Monday, May 24, 2021

Yes, I Believe There IS A Singular UFO Phenomenon...,

jasoncolavito |   A complicating factor that Lewis-Williams’s work creates for the UTH is the fact that shamanic ASC and historical “abduction” experiences, cited by Vallée and other UTH speculators, do not conform to the full narrative of the modern UFO phenomenon, as developed after the Betty and Barney Hill abduction claim (Fuller 1966) and J. Allen Hynek’s (1972) classification of three types of UFO encounters, culminating with contact. Prior to this, strange lights in the sky were not generally found in conjunction with other staples of the narrative, such as abduction, sexual experimentation, and cattle mutilation, a fact even the credulous Vallée (2009) himself seemed to concede in cataloguing the “best” evidence for prehistoric UFOs and finding no unambiguous evidence for a complete UFO narrative prior to the modern era, only fragments that paralleled portions of the modern narrative. This might mean that the trans-dimensional beings first emerged into our dimension only in 1947, 1961, or some other date, but this would not explain those partial parallels.

I have previously traced the Hill abduction to alien encounter and medical experimentation motifs derived from three consecutive episodes of The Outer Limits (1964) airing over the three weeks prior to Barney Hill’s first hypnosis session, including the slanted-eyed aliens and their distinctive clothing, the invasive probing, the backwoods setting, and even an interracial narrative paralleling the Hills’ own romance (Colavito 2012). It is noteworthy that the Hills originally only reported to Project Bluebook seeing a flying saucer until they were placed in an altered state of consciousness three years later and began recalling abduction imagery exactly paralleling Outer Limits episodes in both plot and aesthetics from the weeks before hypnosis. This origin point for the classic abduction narrative strongly favors the PCH over the UTH if this order of events is correct. Given that high profile abduction cases that followed, including the Travis Walton incident, can be shown to reproduce ideas and imagery appearing originally with the Hill case, this again favors PCH over UTH.

Since Mizrach cited Sherlock Holmes about acceptance of the improbable, it is only fair to mention Occam’s Razor in defense of the idea that the hypothesis with fewer assumptions is more likely to be correct; in this case, the proposal of an unseen and unattested alternative dimension of reality, populated by multiple beings of near-supernatural intelligence, who are capable of interacting with this dimension in fixed ways across time and space is vastly more complicated than the alternatives. The only serious support for this claim is the contention that the UFO phenomenon encompasses physical phenomena—such as UFOs that can be tracked on radar—that preclude a purely mental explanation. Indeed, this is Mizrach’s primary objection to PCH. This leads to my final question: Is the UFO phenomenon singular?

The modern UFO phenomenon is composed (roughly) of four parts: UFO sightings, crop circles, cattle mutilation, and alien abduction. Ufologists disagree on whether crop circles and cattle mutilation should be considered part of the phenomenon, and alternative explanations exist even among believers. Cattle mutilation, for example, was traditionally ascribed down to the twentieth century to the evil power of the goatsucker (nightjar), a (real) bird whose mythology was reapplied to the Chupacabra, whose name (literally: goat sucker) belies its origins (see my chapter on the Chupacabra in Colavito 2013) and provides an equally incredible explanation for something science recognizes as natural decay. Similarly, prior to the modern UFO myth, lights in the sky were treated as a distinct class of “prodigy” from nocturnal visitation by strange visitors such as incubi and succubae, whom Vallée and Bullard both see as analogous to UFO denizens. These visitations, however, were not associated with spaceships or intense light, just kinky sex. Additionally, the first reported alien encounters—those from before the Hills like George Adamski’s—were wildly diverse, including civilized diplomatic meetings with Nordic-looking aliens from Venus, like those of Golden Age science fiction, as filtered through Theosophy. It is only after the 1960s that these threads come together in the modern UFO myth.

Because we find the various elements of the UFO myth in isolation throughout history, the logical conclusion is that the four facets of the myth were originally separate and brought together because of the UFO myth and the UFO phenomenon is not the cause the four facets. In this an instructive parallel can be found in the ancient Greek myth of giants who (a) built the massive Mycenaean ruins, (b) left behind their gigantic bones, and (c) performed magic from their underground tombs and rose to communicate with those who sacrificed to them. The myth emerged from mistakes (about the origin of ruins and about the giant bones, really those of extinct Pleistocene mammals—see Mayor [2000]) and religious ideology, but it seemed supported by facts which were forever after linked to the myth. In the same way, the modern UFO myth is leading researchers down the path of proposing elaborate explanations for a phenomenon that cannot yet be proved to require a singular explanation.

If treating sightings, abductions, mutilations, and crop circles as distinct events yields productive explanations for each (as skeptics contend), then the UFO phenomenon as a whole may be considered as a modern myth and the UTH can be discarded as redundant, though as with phlogiston and unicorns, it cannot be conclusively proven wrong, only unnecessary. This then frees the researcher to examine multiple causes for various phenomena, from ASC for most abduction cases to a wide range of events that yield lights in the sky. By discarding the strictures of forcing all of the factors of contemporary UFO mythology to conform to a single hypothesis, the truth may in fact emerge more fully and brilliantly than ufologists suspect.

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