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Astronaut: We've had visitors

The sixth man to walk on the moon shares his unconventional views.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published February 18, 2004


ST. PETERSBURG - The aliens have landed.

Thus declared Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell on Saturday to more than 200 admirers.

"A few insiders know the truth . . . and are studying the bodies that have been discovered," said Mitchell, who was the sixth man to walk on the moon.

Mitchell, who landed on the moon with Alan B. Shepard, said a "cabal" of insiders stopped briefing presidents about extraterrestrials after President Kennedy.

For those who might consider his statements farfetched, Mitchell, who has a doctorate in science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted that 30 years ago it was accepted that man was alone in the universe. Few people believe that now, he said.

Besides aliens, Mitchell talked about being freed of prostate cancer during a healing ceremony and his epiphany while returning from the moon.

"I had an opportunity to be a tourist," he said, going on to speak about the sensation he felt as he watched the Earth, moon and sun.

Raised as a Southern Baptist, Mitchell said his feeling of interconnectedness could not be explained by traditional religion alone. He later founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

On its Web site, the California organization says it conducts and sponsors "leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness" and that it explores "phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor."

The site also states that IONS, as it is known by members, is not a spiritual sect, political action group or single-cause institute.

Saturday afternoon, dozens of people made their way through rain to hear Mitchell and IONS president James O'Dea speak at the Heritage Holiday Inn in downtown St. Petersburg.

Lisa Raphael, a member of IONS who describes herself as a transformational holistic healer, said she was pleased to hear Mitchell's comments.

"Personally, what was most delightful to me was that he was more open than he has ever been, very direct about knowing that there are other forms of intelligent life in the universe and most probably that they have been here," said Ms. Raphael.