Long-time "alien abduction" researcher Roger Leir has died, ironically in a hospital whilst awaiting surgery on his foot (Leir was a podiatrist). I always thought that Leir was one of the more dangerous of the UFO true believers, because he was conducting surgery on people and removing "alien implants." Anytime you cut into someone, you run the risk of complications, no matter how simple the procedure might seem. Accordingly, you don't do it unless you absolutely have to, an ethical and common sense precept that Leir routinely ignored with his "surgeries" on "alien absuction victims." While the hypnosis practiced by people like like David Jacobs and Derrel "The Alien Hunter" Sims is bad, Leir's implant "research" was far worse. The fact that Sims and Leir worked together for several years created a perfect storm of irresponsibility.
I met Leir a couple of times at conferences, and while on the surface he always seemed sincere in his true belief and could be very friendly and charming, I was convinced that he was in it all for whatever money he could scam out of people, and perhaps the attention that came with being a relatively big fish in a very small pond - witness his part in one of the craziest ideas I have ever seen in the UFO subculture, the attempt to raise money for a feature film so that the sale of the feature film could raise money for a serious UFO research center.
As I wrote at the time in 2006:
"I have an FYI for Dr. Leir - the LAST way you go about raising money for a research center, if that is your true goal, is to raise the money, and then make a lousy, low budget film, which will almost certainly never turn a profit, and will in all probability LOSE money, as most films do these days. If you're really serious about raising money for this so-called research center, why don't you just raise the money for the research center?"I then identified what I believed was the real reason that Leir was looking to make a film. "Here's another question," I wrote. "When the budget is finished (and who goes around looking for investors when they don't even have a budget yet??), how much is Dr. Leir going to take in producer fees? Other fees? Corporate overhead?"
Of course, no movie was ever made, and no research center was ever established. How could it have been? As I said, no-one makes a feature film in order to raise money for a research center. But Leir no doubt pocketed some coin from the suckers willing to suspend disbelief and donate, and he basked in the glow of their support (I know, because I was there when he announced it at the International UFO Conference), so it was mission accomplished.
Leir will continue to have his defenders, and he will no doubt continue to be seen by some as a paragon of serious research, but that shouldn't come as a surprise in a subculture where convicted criminal Wendelle Stevens remained a leading figure until his death (Stevens still has ardent supporters).
I know that we're never supposed to speak ill of the dead, but that's a social convention that shouldn't apply when dealing with someone you are convinced was engaged in unethical and dangerous practices, as I'm convinced was the case with Leir. I certainly wouldn't have wished Leir dead, but I won't mourn him either, nor will I pretend that he was something other than what he was. In the end my take-away from the news of his passing is this: while his friends and family will undoubtedly grieve, the people whom Leir was cutting into in an effort to convince them and others that they had been abducted by aliens will be better off without him.