Men in Black

The phrase Men in Black refers to mysterious men wearing black suits and sunglasses. Witnesses of UFOs and other seemingly unexplainable events say these men show up after a reported UFO incident, demanding to be given any physical evidence that these events took place and threateningly advising witnesses to keep quiet about what they have seen. In many such encounters, the Men in Black claim to be government agents and display badges or official-looking documents; they are usually said to drive black cars, usually Cadillacs, or arrive in black helicopters.

Some witnesses say that the Men in Black have an odd, somewhat foreign style of speaking and that their skin does not look human. Consequently, some people have suggested that the men are really aliens masquerading as humans. Others believe that they are humans working with the aliens and/or the U.S. government to conceal alien activities on Earth. Still others suggest that the Men in Black are part of a plan—developed by either the government or a skeptics organization—to make anyone who reports a UFO sighting seem crazy. Under this theory, when someone who has reported seeing a UFO later claims to have been threatened by the Men in Black, people will doubt not only the Men in Black story but the UFO one as well.

Perhaps the first Men in Black story— considered by ufologists to be typical of all accounts—appeared in 1947 after Harold A. Dahl of Maury Island, Washington, reported seeing six UFOs flying over the waters of Puget Sound. Dahl claimed that he had photographed the UFOs, but a strange man dressed in black, who Dahl assumed was from the U.S. government or some branch of the military, visited him the next day to confiscate the photographs and demand that he remain silent about what he had seen. Later Dahl claimed to have made this story up, but this was after another part of his story—that some debris on Maury Island had been dumped there by the alien spacecraft—was proved false. (The debris was waste material from the U.S. government’s plutonium processing plant at Hanford, Washington.) Shortly thereafter, however, Dahl changed his story yet again, saying he had only claimed his UFO story was a lie because he feared for his life.

At some point Dahl told a ufologist, Alfred K. Bender, about what had happened. In 1953 Bender—who was the founder of a group called the International Flying Saucer Bureau and published a newsletter called the Space Review for UFO enthusiasts—said that he too had been visited by Men in Black and that they had warned him to keep quiet about this and other UFO-related events. In 1962 Bender published a book called Flying Saucers and the Three Men, in which he talked about the mysterious strangers who had visited him.

Skeptics dismiss stories such as Bender’s, saying that he made his story up to gain publicity. Meanwhile, some psychologists, such as John A. Keel, have said that the Men in Black are akin to fairies, demons, and other beings from folklore and might therefore be the product of enchantment. (Keel has developed an elaborate theory based on the concept that otherworldly beings, perhaps from another dimension, are enchanting human beings.) But believers in the Men in Black point out that on a few occasions, police have reported seeing unmarked black vehicles at sites related to UFO sightings or outside the homes of UFO witnesses, and such witnesses continue to say they have been visited by the Men in Black.


  • Black Helicopters
  • Government cover-ups and conspiracy theories
  • Hoaxes and frauds
  • John A.Keel


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning