The Ariel School, Zimbabwe UFO sighting - has it ever been debunked?

D

Deleted member 16321

Guest
Sometime in mid 2007, Nickerson, (an experiencer who was hypnotised by Budd Hopkins), was given Mack's interview footage by Dominique Callimanopulos, Mack's research assistant who went to Zimbabwe with him, and later became board member of the Mack Institute after Mack's death in 2004.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
I may have missed it, but one possibility doesn't yet seem to have been considered.

According to an article by Brian Dunning, the media in Zimbabwe were first alerted to the Ariel story by a phone call to the local radio station (ZBC Radio), which had actually been calling for 'UFO' stories in the week before.

This raises the possibility that the whole incident was the result of a deliberate prank or hoax. Local people (probably but not necessarily youngsters) may have dressed up in improvised 'alien' outfits to spook the school children, either just for fun, or in the hope of getting money from the media. Or some of the older kids at the school may have dressed up to spook the younger ones. This might explain why in some accounts the 'aliens' are about the same height as the older children. We may also note the suspicion of the tuck-shop lady that the kids were making it up.

But the latent conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the incident may even have been devised by the school itself, as a publicity stunt. This would help explain two otherwise suspicious features: the apparent eagerness of the school (or its head teacher) to co-operate with the media, and the convenient 'staff meeting' that coincided with the aliens landing.

Some previous posts (including mine) have assumed that publicity would be unwelcome to the school, on the grounds that schools generally, and private schools in particular, would want to shield their children from media intrusion. But is it possible that the school had reasons of its own for wanting publicity? It is conspicuous that most of the children at the school were white, even some 14 years after the establishment of black majority rule in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in 1980. But the white population was dwindling. Many white settlers emigrated after 1980, and according to the Wikipedia article on 'White Zimbabweans', the white population declined from 220,000 in 1980 to only 70,000 in 2000. Faced with a decline in its traditional demographic base, Ariel school may have been keen to attract a wider ethnic mix. (From its website pictures, the present-day school intake appears to be almost entirely black.) In this context a little media exposure may have been welcome, following the showbiz adage that 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'. Of course, the school may not have foreseen just how much publicity they would attract, but once that phone call had been made there was no turning back.

This is admittedly a far-fetched suggestion, but still not as far-fetched as tiny telepathic aliens.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
What evidence do you have to support this?

Brian Dunning's article says:

The demographics have changed; in 1994 the school was mostly white Zimbabweans of British and South African origin, today it's mostly black Zimbabweans. English is the language spoken in schools, so all the students — then as well as now — are perfectly fluent. Ariel was the most expensive private school around, and the students were generally from wealthy families in Harare who wanted to send their children someplace nicer than the crowded urban schools.

The Wikipedia article on 'Ariel School UFO incident says:

Most of the pupils were from wealthy white families in Harare
with supporting references. I must admit I haven't checked these.

It also seems consistent with the video footage of interviews, etc, which show a clear majority of white children. Some footage from the school that I've seen does show a substantial proportion (but still a minority) of black children, but this may have been taken in later years when the proportion had increased.

I was also struck by a quote from one of the children who said (as I recall the gist of it) that the 'aliens' had hair 'like ours, not African'.

Against this, another article quotes Cynthia Hind as saying the children were

a cross-section of Zimbabweans: black African children from several tribes, coloured children (a cross-breeding of black and white), Asian children (whose grandparents were from India) and white children, mostly Zimbabwean-born, but whose parents were either from South Africa or Britain
But Hind had an agenda to emphasise that these were unsophisticated rural children. She is also quoted (In Dunning's article) as saying

Well, a lot of these children don't go to the movies. They live in the country. Parents are farmers.
So there is some conflict of evidence.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Sometime in mid 2007, Nickerson, (an experiencer who was hypnotised by Budd Hopkins), was given Mack's interview footage by Dominique Callimanopulos, Mack's research assistant who went to Zimbabwe with him, and later became board member of the Mack Institute after Mack's death in 2004.
do you have a source for this?
 
D

Deleted member 16321

Guest
Callimanopulos approached Nickerson, an independent filmmaker in New York who was a friend of Mack and who was dating her sister.

Randy Nickerson did not run away when he was approached two years ago by Dominique Callimanopulos, a Cambridge board member of the John E. Mack Institute

Mack took off for Southern Africa, accompanied by Callimanopulos, who was his research assistant
The Budd Hopkins part is from

A Harvard Doctor Offers Trauma Relief For UFO `Abductees' --- Extraterrestrials Play Rough, So There Are Many Injuries For John E. Mack to Heal
Wall St Journal, 14 May 2002
During a meeting of an abductee support group at Mr. Hopkins's Manhattan studio, Mr. Nickerson is undergoing hypnosis...
...Mr. Hopkins draws him out of the hypnotic state. Mr. Nickerson awakens with tears in his eyes.
 
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jackfrostvc

Senior Member
Nickerson knew John Mack because Nickerson and his sisters abduction stories were looked at by John Mack, from before the Ariel event. They were even on Oprah together: Mack, Nickerson and his sister on 18 Apr 1994
 
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Ulrich

Member
why? he's not a source he is a documentary maker.

That is a secondary source.
but Hind, Hesemann and Mack were big time UFO believers. i can absoultely see them not including stories of the littlest ones (esp Mack he is supposed to be a child psychiatrist for GOds sake and he already had Harvard threatening to fire him before this incident), but they absolutely would have said "80 or more children saw" if there were 80 or more children. <out of almost 250 on the playground.

Maybe they did not even ask them. Grade 1 and 2. maybe they were foccused on grade 3/4 because of their painting. And at the end they did not mention them any more. Weak hypothesis, I know.

But they did so many obvious mistakes, at least the interviews at groups and the poor documentation for further analysis. The fact that we are discussing age and grade of Interviewed persons proves that.

The documentary guy in that same segment @ 46 mins also says the little ones were on the playground earlier.. which is completely unsupported even by the alleged child witnesses. I'm not saying he is lying about what someone else maybe told him, i'm saying he is wrong to repeat that because it is not supported by any early data.

Is it contradicted by any early data? The grade 1/2 Info seems to be more addition than contradiction.
 
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FatPhil

Senior Member.
Ok thanks.
Wondering how the "selection process" went, choosing which kids may draw.... Perhaps only the ones that want to draw aliens? Just throwing it in here.

And did they see what the others were drawing - could there have been borrowing of ideas, or, worse, outdoing each other?
 

TinFoilHat

New Member
This sighting, by a group of young children in a school in rural Zimbabwe in 1994, has never, to the best of my knowledge, been fully explained, or if it has, I can't find it. http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1453.htm

Source: https://youtu.be/7q6o9tWomPQ?t=212


Has anyone here ever come across a reasonable explanation for what the children claim to have seen? I know it was investigated by John Mack, but he has been known to be gullible and prone to falling for hoaxes. Can anyone point me to a good link on the subject? Thanks.
There has never been any evidence presented only testimony from children.
 

Ulrich

Member
Regarding the question of the amount of whitenesses, and the question about grade 1 and grade 2 counted or not…

I ve seen the Ariel phenomenon video and at around 30.00, there is an interview between John Mack and Colin Mackie, the headmaster at Ariel school. In this interview, Mackie stated to the question, that there are “around 60“. There can be more, „who are „embarrassed“ and furthermore „grade 1“ and „grade 2“ who are „not involved“.

So around 60 with possibly more. Grade 1 and 2 are not counted.

I am foccused on the grades, not just because of more possible whitnesses, but because of the fact that pupils choose their position on the schoolyard not randomly. Usually, they have their fixed areas on the schoolyards. Partly because of orders, partly because of psychology and habituation. Would be interesting to know, which grades saw something, and where were these grades usually on the schoolyard.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I ve seen the Ariel phenomenon video and at around 30.00, there is an interview between John Mack and Colin Mackie, the headmaster at Ariel school. In this interview, Mackie stated to the question, that there are “around 60“. There can be more, „who are „embarrassed“ and furthermore „grade 1“ and „grade 2“ who are „not involved“
do you still have access to the video? or is it like you pay and only get 2 days to watch it.

It would be great if you could transcribe the question and exactly the words he said. (otherwise i can wait until it hits Tubi.)
 

Ulrich

Member
I think, I can not give that source here. :rolleyes: The transcript:

[Question and answer about possible imaginative child…]

J.M.:How many of them (the pupils) reported seeing the craft?

C.M.: [Mumble] …about 60. More of them could have seen it. They are just too embarrassed to talk about it. Or…We haven’t actually haven’t had grades 1 and 2 involved. They are 6 and 7 years old.

[Question and answer about estimations of duration…]

Maybe the mumble is important, but I dont think so. It was something with „reason“, I think. And quite short.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Maybe the mumble is important,
i personally doubt the mumble was important. but i dont think that quote backs up the documentary interview claim at 45:50. The headmaster is saying "could have", the documentary guy makes it sound absolute.

(note: people can click the little arrow next to quote reply names to get back to origins of discussion and the original links)
BTW. There were not 62 pupils there. He said there were the grade 1 and grade 2 who saw it, too. It’s around 45.50.


But thankyou for the full quote. really appreciate it.
 

Ulrich

Member
The filmmaker says more. He says, there were grade 1 and 2, not counted in the 62. What was nowhere mentioned. And turned out to be apparently true by looking to the primary source.

Then he says, furthermore he talked to several grade 1/2 children and they tell him similar stories. Which seems to be quite „absolute“.

Well. Possible that he is lying in the point he has similar eyewhitness accounts from grade 1/2. And there are none. Because they did not see anything.

But that is not the impression I got from the filmmaker, and in particular not from the Headmaster at Ariel school. Who did not want to tell that they did not involve grade 1/2 because of their feelings, AND because they have not seen anything. :D
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
And turned out to be apparently true by looking to the primary source.
the head master? i dont see it "turns out to be true". we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

furthermore he talked to several grade 1/2 children and they tell him similar stories.
i'm sure a few did considering their age and all the hype that was going around that small private school for months on end.. it seems primarily people who contacted HIM.
Article:
At the beginning of the project Nickerson set about contacting those people who had been among the 62 children who had witnessed the sighting. “They are mainly students in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Britain.”

Tracking them down hasn’t been that difficult. “They are contacting us because of what we put up on the John E. Mack Institute website. What is interesting is that their stories remain the same as in 1994.

“They were affected profoundly,” says Nickerson.


Possible that he is lying
I would never assume he is intentionally lying. He might be highly biased and hearing what he wants to hear (and disregarding the rest) because of his past experience and his personal devotion to Mack and Dominique, but i wouldnt go so far as to say intentionally lying. It seems to me his main motivation of the film was to give voice to "survivors", more therapeutic (like Mack did for him) then investigative. But of course i havent seen the film yet... just going off reviews from those who have seen it.

I don't think the adult children are "lying" either. Human memories are extremely faulty and false recovered memories is a known phenomenon. How they handled that situation was mind-blowingly bad (as far as psychological effects on the children).

I do believe there was some sort of vehicle (and probably the people who drove it) up on that hill that sunny sunny day.

But extreme claims require extreme evidence. and we have pretty good evidence that the children misidentified what they saw...influenced by all the ufo talk at that time due to that rocket that came through days before...and were manipulated by authorities/adults so that their memories became confused and twisted.

and we can see with our own eyes how the children look at him during interviews, weighing what the response is that this adult wants them to give.

we know their stories have not remained the same thanks to that blog that laid all the testimony transcripts in timeline order.
https://threedollarkit.weebly.com/ariel-school.html The proof is the children's own words at the time, vs 13 years later.
 
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Ulrich

Member
the head master? i dont see it "turns out to be true". we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
At least we have to agree on the fact that according to Colin Makie, Headmaster of Ariel School, the grades 1 and 2 were not involved and counted in the 62 eye whitnesses. “They are 6 and 7 years old“ he said, probably as the reason for that.


i'm sure a few did considering their age and all the hype that was going around that small private school for months on end.. it seems primarily people who contacted HIM.

so what?
I would never assume he is intentionally lying. He might be highly biased and hearing what he wants to hear (and disregarding the rest) because of his past experience and his personal devotion to Mack and Dominique, but i wouldnt go so far as to say intentionally lying. It seems to me his main motivation of the film was to give voice to "survivors", more therapeutic (like Mack did for him) then investigative. But of course i havent seen the film yet... just going off reviews from those who have seen it.
Biased in the way that he clearly states, that he has talked to grade 1/2 people, and they say they saw similar stories?
I don't think the adult children are "lying" either. Human memories are extremely faulty and false recovered memories is a known phenomenon. How they handled that situation was mind-blowingly bad (as far as psychological effects on the children).
I agree
I do believe there was some sort of vehicle (and probably the people who drove it) up on that hill that sunny sunny day.
Hoax is my favorite. In some european countries, older pupils do that kind of stuff after graduation. But in Zimbabwe? On that school level? And certainly, the hoaxer would be debunked at once because of their costumes and missing special effects and so on.
But extreme claims require extreme evidence. and we have pretty good evidence that the children misidentified what they saw...influenced by all the ufo talk at that time due to that rocket that came through days before...and were manipulated by authorities/adults so that their memories became confused and twisted.
Do we have evidence for that? We do not. It’s just a quite good hypothesis compared with the Alien-hypothesis.
and we can see with our own eyes how the children look at him during interviews, weighing what the response is that this adult wants them to give.

we know their stories have not remained the same thanks to that blog that laid all the testimony transcripts in timeline order.
https://threedollarkit.weebly.com/ariel-school.html The proof is the children's own words at the time, vs 13 years later.
Can you give the exact location on that website, pls. The change over time of transcripts. Thx
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Hoax is my favorite. In some european countries, older pupils do that kind of stuff after graduation. But in Zimbabwe? On that school level? And certainly, the hoaxer would be debunked at once because of their costumes and missing special effects and so on.
yea i dont believe anyone was hoaxing the children. that seems too far fetched to me based on the ORIGINAL testimonies of the children and what they saw.

Article:
Literature suggests that mass hysteria episodes have frequently occurred in Africa. This paper provides a literature review of documented episodes of mass hysteria in African schools.



Do we have evidence for that? We do not
i think we do. Not rock solid evidence of course, but pretty good evidence. i dont want to reiterate all the facts presented in this thread previously.

Can you give the exact location on that website, pls. The change over time of transcripts. Thx
they start here https://threedollarkit.weebly.com/ariel-first-on-the-scene.html

but then you want to click the NEXT on bottom of page to go to the next set of testimonies (different interviewer etc)
1659398369911.png
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
And certainly, the hoaxer would be debunked at once because of their costumes and missing special effects and so on.
But we don't have any film or photos, and no adult witnesses. How good would the costumes need to be to fool 8-year-olds?
 

Ulrich

Member
557561DA-8AFC-44C7-B150-D5109DF49964.jpeg4DEF07F5-44D1-41E2-9965-AD15261C2E6A.jpeg
Very good I think. I ve just found two commercial Alien costumes in line with the eyewhitness accounts. Black, human-like, big eyes. Quite impressive for a party. But not as good as it has to be to fool 8 year old Kids. My 5 - year old daughter has identified it immediately as human in costume
 

Ulrich

Member
Additionaly, commercial available costumes of the white alien around the area in white, „like a piece of paper“.

Not enough to actually fool 8-year old Kids, IMO
293C3403-CE84-498B-A45B-88680568EC3E.jpeg
It depends maybe on movement and posture. The moving one seems to be compelling regarding the description as „like a piece of paper“, „like a human, moving in slow motion“.3B402F5E-4BBF-440F-956A-51B527FFFCB4.jpeg
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
My 5 - year old daughter has identified it immediately as human in costume
now stick a guy in the suit 240 yards away behind all the tall lion grass and have the sun in her eyes and a bunch of her friends telling her she is looking at an alien.

x.png

2005arielschoolufosite.jpg

note: following picture is taken by grown adult male height.
58038055-10833597-image-a-127_1652990496366.jpg

Screenshot 2022-08-02 105655.png

arielsite1.jpg
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
also. do we know this is a person because we can clearly see it is a person, or do we assume he is a person because he is wearing typical person clothes?
1659453633626.png

the interesting thing about the pic i grabbed to demonstrate the clothes thing...i always figured they were wearing sunglasses or something and SOME of the kids thought his eyes were lower... but from a distance which part of a sunlit face glows brightest? hmmm...
1659453563730.png
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
My 5 - year old daughter has identified it immediately as human in costume
Would she do so in the middle of a "mass hysteria" incident, though? The history of such outbreaks tends to suggest otherwise. (Not intended as a comment on your daughter, of course, but on the way in which context can profoundly shape perception under the right conditions.)

I've been leafing through "Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior," while following this thread. The incident seems to fit right in with the sort "mass hysteria" outbreaks seen in schools over and over again.
Capture.JPG
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
now stick a guy in the suit 240 yards away behind all the tall lion grass and have the sun in her eyes and a bunch of her friends telling her she is looking at an alien.


But it is so confusing, even with all the interviews and transcripts etc.. Where they seeing the being up close or from 250m away?

What happens often with witnesses, is the poor distance judgement, specially with kids. If objects are recognisable of course, it is easy. But if unknown, the distance guess varies wildly and the unknowns are just pencilled in at will. Often seen with ufo cases.. It always puts me on guard, as this surely can indicate a lot of a report might be completely made up.
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
It is difficult for adults to recreate the mentality of a young child. We've all been young children, but it's easier to remember physical details of our child experience (like climbing a tree) than the mental states which accompanied that experience. One thing I do remember from my childhood is that at the age of 6 I was seriously attempting to make a space rocket in my back garden out of bits of junk, like old clockwork springs. (A friend of the same age was helping me.) When I say 'attempting to make a space rocket' I don't mean that in any objective sense our efforts could have produced a rocket of any kind, just that in some way it was what we are aiming at. Our mentality at that age was probably a lot closer to magical thinking than anything resembling science or engineering as understood since the time of Galileo.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
We've all been young children, but it's easier to remember physical details of our child experience (like climbing a tree) than the mental states which accompanied that experience.
i agree with the general premise, but in my experience i remembered the mental state (fear) not the physical details.

when i was in kindergarten (or maybe 1st grade, but i think it was kindergarten) a couple of 8th graders* (who seemed huge) cornered me in the bathroom for some gum that i didnt have. i was scared. i still remember that, but i do also recall that even a short time later i could not remember exactly what they said or any details of what they looked like. i couldn't recall if they were brunette, blonde etc. it was just before a long vacation and a friend asked me who they were when we returned to school and i couldnt give her any details.
 

jackfrostvc

Senior Member
now stick a guy in the suit 240 yards away behind all the tall lion grass and have the sun in her eyes and a bunch of her friends telling her she is looking at an alien.

x.png

2005arielschoolufosite.jpg

note: following picture is taken by grown adult male height.


I don't know the story all that well, but if they were that far away as per the pics above. How come one of the students said they got to within a metre of the "alien" ?
I seem to be missing a bit of the story
 

deirdre

Senior Member.

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Charlie Wiser

Active Member
I think Nickerson obtained Mack's files on Ariel, but has never released them
Can you confirm that @Charlie Wiser ?
The above quote is from me - yes, I believe Nickerson has the full interviews. The JMI archivist Will Bueché responded on Jun 14 to my request asking for transcripts:

> An author made a similar request a couple of weeks ago and we are putting them in touch with Randall Nickerson, on the chance that as part of the production of Ariel Phenomenon there may have been transcripts generated.
> When I learn what Nickerson's response is to that, I will pass on the answer to you as well.

He never wrote again. I'll follow up today.
 

Charlie Wiser

Active Member
But it is so confusing, even with all the interviews and transcripts etc.. Where they seeing the being up close or from 250m away?

This is where it's important to trace the changing testimony over time. None of the witnesses interviewed on Monday or Tuesday said anything about getting close to the aliens, or the aliens coming close to them, *or* that they saw anything like that, or even heard rumors about anything like that. Seeing an alien and child a meter apart would make a vastly different impression on observers than seeing a UFO and aliens at 200 meters. Yet no one mentions it.

The children knew they were absolutely forbidden to cross the school boundary logs. If anyone had done so, I would think other children would have reported this. Nobody did.

Within a few days or weeks we have a witness saying she and her friends did cross the boundary (yet their drawings of the spaceship are still indistinct) and a different witness saying she came within 1 meter. (Cynthia Hind did not report any of this in her 1995 write-ups, so perhaps she didn't believe those stories.) Today we have yet another different witness saying the alien came *to her* on the boundary log, which means dozens of children would have been within meters of the alien.
 

Vara La Fey

New Member
yea i dont believe anyone was hoaxing the children. that seems too far fetched to me based on the ORIGINAL testimonies of the children and what they saw.

Article:
Literature suggests that mass hysteria episodes have frequently occurred in Africa. This paper provides a literature review of documented episodes of mass hysteria in African schools.




i think we do. Not rock solid evidence of course, but pretty good evidence. i dont want to reiterate all the facts presented in this thread previously.


they start here https://threedollarkit.weebly.com/ariel-first-on-the-scene.html

but then you want to click the NEXT on bottom of page to go to the next set of testimonies (different interviewer etc)
1659398369911.png

Thanks for the first-on-the-scene link. There are original sources there which I don't have, and I've collected a few. FWIW I think John Mack was a willful child-abusing con artist advancing his own agenda which he'd already spouted for years. And I say this as a 95% alien believer. I think the issue is orders of magnitude too important to be left to con artists.
 
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