Monday, October 15, 2018

The Sten Lindgren Contact Case

In the annals of UFO history there are few issues that have created more debate, derision and enmity in the UFO community than the classic contactee cases of the 1950s. The situation is not very much different today. Few ufologists appear to be able to handle these cases with an open and investigating spirit. The believers believe too much and the skeptics dismiss empirical data without investigation. Finding weak points in the claims of the true believer is usually not very difficult but when dealing with complicated contactee cases it is equally important to be critical of the critic and skeptical of the skeptic.

Sten Lindgren at his home, December 25, 1984
I learned this the hard way during my formative years in ufology. My first teacher or mentor in the strange and sometimes whacky underground world of the UFO movement was Swedish contactee Sten Lindgren. A gentle soul, mystic and idealist who told of both physical and telepathic contacts with the space brothers.  Being a naive teenager I was immensely fascinated by his claims and became a member of his group of eager students and activists, the Intergalactical Federation (IGF). But after a couple of years in this very special social milieu I began asking critical question which eventually led to the founding of AFU.

Still I was deeply interested in the many contact claims of Sten Lindgren and decided to gather as much data as possible to determine what was reality and fantasy in the world of Sweden´s most famous contactee. This endeavor proved to be a tricky problem as the core group around Sten were unwilling to talk. But I kept on turning every stone and after several years had quite an extensive file on IGF and its members.

Sten Lindgren (right) together with Roland von Malmborg 1971

The central contact experience often mentioned by Sten Lindgren in lectures, books,  articles, radio- and TV interviews happened 1965 at lake Nävsjön, south of Nyköping in central Sweden. During the Autumn of 1965 Sten and his close friend Christer Janson are offered to participate in a contact with space people by contactee Daniel Glantz. On a Saturday night in November 1965 Sten, Christer and a third friend Bertil a.k.a. Besic (real name known to me) travel by car from Stockholm to the home of Daniel Glantz and his wife Ingrid in Nyköping. Before leaving for the contact the group have a cup of tea and Christian are instructing them not to wear any metallic objects such as coins, watch etc.  When the group has traveled a few Swedish miles south of Nyköping, entering a small dirt road, the car is stopped and Daniel turn the car headlights on and off a few times and then proceed further. Now Sten and Christer begin experiencing a strange sensation as if faint electrical currents are playing on their heads, like an electric hairnet.

According to Sten Lindgren this is what happened next: Around 9.30 p.m. Daniel find a parking spot close to the small lake called Nävsjön and the group leave the car. From a distance of around 50 meters Sten observe a landed bell-shaped saucer. There are also two craft hovering a few hundred meters above the lake. From the left side of the landed saucer comes a man dressed in ski-type uniform with a wide belt. He looks like a normal human being and have long hair. Daniel signal three times with a flashlight and the man takes something from his belt signalling back. This light stop in mid air at various distances.

Illustration of the Nävsjön contact according to Sten Lindgren

The man start walking towards the group and Daniel, Bertil and Ingrid go to meet him. Sten and Christer are told to stay where they are and just watch.  Sten can hear the group talk for about five minutes. Bertil is carrying a brown envelope that he hand over to the man. The group return, enter the car and take of.  After travelling a short distance Daniel stop and everybody leave the car. The night sky is starlit and Sten observe another saucer coming slowly gliding above the trees. When Sten and Christer look up they get a visionary experience as if the stars are much closer, a sort of zooming effect and they can see many more stars than is normal. It was like a consciousness expansion. After this observation the group return to Nyköping where Sten, Christer and Bertil continue their journey to Stockholm.

Beginning in the 1980s some of the witnesses had begun to open up regarding the incident, giving more and more details of what had happened. I had also began corresponding with Daniel Glantz who claimed there was a genuine contact although I found many of his letters rather far out and deeply religious. In 1985 I finally persuaded Sten and Daniel to be interviewed before writing an article on the case. On August 15 I visited Nävsjön in the company of Sten Lindgren followed by an in-depth interview on August 26. I also interviewed Daniel Glantz at his home in Nyköping on August 24, 1985. During a dinner in November 1985 with the witness Bertil he confirmed to me that he was the one that had carried the envelope during the contact but he insisted on anonymity.

Sten Lindgren at Nävsjön, August 15, 1985

Sten standing beside lake Nävsjön from where he observed the landed craft

By this time I deemed the case so well documented that I wrote an article for the Swedish magazine Sökaren, published in late 1985 (no 9). I called the article ”En svensk Adamskikontakt” (A Swedish Adamski-type contact) and presented it as a possibly genuine contact with benevolent alien visitors. But there were still many questions unanswered. How come that none of the witnesses could remember the exact date of the incident, not even the correct month. Both September and November was mentioned. I was also rather dubious of a statement made in a letter from Daniel, indicating a connection with the U.S. Air Force.  In a phone conversation with Sten Lindgren June 17, 1985 he, to my great surprise, speculated that the whole incident could have  been staged or a bluff arranged by Daniel using a model or balloon.

In the Summer of 1986 I finally succeeded in getting interviews with Bertil and Christer Jansson.  Bertil was according to Sten a key person in the contact as he had handed over the envelope to the spaceman. When I asked about the content of the envelope Bertil said he had a black-out during the incident and couldn´t remember but that he often carried pen and paper and in a sort of calligraphy wrote and made drawings as a hobby. ”It is possible that this so called strange envelope contained some of these drawings but I am not sure… It is also possible that I dropped the envelope, I don´t know.” Bertil was adamant that it did not contain any secret message to some spaceman.  Bertil remember seeing a light in the forest but has no memory of a saucer. His recollections of the incident are very hazy. He does remember that they stopped once more to try telepathic contact but he did not see any saucer coming close as told by Sten.

In an interview August 11, 1986 Christer Janson gave a rather different version of the incident than Sten Lindgren: ”It was a light that was not natural but emanated from some kind of lamp, spotlight or headlight that could have come from a vehicle, boat or car but to me it was obviously not an observation of an Adamski-type craft with clear outlines, but Sten claims to have seen something like that.” To Christer the most memorable part of the evening was the mind expansion: ”The best evidence for me is the mind change because no earthly power could affect that unless they had put drugs in the tea before we left… It was a pleasant feeling, not at all negative.”

Daniel Glantz (left) and Christer Janson (right) being interviewed

To get more facts about the contact combined with field investigation I travelled with Daniel Glantz to Nävsjön on October 11, 1986. He told of three earlier meetings with a spaceman at this place. But what really made me dubious was his claim that the spacepeople had helped him win on the racetrack to get money for travelling to United States and Bahamas in 1971. He was given five digits for the next Swedish Åby galopp and won 50,000 SEK. That space people should visit this planet to help a man win on the racetrack wasn´t exactly credible.  After this meeting I told Daniel I would contact his former wife Ingrid to hear her version of the Nävsjön contact. But Daniel dissuaded me from contacting his former wife because she was now dying from cancer, bone tumor.

Daniel Glantz during a visit to Nävsjön, October 11, 1986

I wrote a letter to Ingrid and mentioned that Daniel had told me of her disease and offered help because my father was a nature therapist. Ingrid called me on the phone October 29, 1986 and this conversation became for me the heureka moment in the whole investigation.  When I asked of her physical illness she didn´t understand what I meant as she felt fine. After mentioning what Daniel had told me of her cancer Ingrid exclaimed ”Oh, not that too”.  And then I was given a completely different story of the Nävsjön contact and what had transpired during their marriage.

Håkan: This incident which you witnessed in 1965, did you see the craft?
Ingrid: No, absolutely not.  I am so astonished that these people have seen something.
Håkan: Didn´t  you notice a man coming out then?
Ingrid: No, absolutely not. I was there all the time and I can clearly state there was no man coming out.
Håkan: Ok, that is strange.
Ingrid: Yes, I find it strange too.
Håkan: But you were a group standing together?
Ingrid: Yes, but there was no man. I must be honest…  as far as I know Daniel has never told me he saw a man there.
Håkan: But didn´t Daniel tell you of his own experiences?
Ingrid: Daniel has not met anyone.
Håkan: So what is this all about?
Ingrid: I believe there are psychological factors behind this.
Håkan: Do you think it is a conscious fake?
Ingrid: No, it can be unconscious wishful thinking. When you say we saw something in the forest I wonder if it could have been someone with a flashlight. The light was like coming from a flashlight. There is a lake there and people are fishing all the time.

Ingrid revealed the during their marriage the couple had lived a sort of ”Sunday-hippie life” using drugs like hash and LSD. She wanted desperately to get away from this life and turned for help to a local Christian church. After having been saved by a life with Christ she regarded everything to do with UFOs as evil.

Ingrid and Daniel Glantz

My investigation of the Nävsjön incident now turned in new directions. Ingrid had provided several names of people who were part of their group of friends in the 1960s. A group that often met to discuss UFOs, paranormal phenomena, mysticism etc. But they were also experimenting with drugs of various types. Could this be confirmed by other members or was Ingrid simply exaggerating to discredit her former husband? Two of the group members were Matts-Gösta Jonsson and Birgitta Holmberg. When I interviewed them they confirmed what Ingrid had stated. The group had experimented with drugs also using Mescaline, a psychedelic alkaloid with hallucinogenic effects. They bought Mescaline cactus at Östgöta trädgårdshall, a local gardener´s supply.  They never heard Daniel relate any meetings with space people and regard these stories as fantasies.

I later received confirmation of Daniel´s drug use from two more witnesses, Monica Ahnkvist and Yngve Freij. Daniel used to smuggle drugs in cookies from Denmark, according to Monica. Yngve Freij claimed to have tried LSD three times together with Daniel but he didn´t believe his UFO stories. With these confirmations the most likely explanation for the Nävsjön incident is that Daniel, without mentioning this to the other witnesses, put some Mescaline or LSD in the tea before going to the contact with the ”spaceman”.  This would explain the strange mind expansion effects attested by Sten Lindgren, Bertil and Christer Janson.

Yngve Freij visiting AFU in 1993

In spite of all this information Sten continued to relate the Nävsjön incident as a real contact on TV, interviews and in the book he wrote in 1997, Dialog med Kosmisk Kultur (Dialogue With A Cosmic Culture). Perhaps he really honestly believe to have witnessed this contact, not realizing the influence of drugs. I have never been able to confirm any of the many claims of contacts and UFO observations by Sten Lindgren. There are a few cases of lights observed by others together with Sten but only of a vague nature. Investigating the Sten Lindgren case was for me a profound learning experience and taught me many lessons. Sten has always been a gentle mystic, a good will idealist and I am grateful for having known him although his stories may be more fantasy than reality.

Sten Lindgren lecturing at a UFO conference

This story is a very good illustration of the importance of in-depth research, turning every possible stone, always checking sources again and again. It is also an illustration of the need to be honest with your own data, theories and convictions. This is why I value researchers, whether skeptics or believers, who after years of field investigation and published writings have, in a public debate, the guts to stand up and say – Well, I may be wrong.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

George Adamski - Is the Tide Turning?

One of the most influential books in UFO history is Flying Saucers Have Landed by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski. Published in 1953, it has been referred to as ”the book that was dynamite”. And the dynamite was George Adamski´s report of meeting a spaceman in the California desert on November 20, 1952 and a return visit of the craft December 13. In support of these encounters were several photos and affidavits from six witnesses. Since the 1950s there has been an endless pro-and-con debate regarding the veracity of this first contact claim and the close-up photos taken by Adamski.

One of the researchers convinced of the authenticity of George Adamski´s 1952 contact is Michel Zirger, born in France but since twenty-four years living in Japan. In two former books The Incredible Life of George Hunt Williamson (co-authored with Maurizio Martinelli), 2016, and ”We Are Here!” Visitors Without A Passport, 2017 the author have presented much new data on Adamski and Williamson. Now we have Zirger´s third book, Authenticating the George Adamski Case. The Desert Center Investigation. A companion to the book "We Are Here!", 150 pages with more than 70 photos and illustrations, nearly all in color. This is a detailed and extensive study of the empirical evidence indicating that, as the late French ufologist Franck Boitte wrote: ”… there is in the George Adamski saga much more than meets the eye”. Zirger´s book, in a very concrete way, show that this is an actual fact revealed by a digital enhancement and analysis of the Adamski photographs.

George Adamski was, and still is, regarded as a very controversial figure in the UFO community, but his first contact with the spaceman in the California desert is really unusually well documented compared to many other contactee claims. This is one of the reasons why Michel Zirger argues for a second look at this historical event: ”This case of contact of November 20, 1952 – the first case of contact with an entity of human appearance – deserved to be at least reassessed in a dispassionate way. This is what I have humbly tried to do in this book, gathering together the factual elements of information already known since the release of Flying Saucer Have Landed and those I excavated through my research.”

In the first two chapters Michel Zirger presents biographical data of his background and life in France. A passion for books included everything ”from Mallarmé to Adamski”. When the UFO interest began he devoured all the aviable literature in French. The book that made the greatest impact was the French edition of Flying Saucers Have Landed: ”A Magical reading experience I have never gotten tired of. Even today, I still consult this old red and gold Jái Lu edition”.  Here I find a kindred spirit. Of all the UFO books I´ve read during my life this classic remains the all time favourite. Desmond Leslie´s pioneering study of UFO phenomena, including George Adamski, in the light of the Esoteric Tradition is a path I have followed in my own, somewhat heretical, research and writings.

Michel Zirger

Except literature there were two other decisive factors in the life of Michel Zirger that finally led to the writing of his books on George Hunt Williamson and George Adamski. As a young boy of thirteen his mother revealed to him that she had, in July 1964, observed a classic flying saucer with a cupola and strongly lit windows, that stopped hovering very close to her, around 45 meters. Of even greater significance was Zirger´s three observations and telepathic contact with ”aliens” in public places not far from central Tokyo. There were witnesses to these encounters, which he described in ”We Are Here!”.

In the remaining sixteen chapters Zirger presents a detailed analysis and documentation of what happened on November 20 and December 13, 1952: witnesses, photographs, original newspaper articles and later comments by Adamski, Williamson and other participants during the early years of the 1950s. A major breakthrough in Zirger´s research was when he became acquainted with Danish photographer and painter Rene Erik Olsen. In 2017 Olsen made digital enhancements of some of the Adamski photographs and discovered amazing details that even Adamski himself was obviously not aware of, showing the large cigar-shaped spacecraft and what appears to be the spaceman himself. Olsen has also published his findings in The George AdamskiStory – Historic Events of Gigantic Implications. If Glenn Steckling, director of the Adamski Foundation, will allow a similar digital enhancement and analysis of at least one of the original negatives and the Olsen findings can be confirmed it could implicate a major revolution in UFO research and a renewed interest in the early 1950s contactees.

In spite of the extensive study made by Michel Zirger there are a few details or mysteries not addressed in the book. When the group had stopped in the desert and observed the cigar-shaped craft, why did Adamski insist on leaving the group and walk alone to a spot around 500 meters from the others? For a group deciding for skywatching in the desert it would be more reasonable to stick together in one place. Could Adamski somehow (telepathically) been informed that a physical contact was planned without mentioning this to his friends?

In letters to Emma Martinelli, written before the 1952 contact, Adamski reveal some very interesting facts regarding his first "science fiction" book Pioneers of Space, published in 1949. "... speaking of visitors from other planets, you see, in the physical I have not contacted any of them, but since you have read Pioneers of Space you can see how I get my information about these people and their homelands." (January 16, 1952). In an earlier letter he wrote: "In this letter I have explained, using illustrations, how one may venture from one place to another, while his physical is one place and he is in another. That is the way I have written this book. I actually have gone to the places I speak of; I actually have talked to the ones I speak of. To you I can reveal this since your letter reveals much, while to others I keep silent about this." (August 16, 1950).

George Adamski

Another very intersting aspect of the 1952 contact not further elaborated in this volume by Zirger are the many low-flying aircraft observed during Adamski´s meeting with the spaceman. He does mention though that ”a strategic bomber and two jets of the U.S. Air Force allegedly over-flew the zone of contact several times during the events” and that George Hunt Williamson later asserted that ”the Air Force did observe the landing from above and took pictures of it.” (p. 59). In his former book ”We Are Here!” (p. 250) Zirger documented a statement by George Adamski during a lecture at Caxton Hall, London on April 28, 1959. About one month after the desert contact a captain in the U.S. Air Force visited Palomar Gardens asking for pictures of the footprints and the plate with the famous writing from another planet, received by Adamski on December 13, 1952. When the Air Force captain returned he had made 10 x 12 enlargements for Adamski. But he also left his business card with the message ”Did you focus your telescope on me?”, implying that he was one of the pilots who had watched the contact from his plane. Adamski always kept this business card i his wallet.

There is a confirmation of this claim made by contactee George Van Tassel in his publication Proceedings: ”I was personally informed by an officer in Air Force Intelligence that George Adamski´s contact was filmed by Air Force personnel aboard one of the airplanes orbiting over the craft Adamski made contact with”. (Proceedings, vol. 5, no. 1, October 1956, p. 13) These statements, if true, would of course have tremendous implications. Some intelligence group within the U.S. have photographic evidence that the Adamski contact was authentic. This could be the key to understanding why he had a passport with special privileges (U.S. Government Ordnance Department Card) and later was invited to the Pope, Queen Juliana of Holland and perhaps also other political and military leaders, who had been informed that Adamski was a sort of go-between or courier for a group of alien visitors. ”My heart is a graveyard of secrets”, he once told his Swiss co-worker Lou Zinsstag.

Lou Zinsstag and George Adamski

Authenticating the George Adamski Story is an important contribution to our understanding of this first contact claim. Michel Zirger is to be commended for his excellent research and documentation. For those who wish to delve deeper into the Adamski enigma there are nine pages of notes and references, including a select bibliography. With all the renewed interest from several researchers and additional and rather unique data perhaps the tide is turning in favor of George Adamski? It would change ufology for ever.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Interview With Hilary Evans. Part 2

This is the second part of the interview Anders Liljegren and I did with Hilary Evans at AFU on October 7, 1996. In the former blog post I promised that this would be a transcription of the complete interview. What I didn´t realize at that time was that the interview takes more than one and a half hours. This would involve an inordinate amonut of time to transcribe so I decided to select those questions and answers I found most interesting. 

Hilary Evans at AFU, October 7, 1996

Håkan Blomqvist (HB): Did you start your own investigations of cases?

Hilary Evans (HE): I´ve done very little, chiefly as you know yourselves, investigation takes a very great deal of time and if it one thing I do not have it is time. The Picture Library need all the time I can give it.

HB: But you have done some field investigation?

HE: Well the most interesting for me was going done to West Wales. In 1978-79 there was a big flap in lots of places in West Wales. Peter Brookesmith editor of the publication The Unexplained invited me to go down there to investigate. I went and talked to all the people. The very first evening I arrived I drove to the first sight where a school was and the children had seen a UFO outside the school in midday.  They went out to play when they saw this flying saucer in a field. And I saw something which was completely unexpected. Behind the school there was indeed a field but it was not a flat field, it was a field surrounded by a valley and on the top of the valley were houses. All around there are houses. There are people in the houses and people look out the window but nobody sees this flying saucer which was there from twelve o´clock to four o´clock. Four hours and nobody saw it. This is not mentioned in the books so right from the beginning I was skeptical. For three days I carried out my investigations, meeting people talking to witnesses. Almost everything I found out was totally negative. There was a farm where very strange things took place and I went along to the farm. Two chief witnesses had gone away by this time, they had left but some lived in a little cottage and those people were still there. I talked to them and nobody had asked them any questions, which is incredible. I was the first person who had asked these people about the strange things that had happened and they said nonsense, absolut rubbish. If you read the book by Pugh and Holiday, (The Dyfed Enigma), you will find out that all the cows were taken up in the air and put down here, which is a marvelous thing if it is true. They were in a farm yard which was locked, there was a fence. The investigator, Pugh, is a veterinary surgeon. If anybody knows about cows it is a veterinary surgeon and he said there is no way the cows could have gone out of there. But they were always getting out. People was always getting telephone calls from the next door farms saying your cows have come here again so come and get them.

HB: No one had asked the right questions?

HE: They had explanations for all the strange things that had happened to these people. But if you read the Pugh book or the Peter Paget book they all create great mysteries but they all had explanations. Unless you investigate the investigator you will never find this out. Pugh is a vet and you think people in his position are very scientific in their investigations. You expect that from somebody with that qualification. I went to visit him and he was very nice. We spent an afternoon talking and drinking tea, discussing the whole thing. I let him talk and talk and didn´t make any objections. And it was obvious he was mad.  He told me that since the investigation he had come to realize that UFOs are crated by the devil. He got all his papers and took them out behind the house and lit a fire. But it wasn´t as simple as that because he made a fire and the smoke comes out and it turns itself into the shape of a devil. Finally there was one case that I thought was very interesting because it was a farmer´s wife and she had seen something in broad daylight. I thought a farmer´s wife is very practical, that´s good, so I phoned her up and said can I come and talk to you. She hesitated a bit and then she said yes, I haven´t thought about it for two years and it would be quite nice to talk to somebody about it again. I went there and she was very nice and she told me a story and it is just her testimony, that is all there is. She seemed to me to be a totally honest peson. She wasn´t trying to sell her story. She said I got up one Saturday morning. It was sunshine, full day and I looked over the field and there was a strange object in the field, on the ground. She said I looked at it for two minutes. It was metal, about 15-20 meters in diameter. She said I must get somebody else and she ran to her son´s bedroom and said you must come and look at this. And typically when they came it was gone.

HB: Did she check the ground?

HE: Yes, and there was no signs of anything. The only thing to support her story was that in this field she keeps a pony and normally first thing in the morning the pony is here because it want´s it´s breakfast. But this day it was right up in the corner. I think she was telling the truth but to be honest I think she was hallucinating, but I can´t prove it. All I can say that is a genuine story. The only positive story I heard. One person´s testimony doesn´t mean anything scientifically but I was impressed. After that I went back to London and telephoned Peter Brookesmith and I said you´re not going like this I have to say, it was almost entirely negative. At this time I was a still a little bit naive I thought that everybody was to believed and Peter Brookesmith said wonderful, that´s what I want because he said I got so many stories coming in of people who believe and I would love to have something which is skeptical so he printed my article about it. That was when I realized that it is absolutely essential to investigate not only the phenomenon but the people involved.

HB: Have you investigated any case where there is not a psychological explanation?

HE: If you´re thinking of a physical phenomenon I have been very intersted in the Hessdalen lights. The three cases I find truly conclusive, not conclusive, wrong word, but I think there is no doubt whatsoever that something is taking place are the three cases where the phenomenon has repeated enough that investigation can be carried out, not of the original story but of the phenomenon itself and that have to be cases where the phenomenon is seen over and over again. One of them is Yakima in Washington state. The second is Project Identification, Harvey Routledge and the third one is the Hessdalen lights. Most of the cases are where you only have what the witness tells you and all you can do is test his story. But in Hessdalen you can actually investigate the phenomenon itself. Those are for me the important cases.

HB: I read in the Jerome Clark Encyclopedia that he criticize you for the psycho-social theory?

HE: He is of course a great enemy of the psycho-social thing but Jerry Clark and I have a very good relationship. He is always criticizing me but he knows now that I don´t mind. Although I say that most of the cases have a psycho-social explanation it doesn´t mean I think there are no UFOs. If by UFO you mean literally an unidentified flying object then yes there are, of course there are. I think there are strange things in the sky which need to be explained and I don´t think a conventional explanation will be enought. It may be purely natural but I am not closing my mind to the possibility of something literally undiscovered by science.

HB: How do you regard close observations by several witnesses of purely metallic craft that look like a totally foreign technology?

HE: If you have several witnesses there is always a problem. This is the kind of thing that makes me say we are still looking for answers in these kind of cases. If I would say who is the best investigator in the world I would say Richard Haines. I have a very great respect for him. A man of great integrity. When he says something I trust it, I believe it.

HB: If you would give an advice to Swedish UFO field investigators what would you say?

HE: The first thing you must have is an open mind. I hope I got that. If the evidence was good that there were aliens from other worlds coming I hope I would be able to accept it. If I have a psycho-social bias that is the conclusion I have come is because of how I read the evidence. It seems to me the evidence suggests a psycho-social explanation. But I am not committed to that and you should never be committed you must be open minded.

HB: What is your opinion on CSICOP, the skeptics organization?

HE: Well, they do some very useful work. I have never met Robert Sheaffer but Philip Klass I know and I like him very much and I think his books are very important. His work is very valuable. What I have against Klass is that he is not open minded. Right from the start he assumes that it´s a fake or a hoax. Most of the time he is right and when it comes to the Travis Walton case I still think it is a hoax, even in spite of everything. I´m open minded but that is my estimate of the case. I would just like Klass to say just once there is a possibility of something else for the Hessdalen lights or Yakima.

HB: He sounds more like a dogmatic than an inquisitive scientist?

HE. That´s the trouble but I don´t altogether blame him because the circumstances in America is if it´s not black it´s white. He´s being forced by the media. If he´d had a stronger personality he would have been able to be like Jacques Vallee – sometimes yes, sometimes no. Phillip Klass is only a journalist and the media needs a bogey man, a big bad wolf. I said to him I´m sure you enjoy being the big bad wolf and he said yes I love it. He´s playing a part. So even if he has privately in bed at night doubts he would never publish it. His position is to be committed.

HB: That is not very scientific?

HE: Not at all. But he isn´t a scientist. He´s a journalist.

HB: But he is the official spokeman for the organization.

HE: This is what I have against CSICOP altogether. I don´t like it. I get the Skeptical Enquirer and often there are very interesting cases but every single article is written from the point of view of someone who knows from the start that it´s not true: spontaneus combustion, the influence of the Moon whatever it is. I know for sure, I have no doubt whatever that the Moon influences behavior. When the Moon is full it will effect peoples behavior. I know it happens to me. I know it happens to our dogs. I´ve seen enough cases. So I know they are wrong. When I find Skeptical Enquirer is wrong on that why can´t they be wrong on other things too.

Hilary and Mary Evans

HB: Could you comment some on the state of ufology in Britain?

HE: It´s terrible. I am not saying that arent´t some good investigators but most of the time they are concentrating on abductions. The only people in ufology now are people with some kind of emotional commitment. John Spenser I am not sure about. Basically he is a writer. He is writing books for money. I think he is honest. But at the same time he is not what I would call a true investigator. I´ve pulled away from the whole thing and so has Paul Fuller. We have no worthwhile investigating organization in Britain. I still have a great respect for Jenny Randles but now she is more or less independent. It could get better if we get a new generation.

HB: What is your own worldview?

HE: From the religious point of view I am an atheist. I think the case for a God is nonexistent. I hate religion. I hope I´m not offending you guys. I wouldn´t call myself a humanist. I´m not an ist of any kind. On the other hand I am convinced there are a great many things that should be … I´m certainly not a materialist. I do believe in the potential of the human mind. I am sure of the street lights effect  If it is true that people can make a physical object like a light switch on and off by their mind then we are talking about something which science says is impossible. But we know the mind can influence things. I strongly belive in poltergeists for instance.

HB: But you don´t believe in a spiritual world or other dimension as an explanation for these things?

HE: I am sufficiently open minded not to close my mind to the possibility but I think for the time being we can still find explanations in our science. But I do think that the human mind is still unexplored territory.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Interview With Hilary Evans 1996. Part 1

”I don´t think I have ever seen so much UFO material in one place – and so well-organized as well.” Hilary Evans in the AFU Guest Book, October 7, 1996.

Hilary Evans visiting AFU, October 7, 1996

One of the most extensive collections of unique books and magazines ever donated to AFU arrived at our premises in Norrköping, Sweden on December 13, 2010. We were celebrating our annual festivity on Saint Lucy´s Day with coffee, mulled wine and gingerbread when a truckdriver from Schenker called and said he was waiting for us to unload some pallets. The AFU staff put on their Winter clothes and walked up to the lorry and were met with a sight the like we have never encountered before. In the snow stood eleven pallets with 235 large and heavy boxes. Luckily we were ten AFU people who helped carrying these boxes. But it was a tough job in the snow and icy stairs down to our basement premises.

Unloading the Evans collection, December 13, 2010

Håkan Landin working hard in the snow

Sven-Olov Svensson carrying a heavy box filled with books and magazines

The boxes contained more than 9.000 books and thousands of rare magazines from all over the world. This superb collection was donated by Hilary and Mary Evans from London. We are honoured och proud that AFU was chosen as the custodian of this immensely valuable collection, covering subjects like UFO, Forteana, folklore, parapsychology, paranormal phenomena, ancient mysteries, mysticism, Esoterica and a host of other subjects. Mary Evans died in 2010 and Hilary in 2011 but I hope that from their celestial spheres they are satisfied with our work to preserve this important heritage, now housed in the Evans Library at AFU. For a more detailed presentation of our work together with the Evans couple read AFU chairman Clas Svahn´s inspiring obituary written on the day of Hilary Evans´ death July 27, 2011.

The Evans Library at AFU

When Hilary Evans visited AFU on October 7, 1996 my colleague Anders Liljegren and I made an interview that was only published in UFO-Sweden´s magazine UFO-Aktuellt, no 3, 1997, and only in an abbreviated version. But so far this interview has never been published in English. I wish to share a transcription of the complete interview as today it is of historical interest. Hilary Evans was a skeptic regarding UFO phenomena, advocating the Psycho-Social Hypothesis, but he represented skepticism at its best, open-minded and positive towards all kinds of research.

Interviewing Hilary Evans at AFU, October 7, 1996

Håkan Blomqvist (HB): Could you start by telling something about yourself, your background, history?

Hilary Evans (HE): Well, the most important thing about me from the point of view of ufology is that I am not really a ufologist. I come from a background of paranormal phenomena in general. I was a member of the council of the Society for Psychical Research and I resigned because I was to busy. Basically my interest is in all kinds of phenomena and it was only then I discovered that UFOs were a very special kind. The reason why they are special is that everybody are so interested in them and because of that there are many conferences, many publications. The witnesses to UFO phenomena are more accessible than witnesses to other kinds of phenomena such as ghosts, apparitions. It is not easy to find somebody who has seen the Virgin Mary, but I have in fact met a friend of mine who saw the Virgin Mary many times, but that was very unusual. But to find somebody who has been taken aboard an alien spacecraft is not difficult at all. They are only too happy to come and tell you about their experiences.

HB: Ok, let´s go back again. When were you born, what year?

HE:  A very long time ago 1929. I see you want basic facts.

HB: Yes, I´m very fact oriented.

HE: Good, ok I was born on the 6th of March 1929. I went to Cambridge University where I studied Literature. I did my military service in the Palestine police and after the university I took a job in advertising, in publicity and others, my occupation for 15 years I suppose. Then we started the Picture Library at the same time as I was working in publicity. Little by little the Picture Library took over my house and now it´s my full time job. I still think of myself as a writer first and a librarian second. But in fact the librarian part of my life takes up 90 percent and that leaves me very little time for writing. I would like to make a change in that but I can´t. I don´t have the time.

HB: What started your interest in the first place?

HE: Oh, I can tell you that very easily. When I was, I suppose, fifteen or sixteen I was sent to take an examination in another town, to Cambridge. I went away from school to Cambridge and I had to stay in the college while I took the scholarship examination. It was the first time I had been on my own, a young boy, and they gave me some money to spend for my expenses. And I was the kind of boys if you had some money you spend it on books. Immediately I was given this money I went to one of the big bookshops in Cambridge and bought a lot of books. I bought books on all kinds of things, the history of education, history of the symphony. One of the books I bought was about the paranormal.

HB: Do you remember what book it was?

HE:  Yes, it was the Personality of Man by G.N.M. Tyrrell. It was published by Penguin Books, a paperback. And for the first time I heard about this extraordinary world of anomalous events. My parents hadn´t told me about it, my teachers hadn´t told me about it. Nobody had told me about it, that there exists telepathy and ESP and psychic phenomena and things like that.

HB: Nothing in the background?

HE: You have to remember I am talking about a very long time ago. Today you see we all take these things for granted. I will tell you something that illustrates this very well. In this new book that I am proposing, that you are going to contribute to, Dennis is going to write the introduction and I am going to write the epilogue. He will present some kind of history of the phenomenon and I going to try to make sense of it from a sociological point of view. And I started thinking about this and it suddenly occurred to me that, one thing I will say is,  most of the people who read this book will not be able to remember a time when there not was such thing as a flying saucer. You two are young enough. Probably you never remember a time when nobody had heard of flying saucers. But in fact there was such a time and it wasn´t all that long ago. It was fifty years, when these things were created in a sense in the imagination as a phenomenon you could write books about.

HB: You started becoming interested in paranormal phenomena?

HE: Yes I was interested in paranormal phenomena but most of the time I was to busy at work that I could take any active part. Then in the 1960s I suppose I said, now this is ridicolous if I wait until I have enough time I will waite forever because I will never have enough time. That is when I joined the SPR and started playing a more active part. I was very shy about involving myself becasue I thought I know nothing about it. Here are people who are scientists and doctors and psychologists. They know all these things. I don´t know anything. In the beginning I was very diffident. Until after a bit I realized that in fact  they don´t know anything either.

Anders Liljegren and Hilary Evans, October 7, 1996

Anders Liljegren (AL): You haven´t experienced anything yourself?

HE: No, but I´m convinced that things like precognition and telepathy occur. Because I´ve had a little examples of that myself. But I´ve never seen an apparition. I´ve seen things in the sky I can´t explain but I don´t think I´ve seen an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

HB: You said you started being active in SPR and psychic research?

HE:  I was a member of that and I realized that flying saucers in all their various aspects presented  a very special case of paranormal phenomena because they were accessible.

HB: But you still regard them as paranormal phenomena?

HE: Yes, in a sense, but my definition of paranormal is not supernatural. It´s many things we can´t explain. So its beyond normal. It´s something outside the consensus terms. But it doesn´t mean to say that it is a mystical explanation. I´m not a materialist either but I wouldn´t say that any of these things is outside science. I think that science will find a explanation for telepathy and (inaudible). I´m convinced they occur and am convinced scientists are being stupid. Take spontaneous combustion for instance. I am one hundred percent convinced that spontaneous combustion takes place in spite of what the Skeptical Enquirer or whatever is saying. Because I think the evidence is so strong. I think that science is very much at fault to deny such a things becuase it is a phenomenon that actually occurs, like the crop circles takes place, whether they are hoaxes or they are real is another matter. They occur and to deny that they occur is ridiculous. 
In the end of the 1970s there was announced a conference in Salzburg, I think it was 1979, organized by some Italian people. It was on the subject of encounters and abductions and I thought this really is interesting. You may laugh, but I very nervously wrote to the Italians who were organizing it saying I would be very interested to attend and hoped I could present some views of my own. At that point all I had been to was one or two congresses but just a member of the audiences listening. I was trying to make up my mind. I felt very flattered, he said yes we would be very glad to hear what you have to say. I went along and it wasn´t a big public thing, all by invitation just in a hotel outside Salzburg and I suppose there were a maximum of thirty people all sitting around a table. It wasn´t a hall with rows. It was more like a big conversation. Alwin Lawson was there and that was the beginning of my friendship with him and one or two people from France. I decided to go by car from England to Salzburg so I drove through France to meet some French ufologists. And that´s when I met with (inaudible), Jacques Scournaux, Claude Maugé and that crowd, all very skeptical. That was the time of the Cergy-Pontoise case and one of the people there was Michelle Piccin. He was investigating this case. It was very interesting what he had to say. So I met all these very interesting, very skeptical people and then I went to Salzburg and met people like Alwin Lawson whose theories are very interesting. He told us about the imagery abductee experiments that he had done. And I realized that there was in ufology a kind of a, not exactly a secret college, Invisible College, but something like that. There were a number of people like myself who were on the whole very skeptical, but at the same time who believed that there were some very genuine questions which needed to be answered. So I identified myself very much with this group of people and as a result it gradually extended  to that I have friends and acquaintances, people I´ve never met but who I corresponded with over the years and gradually built up a sort network and I think it is the same for all of us. . We are not ufologists in the classic American sense but we form a kind of Invisible College of people who are not concerned with selling books or making money. We are concerned with establishing the truth. I don´t write books to make money. The amount of money I get is nothing. I like books in order to express myself so that people can read me and they can disagree with me or agree with me.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Notes From The Riley Crabb File

Much of my daily activity this last year has been reviewing and organizing the voluminous Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF) archive, donated to AFU in two large shipments in 2016 and 2018. The major part of the archive has now been organized in alphabetical folders: name, organization, subject. I also try to scan as much as possible of various documents, letters and photographs. As I corresponded with Riley Crabb 1979-1985 the archive relating to his work has been first priority. He was director of BSRF from 1959 until 1985 and his correspondence file is very extensive.

Your blog writer in front of the BSRF archive at AFU, September 19, 2017

In an earlier blog post this year I made a brief study of the letters my AFU colleague Anders Liljegren and I had found in the boxes. But this proved to be only part of the collection. Recently Anders discovered serveral old folders with letters from the 1950s and 60s. I have now scanned the complete Riley Crabb correspondence file comprising of no less than 943 letters written between 1952-1993. This collection gives a unique insight into the personal life of esotericist and ufologist Riley Crabb but also the inside story of the pioneering work of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation. It is obvious though that the correspondence that has been preserved is only a fraction of the original collection. This becomes evident when comparing the amount of letters from different years. There are 214 letters in the 1958 folder but only 21 in the 1964 folder. Reference is often given to letters missing and my own correspondence is not to be found. Perhaps some of the missing letters was kept in the personal Riley Crabb archive which his third wife Phyllis Hall consigned to the municipal dump after his death in 1994?

To give some glimpses of the life, ideas and work of Riley Crabb I have chosen to comment on a few excerpts from various letters. This first study comprise quotes from letters written 1953-1958. One of Riley´s lifelong interests was the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy, the question of who actually wrote the Shakespeare plays? In 1953, during his Hawaii years, he wrote a very critical letter to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser: ”In vain have I searched two recent columns on your editorial pages on the Shakepeare-Bacon heresy for any solid rebuttal to my forthright statement that Francis Bacon wrote the plays which carry the by-line William Shakespeare… A lawyer wrote the plays. Bacon was a lawyer. A poet wrote the plays. Bacon was a poet. A philosopher wrote the plays. Bacon was a philosopher. An educated man with a working vocabulary of over 15,000 words wrote the plays. Bacon, by the standars of his day, was one of the best educated men in England. But the actor, William Shakespeare, had none of the above qualifications; and if your editorialist, along with all other academic troglodytes, insists the the illiterate money-lender did write the plays, he is placing himself in an indefensible position.” (Letter to the Honolulu Advertiser, March 9, 1953).

Riley Crabb during a TV show in Honolulu in the 1950s

The Shakespeare-Bacon controversy was one of the first problems in esotericism that occupied the young Riley. Later he would become a member of the The Francis Bacon Society in London and wrote the booklet Young Francis Bacon. He also lectured on this subject and continued research all his life as indicated by a letter to the Minneapolis Public Library 1958: ”A former fellow-worker of yours, Mrs. Irene Buckley, librarian at the Marine Corps Supply Center here has suggested that I take one of my reference problems to you, seeing that it was reading material from the shelves of the Main Library which got me interested in one of my favourite studies, the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy. It is possible that he book or books whose title and author I hope you can find for me are long gone from the shelves, as my studies of Elizabeth and her times occurred in 1937 and 1938.” (Letter to Miss Martina Brown, Minneapolis Public Library, May 3, 1958).

In August 1957 Riley Crabb and his wife Judy left Hawaii and settled in California. This meant new job opportunities, new aquaintances and another direction in Riley´s research and study of UFOs and esotericism: ”So here Mrs. Crabb and I are on the mainland, me with questions in my mind to which I hope to find answers here in the peace and quite of the desert. One of these questions is whether I should try to give active leadership in theosophy again. Fortunately that doesn´t have to be answered here and now. By the time I´ve evaluated the work of the past three years in the Islands, and built a new base of the ashes of the remains, I´ll probably know.” (Letter to Harold and Dorothe Ross, November 18, 1957).

During the Hawaii years Riley had been President of the Honolulu Lodge of the Theosophical Society 1954-1957 and founder of the UFO research society Akualele Research Group in 1956. But he was not happy with Theosophical lodge work and questioned the activity in a letter to his friend Harold Ross: ”I had a chance to get my hands on a copy of the Mahatma Letters while in San Diego and what a revelation on lodge work. About the London Lodge, Koot Hoomi said then it would eventually fall into `quietism´. A fate that threatens every religious and philosophical group once its revolutionary leader is gone. When I consider the collection of conservative fuddy duddys and metaphysical dabblers I had to work with in Honolulu, after three years of being a lodge president, I wonder if it is worthwhile to become active again.” (Letter to Harold Ross, October 18, 1957).

Riley Crabb was looking for a new and more up to date way to present the esoteric tradition. He was too much of the critical researcher and practical idealist to stay in the old type of theosophical lodge work. In California a new door opened in connection with a new cultural phenomenon - the UFO contact movement. Riley described the California situation to Gray Barker: ”Outside brief visits with Dan Fry, George Adamski and George Van Tassel – whose Giant Rock home is only 60 miles from me – I´ve done very little about Saucers up until now. However, several of the Saucer groups in the Bay area have asked for some talks next weekend. So, it´s a TV appearance and lecture in Sacramento Friday night, San Francisco Saturday afternoon, Oakland Saturday night, and San Jose Sunday afternoon. Sounds like a rat race but I believe Judy and I will enjoy the trip. These California enthusiasts seem hungry for the metaphysical side of the saucer phenomenon and that´s what they´ll get.” (Letter to Gray Barker, Mrch 8, 1958).

As an accomplished and well-informed esotericist Riley Crabb also noted the problems with the new UFO contact movement. Discernment and critical analysis wasn´t exactly the hall mark of the members of this underground movement. Riley had become a member of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation already in 1951 and he described the problem to Meade Layne: ” ”If I attend Van Tassel´s Space Convention May 31st and he invites me to get up and say a few words, I think I´ll repeat pretty much what´s in the Committee letter. At least it´ll be a down-to-earth contrast to the flumduddery and the psychic racketeers that flock there. Even Van Tassel is getting fed up with them; only he calls them `fanatics´. Says he´s going to try to control them this year, but he hasn´t said how.” (Letter to Meade Layne, April 26, 1958).

In spite of the psychic racketeers and naive mystics among the UFO contactees Riley realized that behind this new movement was also a real attempt by ”superior beings” who tried to inspire a worldwide movement of goodwill and peace. Daniel Fry´s organization Understanding is a good example. As to who were behind this project Riley may have noted the information coming from the Inner Circle through deep trance medium Mark Probert: ”There is a certain secret work going on at present between the Etherians and certain high earth authorities (You understand, I suppose, that I do not use the word ”high” in the usual sense. I am referring to those belonging to some of the secret Lodges on Earth).” (Seance Memoranda From the Inner Circle, Novembner 28, 1951, p. 30).

Mark Probert

Riley Crabb expressed this idea in a letter to Fred Church: ”… the number of Flying Saucer research groups burgeoning forth here in Southern California is amazing. The demand for lecturers is constant… It is actually building up into a world-wide fellowship, loosely organized if at all, but with a common interest in outer space and the arrival of superior beings from elsewhere, interested in our welfare. These widely scattered groups may eventually blend with the New Group of World Servers. This latter movement seems to have been stimulated by Alice Bailey and the Master who is her Teacher. The effort now is for a world-wide fellowship, at the mental level, of men and women of good will everywhere. If there is any hope for our civilization and the planet I believe this is it.” (Letter to Fred Church, November 24, 1958).

1959 would prove to be a decisive year for Riley Crabb. Meade Layne´s health was declining and he asked Riley to become the new director of Borderland Sciences Researh Foundation including editor of Round Robin. The Journal of Borderland Research. How this new life was reflected in the correspondence I will present in a later blog post.