I have been a conspiracy-theory nut for some time. Back in the 1970’s, my father and I went to a movie called Chariots of the Gods. It presented the insane theories of Erich von Daniken as if they were fact. It mentioned the Nazca Lines, Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid, and other ancient wonders and seemed to show depictions of ancient aliens in the art of those cultures. My father and I were convinced by his arguments and thought there really must be something to it. I went to college with a real hunger to learn more.
I was disappointed to learn later that the man was a completely unprofessional, untrained archeologist, and that he may have actually stolen his main thesis for the Chariots book from Carl Sagan and I. S. Shklovskii in their book, Intelligent Life in the Universe. Sagan would go on to say;
“That writing as careless as von Däniken’s, whose principal thesis is that our ancestors were dummies, should be so popular is a sober commentary on the credulousness and despair of our times. I also hope for the continuing popularity of books like Chariots of the Gods? in high school and college logic courses, as object lessons in sloppy thinking. I know of no recent books so riddled with logical and factual errors as the works of von Däniken.”
—Carl Sagan, Foreword to The Space Gods Revealed (quote and citation borrowed from Wikipedia)
So I went through a number of Sagan-influenced years of my life saying that there was no sound reason to believe that out of an infinity of places to visit, interstellar tourists would want to come and visit here. Does a normal, sane tourist want to go to an island full of cannibals? Our movies, after all, always depict us killing, dissecting, or taking advantage of alien visitors.
But then I discovered the whole story of the Roswell, New Mexico crash in 1947. Convinced at one point that the crash really was a Project Mogul weather balloon, I began to discover the work of another alien-visitor-obsessed gentleman by the name of Stanton Friedman. This man is much harder to dismiss. He has a master’s degree in physics and spent fourteen years as a nuclear physicist “for such companies as General Electric (1956–1959), Aerojet General Nucleonics (1959–1963), General Motors (1963–1966), Westinghouse (1966–1968), TRW Systems (1969–1970), and McDonnell Douglas, where he worked on advanced, classified programs on nuclear aircraft, fission and fusion rockets, and compact nuclear power plants for space applications. Since the 1980s, he has done related consultant work in the radon-detection industry. Friedman’s professional affiliations have included the American Nuclear Society, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and AFTRA.” (quoted from Wikipedia… I know, I know… but this is all verifiable information, not made up or imaginary like von Däniken’s.) He is also the first civilian to investigate the Roswell crash. He began by interviewing the air-base’s intelligence officer during the incident, Major Jesse Marcel.
More and more I became interested in the phenomenon and the people who research it. I have a pretty good list of liars and clowns who talk about aliens, and I will use some of that in a future post. There is comedy gold in that topic.
But I do believe that aliens are real and have visited our planet. I began researching the topic again for my novel, Catch a Falling Star, because it centers on an alien invasion and a clash between incompetent space travelers and single-minded Midwesterners who can’t possibly believe. There are just too many people surfacing with stories to tell about alien encounters, UFO sightings, and government cover-ups. People like Nick Pope, a former Minister from the British government, Paul Hellyer , a former Defense Minister from Canada, Edgar Mitchell, an Apollo astronaut, and numerous technicians and inventors from McDonnell-Douglas and other aircraft manufacturers are coming forward in legions to testify that things like this are very real.