tv 20th Century UFO Conspiracies CSPAN July 22, 2017 8:00pm-9:16pm EDT
great. but it is going to take time. >> join us on c-span3 sunday for an american history tv live special at noon, eastern. heather in towns and of the university of michigan and detroit free press editorial page editor steve henderson. at 1:15 p.m. eastern, isaiah mckenna and former detroit free press journalist, tim, and american history tv special. the 50th anniversary. live, sunday, at noon eastern on c-span3. on lectures in history, emory university professor felix a class on hows conspiracy theories about ufos have shaped american culture. he begins in the late 1940's and
describes how public opinion about extraterrestrials changed over the course of the 20th century, often paralleling societal anxieties. this class is about one hour and 15 minutes. felix harcourt: let us start with the question that i am sure that no one will have any problem having their answer recorded for television four. a show of hands -- how many people believe alien life exists? a number of people. i think so. stephen hawking's think so. -- stephen hawking thinks so. a probability that alien life has evolved and probably looks pretty different from us but they may be out there. slightly different question. how many of us believe that aliens have come to earth?
sergio, the only man with a strength of his convictions. another question. is the idea that aliens have visited earth, in and of itself, a conspiracy theory? sergio? >> probably not. if you take into account that we are trying to get to mars, there would technically be alien life there. to say that another life form has become intelligent enough to do space travel and visit another planet is not a conspiracy theory. felix harcourt: that seems fair. you defineds on how the scope of a conspiracy theory. a speciesake collaborating together to land on another planet. felix harcourt: that seems reasonable. to indict little odd
the entire planet of wherever for wanting to come to visit. arguably -- maybe we could consider it a conspiracy theory, it would be a conspiracy of aliens among themselves which is not what we talk about when we talk about ufo conspiracy theories. those are theories, alien conspiracy theories, that include an element of human conspiracy, usually of government conspiracy. these ideas that there are not only aliens visiting earth, but that the state is in some way is aved with those visits really prominent conspiracy theory. not really one, but a multitude of conspiracy theories. like the kennedy conspiracy that we talked about last week, to just and here and name every ufo
conspiracy theory would take much longer than we have in this class. tragically, we will not be talking about the fact that nasa is hiding the existence of planet visitors. or that we are in secret contact with andromeda and part of a fast, -- a vast intergalactic war. and we will not be talking about how the earth is hollow and beingswith interstellar who may or may not have been allied with the nazis in world war ii, depending on who you ask. there may be a few smiles at those ideas. which is understandable. but these are real ideas that real people fiercely and fully believe in. and we should be clear, before we dig into this too much. as bridget brown makes clear in
the reading you did for today. not everyone that believes in ufos, believes in ufo conspiracy theories. don amongst those that believe in ufo conspiracy theories, there is a wide variation. we keep coming back to this idea of fringe conspiracy is him -- fringe conspiracy and that is very much in evidence. it is worth thinking about. that these ufo conspiracy theories are widely treated as something laughable. in fact, serious discussion of them is really an effective cultural taboo. we talked about the labeling of something as conspiracy as a distancing measure. alien conspiracy theories are possibly one of the most evident examples of the distancing of
conspiracy believes from acceptable discourse. same time, even as they are treated as laughable, they are some of the most widely believed conspiracy theories. if we go back to the 1960's, gallup polls find 96% of americans had heard of ufos. 46% believed they were real. 1973, 57% believed that ufos are real. 1990's, 71% believe the government is, at least, hiding information about ufos. they may or may not be real but there is definitely more going on there then the government is letting us know. and those numbers remained relatively stable. that 56%l shows
believed that ufos are real. that aliens have actually landed and visited earth, on top of that. context, 56%nto believe ufos are real, in that same survey, 57% showed that the big bang theory was real. this is very much a widely held belief that is very mainstream. at least, the idea that something is going on with ufos. even if we narrow it into a specific example, like roswell, a majority of americans will repeatedly say that they are at the very least, unsure whether or not a flying saucer crashed in roswell, new mexico.
odd disconnects between this very, very mainstream idea, this majority idea and yet the way that it is treated within our political and cultural discourse. that weird lights or is somethinge sky to be concerned about, is nothing new. in then, if you are a serf 13th century europe, what are you going to think the floating lights in the sky might be? aliens? which is? omens of doom? any other guesses? god. which is -- witches.
omens. overwhelmingly, a supernatural explanation. and it is not really until we start to see that enlightenment rationalism supplant these ideas of divine providence, that we toe from the supernatural scientific explanations for these unexplained phenomena. although, even then, we need to be careful about drawing too wide of a divide between those ideas we will see those remain thoroughly intertwined. 11% of the people here think ufos are real but do not think that aliens have visited earth. ufos --ndering -- unidentified flying object --
where is the boundary? unidentified according to who? there are a lot of things i see flying in the sky that i cannot identify but i assume someone came. felix harcourt: the wording is not great in the polls. the way the pool explains that that there is an 11% difference between those that believe ufos are an extraterrestrial phenomena, or what is commonly referred to as the extraterrestrial hypothesis that ufos are real and alien related. the difference is that 56% believed that ufos are real, 11% fewer believe that some of those ufos have landed and we have had contact with the aliens. that is the differential playing out there. the differential between something else going on is that 56% going up to 71% from the 1990's if the idea that something is going on with this question.
idea that there is something going on has a long history. the concern over extraterrestrial contact has a long history. back to 1835, the new york newspaper, the son, garners major attention in back reportig that an astronomer has found life on the moon. series ofe shape of a humanoid bat people. unsurprisingly, that it is a hoax. i am sorry to disappoint anyone that was hoping that there are bat people really living on the moon. unsurprisingly, that it isbut it points us to ta that -- to the idea of the ideas that are already percolating around in the 19th century. that becomes more evident in the late 19th century.
in 1891, when thomas alleges int a man from mars appeared the kitchen of his rural home and fully endorsed late 19th century democratic socialist utopianism. which was nice for thomas to hear since he was already a believer in such things. 1897, where you see a series of unexplained air ships seen in the skies over the west coast. there is a really interesting variety of stories that come out about these airships. some of them claim that they humanoid beings inside peddling to make it go. if that is a spaceship, that is a lot of peddling. some allegedly called out to the as it goes over and the
airship called back down to say that they are from mars. even in the 19th century, people are very fixated about life on mars. there are those ideas that there is a long history or concern about as it goes over ae airship contact with extraterrestrial life and that extraterrestrial life visiting us here on earth. but when we talk about modern ufo conspiracy, what we are really talking about is the post world war ii era. and these conspiracies paint and all caps -- an alternative history of america from the cold war to the present. what we might call -- ethno sociology's of extraterrestrial conspiracies. extraterrestrial concerns about agency, state power, about disempowerment and
depersonalization. of expertise and of authority and especially ideas of skepticism. about expertise and authority and about narratives of progress with a social or scientific. -- whether social or scientific. that modern ufo phenomena in really gets kick started after world war ii in 1947 by this gentleman, kenneth arnold. -- pilots hadn seen unidentified phenomena during world war ii. they get commonly referred to as fu fighters which is where the band name comes from. but it is not until kenneth arnold's as sighting in late june, 19 47, of what he describes to newspapers as flying discs. word gets widely reported as
flying saucers that the modern ufo phenomenon begins. very, veryads sighting quickly. over the july 4 holiday that year, thousands of men and women contact authorities to report more than 850 sightings of ufos. that has never been paralleled since. been such aver frenzy of ufo sightings as there in over independence holiday 1940 seven. although sightings remained fairly common through to the early 1950's. and then, you get pictures like 1962from new jersey from a sighting of an
unidentified flying object. unsurprisingly, we see a variety of efforts to try to explain this phenomenon. two of the most influential voices in that process are frank a sighting of an unidentified flying object. scully and donald kehoe. scully was a writer for variety magazine. who publishes behind the flying saucers in 1950. where he really focuses in on the story of flying saucers that crash in the american southwest. and where did that crash take place? not run as well. falling into for my easy trap. inlly says that they crashed aztec, new mexico. neither men ever mentioned braswell. we will talk later about why that is. saucers crashed in
aztec. not only did they crash, but bodies are found. foot tall alien beings. really cementing the modern idea of the little green man comes out of his books. saucersclaims that the come, not from mars, but from venus. and the 1950's are a really key battle overrs-venus where these flying saucers come from. after loses popularity 1952 because true magazine publishes an extensive article debunking his entire book, pointing out the fact that most were really all of his sources are professional con men and
really spending page after page making fun of scully for evenving those con men and making fun of how terrible his writing is. it was a really mean article. and it destroys his credibility. but, scully's ideas are really going to have a long shelf life. in recent years, there has been an uptick in people trying to attract some of the roswell tourism away over to aztec and publishing new books saying that scully was right and saucers really did crash in aztec, new mexico. little bit more a credible, at scully was donald kehoe, a retired officer from the marine corps who writes
three very popular books. ,he flying saucers are real which is released in 1950. flying saucers from outer space which comes out in 1953. and the flying saucer conspiracy in 1955. reportsld kehoe conversations and interviews that he has purportedly had with air force officers and specifically air force intelligence officers, to try to substantiate his warnings that first of all, ufos are real, and military pilots are encountering them on a semi regular basis, second of all, he thinks are is a very good chance that the aliens have set up a mothership in orbit of earth and the ufos are coming from that mothership rather than all the way from another planet. and thirdly, that these ufos are
.ost likely from mars he is not a venus fan. he is back on the mars train. and what is interesting about donald kehoe is that he does see a conspiracy. he does see a conspiracy by the military to cover up the reality that earth is being visited by these flying saucers. not blame them for doing so. for donald kehoe, what he calls the silence group is acting out of a desire to protect national security, and a desire to prevent public hysteria. and while he disagrees with that decision, he sees it as a matter of reasonable disagreement. he does not see nefarious
motives at work. idea that isn going to change significantly over the 1960's and especially coming out of the 1970's and into the 1980's. but it is really easy, at the time, to see the impact of writers like donald kehoe who see a conspiracy, silenced, but not necessarily a nefarious conspiracy of silence. that52, the same here is true magazine is debunking scully, life magazine leads with a big front cover splash of maryland monro and the headline -- there is a case for interplanetary saucers and life comes down hard in that issue to say that they think something probably is going on with ufos.
less concerned with credibility but no less influential in putting these ideas into the american consciousness is the int of alien invasion films the 1950's. of course, the classic invasion of the body snatchers but also the invasion of the saucer man, killers from space, earth versus the flying saucers and more. and there are a couple of interesting elements to be brought out from these films. not the least of which is a lot of them deal with aliens either taking control of the minds of humans or of replacing them in tire with look-alikes. and given that these are coming mid to late 1950's, but other things have we been
talking about that coincides with that? marissa? certainly communist infiltration. >> brainwashing of pows. felix harcourt: good. and this is very much playing on bubblingtaneous fears up in the 1950's. not just that the communists are infiltrating but that they are infiltrating through this kind of mind control and appearing that with a fear of extraterrestrial threat. it really is an extraterrestrial threats. these films overwhelmingly buy into a donald kehoe styled view about what is happening. the threat is purely extraterrestrial. it is not human. in fact, most of these films, rather than the state being complicit or suspect, government
agents, particularly military agents, are the heroes, they are the ones saving us from these extraterrestrial threats. so, -- behind the aliens being a threat? is there a thought about why they are doing that? felix harcourt: the why of the conspiracy -- there is not ideay a single, unifying in the 1950's. other than domination. the plan is always to conquer the world. why they want to conquer the world is open for interpretation. their own planet is dying. maybe it is because they want to make us into slaves. there is some pretty wide latitude there. good question.
so, we see this donald kehoe paranoia atite of work to some extent. does anyone remember the word for the opposite of paranoia? not quite. security is the middle line. not quite. aat do you call that when conspiracy is acting for your good and not against you? not paranoia. oia.pron this is very much an example of that type of conspiracy thinking. that is evident in another of extraterrestrial phenomena that emerges in the 1950's which is an increasing number of people who claim that
not only have they seen ufos, but that they have been contacted by aliens. and this is really kicked off by a man named george odamsky. tois the first contactee publish a book length account of his experience in 1953. and he contradicts virtually everything else that has come before him. he says that they are not from mars but venus. scully is right about them being from venus, he is wrong about them being short. he says they are about 5'6", they are humanoid and very beautiful. he also says that they are not a threat. he says the coming was friendly. going to lose popular
support in the 1960's after he claims that he will be leaving any day now for an interplanetary conference on saturn and somehow never quite makes his appointment for that. but, his ideas, his narrative that there are these friendly visitors has very much caught on. and throughout the 1950's, you encountersries of with extraterrestrial beings who have seemingly calm to warn humanity about our warlike nature, to warn us that nuclear weapons will destroy us all. ofery pure distillation common cold war fears at the time. cold war fears also airing no small resemblance to the 1951 film "the day the earth stood
still" which is basically the exact same plot that he recounts two years later. no really believes him at the time. pro-noia atll this work in the early 1950's. the idea that the government might be lying to us about it being for our own good. but yes, that aliens are visiting but they are doing it for our own good. that increasingly will take a darker turn as we move out of the 1950's into the 1960's. you start to see not least the government's motives and methods becoming much darker in hiding the truth. going tospecially become symbolized by the idea of the men in black. ideahe men in black is an -- kind of more
or less put into play by an author called gray darker. he is an interesting guy. barker makes a pretty good living publishing books about supposedly true ufo encounters. privately calls flying saucers a "bucket of shit." very much capitalizing on this threat. or lesss going to more launch this idea of men in black in his 1956 book "they knew too much about flying saucers." experiences on the of a factory clerk from connecticut, albert bender who claimed that three men in black suits had approached him and intimidated him into not telling the truth about his alien encounter.
obviously bender had not been that silence given that he was a, able to tell gray barker about it and b, publishes own book about it in 1962 in which he explains it is not the martians, an actual effect he had been taken for a ride in a flying saucer to the south pole .y grizzly monster like aliens the -- let's be generous and say skepticism which will we might greet albert bender's story, the idea that government agents and these sinister men in black are working to hide true information really gains popularity, and it really takes off going to the 1960's and
1970's. and there is an interesting phenomenon going on with just the men in black themselves, where quite often they are characterized as old -- as all human agents of the state, but often times they are given in human or unearthly characteristics, characteristics that very often belie the difference between these scientific and supernatural expressions. and often demonic powers are ascribed to the men in black, walking as if they are not of this earth, not blinking, unnatural powers of persuasion, even up to and including the idea that when they appear, an odor of sulfur also appears. this very literal callback to folklore about demonic
appearance. the fact that traditionally they also appear in numbers of 3, also heavily rooted in mystical supernatural texts. of human just accounts action that take a darker turn as we move into the 1960's. increasingly, narratives of alien contact are going to turn away from friendly warnings about war into of the auction and -- into abduction and experimentation. that starts with a couple from new hampshire, betty and barney hill, who claim to have been abducted in 1961. although their story does not receive wide publicity until 1965.
hill's abduction will set the narrative for all of the abductions that come soon after. in looking at the spread of sbduction conspiracy some i interesting and we compare it to kennedy conspiracy is him. this is very much a grassroots endeavor, and is not somebody sitting behind their desk saying, this is what you will need to believe is the truth. it is all these people going out and trying to uncover the truth themselves. the difference being that in terms of of production conspiricism, they are not detectives. they are not looking for evidence. they are not turning themselves into experts on bullet trajectories. they themselves are the evidence, their own abduction
experience proves the truth of their conspiracy. >> do you feel that these people are trying to uncover the truth, or just get book deals? i could make up a story and turn it into a public affair and get a lot of publicity for it. do you have any idea of their motives? it is really too complex of a question to have a single answer to. while there are certainly criticisms labeled -- criticisms , while against abductees there are these accusations that they are just trying to profit, trying to cash in and sell books, on the other hand, as bridget brown points us to, a lot of these people that say they have been abducted, that is a socially devastating
phenomenon. they are going to be ostracized. they risk being fired from work. this, can benefit from but you are really going to have to benefit from within the world of ufo abduction conspiricism. >> one thing that question gets at is the paranoid style from hofstetter doesn't seem to be enough to explain these first-person encounters. it is unlike anything we have seen in any other conspiracy. so we need another framework to understand. it could be profit motive or it could be mental illness. is there kind of a third prong to that, a different schema through which we can approach these people? >> outside of, they are either crazy or trying to make money? the third prong would be that
they have been abducted by aliens, i suppose. the problem is we are never really going to know for sure what their motivations are in this. it is thisht, fundamental difference between earlier conspiricism that we have talked about, where people are bearing the burden of this conspiracy themselves. it is their own -- conspiracists are not saying they are the ones that flew the planes to pearl harbor. this is fundamentally different, where they are saying they have been abducted. >> i think some of that could be lack of verifiability. when you claim it is your own narrative and that you are abducted, there is no factual ground point.
the kennedy assassination, you have x, y, z, happened, those are undisputed. >> unless you have someone that says kennedy is still alive. >> i feel like in these, one of the rhetorically useful thing about saying it was your own experience is that no one can deny that. >> yeah. why ufohe root of conspiricism can become so expensive, because we have talked about this, the fact that in terms of abduction evidence, that evidence is by definition personal, it is by definition subjective, and once we move away from the objective veracity of physical evidence, what do we get to? what we have been talking about the last couple of classes.
>> [inaudible] of widerbut this kind issue. >> knowing that we can't ever know what happened, so we are left with how we interpret the things we can personally experience. >> this sounds a lot like religion. why are we so quick to discount ufos when we base everything on the word of god and these personal experiences? >> okay, so the extent that we talk about mystical angelic visitations, why do we accept those but discount ufo visitations? it is a good question. some people combine the two. some people say ufos are angelic visitors. say theylars tend to are coming from the same kind of
people who are saying they were abducted now are the people who would have said they were visited by angels several hundred years ago. >> one troubling thing is the numbers you brought up earlier. like the 1947 spike after kenneth arnold when 800 people came forward with alien stories. the likelihood that these trends , all of them certainly being mars followed verifiable truth, especially when you can't follow up with physical evidence, is certainly problematic. >> and it is inscribed into the name, they are literally called unidentified flying objects. the problem is all of these conspiracies are trying to inscribe them with meaning, trying to identify something that is by definition unidentified.
and so we do reach that same kind of point of crisis of knowing, as we have been talking about, that epistemological crisis, that rumsfeldian mantra, that there are these known know ns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, things that you don't know that you don't know. those are what will allow ufo conspiracies and to be so expensive. once you move away from the strictures of any physical evidence, pretty much anything is going to come into play. still, the fact that there is this wide latitude of where conspiracies could go, the fact that they tend to track in these trends would seem to suggest something to us about how they
are being shaped by their historical context. for example, these of abduction narratives, the fact that as they are refined and revised over the following years by authors like with least revert, theybecome ever more become more focused on medical experimentation and focused on graphic and explicit sexual violation. and scholars like brown draw a direct link between the kind of evolution of these abduction narratives and changing anxieties over sexual and reproductive sociology's and technologies. the fact that these abduction narratives start around the time that new forms of contraception
are coming into play, around the time that new forms of sexual liberation coming into play, the fact that increasingly these abduction narratives focus on reproductive experimentation after the roe v. wade decision a nd especially in line with the culture wars over abortion in the 1980's. >> do you think there is a separation between people who look into this as an interest versus the issue of how it relates to religion, and the fact that it almost has a basis in science? that extraterrestrials are here to study us, they are not here to, i don't know, save us or take us back to their planet, but in this case they are here ofstudy reproductive systems
humans or take over your brain. to me, it seems like the opposite side of religion. people who look at this can say there is a basis of scientific evidence, maybe not evidence, but theory behind it. >> that there is a rational motive behind why? >> instead of just an angel flying through the air, it is a machine made by beings who have the intelligence, coming with a motive to learn about humans. >> certainly. although you could make a fairly good argument that although they are supernatural, angels or divine providence would have a rational reason why they came into play as well. relationshipe
between angels and aliens has to do with the need to believe in something bigger than yourself and what we have going on here on earth. i think a lot of people that become religious after something bad has happened is because they are looking for reassurance or they are needing to believe that everything happens for a reason. i think you can apply that logic to the belief in aliens, the things people think are happening is because something else exists. >> everything happens for a reason. we have talked about that before as one of these founding mantras of conspiracism, that everything happens within a conspiracy for a reason, that it is part of a plan. divine providential version of that, it is because of god's plan. in an enlightenment rationalist view of that, it is happening
because of a human, or in this case, extraterrestrial agency. but there is a plan, there is something happening. plan, that of god's is completely centered around humans. and earth. if you are looking at extraterrestrials, you are recognizing that there is another planet with a population of other beings, other life and other realities besides just human reality. i feel like the idea of god's plan has to do with only a human reality. -- responsering in to something happening, looking to oggod or aliens would be two different narratives. >> i think alien conspiracies
are similar to only a particular type of religion. most religious people i think are similar to the way most of outhat think aliens are .omewhere alien conspiracies we have talked about or more similar to llenialists we talked about, where it extends to where we can see. as we wille, hopefully get to, there are people that make an explicit connection there as well. there are those that make an explicit linkage between this evangelical pre-millennial dispensationalism and
extraterrestrials, usually folding extraterrestrials in as agents of the antichrist within those prophecies. these are interesting questions. they are big questions that unfortunately i don't think we will be able to answer today. but that relationship between extraterrestrial visitation and supernatural religious visitation is intimately intertwined. and these otherworldly supernatural elements are key parts of these of production -- these abduction narratives. it is not just religious narratives playing into this. these narratives have strong elements of native american captivity narratives, from the 17th and 18th centuries. fears of white colonists, particularly of white female
colonists being of ducted and held captive by native americans. in terms of their sexual content, they are almost pornographic detail that these abduction narratives go into. there is a certain rhetorical debt owed to the anti-catholic escaped nun narratives of the early 20th centuries, some of which we saw advertised in those klan newspapers we were looking at. there are a lot of different elements coming into this. not just sexual anxiety as well, anxieties about race. the fact that the first abduction couple is an interracial couple is not unrelated. the fact that one of the major fears in the 1960's as interracial marriage is ruled illegal by the supreme court --
ruled legal by the supreme court. that these fears of miscegenation are very present even as alien abduction story prevent new fears of interspecies sex, those are not unrelated elements. and you have this interesting to,lation, as brown points between the individual body of the abductee, of the experiencer, and of the national body, of the citizenry as a whole who is being violated by this conspiracy. and it is increasingly a conspiracy. it is something in which the government is complicit in. it is also worth talking very briefly, related to that question of race -- there is an
odd eugenicist element that plays into alien abduction theories coming up through the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's as well. while there is this huge taxonomy of alien races that gets constructed, there are three key races, species, whatever you want to call them. pledians,ch is the who are described as benevolent and loving and beautiful and highly evolved, spiritual. anyone want to guess what they are meant to look like? caucasians? any specific kind? blonde, blue-eyed. they are incredibly arion. in fact they are commonly referred to as tall nordics. nordic itself being a term of
eugenicist taxonomy coming out asthe early 20th century, opposed to those lower-class southern europeans who can't count as being as racially superior as the nordics. you see the short gray as a kind of equivalent of southern europeans to an extent in this taxonomy. whoshort gray, descriptione owes a debt to those little green men, to the movies of the 1950's, to frank whose explanations, but popular appearance culture is cemented by betty and barney hill. not only do they set the template for the abduction narrative, they said the image for what the gray alien with big eyes looks like. it cements that in the popular
consciousness. the other big grouping of alien species within these taxonomies are old friends, the rep orleans -- the reptilians, to give them their ufo conspiracy name, the draconians, who are these tall lizard people who are probably hiding amongst us, plotting to take over the earth at anytime. anybody remember the english conspiracist we talked about before who was focused in on these reptilians? that, but iemember did read something recently that popped up saying that someone had seen justin bieber turning into his reptilian form. [laughter] that he is a secret giant
lizard. >> that he is also one of them. >> yeah, which i had never heard before. >> very talented. >> lizard people are everywhere matthew. we can't discount this. especially if you are david ike, the conspiracist we talked about on her very first day of class, who is thoroughly an advocate of the idea that the lizard people are the queen, the president, virtually everyone in high office. anyone remember what ike thinks that they do? how do they survive? >> drink the blood of blonde people, basically? >> they drink the blood of blue-eyed blonde haired children, these aryan children. again they are this specific racial threat, containing these
deep elements of anti-semitic blood libel myth as well. -- i wasng to ask going to ask -- i don't know if it is a conspiracy, theory but since they are described as ciccone ands -- drconians feeding on aryan like children, could they be feeding on pledian children? >> that we are getting into the deep weeds. . depending on who you ask the ple iadians and draconians may be working together. on the other hand they may be in a millennia long war. on the other hand we may be the descendents of the pleiadians. on the other hand the reptilians may have traveled back in time
to create us to create a food source for themselves. which is to say any answer is possible to your question. as we have established with this system logical crisis divorced from physical evidence, virtually any conspiracy theory is possible. those conspiracy theories are increasingly going to make the government complicit. and an excellent example of that is roswell. saucer crossesg -- saucer crashes in roswell in 1947, right on trend with our other ufo sightings. surrounded by this wealth of other ufo sightings and because the air force pretty quickly declares the wreckage found in roswell to be that of a weather balloon, the media moves on. there are hundreds more ufo sightings to report on.
it is not until the boom in ufo conspiracism coming out of the late 1970's that roswell really regains attention in conspiracist circles. we talked about this a little on tuesday. why might we see a boom in antigovernment conspiracism in the late 1970's? >> you have watergate. then you have the revelation of coin until pro, the church committee. a lot of operations that the public did not know about that are now in the public. >> good. we have watergate, the church committee, all these revelations of cia misdeeds, mk ultra, leaving more credence to the idea of secret medical experimentation going on. and there is a very explicit
linkage being made in the late 1970's between this post watergate era and a boom in alien conspiracism, particularly abduction conspiracism. you see the establishment of citizens against ufo secrecy in 1977, an organization dedicated to using freedom of information act requests to get the government to reveal the truth about ufos, which is a most beautifully naive. the fact that you think the government is planning a huge conspiracy, but but because the law is on your side you can get them to reveal those secrets. it is a nice sentiment. but not only does citizens against ufo secrecy, along, but a nuclear physicist turned ufo all adjust rediscovers -- ufo
logist rediscovers roswell. we'll want to drop overly simplistic links between this post watergate national concern and this boom in roswell conspiracism. sometimes the researchers themselves make that subtext text. stanton friedman explicitly says roswell is a cosmic watergate. other rival researchers like don schmidt described the kennedy assassination as a formative experience and compare the government statements on roswell to the warren commission report. in neither case can this event will document -- can this official document be trusted. firm advocates a of the two oswalds theory of the
kennedy assassination, and goes further to that -- further than that to say that the whole cold war is a cover to develop anti-alien defense mechanisms. and you see this flood of roswell literature through the 1980's, the 1990's that says yes, the government covered it up, and they didn't do it for our own good. instead it is a litany of misinformation and misdeeds. no longer is the air force this benign body trying to protect the public from national hysteria, now president truman ats up magic 12 in 1947 as special government body to cover up the truth about ufos, presumably also in charge of those men in black.
a crisisreaches such point that in 1994, the air force actually releases a report about roswell, 1000 pages long. and you can still find this on the dod website. this is still very easily publicly available. ,he air force says okay actually we did lie to you about it being a weather balloon. in actual fact, it is the wreckage from project mogul, a top-secret project to try to detect long-range soviet nuclear experiments. right?s good, all of the roswell conspiracy theorists say brilliant, now we can move on?
no. it doesn't end to work that way. the government saying we have been lying to you for 50 years, but now we are telling you the truth, does not convince these conspiracy theories. in the same way that the warren commission spurs more conspiracy theories. the air force's roswell report spurs more conspiracy theorists. it is not helped by the cia coming out in 1997 and also say, we have been lying to you about ufo sightings. you did see stuff, but it was top-secret military planes. we could not tell you, sorry, but ufos still aren't real. it did not have the same impact. saying have been lying for years is not going to build public trust that you are now telling the truth. the 1980's ase of
this roswell conspiracism develops and abduction conspiracism in general develops, you see it move not into mainstream acceptance, but mainstream recognition. nobody came to class today never having heard of roswell. nobody came to class never having seen a picture of a short gray alien with big head and they guys. -- and big eyes. it is strongly at the forefront of popular consciousness in the 1990's. you get best-selling paperbacks that get turned into high rated tv shows. "the truth about roswell" gets turned into a showtime show. you get the classic tabloid covers. weekly world news is all over the clinton-alien relationship in the 1990's. there is even at some point
intimations that bill clinton has another sex scandal, but this time with an extraterrestrial in turn. and of course television. "x-files" comes along in the 1990's. it is the pop cultural culmination of a lot of these trends we have been talking about. the fact that these trends withinso prominent mainstream discourse is also going to open up room at the fringes for even more esoteric conspiracism to develop. >> scully from the x-files, is that a throwback to frank scully? >> very much so. there are a lot of these references. the greater of the "x-files" are very well steeped in this more
when the -- this lore when they come along. also steeped in this lore are people like william cooper who releases "behold a pale horse" in 1991. "behold a pale horse" is an odd book in many ways. cooper does not just believe virtually every conspiracy theory we have talked about today. he believes virtually every conspiracy theory we have talked about all semester. because if you believe in a conspiracy, that conspiracy is in this book, it makes the book very popular and very influential among conspiracist circles. and a wide variety of conspiracist circles. is popular with the militia movement.
timothy mcveigh is a fan of "behold a pale horse." it is also popular in the hip-hop community, that jay-z is an illuminati mastermind. cooper is held in high regard. part of that is how all-encompassing cooper's narrative is. and it has to be all-encompassing. he has a very direct philosophy. believeites, "i do not in fate. i do not believe in accidents. i cannot and will not accept the secrecy's ofong unrelated accidents determine world events." remind us of anything? cooper is an excellent example
of the idea of mechanistic causality, that there has to be a reason. for cooper, everything happens for a reason. there is no contingency. there is no accident. which means that when the question of extra trucks true life comes along -- extraterrestrial life comes along, it has to be folded into his grand conspiracist narrative. is the builder berg group, that shadowy group that supposedly convenes once a year and are the secret puppetmaster counsel of the world. listen to alex jones for more than about 10 minutes on any given day, and it's a must a given date he will get to that group pretty quickly. very much a foundational element
of the kind of new world order conspiracies and that -- new world order conspiracism that takes hold in the 1990's. cooper is a key player in the. cooper, the builder berke group is founded in 1947. why? manhattan project is mostly done by that point. year of the roswell crash. year of the ufo sightings. groupoper, the bildeberg is created in direct reaction to the extraterrestrial threat. for cooper though, magic 12 is integrated to cover up the truth about ufos. he says that friedman and others like him are government disinformation agents. in fact what he says is majesty
12 is created to establish relations with these aliens. and cooper goes further. he says by 1954, president eisenhower is going to sign a treaty with the audience -- with the aliens. that says, you want to come along and experiment on humans, that is fine. we will look the other way. we will even build secret bases for you to do so, like area 51. but in return, we want secret advanced technologies. the two most commonly pointed to being beam weapons and time travel, which apparently the u.s. has had a hold of since 1954. what they are doing with it i don't know. but apparently they do have it. in case anyone is wondering, according to cooper, the alien
ambassador's name is his most omnipotent highness krill. inn in ambassador -- even heavy and societies, peter king still -- patriarchy still holds sway. anyone wants to take a guess as to which heroic resident is willing to stand up to this? of course jfk. once again we see conspiracists ascribing the kennedy death with its own meeting. a form of counterfactual history coming into play. whereas oliver stone's counterfactual history says if kennedy had lived, he would have pulled us out of vietnam. cooper's counterfactual history said if he would have lived, he would have revealed the truth about the aliens, and also that the cia controls the world drug markets to fund the secret
alliance with the aliens. and also the fact that eisenhower was actually working for rockefeller, who is actually part of the council on foreign relations, who was working for the illuminati, which was part of the bilderberg group, and working in conjunction with european royalists and as always , the catholics. >> are their thoughts that aliens are behind the jfk assassination to keep it quite? >> very much so. if you take cooper's telling, he may have been alien, he may have been human, but it is the driver that killed him in order to silence him on the question of alien conspiracy. that, might tell from
there is a kind of heavily religious element here as well, the anti-catholic element. where is he getting "behold a pale horse" from? revelations. inis strongly fitting within this strain of pre-millennial sensationalist ticism, that aliens are their own satanic agents bringing about the end times. he brings about medical and eugenic conspiracism. going back to the question as to why -- why are the aliens experimenting on this? cooper's argument is that alien's genetic structure is deteriorating and they need to
experiment on our superior genetic structure in order to save the alien race. which is a really interesting turnabout. you sa these beingsy from another planet who traveled however far to get here are still racially inferior to us. there is a weird racial supremacist at work. that in some way echoes the kind of racial supremacist we saw with pearl harbor, that we saw with the loss of china, the idea that america couldn't possibly have lost to these inferior races. instead there must be complicity from within that allows this conspiracy to take hold, not allows america -- that allows america to be handed this defeat. cooper operating within those strains as well. while we roll our eyes talking
about cooper, he is massively especially in new militia -- new world order militia conspiracism. coincidence that cooper and new world order conspiracies some -- new world order conspiracism both emerge in the 1990's. there is a strong linkage between the two. that is not to say that the two forms of conspiracism map perfectly onto each other. tropes we seehe in new world order conspiracism -- the men in black, secret bases -- these are all tropes that are drawn from ufo sm.spiracie
cooper is one of the key linkages, giving birth to this new form of extraterrestrial conspiracism that we seem to be working our way through now. if anybody has noticed, no one is talking about alien of induction anymore. those narratives have fallen off. it seems to have been a late 20th century phenomenon rather than an early 21st century phenomenon. and instead we are more and more singing the dark side hypothesis in play, these new fears of an alien-human alliance that is deeply reflective of contemporary fears of terrorism, thetate sovereignty, and of national security state. unfortunately we are out of time, so we will leave it there. we will take up with some of these threads tuesday, particularly with ideas of structures of race and
conspiracism. have a good weekend. i will see you then. join us every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern as we join students in college classrooms to hear lectures on topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. "lectures in history" are also available as podcasts. c-span.org/histor y/podcasts or download them from itunes. >> this year marks the 150th anniversary of the senate appropriations committee. next senate historian betty koed reflects on the committee's history. senators thad cochran and patrick leahy also speak at the program. held in the kennedy congress room on capitol hill, this is about 40 minutes.