On Sunday, December 17, 2017, Ralph Blumenthal and two colleagues broke the story of a secret Pentagon program to track UFOs, with videos of encounters between the objects and Navy pilots in a page-one story in The New York Times. The next day, Mr. Blumenthal authored a short article answering the question, “So how does a story on U.F.O.s get into The New York Times?” For over seven decades, “the newspaper of record” had dismissed, derided and debunked the UFO phenomenon with ridicule and sarcasm. Mr. Blumenthal’s piece was a game-changer. Its impact continues to this day.
But his interest in Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John E Mack’s work began much earlier, in 2004 when he was the correspondent for The New York Times in Texas. He happened to pick up a used copy of Dr. Mack’s second book, Passport to the Cosmos, and was intrigued. He wondered why an eminent Harvard psychiatrist was investigating UFOs and aliens. The mystery that lured Dr. Mack to investigate it soon gripped Mr. Blumenthal.
The Believer explores the life and work of Dr. John E Mack and is based on exclusive access to Dr. Mack’s archives, journals, and psychiatric notes, as well as interviews with his family and closest associates. This evening’s conversation will focus mainly on the later part of Dr. Mack’s life when he risked his career and reputation exploring the controversial topic of human encounters with non-human intelligences.