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The Psychology of Dreamland (Groom Lake Area 51) page 2

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posted on Jun, 18 2004 @ 09:25 PM
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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DREAMLAND How Secrecy is Destroying Public Faith in Government and Science By Terry Hansen © 1995 -- page 2 Weird Science Readers who are old enough to remember the 1960s may dimly recall that, in 1966, when the Air Force had exhausted its credibility with the public over the persistent UFO issue, the Secretary of Defense turned the matter over to physicist Edward Condon at the University of Colorado. Like Donald Menzel, Condon was a respected scientist with impressive credentials and a history of secret military work. He had been director of the National Bureau of Standards and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. At last, it seemed at the time, the UFO issue was to get its long-overdue day in the court of science. Soon after this investigation got started, however, Condon began to behave in a most unscientific manner. Long before the results of his study were made public, Condon started giving speeches ridiculing UFO witnesses and the subject in general. Scientists both inside and outside the investigation team found this behavior very upsetting--as they should have. But what really upset insiders was the discovery of a memo from project coordinator Robert Low indicating that the investigation planned to trick the public and scientific community by focusing on the psychology and sociology of UFO witnesses, rather than investigating the physical reality of the UFOs themselves. This was the last straw for team psychologist David Saunders who leaked the Low memo to the press. This action ultimately resulted in his dismissal by Condon for "insubordination." Saunders, with reporter Roger Harkins, later wrote a fascinating expos? of the whole twisted affair called UFOs? Yes! Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong (New York: Signet, 1968). Many observers of the University of Colorado episode concluded the CIA was orchestrating the entire peculiar affair to derail any serious scientific attempt to study UFOs. As Saunders put it in a concluding chapter of UFOs? Yes!, "The Central Intelligence Agency is around, everywhere." Direct, completely unambiguous connections between the CIA and the Condon Commission are difficult to establish, however. The Agency was clearly wary of revealing its interest in UFOs. As Timothy Good pointed out in Above Top Secret (New York: William Morrow, 1988), the CIA even took care that any work performed by its National Photographic Interpretation Center for the Condon Commission was not identified as being performed by the CIA. (The latest controversy involving the CIA has to do with Dr. Bruce Maccabee, an optical physicist with the Naval Surface Weapons Center. Maccabee is well known in the civilian UFO research community for his technical analyses of UFO photos and films. It recently came to light that Maccabee secretly had been lecturing about UFOs at the CIA, a fact that set off alarms of paranoia in certain quarters. This is probably a tempest in a teapot but it demonstrates again an ongoing, clandestine interest in the UFO phenomenon by the intelligence community.) News That's Unfit to Print Roger Harkins, then a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera, had a particular interest in documenting the CIA's suspected involvement with the Condon Commission. One day he was asked by the Denver Associated Press (AP) Bureau to file a story about an upcoming press conference by Jim and Coral Lorenzen of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), then an influential private UFO-research group. Harkins decided to use the opportunity to smoke out any CIA operatives he thought might be lurking in or around the Denver AP Bureau by doing a story purposely linking the Agency with UFOs. APRO's Jim Lorenzen provided Harkins with a seven-point rationale for the CIA's interest in UFOs. Harkins then wrote his story around this indictment of the CIA, assuming the Agency would want to suppress the story and that the AP might just do it. He then filed the story with the AP and returned to the _Daily Camera_'s office to wait for it to come across on the teletype. He waited all night and the rest of the next day and, just as he expected, the story never appeared. While this doesn't prove CIA involvement, it raises some interesting questions in light of the Robertson Panel's recommendations. Those who think the CIA couldn't, or wouldn't, suppress news about matters judged to have national security implications have something to learn from authors Victor Marchetti and John Marks. In their book _The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence_ (itself the subject of a famous CIA censorship effort), the authors made it clear that planting CIA operatives in deep cover with major American media organizations has been a long-established tradition at the Agency. More common, perhaps, are the CIA's efforts to suppress news coverage through pressure or friendly persuasion. For most Americans, all they know is what they read in the newspapers or see on TV, and if they don't read about or see UFO reports, then they effectively cease to exist. Like government maps, newspapers and television broadcasts are often mistaken for a faithful description of reality. James McCampbell, an engineering physicist and author I interviewed in 1979 for a radio documentary broadcast on National Public Radio said he, too, had concluded UFO news stories were being suppressed. In response to a question about lack of American press coverage of sensational UFO-related developments in France, McCampbell responded, "I think that the principle sources of information in the media are controlled, at least by pressure from the government, to keep information concerning UFOs out of general circulation. I reach that conclusion when I compare the hundreds and hundreds of [UFO] clippings I get from small-town newspapers throughout the United States, none of which ever get covered in the wire services. The principle newspaper editors are relying quite heavily on the wire services for information." Paranoia? Well, consider the fact that some of the most sensational UFO flaps in recent years were never mentioned by most of the nation's leading newspapers. According to the U.S. government's own documents, retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act, UFOs haunted major military bases across the United States in 1975. Unusual lighted objects were seen by Air Force personnel over bases in Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Florida, New Mexico and elsewhere, only to escape again into the night. The Air Force explanation for some of these events was that the objects were unidentified helicopters. Even if you accept this explanation, one would think that a story about unidentified helicopters flying at will over some our nation's most sensitive nuclear-weapons facilities would be worth a few column inches in _The New York Times_ or the _Washington Post._ Yet, the story never surfaced until the FOIA documents came out years later. Press coverage hasn't improved much since 1975. An electronic searchfor articles about the triangle-shaped UFO seen nightly by thousands of people over Belgium in 1990 turned up only one tongue-in-cheek story in The Wall Street Journal. Across the Atlantic, however, these sightings were being seriously reported in major European publications such as the July 5, 1990, Paris Match. The sightings were even officially confirmed by the Belgian Defense Minister who released radar tapes from an F-16 fighter that had chased and tracked the mysterious object. The unidentified craft also was videotaped by several ground observers. Yet, unless you're a loyal devotee of tabloid TV or spent that time in Europe, you probably don't know these events occurred. A still more sensational series of UFO sightings took place over and around Mexico City during and after the total solar eclipse of 1991. This being the age of the video camcorder, many people recorded these UFOs on tape. Hundreds of such videotapes, including footage from broadcast TV cameramen in Mexico City, have been edited into two documentaries, _Messengers of Destiny_ and _Masters of the Stars_ (available from Genesis III, Box 25962, Munds Park, AZ 86017). This was big news for months in Mexico, but _The New York Times,_ along with other major U.S. newspapers, apparently decided it was just not news that was fit to print. An electronic search revealed not a single story about these events in any of the indexed major U.S. newspapers. The major TV networks haven't much to crow about, either. For example, on October 1982, the PBS network broadcast _The Case of the UFOs_ on its popular NOVA science series. By any standards, it was a masterful piece of anti-UFO propaganda, completely misrepresenting the most basic facts about the subject, albeit in a seemingly objective style. Although many UFO researchers were filmed for the program, nearly all of this footage wound up on the cutting-room floor. Footage of the few researchers who were allowed to speak was carefully edited to completely misrepresent their views. Their original testimony in support of UFO research was presented to suggest that they thought there was little evidence for the phenomenon. Even worse, the nation's most famous and experienced UFO researcher who founded the non-profit Center for UFO Studies, the late astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, was not allowed to speak on the program in defense of the subject to which he had devoted much of his life. The heavily slanted program left viewers with the impression that few scientists believe UFOs exist or should be studied, an idea that is completely contradicted by polls and surveys of scientific and engineering opinion. In 1977, for example, 53 percent of 1,365 members of the American Astronomical Society who responded to a survey from Stanford University physicist Peter A. Sturrock, said they thought UFOs "certainly" or "probably" should be investigated further. Surveys published by Industrial Research magazine show similar support for UFO research among engineers and scientists. Dozens of professional scientists are currently involved in UFO research and hundreds more would certainly join them if federal funds were available. Of course, you can't get federal money to study something the government insists does not exist. It later came to light that content decisions for the NOVA program had been made on the advice of Kendrick Frazier, editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, the mouthpiece for the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The organization has waged a kind of holy war on UFO researchers for years and could hardly be counted on for a balanced view of the controversy. However you account for all of this, the evidence shows that the national media, for whatever reasons, have not been providing accurate coverage of either the UFO phenomenon itself or those who study it. Again, it may be jumping to conclusions to attribute this to government policies; perhaps American journalists have simply decided that mass sightings of UFOs have less public appeal than, say, traffic accidents, robberies, and celebrities--to which they devote enormous time and resources. Even so, suppression of UFO coverage was precisely the goal the CIA set out to achieve in the early 1950s when media reports began to pose a national-security problem for the U.S. government. Whether by design or dumb luck, they seem to have gotten their wish. Little Gray Men If the military-intelligence community really *has* been studying alien technology out there in the Nevada wasteland, it doesn't take much imagination to come up with reasons why authorities would want to keep this information out of circulation. Advanced technical knowledge has inescapable political consequences, as those attempting to stop nuclear proliferation know so well. Simply admitting that alien contact has taken place could open up a virtual Pandora's box. If authorities were to acknowledge that alien beings are here, then everyone will quite reasonably conclude that they may have been here all along. The religious and scientific establishments would suddenly find many of their fundamental assumptions called into doubt. Human society is built upon belief in the authority of its principle institutions. Undermine those beliefs and the entire system starts to crumble, a phenomenon that has often occurred in world history. When Robert Lazar was asked what would happen if the technology he claims to have witnessed was released, he replied, "It would change everything." For most bureaucracies, the prime directive is self-preservation. Maintaining the political and economic status quo has always been job one for the military-intelligence community. If they discovered something they believed would "change everything," releasing that information all at once could totally upset the political apple cart. Thus, some observers of the UFO controversy speculate that we're being slowly conditioned to the idea of extraterrestrials through films, advertising campaigns and calculated leaks of pertinent information, all designed to minimize culture shock. Culture shock might be the least of the government's problems, however. If aliens are here, the next question is, *why* are they here? This might not be an easy question to answer but increasing numbers of UFO researchers have concluded that thousands of people are being picked up, examined, and used in strange genetic experiments. Here things *really* start to get spooky. It almost doesn't matter whether any of this is true in the physical sense. The point is that the evidence, whether genuine or fabricated, suggests to scientists *who are familiar with it* (and that's a critical and often overlooked qualification) that something very weird and shocking is going on. Again, we're talking about *beliefs* here. If Americans start believing that aliens are snatching people out of their homes and cars, and the authorities can't do anything about it...well, it doesn't exactly enhance the public's faith in the value of government. Until fairly recently, even UFO researchers - who become accustomed to hearing strange stories - were deeply skeptical about evidence that people were being abducted. Much of this evidence was obtained under hypnosis, a technique that many researchers felt was plagued with serious methodological pitfalls. They wanted physical evidence. One of the pioneers in this field is psychologist Leo Sprinkle, formerly a professor at the University of Wyoming. Like most intellectual pioneers, Sprinkle experienced some very tough times with his academic associates who felt his conclusions were completely ludicrous. Inconvenient though it may be, alleged abductions have long been a component of the UFO phenomenon. The issue first burst into public consciousness in 1966 with the publication of The Interrupted Journey (New York: Berkley, 1966) by journalist John G. Fuller. The book told the now well-known story of Betty and Barney Hill and their encounter with a UFO and its occupants on an autumn night in New Hampshire. According to information obtained under hypnosis, the Hills seemed to have been taken aboard the UFO and subjected to some kind of examination by aliens. Public interest in the subject was rekindled with the appearance in 1981 of the best-selling book Missing Time (New York: Ballantine, 1981) by artist Budd Hopkins. Hopkins took a much closer look into the phenomenon of alleged alien abductions. He concluded that certain recurring patterns provided support for the idea that abduction experiences were more than just random psychological delusions. A still more thorough exploration of the issue appeared in 1992 with the publication of Secret Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992) by Temple University history professor David M. Jacobs (author of The UFO Controversy in America mentioned earlier). Now the issue was finally out of the closet. Even the ultra-cautious New York Times, whose coverage of the UFO controversy has been exceptionally sparse, recognized the abduction phenomenon with a surprisingly open-minded story about Jacobs in its Oct. 28, 1992, edition. Jacobs does not mince words when drawing conclusions about the abduction phenomenon. "We've been invaded," he says in the final chapter of Secret Life. "At present we can do little or nothing to stop it. The aliens have powers and technology greatly in advance of ours, and that puts us at a tremendous disadvantage in our ability to affect the phenomenon or gain some control over it." Before you dismiss Jacobs and others who share his assessment as crazy, you might want to talk with John Mack, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Mack says he became interested in the abduction phenomenon in January of 1990 when an associate offered to introduce him to Budd Hopkins. Mack's initial assessment when told of Hopkins' activities was, "He must be crazy." After becoming involved with abduction cases himself, though, Mack now says he regards the phenomenon as having tremendous scientific and cultural importance. (His book about the phenomenon, Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, was published in April 1994 by Charles Scribner's.) As with Leo Sprinkle and David Jacobs before him, Mack has faced intense criticism from some of his academic associates who are not at all happy with what he has to say. "They've stretched the limits of mid-life crisis," he joked at the Triad conference in July of 1994. "I'm 63. I thought mid-life was, you know, 45-50, so they haven't really got a category for me yet." Mack insists the experiences of abductees are genuine and says he is continually astounded at the lengths to which educated people go to force-fit them into some inappropriate conceptual framework. "There are new limits of stupidity you encounter in this work," he said. "It's amazing to me the extent to which people will go to avoid something new." As far as the underlying cause, Mack agrees with many others who have investigated different aspects of the UFO phenomenon over the past few decades. "I don't see any explanation for this phenomenon other than that there is some intelligence that we don't understand at work," he said. "The resistance to accepting that there's other intelligences at work here is not a scientific matter, it's a *political* matter," he insisted. "It has to do with who decides, in a particular culture at a particular time, what is reality." Mack said that the phenomenon is subtle and seems to be trying to correct our self-destructive world view--the view held by large corporations who employ science and technology to carve up the earth for material profit and power. As Mack puts it, "What [the phenomenon] says is, 'We are not masters of the universe; we are not in control.'" For people who encounter it, this is usually a terrifying notion, he explained. "The terror [that the phenomenon inspires] is the terror of the realization we are not in control." Dr. Pierre Guerin, a high-ranking French astrophysicist who was employed by the French space agency to study the UFO problem, expressed very similar conclusions in 1979. "...what is quite certain is that the phenomenon is active here, on our planet, and active here as Master. We can neither stop the phenomenon nor comprehend it, and we are well aware that its power totally defies not merely our technological possibilities but probably our mental possibilities as well." "Science...believes in [extraterrestrials] only on condition that they remain at distances of many light-years from Earth," Guerin continued. "Or rather, it believes that, if they do visit us they will not do it in the fashion in which they are now doing it, - clandestinely, and with the dice loaded, making it crystal-clear that they come from a transcendental level right outside of and beyond the cozy, reassuring little framework into which our scientists are so anxious to fit this whole new UFO scene with which we find ourselves confronted." Dr. Guerin agreed with Mack that this realization inspires terror in government authorities. "Even the security forces of the various governments (who, in our opinion, do know what the truth is about the reality of the UFOs, but have no idea of how to go about tackling the problem) are wary of making the matter public, because of their fear that by so doing, they might not only cause a panic that could destabilize the entire globe, but also they might trigger off a backlash from the intellectual and political elites, who would refuse to give credence to the security services revelations." War of the Worlds? Assuming the U.S. government reached similar conclusions to those expressed by Mack and Guerin, but much earlier due to its superior intelligence-gathering resources, the seemingly contradictory behavior the government has exhibited over the past 45 years begins to make sense. Seen from the perspective of government, an organization whose entire purpose is control, the UFO phenomenon presents a counterintelligence threat, not simply an interesting scientific problem for open discussion in learned journals. Science generally assumes that the phenomena it is studying do not "mind" being studied. Such an assumption is unsafe in the world of counterintelligence, where one must assume that potential opponents are aware of your every move unless precautions are taken to disguise them. In fact, it is standard technique to disseminate a cloud of false information, the purpose of which is to deceive the opposing force. In order to deceive an enemy, one must also deceive friends--i.e., the public. Thus, an elaborate game of deception evolves between the opposing forces. It has often been said that if the U.S. military-intelligence community had undeniable proof for the existence of extraterrestrial visitors, they could not possibly keep this information secret, since leaks would inevitably occur. In fact, leaks *do* occur in any intelligence-gathering operation but they don't necessarily compromise the secret because the leaks are typically buried in a dense cloud of false and contradictory information. An intelligence expert (or UFO investigator) is thus presented with the formidable task of determining which among the vast sea of facts are reliable and relevant. In Anthony Cave Brown's classic history of British Intelligence efforts in World War II, Bodyguard of Lies (New York: Harper & Row, 1975) the author explains the basic method used by the elite corps of English aristocrats who made up the powerful London Controlling Section (LCS): "Deception was the province of the LCS, and its special assignment was to plant upon the enemy, along the channels open to it through the Allied high command, hundreds, perhaps thousands of splinters of information that, when assembled by the enemy intelligence services, would form a plausible and acceptable - but false - picture of Allied military intentions." The plan worked extremely well, as history testifies. Even the massive D-Day invasion force managed to reach Normandy without knowledge of German intelligence. If the entire German intelligence force could not divine the true intentions of the Allied forces, imagine the difficulty of attempting to divine the intentions of an alien intelligence with technologies beyond our conception. Imagine also the difficulties UFO researchers have faced in attempting to penetrate the security veil of the U.S. intelligence community which has had hundreds of billions of dollars at its disposal. Were the members of Majestic 12 the equivalent of the British LCS? If the MJ-12 document is genuine, it would appear so. Assuming this was the case, their main problem would have been to gather UFO information clandestinely while feigning disinterest so as not to alarm the public or tip off the perceived opponent to its progress. In this light, the strange games played by Project Blue Book, the mysterious machinations of CIA, the apparent suppression of relevant news and information about the phenomenon, and the Condon Commission's peculiar tricks suddenly come into sharper focus: they are all consistent with a clandestinely planned and executed war of the worlds. Of course, as German intelligence discovered in World War II, consistency and truth may be different matters. Darkness and Paranoia In The Russians (New York: Times Books, 1983), Hedrick Smith's pre-glasnost tale of life in the former Soviet Union, the author describes a society in which the most wild and astounding rumors were given serious credence by the populace because the official explanations were almost universally regarded as lies. The price the Soviet government paid for suppression of information was a population that was ready to believe *anything,* so long as it did not appear to come from an official source. A similar situation has developed in the United States in regard to UFO sightings. The constant background of sightings - reported now mainly by regional newspapers, videotapes, specialized newsletters and books - has been greeted in recent years only by official silence. Attempts to discover the government's true attitude toward the phenomenon through the Freedom of Information Act have been met by resistance and censorship justified on vague national-security grounds. This absence of official information has fostered an environment rich in rumors of the most bizarre and creative sort. It's being said, for example, that the U.S. government has opened direct, face-to-face negotiations with extraterrestrials, similar to what was portrayed in Steven Spielberg's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Others claim the government has made a kind of Faustian pact with the aliens, allowing them to use some of our people and farm animals for their genetic experiments in return for saucer technology. (Robert Lazar claims to have seen nine well-preserved alien spacecraft at S-4, a surprising number.) Another story has it that a massive cooperative effort is underway between the U.S. military-intelligence community and the aliens to construct vast underground bases where horrific biomedical experiments are underway using abducted street kids as guinea pigs! Others say the U.S. government is planning to use its clandestine knowledge of alien technology to stage a fake extraterrestrial invasion in an attempt to unify the world's people behind a common but manufactured threat. Some say the whole captured-alien-hardware story is just a highly elaborate cover for the wholesale looting of the federal treasury by the corrupt and cynical secret government. Many of the most bizarre and unsubstantiated rumors originate with self-appointed "investigators" who seem to appear out of nowhere to suddenly become superstars of the UFO lecture circuit. One of the more controversial examples is John Lear, son of the Lear Jet's inventor and an admitted former CIA employee. Lear claims his inside knowledge of the frightening UFO situation originates with sources in the U.S. intelligence community. More established and conservative UFO researchers say they are deeply suspicious of Lear and claim he is effectively a government disinformation agent out to undermine the movement's credibility. By making the entire subject sound as ludicrous as possible, they say, the CIA's psychological warfare people can ensure that most serious scientists and journalists will never come *near* the subject, much less publicly admit any serious interest in it. Whatever the case, paranoia runs very deep indeed. As reporter George Knapp commented in July 1994, "We all have our share of loonies to deal with but the [government] coverup angle attracts a special breed--dark, foreboding conspiracy buffs who see evil tentacles around every corner: Secret treaties between the government and the aliens--they give us technology; we give them permission to conduct abductions--as if they need our permission; the Trilateral Commission; the CFR; the Bilderbergers, the Illuminati; Neo Nazis; the Rockefellers; One World Government - and UFOs. The gang's all here." But as someone once observed, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they really aren't out to get you. And therein lies the dilemma. After all, the U.S. government clearly does lie about quite a few things and doesn't say much at all about many others. As long as very odd things continue to happen and authorities are unable or unwilling to tell us what they know, almost anything begins to seem possible. Take a persistent and genuinely puzzling phenomenon, add a half-dozen or so secrecy-obsessed government bureaucracies, a scientific establishment that is fearful of pressing for an investigation, throw in hundreds of well-meaning but financially strapped amateur investigators, a handful of cynical con artists, a few literary opportunists, some disinformation agents, and half a dozen egotistical scientists who glibly dismiss events they've never taken time to study, and you've got the perfect recipe for mass confusion. Welcome to the troubled frontier of officially sanctioned knowledge. Whether American society will ever move beyond this frontier depends entirely on whether we can summon the courage to do so, for we must accept that the answers to our questions may not be to our liking, nor to the liking of powerful commercial and government interests. Science, always a potentially subversive activity, began as an investigation into the nature of experience conducted by a handful of brave intellectuals, often in the face of brutally repressive church-state authorities. Things haven't changed all that much in 350 years. As Herbert Foerstel explains in _Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology_ (Westport: Praeger, 1993), the U.S. government has increasingly come to regard scientific knowledge as both a threat to social stability and an opportunity for increased geopolitical control. Foerstel reports that most scientific research in the U.S. is now federally funded and most of this research is conducted by the military whose obsession for secrecy is astounding. Over one trillion classified documents are now in existence, Foerstel reports. "Scientists have taken their place as an influential force in society, even as the state has emerged as the chief sponsor and promoter of scientific research," Foerstel writes. "As a result, scientists have compromised two of the most cherished aspects of the scientific ethos; the freedom to pursue knowledge unhampered by interference from authorities, and the freedom to communicate their ideas without hindrance to the international community of scientists to which they belong." More fundamental than the question of scientific freedom, though, is the question of whether we wish to live in an open society or in a society controlled by military bureaucrats who determine, without oversight by our elected officials, what we can and cannot know about what they're up to. It would not be overstating matters to say that the choice is really between totalitarianism and democracy, between a society of ignorant serfs and an open society of informed citizens. Etched on the main lobby wall of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia, is this line from the Bible: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Perhaps the truth is that no terrifying mysteries lie within the tightly guarded boundaries of Dreamland or anywhere else in the scattered network of secret military facilities that dot our nation. Although there are now many good reasons to doubt it, the U.S. intelligence community may be just as mystified by the UFO phenomenon as are civilian researchers. Given the stakes, though, the most disturbing lesson of this elaborate and long-running controversy may be that American citizens have lost their right to find out. reprinted with permission




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