31 August 2010


Malcolm Robinson. UFO Case Files of Scotland: Amazing Real Life Alien Encounters. Healings of Atlantis, 2009.

Brian Allan. Heretics Past and Present: Can We Now Explain the Unexplainable? O Books. 2010.

The Scottish UFO group Strange Phenomena Investigators was rather controversial back in the 1990s, with its promotion of hypnotic regression to investigate alleged UFO abductions, and its rather, how shall we put it, unorthodox, methods of investigation. Of the two books produced by former members, Malcolm Robinson's is not without interest, and is fairly transparent as to various issues.
Perhaps its main problem is that it was compiled in about 2003 from much earlier material with minimal editing. Thus we get several appeals for a Freedom of Information act, years after one was passed and the voluminous but inconclusive ufo files released, though as this material does not support ufologists beliefs there are still calls for the "real" material to be released.

Several of the classic Scottish cases are discussed, such as Bonnybridge, the A70 abduction, Robert Taylor etc. Most interesting of the cases presented here is the Fife incident which takes up just under a third of the book. This represents an excellent example of a collection of protean anomalous experiences which can be interpreted in a number of ways according to the beliefs of the experient, the investigators and the general cultural background. There is a summary here
http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case52.htm but it probably understates the general weirdness. The witnesses here, I suspect, decided not to be turned into classic abductees and refused further contact with ufologists.

There are some amusing asides: the Bonnybridge UFO conference taken over by a religious cult promoting the claims of The Nine, whose tree hugging New Age approach did not go down at all with the locals, who complained "what's this to do with UFOs over Bonnybridge?" and booed the speakers off the stage. Then there is Nick Pope's belief that people were being abducted by UFOs in "order to civilise human society".

Whether you agree with Robinson or not, his book at least contains some meat, the same cannot be said for SPIer Brian Allan's Heretics, which has nothing whatever new to say. He is a devotee it would appear of chaos magic (a misunderstanding of chaos theory which suggests you can direct small effects to a desired outcome, whereas chaos theory says exactly the opposite, small effects can produced unpredictable results), but there is more chaos than magic in his rambling account.

It starts of with potted biographies of various figures in the occult field, (Aleister Crowley, Dennis Wheatley, Col John Alexander, Austin Osman Spare, Kenneth Grant, Anton LeVay. Charles Manson, Bobby Beusoliel and Kenneth Anger). It then does the same for the authors H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, rather suggesting that these fantasy writers were psychically aware of the mysterious and ominous entities. Nothing original but making some sort of sense.

There is then descent into the usual, half understood science, backyard theology, rambling pseudoscience, etc., typical of the literature of this type from generations ago, which will be familiar to former habituƩs of BUFORA's Kensington Central Library lectures from the 1970s. -- Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

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