Dec 20, 2017 I MJ Banias

The Pentagon, UFOs and Shaping Myth

The recent announcement by the Pentagon that it ran a secretive UAP/UFO program has hit the UFO community like a wave. The news followed a New York Times article which featured a $20 million-dollar program designed to investigate UFO reports and a 30-second video taken by an F-18 Super Hornet’s gun camera, and features the pilot’s audible reactions to an anomalous object they were tracking. While all this new information raises many questions, the biggest one is how will UFO lore and mythology change as a result?

Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, has this latest video posted on its website, alongside testimony from fighter pilots regarding another UFO sighting and gun camera video from 2004.

Suffice it to say, most major news outlets have picked up this story, and various UFO circles are in a tizzy. The excitement and the tension is palpable, but like all such events, we must be cautious. The UFO subculture, that nebulous group of individuals who engage with UFO discourse and debate, have been duped before. Furthermore, the ‘truth’ will mix with the fiction, and out of this relationship, more Ufological mythology will be born.

Thirty years ago, the infamous Majestic 12, or MJ-12 documents surfaced. In a series of books and conference lectures between 1987 and 1989, these documents were touted as being real proof of a governmental cover-up, crashed flying saucers, and even aliens hidden in underground bases. Almost immediately after their release to the broader UFO community and the general public, the documents were identified as elaborate hoaxes and potentially disinformation documents created by the intelligence community. While their validity is no longer in question, as they are definitely fraudulent, the mythology that they generated within UFO circles still exists.

If one dares to venture into the depths of the UFO subculture, questions, conversations and debates still rage on concerning hidden underground military bases in New Mexico, crashed flying discs and the recovery of extraterrestrial bodies. Furthermore, digging deeper, one will find significant connections between the major Ufological players involved in releasing these documents, and the intelligence community.

As George P. Hansen points out in his book, The Trickster and the Paranormal,

MJ-12, or a similar group by any other name, became a centrepiece of theorizing by UFOlogists. It established a governing paradigm for many researchers. They gathered snippets of evidence and tried fitting them into this framework.

Only a couple years previously, Paul Bennewitz and his interactions with various intelligence officials with the American government, also focused upon a similar thematic line; secret government bases, alien abductions, cattle mutilations, and a plot to slowly invade the planet via genetic manipulation. These motifs within UFO discourse still exist today, and many buy into them outright. Furthermore, they have become part of the subcultural landscape, taken for granted, mythologized, televised and reprinted ad infinitum as legitimate Ufological theory. Everyone seems to ignore the source of these myths, a government-sponsored campaign cloaked in a noble call to ‘tell the truth’ but used to potentially establish ideology and lore to move the UFO debate and community towards certain realities versus others.

While the MJ-12 and Bennewitz affairs are perhaps the most famous events which highlight known governmental influence upon UFO mythology, there have been other cases of potential meddling.

Michael Swords, in his book, UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry, points to the fact that NICAP, The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, had a member by the name of Colonel Joseph Bryan III. He eventually became a board member, and shortly thereafter, became the Board chair. He forced Donald Keyhoe, NICAP’s long-standing director and founder, to retire in 1969 and disbanded the organization. Bryan was a respected Air Force officer; however, he also was a CIA operative who was high up in the intelligence agency’s psychological warfare department.

It may be silly to assume that the CIA was involved in the destruction of NICAP. Most UFO organizations tend to suffer from significant infighting and members with inflated egos, so they need little help in destroying themselves, however, it does show that members of the intelligence world at least play the UFO game.

It is too early to begin ranting about some grand conspiracy concerning this recent release of information from the Pentagon, which may have somehow been motivated by To the Stars Academy. This has not stopped some from doing so, however, such as documentarian and researcher Dr Steven Greer, who was considered to be an ‘insider’ for quite some time now, is clearly on the ‘outs.’

Screen Shot 2017 12 18 at 12 36 10 PM
Good while it lasted, I suppose.


Is this a Version 2.0 government-sponsored disinformation campaign similar to MJ-12? Is this a social assessment, a psychological ‘proving ground’ to ascertain the public’s propensity for belief, and methods on how to best dupe them for other, potentially nefarious and down to earth, reasons? Do these ‘advanced aerial threats’ reinforce the ‘extraterrestrial hypothesis’ and shut out other potential theories regarding the UFO question? How will this affect all those individuals within the UFO community who do not consider the UFO phenomenon a threat, but rather a positive interaction with another intelligence? What of all those alien abductees who have allegedly come face to face with this benevolent intelligence? Will this announcement further entrench the UFO subculture in the darkness of the social fringe? Or, will it bring the UFO community out into the light, where the academic and scientific communities will finally accept the potential for strange and supernatural aerial events that cannot be attributed to human engineering?

While that last one is a stretch, these questions are all on the tips of the subcultural tongue.

The fundamental questions we must ask, however, are what narratives are being created by the UFO community, and about the UFO community as a result of this ‘UAPgate.’ What ideology will be generated and reinforced during the next several days and weeks? What lore and mythologies are being created in the wake of this new information? Finally, who in the community is being silenced by this loud gong?

No one can predict the direct mythological and ideological outcomes of this story.  That being said, it all hovers around the American government and military, organizations that have not enjoyed the UFO community’s trust over the last several decades. Oddly enough, the direct result of the MJ-12 documents and the Bennewitz affair was basically an open call to cease putting one’s faith in the government, as they were involved in some pretty dubious shenanigans and conspiracies. However, in some strange twist of Ufological irony, many members of the community have total trust in this new information, suddenly putting blind confidence in an archetypal enemy of the UFO subculture.

It is too early to know whether this information is totally open and honest. The UFO community has been tricked before, and as the old saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” Will this event shift the entire UFO discourse? Perhaps, for the time being anyway. As one UFO enthusiast put it on Facebook concerning this announcement, “I’m feeling optimistic for a change...”

Perhaps the best approach is with caution, an open-mind, but caution. However, what we can assume is that the cause of this information release, the cast of characters behind this event, all have agendas. They are playing the UFO game, we just don’t know what rules they are playing by. History has taught us that when individuals from the government and the intelligence community play the game, they play to win.

MJ Banias

MJ Banias is the author of “The UFO People: A Curious Culture” and curates the popular Fortean blog “Terra Obscura" and YouTube channel. He has appeared on multiple radio shows and podcasts including Coast to Coast AM, and his work has appeared in Fortean Times Magazine, FATE Magazine and in the book, “UFOs: Reframing the Debate."

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