OED quarterly update

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Oct 3 08:38:20 UTC 2000

>>"men in black", defined as "dark-clothed men of
>>unknown identity or origin, who supposedly visit those who have seen a
>>UFO or reported an alien encounter, in order to prevent them publicizing
>>their experience", and traced as far back as a 1963 book about flying
>So the movie was taking its title from an already established

The MIB were a very well-known element of UFO lore in the late 1960's. I
think the name most commonly associated with them is that of the author
John A. Keel.

Not all of the MIB wore black. There were reported encounters with men in
uniform, etc. There were well substantiated reports of individuals who
showed USAF and other US Government credentials but who were disowned by
the government. Some of these, I suspect, were based on simple errors --
one government office not knowing about the activities of another, for
example. Other cases may have involved some fringe "UFO researchers"
misrepresenting themselves, or eccentric private individuals like those who
listen to the fire department radio and attend interesting fires as observers.

To simplify, there were two theories about the MIBs' identity: (1) US
Government 'spooks' (FBI, CIA, USAF Intelligence, whatever), (2)
extraterrestrial or paranormal beings or the human emissaries thereof.

The lore includes black automobiles and helicopters too, of course. Very
few WIB, though, as I recall.

-- Doug Wilson

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