Yesterday, I was rewatching a video interview, conducted by psychologist Jeffrey Mishlove, with Joseph Burkes, MD (…a board certified specialist in internal medicine [and] coauthor of the chapter titled “Medical Healings Reported by UAP Contact Experiencers: An Analysis of the FREE Date” in the anthology Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness and Contact with Non Human Intelligence, Volume 1), who claims to have worked with a handful of people in the interest of exploring human-initiated contact with UFOs. You can watch the video here. It’s about an hour and twenty minutes.
What becomes the topical thrust of the conversation is Burkes’ hypothesis that whatever may be partly or wholly responsible for these phenomena has the capability of influencing humans’ perceptive functions, such that — for example — one person may see an apparent physical fact while another person, perhaps right next to them, sees something else, or nothing at all. Burkes brings this up first when recounting how he and a fellow viewer/contactee were watching the sky one night at a designated spot and kept seeing consecutive identical “shooting stars” — except that Burkes saw one “recording” (if such a word could be used), while his companion saw another. His companion then requested, several times, that Burkes be shown the other “recording”, which was obliged each time within seconds.
There is more to Burkes’ account concerning this. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is how such alleged manipulation seems to extend beyond UFO appearance into the domain of natural phenomena, or their representation. As usual, the biggest issue here is that none of this can be verified, although there are ongoing contemporary attempts at CE5 (Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind) with footage of alleged results. This interview recently put out on Mystery Wire concerns such attempts and footage.
Despite the deeply hypothetical quality of all this, I wonder if there is potential explanatory power here for the general question of why certain things are seen by certain people at certain times. I am reminded of the so-called Miracle of the Sun, from 1917, which involved a mass viewing of a bizarre aerial phenomenon, yet with a range of accounts so wide that some people said they did not see anything at all. I am also reminded of a 1950 account wherein the crew of a merchant ship reported seeing one object at the same time, yet the accounts radically differ in terms of reported duration, speed, size, and shape.
In such cases, there is not necessarily one possible reason for why the accounts ranged so dramatically; but if we want to be thorough, why not add to those reasons an external manipulation of viewers’ cognition?
This question — Why do so many abductees appear to eventually have positive associations with their experiences? — came to me when I watched an interview with Rey Hernandez, a UFO researcher and the author of a book entitled Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non Human Intelligence. As an article from late last year describes:
Around the world, tens of thousands of people have reported having encounters with a non-human intelligence. A group of academics has initiated a years-long global survey to find out why these experiences are being reported and how people are affected. […] Participants in the study are asked hundreds of questions in multiple surveys. […] In April the group will publish a three volume mega-report on the findings. The main conclusion is these experiences are frightening at first, but eventually, those who have multiple experiences end up seeing them as beneficial.
Stimulated by this interview, I wrote in an essay myself:
…in the famous case of Betty and Barney Hill, Betty recalled that, during her examination by a figure, “…he thrust [a] needle into her navel, which caused Betty agonizing pain, whereupon the leader waved his hand in front of her eyes and the pain vanished.” In many other cases precluding what seems to be physical experimentation, the individual who is panicking or terrified suddenly finds theirself inexplicably trusting of the being(s). I find it as fascinating as it is troubling that there is this common simultaneity of contactees being, as far as can be seen, manipulated [and traumatized], yet having the [ultimate] impression that these experiences were “positive.” Here, one could defer to the aforementioned element of mystery — that these are trials whose importance, and ultimate goodwill, is sensed by the experiencers alone, rendering their positive aspects inexplicable to the non-experiencer. Well, fine. People may believe they have been given positive existential insight — but their accounts of who these beings are, what their purposes are, and what their knowledge of humanity’s future is remain largely incompatible. One wonders what the positivity is, really, if the information is comparatively conflicting and, if prophetic, unfulfilled.
I know that the question I am asking can’t be answered (at least, perhaps, not now), but I find it strange that we have significant contingents of people who have been abducted and returned, and people who have not had experiences themselves, who share the idea that all of this — the various UFO-related and -adjacent phenomena — is somehow to humanity’s benefit, despite the significant presence of traumatic effects and the phenomenon’s apparent manipulation of emotions and control of the subject’s body and clarity of mind. Is it so crazy to hypothesize that the the eventual association of positivity with these events may be an implanted suggestion by the phenomenon itself, exceeding an individual’s autonomous thought?
The thing that I want to drive at is not a conclusion about malicious intent but the redirection towards another question, which is: why is the cultivation of more intense religious feeling on the part of abductees necessarily an unambiguously good thing, especially if one is interested in making connections between UFO phenomena and the development of religious movements? Intense religious feeling can lead one to believe that anything one does, thinks, or feels is justified if it fits the parameters of that religiosity. Let us not forget that one of the things the “lady” of Fátima asked the three children to do was, bizarrely, “to pray a lot, a lot for the sinners and sacrifice a lot, as many souls perish in hell because nobody is praying or making sacrifices for them.”
A final question: by what right does the phenomenon impose itself upon us? We could shrug and say that there is an agency here which in its potential unknowableness, due to an insuperable intellectual makeup or development, makes the ethical question irrelevant; but isn’t that another way of saying “Might makes right”? Even if the traumatic aspect may lead to, or be turned into, a better sense of personhood (however this may be defined), we are potentially characterizing what may be a paranormal intellectual intentionality as if it were a natural force beyond moral judgment. I don’t know if that’s a good idea.
In thinking on the noted absurdities of the phenomenon, I wonder if the crafts’ appearances are not a part of that equation. We seem to have some sense that convincing footage would look “real” — that immediately we would be able to draw level-headed comparisons between it and our own technology — yet I wonder how true that would be. Is it not possible, rather, that the appearance of a craft, were we to see it up close and in high detail, would look uncanny? Might it, in fact, look more unreal than real?
This came to my mind while reviewing supposed-contactee Billy Meier’s photographs of what he claims to be UFOs. I’m not taking a stance here regarding the authenticity/inauthenticity of what Meier has claimed or the photos’ content, but it is interesting that the photos have largely been casually dismissed on the basis of them looking “obviously like models.”
There is some story that’s been passed around for a while now that when a certain group of native people saw the ships of foreigners on the water, the sight was so outside of their realm of normalcy or mundanity that they did not cognitively register the sight. It seems that there’s very little supportive evidence for this story — at least for its drawn conclusion — , and I don’t know how it gained traction. Perhaps people couldn’t believe that an indigenous tribe wouldn’t militarily mobilize at the sight, and interpreted inaction as “blindness.” I mention it because I wonder if we can reorient its narrative to suggest the possibility that, even if most people today live among some level of “high-tech” development and are aware of inventions like airplanes, there still may be such a gap between our points of reference and UAP craft that, were we to see one up close, it might be something like people in 18th-century Germany witnessing, say, from a distance of twenty or thirty feet, our sleekest and most modern self-driving car.
Moreover, we should consider that, for decades now, we’ve pre-viewed UFOs through shows and movies wherein they are downsized physical constructions or computer-generated models; or both. In this sense, we have been primed to view and understand a phenomenon through the context of fiction. Were that fiction to become real, and were it to be rendered unambiguously, I think it would create a highly surreal impression.