This blog is dedicated to the conceptual and empirical development of parasociology, a sub-discipline of sociology studying how societies and paranormal or “psi” phenomena interact.
It looks into phenomena like UFOs, Marian Apparitions, Poltergeists, and Parapsychology.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Physical Reality of UFOs: How to think about it differently
First, please let me
take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
It came to my
attention that Bill Chalker in his blog Theozfilesproposed a short review of my book Illuminations. In his review, he states
that “Dr. Ouellet argues there is no compelling physical evidence for UFOs”.
It is actually
incorrect, but I also think this assessment is based mostly on a misunderstanding
about the physical reality of UFOs. So, I will address this issue more directly
In the book, I do a
tour of the knowledge that is available about the physical aspects of UFOs. The
key word here is “knowledge”; I am not proposing a tour of the physical “evidence”
considered as being linked to UFOs. This is an important distinction. I wanted
to get the readers up to speed with what we know (and I underlined that our
knowledge is still quite limited at this point in time). I was not proposing a
perspective based on where we are at with the speculations linked to the
physical reality of UFOs.
That being said, if
there is some knowledge about the physical reality of UFOs, then by definition there
is a degree of physical reality to UFOs! As well, the book presents a number of
case studies where some physical evidence are presented, and accepted as
evidence. What more is needed to say that there are physical evidence linked to
UFOs? But maybe this was too implicit.
I realize that when
anyone is discussing UFOs, this very very word “UFO” implies dealing with a “foreign
object”. The “O” (for object) in UFO is definitely setting the tone, and this
is why some are preferring the wording “Unexplained Aerial Phenomena” (UAP), as
it is actually less “loaded” because it does not imply necessarily an object
being present. Then, of course, decades of ETH nuts-and-bolts ufology has not
only set the tone but created an unconscious association between “UFO” and “spaceship”
(a hard physical object). In other words, the concept of UFO comes with a lot
of cognitive baggage, which railroads the way we think about it. We seriously need
to break away from such cognitive mold, if we really want to enlarge our understanding
To do so, we need to
use different mental categories.
Hynek proposed a
useful typology, when it was developed decades ago, covering “Night Lights”, “Day
Discs”, “Radar Tracking”, and the “Close Encounters” of the type 1, 2, and 3.
Implicit in his typology was, once again, “how close the witness was from the
object”. The nuts-and-bolts perspective is actually built-in the typology.
Although he added the issue of degree of “strangeness,” it appears to be in the
end only a measure of the witnesses’ degree of altered state of consciousness.
So, what would look
like a different UFO typology consistent with the parapsychological hypothesis?
First, what needs to
be measured from a parapsychological perspective is not how close you are, but how
anomalistic the event is. This, in turn, would provide a useful tool to
assess how rare and unique an event might be, and therefore helping to guide
the search for data (and that’s actually the purpose of any typology).
Based on what is
emerging from general research in parapsychology, it seems that the most common
form of psi events are synchronicities (meaningful coincidences), then comes
various forms of Extra Sensory Perceptions (ESP) (telepathy, premonition,
clairvoyance, etc.), and finally, more rare are various forms of Psychokinesis
(PK) (telekinesis, healings, teleportation, etc.). Hence, a sound typology
would be going from common synchronicity to ESP to PK events. So, here is what
I propose, and how the physical aspects of UFO events would fit in.
S1. UFO-related Synchronicity. For example, a perfectly mundane airplane or
helicopter could be mistook for a UFO. Yet, two or more separated observers
made the same mistake, reporting a UFO with similar descriptions that would not
fit the actual “real” object in the sky. In this case, it seems that we would be
dealing with a case of synchronicity, misunderstood by both debunkers and
ETHers as a random coincidence, and an illusion, respectively. There might have
been an optical illusion involved, and yet there might have been a meaningful
coincidence involved too. In such a case, it is by interviewing the witnesses
about other things going in their life and surrounding (e.g. both witnesses
dreaming of UFOs beforehand, bumping by accident into the other witness, etc.)
that one can identify if there is indeed a synchronicity. It was what Jung had,
mostly, in mind when discussing UFOs in his famous book Flying
Saucers: A modern myth of things seen in the skies.
Extra Sensory Perception (ESP):
E2. Shared telepathic hallucination, where there are no object per se in the sky,
but two or more witnesses see the same “hallucination”, implying some form of
telepathy involved. Berthold Schwartz in UFO Dynamics: Psychiatric and
psychic aspects of the UFO syndrome gave interesting examples of
such psi-induced shared hallucinations.
E3. Altered states of consciousness and
visionary experience, possibly
in the context of a shared event with other people or involving some form of
ESP experience such as telepathy, premonition, clairvoyance, etc. In such
situation, there might be a mundane flying object that gets “mixed up” in the
witness’ consciousness. Jenny Randles’ concept of “Oz Factor” covers many of
such cases. Some abduction experiences might also be explained in such a way
(see Brian Thompson. (1994). “Telepathy: possible telepathic spread of UFO
abduction stories”. Paper presented at Alien
Discussions: Abduction Study Conference Held at M. I. T. Harvard University).
E4. Altered states of consciousness and
visionary experience reinforced by a source of electromagnetism, such as an earthlight or ball of plasma. In
such a case, there is something physical in the sky or nearby on the ground,
even if it is of a short-live duration, involving some form of ESP experience
such as telepathy, premonition, clairvoyance, etc. The Betty and Barney Hill
story may possibly be explained in part in that way, as noted in my book Illuminations.
P5. Witnessing an exotic natural phenomena
involving a possible psychokinetic event. Paul Devereux’s personal “encounter” with an earthlight that seemed moving
as he was thinking about the object, may be a possible example of such a case,
as discussed in his book Earthlights.
Pierre Viéroudy’s experiment to create a UFO would be in the same category of
experience, as reported in his book Ces
OVNIs qui annoncent la venue du surhomme. Similarly, the mysterious healing
of Dr. X. reported by Jacques Vallée, might be another example of psychokinetic
effect. In all those cases, the “physical object” was perceived as a ball of
light of some kind.
P6. A much less frequent anomaly would be one involving the psychokinetic
movement of an object, or even an apport
or teleportation of a physical object behaving like a UFO in the sky or on
the ground. These events are very much comparable to some of the most intense
poltergeists (or RSPKs), but occurring higher in the sky. Such object could be
some form of plasma, but it could be made of other things too. Scott Rogo in The Haunted Universe reported a number
of UFO cases that seem to fit this category, including a bunch of planks and
other knick-knacks collated out of nowhere to take the shape of a UFO on the
ground (again, similar to a bunch of towels and bedsheets taking the shape of a
person during a poltergeist event).
It is important to
note that these various elements of intensity are not mutually exclusive. For
instance, a visionary experience involving a source of electromagnetism could
also be involving psychokinetic healing, like in the story of Dr. X. As well,
there is no need for a “crescendo” of intensity. UFO experiences can start at
the rarest end P6 without “passing through” any other previous stages. And
again, this scale is mostly useful in evaluating what would be the rarest form
of psi involved in a particular UFO experience. The point here is that the social
and psychological intensity required to produce a synchronicity is considered
as being less than one causing a psychokinetic effect. Hence, in investigating
a case we have a predictive tool to look for data.
The issue of physical traces, such as burning on
the ground, matter brought from somewhere else, and radar tracking can be now be
put in their proper perspective. Burning on the ground are likely to be caused
by some form of plasma. Marks on the ground (as noted in some poltergeists
event) can be a matter of psychokinesis. Matter from somewhere else can be
either brought by a plasma ball or earthlight or a matter of psychokinesis.
Radar tracking can be a matter of psychokinesis interfering with electronic
equipment, some form of flying plasma, or psychokinesis of an object. Hence, I
do not say there is no compelling physical evidence. What I am saying is that
physical evidence are important (and do exist), but they are not of a primary importance;
they are side effects of more crucial social and psychological psi-related