This is the second in a series of Friday posts on this blog called Friday Thoughts, or #Foughts, an in depth discussion on a character or topic I have found particularly interesting, or has divided opinion. The Men in Black are a huge recurring figure when it comes to UFO sightings and alien abductions, but are they a figment of the imagination or are they something much more sinister?
One starless night you take your dog out for a walk on the field behind your house. It’s late, you haven’t been able to sleep in this heat, and you’ve started taking these late night walks with the dog. Each night it’s empty and silent, only a stirring of the long grass, but this particular night is different. Above you, a plane unlike one you’ve ever seen seems to drift over you, as if it is scanning you. It’s round, there are red lights flashing below it. It hovers above you and, incredibly, you see figures through a window on its bottom. They don’t look human. Huge buggy eyes and dark complexions, they are as enthralled by you as you are by them. And then the craft leaves, moves away to the trees, further and higher, until it’s vanished. After a sleepless night, you get up in the morning unsure whether what you saw actually happened. You haven’t told anyone, maybe you’ll tell your mate at the pub at the weekend, they won’t believe you, but it’ll be one hell of a story. You get a knock at the front door and two men in black suits and black hats stand there. They tell you they’re selling insurance, but they don’t seem like the regular salesmen. Somehow they’re in your house, sitting on your sofa and telling you the events of the previous night, in minute detail nobody but you could have known. They threaten you, tell you to tell nobody if you value your security. They terrify you, and leave you sitting there shaking. Who were they? Where did they come from? How did they know?
This story sounds like one of fiction, and yet there are numerous reports of these mysterious men, usually in pairs or threes, identical in height, identical in looks, wearing identical clothing and arriving in a black car. They give no identification, but they are professional and strong and they scare the hell out of the people they approach. They scare people so much that even those who have dedicated years of their life in pursuit of life from another planet have dropped everything after receiving a visit. Some of these records tell of men so tall, so pale, so inhuman, there is something extraterrestrial about them.
The first sighting of the men in black occurred after the Maury Island Incident in 1947. Harold Dahl was with his son and dog on his boat searching for driftwood when he saw several donut-shaped objects in the sky. One of the UFOs began dropping light metal and very hot materials after being bumped by another, and his son’s arm was severely burnt and his dog was killed. Some debris landed on the beach which Dahl took, and he took photos of the UFOs, but these were ‘lost’ after the incident. After taking his son to hospital, and burying his dog at sea, he told his co-worker Fred Crisman. This man was known for his elaborate tales and it’s widely thought that he exaggerated whatever the original tale was, in order to gain publicity, as he contacted the media and made sure that he was the line of contact, even though he had not been there himself during the incident.
Dahl was approached the day after the incident by a man in black driving a black Buick. He took him for breakfast and told the details of the incident to Dahl, (who had only told his co-worker at this point), and warned him that ‘bad things would happen’ to him and his family if he spoke publicly about it. In an official FBI record, Dahl told an investigator that he was going to say it had been a hoax ‘because he did not want any further trouble on the matter’. Even if the incident had really happened and Dahl was approached by a man in black, Crisman and himself did speak publicly about the incident. They even invited two Air Force personnel who wanted to investigate the island, to fly to Maury Island and take a look. The men actually died during their journey back from the island, which followed the FBI to tell the men to admit it was a hoax: the FBI had been looking into the evidence and statement from Dahl and decided that there were too many holes in the story to be true. The photos, the debris Dahl supposedly picked up had gone missing, there was no evidence left on the island or damage to his boat, and now two men had lost their lives in a crash which could have been prevented. After this, the men did claim it was a hoax but went back on this and their story was published some years later.
Even though Dahl’s only son said years later that he was not even with his father on the day of the incident, never mind not being burnt at all, it still asks the question: ‘did a man in black approach Dahl?’ Did somebody from the government try to shut him up? It seems very strange that Dahl also made this part of the story up which would crop up in future with UFO theorists who have been threatened by the same men, and even taken proof of their existence.
Albert K Bender had always been interested in supernatural phenomena and founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB) in 1952, sharing information with other like-minded people to find out if aliens were real. He mysteriously shut the club down a year later, removing himself from extraterrestrial related phenomena. It took him nine years to reveal that he was visited by three men in black in March 1953 who told him the origins of UFOs, that aliens do exist and they were aliens taking human form (from humans they had abducted). After the visit he took ill and didn’t eat for about three days, and wouldn’t tell people in the club what had happened. His friends said he got frequent headaches and seemed very scared. At the same time, Bender had a magazine called Space Review and claimed that he was going to print the truth about UFOs as he had been investigating and had found the truth. He never published this story as he was visited by these men in black in 1953, and feared that publishing it would have negative consequences.
A man who was in the IFSB and wrote articles for Bender’s magazine, called Gray Barker, managed to get something out of Bender in 1953 and published a book called ‘They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers’ in 1956, in which he described the three men, wearing black suits and driving a black car, hired to keep people quiet. Whether Bender made the story up, Barker was actually skeptical about extraterrestrial phenomena and only wrote about it because of money. After Bender ended his investigations into UFOs, he founded a music company and only dabbled in investigations when he collaborated with Barker on a book where he said that the men were extraterrestrials themselves. It seems strange that he would found a club dedicated to the study of UFOs, the largest international civilian club on the matter, and then dissolve it and his popular magazine only a year later, if the men in black are a hoax. And it doesn’t explain the further incidents with these mysterious figures.
John Keel wrote an in-depth article for Saga magazine in 1967. Titled ‘Agents of Terror’ he investigated visits by the men in black and even tried to track them down. There had been incidents by UFO witnesses where they were approached by men saying they were from the Air Force, asking them questions and threatening them to not speak of it to others. The Air Force had never sent their own personnel to threaten civilians, and didn’t even have a department related to extraterrestrial incidents. This caused the FBI to look into the incidents and create a department, called ‘Project Blue Book’. Keel included FBI documents in the article, that they knew and had investigated thousands of UFO incidents by civilians and in the end evaluated that the evidence wasn’t raw enough to be seen as true. In their records they believe that civilian UFO clubs and researchers are dangerous to mass thinking, basically opening the door for military personnel to use threats to stop them spreading their findings or beliefs. So far, it seems likely that people are making up the sightings of the men in black. If the military can’t claim they actually exist, and with witnesses claiming they may be extraterrestrials themselves, it seems like it could be a story to exaggerate their experience and further their publicity. But not when there is physical evidence of their existence and witnesses describing them exactly the same way.
Probably the most chilling case comes from a local doctor in Maine, in 1975. Dr. Herbert Hopkins was hypnotising a patient who believed they had been abducted earlier that year, and the hypnotism was to try and unearth repressed memories. He had information on the UFO encounter and abduction told from the patient in his home, and 6 months after the abduction took place, the doctor had a visit from a man in black. It started with a phone call: a man from a New Jersey UFO organisation (he was not) who asked if he could speak to him and if he was alone. The doctor said yes and put the phone down. He walked to his front door to turn the light on and the man was already walking up his front steps. The man was traditionally wearing black, with a black hat, and had a monotone voice. When he sat down and removed his hat, the doctor saw the man had no eyelashes or eyebrows. He had very white skin and his lips were red, as if he was wearing lipstick. He wore grey gloves and at one point during the interview, he brushed the back of his hand on his lips and it left a red mark on the glove, and was smeared on his mouth. The doctor saw that the man indeed had no lips, merely a slit, and was wearing lipstick in an attempt to look like natural lips. This interview goes from chilling to bizarre when he told the doctor to hold a coin in his palm. He watched as the coin turned from bronze to silver, go fuzzy and disappear. In response the MIB said ‘no one on this plain will ever see that coin again.’ He asked the doctor if he knew a Barney Hill who had supposedly been abducted, and had recently died of a heart attack. He replied ‘yes’ he knew of this man. The MIB told him that he hadn’t died of a heart attack, and what had just happened to the coin had in fact happened to Barney Hill’s heart. After researching this story, I found that what the doctor reported was most probably the result of a drunken dream, or a complete fiction, as his nephew called him out for being constantly drunk every night and was ‘a fantasy-prone individual’.
Reading into the case of Barney and Betty Hill, there is one striking problem. The couple were driving home from a trip at the Niagara Falls when they saw a UFO. They drove after it, trying to get a better look at it. The UFO seemed to descend above them when they got out of their car, and Barney could see through a pair of binoculars that there were several short men in the craft looking down at them. Terrified, they both got into the car and drove away as fast as they could, Barney having the irresistable urge to drive off the road into the woods. He did this and on the dirt track the car seized up. They were then approached by the small men who were waiting in the woods for them. This was the moment the couple were abducted. They lost consciousness and memory, and seemed to wake up driving on the road 35 miles from where the car had stopped. Through hypnosis, they were able to tell details of the exam that took place on the UFO, and were the subject of many magazines, films, TV programs and even published books. However, with this detailed event and with so much information going public, there is no record of the couple ever being visited by the MIB. And, the striking problem? Barney Hill died from cerebral hemorrhage, a fatality in the brain not in his heart.
As much as the initial story of the abduction seems credible, it has been picked at for years and years, and Betty was actually jeered off the stage at a UFO convention for her wild sightings which included levitating trucks on the freeway. The evidence she gave for the abduction has been refuted, including the ripped dress she kept in her closet for years before she gave it forward for analysis.
Another strange occurrence is a famous photograph called the ‘Solway Firth Spaceman‘. A fireman, Jim Templeton, was taking photos of his daughter on a day out. He said later that there was only an elderly couple in a car on the road out of shot, but in some photos his wife can be seen. On the one famed photo, he took a shot of his daughter and when it was developed there is a ‘spaceman’ standing behind her. Kodak concluded that the photograph was genuine and the story spread like wildfire across media. Templeton told a newspaper that shortly after the photograph was printed in the newspaper, he was approached by two men in black. They drove him to the place where he had taken the photographs, and when he told them that he had seen nobody else in the area who could have been in shot especially not a man in a spacesuit, that angrily drove off and left him there to walk back home himself. Although Templeton is still dumbfounded by the stranger in the photo, it’s been offered that the figure is his wife, over-exposed, with her back turned to the camera, as she appears in other photos on that day.
John Keel writes about the many instances in which people who have dedicated hours obsessing over UFO sightings, published extraterrestrial articles and even collected UFO debris, have suddenly destroyed any kind of UFO-related evidence and dropped all of their research after being visited. However, some people have ignored the MIB threats and it seems that the MIB are verbally terrifying but don’t follow through with their threats.
One government group who had been found to harass witnesses to shut them up was the NICAP, a small group in the Washington headquarters who investigated extraterrestrial sightings or experiences in a bid to work out what they might mean. Some members had threatened people and even the police stopped talking to them,they becoming such a nuisance to them. The deputy director admitted that some members got ‘a little carried away sometimes’ and they were kicked out of the group immediately. These men couldn’t have been mistaken for the MIB, as there are no sinister descriptions of them, only that they are essentially annoying pests with their own agendas.
Pushing the dramatics aside, government men dressed in black and driving a black car would be imposing enough. Imagine a man turning up at your doorstop in a bright suit with a zany tie driving a bright orange car. Would you take him seriously? Would he intimidate you?
In 1967, the most concrete evidence of the men in black began. Jack Robinson was assistant editor of ‘Saucer News’, a magazine that Timothy Berkeley edited and Jim Moseley owned. The three had become good friends, and after Robinson spoke with a group of teenagers about a sighting they had shared of strange creatures in New Jersey. While he was talking to them, he saw a black car pull up, and thought of the infamous MIB. After this, he had problems with his phone and break ins where only UFO-related files were broken into. When his wife left to get groceries, she could see a black car parked down the street and a man in black standing in the doorway to a building opposite their apartment block, scanning the people who entered and left. She called Berkeley and Moseley, afraid that it was either a prankster or somebody willing to do them real harm. The two men decided to take a look themselves, and drove to Robinson’s apartment. Indeed they saw the aforementioned car and man in the doorway and drove round the block looking for somewhere to park. They couldn’t find a spot to park but Berkeley snapped a photograph of the car and another of the man. They drove back round the block again and when they returned to the apartment, both man and car had vanished. The MIB are not very persistent, as the man never bothered Robinson again.
In 2002, Dan Ackroyd of ‘Ghostbusters’ fame was hosting a TV series called ‘Out There’ that had ground-breaking evidence of alien life. While filming the last episode, he took a fag break and answered a phone call from a friend. As he was smoking and chatting, he was pacing a little. He looked to his left then to his right and saw a black car. A man in a black suit, remarkably tall, climbed out from the back seat and stared at him with a particularly dark gaze. Dan didn’t really think much of it and turned to his left. His brain caught up with him and he turned to look at the man again, but the man and the car had vanished. He says that there is no way it could have turned and drove off or backed up out of sight in the second that he turned away. Two hours passed in which he was filming, and his crew received a phone call from the channel telling them that the show was cancelled and would not be aired on TV.
In 2008 the MIB were recorded on CCTV, the only known video of them, when they entered a hotel in Niagara Falls to interview the hotel manager who had witnessed a UFO outside the hotel several weeks earlier. The manager was not there on the day, but there are two witness: the bellboy and the receptionist, who spoke with the men. Their descriptions are eerie: the men were tall, identical height and identical looking, they had no facial hair including eyelashes and eyebrows, and were very pale. They had piercing blue eyes and the receptionist claimed that she feared, for a reason unknown to her, that they could read her mind and she consciously tried to think of something other than the manager to deter them. They interrogated them for 30 minutes, not blinking at all during the encounter, and then left. The witnesses said the men were talking about things they couldn’t understand, and the UFO sighting and conspiracy theories and demanded to speak to the manager. A group called the AFI were investigating the UFO sighting at the time and studied the video of the men. They say that the witnesses are credible and it is unknown which organisation the men belong to.
In 2014 a website published an account of a man who had been followed by men in black for years, since he was abducted from age 5 and believes he was subsequently abducted all his years, his memory wiped of each event. He took a video of the men, who seem to be waiting for a tram in New Orleans, staring right at him. They stood there for twenty minutes until the tram arrived, then they turned and left. They got into a black car parked on the road. The man doesn’t give his real name, we’ll call him Jack, and he’s been haunted by these MIB for most of his life. No matter where he has moved to around the country, he always sees them. They have threatened him in the past, threats that he does not disclose in this article for fear of them carrying out those threats. The man wasn’t alone on this day in New Orleans, he was with a close friend who didn’t know about his story, and she was deeply unnerved about their presence. She says they were very pale, looked the same, and seemed to talk ‘without moving their lips’. After she had gone home, Jack tried to send the video to her but her SD card malfunctioned on her phone and wiped off the video plus all the photos she had taken that day. I found the video and the man’s voice-over explaining the video. The details seem to be different to the website, but it is two years older than the online article. One big difference is that the man in the article is in his fifties, but the voice-over on the video sounds younger. On looking closely, I would say the men seem intimidating by the way they keep looking directly at Jack but I see nothing inhuman about them. One of them carries a camera bag in his hand, is he photographing the man’s whereabouts and actions? Is there a packed file of this man spanning years of his life? Are there packed files on other people just like him? The video does correspond with the description of the men shown in the video of the Niagara Falls hotel, but doesn’t that strengthen the idea that it may be a hoax?
Some are described as pale, tall, with no lips and no hair, and others are described as deep tanned, with low slanting eyes like of an Oriental origin, and don’t speak English very well. I found countless incidents where they had visited people, some even just living in the area of a sighting and not the actual witness to a sighting, posing as salesmen for insurance, religion and vacuum cleaners. It seems like an unorganised shambles of an operation in an attempt to cover up people’s stories, and it’s no wonder there are conspiracies that these MIB are extraterrestrials themselves. Me, however, think the truth is more grounded.
The evidence clearly shows the MIB are human, official looking, and serious. I believe the government knows about these men and have them to cover up witness’s statements or frighten them so that they will drop their story. For what reason? If aliens don’t exist and what people are seeing is military tests, their top secret military training is not compromised if they let people tell the story of UFOs. If aliens do exist and what people are seeing is actual alien evidence, if they let people tell the story that they saw a UFO, people generally don’t take them seriously, so the secrets are not compromised. Who or what do you think the men in black are? Do you think the government is hiding extraterrestrial information or do you think it is a long-standing hoax?