UFOs and the New Age Symposium
conference held on 23, 24 and 25 June 2000 in Istanbul was among the most
interesting that I have ever attended, and the aim of this article is to give
readers an overview of the event, cross referencing with other sources of
It was clear from the outset that this was going to be a fascinating
conference, not least because of the very different beliefs and approaches of
the speakers. Scientists like
Stanton Friedman and John Mack would be appearing alongside contactees and
channellers like Marcia Schafer and Lyssa Royal, and those who anticipated a
wide variety of material were not disappointed.
The conference was organised by Haktan Akdogan, Chairman of the Sirius
UFO Space Sciences Research Centre, and an intelligent and spiritual man who
cares deeply for the subject. He
and his colleagues had put an amazing amount of work into organising the
conference, but this three day event - with big name speakers from all around
the world - was really only possible on so large a scale because of generous
sponsorship. An enlightened and
modest businessman with a passion and commitment to ufology not only underwrote
most of the event, but proposed publishing a number of key UFO books in Turkish.
Such help from the private sector is still all too rare, although the
actions of Bob Bigelow and Laurance Rockefeller are two honourable exceptions
Stanton Friedman gave an authoritative and science-based presentation in
which he stressed that there are numerous stars similar to our own sun at
distances sufficiently small in cosmic terms as to permit round trips that do
not conflict with the laws of physics. These
stars include Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli (at a distance of around thirty seven
light years), believed by some ufologists to be the location of the home planet
of the Greys (on the basis of the analysis of abductee Betty Hill’s “star
map” carried out by amateur astronomer Marjorie Fish).
I gave a standard lecture summarising my official MOD research and
investigation of the UFO phenomenon, with the emphasis on those sightings that
raised defence and national security concerns - e.g. those reports detailing
structured craft displaying speeds and manoeuvres our technology (including
experimental and prototype craft) cannot yet match.
I stressed the importance of sightings from pilots and of sightings
correlated by radar data, and gave the audience a taste of some of the reports
unearthed by Colin Ridyard, details of which are contained in a separate article
in this edition of UFO Magazine.
Budd Hopkins and John Mack essentially gave the same lectures they gave
during the Intruders Foundation conference held in New York on 6 May, details of
which are given in my article in the July/August edition of UFO
Magazine. That said, John Mack
made a couple of telling points about abductions that he had not made in New
York, and it’s worth repeating these, especially for those who believe that
abductees are delusional. Mack
explained that as a mental health professional he came across numerous
delusional characters, who press their often paranoid stories (They are being
followed by the FBI, their relatives are trying to poison them, etc.) with
vigour and at every opportunity. Most
abductees, however, take the opposite approach, possessing what Mack called
“appropriate doubt”. They are
self-critical, nervous about coming forward, are selective about whom they tell,
and are worried they will not be believed.
Mack also offered a comment on the theory that images of large-eyed
animals seen during abduction experiences might be “screen memories” of
large-eyed aliens, pointing out that some of the animals most often seen (racoons,
owls, etc.) are traditional “power animals” among indigenous peoples such as
Native Americans. He said that the
Shamans among indigenous peoples have known all about the beings we sometimes
call the Greys, and have experiences themselves.
These are themes on which Mack elaborates in his latest book, Passport to the Cosmos. Interesting
material on Shamanism and its possible relationship to other paranormal
phenomena can also be found in Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince’s excellent and
intriguing book, The Stargate Conspiracy,
most notably in the epilogue.
An interesting feature of Budd’s presentation was a series of drawings
from children, which seemed to show images from classic abduction scenarios.
Research involving children who may be abductees is always going to be
controversial, but Budd Hopkins personifies the ethical approach to abduction
research and never puts his desire to gather data above his desire to help the
abductee. The innocent simplicity
in the testimony and drawings of these children is undeniably poignant, and is
an area of abduction research that deserves closer scrutiny.
Australian abductee Kelly Cahill gave a fascinating account of
some of her experiences, further details of which can be found in her book Encounter
and in an article in this edition of UFO
Magazine. As ever, it’s
illuminating to hear accounts from abductees themselves, as opposed to listening
to investigators summarise cases they have studied.
Although investigators may have a more comprehensive understanding of the
phenomenon, reflecting the number of cases they have studied, abductees give
personal perspectives and emotional insights that investigators can never fully
Derrel Sims talked about his work with abductees and in particular his
involvement in surgical procedures to remove implants.
This is a controversial area of ufology (see Roger Leir’s article in
the July/August edition of UFO Magazine)
but Derrel is always popular at conferences, and once he sets up his display of
implants in the foyer of any conference venue, he is seldom without an audience.
Istanbul was no exception, and he was often surrounded by crowds of
people wanting to get a glimpse of alleged alien implants and speak to the man
dubbed “The Alien Hunter”.
Another popular figure at conferences is Bob Dean, the former US Army
Master Sergeant who claims that while working at NATO’s SHAPE headquarters he
saw a document entitled “The Assessment”, which set out clear evidence of an
extraterrestrial presence on Earth. A
detailed analysis of these claims can be found in issue 7 of The
K. T. Frankovich - a survivor of Hurricane Andrew - began her talk with a
moving account of a visit she had paid to the area of Turkey hardest hit by the
earthquakes that struck last year. Her
story about Hurricane Andrew, and the sensational allegation that it killed over
5000 people (and not the hundred or so officially confirmed) is set out in two
articles in the current and next edition of The
Unopened Files. Her
presentation concentrated on a consciously-recalled encounter with an
extraterrestrial entity in a lime grove adjacent to her house in Florida,
details of which can be found in her book Where
Wendelle Stevens possesses what is claimed to be the largest collection
of UFO photographs anywhere in the world, and he shared some of these with the
audience in Istanbul. A lecture revolving around spectacular visual images is
always a good idea at overseas conferences where English is not everyone’s
first language; one picture is worth ten thousand words, as the saying goes.
I would not go that far: it depends on the picture and it depends on the
words; but whatever the images show, they provoke debate and inspire the
Sean David Morton is a television and film producer who has specialised
in UFO projects that have covered subjects such as Area 51, Gulf Breeze and
underground bases. He produced the highly controversial documentary Area
51: The Alien Interview, and shared some of this material with the audience
Lyssa Royal is an internationally famous channeller and author of books
such as Visitors From Within and The
Prism of Lyra. Her talk gave an
intriguing insight into the whole channelling process and detailed some of her
own attempts to initiate contact with the intelligences behind UFOs and alien
Marcia Schafer is another well-known channel, and details of her lifetime
of experiences can be found in her intriguing book, Confessions
of an Intergalactic Anthropologist. Her
talk summarised some of this material. I
have not investigated many cases involving channelling (although see chapter 13
of my book The Uninvited) and confess
that I am not sure what to make of such material.
I have no doubt that most channels are genuinely receiving information,
but in evidential terms this information is virtually impossible to evaluate.
It’s somewhat akin to receiving an anonymous letter - you know it’s a
letter, but without knowing its origin, how can you judge whether the data is
true or false, especially when so much is unverifiable? This is especially true given the evidence that many entities
(whether we call them aliens, or whether we view them as the little people from
our folklore) seem to be deceivers and tricksters. For this reason I was particularly keen to listen to and meet
people like Lyssa and Marcia, and I gained valuable insights into the more
spiritual world of the channellers.
Perhaps the most spiritual presentation of all came from former United
States Air Force pilot Donald Ware, who has been a senior figure within MUFON.
He gave an extraordinary glimpse of what he believes life is like in the
wider cosmos, and spoke about what he believes will be a transformation of the
human race from “third density” to “fourth density” existence.
His book The Rising Culture:
Joining a Galactic Society will be published soon, and will offer a
synthesis of his views and research.
Another speaker who viewed extraterrestrial contact in a spiritual way
was Sheldan Nidle, author of Galactic
Human. Sheldan is a contactee,
and he gave an overview of experiences that convince him that this is a key time
in the transformation both of the Earth and of humanity. Like many contactees, he believes we are at a crossroads and
that we may soon be taking our place in a wider spiritual hierarchy.
As is often the case at conferences, much of the benefit takes place in
private, as the speakers talk about latest developments in ufology, and exchange
data. E-mail certainly has its place, but there really is no
substitute for round table discussions. I
for one welcomed the opportunity to discuss with Budd Hopkins and John Mack the
claims made by Randle, Estes and Cone about lesbian and gay abductees (For
details of this debate, see numerous posts on UFO UpDates together with my own
analysis in my August column at www.hotgossip.co.uk).
From a casual chat with Lyssa Royal I discovered that she had had a UFO
sighting in an almost identical location to that of an abductee with whom I am
working. They are now in touch.
This to me shows how new breakthroughs can come from things happening on
the fringes of conferences. Some
two or three weeks after returning the UK, I was still working down a list of
articles to send people and calls to make.
This continues to bear fruit, and some articles that I sent K. T.
Frankovich have suggested a connection between Hurricane Andrew, weather control
experiments carried out by the Chinese in Sichuan province in August 1992, and
South African research into rainmaking.
As mentioned at the outset, there were vast differences in beliefs among
the speakers, not least over whether alien contact is benign or malign.
On a couple of occasions these differences came to the surface.
One speaker turned to me during a presentation that included channelled
material and asked in an exasperated tone how he was supposed to evaluate such
data. On another occasion I heard
two of those who took a more New Age view of UFOs and abductions say that
another of the speakers “doesn’t get the bigger picture”.
However, these were private observations and never translated into any
unpleasantness. On the whole, I
think we all benefited from being exposed to such a variety of views.
Nobody has a monopoly on the truth, and there is nothing worse than going
to a conference where everybody agrees with each other.
In ufology as with any other field of study, progress is made when those
with divergent views come together, exchange data and theories, learn from each
other and come away with new ideas and insights.
This is what happened in Istanbul, and I think that we all came away with
something new. I know I did.