JANE ANN MORRISON: Knapp shows guts by treading on shaky ground of UFO sightingsCourage is required of any journalist who admits to believing in the possibility of UFOs because your peers turn on you. And your bosses worry that a UFO-loving reporter might lose some credibility with the public.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Courage also is necessary to live on a remote Utah ranch and stay there for 20 months even when frightening and unexplained things occur as soon as you move in.
George Knapp doesn't lack courage. And he's just co-authored a book about the family in Utah whose ranch was a site of unexplained paranormal activities.
Knapp expects to be ridiculed once again by colleagues, and he's ready for that as he starts promoting his first book "Hunt For the Skinwalker." Ever since Knapp first broadcast a series in 1989 about mysterious happenings in the Nevada Test Site's Area 51, he's been mocked, even though the series won national journalism awards.
"The ridicule comes from my fellow journalists," Knapp said. "The public can't get enough of it."
The KLAS-TV, Channel 8 newsman is at the forefront of news stories covering political corruption and the mob, but the one subject the public brings up to him most often is UFOs.
Knapp doesn't say yes, but he also doesn't say no when asked whether he believes in UFOs. Speaking carefully, he said that even if you eliminate the hoaxers and the deranged, there are still weird things happening out there.
"They can't be explained, and they haven't been investigated," Knapp said.
The events at a ranch in Utah that he and medical researcher Colm Kelleher wrote about are unique, he said. "They're ongoing, in one spot, over a long period of time." And they have been researched.
After the strange activities drove the family out, Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow bought the ranch in 1996 and paid for a research team to study it for years.
The book covers the period when the family lived there, and the studies by researchers afterward. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the book is light on real names and doesn't reveal the exact location of the ranch 150 miles from Salt Lake City in the Uinta Basin.
The book tracks the history of the types of paranormal activities found at the ranch and explains that "skinwalker" is a witch that takes the shape of an animal and cannot be killed. The opening chapter, which chronicles their first paranormal encounter with a wolf that would not die, is a gripper.
As a believer in leaving trouble behind, I questioned why the family stayed when things were disappearing inside and outside the house, UFOs were floating around, their three dogs were killed in gruesome fashion and their cattle were mutilated. "At the end, the family was sleeping on the floor in one room together," Knapp said.
So why not leave instead of waiting 20 months?
The father was a proud, stubborn man, Knapp said. "He was convinced the military was doing it, and he was going to catch them."
He didn't catch them, and the book offers no conclusions for what caused the strange happenings at Skinwalker Ranch.
Knapp himself made four trips to the ranch, spending a total of 12 days there. "I thought my inherent weirdness quotient would attract something."
So the researchers made noise, lit fires, disturbed the earth and tried to attract the weird by strapping Knapp to a chair in the middle of the night "to see if something would come to get me."
He waited about 45 minutes. Nothing happened.
The only creatures that came to get him were mosquitoes.
I'm not a believer, partly because of my long-ago experience with a mischievous aunt who once reported seeing a UFO. She swore it was true, the story was printed in an Arkansas newspaper, and when UFO researchers interviewed her, she relayed detail after detail of her experience and never cracked. However, I knew it was a big, whopping lie enriched by Jim Beam.
So I became a doubter. My one overnight trip to Rachel in search of aliens and UFOs ended in failure to find either, although it was unbelievably fun.
So while I'm a skeptic, I won't deride Knapp. It takes guts to put your professional reputation on the line for something you believe in that seems downright goofy to most mainstream journalists.
* Special Thanks To Christian Macé
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