Friday, August 07, 2009


2009 MUFON UFO Conference, Day 2

The day started off with a delicious breakfast in the Marriott atrium. They make a great Eggs Benedict. Darned good coffee, too. Met a nice couple who are MUFON reps from Nebraska.

Then, we set up in the vendors area. It took a while to fill all the tables, but soon the atrium was full of people selling books, videos, clothing and trinkets, all with some UFO theme. I picked up a compass/flashlight combo and an official MUFON hat. Someone had also created a huge backdrop through which you could poke your head and on the other side it looked like you were an astronaut on the Moon standing next to an alien.

My table with books was next to that of Kevin Randle, who had about 20 different titles of his books and CDs for sale. He introduced us to his wife, who rarely accompanies him to these things. Bruce Maccabee was way across the room, selling his science fiction novel about abductions, as well as CDs of his classical piano music. I didn't know he was actually known for that besides his UFO photo-analysis work.

Stan Friedman and Kathleen Marden were at a table near the entrance, just down from a booth where someone was photographing your aura for $15. It was the only noticeably non-mainstream booth, if you don't count the guy who was soliciting Colorado votes on a Bill to create a UFO-friendly state. A woman who runs the abductee crisis line was nearby. There was also a guy who was selling handcrafted candy dishes in the shape of flying saucers, but he was asking $300 for each one and I passed them up.

Around 11 am, it was time to participate in the MUFON press conference. There were a few TV cameras and several print and radio media, all local. Apparently, 20/20 had been there the day before, and the Discovery Channel and the History Channel were coming later. I was seated next to some big names: Bruce Maccabee, Stan Friedman, Kevin Randle and Ted Phillips. I wasn't sure what I was going to be able to contribute, as the topic of the conference was the 40-year anniversary of MUFON and how Colorado has fared in terms of UFO reports. I was therefore surprised to find that I was being asked to speak first. I had no idea what to say, but winged something about the international nature of the phenomenon and how UFO report data needed to to be gathered and studied more carefully. The others on the panel spoke, then some media asked questions, some of which were about Roswell. Kevin and Stan went to town on those.

Then it was back to the vendor area. Fairly slow, but steady. Several who came by to talk were former air force or army something-or-others, with stories about seeing UFOs or aliens or both while on duty and they could only talk now they were out.

Late in the afternoon, I was asked to show up at the benefactors' reception. I knew very few people in the crowd that was composed mostly of longtime MUFON members. However, Stan introduced me to billionaire Robert Bigelow, the aerospace developer who is now underwriting the STAR team of MUFON investigators. Seemed like a nice guy. He later showed up at my table and talked with me briefly.

Stan Friedman gave the keynote address before dinner. He spoke on The Pseudoscience of Anti-Ufology, the premiere of this new presentation. It was about how scientists who debunk UFOs often resort to unscientific arguments and faulty reasoning. The dinner followed, during which a powerpoint presentation of notable ufologists was shown. Fellow Manitoban Grant Cameron's face appeared early in the presentation, and even me visage showed up at one point. After dinner there were awards and nods to many ufologists, and Bruce Maccabee was given the MUFON outstanding ufologist trophy. There was also a roast of MUFON founders Walt Andrus and John Schuessler, in a skit featuring John Greenwald and some MUFONites dressed as aliens and MIBs.

Finally, we popped over to the bar for some mingling, then headed for bed. It's been a long day.
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