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A 10,000-pound gorilla offers a mental workout

If you believe that all UFO sightings are made by swamp-dwelling, moonshine-guzzling hillbillies, then Dr. Steven Greer is your worst nightmare.

Bright, articulate and incredibly dedicated, this medical doctor is the man behind the Disclosure Project, a Charlottesville, Va.-based organization that aims to end government secrecy on the subject of unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrials.

It's not a topic that the media have distinguished themselves in covering. In fact, as I arrived to meet the doctor after he did an interview at the Portland Cable Access studios last week, it felt like I was the one who Ñ as a member of the press Ñ needed to establish some credibility.

This I accomplished by asking if he had heard of 'Incident at Exeter,' the book that started my lifelong interest in the subject of UFOs. He had.

He mentioned that the percentage of people who now believe in UFOs is greater than the percentage who voted for our recent presidents. I chimed in with, 'Didn't both Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter have UFO sightings of their own?'

It was only then that I saw the skeptical look begin to fade. We agreed to talk after he finished his interview.

During the taping, he described UFOs as 'the 10,000-pound gorilla that has been kept secret for about 50 or 60 years.'

What Greer has done is to gather 400 witnesses Ñ many of them conservative Republicans, by the way Ñ who claim to have firsthand knowledge on subjects such as recovered technology not of this Earth.

One turning point in his efforts was a National Press Club news conference on May 9, 2001, when Greer presented 12 of these witnesses to the media and to the biggest webcast ever on the Internet.

As the Portland interview proceeded, I sat and watched in the darkness, continuing my decades-long struggle to accept the notion that it could all be true.

This is so much more than a 10,000-pound gorilla. It's the ultimate mental workout, dwarfing previous challenges such as when people first heard that the Earth was round.

How far we've come since then, though. Just look at the technological advances in the last century, and imagine if a civilization somewhere was thousands of years ahead of us.

There has to be other life out there, right? How vain is it to think that we're alone in a universe of billions of galaxies that's been around for 13 billion years?

Perhaps you were taught that nothing could ever exceed the speed of light, so there wouldn't be time to cross the incredible expanses of space. But guess what? Scientists recently have broken the speed of light.

After the taping, I asked Greer the big question: If you had five minutes of television time around the world to convince the skeptics that you were right, what evidence would you show? Would it be the Belgium sightings? That's one of my personal favorites: hundreds of viewers, pictures, radar, scrambling fighter jets, the works.

Greer said he'd most like to present his witnesses: 'the people who have dealt directly with the extraterrestrial evidence and the bodies.'

Wow, the big gorilla was stirring again.

Incidentally, Greer's uncle, Macon Epps, worked on NASA's lunar module, which brings up an interesting point: We already have indisputable proof of bizarre creatures traveling through space Ñ namely, us.

Bill McDonald is a Portland writer and musician.