Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, December 2020
Around and around we go!
by: Brent Raynes
A teenaged me reading Keel back in 1971
I made the decision to begin researching UFOs when I took a pair of scissor and clipped out a story from the local newspaper back in January 1967, at the young age of 14. The year before I was intrigued by the stories popping up in our local paper, the Daily Kennebec Journal, out of Augusta, Maine, and even reports blaring forth from out of our television set, particularly during the month of March, at which time the state of Michigan was really taking center stage with sightings. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomical consultant for the U.S. Air Force’s UFO investigative division Project Bluebook at a press conference there suggested that some of the sightings might be attributable to swamp gas. However, all the news reporters and the public seemed to hear was UFOs and swamp gas, and this caused a good bit of an uproar from a large segment of the public that was growing weary and skeptical of the Air Force’s handling of the UFO phenomenon. Even then Michigan congressman Gerald Ford spoke out demanding the Air Force come glean. Swamp gas was an insult!
I remember that March how my dad and I spend some time a few evenings looking off into the night sky hoping to catch a glimpse of one of these reported UFOs. There were a number of local sightings in the papers and on the TV news. The one that really stood out was a man named John King up in Bangor, who claimed that he had fired a handgun at a metallic looking domed disc-shaped craft a mere foot or so over the ground, and said he heard some of his bullets pinging off of its surface.
Around about this time a school chum asked me if I’d be interested in helping him start a local UFO club. Although I certainly found the stories interesting, I pooh-poohed the idea lickety split. I retorted that there were all sorts of people working on this thing – even scientists and the military. What were we as teenagers going to be able to do. I told him we’d just be wasting our time. Well here it is, going on 54 years now, me wasting my time – big time!
Well I’ll tell ya! There was a certain popular author and news broadcaster who wrote what became a best seller on the UFO subject at that time. His name Frank Edwards, and the book was Flying Saucers – Serious Business. It sold very well, and I found out a few years later that he pulled that book together in a record-breaking six weeks because he knew that public interest in UFOs was at a feverish pitch. I and a good number of others caught that fever thanks to Frank’s book and became what we’d only later learned were termed “ufologists.”
Okay, there were other names for us too, but ufologist sounded far better than crackpot and nutcase. I didn’t have to go to college and get an expensive degree like other ologists, like psychologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, anesthesiologists, etc., etc.
“Hey maw, look I’m a ufologist!”
She wasn’t impressed.
It seemed perfectly obvious to that teenaged UFO neophyte, that I was at the time, that Frank’s credible seeming reports from credible eyewitnesses (police officers, pilots, even an astronomer) well supported the mainstream ufological position that we were likely indeed dealing with “nuts and bolts” extraterrestrial visitors. The reports, after all, consisted of lights and what appeared to be structured “craft,” which included at times non-human looking humanoid “occupants,” and their apparent technology seeming quite superior to ours, able to make manuevers like sudden high speed 90 degree angle turns, and then abruptly stop on a dime, and outdistance our jet interceptors with ease.
Yeah, that’s the ticket, I thought. They’re not ours. Unless, of course, the cynical Air Force folks were right and it was hoaxes and misidentifications of temperature inversions of Venus on the horizon, weather balloons, and yes swamp gas, and so on and so forth.
Yup, my sights were pretty well set, as they were for many others, and for many still are. But soon alternative possibilities and theories loomed before me in the form of magazine articles and books by authors who were out there in the field, investigating these reports firsthand – even describing their own personal encounters with these phenomena – authors like French born scientist Dr. Jacques Vallee, New York journalist John Keel, and author Brad Steiger. And, alas, they were coming up with radically different possibilities and theories [and even data] that didn’t always sit very well with the mainstream “ufologists.”
Keel no doubt, had there been such an award, would have taken one for being the most radical of the just mentioned Three Musketeers of Para-Ufology. Not only did he perceive historical parallels with the modern reports of mysterious flying objects and strange beings, as did the others, from the well-observed “Dance of the Sun” at Fatima in 1917, and so many other Marian and angelic apparitional phenomena [often associated with UFOish displays], fairies and so many other elemental forms and what have you – and these things can all be found mixed in with the whole panorama of our modern “flying saucer” mystery.
Keel put it bluntly. Ufology should be a branch of parapsychology. He even pushed it further by writing ghosts or aliens, what’s the difference! The frame of reference, the way we look at these various aspects, is what can either guide us or mislead us. Though he speculated that rather than ETs we were dealing likely with “ultraterrrestrials” from a “parallel world” [his simplified layman’s version of quantum physics he explained to his friend Doug Skinner, focusing on how the electromagnetic spectrum worked] Keel expressed that there was an interactive intelligence that was involved that was quite cunning and deceptive and was concealing its true identity [whatever that was] behind the evolving UFO mythos, just as it had done time and time again using many other mythical constructs throughout our history. The modern “flying saucer era” was just the latest variation to come along.
Keel complained that the mainstream was unintentionally promoting “cult literature” and how the abduction researchers employing hypnotic regression methods were adding to the self-deception, not counting on the fact that the unconscious mind can itself be a trickster as well. Dr. Vallee has also been very concerned about ufology’s heavy reliance upon hypnosis to flush out repressed memories of contact, hoping to further confirm their biased scenarios.
Whatever the case, those who get out into the field and interview enough witnesses come to realize, if they’re truly objective in their approach, and of course distance themselves from their own possible biases, that the UFO subject is indeed a far more complex and perplexing “mixed bag” of potentially interrelated phenomena than surface appearances of the matter back in the early days of the “flying saucer” movement had originally suggested to us.
Ghosts, aliens – yeah, what have you. They can all reportedly appear and disappear, walk through solid walls, levitate, communicate mind-to-mind, and those fairies – Djinn and others – can reportedly temporarily paralyze and abduct us humans and take us to other realities, other realms – and fairy lore is filled with “missing time” cases too. And let’s not forget those sexual elements as well!
Instead of the sole myopic focus of the major UFO organizations over the years being strictly directed at evidence that supports a biased, one sided focus on ET visitors invading our skies, which I’m not opposed to considering, but researchers should also be free to explore alternative areas as well, be it earth energies, the paranormal interface, historical parallels, quantum physics, etc. To elevate ourselves to a point where we are taken seriously by a larger number of scientists/academics we need to engage in a more balanced and objective approach to the subject. Too often a ufologist will be interviewing a witness and if he or she mentions a ghost, a poltergeist, or a Bigfoot, for example, none of this is often included in the report. And vice versa. Each student tries to stick to what they perceive as their field alone.
But if they’re indeed interconnected elements of something larger, then too many of us have been missing the relevant clues at hand.