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Your Paracast Newsletter — January 15, 2023

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The Paracast Newsletter
January 15, 2023

Paranormal Author/Folklorist/Historian Mason Winfield Reveals Strange Phenomena in Western New York State on The Paracast!

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This Week's Episode: Gene and cohost Tim Swartz present an evening with Mason Winfield, who was raised in the suburbs near Buffalo, NY, the only child of a middle-class family. Mason read voraciously in junior high and high school. Fantasy, history, adventure, science fiction, paranormal research, fantastic archaeology. His first book was "Shadows of the Western Door" (1997), paranormal survey of Western New York. “Shadows” features chapters on ancient mysteries (including giant skeletons), earth-energies, famous ghosts, occult societies, alternative cults and religions, Native American supernaturalism, and the mysterious Roycroft community in East Aurora. He has written or edited twelve books, including "Ghosts of 1812," a study of the Niagara war and its folklore (Western New York Wares, 2009), and (with Michael Bastine) "Iroquois Supernatural," a study of the traditions of the Six Longhouse Nations (Inner Traditions International/Bear & Company, 2011). He is a paranormal generalist, more of a historian/folklorist than he is a psychic or a ghost-hunter. He takes the broad field seriously.

After The Paracast — Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on January 15: Author/folklorist/historian Mason Winfield returns to talk with Gene and cohost Tim Swartz about paranormal events in Western New York. Included is a description of some of the people Mason has encountered who are just faking it, organized religion's approach to the paranormal, reports of UFOs observed around nuclear installations, and psychiatrist Carl Jung's theories about the possible causes of such phenomena. He has written or edited twelve books, including "Ghosts of 1812," a study of the Niagara war and its folklore (Western New York Wares, 2009), and (with Michael Bastine) "Iroquois Supernatural," a study of the traditions of the Six Longhouse Nations (Inner Traditions International/Bear & Company, 2011). His niche is the paranormal, a field with many components. Mason considers himself a paranormal generalist. He takes the field seriously, and he is taken seriously as a researcher.

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Same Ole, Same Ole
By Gene Steinberg

When The New York Times disclosed the existence of a secret Pentagon UFO study in 2017, folks who believed that the U.S. is withholding the truth about UFOs began to feel vindicated. At long last, the truth that’s been out there for all these years would finally been revealed.

The report was written by Helene Cooper, a Pentagon correspondent, Ralph Blumenthal, winner of a Pulitzer for his work on the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Leslie Kean, an investigative journalist with a long interest in UFO studies and someone familiar to listeners of The Paracast.

Now the headlines basically implied more than the story actually delivered. So it seemed that Senator Harry Reid, then Majority Leader, spearheaded an effort that resulted in $22 million being set aside for UFO — make that UAP — research. Most of the money was reportedly funneled to a private contractor, billionaire hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who is a strong advocate of the ET explanation for the phenomenon.

In turn, some of the money he received surprisingly went to a civilian UFO club, MUFON, but that deal went sour over various disputes over how investigations were to be conducted.

MUFON has long advocated for UFO reality, and accepting government money may not have been the best idea from an optics standpoint. There is certainly the danger of branding them part of the alleged cover-up.

In any case, the Pentagon project ended, but new ones were added to the military budget. Each, in turn, had a somewhat revised mission and a brand new name.

The latest is known as the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO I presume) which conveys an impression of a focus far removed from probing the UFO mystery. Very far.

Each update released by the Pentagon carries the same mantra, that there is no evidence we are being visited by ET. Of the 510 sighting reports collected so far, according to AARO’s January 2023 report, they all involve military witnesses. Focusing on a mission to seek out evidence of possible threats to national security, they are evidently unconcerned that civilians see UFOs too. Lots more in fact.

The long history of hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of sightings around the world doesn’t appear to exist so far as they are concerned.

That’s curious. If it is true that they are really concerned with possible threats, perhaps from rogue countries playing around with new technology, wouldn’t that impact the entire country? The entire world? Why focus strictly on military sightings?

The cynical among us might suggest that decision gives the Pentagon’s UAP investigation team more control over the information. It’s not as if they can do anything about a low-level UFO flying over a country road somewhere in rural America, even if it’s witnessed by skilled observers, including police.

So maybe it’s better to just pretend they don’t exist, or convey the impression that such sightings really shouldn’t be taken seriously. Out of sight, out of mind perhaps.

The long and short, however, is that over five years after the original Times report was published, not a whole lot has actually been accomplished. Sure, there’s official funding in the Pentagon budget for a UAP study and all, but everything appears to change from year to year, as if they just cannot figure out how to manage such a program with a consistent name.

It hardly seems to be a measure of progress, since the results appear never stray much beyond increasing the number of reports that have been investigated.

In the early days of the modern UFO era, investigation projects also went through musical chairs routines. Consider Project Sign, Project Grudge and Project Blue Book.

For a time, Blue Book actually appeared to be attempting to figure out what was going on, particularly when Captain Edward Ruppelt was in charge. Over the years, however, it descended into a public relations operation, designed to reassure the public that nothing weird was going on. What sightings were released were readily debunked, even if the efforts to provide conventional explanations were so clumsy as to defy logic.

So I’m hardly surprised that nothing much is going on nowadays. It has always been thus.

This time out, the original $22 million budgeted for a UAP study — far less than a drop in the bucket as far as military funding is concerned — may have just been a favor to Senator Reid. He clearly had a serious interest in the subject, and Bigelow was one of his friends and supporters. As far as pork projects — the bane of government funding — were concerned, the Pentagon merely had to buy a few less toilet seats or massage a line item for the expense under any of a number of inscrutable titles.

I don’t think the effort to mollify a powerful politician was meant to have the implications it did. Had it not been for the Times story, it’s very possible the Pentagon’s initial study would have been left dead and buried. Advocates of UFO disclosure wouldn’t be the wiser, and they’d just keep on keeping on.

Instead, they had to feel vindicated even if the new studies haven’t accomplished a whole lot.

To be sure, I do have somewhat more confidence that NASA’s simultaneous UFO study might deliver more results. But it also raises questions, particularly why an agency involved in exploring space would care about possible test aircraft from other countries on Earth.

The mission was announced with the following paragraph: “NASA has brought together some of the world's leading scientists, data and artificial intelligence practitioners, aerospace safety experts, all with a specific charge, which is to tell us how to apply the full focus of science and data to UAP. The findings will be released to the public in conjunction with NASA’s principles of transparency, openness, and scientific integrity.”

One can only hope. But you’ll notice that this team doesn’t appear to include an emphasis on military expertise. It includes the sort of people you might expect to properly investigate a scientific mystery.

But I try not to feel too optimistic as to how it’ll all turn out. In that, I agree with the skepticism of many observers of the UFO field that, in the end, the latest U.S. government investigations won’t amount to very much and will once again dash hopes for a near-term solution to the mystery.

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