Science has left the building – The Historic MUFON 2017 Symposium and How the Show Must Go On
This morning I opened my computer and immediately took a powerful two punch combination on the jaw. Someone I respect highly in the field of UFO Investigation was praising the victorious opening of the 2017 MUFON Symposium where Corey Goode and his secret career in the Space Army is the major attraction. Ticket sales and attendance are stellar; stories that are wildly sensational with no supporting evidence are the flavor of the day. Hearing this researcher praise the “historic” 2017 MUFON Symposium, I wondered what kind of Jim Jones Kool-Aid they were serving in Las Vegas. How this praise of the Corey Goode 2017 MUFON Honorarium is reconciled with the now cliché mission statement of MUFON is the subject of this article: MUFON – The scientific investigation of UFOs for the benefit of humanity. Requiescat in pace.
The punch that knocked me out of my chair and on to the floor was when I opened my e-mail. I received an announcement from Robert Powell, MUFON Director of Scientific Research – He resigned and is leaving MUFON right before this year’s MUFON Symposium began. Here is a quote from the MUFON website about some of the major work he has accomplished for MUFON and the field of Ufology:
Robert Powell joined MUFON in 2006 and has been the Director of Research at MUFON since 2007. He helped establish and develop MUFON’s Science Review Board and is its current leader. He is a Texas state section director and an active Field Investigator in the state of Texas having completed over 120 investigations and is a MUFON STAR Team member.
His background also includes 28 years of engineering management work in the semi-conductor industry and managing a state-of-the-art chemistry laboratory and managing a Research and Development group that worked on nanotechnology using atomic force microscopes, near-field optical microscopy, and other techniques. His departure signals that the last dissenting voice has left MUFON management. He has been a voice of reason and his integrity as a scientist was holding back MUFON leadership from its push to make MUFON into a million dollar enterprise.
His resignation is a statement of protest about the speaker selection of the current Symposium. After communicating with him today and in the light of the departure of Rich Hoffman who was a member of MUFON since its beginning in 1969, it is very clear that these are “historical” times for MUFON and Ufology. Powell found himself alone trying to persuade Jan Harzan and the Board not to choose the Secret Space Program as the theme of the 2017 Symposium. Rich Hoffman before he quit felt himself alone and losing the battle to help State Directors and Field Investigators.
If you believe as I do, that for many years MUFON had a proud place in the field of UFO Investigation, then the Corey Goode MUFON 2017 Symposium is historical in the same sense that history was made when the Titanic hit the iceberg on that fateful night on April 15, 1912. There will be survivors in the water and some may be rescued, but the mighty ship will sail no more. It may take a while to sink, but as a serious investigative organization, I don’t see how they will convince anyone but themselves that MUFON is reputable. As a UFO entertainment company – it may do very well thanks to unprovable claims like those of Corey Goode, Jaime Maussan, and others.
But let’s don’t confuse the issues. The 2017 MUFON Symposium was held in a beautiful venue outside of Las Vegas. There are many very dedicated people in MUFON and I know they work diligently on reported UFOs, and once a year they get to meet, completely at their own expense with no discounts for anybody. It is very difficult to attend such an event for much less than about $2,000 if you live any distance away. For many dedicated people in MUFON that cost is out of their reach. But the flow of money, energy, and resources to MUFON Headquarters is a one-way street. The monetary, business side of MUFON is the dark side.
In fairness, the economic argument is that a large national organization cannot continue unless it has an experienced corporate manager like Jan Harzan. And just like so many corporations across the world that pay high salaries and dividends to those at the top, their compensation becomes the primary driving issue behind all decision-making. Infrastructure improvement in the form of a faster, modern server for the MUFON Case Management System, some investment in the cost of major investigations, perhaps a discount incentive for State Directors who donate hundreds of hours continually – these are issues that are paid lip service, but they are never realized. Like so many corporations the original vision of their founders is lost in the necessities of the marketplace and the supreme commandment that revenue must be increased at all costs. The public is fickle and shallow. They must be continually titillated or they lose interest. This is a sad reality.
Perhaps it is not possible for a large-scale UFO investigative organization to exist any longer if it maintains rigorous research standards and investigative integrity. Pointing out how implausible Corey Goode’s Time Travel Resume is, simply isn’t any fun. The public wants whatever is sensational, not what is objectively true. Robert Powell’s departure from MUFON is very much like the departure of the last real scientist from Trump’s cabinet. Once rid of all that pesky “science stuff,” then the Hollow Earth and the Secret Space Armada will help sell tickets for many years to come. At least this way what is important will continue – the revenue stream to MUFON headquarters.
Not long after Jan Harzan became the MUFON CEO in 2013 he hired a business consulting firm. All the State Directors completed a lengthy written questionnaire about their MUFON state organizations. Six directors were interviewed at length by telephone and I was one of them. The questions were not about problems recruiting investigators, coping with the costs of renting venues for meetings, an antiquated computer system or burdensome reporting forms. Instead the questions always came back to one theme: How much revenue do you get from your MUFON organization and how much can you donate to headquarters?
Two things come to mind when I think about the Corey Goode phenomena: the first is a delightful book I read to my children by Dr. Suess titled The Big Brag. To succeed in telling a whopper you just must outdo all the other liars. The second is an anecdote from my police career. We were called to a disorder in a local nightclub at closing. We were told that a dangerously out of control Vietnam Vet was behind the bar and he was threatening to kill anyone who went back there. The employees were fearful. We asked if anyone knew his name and the name Bob Richards was given, a well-known local belligerent drunk.
We called out his name. He answered loudly from behind the bar and then began threatening to kill any of us who approached him because he claimed to be ex-Special Forces from Vietnam. One of the officers yelled out, “If you’re Bob Richards from southside, wouldn’t you have been about 12 years old when the Vietnam War happened?” There was a long silence and moments later we were leading Bob Richards away in handcuffs without resistance. The point: To be important, he needed people to believe his story. It worked as long as no one could prove that it was untrue. The story is so much more effective if you can’t prove it one way or the other. And Corey Goode has created a Big Brag that no one can challenge, more especially now that he has been honored by MUFON. The details he provides are delightfully derivative from numerous Contactee testimonies over many years. PT Barnum would love Mr. Goode.
Goode claims to have had a 20-year career with the Secret Space program and because of time travel, in our timeline he was only gone for a moment. No one can ever prove or disprove anything he claims. His only fear is the competition like Jaime Maussan and the Peruvian Plaster of Paris Alien Mummy. If you believe Goode’s claims without question, I can make you a great deal on the Space Needle in Seattle, which is a camouflaged galactic star cruiser parked on its tower for emergency deployment. Presenters like Goode will help sell Symposium tickets for years to come; their credibility will never be damaged by something annoying, like evidence.
My own experience with the MUFON Special Assignments Team (SAT) taught me the same lesson repeatedly: if your investigation does not endorse the spectacular claims of any witness whose story is of commercial interest to Jan Harzan, then your conclusions will be ignored by management. The only criteria for being given the stage in MUFON is whether or the story has enough “sizzle to sell.”
The Special Assignments Team (SAT) was asked in 2015 to investigate “part” of a very dubious UFO Crash case submitted by Paola Harris. Who ever heard of partially investigating a UFO report, especially when the key piece of evidence is a cast aluminum windmill pump part that is being presented as an artifact stolen from the interior of a crashed UFO in 1945? The SAT found critical investigative failures. She claimed the site was deliberately planted with noxious weeds that were genetically modified by the Government to deter UFO researchers from exploring the alleged crash site, and then on Harris’ own YouTube videos, we see the same group walking through the weeds wearing shorts. Apparently, they no longer needed to wear the full body isolation suits that look so “scientific” on camera. Frank Kimbler, who is a scientific researcher from Roswell, pointed out that the claims of Harris’ elderly witness were not supported by the evidence. The SAT agreed. But such a finding doesn’t sell Symposium tickets. And the result? We got to watch Harris be given special status and an award for investigative excellence at the 2016 Symposium. This is one example of many.
Scientific research and investigative integrity are still attempted by many state directors and field investigators, but those qualities are irrelevant to management decision-making. They are the loyal crew who haven’t yet realized their ship is no longer seaworthy. The departure of Robert Powell signals the end of an era when MUFON aspired to seriously investigate the UFO Mystery. Now it is all for show. Keep the lights low and the circus noisy, and the show will continue.
With Rich Hoffman and Robert Powell gone, Science, Reason and Investigative Integrity have left the building for the good of increased revenue. JZ Knight aka Ramtha with all her wealth and power is now guiding the MUFON Inner Circle; nothing stands in the way of MUFON becoming the greatest UFO Show on Earth.