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Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs

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Part personal odyssey, part espionage adventure, and part social history, Mirage Men delves into the world of UFOs, those who believe in them, and those who would have us believe in them. This is not your average UFO book. Mirage Men explores the strange and symbiotic relationship between the U.S. military and intelligence agencies and the community who believes strongly t Part personal odyssey, part espionage adventure, and part social history, Mirage Men delves into the world of UFOs, those who believe in them, and those who would have us believe in them. This is not your average UFO book. Mirage Men explores the strange and symbiotic relationship between the U.S. military and intelligence agencies and the community who believes strongly that UFOs have visited earth. Just how has the U.S. government manipulated the public’s belief in UFOs to hide military aircraft experimentation? Among the UFO believers are the “mirage men”—a close-knit group of men and women whose careers span science medicine, the military, and the intelligence services. They believe they have received parts of a flying saucer–shaped puzzle, whose final pieces lie tantalizingly out of reach. Dive into this comprehensive and astonishing exposition of exactly what these Mirage Men believe, and why. Interviews, anecdotes, and cold hard facts make this a persuasive book that’s hard to ignore. Many are sure that official disclosure—government announcement of extraterrestrial presence—is just around the corner.


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Part personal odyssey, part espionage adventure, and part social history, Mirage Men delves into the world of UFOs, those who believe in them, and those who would have us believe in them. This is not your average UFO book. Mirage Men explores the strange and symbiotic relationship between the U.S. military and intelligence agencies and the community who believes strongly t Part personal odyssey, part espionage adventure, and part social history, Mirage Men delves into the world of UFOs, those who believe in them, and those who would have us believe in them. This is not your average UFO book. Mirage Men explores the strange and symbiotic relationship between the U.S. military and intelligence agencies and the community who believes strongly that UFOs have visited earth. Just how has the U.S. government manipulated the public’s belief in UFOs to hide military aircraft experimentation? Among the UFO believers are the “mirage men”—a close-knit group of men and women whose careers span science medicine, the military, and the intelligence services. They believe they have received parts of a flying saucer–shaped puzzle, whose final pieces lie tantalizingly out of reach. Dive into this comprehensive and astonishing exposition of exactly what these Mirage Men believe, and why. Interviews, anecdotes, and cold hard facts make this a persuasive book that’s hard to ignore. Many are sure that official disclosure—government announcement of extraterrestrial presence—is just around the corner.

30 review for Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    As a junior high school student in the 1980s, I was obsessed with the unexplained. My reading habits looked like Fox Mulder's on The X-Files. Instead of cars, sports or blondes, what I wanted in a TV show was Robert Stack briefing me on the latest in ghosts, lake monsters or UFOs on the NBC series Unsolved Mysteries. It's been that long since a book on the paranormal intrigued me and I was primed for a deep dive into those waters using the latest technology, investigative techniques and perspect As a junior high school student in the 1980s, I was obsessed with the unexplained. My reading habits looked like Fox Mulder's on The X-Files. Instead of cars, sports or blondes, what I wanted in a TV show was Robert Stack briefing me on the latest in ghosts, lake monsters or UFOs on the NBC series Unsolved Mysteries. It's been that long since a book on the paranormal intrigued me and I was primed for a deep dive into those waters using the latest technology, investigative techniques and perspectives. Published in 2010, Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare and UFOs by Mark Pilkington was worth the wait. A young journalist from Norfolk, England specializing in the paranormal, Pilkington democratically focuses his book on case histories of the more compelling UFO incidents of recent years, particularly ones with the fingerprints of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) on them, and also inserts himself into the mystery, as he and producer John Lundberg attend the Laughlin UFO Convention in Nevada in a quest to interview Richard Doty, an infamous AFOSI agent, retired, responsible for running counterintelligence operations among ufologists during his enigmatic career, leaking information both true and false to those who believe the truth is out there. Pilkington, who chaired the Norfolk UFO Society in his university days and constructed crop circles in England, is closest in belief to Dana Scully on The X-Files, a cynic who has seen some weird shit. He begins the book relating his own UFO sighting in July 1995 near Yosemite National Park. Pilkington is a reporter, far from a true believer in extraterrestrial visitors or the conspiracy theories thrown around at UFO conventions, whose attendance has been on the wane since Fox cancelled The X-Files in 2002. Less interested in whether we're being visited and if the government knows all about it, Pilkington is fascinated by the UFO myth, who originated it, and why. For me the really interesting part was that Doty and Bennewitz were the conduits, if not the source, for much of the UFO mythology that had emerged since the early 1980s. Stories about crashed UFOs, US government pacts with nasty ETs, alien harvesting of cattle and manipulation of human DNA, which had gained in potency and authenticity as they were retold through countless books, articles, films and TV documentaries. This was the forge of late-twentieth century folklore, the heart of America's Cold War dreaming and the world in which John and I, with our crop circle work, were already a small part. "Doty" is Richard C. Doty, special agent for AFOSI stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico during the late '70s and early '80s. Doty's counterintelligence work--helping safeguard some of the most valuable secrets in the U.S. Air Force--involved lying to the public about UFOs, but lying in ways contrary to how many of the true believers suspect. "Bennewitz" is Paul Bennewitz, an engineer who developed instruments for the USAF near Kirtland. Bennewitz's UFO sightings and investigation into the phenomena were encouraged by special agent Doty, who "ran" Bennewitz and fed him information--some good, some bad--credited with slowly driving the engineer insane. Briefly examining UFO incidents from the flying saucer flyovers of Washington D.C. in the summer of 1952 to an outbreak that occurred over in Iran in the winter of 2004 in provinces where Iran's nuclear facilities just so happen to be based, Pilkington doesn't see the handiwork of alien visitors in these incidents as much as he does someone like a Richard Doty in the FBI, CIA or NSA whose tools range from radar spoofing to forged documents to disinformation. Pilkington's thesis is that these events resemble counterintelligence operations designed to either protect U.S. military secrets or to neutralize adversaries both foreign and domestic who seek to expose those secrets. In Laughlin, Pilkington and Lundberg meet Bill Ryan, the latest superstar of the UFO community, a personal development trainer who stumbled on an email group frequented by scientists, military personnel and private citizens with an interest in UFOs. Bill becomes the public conduit for the posts of "Request Anonymous", a user whose timed releases expose an incredible story: the Roswell crash of 1947 really happened, a surviving extraterrestrial biological entity named EBE 1 was kept at Los Alamos Laboratories and when its fellow EBEs arrived to retrieve it, twelve Earth ambassadors went away with them. The alien planet, located 38 light years away, is called Serpo. "I'm not trying to browbeat anyone into believing this," explained Bill, "only to consider it as a possibility, but I think a simple hoax or prank can be absolutely ruled out. It's too complex for that, and there's too much circumstantial corroboration. Misinformation falls into the same category--that would mean it's all false. But it could be disinformation. That means part truth, part fiction. And the fiction part could be as little as 5 per cent for the entire story to be thrown off-kilter." No stranger to the public eye or discussing UFOs since his retirement, Richard Doty responds to Pilkington and Lundberg's email and agrees to meet the Brits in Laughlin to be interviewed. Looking more like a civil servant than an international man of mystery, Doty has dinner with the investigators and puts them at ease immediately, regaling them with stories of Area 51, where Doty claims he worked. He drops a bombshell: ETs have been here, the US government knows about them and has the alien technology to prove it, some of which Doty has handled. Pilkington believes that Doty believes what he's saying, but that the bigger mystery is why he's volunteering it. During the week Pilkington and Lundberg spend with him in Laughlin, Doty dismisses ninety percent of the UFO lore exchanged at conferences like this, such as alien abductions. He's dismissive of Bill Ryan, but not the bombshell Request Anonymous report Ryan is broadcasting. Doty sticks to what Pilkington corroborates with scientific and military personnel who speak to him about the UFO phenomenon to be a simple, core story: There are ETS, they came here once or a few times, we kept two in captivity and kept some of their technology, and the Serpo team left with them in 1965. Pilkington asks Doty why, if the government knows the truth about UFOs, they're still covering it up. Doty offers that the fear of unlimited free energy scares the Powers That Be. Pilkington doesn't buy it, replying that even free energy would be metered to pay for its infrastructure. Doty responds, "I like you guys. You're smart." He shares documents and offers to secure financing for their UFO documentary. Doty tantalizes the boys with access but Pilkington is aware he's not the first journalist to be offered such "cooperation" from the military only to be left out to dry. Is it to keep the UFO myth going until the next counterintelligence operation, or part of a massive public relations plan? A neurophysiologist named Kit Green who worked at the Office for Science and Technology at the CIA, where he was a "keeper of the weird" and became interested in UFOs echoes the core story Richard Doty offered and tells Pilkington, "If you were to give them the core story right off the bat, they'd get sick, so you do it slowly over ten or twenty years. You put out a bunch of movies, a bunch of books, a bunch of stories, a bunch of Internet memes about all the crazy stuff that we've seen recently in Serpo. Then one day you say, 'Hey, all that stuff is nonsense, relax, it's not that bad, you don't have to worry, the reality is this'--and then you give them the real story." Rather than write a wide-eyed expose of the weird with a sprinkle of his own pet theories, or simply set out to debunk UFOs ad hoc, Mark Pilkington achieves a terrific credibility with Mirage Men. He's been interested in UFOs most of his life, faked crop circles (for those who still believe crop circles to be alien artwork, anyway) and seen a UFO while changing a flat tire in Nevada, but as a journalist and a rationalist, retains a healthy skepticism for any stories about extraterrestrial visitors. His writing has real finesse, a dash of color and wit that kept me turning the pages without treating his subject matter like a big joke. The UFOs are tricksters, as are Rick and all the others like him. In traditional cultures it was the trickster's role not just to deceive, but to drive invention and science, just as UFOs always appear to possess technologies that lie around the corner from our own. Tricksters taught the spider to make her web and humans to make nets, traps and hooks; it was also common for tricksters to become caught in their own traps. Does Rick really believe that ETs have been here? All I can say is that I hope so. But, whether or not Rick believes, millions of others do, and some of them hold positions of considerable influence. The book is the perfect length, offering just the right amount of case history into the UFO phenomenon--beginning with the reports of airships in the U.S. of the 1890s and heating up again in Europe in 1942 when British and American pilots reported "the thing" or "foo fighters" following their planes--and ending before too many of these stories led me down a rabbit hole of possibility, paranoia and confusion. Transitioning between the historical record and his own bizarre experiences in Laughlin or Roswell, Pilkington keeps the book fresh and exciting and does offer something of a potent thesis for those hungry for The Truth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    The Mirage Men Mark Pilkington Although this is a book about the ‘truth about UFO’s’, if you really believe we are being visited by Little Green Men (or perhaps their more grown up cousins - the Greys) then you probably won’t enjoy this. For anyone else who is curious about what all the fuss is about then I highly recommend it. Certainly it must be on the reading list for any Paranormal Investigator who is serious about his craft. The book is more about human psychology than about strange lights in The Mirage Men Mark Pilkington Although this is a book about the ‘truth about UFO’s’, if you really believe we are being visited by Little Green Men (or perhaps their more grown up cousins - the Greys) then you probably won’t enjoy this. For anyone else who is curious about what all the fuss is about then I highly recommend it. Certainly it must be on the reading list for any Paranormal Investigator who is serious about his craft. The book is more about human psychology than about strange lights in the sky; more about the lengths that governments will go to, to keep secrets, than it is about flying saucers. Here’s a taste: Walter Bosley worked for the US intelligence service. His job was spreading disinformation about UFO’s One of his functions was to convince people who had accidentally spotted a highly secret military craft that what they had seen was an alien spaceship. After two years of this work he asked his supervisor if it would be possible for him to see the aircraft. ‘On the given date, Walt drove out into the night. An Air Force jeep was waiting for him in the dark at the agreed location. He pulled up alongside it, got out of his car and greeted the other vehicle’s driver. “So when’s the plane due?” asked Walt. “It’s already here” was the reply. “Look up.” Walt looked up but saw nothing but the starlit sky above him. The night was silent apart from their conversation and the dull whoosh of passing cars in the distance. “I don’t see anything,” said Walter, puzzled. “Where should I be looking?” “Just look up,” said the driver. Walt looked up. There was nothing to see. He realized that he’d been pranked. The message was obvious - you don’t see what you’re not supposed to see. It was time to go back home. “Oh, wait,” said the man. “I forgot to give you these.” He handed Walt a pair of goggles. Walt put them on. “Now look up.” Walt looked up. “Holy ******* ****!”’ The story is the story of disinformation spread about UFO sightings by the US government in order to keep its military secrets, secret. Secret aircraft, at some point, have to fly. And occasionally they are seen by non-military personnel. So various US government agencies, it appears, decided to ‘encourage’ the idea that they were alien craft. Also, it appears, that the very idea that we are being ‘visited’ by technologically advanced civilisations is more than the average human being is capable of handling and so a whole different bunch of disinformation spreaders spread disinformation to keep us safe from our own fears and the US safe from panicking mobs a la War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. They do this by keeping the idea of alien visitation alive and at a low level so that we can get used to it slowly - in psychology it's called Systematic Desensitisation. The book traces the history of this disinformation from before the Roswell incident in 1947 to the huge UFO conference in Laughlin, Nevada in 2006. It was at this conference that they met, and spent considerable time with, some of the key players in this conspiracy - Rick Doty & Bill Ryan. That’s not to say there aren’t still some mysteries, but the book focused, in its entirety, on the US UFO scene. This, despite the fact that the author is British and there are two significant UK UFO incidents (Berwyn Mountains and Rendlesham Forest - both laying claim to the title the British Roswell) which failed to get even a mention. The book is interesting, page turning in parts, slow in others. Keeping track of the huge number of names who kept cropping up again and again in various parts of the book was a challenge I quickly abandoned, so threads were difficult to keep track of. Easy to put down, but I kept coming back to it. It is a fascinating study in psychology and how innocent beliefs can be manipulated by governments to their own ends. How true it is, you’ll have to judge for yourself. Or is it just another level of disinformation being spread to keep the ground fertile and the community alive?

  3. 4 out of 5

    George Ilsley

    Took me a while to get through this and almost gave up. Any book which discusses the difference between misinformation and disinformation is bound to raise suspicions about its own contents. At times, the text does descend to the level of blatant deception or misdirection (ie, "silent helicopters did exist at the time, so the craft could have been nothing more than that" : while perhaps true, this is pure speculation unless there is more evidence). However, by the end it does become marginally mo Took me a while to get through this and almost gave up. Any book which discusses the difference between misinformation and disinformation is bound to raise suspicions about its own contents. At times, the text does descend to the level of blatant deception or misdirection (ie, "silent helicopters did exist at the time, so the craft could have been nothing more than that" : while perhaps true, this is pure speculation unless there is more evidence). However, by the end it does become marginally more interesting, although readers hoping for any sort of clarity will be disappointed. That murkiness is exactly the nature of the beast, and what this book does well is describe the layers of murkiness, and the sources and motivations of the "mirage makers". What all the ensuing "murk" adds up to is for you to decide.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    My background primes me to be SUPER INTO UFOs and associated phenomena. I've managed to remain fairly uninvolved with the community at large but have always had an intensive outsider's fascination with UFOlogy and everything it entails, and this book is a great primer in that respect. For someone who's super familiar with the genre I don't know how much new information will be in here, as it reads kind of like a literature review at times, but I found it super informative and a quick but enjoyab My background primes me to be SUPER INTO UFOs and associated phenomena. I've managed to remain fairly uninvolved with the community at large but have always had an intensive outsider's fascination with UFOlogy and everything it entails, and this book is a great primer in that respect. For someone who's super familiar with the genre I don't know how much new information will be in here, as it reads kind of like a literature review at times, but I found it super informative and a quick but enjoyable read. I remember watching the associated documentary on Netflix a few years ago but I enjoyed the book more because I think the format just allows it to cover more ground.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Redmond

    Another re-read: Mark Pilkington's MIRAGE MEN: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Pyschological Warfare, and UFOs (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010). A must-read for anybody interested in UFOs, aka "ufology." A thorough-going account of what's known and suspected about the games U.S. intelligence services played for decades during the Cold War and afterward, simultaneously validating and debunking the UFO phenomenon. Included is a pretty exhaustive review of cutting-edge aircraft, once secret, now o Another re-read: Mark Pilkington's MIRAGE MEN: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Pyschological Warfare, and UFOs (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010). A must-read for anybody interested in UFOs, aka "ufology." A thorough-going account of what's known and suspected about the games U.S. intelligence services played for decades during the Cold War and afterward, simultaneously validating and debunking the UFO phenomenon. Included is a pretty exhaustive review of cutting-edge aircraft, once secret, now open, ditto radar-altering aerospace technologies, holograms, etc., and and a colorful cast of hoaxsters, operators and true believers. This hard-headed and solidly sourced book does not rule out the possibility that some UFO reports may actually represent contact with "EBEs" (Extraterrestrial Biological Entities). What's startling, after careful analysis employing the same critical apparatus that experts use when reconstructing the basis of ancient texts, a "core story" emerges that underlies the entire UFO phenomenon: "The ETs came here, maybe once, maybe a few times. Either through accident or design, the U.S. government acquired one of their craft. The only problem was that the physics that powered the craft were so advanced that for decades we humans have struggled to understand it or replicate it." I'm here quoting word-for-word an on-the-record, identified source who formerly worked for the CIA. He cast his remarks in the hypothetical mode, but Mr. Pilkington suspects that the source may be telling us the real deal. Mr. Pilkington's book is enormously controversial in UFO circles, where all sorts of far-out revelations have become a matter of faith. It's like a religion for many people. Even hoaxsters who come clean are not believed. Mr. Pilkington has been accused of being a MI6 agent and a tool of sinister forces. Horsefeathers. This is much easier to do than to address the evidence he offers and the questions he raises.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Pilkington has produced a highly intelligent book on the UFO phenomenon that makes a good starting point for anyone interested in the subject. I shall only quibble with his evident tolerance for the dumb asses who need to believe anything to hand. Nevertheless, he is more critical than most and it is true that, if you have to believe something, the presence of aliens on this planet is no more daft than believing that Iron Age texts can tell us anything about how the modern world works. The main th Pilkington has produced a highly intelligent book on the UFO phenomenon that makes a good starting point for anyone interested in the subject. I shall only quibble with his evident tolerance for the dumb asses who need to believe anything to hand. Nevertheless, he is more critical than most and it is true that, if you have to believe something, the presence of aliens on this planet is no more daft than believing that Iron Age texts can tell us anything about how the modern world works. The main thrust of the book lies in its investigation of the possibility (or rather probability) of periodic entries into the UFO mythos by security interests. Pilkington is persuasive that a small group of intelligence players have dabbled in the UFO world but he is not foolish enough to assume some master conspiracy. On the contrary, Pilkington is very sophisticated in understanding that small tactical interventions for specific purposes (inter-agency rivalries over funding, cover for advanced but very human technologies or behavioural experimentation) can take on a life of their own. There are undoubtedly trickster personalities at work here, psychic predators who cannot resist enjoying themselves at the expense of vulnerable and confused souls, the sad people who have the Mulderian ‘need to belief’ that seems to affect a large proportion of the human species. The rest of us may simply be indifferent or possibilian about anything not evidenced by facts or scientific method – we may concede that aliens may be among us but that it really does not matter so much that we have to enter into the realm of paranoia based on an unlikelihood. There is little evidence for aliens on earth. Pilkington, definitely not a crude debunker, opens our eyes to a whole range of manipulative security possibilities that would be perhaps cruel but are also tactical and rational ways of solving short term problems for the State. We are in the world of Ronson’s ‘Men Who Stare At Goats’, with bits of the excessively feather-bedded and itself paranoid military-industrial complex being allowed to do ridiculous things without much scrutiny. If I have a problem with the book it is that it falls into the populist ‘Ronson trap’ of telling a personal narrative to get us amused at the cost of any decently coherent and sustained ‘analysis’. As we will see, this personal stance leads us into an unhelpful tricksy doubt. The UFO phenomenon desperately needs analysis, not po-faced radical criticism of the military but a proper consideration not only of the general need to believe in unlikely things but of the sociology of memetic manipulation. Being in this manipulative world myself (though as defence and never offence), I am aware of how a surprisingly few activist agents can wreak amazing reputational damage on an individual or an enemy through a few carefully placed false or conspiratorial memes. My own theory on the intelligence engagement in UFOs is that it has all simply got out of hand because the perpetrators themselves have imperfectly understood a revolution in communications. They will not have anticipated the self-replicating and uncontrollable nature of the meme. Closed experiments in manipulation and operations designed to muddy the waters in closed communities explode periodically into popular culture. The security community did not understand how the UFO belief system could escalate to become what amounts to a world religion. Conspiracy theorists believe that the authorities are deliberately creating confusion and paranoia for their own purposes. They are simply not that clever. If you want to see short-term destructive memetic war in operation, look at the primitive garbage coming out of Western psy-ops about Syria. Short-termism only means that authority is more likely to be undermined by irrational distrust and paranoia. Vast floating belief systems are now out of control – from ufologists and trans-humanists at one end to rights activists, Islamists and tea party primitives at the other. Still, if Pilkington fails to get out of the ‘popular journalism’ trap, he does make a very good fist of being sensible about this mess of disinformation and paranoia. There is some good hard data in here and some interesting personal testimony. But, in my copy, Pilkington has hand-written ‘Every word is a lie’, then crossed out ‘lie’ and replaced it with ‘true’. He also reveals his own UFO experience in a way that creates doubt as to his intentions even though one of his informants has a plausible technological explanation. This attempt to be a trickster is fun but it diminishes the book and him – if we say we cannot believe him, even in jest, then perhaps it is true that he is running rings round us on everything. Maybe Rick and Bill do not exist. Maybe the advanced aircraft in the picture selection are faked. This may be good chaos magic but it is lousy real world management. Slightly more worrying, if a few lower level trickster state agents are screwing up the minds of the weak-minded, then that is not fun, it is cruel and malign – and, in the case of Paul Bennewitz, downright evil. Manipulation of others is not fun. It is bullying. I see no ethical condemnation in the book. It is all too much fun. Cruelty is only fun to the immature. Thick and weak people (and a lot of people are not very bright or are bright but vulnerable) either require silence (for reasons of State) or the truth – they do not deserve having their minds shattered or to be sent into a fantasy world that wrecks lives and families. What we need now is a proper exposure of anyone engaged in these cruelties and for their superior officers to regain control of the agenda if only for one extremely good reason – the manipulation of the masses is counter-productive to the State and order. Loki is undermining Asgard. In the week when a disturbed neuro-science student (why the media silence on his studies at the time of writing? are they too stupid to investigate them?) re-enacts the fantasy of a comic book psychopathic and kills en masse, memetic manipulation is a public policy issue. This is no argument against freedom or for censorship, but an argument for the exposure of manipulation, for critical judgment, for an enlightenment attitude to a hierarchy of evidenced facts and for a profound skepticism but one that keeps in mind any possibility as, well, possible. As for aliens, they could be here from the past or from the future and their presence could be covered up by the State but these propositions are all unlikely. And, amazingly, irrelevant. What is more relevant is the lack of a mental attitude amongst the population that, having held to the possibility of aliens, is mentally prepared for that possibility and is not frightened by that possibility to the extent of becoming paranoid or supine before authority. The hysteria over Al-Qaeda has created over a decade of dangerous imposition of surveillance and social control which is now being developed as neuro-scientific ‘nudge’ and the re-creation of newly created social conservatisms through State tolerance of faith-based idiocies. If conspiracy theorists persist in believing in an alien invasion that will impose the New World Order on us, they are missing the point. An NWO of sorts is happening anyway because they and others like them live in permanent states of irrational autistic fantasy without any ability to organise practical resistance to their own enslavement. Tyranny does not need aliens or Al-Qaeda – it only needs a cynical elite and a stupid and distracted population. At this point in history, we have both.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I enjoyed the documentary film based upon this book, which revolves around the revelations that much of the folklore surrounding the UFO phenomenon was actively cultivated by the U. S. Air Force for the purpose of distracting from secret flights of aircraft like the U-2 and SR-71 spyplanes, as well as the F-117 and B-2 stealth bombers. The film had a narrow focus on interviews with Richard Doty, a retired USAF officer tasked with feeding UFO investigators tall tales about alien invasions that th I enjoyed the documentary film based upon this book, which revolves around the revelations that much of the folklore surrounding the UFO phenomenon was actively cultivated by the U. S. Air Force for the purpose of distracting from secret flights of aircraft like the U-2 and SR-71 spyplanes, as well as the F-117 and B-2 stealth bombers. The film had a narrow focus on interviews with Richard Doty, a retired USAF officer tasked with feeding UFO investigators tall tales about alien invasions that the authorities covered up if not downright collaborating with the aliens - all as a deliberate misinformation gambit designed to muddy the waters surrounding factual information from whistleblowers. The book itself is a different experience to read. Much of it is essentially autobiography about author Mark Pilkington's personal experience as a UFO enthusiast and Hunter Thompson/Tom Wolfe-esque New Journalism about the subculture surrounding ufology. A handful of central witnesses to the revelations contained herein I instantly recognise as regular fixtures from the paranormal-themed podcast circuit, eg "Radio Misterioso" host Greg Bishop or Walter Bosley who frequently appears on "The Higherside Chats" as an expert on late 19th/early 20th century mystery airship sightings. As the British UFO magazine Magonia stated in their review of "Mirage Men", this book really does play like an alternate history of ufology. By "secret history", I mean that Pilkington and friends herein confirm many suspicions that people have had for a long time, but did not have hard evidence for... until now. Examples include hard evidence for CIA spreading disinformation about key political issues second-hand through front media companies and whatnot, or radar jamming technology that causes enemy radars to catch targets that aren't actually there existing since at least the 1950's. Which, come to think of it, would explain not so few "UFOs caught on radar" incidents. The book also contains hard evidence for the suspicion I first heard John and Anne Spencer voice in their 1997 book "Fifty Years of UFOs" that it was no coincidence that the mythology around black triangle UFOs really kicked into overdrive at the exact moment that the USAF started test flying the first prototypes for the B-2 and F-117 stealth aircraft. My favourite part of "Mirage Men" the book, however, has to be the amusing anecdote about how the USAF built makeshift shacks and parked jeeps and trucks around a place where ufologists suspected there to be a secret underground base where there wasn't, in order to play along with the ufologists' conspiracy theories. No wonder the late Jim Moseley frequently called ufology "ufoology"...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

    Although I've long been interested in strange goings-on, the whole subject of UFOs has never really piqued my interest - it's all so...confusing. Then I read this and after about 20 pages could see what all the fuss is about; the difference between this and other such writings on the subject is that this is wonderfully lucid and intersperses the author's own involvement in the world of UFOlogy with a terrific history of the whole history of UFO encounters and the US Govt's role in them (or not!) Although I've long been interested in strange goings-on, the whole subject of UFOs has never really piqued my interest - it's all so...confusing. Then I read this and after about 20 pages could see what all the fuss is about; the difference between this and other such writings on the subject is that this is wonderfully lucid and intersperses the author's own involvement in the world of UFOlogy with a terrific history of the whole history of UFO encounters and the US Govt's role in them (or not!). Unlike a lot of writers about UFO/conspiracy theories in general, Pilkington doesn't come across as a gullible nutter - the odd occasions when he realises he might be getting "in too deep" are both reassuring and hilarious. Any subject can be compelling if it's approached with genuine enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and a decent amount of research, and Pilkington has all of these in spades. He's read all those nutty books so you don't have to. Apart from the historical aspect, the story of his and his film-making partner John Lundberg's week at a UFO conference is genuinely gripping, as much as a good detective/spy novel, and he scores some real coups getting to spend considerable time with various bizarre, shadowy figures and major players. You also get a really good idea of why people devote their whole lives to chasing UFOs and the people who may or may not be piloting them. With all the disinformation and paranoia surrounding it, this whole UFO thing may be complex and downright baffling at times, but Pilkington makes for a charming, enthusiastic and clear-headed guide.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Liller

    Two British skeptics - one of them involved in crop circle making - take a trip to America and into the history of UFOs. The focal point is several meetings with the enigmatic and controversial Richard "Rick" Doty. The central theme of "Mirage Men" is that the government is lying about UFOs but not the way you think: the government has spent time and effort sowing disinformation for reasons ranging from experiments to Cold War intelligence operations to distracting people from experimental aircra Two British skeptics - one of them involved in crop circle making - take a trip to America and into the history of UFOs. The focal point is several meetings with the enigmatic and controversial Richard "Rick" Doty. The central theme of "Mirage Men" is that the government is lying about UFOs but not the way you think: the government has spent time and effort sowing disinformation for reasons ranging from experiments to Cold War intelligence operations to distracting people from experimental aircraft. What information is real and what isn't is nearly impossible to decipher and the book doesn't really try to offer any hard answers. A good alternative look at the world of UFOs.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Wolfley

    This is a completely new take on UFOs that I had never considered. To help shield secret military testing, the government is actually working in cahoots with conspiracy theorists and those that believe in extraterrestrials. It feels like meta- paranoia that we are now concocting conspiracy theories to explain conspiracy theories but if there's one thing I know about America it's that we can never get enough of a good thing. This is a completely new take on UFOs that I had never considered. To help shield secret military testing, the government is actually working in cahoots with conspiracy theorists and those that believe in extraterrestrials. It feels like meta- paranoia that we are now concocting conspiracy theories to explain conspiracy theories but if there's one thing I know about America it's that we can never get enough of a good thing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Willy Boy

    UFOs as weapons of deception and psychological warfare. Alleged covert operations that beggar belief! Visitation by advanced extraterrestrials is but nothing in comparison to the endless duplicity and callousness of man! Is 'reality' little more than a tapestry of fictions, precariously liable to unravel? One of the few truly essential UFO books, and one that should be read by all regardless of viewpoint on the 'phenomenon'. UFOs as weapons of deception and psychological warfare. Alleged covert operations that beggar belief! Visitation by advanced extraterrestrials is but nothing in comparison to the endless duplicity and callousness of man! Is 'reality' little more than a tapestry of fictions, precariously liable to unravel? One of the few truly essential UFO books, and one that should be read by all regardless of viewpoint on the 'phenomenon'.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I really enjoyed this book. It presents the intersection of the US military intelligence community and UFO buffs in a way that strikes me as very fresh - it never occurred to me, for example, that inter-service rivalry might account for some UFO events, and mapping a documented AFOSI disinformation campaign to the F117 program, and then extrapolating that along a timeline, is really informative.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill Weaver

    I was surprised when, right off the bat, Pilkington confesses to being a crop circle hoaxer. Prior to writing this work, he was also involved with a UFO group, but was asked to step down from a leadership role because of being too skeptical. Now, writing this narrative years later, he dives back down the UFO rabbit hole, a hoaxer interviewing other hoaxers like the inscrutable Rick Doty. If you haven’t seen the movie based on this book, I would also recommend it, just to get a gander at this guy I was surprised when, right off the bat, Pilkington confesses to being a crop circle hoaxer. Prior to writing this work, he was also involved with a UFO group, but was asked to step down from a leadership role because of being too skeptical. Now, writing this narrative years later, he dives back down the UFO rabbit hole, a hoaxer interviewing other hoaxers like the inscrutable Rick Doty. If you haven’t seen the movie based on this book, I would also recommend it, just to get a gander at this guy Doty, a master of disinformation (aka ‘hoaxes’) who nonetheless still manages to pass himself off as a UFO true believer. In the text, Pilkington finds Doty to be, despite a track record of manipulation and deceit, likeable. Somehow Doty seems more sinister in the film, and perhaps he is more ‘likeable’ in person. Pilkington, during the course of this book, is eventually himself accused of being an agent for MI6. I admit this book does not feel like a hoax at all, but then again, as Pilkington points out, “all good disinformation” needs to have a sprinkling of truth to do its work. (p. 140) Here perhaps Pilkington is luring in skeptics such as myself, reeling us in with the promise of a rational explanation in the form of advanced technology like ‘quiet’ helicopters (p. 154), radar spoofing to create “ghost aircraft” (pp. 90-91), or ultra top-secret “flying triangles” such as the TR-3B (pp. 17, 231) (which may be the type of vehicle that caused the ‘Phoenix Lights’ sighting in 1997, though Pilkington doesn’t mention this event). Thus, we skeptics can feel superior, as Pilkington accurately describes a “ufology arena . . . so rife with contradiction and paradox that believers must regularly develop complex new reasonings to maintain their faith in an extraterrestrial reality.” (p. 208) He describes the UFO “mythos” as a type of “collective cognitive dissonance”. (pp. 222, 221) Of course sophisticated researchers such as I would never fall for such tall tales, right? Pilkington pulls the reader in to his inner circle slowly and carefully. I would call this UFO folklore a program of communication in the systems theory sense, similar to ‘genre memory’, like the familiar trappings of an opera or a murder mystery, a typology with its own tropes and signposts to mark its passing through the social memory, or as the author notes, a “pattern that recurs time and time again”. (p. 208) The skeptic apparently also has a part to play in this drama. Ironically enough, as Pilkington tells it, some part of this ‘folklore’ may have been officially created. Pilkington describes how psyops have been used against populations that believed in vampires like the ‘aswang’ in the Philippines, where covert operators would leave bodies drained of blood to play to local fears. (pp. 73-74) Such operators like Doty, while working for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), contributed to counterintelligence operations conducted against a businessman named Paul Bennewitz, who had gotten too close to some secret U.S. technology. Bennewitz was eventually driven mad, they say, due to covert shenanigans perpetrated by AFOSI and the National Security Agency (NSA), but not before Mr. Bennewitz had spread quite a bit of disinformation through the ufology subculture. The intention of such a disinformation campaign or, as they say, “‘influence operations’”, is to create “a wall of noise around the subject that [makes] serious research difficult”. (pp. 178-79) This is perhaps a stepped-up version of what you could see on the Scooby Doo show most Saturday mornings growing up in the 70s, where old man Jenson dresses up as a ghost to scare away interlopers so he can steal the deed to the copper mine. Such an operation in the UFO context aligns with the recommendations of the Robertson Panel’s “debunking” agenda from the 50s (p. 85), to not only protect technological secrets but also to herd “the UFO faithful together, making keeping tabs on them all that much easier for the intelligence agencies”. (p. 105) Yet, even after numerous exposures of likely forged documents and agency-sponsored mischief, diehard UFO believers still cling to ‘truth’ in every form from an alien invasion to the now passé story about an interplanetary exchange program as depicted at the end of Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters’. (Google ‘Serpo’ if you like) For ‘serious’ (or skeptical?) UFO researchers, “‘[t]here is no measurable UFO evidence such as a piece of metal, flesh or cloth. We don’t even have any radio signals. A photograph is not a measurement.’” (p. 174) The author points out quite clearly, “if we rule out extraterrestrials, demons and non-human entities, then we are left with people.” (p. 155) Pilkington is not afraid to ask serious questions. “Was Antonio Villas Boas really kidnapped by sex-starved aliens?” (p. 110) Even scientific research backs up the unreliability of eyewitnesses. “Creating false memories is relatively easy, but when it comes to UFO entity encounters, this is a knife that cuts both ways.” (pp. 113) If groups can be infiltrated (pp. 56-57), individuals are “easier to manipulate and discredit than a large organization.” (p. 207) MI6 may have previously tried to use such a campaign to discredit the UN Sec General Boutros Boutros Ghali. (p. 14) I’ve always thought this was the most likely explanation for the Linda Cortile affair, an infamous ‘witnessed’ UFO abduction account that also implicated a top UN official and resulted in his public denials. (not discussed in this book but try Alien Dawn by Colin Wilson) But who knows what’s really going on? As one FBI investigator of the infamous MJ-12 documents phrased it, “‘ . . . the government doesn’t know what it knows.’” (p. 216) Will there ever be a ‘big reveal’? The saucers landing on the White House lawn? A Spielberg light show / alien rendezvous in Times Square? Pilkington suggests that powerful actors have much to gain by keeping this Mystery Machine on the road, chillingly hinting after one particular interview with the famous CIA man Dr. Christopher "Kit" Green that this could be as much about “desensitization” as disinformation. (pp. 277-83) I am left wondering if this is the entire point of this book/hoax. Despite the number of hoaxes detailed within these pages, Pilkington still manages to conclude “UFOs are real”, even if ultimately the phenomenon provokes an “ontological catastrophe, in which the boundaries that separate reality and fantasy . . . break down.” (p. 295, 305) I’m curious what Pilkington would say about the most recent incursions or ‘UAPs’ (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). Perhaps I’ll do more research…

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Mirage Men> is one of the rare books dealing with the UFOs and paranormal that I would recommend without hesitation to those just getting interested in the subject. For that reason--and that reason alone--I gave it less than a stellar star rating. As someone who is, apparently, incredibly immersed in the history and culture of UFOlogy far too much of this book was rehash and citation of earlier books and stories. However, it's awesome for presenting great profiles of some of the key figures in th Mirage Men> is one of the rare books dealing with the UFOs and paranormal that I would recommend without hesitation to those just getting interested in the subject. For that reason--and that reason alone--I gave it less than a stellar star rating. As someone who is, apparently, incredibly immersed in the history and culture of UFOlogy far too much of this book was rehash and citation of earlier books and stories. However, it's awesome for presenting great profiles of some of the key figures in the developing story of UFOlogy over the past three decades--men like Rick Doty, Kit Green, and Walter Bosley (with whom I've corresponded and of whom I'm a great admirer) come through as honestly as possible. And, "honest" in this context obviously means "hiding things, but aware that you know they're hiding things." The interactions with these "Mirage Men" kept me reading to the end of Pilkington's book and--for me--were its saving grace. A good comparison is to John Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats. I knew the majority of Ronson's story before I read the book but still found myself unable to put it down. Pilkington's work, on the other hand, I read in fits and starts over the past few months. I would definitely recommend Mirage Men but only to those who are new to the field.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Slightly disjointed in style, this book can't quite decide if it wamts to be gonzo journalism told first hand or a hard-nosed investigation into American alphabet agency UFO disinformation shenanigans. Still, has some intriguing insights into the murky world of the disinfo agents - the "Mirage Men" of the title - and the mindsets of the ufologists they manipulate. Injects some much needed pyrrhonism into the field. You don't know what pyrrhonism is? Nor did I until I read the last chapter of thi Slightly disjointed in style, this book can't quite decide if it wamts to be gonzo journalism told first hand or a hard-nosed investigation into American alphabet agency UFO disinformation shenanigans. Still, has some intriguing insights into the murky world of the disinfo agents - the "Mirage Men" of the title - and the mindsets of the ufologists they manipulate. Injects some much needed pyrrhonism into the field. You don't know what pyrrhonism is? Nor did I until I read the last chapter of this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gyrus

    Pilkington’s conclusions are admirably open-minded. His grip on common sense is very firm, but his sense of wonder and cosmic fun is strong enough that he’s prepared to let go every now and then, to see what it’s like. He knows that both rigour and playfulness demand that the door to the reality-warping Unknown be left ajar, but that limiting the risk of ending up with a tinfoil hat means it should stay on its hinges. More: http://dreamflesh.com/library/mark-pi... Pilkington’s conclusions are admirably open-minded. His grip on common sense is very firm, but his sense of wonder and cosmic fun is strong enough that he’s prepared to let go every now and then, to see what it’s like. He knows that both rigour and playfulness demand that the door to the reality-warping Unknown be left ajar, but that limiting the risk of ending up with a tinfoil hat means it should stay on its hinges. More: http://dreamflesh.com/library/mark-pi...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Great read. Details how UFO reports and the attendant folklore have been manipulated and propagated as disinformation tools by the intelligence community. In his fervor to debunk, Pilkington almost goes too far, ascribing more skill to the Air Force and CIA than they’ve demonstrated to the public, but it’s well-researched and pretty gripping reading, if you’re similarly obsessed with UFO folklore, the weird obsessive personalities that populate the UFO and intelligence worlds, and the like. 

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella Alziari

    Pros: VERY comprehensive history, well-researched, interesting personal experiences. Cons: too long, acted shocked by research when the facts were clear, kept pushing away facts and asking unnecessary questions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    I Want To Believe the Government did it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

    UFOs have long held a fascination in popular culture from the very first sighting of flying saucers to the Roswell Crash to the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the X-Files. The core mythology is consistent: aliens are here and the government knows this, having worked to access their technology. But how much of what we believe about UFOs is true? How did these ideas find their way into public consciousness? Who put this information out there? The truth is out there but it’s not UFOs have long held a fascination in popular culture from the very first sighting of flying saucers to the Roswell Crash to the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the X-Files. The core mythology is consistent: aliens are here and the government knows this, having worked to access their technology. But how much of what we believe about UFOs is true? How did these ideas find their way into public consciousness? Who put this information out there? The truth is out there but it’s not the truth anyone in the UFO community was expecting. This is a fascinating and sometimes unnerving journey beyond the accepted UFO mythology. The US airforce, intelligence agencies, and other government departments have been carefully orchestrating and manipulating the wider UFO community, feeding them good and bad information to point where people end up paranoid and driven insane by years of hoaxes and manipulations. And yet, there’s still the core story that they say is true. Is it true? Pilkington leaves us with no real confirmation other than the extent to which the government will go to protect its assets and newest technology. Do they even know the full extent of their manipulations? Probably not. Pilkington gives a full account both of recent UFO history and his own bizarre experiences in Roswell and Laughlin, Nevada, as he tries to uncover who these Mirage Men are and the extent of their work. He delivers a thought-provoking and deeper analysis of the recent UFO phenomenon and offers at least a convincing case for much of these sightings and phenomena. And yet, there are still those remaining unexplained. Are these the work of the Mirage Men or is there something else out there? We don’t know and perhaps we’ll never know. The UFO is a cypher onto which anyone and everyone projects something different, they are a symbol of the uncertainty of the atomic age and man’s search for meaning in a postwar world. And just maybe they are truly alien.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Art

    During the 1970s and 80s, a successful businessman named Paul Bennewitz noticed unusual objects in the sky near his home, which happened to overlook a U.S. Air Force Base. Believing the objects to be UFOs from outer space, Bennewitz contacted the Air Force with his concerns. Instead of telling Bennewitz he had witnessed secret experimental aircraft, the Air Force chose to encourage Bennewitz to believe he had witnessed Extraterrestrial craft from another planet. They sent an intelligence officer During the 1970s and 80s, a successful businessman named Paul Bennewitz noticed unusual objects in the sky near his home, which happened to overlook a U.S. Air Force Base. Believing the objects to be UFOs from outer space, Bennewitz contacted the Air Force with his concerns. Instead of telling Bennewitz he had witnessed secret experimental aircraft, the Air Force chose to encourage Bennewitz to believe he had witnessed Extraterrestrial craft from another planet. They sent an intelligence officer named Richard Doty to speak with Bennewitz. Doty, and other intelligence agents, used Bennewitz and other UFO enthusiasts to spread disinformation stories throughout the UFO community. Bennewitz, who bought into the government disinformation, became extremely paranoid and eventually had a nervous breakdown. If you choose to read this fascinating book, be prepared to go down a rabbit hole filled with smoke and mirrors. The author strongly suggests that "popular ideas about UFOs have been shaped and manipulated by disinformation specialists within America's intelligence apparatus: the Mirage Men." It was done primarily to cover up secret government operations (i.e. development of new types of aircraft, mind control experiments and testing of the environment).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Henry Begler

    suffered from one of those things where you hear about something and you mean to read it because you’re interested in the topic, but then you read more and more about the topic so when you finally get to the book it’s kind of superfluous/stuff you already know. not the book’s fault. starts off kind of disjointed/hard to get into but when the journalistic narrative of the book picks up it’s good fun and definitely one of the more clear-headed reads on the UFO topic. shares my interest in it as a suffered from one of those things where you hear about something and you mean to read it because you’re interested in the topic, but then you read more and more about the topic so when you finally get to the book it’s kind of superfluous/stuff you already know. not the book’s fault. starts off kind of disjointed/hard to get into but when the journalistic narrative of the book picks up it’s good fun and definitely one of the more clear-headed reads on the UFO topic. shares my interest in it as a social phenomenon and magnet for strange characters. comes to the inevitable conclusion that it’s all a wilderness of mirrors and not even the people purposefully spreading false narratives know where these things begin and end. rick doty is like a real life don delillo character, you can’t make this stuff up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andres

    Very relevant again in these days of "disclosure" Very relevant again in these days of "disclosure"

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Just read some of this

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Reilly

    A fascinating book that is not really about UFO's but more about the idea of UFO's - and how they teach a lot about disinformation. A fascinating book that is not really about UFO's but more about the idea of UFO's - and how they teach a lot about disinformation.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Great look into counterintelligence and myth making in 80s-90s UFOlogy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah H

    This got a bit repetitive and I lost interest but what I did listen to was for sure enjoyable. Listened to on audio on hoopla. Read 40%ish.

  28. 4 out of 5

    headless_roland

    a solid argument for skepticism about nearly everything that our governments and media tell us

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Some interesting material in here that makes you question the authenticity of UFO sightings/stories, when you learn about the historical involvement of US intelligence groups. However I found it all very dragged out and towards the end of the book I was skimming through it, and dying for it to be over. Overall, some fascinating, memorable anecdotes but too convoluted.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    A must read for anyone interested in UFOlogy. The main thrust of the book is that the government - particularly the CIA, DIA, and Air Force - do not want people looking to the skies, because we sight their classified projects (or in some cases, projects of other countries). Given that people do, they would rather have it that people believe what they are seeing is from another world. UFO research groups are regularly infiltrated and fed disinformation, and much of what the believers take for cer A must read for anyone interested in UFOlogy. The main thrust of the book is that the government - particularly the CIA, DIA, and Air Force - do not want people looking to the skies, because we sight their classified projects (or in some cases, projects of other countries). Given that people do, they would rather have it that people believe what they are seeing is from another world. UFO research groups are regularly infiltrated and fed disinformation, and much of what the believers take for certain nowadays (such as the existence of MJ-12) was probably fabricated by Air Force Intelligence. The book also presents a fascinating look into the state of military technology over the last 65 years. All of this is done with a human touch, as the authors describe how the Air Force and the NSA drove poor Paul Bennewitz insane. Yet at the end, we are left with the tantalizing possibility that the reason for the disinformation is so that when disclosure is finally made, the government can say, "See, the truth is not nearly as weird as you think it is." The one criticism I have is that the authors do not even touch on the abduction phenomena.

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