Towards the end of last year I had a number of experiences which lead me to believe that taking a step back from the UFO subject was probably a healthy thing to do. I needed time to process them. I have no doubt in my mind that my experiences were results of genuine phenomena, but what the phenomena actually were and what they tell us about ourselves and the universe is open to question and debate. I’ve been convinced for some time that dissembling is often present within UFO and paranormal phenomena, so the idea of taking the experiences at face value or taking the empirical evidence literally seems foolish.
The one thing that can be said with certainty is that the UFO subject – real or not – has shaped our modern culture. It is one of the most searched terms on the internet, it dominates movies and television, and it even plays a role in shaping our beliefs. Our culture, almost without question, links the UFO subject with extra-terrestrial visitation.
But what if that isn’t the case? Or – more likely, in my opinion – what if the phenomenon is multi-faceted and no single explanation accounts for all genuine UFO sightings? What if the answer to many of these unexplained experiences was something far more esoteric than ET visitation? Maybe something we haven’t even considered yet?
To me, it seems awfully arrogant to believe that unexplainable things can’t and don’t happen. We live in a vast universe and know very little about how it all works, how our brains work, what a soul is, what consciousness really is and how it connects us to one another, or even how we got here. And even with all our current technology, there are still unexplored corners of Earth. We are constantly discovering new things, having to adapt our science and ways of thinking to compensate for the latest findings. If we took a step back in time even a decade, we could barely comprehend the computer processing power we have today.
But does that mean that UFOs exist? That Bigfoot exists? That ghosts exist?
Not necessarily. But I’ve seen UFOs, I’ve had some pretty crazy experiences and I’ve had unexplainable things happen to me. That’s why I am doing what I am doing. You may be skeptical because you haven’t had these experiences. I can’t fault anyone for that. I doubt I would believe any of it if I hadn’t experienced it myself either, so I welcome skeptical viewpoints and debate in all aspects of paranormal research. A good skeptical argument may just be the one thing that stops us from falling down the rabbit hole – or at least guides us gently down it.
People who spend any time considering the UFO phenomena seem to fall into roughly three groups: the definitive believers (or “paranormalists”, to use the more recent term), the skeptics, and the debunkers.
Skeptics and debunkers would probably label me a paranormalist/believer, but that isn’t necessarily how I see myself. Just because I believe that unexplainable things happen doesn’t mean I blindly believe in ALL alleged paranormal phenomena and that ALL UFO cases are real. I try to approach each case with an open mind and judge it on its own merits: the evidence, the eye-witness testimonies, the conditions in which the event allegedly occurred. In my own experiences, I am even more careful to avoid jumping to any conclusions.
Can anyone say with 100% certainty that an event occurred in the way that it was reported? No, never. Can I say that an experience I had happened exactly as I recall it? No, never. I rarely draw a definite conclusion that a case is real, and it is actually easier for me to draw a conclusion that something is probably bogus or simply misidentified and may be conventional in nature, but I try not to be dismissive.
I have to admit that previously, reading reports of love-and-light beings from the Pleiades, cat beings from Sirius, the Council of 9, malevolent and vampyric beings who bring couples together to feed on their sexual and emotional energy, reptilian aggressors that rape victims (after shape-shifting from Queen Elizabeth II and family, of course) and the endless steam of grainy videos on YouTube depicting nondescript and distinctly non-impressive lights in the sky – such things tended to make me feel that I was more aligned to a skeptical point of view than that of a conventional believer in some instances.
I believe that it is absolutely essential to the credibility of paranormal research to have skeptical lines of enquiry. It keeps the subject honest and can lead to further debate in what is a vastly complex array of experiences. However, if you are coming to the subject from the outset to try and disprove that anything unusual has ever happened, then you are not a skeptic, you are a debunker. And therein lies a huge difference.
Skepticism is healthy and encourages rigorous questions and investigation. Debunking is destructive by definition and involves an agenda with predetermined conclusions; it is blind denial, making it just as foolish and pointless as blind belief. Unfortunately, there are a lot of debunkers out there who are claiming to be skeptics.
It’s important to remember that just because we can’t prove something happened or find any evidence of the event, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen – unless you are a debunker.
Debunking, rather than skepticism, has been the mainstream media’s viewpoint for much of the past 50 years. This combination of dismissal and ridicule has largely been successful in keeping serious research away from the UFO and paranormal subjects, with the notable exception of the military-industrial complex and the odd, renegade, academic paranormalists – often coming to the field as a result of their own experiences.
Even more frustrating are the dogmatic statements asked over and over by members of the media, which both spring from and encourage a debunking stance:
‘Where’s the evidence?’ (There’s actually rather a lot).
‘He must be crazy.’ (Where’s the evidence for that?)
‘It’s all in the mind.’ (Where’s the evidence for that?)
‘That little green men nonsense again.’ (Mostly grey and blue… but, OK, occasionally green.)
This kind of coverage of the subject ignores the millions of people who claim to have witnessed these phenomena, the multiple-witness events, and the most convincing evidence. YES, contrary to popular belief , there is plenty of evidence. J Allen Hynek, godfather of modern ufology and scientific consultant to Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book (the official USAF projects that studied the UFO phenomenon between 1947 and 1969), was once asked: “Where is the evidence?” He amusingly replied; “Where do you want the truck to stop?”
The internet and alternative media have brought a revolution in freedom of information never before seen in modern times. The huge interest in these subjects will possibly lead to many more recorded experiences and sightings, as the phenomena interact with the consciousness of freshly open minds. As this flood of new data streams in, it is up to us all (skeptic and paranormalist alike) to examine the cases and evidence with a healthy balance of skepticism and open-mindedness, yet with the respect they deserve. There is no room for blind faith on the part of the paranormalist, nor debunkery on the part of the skeptic, if we are ever going to reach a greater understanding of the universe we live in.