The Magical Swimming Pool of Ufology's Future
To abandon interpretation to scientism is to shirk natural philosophy’s most sacred duty. Your tribe deserves better. And if you feel some residual squeamishness over who has legitimacy of interpretation in our culture, consider this. We are wholly justified in turning the question on its head and asking the scientists what it is they think they are doing swimming in our pool in the first place. – Gordon White, Star.Ships
The materialist paradigm is broken. It is that simple. For those who haven’t been paying attention, there is no shortage of scientifically sound, peer-reviewed work suggesting that the foundation of reality is based off consciousness rather than matter. Consider for example the proof of measurable psi-phenomena from the likes of Dean Radin, or the validity of the Near Death Experience as illustrated in the work of Drs. Sam Parnia and Pim van Lommel. The amount of evidence is staggering; we even have tentative hypotheses describing this consciousness-based paradigm, as exemplified by Rupert Sheldrake’s proposed morphic resonance model.
Remember—it’s not necessary for a bulletproof model addressing the importance of consciousness to overturn and replace the entire materialist worldview overnight. Its sovereignty only needs to be falsified once. Any of the aforementioned luminaries have at least called traditional materialism into question, if not outright put a stake through its heart (a stake which will likely never hit its mark as long as materialism’s “Brides of Dracula”—Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Richard Dawkins—have anything to say about it).
(no, that's a Bill Nighy vampire, not a Bill Nye vampire)
Materialism has become, to borrow a Biblical phrase, the broken reed of a staff. For the remainder of this entry to make sense, this must be understood. The materialist paradigm is broken.
Which brings us to a favorite subject: ufology. To be clear, I have a great deal of respect for old-guard ufologists, who have done more to advance their field than I likely ever will. I truly stand on the shoulders of giants. But, disclaimers aside, I feel the obligation of intellectual honesty pressing upon me to be critical of the nuts-and-bolts crowd. In the face of materialism’s death—not to mention the High Strangeness surrounding so many UFO reports—they still clutch to the hope of proving the existence of physical spacecraft piloted by flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials. I can empathize with this desire; after all, modern scientific sentiment hasn’t abandoned materialism (yet), and the desire for the cool kids to accept us is as strong a motivation at age 6 as it is at age 60. We all want an invitation to their lunch table.
And yet… the phenomenon has been nudging ufologists towards a consciousness-based solution for some time. Even some of the more credible stories are filled with details that push materialism to its breaking point; while Arthur C. Clarke’s adage that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” remains true as ever, UFO reports and abductions are occasionally filled with details so bizarre, so reality-warping that they literally could not be the result of technology (at least in any manner that doesn’t force us to completely redefine our understanding of “technology”). To wit, there is an irony in Clarke’s statement: if any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, then any magic is indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology.
By “magic,” I refer to the manner in which Gordon White, chaos magician (and one of my absolute favorite paranormal commentators), defines it:
Magic is a culture-specific response to naturally occurring consciousness effects like telepathy, and precognition, and all these normal things that as humans, with a normal-functioning mind, we experience… If you look from Australian Aboriginal tribes to chaos magicians in 2015 London, the quote unquote “powers” or the quote unquote “effects” that you can achieve with magic pretty much boil down to the same four or five things: telepathy, precognition (so seeing the future, clairvoyance, whatever you want to call it), visiting the other world, and in some way, trafficking with the spirits.
White’s definition makes “magic” much more palatable to those of us emerging from the dark cavern of materialism, blinking in the bright light of a consciousness-based dawn. In this sense, we see a great deal of “magic” in the UFO literature: astral projection, communing with spirits and ancestors, intensely profound synchronicities, and, of course, telepathy.
This last example is the perfect tangible detail to illustrate how wrongheaded the materialist approach to ufology can be. An excellent example of this is Stanton Friedman (perhaps the nuts-and-boltsy-est of nuts-and-bolts ufologists), who had this to say about telepathy and "extraterrestrials":
I’m convinced that any advanced civilization will know about telepathy and mind control and communication at a distance. It really came home to me when I was standing at the exact location where Barney Hill was standing when the saucer was over their car and he’s looking through binoculars at the crew on board.
For no good reason, they jumped back in the car, very frightened, and they get off the main road, Route 3, and they go onto a secondary road. Then they go onto a dirt road—which Barney would never have done. And he winds up alongside the only place in the area where you could land a, let’s say 80-foot in diameter, flying saucer. It was a sandy area, there were trees all over the place, but this area was big enough to get a saucer like the one they described down. It was clear proof to me that these guys were directing his actions.
It seems to me eminently clear that these guys have capabilities—as the only simple term I know—to do things that we don’t look upon as being respectable. Such as mind-reading, mind control, and getting people to forget.
Look, I respect the hell out of Friedman, who has done more to legitimize and promote ufology than just about any other living human being. His views have defined much of modern ufological thought.
Having said that… wait, what? If you are entertaining (or are “convinced”) that telepathy is something that exists, you are already engaging in a line of thought the materialist establishment finds anathema. These views are not out of step with other researchers who espouse a physical basis for the UFO phenomenon—David Jacobs, for example, claims that extraterrestrials “can communicate telepathically with each other and with abductees.”
Put bluntly, a portion of their findings have arrived at a non-materialist conclusion, so why the need to force the entire phenomenon into a materialist paradigm? Why the need to talk about advanced propulsion systems aboard UFOs, hybrid programs, or strange metal crash debris at Roswell, when the evidence suggests that these beings have harnessed control over consciousness itself? If these intelligences operate beyond the restraints of commonly accepted scientific thought, what else about their existence is immaterial?
Acceptance of telepathy by definition shatters materialism, opening up possibilities much more “magical,” in the Whiteian sense. If these intelligences can engage in telepathy, they might be projecting entire experiences into the minds of witnesses, with no physical presence at all. They may be indeed be extraterrestrials, but might be sitting comfortably at home 10,000 light years away, having never traveled to Earth. They may be manifestations of the human collective unconsciousness. They may be spirits, tied to our existence and communicating in symbolism.
Acknowledgment of telepathy in these encounters puts literally every option back on the table.
It is for this very reason that I hope ufology can shift its focus, seeking answers not from
burn marks on the ground but from consciousness studies. If traditional, old-guard ufologists hold a view that UFOs are 90% material (spaceships, biological ETs) with a 10% smattering of non-material attributes (telepathy, screen memories), perhaps it’s time to flip that ratio on its head: a largely immaterial phenomenon that somehow manifests itself in a handful of physical ways.
This is not to say that we need to abandon rationality in favor of an airy-fairy, light-language channeling, New Age approach devoid of evidence. To the contrary, I suggest ufologists focus on consciousness studies because we need more level-headed researchers infiltrating the New Age ranks, accepting the general truths espoused therein while critically (and justly) tossing out the nonsensical rubbish that many naïve Light Workers have grafted on. There is magic in science, and science in magic; accepting one whole cloth while abandoning the other leaves ufologists with an enormous blind spot.
This is, in my opinion, the only way for ufology to progress in any meaningful way.
We—ufologists, Forteans, cryptozoologists, etc.—need to become comfortable with the notion that we do not answer to the materialist paradigm. And we don’t have to… the walls are tumbling down as we speak. If the evidence suggests consciousness is at the forefront of these phenomena, we shouldn’t dismiss or shy away from it. We should lean into it.
Now ask yourself: whose pool am I swimming in?