I do not have time to write the post I want to write here. But for me, as an anthropologist, one of the most fascinating topics for me that is an excellent example of the Spooky Paradigm is the relationship between these topics and government officials.
The title of the post refers to a story in The Guardian this morning, concerning declassified documents about Britain's Ministry of Defence and the UFO question.
Now, in America, we're used to seeing documents like this, typically from the 1940s and 1950s (most famously the Estimate of the Situation after Project Sign [note, this is a pdf]). But the MoD documents are from the 1990s, and the proposal for research they detail resulted in the ironically named Condign (not Condon) Report. Some excerpts from the Guardian article
The documents show that the internal lobbying effort for a UFO study began in 1993. In a briefing note from the secret UFO investigation branch of Defence Intelligence - called DI55 - an unnamed author wrote: "The national security implications are considerable. We have many reports of strange objects in the skies and we have never investigated them....
"I also believe that it is important to appreciate that what is scientific 'fact' today may not be true tomorrow ... If reports are taken at face value then devices exist that do not use conventional reaction propulsion systems, they have a very wide range of speeds and are stealthy. I suggest that we could use this technology, if it exists."
The initial request in 1993 for an MoD research project into UFOs was shelved, but in a later memo dated June 19 1995 following a surge in UFO reports, the same unnamed wing commander at DI55 wrote: "Until we conduct some analysis of the files we will not have any idea what the many reports represent. If at any stage in the future UAPs are shown to exist then there is the potential for severe embarrassment."
And in a later document he describes a briefing by DI55 on the subject. "The scientists and engineers present treated to [sic] topic seriously while non scientists (or those without a physical science background) made the usual jokes about little green men and mass hallucination!"
Just as with Project Sign forty-five years earlier, officers in the military were concerned about a potential threat, imagined potential technological gain, and faced skepticism from the hierarchical and bureaucratic society of the military.
I do think that there is more interest in UFOs, on the part of militaries, than is publicly acknowledged. On my reading list for this year is Richard Dolan's UFOs and the National Security State (I've got it, I just don't have the time yet). And we know that governments use UFOs as the subject of psychological warfare and counterintelligence operations. The most famous example is the Bennewitz Affair, outlined in Greg Bishop's Project Beta, another one on my desk and awaiting a read this year. Nick Redfern has written about another counterintelligence program, this time in the UK in the 1970s, in his On the Trail of the Saucer Spies. And just today Greg Bishop blogs about the Serpo hoax, which in addition to sounding ridiculous and suspect, involved Richard Doty of the Bennewitz Affair (at least publically supporting it, if not directly involved).
Go further back in time, and you find the CIA using UFOs to distract attention from their activities in the coup against Guatemalan President Arbenz in 1954.
But the new UK documents and the Condign study are more akin to other military and government investigations into spooky and paranormal topics. The Ararat Anomaly immediately comes to mind. Photographed by the USAF in 1949, the "Ararat Anomaly" has attracted attention as the possible ruins of the Sumerian/Hebraic/Biblical Noah's/Utnapishtim's Ark. Interest in the Anomaly has waxed and waned as individuals in the military and intelligence communities heard about the photos (while they were still classified) and if sufficiently moved by the potential archaeological/religious rammifications, pursued it further.
Alternatively, the Star Gate project and General Stubblebine are in the same vein. One of several US military and intelligence programs seeking to utilize psychic and other paranormal/consciousness powers, these projects were eventually cancelled and dismissed as not having any significant value. Stubblebine has gone on to be a figure in paranormal and related communities, as well as the 9/11Truth movement (YouTube link).
The subject here is not government conspiracies or cover-ups, but that these interests, beliefs, concerns, or however you want to call them are a significant part of American, British, and other cultures. "Respectable" histories and descriptions may ignore them or minimize them through ridicule (only ignorant pig farmers from Arkansas get abducted, of course!), but when those in positions of authority or power act on these ideas, things become somewhat uncomfortable. I've already talked about this in regards to the civilian government, in response to Gerald Ford's death. This is the non-elected equivalent. In both cases the paper trail of government makes it easier to tell this history, but I suspect one would find a similar picture if one did enough research into the private elite of business, capital, and the media.
EDIT: Well I'll be damned. A day after I post this, news appears that in 2002 the UK also conducted limited experiments in remote viewing, following the example of Project Star Gate, mentioned above.
EDIT: Irish UFO Records
EDIT: Even more British UFO governmental disclosure