According to author Keith Thompson, in his book "Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination" (1991, Addison-Wesley, page 45):
"Beginning in the late 1950s, reports surfaced of strange men arriving, unannounced, sometimes alone, sometimes in twos or in threes, at the homes of particular UFO witnesses, usually before they had reported their sightings to anyone. Often seeming to know more than a stranger should know about the witnesses, MIB caution against reporting their sightings or close encounters. MIB typically walk with a strange limp, speak in mechanical monotones or annoying sing-songs, wear black suits and black shoes, often arrive driving black cars, and convey an overall eerie 'otherworldly' aura."
Probably the first MIB reports came out of the writings of Gray Barker in his classic book, "They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers" (1956). In it, a UFO investigator receives a visit from three archetypal MIB when he gets "too close to the truth" and is forced to leave ufology.
According to a 1993 FIDONET posting by Bob Dunn, "the MIB phenomenon became more widely known in 1968 with the publication of the book 'Flying Saucers And The Three Men' by Albert K. Bender. Bender was the head of a UFO organization back in the early 60's until he suddenly closed up shop one day and told the membership that they should be careful if they intended to carry on with UFO research. Five years later he ended his silence and published the book, which told how he had been contacted by three men dressed in black, who told him that if he didn't stop investigating UFOs he'd be killed. They said they were from another planet and were here to carry out a mission, and that they would be gone within five years."
The following is excerpted from a book review by Andy Kurtz, posted on alt.alien.visitors in October 1993:
Review: "The UFO Silencers: Mystery of the Men In Black" by Timothy Green Beckley (Inner Light Publications, New Brunswick, NJ. : 1990)
For years, researchers and contactees (at all levels of encounter) have reported being confronted by strange, threatening men, dressed in ill-fitting, aging, black or brown suits, whose purpose is to ward off the researcher/contactee from public pronouncements regarding specific UFO encounters. MIB are often described as being "not quite right," as having a death-like pallor, or of being jaundiced, of having strange, slanted eyes, or of standing with their feet pointed outward at 180 degrees, all of which makes the encounter more uncanny and frightening.
These visits are sometimes accompanied by extended periods of surveillance in which the researcher/contactee may have their phone tapped or their house staked-out. In some instances the researcher/contactee will also report poltergeist activity, feelings of angst and paranoia, and most uncanny of all, encounters with the doppelgangers of friends or relatives (who are doubles only in most respects, making them doubly enigmatic and disturbing). MIB have even been known to aggressively pursue the researcher/contactee on the road in their trademark luxury cars, sometimes causing potentially lethal car accidents. Whatever the variation of the theme, those who have encountered MIB agree unequivocally; they are evil, they are malevolent, and they are, above all, powerful and dangerous.
In "The UFO Silencers," Timothy Beckley has attempted to provide an overview of important and representative MIB encounters. According to Beckley, MIB have been with us for many hundreds of years, speculating that such diverse characters from the history of witchcraft and folklore as the Elizabethan "Black Men", the Native American "Black Man" and late nineteenth century reports of malevolent traveling salesmen (!), might have been manifestations of what we now know as MIB. However, Beckley is mainly concerned with post-Kenneth Arnold [i.e. post-1947] MIB encounters and the major portion of the 160 page book consists of testimonials from witnesses and speculations by scientists (with a couple of religious rantings and magical spells thrown in).
By far the most satisfying portions of the book are the first-hand testimonials of encounters with MIB. There are ten such testimonials, the variations between encounters such that they do not at all become boring or repetitious. Through these testimonials, we learn of the varying degrees of malevolence that MIB are capable of. From seemingly benign, even saccharine manifestations (in the case of a 14 year-old girl), to menacing zombies with laser and trans-dimensional weaponry, we learn that MIB rely most of all on methods of psychological torture, resorting to physical harm only when the researcher/contactee fails to heed their initial warnings. Beckley has wisely chosen to allow these people to, for the most part, speak for themselves...The fear, frustration, and unease that these people live with all of the time is intact and identifiable.
Though I think the testimonials are worth the price of the book, "The UFO Silencers" is flawed in many annoying respects. First, let me be blunt. Beckley is a terrible writer. "The UFO Silencers" is, without a doubt, the most poorly written book I have ever seen published.
Second, Beckley does not believe in citation. Like any book based on research, "The UFO Silencers" relies heavily on secondary sources. However, not a citation is to be found. This is particularly frustrating to those of us who use books as sources for other books and articles.
And last, there is a curious lack of audience-awareness. Who is this book for? Sometimes it's for the new-age crowd ("Since war was declared [eons ago in the Heavens], Lucifer, son of the morning was thrust forth and literally cast out of the Holy sphere..."); sometimes it's for the scientist ("ROI readout time was 2,000 seconds for gross counts inside the area where the depressed grass was found. Naturally occurring Radon...ranged from 123 to 178, with a naturally occurring annihilation peak of 256."); and sometimes it truly is for the interested lay person who wants to know more about the phenomenon. This makes for a truly uneven and frustrating read: Mr. Beckley, get an editor!!
[The above article is based on contributions from James Sutton, Christopher Schmidt, Chris Rutkowski, Bob Dunn and Andy Kurtz.]
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