Kevin Randle. Reflections of a UFO Investigator, Anomalist Books, 2012

Kevin Randle first became interested in UFOs because of his mother's interest in science fiction and became more interested when he was in high school and read Brad Steiger's Strangers from the Skies (Award Books, New York, 1966).

Even in the early days of his research he became aware that some of the UFO witnesses were lying to him. He thus became cautious in his investigations of alleged UFO incidents. For example, he concluded that there was nothing to the 1897 airship stories, concluding: "And finally, the Great Airship turned out to be a series of tall tales manufactured by newspapers, members of Liars' Clubs, and guys who wanted to see their names in the newspaper".

One of the highlights of the book is Randle's account of his introduction to the investigation of abduction stories. He had joined APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) and had made a deal to mention their address in UFO articles, in exchange for information. He was sent details about the alleged abduction of Dionisio Llanca, a truck driver in Argentina, a story which was eventually agreed to have been a hoax. As a result of an article he wrote about it, he received a letter from a woman, Pat Roach, who thought she might have been abducted.She was willing to be hypnotised in order to recall the details, so he contacted APRO headquarters and they sent Dr James Harder, their Director of Research (who was not a psychologist, but an engineer).

At an early stage in his ufological career, Randle had developed the habit of taking notes or tape recordings of all interviews and he uses these to great effect to do an excellent demolition job on Harder's methods, which, involved asking many leading questions and giving information which plainly indicated the sort of things he wanted to hear. For example, he asked Roach if the aliens had placed her on a table and if they had stuck a needle in her stomach, although she had not mentioned anything of the sort. He apparently made no attempt to check whether her abduction account might have been contaminated by having read about similar experiences.

Particularly amusing are Randle's remarks on the way Harder appropriated his abduction case for his own benefit. When Randle was going to take some pictures of the hypnotic regression session, Harder told him that this would be inappropriate. A few months later he saw Harder regressing Pat Roach on a TV programme, which he had not told him about, and taking all the credit for discovering the case, giving Randle no acknowledgement.

In view of Randle's well-known obsession, it comes as no surprise to find that five of the seventeen chapters are devoted to Roswell. He first became interested in Roswell in June 1988, when he first met Don Schmitt. He had heard of Roswell before then, and had thought it was a hoax, but Schmitt convinced him that it was worth further investigation.

Despite his experiences with dishonest ufologists and unreliable witnesses, Randle believes that it was some kind of extraterrestrial device which crashed near Roswell in 1947. This belief seems to be based on little more than choosing to believe that persons who claimed to have handled some of the wreckage were not liars or did not have false or distorted memories of events which happened many years ago. He knows from his earlier experiences investigating contact and abduction stories how both investigators and experiencers deceive or are self deceiving, but he does not apply this knowledge rigorously to his Roswell investigations.

There is much detail of methods of investigation and interviewing of witnesses. This makes it a book for the serious UFO enthusiast rather than the casual reader. -- John Harney.

1 comment:

  1. I believe Kevin is referring to an episode of In Search Of... which features Roach and Harder.


    As I mention in the comments at the linked article, the show doesn't say in what field Harder got his PhD, thus duping the viewer.