Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Great UAP Reckoning

 An unprecedented event is about to occur in our lifetime, one that has the potential to level reset the very soul of America, and to redefine the trust relationship everyday Americans have with their institutions of Government. On December 23, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed into law H.R. 7776, the “James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023”.

Among its many provisions:

Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish an office within a component of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or within a joint organization of the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to carry out the duties of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, as in effect on December 26, 2021, and such other duties as are required by this section, including those pertaining to unidentified anomalous phenomena.

The office established … shall be known as the ‘All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office’.

In addition to its primary duty of investigating unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), the office also is tasked with preparing reports for Congress, in both classified and unclassified form, including a historical record report, as follows:

Not later than 540 days after the date of the enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, the Director of the Office shall submit to the congressional defense committees, the congressional intelligence committees, and congressional leadership a written report detailing the historical record of the United States Government relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena, including: (i) the records and documents of the intelligence community; (ii) oral history interviews; (iii) open source analysis; (iv) interviews of current and former Government officials; (v) classified and unclassified national archives including any records any third party obtained pursuant to section 552 of title 5, United States Code; and (vi) such other relevant historical sources as the Director of the Office considers appropriate.

‘               The report shall (i) focus on the period beginning on January 1, 1945, and ending on the date on which the Director of the Office completes activities under this subsection; and (ii) include a compilation and itemization of the key historical record of the involvement of the intelligence community with unidentified anomalous phenomena, including:

(I) any program or activity that was protected by restricted access that has not been explicitly and clearly reported to Congress; (II) successful or unsuccessful efforts to identify and track unidentified anomalous phenomena; and (III) any efforts to obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or otherwise provide incorrect unclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena or related activities.

The Archivist of the United States shall make available to the Office such information maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, including classified information, as the Director of the Office considers necessary.

Essentially, one of the Office’s first tasks is compiling a historical record stretching back some 77 years of intelligence community history to document the IC’s involvement with unidentified anomalous phenomenon (UAP). This includes all restricted access programs that Congress was not privy to.

You can be assured that if Congress was not made aware of these programs – neither were you, or I, or anyone else in the public for that matter. Don’t expect this report to be a re-hash of known government/military/civilian led UAP investigations like Project Sign/Grudge/Saucer/Twinkle/Blue Book or the Condon Report, etc. Those are known publicly. What is being sought after here are those programs that have been collecting dust at very high classification levels in various intel agency vaults, restricted on a need-to-know basis that did not include Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen.

More importantly, it specifically calls out for a historical accounting of any intelligence agency’s complicity in abusing the UAP subject for information warfare purposes (obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or otherwise provide incorrect unclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena or related activities).  This is unprecedented, as Pandora’s Box will be flung wide open on the UAP topic that has spawned a thousand conspiracy theories and that has greatly contributed to the erosion of citizen trust in the institutions of Government.

But why all the way back to January 1, 1945? Although the UAP believer community and sensationalist media are already trying to point to an unsubstantiated 1945 UAP crash as the reason for this earlier date, there is a much more mundane and far more plausible explanation, one that already has a set precedent.

The last great soul cleansing of the Intelligence community was the 1975-76 Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities also known as the Church Committee whose mandate was to investigate “the extent, if any, to which illegal, improper, or unethical activities were engaged in by any agency of the Federal Government.”

The Church committee decided that most of its hearings would be held in closed, executive session, to protect intelligence sources and methods. The committee held a series of public hearings in September and October of 1975 to educate the American public about the “unlawful or improper conduct” of the intelligence community, highlighting a few carefully selected cases of misconduct.

For 16 months the Church Committee labored away, creating various internal reports, the most well-known of these, the CIA’s so-called “Family Jewels,” which outlined the agency’s misdeeds dating back to President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration. This report, as well as those found in other agencies, provided road maps that staff investigators used to piece together complicated histories of domestic, foreign, and military intelligence programs during the Cold War era. Even with a peak staff of 150, however, organizing and analyzing these materials proved to be an arduous task.

After holding 126 full committee meetings, 40 subcommittee hearings, interviewing some 800 witnesses in public and closed sessions, and combing through 110,000 documents, the committee published its final report on April 29, 1976. Investigators determined that, beginning with President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration and continuing through the early 1970s, “intelligence excesses, at home and abroad,” were not the “product of any single party, administration, or man,” but had developed as America rose to a become a superpower during a global Cold War.

It was the Cold War – the life and death struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union – that gave life and unfounded rationale to the abuses uncovered by the Church Committee. However, UAPs were not part of that historical accounting as they were not on the radar of Church Committee investigators. It stands to reason that any abuse of the UAP topic for information warfare purposes since 1945 would have as its backdrop, the Cold War.

The inception of the Cold War can be traced to the unraveling of the uneasy alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union soon after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 This is the most likely reason for dating the historical report to January 1, 1945. If the United States inadvertently created a myth making machine in its cold war tit for tat with the Soviet Union, those secrets must be revealed.

The 1945 date presents some interesting challenges, as what was considered the intelligence community then differs dramatically from the IC of today. From 1945 till mid-1947, the IC was made up of leftover remnants of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Special Services Unit (SSU), the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and other intel components of the War Department (Army and Army Air Force) and the Department of the Navy (Naval Forces and Marines) and the Department of State. There was no Secretary of Defense and no US Air Force at that time.

For those in the UFO believer community who believe this historical report will provide the long-waited Disclosure - the US Government’s mea culpa confession to covering up proof of contact with non-human intelligence or physical proof in the form of recovered biological or physical evidence of non-human intelligence, I would like to taper your expectations.

In the X-File episode: “Jose Chung's From Outer Space”, FBI Agents Mulder and Scully investigate the alien abduction of a Klass County, Washington teenage couple. When returning from a date one evening, the teenagers’ car suddenly stops; they see a UFO and are then captured by a pair of gray aliens. However, the gray aliens are themselves captured by another UFO with a giant third alien from another race.

Fast forward later in the episode where the captured gray aliens are unmasked as two US Air Force personnel in disguise. This fictional episode explains perfectly why this 77-year historical report is so crucial to getting to the truth of UAPs. Unless we unequivocally know what the human hand has been in creating and promoting UAP noise (the Air Force personnel in gray alien disguise), we will never be able to focus on the true signal (the giant third real alien).

When the flying saucer craze of the summer of 1947 made headlines all over the world, and the military and civilian leaderships failed to provide an adequate accounting for what the citizenry was witnessing, the vacuum of silence was filled with speculation, innuendo, rumor, hyperbole, and fantasy – all ultimately just noise.

Throughout the decades since, it is that same noise that has reigned supreme, promulgated by amateur UFO organizations, and brought to mass consciousness by science fiction fantasy movies/TV and sensationalist journalism. Today that noise is amplified to even greater levels by social media and cable TV shows – the focus on the sensational and the outlandish – standards of evidence be damned. As the noise levels grow, so does the average citizen’s distrust in the Government’s ability to inform its citizenry the truth. Conspiracy takes hold. The hidden hand is not to be trusted. One conspiracy begets a thousand more.

Further exacerbating the UAP noise sphere are the unscrupulous click baiter social media posters who have a greater love affair with the number of views and likes they receive than they do with finding and promoting truth. Amateur UFO organizations like MUFON are noise collectors. The average citizen is a noise consumer. Sandwiched in between are the noise creators, the cable channels being the worse offenders. Ancient Aliens is noise, The Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch is noise.

Social media is not far behind, with baseless UAP assertions with zero real evidence to back it up being posted around the clock – Facebook is noise, #UFOTwitter is noise. Noise perpetuators are those that have no interest in UAP truth – they only care about making the rounds of the UAP talk circuit or their next talking head gig on some UAP TV special. A UAP perpetuator has no interest in lessening the UAP noise but instead amplifying it. They have zero interest in finding a true signal.

A clue as to whether this historical report is a sincere effort or just a whitewashing expedition will be to examine the framework on which the report is built. If the focus is on UAP noise, for example, hauling in witnesses to talk about alleged UAP intrusions at missile silos or dogfights with UAPs over military ranges, or alleged crashed UAPs, then the historical report will come up short. If the report attempts to address just the noise sphere of WW2 foo fighters, Roswell, MJ-12, Nazi UAPs in Antarctica, underground alien bases, reverse engineered alien technology, alien abductions, secret alien exchange programs, etc. the report won’t be worth the paper it is printed on.

The other clue will come from those whose testimony is collected. If the parade of witnesses includes UAP noise creators and noise perpetuators, then ultimately what will be produced is a report that accounts for the UAP noise sphere but does not accurately reflect the historical record. If the collected testimony is from the usual suspects, like Mellon, Elizondo, and Puthoff, who have one foot in the UAP community and one foot in the intelligence community, or the UAP gatekeepers who funnel “leaked UAP footage” to the mass media like Knapp or Corbell, or the faux UAP historians like Richard Dolan or the faux UAP journalists like Linda Moulton Howe or Leslie Kean, their testimony as printed in the historical report will also not be worth the paper it is printed on.

If instead, the focus is to recruit cold war, intelligence, and military historians along with sociologists and conspiracy theory experts who can jointly create an investigative framework based on intelligence community precedence, Cold War existential triggers and adversarial fears, and the realpolitik for which the 20th century was known, then this historical report may be the catalyst for citizen trust reset that America so desperately needs.

A glimmer of hope may be found in Sec. 6413 of the same 2023 NDAA , where a Historical Advisory Panel of the Central Intelligence Agency is being formed to assist in conducting declassification reviews and providing other assistance with respect to matters of historical interest. Perhaps it will be just this panel that will take on the arduous task of determining the CIA’s (and predecessor organizations like the CIG) role in UAP information warfare and provide the agency’s response to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office’s historical report.

Even then, special attention will have to be paid to records that may not even be considered traditional intelligence agency records but must still be preserved. For example, if a defense contractor while developing the latest class of stealth fighter, cloaks the project with UAP obfuscation for counterintelligence purposes, will those records be included in this historical accounting?

In the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King, the Knight Parsifal is invited to the wounded King’s castle in a kingdom that lays desolate and bare. That night, Parsifal witnesses a strange parade of characters baring holy objects from one room to the next, including the holy grail itself. The Fisher King’s wound could be healed if Parsifal simply asks: “Who does the Grail serve?” But, Parsifal fails to ask the question and when he wakes the next morning, everyone is gone and the castle is overgrown with thorns.

The Holy Grail of UAP truth is separating what is signal and what is noise, and more specifically, what was our government’s own role in creating, promoting, and amplifying UAP noise. Only by knowing the obfuscation efforts it was/is actively involved in, and and throwing out that noise, can we focus on the true signal, if one exists. Only by asking the question, who does the UAP Grail serve, and having our wounded Fisher King – our own government – truthfully answer – can our land begin to heal. 

So here we find ourselves at a crossroad that has consequences for the survival of the United States as a Democracy. Will those who have been tasked with this enormous responsibility do the right thing, and provide the American people what they have demanded for all these years – the plain, simple, and unvarnished UAP truth? Will a complete and accurate UAP historical record finally allow us to separate the signal from the noise? Will the creators of this historical report ask the right question: “Who does the UAP grail serve?”  Or will they squander this once in a lifetime opportunity and leave us in a desolate and bare wasteland of ignorance, mistrust, and conspiracy – one that has grave consequences for us all and for future generations to come? The Great UAP Reckoning is coming – and may God help us all.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Caught Between Area 51 and a Gaslighting Billionaire

The term gaslighting means to manipulate someone by psychological means so they question their own sanity. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse for the purpose of control.  Not just the individual but also the masses can be gaslit into believing that which is blatantly red, is white, or what is down is up, or what is plainly observed - never happened. This is not a possible Orwellian dystopian future – it is happening now.

We live in a world of “alternative” facts, where truth itself has become subjective, forcing us to constantly ask ourselves - is this real or does someone want us to believe it is real? Between foreign adversaries pushing disinformation on social media or domestic politicians manufacturing culture wars, or the entertainment media constantly feeding us fiction as fact; we find ourselves in the fight of our lives – not a physical brawl – but an all-out information warfare throw-down.

Each of these manipulators has an agenda for terraforming our reality. Adversaries and politicians seek to divide us, and the media companies look to reap mass viewership. But what if the manipulator is our own National Security apparatus and the manipulation is in the name of “freedom”? We can look at similar abuses in the past to understand that the ends don’t always justify the means. The Church Committee final report established that “Intelligence agencies have undermined the constitutional rights of citizens, primarily because checks and balances designed by the framers of the Constitution to assure accountability have not been applied.”

One example of such abuse is the very sad story of Paul Bennewitz, who was manipulated by Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) agent Richard Doty and UFO researcher William Moore into believing something about UFOs that was not real, contributing to Bennewitz’s mental breakdown. In Doty’s case, this was allegedly done in the name of National Security, and in Moore’s case, allegedly in the name of cultivating inside UFO sources. You can read all about it in Greg Bishop’s book: Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth

But have you heard about the sad manipulation tale of Joseph Junior Hicks?

Junior was the co-author along with Dr. Frank Salisbury of the Utah UFO Display, a book that documented the numerous UFO sightings in Utah’s Uintah basin. A Jr./High School science teacher for 33 years, primarily teaching the local Ute tribe children, Junior began collecting close-encounter UFO stories from the local community where he had lived all his life. A confidant who never ridiculed anyone, Junior faithfully recorded, without judgement, what Uintah basin citizens recounted of their encounters with the other worldly.

I met Junior Hicks in 2009 when visiting the Uintah basin, at the invitation of Dr. Salisbury who was updating his co-authored book, and together we visited the neighbors that bordered the Skinwalker Ranch (SWR). This, after Billionaire Robert Bigelow, the then SWR owner, refused our request to visit the ranch itself. Those precious days spent with Dr. Salisbury and Junior had an enormous impact on me and directly led me to break ties with both Bigelow and MUFON over what I perceived to be manufactured manipulations of the UFO subculture. I wrote about my decision and reasoning in 2011 in this blog post Hunting the Skinwalker: Note that as Junior had told me in confidence, I did not reveal his name and called him “Brad” in the 2011 post.

At that time, Junior told me about his work on SWR, but what really piqued my interest was him recounting that after a cow was mutilated on the SWR property, strange metal rods were found nearby. Junior said that he was told by a NIDs scientist who happened to work at Area 51 (pay attention as this will be important later) that the rods were made of Element 115. If you are asking yourself, what is Element 115, then Google the Bob Lazar story and the bogus claims he made of allegedly working at S-4 (Area 51) and tales of reversed-engineered alien spacecraft. You can also read about it on this blog post I posted back in 2020:

But it was only after getting into a “who’s really telling the truth” contest with current SWR owner Brandon Fugal as told here: that I began to fear that Fugal was trying to whitewash the SWR with a revisionist paranormal “forever” history.

Perhaps, in Fugal’s case, telling an unsubstantiated tale that SWR is “special” in the Uintah basin would justify for paid subscribers their access to the paywall/merchandise-hawking “Skinwalker Ranch Insider” site. Fortunately, the paywall has a free 7-day trial and so I subscribed to access the “exclusive” content that a “transparency” loving multimillionaire, for some reason just can’t make available free of charge.

On the site are seven video interviews with Junior Hicks from the year before he passed away on June 7, 2020, at the age of 92. I found two things enlightening about these video interviews. First, Junior discussed his interactions with former SWR owners Terry and Gwen Sherman and Robert Bigelow and present owner Fugal but did not once talk about any interactions with the Myers family who leased/owned SWR from 1934-1994.

Let’s put this first point into context. Junior lived his whole life in the Uintah basin, having been born in Cedarview, Utah on June 19, 1927. He was the UFO guy of the basin, the go-to confidant for anyone who had a UFO tale to tell. Junior collected over 400 close encounter cases during his decades in the Uintah basin, but somehow the X that marked the spot of paranormal central which the revisionists want you to believe is Skinwalker ranch is not the focus of his co-authored book. Junior’s time on the ranch can be only traced back to when after the Shermans bought it.

So, Fugal’s charm offensive at trying to prove a “decades” long paranormal history of the ranch fizzles because it simply can’t be substantiated, at least not by the guy who would know best – Junior Hicks. But that’s not even the focus of this story.

Second, Junior provided much more detail on the metal rods than he revealed in 2009. Let’s get back to Element 115 and why that is important.

When Junior told me the story in 2009, he called the scientist who gave him this information, a “NIDS scientist who worked at Area 51”. The video interviews elaborate:

The Rods:

As Junior recounted in the interview, the Shermans were raising hybrid cows on SWR. Terry Sherman asked Junior to come out one day to investigate a recent cattle mutilation on the ranch. Junior brought his daughter along on the mute investigation.

Before arriving at the ranch, Junior received a phone call from a scientist out at area 51, who told Junior of some of the things happening at the ranch and that there could be a portal that could open in the ground, warning Junior to be careful. The scientist told Junior to bring a compass along and to monitor the compass. If the compass needle froze in place, Junior needed to leave quickly because something was about to happen that would cause him harm and if it occurred where he was standing, he may not come back.

Junior examined the mute, and on his way back to the truck, the compass needle started rotating around and then stopped and got stuck. Junior told his daughter to run to the truck.

Later, Terry Sherman, when examining the mute, found a 6 inch long, 1 inch diameter metal rod on the ground that was heavy, and he put in his pocket. Junior returned to SWR the next day and Terry showed Junior the rod. Terry tried to whittle the rod with his pocketknife to no avail and tried to hit it with a hammer but all it did was nick the hammer and the anvil. Terry heated the rod with a torch, and after taking the torch away, the rod would become cold again. Terry called Bigelow and Bigelow flew out on his private plane. There were three scientists there at the same time and Bigelow took the rod to be analyzed.

Bigelow came back after a few days and Junior asked if the rod had been analyzed. Bigelow responded that it was a part from an old-fashioned battery. Junior told Bigelow he didn’t believe that because a battery part could be whittled. Bigelow responded that he didn’t want people to get excited about it (apparently to explain why he lied).

Then Bigelow lined up all the scientists in a line on their hands and knees, to crawl across the pasture to see what else they could find in the direction of the mute. Five more rods were found in the search, with three of them shorter than the rest (about 3 inches long and the diameter of a pencil).

Junior later asked Bigelow if these newly found rods had been analyzed and Bigelow said they were parts from an old searchlight used during WW2 to spot aircraft. Junior just happened to have a friend that had one of these old spotlights and he confirmed it could not have come from that. Junior went back to Bigelow and said that’s not the answer. Bigelow said we will have it analyzed for sure, but we don’t want a lot of people to know about it.

In the meantime, Junior got another call from the Area 51 scientist who told Junior that the rod that had been found was called Element 115 and that it was the power source for the UFOs.

Bigelow wanted to borrow Junior’s case files and compare them to cases from the ranch. Bigelow picked out 30 that he thought were like NID’s files. Junior thought Bigelow was covering up what was going on at the ranch and he (Bigelow) didn’t want anyone else to see what was going on. Junior also said he thought that the scientist at area 51 knew more perhaps than Bigelow did.

Every time Bigelow came to the ranch from Las Vegas, he would take Junior to dinner to discuss the ranch. Junior told Bigelow the rods were element 115 and powered the craft and when they were depleted of their power, they were ejected from the craft. Bigelow was skeptical and said he didn’t know anything about that. The rods then disappeared but Terry Sherman had taken a picture of the first rod and Junior still had the photo.

Bigelow told Junior that he had positive proof that there was an underground base under the ranch, but the base was now abandoned. What is left is just paranormal activity in the absence of the UFO drivers. Junior believes the paranormal and the UFOs are connected. Junior himself hadn’t witnessed himself much at all. Junior also said he had never signed an NDA.

Gaslight Pilot

So here is what I find intriguing in Junior’s video interviews. First, that Junior had an alleged inside source at Area 51 who was feeding him information about the ranch. Information that Junior would then relay to Bigelow. Yet, in 2009 he called this source a “NIDS scientist” who happened to work at Area 51. So, I was surprised to learn that Junior considered this unnamed scientist to be independent of Bigelow and who allegedly knew more than Bigelow about what was going on.

Second, Bigelow can’t stop gaslighting Junior on the rods. First, they are a car battery part, then parts from an old WW2 searchlight, then they disappear altogether. Meanwhile the alleged NID’s/Area 51 scientist is telling Junior exactly what they are – a non-existent at the time Element 115. To add psychological insult to injury, Bigelow then tells Junior about the definitive underground alien base under the ranch.

Third, much to my surprise, Junior had not signed an NDA. I would venture probably the only person ever to be affiliated with Bigelow not to have signed one. So, when Junior told me in 2009 in confidence about the NIDS scientist and Element 115, I assumed he was doing so because he was under NDA, but it turned out he was not. Evidently, Bigelow did not mind at all who Junior was talking to.

What kind of game was being played here?

Whatever the “play” was, it appears that the thrust of it was to convince Junior of the bogus Bob Lazar story as having some basis in fact. Whether to simply add on to the UFO folklore pile or as part of a counter-intelligence campaign to obfuscate the real down-to-earth high-tech aircraft that Area 51 was harboring, the alien mythology of both Area 51 and SWR were being shoved down Junior’s throat in a good-cop (the transparent Area 51 scientist) / bad cop (gaslighting, secretive, concealing Bigelow) back and forth, aimed at manipulating Junior’s beliefs in the process.

So, in the end, how did this affect Joseph Junior Hicks? Unlike Paul Bennewitz who already suffered from a mental illness that Doty/Moore helped nudge over the edge, Junior was too centered, honest and sure of himself to cause any real psychological damage. But the intent was to manipulate his beliefs and from that perspective it succeeded - an abuse perpetrated on an honest American. 

And therein lies the problem. How many thousands of Joseph Junior Hicks have had their beliefs similarly psychologically manipulated in the process by forces who believe the ends justify the means? These are the central questions that must be honestly examined and answered by the UFO fact-finding mission that Congress suddenly finds itself on. A reckoning is long overdue.

Monday, December 6, 2021

The MUFON Ambient (Abduction) Monitoring Project (AMP)

Ambient Monitoring Project History and Status 

by Thomas Deuley, MUFON

The Ambient Monitoring Program, AMP for short, was a scientific research project that the MUFON fully supported as a one third member of the UFO Research Coalition. The other members of the coalition are the Center for UFO Studies, and the Fund for UFO Research. 

The AMP originally stood for Abduction Monitoring Project, but the early days of dealing with equipment and parts suppliers and after some consideration we changed the name, and I noted that I got better and more serious attention when I used the term Ambient instead of Abduction. In actuality the term Ambient Monitoring is probably the more precise term, so it was adopted as the operative word in the title for the project. 

The overall idea of the project was to place a data collecting sensor system in the home of a repeat abduction experiencer. We did this with great success and learned many valuable lessons along the way. The experiment allowed us to collect very large amounts of physical data that may or may not correspond to the abduction phenomena. 

For five years the UFO Research Coalition actively operated the project with basically two years devoted to instrument development and to three years devoted to data collection.

In the past, and as it may still be heard today, it has been alleged that attempts at physically monitoring abductees has failed in one way or another. Often the failures have been attributed to some outside force causing the device to either quit working all together or to work so badly that no new information has ever been collected. In the process of working this experiment we attempted to track some of these alleged situations down, but never found any more than anecdotal information about such interference, and no documentation for such. The one good report we did get, however, was from researcher David Jacobs, where there was an attempt to use a video camera to monitor an abductee, but the subject reported that just before the abduction was about to occur, they got an overwhelming desire to turn the camera off, but here again there was no physical act from the outside. 

From the beginning, in our design, we attempted to build a unit that would get around some of these problems. First of all our device, when in use, is on all of the time, even when the subject does elect to turn it off, it does not turn off all functions and some data continues to be collected. In particular it continues to record the time, by the second, so that we can see when it is turned off or when it looses power. We could also detect if someone, or something, if you wish, attempted or did get into the interior of the device. In such a case that particular case would come under very special scrutiny and would have had have been handled with special provisions and special precautions. This was never necessary.

In all of the cases we never saw any signals that would suggest that anyone or anything had attempted to so much as touch the sensor unit. On occasions, when it was touched out of necessity by the subject or someone who lived in the same house as the subject, we found an explanation in the subjects Journal, or we sent a message to our installing researcher to go back to the subject to find out what the problem was: and there was never anything out of the ordinary. On one occasion it was the subjects cats walking on the unit that caused very unusual signals, and on another occasion the subject had spilt a glass of iced tea that required the monitoring unit to be moved to clean up the mess, after which the monitor was returned to its original position. 


The AMP project started out several years before it actually began as 28th Proposal that had come before the CFM Coalition. The basic idea had been around for a long time, but was now in writing. 

The CFM was made up of the Center for UFO Studies, The Fund for UFO Research, and, the Mutual UFO Network, the same group that later became the URC. The coalition was started up with the help of the Bigelow Foundation. However, the CFM coalition did not get to present this particular research proposal to Mr. Bigelow, since the CFM broke off its relationship with him on the very same day that we were ready to make the presentation the project. 

After the loss of that opportunity the proposal was held for about one year while the coalition was realigning and while we were looking for sponsors and donors for this and many other projects. All the while the initial project idea, which was somewhat simpler than what I will be presenting here today, was being groomed and perfected into a much larger and a much more formal scientific effort than what we had started out with. 

The proposal was in essences given off to the Fund for UFO Research, a member of both the old and new coalitions, with intention that they in turn offer the idea to some prospective donors, whom they were aware of, and whom they thought might be interested in this project. 

Over time the Fund's efforts got a positive responses which eventually lead to sufficient funding for the work. In the meantime the CFM Coalition had become the UFO Research Coalition or URC, and was now wholly on its own and no longer associated with Bigelow. 

I might point out here that the Bigelow Foundation was never and is not considered any form of enemy or adversary or anything like that by any one of the groups that make up the coalition. Our separation from Bigelow was strictly based on business and management practices. He then opened the NIDS organization, wherein all three groups that form the Coalition had a good relationship with NIDS, and in general, supported the work of NIDS, just as they supported our work. 

With a good prospect for a sponsor the URC continued to make changes to the proposal that had been recommended by the prospective financing organization, and then resubmitted the proposal. After several rounds of changes and negotiation the proposal for the Ambient Monitoring Project had been accepted. 

From the initial idea being presented to the sponsor, to the beginning of the first work was nearly three years. Finding a project and someone willing to support the work is not as easy as it may seem. 

Project Start Up 

The project got under way with me quitting my engineering job in May of 1998. At that point I picked up the full responsibility of getting both the AMP project underway and carrying it through to completion. 

Because of the long lead times necessary to design and build the custom electronics the first thing needed was to find someone capable of the work. Over the time period from the initial idea to the approval to go forward we had developed a good idea of the shape of the sensor unit and the number and kind of sensors we wanted in it, so, based on that very soon after the start up of the project a contract was let to a small research lab for developing the electronics to our specifications and for building the first prototype. To our surprise it 6 was only weeks and that we were shown the size and shape of the electronics package that had been developed, and a recommended container. We approved both and told the contractor to proceed with the building of the first trial unit, show below as picture No.1. That same lab eventually built four prototypes for us, and then, later on, supplied the electronics for all of the final design units, which I designed and built up. The lab remained a consultant through out the run of the experiment, should we have needed to go back to them for any level of assistance. 

Picture No. 1. The URC AMP Project’s first prototype shown closed. 

The electronics package consists of a custom electronics board for the ambient sensors, a special power supply and a separate power supply to keep the batteries charged. The electronics board has a sensor for light level, which only measures the amount of light in the room; and a sensor for sound level, which only measures the instantaneous volume and does not record any voice. 

Picture No. 2 Prototype 1 open. Batteries, power supply, and data logger are under the electronics board. 

Then there is an array of electromagnetic sensors and there is a basic weather station inside that peeks out through the back of the unit, and measures temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. 

Once the sensor unit was finally and properly placed in the home of a subject it took a set of data every second, 24 hours per day, and recorded this internally to be downloaded daily and then available to us for storage. I could also monitor the data real time. 

The electronics board feeds its readings to a purchased item known as a data logger. The data logger is a device that is specifically designed to collect electric signal data. Some data loggers simply graph, real time, the information put into them by sensors. Some data loggers take in the sensor information for storage in its memory for later extraction and use. Our particular data logger is of the second type, and has the ability to be talked to through telephone lines and a modem, so that we can call it up and download the data on a periodic basis. We can also call in and watch the data accumulate in a real time mode and make adjustments to parameters and reading times. 

There is also an auxiliary memory module built into the package so we can collect more information than the data logger alone can hold. Power is supplied from the subjects household power but is backed up by a battery system in the sensor unit. It can operate in the passive battery mode for over 24 hours in case of a power failure. 

After a couple of months, and several meetings with lab personnel, the first prototype unit was delivered. The first unit was built into a women's make up travel case which had been hollowed out and had a small window in the back for reading the light, plus a small box mounted on the back for bringing in power and the data line. 

Pictures of the first unit are shown above. Note that the carrying strap is taken off for this picture. This unit weighed nearly 23 pounds. Most of that weight was from a gel cell lead acid battery that supplies the back up power. 

This first unit was tested for several months working towards calibration methods, sensitivities, ruggedness, and EMI/EMC, that is (Electromagnetic Interference and Electromagnetic Compatibility) considerations. A great deal was learned from this testing but only a few changes had to be made when we built the second prototype. 

This first prototype unit was used for the first live test with real subjects. The first test with subjects was used to iron out the "in briefing" process, data collection methodology, "out briefing" process and for trying out the various documents used in the study. The documentation package for one case consists of some 30 pages. 

The first test case ran for 3 months with the electronics unit never failing and holding up through one power failure. This first test, however did result in several changes in the documentation used for the cases. This first unit did have some minor problems. First of all it did not dissipate heat well enough and was causing the temperature to always read higher than it actually was. The temperature build up was due to a lack of ventilation. The second problem was with the case, in that it was too heavy, and very expensive for us to be ripping apart inside. The case alone cost right at $300.00. Lighter, less expensive make up cases, of a similar sort, were not found to be substantial enough for the weight it had to carry. While this first box was being used in the first live testing, ideas were kicked around on how to get a design with more ventilation. 

As a result a second design, using an identical electronics package, was agreed to and was built into a medium size boom box.

Picture No. 3 Prototype 2. 

This design was used to gain the openness necessary to have sufficient air flow to keep the electronics cool. In this respect it worked very well. 

This boom box model was used for two more prototype tests with real subjects. This design, too, had problems. The biggest one, and a very important one, was with internal breakage during shipping, starting with the first shipment. The combination of the weight of the batteries and the weakness created by hollowing out the boom box left the unit too weak to handle the jolting of being shipped. 

The make up case design just did not seem to be something that would be out in a room all of the time while the boom box did fit OK, in most rooms, but not all. So, all in all, a compromise design was needed for these and other reasons. 

During the 4 or so months of live testing with the second prototype, knowing that they too had a problem, a final design was developed by me, which was settled on and was adopted by the URC Board. This final design was completely designed on paper before going out and building the first unit. The idea was to build the sensors into a fine finished wooden box of substantial strength, yet with sufficient ventilation to prevent heat build up. Like the make up case, having custom boxes made was going to be very expensive. I had shopped everywhere and had ran across several possibilities. The one wooden box I had found that seemed to fit the needs best cost a little over $80.00, while there was lessor candidates for comparably less money. Coincidentally on a trip to Sam's Club the perfect box was found and it only cost $40.00. One was immediately purchased and brought home. It turned out to be exactly the same as the $80.00 dollar box I had found at another store, but now at half price. It fulfilled all of the needs, so that is what we built up and used for all of the actual test units. This final design was engineered from the beginning to meet the needs of appearance, heat dissipation and strength for shipping. 

Picture No. 4. Final design of the sensor unit. 

This model, of which I built 6, completed 13 full data collections of 4 months or more. Data collection ended in June of 2003. 

This final design was shipped in standard airline approved shipping containers which had proven far more rugged than the best cardboard box. In some 16 round trip shipments we did not have any breakage with the final design units. 

Case installation and data collection 

A new study case was started by finding a prominent and known researcher who had identified a willing subject. So it was researchers we went looking for and not subjects per se. We arranged with the researcher to have an extra telephone line put into the subjects home, if that was necessary. The researcher also arranged for a psychological evaluation of the subject. This was done for both the subject's protection and our protection. Lastly, we sent a predated Journal for the subject to use for each day the sensor unit would be in their home. The researcher would also run a set of tests in the home to help establish normal background readings and usual noise levels. Finally, the researcher makes a drawing of the room where the unit is located showing exactly where the unit was placed. Often pictures of the units location were taken. 

Since the unit is extremely sensitive the researcher puts marks on the surface where the unit is sitting so that if it ever has to be moved it can be put back to exactly where it was originally placed. 

The electronic data is collected each day from each unit. This was accomplished automatically by a collections computer in my office in San Antonio, Texas. The computer was programmed such that at a specific time each day it called out through the modem to each one of the units that were in the field. Each collection took approximately one hour. The long distance bill was quite high. 

Each days data from each unit consisted of about 1500 or more 8 1/2 X 11 pages. All of the pages looked pretty much the same without close inspection. Here is a sample.

55,21,2354,40.37,292.7,337.1,.114,15.5,1.012,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.2,36.16,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,292.7,337.4,.114,15.5,1.003,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,36.03,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,293.4,338.1,.047,15.5,1.048,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,35.79,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,293.4,338.1,.08,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.86,30.55 55,21,2354,40.03,294.7,337.8,.08,15.5,1.003,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,36.13,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,295.4,337.8,.147,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,36,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,294.7,337.1,.08,15.5,1.023,20.08,1.748,72.9,75.1,36,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,294.4,340.8,.08,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.79,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,295.4,340.1,.047,15.5,1.027,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.86,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,295.4,339.4,.013,15.5,1.03,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,36.06,30.56 

Picture No 5. Sample of data. 1500 pages per day, 6 megs or so

There was a little over 6 megabits of data per day per unit. (If we were to print it out it would be three reams of paper for each file, each day) (Over a case and one half of paper every two days.) about 260 cases of paper per year. Needless to say - I didn't print it out, nor did I need to. Electronic storage makes much more sense here. 

After each collection I converted the data into a graphic file and then I reviewed the graph for the entire day for each case looking for technical problems with the data and gross anomalies that may show unusual activity. After the review, both files, the data file and graphic file, were backed up to a Read / Write CD. A CD holds about 55 days worth of data. 

A typical graphical presentation of the data looks like this. 

Picture No. 6. 24 hours of data in a single presentation. 

The data graphical program was capable of showing however much data that was in a file, normally 24 hours worth, however if necessary only one minute could be looked at or if need be only two seconds at a time, maybe to see exactly when a sudden event occurred. 

Picture No. 7. 15 minutes of data from the graph above. 

During the entire study, the subjects in their homes, kept a daily journal of their abduction experiences, if any should occur. Here is a sample of the top of the page. The bottom was fully lined for writing. 

Each day they mark NO, MAYBE or YES at the top of the page. "No" means they do not need to go any further. A "maybe" or a "yes" requires some additional comment. If necessary extra pages are supplied at the end of the Journal for continuing a long entry. 

At the end of the case the remote researcher removes the unit, debriefs the subject and obtains the journal. The researcher would then send me the sensor unit and would send the journal to Dr. Mark Rodeghier at CUFOS. I, in turn, created a permanent set of read only CDs and sent all of the electronic data to Mark. 

When all of the data had been collected for all of the cases, the data and the Journals are to be compared by other third party researchers and a final report for the project is to be written. The data is being analyzed now. 

The final results from the report will be published and available to everyone and if significant will likely be the subject of a paper to be delivered at some future MUFON Symposium. 

That's the project, but before you ask any questions I'd like to answer some of the obvious questions first. 

Q1). Could the aliens, if there are aliens involved, detect the box? 

We were careful to engineer the box such that it is completely passive. It does not make any noise, electronic or otherwise, and it does not send out any form of signal except during data collection or when real time monitoring is occurring. It would, however, be detectable with most any non sophisticated "bug" detector. This would be particularly true during the time the box is sending us data. But that only occurs one hour per day and when possible that was when there is was no one home. Any piece of wire with a digital signal on it is easy to detect. Also there is an electronic clock running in the unit at all times that has an extremely low signal that could be detected by a more sophisticated detector. 

Q2). If the box is detectable can it be fooled? 

Yes, but we don't know how it could be "frozen" without us knowing it. It would probably quit working all together if it was "frozen". Also the data collection is a very specific number of data bits and if it was completely "turned off" for some period of time the clock would be wrong, with a gap in the time and the number of data points would be short. If this occurred this would be very telling for us and very exciting. This then would tell us much more than we know now and would call for a new approach. If they could turn off the unit and leave the clock running we would then have a clock signal but all of the data would be gone - again a very telling situation that would be important to us. 

Q3). Can the unit be turned off if the subject feels the need for complete privacy? 

Yes. There is a switch on the back of the unit that allows for privacy, but the subject is told that if it is turned off too often or for long periods of time they would be voiding the experiment and we would probably stop the test. 

A word about our scientific approach. 

In a good scientific test, the test is conducted in a double blind fashion. That is, one subject is tested with a real test unit, and one is tested with a false test unit. In this case, an abduction situation, this would require a false test unit in the home of a close neighbor with very similar family and work relationship profile. We concluded that this would make it nearly impossible to conduct the study. 

We have instead opted for a separation of duties. I as the data collector was to never know the name or address of the subjects. I was to only know the name of the researcher for a given case. All of my correspondence is through a third party. Likewise the subject never knows who I am. I also was to never have access to the subjects journal so I can not make changes to the data to match something the subject has reported. Lastly, as mentioned above, after all of the data was collected, some third researcher who has had nothing to do with either the Journal or the data, will do the comparing of the data and the Journal and write the case report. 

A final comment: 

Part of my purpose was to try to get some interest up for additional researchers. MUFON provided three researchers and we would have liked to have had more. Harry Wilnus from Michigan, Craig Lang from upper Michigan and Beverly Trout from Iowa handled cases for us. In addition Dan Wright and Dave Jacobs have conducted cases with us. We negotiated with Budd Hopkins for doing a case with him but he never felt like he had a case that fit with our needs.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors

In the natural world, where there’s smoke there’s normally fire. But in the world of the paranormal, filled with extraordinary claims of UFOs, poltergeists, demons, and other weird phenomena: where there’s smoke, there’s often only mirrors.

These mirrors only serve one purpose: to focus your gaze on a shiny new extraordinary claim that makes you exclaim Wow! Ooh! or Ah! Meanwhile, the claimant hopes that with your attention on the novelty and the mystery of the claim, you won’t notice that the corroborating data is non-existent, made up, or baselessly correlated as proof.

Most TV shows making extraordinary claims are clearly just about the entertainment value, but now we have a TV series that is alleging true science investigation of their high strangeness stories. Factor in that the series will still live or die based on viewer ratings, and it now has the basic ingredients for a pseudoscientific menagerie that can be best described as “science gone wild”. This in a nutshell is the 18-episode-two-season self-proclaimed “scientific docuseries” known as The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.

From the very first episode, unsubstantiated assertions are flung at the viewer, starting with the biggest whopper of all, that “Skinwalker Ranch has been a center of UFO and paranormal activity for 200 years.” Never mind that the paranormal tales of the ranch can only be traced back to when the Sherman family moved on the ranch in 1994.

Or that the ranch is “downwind” from nuclear testing in Nevada, with ranch crewmember Thomas Winterton baselessly stating that “the Uintah Basin was a hot spot for the downwind” radiation and that “some of the highest concentrations measured were just 30 miles from here.”

This is at odds with what is reported officially here: with the southern part of the state getting the highest nuclear fallout readings from the 100 nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site.

Downwinders, those exposed to nuclear testing fallout, can be compensated via the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), if they live within one of the Utah affected areas as shown on this map. Note that the Skinwalker Ranch in Uintah County, in Northeast Utah, is not included.


I am not proposing that Uintah County received zero radiation from the prolific Nevada nuclear testing, but the true downwind hot spot is the southern part of Utah. By failing to accurately state this, the series starts off on the wrong scientific foot.

The ranch is likely affected by one known environmental source of ionizing radiation. This article describes how although Utah has one of the lowest smoking rates in the country, it has a high incident rate of lung cancer, most likely due to Radon exposure. Uintah County is one of seven counties in the state with the highest Radon concentrations. Now, Radon gas may kill you after years of exposure, but it is not going to suddenly strike you down like a lightning bolt nor cause the strange manifestations allegedly occurring on the ranch.

Yet, despite there being no real reason to bring up the radiation angle to begin with, Dr. Travis Taylor describes in the first episode how radiation exposure could cause people to have strange symptoms including hallucinations and then suggests digging a hole for radiation measuring. It is at this juncture that science gets reality checked by the paranormal.

Because of the ranch lore that digging on the ranch causes bad things to happen, Taylor’s idea is shot down. Exhibit A is Thomas Winterton who allegedly experienced a life threatening and strange brain injury after digging on the ranch. Exhibit B is Dr. Travis Taylor himself who in a later episode claims he received a high dosage of ionizing radiation that caused immediate medical effects to his body, not while digging, but taking a cover off a cistern.

So, despite showing no direct repeated observations that digging on the ranch causes bodily harm, the “no digging” theme is emphasized until it falls way to “cautious digging”. And when the digging finally does occur with a drill rig going to depths of 100 feet, no discernable bodily injuries occur. This is unscientifically explained away as the ranch choosing the time and place when it decides to mete out human punishment for daring to disturb its dirt.

Another example of paranormal lore taking a front seat to science is the unsubstantiated statement that exposing the ranch to new people triggers strange stuff to happen. This is tested by a constant influx of experts brought on to the ranch including radiological surveyors, thermal imaging surveyors, rocketeers, soil resistivity and ground penetrating radar experts, LIDAR and laser experts, magnetometer surveyors, veterinarians, a petroglyph expert, an oncologist, and a tesla coil expert. To supplement the technical experts, a Ute tribal elder and a Jewish Rabbi are brought in.

Also paraded on to the ranch are Uintah basin UFO investigator Junior Hicks’ family, an extended member of the Sherman family, as well as others who claimed to have had firsthand high strangeness experiences on the ranch. Finally, paranormal investigator Ryan Skinner (Mormons are anti-UFO) and investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe (she of a 1000 unsubstantiated claims) show up for good measure of “science”.

Despite this constant influx of new human subjects, not to mention “biosensors” in the form of a new herd of cattle and a couple of alpacas, no interdimensional portals open up, no monsters crawl out, no cattle are mutilated, no metal rods materialize unexpectedly, and no dogs get evaporated into gooey puddles within the two-year period that the series is filmed – roughly the same length of time that the Shermans lived on the ranch. Ditto for the three-year period that Brandon Fugal owned the ranch prior to TV cameras setting foot on the property.

What takes the place of the very high strangeness as documented in the George Knapp/Colm Kelleher book Hunt for the Skinwalker are very unimpressive blobs of light in the sky, strange lights on the mesa, cattle running scared, alpacas being attacked by “some animal”, suddenly discharged batteries, cell phones randomly acting strange (inexplicably called hacking) and a myriad of geiger counters, trifield meters, lightning detectors and other instrumentation recording “crazy” anomalous readings while beeping away for the cameras. In other words, the ranch showed its most impressive side from 1994-2016 and for the last five years appears to be hibernating in low-activity mode. Perhaps at season 3 or 9, it will rear its paranormal nastiness back to bio-level 5 once again.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is part Jurassic Park (we spare no expense), part Ghostbusters (anomaly detectors at the ready), part Paranormal Activity (cameras pointing in every direction), part The Keep (strange room keeping something in), mixed in with what seems to be every sci-fi/horror movie theme known (aliens, werewolves, bad spirit tricksters, mysterious energy sources and time-space warps).

When science can’t explain the bad things that the ranch may conjure up, and the armed guards carrying AR-15s and shotguns appear to be the most skittish and fearful of the group, then it’s probably best to throw in a Mormon prayer, a native American blessing, and a Jewish rabbi’s chant for added protection, as seen in later episodes.

Is it entertaining? Absolutely! Is it science? Not in the least. It has taken on the mantle of science but without following the scientific method of coming up with hypothetical explanations for what has been directly observed, instead relying on past unsubstantiated observations. This reverse logic is seen throughout the series as we are reminded of the high strangeness that Native American lore, the Sherman family, and the Bigelow NIDS and BAASS studies allegedly observed on the ranch and using these stories as the basis for formulating hypotheses. When a blob of light is seen in the sky, and ground instrumentation pick up anomalous energy readings, the narrative immediately turns to underground alien bases and interdimensional portals.

It takes this reverse approach by “poking the hornet’s nest” to see what can be observed, without first defining what the hornet’s nest is or even why it’s being poked to begin with. If the poking results in something that seems to confirm the past unsubstantiated observations, that is presented as proof of a correct “scientific” approach. It is upon these unsubstantiated past and not current direct observations that predictions and experiments are conducted.

This can be seen when Dr. Travis Taylor proposes that the sum of all the observed strange phenomenon can be explained by a wormhole bending time and space, without first considering other more mundane and less exotic possibilities. It is the deductive equivalent of the ancients dropping a virgin into a volcano to appease the gods, hoping to ward off a drought, failed crops, and a famine. If the drought never comes, then it must have been that human sacrifice that was the cause to the effect.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is a never-ending paranormal roller coaster ride of uncorrelated observations to prove preconceived beliefs about a place whose best thrills are long past their heyday. In one of the most memorable lines from the series, as the Skinwalker crew towers above a dead cow that per a local veterinarian died of natural causes, but somehow still manages to get a paranormal explanation, Dr. Travis Taylor exclaims: “It’s just dead." "It’s hard to kill a cow.”  

And I predict that this cow of a series will be just as difficult to kill off and will be with us for some time. Perhaps, even as many seasons as The Curse of Oak Island where I fully expect the Lagina brothers to pop through to China in season 20, or perhaps as many seasons as Ancient Aliens, with its incessant faux history lessons.

If you are open-minded and curious about the paranormal, yet long for real science to solve the mystery of what’s really going on in the Uintah Basin, you will probably feel exasperated by The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. If science is not your thing and you are only here for the thrills, then hang on and enjoy the ride.

Avi Loeb, if you are reading this, we are sending out to you a science SOS! Please rescue us from this televised land of science ignorance and smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Brandon Fugal Responds to Dead Men Tell No Tales

 After posting Dead Men Tell No Tales on this blog, an email exchange between Brandon Fugal and I ensued. Brandon has provided permission for me to detail the entire exchange here. I am omitting Brandon's personal information such as phone/email addresses.

Email from James to Brandon, November 23:

Hi Brandon,

Before I publish the attached article on my blog, I am extending to you the courtesy of reviewing it and correcting any mistakes, for the record.



Brandon response email to James. November 23:


I appreciate the opportunity to respond and provide clarification and correction.

I do not understand why you are trying to provoke contention or disagreement. I invited you in open public forum to come meet with me and visit the ranch, and I have responded to your statements and concerns with facts and respectful dialogue.

I am relying on living, first-hand witnesses to strange activity on the ranch pre-dating the Shermans. This also includes members of the Locke family, and visitors to the ranch in the early 1980s, that have requested that I not involve them. You are calling Kris Porritt, Gwen Sherman, Junior Hicks and anyone else that has stepped forward with an account that contradicts Garth Myers a liar. Why are you doing this? 

Can you please help me understand why you are trying to be adversarial, and cast me in a negative light? I am eager to resolve your concerns and provide you further information and perspective. 


Brandon Fugal

James response to Brandon, November 24:


I am not sure why you perceive this as adversarial. I am a truth seeker like you and in the end, it is the truth that matters. I am not accusing anyone of lying but showing that their versions of events are not the only ones. You can help clarify the truth by making public Hicks’ video interviews.

If the Skinwalker Ranch has real activity that can be scientifically investigated, then why would the paranormal history of the ranch need to be proven?

Dr. Garth Myers, Dr. Frank Salisbury and Junior Hicks deserve to have their reputations defended. Surely you can understand that.


Brandon response to James, November 24:


You claim to be a truth seeker, yet you dismiss the testimony of many people, including law enforcement, which calls into serious question the narrative you keep pushing. That’s not truth seeking, that’s confirmation bias. 

I do not understand why you would want to continue to illuminate the fact that the testimony of one person who is no longer living contradicts the testimony of several that are living (including recent testimony from the co-author of the very book you continue to cite), with first-hand experiences. 

You bring up a good point, in that the history of the ranch really has little impact on the legitimacy of our current investigation, or the reality of what we have been documenting. But that data may be important, in that demonstrates a potential pattern. In reference to Junior Hicks and his testimony, we had Ward Hicks (Junior’s son, who is current faculty with BYU-Idaho, and well respected) ask Junior directly on May 22, 2020 (two weeks before he died) whether there were accounts of UFO activity and strange cattle mutilations on the ranch during Myers ownership. Ward replied in writing the following day on May 23rd stating, “I talked with Dad tonight and he remembered the Myers, and he said yes there were episodes when Myers were on that place”. 

Have you watched my docuseries? I am a truth seeker. I have a proven track record. I have never defaulted on anything in my life, and after closing thousands of significant transactions, I have never been sued. I currently represent billions of dollars in projects, including Fortune 500 companies, significant institutions and entities throughout both the public and sector. 

I acquired the ranch as a skeptic, and had even funded past ventures requiring scientific rigor, discipline and resources to investigate extraordinary claims, and ultimately disproved them. Based on that experience, I truly did think there was a 95% chance that anything unusual reported regarding Skinwalker Ranch had a natural, prosaic explanation. I also believed that it had been most likely an adult scientific snipe hunt of sorts. The data and evidence collected under my stewardship proves otherwise. 

What does the data relative to your history in this arena illustrate? Should I investigate that, since you seem to insist on attacking me and questioning my integrity and those involved with my scientific investigation? You also attack and call into question the professionalism and integrity of the scientists and researchers involved in my investigation, which I have a serious problem with. Calling them “pseudoscientists” is not only inaccurate, it’s libel.

James response to Brandon, November 24:


I haven’t dismissed anyone’s testimony, I simply pointed out the discrepancies.

I am not sure why you believe this is an attack on you personally, as it is not. It is a fact, that you came out and publicly called Garth Myers a liar and based that on what others have said. You don’t know for certain Garth was lying. You just believe the conflicting voices are the ones telling you the truth. The fact they are still breathing doesn’t make their voices more credible.

As to whether pseudoscience or science is being pursued on the ranch, so far you have only cited people’s credentials as proof of sound science. If the current Theranos trial shows us anything, it is that having many credentialed people on staff, does not establish that science is being pursued. 

I am not sure why you are pursuing investigations on the ranch in the manner that you are. Perhaps once you have published your data and others in the wider scientific community have had a chance to review the data, it will all make sense.


Dead Men Tell No Tales

It is not nice to speak ill of the dead, but even more so if you are calling them a liar, since they are no longer around to defend their reputation. Recently, I had a discussion with Brandon Fugal, current owner of the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah where he suggested that Dr. Garth Myers, deceased, was lying about the nonexistent long paranormal history of the ranch, as detailed in Dr. Frank Salisbury’s book: The Utah UFO Display.

In 2009, Salisbury interviewed Garth, whose brother Kenneth Myers and sister-in-law Edith Myers lived on the ranch decades longer than the Sherman family – the Shermans being the first to claim strange activity. On page 218, Garth states:

“I can tell you right off that my brother died in April of 1987. My sister-in-law lived alone there until about 1992. She died in March 1994. And I can tell you unequivocally that up to 1992 there had never been and there never were any signs of that [UFO and similar activity].”

On Page 219, Garth continues:

“The next thing I knew I get this information that there were UFOs, and he [Terry Sherman] was scared to death, and then this man in Las Vegas phoned in and was going to buy it…

All I know is, about a month or six weeks after he bought it, Bigelow called me on the phone and wondered why we hadn’t told anybody about the UFOs. I told him they didn’t get there until [Terry Sherman] got there, and he said: ‘UFOs were coming there, and you had dogs keeping the people away.’ And I said all they had at most were two dogs, and the last time my sister-in-law lived there five years with a three-legged dog and part of the time with no dog at all, and there were no UFOs. And he said ‘Oh, you’re not telling me the truth.’ I said, “If you don’t believe it, I guess we don’t need to talk and more,’ and that was about it.”

When Salisbury asked Garth Myers if it were possible that his brother and sister-in-law didn’t tell him about UFO activity they were experiencing. Garth vehemently denied it:

“He said he was very close to his brother (in spite of the age difference), knowing every detail of their lives. After his brother died, he kept in very close touch with his sister-in-law – many visits and close emotional ties as he worried about her living there alone. He feels totally confident that his brother and sister-in-law would have told him about any strange activity, especially under the circumstances.”

Fugal however doesn’t believe Garth, stating: “Garth Myers was not truthful and was purposely misleading in his statement to Salisbury. As reported by Gwen Sherman, Garth Myers acknowledged and confirmed strange activity on the property historically to them, even though he never really spent time there.” 

Fugal continued: “I am simply relating the facts, as presented by first-hand witnesses, including numerous recent statements from the co-author of Salisbury’s book [Junior Hicks], which contradict Garth Myer’s statement.”

I’ll get to Gwen Sherman’s allegations and Junior Hicks a little bit later but first let me respond to Fugal stating that Garth never really spent time on the ranch. Per Dr. Salisbury, on page 220: “Remember, however, that he [Garth] was there himself (as a teenager) for three summers without seeing any UFOs.”

In addition to the many visits over a five-year period to check on his sister-in-law after his brother died, Garth also checked in on the ranch during the two-year period it was vacant after Edith left. I would say that constitutes time on the ranch.

Dr. Garth Myers was no country simpleton, but was a M.D. in pediatric neurology, having spent most of his career at the LDS Primary Children’s Hospital and having worked for the State Department of Health. Garth’s obituary mentions that he was from the greatest generation having served in WW2. “His parents taught him to work hard and to accept responsibility for his actions. Honesty and integrity were expected.”

If only he was around so he could confirm all of what was revealed in Salisbury’s book: the time spent on the ranch, the zero strange activity, the close relationship with his brother and sister-in-law and the Bigelow phone call, but unfortunately dead men tell no tales.

The pro-paranormal Skinwalker investigators like Ryan Skinner and Brandon Fugal want you to believe that the ranch always had paranormal activity on it, and if anyone tells you differently, they are lying. They reach their immovable position, not with firsthand knowledge of what the Myers experienced while on the ranch for six decades but based on stories they have collected from adjacent property owners, other investigators, or just other strange stories from the surrounding community. Let’s examine each source.

Skinwalker investigator Ryan Skinner believes Garth Myers was lying and bases that position on interviewing others who told him so. Skinner cites Gwen Sherman’s testimony that Myers was being less than truthful. As proof, Skinner presented a snippet of the interview here:

Gwen Sherman states:

“Garth was not one of my favorite people. He knew what was going on there and sold it to us putting my children at risk. So, my opinion of him is extremely low. He pulled into the yard one day and asked how things were going [and] we started asking him questions. Quote: ‘I hoped it had gone away and wouldn’t bother you.’ Asked why we asked we told him everything we had experienced. Cattle mutilations go on everywhere there’s cattle. Junior Hicks might have names. He was the local who would gather up UFO info.”

This is interesting from two perspectives. First, Gwen is accusing Garth of knowing that Skinwalker was paranormal central when selling the property to her family – thereby lying through omission. Fugal and Skinner however, directly accuse Garth of lying to Salisbury when denying any activity took place on the ranch while brother Kenneth and sister-in-law Edith lived there.

Second, if Gwen is to be believed, this would imply that her family had already experienced some activity, and at some point, after experiencing that activity, had an encounter with Garth after the property already had passed hands. Why would Garth have “pulled into the yard one day” after having already sold the property?

Garth lived in Salt Lake City and would have had to drive over 2 ½ hours to the ranch to have this encounter with Gwen. Why? To appease his conscience for having omitted the paranormal aspect of Skinwalker when selling it? None of this is explained or analyzed by Skinner. Gwen Sherman perhaps can still elaborate, given that I believe, she is still in the land of the living.

Gwen’s clarification pending, there is one glaring detail that calls her entire testimony in question. In Salisbury’s book, page 224, Salisbury recounts his interview with Terry Sherman, Gwen’s husband.

“The witness [Terry Sherman] basically supports Garth Myers’ version of the history of the ranch. So where did the exaggerated version – the ranch as the center of UFO activity – come from? This was a version that Bigelow learned early, as indicated by his calling Garth Myers a liar when Garth would not confirm it. Although I have some suspicions, I don’t know where the embellished story originally came from. (I’m assured that it did not come from Zack Van Eyck, the Deseret News reporter.).”

So here we have a conundrum that neither Fugal nor Skinner would comment on – how can we reconcile Gwen Sherman’s testimony of confronting Garth for knowingly lying via omission with Terry Sherman’s testimony confirming Garth’s account that there was no strange activity on the ranch prior to their purchase? Either the wife or the husband is not telling the truth. Remember that Terry was interviewed in 2009 whereas the alleged Garth-Gwen encounter would have had to occur from 1994-1996 while she still lived on the ranch.

Ryan Skinner however takes his accusations against dead men a step too far – accusing both Garth AND Dr. Frank Salisbury of an outright cover-up – based on their adherence to the Mormon faith.

“Frank Salisbury was forthright about his religious bias towards ‘UFOs’. Stating it’s not a part of his ‘belief structure’, & ‘not something he wants to be involved with. As an LDS Bishop, Garth had even more reason to cover up Kenneth's blasphemous UFO claims for religious reasons.”

“Garth due to his overzealous devotion to the Church as a LDS Bishop wanted to distance himself from aliens and demons clearly...”

When I pointed out to Skinner that Brandon Fugal was also an adherent of the LDS faith and therefore by Skinner’s reasoning could also be complicit in an anti-UFO coverup, Skinner did not respond. In addition, anyone reading Salisbury’s book will come away with the impression that despite being a science minded person (professor emeritus at Utah State University), Frank leans more toward the belief that UFOs are real manifestations, and in no way was he hell-bent on covering them up because of conflicting religious beliefs. If only Frank or Garth was around to confront their accusers, but sadly, dead men tell no tales.

According to documents that Fugal/Skinner found, Kenneth and Edith Myers leased the ranch from a Henry Lister in 1934. Lister then sells the property to a Benton Locke and Locke subsequently sells the property to Edith Myers in 1961. Let’s review this ownership chain for a second.

The Myers leased and lived on the property for 27 years before buying it – yet they made the purchase even though they knew it was paranormal central? They deliberately continued to live there despite the alleged dangerous activity to humans and animals taking place on the ranch? Fast forward some 26 additional years later to 1987 when Kenneth Myers died, and Edith Myers continued to live on the ranch ALONE for five whole years, till she moved off the ranch in 1992. Either the alleged paranormal forces on the ranch took a liking to the Myers, or there is something amiss here.

In 1994 the Sherman family bought the property from Garth Myers, the executor of the estate, after Edith Myers died the same year. The Myers lived there a total of 58 years; the Shermans, only two, having sold the property to Robert Bigelow in 1996. It is those two years when the Shermans owned the property, that are documented as a real-life horror story in the Kelleher/Knapp book: The Hunt for the Skinwalker.

Skinner alleges that the adjacent neighbors, the Winn and the Garcia families had numerous strange stories to tell about the ranch. When in 2009 I interviewed along with Dr. Salisbury, both families, as documented in the second edition of The Utah UFO Display, they revealed far less sensational accounts than Skinner has collected. Neither family appeared to be holding back any information in 2009.

Salisbury on page 240 of his book, points out why Charles Winn’s testimony to Skinner may be flawed:

“Charles said that for a long time he denied any special activity there, but now he had become convinced, mostly on the basis of stories he had heard.”

“…it is hard to know how much Charles knew by personal witness or how much he had heard. He had clearly read The Hunt for the Skinwalker”.

For high strangeness cases, firsthand testimony is paramount, but one must be careful to corroborate that the accounts have not been embellished or appropriated by assimilating other’s experiences. As I pointed out earlier, Charles’ own firsthand paranormal experience on the ranch did not even meet the bar of high strangeness.

In a recent exchange with Skinner, he even conceded that perhaps Skinwalker was not the epicenter of strange activity in the Uintah basin, although his web site continues to promote this idea. But if you read both The Hunt for the Skinwalker and Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, you would come away with the impression that the ranch was the X that marked the spot of high strangeness in the Uintah basin. If you are thinking, big deal, so what if the Skinwalker Ranch is not the epicenter, I have $22 million dollars’ worth of reasons to differ.

Fugal went further and alleges that Junior Hicks, the coauthor of The Utah UFO Display, knew firsthand of what the Myers experienced on the ranch, stating “We have countless hours of video testimony from Junior Hicks attesting to all of these things & confirming contradictions, from 2016 until shortly before he died last year.” When I asked him to publish Hicks’ interviews so I could ascertain what exactly was said regarding the Myers time on the ranch, Fugal’s response was: “We are editing it all right now. Everyone present, can attest to his testimony.”

Until those videos see the light of day, I will put Hicks’ confirmations of pre-Sherman activity in the unknown column, especially since Hicks had an opportunity to reveal the same information to Salisbury, so it would make it in the book, but chose not to? Salisbury on page 225 of the book discussed Hicks’ interaction with the Shermans but there is no mention of Hicks’ direct interactions with the Myers. Unfortunately, Junior Hicks died in 2020 and can’t confirm any of this. Dead men tell no tales.

So, who among the living can confirm that Kenneth and Edith Myers experienced high strangeness yet chose not to mention any of that activity to even their closest relative, Garth Myers? The witness that both Fugal/Skinner rely on is Retired Uintah County Deputy Sheriff, Kris L. Porritt who in a video interview claims to have witnessed strange activity in his interactions with Kenneth Myers on the ranch.

Porritt claims he knew Kenneth Myers because they both had a shared fascination with horses and that they became good friends. In his video interview, Porritt claims that Kenneth had locks and chains on everything, including the refrigerator and cupboard. When asked about the locks, Porritt claims that Kenneth Myers told him of alien visitors and that things came up missing and things came up dead. Ryan Skinner who was on video with Porritt, asked if Kenneth could see the aliens, to which Porritt responded that Kenneth could feel their presence.

 Porritt also recounted a tale he claimed to have witnessed firsthand. Allegedly, Kenneth couldn’t find three heifers; Porritt arriving to help in the search but finding no tracks. There was a shed on the property that both men tried to push open, but it wouldn’t budge. Porritt looked through a crack in the door and told Kenneth that he wasn’t going to believe it, but his heifers were in there. To which Kenneth responded that the animals couldn’t possibly fit in that shed. When the door somehow opened, Porritt claimed that the three heifers were stacked one on top of the other in the small shed. Kenneth then said the heifers were dead, but Porritt said no; they are still alive because the snot is still running out of their noses. Porritt asked Kenneth to get a glass of water and dump it on their heads which brought the animals back to life.

Now that sounds downright spooky, but it also sounds an awful lot like the story told in The Hunt for the Skinwalker, Chapter 16, Hunt for the Bulls:

On the afternoon of April 2, Tom and Ellen [pseudonyms for Terry and Gwen Sherman] had set off toward the west end of the ranch on a routine mission to spot and count the animals. As they passed the bull enclosure, both of them looked fondly and proudly at the four burly bulls in the corral. They truly were magnificent beasts, two each of pure black Simmental and Black Angus, each weighing more than two thousand pounds. With muscles rippling healthily beneath the shiny black coats that perfectly reflected the setting afternoon sun, the animals made the Gormans proud. Ellen said wistfully, “I would go out of my mind if I lost any of those animals.” Tom nodded in agreement as they drove west on the narrow dirt track past the corral.

Forty-five minutes later they drove back. All the animals seemed to be accounted for, yet they could not shake that nagging feeling of unease. An unnatural calm hung over the property, broken only by the sound of the truck engine. Abruptly Ellen screamed and pointed out the windshield. Tom hit the brakes, fearing he was about to run over something. He followed her finger and gasped. The corral was empty. Tom’s stomach knotted. Each of those four registered bulls was worth thousands of dollars. They were irreplaceable. Tom looked into Ellen’s tear-stained face.

They stopped the truck by the empty corral, and he got out to search for some evidence that the four magnificent animals could have left behind. Tom’s knees felt weak. There was no sound as he walked around the corral.

Tom walked around looking at the footprints in the corral. The animals had been there only forty-five minutes ago. Ellen was sobbing in the truck. His search meandered over to an old small white trailer located at the west end of the corral. There was no entrance to the trailer from the corral except a door that was tightly locked and hadn’t been opened in years. As he passed the trailer, he glanced in.

Tom froze. All four animals were standing silently, crammed into the tiny space. They seemed frozen hypnotically and appeared to be barely conscious. Tom, with relief flooding through his veins, yelled loudly for Ellen. At the same time, he banged forcefully on the side of the metal trailer. The noise seemed to break the silent spell. Instantly, all four animals appeared to wake up. They began kicking and bellowing to get out of the narrow, confined space. Within seconds the four huge animals went berserk and devastated the interior of the trailer. Finally, a metal door was kicked out and instantly all four animals tumbled blindly out the broken door and began stampeding in a panic.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Porritt witnessed the heifers in the shed, or like Charles Winn, came to believe he had, after reading stories and assimilating those stories into his own experiences.

Porritt in a separate Facebook post stated:

“In the early 80's l was an Uintah County Deputy Sheriff and lived on and was assigned to the west side of the county. In a period of about three months, I responded to five separate incidents involving Mr. Myers cattle none of which were mutilated by any type of animal. They were surgically operated on, and different body parts removed. It was done in a way that could not have been done with the technology that we have today. There was also two other Ranches that it happened on.”

The problem with Porritt’s statement is the lack of confirmation data. There should be police reports that back up both Porritt’s investigations and the details of the mutilations. Per Ryan Skinner, however, “when we contacted the local county about the records, we found out they had all been destroyed (due to age, not conspiracy).” In addition, Porritt’s comments on surgical precision and advanced technologies sounds a lot like the UFO community’s take on cattle mutilations.

Unlike Fugal and Skinner, I am not calling Porritt a liar, but the only one who can confirm the veracity of either the stacked heifers in the shed or the 1980s cattle mutes is Kenneth Myers, who died in 1987, and dead men tell no tales.

So herein lies the problem with confirming a long history of high strangeness on the Skinwalker Ranch. Kenneth and Edith Myers would be the ones to know if their 58 years of living on the ranch were punctuated with just the normal sounds of a country ranch setting, or the blood curdling screams of mutilated animals and shapeshifting Skinwalkers and things that go bump in the night, but they are no longer with us. Neither is their brother Garth Myers who knew them best and denied any strange activity whatsoever. 

On the flip side of the long paranormal history debate, Gwen Sherman’s testimony is at odds with her husband’s, and the alleged Junior Hicks testimony has yet to make it to the public domain. Complicating all of this is that The Hunt for the Skinwalker has been out long enough that its stories have been inculcated into the cultural fabric of the Uintah Basin and make suspect any alleged testimony as possible assimilated experiences.

So until Gwen/Terry can reconcile their conflicting accounts and Fugal releases the Hicks' videos, don’t let anyone try and convince you they have unequivocal evidence of strange activity on the Skinwalker Ranch prior to 1994; as they don’t. In the end, the truth of what occurred on the ranch has died out with the passing of each participant, leaving us with just campfire stories to ponder, and lamenting that dead men tell no tales. Now on to other high strangeness. If you have had the experience of a Billionaire call you out of the blue and try to convince you of something you know is not true, I want to hear from you!