Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Article in EdgeScience

Dear Readers,

Here is another unashamed self-advertisement for a text I published recently in the Society of Scientific Exploration professional publication EdgeScience.

The paper is about how the Model of Pragmatic Information could be used to study various large scale anomalies. It is written in a more accessible language than my regular posts, so it should be more enjoyable.

It can be downloaded for free at http://www.scientificexploration.org/edgescience/


I hope you will enjoy and stimulate discussions.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Belgian UFO wave – 1989-1992 – Part 5


This post is the last of this series on the Belgian UFO wave of 1989-1992. As announced before, the Model of Pragmatic Information (MPI) developed by the parapsychologist Walter von Lucadou will be used again to assess if the general unfolding of the UFO wave occurred in ways similar to a RSPK (Recurrent Spontaneous PsychoKinesis) event (aka poltergeist).

As discussed several times on this blog, a number of UFO researchers, like John Keel, who went beyond the simplistic “nuts-and-bolts” approach to the phenomenon, compared it to some sort of large scale poltergeist, or grand scale haunting of the skies. The case for studying the UFO phenomenon as a paranormal event is substantive, and has also been presented extensively on this blog.

The Model of Pragmatic Information

The MPI is based on the modern physics concept of non-locality, where at the quantum level particles seem to share common information without any observable mechanism to explain how such sharing occur. This is particularly notable through a photon splitter experiment. Out of this general notion of information that can be shared non-locally (i.e. without direct and observable cause and effect), Walter von Lucadou (who is also a physicist) proposed that the central notion of “psi” in parapsychology can be explained by non-locality (von Lucadou, 1995).



This applies not only to the acquisition of information through non-normal means (usually referred to as Extra-Sensorial Perception, or ESP), but also to “mind-over-matter” (usually referred to as Psycho-Kinesis, or PK). For modern physicists, matter is more than mass and energy, it is also information (such as speed, direction, relative position, internal organization, etc.). Seen from this angle, psi is therefore information in the mind of someone that is becoming shared non-locally about knowledge (ESP), or about matter (PK). Yet, this non-local sharing of information can only occur if there is enough indeterminacy in the system at hand for a psi event to occur (von Lucadou & Zahradnik, 2004).

This would explain why most psi events seem to be linked to deep unconscious processes where there is a lot of symbolic flux and possibilities, if compared to the conscious mind. More a system is consciously observe, the less indeterminacy it has, and therefore the less likelihood that a psi effect would occur. This would explain two well-known issues in parapsychology. First, spontaneous psi events tend to be much more ostensible (or big) than the one planned and strictly observed through parapsychology lab testing. The second is the well-known declining effect seen is parapsychology lab testing, where the first few attempts tend to vary more from statistical probabilities (as the experimenter does not know what to expect), but the more testing there is the more it becomes closer to statistical averages because what is expected is know and actively looked for (von Lucadou, Römer, & Walach, 2007).
 
It is in this context that von Lucadou developed a psycho-social model of RSPK, as other people around the event are also influencing it as they observe it. The model to study RSPKs has four phases:
(a)    Surprise. Typically, there is an individual who is living significant emotional turmoil (oftentimes a teenager, but not always), but because of some social dynamics cannot express it. The use psi, by banging walls, moving objects, etc., becomes an alternate way to communicate about their psychological turmoil. That person is called the “focus person” because the psi events are focussed around him or her. Yet, the people surrounding the focus person are also playing a role by their surprise, and by starting to think that the explanation is to be attributed to some sort of malevolent non-human entity (demon, evil spirit, ghost, etc.), rather than to the focus person. In doing so, these people called the “environment” maintain indeterminacy in the system by avoiding to observe the real system at play.
(b)   Displacement. After sometime, the events become known and other people join in. They are typically believers in the existence of non-human entities, such as psychics, self-declared parapsychologists, etc. These newcomers are called the “naive observers,” because of their belief that non-human entities are responsible for the phenomenon. The naïve observers redirect the search for the problem source away from the actual source (the focus person and his/her distress) hence there is a displacement of attention. This allows the indeterminacy to be maintained, so that the psi phenomenon can continue but usually in a different manner, as the message from the focus person seeks to be understood by the environment.
(c)    Decline. After more time elapsing, other people join in, but with a much more critical view of the events. They start to assess more carefully what is going on, asking more thorough questions about what is going on, introduce even measuring instruments, and at times can make a connection between the events (which usually have a symbolic meaning) and the unhappiness of the focus person. These people are called the “critical observers”. Given that they pay a much closer look to the systems at hand, they reduce the indeterminacy and by doing so the intensity of the phenomenon drops sharply.
(d)   Suppression. At the end, society through the authorities (police, social services, municipal works, etc.) get involved because of the disturbances. They usually declare the phenomenon a hoax though the media, often by accusing the focus person and his/her environment of being responsible for all this. By having the authorities focussing intensely on the phenomenon, no indeterminacy is left, and there is no more psi effect occurring.


The Belgian UFO wave as a large scale RSPK

Surprise

Like for most RSPKs studied by von Lucadou, the Belgian UFO wave started gently leading to surprising event. As discussed in the previous post, late September 1989 would probably be a meaningful start date for the wave. The SOBEPS, when the wave became public, were at first a bit worried that the September public announcement of a UFO landing in the USSR would create a climate of ridicule affecting them. What is clear, however, is that the symbolism of triangular objects in the sky of Belgium was slowly rising from September. There is little doubt that the first night of massive observations (29 November 1989) came as a surprise to everyone. The SOPBEPS only realized that something was going after receiving many calls from witnesses. Those calls, however, came a few days after the events, and were sustained in part by the televised interview of the two Eupen police officers, and especially the wide press coverage of 1 December 1989. In other words, many witnesses realized that what they saw was a much bigger “event” than they thought, and it was at that point that they decided to report their experience to the SOBEPS. Hence, the surprise period could be defined as being from late September to about 1 December 1989.


The surprise was not only a matter of witnessing a large event, but also according to SOBEPS, most witnesses of the night of 29 November did not know what to make of all this. Some speculated that it could be extra-terrestrial visitations, but without pursuing this interpretation further. All those witnesses, from the point of view of the MPI, constituted the environment of the event, the ones who were surprised; the ones who started to think about the extra-terrestrial explanation (i.e. non-human entities being responsible for the disturbance). Like in other UFO wave cases analyzed through the lenses of the MPI, who is the focus person remains unclear at this time.

Displacement

Starting on 2 December 1989, the SOBEPS becomes actively involved in the events. From the point of view of the MPI, they collectively constitute the naïve observers because, in spite of their rigor and sober approach, they remained committed to prove the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), i.e. ultimately assigning the origin of the phenomenon to non-human entities. New observations are recorded but at a much lower rate from none to half a dozen per day, until the next large observation day of 11 December 1989 with 24 observations. There are intense discussions in the press, especially during the period of 12 to 18 December 1989 (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 118-122). On 18 December, the SOBEPS gives a first press conference, well attended by journalist (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 123). It is really at this point that the notion of a wave of triangular UFOs is shaped in social representations.

The SOBEPS gave a description of the more common elements emerging from the witnesses report. However, as discussed before the triangular shape was common to just about half of the observations. By doing so, the SOBEPS, consciously or not, gave the impression that there were stronger commonalities between the observations that there actually were. In turn, this creates a notion that a “nuts-and-bolts” ET spaceship visitation could be more plausible. The notion of ET visitations is present also in the public realm but the press remains for the most part relatively objective. That press conference was in many ways a form of displacement as the ET visitation hypothesis becomes more prevalent.



What is particularly interesting with the Belgian UFO wave was that another social dynamics emerged during the displacement phase. Also on 2 December 1989, the Authorities (both the police and the military) started their own investigation, away from the public spotlight (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 73). On 6 December, the police approached the SOBEPS in order to collaborate with them on the UFO sightings (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 79). If one reads carefully the SOBEPS book, however, it became apparent that the main objective of the police was to “get ride” of all the UFO-related work, as they were submerged with calls and reports. This attitude is certainly comprehensible, as the police have limited resources, and dealing with crime remains its institutional priority, not UFOs. On 9 December 1989, the press reports that the Belgian military investigates the UFO wave (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 78). On 15 December, the military gives an interview in the press confirming what was reported about their investigation a week before (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 122). On the 18 December SOBEPS press conference, the Belgian military has representatives in support of the SOBEPS and 21 December, the Minister of Defense confirms that they cannot explain what is going on (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 125-126). Then in January 1990, the SOBEPS is invited to visit the Glons radar station (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 143); by the end of February 1990 an official letter of collaboration the SOBEPS is drafted by the military (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 144-145).



This set the context for the further involvement of both the military and the SOBEPS in the aftermath of the March 30-31 UFO. This led, ultimately to the public release in June 1990 of the report about the chase. By then, however, the military would continue to collaborate with the SOBEPS, but at a much lower level. In many instances, as a personal commitment of DeBrouwer who became a two-star Air Force general. The investigation of the March UFO chase led the Belgian military to come to the same conclusion that all other armed forces who investigated UFO before: there are things in the sky that we cannot explain, but they do not seem to be a threat and we do not have the resources or the mandate to investigate them further (De Brouwer, 1991: 490-491). Interestingly, by June the decline in observations becomes much more marked until the one-day spike of March 1991, and the one of July 1992.



The active involvement of the authorities, including providing public support to the SOBEPS by being present at their 18 December press conference, constitutes a change in pattern if compared with “traditional” RSPKs. In the MPI, the authorities usually try to quell any rumors of unexplainable phenomena. But in the case of the Belgian UFO wave, the response was the opposite. This is very much comparable to what was found in the MPI analysis of the Zeitoun Marian apparitions. When the authorities are supporting the naïve observers, then phenomenon does not decline sharply.

Decline (?)

The decline phase could be assessed as starting in June 1990, where there are few observations on average until the spike of March 1991. However, there were “critical observers” involved early on. The first sceptic attack in the Belgian press occurred on 8 December 1989 (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 77), and the next day (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 113).  On 11 December 1989, the hypothesis that a F-117 could be the culprit is discussed in the press, and other sceptical hypotheses about AWACS are presented over the following days (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 114-115).

As a curious coincidence, on 19 December the US invaded Panama, and the F-117 is for the first time publically acknowledged as being part of a real military operation. This will provide a lot of fuel for the F-117 hypothesis, as the plane’s shape and stealth ability became much more present in social representations. The critical observers will use extensively the F-117 in their counter-analysis of the Belgian UFO wave. In January 1990, the French popular science magazine Science & Vie, started what the SOBEPS called a “crusade” against the Belgian UFO wave reports (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 140). In May 1990, there are more sceptic attacks in the press (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 219).


In spite of the somewhat active presence of critical observers, it appears clear that they could not match the legitimacy that the military authorities gave to the SOBEPS by collaborating with them. Hence, the decline phase occurred but not so much because of the action of the critical observers, as much as the loss of interest by the authorities in June.

As noted by von Lucadou in his research on RSPKs, during the Decline phase the phenomenon may try a last ditch effort to get the message across. From that point of view, the two last spikes of observations in March 1991 and possibly July 1992 could constitute such last effort.

Suppression (not)

The wave was “officially” considered finished after the March 1991 spike of observations in the first SOBEPS book (published in 1991). The spike of July 1992 was added as an important event in the second book (published in 1994). Where does it end is a matter of interpretation, but definitely the wave ended. There was no cover-up per say, in the sense that the authorities did not intervene to quell the rumors about UFOs. Once more, a parallel can be established with the Zeitoun case study, where with the support of the authorities, an anomaly tends to die out of a loss of interest rather than by closing the indeterminacy by using the prestige of the authorities to focus on a particular explanation that excludes the possibility of a paranormal event.



As in the case of the 1952 UFO wave over Washington D.C., the focus person that would provide the psi force for the events is not obvious. Yet, by using a similar approach to the study of the 1952 wave, it is possible to propose a group of focus persons that could be at the centre of the wave. In this case, there was a social tension that appeared quite evidently, although it is not often noted by ufologists. The “intense” period of the wave, from November 1989 to late spring of 1990, is also exactly the period of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communist dictatorships in most of the Warsaw Pact countries, as noted in a previous post. It was the effective end of the Cold War. Yet, again and again, a more localized look provides some more interesting insights.



Most of the UFO sightings are geographically centered on NATO installations: the Glons radar station (near Liège) that was then one of the nerve centres of the AWACS surveillance system (and visited by the SOBEPS); Mons where the NATO military headquarters are located (SHAPE); the zone between Mons and Brussels (where the NATO political headquarter is situated) was the location of the March 1990 UFO chase.   As well, many of the triangular objects observed in the sky of Belgium are very much reminiscent of the well-known NATO tri-dimensional dark metal sculpture of its logo at the entrance of the Brussels headquarters.  If NATO can be credited for its bloodless victory at the end of the Cold War, it also lost its raison d’être, which is struggling to re-establish ever since. 

 

References

Bougard, Michel and Lucien Clerebaut. (1991). "Chronique d'une vague". In SOBEPS, Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique: Un dossier exceptionnel. Bruxelles: SOBEPS, pp. 51-296.

Walter von Lucadou. “The Model of Pragmatic Information (MPI)”. European Journal of Parapsychology 11 (1995): 58-75.

Walter von Lucadou, H. Römer, and H. Walach, “Synchronistic phenomena as entanglement correlations in generalized quantum theory”. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 14(4) (2007): 50-74.

Walter von Lucadou and F. Zahradnik. “Predictions of the Model of Pragmatic Information about RSPK”. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association Convention 2004, available online at http://archived.parapsych.org/papers/09.pdf.


 

 
 
 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Belgian UFO wave 1989-1992 – Part 4


As discussed in part 1 of this series of posts, the Belgian UFO wave of 1989-1992 was definitely something that could be described as a Socially Relevant Anomaly. The UFO wave was a well-covered event in the press media, and got the attention of the authorities. Furthermore, the review of the evidence provided by the SOBEPS and the Belgian military, in part 2 and 3, also demonstrates that there is no sound explanations for what happened. A central element that made the Belgian UFO wave a genuine anomaly was that what people were seeing and observing, and what machines were recording did not match.

In an attempt to shed a different light on this mystery, it is proposed to consider that what the witnesses were observing was something parallel to what machines were recording, but in a different spectrum of reality, so to speak. Namely, it is proposed that what they saw was something of a comparable nature to hauntings and poltergeists (i.e., involving psi effects); something that the human mind can capture but not necessarily machines. This post and the following one will try to assess the case for a possible large scale or social psi effects.


As proposed before (Ouellet, 2011: 79-80), a parasociological method can help to narrow down the number of elements required to assess the social dimensions of an anomaly, and assess the possibility of a social psi effect. There are five criteria that were identified, namely that (a) the observation system is social; the anomaly has (b) geographical and (c) chronological proximity to a meaningful social context, the anomaly carries (d) a symbolic meaning that can be related to a meaningful social context; and that (e) the first four criteria are mutually reinforcing each other (i.e. has substantive internal validity).

Observation system is social

The first criterion is to ensure that the observation system is social, as for a social psi effect to occur the wider society needs to be aware that an anomaly is occurring. In the case of the Belgian UFO wave, there are no doubts that it was. After the first spike of observations, the journalist’s interview of two police officers who witnessed a UFO was broadcasted on television. Then a few days later, the rest of the press was on it, and became further interested after the second spike of observation of 11 December 1989. The close collaboration established early on between the SOBEPS and the police and the military created a context were reporting could be captured in ways than remained within the public domain. The SOBEPS became also at the center of media interest with their first press conference on 18 December 1989, with military representative also present (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 123).


Geographical proximity

The second parasociological dimension is the geographical proximity, and it helps figuring towards who the social psi effect is directed. The UFO wave was very much a Belgian affair [1]. There were only a handful of sightings in the Netherlands, and little if any in Germany, in spite of the wide media coverage given to the UFO stories. This is particularly relevant as during the first spike of observations there was a widely shared sense that the objects were coming from the east (Germany). Similarly, the night of the UFO chase, the radars were tracking an object going from east to west.

 

The observations were concentrated in two ways. One was the focus on the wider area surrounding the city of Liege, and the second focus was a wide corridor going from the city of Liege to Mons. This particular set of geographical proximity is interesting and raises the possibility of proposing a potential “candidate” for whom the social psi events were directed at. During the Cold War, Belgium was very much at the heart of NATO’s defence system. The UFO “corridor” ends at Mons, where is the military headquarter of NATO, known as SHAPE (Supreme Headquarter of Allied Powers in Europe). The intensely anomalistic event of the 30-31 March 1990 UFO chase happened very much midway between Mons and Brussels. The political headquarters of NATO are in Brussels.

The Glons NATO radar station, which is just north of Liege, was very near in the epicenter of the UFO events that occurred in the overall Liege area. The Glons station was at the center of the NATO AWACS surveillance system at the time, a key military asset for the Western defence system And let’s note that many of the witnesses speculated about the possibility that they saw an AWACS, a NATO capability, because they saw them all the time.  



Chronological proximity

Socially relevant anomalies that have a social psi dimension are expected to occur at a time where there are socially meaningful events with a potential of a high emotional charge. One very fascinating aspects of the Belgian UFO wave is how much the documentation about it ignored nearly completely the surrounding world. The UFO wave happened at the exact same time as the end of the Cold War, which defined the lives of so many in Europe for over 40 years.



The second broader contextual element that is also rarely connected to the Belgian UFO wave was the UFO wave in the Soviet Union, also happening at the same time. In the case of the Soviet wave, some have made the connection between the wave and the impending end of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union itself. Jacques Vallée wrote in 1992 a lesser known book on the topic, and wondered if the anxieties created by new policies of Gorbatchev could be related to the Soviet UFO wave. An interesting report for the year 1989 can be found here.



A fuller chronology of events is proposed here to provided that missing larger context.

Date
Anomalistic Events
Political Events
10-Sep-89
 
Hungary allows East German refugees to leave to the West. Opens its borders.
27-Sep-89
Press reported the landing of a UFO near Moscow, and humanoid sighting. (Meessen, 1991a: 11)
 
28-Sep-89
Triangular, and intense light observed (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 52).
 
29-Sep-89
Slow motion object with powerful lights observed. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 52).
 
30-Sep-89
 
Czechoslovakia allows East Germans to leave for the West.
7-Oct-89
 
Hungarian Communist Party scuttles itself, and the one party ruling system.
9-Oct-89
Soviet Union officially announces that a UFO has landed near Voronezh, in late September 1989.
 
12-Oct-89
Large and silent big lights in the sky. Large triangle. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 53)
 
15-Oct-89
Large mass with 3 lights, and a red light. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 55)
 
18-Oct-89
 
East German Honecker forced to step down. Replaced by Egon Krenz.
20-Oct-89
Gray triangle. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 55)
 
31-Oct-89
 
500,000 demonstrate in Leipzig, in East Germany.
3-Nov-89
A slow moving flying object, with powerful lights, is seen near the German border. (Meessen, 1991a: 20)
 
4-Nov-89
 
Protest at East Berlin's Alexanderplatz attracted 500,000 people,
7-Nov-89
Large, silent, slow moving mass with powerful lights looking at the ground.  (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991:55)
 
9-Nov-89
 
Berlin Wall opened, demands for reunification of East and West Germany grew louder
10-Nov-89
 
Communist Party of Bulgaria scuttles itself, and the one party ruling system.
14-Nov-89
Air Force reserve officer sees large, silent, slow moving mass with powerful lights looking at the ground. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 55)
 
17-Nov-89
 
Beginning of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Students riot
20-Nov-89
 
500,000 people demonstration in Prague
20-Nov-89
Triangular object seen near Namur. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 55)
 
22-Nov-89
Large, silent, slow moving mass with powerful lights looking at the ground, lit and flew over a house . (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 56-57)
 
23-Nov-89
Object over a house, lightening the house. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 59-60)
 
24-Nov-89
 
Communist government of Czechoslovakia resigns
24-Nov-89
Large, low sound, slow moving mass with powerful lights looking at the ground. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 61)
 
28-Nov-89
 
Communist party of Czechoslovakia puts an end to single party ruling
28-Nov-89
Triangular positioned lights. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 62)
 
 29-Nov-89
First significant set of observations reported to SOBEPS. 125 observations reported for this day. (Meessen, 1991a: 11)
 
1-Dec-89
Massive media involvement starts, 7 observations on that day (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 64-71)
 
2-Dec-89
Strange radar blip at Glons and 4 observations (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 71-76)
 
3-Dec-89
 
East German leadership resigns, and Bush-Gorbachev summit in Malta. Cold War declared to be over.
4-9 Dec 89
6 observations  (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 73-76)
 
9-Dec-89
Press confirms that the Belgian military is investigating, but without much results yet. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 78)
 
11-Dec-89
24 observations, on the axis Liege to Mons (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 82)
 
12-18 Dec 89
Press in full swing while UFOs are very quiet (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 118-122)
 
17-Dec-89
 
Riots in Timisoara, beginning of the Romanian revolution.
25-Dec-89
 
Ceausescu is arrested the day before, and executed with his wife.
18-Jan-90
New observations after a relatively quiet period
 
Feb and Mar 90
More observations, but at a slower pace. Phenomena does not vary much from previous events
 
30-31 Mar 90
Belgian F-16 chase UFOs between Mons and Brussels
 
Jun-90
Belgian Air Force report on the events of 30-31 March is made public.
 
Apr-Dec 90
Few observations (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 236-250)
 
Dec 90 to Mar 91
Few observations, with the usual variations (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 255-259)
 
Jan to Mar 91
 
Soviet Union in trouble: 9 February, Lithuania votes for independence; 3 March, Latvia and Estonia vote for independence; 17 March, national referendum in Soviet Union on keeping the union together; 31 March, Georgia vote for independence.
Also rise of tensions in Yugoslavia, eventually breaking into an internal armed conflict.
12-Mar-91
New increase in observations. 27 observations in 1 evening. Usual variations. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 260-279).
 
Rest of Mar 91
A few more observations. (Bougard & Clerebaut, 1991: 282-288).
 
19-Aug-91
 
Coup in Moscow, and beginning of the end for the Soviet Union in the following days.
26-Jul-92
27 observations, last spike of the Belgian wave
 

The synchronicity between the events surrounding the end of the Cold War, and two concurrent UFO wave, one in the heart of NATO in Belgium and one in the Soviet Union is absolutely striking. Furthermore, the first sighting of the then “new” triangular UFOs in Belgium occurred (28 Sept. 1989) the day after the UFO events of Voronezh (27 Sept. 1989). The first major spike of observations in Belgium (29 Nov. 1989) occurred four days before the end of East German communism (considered the most hardline of all) and the Bush-Gorbatchev summit declaring the Cold War over (4 Dec. 1989).



The second spike of observations (11 Dec. 1989) occurred 6 days before the only violent dismantlement of a communist government in Eastern Europe, namely in Romania (17 Dec. 1989). The third spike of observations (12 Mar 1991) occurred two weeks before the referendum to try (to no avail) to keep the Soviet Union together. On the other hand, the last spike of observations does not seem to be related to any particular event.



Symbolic relationship

The Belgian UFO wave has a number of interesting symbolic aspects. Symbolically, in almost all cases, the phenomenon was noted by the witnesses because of its “unplanely“ behavior, as if it wanted to be noted. Furthermore, on the first spike observation day, the first person to observe a UFO (during daytime) was a military officer. The first to observe at night time were police officers, again as if the phenomenon wanted to be noticed by the authorities. The UFO chase night was more akin to something “mischievous” trying to get the attention of the military authorities. Few witnesses were really scared, and no witness reported anything seriously threatening about the phenomenon. It was an ostensible but safe presence.



The variety of shapes and forms of the UFOs is more puzzling. Even if the triangular shape was relatively more common than the other ones, it was far from being the only one. It is as if the phenomenon did not know what shape it wanted to take. Yet, one fascinating possibility is that the actual dark triangular shape that was seen in the skies of Belgium could itself be symbolically representative of NATO. Anyone who visited the Brussels NATO headquarter cannot miss the large tri-dimensional dark metal sculpture of the NATO star, which is actually made of triangles.
 
 
 
Nevertheless, one aspect was present in a large majority of cases: it was 2 or more powerful white lights and weaker red lights, irrespective to whether the witnesses saw an object or not in the sky. Yet, it is to be noted that on the last spike of observations in July 1992, there were no weaker red lights observed. In the wider context of events, an interesting symbolic representation is that a white star was remaining powerful, namely NATO, and one red star was becoming weaker, the Soviet Bloc.



Internal validity

As one can note from the elements above, at various levels the Belgian UFO wave seems associated with the end of the Cold War, and centered on trying to get NATO’s people attention. Major spikes seemed to be inter-related to events to come, as if there was some sort of precognition. The first spike of observations was perceived as objects coming from Germany, just before the end of the hardline East German regime. The second spike of observations had one of the few cases of a somewhat aggressive UFO, observed once again by a military officer, a few days before the violent end of communism in Romania. The third spike of observations was the only one that had a concentration of sighting near or around a nuclear plant, at a time of where a dismantlement of the Soviet Union was raising the issue of what to do with the Soviet nuclear arsenal. The last spike of observations did not have any weak red light, and does not seem related to any particular major social events in the context of the end of communism, as it was almost a year after the coup in Moscow that brought the Soviet Union to an end. The last spike showed a weaker white light, maybe symbolic of NATO short of an enemy being in difficulty to justify its existence?

The end of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe occurred very quickly, and although it was something that many people were hoping for a long time (especially those on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain), it was also bringing a lot unknowns about whether the hardliners would react with force (like in Romania) or not, and for those who were benefitting from the system the future did not look bright. Tensions were high. Mass demonstrations and riots filled the air with a lot of anxieties. There was certainly a lot of collective emotional energy released at the time, and this was certainly a key condition for any social psi event to occur.



The analysis above shows the possibility of some kind of social psi effect occurring in the sky of Belgium between 1989 and 1991 cannot be discounted. The parasociological indicators show a multi-level coherence between the key elements of the UFO wave and major social events in the form of possible precognition (spikes of observations preceding critical social events). However, this does not constitute a proof, but rather a clue pointing in that direction. A second analysis of the Belgian UFO wave will be presented in the next post, using a parapsychological model to understand poltergeist events (RSPK - Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho-Kinesis). Walter von Lucadou’s Model of Pragmatic Information (MPI) will be used once again to look at how the events unfolded. If the UFO wave unfolded in ways similar to a RSPK, which is by definition a psi related phenomenon, then this would add further arguments on the possibility that the UFO wave might have been centered on a social psi effect.

Notes

[1] There was a night of intense sightings (175) in France on 5 November 1990, centered on Paris, Orleans, and Brive (central France). The observations are significantly different in the appearances from the Belgian, with the exceptions of both white and red lights that were commonly observed on the UFO. For more information, see (in French) http://www.ovnis-armee.org/25_vague_ovnis_5_novembre_1990.htm

References

Bougard, Michel and Lucien Clerebaut. (1991). "Chronique d'une vague". In SOBEPS, Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique: Un dossier exceptionnel. Bruxelles: SOBEPS, pp. 51-296.

Ouellet, Eric. (2011). “Social Psi and Parasociology”. Australian Journal of Parapsychology 11 (1): 73-88.