'Mirage Men' (Book & Documentary)

richardthomas

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This is my first post on this forum, although I've been FT reader for many years. I write about UFOs and related topics for http://binnallofamerica.com and http://ufomystic.com. Below is an interview I did with Mark Pilkington about his new book Mirage Men: A Journey in Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs.

Richard Thomas: First things first. Thank you for giving us the time to answer these questions, I really appreciate it and I’m sure our readers will too.

Reading the book your obviously a lot more sceptical about UFOs or to be more precise the ETH than you were when you first got interested in the subject. How did you first become interested in UFOs and how has your view of the phenomenon evolved since that time, and why?

Mark Pilkington: I've been interested in fortean phenomena all my life – HG Wells' War of the Worlds was my favourite book aged about 7 or 8 and I grew up reading 2000AD (the British SF comic) and as much SF, fantasy and horror as I could get my mitts on. I found my first copy of Fortean Times in the mid 1980s aged about 13 and read Timothy Good's Above Top Secret when I was 14 in 1987. UFOs always appealed to me because they seemed to be the most accessible form of anomalous phenomena – you could look up at the night sky wherever you were and imagine seeing one.

I'm not sceptical about UFOs themselves – people see them every day – nor am I sceptical of the existence of ET life, I believe it's out there, and I can accept that it will come here and perhaps even has done at some point in our past. What I *am* very sceptical of is the popular notion of ET visitation as presented in the UFO lore that has emerged since the late 1940s. This has developed out of a multi-directional feedback loop between UFO experiencers, UFO book authors, mainstream popular culture and those in the military and intelligence worlds who would exploit and shape these beliefs and ideas.

Each era gets the UFOs and ETs that it desires, they are a culturally constructed phenomenon. In the book I demonstrate, for example, that there's nothing alien about flying saucers, which were synonymous with ET visitation from the 1950s through to the 1970s. Whether or not the Germans, British or Americans ever successfully flew disc-craft at great speed, they certainly tried, as far back as the 1930s. Perhaps they did fly but were less useful than more conventional types of aircraft.

Richard Thomas: You write early in the book about some UFO sightings of your own you had (or thought you had) when you were younger. What did you see and is there any doubt at all in your mind that these weren’t anonymous like you originally thought?

Mark Pilkington: I open the book with a sighting of three silver spheres seen by myself and two friends in Yosemite national park in 1995. I still have no idea what these were, though I'm still confident that they weren't balloons. I actually tried to track down my companions, who I've since lost touch with, to ask them to send me their memories of what we saw, as I thought it would be a fascinating demonstration of the fallibility of memory if they described something entirely mundane or different. If I hear from them I will certainly publish their stories on the Mirage Men blog. As I point out in the book, silver spheres were seen at least as far back as WWII, and are still reported to this day. I have no idea what the things we saw were.

Richard Thomas: I haven’t looked into it much but after I read the back of your book I automatically thought of Project Blue Beam, a conspiracy theory on the web that the US Government are planning on staging a fake alien invasion to bring about a global police state. Do you think there might just be a seed of truth to such paranoid thinking?

Mark Pilkington: The earliest version of this story I know of is a speech made by British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to the UN in March 1947, in which he posits that an invasion by Martians would be the only thing that might unite the world's nations. Of course the Roswell incident took place four months later, something that was picked up on by former intelligence agent Bernard Newman in his 1948 novel The Flying Saucer. In which scientists stage a fake invasion to bring about world peace.

Reagan famously alluded to the idea again in 1987, also talking to the UN. It's a common motif in science fiction - I was recently pointed to an Outer Limits episode, “The Architects of Fear,” which follows the same premise. There are rumours that Wernher von Braun believed that a false ET invasions was on the cards, and it's something that UFO researcher and Manhattan Project scientist Leon Davidson also talked about in the 1960s referring to the contactees, who he thought were being deceived in elaborate setups by the intelligence agencies. It's a very appealing idea whether true or not.

I think it's a reflection on our times that the Blue Beam story uses the same premise to warn of an impending global police state, rather than world peace!

Richard Thomas: Briefly as possible who exactly are the “Mirage Men” and how did you first become aware of them?

Mark Pilkington: Ultimately everyone who talks or writes about UFOs become Mirage Men as their stories influence the field. In the book I'm specifically referring to those people from military and intelligence organisations who have used the UFO lore as a cover for their operations and, in extreme cases, have seeded new material within the UFO culture to further muddy the waters.

Richard Thomas: Perhaps the best evidence for UFOs are radar reports, but in the book you explain quite convincingly how such evidence might not be as convincing as researchers originally thought. Could you explain why this is to the readers, and what this might mean?

Mark Pilkington: Yes I talk about the Palladium system for spoofing radar returns, which I stumbled upon by accident while reading James Bamford's NSA biography Body of Secrets. By the mid 1960s this had got very sophisticated and was being used by the NSA and CIA. It was used with drones for example, to create the impression of much larger aircraft. I later found out that Leon Davidson had talked about the technology in the late 1950s, with reference to the famous 1952 Washington DC UFO overflights.

The radar ghosting phenomenon was actually first observed in 1945. By the mid-late 1950s the technology to create them was being used to train radar operators in the civilian domain. So the circumstantial evidence that the 1952 UFO wave was a demonstration of *somebody's* radar spoofing abilities is quite compelling.

Richard Thomas: In Nick Redfern’s book, Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story. he speculates that horrific Cold War experiments carried out on Japanese prisoners of war might be the truth behind the saucer crash story. Do you think the US Government are using the UFO lore to cover-up this and similar crimes, or, do the “Mirage Men” have other motives?

Mark Pilkington: I don't know what happened at Roswell, and the story has grown far too convoluted now ever to be satisfactorily resolved. Nick Redfern and I certainly think along similar lines at times and aspects of his Body Snatchers theory are quite convincing. We have to remember that the years following World War II were difficult and often desperate. The threat of Soviet infiltration and/or atomic annihilation was extremely serious, and the US government, like those of every nation, was prepared to do awful things to maintain the status quo.

The point about Roswell is that *whatever* came down, whether it was a Mogul balloon or something more exotic, the saucer deception worked – nobody took the blindest bit of interest in the Roswell story for at least 30 years, though someone in the military and or intelligence world appears to have been promoting saucer crash stories as early as 1950 .

So in that respect Walter Haut and the others who put out first the flying saucer, then the weather balloon press releases are amongst the first Mirage Men that we can identify. As an aside, William Davidson and Frank Brown, the two Air Force Intelligence agents who died while investigating Kenneth Arnold in Tacoma, Washington, should also be added to that roll of honour.

Richard Thomas: The idea that the US intelligence agencies might have encouraged or perhaps even invented much of the UFO cannon, i.e., crashed saucers, recovered ET hardware and bodies, etc, I’m sure will be rejected out of hand by most UFO researchers. Why do you think this is?

Mark Pilkington: Some prominent researchers have invested a huge amount of time, energy and credibility in believing and promoting the ETH and tales of an attendant cover-up. It will probably be harder for some of them to consider the ideas I present in Mirage Men without prejudice, though the positions certainly aren't mutually exclusive.

But, as Leon Festinger showed in his book When Prophecy Fails, there's a strange effect that when someone's deeply-held beliefs are challenged or shown to be delusional, especially when issues of credibility are at stake, rather than accept a new set of beliefs, they will cling more strongly to the old ones, reinforcing them with increasingly warped logic. Festinger studied a 1950s UFO group and his findings are just as relevant today as they ever were.

I'm just putting forward my take on a very complex story. I wrote Mirage Men to be an outward-looking book that would interest people outside of the UFO community, I also wanted to present a reasonable and responsible critique of the mainstream ETH to those who are already well-versed with the UFO lore. Most people who have contacted me seem to agree that I've done a decent job of this, though there's also been some hate mail. Generally I think I've only succeeded if I find myself take flak from both sides of the sceptical divide!

Personally speaking, I have no problem with people believing anything they like, as long as others aren't being exploited, harmed or prejudiced against as a result those beliefs. Taken literally, I think beliefs in ET visitation are actually more logical than those of any of the major religions for example.

Most UFO beliefs are quite harmless, even positive, though I think it's a shame that some people use them as a means to undermine human ability and potential, for example suggesting that advanced technologies or the feats of ancient cultures can only be attributed to aliens rather than human ingenuity.

Richard Thomas: What would your answer be to people who say that too many honest and credible witnesses have reported seeing phenomena that Earthly explanations just can’t explain?

Mark Pilkington: I accept that there are always going to be cases that refuse to give up their mysteries under even the most focussed scrutiny, and in those instances it's ultimately going to come down to what people prefer to believe.

I'm fascinated by the 1980 Cash-Landrum incident for example. If even half of that incident was accurately reported by the witnesses then there are either some remarkably advanced toys in the human arsenal, or we really have been borrowing, or stealing them from someone else.

Some of my friends have had some really spectacular and bizarre UFO sightings, but personally I just don't see the need to invoke the extraterrestrial hypothesis. As military analysts have pointed out since the late 1940s, the patterns of behaviour ascribed to UFOs make no sense as part of a surveillance or invasion plan. Meanwhile if some secret cabal has been negotiating with the aliens, then what have they got to show for it? Where are the technological leaps or anomalies?

I've been reading Paul Hill's Unconventional Flying Objects. Although himself an ET believer, Hill, who worked on successful flying platform designs in the 1950s, points out that there's very little about UFO reports that is truly inexplicable – they obey, rather than defy the laws of physics. My own belief, and it's only a belief, is that some highly advanced experimental craft have been flown over the years, perhaps much further back than we realise.

Richard Thomas: Probably the big UFO story of 2006 was Project Serpo. In the book you meet Bill Ryan who runs the website where the most controversial documents since the MJ-12 papers were first posted. How do you think the story first began and if the “Mirage Men” were behind it what might have their intentions have been?

Mark Pilkington: Yes John Lundberg and I got involved with Bill Ryan within a few weeks of Serpo breaking and followed him to Laughlin for his ufological debut. That's a key section of the book. I don't know whether Serpo was a 'Mirage Men' operation, though in the book I do suggest a few purposes it might have had if it was. What we can say for sure is that the Serpo story, ridiculous as it seems, single-handedly reinvigorated, even resurrected, the UFO field at a time when it was almost entirely moribund.

In 2004 when John and I first began mooting the idea of Mirage Men you couldn't get anybody to take the least bit of interest in the UFO subject other than to say that it was a cultural dead zone. Now UFOs and ETs are once again big business with a flood of books, films and TV series headed our way. While interest in UFOs, like anything else, is always cyclical, I really think that Serpo was the seed for this particular wave of interest.

Richard Thomas: Have you found any evidence that Britain or other countries might have their own “Mirage Men,” I don’t believe them myself but there are a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding Nick Pope, for instance?

Mark Pilkington: I don't know about Nick Pope, though he *did* come to my book launch. hmmmmmmmm.

Seriously, my understanding - confirmed by a source who wishes to remain anonymous for now (yes, him again!) - is that the USAF's OSI (Office of Special Investigations) and the RAF's Provost and Security Services often work together, or at least keep each other informed of operations on UK soil. AFOSI have certainly run a few Mirage Men type operations over the last forty years, and I'm aware of at least one UFO-themed disinformation operation conducted on UK soil in the 1990s. I hope to be able to write more about this in the near future.

Richard Thomas: Thanks Mark, where can readers find the book and have you got any other projects or a website you’d like to plug?

Mark Pilkington: Thanks Richard. Mirage Men is currently available in the US and the UK via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones and the rest. I've set up a web site for the book, which I'm using to explore some of the book's ideas and themes further.

I also run Strange Attractor Press, publishing books including Welcome to Mars by Ken Hollings, which is about American in the heyday of the flying saucer era, and The Field Guide, by Rob Irving and John Lundberg, which is an insider's history of the crop circle phenomenon, including detailed instructions on how to make your own.

http://binnallofamerica.com/rr102210.html
 

sherbetbizarre

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Thanks for this, as I really enjoyed the book!

Any idea if he ever finished the documentary he was making on the same subject?
 

eburacum

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Mark Pilkington said:
I'm not sceptical about UFOs themselves – people see them every day – nor am I sceptical of the existence of ET life, I believe it's out there, and I can accept that it will come here and perhaps even has done at some point in our past. What I *am* very sceptical of is the popular notion of ET visitation as presented in the UFO lore that has emerged since the late 1940s.

He is almost certainly correct; UFOs certainly exist, and extraterrestrials almost certainly do; but the two are probably not causally connected.

I think however that Pilkinton should extend this admirable sceptical attitude to the 'government spoofing' hypothesis a bit more rigorously.

For instance the 1952 Washington flap was probably not caused by any spoofing technology, as there is no evidence that 'Palladium' was available at that time, and the effects of natural weather conditions and poor recollection seem quite adequate to explain the recorded phenomena. It would be reckless and dangerous to test radar spoofing technology above the US capital while civilian flights were dependent upon it.
 

Bigfoot73

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The book just arrived - fascinating stuff. I posted something on UFO Mystic but it didn't make the edit. I don't know why the Pentagon goes to such efforts but it seems to me the secret project craft like triangles go out of their way to get noticed, and some of the craft or phenomena seen in the US are being operated purely to add to the confusion. Works too.
 

eburacum

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The problem with that strategy is that at least 95% of UFO sightings are caused by misidentifications and so on.

So these 'disinformation' UFOs, allegedly created by the 'Government', only add 5% to the mix at most. If the 'Government' stopped creating them, the number of sightings would only decrease by 5% (at best). If I were looking for something to cut from my disinformation budget, these fake UFOs would be a prime candidate - they are simply not cost effective. Send up a bunch of fire lanterns instead - it would work just as well.
 

oldrover

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I'd agree with that, but at the same time it also means that if anyone did wish to fly anything unusual around they could do it pretty much anywhere they wanted to, because what appears to be the most rational response would be to place any witnesses into that 95%.
 

sherbetbizarre

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eburacum said:
The problem with that strategy is that at least 95% of UFO sightings are caused by misidentifications and so on.

The disinformation isn't about sending fake craft into the air - it's lies told by a government after one of their super secret craft has been spotted... ie, they encourage speculation that they are extraterrestrial craft.

That's what Pilkington's book is about anyway.
 

Mythopoeika

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ramonmercado

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Mythopoeika said:
rynner2 said:
sherbetbizarre said:
The documentary version of Mirage Men is finally being completed.

Trailer at -

http://miragemen.wordpress.com/2012/04/ ... m-trailer/
Linkee no workee!

But add html to the end
http://miragemen.wordpress.com/2012/04/ ... ailer/html
and you get to a Mirage Men page; then click Home, and the video is there.

The original link works for me, but yours doesn't!

I have long suspected that Rynner is really Harry Worth.
 

Moooksta

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Not mine but AFOAF's documentary.

The Mirage Men SITE

How the US government created a myth that took over the world.

UFOs: weapons of mass deception... For over 60 years teams within the US Air Force and Intelligence services exploited and manipulated beliefs about UFOs and ET visitations as part of their counterintelligence programmes. In doing so they spawned a mythology so powerful that it captivated and warped many brilliant minds, including several of their own. Now, for the first time, some of those behind these operations, and their victims, speak out, revealing a true story that is part Manchurian Candidate and part Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

MIRAGE MEN blurbs:

"This is an incredible story about deception and tomfoolery in high places. The filmmakers have uncovered a tale that tells us that everything we thought we knew about UFOs is wrong. And the truth - the true truth - is much more interesting."
Jon Ronson - Author of The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

"Really original in the story it tells... Mirage Men presents an astonishing new perspective on the UFO mythology, and opens up the much wider question of how we know what we know about the world outside... a brilliant piece of work."
Adam Curtis - Director of The Power of Nightmares, The Century of the Self.

Alas I'm out of the country when it shows... :-(
 

sherbetbizarre

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An early review:

Mirage Men: and now for something completely different…

Strange lights and sounds, mutilated animals, intriguing rumours, mind games. And for some, the slow descent into madness. If you’re seeking a documentary like no other, Mirage Men should be your port of call at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Correctly described as a blend between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Manchurian candidate, Mirage Men spins a dark yarn of unexplained phenomena and of belief manipulation by higher powers which will leave you wondering which part of what you’re seeing and hearing is real. And you may never find out.

Indeed, the exploitation and manipulation of popular beliefs around UFOs was an active part of US Air Force and Intelligence services counterintelligence programmes for over 60 years. This resulted in a sticky mille-feuille of false facts and mistrust which makes the topic exceedingly murky; one that is remarkably difficult to document in any sort of reliable manner.

But this intriguing piece of work was achieved methodically and creatively, using a clever blend of old footage, present-day interviews and on-location shots, married by a haunting soundtrack. The team sought out key and often controversial figures at the heart of this thorny debate, all of whom were in some way involved as perpetrators, victims or bystanders of the UFO phenomenon.

As they speak openly on camera about their experiences and actions, the audience watches with growing enthrallment, confusion and faint horror as one by one, members of the public are swept up into a dark and worrying tale.

What should be a simple answer to a simple question quickly turns into a complex patchwork that balances precariously on the border between sanity and madness. The Roswell landings, the Majestic 12 documents and the Serpo expedition, all dizzyingly laced with tales of stealth military development government programs and the underlying chill of the cold war.

Beautifully put together and striving to remain as balanced as can possible under the circumstances, Mirage Men isn’t out to point the finger at UFOlogy or to single out ‘people who believe in little green men’. Instead, it raises more pressing questions about information and media control and exposes not only the sheer power of the mind but the damage that can be caused to society when that power is misused.

Even the most sceptical viewer will start to wonder what, exactly, was going on? What was the government hiding and where? When did the manipulators become victims themselves? Who was at the very root of all this? And why do so many questions remain? The truth is out there… but where?

The world premiere of Mirage Men will take place at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013 at 13 June, 13.00 at the Library Theatre. On 15 June at 15.30 it will also be screening at Sheffield’s Showroom cinema. For more information on the film and its screenings, please check out the doc’s website.
http://docgeeks.com/2013/06/09/mirage-m ... different/
 

sherbetbizarre

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Mirage Men – New UFO Documentary Sends Us Deeper Down The Rabbit Hole

John Lundberg is a talented man. Not only does he have a cult following for being one of the world’s best crop circle makers (sorry folks, I really do want to believe) but his new UFO documentary Mirage Men – produced with Mark Pilkington, Roland Denning and Kypros Kyprianou – is being hailed as one of the must-see documentaries of the year.

Indeed. ET visitors, crashed UFOs and back-engineered alien technology… Mirage Men has all the makings of a classic UFO flick you’d want to watch inside an aluminium-foil lined RV somewhere in the Nevadan desert on a dark and stormy night.

But instead of sending you off into the stars to dance with the possibility of unidentified flying extraterrestrials, the central idea of Mirage Men is that the UFO story is really a sneaky disinformation campaign devised by our good old friends the US government. It’s a disappointing possibility that many of us who have attempted to research the UFO phenomenon have often entertained.

But while Conscious Life News readers already suspect the US government is good at bending the truth, when you consider there are over two hundred billion stars in our galaxy – each with an average of six orbiting planets – you can’t help but think that surely, there must be something out there. Lundberg tells me he is of the same statistical mindset. “To think otherwise seems incredibly arrogant,” he said.

Like all great works of art, the meaning of Mirage Men doesn’t stop at the surface level. Lundberg says that although the basic synopsis of the film is about how the US Government have used mythology to cover up their advanced military technology, Mirage Men is actually more complex than that. “It deals with paradox, the nature of truth, how we know what we know about the world around us and the effect stories can have on our lives,” he said.

Of course I had to ask, after everything Lundberg has learnt over the past decade whilst working on the film, does he think we’ve been visited by alien civilisations?

“It’s highly unlikely, I’ve not seen a smoking gun,” he said, “but what’s interesting is that there is a group of people inside the US Government that do seem to hold a firm belief that we’ve had contact, and for me that leaves the door open a crack.”

Hmmm… looks like we’re going to have to make up our own mind. It may also be worth noting that on Lundberg’s Wikipedia page it says he likes to use the role of deception in the process of artistic creation, and that his work centres around how myth and artifice can shape and alter reality. Could Mirage Men itself be an elaborate hoax? Or – shock horror – could John and the other filmmakers even be disinformation agents working for the CIA?

Sigh. As Fox Mulder would say, the truth is out there. Or is it?

The North American premiere of Mirage Men takes place at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, this weekend. You can find out more info about these screenings and Mirage Men on their website.
http://consciouslifenews.com/mirage-men ... e/1165422/
 

hunck

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Has anyone seen this film? I've been waiting for it to be shown somewhere in London but it hasn't been so far.
 

sherbetbizarre

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A couple of London dates just announced at The Horse Hospital in Russell Square:

25 & 26 APRIL
MIRAGE MEN


DOORS: 7:30PM
TICKETS £6 ADVANCE £7.50 ON THE DOOR
FRIDAY 25TH TICKETS CLICK HERE
SATURDAY 26TH TICKETS CLICK HERE

MIRAGE MEN (2014) 90M
HOW THE US GOVERNMENT CREATED A MYTH THAT TOOK OVER THE WORLD.
A film by John Lundberg, Mark Pilkington, Roland Denning, Kypros Kyprianou
Music by Cyclobe & Urthona

UFOs: weapons of mass deception…
For over 60 years teams within the US Air Force and Intelligence services exploited and manipulated beliefs about UFOs and ET visitations as part of their counterintelligence programmes. In doing so they spawned a mythology so powerful that it captivated and warped many brilliant minds, including several of their own. Now, for the first time, some of those behind these operations, and their victims, speak out, revealing a true story that is part Manchurian Candidate and part Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Q&A with the film makers.

“A brilliant piece of work” Adam Curtis
“An incredible story” Jon Ronson
“A Wonderfully weird and provocative documentary” Boing Boing
“Tanatlising… juicy subject matter and high end production values” Hollywood Reporter
“A real head trip… I was glued to my seat for the entirety” Ain’t It Cool News

Mirage Men has shown at Sheffield Docfest, Fantastic Fest Austin, Canberra International Film Festival, Stockholm International Film Festival
http://www.thehorsehospital.com/now/mirage-men/

Also a date in Bristol:
MIRAGE MEN AND URTHONA LIVE

Thursday 27 March 2014, 19:30 to 22:30
£7/£5 concs

Strange Attractor and Perception Management present a special preview screening of the acclaimed feature-length documentary Mirage Men, with Q&A, after live music from Urthona.

In 1979 the Air Force Office of Special Investigations began a psychological warfare campaign against local engineer Paul Bennewitz to persuade him that the area was under attack by hostile extraterrestrials. The results are somewhere between The Manchurian Candidate and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The screening of Mirage Men will be followed by Q&A with film makers Roland Denning, Kypros Kyprianou, John Lundberg and Mark Pilkington. Plus special live performance of music from the soundtrack by Urthona, whose music has been described by Julian Cope as “a righteous yammering of liquid infinity”.
http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/str ... thona-live
 

sherbetbizarre

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Interview With Mark Pilkington On UFO Documentary ‘Mirage Men’ And The Games Intel Agencies Play

Mark Pilkington’s 2010 book Mirage Men is one of the more credible takes I’ve read on the topic of unidentified flying objects. Pilkington alleges that many of the stories we’ve heard about alien visitors and flying saucers are part of a deliberate campaign of disinformation created by intelligence agencies to cover up secret military technology and clandestine operations. These “mirage men” have manipulated some UFO believers to the point of madness and beyond through the use of fabricated “evidence” and psychological warfare techniques, all in the name of national security.

Pilkington, along with directors John Lundberg, Roland Denning, and Kypros Kyprianou, just released a documentary based on the book. Also titled Mirage Men, the film expands on the premise of the book and feature interviews with some of the mirage men and their victims. It’s now available to rent online courtesy of Perception Management Productions, Random Media, and Yekra.

I just finished a short interview with Mark Pilkington about the film and why viewers should believe anything a group of self-professed disinformation artists and liars have to say...
http://disinfo.com/2014/04/interview-ma ... cies-play/
 
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