Do Beliefs Determine UFO Existence?


Unidentified flying objects, alien abductions, crop circles, all sorts of encounters with alien beings – this is the stuff of the extraordinary, far outside our, ordinary, consensual reality. But these events do happen, they often have multiple witnesses, and they leave “nuts and bolts” evidence behind.

For the most part, science, as we know it, has neither the paradigm nor the knowledge to explain these events. Therefore, mainstream science chooses to ignore these phenomena, these untidy aberrations. But it is through the study of the aberrant, that which falls outside the current understandings, that great leaps in our technology and cosmology occur.

Unfortunately, in science, more than any other discipline, fear of change is rampant. In this arena, the maintenance of income depends on toeing the party line, radical and heretical new ideas are discouraged, the government funding of grants depends on the conservative course, and careers and reputations are easily destroyed if thought ranges too far from center.

Yet there are those investigators of these phenomena (ufologists — scientists who support UFO research) who, by virtue of their academic and scientific achievements and credentials, do manage to pursue the mysteries of the universe. They do not question, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that these things happen – rather, they ask how, and why. A number of these ufologists gathered at The Science Museum of Minnesota in November 1994, to share their information, and inspire each other with the depth and brilliance of their insights.

Symposium coordinator Terry Hansen, science journalist and editor-in-chief of Puget Sound Computer User, commented in his opening statements, “The American government now has over one trillion classified documents. Increasingly, the trend is to conduct science in secret, so there’s decreased freedom to pursue knowledge or communicate findings. Routinely, scientists sign away freedoms in order to work on government-funded projects. We now have very good reason to doubt what we are told about the world.”

In that vein, this conference was set up to examine the scientific approach to UFO phenomena, as well as the political reasons for government research-stifling and massive cover-ups. Behind the scenes, participants steadily discussed the possible meaning of it all.

Conference lecturers demonstrated the following:

  • There are definitely UFOs, sighted since prehistoric times, by tens of thousands of people, that create a multitude of physical effects on the environment or objects near them, leave physical debris, are frequently photographed, and may be observed on radar.
  • There appears to be a concerted government effort to classify all material pertinent to these events.
  • Two percent of the population reports alien abduction.
  • Many of the physical effects created by UFOs can be reproduced by the effects of magnetism and microwave.
  • Over 50 percent see or experience UFO phenomena, with the young and the well-educated being more likely to report them.
  • There is an intriguing video, taken during Space Shuttle Challenger’s 1991 flight, that clearly shows multiple UFOs.

Dr. Ron Westrum, sociologist with the Department of Interdisciplinary Technology at Eastern Michigan University, examines the sociologic issues of UFO phenomena. With a set of five indicator questions, he screens for those with abduction experiences:

  • Do you have a period of unexplainable missing time?
  • Do you remember a time when you found yourself flying through the air?
  • Do you have any unexplainable, unusual scars?
  • Do you remember balls of light flying around the room?
  • Have you awakened paralyzed, with a strange figure standing by the bed?

“Yes” to four of these questions indicates a probable “abductee.” Since two percent of the population answers “yes” to at least four, perhaps five to ten million Americans may have experienced some connection with alien beings. Why is there no press mention of these encounters, no everyday discussion? Why is the talk of UFOs and aliens relegated to the popular culture– “The X Files” and other TV shows, The National Enquirer, science fiction?

Several experts commented on this question. Dr. Michael Zimmerman, Department of Philosophy, Tulane University, said the prevailing attitude among scientists and the population is, “It can’t be, therefore, it isn’t.” And, “Seeing is not believing. Scientists will simply not see if it doesn’t fit the prevailing belief system.”

And Stanton Friedman, nuclear physicist, ufologist, author and international lecturer, says the attitude of our government regarding UFO phenomena is, “What the public doesn’t know, we’re not going to tell them.” Dr. John Mack, psychiatrist and Pulitzer prize-winning author of the current Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens (Scribner’s, 1994), notes a pervasive “collective resistance to knowing.”

Professor Jack Kasher, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nebraska, is the ufologist who analyzed the Shuttle Challenger video. In a 100-page report, he proved the objects seen on the video could be nothing other than vehicles manned by intelligent beings, despite NASA’s official ice crystal explanation.

What do you think this whole UFO phenomenon may be about?
Professor Jack Kasher: It’s a very multifaceted problem. I think there are a number of different civilizations presenting here, some ethical and some unethical. Most likely the government is more deeply involved than we think, to the point  I believe we would be enraged if we had any idea just how deeply. The subject is so important we really need to have people do it as their regular line of work. Right now we have to bootleg and do this on the side. We shouldn’t have to do that. This should be mainstream research.

Is there any attempt to try to think about new paradigms as ways of evaluating this UFO situation?
Kasher: Those ideas are being examined, although not in the main scientific community. I think physics needs to expand itself to look at these things, too, as well as other aspects of the paranormal. This is the way the world works, and I think we have to admit as scientists that our science breaks down in the presence of these phenomena.

We shouldn’t consider we have our own little area and anything outside of that isn’t real. Rather, we should consider we have our own little area because that’s as good as we can do, but there still is a whole lot of stuff outside that is real. In teaching, the point I continually make is these things are beyond what science can handle, but that is science’s problem.

For instance, physics can now theoretically tele-transport an object, just like in “Star Trek.” No one’s done it yet, but at this point physics is forced to deal with a judgment on whether the soul is real and whether it will separate from the body if we get to the point where we start teleporting people.

Dr. Zimmerman, from the point of view of a philosopher, what role do you think these manifestations might play in our consciousness or in our history as a species?
Dr. Michael Zimmerman: I have intuitions about it, and some of the most famous ufologists have argued for years that UFOs are nothing new, that they show up in the guise, the clothing, the craft, that are consistent with the times. For this reason, they don’t seem to literally be spacecraft from other planets. Rather, they seem to be visitors from other dimensions, other wavelength bands in the electromagnetic spectrum, etc.

We ought to have a number of hypotheses. They might have something to do with our evolution as a species, perhaps even genetically shaping and engineering us. Perhaps these entities routinely intervene at different crucial moments in the human evolution of consciousness.

Well, how can science hope to approach these questions?
Zimmerman: Scientists must be willing to abandon their own ideas and theories if others prove better, no matter how personally or professionally costly. And it can be quite costly — heretics are badly punished.

Stanton Friedman, I have the sense, after hearing your lecture and reading your material, that one of your roles in the ufology arena is to be the tenacious bulldog on the pant leg of ignorance, closed-mindedness, and sloppy research.
Stanton Friedman: Yes, I go after things, I’m a good detective. In a sense, I agree with Carl Sagan about one thing-extraordinary claims require extraordinary investigation, not extraordinary evidence, I would add, but you have to check into things. Many investigators have the tendency to convert what might have been into what must have been. I cannot let it all go by.

What do you see as the importance of what you’re doing?
Friedman: My personal feeling is that the future of mankind is inexorably intertwined with outer space and that just as North and South America were important to the future of Europe 300 years ago, our grandchildren are going to be connected with space. Our problems will be solved here but we are part of a larger system, and it’s time we recognize that. Waiting isn’t going to help any. What I’m trying to do is change the world. The way you do that, in my view, is to present facts and data and interpretation in a way that people can understand, that isn’t frightening,but that gives them some insight.


Dr. John Mack has braved the ridicule of the scientific community with his book about abductions — a book that has, by virtue of his impressive credentials and professionalism, helped to legitimize this phenomenon. He quotes the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in suggesting of all the domains of our spirit, “the senses by which we could have grasped them have atrophied.” He further comments that, “We rarely stop to think that what we have come to accept as real may be determined by individuals and groups whose point of view in a culture at a given time is seen as authoritative, or who have the power to impose upon the rest of the society their methods and criteria for perceiving and defining reality.”

Dr. Mack feels there is an intentionality in the abduction phenomenon, and points to some of the profound spiritual changes and broader transpersonal awareness in some of the abductees.

And finally, he leaves us with this challenging question: “Where is the margin between technologies that are so advanced we don’t understand them, and new paradigms of reality?”

Perhaps our “collective resistance to knowing” is a species’ protective mechanism, shielding our fragile psyches from too much consciousness or experience outside our reality. Perhaps it’s our fear and resistance to knowing that keeps us all collectively to some cohesive norm, moving along slowly in our little reality, oblivious to most of the fullness of other realities happening about us all the time. Perhaps the occasional glimpses into some other dimension serve as forerunners of what else there is, to gradually desensitize us to the frightful, unexplained vastness of it all, to ease us gradually into more complete knowledge and vision.

Indicators seem to suggest that in our lifetime some of these many puzzles will become the stuff of everyday understanding, and ours will be a very different world indeed when that happens.

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Jan Thatcher Adams
Jan Thatcher Adams, M.D., has been in active Family Practice at Sundance Clinic in Shakopee for 20 years. In addition, she is Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Practice, University of Minnesota Medical School.


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