Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Materiality of UFOs

Although the research program is about UFO waves, it is useful to clarify other assumptions about UFOs in general. One of them is the materiality of UFOs and related issues. In spite of claims by some writers (see the magazine Magonia for examples) who believe in the so-called “psycho-social hypothesis” (PSH), UFO sightings include, at times, material elements that cannot be overlooked (e.g., radar trace, marks on the soil). Yet, material traces do not prove in any way that UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin either. It is not my purpose, here, to engage in a debate with ufologists on how to interpret physical evidence, simply because most of them do not study physical evidence anyway. They try to infer out of selected witnesses’ reports what kind propulsion and technologies UFOs are made of. Instead, I propose a quick review of the serious research on the topic, i.e. study of physical evidence. This literature shows clearly that UFOs can be material, but are not crafts in spite the fact that they may appear as such to witnesses. In the world of UFOs, what you see is not necessarily what you get.

Research Findings on Physical Evidence

One of the problems in dealing with most of the ufological literature, especially since the Roswell affair, is that little efforts are made to separate previous scientific efforts put forward by governmental agencies from the public relations issues surrounding the research. Anyone who worked for a governmental research organization long enough knows that those are two separate issues. A relatively banal finding can be the object of a lot of public relations efforts because public officials are afraid that it might be misunderstood (e.g. UFOs). Conversely, major findings can lead to an absence of public relations effort because public officials cannot see its importance (e.g. when the hole in the ozone layer was first found). Hence, scientific findings, and what you do with the findings, answer to different sociological dynamics.

From a scientific point of view, some of the early research efforts were actually quite insightful. For instance, J.E. Lipp, Missile Division of the US Air Force, wrote a report as part of project SIGN in December 1948 to evaluate the validity of what we would call today the ETH. This report looks at the question in very balanced and straightforward manner, and concludes that it is unlikely that UFOs are extraterrestrial crafts. Interestingly, he notes like Jacques Vallée would do twenty years later that:

“One or two additional general remarks may be relevant to space ships as ‘flying objects’. The distribution of flying objects is peculiar, to say the least. As far as this writer knows, all incidents have occurred within the United States, whereas visiting spacemen could be expected to scatter their visits more or less uniformly over the globe. The small area covered indicates strongly that flying objects are of Earthly origin, whether physical or psychological.
The lack of purpose apparent in the various episodes is also puzzling. Only one motive can be assigned; that spacemen are ‘feeling out’ our defences without wanting to be belligerent. If so, they must have been satisfied long ago that we can’t catch them. It seems fruitless for them to keep repeating the same experiment.” (Extract taken from Steiger, Brad. (1976) Project Blue Book. New York: Ballantine Books, p. 213).

The conclusions of the Project Blue Book are also insightful, even if they are poorly understood by most ufologists. In a February 1966 report, one can read the main conclusion as follow:

This is perfectly true; there is not a shred of physical evidence (e.g., out-of-this world alloys, equipment, or organic tissue) available to this day. Again and again, UFOs are not a threat to national security (even if humans may over react and put themselves in danger by their very own actions when seeing a UFO). What is important to note is what the report does not say. It does not say that all UFOs sightings are explainable, and it does not say that they do not have a degree of material reality. Lastly, it does not say that UFOs are not worth of scientific study. All it says, is that the given the US Air Force roles and mandate, it is satisfied that there is no danger or any technological advance coming from UFOs useful to the US Air Force. As the US Air Force is not primarily a scientific research organization, it is perfectly understandable that they decided to let others spending their money researching UFOs.

By the mid-1970s, a clearer picture starts to emerge. For instance, in an interview with Jacques Vallée, he sums up very well what was known then:

“First, there is a physical object [...] All we know about it is that it represents a tremendous quantity of electromagnetic energy in a small volume. [...] The fact that is that the witnesses were exposed to an event and as a result they experience a highly complex alteration of perception which caused them to describe the object or objects that figure in their testimony.” From Fuller, Curtis G. (ed.) (1980). Proceedings of the First International UFO Congress. New York: Warner, p. 143.

Vallée, during the same Congress, also made another interesting statement:

“I did a semantic analysis of close encounters cases using a technique of full-text search on a computer in which portions of texts were coded according to what they were referred to. [...] All these people were describing light. They said, ‘The first thing that struck me was that I first saw a flash of light.’ Kenneth Arnold yesterday described something like that. The light is the overwhelming thing. It’s the origin of the sightings, it’s what attracts them to the object.” (Fuller, p. 405).

The official report about the Belgian Royal Air Force investigation of the 1990 wave is also very instructive. It is know that there were a large amount of sightings of triangular objects from witnesses on the ground during this UFO wave. But the Belgian Royal Air Force fighter pilots never saw any object, although they were able to lock their radar on the object several times, simultaneously to echoes registered by up to three NATO ground radar stations. The object also crossed the sound barrier without producing the usual choc wave. Witnesses on the ground, during the air chase, only saw a light or a group of lights. Obviously, the Belgian Royal Air Force had more questions than answers, but it appears clear that the UFO was material, but not necessarily solid.

In December 2000, the British government produced a secret report “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in the UK Air Defence Region,” attempting to evaluate what are UFOs. The report was declassified and made available in 2006. Two key conclusions of the report are shown below:

Lastly, there is also one author that made a clear connection between all the elements emerging from the study of the physical evidence, and his book has a very revealing title:

Budden, Albert. (1998). Electric Ufos: Fireballs, Electromagnetics and Abnormal States. Darby PA: Diane Pub Co.

It is on my list of books to read.

Parallel Findings

Here are a few other researches that should be kept in mind, with respect to the materiality of UFOs.

First, there is the Hessdalen Project in Norway that studies the so-called “earth lights”. Earth lights are large balls of gas in plasma state emerge out from inside the earth, which are bright at night and look like a slivery flatten ball during the day. These are caused by seismic activity, and they are highly charged from an electro-magnetic standpoint. These were studied from a UFO standpoint Largarde in France, and Paul Devereux in the United Kingdom. As well, the Canadian Persinger also studied the impact on the brain and perception of high levels of electro-magnetism. Although earth lights can explain only a portion of the unexplainable UFOs (not all unexplainable UFOs occur in areas or time period associated with seismic activity), these researches unveil a key physical dynamics that is consistent with prior research on physical evidence. For more information, this article gives a good overview.

The second set of research is the flip side of the first one. If the human mind can be affected by strong electro-magnetic fields, research in parapsychology also shows that the human mind can also influence electrical fields. This is usually referred to as part of psychokinesis or PK for short. One can simply think about the numerous experiments with electrical random number generators (RNG). Dean Radin provides an excellent overview of this research in his book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview, 2006. As well, there have been some researches on how the human mind can interfere with computer processes, and various electrical devices. For instance,

Hecht, H. and H. Dussault. (1987). “Correlated failures in fault-tolerant computers.” IEEE Transactions on Reliability R-36: 171-175.

Pelegrin, M.J. (1988). “Computers in planes and satellites. ” In W.E. Ehrenberger (ed.), Proceedings of the IFAC Symposium. Oxford: Pergamon, pp. 121-132.

Shneiderman, B. (1987). Designing the user interface: Strategies for effective human-computer interaction. Reading: Wesley.

There is also a large literature, most of it from the popular press, that provides numerous anecdotal accounts of electrical problems linked to negative state-of-mind (e.g. frustrated person making electrical bulb failing), and electrical failure linked to haunting and poltergeists. Here is a sample of some of the scientific research related to this issue:

Brovetto, P. and V. Maxia. (2008). “Some conjectures about the mechanism of poltergeist phenomenon.” NeuroQuantology 6(2): 1-8.

Roll. William G. (2003). “Poltergeists, Electromagnetism and Consciousness.” Journal of Scientific Exploration 17(1):75–86.

Copyright © 2008 Eric Ouellet

No comments: