Friday, July 19, 2013 | 4:31 p.m.
In a tiny conference room at the JW Marriott Hotel, about 15 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, the scientists spoke of extraterrestrials.
Addressing a small pack of journalists from all manner of media, the panel of 10 experts provided a whiff of their forthcoming keynote speeches, scheduled for this weekend's Mutual UFO Network Symposium, a two-day dive into the unexplained.
"We hope to bridge the gap between science and ufology," said Jan Harzan, state director of network's Orange County bureau. "They're one in the same."
Ufology is the study of unidentified flying objects. And that’s the subject of this symposium.
It’s there that Don Donderi, a retired psychology professor from McGill University and UFO consultant, will describe the implications of making contact with extraterrestrials. What impact could that contact have on public policy? What about the future of planetary life as we know it?
Donderi built his argument from a few simple statements.
"Some of what people report as UFOs are extraterrestrial vehicles. Some of those extraterrestrial vehicles have crews. And some of those crews catch and release humans to study," Donderi said. "Propositions one and two, I believe, are established beyond reasonable doubt."
That last statement, though lacking a wealth of scientific evidence, is supported by numerous anecdotes about abductions and interstellar experiments.
"Finally, I'll come to what I think we should do about it, which is first to start a public discussion," Donderi said. "And second: treat UFOs as trespassers."
Dr. Steven Greer, a trauma doctor by trade, will talk about the discoveries of a prominent Stanford scientist who studied the skeleton and DNA of the Atacama Humanoid: a 6-inch skeleton found in Chile's Atacama Desert. About 9 percent of the skeleton's DNA remains unexplained.
"We're not saying it's E.T.," Greer said. "It is clearly not a human."
Then, Ted Peters, an expert in astro theology — the study of the astronomical origins of religion — hopes to tie those odd UFO encounters and sightings to something far more complex than advanced civilizations in far corners of the cosmos: religion.
The argument, he suspects, is why NASA scientists and Mutual UFO Network scientists rarely hang out at the same weekend barbecues.
"Some scientists are practicing theology without a license," Peters said.
When it came time for media questions, George Knapp, chief investigative reporter for KLAS-TV Channel 8 wanted to know: Why is this important?
"This might have an impact on every person on Earth," said David Jacobs, a UFO consultant and retired history professor from Philadelphia's Temple University. "Therefore, we should be learning about it.
Debbie Ziegelmeyer, MUFON's state director in Missouri, argued the presence of UFOs in the universe has been ignored long enough.
"It's something that's part of our history. … It's something that's not included in the history books," Ziegelmeyer said. "Columbus had a UFO sighting. … It's about time people realized this is actually something that's going on."