In Which Conspiracy Theorists Face Their Greatest Fear – a bean

Paul Joseph Watson, a vlogger in Alex Jones’ sprawling paranoid media empire-slash-supplement lifestyle brand InfoWars, is a major figure in modern paranoid internet dude conservatism, or – as he’d describe it – the new punk rock.

Yeah man, you’re really annoying the leftists by saying something dumb and getting called dumb before everyone moves on with their life.

Paul Joseph Watson is a tough rebel, an iconoclast who fears nothing – except for soybeans.

“Soy boy” is the latest term to spread like wildfire through the alt-right/InfoWars/terrible internet dude scene. Like all of their terminology – from “cuck” to “virtual signaler” – it’s treated as a devastating insult by those who use it, and is heard by everyone else as meaningless horseshit. Just like Watson’s own personal catchphrase, “imagine my shock”. Wow, buddy…I’m starting to think you aren’t really shocked, or something.

Soy feminizes men, Watson says. “You’ve probably seen the Buzzfeed Try Guy video where they measure their testosterone”, he goes on, apparently not knowing what “probably” means. I don’t think I’ve ever googled “testosterone levels of the staff of a website I dislike”, but then again I haven’t shilled even one dubious brain pill.

Watson thankfully includes a two-minutes-hate of feminist men who made a Tweet he dislikes, who also once tweeted about eating soy. Frantically searching for signs your enemies ate a food is a perfectly normal activity. Who hasn’t done such a thing? As you’d expect, this montage ranges from political celebrities to just random nobodies who made a bad Tweet once. Also, he takes a chance to be xenophobic about refugees, because of course.

You’d also expect random cuts to things we’re just instinctively meant to understand as bad. For example, Watson cuts to a woman – unnamed, and never mentioned in the video – saying “I’m triggered”. You sure showed…uh, whoever that was. He also cuts to Jeb Bush. Hasn’t JEB! suffered enough?

The crux of Watson’s theory is that soy contains estrogen. Babies are being fed a soy milk formula, and thus there’s a grand theory about how there’s a plot to raise a generation of Soy Boys. A terrifying world where boys are, uh, feminine a bit, maybe? The implications are truly not that troubling, honestly.

Soy boy outrage ran through the alt-right like a wildfire. Perhaps its finest result was leading 4Chan users to drink onion juice to offset the “effects” of soy and regain their manliness. Stefan “once posed as a woman online to agree with himself” Molyneux compared the consumption of soy to the fall of Rome.

But by and large, “soy boy” has become just another insult thrown about by the alt-right, a sign of cutting wit to them and a sign of meaningless, braying jackassery to everyone else. There’ll be a new one a week from now, and it’ll be just as confounding. But at least we can take pleasure in the fact that this one hurt 4Chan literally.

Advertisements

Distant Encounters: the Delightful Stupidity of Skinwalker Ranch’s Bulletproof Wolf

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

Skinwalker Ranch is a fascinating little footnote in UFO lore. A ranch near Ballard, Utah, it gained fame in the mid-90s when a series of stories by journalist George Knapp in the Deseret News documented strange events witnessed by its new owners, the Shermans. The Shermans reported seeing:

…three specific types of UFOs repeatedly during the past 15 months – a small boxlike craft with a white light, a 40-foot-long object and a huge ship the size of several football fields.

But Skinwalker Ranch truly enters UFO lore when the National Institute for Discovery Science, a paranormal research organization founded by businessman Robert Bigelow, acquired it in 1996. The NIDSci folded in 2004 after discovering precisely jack shit.

Yet a faithful remains, and today’s story concerns one of the many entities detailed on the Skinwalker Ranch’s delightfully Web 1.0 website. Despite being maybe the most-researched UFO hotspot in the world, photos of the Ranch’s alien entities – which include sentient mist and alien portals – mostly document just one unearthly being.

The Bulletproof Wolf.

This “dire wolf” like creature has long dirty mangy grey/black hair.  Has a proud, intimidating, and intense like presence.

Intense like presence. It’s clearly proud, clearly intimidating, but merely intense adjacent.

At this time I am unsure if it is hostile or friendly, my impression was neither more majestic and to be feared in nature.

I wasn’t sure if the wolf was hostile, so I shot at it as much as I possibly could.

Large sturdy body structure.  Has an unusually long and bushy tail.

A scary wolf with the fluffiest tail in the world!

Has a penetrating stare, but is unable/unwilling to communicate verbally or psychically.   

This wolf must be an alien: it’s incapable of the speech and telepathy normal wolves are famed for.

Said to show up about %15 of the time, the bulletproof wolf is oddly the subject of nearly all entity photographs.

Look at this goddamn monstrosity, um, walking. Away from us. What is this dastardly alien direwolf planning?

How could there possibly be a reddish-furred, bushy-tailed, wolf-like animal in the Southwestern United States? If such a thing existed, science would know about it.

NOPE, it’s a composite witness sketch of the Beast of Bray Road – a werewolf myth from Wisconsin. Here it is on the site of Beast of Bray Road researcher Linda Godfrey.

…yes, I recognized it off the top of my head.

If you enjoy swiping from better-known legends, you’ll enjoy the Skinwalker Ranch’s Youtube channel, which includes videos on the Paulding Lights and New Jersey’s ghost car.

Chupacabra’s my favorite small ungulate.

That’s not a bulletproof wolf. It’s a testament to your inexplicable inability to either identify or shoot coyotes.

If you’re curious as to the site’s records of other, less wolf-adjacent entities, here’s a photo of one of its famed alien portals opening.

And that tells you everything you need to know about Skinwalker Ranch.

In Which Reddit Bans A Toxic Cesspool of Misogyny

[cw: rape and misogyny]

r/incels was toxic and misogynistic by Reddit standards, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more terrifying sentence. It was a place for people to congregate to yell about how much they hate women, and then wonder why women won’t sleep with them. It was every nasty, sexist tendency of toxic masculinity-fueled, entitled young men shoved – or, you may say, quarantined – into one hellish place.

Reddit banned r/incels, acting swiftly to stem the tide of such terrible behavior by waiting nearly two years to do literally anything. But let’s not be churlish: Reddit actually Did A Good for once, and we should applaud them, and also ask them to maybe be a bit faster next time.

And on a personal note, I also applaud…myself! Because even though I heard about how awful r/incels was, I never once looked at it. For once in my life, my drive to find something terrible & gaze deeply into it from afar, like a pig wallowing in mud, was defeated by my mind’s self-preservation instincts. Go me! But now I must pick over the fragments of r/incels’ fetid corpse.

Incels, short for “involuntary celibates”, are some of the worst people on the planet – again, they stood out as terrible on Reddit, a kind of zoo for disgusting male subcultures. At their best they appear to have spent time raging against literal strangers maybe having sex, asking profound questions like “why do women like men who are nice and considerate, and don’t spend all their time insulting women on the internet?”. Truly the mystery of our time. Earnest displays of joy and happiness were anathema to them, triggering bizarre and terrifying displays of revulsion.

At their worst, incels are genuinely criminal, often condoning rape – even outright discussing how to get away with it. r/Incels was a vile echo chamber where misogynistic ideas were reinforced and deepened by an insular community. Angry, entitled misogynist dudes still have places to congregate – for example, Reddit – but they have one less place that’s for them – and that’s why we should celebrate its ban.

And to incels themselves: to misquote The Social Network, let it be known that women don’t hate you because you’re a nerd. They hate you because you’re an asshole.

A Halloween Flashback: enjoy this 2015 dive into one Chicago preacher’s hammy crusade against SAMHAAAAIN, that night where the Devil may even take youth pastors innocently walking 1666 Dark Shadow Lane.

The Space Lizard Report

Over on Youtube, I maintain a playlist of bizarre videos. There’s nearly 100 on there now, with videos ranging from Freddy Freaker to the Judderman. I’ve arranged it into sections, because that is exactly the dorky thing I’d do, so watch it sometime.

One of the videos I’ve had up there for a while is a Chicago-area PSA from the late 80’s. In it, an unnamed preacher rails against Halloween:

There’s so much amazing here. Samhain, which is actually pronounced Sah-win, isn’t just an alternate name for Halloween. And I refuse to believe that this guy hates Halloween. He’s just so into his character. He looks like he loves Halloween, as he plays a scenery-chewing Devil trying to “take Chicago back”. It’s incredible.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Make sure to stay safe when trick-or-treating on 1666 Dark Shadow Lane!

View original post

Distant Encounters: the Hat-Wearing Little Green Men of Texas

Today’s tale hails from 1913, two miles west of the northeastern Texas burg of Farmersville (population 3,301). But the people involved told no one until 1978 – out of fear? Fear of ridicule over having one of UFOlogy’s few run-ins with literal little green men?

Brothers Clyde, Sid and Silbie Latham chopped cotton on their family’s farm. A mundane scene interrupted by the barking of dogs. The Latham brothers scramble to investigate and find, as Silbie told FATE in 1978:

“a little man only 18 inches tall…He didn’t seem to have on any shoes but I don’t really remember his feet. His arms were hanging down just beside him. He had on a kind of hat that reminded me of a Mexican hat. It was a little round hat that looked like it was built onto him…everything looked like a rubber suit including the hat.”

The 18-inch man’s rubbery skin was smooth, dark green all over (Fate, 1978) – including the strange, hat-like protrusion. The brothers considered the bizarre visitor, the alien before them, and reached out in a spirit of peace. Contact began, and everyone prospere-nope! Their dogs viciously murdered him a second later. According to Silbie Latham:

“Red blood spilled everywhere and the being’s insides, which looked like human organs, fell to the ground.”

Ah yes, at least we discovered the defenseless alien visitor did in fact have human-esque organs, and blood, so very much blood, and so we can know for sure that in those few confused seconds he felt all the pain just as intensely as any human being. A successful first contact!

“Unable to cope with the whole matter, the boys retreated to their work; the dogs stayed near them the rest of the day, as if frightened. “

The dogs were frightened…at discovering what they were capable of, much like in Air Bud: There Ain’t No Rule A Dog Can’t Be a Retired Enforcer, Weighed Down By His Terrible Sins.

The boys told their parents, who disbelieved them. The following day, the little man’s body vanished without a trace. Two years later, they did see “a mysterious object carrying two lights — one in front, the other in back — sail silently by” near Celeste, Texas. Three years later, Silbie witnessed a fireball falling from the sky, leaving only a circle of gray powder. But the Lathams would never again see a little green man.

Silbie Latham’s story went untold for sixty-five years, when his grandson would report it to the Center for UFO Studies. Even Latham’s own grandson heard the story only reluctantly, after much prompting. And while everyone found Silbie believable, researchers tended to discount his story outright, explaining it away as a prank or a frog. Silbie rejected them all.

Admittedly, Silbie Latham’s little green man probably was a frog. It probably was an ordinary creature that ran into the wrong dogs. But we should still be glad he shared his unbelievable story, and that others won’t wait their entire lives to tell theirs…and that when aliens actually meet humanity, they don’t get torn apart by dogs.

An illustration of the Farmersville Green Man by Eric Kowalick, who has delightful illustrations of many obscure alien sightings.

May the real Eminem clone please stand up?

A thread about Lindsey Lohan’s reaction to Harvey Weinstein produces this utter gem:

…right then!

The joy of this is how it doesn’t really evolve, but just jumps right in. Seeing someone going in a mundane-bullshit brainwashing direction, one man stood up and said, “nope, she is a clone, and guess what! So is Eminem!” No one even mentioned Eminem!

It seems the denizens of r/conspiracy despise Eminem for his recent anti-Trump rap – and some believe he didn’t even rap it at all, and that much like Steve Guttenberg, a vast conspiracy has replaced Eminem with…a clone. Because cloning works very rapidly, and would replicate non-genetic factors like someone’s performance style and ability. This Redditor’s knowledge of cloning would make a Raëlian look good.

And how does he know Eminem was replaced by a clone?

*chef fingers* Marrrrrrrvelous.

Distant Encounters: Giant Shrimp in the Laundry Room

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

One of the weirdest, most obscure cryptids of all time hails from Strange magazine’s sixth issue, an account by one Virginia Staples. Living in Washington in 1948, her apartment building’s basement was improbably large – and riddled with holes.

There were huge holes in the walls and the apartment house manager used to tell me that it was rumored there was a passage to the water.

Doing her laundry, she felt that she was not alone:

There was a washer and a washtub and a clothesline. And on this particular day I had gotten my clothes all hung up but I kept feeling someone was staring at me or looking at me. And it was such a creepy feeling I finally turned around and looked towards the back of the basement and froze. I was so scared I can still feel it. I couldn't move. In one of the huge holes in the basement there stood this thing.

According to the transcript of her phone call, she broke down here as she described what she saw.

Oh, it was horrible! I stand five foot tall and this creature was as tall as I was. It had a bright orange colored body and little spidery thin legs and antennae on its head that kept moving back and in and out.

When the bizarre creature moved towards her, the witness fled. The encounter so unnerved her that she immediately moved out of the building. Seeking answers, she tried to look for another creature like the one she saw:

I went to an aquarium to see if I could see anything that looked like what it was, and the only thing that I could find that looked anything like it was this little tiny shrimp. But it just doesn't make sense.

A couple years later, she bravely ventured back to the city she left – only to find that the building demolished, any answers truly lost.

The creature known only as the “giant shrimp in the laundry room” is a true oddity. A very-mid-00s forum thread discusses the tale:

 

Another poster tells of their own encounter with a scarlet frog that they never found any trace of since; others make Gary Coleman jokes. But no one reports another encounter with a giant shrimp, watching them from a hole in some dusty Washington basement – though we do, delightfully, find fan art of it. Strange magazine’s first-hand reports section includes raw, uninvestigated personal reports, and that’s what they remain: pure, unfiltered stories of the truly inexplicable. Whatever Virginia Staples really saw, she was so scared of it that she uprooted her entire life to escape it. And we’ll never know more.

 

Distant Encounters: The Garbage Cryptid of About.com

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

About.com was a sprawling lifestyle site, divided into nearly 1,000 pages for any interest under the sun: whether you were a gardener, knitter, or occultist, it was all there. This year, it shut down, rebranded as a more-modern lifestyle brand called Dotdash. Much of its content was lost, and that’s not terribly sad or remarkable, except for the day its Paranormal site spawned a report of a strange creature living in a dump.

A poll asking if readers had seen a cryptid spawned a unique response:

Paula M. had one such sighting. But it wasn’t of a Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or even a chupacabras. In many ways it was much stranger. And try as she might and after diligent research, she has yet to come up with an explanation for what she saw.

1999, Oregon. Paula M.’s hobby is searching junkyards for vintage bottles and glass which, you do you, Oregon. Heading into a off-the-beaten-path dump she had never visited before, Paula M. noticed something unusual:

“As I was staking out the area,” she said. “I happened across some tunnel-like holes in the ground. The holes were of a peculiar size, which made me wonder what kind of animal possibly could have dug them.”

Paula noticed six or seven of the holes, each about two inches in diameter and partially camouflaged by the sparse growth of the recess.

Finding an inviting spot, Paula M. dug in the dirt for nearly an hour in search of vintage bottles with embossed letters which, okay.

Paula decided to take a break from her excavation and stretch her legs. She stood and walked around a bit. “While I was moving about at the bottom of the recess, I thought I saw, from the corner of my eye, a clump of dirt move. It was about the size of my fist”…about 10 feet away from her, the clump of dirt moved, like it was pushed out of the ground from beneath, and rolled down the hill. Paula began to get a little nervous. Whatever had made those tunnel-like holes was apparently making another one. And she wasn’t particularly keen on watching a rat, a snake, or some other potentially dangerous animal come slithering out.

Then she saw it. Something living began to poke itself out of the ground!

The creature emerges, and it’s like nothing Paula M. has seen before:

She stopped about four to five feet away from the creature. What she could see of it was poking out of the ground about five inches. “At this point, I wasn’t sure what end of the animal I was looking at,” Paula said. “It was about two inches in diameter, and the end of it was perfectly smooth and round – like a cue ball. It was light-brown in color, very much like the surrounding earth. It had a worm-like shape, but didn’t taper down at the end as worms do, and was firmer around looking. It had no distinguishing or familiar features to indicate to me what it was.”

Its size made it obvious that this was not a worm – at least not any kind of worm Paula had ever heard of. And she could not see its entire body, only what was poking out of the ground, so who knows what the rest of this thing really looked like…she could not detect any eyes, mouth, nose or ears. It had no fur, scales or worm-like ripples on its skin. What it did have was patches of peach-like fuzz – very fine and spaced apart like the hair on a young human’s arm – covering what looked like soft, dusty skin about the texture of a person’s. It was not wet, slimy or tough looking.

As she studied at the strange, featureless creature, it gave her a startling surprise:

“All of a sudden,” she said, “while I was examining it, two big beautiful crystal blue eyes popped open! Now I knew what end of the animal I was looking at.”

All thoughts of this being some kind of giant worm were immediately dismissed. Worms don’t have eyes – not like that! More curious than frightened of this remarkable animal, Paula began to wonder how big the body was and what its arms, legs, and tail looked like – or if it even had any such parts. “The white of the eye surrounding its blue iris was the whitest I’d ever seen – a pure virgin white. The size of the eyes were quite big in proportion to its body size. I wondered if it were a juvenile.”

The creature remained gentle, undisturbed by Paula’s presence.

“My presence didn’t seem to bother it because it studied me for only a short period of time. Then it ignored me. It appeared content and relaxed while it exposed itself to the sun…Paula was startled when the creature began to move, and she instinctively stepped back. The animal slowly began to sway the top of its body back and forth as it stretched itself upward toward the sky, all the while slowly blinking.

“I tried to get it to look at me again by clapping my hands and yelling, but it continued to ignore me.” Since it had no discernable ears, Paula wondered if perhaps it couldn’t hear sound. So she tried waving her arms and hands about to draw its attention to her. But all it did was stare at the sky, continuing to sway its head back and forth, stretching upward while blinking slowly. It was as if it were hypnotized by the light of the sun.”

After five minutes, the creature retreated back into the ground, leaving more questions than answers:

Paula isn’t quite sure what to make of this peculiar encounter, but it haunts her. “I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind, and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve asked many people about it and have spent countless hours searching the Internet for answers to any known or unknown animal fitting the description of the animal.”

Paula returned to the dump site the following Spring in hopes of getting another glimpse of the mysterious creature. No such luck. Some of the hole openings were there, however. “I am convinced that this animal still exists and lives there. It’s possible that it hibernates, so I will go back again in early to mid-summer and try and get another glimpse of it – and possibly capture it on film.”

No such evidence ever presented itself, but readers eagerly wrote in with their own theories. Someone suggests a misidentified rubber boa, which Paula M. rejects. “Scott” proposes the legendary tatzelwurm. Another says a friend reports seeing a similar creature:

“I have not seen this creature myself, but I know of someone in California who has. It was about more than 30 years ago and the people who saw it were little children at the time. They said they were playing in the backyard in the dirt when all of a sudden this ‘thing’ came sprouting out the the dirt. The brother and sister just watched in horror, holding their breath. The brother described it as a tall, worm-looking thing about 8 feet tall. Up to this day, if the sister asks the brother, ‘Do you remember…?’ he cuts her off and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I believe in what they saw.” – Natalie W.

The responses contain their own mystery: a suggestion of the “ingots” of Indochina as a solution is complicated by the fact that every result for “ingots” seems to be discussion of this very comment. This e-mail to a defunct website’s coverage of a obscure cryptid is itself the only account of an obscure cryptid.

“I probably won’t be the first or only to inform you that what Paula saw at the dump may indeed be an unidentified Southeastern Asian creature known as an ingot [possibly lingot]. Check with Agence France-Press for stories about ingots during the final years of French involvement in Indochina. They were seen burrowing everywhere, and the descriptions of the bodies and eyes match those of Paula’s story. Old Indochina veterans in the French army could never explain them or where they came from, and there is no record of American sightings during this country’s involvement later. General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, supreme commander of French forces in Indochina, was so unnerved by sighting of burrowing ingots and the lack of information about them that he brought in a special team of researchers, who apparently found nothing.

“The ingot is like no other creature reported on earth, and it contributed to the general weirdness of the French experience in Indochina. Ingots were reported in large numbers in 1953 around the North Vietnamese site where an entire French regiment vanished without a trace. This disappearance may have had nothing to do with ingots, but there are still old veterans in the cafes of Paris, Bordeaux and Marseilles who swear there was a connection. Incidentally, the reality of the disappearing regiment is well-documented. For a few years in the 1950s, burrowing ingots made big news in France. But France, like the US later, hid its Indochinese veterans and paid little attention to their stories… about anything. Such is defeat.” – Loic C.

Anton B. suggests that the gentle creature was in fact a vicious predator, sizing up its prey:

“I read the article about that weird creature of the dump that Paula M saw. I just think that she ought to be careful going back to look for the creature. Its behavior seems to me to suggest that it is a predator of some sort…his creature obviously showed no sign of fear from the account that was given. This creature even came out of the ground when it was likely that it would have had some sign that there was a large being somewhere in the vicinity. I assume that it had this knowledge as a creature that lived underground would likely be sensitive to vibrations, and be able to determine that something large was around.

“The next thing that makes this creature seem predatory is how it extended itself and waved in the air in a very obvious manner…Of course, I am not a professional in the field of animal behavior, but…I’d just suggest that she doesn’t approach the creature and that she does not go to look for it alone. Perhaps the reason that the creature is unknown is that no one has ever survived an experience with it before.”

Anton B. isn’t a professional in animal behavior, BUT…Paula M did never report back, as far as I can tell, beyond one interview with Jeff Rense that I can’t find any trace of, so yep she was absolutely eaten by it. That’s just science. And if she did ever report back, I couldn’t find a trace of it either, since all the proof is buried deep in the Wayback Machine. This story about a weird cryptid, who defied categorization and explanation, is itself now a kind of internet cryptid.

The Dump Creature: Part 1, Part 2; Comments: Part 1, Part 2

In Which Flat Earthers Prove Too Stupid For Even Reddit

A semi-serious resurgence of flat eartherism is going on all around us, a veritable golden age of theories debunked in the Bronze Age. And it’s now spread to Reddit.

One user, whose submissions are otherwise full of r/conspiracy’s typical anti-Semitism and Pizzagate ravings, also spreads the Flat Earth Gospel to a mostly hostile audience.

The Earth somehow looks different in different photos taken across a period of forty years. This is of course a sign of a conspiracy, since camera technology’s famously hasn’t changed since 1975. The only other explanation is that these photos represent a wide array of photos, taken by different cameras, with different weather on earth, at different angles and distances, and with some being acknowledged composite images, but who would believe that?

His big sticking point seems to be the size of North America: his perpetual refrain in response to criticism is that “US too big!!!”. After all, sizes are absolutely constant from all angles and distances.

They also link to a website about the “NASA Occult conspiracy”:

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to read this site, on account of now being blind because my god that color scheme

The user’s other posts have delightful titles like “NASA gets pwned from a camera bought at Walmart with video showing FAKE PLANETS and fake stars”, “If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line then WHY is there NO FLIGHTS over South Atlantic Ocean?” (with every comment pointing out many, many non-stop flights from South Africa to Brazil or Australia), and “The “Northern Lights” are proof we live under a dome/firmament”.

Could I actually try to debunk these theories? Yes. Should I? Fuck no. Life’s too short to spend time arguing with people who sincerely believe the Earth is flat, and for once the denizens of r/conspiracy agree.

Distant Encounters: Canada’s Most Mysterious UFO

Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.

August 18th, 1991. West Carleton, Ontario – a rural farming community. Diane Labenek hears the barks of distant dogs across the field. She rises, looks out the window, and one of my favorite UFO cases of all time begins.

Labenek sees fire and lights: red flames and smoke. A UFO flies towards the bright fire. As Labenek watches,  the UFO departs. Ten minutes later, a helicopter flies overhead. She tells no one but her family.

This isn’t the first strange event to happen in West Carleton: in 1989, Labenek and many others report an “intense, bright light” passing overhead towards a nearby swamp, pursued by helicopters. But neither event draws much attention: with Labenek keeping the story to herself, it’s just another UFO sighting, a lone report without any proof to back it up.

The following year, proof arrived.

Six months later, UFO researcher Bob Oechsler received a package from someone identified only as “Guardian”. The anonymous present included a VHS tape and many crudely forged documents and photos of aliens. In short, most of what Guardian sent was easily dismissable bullshit: but the VHS tape proved harder to dismiss.

The tape corroborates Labenek’s 1991 sighting almost exactly, down to the barking dogs in the background. Seemingly filmed from the other side of the field, you can see the flares in the field, and the shining lights of a large, distinct UFO. Oechsler, who didn’t know about Labenek’s sighting, couldn’t have known that this wasn’t Guardian’s first enigmatic message.

After the 1989 sighting, researcher Tom Theofanous of the Canadian UFO Research Network received a package from Guardian alleging a UFO crash near West Carleton. With nothing but photo-copied photos of fake aliens as “proof”, researchers who toured West Carleton discovered little else, bar reports of a strange lights from a local couple, a rancher – and Diane Labenek. They safely classified Guardian’s first message as a hoax.

In 1992, researchers weren’t so willing to dismiss Guardian. Oeschler and Graham Lightfoot visited West Carleton and, along the way, Labenek. Having no knowledge of her story, they were stunned to discover that it matched the video nearly exactly. Perhaps this would be a rarity – a UFO case with genuine proof?

Yet the investigation was far from smooth. According to MUFON Ontario, Oeschler’s inexperience showed:

[Oechsler] pointed to vegetation that had “been treated with microwave radiation”! How did he come to that conclusion without using any instruments?

“It’s very dry and brittle, so it’s obviously been irradiated” Oechsler said.

The ‘irradiated’ plants were Juniper bushes that always look that way after a Canadian winter – bleached, dried and flattened by heavy snow, probably in much the same way as in Maryland, Oechsler’s home-state.

Some residents of West Carleton, apparently unaware of the threat posed by the alien-irradiated juniper bushes in their midst, took note of an unusually high number of helicopters flying overhead – black, green, and maroon helicopters, with tinted windows for that paranoid-90s flair.

Seeking to “flush out Guardian” – a purely selfless motive I absolutely believe – Oeschler managed to wrangle a story about the case on Unsolved Mysteries. Before their investigation was even complete, it also managed to make an appearance on Sightings, winning the prestigious dubious-90s-paranormal-show double. The investigation also drew in Bruce Maccabee, the famed MUFON researcher who would later think a mouse light in a room was a UFO.

By 1993, researchers had concluded that the Guardian case was likely a hoax. With everything else in the package a proven forgery, why not the video? Claims that it was too large, and too silent to be faked weren’t terribly convincing. Guardian went from one of the most exciting UFO cases in history to an embarrassment UFOologists would rather leave behind them. In 1994, Oeschler, the researcher who drove the case from the beginning retired from UFOology.

Guardian is a strange, beautiful mess. The VHS-quality video is oddly mesmerizing, with its blurred lights in the darkness. The tale of its investigation, meanwhile, is a trainwreck. Most probably, the video itself was a hoax, a simple case of lights on a truck. But there’s something so magically X-Files-y about the idea of an enigmatic, anonymous source leaking proof of UFOs to intrepid researchers, of a person keeping a strange event to themselves for fear of ridicule only to receive proof their experience was valid. Guardian burnt bright and it burnt fast. Among the shadowy-conspiracy genre of UFO sighting, Guardian is maybe the most archetypal one there is.

As for Guardian, their identity was never found.

Biblioteca Pléyades, a sprawling library of the paranormal and strange, has a in-depth article about the Guardian case that you really should read.