July 3, 2010

Why Do People Join Cults?

Are you new to the field of Ufology? Have you been attracted by one fantastic story or another? Or maybe you’ve been experiencing some strange events or phenomenon in your life and you have questions. Before you dive too deeply into this strange, seedy world – I would like to issue all travelers a caution and some advice. The question we’re going to answer today is why do people join cults?

The Nature of Ufology Today

In our recent radio conversation with long-time Ufologist Don Ecker, Don asked me why we started this website. I figured this question may come up, because I get asked it often whenever I introduce someone to our site. We don’t quite fit into the “mold.” We are not a believer forum – we require all claims are backed by solid, verifiable evidence. However, we are not a skeptics forum, because we discuss many issues that knee-jerk skeptics avoid such as spirituality, cryptozoology and many other topics that the “mainstream” might automatically consider “weird.”

Here’ the thing – these topics aren’t actually “weird,” it’s just that so many people that are drawn to these topics are also mentally unstable. This makes it difficult for sane people, like you, to find some respectable and “normal” place to try to find the answers.

The answer that I gave Don surprised him, I think. I quoted him. The quote came from an essay he wrote in 2007, published by Kevin Randle, titled Don Ecker Quits Ufology. In the essay, the most powerful paragraphs expresses the frustration and exhaustion that many respectable researchers and writers throughout Ufology are feeling:

“I’m tired of the media that is blinded by their prejudice about UFOs, their snide and condescending remarks about something that quite frankly they know nothing about. I’m tired of people claiming to be researchers that refuse to accept the truth about something regardless of how many times it jumps up and bites them in the ass.

I’m tired of government agencies that continuously lie about a subject that has shown to be something real and even possibly affect our national security… and getting away with it for over 60 years. I’m tired of believers that become upset when their fuzzy illogic is shown to be as full of holes as Swiss Cheese. I’m tired of frauds and clowns in this field that are shown to be frauds and clowns and yet still are treated like they are stars with something important to say. I suppose you could just say I’m tired of all of it.”

Many of you reading this are probably nodding your heads in agreement. The hoaxes and con games from so many of those mentally unstable individuals lead to a phenomenon known as disinformation overload. Now, overwhelmingly the evidence shows that most of that disinformation comes from con artists who are simply using the field as a platform to gain notoriety or fame, even if on a small scale and within a fringe community.

Oddly, some of the hoaxes also seem to involved small private groups of people as well – people who tend to gravitate to and conduct scientific research on fringe topics. They try to remain under the radar in their efforts – but every now and then you can get a glimpse of one of them on the wings of many of these false stories.

The Creation of Cults

In his examination of the field of Ufology, Jacques Vallee often touches upon this strange phenomenon – that of small groups of individuals forming a cohesive group that shares a collective belief system regarding the phenomenon. Vallee thoroughly explored the question, why do people join cults… For the cohesive group, the belief system doesn’t need to be based in any physical reality or upon any real evidence – it just needs to somehow explain the phenomenon that they’ve all experienced.

Vallee said it best when he wrote in his 1989 book Dimensions:

“I think the stage is set for the appearance of new faiths, centered on the UFO belief. To a greater degree than all phenomena modern science is confronting, the UFO can inspire awe, the sense of the smallness of man, and an idea of the possiblity of contact with the cosmic. The religions we have briefly surveyed began with the miraculous experiences of one person, but to-day there are thousands for whom the belief in otherworldly contact is based on intimate conviction, drawn from what they regard as personal contact with UFOs and their occupants.” (page 192).

This collective belief system makes these groups feel normal, because they share those beliefs. These ideas may include that UFO sightings are caused by extra-terrestrials from other planets, that Intelligence communities across the world have an elaborate system of cover-up of alien visitations, or that aliens are channeling important messages for humanity through contactees or “mediums.”

Whenever a piece of evidence surfaces that runs counter to this group’s “belief-system,” the reaction from cult-members is rather astonishing. Normally kind and mature adults will resort to name-calling. Ordinarily law-abiding citizens will attempt to terrorize or slander anyone involved in revealing that truth.

In Messengers of Deception (a book I will be reviewing here at RU this month), Vallee describes this best:

“Human beings are under the control of a strange force that bends them in absurd ways, forcing them to play a role in a bizarre game of deception.” (p. 20)

Can You Find Answers Within Ufology?

So, why do people join cults? They do so for the very reason you, yourself are reading this blog entry. In fact, you are a perfect candidate for these cults. You have questions about a strange experience you’ve had that feels very real to you. You would like answers that you can’t get from mainstream sources that scorn you for your experiences, or treat you as though you’re crazy. You are certain that you aren’t having delusional visions or any other symptoms of mental illness – so where do you turn?

Well – you would typically end up where the “sick” people (who are actually having delusional visions) end up, on UFO forums that are essentially UFO cults.  You may find a welcoming community that acknowledges your experiences and make you feel as though they are “normal.”  You find a home. This is why people join cults – because they do not realize they’re joining a “cult.”

So what’s the test – how do you know if you’re joining up with a cult community? Well, the best approach I can think of to test a UFO community is to see if they adhere to the sort of “litmus test” that Vallee applied to UFO sightings called the “SVP” code. If the community follows this behavior upon any new report or claim turning up – then you’ve found a winner that you should join – one that is not a UFO cult.

  • Members study the reliability of the source of the story. An anonymous source isn’t given much credit. A person with a known criminal record is given even less. The community automatically filters out stories from such sources.
  • Researchers put “boots on the ground.” Researchers pick up the phone to call sources or visit witnesses and interview them to verify potentially valid claims.
  • Third, do members of the community first try to explain the story or claim with common sense? Do they initially explore natural phenomenon or conventional environmental factors that could explain the phenomena? This behavior isn’t skepticism, it is a healthy way to identify potentially valid paranormal phenomenon through the process of elimination.

All three of these factors were listed in Vallee’s model, rated from 0 to 4.  A “444” is the gold standard of a truly “impressive” event, or in the case of UFO’s – a sighting that simply can not be explained away.

So, why do people join cults? Because they are looking for answers. If the group that you are considering joining handles new stories or events in the manner described above – that’s the community that you want to join. That’s the community that will help you find the truth, and you don’t have to worry that you may be inadvertently stepping into a UFO cult community.

Filed under: UFOlogy,Ufology History — Tags: , , , — RyanDube @ 12:11 am

February 15, 2010

Greg Bishop Asks – Shouldn’t Ufology Have the Answer by Now?

Today I’d like to cover an excellent blog post from one of my personal favorite bloggers – Greg Bishop. On February 12, Greg posted an excellent blog entry titled, “Blurry Photos, Shaky Videos, and More Damn Sighting Reports.

What do I like about Greg’s blogging? Simple – he’s one of the few folks in Ufology that more often than not is willing to avoid diving into a particular belief head-first without some form of verifiable evidence. If you follow along with the latest sightings (I have my Google Feed Reader configured with the top “latest sighting” sources) then you know that lately there’s been a strange influx of increased reports over the past couple of months. A few examples:

->A February 12th report in the Exmouth Herald about a Close Encounter of the Third Kind in the UK.
->On February 12th, Wigan Today reported a witness account of another UK sighting in Standish Lower Ground.
->On February 12th, the Daily Dust blog reported the 44th sighting of a UFO in Lancaster.
->On February 12th, the Drogheda Independent reports on a man who actually captured some footage of the lights in the sky.

These are all only a few of the latest examples, but I can picture the old veteran Ufologist, Greg Bishop, watching all of the unfolding drama and buzz – shaking his head because he has seen the same series of events unfold so many times before. And in just a few weeks or months, the answer will be no closer – the world will only be left with more questions.

Bishop’s Take on the Madness

I would like to review a few of Greg’s best comments and respond to them, because I personally agree strongly with his stance and the direction he’s headed. Greg writes:

After over fifty years of an (occasionally) systematic study of UFOs, we seem to be nowhere nearer any good explanation than our parents and grandparents were. With all of the puzzling evidence, you would think that this mess would be solved by now.

This is the truth – and the crux of the problem not only in Ufology but also in ghost hunting, another area that I have an avid interest in. The problem in both fields is the same – after years of study, observations and research – humanity is nowhere closer to the source of these phenomenon. In 1979, when Jacques Vallee wrote Messengers of Deception (this was well over twenty years ago), he was already expressing the same sort of frustration with Ufology that Greg expresses on his blog. On page 3 of that book, Jacques writes:

That leaves the UFO buffs, who have been collecting stories for thirty years, concentrating on the kinds of data that fit their theories. And they have been fighting each other in an endless, pointless confrontation, not of ideas and theories, but of personalities in egotistical conflict.

However, you can’t really blame Ufologists either. If you lock a group of people into a pitch black room and then obscure the exit so no one (except those who know the secret location of the exit doorway) can possibly find the way out – in time the group will devolve into a mess of bickering, arguing and infighting. Sure, first you’ll have a leader or two who will try to lead the group out of the darkness, but once that goes on long enough, other members of the group will get frustrated with the lack of results and forge out on their own, believing that they can do better.

Compound that with the fact that every generation there are brand new members added to this group-in-darkness. And then compound that with the fact that some members of the group – out of sickness, spite or simple venality – decide to play games and fool members of the rest of the group into believing that the exit is somewhere that it isn’t.

What you end up with is pure madness and no answers. Greg continues:

The cultural model for the phenomenon is still aliens from other planets, even though there is no verifiable evidence to back up this belief, which is presently all that we have. Many UFO researchers and fans know (somehow) that aliens are here and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the population realizes this fact. Some of them are just waiting for that glorious “We told you so” day.

This is a perfect representation of the state of Ufology right now. I disagree that it’s the only belief that we have to work with, I do agree that it’s the predominant one at the moment. Greg continues:

There is a very good chance that some sort of non-human intelligence occasionally interacts with us. What form this takes is still wide open to study and debate, but centuries of strange encounters and a myriad of sometimes reflexive phenomena makes it difficult (for me anyway) to keep stuffing everything into the “delusion” basket. Aliens could be coming from other planets, but why limit our possibilities?

On this point – Greg hits at the heart of the issue. It could be that Ufology is now at a turning point. After fifty years of exploration, analysis and research, it’s time to come to terms with the fact that we’re dealing with a phenomenon that is deceptive in nature, interactive (although the interaction could very well be psychologically self induced), and constant throughout many generations of humanity.

Whether you’re talking fairies, elves, evil witches or aliens and night-time visitations, terrifying apparitions and flashes of glowing orbs in the air and the sky – all of these things are not new experiences…but they remain experiences that draw people toward the occult or other non-traditional systems of belief for “answers.”

Filed under: UFOlogy — Tags: , , , , — RyanDube @ 11:34 pm

April 29, 2009

Real Alien Sightings? The Boshkung Lake Invasion

mysteries3The following report was submitted by RU’s own member Longhaircowboy, a UFO enthusiast and investigator.

I became interested in the Boshkung Lake event when I picked up a book at the local library by Curt Sutherly titled UFO Mysteries. I had never read this book, but after reading his account of the Boshkung Lake Invasion, I became interested in why I couldn’t find any sign of anyone doing an investigation.

I posted the sighting to Reality Uncovered to see if, maybe, there were any others out there who may be of assistance.

Investigating “Real Alien Sightings” and UFOs at Boshkung Lake

In trying to solve the Boshkung Lake sightings I’ve only had two accounts to go by. Curt Sutherlys account in UFO Mysteries, and John Colombos UFOs Over Canada. While I’m not sure that Colombos account is related, it did occur in the same area. The one difference being the real alien sighting of occupants. 

Witness, Robert Sufferin, describes an encounter with one of the ships occupants.  He says, “It appeared short and had very broad shoulders,” and describes its movement as apelike. He reported that it wore a one piece silver suit and on its head it had a globe with no visible faceplate. He was the only witness who encountered beings and reported what he believed as a real alien sighting.

Tracking Down Similar Accounts

I was unable to find any contact info for Curt Sutherly, and my email to John Colombo remains unanswered. I am still trying to obtain the Fate magazine article from Nov. 1977.

Here’s the area covered:


Here’s what the lake looks like:

I searched the Library and Archive Canada (the list of town and city names I searched is too lengthy to include, but it is in the hundreds) for any similar accounts, and only found one in the town of Trenton.

There was also a possibility in Toronto.

I also searched all of the RCAF bases that would have been nearby at the time. The following are all of the bases:

  • RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Arnprior, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Belleville, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Brantford, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB / 16 Wing Borden, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB Centralia, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB Clinton, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Deseronto, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB Downsview, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Dunnville, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Fingal, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Guelph, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Hagersville, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Hamilton, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Jarvis, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB / 1 Wing Kingston, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Leaside, Ontario
  • RCAF Station London, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFS Mountain View, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB / 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario
  • RCAF Sation Oshawa, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Picton, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Port Albert, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB Rockcliffe, Ontario
  • RCAF Station Toronto, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB / 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario
  • RCAF Station / CFB Uplands, Ontario
  • RCAF Detachment Armstrong Station, Ontario
  • RCAF Detachment North Bay, Ontario
  • RCAF Detachment Kapuskasing, Ontario
  • RCAF Detachment Malton, Ontario
  • http://www.rcaf.com/stations/canadian.php

searchrescue My main clues were Mrs. Lunham’ss description of the object and the noise. Witness Mrs. Lunham described the sound they made as a “dull thumping”. This fits the description of the sound of a helicopter, as does the reported behavior of the craft.  Another clue was their trace evidence. Witnesses reported a tripod-like impression in the ground. Also, some witnesses described them as “polliwogs,” or “helicopters without tails” (maybe they saw them head on).

I was unable to contact the witnesses in Sutherlys account, including Earl Pitts, Jim Cooper, Dale Parnell, Pete Sawyer, the Barnes’, Lester Hicks, and the Lunhams. I also failed to contact the journalist, Peter Courtney, who worked for the now defunct Minden Progress, who witnessed an event. I should also note that newspapers in Canada charge a large fee to retrieve articles from their archives for you (none of those that I was interested in were available on the internet).

Potential Craft Explanations

Also, unlike in the U.S., I couldn’t gain access to flight logs at airports or military facilities. These are under the perview of the Defence Department and are not considered public record. Here in the states, I just call the airport and voila!

Mrs. Lunhams description of the landing pattern, as noted in a Lindsey Post article, was a “v-shape with two pad like markings”. This would seem to point to a helicopter, as there are many that have similar landing gear.

So I looked for helicopters used by the RCAF and the squads nearby. According to rcaf.com, the helicopters that have 3-point landing gear used are:

  • Boeing CH-113A (Labrador)
  • CH-147 (Chinook) heavy lifting
  • Vertol H-21A/B
  • Vertol HUP3
  • Sikorsky H-34, H-5/S-51, CH-124A (Seaking) used in search and rescue
  • CH-148 (Cyclone) used in search and rescue

Keep in mind, most of these were heavy-lifting craft or used in search and rescue. However, I was unable to confirm they were in use in the area and at the time of the sightings. The best I could find was that in 1972, CFB Shearwater was home to the 406 and 450 used the Seaking, and the Chinook and CFB Borden(400) employed the Seaking, Chinook, and Cyclone (dates unknown). I also checked CFB Downsview, home to the 400 Tactical Helicopter, the 411 Tactical Helicopter and CFB Rockliffe, which ceased flying in 1962.

There are 2 local airfields the Muskoka Airport, and the Haliburton/Stanhope Airport. All of which were unable to answer my inquires. I was amazed to learn that in Canada, even the flight logs at private and public airports are not available to the public. I can understand this with military air fields, but here in the states I can just call the local airport and get the info.

Here’s some other possibilities:

Although none of these have any apparent links to the events described in Sutherlys book.

I also found the following account from North Bay:

RCAF Station North Bay

Typically, two wings of night fighters and a single wing of day fighters were stationed there, originally the CF-100 Canuck/F-86 Sabre, and later the CF-101 Voodoo.


This would seem to rule them out of the helicopter equation. I also found this interesting account from CFB North Bay:

Following defence cutbacks in 1972, only a single flying unit was stationed at the airfield, the 414 Electronic Warfare Squadron. CFB North Bay remains Canada’s primary NORAD site, with responsibility for monitoring the Canadian NORAD sector, namely the ADIZ surrounding Canada. Tools used by 22 Wing include the North Warning System which stretches across the Canadian Arctic, as well as coastal radars on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada (primarily used by Maritime Command, these radars reportedly have the dual ability to track small aircraft), and any Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft operated by the USAF or
NATO in Canadian airspace.

Not widely known is a UFO incident associated with CFB North Bay. Several teenagers and base residents reported seeing a massive triangular shaped craft hovering over the base for several minutes on Sept 13th, 2001.

There was no such craft detected by the American or Canadian operations bases for NORAD during that evening.


The CFB and RCAF are not the same thing. CFB is Canadian Forces Base and RCAF is Royal Canadian Air Force. In some cases they were originally air bases but then merged with the larger Canadian Forces. Or in other cases they were downsized to squads and moved around the various bases.

I looked at the VSTOL angle and I couldn’t place any VSTOL craft in the time frame and area.

I did find one interesting one. At the International V/STOL Historical Society, there’s the NORD 500 Cadet (its under the history section) which bears a striking resemblence to the phenomana described. Alas, it only had one tethered flight and was canceled in 1968.

Final Words

The various chambers of commerce in the area that I contacted were unable to provide any assistance.

I checked the weather for the area at the time of the events and found no anomolous weather occurences. All reports showed favorable conditions. In short, I was unable to reach any decisive conclusion concerning the Boshkung Lake event.

So barring anymore evidence turning up, I can only conclude that this event was and still is a mystery.  Although, it is my opinion that what the witnesses saw was probably a front on view of a helicopter. This seems likely, as they may have been conducting some type of training in search and rescue in the area. There was a training squad based not too far from Boshkung Lake, and although I was not able to confirm (the Dept. of Defence are very tight lipped) it does present the most likely scenario.

Filed under: UFOs — Tags: , , , — RyanDube @ 2:44 pm

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