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In the last 16 months or so the UFO online community has seemed to divide itself into two separate camps: those who are very supportive of Tom DeLonge and the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Scienceand everyone else.

The disagreement between the two groups can turn pretty acrimonious on social media, where DeLonge’s apologists are very actively spreading memes suggesting that UFO Disclosure is ‘just around the corner, while attacking those who beg to differ –don’t believe me? You can put that to the test only by tweeting some rant aimed at DeLonge, Luis Elizondo or their company. You’ll attract the attention of TTSA trolls quicker than it takes to say “alien alloys” three times fast…

The fights over Twitter and Facebook is partly a direct result of a lack of any meaningful new information released by To the Stars as of late. Mainstream media, which was evidently taken by surprise when that famous NYT article broke the story of the formerly black-budgeted Pentagon program that studied UFO reports (under the umbrella of ‘aerial threats’), switched gears somewhat and started to take the topic of unidentified flying objects somewhat seriously for the first time in decades, before the Robertson panel succeeded in making it a laughing stock and unworthy of any genuine contemplation. But the AATIP revelation was more than a year ago, and since there hasn’t really been any significant update –and NO, a few more additions to the Tic-Tac or the Gimbal sightings don’t count, because those are all yesterday’s news and the public always demands something fresh– by now Newsweek and other news outlets are back to treating UFOs with the same level of contempt they always had. Exhibit (A): This recent article reporting on former Senator Harry Reid’s warning that America’s enemies (China and Russia) are probably seeking to take an advantage over the United States by devoting resources to the study of UFOs. The article puts a rather negative spin on the topic, and even makes a veiled jab at the infamous story of the ‘giant bulletproof wolf’, which has become the most notorious element of the Skinwalker ranch mythology.

That’s right: despite the backing of the former majority leader in the Senate, and the brave testimony of Commander Fravor, UFOs are once again nothing but a big joke.

“It doesn’t matter, soon those naysayers will be eating their words!” cry the true believers of the TTSA gospels, who are absolutely certain we’re actually entering into a post-Disclosure era. Um, excuse me? Call me capricious, but maybe my expectations are a tad higher, since I’m pretty sure an ‘official disclosure’ of the UFO reality by the powers that be would involve something more than a handful of positive newspaper articles, a couple of grainy black-and-white videos, and the support of one former Senator. In all his flurry of angry Tweeting aimed at his numerous enemies, when has president Trump ever mentioned the topic of UFOs?

To someone like me, who’s been studying the UFO enigma for over 30 years, what probably frustrates me the most about the TTSA advocates’ naiveté is their apparent ignorance with regards to the actual history of UFO investigation. If humanity is a species with amnesia, as Graham Hancock is fond of reminding us, then UFOlogy is a discipline that keeps reinventing itself from scratch every time a new technology comes along that helps spread the latest sighting reports and ‘UFO porno’ to the masses. First there were books, magazines and radio programs; then came television; then the Internet revolutionized things by making communication even more democratized, and from email newsletters, bulletin board forums and chat rooms, we rapidly evolved to blogs and now to Twitter threads, Facebook walls and Subreddits.

Each adoption of new technology brings forth a generation of enthusiasts eager to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and teaching the old guard ‘how things should be done’, while leaving behind considerable data in the form of out-of-print books and faded fanzines locked away in some dusty basement. And with all these varied forms of communication, there has always been someone proclamating the latest flap of sightings as ‘proof’ of the imminent landing of the Space Brothers, and that the president ‘is just getting ready’ to reveal the UFO presence to the entire world, once and for all –from Truman to Obama, every American administration has been labeled at one point or another as the ‘Disclosure government’ by the unrelenting supplicants of official acknowledgement. Every small wink in favor of the topic made by some social institution is boosted as ‘confirmation’ that the big reveal is about to occur, when true believers will be able to finally yell “I told you so!” to their unbelieving parents, mocking friends and estranged exes.

But Disclosure die-hard fans should do well in heeding the words of the ‘greybeards’ of the tribe who keep advising them to curb their enthusiasm. And perhaps there’s no better cautionary tale to illustrate this than the story of Joe Firmage.

Firmage is not a name that you hear often in current UFO discussions, and yet he –like Tom DeLonge–was all the rage some 20 years ago.  Back then he was highly regarded as a cybernetic ‘wunderkid’ during the wild years of the dotcom revolution, after having founded the billion-dollar-worth company USWeb in 1995 and becoming a millionaire before turning 30. Like so many other early online ventures, USWeb eventually went down in 2001 when the first dotcom bubble burst, but not before Firmage stepped down as CEO in 1998 –voluntarily, according to him in an interview— due to a series of scandalous revelations which seemed to have made the stockholders shudder: Firmage claimed that just before USWeb had its IPO in 1997, he experienced a sort of ‘visitation’ from a luminous being inside his bedroom:

As I snoozed, something amazing happened. A remarkable being, clothed in brilliant white light, appeared hovering over my bed in my room. He had dark hair and a beard, I believe.

He looked rather annoyed, and asked “Why have you called me here?”

I answered without a moment’s pause: “I want to travel in space.” This was always my lifelong dream, and it naturally came out in a state of semi-waking thought.

He chuckled skeptically, paused, and asked “Why should you be granted such an opportunity?”

I responded without hesitation, in the only way I could have responded given my life to that time:

“Because I’m willing to die for it!”

Once he gave his heartfelt answer, a small glowing sphere of blue color and pulsating with electrical energy emerged from the radiant being and entered Firmage’s body.

It is important to understand the circumstances of this experience: at the time Firmage was severely sleep-deprived and under a lot of stress due to the important step his company was about to undertake (going public). He had also spent the night prior reading scientific papers dealing with the possible link between zero-point energy and gravity –although not a scientist by formal training, Firmage is said to have an uncanny understanding of modern physics, and was always fascinated with the possibility of interstellar travel. But If the scene with the glowing figure seems somewhat familiar to you, it is because of its eerily similarity to the alleged encounter of Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni, which became the cornerstone of the Church of the Saints of the Latter Days. Firmage was born October 26, 1970 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was raised in a Mormon household. After his ‘angelic encounter’ ended, Firmage called his dad, who eventually confessed he had had a similar experience when he was younger.

Just like Smith, Firmage became a man with a mission from on high. He wrote a mammoth book bombastically titled “The Truth”, in which he was hoping to gather enough evidence of extraterrestrial visitation taken place for at least 2000 years, in order to convince key individuals in the higher echelons of power (Sekret Machines anyone?). He gave TV interviews like the one in the video clip above –in which the reporter rudely asked him if he was seeking to create a ‘UFO cult’ like Heaven’s Gate— and claimed to be in contact with ‘insiders’ who have privately confirmed to him that Roswell had been real, and that a crashed saucer had been recovered by the US Military in 1947 (sound familiar?). He seemed to give credence to the infamous MJ-12 papers and “The Day After Roswell”, a controversial book written by Philip Corso in which the development of many modern technologies like fiber optics and computer transistors were the result of ‘seeding’ alien artifacts from the New Mexico crash among several laboratories and military contractors –a claim that is highly disputed by science historians, but that was all the rage back in the day among UFO enthusiasts, which eventually managed to seep into pop culture:

In 1998 Firmage also founded the International Space Sciences Organization –with $3 million of his own money– which (just like To the Stars) eventually changed its name to the International Academy of Science and Arts. And just like To the Stars, INTERNASA was seeking to develop ‘breakthrough’ anti-gravity technologies –with the help of financial partners– with the potential to revolutionize the world overnight.

The wheel took us from village to village. The combustion engine took us from town to town. The wing took us from continent to continent . . . Now, Propellant-free Propulsion can take us from world to world, in a fraction of the time limited by present theories. This potential breakthrough in advanced physics has been quietly developed, carefully engineered and rigorously tested in our labs, for nearly two decades. In other words, advanced technology that could whisk you to the Moon by lunch, thrust you to Mars by dinner, and then deliver you safely back home to Earth by the next morning.

Sounds too good to be true? Probably because it was. Even though the video alluded that INTERNASA was on the brink of achieving a ‘quantum leap’ with their technology by October of 2015, as of today the most recent information found on their website are press announcements alluding to financial problems and legal settlements with some of their former ventures, like ManyOne Networks –which declared Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on October 12, 2009. Aside from an automatic countdown clock that reached 00:00 without any fanfare, there’s no further update on the anti-gravity engine that would allow a safe trip to the Moon “in less than five minutes”, and a trip to Mars “in less than 2 hours.”

Another connecting link between DeLonge and Firmage seems to be Hal Puthoff. Puthoff is vice-president of TTSA’s Science and Technology division; he’s also the CEO of EarthTech International, Inc. (ETI), and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin (IASA). In a 1998 interview , Firmage enthusiastically shows to the reporter “a spiral-bound sheaf of Xeroxes–scientific papers written by Harold E. Puthoff.” Whether those papers were specifically commissioned by Firmage’s organization is not specified in the article, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume Puthoff was willing to collaborate with him, and submit his scientific knowledge in order to speculate on the physics that could allow anti-gravity fields and faster-than-light propulsion, just like he’s currently doing with To the Stars and how he also did for Bigelow’s BAASS when the Vegas tycoon held the AATIP contract –even though such speculations are currently not taken seriously by most science commentators and physicists.

“This is not crackpot. This is not the Maharishi saying we’re going to use spirit energy to fly off the ground—this is real physics. But this is not something that’s going to connect with engineering anytime soon, probably anytime ever.” ~Sean Carroll

Contactees have been trying to attain anti-gravity with rotating magnets and electrostatic energy following the instructions of the Space Brothers since the 1950’s. In one of his book, Whitley Strieber wrote that he too tried to build a DIY ‘flying saucer engine’ that resulted in a fire that almost burned his parents’ Texan home to the ground. Canadian investigator Wilbert Smith was conducting similar experiments under the guidance of an alleged UFO entity called AFFA, which resulted in a tremendous explosion inside his lab –fortunately AFFA was said to have alerted Smith just in time that something was off with the magnets, which prevented human casualties.

Otis T. Carr’s plans for a ‘flying machine’, allegedly based on Tesla’s theories. None of his prototypes ever worked, and he ended up in jail.

The main point of this long exposition is not to accuse DeLonge, Elizondo or Puthoff; but simply to recommend those who unquestioningly re-circulate TTSA and AATIP-related content to exercise a bit of critical thinking, and to take their promises of crowd-funding man-made UFOs with a huge grain of salt. Because, unwittingly or not, TTSA is following INTERNASA’s script almost to the letter, and DeLonge fans risk to become as disappointed as those who read Firmage’s “The Truth” 20 years ago and expected Bill Clinton to become ‘the Disclosure president’.

The UFO community needs to stop being a ‘reinventing’ discipline and learn from its history, otherwise it will be forever doomed to see their hopes crushed every time someone ‘with contacts in the inside’ promises that this year –for realz, this time!– ‘The Truth’ will be finally revealed. Meanwhile we’re still facing serious problems caused by our own stupidity and neglect, and no anti-gravity, zero-point silver-bullet is going to fix that.

As for Joe Firmage, he seems to have disappeared from the public scene –a Twitter account under his name has just ONE Tweet– and googling his name brings up scarce recent information, aside from alleged DUI charges. Not as terrible a fate as Joseph Smith, who ended up lynched by an angry mob in 1844, but still a sad end for someone who was probably genuinely eager to help bring about a positive change in the world due to a very powerful, personal revelation. Despite his own brilliance, perhaps he failed to recognize the deep deceptions embedded in the UFO mystery, and paid the price of his own naivety.

And yet, who knows? Maybe Firmage’s text didn’t manage to kickstart the chain reaction of openness he was looking for, yet it could still have found a receptive audience among those who choose to pursue the UFO subject in a more, shall we say, ‘covert’ manner. In her recently published book American Cosmic, Dr. Diana Walsh Pasulka explains that her trip to visit the Vatican was financed by ‘an anonymous philanthropist’ who was interested in the ‘levitating abilities’ of Joseph of Cupertino, a famous Catholic saint. Dusting off my ole tinfoil hat for a moment, could it be this ‘philanthropist’ was Firmage, seeking to perhaps uncover a missing piece needed to unravel the secret of antigravity amid the tattered manuscripts guarded inside the Vatican archives? That might help to explain why Pasulka shows an interest in “The Day After Roswell” in her book, and why she ended up visiting an undisclosed location in the New Mexico desert (not Roswell) where the crash of a disk of non human origin took place.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Strange than the name associated with a flying monk, is now associated to the birth of Apple, Inc…

As with many other questions surrounding the UFO mystery (yes, including even Disclosure itself) the truth may yet to be revealed someday, just like Firmage hoped for. Just don’t hold your breath while you wait.