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In the Eyes of the Beholder:
On Kreskin's UFO Prediction

By Angela Thompson Smith

Last evening, around 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6th, 2002, people gathered at the Silverton Hotel, just south of Las Vegas to attend an event in which the mentalist Kreskin promised a sighting of UFOs in the Nevada night sky. Kreskin had first pronounced this "prediction" at a show in Canada and had been interviewed in Las Vegas during the past couple of days. There was some confusion about exactly where we were to meet: some said under the marquee and others said at the entrance to the casino. In the parking lot we met a fella dressed up as Ja Ja Binks and folks were having their photograph taken with him. Inside the casino, gamblers were walking around with green balloons, in the shape of aliens, perched on their heads.We groaned and hoped this wasn't going to set the tone for the evening. The media has a ball interviewing the weird and wonderful people that attend these events. Eventually Silverton buses came and ferried us to a desert area behind the casino. There was a general air of merriment and a party atmosphere.

Opinions, as to what was going to happen ranged from the belief that UFOs would actually appear (a minority of folks held this opinion) to the belief that this was a staged event by Kreskin either as a publicity stunt or to provide unpaid "extras" for some upcoming movie. Far-out opinions covered the belief that another, more important event, was to take place at an undisclosed location, and that the UFO "believers" had all been gathered in this one place so that the other event could go on undisturbed. Another opinion was that cameras would film whoever attended the Kreskin event for "control" purposes. The majority of the attendees realized that this was a publicity stunt by Kreskin, they were there to party, and have a fun night-out, but, like me, harbored a small hope that UFOs would make an appearance. Some folks traveled to the event from as far away as Utah and Kentucky!

Basically, Kreskin had wagered $50,000, that he would donate to charity if the predicted event did not happen. The predicted event being the sighting of three or four UFOs in the night sky. While being interviewed for Channel 8, in the days preceding the event, he assured the interviewer that satellites and other noctural activities would not be misinterpreted as UFOs. However, he was vague on a lot of other questions about what was really going to happen.

This past Monday, Kreskin addressed a gathered audience to start the preparatory work for Thursday's event. I was unable to attend but the show centered around teaching the audience how to get into an automatic trance state. One or two of the folks, I talked to, had walked out of the first meeting. They had gone there to find out where and when the event would take place.

Last night, Kreskin held another show during which he gradually whittled down the audience until he had a small group that had proven susceptible to hypnotic induction and command. After the show these folks flowed out to the desert area behind the Silverton Casino, where the rest of us had already assembled.

The event was well organized with amenities and water for sale (essential in the desert - the evening temperature was in the 90s) and a podium had been set up. I noticed dry ice "smoke" drifting around the podium and wondered if the "event" was going to feature a holographic display. Press and TV media were everywhere, interviewing kids and anybody who looked "interesting". Our quiet little group didn't warrant attention from the press as we were not sporting any alien headgear or antennae. We did obtain some neat flashing pins, made from beer bottle caps, and glow sticks from the Silverton vendors. There was a definite party atmosphere, like July 4th before the fireworks.

At around 9 oclock Kreskin's show was over and the remaining audience members and Kreskin arrived at the field in a wave of energy and excitement. Kreskin led the group up the podium and requested that the audience members from the show have the front row spaces around the podium. He asked for aisles, so that he could run up and down between the people. He produced a white handkerchief, waved it around, and let it fall to the ground. He then did this again. Some people though that this was a signal to some lighted blimp or other UFO lookalike to come floating overhead. Actually, it was a prearranged cue for the audience members, from his show, to enter a trance state. He had cued them that when they saw the white handkerchief drop that they would see UFOs.

About this time, several planes out of McCarron Airport flew overhead and were easilly identified as aircraft. However, the entranced folks started seeing UFOs! They got so excited and Kreskin had them up on stage describing the UFOs to the audience. Some of the crowd were angry at Kreskin and started cat-calling and saying "Da plane, da plane!" Many walked away in disgust.

It was fascinating to see the folks on the stage, bright eyed and excited about actually "seeing" a UFO. One man said he had come as a skeptic and was now a believer! A clinical hypnotherapist in our group said this was a classic example of post-hypnotic suggestion. I did see a shooting star, during the event, but no UFOs. Just lots of planes,

Why did Kreskin do this? His justification and message was that Bin Ladin and the Al Quaida were capable of pulling the same stunt on unsuspecting Americans and we should be aware of this and be prepared. Whether his justification held any merit, I am not sure. Was it worth going to the event? Sure!  I met some old friends that I hadn't seen in a while, and made some interesting new friends. After the event a group of us went over to the Silverton for coffee and desert (by mcsweeney at tforge). I eventually got home around 2 a.m. In the light of a new day, what actually happened? Kreskin did not have to forfeit his $50,000 to charity, after all he had eye-witnesses on film testifying to seeing UFOs over Nevada. He got his message across about the Al Quaida, there was disappointment, and even anger, from some of the crowd who expected a show, and we learned an important lesson to value our own judgement and opinions. Things are not always what they seem, life is not safe and cozy, and we are subject to a myriad factors that may affect our perception and our judgement.

*Angela Thompson Smith is the author of Diary of an Abduction : A Scientist Probes the Enigma of Her Alien Contact.