Huffpost Reporter Lee Speigel's "delicate dance" re: ET/UFO goes public on exopermaculture

Lee Speigel (L) with his award for Researcher of the Year at the 2012 UFO Congress with Jason McClellan (R). (Credit: Jason McClellan). Thanks to

Last night, I asked, and received, permission from Huffington Post reporter Lee Speigel to publicize in a larger way the exchange between us that follows the post I put up when I read his story about his experience at the UFO Congress. His story pissed me off. So much so that I started out my own post, “Lee Speigel’s delicate dance with and view of the 2012 UFO Congress,” by blurting, as only a fiery double-Sagittarian would, the unvarnished personal truth:

“Why does this article piss me off? What is Lee Speigel’s problem that he thinks the sale of silly ET trinkets are an indication that “fringe” types and “true believers” still dominate the UFO community? Come on!”

You might want to read or reread both his article and my response to it.

That was last week. Then, yesterday, out of the blue I got back an equally pissy comment from Lee (I put all four comments below in blue to set them off from my commentary on that commentary here!)

  1. I hate the fact that I’m repeatedly being backed into a corner to defend myself and my “words” when I didn’t even write them. And this is what I was trying to get across at the International UFO Congress.

    Your words and your criticism of me just proves my point. I wish that people would stop putting words into my mouth or keyboard.

    Case in point: you were pissed off by my Huffington Post article, and I quote you: “What is Lee Speigel’s problem that he thinks the sale of ET trinkets are an indication that ‘fringe’ types and ‘true believers’ still dominate the UFO community.”

    OK, where exactly in my story did I say that? NOWHERE. What I said was “there was a time (as in past, not present) when UFO conventions or seminars only drew the lunatic fringe audience…” I also said that at the IUFOC, there was “some of that purchase-an-ET-trinket mentality.”

    Why did you then turn it around to imply that I said the fringe types and true believers “still dominate the UFO community?”

    Did I use the word “dominate”? No, I used the word “Some” and that’s quite different from “All.”

    And then you go on to complain about my use of words like “reportedly,” “allegedly,” and “apparently.” Why do you insist that this is a “strained balance” that I use in my stories? It’s a PROPER balance.

    And yes, I stood up at the panel discussion and declared that I believe that we have been and are being visited by off-worlders.

    The difference is that I don’t include my opinion in my stories, because I’m not blogging. I write feature stories about UFO reports and my personal opinion doesn’t come into play here. Why? Because I can’t prove it. I’m searching for proof, as are many others. But until such time as that proof presents itself, my personal take on it doesn’t hold weight.

    I’ve done a variety of things over several decades that certainly show how I’ve tried to offer my own version of “UFO disclosure.” But we still haven’t seen ultimate proof of aliens among us, so, of course, I must use words like “reportedly,” “allegedly,” etc. For me, it’s the only credible way to report these stories.

    If someone else wants to write about how our space brothers and sisters are here to help us into the next level of consciousness so that we can all live together in a very happy galactic neighborhood, fine, but that’s not what I write about.

    I’m trying to be credible and critical. And if my words don’t resonating with you, then there are plenty of other people who will be happy to get your attention, if non-credibility is your thing.

    I only ask that if you want to complain about my words, please quote me correctly and don’t read into my stuff what you think I’m saying vs. what I’ve clearly said.

    Lee Speigel

    As you can imagine, Lee’s response made me feel bad. Most likely just as bad as my post made him feel. I kicked myself for awhile. Then I wondered why he was so defensive. Hmmm. Might what I said be true, and a part of him knows it? I decided to write him back, apologizing for my too-strong word “dominate” and otherwise sticking to my guns.

    • I used the word “dominate,” I didn’t say specifically that you used the word. Looking back on the article, I agree, that word was too strong. And yet, even in your comment here, you say “we still haven’t seen ultimate proof of aliens among us,” so I imagine, for you, at least on an individual level, any “true believer” is dominated by his ideology, and not skeptical enough.

      BTW: I wonder if you’ve reified “objectivity” (through balance of opposing ideas) into some kind of god? Or am I putting words in your mouth again. . . In any case, I regret that I offended you!

      Meanwhile, I do think you are in a delicate dance, given your admitted view (that we are being visited) and the dynamic between that and your reportorial need for ” ultimate proof.” Meanwhile, I really appreciate that you have been working for decades on this issue, and am very glad the Congress honored you.

      I expected that to be the end of the matter. But then, not three hours later, Lee responded again.


  2. You’re actually quite correct about my delicate dance. It’s often very frustrating, holding back my own opinion of possible alien visitations to Earth, especially after all of the interviews I’ve done and conversations with some amazing people about this subject. And I’ll never forget my own very close encounter shared in 1975 with several law enforcement officers down in Lumberton, No. Carolina, after I was sent there by astronomer J. Allen Hynek to look into UFO reports by a lot of people.

    When you see something like that very close-up (and this was one of the first examples in the U.S. of a multiple eyewitness sighting of a V-shaped object), it’s an amazing experience, and I was a little dismayed when arch skeptic Robert Sheaffer — who I admire on many levels — kind of shot me down after I told him of my North Carolina encounter when he suggested it was possibly a remote-controlled kite.

    That sort of kicked the wind right out of my sails, yet it gave me instant empathy to countless other UFO eyewitnesses.

    So, yeah, I try to maintain some sort of neutral path here, because I’m still on my own road to discovery. I was so sorry that Hynek left us before he could find the answers he was looking for. Same thing with Budd Hopkins and John Mack and all of the others who are gone. I really hope the final proof comes in my lifetime.

    I think we all deserve to know what’s going on, and, as I mentioned at the UFO Congress, I put a heavy dose of responsibility on the shoulders (assuming they have shoulders) of whatever intelligences are visiting us. They certainly know what they’re doing and what their personal agenda is, and I hate seeing people’s lives ruined because they dare to speak out about their close encounters.

    Thanks for letting me vent a little here…I don’t do it often, but you provided me with a nice platform to do it from. Peace…Lee Speigel

    As you can imagine, I was delighted to receive this gracious, large-hearted response from Lee, and stunned by its complete turn-about from his formerly defensive attitude. Really quite astonishing, how he was able to absorb what I said and integrate it, within a matter of hours! I find that zen-like spinning-in-place truly impressive, and wish I could do it myself.

    Immediately, I replied:

    • Lee,

      So glad you replied to my reply to your comment in this manner! You’d make a wonderful blogger on this subject . . . Thanks so much for letting me and my readers know your personal, albeit “anecdotal” “evidence.”

      I invite you to recall the older woman who asked Bryce Zabel (or was it you she asked, can’t remember), on the media panel, “But I want to know what you really think!” Her question/remark was plaintive, and I shared its feeling, glad that she had gone up to the microphone so that I didn’t have to. And when Zabel said that his “Dark Skies” was not an attempt to get at the truth but a “what if?” frisson of what he saw as the two best conspiracies of the time — the Kennedy assassination and UFO secrets — I imagine she shared my dismay. I had already bought that 6-DVD set, and right then I wished I hadn’t. It sits here now, still wrapped in cellophane.

      Myself, I wonder if the dichotomy known as “true believer vs. skeptic” may be an epistemological prison that only operates in this third densely material dimension that the religion of (Newtonian) scientism has deemed the only reality. Likewise, notions like “proof” and “credibility” feel like straightjackets to me, whose encounters have been multidimensional.

      BTW: I was once married to a newspaperman, and so I do know what you go through to keep your “credibility.” So glad I’ve never agreed to put myself through that narrow slit.

      I wonder when the word “credibility” entered the lexicon. Was it about the same time as that little word “spin”?

      (As a philosophy Ph.D. student, my fields were epistemology and philosophy of science.)

      Thanks again! Very much appreciated.

      To sum this all up: when I asked Lee, via private email, if I could do more to further publicize the above exchange between us, and he agreed, “Go for it!” I was elated. I find it truly wonderful when a reporter, working for a major internet newspaper, allows his own personal experience in a subject that he writes about regularly to have the possibility of actually influencing how others might read what he says from now on, knowing that his “objectivity” as a reporter is, in part, a pose that he must maintain in order to maintain “credibility” on a subject which, unfortunately, still gets squashed by the culturally-programmed “ridicule factor” that has been dominating (and I use the word advisedly) the entire subject of ET/UFO since the end of World War II.

      Thank you, Lee!
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3 Responses to Huffpost Reporter Lee Speigel's "delicate dance" re: ET/UFO goes public on exopermaculture

  1. Baker says:

    Great story, opening up the all-important, never-ending dialog about what we claim to know and how we think – or feel – we know it. Is there even any such thing as ultimate objectivity, so often heralded by journalism and science? Shouldn’t a reporter’s perspective be factored into what [s]he is reporting? What lines are crossed when opinion is shared in a scenario where the reader is expecting facts, and what are they calling fact? Then there are the mob mentality and/or “in-crowd” factors, which seem to be major driving forces of both credibility and ridicule – especially for a topic like UFO’s. Thank you both for the dialog, and let’s hope there’s more.

    Although I can’t resist adding some of my own perspective, first I have to share how impressed I was that you were willing to start this post by quoting a heavy blast against you – one that reads quite convincingly! It definitely kept me reading for further resolution. Now I’ll go back and read his and your originals.

    Having worked mostly in science and engineering, and with a background that includes a taste of journalism and a nearly 3-year dose of med school heading for psychiatry, I’ve seen how of these worlds claims to have its own set of tests for what is real, and they’re all different. During the past 40+ years I’ve also been awakening gradually to so much that is still not ‘mainstream’ but nevertheless now a fundamental part of my reality – to varying degrees of certainty. Ultimately we all have to decide what is real for us. Not only are many finding new tools, some are finding new [or rediscovering ancient?] levels, if not dimensions and/or ‘densities’ – or even parallel realities. About many claims I continue to have my own reservations … pending “more proof” (however I currently choose to define it!). And I continue to be amazed at how much my own personal belief system can affect my experience and apparently that of those around me – both tuning out the negative and tuning in the positive.

    I’ve always felt it a sad twist of intellectual elitism that fundamental questions like those around which you are both now dancing get relegated to ivory towers and thick books with big words. This dialog opens up the issues in a context with which a huge population can identify. Let the non-games continue!

    PS – While I’d already started to check your blog periodically since first hearing about you from your conference roomie last year (an IONS colleague), we can thank her for sending me here this time – specifically to witness this. Thanks for your wide perspective.

  2. Lee Speigel says:

    I can’t resist… I applaud Ann for sticking to her guns. My guns are generally unloaded and out getting polished, so they’re often not here when I need them.

    I’m not sure if what I wrote to you was “zen-like” — maybe it’s more a result of all the soy products I consume. Or learning over many decades how to stay a little ahead of people chasing me through the subways of New York City. No, I’m not paranoid — but I think I’ve seen Bigfoot riding the train on occasion.

    I’m working on some interesting stories to come that I hope resonate with people. One involves — imagine this — a new exhibit called “Area 51: Myth or Reality” at, of all places, the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. AND, the presentation is going to be UFO-heavy.

    This is one of the reasons why I’ve stayed in the UFO “business,” because I’m always surprised at what I find.

    Keep up the excellent work, Ann.

    Your blogging friend, Lee Speigel

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