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Your Paracast Newsletter — July 26, 2020

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The Paracast Newsletter
July 26, 2020

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This Week's Episode: Gene and Randall present veteran UFO investigator Dr. Roberto Pinotti, a journalist and author and, he says, the main Italian Ufologist. He has a degree in political science and applied social sciences from the University of Florence, a professional journalism qualification, and a degree in Business Administration and Management Science. Since 1960 he has searched for any available documentation or information about the UFO phenomena. He is the founder and President of Italy's Centro Ufologico Nazionale (CUN), established in 1967 and represented Dr. Hynek's CUFOS in Italy. During this episode, Roberto will discuss his two-volume book, "UFO Contacts in Italy," and some compelling sightings from Italy.

J. Randall Murphy's Ufology Society International: Ufology Society International (USI) - Explore the UFO Phenomenon

After The Paracast -- Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on July 26: Long-time UFO investigator Dr. Roberto Pinotti, author of "UFO Contacts in Italy," continues the discussion that began on the July 26, 2020 episode of The Paracast. He focuses on such topics as the World Coalition for Extraterrestrial Contact (WCEC). which he heads. The organization is intended to work with the UN to advance any disclosure. Roberto also talks about the value, if any, of using the acronym UAP instead of UFO, and his own UFO sighting in 1978, which involved multiple objects seen by multiple witnesses for over three hours. And do large UFO groups, such as MUFON, have any future in advancing the cause of UFO research?

Reminder: Please don't forget to visit our famous Paracast Community Forums for the latest news/views/debates on all things paranormal: The Paracast Community Forums. Check out our new YouTube channel at: The Official Paracast Channel

Time to Quit UFO Clubs?
By Gene Steinberg

For years, I thought of MUFON as very much a UFO-oriented version of the Rotary Club, the latter being a largely dull group of local businesspeople who want to spread expressions of goodwill and peace. They get together, hold meetings, have lunches, and go on about their business.

Back in my days as a radio newscaster in Charleston, SC several decades ago, the boss and I would try to schedule ourselves to attend Rotary Club sessions whenever a prominent guest speaker was present. But it was less about covering the event and more about partaking of the free buffet lunches.

Over the decades, MUFON has been pretty much a dull UFO group that went on about its business, sponsored local events and national events, but didn’t actually accomplish much of anything towards finding a solution to the mystery.

Where MUFON has garnered coverage in recent years, it hasn’t been for very good reasons.

So take its possibly questionable financial dealings with reclusive hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who largely keeps his UFO studies to himself. MUFON was once supposed to provide investigations and data for a price. The deal went astray and, in passing, the local volunteer investigators who put those sighting reports together remained volunteers. They didn’t receive even a modest honorarium for their hard work.

So MUFON went through some leadership changes and, after former IBM executive Jan Harzan took over as a paid Executive Director, there were some questionable attempts to generate interest, new memberships and higher attendance at paid events.

For two seasons starting in 2014, H2’s reality show, “Hangar 1,” supposedly documented MUFON’s key cases. However, viewers soon discovered that the show was more docudrama than documentary, with sightings altered significantly for dramatic impact.

Now there’s justification for this with “Project Blue Book,” the History Channel’s sci-fi treatment of the life of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Through two seasons starting in 2019, the show also fantasized key UFO cases, including the 1961 abduction of Barney and Betty Hill. At least the real source material was briefly discussed at the end of an episode, but nobody pretended that the show otherwise had more than a passing resemblance to reality.

Alas, MUFON tried to convey the impression that it didn’t matter so much if “Hangar 1” mangled the facts. It was all about generating interest in UFOs and, in turn, swelling the membership rolls.

In other words, facts be damned!

A similar stunt was pulled at the 2017 MUFON Symposium, which focused on “The Case for a Secret Space Program.” A roster of speakers with less-than-stellar reputations for providing accurate claims and evidence was featured. It was mainly about marketing, filling seats and not about conveying factual scientific information about UFOs to its audience.

After a huge blowback, MUFON made more of an effort to return to a more mundane fact-based agenda the following year.

But that doesn’t mean MUFON was squeaky clean. Take its infamous Inner Circle, a small number of insiders who got there by giving large donations to cement their status.

While there’s nothing wrong with a nonprofit organization putting its wealthier donors in a special class, some of the people who got there did things that reflected badly on an organization that’s supposedly nonpolitical, involved strictly in scientific UFO research and presenting its results to the public.

So one of its State Directors, one John Ventre, was outed in 2018 for posting racist comments on Facebook. MUFON was slow to react, possibly because Ventre was a member of that Inner Circle.

Yet another insider, channeler J.Z. Knight, claims to be in contact with a 35,000-year-old Lemurian warrior by the name of Ramtha, someone who is notorious for couching its messages in racist screeds. Not that anyone is expected to believe that those contacts have any resemblance to reality.

This year, another State Director, one Ken Pfeiffer, was also exposed as posting racist comments on his Facebook page.

Don’t you wonder about an organization that somehow attracts such people and tolerates their behavior? Or, at best, as Harzan did with Ventre, only giving them mild slaps on the wrist for their offensive behavior.

Now we’ve interviewed Harzan several times on The Paracast. He seemed a friendly fellow, who tried to put positive spins on all the nonsense going on around him.

As you may have heard, Harzan is no longer associated with MUFON. When I heard why, I thought I had been reading the plot line for an episode of the long-running TV police procedural, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which focuses on sex crimes.

Harzan stands accused of being a pedophile, soliciting sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was allegedly caught by an officer who pretended to be a preteen online, and that, too, is reminiscent of some episodes of that TV show.

Now I realize someone who is accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. So I will make no judgement yet about Harzan, except to say that MUFON did the right thing, which was to dismiss him from his job.

But his replacement makes it quite clear that the organization is still tone deaf.

So resuming the position of International Director that he once held is David MacDonald. His business experience reportedly involves running a company that stages “Mile High” flights, where adults engage in X-rated activities aboard an airplane.

I’m serious!

Yes, this practice doesn’t appear to be illegal in any way, and the racist elements in MUFON do have the right of free speech. I have no doubt that they were as surprised as anyone as to what happened to Harzan.

But MUFON is clearly on the ropes. While restoring MacDonald to his former position may have been done in haste without any obvious candidates available, the optics are bad.

His incoherent letter to members also creates a bad impression.

Here’s an example: “So, hang with me Mufonians. I am good at this and I promise that we will come out more competent, stronger and respected then we came in.”


One positive way for MUFON to impress a skeptical public as being “more competent” would be to stop referring to them in that childish way.

Another way would be to replace MacDonald as soon as possible with someone without the baggage, and divest itself of those racist elements regardless of how much money they’ve donated to the organization.

Then again, the era of the large, monolithic UFO club ought to come to an end. None of these groups, dating back to the 1950s with NICAP and APRO, has accomplished much or anything towards solving the mystery.

Whether it’s individual investigators, or people working in small groups, there has to be a better way to get things done.

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