Should Public Libraries Promote Stan Gordon's Bigfoot-UFO Conspiracy Theories?
This morning I read an interesting diatribe by the pseudonymous Annoyed Librarian in the Library Journal in which he criticizes the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville, Penn. for inviting longtime UFO researcher Stan Gordon to deliver a presentation on flying saucers at the library. The presentation occurred on Saturday, and it isn’t really the kind of thing I’d comment on except that I couldn’t get over the title of Gordon’s book: Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook.
Gordon claims to have been involved in ufology since 1959, and his reputation rests on his “investigation” of the 1965 Kecksburg UFO “crash.” Although mainstream sources attributed the fireball seen December 9 of that year to a meteor or to a failed Soviet satellite, Gordon believes that a spacecraft shaped like a beehive (or a turd, frankly) crashed in Pennsylvania. The programs Nazi UFO Conspiracy (2008 on Discovery, now airing on American Heroes) and Ancient Aliens (S04E09, 2012) claimed that the craft was in fact a Nazi time machine that moved forward from WWII to 1965 before exploding. The Science Channel’s Dark Matters (2011) concurred, but thought it was more likely due to Nazi antigravity technology rather than time travel. Still: Flying space Nazis.
Gordon, of course, uncovered no actual UFO wreckage despite becoming famous for investigating the case and appearing on dozens of conspiracy-oriented TV programs, including—and this is only a partial list--Unsolved Mysteries, Inside Edition, A Current Affair, Creepy Canada, Alien Mysteries, Close Encounters, etc. He is always discussing material from his heyday in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, before the conspiracy apparently clamped down on the truth.
But what interests me is the way Gordon’s ideology has gradually transformed along with conspiracy culture in general. Beginning a nuts-and-bolts UFO investigator looking for metal fragments of physical craft, he gradually expanded his conspiracy to include government cover-ups, the paranormal, and, of course, Bigfoot. Last year he participated in the filming of two Bigfoot films, one a docudrama and the other a documentary, and he also was a key speaker at—and I didn’t know this existed—the Mothman Festival, an entire festival devoted to the “mystery” of a monster that was almost certainly an owl.
According to Gordon, Bigfoot isn’t just a hairy ape-like creature but is instead intimately connected to space aliens: “there may be more to the Bigfoot mystery than a flesh and blood explanation.” (Here is a link to an interview in which Gordon and Jeffery Pritchett explore whether Bigfoot is a space alien or, but of course, a Biblical Nephilim-giant; as I have learned the Nephilim-Watchers myth is the centerpiece of all fringe history.) The U.S. government is, naturally, deeply interested in the Bigfoot question as one way of learning more about the space aliens they’ve been trying so hard to cover up. In so doing, Gordon hits a number of the key defining traits of conspiracy culture: that “mysteries” are all connected, that the government is conspiring to suppress the truth, and that there is a discoverable hidden reality to UFOs. His website homepage currently features a computer-generated image of a green-eyed Bigfoot emerging from a flying saucer.
Of course you know this was all anticipated by the Looney Tunes, who placed Gossamer the Hair Monster in outer space and under the control of Marvin the Martian in Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century (1980), a made-for-TV cartoon. It is not one of Warner Bros. best efforts, clearly because this was the conspiracy engaging in its penchant for spilling the beans by making its Bigfoot plans known. The Hair Monster had previously been a Frankenstein-like creation of mad scientists modeled on Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff in his two classic-period appearances in Hair-Raising Hare (1946) and Water, Water Every Hare (1952).
Gordon is currently on a library tour, in fact, spreading his message of a Bigfoot-UFO-government conspiracy to audiences across Pennsylvania. This is where Annoyed Librarian took issue with the ufologist’s desire to deliver his message not just to audiences that sought out his uniquely Looney Tunes view of Bigfoot but to public library patrons under the imprimatur of the libraries. Annoyed Librarian sees this as parallel to the decay of the History networks into the aliens and conspiracy channels:
And this sort of thing is at a library why? It seems to me that when a library is hosting a speaker who wrote Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook, there’s a serious disconnect from the mission of providing reliable information.
Here’s where I am of two minds about this. Are libraries intended to curate information for the purpose of public education, or are they designed to provide access to multiple points of view even when they are wrong? My gut reaction is to say that if a local author wrote a book, then it seems like the library ought to offer a venue to talk about it, but on the other hand we all know that there are obvious limits that libraries would never cross. They won’t let a Neo-Nazi present a speech on anti-Semitism, nor would they offer racists a platform for arguing the inferiority of various races. So at some level, libraries aren’t simply offering their floor to all comers.
This is also the reason that the History and H2 claims, expressed directly to me last year, that they simply offer a platform for their talent’s various points of view ring so hollow. They aren’t public access TV, and obviously, they’d never broadcast a show denying the Holocaust, advocating the Black Supremacist movement (yes, it’s a real thing), or calling for a communist revolution, even though all of these claims have supporters. When you look at the American Heroes Channel—a poor man’s History Channel circa 2001—you see programs (just last night) about the quest to find Noah’s Ark, the spear that pierced Christ, and the hunt for the Garden of Eden—but not shows about why Hinduism is the one true faith, or the quest for Xenu’s volcano. So they are making choices of some kind—based on perceptions of the audience’s attitudes and values.
Are libraries more like TV networks, playing to popular prejudices, even when those ideas—like Bigfoot’s UFO taxi service—are scientifically unsupportable? Or are libraries curated forums designed to educate the public—and if so, who makes the decisions about what they should teach? These aren’t easy questions, especially when we realize that as far as the audience—the public—is concerned, having a speaker at the library is a de facto endorsement of the speaker, no matter how many disclaimers you issue.
So what I have learned from all of this is that the idea that Bigfoot rides in a flying saucer is not just a stupid Ancient Aliens episode but an apparently established part of conspiracy culture. Will wonders never cease?
4/21/2014 07:43:48 am
Libraries are reflective of their community, we expect
4/21/2014 07:54:51 am
Jason, you know the answer to this, textbook disputes often hit
4/21/2014 02:35:32 pm
JAD you are making sense today. Did you get back on your meds or what?
4/23/2014 10:34:46 am
the paragraphs if gonzo tend to be mine, the quips if on topic tend
4/21/2014 07:51:07 am
The "sit tight and believe" folks will always exist
An Over-Educated Grunt
4/21/2014 07:51:20 am
Oh, the idea that Bigfoot is an alien has been in the ether for at least a decade. When Wizards of the Coast published d20 Modern back in 2002, the explanation for hairy cryptids was "aliens stranded on Earth in their eternal war with the Greys." Pretty sure that GURPS Black Ops discussed the possibility back in the late '90s, early 2000s, for that matter. However, gracing the pages of an RPG and being given public speaking space by your local library are two different beasts, since no one expects the truth from a game that actively encourages you to make stuff up.
Agreed!!!! (imoho) [seyz lil ole jad]
4/21/2014 08:10:00 am
if Bigfoot is not human or a EMH/neanderthal or a really complex CroMagnon/ModernHuman/Neandertal mix given to something
4/21/2014 08:17:24 am
China's ancient bones found their way to an herbalist shoppe often!
4/21/2014 08:24:12 am
Here we go
4/21/2014 08:24:23 am
Any book by Prof. Sykes on his DNA results belongs
4/21/2014 08:26:25 am
sorry, can't stop
4/21/2014 08:34:28 am
Duckies... a local librarian has to grant Ken Ham + Bill Nye an
4/21/2014 08:37:36 am
LIBRARIANS HAVE TO UNDERSTAND
4/21/2014 10:03:44 am
I ain't stopped yet. Gotta keep going
4/21/2014 08:13:42 am
I once attended a funny talk during the 1990s and some of the audience expressed contempt (Adrian Gilbert was promoting his latest)
4/21/2014 11:29:41 am
Actually you can push it back further. There are at least two episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man (Mid 1970's/Early 1980's) that feature Bigfoot as the 'guardian' of Aliens.
An Over-Educated Grunt
4/21/2014 02:40:17 pm
Gah, that's right, I'd forgotten about the Six Million Dollar Man and Bigfoot! That was before my time, but that's a legendary example of shark-jumping.
4/21/2014 03:29:40 pm
Conceptually I would go back to 1953 with the movie "Robot Monster" where the Ro-Mon actor is dressed in a gorilla suit with a space helment (actually a diving helmet and antenna attached).
4/21/2014 11:23:54 pm
I completely forgot about "Robot Monster"! MST3K!
4/21/2014 08:49:00 am
Nazi Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) are (Time?)traveling by UFO in PA? I can't say I've noticed but we probably should alert X-Com so they can scramble their interceptors.
4/21/2014 08:56:44 am
keep in mind there is a ww2 era loose rule of thumb where 1/10th
4/21/2014 09:00:30 am
tis the same one in ten ratio.
An Over-Educated Grunt
4/21/2014 09:01:02 am
Well, as Al Crowley said...
4/21/2014 09:05:05 am
Can we get J.A.D no caffeinated Coffee. :)
4/21/2014 10:03:00 am
gotta keep on and on
4/21/2014 10:05:17 am
Bigsfeet according to Sal.
Steve In SoDak
4/22/2014 11:56:32 pm
Time traveling, flying, space Nazi's. Great, because those guys weren't annoying enough when they didn't have time travel and space ships, oh and Bigfoot is on the take too? I'm going back to bed.
4/21/2014 09:11:52 am
it is 4:10 p.m on the East Coast and our local Marathon has
4/21/2014 10:02:27 am
I can't stop gotta keep going, and going....
4/21/2014 10:04:47 am
More to come, need my fix
4/21/2014 10:31:20 am
THE 118th RUNNING of THE BOSTON MARATHON
should PRIVATE libraries encourage fringe groups and/or speculation?
4/21/2014 10:33:24 am
i'd like to think private libraries are better run than our public
4/21/2014 10:36:51 am
First of all, The crashed 'UFO' in the woods in the 1960s in Pennsylvania was not a UFO but a downed Russian satellite. At the time it was not a mystery, The government swooped in and took it.
Bugs Bunny spotted a flock of Foo Fighters in '42
4/21/2014 11:01:25 am
If a Russian satellite abruptly ceased to function and fell to earth,
4/21/2014 12:34:14 pm
Didn't you know Bigfoot has paranormal powers that helps him from becoming discovered?
4/21/2014 11:08:06 am
I'm a public librarian and I'd have no problem with a presentation on Alien Bigfoot being hosted at my library. Heck, I'd probably attend it.
4/21/2014 12:22:25 pm
"library can afford to pay the speaker"
4/21/2014 12:53:44 pm
Ah, yes, good ol' Sasquatch. The only creature that remains unchanged, even as the story surrounding it "evolves".
An Over-Educated Grunt
4/21/2014 02:42:43 pm
Whatever the Man might find, the Bobes knows better. If he doesn't like donuts and bacon, it's not really squatchy.
lil ole moi
4/21/2014 02:57:53 pm
Yes, Bobo Fay has every right to ask Scott Wolter about all the times
4/22/2014 02:52:44 am
We now know squatchy has paranormal powers and is aware of humans being in his area without seeing or smelling them
4/21/2014 03:23:46 pm
Another public librarian here.
4/22/2014 12:57:30 am
I like the idea of libraries have authors do presentations regardless of the subject matter. Anything that encourages and gets people to use this most wonderful of resources and maybe donate or help with funding the library system.
4/22/2014 02:50:52 am
As long as it's categorised in the "Child Psychology" department
4/22/2014 05:34:37 am
I sit on my local library board of trustees. As a tax-payer funded entity open for use by all citizens it is our belief that Freedom of Speech should be the over-riding policy here. A library should provide access to information, but should not make the decision about what information should be accessed by any individual. While I agree that Stan Gordon sounds ridiculous, censorship by a government funded entity such as a public library is only a stone's throw away from book banning and burning. Such policies would inevitably deteriorate to abuse and propaganda dissemination.
4/22/2014 05:38:31 am
Our library would provide a forum for such a presentation, but we certainly would not pay for the honor of hosting such an event.
4/22/2014 05:43:50 am
I think that's the key point. With libraries as a forum for free speech, authors should be able to deliver their lectures, but I wouldn't want my tax money going to fund UFO-Bigfoot conspiracy theories.
4/22/2014 11:55:51 am
In my experience, the payment offered speakers is not what you call large - it's more to offset gas and travel. We don't fly people out or put them up - we might take them out to dinner if they are a Big Enough Name but that's about it. I know there are some large urban libraries who can afford to do that (and even pay headliner speaking fees) but most libraries are not there.
4/22/2014 06:36:28 am
I read a comment on another blog once asserting that Bigfoot was an unknown species of hominid that lived in the biblical Land of Nod. Cain bred with them, thus explaining how he could have children despite having been banished from the rest of humanity. Of course, the Land of Nod is some kind of parallel world whose inhabitants can interact with us, but are invisible to us, which is why Sasquatch has not been discovered by science.
4/22/2014 08:04:13 am
Reminded me of an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, with aliens controlling a robot/cyborg Bigfoot.
Robin S. Swope
4/22/2014 08:49:57 am
Stan Gordon is a great guy, and unlike a lot of researchers he is very skeptical. I know and have worked with Stan, and he has been as perplexed as anyone else with these UFO/Bigfoot connections. He only relates real encounters as described by their witnesses.
4/23/2014 03:28:36 am
The UFO community has had rehashings & Monday morning
IMOHO its a very TEDDY ROOSEVELT BULLY PULPIT...
4/23/2014 03:38:14 am
Stan Gordon was not trying to lie or deceive the public at large.
typo--- bully pulpit ^^^
4/23/2014 03:39:38 am
yes... there are rules.
4/22/2014 04:22:22 pm
I will say this, having the local romance writer or fantasy writer deliver a talk isn't precisely all about the scientific rigor, either. I have yet to read a romance novel that is a reliable guide to ANYTHING, and believe me, I've probably read THOUSANDS of the things. (They are my mind-candy, don't judge me! :-P) Actually, the fantasy novels tend to be more reliable when it comes to human interactions, if really nothing else at all. So just to start with, the assumption that a library is there "to provide reliable information" is false--unless you're talking research libraries rather than public libraries.
2/20/2015 06:14:13 am
Not only has Bigfoot been attached to UFOs, but so too has most cryptozoological creatures! Even Indian tribes of long ago considered Sasquatch from the spirit world, and a guardian of the nature one! Even the famed Loch Ness has its UFO stories connected to the monster and men in black as well (supposedly seen on the shores of Loch Ness)! Several people before Stan Gordon claimed to have seen Bigfoot both enter and leave UFOS. Don't say I believe it all, but those are the stories!
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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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