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The Albert Bender Mystery

"As if he had been loosed out of hell to speak of horrors..."

~Hamlet, Act II, Scene 1

In the vaguest terms Albert K. Bender, a UFO enthusiast from the early 50s, and I have a lot in common. We both started our own publications; I have this column, and he had a magazine called Space Review. We both claim to know the truth about UFOs, but this is about where the similarity ends. I keep talking; he was scared, temporarily, into falling silent.

In 1952 Bender launched a group called the International Flying Saucer Bureau. Since the 1950s, UFO enthusiasts have tried to play up its importance, claiming that the group had dozens of scientists and engineers actively involved in investigating cases, with members in every state and several countries, but it actually only had a few hundred subscribers. In 1953 Bender claimed that he had made a number of important discoveries, and that he had arrived at a comprehensive understanding of the UFO phenomenon on earth: why they were here, what they wanted, where they came from, and so on. All of these secrets were to be published in the October issue.

So what was h big secret? No one knows. Instead of the much-hyped secret information being published, Bender wrote this rather cryptic statement:

“The mystery of the flying saucers is no longer a mystery. The source is already known, but any information about this is being withheld by order from a higher source. We would like to print the full story in Space Review, but because of the nature of the information we are very sorry that we have been advised in the negative."

He ended it by warning UFO researchers to be careful. Shortly after this issue, Bender dissolved the IFSB and ceased publication of Space Review. No one could get him to explain his reasoning, until he revealed in an interview that he had been visited by three mysterious Men in Black who confirmed that he was right about his conclusions, gave him further information, and then warned him not to publish the article. Apparently, they scared the living hell out of him, and he found it difficult to eat or sleep for days afterwards. His friends stated that he was a changed man; it was as though he had “been lobotomized.”

Apparently, the mysterious trio didn’t scare him too badly, because a decade later he wrote a book about his experiences called “Flying Saucers and the Three Men in Black.” These days you can find most of the book on the internet, but take my advice and don’t. It’s almost completely unreadable. I made it about halfway through the book, and then I actually vomited through my eyes. True story.

Bender reveals in the book why he was so terrified of the three Men. They were dressed identically in black suits, ties, gloves, shoes, and white shirts, and they were constantly surrounded by a light blue glow. At one point, he wondered if this blue glow was the reason that the three men stink of sulfur. Their eyes glowed like tiny light bulbs, and they were intimidating to the extreme.

The reason that they scared him so badly is that one day he decided to take his mind off of UFOs by going to see a movie. As he sat in the nearly empty theatre, a giant hideous monster appeared out of thin air next to him. This shape then turned into one of the Men in Black, who then disappeared. Yeah, that would have scared me too.

Apparently, the Men in Black don’t know how to keep secrets very well, because they took Bender to their secret UFO base in the arctic, where he was taken on a tour of laboratories, hangers, and so on. There he met a being he called the Exalted One, a 9-foot tall “bisexual.” I assume this means that the thing was of both genders, not that he was, you know, into kinky sex.

The Exalted One told him, apparently, that the reasons that UFOs were on earth was because they needed to take water from our many seas and oceans. Being nice guys, they return everything they don’t need to use by dropping it out of UFOs into the oceans. He also let Bender ask him a number of questions about the presence of UFOs on earth, the nature of the universe, and so on. This is where the story takes an unexpected turn for the awesome.

The majority of the evidence that we have for the existence of UFOs comes from witnesses. Too many “credible witnesses”, the theory goes, are coming forward describing similar encounters for these encounters to be anything but true. Therefore, we must believe in the veracity of credible witnesses.

Albert Bender, who is just as reliable a witness as anyone else, claims that the Exalted One told him UFOs had never visited earth before the year 1945, and that they were only going to stay until 1960, when they would have gathered enough water to suit their nefarious purposes. Therefore, according to this reliable witness, all accounts of UFO sightings before 1945 or after 1960 must be incorrect.

So what now, UFO enthusiasts? Either Albert Bender was right and UFOs no longer visit the earth, making everyone else who has reported encounters with UFOs wrong, or this ‘credible witness’ was wrong. And if one credible witness is wrong, what’s to say that others are not wrong? Is this the kicking in of the door that will make your whole rotten structure of conspiracy theories, psuedoscience, and mumbo-jumbo collapse?

Obviously, this paradox isn’t 100% bulletproof. It's just hyperbole to show that you cannot, and must not, accept the testimony of witness as completely true just because you have no reason to suspect they are lying. If you believe every witness that claims involvement with aliens, as so many UFO enthusiasts are wont to do, you’re going to be in for one hell of a logical headache. Albert Bender is a reliable witness, and his testimony stands in utter opposition to the testimony of other reliable witnesses. Who is right? Who is wrong?

Personally, I think Albert Bender was full of baloney. Despite the fact that when he closed the IFSB he returned all of the outstanding subscription money that was owed to readers, his organization and publication were still losing money. This story was the perfect way to save face. Second, for a guy that was supposedly scared into silence, he did a whole lot of talking about what had happened to him.

Third, in his book the portions I was able to stomach reading seem lifted straight out of the UFO folklore of the early fifties. The aliens were afraid to openly contact mankind because they were afraid of nuclear weapons, a hallmark of the Contactee movement; aliens were abducting people to put in zoos on their homeworld, a hallmark of comic books and pulp novels from the 30s, 40s, and 50s; he was told that life had existed on Mars, but all that remained were gigantic, ruined cities and vast canals and waterways, a theory made incredibly popular in such books as War of the Worlds; finally, he claims that gasoline-powered vehicles are the cause of cancer, which I can’t really think of a cause for, but in light of current medical knowledge, it seems that either our doctors are not as advanced as they would think, or that the Enlightened One knows surprisingly little about genetics.

Alfred Bender has created a number of problems for the modern world. His experience is generally regarded as the first involving the so-called Men In Black, and if this particular slice of UFO mythology is his creation, I hope he hears the sarcasm in my thanks. On the other hand, he has also introduced a particular stumbling block for the UFO community and their reliance on credible witnesses, which is probably the exact opposite of anything he was trying to do. In any event, the “Albert Bender Mystery” is a mystery only in the minds of the naïve.

Be seeing you.

First Published in The Triangle, 3 March 2006.