paranormal Plus and get access to plenty of entertaining material; and also check out Jim's other podcasts, including the Paranormal Report he produces with my Cosmic Compadre, Micah Hanks --those 2 other shows are free BTW. You should also consider Jim's Campfire books if you haven't finished with your Xmas gift list yet.

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[UPDATE] Jim contacted me to clarify that the anecdote of professor Jacobs was about him defending himself against Bill Nye on a Larry King Live show --and basically tearing "the Science guy" a new one on live TV! Here's the video:

Sorry about that, guys. I guess that's the problem when you end up having 1 beer too many...

Oh, and he also was kind enough to give us permission to give a direct link to my interview on UFO encounters, so that you can listen it to without subscribing to his Paranormal Plus service. [Link]

Jacques Vallee's Classic UFO Book 'Passport to Magonia' is Finally Back in Print

Passport to Magonia

One of the most influential and famous books on the UFO phenomenon, Jacques Vallee's Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers, has long been out of print. Most true Forteans would know this because, like me, if they've wanted a copy in the internet age they've probably had to fork out exorbitant sums for a second-hand copy.

Well, if you've been holding off getting a copy of this must-have book for any serious UFO buff, I've got good news! Today, Daily Grail Publishing has released a reprint of this classic book - both in paperback and hardcover. You can find it at most online bookstores, but I've added handy links to Amazon below if you want to get an early start on your Xmas shopping:

The book has not been revised at all - we decided that the book should be released 'as is' (apart from the addition of a new Foreword from Jacques), as the seminal historic work in ufology that it was (and still is). For anyone wanting more up-to-date commentary about the topic, be sure to grab Jacques' books Dimensions and Wonders in the Sky.

For a number of years, since publishing Messengers of Deception, I've had many, many readers asking me to convince Jacques to republish Passport to Magonia. I'm excited and proud to bring that to you today.

And for those that will no doubt ask: the gorgeous cover image is by Chris 'Isoban' Butler.

Newspaper Headline from 1803 Reports Anomalous Meteor Shower

Meteor illustration by Concejalía de Cultura del Ayto

In the tradition of Charles Fort, our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Blair MacKenzie Blake has collected a newspaper 'clipping' (more correctly, found an eBay listing for a collectable newspaper) that discusses an anomalous meteor shower way back in 1803.

This electrical phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond, and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person who beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemeble a shower of sky rockets.

...Several of those shooting meteors, were accompanied with a train of fire, that illuminated the sky for a considerable distance. One in particular, appeared to fall from the Zenith, of the apparent size of a ball of eighteen inches in diameter, that lighted for several seconds the whole hemisphere.

...Since writing the above, we have been informed that several of the largest of these shooting meteors, were observed to descend almost to the ground before they exploded.

However, rather than being - as the eBay listing has it - an "1803 headline display newspaper UFO / Flying Saucers seen over RICHMOND Virginia", this report was likely witness testimony of a particularly magnificent manifestation of the Lyrid meteor shower. In fact, an article written about this newspaper story, which collated it with other witness reports, was published in Popular Astronomy in 1931 (click for a PDF of the article).

What I found interesting about the testimony, however, was the mention of the sounds heard:

Hissing meteors

During the continuance of this phenomenon, a hissing noise in the air was plainly heard, and several reports, resembling the discharge of a pistol.

The 1931 article also mentions a witness at another location as saying that "we distinctly heard a hissing in the air, but heard no reports".

This mention of a hissing sound (and pistol-like reports) reminded me of a fascinating article which appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Volume 7, Issue 4), "Progress in Explaining the Mysterious Sounds Produced by Very Large Fireballs" (which I originally discussed in this Grail story). In it, author Colin Keay notes that "for about ten percent of those who do witness a very luminous meteor fireball, the mental impression is heightened by strange swishing, hissing and popping noises coincident with its passage across the sky. Such sounds are quite anomalous in that they imply acoustic propagation at the speed of light."

A suggested explanation for these anomalous sounds has been that the plasma trail produced by a fireball as it ionises the air in the atmosphere might be generating extra low frequency (ELF) radio waves. And in June this year a sky survey offered possible confirmation of this theory.

And to finish with an interesting sidenote regarding meteors and anomalous science: just a few days after the report above, a meteor shower in France occurred, the investigation of which (by Jean-Baptiste Biot) provided some solid evidence to the scientific establishment that rocks did actually fall from the heavens - marking a change from previous skepticism of eyewitness reports of this unlikely occurrence - and it is perhaps the event which could be said to have given birth to the science of meteoritics.

Space Station Astronauts Play with Water in Zero Gravity

Posted for no other reason than to giggle at the absurdity of water in space. Though it does also provide some understanding of the technical (and biological) challenges of space travel...

Disclosure is Dead


This is probably the best thing you'll read this week, or perhaps this entire year: A rather ballsy editorial by Robbie Graham, film researcher & author of the upcoming book Silver Screen Saucers, on why the UFO Disclosure movement is either defunct, or should be regarded as such by anyone interested in moving forward in our understanding of the phenomenon, instead of just maintaining a subordinate attitude toward government officialdom, in hope that if we yell long & loud enough, they might finally share with us the secrets about UFOs they may still hold.

But what if, as Robbie and several others in the research community have already asked, the only thing governments are keeping away from us, is their complete incapacity to make heads or tails about what UFOs really are, and their true interests and/or intentions toward humanity? What if they are only hiding their own ignorance and insecurity toward a phenomenon to which they have absolutely no control of?

The ultimate irony of the Disclosure movement is that it deeply distrusts officialdom, while simultaneously looking to officialdom for the truth. And by imagining all answers to the UFO mystery to be out of public reach, deep in the bowels of the national security state, the Disclosure movement actually places power into hands of officialdom, while disempowering the individual.

Robbie delivered this paper during the latest Exopolitics conference in Leeds, but instead of being tarred and feathered by an angry mob, he received a standing ovation! Perhaps it was because people are getting tired of the empty promises delivered by the leaders of the Disclosure movement, who for the past 15 years or so keep hammering on how 'the Truth' is just around the corner, and how soon we'll all be enjoying free energy in a peaceful planet which has finally been admitted in the Galactic Federation --Stephen Bassett was also a speaker in that event, and in contrast he received a lukewarm applause after his presentation.

But it's not that Robbie is poo-pooing *everything* that the Exopolitics movement has tried to accomplish. On the contrary, he acknowledges the efforts of "Bassett and others [who] undoubtedly have brought the UFO phenomenon (whatever it might represent) to the attention of many thousands of people around the world who previously were indifferent to the issue."

What does concern me, however, is that Disclosure has become the focus of the UFO community, its alluring offer of a fast track to UFO truth marginalising the more esoteric approaches to the phenomena. In short, in the age of Disclosure and Exopolitics, the pursuit of UFO truth is political, rather than mystical. If the day ever comes when humanity can claim an understanding of the UFO phenomenon, I’m very confident that politics will have played almost no role in this enlightenment.

It has to be said that, not too long ago, Robbie's attitude toward Disclosure was somewhat different, and he even tried to use his blog Silver Screen Saucers as a platform to support the Exopolitics activism. It was in fact Robbie the one who convinced me to join in the Disclosure Petition, that Stephen Bassett had launched on the We the People White House webpage in 2011 --and we all know how well THAT turned out, don't we?

When I asked Robbie via e-mail when he started to change his mind about Disclosure and why, this was his response:

I'm not really sure I 'changed my mind' about Disclosure so much as my mind inevitably moved on from it (as you predicted it would!). As individuals, our minds are all 'wired' a certain way -- we're each inclined to certain modes of thought. I'm a left-brainer. The nuts-and-bolts, political route to UFO 'truth' held natural appeal for me. But, as you know, a truly open-minded approach to UFO studies demands weighty input from the right brain. Indeed, for many in this field, the right-brained approach is the natural one.

Obviously, my latest piece is not objectively 'correct' or 'true' -- it's simply an opinion piece. It's where I 'am' right now, sort of. But I'm learning that where I am right now is probably very far from I'll be a year or even six months from now. So read it lightly. If it resonates with anyone else, cool. If it annoys people, that's cool, too, and I'd encourage those latter folk to ask themselves why they feel provoked and to listen carefully to their inner voice for an honest reply.

I certainly hope that Robbie's op-ed kickstarts a much-needed discussion in the community. Because IMO it's high time we recognize what the evidence we've already gathered in the last 67 years or so seems to point at: That the UFO phenomenon doesn't show a particular interest in our quaint forms of governmental structures, and instead of the iconical saucer landing on the White House lawn, what in fact seems to be happening is a 'Grassroots' type of Contact; as such, the Paradigm change ought to come from the bottom-up, instead of waiting to be sanctioned by the higher-ups, as the Disclosure movement is expecting.

It's time to cut the middleman out of the equation, and for each and everyone of us to do our own heavy-lifting; not just wait for the answers to be handed down to us by professional liars.

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Some Mexican Dude Talking About UFOs

Many MANY things happened during the 3rd installment of the Paradigm Symposium, which ended a week ago. One of those things is that I gave my very first video interview for UFO Hub, an online platform dedicated to discuss UFOs, paranormal & metaphysical subjects.

The guy who runs the site, Adnan Ademovic, approached me while we were at the event and asked me to talk with me, so he could learn a bit more of where I stand on the subject of UFOs. Since chatting with like-minded people is one of the main reasons why I travel 1800 miles to Minneapolis, I was more than happy to do so.

I guess I did make a good 1st impression, because after I wore his ear off with all my ramblings about anything from UFOs & synchronicities, to the subject of human consciousness, he asked me to do a little video recording for his Youtube channel later that night.

We did everything in one take, as you may easily deduct; and even though I'm upset over the fact that my tongue got twisted a couple of times, in the end I even surprised myself on how I managed to say something intelligible about my favorite Fortean topic. I even decided to add a final thought about my recent position on Consciousness, and how it might just turn out to be the key that will help us unlock all these seemingly unrelated mysteries, which are unfortunately still addressed independently by researchers --with dismayingly little success...

I also realize that what I said isn't really that 'new', since it was proposed by luminaries like Vallee & Keel decades ago. But perhaps the time is now ripe to finally admit that the phenomenon refuses to fit into our neat little pet theories. As a matter of fact, shamelessly challenging our comforting notions of what Reality is, might just be the greatest gift UFOs could dispense to mankind.

On the UFO Hub channel you can also find more interviews of a few of the Paradigm speakers, including Nick Redfern & Chase Kloetzke, 2 people I know consider good friends, thanks to the Paradigm Symposium.

Great Balls of Mars! Curiosity Finds a Strange Sphere on the Red Planet

Ballin' on Mars

Let it be said: for a supposedly 'dead' planet, Mars keeps throwing out cool anomalies for us. From odd 'lights' to a buried robot, there's hardly a dull day when it comes to looking for the strange. And here's the Red Planet's anomaly du jour: a perfect little sphere, quietly sitting atop another, separate, piece of flat rock.

Relax folks, it's totally explainable:

According to MSL scientists based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the ball isn’t as big as it looks — it’s approximately one centimeter wide. Their explanation is that it is most likely something known as a “concretion.” Other examples of concretions have been found on the Martian surface before — take, for example, the tiny haematite concretions, or “blueberries”, observed by Mars rover Opportunity in 2004 — and they were created during sedimentary rock formation when Mars was abundant in liquid water many millions of years ago.

Or, maybe it's just the ripe fruit that seems to have fallen from the Martian ball tree at the left of this image...

Martian Ball Tree

(Thanks to Alienated for the heads-up)

Related stories:

Jacques Vallee Turns 75 - and to Celebrate, We're Bringing Passport to Magonia Back into Print!

Passport to Magonia

A big happy birthday - or should I say bon anniversaire - to our good friend, legendary ufologist Jacques Vallee, who turns 75 today! To celebrate, here's some exciting news: Jacques is partnering with Daily Grail Publishing to re-release his all-time classic Passport to Magonia, a ground-breaking exploration of the strange crossover between elements of fairy folklore and UFO contact cases. Yay!

Since publishing Jacques' Messengers of Deception back in 2008, I've had many people pleading with me to persuade JV to republish Passport to Magonia. Even roughed-up second-hand copies of the book have been going for $60 and upwards, so take note - we're aiming to make shiny new hardcover, paperback and ebook editions available for much less than that. If you've been wanting to add Passport to Magonia to your book collection - and let's face it, what true Fortean wouldn't - then hang in there for a couple of months, when we make the new edition available.

Shedding Some Light on the Houston UFO Sighting

Houston UFO

The big UFO news over the past few days has been a supposed mass sighting of unidentified object hovering over Houston Texas, with the image above being one of the most publicized photos of a few doing the rounds. A search of Twitter shows that over the past day or two this has become a hugely popular story, probably on account of the Daily Mail story linked above.

Could a UFO have visited Texas this week?

Several people have taken it to Twitter to post pictures showing a strange object floating through the Houston clouds during a storm last Monday.

Some of the pictures show a bright oval object hovering. An unrelated picture shows a similar object through clouds. There are others, some showing what appears to be lights underneath the 'thing.'

Here's a local news report from immediately after the 'sighting' (August 12):

My thoughts: originally on seeing the most popular photos, I wondered why some of the photos show a very stormy night, while others show what appears to be a very clear night. After that, I dug into Twitter a bit to try and find the origins of the most popular photos - and, rather than finding "several people", the two most popular seem to have originated with the same person, one Nathaniel Xavier (@djnayyz) - photo 1, and photo 2. (Note: in a later tweet @djnayyz then said "I never took that picture I just posted it", though he has not yet answered commenters asking about the actual origin. He also seems happy to take the national media attention that's come along with his 'reposts').

A couple of days later Xavier then posted a video of the UFO to Instagram:

Is that ball lightning? Or is it just an old favourite CG 'UFO' video effect?

Returning to the photos however, there seems to be a fairly simple explanation: the 'UFO' is just the reflection of a highway light pole in the car window (a common source for UFO misidentification). See the image below for comparison, and note the number of lights on the UFO:


This would neatly explain how the centre of the UFO seems to be 'transparent' - only the lights are showing up in the reflection. Look again at the image at the top of this post, considering whether it might be a reflection of a light on the window...

A guess for how things played out: 'UFO' noticed while driving in car, image posted to social media, gains momentum, post another photo, gets on local TV, friend creates a nice CG UFO video, post to social media, international media attention. Purely a guess though, so I welcome your thoughts.

(thanks for the heads-up Kat)

Has the UFO Era Come to an End?

UFOs Against the Wall

New York Magazine has a thought-provoking piece on the field of ufology and how it seems to be increasingly becoming a relic of bygone age, using the recent MUFON conference as a case example:

MUFON has been around for 45 years and the average age of those who ponied up $239 for the conference was way past that. Many of the presenters, most of them long-established figures on the scene (Stanton Friedman, the 79-year-old widely acknowledged dean of the field, had to cancel owing to a mild heart attack) were equally venerable, as were most of the subjects they discussed. Much talk focused on the genre’s greatest hits: the Betty and Barney Hill abduction account (1961), the Lonnie Zamora/Socorro, New Mexico sighting (1973), the Rendlesham Forest incident in the U.K. (1980), and, of course, Roswell, circa 1947.

...It is true that very little beyond a shadow of a doubt forensic proof of alien presence has come to light over the years, but there are a number of subsidiary reasons for the seeming twilight of the UFO moment. With voracious proliferation of vampires, New World Order conspiracies, and the unprecedented rise of evangelical Christianity, the simple flying disc from far, far away has become a quaint, almost nostalgic specter. The saucer may have been the post-war generation’s signifier of the strange, but even versions of the unknown outlive their usefulness.

It's not a new idea - I've read a number of discussions in the past decade that touch on the lack of quality sightings/encounters, and the dearth of honest, idealistic field investigators. What is to blame? The era of affordable CG effects? The proliferation of smart-phones making UFO stories less believable without photographic proof? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Link: The End of UFOs