Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NINJA STUFF: On Conspiracy Theories And Flying Saucers

WARNING: Today's post has nothing to do with middle grade fiction, the reading or the writing of it. This is going to be an epic post I already regret publishing. 

Don't worry, Esteemed Reader. This isn't about to become a blog about conspiracy theories and flying saucers. There are plenty of those available already. I should split this post in two, but I'm going to leave it extra long because we're only going to do this once.

I've written a book with an alien on its cover (sort of), so at some point we have to talk about them, at least a little:) The Book of David concerns a number of kooky, crazy crackpot ideas, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to write it. The fifth and final chapter of the serial series is available for preorder now!!!  I know writing about such things as flying saucers and a government cover-up will lead readers to question whether or not the author believes in them. The answer, naturally, is of course I dobut let me qualify that statement!

Admitting to a belief in a conspiracy theory is like admitting to a belief in religion in that some additional context is required for the reader to appreciate my position. People like to take an all-or-nothing position whenever possible, especially when it comes to conspiracy theories. All or nothing keeps things simple, but life is rarely simple. Children are allowed to see the world in black and white, but maturing means learning to accept that the world (and possibly the aliens visiting it) exists in shades of gray.

One conspicuously missing conspiracy theory in The Book of David is any reference to a 9/11 cover-up because that event is too fresh and raw and even I have a limit to what I'm comfortable exploiting for the entertainment of my readers. Many of you Esteemed Readers reading this have your own 9/11 experiences, as do I, and my bull crap tale of flying saucers and a corrupt government supported by a greedy financiers has plenty of fun with less sensitive conspiracy theories. Also, my book takes place prior to the swearing in of Donald Trump, so I'm choosing not to deal with that craziness here.

My interest is in crafting fiction. I read about UFOs as a boy and the stories captured my imagination. More, people very close to me have seen them and so from childhood, I've known flying saucers were probably real. But I've never seen a flying saucer. There is no definitive, established narrative for where they come from or what they're up to, so beyond pondering the wonder of their existence, flying saucer lore is not particularly useful to me on a daily basis. I've approached the topic for years now with the explicit intention of crafting scary stories, so if it should somehow be definitively proven that flying saucers have never existed, I'll still have my stories, which are a pack of lies anyway. It's win/win for me, Esteemed Reader:)

That bears repeating: I've approached ufology looking for fun tidbits and without much concern for truth. There's plenty of truth in the actual news I read. When I read conspiracy theories, I'm looking for entertainment and instruction on what resonates with large numbers of readers by terrifying them with "alternative facts." I have no reason to think the moon landing was actually a hoax, but a story about it being one just captures the imagination, doesn't it? It's fun and interesting and I think applying the best elements of that bull crap story to your own bull crap story improves your fiction craft:)

In preparing The Book Of David, I didn't actually have to believe in haunted houses to write a haunted house storybut you better believe I read as many haunted house stories as I could before starting and while writing, because that's my due diligence. A danger in writing about scary things is you have to research scary things, and if you go looking for things that go bump in the night, believing they don't exist does nothing for you when you actually bump into them (or scarier yet, when they bump into you).

I've learned that lesson previously, so I do most of my research by reading books and interviewing people who have actually faced scary things, doing my best to stay out of harm's way, nice and cozy in my writing office with my Batman action figures on display and a cooling mug of coffee. I've talked with multiple ufologists and several victims of alien abduction and religious leaders who take the issue extremely seriously. What I learned from them scared me badly enough to get me back into church (for a couple Sundays).

It's really best not to make up your mind about a thing until you've done your due diligence. It's my experience that most people who write off the subject of UFOs haven't read the research, and nothing annoys me more than a strongly held opinion by someone who hasn't qualified it. "Everyone knows something can't be true," is never a valid argument against contradictory evidence. Everyone knew the world was flat. Everyone knew the sun revolved around Earth, which was the center of the universe. Everyone knows flying saucers aren't real and that our planet has never been visited by any outside life.

Do your homework. If there's nothing to this flying saucer thing, you'll be able to speak with confidence that it's all just as you thought: tabloid garbage used to sell budget-less programs on the History Channel that would otherwise just be about history (booooring!). And that will be a valid opinion as you've done the due diligence. Keep an ear out should new data become available, but you will be justified in your view.

The Ninja once suspected there was no Santa Claus. I've looked into it and though I keep an ear out for new data as I'm terrified it might be true (I don't want to live in a world where an old fat guy breaks into the homes of all children every year), I feel confident in saying "No, Virginia, there's no Santa Claus. Your well-meaning parents have just introduced you to your first conspiracy theory. Now remember for the rest of your life that the people you loved and trusted most lied to you, as did many other adults in your community."

If, on the other hand, you should discover there is evidence for flying saucers, you'll have to reconsider your opinion. I'm not interested in converting anyone to a religion, but I am interested in spreading awareness of evidence. The more informed our population becomes about a phenomenon presenting as flying saucers, the more likely we are to find an answer to who these visitors are and what we might learn from them. A majority of folks questioning whether or not Galelleo was onto something with his crazy Earth-revolving-around-the-sun theories led to an eventual definitive answer for all of us, save for the flat-earthers out there, who make all conspiracy theorists look bad.

Sudden subject change: to state that the government of the United States or of any country is always good or always bad is absurd. A government is too huge a body involving too many players to be said to be uniformly any kind of way. Our forefathers knew this and thus our government is set up to be changed around every so often. More, if you love America (or at least live here), it is your duty as a citizen to keep an eye on government and criticize when it's being unfair (stop trying to take away our healthcare to give more tax breaks to wealthy people you elitist, immoral A-holes!). And if you don't think the American government would conspire against a group of its people, I remind you that we had a civil rights movement (still going) to try to get the government to stop conspiring against a group of its people.

A comparison between religion and conspiracy theories is a major theme of The Book of David as I believe both serve the same function of building a mental framework in which to accept otherwise in-congruent occurrences. Much of life is flat and straightforward: get up, eat, go to work/school, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. If I step on a tack, I will bleed, and it isn't a supernatural occurrence. The tack isn't out to get me. It was simply in my path. Had I walked elsewhere, or paid more attention, I wouldn't have stepped on it.

And yet, I believe I have experienced direct divine intervention at least twice (probably more often in subtler ways) that saved my life on both occasions (the subject of an upcoming post, but we'll get back to middle grade books after that, I promise). I don't want to get too far off course, so let me just say that both events could be written off as coincidence or mental illness and would not convince the true skeptic. But I personally experienced the events and I know something greater than myself got involved to directly influence the course of my life.

And that's all I know.

I've talked before about reality being fuzzy around the edges. I'll assume many of you Esteemed Readers have had one or two events of high strangeness in your life. They're common enough that most everyone has at least one in a lifetime, even if they insist on denying it or calling it something else.

After a genuine supernatural event, life has a way of getting on much the way it did prior to the event: get up, eat, go to work, etc. And the event is just there, dangling, something that does not add up, does not conveniently fit in the otherwise logically structured narrative of life. If I had formal religious beliefs, I suppose I could accept that Jesus was looking out for me, and so long as I continue to have faith and live in a particular way, He'll keep it up. But at this point in my life, I prefer private religion to formal religion. There was nothing in either experience that suggested to me with any certainty the identity of my Divine Intervene-r (who was that masked Entity!?!).

Nor do I have any insight as to why keeping the author of Pizza Delivery alive is apparently a priority for divine intervention over aiding the many starving and diseased children of the world. Beyond the fact of the event's occurrence, I have no knowledge of the why or how, only speculation. And speculating about the intentions of the Almighty is a good way to eventually end up in a compound surrounded by my own cultwhich part of you always knew was where this blog about reading and writing middle grade novels would eventually lead:)

Just as there are incongruent events in our individual lives, there are such events in our nation's life that leave us struggling to fit them into the national narrative. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave and our leaders are the best and brightest selected by We The People. And those leaders are held accountable to us, except none of us really believe that once we get out of grade school. Nor should we.

As I write this, we've just gone through one of the largest wealth transfers in our history. We all of us watched not so long ago as our government handed our money directly to bankers with little to no restriction and put none of them in jail as the rest of us lost our jobs and had our homes foreclosed on. We know the NSA is archiving all our communications and possibly reading this blog post right now. We know the Bush administration led us into a seeming pre-ordained oil war that in retrospect, appears largely unrelated to the events of 9/11, and the Vice President's company and friends of the Bush family made a whole lot of money, which seems to have been the point.

None of this suggests an outright conspiracy. There's no need for an Illuminati council of bankers to meet secretly for bankers in general to agree that it's an inspired idea to get their grubby hands on as much money as they can just as there's no need for sharks to meet and strategize before they go into a frenzy and attack a bleeding animal. Quick covering of my butt: I use Illuminati in the pop culture sense, not the traditionally racist one. Greedy bankers intent on stealing America out from under us come from all races and creeds and walks of life (being terrible is not the exclusive domain of any one culture).

Far more troubling to me is this study by professors from Princeton and Northwestern University that shows from 1981 to 2002, Congressional votes cast over those twenty years aligned with the popular opinion of average Americans less than 18 percent of the time. Now I'm no expert on such matters, but that sure sounds a lot closer to taxation without representation than I think our forefathers would be comfortable with.

We're still telling ourselves we live in a democratic republic (we light our fireworks every 4th of July), but I imagine future history books will correctly label this period in our history as the American oligarchy. Maybe you voted for Trump because you didn't want Hilary Clinton's homies from Goldman Sachs to be appointed to high-level government positions, but the joke's on you because Trump's been appointing Goldman Sachs folks almost as frequently as his democratic predecessor. Or maybe you donated money to the Bernie Sanders campaign and learned that the Democratic National Committee has more than a passing familiarity with conspiracies (#stillmad).

Looking simply at the facts of our modern  American lives suggests a system that is working against the majority of Americans. It could be market forces, it could be the technological revolution, it could be the amalgamation of a lot of factors and probably is, but just a glance at a chart like this one shows that something has been working against the majority of Americans:



And then there are the events and facts we just don't talk about and wish would go away. Remember when that handsome young President was executed in broad daylight in front of a huge crowd and the government officially said the event happened one way, but it was captured on a film that was released years later and we all watched JFK's head go back and to the left from a bullet supposedly fired from a window behind and above him? And the guy we were told did it told everyone he was just a patsy before he got shot and the guy that shot him died a short time later of a highly suspicious heart attack while in custody. I know it sounds like a bull crap story, but the stakes are really, really high on this one, so let's all just accept the magic bullet theory and put the whole unpleasant business behind us because if you go lifting up that particular rock, God knows what might come scurrying out.

It's possible Lee Harvey Oswald got off the world's most amazing three shots; not likely, but potentially possible, or so we've been told by official government sources. What amuses me is the vehemence with which some people insist that the official story is the only way in which events could've transpired and if you think otherwise, you're unpatriotic. And who can blame such folks? What are the implications of people within our own government covering up something like the murder of our elected leader? If it's true, do we really want to know it? They, whoever they may be, appear to have gotten away with it, so maybe we should just live and let live and not worry our pretty little heads about it.

In one of my favorite scenes in my own book,  All Together Now: A Zombie Story , a manager for Tony Sty's Pizza Pies loses his mind at the start of the zombie apocalypse. He tries to give away free pizzas as though his little bit of authority still means anything in such a situation. When a cop turned zombie attacks him, he screams "that's not riiiiiight!!!" because that's not what police officers are supposed to do. And it's him I think of when I bump into the true skeptics and debunkers. The case is closed on Kennedy, there are no flying saucers, because "that's not riiiiiight!!!"

Actually, I'm being facetious here, which brings me to another point: you can't always trust conspiracy theorists, especially when they're selling books:) I wasn't there (or alive at the time) and I don't know exactly what went down in Dallas, Texas on 11/2/1963 and you don't either (probably). However, I think the most plausible theory is that Kennedy was hit by friendly fire from his own secret service in an attempt to protect him, thus instigating a perhaps understandable and far less nefarious government conspiracy to save face. The fact that Kennedy complained multiple times that his security detail was overzealous and that Johnson insisted on reducing his own detail even after his predecessor was shot would seem to support the idea. Here's a book worth reading on the subject.

Or maybe Kennedy was shot once by Bigfoot and once by the Loch Ness Monster from an invisible flying saucer fueled by the top-secret cure for cancer. Who knows? But if you say to me that you're 100% certain that the official version of the Kennedy assassination is the only version of events that could've occurred, you're willfully ignoring an awful lot of suspicious evidence to the contrary that's not so easily dismissed and I don't know that I feel comfortable trusting your opinion on other matterswith the notable exception of Stephen King, who had a book to sell:)

I believe it's possible and perhaps preferable to bury your head in the sand. There are sports teams to root for and entire seasons of television to binge watch and novels to read and most of us are working more hours for less pay in the new economy, so there's no time to really worry about what's happening in the upper echelons of power where billionaires are buying our politicians wholesale and ensuring things only get more unfair from here.

We'll get to the flying saucers (we will, don't worry, or you could just read my book on the subject), but we don't need them to illustrate that our world is rife for conspiracy theories because our official reality so often doesn't match up to the facts. Every American has to walk around with the knowledge that an actor who later became a corporate spokesperson was elected President and appointed as his chief of staff the former chairman of Merryl Lynch, and then proceeded to cripple unions and champion the trend of tax breaks for the wealthy that brought us to our current times. Say what you will about Michael Moore, I frequently disagree with him and I think he's often played unfairly, but God bless him for drawing attention to this clip for all to see:



We don't need a conspiracy theory's explanation when the corruption in our system is this blatant.

And there are other facts that once you know them, you can't un-know them. For example, once you've read about Operation Northwoods, which called for the CIA to commit acts of terrorism against US citizens in preparation to justify war with Cuba, you can't ever again completely dismiss the notion of a government conspiracy to kill American citizens. This isn't some questionable document Alex Jones is waiving in the air while spouting psedo-science and craziness, this is a proposal signed by The Joint Chiefs of Staff and submitted to the President of the United States.

You could also read about how various black civil rights leaders were murdered and followed by agencies within our government. You could read about the Tuskegee experiments in which members of the US Public Health Service told black men they were being given free healthcare and were instead intentionally infected with syphilis. You could read about Operation Midnight Climax and MK Ultra in which the CIA dosed unwitting US Citizens (of all races and creeds this time) with LSD. Oh, and while you're bumming yourself out, make sure to bone up on how the CIA has occasionally sold drugs when it's of the mind to. And don't forget Robert McNamara admitting, on camera, that the Gulf of Tonken never happened.



Conspiracies have existed within the United States government to subvert authority and betray US citizens. Period, case closed, end of debate. We can argue about what is and what is not currently a conspiracy, but let's not waste time arguing that they cannot happen and have not happened.

The internet is abuzz with conspiracy theory articles and videos, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised to learn they're second in popularity only to pornography. The theories, especially the really crazy ones, amuse me to no end. They're scary stories and you know I love campfire tales told just before we have to go to sleep to keep our minds working on overtime into the late hours. I've never been sorry for reading about a conspiracy theory and some of the best rival Stephen King's tales of terror.

I'm especially fond of David Ike's lizard people. Obviously, I DO NOT ACTUALLY BELIEVE there are lizard people wearing human skins and secretly running all governments (though I can't prove there aren't), but what a great story! I'm kicking myself that David Ike came up with that one before I did as it's the set-up for a fantastic horror novel. I think most writers are amateur sociologists at heart and a group of people who can be convinced of the reality of lizard people greatly interests me the same way people who run with the bulls in Papmlona interest meI have no intention of joining them, but I think it's fascinating that they're doing it.

And before we write off the extreme conspiracy theorists as being "just crazy," let us remember that a huge percentage of our population has long believed that there is a dark prince of this world. What could be more of a conspiracy theory than the working thought model that there is a fallen angel presiding in Hell actively plotting the ruin and degradation of mankind? Whatever the various interpretations may have said, The New Testament is very clear that Satan and his minions are active in this world and have taken a personal interest in every soul on Earth (including yours, Esteemed Reader!).

I'm not here to tell you there's no God or no devil. The world is a very strange place. Reality is fuzzy around the edges, and both could indeed exist in some form (do They read blogs, you think?).

If you'd like me to make up a story about both as well as flying saucers and other conspiracy theories, The  Book of David is now available:) But a story is all it is. I don't have any inside information to share, only my insight gathered over a lifetime of reading conspiracy theories. And unlike the numerous crackpots hawking supposedly true stories, I've labeled my tale fiction and I'm telling you from day one I made it all up. 

No one knows for sure what happens to our consciousness when we die (if anything other than ceasing), but there's a lot of money to be made by saying you do. The folks in position to know what happens behind the closed doors of the powerful don't always talk, but there's lots of money to be made in pretending to know what happened. And in a field of unknowns, there's a lot of room to make things up, which is a constant problem in both religion and conspiracy theories.

Ufology is a scam artists' paradise as scammers thrive in fields in which many key details are presently unknowable. I can admit to a belief in flying saucers while still being fully aware that John Mack's (Harvard psychologist interested in alien abduction) research was sloppy at best, Erich Von Daniken, responsible for much of the Ancient Aliens lore, is a sketchy fellow, and Ed Walters (for whom David Walters is named) probably faked The Gulf Breeze Sightings.

Battlefield Earth is one of my favorite novels (never saw more than 10 minutes of the movie) and if L. Ron Hubbard went on to write some highly dubious stuff, it doesn't change the fact that there's a truth in that classic work that makes it still worth reading. I can appreciate the tale without signing up for Scientology. I can agree that Dr. Steven Greer is either a nut or a con artist or both, but it doesn't change the credentials of his witnesses in The Disclosure Project (do not watch the video unless you're ready to have your mind blown).



So what is some of this evidence I keep talking about? Esteemed Reader, I don't know where to begin. Maybe I should let my favorite UFO historian Richard Dolan handle this one. Incidentally, Mr. Dolan was kind enough to write me a few encouraging emails while I was working on The Book of David, which meant quite a lot to me. I told him privately that I consider him to be the Bill Hicks of Ufology, by which I mean his presentation style is extremely engaging, and while I haven't always agreed with his conclusions, I'm so grateful that's he's out there making an argument and bringing information to light that is too often ignored elsewhere:



Or, if that doesn't do it for you, how about some testimony from Buzz Aldrin:



Esteemed Reader, there is no end to the ufology-themed YouTube videos I could post here, but I'll let you stumble down the rest of that particular rabbit hole yourself. There's more pilots, former military and government officials, police officers, and regular people testifying than I could possibly cover here. But I hope that you'll look into this topic on your own. The battle for disclosure needs every able-bodied thinker it can get. Do the research and remember that evidence of SOMETHING is not evidence of EVERYTHING.

In other words, yes, there are controlled vehicles of unknown origin flying in our skies in a manner in which we are currently not capable and were certainly not capable of 70+ years ago. This is not a matter of debate. If you disagree, do the research and come back. We can debate what these craft are, but the argument of their existence is settled.

Are flying saucers or triangles responsible for the crop circles not done by fraudsters? Could be, but that's a separate issue. Are they chopping up cows? Maybe, but I've heard convincing evidence that many so-called mutilations are a naturally-occurring phenomenon, and again, that's a separate issue.

Are aliens abducting people and probing them? This is the subject of another post I'll probably never write, but it's a separate issue. Although I will say I interviewed multiple abduction victims and what I learned from them terrified me. Whether they were abducted by aliens or are suffering some form of sleep disorder (and yes, some are attention-seeking liars and crazies, but not all), I know I wouldn't want whatever they experienced to happen to me and if it had, I wouldn't appreciate people making light of it.

The problem with many conspiracy theories, as I see it, is the same problem of many ideologies: humans have a tendency to apply a thing that's true in one situation to all situations. Ayn Rand is quite correct that an entrepreneur competing with other entrepreneurs is likely to produce a superior product; the issue I take with her is that she applies that same model to everything, and not everything in life is best done for a profit motive or in competition (like healthcare). Similarly, government officials lying about one thing does not mean they're lying about all things, one fake UFO photo doesn't make all UFO photos fake, and so on.

Esteemed Reader, I'm not the UFO ninja, I'm the Middle Grade Ninja. My focus and the focus of this blog has always been and will remain writing. My opinions on most matters ufological remain subject to change in light of new evidence and I accept there's a great deal about this topic I don't know and likely will never know.  Again, if someone could prove to me that all the witnesses who've come forward were full of crap, I'd still have my perfectly lovely serial horror novel. I suspect flying saucers are not alien craft, but an older and more frightening phenomenon, but the evidence doesn't allow me to draw any definitive conclusion (the beings inside could also be whatever the heck those not-aliens were in Indiana Jones 4).

The outer-space alien hypothesis also makes sense. The universe is so big we don't even know how big it is and thus how small we really are. Give us another generation or two and we'll be colonizing space ourselves, probably with robot bodies if Ray Kurzweil is to be believed. Given that we're a young species in terms of the universe's age, it seems likely to me that folks elsewhere with a healthy head start might've already done the same. They might've been coming here before we started walking upright, and may even have had a guiding hand in that process. Or, perhaps reality is all a computer generation and these flying saucers come here from outside the official program, but I speculate.

Another possibility is that there are no visitors from anywhere and that agencies within our government are spreading rumors of flying saucer visitations as a psych op of some kind. Before you dismiss this idea, read up on Richard Doty and consider watching the absolutely riveting documentary Mirage Men. I suspect plenty of flying saucer evidence may either have been intentionally released or fabricated at an official level for purposes I can only guess at.

Whoever the craft occupants are, however long they've been here, wherever they come from, they're here now. It's always possible they're planning to wipe us out, but I remain optimistic. I think there's a lot for our species to learn and a whole new potential market for me to sell books to:) And it all starts with us, you and me, everyday citizens waking up and saying "There's enough evidence for it to be time for us to have an adult conversation on this topic." If enough of us agree, the focus of our mainstream scientific inquiry will change and rogue elements of our government will have to fess up to what they know.

We aren't likely to find an answer until enough of us agree that there's something here worth investigating. I just want to nudge you in that direction.

Or maybe it's all bull crap. I don't know, do I? Either way, The Book of David is available now:) Buy my book!!!




"The Lord has appointed you to a special duty in these last days and given your life a unique purpose. Will you turn away from the myriad temptations of this wicked world and answer His righteous calling?"

The Walters family has just purchased the perfect home if only it weren't located in the small hick town of Harrington, Indiana, and if only it weren't haunted. David Walters is an atheist now, but his minister father taught him from a young age that Satan would one day deceive all mankind by pretending his demons were extraterrestrials. The day the Walters family moves in, they spot a flying saucer outside their new home. Things only get stranger from there. David Walters is about to learn what it means to be truly haunted, forcing him to confront his past, fight for his family, his soul, and his sanity.


WARNING

This horror story is intended for a mature audience. It's filled with adult language, situations, and themes. It's in no way appropriate for the easily offended or younger readers of BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES.


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