It's no news that Asheville is a tourist destination. But maybe the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Development Authority haven't set their sights high enough.
Dr. Steven Greer, a former Biltmore Forest resident who worked as an emergency-room physician here years ago, is utterly convinced that off-worlders have been racking up frequent-flier miles (or parsecs -- a measure of interstellar distance equal to 1.918 x 1013 miles, or 3.258 light-years) while visiting Earth -- perhaps for centuries.
Greer is returning to Asheville as part of a national tour promoting his latest book, Hidden Truth, Forbidden Knowledge: It is Time for You to Know (self-published, 2006). He'll give a talk Wednesday, May 17, in UNCA's Lipinsky Hall at 7:30 p.m.
Like many UFO enthusiasts, Greer believes an alien craft crashed in Roswell, N.M., in 1947 and was recovered by the U.S. government, and that there have been enough such recoveries that scientists in secret laboratories have duplicated flying-saucer technology. But a black-box cabal of powerful greed-heads is keeping the information about essentially free energy from the rest of us in order to control the earth (and preserve oil profits), he says. John Kennedy was killed because he planned to expose the whole plot, and G.H.W. Bush is in on the deal. Whew.
Greer also asserts that he's been for a ride in a flying saucer, can levitate groups of automobiles by meditating, and is in regular communication with the interplanetary tourist crowd.
Through the nonprofit Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which Greer founded in 1990, he leads trips to Crestone, Colo., and Mount Shasta, Calif., where participants are instructed in the protocols he says he's developed for making contact with extraterrestrials. Another Greer project, Space Energy Access Systems, was founded in 2001 to explore "zero-point energy" devices, which he says "use the energy in the space around them."
A tale of two ufologists
Scientist, writer, mystic and showman Carl Sagan, who died in 1996, was also a devout ET believer. But Sagan, widely known as both a serious astronomer and a science popularizer, felt that intergalactic travel -- whether by extraterrestrials or humans -- would inevitably entail an expenditure of time and energy that couldn't possibly be justified by any potential benefits. Time and again, Sagan would explain in articles or on his Cosmos television series that there are billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, in an apparently expanding universe. And while we call this "the universe," there's no way of knowing if it is, in fact, the only such.
Sagan also argued that given the propensity of matter to coalesce and self-organize as life, there must be billions of inhabited planets out there somewhere. So there's no way that anybody clever enough to invent space travel would choose to waste their time visiting every inhabited planet to check out local culture. Repeat visits would be out of the question, Sagan argued.
Greer, however, takes a contrary view. An articulate spokesman, he spins a seamless tale of intrigue and skullduggery -- backed up, he says, by the thousands of photographs of unexplained phenomena and thousands of pages of testimony from fellow believers that he's compiled. But try to pin down specifics and you run into trouble.
In what the author calls the "nuts and bolts" chapters of his manuscript (which were forwarded to this writer for review), for example, he cites an impressive list of insiders on his team: Laurance Rockefeller, former Ambassador Maxwell Rabb, astronaut Gordon Cooper and former Nevada Sen. Richard H. Bryan. But UFOs aside, one thing all these people have in common is that all of them are dead. Meanwhile, a whole host of generals, CIA operatives, aides to congressional reps and presidents, and corporate movers and shakers on which so much of Greer's tale rests are identified only by initials or titles.
Asked about this, Greer told Xpress that despite his book's title, it's really a memoir, rather than a source of specific information about ETs, UFOs and so forth. Accordingly, he referred this reporter to an earlier book of his, Disclosure (self-published, 2001), which contains upward of 550 pages of anecdotal testimony from people who have seen things.
Asked if any witnesses had offered tangible proof -- UFO parts or even blueprints -- Greer affirmed that there are plans reproduced in Disclosure. Asked if the plans had been evaluated by independent engineers who might testify to their feasibility, Greer said: "They aren't that kind of blueprints. They aren't actual plans."
This reporter last interviewed Greer before an earlier Lipinsky Hall appearance ("Hey Mr. Spaceman," Nov. 23, 1994 Xpress). At the time, he maintained that the Clinton administration was on the verge of going public with the news that the U.S. was in touch with beings from beyond. This, Greer declared, would definitely be revealed within the next 12-18 months.
Asked what happened in that case, Greer said flatly, "Clinton lost his nerve."
In Hidden Truth, Greer suggests that Presidents Eisenhower, Carter and Clinton were all made to feel such fear for their lives that they refused to divulge what they knew to be true. Reagan, says Greer, was simply oblivious, and both Nixon and Bush Sr. were complicit in the evil cartel that holds the goods.
"In the case of Bill Clinton," Greer writes, "he very much wanted to see this happen but didn't have the courage to do it. His legacy was basically lost, because it was his responsibility, as the first full-term president after the close of the Cold War era, to have done this. He didn't rise to the challenge."
A "major New York paper," says Greer, was set to run a story about his own "briefings for the White House and CIA director on UFOs." But fate intervened. "The very day they were going to run that story, Linda Tripp emerged with her stories about Monica Lewinsky. This was not an accident or a coincidence."
Invasion of the body snatchers?
The plot, says Greer, transcends national borders. United Nations Secretaries-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and Boutros Boutros-Ghali were both ousted from that post because they planned to spill the beans, and de Cuellar was the subject of a fake alien abduction orchestrated by members of the secret government that is running the world.
The U.N. head honchos are not alone in that regard, notes Greer: Many, if not most of the notorious body snatchings/probings/diddlings regularly reported in the tabloid news are actually the work of that cabal.
ETs aside, Greer claims to have spent time with some pretty high fliers right here on Earth. He reports a several-hour tete-a-tete with former CIA Director James Woolsey, whom Greer says tried to get Clinton to go public. More recently, Woolsey was a member of the influential -- and controversial -- Project for the New American Century.
Greer also mentions meetings with "a senior general at the Pentagon," "Sen. Byrd's chief investigator," "someone who had been tied into these projects in the military in Arizona," "a former head of Army intelligence," and "some very good friends of Prince Charles and Prince Philip." Clearly, this is one busy guy.
As a former physician, however, Greer must be aware of what a messy business assassination can be, and he seems to believe he's putting himself on the line. "Some of the people working with us would sell out to a cell within the Shadow Government that interfaces with the civilian UFO community that's headed up by Col. M.K., Gen. T.E., W.B. (a very wealthy Nevada businessman) and others," Greer writes.
Like most conspiracy theories, this one seems likely to attract its share of supporters and debunkers -- and unlikely to be rationally resolved anytime soon. Still and all, as Sagan wrote about extraterrestrial intelligence at the end of his novel, Contact:
"The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle -- another circle, drawn kilometers downstream of the decimal point. It doesn't matter what you look like, or what you're made of, or where you come from. As long as you live in this universe, and have a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you'll find it. It's already here. It's inside everything. You don't have to leave your planet to find it."