Next weekend, Santa Maria will be the place to go for any Santa Barbarans looking for their dose of weirdness – on August 16 and 17, scientists and researchers will descend on our neighbor to the north for the Central Coast Science-UFO Symposium.

Organized by William and Alice Leavy, both former directors of the Santa Barbara and Ventura MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), the symposium aims to foster dialogue between what the symposium’s Web site describes as “academic scientists” and “UFO researchers,” a distinction perhaps only they are qualified to make. The site goes on to say that the event will be “a platform for agreement and disagreement,” although which will dominate the symposium is up for debate.

The UFO research side of the discussion will be led by Master of Ceremonies Dr. Roger Leir, whose regular media appearances in such forums as radio’s Coast to Coast and the SciFi Channel’s Into the Unknown, both hosted by George Noory, have greatly assisted in spreading information about alien abductions, implants, and UFO sightings. Noory himself will also be on hand at the symposium. The event’s keynote speaker is Whitley Strieber, a novelist and victim of alien abduction. His first attempt at nonfiction, Communion: A True Story, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list upon its release in 1987.

It’s obvious that the symposium’s organizers have also devoted considerable time and effort to luring “academic scientists” to the event, but the list of scientific speakers is slanted heavily toward believers. While several presentations will be given by speakers with advanced degrees in physics, astronomy, and other scientific fields, their objectivity is perhaps questionable. All have either appeared on Coast to Coast, pursued research into alien phenomena as a sideline to their more conventional scientific employment at universities or within government organizations, or are affiliated with MUFON.

Whether or not the presenters and attendees of the Central Coast Science-UFO Symposium actually reach a consensus, the event promises to be a smorgasbord of UFO-related activities. Video footage of UFOs, crop circle research, and psychic readings are all on the agenda. In addition, space has been set aside for vendors and exhibitors, who will doubtless be able to supply any extraterrestrial needs.

Anyone interested in attending should register soon, as space is limited at the symposium. As it’s the first one of its kind, it probably will draw a large crowd, especially for the more high-profile speakers. While tickets seem steep at $270, it’s probably barely enough to cover the organizers’ expenses; the event’s been meticulously planned, and no amenities will be lacking. The symposium’s Web site even offers hotel information and a discounted rate for attendees, although details on how to get there are absent.

Given current gas prices and the inconvenience of conventional airport security checks, travel via regularly scheduled saucer flight might be the way to go.

To find out more about the Central Coast Science-UFO Symposium, visit or call either (805) 937-7189 or (877) 937-7UFO. The symposium will be held at the Santa Maria Inn, where discounted rates are available.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.