Published: 12:17 PM 8/19/2014
By Eileen Shim
Bad news: That something might have been planted by the U.S. government.
That's the allegation made by the new documentary Mirage Men, which argues that for years, the government has been misleading the public with fake UFO intel and evidence — and Edward Snowden might have the evidence to back it up.
Mirage Men includes testimony from a former Air Force special investigations officer named Richard Doty, who was a real-life "man in black" for the U.S. government. In the documentary, Doty claims that he was instructed to infiltrate UFO circles and disseminate false information; others even planted fake alien evidence and encouraged ufologists to study them.
"Doty had this wonderful way to sell it – 'I'm with the government. You cooperate with us and I'm going to tell you what the government really knows about UFOs, deep down in those vaults,'" a UFO researcher told the Guardian.
Why would the government do this? The short answer: to use people as guinea pigs in a national security study.
It's true that many alien enthusiasts end up picking up strange signals and transmissions — but often, these end up having a more earthly origin, namely the U.S. military. Back in the '70s and '80s, the government started receiving tips about strange sounds and sightings and realized that their secrets could easily be exposed.
So the government started a program to lay a false breadcrumb trail: This way, they could lead people down the wrong path and stay apprised of what the conspiracy community was talking about.
How does Snowden tie into this? All this might seem unbelievable, but the latest leak by NSA whistleblower Snowden seems to back up Mirage Men's claim. The leak consists of a Powerpoint by the British spy agency GCHQ, purpotedly instructing spies on how to mislead the public and spread false information.
What's more, photographs of fake UFO hoaxes were used in the slideshow, lending credence to the idea that at the very least, government agencies are fanning the flames of curiosity — and in the worst case scenario, they are actively lying to the public to get security scoops.
This has dangerous implications. It can be easy to dismiss ufologists and conspiracy theorists, but the idea of a government taking advantage of its citizens' gullibility is unsettling — especially when you consider the potential impact on one's mental health.
The Guardian details the story of Paul Bennewitz, an engineer who contacted the Air Force back in the '70s when he became convinced that he was picking up alien signals. The signals were actually from the Air Force, but instead of correcting Bennewitz, the officers — including Doty — allegedly egged him on, giving him computer software to "interpret" the signals and planting fake props for him to find.
The result: Bennewitz became obsessed with aliens and his family had to check him into a psychiatric facility by 1988.
While Bennewitz may have had a pre-existing condition, the allegation that the U.S. government actively participated in a citizen's mental breakdown remains disturbing.
So all those UFO sightings and alien traces might have had a real origin after all; it's just that that origin wasn't very extraterrestrial.