Saturday, September 28, 2002

UFO conference

Truth is out there, in Mason

        We are not alone, folks.

        Sharing our world are alien-implant investigators, weirdology editors and Congressional candidates running on UFO platforms. (As in ideas, not saucer-shaped heels.)

        Actually, there's only about one each of these people. But today, all will gather in the same place: Kings Island, for the 39th annual National UFO Conference.

        These are the folks who keep America safe from getting too skeptical. Turns out Ohio is fertile ground.

        Since "98, 517 UFO sightings have been reported in the Buckeye State, which is, on average, 102 more than in seven states of similar size. This according to statistics from the National UFO Reporting Center.

        The conference has been held more times in Ohio than any place else. Co-founder James Moseley says Ohio always has had more UFO groups than other states its size.

        Of course, these include the Roundtown UFO Society, which consists of two people in Circleville. But still.

        “It's sort of Middle America,” Mr. Moseley says. “Maybe people have nothing better to do.”

        He lives in Key West, Fla., so he must have some other excuse.

Mysterious events

        This year's conference organizer is Kenny Young of Florence. Mr. Young, 35, spends his free time investigating suspicious happenings.

        For instance, on Feb. 2 a “chevron-shaped” object was supposedly seen over the Ohio River near Maysville. After many calls, Mr. Young finally spoke with a guard at the East Bend power plant who indeed recorded said object in his log. The officer couldn't tell what it was. Mr. Young tried to find other witnesses through a classified ad, but the Maysville paper wouldn't print it.

        Mr. Young usually uncovers ordinary explanations for UFOs, which he documents on his Web site,

        “It's not a matter of belief,” he says. “It's a matter of investigative curiosity.”

        He caught the bug as a first-grader in 1973, one of the glory years for seeing things. Back in the '50s and '70s, UFOs were even considered newsworthy.

        Now it's all another X-Files rerun. “Abductees” know exactly how they're supposed to say the aliens look, and crop circles have become absurdly complex.

        “There's something naive and nostalgic about it in the early days,” says Lance Moody, a Mason skeptic who follows the UFO community.

        If he can squeeze it in between his kids' soccer games, Mr. Moody will stop by Kings Island today to hear the odds of alien invasion.

        Speakers include Stephen Bassett of Maryland, the Congressional candidate who wants to stop government cover-ups.

        Others will be more skeptical, addressing hoaxes and scientific findings about life on other planets.

        Mr. Young welcomes anyone with a little curiosity about the universe. That's what we've lost, he says — not gullibility so much as the simple pleasure of gazing skyward.

        E-mail or call (859) 578-5584.



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