We’ve all heard of the mysterious Men in Black who visit researchers and contactees of unidentified flying objects, but the phenomenon has an untold history that rarely comes to light in circles of either skeptics or believers. The real story of the Men in Black has always been lurking in the background, hiding behind eyewitness accounts and dismissals by skeptics, threatening to rise up again and be noticed. It all started in 1947.
Generally when referring to the Men in Black, the most widely accepted explanation has to do with a secret shadowy government agency designed to discredit and threaten UFOlogists and witnesses to unexplained phenomena. But this might not be the whole story, as accounts by different authors have suggested. And in the end, there may be many different groups operating with completely different intentions and origins now under the umbrella term “MIB.” The phenomenon has spurred several references in popular culture, books, a comic series, and even three films. But who are the people who have actually seen these mystery men in dark suits, and where could they have come from originally?
The men started appearing just after 1947, when many early UFO witnesses and researchers began receiving appearances by mysterious figures who asked questions, made statements and suggestions (sometimes even threats) and then left in the night leaving no trace of their visits. The MIBs have been described as behaving erratically, sometimes completely solemn and other times letting out off-putting cackles of laughter.
In earlier times, a visit by a strange man dressed all in black might be interpreted as a visit by “Old Scratch,” or as he was known in some circles, the Devil. Some researchers of the UFO phenomenon, such as John Keel, have even suggested that this trickster spirit may be manifesting in the 20th and 21st centuries as a man dressed in a black suit and fedora with the same nefarious intentions as before. Indeed, a number of witnesses have described a near paranormal ability to disappear during the incidents.
Others have suggested the MIBs could have come from an old military program designed to quell public interest in the UFO phenomenon. If the Men in Black were somehow connected to the military, all attempts to verify who the individuals are by the public have met with failure, with identification often leading on a wild goose chase back to individuals that are long since retired or who never existed to begin with.
The final explanation is that the MIB phenomenon is largely attributable to a hoax perpetrated by writer Gray Barker. This explanation hinges on the fact that Barker was one of the earliest writers credited with ever talking about the Men in Black, and there is testimony from friends and relatives that he perpetrated a hoax to create the mythos of a shadowy intelligence group to stifle UFO explanations. The primary problem with this explanation is the fact that MIB stories date back nearly 20 years before Barker ever wrote his book, “Flying Saucers and the Three Men.”
In the end we’re left with several possibilities, including one that all three explanations could very well be valid. There is evidence to suggest UFO groups were spied upon. Folklore of the trickster spirit garbed in black dates back all the way to the middle ages. And there is something to be said about the popularization of the MIB phenomenon by Barker in the 1960’s. Is it possible that either of the former two could have used the latter as a conduit to forge a new identity to operate under?