Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

The Hopkinsville Goblins

with 6 comments

Ah, the Hopkinsville goblin case. This was at the time and still is one of the “great” UFO cases. Great as in popular and well known at the time, and still given great credence by people who believe that UFOs and extraterrestrials regularly visit Earth. Granted unlike Roswell it never became enshrined in popular cultural lore, so many of my readers will never have heard of it. And something interesting that no one has heard of is music to my keyboard so to speak. Enjoy!

So, what happened the night of August 21st 1955? Quite a lot actually, and I’m not going to recount every aspect of it. Two families were staying in a farmhouse in rural Kentucky. At one point in the early evening one of the people went outside to get some water, the house not having indoor plumbing. He saw what he described as a pretty classic UFO, but no one else in the house believed him or even went to look themselves. About an hour later the people in the house began hearing strange noises outside, and the dog began barking wildly. Two men armed themselves and went outside to investigate, the dog hid under the house and stayed there. And then all hell broke loose.

The two men saw two strange humanoid creatures and shot at them to no effect.  They retreated into the house where for the next several hours the people inside saw them through windows and heard them scratching on the roof as if to get in. They claim multiple shots were fired over the course of several hours, none of which had any apparent effect. They finally fled in two cars, driving 30 minutes to the nearest police station. At which point a number of police, state and local, returned to the property. They saw no creatures, but some reported seeing unexplained lights in the sky. And that’s that, to this day the people in the house swear that what they saw was real. What the hell?

The first possibility is that it was simply a hoax that got out of hand. IE they made the story up, it got far more attention than it deserved, so that even the ones who had “just gone along with the fun” were too embarrassed to come clean. Especially if alcohol was involved. I don’t think it can be ruled out, but I don’t think it has ever been proved either. For the purposes of discussion let’s say that hoax is a possibility and move on to other possibilities.

So assuming the people involved really do believe what they experienced was true, is there any way to explain it without resorting to little silver beings? Well, yes. I think panic and active imaginations can explain it. The first guy’s UFO sighting got everyone in the house “primed” so to speak. At the time UFOs were scarier than they are today. Then the other two guys went outside, got thoroughly rattled by whatever they saw, and scared the bejesus out of the rest of the people in the house. The rest followed naturally as frightened people panicked and their imaginations took over. The operative word here being panicked, people don’t think clearly and imagine all sorts of things when they panic, it’s human nature. And their memories of what they imagined can be very real. Now I’m not saying this is the explanation, just that it’s a possible explanation.

So what did the two men see and shoot at originally? Great Horned Owls is the only guess that is worth mentioning. They are about the right size, sometimes aggressively defend their nests, and bear a strong resemblance to the descriptions of the aliens, illustrated above. Granted some find it a very unsatisfying explanation, but it’s more likely than little silver suited aliens!

Do I consider this case “solved” with the assurance that most of the skeptics seem to evince? No, of course not. There really isn’t any evidence besides the narratives of the people involved, which pretty much limits us to possible explanations. And likely the story will remain unsolved, at this point I think if it was a hoax some or all of the participants would have fessed up. These people really do believe they saw something strange that night, and unless a flying saucer lands and apologetic aliens pop out to beg forgiveness from the family they scared back in 1955, that’s as far as I am going to go in terms of reaching a conclusion.

What I will do is try to find similar cases where panicked people did indeed see things they imagined, I know I have so it shouldn’t be too hard. Suggestions welcome.

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been produced by a Federal employee in the course of his duties. In this case by Pfc. Gary F. Hodson of the 101st Airborne Division, who interviewed some of the witnesses after the encounter. Frankly I find the resemblance to an owl rather uncanny.)


Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

6 Responses

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  1. Kids with some kind of “Captain America” masks maybe? Cool post!


    June 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    • Well, the problem with that it is hard to imagine pranksters sticking around after their victims started shooting at them. Still, maybe it was pranksters to begin with, and after they fled the victim’s imaginations took over. Odd case to be sure.


      June 22, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  2. Yes I’m quite sure nobody ever heard of the case because IT IS BULLSHIT!! Now if you will excuse me I have some bears fighting in my front yard (!!!!!!!)
    In Florida???


    June 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

  3. There are several strange occurrences that seem to lend credibility to the story though, like the officer reporting the strange lights even before he knew what was going on.

    I’m sure there’s a rational explanation though – it’s just beyond me what it might be. It’s always fun to entertain the idea of a real close encounter though.


    June 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

  4. […] comments on The Hopkinsville Goblin case were fairly typical. Most of them grasped what I was saying, the case has a certain amount of basic […]

    • The drawing supposedly made by “Pfc. Gary F. Hodson of the 101st Airborne Division” is questionable, since there is no US Military or US Government source it can be traced to for verification. Most likely it is one of the many drawings created by newspapers of the era who jumped on the bandwagon when the story became popular in the press.


      March 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

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