"Hunt for the Skinwalker" : A new challenge for the ET Hypothesis
Gildas Bourdais (with my thanks to Robert Durant for having corrected me)
international UFO Conference, Ireland, 23/24 September 2006)
: an important and provocative book
purpose of this talk is to present and discuss an important and provocative
book, published at the end of 2005,
with a bizarre title :
Hunt for the Skinwalker (I will explain it later). The subtitle is
more explicit : Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. It
was written by a biologist, Dr Colm Kelleher, Ph.D, and a journalist, George
Knapp, well known for his inquiries on UFOs. Kelleher holds a biochemistry
doctorate from the University of Dublin.
of the book
In a few words, Colm Kelleher and George Knapp reveal at last, in detail, the numerous strange phenomena which happened on a ranch in Utah, ranging from weird lights, poltergeist happenings in the farm house, to frightening, ghostly apparitions and cattle mutilations. These events were studied very discreetly, almost secretly, during several years by a scientific team of NIDS under the direction of Dr Kelleher. NIDS stands for “National Institute for Discovery Science”. It is a private organization which was set up in 1995 by a rich businessman from Las Vegas, Robert Bigelow, who happened to be interested in UFOs and related phenomena. Although NIDS is a purely private organization, it is known to have some working relations with governmental services, so that everything NIDS has said and published has been listened to with great attention. And, although Kelleher and Knapp insist that they are independent authors (Kelleher no longer works with NIDS), their book stands somehow as the NIDS account of these strange events. Let’s add that, after a decade of active studies by NIDS on UFOs and related subjects, such as cattle mutilations and abductions, Robert Bigelow has apparently closed inquiries on UFOs and has turned to space projects and studies, in relation with NASA, while keeping the NIDS web site freely accessible, with some very interesting reports.
site : http://www.nidsci.org/index2.html
In their book, Colm Kelleher and George Knapp tell how the NIDS team and its scientific board discussed the possible explanations of all these strange events, including “paranormal” theories, even the most esoteric ones, as we are going to see. What links the story to UFOs is the fact that a lot of observations were made of luminous orbs and silent flying objets of different shapes, including some typical UFO shapes. But they appeared and disappeared very strangely, an aspect which opens the question of paranormal phenomena. Another link is that the whole area, the Uinta basin in Utah, is, in their own words, “a heavyweight contender for UFO capital of the world. Since the 1950s, thousands of UFO sightings have been reported in the area, and it is estimated that half of the residents have seen anomalous objects in the sky.
Uintah valley, in Utah
the heart to the debate lies the question of the nature of UFOs, which has long
been debated. In the book Hunt for the Skinwalker, the classical “ET
hypothesis” is put in doubt by the authors, not only as an explanation for the
events on the ranch but, by
extension, for UFOs and related phenomena in general. They compare the
events at the Utah ranch with similar events which occurred in other places,
such as a ranch in Colorado, and in the area of Dulce, New Mexico. They also
compare them with Indian legends, such as otherwordly entities called “tricksters”,
and “skinwalkers”, which have the reputation of being malevolent. The whole
chapter five, entitled “The Curse”, is devoted to these legends, and it
explains the strange title of the book. We learn that the ranch has a bad
reputation among the Ute Indians of the area. A local researcher, named Hicks,
has told them that “they have stories about the place that go back fifteen
generations. They say the ranch is “in the path of the skinwalker” (p. 16).
The legend of the skinwalkers is present among several Indian tribes of the
American southwest, such as the Navajo, Hopi, and Utes. For them, it is “a
malevolent witch capable of being transformed into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird,
or any other animal” (p. 35). The skinwalker would be, not only what we call
now a “shape-shifter”, but it would be also
capable of mind control and other trickeries.
sculptures of skinwalkers
the end of the book, the authors seem to be in favor of
a rather esoteric point of view, refering notably to the ideas of Jacques
Vallée (who is a member of the NIDS scientific board) as an explanation valid
for the whole domain of ufology. Well, without denying the “paranormal”
aspects of their story, as they used to be called, I don’t agree with that
global explanation and I propose to discuss it in this article. But let’s
start with the beginning of the story: the strange events which happened at that
ranch in Utah.
- Various strange phenomena
The frightening incidents experienced by the farmer and his family, from 1994 to
late 1994, the Gorman family, Tom, Ellen and their children,
(not their real name) buys the ranch to raise cattle, and moves onto it.
It is vacant since several years although it’s a good land for cattle. They
are surprised to find heavy locks at all doors and windows when they move in.
farmer Tom Gorman
gate, and general view of the ranch
a few months, they begin to see balls of light of various colours, white, yellow
and blue, moving around the cattle and their home. They frequently observe
baseball-sized orbs, of bright blue color, “filled with swirling liquid,
electrically charged” (p. 142), which
dim the lights around when passing near the house. They see also strange clouds
“filled with exploding silent lights”.
Now here is one of the main aspects of the whole story. Several animals disappear without a trace. Others are found dead, mutilated. In all, Tom Gorman will lose 14 registered cattle out of a herd of eighty animals (p. 90), a severe financial loss. It is going to be one of the main subjects of study for NIDS.
day, a frightening incident happens. A huge “wolf”, actually much bigger
than a wolf, comes quietly close to
them across the field. When it is very close, it attacks a calf suddenly. They
shoot it but it is very hard to stop it, even with a powerful gun. Although it
has been hit by several bullets, enough to kill an elk, it just goes away
quietly and disappears in the woods. They follow the tracks of the animal, in
the mud close to a river, but suddenly they stop abruptly. It looks like an
unreal happening but they are sure to have badly wounded a real animal, which
has even lost a bit of flesh on the ground.
experience poltergeist activity in their home: doors slam, objects disappear and
are found later in another place, in or outside the house. Some incidents are
just like bad tricks. For instance,
they find the salt in the pepper shaker and vice versa. Another
time, Ellen Gorman finds, back on the kitchen table, all the groceries she had
carefull stacked in the cupboards (p. 239).
Sometimes, they hear voices laughing and mocking them in an unknown
and Ellen Gorman “reported separate sightings of a silent, hovering,
triangular craft that projected multicolored lights from its black frame”
(p.141). Gorman has also seen a “silent miniature version of the F-117 aircraft”,
moving slowly at less than 20 feet above the ground. On another evening, his
wife Ellen Gorman, when driving home, is “shadowed by a huge black triangular
craft” that paces 30 feet above the car.
silent UFO-like crafts have been observed in the area. One of their neighbours,
Gonsalez , has observed a UFO shaped like a Mexican hat. Another time, he
has seen a silvery disc which seemed to be “absorbed by the ridge” (p. 140).
This is an interesting observation which suggests the passage of the UFO in
Several times, the Gormans have seen ghostly creatures, like the legendary “bigfoot”, also called “sasquatch” by the Indians, prowling their property. They hear ominous growls, are nauseated by musk odors, and they see at the same time silent flying objects “shaped like a refrigerator”, hovering around, causing panic among the cattle, and disappearing suddenly.
seem to be similar to the “chupas” which attacked isolated people in the
in the Northeast of Brazil.
of a “chupa”, in Brazil : a similar phenomenon?
One of the most impressive and disturbing events was when they found four big bulls, each weighing more than two thousand pounds, locked, asleep, inside a trailer near the corral which had not been used in years. When they awakened, the bulls devastated the interior and it was a hell of a job to get them out of it.
time, Tom watches a herd of cows suddenly split as if something invisible is in
the middle of them. However, that invisible thing produces a powerful magnetic
field, detectable with his compass.
8 of the book, called “The Window”, reveals a series of outstanding
observations, which might be central to the whole story: the apparition of a
sort of circular “window”, floating in the sky. Let’s quote exactly the
first lines of the chapter :
all the extraordinary things that occurred at the Gorman ranch, the most common
involved the strange, unwordly orange structures that would appear in the
western sky. All family members saw these structures dozens of times. They would
appear in the sky and seemed to hover low over the cottonwood trees about a mile
see it, after nightfall, always roughly at the same place. One night, Tom Gorman
can see, inside the circle, what
looks to him like “another sky” : “Through the magnifying scope, he
distinctly saw a blue sky. On this particular night, the orange object looked
like it was a window into somewhere else where it was still daylight.” (p.
important point is that, one night, Gorman sees
a fast moving black object, growing rapidly at the center of the orange
“window. It seems to come out of the “hole” in the sky, and quickly
vanishes in the night. This convinces him that
it’s a kind of “dimensional doorway” through which objects can
enter and exit our reality. This is a central idea of the whole story, to which
I will return later.
is another incident which gives a definite impression of hostile manipulation by
whoever is behind it, pulling the strings. By June 1996, rumors were already
spreading of strange events on the ranch, and a visitor came to inquire about
them. A tall, quiet man, he engaged into a sort of meditation in the middle of a
field, his eyes closed and his arms raised. Suddenly, something began moving
rapidly in the nearby wood. Tom Gorman, who was there, could not make out the
shape but knew it was big. Suddenly, a blurred shape came out of the wood and
moved swiftly toward the man, stopped just in front of him and “let out a
deep-throated animal roar”, sounding half like a bear, half like a lion. The
stranger was terrified and started screaming hysterically. He left the property
in a state of panic and never came back.
In the summer of 1996, Tom Gorman and his family reach a breaking point. One day, Tom lets his three “favorite cattle dogs” pursue a “blue, baseball sized, flying orb. They follow it in a nearby wood, Gorman hears them yell, and hears them no more. Afraid, he will look for the dogs only in the morning in the wood, only to find them completely burned, incinerated.
At that point, the Gormans are so shocked and terrorized that they decide to sell the ranch. NIDS purchases the property in August of 1996 and decides to launch a scientific study there. The Gorman family moves 25 miles away but Tom agrees to come daily to take care of the ranch and the cattle, and to help the NIDS team.
Incidents observed in the presence of the NIDS team
the end of 1996 to the summer of 2004, a NIDS team led by Dr Colm Kelleher,
biochemist, installs a permanent laboratory with a lot of equipment. Their aim
is to gather data in the electromagnetic and magnetic regions, and of any UFO
lights in the visible and UV spectrum. They have portable equipment including a
light gathering device with Fresnel lenses, a spectrometer linked to a laptop
computer, night vision binoculars, video cameras with night vision attachments,
radio frequency analysers, microwaves detectors, etc (p. 100).
are going to observe many incidents, but will fail to make any decisive records
of them, with the exception of cattle mutilations. As early as 1997, an
independent article is published in
the American UFO Magazine (January/February, signed by reporter
Zack Van Eyck), but the NIDS team remains very discreet. They publish some
information on the NIDS website, especially a report on the cattle mutilation of
March 1997, but it is only in 2002 that they invite journalist George Knapp to
come to the ranch, and authorize him to talk about these events. He writes a
long, two-part article which is published in a Las Vegas newspaper, and
reproduced in several magazines. For instance, the British UFO Magazine (January
and February 2003), and the American UFO Magazine (April/May and June/July
2003). Together with the publication of their book at the beginning of this year,
the authors have also written an article in the internet magazine Sub Rosa
(No 4, March 2006).
observations by NIDS
what did they find? Within a few months after the beginning of their study, they
are confronted with strange, and often frightening incidents. Like the Gorman
family, they observe the same mysterious flying orbs, but fail to record them
clearly. They install a lot of surveillance and recording equipment but, every
time they are to the point of succeeding, the phenomenon eludes the trap and it
looks more and more like a game of cat and mouse. As they put it in their
article of March 2006, it looks like an elusive trickster was “a couple of
steps ahead at all times”, leaving an “occasional calling card in the
form of a brutally ripped up calf carcass, unusual tracks in the snow,
tantalizing infrared images, or that could wantonly destroy surveillance
equipment while leaving insufficient physical evidence behind that might
constitute a smoking gun”.
« Tunnel »
August 25, 1997, two members of NIDS, Jim and Mike (not their real names) are on
a night watch, on the edge of a bluff, a hundred feet above the pasture, where
some strange events have taken place before. Around 2:30 A.M., they begin to see
a faint light just above the ground, invisible to the eyes but visible through
powerful night vision binoculars, amplifying electronically low level ambient
light. It’s a dirty yellow light
which expands to form a kind of “tunnel”, about four feet in diameter.
Suddenly, Mike perceives a dark creature, at least six feet tall, crawling out
of it and walking away, whereupon the tunnel begins to shrink, and soon
disappears. However, his companion Jim claims to have only seen the light. And
although they have scientific equipment to measure radiation levels and magnetic
spikes, they fail to record anything unusual. They have taken pictures, but “the
photos were disappointing, showing only a single very faint blurry light in one
and nothing on the rest of the roll of film.”
they are left with no solid proof of that vision, but it does bring a clue,
together with the the “openings”seen in
the sky by the Gormans (not seen by
the NIDS team), in favour of exciting speculations about so called “other
dimensions”, which are discussed at length at the end of the book. One of the
main observations of the NIDS team, however, brings us back to a disturbing
aspect of the whole story, the cattle mutilations.
studied cases of Cattle Mutilations
is known that, since the end of the sixties, thousands of mutilation cases have
been reported in many areas of the United States, Canada and other countries. In
recent years, the phenomenon has spread extensively in South America. The state
of Utah, and the area of the Uintah basin, where the NIDS ranch is located, have
been plagued with many cases of cattle mutilations. Actually, it has been one of
the main areas in the country, and NIDS has investigated a number of cases there,
in addition to those at the ranch.
of mutilation cases studied by NIDS in Utah
At the Gorman ranch, the main event, directely witnessed and studied by NIDS, has been the killing and mutilation, on March 10, 1997, of a young calf, in broad daylight, during a brief absence of the team, gone on the other side of a hill, which lasted less than 45 minutes. It has been thorougly studied, kept under wraps for a while, but eventually published on the NIDS web site, and it is now exposed in detail in the book.
mutilated calf of March 10, 1997; close-up of ear
The book offers no explanation for these mysterious killings and mutilations. However, on the NIDS web site, Dr Kelleher has published an important study on the possible link of cattle mutilations with
Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE, icluding the BSE, or “mad cow disease”) in
North America. According to the study, there is a curious coincidence between
the areas of extension of the two phenomena. Kelleher speculates that the
purpose of these mutilations might be a surveillance of the illness, and also to
warn us about it. One thought comes
to mind, though: why not more cattle mutilations in countries where mad cow
disease has hit the most, such as England?
circle, and subterranean sounds
February 2002, as the various strange phenomena had “slowed to a mere trickle”,
a new incident took place: a perfect circle appeared overnight in a shallow,
ice-covered pond, not far from the main house.
By the way, there are other cases of formation of ice rings, in other places,
which may be compared to crop circles as well. What is the meaning of all that?
What is the “message”?
circle found on the NIDS ranch in 2002
examples of ice rings: Sweden, 1992; Ontario, 2000.
another chapter, discussing possible military involvement, the authors mention,
curiously, that “a local psychic who walked the property declared that the
circle had been produced by a technology that was located underground” (p. 224).
is the moment to mention another curious aspect of the story. The Gormans said
that they often heard sounds of heavy machinery or metal equipment coming from
under the earth. And the previous owners had warned them to avoid any digging!
(p. 224). In retrospect, it is curious that the book does not give more
information about these mysterious previous owners. They seemed to know
a lot about the ranch, and might have helped the NIDS study.
the way, such bizarre sounds have been heard, allegedly,
in other places, like the San Luis Valley
and the “Four Corners” area. The San Luis Valley, located in the
south of Colorado, has been another prominent area for many strange phenomena:
especially UFOs, odd balls of light, and cattle mutilations. This is where the
first publicized case of mutilation
happened, the one of the little horse Snippy (in fact, named Lady) in 1967.
Christopher O’Brien, who has written a book of these events, The Mysterious
Valley (1996), reports a testimony of strange noises, loud humming and deep
rumbling, heard close to the ground, in the area of the Great Sand Dunes (p.
The Mysterious Valley, and map
of the story, and the question of secrecy
fact that the NIDS team observed many strange incidents like those reported by
the Gorman family gives a high credibility to the whole story. There are also
testimonies from neighbours of the ranch. On the other hand, it would have been
also interesting to find the previous owners of the ranch and learn their own
story. Some neighbors who knew them felt that they had somehow learned to accept
these phenomena and live with them.
may regret, however, that the book does not give any precise, scientific data
collected on the ranch, such as magnetic recordings,or even pictures of the
lights balls and orbs. For instance, there are many pictures, stills and videos,
of light balls in connection with crop circles. So, why not at the NIDS ranch,
with all their sophisticated equipment? Perhaps because, according to Tom Gorman,
as soon as the NIDS team arrived at the ranch, the phenomena became much more
elusive, as if the “intelligence” behind them had become much more cautious.
However, Colm Kelleher admits that they do have recorded material, so the
question arises: why don’t they publish them? Are they classified material ?
During all these years, the NIDS investigation at the ranch remained quite
confidential, fueling accusations of secrecy.
book, because of the lack of precise documentation, does not put an end
completely to these rumors. It is a matter of public knowledge that NIDS had
close links with the military. This is demonstrated, notably, by the presence of
Colonel Alexander in the scientific board, a man with a long career in secret
– Theories, and speculations: parallel universes ? paranormal phenomena ?
their book, Colm Kelleher and George Knapp address a lot of ideas and
speculations which might explain,according to them, the strange events at the
NIDS ranch. Two main lines are discussed:
first, the idea of “other dimensions”, and the concepts of
“parallel” universes, which have been proposed in several theories of
second, the nature of the beings, or “entities”, who
are behind these strange phenomena.
1 Parallel universes and other “dimensions”
Colm Kelleher and George Knapp have devoted a significant and interesting part of their book to the question of parallel universes and “other dimensions”. They refer to several scientific theories which have been developed over many years about the existence of one, or several, so called “parallel” universes. Let’s recall briefly the main ones, and see how they are viewed in the book.
based on the General Theory of Relativity
best known theory is the one of “traversable wormholes”, imagined in 1985 by
the American physicist Kip Thorne, of Cal Tech, at the request of his friend
Carl Sagan, who used it in his famous novel Contact. It is based on
Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and it is a real scientific
speculation by a reputable physicist. In a few words, there may exist a way to
go from one part of the universe to
another, or from one universe to another, parallel one, through a
“hole” made in in the fabric of
space-time, dubbed “wormhole”, and passing through a “hyperspace”, or
four dimensional space, such as in these figures taken from the famous book of
physicist Michio Kaku Hyperspace :
of “wormholes” (Michio Kaku, Hyperspace)
It is a fascinating concept but everyone admits that, at best, we are a very long way from being able to engineer one. It would require, to begin with, a colossal amount of “exotic” or “negative” energy, just to keep it open, and nobody knows how that could be done, although it has become a standard way for space travel in science-fiction movies! It would also require our universe to be “curved” (the curvature of space in Einstein’s theory), but all astronomical observations suggest that, apparently, it is flat, actually!
and curved space (Scientific American)
It’s worth noting here, however, that physicist Eric Davis, who worked for NIDS, has written a paper, delivered at the MUFON symposium of 2001, entitled “Wormhole-Stargates: tunneling through the cosmic neighborhood” (it is also on the NIDS website). In it, Davis boldly describes what such a wormhole could be and seems confident that we may achieve that someday, by tapping into a fantastic source of power, the so-called “zero point energy”. He notes that, “of the more than 650 cases investigated by NIDS, several dozen clearly portend wormhole manifestations”, and he includes in the list, unsurprisingly, the phenomena observed at the Utah ranch.
Let’s mention here that there are other testimonies of similar phenomena, suggesting the opening of “holes”, or “gates” to other dimensions. Here are three exemples, very briefly.
to Linda Howe, in her book Glimpses of Other Realities (volume I , p.
299), “some people report seeing translucent beings, balls of light, and
shadow beings who emerge through “tears” or “holes” in the air of their
bedroom, or come through walls, windows and other solid objects”. Here is a
drawing of such an observation, made in California by Linda Porter.
of a “hole” in Linda Howe’s book Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol.
is another exemple, of a “gate” which opened in the sky, above meditating
witnesses. One of them actually travelled briefly in the hole and had a glimpse
of an unknown landscape on the other side.
on the formation of a “hole”, and a glimpse of the other side
here is a third testimony, this one in relation with crop circles in Wiltshire.
to Michael Hesemann, in his book Messages,
in the evening of July 9, 1998,
several witnesses saw helicopters going after a ball of light, at West Woods.
Another witness, the farmer Terry Butcher, of Alton Barnes, saw a kind of tunnel
opening in the clouds, as if something big was passing through it, and then the
tunnel disappeared. The next day, a pictogram was discovered near Alton Barnes
(pp. 77 to 80, French edition).
« Polarizable-vacuum »
Davis also mentions an “alternative theory of gravity” proposed by the
American physicist Harold Puthoff, known as the “polarizable-vacuum (PV)
representation of general relativity, which treats the vacuum as a
polarizable medium”. According to Davis, Puthoff’s PV model is “
the only alternative theory of gravity which has been successfully applied to
explain the physical, anti-physical and physiological characteristics and
performances” which have been reported in UFO cases. These theories are also
mentioned in the book of Kelleher and Knapp, but they seem to favour another
concept, the so-called “many worlds theory”, or “multiverse”, which
derives from the second pillar of physics, the Quantum physics. By the way, this
idea of “multiverse” has also been promoted by Jacques Vallée, member of
the scientific board of NIDS, in his books and articles.
Physics and the model of parallel universes
Kelleher and George Knapp present that theory, first in their chapter 29
“Other Worlds”, and they insist on it in
their epilogue. To make it short, let’s say that it is probably the strangest
theory, and the hardest to swallow, ever conceived in the history of modern
physics. It was first proposed by Hugh Everett and John Wheeler in 1957 and it
postulates that, according to quantum mechanics, quoting one of the present
promoters of the theory, Max Tegmark, in Scientific American (May 2003):
“random quantum processes cause the universe to branch into multiple copies,
one for each possible outcome”. The result, would be that there exist an
infinite number of parallel universes, some of which could differ from ours by minute details, like
in science-fiction stories such as the TV series Sliders and Stargate!
One of the many questions raised by this fantastic theory is whether it is
possible to go from one parallel universe to another. Again, through “wormholes”,
with wormholes (Kaku, Hyperspace); cover of Scientific American
with Tegmark’s article
their epilogue, Kelleher and Knapp claim that this theory, which was at first
highly controversial, is now approved by a majority of physicists : “This
concept is known as the multiverse or many worlds theory, and it has gained
widespread acceptance in scientific circles” (p. 276). They cite the above
mentioned article of Max Tegmark in Scientific American, and other
reputed physicists such as David Deutsch (in his book The Fabric of Reality),
and Michio Kaku. True enough, Kaku seems to approve it in his book Visions:
How Science will revolutionize the 21st Century
actually, a number of other scientists seem reticent about it, notably the
promoters of the famous “superstrings theory”, which attemps to reunite the
two pilars of physics. One of them is the young physicist Brian Greene, who has
written two brillant books on these theories, The Elegant Universe in
1999, and The Fabric of Cosmos (2004). To him,
there may be other solutions, more “economical”, so to speak, to this
paradox of quantum physics. For, instance the theory of the British physicist
David Bohm, of “non local physics”. To him, there is no theory favored by a
majority of scientists today, and the problem remains unsolved (p. 254 of the
French edition). In addition to that, there
is also a place for parallel worlds in the string theories!
of the two books of Brian Greene
theories, “M” theory, and and
the model of parallel “Brane
theory of “strings”, or superstrings”, is actually a family of several
theories, with an already long history since the sixties. To make it short again,
lets’s mention the most recent stage of its evolution, which has been
formulated mainly by Edward Witten, at Princeton, and is called the “M”,
theory. According to it, the universe is made of
eleven dimensions, but we do live in a three dimensional space (four
dimensions with time), called a “Brane” which is a diminutive of
“membrane”. However, there may be another Brane, or parallel world, which
would never touch us but could be very close to us! It would manifest itself
only by gravitanional effects. It might explain the mystery of missing matter,
or “dark energy”, which is one of the big mysteries of today’s astronomy.
And, here we go again, according to some, it might be posible to go from one membrane to another,
passing by an hyperspace of ten dimensions, called this time the “bulk”.
Note that, in this theory, the two parallel membranes are flat. Incidentally, it
would allow for time travelling as well, according to Heinrich Päs, quoted in
the New Scientist (20 may
in hyperspace between two Branes (New Scientist, 20 may 2006)
to Brian Greene and others, there are still other developments to expect for
these theories, for instance the “Quantum Loop gravity”, and maybe new ones
that we have not heard yet about, so that the situation seems to be very open.
As for our nagging question of interdimensional UFOs and related phenomena, the
bottom line seems to be, for the time being, that we don’t know yet, really,
how they come and go!…
being said, the other nagging question is : “who are the authors of these
strange phenomena, and what is their “agenda” ? As I said, Kelleher and
Knapp present some ideas which all tend to put aside the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
– 2 Who is there ? Aliens,
otherwordly beings, or what else ?
Colm Kelleher and George Knapp think, like many other authors, that the classical ETH hypothesis falls short of explaining things, and they favour “paranormal” theories, about so called “otherwordly” beings and entities coming from other “dimensions”. So, we are back to the old question: “ET or not ET?”. Let’s see what their arguments are.
their chapter 25, entitled “Hypotheses”, the authors start with this
question: “Were UFOs flying over the Utah ranch, or was the ranch haunted?
”, and they review various hypotheses. They quickly discard hoaxes, delusions,
and unexplained natural phenomena such as the “tectonic strain theory” of
Michael Persinger. They mention the
idea of an ancient, very advanced, terrestrial civilization (human, presumably),
but they don’t insist, and I won’t either. Then comes the big question of
Extraterrestrials, which they present as “the best known, but not necessarily
the most credible, model for multiple anomalous phenomena” (p. 215). It seems
very difficult for them to conceive of an agenda for a group of
extraterrestrial visitors, choosing such a remote and out-of-the-way
location. They refer to the “standard model” of the ET hypothesis, the
aliens flying “nuts-and-bolts” spacecraft, and consider that “the events
at the ranch yielded insufficent data to support or eliminate this hypothesis”,
although some of the events “very much fit the standard description of UFOs”.
Colm Kelleher admits that he has seen one himself with a colleague: “a
silent, extremely fast moving object coming from the north and rapidly executing
a perfect loop over the command and control center before returning north”. (p.
They consider the idea of “smart probes”, supposedly sent from interstellar distances, but they discard it on the basis of a test proposed in the 1990s by aerospace enginer Roy Dutton who claimed to be able to specify the exact spot and date of the appearance of such anomalous aerial phenomena. And guess what? The Utah ranch failed that test! Another argument of the authors against the ETH is that, to this day, nobody has found any artifacts – physical or biological – of proven extraterrestrial origin. They also discard rapidly the hypothesis of “ancient astronauts”, which is, for them, “not supported by any physical data”.
Arguments in favor of the ETH
I am sorry to say that I find this argumentation very weak. In my opinion, it
fails to consider seriously the vast amount of information gathered over the
last sixty years on UFOs, on which has been built a strong and convincing case
for the presence of, not one, but more probably several alien civilizations,
some of them present, arguably, for a long time on our planet. In France, a
group of senior scientists and military experts have said that, very clearly, in
the COMETA Report, in 1999.
There are strong indications about the reality of physical crafts of alien origin, made by non-human, scientifically advanced, civilizations. Whether they come from a planet of this world or from a “parallel” world, does not change their nature of real, physical alien beings who have come to Earth, for some purpose.
are strong testimonies, for instance, about the UFO crash near Roswell, and
possibly others, such as the Ubatuba case in Brazil. Fragments of a UFO were
collected and studied. A first analysis revealed very pure magnesium with a
specific weight above normal, but the matter was later confused with other
analyses in the United States. The story has been told by physicist Paul Hill in
his remarkable book Unconventional Flying Objects. I have told the story
in this article :
are many testimonies about secret studies on retrieved crafts and bodies, and
even about contacts with live aliens, etc. There are even credible testimonies
about the existence of alien bases on Earth, or close to Earth, about abductions
by alien beings (including, for instance, implants such as those retrieved by Dr
Roger Leir, some of which were studied with the help of NIDS!). And there are
many cases of cattle mutilations linked with observations of UFOs.
is ironic that the NIDS team has made very convincing studies on mutilations, at
the Utah ranch and elsewhere. A simple question is: who could have done that, if
not aliens? Ghosts? Demons? Otherwordly beings? Supernatural entities?
if we go to the heart of the matter, we must be aware that there are many
convincing testimonies and documents proving the existence of a strict policy of
secrecy on UFOs, led mainly by the American government since the first wave of
1947, and followed, more or less, by
many other countries. It is impossible, of course, to go into more detail, here,
about all these huge UFO files. However, at this point, Kelleher and Knapp open
the door to various, so called “paranormal” theories, excluding ETs.
theories favoured by the authors.
The idea that the strange phenomena at the Utah ranch are of a “paranormal” nature runs continuously through the whole book. The authors refer to many aspects, beginning with old indian legends such a the mysterious “skinwalker”, as we have seen already. For the Ute Indians, the ranch is clearly a haunted place, filled with dark, evil energies. For them, it is “in the path of the Skinwalker”, a malevolent force, to be avoided. These are quasi-religious, “supernatural” beliefs, and similar interpretations are found among religious, fundamentalist believers, for whom such manifestations have to be the work of demons.
the authors don’t stop here, and they turn to some more sophisticated,“paranormal”
theories. In their chapter 28, called “Other Dimensions”, they discuss the
ideas of several authors, the main ones being:
Jacques Vallée and his hypothesis of a mysterious “control system”
pulling the strings for a long time, with an obscure agenda;
John Keel and his no less mysterious theory of “ultraterrestrials”,
whatever that means;
Patrick Harpur and his intriguing concept of “Daimonic reality”,
which is derived from the belief in “Daimons” of the ancient Greeks;
and also Michael Grosso and his concept of
these ideas present variations around the concept of “interdimensional beings”,
of creatures who are not necessarily physical, and who have inscrutable agendas
(p. 238). Let’s remark here that there is a long history of thinking along
such lines, in esoterical traditions. And they were present since the very
beginning of ufology, after World War II, with authors such as Meade Layne, of
San Francisco, who believed in “etheric realms” and saw UFOs as “ether
In addition to that, in their chapter 30, called “Inner Worlds”, the authors explore possible connections of these phenomena with human consciousness, citing again Harpur, Grosso, Kenneth Ring and his study of near death experiments, and they also turn toward meditation and shamanism. They mention an advice of the NIDS science Advisory Board about the possible existence of a “sentient, precognitive, non-human intelligence”. They also introduce here the ideas of Dr John Mack about “other realms or dimensions”, “alternate realities” , “doorways to spiritual evolution”, and the “innerworld nature of the experiencers”.
the end of the book, they refer again to Jacques Vallée and his hypothesis of a
technologically advanced “control system” which may reside on this planet,
be responsible for the display of UFOs, and which seems to operate for reasons
that are opaque, and mysterious. It may have “an agenda to educate human
societies over an extended period of time” (p. 255). The appearances of the
Virgin Mary at Fatima and Lourdes might be examples of
this control system’s productions. Kelleher and Knapp raise this
question: “Were the events at the Utah ranch another one of its
productions”? And they admit at
the end their confusion: “It’s as if some cosmic puppet master had
written a laundry list of every spooky phenomenon of modern times and then
unleashed them all in a single location, resulting in a supernatural smogasborg
that no one could possibly believe, even less understand.” (p 270).
are interesting pages of the book, which remind us of the writings of Jacques
Vallée, who has obviously influenced them. However, even though I
would subscribe to some of these ideas, I remain perplexed by this general line
of thinking which seems bent on the rejection of the ETH. My basic question
remains: Why not aliens, extraterrestrial beings
? If such beings can master other dimensions and travel through them, does that
mean that they are no longer physical beings, of extraterrestrial origin? And,
why could not there be a coexistence of both kinds of entities and phenomena,
real and physical, or “supernatural”? Jerome Clark suggests that, more or
less, in an article of the International UFO Reporter, called “The core
phenomenon and the secondary phenomenon” (IUR, Vol 30, Number 4). In
his view, we should probably avoid mixing these two kinds of “anomalies”. On
the other hand, I would add that many UFO events comprise aspects of “high
strangeness”, of which the case of the Utah ranch gives us a good example. So,
the distinction between real-physical and supernatural phenomena is not an easy
one. My personal feeling is that they all pertain to one and same world.
conclude my critique of the book, I propose a glimpse at the events which
happened on another ranch, this one in Colorado in 1975. They were studied by
APRO and several scientists, and they may point to another perspective. The
story is told at length in the book of Timothy Good Alien Contact (1993,
chapter “Colorado Breakthrough”). Kelleher
and Knapp also tell that curious story in their book.
Alien Contact, of Timothy Good
briefly, the owners of that ranch went through many frightening experiences,
akin to those of the Utah ranch, such as Bigfoot creatures, strange noises,
disc-shaped objects flying slowly in front of the house, etc. And cattle
mutilations. The local police did not want to hear any more about that. A
policeman told them that they knew what it was: the work of extraterrestrials,
and that they could do nothing about it! One evening, a voice was heard, in
their home, through their TV speakers, saying : “Attention! We have allowed
you to remain”, and recommending them to keep quiet about the events.
Another evening, having noticed lights in the woods, they went to see what it
was. They found two beings, of human appearance, waiting for them in the light.
These beings spoke to the main witness by his name and told him: “How nice
of you to come!” At a short distance, there was a disc on the ground. They
apologized for the inconvenience they had caused and promised some “more
equitable arrangement”, which actually never came. They did not really give
any information on themselves and their role, except maybe this one, as the main
witness said: “The only thing I found out for sure is that this big fuzzy
thing, “Bigfoot”, obeys the commands”. So, that “Bigfoot” would just
be a kind of creature of the aliens!
to Timothy Good, the opinion of the owner of the ranch in Colorado is that there
is some kind of permanent alien installation located on the ranch. He points out
that it offers a perfect view on a nearby military installation, and he feels
that they are watching our military potential. (p. 70).
find that story very interesting, when you consider the big UFO file of
surveillance of military installations, especially of nuclear bases. As for the
Utah ranch studied by NIDS, let’s recall that the Gormans heard several times
strange noises of big machinery which seemed to come from underground. Was it
just another trick of the “skinwalker” kind, or was there more to it? What
was really going on, at and under the NIDS ranch? As a conclusion, I would like
to say that Hunt for The Skinwalker
is a very interesting book, but which leaves the reader perplexed,
with a lot of unanswered questions.
Sources of the illustrations
of George Knapp, and of the NIDS ranch, in UFO Magazine (GB) of January
and February 2003, and in UFO Magazine (US) of
January-February 1887, of
April-May 2003, and of June-July 2003.
Navajo sculptures of skinwalkers, in the book Navajo Folk Art. The people Speak, by Chuck and Jan Rosenak (1994).
Drawing of a chupa, in Brazil, in the review UFO of A.-J. Gevaerd.
Photos of mutilations on the NIDS ranch, and map of cases studied by NIDS, in the study on the NIDS web site: “Unexplained Cattle Deaths and the Emergence of a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Epidemic in North America”.
Drawing of Linda Porter, in Linda Howe, Climpses of Other Realities, Vol. 1.
Drawings of “wormholes”: in the book of Michio Kaku Hyperspace (1994, in Scientific American, vol 1” N° 1 (2003), and May 2003 ( Tegmark article).
Article of Marcus Chown with the drawing “Time travelling in hyperspace”, in The New Scientist of May 20, 2006.
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