UFOs: Seeing is Believing

David E. Twichell.  © 2005

             My hat is off to Peter Jennings and the ABC Television Network for their courageous two-hour documentary on the UFO phenomenon in prime time. 

            Already I can hear the voices of the dissenters:  “Why didn’t they cover more of the hard evidence and less witness testimonies?”  “Where was the John Mack interview that answers the objection of ‘sleep paralyses’ in abduction cases?”  “Why waste the valuable time with naysayers that try to debunk the phenomenon that could be better spent explaining it?”

            The reader may have their own criticisms to add to this list and their points would be well taken.   However, in all fairness, there is only so much information, opinions and evidence that can be packed into a single two-hour block and still leave room for the commercial space that makes the presentation possible.  (Plenty of the latter, I would say!)

            The title of the show actually answers the first question.  In the absence of “a pen from the craft’s dashboard”, as one cynic on the show demanded, witness testimony is the next best thing.  If a handful of backwoods bumpkins were the ones offering the testimony, the whole affair could be easily dismissed.  But, as the program illustrated in abundance, the quality of eyewitnesses, in close encounter sightings, adds much needed credibility where viewers with little to no knowledge of the facts are concerned.  This is the audience at which the program was aimed.  Police officers, civilian and military pilots, US Air Force MPs in charge of our nuclear missile silos, trained observers, as well as the average, prudent, everyday citizens like you and me.  Not just a handful of them either but literally hundreds of thousands in this country alone and, over the years, millions worldwide.  Were it not for the extreme volume of eyewitness testimonies, there would be no phenomenon and, thus, no ABC special.

            Why excerpts from the interview with our recently fallen comrade, Dr. Mack, were not aired is a matter for debate.  Perhaps it was out of respect, due to the fact that he had just recently passed.  Perhaps it was a matter of time constraint.  Perhaps the producers felt that the silly explanation of ‘sleep paralysis’, that couldn’t possibly apply in many abduction cases, was so obviously inappropriate that the objection to it was self-evident.  (I did, however, notice Dr. Mack’s name flash by in the credits.)

            The inclusion of the skeptical view is always necessary when dealing with any controversial subject.  Without it, it would not be a fair and balanced report.  Personally, I love to hear from the skeptics in a UFO documentary.  Their explanations rarely fit the evidence and many elements of the evidence are often purposely ignored in an effort to make the square peg fit into the round hole.  Anyone with a modicum of common sense would squint an eyebrow when listening to their ramblings.  Frankly, I think their feeble attempt to detract from the core of a given case adds credence to the proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

            For example: In the case of the well known Phoenix lights incident, astronomer and “Philip Klass want-to-be”, James E. McGaha, insists that the lights over Phoenix were nothing more than flares dropped from Air Force planes over the mountains and that people are simply connecting the dots in their minds to form one solid object.  Even photographic analysts within the UFO community hold conflicting views on the video evidence. However, two nagging questions remain; 1) where are the lights from the alleged planes that dropped these flares?  2) Why did it take a whole week of being hounded by the press and public for an explanation to the anomalous lights before the Air Force finally came up with the “flare” solution?  Video evidence aside, the fact that hundreds of witnesses, throughout most of the state, independently reported huge triangular-shaped craft silently float over their heads, on the same night, blocking out the stars in their passing.  These questions were never addressed by McGaha.

            I think a lot of us anticipated the ABC special with a “disclosure event” in mind.  If such is the case, we were sorely disappointed.  But the objective of the presentation was to reestablish public awareness of the phenomenon, make known the fact that the skeptics are now in the minority and emphasize the fact that only a personal close encounter event constitutes undeniable confirmation for the witness.  To this end, the program hit its mark.  All of this was presented on a major network, hosted by a well-respected journalist in a prime time setting.  Hopefully, this project will open the door to future presentations of its kind.

            Perhaps Jennings’ closing observation was sadly prophetic; “Ultimately, only contact will finally resolve the mystery.”

            The only thing I might critique is the title of the show.  A “believer” is one who accepts the testimony of others.  Once one personally has a close encounter sighting of an unconventional flying object or endures an abduction experience, they are no longer a believer – they are a witness.

            David E. Twichell.  © 2005


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