Military Monsters In Alien Costumes

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Biographical details on Martin Cannon are sparse, but some details of his life can be inferred from his online writing. Whilst the field of conspiracy theory is often skewed to the political right, there’s no monopoly on the field and Cannon had little use for right-wing scaremongering about harmless occult eccentrics, and was eager to call out racist, homophobic, and other abuses by those in power such as COINTELPRO. His primary concern seems to have been authoritarian abuses by government forces, particularly in relation to scandals such as MKULTRA, and he was quick to point out links between fringe groups and political extremists, or the bigoted motivations of less-than-ethical psychiatric researchers of yesteryear.

What seems to have most characterised his work, however, was his willingness to go against the grain even within the contrarian world of conspiracy speculation. This is most evident in his most substantial publication – the monograph The Controllers, widely available online, which like Project Beta manages to hit a Very Specific Level of Scepticism.

Cannon’s theory is as follows: alien abduction is not a thing, but at least a portion of alien abductees have actually experienced something real. Specifically, they’ve been subjected to dubious mind control experiments by the government, with their recollections of alien abduction (either directly recalled or recovered via hypnosis) being implanted memories intended to cover up the awful truth.

Continue reading “Military Monsters In Alien Costumes”

All My Friends Know the Pale Rider…

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Milton William Cooper basically told the same story ever since he made his first big public splash in 1988. The story went like this: as part of an accomplished military career which saw him serving in Vietnam, Cooper eventually found his way into the Office of Naval Intelligence, in a post under Admiral Clarey. Bored out of his skull and frustrated with the massive discrepancies between the stories he saw Nixon and Kissinger telling the American people on the news and the activities he knew to be going on in Southeast Asia as part of the overspill of Vietnam into Cambodia and Laos, he eventually started peeking at top secret documents which, whilst not strictly intended for his eyes, happened to be in the filing cabinets in his office. These documents revealed a hidden story of astonishing conspiracy against the American Republic and the wholesale subversion of its Constitution.

The problem was that what Cooper claimed was actually in those documents kept changing. When he first started making his claims, they were generally in support of the Majestic-12 conspiracy theory and the documents received by UFO researchers Jamie Shandera, William Moore and Stanton Friedman. Then, when the credibility of those documents started looking shaky, Cooper claimed that the documents he’d seen in the Navy substantiated this – that the leaked documents were part of a damage limitation plan by the real Majestic-12 to send potential investigators down blind alleys should they get too close – but he stuck with his claims of UFO conspiracies and secret pacts with hostile alien races, claiming that he’d seen in the filing cabinets copies of the legendary O.H. Krill papers (named after the alleged alien ambassador to Earth).

Continue reading “All My Friends Know the Pale Rider…”

An Influential Delusion

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Mike Jay’s recently-reissued The Influencing Machine (previously known as The Air Loom Gang, known in the US as A Visionary Madness) is difficult to categorise. For the most part, it is centred on the incredible figure of James Tilly Matthews, perhaps the most famous of the many inmates of the Royal Bethlehem Hospital from back in the bad old “Bedlam” days. Matthews is notable mostly because he was the subject of Illustrations of Madness, an account by Bedlam’s resident apothecary John Haslam of Matthews’ case. Illustrations vividly describes Matthews’ delusions concerning the Air Loom, a mind control device operating on magnetic and pneumatic principles operated by a sinister gang populated by such colourful characters as The Middleman, Bill the King, and the Glove Woman.

The account remains regularly cited in psychological and psychiatric literature for two reasons: firstly, it is one of the first academic accounts of a case which could, if you squint at it in the right light, be something along the lines of what we call paranoid schizophrenia in the modern day. Secondly, it is the earliest known instance of a delusional patient claiming that their behaviour is being controlled by what is these days referred to as an “influencing machine” – rather than being possessed or controlled by demons or angels or other supernatural agents, Matthews seems to have been one of the first people in modern history to believe that they were under the control of a scientific device. Mind control implants and rays operated by intelligence agencies, the military, secret societies, or aliens are now widely cited; you can find plenty of people claiming to be victims of such things, many of whom aren’t confined to mental hospitals.

Continue reading “An Influential Delusion”