Every year has to have at least one UFO hoax to irritate the sensible people within ufology. In 2005, there were two significant ones - Prophet Yahweh and Project Serpo (which is continuing into 2006). Which was / is more ridiculous? You make the call.
The self-proclaimed "Prophet Yahweh" claimed that he could call spaceships upon command. At his website, it stated that people should:
"Be Advised! YAHWEH and His Angels are superhuman Beings, on other planets, Who fly in spaceships!" The Prophet Yahweh (he had his name legally changed, from Ramon Watkins), "has been blessed to resurrect the lost, ancient art of summoning UFOs and actual spaceships on command."
In a press release on May 23, which marked a ufological hoax version of the "limited time offer" seen so often on commercials, Watkins... er, Prophet Yahweh, stated that for 45 days, and only 45 days, from June 1st until July 15th, he would be calling down "UFOs and spaceships" (apparently there is a difference between the two in Yahweh's world) for the news media to film and photograph (if you couldn't get to him, he was happy to come to you - all expenses paid, of course). Then, at the end of the 45 day period, a spaceship would descend, and hover in the sky, for almost two days, near Las Vegas (where else??).
KTNV, a Las vegas ABC affiliate, took him up on his offer, specified the location and the date and time, showed up, and - sure enough - Yahweh managed to summon not just one "UFO," but two. The reporter in the video clip (Channel 13) seemed genuinely surprised, which simply proves that you can fool some people in the media. One look at the video, however, or others made by Prophet Yahweh himself, which can be seen at his website (only view them if you don't have to pay for it), and it should be apparent to anyone but the most credulous that what the "prophet" summoned was a balloon.
Prophet Yahweh went on to make a host of other promises, none of which were met - including a 50 state "Black Israelites Only UFO Summoning Tour," which he described as follows:
"Very soon, you'll see the videos of me going to all 50 American states, waking up my people, black people of slave descent, to the fact that we are the original and true Jews of the nation of Israel! I will wake my people up, from their deep sleep, by calling down YAHWEH's UFOs as a sign that the things I say are true! As a result of this, I am destined to:
1.) trigger the mass awakening of my people to the fact that we are the true Jews of the Israelite nation
2.) and start the greatest movement ever of my people since we were brought to this country as slaves.
We are the true Jews, of the tribe of Judah, of the nation of Israel!
We are the Israelites!"
As for the "tour," it never happened. Why not? Well, according to Prophet Yahweh, it was because the media stopped paying attention to him, and the space beings wanted media attention (I swear, for those of you unfamiliar with this "story," I'm not making it up), so without it they wouldn't appear.
The nadir of this "story" came with Yahweh's attempts to win the $1 million Paranormal challenge set up by James "the Amazing" Randi. You can read the hilarious correspondence between Yahweh and the administrator of the challenge here.
However, Prophet Yahweh did continue to get plenty of attention from the "alternative media," which, contrary to the claims of its defenders, is not any different than the "mainstream media" they love to deride - at least not in terms of what drives them to do what they do.
Take Jeff Rense, for example (please, someone take him, far, far away). When KTNV showed some common sense (they said the story was being "blown way out of proportion," which was true), and decided to back out of anymore filming / reporting of Prophet Yahweh's ongoing scam, here is how it played on the Rense website.
"Note - Since when does a tv news department drop a RED HOT story? Answer: When it is TOLD to. - Jeff"
Ahh... good old Rense. Like most in the "alternative media" (I say "most," because there are always exceptions that prove the general rule), the man can - and more importantly, will - make anything seem like a cover-up or conspiracy, so long as it helps ratings (i.e. makes a prophet... er, profit). Even better is when an alleged cover-up or conspiracy comes along, masquerading as "breaking news."
Speaking of which...
If you have some spare time, are of sound mind (and hopefuly body), and want a good chuckle, wander over to the latest UFO hoax craze, Project Serpo. What was Project Serpo? It was, according to the "anonymous source" that is releasing the "information," the gradual release of "confidential documents pertaining to a top secret exchange program of twelve US military personnel to Serpo, a planet of Zeta Reticuli, between the years 1965-78."
Gradual, of course, so as to better maximize the opportunities for profit, and make as many appearances on "alternative media" programs as possible.
From the Serpo website comes this description of the "information":
"The information began to be released on 2 November 2005 by a retired senior official within the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who calls himself “Anonymous”. Until he chooses to make his name known, this is the way he will be represented here. Anonymous reports that he is not acting individually and is part of a group of six DIA personnel working together as an alliance: three current and three former employees. He is their chief spokesman.
Anonymous writes 85% of the material; another 13% comes from another source directly connected with the project; and the final 1-2% comes from a "ghost," who cancels his e-mail account as soon as he sends his information.
The information is currently being released in installments on a private UFO e-mail list moderated by Victor Martinez. The list contains about a hundred and fifty people, including many extremely well-known names in UFO research and related or leading edge scientific fields. Until permissions are granted, their names will be withheld out of courtesy and to respect confidentiality.
Those on the list have differing views regarding the veracity of Anonymous’ claims. However, the pedigree of the list as a whole is important to emphasize. There has been a substantial amount of intelligent discussion about the revelations, and it is important to state that there are many senior people in the US Intelligence and Military community who are taking this information very seriously. It may now be time to release this information to a wider audience, in close approximation to the format in which it was originally made available."
Hmm... does this remind anyone of Majestic-12, that greatest of all ufological hoaxes? It should. The same MO is there (anonymous sources with earth-shattering revelations, dribbled out over time), as is the same claim of "objectivity" by some of the "investigators," i.e. "Those on the list have differing views regarding the veracity of Anonymous' claims" (remember Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera's The MJ-12 Documents: An Analytical Report, wherein they debunked some MJ-12 documents - not very many, mind you - and then assigned percentages relating to the probable authenticity of the others?).
Of course, there is one final aspect of the Project Serpo scam that should bring back "fond" memories of the MJ-12 saga - the involvement of Rick Doty.
It's almost like listening to a "greatest hits of the 1980s" CD.
With the Project Serpo hooey, it has been Coast to Coast, amongst the "alternative media," that has taken the lead for this "developing story," which is picking up momentum across the Internet. A few weeks ago, there was Doty, who has no place on any radio show that purports to seek the truth, on Coast to Coast, chatting away about Serpo.
Stuart Miller hit the nail on the head at his blog when he wrote:
"The real question for me is, is this old stuff or has [Doty] just got bored and had a bit of a play again, just for old times sake? And if it is old stuff, why has it re-surfaced now? What is this evil genius's master plan? Hold on a moment; did I say genius? In terms of what we do know about his activities, bumbling incompetent would seem a fairer description. And he just can't leave the bloody subject alone. I wish he would."
Now, there are those who might think that, sure, this is fake, but it's disinformation, designed to distract ufologists, and throw them off the scent.
Nope. In my opinion, it's just a scam. There is real disinformation out there, about all sorts of things, but none of it is this clumsy and obvious.
Either way, however, you can count on the "alternative media" to continue to run with the story for a while in 2006, because, as I said above - it's good for ratings, and that's what drives them - just as it drives the "mainstream media," which some on the fringes of ufology refer to as the "hijacked mainstream media."
Well, even assuming that the mainstream media has been "hijacked" by the government and big corporations, then episodes like Yahweh and Serpo (and so many others) show that the big names of the "alternative media" consort with wackos and con-artists (or worse), all so they can turn a buck or two off of people gullible enough to swallow this stuff.
This doesn't mean that you can't get useful information from the "alternative media," just that people need to recognize what their agenda really is, what drives them, and then exercise the same caution with it that you would with any other source of information.
And that's the real story here.