Sunday, January 29, 2012

UFOs: Distortion and/or Insanity?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

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While some us think that UFO encounters – not UFO sightings per se – may be hallucinatory in essence, others (Jose Caravaca, Jacques Vallee, and some visitors here) believe that witnesses to UFO or UFO-like landings and encounters are dealing with real tangible or near-tangible events.

Who or what creates those “events” is up for grabs – some saying the “who” are extraterrestrials and others (Caravaca and Vallee) thinking the who or what is something a bit more esoteric than ETs.

My contention that mental aberrations account for some if not all of the events is questionable by virtue of what one finds when they look for aberrational images from those who can be said to be on the cusp of insanity or actually insane.

That is, if one examines the output -- writings, drawings, art and other “creative” outpourings by those adjudicated by psychiatry or commonsense to be off kilter mentally – one can only conclude that those who’ve reported UFO encounters are not mentally incapacitated in the same way as those who are permanently hallucinatory.

However, one can make the case for temporary insanity, but that seems, to me, to be a stretch too.

I think that UFO encounters may be exactly what they appear to be: interactions between something absolutely bizarre, maybe even other-worldly, and normal human beings.

For example, here are drawings and art work by people on the fringe of reality, mentally.

These images come from these two books:

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(And one can find many more examples of hallucinatory art via a Google search using “outsider art” as the search criterion.)

The images:

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Now here are some paintings by Henri Rousseau, who wasn’t insane, surely, but had an immature, naïve imagination when it came to his artistic output:

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Would someone, with a similar mental make-up, have visions that made him or her think they had an other-worldly encounter?

Perhaps. That angle might be profitably pursued.

There was one drawing, by a six-year-old, Sasha Powers of Truro, Massachusetts, that I find interesting:

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That is not outsider art but, rather, an example of some imagery that influenced this child, or a recounting of something she experienced perhaps.

But, all-in-all, one has to consider that UFO encounters differ significantly, from the images of those who have aberrant mental conditions, and therefore UFO encounters need to be taken at face value rather than be evaluated psychologically or neurologically.

I hate that that may be so, but mental quirks don’t seem to apply, at least not in the psychotic arena.

But there is the possibility that something else, besides a total mental break-down, is at work, something less than paranoia but something not quite right either – something that only a few experience while the whole of mankind doesn’t.

What that mechanism is may be Caravaca’s Distortion explanation, but why distortion at all?

It doesn’t make sense, logically, aberrantly, or in any other way….so far.

RR

Friday, January 27, 2012

Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and UFOs

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

The great, depressive philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, like other philosophers (Plato, Berkeley, Hume., Kant, Fichte, et al.) thought that reality was built on the world we see (or experience) – phenomena and the world as it really is – noumena.

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I’m not going to get into a philosophical discourse here, as philosophers are only little less nutty than psychiatrists, but the idea, the thought, that we humans are subject to various realities, at least two, comes into play when we find proposals like that of Vallee and Caravaca about what is going on when UFO encounters take place.

And how does Nietzsche factor into this?

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Nietzsche eschewed religion, science, and philosophy, itself, allowing that we (humans) have explained nothing; such phenomena (as that perceived) is as magical to us now as it was to the most primitive of our species. [Introducing Nietzsche by Gane and Chan, Totem Books, NY, 1998, Page 59]

And Nietzsche’s nihilistic view is applicable to our ongoing discussion about what is happening, really happening, when Caravaca’s “witnesses” have a UFO or UFO-like encounter:

“The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.” [Ibid, Page 35]

Marx is brought into the discussion by Gane and Chan (regarding morality, but applicable for our views here):

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“On the one side we have the events, on the other we have human interpretation of these events (but only one version will be correct).” [Ibid, Page 113]

Schopenhauer’s view that “behind the appearance of [things] lies the reality of my will or desire. This will does not exist like my body in time and space – it is not a physical entity at all, but underlies the whole of animate and inanimate nature throughout the cosmos.” [Ibid, Page 9]

“This timeless, non-physical cosmic force doesn’t lead Schopenhauer to the idea of a god," Gane and Chan write. [Page 9]

Schopenhauer’s “will” underlies his pessimistic take on life, and is the cause of human suffering.

But I think we might posit this underlying non-physical reality as, perhaps, the presence that Caravaca gives to the instigators of his Distortion theory and the events that take place within his hypothesis.

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Nietzsche would have no part in such a conjecture but he would allow us to ruminate upon it, without disparagement or criticism.

Okay, my point, without further Duensing it, is that thoughtful or creative men and women intuit a reality that transcends – Lecome du Nouy -- or sometimes supersedes – the psychological view -- our material, sensed reality.

This reality intersects with people – UFO encounters, ghostly apparitions, et cetera – and does so, not purposefully, as Caravaca or Vallee has it, but “accidentally” or inadvertently, as when some natural phenomenon adjusts one’s senses or neurological mechanisms. [Persinger]

But Nietzsche would offer that Caravaca’s and Vallee’s views can’t be dismissed out of hand.

So we are left to interject our opinions and thoughts as that is what the Ubermensch does.

RR

Saturday, January 21, 2012

UFO Witness Testimony: True or False?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

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The Michalak UFO encounter at Falcon Lake, Canada in 1967, noted earlier here, has dubious value for some of you.

I think it has a patina of authenticity.

Speculating about witness testimony creates all kinds of amateur opinion and brings forth shards of erroneous information from the internet.

However, witness testimony is often, or usually, all that we have when it comes to UFOs.

When someone or a few people report a strange light in the night sky or a strange object in the daytime sky, one can equate the observations with misperceptions of mundane things or one can catalog the observations for what they are: strange lights or objects seen my normal people with normal or near-normal eyesight.

And that’s it. Nothing more can be done with such observations.

Our foray into witness testimony from Roswellians always causes a ripple of contention and debate.

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But Roswell’s witnesses, for the most part, didn’t see a UFO, in the sky or on the ground.

Some said they held pieces of “metal” that behaved oddly when toyed with.

Some said they saw a field of debris that was different from what they normally saw in the deserts and farms around Roswell.

Some even said they saw bodies of entities, in the desert, in hangars, and other venues.

But no one saw a UFO or flying saucer, and all the testimony about bodies and strange metal fragments came forth in the late 1970s and early 1980s after some UFO hobbyists started poking around, culling testimony that is besmirched by flawed questioning and psychological projections by the hobbyists.

So Roswell isn’t a platform from which worthwhile UFO testimony can be gotten or evaluated.

Roswell is a potpourri of maltreated memories and contrived imaginings better left to psychiatry and sociologists.

But there are many other UFO-related encounters, like that of Stefan Michalak, or Lonnie Zamora, the police officer who came across a unique craft and attending entities.

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There are dozens, hundreds even, of accounts where people have seen something that has come to be defined as a flying saucer, and many of those accounts include entities that rival creatures from fiction.

UFO books and the internet are replete with such accounts.

But what are we to make of such accounts?

I think that what has been presented by those who’ve experienced encounters with craft and creatures are as they have been recounted, caveated by the personal peccadilloes of observation that plague human beings.

But those peccadilloes are minor, and the over all experiences provided are essentially as they are described.

Michalak encountered a machine that caused him some physical pain and markings.

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The 1959 Father Gill sighting in Papua, New Guinea is what it is: a sighting by an Anglican priest and his mission staff and members of a object that floated above them, from which entities waved or interacted with the observers.

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The sighting may be ascribed to a kind of mass hysteria, but it makes more sense to allow it to be as it was recounted, without the psychological overlay.

The following accounts are detailed in John Spencer’s World Atlas of UFOs; Sightings, Abductions, and Close Encounters [SMITHMARK Publishers, NY, 1992]

The 1979 Mindalore Quezet “abduction” was what it was: a experience of a mother (Meagan) and son (Andre) who, under hypnosis, elaborated on a sighting of this object and its occupants:

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Was there an Oedipal element that explains the sighting? Perhaps. Or it was as it later was remembered. (More of this, upcoming.)

The 1970 Imjärvi, Finland encounter, in which two young fellows (Aarno Heinonen and Esko Viljo), while skiing, spotted a saucer-like craft that shot a beam of light to the ground near them, from which a short humanoid creature emerged, wearing a helmet, and glowing like “phosphorous.”

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The being held a black box that emitted a light that struck the young men, creating a mist, that beclouded the creature, and the beam of light that went back up into the craft, taking the little being with it.

One of the boys, Aarno, was partially paralyzed, and both fellows had symptoms similar to radioactive poisoning.

(Aarno went on to have other sightings and encounters with space women and men. He became a kind of contactee.)

Did these young men actually have the experience they reported? Their after-event symptoms indicate that something happened, but like Mr. Michalak’s encounter, exactly what?

The 1979 Taylor encounter in Livingston, Scotland, detailed here in an much earlier blog posting,
fascinates me.

Sixty-one year-old Robert Taylor was a forester who, while inspecting some new trees, was confronted by a globular object from which emerged to spiked spheres that grabbed Mr. Taylor by the legs, dragging him toward the large, globular object.

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Mr. Taylor lost consciousness, but awoke disheveled and unable to stand comfortably. His truck was mired in mud and he had to walk home.

He suffered a headache for some hours after the incident and had a inordinate thirst that lasted for two days.

His heavy blue serge trousers were torn, ostensibly from the spikes on the spheres that grabbed him.

Mr. Taylor had an unsullied reputation in his community and BUFORA, a British UFO investigative group, found ground traces that seemed to confirm Mr. Taylor’s account.

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Did Mr. Taylor concoct his story? Why?

Like Mr. Michalak, Lonnie Zamora, Reverend Gill, and the others noted here, what would be the motive, the reason for such bizarre contrivances?

Did each of these people misperceive a mundane event? Unlikely. Misperceptions with such similarities would create a category of hallucinations that would throw psychiatry in to a dither.

Are each of these encounters, of which there are many, many more, neurological quirks? Again, a neurological etiology would force neurologists to establish a mental substrate that lies outside the sensate reality humans work within, or misconstrue.

Are such stories evidence of Jose Caravaca’s Distortion hypothesis or Jacque Vallee’s ethereal others explanation?

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Perhaps. But that would mean something is intertwined with humanity to the exclusion of any other kind of rational reality; that is, something or some presence is fixated on inserting experiences in the minds of common folk, and to what end?

But does the idea that alien visitors are engaged in such foolery make any more sense?

What we are left with is the question of witness testimony.

Is it as it is recounted? I think it is. But I have no idea what it means, nor do I have any inkling of an explanation.

While memory over time fades and/or confabulates, these encounters were reported in situ and do not have the flaw of time to corrupt the descriptions.

What was said to have happened happened.

Now where does that take us I keep asking…

RR

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Movies and TV have created the UFO phenomenon


Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

While watching The Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy network over New Year holiday weekend, I noticed how the idea of extraterrestrial visitors suffused the series and, as I see it, impacted or influenced the unconscious minds of viewers.

As most of you know, those who’ve had UFO experiences – (somewhat) blasé encounters, abductions, and bizarre interactions (those listed by Jose Caravaca in his Distortion hypothesis) – recount those experiences in ways that mimic scenarios that one finds in movies – Invasion of the Body Snatchers, This Island Earth, et cetera – or television programs – The Outer Limits, said Twilight Zone – and some old radio shows – The Inner Sanctum, for example.

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Colin McGinn’s 2007 Vintage book, The Power of Movies: How Screen and Mind Interact, provides a non-psychologically afflicted approach to the influence that one will find in UFO encounter accounts and reports.

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Although Freud is mentioned, McGinn uses little or no psychobabble to present his views.

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Serious visitors to this blog know (or should) that human kind is subliminally impacted by ads and media presentations, and now images and offerings on YouTube, Facebook, and the internet generally.

Vance Packard, in his 1957 best-seller, The Hidden Persuaders, presented his substantive views on how media (ads in particular) seeped into the societal mind and influenced buying and attitudes that marketing people and companies exploited.

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A Columbo program from 1973 with Robert Culp delved in the how subliminal messages in film and TV ads could influence behavior.

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While Columbo’s airing and Packard’s book insinuates that all classes of people, and in particular, intelligent folks could be influenced as easily as the mentally deficient (and I don’t mean those with inferior brains), those who have lower I.Q.s than the population generally.

But UFO aficionados know that those who’ve reported and report UFO encounters (Hickson and Parker, the Hills, and those noted by Jose Caravaca at his blog, et al.) are not at the top of the intellectually sophisticated file; the encountered are common folks, generally: persons prone to be influenced by social and cultural elements.

When has a MacArthur Grant person experienced a UFO landing, or a Hawking assistant, or one of Einstein’s associates come face to face with UFO occupants?

When has a Tolstoy, or Fitzgerald, or Pynchon type had a UFO encounter?

My point is that persons with lower mental abilities have UFO encounters – and that includes Ezekiel in the Hebrew texts; he was prone to believe in things and people from the skies.

I’m not taking about UFO sightings, per se, here. Many of us have had UFO sightings, but those sightings stop at the observation.

When a UFO sighting triggers an “encounter,” one has to consider the Caravaca “theory” that a kind of oneirism takes place, and this is what McGinn covers in his book (see above).

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We are dealing with something a little more complex than an hallucination, arguably, but something that is palpable enough to be studied or researched by those hoping to get a handle on the meaning of UFOs – those at ground level anyway.

RR