Wednesday, February 14, 2007

“Hunt for the Skinwalker” – A New Challenge for the ET Hypothesis ?

By Gildas Bourdais
Sept. 2006

Part I

Introduction : An Important and Provocative Book

Gildas Bourdais (sml)Hunt for The Skinwalker (Book Cover - Sml)     The purpose of this talk is to present and discuss an important and provocative book, published at the end of 2005, with a bizarre title : Hunt for the Skinwalker (I will explain it later). The subtitle is more explicit : Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. It was written by a biologist, Dr Colm Kelleher, Ph.D, and a journalist, George Knapp, well known for his inquiries on UFOs. Kelleher holds a biochemistry doctorate from the University of Dublin.

In a few words, Colm Kelleher and George Knapp reveal at last, in detail, the numerous strange phenomena which happened on a ranch in Utah, ranging from weird lights, poltergeist happenings in the farm house, to frightening, ghostly apparitions and cattle mutilations. These events were studied very discreetly, almost secretly, during several years by a scientific team of NIDS under the direction of Dr Kelleher. NIDS stands for “National Institute for Discovery Science”. It is a private organization which was set up in 1995 by a rich businessman from Las Vegas, Robert Bigelow, who happened to be interested in UFOs and related phenomena. Although NIDS is a purely private organization, it is known to have some working relations with governmental services, so that everything NIDS has said and published has been listened to with great attention.George Knapp (Sml) And, although Kelleher and Knapp insist that they are independent authors (Kelleher no longer works with NIDS), their book stands somehow as the NIDS account of these strange events. Let’s add that, after a decade of active studies by NIDS on UFOs and related subjects, such as cattle mutilations and abductions, Robert Bigelow has apparently closed inquiries on UFOs and has turned to space projects and studies, in relation with NASA, while keeping the NIDS web site freely accessible, with some very interesting reports.
Web site :

In their book, Colm Kelleher and George Knapp tell how the NIDS team and its scientific board discussed the possible explanations of all these strange events, including “paranormal” theories, even the most esoteric ones, as we are going to see. What links the story to UFOs is the fact that a lot of observations were made of luminous orbs and silent flying objets of different shapes, including some typical UFO shapes. But they appeared and disappeared very strangely, an aspect which opens the question of paranormal phenomena. Another link is that the whole area, the Uinta basin in Utah, is, in their own words, “a heavyweight contender for UFO capital of the world. Since the 1950s, thousands of UFO sightings have been reported in the area, and it is estimated that half of the residents have seen anomalous objects in the sky.

The Uintah valley,  in Utah

At the heart to the debate lies the question of the nature of UFOs, which has long been debated. In the book Hunt for the Skinwalker, the classical “ET hypothesis” is put in doubt by the authors, not only as an explanation for the events on the ranch but, by extension, for UFOs and related phenomena in general. They compare the events at the Utah ranch with similar events which occurred in other places, such as a ranch in Colorado, and in the area of Dulce, New Mexico. They also compare them with Indian legends, such as otherwordly entities called “tricksters”, and “skinwalkers”, which have the reputation of being malevolent. The whole chapter five, entitled “The Curse”, is devoted to these legends, and it explains the strange title of the book. We learn that the ranch has a bad reputation among the Ute Indians of the area. A local researcher, named Hicks, has told them that “they have stories about the place that go back fifteen generations. They say the ranch is “in the path of the skinwalker” (p. 16). Navajo sculptures of skinwalkersThe legend of the skinwalkers is present among several Indian tribes of the American southwest, such as the Navajo, Hopi, and Utes. For them, it is “a malevolent witch capable of being transformed into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird, or any other animal” (p. 35). The skinwalker would be, not only what we call now a “shape-shifter”, but it would be also capable of mind control and other trickeries.

At the end of the book, the authors seem to be in favor of a rather esoteric point of view, refering notably to the ideas of Jacques Vallée (who is a member of the NIDS scientific board) as an explanation valid for the whole domain of ufology. Well, without denying the “paranormal” aspects of their story, as they used to be called, I don’t agree with that global explanation and I propose to discuss it in this article. But let’s start with the beginning of the story: the strange events which happened at that ranch in Utah.

I - Various strange phenomena

1) The frightening incidents experienced by the farmer and his family, from 1994 to 1996

Tom GormanIn late 1994, the Gorman family, Tom, Ellen and their children, (not their real name) buys the ranch to raise cattle, and moves onto it. It is vacant since several years although it’s a good land for cattle. They are surprised to find heavy locks at all doors and windows when they move in.

Entrance gate, and general view of the ranch
Within a few months, they begin to see balls of light of various colours, white, yellow and blue, moving around the cattle and their home. They frequently observe baseball-sized orbs, of bright blue color, “filled with swirling liquid, electrically charged” (p. 142), which dim the lights around when passing near the house. They see also strange clouds “filled with exploding silent lights”.

Now here is one of the main aspects of the whole story. Several animals disappear without a trace. Others are found dead, mutilated. In all, Tom Gorman will lose 14 registered cattle out of a herd of eighty animals (p. 90), a severe financial loss. It is going to be one of the main subjects of study for NIDS.

One day, a frightening incident happens. A huge “wolf”, actually much bigger than a wolf, comes quietly close to them across the field. When it is very close, it attacks a calf suddenly. They shoot it but it is very hard to stop it, even with a powerful gun. Although it has been hit by several bullets, enough to kill an elk, it just goes away quietly and disappears in the woods. They follow the tracks of the animal, in the mud close to a river, but suddenly they stop abruptly. It looks like an unreal happening but they are sure to have badly wounded a real animal, which has even lost a bit of flesh on the ground.

They experience poltergeist activity in their home: doors slam, objects disappear and are found later in another place, in or outside the house. Some incidents are just like bad tricks. For instance, they find the salt in the pepper shaker and vice versa. Another time, Ellen Gorman finds, back on the kitchen table, all the groceries she had carefull stacked in the cupboards (p. 239). Sometimes, they hear voices laughing and mocking them in an unknown language.

UFO-like objects :

Tom and Ellen Gorman “reported separate sightings of a silent, hovering, triangular craft that projected multicolored lights from its black frame” (p.141). Gorman has also seen a “silent miniature version of the F-117 aircraft”, moving slowly at less than 20 feet above the ground. On another evening, his wife Ellen Gorman, when driving home, is “shadowed by a huge black triangular craft” that paces 30 feet above the car.

Such silent UFO-like crafts have been observed in the area. One of their neighbours, Gonsalez , has observed a UFO shaped like a Mexican hat. Another time, he has seen a silvery disc which seemed to be “absorbed by the ridge” (p. 140). This is an interesting observation which suggests the passage of the UFO in “another dimension”.

Several times, the Gormans have seen ghostly creatures, like the legendary “bigfoot”, also called “sasquatch” by the Indians, prowling their property. They hear ominous growls, are nauseated by musk odors, and they see at the same time silent flying objects “shaped like a refrigerator”, hovering around, causing panic among the cattle, and disappearing suddenly.

Chupa DrawingThey seem to be similar to the “chupas” which attacked isolated people in the in the Northeast of Brazil.

Corral and trailerOne of the most impressive and disturbing events was when they found four big bulls, each weighing more than two thousand pounds, locked, asleep, inside a trailer near the corral which had not been used in years. When they awakened, the bulls devastated the interior and it was a hell of a job to get them out of it.

Another time, Tom watches a herd of cows suddenly split as if something invisible is in the middle of them. However, that invisible thing produces a powerful magnetic field, detectable with his compass.

The "window"

Chapter 8 of the book, called “The Window”, reveals a series of outstanding observations, which might be central to the whole story: the apparition of a sort of circular “window”, floating in the sky. Let’s quote exactly the first lines of the chapter :

“Of all the extraordinary things that occurred at the Gorman ranch, the most common involved the strange, unwordly orange structures that would appear in the western sky. All family members saw these structures dozens of times. They would appear in the sky and seemed to hover low over the cottonwood trees about a mile away”.

They see it, after nightfall, always roughly at the same place. One night, Tom Gorman can see, inside the circle, what looks to him like “another sky” : “Through the magnifying scope, he distinctly saw a blue sky. On this particular night, the orange object looked like it was a window into somewhere else where it was still daylight.” (p. 63).

Another important point is that, one night, Gorman sees a fast moving black object, growing rapidly at the center of the orange “window. It seems to come out of the “hole” in the sky, and quickly vanishes in the night. This convinces him that it’s a kind of “dimensional doorway” through which objects can enter and exit our reality. This is a central idea of the whole story, to which I will return later.

Here is another incident which gives a definite impression of hostile manipulation by whoever is behind it, pulling the strings. By June 1996, rumors were already spreading of strange events on the ranch, and a visitor came to inquire about them. A tall, quiet man, he engaged into a sort of meditation in the middle of a field, his eyes closed and his arms raised. Suddenly, something began moving rapidly in the nearby wood. Tom Gorman, who was there, could not make out the shape but knew it was big. Suddenly, a blurred shape came out of the wood and moved swiftly toward the man, stopped just in front of him and “let out a deep-throated animal roar”, sounding half like a bear, half like a lion. The stranger was terrified and started screaming hysterically. He left the property in a state of panic and never came back.

In the summer of 1996, Tom Gorman and his family reach a breaking point. One day, Tom lets his three “favorite cattle dogs” pursue a “blue, baseball sized, flying orb. They follow it in a nearby wood, Gorman hears them yell, and hears them no more. Afraid, he will look for the dogs only in the morning in the wood, only to find them completely burned, incinerated.

At that point, the Gormans are so shocked and terrorized that they decide to sell the ranch. NIDS purchases the property in August of 1996 and decides to launch a scientific study there. The Gorman family moves 25 miles away but Tom agrees to come daily to take care of the ranch and the cattle, and to help the NIDS team.

1 comment :

  1. Not discussed in the article is perhaps the most interesting "ranch" incident where a series of high pole mounted cameras that have a view of each other finds one camera vandilized without any indication of it happening by the other cameras.

    Note that the NIDS ranch happenings are documented poorly and appear to be more like anecdotes than scientific rearch. Also note: There is total silence on the state of the "ranch" currently.


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