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 KekulĂ©’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. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Childhood's End

Most days I think of the UFO enigma as a captivating mystery to be solved.  Yet, in more vulnerable moments, the possibility of a hostile extraterrestrial presence fills me with dread.  It’s the sort of dread that grips you like a boa constrictor, what I felt in the opening moments of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds when the working class, New Jersey neighborhood is blasted by unearthly lightning.  And later, when the strange, stilted insects marched through the New York countryside, excreting rivers of blood. 

Once or twice I have known such fear.  One time I was lying on a beach by Lake Michigan when a violent storm wrested me from deep sleep.  I grabbed what I could of my possessions and beat a path for my fire-engine red Pontiac Catalina, where I spent one of the most unsettling nights in memory.  Another time I thought I had been kidnapped by an Islamic terrorist.  I had just left the Giza plateau and was trying to get to nearby metro, when suddenly I found myself hurling at breakneck speed down the freeway toward Cairo, unable to communicate with the taxi driver who spoke harshly to me and seemed to glare through the rear-view mirror.  It turned out to be a misunderstanding, a product of the language barrier and an unfortunate projection of the current American nightmare.
As a writer I am interested not only in understanding the UFO mystery, but also plumbing human reactions to events that amaze and frighten us.  The magnificently eerie cloud over Moscow and the calving mother ship over Mexico in the videos below evoke not only a sense of profound amazement, but - in the right mood - make us fall to our knees in prayer.  The prospect of alien invasion, with its Hollywood spectacle of high tech horror, is a Darwinian nightmare of unparalleled proportions.  But what about the sense of loss that would come when the vanity of human superiority is suddenly put to an end?  Arthur C. Clark captured this feeling with the title of his classic novel, Childhood’s End.  In the present scenario, childhood does not end by anointment and wonder.  It ends with rupture and loss.

Perhaps the discovery of a superior alien intelligence would be the next step in a dethronement process that began when Copernicus threw the Earth into orbit around the Sun.  This should not alarm us, for a species that murders its own kind over ideas and resources and destroys its natural habit could use a dose of humility.  Maybe, when our collective childhood ends, we will see each other, not as rivals, but as living souls who share a unique and wondrous planet.

Yet, who does one pray to when God appears in spinning disks manned by black-eyed, spindly-limbed creatures with bulbous heads?  And who will hold our hands as the magnificent ladders we have been erecting for forty thousand years collapse without a sound?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Journey to the Dark Side

The closing event at the recent MUFON conference in Denver was a speakers’ panel.  I was standing in line when the young man ahead of me stepped up to the microphone.  After expressing appreciation for the speakers’ contributions, he proceeded to ask a most provocative question.  “I take issue with the term visitors”, he said.  “Visitors knock on the front door and you let them in.”  The so-called visitors and humankind, he went on to say, are in direct competition.  The implication was clear — when two species compete for the same resources, only one wins. 
A silence fell over the meeting hall.  It was as if the ghost of J. Allen Hynek had walked across the stage.

The young man’s question slithered through a dark recess of my mind as I flew back across the Rockies and the vast emptiness of the Great Basin.  Why are the visitors here?  What do they want?  Does their presence offer us an opportunity?   Or do we stand in their way?   

The narratives of alien abduction paint a discomforting picture.  Unwilling ‘victims’ taken from misty fields, stalled cars or dark bedrooms in the dead of night . . . awakening on surgical tables surrounded by gray, unfeeling doctors.  This is not the behavior of enlightened, benevolent space brothers.  And there are darker intimations too.  Stories of cows or horses being drawn up in beams of light then dropped in secluded areas with their eyes, udders and reproductive organs surgically removed.  Their bodies drained of blood.  Scavenging animals, it is said, won’t go near the carcasses, as if they are contaminated or cursed.   

(Photo by Mugley, Alien Inferno)


Fortunately, serious human injuries and deaths in relation to contact with UFOs are rare.  Two well-known exceptions are the Cash-Landrum incident and the chupas of Parnarama, Brazil.  Betty Cash and Vickie and Colby Landrum were driving through the wooded Texas countryside at night when they came upon a diamond-shaped UFO hovering at treetop level.  The object was expelling flame below it like rocket exhaust.  Later, all three experienced nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  Betty Cash, who had spent the most time outside the car, was hospitalized with burns and other symptoms of what appeared to be ionizing radiation.  She never fully recovered her health.  


Jacques Vallee recounts the story of Parnarama, in his book, Confrontations. In this remote region of Brazil, flying boxlike UFOs shot local hunters with painful beams of light.  Reportedly, at least five people died from their injuries.  A similar case on Colares Island near Belem in 1977 was extensively documented by the Brazilian Air Force.  


The Cash-Landrum incident may well have been due to experimental military aircraft, since the UFO was later seen in the company of Chinook helicopters.  However, in the Parnarama and Colares Island cases there are no similar indications.  Close contact with UFOs in other cases have led to radiation burns.  Therefore, if a UFO lands in your backyard, I suggest that you grab your camera — but use the telephoto setting.  Close interaction with alien craft can be hazardous to your health.


When asked about the prospect of an interplanetary war, some ufologists offer the staid reassurance that after at least sixty plus years of contact Independence Day has not come to pass.  Ufonauts haven’t turned off the planet’s electrical grid or blasted the White House into confetti.  If the visitors intend to do us harm, their methods and aims are more subtle than a full frontal attack.  


Unlike the Texas case, in which Betty Cash and her friends found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, the chupas of Parnarama and the island of Colares stand out in the UFO literature as rare examples of unprovoked, intentional harm to humans.  In abduction accounts, the visitors conduct their business with clinical detachment.  Indeed, they seem puzzled by if not a bit envious of human emotion.  If we can find the semblance of morality in their wan reassurances spoken telepathically, we must also note that calming their terrified subjects is certainly self-serving.  Yet, such palliatives suggest an at least rudimentary grasp of human psychology, which is not surprising given that fear is the most universal of emotions, wired to the instinct of self-preservation.


The young man is right — the visitors do not knock on the front door.  They magically appear at the foot of the bed.  They approach as we are walking or driving down a lonely road.  Or even in a well-populated suburb.   Close encounters of the Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs kind tell us that the visitors want something, and they are willing to take it without asking.  If we are to find a ray of hope in this parasitic gloom, it is that visitors need us.  They need our sperm and our ova.  They need our DNA, presumably because theirs is defective.  Perhaps they even need our souls. 


The lingering question then becomes — what happens when they don't need us anymore?

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Intriguing Case . . .

The most common UFO report I receive is about strange lights in the sky. The lights are often of multiple and/or shifting colors. Sometimes the lights will move in patterns that defy the behavior of conventional aircraft or satellites, such as making right angle turns or ‘crazy’ loops. Sometimes they will blink out and then reappear in another part of the sky. While these cases are interesting, they are so frequent that it may be difficult to derive new information from them about the nature of UFOs.

The more interesting cases involve what J. Allen Hynek, former chairman of astronomy at Northwestern University and father of scientific ufology, called close encounters of the first, second or third kind. Consider the case of Stephanie (witness names in this blog will be changed to protect their privacy) who related the following set of experiences.

Stephanie was tending to her horses one morning when she noticed a thin, rectangular, metallic object across the fenced-in pasture. The object puzzled her, since she was the only one who used the pasture. Even more perplexing — the object had no apparent means of support. In fact, it seemed to be floating in the air. When relating the story to me, Stephanie couldn’t comprehend why she didn’t go over to take a closer look at the hovering object, which would have been her natural impulse.

Later that afternoon, Stephanie returned to the property where she ran into Miguel, the ranch hand who had worked there for many years. Miguel pointed out that her horses were acting strangely, as if they were scared of something. He went on to say that he had seen a metal object in the pasture that looked like a feeder except it was moving up and down and side-to-side. A grounded and dependable man, Miguel was clearly upset by what he had seen. He told Stephanie, “I don’t think it’s from here” — meaning, not from Earth.

 (Photo by Carl Jones, Black & White Horses)

Stephanie reported several other anomalous encounters too. Among these was a sighting in the late 1980’s of two barbell shaped craft larger than 747’s, floating above the trees outside her house. The flying barbells seemed familiar to her and made her feel happy. On another occasion, a strange beam of light danced along the dashboard of her car, making her dog “go crazy.” The way she described these events indicated that Stephanie had a personal, even spiritual, relationship with the source of these events. She confided to me that she wasn’t sure if they were aliens or spiritual beings.

Her curiosity inflamed, one night before retiring to bed Stephanie asked these beings to show themselves so that she could know who they were. Later that night she awoke to see her tabby cat sitting just outside the window across the room. Above the cat was an egg-shaped, golden orb. Stephanie’s thought was, “It’s heard me and it’s telling me that everything is okay.” Upon hearing this story, I wondered if it was a moving dream incubated by her attempt to summon the source of the UFOs. However, Stephanie insisted that she was fully awake.

This complex case presents several conundrums for the investigator. One immediate question was – what did the feeder shaped UFO want with Stephanie’s horses? And why was she so nonchalant when she saw the object hovering in the pasture with no visible means of support? The impression I had when hearing her story was that the UFO in the pasture was affecting her mind, blocking her natural interest and curiosity.

The fact that Stephanie reported so many strange encounters makes one wonder if the intelligence behind the UFOs and orbs had an ongoing interest in her. For instance, it’s not unusual for someone who has been abducted to report multiple experiences. While Stephanie did not claim to be an abductee, she did report several close encounters of the first kind. Another possibility is that Stephanie is an intuitive, and her mind is porous to other dimensions. Yet, didn’t Miguel see the UFO too?

Another puzzle is this. Assuming that the orb that appeared above her cat was not a dream, then what can we make of the fact that Stephanie seemed to summon its presence? If UFOs represent an alien intelligence, then how likely is it that they would show up upon request? It strikes me that true extraterrestrials from other worlds would be here for their own purposes, not to satisfy our curiosity. Or maybe her orb experiences have nothing to do with the UFOs she described. In this case, the orbs might represent a spiritual experience, and the UFOs, a nuts and bolts visitation. However, during my conversation with her that Stephanie clearly viewed these experiences as pieces of a single tapestry.

The skeptic in me might be tempted to dismiss her account as the product of an overactive imagination. But that would be an easy out, a psychological defense against a discomforting metaphysical ambiguity. Most of us like to divide the world into two categories: real or unreal, material or spiritual, fact or fantasy. When confronted by events that seem to have aspects of both, our minds seek to resolve the paradox by leaning right or left, making half of the phenomenon disappear. While I believed Stephanie’s story, in the end this case left me left with more questions than answers. I call to mind writer and publisher Ray Palmer's startling proposition:

Flying saucers are here to make us think.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Clearing Up a Confusion

Recognizing the potential diversity of the audience here, I hope to be explicit enough in these early posts not to overwhelm the UFO newcomer, while conveying enough sophistication to appeal to the interests of those who are steeped in the field. Whether I succeed at this, you can be the judge.

For the wider public, UFOs conjure up alien spacecraft and little green men. For the fully initiated, this idea is called the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis — the notion that these disks, rods, cigars, snow cones, conical hats and black triangles flying the friendly skies hail from distant solar systems or even other galaxies. While the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis appears to be the most widely held theory among American ufologists, after sixty plus years of modern research into UFOs, we still have no smoking gun, or should I say, smoking ray gun. Moreover, there are several lines of evidence that suggest that UFO occupants do not come from other stars.

The idea that UFO occupants are aliens from another world appeals to our anthropocentric bias and our desire for metaphysical clarity. Just as we have sent men to the moon, presumably an advanced civilization will send them to the stars. And while we can’t drive down to the White House lawn and “kick the tires,” at least we can imagine that there are tires to be kicked. But what if these strange gray beings are time travelers or creatures who live in other dimensions? What if the craft we see in the sky wink in and out of existence? What if they can — as is commonly reported — change shape and even split into multiple craft and then rejoin? And what about the fact that a witness may see a UFO, while another person in close proximity will not? Very soon our tidy sense of metaphysical clarity breaks down.

None of this rules out the real possibility that we are being visited by extraterrestrials from other worlds. Isaac Asimov pointed out that a sufficiently advanced technology would appear to us as magic. Having grown up on Close Encounters and ET, I would like nothing more than for enlightened space beings to come down and lift me (and the rest of you) up to a higher level of consciousness and intergalactic brother and sisterhood. Even the darker motifs displayed in abduction reports reflect the idiom of our collective nightmares. But the deeper one delves into the UFO literature, the more complicated the landscape becomes. In other words, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

In sum, it seems important for proponents of ETH to specify conditions that, if satisfied, would distinguish genuine extraterrestrials from other sorts of visitors. One promising line of evidence comes from the work of Dr. Roger Leir — a California podiatrist who has carved out a rather unique medical specialty in extracting so called “alien implants” from those who have had close encounters with ETs. Dr. Leir has reported that surgically removed implants have included materials with isotopic ratios not found on Earth. Even more compelling would be material that comes from outside the solar system, since we can presume that future human time travelers would very likely be mining the asteroids and the moons. In fact, recently Dr. Leir has made such a claim. It will be interesting to see what the scientific community makes of any released lab reports.

One could argue that it doesn’t really matter who is flying about our skies, since clearly they aren’t from here. But in my view, who they are and where they come from, is intimately connected with why they are here. And that, in a nutshell, is the heart of the matter.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beginnings . . .

For those who don’t know me, I would like to introduce myself. I am a writer, psychologist and ufologist who hails from Eugene, Oregon. I use the term ufologist with some trepidation, since it is not very well defined and may imply things that are untrue. Besides, lacking any social status or academic heft, anyone can call him or herself a “ufologist” without complaint from the relevant professional society. Be that as it may, I have been reading about UFOs and ufology for more than two decades, and have been involved in investigations with UFOS Northwest for the past five years. I should probably mention that the views expressed in this blog — apart from comments by others — are mine alone.

So how does a psychologist become interested in the marginalized and slightly suspect field of UFOs? Putting it simply: UFOs and related phenomena represent the greatest mystery of our time. For many decades — and probably for centuries — strange objects have been seen plying our skies. UFOs have cropped up in ancient pictographs, Egyptian temples and medieval art. In modern times, these objects have been reported by highly reliable witnesses, including amateur and professional astronomers, policemen, military and commercial pilots. I have dabbled in amateur astronomy, and perhaps I will have more to say about the relationship between astronomy and ufology in another post. But for now let me mention a couple facts. In 1976, the American Astronomical Society conducted a survey and found that roughly five percent of its membership had witnessed something that could be classified as a UFO. Furthermore, Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered the recently demoted dwarf planet, Pluto, reported no less than three UFO sightings. In sum, well-qualified observers are seeing things in the sky for which we have no satisfying explanation. This alone makes ufology a worthy field of study.

On a more personal level, I think that my openness to UFOs and other strange phenomena comes from my grandmother, Hilda, who grew up in a dirt floor cottage in a Ukrainian stetl. Like many Jews of her generation, she immigrated to America around age 12 and eventually married a junk dealer from San Francisco. My grandmother had a strong psychic bent with deep roots into East European mysticism. While growing up, we were regaled with stories about her telepathic prowess. Also, my aunt seemed to have inherited a hint of these powers, and at times she attempted to keep us out of trouble with her precognitive warnings.

For those of you who also have the ufology bug, you understand the endless fascination with shape-shifting craft that zip around our atmosphere at impossible velocities, doing dances around our most sophisticated military aircraft, shooting beams of electronics defeating light down upon nuclear missile silos, and sometimes landing in a field at night — or even beside a military base, as in the remarkable Rendlesham case in the UK in December, 1980. Ufology is a place where science fiction becomes reality, and is this intersection between the fantastic and tangibly real that grabs my interest like nothing else.

In this blog, you will find my thoughts about UFOs and related phenomenon, as well as some anecdotes and observations from my investigations. So strap on your harness, pull up the shades, and get ready for the ride.