Monday, March 22, 2010


Something short, folks, but maybe slightly interesting anyway: during my first sequence home in West Virginia helping care for my Mom, I had a couple of experiences wherein it was pointed out to me why listening [and doing so without threat] is so important. People told me several of their own anomalistic life stories; something that could never have happened at the early "social-dance" level of having conversations. A couple of them were interesting enough that I'll pass them along. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But before I do, I want to salute the best listener that UFOlogy has ever had: John Timmerman, former treasurer of CUFOS. [That's John to the left attending a symposium at his beloved Cornell]. During his active years, John was the perfect listener, the perfect "front door" to the UFO "store". Affable, gentlemanly, completely non-threatening, John could stand there with his traveling mall UFO exhibit and have every type of person come up to him and tell him, even while being taped, of experiences which they had told no one else. John was a great treasure and we'll probably never have another like him. [John still lives in Lima, Ohio by the way, and if any of you know him, he would probably like a friendly phonecall. Don't make it too lengthy if you do, though as that wonderful old man doesn't have the energy of youth any more.] John's "harvest" of more than a thousand novel UFO reports from his mall days served as the basis of the book, Grass Roots UFOs, which I was privileged to write for him. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I am no John Timmerman, but at least I get this "listening thing" right once in a while. While back in WVA, I "risked" telling several people that I was a UFO researcher---most were polite. A few listened to the conversations that ensued and offered their own anomalistic experiences. [often not even UFOlogical]. My brother's girlfriend admitted to having an out-of-body-experience [brief but powerful and scary to her] which was induced by a trance-like suggestion. My mother, of all people admitted that she had seen a young girl follow my sister-in-law out of the room, when there was no young girl in the house---this is the house which has had many apparitional events---but being told that there was no young girl, mother decided that there must have been something wrong with her vision, despite having described the girl in great detail and definite "concreteness". One of my brothers admitted to having another one of his many clairvoyant incidents---he has so many of these that I've forgotten exactly what this one was. And there were more. The one "report" that I had enough sense to write down and so can give to you with some detail, was a UFO case from Nevada in 1972. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The witness [I don't know whether he wants to become internet famous so I'll just call him "The Plumber" as that's what he was doing when we sat down with him one day ---- he's a friend of the family by the way so they know him] was, way back in 72, working with an oil-exploration group, owned by his grandfather, in the desert near a range of low mountains. They knew the land well, having explored all over it. His crew occasionally saw black project flyovers [once a low-flying Blackbird; and once a crash of some craft that the military told them was to be talked about, if at all, as a meteorite--if the company wanted to continue to be occasionally hired by them]. On this day, their gaze was alerted to a flash of bright silver which very rapidly whisked along the nearby range. It came to a very abrupt, non-inertial, stop, and hovered there. The hovering was many seconds, maybe even a couple of minutes. It was plenty of time to see the object as an elongated cigar-shaped object with no other features---and no noise. After its pause, the thing re-oriented itself and flashed away. They knew that the range was 25 miles long, and, if the object was at the range's distance as they thought, the speed of the object would have been 90,000mph. If we give them credit for being anywhere in the ballpark [and that's the best we can do], the craft's velocity was startling. When they got back to base, he told his grandfather of the incident. The old man was one of those people who wouldn't admit that any such things were real [even though he had seen one himself] and finally told him to not make much out of it, as "people have been reporting this sort of thing out here for years". Interesting in a lot of ways, methinks; and something that would have never have been told without a sympathetic environment. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Listening is a real talent---especially friendly, non-judgmental listening. John Timmerman was the Master. Hail, John !, and GOD bless you for teaching me.


  1. Thanks for this short and more than just "slightly" interesting entry.
    The more i get into this wide field of anomalistic the more complex it gets ...
    Sorry for my broken English that follows.
    I agree to the importance of the "listening thing". I know self-proclaimed skeptics who call those stories urban myths, but what separates them from urban myths is the fact that we _know_ the witness.

    But i wonder how much stories from relatives and other people whom one fully trusts have an influence to the way of how a UFO researcher treats the difference of facts vs. factoids ...

    Just my two cents added.

  2. My "method" for dealing with the great flow of stories about apparently anomalous things is to "collect" piles of incidents. If there is a "pile" of seemingly similar things, then I think that I am dealing with a "true" anomaly. At that point I assess the salient points of the pile based on what I consider the "best" cases--this must be quite subjective unfortunately as, by definition, the anomalies don't have "scientific demonstration" or they'd no longer be anomalies.[at least as to the mere existence of the primary characteristics being reported]. Here's where the "family and friends" business comes in. Those witnesses that are thoroughly known and trusted have greater weight than almost anyone else. [common sense] But I can't transmit that same level of trust to anyone who doesn't know them. So my scholarship doesn't depend upon their cases, but my inner judge does. I believe that everyone does this, even if they don't admit it. "Personal Knowledge" will trump other sorts of information most of the time. I need to recognize this and be as honest with myself as possible so as not to honor "personal knowledge" in the face of overwhelming counter-facts. I believe that people have a very hard time doing that, and most of the time, if it is well vetted "personal knowledge", probably SHOULDN'T let others talk them out of it. There are "personal knowledge" situations, like my and my brother's CE1, where probably nothing could get me to believe that I didn't see it. Such things force themselves upon you and of course they "color" your thoughts.

  3. I think this "personal knowledge" and its nonsignificance for science shows many problems within science and the scientific community. I know what i experienced (two CE1 cases and several paranormal activities), but for science all this does not exist because there is no hard evidence and a sighting is not reproducable. Even if every person on the planet would have his own CE1 encounter, science still would have to deny the existence of UFOs. Which reminds me of the problems with consciousness that the scientific community had and still has. Everybody could testify that consciousness is real, but still science has problems to "admit" that it exists.

    I'm intrigued: Did you talk about your and your brother's CE1 in this place already?

  4. To anonymous: A). "Science" is just an attitude and a correlative method for looking into things. As long as it is recognized by society for what it is and is not, it is extremely useful as a tool. Unfortunately, its success in figuring out relatively easy things, plus a very unfortunate set of screwed up attitudes by people sitting on the top of organized religions, combined to produce a growing culture of persons who rejected anything which the method could not test. This sub-culture of "doubters" who would only credit things approachable by the method, then, rather naturally, took over academia and ultimately the ways in which public ideas are "consented" to. The things that the method can not control were therefore slowly expunged as if they did not exist. If we could simply teach of Science as what it is, and produce young learners who knew that they must assess all types of knowledge for what they amount to, we would have a healthy weigh-and-consider civilization rather than a black-vs-white one. Persons who say that nothing is real if it cannot be dealt with by the method are obviously speaking of a BELIEF that they have and not a fact. When one phrases their thinking that way, it is obvious that using the argument that a thing is not "science-able" therefore it is not real, is not only preposterous but culturally-stunting. But once the academic establishment got dominated by a philosophical school of reductionism [using, by the way, tools of ridicule and prejudicial treatment to their advantage], it became difficult to even protest against the limitations [and even wrong-headedness] of the dominant school. This is really not a difficult thing to see, philosophically. It has become almost impossible to reverse sociologically. ------------------------------------------------------B). As to my and my brother's CE1: My memory is that I briefly mentioned it here some time ago, but probably didn't describe it in detail. I guess that I should do that sometime. It's not the greatest high-strangeness thing that you've ever heard, but it was plenty good enough for me.

  5. What a great post! I've always suspected that the more productive and successful researchers, in any anomalistic endeavor, are the ones that know how to listen, well and without judgement. Most folks who experience these things are puzzled, frightened or confused (or all of that) and they deserve a hearing without a lot of poo-pooing. I was fortunate to be raised by an uncle that was the one in the family that was known for being interested in "that stuff". More than a few folks I know would always kinda snicker, until they had there own experience, and then suddenly ole Uncle Charlie would be the only one that would listen. Kinda cool actually...... I think that what every field investigator must have the right combination of empathy and great ears....

  6. Gee whizz, Prof - why ain' I surprised y'whole mob's psychic?

    At the moment y'trottin' out the weird seeings and doings of y'kith and kin but why do I get the feelin' there's more than a few odd doin's under y'r own bonnet?

    I'm feelin', here, y'holdin' back on some o' your own seein's and doin's 'cause you don't want to risk devaluin' the perceptions some (those with overly tight knicker elastic 'round their minds) have of you as an objective scientist.

    Anyway, I don't know whether you've been doin' any inadvertent mooing or inexplicably punchin' the air to cries of "Torres's KING!!!" over the last week or so, ('cause he's been bangin' them in like nobody's business for Liverpool FC; talk about your unidentified flying objects - until the goalies retrieve them out the back of the net to see they're only seriously Torressed footballs!).

    But even if you haven't, you're still on my list of those I regularly fire white rays at from the palms of my hands, (I even try glancin' a few off you at your mother, from time to time, but any love affairs she starts havin' with Venusians's nothin' to do with me!); and since you no longer 'feel' quite so nervously exhausted as previously - who knows? - they might even be helping!

    Maybe I should try sendin' some John Timmerman's way!

    p.s. the picture of John Timmerman'll make it easier to focus my attention on him, but the one I use for you's that one of that '70s' style guy wearing the light brown snazzy leather jacket in your Where is the Mind? piece, so if you get the urge to start bombin' up and down Virginia in a Starsky & Hutch style Gran Torino shouting, "Torres's KING!!!" you're as much to blame as me!




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