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Getting Beyond the Cosmic Snake Oil

crop circles
Will the Circles Be Unbroken: Hoaxsters and charlatans gravitate to the UFO fringe hoping to make a buck or prove a point. True researchers learn to bust 'em.

Leading British UFO researcher Philip Mantle says something definitely is happening, but beliefs and stories don't amount to proof

By Christopher Weir

Philip Mantle is director of the British UFO Research Association and author of Without Consent, an investigation into UK abduction accounts. He was interviewed last week while visiting Santa Cruz on the lecture circuit.

Metro Santa Cruz: What are some of the theories for UFOs, getting away from the strict parameters of conventional time and space?

Philip Mantle: My wife and I interviewed a cosmologist, Professor Kaku, who wrote the book Hyperspace. Now this man is a bona fide scientist, he's not some fruitcake. He looks at Einstein's theories, Hawking's theories. ... He's taken all these theories and gone one step further. He has no doubt that there are other dimensions and that there are the capabilities to move from these other dimensions in an instant. And he says the only thing that prevents mankind from doing it is that we don't yet have the power.

UFO research seems to suffer a sort of perpetual confusion that is often attributed to disinformation campaigns and hoaxes.

There are people who perpetrate hoaxes for notoriety, to get their face in the newspapers or on television, or to try to gain some monetary value. But there's also a different type of hoaxer who is not after anything. They will sit back and take great delight in the fact that they may have fooled individuals or even an organization. It's a different kind of disinformation.

Sort of like the Unabomber, a malevolent, self-contained eroticism?

Sure. They take great delight in plunking red herrings within the UFO literature and sitting back and saying nothing ... just for pure spite and personal enjoyment. I've seen it happen, and I could give many examples.

Some say that military or intelligence groups are behind some of the disinformation.

It's quite possible, but I'm not convinced that any of these establishments in the United States or UK are any more aware of the phenomenon than we are.

But there could be other reasons, correct?

Say you're the head of some secret military establishment and you are conducting tests with military hardware of one form or another, and you don't particularly want anyone to know but you can't cover it up completely because of its location or whatever. The best coverup is to call it a UFO. ... I come along and see this thing that you're experimenting with, and you've fed me that disinformation, and off I go to the newspaper. ... Who's going to listen? Who's going to believe me? Nobody. It's the perfect coverup of a military maneuver, test or accident.

There are some who claim they've worked at top-secret installations, such as Area 51, and that all kinds of crazy alien stuff is going down. And these people are in the literature, and they're affiliated with certain researchers.

You know, researchers--and I'm no different--have belief systems. And sometimes when people like this come along, they throw their hands up and say, "There, I told you so. Here's someone confirming my beliefs." Again, I'm not saying these people are wrong, or that they're telling lies. I'm sure they're sincere in their beliefs. But beliefs and stories don't amount to proof.

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From the July 25-31, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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