December 2015 marks a very special double anniversary, 50 years since John Harney wrote his first editorial for the then Merseyside UFO Group Newsletter, shortly to become the MUFORG Bulletin, the prehistoric ancestor of Magonia, and 40 years since the first issue of the new series of MUFOB under the editorship of John Rimmer. I am sure that readers of this blog will join me in congratulating the two Johns for their sterling work over such a period of time.

Anyone who looks back over the contents of MUFORG, MUFOB and Magonia will see how many ideas presented now being presented as amazing new ideas were first noted in those earl;y issues. Sadly today a huge amount of effort is being spent in re-inventing the wheel. For example in an article on the Skinwalker Ranch in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Peter McCue suggests that all sorts of anomalous phenomena are really aspects of the same thing, flap areas are mega-hauntings and that psychical researchers should ask whether people who have had ghost or poltergeist experiences whether they have had UFO or other anomalous experiences, and suggesting that all these experiences are the work of some mysterious intelligence.

Sounds familiar does it; that’s because that is exactly what John Keel was saying nearly 50 years ago! As a teenager under Keel’s influence, I wrote my very first letter to MUFOB more than 45 years ago in the Summer of 1969:“Among the ideas worth examining is the possibility that hauntings for example might be highly localised flap areas, that the various UFOs, airships, phantom ships, ghost cars, apparitions and mystery animals might be hallucinations generated as a subconscious attempt to rationalize a totally indefinable and incomprehensible stimulus”

MUFOB/Magonia however has taken a different take on Keel, the instance that there is no need for mysterious external intelligence or intelligences, that the intelligence behind all of these experiences is human imagination and culture. The imagination here is not simply that of the surface imagination, but of the deep or spontaneous imagination that surfaces in dreams, hallucinations, visions, as well as informing much crafted imagination. This point was made by John Rimmer in his seminal article “Facts, Frauds and Fairytales” I am not writing this to claim some sort of intellectual priority, but merely to point out that no real progress is being made in the various fields of anomalistics, just a process of continuous recycling. I rather suspect that in 2065/2066 (or 2075/76) on whatever is to the Internet as the Internet is to a hand duplicated magazine, people will be recycling the same old arguments, debates, similar cases (and one suspects in many cases the same ones), the same “theories” being presented as new and challenging.

Time and again writers have suggested that the great revelation is round the corner; announcing that in the next few years scientists will have to acknowledge that UFOs are alien spaceships and that the United States government (it is always the United States government in these cases, never the Dutch or the Sri Lankan) knows all about this; or that they will have to acknowledge the existence of psi and that will lead to a nicer kinder world; or that a stuffed Bigfoot will grace (or disgrace) the Smithsonian or the Natural History Museum. It never happens. Does anyone really believe that the situation will change in the next 50 or even 100 years?

Equally the skeptics will never dispose of anomalies; there will always be anomalous personal experiences, things which are difficult to fit into the scheme of things. Some might actually be admitted into the realms of consensus reality, others will just stay mysterious, never acquiring the evidence that would prove their existence. New developments might mean new anomalies.

As to the idea of 'flap areas', the difficulty is knowing whether people do actually have more anomalous personal experiences in them than in other places, or whether because of some charismatic local personality or headline grabbing case, people are more likely to report such things because there is a more sympathetic local climate. I am not aware if anyone had ever tried to demonstrate whether there are any actual 'anti-flap' areas where people have fewer than average anomalous experiences. There does seem to be a tendency for 'flap areas, to be in liminal places between town and country or where new developments are moving into the countryside. A point that was make in MUFOB several decades ago"


  1. To both John Harney and John Rimmer: my deepest respect for your long and steady gaze into anomalous phenomenon and their effects on the hearts and minds of human beings. I knew nothing of such studies when I was first plunged into the middle of the American alien abduction scene in 1995, as Budd Hopkins' wife-to-be. I was, at first, a somewhat skeptical believer of what Budd and a group of followers were putting out as "The Truth." Yet, over the years, my own set of beliefs were taking shape. Mainly, it was my close observation of both the experiencer and his/her investigator that caused me to draw back. Later, that process was prodded along by my searching out and reading the more skeptical, analytical writers. One of the most helpful sources to me was that of Magonia, as well as the many thoughtful writers and commentators that I encountered in those pages. The two Johns were certainly high on the list of people I wanted to read and think about. I'm sure that you have both influenced far more people than will ever speak up and tell you about it. So cheers to your long accomplishments! I, for one, am extremely grateful to you both.

    1. Thank you Carol, coming from someone who has seen Magonia from the inside that is a great compliment.