On this edition of Parallax Views, fake news and the rise of conspiracy theories like QAnon have become political hot-takes since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump and events like the January 6th, 2021 “Stop the Steal” riots on Capitol Hill. But disinformation and conspiracy theories that stretch far beyond the limits of credulity didn’t begin in the 21st century. Case in point with the strange case of UFO hobbyist Paul Bennewitz. and what has become know to UFO enthusiasts as “The Bennewitz Affair”. It’s a story that doesn’t necessarily point towards beings from another world, but rather the mix of deliberate disinformation on one hand and flat-out kookery on the other hand that may play a role in phenomena of Pizzagate and QAnon.
Adam Gorightly, author Saucers, Spooks, and Kooks: UFO Disinformation in the Age of Aquarius, and David Perkins, who wrote the forward to said book, join us on this edition of the program join us to unravel how disinformation campaign involving a special agent of United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and others participated in a disinformation campaign against Bennewitz after the enthusiastic UFO hobbyist began attracting unwanted attention to Kirtland Air Force Base.
The saga of Paul Bennewitz, as you’ll learn in this conversation, ended in tragedy. More precisely, Bennewitz was driven off a psychological cliff into madness that culminated in instiutionalization. But the story doesn’t end there. As it turns out the fanciful stories fed to Bennewitz about malevolent extraterrestrial, government deals with an alien presence and it’s cover-up, an underground base at Dulce, New Mexico, and more formed the foundation of modern UFO mythology, from cattle mutilations to Area 51, in its most conspiratorially-minded form (which, incidentally, often overlap a great deal with far-right wing “Patriot” and militia movements). Regardless of whether one believes in UFOs or not, what makes the Bennewitz Affair and the late 20th UFO Conspiracy subculture potentially interesting today is what it may be able to tell us about disinformation and the current crop of conspiracy theories like QAnon in the 21st century. All that and more on this edition of Parallax Views!