2017 January

How to Hoax a Contact

By | Contactees, Ramblings | 4 Comments

It’s pretty simple.  All you have to do is say that you had a contact experience.

Contact experiences, as scientists and UFOlogists alike will tell you, are problematic because of the lack of evidence behind them.  Though there are some exceptions to this–various people from George Adamski to Howard Menger have offered up photographs and other artifacts–most of this evidence is rejected out of hand, because Contactees are the unwanted stepchildren of UFOlogy.

Adamski offered a number of photographs; in fact, that’s how he became famous, by presenting photos of flying saucers with unprecedented detail and clarity.  Over the years, these photos have been generally dismissed as being the lid of an egg brooder or the top of a Coleman lantern, as a man named Joel Carpenter notes.  But of course, no direct evidence of fabrication or hoaxing was ever found.

The chicken brooder I found on the family farm. I was shocked to see it at first because it did resemble a flying saucer so much.

Howard Menger’s photographs seem almost painterly in comparison.  Which is tricky, considering he was, in fact, a painter by trade.  But again, the only evidence we have of Menger’s hoaxing his evidence is his saying that he did so. (Which he later recanted, saying he was part of a government campaign to test the waters of how the public would handle a UFO Contact).

In both of these cases, these men could have told their tales without changing them at all without providing evidence.  But they chose to back up their claims with photographs and artifacts, which perhaps increased their visibility and gave them more attention, but also made them more controversial figures.  Because it’s one thing to fabricate a story in a public forum, but it’s another thing entirely to fabricate evidence.  Whether Adamski’s claims are true or not, I think his reputation as a polarizing figure is largely derived from this distinction. If a skeptic analyzes the claims of, say, Orfeo Angelucci, they will likely dismiss his stories.  But to dismiss Adamski’s story requires also rejecting the accompanying photographs and the corroborating statements from others.  If that additional evidence is perceived as fake, the effort that went into them becomes somewhat more dastardly, leaving a sort of bad taste in the mouth.

The average modern person definitely finds it difficult to stomach the claims of the Contactees of the 1950s.  Beautiful blond humans from the planet Venus fly in the face of what NASA tells us about the surface of that planet, for example.  So, the tendency is largely toward labeling them as hoaxers or as insane.  And some Contactees, undoubtedly, were mentally unstable or hoaxers, and a few were even convicted of criminal offenses.  But the same could be said for almost any group out there–butterfly collectors, graphologists, census-takers, and IT personnel.  To wipe away entire groups with a simple brush of the hand is, to me, missing the point.

Just looking at the four Georges–Adamksi, Van Tassel, King, and Hunt Williamson–all of these men have been dogged by claims of being con artists, out to make a buck, delusional, and demagogues in training.  Generally speaking, when I’ve met with Contactees and their representatives, I’ve found them to be some of the kindest, most sincere people I’ve ever met, and describing them as outright frauds doesn’t jibe with my experience.  Perhaps I’m naive.  Even if I’ve not always been convinced of the truthfulness of their stories, I have been convinced of their sincerity.  But who really knows?  Without evidence, anything is possible.  It’s also possible that their claims were totally or partially true, a story that started with a germ of fact that became a big fish story.

Regardless, the Contactees are not so easily dismissed.  Strange phenomena seemed to follow Adamski in his wake; people around him saw craft in the sky.  The Integratron, allegedly given as mental blueprints to Van Tassel via mental channeling, is a marvelous building with fascinating construction and peculiar acoustics.  The Aetherius Society, still running, is the spiritual home of many kind and wonderful people.

Some of their stories may have been exaggerated.  Others may have been totally fabricated.  Others may have been legitimate, or perhaps involved interpretation that others would not agree with.  In my experience, too much emphasis is placed on the literal truth or falsehood of these stories.  What is lost is the message and implications behind them, which is a message that can seem quaint, but is becoming ever more relevant; that the world is headed for a major disaster, and it is up to us to do something about it.  The Space Brothers, whether real or imagined, serve as a role model towards which we can strive as a species.  To overcome conflict and the foibles of human evolution; to raise ourselves both spiritually and technologically; to concern ourselves deeply with the welfare of our fellow beings…these are the important things to take away from the Contactees, not whether Adamski’s Venusian scout ship was the top of a Coleman lantern.

It is not the intention of this film to give any solid answers to these questions.  I am not going to comment on whether Adamski or Van Tassel was telling the truth, because I have no way of knowing.  I want merely to present the information in a way that lets people decide for themselves.  Perhaps that’s a cop-out.  But I honestly feel that too often in this world, we’re told what to think and feel, and I don’t want to contribute to that.  So I allow and welcome comments from believers and nonbelievers alike on this blog.