Brian O’Leary once was devoted to the exploration of Mars through the NASA Apollo program. But now he seems to be more interested in the “New Age” than the Space Age.

The former astronaut was a recent drop-in at an Indian guru’s ashram, where he went for insights about how “to bring about peace,” reports The Hindustan Times.

O’Leary apparently now likes to orbit Satya Sai Baba, a purported “cult leader” with a sordid history of sex abuse allegations, which at times involved the teenage children of his followers.

Baba is prominently mentioned in O’Leary’s book “The Second Coming of Science.”

But the guru appears more interested in teenage boys than either science or world peace.

While in India O’Leary also met with an advocate of “free energy technology.” This theory is based upon somehow extracting energy from outer space.

However, according to allegations about Baba, the guru has focused upon creating “kundalini” energy within inner space through sex acts. This is probably not the “energy” source O’Leary is searching for.

The former NASA scientist-astronaut has an impressive resume that includes a Ph.D., teaching at Cornell, Princeton, UC Berkely and acting as an advisor to presidential candidates.

But a closer look also reveals that he has been on somewhat strange personal trek that began in the 70s.

According to one interview O’Leary’s journey includes involvement in mass marathon training with a controversial group called Lifespring and a litany of fringe theories about crop circles, “morphic resonance” and UFOs.

The fatuous interviewer referred to O’Leary as a “modern day scientific prophet” who “has tapped into cosmic energy.”

OK. But it looks like this Ph.D. has moved from hard science to something considerably softer, what many might see as “pseudo-science.”

Brian O’Leary certainly has the right to believe and talk about whatever he wants, but it seems the scientist should do more careful research about the gurus he is apparently willing to promote through his work.

Note: Brian O’Leary later denied he recently visited Sai Baba.

Claude Vorihon, now known as “Rael,” achieved religious tax-exempt status in Canada and has done well there. But some Canadians are now apparently questioning that status and his comfy situation near Quebec, reports The National Post.

After all Vorilhon left France with an unpaid tax bill of about $500,000 and was never recognized as a religion there. The only thing the French recognized was that his “cult” was one of the most “dangerous in the world.” Rael was also implicated in “various sex-related charges.”

A French documentary reported the rape of an 11-year-old child within the group.

After leaving France under a cloud Vorihon winged his way to Canada where he soon settled with a core group of followers near Quebec.

Now the Canadian press is questioning how this man was allowed to immigrate and then given religious tax-exempt status, considering his well-documented and troubled history.

Who allowed this and why?

Here are some of the questions now being raised about the man who claims he is the son of an alien being from another planet and his followers, the so-called “Raelians.”

“Does this cult, which requires people to participate in orgies and women to have sex with Vorilhon on demand, break any laws or transgress the rights of individuals or minors?”

“Does the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency know how much money is coming into this charity, how it is obtained and from whom?”

“Do Canadian tax officials audit this organization to assess whether it deserves tax-free status? How was this status obtained? Where does the money go?”

“Is the money used strictly for charitable purposes or is it used to keep the founder in the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed?”

“Does the group’s propaganda contain disclaimers or is the cult allowed to make wild promises about cloning, living forever and extraterrestrials granting eternal life with impunity?”

“Are the children of members of this cult being properly supervised and protected?”

“Are the children of Raelians being properly educated under the law?”

“Isn’t cloning against the law, and if it was undertaken by the cult anywhere, would that constitute grounds to remove its tax-free status in Canada?”

Vorilhon also essentially sponsors himself through “UFO Land” in auto races and drives a costly car. Where does the money to pay for that come from?

Maybe it’s time for another press conference so Rael can answer more questions. But this time he might not like the limelight.

A French official dryly observed, “We’re not very proud of the fact that [Rael] is French.” And some Canadians now fear they are “stuck with him.”

The media is beginning to reflect critically upon the frenzy that surrounded cloning claims made by the Raelian “Sci-fi cult” shortly after Christmas.

It increasingly looks like Claude Vorilhon now known as “Rael” and his acolyte Brigitte Boisselier cynically staged a media event, hoping to cash in on a well-established slow news cycle just after Christmas.

Many within the media hungry for a sensational story were easily and quickly hooked by the duo.

Without any evidence whatsoever Boisselier managed to get 30 uninterrupted minutes for her monologue on CNN. Other news outlets quickly ran with the story, without any meaningful proof or additional sources to verify her outlandish claims.

Eric Lander, Director Whitehead/MIT genome sequencing center in Cambridge, Massachusetts said it is really quite “simple…to verify this claim scientifically,” reports the Washington Post in the story “Cloning a Previous Hoax?” by Rick Weiss (December 31, 2002).

So why didn’t anyone in the media require such proof before running this story?

LA Times reporter Tim Rutten offers some context.

“Consider, for one moment, the objective circumstances: a crackpot cult, whose French founder says he got his marching orders from a space alien, calls a press conference in Miami to announce that a cloned child has been born to an unidentified woman in an unspecified place the day after Christmas,” the reporter jibed within the LA Times in his piece titled, “Cult ‘clones’ a baby! Read (and read) all about it” (January 1, 2003).

Orville Schell, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism summarized the so-called news story about “cloning” succinctly. “This story is a very obvious example of a larger, more worrisome problem, which is that there are a thousand ways every day in which the contemporary media doesn’t know how to make the dignified decision.” Schell concluded, “Everybody associated with the media became a little less dignified.”


And Rael laughed all the way back to “UFO Land,” his Canadian base of operations, the proud recipient of a belated Christmas present from the media. That is, the greatest news bonanza the known publicity hound has ever received.

Don’t expect too much self-analysis and contrition from those who irresponsibly ran with this story. It’s just too embarrassing to admit you’ve been had, and by no less than a “cult leader” and ridiculous buffoon like “Rael.”

There is a subculture within the United States and around the world that accepts the existence of UFOs as a matter of faith—since no meaningful evidence has ever been produced to prove such claims.

UFOs seem to have become the center of a kind of religion, embraced by those who profess their faith in flying saucers and alien visitors from outer space.

But according to the “Mutual UFO Network” or MUFON 2003 is the year their faith will be proven, reports the Charlotte Observer.

Typically such groups blame government conspiracies for “covering up” evidence that would prove their claims, such as the supposed Roswell, New Mexico spacecraft crash and “Area 51.”

However MFON members say, “With all the sightings and information available on the Internet, the government won’t be able to hide the truth much longer.” And there certainly in a growing network of websites maintained by true believers such as MFON.

When claims about “crop circles” were proven to be a hoax, perhaps MUFON saw this as only a test of faith, which they clearly passed.

MFON’s spokesperson insists they are neither a “joke” nor “nuts.”

But to many the behavior of UFO believers often seems eccentric and humorous, though usually harmless.

UFO Groups like “Heaven’s Gate,” led to suicide by Marshall Applewhite, are the very rare exception and not the rule. Typically, joining the UFO subculture seems more like a “license to be weird.”

Almost 30% of Americans believe the existence of life in outer space is more likely than receiving government retirement benefits—to them it appears that Social Security is actually a matter of faith.

A former truck driver who now runs a “cult” in California has proclaimed himself “Buddha Maitreya” and announced on radio that he and the Dalai Lama of Tibet are working together.

Ronald Lloyd Spencer, known to his followers as “Buddha Maitreya,” says that he and the Dalai Lama will soon be “sitting on throne seats next to each other.” Spencer runs “therapy and retreat centers” in Mt. Shasta, California and Omaha, Nebraska.

He made these and other bizarre claims on his radio shows, which are broadcast in the Bay area of San Francisco on 1450 KFST FM, KNRY 1240 AM in Santa Cruz and in Omaha on KKAR Talk. His official website the so-called “Tibetan Foundation” contains material about his group and events.

However, it seems that Mr. Spencer is a liar.

A former secretary who served His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is now at Stanford University said the would-be Buddha’s claims are “totally untrue and baseless.” Secretary Tenzin Geyche Tehton added that what Spencer says concerning the Dalai Lama is “totally nonsense” and simply “rubbish.”

But visit the self-proclaimed Buddha’s website you may see him being crowned and read grandiose claims about his abilities and authority.

It seems Mr. Spencer collects donations for “lifesaving assistance,” which may explain how he managed to arrange various photo ops to show supporters and to post at his website.

However, according to those who know “His Holiness Buddha Maitreya” as just Ron, his sordid past includes theft, sexual abuse, fraud and “brainwashing.” One of his victims referred to him as little more than a “con man.”

Spencer may say that donations “help in the restoration of [Tibetan] monasteries,” but you won’t find a detailed and independently audited financial statement on his website, to demonstrate dollar-for-dollar how the money is spent.

One former Spencer confidant observed, “I pity the poor monasteries that cannot possibly have the slightest hint about how he is using them.”

Spencer also sells an array of pricey metaphysical contraptions and amulets, some supposedly designed for “etheric healing.” He claims, “all profit from sales is donated to Tibetan monastery renovations and sponsorship of exiled Tibetans.”

Ron Spencer staffs his “Soul Therapy and Shambhala Retreat Centers,” largely with Americans he calls “monks.” These devotees manufacture the contraptions he hawks, but often receive little more than room and board.

Of course the “monks” do benefit from the spiritual teachings of their “Buddha,” an eclectic mix of “New Age” beliefs that includes everything from the “Archangel Michael” to the “Lost Continent of Atlantis.” Spencer even promotes theories about UFOs.

However, these are certainly not doctrines His Holiness the Dalai Lama would recognize.

Moreover, though Spencer’s monks may be celibate their “Buddha” is not. He has been divorced, remarried and has children. And this “Buddha Maitreya” also has a history of recreational drug use and is a hemp enthusiast.

Well, it’s a free country and as they say, “Whatever floats your boat.” But it seems Spencer’s sailing shouldn’t be subsidized by trading on the respected name of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

A new film “Signs” released this month with Mel Gibson is based upon a modern myth. Farmers and assorted pranksters created a virtual subculture based upon “crop circles” they created beginning in the early 80s. Some of these jokers later confessed, but a cult following developed based upon the hoax never the less.

Today despite research, which has proven the best evidence cited by believers is false; they persist in their theories about the origin of these “signs” and even network on the Internet. Some typical claims are that these crop circles are linked to UFOs, energy vortexes, ancient religious sites and an assortment of supernatural phenomenon.

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s who directed “The Sixth Sense,” based his latest movie, “Signs” upon this fanciful myth. And of course he chose the most sensational explanation, which is that crop circles are actually signposts to guide aliens from outer space. He uses this premise to put his characters through an interesting series of trials and an ultimate test of faith. The film has stimulated interest in crop circles and no doubt fueled the cult following of this contemporary mythology.