Aside from our truly awful time trying to find the “Clarion Inn and Waterford Conference Center” In Elmhurst Illinois on the evening of May 2 for the opening mixer; aside from the hilarious Indian wedding event that we were immediately and accidentally plunged into on arrival, two hours after we had begun a supposedly 45-minute journey; aside from that one stop light where we crawled hundreds of feet with other drivers equally testy through six sequences of red and green lights at a single stop; aside from our freak-out when the mapquest and google map versions on our two cell phones didn’t jive, and furthermore, both were wrong . . . actually, I’m amazed that we returned the next day for the actual conference, since as soon as the mixer was over (we arrived late), we turned around and went home.
My friend Joan Bird from Montana was there with her wonderful husband Max, and Joan’s sister, who lives in Chicago. Joan’s sister is, like my friend Mary, completely new to UFO Conferences, so I was looking to see how both of them would react. Turns out Joan’s sister, a retired librarian, found much of what was conveyed there very similar to the science fiction books she’s been reading since she was a kid. I.e., no big deal.
Mary? She’s harder to read. I think she found it interesting; she says she did, but chose not to return on Sunday for the final sessions. Her life is overfull anyway, and perhaps this kind of info is just so wild that she can’t afford to open up her mind any further right now.
At one point I asked her what she would do if there were no obstacles, and she said she would study the changes in the way NGOs have been working with the issue of “human rights.” The changes bother her. Her long-term sense of responsibility for the kind of service she can bring to this sorry world at the MacArthur Foundation is notable and full of integrity.
The conference itself: Here’s a few notes:
The very first thing that happened on Saturday morning was a video clip showing various photos of the late J. Allen Hynek, an astrophysicist and “father” of ufology, who, Mary and I discovered, started his Center for UFO Studies at Northwestern, where Mary’s husband Ben teaches! We asked if Ben had ever heard of him. No.
Hynek was a much beloved, and controversial figure who served as the astronomical consultant for the U.S. Air Force’s Project Bluebook in the ’50s and ’60s. The man who presented on Hynek’s work, which “established the benchmark for UFO research,” is a former writer for Star Trek who blogs at highstrangenessufo.com, where he has a write-up of two of the conference presentations, one by huffpost’s Lee Speigel, who related wonderfully rollicking stories about how he got the U.N. to sponsor its first and only conference on UFOs, and the other by the young Turkish woman, Esen Sekerkarer, whose feeling “that UFOs are subtly manipulating us by means of creating cognitive dissonance, pushing us to achieve a new level of consciousness” moved some of us to tears and brought us to our feet in a standing ovation.
Throughout this conference, and others I have attended, perhaps the most consistent theme is how to get past the “giggle factor” or “ridicule factor” whenever the subject of UFOs or ETs is brought up. The U.S. Government started the propaganda that created this atmosphere back in 1947, with the Roswell crash, and it was and is still astonishingly effective.
Long-time UFO journalist Paola Harris, who put on the conference and presented on the subject of “The Media and Disclosure” on Saturday morning: “At what point are we going to change the story? We’re way past sightings. We need to know what’s in there.” She also spoke of the collective need to realize that we humans do have back-engineered craft utilizing UFO technologies, and that unless we realize that, then “there could be a simulated space war.” (And see this.)
She quoted the remark of a commercial pilot who has had a number of sightings: “If your consciousness hooks up to theirs, you’re going to see more of them.”
And that brings me to the second most consistent theme, one which is actually paired with the first. Ridicule it to the public, and meanwhile, keep it secret.
Most pilots who have had UFO sightings refuse to talk about it, until on their deathbeds. Likewise, retired military who have worked on black ops projects.
Paola mentioned that Virgin Airways founder Richard Branson and Tesla’s founer Elon Musk, both of whom are planning to go into space as private enterprise, may be able to alter the equation as far as official corporate/government secrecy is concerned.
Ultimately, as Speigel pointed out, later, on a panel: “We have to eliminate the giggle factor. The skeptics and debunkers need to prove that something didn’t happen.”
There was much much more, including a wonderful presentation by Jennifer Stein, who has filmed an award-winning documentary on crop circles, her remark: “If you think crop circles are either hoaxed or ET, think again.” Jennifer looks upon crop circles as possibly natural phenomena, created by forces in nature that we do not yet understand. She is a proponent of the electric universe theory, and relates crop circles to the ice circles sometimes seen rotating slowly down rivers, which we don’t understand either.
As usual, however, what I find most fascinating about UFO Conferences are the community dynamics — how people of various views and factions treat each other. How much polarization, and how we do or do not bridge and blend the various divides? In that respect, UFO folks are just like the rest of us. While their minds may be open to possible realities that the regular culture still laughs at, they are, as individuals, exhibiting varying levels of awareness. And, as one of the female presenters on Saturday’s panel discussion noted, in a heartfelt manner: “It’s time we grew up!”