Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dear Reader

This blog has been on pause while I fixed up my house to sell and made the big move of 8.5 miles.  Now the dust has settled and more posts will be forthcoming.  When I'm not busy investing UFOs and paying the mortgage, I am working on a fantasy novel series.  The first book in the series, Elothir and the City of Shadows, will soon be published as an eBook.  You may read the first chapter free here.  In the meantime, catch my interview on the EPIC (Extraordinary Phenomena Investigation Council) Voyages Show Monday, January 16, around 6:30 PST on the Inception Radio Network.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ET & God

One does not wade far into the tricky currents of ufology before theological questions begin to arise. Who are the strange intelligences that ply our skies in gravity defying craft? To our enfeebled minds, they seem like gods. Or demons come to snatch our bodies, our souls, in the dead of night.

Some have observed that the study of UFOs bears elements of a spiritual quest. Close encounters with craft of apparent non-human origin evoke the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Are those of us who study UFOs not like Parsifal searching for the Holy Grail of alien implants and unearthly technology? Or Phaeton who longed ride his father’s golden chariot across the sky? Or perhaps like Faust who traded his soul for a chance to fathom the world’s deepest mysteries? For it is the mystery that drive us — an almost primal longing to answer questions that some have said will be illuminated only when we die.

History tells us that mixing ufology and religion can end badly. Think of Heaven’s Gate where thirty-eight follower of self-proclaimed prophet, Marshall Applewhite, ingested phenobarbital washed down with applesauce and vodka in order to launch their souls to the mother ship hiding behind Comet Hale-Bopp. This mass suicide serves as a warning to those who would hitch their salvation to a theology cobbled together from contactee stories and white-robed space brothers mixed in a new age blender.

The darker aspects of ufology have led some religious thinkers to label to the entire phenomenon as demonic. Indeed, the classic alien abduction scenario — essentially a kidnapping with medical experimentation, extraction of sperm and ova and occasional interspecies sexual liaisons — does seem to traffic in the diabolical. Deception too — one of the hallmarks of the devil — is rife in the contact literature. However, it is important to keep in mind that Satan does not have a monopoly on deception, which seems to be alive and well in human affairs, frequently employed in business and war. And what sort of demon would hover over a major airport in broad daylight, shadow a commercial cargo jet carrying French wine across Alaska, or turn off the guidance and control systems of nuclear missiles?

Artwork by Bradford Evans: I dreamed I was a Bird in Flight

One can see echoes of the spiritual quest too in the contemporary fascination with the paranormal. The past decade has witnessed a high tech renaissance of spiritualism where adepts of the invisible gather in abandoned hospitals or morgues armed not with crystal balls and séance tables but EMF meters and digital camcorders. Many ufologists who start out as ‘nuts and bolts’ scientists eventually become impressed with the paranormal elements. One can see this trajectory in the careers of J. Allen Hynek and more recently, Ted Phillips. From a recognition of the paranormal, it is a short step to spirituality. Dancing orbs and singing lights aside, this is not necessarily an uplifting spirituality, but one that both terrifies and amazes, confuses and delights, and places one in a relationship with something that seems wholly other.

The god of UFOs is a trickster, who moves like quicksilver before our grasp. We look up in awe at the mercurial lights as our ancestors must have watched lightning and pictured a powerful deity pummeling the earth with fiery bolts.

As we gaze into the dark portal of the night sky, our faculty of reason may be challenged but must not be thrown aside. As we confront the limits of understanding let’s not abandon the attempt to comprehend. For reason and discernment grounds us as we approach the unknown with trembling and wonder.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Navigating Ambuity & Novelty

It’s shortly before 2 a.m., and the night is still young. Amaleen and her boyfriend (all witness names have been changed to protect their privacy) are cruising east along Highway 198. The sky is clear — the sort of night when you gaze up at the stars and see God staring back at you. Except they aren’t looking for God. They’re aiming for the slots at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino.

As they come over a rise, the couple see an aircraft in the distance crisscrossing the highway. At first, they think it’s an airplane. Then her boyfriend says it’s a helicopter. Amaleen isn’t sure. As they close the remaining distance, the strangely lit craft turns and bears straight toward them, its six brilliant lights up front burning a hole in the night sky. Terrified, Amaleen jams her foot on the gas pedal. At the last moment, the aircraft veers up and misses them by just a few feet. Amaleen described it as a giant wing the length of two tractor trailers parked end-to-end. “I could have reach out and touched it,” she tells me later, still shaken by the encounter. The strange thing was, the aircraft made no sound. Nor was there any wind.

* * *

Fourteen-year-old Jacob, his friend and brother are tramping through the woods at night in Newberg, Oregon. Suddenly, Jacob and his friend spot a strange creature, about four feet high, running through the woods with long, hopping strides. The skinny creature has a pelt of short, dark hair and runs on two legs like a person.

* * *

One summer night I am setting up my tent on a remote hillside in Northwestern Nevada. Earlier this evening, driving north out of Winnemucca, I saw a couple lightning flashes in the distance. But here on this deserted bluff, the air is dry and the sky studded with stars. I wrestle the last set of poles into position and step back from my tent. It feels good to have shelter in this desolate place off a jeep road in middle of God-knows-where. The engine cooling in the night air crackles gently over the soft chirr of cicadas. Then I see something that defies understanding.

A golden ball of yellow light dances above the ground a dozen or so feet away. I watch for a moment, mesmerized, as the light bobs and weaves through the air like a firefly that’s lost its blinker. Tinkerbell. A smile forms on my lips as I recall the Disney movie. As I step toward it, the light recedes from me. I back away, and it follows, lingering about fifteen feet away. Do you believe in faeries? Not before this night, I say, talking to myself as travelers in the desert often do.

* * *

Gestalt psychology tell us that perceiving is an interpretive act. In part, this is because most situations present us with incomplete data. Is the person on the bus flirting with me or just being friendly? The mind fills in the blanks based on prior knowledge and/or expectation. In Gestalt psychology, this act of forming a perception out of incomplete information is called closure or closing the Gestalt.

Many of our interpretations are so instantaneous as to be indistinguishable from perception. I do not hear a high pitched noise of varying pitch and frequency; I hear a bird singing outside my window. However, when faced with novel situations, the interpretive component of perception may become more self aware. In either case, perception involves active mental engagement and construction.

One challenge for UFO witnesses — and those who interview them — is teasing out the interpretations embedded in perception. When confronted with novel or ambiguous stimuli, witnesses react in a few different ways. They may avoid closing the Gestalt, retreating into confusion — or perhaps embracing the ambiguity. Or they may come up with a novel explanation. The stranger looking at me on the bus must be the government agent who has been reading my mail. In some cases, the perceiver dismisses the novelty altogether by forcing the unknown stimulus into a conventional box. That couldn’t have been a UFO — it must have been a weather balloon. (At a conceptual level, this is the preferred method of UFO debunkers who interpret every UFO sighting in terms of mundane phenomena.)

A witness or an investigator who is primed to see a UFO — because of past experience and interest or even a need to believe — can be equally subject to interpretive bias. I have observed this on numerous occasions with those who mistake visually impressive Iridium satellite flares for UFOs ‘powering up.’

Let’s return now to the three cases that began this entry.

Amaleen was quite sincere when she told me that what she saw that night on the way to the casino was a giant wing. She perceived and described some classic features of a UFO, including the lack of wind and sound. However, upon further digging and a tip from a third party, I concluded that what she and her companion most likely saw was a crop-dusting helicopter, which tend to fly in the middle of the night because of the lack of winds (and perhaps to avoid alarming vehicles on the highway).

When teenage Jacob described the strange creature he saw in the woods, he seemed to avoid assumptions and snap judgments. He was a keen observer who described the exotic animal in fine detail. Nonetheless, at some level, Jacob must have intuited that the creature he saw was a cryptoid, since he reported it to UFOs Northwest. Here again a tip from the public seemed to close the Gestalt toward a conventional explanation. A Newberg resident reported that wallabies had escaped a pet store and were seen in the wild. Like Scully, I was perhaps a bit too ready to embrace this explanation. (Many wallabies are known to go feral, Mulder.) But then I contacted the one pet shop in Newberg. They informed me that they hadn’t sold wallabies in a couple years. Nor had they received any reports of escaped wallabies — except for some that had escaped from their owner a couple years ago and had already been caught. So this sighting remains unresolved.

* * *

Ten minutes after the faery light blinks out, I hear the crunch of tires on gravel as a vehicle skirts the hill on which I am camped. The light that danced with me atop the bluff was a truck headlight jogging up and down a jeep road miles away.

Or was it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

JFK, WikiLeaks & UFO Disclosure

In the strange, parallel world of ufology, mention JFK and UFOs in the same sentence, and one immediately thinks of the alleged plan by JFK to publicly reveal U.S. Government knowledge about UFOs shortly before his death. In one Majestic 12 document, JFK asks the CIA director to turn over all “unknowns” to NASA, presumably in preparation for a wider disclosure. For some of you, Marilyn Monroe may spring to mind — the notion put forward by Donald Burleson and others that the movie star may have been murdered over her threat to reveal pillow talk that included, among other secrets, stories about recovered alien bodies and technology.

Granted, these are not allegations for the faint of heart — nor for those of limited imagination. What I have in mind, however, is a different sort of connection. Think of the following as a thought experiment.

A recent historical epoch offers a possible template for UFO disclosure. During the glasnost period in the late 1980’s, UFO censorship in the former Soviet Union began to ease. The Berlin Wall came down, and a treasure trove of closely held secrets flowed into the West. Former Soviet officers came forward with sober-eyed stories of UFOs hovering over ICBM silos and fighter jets scrambled. Scholars tell us that the old power structures of the Soviet Union collapsed because the country was broke. Following this line of logic, might it take an event that shakes the U.S. power structure to the core to bring about UFO disclosure?

Wait a minute? Isn’t the U.S. slouching toward bankruptcy?  The Fed printing greenbacks like a manic suburbanite on a shopping spree?  Indeed, the parallels with the last days of the USSR are striking — including a protracted war in that destroyer of armies, Afghanistan. (Remember, this is a thought experiment.)

You might be wondering how JFK ties in. In a second disclosure scenario, the government doesn’t collapse — only the relevant intelligence agencies. For instance, a whistleblower comes forward and reveals the full and nasty tale of how the cold warriors of the CIA masterminded the slaying of a president in order to save the world from Communism. This is not such a radical idea. The essence of this narrative has been well documented in several excellent books and films, a recent example of which is the magisterial work by James Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. The point here is that a crisis that shatters the credibility and moral standing of the CIA could also shake loose UFO secrets.

One problem, however, is that the above crisis has already occurred, and ET skeletons did not spill out of the proverbial closet. I am referring to the Church Committee’s investigation of the illegal activities of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in the mid 1970’s. During that epoch we learned all about assassination plots, illegal spying on American citizens, and MKULTRA mind control experiments. Yet, even these shocking revelations did not precipitate UFO disclosure.

Is this because UFO secrecy has been privatized, as argued persuasively by Richard Dolan? Or could it be that in the wake of the Condon Committee’s report, the government did in fact get out of the UFO business — in which case, the black vault whose lost treasures are being sought by the disclosure movement is filled with cobwebs and rat droppings but, alas, no alien technology.

In sum, if the U.S. economy does not collapse, the U.S. government does not undergo perestroika, and a UFO glasnost does not break out in the so called ‘land of freedom,’ then who will provide the key to the black vault?

In the face of the failed attempts to breach the government’s wall of secrecy, I turn to WikiLeaks as a possible model. Might there be a Private Manning sitting at a terminal somewhere in the black project world of alien bodies, infinite energy and reverse technology?

If so, Private X, your country needs you.*

(*Two figures who took a crack at filling the role of Private X were UK Hacker Gary McKinnon and Area 51 scientist Bob Lazar. Yet, the conspiracy of UFO silence seems to remain intact.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

There Be Time Travelers

Professor Ronald Mallett, an African-American theoretical physicist, has been working hard on developing a time machine.  When he was ten years old, his 33-year-old father and center of his universe died from a heart attack.  After reading a comic book version of H.G. Wells, The Time Traveler, Mallett began a lifelong quest to turn back the clock in order to save his father.  His ingenious device, based on ideas that flow from Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, would employ a circulating laser beam to create a closed time-like curve, hence time travel.  While other physicists have criticized his ideas, Mallett nonetheless believes that time travel will be possible during this century.

Guided by early UFO research and the memes of Hollywood movies, most people tend to think of UFO occupants as hailing from other worlds.  Whether they be city destroying cage fighters or intergalactic Mother Theresas, we have come to see the others as truly alien.  Nonetheless, a compelling argument can be made that their origin lies closer to home.

            In Visitors from Time, Marc Davenport presents abundant evidence that UFO occupants are, in fact, time travelers.  Consider that a time machine in many respects is indistinguishable from a spaceship.  Since the Earth orbits the Sun at 67,000 miles/hour, if a time traveler jumps forward or back  a day within her self-contained space-time field, the time machine will be observed to jump 1.6 million miles as seen from a vantage point on Earth — or over six times the distance from the Earth to the moon.  In his book, Davenport correlates several aspects of the UFO phenomena to time-bending, Doppler effects, including: 

  • Color spectrum shifts commonly seen in nighttime sightings
  • Car engines dying and lights going out — then automatically restarting or turning on when the UFO passes, which Davenport says could be attributed to a dramatic slowing of the electrical energy
  • The absence of sound in proximity to a UFO, as sound waves are stretched or compressed beyond the range of human audition

I cannot do justice to the wealth of Davenport’s evidence and reasoning here, and I refer you to his seminal work.  But what excites me about the notion of time travelers is how the physical evidence lines up with what UFO witnesses and abductees actually say.

Budd Hopkins’ concept of ‘missing time’ has entered the cultural vernacular.  This idea arose from Hopkins’ observation that witnesses who had experienced close encounters with UFOs often reported gaps in their memory.  In one well-known case, Travis Walton disappeared from the White Mountains of Northern Arizona after being knocked unconscious by a beam of blue-green light from a hovering disk.  When he showed up five days later, Walton thought that only hours had passed.

In another case which I helped investigate, a woman saw a brilliant white light while driving in a snowstorm on a lonely Wisconsin highway.  When she woke up in her car a day and half later, she was hundreds of miles away from the place where she passed out.  Moreover, her gas tank was still full, but there were no gas receipts — a relevant detail since she was a stickler for saving gas receipts.  She had no recollection of the previous day and a half.

Marc Davenport points out that those in close proximity to a time traveling UFO will participate in the temporal field of the craft.  Within the UFO’s altered time frame, minutes may pass, while outside hours — or even days — may elapse.  This altered time sense seems to find an echo in the oft reported comment by close encounter witnesses that time seems to stand still.  While this may be attributed to an altered mental state, it could also approximate literal truth. 

(Photo by Bradford Evans, "Light Tunnel")

UFO occupants may be no more trustworthy then your average politician, but it is interesting to note that time travel often comes up in what they say and do.  Abductee Betty Andreasson told author Raymond Fowler, “Time to them is not like our time . . . they can reverse time.”  In the famous Rendlesham Forest case — the so called, British Roswell — Staff Sergeant Jim Penniston recalled receiving a message from a landed UFO outside RAF Woodbridge, indicating that the occupants were time travelers from the future who had come for our DNA.  According to John Keel, one fairly credible witness in the Point Pleasant Mothman case was approached by some rather strange looking men who asked her repeatedly, “What is your time?” 

Elsewhere I have noted the apparent preoccupation with our DNA and the future of the planet — which makes perfect sense if you are human descendants and your DNA needs to be restored.  While this body of evidence does not prove that UFO occupants are time travelers from the future, I believe that it makes a good case. 

Of course, there are objections to the very notion of time travel — especially into the past.  One objection has to do with the massive amounts of energy required.  Physicist Michio Kaku has pointed out that while Einstein’s equations allow for a time machine, to drive it would require harvesting the energy of a planet or a star.  The energy to power a single time machine would be vast, let alone to power the sheer number of UFOs observed. 

Then there are the paradoxes generated by travel into the past.  You may have heard of the conundrum created by going back and preventing your own parents from meeting — a metaphysically awkward situation that can be remedied by suggesting that altering the past creates a parallel universe in which your parents did not meet and you were not born. 

I don’t know whether the UFOs denizens are future human time travelers, interdimensional bar hoppers or cosmic joyriders hitching a ride from the Pleiades.  Recently, I was thinking about these matters while strolling along Halifax’s picturesque waterfront.  A young man, a perfect stranger approached me, and, since I was taking pictures of the boats, this became our point of departure. 
“Photography conveys a sense of peace and calm,” he says.
“Yes,” I say.  “It’s like stopping time.”
His eyes seem to fill with a strange light as he says, “Time does not exist. Time is an illusion.”

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I often think that those who pit SETI against ufology are setting up a false dichotomy.  The whole debate seems to be more a clash of egos than a serious argument between irreconcilable views.  Both ufologists and SETI scientists zealously defend their turf, not acknowledging how much they actually have in common.  SETI scientists, while otherwise astute, seem glibly dismissive of the vast body of UFO evidence.  At the same time, ufologists wedded to ETH seem equally dismissive, as if SETI scientists were harnassing the Arecibo telescope to search for prairie dogs in Wyoming.  Yet, so long the extraterrestrial origins of the strange disks that ply our skies eludes us, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence elsewhere in the universe seems like a noble calling.

Nonetheless, there are compelling scientific arguments against the probable success of a program like SETI.  Recent observers have pointed out that with the advent of the digital age, the old analogue signals of the past are going silent.  Even Frank Drake, founder of the SETI project, has sounded a note of pessimism here.  “If we are the model for the universe, that is bad news.”

A more powerful argument against SETI points to the rapid decay of broadband signals, namely radio and television signals leaking from Earth.  In other words, in spite of its brilliantly creative evocation in the film, Contact, the broadcast of Hitler’s opening declaration at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is not making its way to Vega.  In fact, only directed, narrowband signals would be detectable by even the world’s largest radio telescopes.  In other words, in order for a program like SETI to be successful, ET would have to phoning Earth.  

(Photo by Bradford Evans, Hat Creek Radio Telescopes )

I tend to think of dreams as portraying psychological realities, reflecting the preoccupations, conflicts and unlived aspirations of the dreamer.  However, occasionally a dream will arise that seems to carry an objective message.  (Many examples of this have been reported in the biographies of scientists and artists, such chemist Friedrich August Kekulé’s dream of a snake biting its own tale, which suggested the structure of the Benzene molecule.)  Consider the following segment from a recent dream of mine.  A secret scientific group is altering and enhancing the mind of one of its star subjects so that she can better detect alien intelligence.  As I pondered the meaning of this image, I thought about the debate between ufology and SETI.

Both sides of the SETI vs. ufology debate share in common a belief in the physical nature of extraterrestrial reality.  When extraterrestrials aren’t busy darting around the sky in exotically powered craft, they are beaming out signals with terra-watt transmitters.  According to this narrative, when we finally meet them face to face — either on Vega or on the White House Lawn — all our science will change and the encounter will usher in a new age of free energy and easy space travel or perhaps utter subjugation.  

However, for a moment, let’s strip away the material superstructure of this shared utopian/dystopian vision and pose the provocative question:  what is the most sensitive detector we have?  The answer that came to me after the dream was — the human mind.  With its hundred billion neurons and hundred trillion synapses, the human brain is both the most complex system in the known universe and an apparent vehicle for glimpsing alien realities.  If UFO denizens are not flesh and blood creatures from Vega (or elsewhere), then perhaps our best shot at understanding them is to harness and, indeed, enhance this magnificent and mysterious instrument called the human mind.  If we follow this logic further, then perhaps the most sensitive and eloquent abduction experiencers provide our best window into the alien reality.

On the other hand, maybe unlocking the mystery will require both technology and the fully enabled human imagination and perception — both hard-headed scientists of the SETI and ufology kind to detect extraterrestrials tinkering with warp drive fields and narrowband transmitters — and psychonauts, with enhanced mental capabilities, to uncover the stratagems of metaphysical John and Jane Does, identities unknown, riding the rails of interdimensional space.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aliens Among Us

Last week, as I watched the premiere of NBC’s foray into science fiction, The Event, I found myself squirming at some of the improbabilities — like the president and Secret Service pausing to watch a jet about to slam into the executive party.  Yet, the elements of mystery and intrigue drew me in, as well as the online chatter relating the new series to UFO disclosure.

I do not know what direction the story will take.  However, one scenario that readily suggests itself is that human-alien hybrids are being held in a top secret Alaska base. Understandably, some Americans, including those within the secret government, alarmed at the prospect of alien invasion, will go to any length to prevent the hybrids’ release — even flying a commercial jet into the president, with a nod toward the current heated debate around protecting our borders.

The idea that powerful aliens are walking among us is not a new one.  In Greek mythology, the gods would sometimes show up in human form to test the hospitality and allegiance of their human hosts.  Long before the James Cameron film, Hindu Avatars — incarnations of deities, (most notably, Vishnu) — descended from heaven to Earth, often to smite the wicked and assist the good.  In the Book of Enoch, we have the Watchers — angels dispatched to watch over humans, who succumb to their lust for the daughters of men.  Even the modern idea of the human-alien hybrids is foreshadowed by the Nephilim the offspring of the Watchers and human beings.

This theological background would seem to beg the question:  are human-alien hybrids good or evil?  (The Event seems to be steering toward both sides of this dichotomy.)  In other words, are hybrids here to help us or perhaps to wrest away control of planet Earth, while their pure-bred alien masters enslave or annihilate the human race?  Before we can plunge into that hedge of thorns, a more fundamental question asserts itself.  Are human-alien hybrids even feasible?

I recently asked a Stanford geneticist about the possibility of creating a human-alien hybrid.  He responded that it would be enormously complex, requiring not only a complete mapping of the respective DNA but a complete understanding of the human and alien genome.  Part of the complexity is that traits are the result of many genes, and genes are not neatly organized along the DNA molecules.  One might ask, how would alien DNA be combined with human DNA without giving birth to monsters?  Furthermore, we cannot assume that aliens would even have DNA — unless we embrace the notion that DNA is a universal code for life,  perhaps hitching a ride through the galaxy in bacteria that inhabit interstellar comets or intentionally distributed by an alien race (aka: directed panspermia).

Having cast doubt on the feasibility of human-alien hybrids, now we may step off the diving board of scientific opinion into highly speculative waters.  Hybrids, if they are real, must exist for a reason.  If we follow David Jacobs and others down the path of paranoia (I use the term here descriptively, not diagnostically) then the reason appears to be a quite sinister one.  “The hybrids or the aliens themselves integrate into society and assume control."  (David Jacobs, The THREAT: Revealing the Secret Alien Agenda)

On the other hand, if we take a more optimistic — some would say, pollyannish — view, then a human-alien hybridization program may be preparing us for the next stage of human evolution.  After a century of mass slaughter under the shadow of nuclear Armageddon, one could argue that ETs might be doing us a favor by bioengineering into us greater intelligence and psychic abilities and weeding out aggression.  In fact, some would say that the current program is only the most recent phase of a millions of years old project that started when our hominid ancestors’ brains began their phenomenal growth spurt.  (The prospect of early alien intervention in the human genetic story pushes back in time but does not render moot some of the scientific objections to blending human and alien DNA.)

If an alien race tampered with our DNA in ancient prehistory, then perhaps we are all hybrids, part familiar, part stranger.  Part human, part something we can scarcely imagine.  A being who is alien and mysterious to herself and yet whose future lies clearly in the stars.