Such omissions help to give the veneer of credibility to groundless speculation. Oh, and that also happens to describe Ancient Aliens.
Rather than introduce this episode’s topic with original writing, it’s faster and more appropriate, given the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos of Ancient Aliens, to reuse a paragraph I wrote a few years ago:
The image of the Men in Black, or MIB in UFO parlance, has changed over the course of the years. The stereotypical MIB looking like a Secret Service agent is a later development. The earliest Man in Black wore a long black cloak and a hat like the Shadow. This version of the MIB was proposed by Albert Bender, credited as the inventor of the MIB. His story of encounters with the villainous entities appeared first in Gray Barker’s They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers (1956), a book that Barker would later admit he had written for cash without much concern for its factual accuracy. Bender, who investigated UFOs through his self-founded International Flying Saucers Bureau and its Space Review publication, claimed that before he could reveal the truth about the flying saucer cover up, three MIBs intimidated him into dissolving his organization. Bender would go on to give his own account in a 1962 book.
As I described in my earlier piece, the myth of the Men in Black developed from preexisting associations of men in black clothes with evil as well as the mysterious black cloaks of the Shadow, Dracula, etc. The Men in Black story is so transparently false that it seems ridiculous to have to state as much.
The episode opens with the 2018 closure of the National Solar Observatory for a day. We get a bunch of conspiracy theories that a “top secret police force” shut it down to hide proof of an alien signal from the sun or something like that. The show claims that employees were pressured not to speak of the closure, but in a statement issued after the event, the observatory stated that the silence was intended to avoid alerting a criminal suspect at the observatory. The “top secret police force” were actually the FBI.
Next, the show goes way back to the Maury Island Incident of 1947, which the show takes very seriously despite the fact that the FBI investigated the incident in 1947 and the perpetrators admitted to hoaxing the supposed UFO encounter and subsequent recovery of UFO wreckage. The wreckage was tested and determined to be industrial waste. The show summarizes the involvement of Kenneth Arnold and Fate magazine publisher Ray Palmer, and the show alleges that government documents prove that this was no hoax but that the claim of a hoax had been concocted to cover up the truth. They are willfully misrepresenting the documents, which I have helpfully published in full. The men involved literally admitted that Palmer was the driving force behind the events. The men, the FBI said, “each stated that the only thing he had done was tell [Ray] PALMER the [metal] formations could have come from a flying disc in view of the fact it appeared ‘that’s what he wanted them to say.’” The final FBI report states bluntly that “The case is considered a hoax and no other action was deemed necessary.” The plane that crashed with investigators on board wasn’t purposely downed to hide the truth; the industrial waste it carried to investigate the incident was believed to have combusted.
The next segment describes the 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron, founded in the 1950s to investigate UFO reports in the hope of recovering crashed Soviet technology and other intelligence that could be gleaned from aerial events. UFO believers often identify this short-lived team of investigators as the “real’ Men in Black, though the 4602 was disbanded before Barker had made Men in Black into a part of ufology. The show alleges that the same group reorganized under a new name. The show does not explain why there are so many crashed UFOs that America was finding them every few months, or how not one of these UFOs crashed anywhere near a camera, or why, for that matter, they didn’t seem to crash in countries whose governments wouldn’t have cared if someone reported a flying saucer.
Following this, the show describes Gray Barker’s book and his subsequent promotion of the Mothman story, later popularized by John Keel’s sensational and not very accurate Mothman Prophecies. Why? Oh, who knows? Supposedly “cadaverous” figures in black tried to suppress the story. Why? Again, who knows? Joe Nickell fairly clearly demonstrated that the Mothman was just an owl.
The episode then descends into a catalog of UFO sightings and their supposed connection to “black” helicopters. Yeah, we’re right back to the 1990s X-Files conspiracy theories again. Most of the back half of the show is devoted the so-called Cash-Landrum incident in which some people claimed a UFO made them sick and sued the government. Medical records failed to support the claim. Cash, for example, had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease believed to have started before the supposed encounter.
Giorgio Tsoukalos claims that the Men in Black movies are designed to reveal the “truth” through fiction, and David Childress alleges that the movie’s memory-wiping device is real. Mike Bara alleges that the Men in Black are controlling our “consciousness-raising timeline,” which seems to contrast with Nick Pope’s concern that the Men in Black are “intimidating” us into silence. The narrator says that they are working to “keep us in the dark,” and I guess the whole point is to justify the fact that Ancient Aliens has never uncovered any evidence in support of their claims. Actually, they did—it’s just been wiped from your mind and replaced with memories of stupid people pretending movies are real.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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