The beliefs of John Keel and Lou Gentile, two high-profile US investigators of the paranormal who died in recent weeks, suggest that reality is far more bizarre than most of us dare imagine. And demonology, in various guises, was central to those beliefs.
To many people, John Keel was simply a UFO researcher or ufologist. That may have been true at the start of this highly competent investigative journalist’s quest, but while others readily subscribed to the extraterrestrial hypothesis to explain UFO sightings, Keel soon took a very different approach.
For him, there were too many puzzling aspects of UFO reports, such as associated sightings of strange creatures, to accept the simplistic view of aliens in space ships.
Instead, Keel concluded that UFOs and the creatures that sometimes seemed to be associated with them, emanated from somewhere closer to home: another dimension which occasionally interacted with our physical world.
It was possibly a strange, nether world peopled by demons and other strange creatures, including Mothman – the subject of Keel’s 1975 study The Mothman Prophecies which was made into a movie in 2002. It was a theme he explored in some of his other books, including Our Haunted Planet and The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings. It was Keel who also coined the phrase “Men In Black” to describe the strange visitors who reportedly attempted to silence UFO investigators.
A follower of Charles Fort, the collector of oddities, Keel (real name Alva John Kiehle) preferred to be described as a Fortean rather than a ufologist, and came to the conclusion that UFO-like objects and apparitions “do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.”
But Keel, who died in New York on 3 July, at the age of 79, also declared: “Ufology is just another name for demonology.”