John Keel

John Alva Keel (born Alva John Kiehle March 25, 1930) is a Fortean author and professional journalist currently residing in New York City, New York, USA.

John Keel's first published story was in a magician's magazine at the age of 12. He later moved to Greenwich Village and wrote for various magazines. His first published book was Jadoo in 1957 that was serialised in a men's adventure magazine. The book is his account of his travels to India to investigate the alleged activities of fakirs and holy men who perform the Indian rope trick and who survive being buried alive.

John Keel is arguably one of the most widely read and influential ufologists since the early 1970s. Although his own thoughts about UFOs and associated anomalous phenomena have gradually evolved since the mid 1960s, Keel remains one of ufology's most original and controversial researchers. It was Keel's second book, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse (1970), that alerted the general public that many aspects of contemporary UFO reports, including humanoid encounters, often paralleled certain ancient folklore and religious encounters. Keel also argues that there is a direct relationship between UFOs and psychic phenomena. He says he does not call himself a ufologist and prefers the term Fortean which encompasses a wide range of paranormal subjects.

Influenced by writers such as Charles Fort, Ivan Sanderson, and Aimé Michel, in early 1966, John Keel commenced a full-time investigation of UFOs and paranormal phenomena. Over a four-year period, Keel interviewed thousands of people in over twenty U.S. states. More than 2,000 books were reviewed in the course of this investigation, in addition to thousands of magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Keel also subscribed to several newspaper-clipping services, which often generated up to 150 clippings for a single day during the 1966 and 1967 UFO "wave". Keel wrote for several magazines including Saga with one 1967 article UFO Agents of Terror referring to the Men in Black.

Like contemporary 1960s researchers such as J. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallée, Keel was initially hopeful that he could somehow validate the prevailing extraterrestrial visitation hypothesis. However, after one year of investigations, Keel realised that the extraterrestrial hypothesis was untenable. Indeed, both Hynek and Vallée eventually arrived at a similar conclusion.

As Keel himself wrote,

"I abandoned the extraterrestrial hypothesis in 1967 when my own field investigations disclosed an astonishing overlap between psychic phenomena and UFOs… The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs."

In UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse Keel argues that a non-human or spiritual intelligence source has staged whole events over a long period of time in order to propagate and reinforce certain erroneous belief systems. For example, the fairy faith in Middle Europe, vampire legends, mystery airships in 1897, mystery aeroplanes of the 1930s, mystery helicopters, anomalous creature sightings, poltergeist phenomena, balls of light, and UFOs. Keel conjectures that ultimately all of these anomalies are a cover for the real phenomenon.

In Our Haunted Planet, Keel coins the term "Ultraterrestrials" to describe the UFO occupants. He discusses the seldom-considered possibility that the alien "visitors" to Earth are not visitors at all, but an advanced Earth civilization, which may or may not be human.

Keel takes no position on the ultimate purpose of the phenomenon other than that the UFO intelligence seems to have a long-standing interest in interacting with the human race.

In 1976, Keel published The Mothman Prophecies, an account of his 1966-1967 investigation of sightings of the Mothman, a strange winged creature reported in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

The book was loosely adapted into a 2002 movie, starring Richard Gere and Alan Bates, who played two parts of Keel's personality. Bates's character was "Leek," which was "Keel" spelled backwards, and Gere's character was a newspaperman, "John Klein," also a play on Keel's name.

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