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.