Archives for category: paranormal &tc

In his 2009 book, Christian pollster George Barna explores the varieties of religion in America. I’ve mentioned the book before, since I found it extremely interesting. But I just noticed something: he misses the religion that is coming to birth in our time.

There is no mention of UFOs in this book.

This is a big lapse, because, whatever else may be said about the “ancient aliens/flying saucer” aficionados, they are developing their lore at breakneck speed; it is in a foment as wild and diverse as was Christianity during its first 300 years; and there is a prominent and somewhat ominous spiritual component. Further, there are parallels to the bewildering complexion of religion 2000 years ago, with Gnostic, Orthodox, agnostic, philosophical, and misotheist sub-movements.

Of course, it may be that most members of the “seven faith tribes” that Barna explores in his polling data would be (outside his book) very dismissive of the “UFO nuts,” as to be expected.

“Everyone is.”

But that “everyone” is rapidly diminishing — especially now that several branches of the U.S. Government have admitted to the existence of so-far-as-yet-unexplained aerial phenomena that irregularly-but-not-too-infrequently appear in our oceans and skies, and appear to be (in many cases) craft of some kind.

This leaves the emerging religion in a very dangerous position: it could be captured by real beings of unknown variety — or charlatans and fake-outs. (Or both.) The weirdness of it all is quite dangerous.

You may think that Ancient Aliens is just rube entertainment. You would be wrong. I am not saying it is reliable or even mostly non-nut. But I am saying it is reaching increasing numbers of non-dismissive ears and imaginations, and that this is having a spiritual impact and will have an increasing political impact. The last election was truly interesting, since one of the two major candidates explicitly and repeatedly promised this community disclosure on the subject, from the U.S. Government. What this candidate did not appreciate was that she was, from what I can tell, more deeply distrusted in this community than in most. Not a few “UFO nuts” I have encountered believe that Trump was selected by elements within the Deep State to make a big push against her cult, which is regarded as untrustworthy in the extreme. We are talking Q-Anon kinds of conspiracy. PizzaGate and much, much more — but with the arrest and putative death of Jeffrey Epstein, PizzaGate has gained new legs. And even if this particular rumor turns out (as it looks) to be buncombe, the linkages between the trafficking of youngsters for sexual exploitation by the very rich and famous remains a thing.

Precisely what kind of thing, I do not know.

But it is noteworthy that John Podesta and the Clintons, who feature so big in PizzaGate lore, are all proud pushers of UFO disclosure.

With some amusement I also note that I write about UFO stuff more often than any of my friends would like. It creeps them out. As a known sympathizer with Barna’s so-called Captive Christians (odd name!) while having been for years a member in good standing of Barna’s Spiritual Skeptics, my affinity for UFOs may seem a bit out-of-the-blue. So, disclosure: my reasons for often bringing up this matter are not simple, but manifold:

  1. UFOs have influenced our culture greatly, aesthetically and ethically and spiritually;
  2. UFOs appear to have some unsettling truth-value, precisely what I do not know;
  3. Honest people should feel therefore compelled to consider the issue — admittedly bizarre — in non-dismissive ways;
  4. The issue has links to what I regard as most important story of our epoch, the cataclysms at the end of the Ice Age that are pregnant with paradigm-busting potential;
  5. The subject is such an enigma and so fraught with deception and error that it provides a good challenge for nimble minds — as I hope mine can qualify for, for a while at least;
  6. The subject is intimately related to all major traditional religions and esoteric religious traditions as well as to literature (science fiction) and dreams (ask Jung);
  7. The emerging religious movement that is (just barely) contained within the UFO aficionado community almost surely will prove to have a huge impact on our social world, if we manage to survive what’s coming down the pike.

In my first paragraph, I deliberately echoed Catholic theologian John S. Dunne’s opening words in The Way of All the Earth (1972): “Is a religion coming to birth in our time? 

It could be. What seems to be occurring is a phenomenon we might call ‘passing over,’ passing over from one culture to another, from one way of life to another, from one religion to another. Passing over is a shifting of standpoint, a going over to the standpoint of another culture, another way of life, another religion. It is followed by an equal and opposite process we might call ‘coming back,’ coming back with new insight to one’s own culture, one’s own way of life, one’s own religion.’

Until the last several years, ufology was as alien to me as the religion of Ba’al or Quetzelcoatl. In investigating this sphere of inquiry, speculation, fabulation, and bold conjecture, as well as its attendant spiritual components, I am in a sense trying to do what Dunne discussed. And what a weird world it is: strangely familiar understandings of consciousness are what stand out, and stories of resurrection in new bodies (“containers”) and recirculation of souls and the like litter the UFO noösphere — including literal beliefs in the evolution of a noösphere. Notions out of Hinduism, shamanism, Christianity, Norse myth — they are quite varied. And then there are the politico-social movements, like Ubuntu, which I find quite congenial, I confess.

But there is something even bigger on the line here. The truth. There is some truth in the UFO reports. Or, truths. The UFOs are not just misidentified insect swarms, ball lightning and skunk-work test runs. But figuring out exactly what it is? Difficult. I have no intention of doing the dogmatic thing — the pretend-skeptic thing — of dismissing the subject altogether, on the basis of focusing on just a few mistakes, frauds, and confabulations of obvious lunatics. 

An old theory of mine, though, does come into recollection: when I was young, and a Christian, I conjectured that God would be so outside of comprehensibility that any intersection between God and humankind would not look normal, have a normal feel to it at all. So it would be prejudicial to expect that intercourse with actual aliens would be any more comforting or comprehensible than intercourse with gods and angels and devils and the like would seem. An encounter with a Zeta Reticulan or Mantid or what-have-you would likely seem quite different from talking to a Tuvan or trading with a Quaker, as admittedly odd as those encounters can be in themselves.

Approaching a new field of inquiry with a dismissive attitude and strong preconceptions of possibilities might be a display of Dunning-Kruger more than anything else. Some humility might be in order.

And holding ideas in Epoché should hardly be difficult for a “skeptic”!

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Hunched over for work. And I cannot right now find my computer glasses.

A few years ago it came as something of a surprise to me to learn that UFOs and associated paranormal phenomena are not merely dismissible as misunderstood natural phenomena, hallucinations, dream experiences, psychopathological ideations, desperate frauds, and the like. There is a strange-yet-physical reality to these data that I had previously dismissed.

I was aided in getting over my “skeptical” programming — and more open to the vast volume of UFO reports and evidence — by the lesson I was learning, simultaneously, involving new information about the end of the last Ice Age, which turns out to be hugely significant for our understanding of religion, civilization and Homo sapiens sapiens.

How so?

We now know that there were indeed worldwide floods — that, in other words, the Deluge was real, if not entirely congruent with Biblical or other mythic accounts. With a reality now almost certain behind the worldwide mythology of a universal flood — or multiple ones, as Plato’s lore instructs — then other universal myths also had to be considered, including the possibility of a race of superhuman/non-human civilizers, tales of giants, and, of course, the tropes of Enoch and Ezekiel . . . “wheels within wheels.”

But what the reality behind the data is, I know not. The extra-terrestrial alien hypothesis, of which I was familiar from science fiction as well as the popular craze from the days of my youth, Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods (1968), seems a natural enough conjecture.

But others must be considered, as I did yesterday.

Nevertheless, it remains the case that the ET/Alien Hypothesis looks pretty good. It turns out that the Carl Sagan’s early work involving the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence was a scientific exploration of what we now think of as the Ancient Alien Hypothesis, not SETI:

[P]eople who think they know Carl Sagan invariably know him the way that influential individuals and powerful institutions in charge of his legacy want them to know him. All along, throughout the course of his 40-year professional career, Carl Sagan believed that advanced extraterrestrials exist and that they have been to Earth. Carl Sagan was an ancient alien theorist, convinced that human civilization was a gift from visiting aliens.

The truth is that from 1956, when Sagan was a 22-year-old whiz kid at the University of Chicago hobnobbing with Nobel laureates, until December 20, 1996, the day of his death, Sagan not only believed in ancient aliens, he single-handedly built a scientifically rigorous model that makes it possible for ancient alienism to hopefully, one day soon, become a legitimate field of inquiry.

Donald Zygutis, The Sagan Conspiracy: NASA’s Untold Plot to Suppress The People’s Scientist’s Theory of Ancient Aliens (2013).

Now, sure, author Donald Zygutis may overplay his hand in the passage quoted above. Did Sagan “believe” in the ancient alien hypothesis? Or did he merely continue to float it as a conjecture worthy of scientific investigation?

As I often warn my friends: on matters of an unsettled nature, my beliefs may not be as important or as interesting as my suspicions,

In any case, Sagan did elaborate the ancient alien hypothesis before von Däniken:

Sagan thought that in a few centuries, humans will have developed the technology for interstellar travel. If that is true, he pondered, shouldn’t aliens, having civilizations possibly millions of years older and millions of year more advanced than ours, have already been to Earth? In the 10-year period between 1956 and 1966, he wasn’t writing popular books, appearing on the Johnny Carson Show, or hawking the virtues of space exploration to the masses; he had his nose set to the grindstone, engaged in the most ambitious project of his life: to build an airtight science-based argument that Earth has been visited by advanced extraterrestrials.

Zygutis quotes one of Sagan’s lines of conjecture:

Some years ago, I came upon a legend which more nearly fulfills some of our criteria for a genuine contact myth. It is of special interest because it relates to the origin of Sumerian civilization. Sumer was an early—perhaps the first—civilization in the contemporary sense on the planet Earth. It was founded in the fourth millennium B.C. or earlier. We do not know where the Sumerians came from. Their language was strange; it had no cognates with any known Indo-European, Semitic, or other language, and is only because a later people, the Akkadians, compiled extensive Sumerian-Akkadian dictionaries.
The successors to the Sumerians and the Akkadians were the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. Thus the Sumerian civilization is in many respects the ancestor of our own. I feel that if Sumerian civilization is depicted by the descendants of the Sumerians themselves to be of nonhuman origin, the relevant legends should be examined carefully. I do not claim that the following is necessarily an example of extraterrestrial contact, but it is the type of legend that deserves more careful study.
Taken at face value, the legend suggests that contact occurred between human beings and a non-human civilization of immense powers on the shores of the Persian Gulf, perhaps near the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Eridu, and in the fourth millennium B.C. or earlier.

This is not really all that “out there.” But in this passage Sagan explores one angle of the possibility:

There are three different but cross-referenced accounts of the Apkallu dating from classical times. Each can be traced back to Berosus, a priest of Bel-Marduk, in the city of Babylon, at the time of Alexander the Great. Berosus, in turn, had access to cuneiform and pictographic records dating back several thousand years before his time.

Carl Sagan, in Sagan and Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966).

There are many reasons to doubt the theory that Sagan developed. But it deserves careful attention. That most “smart people” dismiss it says no more about it than the academic and political support for fiscal stimulus programs says about the merits of Keynesianism.

And “smart people” should wonder: why are they so easily led to shaming techniques and irrational, social bullying paradigm defenses?

Similar to the case of “conspiracy theories,” a term of derision parlayed by the CIA via the major media in the late 1960s to direct citizens’ attention away from the bizarreries of the facts in the case of the JFK assassination, the bad odor of the ET Hypothesis (to explain what we have so far learned about UFOs) and the Ancient Alien Hypothesis (to fill in the lacuna in our knowledge of the fast growth of civilization after the fifth millennium B.C.) may in part be the result of a psy-op from the masters of psy-ops within the Deep State.

Sure, much nonsense surrounds these two related theories. There is a lot of cringe in popular accounts — I have seen Ancient Aliens (2009-) and its ilk, and its standard “could it be” meme gets mighty annoying after its third iteration. But “smart people” are supposed to be resistant to ad hominem and guilt by association techniques. We wouldn’t dismiss Einstein’s two theories of relativity because television science fiction and college freshman get them horribly, horribly wrong. Though we use ridiculousness and poisoned fruit notions as rules of thumb, if we are ruled by intellectual rules of thumb only, and not a philosophical and scientific epistemic, we must relegate ourselves to the lowest form of ideologue.

It has been my experience in dealing with scoffers about UFOs and the like: they do not know much about what they are talking about, and though they keep demanding “evidence,” they tend to ignore lots of evidence.

Applying Occam’s Razor is a fine thing. Considering the simplest theories without multiplying “explanatory entities” is great. But epistemological shavers don’t get to damn whole sets of data. The idea is not to multiply explanatory entities needlessly, not diminish the number of facts to be explained.

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