Happy new year mystery and conspiracy fans!

a_blue_eye

Good day readers! And a very happy new year to you all! I hope you all had exceptionally merry Christmasses.

So, the blog is back after a Christmas break, and I’d like to thank all my loyal readers and followers for sticking with me and enjoying the blog for, crikey, nearly two and a half years now!

Anyways, there is a lot more murder, mystery, conspiracy and cryptozoology on the horizon. In addition, I’m steaming ahead with my conspiracy thriller novel, Million Eyesand the accompanying Million Eyes Short Stories, which I’ll be continuing to publish this year.

I will also be continuing to write monthly blogs with Million Eyes updates and advice for fellow writers (and I hope my previous articles about writing have proven useful).

My new blog, coming tonight, is about a very real conspiracy, right in the heart of the Roman Catholic Church…

Advertisements

Positive feedback from Julie Crisp and other “Million Eyes” news

Writing Tools

Howdy! I thought I’d do a little news round-up – with a few hot-off-the-press titbits – in relation to my science fiction conspiracy novel, Million Eyes, and its accompanying short stories…

So I joined Rushmoor Writers in Hampshire at the start of this year and essentially I’ve been reading Million Eyes to them, chapter by chapter, and getting their feedback. The comments have been positive and constructive and have really helped me to step back from the novel and look at it again with fresh eyes.

I don’t take on board everything they say, of course, because critiquing another person’s writing is a very subjective process. (All writers ought to bear this in mind.) For example, after reading one particular scene, a member told me that a car being dissolved by a super-powerful flammable liquid was not possible – and wouldn’t ever be – according to the laws of physics. At which point I reminded him I was writing a science fiction novel with, urm, time travel in it.

Still, it’s good to feel like my writing is improving. Julie Crisp – former editorial director for publishing house Tor turned literary agent – would tend to agree. Yes, she rejected Million Eyes after I submitted the first three chapters to her for consideration. But her rejection could not have been more positive. She praised the storyline, the writing, the characters, the scene-setting and the historical aspects. She ultimately said that while she enjoyed reading it, she just didn’t love it enough to take it further. It was the happiest rejection I’ve ever got!

So that’s my first bit of news, essentially. The Million Eyes edit is coming along and Julie Crisp likes it!

Onto the Million Eyes Short Stories. I’ve written a good number of these now, and I’ve decided to take a little break from writing them to focus on the novel and on submitting all the ones I’ve done to competitions and short story magazines.

Here’s a little summary of where I am with each one…

  • Paul this one was shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, so I’ve got to wait till November to see if it makes it any further in the competition. It’s about a car accident that sets a diabolical sequence of events into motion.
  • Rachel Can See – this was longlisted in the Inktears competition, but didn’t make it any further, and is now under consideration at Writers’ Village and a few other places. This is about a girl who struggles with bizarre ‘alternate’ memories.
  • Who is Rudolph Fentz?as announced recently, this story – based on the urban legend of Rudolph Fentz – was accepted for publication by Scribble magazine and will be published in an upcoming issue.
  • The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller – I got good feedback from Rushmoor Writers when I entered this story – based on a rather more recent urban legend – into one of our internal competitions. It’s also technically been accepted for publication by Aesop Magazine. However, this magazine hasn’t actually launched yet (and was meant to launch in April), so I’m unsure as to whether this will go ahead… It’s under consideration in a few other places as well.
  • The Emancipation of Google – this is one I’ve not mentioned before. It doesn’t directly feature the mysterious conspirators that are in the other stories, but is still set in the Million Eyes universe and based on a popular conspiracy theory. This won the 2015 Rushmoor Writers Founders Cup Competition, which gave me a nice boost in terms of sending the story elsewhere (which I’ve done).
  • Operation Loch Ness – a new twist on the strange goings-on at Loch Ness, this was recently rejected by Lightspeed Magazine and Andromeda Spaceways. Andromeda gave me some really positive feedback, however, praising the writing and how quickly it draws you in, basically recommending some changes to the ending. Looking to get some more opinions on this one (since they didn’t specify what needed changing).
  • The Babushka Lady – drawing on the JFK and Marilyn Monroe assassination conspiracy theories, this story was rejected by Lightspeed Magazine, but has since undergone a change to its ending thanks to some useful feedback from my housemate! This one is now under consideration at Andromeda Spaceways.

So that’s about where I’m at, and fingers crossed I’ll have some more good news to share soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Next week: Did a munchkin commit suicide in The Wizard of Oz?

Was Jesus’s resurrection the greatest hoax of all time?

VB1470603_l

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans, buried in a tomb and came back to life three days later. He then appeared to numerous people over 40 days before getting whisked off to Heaven. Could this really have happened? Or was Jesus’s resurrection the greatest hoax of all time?

In today’s increasingly secular world, if you grew up in a non-religious household with literally no knowledge of Christianity or Jesus, and someone came along and told you the Resurrection story, your reaction would probably be: what a load of old baloney. The fact is, billions of people still believe that Jesus Christ was God’s son on Earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. They consider it a real event in history, as real as the Battle of Hastings, Henry VIII and his six wives and the First World War.

But how likely is it that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened? There are several specific theories suggesting that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, which purport to explain what really happened…

The disciples stole Jesus’s body from the tomb 

According to the four gospels, Jesus’s tomb was discovered empty by some women, including Mary Magdalene, who were told by an angel that he had risen. The stolen body conspiracy theory is that Jesus’s disciples stole his body from the tomb in order to fake his resurrection, and convince people of his holiness and divinity.

The 'empty tomb'

The ’empty tomb’

Several arguments are made by Christians to discount this theory. Firstly they argue that the disciples would not preach about and ultimately die for something they knew to be false. A very weak argument; the present day is full of examples of deluded people dying for falsities and lies they knowingly promote, let alone history.

A more substantive argument is that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who crucified Jesus, dispatched guards to seal the tomb with a stone and stand guard. Therefore there would have been no opportunity for the disciples or anyone else to steal the body. The Gospel of Matthew actually addresses the stolen body theory. It says that a bunch of chief priests asked Pilate to send guards to seal the tomb because they feared the disciples would steal the body to fake a resurrection. The guards watched the tomb until Mary Magdalene arrived, at which point there was an earthquake and the stone rolled away. No Jesus.

However, scholars and historians such as L. Michael White and Richard Carrier argue that the story about guards sealing and watching the tomb was probably a fictional addition to the Gospel of Matthew. It was added to make the stolen body conspiracy theory – which was circulating at the time the gospel was written – appear implausible.

He didn’t rise from the dead – he just woke up

The swoon hypothesis holds that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross – he just fell unconscious or ‘swooned’ and later came around when he was in the tomb, explaining his appearances after his ‘death’. One of the arguments supporting this says that Jesus ‘died’ far too quickly. The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus took just six hours to die, whereas it took an average of two to four days for a crucifixion to kill someone, and sometimes as long as nine.

Did Jesus 'swoon'?

Did Jesus ‘swoon’?

However, medical interpretation of the evidence provided by the gospels says that Jesus was definitely dead when he was removed from the cross. It’s said that his death would have been accelerated by the injuries he received beforehand, from being flogged and beaten – which didn’t happen to all victims of crucifixion. Furthermore, the Gospel of John says that a soldier pierced Jesus’s side with a spear after they removed him.

Others argue that if Jesus wasn’t dead when he was taken down from the cross, he definitely would’ve died after being placed in a cold tomb with no medical attention for several days.

But proponents of the swoon theory would counter-argue that there was no public viewing of Jesus’s corpse. He was whisked away and allegedly buried by one man – Joseph of Arimathea. What if Jesus was still alive and received medical attention in secret? Who can prove otherwise?

Also, sceptics of the swoon hypothesis talk about medical interpretation of the evidence provided by the gospels. What if the gospels themselves aren’t reliable historical records? For example, the story about the spear being thrust into Jesus’s side only features in John, not in the other three gospels. If it really happened, wouldn’t Mark, Luke and Matthew have mentioned it?

Jesus’s appearances after his death were just hallucinations

The vision hypothesis says that the disciples and Mary Magdalene imagined Jesus appearing to them, that his 40 days of post-death appearances were all hallucinations.

Alfred Edersheim refutes this theory by saying that the disciples expected Jesus to stay dead and needed convincing that he had returned to life. And Pinchas Lapide argues:

“If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on autosuggestion or self-deception—without a fundamental faith experience—then this would be a much greater miracle than the resurrection itself.”

It would seem a bit of a stretch to say that they all hallucinated Jesus’s appearances. But what if you combine the vision and stolen body theories? What if the disciples’ ‘visions’ were all part of the conspiracy to convince the world of his resurrection, after they stole his body from the tomb? Yes, Mary Magdalene and another Mary supposedly experienced Jesus’s first post-resurrection appearance. But what if they were in on it?

The gospels – reliable accounts of history?

All three of these alternative explanations of the Resurrection rely on re-interpreting the gospel accounts. But do the gospels actually contain any reliable evidence at all?

The first problem with the four canonical gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – is that there were a number of other gospels that were discarded as spurious. Why? What’s spurious about them? Who decided Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the true accounts, and where’s the evidence? There is still disagreement among scholars about what’s accurate and what’s not.

The second problem is that the four canonical gospels are not contemporaneous accounts of Jesus’s life. They were all written decades after he had died, and worse, no dates and details are given by the authors, so scholars can’t agree exactly how long after. It’s all guesswork. Reza Aslan states:

“These are not eyewitness accounts of Jesus’s words and deeds recorded by people who knew him. They are testimonies of faith composed by communities of faith written many years after the events they describe.”

The third problem is that, while there are theories, scholars don’t actually know who wrote the gospels!

As a former history student – and a lawyer – I have to say that these issues really are the death knell of a reliable historical source, or of anything that makes a claim to be ‘evidence’. The gospels are anonymous, not contemporaneous, not eyewitness accounts and just based on hearsay and unverified sources. If someone tried to use one of them as evidence in a modern courtroom, it would get thrown out immediately.

It’s therefore not remotely surprising that all the gospels contradict each other. There’s the aforementioned stabbing with the spear, only mentioned in John, and John differs greatly in many respects from the other three. All four gospels tell different stories about who discovered the empty tomb, and about the appearance of the angel(s). And Mark, considered the primary source of information about Jesus, has a tacked-on ending that was written sometime in the 2nd century – the original ending had no post-resurrection appearances from Jesus. So who knows what’s fact and what’s fiction?

I’ll be honest, I’m a raging atheist. I believe the idea that God created the world is no more likely than the idea that a magical flying rhinoceros with wings made of cheese is in control of the weather.

And being frank, it’s fairly ridiculous that people base their beliefs in the fanciful story of Jesus’s resurrection on historical sources that cannot be labelled ‘historical’ or regarded as reliable evidence of anything. Richard Dawkins hit the nail on the head in The God Delusion when he made reference to controversial Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code:

“The only difference between The Da Vinci Code and the gospels is that the gospels are ancient fiction while The Da Vinci Code is modern fiction.”

Therefore I have to conclude that, yes, the Resurrection is a load of old baloney. Whether there was a deliberate plot to deceive billions of Christians into buying this baloney is another matter. Many people, even Christians, accept that much of the Bible consists of stories, myths and parables written by people with a limited, non-scientific and mystical understanding of the world. Maybe they were never intended to be taken literally.

Maybe, instead of a conspiracy, the only person truly responsible for the Resurrection hoax was Jesus himself. Jesus duped everyone into believing he was the Son of God, causing biblical writers to make him the central character of a bunch of fairy stories.

Gotcha!

Gotcha!

If indeed Jesus even existed at all – a bone of contention in itself.

Next week: Did the CIA assassinate Marilyn Monroe?

Sources:

Wikipedia: Resurrection of Jesus, Stolen Body Hypothesis, Swoon Hypothesis, Vision Hypothesis, Historical reliability of the gospels

Cold Case Christianity: Why Jesus died so quickly on the cross

Debating Christianity.com

Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

 

Manic Street Preachers’ missing guitarist – did he jump or was he pushed?

richey-edwards-was-interviewed-by-david-owens-in-1992-image-1-274491287

Richey Edwards – former guitarist and lyricist for the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers – was known for having an air of mystery. On 1st February 1995, he became the centre of a new mystery – his own disappearance…

Known for his eyeliner-heavy ‘Emo’-look, his enigmatic persona and his politically charged lyrics, Richey Edwards was the guitarist who couldn’t play guitar (he mimed during many performances). He struggled with bouts of depression and admitted self-harming with blades and cigarette butts. He also famously carved ‘4 REAL’ into his arm with a razor blade during an interview with NME journalist Steve Lamacq, requiring 15 stitches.

Richey Edwards, with '4 REAL' carved into his arm

Richey Edwards, with ‘4 REAL’ carved into his arm

On February 1st 1995, the day he was due to fly to the US for a Manic Street Preachers promotional tour, Richey checked out of the Embassy Hotel in London and disappeared. He is understood to have withdrawn £200 – so that he now had £2,800 – before driving to his apartment in Cardiff to drop off some things and leaving again. Over the next two weeks, several unconfirmed sightings were made. Richey was supposedly spotted at the passport office and the bus station in Newport, Wales.

Then, on 7th February, a Newport taxi driver picked up a passenger who looked like Richey from the King’s Hotel and drove him around the South Wales Valleys, including Blackwood where Richey used to live. The driver said the journey was “extremely strange”, that the passenger was slim with a gaunt face, was putting on a Cockney accent and asked to lie down on the backseat. He dropped the passenger at the old, now closed Severn View service station – at that point a large and busy stop-off for travellers going over the Severn Bridge – and the passenger paid the £68 fare.

On 14th February, Richey’s Vauxhall Cavalier was given a parking ticket in the car park of the Severn View service station. On 17th February, it was reported as abandoned. Police found that the battery was flat, and there was evidence that the car had been lived in. Burger wrappers and pictures of Richey’s family, taken a month before, were also found.

The original Severn View service station, where Richey's car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

The original Severn View service station, where Richey’s car was found, with the Severn Bridge in the background

Did Richey Edwards jump off the Severn Bridge?

The Severn Bridge is known for being a common spot for suicides, and many believed that Richey Edwards took his own life by jumping off the bridge into the River Severn. He was clearly pretty messed up…

Less than a year before his disappearance, Richey went missing for 48 hours in July 1994, reappearing after two days of heavy drinking and self-mutilation in what was thought to be a suicide attempt. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital and missed several gigs and festivals with the rest of the Manic Street Preachers.

On 24th November 1994, after a show in Amsterdam, the band discovered that Richey had cut himself vertically down his chest – the injury needed 36 stitches.

On 1st December, Richey was found by one of his bandmates outside their hotel in Germany, banging his head against the wall repeatedly – with blood all over his face.

The Severn Bridge - a common spot for suicides

The Severn Bridge – a common spot for suicides

Sounds like one seriously disturbed guy. But what raises doubts over the suicide theory is that a lot of people who knew him argued that he was never the type to contemplate suicide. In 1994, Richey also said himself:

“In terms of the ‘S’ word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain.”

But if it wasn’t suicide, what happened to Richey Edwards?

Richey Edwards and the New World Order – was he murdered?

Not helping things is the fact that Richey Edwards’ body was never found. It’s not uncommon for bodies to be discovered many years later after people have jumped off the Severn Bridge, but more than 20 years have now passed since Richey Edwards went missing. Still no body.

Where there is mystery, there are conspiracy theories. Some people suggest that Richey Edwards had key information about the New World Order, and was eventually killed for it. New World Order, a conspiracy theory in itself, says that a secret, powerful group is actually in control of the world, or on the verge of taking control. Variations include Satan’s minions secretly pulling the strings of world governments in preparation for the coming of the Antichrist, and the British Royal Family being part of a secret cabal of disguised reptilian aliens.

Some argue that if you study Richey’s lyrics in many Manic Street Preachers’ songs, such as If White America Told The Truth For One Day Its World Would Fall Apart, he is attacking New World Order. They argue that maybe government agents targeted him because the revelations in his lyrics were making them nervous.

Is he still alive?

The most common theory is the Elvis-esque notion that Richey Edwards is still alive. Many discount this as fans wanting him to be alive – just like Elvis and Michael Jackson – and refute all the alleged ‘sightings’. However, since Richey’s body has never been found, the ‘still alive’ theory is much more plausible.

In 1997, a college lecturer claimed to have seen Richey getting on a bus in Goa, India. Then a barmaid claimed to have seen him in a bar in the Canary Islands in 1998; apparently he hotfooted it out of the bar after someone recognised him.

An Oxford University undergraduate also theorised that Richey was hiding in Germany. She said that he went there to visit places significant to the Allied Forces’ liberation of the concentration camps, which he’d studied at Cardiff University.

But all of this is speculation, together with sightings that have never been confirmed. For a long time, his family refused to have him declared legally dead, hoping that one of the leads would prove fruitful. Alas, nothing new came to light and in 2008, Richey was officially declared “presumed dead”.

Despite the conspiracy theories about New World Order and speculations that he might be alive, my feeling is that Richey committed suicide (until substantive new evidence comes to light, of course). He was clearly a screwed up guy; he had pictures of his family in his car; and if we believe this taxi driver, he visited his home town shortly before his final stop at one of the UK’s most renowned suicide locations. Whatever he might’ve said about suicide, his actions, including some horrific self-mutilation incidents, suggest he definitely had the capacity to throw himself from the Severn Bridge in despair.

Having said that, I do have one question. If he was planning to commit suicide, why did he withdraw £2,800?

Next week: The Resurrection conspiracy

Sources: RicheyEdwards.net, Connecting Minds Network, David Icke.com, Wikipedia

Is God a Martian? Ancient aliens and the Pyramids of Mars

The mysterious Cydonia region of Mars

The mysterious Cydonia region of Mars

Is there or was there life on Mars? Many people, including some scientists, believe that intelligent life used to exist on the Red Planet and that the evidence is already abundant. But how convincing is this evidence? And if ancient aliens did once dwell on Mars, what is their connection to us?

Even though freezing temperatures on Mars today make the planet uninhabitable for humans, research has shown that Mars used to enjoy a similar climate to Earth. Most scientists believe that water is necessary for life, and that once upon a time, water was in abundance on Mars. Signs of dried up ocean beds, lakes and old river channels have been gathered by missions to Mars, revealing large-scale water coverage on the surface at some point in the past. Water molecules and ice have also been found on the surface. Data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has even revealed possible flowing water during Mars’s warmest months.

But most astonishingly is the fact that three Mars meteorites have been found to contain microscopic structures that resemble fossilised bacteria, indicating past life on Mars. So if water and bacteria and a habitable climate once existed on Mars, could an intelligent civilisation have also existed?

The Faces and Pyramids of Mars – evidence of ancient aliens?

In the region known as Cydonia on Mars, several bizarre discoveries have been made. Firstly, images gathered by Mars orbiters show a structure on the surface that bears an uncanny resemblance to a humanoid face. The imagery also revealed a number of pyramid-like structures on the surface. Richard C. Hoagland believes that the ‘Face on Mars’ and the pyramids are the last remnants of a ruined city and evidence of an ancient Martian civilisation.

The 'Face on Mars'

The ‘Face on Mars’

Another face-like formation – one that appears even when viewed at different angles – has been found in the Libya Montes region of Mars – more evidence of ancient aliens?

The Libya Montes face

The Libya Montes face

There is plenty of mystery surrounding our own pyramids. Some scientists, researchers and geologists believe that the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx were not built by the Ancient Egyptians and are much, much older than people think. Some have made the connection between Earth’s pyramids and the pyramids of Mars, suggesting that the ancient aliens that once dwelled on Mars were responsible for building the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

One of the Pyramids of Mars and the Great Pyramid of Giza

One of the Pyramids of Mars and the Great Pyramid of Giza

Are the Martians our creators?

The 2011 Ridley Scott-directed movie Prometheus posited the idea that life on Earth was seeded by an alien race. This was not a new idea, and indeed many people have theorised that ancient aliens didn’t just exist – they created us. It is said that Earth’s scientists have plans to transport simple bacteria to Mars as a way of introducing (or perhaps reintroducing) life to the planet. So is it possible that life on Earth began the same way? That perhaps an ancient and highly advanced civilisation from Mars created us?

Maybe our creation is absolutely nothing to do with God, as still many people believe. Or maybe – if the Martians were highly advanced and beyond our conventional understanding of life and existence – God was one simply one of them.

Is it all just pareidolia?

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon which involves identifying something significant in images and sounds that are actually random, vague, natural or accidental. These include the Moon Rabbit, the Man in the Moon, seeing faces or animals in the clouds, and hearing hidden messages in songs played in reverse. Scientist Carl Sagan hypothesised that we are ‘hard-wired’ from birth to recognise the human face.

Supporting this theory is the fact that several better quality images of the ‘Face on Mars’ have since been returned to Earth, revealing the initial images to be little more than tricks of light and shadow. There’s also the example of the ‘Happy Face Crater’, an optical illusion created by two small mountain clusters in the north of the crater and a curved mountain range in the south. Essentially we’re seeing what we want to see. Both the ‘Face on Mars’ and the Libya Montes face are today generally regarded as examples of pareidolia.

Newer image of the 'Face on Mars'

Newer image of the ‘Face on Mars’

The Happy Face Crater

The Happy Face Crater

And while significant questions do surround the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and there is evidence that they predate all known ancient civilisations, there’s no evidence to suggest that Martians or ancient aliens created us. (But then, there’s no evidence that God created us either.)

Of course, it could be that unknown forces are manipulating the data. Perhaps ancient aliens are not so ancient. Still nobody knows what happened to the Mars Observer, which mysteriously vanished in 1993 before it could produce any data about Mars. There are also conspiracy theorists who believe that all the Mars images being sent back to Earth from probes and spacecrafts are being censored, altered and fabricated by the Martians. Because they’re still there – and they never left.

Next week: What happened to Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards?

Roswell – so it was a cover-up all along

Aliens? Or progeria sufferers?

Aliens? Or progeria sufferers?

When something crashed at Roswell in 1947, the US military told the media that it was a “harmless, high-altitude weather balloon.” It was revealed decades later that in fact this was a lie, and that the government did engineer a cover-up at Roswell after all…

Project Mogul – the truth?

In 1947 rancher William ‘Mac’ Brazel told the media, “I am sure that what I saw was not any weather observation balloon.”

Turns out he was right.

In 1994, the US Air Force began an internal investigation into just what happened at Roswell in 1947, and its report drew on military data that was classified secret during the Cold War. Its initial 1994 report revealed that it was likely that the crash debris – the sticks, tinfoil, rubber and scotch tape found on Mac Brazel’s ranch – was from a Project Mogul balloon.

Project Mogul was a top-secret espionage operation that used high-altitude balloons with spy sensors to listen for sound waves generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests. This explains why Mac Brazel said the debris didn’t match up with previous weather balloon wreckage he’d found on his ranch. It was a very different balloon.

A further report, unveiled in 1997, aimed to explain all the reports of recovered alien bodies. It concluded that the reports were probably a combination of the following:

  1. Innocently transformed memories of military accidents, accidents which had resulted in the deaths of military personnel and possible sightings of burned or mangled bodies. One accident caused an officer’s head to swell and his eyes to become tiny slits.
  2. Innocently transformed memories of the recovery of lifelike dummies, probably damaged, mangled and deformed, used by the Air Force in parachute tests.
  3. Hoaxes perpetrated by UFO proponents and witnesses with ulterior motives.
A confessed 'Mirage Man'

A confessed ‘Mirage Man’

In 2010, Mark Pilkington published a book, Mirage Men: A Journey in Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs, which shone a light on the government’s use of UFO mythology to cover up their advanced technology – exactly as they did with Project Mogul. For those who remember reading my Men in Black article, these are the guys who infiltrated UFO circles and spun lies about aliens to keep the focus off what the government was really doing. Pilkington believes that Walter Haut, who put out the first Roswell ‘flying saucer’ and ‘weather balloon’ press releases, is the first Mirage Man we can identify.

These revelations about the Project Mogul balloon and the presence of Mirage Men to perpetuate UFO fallacies demonstrate the power and readiness of the government to lie to us and execute cover-ups. Of course, many UFO researchers believe the government are lying about lying. That this Project Mogul story is deliberate disinformation to try and put the Roswell UFO Incident to bed.

There are also some alternative theories that have cropped up…

Military aircraft tests using Japanese prisoners of war

Credible or not, we know that multiple people, including Glenn Dennis, Jim Ragsdale, Miriam Bush, Gerald Anderson and Barney Barnett, claim to have seen alien bodies being recovered by the military. And one man claimed to have filmed an alien autopsy. Consistent features of these sightings seem to be small bodies with oversized heads and eyes.

The infamous Alien Autopsy

The infamous Alien Autopsy

We also know that not one but several crash sites have been alleged. There’s the most famous, most legitimate crash site at Mac Brazel’s ranch. Gerald Anderson and Barney Barnett apparently came upon a crashed spacecraft and alien bodies in the Plains of San Agustin – a wholly different site. Jim Ragsdale said he saw a spaceship sticking out of a cliff face in the New Mexico desert at yet another site. It is also alleged that he made a deathbed confession to his daughter, Judy, about a further crash site in a forest location near the Boy Scout Mountain.

UFO researcher Andrew Oien says that perhaps two UFOs collided over Mac Brazel’s ranch, leaving debris at that site, before going their separate ways and crashing at some of the other locations.

But ufologist Nick Redfern has another idea. He doesn’t buy the alien spaceship stories, but he also doesn’t buy the idea of the Project Mogul balloon and transformed memories of military accidents and human dummies put out by the US Air Force.

He believes that the Roswell legend is the product of two crashes in the region – crashes of experimental aircraft being test-flown by the US military with Japanese crew on board.

The first contained a number of physically deformed and handicapped Japanese prisoners of war, recovered from Japan’s Unit 731 laboratories, who were suffering from conditions like progeria and radiation poisoning. The crashing of this aircraft is said to explain some of the sightings of ‘aliens’, and in particular the Alien Autopsy video supplied to Ray Santilli in the 1990s. Nick Redfern argues that the body being operated on in the video is not an alien, but a human suffering from progeria.

The second crash was the one that caused debris to end up on Mac Brazel’s ranch. This was of an aircraft affixed to a huge balloon, inspired by a Japanese design and piloted by a crew of trained Japanese personnel. The reason it crashed was that it was apparently struck by lightning.

But Gildas Bourdais argues that it was not possible for US forces to have recovered any Japanese subjects of Unit 731. This is because all historical studies and sources support that the Japanese killed them all and destroyed the buildings to cover up all traces of the horrific bio-warfare experiments taking place there. Bourdais also points out that the scientists at Unit 731 preferred to work on subjects in good health, and wouldn’t have used people suffering from progeria and other conditions.

There’s also the problem of Nick Redfern relying on the authenticity of the Alien Autopsy footage to support his theory. A year after Redfern’s book setting out his theory was published, Ray Santilli admitted that the Alien Autopsy footage was fabricated, filmed by him and a fellow producer with an alien dummy.

And finally – where did Nick Redfern get his evidence about all this? Anonymous whistle-blowers inside the government and the military. Anonymous. How convenient.

A Soviet plot with deformed human children?

Journalist Annie Jacobsen presented a new theory on the Roswell Incident in 2011. Based on apparent interviews with scientists who worked at Area 51, the top secret Air Force base in the Nevada desert, she claims that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orchestrated a plot to cause hysteria on American soil. It was to be similar in manner to the radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds in 1938, when fictionalised announcements about Martians invading were taken as fact by radio listeners and mass panic ensued.

Area51cover

Annie Jacobsen’s theory is that Stalin recruited Nazi paramilitary officer and Auschwitz physician Josef Mengele to produce “grotesque, child-size aviators” to be remotely piloted and landed in America. Unfortunately the aircraft crashed and, to avoid panic, the Americans covered up the incident.

Jacobsen’s source told her they found that the aircraft was filled with “alien-like” children around the age of 12. She writes in her 2011 book:

“These were not aliens. Nor were they consenting airmen. They were human guinea pigs. Unusually petite for pilots, they appeared to be children. Each was under five feet tall. They were grotesquely deformed, but each in the same manner as the others. They had unusually large heads and abnormally shaped, oversized eyes.”

However, Jacobsen’s work has been heavily criticised for being full of errors by the Federation of American Scientists, for being sensationalist, and for defying common sense. And her story – once again – comes from one anonymous source who can’t be tested.

Where does this leave us today?

Everything I’ve read over the course of my investigation of the Roswell UFO Incident has left me highly dubious about the presence of aliens in New Mexico in 1947.

Having looked at some of the popular evidence for the recovery of alien bodies and hush-hush alien autopsies, all I’ve found is highly untrustworthy eyewitness evidence and hoaxes. Whatever crashed at Mac Brazel’s ranch cannot have been an alien spaceship if it was made of tinfoil, rubber and scotch tape – that’s just silly. And the evidence for witness intimidation by the government is largely based on hearsay, which makes it impossible to know what’s been exaggerated, misunderstood or straight-up fabricated.

And Jacobsen and Redfern’s non-alien Roswell theories don’t seem to have much corroborative evidence to support them either. Nobody can put much faith in an unnamed whistleblower who hasn’t been subjected to rigorous personal scrutiny, particularly when some of the quite-happy-to-be-named witnesses have told bare-faced lies about Roswell.

What we do know is that the government has admitted to lying about Roswell for more than 40 years. Given that all the alleged alien sightings don’t stand up to much scrutiny, the Project Mogul explanation does sound sensible to me – and probably the explanation I will subscribe to until some earth-shattering new evidence comes to light. At the same time, I do admit that there is scope for arguing that if the government can lie about something for 40 years, who’s to say they’re not still lying?

And in terms of earth-shattering new evidence, this might just happen in a couple of months’ time. Earlier this month, it was reported that a number of reportedly authenticated slides featuring a Roswell alien are set to be unveiled this May at the National Auditorium in Mexico City.

Another hoax? Or could this be the real thing?

Next week: Ata – the world’s most mysterious human

Sources:

Roswell, and the book of Nick Redfern: New explanation, or new disinformation?

The Telegraph – Roswell was ‘Soviet plot to create US panic’

Fortean Times Forum – Interview with Mark Pilkington

Andrew Oien – Southwest UFO Triangle Theory

Chron – ‘Roswell Slides’ found in an attic to be unveiled in Mexico City

Wikipedia

Serbians, corrupt footballers or the BBC – who killed Jill Dando?

Jill Dando - 1961-1999

Jill Dando – 1961-1999

It was a sad and shocking day on 26th April 1999 when Jill Dando, newsreader and presenter of BBC TV series Crimewatch and Holiday, was shot dead outside her home. After Barry George was convicted of her murder, we all thought the case was solved. Then he was acquitted on appeal. So the question is, who killed Jill Dando?

At the time of her death, 37-year-old Jill Dando was a very high-profile BBC personality. That all changed at 11.32am on 26th April 1999, when she returned to the house she owned in Fulham. Just as she reached the front door, a single bullet was fired into her left temple. Her body was discovered 14 minutes later.

The murder weapon was said to be a 9mm automatic pistol, and forensic testing said that it was pressed against her head at the moment the trigger was pulled. Her next door neighbour, Richard Hughes, said he heard her utter a surprised cry which – interestingly – was “like someone greeting a friend”. He heard no gunshot.

Hughes also made the only eyewitness sighting of the killer. A 6-foot-tall white man, approximately 40 years old.

Barry George, a man with a history of stalking women, sex offences and anti-social behaviour, eventually became the focus of the murder investigation. The evidence against him hinged on his previous history, the fact that he was in the vicinity four and a half hours before the murder, and the tiny particle of firearm discharge residue that was found on his coat.

After being convicted of murder and serving just over 7 years in prison, George was found not guilty at a retrial. This was after the firearm residue evidence was ruled to be inadmissible because of possible cross-contamination, effectively whittling the prosecution case down to nothing.

But if it wasn’t him, who was it?

Assassinated by the Serbians?

Due to the way she was shot, the police have now decided that Jill Dando was executed by a professional assassin. This has helped fuel a number of conspiracy theories, the first being that she was assassinated by the Serbians.

At Barry George’s first trial, his defence barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, posited this theory based on Dando’s coverage of the Kosovo War. Britain was on the side of the Kosovo Albanian rebel group, who were fighting the Serbian government and dictator Slobodan Milošević.

Mansfield suggested that the Serbians may have targeted her for two reasons:

  1. She had recently presented a TV appeal for aid for Kosovan-Albanian refugees in the Kosovo War, which may have attracted adverse attention from Slobodan Milošević’s supporters.
  2. Her death was Serbian retaliation for Britain and America’s highly controversial bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia’s headquarters on 23rd April 1999.

Initially the police rejected the Serbian link because the bombing was only 3 days before her death and they wouldn’t have had enough time to plan it. But journalist Bob Woffinden argues that powers in Serbia had been planning it for a lot longer. He cited the murder of newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija – shot dead outside his Belgrade home on April 11th – as evidence that Milošević was hitting back at his perceived enemies in the media.

The damaged headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia - was Jill Dando killed in retaliation?

The damaged headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia – was Jill Dando killed in retaliation?

What’s more is that the day after Dando’s murder, a man with a mid-European accent called the BBC TV Centre to admit to Dando’s death and threaten to kill Tony Hall. Hall was the chief executive for BBC News, thus ultimately responsible for coverage of the Kosovo War. To this day, nobody knows if the call was a hoax or not. The mysterious caller said this:

“Yesterday I call you to tell you to add a few numbers to your list. Because your government, and in particular your Prime Minister Blair, murdered, butchered 17 innocent young people. He butchered, we butcher back. The first one you had yesterday, the next one will be Tony Hall.”

Assassinated by corrupt powers in football?

The Serbian assassination theory is the one that has gained the most traction, but a former BBC colleague of Jill Dando believes it is a red herring. Wishing to remain anonymous, she told the Daily Star in March 2014 that Dando’s death was to do with her investigation of the death of her friend Matthew Harding.

Three years before Dando’s death, Matthew Harding – deputy chairman of Chelsea football club – expressed concerns about corruption in football and, according to this unnamed source, repeated those concerns to Dando. Just months later, Harding was killed in a mysterious helicopter crash along with four others. Did somebody silence him? Dando was apparently looking into his death – and received two warnings to back off. She didn’t.

Matthew Harding

Matthew Harding

All sounds very colourful and scandalous, but could also be a string of coincidences – and Harding’s death was ruled an accident by an inquest jury. That’s not to say it’s impossible that there’s a huge cover-up going on, but beyond these allegations made by an unidentified source to the Daily Star, the evidence for a cover-up is thin.

Assassinated by the BBC?

Another anonymous source, also claiming to be a former colleague of Jill Dando, told the Daily Star in July 2014 that Dando was murdered in order to keep a lid on a paedophile ring within the BBC. Apparently Dando had information about ‘big-name’ celebrities and high-up BBC staff who were part of this ring and was in the process of investigating it when she was killed. Not surprisingly, the BBC said it hadn’t seen anything to substantiate the claims.

Another cover-up? Or perhaps the Daily Star spun this story themselves to capitalise on the extremely high profile of the Jimmy Saville abuse scandal and Operation Yewtree? Were they just running out of stories in mid-2014, and so decided to invent some conspiracy theories?

David Icke would argue – no. Despite not citing any evidence, he argues that Dando did know of a paedophile ring within the BBC, and that the State killed her to keep her quiet.

But then, David Icke also believes the government is under the control of lizards in human camouflage.

Will we ever know the truth?

Evidence for all these theories is pretty much non-existence. Even the coincidences they derive from are thin and barely hang together. Truth is, I haven’t got the faintest idea who killed Jill Dando. None of us do.

But what intrigues me the most – after all this talk of Serbian hitmen and huge conspiracies to cover up football corruption and paedophile rings – is the evidence of her neighbour Richard Hughes.

The sound she made, right before she was fatally shot, was “like someone greeting a friend”…

Next week: My fifth and final article looking at the world’s biggest conspiracy theory – the Roswell UFO Incident. In the meantime, catch up with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

LA’s most dangerous hotel and the gruesome case of Elisa Lam

Cecil_Hotel,_L.A

On February 19th 2013, 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam was found dead and decomposing in a water tank at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Theories as to how she got there range from mental illness to murder to demonic possession…

I’ve heard that Downtown LA has a bit of a bad rep. I suspect the grisly history of the Cecil Hotel on Main Street – which has now been renamed ‘Stay on Main’ and is a budget hotel and unofficial residence for ‘transients’ – is a big reason for that.

Hotel of Horror – suicides, stabbings and serial killers

Since the Cecil Hotel was built in 1924, three people have committed suicide by jumping out of windows. One jumper also killed a passing pedestrian.

In 1964, a woman named Goldie Olsen, known for feeding the pigeons in Pershing Square, was raped, stabbed and strangled in her hotel room. The room was ransacked. Her killer was never found.

Satanist Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, lived in a top floor room at the Cecil for several weeks in 1985, during which time he committed a vast spree of horrific burglaries, rapes, murders and attempted murders.

Killer-cum-journalist Jack Unterweger was a guest at the Cecil while he was supposedly working for an Austrian magazine, but was in fact up to his old tricks: strangling prostitutes with their bra straps.

And in 2013, Elisa Lam became the hotel’s latest victim.

The bizarre death of Elisa Lam

On January 26th 2013, Elisa Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel. On January 31st, she went missing. While authorities searched for her, guests at the hotel complained about low water pressure in their rooms, discolouration and a funny taste. Then, on February 19th, maintenance workers discovered Lam’s body in one of the water supply tanks on the room, naked and decomposing. No wonder the water tasted funny!

Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam

Her death was ruled to be an ‘accidental drowning’, possibly contributed to by her bipolar disorder. Many people take issue with this ruling…

The elevator video

One of the reasons this case caused such widespread speculation is because of the CCTV footage of Elisa Lam in one of the Cecil’s elevators, released by the LAPD on February 14th 2013. The footage is the last time Lam is seen alive.

In the footage, Lam behaves in an utterly bizarre manner. Looking frightened and as if someone is after her, she steps in and out of the elevator several times, hides in the corner, looks up and down the hallway and waves her arms about erratically. Eventually she steps out and is not seen again. For another minute, the elevator doors are seen opening and closing, apparently by themselves.

Some have theorised that she was having a psychotic episode, imagining that someone was pursuing her, because of her bipolar disorder. Others have theorised that she was under the influence of drugs. Given the Cecil’s dark and sordid past, some have said that her inexplicable actions are because she was possessed by a demon or a ghost. Others believe she was murdered, either by a lone killer or as part of an insidious conspiracy.

See for yourself…

Unanswered questions and shocking coincidences

A long list of questions still surrounds the mysterious death of Elisa Lam…

  1. How did she get onto the hotel’s roof? Doors accessing the roof were locked, and the only way of getting to it without triggering an alarm was to use a staff member’s pass code or key.
  1. How did she get into the water tank? Some have argued that she wouldn’t be able to get into the tank by herself or without a ladder, and wouldn’t have been able to replace the very heavy lid – one of the leading reasons why people argue that she was murdered.
  1. What happened to her phone? It wasn’t found in the water tank or in her room. Was it stolen just prior to her death?
  1. Who has been sporadically updating Elisa’s blog since her death?
  1. Is it merely an astonishing coincidence that at the time of Elisa Lam’s death, the Centre for Disease Control was testing for a new strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis that had broken out across Los Angeles – and the test was called the “LAM ELISA TEST”?
  1. Did some kind of conspiracy lead to Elisa’s death? Suspiciously, the release of the autopsy report was postponed many times, and her cause of death marked “accidental”, then three days later marked “undetermined” – apparently in error. Another big question hangs over the elevator CCTV footage. Disturbingly, the time stamp on the footage jumps by a minute, suggesting that the video has been edited and some of the footage of Elisa – or perhaps even her killer – is being withheld.

What do you think? Is the Cecil Hotel cursed? Are ghosts or demons at work within its walls? Is a much larger, more corporeal conspiracy at work? Or is all this just a series of strange and unfortunate coincidences?

I know one thing. I certainly won’t be booking a room.

Next week: what really happened to King Edward II?