By Benjamin (with Leah)
I am writing this article knowing that it will be polarizing among my peers involved in the paranormal community. Many will love it and use it when a member of their team wants to look for UFOs. However, I fully expect that many people I know personally will find this article, and the writer, at best naïve and gullible. Other people I know may find it to be downright offensive and insulting. I am not writing this article to prompt anyone to take umbrage.
I am writing this article because among many investigators, the issue of UFOs and aliens often comes up, and when it does, I find myself biting my tongue given my own analysis of the subject. My goal when I investigate is not to create a narrative and have the facts fit it, but to base a narrative off the facts and corroborated statements of credible persons. Likewise, in this article I want to point out facts, logical fallacies and important details that Ufologists, conspiracy theorists, fans of the show Ancient Aliens, members of the public at large and many paranormal investigators have simply not considered or have brushed aside. I have the heard the latter at least once when I tried to convince a paranormal investigator that no alien was present during an investigation.
I do not wish at all to offend anyone because belief in this topic may be firmly ingrained in a person’s psyche. There are many people who truly believe that they were abducted by aliens. There are sane people who believe they were detained by aliens who absconded with them in spaceships and were subjected to degrading and inhumane acts. That is, in most cases, a medical phenomenon that has occurred across every culture and interestingly, in most cultures when this phenomenon happens aliens are not seen, but other entities are seen that are generally culturally specific. I will discuss that medical phenomenon in more detail later in this article.
I am not arguing that intelligent life from other planets does not exist nor is it my contention that extraterrestrials have not visited our planet. The title is a pretty good description of this article’s focus. Regardless, belief in aliens and UFOs may be more common, or at least more acceptable and less than stigmatic, than belief in ghosts. Although the Federal Government has funded research in both the paranormal and UFOs, much more funding has gone towards UFO research (I encourage the reader to simply look on the internet to check my claims). It is no secret, and certainly not a conspiracy theory, that the Federal Government has engaged in many endeavors researching UFOs and aliens. Many United States senators such as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former power broker Senator Ted Stevens quietly, but without any opposition, pushed for funding for UFO research during their time in the legislature.
Interestingly, the Senate’s funding of UFO research was not done secretly but received very little attention from the media until both Senators Reid and Stevens left the legislature. Importantly, like several other government programs that sought to find and identify UFOs, there was no secrecy, which alone poses a difficult problem for people who believe that the government is hiding what it knows about extraterrestrial beings and aircraft. Other government programs such as Project Blue Book, which was active between 1950 and 1970, spent countless hours studying thousands of reported UFOs. Scientists and researchers involved with Project Blue Book fully acknowledged that they encountered a small percentage of aircraft or phenomenon in the sky that were classified as “unexplained”, even using scientific analysis.
“Unexplained” sighting does not imply that what was seen was alien aircraft, but simply that a determination could not be made. For Ufologists and conspiracy theorists, the status of “unexplained” provides fodder that what was seen were alien aircrafts. However, various groups of people who believe the government is hiding information regarding UFOs and aliens miss a point that could not be any more obvious. If the government was hiding information from the public regarding aliens and UFOs, scientists associated with the government would never admit that it encountered objects in the sky that, despite the analysis of scientists, could not be explained.
The status “unexplained” should resonate with paranormal investigators. As paranormal investigators, we often encounter other investigators who insist adamantly that something completely unclear must be paranormal, without any clear indication, and the fact that natural causes could account for it. The fact that something is unclear or unexplainable does not imply that anything is paranormal. The burden of proof is always on the part of the investigator that it is paranormal, and that nothing else can account for it. The burden of proof is never on the part of a skeptic. Claiming that an orb in a picture was not caused by dust, although dust could have been a factor, is never going to convince a skeptic, or even a discerning believer, that something is paranormal. Similarly, a sound that somewhat resembles words from another language played on a computer application in slow motion, and then at another speed, is not going to convince many people that you have an EVP.
The fact that something is unexplainable means just that. The location called “Area 51” is such an example. Although on YouTube, among other places, “witnesses” can be heard claiming they worked at the famed military base, the truth is that very few people know what goes on there. This is a prime example of a place that people cannot explain, which tends to make people wonder and causes minds to essentially fill in the blanks. For many conspiracy theorists, that is all the proof needed that something really strange is going on there. The nature of the military base creates a perfect storm for people who want to believe in UFOs, given it is an Air Force base and the people who are employed there have Top Secret Security clearances and refuse to talk about.
For some people, given that the government engages in activities that are unknown and cannot be explained by everyday people, grandiose ideas regarding the purpose of the base are bound to take root. There was a time when people believed what their government said.
The government has engaged in several other projects, utilizing mainly the Air Force, to look for evidence of UFOs. Given the amount of money spent by the United States in search of UFOs, and the fact that powerful Senators were reelected on numerous occasions, it is pretty clear that the public as a whole does not look at a person as strange or mentally ill for believing that aliens have visited our planet. The same cannot be said of paranormal investigating. Despite the popularity of ghost hunting shows, paranormal investigators are typically looked at by most of the scientific community, along with much of the public, as on the fringe. I have heard a few paranormal investigators state that ghost hunting has become mainstream, and that there is no stigma attached to it. That is easy to believe when most of your friends are paranormal investigators as well, and when you constantly watch ghost-hunting shows.
In reality, those of us who engage in the endeavor of paranormal investigations are still definitely considered on the fringe. Two examples of men who were involved in the political process indicate how differently those that believe in UFOs are treated than people who engage in paranormal investigation. Recently in Alaska, a former paranormal investigator was an appointee for a position in state government to head a department that paid compensation to victims of crime. In a hearing, multiple members of the Alaskan state senate posed numerous questions to the political appointee. The questions reflected a genuine concern on the part of the senators that the appointee believed in ghosts. Nothing was asked of the former paranormal investigator indicating any concern on the part of Alaskan legislators regarding his criminal record. The simple fact that he had been a paranormal investigator was enough for him to be rejected.
Belief regarding UFOs has never carried the same stigma. Belief in UFOs and aliens is not a new thing and has been reported for some time. Aside from the fact that multiple senators have sought and obtained funding for research into unidentified aircraft, is the fact that various elected officials have made statements indicating belief in intelligent life on other planets. Aside from former and sitting members of the Senate, President Jimmy Carter reported seeing a UFO while governor of Georgia in 1969. He also reported the encounter in 1972 for it to be investigated. It was never an issue in 1976 when he successfully ran for president.
One thing I noticed early in paranormal investigations is the overzealousness of investigators to make anything paranormal, no matter how easily debunked, similar to UFO enthusiasts. Unfortunately, many paranormal investigators incorrectly use multiple words that have specific meanings in the scientific community. Many words like hypothesis, theory and scientific method have very different meanings when used by scientists than when used by the public at large. Given that most paranormal investigators are not scientists, this is not something for anyone to be ashamed of until you consider that many paranormal teams swear they are only using scientific methods.
More than once, I’ve listened to a self-described expert in the paranormal pontificate when answering questions that neither he/she nor anyone else can answer. Perhaps when the scientific community immediately sees such a scenario, they dismiss all of us as pseudo-scientists and frauds. Don’t call an idea you have a theory unless you have scientific data to support it. Otherwise, it’s just that–an idea–and does not even make it to the level of a hypothesis. Similarly, Ufologists consider themselves scientists. However, by definition and the standards of the scientific method, Ufology is not a science at all. The scientific method requires that studies and experiments are able to be reproduced by another scientist. It also requires that studies are controllable. Ufology is excluded as a science from the get-go because of the very nature of what it studies. If UFOs are authentic, they are still not available for a Ufologist to study in a controlled environment.
By the testimony of people who allege to have seen UFOs, they are constantly on the move, preventing the study. I say that partially in jest, but the facts as stated were scientifically accurate. I will be the first to acknowledge that paranormal investigating is not a science for the simple fact that the paranormal cannot be studied given the unpredictable nature of spirits. Among paranormal investigators, there seems to be what can only be described as an inability to distinguish between mere possibility and actual evidence. Very little more than mere possibility is often fallaciously recycled by some investigators into evidence that something happened. Subsequently, the idea somehow evolves, well…evolve is not the right word, but after discussion, becomes a “theoretical” model among investigators. Coming from the scientific background, a theory is not just any idea, and it is a well-reasoned hypothetical model that has evidence that supports it. Among paranormal investigators, sometimes this can be turned on its head. Inversely, an idea within the realm of possibility, now a “theory”, causes many investigators to go in to something with a preconceived idea. That prompts them to use even the most suspect evidence, questionable photograph or an overproduce, but a still really vague EVP, is now considered evidence, in air quotation marks.
For some people, given the government engages in activities that are unknown and cannot be explained by everyday people, grandiose ideas regarding the purpose of a secret location Area 51 are bound to take shape. Similarly, the belief that the government is in the name of security, because it can or to avoid massive panic, is hiding evidence is not new, but it has developed over time. One of the reasons I believe that preoccupation on UFOs and aliens are rampant in the United States is partially our cultural experience over the past several decades. Events over multiple decades in the United States have created the right set of circumstances for a belief about aliens and UFOs to be commonly held. There was a time when people believed what their government said. This has not been true for Americans for some time.
Part of it could have been the fact that the Vietnam was virtually always on TV during the course of the conflict. This prompted a lot of the public to become skeptical, and justifiably so. Not long after the Vietnam conflict sees, the president lied repeatedly to the American people about his involvement in a series of events in what would become the Watergate scandal, or just Watergate. During that same decade, but under different leadership, the American embassy in Tehran was occupied and many Americans were held hostage. In the next decade what started as a conspiracy theory, became one of the most shocking hours in American history. During the 1980s, officially, there was little contact between the United States and Iran, especially given the ladder at taking our citizens hostage, investigators would prove a very bizarre theory to be true. At the time, the cold war was in full effect. Multiple regimes in the Americas, Africa and Asia were for all practical purposes satellite states of two major superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. Nicaragua’s pro-capitalist rebels, known as the Contras, were engaged in a civil war with the pro-Soviet Sandinistas. Governments, whether democracies, oligarchies, monarchies, and even totalitarian regimes, have supported civil wars when one side had interests that were in line with their own, so intervention was not shocking. It was where the Contras had obtained their aid that was shocking. The United States sold weapons to Iran, a country with whom it still has no diplomatic relations with, and used the funds to arm the Contras.
Since the Iran-Contra scandal, it has become common to learn about many other instances in which the government lied. However, the decade leading up to the Iran-Contra scandal was shortly followed by the advent of the internet. The internet itself can be fairly accused of having a direct impact on our current culture, but it also created the perfect storm for people to believe that the government is hiding information. More so than ever before, the internet provided, and provides, the exchange of ideas. People have become more acquainted with conspiracy theories and ideas they would not have encountered otherwise. It’s not by mistake that the X-Files and Alien Autopsy were shown in the mid-to-late nineties, the decade when the internet came into common use. I understand that people have reported seeing UFOs, or flying saucers, for a lot longer than the last few decade. However, I’m stating this is an era where on more than one occasion, conspiracy theorists that out to be accurate, the public has become ripe to believe the claims of UFO enthusiasts.
A simple fact is that the claim that the UFO enthusiasts can be debunked based upon the alleged role in motive of the government that believers claim. One of the ways that people can get around serious problems in an argument is to use a distraction, in the form of a statement that cannot be proven. Some people who are biblical creationist, in terms of the Genesis account, makes statements that God put fossils that appear to be a million years old in the ground to test people’s faith. That is a statement that cannot be assessed, much less proven true or false. A similar a cop-out that UFO enthusiasts use to explain why the public has not seen the evidence for alien abductions and other similar claims is because of government conspiracies.
UFO enthusiasts apparently have never considered what the statement used in support of belief in alien counters means when fully accepted. When this belief is fully accepted a believer in such encounters now has to consider that if the United States government is suppressing such evidence for aliens, what about other countries? UFO enthusiasts apparently never consider that their claim that the United States is covering up evidence of UFOs in alien activity, presents them with more problems than it solves. The problem becomes that if the United States is hiding evidence, what about the other 200 countries on the globe and on the planet? Are all 200 sovereign countries also hiding information? That stops being a government conspiracy, and becomes the most well orchestrated lie that member states have agreed to abide by. If you believe that our government is doing that, stop and tell yourself that there is an agreement among all sovereign countries to hide evidence of aliens and ask yourself how it sounds when you just say it to yourself.
If one believes that all countries are hiding the evidence, one has to wonder why a rogue leader who is being taken out of office or about to be executed hasn’t spill the beans. One also has to assume that rogue countries regularly use this as a bargaining chip. (If only we would let the North Koreans talk about alien aircraft.) The idea that every country in the world is conspiring to hide evidence of UFOs is absurdly impossible. The conspiracy theory regarding the apparent deception of not only The United States government, but every government, is proven impossible not by science but by political dynamics. Finally, many people have claimed in detail about alien abduction.
This is another “theory” that is debunked based on a medical diagnosis and the demographic differences in the phenomenon. Night terrors, traditionally called night hags, are a fairly common sleep disorder that occurs throughout the world. One of the most interesting aspects of the phenomenon is that when a person is suffering from the sleep paralysis they often report being harmed by an entity. It is really interesting, because one’s culture almost determines what entity a person sees. In the United States people often see aliens or shadow figures. In Russia people typically reports seeing a woman from the woods named Baba Yaga. And Scandinavian countries an incubus or succubus is often seen. More interesting is the fact that encounters with greys correspond almost entirely with areas where sufferers of night terrors see aliens.
Finally, given the United States government’s track record of openly admitting that UFOs have been investigated, the conspiracy theory is even harder to justify. That, and the government has admitted that some objects cannot be identified. If the government was conspiring to oppress information they would’ve at least failed to disclose the money spent on UFO research and the fact that it is not been hidden.
Sorry, the government is not lying at least in terms of extraterrestrial activity.