The Discordian Society has enjoyed a long and perplexing connection with UFOs, dating back to around the time when the Revelation of Eris first lit up Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley’s pineal glands in the late 1950s.
Hill and Thornley from their high school yearbook.
As Greg Hill recalled: “Thru our mutual general interest in wondering just what was going on out there in that gigantic world, and our many common specific interests in Humanism, anti-religionism, an enjoyment for Omar Khayyam, a curiosity for the bizarre like black magic and hypnotism, plus our common warped sense of humor, (Kerry and I) formed a close friendship.”
Some of Greg and Kerry’s first outings together included attending meetings of a flying saucer club (or saucer cult, depending on your perspective) called Understanding Inc. located in El Monte, California not far from where our dynamic Discordian duo grew up in the conservative Orange County enclave of Whittier.
The leader of Understanding was famed UFO Contactee Daniel Fry, who in the late 1940s worked as an explosives technician at the White Sands Proving Ground in Alamogordo, New Mexico. According to legend, it was there on July 4th, 1950 that Fry witnessed what he referred to as an “oblate spheroid” come to a silent landing. Intrigued by the strange craft, Fry passed his hand over the exterior to test its temperature, and a telepathic voice cried out: “Better not touch the hull, pal, it’s still hot!”
Dan Fry (right) and some guy with a gizmo.
After exchanging more telepathic pleasantries with an extraterrestrial named A-lan (pronounced “a-lawn”)—who remotely piloted the “oblate spheroid” from a “mother ship” located some 900 miles above Earth—Fry was whisked away for a quick show-me trip to New York and back in an astounding 30 minutes. In the weeks to follow, Fry was treated to additional trips as A-lan supplied him with a stunning array of knowledge on such subjects as advanced physics and the hidden history of Earth. Fry later recounted these extraterrestrial interactions in The White Sands Incident (1954).
After having all this Universal Wisdom dropped on him, Fry decided to expand his knowledge base even more by receiving a “Doctorate of Cosmism” from Saint Andrew College, a mail order outfit located in London, England that was keen on dispensing doctorates for the right price. Fry later remarked that he was “recognized by many as the best informed scientist in the world on the subject of space and space travel.”
In 1955—armed with all his new found cosmic knowledge—Fry founded Understanding Inc. which would expand to a nationwide network of “study groups” that at its height boasted 1,500 members in several cities in the U.S. According to Saucer Smear editor Jim Moseley, most of these “study groups” were headed by middle-aged ladies with whom Fry—during his many lecture tours across the country—could always find “understanding” and “a warm bed each night.”
From 1956 through 1979, Fry published a monthly newsletter, Understanding, and was prominent on the flying saucer lecture circuit.
In 1972, Fry hooked up with fellow UFO Contactee Gabriel “Gabe” Green to serve as his running mate during Green’s 1972 Presidential run on the Universal Flying Saucer Party ticket, a campaign that was ultimately unsuccessful—at least in this space time continuum. Green—it just so happens—made his home in Whittier, the same youthful stomping grounds of Hill and Thornley, and home to the fabled Brunswick Shrine where they first received The Revelation of Eris.
In 1974, Understanding Inc. was gifted a fifty-five acre property in Tonopah, Arizona by one of Fry’s many aging female admirers, a Mrs. Enid Smith. A couple years later, Fry moved to the Tonopah property and established it as his base of operations. Not long after, an arson fire destroyed the Understanding Inc. library among other buildings at the site. This event—in combination with the dwindling funds in Understanding Inc.’s coffers—signaled the beginning of the end for Fry’s Ufological empire.