Unidentified Flying Objects and the Occult
UFOs entered popular consciousness as ‘‘flying saucers’’—
the name an anonymous wire-service reporter gave to the silvery
discs Americans were reporting by the thousands in the
last week of June 1947. At 3 P.M. on June 24 private pilot Kenneth
Arnold, passing over Mount Rainier, Washington, spotted
nine shiny disc-shaped objects flying in formation at what he
conservatively estimated to be 1200 mph. The worldwide publicity
resulting from his sighting, plus the other sightings that
came in its immediate wake, brought the UFO age into being.
Since then UFOs have been the focus of furious controversy.
Many dispute their existence, claiming that unexplained reports
exist only because of inadequate investigation or insufficient
data. Proponents counter that some of the best cases have
withstood the most thorough scrutiny. The debate that began
in earnest in 1947 continues, with essentially the same arguments
being recycled endlessly.
Early Reports of UFOs
The UFO phenomenon did not spring abruptly into being
one summer afternoon in 1947. In fact, the first UFO book,
Charles Fort’s The Book of the Damned, was published in 1919.
An eccentric social critic and keen satirist, Fort collected accounts
of anomalous physical phenomena, including extraordinary
aerial objects, and poked fun at scientists’ sometimes labored
efforts to account for them in prosaic terms. In The Book
of the Damned and two subsequent books, New Lands (1923) and
Lo! (1931), he theorized that visitors from other worlds are observing
Although it is often claimed that the phenomenon has been
part of human history for many centuries, reports of anything
resembling modern UFOs do not appear in print until the
early decades of the nineteenth century. UFOs, in other words,
seem to be a product of the modern age. In the twentieth century
UFOs were called, successively, ‘‘airships,’’ ‘‘foo fighters,’’
and ‘‘ghost rockets’’ before ‘‘flying saucers’’ and (starting in the
late 1940s, in U.S. Air Force memos), ‘‘unidentified flying objects’’
and (in the early 1950s) ‘‘UFOs.’’
Postwar UFO Investigations
Between 1947 and 1969 the U.S. Air Force ran three successive
public UFO projects. The first was code-named Sign, followed
by Grudge (1949–52) and Blue Book (1952–69). A faction
within Project Sign concluded by mid-1948 that UFOs
were extraterrestrial spacecraft, but air force Chief of Staff Gen.
Hoyt S. Vandenberg rejected its report. Reorganized as
Grudge, the project took a pronounced anti-UFO line. Except
for a period between 1951 and 1953, when Capt. Edward J.
Ruppelt, neither pro- nor anti-UFO but committed to openminded
inquiry, directed the project (renamed Blue Book in
March 1952), Air Force UFO investigations sought to debunk
sightings and to explain them, if not always persuasively, as
arising from misidentifications and hoaxes.
In 1966 the Air Force entered into a contract with the University
of Colorado ostensibly to conduct an independent investigation
under the leadership of physicist Edward U. Condon
but in fact to find a way of ridding itself of its UFO albatross.
The Condon committee, as it was called informally, soon became
embroiled in controversy as Condon’s view, which echoed
the Air Force’s in dismissing UFOs as nonsense, were known.
Released in January 1969, the Condon Report (formally titled
Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects) declared the phenomenon
nonexistent and further research pointless. The National
Academy of Sciences endorsed the report’s conclusions,
and in December 1969 the Air Force cited them when it announced
it was closing Blue Book. To many it appeared as if
the UFO controversy had ended.
Yet the Condon Report had its critics, including University
of Arizona atmospheric physicist James E. McDonald and
Northwestern University astronomer (and longtime Blue Book
consultant) J. Allen Hynek, who pointedly observed that fully
one-third of the cases in the report were listed as unsolved.
They also contended that even some of the ‘‘explained’’ cases
had been inadequately accounted for. In November 1970 a
UFO subcommittee of the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics, explicitly rejecting Condon’s conclusions, remarked
on the ‘‘small residue of well-documented but unexplainable
cases which form the hard core of the UFO controversy.’’
Hynek’s 1972 book The UFO Experience argued for
renewed inquiry into what he thought might prove to be ‘‘not
merely the next small step in the march of science but a mighty
and totally unexpected quantum leap.’’
A wave of sightings in the fall of 1973 served to revive popular
interest. By the 1980s much of the fascination focused on
abduction stories, reported in such widely read books as Budd
Hopkins’s Missing Time (1981) and Whitley Strieber’s Communion
(1987), and on alleged official cover-ups of UFO secrets,
including the crash of an unidentified object near Roswell, New
Mexico in 1947. In 1994 the Air Force acknowledged its coverUnguents
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
up of the so-called Roswell incident but said authorities at the
time had been trying to conceal a classified project, Mogul, in
which balloons were sent aloft to monitor possible Soviet nuclear
tests. Three years later, in a follow-up study, it theorized that
the humanoid bodies associated with the crash were ‘‘anthropomorphic
test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force
high altitude balloons for scientific research’’—though such
tests had not commenced until six years later.
Though polls have consistently found that a significant plurality
of Americans ‘‘believe’’ in UFOs, the scientific establishment
continues to treat the phenomenon as illegitimate. In the
fall of 1997, however, an international panel of scientists met
in Tarrytown, New York, to examine a body of UFO evidence,
mostly cases involving physical evidence, presented by a small
group of ufologists. The panel’s report, released in June 1998,
cautiously stated that ‘‘unexplained observations’’ exist—
though it distanced itself from extraterrestrial theories—and
that further evidence of the best cases is worth science’s time.
Nonetheless, UFOs remain a fringe subject. Most scientific
investigations of the phenomenon since the Condon period
have been conducted by individuals acting on their own or in
concert with such civilian groups as the J. Allen Hynek Center
for UFO Studies (CUFOS), the Mutual UFO Network, and the
Fund for UFO Research. CUFOS, founded by Hynek in 1973
(Hynek died in 1986), publishes the Journal of UFO Studies, the
one refereed scientific journal devoted exclusively to the subject.
Schism Science vs. the Occult
The controversy about UFOs and their meaning has generated
innumerable books, scientific papers, popular articles,
specialist periodicals in many languages, and Internet websites.
Much of this writing, especially in mainstream magazines,
newspapers, and journals, has been from a skeptical perspective.
Active UFO proponents worldwide probably number no
more than several thousand, and they range from the intellectually
careful to the wildly credulous. The literature they have
produced since the 1940s documents a variety of approaches
to the questions raised by UFO reports.
Early on, active proponents divided themselves into two
camps. The first, who in the 1950s started calling themselves
‘‘ufologists,’’ held a relatively conservative view. In their reading
of the phenomenon, UFOs were unexplained occurrences
that merited conscientious study. Scientific procedures and
logical analysis of the evidence would eventually yield a solution,
which probably would validate the notion of extraterrestrial
visitation. Ufologists thought communication with UFO
intelligences might occur in the future but rejected claims that
such contacts were already taking place.
The second camp consisted of individuals sometimes called
‘‘saucerians.’’ Saucerians typically were enthusiasts of occultism
and the paranormal. Many had backgrounds as active Theosophists,
Spiritualists, or followers of other esoteric doctrines.
Some believed—even before the Arnold sighting put flying saucers
on the world stage—that contact with otherworldly beings
not only was possible but already had been accomplished. Such
beings, who lived on other planets, in the spirit realm, or in the
astral world (or all of these), were on the whole advanced and
benevolent, concerned about the fate of the lowly, violent
human race and engaged in efforts to guide our spiritual evolution
in positive directions. Believers also acknowledged, however,
that evil space and spirit entities, operating in concert with
terrestrial allies, sought to exert malevolent influences over life
on Earth.
Charles Fort’s books, especially the collective omnibus The
Books of Charles Fort (1941), influenced many individuals who
would go on to become ufologists. If Fort had alerted them to
reports of unusual aerial phenomena, he had also piqued their
interest in other mysteries of the physical world falls from the
sky, monsters, archaeological anomalies, and more. The
Fortean Society continued to collect and chronicle accounts of
‘‘Fortean phenomena’’ after Fort’s death. In the early UFO age
a few ufological theorists, most notably Morris K. Jessup (in The
Case for the UFO, [1955], and The Expanding Case for the UFO,
[1957]), sought a sort of unified field theory of anomalistics.
Jessup wrote that spillage from ‘‘celestial hydroponic tanks’’ in
alien spacecraft causes falls of fish, frogs, and other organic
matter, and in his view archaeological evidence indicates that
earth once housed an advanced civilization which has now returned
to its ancestral home in flying saucers.
Both ufologists and saucerians read Fate magazine, the first
issue (Spring 1948) of which featured a long article by Kenneth
Arnold. A digest-sized pulp quarterly which went bimonthly in
1949 and then monthly in 1952, Fate became the only national
magazine to cover UFOs on a regular basis. It also reported on
Fortean occurrences. Its main interest, however, was the psychic.
Even ufologists who initially had no particular interest in
such matters could not help being exposed to material on
ghosts, poltergeists, ESP, and psychokinesis.
The most important early saucerian theorist was California
occultist N. Meade Layne, founder of the Borderland Sciences
Research Foundation. To Layne, who tied the old occult idea
of an ‘‘etheric world’’ to the new phenomenon of flying saucers,
UFOs were ‘‘ether ships.’’ They and their occupants, the ‘‘ethereans,’’
come from a fourth dimension of existence or atomic
vibration. They enter our realm by lowering their vibratory
rates. Their realm exists as an etheric counterpart of our universe.
Its inhabitants are also our ethereal counterparts, but
they are far more advanced than we are. In the Borderland
publication Round Robin and in his book The Ether Ship and Its
Solution (1950), Layne brings forth an eclectic mix of Theosophy,
Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, and Fortean events.
Much of the material came from San Diego medium Mark Probert,
who channeled teachings from alleged discarnates,
among them the 500,000-year-old Himalayan philosopher
Yada Di’ Shi’ite.
Saucerians embraced Layne’s ideas, and favorite Layne
phrases such as ‘‘mat’’ (materialization) and ‘‘demat’’ (dematerialization)
quickly entered their vocabulary. To southern
California’s contactee subculture, which arose in the early
1950s in the wake of claimed contacts (physical and telepathic)
with space people by George Adamski, George Van Tassel,
and others, Layne was an intellectual hero. To ufologists, who
despised the contactees and all they stood for, he was just another
crackpot. Yet a modified version of his idea, called the 4D
(fourth-dimensional) theory, found favor among some ufologists.
Here science fiction, another important influence on firstgeneration
ufologists, was at least as much an inspiration as watered-down
Borderland doctrine.
Generally speaking, ufologists and saucerians existed in
separate universes, the former as would-be (and sometimes actual)
scientists, the latter as more or less open occultists. In the
1960s, however, the lines began to blur, and occultism became
a major force in ufology. Before then, ufologists had assumed
that they were dealing with a reasonably straightforward issue.
As they saw it, the UFO phenomenon consisted of credible observations
of anomalous lights and structured objects in the sky.
A number of prominent ufologists went further and included
reports of humanoid occupants (later called ‘‘close encounters
of the third kind’’) in their definition of the phenomenon. Unlike
the golden-haired, angelic ‘‘space brothers’’ of contactee
lore, these entities were both uncommunicative and strange
enough—alien—to frighten those who encountered them.
Such reports were consistent with the conservative version of
the extraterrestrial hypothesis ufologists championed.
By the mid-1960s, however, new developments challenged
ufology’s dominant view that UFOs are space visitors. For one
thing, UFO encounters seemed to be getting weirder. Persons
of ostensible sanity and sincerity claimed to have been abducted
into UFOs and communicated with their crews, who
gave odd, conflicting accounts of themselves, their motives,
and their origins. Monstrous creatures showed up in areas
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Unidentified Flying Objects and the Occult
where UFOs were being seen. UFO witnesses sometimes complained
of postsighting visits by odd-looking, dark-suited individuals
like the menacing ‘‘men in black’’ in saucerian literature.
Some close-encounter percipients told investigators of
poltergeistlike infestations in their homes.
Ultraterrestrials A Malevolent Genesis
Many of these claims seemed incompatible with extraterrestrial
theories, which started to fall out of favor in some circles
of ufology. The principal figure in this revisionist ufology, at
least initially, was writer John A. Keel, whose investigations in
New York, West Virginia, and Ohio elicited scores of incredible
tales that could not be shrugged off as the creations of lunatics
and charlatans. On the other hand, these were extraordinary
claims without extraordinary—or even ordinary—proof. Someone
more cautious would have hesitated to use such material,
which existed only in testimony (admittedly, for all its fantastic
qualities, at times compelling testimony), to construct a phantasmagorical
explanatory scheme. Brash and opinionated, Keel
had no such reluctance.
Keel credited Layne with having ‘‘worked it all out in the
early 1950s;’’ unfortunately, Keel added, ‘‘nobody would listen
to him.’’ But ufologists, Forteans, and psychic enthusiasts were
listening to Keel, whose writing and pronouncements excoriated
traditional ufology as the domain of ‘‘buffs’’ who lacked the
courage, the imagination, or even the mental health to face the
truth. The truth according to Keel was that ‘‘ultraterrestrials’’
from the ‘‘superspectrum’’ (Keel’s term for the etheric realm)
are entering our world and doing terrible things to us. ‘‘We are
biochemical robots helplessly controlled by forces that can
scramble our brains, destroy our memories and use us in any
way they see fit,’’ he wrote. ‘‘They have been doing it to us forever.’’
Here he parted radically from Layne, who believed the
ethereans to be largely benevolent.
To Keel the contact claims loved by saucerians were not the
hoaxes suspected by ufologists; they were actual experiences,
but not the sort contactees thought they were. According to
Keel, ‘‘The quasi-angels of Biblical times have become magnificent
spacemen. The demons, devils, and false angels were recognized
as liars and plunderers by early man. These same impostors
now appear as long-haired Venusians.’’
He holds that Homo sapiens came into existence because of
a war waged between ultraterrestrial factions. One faction took
on human form so that it could more easily communicate with
Neanderthals, whom this ultraterrestrial group wanted to enlist
in its ‘‘physical army.’’ An unintended consequence of this assumption
of physical form was erotic desire. Sexual intercourse
between the ultraterrestrials and the protohuman Neanderthals
created the modern human race. As Keel tells the tale in
Our Haunted Planet (1971), ‘‘This produced strange responses
in [the offspring’s] materialized nervous system. Emotions were
born. Frequencies were changed. The direct control of the superintelligence
was driven from their bodies. They were
trapped on Earth, unable to ascend the electromagnetic scale
and reenter their etheric world. With the loss of control they
became animals, albeit highly intelligent animals.’’
The other ultraterrestrials continue to torment us, their former
adversaries, and effectively control the world, manipulating
our social, political, scientific, and religious beliefs, creating
all paranormal phenomena and destroying the lives of individual
human beings who interact with them.
Jacques Vallee and Magicland
A more restrained, erudite occult ufology is expressed in a
series of books by an equally influential theorist, Jacques Vallee.
A French American educated in astronomy and computer
science (with a Ph.D. in the latter), Vallee worked at Northwestern
University with Allen Hynek in the mid-1960s. His first two
books, Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965) and Challenge to Science
(1966, with Janine Vallee), were hailed as seminal works of scientific
UFO literature. But soon Vallee’s thoughts had gone
elsewhere, back to an early fascination with the esoteric. In
Passport to Magonia (1969) Vallee holds that UFOs are a modern
manifestation of a supernatural otherworld long ago known as
Magonia (‘‘Magicland,’’ according to one controversial translation),
whose inhabitants other ages experienced as angels, demons,
and fairies.
Passport was misread by some as an effort to depict the UFO
phenomenon as a modern folklore (folklore here being equated
with delusion). More careful reading reveals Vallee’s true
meaning an unknowable ‘‘other intelligence’’ plays to human
dreams and manifests accordingly; it manipulates human consciousness
and seeks to affect human affairs. Though Vallee
sees nothing inherently evil in this, his idea is strikingly like
If Vallee at first looked less paranoid than Keel, elements of
paranoia would show up soon enough. In such subsequent
books as Messengers of Deception (1979) and Revelations (1991),
Vallee speculates that a shadowy human group, intent on manipulating
societal consciousness (for reasons Vallee never explains),
may be producing fraudulent UFO encounters and
paranormal occurrences. It is even conceivable, Vallee hints,
that this group has some kind of link with Magonia itself. This
group or the UFO phenomenon or both—again Vallee is unclear—comprise
a ‘‘control system’’ which communicates with
us on a subliminal level, employing a symbolic language of
‘‘metalogic’’ as well as a ‘‘schedule of reinforcement.’’ In his
view, ‘‘UFOs can never be analyzed or conceived because they
are the means through which man’s concepts are being rearranged.’’
In time, Vallee persuaded his friend and onetime mentor
Hynek that the quest for nuts-and-bolts extraterrestrial UFOs
was doomed to certain failure. Particularly in his later years,
Hynek’s pronouncements took on an increasingly occultish coloration,
even to the extent of references to the astral world and
to elementals. While such talk provided ammunition for his
critics and made many of Hynek’s friends and colleagues uncomfortable,
it also reflected a longtime, privately held interest
in the occult.
Journalism on the Fringe
Under Charles Bowen’s editorship Flying Saucer Review
(FSR), published in England, carried some of the best ufological
writing of the 1960s and became for a time the world’s most
influential UFO magazine. Two or three years into Bowen’s
stewardship, FSR’s contents turned more and more to extraordinary
claims and extreme speculations. Eventually, as Bowen’s
health began to fail, Gordon Creighton—temperamentally
much like Keel—assumed de facto (then, in 1982, actual) editorship.
Sober material continued to appear, but increasingly
Creighton’s openly supernaturalist approach dominated the
pages of FSR. According to Creighton, the jinn, the demonic
spirits of Middle Eastern mythology, are the cause of UFO,
Fortean, and paranormal phenomena, and they are doing all
manner of harm to the human race. Among other atrocious
acts they are responsible for the AIDS epidemic. (Comparable
views figure in the writings of Salvador Freixedo, sometimes
called the Latin American John Keel, and of California ufologist
Ann Druffel.)
By 1984 Creighton’s extremism had so alienated more conservative
ufologists that one of them, John Rimmer, was led to
observe, ‘‘No journal espousing the bizarre beliefs that are now
emanating from [FSR’s] pages can be considered worthy to be
the literary flagship of British ufology. From now on, it seems,
it will be of interest largely to paranoid cultists, conspiracymongers,
and students of fringe literature.’’ FSR’s readership
and influence have declined markedly during Creighton’s tenure.

More UFO Theories
Not all proponents of occult ufology and anomalistics went
as far as Creighton, but the notion that UFOs and other strange
Unidentified Flying Objects and the Occult Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
phenomena may be related, and all the product of paranormal
forces, continued to have a wide appeal. Two popular British
writers, Janet and Colin Bord, argued the case for a unified
paranormal theory in a number of books. In Alien Animals
(1981) they chronicle worldwide reports of anomalous creatures.
All such reports, in their view, ‘‘have features in common
which suggest they are all aspects of a single phenomenon, together
with UFOs and other weird apparitions.’’ These otherworldly
entities may feed on electrical power and ‘‘earth energies.’’
Another theorist in what may be termed the paracryptozoological
school, the late F. W. Holiday (author of The Dragon
and the Disc, 1973), held that all through history good and evil
entities have fought for the soul of the human race. To the ancients
the disc represented the benevolent forces, the dragon
the destructive ones, and the two have a sort of symbiotic relationship.
Creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster are dragons
in the literal sense—supernatural and evil. Discs, of course,
are flying saucers. On June 2, 1973, accompanied by Holiday,
the Rev. Dr. Donald Omand exorcised Loch Ness and subsequently
other British and European lakes in which serpent-like
beasts traditionally are believed to dwell.
Parapsychologist D. Scott Rogo offered a different sort of
paranormal theory to explain UFO and Fortean occurrences.
They are, he wrote, the product of mass psychic energy. If the
psychokinetic energy emanated by the unconscious of a single
individual can produce something so dramatic as a poltergeist,
what might the psychokinesis of the entire human race produce
Rogo speculated in The Haunted Universe (1977) that
‘‘our entire culture may be projecting UFOs psychically’’ in response
to our ‘‘needs and expectations.’’
Psychologist Michael Grosso calls these psychokinetically
generated entities ‘‘psychoterrestrials.’’ Their function is to affect
the evolution of human consciousness, specifically to break
down modern humanity’s excessive focus on materialism and
rationalism. Grosso borrows here from the prominent Swiss
psychologist-philosopher Carl G. Jung who, in Flying Saucers
A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies (1959), characterizes
the appearance of UFOs as indicative of ‘‘psychic change . . .
which may be expected when the spring-point enters Aquarius.’’
According to Grosso the UFO image inspires fantasies and
dreams and, more profoundly, draws archetypal material from
deep within the collective unconscious. Symbolically the disc
shape of the flying saucer represents psychic wholeness, a resolution
of the conflict between rational (conscious) thought and
intuitive (unconscious) feeling.
To Jung, however, the notion of a ‘‘materialized psychism’’—Grosso’s
‘‘psychoterrestrial’’—‘‘opens a bottomless void
under our feet’’ and ‘‘surpasses our comprehension.’’ It is absurd
to propose that ‘‘psychic projections throw back a radar
echo.’’ Since some UFOs seem to do just that, Jung wrote it is
more probable that the ‘‘appearance of real objects affords an
opportunity for mythological projections.’’ These ‘‘real objects’’
may be spacecraft whose presence only now is being noticed
because our ‘‘earthly existence feels threatened [and] unconscious
contents have projected themselves on these
inexplicable heavenly phenomena and given them a significance
they in no way deserve.’’
But in Grosso’s more radical version of Jung’s hypothesis,
psychic projections do show up on radar. ‘‘If UFOs are mythic
constructs,’’ he writes, ‘‘it is not surprising that their physical
effects fit the UFO construct. To look like real spaceships, they
obligingly affect radar.’’ Psychoterrestrials also manifest as religious
visions, monsters, men in black, angels, and more—all
‘‘forces of rebirth’’ in the service of the consciousness transformation
that will save us from otherwise certain self-destruction.
Unlike Jung, but in common with Grosso and other occultoriented
theorists, folklorist Peter M. Rojcewicz rejects extraterrestrial
UFOs in favor of the psychoterrestrials Grosso describes.
‘‘In the narrative accounts born of the ongoing human
interaction with other worldliness,’’ he writes in The Boundaries
of Orthodoxy (1984), ‘‘we see the articulation over time of a mental
argument, both for a more cooperative and harmonious existence
on the one hand, and on the other, [for] a transcendent
dimension of human will and imagination.’’ Rojcewicz defines
‘‘UFO phenomenon’’ as virtually any sort of encounter with
paranormal entities. He argues, ‘‘The ‘UFO Phenomenon,’ so
Other, so here and now, reveals to us ourselves triggered by the
intensity of unanswered longing and passionate collective desire.’’
As UFO abduction stories came into prominence in the
1980s, they inspired a new round of both extraterrestrial and
occult hypotheses. Among proponents of the latter, Grosso,
Rojcewicz, and Dennis Stillings quickly identified the abducting
entities as psychoterrestrials, while Whitley Strieber, Kenneth
Ring (The Omega Project, 1992), and John E. Mack (Abduction,
1994) believed them to be genuine otherworldly
supernatural intelligences bent on human betterment. In this
view, abduction experiences were a variety of contact claim.
The aliens may be odder-looking than the ones who figure in
classic contact tales, and they may not come from outer space,
and their methods may be bizarre and even cruel in the short
term, but their mission is the same.
Not all ufologists have embraced occultism. Indeed, occult
ufology reached its peak in the 1970s, and by the turn of the
century, with Keel and Vallee growing less active and publishing
little, it was no longer a significant element of mainstream
ufology. Meantime, extraterrestrial theories underwent something
of a revival.
Just as significantly, by the late 1970s and early 1980s some
disillusioned proponents of paranormal ufology had radically
altered the occult model in a way that made it possible for them
to deal with extreme experiential claims without also having to
embrace unverifiable supernatural explanatory schemes. Thus
was born the ‘‘psychosocial’’ school, which proposed what were
represented as psychological solutions to entity encounters.
Though these solutions were themselves often speculative, they
were certainly not occult-based; yet they borrowed ideas from
Vallee, Grosso, and Rojcewicz, especially the relationship between
alleged human needs and encounter experiences. Essentially
the psychosociologists disagreed with the occults on only
one point, albeit a crucial one they did not believe dreams and
visions could have physical properties.
Over time the psychosocial approach has evolved into more
conventionally defined skepticism. It is more popular in Britain
and the European continent than in the United States. Criticisms
of occult ufology within the UFO literature have focused
on its speculative nature and unfalsifiability. Beyond that, Keel
and Vallee have been accused of using dubious material, including
rumors and claims later exposed as hoaxes, to argue
their cases. Critics have also objected that the evidence linking
UFOs to other anomalous and paranormal manifestations is
slight. In the Journal of UFO Studies Thomas E. Bullard writes
of Rojcewicz and others
‘‘Claims about reality demand proof on the same terms that
we treat other scientific claims. What do we find instead The
phenomenological theories of alternate realities handicap
themselves with a well-nigh fatal combination of poor comparative
methodology and unsound structural components, and no
algebra of apologetics can transform these two minuses into a
plus. Speculations about the psychoid properties of archetypes
will not explain the physical effects of UFOs. If those physical
effects are genuine, then prove to me first that archetypes exist
and can have physical effects, or I will look for simpler and
more direct solutions elsewhere. Using one unproven theory to
support another is just a more sophisticated tautology, more
verbose but ultimately no more informative about the physical
world than identifying a bald man as hairless. In one sense this
tack is even less informative. It clouds the basic questions with
confusing masses of theory, distracting participants in the dialogue
to talk only about theories and forget the real issues. The
very proliferation of phenomenological theories with no way to
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Unidentified Flying Objects and the Occult
sort out the right from the wrong simply underscores the danger
that we may become more deeply mired in sophistry than
the Athenian Academy.’’
Another critic complained (in International UFO Reporter,
JanuaryFebruary 1994) that occult theories turn the UFO argument
on its head. The extreme experiential claims on which
occult ufologists have been fixated comprise the least compelling
evidence for the existence of UFOs. The best evidence—in
the form of radar trackings, landing traces, photographs—
suggests that at least some UFOs may be technological devices.
The extreme claims, even when related by apparently sincere
persons, amount only to stories. He went on
‘‘The fantastic entities described—fairies, merfolk, Blessed
Virgins, apparitions of all kinds—do not bless us with physical
evidence or even coherent pictures of themselves, their behaviors,
and their missions. Of such things we can say only that experiences
of them are possible, but the question of whether
these experiences are events is another matter altogether. If
events—in other words, occurrences amenable to incorporation
into consensus acceptance via traditional methods of scientific
documentation—they would force us to reinvent the world,
and they would give us real reason to believe fourth dimensions,
ethereal realms, superspectrums, and Magonias are
more than words without meaning or attempts to redefine God.
Nothing we have seen so far calls on us to embark on so daring
an undertaking.’’
Meanwhile, the saucerian movement, which in its present
form began in 1952 with contactees Adamski and Van Tassel,
goes on. The flamboyant figures of the early years, often suspected
(and often with reason) of conscious charlatanry, are
gone, but channelers and visionaries in the thousands still
claim to commune with space and extradimensional personalities.
An enormous literature of contactee lore and philosophy
circulates in books and newsletters and now on the Internet.
Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. Alien Animals. Harrisburg, Pa.
Stackpole Books, 1981.
Bullard, Thomas E. ‘‘Fresh Air, or Air Castles in Folklore
Theories’’ Journal of UFO Studies 4 (n.s., 1992) 165–73.
Clark, Jerome. The UFO Encyclopedia, Second Edition The
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