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Investigating Paranormal And Extraterrestrial Phenomena

Frogs have fallen from the sky so often, it's hardly even a paranormal phenomenon. In 1804 in Toulouse, France, it rained tiny toads. Frogs landed in London in 1954, and there have been more than 50 reported incidents in Australia since 1879.

As recently as 1997, live toads dropped on Villa Angel Flores in Mexico. Fish, too, frequently plummet from the skies; in 1967 they rained down on Louisiana, and in 1984 Dover sole fell on the East End of London. Other creatures cascading from above have included snails, shellfish, worms, maggots, snakes and-none too surprising-birds.

The most frequently given reason is that a tornado has sucked them from their habitat and dropped them miles away-&although why it only picks one species at a time is something of a mystery.

Back in the Middle Ages, Gregory of Tours recorded in his History of the Franks that in 582 "real blood had rained from a cloud" in Paris, causing people to tear off their wet clothes in horror. Locarno, Switzerland, was pelted with blood rain in 1775, and in 1968 red rain covered southern England.

Predictably, people get a bit upset when this sort of thing happens. The phenomenon is attributed to reddish Saharan dust particles swept up by strong winds. In the same way, yellow rain is usually chalked up to a diabolical mixture of sulfur and pollen, while black rain can be caused by pollution or volcanic activity. Purple rain is only encountered in Paisley Park, Minnesota.

Nothing impresses a woman like a cool job. So she loves the supernatural, but your only paranormal primer is Ghostbusters. No problem: Approach the field from a scientific standpoint and you'll sound like the Special Agent Mulder 50 bajillion women have always longed for.

Like The X-Files' cult icon, Keith Harary has been surrounded by the unexplained since his youth: When he was a teenager, researchers told Harary he had psychic abilities, and he once worked on a top-secret government project called Stargate, a program that researched "psychic spies."

Today he studies "human perception" and claims of paranormal phenomena. "It's important to say -.claims of' because I've never actually seen a ghost," Harary says. Same goes for UFOs, little green men, and the Vampire Lestat. Says Harary, "I keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out."

Harary has spent much of his career debunking claims of psychic ability, hauntings, and other paranormal experiences. "I was called in by one medical center after people working the late shift in their records department started reporting strange phenomena. One saw a female figure walk down a row of shelves and disappear; another took a nap and was awoken by a presence." In the end Harary discovered the center wasn't haunted-its overstressed work force was simply wigging out. "It's called paranormal hysteria-one stressed person thinks he sees something, and suddenly they're all experiencing a haunting."

Paranormal investigating can get dangerous: Scared neighbors once tried to set fire to an allegedly haunted house Harary was investigating. During an investigation if you feel threatened, leave immediately. Respect for what we are investigating should be the highest thing on our list.

Psychic Babble

  • Ghostbuster: Totally inept paranormal investigator; believer.
  • Hypnagogic state: The delirious moments as you're falling asleep; it's in this state that people often experience visions and other unexplained phenomena.
  • Mental noise: The garbage that collects in your brain and distracts you when you're trying to use your psychic abilities.
  • Marshmallow ghost: Apparition caused by paranormal hysteria-in other words, a thing people see because they're wigging out.
  • Jim Jones character: Somebody fishing for disciples by using phony demonstrations of psychic ability and supernatural powers.

A Nice Paranormal Conversation

If she asks: "Do you believe in ghosts?"
You answer: "I'm not a believer per se, but I don't deny the possibility of supernatural entities. You, for instance, are an angel."

If she asks: "What's the spookiest thing you've seen?"
You answer: "I never knew what real terror was until-&No, I can't. [Shudder dramatically] I think we need another round."

If she asks: "Can you help me contact my dead Uncle Ray?"
You answer: "No, but do you like poets? I can put you in touch with Longfellow ..."

Harary recommends a tape recorder and a video recorder for interviewing witnesses. Other tools of this trade are a Maglite flashlight to illuminate the inevitable dark spaces, a parabolic mike for picking up faint noises and ghostly whispers, an easy-to-read-while-shaking-in-your-boots digital watch with an illuminated face, and a digital thermometer for mysterious cold spots.

The X Files was a 1993 television show on the Fox Television Network. The show involved the FBI's investigation of fictional cases concerning "paranormal phenomena". The FBI was not contacted during the filming of this television program.

The hugely popular TV series The X-Files, was about an intrepid conspiracy theorist who risked his life investigating paranormal and extraterrestrial phenomena along with partner. "I believe that we are probably not alone. It doesn't really make sense that this would be the only planet with life. Yet if we have been contacted by aliens I don't believe that anybody could have kept that a secret. I don't believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life. Of course, there's always the possibility that the aliens have been taking our memories away," says David Duchovny.

Another unusual phenomenon is unraveling. The truth, it seems, is out there. And it can be found where special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully might never look - on the FBI's own Web site. The agency has been quietly posting documents on the Net about reported unidentified flying objects, alleged alien abductions, and unexplained animal mutilations. More than 1,600 pages dating back to the 1940s are now public on the site, although most contain blacked-out passages and missing names.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) files may not reveal all there is to know about the possibility of life on other planets, but they give true believers - and even skeptics - a peek at the government's investigations into decades of mysterious sightings.

Included in the batch are random reports, such as a September 19, 1947 memo to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover regarding "flying discs" near Seattle, Washington. "[A man] sighted a silver object streaking across the sky," the memo states. "It was observed by these three people while they drove from 20 to 30 miles. All three people saw it, they decided they must be 'seeing things.'"

There also is only one document about the infamous craft that reportedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. A July 1947 memo to the FBI office in Cincinnati about the craft states, "The object resembles a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector? Disc and balloon being transported to Wright Field by special place examination? National interest in case? National Broadcasting Company, Associated Press, and others attempting to break story of location of disc today."

On the site there are 12 pages from "Project Blue Book," the Air Force program to investigate UFOs, which was shut down in 1969 on grounds that "there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as 'unidentified' are extraterrestrial."

It's no coincidence that the documents were released the same year Walter Andrus started investigating UFOs. He is glad to see the FBI opening its files, but he doesn't expect to find much. All the files posted on the site were at one point made public to individuals or organizations such as the Mutual UFO Network, which he founded in 1968. "They don't make things convenient even if they say they do," Andrus said.

Even if the FBI Net documents aren't the real X-files, some fans of the TV show are glad to see part of the real-life mystery being unveiled. Still, Andrus of the Mutual UFO Network suggested that the FBI's Web site itself could be part of a bigger government conspiracy. "The U.S. government has lied for over 50 years about UFOs and now no one wants to be put in the position to admit that," Andrus said. "So they have elected to leak the information out gradually. This latest FBI release is just part of that tactic."

Liar, Liar: Phantom's Menace. Maxim [Print + Kindle] . October 1999.

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