http://www.csicop.org/si/9707/art-bell.html [Broken]...What about the possibility that thirty-nine people ended their lives in part because of Bell's promotion of false information? Bell doubts the cult members incorporated the "companion UFO" story into their mass suicide decision. He says that in the weeks following the Courtney Brown debacle, the "entire fraud was heavily exposed" and that the revelations all occurred two months before the Rancho Santa Fe suicides. And in a further attempt to paint himself as just another innocent reporter at the mercy of his sources, Bell asserted that "the media had it totally, utterly wrong" in their initial reports of the numbers and ages of suicide victims, as if to compare his show's unsubstantiated and pretentious banter about a massive, comet-trailing alien craft to the act of gathering details during a breaking, tragic news story. Most important for Bell, though, is that the Heaven's Gate members appeared to have been aware of the Hale-Bopp UFO debunking. The first line of their now infamous Web site reads: [continued]
http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/hgprofile.html [Broken]...It is clear that the group's beliefs changed over the years, but precisely when and how is still being pieced together from the materials they left behind. It is clear that popular-cultural science fiction, especially visions of extraterrestrial life highlighted by movies and television, profoundly influenced the group's worldview. Members were tremendous fans of the Star Trek TV series, as well as The X-Files, both of which featured alien beings in prominent roles. [continued]
For those not familiar with Art Bell, he hosted a radio show that featured guests ranging from the wackiest crackpots to respected scientists. Subjects ranged from Ghosts and UFOs to Physics and other sciences; from goverment conspiracy theories to legitimate current events. Bell certainly encouraged exotic stories and beliefs but all in all he seemed harmless enough to me. If people tuned in and believed everything they heard, then they obivously would believe nearly anything anyone told them, so to me it seems unfair to hang this on Bell. And in fact this goes a bit deeper I think: For all the BS on Bell's show, first and foremost it was a place for people to tell their stories. Obviously many people didn't like Bell for promoting "nonsense", but it wasn't all nonsense, and its not always easy to tell where nonsense ends and a true mystery begins.
I think this attack on Bell stinks a little of censorship based on personal bias - a bit of a witch hunt based on the skeptic's hatred of alternative points of view. From what I read, all of Sci-Fi is equally responsible for thirty-nine dead people.
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