For many people, the Men in Black are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, zapping people’s memories in the popular 1997 comedy and its sequels. For others, Men in Black are a very real threat…
For decades, men in black suits, sunglasses and hats have been making house calls to unsuspecting victims, normally those who have had extraterrestrial encounters. In most of the stories, they threaten and/or terrorise their victims into silence. They tend to drive black cars, but are also known to fly in mysterious black helicopters.
In some cases, these men identify themselves as government agents. But there are two main theories about who they are. One is that they really are from the government, partaking in a government conspiracy to keep the existence of alien life and their presence on Earth a secret. The other is that they are aliens themselves, acting alone or at the behest of Earth governments. Some have described Men in Black as looking foreign, being bizarrely tall and having no fingernails. Others have described them as having bald heads and strange hairless skin.
How it all began
One of the first major sightings of the Men in Black happened in 1947, shortly after the Maury Island UFO Incident. Harold Dahl claimed he was visited by a man in a dark suit, who warned him not to speak to anyone about the strange objects he had seen in the sky over Maury Island.
A few years later, Albert K. Bender, UFO researcher and founder of a group called the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB), claimed that he had made several important discoveries about UFOs. He was about to publish them in a magazine he ran called Space Review. Instead he made a statement that he could no longer publish the information, that it was being withheld by “order from a higher force”. Then he unexpectedly ceased publication of the magazine and dissolved the IFSB.
Bender revealed in an interview that he’d been visited by three Men in Black, who’d warned him not to publish his findings, that no one could know what he’d discovered. In 1956, the book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers was published. It was written by Gray Barker, who used to write for Space Review. He recounted both Dahl and Bender’s Men in Black encounters, and his book was the first to describe the Men in Black in detail.
Men in Black caught on camera
In 2012, a video was published on YouTube of two Men in Black seen entering a hotel near Niagara Falls in Canada on the hotel’s CCTV. They were asking about one of the hotel’s employees, who’d recently had an encounter with a triangular UFO. The employee wasn’t on duty that day and the Men in Black eventually departed.
As is evident from the video, these men were in black suits and trench coats and black hats. Freaked-out witnesses claimed they looked exactly the same, like twins, their hair didn’t look real, they had no eyebrows or eyelashes, and their huge, blue eyes were hypnotic. They also didn’t blink once.
The Berwyn Mountain UFO
Following an event that has been dubbed the ‘British Roswell’, there were reports of Men in Black interrogations. In January 1974, the residents of two villages in Wales – Llandrillo and Llandderfel – were jolted by what they thought was a huge explosion. They reported seeing lights streaking across the sky over the highest peak in the Berwyn Mountains. One lady, Pat Evans, ventured out to investigate and reported seeing a huge, glowing sphere of light on the mountainside, pulsating and changing colour. She was eventually ordered to leave the area by armed soldiers and police.
Then, in the days following the incident, strangers who looked like government officials turned up in the villages and questioned residents, anxious to know what people had seen.
The Solway Firth Spaceman
In 1964, Jim Templeton developed a photo that he took of his daughter on a day trip to Burgh Marsh, near the Solway Firth in Cumbria, England. This photo, which I talked about in a previous blog, inexplicably showed a figure in the background resembling an astronaut – even though no one else was around. In my previous blog, I talked about who this spaceman might’ve been, but the other big question hanging over this story concerns what happened to Mr Templeton afterwards.
He alleged that shortly after publishing the photo, he was visited by two men in dark suits who claimed to be from the government. However, they wouldn’t identify themselves, their badges didn’t specify any particular government agency that Templeton had heard of, and they referred to themselves only as ‘Code 9’ and ‘Code 10’. They asked Templeton to drive them to where he took the photo, which he did. They also asked him bizarre questions about the weather conditions and the behaviour of the animals in the area. Templeton told them that the animals appeared to be scared and huddled together.
At that point, the two men became angry, started questioning Templeton’s story and eventually drove away, leaving him stranded on Burgh Marsh.
Lev the Friendly Man in Black
Apparently not all Men in Black are menacing and intimidating. One woman claims that when she was a child, her engineer father was regularly visited by a Man in Black. He wore a black suit, sunglasses and a hat, his skin was strangely hairless and he went by the name ‘Lev’. This woman claims that the Man in Black visited other engineers in the area, too. She also says she never found out what her father’s clandestine meetings with him were about, but she remains convinced of one thing: Lev the Friendly Man in Black was an alien.
One of the original Majestic-12 documents
Now here we have a possible explanation for the Men in Black. Men in Black are real, they are from the government and they are trying to cover up UFO activity. It’s because they are agents of Majestic-12, a secret committee of twelve scientists, government officials and military leaders founded by President Harry Truman in 1947.
Majestic-12 first came to light in 1987, when Jamie Shandera and William Moore released a set of top-secret documents to the press. These documents detailed the creation of Majestic-12 by Harry Truman, stated that an alien spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947, and discussed how the alien technology recovered from Roswell could be utilised. Apparently, Shandera received these documents as part of an anonymous package mailed to his address.
Years later, new Majestic-12 documents were allegedly received by Timothy Cooper, who released them throughout the 1990s. These documents spilled the beans on a link between UFOs, President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Memos detailed that JFK had asked for UFO files ten days before his death, implying that he was assassinated because of the things he knew about aliens. The infamous ‘Marilyn Monroe Document’ suggested that the government assassinated her, too, because she was planning to go public with UFO secrets she’d learned from trysts with JFK.
Hoaxes, lies and misunderstandings?
The fact is, the evidence for most of these Men in Black encounters is less than conclusive…
Harold Dahl admitted to a reporter that the Maury Island UFO Incident and his subsequent encounter with a Man in Black was a hoax.
Albert K. Bender made no such confession, but when you take a closer look at his story, the pungent smell of boloney starts to pervade. Bender revealed that one of the Men in Black came to him while he was sat in an empty cinema, appearing as a giant monster who then shape-shifted into a Man in Black. He was then given a tour of a secret UFO base in the Arctic. He met the ‘Exalted One’, a being he described as a 9-foot tall bisexual (?), who revealed lots of juicy alien secrets to him.
Most of these fantastical claims were made in Flying Saucers and the Three Men, a 1962 book written by Bender and Gray Barker. Apparently the fear that had caused Bender to shut down his magazine and dissolve his UFO group was gone by 1962 and he was quite happy to reveal all. Furthermore, it came to light that Barker, Bender’s collaborator and author of the first Men in Black book, didn’t really believe any of the UFO claims he propagated. He did it for money. It was also revealed that he participated in a number of UFO hoaxes.
Sceptics argue that the Berwyn Mountain UFO Incident can be explained as a meteor sighting and an earthquake. That the ‘Men in Black’ were just researchers from the British Geological Survey, investigating the earthquake. Jim Templeton said himself that he thought the Men in Black he encountered shortly after the Solway Firth Spaceman incident were frauds. And the original article about ‘Lev’ the friendly Man in Black doesn’t name the woman making the claims, which makes me doubt the whole story.
And despite some websites continuing to propagate a cover-up, the Majestic-12 documents are widely regarded as being bogus and part of an elaborate hoax.
But what about the Men in Black caught on tape? No one has confessed to fabricating this story, but it did pop up on YouTube a month before the release of Men in Black 3. A great piece of viral marketing?
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Men in Black’
Whatever the truth is, Men in Black are a pop culture staple. In addition to having their own blockbuster movie trilogy, Men in Black have appeared in Doctor Who, The X Files and Fringe. They also appeared in a movie called The Brother From Another Planet in 1984 and are clearly the inspiration for the ‘Adjusters’ in 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau. Majestic-12 took centre stage in conspiracy theory-based TV series and cult favourite Dark Skies (which I reviewed a few weeks ago). In fact, the original pilot for Dark Skies had Majestic agents in black suits and hats in several scenes. Some of these were reshot because of similarities between them and the first Men in Black film, which was about to be released.
So for an organisation trying to remain a secret and keep alien and UFO encounters under wraps, the Men in Black are doing an absolutely awful job.
The real Men in Black… Mirage Men
Here’s another take on the Men in Black conspiracy. So-called ‘Mirage Men’ are the real Men in Black, infiltrating UFO circles and spinning lies and colourful falsities about aliens, fanning the flames of UFO mythology in order to keep UFO conspiracy nuts under control. Former ‘Man in Black’ – an Air Force special investigations officer called Richard Doty – has actually admitted to such deceptions. He said he was ordered to feed lies and faked documents about government treaties with aliens to UFO researcher Paul Bennewitz. He even dumped props for him to discover. This is because Bennewitz had been inadvertently eavesdropping on the Air Force with his equipment and they needed to keep an eye on him.
The Mirage Men revelations prove that there was indeed a government conspiracy, just not the one we thought. They haven’t been covering up the existence of UFOs and aliens; they’ve been manipulating us into believing in them.
Of course, a determined Men in Black conspiracy theorist will make a different argument: that all these hoaxes, lies and alternative explanations are a deliberate smokescreen.
In other words, the hoaxers are hoaxing the hoaxes. Or something.
Next week: A time-travelling fraudster?
The Iron Skeptic, UFO Digest, Listverse, The Guardian, Majestic Documents, UFO Encounters and Wikipedia