Ralph Blumenthal, is a veteran NYT journalist and has written the ultimate biography of John Mack.
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His new book: The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack
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Audio Clip: [00:00:00] Getting in the truck. You put this shit on the accelerator, then when I yell go, you go Nick.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:12] That’s from the movie, The Signal, where Nick and Haley, along with another MIT student whose name I can’t remember, are on a cross country trip to kind of work on some issues with Haley and his relationship, but what they don’t realize is that the hacking, they did it MIT is following them because actually, it was part of an alien abduction government sponsored program, really alternative reality simulation kind of thing.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:00:39] How about last year?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:42] I hope not. Because as wacky as that might sound in the sci-fi movie reality or in, it might be a lot closer to the non reality we’re all in. And at the end of the day, that’s really what this amazing book by today’s guest and author Ralph Blumenthal, who’s written a biography about John Mack. Well, that’s what it’s really all about. Here’s a clip from the interview.
Audio Clip: [00:01:14] What John Mack has done, along with a bunch of other people has shifted the burden of proof. These experiences that people are having are not the way that we’d normally talk about them real, because my read of it is they are real, we just don’t know what real is anymore. What are your thoughts? Right, absolutely, you could not, I couldn’t have said it better. Now John often said, if anyone has a better explanation, I’m willing to hear it. So it’s not mental illness, it’s not a mass delusion because these people don’t get together. It’s not publicity seeking because they shy away from publicity. They don’t want to be known, they’re questioning, they wish it wasn’t true. It’s not books they read or movies they’ve seen cause kids two years old tell these same stories. So he’s eliminated all these other things that it’s not. So then he says, Okay so as far as I know, nothing has happened to these people other than what they said…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:02:11] Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris and today we welcome Ralph Blumenthal to Skeptiko. Ralph is the author of The Believer, Alien Encounters, Hard Science and The Passion of John Mack. I really love the title by the way Ralph, it captures so much to anyone who reads the book you know, there’s some kind of, you’ve done a lot with just a few words there, even with the end, The Passion of John Mack I thought was great.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:02:46] Thank you, thank you. Well a lot of work went into that title.
Alex Tsakiris:[00:02:50] You know, titles are important, I know they are , and you just got to admire someone who’s done it. And I also just admire this book so much but let me tell folks for a minute you know, Ralph is the author of many books, several books. But he’s also a very well respected journalist having written many years for the New York Times, he is the real deal and he’s done some of his best work with this amazing biography of John Mack who, if you don’t know who John Mack is, we’re going to talk a little bit about it. But a lot of this interview, we’re gonna kind of assume that you know who John Mack is. But you know before we get started one thing I want to say is, I thought the book was terrific and it had just so much information about this important part of history that, you know, go buy this book, I bought the book, even though the publisher sent it to me, buy this book, support this guy, I can’t imagine, we’re going to ask him in a minute, how much time and effort he spent in researching all the interviews he put together to do this. And then if you feel so inclined, and I did write a review, mine hasn’t come through yet, but write a review of the book. So, Ralph it’s great to have you here and again, congratulations on an important, important book because it’s such an important part of history.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:04:14] Thank you, Alex. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:04:17] So, enough with the accolades who is John Mack?
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:04:22] Speaking of accolades, John Mack was alkylated in his lifetime, as well as vilified. He was a Harvard psychiatrist, very eminent in his field, a hole through a series of circumstances that I outline in the book. I got interested in the phenomenon of alien abduction, people, ordinary people from all walks of life, including young children who remembered or had images of or thought that they remembered being abducted by alien beings taken to some kind of craft for strange bizarre suit medical experiments, including reproductive procedures…
Alex Tsakiris: [00:05:03] Put this in a time perspective and in a cultural perspective, what year is this? what else is happening around him?
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:05:10] Okay, John Mack, stumbled across this phenomenon in 1990. So you know, basically the modern era. He had been a psychiatrist since the 50s. So he’d already been eminent his field for 40 years. He had written other books before ever coming across alien abduction. He was an expert in nightmares. So no one could ever say he you know, he didn’t know what a nightmare was. He was an expert in childhood development, he had written about a girl who committed suicide, a teenager, had written about a Holocaust survivor. So he had a wide ranging interests again before he ever came across alien abduction. So you know, he was very eminent field, which is what you know, what provided I guess, the shock value to me when I happened upon his story for the book that he was the least likely guy to be investigating alien abduction.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:06:07] And then you know, the other thing is always included with John Mack, right there in the second sentence is he he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, which is really interesting and I love the way you kind of explain that in the story, because it kind of speaks to this passion and then almost evangelical kind of part of him.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:06:28] He won a Pulitzer for a psycho biography really of Lawrence of Arabia, T.E Lawrence. I mean as I say in the book, he went to the movies like everyone else in 1963, to see this long, long movie which won all kinds of every prize you could imagine, Best Picture I believe. But unlike us, when he came out, he didn’t just say, wow yeah, what a great movie. He decided he was going to investigate T.E Lawrence, and spent the next 12 years in Oxford and England and in the Middle East, really delving into his life.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:03] And then this leads to some other amazing chapters in this amazing life, he becomes this kind of peace emissary. He’s Jewish, he kind of has, it’s kind of interesting too about his background, he kind of comes from this very kind of trust fund, rich kid, East Coast, Jewish kind of society. And then next thing you know, he does this, he makes all these fantastic accomplishments and then he’s becomes kind of this peace emissary between Israel and Egypt. And he kind of has that, he kind of knows the Arab thing a little bit from writing this book. I mean it’s a again an amazing chapter in his life as well.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:07:45] Yeah, I mean, I outlined all the steps, It was a series of progressions really, that took him ultimately into alien abduction and finally into life after death. But the result of the Lawrence biography which as you say, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, he was suddenly considered an expert on the Middle East you know, that’s how things work. You write one book and suddenly you’re an expert. So there, he was called to the Middle East to mediate the Arab Israeli conflict. He had an introduction through a colleague at Harvard to Yasser Arafat. And he met with Yasser Arafat gave him a copy of his book on on T.E Lawrence, called A Prince of all disorder and so he was an expert on the Middle East. And that you know, led to other things. He traveled widely around the world. He was you know, book fellow and lectures. He also became an ardent proponent of nuclear weapons and he demonstrated against the nuclear weapons stockpile, he went to Arizona got arrested with his whole family, his wife and three sons for you know, for protesting. So I think it’s very important in the development of his book to outline all the steps he took before he became interested in alien abduction. First of all, it outlines his bona fides, that he was a serious guy and he’d achieved a lot. And he knew you know, the human mind, insofar as it’s ever able to know, the human mind. So again, he couldn’t be accused later of not knowing what he was talking about, that these people have psychological aberrations of that crazy. And I think was very important to establish that.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:09:25] I agree and to establish that, just as you just said, I mean he’s accomplished. I mean, so he gets thrown in the Middle East thing, but he immediately excels at it you know, he’s well respected by the people he meets and you know, he’s Harvard, I mean, he’s well respected at Harvard. He’s well respected within the psychological community in the psychiatry community in general, very accomplished guy and then as you describe, I mean I think it’s hard for people even to wrap their head around this topic today. We know it is. But he just goes headlong into it, this kind of passion to John Mack goes, Hey, you know, there’s, this seems to be happening and I want you to explain for a minute why he comes to believe that this might be happening because he is a little bit scared, not a little bit, he is skeptical at the beginning.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:10:18] Right, should also say Alex that he was immensely charismatic, a tall, really good looking cobalt blue eyes magnetic to men and women, which got him into a little bit of trouble.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:10:29] I mean, he is Hollywood all the way. There’s photos in the book, I mean he looks like an actor, he’s stunning, he jumps off the page. They’re like, is this guy a movie star.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:10:36] And he knew it too, I mean that’s what gave him sort of the confidence. He was, Budd Hopkins thought he had too much confidence, that he was really, that was almost a shortcoming that he didn’t think he could fail. But as you said, sure when he first heard about the phenomenon from from Budd Hopkins and I tell the story in detail in my book. He was very skeptical, he didn’t even want to meet with Budd Hopkins after he heard that Budd Hopkins was investigating alien abduction. He thought I was completely crazy. So he was skeptical in the beginning and everything in his upbringing is, he said he was born in a scientific materialistic, German Jewish household, very secular, non observant really, and very open to the world and science etc. and non superstitious. So he really was a very unlikely person to be captivated by this, as I say was captured but not by aliens. He was captured by the phenomenon. But what happened is, he was introduced to this phenomenon by Budd Hopkins and he collects a group of so called experiencers, abductees around..
Alex Tsakiris: [00:11:46] Can we pause for one second, I don’t want to do this too much, but Budd Hopkins, remind people who he is people might know, but then remind them who he is in terms of the UFO community, but then also he’s a well known artist in New York, he is kind of a guy with a certain you know, a social weight as well right?
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:12:08] Right, well one I mean, in the course of this book, I deal with a lot of interesting characters and Budd Hopkins was certainly one of them. He was an artist on Cape Cod and New York. He was a non objective artist, he’d been written up in the New York Times he had really some artistic credentials and on the way to a party one day in Cape Cod in 1964, he and the other people in the car spotted a UFO over the ocean. And they thought that was cool and they followed it for a while and I got to the party. And they told people, Hey, we saw a UFO and they all said, Oh we’ve seen UFOs Oh sure we saw you know, so he suddenly wow, you know, what is this phenomenon? So he starts to study it, Budd Hopkins and he teaches himself hypnosis. He said, I’m an artist and nobody cares what an artist does, it couldn’t suffer any loss of reputation. Budd Hopkins, research these people and wrote a book long before John Mack ever got involved called Missing Time, where he identified the phenomenon of people who remember spying a UFO and then sort of losing track and then later in hypnotic regression or even unconscious memories, recapture memories of having been taken aboard aircraft and subject as pseudo medical experiments and meeting you know, short, grey being so called the greys and all that. So Budd Hopkins was already well into this when John Mack meets him and as I said, John was very skeptical in the beginning, but then he gathered his own group around him and was absolutely enthralled and bewildered and captivated by their stories. He could not believe this is happening and any kind of recognizable reality.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:13:55] Let me interject something here Ralph, because as this story is told and is repeated over and over again, there’s kind of a couple of different ways to interpret it. I think anyone who encountered such a kind of incredible paradigm shifting experience would be evangelical. So I think sometimes when we talk about Budd Hopkins and we go, Wow, Budd Hopkins just jumped on this thing. Hell yes, he jumped on his thing. He was living in one reality, the reality that we all live in and then suddenly that reality is turned upside down and then suddenly, he starts talking to these people who were all confirming it over and over again. And then when we talk about the evangelism of John Mack, as you said, a guy who’s supremely accomplished, supremely confident and he is basically confirming, top to bottom, everything that Budd Hopkins is finding and you want to say Budd Hopkins is self taught in hypnosis. John Mack, sure shit ain’t self taught and he’s not getting the same thing and he’s not even putting these people a lot of times under deep hypnosis. He just sang relax a little bit and start telling me what you believe. So you’re not shading that one way or another I just want to make, there’s a difference between you know, just kind of reporting this matter of factly, but also kind of putting a spin on it, you know that there’s a reason that these guys were so excited…
Ralph Blumenthal: [00: 15:17] Well everybody who has come across this phenomenon is completely blown away by it, their minds are blown, almost literally. So, Budd Hopkins was and John Mack was so yes, they become evangelistic, because they want to tell the world that they discovered this phenomenon you know and not many other people were out there you know, telling these stories, Budd was one of the few David Jacobs who came along, around the same time a professor at Temple University who studied UFOs and then became a ardent advocate of you know, the whole abduction phenomenon. But other than that, there weren’t many people spreading the word and evangelist is exactly right, John Mack. I couldn’t wait to tell people about this, including a Harvard audience before he was really ready to. I mean, he had almost only heard about it before he was you know, lecturing on it to him and that’s one of the his shortcomings as I point out in the book, he was a passionate, but passionate for sure overenthusiastic perhaps. So what convinced him? Well first of all, he noticed very quickly that the people he was talking to were not insane. I mean, he was a psychiatrist and as he often said, that’s what I do if you’re not you know, evaluator or to conservator you know, when a Rembrandt is a Rembrandt and he said, I’m a psychiatrist, these people come to me, I know they’re not crazy. He also said that they were not diluted, they were not you know, reading off some playbook. So the stories were basically consistent. But different enough so that they’re not you know, told by rote. These people came from a wide variety of backgrounds. They were young and old, both genders, different ages and children as young as two, who said you know, little man take me into the sky, I fly in the sky and these kids were not reading books on UFOs. You know, they were not you know, playing back movies that they had seen. So this all convinced John also, he found that there was a very often a place outside the house where they remembered a UFO coming down where the grass was sort of tamped down or branches were broken. And sometimes they had marks on their bodies afterwards that they couldn’t explain. And in one case, it was a quadriplegic who could not have inflicted the marks on him so he’s totally paralyzed. So all these things, what sort of fragmentary evidence, and yet they convinced john that he was onto something that was happening in some kind of reality, it wasn’t just all make believe. And it wasn’t easily provable. It was somewhere in between, it was in some, you know, liminal world. But it was true enough, so that he thought that people were telling the truth.
Alex Tsakiris: [00: 18:07] So let’s talk some more about two things about Harvard and about Naivete you know, because before we even rolled tape I, one of the things I really appreciated about the book, although it kind of was a little bit hard to get over is, it’s a warts and all kind of honest telling of the account. So if you just kind of like, I was not aware of some of these things you know, you don’t come off seeing John Mack as quite the hero you might have if you didn’t know everything, but I want to know everything. So I appreciate that in the book. I particularly want to focus on the fact that he’s naive, because I think that he has a couple of really, really important elements to play in the overall story as well.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:18:55] Right. He, as I said, he couldn’t wait to tell the world about this thing he had discovered, thought he had discovered and he was naive about the reaction that there would be you know, a very negative reaction from parts of Harvard, which came back to bite him when they investigated him. But for example, he told a woman friend of his, as soon as he you know, was it started looking at their phenomenon? This is what I’m doing, I’m all excited and she said, well John you know, I know you’re excited about this, but the rest of the world you know, may not be right there with you on this, so he didn’t see that and when he gave interviews on the subject to you know, newspaper people. He was very incautious he would say, I don’t know, should I talk about astrology now? maybe I won’t, but you know, or he just spoke too much sometimes he should have said less until he knew more and he’d been warned about this. But that was his nature and you know if we’re talking about his character and warts or so this is not necessarily a character failure, but it’s an important element of the story. As I point out, his mother died when he was eight and a half months old, she died of appendicitis her penicillin had you know, already been discovered, but wasn’t really in use. And so suddenly, eight and a half months old he loses his mother and he never gets over it, he spends his whole life searching for this absent figure in his life. And I and other people I quote in the book, make the point that this was part of his search for what’s missing in the cosmos, some intelligent life or some missing entity or God or whatever you want to call it, intelligent life in the cosmos. So that’s also part of his character.
Alex Tsakiris:[ 00:20:50] Maybe I mean, that’s a little psychoanalytic and you can kind of go, take it or leave it if you want. But what is true is he kind of uses it for an excuse for a lot of bad behavior, in his marriage and in his relationships that most of us just don’t think is very honest, or what we’d expect from a guy of the standard or caliber that we say he just looks, he has frailties, he has human flaws, the way that the rest of us do. But I really only get off on that on the personal stuff, because who cares? The part that really interests me about the naive part is that I think it plays so well with so many of the things I’ve investigated here is, we kind of have a sense that a guy who is a Harvard psychiatrist, a world renowned psychiatrist, Pulitzer Prize winner, I think a lot of us are a little bit surprised to hear that he’s naive about kind of how the world works. And where that really comes through, is in the Harvard trial, I mean this guy, by the grace of God, well really not by the grace of God, by the grace of a couple of good attorneys that kind of turn up the heat, escapes what would probably be a career ending what they intended to be a career ending pride event, walk us through that I think it’s a real important part of this history.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:22:12] Well let me also say that, you know, his naivete was also a strength. I mean, it was a freshness that he brought to the subject and everything he did and that was not just a negative, but it was a positive too, because people sense that in him, he was brimming with enthusiasm with confidence and he was it was a likeable person. So Harvard was not happy with what I was hearing about his appearance on Oprah to promote a book he had written, he had tried to get a peer review peer reviewed article several times, I was rebuffed.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:22:43] Let me set this up a little bit, just a little introduce, correct me if I’m wrong. John Mack writes a book abduction, human encounters with aliens as you mentioned, he’s already been on the circuit at Harvard in terms of making presentations doing this stuff, but now he really goes public. Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, he’s out there in this way that you’re talking about just open like, Hey, this is what happens. Aliens are abducting people and having sex with them in order to hybrid humans, you know that, that’s the news flash here from Harvard, you know. So Harvard doesn’t like that.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:23:16] So Harvard doesn’t like that. Now I make the point in the book Alex, that Harvard is no stranger to anomalous research. I mean, William James you know, was talking about seances at Harvard 100 years ago and they were okay with that they don’t disown William James. But there was something about John Mack that rubbed them the wrong way and I think it was as you mentioned, his appearance on Oprah. He was all over the media and he was a kind of a open guy about it and maybe that disturb them, apart from the subject of alien abduction being associated with Harvard and a Harvard professor. So anyway, they convene the secret inquiry, which I call and they call it at one point, and they mentioned as an inquisition, now they said they had this is not an inquisition. But he’s a Harvard psychiatrist, he says, well if it’s not an inquisition, why do they use that word to describe what it isn’t?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:24:09 ] So it’s not about the money, this is not about the money, right?
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:24:12] Right. So it was an inquisition, it inquired into his finances and inquired into his mental processes that he believe in UFOs I mean, all these things that really should not be part of an inquiry of a professor you know, enjoying academic freedom at a major university. So they called in his experiencers, they call them his colleagues. A lot of people, they call them colleagues who were not particularly friendly to him because he took some of their patients and treated them when they’re caught, you know, fellow psychiatrists wouldn’t deal with the abductees. So there were some people who had an axe to grind and the committee spoke to them. And the committee was also a very weighted towards scientific materialists, if you can’t touch it, measure it, taste it and ain’t there, it doesn’t exist. And John Mack was trying to tell them that there are things that we don’t understand in the universe and even physics is beginning to grapple with these now, spooky action at a distance and all the things that are supposedly impossible. So he was trying to explain to them there are things we don’t understand. But it doesn’t mean that they’re not real. And they said, well what’s your proof? And he said, I don’t really have any proof because this phenomenon doesn’t lend itself to prove as we usually understand it. So they had this standoff but as you said, John Mack had the benefit of two outstanding lawyers. One was Danny Sheehan, a Jesuit lawyer who had investigated the you know, the Iran Contra on scandal of the Reagan administration, the Karen Silkwood case,he represented the family and that famous you know, plutonium poisoning case. And the other was Eric macleish, who had just exposed the priest abuse scandal in Boston.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:11:17] You know I was hesitant, I was hesitant even going there, but you brought it up December 18 2017. The day that will live in infamy. You guys broke that story in the New York Times. But this is the one I’ve gone back and forth with Leslie Kane on. I mean, to me, political psyop from the beginning. That’s how it plays, that’s how it plays out over time. Does it mean that it’s real? Does it mean that you guys didn’t report on it in the best possible way that you could, but this thing has such a political feel to it. It’s one side of the political spectrum talking as if there isn’t another side? You know, at that time Donald Trump was the president of the United States. He is nowhere to be found in that story and there is no, anyone in the administration is nowhere to be found, I think that’s very curious. I don’t know what you want to make of that but then the way they’ve spun that, I mean the whole thing of Lou Elizondo coming out and saying, Well it wasn’t really classified. Well, if this isn’t frickin classified, well why do we have a system of classified and top secret? So again, it just has this spin and these guys have lied about this shit for 60 years and now they’re going to roll it out and they’re going to roll it out in the New York Times, which has been especially hostile to this whole topic. And then the way that it’s played out on the History Channel with Lou Elizondo and the rest of those guys, it’s all Pentagon, Pentagon, Pentagon, this is the the great threat. This is the New World Order threat you know, we all have to join together as a family, you know, Verner von Braun you know, this is the last thing they’re gonna use kind of thing. I’m not saying that is true ,I’m just saying, you cannot go there, go to this topic and not start pulling apart what the agenda is here, because it doesn’t look like it’s what’s being presented on the surface to me, what are your thoughts on all that?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:24:10] the money. This is not about
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:24:12] the money. Right? Um, so, uh, it was an inquisition. It inquired into his finances and, and quiet into his mental processes that he believe in UFO’s. I mean, all of these things that really should not be part of an inquiry of a professor, uh, and you know, enjoying academic freedom at an ma at a major university.
Uh, so they, uh, called in his experiencers. They called in his colleagues. Uh, a lot of people, they called in colleagues who were not particularly friendly to him because, uh, he took some of their patients and treated them when the co when, you know, fellow psychiatrists wouldn’t deal with the abductees. So there was some people who had an ax to grind and, um, the committee.
I spoke to them. And the committee was also a very weighted towards scientific materialist. If you can’t touch it, you know, measure it, taste it. And ain’t, it ain’t there. It doesn’t exist. And John Mack was trying to tell them that there are things that we don’t understand in the universe. And even physics is beginning to grapple with these now, um, spooky action at a distance and all the things that are supposedly impossible.
Uh, so who’s trying to explain to them that things we don’t understand, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not real. And they said, well, what’s your proof. And he said, I don’t really have any proof because this phenomenon doesn’t lend itself to, to prove as we usually understand it. So they had this, uh, standoff, but as you said, John Mack had the benefit of two outstanding lawyers.
One was Danny Sheehan. A Jesuit lawyer who had, um, uh, investigated, uh, you know, the, uh, uh, I ran Contra on scandal of the Reagan administration. We, Karen Silkwood, Casey represented the family and that famous, you know, plutonium poisoning case. Um, and the other was Eric MacLeish who, uh, had just, uh, uh, exposed the priest abuse scandal in Boston.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:26:06] . I think it was interesting in the book and it’s interesting here, and I’m not at all against it. When you say Danny Sheehan, then you say Jesuit, a lawyer, which, you know, like lot of people aren’t cluing into what you’re saying there, Jesuit Catholic versus Eric MacLeish, exposing the pedal Pope kind of whole thing as that’s thing.
It’s very, very interesting that these two guys do it. And there’s also a dynamic here that. I heard your excellent interview with, um, Whitley Strieber, you know, and I’ve spoken with Whitley a couple of times on this, and there’s just a slightly different flavor here that I wanted to ask you about because both Whitley.
And if you watch like a, the presentations that Danny has done, like on YouTube on this, it doesn’t conflict at all. With what you’re saying, it just puts a different light on it. The, what they paint is a guy being John Mack, who’s completely out of his league, completely lost in the weeds, walks into this thing, basically takes the attorney that the Harvard board gives him.
So, Oh, you need representation. Here’s the attorney you should use. And this guy’s just setting them up for failure. And Danny says I got in there and I was like to heck with that stuff. No. Well, we are going after these guys and we’re going to take them on, but until then, John Mac, it’s not his doing, he kind of goes along and he’s smart enough to get a good attorney and go along, but he’s not smart enough.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:27:40] He thought it was just going to be a conversation among collegial, you know, fellow faculty members at Harvard. So he goes in first without a lawyer. And then his nephew, who is a doctor at Harvard medical school said, what are you crazy? Are you, you know, trying to channel Lawrence of Arabia, be a mater like him, you need representation.
So he gets representation, but he gets a lawyer who worked for Harvard. Um, and that was, that didn’t work out so well because the lawyer that lawyer’s first advice was cooperate with the committee. See what they want and cooperate with them. And then when that didn’t work out and he gets down, is she, and then he, shouldn’t just, what are you crazy?
This guy hit, you, gave you a bad advice and, um, And you need a firebrand. Now Danny tells a story, of course, centering it on Danny. Uh, and, uh, you know, so that’s an interesting dynamic. He’s a very charismatic guy and, and he was very gung ho and I read his legal memos on the case and they are funny. I mean, they, um, are in capital letters, you know,
Alex Tsakiris: [00:28:44] did they did go after him.
And the evidence suggests that he scared the shit out of Harvard in that what’s, that’s what really changed the thing.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:28:51] Well, yes, both of them did Eric too, but, but Danny was particularly combative and, uh, you know, something you said about the Catholic church and, uh, really resonated with me because remember this, , the Vatican is pretty pro UFO.
I mean, they are, well, they have, basically, I would say they’ve always been interested in, you know, strange things in the heavens and Marian apparitions. And if you, you know, if you’re trying to tell people that there was a miracle, uh, you know, a Virgin birth with Jesus, then you can’t start saying, well, these other miracles don’t count.
Or these other paranormal things don’t count. I mean, that’s my take on it. And John met with, , the Vatican, cosmologists cosmic. Cosmologists not a cosmetologist, , and it was very interesting.
He took that very seriously. So, um, but you’re right to, to, to, to highlight that aspect of, it was very interesting and, and Danny Sheehan, by the way, um, as a really brand lawyer with Jesuit training. So he had even more of you prosecutorial, uh, zest, uh, knew something about UFO’s. He was interested in them from the beginning.
So that was a good matchup, you know,
Alex Tsakiris: [00:29:59] one other thing to just touch on, and I don’t know if you got there. Okay. But the one thing that kept playing in the back of my mind is, Oh, Harvard, you know, we have to keep to these standards. I mean, what about the whole MK ultra stuff that’s going on at Harvard?
Right? so, you know, there’s Henry Murray, who is right-hand man of Sydney Gottlieb and his OSS, CIA becomes CIA and he’s directly linked all this stuff.
He’s directly linked to anyone who looks to the Ted Kaczynski stuff. That’s not just conspiratorial banter. That’s just true. Ted Kaczynski was in his class was part of a program. And so I don’t know if this Harvard board was aware of some of Harvard’s darker connections, but it seemed kind of strange to me, especially when you look into MK ultra.
And again, I don’t know if this is your, this is your bag or not, but I heard it. I’ve heard it on some pretty good authority that one of the aspects of MK ultra was. Hey, we might know something about the mental phenomenon associated with ITI, and therefore let’s start looking at the mental aspect of this more broadly, because had a lot of tentacles and was looking at a lot of different directions and ITI might’ve been one of them.
So do you think there was any awareness there of,
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:31:24] I don’t think Harvard was trying to cover that up, but I do get into MK ultra a little bit in the book because the woman who, um, connected Mac to, but Hopkins, it was a psychotherapist who had come across an abduction case in her. Um, you know, medical career and, you know, be became aware where the whole phenomenon of, of, you know, alien beings appearing to people.
And she sort of told, uh, and she knew about Hopkins and she told John to see, but, but this woman whose name was bland Chabot, Steve, who’s not much information available about her. She’s died since, but, uh, she identified herself as an MK ultra victim and, um, horrendous stories. And I looked into MK ultra for the book and it was all true.
I mean the church committee investigated, this was a dastardly plot by the CIA, um, to, uh, you know, administer mind altering drugs, to ordinary citizens, to see how they react. And there was a terrible scandal when it came out, people died, people committed suicide that had driven insane. And, um, and then all the records were lost.
Uh, quote lost. So it reads like a con you know, a Q and non conspiratorial, well, you know, screed, but it, this was true and it was . And, um, so I know Cornell was involved. I’m not sure about Harvard, but a lot of, uh, you know, top institutions, um, uh, allowed their facilities to be used by, you know, uh, MK ultra the program and the CIA.
So, um, uh, but the one thing that the committee said that was that John Mack picked up on that was interesting. The committee said, we want to see if you’ve been adhering to a proper scientific procedure. And he said, what the hell is prophecy? I thought science, you know, supposed to break, you know, boundaries of procedure, not, you know, adhere to certain, I’m sure you have to have scientific, you know, science protocols, but there’s no boundaries to what you can look into and what you can’t look into in science.
Uh, so, uh, that was something that the committee thought that this was somehow inappropriate for Harvard and John Mack to be looking into this alien abduction.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:33:41] You know, Ralph one, one of the things that struck me right from the beginning of your book is I got the sense that from this kind of, uh, academia standpoint, that.
How much times have changed because despite everything we’re saying about the kind of deep dark secrets there, I got the sense that these guys, Harvard guys were sensitive to academic freedom, and that was really something that they did not want to be perceived as standing in the way of, and it really did carry weight.
I don’t think the environment is quite the same today. I think it’s just, people are squashed a lot more than they were. And I wonder if you have any opinion on, well, this would play today.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:34:23] Interesting. You know, we are in what they call, cancel culture now. And, um, It’s true that, um, there’s a lot less tolerance given the ubiquity of social media to any mistakes or missteps and people are quashed.
You know, they step outside the line, whether it’s me too, or, you know, anything, any other incident made in their lives that now appears as controversial, um, uh, comes back to haunt them. So I think you’re right, that if this had come up today, that probably would have been, uh, less time. John Mack would have been swamped with complaints.
And I mean, uh, uh, on the other hand, I think society is more open now to the paranormal. Um, the stories we did in the news. How about the Navy? Videos of, of UFO’s, which the Pentagon now acknowledges as authentic have woken people up to the fact that, you know, there is this phenomenon out there. That is, that is a genuine, I mean, these things exist. We don’t know what they are. We don’t know where they come from. Um, but, but they’re not, you know, um, mental delusions, they’re not, you know, spiritual constructs.
They are physically real, whatever they are. They’re real. Um, so in that sense, society has moved forward.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:35:39] Well, let’s push that a little bit further because it’s always tricky. You know, these things are real, like, even that simple point that in the book I have to say, you know, anyone again, please get this book.
And here’s another reason to get it at the beginning as, I don’t know, 50, 60 pages of just. A summary of the whole UFO thing of, from beginning to end and do very factual accounts of this account, this accountant, and that led to this account. And they’re chronologically laid out as is the abduction phenomenon.
So I walk away from that saying, okay, this guy, Ralph Blumenthal is just telling it like, it is about the reality of this, but by the time you get to the end of the book, there’s also this kind of same shift that John Mack does and that so many people do of like, well, how real is it in terms of this consensus, reality materialists, uh, go out and drive my car kind of thing.
Uh, D D do you feel any need to kind of play in that middle space there? Or is this just real in the way that we think that it’s real?
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:36:54] No, it’s not real. Uh, I mean, but Hopkins and David Jacobs together thought it was real. Um, and that it was happening in, in everyday reality. People were really getting abducted by really evil beings for really, uh, you know, traumatic and horrendous .Experiments.
And John who, John Mack, who, who started off basically agreeing with that, uh, came to think that it’s gotta be happening in some more, um, marginal realm because it’s not every day. We don’t see it. And there’s no proof of it. You know, we never capture it. It’s never a cabinet abductions have never been captured on film.
Um, unlike UFO’s, uh, let’s say whose images have been recorded on radar and, and film, but let’s just talk about alien abduction. No, there’s no pictures of an alien or no pictures of an alien that have been authenticated. So John more and more thought that this has got to be happening in some other reality.
And it penetrates our reality was the way he put it from time to time in certain ways. But, um, it is not everyday reality and more and more he thought it was, um, linked to other, uh, paranormal phenomenon. It’s not just alien abduction that standing alone, but there’s all kinds of other things like fairy tale, you know, Irish fairytales and, um, crop circles and, uh, cattle mutilations and Bigfoot and Lochness monster and, um, old hag syndrome where, you know, evil creature climbs on your chest at night and tries to strangle you.
And the guy who wrote the book about that, the psychologist has happened to him. So, um, so there’s a whole range of paranormal experiences that, uh, he realized are. Equally mysterious and maybe related in some way to another dimension that, that, uh, impacts our own somehow. And in the end, of course, it was most interested in, in life after death and what happens, uh, after bodily death.
Um, cause that’s the ultimate mystery.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:01] You know, the, the only thing that always gets me about that perspective is what I call backdoor materialism. You know, it says, okay, I understand there’s this larger conscious reality that extends into these other realms of consciousness that you just talked about.
But now let me now switch to my limited by all accounts of those other realms, my limited understanding of this time and space reality. And let me talk about all those others. It seems kind of, uh, handicapped in kind of a way that doesn’t really make sense. I mean, it seems to me that if we’re going to make sense of this stuff from this.
Time and space continuum than the original path that he was down is the path that we have to follow it. You know, I had an interesting series of interviews on this topic, like with David Jacobs, I had him on the show a couple of times, and also kind of interleave those interviews with a woman named Mary Rodwell.
Have you ever heard of Mary
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:39:59] Rodwell? Well, yeah.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:40:01] Nice, nice, very nice person. So they’re kind of going back and forth on this issue that you explore in the book of the goody tea versus batty tea, you know, evenly tea versus spiritual, loving here to bring transformation kind of ITI and David Jacobs, who is.
It’s important to know. I think if I can interject, I think David Jacobs and, uh, Budd Hopkins have to be understood from an atheistic perspective. That’s what they see when you talk spirituality, those guys, it just completely goes you’re you’re nuts. I mean, there was not any of it anyway, so why even talk about it and that’s how they see it, but they also have some pretty solid evidence that they bring back that that says that.
I mean, like Jacob’s some people criticize him that he’s not a professional hypnotist. Well, I got to tell you he’s a pretty smart guy. I think he trained well enough and it sounds like his protocol was pretty good. He tried to intentionally mislead people, you know, you would say, okay, now go over to the corner of the car craft and they’d go, okay, wait a minute.
There is no corner of the craft. And he goes, okay. Yeah, that is confirming what you said. Anyways, I don’t want to go on too long in this story, but David Jacobs, I’m interviewing Mary ride boat. They’re going back and forth one saying evil batty T sends people back, rapes people which comes through again and again.
I don’t know how, how we understand that inside of our culture is anything other than the ultimate intrusion of our personal space. And that is reported. And then go to Mary Rodwell says, look deeper. You know, there’s this spiritual thing, but here’s the point David Jacobs goes. The one thing I’m sure is this is a project.
This is a program. This is like, as we would understand it in our world, somebody is trying to get some shit done. Right? So then I go back and say, Mary, what about that? And she does a big, long pause and she goes, Yeah, well, it is definitely a program. They are doing some kind of genetic manipulation. I don’t know what that means.
They are doing something. There is an intentionality to it. There is a directive to it. And so I guess I’d throw that out there. And what do you think about that? Cause I think when we jumped into that other space of other re you know, other dimension and stuff, you know,
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:42:22] Well, listen as Jack filet and other experts have said, if that’s the case, they are very bad scientists because they have to keep doing the same experiment over and over again.
They want to know how reproduction human reproduction works. So they take, they adopt a man and a woman, sometimes people who know each other and make them have sex in front of the, the alien beings so they can understand reproduction. So as one anthropologist told me for my book, you don’t need to do that.
You just get a hygiene manual reproduction. It’s not that hard to figure out to make people go through that again and again and again, and to, you know, examine the bodies again and again, through all these medical procedures that, you know, the, the experiences detail at great length to the actually describing the instruments used.
Uh, so why do they have to do it again and again? So when they asked John.
So, so when they asked John Mack that same question, he said, you know what, I’m not a good alien psychologist. He said, I don’t, I can’t explain why they do what they do. Um, and, uh, but it’s clear that they do the same things over and over again. Uh, so, um, and, and Jacobs and, uh, Hopkins, uh, you know, found that in their research that, uh, it was very highly traumatic.
It was akin to rape. They, they ripped out the pregnancies of women who are impregnated on the ships and they took their, you know, DNA and their eggs and the sperm from men and they made hybrid babies. And then they would rehab duct the people later and say, these are your children. And, you know, this was happening in absolute reality.
And, you know, well, um, John, more and more said, uh, Yeah. I don’t know. It doesn’t, you know, I can’t prove it. It does, it, it, it may be happening, but not in any recognizable, you know, dimension that you know, that I can point to. So, um, and then he started, as you say, he started to drift off into other things and he said, well, let me look into crop circles and let me look into Viking runes.
Are you any, you know, the stones that tell the fortune of the future? Um, um, so. You know, it’s, it’s an endless mystery. What can I say?
Alex Tsakiris: [00:44:39] Yes, Dan, I always kind of remind people, you know, I talked to shock the light too, and I love and appreciate, you know, all the things that you’re saying that he brings, but he also carries around that slag from the alien ships in his pocket too.
And when he goes into analyze it with the spec, uh, you know, the best microscopes we have, we have D we don’t know how to make that yet here on earth. So there, there is this crossover, as you’re alluding to between these different dimensions, if we want to call it that or these different realities and our reality, I’m just always a little bit uncomfortable when we.
Speak from the primacy of our reality as say, well, it’s obviously not true because they’re not getting raped. I dunno. Whitley Strieber has said from the beginning he was, he was raped. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I still got the implant and yeah. And there’s plenty of people have the implant and some of them turn out to be not implants and solve them, turn out to be that same kind of material looking stuff that Jack filet walks around with him likes to collect and says, we don’t know how to make this stuff here.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:45:43] Well, Jack filet said, uh, one of the quotes I, especially like from him, uh, he said, I I’m probably the only you, you follow just who doesn’t know what they are, uh, because everyone else is very ready to, you know, uh, Alpine on exactly what these, uh, craft are or aren’t. Um, and he goes back and forth some days he’s he understands that some days he doesn’t, some days he says it’s real, some days he says it isn’t.
So, uh, he exemplifies the, the ambiguity of the field. Um, you know, I have a quote in my book from Charles Ford, the great anomalist who said, uh, the whole thing is like looking for a needle, no one ever lost in a haystack that never was, uh, uh, it’s it’s it’s bottomless. I mean, uh, and that’s what, you know, obviously it, it captivated John Mack because he wasn’t finding any answers and he just kept getting drawn more and more into the mystery
Alex Tsakiris: [00:46:40] Beautifully put Ralph, let’s talk a little bit about the media. You’ve spent a good deal of your life. Hey, belly of the beast kind of media guy, uh, you know, New York times. Tell us about how Mac was treated by the media. Both good and bad.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:46:58] Um, yeah. Well it’s good in bed is right. Um, certainly he was a darling of the media because he, uh, he was a subject of countless stories in psychology today and the New York times time magazine, uh, uh, on all the networks, as I said, Oprah Winfrey, a lot of the talk shows he went on with his experiencers, uh, often to his later, uh, chagrin and disappointment.
Cause he said we got sandbag. Cause he, you know, again, this now you’ve take you, you don’t go on a TV, uh, you know, talk show, reality show and think you’re gonna.
And things are going to be well-treated, you know, because they are looking for blood, um, first story, right. Looking for sensation. Um, so, uh, so in many ways he was treated badly with great, uh, skepticism. He said the times never wrote me up in, in, in a way that wasn’t snide was his, his take on it. Um, on the other hand, he was constantly being written up and not all of it was negative.
Um, uh, he was a darling of the media in many cases because he brought his Harvard, you know, bonafide his with him and, you know, he was such a exalted figure. So whatever he said, you know, made news. Plus, as I said, he was so good looking and so charismatic that he presented a wonderful picture of the Harvard psychiatrist, you know, waiting into this, uh, Very difficult area.
Um, so the media treated them both ways. Um, most famously in my book, I talk about, uh, how he was hoaxed by a woman who pretended or said she pretended to be an experiencer, told John Mac a fantastic story about being a border spaceship with Nikita Khrushchev. If it
Alex Tsakiris: [00:48:46] would Ralph go into that in a bit of detail, cause it’s time magazine.
It is sensational in a lot of ways. And it also has, you know, a little bit of this kinda project Mockingbird kind of hit piece, the guy aviation weekly, or remember you have at least three ever talking about that. It sounds very fishy on that other level as well beyond. Kind of just, uh, the, the snarkiness of the New York times.
It’s it’s it has, if you want to spin it that way, you could as well. So set to kind of tee that up. What time, what year was it written? And then you actually know the guy who writes it. So you have to have an extra inside, uh, insight, talk about
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:49:29] synchronicity. We can talk about that, Alex, because so many ways in the course of this book, my path crossed with John Mack.
He was already dead, but, um, w with his family and with other figures. So it turns out that the guy who wrote this hit piece for time magazine, I, John Mack was a guy. I knew a fellow correspondent in Vietnam when I was in for the times, it was at the time magazine. Um, Jim Willwerth and we were colleagues.
We were friends. So then he crops up writing the story for time magazine. And this was the story. Um, there was a woman, uh, experienced, uh, who came forward to John Mack about 1994. I believe around that time. Maybe 93. Um, and he was meeting with a lot of people with strange stories. I mean, that’s what he wanted.
He was collecting as many of these, uh, uh, experience of stories of alien abductees as he could. And he would interview them at length and he put 13 of them at great detail in this book. Anyway, this woman came to him and said she was an abductee and she remember being on a spaceship during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
Um, when we, you know, the us detected missile, Russian missile installations on Cuba, and it was the closest world war three of a came that we, you know, wiping out the whole world. Um, anyway, during the Cuban missile crisis, she remembered being on a spaceship or hit the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, and John F.
Kennedy and Khrushchev sat in her lap and was crying and, and, and, and Mack, again, sort of naively was lapping this up. I mean, this was an amazing story, but it wasn’t that much crazier than the other stuff he was. Right. So, you know, it was not that outlandish. I mean, it was crazy now it sounds, but anyway, so.
She tells him this story and other stories. And, um, um, she becomes part of his experience at group and then time magazine, uh, finds out about it, interviews her and she tells time a very different story that she made up the whole experience of things. She was trying to expose John Mack as a charlatan.
And she was not really an experience there. And she hooks them with a story about Kennedy and Khrushchev on the space spaceship. And he, you know, Aiden up and time magazine used that as a symbol of why John Mack was, uh, you know, uh, grossly naive and, uh, you know, should not be a Harvard professor and questioned his credentials and all that.
Anyway, it was a very, very.
Oh. Um, so John Mack later determined when this, when this came out in time magazine and very damaging to him as that he was hoax. Um, he countered that he thought she was actually an experiencer and he provided the reasons from interviews with her and interviews she gave before she contacted John rack with Whitley Strieber and others that indicated to him rather convincingly.
I thought in the book, um, that she really wasn’t experiencer and that she had some ax to grind against Mac and her husband worked for U S um, aviation weekly.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:52:44] , why did you and Whitley think that that connection with a, without getting into too much detail? Cause we’ll, we’ll never know the answer, but there is this ongoing, uh, misinformation, disinformation.
Campaign by the United States government, which has just well-established as part of your whole rollout in December, 2017 with Leslie. I mean, they’ve denied this shit up and down for 60 years, just vigorously and vigorously fought anyone who said it. And one of their mouthpieces was this aviation weekly, where they would kind of disseminate this.
This can’t possibly be true. You would be a fool to believe any of this stuff. Just if you would.
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:53:26] Right. I mean, I, I never, I didn’t look that deeply into it. His, uh, his, his role in this affair, her husband’s, uh, uh, role in this, but it’s true that aviation weekly was part of the defense press and it took a lot of leaks from the federal government and was quite negative on the reality of UFO’s.
Um, but, um, there was a very telling incident. I, I mentioned in my book where, uh, sometime after this woman that Donna Bassett rice, hoaxed John Mack, um, Or it didn’t hoax him, but whatever, after this affair came out, we had one of John max, uh, confidant approached her at a meeting and said, why did you do this?
You know, why are you so bent on destroying John Mac? And she said, according to this friend who wrote a memo on it, uh, Donna said, because that’s how Hitler started. Which made absolutely no sense to anybody. I mean, you comparing John Mack to Hitler. I mean, maybe as a cult leader was her point or whatever, but it was so outlandish.
Um, and, uh, there were other aspects of this case that, you know, got really tangled and entangled, but, uh, the basic thing is that it was a low point in John Mack’s career. It hurt him terribly because it fed into misconceptions of people that he was, , Pursuing a fraudulent agenda, which he was not, it was, there was ambiguity to it, but it was, it was always straightforward and honest.
He never lied about that. He never, uh, you know, hid anything he found in order to make it come out differently. As a matter of fact, if you read his, his first book, which was a abduction human encounters with aliens, which came out in 1994, it’s 13, incredibly detailed case histories. Uh, he doesn’t use the actual names of the people, but some of them came out later under their real identity.
So I knew who some of them were for sure. But, uh, you read that book and you are amazed at the thoroughness of his research and how he went into these cases and look for alternate explanations and dissected the cases. I mean, extraordinary work. Um, and, uh, and the book was a best seller. Uh, I mean, it deserved it, it was, it w it was rightly sensational.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:48] Ralph, how do things,
uh, And for John, I mean, both, you know, at the very end of his life, but also the whole second book is so interesting from, uh, from so many angles from he changes his position, but it’s also interesting kind of as, uh, as you explore from a kind of social media that we’re all familiar with, it’s like he’s old news.
He comes out with what he thinks is going to be the bombshell second book. And everyone’s like, Oh, John Mack, you know, forget him. We’re onto the next thing. Yeah, I’m also, so maybe just that, well, how’s
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:56:22] that? Yeah, it’s going to say it. So, uh, after, um, uh, when came out his first book, which was the best seller, uh, people would critics picked it apart, um, and said, Oh, he should have related it more to, um, you know, uh, ancient animals showing, you know, mentioning UFO’s and other cultures and Irish ferry story.
He should have put it in a much more of a context. It was too credulous. You know, they had everybody had, uh, a reason to, to, uh, you know, pick it apart. Although many critics really liked the book. I mean, it got very good reviews and negative reviews together, but they pointed out certain shortcomings in the book that John Mack did not put it in enough of a context.
So he, when he wrote a second book called passport to the cosmos, five years later, he took steps to address those. Criticisms. He very deliberately put the story into more context. He softened some of his certainties that he put in the first book about abduction being real happening in this reality. Uh, it could be in a more liminal reality, et cetera.
And, um, he said, boy, this book is really going to do it the second book. So he put that out and big silence, big yawn, uh, maybe history had passed him by, um, maybe, you know, as you said that the media had.
The media had moved Don. Uh, so, you know, he wasn’t the same big news. He was five years earlier for whatever reason it didn’t. And he was disappointed. He thought this was the book that would establish him. Now it’s a better book than the first book. It has the nuances. I didn’t do the first time around. Uh, now actually the second book is what connected me to John Mac because I came across that when I was a correspondent in Texas, uh, for the New York times.
And I found this book used paperback somewhere, and I said, wow, you know, Harvard psychiatrist, who’s writing about alien beings. And, uh, I said, I got interviewed this guy now. I was naive. Because he was already famous. He’d been on Oprah. He’d been, you know, bestseller with his first book. I had written up in the New York times.
I didn’t know, I didn’t even know his name. so I said, I’m gonna give him a call. Maybe I can interview him. Um, and then I picked up the paper one day and I saw I’d been run over in London, um, by a drunk driver. He was dead. Um, and it was so weird.
Alex Tsakiris: [00:58:51] , talk a little bit about. That last year or so of his life, you explore it.
Beautiful. And the book, I just don’t know how you put all this together. Cause it’s really feels like you were right there, which is a great feeling for someone who’s reading the book, but he’s interested in crop circles. He goes to the UK, he’s kind of has this relationship thing going on in his personal life, but he’s moved on, I guess is one of the things I said, he’s not somebody who’s sitting there singing it at home, kind of waiting for the phone to ring.
That’s not the guy he is, and that’s not who he is in this point. And then also any rumors that, you know, you don’t explicitly say this, but any rumors that there was any foul play, just look like they just don’t have any merit to me. But talk about that
Ralph Blumenthal: [00:59:35] last year. Uh, okay. So the last year was life. He was really exploring, uh, other aspects of the paranormal.
Uh, he had branched out, he realized I’m over-simplifying now, but basically he realized that his focus on alien abduction was too, uh, too narrow. And that there were whole, there was a whole other world of anomalous experience that may be tied into it that he had to look into. So, um, he was reading books about, you know, the flight of nine, 11, uh, four 11, I think.
Um, was it four 11, uh, about a mysterious flight that crashed and that. People came back the dead later reappeared and he read books about the so-called conspiracy behind nine 11. And he wrote, he got interested in a rock called a mole mole device, which might’ve been on the Holy grail that has magic, magical properties that allows the rock to migrate.
So he heard, so he was interested in all these things and crop circles. So he went to London, I went to England to a place where the crop circles are very prevalent and he laid down on the field and he soaked up the energy and he said, there’s no way this could be manmade. You know, this has to be, you know, supernatural.
So he really widened his perspective and. Anyway to the point where, um, he was really, uh, got interested in, in, uh, life after death and survival of consciousness. What happens after we die? Doesn’t does bodily death mean the complete end of the mind or the it’s the end of the brain, but does the mind so-called continue and does it connect with other parts of the cosmos and all these questions sort of haunted him and, and like Lawrence, uh, his idol, um, he thought he was, he was getting tired of life.
I mean, uh, associates noticed that he was weary as he, as, as John Mac wrote about Lawrence and it applied to him as well. Uh, his death was an accident, but it wasn’t entirely accidental. So, you know, he, he was, he was getting weary. He was interested in what would happen to him after he died. He told friends, maybe I can do better work from the other side, uh, things like that.
So, um, Um, so he was, he was ready for another experience you could say. Uh, I’m not saying he committed suicide when he stepped out of that, you know, underground station in London and looked the wrong way. And that would be a mistake. Um, but he was tired enough and was in cautious enough to the look though the wrong way and got mowed down now immediately at the time, this was in, um, 2004 just before his 75th birthday.
Um, and just before I picked up his book where I learned about him, but, um, um, Uh, there were rumors at the time he was, uh, rundown that it was an assassination that he was so prominent. He was such a thorn in the side of Harvard. And, uh, you know, that there were a lot of people who wanted him dead, things like that.
But I got the police reports. Uh, I had access to all his records, uh, all the official records, um, uh, in his entire archive, his, his journals that he kept and all the information, you know, surrounding his life that I had complete access to thanks to his. Um,
so, uh, I am satisfied a hundred percent that it was an accident. Uh, the guy had too much to drink. We know who he was, he’s in the police reports, um, et cetera. Now, at the end of the book, I talk about him appearing. To, uh, friends and associates, uh, after he died. And I say, I’m not investing this with the same, uh, credibility that I, I give to the rest of the book.
Uh, but there are stories that people tell and I think they should be part of the record because, uh, it’s, it’s just what people said happened after he died. And there were a number of stories of him appearing, um, with various messages, uh, that I found interesting. Again, proof of an afterlife is not really, but, um, they’re hard to shake off it just stories, but they’re, they’re anecdotal.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:04:03] , I thought those stories at the end of the book and the, and the upload work were extremely powerful. And the one thing, I guess, I’m kind of going to maybe return to what I said before. Boy. I really feel personally that we have to kind of shift our language about that.
It’s like, it’s not proof it’s like if this whole body of information says anything to us, it says that we have to really. Re understand what we mean by proof. And I always kind of think of it in terms of the burden of proof. And it’s like, where does the burden of proof shift it? When does it shift? And in this case, like after this communication to me, the burden has clearly shifted.
If you don’t believe in after-death communication, then the burden of proof is on you to show that the thousands and thousands of verifiable accounts from all sorts of different sources, from the best medical evidence we can find from Leslie’s, uh, excellent series on Netflix and all the rest of it, the burden of proof is really on someone else to show that that is somehow shouldn’t be taken seriously.
I’d even say that the same is true with abduction. You know, if, if someone wants to say which you raised very, very valid questions, and I love the way that you frame it up, you know, that do we have to consider interdimensional? Do we have to consider whatever for that means we don’t need it when we say inter-dimensional new normal.
It’s like, Oh, well that solves it. We have no idea what that means.
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:05:27] Right?
Alex Tsakiris: [01:05:27] Or other realms or fairies, but that would seem to me that that what John Mack has done along with a bunch of other people has shifted the burden of proof to someone else to say, okay, these experiences that people are having are not in the norm in the way that we’d normally talk about them real, because my read of it is they are real.
We just don’t know what real is anymore.
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:05:54] Absolutely. You could not, I could not have said it better. You’re absolutely right. That it’s shifted the burden of proof. Now, John often said, and this is in the book that, um, um, if anyone has a better explanation, I’m willing to hear it. Uh, he said it can’t be, it’s not mental illness.
You know, I say that in the book that I have at least ruled out. What it isn’t what the phenomenon isn’t. So it isn’t according to John Mack. I mean, I didn’t do my own investigation. He’s a psychiatrist, but I looked over his shoulder as he did his, you know, his experiments and his research. So it’s not mental illness.
It’s not a mass delusion because these people don’t get together. Uh, it’s not publicity seeking because they shy away from publicity. They don’t want to be known. They’re questioning that. They wished it. Wasn’t true. Um, um, it’s not books. They read a movies. They’re seeing kids two years old tell the same stories.
So he’s eliminated all these other things that it’s not. So then he says, okay, so as far as I know, these people, uh, nothing has happened to these people other than what they said, because I have no other explanation. If you have a good explanation, I want to hear it. So I start the book with this conference at MIT.
In 1992 that drew atomic physicists and theologians and folklorists and psychologists and psychiatrists, experts in their fields who all came to MIT, uh, to wrestle with this story of alien abduction. You know, what this could be. And everybody had their way of looking at it. And at the end of the course, they didn’t solve the mystery.
Um, but they all came away saying that everything we have brought to it, uh, doesn’t explain. What happened to these people? So we’re left with the mystery, but at least we know what it isn’t, and it’s not any of these other, you know, it’s sleep paralysis. Oh yeah. But it doesn’t always happen at night. Oh yeah.
I forgot about that. Um, so, uh, you know, one by one, they sort of attack these things and I got to say Alex, that if the so-called skeptics and I don’t mean skeptical, I mean the skeptics and the debunkers, um, uh, so intent on knocking this stuff down as myth and, you know, fabrication, if they would do some of the research and read this material that’s available at the MIT conference, put out a thick volume of transcripts.
Uh, there’s a lot of literature out there of accounts, not only by by people. Uh, the experiences themselves, which are anecdotal, but, uh, scientists and psychologists, psychiatrists who have studied this, if they, if these so-called skeptics would read that and then say, okay, but, and then have an argument, you know why this is not true.
That’s not true. But just to say, ah, this is crazy stuff. Of course, it’s crazy. Of course, it’s ridiculous. You know, I have the epigram to, to my book. Uh, so William crooks, who said, I never said it was possible. I only said it was true. Um, so, uh, that’s my big beef with the, with the skeptics so-called skeptics.
And, uh, cause I spent 16 years looking into this, uh, and looking into every other explanation. And if there was one, I would’ve, you know, I’d be happy to say it that here’s the answer. John Mack was completely wrong. Here is the answer, which I alone have found. Okay. Well, you know, I’d
Alex Tsakiris: [01:09:17] add to that, that.
Rather than go look through all the scientific studies and all the rest of it. Go look at this book again. Uh, our guests has been Ralph Blumenthal and the book, the believer alien encounters, hard science and the passion of John Mack. And I just want to add to this because I think I just really believe this is true is that this book is so personal that it brings you through the history through this eyes.
Like you said, looking over the shoulder of a guy who lives through this and into the guy that you’re really going to be interested in. Exciting, excited about meeting. If you don’t know all the details about John Mack and no one could have known all these things. So it’s, it’s just a really, really great book and a great accomplishment.
Ralph, what else do we need to tell people about what you’ve done here or about anything else that you’re working on?
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:10:16] Well, I mean, I’m still in touch with, uh, Leslie cane. Uh, my colleague, uh, who wrote the series of along with Lynn Cooper, uh, in the times that brought this whole phenomenon, um, I’m not saying to light, uh, but that, that, that, that broke the story of the secret Pentagon unit, uh, investigating UFO’s because officially the government was out of the UFO business with project blue book in 1970 unofficially.
It was continuing to investigate, as we know, and there was this secret unit operating, uh, with, uh, funding from Senator Harry Reid’s office, uh, 2007 to today, the name has changed. It’s now the UAP on identified aerial phenomenon taskforce, but it’s the same as when we wrote about it, it was called the advanced aerospace threat identification program.
So we’re continuing to, you know, to monitor things. It’s supposed to be a report coming out fairly soon or later this year.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:11:18] You know, I was hesitant. I was hesitant even going there, but you brought it up December 18th, 2017, the day that will live in infamy. You guys broke that story in the New York times, but this is the one I’ve gone back and forth with Leslie on.
I mean, to me, Political science from the beginning. That’s how it plays. That’s how it plays out over time. Does it mean that it’s real? Does it mean that you guys didn’t report on it in the best possible way that you could, but this thing has such a political feel to it. It’s one side of the political spectrum talking as if there isn’t another side, you know, at that time, Donald Trump was the president of the United States.
He is nowhere to be found in that story. And, and there is no anyone in the administration is nowhere to be found. I think that’s very curious. I don’t know what you want to make of that, but then the way they’ve spun that, I mean, the whole thing of, uh, of Lou Elizondo coming out and saying, well, it wasn’t really classified.
Well, if this isn’t fricking classified, well, why do we have a system of classified and top secret? So again, it just has this been, and these guys have lied about this shit for 60 years, and now they’re going to roll it out. And they’re going to roll that out in the New York times, which has been especially hostile to this whole topic.
And then the way that it’s played out on the history channel with the Lou Elizondo and the rest of those guys, it’s all Pentagon, Pentagon, Pentagon. This is the great threat. This is the new world order threat. You know, we all have to join together as a family, you know, Verna Von Braun. You know, this is the last thing they’re going to use kind of thing.
I’m not saying that is true. I’m just saying you can not go there, go to this topic and not start pulling apart what the agenda is here. Cause it doesn’t look like it’s, what’s being presented on the surface to me. What are your thoughts on all of that?
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:13:21] You handed me a lot to deal with Alex. But let me say first of all, that I know the way this story emerged and it was not fed to us, Leslie through her good…
Alex Tsakiris: [01:13:32] I get it, I get it.
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:13:34] You know, so she went down to Washington, she heard about, she sat in on the meeting when Lou Elizondo disclosed that he was quitting. We had the letter you know, he was quitting and they were afraid to show it to Mattis at the time. I mean you know, a lot of weird stuff there. But so that, I mean, the first thing is that we dug that story out, it wasn’t, we got no sense. This is a story that government wanted us to write for any reason of its own. We pulled it out. He had good connections and they didn’t hand feed us these videos that came out, the three Navy videos. I think what…
Alex Tsakiris: [01:14:13] However, I’m totally with you on all that, I would not question that in the least. But the video like the first video is lik what, 8 10 12 years old? It’s not like a new video. It was even on the YouTube. I interviewed you know, Kevin Day who was on the boat and the video, he saw it and then he had the video in his inbox you know, he was the he was the top gun navy kind of…
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:14:39]
Alex Tsakiris: [01:14:39] See and it, the video was in his thing the next day and he said yeah, it was on the internet and then they took it down kind of thing so.
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:14:47] Yeah, it was floating around. I mean, we didn’t have them all but the Pentagon later authenticated the videos and they were absolutely real and people did try to pick them apart and say oh, you’re looking at it from this angle and this is, but it’s not fabricated. These are real objects that were caught on. And and then we interviewed pilots themselves that’s another thing we did that, you know shows that we found these people, Dave Fraver and Ryan forgot his last name and Danielle Coyne. Pilots who told us that they eyeball these things and Dave Fraver said he watched this thing as it was underwater you know, and this is a highly decorated you know, Navy jet fighter pilot who’s saying these things. So they I don’t think they had a script written for them that they were supposed to tell us this stuff. So but I do think that the stories we wrote, convince the government to come out more and maybe they realize it’s not something that they can contain anymore, that people are demanding answers. So it’s it’s pushed the process. And you know, there are people in the government who want to see much more come out you know, we know that. But there’s also a lot of secrecy still involved, a lot of stuff is classified that may not need to be. VA tips as you point out wasn’t for some reason. It’s strange that the Navy videos were not classified because if they were, we wouldn’t have put them out. We couldn’t, we don’t want to go to jail and we wouldn’t be dealing with stolen you know, leaked classified material. That’s not that we’ve never been accused of that.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:16:29] One of the things that was super interesting, during my interview with Kevin Day and it relates back to your book and it relates back to what we’re just talking about in John Mack is so. Kevin Day again, he’s the guy who from aboard the ship is orchestrating all the communication so he’s telling where the pilot where to go and all the rest of this. Two interesting things come up from his story. One is that he says these objects like 2030, whatever were in the air had been trailing the ship for like seven days. And I said Kevin, do you find it strange that you didn’t report that to your CEO before that? And he paused and he goes, yeah, that is kind of weird, again mental aspect of this. But the real clincher is, he said finally on the day of the event, I decided to go up topside and I looked through the glass and I looked at it and it changed something in me. And he says he experiences what they call the le Davis effect from Jacques fillet and Davis, I don’t know who Davis was, but they have this kind of transcendent experience, similar to what you’re talking about in the John Mack stuff is that there’s some kind of extended realm in which he feels like he has some experience. For him it’s kind of traumatic, he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it’s not really Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, It is kind of textbook valet Davis effects. So I just think it’s interesting when we start talking about videos, and we start talking about encounters with the craft. Again, it’s this kind of huge soup of we don’t know how we’re being how we’re interacting, it’s really no different than the abduction thing, is it?
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:18:25] Yeah, it’s I say, I mean, I end where I began with the mystery. And we have to acknowledge that you know and what gets me again are the people who conform and say, Oh, it’s no mystery, I know what this is, this is you know, and then they spend some theory this is anthropological the you know, this is the same be a mythical stuff that, you know, people would do in Aboriginal societies have been dealing with its myth and now they have the answer. But as I say, you got to read all the material before you know, you offer the answer. So I guess we’re back at the starting point but it’s been a you know, it’s been a fun journey.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:19:07] It has been an awesome journey and again that required reading folks required reading it’s been absolutely terrific having you on Ralph. Best of luck with this book. I know it’s already been super successful and I know you’ll have more and more success with it. What’s next for you after this? I, you just said that you’re going to continue pursuing this field, any books that you’re working on that you’d like to talk about? Or I know you authors sometimes like to keep those close to the vest?
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:19:37] Well, I don’t want to talk about what’s next in line but there’s more to be done on this subject for sure. And considering that I spent 16 years, 17 till it came out on this I’m not so eager to plunge into another subject from scratch. But there’s so much to this story and the people I’ve continued to meet you know, I keep getting more information now that the book is out. And I heard the other day from a colleague of John Max, who said, I wish I’d had this for the book. He said you know, I was the last one or one of the last people he saw before he left for England where he was killed. And I asked him, you know, John well, where are you going? You know, what are you doing? And he went like this. He pointed to the ground, she said and she didn’t realize what that meant till afterwards and she found that he had been killed. I wish I’d had that story at the time. So I keep hearing from people you know, the subject is certainly endlessly fascinating. There’s more you know, coming out, obviously, on the on UFOs. There’s a lot more to be. People ask me all the time well, who’s continuing this research now? I mean well, who’s who’s John Mack today? I don’t know. There are groups of experiences who are meeting you know. But considering the wealth of scientific knowledge available today, and I end my book with the story of the Hadron Supercollider and the image of the black hole, 58 million light years away, that the you know, the scientists caught a picture of 58 million light years away, and they can’t figure out if people are being abducted. Because the science is not you know, the government is not giving money for that they’re only giving money for you know, SETI and you know, telescopes. Come on, there are serious questions here. There’s brain research as to what parts of the brain are activated when people go through abduction experiences. So you know, there’s a lot to be you know, research still clearly, it’s at the beginning, but it’s disreputable still. So we’ve got to get beyond that ridicule factor and try to figure out what the hell’s going on.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:22:00] Ralph, it’s been absolutely terrific. Thank you so much for joining me.
Ralph Blumenthal: [01:22:04] Alex. It’s been great to be on your program. Thank you.
Alex Tsakiris: [01:22:08] Thanks, again to Ralph Blumenthal, for joining me today on Skeptiko. The one question I tee up from this interview and it really, really is a fundamental question I keep bumping into in a bunch of different ways is, what do you make of our reality? It is in many ways, the only game in town in terms of rational, scientific logical approach. But what do we do with the fact that it may be a severely limited perspective from which we launch into all that logic and rational thinking. What do you think, let me know track me down. Plenty more to come. Stay with me for all of that. Until next time, take care and bye for now.
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