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Travels on the Extraterrestrial Highway

Psychic Vibrations

Robert Sheaffer

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 20.5, September / October 1996

The State of Nevada appears to have pulled off another minor miracle, transforming a barren stretch of desert road into a major tourist destination. In this column (Spring 1992, 250) you were among the first to read of the tall tales surrounding the supposedly mysterious "Area 51,” where UFOs galore could allegedly be seen by anyone who took the trouble to drive out near the tiny hamlet of Rachel along barren State Highway 375. This road is now officially designated the Extraterrestrial Highway by proclamation of Governor Bob Miller, who spoke at a brief ceremony April 18, 1996, and its speed limit is now posted as “Warp 7.” Another sign warns of alien encounters “next 51 miles.” When I drove that road in July of 1992, stopping off for lunch at the Little A'Le' Inn, the only evidence of space visitors were the drawings and blurry photos plastered all over the walls. Leaving Rachel for Tonopah, there was a sign reading “Next Gas 97 Miles,” so I doubled back to buy a few more gallons just to be safe.

I suspect that sign will be coming down soon, if it hasn't already. Twentieth-Century Fox sent from Hollywood a whole convoy of movie stars, reporters, and film moguls to a ceremony in te hamlet of Rachel to promote its new blockbuster, Independence Day, a film about aliens attacking the earth.A base supposedly beneath Area 51 plays a key role in the movie. The studio is also planning to unveil a “monumnt” along the Extraterrestrial Highway intended to “serve as a beacon for possible 'close encounters'with visitors arriving from the far reaches of outer space,” according to its press release.

While the local UFO hucksters were doing a brisker business than ever, not everybody in the UFOlogical realm was cheering. Area 51 promoter Glenn Campbell, who publishes a newsletter called The Desert Rat, warns that “the state is setting up naive tourists for arrest & film seizure along the tense & poorly marked military border near the highway,” and he does have a valid point, as the guards who patrol the perimeter of the high-security Air Force test range take a dim view of the cat-and-mouse games being played by amateur intelligence-gathers. Campbell also points out that Twentieth-Century Fox’s "UFO monument,” whatever it may be, seems to have completely circumvented the normal process of permits and approvals, as state and federal agencies have nothing on file about it, which would seem to preclude anything being constructed. However, Chuck Clark of Rachel, author of the rival Area 51 Handbook, suggests that Campbell may be “a government plant” sent to confuse people. Perhaps giving expression to this discontent, certain pranksters "abducted” the studio’s Las Vegas-to-Rachel caravan by posting official-looking signs for the “Extraterrestrial Highway,” sending them miles out of their way on a wild UFO chase down dusty desert roads, bypassing the paved state highway. Campbell reports that at least forty cars and one tour bus were thus “abducted” to the edge of the high-security area before arriving, covered with dust, at the planned extraterrestrial rendezvous.

All the excitement over the new Extraterrestrial Highway has obscured the most exciting development on which Campbell has yet reported: extraterrestrial linguistics. An anonymous earthling who uses the alias "Jarod 2” (pronounced Jay-rod) claims to have conversed briefly with his original namesake, an extraterrestrial now in residence at Area 51. This Jarod (the original) is reputed to be a consultant-alien, one of several who are advising the U.S. government on how to reproduce their flying saucers. That one or more extraterrestrials are now resident at that site is not news. Several years ago, John Lear claimed that aliens had violated their treaty with earthlings, resulting in humans at Area 51 being eaten by aliens. Bob Lazar later told a story of a battle being waged by earthly bullets against ET Ray Guns (this column, Fall 1993, 23). However, nothing had previously been reported about the extraterrestrials’ language.

Recently, Jarod 2 asked a group of UFOlogists, “What is the most difficult language on earth to learn?” When somebody piped up and said “Hungarian” (I have no idea whether this is true or not), Jarod 2 said that was right, and claimed that the ETs speak Hungarian — actually, “a higher form of Hungarian.” Or so he claimed to have been told by his supervisor at Area 51. Further evidence of this is that the extraterrestrials speak English words in Hungarian word-order during their terse conversations. “This is something we never ex-pected,” Campbell observes wryly. “The aliens can talk to Zsa Zsa Gabor! But it’s a HIGHER FORM of Hungarian, so maybe they can talk to Eva Gabor now that she has passed on.” Jarod 2 claims that the Area 51 project employed many skilled human linguists, but all of them were stumped trying to figure out this higher form of Hungarian. Campbell observes that he had previously suggested that “prudent investors consider boron as a possible growth commodity, since it is one product that Jarod says the aliens take from Earth. Now we suggest ambitious college students consider the benefits of Hungarian. Take a few introductory classes, and when the aliens reveal themselves you'll be way ahead of everyone else.” Apparently eager to place himself at the head of that queue, Campbell recently traveled to Budapest, describing his trip in Desert Rat. While contemporary Hungary is indeed in a state of UFO excitement, Campbell found nothing that would directly confirm or refute Jarod 2’s statements.

Other interesting tidbits from Jarod 2: The aliens keep clean by taking a "bug bath” (actually, a microbe shower). They enter a shower stall where microbes are sprayed onto the alien’s skin, and “the good bacteria eat the bad bacteria,” as he explains. The aliens do not eat as we do, but they apparently do drink liquids.

Everyone knows that Uri Geller’s psychic powers can supposedly bend spoons, but it seems that the task of psychically deflecting footballs has proven much more difficult. The British newspaper The Independent reported on April 2 that “Mr. Geller has forsaken [psychic] espionage and fork-bending to try to help his local football team, Reading FC. After all, if you can bend forks, you can bend free kicks. Last season he concentrated all his powers by walking 48 miles to Wembley to watch Reading in a play-off for promotion to the Premier League, but they lost to Bolton and missed a penalty to boot. And this season they're staring relegation in the face. What went wrong?” Mr. Geller answered the question in an interview in Q Magazine: “It’s going to be all right, I tell you. Don't give up hope. I might invite the players over to my home to give them a good surge of psychic energy. You have to do that sometimes because we only use 10 percent of our minds.”

Nonetheless, not only did the season go badly for Reading, but the team’s mascot, a hamster named Miss Ellie, died. It was given a fitting burial in one of the goalmouths. However, no sooner was Miss Ellie at rest than the team’s fortunes immediately turned around, starting with a 3-0 victory over a local rival which saved the team from relegation. More remarkably, goals are said to come particularly freely at Miss Ellie’s end of the field, and many members of the team are convinced that they are receiving supernatural assistance from the dead hamster, and not Uri Geller. James “The Amazing” Randi, who has been debunking Geller’s claims for years, writes, “I trust that Mr. Geller will act in a chivalrous manner, and will resist claiming that his powers, working over a period of several months, and not Miss Ellie’s, achieved this small wonder. Respect for the dead would seem to be called for here, and I, for one, will not cast doubt upon the ability of a dead rodent to lead a football team to victory.”

In the final chapter of the saga of psychic football, the Reading Evening Post reported on June 29 that “Uri Geller says England would be in the Euro '96 final if police had not stopped him from standing behind the goal. The Sonning psychic was about to move into position to 'beam' Gareth Southgate’s penalty into the net when Met Police officers barred him.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said, “our officers would not have wanted to do anything that would have stopped England winning, but security had to be the first priority.” They should have used a dead hamster.

Robert Sheaffer

Robert Sheaffer's "Psychic Vibrations" column has appeared in the Skeptical Inquirer for the past thirty years. He is also author of UFO Sightings: The Evidence (Prometheus 1998). He blogs at