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Features: Interviews

 

John Keel R.I.P.

A 1992 interview with the late, great chronicler of the strange



Long ago, in days of yore, I was part of a team which called itself the Independent UFO Network. As well as producing the best UFO magazine in the business (UFO Brigantia), the IUN staged a series of successful conferences in Sheffield that showcased some of the biggest names in world UFOlogy, including Bill Moore, Stan Friedman, Budd Hopkins and Jenny Randles. But for the conference we organised in August 1992 we had the biggest name of all: American journalist and author John A. Keel. As far as I know this was his one and only UK appearance. Ever since I was a child I had been a fan of his writings, particularly his account of investigating the bizarre "Mothman" and sinister Men In Black flap in West Virginia during 1966-67. Although Keel's presentation at the IUN conference was centred upon that modern UFO cause célèbre, Roswell, rather than the anticipated Mothman, it gave us the opportunity to interview the man we felt had been one of the key influences of a UFOlogical generation. The transcript of the interview that follows was originally published in UFO Brigantia, issue 53/54, 1992.

––David Clarke


Ever since I was about 11 years old and read Keel’s first book, Jadoo, I was obsessed by him. I later found out that others felt like that too. He's one of the few people to have revolutionized how we think about ufology and strange phenomena generally, and I’d long wanted him to speak at a UK UFO conference. Although debilitated by jetlag, the effects of diabetes and the unwanted attentions of the Men in Black from BUFORA, Keel still managed to give a stirring speech to the troops which left many people leaving the hall shaking their heads and muttering, "That's wiped the floor with Bill Moore's explanation for Roswell." This was the first time he had ever publicly spoken in the UK. I spoke to Keel at length over the three days he spent in Sheffield and learned many things, some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn't. But what struck me overall was Keel’s grasp of ufology, his perspective and his sense of humour. When the conference was over I managed to get a ‘formal’ interview with John - here it is.



––Andy Roberts


Andy Roberts: John, could you tell me how you first became interested in Fortean subjects, and UFOs in particular?



John Keel: It was so long ago. You know, I read Charles Fort when I was very young, when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was reading Amazing Stories in those days too, and they were getting letters to Amazing Stories about thing people had seen in the sky – this is before 1947 – and I was writing a newspaper column at that time for my home town newspaper and I did a couple of columns on that kind of thing, lights in the sky and people who saw contrails high over head and thought that that was some kind of spaceship or something. In those days, in the Forties, contrails were very rare; an airplane usually has to be high altitude to leave a contrail. Anyway, I was around when the whole UFO thing broke and I remember I was standing in a carnival in my home town and I was in the middle of the midway and a friend of mine came up and said, "Hey Keel, have you seen this newspaper story about this guy out West who saw some strange things over the mountains?" and it was like a shock to me, I thought, "Oh my God, it's starting." I remember thinking that, that it's starting now, and of course that was the beginning, that was the Arnold story but I hadn't yet seen it in the papers. The Kenneth Arnold report did not get much play in the papers in the North-East; it was mostly in the West. It took a while for it to reach the East in the magazines and so on.



AR: Do you think the Arnold sighting and the subsequent UFO hysteria was a bit of a reaction to WWII? The world had been used to Earth-threatening excitement for several years and then peace broke out. Do you think we were waiting for 'something' perhaps and that the Arnold sighting triggered that 'something'?



JK: Yeah, but it was also what we called the silly season. In the newspaper business in those days the summer months were very slow news-wise. So they would seize on something like that. One year it would be Loch Ness Monster sightings, the next year it would be UFOs. We don't really have a silly season any more, we have a silly season the year round now.



AR: What did you believe UFOs were at that time?



JK: I assumed, after reading Fort, that they must be spaceships. Fort didn't really come right out and advocate the ET thesis but he said there was something there and that it had been around for a long time because he'd traced reports all the way back and Fort was very persuasive if you could get through his style. He had an odd style of writing, a humorous style which a lot of people to this day don't quite comprehend.



AR: Do you think you've copied your style in any way from Fort's? You have also got a very distinctive writing style which I think 'tricks' people intentionally into believing...

JK: I sort of sometimes satirise Fort. Fort used to use certain phrases like, “I have a theory, that the stars are hanging from strings and the sky is only 800 feet up,” and that would be a joke and people would seriously quote that and say, "Well Charles Fort thinks the stars are hanging on strings." But I think my own style sort of evolved over the years. I was writing a humorous column as a kid. The way I got into the writing business was I wrote a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper – I was about 12 years old – he thought it was a very funny letter and he called me into his office and he asked me to write a column and we called it 'Scraping the Keel': it was a column of alleged humour and I would make little kind of childish jokes and it was quite popular, so in my little hometown of about 5000 people, in a very short time I was the most famous person in town. Then I started the high school newspaper there and I called it The Jester because I was making fun of the school, let's face it. Then when I turned sixteen I got so bored with school because in this town’s school there were no courses left for me to take. I took all the science courses in one year, courses that were considered the toughest courses, chemistry and physics and so on. I passed them like that, and the only courses left were an agricultural course, but I wasn't about to become a farmer, and a business course, but I wasn't really interested in business, and so I left school when I was sixteen and I started writing full time, or as much as I could, I was working on the farm too. I started sending stories to the magazines in New York City and sooner or later people started sending me cheques! My first cheque was for two dollars. And I was really thrilled by that and by the time I was seventeen I had sold quite a few short pieces for a very small amount of money and I decided that I was going to go to New York and make my fortune. So I left my family - they didn't believe I was going to go to New York, they thought, "Well, he'll be back tomorrow." I arrived in New York with 75 cents, and didn't know a soul except editors that I'd corresponded with but didn't know well enough to socialise with. I was just a country bumpkin in the big city, but there was one magazine editor that owed me some money and I went to see him and I thought I'd be able to live on this money for a while because they owed me quite a lot of money. Quite a lot was like 30 dollars.
But they were going broke and they paid me off 50 cents at a time and so I would go up there every day and get my 50 cents and I slept on park benches, I did all the homeless things but in those days you were safe, today you'd get murdered the second day. Can you imagine a seventeen-year-old boy in a big dangerous city like New York?
I quickly settled in Greenwich Village where all the artists and writers were, and within two weeks I knew everybody and I became editor of a poetry magazine, had a little office there in Greenwich Village, and that's how it all started.



AR: When did you start travelling?



JK: That was years later, when I was drafted into the army during the Korean War. Instead of shipping me to Korea they shipped me to Germany , which was a very good move on their part, ’cause they were shooting people in Korea! They assigned me to a radio station in Germany – I’d done some work in radio in New York, and in TV, which was just beginning there – and the army, believe it or not, they saw my record there and they assigned to a radio station: in fact, the biggest radio station in the world at that time, American Forces Network. I started writing radio programmes for them and within one year I was promoted to the chief of productions for the whole network; 20, 21 years old and I'm practically running the whole network! Then when my two years in the army were up they offered me a civilian job and I had a choice – return to New York or stay with the army, and I stayed another year as a civilian in Frankfurt and they gave me a nice apartment and a very good salary and so on. But I used to dream up my own assignments. I sent myself off to Egypt to do a broadcast from the Great Pyramid! We had a soldiers’ singing contest where I had to go around to all the army camps in Europe and pick out the best singer in each army camp and so I took a tour of France! I had a chauffeured limousine that took me around France and I judged this singing contest, but that was just one of the many, many scams that I had going.



AR: Sounds like Sergeant Bilko!



JK: I also did a radio broadcast from the Castle of Frankenstein – there really is a Castle Frankenstein – I did a Halloween broadcast from there, which was a very big success, the newspapers and magazines like Time compared me to Orson Welles because Orson Welles had pulled off this famous Halloween programme of 1938. So by now Stars and Stripes was always writing about me and running pictures of me and I was suddenly the most famous soldier in Germany! But after being there as a civilian for a year they offered me a better contract to stay on and then I had a big decision. Whether to stay there, forever – I could still be over there! But I decided that I would take a wild chance and take the money I had saved and go around the world, which I had always wanted to do. I especially wanted to visit India. So I took my savings and I left Germany and I went first back to Egypt where I'd done the broadcast from the Great Pyramid.



AR: Any particular reason why you went back to Egypt? 



JK: Because I felt a strong relationship to Egypt, a lot of people feel that, it's rather mysterious, you almost feel like your ancestors are from Egypt. I've heard other people talk about it too, although I felt no kinship at all to the modern Arabs, the modern Egyptians, but I felt something about the land of Egypt. I really felt a strong relationship to it. So I lived there for almost a year.



AR: Was it during this time that you saw the UFO at the Aswan Dam?


JK: I saw a UFO at the old Aswan Dam, they later built a new one, but there was an old Aswan Dam and I was down there and there were a lot of people around, there must have been a scattering of like a hundred people all visiting the dam and so on, and we saw this circular thing that was spinning. It appeared in a clear blue sky and this was in 1954. Later I found out there were sightings all over the Middle East at that time, and of course 1954 was a very big year in France and I think Britain was also included. That was a major year. This thing that I saw was like the Saturn-shaped objects you've seen drawings of. In other words, it appeared the centre of it was not moving but the outside was spinning. A very odd thing and various people were looking at it with me and I asked some of them what they thought it was and what the altitude was.... and everyone had a different answer. You had 200 witnesses and you had 200 different answers! I thought it was about 200-300 feet in the air, but some people thought it was 1000 feet, 5000 feet and because you don't know the size of the thing you can't judge the altitude of it. Right there, in two seconds, I was convinced that flying saucers existed! There was no way anybody could ever tell me after that that there's no such thing as flying saucers.


AR: Where did you go from Egypt?



JK: I lived in Egypt for a while, and then I moved on across the desert. I went to Baghdad and I arrived broke in Baghdad which had become my normal condition because I had an agent in New York who would send me money and sometimes the money would be delayed or some SNAFU. I was broke in Baghdad and I quickly learned, whenever I was broke, to check into the most expensive hotel and because I was an American and had that famous green passport they never questioned me and just thought, "Hey, he's an American, he must be filthy rich!” So I would check into the best hotel and eat in their restaurants until the money came through and I never got questioned once! From Baghdad I took the long trip down through the Persian Gulf on some kind of funny boat and ended up in India and then I spent a great deal of time in India because it's a fascinating country.



AR: In Jadoo you traveled through India, sort of debunking the so-called paranormal events such as life burials, snake charmers and the rope-trick and so on. Could you tell us a little about that?



JK: I always had a childhood interest in magic and I continue to this day to have an interest in magic, and I wanted to find the famous street magicians of India and when I did find street magicians they were all doing card tricks! Which they had bought by mail from London! It was very hard to find anyone doing the famous Indian tricks. I searched for the Indian Rope Trick and I found various forms of it being performed but they were not the authentic Indian Rope Trick. They were little faked tricks for the tourists.



AR: What was so special about snake-charming?



JK: Snake charming had always fascinated me as a kid on the farm. I started studying herpetology and reading books on the subject and I had a neighbour who used to go out and catch rattlesnakes and sell them to some company that needed rattlesnakes. I used to go out with him and so at a very early age I learned quite a lot about snakes and reptiles. So I actually studied snake charming with some of these snake charmers except there's not much to study because the charmer is blowing a pipe and moving his hands back and forth and the snake is trying to strike at his hands. The snake can't hear so it's all showmanship, the people watching think the snake is dancing to the tune of the pipe but the snake is just trying to kill the piper!



AR: Did anything unusual happen to you whilst in India?



JK: I had many fortean-type experiences in India. One strange thing that happened more than once was strange people would come up to me and say that they’d been waiting for me to appear – this was probably baloney and they were saying, "There's an American tourist, let's take him for big bucks". I got very sophisticated very fast. I went into the Himalayan Mountains because at that time, in the Fifties, there was a lot of publicity about the Abominable Snowman. There were a number of expeditions into the mountains looking for the Snowman, I think the Daily Mail in London sent an expedition, and I figured I might be able to get a photograph of the Abominable Snowman and sell it to Life magazine or something. So I went into the mountains and to the little country of Sikkim and I crossed the border into Tibet, not very far though ’cause I'm six feet tall and Tibetans are four feet tall, and the Chinese were in there and they would see this six foot tall guy and say, "That is not a real Tibetan." At least I could say I'd been to Tibet.



AR: Whilst in Jadoo you debunk all the common or garden yogic tricks, when you get into the Himalayas you seem to become less sceptical and have some experiences of the 'remote viewing' which the monks do. Any comment on that?



JK: I was very impressed with what some of these monks, lamas, were doing. They seemed to know every move that I was making. It was like I was being watched through the whole trip and so I would arrive at a monastery and they were expecting me and they had dinner ready! I was quite impressed with a lot of that.



AR: How do you think they did it - was it because of the time they spent training their minds?



JK: Yeah - what else is there to do there?! I had the experience of running into a lama on a snow covered mountain and he was almost stark naked and he didn't mind the cold at all. They weren't surprised to see me and in some of these areas, this is in the Fifties, they had never seen a white man before. I think in Sikkim at that time there had only been 400 white men throughout their history in that little country. Nepal was practically inaccessible and Bhutan was inaccessible. You could cross into Bhutan and never come out again.



AR: Did you actually see the Yeti?



JK: I was with some natives… I hate to use the word ‘natives’… I was with some of the people who lived there, and I was the stranger. And across the lake we saw a brown figure; a large brown figure moving around in the brush across the lake and the natives with me said that was a Yeti. Now it could have been a bear, or it could have been anything but they told me it was a Yeti because they knew it would make me happy and so that was my Yeti! I saw the Yeti footprints a couple of times, the famous Yeti footprints which are huge. If you see the footprints you say "Well maybe I don't wanna meet this guy". 


AR: Do you believe Yeti exists in the physical realm?


JK: Then I did, yes. Although all of the stories about the Yeti which I heard from different people seemed very demonic. They believed it was bad luck to see one of them. Everybody had a story to tell about the Yeti in those days, everybody who lived in those areas. But now I'm not so sure the Yeti is a real animal. At that time I was absolutely convinced.


AR: I know you don't want to talk about the Mothman but I'll just ask one question. I'm still puzzled by one bit of The Mothman Prophecies, the chapter entitled ‘Beelzebub Visits West Virginia’ where you relate the story of how you called at a house to make a phone call and because you were not from the area people misidentified you as the Devil! Is this part of your tricking device which continues through the book – to make people see that everything isn't as it seems?


JK: As you know, the book was written several years after the events and it was very difficult to get a New York publisher interested in it. I needed a strong opening and this was a true story. My car had run off the road on a very rainy night and I was dressed in a necktie and a full suit – you didn’t see that very often on back roads in West Virginia, a black suit – and I went around pounding on doors to get somebody to call a truck for me. It turned out that the people who finally made the call were among the people that were on the bridge that later collapsed. The day after I knocked on their door, they told everybody they knew that a strange man in a black suit and a beard, which was rare in those days, had called and he must have been the devil, so that made me part of folklore and I found years later that people were still telling that story of the devil who had come around to these houses on this back road.


AR: I think that says a lot about human beings. The majority of your Virginia sightings seem to have been just odd blobs of light into which people read something else – are you saying, then, that we live in an environment which still has many hidden, but natural, mysteries which we interact with and interpret?


JK: Yeah, we seem to be surrounded by an almost invisible world that can manipulate us in any way. In fact, I just had a letter before I left New York., from a man named Henry Belk. His family are very rich, they own a chain of 400 stores in the south, and Henry for many years has been investigating psychic surgery, that's his thing. I was astonished to get this letter the other day: he said that after all these years investigating psychic surgery, he had decided that the psychic surgery was being done by an invisible force. The surgeon was just an instrument for it and Henry is evolving now a whole theory about invisible entities and so on and for him, he's very scientifically oriented, it's a surprising thing for him to come out with.


AR: Do you think that this phenomenon, the one behind the lights, helping psychic surgeons and so on, do you think it is conscious or merely reactive?



JK: When I was investigating UFOs, I realised that somebody was playing games with us – in fact, there's a chapter in Operation Trojan Horse about the Cosmic Jokers, a phrase which caught on, by the way, and people all over the world are using that phrase, 'Cosmic Jokers', now. You get involved in a situation which seems very real at the time and then as it progresses, if you're smart enough, you realise somebody's playing a joke on you and it has no meaning at all. Now some people are too dumb to realise that and then it just keeps growing and developing because this phenomena sort of feeds on it.



AR: Can you give us an example of how that manifested itself to you? 



JK: Yeah. 'They' had me running around New York looking for a mysterious gold cross…

AR: Shades of psychic questing!

JK: … that if I could find this gold cross I would save the world! And for a while I was playing these games. A very well-known American ufologist named Ted Bloecher spent 30 years of his life… he's in the theatre, he's a song and dance man, but he spent 30 years of his life spending all his spare time researching UFOs and he would be with a dance troupe in a small town and he'd go to the newspaper and go through their files and get all their UFO reports. Well he finally got involved in some contactee stories in New York State where there were landings and UFOs supposedly contacting people and so on, and he got deeper and deeper into these and then it finally occurred to him that somebody was playing with him, that it wasn't real, that it was a joke that they were playing on him and that whatever his interpretation was the phenomenon would then mould itself to it. So he quit ufology, and he's made statements to people that he's very sorry that he spent 30 years on it, he regrets now that he wasted 30 years when he could have been out chasing women or whatever.



AR: Do you think there was any connection between the collapse of the Silver Bridge in The Mothman Prophecies and what was going on?



JK: Well some of the people who died on the bridge were people who'd seen the Mothman and it was all very strange, there were millions of coincidences and strange, interrelated events; for example, there was a family in West Virginia with the rather unusual name of Walmsley, who were an integral part of the Mothman mystery because several people in this family had seen the Mothman – as you know, in small towns in America one family will have 300 different units in the area, cousins and grandparents and so on. Well in Budd Hopkins' first book he talks about the first UFO sighting in New Jersey that he got interested in and it's the Walmsley family in New Jersey! And a couple of the Walmsley people in West Virginia went down with the bridge. There does seem to be a lot of things interacting with us on this planet that we don't...

AR: Why that particular area, why West Virginia for so many strange occurrences?



JK: We're not smart enough to figure it out! Some of these things of course have no meaning at all and some of them, there may be real meaning, like these two men who materialised on a street to a women, dressed in clothing that was way out of fashion, clothes from the Forties and these men seemed very odd and sinister to her - they may have been on a special mission of some sort. Their mission was to go to a store and buy all the Keel books and take 'em back to the next dimension!



AR: In several of your books you mention that you've been contacted by witches and magicians who've had similar experiences to you. Do you think that's perhaps because witches and magicians can manipulate, 'call up' if you like, these energies by the power of emotion?



JK: They have studied the same thing but they haven't studied it from a ufological point of view. They've studied in from almost a religious point of view. Incidentally, in Point Pleasant where the Mothman was appearing, after all the publicity that Mothman received the town was inundated with witchcraft cults and things and the walls of the power plant where the Mothman was first seen are now covered with graffiti from witches and magicians – pentacles and that kind of thing.



AR: Do you think that as a result of an interaction with an invisible environment, humans are actually meant to understand the universe and its mysteries, or are we fighting a losing battle we’re doomed to play: as you say in one of your books, "It's the only game in town"?



JK: I think the human race is going very slowly, step by step, towards some goal that we don't understand – I think you can see in the last forty years how we have evolved, with our New Age movements and things. Now this doesn't mean the whole human race, it means a fragment of the human race has gotten an understanding they didn't have before. It really started in 1848 with the Fox sisters and spiritualism. That was the first real new age movement. A lot of other things happened in 1848, but it was like that one was the beginning and whatever the phenomenon is it's outside of us, so each generation is carried a step further but our generation doesn't matter. As you know, many of our ufologists are now dead and they died without knowing anything about all of this. Some of them carried it a little step forward. It may take another hundred years or another five hundred years before we know what this ultimate goal is.



AR: Have you any ideas what Man's 'ultimate goal' may be?



JK: Well, a very smart fellow, an Englishman by the way, named Arthur C. Clarke, wrote a book called Childhood's End which is about this very thing, about the evolution of the human race until the logical end of evolution, a spiritual state and no longer a physical state. I have come to think that that's true too, that our physical bodies are very limited and very fragile and not worth very much, but our spiritual existence, whatever it is - we don't understand it, is the key, and if there's such a thing as evolution and reincarnation and so on it's the endurance of this fragment of energy that we each carry around with us.



AR: Do you think it's connected to the Earth in any way? In your talk last night the first slide you showed was of the Earth from space and that's the first time I've ever heard a spontaneous round of applause during a lecture at a UK UFO conference.


JK: Yeah, I think it's the Earth. The American Indians, you know, believed that they were part of the Earth, that the Earth owned them, and that they didn't own the Earth and I think that's probably true. I think the Indians and a lot of these so-called primitive people had a great understanding of all this and it was unfortunately lost when the white man came over. Look what happened to the Indians in South America, we destroyed their written records in the name of religion. On Easter Island they had written records and the first thing that the Spanish priests did when they arrived there was destroy the written records as being the “work of the devil”.



AR: A long time ago, I don't know if you can remember it, you once said in the pages of Fortean Times that, "We are the source of the phenomenon." Have you anything to say on that, for instance about contactees, are we contacting ourselves?



JK: It's like do you hear the sound of a tree falling in a forest? If we weren't here would there be UFOs here? I think the UFOs are definitely connected directly to us and we're only seeing what they want us to see, what we think we're seeing.



AR: Who are the 'they' then?



JK: It's a force. I tried to define it in very simple terms in my book The Cosmic Question. I also went into the problem of mystical illumination which has always fascinated me because it happened to me when I was eighteen. When I was living in New York as an eighteen year old, I was living in a furnished room and I woke up one night and the whole room was bathed in this very peculiar light. I thought the building was on fire! Then I started having… you can't call them hallucinations… a flood of material was coming into my mind, and suddenly I understood everything. I swear I understood the meaning of everything, how the world was created, how it was going to end. I knew it all! And I said, "This is terrific, boy, I'll write this all down tomorrow when I wake up," and the next day, of course, when I woke up I couldn't remember anything! I remember the experience and I remember the room being bathed in the light but I couldn't remember any of this material, it must have entered into my unconscious mind. 
And for thirty years I thought I was the only person in the world that had had this experience, I never mentioned it to anybody, and then I started reading some of this stuff about cosmic illumination and started meeting other people who'd had the same experience, and I realised that many people in each generation have this experience and many of them don't necessarily do anything with it, and for others it changes their whole life.



AR: In what way?



JK: They become teachers, scientists, politicians. I think John F. Kennedy had probably had that experience and I think also that if someone like JFK has the experience it dooms them - he got into his position of president too soon. He would have changed the world. If he had lived there would have been no Vietnam, there would have been a major space programme because he would have diverted all the money for warfare into the space programme, which was his plan, and we would be on Mars now.



AR: Do you think this is why contactees often ‘self destruct’, because they have 'the secret' and want to do something with it – they try to do it too fast and they burn out?



JK: No, contactees only get part of the experience. For contactees it's like false illumination. They only get part of it and they get crazy, they misinterpret it. There are a lot of people in religion who have this experience and put it to good use. It’s the reason a lot of priests and nuns and holy people get into religion, they have this experience and they spend their lives helping other people. Mystical illumination is a very important key to this and there are books on it, books written by people who've had the experience, books by people who've studied the experience. A Dr. Bucke wrote the first book on it in the early 1900s and after he wrote the book he slipped on ice, hit his head and killed himself. There are many people who have the experience and don't necessarily remember seeing a light or seeing anything, it just happens to them and they change overnight and they don’t know why.



AR: What do you think about the current fascination in the USA for the extraterrestrial hypothesis?



JK: Well, it's been a propaganda campaign, it's been a very small group of people propagandising this, proselytising a new religion – the new religion is this notion that there are extraterrestrials out there. Now science, on the other hand, has backed away from the whole extraterrestrial thing. In the Sixties, many scientists thought that there was a very good chance that there were extraterrestrials – Carl Sagan, for example, founded exobiology. Arthur C. Clarke has made a number of statements in the past few years saying that he no longer believes there is any chance for extraterrestrials to exist. The ET premise has been promoted by the movies and by the UFO buffs, and the average person in the street now sort of accepts it, because they haven't given much thought to it and they've seen the movies or they've heard UFO buffs on the radio or TV and they say, “Well that makes sense, we're being visited by extraterrestrials.” They just simply accept it. 



AR: Do you think the US government has the faintest idea about UFOs or is the only cover-up one of ignorance?



JK: I think they're pretty dumb about this. I've spent a lot of time trying to find files that would really have significant material in, and I've known a lot of people in the government and in the military, and there are a lot of people who are interested in the subject but there's never been any unified effort to study it or discover anything, and how do you study it without actually making contact with the UFOs? So the UFO buffs have kind of dreamed up a whole fantasy world where they think the government has made deals with the UFOs. That's just the UFO buff’s way out, of protecting himself – if he didn't think that, then he would be in a very vulnerable position as a UFO buff, so he says that the reason that we don't know anything about UFOs is because the government is keeping it quiet. The alternative to that is the reason we don't know anything about UFOs is they don't exist.



AR: In Operation Trojan Horse you issue a warning to people wishing to become ufologists, basically warning them off the whole idea. What brought this on, and do you still hold the same position?



JK: Yeah, in a lot of my speeches I usually end up with a statement like that. I usually point out that individuals and civilian organisations don't have the expertise or the money to do anything, and that it's a waste of time to try to investigate these things. The best they can do is go and sit on a hill and watch the lights in the sky, and say, “Hey, there goes one!” In order to really investigate this you might need twenty million dollars, to build the right instruments. This is a big project and I don't think even the government has ever undertaken that. I don't think any government has ever undertaken that. The governments around the world all assumed the American government was going to do it. You may remember in the Seventies Idi Amin – remember good old Idi Amin? – well in Uganda they were seeing UFOs all the time and Idi Amin had his ambassador to the UN stand up in the UN and say, “Hey, do something about this!” It was a famous speech at the UN, and of course the UN officials said, “What are we going to use for money?” and “Where are we going to find the experts?” When you think about it, there isn't a single real expert on UFOs in the world, because nobody has had that kind of experience to be an expert. You can be an expert on submarines because they’re tangible, you can study the structure of submarines and you can ride in a submarine and all that, but nobody can really do that with a UFO. So if a UFO landed tomorrow in Trafalgar Square, who would the British government call in to study it? It would be a big problem. As I said, they would probably have to call in first of all aeronautical designers – you wouldn't call in physicists and astronomers – and if there were beings on board you would call in your very best medical people, forensic pathologists and biologists. The last person you would call in would be a ufologist, ’cause he'd be useless, he'd stand there and stare and say, “My god, it's real!”



AR: Are they real then?



JK: I'm talking about the lights and things. People do see something because I’ve seen them myself, but I don’t think they are machines.



AR: One final question John, which I’m sure an awful lot of British ufologists have wanted to ask you for a long time. Just why didn’t the moon come up on the night of April 3rd 1967? (Note to baffled readers: consult your copy of The Mothman Prophecies).



JK: (laughs) Yeah, I got the information from the local newspaper; I put that in almost as a joke because it was a humorous incident. I’d seen the moon the night before and then that night there was no moon – and also one night I saw the moon come up and I thought it was a flying saucer. A lot of people have done just that I’m sure.



AR: Thanks John, a most interesting interview.




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John Keel at the 1992 IUN conference. Photo by David Clarke.

 

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