Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2019
Traversing the long and winding road of High-Strangeness
by: Brent Raynes
What at the present time amounts to anomalous so-called “paranormal” characteristics of consciousness and physics linked to the UFO experience potentially plays an ever complex and confounding role in the unfolding life of the UFO close encounter and contact experiencer, along with the struggles of the UFO investigator to overcome cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias in order to do a proper job of documenting such encounters. Though mainstream ufology has long struggled contentiously with this issue in a way very similar to how parapsychologists have long struggled with the psychic mediums and their spiritualist belief systems – striving to shake the perceived color and subjectivity from genuine accounts and documentable demonstrations – sticking most closely with well observed and tested psychic incidents and demonstrations of things like psychokinesis, telepathy, and remote viewing - so too the “scientific” ufologist has strived to document and present an accurate and objective account of a UFO “close encounter” situation. After all, good evidence requires solid evidence, and in the process of aiming for something solid and substantial the ufologist has often gone after what appear to be “nuts and bolts” craft, the favored and seemingly most probable explanation to that field’s mainstream being that of extraterrestrial nature and origin.
One can’t get much more solid than that. However, a good investigator, like a good detective who needs a smoking gun to solve a murder mystery, the good investigative ufologist, in the absence of his smoking gun (or, in his case, a smoking flying saucer’s tailpipe) must very thoroughly and objectively sift through the contents of an experiencer’s narrative. The interviewer should initially begin with an unstructured interview approach, allowing the witness to simply tell their story from start to finish, in their own words, sharing the essential details that are most meaningful to them, without interruption – except in the event some statement’s meaning is unclear. Once the story has been told, then the interviewer needs to tactfully question further, getting the witness to fill in certain potentially critical details that may not have been touched upon in the witness’s initial description.
The interviewer needs to exercise caution when first interrogating a witness. Don’t do (as sadly many have done) begin by describing to the witness drawn out details about your own personal conclusions and beliefs before they even have a chance to share what happened to them. I once rode along with a newspaper columnist to meet with some people who reported seeing a UFO. Before they could utter a word, beyond a cordial how do you do, this investigator/columnist excitedly told them about contactees, MIBs, and Bigfoot. He felt that he was educating them, of course, as he had been investigating and reporting on this subject matter, but naturally you could be frontloading an opportunist unintentionally who might then come back at you with some made-up stories, based on things you just freely shared, or they might withhold certain details that could be critical to the case, because you’ve said something about what you believe, or maybe even what you don’t believe, and so they may only share a part or select portions of an experience that they may feel you’ll be able to accept. Jacques Vallee followed up on a previously investigated case of a witness who saw a solid looking UFO leave the ground and shoot through solid trees and another time saw a being by their bed one night – which that person didn’t tell the previous investigators, she admitted, because she knew from their conversation prior that they would not have believed those details.
Experienced and seasoned UFO investigators also know (or should know) that witnesses frequently divulge, given the right circumstances and support, some real oddball “paranormal” anomalies. They often have reported that such anomalies seemingly appear or increase (if they had prior psychic sensitivity) in conjunction with a UFO close encounter or “contact” event. The truth is many investigators over the years have dismissed such claims, expressing that they were not part of their particular field, and belonged more to people involved in parapsychology – with the same holding true with ufologists who might investigate a UFO landing or contact case and learn of a cryptid encounter too. They might simply leave it out of their report because again it’s not part of their particular field. Let the cryptozoologists deal with that stuff! [And, of course, the cryptozoologists and parapsychologists often feel the same way about including UFO details in with their data. Let the UFO buffs deal with the little green men!] There’s a serious lack of multidisciplinary interaction going on and it’s related to the mindsets of the investigative parties. I know of a MUFON state director who told me she has encountered these high-strangeness UFO investigative interviews and she provides MUFON with the details that MUFON requests on their forms and field investigative requirements – while keeping the paranormal and cryptid details to herself to further her own personal studies and understanding of the so-called high-strangeness situations – which she explains she has found to be very significant to her.
Real science should not have to operate in such a fashion. It should take in all or nothing.
Rather than organizations and groups striving to have everyone to march in synch to the same drumbeat and pursue the same approach or goal, different alternative approaches and strategies should be encouraged. Scientists test out various approaches and theories and allow for constructive “peer reviewed” journal/publication submissions as a matter of course. We need to interject the same level of professional integrity and approach within our alternative fields in order to elevate them above the current “pseudoscience” level that most associate us being.