Recently, GhostTheory had the opportunity to do a brief interview with well known UFOlogist Nick Pope. Nick has been worked for Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) for twenty-one years in several capacities, most notably from 1991 to 1994 investigating UFO claims to assertain MoD interests. Nick has made appearances on many television shows, done many interviews, written four books and is very active within the UFO community. His official website is at www.nickpope.net . I would really like to thank Nick for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer the following questions:
Q: Nick, I know from our email discussions that you had your reservations about how the public perceives the processes that occur within the media and the press. What would you like to say to clarify this matter?
A: It has been falsely suggested that I deceived people by claiming that a video taken in California in 2008 had been taken in Ireland this year. This is nonsense. The confusion arose because a member of the public sent The Sun two videos he found on YouTube. One had apparently been taken in California, the other in Ireland. It seems that there was confusion over which was which. My only role in any of this was to give the newspaper a couple of brief comments about the footage itself.
Q: Recently, I know you did a quick interview with MSNBC about the Dublin UFO. I was surprised to see that you did not mention that the video might not be accurate. Is there any reason for this?
A: I did mention it. I said that with material like this there are always doubts about whether the footage is real or fake and at the end of the interview I said that with regard to this particular piece of film, there had been controversy about when and where this was taken. The interview has been posted on YouTube so people can check this themselves.
Q: When you review photographs or video, is there a process or guideline that you personally use to examine media in question? Within recent years you have made comments on two other of The Sun photographs, in which one apparently showed a sea gull while in another from a google street view showed nine objects in formation, which can be attributed to a flight of RAF Tornado’s flying in review for the Queen. Do you have any comments about those pictures now?
A: I’ve probably commented on hundreds of photos and videos for dozens of newspapers and magazines. There’s no process. I just tell them what I think. Once or twice, I’ve made mistakes, e.g. where I’ve inadvertently been sent a low-res image.
Q: Do you have any reservations about comments made on any other photographs or video from the past?
A: No. In the media industry here in the UK there’s an old saying that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish & chip paper. The world moves on and I don’t lose sleep over old newspaper stories.
Q: I remember about a year ago a chap over there in Britain claimed he was the reason for the Rendlesham UFO. He made a statement about claiming that his truck of manure caught fire, so he parked it in the woods near the U.S. air base there, thus causing the following clamor. I know I thought it was laughable what was stated, but how did the English population receive the news?
A: The claim didn’t really get that much publicity and wasn’t taken seriously. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Rendlesham Forest incident we’ll probably see more people jump on the bandwagon and try to write themselves into the story. Having seen all the MoD documents on this case and having conducted a cold case review into it in 1994 I can categorically state that the burning manure truck incident – even if it ever happened, which is far from certain – does not explain what happened at Rendlesham.
Q: What is your opinion of the rise of UFO sightings over the years, throughout the world?
A: Dealing with statistics is difficult. We certainly see more UFO reports, but does this mean there are more sightings, or does it mean that a higher proportion of sightings is being reported, perhaps because the internet makes it easier to report?
Q: Since the Ministry Of Defense publicly stated that is was closing down the “UFO dept”, do you believe that the possibility exists of them just moving their “X files” department to a more secretive sector?
A: In response to a query from a journalist, the MoD press office made an interesting comment. The quote was published in The Sun on January 22, in a story that ends with the following: The MoD defended its decision to shut the UFO division. A spokesman said: “We do not feel there is any military value in reviewing the public’s sightings”. The key point is that the quote didn’t say there was no military value in reviewing UFO sightings – only that there was no military value in reviewing the public’s UFO sightings. Where evidence suggests that UK airspace has been penetrated by an unidentified object, this must automatically be of defense interest and should be investigated properly, not least because such activity may be espionage or terrorism related. So to answer your question, I’m sure that sightings from pilots and uncorrelated targets tracked on radar will continue to be looked at, albeit outside of a formally constituted UFO project. That’s certainly the implication of the comment from the MoD press office. On the one hand, this is understandable and it’s clear that the vast majority of sightings reported by the public were misidentifications of ordinary phenomena or objects – largely, in recent years, Chinese lanterns. On the other hand, it’s patronizing to assume that no useful information could ever come from the public and it’s unscientific to ignore data.
Q: In your opinion, which country’s government is more liberal with UFO information? Brazil is taking an active role in UFO information declassification; will they be the first?
A: A number of countries have released UFO files, are in the process of releasing them, or have said that they intend to release them. These include France, Brazil, the UK, Norway, Denmark and New Zealand. However, because none of these files contain a ‘smoking gun’ that proves UFOs are extraterrestrial, this is not the “Disclosure” that many ufologists talk about.
Q: Do you think websites such as YouTube help or hinder the efforts of researchers and investigators of UFO’s in regards to the amount of questionable video provided to the general populace? Do you think that fraudulent or fake video’s desensitize people’s perceptions towards UFO’s?
A: It’s a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it provides a medium for people to quickly and easily publicize a sighting. On the other hand, it encourages hoaxing. It’s certainly one of a number of factors that has embedded the UFO phenomenon more firmly in popular culture.
Q: Have you ever researched or investigated into the events that transpired in the Berwyn Mountains some thirty-five years ago? Can you give us a brief about might have occurred there?
A: On January 23, 1974, police and RAF mountain rescue teams in Wales responded to reports of a loud explosion and strange lights in the sky, near the Berwyn Mountains. Conspiracy theorists believe a UFO crashed and the government recovered it and covered up the truth. I’ve seen all the MoD documents on this and I’m afraid the real explanation is rather more prosaic. The events were caused by a combination of a small earthquake and a meteor shower, together with some subsequent hoaxing and exaggeration.
Q: What does the near future hold for Nick Pope?
A: I shall continue to do a mixture of freelance journalism and TV work on a wide range of subjects including the unexplained, conspiracy theories, fringe science, science fiction, space and defense. I’ll also be doing more PR work for a number of film companies, helping promote newly-released films and DVDs.