Journal: You stated in your bio that you’ve been with MUFON since 1986 and have been very active in a number of capacities. Can you tell us what prompted you to join the organization?
Joe: I had UFO sightings at ages 3, 14 and 18. Once I found out that MUFON existed (thanks to a public presentation by the now defunct UFO Study Group of Greater St. Louis) I immediately joined. I finally felt complete vindication of my sightings. When I say complete, I mean that while I knew that I had been seeing things in the sky I couldn't explain (and would not back down from no matter what family and friends might say) now I had a group of people with far more experience, education and knowledge about UFOs than I did and becoming part of MUFON would allow me access to these people and to be able to actually investigate instead of just reading books.
Joe: Sure. The overall encounter lasted for about 15 minutes from the time I spotted the object to the time I was getting video of the tail end of the craft. This experience has been more mind-blowing than any other UFO sighting I've had because it was in my face. It wasn't just a light in the sky or a distant "something" way up in the air. The blasted thing was within a quarter-mile to half-mile of me, around 500 to 1,000 feet in the air sitting there, hovering and was so detailed that I thought I was watching a full shot of a movie spaceship. I remember thinking of the episode of “Star Trek” original series wherein the Enterprise goes back in time (late '60's) to Earth, our Air Force scrambles an interceptor jet and the pilot climbs in altitude close enough to make a visual on the Enterprise. The shocked expression of disbelief on that pilot's face is likely the same expression I had on my face. I kept thinking, "What the hell is this? It shouldn't be there." The total report can be seen in the premiere webisode of my Internet show.
Journal: That sounds like a memorable experience, especially given your age. Has joining MUFON and investigating cases brought you any sense of closure about your own experiences?
Joe: Well, I'm not sure I would say "closure" exactly but it's certainly given me a foundation of confidence in pursuing the elusive answers of who, what, why and how. Many of my fellow MUFON investigators are after the same thing I am and two (or more) heads are always better than one.
Journal: Has the increased media coverage of UFOs and increased interest in MUFON impacted cases in Missouri?
Joe: Mmmmm, that's tricky. Missouri MUFON, St. Louis, has experienced a small increase in people attending meetings. I think media coverage of UFOs may have given way to a higher quality of reports coming forward because perhaps people now know better how to express themselves about it. If we're talking about “Hangar 1,” or local news reports, the way these television presentations have been done, it still places the UFO experience "out there somewhere" for eyewitnesses. Even with our recent Fox2 News report here in St. Louis that included my UFO footage, it was still clear to the viewer by the voice- over, "Here's footage of strange lights seen TWO YEARS AGO ... " and the rest of the report was statistics or conjecture. I'm very happy with the news report that was produced, but I've not yet seen any eyewitness impact from it airing. Maybe we should ask MUFON Executive Director Jan Harzan if there's been any recent, direct calls to MUFON HQ from people in St. Louis wanting to know more about MUFON.
Journal: You have also done paranormal research and investigating. Do you feel this has contributed to your work for MUFON?
Joe: Niiiiice question (smile). My answer would be YES! Why? Okay, I'm answering this from a personal standpoint and not as a representative of MUFON investigation. First, I would say that all my work has only solidified my already great mental state of being open-minded. An investigator MUSTN'T approach ANY investigation with a closed or "know-it-all" mindset. I've found that there SEEMS TO BE overlapping elements no matter what "category" of this kind of investigation is going on. In example, I think that a MAJOR component to be understood and worked is the light radiation spectrum called infrared (IR). A major tool for all of us is the chip image sensor in digital cameras which, by way of manufacture, is inherently highly sensitive to IR. Many pictures/videos of UFOs are seen (after shooting with a still camera, or during shooting with digital video cameras) because of IR capacity. We have seemingly pictures of varying aliens, spirits, cloaked Sasquatch people being caught on camera for seemingly the same reason. Consider, if these beings are, at times, able to exist ... WILLFULLY exists ... in the optically invisible "shield" of IR, that gives us something tangible to work with. Think about it.
Journal: I can see how having those tools at your disposable would be beneficial to an investigator. Being with MUFON since 1986, you’ve, no doubt, investigated a number of cases. Is there one that stands out in your mind? Did this case change any of your theories or perceptions about UFOs or Ufology in general?
Joe: There's so much. Of course, my February 28, 2014, UFO sighting at Interstate 270 and highway 40 in St. Louis County has been my most profound. Regarding theory or perception, I think that when you witness/experience what you conclude is a real UFO, it always changes you (no matter what number it is) because it takes you briefly out of your "reality." British Ufologist Jenny Randles came up with her concept (1983) of "The OZ Factor" and I certainly think it applies. For those who don't know, "The OZ Factor" refers to the "sensation of being isolated or transported from the real world into a different environmental framework." I also think that's the basis of human fear during an encounter of any paranormal kind.
Journal: With your extensive experience as STAR Team and CAG member, Assistant Director, State Director and Chief Investigator, you have an excellent sense of what it takes to be a good investigator. What qualities do you think a good investigator needs?
Joe: Two things that immediately come to mind is being open minded, and do not anticipate what the witness is trying to say and fill it in for them. That's called leading the witness. Third would be, listen to the eyewitness without censorship. Censorship is not your place and not your job. "Outrageous" and "Impossible" should not be in any investigators vocabulary.
Journal: Excellent advice. In your bio, you stated you are producing an Internet-based series called Joe Palermo's Paranormology. That sounds exciting. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Joe: I'd be happy to! I've been in professional video/television production since 1981 and formally educated in journalism. My series, Joe Palermo's Paranormology, is my answer to all the cable network shows I've participated in about the Chupacabras creature (and all other paranormal shows) where they chose to just tell a story (often untrue crap just for ratings) instead of THE story. These items of paranormal existence are real! They must be properly and thoroughly explored in order for humans to gain solid understanding of them. I'm providing viewers with ongoing investigation and research of all things paranormal with the idea of an educational thread. An example of that, take the subject of mental telepathy. Many UFO researchers will hear that term, immediately associate it with psychics and want to stamp it "rubbish." Remember the Interrupted Journey of the late couple Barney and Betty Hill? How did they say the aliens communicated? Telepathically! Another example of how there is an overlap in varying categories of paranormal subjects. I'm hoping to bring all these things together in Joe Palermo's Paranormology. Just Google it.
Journal: Sounds fascinating. I will definitely check it out. In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about disclosure. What is your take on that?
Joe: I think it's a slippery slope and I'm sure it's not going to happen the way proponents envision it. If you're coming from a "documents release" standpoint, I expect there's other information in such documents that have highly sensitive information that would prevent public release. If you're looking for a governmental announcement, I don't see that happening either. What I do see is what's happening now. The steady growth of experiencers coming together and revealing their interactions with whomever, whatever it was. Our (MUFON, paranormal investigators/researchers) job is to help makes sense out of what people are experiencing to gain an integrateable understanding of these "paranormal" things that continue to insinuate themselves, by purpose or natural course, into human lives.
Journal: You make an excellent point. Thank you again, Mr. Palermo, for sitting down with us for the MUFON One on One. It is much appreciated.
To suggest someone from within MUFON as the next One-On-One guest – please get in touch with Marie Cisneros at firstname.lastname@example.org.