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Back in 2013 the famous comedian, UFC commentator and podcaster Joe Rogan had a TV series on the SyFy channel named Joe Rogan Questions Everything, whose focus was to investigate in a lighthearted way some unsolved mystery or paranormal topic every week. Sadly, the show lasted only 6 weeks, and I always suspected part of the reason why it was so short-lived was because when they ran their alien episode (“Real Close Encounters”) Joe decided to go mano-a-mano with the mother of all ufological high-strangeness stories: The infamous Skinwalker Ranch.

…That’s like deciding all of a sudden that you want to get your pudgy ass fit and work out with some of those bitching kettlebells Joe’s company sells, but instead of learning the moves with the beginner’s 18-lb howler monkey model, you go for the 90-lb Sasquatch kettlebell instead!

“Bro, I can take it! I read “The Day After Roswell”“!

Me: *nods and dials the paramedics*

Believe me: I’ve been studying UFOs all my life, and something like Skinwalker still gives me serious ‘brain sprain’. Ever since I read the book Hunt for the Skinwalker, co-written by Colm A. Kelleher and George Knapp, many of the assumptions I once had about what the phenomenon may or may not be had to be put into serious question. Right now there’s an interesting cultural shift in the perception of UFOs due to the dissemination of (apparent) ‘officially sanctioned’ information by Tom Delonge and his TTS/AAS initiative; but even those in the general public, mainstream media or academia who have been encouraged to reconsider their initial disdain for the topic due to those favorable articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post, would still face great difficulty in accepting at face value even a small percentage of what has allegedly transpired in that former cattle ranch located at the Uintah Basin, in the state of Utah.

The problem is that, if the ‘limited handouts’ released by TTS/AAS continue, sooner or later all those new UFO enthusiasts will need to break sweat and get up to speed ASAP with what we ‘veterans’ have been trying to wrap our heads around, ever since we graduated from the ‘lightweight’ routine exercises of foo fighters or close encounters of the 1st /2nd kind, and now break our mental muscles with the ‘Iron Man’ challenge that is Skinwalker and other equally baffling tales of high strangeness, in which those comfy and neatly defined categories separating ufology, cryptozoology and parapsychology are blurred beyond all recognition.

So start stretching, boys and girls, because you’re about to feel the burn.

Skinwalker ranch (Google Maps)

Skinwalker ranch (Google Maps)

The Background

Trying to summarize the whole Skinwalker saga into a short paragraph is a fool’s errand, but for the benefit of those 18-lb N00bs I’ll do what I can: The region in which the ranch was built has been considered to be the locus of strange activity for perhaps hundreds of years. The Ute tribes refrained from going near the area because they believed it had been cursed by the Navajo when the Ute allied with the US military against them; since then, they say, that land became the hunting ground of a ‘Skinwalker’ – an evil sorcerer with the power to shape-shift.

Eventually white settlers claimed the land and the high strangeness was allegedly reported by neighbors to the ranch; but it wasn’t until 1994, when the Sherman family bought the property with the intention to breed high-priced cattle, that the modern mythology of Skinwalker really begins. Knapp and Kelleher’s book gives a detailed account of the harrowing experiences Terry Sherman and his family suffered; ranging from poltergeist activity, UFO sightings, encounters with giant hairy humanoids, cattle mutilation and teleportation(!) and the alleged disintegration of the three family dogs by some form of mysterious energy – Sherman only found “three lumps of burnt tar, flesh and hair.”

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the giant bullet-proof wolf! Something that became the butt of almost every one of  Rogan’s jokes when he sarcastically reminisced on his SyFy series, and which was also prominently featured in the 2013 film Skinwalker Ranch, which sadly felt short in its attempt to adapt the story’s high strangeness for the big screen; something that pains me to state since my buddy Steve Berg not only stars in that movie, but was also involved in the production and writing of the script, and I know for a fact he’s a true student of the paranormal – like I said, ‘brain sprains’. You never get rid of them…

By 1996 the Shermans had had it with the Trickster energy plaguing them, and were on the verge of collapse – emotionally, psychologically and financially. They were seeking to get rid of the property and find another place in which to have a modicum of a ‘normal’ life. By that time their story had already garnered a bit of notoriety in the local press, which was more than enough for Las Vegas billionaire – and paranormal enthusiast – Robert Bigelow, to take an immediate interest: He called Terry Sherman and made him an offer on the ranch he couldn’t refuse, but asked him to remain on the property as guardian while he sent a team of scientists from his recently-founded National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) to try and investigate the phenomena present in the Utah property.

Hunt for the Skinwalker (book cover)

Hunt for the Skinwalker (book cover)

What transpired in the ranch while the NIDS team stayed there has never been officially released, and we only have the written testimony of the Kelleher/Knapp book, along with the vague declarations of some of the external consultants Bigelow hired under strict non-disclosure agreements – such as Col. John B. Alexander and even Dr. Jacques Vallee. In 2004 Bigelow disbanded NIDS, and one of the reasons for doing so was allegedly because the activity at the ranch had ‘receded’ – something George Knapp also maintained. It seemed as if Bigelow had lost interest in chasing after UFOs on his Utah ranch and decided to focus all his energy on Bigelow Aerospace, the company he created in order to license a NASA patent for inflatable orbital habitats, which he intends to develop as private space hotels.

Bigelow Aerospace's render of their projected inflatable orbital station

Bigelow Aerospace’s render of their projected inflatable orbital station

The Program

But now let’s jump ahead 14 years and take a look what has transpired so far: We learn thanks to the TTS/AAS release of 2017 that a black Pentagon project was started at the behest of at-the-time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV-Dem) back in 2007, in order to study unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and the potential threat they pose to national security, and that Robert Bigelow – a friend of Reid – won the bid for the contract, and used the money granted by the DIA to build a large building at his Bigelow Aerospace plant in Las Vegas, Nevada, for reasons directly related to the study.

To work on the DIA contract Bigelow replaced his defunct NIDS with a new scientific initiative called Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), which seems to have been the prime beneficiary of Bigelow Aerospace’s facility expansion. And by 2010, researchers noticed that on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), website pilots were encouraged to report their UFO sighting to… BAASS!

Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center, such as Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) (voice: 1-877-979-7444 or e-mail: Reporting@baass.org)

Not only that, but it’s clear Bigelow was eager to get their hands on fresh UFO reports through any available channel: In 2008 (one year after the Pentagon AATIP program started) Bigelow had made an agreement with MUFON to bankroll the civilian organization so they could get ‘boots on the ground’ as soon as they learned of a new case – the so-called STAR Team initiative.

Feuds on how MUFON would spend Bigelow’s monies – which we NOW know came from the Pentagon program – abounded. By 2009 MUFON’s international director James Carrion resigns out of frustration of how Bigelow was taking hold of the organization. How much did he take hold of MUFON throughout the years? By 2012 it is revealed by researcher Jack Brewer of The UFO Trail that John Carpenter, who was the director of abduction research for MUFON at the time, had handed over information of abductees – people who claim to have been taken once or on numerous occasions by alien beings for alleged experimentation purposes – to NIDS in the mid-1990s in exchange for money. Why this matters is because the names and particulars of those individuals were shared by them with MUFON in full confidentiality, so at the very least it is an ugly breach in ethics.

Let us now jump to a statement published last Sunday at the Las Vegas Now news Channel 8 website – where  George Knapp is part of its team of reporters – which was one of a number of documents Knapp procured from BAASS to prove there was indeed a Pentagon-backed UFO study based in Nevada.

The title of the document – which is tellingly short –  is unsigned and reads Statement from a Senior Manager of BAASS. It claims that during the time of the Pentagon program BAASS hired, trained and deployed “50 full-time staff comprising retired military intelligence [emphasis mine] and law enforcement officers, PhD level scientists, engineers, technicians, analysts, translators, and project managers to create the largest multi-disciplinary full-time team in history to investigate the UFO topic.”

The document also boldly states that BAASS’s investigation ultimately proved the phenomenon was more than simply “nuts and bolts” machines that interacted with military aircraft, something authors and researchers like Nick Redfern, Greg Bishop and many others have been championing for years, much to the chagrin of those who are still waiting to ‘kick the tires’ of flying saucers, and learn all about their propulsion systems. The anonymous author acknowledges how the phenomenon manifests in a wide variety of ways, including “bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, animal and human injuries and much more.”

But the biggest bombshell comes in the final few paragraphs:

One of the major successes of BAASS was in adopting the novel approach of utilizing the human body as a readout system for dissecting interactions with the UFO phenomenon. This novel approach aimed to circumvent the increasing evidence of deception and subterfuge by the UFO phenomenon in that multiple eyewitnesses co-located in the same vicinity frequently reported seeing widely different events. The evidence was multiplying that the UFO phenomenon was capable of manipulating and distorting human perception and therefore eyewitness testimony of UFO activity was becoming increasingly untrustworthy.

The BAASS approach was to view the human body as a readout system for UFO effects by utilizing forensic technology, the tools of immunology, cell biology, genomics and neuroanatomy for in depth study of the effects of UFOs on humans. This approach marked a dramatic shift away from the traditional norms of relying on eyewitness testimony as the central evidentiary arm in UFO investigations. The approach aimed to bypass UFO deception and manipulation of human perception by utilizing molecular forensics to decipher the biological consequences of the phenomenon.

The result of applying this new approach was a revolution in delineating the threat level of UFOs.

Contrary to the statement’s claims, using human beings as a ‘readout system’ is actually nothing new. Such an approach has been utilized in the field of parapsychology for many years. In this 2011 interview for Radio Misterioso for example, Dr. Barry Taff – a parapsychologist best known for his involvement with the famous ‘Entity’ case of 1974, which was the basis of a Hollywood horror movie – explained to the host Greg Bishop how his research had convinced him that during paranormal phenomena the human body acts as a kind of ‘bio-reactor’ which somehow seems to help the activity to manifest into our plane of reality, which would explain how paranormal activity tends to be more localized on certain people. He has also found certain correlations between geo-magnetic anomalies and epilepsy-prone individuals.

Diana Walsh Pasulka is a professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion in the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the author of the upcoming book American Cosmic, which deals with novel approaches to the UFO topic as well as validating the deep interest wealthy individuals in the private sector have in the subject, and how these entrepreneurs are trying to find ways to study and capitalize on the phenomenon, just as Robert Bigelow has tried to do. On her Facebook page she acknowledged that BAASS’s method of making the human being the locus or site for the study of the effects, ‘concurred’ with what the scientists she interviewed for her book told her.

Parapsychologists have been documenting positive results of their experiments for years. The problem is they are yet to propose a model for these results that would convince experts from other fields, because such models would demand a departure from the current materialist paradigm our modern science is based on. But as history has taught us again and again, observation always precedes theoretical prediction, and the current state of psi research is akin to the state of research of electromagnetism in the 19th century, before a viable mathematical model was formalized. Such is the argument raised in this paper – published at the CIA website no less! – written by Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, who lead the Stanford Research Institute back when the US government was running its famous Stargate ‘psychic’ project.

(Hal Puthoff, it bears mentioning, is vice president of the TTS/AAS Science and Technology division)

So it does seem BAASS is indeed following a much needed non-orthodox approach to the study of UFOs that is borrowed from the parapsychology handbook, which places the human being as a primary focus of the effects caused by UFO/paranormal activity: not only that, but it also boldly concludes that whatever it is we’re dealing with, it’s not just metal spacecraft from some other planet following a bizarre version of Star Trek’s prime directive. Great!

…Only there’s just two little pesky details that remain a mystery: WHO are the individuals used by BAASS as a ‘readout system’ during their research, and WHERE were those experiments conducted?

Entrance to Skinwalker ranch

Old entrance to Skinwalker ranch

The Whistleblower

When I first learned about the AATIP/AASWA Pentagon program and slowly began to try and connect the dots, I initially thought that the New York Times‘ reference to “[r]esearchers [who] also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes” meant that Bigelow’s team were studying military pilots who got in close proximity with UFOs – or even commercial pilots too, given the FAA’s referral to Bigelow’s number on their website!

Then I remembered the ‘Carpenter affair’ discussed earlier, and wondered if perhaps BAASS had also tried to investigate the abductees in MUFON’s database.

But after reading the statement from their anonymous ‘former senior member’, I was reminded of this 2012 episode of The Paracast, in which Gene Steinberg and his co-host Chris O’Brien – who has been involved in the Skinwalker investigation since before it went public – organized a round table with two other Skinwalker researchers: my friend David Weatherly and Ryan Skinner (Skinner, by the way, was one of the investigators featured in that disastrous Joe Rogan Questions Everything episode on alien encounters… although funnily enough his name does not appear on the IMDB credits).

The round table of investigators and Gene were joined in the first half of the show by ‘Chip’ (a pseudonym), who claimed to have worked sporadically at the Utah ranch from 2009 to 2010 as a security guard – 8 weeks on and off in total, in periods of two weeks at a time. If true, this would make it the first and only time in history when someone who was actually a staff member of BAASS has gone on the record!

What is interesting is that, now that 6 years have passed since that interview, we see that the information now coming out validates most of what Chip disclosed back then:

  • How their HQ was in Las Vegas, and at first they were flown from there to Utah, but eventually they had to rely on long drives to the ranch because all the contracted security personnel (who ALL had military clearance) were required to carry sidearms – something which didn’t make much sense to ‘Chip’ since his supposed job was to protect the property from trespassers, who largely consisted of UFO enthusiasts and local kids in search of a thrill and a place to drink… unless the weapons were intended to protect the lives of the guards from other threats.
  • Another reason why Chip didn’t think the owners weren’t obsessed with security was the fact that, according to him, by the time he worked on the ranch NONE of the cameras in the property were working. They were there just for show; perhaps BAASS had learned from the previous mistakes of NIDS in the futility of attempting surveillance on a phenomenon that doesn’t like to be spied on…
  • The time in which Bigelow’s organization had a massive hiring of staff (2009) with 50 to 60 people at their building in Las Vegas at their peak, followed by the layoffs of everyone involved by 2010, when they were told “they had lost their contract” – and according to ‘Chip’ the ones signing the paychecks were the NSA, something that was truly revelatory in 2012, but not anymore now that we have confirmation of the ties between BAASS and the DIA.
  • How he heard second-hand that at one point a few high-ranking military officers visited the ranch, and that they experienced something so disturbing – he never learned what – they ‘freaked out’ and demanded to be escorted out of the property immediately.
  • But the most important thing Chip disclosed – and the main purpose of this essay – is the complete lack of insight given by his former employer with regards to the background of the location he was supposedly protecting! “You are doing security” is all he and his companions were told, and they were ordered to patrol the perimeter 24/7 accompanied by dogs, which were not even true police K-9 units according to Chip, but just regular household pets. This would make one suspect the dogs were not used as an actual guarding tool, but as ‘bio-sensors’ intended to pick up anomalies earlier than their human counterparts thanks to their heightened senses. One thing his employers did tell Chip was that in the event of ‘seeing’ or ‘sensing’ anything strange, he was to “scan the area and take pictures.”
  • Chip did face a few anomalous things during his stay at the ranch: An unplugged stereo turning on by itself; feeling nauseous all of a sudden during one of his patrols, with the discomfort disappearing just as quickly as it began; he did not feel the ‘artificial fear’ reported in many paranormal accounts – which some investigators explain as a possible physiological response to infrasound frequencies – but at one point he did experience the hairs on the back of his neck raising for no apparent reason, during which his companion dog would ‘roll on its back’ in a submissive manner. Some of the photos he took also showed what seemed to be ‘glowing orbs’.
  • And the last important detail shared by Chip in that 2012 interview, was the fact that whenever the personnel saw or felt something strange, they were required to have urine tests and bring the vials back to Vegas by the end of their shift (!). Chip also mentioned ‘brain scans’ performed on the individuals, although they were never informed of the results of such tests.

This last part of his job convinced Chip that he was there at the Skinwalker ranch more as a ‘guinea pig’ than as a security guard. “They were testing us,” he said to Gene, Chris, David and Ryan on that Paracast episode. He thought that perhaps the military was trying out something new at the remote rural location, and he and his colleagues were used as lab rats without their consent. Indeed, it wouldn’t be the first time such unethical experiments have been carried out.

But in light of the new BAASS revelations, perhaps the real reason behind the secrecy and the monitoring of the effects of the personnel’s stay at the ranch was because instead of being exposed to an illegal experimental weapon, Chip and the others were used as a ‘readout system’ for the paranormal activity located inside the Utah property, and thus were told as little as possible in order not to create biased expectations on these men and on how they would react to whatever they might encounter. That would also explain the need keeping the security staff in constant rotation, and performing short-duration tours of just two weeks at a time.

If I’m right – and I will always be the first to admit I’m speculating, apart from the fact all of this comes from an anonymous source – then in the future we might see even more BAASS/AATIP endorsed revelations in the  mainstream media, and more people in high-ranking positions acknowledging the importance of taking UFOs seriously. But, we will probably also continue to have very little in terms of the BIG revelations obtained by Bigelow’s research team – so we who are well past being bedazzled by grainy gun camera videos would do well to keep prying deeper and demanding the real ‘juicy’ stuff to be addressed.

Yes we know UFOs exist and fighter pilots encounter them, dammit! But what about what was uncovered at Skinwalker ranch?? If American taxpayer’s dollars were indeed used for conducting research in the Utah property —which was sold by Bigelow’s company in April of 2016— then the American people have a right to find out more, or at very least to receive an official response from the DIA.

Conclusion

So here it is: My best effort to connect the dots and lift this exhausting, 90-lb kettlebell of a case, which sometimes has the face of a red-eyed Sasquatch, other times the face of a cigarette-smoking dogman, but most of the time it probably has a shape incomprehensible to the human mind…

If you managed to follow me this far and your brain hasn’t totally exploded yet, then congrats and fret not, because sooner or later it will. And when it does, you’ll be one step closer to that ghastly realization that steals the sleep of many in this field: that perhaps the reason why the true reality of the UFO phenomenon hasn’t been disclosed – and perhaps it never will – is not because unethical deeds have been performed in an attempt to grasp it by those in the shadows, or even the possibility that sometimes the phenomenon is actively hostile to humans; but because bringing to light what the phenomenon might be, and what it truly might represent could seriously threaten to obliterate EVERYTHING we take for granted, including the nature of Reality itself. That my friends, is far scarier than any  jumbo-sized wolf, bullet-proof or not.

Feeling sore yet, bro?

Skinwalker Gate