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Your Paracast Newsletter — November 21, 2021

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The Paracast Newsletter
November 21, 2021

Paranormal Skeptic Mick West Attempts to Debunk UFOs and Other Strange Events on The Paracast!

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This Week's Episode: Gene and special guest cohost Curt Collins introduce skeptic Mick West. Mick tells us: "I'm a writer and a debunker. I used to be a video game programmer. I focus on investigating and explaining conspiracy theories such as Chemtrails, 9/11 controlled demolition, and False Flags. I also cover more esoteric topics such as UFO’s, pseudoscience, Flat Earth, photo analysis, and quackery." Based on his experiences interacting with conspiracy theorists, his book, Escaping the Rabbit Hole, examines the full spectrum of conspiracy theories from 9/11 to Flat Earth, and looks at how people get into them, how they get drawn down the rabbit hole, how they get out, and how you can help. Interviews with former conspiracy theorists show that there is hope even for the most deeply entrenched conspiracist. I explain the key flaws with popular conspiracy theories, and how to talk to people who believe in them.

After The Paracast — Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on November 21: We are rejoined by paranormal skeptic Mick West, author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole. During this episode, Gene and special guest cohost Curt Collins question West about such issues as the great divide between believers and skeptics, 9/11 and conspiracies that involve alleged controlled demolition of the Twin Towers, and people who believe in a flat Earth and whether they are serious in making such claims. And can believers in false conspiracy theories be deprogrammed? After retiring from his profession as a video game programmer, West has focused on investigating and explaining conspiracy theories such as Chemtrails, 9/11 controlled demolition, and False Flags. He also covers more esoteric topics such as UFO’s, pseudoscience, Flat Earth, photo analysis, and quackery.

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So About Those Skeptics…
By Gene Steinberg

Over the years, followers of UFO lore have occupied separate universes. On the one hand, there are those who believe something really strange is going on, with most suspecting ET is here and has been observing us for many decades, perhaps centuries.

In an alternate universe, there are skeptics who believe that sightings must inevitably be caused by conventional objects or phenomena, at least when people aren’t just making it all up. When confronted with a sighting report, however detailed, they will invariably have a solution. If there is no solution, well there would be if there was more information.

But it’s more complicated than that. You see, some of the better known skeptics, whose stock and trade is to debunk UFOs, more often than not, fail to do their research. Or they focus on the case as if it’s a bunch of separate incidents and proceed to discredit each, as if they are unrelated.

Now I remember a TV interview from the 1960s that focused on the best-selling UFO book, “Incident at Exeter,” about a highly-publicized encounter near Exeter, New Hampshire in 1965. The author of the book, published in 1966, appeared across the table from arch UFO skeptic Dr. Donald Menzel, a Harvard astronomer, who built a second career writing books debunking the saucers.

Or maybe a third career since Dr. Menzel also created some elaborate watercolor paintings depicting alien creatures. In passing, I recall that my old friend Jim Moseley, Ufology’s notorious court jester, bought some of them, and they looked pretty good.

As I recall the show was broadcast some years after the book’s publication. Dr. Menzel came across as old and crotchety, aimlessly generalizing what he thought were flaws in the case. Fuller shot back vigorously, asking his opponent key questions about details of the case. It was clear that Dr. Menzel hadn’t spent much or any time learning the facts, and he thus came across as confused, befuddled, totally out of his element.

We’re talking here about an esteemed astronomer with a long list of discoveries that included the atmospheric composition of Mars. His UFO books, however, were easily dismissed as being poorly documented, very much in the fashion of his disdainful approach to a debate on the subject.

It is interesting to note that yet another Harvard astronomer, Dr. Avi Loeb, recently established the Galileo Project, a plan to set up a network of small telescopes around the planet in an attempt to capture high-resolution images of what he considers might be something weird. He takes the possibility of alien life seriously.

How times have changed.

Now over the years there have been other notorious UFO debunkers. Aside from Dr. Menzel, one of the most infamous was Philip J. Klass. Over the decades, he engaged in a series of public disputes with UFO researcher/lecturer/advocate Stanton T. Friedman.

He was also a friend of Moseley’s, who maintained friendships with both UFO believers and skeptics. So in the 1980s, Moseley published a semi-satiric “Last Will and Testament” from Klass, in one of the issues of his non-scheduled Saucer Smear newsletter:

“To ufologists who publicly criticize me, ... or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE:

“No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse.”

I suppose, then, that the present-day Pentagon UAP Task Force would have him rolling in his grave, at least partially, since it is intended as a sincere effort to investigate the matter.

On the other hand, I do not disagree with some of Klass’ conclusions in that admonition, particularly that we will not know any more about UFOs than we did in the early 1980s. I can extend that back to the 1950s.

Indeed, I have long fretted about the lack of advancement in the UFO field. Many of the conclusions drawn in the early books, such as those from Major Donald E. Keyhoe about spaceships and government secrecy, are not dissimilar to those voiced today in the field. But that should not be an indictment against evidence that favors UFO reality.

It merely confirms that we are dealing with a mystery that has yet to be solved, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t real, or that Dr. Menzel, Klass and their disbelieving descendants, such as Mick West (who appears on The Paracast this week), have had their skepticism vindicated.

At the same time, the work of skeptics shouldn’t be dismissed, particularly in the way that they often dismiss UFO sightings. In order to fully understand the phenomenon, investigators should look at all sides of the question. Sightings should be given a skeptical eye to see where they hold up, and where conventional explanations might be found.

Don’t forget that, over the years, only a small percentage of these sightings have ended up as unsolved. It is far too easy to misidentify conventional objects or phenomena as something unknown, and wasting time on the cases that can be readily explained just wastes everyone’s time.

At the same time, hard core skeptics who deliberately distort or omit facts, as both Dr. Menzel and Klass did years ago, should be called out for such unacceptable behavior. They are not doing justice to the truth they claim to wish to uphold.

It is important to add that, of the 144 sightings examined by the Task Force, only one was explained. One would think that, if it was meant as a debunking operation, it would have been far more aggressive in trying to dismiss cases. Instead, it has merely confirmed the existence of a mystery that has attracted the attention of serious scientists, such as Dr. Loeb, to explore what’s going on and attempt to dig up some long-sought answers.

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