One of the most anticipated mainstream treatments of the UFO phenomena generated quite a buzz, with talk of it’s alleged focus upon physical trace cases and official eye-witness testimony. It was suggested by some that it would be distancing itself from the alien abduction sub-mileue of the overrall UFO phenomena. ABC apparently cut out the last interview footage shot of Harvard abduction researcher John Mack (before his recent untimely death at the hands of a drunk-driving Londoner). It is no surprise then that the airing of the special has created a heated and varied debate with reviews as broad as the many views held by different ufo researchers. Here are just a sample…
Budd Hopkins’ Response to the ABC Peter Jennings “Seeing is Believing” TV Program –
Courtesy of the Intruders Foundation
During the past year Jenning’s producers interviewed me a number of times, and because I sensed what they had in mind, I made, as a preemptive strike, a number of careful, highly specific observations about the UFO abduction phenomenon. All of these crucial points – recorded by ABC on videotape – were designed to underline the physical reality of UFO abductions and to demonstrate the implausibility of current skeptical explanations.
To its shame, ABC suppressed ALL of these observations.
Read the rest at the John Mack Institute
And from the John Mack Institute …
The definitive special about alien life …has yet to be made.
by Will Bueche
Peter Jennings’ report on UFOs was awaited with much excitement by people such as myself who have an interest in the subject of alien contact – excitement which was only partially tempered by the unfortunate news that the final interview given by Harvard’s Dr. John Mack, a leading authority on the subject of alien contact, would not be presented in the finished program. Still, the potential for a powerful program remained, due to the high quality work which Peter Jennings Productions are known for. I duly tuned in the broadcast this evening.
It seems that the best of what Peter Jennings Productions (and the filmmakers at Springs Media) delivered was a strong 20 or 30 minute introduction to the UFO subject, and then (much later in the program) an all-too-brief couple of minutes of modern perspectives on how alien visitation could be possible (from internationally recognized authority in theoretical physics Dr. Michio Kaku).
The first segment persuasively argued that early investigations of flying saucers on the part of the Air Force or government were so weak as to be considered a squandered opportunity for knowledge. But from that segment on, the program seemed rather uninspired.
If the program had taken the lead of modern scientists such as Dr. Michio Kaku or Brian Greene this program could have been a grand statement about the current theories and ideas about ufos/alien encounters, and how we might investigate them if we apply this modern knowledge. I refer to knowledge which – as anyone who has looked into alien encounters would appreciate – involves theoretical physics’ insights into the structure of reality as well as theories of consciousness or, to put it more simply, theories of how perception of reality is affected by different states of consciousness.
Instead, modernity was given a couple good minutes of limelight (in the form of Dr. Kaku explaining how modern physics believes that seemingly vast distances between worlds could be crossed in an instant) followed by far too many people who are retreading theories of the 1970s – including present day researchers who are parroting theories from that era (the people from SETI, Harvard’s Dr. McNally, and – to be entirely fair – even some “pro” ufo folks).
If only Jennings’ program had been as fascinated by contemporary theories as they were by the early days of the UFO era. It was evidently not to be, and therefore this special was itself an opportunity squandered.
Sadly, the definitive special about alien life has yet to be made.
via The John E. Mack Institute
On the flip side we have ace CryptoZoologist, Fortean, Anomalist, Loren Coleman …
ABC – A First Reaction From Outside Ufology by Loren Coleman
via UFO UpDates eList at VirtuallyStrange.net
I’m not a Ufologist, per se, but merely a Fortean researcher and
writer. So I watched _the_ program, anyway, out of curiosity and
to see how ABC News dealt with this subject. My first reactions:
Very well-done. High production values, not sensationalized, and
quite intelligent. <snip>
All in all, an excellent addition to the documentary attempts to
address the question of UFOs.
Sincerely, Loren Coleman
Bruce Maccabee pitches in with some corrective comments and critiques on the ABC Special ranging from the confusion over the two distinct “UFO” events collectively known as the “Phoenix Lights” …
ABC Jennings Special – Pt II
Kudos to Michio for pulling our theoretical irons out of the fire. Oddly enough, he was saying what is in the recently
published “Inflation” paper mentioned previously on this List:
we ought to examine UFO sightings on the off chance that one or
more might actually be evidence of a far advanced civilization.
As Kaku said: “Let the investigation begin.”
Bruce Maccabee via UFO UpDates eList at VirtuallyStrange.net
Meanwhile from the New York Times we get these gems … attempting to put Jennings’ decision to cover UFOs squarely in the category of ‘career advancement’ and ratings …
NYT – TV REVIEW | ‘PETER JENNINGS REPORTING’
An ABC Documentary Lands in U.F.O. Territory By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
During a sweeps month, U.F.O. is not solely an abbreviation for unidentified flying object. When a veteran network anchor devotes two hours to the subject in a special prime-time report, U.F.O. can also be code for uncontrollable fear of obscurity.
Tom Brokaw’s retirement as the NBC anchor did not drive viewers to ABC en masse; actually, the ratings of his replacement, Brian Williams, are higher than Peter Jennings’s. Even Dan Rather’s fall from grace and imminent retirement have not significantly benefited ABC’s “World News Tonight.” And that may help explain the mystery of why Mr. Jennings, ABC’s lofty and fastidious anchorman, chose to lend his gravitas to a lengthy examination of extraterrestrial life forms.
Space aliens are not particularly timely. Newspapers are not brimming with fresh reports of mass sightings of bright lights hovering over the Mojave Desert. Steven Spielberg does not have a sci-fi sequel, “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind,” in the works. And no one would argue that this is a slow news period.
But the race for ratings is particularly intense in February. Mr. Jennings points out in his introduction that as many as 80 million Americans believe in U.F.O.’s and that 40 million say they have seen one or know someone who has. If even a fraction of those people turn to ABC tonight, “U.F.O.’s: Seeing Is Believing” could do for Mr. Jennings what more somber special reports like last June’s “Guantánamo Bay” could not.
Not that this special report is a day at the beach. Mr. Jennings applies the same solemn, impassive tone he used to examine Christianity in his special report “Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness” last April. He does not try to prove or debunk the existence of U.F.O.’s. Instead, he handles Ufology, as he refers to it, like a religion whose followers are numerous and steadfast enough to merit respectful treatment.
And that is not inappropriate. Ufology has many of the rites and rhythms of more traditional faiths, and the skeptic-turned-convert is a crucial element in any belief system. The millions of followers of Padre Pio, a 20th-century friar who was said to have had stigmata and supernatural powers and was canonized in 2002, bolster their case by pointing out that Father Maccari, a Vatican investigator sent to prove the friar a fraud, later recanted and prayed to Padre Pio on his deathbed (at least according to a Capuchin publication, “The Voice of Padre Pio”).
The documentary showcases a U.F.O. version of Father Maccari: J. Allen Hynek, an astrophysicist and a consultant for an Air Force project created in 1952 to assess U.F.O. reports. Early on, he dismissed witnesses as crackpots. He later repented and went on to found the Center for U.F.O. Studies in Illinois. He was one of the first scientists to give the study an aura of respectability. (Dr. Hynek came up with the phrase “close encounters of the third kind,” which Mr. Spielberg used for his film title.)
The history of U.F.O. sightings is interspersed with contemporary accounts by witnesses: housewives, pilots and truck drivers who do not look or sound like crackpots and who matter-of-factly describe what they saw that turned them into believers. (“It arched over the top of our car. …”) The most recent well-known incident was reported over Phoenix in 1997, when hundreds of people said they saw strange lights overhead that did not resemble an airplane or a helicopter. One man videotaped some of what he saw: a row of lights in the sky that he said were atop some kind of spaceship. The tape is not very distinct, however. Mostly, ABC uses animation to recreate what the witnesses say they saw.
The U.F.O. is a topic usually relegated to the tabloids, but Mr. Jennings gives the phenomenon his full consideration. “Seeing Is Believing” is not likely to create a new army of converts, but it may draw viewers who are already convinced and hungry for network affirmation: believing is seeing.
New York Times
Finally, we leave you with these angry words from Abductee and Researcher Whitley Strieber, via his on-line Journal Entry at UnknownCountry.com :
The Scum Rises: Peter Jennings on UFOs
The much heralded ABC special on UFOs has come and gone. Predictably, it was more of the same, a large number of lies sprinkled with a few truths. At least it wasn’t as relentlessly negative as such programs have generally been in the past. But people like Peter Jennings and his producers are cursed with the belief that they can understand—or already do understand—what they are looking at. The reality is that the UFO phenomenon is the most complex event in history, and a cursory examination of its surface by a few overworked and ill-informed television producers is not going to succeed in any way whatsoever to come to any truth about it.
They are filled with belief in their own competence, however. The result is that their efforts become an exercise in hubris. They end up making judgements based on inadequate information because they believe that what they have gathered is sufficient. But it is not sufficient, it only fulfills their expectations and serves their assumptions. That’s always where they stop, and it’s never enough.
Read all of Whitley’s Journal Entry Response