Whitley's Journal

Countdown to My Special

Even though my special hasn't yet been seen, I'm already getting outraged e-letters about it. There's even a website that condemns it as "probably just another skeptic's hatchet job." Some are screaming at me for having Philip Klass on the program, others for having David Jacobs, others for daring to mention implants.

Personal likes and dislikes had nothing to do with the choices that were made for the special. This is the first time in twenty years that there has been a UFO special on one of the major networks. I would never dream of doing such a program without giving the major investigators their say- and that includes the skeptics and the ones who don't like me. Budd Hopkins and Phil Klass both get what I believe is the best public forum they have ever had. So does Dave Jacobs. Don Ecker, Jerry Clark and Michael Lindemann reveal themselves as the experts that they are, and Joe Nicholl as an articulate skeptic. Derryl Simms and Roger Leir come across as pioneers, which they certainly are.

I keep getting these e-mails accusing mainly Klass and Simms of being "disinformation agents." I can tell you, as somebody who has suffered from being falsely identified as a CIA agent, these accusations fall, in the absence of proof, on deaf ears. If you can offer documentary evidence, or as I have seen done in one or two cases in the past, strong circumstantial evidence that somebody is involved in professionally orchestrated disinformation, then do it. When this sort of thing can be proved, it is very important and useful. Anybody concerned enough to be writing me e-letters about it, why not go out and see if you can get the goods?

The construction of such a program demands that one go beyond the level of personal opinions and look at the larger issues, such as the right of the public to see as many sides of this complex situation as possible, presented as fairly as possible. This means that the skeptics have to have their say, as do the believers, and as many of the different `in betweens' as possible. It also means that people who have struggled for twenty and thirty years in this difficult field have a right, no matter how they may or may not have treated me in the past-they have a right to a fair and full display of their efforts.

I am an investigator, not a partisan. I don't really care, in the end, what causes UFOs and close encounter experiences. What I am interested in is the truth.

Which gets me to another issue. I am also criticized, more and more, for going on the Art Bell program. I'm told, `oh, you shouldn't go on that show. He has those crazies Dick Hoagland and Ed Dames on all the time, and they're a couple of liars.' I consider Art one of the great radio artists of our time. His show is the best thing that has ever happened to edge thinking, in my opinion. It is the nature of the edge to be wrong a lot of the time. If Art's guests weren't taking chances, he'd be doing something wrong. People who aren't mature enough to discriminate shouldn't be listening.

Of course Dick Hoagland and Ed Dames fly too close to the sun sometimes. But at least they have the courage to do it. It is an extraordinary thing, the courage to be wrong. I know, I've dared it a little bit myself, and it's hard. It's real hard.

And yet these guys are willing to make wild predictions before millions of people, see them fail, then come back and try again. They are speculators in the currency of the mind, and should be respected for what they do. My imagination has soared upon hearing some of Dames's prophecies and Hoagland's predictions. And when they haven't come true I've thought not that they are a couple of charlatans, but rather that they freed me to entertain some ideas that I never otherwise would have touched. I see both men as being deeply free human beings. I respect them for their wildness. But it the privacy of my own mind, I cut the cards-which I am sure most of us do. And I am sure that they respect us for that, too-indeed, that they count on us to do it.

Incidentally, on the night before the special, I'll be on Art's show in the first hour with Mark Wolper, the man who had the courage to actually buy Confirmation and put it on the air, and Robert Davi, our host. That's February 16. And on the 17th, I'll be on again in the first hour with some of the principal figures in the program to answer questions, which is some kind of a first, I think.

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