In my previous post I presented a witness from Ariel who claims UFOs and aliens did not land at the school on Sep 16, 1994. Any testimony should be open to criticism, but to anyone criticizing Dallyn's story I ask they do the same of the other witness testimonies from that event.
Here I present a critique of witness Emma's testimony - her changing stories cannot be reconciled, therefore at least some versions must be false or distorted. I do not believe she's lying now, or ever lied. The fact is, our memories do change over time, even from one day to the next. We absorb others' stories as our own. False memories are created. Yet the now-adult witnesses from Ariel (at least the ones speaking up) have not shown any awareness, to my knowledge, of this simple proven fact of human psychology.
"I know what I saw."
"I was there, you were not."
...But they weren't really there. Their childhood selves were there. And psychological studies on (false) memory and (mis)perception - not to mention countless examples in the field of ufology - have proven that sometimes: No, you don't know what you saw.
Only saw a glimpse
The Ariel sighting was on a Friday. Three days later, following a weekend of socializing with each other and watching sci-fi on TV and being exposed to the buzz surrounding the UFO seen over several African countries (thought to be a meteor shower, later a Russian satellite rocket re-entry) children were asked to draw what they'd seen. This is what Emma drew.
The next day, Tuesday, MUFON investigator Cynthia Hind requested to interview Emma (with a BBC camera rolling):
"because your drawing was particularly interesting - they have asked me about it. In your drawing you’ve got not only the main object there but you’ve got several others."
"They" refers to John Spencer, director of BUFORA - he'd been faxed the pictures on Monday. This is one of several times where Hind tells the children or head (Colin Mackie) that this sighting was something remarkable and of worldwide importance.
Emma's drawing shows one large ship and several smaller ones, and one alien with a black body and blank white face. From her interview with Hind:
Could you see his face?
Well, I only saw a glimpse of it.
And you don’t remember any individual features?
Well, I only remember that his eyes were quite big.
Eyes were big. And were you afraid?
I was a little afraid.
What did you think it was?
I don’t know, I just thought it was some kind of alien from a different planet.
It's curious that Emma did not draw big eyes on her alien, despite she and others reporting this feature. Even more curious because later these eyes will become its defining characteristic for her, holding her captive and transmitting a telepathic message.
Outside, Emma points out where she saw the UFO. Here, as during the interview, she never mentions coming close to any craft or to any aliens/beings/people/men. Nor does any child report seeing any children getting close to the aliens.
Dr John Mack visits the school 2.5 months after the event and interviews Emma. By this time, the children have been interviewed (in large groups) twice by TV reporters, and the alien's large eyes have become firmly established as part of the consensus story. Emma draws a figure with big eyes for Mack, and gives this physical description:
"I saw this person and it had big eyes. That's all I saw about it. Big eyes and a black body."
In his book, Mack quotes Emma: "The eyes didn't have any pupils or color." [Mack, Passport to the Cosmos (1999), p. 280] Like Hind, there is evidence he misreported quotes when compared to the footage, and her drawing for him does show irises/pupils.
Mack also reports she says the alien was 3-4 yards away, which she did not report at the time even while outside pointing to where the sighting took place, but I've not seen footage of this part of Mack's interview so we don't know the context of his question. [Mack, p. 280]
It doesn't seem plausible that Emma came so close to the person. Her drawing indicates it was in the distance. She pointed to the distance. She said she only "saw a glimpse" of its face, contrary to what you'd expect if she saw it up close. No other children report it came close. It's possible either that Mack asked her how close she was and she produced an exaggerated answer to satisfy him that her encounter was worthy of his time, or that the experience had become exaggerated in her mind during the intervening 2.5 months.
Emma has done several interviews as an adult. For Encounters (2023 on Netflix, ep. 2) she revisits the school and indicates her distance to the alien by taking 8 paces (approximately the 3-4 yards she reportedly told Mack, but did not tell Hind), stating: "no further than this far away, where you can see details." Yet she explicitly did not see details as a child, other than the big eyes that other children reported seeing at a great distance. See what tricks our visual memories play on us?
Again, no other child reported seeing Emma get this close... except her friend Salma.
Salma has also done many interviews and appearances as an adult. Her story is that she was holding Emma's hand when they saw the UFO. In 1994, two weeks after the event, she said she was one meter from the alien. As an adult she has been consistent in describing this distance: "maybe about three to four feet away from me". [Salma on Podcast UFO, Oct 19, 2017]
One yard is rather a different beast than 3-4 yards. These girls were holding hands yet one saw the alien 8 paces away while the other saw it intruding into her personal space. This would create a dramatically different experience. As adults the women do not attempt to explain the contradiction, and no one has ever offered a non-magical reason for this close encounter going unreported by other children.
I want you
Four days after the event, Emma did not report any communication from the alien or any mesmerizing effect from its eyes. She did not even draw eyes on her alien and only "saw a glimpse" of its face.
Two weeks after the event, Emma tells Nicole Carter (SABC) about the multiple ships and how they disappeared, but if she did also say anything about an alien standing in front of her transmitting telepathic messages, this remarkable and exciting information was cut from the report.
Two-and-a-half months after the event, in her interview with Mack, you can watch her story evolving in real time as he prompts and she adapts to please him. (Note the full interviews and transcripts have not been released by the John E Mack Institute and this is unlikely to happen for years, if at all. We therefore can't see the true extent of how Mack manipulated his young interviewees, but the snippets we do have make it obvious enough.)
Emma starts with her emotional reaction to the alien – she’s excited, scared, and happy about seeing something new. She draws its eyes and Mack then requires her to link those emotions to the eyes:
"What was the effect to be looking at these eyes or have these eyes looking at you? How did that affect you?"
Instead of telling Mack about the telepathic message that, as an adult, she says "came across over into my being" as an "overwhelming feeling of how important the environment is" [Encounters, 2023], 11-year-old Emma comes up with:
"his eyes looked at me as if, uh, I want you. And things like that."
In a stunning example of Mack's tendency to feed his subjects information, he responds by repeating her answer then adding to it:
"I want you. I want you in what - like I want you to come with me? Or I -"
Note that he's about to give her another option (a technique he's seen using elsewhere), which perhaps is how he convinces himself he's asking open-ended questions, but she interrupts by accepting his first option:
"Yeah. I want you to come with me. I want you to come."
Because the full interview is being withheld, we don't know what question from Mack finally elicits the following, now famous, response from Emma, but he paraphrases it in his book:
When I asked eleven-year-old Emma what she thought these "strange beings" (her words) wanted here, she said: “I think they want people to know that we’re actually making harm on this world and we mustn’t get too technowledged.” [Mack, p. 97]
Mack has simply asked her to speculate, just as, in his interview with Fungai, he asks: "What do you imagine...?" and we see Fungai having to search his imagination for the "correct" answer, a belated and rather half-hearted: "Pollution or something." [Video of Fungai's interview.] Asking someone to speculate or imagine is giving them permission to make up an answer. When you're a young student at a strict primary school, talking to a kindly and very important American, about an event that a matronly authoritative visitor told you is "the biggest story of the twentieth century", the pressure to perform well and please the adults must be overwhelming.
Today, Emma remembers this prompted speculation as an active telepathic-like communication about the evils of technology and the importance of the environment. I predict the full interview with Mack will show even more clearly how she was coerced into giving her "technowledged" response, which in turn created the false memory of a powerful telepathic connection with an alien who began as a distant "glimpse", turned into a close-encounter with mesmerizing eyes, and, as we'll see, even starts walking around in a weirdly alien way.
Fluid and flowy
Standing 4 yards from an alien being with mesmerizing eyes isn't an experience you'd forget. Indeed, Emma has never forgotten it - or rather, her current memory of the event is the one she believes is accurate, despite it being different from what she described at the time. For Ariel Phenomenon (2022, but filmed years earlier) she redrew her impression - her alien now has huge eyes (as a child they were "quite big" and not even drawn at first) and is standing right in front of her (not in the distance, like she drew as a child). The eyes have even taken on the solid black almond shape typical of Greys.
This isn't a case of deception. It's self-deception. Emma appears to truly believe she is describing with words and pictures what she experienced on the day. Unless she takes a deep dive into child psychology and the malleability of memory, and reassesses how she came to believe what she believes and why her story changed over the days, weeks, and years, it's unlikely she can be swayed from this self-deception.
Aside from the proximity of the alien and its telepathic message (both of which she added to her story later), another feature of the experience that should have been indelibly imprinted on her brain and reported as extraordinary is the unusual way the being (or beings) moved:
"There wasn’t any gravitational pull, it was very fluid, so when he was moving it was very fluid and flowy and it wasn’t kind of jerky." [Ariel Phenomenon, 2022]
Yet when Hind interviewed Emma four days after the incident, she made no mention of the alien moving, walking around, or walking without gravitational pull (or, of course, standing nearby). None of the children reported this on the Monday or Tuesday. Guy said the "man" "walked toward us and he walked back again". Nathaniel said: "We saw a black man running around." Evidently this man never approached close enough for the witnesses to definitively identify him as a regular human, which is why the children - at the time, or later - concluded he might be alien.
The first recorded mention of this odd walking behavior was two weeks later, where Claire tells Nicole Carter (SABC):
"We saw this black figure running in slow motion."
(As an adult, Claire adds to this description to create perhaps the most bizarre feature of the entire encounter, although nobody else reported it, where the figure keeps glitching to restart the run like a "replay in a football match" [Ariel Phenomenon, 2022]. I would suggest it's her memory that's glitching.)
While it's possible that, if the "aliens" were human, they were simply fooling around for the kids to give the impression of slow-motion movements, I think it's more likely this embellishment came about during those two weeks because some children conflated aliens with spacemen, and spacemen are known to walk in slow motion. Thus the idea starts, the rumor spreads, and the mythology grows.
Emma was also interviewed by Carter, but what aired only included her description of the ships. If she had anything to say about the aliens moving oddly, it wasn't considered important enough to leave in.
When interviewed by Mack 2.5 months later, Emma either again did not mention the alien's odd movements, or that part of interview has been cut from both the available footage and Mack's book.
Yet as an adult, Emma now has this fantastical memory that seems to be have been cribbed from Claire and it's no doubt as vivid as her other memories of the experience, so she believes it just as fervently. Because that's how human memory works: a memory changes each time we recall it, embellished (or diminished) by the circumstances under which it is being recalled.
As a final example of how Emma's adult memories have been distorted, in Encounters we see her walking in the exact spot where the UFO landed, even pacing out its size. The problem is, that's not where anyone has ever claimed the UFO landed.
Cynthia Hind, the first investigator on the scene, reported the landing site was 200 meters from the children. [Hind, UFOs Over Africa (1996), p. 222] The children described and drew it situated in tall grass and trees, well past the boundary logs beyond which they were not permitted to venture. Satellite maps from 2005 and 2023 show the layout of the school grounds, roads, and paths are not much changed. (I do not have a 1996 satellite map, but any changes to the school's fields do not impact the UFO site, which was even further away.)
Yet Emma stands in a sports playing field next to the playground and proclaims it to be the landing site, only 30 meters from where the children would've been standing at the logs (marked by the red square in the image above, via Gideon Reid).
She points towards the school buildings when describing where the alien was standing. This completely contradicts all witness testimony, including her own and Salma's that they were at the logs facing away from the school, towards the bush.
Did the producers of the show just not want to risk the snakes and scorpions, and so asked Emma to pretend she was in the right spot? Why would she go along with such a charade, adding bunk into her own story?
Or has she genuinely forgotten where the UFO was seen? Has everything about this event become magnified in her mind? The UFO landed much nearer. The alien stood much closer, its eyes bigger and blacker, its movements more alien, its purpose a generic telepathic message...
Uncovering the truth
These distortions and exaggerations, leading to the certainty of the false memories as an adult, are simply a normal aspect of human brain functioning - especially concerning unusual or incomprehensible childhood experiences. Emma pretty much explains for us how her adult self has altered her childhood memories - and we know her memories are altered because she never said any of this at the time:
"It was like this lake of calmness in his eyes. I was compelled to look at him."
"Time became very still and very bizarre."
"As soon as I looked away from him, all that’s when all of reality and everything that was happening came back too." [Ariel Phenomenon]
So, how does an adult come to believe that the false memories they've subconsciously created or absorbed are real? Emma explains this, too:
"as a protective mechanism, block it out, turn it off, don’t go back to it." [Ariel Phenomenon]
If you've blocked out childhood memories, anything you "uncover" later could be true, right? How would you even know, if you don't have the original memories for comparison?
It may be a vain hope, but I do hope that witnesses who've generate false memories of the Ariel event will self-reflect and explore how they came to believe what they believe, even while their childhood selves were saying something different, something surely closer to the truth.
I can also appreciate how hard this would be for witnesses who've been platformed internationally by filmmakers and podcasters who uncritically accept their stories as truth because it conforms to their narrative or gets more clicks. How do you speak out against the myth, when you were part of the machine that promoted it? How do you analyze your life-changing decades-old experience with an objective eye?
Often it's not possible to go back and sort through the pieces. Ariel gives us, and more importantly the witnesses, a unique opportunity. We have the footage. We know what the children said at the time. We can see how they were manipulated by well-meaning adults, and by each other, to adhere to a baseless story of alien visitation that has profoundly affected many of them to this day. All based on nothing.
I'm blogging about the Three-Dollar Kit.