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Contact exclusive interview: Conflict Analyst Dr. Michael Livingston talks about the Aliens among us

Dr. Michael Livingston is the lead in a team of real experts who analyze data and investigate suspected alien visitations. Pic credit: Discovery
Dr. Michael Livingston is the lead in a team of real experts who analyze data and investigate suspected alien visitations. Pic credit: Discovery

Could it be? Do you want to believe? Have you bought in?

We’re talking about Ancient Aliens and extraterrestrial life, presented with a plausible explanation. We are not alone according to some well placed military and scientific folks.

Entities far beyond our moon and galaxy have cased our planet for years, according to lead researchers in the paranormal fields of ET’s.

Draw up a seat and gather ’round, as Discovery and Science Channel have a delicious new nonfiction docuseries called Contact that airs its third episode this week. Monsters and Critics spoke to Conflict Analyst Dr. Michael Livingston about all things alien.

The series follows a group of investigators around the world collecting evidence to prove that aliens have been in contact with Earth.

We have ex-CIA officers, special ops, scientists, and investigative journalists. They receive state of the art technology, declassified government reports, and credible eye-witness accounts, making Contact a trailblazer in nonfiction TV.

Michael Livingston is the “combat investigator” who works in the Situation Room throughout Contact.

A professor at The Citadel, he coordinates the field teams who are sent out to track down evidence that could potentially prove we’ve been in contact with extraterrestrial life.

His work is to prove theories that have daunted scientists, government officials, explorers, religious leaders, and populations around the world for centuries. Have aliens made contact with Earth?

While many believe they have, most sightings and theories still lack the evidential proof to silence the naysayers. Livingston is aided by six highly trained investigators who work in tandem and seek to find the answers.

Led by former CIA Targeting Officer Myke Cole, who works closely with Livingston, the men join renowned astrophysicist and international space journalist, Sarah Cruddas.

Also on board are former USMC Special Ops Intel Officer, Nick Karnaze, award-winning investigative journalist Paul Beban, and former Green Beret Intelligence Sergeant Kawa Mawlayee.

How do they do this?

Discovery says:

“Using groundbreaking CIA developed software, military special operations investigative techniques and boots-on-the-ground journalism to track down leads around the world, Contact is the first ever global investigation to determine whether or not aliens have made contact here on Earth.”

They use a new and radical approach by combining data points, credible eye-witness accounts, and declassified government reports. Investigators have hard empirical evidence that has the potential to solve “a puzzle of galactic proportions.”

They have declassified footage of fast-moving objects. There are also patterns in social media sightings that coincide with seismic activity, and eyewitness accounts that corroborate evidence.

They pair State-of-the-art technology with social media’s unique ability to connect and share stories across the globe in real-time. They also gather the new and established Intel and identify patterns like never before.

Monsters and Critics spoke to Dr.Livingston about this new series:

Monsters and Critics: Explain how you were made aware of becoming a “conflict analyst” vocationally?

Dr. Michael Livingston: Breaking it down, Conflict Analysis is the process of reconstructing some of the bloodiest and most consequential moments in history from the smallest of clues. Where people have traditionally seen a single dataset, I find ways to uncover more. And the more data we have, the higher our probability of uncovering the truth behind it.

At heart, then, I’m a historian who can’t stand not knowing things. And early in my training, I recognized how our knowledge of the past can be severely limited by our access to sources. I picked up a Ph.D. in medieval literary studies in order to have a better handle on manuscripts, languages, and the written word.

And as my career unfolded, I kept looking for more ways to uncover more perspectives on events, more sources for data. In intelligence services, what I do is often called “all-source analysis.”

Paleography, archaeology, geology, hydrology, behavioral studies, satellite reconnaissance … I’ll use any tool I can to shed light on our past.

M&C: How did Discovery and Science Channel approach you and what producers found you for this series? Who assembled the team of ex-CIA officers, special ops, scientists, and investigative journalists?

Dr. Michael Livingston: Uncovering hidden datasets and analyzing them is an enormous part of what CONTACT is doing. From the beginning, the aim of the producers was to take a fresh approach to the UFO phenomenon using intelligence experts and modern technical and forensic capabilities.

Myke Cole was cast first, as an intelligence analyst who could run the whole enterprise. He happened to know my conflict analysis work and suggested me to the producers as one of several possibilities for his counterpart. I lost my voice during the screen test, but they somehow looked past that!

The producers at Karga7 cast a wide net to pull together the rest of the team. This isn’t another stale alien show with the same old faces repeating the same old stories. To do this right meant we needed skills, and we got them in abundance.

Just look at our field teams: Paul Beban, Sarah Cruddas, Nick Karnaze, and Kawa Mawlayee — they’re either award-winning journalists or field-tested military intelligence personnel.

M&C: Do you work on a contiguous phenomenon like the Nimitz tape or bounce from unexplained event to unexplained event? Is there any inter-connectivity in UFO work? If so, elaborate if you would.

Dr. Michael Livingston: Once we set aside those cases that can be efficiently explained, the nature of UFO phenomena often means that looking at an individual occurrence in a vacuum leaves us with a he-said, she-said situation. But pushing these events through link analysis software enables us to take them out of isolation.

Data analysis uncovers similar cases, and studying these gives us more data that we can then feed back into the loop. The process of pattern recognition is fascinating itself, but when you add to it our field teams going out into jungles or under lakes to find out what our data might be pointing to … it’s a wild ride!

M&C: Given your expertise, do you think we Earthlings are being cased by ETs biding time until we self destruct or are measurably weaker as a species?

Dr. Michael Livingston: I believe wholeheartedly that there’s intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, but when it comes to the question of that life visiting us, I am absolutely agnostic.

I would say this, though: if we are being visited, it would very likely be on a monitoring basis. Having the technological capability to get here very likely means having the technological capability to wipe us out. And if our own history can be a judge, those with hostile intentions don’t tend to play the long game. If they wanted us gone, we’d probably be gone.

Since we are still here, then, I think any past or current visitations would probably be like our visitations to deep-sea volcanic vents: we go to check it out, not to conquer it.

And that’s how I sleep at night!

M&C: You bring up AATip – at what point does Classified Intel become fair game for anyone to mine? Is there a time limit? Are some records permanently sealed and why does the government limit information- explain that to me as best you can.

Dr. Michael Livingston: The rules governing the publication of classified material are set by the law of the country — we work with a few in this show — and are strictly kept unless legal action can overturn those decisions. In the United States, our freedom of information rights means that the basic classification timer is 25 years.

Exceptions can be made to 50 years. And then again in really rare cases to 75 years. Beyond that is an exceedingly narrow range of secrets, and keeping them means legally defending the needs of the state against the rights of the public.

Nothing is permanently sealed, and everything is subject to review — especially if a member of the public submits a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Put it all together, and keeping big secrets, conspiracy level stuff is very difficult to do.

M&C: The 2004 Nimitz in San Diego incident where the fighter jets engaged an unidentified object in the sky. The video shows an object that takes off, a ship training 70 miles off the coast. Ten objects were seen according to Kevin Mark Day who was on duty, and a fast object was captured on DoD video. Fast and no sonic booms. You estimated it traveled 1350 G’s. Humans can only withstand 8 Gs. Has this object been seen anywhere else to your knowledge?

Dr. Michael Livingston: We have a number of parallel instances to the Nimitz event in terms of what is reported: extraordinary speeds and maneuverability. Some even roughly match the physical description given by the fighter pilots.

What makes the Nimitz event so spectacular for me is that we have military personnel and data from military instrumentation. That’s a lot more material to work with than we usually get!

M&C: What differentiates your investigations from Ancient Aliens or Mysteries Decoded?

Dr. Michael Livingston: Pseudo-science is a destructive force in our society, and that’s what a lot of previous unexplained phenomena shows have been. It’s part of a bigger social problem in which we are losing our ability to shut up and listen to experts. With Google in our pocket, we all think we know the truth, and it just isn’t so.

So what sets Contact apart to me is that it doesn’t do that. We are professionals. We know our fields. And we also know what we don’t know. If we need a video analyzed, we don’t go with our guts or with what fits our preconceptions. We instead get an expert video analyst, and we stick to the data that expert gives us.

M&C: Do you ascribe to the notion that Alien DNA is worked into human DNA based on the Ancient Alien theories? Or, do you think that is completely pseudo-science and fantastical nonsense?

Dr. Michael Livingston: I’m an evidence-based guy, and I’ve not seen a shred of evidence to convince me that this could be so — and a heap of evidence the other way. If anything has alien DNA on this planet, it’s the octopus.

Contact airs on Wednesdays at 10 pm on Discovery and Thursdays at 9 pm on the Science Channel.


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