Saturday, December 15, 2007

Signal to Noise: The Contactees: My Response

Daniel Brenton’s first Signal to Noise on the Contactees.

I Believe Them, I Just Don’t Take Them Literally
To Daniel Brenton’s credit, he acknowledges that, in spite of his opinions on the Contactees, the subject should be studied with both a seriousness and openness:
It is fair to say that my inclination toward Adamski’s story is that he was a charlatan, which can’t help but invalidate his story, but I am open to discuss any compelling evidence that suggests the picture may be more complex.

We need to take them seriously, not just reject them for being quaint kooks. Daniel writes that the Contactees, like George Adamski, couldn’t possibly have made the outer space journeys to Venus and the like, because it’s just impossible, given the physics involved. Also, their reports of what it was like on these planets were clearly fantastical, not meshing in any way with what we know. I don’t take them literally, but I believe them. I don’t believe them in this sense: I don’t believe they literally went to Venus, or Mars, or any other planet. In fact, I don't think they ever left the desert. However, I believe they thought they left the desert. But this doesn’t mean the Contactees were lying.something happened to these Contactees that was profound. Yes, their experiences were off the edge, but much of both UFO and anomalous phenomena is off the the edge as well as nonsensical.

The nonsensical aspect to encounters shouldn’t, as it too often does, be a means to dismiss them completely. We can learn from these so-called “nonsensical” behaviors of “them.” Whoever “they” are.

“They” whether they be aliens from space, entities here on earth, military/government spooks, inner earth dwelling nazis, or a combination, have been playing games with us for a very long time. They change the props and sets, but continue on with us, manifesting before us with abandon. We choose to either watch and listen and maybe learn, or deny, ignore, and debunk.

I suppose it’s a matter of perspective. If one remains stuck in the opinion the UFO phenomena is pretty much just nuts and bolts -- literal ETs from a literal planet -- we’re not going to get anywhere. And that goes for understanding the Contactees as well.

We Need the Circus
We can’t separate ourselves from the phenomena. We’re more participants than some of us might think. As Colin Bennett said in his book on Adamski Looking for Orthon, we need the so-called circus like aspect of the weird, including UFOs:
Odd folk trouble Authority if only because it doesn’t understand them. Weird views are not directly criminal, yet they subvert society in a much more subtle way.
Adamski and the other Contactees were certainly “odd folk.” But Bennett insists we need their presence:
“We need him (Adamski) if only because his views are quite wonderfully absurd.

It doesn't matter if what they experienced “really” happened as they say it did, or if some of it did, and some of it didn’t. Each time something surreal, absurd and fantastic happens -- something Fortean and anomalous -- we can choose to really look at it, or, do our best to deflate it.

Our reactions to the Contactees is as much a part of the phenomena as anything. In fact, the “odd folk” are the jesters we need. We need them to jar us out of complacency and assumption of the mundane as the only paradigm. We need them to make us go “What the . . .?!” There are dozens of reasons why we need the Contactees, and other “odd folk.” The minute we tell ourselves they’re nothing more than worthless frauds or kooks and get rid of them, we lose a lot of ground in ever understanding the UFO phenomena.

Another point Bennett makes about the Contactees and these weird experiences, is what it shows us about imagination, creativity, and our active presence in the phenomena. Trips to Venus didn’t happen, okay. That’s not the end of things, however:
"Adamski certainly made seemingly nonsensical statements, such as saying Venus is inhabited by human-like forms. though this might indeed appear to be nonsense, it certainly brings the picture of such an absurdity into a mind, though momentarily. Though the mind may reject immediately such rubbish, nevertheless, for a fleeting instant, it has created a picture o fan inhabited Venus, if only to reject the image immediately. This fleeting act of imagination is the very first minute building block of a possible universe in which Venus might indeed be populated in the manner describes by Adamski."(Bennett: pp141-142)

Daniel cites Curtis Peebles:
In the late 1980s I ran across the Curtis Peebles commentary from his Watch the Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth that followers of Adamski reported. During Prohibition Adamski had founded a monastery in Laguna Beach and acquired a license to make wine for religious purposes. He claimed he had made “enough wine for all of Southern California” and cursed Roosevelt for the repeal of Prohibition. If not for that, he said “I wouldn’t had to get into this saucer crap.”

That’s pretty damning.

Peebles is an avowed skeptic:
I am a skeptic. I believe flying saucer reports are misinterpretations of conventional objects, phenomena, and experiences. I do not believe the evidence indicates the Earth is under massive surveillance by disk-shaped alien spaceships."

His view of the Contactees is certainly colored by his beliefs. (To be fair, he does tell readers to “make up their own minds,” regarding UFOs.)
As to Adamski’s statement about getting” into this saucer crap,” (if true) it’s a moot point, given the context of the Contactee phenomena. (Again, this isn't to say Adamski could have been full of crap, or deny that he said this. One interpretation could be he meant that this "flying saucer crap" was something he wouldn't wish on anyone.)

The Nonsensical

Daniel discusses another Contactee, Truman Bethurum, author of The Flying Saucers Have Landed.:
A few things did jump out at me:

* The location of the planet Captain Rhanes and crew came from — “Clarion” — was explicitly “behind the Moon.” Up until that point, most the references I had read about Bethurum said “behind the Sun.”

Not to go on at length, but it is possible for a small object (say, the size of a minor asteroid or less) to “hang” in a position about 30,000 miles over the far side of the Moon. (This has to do with mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange’s solution to “three-body problem” in celestial mechanics.) However, this so-called “Lagrange point” isn’t particularly stable, anything placed in it will eventually drift out, anything the size of a planet would upset the balance of that kind of relationship, and the Moon wouldn’t obscure it, to boot

Okay. But this isn’t the point; something happened in these deserts (and the fact they happen in deserts, mostly, is interesting in itself) that caused these Contactees to spend the rest of their lives insisting they were telling the truth.

Daniel cites a few more things from the book, such as the female entity Aura Rhanes drinking orange juice in a diner and disappearing when Bethurum followed her. Bethurum said he had eleven encounters, and Daniel writes that eleven is a “mystical number.” This reminds Daniel of the famous pancake story:
I was made aware of a very odd story through Jacques Vallee’s book Dimensions, which was apparently referenced in his earlier Passport to Magonia. On April 18, 1961, Joe Simonton of Eagle River, Wisconsin, had a 30 foot wide flying disk land near his house, and three short human-appearing occupants wearing uniforms with turtleneck shirts requested a jug of water from Simonton. In return they gave him three small crispy pancakes.

These pancakes were in fact analyzed and found to be perfectly ordinary.

Assuming the witness was truthful (he was found to be credible, even though his story wasn’t) then the event was real but nonsensical.

Perhaps Bethurum was in the same boat. Maybe Adamski was as well, even though it seems clear he is an unreliable source. It is a fairly common suggestion that some contactees may have started with a genuine experience, and, having nothing else to tell, made the choice to fabricate material to keep the audience interested.

I really don’t think that’s it. Although it’s true that some glitch happens in these kinds of encounters; Adamski clearly getting swept up by his world wide tour, where he presented his experiences to eager audiences, including celebrities and royalty, or Contactee Daniel Fry, who admitted lying about an encounter, these Contactees carried on with a sincere insistence about their experiences.


But then there are other things that throw more wrenches into the phenomena. Adamski wasn’t the sole witness to his flying saucers, there were other witnesses. Lou Zinsstag, in the book about Adamski: Their Man On Earth,talks about her own sightings and encounters with these beings. Daniel Fry appeared to be sincerely moved by what he experienced, and spent the rest of his life writing on spiritual matters; he had a newsletter and “followers’ although he made it clear the was not a leader of anything of any kind. George Van Tassel spent many years in the desert, building his Integratron. Van Tassel was convinced of the benefits of his machine like building -- inspiration courtesy of the aliens. The Contactee phenomena, like all of Fortean/UFOlogical events, has its share of synchronicities and odd juxtapositions; for example, Lou Zinsstag, Adamski’s Swiss liaison, was related to Carl Jung.

Adamski was visited on more than one occasion by military personnel; he was even asked to photograph the saucers for them! This reeks of some kind of mind control head game scenario, along the lines of what was done to Paul Bennewitz.

The photo below of Van Tassel's Integratron was taken in 1967 by a Richard T. Sandberg of Pomona, Calif. Sandberg insisted a "gleaming object loomed up" as he was taking the photo.

In an interview with Van Tassel, Long John Nebel (famous radio talk show host in the 1960s who interviewed many UFO researchers and witnesses) asked him about one of the entities called Solgando that had visited him in the desert:
I reminded George Van Tassel: that was three years ago and you mentioned that Solgando said he would be back to see you again. Has he ever contacted you since that time?

George's answer was elegantly simple: "No.

Van Tassel could have lied; and said that he was visited many times over. Why didn't he? Maybe because he was being truthful. (Interesting the name of the entity was Solgado -- Sol means sun in Spanish.)

There are other Contactees in this strange story. Howard Menger,in 1956, had his own experiences in New Jersey, not the desert. But his descriptions and photographs of craft are similar to the other Contactees, including Adamski's:

The Desert Stage
The desert is a perfect stage for these types of events. Remote, empty wide open spaces. A perfect setting for the aliens or other entities to do their performances. Underground (literally) nazis manipulating their UFOs and playing with us land dwellers. (I’m not serious about that one.) Contactee George Van Tassel claimed to use the coordinates of the Great Pyramid and Giant Rock as part of his plans, and insisted that the desert was a crucial element in ensuring the Integratron would successful. Or, the perfect setting for some kind of staged event by the military. Something about the whole quirky Contactee experience just smacks of the beginnings of the MILAB theory. (Military Abductions.) The Contactees experiences could have been pure liminal events, or a combination of these things. But the point is, there is much to learn from the Contactee Era, and it’s time we looked at anew with fresh approaches.

Parallels to Abduction and Other UFO Accounts
Van Tassel reports that he woke up one night to find someone standing at the foot of his bed. Sleeping out in the desert -- literally outside, due to the heat -- he awoke to find someone standing at the foot of their bed:
"I tried to waken the wife and she seemed to be under some spell.

Following Solgado to the UFO, Van Tassel began to feel ill:
"As I approached this ship with this man, I became very nauseated. And this feeling became greater as I got closer to the ship.

(The name Solgado -- "sol" meaning sun -- is one more Fortean grin of synchronicity in the Contactee play.)

The reports of telepathy, being moved against one's will, other potential witnesses unaware or in a deep sleep, the overall bizarreness of the phenomena parallel abduction and other UFO accounts. Were these Contactee experiences preludes to the abduction phenomena, caused either by non-human entities -- or humans, as in military ops?

Putting The Fortean Back In UFOlogy
Daniel concludes:
Looking at the question of the contactees, we have a segment of a the UFO mystery that begs for dismissal yet raises more questions. If we wish to categorize the overall phenomenon as “other people’s spaceships” we are forced, in a sense, to ignore the stories of these individuals, and with them an number of other aspects of the subject. In reality, for integrity’s sake we have to look at the entire picture — including the nonsensical parts — to reach a complete understanding.


Well, that wasn’t much of a smackdown, was it? We seem to agree more than not. I cannot stress how crucial it is for researchers to acknowledge what Daniel wrote:
“In reality, for integrity’s sake we have to look at the entire picture — including the nonsensical parts — to reach a complete understanding."

We need to expand our thinking, acknowledge our own involvement in this continuing performance, and not always take things literally or in such concrete, either or, black and white terms.

I don’t recall who said this some time ago (and if anyone knows, please tell me)- don’t know if it was Bennett or whom) but it was about the need to put the Fortean back into UFOlogy. Or, the other way around. The Fortean anomalous world has something at its core: the tension between the Trickster (cosmic joker, prankster, the Fool) and the Infrastructure. We have to understand that if we hope to get even a glimmer of understanding in these kinds of experiences.


Out in the deserts, several people had similar Contactees experiences. Why? Were they all simply deluded? Easy answer, but also the cheap way out. No, something more than just kooky victims of heat stroke occurred during that time, and we need to take a serious look at their experiences. Whatever happened; aliens, military mind games, or some sort of terrestrial entity, we'll never know if we simply brush the Contactees off as kooky hucksters.

Just the Surface
Obviously, a lot more can be said of all this; no doubt a weighty book or two. I've barely touched on any of this. I know I've only begun to research the Contactees; I have a lot to learn. I acknowledge I vacilate between the Contactee experience as being a true paranormal/Fortean experience, or a military/government mind game scenario (the abduction scenario being the sequel.) Either way, we owe it to UFOlogy to find out. Whatever the answer, ever since I first heard of the Contactees, I wondered, not "what the hell is wrong with these kooks?" but, "What has really happened to these people?"


Colin Bennett: Looking for Orthon

John Nebel: Contactees I Have Known

Daniel Brenton's Signal to Noise

Wikipedia: Curtis Peebles


Daniel Brenton said...

Regan --

As I mentioned in my email, I think there's still plenty to discuss here. I'll be putting my thoughts together shortly.

It would be nice to come to some kind of "unified field theory" concerning the Contactees, but I doubt that's possible, especially since so much time has passed since these folks were around and in the public eye.

The Milab /intelligence community experimentation angle certainly is worth considering. Also, it only seems natural that there has been speculation that these folks were "plants" in the who UFO arena to throw us off track, but barring any substantial verification on that, this could only be speculation.

I realize the posting on my blog pointing at your response implies we are done with this one, which isn't the case (sorry, I was pretty tired when I posted that last night). I'll revise that shortly.

Round three will be up in a few days.

Talk to you soon,

The Odd Little Universe of Daniel Brenton

R. Lee said...

Goody, round three! LOL.

nokidding said...

Then where are the open-minded and knowledge-thirsty researchers? As an abductee, I'm here to say that some of us "odd balls" would welcome being taken seriously. It would be a first in many lives as we are commonly treated like social pariah as a whole group.
Most of us carry on normal lives while keeping our experiences to ourselves for lack of a listener that cannot stop laughing (other than people like ourselves). What is it going to take for society to understand that there is indeed something happening to us and most of us would very much like to understand the who, what, when, where, why and how of the matter. Some of us, like myself, would even be willing to be "guinea pigs" for scientific research. Too bad science isn't ready for us, or so it seems.

drsivana99 said...

More and more, I lean toward concepts like those of Jacques Vallee and John Keel. I don't think the extraterrestrial hypothesis holds much water any longer. Whatever the truth might be behind the whole thing, it seems to be much stranger than that. I find it probable that we are dealing with something else entirely, and that something may be beyond our ability to properly perceive and conceptualize, much less investigate. Experiences related by abductees don't "feel" like accounts of the activities of alien explorers. They run a lot deeper, and into much darker territory. The dreamlike, nonsensical nature of so many occurrences argues that we are dealing with something-- whatever-- that does not subscribe to our ideas of logic, or even what we believe to be laws of physics.
Chuck Miller