• AP Magazine

    An alternative way to explore and explain the mysteries of our world. "Published since 1985, online since 2001."

  • 1
Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, January 2020

by: Brent Raynes

The perplexing “soft” sightings of ufology

Persuasive physical evidence to support the objective reality of the so-called “UFO enigma” – those anomalous eyewitness reports of metallic looking domed disc-shaped objects, elongated cigar-shaped ones, huge triangular shaped “craft” – and a variety of others – have been seriously elusive going back to 1947, but of course we know similar observations historically go back even much, much further. Journalist John Keel had noted back in 1969 (1) that ufologists favored the reports of the classic domed disk, that he called “hard” objects, as they conformed to ufology’s “nuts and bolts” mainstream ET perspective, noting however that “such objects form only a small part (5 to 10 percent) of the overall sightings,” and how truly identical UFOs seem extremely rare. But then there were the “soft,” or “bastard” sightings, as he also called them, that seemed to be really out-of-line with mainstream ufology’s preferred theoretical, albeit oft-times belief-ridden expectations.

“In my field trips, I have carefully weighed the psychological factors,” Keel wrote. “I have found groups of six or ten witnesses who all described the same identical details of a given object in a given area. But ten or twenty miles away, another group of witnesses would describe a seemingly different object, even though the timing of their sightings dovetailed. I have been told about tiny ‘flying buzzsaws’ hovering over strip mines, and gigantic, multi-windowed spheres hovering above power plants. Yet I have not discovered identical objects hovering over different power plants or strip mines.”

“On the other hand, the many thousands of ‘soft’ sightings are very uniform. Witnesses in Nebraska describe essentially the same phenomena as witnesses in Maine or Manitoba. How many times have you read about groups of tiny, bright lights, all apparently under intelligent control, suddenly converging to form one big light, which then flies off? Or, frequently, the process is reversed, and one big light will suddenly split into several small ones, with each one flying off on an independent, controlled course. These cases are usually mentioned once in the UFO publications and then forgotten.”

Many of them are reportedly capable of exhibiting extraordinary, puzzling maneuvers and velocities, often described as well beyond the capabilities of our own known aircraft. Oddly enough, this has left the field of ufology, with over seven decades of “ufologists” and other interested parties, still struggling thus far without recognizable success to provide the undeniable and proverbial “smoking gun” proof of their literal existence. In addition, despite various claims and rumors that the governments of the world have secured such proof, allegedly in the form of clear footage, UFO wreckages, and alien bodies, civilian ufology itself has long lacked conclusively compelling and fully persuasive evidence by which to successfully convince the academic community that this field is worthy of serious investigation and should be elevated above the scientific mainstream’s perception of it as a pseudoscience.

Nonetheless, the staggering degree of testimonial evidence alone, with thousands upon thousands of incredible reports generated by seemingly credible observers, from all over the globe, though deemed in a subjective light by most scientists who too want the “hard” evidence, has kept this long enduring controversy from dying out. I’ve been wrestling with this chaotic but mesmerizing chimera now for 53 years. I hate to admit it but I’ve had too many friends in this field, who were once filled with contagious zeal and optimism believing that we were on the cusp of an answer to it all who, all too sadly, have since shuffled off of their mortal coils and gone on, as people say, to their just rewards.

I hope that in a presumed happily-ever-after afterlife that they now possess the answers that were so elusive on this side of the veil, and hopefully they were well worth the long wait and anticipation. Back in my much younger years, I had an optimistic pep to my step with all of this, and while I still certainly strive for a positive and optimistic outcome, my outreach is tempered with sobering insights and revelations that can only be acquired through the years of one repeatedly beating their head into the same wall, over and over again.

Soon after entering the UFO field, I realized chasing funny points of lights in the sky, often seen at a distance, wasn’t going to significantly advance my understanding of the phenomenon. Certainly, things like satellites, planes, and temperature inversions of Venus low on the horizon contaminate such a pool of such data. Meaningful descriptive information about anything anomalous out there is seriously lacking with that kind of information. So naturally I, like many other “ufologists,” gravitated to the “close encounter” reports, which included the “occupants” as well. This strategy, as Keel once expressed when referring in an interview about the “paranormal” elements that he brought to the attention of “ufologists” in a major way back in the 1960s and ‘70s, was like opening Pandora’s Box. Things got a lot more complicated and confusing, and today the emerging outcome from all of that has been the realization, with some daring souls at least, that consciousness, parapsychology, and theoretical physics are undoubtably crucial components embedded deep within this mystery.

One often doesn’t initially appreciate how bewildering an enigmatic quagmire they have launched themselves into. Not in the beginning. It takes a little time to recognize that the surface appearances, even though they may contain all of these delicious, suggestive and delightful details that seem rather self-evident and revealing at first, are themselves “soft” and “subjective” to a significant degree. When you factor in the reality distortions of Jenny Randles’ “oz effect,” the “screen memories” of owls, deer, and other distortions associated with abduction reports, Keel’s “soft” sightings, that may even include shape-shifting orbs, poltergeist activity on the heels of much of this activity, in addition to a whole full-spectrum panorama of paranormal manifestations embodied throughout all of this, then, and only then, can a researcher fully appreciate what a deep pool that they’ve waded into. One must either swim or sink at this point, many sinking and failing to rise back to the surface and objectively attempting to properly survey the contents of the entire pool. Many tantalizing and convincing belief systems are thus created from our interactions with these perplexing phenomena. Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia (1969) and Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse (1970) tried to point this all out half a century ago by comparing the modern UFO contact phenomenon with ancient and historical accounts of encounters with fairies, elementals, angels, demons, fire-breathing dragons – all of which bore quite a number of curious similarities.

John Michael Greer, an author and student of monster lore and the occult, delved well into these similarities in his book, Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide to Magical Beings (2001). He explains how the word fairy was derived from the Latin verb fatare, meaning “to enchant,” and there’s another word “fay,” from the same root word meaning enchanted or enchanting being. Greer wrote:

“While both fays and ‘aliens’ apparently come in a wide array of sizes, shapes, and species, the most common forms of each are small (two to four feet) and humanoid, with large heads and eyes, small and thin bodies, and grayish or brownish skin. Several of the other common types of fays and aliens are closely similar as well; for example, the tall, blond, blue-eyed ‘Nordics’ described by many witnesses bear a striking resemblance to the sidhe of Irish legend and the lios-alfar of the Norse sagas.

“Fays and ‘aliens’ alike have remarkable powers over the human mind; both seem to paralyze, confuse, delude, and mislead human beings more or less at will. People who report close encounters with ‘aliens’ also describe distortions of consciousness, especially consciousness of time, that has very close parallels in faery folklore.”

Some researchers even perceived similarities between the Muslim belief in the Djinn and our modern ufonauts. “These creatures, the Djinn of the Muslim religion and the elementals in the Buddhist religion, reportedly can materialize and dematerialize, and so can our Western culture’s abducting creatures,” ufologist Ann Druffel explained to me. “They shape-shift in various forms, they delight in harassing and traumatizing human beings. They reportedly abduct human beings and transport them long distances in a matter of seconds. And the Djinn, the elementals, and our own abducting greys have taken a sexual interest in human beings down through the millennia. In every major culture of the world, and in many minor cultures, they all have these same folkloric stories, and even religious and philosophical texts in some of the countries talk about this ‘third order of creation,’ as the Muslims call it. They aren’t angels, they aren’t devils, they aren’t human beings. They’re something in between that share our world with us in a hidden state.”

Other researchers who seriously entertained a Djinn connection with our modern alien abduction and contact encounters were such noted researchers as Rosemary Ellen Guiley and British researcher Gordon Creighton. What are we to make of these modern and ancient accounts with these and more surprising similarities?

We’ve barely scratched the surface of these misleading and puzzling surface appearances. Carl Jung speculated on powerful visionary and unusual “psychoid” images springing forth from a collective unconscious, and Jung was certainly not afraid to include the paranormal, synchronicity, and advanced physics in with his search for answers. Keel referred to “ultraterrestrials” from a “parallel world” that were mischievous, and at times destructive trickster-type beings. Vallee speculated that we were dealing with a misunderstood intelligence that was communicating in what he called “metalogic” that on the surface seems absurd to us. For example, he cited a case in France from 1954 when a person claimed a ufonaut asked him, “What time is it?” The witness said, “It’s 2:30.” The ufonaut was said to have responded with, “You lie; it is four o’clock.”

These kinds of seeming absurdities in such accounts can be difficult enough for the serious ufologist to process, as this kind of dialogue between a human and a presumed ET being on the surface sounds absolutely bonkers. However, Vallee speculated that such a communication could have been symbolic. “Could it be that the true meaning of the dialogue is ‘time is not what you think it is,’ or ‘any measurement of time can only be relative.’?” Vallee wrote. “In 1961, similarly, Barney Hill found himself trying to explain to the humanoid examining him that time was an important concept for us on earth. The humanoid appeared not to understand what he meant. The point of these incidents seems to have been to convey the fact that consciousness transcended time itself.”

“Situations such as these often have the deep poetic and paradoxical quality of Eastern religious tales (‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’) and the mystical expressions of the Cabala, such as references to a ‘dark flame.’ If you strive to convey a truth that lies beyond the semantic level made possible by your audience’s language, you must construct apparent contradictions in terms of ordinary meaning. In the above case in France the next question was about space and again was absurd (‘Am I in Italy or Germany?’ asked the UFO pilot). What scientist would take such a story seriously? What public official would risk his reputation by reacting in earnest? Even a priest might avoid it, for fear of demons! In fact, some witnesses have thought they had seen demons because the creature had the unpredictability and mischievousness associated with popular conceptions of the devil.” (2)

Recently [12-28-2019] in a conversation with Scott Colborn, host of KZUM FM 89.3 Radio’s Exploring Unexplained Phenomena out of Lincoln, Nebraska, Scott and I discussed how intentionality, our own mental processes, may at times play some sort of causal role in the nature of our anomalous experiences. Scott talked about Utah’s Skinwalker Ranch and the disturbing, negative experiences described by individuals with military backgrounds who have been involved in investigating this site. I in turn responded as to how Dr. Christopher “Kit” Green, formerly of the CIA’s so-called “weird desk,” going back to the days of “remote viewing” and psychokinesis studies at SRI (Stanford Research Institute) and elsewhere [for which he was assigned to monitor much of that] and in recent years Dr. Garry Nolan of Stanford’s Nolan Lab, have been working together studying UAP type experiencers – many of whom have military and security backgrounds, and how some of them have suffered UAP-related beam of light injuries. In an email exchange with Nolan I asked about healing cases, and at that time, back early in 2019, they had had none.

At this point, I can’t help but think of Keel’s notion of a “reflective factor” wherein whatever beliefs, expectations, or intentions that we may unconsciously bring into the experience, which could reflect our background and particular mindset, these could get somehow introduced into the fabric of contactee/paranormal experiences. What if we’re dealing with an interactive intelligence that reads us in a process that sounds like what we call telepathy (3) and may feed back to us memories and scenarios that are structured to conform to our belief systems and expectations to some degree.

While Keel leaned heavily in the direction of a trickster that didn’t have our best interests at heart, what if the trickster experience, depending upon our intentionality, could lead us to positive experiences, if we knew how to work it that way? My friend Dr. Greg Little, a Memphis (TN) psychologist, is a walking encyclopedia on Native American matters, and is in fact the author of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Indian Mounds and Earthworks. On the subject of the Native American trickster, and versed on Keel’s ideas as well, Greg told me: “The trickster forces are there to essentially test you, to see how balanced you are, to see how serious you are, to see if your inquiry into the spiritual world is full of good motives or negative motives. The tricksters are designed to delude people, to mislead them.” “If you can get by the trickster – even those described in Native American lore – if you can see through them, then you can get to the next level of the spiritual world. There are more levels, of course, and with each level comes deepening truth.”

Hopefully I’ve laid sufficient groundwork down in this column to touch upon additional points and cases I feel are relevant to what I’ve just written here. It’s a lot of ground to cover but I feel it certainly touches upon significant areas that need to be seriously pondered and delved into!

I’ll strive to continue this thread in further detail in the next issue.

References: 1. Searching for the String: Selected Writings of John A. Keel, edited by Andy Colvin (2014); Chapter 18. Feature originally appeared in England’s Flying Saucer Review, 1969, feature entitled The Principle of Transmogrification.
2. Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact (1988), by Jacques Vallee.
3. Consider the FREE [Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences] study described in Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness and Contact with Non Human Intelligence, Vol. 1, 2018, where 78 percent of their contact experiencers surveyed felt that they’d had “some type of telepathic or thought transference” associated with their encounters.

MIB haunting New York cemetery where Charles Fort is buried?

In this issue, check out the interview that I and Barbara Mango, Ph.D., recently did with Claudia Cunningham of Albany, New York. Tim Beckley calls Claudia “the MIB Lady” – MIB being a subject she’s quite keenly interested in as well as UFOs, the paranormal, and Bigfoot. Up in the Albany area, Claudia has been investigating a large cemetery where all sorts of high-strangeness things happen, including an MIB type encounter which was definitely paranormal related. And to top it all off, the body of Charles Fort, the father of the Fortean movement, is buried there. It’s also just a few miles from the same area where the high-strangeness events described in “Mystery on the Mohawk,” included in this issue, were reported back in the 1960s.

Government interested in psychic kids?

We know from various reports over the years that segments of our military/government have taken some serious interest in people with psychic abilities. Just think of the SRI studies into “remote viewing” and psychokinesis and how Kit Green of the CIA was assigned to keep a close eye on things, and certainly we have all gotten wind of other programs as well.

Back in 1973, in an interview with John Keel, he described how he had heard from various contacts about some government program to help kids with high IQs to get through college and then come to work for the government. Keel stated:

“This seems to me to be a rather extraordinary program. The government does have programs to finance exceptional children with the agreement that the students will pay somehow after they get out of college -- but I am aware of no deal wherein the students would have to go into the government when they get out of college.”

“When I was in Washington I decided to get to the bottom of this thing. I was with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. I nosed around, and no one has ever heard of such a thing. I've tried to keep in touch with these six contacted families, but now I have lost communications with all of them. I would like to find out what has happened to them -- or what will happen to them when their kids are out of school. This doesn't sound like something the CIA would go in for. They are interested in a certain psychological aspect of people, not intelligence. All these kids have psychic ability. There are a lot of kids with high IQs who have not been approached, so psychic ability must be a credential. Why do they single them out? Again, I ask, as with so many aspects of this phenomenon, just what is really going on?” The full interview can be found on this website in issue number 126, July 2008.

If anyone out there has heard anything about such a program, we’d like to hear about it.


Lee Webster

Earlier this year, I communicated on the phone and by email with a very interesting gentleman down in Alabama named Lee Webster. I wrote some about his work with the U.S. Army right down there in Huntsville, Alabama with the “remote viewing” work being done back years ago. He rubbed elbows with some of the top people involved in that work, including Nobel Prize winner in quantum physics Prof. Eugene Wigner, Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff. You can still find my mention of him and his work in the May and July (2019) issues of this magazine, in my column Reality Checking.

Sadly, Lee passed away on December 20th, at the age of 87. He served with the army during the Korean War, was a physicist, and worked with Von Braun.

Former MUFON State Director for Alabama, Sue Pitts, who had kindly introduced me to Lee, shared: “Lee was an incredibly brilliant man. A great educator, coworker, advisor, mentor, and most of all my friend. I sure miss him. He had a gruff persona but was truly just a big old teddy bear when he cared about you. He always wanted to share his knowledge. He also had a warped sense of humor and loved a good prank. His son shared a story about how during WW 2 a Commander brought two Howitzers to the Kwajalein Island where Lee was in control and told Lee to dispose of them. Lee asked what he wanted him to do with them. The Commander said he didn't care how or what he did with them, just to get rid of them. Well Lee loved Guns so he took them home and put them in his front yard so the kids could play on them. They made great monkey bars his son said, and the kids loved to pretend to be gunners. The Commander came back several weeks later. After seeing what Lee did with the guns he told him,’ I didn't mean do that.’” “I'm sure Lee had a good laugh about that. We have lost another Great National Treasure.” 


Path of Souls

New Book

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Indian Mounds & Earthworks


Path of Souls


Visitors from Hidden Realms

Ancient South America

Denisovan Origins

Freedom To Change: Why You Are The Way You Are and What You Can Do About It

Native American Mounds in Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to Public Sites

Saturday, September 26, 2020