As an agnostic and skeptic, I’ve been trying to get myself up to speed on UFOlogy, and I’m sorry to report that the vast majority of the “information” out there is largely crap. I have found, however, that there are, in the history of this field of (mostly amateur) study, at least two serious scientists who spent a lot of time looking into the issue and had interesting things to say about UFO phenomena: Dr. Jacques Valee and Allen Hynek. Here’s an image of the two scientists together:
In their UFO investigations, these men were most active in the 1970s. Jacques Vallee, in a 2008 interview, has said that he believes that his 1970s books on the subject are still relevant today since (to his regret) no breakthroughs in information gathering or hypotheses have occurred since he wrote them. UFOs, says Vallee, are as perplexing as when he studied them over 30 years ago. Dr. Hynek, unfortunately, has passed away.
Here’s a brief clip of Vallee being interviewed in the 1970s. Notice that Vallee links UFOs to folklore:
And here’s a more recent clip of Vallee discussing UFO’s:
And here’s Allen Hynek in a 1977 interview:
As for documentary films, there are two that I know of that are intellectually interesting:
- Out of the Blue (which I have not seen, but am told is exceptional)
- Touched (which I have seen, and thought quite interesting)
Touched is directed by a woman and won a number of documentary awards. She explores, sympathetically, the stories of various people who claim to have had abduction experiences, and it is deeply moving and interesting. She also interviews a Harvard psychologist (now deceased) by the name of John Mack. Mack was a sympathetic researcher into UFO abductee stories, and the fact that he took the abductee narratives seriously scandalized him among his peers.
I’d note that Mack, Vallee, and Hynek have been skeptical of the popular interpretaion of UFOs (that they are metal saucers with aliens inside from another solar system). But they do think that something strange is going on (beyond psychosis or witnesses mistaking, say, balloons or birds for saucers). My own sense thus far is that something is going on, and what is intriguing to me is what this might say about the nature of mind manifesting itself apart from bodies. In other words, UFOs might well be an encounter with disembodied or projected minds of some sort (perhaps from another dimension). I know that sounds very, very weird. But it’s one thing Vallee holds out as a possibility—something intentional, though extra-psychological (not residing in the mind as hallucination).
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio?
Mack found that there was great consistency among people who reported being “abducted” by “aliens”. Many of the most consistent elements in these reports bear a strong resemblance to dreams and visions associated with Central Asian Shamanic cultures. One explanation is that the human mind is predisposed to certain kinds of visionary experiences (the brain itself could even be hardwired for this) – and these experiences are then interpreted differently in different cultures.
These events and experiences, I believe will only escalate until a paradigm shift results, in which, as Dr. Vallee has asserted before, these deceptive creatures aka tricksters will no doubt make their true intentions known, and I believe them to be, at the very least inimicable to our best interests as a species.
The more I research the whole UFO issue (which only a month ago I thought was total silliness), the more intrigued I am. There is a professor at Temple University who shares your thesis that UFOs may not be a benign phenomenon ala “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” where aliens wave at us paternally through a haze of white smoke and break a smile.
That’s really a great posting! I’m also a sceptic about religions and many weird claims and believe most of UFOS can be easily explained away. However, there are a few cases where reliable witnesses, who were most likely not hallucinating, clearly saw an UFO along with two strange humanoid beings who were obviously not human. Under other circumstances, the witnesses would be trusted about everything they said, but since what they saw contradicts so profoundly the worldview of many folks, their testimonies is rejected out of hand by resorting to halllucinations, although there are good grounds for thinking that their consciousness was completely normal and undisturbed during the observations.
I tend to be sceptical about many things, and I’m well aware that a few cases never allow us to draw conclusions having a scientific degree of certainty. However, due to the relibiality of the witnesses, I also tend to believe they really saw what they describe and had an extraordinory experience.
Liker Vallee, I believe that such creatures (provided they are real) are not space-aliens. Vallee recognize he has no clue what these beings would be, but believed they also manifested themselves as elves, fairies, perhaps even lechreprauns, are deceptive and try to manipulate human societies and history by creating supernatural beliefs. (see his book “dimensions” and the last chapter). For outsiders, this seem completely far fetched, but for people who are aware of the few evidential cases which exist, this is an intriguing (altough unproven) possibility.
f true, it would also mean that religions may be not entirely man-made.