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Friday, March 10, 2006

Comments from Author of Hunt for the Skinwalker

A copy of my February 27th comments about the book Hunt for the Skinwalker found its way to co-author George Knapp, who responded as follows. Following Mr. Knapp's remarks (which appear here with his permission), is a brief note I sent to him clarifying my intent in the remark he discusses in item 4 below.

Thanks for forwarding the review of Skinwalker. I don't know anything about your friend John Walker, but I thoroughly enjoyed his comments and got a good chuckle from several of his well-crafted lines. Clever stuff, especially the 1997 article. Damn, that's a fine if twisted take on the phenomena. If humans are rattled by the idea of alien spacecraft zipping around in our skies, imagine what the reaction will be if it can be proven that all of these silly UFOs are nothing more than ETs copulating above our heads. If this concept catches on, it could be the spark we need. The religious groups will mobilize overnight and force the feds to finally do something about UFOs. After all, we can't allow aerial humping to continue on such a massive scale. What kind of message does it send to our children? Alien porn is what it amounts to. We might as well turn over the control of our airspace to Larry Flynt or SF's Mitchell Brothers. Who among us would ever again be comfortable while taking a walk in the rain? Are our heads being pelted by harmless raindrops, or are we being saturated by droplets of cosmic sperm mixed with the vaginal fluids of some Reticulan floozie? There's a time and a place for interstellar nookie. It's called pay-per-view. In a sense, Mr. Walker is saying that Earth is the galactic equivalent of Las Vegas. Horny space swingers and conventioneers travel here with their secretaries or mistresses because they know that what happens in the atmosphere stays in the atmosphere, and the little woman back home in the Crab Nebula doesn't need to know.

Walker's more serious criticisms are more than fair and I understand why he posits them. That doesn't mean I agree with them. So, in the spirit with which they were offered, I'd like to respond.

1) When he compares the NIDS trailer to the VW van driven by the Lone Gunmen, he is way off base. A better comparison would have been Ken Kesey's Magic Bus.

2) The statement that most of the interesting stuff ended as soon as NIDS arrived is incorrect. The book admits that the level of activity changed once the team arrived and started "hunting" the for the source. The NIDS team and its scientific board came to believe that the "entity" on the ranch was smart, elusive, and purposeful, displaying a kind of gamesmanship similar to "trickster" tactics that have been reported elsewhere. It didn't like being stalked and it rarely revealed itself in the same way or same spot, at least, that's the impression of the team, the ranchers, the Utes, the neighbors, and others. If readers aren't willing to at least entertain the possibility that this is an accurate description of how things unfolded or that an unknown sentient intelligence could accomplish such things, then I don't know why such readers would even finish the book. While writing the book, Colm and I were very aware that readers would probably have to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief, to borrow a film term, just to absorb the ridiculous array of events that occurred. We knew how tough it would be for people to accept all of this at face value. We debated about whether we should water it down, omit some of the incidents, try to make the story more believable by not revealing several of the most outrageous events. Ultimately, the decision was easy. We told the story as accurately as we could. Our hope was that at least a few scientists would have the requisite curiosity to read the whole thing and that some of the individual incidents might spark a dialogue. If anyone chooses to believe otherwise, so be it. But that's the approach we took because it seemed to be the most honest way to tell the story.

If Mr. Walker thinks the events witnessed by the NIDS team don't really amount to much, then maybe he skimmed a few chapters. The scientists and staff personally witnessed a hell of a lot, not only random lights, orbs, and structured craft, but plenty more, including the tunnel of light that appeared from which a large creature emerged, the dinosaur creature that was shot out of a tree, the mind-meld incident when a black cloud engaged a physicist, dramatic and inexplicable reactions by humans, animals, and sensors, and a lot more. The team didn't personally witness the mutilation of livestock as it occurred, but they were on hand to examine and analyze the physical evidence. Ditto for the incident with the bulls. Ditto for the vandalism of the video equipment by a force that was invisible to adjacent cameras. Ditto for the strange ice circle that formed on a pond. They endured a hell of a lot of weird stuff, maybe not as much as the ranch family endured, but more than most of us will ever see in a lifetime.

3) The criticism that too little photographic evidence was obtained is valid and completely understandable. The video cameras operated 24/7 for years. They did capture assorted images of lights on the property, but a distant ball of light in a sea of rural darkness means diddly. There are other photos and videos that have not yet been made public. The reasons aren't all that mysterious. What's more, I'm working on a documentary that will include this material, including footage shot on the night that the creature was blasted out of the tree, video of the mutilated calf and the examination of the carcass, photos of the bulls after they were released from the trailer, and a few photos taken by the current residents of the ranch that are just as weird as evrything else about this case. In Mr. Walker's article, he addresses this issue, and I'm surprised he doesn't remember his own words. Basically, he proposes that the reason why there is so little compelling photographic or sensor evidence of UFOs (or amorous aerial sex partners) is because we humans build sensors that are designed to detect and document the things that we expect to see. We don't create cameras that are designed to photograph things that aren't supposed to exist. If he believed this back when he wrote the article, I would hope that he would cut us some slack. The phenomena on the ranch didn't want to be photographed. You can believe that, or don't believe it. That's just the way it went down. We're not talking about a predictable experiment carried out in a petri dish. This kind of a study doesn't have a lot of precedents, and the events on the ranch don't happen everywhere else so far as we know, at least not in such a concentrated form.

4) Mr. Walker questions whether all of these events really occurred as described in the book, a big hypothetical in his view. I understand this reaction and expected it. That doesn't make it any more palatable. I'm not going to get bent out of shape but will just say this; Journalism isn't a hobby for me. This is my job. I don't make stuff up and I don't put my name on a written account that isn't truthful. I've been reading the field reports about the ranch for a lot of years now. The reports weren't written so that they would eventually be compiled into a book. No one at NIDS wanted this stuff to be released, not because of any hidden agenda, but because of the knowledge that such a collection of strange info might harm the reputation of the organization. It took a long time to talk the principals into allowing me to write something. It took a long time to convince Colm Kelleher to participate in a book project. True, Colm isn't a physicist, but he is a PhD scientist with a solid reputation and an enviable professional resume'. He didn't make this stuff up either. Residents of the area have been reporting these types of things for at least 50 years. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt since not one of them wants any publicity or money or anything else. I understand why someone who doesn't know Colm or me might question whether all of these things really happened. To the best of my knowledge, they did. Anyone who wants to scoff at this or question our personal integrity can go…engage in an ionospheric threesome with those slutty lap dancers from Alpha Centauri.

Regards to all,


I sent the following clarification along with the request to reprint the above comments, which Mr. Knapp kindly granted.

Thank you very much for your extended and thoughtful reply to my comments on Hunt for the Skinwalker.

First of all, may I post your remarks on my Web log? I am sure folks who read my review would be interested in your reaction and the additional information therein.

Second, in response to your point 4 (regarding my “big hypothetical” remark), I did not in any way intend to imply that I doubt the veracity of the accounts by you, Mr. Kelleher, or other NIDS researchers quoted in the book; if my words were taken that way, then please accept my apology. In the last paragraph of the review, what I meant as hypothetical was the physical reality of all the phenomena reported over the decades and before your arrival and that of NIDS. As you observe, that is a much longer list of phenomena even more bizarre than those experienced by the researchers. Also, since there are cases where multiple individuals were present but, for whatever reasons, only one experienced a phenomenon, the interpretation as a physical manifestation may not be clear. (Granted, a mutilated cow or ice circle is about as physical as one might ask for.)

I think that Jacques Vallee is extremely perceptive and spot-on in observing that these kinds of phenomena have to be approached with an awareness that conscious deception and misdirection may be involved, not on the part of the investigators, but by the phenomenon itself. Einstein said, “Subtle is the Lord, but not malicious”, but what we have here seems to be not only malicious but downright hostile. The usual tools of science assume, with Einstein, that the universe does not actively deceive scientists; in a case like this, treating the investigation as an intelligence effort against a hostile adversary may be the most productive approach.

The reference to Jacques Vallee in the last paragraph is to his 1979 book, Messengers of Deception, quoted at some length in Skinwalker, which argues that science may be ill-equipped to study a phenomenon which, unlike the physical universe, may deceive and actively conceal facts. The Vallee book has been out of print for ages, but if you can lay your hands on a copy, is well worth reading.

Posted at March 10, 2006 00:08