• AP Magazine

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

  • 1

Reality Checking

Thoughts on being an Investigator:

The objective search for answers

By Brent Raynes

There are no real “experts” per se when it comes to defining and expounding upon what precisely is going on with regard to the broad-range of paranormal phenomena that is reported, be it UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, angels, etc. Sincere, open and honest inquiring minds are what are most needed. Opinions, as it has been said many times before, are just like butt holes – everybody has one. (Sorry if the explanation seems rather crude sounding, but it certainly communicates the point) Beliefs, alas, are a dime a dozen and everyone will certainly harbor their fair share of strong and personal belief and opinion-oriented dynamics that help get them through the day.

But what an investigator should be concerned with are facts and alleged factual details that can be documented and checked further, rather than mere personal opinions! In an investigative situation the investigator must approach matters in a very careful, critical and objective manner. The experiencer must feel as though they can share any facet of what has happened to them without fear of ridicule, being judged in some harsh way, or misunderstood and/or taken out of context. The best interview approach is an unstructured interrogation strategy where the experiencer is allowed to simply tell their story, in their own words, without a lot of unnecessary interruptions and questions on the front end, wherein the investigator should refrain from expressing or making an issue of their own personal belief systems. After the subject has provided a comprehensive narrative of what transpired, then the investigator can feel free to ask questions that remain unanswered in the body of the initial statement that was provided at the preliminary phase of the interview.

Being an investigator is tricky business, no matter what you’re trying to document, prove or uncover, but when it’s something as challenging, complex and controversial as paranormal phenomena, then your work is truly cut out for you and you have to really watch your P’s and Q’s.

Preconceived beliefs and opinions can certainly lead all of us in the wrong direction in a wide variety of situations. When I initially entered the field of ufology in 1967, at the age of 14, my belief system was focused and forming around what I was then reading and understanding about UFOs. My focus was very narrow and pretty much an either/or orientation between “nuts and bolts” ET spacecraft or hoaxes and natural phenomena. However, after a couple of years my horizons began to broaden quite significantly and my interest and growing obsession with unexplained phenomena took on a great many more categories and aspects. I found myself becoming a lot less certain and dogmatic and more philosophical and questioning. Certain UFO authors, like John Keel, Jacques Vallee and Brad Steiger helped me tremendously to see that strictly shelving all of these different phenomena (and there are a lot!) into all of these separate and distinct pigeonholes could lead one into very serious and subjective error! Objective researchers must sift through their evidence very carefully and look for a variety of alternative explanations and clues. After all, let’s face it, it’s actually possible that extraterrestrials may not actually be the real answer for the core UFO enigma! (“Say what?!” some of you are exclaiming) I know that’s really hard for many UFO enthusiasts to wrap their minds around, as many lost their objectivity long ago.

Of course, investigations aside we all have our own personal theories, ideas, beliefs, and biases. In the absence of concrete evidence a working hypothesis or theory is necessary. The trick is not to allow these things to interfere with doing a fair, thorough, and objective case investigation. My own personal bias is toward a more complex theory, which is something along the lines of John Keel’s ultraterrestrials (for those of you who know what that was about). Down through untold centuries and across the entire face of our planet all of these diverse and separate cultures have a vast historical background of recorded accounts and legends of very similar occurrences as are being reported globally today – though the beliefs and contexts have changed somewhat in order to keep in step with present cultural understandings and our current levels of knowledge and awareness.

When all is said and done, surface appearances can be quite illusionary and deceptive. In centuries past, the citizens of the world dealt with all sorts of “little men”, “monsters”, “giants,” “devils” and “angels” from various realms of the supernatural world, and the beliefs of these people ran deeply and evolved complex systems of presumed understanding and knowledge about these other worlds – these other realms.

What makes us enlightened “modern” folks so cock sure that we truly have a better handle on such things today? Because we landed men on the moon with rockets and therefore these strange UFOs with “beings” seemingly “onboard” must be space travelers like us? Two plus two equals four, right? Seems pretty obvious and straightforward, eh?

It’s all very fascinating but again it’s all based upon surface appearances. Subjective judgements are being formed around incomplete and inexplicable observations of very anomalous reports. They’re widespread and span through all of recorded time. When we think of “flying saucers” we think of “nuts and bolts” machines from space. When we think of Biblical “chariots of the gods” we think of celestial, heaven sent divine visitors, though von Daniken and others demonstrated to us that with a little creative slight of the writer’s hand they could be transformed into our conception of spaceships instead. These perceptions can really be turned on their head quite easily!

The UFO “spaceships” have a lot of qualities in common with the religious reports of antiquity. The “visitors” can materialize and dematerialize, communicate mind-to-mind, give future predictions, heal the sick and injured (to name a few), and again and again violate known physical laws and principles that us flesh and blood humans must abide by.

Quantum physicists are talking about the spooky world of particle entanglement, of seemingly impossibly connected events at a distance. Many respected physicists of today are starting to sound as highfalutin nuts as us ufologists!

I suspect that the answer to the UFO enigma is even stranger than “nuts and bolts” ET craft and visitors.


Recently (June 2nd) I was again in Huntsville, Alabama, giving another UFO/paranormal presentation, and once again I had the pleasure of running into researchers Sue and StevePitts, and again I was reminded of some of their remarkable UFO-related experiences, and so I want to take this opportunity to share an interview I did with Sue back in 2000. Please check this link: Archive (Interview with Sue Pitts)

Wednesday, December 06, 2023