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An Interview with Nick Redfern:
Talking about his new book, The NASA Conspiracies, as well as the Mars Face, and Possible Involvement of NASA with UFO issues of high-strangeness
By Brent Raynes
NICK REDFERN is a full time author, lecturer, and journalist. Nick contributes regularly to UFO, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal magazines. His previous books have included Contactees, Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, and There’s Something in the Woods. Nick has appeared on quite a few TV programs, including the History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters, The National Geographic’s Paranatural, and the SyFy’s Proof Positive. Originally from England, Nick today is married and a resident of Arlington, Texas. You can read more about Nick at: http://www.nickredfern.com/?cat=3. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brent Raynes: Nick, I really enjoyed reading your book The NASA Conspiracies. It wasn’t what I had expected. I thought that it was going to be more of the Mars Face and such. I’ve been in the field myself for a little over 40 years and there were all kinds of stories in your book that I had never heard of before and they were quite fascinating.
Nick Redfern: Well one reason that I covered so many different issues was, purely and simply, that very issue that you brought up. Although there have been a number of good books like on the Face on Mars and stuff like that, one of the things that I found, when I was doing the research, that a lot of people assumed that because those areas had been covered so massively that there really wasn’t much else to report on, and what I wanted to do with this book was to point that in actuality NASA has had a lot of involvement in a whole range of UFO-related issues, beyond just the Face on Mars and things like that.
Brent Raynes: Yes, and there were some really riveting pages in there like the story with Frank Drake, down there in Puerto Rico.
Nick Redfern: Oh yeah, that was a weird one.
Brent Raynes: And, of course, right there in Houston at Mission Control where that security guard had his experience of seeing that gargoyle type figure. Very strange, and there are many more. Plus those events that you described at that facility in Ohio, with the strange lights and the report of a Bigfoot type creature that was shot.
Nick Redfern: What I didn’t want to do was go over old ground. So even though I covered some cases that had been covered before, like the Face on Mars, rather than just tell the same old story, which is why I quoted Mac Tonney extensively, because I had interviewed Mac specifically about the whole Face on Mars controversy. I thought that instead of just going over old ground and pulling a hundred words of Wikipedia and fifty words from that book, why not show something that hasn’t been seen before. Which, you know, is like the interview with Mac. It kind of gives them value for their money and not leave them thinking, “I’ve read all of this somewhere else.”
Brent Raynes: Right. There’s too much rehash out there already. And, of course, you look at things from many different angles and from outside the box, which is very good, and you’re objective and analytical in your approach to things. All of these are good qualities as a writer and an investigator.
I was wondering if you could tell us a little about how you got interested in all of this?
Nick Redfern: Yes, sure. Basically, it was sort of several things. Probably about five or six years ago, several things actually sort of coincidentally happened at once. One was the fact that Mac Tonnies wrote his book After the Martian Apocalypse, which was a very balanced look at the whole Face on Mars controversy, and one of the things that Mac pointed out, which I actually agreed with him, was the fact that what he tried to do in his book was to present the story of the Face on Mars where he didn’t come across as a debunker or a true believer, but as someone who was open minded, someone who concluded that there were genuinely anomalous structures on Mars that did seem to be made by some sort of intelligence. This coincided with me using the Freedom of Information Act to actually get hold of a lot of NASA files on UFOs, legitimate files that had been declassified through the Freedom of Information Act. I kept sort of all of these files, and information on people like Mac on file for a few years, and I thought, “Well, why don’t I try to do something with this material because a number of people have covered NASA in some of their UFO books. You know, a chapter here or a chapter there, or whole books written about did we go to the moon and whole books written on the Face on Mars, etc. But I thought, “Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are UFO sightings by astronauts, there are Freedom of Information files where the FBI looked into allegations that the first Space Shuttle explosion, Challenger in 1986, had been sabotaged. You know, a whole range of things like this that sort of touched upon conspiracy theories that most people didn’t even know about, and so I thought why not do a book that doesn’t just focus on one issue but looks at the history of NASA from the perspective of these various ufological, alien, forteanian type stories, and put them all under one cover so that people can sort of hopefully see all of the material and realize that there is far more to the claims that have been leveled against NASA that go beyond just the Face on Mars and did we go to the moon or not, which are the main issues that most people seem to focus on.
Brent Raynes: Right, and it’s a very fascinating and thought-provoking book and I even saw where you had some of what Bob Pratt had written on back in 1978 in Bolivia of a crash situation.
Nick Redfern: Yes, that’s an interesting story. When people talk about crashed UFOs they often, initially at least, they just think of Roswell. In reality, there have been numerous crashed UFO stories reported, and for me at least one of the most intriguing is this one that occurred in Bolivia in May 1978, which is important because we know that NASA had some involvement in it. We know this because documents have been officially released through the Freedom of Information Act.
The story is that at some point in May 1978, that some sort of object, that is described in files that were forwarded to NASA by the CIA described like a 12 to 15 foot egg shaped object that slammed into a mountainside in Bolivia. Checks were done with NASA who said “We haven’t lost any satellites or spacecraft. We’ve checked about Russian satellites and they hadn’t lost anything either.” So what was it, and everybody and his brother was keeping tabs on this incident. NASA, the CIA, the State Department in Bolivia, the American Embassy, etc.
The story was that this object came down and the Bolivians recovered it but they wanted help in analyzing what it was and asked NASA to come down. There are conflicting stories where some people said yes, that NASA had a presence there, but NASA’s official response was that “We heard about it but we didn’t go down.” From there it sort of gets into more darker areas, with allegations that NASA did go down, they say it, the object was recovered, that there was, I guess, some sort of Bolivian/American joint investigation of whatever this craft or vehicle might have been, but it’s like a lot of these stories, and particularly like Roswell, we know that NASA had some involvement, we have documentation suggesting strongly that something crashed, but then it kind of dissipated into this black hole where everybody denies any first hand, firm knowledge of what occurred.
But it certainly was important because in this case, unlike a lot of crashed UFO stories, we have the files confirming that NASA was receiving all of these telegrams from the CIA and the State Department talking about this crash in Bolivia, so in that respect it’s a significant case.
Brent Raynes: You’ve written other books on UFOs and the paranormal. One of them was Contactees, which again was like this one. I mean, I thought initially that it was going to be a rehash of contactee stories, but when I read I thought, “Well, this is quite interesting. He’s gone into depth here and presented information that I hadn’t read before.”
Nick Redfern: Yes, I think that when we’re dealing with these historic cases we need to present a little more background data. Like with the contactee book, I tried to show how these people were being watched closely by the FBI.
Brent Raynes: With the famous contactee Howard Menger from New Jersey, back in the 1950s, there was reportedly evidence of military involvement, perhaps where he was being used for disinformation.
Nick Redfern: That’s one of the things that I tried to sort of hammer home in Contactees was that fact that a significant number of the contactees were either being watched by the FBI, or else they had some sort of official links, and it was sort of spread throughout the entire movement and you have to wonder was it some sort of government caper to make a subject look ridiculous by having people come forward saying that they had met aliens from Venus. I think that there is something to that somewhere along the line.
Brent Raynes: Right, and then there’s the very strange things that just don’t seem to fit in with the conspiracy, the weird physical anomalies and the paranormal.
Nick Redfern: Oh yeah, I actually think that a lot of people have wanted to place them in one category and I think that with the contactees you cannot do that. I think that there were genuine contactees, who had interaction with something, and then the government thought, “Well, okay there’s a real phenomenon, but we can exploit and manipulate it to perhaps create ridicule.” So, in other words, you have a real phenomenon and you have faked events, but the faked events are actually manipulating the real ones. So it’s no wonder that it’s so difficult to resolve the matter when it’s not one thing or the other, it’s the government actually exploiting a real phenomenon and creating faked incidents in the process to make the real ones look stupid. So no wonder our heads are spinning trying to find the answers.
Brent Raynes: And we know that the government is interested in these things. Look at remote viewing. They kind of kept the lid on that for a few years.
So how long have you been pursuing the UFOs and the cryptozoology?
Nick Redfern: In terms of actively writing and researching, probably something like twenty-two years. Cryptozoology, the study of unknown animals, and the UFO issue are probably the two main issues that I write about. I don’t really get involved with things like ghost hunting, pyramids or the Bermuda Triangle. There are plenty of other people delving into all of those sorts of areas.
UFOs, and the secrecy angle, and alternatives to the extraterrestrial hypothesis, particularly interest me in terms of UFOs, and also with cryptozoology. I think that there is good evidence that a lot of these so-called crypto-creatures aren’t what they appear to be at first glance, just flesh and blood animals that have conveniently hidden from society without being shot, run over, died in the woods or whatever. I think that with both UFOs and cryptozoology there is something weirder going on, and so I’m kind of drawn more to the alternative theories, and with the whole NASA thing to present evidence that NASA may have had involvements in things like Bigfoot autopsies and contactee cases where the NASA people thought that these entities were actually ancient humans rather than extraterrestrials. So I’m trying to present new ideas and paradigms that might sort of shed more light and insights into what’s going on.
I do believe that NASA went to the moon. There have been intriguing questions asked about the film footage, photographs, and things like this and the mission itself. But I do think that conspiracy theory is what we can lay to rest. Others like astronaut sightings of UFOs and crashed UFOs I think that far more has come to light so far of NASA involvement in these events. With the Face on Mars, there is no doubt in my mind now that the Face on Mars is an artificial, very, very ancient structure. We’re probably talking hundreds of thousands of years old to where we will probably never really know who built it or why. Now whether NASA prefers not to deal with the mystery or the controversy because it doesn’t know how to handle it, or it’s an engaging conspiracy, there is no doubt in my mind that that issue polarizes people into different camps. We do have people who say that NASA is hiding evidence, and other people just don’t want to deal with it because it’s such a weird can of worms, and I am kind of admittedly in two minds. I just don’t know where the penny falls, so to speak. I think there is hard evidence now that suggests that it’s an artificial structure, so what I have tried to do is not come across like a rabid conspiracy theorist along the lines that everything NASA has had any involvements in there is evidence of cover-ups. I don’t think that. I think it’s important that we try and look at things with an open and balanced mind. It’s what I’ve tried to do and to quote NASA astronauts on the way they have spoken on the record about their UFO sightings or beliefs. I think that when you have people speaking on the record that adds credibility to a subject that demands credibility. So I hope that people will see the book in that perspective and from that viewpoint and realize that I’ve tried to tell the story as best as I’ve been able to and also from a respectful perspective as well, rather than being like a demolition wreckage.
I think that with the Kecksburg UFO crash case and the Bolivian one, there is clear evidence that we have barely scratched the surface of what we know about those incidents.
Brent Raynes: There are just a lot of tantalizing things there waiting to be further explored and learned about.
Have you got another book that you’re working on at present?
Nick Redfern: I have one that should be due out in May 2011, on the subject of the Men In Black. It will explore the whole government angle versus the more paranormal and weird Men In Black angle. How do we reconcile the two? I suspect that government agencies have actually tried to exploit the weird and paranormal Men In Black motif to hide their tracks. Hopefully I’ll be able to shed more light on the early years of the MIB legend and lore and what might be at the heart of it.
Brent Raynes: Yes, the MIB is another whole interesting area right there.