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on 10 August 2010
The Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington is probably one of the most important books on the UFO phenomenon ever written. Not only an indepth field investigation into the role played by the Intelligence Agencies in the development of the UFO Mythos from 1950 till the present time, but also a complete alternative history of the evolution of the phenomenon.

The revelations, often from the horses mouth, are stunning, a catalogue of disinfomation organised by Air Force Intelligence (AFOSI), the CIA, NSA and the FBI, sometimes in coordination but often in parallel, autonomous operations with diverse, and still mysterious motives. The immediate shared aim being the popular dissemination of stories of UFO 'crashes', alien contact and the reverse engineering of extraterrestrial technology. The main purpose of which appears to include the generation of cover stories for accidently observed secret technology or covert intelligence operations, as well as utilisation of the international UFO research community for psychological experiments / operations (and sometimes as a front for plain, old fashioned spying). The mythos appears to have become a general off the peg mirage for a variety of purposes, not surprisingly one aviation researcher at the infamous Area 51 refers to its 'UFO projects' as 'UnFunded Opportunities'. But there are stranger motives too, ranging from Cold War propaganda about captured alien technology (the Soviets always took the possibility of ET visitation seriously), through the infiltration of alternative and countercultural subcultures (deemed as 'subversive'), to bizarre plots by unknown inner groups (the Illuminati??) to influence global culture and politics through a new mythology. And of course to hide the 'real truth about the alien presence', whether we interprete that literally or just as a more sophisticated lie within a lie (it being a claim often made by the spooks themselves in moments of 'private whistle blowing'). There are some odd facts here too, such as the absurd aspects of the basic Disinfo, much of which is lifted straight from Hollywood, with plot elements from CE3, ET and the Day the Earth Stood Still plagiarised unashamedly. On the other hand many of the inside Intelligence sources seem totally convinced of an Extraterrestrial presence, even when admitting much of what is written about UFOs was fictional (though these men are of course trained liars, if not chosen for their 'paraphrenia', and info layering an established ploy). Perhaps most startling of all the deception being the fabrication of an 'alien base' in the New Mexico desert to reveal to the projects dupes. Along the way we are treated to a complete history of the American UAV Drone program and the USAF's attempts to build 'Flying Saucers', tales of Ed Lansdale's CIA backed project to create fake 'vampires' in SE Asia to terrify native insurgents (even killing a few fake 'victims' in the process), the secret behind 'cattle mutilation', and some possibly fabricated 'alien abductions'. Much mystery and high strangeness remains amongst all these revelations though, for instance the rivalry between different Agencies (particularly the spooks of the Air Force and Navy) which extends to an apparent conflict of agendas (sometimes even apparent between factions within each Service itself), something which may even have led to actual or attempted murder in the case of the Maury Island affair. The oddest element for me being the fact that the OSI agents in the latter case always refused to use the Air Force's base phones, prefering pay phones! Even wierder is the apparent emergence of 'real' UFO phenomena amid all the faking.

My only reservation with the book is despite the author's sensible position between scepticism and open mindedness (even revealing one of his own mysterious UFO encounters, predictably explained by a high ranking spook as 'one of ours') he none the less by the end of the book has swung into a sceptical stance regarding the entire UFO Phenomena. Though not surprisingly as it seems the vast majority of the classic UFO encounters may have been hyped, if not faked, by the spooks. Unfortunately this may be exactly what his informants wanted. One classic ploy in Intelligence operations is the 'Double Bubble', where an inner core of truth that needs to be hidden is surrounded by a bubble of Disinfo, which gets increasingly implausible as times goes by, or has obvious falsehoods planted within it, until the outer bubble 'bursts', and with it deflates the inner bubble of truth, discredited by association. Many commentators on both sides of the fence believe the UFO Phenomena is genuinely 'culturally destabilising' (for good or ill) and burying the whole thing would greatly please many frightened people in the Establishment. Given the end of the Cold War, and the scaling down of secret research and covert operations (to some extent), and the gradual exposure of this kind of Disinfo, we may be moving into the final phase of the fabricated UFO Myth, its use as such a 'double bubble' to terminate both the project and the unnerving phenomena behind it. While myself a committed sceptic regarding the ET hypothesis (and especially the ludicrous 'crash and contact' stories) my own experiences have led me to believe in an intelligence behind the phenomena that appears to be operating a policy of cognitive dissonance amongst us. Thus the author may have unwittingly been drawn into this operation. Though to his credit he does briefly hint in this direction, even if only to preserve his agnostic credentials and an atmosphere of mystery.

In conclusion this book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the UFO phenomenon and its history in all its many dimensions.
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on 19 November 2010
This has been the first book I have read which tries to explain many of the famous documented UFO cases of the world as government test flights of secret new aircraft and malicious covert agency tinkering of foreign state radars. After finishing the book I felt entertained and also reasonably willing to accept the premise that most if not all UFOs are of human origin. Decide for yourself.
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on 18 August 2010
Let me begin by explaining that I am skeptical of most UFO claims. I am not looking for what "I want to believe." I have been researching the UFO subject for over 30 years, some of which involves a close association with subject matter and persons in this book. And I have concluded that "Mirage Men" is a very important book to read, with a note of caution. It involves people and events that most Ufologist carefully avoid at all costs. Sure the Government Covers-Up UFOs and Alien Visitations, but "Disinformation" is what the other guy believes and I do not! No need to look further.

Mark Pilkington was willing to look. Not without considerable bias as a self confessed Crop Circle Hoaxer. Where he wants to lead the reader becomes self evident in the first few chapters in the book. And that is his privilege as the author. My contention is that one can learn a great deal from this book without confusing an important part of the picture with the whole, as I think this author clearly does. This is an important read for Ufologists who wish to deal with the historical and government involvement with the subject.

The first flaw in the book are factual errors. If I am aware of a good number upon casual reading no doubt it has many more. Not entirely the authors fault, because they tend to be repeated and spread in Ufology without question as long as they fit certain viewpoints. For example, a single altered AFOSI document that Bill Moore was encouraged to pass on to Paul Bennewitz becomes "false documents." There were a number of documents, but they did not involve the activities against Bennewitz. Later the same document is said to have been "retouched" by Moore and given to Bennewitz. Moore did not alter this document as given to Bennewitz, and only passed it along after much hesitation and a note of caution that it might be fake. To his credit Bennewitz kept it to himself. Such false remarks might seem innocent enough, until they are repeated and spread to form conclusions about activities and people that fit certain agendas. Another example is when the author speculates that Bill Moore was "inclined" to take the NASA involvement Bait because of the astronaut sighting in the original Roswell Book. Those were added by co-author Berlitz as filler. But the misconception has it's real origin in a 1987 MUFON paper that reveals more about a certain individuals 20 year vendetta against Bill Moore personally than it does about the truth of the MJ-12 matter. A paper filled with absurd speculations based on very limited and often second hand information. And while pointing so many fingers at US Intelligence Pilkington parrots the CIA's 1997 Historical UFO explanations. Well researched Critiques of this article are not mentioned or sighted. Considerable research on the MJ-12 Documents is also missing.

Then there is the often fantastical speculation in order to get you hooked on the authors way of thinking about the UFO and Roswell "Myth." The book would have been better if the author stuck to what he knows and was told rather than drift in order to fit so much UFO history in a neat little box. The author confuses what is sometimes the intelligence communities ability at subtle manipulation of belief in place, into incredible powers of deception!

The author displays at attitude often expressed during a change in Ufology away from the ETH in the 1970's. Personally I am very open minded about alternative explanations to UFO events. One explanation for the best cases need not fit "all" when the subject is about something unidentified in multiple incidents. However, the trend at the time produced some anti-extraterrestrial attitudes that became fixed. Writers like John Keel dismissed Roswell out of hand, while at the same time repeating cases that are far more likely to be outlandish hoaxes rather than evidence of a Paranormal Haunted Planet! To this day Jacques Vallee stretches scientific sounding anti-ETH arguments to extreme limits. But if it's from another "dimension" I guess anything is possible?

If it fits your ideas then it is evidence, if not be very skeptical. You end up with the same kind of bias that such people accuse many UFO researchers of having, including this author. And indeed many of them do. The problem is these researchers obviously suffer from the same problem of blanketed explanations and trying to force fit their own perspective.

After all this, why am I telling you to buy this book? Because this rather dark area of UFO research needs to be discussed. People with strong held beliefs are indeed easily manipulated. And characters like Rick Doty do have something important to say, even if you don't believe much of what they are telling you. We also have Dr. Christopher Green who has some very remarkable insights. He also knows his way around the Intelligence Community and how government operates. Imagine if Bill Moore, Rick Doty, ect.....never talked? How much would we be capable of suspecting today concerning UFO "disinformation?"

Perhaps the author is correct, and there is little to cover-up than the government own high tech toys. But if they did have something outside of their control with very serious implications to hide, you can bet they would take active counter-intelligence measures to protect it! They might also manipulate belief in what they can't control to test the Public's Reaction. Good enough reason to give this book some serious consideration. You can put information aside until something else comes along to confirm or refute it. And study that with caution as well.
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on 29 September 2016
A very plausible explanation of the whole UFO phenomenon. (To which which the tinfoil hat brigade would reply "Well, THEY, would want you say that wouldn't they?") But the simplest solution is most often the correct one, and it makes a lot more sense for UFOs to be a hoax than for aliens to travel billions of miles just to hide on deserted highways. Have bought copies of this book for friends, one of whom is a committed chemtrail believer. Not sure if it worked on him...
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The Mirage Men
Mark Pilkington

Although this is a book about the `truth about UFO's', if you really believe we are being visited by Little Green Men (or perhaps their more grown up cousins - the Greys) then you probably won't enjoy this.

For anyone else who is curious about what all the fuss is about then I highly recommend it.

The book is more about human psychology than about strange lights in the sky; more about the lengths that governments will go to, to keep secrets, than it is about flying saucers.

The story is the story of disinformation spread about UFO sightings by the US government in order to keep its military secrets, secret. Secret aircraft, at some point, have to fly. And occasionally they are seen by non-military personnel. So various US government agencies, it appears, decided to `encourage' the idea that they were alien craft.

Also, it appears, that the very idea that we are being `visited' by technologically advanced civilisations is more than the average human being is capable of handling and so a whole different bunch of disinformation spreaders spread disinformation to keep us safe from our own fears and the US safe from panicking mobs a la War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. They do this by keeping the idea of alien visitation alive and at a low level so that we can get used to it slowly - in psychology it's called Systematic Desensitisation.

The book traces the history of this disinformation from before the Roswell incident in 1947 to the huge UFO conference in Laughlin, Nevada in 2006. It was at this conference that they met, and spent considerable time with, some of the key players in this conspiracy - Rick Doty & Bill Ryan.

That's not to say there aren't still some mysteries, but the book focused, in its entirety, on the US UFO scene. This, despite the fact that the author is British and there are two significant UK UFO incidents (Berwyn Mountains and Rendlesham Forest - both laying claim to the title the British Roswell) which failed to get even a mention.

The book is interesting, page turning in parts, slow in others. Keeping track of the huge number of names who kept cropping up again and again in various parts of the book was a challenge I quickly abandoned, so threads were difficult to keep track of. Easy to put down, but I kept coming back to it.

It is a fascinating study in psychology and how innocent beliefs can be manipulated by governments to their own ends. How true it is, you'll have to judge for yourself.

Or is it just another level of disinformation being spread to keep the ground fertile and the community alive?
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on 7 September 2014
I probably wouldn't recommend to a hardcore believer or self conscious "skeptic" because this book probably isn't certain enough about what might be the truth behind it all to satisfy either camp, but as long as you just take it for what it is it's a well written, interesting and pretty strange (and pretty sad) story.
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on 2 June 2013
I don't trust grown men who get their kicks running around at night making crop circles (or claiming to, which is less effort ), and that flavoured my reading of this book. I don't believe that UFOs are a heat haze thrown up by intelligence services to hide stealth aircraft, it's more the other way around. Neither do I believe that intelligence operatives ever retire and 'speak out' - they never retire, just disappear up their own mirages.. The truth is that the 'reality' we think we live in - history, science, genetics, economics, religion, politics and technology is the mirage - we, like he author, are the Mirage Men. This book is a very entertaining light read but essentially just gossip designed to blow more smoke in your eyes. Perhaps Pilkington is more suited to running round with Ricky Gervais?
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on 10 August 2010
Mark Pilkington argues that the United States Air Force (USAF) and US intelligence agencies have a long history of manipulating people's beliefs about the UFO phenomenon. He believes that a major reason is to provide cover for the development and deployment of secret military hardware. If people think extraterrestrial UFOs are flying around, they may be less likely to recognize stealth planes and other secret military craft for what they are.

Pilkington and his friend John Lundberg have interviewed people who have been operatives in the disinformation game, including Richard C. Doty, a former sergeant with the USAF's Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). In the early 1980s, while based at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Doty became involved in a campaign of disinformation directed against Paul Bennewitz, a physicist and businessman who lived and worked next to the base. The case is also discussed in Greg Bishop's book 'Project Beta' (Paraview Pocket Books, New York, 2005). Bennewitz came to believe that aliens were abducting people, inserting implants in them, and controlling them via radio waves; and he believed that UFOs were regularly flying in the vicinity of KAFB. He reported his claims to the USAF. When interviewed in his home by Doty and a scientist working for the USAF, he showed them equipment he'd used to pick up signals that he believed were linked with the supposed alien activity. He was reportedly spied on and deliberately misled for several years by the AFOSI and National Security Agency, and became so paranoid that his family eventually took him to a mental health facility in Albuquerque, where he remained for a little over a month (in, or about, 1988, it appears - see Bishop, 2005, pp. 217-218). He died in 2003.

In part, the dirty tricks campaign against Bennewitz may have been aimed at distracting him from sensitive projects at KAFB. But Pilkington (pp. 177-178) contends that the USAF had been encouraging Bennewitz in his delusions from the outset, and that the real target was the whole UFO community. Indeed, it seems that disinformation tactics were applied quite widely and not just focused on Bennewitz. Pilkington suggests (p. 218) that the authorities wanted to lure aircraft spotters and UFO hunters to New Mexico, thereby taking their attention off Nevada, where early flights of the F-117A 'Nighthawk' stealth bomber (erroneously referred to as a "Stealth Fighter" by Pilkington) were taking place.

Naturally, the assertions of Doty and the other intelligence operatives cited in 'Mirage Men' should be treated with caution. But the book doesn't stand or fall on their testimony alone. It contains a good deal of additional information, along with a fair amount of speculation.

Helpfully, the book includes an index and bibliography. But the text contains some rather unusual words and expressions, which many readers may find meaningless (e.g. "motherload", p. 213; "chthonic", p. 223; "epistemological pretzel", p. 260). On p. 248, there's mention of "ionized electrons", which doesn't sound right to me. On p. 150, Pilkington mentions "Kevin Bigelow", for which I think we should read "Robert Bigelow". On pp. 55-56, Pilkington refers to a secret USAF project, the "Manned Orbiting Laboratory" (MOL), which was supposedly cancelled after just one test flight. But then he adds (p. 56) that the "MOL embellishment" is his own! I find this confusing, but I presume it's intended as a joke about the spreading of disinformation.

In passing, it's worth noting that Pilkington claims that ALL crop circles are made by people (p. 9). No doubt many are, but I very much doubt whether he, or anyone else, is in a position to know for sure that all of them are human creations. As for UFOs, he doesn't go as far as to claim that every single report can be attributed to prosaic factors such as misperception, misreporting or military activity, although I suspect that he believes that the large majority of them can be explained in mundane terms.
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on 27 February 2014
Bloated dish of spaghetti CIAse, which will inevitably satisfy the appetites of the left brained and those who have never properly researched the extraterrestrial issue it seeks to debunk.
As will all disinformation attempting to pass itself off as revelation, the recipe mixes a good deal of fact with fiction, in exactly the fashion it claims to be exposing.
How any serious researcher can imply that covering up the testing of secret US military aircraft was the sole explanation for the 1940s-50s flying saucer flap, is hysterically funny, and any reader who believes that has to have their head firmly ensconced in their intestines.
Presumably, we are supposed to believe that American secret aircraft were so advanced in the late 1940s and early 1950s that they could travel faster than the speed of light, stop on a dime and then, rather stupidly, hover noiselessly and conspicuously over the very nuclear facilities the military were trying to keep secret.
Cognitive dissonance anyone?
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on 18 April 2011
I found this book quite hard going. Having purposely Not read literature about the UFO movement except for Hynek's account of the infamous Project Blue Book and books by Vallèe, Streiber and Bergier, I bought this to give myself a view of the other side of incidents that took place from the 1940's onwards. I found that there are many examples that are backed by only speculation and circumstantial examples. Pilkington tends to ignore the evidence of genuine man-in-the-street sightings and puts too much influence on the effects of media activity. Due to this he fails to hit the mark for me between the fanatical believer and the denying skeptic and is not objective. There is much in the book that inspires a desire for factual evidence or even a better description of his first-hand knowledge. Despite his having known prominent player's in the disinformation campaign, he still wavers and shows a reluctance to accept that any genuine close encounters took place outside of the sphere of influence of the shady groups he describes within the military. It is undeniable that military secrets are hidden under a cloak of perceptive misinformation and the public were played during the paranoia that swept the planet from 1947 onwards. Despite this, I felt he was obsessively preoccupied with suspicions of "things going on" where they may not be, providing scanty evidence and ignoring the wider possibilities. He left me feeling grateful for the possibility that what I have seen myself may not be total delusion.
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