Conspiracy Corner – The Black Knight

Every Thursday, about 8:15am, Matthew talks with Zac on 95bFM’s “Breakfast Show” about conspiracy theories.

A short-ish update on “Conspiracy Corner” this week, given that I’m working on a paper and trying to make sense of twenty-thousand words of new material for the book.

This week we talked about the “Black Knight” (hat tip to Zac for this week’s topic), a Fortean space object which may, or may not, be the creation of John Keel.

According to various sources, the Black Knight is a satellite in polar orbit above the Earth which may, or may not, be of extraterrestrial origin. It was first seen (apparently) in the mid to late fifties by the Americans, who naturally assumed it was of Russian origin. It has since been seen, not always in the same place, by crew members of various nations whilst sojourning in space1. This site gives a handy accounting of most the stories and rumours surrounding sightings of the Black Knight.

So, what’s the conspiracy theory? Basically, because no one in a position of relevant authority (i.e. any of the various space agencies) will confirm the existence of the Black Knight, there is a suspicion by some people that whatever the Black Knight is, it’s existence and purpose is being deliberately kept from us.

As opposed to the possibility that such authorities simply do not believe it exists.

So, does it exist, and if so, what is it? Well, I have no idea. As I said in the show, it’s possible there really was an initial sighting of the Black Knight, qua a satellite in an unusual orbit (which may well have been a secret Russian spy satellite). Given that the subsequent sightings only seem to share the feature of “being unexpected objects in orbit around the Earth”, and thus don’t seem to be an especially close match for the initial sighting of the Black Knight, it’s quite possible that the story of the Black Knight is now just a mess of different objects being confused for one object with a highly usual orbit.

Or, of course, the Black Knight might be either completely fictitious or a story which has been “elaborated upon” by Keel.2 The inconsistency of the sightings and the unusual properties said object is said to have (such as broadcasting alien signals) certainly read like the product of Keel’s often brilliant imagination. The fact he linked it to Phillip K. Dick and the VALIS trilogy is just the icing on the cake.

Notes

  1. That makes spaceflight sound so cosmopolitan.
  2. If you read “The Mothman Prophecies” and try to treat all of it as factual, then you’ll run into trouble.

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