They’re back! An unprecedented team of prominent UFO experts such as Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos, Chariots of the Gods author Erich von Daniken, popular radio host George Noory, award-winning reporter Linda Moulton Howe, plus government, military, and NASA officials, will convene in Indian Wells later this month for the seventh annual Contact in the Desert, the world’s leading UFO conference.
Speakers will share their knowledge of UFO studies, contact experiences, government disclosure, crop circles, ancient civilizations, and nearly every facet of extraterrestrial life imaginable before an expected 7,000 attendees at the four-day conference, May 31-June 3 at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
• See related story: 45 Things to Do in May.
Chief among the most illustrious speakers this year is acclaimed author Whitney Strieber. Perhaps most famous for his 1987 New York Times bestseller Communion, which offered a gripping account of his abduction by non-human “visitors,” Strieber has penned a number of popular thrillers, including The Wolfen and The Hunger, and has become a leading authority on the paranormal thanks in part to his comprehensive website Unknown Country and his popular podcast “Dreamland”, in which he offers as much genuine reporting and analysis as possible.
Strieber spoke with Palm Springs Life about what to expect at Contact in the Desert and his own search for the truth.
When did you first come to believe that there is life in other parts of the universe?
I don’t know if there’s a specific time. I didn’t think about it much at all until I had a close encounter of the third kind in 1985. When I was a kid, flying saucers were all over the news and the father of one of us had seen one land in Texas in what became a very famous UFO incident. Then in 1985 I ended up in the hands of these creatures and it became quite real after that.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CONTACT IN THE DESERT
Last year was the first time Contact in the Desert was held in Indian Wells. Previously it was in Joshua Tree.
You have a popular website called Unknown Country, which is filled with content. What kind of information can visitors read there that they can’t find elsewhere?
What Unknown Country does is report on the genuine edge of science. It doesn’t report on what can’t be proved. In its News area, you can find stories of unusual events and experiences that are documented conventionally. In the Out There section, we look at UFO reports. We have a stable of professional photographers and videographers to analyze photos and videos, so we don’t have any fake, clickbait UFOs that are everywhere now. It also has my journal and my wife’s journal, which she had until she passed away. It also has my podcast “Dreamland,” which has been going since 1998. We have a good following. We’re very careful with the following. I don’t want to gather clicks by making sensational and fallacious statements that can’t be proven so we don’t do any of that. We’d be a bigger site if we did.
You are offering both a lecture, “Wild and Wonderful UFO & Alien Videos,” and a workshop, “Alien Contact: A Miracle Denied,” this year. Will you offer a preview of what to expect from both?
I have collected over the years a good bit of UFO and alien video that is authentic. I would say that 99.9 percent of alien video you find on the internet is fake, and I’ll give the reasons why I don’t think mine is fake. The same goes for UFO video. I have a small collection that I feel is authentic. I will show it and discuss it. I’ll also discuss some of the reasons for the secrecy and what’s going on behind the scenes. I know a bit. I don’t have a security clearance, and if I did know official secrets, I wouldn’t be spouting them out. In my workshop, I’ll talk about my new book titled A New World.
What can you reveal about it now?
It’s a work in progress. It’s a completely new vision of the whole thing. I have been in contact with visitors now for 30 years and it is nothing at all like anything you’ve ever read. It is a very, very different and extremely strange experience. I’m trying to make it into language to describes how it happens and that it is something that happens and not something that happens in my mind and how I can prove that. It should be finished in a few weeks, but I have no idea when it will be published.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CONTACT IN THE DESERT
Whitley Strieber speaks at last year's conference.
What do you hope attendees will take away from the conference and your presentations?
What I want them to take away is that this is not settled fact. This is unknown, but it’s a real unknown. It’s not passive, it’s active. In other words, there’s someone on the other side of this barrier. We can look at it from a different way, not through the lens of assumption that we know where this alien species came from. What we do know is this is the strangest and most powerful thing that has ever happened to humankind. That’s what I want to explore and will be exploring during both sessions.
In April we learned the U. S. Navy has drafted new guidelines for pilots and others to report UFO sightings but will keep the information confidential. What are your feelings on this? Do they worry that releasing the information might create mass hysteria?
I know a lot of people who work behind the scenes on this and I’m aware there’s more secrecy than there needs to be. The whole classification thing is so unwieldly I don’t know how it will change unless the visitors themselves change somehow. I’m not surprised that the Department of the Navy is planning to keep the details of its program a secret. This area is very classified and has been since the beginning. My family involvement goes back a generation. My uncle, Colonel Edward Strieber, was at Wright Field in Dayton when the debris was brought in from Roswell, New Mexico [famous as the location of an alleged UFO crash in 1947]. This has been debunked a thousand different ways, but it did happen. They brought debris and biological materials from Roswell to Wright and his commanding officer also examined the biological remains, and everyone from President Truman on down knew the naked truth that it was not of this earth.
There have been reports of UFO sightings at the past three Contact in the Desert conventions. Did you see them?
I didn’t see them. I used to do a convention in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where there were a lot of UFO sightings. One time I was out at breakfast with my wife and some friends and people kept rushing into the diner we were in, and it turns out there was a UFO hovering over the diner. They were taking pictures. I was not aware of any UFO sighting, but that’s an example of what’s right and wrong about this. It comes and everybody looks at it and it goes away again. That’s actually not enough. If something like this happens, it needs to develop into more than that. That’s what my entire life and career have been about. I want to establish effect and efficient communication. This is what I want to communicate.
Can you share some intel on how attendees privately prepare for either a friendly visit or if it would become hostile?
I think that’s a very big concern behind the scenes. There’s been a lot of violence and hostility in the lives of people who address this through the medium of things like the military. I’ve not had that. I’ve had a violent experience at first because I was terrified. I wasn’t prepared in anyway. I woke up in a room full of strange little beings. It was like a nightmare that turned out to be real, so, of course, I struggled.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CONTACT IN THE DESERT
Behind the scenes they’re not so happy with this. Since then, it has gradually focused into a useful relationship. I think they find me rather frightening myself. I know people who work behind the scenes, and while we’re friends, they’re very hesitant about certain things like spending too much time in my immediate proximity. I have an implant in my left ear that works very well. I know how it works and I use it all the time, and we’re all aware that someone on the other side of it can participate in my life as it wishes so they’re reticent. I don’t blame them.
What do you say to people who are skeptical of a convention like this or claims about visitors?
It doesn’t make sense to be skeptical of the convention itself; it is what it is. But to be skeptical of the claims, that’s an entirely different story. If we’re not skeptical of these claims, what do we have? I have to be skeptical of my own experience, everyone does. But skepticism and denial are two entirely different things. Skepticism is essential. Denial is as foolish as belief.
Contact in the Desert, May 31-June 3, 2019, Renaissance Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, contactinthedesert.com.
For more information on Strieber, visit unknowncountry.com.